Emperor after Galba / FRI 11-11-16 / Film title role for Tyrone Power Brad Pitt / Sketches by 1830s work / Fast-food debut of 1981 / Hook remover perhaps

Friday, November 11, 2016

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Easy (for me, slightly harder for others, I hear)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: REGIS University (59A: Denver's ___ University) —
Regis University, formerly known as Regis College, is a private, co-educational Roman Catholic, Jesuit university in the United States. Regis College was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1877. It is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Based in Denver, Colorado, Regis University is divided into five colleges: Regis College, The Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, the College for Professional Studies, the College of Computer and Information Sciences, and the College of Business and Economics. The university is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In 2013, the Regis University web site stated that it had obtained a top tier ranking as one of the best colleges and universities in the United States in the western region for 19 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. (wikipedia)
• • •

Lucky this guy still consents to submit his stuff, because it's quite nice. I destroyed this puzzle, but Crossword Twitter is telling me it played rough, at least for some. Maybe because people don't know the word "baleful," or SCLERA, or were mistaken about the spelling of JUST DESERTS (25D: Comeuppance). OTHO (that is, On the Hand, Other), maybe I just lucked out with a couple of the answers I knew and had a statistically aberrant good day. Going over the puzzle, I see lots of places where I had trouble, but none of that trouble lasted very long. Plus, the long Downs provide incredible toe-holds, if you're able to infer them from just a small grouping of letters (which I was). After letting WELL WHADDYA KNOW? go, getting WELL SHUT MY MOUTH broke open that otherwise pesky SW corner (OTHO! Not NERO!?) (65A: Emperor after Galba). Got JUST DESERTS off just the first few letters, I think, which opened up the south. Solved SE corner and then rode YOU LOOK FAMILIAR easily up to the NE. See also the CHEESE in CHEESE PIZZA. With those pillars so easy to put into place, the rest of the puzzle's occasional impertinence didn't really matter much. Done in a little over 5.

I did not know JESSE JAMES from that clue. Ended up guessing it from _E_SE_____. Something about that letter pattern just said "JESSE!" and sure enough, success. Got REGIS off the "R" but don't really know why. Crossword memory reflex, probably. Most of my trouble came at the very end, in the north, where the ACETEN (?) LATE crossing refused to come together. Got it down to that exact square, and (failing to understand what sort of "blackjack" was meant) wrote in an "M"—so, ACEMEN and LAME. Is LAME a [Bad way to run]? Seems plausible. But ACEMEN just looked all kinds of wrong, so I pulled it and then the "T" became obvious. Done.

Best clue in the puzzle was 29A: Noted bomb in a longtime war (NEW COKE). Nice misdirection with the bomb/war thing. I'm now amusing myself by reading the central Across as THAT'S A BI GIF, so I should probably log off now and get some sleep.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 12:27 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for your gracious review of @Damon Gulczynski's puzzle, and for your inspired link that pays tribute to the late great @Leonard Cohen.

Several recent comments prompt me on this November 11 to reprise A Time for Remembrance from exactly five years ago, and to honor the service of one particular hero with We Are Family from a bit over two years ago.

More soon ...

Giovanni P. 12:46 AM  

Thanks to the vets. Put yourself through a lot of pain for a country you love.

Surprisingly clean again on this one. I might just be on the constructor's wavelength, though the bottom took a little longer to fall. OTHO came about thanks to one of the Gaffney metas where he (or was it NERO?) was the answer. I should keep a tally of the number of times one crossword has helped me solve another. Not just obvious crosswordese, but answers I might not have known without the prior experience.

Same sentiment as yesterday folks--stay safe.

Unknown 12:48 AM  

I enjoy @Damon Gulczynski's New York Times puzzles, which are for the most part themeless, and especially appreciate his inevitably thought-provoking self-critiques found at this blog. For example, I learned there (click on the link) that Damon's original NOSE_JOB clue was clued to a hook-shaped clue probably carried over from yesterday's puzzle.

Like @Rex, it was hard to let go of NERO at 65-Across, but I wonder who else had BATES ahead of ROACH as an adjective to Motel? ACE_TEN adds up to 21, does it not? Could THAT'S_A_BIG_IF applied to something that's MOOT?

According to current headlines, NEWT is on the short-list for Secretary of State. YURI was a leader long before Vladimir. ARA Parseghian is still alive at age 93. The tricky TRICK clue refers to the card game, not to the George Washington Bridge.

Left over business from yesterday, Gabriel Fauré's Requiem.

jae 12:56 AM  

Easy-medium for me. My only erasure was eRoS for ARES and that happened because I didn't check the crosses. I did spend more than a few nanoseconds (@m&e) trying to figure out BOOMMICS until it finally hit me....devious clue!

Seems like there is sort of a theme here. A couple of people meet, have a conversation, one of them says something outrageous, gets called on it, gets their JUSTDESERTS, and they both go out for PIZZA...or maybe not?

Liked it.

Clark 1:30 AM  

Desert: "suitable reward or punishment" (now usually plural and with just), c. 1300, from Old French deserte, noun use of past participle of deservir "be worthy to have," ultimately from Latin deservire "serve well" (see deserve). -- online etymology dictionary.

I vaguely remembered this when I found that I had room for only one "s".

chefwen 2:20 AM  

Puzzle partner got 3D with just WELL and the H in place and 11D with the second L and I showing. How he did that I'll never know, but I was duly impressed. Of course, that blew the whole thing open and we were done in a record amount of time (for a Friday). The only hang up was trying to remember how to spell SCLERA, I wanted an I in there, but no room.

If your Hawaiian shirt is LOUD, you don't know how to pick them.

CDilly52 3:29 AM  

One never knows-and hubris will out! I destroyed the entire east half in for me Monday time and was crowing about getting a Friday in under 20 and then I was destroyed by the west half even after getting Jesse James and shut my mouth. Alas.

Lise 5:13 AM  

This puzzle gave me a sort of euphoria, an I Can Finish This Run In Record Time And Have Fun In The Process feeling. It lasted one-third of a mug of coffee, and I spent another third of the mug admiring it.

Oh, and to Anonymous: it's DESERTS because it's what one deserves.

Lovely puzzle, Mr. Gulczynski. As we say in geocaching, Thanks for the fun!

Loren Muse Smith 5:37 AM  

Pretty hard for me, too. Once I finally saw NEW COKE (agree, Rex – terrific clue and misdirect), I was able to finish. I had been thinking that 26D was an actual restaurant, so that was tough for a while. Apparently, the MCRIB is delicious, if you're That kind of person. I am, but I've never tasted one.

I felt smart filling in SCLERA off only the S. My uncle is a retired ophthalmologist, and I always remember him telling me about fitting Aunt Kattie with scleral contacts a few decades ago. So at eye check-ups I try to work this gem in to sound, ya know, In The Know. Trying to throw around other terms, How's my fovea looking, Doc? My Canal of Schlemm all clear and good to go? got awkward. And forget about working "vitreous humor" into a chat. Sigh. Hi, Bruce.

"Truss" before TRICK. Bet we're legion this morning.

"That's a new one" didn't fit for THAT'S A BIG IF. Hey, Rex I like your THAT'S A BI GIF parsing (and your I AM BI from the other day. Makes me revisit words like bishop and bisect – how 'bout this…

that's a big gif

I still feel suspicious and nervous around ALMOND milk, and that's all my kids drink now. If they just called it almond drink, I'd be less wary. I'll stick to MOO juice for the time being.

Mr. Gulczynski – you da mon. Nice job.

Veterans, thank you for your service.

Muscato 6:24 AM  

Just under my average for a Friday, but good fun solving.

Although they're not quite contemporaries, I can't help thinking that a MCRIB washed down with a NEW COKE might be a nearly perfect mid-'80s nostalgia meal of a certain sort. Just writing this brings back that sickly/chemical flavor of that short-lived pause that most definitely did not refresh, as well a reminding me of the era's equally questionable fashion choices...

Glimmerglass 7:20 AM  

Played hard for me and lots of fun.Perhaps it was too easy for a Friday, but it lacks a Thursday gimmick and it's too hard for a Wednesday. Lots of fresh material and some clever misdirection (NOSE JOB).

Dorothy Biggs 7:48 AM  

I finished pretty much smack dab in the middle of my usual time. And yes, I had JUSTDESSERT (thinking that you were getting the last course...dessert...of the meal you had chosen to eat...yes, it's a stretch, but to my credit I never use this phrase so I really don't have to know exactly what it means or how to spell it). I also had mediumPIZZA. I also had YOUseemFAMILIAR. I also had sAn for 23A. So I took lots of bait from this SCAMARTIST of a puzzle...and I would have taken more had conARTIST fit.

I liked it because there were no groans and everything was fair. It was challenging in places but there weren't any places that were huge stoppages. I don't know "trochee" but got IAMB from inference and helpful crosses.

So, nice Friday.

DJG 8:18 AM  

Rex, thank you for the write up, especially THAT'S A BI GIF -- brought a smile to my face. Keep up the good work.

For extended constructor comments, visit my blog: scrabbledamon.blogspot.com

Thanks to all the veterans. RIP Leonard Cohen.

r.alphbunker 8:19 AM  

Stalled for 4 minutes at the end because I had JUST DESSETS for {Comeuppance} and couldn't see the spelling mistake. Getting AEGIS for {Backing} from A_ _ IS helped. Details are here

Aloha 8:22 AM  

57A: Not like any Hawaiian shirts I own. :/

51A: Was looking for a more contemporary clue. Something like "One who took in 59,937,338, or so"

Hartley70 8:31 AM  

Terrific puzzle today because very little was immediately obvious, CHEESEPIZZA being an exception, and yet my solve time massaged my ego. I finished the corners in the wee hours but couldn't get a toehold in the center. When I opened my eyes this morning and turned to that same center, I wrote each answer in like I was on autopilot. It was a brief euphoric glimpse of what every solve must be like for Rex. Thanks Damon for the fun and the good feeling!

seanm 8:45 AM  

this one too me a little longer than my usual friday time (54 min). made some good early progress in the NW, but couldn't complete WELLSHU for too long (i guess it was kind of inferrable from that beginning, but i'd never heard it before). likewise with THATSA. CHEESEPIZZA and JUSTDESERTS fell with very few letters, which means the rest of the puzzle played much harder than average for me, given my time and how many free letters i got.

SALUD for SALUT slowed me down in the bottom right, as did not knowing Trouchee. pleasant mild resistance getting into the top left but can't complain at all about that nice section.

biggest problem was finding SCLERA, AEIGIS, REGIS, ELEM (wanted something to do with engineering off that E) and MICS, even after getting that first M. not a fan of that answer or clue.

GILL I. 8:57 AM  

@George B...Be still my heart. How I so fondly remember that puzzle and the joy it brought to my son. Thank you, amigo.
This puzzle reminds me of why I started doing them. A phrase like WELL SHUT MY MOUTH or JUST DESERTS would send me scrambling to a phone to call my grandmother. She had a pile of them sayings from her sauce box.
BOOMMICS was the only thing that gave me heartburn. I had ELHI for the sch. and didn't know REGIS. My bad. Everything else was just plain ole Friday fun. Oh, another hangup was having CLAW instead of TYKE for that nipper...easily fixed.
p.s. If you want to have a puzzle constructed as a present or otherwise and you like working with a smart and funny person, call @George B, Hey, Ghost Busters!

Nancy 9:07 AM  

Oh, thanks a ton, JUST DESERTS. Because of you, I didn't finish. I wanted JUST DESSERTS, indeed I insisted on JUST DESSERTS, and when it didn't fit, I wrote in JUST DESSERT, which seemed crazy, but... I then erased SKY, which was the only 3-letter blue shade I could think of (and which was right) and I erased SASSY (which was also right.) Talk about an idee fixe. I couldn't come up with AEGIS, though I had the A, and I didn't know the white of the eye either. So, after racing through a puzzle that I thought was astonishing unchallenging for a Friday, I crashed and burned in the middle of the bottom.

I also put in NERO first, but that was easy enough to correct. I liked the misleading clue for NEW COKE, though I saw it just off the N. I also liked NOSE JOB. I hated WELL SHUT MY MOUTH. Does anyone say that? Should anyone say that?

Most of you liked this puzzle more than I did. I thought it was okay, nothing more.

Arlene 9:07 AM  

I've shifted to online solving - used to be a paper and pen practitioner for decades - but online comes online at 10 PM, so that is now my tradition. Along with that is the feature to "check puzzle" for errors - and since Fridays typically scare me, I've turned it into a more pleasant experience by resorting to that "check puzzle" feature if I can't seem to go any further - to at least get rid of my errors. And lo and behold, with that feature alone, I've been able to complete the Friday and Saturday puzzles so far. Not using the "reveal" feature at all. Can't do that in competition, of course, but it's a routine that has made even the tough ones enjoyable.

So it was also quite a pleasant surprise, when checking out today's USA Today's crossword, constructed by our crossword community's very own Prof George Barany - and lo and behold, the online version gives the option of choosing the difficulty - easier or harder. Now that's an interesting concept - and something I can recommend to others to check out. Here's the link to their puzzle page - http://puzzles.usatoday.com/
You may have to wait until the Viagra ad finishes (I'm NOT kidding!)

Lewis 9:28 AM  

This hit my wavelength just right -- got one of the long downs with two letters, and the other with one, so the solve went quicker than my usual Friday. Loved all the long answers, and especially loved the clues for NOSEJOB, HOTTUBS, and SPF. Did notice the cross of NEWT and EVILEST.

What a week. First, there's Tuesday night. Then the loss of one of my heroes, Leonard Cohen, an artist of the highest order. And, speaking of Tuesday: HOAX/SCAM_ARTIST/LOUD/SO_SUE_ME -- what I have to say is YOU_LOOK_FAMILIAR.

Leapfinger 9:29 AM  

High score for the Sprightly Factor, with beaucoup de clue TRICKS and SASSY entries that McTickled my MCRIBS. Had a Fun/FAB time that didn't dim my FOGLight/LAMPS.

Alongside the many obvious Honorable Mentions, I liked the BOZOZS in the center, and imagining that MOO could give BOOMMICS some mirroring MOOBBICS. Cows on Vespas? Why not?

I also admit I AMB A sucker for CUTE SHOOS and a HOTTUB in the LIEU.

Took a moment to think about 37A. People have strong feelings about their imaging, you know. Some folks say 'jiff' as in the peanut butter, while others say 'ghiff' as in 'gift'. The InterWeb had lots of heated discussion between the two camps of pronunciation a couple a years back, but there persists a faction that don't mind if THAT'S A BI-GIF.

Will be down by the VA Belltower this afternoon; hope some of my old vets are still around to show up for the ceremonial.

Just remember, it's better to LOOK FAMILIAR than act FAMILIAR.
@Nancy, people do say WELL SHUT MY MOUTH. Around these yere parts, you'll even hear WELL hush MY MOUTH. I won't do the accent for you.

Shoot. Not only did I run LAME and not fix it, but @Rex ran the BI-GIF hours and hours ago.

Lenny Cohen was growing up in Montreal around the same time as I was. Oh, Suzanne!
Rats, rats, rats.

Trombone Tom 9:36 AM  

Pretty much agree with @Rex; an enjoyable romp from Damon, but on the easy side for a Friday.

ArRay before AGREE and nerO before OTto before OTHO.


Hmm, "Amphibian associated with bad spirits." Hope that's not a portent of things to come.

Dave C 9:36 AM  

There was a debate on this blog or somewhere else not too long ago about JUST DESERTS vs JUST DESSERTS. Luckily I recalled that conversation or I may not have finished today. I still had to write over the last few letters of DESERTS, (I tried JUST DESSERT) but fortunately it only cost me a few seconds.

Zygotic 9:38 AM  

My deepest hope is that someday all the VFWs close for lack of membership. Thanks to all who serve, have served, and their families.

Pleased when I saw the constructor's name and just as pleased when I finished correctly at the whac-a-vowel crossing of REGIS/SCLERA. I could have sworn it was SCLaRA, but RaGIS looked far less like a School Name than REGIS. Now I'm wondering if Denver also has a Kelly University.

I recalled a previous discussion here about DESERTS vis å vis DESsert only after I put in the wrong answer. So a little write-over frenzy there. It is even worse to run amok than to run LATE, so more frenzying there as well.

@chefwen - I must respectfully disagree. If your Hawaiian isn't LOUD you're doing it wrong.

@Chaos344 - *

*You can all thank @Evil Doug

AnonyMaster 9:40 AM  

Hey @LMS! It's hard to milk those ALMONDS. You need a tiny little stool and pail.

On the other handoff, vitreous humor leaves me glassy-eyed. Ache we us no more.

Happy Pencil 9:44 AM  

I'm with @Jae on his easy/medium rating. I wasn't anywhere near Rex's blistering time, of course, but it went down quickly for a Friday for me.

Agree about the NEW COKE clue being the best in the puzzle. I liked the clue for NOSE JOB, but the constructor's comments over at Xwordinfo are worth reading and thinking about.

@LMS, you are right to be suspicious of almond milk, which is (a) not milk, (b) full of additives, and (c) an enormous contributor to drought conditions in California.

I was mostly happy to come here this morning and see that there weren't two hundred comments decrying Will Shortz and the downfall of western civilization for spelling it JUST DESERTS (the right way, in other words), instead of JUST DESsERTS (the wrong way). That's what happened the last time the phrase appeared in a puzzle, and the fact that it isn't being repeated makes me believe we can all learn things and do better the next time. Optimism fills the void.

Today I will be thinking about George Lawrence Price and Henry Gunther, the last Canadian and American battlefield deaths of the First World War -- killed at 10:58 a.m. and 10:59 a.m., respectively, on November 11, 1918. Lest we forget.

Arlene 9:49 AM  

I've shifted to online solving - used to be a paper and pen practitioner for decades - but online comes online at 10 PM, so that is now my tradition. Along with that is the feature to "check puzzle" for errors - and since Fridays typically scare me, I've turned it into a more pleasant experience by resorting to that "check puzzle" feature if I can't seem to go any further - to at least get rid of my errors. And lo and behold, with that feature alone, I've been able to complete the Friday and Saturday puzzles so far. Not using the "reveal" feature at all. Can't do that in competition, of course, but it's a routine that has made even the tough ones enjoyable.

So it was also quite a pleasant surprise, when checking out today's USA Today's crossword, constructed by our crossword community's very own Prof George Barany - that lo and behold, the online version gives the option of choosing the difficulty - easier or harder. Now that's an interesting concept - and something I can recommend to others to check out. Here's the link to their puzzle page - http://puzzles.usatoday.com/

Elephant's Child 9:52 AM  

So I'm peacefully reading the commentariat and @Nancy throws in...'I crashed and burned in the middle of the bottom.'

At which point I'm covering my sclerae and shaking my head. Need a pants-on-fire GIF.

kitshef 9:53 AM  

I normally hate phrases in my puzzles. In order of preference: rebuses, words (meaning honest-to-Webster, Scrabble-accepted, English language words), foreign words, PPP, phrases, abbreviations, crosswordese, awkward partials (OSH, anyone?), Roman numerals, directions (like WNW), combinations (e.g. a partial abbreviation, or PPP crosswordese).

Despite which, I liked this puzzle. The phrases are so familiar, so immediately evocative, that I’m okay with all of them. But the stars of the show are the 7-10s: SCAM ARTIST, JESSE JAMES, COYOTES, NOSE JOB, KARAOKE, and most of all the cleverly-clued NEW COKE.

WELL i’ll be darned was my perfectly-fitting phrase before WELL SHUT MY MOUTH. Also bates before ROACH motel messed up the N for a while.

On the downside, EVILEST

DNF at DEi/OTHi. Galba and OTHO combined ruled for less than a year, so yeah, I’m OK not getting that. Galba rang a bell (probably because he succeeded Nero), but OTHO – no chance. And having Opus DEi as my model, DEi seemed good.

@Nancy - WELL SHUT MY MOUTH is something people someone points out an error something they said. It is a self-deprecating way of acknowledging that one was wrong. You probably never hear it because it is no longer fashionable to acknowledge one's errors.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

I remember an infamous NYT puzzle clue a couple of years back that had "Eye of _____": TOAD, Shaks. Not found in my concordance.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Hi, @kitshef and @Leapfinger -- We have plenty of phrases to acknowledge error here in NYC -- just not WELL, SHUT MY MOUTH, which sounds to my Northern ears like something Scarlett O'Hara might say. We might say: DAMNED IF I KNEW THAT! Or LIVE AND LEARN! Or IMAGINE THAT! Or WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE? Or [of very recent vintage] MY BAD. Or even just OOPS! Since I've had friends over the years from many parts of the country, I'm sure I must know someone who's said WELL SHUT MY MOUTH. It's just that no one has ever said it in front of me.

mathgent 10:13 AM  

Enjoyed it a lot.

I was sure of BOOMMICS because of the crosses but it didn't register right away. Mic for microphone still doesn't feel right to this ancient solver.

Just a little short on crunch, so B plus.

Nate Silver calculated the probability of Clinton winning to be 2/3. Clinton didn't win. Was Silver wrong?

When rolling a single die, mathematicians say that the probability of it coming up 1,2,3, or 4 (not 5 or 6) is 2/3. I just rolled a die and it came up 6. Are mathematicians wrong?

QuasiMojo 10:14 AM  

Starting with Newt I expect the bridge answer to be Trump but I guess I have forgotten how to play. I'll take a trick anytime, however.

Fun Fast Friday. I knew Otho because it's a family name. But expected Hawaiian shirts to be "lei'd" not "loud."

Lots of clever stuff here. LOVED nosejob. No complaints! (for a change.)

Zygotic 10:26 AM  

@mathgent - Re: Nate Silver - Well put. Silver had the chance of Trump winning as roughly the same chance an all-star batter in baseball has of getting a hit. If anyone actually read beyond the headlines you would see the specific scenario that happened discussed at 538. We want a black/white, right/wrong, deterministic world. But we actually live in a world where the cat is alive and dead.

Carola 10:41 AM  

On the verge of challenging for me, with much skipping around the grid and head-scratching over clues alternating with little jolts of pleasure when I saw the light (NEW COKE, NOSE JOB, BOOMMICS, et. al). Very fun to solve. Add me to the "Huh, not two SSs in DESERTS" group. I guess the extra S showed up on OZS; that one surprised me. From a previous puzzle I remembered that the emperor was O-something, but needed crosses for the rest.

chefbea 10:45 AM  

Don't usually do Fridays...but did start it. came here to see the finished puzzle. But I did notice the hook remover and iamb again. Guess we removed the hooks from yesterday

Leapfinger 10:50 AM  

@Nancy, WELL SHUT MY MOUTH doesn't have to be in acknowledgment of error. It can be said in response to hearing something astounding enough to be jawdropping. I may have read the phrase before hearing it spoken Down South, but agree about not hearing it in the CT/NY/NJ tristate area. I really like your list of alternatives: seems pretty comprehensive and I want to know howcum.

Thinking that 51A could've been clued [One who Madoff with the money]. Probly 'cause Bernie (no, not that one) is still residing just a few miles North of me in the Butner facility. Wonder what kind of reception the old guy's had there.

S. Dinger 10:55 AM  

The cat isn't alive and dead, @Z. There's two cats in the bag, and that's why people don't understand why there's all that yowling and scratching going on.

Maruchka 10:57 AM  

A Good Friday, this Veterans Day! Thanks, Mr. DG.

Got hung up in the DESERT/dessert imbroglio. Should have known..

Re: Leonard Cohen. Lovely article in the New Yorker recently. Bye, Suzanne's tea and oranges man.

@GeorgeB - TRICKy, indeed. NEWT, Christie, Giuliani, ad naus. Their revenge will be a very cold dish. Brr.

RooMonster 11:02 AM  

Hey All !
Liked a bunch of answers in thi puz. Wasn't super-easy, though, like a bunch of youse (:-P ) thought. Wanted largecheese for CHEESEPIZZA, aok-GAB, niner-LARAM, yRS-SRS,and knew it was either ACETEN or tenace for the blackjack clue, but had to wait on crosses to see which one.

Where's my Q for the pangram?

Shouldn't clue for SASSY be Flippant? The JUSTDESERTS was tricky. Was gonna bitch that it was wrong, but read Rex, Googled term and learned it was correct. WELL, SHUT MY MOUTH!

Liked the lack of dreck. SALUT!

MOOT NEWT (Although you know that ain't gonna happen.)

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:24 AM  

ALMOND Milk -- pet peeve of mine. In the People's Republic of Cambridge MA, they have receptions after concerts where they give you that with your coffee instead of whole milk or cream, in order to not offend the sensibilities of the vegans among us. It doesn't get the complaints it deserves because apparently most sophisticated people drink it black anyhow. Not I.Adding almond 'milk' just makes it taste like weak black coffee.

I had rAt for turn tail, and LAmE for bad way to run, and JUST rEwardS for comeuppance. Took me a long time to finish.

xyz 11:48 AM  

36 minutes for me, that's clearly easy. Some of the long downs came very easily, that helped a lot in time and ease for me. Enough letters allowed easy fills-in. Haven't done a Friday in a while, but this was way easier for me than the last few. It was pretty clean, little rubbish fill.

Zygotic 11:51 AM  

@Erwin - A bag? Well no wonder, that's a lot less comfortable than a box... Pro Tip, two mice.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Cassieopia here, posting from work anonymously because I can't remember my google sign-on.

DNF and found it quite hard. Got CHEESEPIZZA and the entire SW corner, and also WELLSHUTMYMOUTH which just magically appeared to me. But the diabolical cluing and my own lack of knowledge had me so misdirected that I never recovered: YOUcomeheremuch instead of YOULOOKFAMILIAR, Truss instead of TRICK for a bridge unit, Bates Hotel instead of ROACH, Aetna and Cigna before AFLAC, was looking for some kind of nuKE instead of NEWCOKE, restED and placED before PARKED...this puzzle just wasn't my day.

Forgot to comment on yesterday's J puzzle which was absolutely magnificent, probably the most fun I've ever had with a puzzle since I embarked upon this addiction. I learned two things from this blog and you wonderful commenters yesterday: 1. Now I need to start paying attention to who builds these puzzles, because I find myself invariably enjoying any puzzle by Jeff Chen, and 2. I also need to start paying attention to the puzzle pattern itself. Can't believe I missed all those Js in the grid design!!! What an elegant, multi-layered thing that puzzle was!

Passing Shot 12:05 PM  

A little under my average time, and quite enjoyable. Knew DESERTS thanks to a professor who often used this phrase in his writing. Learned OTHO, SCLERA, and BOZ. I'm guessing these are crossword-ese so I should probably log them mentally for future use...

Kath320 12:11 PM  

Had to look up 'baleful.' Dictionary had a picture of Trump.

puzzle hoarder 12:33 PM  

I was pleased to see that BOOMMICS is an all time debut as that was what pushed my solve time into the medium range. TRICK and SKY didn't help matters. As obvious as SKY may seem in retrospect I was convinced it had to be some kind of stand alone entry. TRICK was "tricky" because as much as it's used I refuse to learn anything about bridge.
Did anyone else think MRPIB for 26D? My first guess for 3D was WELLWELLWELLNOW. This may have been wrong but it would be a debut, anyway NERO blew it out of the water. ACDELCO did the same thing to NERO. The correct answers were never hard to find with the exception of that south central section.

evil doug 12:36 PM  

Thank you, Z--and I'll offer a little prayer of gratitude for your grandmother and her son. My dad survived his WWII Navy flying in the Pacific--barely--while two guys on his crew died. Me? I had it soft as Vietnam was winding down....

Not the EVILEST--just
Evil Doug

AZPETE 12:45 PM  

Ah yes almond "milk". Ha! What next? Coke = kola nut milk?

Masked and Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Kinda mediumish FriPuz difficulty, at my house.

Had a heckuva time gettin the last five letters of THATSABIGIF.
Also, that whole day-um NEWCOKE/MCRIB/WAG/PARKED area sure put up a fight.
The rest was pretty smooth sailin.

fave weeject: MOO. Straight, easier than snot shout-out to the solvin herd.
fave fills: A big bunch. Real partial to COYOTES (or, as we here say: "cowtz").
fave YOUdontLOOKFAMILIAR entry: SCLERA. Ain't there another word or name or somesuch that looks a lot like this puppy?

Very admirable GRIDJOB. Thanx, Mr.G.

Masked and Anonym007Us


Teedmn 1:44 PM  

13 minutes isn't my record Friday (which I think is 12+) but it certainly seemed like a breeze today. However, the amount of black ink shows I struggled more than I should have. "toad" at 1A (TROIS fixed that)and Aetna at 5A right off the bat were the first black accretions. ARA made ROACH likely and the top center filled in.

FOG Light was swiftly changed when I saw the clue plural.

I'm with @LMS in that I was TRICKed by TRuss but SKY fixed that and JUST DESERTS went in off the JU so although TRuss and ELhi tried to interfere with my smooth sailing, SCAM ARTIST and changing BaZ to BOZ got me OVER to card games and away from infrastructure.

With NE in place at 29A, I thought, "Nuclear, nope; they didn't have bombs in the Hundred Year's War, oh NEW COla" (which became COKE almost immediately). But I love those sorts of ahas which are like those dreams where the house you are in suddenly has a whole new suite of rooms and you think, "WELL SHUT MY MOUTH, where did this come from?" That's what going from Hundred Year's War to NEW COKE felt like today.

So although Mr. Gulczynski didn't give me a struggle, I'm left feeling sated for a Friday. Thanks.

Numinous 1:45 PM  

Galba, Otho, Vitellius (who's name I never remember), and Vespasian (who built the Flavian amphitheater); the Year of Four Emperors. I read a lot of fiction set in Rome which has prompted me to read some of the source material. Not everybody is that interested but when I was a teenager, my mother was studying ancient Greek and Roman history and used to tell me stuff. She was a vet. Both my father and mother wer Marines which is how they met. My mother was a great fan of Julius Caesar. I find it ironic that she died on the Ides of March.

Thanks to all the vets who returned over the years and a moment of silence for those who did not.

I thought this puzzle was a bit tough. I always flounder when it comes to phrases in puzzles. I enjoy figuring them out though. I remembered that JUST DESERTS, while not being Death Valley, is not Baked Alaska either. I had Bates Motel before ROACH, sAn before LAS, and a few other false starts. Took me forever to get MOOT as theoretical. I also never remember BOZ as being Charles Dickens's nom de plume. All in all, I enjoyed doing this one. Jeff Chen says this would have been his Puzzle of the Week if there wasn't one he likes even better cominng up. Looking forward to it.

Zygotic 3:00 PM  

@Evil Doug - Thanks. The uncle I never knew would be in his mid-90's now and my grandmother passed in 1982. She was a bit of an odd duck and I can't help but wonder if losing her oldest son played a big part in that. Something I will never know.

@Chaos - tl;dr, but my note was just my way of honoring @Evil's request yesterday to put politics aside today and focus on our veterans.

VaBeach puzzler 3:04 PM  

Impressed by number of long & short words with challenging end letters (B & F) in this almost pangram. No Q unless I missed it.

MetroGnome 3:44 PM  

What the hell is an SPF, and HOW the hell are HOT TUBS "jet settings"?

Ampersand 3:53 PM  

Missed opportunity to change LATE to LAME and ACETEN to ACUMEN, creating Rex's new favorite partial: "Eaten by AGRUE"

Don McBrien 3:56 PM  


SPF are [sun] block letters.

And hot tubs have water jets, so "jet setting" as in jet location.

Zygotic 3:57 PM  

@metroGnome - SPF is Sun Protection Factor, the number you find on your sunscreen lotion. HOT TUBS have nozzles (they create the massage/foamy/bubble effect) that are called "jets," so HOT TUBS are a setting for jets.

David L. 4:36 PM  

I was hoping for a ELLIE Goulding video.

kitshef 4:38 PM  

@Leapfinger. I've never heard WELL SHUT MY MOUTH used that way, but it makes sense as an accessory to jaw-dropping. Nice to learn a new use for a familiar phrase.

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

I sure loved "Newt" crossed with "evilest." Thank you, Damon!

GILL I. 5:35 PM  

@Chaos. Go back and read @NCA Pres last Wed. Take a deep breath.
Every post I've read of yours has been filled with politics, innuendos and allusions pointed at your unknown enemy. Why don't you stick to the puzzle? Maybe recount a fun story, maybe actually tell us why you wrote in ROACH instead of Bates...maybe????

kitshef 6:58 PM  

@Leapfinger - I have not heard WELL SHUT MY MOUTH used that way, but it sure make sense as an accessory to 'my jaw dropped'. Nice to hear a familiar phrase used in a new way.

Bill L. 7:02 PM  

@Damon - I appreciate the two OZs stacked up near the middle of the grid. Was it really necessary to leave us the ROACH too?

Seriously, fun puzzle. Liked it a bunch.

Thank you veterans!

Aldo Leopold 8:21 PM  

Anybody else balk at characterizing COYOTES as enemies of anyone? As clued, how about bird sanctuaries as an answer?

AliasZ 8:55 PM  

Loved this one from beginning to end.

Well, until I got to EVILEST. Evil, eviler, evilest. Is that even possible? Evil is evil. What makes the EVILEST eviler than evil? Does the EVILEST top evil in evilness, or can something or someone be even eviler than the EVILEST? Asking for a friend.

ELEM, N-O-P, to the tune of "Twinkle, twinkle little star." Is that Mozart or something?

SCLERA was unknown to me but was fun to learn about, as were the four layers contained therein with their similarly obscure names -- all Greek to me.

After a couple of slices of CHEESE PIZZA tonight, I kicked my SHOOS off and got ready for a pleasant weekend. I look forward to the supermoon (perigee-syzygy) on Monday. I hope the SKY will be clear.

Great puzzle. Thanks, Damon.

RooMonster 10:54 PM  

Hey All !
Liked a bunch of answers in thi puz. Wasn't super-easy, though, like a bunch of youse (:-P ) thought. Wanted largecheese for CHEESEPIZZA, aok-GAB, niner-LARAM, yRS-SRS,and knew it was either ACETEN or tenace for the blackjack clue, but had to wait on crosses to see which one.

Where's my Q for the pangram?

Shouldn't clue for SASSY be Flippant? The JUSTDESERTS was tricky. Was gonna bitch that it was wrong, but read Rex, Googled term and learned it was correct. WELL, SHUT MY MOUTH!

Liked the lack of dreck. SALUT!

MOOT NEWT (Although you know that ain't gonna happen.)

jberg 1:03 AM  

So, OTHO is just another way to spell Otto, right? Fortunately, I had the first O when I came to it, so I avoided the Nero trap.

But I didn't avoid Aetna before AFLAC. Actually, I wanted 'quilt,' suspecting that 'coverage' in the clue was a trick. But there aren't any 3-letter constellations starting with Q, as far as I know. And CHEESE PIZZA, confirmed by BOZ, then made AFLAC obvious. I did find it easy for a Friday -- solved long ago, but I had to run out for an errand before coming here.

I still call it Armistice Day, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. But my thoughts are with all soldiers and all veterans everywhere.

Unknown 1:12 AM  

SALUT is not a toast in French. À la tienne, Étienne !

Anonymous 1:30 AM  

I know it was deleted, but for $Chaos and other Vet's that day, (not from some "sock puppet:

Your last post was, (sorry, just the CA in me), TOTALLY AWESOMEl Didn't serve but try to in other ways.

For Tony. Father-in-Law: Anchors aweiigh - 3 Nam Tours as a medic deployed to the Marines (Glad as hell Navy beat Notre Dame!!!)
Paul, Brother-in-Law: Semper Fi (Desert Shield)
Charles (Ranger) in AK: OORAH (4 tours in Nam)
Charles (Green Beret) in CA: OORAH as well (Ex-fireman as well)
Cousin Darryl: Aim High - 2 tours in Germany in Security Services (Ex-Deputy Sheriff as well)
Ray in CA for 3 tours in Germany: Aim High as well
Won't get into othre cop's and firemen.

You're right! I don't have to defend you. I just wanted to.
----- Original Message -----
From: Wood Home
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2016 10:16 AM
Subject: Fw: George "Chip" Wood

Hi Chaos,
I kept a copy of this as I knew it would be nuked. Thought you would want to see it.
PS-Again, Happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service.
----- Original Message -----
From: Wood Home
To: Wood Home
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2016 11:57 PM
Subject: Re: George "Chip" Wood

Posted 11:50'ishPM PDT on Thursday:
I understand you are asleep and won't read this until you get up. Being on the left coast gives me that luxury.
However, your decisions about what posts to leave in and delete gives me question. It reminds me of a Churchill quote that is admittedly paraphrased: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Rex. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Rex's interest."
I absolutely gave you kudos regarding your breakdown of the puzzles; construction, content and fill. They were deleted.
I also put a post "chastising" @Chaos who definitely has my same political views. Those are deleted.
However, I point out differences between conservatives and liberals and you leave that in.
Again, this forum seems to allow comments on both the puzzles as well as our personal views. I hope you keep it that way. (Also, I wasn't around when there was the "censorship" era, so I really cannot comment on that).
Guess what I'm saying is just be consistent. I hate to use the "schizophrenic" word as it will probably get this deleted as well. Again, it's your blog. Just let us little folk know.

Anonymous 6:30 AM  

WELL_SHUT_MY_MOUTH certainly sums up my shock at this week's events...

spacecraft 12:01 PM  

"I should; I'm your long lost cousin, Marcel Marceau."
"I would if I could."

Who said this was a themeless?

The clues today had more hooks in them than yesterday's puzzle, but then it IS Friday. Actually my only trouble was the natick at OTH_/DE_. Didn't know whether it was A, I, or O. "DEi GRATIA looked the best there, but OTHi? So, OTHa or OTHO. Hmm. In the end, OTHO sounded more "emperorish."

Some of the clues were really ultra-stretched. HOTTUBS can be jet seats, or even, I guess, sittings, but jet settings? I mean, they're devices that have jet settings ON them, but they aren't THEM. This clue fluttered the old Space flag almost out of the pocket. I must be in a kind mood, probably because I've lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks on my wheat-free diet. So CHEESEPIZZA is okay--if you make a wheatless dough.

Hand up for misspelling 25-down with an extra S, which held me up for a bit. As OFL said, there were snags, but none that took too long. I'd rate it medium on the slightly easy side--for a Friday. I love SCAMARTIST crossing SOSUEME. Will give a "Yo Adrian!" shout-out to DOD TALIA Shire. Birdie.

rondo 12:38 PM  

In the SW: What do you get when Brian ENO crosses AC/DC and ELO? ACDELCO!

Two areas of trouble slowed me down. TYro for TYKE and the popular JUSTDESsert thing. Otherwise clean and a decent workout.

There are no shades of gray about it, CUTE yeah baby ELLIE Goulding can sing.

This puz was just FAB. Certainly can’t BASH it. I could take one like this every day. SALUT!

Burma Shave 1:00 PM  




leftcoastTAM 2:48 PM  

One of the easier, smoother Friday puzzles in while.
Liked the helpful long downs and the almost as long acrosses..

Cleverly clued NEWCOKE helped reveal the MCRIB. That cross was the last to fall.

Had Niner (as in SF 49ers)before LARAM, which opened the ROACH motel.

The OTHO/DEO/CUTE cluster in the SW took a bit of spadework.

Nice work by Damon G.

Diana,LIW 3:10 PM  

'Twas easy, except for my mistakes and misspellings. so dnf

fun anyway

French crowd, noted bomb, hook remover, block letters - get thee to a punnery

back to my book of "Wonderful Wednesdays"

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 4:42 PM  

Way late today. Furnace quit, and it's -6 Celsius out there. Waiting for a technician to show up. Brrr.

Very nice puzzle which gave me a couple of fits. I too thought the word was DESsERTS, and leaving off that last S bothered me. Leaving that enigma I invoked that wonderful fast food place, Mr RIB (sounds tasty, no?). The rest of the puzzle came relatively cleanly, and then I went back to the two troublesome places, and the lights dawned. Damn fine clue on the NEW COKE answer, and I learned something about DESERTS. Also liked the "French crowd" clue and answer.

@Spacey - think of "jet settings" as "places you find jets". I think HOT TUBS works just fine.

I think I like this constructor.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

Great puzzle, but I have one complaint. In what universe does "hunky-dory" mean FAB? "Hunky-dory" means "okay" or "good enough"... you wouldn't call the Beatles the "Hunky-dory Four" unless you were attempting to damn them with faint praise. I ended up putting in PAR, with crosses SPP and ROZ. I didn't have much confidence in this, but didn't have the patience to come up with the actual fill. I liked the FAB clues for BOOMMICS, TROIS, and NEWCOKE, however.

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