Balbo right-hand man to Mussolini / FRI 12-16-16 / Postprandial handouts / Ho Slumdog Millionaire song / Scandalous '80s initials / Server of pink champagne on ice in song

Friday, December 16, 2016

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith and George Barany

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ELVIN BISHOP (25D: "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" hitmaker of 1976) —
Elvin Richard Bishop (born October 21, 1942) is an American blues and rock music singer, guitarist, band leader and songwriter. He was an original member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Elvin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016. (wikipedia)
• • •

SPECIAL MESSAGE for Solvers in Syndication (for the week of January 15-January 22, 2017)

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Now on to the puzzle!

YEOH is right. Actually, I'm pronouncing that "yeow" in my head, which is undoubtedly wrong. Still, my point stands, which is this one was rough—not in a tough way, but in an ouchy way. The top and bottom parts, despite being (apparently) far less demanding to fill well, are somehow filled 4x worse than the quadstack area (which itself isn't nearly as interesting as most recent stacks from Mr. Ashwood-Smith). I have no idea what's happening up top and below. Boatloads of subpar-to-bad-fill, inexplicable Scrabble-f*cking with "X"s, crosswordese galore incl. ADAIR, ORR, ODEON, NISAN, and the inexplicable revival of TOSSPOTS. And yet the only real groany stuff in the middle section is ORARE and HEA. Baffling. Since the quadstack itself isn't scintillating today, its basic solidity does not do nearly enough to undo the top/bottom garbagefest. Shout-out to HAD A HAND IN and COPACETIC, which are pleasant diversions. And shout-out to ELVIN BISHOP (25D: "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" hitmaker of 1976), whose name I couldn't remember, but whose song I sure do:

The NYT has to stop this gratuitous use of the near-future President's family, and the ALT-right in general, in its puzzles. OBAMA (and MALIA) appeared a lot because his letter pattern is so grid-friendly. 60% vowels, terminal A—both useful features. And you can clue OBAMA only one way. Nowhere else to go. ERIC, however, has a near-infinity of other clues ... and yet you go to this smug fascist halfwit ... twice in one week!? I'm in no way saying the puzzle has a rightward tilt (that's absurd, just as absurd as the opposite claim). I'm saying the incoming administration is repugnant on every level and casual references to them (and their Nazi, sorry, ALT-right supporters) in crossword puzzles normalizes them. It's the most normalizing thing ever, actually. The banal neutrality of a crossword clue. Fuck all that. All of it. Also, I happen to know that in this case, the ERIC clue was an editorial decision, and one that did Not sit well with at least one of the constructors. I'd be furious too if someone rubbed that shit on my puzzle. Even if you're trying to draw some vague connection to Mussolini's right-hand man there at 45D: ___ Balbo, right-hand man to Mussolini (ITALO) ... no.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Mike in Mountain View 3:26 AM  

Congratulations, George. Fun puzzle. I'm curious how you and MAS split the duties here; it would be funny if he did the quad stack (his signature element) and you did the rest!

Agree with Rex on the ERIC clue. Will Shortz had better respect Cartman's AUTHORITAH and clue ERIC as God meant it to be clued. Actually, come to think of it, has anybody ever seen the President-elect and Cartman in the same room?

Unknown 3:45 AM  

My sleep-wake cycle seems to be synched today with @Rex's ... so allow me to thank you for the review, on behalf of @MAS and myself.

We constructed this puzzle nearly two years ago, and have written about the construction process elsewhere ... both about this specific puzzle and about the generalities. I just want to emphasize the truly collaborative nature, both in the development of the central stack, and in the outer regions.

A surprisingly high percentage--though certainly not all--of our clue suggestions made it through the editorial process. For example, I had hoped to draw attention to the legendary Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH), home to over twenty Nobel laureates including Albert Einstein. However, that reference may have been too esoteric, and the old-fashioned verb suffix works just fine.

We'll check back later after more of you have weighed in ... meanwhile, feel free to communicate off-Rex with either of us. Looking forward to your thoughts!

Unknown 4:05 AM  

Congratulations, George!

My solve began in earnest in the middle. It always feels nice to plop down a 15-letter entry without any crosses, and HOTEL CALIFORNIA was a gimme. (On the other hand, I have had to listen to that song way too many times and have been rendered incapable of enjoying it ever again.) LAID IT ON THE LINE is another nice grid-spanner, but what I really liked was ...

... COPACETIC and LA VIE BOHEME. Great entries both. The latter mystified during solving. I had LAV---OHEME for what seemed like ages, and I couldn't figure out what could possibly fit there.

The SW nearly did me in. I had HAD THE LAST LAUGH (my favorite of the 15's), but I didn't know ELVIN BISHOP, "JAI Ho," and ITALO Balbo. General GAGE was bunkered down in the back of my memory, as was the spelling of Michelle YEOH. I don't know diddly about cholesterol. I am neither a lepidopterous nor a botanist so that butterfly-favored flower was a blank. On top of that, I had put in a wrong answer: NO SIR instead of NO SEX. (My reasoning was that "NO SIR Please, We're British" was referring to how Americans use "sir" for any man while in England it's used only with actual gentlemen.) The I in SIR seemed to work as the terminal letter for a pasta. So there I was with E-GN----I, trying to come up with names of Italian pastas, utterly flummoxed. I don't know why it took me so long to see EGG, but when I finally did, EGG NOODLE fell, I figured out that it was NO SEX, and the terminal X gave me PHLOX. A narrow escape!

Fearing that I won't solve a puzzle and then solving it—that experience almost always makes me disposed to enjoy a puzzle. That sense of accomplishment!

If I try to be objective, well, I'd say this puzzle has some fun fill with (as Rex points out) a healthy side of ONS, PTL, and ETH. I found it to be more lively than the usual quad-stack, and the only place that I found myself actively irked by the fill was the NW (CASCO, ODEON, ADAIR, ONS).

Liked the clues for FIONA (Apple on an iPod, maybe) and IT GUY (He can help after a crash).

And "NO SEX Please, We're British" might just be the best partial in crossword history.

jae 4:25 AM  

Top third easy-medium (April before NISAN didn't help), quad stack very easy (I assume HOTEL CALIFORNIA was a gimme for many - Hi @lms), bottom third medium tough. ELVIN BISHOP was almost a WOE, IT GUY was not obvious, ITALO and YEOH were WOEs, and I'm still not sure I get the clue for RIA...just looked it up and it's an inlet (which I knew) formed by the partial submergence of a river valley (which I didn't know). So, easy-medium sorta works for me.

Pretty lively quad stack, some fine long downs, liked it but @Rex is right about some of the fill/clueing. That said, nice one guys!

John Child 5:11 AM  

What good fun this was. I was disappointed to decide that NOSEy was British enough to pass and to flounder on spelling Michelle Yeoh's name, leaving a msytererious but vaguely plausible flower down there for the DNF.

I confidently plunked in let it all hang out at 38-A. A four bagger I suppose is a home run? Never heard that called a TATER. Taters be what my uncle peeled during WWII. The gratest generation for him.

Thanks to both constructors. Death to autocorrect, without which this would have taken half as long to type.

Loren Muse Smith 5:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 5:40 AM  

George – I know, right? I was wondering why the clue for ETH wasn’t a reference to the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. Hah! What a mouthful. You don’t want your dinner partner whispering that beaut to you without the ole postprandial MINT.

I know many here object to political talk, but since I work out in the boonies among a bunch of Trump supporters, it’s comforting to come here and hang out with so many of My People – Extreme Trump Haters.

So, Rex, the highlight of your write-up was calling Eric a “smug fascist halfwit.” A. Men. The guy makes my skin crawl, and he started disgusting me way before the election.

My vote would be ERIC Ripert. I met him when I ate (all by myself - long story) at the Bernardin and he was shy and he gave me an extra course and a Guide Michelin Book and I’m not making that up. I can name-drop with the best of them, buddy.

@Martin A – I had a similar experience with NO SEX, EGG NOODLES, and PHLOX, except I had “phlyx/Italy” and never saw the goof- paper solver and all that.

After “no sir,” I started joking around with myself, thinking of other possiblities. No fun… no gum… no msg… no joy,…no use… no tops… we’re British. But I was just messing around and not trying to dishonour the British contingent here.

Took me forever to see 6A SPOIL for “baby.” Kept considering “spawn.” That word feels so evil. The president-elect’s spawn has a PHLOX garden just so he can pull the wings off butterflies.

Loved the clue for IT GUY. I keep thinking of the “it girl.” Yeah – Makayla over there is the resident It Girl, and she’s actually dating the IT GUY now ever since he put a VPN on her laptop.

“Homer” before TATER, “it a” before HE A, and “c’mon” before I’M ON. Oh, and “of the ages”/ “abs” before OF THE PAST/PEC.

George, Martin – I’m ashamed to say early on I put in “ones” off the ON in ARRIVES ON THE DOT. I was feeling bad for you both. So glad to erase it.

Let’s hope that Putin won’t be able to say he HAD THE LAST LAUGH because he HAD A HAND IN our bidness.

@Chess Player from yesterday - my language “slips” daily, and I’m not ignorant. Does the word “nice” for thee still mean “foolish?” (@Ruy Lopez – pawn to king 4 every time, man. Never could get my mind around the Queen’s Gambit. Probably due to ignorance.)

George, MAS – I liked the grid-spanners. And I didn’t really notice the ORAREs or ODEONs because they were upstaged by COPACETIC, HAD A HAND IN, TRIAL JUDGE, OF THE PAST, LA VIE BOHEME… Good stuff there.

Anonymous 6:16 AM  

Keep in mind, this dude's a college teacher. Can't wait for the Supreme Court nominations. He'll call in sick due to being curled up in the fetal position. Class will be all like, "Oh, darn, we don't get to hear him refer to himself 76 times".

Muscato 6:28 AM  

Oy - lost two minutes because I'm a total idiot. Usually, when I finish and the app gives the disappointing little "almost there/there's an error" message intstead of the congratulatory piano riff, I then go over the whole thing because it generally means I've hit a zero instead of an O at some point while filling.

This morning, it was because early on I decided to downgrade the level of hostelry serving that damn pink Champagne to MOTEL CALIFORNIA and never looked back. Two minutes spent hunting for the errant 0 instead of O before I caught it.

As for that weak-chinned eejit, I'd rather have it clued "Monty Python's Half-a-Bee," but I suppose that's right up there with that Swiss academy in terms of Friday-appropriateness...

Dolgo 6:46 AM  

I thought this one was harder than usual, even for a Friday. I worked hard enough on it around midnight to solve the insomnia problem, but didn't finish. So up to let the dog out about 3 am and then gave it another shot. Why was it harder? I'm not sure. Hotel California drew a complete blank--harder than E. Bishop. I guess that's due to my advanced age. Hey, I agree wholeheartedly with the political opinions expressed so far. But I'm getting SO TIRED of dealing with this stuff over and over everywhere. Can't we all take a vacation from this in at least A FEW moments in our lives? Isn't two years enough already?? It all just makes my stomach hurt.

Passing Shot 6:50 AM  

my solve was similar to @Martin Abresch, but a misreading of the clue tense gave me LAysITON THELINE. Took me a long time to figure out why TRyAL wasn't working. Something in the back of my head recalled NOSEX, but to no avail; I still had to google/"duck duck go" Balbo and the proper spelling for YEOH.

Rex -- thank you for the rant. These are unprecedented times, with what I fear is a true Constitutional crisis brewing. People must speak out whenever and wherever they can. This political disaster should not be normalized.

Z 7:11 AM  

Hmm. I wonder how I knew 1D so readily?

I liked this way way more than Rex. I thought this was relatively-ese free, so was surprised at Rex's comments. The 3s are hardly wonderful, but they aren't especially over-used or tired either. I prefer the HEX/X-ER cross to HEM/MER, HEP/PER, HEF/FER, or HEH/HER,

Huh? My E.R.I.C. clue wouldn't have been as esoteric as @George Barany's, but close.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

Started the puzzle after being woken by some late night revelers, went back to sleep, and finished this morning. I liked it more than Rex, and am not at all horrified by Eric Trump being a crossword clue. It is kind of fun to see OFL get his outrage on over these kinds of things. Boombox, afro, homey, Eric Trump, bad fill, crosswordese, Scrabble f**king, etc. I hope it's Will's way of "reaching out" to a disgruntled customer. Probably not, but even paranoids have enemies.

As to the personal attacks on Dr Barany, I think it's a little over the top. And remember, kids, this is exactly why Rex pulled the plug on free comments last year. Don't like the Professor's comments? No problem. Let him know. Don't like the Professor? Keep it zipped.


Ben Coe 7:50 AM  

@Rex, I was surprised at the lack of response in Crossworld to Monday's puzzle. But, wow, you really didn't disappoint today. Pretty much perfect.

Mr. Grumpypants 7:50 AM  

Names, names, names! Oh God, make them stop. Make them stop. Oh, the inhumanity of it all!

Ben Coe 7:52 AM  

@Dolgo...Can't take a vacation from life until you're dead.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

Congrats to Martin Ashwood Smith. He co created today's NYT puzzle and individually constructed today's featured Washington Post puzzle. A rare achievement !!

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Crosswords are supposed to be fun! Rex's comments were disgusting, way over the top. Have fun you all. I'm out of here. Peace!

TomAz 8:03 AM  

ADAIR/CASCO. blech. Naticked on the A. Never heard of either one. I guessed ODAIR (you know, Irish, O'Dair) and COSCO. blech blech blech.

Marcie 8:05 AM  


I am not a robot 8:15 AM  

Fun. It was a suss fest. I finished a Friday. Thank you for that.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

@Marcie Watts - A TATER is one of the approximately 897 synonyms for a home run, a four-bagger being another.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

@Rex, the NYT CANNOT stop using that clue for that name. They're painted into a corner. Journalistically at this point it would be a sign of bias (yes I know). You just have to wait until the pre Drumph stash of puzzles runs out. And be mindful of the sensitive, son, don't say the word in front of the ladies.

kitshef 8:27 AM  

My DNF seems to be unique so far -- SaL/ORARa. Turns out SaL is Spanish, and ORARa is Shona. Crossing foreign words have gotten me before.

I normally admire MAS puzzles, but this one felt a little undercooked. PTL, ETH, INA, LDL, ONS, HEA are pretty grim. ADAIR, NISAN, CASCO (?????????), GAGE, YEOH, and ITALO are all obscure. Obscure is good on a Friday, but that’s a lot of obscure.

Weird clue for PHLOX - a heckuva lot of flowers are attractive to butterflies. Hard to see even with the P?L?X in place, crossed by those two PPP WoEs.

Potato used to be used as slang for a baseball, often shortened to 'tater. A home run would be called a long TATER, now shortened to TATER. So it's a shortening of a phrase that has a shortening of a word that was itself slang.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

OFL grouchy this morning. Review was both overly harsh and scattershot. I totally dont get the bugbear about high value scrabble letters. Words are made of all the letters in the alphabet; so what if Z X Q or J pop in? This puzzle hardly overused them. And where does the proscription end? What if any are the desired upper limts on K? On WHY? On F? Hell, you cant even say "scrabble fucking" without F and K! Seems to me that this whole concept has morphed from a stylistic point that occasionally has merit to a mere tic that reflects irritability.
As to the puzzle, I disliked HEA and thought the clue for ITGUY was a little abstruse, but otherwise it was fine. Tough for me coz of a general disinterest in pop culch leading to a dismal performance on highly specific items like what line appears in a song or who had a hit in 1976, but my personal mental map is my problem, not the constructors. Agree with the observation on normalization of the gang of creeps now in power. Overall, a pleasant puzzle that started me off with a few gimmes butkept me working for the rest.

Mordechai 8:29 AM  

Have to disagree with clue choice for 41 across. BCE is not pre-AD. BCE means Before the Common Era, in which the years are referred to as CE. AD stands for Anno Domini meaning "the year of our Lord", years prior to that would be BC as in "Before Christ". People who are not comfortable with this terminology would use the BCE/CE designations and would never mix BCE with AD.

Tim Pierce 8:48 AM  

@Rex, the NYT CANNOT stop using that clue for that name. They're painted into a corner. Journalistically at this point it would be a sign of bias (yes I know).

Part of the reason we got to this place in the first place is that the press -- and we -- have mistaken being impartial with being neutral. Newspapers should be as impartial as possible, and not mix partisan preferences with news reporting, but that doesn't mean that the press has an obligation to be neutral about real, existential threats to our democracy, such as those presented by our impending commander-in-chief and his bloodless clone offspring.

When the NYT stops publishing puffy style pieces about alt-right fashion plates, when they stop running warm family profiles of white nationalist organizers, then I'll listen to handwringing that they might show a sign of bias. Until then, they have a long road of soul-searching ahead of them.

Moly Shu 9:05 AM  

@MAS/@GeorgeBarany, nice one! Although the PHLO?/NOSE? cross made me do an alphabet run 4 or 5 times. Never heard of either. Tremendous shout out to @CascoKid, wonder if he's still plugging away.
Reading @Rex rant that the NYT is normalizing our Pres. elect made me lol. Yeah right @Rex, and the Washington Post is next I suppose? Don't let your hatred for Trump cloud your judgement. Oh wait, too late. Keep up the rants, they are entertaining!!!

Unknown 9:11 AM  

Easy puzzle in my view. I will be a little bit of a nitpicker but I thought 41 across was a bad clue. BCE (Before the common era) is the jewish term since they do not recognize Christ's birth. clue would have been better had it been Pre-C.E. but maybe they did not want to use CE because CE is in the answer

Stanley Hudson 9:11 AM  

Puzzle isn't that bad; OFL is overly harsh.

OTOH, he's spot on about normalizing Der Fuehrer-elect and his Children of the Corn offspring.

@Tim Pierce, amen brother.

@Anonymous 6:16, I'm a college teacher, and you're a flaming asshole.

TomAz 9:15 AM  

Have to disagree with clue choice for 41 across. BCE is not pre-AD.

Agreed. Valid complaint.

Dorothy Biggs 9:17 AM  

@Marcie Watts: Evidently there are a bunch of baseball slang terms for a home run. TATER must be one of them. Tater. I could be wrong on this, but that probably caught on sometime in the 20s or earlier.

@Mordechai Beizer...I thought it was BCE and ACE? But I agree, this was a mixed metaphor of historical terminology.

Had I not mentioned briefly yesterday the scourge of phylloxera, I probably would still be staring at the YEOH/PHLOX crossing. YEO- could really be about 26 different possibilities.

I loved the clue for HOTELCALIFORNIA..."pink champagne on ice" out of context was driving me nuts. And I liked COPACETIC...I need to use that word more. Very 60s. or 50s. or the hippy 70s.

And don't think that I didn't notice that there were all of those long crosses with no reference to "ONES" in the lot of them. Congrats on that.

I would agree that cluing ERIC as it was here makes a statement. With a common name like that, you have to go out of your way to clue it that way. It's that "going out of your way" part that is so utterly contemptible. You didn't have to do it, but you did. It's like poking at a sore wound. I would love to hear WS's defense of going down this road...intentionally...not once, but twice this week. Sounds like someone has been smitten and can't stop thinking of ERIC.

That's okay. We will all have the last laugh in the end. This little experiment in dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight is going to play out and show the world, and maybe more importantly those white folks who continue to vote against their self interests based on their strangle hold of racist thoughts, that the GOP does not care for anyone. They say they do. That's how they get votes. But they don't. These next few years we get to see what they do when they get full rein. It won't be fun, it will be ugly as sh*t, but make no mistake, it won't work. There won't be jobs flooding into the rust belt. There won't be less catering to corporations. There won't be a fu*king wall.

ERIC indeed.

Charles Flaster 9:23 AM  

Yay Rex--beautiful political comment.
Loved this one with such beautiful construction. Loved the intersection of YEOH/ PHLOX--just Neato!!
How about a new way to clue JAI!!
Writeovers-- ADAIR for ADAle and OF THE PAST for in THE PAST.
Creative cluing for NARCS, SPOIL, ROUGE, and IT GUY.
If you like creative puzzling you should visit George's site; great stuff.
Thanks MAS and GB.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

@Tim, I tried to contain the complete acknowledgement of what you've said in the phrase "I know." I agree word for word with what you've said. But the fact remains.

Nancy 9:34 AM  

When the NW seemed far too easy for a Friday -- 1A really does determine how one initially reacts to a puzzle -- I was all set to complain. But fortunately (and then unfortunately!) it got much harder. As @Mr. Grumpypants (7:50) said: All those names! I hated them too, Mr. G., and also wanted them to stop. I thought that 25D was going to be one of the ELVISes; I didn't know the long 31A song; I didn't know the 11D song (though when it came in, I recognized it). YEOH??? Oh, please.

I never thought of that kind of grate at 49D, and therefore resisted ASHES, even as the crosses came in. (That was fair.) What wasn't fair was 33D. No!!!!! A TRIAL JUDGE either calls the shots in court or on the court, but not "on court." That's a deliberate attempt to mislead, but not a fair one.

How does the 32D Masonic motto translate, George? Labore est ORARE. Does that mean "work and speak"? (My Latin isn't as it once was. Or wasn't.)

I couldn't reconcile AFT at 28A with HOMER at 30D, since I absolutely knew that both had to be right. I never heard of TATER -- but eventually I had to put it in. And when HOTEL CALIFORNIA finally appeared as the last long clue to come in, I fairly jumped for joy. This was a mixed bag for me. Very much enjoyed the non-PPP. Very much did not enjoy all the PPP.

jberg 9:41 AM  

Yeah, I guess this should fave been easy -- only I don't know my Jewish months, never saw either Rent or Hotel California, put in the obvious homER at 39D, and thought maybe serving pink champagne on ice was something The Lady (who) Is a Tramp wouldn't do, which made me put in HaTEs CALIFORNIo -- that was enough to make me see TATER, but then I had EsVIN_ SHOP at 24D. I figured that was some obscure music TRAINING SEMINAR, but then finally noticed that aRARE should be ORARE (I'd wanted 'amare,' not being up on my Masonic mottos.)

So basically, I ground it out.

If you go with the English spelling, ERIC is the first European to reach Greenland.

konnofromtokyo 9:52 AM  

well said rex

Mr. Benson 9:52 AM  

Amen to the ERIC rant, every word of it. Maybe this audience -- the world of NYT readers and crossword solvers -- is part of the closed intellectual circle that Trumpers apparently resent so deeply. Maybe this is part of the problem. Some would blame the lack of outreach to the other half of America for our electoral fiasco. I'm going to try harder to see things from the perspective of the underemployed Rust Belt guys who turned out to wield outsize influence this year. But I refuse to accommodate the worldview of those who are objectively wrong about so many things. Their feelings are not as valid as my facts. They'd probably call my view elitist, and that's where we're all at an impasse.

Anyway, the crossword. 90% easy for me, including the top. Spent as much time on the "ELVIN who?"/JAI/PHLOX/ITALO/YEOH area as on the rest of the puzzle combined.

Sir Hillary 9:54 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. The 15s are all solid, but best of all are the six 9+ downs that knife through them. OK, the price to pay is things like the brutal CASCO/ADAIR cross, the HAD... dupe, and some junky 3s -- I'll happily pay that price to get the good stuff.

ELVINBISHOP made me chuckle, as "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" was on constant AM rotation when I got my first Radio Shack stereo. At the time, I thought Bishop was the singer, but it was Mickey Thomas, who later joined Jefferson Starship (and then just plain Starship) to record, among other things, "We Built This City", perhaps the most reviled song in the history of pop/rock music.

I'm hard-pressed to believe that putting someone in a crossword puzzle really normalizes them, but if people want to be upset, be my guest. But @Rex, it seems like you let your outrage over ERIC color your overall view -- I mean, what the hell is wrong with TOSSPOTS?

The FIONA clue is fabulous. That A was the last letter I wrote in, and only then did I understand the clue.

Congrats and thanks to MAS and @George Barany!

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Thanks for saying what needed to be said re Eric Trump.

mathgent 9:58 AM  

@Moly Shu (9:05): Well put. Once Rex is able to pull himself together and think about it, he will realize that the son of POTUS doesn't need the NYT crossword.

Katzzz 10:07 AM  

Man, I knew Elvin Bishop and this still played hard for me. Wanted the flower to be peony. Held on to it until it wilted and then tried pansy. Finally got phlox, when "no sex" fell into place and I finished. Very good Friday workout, even with tosspot, which didn't need the slight misdirection in the clue.

Hungry Mother 10:10 AM  

Off by one letter again. It seems as though this week I'm in a rut. As I check through the puzzle after not getting the "tada", I somehow miss looking at the small, simple answers. Today, I had "oms" instead of ONS because I confuse ODEON with "odium". Maybe tomorrow I can sort this out.

RAD2626 10:13 AM  

TATER as a synonym for a home run as been around for a long time. Reggie Jackson used the term regularly and former Red Sox and Brewer slugger George Scott used it basically exclusively. Another famous use of a "tater" in baseball occurred when a first baseman threw back a white potato he had in his pocket to the pitcher after a pickoff attempt and then tagged out the runner with the secreted ball when he took his lead.

Had a DNF. put in ASONg for in concert which left me with BCg which seemed marginally okay. Apart from my own Mr. Potato moment, liked the puzzle. Thought the 15's were really good, gettable and well clued, with maybe only TRAINING SEMNAR forced. Liked SE corner a lot.

QuasiMojo 10:13 AM  

Do we really know that Eric the Red was the "first European" to reach Greenland? So we are told but that doesn't make it fact as this entire election cycle has made clear. There may have been numerous other "europeans" who got there but did not come back to tell us about it. Or didn't feel it was worth bragging about. I mention all this because facts are fragile, pliable things.

I dislike seeing a mention of any Trump in the NYT puzzle not because they are "smug halfwits" to use Rex's odious and ill-considered phrase. But because they are just contemporary junk fill. Like so much else in this puzzle.

I don't want the supposedly best puzzle in the world to be a flashmob meme about tacky present-day life. It is meant to be (at least for me) an ESCAPE from reality. I think the Times is headed down the drain by emphasizing too much pop culture and political crap in its divertissements lately, and increasingly at an alarming rate. (By the way the clue yesterday should have said "bons mots" not "bon mots.")

Yeoh, man! Yech! Yeow, indeed. Give us back the taste level and challenging puzzles of yore by Will Weng and Eugene Maleska.

Rod Mann, Idyllwild CA 10:16 AM  

Great political comments, here's my take for all you snowflakes out there like little Rexie. Hey dumb fuck...Trump's the prez.
I've actually come to terms with what the left feels Trump will do and I can embrace it. First he's going to kill all the gays. Then he's going to kill all the AAs, Latinos (except Rick, of course), muzzies, and everyone else who's not white. Then he's going to rape everyone's wives, daughters, aunts, grannies, you name it. Then he's going to rape everyone's dogs ad maybe sheep if you have any. After he recovers from that he's going to launch nukes at every major superpower in the world including Germany and destroy the world. There's a lot more, but the key is he's doing this because he's a NAZI! How do I know all these salient facts? Because I listen to the MSM, duh!

Hartley70 10:20 AM  

@George and MAS together created a Friday puzzle that I found challenging and fun. I always get a kick out of stacks and the center quad did not disappoint. I should have known immediately that MAS had a hand in this, but I didn't hit the info button until completion when I was delighted to see who entertained me this morning. Thanks, guys!

The stacks were easier to complete than the fill. I got stuck at the top when I had difficulty seeing SPOIL and the attendant downs. LAVIEBOHEME had to be teased out from crosses. I loved COPACETIC. ELVISBISHOP was crazy unknown. Was I in a coma at some point? MARMALADE and EGGNOODLE were nicely clued. TOSSPOT was a favorite.

In retrospect I can see how the collaboration kept the puzzle from easy classification. It wasn't too much of anything and it felt really smart. I quite enjoyed it!

@Rex, I so feel your pain and @passingshot's admonition to speak out is spot on. I find myself having a trumper tantrum at least once a day when the unreality of events meets a glass of wine in my hand.

Maruchka 10:27 AM  

Ah, for the old days, when Trump was a proto-fascist and Cruz was Joe McCarthy. No way either of those boys would win - especially Trump! Who HAs THE LAST LAUGH now? Argh. I'm with the grumpy pants league.. that said, ERIC is perfectly respectable as a cross to bear.

Liked this puzzle. Everything just fell into place, once I remembered that flox is not spelled that way. No do-overs, no googles. Thanks, MA-S and GB.

@GeorgeB - Your laureate comment reminds me that Patti Smith sang 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" at the Nobel literature award ceremony. I wasn't award that Nobel performers usually do their own music, but Patti thought Dylan's song was a better choice. The New Yorker article and video are online. Layers of meaning.

Maruchka 10:30 AM  

That's aware, not award..

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Rex, you've really done a disservice to GB and MAS by opening up the political worm can. It's one thing if a contributor starts it, quite another if you do. There are enough blogs that provide this type of political banter without this one devolving into such a site.

The puzzle was pleasantly doable. I naticked at both square 1 (R instead of C) and square 52 (M instead of T). I'm ok with it, this is how I learn.

The quad stack was fun to do because I actually could do it. This is the type of puzzle that I like. Thank you GB and MAS!

Wednesday's Child

WhoisMark 10:32 AM  

I took a natick at the intersection of CASCO & ONS when I interpreted "Current positions?" as the watery type of currents and guessed ENS thinking navy rank. The Maine geography portion of the cross was not going to help although now I can see how CASCO looks more likely than my CASCE.

Wm. C. 10:33 AM  

CASCO fell in right away. Of course, I visit there with friends who spend summers on Cliff Island in Casco Bay.

Mm-m-mmm! I'm thinking about those lobster dinners!

Crane Poole 10:35 AM  

Blargh. DNF. Top-center, could not come up with SPOIL. Should've but couldn't. I'M ON? Nooo, I'M IN or C'MON. Had the BOHEME half of that answer but otherwise mystified, misspelled MARMeLADE, knew ORR but not NISAN. And so... My baby was SPOCK.

YEOH/PHLOX/ITALO - not quite Crosby, Stills, and Nash. And ORARE/SEL. Many hats off @George and to @MAS but you beat me today.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

One would think (or at least hope) that a college professor would be learned enough to manifest intelligence over emotion and not allow oth-er(ic)s to have such total control of him. Chill, Rex.

Tim Pierce 10:38 AM  

Folks, if you think it an overstatement to say that 5D "normalizes" the Trump regime, I encourage you to contemplate how you would feel if you saw HITLER clued as, say, "popular beer hall speaker" or "Braun accessory?" I don't know about you, but it doesn't sit right with me to see someone who represents such a profound historical evil clued in such banal, lighthearted ways.

That's what normalization is. It's the ongoing process of presenting something morally revolting (or at least problematic) in benign contexts, with the cumulative effect of making us more willing to consider them normal as time goes on.

Of course it is possible for a crossword puzzle to normalize evil, the same way that a television program, a t-shirt, or a knock-knock joke can normalize evil. We have an obligation to take this seriously and not to allow our moral scales to be miscalibrated this way.

Cassieopia 10:39 AM  

I got super excited when I saw the constructor's names, because I was, like, "Oooh, I know that name from the blog!" So I had a fan girl moment there, George Barany!

First NW corner went very fast, having visited Casco ME many times, and the others were easy (except for DIVA which was nicely clued!) 5 down *was* jarring, because when it is clued that way, the only image that comes to my mind is an a**hole holding a dead leopard with a smug look on his face. Why not clue "Julia Roberts' brother" and make it a true retro puzzle, since Elvin Bishop was in there too? BONUS: Millions would be able to drink their morning coffee while solving, and not lose their appetites. Thank goodness for COPACETIC which made the sun come out again, I haven't seen or heard that word in a while and it came immediately to mind given the clue; it helped that SERVI_E was screaming for a C.

The NW spoiled me, because then the going got harder. Had April before NISAN, and pin before HEX, and had to cheat by googling YEOH, ORARE/SEL, and ITALO. Thank goodness for HOTELCALIFORNIA which made me feel smart - I got a long one straight off without having to google! Of such small victories is happiness made.

Really loved the clue for RIA although I was toying with "dam" for a while even though it didn't make sense. Had HoLdS before HALTS which
to me fit the clue better, but puzz didn't work that way.

Had a PC moment with ITGUY, because as an ITgal myself (although not on the Help Desk), a SHE can help after a crash, too. But the cluing was fair and that was just a wish more than a complaint. Constructors, the gauntlet has been thrown down - ITGAL next time, please.

Overall, this was a happy Friday puzzle for me. I got through the vast majority of it without googling, and it was just the right challenge level for me. My time was above my Friday average, but on average, I google a lot more for a Friday. This one made me think and had some nice AHA moments (DIVA, ASHES, HEX, PTL, TRAININGSEMINAR, and FIONA - loved the FIONA.)

Thank you!

GILL I. 10:39 AM  

CONDE without blinking an eye. I love that magazine - it's classy. SPOIL next in, lickety split and then HEX because I know all about voodoo dolls. Wow, says I...I NEVER get the top three acrosses on a Friday, but I did today. That helped me tons in getting all that upstairs puzzle part. Like @jae, I had APRIL instead of NISAN because I don't really know my Jewish months. Easily fixed with the wonderful LA VIE BOHEME.
The price you pay for a lovely constructed puzzle that includes just a few minor three letter words, is inconsequential in my view. This was fun!
I'll go back to Mrs. HEX. When I lived in Caracas, we had a Jamaican maid (I know - wrong part of the world but stuff like that happens) who taught me lots of strange voodoo things. She showed me how to make the doll. She'd take two popsicle sticks and tie them in a cross then add bits of yarn and some hair from our puppy and her own hair. Then she said she needed to add some blood to the doll so she would prick her finger with my mother's sewing needle. After the fillings were done and the cloth wrapped around the doll, she would begin summoning the spirit gods. What I remember the most was her telling me to be very careful when casting a spell and sticking needles in the doll because everything I wished for would come true. I think I'll make a voodoo doll today.
Martin George, thanks for a good fun Friday.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Congratulations, George and MAS, on a great puzzle. I think it is great that you were able to use some of the rarer letters in the alphabet. I don't see that as a problem. I think Rex would have given you a much nicer review if he hadn't gone into an uncontrollable rage at seeing "Eric" in the puzzle. Life must be sad when just the mention of a person's name in a crossword can throw you into a tantrum. I suppose we can be thankful Ivanka's name is not crossword friendly or then we would have to hate on her. The quad stack had some good answers but some of the other proper names seemed rather obscure to me.

Malsdemare 10:46 AM  

I haven't read the comments yet and I usually ignore Rex's rants. But today, well, applause. Not because he dissed the puzzle for including that fool Eric, but for his evisceration of the incoming administration. If you can't let loose on your own blog once in.while, it's not worth having one. I'm sure others here are appalled, but I'm feeling solidarity with OFL.

Loved COPACETIC, one of my dad's favorite words and it dropped in off the C. I could sing the song, too, but ELVIN's name took every cross to get. It took forever to remember General GAGE, and for some reason, PHLOX just didn't want to flower for me. A good friend is sending me some milkweed seeds so we can host Monarch's next year; I'm quite excited. Michelle's name really needs the W, and for reasons that passeth understanding, HEIDI just wasn't there for me today.

Good puzzle. So what's the topic du jour? Must go read comments!!

Mohair Sam 10:47 AM  

Loved it @George Barany. Teaming up with MAS and stacking it through the middle hit me right in my sweet spot, tons of fun. I think @Rex didn't rate it better because his political rage was set off by the editorial change at 5D. It was a terrific puzzle.

Gimme at CONDE Nast then hit a wall. But for us it played the way a tough Friday should, building slowly but steadily with lots of aha's. NOSEX was great, we had "NO SEa" at first, thinking of the view. Didn't remember ELVINBISHOP's name at all, but like REX we well knew the song. And lost a ton of time because we thought COPACETIC started with a "K".

Eagles fan here, but never liked their HOTEL CALIFORNIA, in fact it's a "channel changer" for me. And wow George, ETH was fine as clued, trust me on that one.

Fun Friday solve, and I learned today that I have to hate the Trump children and all his voters too. I'll make a note.

mathgent 10:52 AM  

I feel that I know Professor Barany from reading his excellent comments here over the years. That made doing this excellent puzzle all the more enjoyable. I give it an A.

Johnny 10:54 AM  

Wow, this puzzle kicked my ass. DNF. But when I saw the answers I was impressed. Those were some brutal clues.

Wm. C. 10:58 AM  

@Rex -- To repeat others: Chill, Dude. We don't come here to hear your overwrought rants.

@TimPierce10:38: "Profound historical evil, miscalibrated moral scales." A bit over th top, may Become?

Hey, I'm a lifelong Republican, and even so cast my first Democratic vote this year. Not FOR Hillary; AGAINST The Donald. Obviously, I'm on the same general page with @Rex and @Tim, but without losing my cool about it. I was shocked when he won, although I now clearly understand the several veins that he successfully mined.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

ELVINBISHOP for me was a gimme. Fooled Around and Fell Love describes my marriage. And, yes, I'm still in love.

LDL is a pet peeve of mine. While it is commonly cited as "bad cholesterol" it, in fact, is NOT a cholesterol. That 2nd L stands for lipoPROTEIN. Meaning LDL and HDL are proteins not lipids.

ArtO 11:07 AM  

When the NE went in quickly (about Tuesday level), I figured the rest had to be a struggle to qualify as Friday level. But struggle I did successfully until a DNF due to YEOH, JAI, ELVIN BISHOP problems. In any event, happy to say a real shot at finishing Friday two weeks in a row. A major accomplishment in this corner.

old timer 11:09 AM  

I'm more likely to use BCE than BC and yet more likely to use AD than CE. I figure every year is a year of the Lord, and it helps that 1 A.D is not really the year of Jesus' birth. In that sense at least, A.D. is pretty neutral. Whereas "B.C." implies that Jesus was, you know, the Christ, the savior, the Son of God -- all sorts of concepts Jews and other non-Christians do not believe, and which have long been debated among Christian sects as well.

As someone suggested, this kind of puzzle calls for a little perspiration and a lot of inspiration. Fortunately, the marvelous COPACETIC and a few easy to get Downs opened up the middle. I got LAID IT ON THE LINE first, and with that the rest of the quad filled in easily. My only WOE in the bottom was expecting some italian pasta name instead of EGG NOODLE.

tb 11:16 AM  

Saw the Barany byline and almost didn't open the puzzle. Saw the clue for ERIC and closed it right up again.

Totally agree with @Rex about normalizing evil.

evil doug 11:19 AM  

Too winey yesterday.
Too whiny today.

He didn't earn my vote, either, and no way I could vote for the poor dear you progressives served up who proved to be the worst candidate in history. Did my first write-in since I started voting in 1972. Uselessly symbolic, but it felt so fine!

I didn't vote for Obama,either. But he was and is my President, and I've spent 8 years rooting for him even as I see his missteps adding up. Like Trump: not nearly well-enough prepared for the job....

But the irony is: you pathetic liberals are less tolerant of Trump than racist morons were of Obama. Keep throwing around terms like "fascist", and listen for the laughs of derision among the mature, the objective, the patriotic, the hopeful, the sane...

But keep it coming! Very entertaining to watch you all try to top each other with your blood-curdling rants.

'So I called up the Captain,
"Please bring me my wine."
He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine."'

But you all do, apparently, given yesterday's vino-fest. Why don't you go have a few?

RooMonster 11:23 AM  

Hey All !
Rough review, Rex. Puz wasn't that bad. Gonna have -ese and dreck with this kind of puz layout. I think the ERIC clue put you in a foul mood, but the whole puz shouldn't suffer because of it. My opinion, of course.

Thought this puz was tough! Lots of stuff I either didn't know out-right, or had on-the-edge clues. Like RIA, e.g. Did like the 6 long Downs crossing all those 15 Acrosses. And the 8's and 9's going Across. Man, that's tough to construct, and still have actual words. This was a GUTSY endeavor.

Did online today, so aftet only having a few answers sprinkled about, started using the Check feature to speed things along, as wasn't anywhere near the wavelength of MAS and GB.

Almost reduced the ole brain to ASHES. @Muscato, awesome MPFC reference! Could've also been clued as Python alum Idle.


Carola 11:30 AM  

A tough one for me, as for a long time my only inroads into the center stack were COPACETIC and LA VIE en rosE (I thought maybe the show included a Piaf appreciation....maybe?).

Today's categories:
Help from previous crosswords: TATER, FIONA
Help from Rex-blog comment section: CASCO (Kid)
Cannot believe I didn't remember: the creaky old stack-filling LAID IT ON THE LINE
Christmas Eve memories OF THE PAST: putting together the one gazillion pieces of a practically life-size AT-AT into the wee hours with HOTEL CALIFORNIA playing repeatedly on the radio (also that one about being in a desert with a horse with no name, whatever that was).

@Loren, may I just say, "Inimitable." Awesome post.

Greg 11:37 AM  

Given the constructors, there was a 100% chance that we were going to see a sour and vitriolic review from @rex, whatever the merit of the crossword puzzle, so there's really no point in using his review as a reference point. I, for one, found it to be a reasonably fun solve, save some major hang ups in the south-central.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Stanley - do you teach spelling in college?

Joseph Michael 11:52 AM  

Congrats to @MAS and @George on a great Friday puzzle. Loved all of the long Acrosses and Downs and the clever cluing throughout. Had many satisfying aha's, as I filled in such entries as COCA COLA, LA VIE BOHEME, and IT GUY.

My main beef with the puzzle was the crossing of YEOH, ITALO, and PHLOX which left me with a DNF. It was a cruel moment in an otherwise entertaining solve.

On the subject of ERIC, I complained about it on Monday because that was the second time in recent days that it had become a Trumpference. Now it's three times. Enough already. Isn't HE A bit like you and me? NO!!!

PHLOX Trump and the horse he rode in on.

Unknown 11:58 AM  

Would have preferred a shoutout to ITALO Calvino.

Also, can we just retire LAIDITONTHELINE/LAYSITONTHELINE? Has appeared way too many times recently.

r.alphbunker 12:12 PM  

It was very satisfying to end with a clean solve even though it took forever to get out of the SW.

Detail are here. The answers in red that are preceded by an ! are not in Jeff Chen's word list. I would love to see Martin's word list assuming that he uses one.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

@Evil, you too make a good point.

G.Harris 12:25 PM  

Could not have finished without a strong assist from Google. While I too am appalled by what we have wrought electorally, arguing that the inclusion of a Trump in a crossword normalizes the situation is a bit much.

johnnymcguirk 12:30 PM  

I'm no Trump fan but the proprietor of this blog has become completely unhinged. Maybe he can get booked on Tucker Carlson's show. Rex and Kurt Eichenwald have become the poster children of the alt-left.

Z 12:34 PM  

@Evil Doug - "Pathetic liberals" Funny. That's my adjective for trumpkins, usually right before "delusional." Did you know that Hillary got more votes this year than any white man in history? So maybe it isn't the candidate so much as our odd system of counting votes. Hillary is (still) a moderate Republican who was pulled left this election cycle by Sanders. As for Trump, there are very good reasons conservative papers (like the Cincinnati Enquirer) endorsed Hillary. Trump, with a documented assist from Putin and Comey, played to the American people's worst instincts. We've seen Trump's ilk before and usually lots of peoples' lives are ruined before things are put right. If the Electoral College doesn't have the cajones to do the right thing it will be an interesting 18 months.*

As for the younger Trump, will anyone be surprised when he dies in a hunting accident or is murdered by a jealous boyfriend or indicted for tax fraud, or whatever inevitably horrid ending he's headed for? Seriously. If this guy showed up as a character in a movie we'd accuse the writers of being cliché and lazy.

@The rest of you Trumpkins - If you don't understand why the incoming administration is "repugnant on every level" you aren't worth talking to. You'll just have to learn the hard way.

*Trumpism is exactly the mob mentality the electoral college was supposed to protect the Republic against. It would be truly stunning if it actually worked as intended.

Lewis 12:34 PM  

George and MAS -- I did enjoy this one. The spanners are solid and aha-producing, plus LAVIEBOHEME, COPACETIC, and HADAHANDIN, and some fun cluing, and both of you are terrific cluers. I did have to Google once for a small answer; I was totally stuck with too much outside my wheelhouse, but that one answer opened up enough to complete the solve. The quads, if they're not ugly, are always fun. Good job here, guys!

As for Rex, you go right ahead slamming all things Trump. Especially after the farce of his cabinet, especially after the crap that my state's (NC) legislature is pulling as we speak, I am heartened to hear from others as appalled as I am, in any venue. I am heartened to hear from anyone whose vigilance is heightened under the circumstances, because history has taught us that covering our eyes and ears can have disastrous consequences. I will be very happy if Trump turns out to be close enough to normal not to worry about, but I will be on my toes until then.

Professor Poopypants 12:37 PM  

Yeah, when the mere mention of a name sets one off rather than the normalization of actions or Cabinet choices or the like, we are in weird territory indeed. This is not a People Magazine puff piece, Rex.

nick 12:39 PM  

I'm not a student of the fine points of construction but if the dreary fill was in service of the long crosses, it was not even close to worth it.

And thank you, @Rex, for calling out the Trump clues. Ugh.

Don McBrien 12:42 PM  

Fun puzzle! Really had to work it at every turn. DNF on CiSCO and PHeOX, but still felt good about it, since I was flailing for a long while. Really nice long answers in addition to the 15s.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Nice slam on ERIC, Rex. In fact I really liked all your write-ups this week, whatever that means....

Teedmn 12:48 PM  

An average Friday for me, time-wise. Like @Martin Abresch, I was wondering what on earth 10D was going to be, only I had LAVIE and later, LAVIEB and couldn't imagine what that would turn out to be. I kept checking the spelling of MARMALADE in case it should be LoVIE (Mrs. Thurston is referenced in a Rent song?). It was a relief when LA VIE BOHEME finally crawled out of the shadows (after I got rid of "abs" at 42A).

ELVIN BISHOP went right in - a song out of my high school days that I still love. I remember one of my college friends complaining that she had gone out and bought the album for that song, only to find that ELVIN BISHOP didn't sing the song (Wikipedia tells me that ELVIN had one of the backup singers, Mickey Thomas, sing the song.) So she was highly disappointed with the rest of the album. After a few similar disappointments, my rule became that I had to like at least 3 songs on an album before I bought it. Nowadays, it's so easy to listen to songs or at least snippets before buying that one should never run into that problem, but sometimes I don't do my due diligence and get a clunker (CDs, I don't buy vinyl).

Nice collaboration, thanks GB and MAS. I always enjoy the stacks.

PS: @NCA President, I'm still smiling at yesterday's image of you sitting up in bed in the morning, giving a stretch and pondering what vocabulary words you would run into during the day.

Masked and Anonymous 12:50 PM  

@RP: Impressive use of two of George Carlin's 7 no-no words. Cool to have PHLOX in the puz, plus a variant in the blog verse, all in one rodeo. I do agree that it's now past time for a {Rice-icer anagram??} clue or two. I admire desperation in my crossword puz, but not so much in my major elections.

Phlox me! [Crossed by NOSEX, tho.] This sure was an epic constructioneerin feat, with long answers swishin around & past each other like a loblolly of panicky whales. So … impressed congratz to @MAS and @George. No matter what else I say, below.

Played fairly fun and loose and eazy-E, for a FriPuz with an extra row. Got ARRIVESONTHEDOT off just the last T. Got ELVINBISHOP and HOTELCALIFORNIA off zip-adee-doo-dah, other than that their L's crossed. Still trying to get SERVICEPROVIDERS clue. Grid spanners had only limited Christmas spirits: I did spot me a FO-LI-LA-LI-LA-LA, but that's about it. YEOH sounds vaguely Christmassy, for some reason, tho.

Weejects and such wecap bullets:

* ETH - staff "old-fashioned ending" weeject pick. Example: YEOH-ETH us 300 moneybucks.
* INA - staff pick for: smells like a partial, sounds like Beethoven's 7th. INAGADDADAVITA, dude.
* ONS - winner, plural of switch humor desperation convenience. (yo, @AnoaBob)
* WEE - winner, WEE-est weeject.
* HEA - winner, fab four lyric extract weeject. Bet them Beatles used INA in a lyric sometime, too. Maybe even ERIC. YEOH, I'm bettin "yeoh no" on.
* FIONA Apple - Superb name, for buildin sneaky clues off of (yo, @Sir Hillary). M&A's dream: someday there'll be a famous celeb named Fanny Ipad.
* ORARE. As in: pay quadstack grid-traversin toll, here.
* IMON. Kinda desperate, but somehow its clue really saved it. No harm, no foul.
* ITGUY. har. M&A's dream: ITDUDE.

fave grid stuffins: COPACETIC. HAdtheLAstLA+UGH. PHLOX ERIC combo.

@Wm.C. - We had our lobsters in a little town offa Frenchman Bay. Yeoh-um.

Thanx, Martin and George, and Eric and Yeoh.

Masked & Anonymo3Us
"The editor added two of them constructioneer names in there!"


Trombone Tom 12:50 PM  

@evil, you called it!

The puzzle was another great challenge from M A-S and Mr. B. Last to fall for me was the SW corner; HEW for fell and WEE for baby. Didn't know CASCO but the crosses were clear.

Equally as entertaining as the puzzle was @Rex's frothing political rant. C'mon folks, is this the first time you've been on the losing side? Life goes on. Pogo had it right: "We have met the enemy and they are us."

Like wine more than whine.

GILL I. 12:51 PM  

Uh, @Z...I think you meant "cOjones."

Kingdaddy 12:54 PM  

If I'm reading Rex's comments, it's not so much the reference to Eric Trump, but the editorial intervention. Why is anyone at the NYT going out of their way to make nice? That's the normalization.

RooMonster 12:57 PM  

Most Republicans (at least that I know) are happy about Trump winning just because they are Republicans. They couldn't care less who the candidate is (was), they just don't want another Democrat in. It seems Reps have blinders on, by which I mean they can only see things their way, and if it's outside of what they think is right, then it can't be. I know one Rep who was so happy, he took a pic with a Trump Wins headline. And that's it. If Trump starts to royally mess things up, Reps will come up with excuses that will make sense to their narrow thinking. They always have an answer for everything.

Now, I've said before I'm an Independent, but tend to lean Liberal. I've also said all politicians are crooked and only tell you what you want to hear to get elected. I think you need to take each person who runs for whatever-office individually, regardless of party. Research what they've dine, how they've voted, etc. Don't just hit all the Rep or Dem dials.


thfenn 1:02 PM  

Bit of a slog for me, with a good deal of cheating, but I got there. Thought I was going to get there on my own as CONDE and CASCO were easy (all Maine related clues being fun ones) and I quickly got going with MARMALADE and HADAROLLIN, but it got a lot harder (for me) from there. Fridays are just hard for me still. It took forever to change ROLL to HAND. And even tho I get why TATER works, like others I put HOMER in, and part of my struggle to improve is learning when and how quickly to conclude you might be wrong, so that held me up. I had EATEN instead of FIONA, thinking of the icon on the ipod, not of a song writer - and I don't know Fiona Apple so now I'm at least going to go look her up. I still had to cope with having STOPS before HALTS, FENCE before ARGUE, TOT before WEE, even had SPAGHETTI before EGGNOODLE. I knew enough to guess APRIL probably wasn't going to be right, but tried it anyway.

Stuff I got but didn't like included TRIALJUDGE in response to "one calling the shots on court?". Glad others complained - given the question mark and the phrasing I couldn't get past trying to make it tennis related (LINESJUDGE?). Well, and then there was ERIC too. With Rex on that one.

Nice seeing ORR not clued to something Bobby related, hadn't seen that before. My favorite was PAPAL bull, though it's nice to see a little less of that these days. Enjoyed COPACETIC too, as that's how completing this puzzle left me feeling.

Leapfinger 1:08 PM  

I shan't MINTS words: I just couldn't see the flower that attracts PHLOX of butterflies, despite a healthy set of crossing downs that even included ITALO (from Calvino and hobbes, dontcha know), because I just couldn't see anyone saying "NO SEX, Please", even the honourable British.

Always wanted it SpELT COPAesthETIC, and considered squooshing in ELVISPRESLY, though I knew FAAFIL wasn't in his repertwar. Did do the Hell/EDEN and homer/TATER as taught.

IT was well before my time (honest it was), but I remember Clara Bow was called The IT Girl, so there's an outside chance David Bowie was The IT GUY. In my time, I've seen Rent (and didn't love it), though that wasn't what gave me me LA VIE BOHEME. We just recently had LAVABO, so LAVIEBO HEME wasn't intRINSEcally incommodious.

@George, aside from the beguiling clue for ETH, I'm wondering if you were tempted by the ACETIC in COPACETIC. The ERIC clue mayn't have been authors' choice, but y'all have to take responsibility for giving us HEW/WEE LONG.

Liked the FIONA kind of Apple, the courtliness of the TRIAL_JUDGE and the grateness of ASHES. I have only PREYS for the smoothness of the grid spanners in the work, esp being of the belief that who LAUGHs, LASTs. Sadly, ITALOver too soon, but all was well above PARR, and nothing SMELT SPOILed.

Oh yes, must remember to thank @CASCO Kid

ODE ON, O RARE Ben Jonson

Charley 1:11 PM  

The trial judge calls the shots IN court, not on the court.

Unknown 1:14 PM  

Very happy to see the comments about the Eric clue; absolutely agree 100%

Anoa Bob 1:26 PM  

Stayed in HOTEL CALIFORNIA in Todos Santos, Baja California del Sur, many moons ago. No pink champagne on ice, in fact I don't think they even had ice. The room we were in had no AC and it was hotter than Hades. Totally underwhelmed. Still have the tee shirt as a keepsake though.

My go to clue for GAGE (50D) would be Phineas P. GAGE, known to most Intro Psych students as the mid 19th century railroad construction foreman who was involved in an accident when a heavy iron tamping bar that he was using prematurely set off a dynamite blast and was blown up through his left eye socket and completely out the top of his head, taking with it most of the left frontal lobe of his brain. He survived the accident---apparently he didn't even lose consciousness!---but, post-recovery, his personality was much changed, and it became a classic case supporting the theory that specific areas of the brain controlled personality.

COPACETIC tickled the word-nerd portion of my brain.

CASCO Kid, where are you?

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

I cannot imagine two more disparate puzzle composing 'styles' than MAS and GB. Unfortunately, I don't think it makes for a good synchronicity, so to put it. The overall feel to the puzzle is one of tedium and tiredness. But, you always feel bad about saying anything critical about the beneficent Mr. Barany. I apologize.

Evil Doug represented the right as well as could be done in his response to the overall comments herein. I have two major problems in accepting the idea of supporting Trump to see what he can do.

The first is the ever present perception that he has a narcissistic personality disorder. No one could make the remarks that he did about assaulting women and claiming to be entitled to do so without having a disturbed and twisted psyche. Supporting someone like that seems to me like leaving your front door open at night in a high crime neighborhood to see if someone burglarizes you.

Another aspect of Trump's psyche that is both dangerous and scary is how thin skinned he is. Anyone who ever says anything even mildly critical of him becomes subject to blistering personal attacks. In other words, if you don't think Trump is perfect, you are a piece of garbage and he will 'get' you. Unless Trump plans to keep himself completely out of foreign relations and diplomacy, that could be catastrophic.

The second is, as Lewis noted, his cabinet choices. Not a single one of them has any experience of any kind in the position they are going to fill. I know part of what got him elected was his vow to take a fresh approach to issues. But, you need to keep in mind that you don't go to a lawyer for neurosurgery, as it

And that does not even touch on the issues with say Mr. Perry. I suppose you could support him in the way some people supported Clarence Thomas for Supreme Court, i.e., the stupid people of the country are entitled to representation to help decide our future/fate. But, if it makes me an elitist to want to skip that approach, I can live with it.

It bothers me a lot to think that the rest of the world is tsk taking America as they collectively ask:'what are you people thinking/doing?'.

William Occam 1:40 PM  

Yes. Totally absurd to think the NY Times has a leftward slant. Unthinkable

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

My fervent wish is that Rex, and all academics and others who view themselves as elites or intellectuals, continue insulting Trump supporters at every opportunity. I would encourage him (and them) to spend as much time and energy, today and every day, hurling as much vitriol at his (and their) fellow citizens as possible. After all, people who don't agree with Rex's views are evil and stupid. Why let them read a blog about crossword puzzles in peace for a few minutes when that would require passing up the chance to further remind them of their vile stupidity? That would be wrong.

I really do hope you keep it up, Rex. You and your brethren are all but insuring a second term for Mr. Trump and a Republican congress for the foreseeable future. It's important work, but I know you can do it.

Not that anyone should care, but some of you might be surprised to learn that most Trump supporters are not underemployed Midwestern blue-collar workers. I, for example, am a Columbia Law graduate and have been a partner at a NYC law firm for over 20 years. Of course, since my opinions differ from those held by a college teacher from Binghamton NY I am evil and stupid. A least I am smart enough to understand that, which is some consolation.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

"most Trump supporters are not underemployed Midwestern blue-collar workers"


cascokid 1:49 PM  

I couldn't let this one pass without a note!

Congrats to George and MA-S on beating me all over. Every point of the compass an uphill battle. Quite challenging here. I had very few anchors (except for CASCO of course) and my first two guesses were usually wrong, except when they weren't (ROUGE, PEC). At the end, I guessed JAI Ho and ELVINBISHOP to set me up to be flummoxed by P_LOX/YEO_ where neither a vowel nor a consonant belonged, so I guessed 'y' and lost. Then I guessed, in order: 'o','e','a','i','u', 'n', 'g', 'w'. Then I revealed. What a way to end a two and a half hour haul. Disappointing. But that I had everything else right was by itself semi-miraculous.

So here are some my wrongnesses:

55D cut, which gave me 59A tot, then saW, which gave me 59A WEE. WEE later was supported by TRIALJUDGE, so saW was right!
50A, sasSY for GUTSY

46D NOtus for NOSEX
53D Quickly put (together): whip, then SnAP before SLAP
58A Cross swords: fence, then fiGht, for ARGUE basically making the leading 'f' a 'confirmed' albeit false anchor
61A Victimizes, with on: beatS, for PREYS
49D Grate expectations?: some kind of cheese I've never heard of, close to ASiago, maybe, for ASHES
52 TOSSPOTS?? I've heard the term, but considered it synonymous with tossers, wankers and other things rather blue.
32D libRE for ORARE (they are *free* masons aren't they?)
30D homER for TATER (only in crosswords is TATER a thing)
40 SaL, which is not French for salt, evidently
24 itA for HEA
44D inre before ATTN, as inre is actually used in memos, but attn is used on envelops.
57A Pasta strip _ _ G _ _ _ _ _ _. Ending in a likely vowel, and lots of Italian food words begin _AGN, so I kept myself thinking in restaurant Italian for a good 2 hours.

Some lucky guesses/deep pulls: ORR, ADAIR, EDEN, NISAN, PEC, PAaR/PARR, MINTS

Gimmes: CASCO, LDL, CONDE, PAPAL. That's all for the gimmes. Seriously.

Never heard of and needed much sussing and help from crosses, which was generally not forthcoming: ITALO Balbo, ELVINBISHOP, JAI Ho, Michelle YEOH, HOTEL CALIFORNIA lyric in question, LAVIEBOHEME, HEIDI in the Shirley Temple oeuvre, FIONA of Apple fame (who is that?)

Brutally hard puzzle. Had it been a Walden (which it rather felt like) I would have quit after 45.

- @cascokid

Ross T 1:53 PM  

"Tillerson" is getting a lot more google juice than "Parker" these days. He leapfrogged you in my auto-fill. Ouch.

Numinous 2:00 PM  

@Jon Elofson, I too would have preferred Calvino as a clue for ITALO but with crosses I figured it out and felt vaguely smug. @Goroge Baraney and MAS, I enjoyed your triple stack and the other two spanners. HOTEL CALIFORNIA was almost a gimmie, took me a moment or two to get enough of the lyrics together to remember "pink champagne on ice". Cool!

As per @Rex, getting 1A immediately set the tone. Double bonus, getting both CONDE and CASCOkid straight off put me in the category of finishing this beaut up in 18 minutes under my Friday average. No googles today which is unusual for a Friday for me. I had a few writeovers. I started Anne in place of PARR. I started Omnia for ORARE and homER for TATER. I couldn't find a five letter equivalent for logo so when. FIONA hove into view I got a good little "That's funny!".

ELVIN BISHOP wasn't too hard to figure out even though I was unaware that he wrote I Fooled Around And Fell In Love. I mostly remember him in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. I remember him as being pretty colorless next to Mike Bloomfeld though. Saw them at the Filmore Auditorium in S,F. In the mid sixties.

One of the characters I played at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in SoCal was an upright man (leader of a gang of thieves, whores and con artists) as well as being a TOSSPOT. The TOSSPOT part was easy to play, there were ale stands everywhere.

I enjoyed this GB-MAS opus. Thanks, guys.

Leapfinger 2:06 PM  

Different kind of TATER, courtesy of Dave "Potato Ball" Bresnahan, 1987

Anyone here recall living through the Watergate era? Broaden all that to national and international dimensions, and then start dropping all the old rules.


Suzy 2:33 PM  


and today, Rex, I'm with you politically all the way!!

puzzle hoarder 2:45 PM  

"Elvin Bishop sittin' on a bale of hay
He ain't good lookin' but he sure can play"
Those lyrics are why I knew that name. That's also the sum total of my knowledge of Mr. Bishop but it did the trick. Apparently a good portion of the commentors didn't listen to the same radio as I did. They don't garden either as PHLOX is a popular garden plant. My mistake was putting in SAL for SEL. OR ARE is a bit of ese that's managed to stay off my radar. Having LAVIE__ at 10D had me briefly wondering if MARMALADE could have an O in it. I think the non grid spanning material is what really made this a Friday puzzle. I found myself getting more help from the 15s to solve the crosses than vice versa. 31A was as much of a gimmie as 1A.
I'm not a fan of the president elect or his children but I don't care for IDI Amin either and he's been in a few puzzles.

blinker474 2:53 PM  

Rex Parker, King of Crossworld, is not even king of his own domain. I know that by now he regrets that maniacal posting, but realizes that it's too late to turn back. There's an old adage- don't know the source- about this sort of behavior. When you compose a really nasty rant, place it in a drawer for one day and then, if you're still happy with it, mail it. Or, act in haste, repent at leisure.


Whirred Whacks 2:55 PM  

Congrats to you, George! If I ever need a QUAD-STACK in a hurry, you're the one I'll contact.


Sort of off-topic, but it does concern the financial health of the New York Times.

New York Times Will Vacate 8 Floors In Its HQ To Generate "Significant Rental Revenue"

Contains the letter Arthur Sulzberger sent to his colleagues.

Looks like the NYT is turning into a REIT.


Again, Congrats George!

Lewis 3:33 PM  

Casco! Don't be a stranger!

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

So, does your firm place 1L interns in charge of appellate cases? Because that is what Trump is doing with his cabinet appointments. Supporting Trump does not make you stupid. It does call your common sense into question.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  


Pete 4:02 PM  

@Evil Doug - When you learn the difference between disliking someone based on what they've done and said vs disliking them because of the color of the skin, then your comments will have the potential of merit.

JFe 4:11 PM  

@Tim Pierce - Thank you...

QuasiMojo 4:11 PM  

Was hoping you'd stop by @cascokid.

old timer 4:26 PM  

This old guy sayETH: Even if you never buy the print version you are going to want to get up early, head for your nearest Starbucks, and buy this Sunday's paper. I just got an e-mail from NYT saying they are going to have an extra-special, super-duper puzzle section on nice writeable-on white paper, with a super-huge puzzle, and Split Decisions (my favorite always) and all sorts of other stuff. And that may be in addition to the regular Sunday puzzle in the Magazine.

As for Mr. Trump: He will do some good things and some bad things. Yes, he is a narcissist, and yes, he was not at all prepared for the job he is taking on, but neither was Obama, who said today that he has enjoyed his conversations with Trump, and that in his experience walking into the Oval Office on Inauguration Day makes you grow up real fast. I have really enjoyed the Cabinet selection process, myself. If there is one thing Trump is really good at it is sizing up people. I am appalled by some of them, impressed by others (I really thi0nk being the CEO of a major oil company who worked his way up from the bottom is a very good history for a Secretary of State, who has to know how Putin thinks (he does) and more important has to be very good at choosing assistants and taking on the entrenched corporate culture. Which our other Rex surely is good at or he would not have gone so far.

It is insane to expect most Cabinet secretaries to have job-specific training. Most of them never have in any administration, except for Secretaries of the Treasury, who almost always come from a financial background. Often, Secretaries have a political background and know the important players in Congress who will be cross-examining them in committee hearings. You see, the job of a cabinet-level Secretary is to set policy and choose his deputies wisely. Some of Trumps nominees may not even be approved. Others will have clear sailing. And the job of Democratic senators is going to be to put the worst through Hell, and make no waves about those who seem OK. I really am looking forward to watching it all pan out.

Annette 4:28 PM  

Though I partially agree with @Rex about the fill, I found them fairly clued, the stacks fun, and the long downs interesting. And PTL was way clever, as I searched deep for someone's initials. Very nice entry.

Carol Curren 4:44 PM  

None of us should be a silent witnesses to acts of hate. Thank you for your Eric comments. We cannot normalize evil. Puzzle was meh.

Dorothy Biggs 4:57 PM  

smh @oldtimer.

If you are indeed an "old timer," then surely you must have recollection of how a certain other group in history, armed with a heavily weighted sense of nationalism and some racist leanings, came into power. how your dad or other relative may have fought that very government and cried that we were on the side of right...that freedom and democracy and equality were what they were fighting for.

Now look what we have. Elitists in power, nationalism unparalleled in american history, and a country so polarized that families can barely talk to each other...not very much unlike I imagine what times were like in this country ca. 1863.

All of the signs are there that this is not the way our founding fathers wanted this to go. And what is most shocking is how so many people during the primaries called DJT out for all his craziness and are now backing him like he is the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

Sure Obama was green...he was very young too. DJT is 70. I don't think he is going to "grow up." He more likely will dig in and not change at all. Decorum, moderation, tact, poise...he has none of it and seems to be proud of it.

So "old timer," I guess history is lost on you. But you will find out soon enough. I'm pretty convinced, as are the majority of Americans, that the GOP, DJT notwithstanding, do not care about the American public. We will find that out soon enough. And while you can talk about DJT's appointments might be good or bad, you can look around the country and see what GOP governors and legislatures have done to states that have given them carte blanche. Talk to anyone from Kansas, or Flint, MI, or North Carolina. That's the proof that most of us point to...not the speculation that DJT doesn't know what he's doing. It just so turns out that what he is doing pretty much confirms what we thought.


Larry Gilstrap 5:18 PM  

Lots of big, old grid spanners add to the challenge. I found myself running around around London in the summer of 1978, and that year advertisement was everywhere for "NO SEX Please, We're British." It must have had a long run. WEE clued as Baby seems a bit of a stretch.

Kdunk 5:23 PM  

Thank you. Spot on.

Whirred Whacks 5:25 PM  

Lots of nastiness in the comments today. I can see why I have stayed away for a while (George's puzzle brought me back to congratulate him).

There seem to be two groups of people.

One group (many of whom are vocal on this blog) think that we're now in a re-enactment of 1930s Germany -- with the worst things yet to come.

A larger group is more optimistic. They see that the markets have pushed to record highs since the election because people and institutions believe things are going to improve and they are investing their money. Indices measuring consumer and business confidence have reached their highest levels in years. The Bloomberg Small Business Index went from -4 on November 1st to +37 on December 12th. I'm a small businessman, and I'm picking that up from my customers and vendors.

I was not a Trump supporter, but I do wish him and the country success. [I was not an Obama voter, but I did wish him well in the early stages of his presidency.]

BTW, I liked the photo of Trump and Kanye. I guess that is this generation's equivalent of Nixon/Elvis.

Moly Shu 6:28 PM  

Greetings @CascoKid, glad to hear your still at it.

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

I read this column because Rex, you are witty, clever, and have wonderful insight into the world of crossword making and puzzling. I don't read it to hear the rants of some self-serving, bitter and privileged college professor, so spare us the rhetoric please.


Anonymous 6:35 PM  

Wow.....will the sour grapes rants ever stop? It's so boring reading the obnoxious name-calling. For a wordsmith, your limited vocabulary to 4-letter curses doesn't speak well of your lecture skills. College professors are notoriously far left and the anonymous writer who claimed to be one and then called another poster an ass-hole just proves the point.

Love puzzles with long answers.......makes me feel like I've really accomplished something when I fill one in.

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

@Anonymous 6:30

Fu?k you.

One of many nasty women.

MetroGnome 6:36 PM  

I'm appalled by Donald Trump; I fear what he (and his crew) will do to the country, and I fear even more what they may well do to the world.
However -- the name of his son is a FACT, not a political ideology. It's "normal" in the sense that it's true. Thus, it's an appropriate answer for a crossword puzzle.

Must ALL clues and answers that carry some kind of political, ideological, cultural, religious, or moral baggage be considered out of bounds unless they come with a disclaimer? Then I guess any reference to alcohol had better be prefaced with "cirrhosis-causing. . .", and any reference to any kind of guns or weaponry had better be prefaced with "deadly and immoral . . ."

Hell, I wouldn't even mind a clue for HITLER along the lines of "former Austrian painter who became a politician." Unexpected? Maybe even unfathomable? Damn right, and that's the point -- it's called misdirection, folks.

TB 10:44 PM  


Mark 11:11 PM  


Anonymous 12:01 AM  

Grateful as ever for the social conscience you read into and out of crosswords -- so I add my thanks for your commentary on "Eric"

old timer3 12:29 AM  

Really, Trump reminds me of Reagan more than any other President. He had experience as governor of California but he was an awful governor He really did change in the Oval Office. I still didn't like him but I thought at last he knew what he was doing. I still detested him, but I no longer thought he was dumb or totally under the control of his aides. Time will tell withTrump and I certainly don't like him at all. But I think he has played the role of President-elect pretty damn well.

Tita 9:55 AM  

You got it right, Rex...Alt-Right is in fact a very thin euphenism (sic) for Nazi. It was in fact coined by white supremacist Spencer. Burns me that it's now considered an appropriate word.

I misspelled MARMeLADE, somwondered for a very long time I'd La Boheme was Jewish...LEVeE Boheme?
Wanted pasta to end in i...
In short, while I flew through the top 2 thirds, I got totally blocked in the south...had to cheat by erasing wrong letters...that gave me the oomph I needed to finally be able to finish.
I was really annoyed that my friend George was able to stump me!!

Loved the clue for MINTS...because I love the word post-prandial. Our cats are masters of the post-prandial nap. I also loved the irony of the clue for COCACOLA...gave me my biggest aha moment of the puzzle.


Steve M 11:09 AM  

Best puzzle of the year👍

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

One of many crucial differences between Reagan and Trump is that Reagan was not mentally ill and deluded into thinking he knew everything about everything. While one might not have been a fan of Reagan (I wasn't), he at least was smart enough to realize that he did not know all there was to know. So he, with help from trusted advisors, found people with expertise and experience in the areas of responsibility, which persons he was politically aligned with, and then he trusted and relied on those people. Trump has not chosen for any position a single person who has any knowledge or experience of the area the appointee is to be in charge of. If utter chaos does not follow, it will be a miracle.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

I agree as well. I do puzzles to keep my mind sharp and to relax, and I come here to share the puzzle experience. If I want to read about politics there are plenty of other venues more suited. Coming out against the incoming administration isn't edgy or brave. We're all scared as hell and want a respite from that reality.

tgm1217 2:33 PM  

Sticks and stones...and you wonder why you lost???

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

I finally found the right forum to discuss this thought. Have any of you noticed the resemblance of the election to Isaac Asimov's emergence of the Mule is the Foundation books? An unimaginable bolt from the blue. History not proceeding as anticipated. And, although the Mule is defeated, what is left behind is a world in disorder. Let's have the oligarchy, as long as I am one of them.

PS I come to the blog often too see if others are as pleased/disturbed/confused/gob-smacked as I am. Thanks, Rex.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Hillary called us deplorable. Rex now calls us Nazis.

I find it amusing how the camp that refers to Trump as a bully is very fond of bullying.

Congrats, Rex. You're not just the King of CrossWorld, you're an accomplished King of Bullying.

Burma Shave 12:14 PM  


you can’t ARGUE that she LAIDITONTHELINE,
she didn’t SPOIL her HEX
by saying, “NOSEX!”,
she HADAHANDIN both YEOH pants and mine.


BS2 12:37 PM  

note to self: proofread

spacecraft 1:11 PM  

Well, here in Syndiland it's The Date that will Live in Infamy: Jan. 20. Somehow, this living caricature got himself elected, and today is the first day of the rest of our miserable lives. Boys, dust off the Atomic Clock and reset it to 11:59:59. *gulp*

So the puzzle is an afterthought. Knowing ELVINBISHOP helped a lot, as well as the words to "Nowhere Man." (Ha, we're ALL nowhere men now!) So, eminently doable; easy-medium for Friday. Didn't know the Maine bay, and thought the big name in pop might be mOtorOLA, ha ha. Cleared that up; also seA for drowned valley. The X at the bottom is skilfully woven in; the X in the NE corner is totally unnecessary. We have at least our share of bad fill: the RMK {"INA"), IMON, HEA...

My "ha" above may well represent THE LAST LAUGH I ever HAD. I can't get the image out of my mind: Slim Pickens riding the lightning, SLAPping his ten-gallon hat against his "horse" and yelling "YEOH!" to the strains of "We'll Meet Again." I do fervently hope we will--but I ain't gonna bet on it.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

Some challenging fun ruined by pisser infested clues/answers. Rejected.

Note: seemed to be a lot of fan club activity in the comments about the authors...shouldn't this be about the puzzle?

rondo 1:51 PM  

Well, it’s 5 weeks later and the swearing in is over, but the swearing isn’t. I don’t think the sky is falling yet. Time will tell who has HADTHELASTLAUGH. The biggest problem OFTHEPAST hour today was filling in homER instead of TATER. But HOTELCALIFORNIA and ELVINBISHOP were gimmes and very helpful. HEA and INA were a tad weak, but not INA terrible way.

I’ve got PHLOX in my rock garden that seem to want to overrun everything else.

Yo. Michelle YEOH is COPACETIC as today’s yeah baby, ORR YEOH baby.

ASONE Minnesotan to another, fine job @George B and co-constructor @MAS. Wonder if @spacey will give this puz a PARR?

rondo 1:55 PM  

Now I see he didn't, so I will give the puz a PARR.

Diana,LIW 4:52 PM  

Poor George B, getting stuck in a political dustup 2 years after creating a puzzle. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, huh?

I loved being able to solve this buncha Friday stacks. Have seen BISHOP a few times - he puts on quite a show. And HOTELCALIFORNIA is still played something like every other song on radio and in grocery stores.

Hoping for happier days. We most certainly will see.

Diana, Waiting

Diana,LIW 5:00 PM  

One more comment. I thought it would be "no ice" we're British. As they serve warmish beer and iceless Cokes. Mr. W does not approve of either tradition.


Unknown 6:40 PM  

I know that Rex and his so-called liberal elite do not care what the hicks in Mid-America think, but his psychotic rant about our new President shows how literally crazy you people really are. If conservatives threw around the "f" word as easily as Rex in referring to President Obama or Secretary Clinton, we would be rightly branded as people who no longer have the right to participate in our democracy and certainly not be a quasi spokesperson for it.

So long Rex. Your criticisms of constructors that use words like the "Sabine" River as being not worthy of the NYT shows your ignorance of anything west of Lake Erie. FYI, the Sabine was the western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase for years and the entry into the Texas Republic

Sincerely, Gary Key

centralscrewtinizer 7:15 PM  

In Greed We Trust is POTUS now. He did drain the swamp and is putting all the worst ones in office at a rapid clip. The choices run from loony toons to nasty bits. In two years we will see how many Trumpfenproles have wised up. I have only a shred of hope. You know the old saw about hoping in one hand and crapping in the other and seeing which one fills up faster.
Mr. Tiny Hands would not know about that one, I'm betting.

leftcoastTAM 7:53 PM  

Badly distracted from the puzzle as I tried to listen to Trump's inaugural speech here in PST syndiland. Heard little more than blustering TRiUMPhalism, and still have little or no idea of what may actually happen.

rain forest 12:13 AM  

Irrelevant post today. Babysitting grandson.

However I did watch the inaugural address, unfortunately. He said he wrote it himself, but you could tell that Steve Bannon had a major part in it. I'm a Canadian, and I don't know why I care so much (although his trade policies may have an effect on us) but the speech was the worst outpouring of protectionism, and the least statesmanlike, utterings of an incoming president. He is a cancer. He is a know-nothing misogynistic, racist, and elitist individual, totally unfit to represent your country and your citizens.

The puzzle was fine, except for the inclusion of ERIC (puke), and there, I agree with OFL. I like your politics Michael. I did DNF at the CASCO/ADAIR cross because I put an O in there - Irish, eh.

A sad day for the US.

George York 4:43 PM  

What a gratuitous and egregious comment about simple cluing for the name Eric. I seriously doubt that you know anything about Eric Trump yet you choose to insult him by calling him a halfwit. I have seen him interviewed and to me he seems like an intelligent and thoughtful young man- certainly not a halfwit. He at least has accomplished something in the real world and does not live in an ivory tower of academia like you.
As for 'normalizing', I would think that the election and inauguration of Trump constituted normalization in the history of the United States and you'd better get used to it. By the way, I expect you will see names like Ivanka and Ivana will appear with some regularity since they meet most of your criteria for useful crossword entries as well as Obama and Malia.
I generally have enjoyed your blog but knew that you were pretty far left. I just did not appreciate that you were also part of the nasty intolerant radical 'alt-left'. Now I know better.

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

All things political aside, that was the most pompous thing I've read all week! You are not any better than "trumpers" and "trumpers" are no better than you. There's a reason people voted for him and you can either belittle them for doing so, or God forbid try to understand their reasoning...Instead of resorting to childish behavior that divides Americans even more.

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

Rex: If you are going to become unhinged by seeing references to the president's family in the crossword clues and grid, I would recommend getting a grip.

This very puzzle, as you mentioned, had a clue about Mussolini's right hand man ITALO Balbo. Do you think that the appearance of Mussolini in the clues normalizes him? This puzzle had TOSSPOTS, while the previous day's puzzle had SOTS. Do you think that the crossword is trying to promote alcoholism?

Suppose there had been a right-wing crossword blogger who reacted with outrage every time OBAMA, or even MALIA, turned up in the grid. I doubt that such a blogger would have been worth paying attention to.

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