1831 Poe work / FRI 2-9-18 / Iowa town where American Gothic is set / Cyclops killer of myth / Good genre for maze maker / Pro-sustainability in lingo / Online hilarity / Literary nickname for Dolores / Battle of Soissons setting

Friday, February 9, 2018

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ELDON (42A: Iowa town where Grant Wood's "American Gothic" is set) —
Eldon is a city in Wapello CountyIowa, United States. The population was 927 at the 2010 census. Eldon is the site of the small Carpenter Gothic style house that has come to be known as the American Gothic Housebecause Grant Wood used it for the background in his famous 1930 painting American Gothic. (wikipedia)
• • •

ZIPPER / IPA / NARUTO / ELTON / ROOM ... is what I would've done in the west.
As of 2017, Naruto is the third best-selling manga series in history, selling more than 220 million copies worldwide in 35 countries outside Japan. It has become one of Viz Media's best-selling manga series; their English translations of the volumes have appeared on USA Today and The New York Times bestseller list several times, and the seventh volume won a Quill Award in 2006. Reviewers praised the manga's character development, strong storylines, and well-executed fight scenes, though some felt the fight scenes slowed the story down. Critics noted that the manga, which has a coming-of-age theme, makes use of cultural references from Japanese mythology and Confucianism. (EMPHASIS MINE)
I mean I literally would've done *anything* to get ELDON (???) out of there. Also, SCENEII is meaningless without an Act number (59A: When Caesar says "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look"). I mean, I assume the clue means Act I, SCENE II, but you'd never just say SCENEII to refer to happenings in a Shakespearean play. That said, I found this puzzle immensely entertaining and just the right level of difficulty—pugnacious, but not grueling. Tons and tons of "?" clues (or so it seemed), and yet none of them made me want to throw my computer across the room. I don't think [High-minded sort?] is great for AVIATOR because there's not a great connection between "minded" and flying, but it was easy enough to get. I kinda like [Scare quote?] for BOO. "Quoth the raven, 'BOO'!" Speaking of Poe, as you can see from the posted grid, above, my last square was in that damned "TO HELEN" poem, which I don't know at all (61A: 1831 Poe work). Poe has a bevy of poems that one might see in a grid. "Ulalume," "Annabel Lee," "Lenore" ... in the olden days, "Eulalie." And now apparently this one, which I'm sure is not new to the NYT, I just couldn't remember it.

EMPHASIS MINE is fantastic (19A: [Can you believe they wrote this?!]). Puzzle is worth it for that answer alone. I know SQUAT THRUSTS but not SQUAT JUMPs (20D: Exercise started by crouching), but no matter; I could piece it together. LATE CALL is also nice, though I hesitated after LATE because LATE FLAG is a thing in (American) football (11D: It may come long after the play). Biggest slowdown for me (or one of them) was SETS ABOUT for 6D: Aspires to do something (SETS A GOAL). The "O" worked (from BOLA), and so I got bogged down and only worked my way out because of PLURAL (39A: What "they" can only be, to grammar sticklers) (sticklers are losing this one, btw).

["Stop your messin' around"]

OK I'm off to the gym, hopefully not to do SQUAT JUMPs. Mwah.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:38 AM  
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Lewis 6:39 AM  

Treasures all over the place -- I INSIST, LAZYBONES, LATE CALL, "Back in the stadium" for ROOT FOR, "All together, so to speak" for SANE, "Give a flat fee" for LEASE TO, lotso' double letters (17), the contrasting BOO and SLAYED, and ROAM/ROME.

Just as I like it -- A scattershot start, answers transforming into blobs of words, a staccato of aha!'s, all leading to tada! You are a prince of puzzledom, Brendan -- thank you!

The Bard 6:41 AM  

Julius Caesar, Act I, scene II

CAESAR: Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

ANTONY: Fear him not, Caesar; he's not dangerous;
He is a noble Roman and well given.

CAESAR: Would he were fatter! But I fear him not:
Yet if my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid
So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much;
He is a great observer and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
As if he mock'd himself and scorn'd his spirit
That could be moved to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart's ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
And therefore are they very dangerous.
I rather tell thee what is to be fear'd
Than what I fear; for always I am Caesar.
Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf,
And tell me truly what thou think'st of him.

Two Ponies 7:05 AM  

BEQ seems to be mellowing. For me that's a good thing as his grids have in the past seemed to be all about how he was cooler than me.

The date in the Poe clue was a waste of ink as it did not narrow down the choices. Just say Poe poem and be done with it.

I don't see the connection between the clue/answer for Emphasis Mine.
That must be an answer for the young whipper-snappers.

Thanks @ The Bard for the quote and yes, Scene without Act has no real meaning.

The clue for Ali did not surprise me coming from BEQ. Faithful SJW that he is, something had to be in his puzzle to remind us of that.

Favorite funny wrong answer (thought but never written) Carnival Cruise stop - ICUs.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

You can have your MERINO, I’ll take a North Ronaldsay sheep, which eat only seaweed.

Crossing I INSIST with I MEAN, and giving them both terrible clues, was not at all a good idea.

Everything else was good, though, so I’m inclined to forgive. Re Rex's alternative, I don’t see that Naruta is any better than ELDON.

I don’t know what a SQUAT JUMP is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.

Loren Muse Smith 7:21 AM  

What a treat. BEQ’s themelesses are the sh$#. He offers a themeless every Monday on his site, and I always print them out to save for a rainy day. Last summer I was without power for a couple of days. Hideously hot. I sat and worked my way through a bunch of BEQ stock, and the distraction was a godsend.

“Top tier” before ROOT FOR. Great clue.

“National GALLERY” before PORTRAIT GALLERY. Bet I’m not alone. I somehow never had a the requisite portrait gallery on the wall going up the stairs. Probably just laziness, but my explanation to the kids as to why we didn’t have one was the same one I gave them about why we didn’t send out those Christmas cards with everyone on the beach in white shirts and khakis – only families with good-looking kids could have portrait walls and send out Christmas pictures.

SQUAT JUMP – hah. Last summer I was picking blackberries and was squatting, reaching way in to grab a few fat ones when some kind of insect down in there either started buzzing or flapping its wings or whatever. I’m telling you – it must have been the size of a small avocado; its sound was impressive. The Squat-Jump-Initiator in my brain mistook it for a rattle snake, and I bet I jumped up and back four feet.

Here’s the number one reason I enjoy BEQ’s puzzles: the clue for I MEAN. (Sorry, @kitshef. I have to disagree.) He’s unparalleled in cluing little spoken phrases. I MEAN certainly is interchangeable with “well” nowadays, and this is fascinating if you think about it. The phrase, you’d think, would be used to amend, to tweak something you yourself just said. Or to elaborate on something you just said.

Husband: You’re wearing that to the party?
Wife: [slowly turns to stare, eyes becoming little rattle snake eye slits]
Husband: I MEAN I just thought you were wearing the blue dress. It has long sleeves, and it’s cold outside. And you remember last time when…..[continues desperate back-pedaling to steer wife away from a that makes you look fat implication]

So the above I MEAN signals that the speaker is now offering a further explanation of a previous utterance.

But we lead with it all the time now; we use it when we haven’t said anything that needs tweaking.

Bill: Heels going down tonight.
Tar Heel Fan : I MEAN, we have lost some recently, but don't count your chickens, buddy.

This second I MEAN is not explaining any previous comment. It really does mean, "Well..."

BEQ – always a pleasure.

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Let me have men about me who know more
Of Edgar Allen Poe than manga books.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

After blowing up a marriage, and Obama's legacy, are Strzok and Page still an ITEM?

bswein99 7:27 AM  

In general, I liked this puzzle but its longest clue was questionable. I lived in the DC area for 7 years and I never once heard anyone, in speech or print, refer to the Portrait Gallery. It's always the National Portrait Gallery. So initially I wrote the obvious: National Gallery. Fortunately, I knew that 31D had to be Ali.

Stanley Hudson 7:35 AM  

This was a really enjoyable Friday. Thank you BEQ.

@Two Ponies, if you don’t know anything about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you should look her up. She’s not your typical SJW hero.

puzzlehoarder 7:37 AM  

Not a bad puzzle. It's hard to judge the difficulty. It snowed all night here in Chicago and I did this by the light of the fireplace. The flames would die down and I couldn't read so I would have to stop and put more wood on the fire.

I started in the NE and without finishing that section I worked down to the south end along SQUATJUMPS and LAZYBONES. From there I filled in from the bottom up. The NE is where I finished.

kitshef 7:39 AM  

@LMS - probably a cicada. I've had the opposite experience while hiking - hearing a noise, thinking it was a cicada, then spotting the rattlesnake a couple of feet off the trail.

Unknown 7:52 AM  

Good puzzle. Glad to see a shout out for the brave ayaan hirsi ALI

QuasiMojo 7:59 AM  

Tough and thorny. I liked it. I managed to finish without cheating, although I was tempted often. My big problem was putting ARARAT before CARMEL. That held me up about ten minutes. I tried to work in STONER for the high-minded sort, but too short. Then WIRE instead of FEED for the Chicken/News thing. I am not a FOODIE and think locavores are loco bores.

Emphasis Mine... I thought that refers to using italics in quotes? I wish I could master how to use them here. I see some are adding boldface to their postings recently. THEY is smarter than me.

I thought Odysseus killed the Cyclops but maybe my memory of the Odyssey is weak (although I just read a fascinating new book about it by Daniel Mendelsohn.) I guess Odysseus only blinded him and Apollo finished him off?

@Nancy from late (for me) last night. If the market keeps SASHAYing as it has this week, I might have to leave my digs in FL and come back home to NY! We can all rendez-vous ON A DATE at Sheep Meadow.

Two Ponies 8:03 AM  

@ Stanley Hudson 7:35, Yes, I jumped the gun a bit. She's not who I was thinking of. Mea Culpa.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

BO?A crossing A?I gave me fits.

EL?ON crossing NERU?A only slightly less so.

Two mystery crosses, plus some tough cluing, made for a slower than average time.

Suzie Q 8:14 AM  

Sashay is a great word. Almost an oenomatopaea. No, I can't spell it.
I made almost every single mistake that @QuasiMojo did but somehow untangled the mess.
I know someone named Dolores. I wonder what she'll say if I call her Lolita.
LOLZ is a thing?!
Oh well, good Friday and kinda easy so maybe tomorrow I'm in for a bruisin'.

Proud SJW 8:16 AM  

Agree about Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Also, I find it amusing how certain people think they’re insulting, when referring to others as snowflakes (quite marvelous and beautiful things) or as social justice warriors (what can be more honorable and life-worthy than to strive to be one?)

Unknown 8:16 AM  

OY, people want a tough puzzle, which involves providing clever and sometimes devious clues, and then they complain they were "misled". Stop kvetching and play the damn puzzle.

mac 8:32 AM  

Nice, bouncy Friday puzzle! Loved it.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

PSJW - no one will ever be able to use those terms perjoratively again.

relicofthe60s 8:36 AM  

So a comic-book reference is better than one of America’s most famous paintings? Typical Rex.

DC native 8:42 AM  

@Barbara: I live in DC now. We go to events and exhibits at the PORTRAITGALLERY all the time. Nobody I know modifies it with "national." Maybe tourists (as we call people from the "DC area" and beyond)?

LOLita 8:42 AM  

Isn't the text LULZ? Not Lolz.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

@Two Ponies well she has a Muslim sounding name, so why should you need anything else to judge her? They're all the same, right? Asshole.

Name that tune 8:49 AM  
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Anonymous 8:51 AM  

@Two Ponies - I believe you when you say you were thinking of someone else. Honest mistake. You’re not an asshole.

Birchbark 8:52 AM  

I mean iT --> I INSIST, crossing I MEAN. Interesting.
redS --> CABS
Aeneas --> APOLLO. Aeneas (or Odysseus) did tangle with a cyclops, right?

@TwoPonies, LOLZ re ICUS.

I believe APOLLO NERUDA was Pablo Neruda's cousin, a celebrated luchador and the inspiration for the Ramses character in the Jack Black film, Nacho Libre.

Gretchen 8:54 AM  

Great description of doing puzzles.

Joe 8:56 AM  

@relicofthe60s: absolutely. Being asked to remember the painting (which I know of) is one thing, since it's very well known. The setting of it? Pfft, come on now. Naruto is all over TV, trading cards, book stores, video games, etc. We from the younger generation have to deal with enough crazy, old-skewing clues and entries in crossword puzzles as is (actress from the 40s, 1956 movie starring blah-blah, etc.). Why should I be expected to know things from before my parents were born but you shouldn't be expected to know things that are popular when you're actually alive?

Surly Skewer 8:58 AM  

@Joe, because some things stand the test of time. A lot of the pop stuff here won’t.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Are you seriously upset because someone mentioned an advocate for women's rights and religious freedom in a clue? Or was it because the person referenced is an African muslim? It could be worse Gay could have been in the clue!!! (emphasis mine)

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

@Joe, you're not "expected to know" anything. This isn't trivia, it's a crossword. You figure it out. Your comment makes you sound like a spoiled millenial, which I acknowledge is redundant.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Every day I thank God for SJWs.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Guys like @anon 7:25 actually believe that consensual sex between two adults is worse than beating your wife or molesting children, which are forgiven if you're a Republican like Rob Porter or Roy Moore.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Please @two ponies, tell us, who is the "someone else" you were thinking of? I'm sure your answer will be very enlightening.

Bob Mills 9:26 AM  

I guessed at 53-Down. I got it right, but I don't know why. Why is "ATOM" a bond collector? Is it James Bond? Savings bond?

Maruchka 9:34 AM  

@Quasi - I initially misremembered, too. Then remembered his parting boast and telling Cyclops his true name, after fooling him as 'No Man'. Turns out, not a smart move, Ody

Nancy 9:39 AM  

Wow, was this ever enjoyable! EMPHASIS MINE.

I couldn't start in the NW. I liked ISLE (1D) leading to I mean iT (1A), but none of the other letters worked. Was afraid to write in NEAP (3D), because it also could have been High. The NE didn't look any easier, so I headed South. Somewhat easier, but I was not a LAZYBONES in solving. I worked very hard and had to do a lot of thinking, always a good thing. When PORTRAIT GALLERY finally came in, I almost SQUAT JUMPED for joy, because I knew it might open up the puzzle for me. Incidentally, don't you start all JUMPS by crouching (20D)? That was a big "get" for me, because the only jumps I could think of were running, broad and high. ("High" again and wrong once again.)

Didn't know LOLITA's name was Dolores. The clue for ROOT FOR (18A) was brilliantly misleading and tricked me for a long time. I didn't get LEASE TO (17A) until I realized it was about the person getting the payment rather than the person making the payment. And of course I didn't know the symbol on the stupid car (10D). But as a writer and editor, I loved both BOOK PROPOSAL and EMPHASIS MINE. In short (well not all that short, actually,) I had a very good time with this and was really sorry when it was over.

Unknown 9:39 AM  

Covalent and ionic bonds

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Freedom FROM religion, actually.

Beaglelover 9:50 AM  

What is SJW?

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

@Anon 9:48 - one in particular.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Could argue that characterizing ALI coyily as simply a champion of religious freedom tips BEQ’s SJW hand.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

How do Melissa Hodgman and Joseph Burrow feel about that?

TomAz 9:57 AM  

This puzzle was quite good. Smooth as your favorite simile.

ELDON was hard, yes. No doubt. It's Friday, it's supposed to be. But Rex's proposed fix would be even worse IMO. ELDON was at least plausible (I know Eldon, Mo so why not Eldon, Ia) and gettable from the crosses. he suggests Naruta in place of NARUDA? No. that would not be good.

I agree with the other @LOLita who thought 32D should be LuLZ. I've seen "LOLs" and "LuLZ" but never "LOLZ". FWIW.

I started off with ImeaniT, which very quickly fell out of favor after about 15 seconds. I also had OVate instead of OVOID.

I don't like the clue for LATECALL. If this is a football reference, that is. A LATE CALL may come after the play has concluded, but not "long after".

But those are quibbles, not major flaws. Good puzzle.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Depending on WHO’S social justice is being fought for.

And snowflakes may be pretty to look at, but in large numbers they block the streets and sidewalks and you have to shovel them out of your way

Don's friend Roger 9:58 AM  

I really liked this puzzle, and thought it was Friday good. It put up a fight everywhere regardless of how many crosses were in place, as the clueing was appropriately devious.

I thought the west was great. I, of course, am familiar with the works of Pablo NERUDA, and everyone knows that American Gothic is set in ELDON. That's something you learn in grade school, if not earlier. APOLLO is awesome as well: slayer of Cyclops and Best Space Program Ever. Speaking of the works of Pablo NERUDA, why do anime fans have such an inferiority complex? They do! They are always trying to prove what a valid medium anime is, even when no one has really questioned it. Rex did it today in his review, pointing out the sales figures of whatever the hell he was talking about. I'm sure it was delightful, I don't need a financial report. I mean, I haven't seen much anime but I thought Speed Racer was great. Oh that Chim Chim!

The tea is ready, here's a cup for you. Take a hit of that joint too if you'd like.

Steve M 10:00 AM  

All hail BEQ!

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

@two ponies

I bet you’re invited to a lot of parties! You sound like you are so much fun!

Nancy 10:08 AM  

@Birchbark (8:52) -- I absolutely roared at your hilarious last sentence, realizing that it must be a spoof of Rex who, as per usual, I had skipped right past. But Rex's preference for a comic book character to the deservedly famous NERUDA had been alluded to in other posts, so I thought I'd appreciate your comment and theirs all the more if I went back to read him. When I did, I was appalled by his sophomoric ideas for "improving" the puzzle. You should know that I get absolutely no pleasure out of being appalled by Rex nor of critiquing his critiques, which is why I never read him in the first place. But it did help make your comment even funnier.

@Quasi (7:59) -- Looks as though the stock market's loss may be NYC's gain. Sheep's Meadow, here we come!

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

I really have to hand it to the trolls. No one here really give a crap about those idiotic little pop ins but they persevere.

Trolls, why waste your time on a crossword blog? Get out there and prove that white supremacy! I guess. Whatever you do to prove it. Get a tan? I don't know.

Great puzzle. DNF though.

Harryp 10:14 AM  

Third good puzzle in a row. Can't wait to see Saturday's. ROSE before RUBY and GAS before gab, but no real problem there. Didn't have a clue about NERUDA the poet but thought I remembered NERUDA the comedian. Googled it after solving and there is one whose first name is NERUDA.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Bette Midler - DNF.

Moly Shu 10:24 AM  

Great to see my old friends Neville, Jerry, Roddy et al, creating problems in town. Thanks for that @Rex.
ImeaniT before IINSIST and flag before CALL. SQUAT something intentionally left blank for a long stretch also. Not as edgy as the typical BEQ offering. Well, I MEAN it didn’t seem that way to me.
@Nancy, I don’t edit or read too many books, but I wouldn’t call those who do, stupid. I don’t play tennis or live in New York or go on long walks. I don’t consider people who do those things, stupid. I do however drive a, according to you, stupid car. That stupid car gets me everywhere I want to go. I’m willing to wager that a great many people drive stupid cars to play tennis, go to their jobs as a book editors etc. etc. God bless stupid cars.

Z 10:32 AM  

“Pay rent” really screwed the pooch for me in the NW. That “Data” “confirmed” it certainly did not help. When I got back to the NW after finishing most of the rest of the puzzle it was a square by square wrestling match to undo my initial ERRor. Balking at II at 1A didn’t help either. And now, maybe because “pay rent” fits my reading of the clue so well, I still can’t see how the answer fits the actual clue. LEASE from works for me, but LEASE TO entails receiving a flat fee not giving a flat fee. Aaargh. I’m sure someone will clarify for me.

@LOLita - Hand up for knowing LULZ but not LOLZ.

Interesting choice of info for cluing Ayaan Hirsi ALI. “Advocate for religious freedom” is a very newspeak way to describe someone who frequently stops just short of demanding genocide of Muslims. And by “just short” I MEAN advocating for it but smart enough not to say it in plain English.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

Good gravy. Starting so early to be the idiots du jour. @Two Ponies, hey, I learned another thing today. I had to look up SJW. Cool!
I really haven't met a BEQ I didn't enjoy in one way or the other. Well, I MEAN, he does have to mellow for the staid NYT. Too bad! I like the slang words he tosses out at his site since I learn something new and can be all hip with the younger crowd. LOLZ was also new for me. LMOL finding out that the Z at the end is just a PLURAL for the S. Why?
INSISTing on wanting ITS TRUE for 1A gave me my morning angst. Moved right along and gained beaucoup confidence. It took a while but it was worth it. As a matter of fact I was sad when it was over. Like watching a wonderful movie and not wanting it to end. Speaking of, it is rare that I like a movie as much as the book. The Bicycle Thief fits the category. I love black and white movies that make me cry. Somehow I feel I can hide it better. Another mind boggling WWII movie where Social Justice Warriors were needed was De Sica's "Shoeshine."
Anyway, I managed all of the puzzle (is it a pangram?) except the upstairs. I had the MINE before the EMPHASIS, got the P from NEAP, erased the TWIN and put the ITEM in where it belonged and before I knew it, I was done.
Hey, there's @Loren's PLURAL....!!!
Over TOO soon? Yep.

mathgent 10:38 AM  

When I saw it was by BEQ, I expected something difficult and instructive and enjoyable. I wasn't disapointed. Twenty-one red plus signs in the margins, much more than the average Friday.

I had no gimmes when I scanned all the clues to begin so I took a flyer on NATIONALGALLERY. I thought that I had lucked out when the GALLERY part worked.

EMPHASISMINE is my favorite entry.

pabloinnh 10:42 AM  

If getting the wonderful Pablo Neruda, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature into the puzzle comes at the price of ELDON, so be it.

Nancy 10:43 AM  

Hi, Moly Shu -- I think that most people here who've been reading me for a while know I'm making fun of myself and my complete car ignorance when I say "And of course I didn't know the symbol on that stupid car." Because of course I didn't. I can't even recognize the car, much less the symbol on the car! (I don't drive, and the driving public should be very relieved that I don't. I tried it, going through three Learner's Permits before I gave up. I was absolutely hopeless -- very timid, and with [according to my mother] "no peripheral vision.") Anyway, when someone is picking me up in a car and I ask them what the car looks like and they say something like "it's a 2004 Honda Civic," I say: "No don't tell me that! It doesn't mean anything to me. Just tell me: 'It's a small red car.' 'It's a white car that looks like a small station wagon'. 'It's a blue car that looks like a large station wagon, because it is a large station wagon.'" That's what I need to know. I would make the worst possible witness in a car-identifying-related trial. Anyway, Moly, I certainly didn't mean to insult you or anyone else who owns, drives, and loves cars. In fact, some of my best friends own, drive and love cars.

Airymom 10:44 AM  

Social justice warrior—according to the “urban dictionary “ it has a negative slant.

Missy 10:45 AM  

Which is religious freedom

Anoa Bob 10:47 AM  

First time I can remember seeing a puzz begin at 1 Across with double Is/I's (I INSIST).

Little known fact #1: APOLLO used a ZAPPER to finish of the Cyclops.

Little known fact #2: Pablo NERUDA had a promising career playing the TROMBONE (his smooth, laid-back ska style earned him the nickname "LAZY BONES") before he gave it up to become a poet.

If you're a basketball fan, especially a Dallas Mavericks fan, here's a four minute video of Dirk Nowitzki talking about how he made the challenging transition from European league to NBA play. One of the exercises he used to that end, which can be seen at around 2:50, was the SQUAT JUMP.

Would not "Take a flat fee?" be better than "Give a flat fee?" for 17A LEASE TO? [EMPHASIS MINE]

Diana, LIW 10:50 AM  

Want to know what it's like to write poetry based on the NYT puzzle? How about doing it every single day (at least once a day) for 3 years?

Ask @Burma Shave - Our SyndieLand Bard. Wish him well on his anniversary. Just jump in your deLorean, go back 5 weeks (to Jan 4 - you don't even need a calendar!) and celebrate with the Synders.

Whoo hoo!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Every day I thank God for stupid cars.

G. G. Marquez 10:56 AM  

Neruda was one helluva writer.

And Nancy is one helluva woman.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

Hey Z Ayaan Hirsi Ali suffered genital mutilation when she was five years old. Maybe you’re in favor of that I don’t know, She, however, risks her life traveling the world speaking against this barbaric practice while you sit in your safe little house making smug comments on your computer. She has spent her life under a fatwa. You are clueless.

Byronic Ideal 11:01 AM  

“To Helen” is one of Poe’s best-known poems, according to various Googled sites. It’s still being published. It’s filled with luscious crosswordese.

Moly Shu 11:05 AM  

@Nancy, I’m not offended. What I’m saying is that when you say “stupid car” it makes you seem uh dim? no not dim, uneducated?!no not exactly uneducated, ignorant? no not quite, slow-witted? no not that either. Damn, what’s the word I’m looking for?
At least that’s how it comes across to me.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Its the "NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY" - look it up!

LEASETO doesn't parse either way. LEASE would.

Joseph Michael 11:13 AM  

This puzzle was just what the doctor ordered after last night's snowstorm in Chicago. My class and my appointments for the day have all been canceled, so I had plenty of time to savor BEQ's wordplay and tricky misdirection.

Really wanted POTHEAD for that high-minded sort and wasn't sure if Carnival Cruise would be stopping at an ISLE or a PORT. Liked SASHAY, ZAPPER, FOODIE, and LAZY BONES among many other entries.

I'm not a grammar stickler and I accept that language is constantly evolving, but I still have trouble referring to an individal person as THEY or THEM (unless perhaps he or she is suffering from a multiple personality disorder).

Thanks, BEQ, I ESTEEMS your puzzle.

Nancy 11:19 AM  

I can help you out, @Moly. The word you're looking for is "facetious".

Tom 11:21 AM  

WHOSE anonymous, you twit.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

I didn’t take the Ali comment as directed at her at all, but as tweaking BEQ.

Carola 11:21 AM  

Semi-tough and very fun. With only a sprinkling of answers up top, I was able to use LOLITA and BOO to get LAZYBONES and then work my way back up from ESTEEMS to the top. Agree with all about the many grid pleasures. Thought the high-minded sort might have had issues with a receding hairline.

@Teedmn from yesterday - Thank you for the tip about Amnicon Falls State Park. It sounds like a gem, and just the kind of place we love to visit. And the covered bridge is a bonus; my husband will drive miles out of the way to see one.

TubaDon 11:22 AM  

Some nice misleading clues, but one glaring geometrical error: A circle is a 2-dimensional figure. A squashed circle is an oval with an ovate shape. An ovOID is a 3-d egg-shaped solid.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

CABS doesn’t need an abbreviation indication? Is that because it doesn’t have a period, or is it standard?

Hartley70 11:28 AM  

This is a terrific Friday puzzle that knocked the stuffing out of me when I arrived finally at the tiny NE corner. I went with Ararat, sure it wasn't near Haifa, because it's the only biblical mount in my repertoire. CARMEL is a small town in Putnam County, NY, as far as I knew until today. I went with OVate instead of OVOID. ROOT FOR was clever but didn't occur to me. Even the check function didn't sort me out. A big fat dnf day.

Joseph Michael 11:41 AM  

@JoeDipinto, just saw your reply to my 11:50am post yesterday. In case you did try to unscramble those actor names, I just posted the answers below your reply.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

@Anon 10:54 - har!
@Nancy - I must be stupid, but I immediately recognized that your use of the word stupid was only expressing jocular frustration with your own "ignorance."

Aketi 11:44 AM  

@LMS thanks to you my tax procrastination tactic of the day has consisted of spending way too much time looking at clips of SQUAT JUMP fails and scared cats jumping. But I prefer the clips that depict jumping for joy like the opening sequence of Ballers where the music is bouncy and a guy is jumping up and down down the field. Of the happy animal jumping clips, the dancing skifakas are my fave. I saw them in person at the Berenty Reserve in 1998 on a work/honeymoon trip and they were amazing to watch in person and very hard to capture on film. I guess I’m jealous since I trashed my ACL, but I can still to somersaults and cartwheels.


@Joe, I was introduced to NARUto because my son adored the books when he was little. I think we had the entire series of 40+ books. I personally think they are complex and nuanced enough to withstand the test of time.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:46 AM  

One of the rare times when I get to do the Times Xwd on its published date.

The last time I remember the question of using "they" as singular, there was a major discussion on this site. It appears, as Rex says, to have been settled in favor of that usage.

I have adopted the singular "they" myself, at least in speech. In writing, I will try to re-arrange the sentence to make it unnecessary, just to avoid offending those who would think it wrong.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

"Surge in alt-right violence: At least 43 murders in the last four years."

jberg 12:05 PM  

Tough and enjoyable -- PAY RENT confirmed by WANTS TO BE really held me up. PLURAL was clearly right, so the Wants to be had to be wrong, but I had to work all the way back around before I finally got it. The most fun was when I put in JAZZ, writing very lightly as I was sure I'd have to cross it out -- neither the J nor either Z looked like it would work with anything.

@Don's friend Roger -- You're being facetious, right, about learning ELDON in grade school? Or did you go to grade school in Iowa? We certainly didn't learn it in Wisconsin! I wouldn't have known Naruta either, however, so it was all the same.

I didn't mind leaving out "National" from the PORTRAIT GALLERY, but the clue is still off, as it's not a building -- it shares a building with the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. I try to get there whenever I'm in town so I can look at Thomas Moran's "Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone."

Fun fact: The National Gallery of Art is not part of the Smithsonian, apparently because Mellon was mad that he was being charged with tax evasion at the time.

I thought an SJW was a straight Jewish woman. How are us septuagenarians supposed to keep up?

GHarris 12:05 PM  

DNF and blame inaccurate clueing in the NW. Emphasis mine has always meant (to me) I have chosen to stress something the original author did not. Give a flat fee means pay rent to the lessor not to lease to the tenant. Eldon was a complete unknown. As a poet I am ashamed not to have gotten Neruda, who’s work I much admire.Felt good about working out the rest of the puzzle.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

"Snowstorm In Chicago Delays Hundreds Of Morning Murders."

jberg 12:10 PM  

@Nancy from yesterday -- thanks for the "Honeycomb" link. I remember that song well.

RooMonster 12:22 PM  

Hey All !
In the spirit of Rex's mid-west reconfiguration, I have an alternate NE. . .
8A-FORBADE, 8D-FARMED, 10D-RION (a Japanese co.), 11D-BASEBALL, 12D-ATT, 13D-DOE, 23A-BABS, 30A-GAUD. All in the name of getting 18A to be ROOSTER! Ha! Ego much? :-P

That bit of silliness aside, it was a good, scrabbly FriPuz. Just a W and X from the pangram. A couple of hold-up spots. port-ISLE, worf-data-TROI, LAstCALL-LATECALL, akrON-ELDON, SAmE-SANE, and my favorite, dRuMBONg-TROMBONE.

Finished up in NW corner, so the II wasn't a hold-up, as that was the last few letters to fall. Not up on POE, et.al., so sad to say had to run alphabet for the TO. GOHELEN? HOHELEN(:-p), NOHELEN? SOHELEN? Har.

Surprised no one noticed PROPOSAL over ON A DATE. One leads to another?


Anonymous 12:23 PM  

@jberg re SJW: They are not mutually exclusive. Many are both, especially on the Upper West Side.

Anthony 12:39 PM  

I was glad to have JODIE as a gimmee. Better than the usual incorrect DRWHO for this fan.

Blue Stater 12:49 PM  

I'm glad to see I'm not alone on LEASETO. That's just an error, as far as I can see. Notwithstanding all the craziness in the NW (I agree with the critique of EMPHASISMINE as well), I managed to finish this; usually Friday is a hard slog through the mistakes and the trickery.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Suppose the clue said "Quote a flat fee." That's how I parsed it to make sense of LEASE TO. In the course of leasing an apartment to someone, you are most likely going to tell them how much the rent is. You're going to give/quote that information.

Trombone Tom 1:19 PM  

What a wonderfully crafted treat from BEQ. Of course TROMBONE was a gimme for yours truly.

I, too, had a hesitation about LEASE TO; seems backward to me.

@jberg, you and I had the same reaction on SJW. Maybe the age (78) is key.

Most of the puzzle flowed smoothly, until I popped in bethEL for CARMEL. I know, doh! It took me a while to sort that out. Also I don't identify ATF as gangbusters.

All-in-all a pleasant, not too difficult Friday.

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:22 PM  

I'm gonna be honest. I INSIST crossing I MEAN pissed me off so much that I was biased towards the rest. Can someone enlighten me? Is that generally OK? Is it OK only on certain days of the week? What's the rule?

I guess even before that I had my bias because I generally don't like those 7-letter triple stacks at the corners puzzles. This one had some legit long answers so it was OK (EMPHASISMINE is great, and so is PORTRAITGALLERY) but those stacks didn't do anything for me, and what's worse, they led to 6-letter stacks which are even more annoying (APIECE-BETRUE-SLAYED is such an exemplary combination of MEH)

I mean overall the puzzle was a good challenge, but when the reward is not so good, the challenge becomes a burden.

GRADE: B, 3.45 stars.

Teedmn 1:29 PM  

I did not SASHAY through this one; I found this tough in typical BEQ style. Starting with 1A, where I was waiting to put in "I mean iT" (ha, I MEAN ended up crossing it), actually put in Ararat at 8D, LOfl at 32D, "so-so" at 54D, and being sure that "The Bicycle Thief" was set in Iran, I managed to splatter black ink from one end to the other. I was afraid 18A's clue of "Back in the stadium" was going to be something football related and assumed 20D would be a yoga position. At 37D, with _____ONE, I plopped in ___phONE, thinking the ska intrument would be an exotic xylophone variant.

Have you seen those personal sized bug ZAPPERs? They're about the size of a ping-pong paddle and they deliver a ZAP to anything flying in the vicinity of where you are waving it. I can only imagine the mayhem if kids get hold of one - someone would be going APE.

And for 32A, the first miniature flag I thought of was the kind you clip on your car window. Last weekend I came up behind someone with one on each side of THEIR [non PLURAL, EMPHASIS MINE] car, along with a bunch of patriotic bumper stickers. I gathered the driver was either a vet or had one in the family, which is cool. But given the way those things were flapping in the wind, I wondered if they were really noisy for the people in the car.

I'm not crazy about the clue for AVIATOR (High-minded sort?) or for OP-ART (Good genre for a maze maker)but over all this was clever and challenging enough for a Friday. Thanks, Brendan.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Certain atoms BOND to make molecules...

Oboe Ollie 2:20 PM  

What a puzzle!

Saxophone Sam 2:21 PM  

Yes, what a puzzle!

Trumpet Terence 2:22 PM  

I agree! Waygood puzzle!

Flautist Flournoy 2:23 PM  

I didn't care for it that much!

Piccolo Pete 2:23 PM  

Same here! not my cup of tea!

JC66 2:25 PM  

I miss the nit-pickers who would normally complain about TROMBONE & LAZYBONES being in the same puzzle?


I applaud your gracious acceptance of @Nancy's explanation of "stupid car."

# Facetious

Phil 2:28 PM  

The stair/gallery quipgave me a chuckle.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

Can't believe Rex didn't lose his mind over Lolita. Hasn't he gone on at length about "not normalizing pedophilia"

And I'm kind of bummed none of the usual has chimed in on the crappy description of those who use standard English as sticklers. I would never describe myself as such. I must have misunderstand as I learned the language. Me guess anything goes.


Girish 2:40 PM  

Thanks to Rex for his enjoyable encouragement. Ten years ago, I was surprised if I finished a Friday puzzle; now, I’m surprised if I don’t. An educator with a sense of humor and a connection to the younger set is to valued, not disparaged. Complaints about the value
of comic books one hasn’t read and reviewed strikes me as similar to complaints about white chickens and red wheel barrows or the length of the Beatles’ hair.
Thanks also to Mr. Quigley for a great puzzle.

Girish 2:41 PM  


Dick Swart 3:02 PM  

'Squat jump' was a reach for me and and the real slowdown today. In the olden days in the Army's daily dozen, it was ''squat thrust.' At Ease!

Black Sun 3:08 PM  

@ Shelby Glidden, Yes, not all educators have a sense of humor. Some liberal profs penalize their conservative students for their views. Journalist Jesse Farrar even suggests that profs should "hold conservative students' heads under water until they stop breathing."
At least that's what he said on Twitter.

Molasses 3:16 PM  

Extra-tough puzzle for me. I can usually get enough short answers to help me get the long ones, but not this time. Over 3 hours to finish, and I had to resort to Google to find Eldon and, sorry to admit, Mt Carmel and Apollo (I thought it was Odysseus). Also Ana. As for the regular, non-proper-name words, for some reason I couldn't make the mental jump from the clue to the answer until I had half the crosses filled in. Le Monde was the first word I filled in with confidence, followed by apiece on the downs. And then Rex calls it easy-medium. Ouch!

chefwen 3:40 PM  

@quasi, knowing it was a BEQ puzzle I actually started writing “stoner” until I figured I was going to have a leftover square.

Aketi 3:45 PM  

@ Dick Swart, as far as I know a SQUAT thrust is when you SQUAT, plant you hands on the floor and thrust your legs out backward into push up position and d) jump your legs back into the SQUAT and stand up. I understand a SQUAT JUMP to be when you SQUAT and spring straight up tucking your knees with your arms straight in the air. Then a Burpie is a horrible torturous combination of the two. Doing a squat jump, dropping down into a SQUAT thrust - or- although in Martial Arts classes into a sprawl.

@Nancy & @Quasi, looking forward to your 1969 party invitation hopefully when the weather turns nicer.

Chronic dnfer 5:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom R 5:29 PM  

This was the easiest Friday I can ever recall. I'm not as fast as a lot of people, and a 20 min Friday is just insane. Only hangup was LOLZ. Never seen that before. Had ROFL for a while. Only "jazz" eventually saved me.

Chronic dnfer 5:29 PM  

Oviate was a bummer.

unpronounceable symbol 6:49 PM  

I guess we’re going to have to wait until tomorrow for Z’s next asinine comments.

unpronounceable symbol 7:18 PM  

Saw Rex Parker’s website. He was looking side-eyed at Ayaan Hirsi Ali being described as a defender of Women’s Rights. Ayaan Hirsi Ali risks her life condemning female genital mutilation. If she’s not a defender of Women’s Rights, who is ?

Mary 8:38 PM  

She is a hero.

Dan M 9:27 PM  

This one was top notch. So much fun fill, and as Rex said, EMPHASIS MINE is a true gem.

Kimberly 9:49 PM  

Until English becomes gender-neutral, “they” is going to have to stand in for the alternative to he/she. Grammar nazis should actually appreciate it as a clean alternative.

This was a weirdly easy Friday for me.

Noah Webster 10:55 PM  

hey Kim- the generic “he” has done fine for centuries thank you very much You

LOL 11:03 PM  

Hey Noah- be careful you don’t make too many typos these crossword nerds are a tough bunch

brandsinger 12:15 AM  

The description of Ayan Hirsi Ali is spot on. Well done BEQ. I've read her books and met her once -- a very brave woman -- outspoken and threatened by Muslim fanatics -- and not receiving the support from Western feminists she deserves.

As for the puzzle -- fun but difficult. Ali was the first fill I got!

meg 8:14 AM  

I’ve lived in dc my entire life. No one calls it “The National Portrait Gallery.” No one calls the Air & Space Museum the “Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.” In fact, if you go to the list of institutions on the Smithsonian’s own website, it is listed simply as “Portrait Gallery.”

John Hoffman 11:58 AM  

I thought that this was the hardest puzzle of the year. It was a huge challenge for me.

David 7:26 PM  

"LOLZ" is definitively wrong. One may do something for LULZ, and one may LOL, but there are no LOLZ. (I'm in Silicon Valley, if that helps my credibility on Internet speak.)

Also, the cross of NERUDA and ELDON is absolutely a Natick for me. I guess I needed a better geographical and literary education.

RooMonster 11:31 AM  



Anonymous 1:28 PM  

I'm surprised no one complained about the clue for 29D. Pablo Neruda did not write "Tonight I can write the saddest lines." He wrote in Spanish. His translator W.S. Merwin wrote that line.

spacecraft 11:09 AM  

Never heard of a SQUATJUMP. I have squatted; I have jumped--but never in the same exercise. Reminds me of leapfrog, like the soup bowls in "The Birdcage:"

"Oh, look! Boys playing leapfrog!"
"Aren't there any girls?"
"I have girls in mine."
"It's been a long time since I played leapfrog, but I can tell you: those are not girls."

But I digress. A few groaners--a surprise appearance in a BEQ--such as SCENEII and REALLY obscure clues for ANA and ALI, but I got through the maze with the help of OPART and finished. Fine scrabble-f***ing, though LOLZ was unknown. Fortunately inferable.

I had a DOD or two in mind, but they (PLURAL) went out the window when I came across OFL's posted video of Stevie Nicks. All competition stops with her. Birdie--just like a white-winged dove.

Diana, LIW 11:31 AM  

My first reaction was to say "impossible." But what do I know - I obviously can't even read a calendar properly (see my comment in the "future" section. Sorry, BS.

Must go read over finished puzzle and see where I went wrong.

But...impossible, not easy.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for your comments

Burma Shave 12:02 PM  


when we TOO are ONADATE,
IMEAN it SETSAGOAL in a way,
but such GAUL’s a PORTRAIT.


rondo 2:28 PM  

Having OVate before OVOID slowed it a bit from there over into the NW, but not that much. And I started with LOLs before all that JAZZ showed up. Otherwise clean.

I worked about 17 years with a guy whose close relatives owned that house in ELDON. They also ran an antique shop near here with “Gothic” in the name.

Dr. Who? Yeah baby Jodie Whittaker, that’s Who.

About the right resistance for today. “BETRUE to your school . . .”

rainforest 4:09 PM  

This was medium-challenging for me. The NW and SW were the easiest, with a few gimmes in there.

I started with ANA, SASHAY, SETS A GOAL and TROI, and was able to get the rest of the NW from that. In the SW, LST, ECO, MEH and ONEL got that part done. I slowed right down after that with a couple savvy guesses and some crosses which came slowly.

I didn't like the clue for ATOM, but had to accept it once I got MERINOS which I knew because I've read the book.
Unlike @Spacey, I did SQUAT JUMPS in Grade 9 and 10. I'd hate to try one now.

I had to intuit the JAZZ/LOLZ and the ELDON/NERUDA crosses, and that was that.

leftcoastTAM 7:05 PM  

SASHAY caught my eye and made the puzzle a bit more interesting than it might otherwise have been. (On the other hand, I may just be a dirty old man, but I would vehemently deny it.)

Unknown 10:09 AM  

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