Blithe Spirit role / FRI 12-15-17 / Jason of Harry Potter films / Corporate trademark inspired by Ivy League mascot / Laundry whitener oddly enough / Old-time actress Irene / Last of Mohicans daughter

Friday, December 15, 2017

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: no 

Word of the Day: "Blithe Spirit" (13D: "Blithe Spirit" role => ELVIRA) (!?) —
Blithe Spirit is a comic play by Noël Coward. The play concerns the socialite and novelist Charles Condomine, who invites the eccentric medium and clairvoyant, Madame Arcati, to his house to conduct a séance, hoping to gather material for his next book. The scheme backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his annoying and temperamental first wife, Elvira, after the séance. Elvira makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles's marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear the ghost. (wikipedia)
• • •

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY, 17, 2018: A MESSAGE FOR THOSE SOLVING IN SYNDICATION (i.e. the majority of my readers):

Hello, from the present (that is, today; actual today, and not one-week-ago or five-weeks-ago-on-weekdays today, like usual)! It's January, which means it's time for my once-a-year, week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. To be clear—there are no major expenses involved in writing a blog. There's just my time. A lot of it. Every day (well, usually night), solving, writing, hunting down pictures and videos of various degrees of relevance and usefulness, chatting with folks and answering puzzle questions via email and social media, gathering and disseminating crossword-related information of various kinds, etc. It's a second job. My making this pitch means I'm all in for another calendar year of puzzle revelry with all y'all. I'm excited about the year. I've got my own crossword construction project I want to get off the ground, and I'm hoping to take a more active role (along with some crossword friends) in recruiting and mentoring new and aspiring constructors. But the bulk of my work will be the same as ever: I'll be here with a new post every single day. Solve, write, repeat. Despite my occasional (or, OK, maybe frequent) consternation with the State of The Puzzle, the crossword community continues to give me great joy, and I'm proud to run an independent, ad-free blog where people can find someone to commiserate with, someone to yell at, or, you know, someone who'll just give them the damn answers. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address:

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions (I. Love. Snail mail!) will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. This year's cards are "Women In Science"—Rachel Ignotofsky's beautiful cartoon portraits of women scientists from antiquity to the present. I've heard of a few of these women (mostly crossword names like ADA Lovelace, Marie CURIE, MAE Jemison) but most of these names are entirely new to me, so I'm excited to learn about them as I write my thank-you notes. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!

• • •

Not really into the 16-wide thing here. Themed puzzle can break the rules if the theme answers really necessitate it, but themelesses better have a Dang good reason, and there isn't one here. Actually, there's only one "good" reason to go super-wide like this on a Friday or Saturday—to give us a 16-letter answer (which we would never otherwise see, except possibly on a Sunday, I guess). No 16s here. The stagger stack in the middle is fine, but nothing earth-shattering. The rest of the grid is fine, but dry, and those open corners just feel .... taxed. Like, they're straining to keep it together. The most problematic thing, though, is an irritating over-reliance on proper nouns of dubious fame. Two different fictional character names!? (CORA, ELVIRA) Some guy named Jason ISAACS (?) (he played Lucius Malfoy ... [crickets]) (20A: Jason of the Harry Potter films).. And.a Mark Twain short story I've Never heard of. I think I know exactly one Twain short story: the jumping frog one. "A DOG'S TALE"?! Ha ha no. I guess the clue gave you some hints. I had TALE and no idea. That NE corner was brutal for that reason. REROOT, dear lord (14D: Take hold again, as a plant). I have no idea how I (correctly) guessed SAUL, but if I hadn't, I'd've been in major trouble (12D: Anointed one in the Book of Samuel). Clue on MGMLION was brutal (21A: Corporate trademark inspired by an Ivy League mascot). Anyway, this is adequate but uninspiring. Not enough emphasis on entertainment, too much obscure proper noun stuff (handle your names, constructors!). Oh, and ENTREPRENEURS is perhaps my least favorite word, so that didn't help.

LET IT GO > LET IT PASS (18A: Advice for touchy types). I didn't know "drift" was a kind of "rock," so GLACIAL DRIFT was rough for me (7D: Rock moved by ice). Even rougher was MIRROR SHADES. I had MIRROR- and still had no idea what could follow (21D: Reflective pair). I really have no occasion to think about mirrored sunglasses, so the term ... never occurred to me. If I never see KEBAB(S) again, it'll be too soon. I never have any clue how the puzzle is going to spell it. Incredibly irritating to have to go to the crosses for the vowels. I think the best thing in this grid is METABOLIC RATE and its clue (30A: Burning figure). I am looking side-eyed at NAPAS, which feels like a non-term (6D: Certain California wines). NAPA is a region, not a grape. I'd buy ZINS or MERLOTS or PINOTS but NAPAS?! NAPAS are cabbages. And that RISE clue, yikes. I had to look it up afterwards:
Rise is the distance from the middle of the crotch seam (right between your legs) to the top of the waistband. It usually ranges from 7 inches to 12 inches. (Primer)
I realize now that I have heard it, but only in the term "low-rise jeans." It's very clear that this puzzle and I just have very different ideas of what "fun" clues look like.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


TomAz 12:27 AM  

After LETITPASS, I was not all that interested. I got it done somehow, but meh.

The Big Salad 12:30 AM  

initiATE/ACTIVATE, gflat/SEEME, and resT/QUIT gave me fits for awhile.

Enough gimmes to get things moving -- ENTREPRENEURS seemed too easy so I held off until a few crosses confirmed it.

Overall one of the more difficult Fridays recently, in both cluing and answers.

Outside The Box 12:37 AM  

Oddly enough MGMLION came easily, and the 13/14 word answers weren’t too difficult. Nevertheless one had to work on this one. The SE was the most difficult area for me.

turkeyneck 12:41 AM  

Ditto on the Napa cabbages. Napa is not a varietal anything except location name. And the NE was painful.Had MetLife before MGM.

Anonymous 12:44 AM  

Got MIRRORSHADES off the M and the S but I still don't know how. Mostly just shoving together two words that seemed to fit. I got NOISE but that's a clue that could only be written by someone who has no idea what mechanics actually do.

Very slow Friday for me and the reliance on proper nouns frustrated me to no end. I just googled a couple in the end. The ASTAR clue struck me as especially terrible since it's a band I've never heard of and the song isn't even in the list of hits Google highlights when you search them. So it's a deep track from an obscure band. And no, I'm not glad I learned that useless bit of information.

puzzlehoarder 12:56 AM  

Well so much for my late week prediction. This puzzle provided some solid work. Like the Wednesday puzzle it mostly came from the NW. I put in TAE, EDS and LASS. From this I really wanted ATALLTALE for 1A. Even with TACOSALAD in place, trying to make that 1A misditect work wasted a lot of time before I moved on.

ACTIVATE lead to AKA, EKES and AXEL. SEXUALCONTENT didn't fit so rather than waste more time on the middle across entries I restarted in the NE. From there into the south it was steady late week filling.

Still the NW was a mess and 30A lacked the M and the B. I erased all the garbage I put in the NW. Once I put BAN in place recognizing METABOLICRATE was the biggest aha moment of the puzzle. Up until then that ICRATE section was inseparable. With RAM in place I recognized REVERSI. ISAAC and GLACIAL went right in then the NW fell. Prior to this I'd had SOUND/NOISE and ALUVIAL/GLACIAL write overs. There should be an extra L in there but desperate times called for desperate measures.

I hope tomorrow generates as much entertainment.

Real Men Drink Wine 1:13 AM  

Do yourself a favor. Stop buying MERLOTS.

mathgent 1:35 AM  

I thought it was marvelous. Lots and lots of sparkle. Twenty-three red plus signs in the margins, way above average.

Jeff Chen sounded like Rex tonight. Looking for things to criticize and not being impressed by the many highlights. Maybe he's become jaded.

Dawn 2:01 AM  

I really enjoyed this, even though I had activate/initiate issues, couldn't recall REVERSI or ISAACS, and came in a couple minutes above average time. But the puzzle had the right amount of crunch, and even the proper names (most of which I didn't know) turned out to be guessable with enough crosses.

Robin 2:07 AM  

Not a great puzzle but nevertheless I liked it. Some stumbling blocks to keep me honest and to keep me from whizzing through it. So yeah, it was Friday.

I should have had MIRRORSHADES more quickly, given that there's a great 1980s cyberpunk SF short story anthology by that name, but I got messed up because I don't know how to spell ENTREPRENEURS (what? there are three Rs?).

Also messed up a bit by entering NUTS rather than RATS. Otherwise the NE should have fallen faster.

Dolgo 2:07 AM  

I immediately put down "Othello," but I never heard of REVERSI. I think one of them is the original and the other is the Avalon Hill knock off.
I'm not a wine snob,but I live just north of of Napa and Sonoma Counties
Like others above, I've never heard a wine called a "Napa." It was pretty clear that was the answer, though.
Several examples of what I would call words or phrases made up to construct a puzzle rather than idiomatic American. I finished it okay, but such unimaginative puzzle making leaves me kinda peed off.

jae 2:26 AM  

Pretty tough Fri. Liked it.

JOHN X 2:45 AM  

This puzzle was tough but fair. I liked it even though the top of it was tough! I had ATAlltaLE in there at 1A even though it seemed dumb but once I tore it out and looked again the NW fell. OEUVRE is great because it was hidden in there in the NE and kept me from crossing it because "VRE" just didn't seem right.

And then I put the last letter in up top and BANG I got the message that I had a wrong letter somewhere. So now I check every word; down at the bottom it's that darn E.A. Poe, and even when I originally put in ALLeN I knew it was probably wrong because I always spell it wrong. ALLAN is in the same boat with KEBABS, and there's a couple other words like that you know the ones. Also, I think kebab actually means chicken not skewers. Remember when it was called "shish kebab?" "Shish" means "sword" or "skewer," so a chicken-kebab is actually a chicken-chicken, just like a chaise-lounge is a lounge-lounge and The Los Angeles Angels are The The Angels Angels. I think so anyway. I also think "shish" has some thing to do with "hashish" and also the word "assassin." I could look it up but I'm high. Ciao.

Loren Muse Smith 3:40 AM  

I didn’t notice that this was a bigger grid. I have no strong feelings either way.

That southeast killed me. Two huge missteps led to a ton of head scratching:

*pee for MAL. Start to practice. Hah.
*mos for PMS. I can’t be alone there. That was certainly a deliberate trap.

I checked, and PMS has never been clued as anything but multiple prime ministers. I guess any other clue is just venturing in to dangerous territory. I’m oldish; I can’t really keep up with all the things that are supposed to offend me. Every now and then there’s a feminist flap here, and I try to understand what the big deal is, embrace the anger, feel slighted. But usually I can’t, and then I feel dumb. Worse, I feel shame that this offense-of-the-day flew under my radar. I LET IT PASS because I never notice. But the reactions here to non pc stuff usually just serve to make me feel guilty. A philistinish feminist wannabe.

Because of these mistakes, I kept thinking that the things pets usually lack were “easy” names. I remembered this big male husky, Kochisse, who lived across the street in NC. Weird dog. Once when I was standing in the street talking to his owner as he was being walked, he bared his teeth and growled at me after a full 10 minutes of standing there talking. Now that’ll get your attention. Hello.

“Pachisi” before REVERSI.

Loved the clue for 11D.

18A, that advice to touchy types, I tried “get a room” off that ET. Too short.

On the wine deal, @bg - “Napa is not a varietal anything except location name.” Right. I guess California usually names its wines by the varietal, but some other places use the location name.

Oh man, you gotta check out the new wine store. Their Chablis and Bordeaux selection is limited, but they have some terrific Burgundies, Sancerres, and Champagnes.

I kinda like NAPAS. You go, California!

Thanks for the workout, Jacob.

Can Of Pineapple 4:16 AM  

I work in wine, I sell wine, I drink wine, and I would NEVER use the term NAPAS. Ever.

Conrad 4:56 AM  

Thank you, @John X, for not making me feel totally stupid for not knowing the vowel in Mr. Poe's middle name. Did anyone else think MackdOg for the corporate logo?

Thomaso808 4:58 AM  

I started off liking the first half of Rex’s blog with the 16 wide thing and proper names of dubious fame. But then I looked closer at that central crossing stack. Three debut answers across the middle METABOLICRATE, SEXANDVIOLENCE, and ENTREPRENEURS. That’s why this a 16 wide grid. OK that works for me. Well done, Jacob!

@LMS the idea of pee never even occurred to me. You need a well deserved break from your fifth graders!

Thanks, Jacob because I wrestled with the spelling of entrepreneur and now I know it’s all E’s until the obvious U (hi @M&A!).

Doctor Emmett Brown 5:24 AM  

Great Scott !

BarbieBarbie 5:58 AM  

@lms me too on PEE. Gave me a smile, but a temporary one.
DNF because of E ALLeN [red face] and why not an E in the palm name; I’d always called them betel nut palms.
I can see NAPA wines, but not NAPAS.

Lewis 6:33 AM  
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Lewis 6:35 AM  

Except for a quartet of names, as I look one the grid, it's all things I've heard of, so what gave this puzzle its bite, to me -- and it was motivating bite, not trudge bite -- was the clever and tricky cluing. Superb clues for ARABLE, ERA, MIRROR SHADES, HIRES, and DEALER. Throughout the whole puzzle, my guiding mantra was "I think I can, I think I can...", and when I did, it was a whew and a wow and a big thanks for the adventure. Once again, Jacob I have loved.

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

I really liked the puzzle. The answers were not sizzling but the cluing was great. I struggled through running the alphabet on answers like elect and "A Dog's Tale" but eventuallly overcame. A puzzle is most enjoyable when you work hard and manage to eventually finish it. Elvira and Isaacs were mystery names to me. Thank you Dr. Brown for reminding us of "GREAT SCOTT!" That gave me a chuckle for the day.

Anonypuss 7:08 AM  

I read Rex's complaints carefully, with an open mind. And then read the (handful of) complaints here with an open mind.

And judged the complaints spurious. Party-pooping. Curmudgeonly.

Entertaining, challenging puzzle. Finished 4 minutes faster than usual. Would have been faster but I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what was wrong with REVERSI and then tracking down the problem with ALLeN.

kitshef 7:26 AM  
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kitshef 7:27 AM  

“Medium-Challenging”?! Pfft. For a Saturday, this would have been Challenging. For a Friday, this was off the charts.

Rex’s ‘Some guy named Jason’ ISAACS was the first thing I entered.

Five minutes later, I had added LASS and EDS and REROOT and ROD and ALERT, plus a couple of partials (GLACIAL xxxxx and MIRROR xxxxxx).

It was a day for partials. In addition to the above, with ADxGxTxxx, I wasn’t sure whether to go with A DOGS TAIL or TAle, so left the last two blank for later determination. And I figured betel nut would be a PALM, which what PALM? And had SEX a long, long time before AND VIOLENCE.

NAPA is not a grape, but it is a winery. Not sure why Rex did not Google that when he was Googling RISE.

martyvanb 7:32 AM  

"If I never see KEBAB(S) again, it'll be too soon. I never have any clue how the puzzle is going to spell it. Incredibly irritating to have to go to the crosses for the vowels."

This exactly how I feel about so many foreign words but especially ones that take both masculine and female forms which are almost never intimated in the cluing like ESO and ESA.

Beyond spelling, usage is also often misapplied as in a word like ADIEU which I never heard - seriously, not once - in my years living around France. Yes, it means goodbye but there's a finality to it in the sense that speaker has reason to believe they might not ever see the other again. It's that kind of goodbye.

Of course there are also diacritical marks whose use (or lack thereof) can dramatically change the meaning of a word to the point of being obscene.

Passing Shot 7:41 AM  

No. LET IT PASS? NAPAS? Just... no.
I can count on 3 fingers on one hand the number of Jacob Stulberg puzzles I’ve enjoyed. This wasn’t one of them.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

I hate entrepreneurs. I prefer to be taken care of from the cradle to the grave. Too bad democrats won't let more babies get to the cradle.

Hungry Mother 7:53 AM  

A bit of a slog for me today. I was sweating over the word to prefix with an ‘S’ when my wife asked me to take out the trash. I thought of ELECT as I headed out of the door. Distraction is often helpful mid-solve. Happy to get through it, however slowly.

QuasiMojo 7:56 AM  

I'm hesitant to say anything today. For a change. After putting my foot into my mouth a few times yesterday. But I really liked this puzzle. I found it challenging and engaging, mostly perhaps because I made some whoppers today that made it more difficult than I suppose it was for the likes of Rex. I threw in MIRROR IMAGES without a moment's pause and that held me up for an ERA. Then I put in HEALER for the touchy fella giving you a hand. Laying on of hands, get it? That gave me A HOG'S TALE which sounded fine to me as I think of Twain as a satirist and assumed he was referring to some fat cat capitalist. I had forgotten about the Collie in the clue (perhaps I read it as COLLEEN.) So technically I had a DNF because of the damn HOG thing although I did REROOT it when I did not get the ta-da bell at the end.

Regarding NAPAS, could it be NAPA'S? As in "Napa's wines are the best in the region," etc. The clue isn't that specific, as it refers only to "certain" wines. Or would that be "hors la loi"?

Birchbark 7:58 AM  

Lots of rework to get to ARECAPALM, as I was among the May = moS group for a while, and CORA was lanA. But the unknowns were generally inferable, and finished comfortably under par. Like the Twain title.

No problem with NAPAS, ala @Lauren's Burgundies, Champagnes, Barolos, etc. I know nobody says it in real life (that I've heard), but I'm going to start. As with the Seinfeld fork-and-knife-candy-bar episode, check back in a few weeks -- I bet the world is taking NAPAS for granted.

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

So let me understand: this puzzle was not good because it was too big and had too many things Rex didn’t know. That’s actually my definition of a good puzzle.

Aketi 8:06 AM  
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Aketi 8:12 AM  

@lms, your avatar eclipsed your pee comment. Fortunately, I wasn't sipping coffee because I have a stuffy nose from a cold and the result would have been truly ugly.

Robert A. Simon 8:13 AM  

This puzzle reminded me of NYT puzzles from long ago, back when I was in high school and just starting to solve them. The Eugene Maleska era, I guess. Anyway, today I was stumped at every turn, hitting most if not all of the roadblocks you all highlighted.

(Way) Back then, I would put the paper aside and wait for the next day when the answer was printed and go back and either learn something new or get one "Aha!" moment after the other as I erased and filled, filled and erased. Those moments set the hook deeper and deeper in me, as I'm sure they did in you.

I loved this puzzle not for what it was, but rather for what it used to be. With the exception of two or three modern-day answers, if someone told me this was a puzzle from the Sixties, I would have believed them.

Sir Hillary 8:13 AM  

This felt like a Saturday puzzle, and a tough one at that. I feel good for having finished it, but there weren't enough sparklers for me to say that I enjoyed the effort that much.

The central stack is quite a feat of construction, especially being crossed by so many long downs.

Felt like too many forced "?" clues. Favorite clues are those for METABOLICRATE and ARABLE.

Only as I type this am I realizing what PMS has to do with May. OK, it's Theresa. That is actually a fabulous clue -- but again, it's Saturday-hard.

All in all, the puzzle reminded me of Yankee Stadium -- impressive, intimidating, monolithic, lacking any charm. Something I respect, but don't really like.

Aketi 8:14 AM  

Hmm, a person's METABOLIC RATE would likely RISE when engaged in SEX AND VIOLENCE, unlike lazing around doing a crossword puzzle where it's probably closer to that of GLACIAL DRIFT. I'm doubtful that critiquing crossword puzzles really increases anyone's heart and METABOLIC RATEs high enough to cause a heart attack no matter how vehement the critique.

Carolynne 8:17 AM  

I got PMS off the crosses and still didn’t understand the clue ... and I live in a country where there is a prime minister!

It was a slower than average Friday for me but no complaints, I had never heard of ARECAPALM or REVERSI or A DOGS TALE, although the last one was given away by the clue.

There was only one sports clue in the grid (ATL) so I didn’t even need my husband’s help!

TSG 8:26 AM  

Sly and the Family Stone Obscure? Deep track? Billboard Number 1 song in 1970. Iconic. Apparently anonymous missed the latter half of the 20th century.

Ken 8:46 AM  

I appreciate resistance so I will accept the awkwardness of the puzzle in lieu of a "clean, fun, hip " construct of Rex's more preferred artists (Berry, Agard et al) Thanks Jacob

Ken 8:51 AM  

I totally concur. Today's puzzles provide little challenge and then only on rare occasions! Years ago you had to work a lot harder and think far more outside of the box to solve a Friday Saturday or Sunday. I find Thursdays are more like the way it once was

Ken 8:53 AM  

Amen !!!!!

Two Ponies 9:00 AM  

Great Friday puzzle that made me sweat just enough to feel proud of myself
Reroot and model ship were a little weak but the clues for arable, metabolic rate, and recipe made up for it.
Proper names were not a big problem for once.
A Dog's Tale seemed obvious. There are two breeds of canines in the clue.

Rex if you are going to post a video for this puzzle you missed a chance with Sly Stone. That larger-than-life guy and his band are so visual and fun to watch. They were a bit of a genre of their own.

mmorgan 9:05 AM  

I thought this was a nice chewy puzzle -- much of it took some thought but it felt great when it all fit together. ELVIRA was a gimme (I love Noel Coward) but I still got held up in the NE. And I got Naticked on CO_A/A_ECAPALM. Didn't love RATS for 29A. But I really enjoyed this.

I still hate the new Across Lite app for iPad! For one thing, there's no space bar on the keyboard now, making it more difficult to take stuff out. Humph.

MsCarrera 9:10 AM  

Just got around to reading comments from yesterday. Would someone please explain what POW means? Thanks very much.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Solid Friday solve with some interesting twists!

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

And Sly and the Family Stones is as far from
“obscure” as the current political climate is from “sane”.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Anonymous @7:52 AM, who peed in your Cheerios today? Were you not hugged enough as a child? Good gracious.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

@anonymous 7:52 am, you mean pro-choice liberals like Ayn Rand who ended her days accepting Medicare and Social Security after promoting objectivism until she needed care? Actually given her philosophy It isn't so much if a stretch to imagine that she may have been pro-abortion, not merely pro-choice.

Churlish Nabob 9:34 AM  

English professor only knows the Twain story that everyone has heard oh. Oh I forgot, you teach comic books.

BobL 9:36 AM  

I finished. So I loved it.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

"Rock" moved by ice is properly called an ERRATIC or GLACIAL ERRATIC not GLACIAL DRIFT which is an inclusive term.

ARECAPALM is always on the tip of my tongue as is CORA.

Stanley Hudson 9:46 AM  

My first DNF in quite awhile. Man this was a tough Friday.

Sly and the Family Stone are in the Rock ‘n’ Roll HOF. Hardly an obscure band.

The Hermit Philosopher 9:53 AM  

LET IT PASS. Good advice that @Rex should heed! What a grouch!

Mary McCarty 9:54 AM  

Only answer I hated was 5D (love the song, nothing “obscure” about it or the group) just hate clues that are partial phrases requiring “a” or “the”.) Getting a bit tired of ILE and KEBAB, but like having to notice the language of 56D. Ok with two fictional names: at least they were from established, well-known works and could be gotten via crosses. But, HEAVENS, Rex! You have such a strange wheelhouse if you couldn’t get SAUL, RISE, NAPA (the clue said “Ca. wines,” not grapes.) I think I’ve finally figured out why Rex is so critical: he’s so intent on speed, he only likes answers he can get immediately, without resorting to crosses. To me, that’s the fun of crossword puzzles in the first place: the interconnectedness of the answers. Otherwise it might as well be just a list of random words.

The Hermit Philosopher 9:55 AM  

Hear hear!!

Nancy 9:56 AM  

You got me good, Jacob Stulberg, in the way that a really cleverly clued puzzle does. Two of my "answers" made no sense to me: MODEL SHIm and ARECA PALo. And that's because for "May and others", I had MOS. And not PMS. MOS, for me, was an idee fixe, and I never corrected.

Got everything else, hard as everything else was. My word recognition prowess, usually a strong feature of my xword skills, failed me today as I stared at BOLICRATE for what seemed like days, and didn't see METABOLIC RATE (30A) till the very end. Very clever clue.

For "Advice for touchy types" (18A), my head was swirling with the tales of Weinstein, Ailes, Batali, Moore, Lauer, Franklin et al, and I wanted LET ME PASS, instead of LET IT PASS. And the funniest clue/answer was LAST NAMES for "what pets usually lack".

Loved this puzzle. I worked hard -- not altogether successfully, as you can see -- and enjoyed every minute of the process.

Mohair Sam 9:57 AM  

Disagree totally with OFL - everything's to love about this terrific Friday challenge. Awesome center stack, lively cluing, and GLACIALDRIFT and MIRRORSHADES - long downs to die for. Maybe Rex missed his daily "Star Wars" reference. Yes some of the PPP was wicked, but that's why we have crosses folks, and they were fair (and the calendar does say Friday).

We saw "Blithe Spirit" performed last year at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Theater and for the life of us could not remember ELVIRA - delightful play btw. MIRRORSHADES always remind me of "Cool Hand Luke" and the terrible character called the Man With No Eyes. Lady M. saved us by knowing ARECAPALM because I never remember Poe's spelling of ALLAN.

@Conrad (4:56) I thought "Mack Dog" at 21A for a moment too, but we live within two miles of the Mack Truck museum and know the Mack bull dog story. He comes from the naming of World War I trucks supplied to the Brits by Mack as "Bull Dogs" by the British troops for the way they looked from the side and the way loyally kept going through anything.

Thanks for a great Friday test Jacob Stulberg.

mathgent 10:22 AM  

@Nancy (9:56): Like you, I stared at the mess of letters at 30A for a long time and couldnt see METABOLICRATE. So I called in The Closer and she got it.

@LMS (3:40): You're in fine form this morning including the excellent justification of NAPAS. Also a bingo to @Mary McCarty (9:54) for pointing out that the clue is for wine, not grapes.

An advantage of doing the puzzle every day: REVERSI has been in several times over the last few months. And it gets complained about every time.

I think that I understand comments like "too hard for a Friday." It reminds me of the times not that long ago when I had to lookup lots of answers to the Fridays and Saturdays. Usually about ten. But then I improved and didn't have to look up more than one or two. Recently usually none. So getting to the point where we feel that we have Fridays under control and then coming to one like today would prompt "Too hard for a Friday."

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

Oh....So disagree with you, @Rex.
This was the best hour and a half I've spent with a puzzle in ages...I was determined to finish this without so much as one cheat. Alas, I did cheat. But it was a fun one. I had to pull out my old frayed dictionary to see how to spell ENTREPRENEURS.! A reborrowed word from the latin and the French.
I fell in love with the cluing. One giving you a hand being one of my favorites. I couldn't get middle finger out of my head. I get the hand all the time when I'm driving too slow. Sacramentans are speed deamons.
Never read Mark Twains story ut the clue practically gave it away. cute.
TACO SALAD was my first entry. Love those things but they're always so big. My daughter, her friend and I order one to split three ways and there's still leftover lettuce bits. NAPAS was my second entry. Had no problem with that clue. There are certainly certain wines from Napa. Clue looks ok by me. Who said "stay away from Merlot?" It's a fine grape and it's usually mixed with others. Ever try a Chateau Lafite?
Why do I forget that E.A.P stand for Edgar ALLAN Poe? I kept thinking of some environmental air potential. Clue for SEE ME was primo. I got a few F's in Latin because I would hold my book up in front of me and snooze. My teacher never once said SEE ME. He delighted in it. I think he may have even drawn a little. happy face on the huge F circled in red.
Loved this Jacob. I enjoy your puzzles. Hope you do't read @Rex...;-)

GHarris 10:42 AM  

Needed help for four answers, Dogs Tale, Cora, Elvira and the nut tree. Every thing else got worked out. I have heard of glacial erratics and continental drift but never glacial drifts, still got it right.

mbr 10:46 AM  

martyvanb: I agree with your analysis of the word ADIEU and its finality, although you reminded me of a co-worker who, instead of saying "I bid you a fond adieu" on his way out of the office, would screw it up and say "I bid you a fondue". I quote him often.

Nancy 10:48 AM  

If the brilliant @mathgent also stared dumbly at BOLICRATE and the brilliant @LMS also was suckered by MOS, I must say that I'm feeling much better about Life.

But Loren, you're being facetious, aren't you, about "feeling shame that the offense of the day flew under [your] radar"? I hope so. Speaking for myself, I feel that my liberal credentials are burnished enough that I don't have to go looking for things to be offended by. I'm almost never offended. I believe that if people are kind, thoughtful, tactful and follow the Golden Rule, the need for "political correctness" is entirely eliminated.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

@MsCarrera 9:10 AM POW means "Puzzle Of (the) Week".

Mohair Sam 11:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Mills 11:17 AM  

Finished it, but only after I gave up on "INITIATE" and thought of "ACTIVATE." INITIATE is a much better clue for "START."

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Starting right off, I was annoyed with 1A (not true=atanangle). News reported with a slant/angle is not necessarily false. A more accurate clue might be "not QUITE true." Liked the long center answers and got them pretty quickly but agree re obscurity in other places. WTH is oeuvre, reversi? But my biggest gripe was 57D (May and others=PMS). I had mos for months but really these days PM is either the time of day or an electronic message.

Mohair Sam 11:19 AM  

"ENTREPRENEURS is perhaps my least favorite word . . ." so sayeth OFL.

Well I've waited all morning and no one else has done it so. . . . .

I'd like to be the first to congratulate Michael Sharp on his ENTREPRENEURial spirit in setting up and running this blog all these years. Like any good capitalist he has taken a favorite pastime and used his native ENTREPRENEURial skills to turn it to even more fun and a degree of fame and (hopefully) profit. Congrats Rex.

11:12 AM Delete

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Enjoyed this one. Tough but fair is all we ask for.

Malsdemare 11:42 AM  

Definitely a Friday for me. The NE just would not give in, mostly because I had HElpER at 37A. Ultimately I hit reveal word for the "Blithe Spirit" character, which showed me the error of my ways and I bumbled through to the end. But dnf anyway because, while my guess on the betal nut tree and the Last of the Mocans' character (C) was right, I once again misspelled Mr. Poe's middle name and didn't realize it.

The puzzle lasted through two cups of coffee so I'm happy. On to other things.

Johnny 11:42 AM  

I agree with Rex, I dislike the word ENTREPRENEUR as well. It sounds awful and it's spelled worse.

"Businessman" is a far superior word. It sounds solid. Same goes for "Businesswoman" in fact that word might be even better for several good reasons.

Neither of us said we disliked entrepreneurs, just the word. So knock off the complaints.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Does anyone remember Google?

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

@Anonymous 11:18 AM True is not referring to true/false, it is referring to "alignment" like for a bicycle wheel.

mathgent 12:01 PM  

Coming soon to a crossword near you. Today's NYT movie section has a guide to Star Wars creatures. Besides Ewoks, Wampas, and Banthas from before, we are getting Porgs, Fathiers, Crystal Foxes, Caretakers, The Sarlacc, Rathtars, The Dianoga, and Zillo Beasts.

Z 12:01 PM  

I was feeling all cocky for spelling ALLAN correctly so totally ignored the huge hint in the Twain clue (hi @Two Ponies) and DNFed with A hOG’S TALE (hi @quasimojo).

@LMS - as is often the case, a simple term to describe a real thing was transformed through use into a pejorative. The funny thing, of course, is that we are all hostages to our hormones.

I agree with Rex that ENTREPRENEURS is an ugly word. “Small business woman” works better for me. Of course, owning a “start-up” is the hipster version, which seems a little forced to me but is still better sounding than ENTREPRENEURS. To me it always evokes a sewer rat.

As for Rex’s PPP plaint, the data doesn’t really support it. I count only 19 PPP clues or answers. This is actually much lower than usual, nor do they take up a great deal of real estate. I don’t think anyone can make a real strong argument that the PPP is unfair over-all, and everything seems fairly crossed and clued.

old timer 12:03 PM  

So is a female start-up person an entrepreneuse?

Sly and the Family Stone provided the sound track to a nice stretch of my life, though I can't recall "Everybody is A STAR."

Nor could I recall ARECA PALM. That was my one lookup, for I too had had "mos" and replaced it with "pos", and ended up with ARECAPALo. Wikipedia gave me the correct answer.

NAPAS is a little off, though I could see saying with respect to cabs and zins, "You got your Napas and your sonomas and ought to recognize the difference."

jberg 12:07 PM  

I liked this one a lot, as I've always wanted A TANANGLE (to keepmy toat in). I especially liked MODEL SHIP. I remember thinking, 'well, maybe the bow in question is not one of those little frilly things, but a curtsy,' but even when I got the answer from the crosses it took me another 30 seconds to see how it could be right.

doA before AKA, throNg before ABOUND, and for some reason EmiL before KARL.

@anonymous 11:18 -- it's true in the carpentry sense, as in 'that post is a little out of true.'

@Nancy, you win the Comment of the Day with LET me PASS. @Loren's a close second.

OK, let me take on the wine thing: Bordeaux, Mosel, Burgundy, Chianti, and other wines with regional names all have to meet requirements about what grape varieties are used, and often other things -- how long they are aged, etc. Sometimes the rules are more specific -- Medoc wines are mostly cabernet, Pomerols, like Ch. Petrus, are more merlot (and I'll drink one of those any time, FWIW). California does have rules for whether you can say NAPA, e.g., but those don't usually include the varietals used, and for historic reasons the varietal label has become more important. But people with taste more refined than mine notice the difference between a Cab from Napa and one from Sonoma, etc. So I did think the clue was legitimate.

@John X, good point about KEBABs. But as for 'chaise lounge,' first of all chaise means chair,not lounge, and second, the correct term (very often misspelled in the US) is CHAISE LONGUE, or long chair -- referring to the extended seat where you can put up your legs.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Yes it's too bad - so many succumbing to the culture of complaint. After reading this blog the world usually looks a little brighter, at least as compared to this blog.

Amelia 12:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amelia 12:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Bleaux 12:35 PM  

(Copy editor's memory aid: Only e's in Poe's full name are the ones that start and end it)

Nothin' but Natick 12:40 PM  

Wouldn't the MGMLION have been inspired by the Nittany Lions from Penn State? The mascot Of the University of Pennsylvania, the Ivy League school, is the mascot "The Fighting Quaker." Sort of a Ben Franklin homage.

Masked and Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Perhaps the 16-wide grid, to accommodate a centered SEXANDVIOLENCE seed entry? I dunno. I just Entre-maneur here.

Tough FriPuz, and not just becuz of the extra gridgirth. Had French stuff like yer OEUVRE and ENTREPRENEURS to spell. (yo, @Thomaso808). French usually means trouble brewin, at the M&A shack. Especially when it strays from the French subtitles for "At the Earth's Core".

Superb METABOLICRATE clue. Weird PMS clue, earnin it the semi-coveted staff weeject pick award (worth .000125 bit-coin shavins).
fave fillins: MGMLION. The "S" of convenience, in the final grid square. [Takes so little desperation, to please the M&A.] + honorable despermention to RE-ROOT.

ARECAPALM? It's come to this, Jacob? M&A wanted to take it outside the box and give it the AX. (yo, @Polinmeister)
Wanted AHOGSTALE/HEALER, btw. Lost valuable bonus pointz.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Stulberg.
@RP: "Oh … she was only sixteen … only sixteen …"

Masked & Anonymo5Us

On the 3rd Day of Christmas my true luv gave to m&e …


… Two Tiny Feys.
And a SIRENE in a FERRITE tree.

Nancy 12:50 PM  

Re @mathgent's droll 12:01 comment: Good grief! Just what the world is panting for -- "A Field Guide to 'Star Wars' Creatures", courtesy of the Friday NYT Weekend Arts Section. This is what they replaced their weekly Friday Movie Guide with????? (For those of you who don't get the paper, for decades the Times had a fairly comprehensive movie list, where they starred their recommended movies at the end of the week, along with a brief description from their original review. You could find out what to see without reading every single review as it came along.) That went missing over a year ago, but never mind. We have something today infinitely more wonderful and prized: everything you ever wanted to know about porgs and fathiers and sarlaacs and rathtars -- need I go on? Please, please let @mathgent be wrong: that these Creatures are not "coming soon to a crossword near you." Or at least not to one near me.

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  


24-A: {Tailor's concern} = RIPS, then REND. Then RIDE. Then RING. aaaargh.
Coulda been worser … at least the puz had SEX **and** VIOLENCE.



Carola 12:53 PM  

I really enjoyed solving this one, with its "just right" level of difficulty and its many pleasures, from MIRROR SHADES to GLACIAL DRIFT (easy for a Wisconsinite, with our beautiful DRIFTless Area, left untouched by the last glaciation; @Anonymous 9:43, I, too, thought "erratic," but I think "Rock" here works as a collective.) Total Harry Potter fan here, so I loved seeing Jason ISAACS (next to the wrong studio, though).
Like others, I found 30A a real head-scratcher: what kind of CRATE?

Joe Bleaux 1:06 PM  

Again, a Jacob Stulberg puzzle leaves me feeling like I'm a pretty fair solver just for finally finishing without a mistake or writeover. Fun Friday, with DOOK bonuses (MODELS HIP, A DOG STALE)

GeezerJackYale48 1:27 PM  

Also saw a performance of “Blithe Spirit” recently at the Hedgerow Theater in Rose Valley Pa. Also struggled to remember Elvira!

GeezerJackYale48 1:31 PM  

Deliver me Lord.

GeezerJackYale48 1:35 PM  

Columbia teams are the Lions.

Two Ponies 1:47 PM  

That play sounds like a good one. I see that several movies versions have been made over the years but Netflix doesn't seem to have any of them! One even has Lauren Bacall as Elvira. The chances of seeing it live up here in the wilderness are zero.

Teedmn 1:50 PM  

Just as I was about to go down with the SHIm, I realized what 55A really was. Then I had to ponder PoS at 57D and that too came to me, preventing the PALM slap to my face, ah, Theresa May, yes. (@LMS, thanks for the avatar). I was especially proud of changing ALLeN to ALLAN at the last second.

But I started polishing my knuckles on my sleeve too soon, alas. Reading @Rex's review, I got to the KEBABS section and thought, "Typo, he means KaBOBS". Wrong - I never read the clue for 45A and left aRA from my original KaBoBS guess. And I was so proud of knowing KARL outright and BLUING from the G in the SW. DNF :-(

I tried to help a possible pangram along with my first guess of ezra for SAUL at 12D (which turned into SAra briefly). And did anyone else fall for the non-literal meaning of "salted away" at 36D and guess "fUn money" there, saved for a special occasion?

Thanks, Jacob Stulberg. This was a fun, challenging solve with wonderful clues!

Missy 1:50 PM  

I think it refers to the verb true -bring (an object, wheel, or other construction) into the exact shape, alignment, or position required.

Reynard 1:50 PM  

Got a good head start. My mother’s name was Elvira and she acted in the local Little Theater.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

I immediately entered BULLDOG thinking Mack Trucks---that took me awhile to clear....

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

The original spelling is "chaise longue," which just means "long chair." No such word as "lounge" in French.

Missy 1:59 PM  

I think it refers to the verb true -bring (an object, wheel, or other construction) into the exact shape, alignment, or position required.

Tom 2:09 PM  

Cleverly clued puzzle. Started last night, worked for 20 minutes, went back at it this morning. Took an hour, but finished it without googling. Last entry was the a in ALLAN. Toughest area was NE. Very satisfying solve.

Charles Flaster 2:14 PM  

Did not finish in lower right.
Like others—Pee and A TAll taLE.
Never changed EaSy NAMES to LAST NAMES.
Clue for GLACIAL DRIFT was wonderful and it made it easy to quickly complete the other 90% of the puzzle.
Thanks JS

wino 2:35 PM  

variteal is one of the most misused words ever. grapes are not varietals, they are varieties. a varietal is a wine made from one grape only.

Unknown 2:53 PM  

G flat would be F sharp, not F.

Unknown 2:55 PM  

Obscure? Are you stoned? Or just very young? You’ve heard of Woodstock, perhaps?

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Wow, Rex disrespecting Jason Isaacs hard. He was fantastic in the short-lived NBC series Awake. A great actor.

semioticus (shelbyl) 3:23 PM  

I got lucky because I could figure out some of the answers/clues that are on the edge of being impossible/discouraging, but I can see how this one ends up badly for some. I thought this was more Saturday material.

Fill: The first thing I said when I saw the grid was "hoo boy." I really said it out loud. With such an ambitious effort comes ATL, EDS, TAE, CORA, ERIN, NAPAS, ELVIRA, REROOT... It is not a bad fill by any means, but I would have liked a fresher puzzle, especially in the corners. I understand the sacrifice, but it wasn't totally necessary imho. ARECAPALM/CORA wasn't the neatest crossing, the ATL-TAE-EDS combo made NW painful...

Theme/long answers: Not exactly titillating stuff. METABOLICRATE was neat. SEXANDVIOLENCE was meh. So was ENTREPRENEURS. So was MIRRORSHADES. I don't know, if you're shooting for the stars, your pinnacle answers should be more fun. GLACIALDRIFT could have been enjoyable but the cluing was weird on that one.

Clues: I like the misleads and the word plays and what not, but sometimes they're a tad too much. "Advice for touchy types," "Tailor's concern," "like hotlines and poker bets" etc. were too cute for my taste. There were also some good ones, "F note?" "something with a stirring message?" etc. were nice, but yeah there's a fine line between having smart clues and trying to get too smart with your clues. This puzzle was in the danger zone too much.

Pleasurability: NW corner really tainted this experience for me. Some ups, some downs, not a bad Friday puzzle but it wasn't really memorable in any aspect. I learned who Jason Isaacs is only to forget about him in a few days. Same with betel nut and areca palm.

GRADE: B, 3.4 stars.

@Loren Muse Smith

I did the same thing with "start to practice," and then thought to myself "This is a bit too much" but then again the puzzle had SEXANDVIOLENCE in it so I thought why not throw in a little pee as well?

Trombone Tom 3:25 PM  

I'm a wine grapegrower and I've often encountered NAPAS in comparisons of varietals between, say, Sonoma and Napa wineries.

Having wandered in the fog for ages trying to remember how to spell KEBABS or Poe's middle name I applaud @Joe Bleaux (12:35 PM) for his "copy editor's memory aid" for the latter.

And OFL seems not just curmudgeonly, but verging on Freudean with his reaction to ENTREPRENEURS. As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Thank you Jacob for a Friday with some fight.

semioticus (shelbyl) 3:30 PM  

Also, let the record show that Amy at, Jeff Chen and Rex are all in agreement that this is a meh puzzle at best. That doesn't happen often.

MsCarrera 4:03 PM  

Thank you Anonymous for the explanation of POW.

Go Democrats 5:28 PM  

Hello to Jason Isaacs

Go Democrats 5:29 PM  

I had "sentience" for something pets lack. What pet doesn't have a last namw? They all do.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

yes, asshole, we remember Google. and laughter. and prancing. and whatever the f*ck else comes to your cannabis-addled brain at any given moment.

Jack Dammit 5:58 PM  

Don't worry Miss Prissy. If the NYT's "A Field Guide to 'Star Wars' Creatures" comes near you we're all counting on you to fuss and moan and whine like a septuagenarian version of Lucy in "Peanuts."

Anonymous 6:02 PM  

Hey @Semi-idioticus, no one cares a fig about your pedantic "analyses" and "grades." Go develop a more interesting hobby, like watching paint dry.

Wino Willy 6:29 PM  

I am a sot and I will drink anything. Napas, T-Birds,Ripples and Boone's Farm Apple Wines.

Larry Gilstrap 9:24 PM  

That was a hard Friday puzzle. You guys have said it all.

I remember living in a California where nobody drank wine, at a restaurant, at a picnic, anywhere, except maybe sparkly stuff at a wedding. I aspired to be a Yuppie, so I began to learn about and consume wine as part of a fine dining experience. No places served wine by the glass, bottle only. NAPA was an approachable, affordable agricultural area. Things have changed!

Girish 10:47 PM  

I think burning figure/metabolic rate was my favorite clue/answer. A somewhat challenging Friday for me. @Anomymous 6:02 PM Go fig-ure. Semioticus displays interest in his hobby, Perhaps, you should develop a more proactive one.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Can someone explain 11D: F note? Seeme
I was sure I’d made a mistake somewhere.

wino 7:35 PM  

when you get an F on a test or assignment your teacher may write "See Me" by the grade. i may have experienced this.

Burma Shave 9:41 AM  


Miss ELVIRA’s ASTAR, a LASS CALLED to dispense
things ONTHEEDGE or bizarre with SEXANDVIOLENCE.


BS2 10:36 AM  


TRENDS to ABOUND in some doubt,


Sloaka 11:03 AM  

Difficult for the sake of being difficult I guess. F Note? Start to Practice? At least I get those. Somebody please explain "May and others, for short" answer PMS.
I liked the previous 3-4 Fridays much better than this. After those, I was satisfied with the challenge of the cluing. This one just made me want to punch something.

Grade: C-

fakt chekker 11:21 AM  

@Sloaka - Theresa May is the British Prime Minister (PM)

thefogman 11:47 AM  

Hard! But I managed to finish. Tons of erasures. Now I have a headache. What fun!

spacecraft 11:52 AM  

Banged out the NW in 10 minutes; the NE took half an hour (!), then the rest of the puz was done in 8. For once I agree with OFL: that NE was BRUYAL. RISE is a tailor thing. It has been explained--obviously by a tailor--so I learned something new. At least I didn't have his trouble with the Twain work: I love all his OEUVRE. OFL overthought the clue. Took a while for me to parse SEE ME; that seems to be a crossword favorite phrase, but in my experience I never saw that written on anybody's paper. Most of those NE clues could have been almost anything: "One giving you a hand," etc.

I never notice the width of a puzzle. Counting to 15 or 16 just isn't important to me. Perhaps the grid experienced a little GLACIALDRIFT. I do agree, some of the PPP's are pretty out there; I expected a mini-rant over Ms. DUNNE; she was even before MY time. Who else but ELVIRA for DOD? Twain and Poe in the same grid? HEAVENS! Par.

rondo 12:24 PM  

Nary a write-over though I wasn’t 100% sure of whether A or E in the ARECAPALM/ALLAN cross; A looked better. Wasn’t thinking Mr. Poe at first with that EAP clue; Employee Assistance Program came to mind as we were recently reminded of benefits available at work. Only know REVERSI from puzzles. Is AXEL becoming the new epee?

@Rex, SEEME after class today for a Mark Twain lecture. And GLACIALDRIFT is “rock” in the sense of a deposit of gravel or stones, not as *a* “rock”. Handy that we have many DRIFT deposits in MN for road building.

Did you know that a ROD is ¼ of a chain which is 1/10 of a furlong which is 1/8 of a mile? George Washington did, in his surveying days. (For the mathematically challenged, that makes a ROD 16.5 feet long.)

Seems that Irene DUNNE might have been a yeah baby in the 30s, perhaps before SEXANDVIOLENCE in films?

Other than never remembering how to spell OEUVRE and options for KEBABS, this puz felt easy enough by the time I was DUNNE.

Diana, LIW 1:21 PM  

The EAP clue was my favorite misdirect in this "guess the name" filled puzzle.

Speaking of guess the name, who can guess the true identify of Burma Shave? (Yeah, you thought I'd give this up. Remember, I'm patient, and used to waiting...)

Diana, Lady-in Waiting and Waiting and Waiting (AKA N. Drew)

Waxy in Montreal 4:57 PM  

Know Jason ISAACS far better for his lead role as Jackson Brodie in the BBC miniseries version of Kate Atkinson's Case Histories (some SEXANDVIOLENCE) shown on PBS a few years back. Tough puzzle but eventually sussed out everything other than the tough NE corner where ADOGSTALE, SAUL and ELVIRA DUNNE me in.

rainforest 4:59 PM  

Challenging but engaging puzzle. In many places I waited for the answer to appear as I filled letters from the crosses. Thus, METABOLIC RATE gradually became apparent; ditto ENTREPRENEURS.

For some reason NAPAS was my first thought for the wine clue, and I found the SE the easiest part of the puzzle, thanks to knowing/remembering ARECA. Resisted the impulse to try to write in the too-short "fake news" for 1A. Har.

The SW was by far the most difficult for me, even "knowing" K/cARL Lagerfeld and Irene Dunne.

I don't understand those who disliked the puzzle. For me, it was great.

Red Valerian 5:00 PM  

I thought this was great! I'm sure that's at least partly because it put up a fight but I didn't need Uncle Google. Gives me a good feeling. (I imagine I'm not the only one to like a puz for that feeling, eh.)

Some genuinely fun clues/misdirects. But pets definitely do have last names, at least at the vet's. They don't put Fido's file under F unless Fido's owner/guardian/companion has a last name that starts with F.

And, @Go Democrats, (most) pets DEFINITELY have sentience! Descartes was just wrong about that. It's why there are animal cruelty laws--there wouldn't be if they couldn't feel anything. The jury is out on sapience, but I'm inclined to think that, broadly construed, most of them have that, too. (Plus, it wouldn't have fit.)

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