1994 Denis Leary comedy / FRI 8-31-18 / White Buildings was his first collection of poetry / Country singer who uses her first two initials / Portrayer of Hulk in 2003 / Florid drapery fabrics / Downtown Julie Brown's former employer / Subject of Marie Curie's isolation

Friday, August 31, 2018

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium (5:36)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "THE REF" (55A: 1994 Denis Leary comedy) —
The Ref (Hostile Hostages in some countries) is a 1994 American black comedy film directed by Ted Demme, starring Denis LearyJudy Davis and Kevin Spacey. (wikipedia) 
(a ridiculously underrated movie; one of my favorite movies of the '90s; Christine Baranski can do no wrong; stupid Kevin Spacey had to go and ruin everything)
• • •

Hi there. I'm back from Minnesota, back from moving my daughter into Middlebrook Hall at the University of Minnesota, back from enjoying Minneapolis and the Minnesota State Fair, and back in town for the foreseeable future, finally (this was our fifth trip of the summer). Hadn't solved a puzzle in four days, then sat down to do the latest Liz Gorski Crossword Nation puzzle as a kind of warm-up, and then started in on this one. Felt all kinds of out-of-practice, and got stuck plenty, but still managed to come up with a slightly better-than-average time, so either this is a Medium difficulty puzzle or it was very very easy and I was just rusty. Take your pick. Had the most trouble, by far, with SHOCKS (I only just this second that the "installation" of the clue (1A: Garage installation) refers to the act performed on them by the mechanic (i.e. she *installs* the SHOCKS), not the physical arrangement of them in space inside of the garage (i.e. it's a garage, not a museum) ... OK, yeah, I'm a little rusty) ... and then STAY-AT-HOME DAD, which was shockingly hard for me to parse (12A: He works with kids). I had something like 10 letters in place and still couldn't make sense of it, because the letters I was missing were crucial. I had STA-ATHO-E-AD and my brain couldn't make a name, couldn't make anything out of it. Also, I had HYPED instead of AMPED for a bit at 7D: Jazzed, so that threw an errant "Y" in there. As you can see, the letter I needed was the "Y" from OYEZ, but ... ugh, OYEZ is awful fill *and* it has a "?" clue (3D: Court order?). Cardinal rule: don't give your terrible fill tricksy / hard "?" clues. It's the worst. It's so unsatisfying. It's barfsome. Solver enjoyment!!!!!! Just clue you stupid bad fill straight and move on. The rest of the puzzle is so good, why would you do this??? Anyway, OYEZ. Because bailiffs always say ... that ... I might've had RISE in there at one point, I don't know. Anyway, I did not say "o, yay" to OYEZ.

I was the first person to put TA-NEHISI COATES in a puzzle (3 years ago!), and, with apologies to everyone, I will never not mention this when I see his full name in a puzzle (51A: MacArthur Fellowship-winning author of "Between the World and Me"). It was a Buzzfeed crossword, back when that was a thing, and so only like 200 people saw it, but What Ever. First! My grid even had roughly the same shape as this one (largely because TA-NEHISI COATES is a 14 and they are notoriously difficult to manage, grid-wise—this little stagger maneuver, with stairstep black corners in the NW and SE, is one way to deal). Here was mine:
Look at that. Same. Place. In the grid! Ooh, and they both have END in them! Eeeeerie ... Anyway, coincidences can be kooky.

I thought you "desalinated" water—is DESALT the same thing (are there "DESALTing plants"?). DESALT just felt odd to me. As for OBOE d'amore, Ha, if I ever knew that was a thing, I sure forgot it today. "Slightly larger than the oboe, it has a less assertive and a more tranquil and serene tone, and is considered the alto of the oboe family," says wikipedia. Ok then. Had OUTDID before OUTRAN (19D: Surpassed), and needed every cross to parse FIVE-O (39D: Fuzz). That's slang for "police," btw, in case you didn't know, which you probably did, but you never know. First answer was EWE, last answer was FBI, which has a beautiful symmetry to it.

Glad to be back. See you tomorrow. And, oh yeah, so ... it's *possible* that my wife and I might be kinda sorta thinking about moving to Minneapolis, so ... just puttin' that out there. At least one of us will need a job, probably. OK, bye!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Thanks to Matthew and Rachel for covering for me Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, and thanks as always to Clare for doing her last-Tuesday-of-the-month write-up. Nice to know the blog's in capable hands when I'm away.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Patrick O'Connor 12:09 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, and enjoyed your blog of it, Rex. We missed you while you were in Minnesota, honest!

puzzlehoarder 12:18 AM  

Hey look, a puzzle made by a grown-up. Not a CHINTZy BUTTLOAD in sight. This was a very smooth enjoyable solve. The only hitch I had was putting in the T and the P of 51D. 54A had to be PASTY and 51D had to be TIP. Then I'd look at the first half of 51A and swear that something had to be wrong. COATES is a common name but I couldn't make sense of the rest.

The other long names were no problem. I even spelled GEHRY correctly on first try. After over five minutes I couldn't shake any of the downs and I figured it's a name so whatever it winds up being it is.

I must have really put some time into that SW corner because today's time was only 13 seconds faster than yesterday's and this felt much easier.

A clean grid today and a happier hoarder.

jae 12:27 AM  

Tough, actually mostly medium except for the bottom third. TANEHISICOATES was a major WOE. It is pretty much a random series of letters to me...so every cross was needed...FIVEO, BRIS, GEHRY...might be a problems for some solvers.

@Rex Me too for did before RAN.

Nice to have a challenge on Fri., liked it.

Harryp 12:52 AM  

Mr Gehry and Mr. Coates made this a DNF for me. Otherwise, a fair puzzle.

Unknown 1:29 AM  

My first entry was 17A: Can opener? I put "YES WE" and was dead set on it being correct... So that took me a bit to fix...

Dolgo 1:31 AM  

Two instruments. OBOE d'amore and viola d'amore. Mostly from the Batoque period. Names probably originated from "da Moor," as many classical instruments stem from Arabic culture. The modern oboe has a piercing tone (perhaps the reason it is used to tune the orchestra) so the larger OBOE d'amore is more mellow. I like it better. As a bassoonist, I sit behind thr oboes and get tickled at their characterization as "an Ill wind that nobody blows good." But you all probably heard that old joke already at least 50 times.

Tom R 1:33 AM  

Hard for me. Too many names I did not know so it turned into quite a slog.

Larry Gilstrap 1:37 AM  

I batted this thing around like a kitten with a bug. More than a few breaks in the action to check the baseball scores. It's that time of year. But, slow and steady wins the race, or so fable tells us.

Constructors drag out that HARD C gambit just enough to make it fun. Keep it that way! Pivoting into a confession of once having a mad crush on ALANIS Morissette, back when the M in MTV stood for Music.

Florida is a long way away, but a DALI museum is tempting. I've seen his magnificent The Last Supper hanging in a stairwell at a Smithsonian art museum. One of the few of his big oils I've seen.

Frank GEHRY designed a terrific building and seeing music there is a memorable experience. Audience members soon realize that the acoustics in that place are intimidating. Between movements one hears the Disney Cough, because folks have been stifling for minutes. Go see a show, but take an unwrapped lozenge.

Like OFL, SHOCKS clued as a garage installation wasn't forthcoming. But, my dad always took his cars to the Ford garage for maintenance; that's what he called the dealership service department. Nice memory!

Dolgo 1:41 AM  

PS I still maintain, Rex, that if you'd work up a little classical music expertise, you could shave one or two more minutes off your crossword puzzle solving time.

chefwen 2:27 AM  

Welcome home Rex. Missed ya.

Got off to a bad start thinking about your own home garage. The first thing I would install would be an opener, as in automatic. Growing up in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin we would have to get out of the car and open the dang thing manually, then slog through snow to get to the house. Brrr.

So, opener didn’t get me off to a very good start. Moved to the bottom and worked my way up. Slowly.

After we finally finished I was sure I had somehow messed up something around 51A so I Googled the guy and we had nothing wrong. Wow, interesting name. Five minutes from now the only thing I will remember is COATES.

Thomaso808 4:44 AM  

Same as @Harryp for me. DNF by GEHRY and COATES.

Simon David Sassoon 5:09 AM  

A Friday crossword that is solvable in under 7 minutes is disappointing. Where’s the challenge?

no one 5:58 AM  

Welcome back - though I did enjoy the others write up.

I once lived near Binghampton, at CU, and found the winters a challenge!! I cannot image winters in Minnesota; nationwide (record) low temps are common??

I do miss Minnesota blog poster, Prof George Barany's comments. He used to be a near daily poster, but I have not seen his post in several months!

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

Hahahahaha - make sure you visit in February before you move to Minneapolis!

Lewis 6:29 AM  

@rex -- Taste varies. OYEZ is a great word to me, nothing awful, and the clue even gave it even more shine.

I had to put on my work boots for this. The grid is spiffy clean and though I can't put my finger on why, it just has the stamp of quality. The cluing and some of the names provided some fine resistance. Truly, had I known more of the names -- and, in retrospect, all the names in this puzzle are cross-worthy -- I might have been able to switch those boots for a pair of flip-flops.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

At least one level above a hard Saturday. I struggled like mad, and that’s with ALANIS and ERIC BANA as gimmes, and getting WAR MOVIE off the W.

If I hadn’t known those … probably a major blank space DNF.

I have absolutely no idea where, if anywhere, the spaces go in TANEHISICOATES. That row needed every cross.

The Artist Formerly Known As... 7:15 AM  

Who wouldn’t think of moving to Minnesota after visiting our State Fair? The seed art competitions! The look-alike portraits carved into blocks of butter! Endless edibles, on a stick!

And, of course the carnival rides and rigged games of chance on the Midway. “Nello mezzo del cammin di nostra vita” and all that...

Rah Rah Rah for Ski U Mah

Good ol' Joe 7:25 AM  

The Dali Museum won't disappoint if you make the trek.

Teedmn 8:08 AM  

Like Rex, EWE was where I got my start on this one. Unlike Rex, more like @kitshef, I found this wandering into Saturday territory. I was convinced that working with kids, 12A, was going to involve herding goats. Things like K T OSLIN held me up whereas SPARE NO EXPENSE practically went in with no crosses.

The middle was easy enough but then I hitched on the bottom again. INTERNET music and reading TANEHI as leading to TAN[n]EHill kept me from filling that in as fast as it should have. Ta-Nehisi Coates is everywhere I look and I used to read his pieces in the NYT but it didn't come to me until the very end.

I liked "Makes new connections to, perhaps" as REWIRES. And I liked SWISS MADE's "Watch words" clue. GAS STOVE's "range" reference did not fool me today, nor did "Plot element?" Having W__M___IE at 48A had my brain going back to Marie Curie - Win MarIE is one thing I thought of. Finally I got MOTIF and FIVE O and those weird thoughts went away, whew.

Thanks, Peter Wentz, you always give me a great workout.

Teedmn 8:10 AM  

And Rex, you'd be welcome in Minnesota. I hope you enjoyed the State Fair. I do not go for the food, unlike many, because there's not a lot on offer for someone who doesn't eat meat or deep fried stuff, but the Creative Arts and the Fine Arts are worth the trip!

Dolgo 8:42 AM  

PPS I cried through most of "Between the World and Me."

QuasiMojo 8:42 AM  

Rex, we missed your inimitable voice!

Minneapolis is certainly a lot more fun and cultural than Binghamton. Go for it. Feet first.

Like TEEDMN, I had Internet Music before Radio since RADIUM had already been played.

OYEZ's was a fine clue, although the ? was unnecessary. That's what made it "cute."

Got off to a very rough start by putting in SCHMO for BUD. Dumb.

And I assumed that the author's name at the bottom ended in SOCRATES which really slowed me down.

Loved seeing and hearing HART CRANE. I have no idea who K. T. OSLIN is but she showed up here a few weeks (months?) ago and was easy to fill in. The Dali is indeed worth a visit, but time it with one of its featured traveling exhibits, such as the recent ones on Elsa Schiaparelli or Horst.

All in all, a pretty good Friday but stuff such as ID NUMBER, GAS STOVE, HARD C, DEFINES, LIE WITH (as clued) brought it down a peg.

I'm sure we're up for some BBQ themed puzzle or end of summer this Saturday or Sunday, or Monday. In the meantime I hope everyone enjoys his or her long Labor Day weekend. Although at my age, every weekend is long and a holiday.

TomAz 8:45 AM  

I must be having a bad week or something. I found this one slow going, and finished well over my average Friday.

I tried and tried and got almost no traction up top. I wound up filling this in pretty much starting from the bottom and working my way up. GEHRY was an automatic drop in for me, and TA NEHISI COATES was gettable after a few crosses. But I hereby solemnly swear that I have never in my life heard of ERIC BANA. I have just now googled him and I do not recognize him. He could be any generic actor as far as I can tell.

Had ADE for ICE for a while. OUTdid. I knew KT OSLIN but I couldn't remember her name; all I could think of was KD Lang. Didn't think I'd ever heard of STEVE HARVEY either but when I google him I recognize him, so I guess it was just the name.

Not sure why FIRE ANTS are 'colonial'. Cuz they live in colonies? Don't all ants? Like Rex I gagged on DESALT.

I dunno, it's hard to find something I liked in here. the clues on SWISS MADE and OTIS were pretty good, there's that. Like I said, I may just be having a bad week.

Hungry Mother 8:55 AM  

One H got me. Not a bad puzzle aside from that. DNF (again).

GILL I. 9:01 AM  

A poet, a country singer, a pop singer, a playwright, a toon name, an architect, artist, actor tv host, tv comedy a rite, a org. a candy, a movie and the name of someone Iv'e never hear of in my life but happens to have 7 convenient vowels just to screw me.
This was plain awful for me.
Had @chefwen's OPENER instead of SHOCKS and that set the mood. About the only thing I enjoyed was getting STAY AT HOME DAD and SPARE NO EXPENSE. The rest was gruesome. No joy, no fun, no nada.
I read a lot. Barnes and Noble is visited by moi at least one a month. I scan all the aisles for something interesting to read. I read lots and I scan lots and I pester the employees for info on new stuff. I'm sure Mr. TA-NEHISI COATES is a brilliant man. I bet I'd enjoy having a drink with him. Just don't put him in my $10.00 puzzle.
THE REF? Seriously. Anybody ever watch that? At least I knew GEHRY. (He's famous for crying out loud).
OXFAM be damned.

Nancy 9:04 AM  

This felt Saturday-hard to me and, while I was struggling everywhere, it felt sort of...unfair. But when I finally finished it, I realized that it was much, much fairer than I thought, the ERIC BANA/TANEHISI COATES cross notwithstanding. Look -- if the guy won a MacArthur Award, it behooves me to know his name and how to spell it, right? Don't feel the same about you, ERIC. Nor you, THE REF. Nor you, ALANIS. Nor you, KT OSLIN. (I wanted K.D. LAING, which Google is letting me know is spelled wrong.) Nor you, IKE, the half-candy brand. (Too many candy brands in a mere two days.) However, I realized after finishing that there were more clever and/or misleading clues perplexing me than there was PPP and trivia. So I respect the puzzle. Didn't love it, though.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

@Dolgo (1:21) -- Nope. Never heard the OBOE joke. It's a great joke. Thanks for telling it.

@Paul Bowden (1:29) -- I immediately thought YES WE CAN, too. Checked the crosses. Didn't like them. So, happily, I never wrote it in.

@jae (12:27)...and I gather Rex, too: I also had OUTDID instead of OUTRAN. Unhappily, I did write it in. It made an awful mess when I took it out.

@kitshef -- We're on the same page as to the Saturday toughness of this puzzle.

Suzie Q 9:21 AM  

Too many names crossing other names I did not know.
That's too bad because parts of this had some nice trickiness. But even some of the tricks were still proper names like Otis.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

"She" installed your shocks? Where is this utopian garage?

three of clubs 9:48 AM  

All professions are open to women now. For the near term, it makes sense to use feminine pronouns to advance the cause. Of course, it could be that teams of people do everything and mechanics install shocks in their garages --- but that is more vague and not as useful.

Maruchka 9:49 AM  

Liked this muchly. Thanks, Mr. Wentz.

A very fond memory from mid-70s motorcycle trip whilst stopping in Bozeman, MT: Tired, muddy, hungry - all assuaged at sweet diner run by local Cornishman. Can't recall the name, but do the delicious PASTY.

Z 10:16 AM  

On cluing crosswordese I flip depending on my mood between agreeing with Rex (it's crap - don't call attention to it with a cutesy clue) and @Lewis (we see it a lot so it's nice to see an inventive clue that livens up the solve). I liked the EWE, ICE, and FBI clues today. The other ese clues just sort of washed over me unnoticed. So the OYEZ clue didn't irk today. But if this had been a struggle my reaction might have been more Rexian.

Seriously people, you are not invited to the discussion of race in America if you don't know who TA-NEHISI COATES is. Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall - you at least know those names even if you haven't read Uncle Tom's Cabin or the supreme court arguments. TA-NEHISI COATES is in the same class. Better yet, go to the library and borrow Between the World and Me and take an hour to read it.

PPP* Quickie Analysis

Lots of plaints about the PPP already so I did a quick count. When PPP is comprised of some of the longer answers the raw numbers are a little iffy. Nevertheless, this puzzle comes in at a fair 20 out of 68, 29%. I do notice, though, that in the south we get three of four across answers crossed by another two. While the overall puzzle does not have high PPP, the south is packed.

*Pop Culture, Product names, and other Proper nouns

David 10:23 AM  

Folks who've never heard of Tanehisi Coates [my second answer today, first being Hart Crane -- I tend to skip around a lot in the beginning] should take a look at your grid Rex. I see what you did there with your symmetrical answer and it's really quite brilliant. Kudos to you.

burtonkd 10:26 AM  

@nancy we all have our knowledge gaps, but the ALANIS referenced album is 19th top seller of all time (between Saturday night fever and Beatles blue album. Mike and Ike have been around since 1940.

Someone else can tell me when I should have heard of KTOSLIN.
I don’t regularly follow country, but heard a promotion at a beach this summer and thought I was hearing hip hop. Definitely not your grandpa’s country...

THE REF - I must agree with wiki entry that it is very enjoyable, tastes may vary.

TANEHISICOATES has been all over the media, at least here in NYC. Remembering every vowel another thing...

CHINTZES is a word I feel like I should know better by now

jberg 10:48 AM  

I know who TA-NEHISI COATES is, I’ve read articles by him, but I couldn’t parse it, even once I had all the crosses. Fortunately the T was locked in by TIP, so I didn’t change it to jANE.

All the wrong turns Rex made, plus Saul before ROAR for “Bellow” - beautiful use of deceptive capitalization.

@Dolgo,, thanks for the explanation! I always thought it was the viola d’amore Because you held it in your lap, but this makes more sense for the OBOE.

roscoe88 10:53 AM  

finally a 2 hour friday. The clues were right on. great puzzle to start the long weekend.

GILL I. 10:56 AM  

@Z..."You are not invited to the discussions of racism in America...." That's a pretty broad statement.
I Googled "TNC" - his name du blog - because, frankly, I've never heard of him. He's a national correspondent for "The Atlantic" a periodical I've never ever read. I read our left wing Sacramento Bee every single day, and yet I don't recall his name.
He certainly sounds interesting and I'm glad he made it in the NYT. But not knowing a name or how it's spelled doesn't warrant being thrown out of any discussion.

Carola 11:00 AM  

Nice puzzle! I got off to an unpromising start with a guess at a kid-related "goat" crossing the architectural high point "gable." Soon enough, SHE, ODE, and OXFAM revealed EXPENSE, and from then on, it was a very enjoyable top-to-bottom solve. Loved the cluing today.

Also loved writing in OBOE d'amore. If you have a few minutes, please check out this aria from Bach's St. John Passion, where flute and said oboe twine around the soprano's voice. ""Zerfließe mein Herze" ("Dissolve, my heart, in floods of tears..."). Such a lovely melancholy tone.

gfrpeace 11:13 AM  

The DALI museum in St. Pete's is a huge modern building. The entire first floor is a restaurant and a bookstore. The second floor might have a special exhibition space and an auditorium but nothing was going on in them when I was there. All the art is on the first floor, and it is nice, and well displayed. But one does get the impression that they had more money to spend than was good for them, especially if one drives around a bit of the rest of St. Pete and sees acre a\upon acre of grungy trailer parks.

On the other hand, the Marie Curie museum in Warsaw is in the back of a convenience store selling beer and cheese and sausage and little statues of Chopin.

Malsdemare 11:16 AM  

EWE! I did not know a single one of the names (well, I got ALANIS once I had almost all the crosses). But TANEHISICOATES, ERICBANA, STEVE, GEHRY, and so on??? Not a snowball’s chance. I did kinda, sorta figure that Pandora would be the music streaming service, but I had so much blank space everywhere that getting INTERNETRADIO was a very late achievement. I got the top half after a bit of a struggle but slammed to a halt in the south, never to really get rolling again.

I’m not slamming the puzzle; just saying it wasn’t much fun for me. When I haven’t a prayer of filling in names because they are totally outside my ken, frustration looms and that’s it. Sigh!

Molson 11:28 AM  

Minneapolis is great! You should move here. Then you could help restart the Minnesota Crossword Puzzle Competition which didn't happen this year.

Pete 11:28 AM  

@Z - "not invited" is a tad harsh - maybe "haven't been attending"? That being said, last night I called it a day with GE[?]RY and TANE[?]ISICOATES sitting there taunting me. I didn't go to the bookshelves because I don't do that.

jb129 11:32 AM  

I knew Gehry but not TANEHISICOATES - Oh well - tomorrow's another day which probably will be harder.

Malsdemare 11:34 AM  

Well, I, too, had OUTdid and yeswe before OUTRAN AND HARDC. I also wanted the kid clue to relate to goatherding or some such thing but loved STAYATHOMEDAD. I will accept that I should know Tanehisi Coates but I don't, and like another blogger, I read a ton, including deeply obscure stuff like Sir Richard Burton's book on travels in the middle east. I will get "Between the world and me," but meanwhile, please don't exclude me from discussions of racism in America.

@anonymous 9:25 my mechanic Denise is probably the person who'd install my shocks; her hubby Ed might help. Or not; she seems to be the busier of the two in their itty-bitty shop in itty-bitty Monticello, Illinois.

kitshef 11:43 AM  

I am proud to have no idea what FITB means.

bookmark 11:43 AM  

Coates' Between the World and Me won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2015 and was on the NYT Best Seller list for many weeks.

Joe Bleaux 11:49 AM  

IMHO, your grandpa's country music was the real deal. The Hallmark cotton candy you hear these days is called "Hick Hop" in Nashville, where a day job in the rhinestone mines will grind away whatever soul an aspiring songwriter brings to town.

Kath320 11:53 AM  

Down San Diego way, the water purification plants are referred to as 'de-sals.'

pmdm 12:01 PM  

Z: If you haven't already, read Jeff Chen's comments over at XWordInfo which explain why people are complaining about todays PPP. And your comment about race is well taken. One should be educated before opening up one's mouth on a subject.

There were a number of different oboes in use during the baroque era. In his first Church Canata and his Christmas Oratorio, Bach uses the Oboe da Caccia whose appearance resembles a hunting horn. (It hadn't yet been rediscovered when Harnoncourt recorded the first Church Cantata back around 1970 or so.) The Oboe d'amore is akin to an alto oboe, which modernized turns out to be the English Horn. I believe Dvorak uses it in the slow movement of his last symphony (From the New World). Very mellow.

While I gave up with the obscure names, I praise the puzzle for its lack of unfamiliar (to me) hip slang. Thank you, Peter. Now you need to challenge yourself to do early week puzzles and complete the cycle.

Dolgo: I once heard Heinz Holliger during a Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart concert playing a concerto by Mozart. His first movement cadenza was so magnificent the audience spontaneous gasped at the cadenza's conclusion. When he played the oboe, it hardly sounded piercing to me. Ah, when you're great, you're great. By the way, one of the bassoonists of the NY Philharmonic is on record calling Bruckner one of the worst composers for the bassoon because one usually cannot here the bassoon parts that are obscured by (usually) the horn writing. Do you agree?

Lionel K 12:08 PM  

7A AM I GO. How's that bud? And putting BRIS in there is very wrong, child mutilation on whatever day is unacceptable.

puzzlehoarder 12:23 PM  

@Gill I., Your 10:56 comment is spot on. I had no idea who TA-NEHISI COATES was either. He's just not that famous. Your comments, like those of so many other of the women who comment here, are what make this blog worth visiting. So often the men come across as pompous wind bags. Believe it or not I try not to be that way myself.

UnDesaltedOldSalt 12:26 PM  

@gfrpeace Sounds like you must have visited St Petersburg a while ago. The city has changed a lot in the last five years. Besides trailer parks, there are several other excellent museums including the Holocaust Museum (currently hosting a Bill Graham, the legendary rock promoter, exhibit, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the brand-new James Museum of Western Art that is a sparkling jewel downtown, designed by the architect who did the Dali. An expansive new Folk arts museum is set to open early next year. And if you don't like museums there are dozens of first-rate restaurants, European-style bistros, IPA bars and hipster cafes.

Rex Parker 12:31 PM  

Thanks, man

Unknown 12:45 PM  

Very easy Friday for me, and well under my Wednesday and Thursday times this week.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is essential. Between the World and Me is great, We Were Eight Years in Power stunning. Anon above me sounds like he has some WHITE PRIVILEGE (h/t to Rex) issues to work out. Don’t call grown men lads like “boy” hasn’t been a favorite racist epithet for black men since time immemorial.

@lionel k Circumsicion without consent is probably wrong (though exceedingly common in the US). Putting the word BRIS in a puzzle is not; it’s a thing and it’s sacred to many. AMIGO means friend in Spanish.

Big Steve 46 12:50 PM  

It seems like there is a level beneath which a "Blank Blank Comedy" should not fall - and I think Dennis Leary (?) falls well under that limbo bar. I mean, does anyone rush out to see the latest "Dennis Leary" movie?

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Not too exciting a puzzle, but a few hogh points. INTERNETRADIO was a good adjacent stack for COATES. GEHRY was a good reminder of this great architect. GASSTOVE is a carbon-emitting device that can often be replaced by a solar stove. EWE is getting boring. RADIUM and Curie is a cautionary tale.

bookmark 12:58 PM  

OOPS! Coates won the National Book Award for NONFICTION in 2015.

Doc John 1:16 PM  

Not quite sure why OYEZ is so distasteful to you. It's a perfectly good word, used every day.

GHarris 1:20 PM  

Total disaster for me. Don’t get the logic of the clue for 48a war movie.. Yeah I know bombs and war are intertwined. still? Are war movies often flops?

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

I agree with Z about Coates. To that I would add that those who don’t know who Glenn Loury is should also be disinvited from the discussion about race. It’s important to hear all sides of an argument.

Masked and Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Top half was tolerable easy. Kinda like other solvers here, started out with CHE, then EWE. Knew KTOSLIN, but not OXFAM.
Bottom half was sorta hard, due to several mysterious people names & THEREF.

Very respectable litter of 12 weejects; staff pick: SHE [which is a "tongue twister", for some reason unknown to M&A. Better tongue-twister: TANEHISICOATES.]

Minnesota: Cool place. Lived there for a few years, as a kyd. Had a lotta fun, buildin ginormous snow forts, in the winter. Did get a might cold, waitin for them school buses early in the mornin, tho. Happenin place: Childhood home is now a church parkin lot. Mansion estate across the street is now a K-Mart.
What the Hey, go for it, @RP.

DALI Museum: Been there, a coupla years ago. Wonderful museum and town of St. Pete. Boats all over the place. Has lotsa ibises pokin around in the grassy areas. Giant mustache sculpture thingy, plus a limp timepiece park bench, in museum's garden. Rodeo.

Grid: Luvly jaws of themelessness black squares, in the NW & SE corners. Ditto, for @RP-Grid.
@RP-Grid: TOOLERS. har

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Wentz.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

JC66 1:47 PM  


"SHE sells sea shells..."

OISK 2:00 PM  

I would not call Orthodox Judaism, a "sick moral system," despite the mandated circumcision. But the inclusion of "bris" in the puzzle did not call for the outrage one often sees on this blog, for issues unrelated to the crossword puzzle. OYEZ, vay is mere....

Tough puzzle for me. Didn't know Alanis, or KTOLSIN, or the use of "five-o" to mean the fuzz...Was lucky to have a vague memory that it was Eric Bana, and that it is Gehry and not Geary, so I correctly filled in the "taneh" on Tanehisicoates, which is completely unfamiliar. @Z...I guess then, I am not invited to discussions of race in America. Fine with me - I would certainly decline such invitations.

Saturday difficulty, as far as I am concerned, but happy to have finished.

Masked and Anonymous 2:02 PM  

@JC66: ahar!
Sooo … they meant to say "tongue twister's pronoun", huh?

Thanx for clearin that SHE up,

Denser Than Snot M&A

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

Frank Gehry is a hack.

Marty 2:56 PM  

I so wanted YESWE as well :(

'merican in Paris 3:12 PM  

My experience was very similar to that of @Malsdemare at 11:28 AM. I knew of GEHRY, but first entered GErRY. And got ALANIS and DALI after crosses filled in half the letters. But after 40 minutes of struggle, I gave up and started Googling. I had never heard of THC, but clearly I need to read him. Nor of THE REF, nor ERIC BANA.

I, too, cringed at DESALT. One DESALTs salted cod. But I have never heard the term used in connection with potable water. That term is DESALinize.

Like @chefwen, I worked up from the bottom and the northern tier was the last to fall. Had "goat ..." (kids; get it?) long before "STAY ...". And, like @Rex, I had assumed that the installation in the garage was a thing, so had cHOCKS (the things that hold the wheels in place so that the car doesn't roll backwards or forwards.

Oh well. At least Mrs. 'mericans will be able to help me with Saturday's.

SteveHikes 3:17 PM  

Rant about Coates’ alleged obscurity suggests you haven’t paid too much attrntion to Black Lives Matter and all the related issues. His book was probably the most publicized of all writing related to cops killing blacks.

SteveHikes 3:19 PM  

Good comments on Coates.

Girish 3:48 PM  

@David 10:23 AM Although i’m with Mr. Rowe 1:33 AM (too many names I did not know), part of the reason i do crosswords is to learn something. Between the world and me is us, so, i’m off to the used bookstore. Rex, if you move to Minnesota, will you still write? But i understand (i followed my daughter to Portland.) 😀

Puzzled Peter 4:13 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap, 1:37:
You must see this Dali. It's awe-inspiring. First time I saw it at the Met, I was transfixed for what seemed like hours.


Z 4:16 PM  

@pmdm - Hm, I found Chen's observations less than illuminating. I had no clue on HART CRANE, Frank GEHRY was not a WOE but hardly someone I think about often, and ERIC BANA is pure double ese. I do not buy that any single entry has to be known by much more than 25% of the solving audience. It's all about the quantity. And the overall quantity just isn't that high. HOWEVER - as I said earlier, the south is an issue. There are 38 squares in the bottom three rows. 33 are PPP across and of the five that aren't two are PPP from the downs. If you look at the comments - that is where the complaints are coming from. In general, this puzzle is fine, but I understand why the south is causing people problems.

On a separate note - Hyperbole - A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect.

@Whoever mentioned Glenn Loury - I wonder if he is embarrassed to sound so much like Bill Cosby? I know I would be.

GILL I. 4:29 PM  

@Z. Be careful of what you assume your embellishments may convey. Maybe if I look you in the eye and see a twinkle or a sneer I can guess what you're up to.
Sometimes, very nice people come across as being intellectual elitist. You do know that that is about as welcoming as a turd on a birthday cake?

Space Is Deep 4:55 PM  

Natticked on the TA-NEHISI COATES / GEHRY crossing. Never heard of either of them. Guessed GERRY, so only one mistake. I'll take it. Harder than recent Friday's for me.

Whatsername 6:12 PM  

It’s nice to have Rex back, and I’m forever grateful for a GIF-free writeup after this nauseating week.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

"And yet this great wink of eternity of rimless floods, unfettered leewardings,
Samite sheeted and processioned where her vast undinal belly moonward bends.
Laughing, the wrapt inflections of our love" . You have to love the wordsmith aspect of Hart Crane's poetry

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

There are two beautiful paintings by Salvador Dali mentioned in this thread, both from his post-World War II religious period. They are sometimes confused with each other. They are:

The Sacrament of the Last Supper, 1955
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
(This is indeed in a stairwell, and it will take your breath away when you come around the corner and you face it)

Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), 1954
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
(One of Dali's best known works)

h/t Larry Gilstrap 1:47AM & Puzzled Peter 4:13 PM

Unknown 7:26 PM  

Coates and Crane my ass. That is all

Twangster 8:16 PM  

I initially had AMERI for "can opener."

John Hoffman 8:22 PM  

I could not understand FIVEO for Fuzz. Figured it was slang for FIVEOclock shadow. Oh brother...

JC66 8:47 PM  

@John Hoffman

Think Hawaii-FIVE-O

Z 9:19 PM  

@Gill I - Hmmm - probably guilty as charged. But then, I'm commenting on the NYTX so I'm guessing we are all in the same birthday cake turd position. I'm also well aware of the hazards of plain text, so rather than point out that I repeatedly chide anyone who thinks any particular work should be read by everybody, I just left a hopefully gentle reminder that perhaps I was being intentionally over-the-top. And @Pete is, of course, correct. Lots of people just don't think a lot about race, busy leading their own lives.

Anonymous 9:39 PM  

Anybody else offended by Coates? His awful rant against cops and firemen working on 911 is pretty grim stuff.
I'm with Cornell West who says Coates is overwrought and underwhelming.

kitshef 11:29 PM  

Anon 1:23. You say it’s important to hear all sides, then disinvite the 99+% of the people in the world who don’t know Ta-Nehisi Coates or Glenn Loury, or both.

Dolgo 1:18 AM  

I've never played Bruckner, so I can't comment. Listening to him, though, I have trouble distinguishing some of the instruments since he's in the Germanic wall-of-dound tradition.

Holliger is (was?) great as far as oboes go. He developed a technique of circular breathing used by many oboists today.

old timer 12:54 PM  

FIVE O meaning cops almost certainly comes from that old TV show, Hawaii FIVE O

Ben 1:43 PM  

I did too! Sí se puede!

burtonkd 3:48 PM  

My half-assed internet research tells me about police being called 5-oh:

While Hawaii 5–0 may have established the vernacular, the common slang came from the patrol cars of the 80's. The mustang had the 5.0 logo and a very distinctive sound.

Another commenter saw a movie from the 30's referring to police as 5-0, but couldn't find any further references.

@joebleaux, I agree with you about older country. I was just noting my surprise at where the genre has gone.

Atram007 11:10 PM  

you were missed. really.

thefogman 10:15 AM  

I too had hyPED before AMPED. It took longer to complete the top than the bottom section. But OXFAM begat SPARENOEXPENSE and the rest fell like dominoes. Alas, I had CHINTsES/OYEs instead of CHINTZES/OYEZ and that was my only mistake. A little uneven in spots but not bad overall.

Burma Shave 11:30 AM  


That BABE’S one who SHOCKS and BLINDS a guy,
SHE’s SWISSMADE, in a sense.


spacecraft 11:49 AM  

I had this thing all filled in--all the downs in the SW in place--and was left with a totally nonsensical string of letters in 51-across. Something, obviously, had to be wrong, but I didn't know how to fix it so I left it and came here to see how many squares of DNF I had.


That TANEHISICOATES thing was RIGHT????? Who in the WORLD would name their kid that?? So...I "finished" it--but it's not my fault. If I didn't trust my downs I'd never have gotten it. Not exactly a household name.

The rest of it was end-week hard, so triumph points accrue. HARTCRANE helped in the NW, though I hate those HARD/SOFT/SILENT-letter entries. A pox on them all!

New fact learned (besides the existence of 51-a): the OBOE d'amore. Certainly a fresh way to clue an old standby. I'd like to LIEWITH DOD ALANIS; OK, that wasn't so nice. But the phrase was there. Birdie.

centralscrewtinizer 1:09 PM  

So tough. Got through lots of sneaky stuff only to crash and burn in the SE. Big mess down there. I confuse Stephen with Hart too often, but the former has a nice little poem that makes me think of what some folks here seem to think of OFL.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”

rainforest 2:39 PM  

Dang. Another DNF because the architect's last name was not GErRY. Two names I didn't know crossing - a true Natick for me. What the heck is with TANEHISI anyway? I must look him/her up.

Apart from that one square, I found this on the easy side of medium. I did have a funny/awkward time in the middle West where the museum's subject was GOLF and the cooler was therefore FAN. Silly me. Ink fight ensued.

I hate it when one square DEFINES the entire puzzle. However, except for that blank in my sphere of knowledge, this was a pretty good Friday effort. I can still hold my head high. "Blank in sphere of knowledge" - is that a mixed metaphor?

El Dingo 4:28 PM  

Well, huh! So “Hawaii 5-0” was a reference to the cops?! Truly arcane argot, that.

An early stage of development might be FETal, but FETUS is not a stage, it’s an organism going through a stage.

I’m rather surprised that so many found OXFAM a challenge. Perhaps an entire generation might be defined by those who recall walking for Biafra or the (George Harrison) Concert for Bangladesh.

rondo 4:41 PM  

Exactly what @spacey said about TANEHISICOATES, his bio says that among other things, he writes comic books. No wonder OFL likes him. And I thought WARMOVIE and GASSTOVE were kinda green-paintish. One write-over having OYEs before CHINTZES came along.

Is the IDNUMBER related to the ego number?

Musical 80s Ladies with KTOSLIN and mention of Julie Brown, but neither of those BABES gets the yeah today. It’s ALANIS.

Gotta SMIRK if you finished this puz. END.

rondo 4:48 PM  

BTW, my favorite record store, The Electric FETUS this year celebrated 50 years in business. I've only been going there since 1976.

Diana,LIW 5:04 PM  

Nae, nae, nae.

TANE.... and FIVE O???? Nae.

That's all.


Diana, Lady-in-waiting for a puzzle to use known names

leftcoastTAM 9:52 PM  

Picked away at this one on and off all late afternoon. Wine and ice cream AMPED me up when I needed it.

Mini-theme of artists of different genres and ranks was fun to assemble: Bernard SHAW, HART CRANE, K.T. OSLIN,Salvatore DALI, ERIC BANA, Frank GEHRY and, most challenging, spelling TA-NEHISI COATES. And I must add to this illustrious group my favorite toon star, LISA Simpson.

Sorry to say, dnf'd with one cheat: Looked up MEET to replace sate, which helped finish off the NE.

Enjoyed tinkering my way through this one.

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