Title girl in 1965 #1 hit / FRI 12-21-18 / Steve of rock guitar fame / 1987 children's best seller / Johann 16th century defender of Catholicism / Manhattan Project scientist Harold / Captain von Trapp's given name / Person depicted on Alabama state quarter / Denizen of Fangorn Forest

Friday, December 21, 2018

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Challenging (though I got unreasonably stuck in NW, so maybe more Medium-Challenging) (8:24)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Harold UREY (50D: Manhattan Project scientist) —
Harold Clayton Urey (April 29, 1893 – January 5, 1981) was an American physical chemist whose pioneering work on isotopes earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934 for the discovery of deuterium. He played a significant role in the development of the atom bomb, as well as contributing to theories on the development of organic life from non-living matter. [...] He was one of the founding members of UCSD's school of chemistry, which was created in 1960. He became increasingly interested in space science, and when Apollo 11 returned moon rock samples from the moon, Urey examined them at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Lunar astronaut Harrison Schmitt said that Urey approached him as a volunteer for a one-way mission to the Moon, stating "I will go, and I don't care if I don't come back." (wikipedia)
• • •

This was made unpleasant by a few things. The fill is OK—well, the longer fill is, at any rate. Some of that shorter stuff, though: ECK! The fill wasn't the really annoying thing; the cluing was. Hiding the plural BOOKS ON TAPE with a non-plural-looking clue (17A: Entertainment for a long ride, perhaps) did not produce an ultimate AHA, but an ugh. I had the TAPE part first, so the singularity of the answer really seemed solid, and I wanted something like a MIXTAPE (which is what I would listen to on a long ride, BOOKS ON TAPE being likely to put me to sleep) (oh, also, I don't have a tape deck anymore, what the hell? Even my car's CD player now seems quaint—failure to indicate "bygone"-itude gives this clue that special out-of-touch flavor solvers love so much). And then the dumb short ambiguous clues like 15A: Shot and 3D: Stock. In a corner where a girl's name (girl???) is SLOOPY and INONE is awkwardly severed from its lead-in (ALL), which is clear across the grid ... again, I say ECK to that whole corner. Took me forever despite my getting TIGER SHARKS right off the bat (1A: Striped sea predators).

Cluing again irksome in NE, especially the supremely awkward and not funny/clever 13D: Labor party member's holding? (UNION CARD). What is the wordplay here, beyond "labor"—I mean, "holding" is bizarre. It doesn't misdirect, it just muddles and muddies. Why would I expect someone in the (British) Labor Party to have a "holding"? That is the attempted misdirect there, right? "Labor party" ... ends up meaning simply a person who works (for a unionized group)? Awkward. Also, we "honor" MIAs? Did not know that. The SW was another struggle for me, with GEORG being a ??? and UREY really really being a ??? and then I had POLAND before POLSKA and BODYBAG took me forever because who watches "CSI"? The only thing I know about that show is DNALAB or something like that, right? That's what I think of when I think of that show. That, and the fact that I have never watched it or any of its spin-offs, or, come to think of it, anything at all that has aired on CBS since "Murder, She Wrote." Oh, and "OH MY DARLING" is super duper dumb as a stand-alone answer (59A: Repeated phrase in the chorus of a classic folk ballad).

Definitely had DEER SKINS before I had BEAR SKINS (14D: Hides in a cabin, perhaps), which made 12A: Whirlpool site (TUB) and 18A: Honoree on the third Friday of Sept. (MIA) really rough. Very happy I know baseball pretty well and grew up when TOM SEAVER was still in the league because that clue is (again) really non-specific and boring (12D: Hall-of-Fame pitcher who once struck out 10 consecutive batters). I have his autograph. I have his HOF t-shirt. He's from Fresno, same as me, so ... I got lucky there: a few crosses and I saw him quite clearly (though the only thing from the clue that "helped" was "Hall-of-Fame pitcher"). I should point out the worst cross: HULLO / UREY. Just horrendous. Just how is HULLO British? 'ELLO! I'd buy! 'ALLO, maybe! (or is that a French accent?) But HULLO just sounds odd. Adele sang "Hello," so ... I don't know what this clue's on about. As for UREY, yeesh. I just plain guessed that "U."

The more I think on it, the more TOM SEAVER seems problematic. Not in and of itself—he's great, and fine for a crossword—but crossing him with ENSOR and VAI presents real Natick possibilities, esp. at the "V." I just don't think this one was very thoughtfully constructed / clued, despite its containing some very decent longer fill.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Z 12:07 AM  

Liked this a good bit except for a couple of things Rex pointed out. UREY/HULLO is whac-a-vowel, not my favorite game. And TOM SEAVER crossing two rather obscure proper last names seems potentially unfair to non-baseball fans out there. Otherwise, a fine little tussle.

okanaganer 12:25 AM  

Mister broken record here; once again I finished with an error. I agree with @pmdm from yesterday that an appropriate acronym for this is DNFC (Did Not Finish Correctly). I had HALLO crossing AREY, which is pretty Naticky, I think. Don't they say HALLO over there? Why yes, Okanaganer, they do indeed!

What a curious but interesting clue for HELEN KELLER.

Note WIDOWER crossing BODY BAG (?!).

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE is an excellent, pleasingly humorous movie starring Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp. Rated 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fritz the Cat 12:39 AM  

Agreed with a thousand agrees on the Seaver corner. The triple proper noun was ruinous for me to the point where I had to consult Dr. Google.

jae 12:48 AM  

Mostly easy except for SE where POLand and east before HELM needed fixing...so, medium for me. UREY was somewhere in the cobwebs so no guessing was required. Also dEeR before BEAR. I thought the clueing was fine for a Frl. Nice to have a tougher puzzle for a change, liked it.

the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד 12:55 AM  

The lead characters in The Wind in the Willows greet one another "Hullo mole" and "hullo rat" in the first chapter. When I was little I assumed the non standard spelling was typical of rodents rather than Brits. Sloppy is the heroine of the song "Hang on Sloopy." We know she is a girl from the line "you know Sloopy girl, I'm in love with you."

Cory Calhoun 1:07 AM  

Pedants gonna pedant.

Loren Muse Smith 1:33 AM  

Rex - “…failure to indicate "bygone"-itude gives this clue that special out-of-touch flavor solvers love so much.” Rex. Ahem. I listen to BOOKS ON TAPE all the time. That’s what they’re called even though I download them from Audible, and I guess fancier/more precise people call them audio books? But your description of the clue as “out of touch” is, well, out of touch.

In fact, I’m just finishing up listening to the James Herriot series – it’s magnificent story-telling - and he used the word SUCCOR. James used it as a verb, though.

I liked TIGER SHARK. When the sharks were choosing their names, this group wanted to up the ante, really scare everyone. You could argue the same for the bullfrogs. And wolf spiders. Rhinoceros beetles. I think, though, that the edibles had kicked in when a bunch of birds went with “turtle” doves. Seriously? Dude! Seriously! Let’s confused the hell out of everyone. [snicker snicker]

I almost had a dnf with “my” crossing “Limnsgate.” Those production companies have all kinds of vague names. And why are there always like two or three production company, uh, what do you call those things before the movie starts – where the weird array of dots or lines or whatever slowly rearranges itself into the name of the company? Why so many?

What ruined the whole solving experience was I’M YOUR MAN. I’m sick of only men being used to represent the group of people who volunteer. This offensive, disgusting, chauvinistic language continues to perpetuate the idea that makes males the norm volunteers, and female volunteers nonexistent. C’mon, guys. Choose language that is inclusive, that reflects the proper values and vision of the world. If anyone wants to start a task force to look into sexism in grids, hit me up. I’m your guy, man.

Ok. So Peter is a tricky little sneaky sneak. I’ll never forget this Friday by Peter . SPOILER ALERT – LINK IS TO SOLUTION.

Anyhoo – go back today and look at, in this order, the starts of 29D, 1A, 14D, and 59A.

And then tell me you agree that OH MY DARLING is “super dumb” as an answer.

Peter – always a pleasure.

JOHN X 1:36 AM  

This was a pretty good Friday! I got burned by that HULLO thing but it was unfair so it doesn't count.

Did anyone else notice the theme in the four corners?

AdamW 1:42 AM  

My God, the complaining over nothing is insufferable. Good thing for the commenters.

Another great crossword. Had fun. Had challenges. That is all... Once I put in POLSKA over Poland it all came together.

The Seaver one was a gimme for me. And far far from being non-specific, as Rex claims, the 10 strikeouts is a giveaway and very specific, since that's a baseball record, and famous one at that. Just because you don't know something, doesn't make it a terrible awful no good abominable clue. Criminy.

puzzlehoarder 2:12 AM  

According to the xwordinfo lists prior to Shortz becoming the puzzle editor, HULLO and HALLO we're one of those either/or pairings you needed the cross entry to sort out. That's all fine and we'll but he's chloroformed HULLO for his entire watch. Over 25 years later he brings it out of mothballs to pair it up with UREY. There has to be a bus out there somewhere waiting for him to step in front of it. "Why HULLO there" THUMP.

How has UREY slipped through the cracks on me until now? Just did.

SLOOPI I have no one to blame for but me. I saw "French Open" and I just figured they wanted French. The I looks a little funny but the sound of the entry doesn't change so that must just be how they spelled it. Wrong. Back then I thought they were singing about SNOOPY anyway. I was a bit younger.

At least I changed GAI to VAI to avoid a triple dnf.

Brookboy 3:01 AM  

I would never have seen the corners (LIONS, BEARS, TIGERS, OH MY) the way they were meant to be seen without that nifty prompt from LMS, and I thank her for that.

Very surprised that I’M YOUR MAN got by the Times vetting staff. As I entered the answer I was thinking that this entry was gonna light up the board. “Hullo? Hullo?”

Took me a few minutes and some crosses to remember that Tom Seaver had that baseball accomplishment. As my past relentlessly keeps growing, so does the amount of trivia that somehow finds its way into my memory and then insists on getting in the way when I’m trying to actually remember something. Oh, the perils of aging...

jae 3:04 AM  

@Z - Just watched episode 1 of “Tin Man”. Trippy, fun, and Zoey Decshenal, liked it!

Harryp 3:13 AM  

I had MAi for French Open start, and didn't think SNOOPi was wrong. The only reason I changed to the Y was because I dind't get the happy tone, so technically a DNFC. Otherwise an average Friday time.

Harryp 3:40 AM  

I meant SLOOPY, not SNOOPY.

Unknown 5:16 AM  

I was unable to finish this specifically because of the problems you mentioned here, all having to do with not-famous (to me) white men (or maybe I should call them “boys” since I guess we’re calling adult women “girls” today). Was left staring at TOM_EA_ER at 12D and _REY at 50D (I knew it would be UREY or AREY, but yeah, completely arbitrary editorial decision for HULLO there instead of HALLO). I enjoyed this puzzle mostly but ended up completely disappointed and frustrated that I couldn’t count it as a solve because of these random intersecting white boys. Pfft.

Unknown 5:24 AM  

They are most certainly called audiobooks these days, not just by “fancy” or “precise” people. Unless you’re literally borrowing a cassette tape from a library, the format is uniformly called audiobook at every library and vendor (ex., Amazon) in America, and has been called that for at *least* ten years. So yes, I definitely think calling it a “tape” should be bygone-d.

Egoldfinger 5:31 AM  

Last letter to drop for me was the U in HULLO. I live in London and nobody here says "hullo". It's not a thing.

Unknown 5:38 AM  

p.s. I would definitely join an intersectional crossword task force. Reeeeally tired of how many straight white males are constantly clued vis-a-vis everyone else.

Music Man 5:47 AM  

I had RHONDA for 6D at first; the other title girl of a 1965 #1 song. “Help Me, Rhonda” by The Beach Boys.

TrudyJ 6:15 AM  

TOM SEAVER crossing ENSOR was as Naticky as could be for me, knowing neither baseball nor painting. The V was no problem though as I am surrounded by guitarists.

Lewis 6:17 AM  

@lms -- Remarkable catch at the end of your post!!!

This was a bit of a thrill ride for me, with those near-islands in the NW and SE and much vague cluing. I engaged in some hard brain scouring offset by joyous pings when an elusive answer hit, and wows at some wickedly clever clues (i.e. those for HANDS and BEARSKINS). I ended with an ALL IN ONE feeling of satisfaction. Bravo, sir Peter!

My well-scattered family is gloriously reuning, and I shall return to posting the end of next week. Happy holidays!

Z 6:44 AM  

@synanonymous - No, seriously, there is a website that sells audiobooks that is BOOKS ON TAPE. Rex just whiffed on that one. I agree with him on the whole notion of listening to audiobooks, but I know several people with long commutes who find them better than the radio. Me, give me books on paper. I don’t even like reading on a tablet all that much. Anyway, I notice the little ™️ next to BOOKS ON TAPE, so I’m guessing “audiobook” is more about lawyers than precision in language.

OTOH - Love your “random intersecting white boys.” RIWBs!


Speaking of which, no @John X, I did not until @LMS pointed it out mere nanoseconds before you. In my defense, I don’t look for themes on a Friday and it was late when I solved. I thought OH MY DARLING was fine even before seeing the Oz connection. Now I consider it an outstanding entry.

@AdamW - The clue for TOM SEAVER is of a type, the sort that gives oddly specific but widely useless information. Except for a niche group, everything after “pitcher” does nothing to help solvers. While Rex whiffed again with his “really non-specific,” I followed his meaning. For Rex, you, and I that clue was helpful. But for lots of people all those words boil down to “some sports dude I’ve never heard of.”

Melissa 7:05 AM  

Seriously. Compare and contrast the delightful, witty and appreciative commentary of Deb Amlen at Wordplay.

Jim Lemire 7:16 AM  

In Rex’s writeup, why is the word ‘Eck’ stylized as if it was an answer to one of the puzzle’s clues? What am I missing?

John H 7:17 AM  

I am surprised that Rex missed the one truly unforgivable thing: 26A. The answer to the start can ONLY be "Mai" (and who knows whether it's sloopY or SloopI). If you want the answer to be May, find another clue, like Memorial Day's month. The French Open is in France, so the answer is "Mai."

'merican in Paris 7:33 AM  

I filled in the NW pretty quickly, slotting in TIBER and TIGER SHARKS immediately without a cross. I then worked my way southward, and then eastward, but like @Fritz the Cat got stuck in the north-east and had to start consulting Google. That still did not keep me from being unable to find the errors at the HULLO-UREY cross (had HaLLO), and also the LIONS GATE, TAS cross (I had GAmE and MAS).

Other than those, I liked the puzzle, especially INNOCULATION, BAREBACK, and HELLEN KELLER. Thought there was a sub-theme of Bees, especially in the center. Nice pairing of SNEERED and HEH-heh, also, as well as WHO'S WHO? crossing WHERE'S WALDO?

Got GEORG straight off, because our son's girlfriend happened to be talking about "The Sound of Music" just yesterday, and offered the bit of trivia that the father of the family was only referred to as GEORG once or twice in the film.

Got BARN also quickly, as the BARN on the farm on which I grew up in Maine was, indeed, painted red. That area had been settled by Finnish loggers, and several years ago I visited SW Finland and was pleased to see that the architecture and color of the BARNs in that area were similar to those of my youth. I have often wondered if the red comes from the addition of bull's blood to the paint. Anybody here know?

Joe R. 7:39 AM  

I would never have gotten TOM SEAVER without the S, but I was fortunate that James ENSOR was a gimme, thanks to They Might Be Giants. Of course, now that song is going to be stuck in my head for the next hour.

I definitely know a number of people who still call them BOOKS ON TAPE, even though there is no tape involved.

And thank you LMS for pointing out the corners. I hadn't noticed, and that's delightful!

Gulliver Foyle 7:45 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith

For your list of "animals that got first pick of names," add the tarantula hawk.

kitshef 7:46 AM  

Challenging for me, too. The NE was particularly thorny, with MIA and VAI and ENSOR all tough to see even after TOM SEAVER fell. Wanted greeNCARD, which fit so nicely with a lot of the crosses.

HULLO, on the other hand, went right in off the second 'L'. Of course, it came back out when I wanted either east or west for HELM (at one point I had both 49D and 31D Schroedingered between west and east, figuring once I got one I would know the other).

26A, MAY, gave me a ton of trouble, too. Had 'ete' at first, then MAi (which is how you spell the month in French). And that led to a heckuva dilemma at MAi/SLOOPi or MAY/SLOOPY. I did go with MAY, being convinced that the song girl was SLOOPY, but it was a nervy time.

Unknown 7:49 AM  

There’s a website called audiobooks.com as well, so I’m not sure what booksontape.com proves, other than that it is a phrase that exists, which no one is refuting. What I’m saying is that it’s a pretty dusty phrase, and that “audiobooks” has far surpassed “books on tape” as the go-to terminology. And FWIW, I’m a librarian and an avid audiobook listener, so I’m fairly familiar with this subject.

(Note: I am the @synanonymous user; I just updated my settings to show my Google account rather than my Blogger.com account)

kitshef 7:49 AM  

@Jim Lemire - see 4Down.

Teedmn 7:52 AM  

I had @puzzlehoarder's SLOOPi. I thought the name was SLOOPY but that French in the 26A clue got me to override my tenuous knowledge of the song. (And I thought it was SnOOPY back in the day also. Hey, I was five.)

I smiled when the fine or dark objects at 28D were ARTS and not "hair" as I expected.

I had none of Rex's problems in the NW but I definitely held my breath on the HULLO or HaLLO guess but 'allo is definitely more French.

I didn't even count out whether OH Susanna would fit in at 59A. Not long enough so I'm glad I just waited for the fill to show MY DARLING. Though for the brief time I had POLand in at 42D, I tried to come up with and OH __d_LINe song. Madeline wouldn't fit.

I loved seeing SUCCOR (heh, S_CC__ isn't SoCCeR!) And no matter what the actual medium is, I probably still refer to 17A as BOOKS ON TAPE.

I liked it, a fine Friday, though the VAI, ENSOR combo in the NE nearly did me in; TOM SEAVER provided relief in that corner.

Unknown 7:54 AM  

p.s. I guess in my original comment I should’ve said “virtually” instead of “literally”. But that’s what I meant! Here’s to precision 😉

amyyanni 8:04 AM  

Love love love Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my. Thanks LMS. And I too struggled with Rhonda instead of Sloopy for too long, even though I can still sing both.

The Pro 8:09 AM  

@John Hnedak 7:17 AM

The French Open is always held in MAY. "Championnats Internationaux de France de tennis and Tournoi de Roland-Garros" is held in MAI.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Yesterday I was wondering if it was even possible that I could finish faster than Rex, and decided that only if he got stuck on something random. Today--4 seconds slower. By far the closest I've come.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Wasn’t Mr. Rochester just posing as a widower until the very end of the book? I had Rhonda down first as well.

Z 8:36 AM  

@Nikki Karam - You also said “uniformly” which led me to believe that you meant that BOOKS ON TAPE is never used anymore. Given how language evolves randomly (we still “hang up the phone” even though the majority of people alive now have never had a wall phone), I’m sticking with my theory that the term “audiobooks” only exists because someone trademarked BOOKS ON TAPE. Either way, since it took me all of 3 nanoseconds to find BOOKS ON TAPE actively in business, any “ByGone-itude” indicator would be inaccurate. No doubt you’re right that “audiobook” is the industry standard term.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

I really can't wait for the day when we stop getting these old-timey baseball clues. Is the average solver actually expected to have like 70 years worth of baseball rosters memorized?

Brit solves the NYT 8:51 AM  

Urg. Being British and having been British for 40 years now I can tell you I have never heard 'hullo' once in my life anywhere across England, Wales and Scotland. 99.999% of the time I hear 'hello' and 0.001% of the time I hear 'hallo'.

So...yeah...that clue is just wrong. It happens quite a lot that the clues marked as "in Britain" or similar are actually words that are never used here, or at least since 1890 when the US dictionary being referenced probably first wrote the entries and cited them as British. I thin kit would be useful if the NYT were to check the clues it marks as being British with an actual Brit so they can tell them if they're correct or not.

Other than that... no idea on Tom Seaver, so I natick'd on ensor and vai just as predicted by Rex.

Chet 8:52 AM  

That librarian gal is pretty angry at BOOKSONTAPE. There's some irony. Look it up!

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Hang on, because I'm calling foot fault on MA(i)(y) crossing SLOOP(i)(y).

As someone else said, who the hullo has any idea how Sloop_ is spelled.

QuasiMojo 8:53 AM  

OY! Anonymous @8:22am beat me to it. The whole point of Jane Eyre (spoiler alert) is that he was NOT a widower. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle despite some overwrites on my end.,I thought the Pantheon clue was a trick because isn’t there a Pantheon in Paris too? I plopped in Seine before Tiber. Didn’t know from Tiger Sharks. Never heard a Book on Tape. I don’t listen to audiotapes neither, loathe podcasts, NPR, and can’t bear Adele. Hullo!?? Why did you inflict her on us this morning, Rex? Eck. I won’t share with y’all what I had before Inoculation for shot. I was channeling Henry James. Actually Inoculation and Bareback in the same “GRID” plus “body bag” exudes some grim black humor. Definitely one for the Business End. But OH MY DARLING Loren, what a fine catch today. I never would have “thunk” it.

UREA? 8:56 AM  

TOMSEAVER is one of those "if you've ever paid any attention at all to baseball in the last 100 years you'd know a handful of names and he'd be one of them" names. I can't tell you what Tom Seaver looks like, what team he played for, or any of his stats. But "HoF Pitcher" with a "EA-R" at the end is just going to be him. I knew Steve Vai, so the "EAVER" string made it even simpler.

I know a lot of names this way. I don't know anything about a lot of authors, painters, politicians, etc., but I just know them because they've made a home in my brain somewhere and because I know them in that indirect osmosis kind of way, I figure those are the names that will be in the puzzle.

That said, UREY was not one of those names. And I'll pile on to say that HULLO was ridiculous. Midwesterners say "HULLO," the British do not. I absolutely hate it when puzzles are stupid this way. Seriously, in what world?

BOOKSONTAPE was another one that is stupid. Either this constructor is 60 years old and hasn't quite caught on to modern technology, or he wrote the puzzle 10 years ago when "tape" was thing. I haven't owned a cassette tape deck in years. Long gone are the days I would go toe the library and check out a "Book on Tape" for a long trip. Books that are recorded (and put on the now nearly obsolete CD) are actually not every on tape anymore ever. They're recorded digitally now. Tape hasn't been used for a very very long time. It should have been clued "Entertainment for a long ride, perhaps...15 years ago."

paulsfo 9:00 AM  

BTW,in the Wordplay blog, the "Constructor's Notes" is simply: "I’d like to dedicate this one to Dorothy."

Rube 9:03 AM  

Perfect tone for a Friday. Rex is complaining because of his own inadequacies. When the clue spells Warsaw in Polish, you have to expect the answer to also be in Polish. Sorry that you don't know the lead male role in one of the most famous musicals and movie musicals and true life stories of all time. I thought deerskins too, but since I couldn't prove it, I just went another way instead of just assuming I was right. Booksontape was an excellent clue and answer because of the interior plural. This was a fine Friday level puzzle.

mmorgan 9:11 AM  

I found this to be a good, challenging Friday and Rex found much of it annoying, so all is back to normal in the world. (I've been thrown off since he liked a puzzle more than I did the other day.)

I enjoyed finding myself getting enough from crosses to be able to correctly fill in the answers for somewhat vague and obscure clues ("Person depicted on the Alabama state quarter"?!? "1987 children's best seller"?!?) Yikes! But the answers, of course, were quite well known, so all that and more was fun and fair.

I don't watch it, and maybe it's not as popular these days, but CSI is the 5th highest rated TV program of all time, based on audience size when it aired and longevity (www.timbrooks.net/ratings/).

I know a fair amount about baseball, but I have huge gaps in my historical knowledge. And Vai was also a black hole. So... for 12D, "Bob Seager" seemed pretty reasonable to me (and he sounds like *somebody*... oh, almost a musician). And with dEeRSKINS in there, my poor NE was a disaster.

I also had MAi for 26A, but I knew 6D wasn't SLOOPi, so I reluctantly changed the I to Y, knowing the "correct" answer was wrong. Or something like that.

@LMS -- what a nifty, brilliant observation, OH MY! I could have looked at the puzzle for days without noticing that pattern in the corners. Wow, that is so cool!!

I enjoyed yesterday's puzzle but I found many of the comments here distressing. The question of whether it's appropriate, or wise, or innocent, or offensive (etc.) to include words such as YEMEN or MYANMAR or MAO (AND SO ON!!) in puzzles is a reasonable and complex one to explore, and it's open to legitimate, serious differences of opinion. But when many (not all, but many) are simply hurling insults and invective, it's just depressing and fails to shed any useful light on a complicated and important question. Just sayin'.

Suzie Q 9:20 AM  

When I see Peter Collins in the by-line I know I'm in for a struggle.
Lots of names today and Harold Arey kept me from a perfect finish but when a vowel in a proper last name is all that keeps me from success I still feel like it's a win. Just look at all the trickiness that I did figure out.
I thought that last G in Oh My Darling didn't feel right because it probably was elided in the Old West dialect.
Books on tape is like Kleenex or Scotch Tape to me.
Not using a capital P in Labor party was a nice trick. I actually was looking for something related to childbirth at first because it IS Friday.
The Jane Eyre clue/answer seemed wrong but it does become true at the end of the story. Still it is a lie that is a major part of the plot so maybe some other clue would have been better.
So thanks once again to Peter. Nice one.
Best part was the hidden line from Wizard of Oz. That really made my day.

OffTheGrid 9:22 AM  

No, it's MAY. In the US we call it the French Open and we spell May M-a-y. So 26A is solid. Have you not heard of misdirection in crosswords? However, MAi would have been fine if that was the intended answer.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

My grandmother called the electric appliance in her kitchen an icebox into the 1970s. Squarely in the audiobooks camp.

GILL I. 9:30 AM  

Gee...What entertaining comments today. It's always fun to start with DARLING @Loren - she will give you the smile you need. I'm cracking up at your IMYOURMAN vitriol. Yes, indeedy.
Speaking of....@Brit solves 8:51. I feel your pain. I've been married to a Brit for over 33 years and despite being a scouser, I've NEVER EVER heard him say or pronounce HULLO. It's cheers in this back yard. Shortz and company do that a lot with languages. He also allows a lot of massacring of SPANISH. At least he got the British GREY right!
Really like this hard (for me) puzzle. Lots I didn't know; lots I guessed, lots to groan and plenty to like.
My eyes glaze over when I see baseball names and scientists and words like BELLI and POLSKA. I remembered GEORG from von Trapp because we just had him the other day...remember?
I did have just one Google. One is pretty good for me on a Friday. Of all things it was BODY BAG. I just could not get started in the NE. Nothing was coming to me. Once in place I could start pulling answers out of the hat.
I played with SHOT GUN as the one way to ride. Of course not...It's BAREBACK. Been there, done that, it hurts like hell if your horse isn't fat and doesn't have a long mane to hold on to. It also hurts your bum if it happens to be one of those awkward trotters. English saddle, please.
@Quasi...I LOVE ADELE but I also love men dancing in cages!. Her voice is untrained beauty to my ears. She's never had a lesson in her life and yet she can hit high and low with some sexy purity. I could listen to her all day....Hah!

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

There was a comedian who did a great response to Adele's song "hello" which I fortuitously caught on an airport television. The comedian said, this is my version of the guy's response to Adele's song, hello. Then he strums two chords on his guitar, says "Adele who?" and then puts down the guitar. You can never listen to Adele's song the same way again.

I got naticked with Vai, Ensor and Seaver. Vai who? Ensor who? Seaver who?

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

SLOOPi/MAi vs SLOOPY/MAY: The answer logically HAS to be SLOOPY/MAY. The clue was in English (French Open) and un-abbreviated. There is only one three-letter month and in English that is MAY.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

I had much more trouble in the East than the West and the puzzle ended up being harder than I first thought it would be. Writeovers included REMAILS before RESHIPS; POLAND before POLSKA and HAR before HEH (damn, I hate those stupid laugh syllables.) But there were some very good clues, including BEARSKINS (14D); WORDS (39A) and HELEN KELLER (57A). On the latter, I thought the person on the Alabama state quarter was going to be a 'Bama football star, so good for you, Alabama, for honoring someone truly worth honoring.

We just saw Captain von Trapp's given name in a recent NYT puzzle. But I can always be counted on to forget, so I needed lots of crosses. I've heard of several of the Manhattan Project scientists, but not this one. Nor did I know the VAI guy or the ENSOR guy. But TOM SEAVER goes back to the days when I still watched baseball. That was back in the era when a game took two hours, not four hours, to play.

I also remember SLOOPY. "Hang on, SLOOPY, hang on./Hang on, SLOOPY, hang on" is what I remember. She was a girl? Does she sound like a girl? It never once crossed my mind that she was a girl!

A pleasant Friday, but not one of the really memorable ones.

pmdm 9:40 AM  

For a Frank Zappa fan, Steve Vai would be a gimme, since he played with Zappa towards the end of Zappa's career. I read a quote once that Zappa said he quit playing the lead guitar because Vai was so much better than him.

Too much PPP for me but as usual I respond to this constructor's playfulness.

Cato Rosenbaum 9:42 AM  

Wait, @Melissa at 705 AM, you’re telling me that the house blog at the New York Times is very appreciative of and likes the New York Times Crossword? Weeeeeeeeeeurd and totally not biased at all

Cato Rosenbaum 9:43 AM  

16A is ONE

I hope someone got fired for this blunder.

C zar 9:53 AM  

HULLO/UREY - ugh! Had SPA for 12A Whirlpool Site, that really slowed me down until I sussed out "SEAVER"


Rocky B 9:55 AM  

I enjoyed @Loren’s unusually vitriotc rant about a pretty docile clue - which RUINED HER WHOLE SOLVING EXPERIENCE! Good to see that she is an ardent disciple of OFL’s First Commandment of Crossword Construction (FCCC), which states “If any clue may possibly be interpreted as perjorative, by anyone, anywhere, at any time - it must so be construed, and both the constructor and editor must be publicly vilified”. Don’t know how that one escaped Rex - he may have been distracted by Tom Seaver (isn’t the inclusion of only a male athlete another example of the terrible injustice perpetrated today ?).

Jerry Koosman 10:03 AM  

May was clued correctly because the clue as in English just as Polska was clued correctly because the clue was in Polish (I assume, not knowing Polish).

The guy in Nampa 10:04 AM  

Easy for a Friday... a low Thursday time, for me.
This time, I ate the bear.

GHarris 10:06 AM  

Working on paper didn’t have the benefit of the lack of happy tone to alert me to my missteps; mai for May, Wally for Waldo (even though I suspected 47d should be Georg),so dnf. LMS would the clue for 30d been more acceptable if it read “a Leonard Cohen song”?

Bagelboy 10:06 AM  


all the same number of letters

Amelia 10:24 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:25 AM  

@Rocky 9:55 AM

I think you missed the punch-line at the end of the LMS rant.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

That is atrocious! Outrageous! Firing isn't good enough. Put them in a BODYBAG

Kevin 10:34 AM  

I know almost nothing about painting but much more about They Might Be Giants, which made the clue about Belgium's famous painter easy.


jrstocker 10:34 AM  

This was my slowest Friday of the year. Didn't particularly hate it, but felt like it was very much a Saturday.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Pretty easy for a Friday, but enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks very much Mr. Collins.

TomAz 10:39 AM  

I thought this was an OK puzzle til I read LMS' comments.. didn't see the Oz stuff on my own. Now I like it better.

I wonder if IM YOUR MAN could have been clued as the Leonard Cohen song instead? It's what immediately popped into my mind.

I must be weird, I got ENSOR and VAI without hesitation and they helped me see TOM SEAVER. "Meet James Ensor, Belgium's famous painter..."

pabloinnh 10:47 AM  

Good Friday. (I know, wrong time of year.)

I think it's a fun discussion concerning HULLO. Some folks, myself included, remembered reading it somewhere and put it right in. Others who seem sincere to me swear that no such thing exists or has ever existed. Interesting.

Arden 10:51 AM  

Naticked on Urey/Hullo. Who knows that?

OldCarFudd 10:56 AM  

The British Labour party is always spelled with a u, even in the NYT. So if you fell for the misdirect, you should have known better.

jberg 11:02 AM  

ENSOR was my entry to the puzzle-- it's been in another puzzle (though maybe not the NYT) already this week, and anyway I've seen some of his paintings, though not many. OTOH, although I've certainly heard of TOM SEAVER, I somehow remembered him as SEAgER, and had no idea about the guitarist. So DNF (by my rules, you are free to have your own!)

The language thing has been explained already, so I'll just add that on Fridays and Saturdays you can't always count on the rules' being followed. So I did go with MAi at first, but corrected it quickly. (@Nancy, the other lyrics make SLO0PY's gender more specific.)

@'Mericans, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thought INOCULATION had a third N up near the front.

@Loren and others -- how do you notice such things? Do they just occur to you while solving, or do you go back when you're done and look for patterns? Anyway, it's a great insight!

BTW, no one else seems to have had my second biggest problem -- pic before PIX, reading the clue as singular. I looked at BOcY for some time before it became clear.

@Loren, I got your email explaining the avatar even before I came here! I guess you are familiar with my ignorance of what sports figures look like, and just assumed I'd need the help!

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Hip, Hip, Urey! Great puzzle Mr. Collins.
I assume Rex has some personal ax to grind with you; that or he's off his meds again. This puzzle is a winner.

Joe 11:13 AM  

Emerging from longtime lurking just long enough to say I'm far more a fan of LMS than OFL, and thanks for pointing out the Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My! I wouldn't have noticed that in a million years but it just gave me an unexpected smile on a day where that is needed more than usual. Thanks for being you.

CT2Napa 11:15 AM  

For a discussion of Roland Garros vs French Open see:


Probably would have errored out on paper, but "Whack a vowel"ed (thanks for that term) H_LLO for a full finish.

Carola 11:16 AM  

Huh. I thought it was on the easy side, of course with the qualifier "for a Friday," and a fun one. Still, the start wasn't promising. My italIAN dressing kept me from seeing the TIGER SHARKS et al in the NW, and "spa" gave me no chance at traction in the NE. But ENSOR and GREENS gave me the toehold I needed to start stair-stepping down the center diagonal into the lower tier. HMOS then got me RESHIPS and the rest of the NW, and erasing spa allowed the NE to snap into focus.

re: HULLO - Can't speak to its use in the wild, but I run into it often enough in books, more as an exclamation of surprise ("What do we have here?!") rather than a greeting.

@Loren, thank you - OH MY, what a find! I also liked LION x LIEON.

QuasiMojo 11:21 AM  

@ GILL I knew you’d pick up on that Adele swipe. I saw on your blogger page that you love her. That’s what makes the world go round. I can listen to someone like Dorothy Squires for hours, while some toss her fading albums into the trashbin. One of the reasons I enjoy following you is that you don’t flip out on people here just because they disagree with you. And you’re a hoot to boot! :)

Silasxl 11:24 AM  

As a native Alabaman, if it came down to a popular vote in the state, there is no doubt in my mind, Bear Bryant(legendary University of Alabama football coach) would win a head-to-head matchup by a landslide.

Joe 11:25 AM  

@lms I meant this to be a reply to your comment but I R not gud @ this.

JC66 11:25 AM  


OH MY, as other things keep getting worse, you keep getting better.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Don't know how one can get more specific than a pitcher who once struck out 10 CONSECUTIVE BATTERS. Unless of course it is no big deal to do so. Srsly, Rex, how many pitchers in the history of baseball have done that!?!?!?!

I just don't know why Rex puts himself through this daily misery. I thought this puzzle was a pleasure, even give all the proper names in the NE corner. And even though the Hullo/Urey cross is a bear (or it is a lion? or a tiger?)

And Lauren Muse Smith is a genius. That's all there is to it.

June Fox 11:30 AM  

No, what theme? Thanks.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Anon 11:28,
Rex is nuts. The clue for Seaver is great. to answer your obviously rhetorical question, no other pitcher has K'd 10 in a row, Seaver might have had more. But those ten batters were the last ten outs of the game.

'merican in Paris 11:40 AM  

Only just now checked out @LMS's instructions to go back and look at the starts of 29D, 1A, 14D, and 59A, in that order. OH MY! The pearl in the oyster.

Some other cool animal names: elephant hawk moth, lionfish, pistol shrimp, razor clam, vampire bat. My guess is that it was a group of stoned crab that came up with the name of turtle dove, however.

@jberg: Huh (or should that be HEH?), I hadn't noticed that I had misspelled INOCULATE in my previous posting. But it is true that I tried to fit in the three Ns when I answered 15A. Anybody have any explanation why the spelling is INOCULATE, but INNOCUous and INNOCent?

Hungry Mother 11:46 AM  

Just a pure slog today for me. I’m more stubborn than clever and have plenty of time, so I just keep plodding. Not much joy at the end, just relief.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Dear skins Rex, really? I've been in my fair share of cabins--hunting and otherwise--and I've never seen a deerskin in one. There are all kind of ways to mount-from wall pedestal and shoulders to full body-- but I've never seen the hide save on a mount.
Now, deerskin gloves I've seen. Buckskin pants and jacket? Always in style. But a deer skin lying around or a hung on a wall? Nah. You need to get out more. Or talk to the men in your neighborhood. I recall your twitter feed where you mentioned everybody there hunts ( save you)

RooMonster 11:47 AM  

Hey All !
Got every corner but the SE. And one other error at BOINk/NOTCHINk. If NOT CHINK was correct, I was waiting for another Rex blowup. Back to that SE corner, had to find an Alabama quarter to see who was on it. Which got me to see both my Har for HEH and wEst for HELM were wrong. (Couldn't get the card game Bridge out of the ole brain.) Also had POLand for POLSKA making WALDO tough to see. And, PIc for PIX, so BOc_ was a Wha?, making BODYBAG unseeable. Whew! (Phew?) Plus, WHOSWHO was not WHO-ing until the quarter look at cheat. 45, 46, 47D were toughies. OY.

Writeovers, spa-TUB, slEep-layON-LIEON, OhS-OYS HourS-HANDS. Plus the aforementioned ones.

So not as bad as other FriPuzs for me (even though it sounds like it was)(but it was only one corner today)(instead of whole puz.)(Annoying parentheses, eh?)HEH.

"I know WORDS, I have lots of WORDS" or whatever it was Knucklehead Number One said.


Unknown 12:07 PM  

That French Open clue is just broken. I would absolutely have spelled it SLOOPY except, *French*?? Of *course* the answer is MAI. So I’m all, “it’s Sloopi? Really? Weird.”

TubaDon 12:09 PM  

     Got started late but was proud of myself for guessing WHERESWALDO and BAREBACK from one cross. Did not do so will with guesses ITALIAN and DEERSKIN, but finally straightened those out, ending on SLOOP_ and couldn't decide between the I and the Y. (I'd feel sorry for a girl with a name like that.) Kudos to Loren for finding the Wiz of Oz reference.

Dr. Gene 12:09 PM  

You are all a bunch of wannabes, and obnoxious to boot. Easy to carp and find fault. Did Rex ever like any puzzle? When was the last one he did for the NYT? I just enjoy the challenge and it's not often that I complete a Friday puzzle. I like to take my time and looking at the clock takes away from the enjoyment. How many of you bloggers have ever tried to create a crossword? Shabbat Shalom.

Odd Sock 12:12 PM  

Like @pmdm, Vai went in right away. Big Zappa fan here.
Some of those other names were out of my personal realm but overall this was a solid Friday.
I have always liked it when someone uses "business end" to describe something. The meaning is always clear.
Happy Solstice!

old timer 12:13 PM  

Almost every day I thank God that @LMS does not write the blog, because her comments are so wonderful and having to write the blog would limit her ability to amuse. And I just love it when OFL blames the constructor for his own failings.ds

Though note, he did finish the puzzle, warts and all. As did I, though VAI was a total guess. But I was pretty sure the pitcher of fame was TOM SEAVER.

OH MY DARLING provided my D'OH moment. If anyone should have guessed that right away, it is I.

No problem with HULLO. It was what people wrote back in the day, and HULLO is certainly a pronunciation you hear.

Doc John 12:13 PM  

I went to UCSD for undergrad so UREY was a gimme. There's even a whole building named after him there. That's where they have the famous watermelon drop every year.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Great puzzle!

Only hard part for me was the lower-right corner. When I finally guessed 38D -- never read any of Bronte books,but knew she was a governess and made the leap -- I was able to get 44A and then removed some earlier guesses. 57A was more new information for me. I would have never guessed.

Surprised that 50D was hard for people. But, I find guessing Rap names and current starlets much harder.

Canis Nebula 12:26 PM  

First DNF for me in a very long time. Double Natick at TOM SEAVER with ENSOR and VAI. Not fun.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Will someone please explain the answer to 19A? Business “end”?

Greg 12:39 PM  

Proper name disaster. Never heard of SEAVER, VAI or ENSOR, so really no way to finish this one for me. Also figured it could be HALLO or HULLO, but not knowing UREY meant the U was another complete guess. Frustrating.

Bob Mills 12:59 PM  

I had "HALLO" and "AREY" instead of "HULLO" and "UREY." Otherwise 100%. Typical hard Friday.

Odd Sock 1:05 PM  

@ Anonymous 12:36, As an admirer of the phrase I will try. Let's use something like a spear, for example. One end is the handle and the other, the one with the sharp point, is the "business end". It is as versatile a phrase as your imagination allows.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Hey everybody,

Check out Rex's twitter feed. Someone pointed out that he mossed lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
At first he dismissed the idea of looking at the comments. Then he relented, and finished up with sh**ing all over the puzzle again. I think his screed was mostly directed at Shortz ( what else is new). But instead of owning up to his own shortcoming he lashed out. It goes without saying that he didn't even have the decency to give credit to the astute LMS. No, just another sad philippic from the hustings.
Ladies, with a champion feminist like Rex on our side how can we lose?! I know I'll be rushing to his side for some of his can't-miss mentoring. LOL

Masked and Anonymous 1:18 PM  

@Anonymous, 12:36PM: Kinda like the "business end of a bowie knife", I reckon?

@Muse darlin: M&A was just relieved, that the 1-A predators wasn't PEWITSHARKS.

Darn good FriPuz, but that UREY/HULLO cross was in-deed a killer … thank goodness for the M&A unknown vowel rule: when in doubt, splatz in a U.

staff weeject picks: Tie, between ECK and VAI. Persons of mystery, to M&A. Nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW, btw.
fave fillins: WHERESWALDO. LIONSGATE [they distribute lotsa schlock flicks]. INOCULATION. HELENKELLER. WHOSWHO.

Thanx, Mr. Collins. Feisty themeless thrashin.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

DrBB 1:27 PM  

Rex, Rex... I have some sympathy here but...

- "Hullo, Eeyore." "Hullo Pooh"
- VAI: Should have received kudos, not carping. Certainly a fantastic guitarist not usually (ever?( featured in xword land and a nifty fit for a 3-letter clue.
- SLOOPY: Yes, "girl." Cuz I think when we're talking '65 AM radio hits for teenagers, "woman" suggests something totally off-kilter.
- Severing the lead-in from the follow-up isn't fair game? Huh. There are a heckufalotta xwords that disagree with you.

OTOH, yeah, BOOKS ON TAPE hasn't been a thing in at least a decade--clue should have acknowledged that. And as a matter of preferance I'd rather have seen Hus Instead of ECK, but that's a different puzzle. UREY a bit of a Natick, but Pooh tipped my guess in the right direction.

Thought this was a pretty workmanlike (or workwoman if you prefer) Friday with a couple of pleasurable moments. Nice to see LAITY instead of the insufferably crosswordese "laic." The aforementioned Steve VAI. And on a personal note: my brother once challenged me adding Y to BOX for a triple-word score, and the adjectival wasn't in the accursed dictionary we were using (Webster's Collegiate, if memory serves). I still haven't forgiven him. Vindication at last!

DeeJay 1:28 PM  

F***ing awesome. Thanks.

Anoa Bob 1:34 PM  

With the initial U in place and C_RD at the end of 13D, my first thought when reading the clue "Labor party member's holding" was UMBILICAL CORD. Too many letters.

I feel like I'm standing outside in the cold and rain, forlornly looking through a misty window at a bunch of healthy, happy people sitting around a warm, glowing fire, laughing and sharing good times. I dutifully looked at the starts of LMS's list and saw LION, TIGER, BEAR and OH. Huh?. And then I see many others oohing and aahing (or is that ahhing?) at the great find. And I see the constructor's notes referred to the Wiz of Oz. Still don't get it. OH well.

Did a puzz once with a double animal name theme (CHE 7/20/12). There are a bunch of them out there. The need for matching letter counts resulted in Turtle Dove, Elephant Seal, Spider Monkey and TIGER SHARK. My favorite that I was unable to work into the grid was Zebra Finch.

AdamW 1:36 PM  

Not any more than painters, poets, directors, opera singers, rivers and Harry Potter characters.. All of which I know nothing about but manage to solve anyway, daily.

AdamW 1:40 PM  

Only one struck out 10 in a row, specifically :)

AdamW 1:45 PM  

I get that. I was only addressing the part about it being specific. It was obvious to me and may not be to others, just as a half dozen clues per day, I have no clue the proper name reference. And that's OK with me. But it was definitely specific.

JC66 1:46 PM  

@Anoa Bob


Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Have to chime in on the HULLO-baloo, I know its Friday, but that was a rough cross. Maybe if I had spent some time recently reading Winnie the Pooh books, I would have entertained the other possible choice for H_LLO, but if there is a more obscure Manhattan project scientist than Harold Urey I invite someone to submit their own vote.

Tom Seaver was a gimme, and like @Rex, I had his autograph too. His striking out 10 straight to end the game and set a new strikeout record will remain a cherished childhood memory of this long-suffering Mets fan.

Enjoyed the puzzle as always, despite the ultimate failure - and highlight of the day as it often is goes to @LMS for her wizardly observation.


DrBB 1:49 PM  

JOHN X said...
Did anyone else notice the theme in the four corners?

1:36 AM

It gets better:
If you go over to the NYT commentary, you'll learn that Collins mysteriously dedicated the puzzle "To Dorothy"

GEB 1:52 PM  

"Hullo" shows up in many of the British books I read, and "books on tape" (which my family and I listen to all the time) are still called that, even though they're now streaming audio.

But I'm surprised more people didn't mention the real error in this puzzle: The whole point of Jane Eyre is that Rochester isn't (spoiler alert) a bachelor at all--and widower isn't even a question--but in fact, a married man with an insane wife locked up in the attic! Only at the tail end of the book does she die. That clueing was just out and out wrong!

DNF 2:01 PM  

To the MAi sayers. You fell for a trick that wasn't there. We've all done it. Own up and stop whining.

foxaroni 2:01 PM  

Couldn't finish because I thought 6D was "Brandy" by a group called Looking Glass. (Brandy, what a fine girl, what a good wife you would be....)

"Hang On, Sloopy," is by the McCoys, a British band. Further verification of Sloopy's femininity: "Sloopy let your hair down, girl--let it hang down on me, yeah." Repeat several times, lol.

Amelia 2:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ani 2:15 PM  

@lms, what @joe said. And does anyone know how Mohair is? Did he just get disgusted?

Preferred Customer 2:37 PM  

@LMS nice catch on the wildlife. And yes, I recently saw a reference to books on tape on my library web page, despite not using that technology.


David 2:49 PM  

Sloopy was the nickname of Ms Sloop, a woman and a surname. "Girls" name was a bit of a loose clue. She was a jazz singer in Ohio, and OSU uses the song at those games they play in stadia with a pointy ball being thrown and kicked around. The McCoys covered it, they didn't write it.

And I'll go with "hallo" not "hullo". Got it from AA Milne, whose characters say it all the time (pre horrid disnification).

Had a slow start but once it started to fall I liked it pretty well.

Gene 3:00 PM  

Strange to call the TOMSEAVER clue "non-specific", when a very specific feat is in the clue. Also, the British political party is Labour, not Labor, so the clue does NOT reference that.

Nancy 3:09 PM  

Oh wow! The "business end" of a knife is the sharp end!!! What a great phrase! I absolutely love it! Thank you, @Odd Sock and @M&A. And to think that I had such a boring explanation of business end, as in "I'm in Editorial and Dave is on the business end." Zzzzzzz.

@Anoa Bob (1:34) -- UMBILICAL CORD is inspired as your answer to 13D. I like it so much better than UNION CARD.

So, two of my best Rexite pals are at amiable odds over Adele. I find I have to agree with @Quasi: I tried to listen to Adele one of the previous times she was plastered all over the blog, and I absolutely couldn't. I'm not sure I got through more than a minute-and-a-half of her caterwauling in any song I played. I tried several, to be fair, and hated them all. Sorry, @GILL! But, Quasi -- who on earth is Dorothy Squires, and how come I've never heard of her?

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

My wife and I are obviously older than Rex, so we invariably chuckle at his complaining about clues/answers that are apparently tricky or difficult for him but real gimmes for us. [Tom Seaver is NOT boring for someone - ME - who was lucky to be at She Stadium for games 3, 4 and 5 when the Mets won the 1969 World Series.] On the other hand, clues/answers that may be easy for people years younger than us are often stumpers for my wife and me. We just shrug our shoulders and promise ourselves to bone up on what younger people are interested in....but we seldom do...heh heh.
Rex, chill out and maybe just write that you don't know something because you're from another generation, for example, and not because it's a "bad" clue/answer.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  


don't let your pretensions keep you from acknowledging that the fine institution OSU is allowing Urban Meyer to teach an ethics class. No, that's not an Onion headline, that's just the Ohio State University.

Some football guy who knows what a stadium, aka stadion, really is.

Foamfollower 3:23 PM  

Isn’t “hallo” the Cockney pronunciation? Can’t you hear Michael Caine?
If you have little to no baseball or painting knowledge, why do you torture yourself with crosswords, or the association with OWM for that matter?
On a personal note, it’s the first time we’ve gotten within 5 min. of OFL’s Friday time.
Thanks, Tom! Thanks, Huckleberry Hound!

QuasiMojo 3:35 PM  

@Nancy, glad to hear I am not alone. But then I am very old school when it comes to singing. I think the composer’s line and the melody should come first. As for the other Dorothy (Squires) she was a Welsh singer with a bombastic style many people either loved or loathed. She was also a “vexatious litigant” according to Wiki which left her a recluse and broke. I only used her as an example to underscore that it really just is a question of personal or acquired taste.

Anonymous 3:37 PM  

Wow, I agree on all the construction issues!

This was a Triple Natick for me!!

I'm not a baseball person, so Tom Seaver meant nothing. Ensor rang a faint bell and Vai meant nothing. The Hullo Urey crossing was the third.

Guessed the S in ensor on the first try, but that was total luck. Didn't get the V on first guess.

Guessed Hallo before Hullo. Still seems like the lesser of two crappy answers for that clue. 'Ello is the only answer that should be correct.

Nancy 3:45 PM  

Okay. I've put down Adele and I've never heard of Dorothy Squires. So who do I like? I like Barbara Cook. And since I'm not techie-proficient enough to cut and paste more than one link at a time, I may have to send them one at a time. Here's the first.

Z 3:47 PM  

@anon1:18 - Your retelling almost kinda sorta resembles what Rex said. As for not acknowledging @LMS, someone on Twitter pointed it out to him. You are right, though, that his complaint is about the editorial decisions not the construction, since he says, “I’ll never understand this dude’s editorial decisions...” I will also note that Crossword Fiend also missed the Oz connection and included the following observation, This is a 72-worder, so I’m not sure why I’m encountering so many entries I don’t care for. 72 should be pretty smooth. I add this because it parallels what Rex said on Twitter.

For the curious who don’t follow Rex on Twitter, here’s a link.

@Anon10:25 - Yep. That last line is a dead give away that it’s a joke. I had my over/under at 5 people taking it seriously. I think I lost, but I’m not counting.

Nancy 3:49 PM  

Here's the second link.

Joe Dipinto 3:52 PM  

Like @musicman I confidently plunked in RHONDA at 6d, realizing it was wrong just as I was writing the "A". A quick mental review of 1965 No.1's summoned up HANG ON SLOOPY (first recorded by the Vibrations with the original title MY GIRL SLOOPY).

Since I know TOM SEAVER, STEVE VAI and ENSOR to varying degrees that section did not present a problem. Square 50 did, however: you can put me in the HALLO/AREY club.

For a Friday it could've been a little harder, imo, but it was good nonetheless.

Nancy 3:53 PM  

And one more for good measure!

Ben 3:55 PM  

Chiming in to agree with others that WIDOWER for Mr. Rochester is just wrong, and also to agree that I nearly got NATICKed by TOM SEAVER / ENSOR / VAI

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Just started reading the blog and enjoy the analysis and comments immensely. I do the NYT puzzles regularly and I almost always get’em ... usually later than sooner. I am happy to report that ... I have never struck out 10 times in a row!

Chronic dnfer 4:43 PM  

Nobody wrote in Daniel Boone?

fkdiver 4:48 PM  

Rex: Hullo! You missed the theme on this one!

It's OK - even the HL Mencken of crosswords can get it wrong sometimes. I guess the guy who won't read notes still needs a revealer.

frankbirthdaycake 4:51 PM  

Not a bad puzzle. Happy Friday, fellow commenters! Lighten up. It could be a lot worse.

GILL I. 4:53 PM  

@Z...I'm actually sorry I opened your link to the Twitter. Made me thank myself that I don't follow it. What I am glad is that @Rex opened a link to Adele's "Hello." I'd rather have some fun bantering with @Nancy and @Quasi over vocals.
@Quasi: Just for you: Dorothy Squires
My favorite Adele soulful vocals: Skyfall

My dad always told me that if I liked a wine that was cheap, it didn't matter. Liking it was all that counted. May I suggest one of the best Lodi Zins I have had the pleasure of drinking that only cost $10.00? Gnarly Head.

JOHN X 5:11 PM  

This is a late post so no one will see it, but if you want to do a killer Friday puzzle from the archive, try February 11, 2000.

Today's puzzle was easy (with the exception of that one unfortunate square) so if you thought it was hard you shouldn't even try 2/11/2000 it's very much out of your league and could cause a serious injury or worse, and I don't want to be responsible for that.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Hey Mods,

That's 4 for z. he finished his 3 posts before 8 Am. Com on. Let someone else have a turn.

Suzie Q 5:51 PM  

@ JOHN X, Thanks for the recommendation. I probably did that puzzle on the date it ran. I see it's an Eliz. Gorski and I like her stuff (yours too!). Too bad she doesn't submit to the NYT anymore.

DigitalDan 5:53 PM  

The "tape" of "books on tape" is the same "tape" that Rachel Maddow and others claim to be using when playing recordings on the air. I'm sure your infotainment system has something that would play them, Rex. Not a one of these books has likely seen an actual tape since sometime in the 90's. They are lost and gone forever, like "my darling" Clementine (Sloopy's sister.)

AdamW: Rex created this blog so that he could grumble about what irritated HIM; each of us has their own list. Let's be thankful for the forum that is thereby created.

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

Kinda, sorta, almost? Wtf? Thats exactly what Rex did. Youre worse than Sharp himself. Sheesh

orangeblossomspecial 6:28 PM  

My time actually would have been 2:15 except I got unreasonably stuck in the NW, SE, NE and SW and center. Once I conquered those areas it was smooth sailing.

QuasiMojo 6:57 PM  

Wow. @Nancy thanks! Great Cook clips. No one sang Losing my Mind better. @GILL, can you repost the Skyfall link? It didn’t work for me. Thanks for Till. One of my faves. Altho Bassey did it best. :) mwah

JC66 7:18 PM  


In case @GILL is AWOL


Phil 7:28 PM  

Came here just to get on the band wagon of a rant about MAY .... Disappointing Rex.

RooMonster 7:31 PM  

@orange 6:28
HAR! Thanks for the laugh.


hatton-man 7:37 PM  

John X,

I read your comment. Today's puzzle took me 23 minutes. 2/11/2000 took me 17 minutes.

Both puzzles are great IMHO.

Nancy 8:06 PM  

@Quasi -- Dorothy Squires is great! I just love the quality of her voice and the way she puts over a song. And I think "Till" is great. Thanks, @GILL, for that link. And, GILL, I hope you'll listen to the Barbara Cook links I embedded earlier. Quasi -- really glad you liked them.

Good news. @JC66 has offered to teach me over the phone how to "open two windows in my browser" (whatever/wherever a browser is/lurks) so that I'll be able to embed three links in one comment, and do it in a just a few moves instead of what seemed like 6 or even more moves. He says the process is "pretty easy." "Pretty easy" for me, vis-a-vis computerworld, may not be easy enough; "very easy" sounds more encouraging. But thanks, @JC66. I'll take you up on your kind offer as soon as I get a chance. I'll have to be full of energy and dead sober :)

JC66 8:13 PM  


I'm on my second Scotch, so call me at your convenience.

puzzlehoarder 8:30 PM  

@John X,

I don't know if it lives up to your hype but I did get a Saturday level of puzzling out of the Liz Gorski puzzle you recommended. Unlike today's puzzle I had no trouble getting a clean grid. No obscure names crossing each other so thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous 8:40 PM  

Im only lurking here friday-sat. Im curious since I found the puzzle rather easy for a Friday, but ended on the UREY/ HULLO Natick. Is there a name for this type of finish in crosswordese on the app? Since i could not with any authority confirm the answer wasnt aREY/hALLO, this makes me a DNF in my opinion, with only the app congratulating me of my success assuring me i had guessed the right letters rather than using my knowledge.
In short, if i presented the ink version to someone i could not say i " solved" the puzzle.
Sorry for grammar i cannot see this fine print!

August West 9:44 PM  

Jeff Chen published the Wizard of Oz mini-theme three and a half hours before LMS “found” it. Hell, Peter Collins dedicated the puzzle to “Dorothy.”

Just sayin’.

Z 10:56 PM  

@Gill I - I hear you. I’m a little surprised you were curious enough to go to the link. I will say this, though, as much as Rex seems outre to many here, follow discussions on Twitter and it soon becomes obvious that he’s not alone in his views. But I totally understand eschewing that whole scene.

@Anon8:40p.m. - There’s a FAQ page with the answer to your question and many others. I should warn you that Rex doesn’t update it often. This means some of the terms he defines are hardly ever used anymore and commentariat created terms don’t appear. As to your question, it is called a natick when an obscure proper noun is crossed in such a way that it is hard to infer/deduce one letter.

@Anon5:11 - This makes 5. Let me point out that my comments are not required reading. Oh, and I also didn’t take anyone else’s turn. That 3 post cap is more guideline than law. As opposed to being a troll, which will get your comments not posted or deleted.

just sayin 11:08 PM  

@August - actually Jeff did not catch the Oz theme when he published last night. Read his updated post.

Northwest Runner 11:35 PM  

Long ago in an interview far away Shortz prided his stewardship of the puzzle as a departure from Maleska's approach to using clues like "second longest river in Slovenia." But with puzzles like this he's doing the very same thing. As someone who eagerly awaited each new issue of Games magazine back in the 80s I am saddened to see the insightful mind that gave us that approach to puzzling become so mundane and inflexible.

paulsfo 1:39 AM  

@Northwest Runner: I'm not a sports fan but I'm sure that I've heard or read Seaver's name several You can reuse peanut oil several times within the six month storage period, but sterilize it before each additional use by allowing it to reach 350 degrees F before adding any food times. I guess the original rule mentions less than 1/4 of the solvers knowing either name. I'd be willing to bet that a higher percentage knew both Seaver *and* Urey. That doesn't mean that they could all think of it, but that they reecognized it.

Georgia 3:07 AM  

4 down

paulsfo 6:49 AM  

[Don't know how I did that mess above, but here's my previous comment, as I intended it]
@Northwest Runner: I'm not a sports fan but I'm sure that I've heard or read Seaver's name several hundred times. I guess the original rule mentions less than 1/4 of the solvers knowing either name. I'd be willing to bet that a higher percentage knew both Seaver *and* Urey. That doesn't mean that they could all think of it, but that they reecognized it.

Steve 9:09 AM  

Urey was the first answer I entered. I knew about him because I once took a course on mathematics of physical chemistry from his former student, George Murphy, who contributed to the discovery of deuterium. According to NYU folklore Murphy was famous for suggesting, during a WW2 rationing campaign, that this newspaper could conserve ink by eliminating the period from "The New York Times." logo. Which it did.

Steve 9:16 AM  

I should add that Hang on Sloopy was a frequent Ohio State Marching Band half-time routine many Saturday afternoons during the Woody Hayes football era. The reward for enduring it was getting to watch them spell out Script Ohio, with the lead sousaphone player dotting the "i" by flashing his bell at the finish.

Proche 9:42 AM  

Just a note on “Labor party member...” First, the Labour Party in England is spelled with a “U” (not to be confused with “hullo.”) Second, the “p” in party was not capitalized. So it worked for me mostly.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Thank you. I get it now!

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

In my fifteen years+ of doing the NYT crossword, I’ve never encountered a worse clue/answer as HULLO. It’s beyond bad. And to cross it with a name as obscure as Urey is sinful. That, folks, is garbage constrction.

Libby 9:55 AM  

39D makes me mad. Mr. Rochester was NOT a "widower" until much later in the book. A major part of the book's plot is how Jane Eyre learns that Mr. Rochester's wife is alive--and mad in the attic--just as Jane is about to marry Mr. Rochester. Read a book, editors!

rondo 10:24 AM  

So in his quest for speed OFL (and apparently many others) did not see the theme, which BTW, is quite clever. Too much EASTCOAST rush rush rush? Stop and smell the LIONS and TIGERS and BEARS, OHMY.

HELENKELLER deserves some recognition.

A coupla write-overs, but an excellent puz methinks.

rondo 10:26 AM  

And Steve VAI was a gimme. Great axe-man.

Burma Shave 12:18 PM  




Diana, LIW 12:18 PM  

21 - 12 - 33 - hike! Thus spake my Natick.

Not to mention my numerous errors n the southern land. WHERESWALDO indeed. Where's my brain? Lolling on a Friday, in some beautiful Calif. weather. Please, all mid-westerners, stay warm and indoors!!!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the sun before I venture outside

thefogman 4:17 PM  

Is this thing on?

ALL in ALL a decent-enough puzzle with ONE exception: 49A and 50D. In the END I went with an A instead of a U at that crossing, which ended my streak. Mama MIA! That's what I get for RUSSIAN. This MAY ARDEN my resolve to complete ONE ATTA time when I'm in a bit less of a UREY.


Knock. Knock...
Who's there?
Who who?
Hey! Are you an owl?

leftcoastTAM 9:18 PM  

Language games:

English/French MAY>Mai with Polish/English POLSKA>POLand inversion
German/? GEORG
British/American-English HULLO

Then there was NOTCHINk>>NOTCHING with BOINk>>BOING

Rambo 5:26 AM  

I recommend "The Enduring Cult of the Vietnam ‘Missing in Action’ The Nation Dec. 3, 2013 (Rick Perlstein)
..... if you deplore jingoistic, racist propaganda.......one day in the first spring of Richard Nixon’s presidency, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announced the existence of from 500 to 1,300 of what he termed “POW/MIA’s.” Those three letters—“MIA”—are familiar to us now. The term, however, was a new, Nixonian invention. It had used to be that downed fliers not confirmed as actual prisoners used to be classified not as “Missing in Action” but “Killed in Action/Body Unrecovered.” The new designation was a propaganda scam. It let the Pentagon and State Department and White House refer to these 1,300 (later “1,400”) as if they were, every one of them, actual prisoners, even though every one of them was almost certainly dead.
..... When America’s involvement in the war ended in January, 1973, Nixon told his secretary of defense that the military-orchestrated celebration of their return, dubbed “Operation Homecoming,” was "an invaluable opportunity to revise the history of this war.”
.... H. Bruce Franklin of Rutgers tells the story with elegant economy in the book M.I.A., Or Mythmaking in America

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