Romanian currency units / FRI 6-8-18 / Annual fashion event since 1948 / Seller of calorific pastries / Crushed cacao beans used to make chocolate

Friday, June 8, 2018

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (6:09)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: OSSICLE (38D: Anvil, hammer or stirrup) —
  1. a very small bone, especially one of those in the middle ear. (google)
• • •

Aggressively now, this puzzle is. That's better than "aggressively dated," for sure, though sometimes this kind of hyper-contemporariness feels slightly precious and put on. Like the puzzle is about to morph into a meme or a Vine or something aaaaaany second. I believe the 17A clue when it says that THE MET GALA has been a thing since 1948, but it hasn't really been a Thing Everyone Talks About On Social Media for very long at all. Feels like last five years, and more this year and I've ever seen. The ILLUMINATI is some boring conspiracy theory stuff I can't even laugh it. Like, I don't get it and have no desire to get it (this is how I feel about 99% of conspiracy theories). GO COMMANDO is a phrase that's been around a while. I associate it with Joey from a specific episode of "Friends" (late '90s?), which makes it not exactly fresh ... but not like NEATO- or NERTS- or HEP-old, either. BEATS BY DRE have been around for a little over a decade now—that was the first clue I looked at and the first answer I got (dropped it in immediately and went to work on the crosses).

Anyway, all of this "Down With The Olds!" stuff is perfectly good fill. I have a question about the clue on TRANSGENDER, though (31A: Taking on a new identity, in a way). First, the part of speech seems off, but let's just say that the clue is being used essentially adjectivally ... OK, fine. The bigger issue is ... is that what TRANSGENDER is? It's not a makeover. It's not "The New You." It's just ... you. You with a gender expression that is different from the one that conventionally corresponds with your sex at birth. I mean, you might come out as TRANSGENDER, and coming out is a kind of "taking on a new identity." But lots of people just *are* TRANSGENDER. It's not a new identity. It's ... their identity. Also, something about the cluing makes being TRANSGENDER seem like dyeing your hair or getting really into cycling or something. I dunno. It's not an offensive clue, and I recognize the trickiness of being accurate and concise and (ideally) clever while cluing a term about which people are understandably sensitive. Still, this one missed a little, for me.

I stormed out of the gates on this one, but after the NW, things slowed a little. Balked at singular STRAIT. Really really balked at SCRIPT (do you mean "cursive"?) (34A: Once-standard subject no longer taught in most schools). Two answers were just total mysteries to me: this BYRNES guy (39D: James F. ___, Truman secretary of state) and OSSICLE, which sounds like something a toddler calls a "Popsicle" (38D: Anvil, hammer or stirrup). The clue on IT IS SO ... I dunno ... IT IS SO off, to my ears (36A: "That must be the case"). There is still an element of surmising in the clue phrase, whereas IT IS SO is straight-up certain. "That must be the case" sounds like something you'd say when you're making your best guess. IT IS SO is something  ... well, no actual human would say, but maybe a religious figure in a movie? Someone certain of their utterances, at any rate. Lastly, what's with the "L" in in FRIZZLES (12D: Makes curly). 🎶"Take the L out of FRIZZLES and it's FRIZZES!"🎶 ... which is the only word I recognize here.

Errors include SNYDER for SNIDER (despite having seen him in a puzzle very recently), NOTTE (?) for NOZZE (25A: Mozart's "Le ___ di Figaro"), and ... nope, I think that's it. OK, goodnight.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


ZenMonkey 12:43 AM  

This might have been my fastest Friday ever. It helped that I just got a pair of BEATSBYDRE headphones just two days ago! (For wireless + noise cancellation + iOS integration they are terrific.) Mostly the cluing seemed too staid and on-the-nose for a Friday. Surely ILLUMINATI, KIT, and others deserved more sparkle to their clues.. But I liked the Queen's ZED, the SALAMI hanging around, and especially "Fifth place?"

Agree that the clue for TRANSGENDER felt off. Kudos for finding its way into the puzzle, but I'm not sure it's a word that lends itself to a pithy crossword clue to begin with, plus everyone's experiences are so different that what rings true to one person might offend another.

Andrea 12:43 AM  

Don’t you remember Ms Frizzle from The Magic School Bus?

No Peace 12:49 AM  

Oh I think a crossword puzzle should take on all the sensitivity and politics of what it means to be transgender and do it in say 25 characters or less (including spaces) and be super super careful not to offend anyone and it should be inclusive too and I'm sure there's a way to touch all the bases in a way that meets the standards of the Twitterati cause we all look to them to be the arbiters of taste AND morality I know I do. And if someone is transgendered (is it a verb?) from male to female they better have the opportunity to publish a puzzle in the NY Times on a livable wage ohwaitimdizzy but if they went from female to male and submitted a puzzle screw 'em get in line puffpuffpuff...oh heck who nozze? Hitofalbuterol, I like any phrase that encases "ocassioned by..." so that was cool.

Bax'N'Nex 1:01 AM  

Jeez, Mike. NEVER satisfied. “Too old”...”Too new”.

And the transgender thing... this is a CROSSWORD PUZZLE. A game. A puzzle. Somehow the way that is clued is going to affect social consciousness? You DO understand this is a six minute ( in your case) diversion from the real world, right?

Why do I come here? Guess to get my daily dose of aggravation and for a reality check as to the fact that there are REAL problems in the world other than how a answer was clued.

So stupid

Cliff 1:01 AM  

I like the modern clues and answers. Hey - at least the constructor is trying. You (and we!) complain when fill is boring or dated. This one is neither. 31A definitely delicate issue but made sense to me. Can’t speak to appropriateness from my SWM vantage point.
I wish 12D was modified to refer to Magic School Bus.
Guessing the ELOI mostly GO COMMANDO and I like the connection between DRE and ILLUMINATI!

Harryp 1:04 AM  

Southwest corner had some crunch, but otherwise an easy Friday solve. Filled NOZZE by crosses only. KFC was cleverly clued. Altogether a fun puzzle. My yesterdays' effort came up short. Mostly impatience.

Brian B 1:06 AM  

I put in SKULLCANDY for 1A at first, and I still believe it's a better answer. But not as well known, I guess.

Bax'N'Nex 1:06 AM  

And I was referring to me being “stupid”. Not Mike or anyone else that comes here. Or the forum in general.

NorGal 1:10 AM  

GO COMMANDO was the first entry I got. Had to write over GOLDE with YENTE, so SPEEDILY could drop in.

Thought the plural KFCs seemed strange but whatever. Get to say GINORMOUS to my 4.5 year old daily. He's into hyperbole, I guess. Glad the wave of athleisure allows me to wear YOGAPANTS most days. Really liked the clue for EMMA.

Only took me 12 minutes - seemed more like a Thursday to me.

Graham Blake 1:10 AM  

It took me as much time to finally nail that BYRNES/YENTE cross as it took me to do the rest of the puzzle. I am so used to that being spelled YENTA. I was trying to make it BARNES, and being left with AENTE had me doubting my 34D and even my 28D. What a trap door to fall through. (AUNTE? ANNIE? Well, then what? Maybe 48A and 53A are wrong.. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.) Ugh.

jae 1:15 AM  

Medium for me. BEATS BY DRE went in with no crosses so I thought this would be cake but the NE and SW corners took some work. The clues for STRAIT and NIBS were tough and NOZZE was a erasures, just a fair amount of staring.

This was a terrific puzzle!

Trombone Tom 1:45 AM  

This was an interesting mixture of newish (TRANSGENDER, BEATS BY DRE, GINORMOUS) and oldish (SCRIPT, YENTA, ELOI). The level of difficulty was on the easy side for Friday, although I was held up for a time in the NE to suss out "Sellers of buckets."

Compared to some of Caleb's earlier efforts this seemed aimed at a broader audience.

One of the joys of crosswords is discovering new things and I had not heard of NIBS in this sense before.

Unlike @Rex, I have often had a female companion complain about something causing her hair to FRIZZLE(S).

I skip M-W 1:54 AM  

Since we are concerned about meanings here, I would like to comment on Abby Friedman's terrible misusage from yesterday.

"Anti-Semitic " doesn't mean what you think. As quite a few of my relatives died in the Holocaust, I know something about it. Anti-Semitism is not against the Jewish religion, but against the supposed Jewish RACE, something utterly different.

An unusually large proportion, compared with other papers, of the Times' staff as well as owners are Jews; they may not be very (or at all) religious, but that doesn't make them anti-Semitic. Many are not in love with the actions of Israel, but that also doesn't make them anti-Semitic.

I think you should wash your mouth out with soap.And never misuse this word again.

Eric 2:48 AM  

I have issues with 30A. "One taking a survey" is not a POLLER, it's a POLLEE.

smoss11 3:13 AM  

Shouldn'the one who takes a survey be a pollee? The survey giver is the poller.

Robin 3:28 AM  

GOCOMMANDO was from a Seinfeld episode.

I tried to enter SKULLCANDY for 1A, but almost immediately saw from a couple crosses that it was BEATSBYDRE.

Unfortunately I'm from a part of the country that likes to believe that conspirators elsewhere are running the world. If It's not the ILLUMINATI then it's the Trllateral Commission.

There was some nice stuff in here. But then you get crap like ITISSO and the crosswordese LEI. Hmmm, well, maybe you have to use that stuff in order to work in the creative long ones.

In any event, a relatively easy Friday. Entered a few wrong answers but almost immediately worked my way out of the errors.

no one 3:43 AM  

Does George Barant ever pst, anymore. I sure miss his regular comments!

dp 3:59 AM  


sanfranman59 4:08 AM  

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 3:17 4:30 0.73 1.3% Very Easy
Tue 6:16 5:26 1.16 79.2% Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:41 6:39 0.86 24.5% Easy-Medium
Thu DNF 9:47 ??? ??? Very Challenging
Fri 11:15 13:03 0.86 31.6% Easy-Medium

I got myself jammed up in the NE, but otherwise it was pretty smooth sailing with this terrific puzzle. I found a lot to like here. Though I struggled up there, I like that the NE has baseball and those ZEDs and Ks. POLLER looks weird, but I guess it's legit. I enjoyed sussing out all the long answers, particularly in the SE. I happened to be listening to Bach's Goldberg Variations during my solve and the synchronicity with PIANO SONATA brought a smile to my face. TAP ON and IN On IT kinda suck. NIBS in this sense is news to me. BEATS BY DRE OCCASIONED THE MET GALA would be an interesting headline.

Loren Muse Smith 5:12 AM  

Rex – aggressively Yoda, your first sentence is. A while to parse that it took me. I agree with your take on IT IS SO. I guess the nuanced meaning of “must” comes into play.

I must be dreaming. (logically inferred)
I must go now. (compelled)

I had “ I bet so” there first.

“Sweat suit” before YOGA PANTS. And then the other PANT in the grid had me remembering my extreme discomfort the one time I did a yoga class and the instructor kept admonishing us all to breathe audibly. I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I mean, I tried a couple of times, but I just felt self-conscious and embarrassed.

“Shoe in” before SHOO IN. Yes. I did. RINGER is its cousin, no?

I see the point on the clue for TRANSGENDER. You could almost argue that you’re not taking on a new identity so much as unveiling your real identity.

CINNABONS. Hey, there, @M&A. Around here, Everyone makes home-made cinnamon buns, and they’re obscenely delicious. We just had a faculty breakfast, and I couldn’t stop eating the ones that Sheryl made. They weren’t as big as real CINNABONS (which are roughly the size of a human head), but still. A couple of hours later, I kept sneaking down to the copy room where the leftovers were taken to cadge some more.

I liked the clues for BOTTLE, EMMA, and TAP ON. You also tap on a MIC, right? Is this thing on? Testing testing one two three.

@Tita from yesterday – the idea of dogs getting shots against rabbis made me snort! Your mom’s a peach! Hope she’s never confused euthanasia with echinacea. I recently saw something to that effect:

My husband feels a cold coming on.
Would he consider euthanasia?

Matthew G. 5:39 AM  

Strong agree with Rex on the TRANSGENDER clue. It was one of those clues that felt so incorrect that I continued to resist the answer even after seeing it. I had TRANS— and wanted something like TRANSITIONING even though that was obviously too long. TRANSGENDER is something you are, not something you take on.

A shame to have that error in a central clue, because this was otherwise a smooth and very delightful Friday. Not quite a personal record, but close.

Lewis 6:21 AM  

BEATS BY DRE I learned through making crossword puzzles. I remember Evan Birnholz (who does the Washington Post Sunday puzzle) once saying that his solving chops increased exponentially when he started making puzzles, and I concur.

A fun solve, with more starts than fits, but enough STRAITs to keep it very interesting. I am grateful for the three things I learned: That STRAIT can be used in the singular in the sense of "trouble", and two new words for me, OSSICLE and ATHLEISURE. It is sweet when a puzzle not only works a brain out, but pads it as well. Thanks Caleb!

QuasiMojo 7:13 AM  

I enjoyed this one, even though to my mind, it skewed very old, as in OLD SAW, SCRIPT, YENTE, NOZZE, and TRUMAN, and those nasty BITS at an SNL audition (talk about an odd clue).

I avoided the entire "trans" controversy by blindly putting in TRANSCENDER. I guess I had Emerson on my mind. Took a while to get out of that STRAIT. (I also had STRAIN for evah...)

Is a BOTTLE really a PLACE though? I was thinking more of a BAR TOP or some such. But when I think about it, I guess we do say things like "he placed a message in an old bottle and TOSSed it into the sea." Don't google BOOTLE by the way!

FDA, then ADA, then finally RDA. Most of those RDAs though are not exactly HEALTHy.

I suspect the ELOI went COMMANDO all the time. You would never see one of them in YOGA PANTS.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

The featured words and phrases are all rock solid, except that 13D should be OOCKEZER.

Not so fond of the glue holding them together:
ACES IT, TAP ON, IN ON IT, SHOO IN, IT IS SO, HOLD TO – three ITs, two ONs, two INs.
Plus ‘variant’ spelling on EGIS.

But mucho bonus points for not cluing YENTE as ‘matchmaker’ or some something similarly incorrect.

kodak jenkins 7:19 AM  

it is it is ITISSO wrong. ITISSO wouldn't even show up on the board on the Family Feud. "That must be the case":
I guess so.
Probably so.
I think so.
Surely so.

TRANSGENDER should just be left off the table another decade or so.

I struggled hard in the whole south section. You just had to cross BYRNES with YENTE and RDA? I was blanking on GOCOMMANDO and having SHOEiN didn't help.

and how many Hebrew names of God are there? I thought Jehova and Yahweh covered my bases but apparently not...

Wes 7:25 AM  

This may be overly picky, but the clue for YENTE (to whom Matchmaker is sung) is incorrect. It's sung about her, but it's sung by the three daughters to each other, with no one else on stage.

It didn't throw me off, but it's still not technically correct.

RavTom 7:26 AM  

ADONAI is not “God, in Hebrew.” It’s most commonly translated as “Lord.” The distinction is actually pretty important in Biblical scholarship.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  


jmiz 7:36 AM  

I propose that Will Shortz commission a committee to approve all crossword clues. The committee will be comprised of one self-identified member of each of the LGBTQIA communities (seven self-identified humans; Siamese twins need not apply). The committee will be called COUPS: Crossworders Opposed to Unpoltiicallycorrect Savagery. The committee will vote using Braille etched discs - The committee will be moderated by a self-identified blind (or is it visually challenged?) self-identified human so no bias is involved in the counting of the votes.

QP 7:40 AM  


paperandink 7:43 AM  

didn't we have "coke zero" yesterday? or am is my brain frizzled?

r.alphbunker 7:46 AM  

This puzzle was doable by me which means that it is not "Aggressively now, this puzzle is."

That description is appropriate, however, for Caleb Madison's latest venture Solve the Internet which I did not have a chance of getting through without help. That puzzle is 9x11 probably because someone who spends enough time on social media to do the puzzle doesn't have enough time left over to solve a regular sized puzzle. Or maybe it refers to my 911 calls to Google. Approximately 20% of the answers have never appeared in a NYT puzzle and 4 of the clues obscured answers with references I did not know.

Details of my solve of his NYT puzzle are here

Birchbark 7:53 AM  

COKE ZERO two days in a row, this time crossing KFCS. And CINNABON crossing NIBS in the opposite corner. SALAMI and TAB. GINORMOUS breakfast-test considerations.

@Quasimojo (7:13) -- Liked your transcendental solution to the social debate. It mostly works with the 31A clue as well.

Seth 7:55 AM  

In a sense, you're right. It's just a game. I get that. But crossword puzzles are done by millions of people, and they're part of pop culture, so they matter. And for a group of people like transgender people, who are having a REALLY hard time being accepted and heard and seen, details matter. It's not that the clue is inaccurate in an innocuous way; it's inaccurate in the very specific way that a lot of people don't understand transgender people. And to me, that's worth discussing so a future clue can be more accurate.

It'd be like if a clue for GAY was "Choice of sexual orientation." Again, seems innocuous, but the word "choice" is patently wrong. It's EXACTLY what a lot of people don't understand.

Again, I know it's just a game. But details matter.

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

Please stop with the Yoda crap. No one should ever do that.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

All it needed was the gag reflex inducing "adorbs"...

jberg 8:18 AM  

@David S @Seth — It’s interesting, if someone objects that a baseball or carpentry term isn’t quite right, we may have a long debate, but most people will concede that it’s a legitimate issue. But when it comes to basic personal/social stuff, surprisingly many object to talking about it at all.

Hartley70 8:21 AM  

This was done in half the time of yesterday's puzzle and not as much fun. Burp.

Sir Hillary 8:28 AM  

When I saw Caleb Madison's name over this one, I was happy, and this puzzle didn't disappoint. Fell pretty easily for me. More important, it was fun.

Only gripe is the BYRNES/YENTE/RDA section. RDA could be aDA or fDA, and the others are proper nouns. We might be expected to know either "Fiddler" or 70-years-past cabinet secretaries, but both? Small nit though.

The clue for EMMA is absolutely brilliant.

I'm way out of my depth here, but @Rex's comments regarding TRANSGENDER seemed quite measured and reasonable, not the ranting we often get. "Trans"-anything implies some sort of "crossing" so maybe it's the term itself that needs revisiting. Anyway, it's a great puzzle entry.

jberg 8:33 AM  

Hard at first, then got easier— I had a fixation that Zed headphone = BOSE. And Shen Dunkin’ or KrispyKreme didn’t work I threw in EINSTEIN. Dumb move. Also calyx before PETAL, looking for a pangram. It all came right in the end though. I did avoid the POng before POLO trap!

Is it me time? No, it’s RE TIME!

Or, “What comes between do time and mi time?”

jberg 8:34 AM  

@Loren, nice avatar. I put that in yesterday, too.

crackblind 8:41 AM  

I was screwed from the start because I happened to be wearing my SENNHEISER headphones when I was doing the puzzle and it fit perfectly. Well there went the NW because SALOON then fit perfectly for 1D. Pretty much flew through the other corners with a little slowdown in the NE cause I always thought that Duke's last name had a Y, not an I.

Once I gave up on my personal choice of headphones, it all fan me together and I beat my average by 25%.

mmorgan 8:47 AM  

Stare at puzzle. Fill in a word...No, a bunch of words! Stare at puzzle. Fill in a word... No, a bunch of words! Rinse and repeat.... Mr Happy Pencil cometh!

It is so.

FLAC 9:00 AM  

Surprised so many don't know James "Jimmy" Byrnes, one of the most protean American political figures of the mid-20th Century -- governor of SC, US secretary of state, US senator and representative, Supreme Court justice, wartime price czar, behind-the-scenes power broker, FDR crony. Perfect exemplar of that vanished, now-almost-incomprehensible time when one could be an intellectual, a liberal, an insider, a populist and a racist without contradiction.

Bob Mills 9:13 AM  

Had "TOGAPANTS" instead of "YOGAPANTS." Otherwise perfect. "Taking on a new identity, in a way" calls for a gerund, not an adjective. The clue doesn't match the answer. And YENTE is usually spelled YENTA. "One taking a survey" should be POLLSTER, not POLLER.

Alicia Stetson 9:15 AM  

Well said, Seth @7:55!

Rainbow 9:25 AM  

Rex suggested the grammatical problem with 31A but didn't follow through. The clue "Taking on a new identity, in a way" is a gerund and functions as a noun. TRANSGENDER is an adjective as he says.
Tthis disconnect is awkward. By the clue, the correct answer would be TRANSGENDERing but that would be beyond ugly. Otherwise, good to have it in the puzzle.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Thank you to Caleb for NOT cluing 47A as a Simpson reference.

TubaDon 9:34 AM  

     Plunked in ECHOES and I was off to the races on this one. A superfast and enjoyable Friday puzzle. I did frown a bit at STRAIT, and wanted THE MEGILLA at 17A. Don't know why some folks objected to POLLER. After all, if you want to sample what people think, you take a poll. The TG identity plural is not how one sees themself, it is how others see them.

GILL I. 9:42 AM  

@Hartley...May I borrow your burp?
BEATS BY DRE set the tone. As in what the hell is this? Ooof and more. Moving along. OK, I like the clue for KFCS. Working that section, I gleaned FRIZZLES. But, says I... that is really wrong. FRIZZLie hair is not curly. Frizz is a bad perm - the one where you stuck your finger in an electric socket kind. NOZZE siree bob.
For goodness sake. YENTA YENTL no, it's YENTE. No it's not. Thought maybe Hodel needed the Matchmaker.
Do you think you'd get a prince?
Well, I do the best I can.
With no dowry, no money, no. family background
be glad you get a man.
Can the same be said of TRANSGENDER?
I learned something today. A sure winner is not a SHOE in. DOH.
My mom played POLO and she was left handed.
I've already forgotten what this puzzle is about.

GILL I. 9:47 AM  

@Tita. Glad to see you back (from yesterday). I miss your comments - especially when you quote your mamacita...!!!!

Z 9:47 AM  

Does it count as a malapop if the wrong answer appears the next day rather than later in the same puzzle. OLD saw yesterday to OLD SAW today.

No writeovers, but a few spots were slow downs. Hand up for NIBS as clued being a new thing. My first impulse was aDA, but I held up putting anything in and took a good long look at BY--ES and decided that BYRNES made sense, RDA fit the clue and NIBS were plausibly crushed cacao beans. Pattern recognition is a useful skill. Unless, of course, you recognize patterns where none exist and you turn "shit happens" into the ILLUMINATI. The evolutionary explanation of this is that recognizing a pattern where none exists won't often lead to one dying, but if you fail to recognize a pattern where there is one you might end up as SALAMI.

GO COMMANDO predates Seinfeld. We used the term in college in the early '80's, and it was not something we would have coined.

@Wes - A different usage for "to" here. "Ode to a Grecian Urn" is a similar usage.

@Brian B - Skull Candy is a huge brand, I've purchased many a pair given that teenagers tend to lose stuff.

@Sir Hillary - I appreciate your comment.

@jberg - Good observation. I know it is in part a function of the medium, but I am always a little amazed at the number of people who demonstrate no evidence of understanding nuance.

Speaking of which - LOL at the comments yesterday. Do the racists even realize they were proving my point about them? @Banana Daiquiri - I don't think the southern strategy is ever ascribed to Goldwater. LBJ alienated southern Democrats by getting Civil Rights legislation passed, and it was Nixon who started actively appealing to the racial animus in the south. I think southern Democrats may have been attracted to Goldwater's conservatism, but I don't think his campaign used the race card to attract white southerners the way Nixon, Reagan, and Bush did.

Rocket Man 9:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pmdm 9:48 AM  

Do I prefer puzzles that are "contemporary" or "old-fashioned?" Actually, my preference would be for a "timeless" puzzle. That is, a puzzle whose entries would be as current in 100 years as they are now.(Beethoven and Mozart will never be forgotten (I think), Hummel perhaps not so.) Charlie Chaplin will never be forgotten. Fatty Arbuckle, I don't know.

The trick is to find contemporary entires that will stand the test of time. I don't think Caleb has that talent nailed down.

I've noticed not infrequently that entries like COKEZERO appear in puzzles published close to each other. I would guess this is done intentionally to help solvers learn new contemporary entries that Mr. Shortz intends to make common. Does anyone else notice this trait?

I bought a game many years ago called Illuminati. It was a very strange game. If you would like to learn about it, go here.

You can even still buy it from places like Amazon. (That is not an endorsement or advertisement.

Well, let me now go to the piano and for my own entertainment play one of the 30 or 35 (!) piano sonatas.
[If you call the two opus 49 Sonatas sonatinas rather than sonatas, he wrote only 30 sonatas. If you include the three youthful sonatas he never published (they might not have been published, but they are sonatas and they were written by Beethoven) he wrote 35. (Or 33 if you don't count the two sonatinas, which Beethoven didn't want published in any event.)

Phil 10:00 AM  

IT IS SO (a'hole)
SULU to jean LUC Picard. Early episode I believe.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

No time right now to read the blog or write much, but I liked this a lot. Found it crunchy-ish in the west and pretty easy in the east, where I went SPEEDILY. Didn't know BEATS BY DRE nor OSSICLE. Liked GO COMMANDO and FRIZZLES. (We have a place in the nabe that serves burgers with FRIZZLEd onions.) Thought RETIME was cleverly clued. Knew COKE ZERO from yesterday; never heard of it before that.

One big writeover: dullES before BYRNES. Then I remembered: he wasn't under Truman; he was under Ike.

mathgent 10:09 AM  

I'm a slow solver but I zipped through this one. Paradoxically, I learned a lot. You can't play polo left handed. Venmo. NIBS. OSSICLE.

I also enjoyed the freshness of the entries. NOZZE. RINGER. THEMETGALA. ILLUMINATI. GOCOMMANDO. And some clever cluing to boot ("Stone to cast.")

Not enough crunch for a Friday but quite enjoyable.

I think that Rex has been boring lately.

P-CO 10:27 AM  

I had fun doing this puzzle despite its being replete with “sort of” definitions matched by “almost” answers.
And as a psychiatrist, I disagree with the TRANSGENDER answer. In my experience transgendered people realize their identity early on. They are not taking on a new persona inspired by a need to top last year’s Halloween costume. And as someone who thinks that words and grammar matter, hats off to those commenting on the lack of parallelism between the gerund “taking on” and the pseudo-verb “transgender.” So what’s going on? I found two definitions online: 1. “verbing,” ie. changing a noun into a verb, and 2. “conversion” (aka “zero derivation”), the creation of a word from an existing word without a change in form. Example: In attempting to dazzle his Friday NYT puzzletakers, he shoehorned the answer “Transgender” then transformated it into a verb.

Fun fact: There is a psychiatric condition in which a person consistently responds to the examiner’s questions with approximate answers.

Ganser syndrome [gan´ser]
the giving of inappropriate, ridiculous, or approximate answers to questions, sometimes associated with amnesia, disorientation, perceptual disturbances, and conversion symptoms; it is most commonly seen in malingering prisoners feigning psychosis.

It exists. I’ve witnessed it.

Disclaimer: I am NOT accusing the puzzle maker of malingering. I am “yellow-carding” him, however, for approximation.

Dick Veit 10:30 AM  

We called it SCRIPT, not CURSIVE, when I learned it in school in the 1950s.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  


Add jai alai to the sports you're not permitted to pay left handed. Same reason as polo: safety.

This year's Met Gala is still getting play. Ginormous cultural divide about whether it was all in good fun or just more mockery of Catholicism from the swells. ( please refrain from citing Dolan's and Martin's attendance. They are a Hu-u-uge part of the cultural divide inside the Church)

dls 10:59 AM  

Strongly agree with P-CO and I would go further than Rex and say that the clue for TRANSGENDER is offensive. It is not a new identity, it is who the person has been all along.

kitshef 11:09 AM  

@Bob Mills 9:13 - in this case, YENTE is the the name of a character in a musical, and her name is always spelled that way. To do otherwise would be like calling the main character 'Tevya', or his son-in-law 'Hotel'.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Hey Z : What evidence do you have that these people whom you don’t know are racist ? To throw that word around haphazardly is wrong and you should stop it. The country seems to be in very fragile state right now. Part of it is Trump’s fault. Part of it is the fault of left wingers like Rex and Z who are sowing discord. Stop it.

Banana Diaquiri 11:10 AM  

@Z (re: yesterday)

this is from R.W. Apple of the Failing New York Times:

"The big change came in 1964 with Barry Goldwater and ''states' rights,'' a phrase and philosophy widely seen as anti-black and opposed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the godfather of voting rights for blacks. In that Presidential election and the seven after, no Republican gained more than 15 percent of the black vote."

that's more than 20 years ago. and, no, I hadn't found the cite until you forced me too. the title, 'Southern Strategy' came later, but the act began with Barry. go AuH2O

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

That's one doc's opinion. Lots of other physicians say there is no such thing as transgenderism. Now it's true many of those docs won't say it out loud ( who wants McHugh's fate?)but they are as certain of it as you are of your position.
One question. How in the world do you have time to referee soccer, fix the interwebs and practice medicine?

jb129 11:28 AM  

Closer to Medium than Easy. Yes, we had Coke Zero yesterday - I guess I better remember it.

Loved Stone to be Cast - Emma.

Rube 11:35 AM  

You are 100% correct. Serious error. The spelling of yente vs yenta is arbitrary as with so many foreign words especially words that use a different alphabet.

old timer 11:39 AM  

For a Friday, easy it was. GO COMMANDO forced me to change "shoe in" to SHOO IN. And of course Acheson was the Truman Secretary of State everyone remembers, but yes, BYRNES was there too.

When I wrote in TRANSGENDER I anticipated a classic Rexsnit. Not disappointed in that department. But he basically liked the puzzle and so did I. NOZZE was my first entry.

Amelia 12:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jackj 12:09 PM  

Roo Monster- Stanley Cup goes to the Capitals

The battle's over but you need not fret; your expansion Knights earned honor and respect from all NHL fans for their extraordinary achievements in their first year of competition.

And, hey, their showing in the finals should take a lesson from the Miss Universe contest--there's no shame in being the "First runner-up".

bookmark 12:22 PM  

James F. Byrnes in 1948 used money from his books to fund the Byrnes Scholars. The recipients for these full college scholarships must have lost one or both parents and be a resident of South Carolina. I've known three people who have been named a Byrnes Scholar. The program is still active.

Bex 12:24 PM  

I got Yente right away even though the clue is WRONG. "Matchmaker" is sung of or about Yente, but definitely not TO her!

Joseph Michael 12:29 PM  

This puzzle has the "It" factor with ACES "IT," IN ON "IT," and "IT" IS SO plus a few buried IT'S in BITS, KIT, and STRAIT.

Then there's PANT and YOGA PANTS. And COKE ZERO today and COKE ZERO yesterday. Seems to be a lot of ECHOES in the room.

Aside from such redundancies, this puzzle has a lot of great clues and great entries. Really liked TRANSGENDER, GO COMMANDO, GINORMOUS, OSSICLE, and FRIZZLES among others.

Nice job, Caleb.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

The clue that really offended me was 13 down, soda debut, which gave us the answer we learned yesterday, coke zero, which i had not heard of until yesterday. like, pay attention, because there will be quiz tomorrow. that transgender is not accurate--the scientific jury is still out, so the clue felt overtly and unnecessary political. like being forced to bake a cake for, oh, never mind.

Chris 1:07 PM  

@Bex, @wes, maybe others: Matchmaker is certainly sung to YENTE. No, she's not on stage, but the language is clear that it's addressed to her:
Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
You know that I'm
Still very young.
Please, take your time.
Up to this minute,
I misunderstood
That I could get stuck for good.

Dear Yente,
See that he's gentle
You were also a bride.

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

Wasn't it I who was crowing earlier this week about catching the British OCHRES because the clue contained "colour"? Yes, yes, that was me. But who left 22A at ZEe today? I did. Drat. Duke SNIeEs is what I had. Yes, two errors in that one answer.

And 12D frazzled me by my entry of FRIZZeES. So I entered 30A as POLeEs. I have plenty of excuses but I'm not sure if any actually explain such missteps. WAHS.

This was fresh, tough but doable (maybe not completely errorless on my part but hey). I laughed when I saw OLD SAW and COKE ZERO ECHOing yesterday's puzzle to a certain extent. I was incredulous for the few moments I thought parts of a Toyota Corolla were going to be mETAL, har. I dropped both the MIC and the TIKI torch right in, and SIC and NIBS as well.

Thanks, Caleb, for a great Friday puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 1:25 PM  

CINNABONs … mm-mm.
YOGAPANTS … wha … ?
Other hi-liter bullets:

* BEATSBYDRE - Did not know. Not into headphones much, as can't abide havin stuff stuck on to my ears. Lost precious nanoseconds, decodin the NW. See also LEI, on that.
* LEI - sounds like as good an answer as any, to: {Romanian currency units}.
* BYRNES - Desperately obscure name, I assume, based on its clue. Answer coulda been LEILU, and it'da fooled m&e.
* GINORMOUS, GOCOMMANDO, CINNABON - Great fillins. M&A prefers to GOTRANSGARMENTER, on the undies [turn inside out, when desperate enough].
* SSE - staff weeject pick, for its clue: {Navigation abbr.}. This clue fits into the Thanx-A-Lot-Hint category.

Thanx, Mr. Madison. RE-TIME. har

Masked & Anonymo1U 3ITs

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

For a Friday a bit on the easy side. Averagish word difficulty, not too many obscure proper names. GOCOMMANDO I did like, actually. THEMETGALA was slso okay with me. RDA is getting stale. ACESIT...meh. Nothing else too exciting or awful. So on to Saturday.

Stanley Hudson 1:37 PM  

Doesn’t the president eat lots of KFC’s buckets?

Joe Bleaux 1:59 PM  

(And 23A as a reference to the traditional aloha necklace.)

Hungry Mother 2:23 PM  

A big slog for me today, but I got ‘er done. I wanted “earbonE” for OSSICLE, untl perps changed my mind.

sasha 3:20 PM  

Yeah, this got me too. But I think take can be used to describe the actions of both the poller and pollee, annoyingly. Example usage, "Let's take a survey of the commenters on this blog and see what they thought of that clue."

sanfranman59 4:01 PM  

@TubaDon ... That's the way I resolved the cognitive dissonance I felt over the TRANSGENDER clue. Though the TG individual has likely (often?) always identified as the other gender, when they publicly transition, many of their friends and acquaintances may perceive their identities differently.

sanfranman59 4:14 PM  

@pmdm "Does anyone else notice this trait?" ... Absolutely I have and have the same thought.

Anoa Bob 4:15 PM  

I learned to GO COMMANDO on excursions in the tropics in places where we didn't even have electricity, let alone fans are AC. These days I live in subtropical coastal Texas and when it gets hot I know what to do. Minimize.

My first reaction to hearing GOing COMMANDO, however, was "Why is it called that?". I think of COMMANDO as having a military connotation, something along the lines of special forces action, maybe in a surprise raid to free hostages, or some such. How that translates into wearing as few clothes as possible to beat the heat beats me.

I did a little googling and found its practice is recommended because it helps prevent the nether regions from becoming excessively MOIST.

I would say when it gets hot, GO MINIMAL.

Unknown 5:45 PM  

Why can't I find a single definition of WAH that even remotely resembles the clue for 41A?

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

Are you even f===ing serious?

Unknown 6:13 PM  

Yes, I am f===ing serious. I wouldn't ask if I wasn't f===ing serious. And if you're going to take the time to reply, then why not just answer My f===ing question?

Unknown 6:27 PM  

The song is addressed TO Yente (which is how the script spells her name). And Jimmy Byrnes was a Member of the House and the Senate, an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Director of War Mobilization during WWII, and, alas, the racsist Governor of South Carolina who retained John W. Davis to oppose desegregation in Brown v. Board of Education. I don’t have a PhD but I read history. One of the few people to serve at the highest levels in each branch of the federal government.

GILL I. 6:35 PM  

@Calman's your f===Ing answer:
Urban Dictionary (that's the real serious Google one)...:
Boy: "I can't go to the mountains"
Girl: " WAH, I'll miss you."
Ergo: Temper tantrums.
You're f==-Ing welcome.

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

@Calman Snoffelevich - enter "wah wiktionary" into your search field & go to English, etymology 2, meaning 1.
It's often helpful to start with "wiktionary" following whatever word or phrase is mystifying; you get more reliable results than Urban Dictionary and more varied results than "meaning" or "definition" or naming specific dictionaries.

@Anon - it might surprise you how few results come up for "wah" outside of the Hindi-British usage which is still an interjection but has a completely different meaning from the US usage.

Moderate Democrat 6:40 PM  

@anon 11:09 a.m- Z willy nilly accuses people of being racists. I think he must be part of the “resistance”. It’s not working out too well. I wish the resistance and the alt-right would just go away.

Unknown 9:35 PM  

There is no mention at all of temper tantrums in your recommended resource.

JC66 9:42 PM  


If you ever had a two year old, you understand how tantrum = WAH.

Unknown 9:43 PM  

Perhaps, but there should be at least one entry on the Internet that defines WAH as such. I have yet to find one.

Unknown 9:49 PM  

It means like, *WAAAH*. The noise made when one is having a temper tantrum / a baby is crying

JC66 9:51 PM  


Sometimes, imagination is better than the internet.

Unknown 9:51 PM  

I am surprised there aren't more complaints from the SW corner. Rest of the puzzle fell pretty easily, but YENTE/RDA/NIBS/ELOI crossing BYRNES... Unsolvable for me, have never heard of a single one of those (sure, YENTA)

Unknown 9:57 PM  

WAHmbulance has been a phrase I've heard for a couple decades now, for when somebody is complaining. (wambulance also has several thousand votes on Urban Dictionary)

Wah has fewer votes, but still nearly a thousand:

Also on wiktionary:

You'll find hundreds of other results for waah, waaah, etc, including news articles:

Anonymous 10:08 PM  

I thought this puzzle would have a “percentage” theme, since the grid seems to have a big “percent” symbol.

Lars Hoel 10:50 PM  

“Nozze” is correct.

Anonymous 11:46 PM  

Me too, was starting to think I was the only one.

thefogman 11:23 AM  

I SPEEDILY raced through this one and thought I was a SHOOIN. But in the end I got burned by Mr. BYRNES. DOH! My ship ran aground in the SW corner (not the SSE). ITISSO sad that one little corner STOLE all my fun. And that's Truman. WAH!!! Oh TOSS it! This was EDAM good puzzle anyways. Caleb Madison ACESIT.

Burma Shave 12:24 PM  


Whether STRAIT or TRANSGENDER, they look at your BITS all askance:


spacecraft 1:49 PM  

My experience was the polar opposite of OFL's, as to 1a/38d. I needed every cross for a string of letters--BEATSBYDRE--that even after I saw it seemed nonsense until I parsed it correctly. Whereas my medical background made OSSICLE a cinch. Diff'rent strokes...

There's going to be no 100% PC way to clue 31a. Soon, I'll wager, it'll be un-PC to even SAY "TRANSGENDER." ITISSO. I had no problem with it. I do have one problem, not even mentioned in the blog: POLLER. This is another one of those Words that No One Ever Ever Says. It's "pollster." A POLLER is...a gondola driver, with an extra L.

Pretty good Friday fare, a little easier after getting out of the NW. (I also never heard of THEMETGALA; must be a New York thing, but at least the letter string makes sense) Fun fact: can't play POLO as a southpaw. Once you visualize it that makes perfect sense. Birdie.

P.S. I may be late to the party for a few days: guests sleeping in the computer room.

Diana,LIW 2:00 PM  

I knew it was some kinda thingy by DRE, but had a dnf cause I wasn't sure.

GINORMOUS YOGAPANTS - @Burma Shave - Har!!!

Haven't read all the comments, but I wouldn't touch the whole transgender issue.

Oh wow! Play DOH! That's what Homer's been saying...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

centralscrewtinizer 2:07 PM  

Burned by BYRNES. Had fDA and rIBS, thus BYfrES. Byfres looked fine after I had to TOSS Dulles.

rainforest 2:33 PM  

Fun puzzle, but the fun was delayed for many nanoseconds when I popped in Sennheiser, Saloon. and ECHOES right away. Saw the constructor's name and said "Oops". A lot of writing-over ensued. At least ECHOES was right, and I have heard of BEATS. I don't even know if Sennheisers are still being made.

I have no opinion about the clue/answer for 31A, but the intent was clear, at least to me.

I see COKE ZERO bubbled up again, but this time with the letters in the correct order.

Never heard STRAIT, singular, in that sense. STRAIT has to be a passage in the water, unless when constructing you find yourself in "dire strait". Har

Lotta stuff in this puzzle, even the kitchen SYNC. Good one.

rondo 2:41 PM  

I knew that TRANSGENDER would spark comments and we get: “Hooray, it’s in a puz”, or, “What a bad clue for it”. It is a word. In a word puzzle. Better than that phony CISGENDER from earlier this week. And @P-CO, as soon as you “qualify” yourself as a psychiatrist, you lose 90% of your credibility; a spurious “science” at best. Verb that.

I know of BEATSBYDRE since I am currently shopping for headphones. The last set still produces sound, but the plastic headband broke. No point in using two hands.

@spacey, I would say that you and OFL were POLLER opposites.

God bless whoever invented YOGAPANTS.

I’ll nominate one of the EMMAs (Stone as clued) as yeah baby for today.

It’s no coincidence that Will followed up today with COKEZERO and OLDSAW (a mislead, which many folks had first yesterday) and a __GENDER word from earlier in the week. He does that on purpose, you know. Don’t you? That’s part of being the editor. Overall a nice puz.

leftcoastTAM 6:46 PM  

First part of the day: Easy-medium for most of the puzzle. Later in the day, spent as much time on the NW as on the rest of the puzzle.

Needed to cheat on BEATSBYDRE, vaguely remembered after the cheat, in order to finish the NW corner. LEI was an unknown.

As a nit-pick, ECHOES, seemed less a "similar" opinion than the "same" opinion. "Me too", my first choice, seemed more apt.

Maybe Saturday's NW corner will be more penetrable?

leftcoastTAM 7:50 PM  

I'm increasingly appreciating Rex's brain and gut reactions to these puzzles. He often seems too critical, but he offers his own expert and personal views, and I respect and learn from them, whether I agree with them or not.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Don't quit your day job for comedy

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