Physician on TV's Celebrity Rehab / FRI 6-28-19 / Actress Doborev of Vampire Diaries / Ohio town that was first permanent settlement in state / Eyes slangily / Briskly to equestrians

Friday, June 28, 2019

Constructor: Bruce Haight and David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (more Medium) (6:33)

THEME: ugh don't make me say it — black squares are supposed to be birds or bats or some implausible &^$%

Theme answers:
  • SPREAD ONE'S WINGS (17A: Become independent ... ... as suggested visually by some of this grid's black squares)
  • BATS IN THE BELFRY (57A: Mental eccentricity ... as suggested visually by some of this grid's black squares)
Word of the Day: ELROND (30A: Lord of Rivendell in "The Lord of the Rings") —
Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. [...] In The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, Elrond is portrayed by Hugo Weaving.
• • •

It's a 'no' from me. Hard no. Those aren't birds or bats. They're just black squares. Astonishing that you'd hang a half-assed theme on such an unremarkable feature of the grid. Especially astonishing that you would allow one of only two themers to contain "ONE'S," which is like a parody of forced 15-letter answers, echoing ALOTONONESPLATE (which is the paradigmatic bad 15). Themed Fridays are ruined Fridays, and this one was especially ruined because its premise is weak and thin *and* there's nothing remotely interesting in the rest of the grid to make up for the weak thinness. Buncha biggish corners with lots of crossing 7s that yield little in the way of interesting. ISINFOR is horrid. ATATROT is horrid. Almost everything else is dull or obscure or both. ELROND is hilariously inconsequential—it's a debut today For A Reason ('cause it's bad and no one cares) (also I just find Tolkien ponderous and dull and the movies way way way way moreso). Had no idea there was a MARIETTA that was not in Georgia. But my ignorances aside, this simply isn't good in anyway. The "whimsy" on display in the "theme" is underwhelming, and none of the fill sizzles. LILLE? Blecch. I do like the words LISSOME and ANODYNE. That is the extent of positive things I have to say about this one. Oh, and the clue on NAMETAG is not bad (39D: Face-saving aid at a reunion).

Is "The Vampire Diaries" still a thing? Do people know actor names from that show?? NINA was entirely crosses. NINA notwithstanding, LEW Wallace and OPIE are conspire to give this puzzle a pretty olde-timey feel, as does the clue on LEFT JAB (1A: The "one" in "the old one-two," maybe). I'm looking around the grid that any answer that anyone could plausibly claim to like. CARLOAN!? EMANATE? ESSENCE? It's not that any of these (or their neighbors) is so bad, it's just that ... you want to build your late-week grid around good fill, not adequate filler. This puzzle has opted to build itself around a two-answer "theme" and three "M"s flying across the grid. Literally nothing about this grid's black squares "suggests" BELFRY, so they couldn't even get the clues right. Continues to bum me out that loyalist white guys get published at such a high rate while women I know have their puzzles routinely rejected because they just didn't "tickle" him (by "they" I mean the puzzles, of course ... man, I hope that was clear). Oh, props to the clue on SENECA, though (47D: ___ Falls Convention (early women's rights gathering))—the one moment during the solve where I was like "oh, cool."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

Easy. Put in LEFT JAB and just kept going. Toughest corner was SE.

Dope before DIRT was my only erasure.

Reasonably smooth with a fun mini theme, so I liked it quite a bit more than @Rex did.

Runs with Scissors 12:33 AM  

So, I liked this way more than OFL. The bats resembled B-2s, as they should. How anyone could not enjoy this puzzle is beyond me. To each their own.

I noted that Deb Amlen had difficulty with the 1A clue/answer. It's pretty simple: Left Jab/Right Hook. That's standard.

This puzzle fell quickly, particularly for a Friday, but I still had a good time with it. But then, my bar is pretty low and I don't demand much. It boils down to: Did I have to think? Yes? Good.

LISSOME is a fun word. I can't watch ballet - all that jumping and twisting doesn't really tell story, unfortunately - but I get it. You have to be in shape - and then some - to do that.

17A is personal - my daugher is in her summer class heading into her senior year in college. I hope I've done my duty and taught her to head out on her own. Her car payment and insurance is killing me.

So the "bats" headed northeast in the grid put me in mind of the B-2 flyover at the Rose Parade. Color me militant if that pleases you.

This was fun. I would appreciate more of same.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

kaoconno 12:42 AM  

Glad to know someone else finds Tolkien tedious.

But don’t knock Lille! It’s a great city - I live just outside.

puzzlehoarder 1:17 AM  

This should have been an easy Friday but a couple of mistakes tacked on a couple more minutes to make it average for me. The mistakes came at the start and the finish.

In the NW I was so set on 1D being LITHESOME that I even wrote in a "THE" rebus at the first square of 17A. I didn't fix that until I had enough of that grid spanner to recognize the phrase.

Finishing in the SW I had a LILSE/LILLE write over. For I moment I thought 61A would be CARSEAT and that ANODYNE might be wrong. Putting in the remaining two downs in that corner cleared things up. As for LILSE my dyslexic brain saw it as LISLE so I thought I had place name and went with it. Just another self generated speed bump.

A fun puzzle and at least in the late week range too.

a.corn 1:20 AM  

Mark, respectfully, I hated this puzzle. And, somewhat related, I love ballet. Good thing the universe gave us different flavors of ice cream! ✌️

Ellen S 1:42 AM  

Hey, @kaoconno, I also find Tolkien tedious. Maybe if enough of us speak up...

I also found the crossing of ELROND and DRDREW rather naticky. Am I supposed to have ever watched Celebrity Rehab? Is that a show? I had just escaped from my brother trying to make me listen to “Baby Shark” over the phone. He’s 81. But aside from ELROND/DR DREW, I found the puzzle not as horrid as Rex but somehow, I didn’t feel like it’s stretching my brain. So I can stay mentally agile enough to diss my brother. LISSOME. (Hahaha)

Harryp 1:49 AM  

I still haven't figured out the theme, but the puzzle was Super Easy for a Friday. I guess I was in their wheelhouse. Good puzzle with fill I enjoyed.

Anonymous 2:24 AM  

Lille, France, is (probably) the largest one-syllable city in a one-syllable country. Fun fact!

SPREAD YOUR WINGS would have been better.

Yesterday he decided to GO PRO, so today we say he WENT PRO.

-- Okanaganer

Loren Muse Smith 3:06 AM  

Rex – those black squares absolutely look like birds flying. I would have seen it and made the connection without the clues’ help. In fact, that’s my only nit – it might have been more satisfying to get there without explicitly being told.

This is a good puzzle that was not accepted just because the constructors are men. Seriously? I actually thought the sexist plaint would be the “chivalrous” ALLOW ME. I don’t really lie in wait for ways to feel insulted by something perceived as sexist, but I did notice this one because, mystifyingly, I can open a pickle jar in a room full of men who can’t. Any jar. And I use my left hand. It’s the weirdest thing.

@kaoconno – And I live right outside of MARIETTA, Ohio. Hah. Ok, it’s about 40 minutes away, but still. Once when my kids were home from college, they went to MARIETTA for New Year’s Eve and had a blast.

I did not know the word ANODYNE, but I do now and will add it to the rotation. Seems it’s Greek for “without pain.” What a weird-looking adjective.

@Okanaganer – I totally agree on SPREAD YOUR WINGS being better. Can we just all agree to lose this ridiculous formal ONE and accept you? ONE sounds so fussy nowadays. One can’t always get what one wants, though…

@Runs – I know, right? It’s so scary when the kids finish college… will they land on their feet or will they live in our basement? After my son graduated, he moved home to our farm and threw himself into landing a job online – you know, submitting cover letters, resumes, transcripts blah blah. Even with an engineering degree, he barely got any nibbles. One morning he said, Screw this. I’m gonna take the Greyhound to Raleigh and get a damn job. I’ll stay with Nana. I felt so guilty that we couldn’t afford to buy him a car, couldn’t “hook him up” with any powerful people. But he bused it to Raleigh. He and my mother-in-law came up with a game plan, and she drove him from engineering firm to engineering firm, waited in the parking lot while he made cold calls. He landed a job the first day and now makes twice what I make. And I’ll remind you all that he was a bed-wetter.

I loved the clues for CAR LOAN and LIMO.

And the clue for NAME TAG was double good: It “saves face” so you don’t have to let on that you don’t remember the person, but it also “saves face” if it includes your high school picture. I have my 40th coming up (if we even have one), and I’m wondering if it’ll be the real-time equivalent of Facebook. Everyone will run around acting like their life is all peachy keen. I know I will. My job? Love it! (I’m underpaid, exhausted all the time, and consumed with guilt that I’m a failure.) My mom? She’s great! (She has macular degeneration and is rapidly losing her eyesight and is scared.) My husband? He’s great! (He thinks he is a linguistics expert when he’s not and a grill expert when he’s not and looks at his phone when I’m talking so I shut down or play a little passive aggressive game.) My kids? They’re great! (This is actually true.)

Bruce, David – I’m with those who like the puzzle. My avatar, “I believe I can fly,” is a 15. Did y’all consider that one at all?

Here’s another song I’ve been listening to that is relevant today. Notice that Harold Reid (bass) pretty much sported a mullet and Magnum PI mustache before they were invented.

chefwen 3:07 AM  

I thought I was going to be in for a tough workout when I saw the constructors, but this fell into the easy side of medium for us. Puzzle partner helped me out with LEW at 10D and ELROND at 30A. It’s amazing how a few letters added to what you already have can throw things wide open.

I couldn’t get the idea of some type of cushion at 61A. When I was learning how to drive, eons ago, I had to sit on a cushion to help me see over the steering wheel, that’s how short I am, well every time I took a corner I’d slide off the damn thing so I was forced into using my seatbelt, that was before it was mandatory. Good habit to get into.

Puzzle partner and I arrived at my in-laws cottage one weekend many moons ago for a little family reunion, we were the first to arrive and found that it had been invaded by a colony of bats. They were everywhere, in the bedding, hanging from the ceiling, gripping the curtains, EVERYWHERE. They were dormant until it started getting dark, then all hell broke out. We booked the closest motel and called the exterminators. My skin was crawling for days. AAARG! Exterminators said they probably came down the chimney during a thunderstorm.

Harryp 3:59 AM  

@chefwen3:07am, I think you can see in irony in wherever you had your family reunion and the bat situation in our Hawaii nei. Over here, those huge wind turbines are barred from killing more than a few bats a year, whereas you could exterminate a whole colony over there. Personally, I side with the bats.

Solverinserbia 4:16 AM  

DNF because I had fREeMAP for AREAMAP. That gave me flEW for ANEW which didn't seem right but almost plausible. Class flew by today and now it's over. Also gave me ELROlD for ELROND but that was no help.

Slightly worse was that I had SNEeD for SNEAD and that gave me PeSTA, but I wasn't thinking of bowtie PASTA so I figured I just didn't know enough men's fashion. Since I only have one golden Friday, I'm not too upset.

Jeff 5:27 AM  

Is Nantes one syllable?

chefwen 5:33 AM  

@Harryp, this was in the upper peninsula of Michigan where Mosquitoes are considered the state bird so bats are considered a good thing, but living with a hundred of them in a two bedroom cottage is not too desirable. Our choices were limited.

webwinger 5:41 AM  

I liked this one OK. Not surprised that @Rex did not, or that he blamed his dissatisfaction on its white male provenance. Got off to a slow start, but finished quickly for a somewhat better than average time. The “theme” came across as quite secondary, maybe a discovery after the fact.

ANODYNE is a word I seem to stumble upon with regularity, and always manage to forget what it means. Feckless is another one like that for me.

Wonder how a puzzle comes to be from a duo like today’s, whose partners regularly churn out solo work?

Also, how is AMA related to Q&A? Have to admit I have zero personal familiarity with Reddit.

Recently had to deal with a bat issue while trying to get my wife’s home in northwest Indiana sold. A group of them were apparently using the eave over the front entry as a rest area during their nightly forages. There was no trace of the critters themselves during the day, but every morning found a fresh deposit of guano on the porch—not exactly a selling point for the house. We learned from the state wildlife bureau that bats are not considered pests, and cannot legally be exterminated. Because they weren’t actually living there, the usual benign means of making them decide to move out failed to work. What finally did work was, winter came and we found a buyer while they were hibernating…

BOOKIE elicited a bittersweet memory of my college roommate Mike, who mistakenly called me that instead of our long-time mutual handle Roomie when he was descending into the abyss of dementia.

I grew up in Ohio and toured MARIETTA on a family vacation trip planned around historic sites in the state. When I later mentioned that to an acquaintance whose home was there, he was totally incredulous that anyone would consider it a destination worthy of visiting.

@Runs and @LMS: My daughter graduated this past January, moved into our new home in Colorado (with a room planned around her, but in hope she wouldn’t be using it much), and proceeded to do nothing but binge watch TV for two months, while reassuring me that this was just a temporary situation while she “rested up” from the strain of college. Fortunately she kept her word about finding a job in the spring, and now seems to be on track for a satisfying career in hospitality and tourism management. At this point I’m tickled that I have the opportunity to watch her SPREAD her WINGS!

Suzie Q 6:12 AM  

Rex says whimsy like it's a bad thing.

Those aren't birds or bats. They're Rex and his squadron of stealth bombers aiming at destroying our Friday fun. Too bad. It didn't happen. In fact I was amused at his ranting attempt.

The clue for waist was fun. Learned a new word: anodyne.

I love the bat stories. But then I really am fascinated with bats. They are so underappreciated.

Carola 6:13 AM  

I'll echo @chefwen and @jae: I quailed at the constructors' byline but then wrote in LEFT JAB and just kept going, with only the ELROND and DR DREW cross turning it briefly into a "medium." I found the theme a big help in making the solve go fast, as well as having EONS' worth of crosswords in my back pocket and thus auto-write-ins of LEFT JAB, AREA MAP, DINAR, LEO, ICEE, OPS, RAN LATE, OPIE, ANEW....lots of crossword retreads for a Friday, I thought. I also remembered learning ANODYNE from a previous puzzle but with a different definition ("pain reliever," October 2014). Dear Memory, why were you able to retain this word, seen once, when I've looked up "atavistic" and "inchoate" a million times and you can't seem to find a place to store them?

Jofried 6:14 AM  

I liked this puzzle, and I’ve enjoyed all the stories about bats! And my daughter just finished her junior year of college so it’s good to hear so many stories of recent grads finding jobs. She’s home for the summer and working in NYC (we live in NJ not far from the city), driving me a little nuts but I figure this is her last time living at home so I should enjoy it, blah blah blah.

Also...I LOVE the Lord of the Rings trilogy and dropped ELROND in without a moments hesitation.

Lewis 6:29 AM  

A couple of constructing pros paired for a treat -- I loved this puzzle. When I saw who made it, I knew it would be a trove of entertaining word-playing clues, and it was. Those that made me smile were those for: FURRIER, AP EXAMS, MENSWEAR, RAMP, PASTA, REGATTA, CAR LOAN, and LIMO. The clue at 46A about the body parts -- had to be Steinberg's. He loves to clue words via their eccentricities.

My first thought was, "What a gorgeous looking grid!" And I love the backward DENIM to echo the JEAN jacket.

Truly a treat, and one that felt good to conquer. This was a pleasurable B&D session. Please, please, gents, encores!

JJ 6:45 AM  

I immediately saw the bats! One more blackened box would make a B2.
I could honestly care less about the age, sex, nor race of the constructors. The puzzles, I assume, are accepted because they impress the editor. I find it hard to believe that a puzzle is rejected because the author is female, or that a bad puzzle is accepted because of the constructors sex or race. Please.
I think the age difference makes for diversified cluing from 2 different generations. I was slowed down because I had SPREAD YOUR WINGS.
I have 5 wonderful kids who never cease to amaze me. They have all spread their wings and flourished.
Some of the saddest days in my life were when we dropped them off at college and drove away. You're remembering Kindergarten, and hoping they'll do all the right things, and you know you'll just miss their daily presence. It's nice to be on the other side of all that, but I feel for those of you who are just sending them off.

OffTheGrid 7:03 AM  

I am still searching for my ESSENCE mate.

Lots of interest in bats today, ENJOY THIS

QuasiMojo 7:14 AM  

I would have enjoyed this more if my NYTX app hadn't forced me to come up with a name for my online account so I could be added to the "leaderboard" whatever that is. Something to do with the Mini I think. Which I never do. I could not close out the page and finally deleted the app. Don't the geniuses who design these "improvements" ever try them out first?

Oh and the puzzle today?

Too much guano.

Norm 7:25 AM  

This was fun, Just treated it like a themeless and figured the squares thing would make sense eventually. Didn't detract from my pleasure one bit. Started with LEFT JAB. Took it out because it led nowhere. Nothing made sense until AREA MAP and POETS corner, and I wheeled around through the puzzle and up back at ... LEFT JAB, and had to laugh at myself.

kitshef 7:31 AM  

I grew up with the British version of Clue, called Cluedo, and it was Reverend GREEN, not MR GREEN. The “lead pipe” in that game was an actual miniature pipe made of lead. This is a wild guess on my part, but I suspect they don’t put small items made of lead in kids’ games any more.

The inclusion of the accent in the clue made me think for once we would need the tilde over the ‘N’ in ESPANOL, but it was not to be.

Mostly easy, except for the middle where DR DREW is an utter WoE, ELROND was a vaguely familiar guess, PEel was my salon offering, and I didn’t know MARIETTA – I think the only place I know of by that name is in Georgia.

I SIN FOR dooked me.

Cassieopia 7:42 AM  

Saw the constructors' names and my heart quailed, but then the NE corner practically filled itself in, to the point that I hardly needed any crosses. In the end, this was almost a record-breaking Friday for me, much easier and faster (by 10 minutes!) than my struggles with CC's truly excellent Wednesday puzzle, which gave me fits in the south with her diabolical clueing.

The SE corner slowed me a bit, remaining blank except for the bats, until I decided to try MERV. CARseat before CARLOAN; I was picturing the pillow my 5'0" mother sits on when driving. ANODYNE, LISSOME, and the clue for REGATTA were all worth the price of admission, and I for one was delighted by the bat wings in the grid.

I'm loving the bat stories. My encounter was 25 years ago, when I was reading in bed next to my then-husband, and saw a dark shape swoop through the bedroom. I shook my husband awake yelling "getitgetitgetitgetitNOW". Aforesaid hubby, who slept commando, grabbed a tennis racket for a weapon, donned a raincoat for protection, and proceeded to swipe wildly at said bat, who swooped gracefully from one bedroom corner to the other for about 3 terrifying minutes (terrifying for all involved) and then promptly disappeared. I spent the rest of the night poking at the clothes in my closet with a broom handle, praying a bat wouldn't fly out. For months we couldn't figure out where Mr. Bat had gone, until we had our heating ducts cleaned and the contractor told us he had found a dead bat in the ducts. I felt badly for the bat, s/he had been just as scared as us, and what a sorry way to die. But the indelible and hilarious image remains: a naked man clad only in a raincoat, tennis racket at the ready, doing battle against the Forces of Darkness who had dared to invade our bedroom.

mooretep 7:51 AM  

Loved the puzzle, here's why:
Loren is on summer "vacation" and posts on a regular basis.
She says everything I might want to say and more.

Frank McCourt may have coined the acronym "ATTO", or All That Time Off, which assumes that teachers just loll around all summer. Nothing could be further from the truth as I am re-certifying to have a student teacher and re-engineering two of the courses that I instruct. The only difference is that I don't set my alarm clock (even though I still awake at 5:00 am), and I don't spend my evenings and weekends assessing student work.

@LMS, OMG, we are of the same graduating class!
I am headed to my 40 year reunion in South Bend this summer. Hoping to meet Mayor Pete.
Don't do facebook, so I was out of the loop and had to call my old best friend from then to get the deets.
Traveling from New England, so a road trip is in order. Planning on Cedar Point and a ballgame in Cleveland on the way.

Not only that, but like your son, I was trained as an engineer.
Went into education.
Thought it might be easier than engineering.

It's not.

bookmark 7:53 AM  

David McCullough's latest book, The Pioneers, is about the settling of the Northwest Territory. It's a history of Ohio and the Ohio River Valley that focuses on the city of Marietta. After reading the book, I'd love to take a road trip to Marietta, the first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory and the home of the Marietta Earthworks, ancient Indian mounds over 2000 years old.

The Pioneers is a fascinating book about an area not well known to me. And it allowed me to answer the crossword clue!

oopsydeb 8:15 AM  

For a Friday, this was a medium for me. ANODYNE is a new word for me. Assumed 53A Slammin' Sammy was going to be Sosa, so when I saw it was a five letter answer I had a moment of "oh god what is the trick of this puzzle going to be" panic. Agree with Rex that AT A TROT is bad. As is I SURE DO.

The worst for me though is 37A, Suits, briefs, etc. Clothing, yes, but MENSWEAR? Us gals have suits and briefs,too. How did the editor and Rex both miss that issue?

For those of you who can't imagine how gender or race or age can enter into decisions about whose work to publish, you might want to do some introductory reading on implicit bias.

I've tried and tried and tried and still don't see the bats in the grid. At all.

amyyanni 8:27 AM  

A friend found a bat in her apartment and called her boyfriend. He calmly gave her a series of instructions: cover your hair with the shower cap; put on your robe over your clothes; get your tennis racket, etc. Finally, she interrupted him to ask if he knew what he was doing. "No," he replied, "but it's been fun imagining what you look like right now."
Reader, she did not marry him.

Had a hard time finding a way into the puzzle. Thankfully, Seneca was a gimme. Had triM for PERM for a bit. Liked COT clue, LIMO not so much. Overall a good Friday.

Irene 8:28 AM  

Loved it, especially the wry cluing. Had fun with waist/wrist. And found Rex's PC rant about the constructors silly. We're supposed to reject good work like this because it's by white men?

Hungry Mother 8:32 AM  

I broke out of my slump in a bit of a slogfest. Day off from running in advance of a weekend of racing, so lingering over coffee and taking a slow solve was OK by me.

The Rhino 8:33 AM  

1. Rex has become a parody of himself
2. Loren is a national treasure
3. I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit
4. 'Bats in the Belfry' will always make me think of jack Nicholson as the Joker.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

I’m with “webwinger”. Please explain AMA for 45A. Q&A on Reddit Thx.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

AMA = Ask Me Anything

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Rex, FWIW I note that vast majority of the bloggers like this puzzle (as did I), and the mini theme was not an issue. What does this tell us?

Phaedrus 8:57 AM  

Rex should refuse to all donations from white men....since we’re all so awful.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Oh Rex, you are one miserable man. It was a delightful puzzle. Please try seeing the glass half-full at least some of the time. You may well feel better.

Joe Dipinto 9:02 AM  

One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing
And you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky

I agree with Rex - those are definitely M's flying across the grid. Are we to believe that at first they are just creatureless pairs of wings but then they turn into bats, which, as bats do, have wings? I sure don't. Nope. M's.

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed

I like summer treats as much as screaming children do, but really, SNO-CONE and I-CEE need to permanently disappear from the NYT puzzle.

And Mr. Green, he's so serene
He's got a TV in every room

The better to watch "The Vampire Diaries" and "Lord of the Rings" and "Ben-Hur", and "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Jeopardy" and "Celebrity Rehab" all at the same time.

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste

I'm only here for the regatta. My limo's outside.

Peter Noone just showed up again, demanding to sing his hit "Lissome Peepers". I told him I know he's lying and that the song is really called "Listen People". So I sent him on his way with an area map and a Mars bar.

Uncle Alvarez 9:06 AM  

@Runs with Scissors, you should have met @Evil Doug.

Rube 9:06 AM  

Too easy for Friday. Rex is wrong in that there is nothing wrong with a friday theme...if it's a good them which this wasn't. I just ignored it at solved as a themeless.

No bonus points for Seneca Falls. It's a clue in crossword puzzle not a flashpoint for Den presidential candidates. The ibtersection of crosswords and politics is the null set.
I don't like Tolkien either. I Keep waiting for a true Friday a true challenge. But as we all know, the Messiah is coming.

pabloinnh 9:30 AM  

Well I liked this one just fine, couple of pros doing their thing. Of course, I like Tolkein too and have read LOTR more than a few times. For those of you who don't like JRRT, what, he was required reading?

I like bats too. They eat bugs. I have removed lots of bats from the cabins we used to rent in the summer here in NH, my method is to find a bowl you can palm. You wait until the bat lands, usually in a dark corner of the ceiling, you pop the bowl over it, and when it flies to the small end of the bowl, you cover the big end with a plate, and there's your trapped bat. Then you take it outside where it can eat more bugs.

Best part of the puzzle for me was REGATTA, which made me think of The Kinks' "Well Respected Man". You have to use the British short"a" pronunciation to make it rhyme-"And he plays at stocks and shares/And he goes to the REGATTA/And he adores the girl next door/And he's dying to get at her..." . A classic, but surely unacceptable today.

NAMETAGS are essential at reunions. Just went to my 50th college such event, and wouldn't have known anyone without them. My old campus is now twice as large, three times as beautiful, and eighteen times more expensive.

Thanks for the fun, guys. Swell Friday.

Mickey D 9:30 AM  

Some people enjoy McDonald's hamburgers, Yellow Tail Merlot, and Kenny G. i won't yuck anyone's yum if they do. Those things (and things like them...for instance, NYT xword puzzles of late) are popular for a reason. They are easy to digest, superficially easy to appreciate, and they hit all the right buttons.

Rex's critiques challenge the solver to see why these NYT puzzles have become the McDonald's of xword puzzles. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy them, he's simply pointing out that there are huge gaps between these things and and more nuanced things. To him, "nuanced" is better. His daily blog is him trying to describe the indescribable...why one thing is better than another.

Too many of you take his critiques though he is indeed yucking your yum...but he is no more insinuating that you are incapable of appreciating better puzzles for liking these NYT offerings than when you drive past a McDonald's when you're hungry and choose to not stop. That is, you're not judging the people in the restaurant, you are judging the restaurant for yourself. Why is that so hard to understand? Why do you insist that your opinion matters more when you also critique the guy who owns the blog for somehow having the audacity to think HIS opinion matters more? Is that kinda hypocritical?

This puzzle was created by the two constructors whose work I don't like most often. BH's puzzles are absolutely in the McDonald's hamburger column for me. But this puzzle was okay...weirdly, like they canceled each other out and created a puzzle that wasn't as terrible as I feared.

In some ways Rex's posts are a lot like debating the pros and cons of Yellow Tail Merlot or McDonald's "McCafe" coffee or Kenny G. Some people are just going to like that stuff and there's not much that can be said to make them think otherwise. I don't think Rex is trying to sway anyone, though so many here seem to think he is and take it personally.

Nancy 9:32 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, although I was underwhelmed by the grid art, such as it was. You see what you see and I'll see what I see. BIRDS OF A FEATHER is also a grid-spanner and would have worked. So would A MURDER OF RAVENS, for that matter. Look, you want bats, you can have all mine. Bet you can have all of @Hartley's, too. Shame on you, constructors, for making one of our favorite regulars re-experience her very great trauma.

It was hard to see ALLOW ME at first because DR GREEN, not MR GREEN was my suspect in Clue. Had RAN LONG before RAN LATE. CAR LOAN was cleverly clued (61A); I wanted CAR SEAT at first. Liked the clues for WRISTS (46A); RAMP (49A); and LIMO (52A). One possible Natick: Is it DR DREW crossing ELROND? I must remember to look after I post this. Either way, I pronounce this enjoyable puzzle "solved".

Teedmn 9:42 AM  

Another Friday, another easy themeless, sigh. I like the puzzle, it just never gave me a run for my money. Okay, the SW, I had some black ink where some bow ties were first bolos and Skinny was Dope. Next week, give us something to chew on? Please?

Looking at 30A, I wondered if Tolkien had any connection to EL ROND Hubbard, but a quick Google didn't dig up any DIRT.

I circled two clues I liked. 3D, while not tricky, echoing Hide and Seek, was cute. And 37A, Suits, briefs, etc. bringing to mind attorneys, was nice.

Thanks, BH and DS. Congrats, David, on your graduation!

RooMonster 9:46 AM  

Hey All !
Finished the North part of puz in 10 minutes, super fast for me on a FriPuz, but then crashed and burned in the South. Just could not get any answers into the ole brain in that whole section. After finally scratching and clawing around, with unabashed help from Check Puzzle, finally finished with a time of 42 minutes.

Embarrassed to admit, my last answer in was LIMO, with the L the last letter. As a LIMO driver, I guess I'm jaded to think of them as Wheels of fortune. Wheels for people who want to show off? Who want to yell and scream in a Bachelorette party? Who are drunk off their ass?

Anyway, another mini-theme Friday. Knew something was up when the middle blocks were all the same. Then saw the first "theme" clue, and knew right away Rex would karate chop the puz.

Liked the wide open corners. MR GREEN. Har. And it's not Green Paint.

Slamming Sammy clue was evil. I could only think of Sosa. Then I tried Hagar. RICOH was xerOx first. PEEPERS a fun word.

Overall, a nice, frustrating ADVERSE South, good diversion for a few minutes puz. Got me my puz KIX. :-)


DavidL 9:47 AM  

I came to comment (rare) because I thought Rex's review was so over-the-top, gratuitously grouchy. But I see many others have already taken care of business.

Even if you don't like the puzzle art you can ignore the theme and this plays like a better-than-average Friday.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

The black squares didnt look like bats? Um, ok Rex. Whatever you say.
Nive puzzle guys. David, I'm curious how close you and Bruce were to guessing juat what the hatcnett job you knew Rex would do on this little gem.

PhilM 9:53 AM  

Sacre bleu. I'm surprised that no one has pointed out that "Being, to Satre" should be ETANT, not ETRE, as ETRE means "to be".

pmdm 9:54 AM  

If you read the write-ups on this site regularly (at least those written by Mike Sharp), at some point you may consider them including a lot of repetitive nagging. (And whether you agree with what's written should be beside the point.) With that in mind, I usually breeze through the write-up in ten seconds and open the comments section, which I enjoy a lot more.

At first glance, I though this puzzle had an excessive amount of PPP which, considering the constructors, did not surprise me. After (mostly) completing the puzzle, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the puzzle. Without recognizing the theme, I don't think I would have been able to figure out the two long theme answers. I consider that a plus.

Imagination is a wonderful thing. Imagination allows ambiguous interpretations of images. (Is it a chalice or a pair of faces?) Without imagination, the world would probably be a pretty dull place.

Many years ago, a bat found its way into a little girl's bedroom. The girl died from rabies due to contact with the bat. (I'm told that the bat only has to brush against you to transmit the disease. To prevent panic, the incident received no news coverage (other that the death itself.) I only learned of the cause of the death from a co-worker who knew the family. Moral: even though bats look cute with their baby eyes and mean no harm, be very careful around them. At least the series of rabies shots (which I had to get after a bat invaded my bedroom) no longer are incredibly painful.

If ever you get to the area (which is pretty remote), make sure you visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The caves are quite impressive. And if you visit at the right time of the year, you can witness the bats leaving their daytime nesting roosts. It is an amazing show. There are so many bats (which fly right over you) that it takes hours for them to leave the cave. After sunset, you may not be able to see them but you can still hear the rustling above you. I hate to admit if, but if I had to choose between crossword puzzles and national parks, my choice would be quite easy.

PhilM 9:55 AM  

Sacre bleu. I'm surprised that no one has pointed out that "Being, to Satre" should be ETANT, not ETRE, as ETRE means "to be".

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Its a murder of crows not ravens.
A group of ravens is typically called an unkindness.
Speaking of which, im guessing z will be along to correct me on that avian tidbit too.

Zwhatever 9:56 AM  

ANODYNE is too fitting. Having to change your to ONES got significantly arched eyebrows. I agree with Rex that the BATS are the cheapest looking 8-bit art imaginable. I’ve also got questions about the clue for ÊTRE. Isn’t the French word for “being” etant? ÊTRE is the infinitive “to be.” Someone who speaks the language daily want to weigh in here? Otherwise, agree with Rex that the theme focus oddly leads to a lack of much sparkle, making this a fine example of an ANODYNE puzzle.

@LMS - Get pissed, woman. And I quote, I put myself out there as a constructor even though I’ve pretty much thrown in the towel, what with all the rejection letters I get. Not even one Will likes this idea, so could you blah blah? Nope. Just a polite little theme didn’t excite Will… note. Let me state unequivocally that every puzzle with your byline has been better than this. I thought Rex was quoting you today, but he was just reflecting on other women’s experiences apparently.

ELROND was easy here, but I get that LOTR is not for everyone.

Amelia 10:11 AM  

Show of hands for people who solved without the silly theme. I still don't see bats or wings in the grid. But I sure as hell knew how to work the puzzle conventionally. I don't know why they thought it was necessary at all. On a Friday.

That's about the only thing I agree with him on. And by the way, you know you're over the top with your criticism when LMS makes a note of it. She's usually quite ANODYNE where Rex is concerned. It's really offensive to criticize the puzzle--for whatever reason--on gender terms. I guarantee you that he wouldn't have done it in reverse. If he doesn't like a woman's puzzle, he just doesn't like it. And that's fair. I'm not a big fan of "white guy" criticism. Because it doesn't work in reverse. As well it shouldn't.

That said, I liked this puzzle a lot. I wonder if he didn't get the CAR LOAN clue. I thought it was a wonderful misdirect. Like @nancy I had car seat for quite a while. I nyuked at comical Howard.

Maybe a tad too easy for Friday, but you know my opinion on that. I think it's intentional. My millennial son has started doing the puzzles and he's getting further and further into the week. I think that's the little secret here.

Zwhatever 10:14 AM  

@Phil M - Hi. Or maybe bob jour is better.

@anon9:55 - Hell if I know, but this reference site agrees with you. I will not call anyone’s attention to what that site says about quail.

Zwhatever 10:15 AM  

AAAAaaaaarghhhhh. Damn auto-correct. I’m sure Bob Jour is a fine fellow.

Hartley70 10:18 AM  

I tried to ignore the grid art because I don’t do BATS. I thought this was a stellar Friday, tough and chewy just as I like them. I had a bit of anxiety reading the comments, especially @chefwen, because as I mentioned, I don’t do BATS. It was worth the struggle, however, just to read of LMS’s son’s job hunt. My son had the exact same internet non-experience after college. He finally got exasperated, hopped on the train to NYC, walked in the door of his dream company with resume in hand and luckily met the owner in the lobby right then and there. Gutsy but it worked.

R@GMAN 10:27 AM  

@a.corn My dad had a saying, "That's why Breyers makes Chocolate AND Vanilla.".

Joan 10:31 AM  

Re etre for being: “ L’Etre et le neant “ is the French title of Sartre’s book known in English and “Being and Nothingness” (sorry I don’t know how to put in French accents.)

David 10:37 AM  

Jeepers creepers, mars bars and peepers. Moe Howard? Yeah, skews old, but so what?

Go Pro Went Pro Snead Snead

Sno Cone I know. Icee I have only ever seen in these puzzles. Regional thing?

Also had spread your wings and don't have a problem with the ancient depiction of bats. Puts me in mind of "Don't worry. I'm Batman!"

Bat's in the belfry and the silver spoon, Little girl blue and the man on the moon.

Yes, étant it is. Implausible as it may be, I liked car loan, emanate, essence as well as lissome, essence, and anodyne. And regatta, of course.

My head keeps hearing at a trot said as if it were Ataturk though.

Liked this puzzle fine.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Not just that site. Every site agrees with me. Its an unkindness of ravens, a murder of crows.
As for the site you provided a link to its true they use both bevy and covey for quail. Be assured howeve that while each is correct, covey is by far the more common. Accept it or not as you like, but as for appearing foo,ish, id love for you to talk to some upland hunters about the bvy of quail you flushed. They'd have you pegged then and there.

FrankStein 10:38 AM  

Etre, I am pretty sure, in French is also a noun meaning being.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Stay in your own lane. I was adressing Nancy.

Crimson Devil 10:42 AM  

Excellent Fri puz. I’s all over BATS, loved seeing LISSOME, ANODYNE, OPIE & MOE HOWARD, LIMO, PASTA, RICOH, WR/AISTS, and WENT after GO PRO y’day. And, thx to OSL, I’ll be singing I’ll Fly Away all day, Oh Lordy !

jberg 10:43 AM  

All you French grammarians have a point, but Sartre named his most famous book "l'Etre et le Neant" (please add the appropriate accent marks, I can't), so I thought it was fair enough.

The first time I ever encountered the word ANODYNE was when I was asked to spell it in the Wisconsin state spelling bee. I asked for a definition and was told it was a pain-killer, so I started off ANTI... buzz! And I was out.

And thank God for ELROND. The first time I encountered Tolkien was during exam week in college; I started reading The Two Towers (it was the first one I found) and couldn't stop. By now I've read the whole cycle, including The Silmarillion, maybe 10, 12 times. So tht was actually the first entry I was really sure of; otherwise I'd still be floundering around.

I'm not endorsing this argument, but just so everyone understands -- @Rex is not objecting to themes on a Friday in themselves, but objecting to the loss of one of the week's two expected themeless puzzles, as he finds the latter much more rewarding to solve (provided they are good). Me, I enjoy themes, including this one, so I didn't mind.

I'll spare you any of my many bat stories, just say it's nice to see Slammin' Sammy SNEAD back for his second appearance within a week. Not so much that I love golf (I don't), just that it makes me feel less old to see him.

Jeepers creepers!

Malsdemare 10:47 AM  

I really liked this and the bats remind me of sitting on our back deck with my grands, watching the bats emerge from our two bat houses. Because of those guys, our vigil is virtually mosquito free. I BATtled in the NE corner; seems to be thing with me. My son gave me ELROND which I promptly misspelled with an e, not a d, giving me DReREW for too long. I had ESSINGS for too long, trying to figure out something about bESSINGS or guESSINGS, until I saw my error at Mr. Wallace.

Back when our fledglings left for college I was a night runner, out the door with my Sarge or Jazz or Gabriel for a six miler in the peace and quiet. As each child left for college, I'd break down at a creek crossing, night after night, until I was dry as a bond. Crossing was renamed heartbreak bridge. The only child to come home ever was the youngest, to heal after the drowning of her beloved.

I really liked ANODYNE, had une before LES, Catalan before ESPANOL. MARIETTA dropped in off the M though I did wonder if I was channeling our years in Roswell, GA, right next door to "Mayretta" where the kids went to school.

Fun one!

QuasiMojo 10:49 AM  

I thought two or more quayles were called a tomatoe.

OffTheGrid 10:52 AM  

For Christ's sake, Anonymous 10:37, Give it a rest!

Ethan Taliesin 10:53 AM  

ELROND makes me think "L. Ron Hubbard." Always does.

By the way, If any of you are in the area, check out the L. Ron Hubbard House in Dupont Circle in Washington DC.

You can call in advance and get a private tour. The guy who showed us around was earnest and really nice. He talked us through Hubbard's life: from childhood to adventurer to sci-fi writer to religious guru to death. L Ron was an odd guy (charlatan, imo) who led a colorful life.

There's also a large wall displaying many, many historical E-meter devices.

Ah Scientology... only slightly less unconvincing, injurious, money-grubbing, mind-controlling, and absurd than nearly all of their religious competition.

Newboy 11:00 AM  

Got my kicks at KIX finally & mr happy pencil smiled. I’m suspecting that if you saw those stealth bomber icons instantly as I did you got a healthy head start on those who didn’t. I wrestled with this one as I expected to having seen the constructors. Liked it almost as much as yesterday’s CHECKered effort! Now back to see what previous poster boys and girls can add to my morning amusement😉

Kath320 11:10 AM  

Lucky me, just finished reading David McCollough's "The Pioneers" about the settling of Ohio, so Marietta was a gimme! Great book by the way.

Pete 11:20 AM  

I'm a great aficionado of bats. We have them in the eaves of our upper balcony and the lower patio, and in the inset into our library window. We have them in the bat houses I put up, an int the holes the Pileated Woodpeckers put in our trees. We have an outstanding flock, herd, whatever this year. I probably put in an hour of walking the dogs in the our fields in the summer twilight, and it's a great pleasure to see dozens of bats flying around, scarfing up all the bugs. And yes, we've had the occasional home invasion with 98+% naked me trying to remedy the situation. I love my bats.

I have never seen a bat actually look like the artwork on this grid. I'm sure it's possible that at some point in their flight there's some similarity, but no.

gfrpeace 11:30 AM  

I love LILLE, Flanders. I have traveled all over with early clavichords, which I often have to beg to get onto airplanes, no matter how many people I called beforehand to get the regulations; I once was kept off the Boston subway because I was carrying a medieval clavichord. But when I came to get on the Chunnel train in LIllE, the people x-raying things said, Wow, a clavichord, we've never had one of those before! Like it was an exciting thing for them. I offered to take it out of the case and play them a concert, but there was no time.

FPBear 11:41 AM  

Irrelevant theme. Pretty easy. I have been doing Fridays and Saturdays for a year or so and don't always finish. Last week and this were a joy. Oh, yes Tolkein is way tedious.

nyc_lo 11:48 AM  

I generally ignore themers and just rely on crosses, since I’m usually not clever enough to figure them out in advance. And when they’re as iffy as this one, I’m glad I didn’t waste much time pondering.

Add MARSBAR to the old-timey list. Do they even still make those? Can’t recall the last time I saw one in the impulse aisle. Or anywhere for that matter.

Nice to see SENECA clued as it was, being from that part of New York originally. And finished in under two Rexes, so that always makes me feel smart.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

spread wings? bats? hardly. that triplet is 3 B2 bombers, exactly. just look at the wiki picture. MAGA!!

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

And, who made ANODYNE the hoity-toity word of the day??? I'm already quite tired of it. When I was an adolescent, I read "St. Ives", RLS, but had to use a dictionary and thesaurus to get through it. Vocab is supposed to be learnable by use of words in context. Not always, it seems.

David W 12:11 PM  

“Loyalist white men.” Are you assuming both their race AND their gender? Not very woke of you Mr Sharp.

old timer 12:24 PM  

I really wanted to find a musical link to the hilarious song by Jan Harmon, MARS BARS. You can find the lyrics and music, but not a performance. It went the rounds of the folk community back in the mid '80s. Chorus begins: Mars Bars, eat 'em in your cars bars ....

I am with OFL in that we were robbed of a tough themeless Friday. But since I don't hate Haight (he does) I will say it was an amusing solve. Very easy for a Friday. And I did see the BATS flying NE in the grid.

As an only child, I was sent very early to camp. My first experience was for a week at a farm NW of Los Angeles. We were all assigned jobs. Mine was to go to a barn or other outbuilding and collect bat droppings. Yuck! Someone had to do it. And we were never taken out at night to see the bats. We did see cows, and as I recall we were given milk from those cows. Very nutritious, but as I recall I preferred Arden's or even Adohr's, the brands I was used to.

Totally amused by today's comments, especially the ones with music and lyrics. Thanks, Joe.

Banya 12:33 PM  

We get it. You have no imagination, Rex. You never like when black squares represent objects. They looked like bats to me and it made me chuckle. I liked this puzzle a lot.

Dexter Green 12:35 PM  

RE: PhilM comment.

The clue for "being" according to Sartre does not refer to the present participle of the verb "etre." The clue refers to the noun, a "being," which in French is the infinitive form of the verb "to be," and as such it is a masculine noun. Sartre's philosophical work on existentialism is titled, L'Etre et le neant." Sorry about the lack of accents and the circumflex.

Master Melvin 12:42 PM  

My bat story: a bat was flying back and forth in the hallway of our student apartment building in New Haven. I caught it in my lacrosse stick (which took many attempts) and threw it out the window. It appears that lacrosse is a better sport for bat removal than tennis.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Off the grid,
Reread the thread.@Z reintroduced the quail business with a glib comment. I think its fair to defend myself againt flippancy, dont you?

Master Melvin 12:46 PM  

Rex, I'm really tired of your constant, and somewhat sexist, disparagement of the pronoun ONE. It is a very useful, gender-neutral pronoun that deserves greater use in English than it now enjoys.

kitshef 12:51 PM  

In defense of bats: dogs, deer - even cows kill way more people than bats. That's where your fear should lie. Well, really it should lie with salami and cigarettes.

Michiganman 1:00 PM  

Ah, the power of suggestion. I believe that not one solver would have seen bats, wings, B2's, or anything else if 17A and 57A had not referred to the grid art. Furthermore, omitting those references would have made the puzzle better.

Rev. Dr. Gary Johnson, Ph.D 1:18 PM  

Rex’s review and most of today’s comments seem dumber than normal.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Please publish the whereabouts of that Evil Doug.
Thank you in advance.

XQQQME 1:41 PM  

Loren Muse Smith: Kudos! Lazy as I am, I usually skim the posts here...especially the longer ones. Your take on the high school reunion reality is classic. I’m coming up on my 50 year reunion. That’s the one where the remaining alumni no longer care to put on airs because we’ve seen our mortality in the next room.

XQQQME 1:42 PM  

Rex, I’m confused. Is this a crossword puzzle blog or a political correctness blog?

Masked and Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Well, at least @RP was actually pretty friendly to this here FriPuz, as Haight puzs go.

Today we have the somewhat rare semi-themed FriPuz, with the ultra-rare batty-symmetrical puzgrid. Different. Like.

Pretty much nary a mask of a chance, on M&A gettin that cruel and unusual ELRON?/DR?REW crossin. But, hey -- that's ok; didn't care a whole lot about what those two answers were gonna be, anyway. fave answers: LEFTJAB. ISUREDO. LISSOME. MARSBAR. Sorta WENTPRO.

staff weeject pick: LES. Ahhh -- French weejects ... lille darlins.
Kinda also admired KIX, btw; a novel way to specify K-9, of doggydom … possible future runtpuz themer …?

On this whole verbONESnoun vs. verbYOURnoun debate: I reckon I'd usually vote for YOUR, as it'll help out the U-count. This here puz needed said help, bigtime.

Thanx for gangin up on -- and yet goin to bat for -- us, Haight/Steinbergmeisters. Nice, feistful clues for BOOKIE & PASTA.

Masked & AnonymoUs

ghthree 1:43 PM  

As for the Bats in the grid, check out this page from
"For Better of for Worse": Sunday, July 1, 2018
They're m-birds! Lynn Johnston has nailed it!

My wife Jane and I almost got Naticked at 30 Across and 23 Down. Ran the alphabet and guessed right.
Never heard of ELROND or DR DREW.

We live in Ohio, but never heard of Marietta, except for Georgia. Live and learn.

12 Down echoes the "Go Pro" from Thursday. Nothing wrong with that, but there seem to be a lot of repetitions in recent grids. Just sayin'

Jane's paternal grandparents Seymour and Chamberlain) both signed the 1848 Declaration, so 47 Down was a gimme.

Richard 1:51 PM  

Literally nothing about this grid's black squares "suggests" BELFRY, so they couldn't even get the clues right.

Michael's quote above makes no sense to me as the clue is focusing on the black squares representing "bats." rather than "belfry." Am I missing something or did Michael miss something?

mbr 2:00 PM  

re: étant vs être :
nm being
être humain human being

Al Manack 2:30 PM  


Marietta is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Ohio, United States. During 1788, pioneers to the Ohio Country established Marietta as the first permanent settlement of the new United States in the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio. Wikipedia

Zip code: 45750

Population: 13,673 (2017)

RooMonster 2:33 PM  

Har @M&A
Did you see the List that @Z linked to?
A group of Pewits (Lapwings) is a deceit. Apropos, that.

BAT WINGS. So there. :-)


Fred Romagnolo 3:12 PM  

ELROND & DRDREW definitely a natick; shame on the two pros. I started with AThens, then AThenA, but nothing else worked until I finally came up with ATTICA. Also, I started with SPREADyourWINGS, but, again, nothing else worked, so I corrected it. I generally think of NOT BAD as somewhat praising, rather than so-so. Anybody else?

Fred Wollam 3:22 PM  

Yes... sorta. The s is silent, but the preceding e is "released"... a wee puff of air that could be mistaken for a schwa.

Zwhatever 4:39 PM  

@RooMonster - I’ve had that page open on my iphone browser for ages and never noticed. Great find.

I didn’t easily find it, but not that long ago we had a B-52 Grid Art theme.

@anon10:37 - Let me clarify. What looked foolish was something you wrote along the lines of “I’m right I don’t need proof.” You later provided a site that supports your contention, which I appreciate. I don’t know how much you have read of the ongoing debates here, but I’m firmly in the “how people use the language is correct” camp. So I’d take quail lovers as more authoritative over Merriam-Webster. Candidly, though, I know no quail lovers, at least none that are vocal about it.

@anon10:40 - Huh. Maybe you forgot your last sentence?

@David W - I’m guessing you have no idea how foolish you look. Hey, you know what, why don’t you go over to and take a gander at the pics of the constructors?

@Master Melvin - I’m with Rex as far as crossword usage of ONE. ONE feels like cheating. Today is a perfect example. SPREAD your WINGS seems in the language, SPREAD ONE’S WINGS is used because the letters work better. As for daily use, I reserve ONE for formal writing. It just feels a little stilted to me.

@Anon1:30 pm - Cincinnati. He retired from the NYTX, preferring the WSJ’s puzzle and, I assume, it’s politics.

@Richard - the clue for 57A is “Mental eccentricity... as suggested visually by some of this grid’s black squares.” The grid suggests BATS, but BATS are not the “mental eccentricity.” The grid doesn’t show BATS IN THE BELFRY. I think Rex is correct, but it didn’t bother me while solving.

Thanks for all the feedback on ÊTRE. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. A suggestion on diacritical marks, if you google the word or term you’ll often find a page with the appropriate diacritics. You can then just copy and paste. For instance this is lifted from the Wikipedia article: L'Être et le néant.

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

Lattice of coincidences - I just learned about Marietta, Ohio the other day when a friend asked if I had been there (to which I responded, “you mean Georgia?”.

OISK 8:34 PM  

Was looking for an explanation of AMA and Reddit. If someone commented, I must have overlooked it... Elrond crossing Dr. Drew (who??) was a problem for me, but no other letter seemed to work... Lord of the Rings was compulsory reading when I was in colleges, and attractive coeds wore "Frodo lives" pins... And "Come to Middle Earth." But I recall very few of the character names some 50 years later. Gandolph? Samwise?

Dave S 8:56 PM  

This was one of the most enjoyable puzzles I've done in a while. Part of that was because some of the longer answers were right in my wheelhouse, of course: Marietta College is the alma mater of my mother, father , sister and brother, and I'd recently read a review of the new David McCullough book, The Pioneers, much of which concerns the settlement of the town. The review wasn't all that favorable, pointing out how he focuses on the "heroic" settlers with little regard for whose land they were settling, but it still sounds like a worthwhile read. Despite anodyne being one of my favorite words I still struggled in the southeast corner. Loved the clue for "carloan" but took a while to get it, and even though I'm old enough to remember Merv Griffin he's not the first name I think of when I think of game shows. Neither is Dr. Drew when I think of reality shows, largely because I try not to think about reality shows. That would be my only quibble, that Dr. Drew and maybe Mr. Green were the only new bits of information, and those aren't likely to impress at cocktail parties or leave me feeling even a tad more educated. All right, I suppose Attica wouldn't exactly roll off my tongue if you asked me Theseus' address, but I'm probably unlikely to need that outside the puzzle world, where it can usually be inferred. I didn't need the theme for the first long answer, but I think it infused a bit of fun. And after that I could see it, and I didn't have to just, uh, wing it on the second one. A nice level of difficulty, where I felt a sense of accomplishment at the end, without anything being so obscure as to frustrate.

JC66 9:04 PM  


Ask Me Anything

Monty Boy 9:16 PM  

Those of you going to reunions, especially 40 and 50, be prepared. My experience was that the women didn't need name tags - they all looked great. The men (including me) mostly looked warmed over zombies. I walked past one of my best friends and didn't recognize him with gray hair, wrinkles and a beard. Thankfully, voices don't change that much, so I identified the men from voices as well as name tags.

Runs with Scissors 9:43 PM  

Uncle Alvarez 9:06 AM

I've never met @Evil Doug, but I've read his comments here. Not sure where you're going with that.

@a.corn - Yes, the world would be a truly boring place if we were all clones. One man's meat is another man's poison.

Unknown 9:43 PM  

Why such a grump?

Unknown 2:45 AM  

Oh come on Rex... A pretty good Friday puzzle, couple of quirks and those wings were pretty obvious. Lower half a bit more work but enjoyable. Not worthy of a big dose of crankiness. Save it for when it counts

JOHN X 5:21 AM  

@Monty Boy 9:16 PM

Hell yes.

You and me need to have a drink together one day.


kaoconno 7:29 AM  

Yes, keep putting it out there that Tolkien is terribly tedious!

CatherineL 7:32 AM  

Why the photo of a Dianetics book? Can’t help but think that it’s a negative connotation.

kaoconno 7:33 AM  

Nantes is one syllable. It’s the t that is released, not the e. You are correct though that the release of the t could lead non-native speakers of a language like English where word-final stops are not released to think it is released into a schwa. Note though that released final stops in English are possible and don’t lead us to think a syllable is s added.

And Lille is just slightly bigger than Nantes, and much bigger if you look at the entire metropolitan area.

kaoconno 7:41 AM  

Wrong, étant is indeed the present participle of être but in French the infinitive is used as a substantive, hence the French title of Being and nothingness is L’être et le néant. And a human being is an être humain.

spacecraft 10:56 AM  

Hoo boy, was this ever a day to skip the lead blog! OFC (which, for you LATE comers, = Our Fearless Curmudgeon) really earned his "C" today. Haters gonna hate, I guess. Me? I loved it. Tore through the top half in three minutes flat; plunked down 1- and 17-across without hesitation. The south was a tad less hospitable, but I still finished in under five Rexes. I call that easy-medium, for the day.

The tough cookie was ANODYNE, indeed Greek for without pain: it's an analgesic. How we got from that definition to "Blandly agreeable" is a total mystery to me, and needs explanation. The word was forced in, letter by letter, on crosses, and was the last in. Cost me at least a Rex and a half.

I fail to see what's so horrible about having a theme on a Friday. Is it some silly rule violation? I enjoy themed and themeless alike; what annoys me is careless fill--which I DO NOT SEE HERE. Perhaps one too many summer coolers--though at 100+ daily we could use some in these parts. I had to change a letter to come up with today's damsel: the lovely MARIETTe Hartley. At a REGATTA, they rowed ATATROT. Oh well. Birdie. Pay no attention to the curmudgeon behind the curtain.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Ugh indeed. Shout out to Bob "Death To Flying Things" Ferguson.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

@CatherineL 7:32 AM

see 30 across.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Dave S, I agree. A puzzle that clicked so easily and naturally - things just leapt into place. Nice to feel smart once in a while...

Burma Shave 2:36 PM  


ISUREDO NOT MINED that I'm with some
one who WENTPRO to ALLOWME 'sleepers',


leftcoast 3:39 PM  

My computer apparently ate my comment.

So, to summarize, enjoyed the unexpected theme and the revealingly graphic BATS on the wing.

Considered this easy-medium for a Friday, and appreciate the clever work of dynamic duo, Haight and Steinberg.

rainforest 4:08 PM  

As soon as I saw that Haight/Steinberg were the constructors, I zipped past the curmudgeon. What would be the point of reading him. He dislikes Steinberg's style and he absolutely hates Haight, or at least puzzles by him.

Me, I liked the puzzle. LEFT JAB went right in, reminding me of my apparently glass jaw when I tried boxing as a 12-year old, and went down from a freakin' JAB. Gave up boxing for golf.

An enjoyable experience it was to plunk down a few things in, wrestle with some clever cluing and to actually get the two "themers" off a couple of letters. I liked the fill and the grid design and had fun solving. ONE'S mileage may vary.

Diana, LIW 4:50 PM  

I loved having a challenge from BH and DS, tho I didn't notice the byline till half way thru or so.

Finished in three sessions. I cannot understand why people like to time their puzzles so much. Why not try to eat dinner faster tonight than last night. Makes as much sense to me.

@Lefty - the computer ate mine the other day - don't you hate that?

'Twas a good Friday workout for me.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoast 5:25 PM  

@Diana -- Yeah, THANK GOD (recent entry), my original comment wasn't lengthy masterpiece.

rondo 9:13 PM  

ISUREDO think it was easy. 1a and 1d gimmes. 37a and 37d also gimmes. Done in no time hardly trying.

I spent most of the summer of 1982 in MARIETTA, MN on a construction job. Biggest show in that town probably ever. Knocks on my camper's door anytime between sundown and sunup. Married gals or NOT. Older and younger than me. Probably broke up the monotony of life in a small prairie town. And their husbands or boyfriends didn't know/care. Too much time spent at the American Legion club.

No question on yeah baby NINA Dobrev.

Fun easy Fri-puz.

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