Ebay ashtray / FRI 3-15-19 / Success story out of Sunnyvale Calif / Youngest French president before Macron / Onetime sister channel of CMT / Cooper's output / Players of Fiorello Dr Bartolo in Barber of Seville

Friday, March 15, 2019

Constructor: Jamey Smith

Relative difficulty: Challenging-ish? (solved on clipboard, so no clear idea, but it felt hard)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: MATSU Islands (26D: ___ Islands, archipelago in the East China Sea) —
The Matsu Islands (Chinese馬祖列島pinyinMǎzǔ LièdǎoFuzhou dialect: Mā-cū liĕk-dō̤ or less frequently, Chinese馬祖群島pinyinMǎzǔ Qúndǎo; Fuzhou dialect: 馬祖島 Mā-cū dō̤) are a minor archipelago of 36 islands and islets in the East China Sea administered as Lienchiang County (Chinese連江縣pinyinLiánjiāng XiànFuzhou dialect: Lièng-gŏng gâing) under streamlined Fujian Province, Republic of China (Taiwan). It is the smallest county in the ROC free area.
Only a small area of what is historically Lienchiang County is under the control of the ROC. The People's Republic of China (PRC) administers the part of the historical county on mainland Chinaas Lianjiang County, which claims the entire archipelago to be its Mazu Township (馬祖鄉Mǎzǔ Xiāng; Mā-cū hiŏng). The ROC also controls two other archipelagos along the coast of Fujian, namely the Kinmen Islands and the Wuqiu Islands, which together make up Kinmen County. (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle be trash. Seriously. What the actual hell is the phrase "Be trash" supposed to mean? Is that your answer to #BeBest? Ebay ashtray, e.g. = PIG LATIN (very last answer I got), but ... how? Fire everyone. Please. Please. This was torture. Not the constructor's fault. Editors should've passed, hard. Are there really not enough Friday submissions out there? Leaving Ebay ashtray aside (PIG LATIN is a fine answer), this grid is choked with, well, trash. Partials and alt-spellings and MERRIE olde beers and OME? and ERE ('ERE?") and weird plurals (EAUX is correct, but BASSOS ...?!?!). I was in stunned disbelief as I penciled most of these answers in. It started rough and it never got better. There's not a single longer answer in this thing that seems worth even a quarter of the garbage fill. ELD! ANAL! UIE! ADAS!? And then just tired stuff like NOSIREE or name parts like CLEEF or whatever MATSU is. The clue on TENSES makes no sense (Will *will* change a verb's tense; there's no "might" to it). EMO POP remains a total non-thing. TNN!? If I could eliminate one TV channel of yore, that would be it. The Marley lyric is bizarre. 'ERE is supposed to be an h-less "here" now? Dear lord. The idea that you would take your cruddy crosswordese and try to convince me that it was some cool musical reference ... nah. No, man, sorry. Do you know how hard it is for me to out-and-out hate a Friday? My quiet early-morning ME TIME, ruined.

Everyone who's ever had a themeless puzzle rejected (especially women) have to be sitting at home going "... really?" Best Puzzle In The World! I feel bad for the people who live in this elite puzzle monopoly and just assume that whatever the NYT does is good. Get into indie puzzles, people. They're So Often better than this. That's it, goodbye. Be trash, everyone!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. all my love to Christchurch this morning...

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


70 in Nampa 5:59 AM  

Could not agree more.
I enjoy a tough puzzle-- any day of the week--but I don't enjoy apcray.... any day of the week.

marty 6:04 AM  

"Do you know how hard it is for me to out-and-out hate a Friday?"

These days, it's not at all hard to imagine. The negativity coursing through this blog's daily write-ups is an all too common occurrence. It's become a real downer and a real shame, too. I don't sense much joy anymore.

Lewis 6:41 AM  

No splash fill-ins today, just ticking off boxes in a scattershot fashion; a slow march to victory, like a hard fought chess win, where the winner feels like it could have gone either way. Gratitude for ATOM SMASHER and EMERALD ISLE, the springboards that pushed me just enough to make it to the finish line, and the childlike-silly PIG LATIN clue/answer -- the laugh that rang out the moment that answer hit me provided the perfect comic relief.

Hungry Mother 7:00 AM  

On the easier side here, but I don’t know why. Some of the long entries just filled themselves in. Ten mile race, brunch, and St. Pat’s parade tomorrow in the Delray Beach area, so I hope the puzzle is an easy Saturday.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

fastest time ever for me for a Friday. Only real issue was UIE--I ws trying to work with UEY in that spot. Once I got it, then TENSES fell into place--actually liked that clue a lot

QuasiMojo 7:12 AM  

I raced through this and was prone to liking it but reading Rex I am now questioning whether I was misled by my own vanity. I still don’t get the eBay joke and what or who is WILL? And why is he slash it changing tenses? We still use ELD so I can’t see it as some detritus from MERRIE olde England. I’ve traversed the Erie Canal by car (not by ROWING). Parts of it are beautiful. And it’s fascinating to see the way certain old towns sprung up alongside it and are now empty shells, vestiges of their former glory. Never heard of a light snack being called a Calorie Bomb. By whom? Food snobs? But I liked that it was near the Atom Smasher. I tried to fit in Grand Massif there. Luckily I knew Aide Memoire, and the rest is l’histoire. Although I forgot my lessons in it by trying to squeeze in Nicolas Sarcozy as the youngest French president. He was certainly one of the least likely. At 5’5” he might even have had a Napoleon complex.

Nick D 7:14 AM  

Personally, I enjoyed this puzzle, possibly because I finished it in good time (11:41), 30% faster than my average for a Friday. Agree there’s some crappy fill, but it seems to me that half this puzzle’s problems are with the clues - ERE and PIG LATIN are perfectly acceptable answers that were not helped by clues that were trying way too hard.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

The long stuff is, by and large, very good. The short stuff is, by and large, UIEOMEPOVAMAAAA.

Surely there must be better clues for OME. You can Cockney it up as ‘ome, or go with the o, me! angle.

Or runt-style it: What’s in a comet’s center? Half a moment?

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

I have to disagree with Rex on the usage of "will." There are plenty of ways to use "will" as a modal verb and have a non-future meaning.

Gin will do that to me every time.
(= Gin does that to me every time)

dfan 7:44 AM  

I liked it fine. I thought thought all ten 11-letter entries, all adjacent to other ones, were pretty good. I hope the debut constructor doesn't read this blog.

QuasiMojo: "ebay ashtray" is "be trash" in Pig Latin. When you put "will" in a sentence, you can change the tense (e.g., "I hate this puzzle" -> "I will hate this puzzle").

Michiganman 7:45 AM  

CALORIEBOMB and ATOMSMASHER were worth the price of admission. I also loved the obscure clue for ERE. I want to try SCHAEFER beer with a PBR chaser, and a PINKMARTINI for a nightcap. Then I'd be a HAPPYCAMPER.

DeeJay 7:51 AM  

I'll say it again, Rex. Develop your own indie daily, put your crossword expertise to good use. I'll be your first subscriber.

Its painful to read Quasimojo's comment, which I'll paraphrase as, "I liked this puzzle, then I read Rex, and hated myself for liking the puzzle." That is sad.

If there is a better, more clever, more hip, less stale daily crossword out there that really deserves the mantle World's Best Crossword, go make the darned thing.

Jon Alexander 7:53 AM  

After putting in PIG LATIN, I, no joke, stared at the clue for a solid two minutes thinking “Wtf is THIS holy garbage?”

It was the salt in this gaping wound of a puzzle.

Doc 7:54 AM  

I am a newcomer here, but I think ‘Will’ refers to Mr. Shortz, who might change the tense of a clue!

Irene 7:57 AM  

I zoomed through this puzzle, but thought "will" was a comment on the puzzle editor: that he'd change the tense while editing the puzzle. Shakespeare used his name, Will, in puns all the time.

Big Jim Dwyer 8:02 AM  

Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. Certainly nothing to be angry about. Liked Emerald Isle on this St Patrick’s Day weekend. TGIF.

Brian 8:04 AM  

Somewhere in Judea:

Reg: Why don't you shut up about women, Stan, you're putting us off.
Stan: Women have a perfect right to play a part in our movement, Reg.
Francis: Why are you always on about women, Stan?
Stan: I want to be one.


Reg: What?
Stan: I want to be a woman. From now on I want you all to call me Loretta.
Reg: What!?
Stan: It's my right as a man.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Hard not to like a puzzle with PBR and Schaefer beer. Used to buy those with my fake ID in the late 70’s. The slogan I remember and the way I’d have clues Schaefer is “ Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one! “

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

I do puzzle. I like puzzle. I come here. I read Rex. Rex hates puzzle. Rinse and repeat.

Twangster 8:33 AM  

Until this morning, I thought the clue on Will meant that Will Shortz, as editor, could change the tense of the clues.

Birchbark 8:38 AM  


Today's review reads a little like a software-generated compendium of @Rex axioms.

Smooth, fast-paced solve at 11:08 (a good Friday for me is under 15:00). TruStS before TENSES. I really liked working on CASKS. Coopers = barrel makers, so wanted Crate for a while, but like CASKS better.

Joaquin 8:47 AM  

I hate Volvo cars; that's why I have three of them.
Broccoli makes me gag; therefore, I try to have some at every meal.
Fox News is all lies; I have it on 24/7
And I fully understand why Rex writes this blog.

QuasiMojo 8:54 AM  

@dfan, thanks for the explanation. But “be trash” still is a meaningless phrase. And @DeeJay, I think you didn’t understand what I wrote. What I said was that I thought I enjoyed the puzzle because I found it a breeze, then after reading Rex’s critique I realized he had some valid points and that I was judging the puzzle by my own self-involved feelings of easy accomplishment (as if it was my inimitable genius alone that made it a cinch to solve) rather than on its merits, of which there were less than meets the eye.

Rube 8:54 AM  

This is perhaps the most on point comment ever made on this blog.

Sir Hillary 8:55 AM  

Overall, a decidedly mixed bag. @kitchef has it right. The long entries are fine -- above average, even -- but there's a preponderance of short garbage that really shouldn't be in a themeless. If @Nancy and Will Nediger can fill a grid cleanly when theme-constrained, why can't we expect the same from a themeless?

-- A HAPPYCAMPER literally on the EMERALDISLE.
-- Boozy trio of PINKMARTINI, SCHAEFER and PBR. Leftovers from the BARCAR perhaps?
-- YALIE/ELI duet. RIGGEDADMISSION would be a good grid-spanner.
-- PIGLATIN as an entry and as a silly, fun thing. Gotta clue it better though.

-- 26 three-letter words! I know this is largely the result of the 11-letter entries, but still. Add the ten four-letter words, and that's half of all entries.
-- Special shout-out for OME. Seriously?
-- EMOPOP is ridiculous. Has anyone ever said, read or heard it? You can't just combine two genres and call it a "hybrid". I eagerly await NUALTEMOPUNKPOP (ooh, another grid-spanner!).
-- This may just be me, but I always say OUTSIDEchance, not OUTSIDESHOT. I would have clued it as "Jumper, e.g."

JOHN X 8:56 AM  

I thought this was a pretty good Friday puzzle. It wasn't as good as yesterday's puzzle, but then how could it be?

Jeez Rex, take a Midol or something. The grid was fine. In fact, it contained some of my absolute favorite words ever. ANAL was right there, dead center, lined up in the crosshairs. When I first moved to L.A. in 1994, I remember driving past a movie theater called The Pink Pussycat on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood that had a traditional marquee, and the film playing was called ANAL COMMANDOS. This was in big letters too, and actually the marquee seemed very well done. I didn't see the movie so I'm not sure what it was about.

TNN is my second favorite former TV station. My favorite is Metromedia, which actually was a broadcast network that was only in some major cities. If you were a TV watcher in the 1950s to the 1980s you either remember it or you never heard of it. On Sunday mornings they had a kids show called Wonderama that you should read about, if only for the incredible guest list. Metromedia was sold to News Corp. and became the basis for the Fox TV network.

I once belonged to a ROWINGCLUB, so that answer really spoke to me, and I used to split atoms which requires so much more finesse than an ATOMSMASHER. Anybody can smash something, there's no skill there.

I'm almost out of codeine-infused cough syrup. More purple drank, stat!

Soothsayer 8:56 AM  

Beware the ides of March.

kaby 9:10 AM  

AMA, MIN, PSI, USB, ODS, ERE, UIE, TNN, ADAS, AAA, ELD, POV, OME, PBR...all in the very same puzzle? FWIW, IMHO, that's ayway ootay anymay.

The MEME Generation 9:14 AM  

Because I'm a human, gifted evolutionarily with the ability to find patterns everywhere I look, I can't help but notice a weird preponderance of MEs. Or just lots of Ms and Es close together.

itsME (see METIME)

There may be more but I have things to do. This could be a thing that happens a lot coincidentally in puzzles all the time, and maybe it was the repetition of the use of actual ME (ITSME, METIME) that tipped it off, but just look down there in the SE and you get a sense it's a thing.

I didn't know that Harvard's team name was like Stanford's...just a color. Harvard Crimson, Stanford Cardinal. And I'm always amazed at how we're supposed to know Yale's many different names...maybe back in 1920 it was a thing...but I do not recall the last time Yale was any more relevant than, say, Furman. The NYT always seems to be fixated on schools like this (I'm looking at you, Elon), and it isn't like YALIE and ELI are any secret if you've done xwords ever, but I'm just amazed that they have become xwordese...I could be a tad ANAL about this, but seriously, can we find other clues for ELI and drop all old timey references to Yale. I have many friends who went to Yale, so all due respect to that fine institution. But how about a shout out to SDSU? Or Wartburg? Or Lipscomb?

OffTheGrid 9:19 AM  

@Brian. Thank you for that reference. So funny.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Will, as in Will Shortz, I’m guessing.

Unknown 9:34 AM  

"This puzzle be trash" LOL! (and I do mean that literally... my sudden outburst of laughter startled a few of my coworkers).

I love it when you dislike the same clues/answers that I do (like, how do you get PIGLATIN from that?? UGH)... somehow, it makes me feel less annoyed to know someone else was equally annoyed at the same thing. So, thanks for that and for helping me disrupt the office with a little bit of laughter this Friday morning - now that is how you end the work week right! :)

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

As others have said, lots of the longer fill is OK, but the sheer amount and obscurity of much of the three-letter fill - it be trash, indeed. Perhaps it needed a bit more editing to smooth some of these out then it could have been a much nicer solve.

SarahC 9:36 AM  

I really hate having to guess whether a puzzle wants "UEY" or "UIE." If I do write one in, it always turns out to be the other.

But it was the SE corner that almost killed me. PIGLATIN is inhumane. I had AIDE but wasn't sure what came after it and for awhile I had AIDEdE____. I thought the artist colony was in Spain and I would have never heard of it, so I didn't get TAOS until I had the OS. I should've been able to get BASSOS from B_____S but I kept thinking of a type of person, not a singer. (Okay, and when I did "get" it I had BASSeS.) And ERE made no sense to me until after I reluctantly put it in.

Finally, awhile after I decided maybe ATOMIC____ was just ATOM______, I came up with ATOMSMASHER and that unlocked the rest.

pabloinnh 9:36 AM  

I'm with the crowd that thinks the long answers were good enough to make up for the surplus of short answers, which were mostly dreck. Found out how to make a PINKMARTINI, useless information for me as I hate gin and can't remember the last time I ordered a mixed drink. Ask me about beer.

@MEME-yeah, the Ivies like to do this. School down the road is now The Big Green, and the question a lot of people still have is The Big Green what?

Amazing how much having TEE for TAU can slow you down. Writing it down, I see that "TEE for TAU" could be a nice song titile.

OK Friday, but not my favorite.

MichGirl 9:45 AM  

I thought it was just me. I’m glad to know this sucked on something other than a personal level.

Paul Rippey 9:46 AM  

Loved @kitchef 's alternative clues for OME as much as I disliked "Suffix in biology".

kitshef 9:47 AM  

Anon 8:25 - At the closest alcohol to campus, Schaefer was always the cheapest beer available. Money was tight, so we used to say "Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than twelve".

@John X - Ah, yes. Wonderama with Bob Mcallister - at least when I was the age to watch it. Exercise, Exercise, Come on everybody do your Exercise!

@The MEME Generation - well spotted on the EM/ME theme. In yesterday's puzzle I noiced the four CHEs and wondered if Nancy was trolling Gill I.

BobL 9:50 AM  

HATemonger, indeed!

Hartley70 9:52 AM  

FWIW, I liked this Friday just fine. EBay ashtray made perfect sense to me. EBay stays as it is. Trash gets PIGLATINized. On EBay an ashtray is an item unlikely to get any bids and destined for the trash heap. We ex-smokers all have a ton of them in cupboards or under plants to catch the water runoff.

I thought the long answers were challenging and fun. NAPOLEONIII was a shocker. He must have been cheesed to miss the Emperor Era. CALORIEBOMB you bet, or a heart attack on a plate. I wanted collider instead of SMASHER, but SMASHER sounds like more fun. I’d like a tour of Cern!
I have no complaint with the fill either. I was happy to find TIA as a gimme because there weren’t many, except maybe old UIE.

No carping here on the constructor or Will. I thought this Friday was dandy.

Nancy 9:53 AM  

This puzzle made me a HAPPY CAMPER, offering plenty of resistance, but I'll still have to go back and read y'all to see if someone has made sense out of the clue for PIG LATIN (48A). I just can't get that from EBay ashtray. Ashtray = trash, but what on earth is EBay?

I was delighted with ITS ME as the answer to "Caller ID". I didn't know exactly what Will was going to be changing over at 14D, but I got the Will Shortz reference right off the bat. Not such a surprise that that's the way my mind is working today. I also learned where the world's largest ATOM SMASHER is located, and I'll try to work it into a conversation at a party sometime.

I don't know a lot about CASTE SYSTEMs, but I question the 65 Across clue. Can't you be an individual in your own CASTE? What's to stop you? Who's to stop you? Just as long as you don't try to move to anyone else's CASTE, right? I would have clued this answer: "Social hierarchy that wants to keep you from going anywhere."

An enjoyable Friday that required plenty of thinking.

Z 10:01 AM  

I spent a good part of my life enjoying PBR and SCHAEFER and Huber and lots of other fine, inexpensive beers. Then I went to a beer tasting on a lark led by an expert. Oh, there are beers that are more complex and subtle? Eyes opened. Now, sometimes these more complex beers are pure crap, but for the most part any of them are better than any mass market pilsner. You like mass market pilsner and find those other beers yucky? Fine, to each her own. But then why are you reading Beer Advocate?

AIDE MÉMOIRE? Why French? Why with no foreign language hint in the clue? And then I google it post solve and get all these international relations hints (it is a proposal that circulates for discussion without holding the circulator to the contents). Then crossing ‘ERE rather than ERE? I fought that R because there is just no reason to think I was looking for a French phrase. I was certain I must have been misparsing AIDEMEMOI-E. A.I. something? Maybe it should be BASSeS and AIDEMEMEI-E? One letter to go and the least non-sensical was the R. But I was fully prepared for a DNF.

@Sir Hilary - Your first paragraph - Yep. Agree 100%.

Regarding EBay trash, I was assuming that the EBay site uses an ashtray instead of the usual trash can icon. No?

DavidL 10:05 AM  

I came here looking for some explanation for the clue to PIG LATIN. Is "Be Trash" supposed to be something? Apparently not - no one else understands either. Wow. This may be the most bizarre clue/answer combo I have ever seen in a NYT puzzle.

I got "PBR" from crosses and had to google it to figure out what it was. Our cheap college brew of choice was Blatz (early 1980s). I think it was something like $3 for a six pack. We used to say, tastes about the same on the way back up as it did on the way down.

Z 10:06 AM  

“Will” in the clue refers to the helping verb that change TENSES.
I go.
I will go.
As @anon7:34 pointed out, the clue is correct to use “might.”

Mica Hilson 10:17 AM  

@Z I also hated the AIDE MÉMOIRE clue. Especially because they frittered away a great opportunity to clue it as "Nice mnemonic."

Amelia 10:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Child 10:27 AM  

Well 26 three letter answers doesn’t a great Friday make, and it’s hard to follow yesterday’s brilliant puzzle. (@Nancy, my post got lost in the cloud yesterday, but I merely echoed others’ delight.) The only real complaint I had about this was that it was too. damn. easy. Well below a typical Wednesday time. Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Rug Crazy 10:35 AM  

I'm with Rex on this -Bassos, especially. I hate ALL Uies.Still trying to figure out Be Trash is referring to, though

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Sharp has always promoted a culture of self-satisfied complaint. I'm hoping LMS will start a blog.

Leslie 10:59 AM  

I'm with Nancy. The long answers made it all worth while; and the short answers were just by the by.

@Hartley70 thank you for a very clear explanation of Ebay trash.

@Nancy thanks for a great puzzle yesterday

Ornery 11:16 AM  

I liked this puzzle because all the letters were in white squares and only one at a time.

Karl Grouch 11:22 AM  

To like: present tense
Will like: future tense.

Will never like that clue: truth

Pete 11:22 AM  

While the clue for 54A isn't wrong, it isn't right. The Large Hadron Collider can, and in fact does on occasion, smash atoms. As the name kind of implies, it it really does is smash Hadrons, which are sub-atomic particles - harder to hit, harder to smash. Saying the Large Hadron Collider is an ATOMSMASHER is like saying a Bugatti Divo is functional transportation. Neither are false, both miss the point.

jb129 11:31 AM  

I can't say that I really enjoyed any of the puzzles this week, but that's just me.

Lorilei Lee 11:37 AM  

This should settle the pig Latin bafflement once and for all. It is the Pig Latin Translation Site. Yes, that's right.

It translates ashtray as ashtrayway.

Thinking that the site might be ullfay ofway itshay, I typed in nix (Stooge fans will remember)and it was correctly translated as ixnay - nyuk nyuk.


Peter P 11:40 AM  

Weird. I found this easy for a Friday. I usually can't finish a Friday, but this one was pretty steady going, except getting tied up in the southeast with PIGLATIN, TAOS, and AIDEMEMOIRE. I can't remember how I finally unraveled that end, but that had me stuck for a good 10 minutes, just a bit less than the rest of the fill took me. I simply had never come across "aide memoire" before. Figured it out, as I took French in high school, but the clue didn't hint that the answer would be a French phrase (and only later, looking it up, does it seem to be a phrase that is used in English, as well. So fair clue, I guess, just never heard of aide memoire used in English before.) I also know nothing about art colonies, so TAOS was off my radar, as well.

But the rest fell in pretty easily. I guess I got tied up a little trying to figure out how to spell "UIE" (Uey was my first guess, and how I'm used to seeing it spelled out--not that I see it often in written form.) The gin-and-grapefruit cocktail I first thought of was a greyhound, and then salty dog, but clearly both had the incorrect amount of letters. It took embarrassingly long to get PINKMARTINI. I was all the way up to Pe-KMARTINI before it dawned on me that "Uey" was "UIE" and then PINK fell right in. Were it not for those two snags, it would have been a record Friday for me.

Newboy 11:42 AM  

I see Rex’s complaints, but having Will Shortz change14 down made me guffaw. Same with the mental memory aid at 63 across that I needed to recall my fifth grade PIG Latin; almost made me snort my PBR! I had basically the same clunky solve that Lewis noted earlier. Maybe a bit too easy for Friday, but delightfully amusing for this Idaho Spud.

What She Said 11:46 AM  

Sorry, just hated this.

Eau : EAUX :: Basso : [not BASSOS — what the heck is that, a Be Trash spelling of “Bezos”? It’s bassi, and we know you know that, guys]

Appreciate the explanation from @Hartley about how to parse the clue for 48A, which I also stumped me. The clue makes much more sense that way, but then it raises the unsettling prospect that every white ashtray in America embodies an intersectional race/class slur. Just sayin’.

jb129 11:49 AM  

Oops - except for yesterday's "Black Hat" - thank you Nancy

Eddie 11:54 AM  

Horrible, wrong, awful Spanglish 56D.

Karl Grouch 12:03 PM  

I'm with @kitchef and @sirHilary.

(objections not mentioned by others. I think)

-"eaux" gets a big booh for not being fair. Clue should have been "perrier ET évian.

-d.a for district attorney is ok, a.d.a for assistant district attorney is not, even less so in the plural.

-we don't have proof that Trojans spoke homeric Greek. It"s probable that they spoke Luwian.

-the CERN uses a particle accelerator, it's never referred-to as an atom smasher in this context.

- there's no such thing as a caste "system" and castes are not against individualism anyway.

What? 12:09 PM  

Agree with Rex. Pretty easy except for the stupid ones. OME, UIE, no Y in MERRIE, many others. AIDE DE MEMOIRE - now a French lesson? Since when is a direct translation as a crossword clue?

eBay Avenmay 12:14 PM  

FWIW, there is currently an actual NYT crossword “ashtray” for sale on eBay. It’s listed as “New York Times Crossword SOAP DISH (or ashtray?)...”, and the item description gave me a good laugh:

“It's obviously a soap dish, but at first glance my friend and I thought it was an ashtray, so if your crossword-loving loved one smokes but does not bathe...”

Suzie Q 12:17 PM  

If @Hartley is right about the Pig Latin I would say that any clue/answer that requires a paragraph to explain probably ought
to be trash itself!
This entire puzzle was weird.

What? 12:18 PM  

Just thought of a clue for AIDE MEMOOIRE. MAISONS - which is French for HOMES, the mnemonic for the Great Lakes. Not any worse than many clues in this puzzle.

Banana Diaquiri 12:20 PM  

if you grew up in the 50s and/or 60s, then you heard about the conflict twixt the US/Taiwan and China over Quemoy and Matsu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Whippoorwill_(AMS-207)#Quemoy_and_Matsu_crisis

of course, being just a youngster hiding under my elementary school desk, practice for the inevitable nucular attack, I assumed it was just an island.

Music Man 12:21 PM  

I agree with Rex today. Tedious and joyless,

DeeJay 12:21 PM  


DeeJay 12:22 PM  

Thx, Rube.

Blue Stater 12:22 PM  

Right on, Rex. A very poor puzzle, whose editorial faults need to be laid out in clear language in hopes that the PTB at the Times will take heed. Alas, the betting here is that they won't. I've been saying this, far less elegantly than you, for close to 25 years, without result. We deserve better. So does the Times.

BarbieBarbie 12:24 PM  

I loved this puzzle-- found it lively and requiring just the right amount of insight and/or guesswork for a Friday. I would hate to be able to fill in from the top down. Having to go in circles is what makes Fridays fun. And in the end, what you get is a bunch of great long answers, supported by short infrastructure that's either "bad" or "good" depending on your view point, but my viewpoint is to focus on the great long answers and the fun solving experience, so who cares about the short stuff?

On the Easy side and very fun. More like this, please!

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Agree with @Ornery 11:16, but I guess an occasional rebus is OK as a novelty on Thursday.

David 1:04 PM  

basses or bassi, not bassos

You do know that a single kettledrum is a timpano, yes? is the plural timpanos? No.

I also like most of the long answers. The rest, as Alex Ross says, is noise.

emily 1:09 PM  


Cato Rosenbaum 1:13 PM  

“Jeez Rex take a Midol or something.”

Wow, @John X, you undercut your entire point with that sexist statement. The only reason you’d use Midol over Tylenol is the implication that you’re calling him a woman with PMS. Keep your misogyny to yourself.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

Jamey Smith, I liked your debut puzzle so congratulations. Though I had to laugh at your remark over at xwordinfo about not bewaring the ides of March - if you've read Rex's review, you probably feel like you've been stabbed in the rotunda (one of my Dad's old jokes).

I had the most trouble in the NW because "req" sat in place of MIN for a minimum of 17 minutes (total solve time = 19:13 today so tough one for me). With the Q in place, I wanted the next letter to be a U for the French name - I need to work on my PSI abilities. Much teeth grinding ensued before that got fixed. The CLEEF-SCHAEFER cross made that final letter a leap into the unknown - but I landed it!

@kitshef, I think the Runt puz-type clue was for 44A, only in Greek.

If I had ever seen the name Ysaac, I would have spelled 46A MERRyE. Google indicates that I made that up in my own head, so thank you, ISAAC.

I thought PIG LATIN for Ebay ashtray was rather clever. I associated regattas with sailing, not ROWING, but I don't know anything about water sports. I have never eaten a burger with bacon on it - I quit eating red meat and chicken well before bacon became de rigueur for every dish. I appreciate a fresh clue for 'ERE, and I can hear Bob Marley singing it just so. Is there an EMO raP genre? I tried to make it happen but luckily changed my POV.

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

My current solving ability makes Friday usually just over the line, challenge-wise. But I got this puzzle by persistence, so I cannot complain. I never pay attention to solving time.

This column has certainly taken a negative tone over the last few weeks.

Unknown 1:42 PM  

Me,too Barbie. Love it when I have to work at a Friday puzzle. No challenge, no fun.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Rex calls it the way he sees it. People read his blog and gripe that he calls it the way he sees it. Rinse. Repeat.

Masked and Anonymous 2:13 PM  

@RP: har. Well, good mornin, Sunshine. Way to bolster a debut constructioneer's confidence. [@Jamey Smith: I imagine most of @RP's clipboard-throwin wrath is actually directed at the Hallmark Mystery writer, tho.]

This puppy indeed had somethin to please & upset (P & U) everybody, I reckon…

1. Weeject stacks in *every* corner, plus bonus weeject stacks on the N- & S-central border walls. Wowzer. M&A enjoys them lil darlins, but this was probably weeject calorie bomb overload mode, for most of y'all.

2. Many superb longball answers. This is clearly what got this FriPuz the "go" sign. Personal faves: HAPPYCAMPER. PIGLATIN. CALORIEBOMB.

3. Stuff to learn, carefully spaced out. For m&e, today's lesson included: SCHAEFER. MATSU. AIDEMEMOIRE.

4. EAUX de Speration touches. Nuthin real serious, beyond maybe all the weeject nests. METIME/ITSME. EINE over MERRIE. DENTE, maybe.

5. All the standard FriPuz stats: 72 words, 33 squares wearin shades, 5.33 avg. word length. Fillfreshness is ok. Low scrabble-twerkin avg. (typical for a FriPuz). Five U's; slightly above daily U-avg.

6. Some clues with 'tude. Obvious fave: the controversial {EBay ashtray, e.g.}. EBay ashtray is, as other Comment Gallery commenters have commented, slang for a low-interest item up for bid. The phrase is coincidentally also in ready-to-serve PIGLATIN format. So, a nice mis-direct, IM&AO.

staff weeject pick: O ME. More METIME meat. Honrable mention to UIE, of course.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Smith. And congratz on yer debut. Too bad U just missed gettin a Rex-sub write-up, by one day (yo, @lucky Nancy). Hey, do like M&A do, after this kinda @RP write-up … just build a few runtpuzs, until U get yer nerve back. [@RP: Thanx for the indie puz plug -- the runts appreciate yah.]

Masked & Anonymo5Us


CDilly52 2:19 PM  

After I finished this excruciatingly (for me) difficult puzzle I bet the farm that I would be correct about two things: 1) @Rex hates it; 2) it is one of those “wheelhouse” puzzles-you’re either in it or out. I was waaaaaaay out.

On the “will” issue, all I could think of was legal documents and just assumed the clue was pretty tortured but a Will could certainly have multiple verb tenses! That misunderstanding pretty much sums up my experience with this one! But I persevered and did finish.

JeffE 2:22 PM  

Rex, do you even like crossword puzzles?

JOHN X 2:25 PM  

@Cato R 1:13PM

I'm sexy but I don't know if I'm the sexiest. Keep your eyes on your puzzle, please.

puzzlehoarder 2:29 PM  

Today's puzzle makes me appreciate the work that goes into one like last Saturday's all the more. I'm sure coming up with four eleven stacks whose crossing entries form anything intelligible and fitting these into a grid was no picnic. The problem is the overload of 3x3 blocks it created. This forces the use of three space crossword glue which is all too familiar to an experienced solver. Even if the long entries are challenging the short answers wind up giving them away. When the long answers are as easy to guess as 1A turned out to be the entire NW then becomes Monday easy.

What kept this in late week territory for me was the randomness of which u-turn slang spelling was going to be used at 16A as well as the difficulty I had deciphering the 14D clue. In the SW my unfamiliarity with PIGLATIN forced me to simply recognize the phrase once there were enough crosses. Never having seen the term AIDEMEMOIRE made me work for that R of ERE at 60D.

Not a bad puzzle just too much clunky glue.

Marc Kwiatkowski 2:43 PM  

Gotta agree with OFL on this one. Had the oddest end game ever. Usually after a tough slog on a Friday puzzle there's the final pass or three to figure out which fill isn't quite right. Today, as I neared the end I was certain there were at least a few questionable answers - ELD, UIE, ADAS - I'd have to go back and clean up. But, when finally realizing that, for god knows what reason, 48A had to be PIGLATIN I was shocked to get the completed jingle. My reaction was more "huh?" than "yes!"

Ando 2:43 PM  

Having a snippet of pig latin as the clue to PIG LATIN is clever. Having the phrase be "be trash" is not clever, and is kind of terrible. It's like in "A Christmas Story" (and Jean Shepherd's source book "In God We Trust (All Others Pay Cash)") when Ralphie breathlessly decodes an Ovaltine secret message only to find out that the message is "drink more Ovaltine". Ugh.

Pretty sure ATOM SMASHER isn't the technical term. Clue should have reflected that. ("...informally")

And isn't AIDE MEMOIRE basically just French for "mnemonic device"? I was expecting, you know, a particular mnemonic device. A little lame.

davidm 2:47 PM  

Ha, I only got Matsu right off because I'm a politics/history geek and recall the Kennedy/Nixon debates in which the uninhabited islands of Quemoy (sp?) and Matsu, just off the China coast, were a. big issue in the second debate. Nixon wanted to go to war with China, if China tried to occupy them. JFK, not so much. I believe they are still uninhabited. Tempest in a teapot from a bygone era.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Weird, I solved this in a flash and I was frustrated by yesterday's.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

Possession of (Qemoy and) Matsu was a big controversy during the Eisenhower Adminstration. I'm with OFL, we really need some more contemporary clues and answers in the puzzle. All in all, a pretty good Friday for me....

ghostoflectricity 3:11 PM  

Except for one quasi-natick at the end ( "AIDEMEMOIRE/ERE"; I've listened to Marley's classic literally thousands of times and am not sure if I've actually heard that) this puzzle wasn't terribly hard, but it WAS apcray, to use the apt expression of one of the early commenters. "BETRASH"??? Is that an expression in actual usage somewhere? BTW haven't read through all the comments but in case this hasn't been explicated, Quemoy and Matsu are islands near China with disputed status whose fate was the subject of debate (inter alia), literally, during the 1960 election debates between the Democratic and Republican nominees for U.S. president that year (then-U.S. Sen. from Massachusetts John F. Kennedy and then-incumbent U.S. Vice President Richard M. Nixon, respectively). It was a typical Cold War dog whistle issue (like the spurious "missile gap" the same year, in which Sen. Kennedy, anomalously attacking the Eisenhower-Nixon Administration from the right at least momentarily, asserted that the American leaders had carelessly allowed their Soviet counterparts to gain an advantage in intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)) in which the rivals each tried to outdo the other in anti-Communist bona fides.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

Anon 3:02,
There are few topics in geopolitics hotter than what China is doing in the South China sea. Seriously. Japan is, rightly, terrified. So are the pentagon and State department. China is making some outlandish claims about the area (not mention the islands they continue to build) and engaging in some-heart stopping brinksmanship both with big boats and fast planes.

The puzzle beat me. Well done Smith.

davidm 3:32 PM  

CASTE SYSTEM threw me for a loop, which is fine by me, upending my expectations. I like when that happens.

Based on the clue, I initially thought that what was wanted was something like COMMUNISM or COMMUNITARIANISM, but neither fit. Still, I already had the first letter, C, and the last letter M, and ended up writing in COMMUNALISM, which fit the number of squares, but … nope!

And yeah, CASTE SYSTEM is indeed the opposite of individualism, in a certain sense, but one naturally thinks (or at least I do) that the opposite of this is some kind of synonym for socialism. So, nice feint on the clue!

I shouldn’t do these puzzles with a pen, but I always do. ;)

Masked and Anonymous 3:34 PM  


DENTE & MERRIE both have Patrick Berry (PB1) Usage immunity. Suuuu … ok.

EINE has been used by about every constructioneer *except* PB1. PB1 *has* used EIN, tho. Suuuu … close enough.

I did just notice ADAS. Think maybe I'da gone with ADAR. Cuts down on yer plurals of convenience (yo, @AnoaBob). OTOH, TENSES's clue *was* kinda neat, I'd grant.

Hey -- if Jamey Smith had just made all his corner longball stacks 10-long, instead of 11-long, he'da potentially had 12 fewer weejects! He sacrificed his weeject life, just to give us more rare-ish* 11-long corner answers. Give the dude a break, here.

M&A is startin to admire this puz's craft/pioneerin attitude a little more, on each pass thru it…


* I've got this here NYTPuz omnibus book of themeless puzs. I ain't seein many puzs that go with 11-long 3+ stack entries in the corners. Frank Longo had one with a 4-stack of em in 2 corners. Matt Gaffney & Manny Nosowsky each had one with a 3-stack of em in 2 corners. That's about it, out of the 200 puzs in the book.

Carola 3:47 PM  

@Nancy - Jinx! When I finished the puzzle, my first thought was that it made me a 1 Across.

@Barbie Barbie 12:24 - I agree entirely with your first paragraph; thanks for putting it so well. Can't agree with the second, though - I found this one quite challenging.

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I thought the long answers were sensational, and I loved the PIG LATIN trick and the "will" clue. I guess I just didn't notice the dross. Do-overs: Class SYSTEM; CArtS before CASKS (dunce-cap moment: I knew coopers made barrels, but the C in place led to, "Maybe they also make CArtS" instead of the junior-sized barrels).

Saved-by Department: the cross-reference between 5D and 10D - I had the R from REICE, so an E preceding it was likely. Ergo ELI and YALIE, which got me HAPPY CAMPER and the rest of the NW.

@Jamey Smith, thank you for the fun. I look forward to your next one.

albatross shell 4:13 PM  

I think everybody is overthinking Ebay ashtray, e.g. It is an example of piglatin. Thus the answer is PIGLATIN. Nice, e.g. could be clued for FRENCHCITY. Would that cause such an ado?

Joe Dipinto 4:19 PM  

Everyone who's ever had a themeless puzzle rejected (especially women) have to be sitting at home going "... really?"

Oh yes, especially women -- the poor dears are so sensitive. Any woman who ever submitted a themeless that was rejected surely burst into tears upon seeing this puzzle.

BASSOS is bad, I agree. It's basso/bassi or bass/basses. And, just to be persnickety, I will point out that in professional parlance opera roles are "sung", not "played".

HSCW Editor 4:23 PM  

I think "Be Trash" is Oscar the Grouch's mantra

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

Well, I didn't have a problem with Be Trash for the Pig Latin clue...
it's a West Wing reference:
_Mrs._ Trump's motto is "Be Best"
_Mr._ Trump's motto is ".....

albatross shell 5:14 PM  

I thought N.B.A. stat was begging for an abbreviation. And why not NBA stat.? Or to better NBA statistic?
Got CALORIE_O__. Put in PORN. Then OPIES before OBIES.
TAMES before GAMES. NW triple last to fall. Did not remember there was more than one Napoleon.

Charlotte 5:22 PM  

Knowing "I Am A Camera" for sure didn't help a big in the northwest. I had to give up and look at the solution.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

Well put. So much hatred in Rex's words every week. Always complaint - rarely enjoyment. Always anti-man. Often disdainful or rude to the constructors. I come here for the comments, which seem much more level-headed.

Ryan 5:47 PM  

I looked through way more comments than is healthy (in other words, I looked through 1 or more comments) to see if anyone caught this but didn't see it..."ebay ashtray" is pig latin for "e trash", not "be trash". the b consonant is added to e since it has no consonant. That said...I didn't enjoy this puzzle much and thought that clue/answer was e trash. Since I've discovered Rex's blog, I've enjoyed the puzzles I don't enjoy by coming here and reading Rex's rants on why I didn't enjoy the puzzle. I am a bit chagrined when we don't agree. Today, however, I was not disappointed.

albatross shell 5:53 PM  

@anon 4:43
Looked the Napoleons and found some good quotes. Stupidity is no handicap in politics.
Glory is fleeting, obscurity is forever.

mmorgan 6:01 PM  

@Anon 8:25 — you must remember the part about “The most rewarding pleasure in thIs man’s world for people who are having fun..”, no?

howard a. brenner 6:16 PM  

Jeff Chen’s infoword is rational and adult

Kevin O'Connor 8:32 PM  

Protax? Nobody else didn’t like Protax?

walkingreject 9:05 PM  

If “EBay” wasn’t meant to be PIGLATINized, then it would have been clued as “eBay”, I believe. I think that’s the proper stylization.

OISK 9:26 PM  

I agree with Rex. That's two DNF in two consecutive days, after 5 weeks without one. But yesterday was my fault. Today?? Aide de memoire HAS to be clued with a hint that it is French. Someone earlier brilliantly suggested "Nice mnemonic." And I know that this has come up before, but one bass, two basses, uno basso, due bassi. I could not decide between the basses. But even worse was the clue for "ere." That is beyond awful, and there is no excuse for it. Ere can be clued so many ways. Never having listened to Marley, ( even when his ghost appeared) how could I possibly think of "ere" before "little darlin" ? PBR ? I dislike product acronyms, so PBR took ages; I don't know what emopop is, although it has been in the puzzle, there are too many three letter bio suffixes, so the SE was tough, although I eventually got it.

However, outside the soggy South, though, this wasn't bad, nosiree. I liked the timely "emerald isle." But I hated Steinberg's first couple of puzzles as well, and now I find them occasionally tolerable, and this is (IMHO) MUCH better than Steinberg's earliest efforts...

Space Is Deep 10:31 PM  

Very tough Friday for me. But a satisfying feeling finally finishing it correctly with a couple of lucky guesses

jberg 10:36 PM  

I thought it was ok, though I can also see the objections. It was a struggle to solve (good), but I'm still not sure I understood the PIG LATIN. One theory, that BE TRASH is some kind of contemporary slang, is not confirmed by the Urban Dictionary, but could still be correct; the other, that it means E TRASH, also works. But ideally there should be a right interpretation, shouldn't there? (@Hartley, your intrepretation works, but I can't see any reason the first word would not be in pig Latin while the second is).

Aside from that, like everyone else over 65, I knew MATSU; AIDE MEMOIRE doesn't really mean mnemonic, but it's a phrase, and it fits. And I was so happy that 11D was REICE and not, as I had feared, RE ACE (as in the bandage) that I loved the puzzle.

OUTSIDE chance seemed more idiomatic than SHOT to me, but that's just me.

Did anyone go for Al Qaeda before Al DENTE? Me neither, but it was a neat touch.

13D made me sad, as my cholesterol medication has a label instruction not to take it with grapefruit juice.

Finally, all you complaining that Yale isn't important enough to get in all these crosswords should go talk to Justice Kavanaugh. I think he has a different opinion.

Vernon'sdad 11:04 PM  

Yeah, i did

clk 12:55 PM  

I don’t get all the complaints about this one. The only one I find compelling is the argument against BASSOS. I got a chuckle out of the PIGLATIN answer without parsing it too closely. Isn’t it enough that ebay ashtray is an example of PIGLATIN without having to translate it?
I assumed the will clue referred to Will Shortz’s editing and thought that was rather clever, but it works just as well for the word “will”, as others have pointed out.
I had to cheat to get SCHAEFER. I grew up in the 70’s but it doesn’t look like it was sold in Kansas, so I probably never heard their ads. It was interesting to learn that it was bought out by Stroh’s, which was in turn bought by Pabst, which brings us full circle to PBR, which is my go-to beer when I’m feeling cheap.

Chef SEO 10:43 PM  

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spacecraft 11:12 AM  

...and OFC didn't even mention UIE! Yeah, um, Jamey: find another way to make money. Please. I'll give you ATOMSMASHER, and maybe CALORIEBOMB, but you can "ashtray" the rest.

Here's what I remember about 22-across:

Is the
One beer to have when you're having more than one...

They took over from Ballantine as a Phillies sponsor. Neither beer was worth an apcray. Like this puzzle.

Did I like it? NOSIREE. Double-bogey.

Burma Sahve 11:40 AM  


NO OUTSIDESHOT of SCHAEFER at the bar gave METIME to tamper


rondo 12:56 PM  

I’m afraid that OFL has some valid points. 9 threes in each of the top and bottom TIERs, plus the rest, and that’s a bunch. I might not call the whole puz ashtray. But I will admit that the WSJ has some good puzzles, and today is Contest Day (as are all Fridays) with a meta type answer as the final ‘solve’. And still free.

In my youth SCHAEFER was the inexpensive beer at 3 cases for ten bucks, while PBR was 3 bucks for a twelve-pack – nearly twice the price. PBR used to be considered a ‘good’ beer, not sure about the recent incarnation. For those not in the know, PBR is Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Not a huge star, but as a yeah baby Erika SCHAEFER is one, even if you’re not having more than one. Or it’s Kate HUDSON’s birthday today.

Not great, but I can’t get as steamed about it as OFL.

Wooody2004 1:54 PM  

How about Syndicats? I think it has an OUTSIDESHOT of becoming the HIP new term for syndicated solvers.

Natalie SCHAEFER could be described as an ELD ADVENTURER.

ASTO (or IN RE) all the gripes today about the easy three and four letter fill, what is the first Crosswordese you remember? Mine is ARIA. I used to know next to nothing about opera and classical music, so ARIA was a mystery to me. But I soon discovered that if a clue was in Italian and seemed to be a song title, the answer would always be ARIA.

Diana,LIW 2:01 PM  


Can't say that I am able to garner up any amount of caring about it. All the above reasons, especially the trashy ones. Really.

Reason I came in 67X at ACPT - I'm just not into competing. I mean, timing a puzzle ruins it for me. (Answer to note from yesterday in Synderland) I just enjoy solving...slowly...with a second cup of coffee...and a cat.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, because I'm patient

rondo 2:35 PM  

@Wooody2004 - I totally forgot about Lovey Howell. And I'll always remember my first ETUI (Maleska days). Stick a needle in that.

Wooody2004 3:24 PM  

@rondo ETUI might be my second ESE, along with ETTU. I was never any good at Shakespeare quotes either.

Diana,LIW 4:06 PM  

@Rondo - did I ever tell you about the ETUIs you can buy at the dollar store? They are smartphone cases. When I first saw them, I said "ETUIs" out loud, I was so surprised. People moved slowly away from me...

Lady Di

rainforest 4:25 PM  

@Woody2004 Hey, syndicats is cool, hep, hip. I'll proudly call myself a syndicat.

Going against the grain, after/during 1 1/2 cups of coffee, but no cat, I liked this puzzle, but I grimaced at AIDE MEMOIRE. Is that French? I spent too long trying to get "aid to memory" or "aid in memory" to work (too short). I had to eventually, because of the crosses, accept the actual answer.

The rest of the puzzle was fine, even with all the 3-letter words. It was gold getting EMERALD ISLE, CASTE SYSTEM, and HUDSON RIVER, all of which were key in their respective sections.

@rondo - I too remember my first ETUI (post Maleska. I wasn't doing the NYT then), but I think the very first crosswordese I encountered was ERST. There are so many words you only see in crossword puzzles. Some have been useful when I want to seem erudite, which is difficult for me.

leftcoastTAM 7:39 PM  

Lots of potentially helpful threes, but not this time.

Had no idea about the ATOM SMASHER on the Swiss-French border, even though having been around there a couple of times.

Not as fluent in PIG LATIN as I thought I was.

leftcoastTM 8:40 PM  

Right, @rainforest, crosswordese teaches us little or nothing, except maybe how to do crosswords.

Blade 12:20 PM  

Kids are people too! (Yes they are!)

It ain’t easy, going all day
Winning and losing at the games that we play
Doing our homework, learning at school
And trying to live by the golden rule...

That’s all I can pull from memory. Yowza! That’s pushing 50 years ago. Talk about brain resin!

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