Greeting that might follow fist bump / FRI 5-31-19 / Group of close friends in modern slang / Sister company of Peugeot / Chemical group with formula -OH / Singer Sharp with 1962 hit Mashed Potato Time / Sort of pricing model with multiple tiers / Uncle main role on Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Friday, May 31, 2019

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: No idea (solved on paper, in leisurely fashion; felt normal)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: FREEMIUM (17A: Sort of pricing model with multiple tiers) —
Freemium, a portmanteau of the words "free" and "premium", is a pricing strategy by which a product or service (typically a digital offering or an application such as software, media, games or web services) is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for additional features, services, or virtual (online) or physical (offline) goods. The business model has been in use by the software industry since the 1980s as a licensing scheme. A subset of this model used by the video game industry is called free-to-play. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a sold grid, but it's filled with things that just aren't that interesting to me. It's a super bro'y puzzle that looks and sounds like a dude who watches a lot of sports at his frat house and is totally gonna get a job on Wall Street as a financial ANALYST after graduation, FAM! Gotta get that lettuce (?), son! (see 57D). There's only one woman in all of the answers (and clues!) (DEEDEE), and she's obscure, and she's only there because she provides useful letters (18A: Singer Sharp with the 1962 hit "Mashed Potato Time"). I mean, there's one BROAD, but that hardly counts (see 44A). The cluing just felt off to me too, all over the place. "WHAT'S NEXT?" is a pretty weird thing for someone who is merely "anxious" to ask. That's someone in the middle of a catastrophe, or series of catastrophes. "I SEE" is a good fit for "Gotcha"—I SEE *IT* ... less so. Then there's M.A. DEGREE, which, first of all, doesn't signal the abbr. in the clue (boo), and second of all, is a redundancy. I mean, if you believe that M.A. doesn't need to be indicated by an abbr. signal in the clue because everyone knows what that is, then you also believe that every knows that what that is is a DEGREE, so why is DEGREE there? "I got my M.A." not (probably) "... my M.A. DEGREE." Bleh. Opening with guns at 1- and 9-Across (a metaphor, and then an actual murder) ... bang bang ... feels very This Puzzle (1A: Stick to one's guns / 9A: Mission for a Mafia member). I enjoyed seeing Uncle PHIL and the GOOD DOGGY. Didn't enjoy too much else. Again, this grid is well built. Just not at all for me.

Got SOFT G instantly (for once!) but (off that "T") thought 19A: ___ bar was TIKI ... my god was TEND a let-down. I'm fine being wrong, but then to have the right answer be that weak (as fill-in-the-blanks go), ugh. That was the only serious snag for me today. Definitely didn't know HYDROXYL, but was able to work through it without too much trouble (9D: Chemical group with the formula -OH). I forgot that TYMPANI was spelled with a "Y" so I freaked out briefly when I had TYM- to start that answer, but ... nope, that's how it's spelled, so all's well. BRO-HUG is pretty much the defining entry for this puzzle, in that it feels like the thing the puzzle is most proud of, and it's the very thing that makes me want out. Oh, wow, this article ("Get Over Here, Man: Decoding the Bro-Hug") (written by a woman!) totally gets me today: after rooting the BRO-HUG in the history of African-American resistance to white norms of social decorum, she goes on: "When you see twenty-something investment bankers using it to greet each other at a happy-hour spot, chances are they’re not using it to subvert an oppressive institution; more likely they’ve adopted the bro-hug for its social function." BRO-HUG to SAKE bomb to CFO—that's a career arc right there. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 5:33 AM  

Really easy until it wasn’t. That northeast almost did me in. Y SHAPE took forever to see even though Tracy Gray and I used it in a grid a couple of years ago.

First entry, a gimme, was SOFT G. Hi, Rex.

I agree that “MA degree sounds off. “Masters degree,” though, sounds fine.

I’m fine with WHATS NEXT for that anxious person question. I could see myself asking my dentist that. I could imagine a guy asking that to his proctologist (ANALYST?).

Loved learning FREEMIUM. The games I have on my phone are all freemium set-ups, and I have to endure &%$# ads to get hints on, say, Wordful. Can’t resist thinking of other portmanteaux:

teemium = green fees
streamium – 5 bucks a month for ad-free Pandora
weemium = requisite purchase at a public establishment so you’re allowed to use their bathroom*

ENDASH – once in a while I look at the differences between hyphens, ENDASHes, emdashes, and fully-mature dashes just to verify that I still don’t/can’t understand most of it and then carry on with my beloved dash.

*to add insult to the injury of having to work seven days beyond the kids’ last day, we’re now stuck in our cafeteria all day, sitting on the uncomfortable table/bench contraptions because our classroom floors are being waxed. And AND… we have no water, so we have to leave school to find a bathroom. The Kwik Stop right next door has an angry sign on the door No Public Restrooms (not even with a weemium) so I’ve been going with Matt W to his house to tinkle. You can’t make this stuff up. Hence. . .
. . .“Question from an anxious person” – How ‘bout Hey, Matt – you gonna go to your house soon?

Lewis 6:24 AM  

Started with small steps, which led to a growing staccato of bursts, then came leaps and bounds, ending with raised arms across the finish line. Started filling things in, in earnest, in the SW. But how does that happen, going from a near dearth of low-hanging fruit, to wham-bam-bam? After giving this some thought, I believe it comes from vague cluing, where you can't place an answer in because several answers fit the clue, but with a confirming letter or two, the answer to the clue becomes easy, and those answers beget more of same.

An amazing statistic today are those 14 double-E's! I don't remember anything near that many doubles of a single letter ever, and I (inexplicably and inexorably) follow double letters! There were also lovely clues for CFO and KNEE, and Sam has given us a spook (ENEMY SPY) and a dook (MADEGREE).

He sure gave me satisfaction today through the growing crescendo of the solve, and those little touches, and I'm exceedingly grateful, Mr. Sam.

puzzlehoarder 6:41 AM  

After a slow start (I thought 1D was HARDE) things got going in the NE with ELF and OPEL. Initially I put in USHAPE for the tuning fork but that and all subsequent mistakes we're easily overcome.

Back filling the NW I misread 17A's clue as "Piercing model with tiers" and momentarily tried to picture some sort of sci-fi cake.

In the SE I confidently put in UBERNERD until HOKEY and STEEP changed it to UBERGEEK. MA DEGREE was briefly MADE GLEE until I read the clue for FIREEATER. As always puzzles self correct.

The clue for CFO was so bad it was good. A fun solve in only slightly over average time due to the initial slow start.

BarbieBarbie 7:02 AM  

Got my ear worm for today: “and an awful lotta lettuce for the fella who can get us/ there [ if I only had a lousy little grand, I could be a millionAIRE!]”
Good ol’ reliable Sam made a pretty good puzzle. I enjoyed it.
I kept wondering how to fit “associate’s degree” into 61A. An MADEGREE, wow. Definitely off.

Comment count has been going down lately, while comments per unique commenter have been going up. Why?

kitshef 7:21 AM  

HYDROXYL crossing AMPERE? Fantastic. Also some very clever clues – for FIREEATERS, ENEMY SPY, SKEET.

Way too many phrases in the NW – OH REALLY, WHATS NEXT, ARENT WE ALL, NEEDS HELP, SAT HOME. But I’ll forgive that for the overall quality.

Found the NE easiest (Hi, @LMS) - with most of my struggle in the NW.

Nick D 7:26 AM  

Finished with below average time here. Can someone explain why SPIN is the answer for the clue “English”?

Carol 7:50 AM  

Shouldn’t 1D clue have ‘?’

mooretep 8:01 AM  

Tuning Forks are U-shaped.
Show me a Y-shaped tuning fork and I'll eat it.

We use them every year in our physics classes.
One of our better units as the students get to "hear" the science as opposed to usually "seeing" it.
(>90% of the information we receive is in waves!)
Our capstone to the subject is that the students build musical instruments and play a song on them.

Loren, re: your endoftheyear punishment for daring to request to be treated as a professional....
Not having access to bathroom facilities at a workplace is beyondthepale.

Maybe you and your colleagues could misbehave in an extravagant manner so as to get an Out of School Suspension?

webwinger 8:04 AM  

Oh joy! Do I get to be the first to note that JADE COAT = EMERALD COAT = Green Paint?

Generally had a good time with this one. Like the last two days a bit longer than average time. My Galahad today was I Am SUrE for I ASSUME at 41D. A wrong answer that seems so right and fits more than half the crosses-[ENDASH]-shouldn’t it have a have a name of its own, like Natick-[ENDASH]-maybe a PALADIN?

@LMS: Got not one but two LLOLs (literal LOL) from your post today: ANAL-YST proctologist, and weemium (with a hilarious follow-up). Sounds like you’ve advanced to one of the closer in circles of hell. Time to quit your day job and seek fame and fortune as a comedy writer in NY/LA, or maybe become an ERMA Bombeck for the 21st century?

Anonymous 8:10 AM  


Rug Crazy 8:15 AM  

19A sucked ..and I TEND BAR>
didn't like YShape, either

QuasiMojo 8:20 AM  

great post today Rex. couldn't agree more. I wanted Coast for 1D because I always fall for the Soft G misdirect. Dee Dee was my first fill-in. I used to have some of her albums. MA Degree was the weakest entry. Enemy Spy an Also-Ran. Sick of Uber as an adjective. And isnt Skeet a sport? Or is there a game version I am unaware of. Either way, I've played it. Poorly. Over way too fast.

GILL I. 8:22 AM  

My only Googs was for 38D. English = SPIN? Well it's English and I always need help in that department. But then we get to that area that I know a bunch about and that is the Pyrenees. I thought Spanish before French...mia was mine. ALAS... and it took me forever to correct it to AMOI.
I can't seem to ever get on Sam's wavelength. Know he likes being current and I like it too but things like FREEMIUM UBER GEEK and BRO HUG sometimes make me feel like a STOOGE (Moe, to be precise).
First entry = ELF (and that took a while). From there I was able to finish that little NE. Moved a bit down and got SKEET/KNEE. Memories of shooting with my Dad and Kaepernick (sp?). Went on to think that the clue for EEL was clever and said to myself that I've never said GOOD DOGGY. Ever. I leave the GY out.
Is it EmDASH? Was is AA DEGREE? Nope. Get up, walk around, take a breather, come back and make my corrections.
I did the HOKEY Pokey and I turned it all around.

Wm. C. 8:23 AM  

@NickD7:26 --

"English" is the "spin' that you put on a billiards ball.

Unknown 8:28 AM  


Nancy 8:31 AM  

A "keep the faith" puzzle for me, if ever I've done one. I couldn't get in in the NW at all, and told myself to just get in somewhere, anywhere, and eventually it would all work out. Then, when I finally got back to the NW, I got back wrong. I wanted ALBERT (not AMPERE) for the "A" in physics (Einstein, get it?) which led me right to TAMBARI (not TYMPANI) for part of a percussion ensemble. TAMBARI, the plural of "Hey Mr. TAMBOURINE Man"???? Don't ask.

TIFF before BEEF for the argument. ELL before CEO for the head of lettuce with a ?. (Too cute by half, Sam.) SOFT G fooled me completely. Those clues always do, and this one was really well-disguised. Best clue I've ever seen for THREE at 2D. That also fooled me. Loved the clue for ENEMY SPY.

FAT really stands for a group of close friends???? Will wonders never cease. FREEMIUM is another portmanteau I've never heard of. The list goes on.

I had a wonderful time "suffering" over this fiendishly difficult puzzle. Every gray cell was employed. Thanks, Sam.

Tim Aurthur 8:32 AM  

Treemium, offered by a landscaping company.
Briemium, at the cheese counter.
Creamium, at the coffee house.
Dreamium, extra time at the Freudian psychoanalyst's office.
Gheemium, at the Indian restaurant...

70 in Nampa 8:32 AM  

Nick D... think shooting pool. Putting english on the ball.

Speedweeder 8:36 AM  

Show me a tuning fork that's U-shaped and I'll show you one that's missing a handle.

I had U-shaped as well, until HYDROXYL forced me to change it.

RooMonster 8:39 AM  

Hey All !
Adding to @Lorens list:
Steamium - Excess prices at Starbucks. Har.

Got a big chuckle out of not just one, but two "Green Paint" clues. How apropos. The Green Paint Mystery on here is OK, but it seems to be missing parts or out of order. Maybe we need an editor/overseer to rearrange and/or fill in the twixt the story. Just sayin'.

Anyway, liked this puz. Like others, hung up a bit on MADEGREE. DOOKed it to MADE GREE. Maybe it's something our @M&A earned.

Had a few writeovers, 11D, all-THE, AMie-AMOr-AMOI (which if I did online today, would've given me my one-letter DNF, as I didn't SEE IT without a closer look at 10D), ProSe-POESY, ateHOME-eATHOME-SATHOME, tifF-BEEF, hitS-ACES, EBoN-EBAN.

Not too HOKEY. A nice themeless. Four F's. Many E's.


Runs with Scissors 8:43 AM  

I brought up the puzzle, and after the past week of winners was anticipating – and hoping for – more of the same.

Ever heard the old saw “careful what you wish for.”?

Headed for 1A and . . . nothing. Nada. Zilch. Same with 1D. So I tabbed over to 9A. I figured with the Mafia involved there had to be an offing of some kind, but it wasn’t coming to me. Tab some more.

Holy crap, all the way through the grid and I think my first square filled was the E at 22A ELF.

Total misdirection throughout. Loved the clue for 31A – “Shell Game” because I shoot SKEET. Couldn’t parse the shell portion at first, then did a facepalm.

Random thoughts:

Eardrums get their rightful notice at 8D – TYMPANI. Har.

I am no longer an UBERGEEK because Microsoft and Apple. I’d go Linux but the wife would SECEDE.

POESY is a strange word. Reminds me of my Poli Sci professor and his totally made-up “personalty” (not a typo, not personality) property. Not personal property, not real property. He never could explain what he meant by it. Have to give him credit, though; I shut him down a couple of times (respectfully but firmly, and with facts) and he still gave me the A I earned even though we were polar opposites.

I am an ANALYST by day. Budgets, contracts, public contract law, expenditures, trends, and funding source eligibility for a fairly large southern California municipality are my thing. I’ve always chuckled at the fact that ANALYST has anal as the root, because you kinda gotta be. I ain’t no accountant, though. Those people are twisted.

*** ON SOAPBOX As an aside, any time you hear a politician crow about restricting a fund source from paying for project administration, shoot them.

Any project, particularly a public project, has overhead, compliance, and administrative costs that you honestly don’t think about or know of. No, really, you don’t. Those costs don’t go away just because the State Water Board (an actual California agency; oh the delicious irony), says they won’t pay for them. Someone has to be, and be paid as, the project manager. Someone has to be, and be paid as, the construction manager. Someone has to enforce compliance with the ridiculous bidding and labor laws in public contracting. Someone has to audit it to death. All of this costs money, whether you like it or not. A lot of money.

It would cost a lot less if you simply looked at the costs and considered whether they are reasonable as a part of project delivery. Any time a public project goes over budget or runs into other problems, thank your legislature and local politicians. NASA’s $1,500 toilet seats? Those were due to the specifications being written as they were to comply with federal contract law. OFF SOAPBOX***

Took notice of FREEMIUM. I’ve always been sorta fond of made up words because, y’know, it’s English and we do a lot of that sort of thing. Anyone who clings to the French take on language NEEDS HELP.

The only GOOD DOGGY is one that isn’t in my house or on my lawn.

COACHK was a WTF moment.

Parsed 61A as MADE GREE for the longest. A two year educationalistic effort equals AA or AS, at least in my head.

I liked that AMPERE was spelled out, rather than getting abused as a piece of band equipment.

Slotting HYDROXYL into the puzz is genius. I ASSUME it wasn’t easy.

When was the last time you saw an OPEL in the wild? Betting it’s been a day or THREE.

The only real groaner – and I debated with myself on whether to mention it – was 24D OATY. One in the entire grid ain’t bad, methinks.

In closing, I will never know the difference between an ENDASH and an emdash. It’s probably just as well.

This was jam-packed with fun stuff. Put up a purty good struggle, too. Got it done, liked it. Probably more than someone else.

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

I was surprised that the cluer went for this nearly 70 year old Dee Dee when Dee Dee Oldfogie, the composer of the 1870s glockenspiel sheet music hit Fusty Clue was available. I'm glad the cluer ignored somewhat contemporary Dee Dee Myers.

Nancy 8:47 AM  

Oops. Just saw "POESY" on the blog. After all my work, I had a DNF. Here's what I had: FAT; TONS; POEMS and ALAM!!! Couldn't figure out how to get ALAS and went elsewhere. After which I forgot to Check My Grid. FAM is certainly better than FAT for the group of close friends. ALAS is certainly better than ALAM for...anything at all. GILA looks much more familiar for a river than GILO. But I must say that my TONS for bajillion is a lot better than MANY. A lot. Anyway, as I said a DNF. Sigh.

Carola 8:59 AM  

Pleasantly challenging for me, re-entering puzzleworld after some days away.
Didn't get me this time: SOFT G
Have had enough of: BRO-dom

@Loren - "weemium" LOL!

Sir Hillary 8:59 AM  

Took me awhile to get a foothold, but once I did, this felt Friday-normal. Not super sparkly, but enough to be interesting. IASSUME @Rex's BROADSIDE/HITJOB on the puzzle's supposed BRO-iness is largely tongue-in-cheek. If not, the poor guy NEEDSHELP.

-- SPRINKLE is better than SPIT.
-- Nice botanical misdirect clues for CFO and ENEMYSPY.
-- Liked seeing COACHK immediately above what he gives to the refs all game, every game.
-- For me, WHATSNEXT will always be President Bartlet's catchphrase when he's ready to move on.
-- I'm probably exhibiting an appalling lack of historical perspective, but was taking a KNEE in protest a thing before Kaepernick did it? Fists in the air, chants, sit-ins, marches, etc. come to mind immediately, but not KNEEling.

Well done Sam. Play it again soon.

mmorgan 9:04 AM  

I agree with @Rex but liked it a smidge more. Or at least it gave me a lot of pleasure to solve because I found it quite difficult. The bottom half got filled in very, very slowly, and that left left me with a completely blank top half, which took f..o..r..e..v..e..r.. to complete. I had a number of wrong answers that I assumed were right (e.g., sage for JADE, salt for KELP, among others) and taking them out finally led me on the path to glory. I didn’t care for TEND and BROHUG just sounds silly and STOOGE felt off to me and I have no idea who COACH K is or what HYDROXYL is, but it felt very nice indeed to finish this puzzle.

English major 9:11 AM  

Another game in which English refers to spin is table tennis, Will Shortz's favorite sport. Time to resurrect the standard conspiracy theory about sycophantic constructors sucking up to Shortz in order to get published?

Sir Hillary 9:11 AM  

Forgot to mention...another stellar avatar from @LMS. Loren, please clone yourself so someone can pinch-post on occasions when you can't. Much appreciated.

Seth Christenfeld 9:33 AM  

I mean, I would have clued WHATSNEXT as "West Wing Weekly slogan," but then even fewer people would get it.

Z 9:34 AM  

Really hard until it wasn’t. GILA/GOOD DOGGY got me started and then I solved clockwise through the puzzle. Only writeover was abDEGREE to MA DEGREE. Hand up for thinking that’s an ughly answer. “Masters Degree” like @LMS said or just “MA.” I also thought that THREE clue was too cute by half.

FREEMIUM may be a newer coinage, but it’s just a variation on a “loss leader” isn’t it? Now the thing is to sell apps with an ad-supported version and an ad-free version. Paying the $.99/month to get my weather radar without ads always feels a little like extortion. “Give us your lunch money or we’ll annoy the hell out of you.”

@speedweeder - You beat me to the Y-SHAPE tuning fork observation. My guess is @moorestep is focused on the U-ness of the tines, they’re never V-shaped, and totally forgot that you have to hold the thing somewhere other than the tines to make it work. I suppose someone could tell us which font to use to have a Y with more U-ness, maybe Comic Sans.

@Runs with Scissors - Yep. Everyone wants services but nobody wants to pay for them. I’ve been watching the roads fight in Michigan. 20 years of underfunding road maintenance and now everyone is screaming “Fix the Damn roads.” Oh, wait, we’ll have to pay taxes to fix the roads? Well, damn.

@LMS - Feels good to be treated as a professional, doesn’t it? I’m sure everything you learn will improve your practice in the fall. Har!

RooMonster 9:40 AM  

Hey @Nancy,
I just heard in he radio that Manhattan installed big yellow punching bags all over to vent your anger at instead of punching someone. Is that true? (And why aren't they Green?)


Amelia 9:45 AM  

Lovely puzzle. Took me a while to get going but I did in fits and starts, the way I like to.

Have nothing more to say because my fist is in my mouth so as to prevent any snide (guns! women!) comments about Rex.

Have a nice weekend! And remember, those of you looking for more serious fare. Today is the weekend New Yorker puzzle (not as hard as Monday's) and the WSJ contest, and tomorrow is the dastardly Saturday Stumper from Newsday. You don't have to subscribe to any of them iif you have a working printer. And I bet this crowd has a working printer.

Le Fou 9:46 AM  

Freemium et Ampere, une histoire d'amour.

jae 10:02 AM  

Bottom half easy, NW easy-medium, NE tough. I had AMIe instead of AMOI, tifF instead of BEEF, nilE instead of I needed to erase and walk away for a while, which worked.

Plenty of good stuff here, liked it.

Hartley70 10:08 AM  

I had a long, slow, swell time from the bottom up with this Friday beauty. The NE stopped me cold at the end until I remembered eighth grade school dances and DEEDEE. Then I could change limE to JADE and tifF to BEEF. Incredibly I got HYDROXYL first in that corner.

There were too MANY (but I prefer a bajillion) things I didn’t know right away because of misdirection or dumb ignorance. AMPERE and FREEMIUM being examples. ENEMYSPY was my favorite answer today.

I’m surprised LMS and her fellow WV teachers haven’t played hookey this week for the lack of “facilities”. That’s more dedication than most would have.

burtonkd 10:18 AM  

Great Friday, I think. Lots of blank space first pass that all fell neatly into place except the NE. Had spat and tiff before beef and Audi before opel. Not sure which kind of endashOXYL. Googled DEEDEE and all fell into place. TYMPANI is a legit but rare variant so kept TIMPANI for too long. Just submitted a bill for TIMPANI rental a couple of days ago used to play Mozart Requiem. You have to pay a player plus the cost of instrument rental, so to get those 20 notes in only half the movements, you pay double what it costs to get a violinist, who plays more notes in 10 measures than a timpanist plays in the whole piece. Still, Norman Del Mar writes that the timpanist is "king of his own province", and that "a good timpanist really does set the standard of the whole orchestra."

Never heard "lettuce" for money. Fun clue

Entering school ping pong tournament. 2 time reigning champ, Hi Will. Hopefully nobody figures out my serve with heavy ENGLISH.

Mo-T 10:22 AM  

I had a DNF because of the NE corner. I had "lime" for 12D and could not see the Emerald forest for the Jade trees. {And the color green and 51D's coat of paint was not lost on me either! Coincidence? Bwah ha-ha. I don't think so! ;<}

So that left me with "hitlo_" for Mr. Mafia's mission at 9A and I kept thinking "tiff" for 14D.

I hate when I can't get out of my head.

Yesterday's "The Green Paint Mystery" additions were terrific. Nancy @ 1:34, Gill I. @3:56, and Joe's @12:20AM stepping in (or on, if you like) For God's Sake Enough @4:29 to keep the mystery alive: Brava and Bravo.

JC66 10:28 AM  


How did you decide between Weemium & Peemium?

Joe Dipinto 10:36 AM  

@mooretep -- Google an image of a tuning fork, Y doncha? (U have to hold it somewhere.)

Unknown 10:46 AM  

Sathome? Ugh. Yshape? I don't think so. Hated this puzzle. PS most puzzles are way too brohug heavy...especially with sports questions. I REFUSE to become a sports fan, know nicknames for obscure university coaches, hold a litany of worshipped baseball heroes in my already overtaxed mind, etc.,in order to solve puzzles.

mmorgan 10:56 AM  

Meant to say: I worked in graduate programs for over 40 years, and in my experience, the phrase "MA Degree" was not at all uncommon.

Missy 10:58 AM  

Please help - 48D steep?

Sydney 11:01 AM  

I thought for sure I was going down in flames. But I didn’t. It was slow going, but ta-da! I finished it. Life is good.

Junief 11:17 AM  

Put a little spin on the ball. Get some English into it (I guess)

TIM PANI 11:18 AM  

@burtonkd: As a muso myself, I also kept TiMPANI for a long time. I haven't seen it spelled like that in a very long time. So long, in fact, I've come to believe that TYMPANY is spelled wrong. Even my spell check underlines it in red. Looking it up, I see where it is a more common spelling in everything else but music.

Also, apropos of nothing, I think it was the Vienna Philharmonic that had the string section try to get more pay than the rest of the orchestra because they played so many more notes. I don't think they got what they wanted. I don't work much with orchestras, but I've always been intrigued by the 3rd trumpet player in an orchestra. S/he can sit there for long stretches without doing anything, then they pick up their horn, play a few notes, and go back to sitting (usually reading a book during rehearsals). But the composer felt like those few notes were important...and someone has to cover there they sit, the lowly 3rd trumpet...getting paid as much as those violinists in the 3rd or 4th row sawing away at 16th notes for days.

On a different "note," I don't know which is worse BRO or "dude." Maybe they are just the most recent forms of "Mac," "Pal," "Bud," "Friend," "Man" or "Sir" (see also: "Sirrah"). "Good day, sir!" is now, "Hey, bro!" I'm sure, in the not so distant future, that too will be supplanted with a different form of endearment for a friend. It is interesting to me that dude is now almost genderless...bro seems (anecdotally as I've wandered around the planet) to still be specifically meant for the male gender.

Finally, the two=year degree I had at first was an AA. You don't get an MA in two's more like 6.

Harryp 11:20 AM  

I tried a rebus for cyBERGEEK at 58Across, but I ASSUME set me straight. Challenging puzzle on many levels. I had adroit for PLIANT, audi for OPEL, steeds for GETS ON, who is that for WHAT'S NEXT, and so on. All in All, a very enjoyable solve. This is a Friday puzzle no doubt.

Joe Dipinto 11:24 AM  

Glad to see Rex making primo use of his recently coined catchphrases "Things that just aren't that interesting to me" and "Bleh".

I so adore this puzzle that I would give it a bro-hug if I could. So many great answers: ubergeek, good doggy, enemy spy -- that's just in the southeast! Plus two shades of green! What's not to love?

I felt like the grid had cool "informational" fill -- things I might not have known but are interesting to learn (freemium • hydroxyl • sake bomb) -- mixed with snappy expressions ("Aren't we all?" • "What's next?") and just plain sparkle (needs help • broadside • sprinkle • y-shape • hokey • pliant). The almost universally in-use spelling for kettledrums is timpani, but I can forgive the variant.

An all-around gem of a Friday puzz, be it jade or emerald. Jeff Chen should give this the "Pow!" if he hasn't (I didn't check).

Thanks for kicking off a sunny Friday with this, Sam Ezersky. Think I'll go listen to Milhaud's Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit now.

GHarris 11:25 AM  

@Missy Something that takes a bite out of your wallet is costly or pricey, ie the price is “steep “

jberg 11:29 AM  

Somehow, a lot of the cluing felt just a little off to me. A BROADSIDE doesn't have to be verbal -- before that it was a printed sheet, and before that a volley from Horatio Hornblower's ship, with all the guns on one side firing at once. I ASSUME is the beginning of reasoning, not the result thereof; and while the TYPMANI are part of the percussion section, I can't imagine they're being part of a "percussion ensemble." ALSA, I'm way too fussy, I know.

I feel for the aA before MA misdirect, but that wasn't too hard to fix. And DEEDEE Sharp was OK, but COACHK? It's bad enough having to know the names of athletes without having to know who their coaches are. I'm sure he's popular with Duke fans, but what about the rest of us? I didn't even know Joe Paterno until he became a scandal.

@Loren, I see what you're up to there, but as usual I only recognized the cartoon characters -- no idea who the people in the photographs are. But of course if you labeled them that would make it too easy, so keep it up!

Hey, I just noticed! This puzzle begins and ends with STAND (first across answer, last down clue).

CDilly52 11:42 AM  

This was a stutter-step morning for me for sure! Could not get in the NW going across but bang, bang, bang, (to continue the Mafia theme of 2A) went SOFTG THREE and AREN’T WE ALL. Spent a hot second wondering if it was “don’tl or AREN’T, but STAND PAT solves that problem. Had much the same experience as many of you with stutters u-SHAPE thinking of the three tuning forks I actually own and the piece one taps is indeed a “U” but OK, it’s a sort of Y SHAPE. I have never seen an episode of “Fresh Prince” so that took a bit because I initially had “dined in” instead of SAT HOME which sounds awkward to me, but I have a friend from the east coast who uses that so eventually.....

Here’s what slowed me down: 26A “What do I do?” Seemed sooooooo right! Given my (to me-as she pats self on back) stunning success for a Friday in breezing through the NW, I believed in that as the very, very, VERY best answer. Hah, hubris will out. The whole center of the puzzle was a mess. It made me erase TYMPANI which (my hubs was a professional percussionist for god’s sake!) jacked up the part I had just finished!

Next, the 44D, 46 & 47A debacle: had Big HUG at 44D. Yes, my age is showing, and I simply could NOT figure out another word there. This made 46D have to start with “I” and the figure of the ENDASH being the clue for 47 made me say to self, “EUREKA! I have at last discovered the trick in this puzzle. You see, dear neighbors, My addled (this is my “vacation re-entry” week so that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it) brain thought the dash meant that 47 was a continuation of 46. Did I fall for that or WHAT!!

So, I get to the office, and am headed down what we lovingly call “intern alley” when two young law students literally fist bump. One yells “Hey Bro! Now you owe me on the Cards game!” Thank you, children!

No. 3 snag was that I “dined in” while others SAT HOME. But not for long.

What fun despite the stutters. Is a SPREEMIUM what happens when one shops after winning the lottery? A SCREAMIUM a young parent alone with the kids for a whole week? Happy weekend all!

Andrew 11:49 AM  

Got HYDROXYL immediately because, well, I love chemistry. FREEMIUM was another favorite.

But I struggled so much in that east center box with POSEY. That killed me. I knew it had to be ALAS going down, but FAM eluded me (not hip enough I guess) and I've never heard of GILA so I lost most of my time there.

A fun Friday puzzle either way!

nyc_lo 12:09 PM  

@LMS and others puzzling over en dash, em dash, and other dashedly differences: the names are derived from typesetting, where an EN dash is the width of a capital “N”; the wider EM dash is (you guessed it) a capital “M”; and a dash is just a plain ol’ hyphen. Em dashes are used to set a break in a sentence — like so. En dashes denote a series of things, the way “through” would: 1–9, A–Z, May 30–31, etc.; and hyphens for breaks within a word or hyphenated words, like Mr. Know-it-All. There, end of Graphic Design for Pedantics 101. 😁

Joe Dipinto 12:11 PM  

Almost forgot:

The total number of posts by @Z on a given day. :-)

Fred Romagnolo 12:11 PM  

Since I saw the arguments on both sides of the tuning fork squabble, I just left it blank 'til crosses would sort it out. Hands up for AA DEGREE. @jberg almost always seems to get things just right, we're probably near contemporaries. Weemium is a lot more discreet than peemium (IMO).

I like the ANALYST wordplay. 45D a great clue. Pyrenees always means French or Spanish (with a hint of Andorran). Good Friday puzzle.

Carola 12:23 PM  

@chefwen from yesterday - Just did yesterday's puzzle and read comments. I did love that salute to the yellow foam wedges and their wearers :)

Newboy 12:27 PM  

Perfect Friday for me. Recalling DEEDEE was high point; SOFTG got me again for the 37th time. Hope others enjoyed as well, so I’m off to read previous posts for even more delight.

Missy 12:32 PM  

@GHarris Thank you, I wasn't looking for an adjective. Thought it was a steep as in mountain, hill, climb,etc.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

My 96 yr old Mom says, "this whole puzzle SUCKS!". We do it together on my iPad. Needless to say, she didn't care for this one today.

Joe Dipinto 12:47 PM  

@RooMonster -- yes a design company did install punching bags throughout Manhattan. Doesn't have a list of locations though -- aargh, that makes me want to beat someone up.

Newboy 12:56 PM  

Thanks all. I’m as awed as @Sir Hillary at @LMS avatar that puzzles as much as Sam’s grid: DEE DEE inDEEdy! How does she do it?

@mericans in Paris 1:11 PM  

Hi all. I'm back from two weeks in north Central Florida, where I was senior sitting my father-in-law. The local paper carried the NYT puzzle, but of course in syndicated version. Meanwhile, Mrs. 'mericans had the iPad, back in France, so I had to content myself with some other x-word puzzles.

This puzzle took Mrs. 'mericans and I longer than have recent Friday puzzles. The hardest parts for us were the NE and SE. Like @Nancy we had tifF before BEEF, and like some others aA DEGREE before MA. I kept entering and then taking out BRO before HUG until Mrs. 'mericans confirmed it with BROADSIDE. FAM was totally new to both of us. WHAT'S NEXT?

I looked side-eye at the association of KELP and EEL. The European EEL spends part of its life in the Sargasso Sea, living among the Sargassum, a kind of brown algae. Does that make it a kind of KELP? If not, is there a different species of EEL that lives among KELP? Curious minds would like to know!

Finally, thinking of @Rex's observations on 1A and 9A, it does seem, based on personal experience, as if American English uses a lot more expressions that involve guns than do Australian, British, or Kiwi versions of English. (Don't know for sure in the case of Canadian English.) Just saying'. I have some other observations about guns that I'll hold off on until the weekend.

Masked and Anonymous 1:18 PM  

M&A has got the DEEDEE Sharp 45rpm record in question. "She's only there because she provides useful letters". Well, yep … almost everything in the puz kinda has to do that, I'da thought.

Wanted TIMPANI before TYMPANI. fave fill: GOODDOGGY [M&e and @RP can agree on that.] Didn't quite get the THREE clue, during the solvequest -- 2 + 1: duh. That, plus FREEMIUM, lost m&e valuable nano-seconds, in the NW.

Got me one of them M&A DEGREEs … took only a summer and a regular school year, to get one in math. We hadta sorta hurry it up, becuz Uncle Sam was nippin at our asses, to take an all-expenses-paid tour of Viet Nam. They only gave U one regular upper degree year, before they came and grabbed U. Weird times. Altho, coulda been worse (yo, @Trump).

staff weeject pick: CFO. Cool {Head of lettuce?} clue.

Has anyone done CREAMIUM yet? Probably have, and I musta read past it. EXTREMIUM? TREEMIUM? FLEAMIUM? Anyhoo … Hard to beat (WEE)WEEMIUM.
Maybe WEEJECTIUM … ? Didn't think so.

Thanx for the barrel of primo fun fillins, Mr. Sam E-Z. themelessthUmbsUp.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Teedmn 1:35 PM  

DAM, this was hard for me today. And the NW literally put a stop to my solve - I had everything filled in except 1D and 2D and had to get up to get my lunch. As I walked to the fridge, I said "Algeria and Egypt" to myself once, heard the SOFT G and came back to my desk to fill those last two in. 2D, 2+1 = three, duh.

I first made an unholy mess in the NE by throwing in "alcohols" as the chemical group with an -OH and was proud of the tiny scrap of knowledge left from my college days. Not so proud after I crossed out alcohols plus the tifF I had from ELF. It was only once I came back up from the south that HYRDROXYL filled in and the NE fell.

UBERnerd, gack! EBoN, sigh. NEED a hand. Hits for bombs' opposites. And why does COACH K always surprise me when it arrives?

Sam Ezersky is great at constructing tough puzzles and I appreciate today's effort. Not HOKEY in the least.

Totally not related to this puzzle: Commenters on this blog have noted in the past that no one ever says EEK when confronted with a mouse or any other startlement. This morning, head down into the wind on my bike, looking down at the pavement, I had barely enough time to note a dead deer in my path in order to go around it and I heard myself squeal, "Eeks" as I dodged the poor thing. Not yikes, almost eek. So maybe there's an argument for EEK to be in a grid.

JC66 1:37 PM  

If you don't follow sports, it's OK not to know who COACH K is, but Mike Krzyzewski isn't just "any" college basketball coach. He's either the # 1 or # 2 all time (John Wooden).

Hungry Mother 1:54 PM  

Harder half solved in Youngstown, OH this morning; easier half solved in Ann Arbor, MI this afternoon. Faster than usual overall. Last time in Ann Arbor, Applalachian State had its way. This time it’s for the half marathon on Sunday.

Hungry Mother 2:05 PM  

I always say MA as distinguished from MS, MBA, or MFA. Same with BA. Too much time in academe?

Joe Dipinto 2:22 PM  

@JC66 -- I recall an NYT puzzle from a number of years back that managed to include KRZYZEWSKI as an answer in the grid. Now *that* was impressive.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  


Try Herb Magee.

Crimson Devil 3:49 PM  

Re Joe D and Coach K: a puz including ‘Merica’s coach’s name spelled out would’ve been a construction feat extraordinaire !!

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

I just couldn't parse ALSO RANS - was thinking there must be a place called Alsoras and they were Alsorans.

albatross shell 5:10 PM  

Agree with your basic principle about refusing to learn nicknames of college basketball coaches, but you might like to know that 1.Coach K is the least obscure basketball coach in the nation this year since his team had the star player who was basketball this year. And 2. His nickname is better known than his real name that no one can spell.

In NW tried THREE NEEDaHand PLIANT right off, no crosses, and then had to move to NE: JADE ELF HITJOB BEEF DEEDEE THE YSHAPE HYDRXoL ISEEIT all tumbled into place. To the SE: FIRESTARTER with no crosses, OTTO HOKEY. And then slow slog, movement in fits and starts and fits. Way too long to get: FUL of EAR, SPIN, SKEET, STANDPAT, KNEE, KELP. Fun to get: ENEMYSPY, GOODDOGGY, SPRINKLE (drizzle mist, spritz, spray and even dribble. Anything but spit), BROADSIDE, EMERALD, STOOGE.

I actually like Rex's writeup today. I found more good and amusing in the puzzle than he did, but I feel his assessment of the tone of the puzzle was on the mark without being critical about it. I disagree with him about gotcha, which I think can mean ISEEIT without exactly meaning I agree with you.

Runs with Scissors 5:59 PM  

@Z 9:34 AM

My rant actually had nothing to do with people in general not wanting to pay the taxes to do the repairs. Here in CA they're more than willing to vote in bond after bond after bond after bond...California must have the most gullible population in existence. Unfortunately those bonds never have anything to do with infrastructure.

My point was that the funds are sold as not wasteful because "no administrative costs will be allowed and will have strict audits." Which only increases the cost with no better outcomes since those "administrative" requirements are mandated by code and don't disappear, and the audit requirements take enormous amounts of staff time to comply.

Z 6:08 PM  

@Joe DiPinto - More Zmium is truly dreamium. 😎

@‘mericans - The new rule is any gun discussion has to be part of a Font or Obscure Musical Key discussion.

@BarbieBarbie asked (yesterday?) about the lower comment counts. I remember when breaking 100 comments, even with the syndicated solvers, was a rarity and usually only happened when the puzzle was markedly better or worse or trickier than the norm. I think the days of regularly getting 100+ comments were driven mostly by trolls and anonymice. I find myself skipping far less crapola now that the mods pre-delete the trollery.

Birchbark 6:53 PM  

SEEMEMIUM -- the emotional cost of a poor test score.

Moved through most of this smoothly, enjoyed some interesting words, a medium-easy paddle down the alphabet river. Then spent as much time in the southwest as I had on the rest of the puzzle, trying to get some confident purchase beyond the KLE of SPRINKLE. STOOGE finally winnowed multiple possibilities into the right answers, and all is true.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

How about Deedee Ramone instead of Dee Dee Sharp. Yet another annoying puzzle. How is stand pat the same as stick to one's guns. You stand pat in a game of blackjack. Sticking to your guns is something else.
I totally agree with Rex. This puzzle is all over the place, like Will Shortz's editing.

Nathan 7:08 PM  

There are well-heeled shooters everywhere,
And awful lot of lettuce for the fella who can get us there,
If we only had a lousy little grand we could be a millionaire.

Uke Xensen 7:52 PM  

The clue (print version) for en dash was not an en dash but a hyphen, which is just wrong.

As a print object a broadside is not necessarily an attack. Poems are often produced as broadsides.

Jade is not really a color -- most Jade (nephrite) is not deep green like jadeite.

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

I'm sorry this puzzle was so filled with bro-ness and guns and too much bang-bang for Rex. Next puzzle should feature laces and cooking references and helping boys settle down and play nice.

Joe Dipinto 8:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Dipinto 9:25 PM  

@Uke Xensen -- I have the print version; it's an en dash. Compare it with the hyphen in Bel-Air in 40a or tech-savvy in 58a -- it's bigger.

(Reposted in its correct location now -- I hope)

albatross shell 9:40 PM  

In a negotiation, isn't sticking to your guns and standing pat the same?

Runs with Scissors 10:10 PM  

@albatross shell 9:40 PM

"In a negotiation, isn't sticking to your guns and standing pat the same?"

Yes, unless you're on a crossword blog. Then it's a nit that must be sliced, diced, mutilated and embalmed.

newspaperguy 10:20 PM  

This is a red letter day. More references to LMS than to Rex. Time to cut out the middle person, Loren. Better we don’t risk exposure to the grump when we come looking for the true star of the show.

SBpianist 11:31 PM  

Love “weemium.”

Tom R 11:42 PM  

MA Degree bugs me. MA is Master of Arts, but why is it a two year program? Most MAs are awarded along the way to a PhD. Instead, a better answer to the question would be AB Degree, as in what is awarded after a two year Junior College curriculum.

Whatsername 11:52 AM  

@newspaperguy is onto something. An LMS blog. Great idea!

spacecraft 10:39 AM  

The DOD-mium? Why, DEEDEE-mium, of course! Argh, enough. I was looking forward to a Rex-time so I could brag about finishing this in THREE or four of 'em, but today of all days he didn't time himself. Go figure. WHATSNEXT? Me timing Myself? Nah. I just happened to notice. Half an hour. For a Friday, that's "speedium." A MOI.

Vexing was all the letter add-ons. COACHK I actually don't mind; the man's an institution, and that's how he's widely known. YSHAPE: now we're heading down a slippery slope. We'll have to create a new category, I guess: the RLS (random letter-shape). Please, no. Then there's MADEGREE, picking up speed on that slope. Pretty bad, and green paint at that. But the HITJOB at the slope's end is SOFTG. How to categorize this? RLP (random letter pronunciation), which includes HARD-, SOFT- and SILENT. Stop stop stop! DAM it up!

Still, despite these annoyances (only SOFTG held me up for a bit at the outset), I enjoyed this one. You work HYDROXYL into a puzzle, you've done something. That was a gimme, and my way in. Had the NE in, like, sub-five minutes. TYMPANI always makes me think of Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," with suspense building to a crescendo using them.

I'd like to score this a birdie, but 1-down? Can't do it. Par.

5wksltr 12:14 PM  

TIKI bar and AVOCADO green, because what else could they be, and I was...doomed. Loved the clue for three. Good hard puzzle.

Burma Shave 1:21 PM  


ALAS, I TEND to SEEIT with grief.
Any STOOGE would say, "OHREALLY,
just ONESEC, where's THE BEEF?"


rainforest 3:25 PM  

Pretty sure I saw DEE DEE SHARP on American Bandstand one time. DOD? OK by me.

Thee puzzle was quite engaging once I found a toe-hold down in the SW and then moved relatively swiftly upward. Had I seen the clue for HYDROXYL sooner, I might have started there and finished even faster. C'est la vie. I don't time myself anyway.

I can imagine someone saying "I have an MA DEGREE" just as easily as "I have an MA", personally I say "I have an MSc", but adding DEGREE onto that is no biggie.

This is a well-crafted puzzle, but I do wonder why there seems to be an increasing number of conversational/slang entries in the puzzles of late. I can't decide whether this is a good or bad thing. Regardless, I liked it.

leftcoast 4:10 PM  

Friday easy + Friday tough = Friday medium. Clue #2 + 1 = THREE; resisted that way-too-obvious-for-Friday gimme. Clue #47, - , translated to ENDASH with crosses. So much for the odd numbers and figures.

Tough part was the NE corner. Wanted tiff to go with ELF, but BEEF worked a lot better to get HITJOB, YSHAPE, and DEEDEE. HYDROXYL, vaguely known, showed up to completed the corner.

My only BEEF is the use of ALSORAN to describe presidential nominees Humphrey and Dewey. They were top-of-the-slate, well-known candidates, after all, not merely a couple of down-the-line obscurities. ALSORAN is just plain wrong.

Otherwise, liked the puzzle and enjoyed the solve.

Diana,LIW 5:00 PM  

After gladly penciling in GUEST for !-down (nah, it couldn't be THREE!), my NW was perpetually blank.

The rest got done, and then I went back. Worked around my guest, and finished up. Surprised. Now I am a GOODDOGGY.

Diana, LIW

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