Daughter (and granddaughter) of Jocasta / FRI 5-17-19 / John who wrote "Appointment in Samarra" / Photographer Goldin / Mr. Microphone manufacturer

Friday, May 17, 2019

Constructor: Adam Fromm

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Themeless (?)

Word of the Day: UNGULATE (18A: Having hooves) —
Ungulates (pronounced /ˈʌŋɡjəlts/) are any members of a diverse group of primarily large mammals that includes odd-toed ungulates such as horses and rhinoceroses, and even-toed ungulates such as cattlepigsgiraffescamelsdeer, and hippopotamuses. Most terrestrial ungulates use the tips of their toes, usually hoofed, to sustain their whole body weight while moving.
The term means, roughly, "being hoofed" or "hoofed animal". As a descriptive term, "ungulate" normally excludes cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), as they do not possess most of the typical morphologicalcharacteristics of ungulates, but recent discoveries indicate that they are descended from early artiodactyls.[4]
• • •
Hello! Rachel Fabi in for Rex today.

Fridays tend to be my favorite puzzles of the week. The themelessness usually means that you can expect new and exciting entries or an interesting grid design (or both!). This particular Friday was a bit of a disappointment, for a not particularly good reason, which will be revealed AFTER the rest of the write-up.

First: the good news. Maybe an unpopular take, but I love triple stacks. When I open a puzzle and see that wide open space, the anticipation of finding out how the constructor filled it always kicks off the solve on a high note.

Not suitable for a general audience
The bad news: This triple stack is kind of dull! MAJOR LEAGUE GAME, PRIVATE PRACTICE, and GENERAL AUDIENCE are all pretty bland, and the clues are also a let down. Yes, ESPN airs MAJOR LEAGUE GAMEs in the summer. Sure, some doctors and lawyers work in PRIVATE PRACTICE. I'm not totally clear on how a GENERAL AUDIENCE is "sanctioned" by a G-rating; it's not like a GENERAL AUDIENCE needs official permission to attend, but I guess that's a plausible clue.

The dryness of the entries was not limited to the triple stack, although I enjoyed the long downs. I like JINGOISTS (as an answer, not IRL) and its clue (32D: Country superfans), and I added DEAD AGAIN to my mental Netflix queue (but not my actual one, because it's not on there. I checked.).

I ended up with a pretty average Friday time, but my solve was verrrry patchy. I particularly struggled in the Northeast, as evidenced by the "pencil" squares in the screenshot above. I may have heard the term UNGULATE before, but if I did, the brain cells that previously stored that information have long since been appropriated for other purposes, like maintaining my mental Netflix queue. I had never heard of bubble and squeak, and now that I've googled it, I can't say I'm particularly excited to try it any time soon, despite my love of SPUDs. I was also unfamiliar with the HARP SEAL, but I am so glad I know what they are now, because:

My lack of jazz knowledge really slowed me down on this solve. I had no idea that TRANE was a nickname for John ColTRANE, and I am unfamiliar with Jimmy Dorsey's SO RARE. Fortunately, the clue on that one (25D: Jimmy Dorsey standard with the line "You're like the fragrance of blossoms fair") hinted that the answer rhymed with "fair," so I got there eventually. I know this wasn't a universal experience, and that more cultured solvers probably flew through these clues without pause, but jazz is just not my thing.

Overall, this was a decent but kind of boring Friday puzzle that was not my speed. Thanks to Rex for letting me review at you! See you next time.

  • OHARA (45D: John who wrote "Appointment in Samarra") — I loved this for two reasons: (1) I'm happy to see OHARA clued as something other than Scarlett, and (2) This story featured heavily in an excellent episode of Sherlock, which I love. I didn't know the author of the story, and I'm glad to have learned it!
  • MCC (35D: Three CDs?) — If you must use Roman numerals, this is the way to do it! It took me some longggg seconds to work out that CD = 400 so Three CDs = 1200 = MCC. Into it.
Signed, Rachel Fabi, Queen-for-a-Day of CrossWorld

[Follow Rachel Fabi on Twitter]

Oh you thought the write up was over? SO DID I. And then I saw that I had twitter notifications from Rex, and now we all have to keep going, because:

Ok, so, for those of you sticking around for the coda: I wrote that entire write up ^^^ twice. Because when I went to edit it to include some points about the FRIGGING MINI-THEME, my entire post was deleted. It's been a long night, and it made me EVEN CRANKIER about the "mini theme" than I otherwise would have been.

So. The triple stack has military ranks in it. MAJOR, PRIVATE, GENERAL. The end.

Theme answers:
  • MAJOR LEAGUE GAME (30A: Summer broadcast for ESPN)
  • PRIVATE PRACTICE (37A: What many doctors and lawyers work in)
  • GENERAL AUDIENCE (38A: It's sanctioned by a "G")
Signed (again), Rachel Fabi, Queen-for-a-Day-and-an-extra-hour of CrossWorld

[Follow Rachel Fabi on Twitter ]
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Runs with Scissors 12:36 AM  

FRIGGA!! It was tough getting a toehold today. Nothing was clicking for the first several minutes. Partials here and there with enough space between the letters it might as well have been in Klingon.

Chipped away at it, the three grid-spanners in the middle fell somewhat easily and then it was purty easy…until it wasn’t. The NE put up an epic struggle. But I persevered and won out in the end with no reveals, no Googles, no cheats.

Sparkly bits: 3D IGLOO. 13D EATER. That’s so bad it’s brilliant. I sit in awe, I tell ya. 10D SPUD – I still have no idea what in tarnation “Bubbles and squeak” means in relation to potatoes but I got the answer. Unless SPUD is the post past-tense, subjective declension, subjunctive mood and invective case of sped. 

8D RANGE – I foresee much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the triggered cohort, and they’ll conjoin it with ARMED. In fact, they’ll probably be AT WAR. EARP was. Tehee. I’m almost always typing my comments at 8 – 9 pm PDT the night before so I haven’t seen the ructions.

Random thoughts on the puzzle:

35D is RRN, but y’know what? It works. I had the GOOD SENSE to ROAR on ahead and did not come IN LAST.

I love the word UNGULATE but I can’t explain why. Jimmy Dorsey’s tune translates as SO-RAR-EE in my head.

For some reason I remembered her as “Frygge.” That probably was a major cause of my slow start.

Did you know that “In the lurch” has the same number of letters as AT THE ALTAR? Crud!

I HUGGED the edges of the puzzle. My STYLE was AT WAR with everything. Born AGAIN before DEAD AGAIN. Then the WASHROOM PATROL took over.

The clue for 32D was truly sneaky. It took me almost twenty trillion picoseconds to parse.

57A ANTIGONE – that name has always been a WTF to me. How is it pronounced? Anti-gone? An-tijone? Antiggony? Never mind.

So much to love in this puzzle, and it almost kicked my posterior. I saw exactly zero dreck and if there was any subpar fill, well, it didn’t matter because I didn’t notice it. And I ain’t goin’ back to look for it, neither.

Today’s stream of consciousness has been brought to you by GUADELOUPE ANTIGONE. Rated G.

Thanks, Adam. This meets my Friday requirements. Looking forward to more.


Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

Loren Muse Smith 12:50 AM  

Maybe it’s the news these days, who knows – but I was primed to notice the bellicose vibe. And hence the theme. We have an NCO, a GENERAL, a MAJOR, a PRIVATE, all AT WAR, ARMED and on PATROL on their various CRUSADES. Cheered on by JINGOISTS maybe? Talk about UNEASY.

“Tryst” before FLING.

@Runs - “high and dry” also has the same number of letters as AT THE ALTAR. I guess “high and dry” is nauticalsome. It could also describe someone who has eschewed alcohol for pot.

Ok. So. I had never heard of bubble and squeak. Googled it to find it’s a British breakfast dish. Man, those chaps can flat name some foods. Toad in the hole, spotted dick, singing hinnies. . . while poking around on this, I came upon a dish whose name, stargazy pie, is not upsetting, but the image is. Whoever came up with this dish had to have been seriously stoned.

Triple stack on a Friday with a little themelette. Unlike others, I love, love, love Fridays and Saturdays with mini themes. Well-played, Adam.

puzzlehoarder 1:24 AM  

It's hard to say if this is easy or medium for me. The time says average but the average Friday is usually pretty easy. At least 90% of the entries today we're low hanging fruit. There were only a few scattered challenging ones. FRIGGA was one of them for me. However 3D's clue screams IGLOO. If there's some other three letter Indian state besides from GOA I don't want to know it because GOA is just that reliable. NCO went right in making RONCO and FLING just as obvious. The point of all this tedious detail is how easy this puzzle made it to get unknowns like FRIGGA. Maybe some people are just that big of fans of that movie or Norse mythology to make 1A a gimme but with a puzzle like this you didn't have to be either to quickly smoke that one out.

That's enough TMI about my ho hum solve. The rest went much like the NW. At least every entry that was featured in this puzzle was actually there which is more than can be said of yesterday's Frankenpuzzle. There wasn't much challenge here but at least what there was was themeless.

jae 1:43 AM  

Bottom half easy-medium, top half tough (especially) NE...why....?

HeeDed > HeelED > HUGGED.


Seed > StUd > SPUD

Had trouble spelling UNGULATE and had no idea about “bubble and squeak”.

Other problems: shaBBY before GRUBBY and @Runs in the lurch.

Nice challenge, liked it despite the @lms bellicose vibe.

chris b 1:44 AM  

Naticked by FRIGGA/GOA. But now I have a new ambiguous curse word. Frigga-goa!

Harryp 2:17 AM  

I messed up the Northwest corner with 15A, bug OUT right off the bat, but continued around the puzzle clockwise till I got back up there and figured it out. I too love the triple stacks, and they don't have to be scintillating to make me happy, just being there OK. I had fun with this and that is all I ask. I too didn't look for a Theme, but it never bothers me unless the Theme is absolutely necessary to the solve.

Larry Gilstrap 2:42 AM  

FRIGGA on her day of the week seems appropriate, even though that NW corner used up lots of eraser. I, too, was with @LMS on a "tryst" before we settled on our FLING. Lots of long and medium-long stacks make for a fun solve. What's the record for a puzzle with the most grid-spanners? Not sure I want to know.

Jimmy Dorsey's SO RARE is almost too old for me. I can't imagine how young solvers cope sometimes. But, if you don't know TRANE, then that's on you.

LAVATORY is one of the euphemisms for bathroom that JOHN triggered a few days ago. Gonna see a man about a horse.

Fresh from Google, but previously I thought that UNGULATE had something to do with a complicated digestive system, not specifically hooves. Live and learn.

Even after 9/11, politicians were loath to use the term CRUSADES, as it might be offensive to non-Christian religions. Generic cluing in this puzzle skirts that minefield.

albatross shell 2:57 AM  

I was disappointed come again was wrong, but DEADAGAIN was even better. Just as the use of Roman numerals was superb the use of the movie title was one you enjoyed guessing at, just as the song title clue gave a rhyming hint. Most excellent CLUING. Friday's are often WAY hard for me, but this one was quick. Well 2 hours by the timer, but that includes eating dinner and watvhing the second half of the nba playoffs. So maybe in the 45 minute range taking it easy.

gOER before DOER. Like TRANE HET JINGOIST TABLETOPS and truly appreciate John OHARA. Very edgy puzzle. WAR UNEASE PATROL CRUSADE, The ranks. Place with violent history GUADELOUPE, play not exactly peaceful. I SAY an-ti-gu-knee. HARPSEAL evens sounds violent.
If WASHROOM was replaced by johnROOM it might have ruined my breakfast.

Having JINGOIST IN there makes it OK. Reveals his fears about his theme.

chefwen 3:20 AM  

Love Bubble and Squeak, my babysitter in Scotland would make it for us with left over cabbage and mashed taters. It gets its name for the sound it makes while being fried up. I make it when I have left over cabbage from St. Paddy’s day dinner. Add a bunch of butter, salt and pepper and it’s ready. Tasty stuff.

Liked this a lot more than that mind bending puzzle of yesterday, which almost did me in.

I’ll bet M&A is going to love all those pretty little U’s.

Only hang up was shabby before GRUBBY at 34D. Any Friday that I can do cheat free I have to rate easy to medium.

Lewis 6:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:16 AM  

A grand old hunker-down-and-think puzzle, all the while one that relies on some answers my mind throws at me, even if I'm not sure of them -- and so using both sides of the brain. A puzzle where I figure things out and fill in words that I've never heard of. One of those puzzles where at the end I feel more like a conquerer than merely a doer. Thus, I loved it, and thank you for this, Adam.

amyyanni 6:35 AM  

Hi Rachel. Yes, Dead Again is worth tracking down. I found the NW section the hardest as well, thought the rest was easy for Friday. Totally missed the theme. Still enjoyed it.

Eric NC 6:54 AM  

@lms. So. Thanks for the stargaze pie image. Now I can’t face breakfast.

Wood 6:56 AM  

Flew through it until grinding to a halt in the NE. Spent probably half my time up there, doggedly changing SLOG to PLUG and back. Had UNITARSE (!) for "Hooved" for a while. That Is Not a Thing.

Suzie Q 7:18 AM  

I sensed immediately that the word Felt in 43A was a trick about gambling surfaces. I guess I've done too many puzzles.
Loved the unusual names Frigga and Antigone.
Skipper, as clued, was a nice misdirection even if goer is awkward.
The only answer that caused a frown was EEG test. Kinda redundant.
I knew Bubble and Squeak but I'm surprised at how many people did not. It's pretty tasty and I recommend using an iron skillet. Yum!
I, too, thought ungulate referred to chewing/digestive system so I learned something new.
Acceptably challenging and felt good to finish so thanks Mr. Fromm.

Karl Grouch 7:23 AM  

¡14 G's!
Quite a gravitational pull!

QuasiMojo 7:31 AM  

Kinda boring to have a marquee answer stem from “G” when the G already means General. Never heard of Bubble and Squeak and don’t recall potatoes being called spuds in Britspeak. I thought it was American slang, something an EARP brother might say. So I struggled in the NE too. Overall a competent but lackluster affair. My FLINGs are usually super short so I put in TRYST first. Nice write-up(s) today. Many thanks!

Logan 7:33 AM  

Painful to see military clues from (presumably) non-military people. The E-4 pay grade is for the rank of Specialist in the LARGE majority. Easily 90% though I couldn’t quickly find the numbers. Specialist is NOT a non-commissioned officer. One of the few off-clues that made today slightly annoying.

Teedmn 7:40 AM  

These days it's SO RARE for a Friday to take me more than 20 minutes to solve but today was the day (20:14 to be exact). The NE was the tough spot - do the British call potatoes SPUDs slangily? I wasn't expecting that, nor did I have any idea of the Kenneth Branagh film and had forgotten the HARP part of the SEAL. _EA_ AGAIN at 12D had me thinking rEAl AGAIN with Kool Moe LEE but I finally thought of CRUSADES and the rEAl became the DEAD. ("The Real and the Dead" sounds like some 1940s novel by John O'HARA).

I'm gonna GOER and EATER at the diner. Both of those filled in reluctantly. And 32D seems rather pejorative towards those Garth Brooks fans :-).

I liked the workout this gave me, ERGO thanks, Adam Fromm.

pmdm 7:47 AM  

I do not understand at all what difference it makes if a Friday puzzle has a theme as long as the puzzle (without taking into consideration the theme) is well constructed. I did not notice a bit that this puzzle had a theme. Any complaints should be aimed solely at the entries of the puzzle, not the theme.

It's tough to please some of you here.

Rug Crazy 7:54 AM  

Thanks to everyone , including Rex, for "splaining" theme, which I missed. Enjoyed this one without it. (happy to finish in one short sitting)

Nancy 8:03 AM  

Who else wants to use FRIGGA as a curse word? Just about everyone here, it seems. However, I'll replace @chris b's FRIGGA-GOA with FRIGGA-RONCO, which was my almost-Natick. Happily I guessed right.

But long before I was cursing the NW corner of this brilliant puzzle, I was singing its praises. Because the triple stack is totally unforced and entirely MAJOR LEAGUE; the clues are terrific; and there's just about no junk at all. Everything makes GOOD SENSE. Perhaps a little hard for a GENERAL AUDIENCE, but I loved its crunch. A very, very welcome puzzle -- coming as it does after a Wednesday with no crunch at all and a Thursday with weird crunch that broke all my teeth. A Goldilocks puzzle -- Just Right. Great job, Adam Fromm!

pabloinnh 8:09 AM  

The first clue I happened to look at was "Having hooves" and I thought, well, finally a chance to use UNGULATE, which has been waiting patiently in the memory vault for this moment. "Bubble and squeak"? Check. HARPSEAL? Sure. And so on. Hung up on "country superfan" for a while, as I've just finished teaching a course on Outlaw Country and was trying to think of someone with a fanatical fan base. Nice misdirection there. RESTROOM before WASHROOM slowed things down too. Found "high and dry" was a nice fit for ATTHEALTAR (hi LMS).

In short, a really nice Friday, a Fridecito. Thanks for the fun, AF.

Joe Dipinto 8:34 AM  

He is the very model of a modern Major-General. With his own private washroom.

I felt like this puzzle had a lot of answers that have appeared in other puzzles recently. It didn't really knock my socks off, in, uh, general.

Fairway in Red Hook has USDA Prime T-bone steaks on sale. Think I'll pick up a couple. Did you know that UNGULATE anagrams to TUNA GLUE? I wonder if Fairway sells tuna glue. I also need some 14d.

Nancy 8:42 AM  

@[Syndie] Anon from yesterday, 7:49 p.m. -- Saw your comment just now for the first time, and I thank you very much for it. It was very nice of you to say that. But please, please, give yourself a blog name -- it matters not in the slightest what it is. There are zillions of "Anonymous" posters here and it's impossible to tell one from the other. I, for one, would love to know in the future when it's you, @Anon 7:49.

@Suzie Q (7:18) -- I also got the "felt" pun in 43A immediately and, like you, I'm sure it's because I've been doing puzzles for too long. Certainly it's not because I've spent too much time in gambling joints. :)

@Eric NC (6:54) -- Unlike you, I immediately felt that @LMS had warned me quite sufficiently that the image would be upsetting, so that there was no way I would click on her link at breakfast time. Thank you for making clear that I would be wise not to click on her link EVER.

Jstarrracewalker 8:49 AM  

Sorry you were pained, but not only was E-4 a Corporal in the Army for many generations, but it still is (in addition to Specialist, as you properly stated). So despite your pain, it is wrong to presume the military status - or lack of - on the part of the author.

Z 9:08 AM  

I don't know about you, but for me it is always SORARÉ. But I've always been more Dean Martin than Jimmy Dorsey.*

@pmdm - The reason Friday themes are despised by some is that they feel like theme constraints lessen sparkle. If you think MAJOR LEAGUE GAME, PRIVATE PRACTICE, and GENERAL AUDIENCE are a little green painty for a Friday the mini-theme is clearly the sparkle thief. Personally, I think the triple stack would have been fine with a little creative cluing, but the obvious word play would be military rank clues which would have signaled the mini-theme. So, again, the mini-theme is the sparkle thief. I'm less anti-Friday themes than others, but I do see their point.

I saw through the CD's clue immediately. Is RRN math better than RRN Popes and Kings and Super Bowls? No.

@Rus with Scissors - There is a big difference between guns and everyone's favorite well-clothed domestic terrorist organization.

Really expected some mention of Pat Sajak's interaction with the contestant from Natick. Apparently Pat reads Rex, or at least has read Rex enough to know what a natick is.

* Har! Elvis is king.**
** Elvis COstello that is.

BobL 9:19 AM  

I knew Frigga as a butterfly was named after her

GILL I. 9:33 AM  

Well...I liked this puzzle. I know there's this war thing going on and if there's a theme for a Friday, I don't care.
Let's see...where to begin. Oh: First mistake was putting in MASH for the "Brits never say SPUD." Been married to one for over 34 years. A Brit, not a SPUD! Bubble and Squeak IS pretty good and you can make it with any leftover veggie. My husband used to be a pretty good cook and he'd make this all the time. He said the squeak comes from something your body does after you eat it. Kinda like @Larry's UNGULATE.
OK, so last night we re-watched (for the millionth time) Shirley Valentine. Remember "Chips and eggs are on Tuesday, steak is on Thursday?" Do yourself a favor and watch the movie. We saw it on Amazon Prime but it's available everywhere. Some people think it's a chick flick but my husband loves it as much as I. Anyway, you can see what the Brits will only eat when travelling to a place like Greece. It's funny and endearing. You'd like it, @Rachel.
Other mistake was in the lurch -> AT THE ALTAR and grungy -> GRUBBY.
Like others, I tend to like a puzzle that I can finish on tough Friday and Saturday. This leaned toward the FRIGGA GOOD RANGE. Now go watch Shirley Valentine.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

an excellent friday put. lots of empty space, kept plugging away, got a toe-hold, added some here and there, and then finished.

thought bubble and squeak was cockney rhyming slang. like apples and pears=stairs.

some very good/clever cluing. especially the felt, roman numerals, and Goa. speaking of Goa, try to get a copy of Serpentine: The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj. He was recaptured there a few years ago after drugging his jailers and escaping.

always love the twitter comments from rex's friends. "all his friends like him and think like he does." today's friend of rex is rex himself. he used to call himself "rexcalibur." lol.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

Did I mishear, or did Pat pronounce Natick with a short e sound?

This puzzle was a joy. Some fine clues and great fill: Frigga, Antigone, chugs, Trane, ungulate,t-bone Ronoco!!! Ronco! Come on! Anybody that gets Ron Popeil into a puzzle is doing a man's job!

Wonderful puzzle Mr. Fromm. Many thanks.

GILL I. 9:50 AM  

Meant to add: @Joe Dipinto: Good one. Made me laugh. Did you know your name anagrams to JOIN TOE DIP?

SouthsideJohnny 9:59 AM  

The fact that the triple stack was relatively straightforward is what gave me some hope today - I made much more progress than I usually do on a Friday, so I’m guessing that this one skews toward the easier side - at least for someone like myself who is an advanced beginner at best. I enjoyed today’s write up as well. It is refreshing to see how Rachel can offer a critical observation without making it a personal vendetta. Hopefully OFL is taking notes, lol.

I’ve been hooked on Bubble and Squeak ever since The Two Fat Ladies breakfast show aired on the Food Network years ago. Neither Jennifer or Clarissa are (is ?) still with us, God Bless them, may they Rest In Peace. Fortunately some of their shows survive on Youtube.


Bird 10:14 AM  

Now that I know the theme (which I didn't until I read the review), the puzzle takes on a very militaristic tone. Three officers, an NCO, an ATWAR, JINGOISTS, ARMED, and to some extent CRUSADES and PATROL. TRI is often clued as the first T in TNT, so there's that too.

Speaking of ATWAR and getting all HET(??) up, there's going to be a war over EMBRYOs soon...

I got tripped up on TRANE because I thought it was Coltraine...

Finally, crossing DEADAGAIN with DEE was difficult. Rap names are even more random than random roman numerals...the crossing there might be fair since a lot of the acrosses are fairly inferable, but I don't know the movie or the rapper so it took a while there.

Z 10:20 AM  

@anon9:49 - Pat said it the way @Casco Kid taught me to say it. A close approximation that’s easy to write out is “nay duck” with a schwa in the second syllable. Any New Englanders care to give a better approximation?

@anon8:36pm yesterday - My iMac and iPad are both computers. The iMac has an analog keyboard and my iPad has a digital keyboard. The “analog” in my phrase was meant to modify “keyboard” not “computer” (you know, adjective adjective noun, not adjective noun noun). As for the rest, you’ve tied yourself into so many knots that you stopped making sense. Compare “a small switch for opening or closing an electric circuit” to “a small button or knob that when pushed operates something especially by closing an electric circuit.” Yep, dictionary definitions of “key” and “button” (technically “push button” in the dictionary I copied from).

Northwest Runner 10:42 AM  

Second time in recent memory "So Rare" has shown up. Surprised (again) to learn it's from the mid-50s not what many would consider the big band era. Is this a tune we're supposed to know from more recent pop culture?

Hartley70 10:43 AM  

This was a stellar puzzle! I’m the second fish on the left in Loren’s star-gazey pie. I can see that on the table in Downton Abbey. It’s hard to imagine it in a home today without a cook and a Mrs. Beeton’s in the basement. Like @Nancy, my sticking point was the FRIGGA/RONCO cross. I played around until the happy tune JINGled.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

That FRIGGA x GOA cross is *AWFUL*

Total Natick.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Also...nobody (alive today) calls him "Trane." No one. It's "Coltrane."

Charles Flaster 11:02 AM  

@LMS 6down for me was in THE lurch.

jb129 11:21 AM  

I love any Friday puzzle that I can fly through so I loved it.

Carola 11:32 AM  

@Rachel, thanks for the nice write-up.

Like @puzzlehoarder, I found my way in via IGLOO, GOA, NCO, RONCO, but my thoughts of "Easy" came to a halt at GOOD SENSE. In the NE, "passionS" x "pokeS" yielded me nothing, so I skipped down to the easy-to-see TABLETOP (hi, @Suzie Q and @Nancy) and worked my way up from the bottom.. I completely missed the military theme. JINGOISTS in parallel with DEAD AGAIN seems nicely mordant.

Other do-overs: EyeTEST, dOER. Help from previous crosswords: SO RARE. Close but no cigar: I thought bubble and squeak = cabbage and sausage.

mmorgan 11:51 AM  

This was one of those days when I stared and stared at a blank puzzle for a very long time, only filling in the occasional letter here and there, and then somehow there's a whoosh and everything comes. I like that feeling! But I screeched to a halt in the NE, since I couldn't give up SLOGS for 7D and ACHE for 9D, and hadn't the slightest clue about bubbles and squeak.

I also spent some time trying to figure out what SORARE might mean (it sounded vaguely Spanish).

"At least the EMBRYO in the WASHROOM has been RESTORED," said EARP, who had the GOOD SENSE to LOGOUT AT THE ALTAR, with a ROAR.

OISK 11:56 AM  

The "P of harpseal and Spud went in last; no other letter seemed to work. Relieved to see that I got it right. It took me a long, frustrating time to finally realize that it was washroom, not restroom. I know the name "Coltrane," but didn't know that he played the sax, and certainly didn't know he was called "Trane." Ronco??

I did like this puzzle, thought it was a very appropriate, challenging but doable Friday.

Newboy 11:59 AM  

I’m always behind Lewis’s comments in more ways than just the clock; today he’s said it all. My only disappointment was that NARWHALE had to yield to that damnably cute baby HARPSEAL.....slowed me down a bit & helped my spelling 🤬

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

A puzzle just in time for the next Stupid War in the Middle East - Iran. May be Shortz is a leader of the Deep State and knows what's next?

And, for that matter @Z:
Technically, a push-button is used as an on/off switch, whether hardware or software implemented. You have to hit it twice to make it change state back to what it was. A key has only one static state: it resets on the rebound. That was true on Dashiell Hammett's Remington, and still true on smartphone software keys today. A KEY is not, and never has been, a BUTTON. As others mentioned, the original attribution to typewriters almost certainly came from wind instrument KEYs; they certainly looked identical circa 1900. And they worked the same as they do today: they reset on rebound. BUTTONs do not; they change static state in some way and may even send you out into the darknet to have your identity stolen. In software, a BUTTON is just a point on a GUI which the coder then decides how to handle with either bespoke or framework provided code.

Keyboards, computer division, have never been 'analog' in the strict sense. Each key generates a unique pulse, which the micro-processor accepts and converts to digital code and sends to the cpu. The only 'analog' keys were those on manual typewriters. Even IBM Selectric keys work that way (well, DAC rather than ADC; again, it depends on where you draw the line as I said yesterday): "The Selectric mechanism was notable for using internal mechanical binary coding and two mechanical digital-to-analog converters, called whiffletree linkages, to select the character to be typed." the wiki.

deerfencer 12:12 PM  

The utter flatness in both the clueing and the answers in the dead center of this puzzle killed it for me. Bah.

Unknown 12:39 PM  

This was super! The triple stack theme was brilliant.

Masked and Anonymous 12:39 PM  

I got no big problems with this puz. But then, M&A is in the "Mini-theme? Bring it on!" camp. Sooo … I was a happy camper, today.

Parkin the whole mini-theme up-front in a themeless's central stack of puzgrid spanners has gotta be a fairly unusual tactic. M&A also likes the unusual. I thought all three central spanners were fine, no matter what U might think of their clues. [I thought them there clues were ok, but overall not quite excitin enough -- needed somethin to make @RP maybe spit his coffee a bit, or somesuch.]

staff weeject pick: EEE is always a near-automatic weeeject pick, but it has been so honored awful recently.
Sooo … let's go with what the Romans do … and pick MCC, which had a most primo clue.

fave fillins included: EMBRYO. UNGULATE (yo and yep, @chefwen). LOGOUT (cuz it caught me wantin LOGOFF, for several nanoseconds too long). GOODSENSE. FRIGGA. GRUBBY.


Thanx for the "rank" mini-theme and all the other good fun, Mr. Fromm.
Thanx for the [excellent] double-dip blog write-up, Rachel darlin.

Masked & Anonym8Us


jb129 12:41 PM  

I love a Friday puzzle that I can fly through - thank you! (got stuck on "ungulate" though - so you learn something new every day!

Joe Dipinto 12:41 PM  

I just listened to the Jimmy Dorsey recording of SO RARE, and googled songwriters Jerry Herst and Jack Sharpe, both unknown to me. It seems they have a whopping *five* (5!) songs registered with Ascap, all obscure except for "So Rare". The song actually dates back to 1937 but Jimmy Dorsey's 1957 recording was the best-selling version of it.

Weirdly, I don't remember the recording at all, though I'm aware how the melody of the song goes; and I recall a lot of the hits of that era, even if I didn't know what they were at the time (I was only two when SO RARE came out) -- they probably became more familiar several years later.

@GILL, I will have to see if Fairway sells Toe Dip. :-)

RooMonster 12:59 PM  

Hey All !
I'm the only one who had stINt for 1D first? Did finally change to FLING (only F in the puz, as compared to @Karl Grouch's 14 G's). Add me to the list of inTHElurch lurchers.

Two other writeovers, taGOUT-LaGOUT-LOGOUT, shaBBY-GRUBBY.

Enjoyed the puz, didn't catch any kind of mini-theme, as I don't look for one on a FriPuz. But neat. I just submitted a puz with similar theme (actual theme). Seems every time I submit a themed puz, the next day (or week) a similar one comes out. Makes me UNEASY. It won't get accepted anyways...

Did manage to get puz 100% correct today. YAY ME! Dugthe Three CDs? clue. That and the casino felt clue, neither one tripping me up, gets me standing with the others whose brain is Crossword-infused.

Was expecting a rant ROAR CRUSADE from Rex on ARMED, but we get a sub blogger.


Joseph M 1:05 PM  

This was a difficult puzzle, but had some great payoffs, particularly the triple stack in the middle with the hidden mini theme. Nice job, Adam.

Loved the clue for JINGOISTS. Had a possible -ITTS ending for a while and thought it might have something to do with fans of Travis Tritt.

Also love the title DEAD AGAIN. Regardless of the story or characters, that is one FRIGGA great title.

My only complaint is GOER. Ugh. Unless maybe it’s part of the military theme as a reference to GOER Pyle.

OffTheGrid 1:18 PM  

@Nancy, @Suzie. I also got the "felt" clue easily but that was partly because of the "?". That's why I hate the "?" on clues. It amounts to hand holding and dulls the AHA moment.

Master Melvin 1:26 PM  

If I remember correctly, the cuteness of those HARP SEALS almost did them in. That cuddly white fur they sported when they were young became very desirable. Canadian hunters armed with clubs preyed on them by walking on the ice and clubbing the poor little critters to death. Someone filmed and broadcast the spectacle and viewers were so horrified that I think the Canadian government put an end to the practice. Don't know whether the species survived in Canada.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Ditto. I was pleased to see and pleased with myself to throw down NARWHALE with just RANGE and URGE in place. Damn seal.

Crimson Devil 2:23 PM  

Loved the THREE CDs = MCC !!

Hack mechanic 2:32 PM  

I always thought it's name was related to the effect on your intestines, bubble & squeak!

Fred Romagnolo 2:41 PM  

Some of you seem to be upset at anything military; it was Lincoln's military that freed the slaves; Roosevelt's that helped defeat Hitler. Sure Viet Nam was a debacle, but it really is time to get over it. My Wagnerian bias makes it hard to transliterate Fricka into Frigga. Knowing the names in Broadway's "Cats" isn't far from the obscurity of San Francisco districts and Minnesota county-seats. Antigone had a sister, Ismene. I don't think that Rex objected to "John" as a toilet, but to the suggestion that people did crosswords there, not a suitable idea for a puzzle.

Hungry Mother 2:44 PM  

Solving on the Cape May/Lewes Ferry, heading to a 5K tomorrow on the runway of the Cape May County Airport. I found the puzzle hard rto get into, but I buillt momentum and ended up with a very fast time (for me).

Hungry Mother 2:52 PM  

When I was in the Army, I was taught all of the ranks of all of the services. My final rank was E-4, but I was not a Corporal or an NCO. It pains me that military service isn’t universal.

RooMonster 3:34 PM  

@Hungry Mother
Me too for Army. Late 80's. An E-4 was either Spec4 (later changed to Specialist), or a Corporal. It depended on your particular job. Corporal are NCOs, Specialists are not.

There used to be three Specialist ranks, Spec4, Spec5, Spec6.


dhamel 4:26 PM  

Dead Again is a great movie, by the way. I rewatch it every few years or so.

Runs with Scissors 4:55 PM  

@LMS 12:50

I flat out loved that stargazy pie image. Those Brits can't do beef to save their lives (London broil. 'nuff said) so they had to come up with truly admirable concoctions and names for same.

I'd eat that.

Runs with Scissors 5:16 PM  

@Hungry Mother 2:52 PM

I can't think of anything worse than having a conscript who doesn't want to be there next to me when the fecal matter hits the rotating air movement device. And I say that having been at the pointy end of the lance in an all-volunteer Navy.

Besides, my philosophy has always been if you can't get enough volunteers, maybe you should rethink the trajectory of your international relations. Stop-loss and the draft in anything other than a WWII situation doesn't cut it. Even in WWII the draft existed more to parcel out bodies to the services. There were plenty of volunteers.

In the Navy an E-4 (3rd Class Petty Officer) is most certainly an NCO. A minor nit I'll bring up while I'm here, since it shows up regularly in puzzles, is that the ship's bosun (properly bo's'n - for boatswain) is an officer, not a CPO. There is a Chief Petty Officer Boatswain's Mate (and 1st Class, and 2nd Class, and 3rd Class), but they are Bo's'n's mates.

Since I've seen this noted before, I'll honor the unwritten "3 and out" convention. Until tomorrow...

JOHN X 5:47 PM  

@Z 10:20 AM

You are incorrect. There's nothing analog about either your iMac or your iPad keyboards. The iMac uses a physical mechanical keyboard, while the iPad uses a virtual keyboard on the display. Both are 100% digital in every sense of the word. For example, the letter "q" is either selected or it's not selected. There is no continuously variable range of selection, which is the core definition of "analog."

Hope this helps.

Jeff B. 6:15 PM  

Adam, thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, and especially for including TRANE.

Anon 11:01: No one alive calls him Trane? I disagree. Under any name, glad to be reminded of John Coltrane.

South stack was easier than expected. NE was quite a different matter.

Wood 6:47 PM  

I thought of that too, but thought it was NARWHAL (so too short).

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I was also glad to see Appointment in Samarra/John O'Hara clue as my father was O'Hara's biographer. O'Hara was a wonderful writer - especially short stories (230 published in New Yorker). However, the Sherlock episode refers to the poem by W. Somerset Maugham who was a friend of O'Hara's. O'Hara used the poem and the title for his novel about a man facing death. Read the novel! Here is the poem which always gives me chills.

"The Appointment in Samarra"
(as retold by W. Somerset Maugham [1933])

The speaker is Death

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

kitshef 11:55 PM  

Huh. I found this to be the hardest puzzle - on any day of the week - in living memory. Among my many detours:
mAckereL before HARP SEAL
achE before URGE
plUgS before CHUGS
hispaniola before GUADELOUPE
ciNEmA... before GENERAL...
DROVE by before DROVE ON

Logan 9:22 AM  

I suppose I shouldn’t have presumed, but you missed my point. While a Corporal is an NCO, the large majority of E-4s are not Corporals. This was too easy to re-clue since the verbiage of the original clue is just not correct. E-4 != NCO, just as E-8 != First Sergeant.

spacecraft 11:12 AM  

A good bounce back from yesterday's fiasco. Finished, at about medium strength, with a single writeover: I misspelled GUADaLOUPE at first. BaTS was fine--until I read the clue.

Had to laugh at getting TABLETOPS right away. When you bust out of a poker tournament (lose all your chips), it's said you've been "felted." As I was in a WSOP event recently. Oh well.

I did notice the ranks in the gridspanners, but I don't quite understand people's aversion to anything military. We forget that their #1 job is to keep the peace. For me this mini-theme did not detract from the solving experience; rather, it was a little extra lagniappe for the puzzle.

DOD, right out of the gate, is Rene Russo as FRIGGA--or as anyone at all! Honorable mention to fire-haired Maureen O'HARA of old film.

Hand up for INTHELURCH, but I had the GOODSENSE to hold off on that one. A clever clue for a RRN; almost makes me like it. Almost. Next to the ol' shoe width, it looks pretty desperate. But I'm not gonna get all HET up about it, or about TBONE (but couldn't you clue it as a great dinner instead of a friggin' accident?) I like it SORARE, BTW. Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:30 AM  




RONdO 12:08 PM  

Well, there’s your Friday folks, literally right there at 1a in one of the many variant spellings of the goddess for whom Friday is named – FRIGGA. Sorry if you don’t know your Nordic mythology, or keep tabs on yeah baby Rene Russo. Wrote over HoT to get HET up there.

I didn’t read comments other than @teedmn and syndicats. Are we having anti-military words? I had put a large X next to 44d ‘Packing’ being ARMED figuring OFL would go off on that. Alas, no Rex.

RONCO almost a RONdO. Named such for RON Popiel. He sold ATON of Pocket Fishermen, ETC.

Good enough puz that I can’t remember which letters went INLAST.

rainforest 2:37 PM  

I put myself behind the 8-ball immediately by slapping down in THE lurch right off the bat. However, I did get GOA and IGLOO.

Moving on to the NE was much better as good guesses and CrossSmarts(tm) worked well there.

The entire South was pretty easy, and so I looped through the centre relatively smoothly, not noticing the military trifecta, to finally allow FRIGGA to come from crosses, and voila.

Pretty good puzzle, theme or non theme.

Diana,LIW 2:51 PM  

Of course my Natick was the NW - no, don't know my Norse deities. And I got the rest of the puz!!! Drat-nab-it!!!

Anyway, I have to tell y'all. I went to a workshop on Personality Disorders this Wednesday. (The joys of keeping a counseling license - continuing ed credits!) As soon as I entered the hotel I started laughing. The signs pointing to the conference room being used led us to the workshop on "Personal Disorders." All dozen or signs, all over the hotel - personal. Naticks are my personal disorder.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for a Norse Goddess

leftcoast 3:07 PM  

Expected comeback from yesterday, but dnf'd in the North.

FRIGGA instead of ??, and tryst instead of FLING in the NW blocked me out there.

The NE wasn't very friendly either. SPUD is a "bubble and squeak ingredient"?? Could've fooled me -- and did. Also was sure that a "film about reincarnation" would be titled "Here AGAIN", not "DEAD AGAIN", but that it was.

The easier South and middle grid spanners did raise some unfulfilled expectations, but I'll LIVE AGAIN to try another day.

Mondegreen 1:10 AM  

"Advanced beginner!" As one who seldom comments because of some perceived insecurity, I really like that. Now I have an official rating!

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