Wrath of Titans antagonist / FRI 2-12-16 / Naval hero with five US counties named for him / Baby one is called cria / Cetacean's closest relative / Presenter of many listicles / Bega with hit Mambo No 5 / scholarly Everst / Conservation org with panda logo / sci-fi fole for Zoe Saldana / Region around star just right for habitable planets

Friday, February 12, 2016

Constructor: Brandon Hensley

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Anita O'DAY (6D: Jazz singer whose surname came from pig Latin) —
Anita O'Day (October 18, 1919 – November 23, 2006) was an American jazz singer.
Born Anita Belle Colton, O'Day was admired for her sense of rhythm and dynamics, and her early big band appearances shattered the traditional image of the "girl singer". Refusing to pander to any female stereotype, O'Day presented herself as a "hip" jazz musician, wearing a band jacket and skirt as opposed to an evening gown. She changed her surname from Colton to O'Day, pig Latin for "dough," slang for money. (wikipedia)
• • •

I remember thinking GOLDILOCKS ZONE would make a nice crossword answer the first time I heard it, five years or so ago (25A: Region around a star "just right" for habitable planets). It's a 14, and you don't see 14s very often (they are pains in the ass to construct grids around unless you really plan for them, for reasons I won't get into here; just trust me). I think 14s should be the new 15—constructors should hoard them and bring them out more often as marquee answers. They're really under-utilized. *Any*way, this puzzle might've been easier for me than it was for others because GOLDILOCKS ZONE came so readily. I have no idea how commonly known that phrase is. Of course everyone today is obsessed with this gravitational waves news (look for LIGO—Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory—coming to a grid near you, soon ... or not). But as for GOLDILOCKS ZONE, I'm not sure where I first heard it—probably from Neil deGrasse Tyson on "NOVA Science Now," which my daughter used to watch a lot. At any rate, it's the star (!) answer in this grid. CRY YOUR EYES OUT, also pretty wonderful. Most everything else is solid but unremarkable. Have we had BUZZFEED in a grid before? (64A: Presenter of many listicles) Feels ... not new, but that may just be because I solve the BUZZFEED crossword regularly and so the name has lost all 'zazz and novelty for me. Still looks nice in the grid. (PS, you should probably do today's BUZZFEED crossword—I haven't actually solved it yet, and I don't know what time of day it'll be up, but I know it's by Doug Peterson and Neville Fogarty, who are reliably fantastic) (Update: here it is)

This puzzle was very close to "Easy," but I got slowed down considerably in the final (SW) quadrant, and so while I still ended up on the easy side of things, I wasn't close to breaking any personal records. Always helpful when 1-Across is both long and a total gimme, as it was today (1A: One inclined to patronize a farmer's market => LOCAVORE).

After that my second through sixth answers into the grid were 4- through 8-Down, all in a row, bam bam bam (bam bam). After that, moved easily into the center of the grid and then NE and SW quadrants. Ended up not having an easy time entering the SW. DECATUR took some guessing (52A: Naval hero with five US counties named for him), and DYNASTY was very well hidden (some solvers affiliated with BUZZFEED were so eager to show off that their employer was in the puzzle that they tweeted spoilers just minutes after the puzzle went live ... which was partially annoying, but partially funny, in that the grid image I saw had some pretty important errors, one of which was WHISKEYS for 40D: Bourbons, e.g.; the other was GO FOR IT instead of GO CRAZY (20D: "Knock yourself out")). The classical lit dork in me loved the AENEID crossing ODYSSEYS crossing both GODDESS and ARES. That is one insane mythological party going on up there. Approved.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Da Bears 12:03 AM  

Nicely written, Rex. An enjoyable read.

kozmikvoid 12:22 AM  

This one was interesting to me in the fact that a few weeks ago there was that insanely easy Friday where everyone (including me) was up in arms that such a simple puzzle would appear on a typically challenging day. Well I scorched that time this week (by 3 minutes) and I have no qualms about it. This was just a smooth solve all around.

My first pass yielded a lot of "it's probably that but I'll wait to see if it fits." Then the SE dropped and every single "probably fits"...well, fit. I finished at GOLDILOCKSZONE only because that's where the solve took me. I knew it, but waited, because the habitable zone of a solar system has had many names.

If two massive black holes collide and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? You bet your ass it does!! Awesome day for science!!

jae 12:25 AM  

Easy medium for me too. My NW went much like Rex's, i.e. quickly. DECATUR was a gimme, but I had tAd before DAB, ones before YOUR, and sur before BEN which all contributed to the medium part.

I'd vote for Tyson as to why I knew GOLDILOCKS ZONE.

I'm with @Rex, lots of good stuff here, liked it.

George Barany 12:30 AM  

I'll second @Rex about the wonderfulness of AENEID crossing ODYSSEYS in @Brandon Hensley's puzzle, and yes, BUZZFEED (which autocorrect just tried to shorten to BUZZED) is indeed a @Shortz-era debut, along with (as could have been predicted) GOLDILOCKS_ZONE. I also liked the penicillin-centered clue for ACCIDENT, though as Louis Pasteur reportedly said, "Chance favors the prepared mind" (Alexander Fleming was surely taking notes).

ROYALTY seemed like a reasonable answer for the spot eventually taken by DYNASTY, which jibed with CRY_ONE'S_EYES_OUT ahead of ...YOUR... [besides, ONE_OWNER satisfies the "ONEsies" craving]. The TEES clue was cute, but not in a puzzle with TEEVEE. HE'D and HEED in the same puzzle: fun. PETE_ROSE: not so much ... did anyone else see his cameo in a Super Bowl ad promoting a professional sports betting app?

jae 12:45 AM  

And, if you'd like to see Zoe Saldana in a non-syfy role I would recommend Infinitely Polar Bear. Spoiler alert - no car chases and no violence.

Alby 4:58 AM  

Had VERT for VERB, which tripped me up for the longest. Also had EDUSA for UHURA through a series of missteps. Guess the Wrath of the Titans clue and ODYSSEYS and AENEID had me thinking there was a Greek mythology theme. (MEDUSA with her head -- the letter M -- cut off, maybe?) Other than that, interesting how many double letters there are. I count 17.

Loren Muse Smith 6:47 AM  

Well heck. I finally threw in the towel because I just couldn't see HIPPO and would have not been able to spell PILSENER. Further, with GOD in place, I was totally going for the bombshell of a revelation that flabbergasts you. And besides, Raquel Welch is a bombshell. Audrey Hepburn is a GODDESS.

Oh, and I didn't know GOLDILOCK ZONE, so I had "Goldilock space," marveling that there weren't two S's.

"irk," "nag" before ADO
"chips" before SKINS
"lps" before EPS
"nicely" before NEATLY. Hey, just track the word nice in the OED, and you see it recently meant "precise."

I'm so glad I had to erase "ones" and put in YOUR. So much better on the ears.

Liked BYE under ALSO RANS. See you in the funny papers, buddy. And OOZING OOLONG. Holy oozing oolong, Batman! He's hidden the drugs in the Nestea jar!

LOCAVORE is a cool word. I guess you could say that in college, my husband was often a broke-a-vore; just seven eggs to get him through the day, ketchup on saltines… And when I'm snowed in for a few days, the fourth time I go to the fridge thinking that Brie just has to still be there, the third time I drag a chair over to access the very back of the cabinet, digging for that can of black olives, I guess I'm a hope-a-vore.

Rex – after a day of hearing my son use HUNDRED PERCENT, meaning "absolutely," again and again and then hearing it on some TV show over and over, I thought it'd be cool to use it as a seed for a themeless. I did some digging and copied one of Doug Peterson's grids with two fourteens. And fell, again, flat on my face.

I would pay good money for a session with an established themeless constructor for some lessons. I'd rather spend my Friday night at the ACPT doing that, if anyone out there is listening…have your people call my people.

Dorothy Biggs 7:38 AM  

A rare DNF for me due to the NW's LOCAVORE/VERB/ODAY/RUNE/BYE cluster f*!@. I should've known better that VERB was the answer there given the other meta (Butt ending?) crap. And by Tolkien "character" I thought, you know, character...either a name or a kind of critter found in those books. Again, in the spirit of the meta, character is self-referential. Might as well dip from that well as often as possible.

I didn't know that ELM was a thing for cabinets. ELM? I'm going to start asking around to my constructor friends to see what kind of wood they commonly use for cabinets. They better say elm. Otherwise, we're not even trying here...just naming woods that could be used in making stuff. Like cabinets, for instance.

CORDS was another ugh for me. I work at a university with all students wearing all the hip, new whatever is going on these days clothing. I have seen a pair of cords in a long, long time. Obviously, I had jeanS to start.

I agree with Rex...the Buzzfeed puzzle is excellent. The rest of the site, not so much.

HED should not be in any grid unless you can include the apostrophe with it.

There was something a bit "too" about this puzzle. Didn't care for it.

GILL I. 8:03 AM  

Well, I liked ANOUK crossing GODDESS.
Oof - but in a good way..Lots to love here but boy did I scratch my head at 1D. I thought, what a stupid redundant clue. Cria in Spanish means baby and I'm thinking what is a baby baby? My only Google, which infuriated me because Spanish is my first language.
I've never heard of GOLDILOCKS ZONE but it was certainly gettable. ASTDABALIERS in the middle reminds me of @Rex and his coinages.
I suppose I should look up EPS and HOB because I play GOD when I want to be disruptive. I also hope to see listicles as an answer some day although it might be misconstrued.
Good work-out and lots of fun except for CRIA! Damn....

1820 Stone Colonial House 9:10 AM  

My wife thought I was having some sort of seizure as I sat at the table experimenting with how a human could possibly articulate the phrase "Huh-uh!", and what they would possibly be trying to communicate. Couldn't get my lips or my head around it. Muddled through though and finished. Nice Friday puzzle.

Unknown 9:28 AM  

Right off the bat, I find the NE. There’s a block of 40 squares (depending on how you count) where 32 are for proper names and only 8 are exclusively part of “normal” words. None of those names jumped out of the old noggin. Total Natick. Going through the rest of the grid without trying to solve and (except for a couple too obvious), I find what looks like a plethora of other names for which I have no clue.

Then I make a first pass through the whole grid with the intent to solve, I end up with a mere handful of letters here and there.

knowing the song, I got “HE’D” for 49a. So, some help with the downs? Two proper names I don’t know and possibly a third. Got the only other musical clue I knew right away - EPS - having just refreshed my knowledge of record formats for a past “Side A / Side B” discussion

I finally decided to clear the few letters I had and put an “X” in each square that was a letter in a proper name. Looking at the crosses for those, whatever wavelength Mr. Hensley was on wasn’t mine. As well, the clues were not ‘speaking’ to me, saying, “This will be fun / rewarding / interesting to solve.” So I start to write this with 15 letters filled in. Oops, make that 12. For grins, I just checked one answer I was sure of and nope. Big “Sur” it ain’t.

I was IN A DAZE So without further adieu and not to GO CRAZY, I decided to bid this puzzle adieu and reveal it all. Reviewing the answers, I see some “good” ones I might/could have gotten. Overall view? I made the right choice in not trying to what would have been a slog with, I’m sure, many cheats and only a few “Ahas.”.

Sorry to say, this was a bad puzzle….for me. And that’s unusual. I usually don’t give up.

@NCA President 7:38 AM : Totally agree for ELM. Pick a wood…..”Color for a car”….

Two answers I’m staring at are LOCAVORE and GOLDILOCKS ZONE.

I played gigs at some dozen or so farmer’s markets this past summer. For some strange reason, I just never heard anyone say anything like, “Look at all the LOCAVOREs who showed up today.” Legit? Yes. A Friday-worthy word? I guess.

I studied astronomy in college and, although it’S NERDy, it has been a subject of more than passing interest to me in the intervening 50 years . Sometime later today I’ll e spending a lot of time reading about gravitational waves. I have known for years they were looking for them and how they were doing it, just as I did for the Higgs boson. As well has been the search for “hospitable planets.” GOLDILOCKS ZONE? I would have remembered that if I had seen/heard it in my ‘studies” about the subject. I just have never seen it, though Ms. Wiki says it’s legit.

Then I see ones like “Play” HOB and DYNASTY. As clued, no way on earth or any other hospitable planet. I know I’ve HOB nobbed and I love bourbon, as in love to stay away from it. I’m not enough of an historian to think, even on-hand, of that as the family let alone as a DYNASTY.

The other proper names, the above being at least one clue I didn’t know was one? Knew some, but not as clued, like that for BAEZ.

TGIF! But being retired, that is a moot point :>)


RooMonster 9:39 AM  

Hey All !
Typical FriPuz where first run through got me maybe three answers! Then for some reason, SW opened up, and it turned out very easy. Cool! Next section to go was SE, marveling at all the Z's I was finding (after already having OOZING) and not having them forced in. Made my way up to the NE, where I found another Z! GOLDILOCKS ZONE was a new one on me, but after wrapping the ole brain around (something)_O__, said, Hey, might be a ZONE of some sort. Which got me the whole corner. So up to that point, easyish-minimally mediumish. Then hit the NW corner. Wow, that was tough. Cracked me up that that was Rex's easy corner! LOCAVORE new to me, might have heard it before? Wanted herbiVORE, didn't fit. Also, wanted either gassEDUP, or packEDUP for LOADEDUP, slowing me down. Finally sussed it all out, with last entry the GOLDILOCKS ZONE. Came here, checked puz, got it 100% correct!

TEEVEE seems a stretch. I was hoping that wasn't the answer. SORCERER clue fun. Some pther neat clues, too. Overall, nice Themeless. Kind of a funky looking grid also. Also looking for the pangram after all those Z's, Y's, and W's I found in the S, but not.


Jon Alexander 9:58 AM  

NE was toughest for me (couldn't get hippo for the life of me without the crosses), but overall a very smooth and relatively easy solve. GOLDILOCKSZONE was a gimme for me that got me started. LOCAVORE is a term id never heard of but it came to me as an educated stab once I got the v from VERB in place. Great puzzle and 2 min easier than my norm

jrstocker 9:59 AM  

Yeah, I was right around my Friday average, but I ended the puzzle in the 'GOLDILOCKSZONE' so to speak, and I spent at least 3 or 4 minutes puttering around there. So if I could've gotten that to fall off the bat, it definitely would've fallen on the easy side of things.

Nancy 10:00 AM  

Loved this one. Loved the oblique cluing of ALSO RANS, MENU, SORCERER, and HEAT WAVE. Like Rex, I loved the answers GOLDILOCKS ZONE and CRY YOUR EYES OUT. And I'd forgotten that the discovery of penicillin was an ACCIDENT. And I didn't realize that ODYSSEY was a term for a long, trying trip. I'd always thought it was more quixotic and perhaps even fun than that. My answer to the 13D clue would have been (even though it wouldn't have fit): ANY TRIP TAKEN WITH INFANTS OR TODDLERS.

But the bad news is I came here to find I had an unexpected DNF. I had NESTLE instead of NESTEA and UHURE instead of UHURA (who she?), giving me TELS instead of TEES at 53D. Yes, it made no sense and I knew it made no sense, but I failed to correct anyway. My bad.

Tita 10:11 AM  

A hail mary finish for me...WAG at ODAY_/B_E. I'm redy for my headslap moment when someone explains BYE as the answer there.

LOCAVORE was the first answer in. I liked it, and liked how smug I felt. But then had to erase it when I had gassEDUP my car for the roadtrip. Comeone - LOADEDUP is pretty greenpaintish.

Hand up for loving the GOLDILOCKSZONE answer, and share @kozmikvoid's enthusiasm for science, in puzzles and in the wild.

Never, ever heard of Play HOB.

Sped through most of the puzzle, then stalled completely in that NW till I finally pushed through with blunt force hamjavascript:void(0)mer blows.
(Well, "sped" is a relative term - for me, I mean...)

Thanks Mr. Hensley.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

@NCA Pres (7:38 am) -- I had the same reaction to ELM that you had. As in: That's the best wood for cabinet-making you can come up with? Sorry. Hit me with another wood, please.

@lms (6:47 am) -- I love your coinage of broke-a-vore.

@kozmikvoid (12:22 am) -- Your last paragraph, based on today's front page news and the Rexblog comments of a few days ago, is priceless. Wish I'd said it.

Tita 10:12 AM  

Favorite learning moment - that HIPPOS are the cetacean's nearest relatives. What do family reunions look like?

Unknown 10:24 AM  

I get trying to complete puzzles as quickly as possible but I don't do this. I actually enjoy taking my time with them. With everything else so fast paced and frantic, why not slow down? Am I the only one?

Z 10:28 AM  

@LMS - No problem here spelling PILSENER (MOI?), but I still paused because if you had asked me I would have guessed that Urquell was the city. Fortunately for me, Urquell was too short.

@NCA Prez - my first impulse was oak, and ELM got the initial side eye from me. My preferred search engine, though, says ELM cabinets are a thing.

Science fiction lover that I am, I don't recall ever coming across the precious GOLDILOCKS ZONE. Toss in the ese-y ANOUK, LOU Bega, whack-a-vowel at Mount IDA, and LOI and the MIDAIR section of the puzzle took this from easy to medium.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

Nice puzzle, a Medium Friday for me.

The NW was the last to fall, though. Had the "A" for ANNE at 21 A, so, let's see - 1 D, five-letter animal ends in A, must be PANDA. So 16 A, Ones who don't take a seat, must be NO SHOWS . . . Oops, one letter short! But 1 A . . . HERBIVORE? VEGAN? VEGETARIAN? Finally worked it all out.

Sir Hillary 10:33 AM  

Wow, this has been a brutal crossweek for me. Not sure if it's just a wheelhouse thing, but I have found most of this week's puzzles to be extremely tough. This one was no different -- I finished, but it felt like a crunchy Saturday. "Tough" doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the experience, though -- there's a lot here to like.

-- ORES crossing URBANE, both clued with the word "refined".
-- Four Zs, none of them "Scrabblef---ing".
-- GOLDILOCKSZONE, even though I had never heard of it before.

Didn't love:
-- ONEOWNER seems green-painty.
-- TEEVEE. Blech. Only time I've seen that is Mike in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
-- Play HOB?

Lots of write-overs today:
-- packEDUP before LOADEDUP
-- aDA before IDA (always mess that one up)
-- royAlTY before DYNASTY
-- rEsS before TEES

Carola 10:49 AM  

Easy and enjoyable.
@Lewis, I thought of you with all the doubled letters: LLAMA next to OOLONG, ANNE, HIPPO, GODDESS, OOZING x GOO and the great YY in CRYYOUR...

Chaos344 11:10 AM  

Excellent puzzle! I had the exact opposite solving experience of Rex, but almost identical to NCA President. Started in the NW but couldn't get a decent toe hold. Moved elsewhere and began really ripping through the grid. For a while, I thought I would have a well above average Friday solve time, but it was not to be. Back in the NW, I had LOCAV in place, but could not remember LOCAVORE. I think I have only seen it used on one other occasion. Was positive that 5D had to be VERB, but couldn't remember ODAY. Like NCA, I thought that the Tolkien "character" was something like ORC or ENT. Golem or Bilbo wouldn't fit, and I never thought of an inanimate object. I was also fixated on LPS. Finally tried Y as the vowel in the middle of 19A and DUH! I palmed my forehead so hard my teeth rattled. The ORE filled in and MHP appeared. I would have smacked the smug little bastard had it been possible!

@ Leapy from yesterday's late comment. LOL! O Great Priestess Of Puns! Surely you are aware that I spoke "tongue in cheek?" I would never deign to cast aspersions on your ability to traverse the distance between the CrossWorld and external realities sans the aid of mind-altering chemicals! I am in awe of your twisted though processes!

@Gill I: who would like to see the word listicles as an answer some day.

Clue: Helmsman's gonads in a stormy sea.

@ Da Bears: Did that first half gallon of vodka eradicate your cold virus ABSOLUTE-LY John, or are you starting a new round of therapy?

@LMS: Shame! You should receive a parking cetacean for failing to correctly enter your HIPPO in the space allotted.

Lewis 11:32 AM  

Lovely cluing: BYE, ALSORANS, CASINO, MENU, DYNASTY, ERASER, SORCERER, and I loved the misdirect on GODDESS. I wanted "ocks" for "Butt ending", and that held me up a bit. There's a mini-theme of double EEs (5), and a dropping MENU. ODYSSEYS echoes yesterday's MINIVAN. Look at the solid stacks in each corner -- not a loser among the answers. This was a very good one!

Anoa Bob 11:34 AM  

One thing shoehorning in 14's will apparently do is result in a grid LOADEDUP with a bunch of black squares, 33, and a bunch of TREYS, to wit MOI, BYE, LOU, AST, DAB, ALI, ERS, HED, MBA, BEN, ADO, ELM, IDA, EPS, LOI, OED, HOB, LIE, GOO & WWF. Enough to put me INADAZE.

Must turn on the old TEEVEE and see if someone can explain how it is that sound can travel through space. I thought that only happened in movies.

old timer 11:40 AM  

Almost a DNF here, because I didn't see TEES, and needed that to get NESTEA (had Nestle). Finally put in TEES and could not believe that "Butttees" is a word. D'Oh!

Crunchy Fri for me. Did not get LOCAVORE off the bat. Did not know Taiwan makes OOLONG tea. Got my foothold in the SE, which led to "CRY ones EYES OUT -- wrongo! but that's what I wrote in the grid. And took forever to remember DECATUR.

Of course I got CORDS at once (I've worn them almost every day for decades). So I changed "DST" to AST and got ACCIDENT. ANOUK was a total guess for me. So was ARES, but the crosses were pretty obvious.

TEEVEE? Thats the way my daughter and her friends pronounce it Accent on the first syllable.

Andrew Heinegg 11:54 AM  

I agree with all the positive assessments here. My only quibble is that it strikes me as far more Wednesdayish but, that is not the constructor's fault.

Unknown 12:00 PM  

Loved this puzzle! Zippy and fresh with witty crossers, clues just tough enough without being obscure, little junk. Sweet. Gets extra points for "CRY YOUR (as opposed to ONES) EYES OUT).

Martel Moopsbane 12:01 PM  

@ Tita - the top seeded teams in a tournament often get a first-round BYE, meaning they automatically move into the second round without having to do a thing.

Nancy 12:22 PM  

@William Palmer (10:24 am) -- No you're not the only one. You have a fervent ally in me, for one. Why not take a look at the "treatise" I wrote on the subject: a blog comment so long, it had to be divided into two parts :) See the Rexblog on Tuesday, Aug 11, 2015, and my two posts -- at 9:22 am and continued at 9:45 am.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Crossing Aimee Anouk with Lou Bega with a random French word left a rotten taste in my mouth after an otherwise great puzzle. No way to guess those from context. No way to know a random French word unless you speak French randomly... unfair, unascertainable ending.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

No sound in space. Sorry... no atmosphere, thus no sound.

Nancy 12:27 PM  

Oh, and @Tita -- When you get a BYE in a tournament, you don't have to play the first round. So while other competitors are playing that round, you get an "early advancement" to the second round.

Boney R. Garage 12:31 PM  

Loved this puzzle. I believe Taiwan oolong is still marketed as Formosa Oolong.

oldbizmark 12:31 PM  

i really liked this puzzle even though i did not finish. i found it very easy EXCEPT for the NW corner. Couldn't come up with VErb even with VE in place and didn't know ODAY and RUNE. Oh well. Still a good puzzle and a fun solve.

Z 12:32 PM  

@Sir Hillary - HOB.

@William Palmer - No, you're not alone. Rex also references this in his FAQ's.

@Tita - Think brackets. If you get a BYE you advance to the next round without having to play a game.

Black Holes Colliding

puzzle hoarder 12:37 PM  

I was reading through the comments congratulating myself on a job well done until got to @Nancy's. Turns out I'd made the same mistake. I put in NESTLE and thought I'll have to look that up because I couldn't picture leaves in it's logo. 45D is very familiar. I just put it down to an alternative spelling used in the modern movies remakes (stupid thought.) Reading 53Ds' clue would have cleared things up but I never did.
I was planning a long winded recounting of my victory lap around this puzzle. Instead I'm once again parsing a perfect example of haste makes waste.
Speaking of the puzzle,this one was great. I like visiting xwordinfo prior to solving just to see the constructors' picture. I thought "whiz kid" and had high hopes. I wasn't disappointed.
@Rex thanks for using the word hoard. Wether or not you label yourself with it or not all solvers do it. For the past ten years or so I've made my own notes of it. Yesterday's SPITTAKE was just in a puzzle on 10/30/15 and there were a lot of comments on it still some of the regulars drew a blank on it. The hoarding has more to do with my OCD but it has honed my knowledge base. Pardon the TMI.

Berselius 12:46 PM  

DNF thanks to LOU/ANOUK and LOI/LOU. Bleh. Is ANOUK that common of a crosswordese name? I have no clue who this is.

Unknown 12:50 PM  

@ William Palmer 10:24 AM - Exact-a-mundo. I get speed-solving. It's just not my thing either for the same reasons. In fact it's bitter sweet finishing rapidly: the challenge was over too soon, but I did ace the 'test' (sometimes).

I've wondered how many here are Jeopardy fans? I don't see a lot of difference in the basic skill set to do well, especially for speed solvers or those can't "pause" their TEE-VEE. For those folks it's also competing in time against the contestants and/or others in the room.

Vice the versa, I wonder how a Ken Jennings would do in a crossword tournament?

My approach is, to wit: "Wait! [hits pause] Gimme a sec. I Know this." And so it is with crosswords. I take all the "secs" I need. With Jeopardy this has the district, added benefit of being able to fast forward through commercials!


Da Bears 1:02 PM  

@Chaos, the virus proved immune from vodka, which suggests it'seems been my guest longer than I thought. If it progresses, I might have to get some 32D.

Chip Hilton 1:11 PM  

Add me to the group that struggled in the NW. Everything else was done and I had ANNE. Breakthrough was ODAY followed by a good guess on LLAMA. I have never heard of Rex's gimme LOCAVORE but it gradually appeared with crosses. In all, a fine Friday challenge, loaded with good clues.

Careless error on rOI instead of LOI. The cross of LOU Bega was no help atoll.

@Tita - You cracked me up.

Masked and Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Six pack! themelessthUmbsUp!

NW corner was a feisty lil jewel. LOCAVORE/cria and VERB-gotchaclue+pig Latin name+Tolkien-gotchaclue + {Killer House of cards?} = bucket'o burnt nanoseconds.

I now plan to name my next daughter LIE-LOI-LOU. Sorry, Puppymonkeybaby. And Ted-Trump.

@muse: woofers. The concept of diggin, to try and find a can of black olives is not remotely in the M&A playbook. Hate em. U should see the pile-up, upon me finishin a Greek salad. I am a NOPE-A-VORE, blackolive-wise. If there was a can like that in my house, I would go all "Cask of Amontillado" on its ass.

fave fillins: GOCRAZY (funky). TRYACASE (bad blackolive slogan). TEEVEE (primo desperate). PILSENER (TRYACASE bingo). GOLDILOCKSZONE (a.k.a. planet of the bears).

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Teedmn 1:34 PM  

Play HOB could have played havoc with my solve but the crosses were all fair. I started in the SE because I suspected BUZZFEED would be the listicles presenter and MENU went right in. I fell for "ones" briefly in CRYYOUREYESOUT. At that point, forgetting it was Friday themeless, I expected an XX in the GOLDILOCKS ZONE and WW in 1A, based on the ZZ and YY of 64A and 44A but it was not to be.

The second Y at 44A had me starting 40D with rYe but that made my 48A end with AE. I was confident that was not leading to any words of confidence and I suddenly remembered the French royal family so voilà. Most kitchens I've been in have oak cabinetry though my own are maple but MIDAIR made the ELM sprout in my brain.

I found this was a DAB harder than easy, taking 20 minutes, but I really liked, thanks Mr. Hensley.

OISK 1:49 PM  

Nice one for me! Oolong tea is often sold as "Formosa oolong" so no problem getting oolong from Taiwan. The perfect kind of Friday puzzle - when I began, I could find nothing, but eventually it all made sense. ( not like the Reddit clue yesterday..)

MetroGnome 1:52 PM  

"Play HOB"? What the hell does that mean????

Chronic dnfer 2:36 PM  

@lms I love your honesty. Dnf here. Got a lot though. Had fun. Wearing cords today. Got the ne the middle and the sw. I don't have high hopes for tomorrow and have not enjoyed the Sunday's recently.

Hartley70 2:37 PM  

This was not easy for me and it took me a long time, making it a super Friday. GOLDILOCKSZONE was unknown to me and I think it's a descriptive "just right". I don't get HOB in relation to "play", and ELM? Haven't most of them disappeared from Dutch Elm Disease? I think I'd be sad each time I looked at those kitchen cabinets. Save what's left of the ELMS!

I thought PILSENER was spelled Pilsner so that slowed me down. By some miracle PETEROSE was a gimme. I was done in by BYE. I considered Anita because she was my dad's favorite, but ODAY just didn't feel like Pig Latin when I considered it. BYE is perfect now that I see it. Good one!

MetroGnome 2:53 PM  

Well, I'll try this again -- no idea why the Board of Censors should disqualify this query: I do NOT understand what "play HOB" means. Can anyone explain?

Fred Romagnolo 3:01 PM  

I seem to be the first to comment on today's letter to the editor on crossword puzzle changes over the years: I agree with every word, but know that recent generations including OFL won't be in accord.

Mohair Sam 3:04 PM  

Well I got the new-to-us GOLDILOCKS ZONE off surprisingly few letters and turned to Mrs. Mohair and said that I really want to meet the scientist who thought that one up. Delightful term.

Liked this one a lot although it was well outside our sweetspots - KESEY, SNERD, and ANOUK (good catch on GODDESS @Gill I) being our only gimmes. Terrific cluing, some nifty misdirection (especially DYNASTY), a minimum of 'ese, all framed by new words LOCAVORE and BUZZFEED. Nice.

@LMS - Well said on the division between GODDESS and bombshell. You are so right.

LOCAVORE - Learned the word a couple of years back when a Philly local news station did an investigation into a local farmer's market. They found that an awful lot of the local "fresh" veggies were off the truck from Ohio and Indiana, or off the train from California. Tomatoes, fortunately, were mostly from nearby south Jersey - where they grow the best in the country.

Speaking of frauds. Anybody else notice that The Attorney General announced yesterday that Morgan Stanley signed a deal with the Justice Department to pay $billions in fines so that none of its execs or brokers will be prosecuted for the crimes they committed leading to the financial meltdown in 2008. They commit the crime, Shareholders pay the fine, not a bad deal. On the same day Hillary brags in the Democratic debate that President Obama set the record for contributions from Wall Street. She said he got the Dodd-Frank Act passed and that proved the contributions weren't quid pro quo. Kind of like the FBI letting Capone go free and claiming victory saying it toughened murder laws so he'll have more difficulty doing it again.

Unknown 3:11 PM  

While I wouldn't call myself a cabinet maker, I did just get done making a couple... out of OAK. No one I know would ever use ELM. In fact you have to go to specialty lumber yards just to find it. And then it at a nearby very cool lumber yard, this was posted "(Red) Elm. Popularly used in manufacturing laminated bows, because of its pleasing grain and strength properties." Not a word about cabinets.

Chaos344 3:37 PM  

Just back from a walk in the woods with the dogs. What a fantastic tableau with the snow and icicles!

Kudos to Rex for clearing the third batch of comments before noon. I'm not being sarcastic here.

A few replies to those who have posted since 10 A.M.

@Tita: I'll probably be the umpteenth person who responds to your query about the term BYE, but it usually pertains to sporting events. The team or individual with the best record/performance becomes the top seed. This usually results in a BYE which entitles the #1 seed to remain idle during the first round of play-offs.

Re: Hippos and family reunions, The solve for 9A is actually an easy progression if you know that the constellation Cetus is often referred to as "The Whale", or if you know that whales are the most recognized group of cetaceans. (The group also includes dolphins and porpoises.)

Since we know that whales are mammals, we should be looking for terrestrial mammals of similar size. ELEPHANT is too long for the clue, but either RHINO or HIPPO would work. Given the "gimme" at 9D, and with possible crosses from other fill, HIPPO soon becomes obvious.

@William Palmer: No, you are not the only one William. Don't concern yourself with those who speed solve. It's a personal choice and involves a different discipline. Speaking strictly for myself, I only speed solve Monday through Wednesday in the true sense of the term. Thursday is usually gimmick day. I do keep the timer on during Thursday through Sunday, but I'm not fanatic about minor interruptions such as taking 5 seconds to take a sip of coffee or something of that nature. Some people are fanatical about keeping their "personal best" times. In later week puzzles, I generally "guesstimate" mine. For instance, my personal best times for a Friday,(which happened recently) would probably be between 10 and 12 minutes. It all depends on individual goals and criteria. If taking your time and savoring each puzzle works best for you, than that's what you should do!

@ Sir Hillary: Nice Post!

@LMS: After further perusal of your earlier post, I couldn't help but notice the wordplay potential of your conundrum with GOLDILOCKSZONE and the double "S" factor. In addition to being a MUSE SMITH, you are assuredly a wordsmith, and thus obviously enamored of parsing, and other variables, no?

Let's talk about the GOLDIELOCKZONE as opposed to GOLDIELOCKSPACE and your issue with the lack of two S's. Suppose, for the sake of prose, that we put the single "S" between the "E" and the "L"? Then it becomes "GOLDIE'S LOCK SPACE." It doesn't require a long stretch of the imagination to surmise that such a space could be deemed a forbidden anatomical area, as opposed to an explored astrological area? By the same token, it could be called an EROGENOUS ZONE. If we follow this line of reasoning, GOLDIE'S LOCK SPACE, could enter the lexicon of astrology by becoming know as the CHASTITY BELT? Perhaps not as relevant as the Van Allen Belt, but much more interesting to penetrate, right?

I won't even get into GOLDIELOCK'S PACE! If she hadn't been living life in the fast lane to begin with, her parents would never have insisted that she wear a chastity belt. Her boyfriend doesn't hold the key to her angst, but he lisps badly! GOLDIELOCKS thinks he has the problem licked!

Warren Howie Hughes 5:13 PM  

This Friday outing was a virtual Mount Olympus with such a goodly amount of Greek Gods and Goddess's flitting to and fro. But that's not a quibble by any means, as I enjoyed it to the max!

LaurieG in Connecticut 5:28 PM  

nope! I savor 'em too

Joe 6:00 PM  

I didn't know GOLDILOCKSZONE, until now, and I enjoyed solving this Wednesday/Friday/whatever. LOCAVORE and LLAMA had happy personal associations for me, right off the start, and so I thought, I'm going to get this sucker!

kitshef 7:02 PM  

@William Palmer, you are not alone. I tried speed-solving for two weeks and found it decreased my appreciation for the puzzles.

Liked this one a lot.TRYACASE and TEEVEE were the only answers I really objected to, and there is so much good stuff crammed into this one.

Started off just like @Rex, with LOCAVORE. Unlike @Rex, I only got one cross from it (EPS) and had to abandon that area and got traction in SE.

eST before AST, TElliE before TEEVEE, Salad before SKINS, zeuS before ARES, rOI before LOI. ANOUK was a WoE, but crosses all fair.


Joe Bleaux 8:31 PM  

Thank you! HOB! Huh?

Z 9:47 PM  

@Metrognome - I don't know that my earlier link helps all that much, but I think it's inferable.

@Berselius - Keep doing these things and ANOUK Aimée will slide in as easily as Brian Eno or Yma Sumac. Using such knowledge to impress people is certain to work in most any situation.

@Hartley70 - It is spelt Pilsner. PILSENER Urquell is the most likely time you'll see the longer version.

@Mohair Sam - It sounds like you're feeling the Bern.

@Elm Cabinet haters - Just a reminder that in a late week puzzles it never hurts to pause even on the "obvious" three letter answers. I immediately translated the clue into "three letter type of wood." If a four letter wood is needed tomorrow I'm predicting we see Teak Cabinets.

Unknown 3:55 AM  

I loved this puzzle for pretty much the same reasons as everyone else.

GOLDILOCKS ZONE was a wonderful answer. I enjoyed how several of the best clues were science based: LLAMA (A baby one is called a cria), HIPPO (Cetacean's closest relative), and ACCIDENT (The discovery of penicillin, e.g.).

I was proud to get CRY YOUR EYES OUT without any crosses, and I like that it was YOUR instead of ONES.

The NE was a delight with all the Classical references: ODYSSEYS, AENEID, GODDESS, ARES.

LOCAVORE and BUZZFEED were lively bookends for a lively puzzle.

In my room, I have a poster for Federico Fellini's "8 1/2." So I always welcome ANOUK Aimée's presence in a grid.

When I see DECATUR, I think of the Sufjan Stevens song "Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!" It uses a host of rhymes for Decatur: hate her, take her, alligator, operator, aviator, data, congratulate her, denominator, abominate her, appreciate her, thank her. Also,

Stephen A. Douglas was a great debater
But Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator

Greg 3:17 PM  

Thanks a lot for the ANOUK/LOU/LOI clump.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

38 accross hit my pet peeve. 24/7/365, that's 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week/ 365 weeks in a sabatical cycle?

Diana,LIW 9:01 PM  

Hey @Rondo - I replied to your challenge on Tuesday. Did you get it?

Diana, LIW

Diana,LIW 10:51 PM  


Haven't seen you this week - are you there?

Diana, The Lady

Diana,LIW 11:21 PM  

And...Rondo... had a post on Wed. to your Thurs.

Pls, pay attn.


spacecraft 12:06 PM  

LOCAVORE a "total gimme?????" It's not even a real word!! I very nearly DNF on account of LOCAVORE. I thought I had at least a decent grip on the English language, but it has passed me by. I can't keep up. Cria? Listicle? These are not words either. You try to put any of these on a Scrabble board against me, and you'll lose your turn.

The NW was a total blank for me till I glommed onto the fact that 5-down were all VERBs. Severely restricted access didn't help. Sure, I had gimmes GOLDILOCKSZONE, ANNE and CASINO, but the rest? Figured 1-across was LOCAl-something, but what? LOCAl man? All the while trying to fit in HRS for longer than singles. Well, they are.

The rest of it was no problem--I actually live on DECATUR Boulevard--but I didn't appreciate the spelled-out letters TEES and TEEVEE.

We will allow the exotic Zoe to remain Y.B. of the day, but let's include co-winner Nichelle Nichols, the original UHURA. She could communicate with ME anytime. Man, those Swahili chicks are hot!

Thanks for today's earworm "Send In the Clowns," prompted by MIDAIR. 3/4 of the puzzle: easy-medium; the NW: challenging. Enough to trigger the triumph factor. B-.

Burma Shave 12:26 PM  


I’ll be INADAZE and GOCRAZY no doubt,
when ICAN NEATLY undo the CORDS of her bodice.
over GOLDILOCKSZONE sister – she’s a GODDESS.


rondo 1:17 PM  

PILSENER, TRYACASE! It feels like I DIDSO yesterday. Kinda slow on the uptake today. INADAZE.
Wanted LOCAVORE, but at first had “irk” instead of ADO for the bother. So I did the south half first and finished in the NW where I should have started.

@Diana,LIW – I did get it. Very nicely done. Classic, even.
But whatever it is, I’m against it! Or on top of it. Or into it.
If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me? Please?
Must still be LOADEDUP on that PILSENER.

No doubt about today’s yeah baby Aimee ANOUK. She was a GODDESS before I was born and probably still is a GODDESS. Joan BAEZ might not appreciate the yeah baby status being conferred.

Just that one write-over, so it couldn’t have been too difficult. I knew OFL would GOCRAZY over the ancient lit stuff in the NE. Nice puz today and not much more to say. Gonna find me a TEEVEE and another PILSENER or ten and watch some hoops. BYE.

leftcoastTAM 2:03 PM  

A relatively easy Friday, but with a HOBgoblin, I'm afraid.

My "last" entries were at the LOCAVORE crosses with RUNE and EPS.

Then I saw the nonsensical NoSTEu in the SW corner after having just seen the correct NESTEA elsewhere.

Disappointing DNF.

Diana,LIW 4:05 PM  

This was a bear of a dnf for me.

Sure, there were some very good and fun clues/answers. However, OFL gave a very unRexian BYE to some others, IMHO.


Just say no to - ELM, GODDESS (as clued), TEEVEE. I mean cabinets? Oh yeah, every day on HGTV you hear "I want a 3 br 2 ba house with ELM cabinets." Never.

Liked most of the longer answers - 75% of puzzle is great.

And then there is the batter/bettor as clued. Aptly named? Not in my bookie. No LIE, that was a BUZZkill.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Cathy 7:41 PM  

Couldn't get into this one today. Have never heard of GOLDILOCKSZONE so I at least learned something.

So odd with crosswords sometimes. My pet mouse Mo died last night. We got her after we lost MR. BOJANGLES. (Misnamed after Mr. Jingles from The Green Mile) I cried my eyes out. Hubby was crying too. Over a mouse? Yeah:( Our other mouse was grieving for her friend. I put in a little stuffed animal mouse for her. She was dragging it around to the water and food bowl. Heartbreaking.

Saved a 'feeder' from 'the pet store' today. I need a name. HIPPO? No she's tiny and skinny. ANNE LOU ALI BEN GOLDILOCKS GODDESS?

HOB! HOB? I'm IN A DAZE. REX RONDO. I think I need a Long Island NESTEA to feed my buzz.

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