Restaurant cook on TV's Two Broke Girls / FRI 3-16-18 / Fictional queen of Arendelle / Hepatologist's study / Product introduced in 1984 with ad titled 1984

Friday, March 16, 2018

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy (with a detour into Medium territory because I made one stupid mistake that it took me far too long to undo)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BEALE Street (42D: Memphis blues street) —
Beale Street is a street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, which runs from the Mississippi River to East Street, a distance of approximately 1.8 miles (2.9 km). It is a significant location in the city's history, as well as in the history of the blues. Today, the blues clubs and restaurants that line Beale Street are major touristattractions in Memphis. Festivals and outdoor concerts periodically bring large crowds to the street and its surrounding areas. (wikipedia)
• • •

HEMOPHILIA *and* ULCER *and* HEROIN ... Kind of a downer of a day at Crossword General Hospital. Beyond that, I thought the grid was pretty delightful. Pretty clean, with some interesting, lively answers. There's very, very little in the way of obscurity here, and the whole thing played very easy *except* for the part where I tried to come out of the west into the center / bottom of the grid. I should've just kept going right across the top, swept down the east coast, and then backed into the center and SW corner. In retrospect, that would've been pretty easy. But instead I tried to come through the VEGETARIAN / WINEMAKER nexus and got bogged right down. Why? Well, you kind of need VEGETARIAN and WINEMAKER to catapult or slingshot or other action verb you into the new sections of the grid if you're coming out of the W/NW.

And things looked good. Had VEGE- and WINE-, nice head starts on the front ends of both those answers. So what do I do? Well, first, and worst, I drop VEGETABLES into the grid. This doesn't *quite* feel right, but it fits. And then with WINE-, I ... just don't know. Since the clue is looking for an "authority," I am not not not thinking a wine producer. I'm thinking a wine aficionado, a wine enthusiast, a wine ... lover!? It fits. And that, my friends, is how you drop the ball. Hit the easy overhead smash into the net. Fumble on the five yard line. Again, choose your metaphor. I eventually figured it out (MIKES to -MAKER to MESONS, huzzah!), but given how fast I did the rest of the puzzle, that VEGETABLES fiasco took me from what would've been something like a record time to something like average.

Some of the cluing I could've done without. I have "F.U." written next to 14A: Partner of 5-Across (FREE) (it is not the "partner" of EASY as EASY is defined in its clue, 5A: "Calm down, ace"; so boo) and again at 4D: Where you might hear someone say "Duck!" (POND!? That scenario is preposterous. What are you, hanging out with sheltered 3-year-olds?). Clues on BIDEN (34A: 2017 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom) and CHARON (44A: Largest moon of Pluto) were just [shrugs]—you gotta be able to do better than boring trivia clues like that. CHARON is the damned ferryman! Do some punning or wordplay or Something. My worst moment of the day (after The VEGETABLES Fiasco) was having -ARDEN at 40D: Make a bed? and having absolutely no idea what word that could be. I still can't see anything but HARDEN, even with GARDEN clearly written in there).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


okanaganer 12:05 AM  

34D DARING, surely.
Dunno who DIDEN was.
36A WINE MAVEN. surely.
Other than that very easy.
"Kind of a downer of a day at Crossword General Hospital" ha!

Bryce 12:07 AM  

So I've got _I_GA__H__ and confidently throw down SIRGALAHAD! Port authority must be SOMMELIER! I am *crushing* this one in record time!

Nope. Really great puzzle though.

okanaganer 12:07 AM  

PS and how come Pluto has more than one moon and we don't? They're not even a planet. It's not fair.

jae 12:11 AM  

Mostly easy for me too except for @Rex putting in VEGETAbles before @Rex it took me a while to undo that one. Also, ante before CHIP. The rest was cake.

I've had a drink or two on BEALE St., seen the Peabody ducks, but never got around to the Elvis tour...not really much of a fan.

Solid Fri., liked it.

John Child 12:14 AM  

I felt ever so clever to put oeNophile down for {Port authority}, then had to work most of the rest of the puzzle to convince myself it was wrong. Lovely vocabulary throughout the puzzle though despite that disappointment. I just wish it had lasted longer...

grammarnazi 12:40 AM  

Sorry, okanaganer. Luna is a triumph.

Unknown 1:19 AM  

Wow, a Friday in under 20 minutes - I'm peaking just in time to still come in last at the ACPT next weekend. That's okay, I'm only going so I can rub elbows with celebrities.

thejohnisjohn 1:20 AM  

Firstly, am i the only one that thinks the combination of 38D & 38A is a Harry Potter reference.

Besides that, I only got 27 Across (floorsit) from the crosses. What is that? Is it one word or two? Am i being dense? i do not get that answer...

Beep Bop Beep 1:21 AM  

Are there menus with "Vegetables" as a heading?

A sheltered 3 year-old? Are there 3 year-olds that aren't sheltered?

Ellen S 1:33 AM  

@thejohnisjohn — FLOORS IT, two words. Maximize one’s acceleration. Don’t, worry, you’ll still DOOK on other puzzles.

mathgent 1:40 AM  

A crossword with only six Terrible Threes is guaranteed to please me. But this one had more going for it than that. Very enjoyable fill, well clued. Excellent!

JOHN X 1:51 AM  

I also killed this puzzle until I got to the SW. When VEGETAbles wouldn't work, I somehow justified VEGETAtion as a heading on a menu. Well I finally figured out VEGETARIAN (duh) and there you go. 1/3 of my total time was spent goofing around in the SW. I also discovered that YOUTUBE and SOUNDBITES share some letters.

THERETHERE always reminds me of the novel "Catch 22"

Carola 2:01 AM  

A pleasure to solve. Me, too, for "easy, except for..., in my case, HEMOPHeLIA, which thus crossed LeVER, which looked perfectly reasonable. Only after getting a "Sorry, incorrect" message and searching a good while for my mistake(s) did I realize I'd never read the clue. So, LIVER, at cross-purposes with VEGETARIAN.

I loved CHARON over LIVING DEAD, although I guess he's ferrying the really DEAD.
Given the Monty Python clue, I wondered if Eric IDLE had played KING ARTHUR (no).

@thejohnisjohn - Awesome that you spotted TIME TUNER! - one of my very favorite episodes.

Larry Gilstrap 2:11 AM  

MOAN as clued might suggest a cigarette, if I still smoked. That word is more charged than MESONS, if whatever those happen to be are charged. Of course port is wine, but somehow I see them in different menu headings. And another thing! Didn't we agree awhile back that it was going to be MICS from now on? Do MIKE Pence or MIKE Pompeo have press conferences?

My pot component at 1A was ante for way too long.

I hate when folks nit pick at OFL's review, but here goes: FREE & EASY is a common phrase clued as partner words in the puzzle. We see this all the time and I like it. Our little town is hosting a birding festival and our group ended at a POND and folks exclaimed words like teal, widgeon, and coot, or even Mallard, but Duck!? Maybe he is right.

I've told this here before, but once at intermission at a Penn and Teller show on Broadway, in a crowded lobby I found myself standing face to face with Stephen SONDHEIM and he seemed very approachable. What do I say? How about: You wrote "Somewhere" with Leonard Bernstein? That's a pretty good song. Still kicking myself.

Harryp 2:12 AM  

I hope tomorrow brings a more challenging NYT puzzle, because this whole week was super easy. The only slight holdup was @carola's HEMOPHeLIA, which was easily fixed. Should have thought of Anglophile or even Norwegophilia, which is an inordinate attraction to Norwegians. It is a thing, evidently.

Clark 2:18 AM  

The Harry Potter reference would have had to be TIME TUrNER. I was thinking that CHIP didn't feel right as a component of a POT. Many pots are not chipped. DOH!

Anonymous 2:46 AM  

Is anyone else bothered by Billy the Kid? Billy the Kid was not an alias - he was a person. The name "Billy the Kid" is an alias. Shouldn't the clue read "Billy the Kid" for one

Horace S. Patoot 3:18 AM  

Anyone else reminded of

" NATTERING nabobs of negativism"
And "EFFETE intellectual snobs"?

no one 3:29 AM  

I miss the frequent George Barany puzzle commentary!! I enjoyed reading his incites, and comments on Rex,s write up. Hope he soon returns

Loren Muse Smith 3:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 3:36 AM  

@jae – most excellent Memphis connection catch with BEALE and that POND’s duck. And I could certainly imagine a little kid shouting duck at a pond. Then I sat there imagining other scenarios where someone could shout “duck.” Kept coming back to the incident that led to my host family deciding to just give me waribashi ( short wooden disposable chopsticks) and not the 18-inch long beautiful lacquered ones. Yeah – the projectile was a big piece of pumpkin. Almost hit Kimi-san in the chest. I didn’t realize until then that waribashi are pretty much the fat kindergarten pencils of the chopsticks world.

Loved the clue for CLASS CLOWN. I tell ya, my 6th period has one, and he has several devoted, eager understudies. EFFETE doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel…

@John Child- great mistake with your “oenophile.” I did appreciate WINE EXPERT right over NATTERED. Amirite?

Bordeaux schmordeaux. I have to admit that I’ve been enjoying Cahors Malbec recently. The palate is smooth and unassuming with notes of CHEVRE. And the finish explodes into a cascade of POND water defiant, nay haughty, with its notes of CLAM and LIVER, coating, caressing the tongue…

@Carola – I noticed that pair, too! So were the guys that CHARON schlepped across the river just dead dead, or did they talk and stuff? If the latter, then LIVING DEAD’s position right under CHARON is terrific.

Liked REAR sharing the grid with GIRDLE. Well ye-ahh.

@Tita, @Randall Clark – see y’all in a week. Randall – I’m right there with you on the celebrity-spotting deal.

@Larry – I made a snarky outie comment yesterday and then asked you to email me. Either you missed it, or you’re done with me because of said snark.

Well, Ms. Robyn – another Another beautiful themeless. I loved it. And I’ll see You in a week, too!

Harryp 4:17 AM  

@H.S.P.3:18, The man you cited also said "Tell them you gave at the office".

Lewis 6:05 AM  

Beautiful clean grid with much brightness in the answers. I loved the debut FRESHENS UP and can't believe that this is SONDHEIM's first showing in a NYT puzzle! I came into this puzzle groggy, and it forced me to quickly shift into full-bore solving mode, and once I got there, BAM BAM BAM, things fell left and right. So, quick for me for Friday, but what a rush while it lasted, with the spark in the clues (HILLY, POND, GARDEN, i.e.) and aforementioned vibrant answers. Came into the puzzle groggy, and now dashing into the day.

My father was a steak man through and through. Once, when I was arguing the case for a VEGETARIAN diet, telling him that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters, he screwed up his face, imagining a life without meat, and said, "Maybe it just SEEMS longer."

Gareth Bain 6:30 AM  

Never seen the music video for "Don't Pay the Ferryman" before... One of the little bonuses of Rex's blog; musical curiosities...

Charles Flaster 6:52 AM  

Easy and enjoyable with one little, tiny, minuscule DNF. Did not know CHARON as clued so I created a new menu heading
It plays well!
@LMS—Loved clue for CLASS CLOWN.
Thanks RW

Theresa williams 6:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matthew G. 7:00 AM  

Personal Friday record for me -- finished with a Wednesday-like time. I made the WINE LOVER sted WINE MAKER mistake, too, and I agree with Rex that the clue {Port authority?} connotes one who appreciates wine rather than one who creates it. But that was the only slowdown and quickly corrected itself.

Z 7:20 AM  

Solving in the paper I sequence clue reading differently. Online If I get an answer like LENO I check the downs and keep going with the downs even if a cross doesn’t occur to me immediately. In the paper if I don’t get any crosses from LENO I just keep reading across clues. As a result early on all I had was LENO, MACINTOSH, HENSON, and KING ARTHUR. 100% PPP and my brow is starting to furrow. SOUND BITES came next and I was off to the races. Coming to the SW out of the SE I avoided the VEGEtables “trap” that seems so popular, but found - - - - - ARIAN to be a bit of a poser for awhile, especially since I confidently put snake where LIVER belonged. D’Oh.

Just two writeovers, HUgh -> HUME and the aforementioned snake -> LIVER.

Speaking of PPP, it’s not high (just 20 of 72), but it is concentrated in a couple of spots. MACINTOSH/BIDEN/HUME with HENSON/KING ARTHUR crossing in particular could be problematic.

@Larry Gilstrap - I think Rex’s point was that “Calm down, ace” isn’t a clue for FREE. I thought that was the intent for three nano-seconds, too, then realized that, no, we were supposed to take whatever the answer was at 5A and use it in an “and” phrase to get 14A. No transitive property of cluing used.

@anon2:46 - It took me a second to parse your meaning. I think in formal writing and Monday cluing you are correct, the quote marks are needed to differentiate between talking about the person himself and the ALIAS as a thing. Late week, though, one must be prepared for a little trickery in cluing. And I can even think of formal usages where there’d be no quote marks. Imagine an article about gun slinger ALIASes. In such an article the quotation marks would be unneeded so omitted.

@no one - I’m sure it was a damn auto-correct thing, but your “incites” where the usual word would be “insights” made me chuckle. That as pleasant a poster as @George Barany incited trollery was always a source of amazement. I get why my stridency might tick people off, but George? Anyway, I agree with you.

@Gareth Bain - Long time no see. Any puzzles in the pipeline?

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

VEGETAbles first, but soon corrected. My usually latent inner @Rex would’ve thought the media/political coinage SOUNDBITES could have stood FRESHENing UP. It feels kinda 80's to me. Sorta SONDHEIM-era.

I wonder if @LMS' colleagues know she contributes here? I would have enjoyed a Gertrude Stein clue for THERE THERE.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

2nd week in a row Wednesday was harder than Thursday or Friday, though I had a careless DNF at HEMOPHeLIA/LeVER (hi, @carola).

But … what great fill. Run this as a themeless Tuesday and it’s perfect. On a Friday, the clue difficulty needed to be augmented.

ncmathsadist 7:24 AM  

I had oenophile instead of winemaker, which made life difficult.

kodak jenkins 7:26 AM  

was staring into a DNF after 5 minutes but it wound up taking about 1/2 my normal Friday time.

Wow! Just realizing there is hardly any crosswordese in there. The fill is nice and fresh and has only 3 three letter answers.

Enjoyable little puzzle but perhaps needed more teeth to be a true Friday.

George 7:28 AM  

Do the Anaheim Ducks still play at the POND? They did 20 years ago when I lived there. That's what I thought of with that clue, albeit still a bit awkward

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

To build on @Z's point, while EASY (“there, partner” understood) can be synonymous with “calm down, Ace,” its meaning in the phrase “FREE and...” is different. Pace OFL, I think this is no bug but a feature.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

EASY was, well, easy. But i could not get her partner NICE outta my head. Got terribly bogged down by my intransigence. VEGETARIAN was not a problem. Did Queen Victoria ever consult a hepatologist for her hemophilia?

Space Is Deep 7:45 AM  

I also miss George Barany's comments. But the way Rex treated him was unforgivable. Kind of like Michael Vick torturing dogs.

Aketi 7:49 AM  

I’m usually a slow solver on Friday, but today the long downs in the east enabled me to FLOOR IT through that section.

HEMOPHILIA brought back fond memories of Bill Pruitt, the second Peace Corps Director during my term. He had grown up in Zaire as a child of missionary parents. Despite the risks as a HEMOPHILIAc, he was the first Country Director to visit all the volunteers in my region. It was the most remote region in the country and there were only 11 of us there, out of the 200 something volunteers in Zaire. That visit really boosted morale because we were isolated to the point that we learned how to treat ourselves when we had malaria and filariasis since it could take up to two weeks to get to an airport to fly to the capitol to see the Pesce Corps Doctor. Sadly Bill Pruitt passed away because he contacted HIV after a blood transfusion in South Africa. A tribute to him characterized him as “someone who sought to see both sides of an issue without compromising his own position” and “He could be depended on utterly for a good humorous response no matter what he was going through or thinking..” He was among some of the very good Peace Corps Directors appointed by Reagan thar epitomized my personal conception of true compassionate conservatism.

Aketi 7:50 AM  

@Space is Deep, I do too.

Hungry Mother 7:51 AM  

VEGETARIAN seems to mean cheese, cheese, and more cheese. When I fly or take a cruise and try to give my dietary preference, I rarely get “vegan” as a choice. The puzzle was a slog for me today, mainly due to EFFETE. So we have parts of two of Spiro Agnew’s catch-phrases today: “nattering nabobs” and “effete intellectual snobs”.

QuasiMojo 7:56 AM  

I was hoping Rex would post the video for Diercks Bentley singing "Free and Easy" but his Charon-themed one was way cooler.

BEALE Street makes me think of the great James Baldwin.

PORT Authority made me think of GEEK SQUAD. (Keeping up with the Mac theme.)

Not to be grim but I found it odd that we had one-half of the infamous 4H Club today and eerie to see Jim HENSON there too (although those rumors have been pretty much debunked by now.) Not to mention LIVING DEAD in the same G.R.I.D.

BIDEN getting that award is hardly boring trivia, Rex.

@LMS, JEREMIAH might also have been in that POND.

I wish people would go back to wearing GIRDLEs instead of yoga pants. (Those who need the former, I mean.) I am always astonished when I am sitting in the local café to see women (and sometimes men) enter wearing a pair of stretch pants (at least I think it's only one pair) when clearly they would do better to sport an outfit that would be slimming rather than BARING.

My Dad warned me against being the CLASS CLOWN. Alas, it didn't take.

dfan 8:04 AM  

As soon as I finished this puzzle, I turned to my wife and said "Even Rex is going to like this one."

Two Ponies 8:18 AM  

Pleasant but too easy for a Friday.
The sky would be more interesting if we had more than one moon.
Daring made more sense than baring.
I was not amused by the clue for pond.

RavTom 8:25 AM  

Especially because he hates the lyrics he wrote for it!

JimmyQ 8:27 AM  

I got stuck because I put WAKING instead of LIVING for 49 Across (clue was Zombies) and was stubbornly set on that. ugh

Unknown 8:31 AM  

It’s “effete corps of impudent snobs.”

RavTom 8:32 AM  

The cluing for BIDEN was better than @Rex gives it credit for. Since someone who, shall we say, doesn't particularly like Biden was President for almost all of 2017, the answer was a bit surprising.

mmorgan 8:35 AM  

Was stuck forever with VEGETables and CLASScutup until I finally convinced myself to take them out. Amazing what that can do.

Great puzzle!

Z 8:35 AM  

@QuasiMojo - The 80’s were a long time ago, so you might want to explain that “infamous 4-H Club” is a reference to the belief that HIV predominantly affected HEROIN users, HEMOPHILIA sufferers, homosexuals, and Haitians. I haven’t heard that term since Magic Johnson went public in 1991 (has it really been 27 years?).

QuasiMojo 8:55 AM  

I had a feeling you would do the explaining for me, @Z. :)

Yes, it's been 27 years since then, but many more since the first hints of the disease appeared. A lot has changed since then, thanks in no small part to heroes like Ryan White, but the prejudices against all H-groups still remain, notably Haitians, at least from the White House.

Are you one of the mods, Z? I was wondering if you removed your own comment from late yesterday or was it you acting as a moderator? :)

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

A diabolical puzzle! So many easy answers ... that were wrong! Cool.

puzzlehoarder 9:18 AM  

Seeing the constructor's name I expected a completely easy solve and wound up getting punked by a slow start. LENO and CLASSCLOWN went right in and I thought "Here we go. Working off of 1D I then struck out on 6 of the remaining 9 across clues. SPY, NATTERED and WINE something was all I got. At this point I needed MESON to confirm M
AKER as now I'm thinking that's just too easy.

The SW got screwed up by misreading the CLAM clue as "Silent snort." With the crosses I had the other long downs in the NE weren't falling. Going back north a little thinking got me FREE and EASY. After that so was the puzzle.

When I got back to the SW I was still misreading that CLAM clue (How could a snort even be silent?) and put in SLAM because snorts are derisive. Logical right? However there are no moons called SHARON and that was what finally got me to read "sort" correctly to finish.

A very nice looking clean puzzle and for most people completely user friendly.

puzzlehoarder 9:22 AM  

I meant "the other long downs in the NW." It's very easy to mistype those two and easy to miss.

Nancy 9:31 AM  

The entire left half of this puzzle was so EASY that I could have been a LIVING DEAD person sitting in IDLE and I still would have solved it. Yes, there was an attempt to misdirect with the nice CLASS CLOWN clue (1D) and there was the puzzling clue for the study of the LEVER at 3lA (that's a whole field of study unto itself?), but there was nothing west of the Mississippi that KEPT me ENGAGEd. The right half got a little harder, but not hard by Friday standards.

Two small hiccups: WINE MAven before WINE MAKER (36A); and Train before TUNER (38A) -- a mistake I'm sure that I and everyone else was meant to make. Oh, and FADED (27D) looked for all the world as though it would end in an R. But not a Friday-worthy puzzle. This whole week so far has been a real dud IMO.

Stanley Hudson 9:32 AM  

“Beale Boy King” = B.B. King

Nancy 9:37 AM  

Oops! I just read @Carola's post. It's HEMOPHILIA/LIVER! Not LeVER at all! Now that makes much more sense. So this "too-easy" puzzle got me good!

pwoodfin 9:43 AM  

Me too. Where is George, anyway?

pabloinnh 9:48 AM  

Had WINEM...for 36A and like at least one other person, confidently wrote in WINEMAVEN. Oops. Fixed it, and it least it reminded me of my favorite wine maven quote, from James Thurber:

"It's a naive domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption."

I try to use this as often as I can when we host a dinner party.

pwoodfin 9:54 AM  

I asked no one (in particular) above what became of George B. Is that it? OFL chased him away? Why, Rex? Why? Why you do that stuff?

Z 10:00 AM  

@QuaisiMojo - Self-moderation sounds so kinky. I almost didn’t post it. I almost deleted it right away. Then I woke up early this morning, saw I was just beating my head against the wall and couldn’t think of a good reason to leave such language out there. I personally am not offended by any of those terms, but I know lots of people are deeply hurt by them and if my goal of others understanding that could be accomplished by leaving them I would have. Obviously, that’s not the case.
Sorry about the explaining it for you, but you wrote it as if everyone would just know what you meant. I’d forgotten that HEMOPHILIA was one of the four so it took me a second. Then I wondered if it was still current and I just didn’t realize it. Uncle Google didn’t have much to say unless I really narrowed the search terms, so it doesn’t appear to be out there much on the web nor easy to find unless you already know what it means. I am still half expecting someone to point how it’s still very current and I’m just a geezer. I agree with everything else you said.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap (2:11 a.m.) -- The next time you run into SONDHEIM, Larry, you'd be well advised not to compliment him on any ballad from "West Side Story". @RavTom (8:25) is absolutely right: he hates most of those lyrics. And that's because Lenny wrote parts of them himself and SONDHEIM was too young and unknown to protest. Many if not most of the ballad lyrics are sappy and sentimental. If you must compliment him on a "West Side" lyric, choose "Something's Coming" or "Krupke". Better, though to compliment him on a song from a show he wrote alone. "Company", "Night Music" and "Sunday in the Park" have some great ones.

@Quasi (7:56) -- It's SPANDEX that's the cause of all that ugliness, Quasi! SPANDEX -- the third worst invention of my lifetime, right after nuclear weapons and the jackhammer. God, I hate SPANDEX!

'mericans in GAY PAREE 10:10 AM  

Sheesh, with only five hours now between the East Coast and France (we turn our clocks ahead next week), it's hard to get in a comment early!

This puzzle was mostly in my wheelhouse -- filled in KING ARTHUR, SONDHEIM, CHEVRE and LIVING DEAD without any crosses -- but got stuck in the middle. Fortunately, Mrs. 'mericans showed up just in TIME, back from a business trip to Brazil, and confidently filled in MIKES (me: "I thought of that, but those are MIcS, no?"), and the rest fell pretty quickly.

I would rate it medium, not EASY, but certainly admire its clean construction. Got POND without hesitation. I'm easy to please, and love ducks of all sorts. I don't understand the connection to pot, however. Started with THC_ (tetrahydrocannabinol + ?) but eventually gave up on that.

Liked CLASS CLOWN for probably a different reason than others: I'm a big fan of the band "Guided by Voices", and CLASS CLOWN Spots a UFO" is one of my favorite of their albums. Its lead singer, Robert Pollard, ranks among the most prolific song-writers of his generation.

Seeing HILO brought back fond memories. What a FREE & EASY city. From it's very warm beach you can often view Mona Kea (which means "white mountain") with its 14,000-foot summit covered in a pristine layer of snow.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Yeah, not really an alias. More like A.K.A.
But in the grand scheme of things...

wgh 10:14 AM  

My best time for a Friday, woohoo!

Maruchka 10:16 AM  

Haha! A bad outcome to learn from. Are you listening, Mr. Pence?

GILL I. 10:16 AM  

I'm not sure what day of the week this lovely puzzle should have run/ran? Anyway, it was sure EASY for a Friday. A few minor hiccups....Wanted to start my pot off with THCS. Wasn't sure if Robyn wanted the HAEMO vs HEMO for the Queen's PHILIA/PHILE. All taken care of thanks to LENO.
Breezed through it all. Only little not sure was whether one of my most favorite actor's name was Hugh Cronym. Of course not!....HUME it is.
So Big Bird went to Jim HENSON's memorial and JEREMIAH wept a lot and FLOOR SIT is what we do putting the pedal to the metal.
@Ellen S. Good one! Are you and Deb up for some CLAM's and LIVER sometime soon? Oh wait, I forget you're a VEGETARIAN! Speaking of BLT....@Lewis.... Mushatt Jones lived to be 116 and she ate 4 pieces of bacon with eggs and grits every single day. None of that VEGETARIAN GAEN varies food for her. There was also some French lady who lived just as long and she smoked right up until she was no longer LIVING. She was DEAD.
Thank you Robyn Weintrau for a nice puzzle. I even liked the OLEG BIDEN HUME all across and right smack BAM in the middle.

TubaDon 10:26 AM  

CLASSCLOWN (grim H.S. memories!) begat NATTERED and SONDHEIM and the rest were FREE and EASY. CHARON is most often clued as a ferryman, so it was nice to see it as an easily inferred astronomical body for once. I agree the DUCK clue was silly. AcceleratED particles are usually not MESONS, but they are produced as a result of nuclear collisions, so I guess they could be called AcceleratOR particles.

pmdm 10:26 AM  

For, me this was a very, very pleasant puzzle, one of my favorites for a Friday puzzle. This was the fourth in nine puzzles to receive a POW award from Jeff Chen. Well deserved.

Z: I felt the same about the PPP distribution as you did. The northeast corner was especially loaded.

okanaganer: Actually, the Pluto/Charon configuration is more like a dual planet than a planet/moon configuration. In fact, there was a movement to call it a dual planet but that proposal was voted down by the astrological powers that be. Would you consider a dual planet more significant than a planer moon or vice versa? Perhaps we should ask Neil deGrasse Tyson.

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

I want to thank @Teedmn and @Nancy for sending me instructions on how to embed. Now, if there is some genius out there that can tell me how to nicely ask Mac to stop trying to read my mind and type in things that a normal person like me would never type, I'd appreciate it.
{GAEN varies vs what I intended: GARDEN variety}.....Oy.

Bob Mills 10:31 AM  

Is "NATTERED" really a word? I remember Spiro Agnew referring to campus radicals as "nattering nabobs of negativism," a line written for him by William Safire. I haven't heard any variation of "NATTER" since Agnew's speech.

Good puzzle, a little on the easy side for Friday.

Suzie Q 10:46 AM  

Duck! reminded me of car trips as a child when my siblings and I played Spot the Farm Animal as we rode in the back of the station wagon.
The chip in the poker pot took a minute but other than that it was smooth sailing.
What to say to Sondheim? Heck, he could be standing at my front door but I'd never recognize him.

ArtO 10:55 AM  

I guess I'll have to be content to finish a Friday and once again find an "easy" rating. Maybe the "detour into Medium" is some consolation since I, too, had the VEGET...WINEM... issue by initially going with Vegetables (which seemed a strange menu heading) and Maven. Did enjoy putting in CLASSCLOWN as the first entry which got me on a roll.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

Too easy for a Friday. Joe Biden receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor is definitely NOT boring trivia. It was a great "stick it in your face" to Trump 8 days before his inauguration.

Jamie C 11:14 AM  

I thought he was Christa Berg for the longest time.

Anoa Bob 11:33 AM  

For those with multiple-moon envy, be careful what you wish for. Just saw recently on the tube (Science Channel or Smithsonian or one of those) that having only one moon was critical to the development of life on Earth. Apparently it stabilizes the motion of our Pale Blue Dot around the sun and creates the steady temperature and light cycles necessary for life.

How come all the other planets have spiffy names for their moons while ours is just... Moon? What would be a good name for ours?

So, INAN YEVENT and ISMELLA RAT were trying to score some HEROIN from A MAN on BEALE Street....

Cali Marie 11:48 AM  

The Greeks called the moon Selene I think.

Masked and Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Great puz, from stem to stern. Still like themed ones a little better, tho.

Top PuzPlaces where you might hear someone say "Duck!" …

1. POND. I suppose, if U R duck huntin with others. Either U are issuin a duck-sighting alert, or U are duck-callin to them, as in: "Here, duck duck DUCK!"
2. HILO. Maybe U just spotted a Hawaiian NENE bird, and don't know yer bird specieses very well.
3. GARDEN. Maybe the ducks are in to yer corn crop, and U want the doggie to run em off. Or maybe U are issuin a swoopin bumble bee alert. Etc.
4. REAR. Rodney Dangerfield post-gas-attack line: "Ooooh … Did someone just step on a DUCK!?!"
5. URSA. That would be one way to interpret this star pattern, if desperate enough.
6. TUNER. Maybe someone is doin animal impressions on one of the radio stations. [Time to tune to another station]
7. GIRDLE. See item 4.
8. BLT. Maybe they put the wrong meat in yer sandwich?

staff weeject pick (from a modest 6 choices): ETD. [Estimated Time of "DUCK!"]

Coolest stuff M&A didn't really know: CHEVRE. EFFETE. I think Agnew used the EFFETE word one time, but I was youngish & mostly ignored the gist of what he was sayin.

Thanx Robyn darlin.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

I do not re-call, if there are any ducks:

old timer 12:13 PM  

HEMOPHILIA I know and have known for years with regard to Victoria's descendants. Had it come to mind quickly, this would have been Monday or at least Wednesday EASY for me. I guess it was Wednesday EASY IN ANY EVENT.

I miss @George Barany too. Forgive and forget, man! Always look forward to @LMS though, and am glad @mericans are back in GAY PAREE.

Nate 12:20 PM  

FREE and EASY tripped me up for far too long, as well. I had "EASY," and thought maybe the clue was a quote or something, so the second part was a surname or something. Something along the lines of EASY EDDY... but eventually I gave up and plugged in FREE because of its common crosswordese "pairing." And it worked.

The only "the hell is that" clue/answer for me was Carriage = MIEN. I didn't know the word "mien," and that's like the 8th most common definition of "carriage," so that was a big whiff.

Master Melvin 12:32 PM  

Not only does OENOPHILE fit 36A, but so does SOMMELIER! Held me up even longer before I saw it had to be WINE-something.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

I DOOKed (or, did OK) on this puzzle. I would like to use your neologism from now on, if you don't mind.

Uke Xensen 12:57 PM  


Teedmn 1:21 PM  

This is probably the toughest of Ms. Weintraub's Friday puzzles so far, for me. I set personal TIME records on a couple of them, if I recall correctly, but today I fell into half of Rex's errant ways at VEGETAbles. Reading the 44A Pluto moon, I wrote, off grid, CHARON and tried to come up with another moon - I knew there was one that was related to CHARON (I was thinking of Styx) but Phobos kept creeping in off the b of VEGETAbles even though I knew that was a moon of Mars'.
So thinking "Phobos led me to want gARIsh for 34D's "Revealing". Somehow I fought my way out of the SW (and without plopping in "sigh" in place of MOAN) so I SMELLed like a rose, not a RAT by the end of my solve.

I caught CLASS CLOWN right away but only put the CLASS in at first because, like @Z, I was thinking herpetology at 31A. Snake? (Skink? nope, not in the same family). Thinking of "clay" pots at 1A made CHIP seem very green paintish until the card game "poked" its head up. CH__RE had a hard time surfacing in my brain as the cheese. And once again, my downs misspelling habit kept me from seeing my mistake on KING ARTHeR until I was able to TUNE in to the right station.

This sounds like a lot of errors, most of which never actually made it onto the page, but I still was below my Friday average time so I'm happy to have had a bit of struggle. Thanks, Robyn.

Rob 1:47 PM  

I know the word EFFETE, but I'm very skeptical of that clue.

Larry Gilstrap 2:02 PM  

Can’t find the snarky comment. Can’t get your email address to work for me. Help! I’m at

Mother Pence 2:12 PM  

No posts with foul language today, thankfully. My goodness.

Barry Frain is a sewer mouth.

Boatman to Hell 2:17 PM  

@Mother Pence said: “Barry Frain is a sewer mouth.”

Which of course means that Barry and Mother are probably the same troll.

semioticus (shelbyl) 2:25 PM  

I agree with Rex on the clue for FREE, but I thought the clue for POND was amazing.

This puzzle was definitely a very good one. Let me list my few hiccups before I natter away all the praise I have: CHARON/HILO crossing was a pain in the ass for me, and to a lesser degree so were FREE/ARRID/ETD. I had no idea what ARRID was, and even though the others were fair crossings, the clue for FREE made it more esoteric than I would have liked (ARRIA? ALRID?)

But otherwise, yay! I mean, only 6 (six!) 3-letter words? Count me in! Yes, that meant a load of 4-letter ones, but it's OK. It's much easier to avoid dreadful answers with 4-letter words and it is with 3-letter ones. And this puzzle did a very good job of that. Only AMAN is a questionable one. Such a clean grid is very hard to come by.

And the longer fill is great: KINGARTHUR SOUNDBITES LIVINGDEAD FRESHENSUP ISMELLARAT. The puzzle never lost its sizzle. (Although, I have to say, what a bloody one! Body parts, zombies, illnesses oh my gods). And to top all that beauty, smart, Friday-appropriate clues (except for a couple of uncharacteristically bad ones)

GRADE: A, 4.35 stars.

Chronic dnfer 2:26 PM  

Boson kind of resulted in a dnf. Never tookit out and have never heard of a meson.

pabloinnh 2:29 PM  

@AnoaBob wants to know, what would be a good name for our moon?

Fortunately, the B-52's have the answer:

"There's a moon in the sky
They call it The Moon."

Phil 2:35 PM  

LIVING DEAD snuck under CHARON to return to the living side of Styx

Two Ponies 4:04 PM  

@ Anoa Bob 11:33, Thanks for the moon info. I selfishly only wanted more to look at in the night sky. Upsetting the scheme of things certainly was not my intention.
Luna is a perfectly lovely name. I had a cat by that name.

Z 4:25 PM  

@M&A - Eider? Teal? DUCK!

David in CA 4:34 PM  

Yesterday: ELAINEMAY clued as direct reference to a 1971 movie is great.
Today: BIDEN and CHARON clued respectively as 2017 award winner and astronomical body are "boring trivia".

Geez - why not just say "here are things I know, please only use them in puzzles"?

@Nancy: Alright already. You have firmly established your incredible brilliance in the realm of crossworddom; could you please stop dissing every puzzle that is too easy for you, and putting all the people like myself in their place somewhere below an idle zombie.

sanfranman59 4:49 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:32 4:09 1.09 74.8% Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:02 5:12 0.97 42.2% Medium
Wed 5:03 6:00 0.84 21.8% Easy-Medium
Thu 11:23 10:01 1.14 71.9% Medium-Challenging
Fri 7:58 11:42, 0.68 13.0% Easy

This is one of those eerie days where I could swear that Rex was looking over my shoulder and blogging about my solving experience. It's my 7th fastest solve time of 411 Fridays and felt nothing like a Friday to me as I barely slowed down from start to finish (only 1 sputter and 4 erasures on a Friday?). I felt like I was in a groove with the constructor as even the tougher entries went in pretty quickly. My solve time is much closer to a typical Wednesday than it is to a Friday.

In fact, I was on pace for an even faster time halfway through, but my sputter was in the SW where I had VEGETAbles for 26D and so couldn't come up with Pluto's moon (44A). I did have CHAbON at one point, but took it out because it didn't look right. Once I corrected VEGETARIAN, I was back in the fast lane. The G in GARDEN was my last entry as all I could see was hARDEN (see what I mean?).

Joe Dipinto 4:57 PM  

I thought this was much too 5-across for a Friday. The grid is fine, but the clues are very straightforward and kind of bland for the most part. Zippier cluing would made it a more exciting and perhaps more challenging solving experience.

Nancy 4:58 PM  

Sorry my crossword puzzle experience is so ego-threatening to your crossword puzzle experience, @David in CA (4:34). But I think the rule of thumb here is to write about one's own crossword puzzle experience and not someone else's. If I were David in CA, I would, of course, write all my comments very differently. And as far as establishing my "incredible brilliance in the realm of crossworddom", if you re-read the comments section, you'll see that I copped to a DNF today at 9:37 a.m. Not exactly a study in puzzle braggadocio, I'd maintain.

Anonymous 4:58 PM  

Re the interchange between Z and Quasi, and coming from someone who lost 35+ friends and colleagues to AIDS back in the day -
there was a dark joke that circulated among us in the earliest days of AIDS, before much was even understood about it:
"What's the hardest part about getting AIDS?"
"Trying to convince your mother that you're a Haitian immigrant."

Those were the days...

Masked and Anonymous 5:01 PM  

@[Magnificent Beast] Z (@4:25pm): har


BarbieBarbie 5:45 PM  

@Nancy, how interesting about Sondheim. I had always heard he didn’t like the WSS lyrics because they represented his fledgling efforts, when he was already wonderful with words and music but didn’t yet understand singers. I love love love the music from Sweeney Todd, and nobody can say that isn’t written for singers.

clk 6:01 PM  

Was anyone else bothered by the clue for HEROIN? Narc seems kind of slangy so I expected the answer would be some street name for a drug.

Joe Dipinto 6:32 PM  

@Nancy and @Barbie -- if you like Sondheim you should get his book "Finishing The Hat". It covers all his musicals up through Merrily We Roll Along (1981). It includes the lyrics to all the songs, plus initial versions that were reworked in some cases, and songs that were completely cut. And he supplies numerous anecdotes about the productions themselves. It's incredibly informative and entertaining. There's a second volume (which I don't have yet) that picks up with "Sunday In The Park" and continues through the present.

QuasiMojo 7:39 PM  

@anonymous 4:38 I had a similar experience and remember that joke well.

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

Tough Southwest until vegetables became vegetarian.

Corky O'Doul 7:58 PM  

Agree with Anonymous. But the "ing" in LIVINGDEAD was my first guess, then it flowed.

Z 9:34 PM  

A new Crosswords for charity project.

kitshef 9:41 AM  

@David in CA - at least a dozen people posted about how easy the puzzle was before Nancy did. Why single her out? If you don't enjoy her posts, don't read them. Life is short ... aim for happiness.

Big J 11:50 AM  

I also had VEGETASIAN. Great minds think alike!

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

Easy but for two mechanical blunders. #1: I wrote the answer to 15-down {Big Bird attended his memorial: HENSON) starting with the H of FRESHENSUP--as in, Ms. Weintraub FRESHENSUP the week with a delightful puzzle. Yep, that H. The one on sq. 18. Oops! Still lucky that I didn't need to change half the letters for the correct 18-down, HEROIN.

But that little writeover was nothing compared to the inkblot in the SW. Zombie ending in DEAD? I was so confident it was WALKING that I just started writing it in--until I got to the I and there was no place to put the N. Hint to solvers: COUNT before you write! Duh. Then to compound the mess, my indication of pain or pleasure was griN. If you've ever worked in a hospital, you've seen that pain grin a lot. Oh well, solving in ink is a tradition with me, despite days like this.

So the time loss had nothing to do with actual difficulty. If I had one criticism to make about this offering, I'd say it was a little too easy for a Friday. INANYEVENT, this is an eagle.

Burma Shave 11:42 AM  


but INANYEVENT is the TYPE who looks sleazy,
BARING herself as BIDEN NATTERED his come-on,
he SEEMs to be AMAN who wants it FREE and EASY.


Diana,LIW 2:07 PM  

Surprisingly easy for me on a Friday. except for the O in MESONS/CHARON. A Natick if ever there was one for me. But I guessed correctly, for a clean solve.

So I'm left wondering if I'm getting smarter/better or if it was just easy for a Friday. Methinks the latter.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

PS Speaking of SONDHEIM - we're off to see West Side Story with live actors/symphony tonight. Should be amazing.

rainforest 2:29 PM  

Wonderful puzzle, deserving of @Spacey's "eagle".

On any puzzle, if you write in an answer in the wrong place, and leave it there, you're going to have trouble. I entered LENO in the row below where it belonged, and had a helluva time trying to figure out why I couldn't get anything going in the NW.

I eventually gave it up and did the rest of this beauty, and came up from the SW to deal with the NW when I spotted my stupid error. Some ink may have been splatzed, but I got it, hesitating at WINE MAvEn for a bit, then...done!

I don't mind if an "easy" puzzle turns up on Friday or Saturday. I don't mind if a "challenging" puzzle runs on Monday or Tuesday. They are all puzzles, and if sprightly and engaging like this one, it doesn't matter a damn. There.

On with my day, hoping to be able to MOAN at some point.

rainforest 2:31 PM  

Oops. I meant "in the place ABOVE where it was meant to go".

rondo 2:55 PM  

No write-overs today, so maybe kinda EASY, definitely not FREE considering the cost of the paper at the convenience store. INANYEVENT it didn’t take up a whole lotta TIME.

Who exactly ere those nabobs who NATTERED?

They might not call those new-fangled shapewear things they advertise on TV GIRDLEs anymore, but they are GIRDLEs.

Hows about a yeah baby for Jill BIDEN? YES!

Nuthin’ wrong with today’s puz, plenty of THERETHERE. (ever feel psychic?)

billy 8:41 AM  

No one will see this, but a BLT has more than 3 ingredients....bread, mayo?

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