Region of Ghana known for gold cocoa / FRI 10-19-18 / 4x platinum album of 2001 / Official birds of Quebec / Start of some rock genre names / Novelty item in vintage comic book ads / Teacher's timesaver for grading tests / Roll of 4 6 craps

Friday, October 19, 2018

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (5:17)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: DANAE (51D: Mother of Perseus) —
In Greek mythologyDanaë (/ˈdæn.i-ii/, as personal name also /dəˈn/GreekΔανάηAncient Greek: [daˈna.ɛː]Modern: [ðaˈna.i]) was the daughter, and only child of King Acrisius of Argos and his wife Queen Eurydice. She was the mother of the hero Perseus by Zeus. She was credited with founding the city of Ardea in Latium during the Bronze Age. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was definitely a puzzbro puzz. Trying very, very hard to let you know it's NEXT GEN, man. Look at all the lingo and argot and very-now (or at least very-this-century) turns of phrase. It's made for FRATBROs who go to the gym a lot and say things like "yo, bro, this one time when I was ON VACAY in SYDNEY, showin off my SIX PACK by the OCEAN, you know [high five] I met this girl ASHANTI and we stole this shitty COROLLA and just drove around listening to oldies like NE-YO and J-LO but then the POPO started chasing us and we were like 'SEE YA!' and led them on this long chase to the EDGE of the city until eventually we ditched the CAR down this DEAD END street and just ran for it, and all of this definitely totally actually happened ... bro. Hey you wanna go catch the latest APATOW movie? Cool." Whatever, I'll take aggressively "hello, fellow youths!" over tired and stale any day.

I really don't like when tech stuff stands in for "fresh fill." Generations used to be defined by music, style, etc. and now it's just operating systems or devices or whatever. You can shove your NEXT GEN IO DEVICE (whatever that is), Ugh. I am an Old-in-training, this is my attitude toward the uncritical embrace of all things tech, and it will Never Change. BOO HISS! The SE corner here is one million times harder than the rest of the puzzle, which (for me) was quite easy. First off, did you all know how to spell SMEAGOL?! Dear lord, that name looks Nuts. I never made it through all the Tolkien books (and regretted making it through the interminable Tolkien movies) so his name looks bonkers to me. Also we call them FRAT BOYs, so that messed me up. All the Acrosses in the SE were not easy for me, especially EASY TEN (63A: Roll of 4 and 6, in craps). Maybe FRATBROs with a ratpack fetish (the fratpack!) know that term. Anyway, all of my struggles were in this general region, but they weren't that struggly, honestly. Ended up with below-average time, and that's with the early-morning solving disadvantage. So I'm old enough to be irked by the youthful pretension, not old enough to be fazed by it. Sweet spot!

Gotta run. To the gym. Not to get RIPPED, but to engage in a futile struggle against body fall-apart and eventual death. It's fun!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:19 AM  

Reminder: Erik Agard on Jeopardy tonight.

Started by throwing in SIXPACK and XRAYSPEX (you better believe I was intrigued by those glasses as I approached my teens), and steadily strode through the grid until I came a thudding halt in the SE. Then -- enter the miracle -- the Deep State in my brain, where things I don't know that I know reside, fed me NEOLITH! DANAE! ASHTANTI! 'Twas one of those jaw-dropping rushes that once in a sparkling while crosswords provides.

I did at first want SATURN for "Notable ring bearer". And the Twain quote is magnificent.

Look at this completed puzzle. Hardly a dull answer. Hardly a dull clue. This puzzle was made using a high bar and lovingly honed. Bravo, Trenton!

DeeJay 6:20 AM  

Thought it was a delightful challenge. Tough, but solvable.

BarbieBarbie 6:25 AM  

DNFd in the SW. had to look up APATOW to get a toehold there, for Pete’s sake. everything else was a fun struggle. I/O DEVICE is a very generic thing, so refusing to know it is like refusing to remember “iambic pentameter” or whatever. Very deep LOTR reference, maybe unfair for a Friday. Overall I’m happy with the puzzle but grumpy at myself.

Matthew G. 6:50 AM  

I knew how to spell SMEAGOL, but that didn't help me much because I confidently threw down SAMWISE off the S. Oops. I never really thought of SMEAGOL as a ringbearer because he didn't so much bear the ring as huddle with it for eons in a cave.

Anyway, I loved this puzzle. There were a number of moments where I felt the puzzle's wavelength and hesitated because I thought my initial instinct was too obscure to be correct, and yet it was right. That's always a joy.

kitshef 7:09 AM  

Fridays don’t come much easier than this. Heck, Wednesdays don’t come much easier than this.

POPO is another one I’ve never seen outside of crosswords.

Some nice echoes: PATS and BENGALS, the Oceanian GUAM and SAMOAs and SYDNEY, CROW crossing OWL. Those gave me some smiles. But … just way too easy.

QuasiMojo 7:12 AM  

Tore through this somewhat embarrassed that I knew most of this stuff, save Sméagol. Wasn’t going to bother to post about it because it felt too easy for a Friday. Where’s the challenge these days? Or am I finally improving? But Rex your write up made me laugh out loud. Great post! One question though... how come you never get PC crazy over the appearances of Ezra Pound and Mother Teresa?

JOHN X 7:18 AM  

Eh, this puzzle was ok although there were some silly words in there, I'll grant it that. That doesn't really bother JOHN X though, I just take it as it comes.

Well one thing bothered me and that was VACAY. Oh please. This is slang? No, it's just the last syllable dropped. Are you too lazy to say vacay-SHUN? This word is for teenaged girls, because it sounds vacant. Pretty Vacant, like the Sex Pistols. Ah, the Sex Pistols: back when manufactured boy-bands could threaten a collapsed empire by vomiting on themselves. Those were the days, kids, those were the days.

Hey I do that little mini-puzzle as my batting practice before the main show and I normally finish in around :38 seconds, but today I went through it across then down and didn't have a single answer filled in. WTF! That was sooo weird.

michiganman 7:21 AM  

VACAY may be, but should not be, a word. This is in the running for, nay-it IS, the worst word ever to be in an NYT puzzle.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

Anybody else bothered by EDGE and clue to 34A (Cutting edge...)? It took me a while to put in 21D because I didn’t think it could be right. Otherwise, nice puzzle.

Joe R. 8:11 AM  

Is FRAT BRO a thing? I had FRATB--, and very confidently filled in FRATBOY, which threw me off for a bit, until I had enough to know that the cookie really was OREO----.

@Matthew G - I, too, jumped to Samwise, because neither Frodo nor Gollum fit, and those three were the only ringbearers. Smeagol wasn't, he was Gollum when he was.

Suzie Q 8:18 AM  

Easy? Not for me.
Sure, I got some of the tricky clues but this took way too long without much fun along the way.
Zsa Zsa, Eva, but who was the other one? Magda or something similar? What did she ever do but tag along? At least Eva had Green Acres.
Rock genre. Hmm, music or geology?
"Little wheel" was some form of pasta in my mind for a bit.
I remembered Sméagol but not how to spell it.
I guess I'm tired and stale according to Rex and this one proved I don't know my Ashanti from a hole in the ground.

@ Lewis, Did you ever send for those spex? I've always wondered what fake piece of crap you got in the mail if you ever bought them.

Z 8:19 AM  

Was assuming Wagner until the GOL appeared and then threw down SMÈAGOL without wasting any precious nanoseconds. The PPP is almost as high as yesterday’s, 25 of 72 with 4 dead (one GABOR so only counted once and I don’t count the fictionally dead as dead since they live on), so I do anticipate some kvetching about the puzzle’s pop culture references. For me this was so wheelhouse that I almost missed counting SCANTRON (oh, yeah, that is a product name). The NW was Monday easy here, LOG ROLL made the SW Tuesdayish, Not remembering Mother TERESA at first let me plunk down monkey wrench, but it took barely a handful of nanoseconds to fix that. My only hesitation in the NE was not filling in STATE for a clue clearly suggesting “estado.” Estado is too long, though, so not even a writeover. No actual idea on time, but felt Tuesday/Wednesday mostly because I expected it to be tougher.

Pop Culture, Product Names and other Proper Nouns: The List
now counting the dead because I find it morbidly amusing

STATE (Chihuahua)
Emmy for Best SERIES
GABOR sisters (dead)
CAR (cross-referenced product name clue - if this wasn’t so wheelhouse I’d be cussing a blue streak)
Eric BANA (four letter Eric is always BANA)
The POET Ezra Pound (dead)

KAREN Christenze von Blixen-Finecke (dead)
The ICEMAN Cometh
BENGALS (Bro football)
PATS (Bro football)
Mother TERESA (dead)
Post Honey OH’S (yes, there really is an apostrophe- Why?)

Dawn Urban 8:20 AM  

SMEAGOL carried the ring around, it was his "Precioussssss", so IMO, he was defintely a ring bearer. (BTW, hugging your grandchildren, and hissing My Precioussss, is a sure way to scare/giggle them),

Having lived across the river from Muscatine, IA, "The Pearl Button Capital of the World", I still had to look up NACRE, and Muscatine's website was no help whatsoever. I did learn how their buttonmaker, named John Frederick Boepple, was an immigrant from Germany. Legend claims that he cut his foot on a mussel shell in the Sangamon River (Lincoln territory), but the mussels there were thin.

He went to Muscatine, by the banks of the Mississippi River, to find the really beefy mussel's NACRE, and catfish, that reside there. The only bane to his industry in the City of Muscatine, were the "unsavory" mussel men camps that sprouted up among the citizens. Mark Twain, of the SANITY clue today, was one of those citizens, for a short while.

Señora 8:41 AM  

Ne-Yo has a hyphen. J.Lo has a period. I’m in has an apostrophe. Sméagol has a mark but I don’t know what it’s called. What exactly is the convention for diacritical marks in crosswords ? Are they just to be ignored ?

JJK 8:52 AM  

I didn’t enjoy this puzzle, too many specialized knowledge words and names. Not easy for me. Even years of doing the NYT puzzle has not made me any more interested in or knowledgeable about stupid sports trivia and names of teams, etc.

I did know POPO, my kids use that term.

Hungry Mother 9:04 AM  

Natick/DNF at POPO/NEYO, otherwise just tough. Felt like a major waste of time.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

I/O stands for Input/Output...very geeky answer. Frat "Bro"? No, no, no.

RooMonster 9:12 AM  

Hey All !
Not an easy fest here, as some of y'all have posted. My hold up spot was NW. Granted, the SE put up a good fight, with Oat for OHS, and not believing OREO THINs to be Low-cal. But that NW, didn't know SCANTRON (@Loren, enlighten us), and ALT as clued, KAREN as clued, plus having cOPS for the POPO, led me to the singer kEYs. Finally figured out SIXPACK (since the C from cOPs giving me _IXc_C_, making the ole brain think of something else), but never changed the singer, so my police were POPs. Har. But with SMEAGOL (who the?) in there, figured SCAkTRON and POPs could be correct. DNF on two letters.

LOG ROLL is odd to me. Maybe one of y'all can clue me in, as it were. SYDNEY clue got me remembering Dory repeating herself over and over. Funny, then she forgets anyway. Oh, and she most definitely speaks Whale.

I thought VACAY was just VACA. Those XRAY SPEX (though I never ordered them) were paper (I think) glasses with circular lines on the "lenses" with a little hole punched in them. SAMOAS are awesome cookies! OREO THINs, not so much.

Wanted CHEATING ASSHATS for 27D, but wouldn't fit. OHS!


Rube 9:12 AM  

Gabor is as easy as it gets. But vacay? What is that? PoPo? Come on. Frat bro? To paraphrase the new yorker: Block that metaphor! Boo Hiss? What is that? I guess it takes that kind of stuff to create a challenge on Friday these days but there are much better ways. Still easily solvable, just too much head shaking at these answers

Doug Garr 9:13 AM  

No stickman at a craps table ever says EASYTEN!!!!!! He says TENEASY. Just wanted everyone to know this. Uggghhhh.

pabloinnh 9:14 AM  

When ANSWERKEY didn't fit for 1D I had to fish around for a while, but the S from SIXPACK hit the aha! buzzer and all those once-a-year uses of the good old SCANTRON machine came rushing back. We only had two at school and you had to sign up for them but was it ever a time saver. Kind of made constructing multiple choice tests worth all that effort.

Smeagol went right in although I think the ring possessed him so maybe ring burdened is closer to the truth.

Agree with JOHN X about today's mini. What a bear.

Nice gritty Friday, liked it.

Also, Red Sox.

Z 9:23 AM  

@John R - SMÉAGOL, not Gollum, killed Déagol and took the ring. Of course he was a ring-bearer, the fourth ring-bearer to be exact. Besides, it’s not as if we’re talking about two different hobbits, here, SMÉAGOL is Gollum.

@John X - Huh? Maybe overthinking it? Mini-Spoilers:
˙ƃuᴉʌɐǝʍ ɥʇᴉʍ op oʇ ƃuᴉɥʇou sɐɥ pϛ ˙pɹɐʍɹoɟʇɥƃᴉɐɹʇs 'uᴉɐƃɐ 'ǝɹɐ p Ɛ puɐ ᄅ ˙ǝɯʎɥɹ pㄣ puɐ ∀8 ˙pǝʇɐlǝɹ pɹɐoqʎǝʞ ɹǝʇndɯoɔ sᴉ ∀6 ǝlᴉɥʍ 'ʇǝʍ sᴉ uozɐɯ∀ ǝɥʇ ʇnq sɹǝʇndɯoɔ ƃuᴉʞuᴉɥʇ noʎ sʇǝƃ ∀ᄅ ˙sʇǝƃ ʇᴉ sɐ pɹɐʍɹoɟʇɥƃᴉɐɹʇs sɐ ʇnoqɐ sᴉ ∀Ɩ

Music Man 9:25 AM  

Today’s pop music puzzle references:

19A: Singer with the 2012 hit “Let Me Love You”; NEYO. That song (which reached #6 in late 2012) is one of NEYO’s seven Top 10 hits from 2006-2015. His biggest hit was the #1 song “So Sick” in 2006.

52A: 4x platinum album of 2001; J.LO by Jennifer Lopez. It’s her biggest-selling album to-date.

5D: Start of some rock genre names; ALT, as in ALT Rock (alternative rock), ALT Metal, ALT Dance, etc.

TomAz 9:31 AM  

I can't be the only person here who wished X RAY SPEX were clued with a reference to "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!". A missed opportunity, there. Oh well.

I thought this puzzle was pretty good. No I didn't know how to spell SMEAGOL, at least not the last two letters. SNOW GEESE rather than SNOWY OWLS at first. FRAT BOY. COPS.

but.. progress! I got BANA, a name I only know from the crosswords. He shows up often enough that I am glad I have finally memorized is forgettable name. No idea who NEYO is, and that N was tricky, but eventually decided it was the only letter that made sense.

COROLLA and OREO THIN show up again!

I don't understand LOG ROLL as clued.

Nancy 9:32 AM  

It's seldom that I agree wholeheartedly with Rex and disagree so completely with @Lewis -- but this is one of them. I say BOO HISS to the cutesy and sophomoric stab at mod vernac -- from the revolting ON VACAY to the nauseating POPO. I assume this is FRATBRO speech, and I've never been a FRATBRO, I'm happy to say. I guess I'm too old fash for this puzzle. Not SWI (sufficiently "with it"). You see, I can make up my own nauseating mod vernac. Give me access to a 2D and I can probably MIGV (make it go viral). It's easy. Just check your adulthood and education at the door. Can we please have a puzzle for grownups, Will?

GILL I. 9:37 AM  

I'm older than you, @Rex and yet I found this quite refreshing after yesterday's NO JOY.
The SE was my easiest. I had a heck of a time getting started in the SIX PACK corridor. I only had COROLLA in there for ages. I got that one because CAR was inserted down in the south.
I laughed at your write-up but I ask myself... did you enjoy it?
All this week we've had stale, stale, stale and today we get some youthful stuff.
I think ON VACAY is kinda cute. Never heard of NEYO and all I could do was think croissant for 1D. I have no idea what a SCAN TRON is nor did I know what an IO DEVICE is nor could I remember that KAREN hid around pretending to be a male Isak Denisen. That area was my bugaboo. I hated to have to Google those unknowns because everything else went in lickety split (sort of)....
Hand up for Sam Wise. SMEAGOL it twas. My sister-in-law has named her cat SMEAGOL and she posts a million pictures of her on Facebook so I know how to spell her.
Wanted buffed for the RIPPED answer. I've seen some Facebook posting of these seriously muscular males who look like they inserted padded bras in their biceps. Who in the world finds that charming? On the other hand, I just saw Australia's newest Firemen pin-up calendar and if you want to do some fantasy drooling, then by all means, give it a gander.
One day I hope to find a really good BBQ JOINT. Love me some good ribs but sometimes it feels like I ATE CROW. Too much sauce.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Jimmy is happy for Hank.

Maruchka 9:44 AM  

@Joe R. - Well, yes and no. SMEAGOL did secretly 'carry' the ring after murdering Deagol for it. It's evil influence created Gollum over time. Eventually his grandmother banished him from the clan and he truly became the Gollum.

Elendil was first to actually 'bear' the ring, after he cut off Sauron's finger. This event is echoed when Frodo's ring finger is chewed off by Gollum.

I'm a fantasy books nut these gloomy days..

Anonymous 9:46 AM  


Jay 9:46 AM  

How on earth Rex and some commenters find this easy is beyond me? Seems only the geniuses write comments. For me this was an impossible puzzle. Solved 30% before I had to look for some help. Even the cheating did not help and I got stuck at every turn. So many answers I had never heard before.
Let it be known that there is at least one mortal who did not finish this puzzle.

Rainbow 9:52 AM  

Add me to the list.

OffTheGrid 10:04 AM  

This was a difficult puzzle that provided little joy. Lots I didn't know and that's on me. However, there was too much cute s*** to consider this a good xword.

LOGROLL (A google search yielded zero references to quid pro quo)

Nancy 10:04 AM  

Well, you salvaged this bleak puzzle-morning, @GILL (9:37). I took your recommended gander at the 2018 Australian firemen pin-up calendar and promptly fell in love with all of them -- well at least with all of them that didn't have tattoos. Highly recommended to every woman on the blog who draws breath.

@Maruchka (9:44) -- SMEAGOL murders Deagol? Elendil cuts off Sauron's finger? Gollum chews off Frodo's finger. Who makes this stuff up? Not to mention the extremely odd names? And this is what cheers you up in gloomy times???

JOHN X 10:16 AM  

I first saw LOGROLLing used in Spy Magazine back in the 80s, where they would compare the jacket blurbs on one author's book and then look at the jackets of recent books by the blurbers and would show that the two authors had traded complimentary blurbs. The term may be older than that but that's where I first saw it.


oldbizmark 10:23 AM  

Fail to follow suit for "RENEGE" is awkward. Renege is when you don't follow through with something. Not when you don't follow suit. In my mind, at least, those are two different things. I also didn't understand "LOGROLL" for participate in quid pro quo. These were the last two clues I filled in and had to guess on both (correctly) to finish an otherwise SUPER DUPER easy puzzle.

JC66 10:33 AM  


In bridge, if you "don't follow suit," you've RENEGEd.

Maruchka 10:40 AM  

@Nancy - Yup. I seem to be in a The Devil You Know wheelhouse lately.. (also binge watched The Tunnel for good measure). Yikes! Where are the bunnies and goats in pajamas?

Z 10:44 AM  

@Maruchka - Sauron was the first ring bearer. And Elendil never bore the ring, it was his son, Isildur, who defeated Sauron, cutting his finger off, but then failing to cast the ring into Mount Doom.

@Nancy - Tolkien tapped northern European myth and languages for his tale and names. Gollum has lots of echoes of Beowulf. My reference to Wagner’s is because both he and Tolkien stole from the Niebelungelied. The Dwarves’ names come right out of the Edda. If you want to see a fun fight, raise the question of dwarfs/dwarves/elfs/elves. Anyway - As to your question, an English Don with a deep interest in language and myth. In a lot of ways, one of the original FRAT BROs.

Sir Hillary 10:51 AM  

A pangram that no one commented on...must mean that my comment is oh-so 2015.

I enjoyed this one, although it was a but too easy for a Friday. The corners really are top-notch.

I've never read Tolkien and never will. Never seen Peter Jackson's trilogy and never will. Never heard of SMEAGOL and never will. But there are millions of people who feel differently, so fair enough. Besides, it was eminently inferable via crosses.

I went with buffED instead of RIPPED and finS instead of PATS. NEXTGEN fixed that pretty quickly. And it's actually buff, not buffed, so my bad.

Wish there had been more clever cluing, but I liked the dual usage of Deep blue.

Dept. of Pedantics: In cards, you RENEGE only if you don't follow suit when you could have and are required to do so. If you don't follow suit because you can't, you slough or trump, but you don't RENEGE. So, the clue's not great.

Only real gripe is FRATBRO, which no one has said ever. He can be a FRATBoy or a BRO, or a BRO who's a FRATBoy, but FRATBRO is BS. Then again, maybe some people out there know better because they are adepts on the subject.

Bax'N'Nex 10:51 AM  

I guess this illustrates "in my wheelhouse" as much as any puzzle...because for me it definitely was...NOT. Did not finish and had to cheat...yeah, I said it...

And what's the deal with Mike complaining of skewing too young? Either it's too old for him or too young. Is there an elusive sweet spot that would be acceptable to him? Seems the constructors have not reached that lofty status too often (ever)?

Anywho...Thank you Trenton Charison for my morning escape...

Good weekend, all.

Unknown 10:52 AM  

My husband’s company has Ashanti in the name (had to tell him this was in the puzzle even though he was almost asleep) and I have two kids who just finished their teens, so the SE didn’t stump me too much. One’s dating a FRATBRO, VACAY is a thing, etc. It was the NW that almost DNF’d me. Now I want part of a sixpack.

Tom R 10:52 AM  

I sooo wanted snow geese. Took me forever to see snowy owl.

Speaking of gym, this makes the 468th straight day I did not go to the gym. Trying for an all time record!

Carola 10:54 AM  

Medium here, mainly because of a very slow NW. NEYO, as short as it is, provided a surprisingly effective roadblock, as did the delay until the penny dropped on TVS. My worst of times = LOsS (slowest time in a race).

I liked DANAE, she of the shower of gold, contrasted with neighboring Mother Teresa.

Favorite entry: SNOWY OWL, which I noticed could also be read as SNOW YOWL,reminding me it's almost November and time to get the SNOW tires put on.

Carola 10:57 AM  

@Z, I hope you won't mind an erstwhile medievalist doing some copy-editing: Nibelungenlied.

QuasiMojo 10:57 AM  

@GILL, lol. I’ll have to check out that link Nancy likes so much. Btw nails are “buffed” ripped bodybuilders are “buff.” 💪🏻

Chris 11:00 AM  

Pretty easy for me--almost exactly halfway between best abd average Friday times. SE hung me up. Didn't know the craps term and couldn't dredge up the other 2 stack answers.

LOGROLL in this usage is a politics term, in my experience. It's pretty much synonymous with vote trading in legislatures, esp. across a number of bills. For ex, I'll vote for your farm bill if you vote for my rapid transit bill.

pabloinnh 11:04 AM  

To those of you who haven't seen or used one, a Scantron is a machine that automatically reads answers on one of those fill-in-the-bubbles multiple choice tests. The teacher makes out a key, runs it through the machine, and the machine then gives you a number correct and a percentage. The ones I used could handle up to a hundred questions.

Logrolling as I understand it involves two people moving a longish log--first I push my end, then you push your end, and so forth. I think its usage as clued has origins in politics, as in trading favors.

Suzie Q 11:08 AM  

I have been wondering for a long time re: print v on-line solving.
I tried to solve on my computer a few times but was annoyed by having to scroll for clues. On paper I can go back and forth through the clues with just a glance. Isn't that inconvenient and slower?
Perhaps I had a different screen.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Re: Pedantics. Nobody says Deep Blue OCEAN. Deep Blue SEA is the phrase.

Kimberly 11:25 AM  

So one day it’s too dated, the next day it’s too trendy, and both make you feel angry and superior.

Blogs do not replace therapy, no matter how many people seem to feel their blog is a healthy venting place. At some point feedback from a professional is the only way you’re going to learn to process al this anger. And you need to, because it is getting more and more nonsensical. You are losing touch with your center.

You’re a rare commodity these days: a smart person. Lord knows the western world is trying to drive all the smart people insane, but don’t let it. The smart ones need to hang on to reality. The world will need you all, sooner than you think.

Focus your anger in the right direction. The NYT crossword is just about the polar opposite of that direction. Even when it is imperfect, it is a haven compared to what’s happening out there. I know you want it to be better, but snide attacks do not inspire growth. Nobody ever wanted to improve because someone kept bashing at them.

Let’s instead applaud and nurture the few areas in American culture that aren’t catering to the lowest common denominator. Feed them. Motivate them to continue on and thrive. Maybe it’s not ideal, but wouldn’t you rather start your day with an imperfect puzzle than...say...watching “Fox and Friends?”

MR. Cheese 11:41 AM  

Backed into fratbro... ugh. Where have I been? I never heard the term “popo”. Boo hiss “on vacay”!
Very little to enjoy.

Banana Diaquiri 11:42 AM  

Scantron is a machine that automatically reads answers on one of those fill-in-the-bubbles multiple choice tests.

if you're old enough, you remember the overlays the teach used, and filled out your test with red dots where you missed. I recall those overlays have a more specific name, but I'll be danged if I could remember. I suppose our local voting machines are the same.

as to SMEAGOL, I've no LoTR experience, so the only word I could conjure was SMEGMA, which doesn't fit, but sticks in the brain once known.

Nancy 11:46 AM  

I just realized I forgot to mention my funniest error -- the one that caused the DNF in the NW. For "Need for a certain outlet" (17A) I had ADULTOR. Which of course is misspelled, as well as wrong. But XRU?SPEX did not get me to XRAY SPEX. And of course I didn't know NEYO.

Thanks for letting me know, @Z, that "Lord of the Rings", unlike "Star Wars", actually has some intellectual heft. That doesn't mean I want to either read it or watch it -- ever -- but I do plan to respect it like crazy in the future.

Ellen S 11:47 AM  

So @Rex is telling @Trenton Charlson what is proper “youth culture”? “We call them frat boys”, (you ignorant slut).

My 50-year-old ex-son-in-law (you should have bought stock in a hyphen factory!) always says PO-PO, and I’ve seen VACAY. If they are words that exist then they are fair for a crossword puzzle. Never heard of NEYO or SMÉAGOL, but they filled in all right, and old as I am, and young as Mr. Charlson is, I really enjoyed the puzzle.

CDilly52 11:51 AM  

I truly thought this was hard. Had to keep picking it up and putting it down. Then when I finally finished (hung up on ring bearer) my time was only half my usual Friday. Who knows? Perhaps all the WOEs I had to get from crosses deceived me. NE-YO, BANA, NEOLITH, to name a few, coupled with the fact that I wanted the ring bearer to be Wagner and when I switched gears to Tolkien could not remember Gollum’s real name. But all is well on this rainy Friday because my solve streak survives!

Malsdemare 11:55 AM  

I don't know pop stars so when the crosses didn't come through for me, I googled for BANA and NEYO. And because I've never, in 30 years of teaching, given a machine-scorable test, I needed help getting the TRON part of that answer. Rex is right, SMEAGOL looked so wrong; If I read Tolkien (I must have, right?), I remember none of it, well, maybe Frodo, but SMEAGOL it was. Who'd a thunk it?

Somehow I don't see OPENS as what happens to a keg; that strikes me as trouble, as in beer pouring onto the floor while FRATBROS lie under the keg slurping it all up. Ugly image, that; brings to mind a certain recent testifier who really likes beer. But otherwise, I thought this was pretty nice. Some current stuff, some old (looking at you, XRAYSPEX, GABOR). Oddly, it took me forever to recall Dinesen's name, despite being a pretty big fan of "Out of Africa."

My adorable, run-away-whenever-I-can Ryley is showing this weekend and if the goddess is kind, he will finish his championship and then promptly lose those accoutrements that at least partially account for his wanderlust (emphasis on the lust).

Now to see what y'all think.

Lewis 12:02 PM  

@suzieQ -- No, too embarrassed. Surely my parents would have seen it come in the mail. But had I ordered them, they surely would have been a wretched disappointment, and soured me on the world at too early an age.

Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  

This puppy was chock full of long debut words. Liked it a lot. And when U splatz that BBQJOINT entry in there, U just know we're headed for pangram heaven.

@RP: M&A didn't read them Tolkien books, and kept fallin asleep in all the flicks; sooo … do not recall ever hearin the name SMEAGOL at all. Is he the dude that kept sayin "the precious", without finishin the phrase off (with nanoseconds)?
But fave desperate name really oughta go to: DANAE. [Mythological spellin of Danny.]

Got started with OVA. Then BOOHISS. Then the rest of the NE. Took a while, but finished without resortin to the outside research. M&A's relentless solvequest finish would not be DANAE-d.

Nope. Nope. GABOR is too old-school. Unacceptable, to the Spring Chicken Popos. har
GABOR does sorta nicely cancel out NEYO, tho.

staff weeject pick: NYY. Actually stared at this for a few precious (nanoseconds), before I realized what they were talkin about. Lost interest in baseball, when the Twins didn't make the playoffs.

Thanx for the feisty funky fun, Mr. Charlson. I thought the capital of GUAM was somethin else, tho … [Ahar! Name change meat!]

Masked & AnonymoUUs

nytpuz pancakes alternative:

jb129 12:10 PM  

Got me on 25D - "Smeagol" - never got into Tolkien.

And yes, I still do the puzzle on paper!

Ellen S 12:19 PM  

Thanks to those who explained LOGROLL. I was wondering.

I googled FRATBRO. Mr. Google himself seems to wish the phrase didn’t exist, but, as if holding his virtual nose, pointed me to a couple of Urban Dictionary (and the like) definitions that said it’s a TV trope, an extreme stereotype of a frat boy. And there was a 2006 movie, “Frat Bros.” (with a period, as if an abbreviation) which IMDB doesn’t have a synopsis for. A commenter said it’s about frat boys. Maybe just a good guess; I’m guessing not many people ever watched it. The characters have names like “Keg Stand Guy” and “Party Girl”.

Anyway, after that result, Google went off into instances of “Bro” without the “Frat” or “Frat” without “Bro”, and didn’t seem to want anything to do with the combo. Still, I think it’s fair, inferrable even if obscure. (Spellcheck doesn’t like ‘inferrable”, some kind of stick-in-the mud that thinks verbs should stay verbs, I guess.)

Maruchka 12:21 PM  

@Z, @Nancy - Yah, got Isildur/Elendil confused. My error.

Did Tolkien consider Sauron, the maker of the ring, also a bearer? Hmm. I suppose he did. Will bear that in mind. The Silmarillion re-read is next up.

TubaDon 12:26 PM  

     Filled in the NE with little trouble, then struggled with the rest for over an hour. Got 25D since I saw it in aother puzzle recently with GOLLUM as the answer. Temporarily went off track with BUFFALO--why not, they're farther North than the Bengals! Got COROLLA and XRAYSPEC (fixed the X later) right away, but needed a hint from the wife to finish the NW since I know from naught about rappers and hip-hoppers. Nevertheless I thought it a challenging but satisfactory puzzle even though overloaded with neologisms.

Malsdemare 12:27 PM  

@Dawn Urban. Love your story about the button maker. I live on the Sangamon and you can still collect mussels shells there. I drilled holes in them one year, ran cord with random beads through one end and suspended them from hooks. Add an air plant and Voila! Cool decoration til the plant falls out. Sigh!

TJS 12:31 PM  

@Kimberly,Kimberly,Kimberly...There are plenty smart people around. If you cant find them, maybe your hanging with the wrong crowd. In fact, THIS crowd is smart. Opinionated, pedantic, willing to engage in extended argument over meaningless topics, sure, why not. To suggest that everyone around me is in need of therapy is , I would suggest, a sign that I am the one in need. Hope you find a more meaningfull location for your advice column.

Z 12:37 PM  

@Carola - Thanks.

JC66 12:37 PM  

@Nancy 11:46

Your response to @Z is priceless; made my day.

Noam D. Elkies 12:43 PM  

@Carola Ha -- I also wondered what a "snow yowl" was.

I once read that in craps there's a side bet of hitting a point of 4, 6, 8, 10 "the hard way" = by rolling double 2/3/4/5's respectively. So it made sense the getting 10 as 4+6 (or 6+4, hence twice as likely as 5+5) would be an "easy ten").

Oh, and tech stuff is fresh fill, and way more interesting than whatever stage name happens to be chosen by the latest permutation of least-common-denominator pop music. I/O DEVICE is inferable; NEYO is alphabet soup. To be sure ASHANTI crossing DANAË (and TERESA), and for that matter SMÉAGOL/GABOR, is also uninferable proper name-age (though TERE?A could hardly be anything else); but at least there's more variety there, of a more interesting kind than whether NEYO (I see it's actually "NE-YO" -- whatevs) is Good because nonwhite or Bad because XY . . .


jberg 12:45 PM  

Fortunately, I didn't think about Sam Gamgee's really being Samwise, so I avoided going down that rabbithole -- but I did go for FRAT Boy, probably like everyone else who hadn't got OREO THIN first. And SNOW geese, too. But both are fine birds.

Admittedly, I'm a political science professor (ret.), but I'm surprised so few had heard of LOG ROLLing. That's when I vote for your bill in return for your promise to vote for mine when it comes up. Inner city reps vote for the farm bill, but expect rural reps to vote for the public housing budget, for example. Supposedly, the origin is pioneer days when people would get together to help erect each other's log cabins -- you roll my log, and I'll roll yours. I'm not sure the pioneers ever said it, but that was the metaphor.

NEYO/POPO was almost a pure guess -- sure I'm not the only one here. I was about to go with NEYs/cOPs, until I got SIX-PACK, when the scales fell from my eyes, as I had actually heard POPO before.

I have to EAT CROW, though -- I failed to check for a pangram, even after noticing the Q and Z.

@Nancy, I love the image of you "respecting like crazy." Go for it!

jberg 12:48 PM  

@kitshef, just looked at yesterday's late comments and say your OSTRICHES. Good one!

albatross shell 12:49 PM  

To me FRAT BOY has negative conotations that an alpha-male would use about himself (a townie would use about a fraternity brother). Since the alpha pun suggests a fraternity name with alpha in it the term frat brother is suggested. A shortening to frat bro seems natural and expected.

On a different note is it just me or is is it difficult to say "Scranton's scantron" 3 times fast?

JC66 1:01 PM  

Just a heads up that the LAT (along with the Washington Post and others) is publishing one of @Lewis' puzzles, tomorrow.

Bob Mills 1:06 PM  

For once I agree with Rex. This puzzle was a collection of trendy "cool talk" that anyone over the age of 50 would find boring. I'm quite a bit over 50, and prefer puzzles that speak in plain English.

Anonymoose 1:07 PM  

You don't want to know.

Teedmn 1:11 PM  

Is it ironic that my DNF today was at SCANiRON? I had to Google SCANTRON - turns out they're based in Eagan, MN, a Twin Cities suburb (hi Tom Pepper!) and I'd never heard of them! My tubes were iVS and I saw no reason to question that. I thought maybe a SCAN iRON was a correction tool used for multiple choice tests. Well...

I sat with SMEAG_L for a long time. Lord only knows why __RQ_E wrench wasn't a gimme - I own one and have used it on lug nuts. I was getting nowhere in the SE - I had put in OREO lite in and I knew that had been a problem for many not long ago, so I took the lite out and waited. A long time. Eons. The time that it took NEOLITHs to morph into IO DEVICEs. Finally I spun the ROULETTE wheel, trying BBQ JOINT and it all fell into place.

SNOW geese caused a big black inkfest in the SW.

Thanks, Trenton Charlson, I really enjoy your puzzles.

True Grits 1:19 PM  

Get off my lawn with this NEXT GEN crap and IO DEVICE b.s. Somebody’s brain must be ON VACAY if they think I would know half of this stuff. Or even want to know it. Like three sisters of Hollywood? What is this? A fricking Russian novel?

And what’s with the SNOWY OWLS? Is this some kind of a sick joke or something? Even the fricking OREO answer got screwed up, I mean, what the hell is an OREO THIN? I’d ask a Girl Scout if they weren’t so busy selling SAMOAS. By the way, what genius decided to put an S at the end of SAMOA? There’s only one fricking SAMOA. Anybody who’s looked at a map of Polynesia can tell you that.

Don't even get me started about SMEAGOL Schmeagol or whatever. And I don’t care what kind of a FRAT BOY he might be. But I would like to know where I could get some of those XRAY SPECS. Just for scientific purposes, of course. Nothing kinky about it all.

Unknown 1:37 PM  

Teen aged girls vacant??? It's attitudes like that, that are going to keep us in the dark ages. Evolve, man!

Penna Resident 2:01 PM  

@Doug Garr
while it is true that no stickman would say "easy ten", the clue did not ask for what a stickman calls when you roll an easy ten. if you roll double 5s he will call "ten hard", which doesnt change the fact that you rolled a hard ten.
rex frequently makes the mistake of thinking an answer must be written the way he usually hears it, but that's not how crossword clues work.

Joe Dipinto 2:04 PM  

My first impulse at 52a was to put in that dependable filler ELO, giving me BBQE at 37d. BBQ EVENT? Why not?!, I thought:

"And what do you do for a living?"
"I'm an event planner."
"So you coordinate different types of events?"
"Actually, I specialize exclusively in barbecue events."
"I wouldn't think there'd be much of a market for that."
"You'd be surprised. Sloppy eating requires a certain amount of finesse, as people are discovering. Here's my card, I can help you plan your next pig-out."

Cliff Notes is the best clue of the year.

Unknown 2:18 PM  

The Frat Pack exists, actually. It was the name given to the actors who were in that deluge of raunchy buddy comedies in the mid-2000's...Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Owen and Luke Wilson, Jack Black, and Will Ferrell (maybe a few more, but those were the main guys). Seemed like they had a new comedy out every six from about 2003 through 2008.

Z 2:40 PM  

Huh. How to Dress Like a FRAT BRO. I don’t know why people had problems finding FRAT BRO stuff on the google. I had multiple suggested searches, including “FRAT BRO meme,” I couldnt tell if the linked video was a parody or serious... until the end. I think the FRAT BRO is as serious as a Tolkien scholar.

Pretty sure I’m OT here. The Z Man Goeth.

PGregory Springer 4:47 PM  

So many cool things. I also would have liked a Poly Styrene X-RAY SPEX reference (saw them in London in 78 or so) and EDGE could have been a U2 reference, to amp up the punk.

Joe Bleaux 5:05 PM  

Embarrassingly solvable ... except for the SE, and NW. Oh, and the NE -- and that SW! What @Rex said, plus BOO HISS, FRAT BRO. You way too hip for me. I feel TWEEZEd.

jae 5:06 PM  

Medium, mostly because I kept trying to work abs into 1a. Plenty of fine stuff, liked it a bunch!

FRATBoy also.

My brain might be nearing capacity. I’m reading a book (“Circling the Sun”) about Beryl Markham who was a friend of KAREN Blixen and there is a quote from Blixen at the beginning...I still needed a couple of crosses to come up KAREN.

mooretep 5:09 PM  

RooMonster @ 9:10, I'll try to stand in for LMS here.

As noted in previous comments, the Scantron is an efficient method of scoring multiple choice tests "bubbled" in with a No. 2 pencil.

Part of the thrill of using the Scantron machine was the noise that it made.
It marked answers that were incorrect and made a tick for every incorrect answer.

As each test was scanned, you could audibly detect how well or poor a student performed.
You could almost guess without looking at the names which student was being scored.

The process was guilt-ridden as it affirmed ones failure to improve a struggling students performance and validated efforts to encourage the high performers to "play the game".

With new technology, we can now create multiple choice test that avoid that schadenfreude.

A well written multiple choice test with clever distractors is actually a pretty good metric of a students assimilation of information. It is useless if an educator does not review the test in short order with their students.

Bourbon Street 6:08 PM  

Back in 2015, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals acquainted everyone in Illinois with the term “logrolling” when ruling on former governor Rod Blagojevich’s appeal. Like Chris said, political “logrolling” is trading one official act for another. Most people I know (many Chicagoans and Illinoisans) had never heard of the term before this opinion.

jb129 7:30 PM  

Erik Agard (on Jeopardy tonite) - great to put a face on a name! Congratulations!

puzzlehoarder 8:24 PM  

My comments did not go through today. I'm just trying again to see if it's hot or miss.

Nancy 9:59 PM  

Thanks @JC66 and @jberg. The " crazy" line, though used by me in an original way, was actually coined by Nichols and May in their "Teenagers in a Car skit" from the '60s. Remember, guys? You're old enough to have seen it. In case you missed it, here it is. (The line in question comes at 8:05 minutes into the skit) Skit

Yrhumble 10:43 PM  

I am with you. Who are these people?

noparking 12:04 AM  

Thanks for telling me Erik Agard was on jeopardy tonight. I dvr’d it. My girlfriend thought I was crazy. Spoiler alert he won.

noparking 12:14 AM  

BTW IMHO you Never say anything negative. Ur too nice.

ZenMonkey 2:06 AM  

I thought Rex's write-up was funny, not really angry, and only missed "getting RIPPED on some primo kush".

pcardout 11:43 AM  

Right, SMEAGOL was a highlight for me. I immediately went for Lord of the Rings with the term ringbearer, but FRODO didnt fit! GOLLUM was also obvious but also too short. Silly Rex and his lack of appreciation for Tolkien. He's an English professor no? Just reading Seamus Heaney's version of Beowulf and it mentions that the appreciation of it as a story rather than a stuffy artifact is down to our good friend J.R.R. And IO stands for input/output ya Luddite. (not you Matthew my friend, Rex!)

Kimberly 2:43 PM  

TJS said...
@Kimberly,Kimberly,Kimberly...There are plenty smart people around. If you cant find them, maybe your hanging with the wrong crowd. In fact, THIS crowd is smart. Opinionated, pedantic, willing to engage in extended argument over meaningless topics, sure, why not. To suggest that everyone around me is in need of therapy is , I would suggest, a sign that I am the one in need. Hope you find a more meaningfull location for your advice column.

Interesting that you hear me say “Rex needs therapy” and you translate that in your mind into believing I think EVERYONE around me needs therapy. For example, I might guess therapy would not help your particular problems at all. A class on logic might, though.

And smart IS rare. Statistically speaking, it’s not nearly as common as you seem to believe. If you are surrounded by many people you believe to be smart, your bar might be set a little low.

Rex is smart, he’s just... a little angry. I have no idea what you are. The evidence I have on you might be telling, but it’s very slim.

spacecraft 10:50 AM  

I don't quite know how I arrived at a correct, smearless solution in what seemed like a fast-for-me Friday time. I can't call it easy; took flying guesses everywhere and they turned out right. I guess even a blind squirrel...etc.

SMEAGOL certainly came via crosses, as did SAMOAS. Once you get by Lorna Doones and those thin mints, you got me. Last word in was YODEL (great clue!) when I realized SNOW_OWL needed a Y, and that gave me DANAE, another unknown, and the last letter of 25-down.

The SE wasn't that bad for me; two casino references helped. It's true though: They say "EASY" 8 or 6 because there are multiple ways to make those, but just "hard TEN" for 5-5, otherwise simply "TEN."

The way in was CLOSED-->SEEYA-->BODYSURFS. Who WAS that third GABOR? It was so long ago... Much as I'd love to pay tribute to ZsaZsa by making her DOD, I'm afraid the spirit of Eva might get jealous, and vice versa. So the award goes to KAREN Black.

A curious mix of old and new. Though weighted more toward new, it somehow failed to trip me up. Enjoyed it. Birdie.

P.S. Looked it up: the third was Magda, the eldest.

Burma Shave 2:23 PM  


after a SIXPACK and some STAR PLAY
he cried, "I'MIN, what's NEXTGEN?"


rondo 2:35 PM  

I've HADIT SOFAR with Black Friday, forgot about the SANITY clause. Har. I *saved* $765 before 8:00 this morning at a SERIES of 3 stores. Imagine what I actually spent. . .
Two write-overs, at first having FRATBoy and SNOWgeese.

JLO is an EASYTEN on the yeah baby scale.

In the STATE IMIN it's nap time. SEEYA.

Diana, LIW 5:25 PM  

FLATABS and INDIGO made an inauspicious beginning. But it got better. Then, not so much. Cheated. Finished. On to Sat. Still savoring the desert(s) from yesterday's repost.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 5:34 PM  

I was burned by the NEYO/POPO crossing. I had NEYs and POPs and had a funny feeling something wasn't right. What fooled me was the cluing which indicated the plural for 4D - so I went with the S. Of course I know now it was POPO, and I've seen it before so BOOHISS on me. As for Trenton Charslon, he scores an EASYTEN out of ten for this great pangrammatic offering.

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