Eponymous Austrian physicist who studied waves / FRI 9-7-18 / Fictional figure whose name means whole dweller / Brad's gal in Rocky Horror picture show / cheap beer option for short / Part of central american grove / Psychologist who coined word synchronicity / Comfy safari digs / London burial place of John Donne Horatio Nelson

Friday, September 7, 2018

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for me—slowest time in four+ months) (8:15)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: WET CELL (37D: Battery type) —
  1. a primary electric cell in which the electrolyte is a liquid. 
  1. [electrolyte = 
    1. a liquid or gel that contains ions and can be decomposed by electrolysis, e.g., that present in a battery.
        the ionized or ionizable constituents of a living cell, blood, or other organic matter.] (google)
• • •

Just one of those grids that had nothing to do with me. No pleasure for me anywhere, no cluing that entertained or seemed clever. I think the grid is just fine, but the solving experience just wasn't pleasant. A lot of trivia, and a lot of short stuff, and then longer answers that were solid but just sorta ... sat there. Also the idea that a TOW is a [Fate worse than a ticket] is pretty stupid. I mean, yes, you'd rather get a ticket than have your car be towed, but I think of a TOW as a vital thing, a helpful thing, a thing you *need* when your car breaks down, so the cutesyish clue was just annoying. And nothing clever ever really landed. Even an original answer like GO-ROUND had this fussy clue and was thus really hard to come up with (7D: One of a series of attempts). Also, GO-ROUNDs can be actual events, not just "attempts" at events. M-W has it as "one of a series of recurring actions or events"; what is "attempts" even doing in this clue? Weird. Some kind of TREE ... was a not-fun answer to try to come up with. I don't know. There's nothing special in this grid, nothing snazzy or new or ... it's just blah to me. Again, it's not a weak grid, it's just an old and boring-seeming grid. To me. Again, I'm in super "IMO" mode because I believe decent people can disagree on this one. I mean, if you're the kind of person who knows and enjoys the term TENT BED (???) (35D: Comfry safari digs), maybe you were on cloud nine.

All my trouble came in the highly sequestered NW and SE corners. I have marked my printed puzzle in green ink, and almost all the ink currently resides in those regions. I guessed DISC straight away (1A: LP, e.g.) but couldn't confirm any of the letters. Got RES and ELLE and still had no idea about any of the Downs, and was pretty sure one of the first three answers I got must be wrong. Just couldn't come up with IN A HOLE (had the IN and then, nada). A colon might denote EYES. I mean, yes, but I was never going to get that. A villain could have a SCAR, but so could anyone who had been cut (I had LEER here) (5D: Mark of a villain, maybe). My first known actual right answers were, weirdly, ACETIC / OTT. Tried to back into the long Acrosses, but TREE was zero help, and then -L-CK at the end of 14A: Getting paid, say (ON THE CLOCK) had me thinking about the money, thus ... IN THE BLACK. Now, for the whole stretch of puzzle from NW to SE, the only issues I had were with VOLE (I somehow wrote in MOLE) (18A: Field mouse) and VENT (I understandably wrote in RANT) (49A: Go on a tweetstorm, say). Then came the SE, where I couldn't get HOBBIT (39D: Fictional figure whose name means "hole dweller") because "figure" implies a specific figure, not a type. If the word had been, say, "creature," I think HOBBIT would've come faster. PBR was brutal because how would I know it's "cheap," I've never bought one (also, for those of you who are like 'wtf is that?', it's Pabst Blue Ribbon). What is "broomball"? Unnecessarily hyperspecific clue for something as basic as RINK (45D: Venue for broomball). TENT BED, again, ridiculous. WET CELL, I didn't really know what that was, despite having heard of dry cell / WET CELL re: batteries before. It sounds gross. O'REILLY was never (John) Stewart's "sparring partner" in any regular sense of the word, i.e they didn't share a show; he was a recurring guest, but tons of guests "recurred" over the years. Ugh. Be accurate, puzzle (36D: Stewart's onetime TV sparring partner). Cluing matter, this cluing was (to me) bad. The only reliable day of the week fails to deliver. Sad.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Patrick O'Connor 12:13 AM  

Thanks for hedging your negative reaction to this puzzle with the IMO's. I liked this puzzle quite a bit, although I also found it hard, and agree that to have to back into PAPAYATREE when all you have is the tree is not too inspiring. But what I did like about the puzzle was the "high-count-Scrabble" letters in it --I don't care about pangrams, don't know if this is one, but I enjoy answers with K's and Q's and J's and CH's --LAUNCHPADS and LUNCHMONEY and ONTHECLOCK --they are all enjoyable, even if they aren't newcomers to the language.

Mike in Mountain View 12:31 AM  

Totally different experience for me than for @Rex. This was one of my fastest Fridays, and I thought it was a fun puzzle without crosswordese (other than OTT and APPS and maybe IDYL) or a bunch of names from popular culture (those aren't popular with me) other than one I knew (damn it, JANET) and one I had to get from crosses (SHAUN).

Great clue on QUICKSAND.

Thanks, Josh.

Jyqm 12:33 AM  

Rex, the TOW in this puzzle isn’t the necessary aid when you break down, but a punishment for parking in the wrong place. Having your car impounded is certainly a fate worse than a ticket.

puzzlehoarder 12:37 AM  

Very easy Friday. DISC and DOPPLER went right in and it was a sign of things to come. I liked the symmetry of the first guess entries LAUNCHPAD and ABOMINABLE being supported by the three space entries PBR and MIA in case I had any lingering doubts.

The only real slow down I ran into was getting into the SW. I couldn't come up with BOUT off the _UT. Ammit who? He eats shit for all I know. SHAUN could have been anything. I had the CHECK and SHOPS of 38A and 41A but spun my wheels on the first halves.

I conceded that I wasn't getting in that way. Instead I threw in EARP, RANT and EDGE. Inspite of the write over HEARING and BALDPATE then gave the whole corner away.

That SE corner went down like a Monday. Fall Out Boy is the kind of music my radio station plays.

Harryp 12:37 AM  

My biggest problem was the Souteast, with 35Across TOW. I wanted DUI or DWI for the longest time. Otherwise an easy Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

Giant editing error on this one. Check out the clue for 30-across, then look at 7-down again.

Harryp 12:46 AM  

Now that I look at it, a DUI is a ticket, and Bilious Oreilly was a John Stewart foil. He did like to lean on people, but we didn't know about the females he leaned on at that time

Z 12:56 AM  

I could have written this post, iN THE bLaCK, mOLE, raNT - yep every one of my mistakes. No clue on WET CELL until the very end, no clue on which Stewart (even after I finally got O’REILLY I didn’t make The Daily Show connection). Needed EY-S before I got the emoticon connection. I did chuckle at the notion of “cheap” PBR. I think it might finally be passé instead of hip, but for awhile there it was very hip so actually sometimes not particularly cheap. Otherwise my solve was very similar to Rex’s right down to my slowest Friday in ages (albeit, nearly five times slower than Rex).

I agree with Rex that the cluing didn’t scintillate. DOPPLER and the DOPPLER effect deserve better than an eponymous factoid. PAPAYA TREE receives the green paint treatment. SPELL CHECK and HEAD SHOP got smiles from me, but the overall feel wasn’t. “nice clue,” it was more, “Oh, if you say so.” WET CELL, Okay. If you say so. Foul -> ABOMINABLE? Oh? If you say so. TENT BED? Okay, if you say so. I think Knapp is usually challenging for me, but I think I normally like his puzzles more than this offering and I think it is mostly due to the cluing.

Johnny 1:49 AM  

To equate MIA with AWOL is questionable, even if these are used as slang and even if it is just a puzzle, and even if "so to speak" is tacked on.

Both are specific terms from the military, with MIA (Missing in Action) denoting a service member who is unaccounted for during or after a combat operation. The service member could be dead in a ditch, captured, crashed into the ocean, blown into a trillion pieces, or even ran away; his fate is currently unknown. AWOL (Absent Without Leave) is a non-combat absence of a soldier or airman; technically, being ten minutes late for a roll call is AWOL (the Navy uses "UA").

MIA has an enormous emotional context that AWOL does not, which is perhaps the biggest reason for not equating them.

Larry Gilstrap 1:56 AM  

So much to talk about, but look at the time! I'm pretty sure I stayed at the ARIA and it was sans casino, and gotcha is the dumbest game in any town. Roo?

Heads up here! Erase the phrase "chrome dome" from your vocabulary because no man takes that lightly. I have a beautiful head of hair for a man of my age, but don't ever think that male pattern baldness is a minor ailment that guys can laugh off. Call a guy short and bald and he will follow you to the parking lot and beat your A**.

Love ST. PAUL'S. One of the most historic cathedrals on this planet. London is Disneyland for adults.

Spent some serious coinage on a sewer pipe impacted by a ROOT. Oak, not a PAPAYA TREE. My guy fixed a nagging problem. Worth every penny.

I've been thinking about my years teaching junior high school in the 70s and how cool those kids were. On Saturday night they would flock to the mall cinema with bread and god knows what other props to interact with "The Rocky Horror Show" and, sure enough, on Monday they let me hear about it. I was fascinated by that culture. Any time someone said "Brad", the audience intoned "Assh*le." Does anybody remember what was said after JANET?

The most annoying thing in this comment section is when folks lecture OFL. Move on! Find a drunken uncle and preach temperance. He likes to GOOSE the crowd and rarely looks at us. So don't waste my time and yours. Dutch Uncle here.

chefwen 2:04 AM  

Just the fact that we were able to finish a Friday without a cheat made it enjoyable.

Liked the clueing for QUICK SAND, LUNCH MONEY and SPELL CHECK. My follicly challenged husband got BALD PATE, he wasn’t smiling when he filled it in.

PBR was definitely our beer of choice when we were young and broke.

Liked it. Hope we don’t get filleted tomorrow.

jae 2:06 AM  

Tough mostly because I got hung up in the NW. WOEs... SHAUN, SOULS and ELLE as clued (wanted home), and me too for rant and dui. Liked it more than @Rex did. Nice to have a challenging Fri.

Brookboy 2:19 AM  

Wasn’t my fastest nor my favorite, but I thought it was more elegant than Rex did. It had a lot of challenging long answers and very little short fill. And PBR was clued just fine; if Rex doesn’t know that PBR is, um, cheap, then he hasn’t been paying attention. Good puzzle, nothing at all wrong with it.

Marc M. 2:26 AM  

Had BANANATREE for a while, which, unfortunately, worked with some of the downs. PBR was a given for me once I had P. Doubt if in the history of man a PBR was ever sipped from a PILSNER glass. Whenever I hear PBR, I always think of Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet, espousing the superiority of Pabst Blue Ribbon over Heineken. Liked HEADSHOPS, LUNCHMONEY, and TOW gave me all sorts of fits. A++++ puzzle, would do again.

chefwen 2:56 AM  

We used to have a lot of VOLES on our property in SoCal, drove me crazy as I did all of the gardening back then. I would scoop kitty poop out of the sand boxes and drop them down their little hidey holes. They quickly packed up and moved to the neighbors, problem solved.

Jeffrey 4:08 AM  

Car batteries are usually wet cell batteries. They’re not all that gross unless they leak and get battery acid on you.

Chris 6:48 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap Aria has always had a casino. You might be thinking of Vdara, the standalone hotel right next door

I rather liked this puzzle, myself. DOPPLER was an instaget, which set up the NE to fall fairly easily. On;y sticking point was the SW, where I had raNT instead of VENT, which impeded my progress for a bit.

Dave 6:55 AM  

Geeze! Ya gotta end your write-up with "sad"????

kodak jenkins 6:59 AM  

This was one of my favorite puzzles ever until Rex convinced me it was hard and stupid and gross.

Huge props for:
-hardly any bad fill
-hardly any acronyms
-hardly any abbreviations
-absolutely no obscure government acronyms
-hardly any pop culture
-no Disney princesses!

The puzzle is chock full of great words and phrases. Chunky, fun to say things like QUICKSAND, LUNCHMONEY, SPELLCHECK, SKETCHBOOK, LAUNCHPADS and HEADSHOPS.

The difficulty was perfect where I was almost resigned to give up when BANANATREE wasn't getting it done.

-INAHOLE is not as good as INTHEHOLE
-TENTBED seems wrong (but I'm no safari expert)

Happy camper here, with or without a TENTBED

kitshef 7:31 AM  

Top half went in lickety-split. Bottom half absolutely nothing came easy (except JANET). And half the things I did feel comfortable enough to put in were wrong (SwathE before SHEAVE, picklED before SPEARED, raNT before VENT, play before DOCS, clOT before ROOT, dui/dwi before TOW.

I’m pretty sure TENT BED is not a thing – just a term the constructor made up when he got stuck.

Why is a SCAR a mark of a villain? Mark of a victim, sure. Mark of a hero, I’d buy. Mark of a villain – nah.

Irene 7:46 AM  

Come on Rex. You didn't like it because it was hard for you, right? There were plenty of pleasures and aha! moments her for me. And I agree with the person who said it gets a star for having no Disney princesses!

John Crowe 8:02 AM  

Wrote in doppler and disc and was off to the races. Good puzzle.

Hungry Mother 8:33 AM  

Slogged this one out. Luckily, I had plenty of time to work this through, due to a rest day between a very hot and humid 5K last night and a 10 miler tomorrow morning. Once the grid was filled, it looked pretty straightforward.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

O’Reilly/we’re cross made proper use of a diacritical mark. Rex misunderstood the tow answer. Hey, it happens but no need to get angry about it.

Hungry Mother 8:51 AM  

We enjoyed our luxurious TENTBEDs when my wife and I were on safari in southern Africa a couple of years ago. The beds were surrounded by mosquito nets and had soft pillows. Highly recommended. Photos and writeup available on my website.

When I was underage drinking at the Jersey Shore in my teens, I always ordered a PBR as my first beer because I figured no underage drinker would order one of those. It always worked.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

O’Reilly and Stewart squared off in a highly publicized debate in October 2012 - sparring partners for sure. Ugh - be accurate Rex.

Suzie Q 8:57 AM  

I thought this was full of Friday fun. Lots of good misdirection and satisfying in the end.
Thinking of food right from the start for 40D made me proud of myself to get wasabi. Put that with some pickled ginger on my plate and I'd eat almost anything.
Wake me up in time for the sea race, please. I'll be in my tent bed.

Guest 8:59 AM  

I second Johnny's comment. AWOL is a TERRIBLE clue for MIA. My reaction was "they can't possibly mean MIA here," and I resisted putting it in...

Steve Shernicoff 9:06 AM  

I worked for this one. But I enjoyed it. There were few guesses needed just a methodical building for the crosses.

Nancy 9:10 AM  

I struggled through 3/4 of this puzzle, but found it fair -- if very, very tough. The other 1/4 in the SE I found very, very unfair, and I DNF.

What's worse than a ticket (35A)? I had DUI, instead of TOW. I don't drive and TOW never occurred to me. But that's hardly the worst of the SE corner. You have "Brad's gal" crossing "Fall Out Boy's song" crossing "Stewart's TV sparring partner". Who are all these people, Josh???? Nor have I ever heard of a WET CELL, btw. And what's a TENT BED? Do you mean bed inside a tent? (A real bed or a sleeping bag?) Or could it be a bed made out of a tent? Please explain, Josh.

Crunchy, yes, but a great deal about this puzzle that I hated.

Andrew Heinegg 9:12 AM  

I didn't care much for this particular puzzle. I had a really hard time with it at furst, typical for a Friday. Gradually, I made my way through it but, like Rex, I didn't find it entertaining or informative.

My biggest nit to pick is the tow/ticket business. If your car is ordered towed by the constabulary, you get a ticket and a tow. Ergo, the tow is not a worse alternative. If you get towed, you also have the ticket to pay. Just sayin'.

GILL I. 9:16 AM  

An enjoyable hour. Had only two entries to begin with. OTT and IPSE. I always go looking for crosswordese. I lucked out on those two.
DISC was tentative because I'm always scared on a Friday. BANANA instead of PAPAYA. AH, of course, DOPPLER studies waves and so the P made me erase banana. What fruit starts with P and is incredibly juicy and delicious?
I had only one Google which, for me on a Friday, is an accomplishment. I had no idea that Ammit ate SOULS and never heard of SHAUN the Sheep. Without SHAUN, I just couldn't get started in the SW. DUI instead of TOW held me up in the SE. Thanks to NT BED I figured out the TENT and voila, TOW it is.....
TENT BED is a real thing, folks. I like the drapery ones with the white flowy sides. They have a lot of them in some of Cabo's ritzy hotels.
I liked this one a lot and didn't feel bored at all. QUICK SAND was primo but LUNCH MONEY made me sad. Luckily, I was never bullied in school. Being tall and wearing my tom boy badge of honor, had its merits. I only knew one bully in junior high and he never asked for LUNCH MONEY. He just liked to push little guys around. My bestie Elena Ortiz and I took care of the little creep. I ended up in detention and enjoyed every moment of it. Fun times.
Drink Scotch and eat STEAK.

JOHN X 9:19 AM  

This was pretty easy for a Friday. I liked it, though.

"Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing VOLE."

QuasiMojo 9:19 AM  

Struggled with this one, which I like. Threw in DULCIMER (even tho it didn't fit for the first down, then bungled IN A HOLE (I know the expression "in THE hole" only) and St PAUL's looked like SCHMALL's for a time. SKETCH PADS before BOOK, which helped me later with LAUNCH PADS. I had to really use my noggin' to finish the whole thing without Google (wanted PLAY there instead of DOCS as I had PORT before DORY. I was trying to be smart and figured you fished out of the port side of the boat. I'm not up on places to fish as I only did it once and that was from a canoe.) I was clueless about the Vegas hotel and casino since I've never been there and hope I never have to go. But ARIA seemed a perfectly apt name for a showy glitzy sort of place. Had (Otto) RANK before JUNG. I also had NO idea who O'REILLY was because I kept thinking of Patrick STEWART since the NYT is so Star-Trek friendly. And yet, I managed to get 'er done. I enjoyed it. Yes, even this old curmurdgeon can be amused by thorny, chewy, tricky fill. Loved the clue for SPELL CHECK which really is ABOMINABLE.

As for TOW, I recently saw one in action. I was at an art show, came out of the gallery and walked past the private parking lot of the building next door. Suddenly a tow truck swept in, parked or stood next to a car, threw on a chained hook or a latch or whatever those things are called, pressed a button, and boom! the car was wrenched out and gone within seconds. Like a dentist performing a tooth extraction. It all took less than a minute. I pitied the poor sucker but admired the skill of the merciless tow trucker. He did not have a SCAR.

Kdy 9:30 AM  

Also, speaking of bad clues, a dory is not a place.

Sir Hillary 9:34 AM  

I liked this one just fine and didn't find it abnormally hard (or easy) for a Friday.

Agree with today's first commenter that the Scrabbly-ness of the grid is a real plus.

Clue for QUICKSAND is a winner, but some of the others tried too hard to be clever. Clue for SPELLCHECK, I'm looking at you.

Most bizarre clue is using Fall Out Boy to clue WERE. Talk about random. BTW, I'm probably imagining this, but Fall Out Boy seems to make its way into clues more often than it should. This always makes me chuckle, because the band's bassist and primary songwriter is named Pete Wentz, which is also the name of a fairly frequent NYT constructor.

Interesting comment above from @Johnny. I have always felt a twinge of discomfort when I refer to the misplacement or lack of something as it being MIA (my car keys, my common sense, sunny weather, M. Night Shyamalan's movie quality for the last 15 years -- anything really). I feel guilty that I am equating a trivial circumstance with the seriousness of the term as it applies to military personnel. Maybe I'm overthinking things -- that's a trait that is rarely missing from me -- but I felt that same twinge when I wrote in MIA this morning.

Amelia 9:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shawn 9:44 AM  

I enjoyed this one. Good difficulty and some nice word play overall. I was stuck in the NE only because I stupidly kept reading 17A as “groove” rather than “grove.” I guess not enough caffeine had kicked in at that point or it was the musician in me seeing things.

Cheerio 9:52 AM  

This was DNF for me. But it was great. I'd like to see more puzzles that are challenging in this way. It has a different type of hardness from a Saturday challenge. I could not get DOPPLER/PAPAYA, but once I saw the answer, I thought: DOH! That is, for me, a well-constructed puzzle. WET CELL was an "aha" moment. I have heard of dry cells, so of course, there should be wet cells.Struggled with HEADSHOPS, but again, once I saw the answer, I knew I should have known it. In fact, I lived directly over a HEADSHOP for a few enjoyable years on Telegraph Avenue. If only I had put in VENT instead of RANT. I had KMART, but it was a bridge too far to reach DORY and ADVISORY. If only I had put in VOLE instead of MOLE...

gruffed 9:55 AM  

Fastest Friday ever, go figure. PBR reminded me of the baseball spoonerism (that's the beer that made Mel Famey walk us).

Cheerio 9:56 AM  

Also: Colon = EYES was awesome. :-)

newspaperguy 10:02 AM  

Rex, would you rather come back from a nice dinner and find a ticket on the windshield, or realize that your vehicle had been towed (after you spend an hour doubting yourself about where you actually parked)? An apology to the constructor is warranted.

pabloinnh 10:11 AM  

I liked this one a lot, even if STPAULS, which should have been obvious to me especially, was about the last thing to fall. Had DRY before WET, but that was an easy fix. Agree with GILL I that PBR is abominable, but would rather have a nice cold IPA after mowing our great big lawn than a scotch on the rocks.

Hope the solve for fun/solve for speed controversy is done. We all solve these for enjoyment, I hope, and I'm all in favor of fun where you find it. Otters get it, is how I see it.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Could be. Where's Bill? He's in the DORY.

Adam Lipkin 10:15 AM  

There were plenty of things I didn't like here, but the cluing for EYES and SPELLCHECK alone made me pretty happy. DORY, though, was brutal for me.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Irene is right. Stewart made O'Reilly his pet project for a good while.
I get the feeling Binghamton may not be as cosmopolitan as Mr. Sharp would have us believe. PBR is so famous as a cheap beer in big cities that it's cliché.

Quicksand, sheave, abominable, pilsner, head shop, even vole,diving bell and idyll are pretty damn great words to see in a puzzle.

This one was superb, sublime and best of all, it(more or less) bested OFL. Thanks a million Mr. Knapp; this is the way to end the work week.

michiganman 10:27 AM  


The whole baldness thing is interesting. Many men have much angst over hair loss. Some men shave their heads. I am 71, partially bald, 5' 2". It's OK by me. It's who I am and what my genes dictated. It's a lot better than some nasty disease. There's a great Seinfeld episode on this topic. Elaine's boyfriend, Kurt, keeps a shaved head and Elaine convinces him to grow his hair out. He is later shocked when he discovers that he's been losing his hair during the time he shaved his head. "The Little Jerry" is the episode name.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  


Unknown 10:31 AM  

I live in Boston, so I almost exclusively think about towing in relation to street cleaning day annoyance, rather than a helpful aid after a breakdown... :)

Tom 10:31 AM  

Dutch Uncle. Once the cheapest (and worst) beer on the planet. Came in quarts, tasted like pi$$. But affordable on a college student's budget!

Maruchka 10:47 AM  

@Johnny - I agree on MIA. Not even close. Felt waay below the belt.

Please never, ever repeat this clue, dear constructors/editors.

gfrpeace 10:48 AM  

PAPAYATREE: My dad taught organic chemistry. Such people have specialized jokes. Little Chinese boy moves to Mexico, discovers papayas, eats them and eats them, until there was nothing left of him but a little pile of rice. The punch line: Papayin hydrolyzes protein, but not starch.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Let it go man, it's gone. Rex doesn't know ANYTHING mechanical. I mean anything. ( I'm using battery as part of the mechanical world even though it's chemically based, because so many applications are mechanical). Anyway, Rex doesn't know tools, cars, plumbing, or anything you'd expect a comic book reader to possess.

Wm. C. 10:53 AM  

@Tom10:31 --

Wow, a real connoiseur who knows what pi$$ tastes like! ;-)

Unknown 11:02 AM  

Very gentlemanly response! I however thought that equating AWOL and MIA was repulsive. Obviously the constructor has no awareness of the number of MIAs still missing in Korea and Vietnam and the massive and ongoing efforts to retrieve them.

Matthew G. 11:05 AM  

Echoing Oscar Madison, I could not believe the NYT would clue MIA via {AWOL}, and I actively resisted putting in that entry until the crosses forced me to accept that yes, they had really done that.

A person who is AWOL left their post.

A person who is MIA was lost in combat.

To equate the two terms is horrifying.

TomAz 11:05 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. yes there was some tricky stuff (TOW) but it's a Friday, that's OK. Got 1A immediately, just wondering if it was going to be a C or a K at the end. Very little else was that obvious -- ALT, OTT, JANET -- but it was all gettable. had DOck instead of DORY, raNT instead of VENT, ACidIC instead of ACETIC.. but all were fixed fairly quickly with the crosses.

Anyone else have cHASER instead of PHASER?

@Larry Gilstrap .. yes I remember what was shouted after JANET. I won't repeat it here.

JC66 11:12 AM  


Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Actually Matt,

A person who is MIA is missing. Maybe lost. Maybe not.
folks getting themselves in a twist about MIA are tying themselves in a knot over nothing. MIA has transcende the world of the military and entered the lexicon as a general initialism for something bnot present.

No one railed against Hail Mary for a desperation pass a couple of days ago. And rightly not. It WAS offensive 40 years when Staubach coined it, but the taint has been lifted by the years of usage. People don't even realize what they're saying. Hell I doubt many of the folks who use the term could recite the prayer.
Similarly with MIA. To call a soldier who is AWOL and MIA WOULD be offensive; to call a CEO who missed a shareholder's meeting MIA is to be current.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

War is horrifying. Equating AWOL & MIA is an unfortunate mistake that should have been avoided. I see the reason for being upset.

Unknown 11:28 AM  

One of my fastest Fridays ever! Used to play broomball while drinking PBR in undergrad so loved those! Learned a new Latin phrase to boot - all around a great puzzle! Just the right about of challenge and guessing.

TubaDon 11:32 AM  

     Zoomed thorugh the top, came to a screeching halt south of the equator even though I had LAUNCH___ since I neglected the plural ending on the clue. Needed a hint from DW to get started again. I agree with the carps about MIA and TENTBED.

Banana Diaquiri 11:47 AM  

Geeze! Ya gotta end your write-up with "sad"????

OFL is channeling, for whatever reason, Dear Leader. I, for one, never expected that to happen. Perhaps WoodStein are writing a book about his nefarious dealings with the Failing New York Times?

GHarris 11:48 AM  

Enormous satisfaction in working out almost the entire puzzle which I found very challenging and enjoyable. Had a dnf because I couldn’t get away from dry cell which I was certain was correct and so never came up with tow and settled for Janey as the girl ‘s name.

JOHN X 11:52 AM  

I'm going to agree with everyone who found the use of MIA together with AWOL to be pretty bad.

AWOL and MIA are fine by themselves, even as slang. Today's clue specifically equated them, which they most certainly are not.

It's like saying that victims of a school shooting were TARDY for their next class. Context is everything.

Banana Diaquiri 11:58 AM  

PBR is so famous as a cheap beer in big cities that it's cliché.

well... it was good beer back when it was actually Pabst. since then, rot gut. the epitome of "buy, cheapen, sell out".

Tow Be or Not Tow Be 12:09 PM  

Say, I speak not only for myself but for my fellow tow truck drivers and lady tow truck drivers such as they are when I say how highly insulted we are over the clue regarding the tow industry as a whole. Tow truck drivers are considered by many to be the knights of the road. I once had a woman weep with joy at the service I provided and I know she appreciated the tow job also.

I like how this guy Rexword writes. He adds that Sad on the end just like a Trump tweet. T'other day he hooked I don't know on the end of a sentence. That's the kinda fine details I like in writing which I notice our president does a lot.

Btw as the kids say, tow is a verb. We in the industry never say "a tow."

Anoa Bob 12:14 PM  

I used to subscribe to a publication of the CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) called the Nutrition Action Healthletter. It's still available these days online. It is non-profit, has zero advertising and provides an objective, science-based evaluation of nutritional matters.

One issue ranked all the fruits that are commonly available in most supermarkets by the amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc., that they provide. The one that came out on top? The fruit of the PAPAYA TREE.

A DORY is a small, rugged boat, not a place. It's also part of the name of a sailboat builder in Taunton, MA in the 70s-80s, called Cape Dory. I have a 1979 Cape Dory 28, a small, rugged sailboat.

Dry cell batteries aren't really dry, are they? Aren't they somewhat MOIST?

Nam vet here joining those who REPROVE equating MIA with AWOL.

roscoe88 12:20 PM  

Reasonably difficult but found the SW impossible to get right. Also, PBR meant nothing to me.

Z 12:22 PM  

Yes, AWOL and MIA are used to mean the same thing outside of a military context. That doesn’t make the pairing any less offensive. I’ll go one step further, anyone poo-poohing people pointing out that it is exceedingly offensive and disrespectful to actual MIAs and those who care about them is an ass. You do not get to tell others whether or not to be offended.

@Banana Diaquiri- I’m not at all certain this is the actual intent, but the use of “Sad” by the not criminally insane is often to minimize or contradict what one just said. Sort of a self-deprecating variant of “Not!” Not as complete a contradiction as “Not!” but definitely a signifier that maybe the reader/listener should take what was just said with a grain of salt. I think the line, “I think the grid is just fine, but the solving experience just wasn't pleasant,” supports this interpretation. Of course, that is also my reaction (the grid seems pretty clean but somehow it just didn’t work for me) so maybe I’m just projecting my own reaction onto Rex.

Super Quickie PPP

Banana Diaquiri 12:27 PM  


(while listening to the Kenyan ex-president): those who laugh last didn't get it.

Carola 12:40 PM  

Challenging for me - I needed to resort to the go-away-and-come-back-with-new-eyes techique in order to finish ON THE CLOCK up top and TOW, WET CELL, and TENT BED down in the corner.

I really liked the puzzle - as others have said, there's something so satisfying about all those CH, SH, CK combinations, with that especially nice cross of LAUNCH and LUNCH.

Thanks, @Josh Knapp, for the pleasurable workout

ArtO 12:51 PM  

I got PBR off LAUNCHPAD for "cheap beer option" but figured very few folks would have any idea of what it stood for. While I did, I thought it particularly nasty. Pabst Blue Ribbon pretty much a bygone era brand.

A rare near finish for Friday for me so I'm happy...especially with the Challenging rating. SOULS and SHAUN a total Natic. Got SHEAVE but "bundle up"??? GOROUND for "one of a series of attempts" ? Gimme a break!

Masked and Anonymous 12:53 PM  

MIA and AWOL are definitely whole different things, in the military. As re-purposed, slang civilian terms outside the military, they may be closer to the same kinda thing.

I'd rather get a ticket than have my car TOWed off. Especially since I could *also* get a ticket, if the police were who had it TOWed.

Toughie clues. Examples:
* SOULS = {What the Egyptian deity Ammit devoured}. M&A had S???? and reasoned SOUPS or SALAD.
* PAPAYATREE = {Part of a Central American grove}. M&A went with BANANATREE, off the visible ???A?ATREE part. M&A luvsa good BANANA with his cinnamon roll.
* SAID = {Spit out}. M&A went with VOID, with the ??ID showin.
* EYES = {What a colon might denote}. E??? didn't bring much to mind. But then M&A ain't much of an emoji user.
… And those weren't even the ?-clues. Lost precious nanoseconds.


staff weeject picks: MIA & TOW. Mainly becuz of the fur that flew, over their clues.
best Ow de Sperations: BALDPATE, maybe. TENTBED, for sure.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Knapp. themelessthUmbsUp.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


old timer 12:54 PM  

I've been on a deluxe (or deluxish) safari. Part of the time, in hotels which were far from memorable. The other part, out in the wild sleeping in TENT BEDS. That was the best! Plus, our Kenyan or Tanzanian guides doubled as excellent cooks.

Phil 12:58 PM  

Another big thumbs down for MIA=AWOL
can someone tell me what event or incident would make those the same meaning, even if rarely so, be honest.

You think, i can imagine Rex outrage to something and come on here and see he had no qualms about it. Happens often to me. We’re not quite on the same DOPPLER apparently.

I had DOA before TOW. Seemed accurate regarding a moving violation.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

That MIA and AWOL are used interchangeably is exactly why its not offensive.
Also, I didn't say you cant get offended, It just that you're thin-skinned if you do get offended.

JC66 1:04 PM  


Today's "GRUNTZ" link provided the completed puzzle. I'm not a speed solver, but this made for an all-time record for. me ;-)

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

I'm still waiting for various other names besides Miata or Eunos.

Blackbird 1:20 PM  

Unusually easy Friday puzzle for me. No Googling. When I got stuck, I do what I always do. I do something else, then return, and, somehow, things fall into place. Loved the clueing. Clever, fresh. I like a puzzle that doesn't depend on someone's "cultural frame of reference", where answers don't have to be part of what's in your wheelhouse. I'm 76 years old, I know a lot of the "old stuff" that Rex seems to complain about, and I don't keep up with the "latest" popular music or TV series or movie and TV stars. Clueing for head shops, phasers, spellcheck, on the clock, diving bell really worked.

The not in my wheelhouse stuff came easily, through crosses and also through "this must be the obvious answer". Re 40 A, never heard of Fall Out Boy, or his music, but the "we're" in "Sugar, We're Going Down" was obvious, due to the "w" of 40 D "wasabi". Never saw, never wanted to see, the 40 A "Rocky Horror Picture Show", but the answer was obvious with the crosses, especially since, as a psychoanalyst, the 40 D answer "Jung" for the clue "psychologist who coined the word 'synchronicity' " was totally in my wheelhouse. 46 A, clued "Hotel/casino on the Vegas Strip", was a mystery easily solved. I didn't know, I didn't care, I hate gambling, but the crosses came immediately. 32 A also was a mystery. Didn't know or care about "Wallace and Gromit" (although I recognized the phrase"), let alone a spin-off, but the answer was easy to figure out, with only a few crosses.

Enjoyable puzzle. Thank you, Josh Knapp, for this puzzle!

Banana Diaquiri 1:22 PM  

I'm still waiting for various other names besides Miata or Eunos.

it's called wikipedia. so, you've changed your complaint??

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

When I was a Girl Scout we slept in tent beds...
but we called them cots.

Teedmn 1:35 PM  

A slow solve was my "fate" for trying to be more clever than I am. I kept making assumptions that turned out to be wrong. For instance, off the first PA of PAPAYA TREE, I assumed 17A would be some forest in PAnama. I didn't write it in but it meant that no downs in that area went in until I gave up that thought.

I was focused on words that start with CL also - wanted "clog" at 16A and clOT for ROOT at 34A. I actually put the latter into the grid and then figured 34D would be "chasten". C___ROVE looked mighty odd. BALD head before PATE. Reading "safari" for 35D but thinking Sahara, so I put int duNe___ before TENT BED. Guessing a DWI or DUI would be much worse than a ticket at 35A. Olives and fish are both some kind of "salted". And on. And on.

JANET went in right off the JUNG. I have never seen "Rocky Horror Picture Show" but not due to a lack of opportunity. My college friends were into it completely, dressing up and heading out for the midnight showing along with their surgical gloves, toilet paper, toast, etc. They pressured me no end to join them but I successfully resisted. But I was inevitably exposed to "Damnit, Janet" and the Time Warp; now I can enjoy the benefits, crossword-wise, without having had to live through the movie, which is nice.

I really liked seeing GO-ROUND come into view. With just GORO___ in place, I was sure that one had to be wrong, so when LUNCH MONEY pointed the way, I said "aah". With _UIC_ in at 23A, I thought only jUICe would work there, but I was wrong. I could go on about all of the things that I got easily vs. the things I struggled over, but suffice it to say (too late, I can hear you all thinking), I really liked this puzzle. Thanks, Josh Knapp!

Cassieopia 1:42 PM  

@kodak 6:59 - YES

Unknown 1:44 PM  

Fate worse than a ticket was a great clue for "tow". In California at least we have "no parking zones" enhanced as "tow away zones" during rush hours.
Plus many tricky answers, not only "vent" rather than "rant" but "papaya" rather than (Central American) "banana" trees.

JC66 1:53 PM  


Cassieopia 1:54 PM  

Fantastic puzzle, one of the best in a long time! No google, no cheat Friday so although my time was over average, on average I cheat or Google for Fridays.

Tons of aha moments - ontheclock, earp, yanet - er, I mean janet...Doppler being my favorite. I can’t emphasize enough how truly delightful I found this puzzle and how much pleasure the solving process gave me, except...

...AWOL=MIA. Booooooooo. I am from the Vietnam War era where we wore MIA bracelets and flew MIA flags, in memory of those that might otherwise be forgotten. So perhaps my visceral repugnance is more generational than logical, but the clueing seemed tone deaf at least and ABOMINABLE at the worst.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

I am wondering why a few are claiming a DORY is not a place from which to fish.
You can fish from a pier or the shore. Are those places?
You can fish from a boat. Is that not a place?
You see where I'm going....

Information on dories is varied and contradictory. This is because there are many different styles of dories and boatbuilders have adapted the dory for local conditions.

The name dory usually brings to mind the Grand Banks Dory, with its straight sides, flat bottom, narrow transom and characteristic straight bow. Relatively Light and simple to build and stackable they were used as fishing dinghies.

Unknown 2:12 PM  

Actually, O’Reilly and Stewart had a debate special called the “Rumble in the Air Conditioned Auditorium” which is what I believe the clue may have been referring to.

Banana Diaquiri 2:22 PM  

You can fish from a boat. Is that not a place?

no. not, at least according to the dictionary. there're 29 definitions for the noun forms. all refer to a fixed location in a fixed environment. one can have a place *in/on* a boat in that within the closed environment of the boat one can point to a place, but the boat doesn't meat the definition; it's not fixed within the sea. neither does the DORY; it's location is not fixed either. one could refer to one's seat in the DORY, but the clue didn't do that.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

Methinks Rex grouses because of his relatively slow time. My times (never measured) are very long because I do them for content not speed. Had the NW left blank, but 1A and 14A yielded DOPPLER and that took care of that.

Masked and Anonymous 2:48 PM  

I do think the clue for MIA was poorly chosen, even if there is some slang parlance [which I don't know about] where MIA and AWOL might clue each other. Sorta like describin MIA Farrow with a clue that offers up WOODY as her alias.

@JC66: re: *gruntz*: Huh. Good to know. As of a coupla days ago, xwordinfo.chen no longer will come up on my old-ish computer, so I can no longer analyze the runts there. [Burps out a "can't get a secure connection" error.] So I desk-checked the fill on my Across-Lite app, instead.

I think this might fix it. Try this version:


Sorry for the inconveniences, as am I.

M&A Help Desk

oldactor 2:56 PM  

Phone call;


"Hi, where are you?'

"No place"

"What do you mean?"

"I'm in a Dory".

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

excellent puzzle, tough crowd, as usual. dory, mia, miata redux.

enjoyed the vent about tent bed and the person who said "just call 'em cots." too true.

poor rex. i guess he never heard of a bed tent. no tent pole, rex? j/k


JC66 3:20 PM  


Yep, the later link worked fine.

Thank U, not only for today, but for all the RUNTPUZs you provide(d). I'm a big fan and always look forward to solving them.

mmorgan 3:46 PM  

I thought this was terrific. And very challenging, and fair, and producing many satisfying "ah-ha's" when I'd get something. Loved many clues. Left BANANA in there forever but when I finally took it out and figured out DOPPLER, the brutal NW fell quickly. Terrific!

Monty Boy 4:01 PM  

I enjoyed this one a lot, especially after the giant DNF yesterday (for me). Some tough words, but fair crosses for the most part. The SE was the last to fall. Finished without any lookups, an achievement for me on any Fri/Sat. My solve is about like Kodak Jenkins @ 659.

I really wanted 38A to be autocorect (misspell intended) but SPELLCHECK is probably better. Didn't know Walace and Gromit or their sheep, SHAUN. I also had dryCELL and that held me up for a while. Nice to see ARIA clued as something other than opera related.

With respect to the CHROMEDOME discussion: I finally gave up my combover (which was not as bad as some I see on capitol hill). I gave in to my inner bald and now have a thin buzz. I guess I'm a fuzz dome, headed toward chrome. I have saved a lot on hairspray.

I don't know what a STEAK skirt (or skirt STEAK) is. Any help?

RooMonster 4:17 PM  

@Larry 1:56
Hey there! Aria does have a casino. Maybe you were across the back area at Vdara, which doesn't have a casino.
Never heard of Gotcha, though I don't hang out in the casinos. Anything like the games in Vegas Vacation? (Pick a number I'm thinking of was the funniest.)


frankbirthdaycake 5:02 PM  

This was a fun puzzle for me. I do not care that many of the clues and answers neither apply to my daily life nor are flawlessly presented. I accept that all crossword puzzles are not perfect, and the world does not revolve around me and my experiences.

Crimson Devil 5:19 PM  

Yes, all would be amazed and proud of lengths to which military has gone and continues to go in order to account for our MIAs.

Z 5:35 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri- Definition one covers it. Can you “locate” a DORY? Yes. Hence, it is a “location,”or what one might call a “place.”

Crimson Devil 5:54 PM  

Ah, PBR, ma first, but not last. Venerable sponsor of Friday Night Fights featuring Sugar Ray Robinson, Carl “BoBo” Olson, Ricky Marciano et al. Fond memories of watching with my Dad.
Good Fri puz.

Big Steve 46 5:59 PM  

Actually, nothing wrong with PBR beer - a cheap, everyday American beer, all of which are pretty much the same, and served nice and cold on a hot day, just fine. Nothing more stultifyingly boring and insufferable than beer snobs. Just drink it and shut up - if some one skillfully pasted a "craft beer" label on the Pabst can, none of you could tell the difference. Don't know much about OFL's drinking habits but that he has no idea what a PBR is doesn't at all surprise me.

pmdm 6:25 PM  

Boy, I found this one tough - real tough. My wife replace her stupid cell phone with a smart iPhone, and it took me the better part of the day trying to figure it out with the minimal instructions you get with it, so after filling in less that half the letters I quit the puzzle. I'm not complaining about the entries. Maybe I will when I review the answer key, but I haven't yet.

Loved today's comments, but don't have time to add to them.

Z: liked your analysis yesteday, and I thought of a few more factors, but don't have the time to get into that now. It's about those who comment and not the blog master, so it won't involve your taboo (for now) topic. Your comment revolving around SASS did make me smile.

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

I’m surprised that you didn’t go off on a rant about bald shaming. I wouldn’t have felt offended about the chrome dome clue had I not heard you stick up for every other occasionally mocked “minority” on the planet. Now that the harmless reference is relevant to me, I’m kind of disappointed not to hear you leap to the defense of people who through no fault of their own endure countless wisecracks about their shiny heads.

newspaperguy 8:44 PM  

@Anonymous Big Steve 46...Each to her own, and if you like cold dishwater, the popular American beers are perfect. But to suggest people who like craft beer wouldn't know them from a PBR is utter nonsense. There are people with little or no physical sense of taste, but then they probably wouldn't be paying a premium for their suds.

Joe 8:45 PM  

I agree/disagree with Rex. I thought this was hard, but I enjoyed it. Other than DORY, there were no clues that required you to be a crossword specialist to solve.

Space Is Deep 8:49 PM  

Wow. I, like many others, try to predict how Rex will rate the puzzle. I predicted easy or easy/medium at the hardest. I was way off. I loved the clue for TOW, a perfect tough clue foe a Friday.

retired guy 8:55 PM  

Cluing MIA as "AWOL," is horrendous, even with the "so to speak" added on, for all the reasons others have mentioned.

What this indicates to me is that the world inhabited by those who work at the NYT is totally cut off from any familiarity whatsoever with the world of the military. Otherwise, they would never suggest that a grunt whose corpse may be still rotting in a Vietnamese swamp is in any way "AWOL."

Unknown 10:54 PM  

The puzzle author equated MIA with AWOL. Leaving without permission is not the same as being nowhere to be found after a battle. But, we children of MIAs have to forgive him, because it’s clear he didn’t know.

Anonymous 11:07 PM  

@Monty Boy. Skirt steak is a cheaper cut of beef often used for fajitas

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

@Anon 11:07 You clearly haven't been meat shopping recently, say the past decade or so. Skirt steak is anything but cheap:

RIB STEAK $12.90 lb.
SHORT RIBS $6.39 lb.
SKIRT STEAK $10.75 lb. [First price quotes I found on the web]

It's one of the most flavorful of meats, and if you marinate it properly it's nearly perfect.

Banana Diaquiri 7:44 AM  

Skirt steak is anything but cheap:

no one is likely to see this, but cheap, as in price, is the result of supply/demand. with the rise of Mexican foods/restaurant popularity, such cuts generate increased demand. the fact that marination is required to get it a tad better than shoe leather is the admission that it's "cheap". in quality.

Burma Shave 12:00 PM  


For a PBR or Miller GO’ROUND the block,


BS2 12:38 PM  


“He CHASTE Smurfette”, SAID the prophet,
“DOC’S a dwarf but not a HOBBIT.”


spacecraft 12:54 PM  

This must be Don't Bother Reading OFL Week. Dude, if puzzles like this bore you, maybe you should retire the Rex Parker persona. Your precious nanoseconds would be much better spent playing with your dogs.

Surprisingly, I didn't think it was all that uber-challenging. Sure, it was Friday-tough; I'd maybe call it medium-challenging. There was a moment there in the NW when all I had was ONTHECLOCK (how apropos, vis-à-vis OFL!). Then the EYES occurred, leading to PAPAYATREE, to good ol' Professor DOPPLER--and the beam shooter turned out to be a PHASER! Wouldn't ya know Star Trek would come to the rescue!

None of the rest of it gave me much grief; I find TENTBED a bit odd. Isn't that a COT?? I guess if you've got a lot of money & are not INAHOLE, you can afford a bigger tent and a full-out king size.

DOD is Susan Sarandon as JANET: don't knock on that door, honey!! I've heard of strip STEAK but never "skirt." I'm thinkin' I wouldn't like that cut either. Just gimme a porterhouse and I'm good. Birdie.

centralscrewtinizer 1:52 PM  

No @Lewis response for this one? Uh oh. This tough puzzle devoured my soul. Yet, I managed everywhere but the SW where rant looked so cozy I never saw VENT so never saw SHEAVE, even though SPEARED entered my consciousness, and was cast aside. So a DNF. Sad.
Very sad, especially after the unusually off-kilter write-up by OFL.
Loved the reference for CHASTE, a word which changes strangely when it becomes chastened.

thefogman 2:29 PM  

DNF because of one square. I could not figure out the P in the EARP/BALDPATE crossing. I hate you Josh Knapp! Just kidding :-)

rondo 3:46 PM  

Hand up for raNT and bAnAnATREE on my first GOROUND (note to OFL: that’s a word for *attempt*), the rest was smooth sailing. I noticed that no comment was made about the clue for 30a BOUT “Series of *round*s” and 7d GO*ROUND*, nor for 39d . . .”*hole* dweller” and 2d INA*HOLE*; I’d guess you’d find a hole dwelling HOBBIT where else but INAHOLE. I thought these repeats WERE supposed to be taboo.

ELLE MacPherson, yeah baby. ‘Nuff SAID.

Did it in about 2X Rex; ABOMINABLE for some, good for me.

leftcoastTAM 8:07 PM  

With the PPP's and odd/obscure clues/ answers, this one was ABOMINABLE for me. Maybe tomorrow?

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Especially nice was the symmetry of these four:

SPELLCHECK and LAUNCHPAD crossing at the C
LUNCHMONEY and SKETCHBOOK crossing at the H

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

@rondo 3:46 PM

A round (ROUNDS) is not the same as around (GO 'ROUND)

Scar 4:33 AM  

I liked it. I had IN THE BLACK instead of ON THE CLOCK, so that slowed me down for a while. I appreciate a tough puzzle on Friday and Saturday. The TOW clue seems off. "Got towed" or "was towed" are negative, but a "TOW" is helpful.

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