Trixie's mom in comics / FRI 7-26-19 / Eccentric fashion designer in Incredibles / Either of two highest trump cards in euchre / Small fruit high in pectin / 1939 film banned in the Soviet Union / Starcy-producing palm tree

Friday, July 26, 2019

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Challenging (7:42)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ZEBRA FINCH (5A: Bird named for its black-and-white markings) —
The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is the most common estrildid finch of Central Australia and ranges over most of the continent, avoiding only the cool moist south and some areas of the tropical far north. It can also be found natively in Indonesia and East Timor. The bird has been introduced to Puerto Rico and Portugal. (P.S. its markings are not very Zebraish)

• • •

This grid looks pretty good, but man none of these clues meant anything to me. I'm exaggerating a little, but I haven't struggled to get started this much in a long long time. I feel like a minute or two of my time was just a freefall at the beginning, where I roamed around the grid, dropping in stray answers here in there, but totally unable to put a run together. If I'd looked at the clue for RAZORBACK (a gimme) early on, things might've gone much better (I tend to overlook longer clues when I'm starting out, stupid stupid stupid). But as it was, I put in FELT and LOIS ... and froze. Then AMY and CNET ... and still nothing. RIC was the only thing I could put in the center. Then TIS and THANE, and finally, finally, I surmised EXES and then got TWIX and IWANNASEE, and despite short answers that were completely beyond me (wtf do I know about euchre, ugh (50A)) (and ZEKE??? wtf is that? (58A)) I managed to put that corner together, and then the SW corner, and then I creeped around filling in the rest of the grid. Would've been great if this had been clued a. like a Friday as opposed to a Saturday, or b. in ways that I personally clicked with or found interesting or enjoyable. But again, if we just look at the grid, I think it's good.

[LOL this opens, improbably, with an AGENA rocket, which is some hardcore crosswordese]

My daughter just walked in the door, after 7 weeks of working in New Zealand, so I'm gonna wrap this up quickly if you don't mind (also if you do).

Five things:
  • 23D: Pismire (ANT) — I'm sure I've known that this word means "ANT," but today I got it confused with "quagmire" and wrote in BOG. And then FEN.
  • 3D: Item sold at Burger King but not at most McDonald's (ONION RING) — No. In the plural, sure. In the singular (!?!?!), no. Buger King does not sell a single, stand-alone ONION RING, I guarantee it.
  • 45A: Taboo word (MUST'NT) — oof, what? So it's a word you use when you are defining something *as* a taboo, and also speak like a quaint 19th-century governess? OK.
  • 25D: Rembrandt or Vermeer (OIL) — ugh. Yes, we use artists' names as metonyms for their paintings, and we use "OIL" as a kind of substantive adjective, I guess, for an "OIL painting," I guess, but all the transitive properties in the world can't make this pleasant. 
  • 38A: Your heart may go out to it (ORGAN BANK) — thanks for making me imagine my own untimely death. Good day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. just for fun, here's Garbo in "NINOTCHKA" (33D: 1939 film banned in the Soviet Union)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:41 AM  

Medium. Lots of scrabbly stuff and surprisingly smooth. Liked it and so did Jeff. He gave it POW.


gmat before ECON
bILKS before MILKS
EllA before EDNA (wrong movie)

JOHN X 1:13 AM  

For 5D (Full-figured) I first had BOSOMY and then CHESTY.

I believe that ZAFTIG is a word, as I’ve heard it before. I guess it means “full-figured” although I’m not sure why.

puzzlehoarder 1:23 AM  

An easy Friday. This took me half the time I spent on yesterday's puzzle.

It didn't start out easy. I bounced off all the across clues until I got to 19A. My first guess was MEET supported by SCUM at 1D. The U looked like a no go for "Trixie's mom". This left only FELT for 1D. Something then told me 16A was was EDNA. ODOREATER popped right up and after that the entries went down like dominoes.

That's a lot of boring detail but I liked this puzzle. It's cool to learn that the constructor is a Scrabble fan too. Just learning the word "maxixe" made this worthwhile. That word pluralized could make a monster bingo in Scrabble.

Phil 2:04 AM  

there is a Rembrandt brand artist oils, and a Van Gogh also so it would have been better or truer to. use Van Gogh for misdirection to the brand name instead of Vermeer.

I had MEET. for TROT and the partial LAST for 4D. so stuck in FILM for FELT to get bogged down a bit.

Also BLOODBANK for ORGANBANK which was harder to fix ... Your heart would definitely go out to it. Well put out anyway.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

Really enjoyed this one, although it was a real team effort to put it to bed. Thought for a minute that we would have to consult Uncle Google, but we held off and managed to finish sans “the Unc”.

Growing up in a Yiddish environment ZAFTIG was a gimme, it’s how Grandma Sofie described herself, I think we would call it pleasantly plump. Well, she was a great cook.

Like Rex, wasn’t too fond of 38A, kind of depressing, let’s not go there yet.

Other than that, it was a fun start to the weekend puzzzling.

KevCo 2:52 AM  

English is so weird. I just looked up "pismire," which I'd never come across before, and the dictionary definition is "an ant." That's it. Not an old ant, not a red ant, not a vicious ant. Just any old ant is a pismire. I have always loved the many shades of meaning in our language that give life to the difference between being tired and being exhausted, or being boisterous and being obnoxious. The space between connotation and denotation is one of English's great joys. And yet.

"Pismire" just means "ant." It has the exact same definition. Why does this word exist? Just so some people can pat ourselves on the back for knowing what it means, it seems. Who conceived this word? Why was it necessary? We have "ant." "Ant" is a perfectly clear and precise word. But, sure, let's all "pismire" to the fold, because why the hell not.

I don't really have a point. I just had to share that because it really annoyed me, and I have gathered that the internet exists mostly so we can complain about things. Sorry for getting pismires in my pants.

Loren Muse Smith 4:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 4:14 AM  

@puzzlehoarder – good on you that this was easy! I agree with Rex that it was Saturday hard. I came pretty close to throwing in the towel in the northwest until I finally guessed FOOL off the F in FELT.

So scrabbly – a pangram with ZZZZZ. And NARCOLEPSY. Hah. Well-played, Trenton.

I didn’t mind the clue for MUSTN’T. But the word looks funny in the grid unapostrophated.

‘TIS – would our lives be any easier if this is the contraction for it is that had stuck? That apostrophe buzzing around it is thinking Hmm. Which letter "I" should I vamoose? Decisions decisions I wonder if that would have made the pesky its/it’s distinction any easier since we wouldn’t have it’s as a possibility. Probably not. I read somewhere that a while back, ‘TIS was king and it’s was actually used as the possessive pronoun.

FUZZY NAVEL – eewww. But wait – seems gets its name from some guy at a bar telling the inventor of the drink that he could still smell the peach schnapps over the smell of the (navel) orange.

@KevCo - “Pismire” was utterly new to me, too. I’ve often wondered about myriad of synonyms we have for some things. Even the word synonym has a synonym: poecilonym. Pismire paved the way to our pissant and yes, it all has to do with the unpleasant smell of their nest. The men’s gas station restroom of insectdom. (And @KevCo – have you ever thought about the things that exist that we do not have a word for but could really use one? If you’ve lost both parents, you’re an orphan. If you’ve lost your husband, you’re a widow. These words help bypass some kind of explanation, and the conversation can just move along. But what if you’ve lost a child? You’re a, well, hmm.)

“Can” before FAN. Defensible if you see “cooler” as a jail. Can sure does a lot of semantic work for us, huh? You can sit your can on the can in the can.

ONION RING was just about my last entry. I kept considering “soy burger” off the R in SARONG.

ODOR EATER – anyone eating Limburger cheese. Or salt-rising bread. Or an ant nest.

Jyqm 5:22 AM  

“Zaftig” is Yiddish for “juicy.”

BarbieBarbie 5:36 AM  

@Kev, if PISMIRE and “ant” bothers you, try “emmet.” That one has same def, same etymology, same entomology. A redundancy trifecta!

This puzzle felt hard but timed normal. I thought it was pretty junk-free, but when I went back to look, it was more that the junk was very well-balanced and fair. A really good puzzle and fun kickoff to the day.

JJ 5:46 AM  

I used to spend my summers in Ireland, as a kid, where ants are always called PISMIRES. I don’t know about the rest of Europe.
Today I thought I would never finish, but really enjoyed the challenge

Lewis 6:08 AM  

There was much I didn't know, but I had faith that I knew enough and that the crosses would be fair, and when I filled in the last square, all my during-the-solve cursing melted into praise for a great puzzle. So many times it felt like I was running out of breath, and at the last moment, a rush of air saved me.

You made me work hard, Trenton, and then you paid me well as I bathed in a flood of good feelings. Much gratitude.

amyyanni 6:28 AM  

Took me some time to get a toehold but that just makes it more interesting. Lots to like here. Love the scrabbleyness of it.

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

Google says it derives from piss+mire and refers to an anthill, which purportedly smell like piss. See also pissant.

River Yellow 6:46 AM  

Loren, I must ask: why are you hanging out in men's gas station bathrooms?

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Slow start but some nice clueing here. I really liked this.

marty 7:00 AM  

Some really interesting and insightful comments in here that once again make me wish this platform supported a more conversational format (see: Reddit or even Disqus) rather than these seemingly one-off stray observations. It's a shame when I think about all the cool discussions that never happened because Blogger makes it seem like everyone is trying to talk all at the same time.

Suzie Q 7:26 AM  

Lots of good fun today. I have seen the ant clue before but only in a puzzle. Zaftig was a mystery. Thanks to my fellow bloggers for the origin. I wasn't sure what language it was. I don't tally up certain letters but today seemed to have lots of Ks.
Great tricky clues today, loved it.
I was a bit tepid about yesterday's puzzle but after the extra layer of the theme was pointed out to me here I came to really admire it.
Only nit today was Organ Bank. Hearts go directly from donor to recipient without stopping at the bank.

Nancy 8:26 AM  

Would you ever have guessed LAST TO LEAVE for the "person tasked with locking up"? Or PIANOS for "their players are often benched"? Or T BILL for "one maturing quickly, briefly"? Or ORGAN BANK for "your heart may go out to it"? Didn't think so. Me neither. I was onto NARCOLEPSY and ODOR EATER, but only after they started to fill in. Some of the toughest and most original cluing I've seen in any puzzle. Kudos.

Then there was the cAN/FAN trap for "Cooler" (10D) which I fell into. Until I realized there was no such bird as a ZEBRA CINCH.

I could have skipped EDNA and LOIS, one atop the other and neither of whom I ever heard of. I should know the menus at either Burger King or McDonald's, much less be required to compare them? But there was one bit of trivia that really piqued my curiosity: the 1939 movie banned in the Soviet Union. I searched my mind for 1939 movies. Why would they ban GWTW? Or The Wizard of Oz? Or It Happened One Night? Aha!!!! NINOTCHKA !!! Of course!

A crunchy and rewarding puzzle which took me much effort to finish.

QuasiMojo 8:28 AM  

My heart wasn't in it today. It was at the Organ Bank. But then it started beating again. My take away on the onion ring is that it is the one on the hamburger not the side order. Loved the rock and roll misdirect. And Narcolepsy. Slow start but fast time.

Z 8:30 AM  

Could not come up with “metonym,” so Thanks Rex.

Apropos of nothing, we liked our first Prius, so we bought another. Yep. We owned two Prii.

I felt about three decades too young for this puzzle. Hi & LOIS? Anne MEARA? PHIL Everly? A David NIVEN role from before I was born and a pre-WWII Movie? At least we got LANA Del Rey instead of LANA Turner. The PPP skews very 1959, though.

Six Z’s but only two U’s? The Mighty Masked One must be jealous today.


Got home last night from 10 days away. Going through the mail one of the colleges we donate to had sent us a thank you letter and a gift... A reusable metal straw with straw cleaner (looks like a pipe cleaner). Yes, I had quite a chuckle.

GILL I. 8:33 AM  

Nothing made me FlINCH or wince... instead, it gave me lots of the AHA's. You get on the constructor's wavelength and you're hot to TROT. Well that's what I was.
NIVEN first entry. I remember seeing "Around the World in 80 Days" at a Miramar movie theater in Havana. My whole family went to see it. It was quite the thing back in those days. The Cubans introduced those big epic films on a really wide screen and they touted it as if you were going to the opera. I remember sitting next to my dad and wearing my best dress. My parents were sticklers about dressing up for things like the circus and airplane travel.
Loved the dough nut clue. Loved all of this. AQUAMARINE off of EQUAL. One of my favorite stones. FUZZY NAVEL was new to me but it was getable. To this day, I don't understand why sweater FUZZ gets stuck there. Why not in the arm pit. Not to give too much away but my husband always has it. He wears lots of sweaters.
I learned the word ZAFTIG through crosswords. Much better than JOHN X's bosomy. If I ever get fat eating a ton of Burger King ONION RINGs then I want to be called ZAFTIG.
Glad Jeff called this a POW. Yesterday was good but this was better.

pabloinnh 8:33 AM  

"Pismire" is one of those words I knew right away and don't know why. Hey @BarbieBarbie-in some places around here, the NH/VT rivalry used to be referred to as The Newts vs. The Emmets.
Sorry I don't know the origin of that one, because it sounds like a good story.

Today I remembered,eventually, how to spell ZAFTIG (see also NINOTCHKA).

Really like the scrabbly aspects of this one and the long answers. Had in-laws that lived on ONEIDALAKE, probably not many of you can claim that one.

Wondering if JoeD will show up with some version of "All My Exes Live in Texas'.

Many thanks for a really fun Friday, TC. Well done you.

Dr. Haber 8:35 AM  

Why, look you, I am whipped and scourged with rods, Nettled and stung with pismires, when I hear Of this vile politician, Bolingbroke.

Henry IV, act 1, scene 3

Joe Dipinto 8:37 AM  

Fool if you think it's over
It's just begun

Wow, I thought this was crazy easy. Guess I was on its wavelength -- I don't know, but I sped through it. PHIL, LANA, NIVEN slid right in, then FUZZY NAVEL, ZAFTIG, ZEBRA (because what else is black and white and starts with Z?) FINCH, and AQUAMARINE couldn't land fast enough.

NINOTCHKA was obvious when I got to that section, as were NARCOLEPSY and ONEIDA LAKE. Everything seemed to fall into place from having just a letter or two. My one write-over resulted from putting in MEET for the track event, but that got sorted out quickly.

Lots of good fill. All the answers cited above, not to mention CHALK LINE, ORGAN BANK, LAST TO LEAVE, and much much else.

And hey, look who finally showed up, five days late! They should have clued 7d "Astronaut Aldrin, who was left out of Sunday's puzzle."

A top-notch Friday diversion from T. Charlson. I only regret that it was over too soon. Hopefully tomorrow's will be a tougher nut to crack.

I leave you with this little novelty number from the 1942 movie "Star-Spangled Rhythm", performed by Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour and Veronica Lake:

We came out to make the grade in moving pictures
We came out to mingle with the glamour gang
But we're sorry that we came
For our only claim to fame
GODDARD: Is a sweater
LAMOUR: A sarong
LAKE: And a peek-a-boo bang

Joe Welling 8:48 AM  

I remember PISMIRE from the TV show Kung Fu. One of Kwai Chang's enemies at the monastery called him PISMIRE as a sort of parody of Master Po's pet name for him, "Grasshopper."

Isn't it MUSTN'T rather than MUST'NT?

ghthree 8:48 AM  

As a heart transplant recipient, I would not be alive today of someone else's heart hadn't "gone out" to me in 2001. So I look on organ transplantation from an entirely different point of view from Rex's. Since the rest of my body is almost a half-century younger than my heart, there could be a lot of useful life in it when I die. I would be glad to pass it onto someone else. A partial payback.

@Susie Q: I get your point, technically. When I got my heart, I was in a hospital in Philadelphia. The donor was also in Philadelphia, so the heart itself traveled at most a few blocks (and might have actually been in the same building).

But if you check the Wikipedia page for UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing) you get a more complex picture. UNOS links many hospitals in different states. When a heart becomes available (i.e. when someone dies) word goes out about the blood type (and many other parameters) of the potential donor. Individual hospitals then respond by notifying UNOS that they have a matching potential recipient. So the heart (or at least a packet of information about it) probably "went out" over the Internet to the "Organ Bank." When UNOS found out that a local recipient was available, it steered the heart to me.

Joe Dipinto 9:13 AM  

Sorry @pablo, country music's not my for--uh, strong suit.

@Joe Welling -- yes, "mustn't" -- the apostrophe replaces the "o" in "not".

QuasiMojo 9:24 AM  

Addendum (ipodes?) if I were Russian I'd say you MUSTN'T see Ninotchka too. Garbo is even more overrated than "Oklahoma!" Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I recall that the people who live near ONEIDA LAKE were floating a petition to have it officially named one of the Great Lakes. I wonder what happened to that idea? @Nancy, other 1939 movies of note: Wuthering Heights; Dark Victory; Stagecoach; and one for Goddard-quoting Joe, "The Women."

xyz 9:26 AM  

Quick for me (somehow), but I needed to go to the search engine for NINOTCHKA (Crossing ZEKE and MUSTNT both uncertain) - a sensible answer given the clue, but wholly new to me. I'd have sussed those two in the end.

Bit by bit I worked through this puzzle and the noted time (not that it matters - the page tells me so) was on par with a Wed. for me, so a pretty good, maybe even a dare I say easy Friday. Once really problematic for me, Fridays are becoming my favorite.

Slowed by thinking ZAFTIG was ZOFTIG - what do I know about Yiddish, et. al., NYT disproportionally heavy with that stuff.

Seemingly a lot of ZZZZ's but hardly a snooze as was yesterday.

Charles Flaster 9:26 AM  

EZ Friday.
Loved ORGAN BANK—wonderful misdirect
Thanks TC

Seth 9:27 AM  

Probably like many people, I put in bILKS first. I got the rest of the grid, had an error, knew it was around the ridiculous bUSTNT, and just stared at it forever. Had to come here to see what I was missing...groan.

But the rest of the puzzle was great!

oldbizmark 9:34 AM  

Easy-medium for me, except for the SW corner, in which an initial ZEst in lieu of the correct ZEAL caused all sorts of problems. Did find that corner to be a bit much. Got lucky with LOIS after putting in FELT, otherwise, the NE might have been a lot harder. Enjoyed the fill. Curious if the clue for NARCOLEPSY would be too much for the PC crowd. Probably should have read the writeup first. Oh well.

Unknown 9:36 AM  

ghthree: Glad to hear your heart transplant story! Eighteen years! My husband only lived seven with his. The heart came from a younger woman just across the border, in Canada. He never liked to talk or think about it, and although it was a tremendous gift, it does come with emotional complications.

Anyway, I cringed a tiny bit filling in ORGANBANK.

Best wishes,


leah712 9:39 AM  

Burger King introduced onion rings in the 70's, when I was working there as a teenager. I remember a poster in the food-prep area, not visible to customers and intended to boost employee morale over our coup, with the Burger King, who in those days was short, climbing on a ladder to punch Ronald McDonald and the caption "We Beat Them To The Punch."

Ciclista21 9:43 AM  

Pismire – somehow I knew it was an ant, but I couldn’t figure out why such a stinky looking word would be an ant.

Wiktionary elucidates:

From Middle English “pissemyre,” equivalent to “piss” + “mire” (“ant”). So called due to the smell of anthills. Compare “pissant.”

So there's reason to hold your nose when encountering clues like this.

Carola 9:45 AM  

Fun! I'm a FOOL for the word ZAFTIG, so that, along with the wonderful EDNA Mdoe ("No capes!"), going in early put me in a festive solving mood, which sustained me through the rough patches (ZEBRA what? FUZZY what?). A patch-work sort of solve, with a special nod of thanks to PHIL Everly for helping me get into the lower tier.

Ready for more on "pismire"? I learned from the OED that its second meaning is "derogatory. An insignificant person; a person exhibiting behaviour or habits usually associated with the ant.". What? Aren't ants a model of social organization and staying on task?

@Gill I - Ah, the days of opulent movie palaces. Your memory of Around the World reminded me of going to an anniversary showing of Lawrence of Arabia in an appropriately grand downtown setting. That theater's doors have long been shuttered, and now we troop to the multiplex at the mall.

Dan, the Man 10:04 AM  

I talked to a friend who works professionally with gemstones. He says that maxixe being a variety of AQUAMARINE is incorrect. Both are beryls. Light blue beryl is aquamarine whereas dark blue beryl is maxixe. Apparently that subtlety is ncorrectly mentioned on the wiki page for beryl, and based on the description, it looks like the puzzle writer took the clue directly from that inaccuracy.

Dan, the Man 10:06 AM  

I spoke with my friend who works professionally with gemstones and the AQUAMARINE clue has an error. Aquamarine is a light blue variety of beryl as maxixe is a dark blue variety of beryl. To say maxixe is a type of aquamarine is incorrect. It looks like the writer took the cluing from an inaccuracy on the beryl wiki page.

Hartley70 10:13 AM  

ZEBRAFINCH scared me much more than ORGANBANK! Oh yes, they are cute little birdie pets but...Two quickly become ten. Ten quickly become twenty. You get the idea. My daughter and her husband are dealing with a flock. The scene reminds me of Tippi Hedren’s problem with no immediate end in sight.
Otherwise after a frisson of fear, I found this challenging and fun.

Z 10:21 AM  

@Quasimojo - A Great Lake? Uh, no. It might be a great lake, but definitely nothing to write HOMES about.

I think we can all agree that “Pismire” is a bist clue for ANT. I do wonder if the plural might be pismiropodes, though.*

That single ONION RING in your order of fries: Pleasant surprise or greatest surprise?

*Yes, I will beat this dead horse until it is the deadest horse ever. Why the plural debate amuses me so much is hard to explain, but it cracks me up.

jberg 10:42 AM  

Best puzzle ever. The very best part was the mule, SAL, crossing part of the Erie Canal.

A very close second was the NE corner. You just have to love all those Zs, plus a Q, and all done with beautiful long entries, stacked. I got lucky: when magpie didn't fit at 5A, I figured it must be the pied something -- but decided to check the crosses. I didn't think of ZAFTIG, but EQUAL seemed right -- and that would give me AQUAMARINE, so I started to write things in. Wow! I've never drunk a FUZZY NAVEL, and now that I know what's in it I probably never will, but it's a great entry. Even TAZO isn't too obscure.

Speaking of ZAFTIG, @John X, you raise a deep philosophical question. Why does any word mean what it does? Why does "word" mean word, for example? Something to ponder when you can't sleep at night.

If you don't live near it, ONEIDA LAKE is a Natick, I guess, but fairly crossed, and sort of inferrable as a body of water in New York.

@Nancy, I got PIANOS from the P, but MEARA took a lot longer. (Anyone notice that CRAnberry has the same number of letters as CRABAPPLE?) The others you mention took longer. And I almost put in fish EATERS as people who support the sole fishing industry. But how do you manage to remember what year a given movie was made in? Especially that long ago?

My parents got us a subscription to Disney comics when we were kids -- they considered it more wholesome than some of the others, which we weren't allowed to have in the house. Otherwise, ZEKE would have been tough.

@marty, you have a dialog like this, but mentioning the name of the person you are replying to. Many of us go back each day to see who responded to us, so it works out -- if you read all the comments, you will notice people doing this.

If they were all like this, I'd be a happy man.

Ethan Taliesin 10:42 AM  

That was a good one!

Only error I had was BILKS for MILKS, giving me the obviously wrong cross of BUSTNT. I should have fixed that before laying down the last letter but I didn't want to spend more time agonizing. Despite that singular failure, I still feel some degree of satisfaction because I was really challenged today.

Fantastic balance of arcane vocab and colloquialisms, and without overdoing the proper nouns. I appreciate that. Clever cluing on the easy stuff and more direct for the exotica.

Great puzzle.

Pro Tip:
Lately, I've been totally ignoring the I'm-not-a-robot/reCAPTCHA crap and just hit "Publish your comment." Always works for me.

Newboy 10:59 AM  

Wow! Kicked my butt today. Maybe a third of the spaces filled before Puzzle Lady beside me finished her printed copy. Some days, sigh! Gotta admit in looking back at comments above that it was a masterful Friday; well done Trenton 😳

GHarris 11:03 AM  

I would argue that the primary meaning of entail is involve and that demand is art best a secondary definition which I felt was unfair. Which reminds me, felt was one of the few gimmes for me along with sarong. Overall very difficult and could only be navigated with the aid of auto check.

GHarris 11:05 AM  

Btw on my way to Fenway on the Acela to see if I can resuscitate the Yankees.

Speedweeder 11:13 AM  

@Z - "nothing to write HOMES about" - very clever. My favorite comment of the day.

Tim Aurthur 11:17 AM  

Those two stacks are above average, to say the least.

albatross shell 11:36 AM  

I saw the Niven movie at Radio City. Maybe it was my first cinemascope. Splendid in any case. Also saw Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis and Vertigo there. Too young to fully appreciate that last one. My Mom had crushes on both actors.

Took close to an hour and a half and googled maxie and T was my 3rd choice on the final ZAFTIG TAZO cross. Z was my first, following the theme of the day. Is that cross an official natick? Hand up for staring at bUSTNT for a while. Excellent grid, wonderful cluing. If tomorrow is a lot harder, it will be trouble for me.

ALLTHATJAZZ NINOTCHKA CASTASPELL were the long ones that went in at first reading. A couple a crosses in on that last one. End of the week long answers are not infrequently easier than the a lot of the short answers. Enjoyed all those zeds and a complete alphabet.

Unknown 11:40 AM  

I think onion ring is valid as clued. For example, if some stranger takes one onion ring from my order, I am entitled to object by saying, “Hey,bud, Burger King sold ME that onion ring, not you!”

Noah Webster 11:40 AM  

@GHarris - I beg to differ:

entail verb
en·​tail | \ in-ˈtāl , en-\
entailed; entailing; entails
Definition of entail (Entry 1 of 2)
transitive verb

1 : to impose, involve, or imply as a necessary accompaniment or result

the project will entail considerable expense

Demand as a synonym for require may be a Saturday level degree of separation between the clue and answer, but that has nothing to do with the meaning of ENTAIL.

oisk17 11:46 AM  

Edna (the Incredibles??) above Lois (Trixie's mom??) slowed me down a bit, but this was mostly right in my "Boomer" zone. Enjoyed it very much, as it was rich in the kind of cluing that brings one from ??? to "OH!". (reason for going out a lot, for example.)

"Trot" for track event - not where I go to the track, but it brought back the old days of Roosevelt Raceway, and televised races from Yonkers. (My Dad would only go to Belmont, Jamaica, and Aqueduct, believing that harness racing wasn't always legit...) However, VERY few of the races at the "Trotters" were actually "trots." They were (and still are, AFAIK) almost all "paces."

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

If I remember Ms. Morrell from HS Creative Writing class accurately, the reason for so many redundancy in American vocab is simply that little of it was concocted just for it. Modern tech jargon excepted. So, we imported all kinds of words from all kinds of places (and not just Europe; see: algebra) multiple times. A language we really can't call our own. Make America White Again! Luv that two headed eagle with the golf clubs. Keeps our priorities straight. Never fade, always hit 'em with a hook.

nyc_lo 11:51 AM  

Kudos to the constructor for some totally obscure but still totally legit clueing and answers (well, maybe not ZEKE, but who’s counting?). Very satisfying puzzle, keep ‘em coming.

Birchbark 11:53 AM  

@Rex re "Burger King does not sell a single, stand alone ONION RING. I guarantee it." In fact they do, if you order French fries.

@Dr. Haber (8:35) -- Nice elevation of "pismire" to from its humble station to its place in the Shakespearian lexicon. Guessing that was a Hotspur rANT.

It feels like there should be a comma between ONEIDA and LAKE. It can't really be a Great Lake until you get the words in the right order.

Joe Dipinto 12:06 PM  

@Nancy -- I feel I must be anal and point out that "It Happened One Night" was 1934 -- Gable had GWTW in 1939, as you noted. @Quasi -- I've seen all the movies you mentioned too. I haven't seen NINOTCHKA, actually, but I agree about Garbo -- I never understood what the big deal was.

What? 12:13 PM  

Took some time (as usual) but finished. Lots of good stuff, especially fuzzy navel. I’ll order it next time in a cocktail lounge (or a bar) and see what comes out.
57A gimme for me as my wife and I took a self cruise along the Erie Canal (from a rental place). Terrific trip.

xitixen 12:30 PM  

@KevCo 2:52 - Never thought of words that way, and now I don't see how I could have not done so. Glimmer of an epiphany that I suspect will turn into one of those philosophical earworms that can enable so much procrastination. So thanks for that.

@BarbieBarbie 5:36 - This weird little factoid has enhanced my appreciation of the creators of The Lego Movie. Paints the main character in even deeper colors.

@JJ 5:46 - Based on your recommendation, I'm going to try the challenge of always calling ants "pismires" despite my skepticism that it will be fun. I won't be able to say whether it was worth it when I finish, because ghostwriting is, disappointingly, just an expression.

@Z 8:30 - Who is The Mighty Masked One?

@Joe Dipinto 8:37 - Good catch on Aldrin. Missed that.

@Seth 9:27 - Same. Exactly the same. They say great minds think alike. If no other types do, then we have way too much potential to live up to. And I have no excuse for my slow solve times.

And finally,
@marty 7:00 - Your comment is what prompted me to stop lurking and emerge long enough to inflict on the group an observation that you inspired. This format is sort of like a leaderless meeting, in which the talking stick is shoved on willing attendees as they walk in the door. Others can take it back and follow up, like I'm doing here, but that really changes the conversational flow from the Lower Nile to the Nile Delta, splitting and re-splitting until it's out to sea and the day is over. If you've ever read the Congressional Record (I'm rather a wonk at times, shuffling about in my rabbit holes) you'll recognize this format. Which may be why no one reads the Congressional Record, why out of millions we only make a few hundred people go there to participate, and why even those few hardly ever sit through the ordeal. At least it's not like C-SPAN, which parses the content out in real time, a snail's pace, and adds the dynamic visuals of guys in ties and a few women in pantsuits wandering about an ornate conference room. Even I can't take that for very long. Kinda makes one want to go buy a big island and make a brand new country just to experiment with emoji-based voting and AMA-style deliberations. I'd call it a pismirocracy, but it'd probably just be referred to as Anty-town.


johnk 12:42 PM  

Easy for me! No pop music (ok, one, but easy to fill), no TV shows. Also, few standard-issue items, and good clues for those (e.g., foofaraw for ado). I liked this.

Teedmn 12:46 PM  

"LAST one left" fits perfectly at 4D and was absolutely no help at all after LAST. Unlike Rex, I didn't even get FELT in the NW so LAST and LOIS and a lot of wrongness meant I had to back fill the NW as my final section to finish.

This whole thing played medium for a Friday. My favorite clues were for 59A, NARCOLEPSY, and the PIANOS clue, which I imagine could find its way onto @Lewis's top five of the week. (Black ink in the P square where I started to put in B-TEAMS at 43A, nixed by NINOTCHKA.)

Off the M of MEARA, I splatzed in Mogul as the Dough nut? MISER is better by far. And as a registered ORGAN donor, I didn't FlINCH at 38A but then, I'm probably a good 10+ years closer to my expected mortality than Rex is.

Nice job, Trenton. I always enjoy your themeless puzzles.

Timcj 1:10 PM  

Nice use of every letter in the alphabet.
And even after directing the movie “Antz,” I had never heard of “pismire.”

Runs with Scissors 1:40 PM  

Liked it. Gave me no toehoeld at first. Wandered aimlessly through the clues until things started to fall.

LAST one to go for a while...

ORGAN BANK went in easily. I'm a donor but they may not be useful when I'm done with them.


Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Mr. Cheese 1:53 PM  

I struggled but finished. Unusual for me on Fri/Sat. Early onI knew I was in for very clever clueing. That will always keep me going.
A most enjoyable slog.
Comments here added to my enjoyment

CDilly52 2:11 PM  

@John X and @JYQM the Yiddish is correct. Comes from the German “saftig” meaning soft. Used in German musical scores often.

CDilly52 2:18 PM  

I have had a theory about “pismire” for a long time and have no earthly idea whether it has merit or not. I had a friend who used it to mean “ant” in the context of some insignificant but very annoying “thing,” be it person, obligation, petty anything. He knew it meant any, but used it vernacularly. And since those bygone days I have heard it used similarly. “Get over it, just an annoying pismire.” (Redundant, I know). Anyone know for sure?

Maddiegail 2:26 PM  

@Joe Dipinto ... Apropos of nothing: Shouldn't that have been TURNER in a sweater? Just askin'.

CDilly52 2:39 PM  

The NW didn’t hang me up as badly as other places. Used to read “Hi and LOIS” as a kid and pulled that one out of the vault. The. TROT, SARONG, ATILT, GENE and the ORGAN part of ORGANBANK fell which helped me with the downs up there.

And this endeth easy. Was certain about GMAT and stubbornly refused to take it out for way too long. ALL THAT JAZZ was a total wild guess only because I play euchre.

All the zzzzs!! I kept looking for some theme related something because of the plethora of them.

And thanks, @LMS for the explanation of PISMIRE. I’m thinking my friend who introduced me to the word decades ago was essentially correct. He used it vernacularly to mean anything annoying that you would swat away or eradicate with a wave of the hand as a petty annoyance.

Excellent puzz.

QuasiMojo 2:41 PM  

@jberg, CranApple has the same letters too, which is why I wrote it in with confidence. Lol. @Joe, I liked Charisse much better in the musical version, Silk Stockings.

Fred Romagnolo 2:52 PM  

According to most afficionados, 1939 was the greatest year for movie classics. Also including "On Borrowed Time," in which PISMIRE is used repeatedly as a taunt. This puzzle had a lot of clever cluing (spellcheck rejects clueing), but crosses made it fair (eventually). GWTW won 8 Oscars (would have won a lot more by today's rules, i. e. no separate categories for song, or score, Steiner would have gotten score, but Wizard got song (Over the Rainbow) IMHO.

Anoa Bob 3:29 PM  

Agree with those who thought that this very fine puzzle CAST A SPELL on us, and in a good way.

I balked a bit at the clue and answer for 1D, "Pool surface" for FELT. "Pool table covering" is more accurate, but maybe that would be too easy for a Friday puzz. The covering that you'd find in a pool hall these days isn't actually FELT, which is made form wool, but is a synthetic fabric that plays way better and lasts much longer than FELT.

Felt, though, is still used to refer to the generic covering. Had a friend who owned a pool hall named FELT Physics, in Knoxville, TN, not too far up the road from CRAB Orchard, TN.

If you're driving through East Tennessee on Interstate 40, you might see a sign for CRAB Orchard. Since it has a population of around 750, don't blink or you might miss it. It was named that by pioneers passing through the Cumberland Gap because of the abundance of wild CRAB APPLE (31D) trees in the area.

NARCOLEPSY (59A) is a serious disorder that is suspected to be the cause of many accidents on the road and in the workplace. The name means "sleep attack" and that's exactly what it is, the sudden, uncontrollable onset of sleep during normal waking hours. One major cause is thought to be sleep apnea (which we see now and then in an xword grid).

Elizabeth Warren 3:37 PM  

ONEIDA being a Native American Tribe ought to be a gimme with a coupe of letters already in the grid, no?

imnotbobby 3:37 PM  

Same, this was a top 10 time for me. I thought it was a good puzzle but every quad fell into place simply.

Z 3:38 PM  

@xitixen - He prefers to stay Anonymous... & Masked, if U get my drift.

Birchbark 3:53 PM  

@xitixen (12:30) -- Nice observations, but especially as to river flows and congressional annals. As for this format, I'm okay with things as they are. You can stop anywhere and go deep, or miss something (or be missed) entirely, and it's all good. Just like C-Span back in the day when I had cable.

A long time ago, a boss I had said "It's just a @&$! job." He was talking about both of our jobs, which were good, dynamic, stressful, rewarding, etc. I have taken that advice to heart and apply it in all sorts of contexts, including crossword puzzles and blog-comment formats. It frees us to see the bees at work in the meadow, no matter the names of the challenges that surround us.

I hope you will continue to weigh in and trust your ability to make the nice leaps of metaphor we see above.

Fred Wollam 3:54 PM  

Alright already... now, CAN it!

Fred Romagnolo 4:01 PM  

@Elisabeth Warren: Pocahontas would certainly know.

imnotbobby 4:11 PM  

Same, like super-fast but I think that large variance is actually a good marker for construction and cluing quality. Good puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 4:38 PM  

@Maddiegail 2:26 -- True, but Turner wasn't at Paramount. I don't know what the Goddard-sweater association was. The other two were obvious.

RooMonster 5:27 PM  

Hey All !
Nice puzzzzzzle today! Including three F's. We found YesterPuz's missing pangram.

Liked the Scrabbleishness of todays offering. That SE corner clue-wise was a Huh? fest, with KEEL and ZEKE as WOEs. (Or should that be WsOE?)

Managed to get puz 100% correct today, with only three writeovers, tArO-SAGO, mCat-ECON, ETa-ETD. Somehow didn't seem as easy as that while solving. So a pleasant romp. And that's some high praise from someone who likes themed puzs more than themelesses. (themelesi?)

TWIX - I prefer the Left. :-)

Overall, I FELT good about the puz. I MUST(nt) say.


daveyhead 5:39 PM  

I found this remarkably easy for a Friday, beating my regular time (which I do not care about) by 12 minutes (I’m no Rex Parker)

Also, I will shortly celebrate my 15th anniversary of a double lung transplant, always bittersweet as those transplants are zero-sum. So I was thrilled to see ORGANBANK in the grid, and I Implore everyone to tell your loved ones that you’d like to be a donor should the awful situation arise.

Nancy 5:59 PM  

I never understood the Garbo-mania thing either, but then I'm not a guy. So imagine how delighted I was to see her dissed today by two of the most discerning men on the blog. Way to go, fellas -- I applaud your excellent taste in female movie stars.

@Joe D -- Shoulda checked my 1939 movie list on Google before posting, but didn't. Thanks for the "It Happened One Night" correction. And thanks @Quasi for the mouthwatering list of other 1939 films. What a year!

@Fred Romagnolo (2:52) -- That was a really interesting insight into the best score/best song award situation as it existed in 1939. But even though I loved GWTW infinitely more than "Wizard of Oz," I'm not sure I agree that it should/would have won Best Score if that had been a category back then. Wizard had a lot of other excellent Arlen songs in addition to "Rainbow". And GWTW had the Tara theme (which became the Million Dollar Movie theme) but what else did it have, music-wise?

P.S. I am GOBSMACKED by the number of bloggers today who knew the word "pismire" meant ant. In fact I'm GOBSMACKED by the number of bloggers who knew the word "pismire" at all.

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

The Erie Canal is entirely within NY State and connects the Hudson River to Lake Erie. Mid-state, it makes use of the east-west length of Oneida Lake (not Lake Oneida).

Runs with Scissors 6:52 PM  

@Nancy - I'm truly not being snarky, or disrespectful, or an ass, but how can you not know pismire? It's not exactly obscure to anyone widely read.

Genuinely curious.


DrBB 7:09 PM  

Pismire from Middle English "piss," alluding to the smell of an anthill (I've never smelled one personally) plus "mire" for "ant." And yes, it's basically the same thing as "pissant" which displaced it after the 17th C, though why "mire" fell out of currency when "ant" stuck around is a mystery, not being exactly a recent coinage itself but going back to Old English "emmet" which is also crosswordese for "ant."

Fred Romagnolo 7:24 PM  

@Nancy: Rainbow would have won over any movie song that year; but Steiner would have won for score; don't overlook the music for the great Atlanta railroad station scene with the dead and wounded, ending with Maryland, My Maryland and the Confederate battle flag.

Nancy 7:49 PM  

Never heard the word in my life, @Scissors. Not sure I ought to have heard it or when I ought to have heard it or where I ought to have heard it or from whom. From a biology teacher? From a friend at a picnic who yells "Watch out for those pismires, they're after your sandwich"? As for "widely read", what should I have read that I didn't read? A Kafka novel? Darwin's "Origin of the Species"? The book upon which the movie "Antz" was based? I was an editor in publishing and I assure you I'm very widely read. And that I never once stumbled upon "pismire." Sorry.

GILL I. 11:19 PM  

Yay, @Nancy. I especially liked a vision of the picnic. The pismire after your tuna sandwich.
I'm having a cocktail now. Care to join me over some pissant roe?

Joe Dipinto 11:36 PM  

@Fred R -- I was pretty sure they did have some kind of Best Score award by 1939, so I checked the Academy Awards Database as well as "Inside Oscar", an "unofficial history" of the awards. In fact there were three music awards at that point: for Song, Score, and Original Score. This set-up started with the 1938 awards and continued until 1940.

How films were slotted into one scoring category or the other isn't really clear. The former category included scores that utilized unoriginal material, it seems. For 1939 "Stagecoach" won the Best Score award and "Wizard Of Oz" won the Best Original Score award for Herbert Stothart. Max Steiner was nominated in the latter category for GWTW but lost. Both categories had more than 10 nominees.

From 1934 to 1937 there had been only two awards, for Song and Score. For the 1941 awards the categories changed again, to Song, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture, and Scoring of a Musical Picture. That set-up continued more or less intact until the 1961 awards. (For some reason 1957 had only one scoring category.)

For 1962 the names were changed *again*, and we had Song, Music Score--Substantially Original, and Scoring of Music--Adaptation or Treatment. In 1968 the scoring awards went back to Musical and Non-Musical categories.

I won't continue, but you get the idea. I expect the changes were determined by the kinds of films prevalent in each era.

Hank Awesome 11:49 PM  

@Runs With Scissors 6:52 PM

I’m not being snarky or disrespectful but everything you know is less than what I’ve merely forgotten and I’ve never heard PISMIRE before either. But please, keep making those blathering comments. You do you.

DrBB 11:52 PM  

@Nancy: you've heard the word "pissant" though, haven't you? Eymologically two forks of the same thing.

albatross shell 12:11 AM  

Pismire has Shakespearean immunity.
Henry IV part 1 act1 scene 3

Hotspur (Henry Percy). Why, look you, I am whipp'd and scourged with rods,
Nettled and stung with pismires, when I hear
Of this vile politician, Bolingbroke.
In Richard's time,—what do you call the place?—
A plague upon it, it is in Gloucestershire;
'Twas where the madcap duke his uncle kept,
His uncle York; where I first bow'd my knee 580
Unto this king of smiles, this Bolingbroke,—
When you and he came back from Ravenspurgh.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

No. It comes from “Zaft” meaning juice.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

I was with you on ENTAIL except that I knew that it also had something to do with legal matters. Just now, I am reminded that it pays to read the dictionary sometimes. Turns out that entail meaning is more like “must involve.”

jayhawkprof 12:20 PM  

You solved today's it as I do (and highly recommend) every day: On a clipboard, in a comfy chair, untimed. If in morning, over coffee; if in afternoon or early evenings, with a good, cold beer (IPA). Much more pleasurable and relaxing. Cheers.

Peter P 10:59 AM  

Little late, but noticed the "zaftig" side discussion. @Jyqm and @Anonymous 8:35 AM are correct. It is derived from the word meaning "juicy," not "soft." Here is a citation:

"zaftig (adj.)
"alluringly plump, curvaceous, buxom," 1937, from Yiddish zaftik, literally "juicy," from zaft "juice," from Middle High German saft "juice" (see sap (n.1))."

I've always liked this word, and I'm not sure why. I discovered it in college while going through the Zs in the dictionary for who knows what reason. That word (along with the word "zedonk," which apparently is a zebra-donkey hybrid) stuck. "Zaftig" I've had opportunity to use in crosswords and conversation a few times. "Zedonk" not so much.

kitshef 10:41 PM  

You don't meet a lot of EDNAs these days.

ZEKE was new to me.

Never saw the clue for ANT, as all the crosses fell in easily.

spacecraft 11:50 AM  

Wow, the average scrabble count over the entire grid is an astounding 1.9, which may be a record. You'd think that would ENTAIL ("Demand" is a legit enough clue, but oh boy: getting it!) some questionable fill, yet there was very little strain on the puzzle. This is an expertly made piece.

I had a major misstep at 26-down: Quotable 3-letter chap starting with M gotta be Mao, right? I was having trouble with 29-across anyway, so that part was knotty. Finally came up with

"I've got $40,000 saved up, and it's all in TBILLs, earning interest. I figure I've got three more years on my back..." Ah, Jamie Lee, wouldn't I care to help YOU with your rucksack?!!

But I digress. Actually, DOD today, with most honorable mention to the above JLC, and to Anne MEARA, is Maria Bello, easily the prettiest JACK ever.

Lots of fun hacking through these late-week style clues. The Scrabbliness actually made the job easier; I put it at not much over medium, for the day. Had I found MLK earlier, I'd have called it a straight medium. Beats me how the name ZEKE seeped into my brain as the BBW's name, but it did. Poor "NINOTCHKA," an excellent film, had the bad timing of being released in the same year as both GWTW and TWOO.*

When ATILT is the worst thing you can find, it's a great puzzle. It earns the second half of a super-rare occurrence: back-to-back eagles.

Burma Shave 1:46 PM  


to take EDNA’s RAZORBACK as a prank,


rondo 2:00 PM  

I liked it all except that cross that ended up turning my CRAnberry into a CRABAPPLE which turned my nounS into VERBS. Inkfest. Obviously I got the SW last.

That coulda been Mean GENE Okerlund next to RIC Flair. Highbrow tuff.

The ‘High by the Beach’ video is a bit odd, but yeah baby LANA Del Rey does just fine.

Really good puz. IWANNASEE more like this.

Diana, LIW 3:58 PM  

My early dnf, due to having to look up a slew of PPP that was unknown!!!, led to an enjoyable bit of wordplay. So, for me, I'd give it a mixed review. Less trivia, more wordplay, please - it's obvious you could do it!!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 4:55 PM  

Great puzzle as was yesterday's which I didn't comment on, just because. Returned yesterday from a wine-tasting trip and I actually stuck to tasting rather than just guzzling which is my wont.

I didn't check but my impression is that both today's and yesterday's puzzle were pangrams. Worth noting as well as the consecutive eagles from @Spacey.

leftcoast 6:43 PM  

After my non-finish, looked for some other way of entertaining myself with this puzzle.

Saw eleven sets of double letters -- PP, RR, EE, TT, ZZ(3), EE, LL(3): Voila! PRETZEL spelled out not once but twice!

(Forget about those double N's.)

leftcoast 7:01 PM  

@Diana, I agree with you on the issue of PPP trivia vs. wordplay A smattering of PPP is okay and expected but too often used as a lazy way of making a puzzle more difficult, IMO.

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