2002 George Clooney film set in space / FRI 9-6-19 / Espana (old colonial domain) / Sci-fi character who claims fluency in more than six million forms of communication / California county containing Muir Woods

Friday, September 6, 2019

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Challenging (7:20) (so ugly)

THEME: sadly, yes

Word of the Day: ANNA Nordqvist (16A: Nordqvist of the L.P.G.A.) —
Anna Maria Nordqvist (born 10 June 1987) is a Swedish professional golfer who plays on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour. She has won two major championships: the 2009 LPGA Championship and the 2017 Evian Championship. (wikipedia)
• • •

Life is too short for themed Fridays. This is especially true when the themes are this thin and stupid. A bunch of snacks? You replaced my Friday themeless, my beloved breezy Friday themeless, with a bunch of *&#$!ing snacks. I hope someone paid you for product placement, because otherwise this makes absolutely no sense. First, it's just not a theme. No, it's not. You could never, ever sell this as a theme. "Hey, I have this theme idea." "What is it?" "Snack items!" "OK, good, go on ..." "No, that's it. Just some snack items. Symmetrically placed snack items. But get this ... [giggles at self] ... for 3 Musketeers I'm going to put a "3" in the box! A number! Not a letter! Oh, that'll bring the house down." "... .... [wide-mouthed stare] ... ..." "It's good, right?" The whole thing is made worse by being clued at a Saturday level, and not just that, but ... like a 1997 Saturday level. Too much "watch me trip you up with my 'clever' clue for LEADDOGS (?)," not enough, you know, good fill and fun clues. Arcane and tedious, simultaneously. IZAAK crossing SUZY is a really terrible cross. A Truly Terrible Cross. But this thing was sinking from 1-Across, to be honest (1A: Blue dye => that crosswordese you used to know but forgot because mercifully constructors don't use it anymore, ugh). HISS doesn't even begin to get at it.

Seriously, that clue for LEAD DOGS (20A: Heads to Nome, say) is flagrantly bad. It's ungrammatical. Either the "to" in the clue makes absolutely no sense, or LEAD DOGS is a verb phrase that I was totally unaware of until this moment. That clue is garbage. It's a fireable offense. But that's just one bad moment. The whole NW is a clusterf*$% of terrible. First three Downs, barf. I was lucky enough to live thru the age of LYNDE, but that's gonna play super obscure to lots of people younger than me. ACTS is obnoxious, since the answer should clearly be LAWS (5D: Bills no more). The DEE clue, also trash (32A: Back on board?) (get it? 'cause DEE is the last letter, or "back" (!?!?!), of the word 'board'? Eh? EH?). USGA is an ugly initialism, and also repeats letters from L.P.G.A., which is in the ANNA clue (16A). You clued EDITOR as [Important movie credit]!?!?!? Jeez louise, try Harder. Be Specific. Give your clues Interest. I don't know what a PLUMB RULE is. I had PLUMB LINE (which fit, because of course it did). Ironically, this puzzle showcases tasty treats, while being decidedly not one. I'd rather eat HERRING butter cups. Saturday can't get here fast enough.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:10 AM  

Top half easy, bottom tough, partly because the Standalone App I used didn’t like the 3. After much grid staring to figure out what was wrong, I took out the 3 and put in a T and got the congrats screen. I’m with Rex on this one, especiallyI the LEAD DOGS clue.

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

So ... I'm gettin' the feeling that Rex didn't care for this puzzle. My position, however, is this: Anything that contains PEANUT BUTTER CUPS - desserts, main courses, crosswords, check-out stands, whatever - is all right in my book. Love me a PBC!

I, too, had PLUMBline (and had to google-confirm RULE as I'd never heard of it). And I didn't mind that Friday had a theme. Why that is such a deal to some folks I simply don't understand. Oh well; to each his own.

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

...okay but actually I'd eat herring butter cups.

puzzlehoarder 12:19 AM  

A very good Friday from my favorite constructor. The difficulty level was up to his usual standards. I wound up with a SUZI crossing LINDE dnf. At the store I can't even look at crap like 13A. It really cost me today. I'll take some consolation in getting the sound right.

Special K 12:48 AM  

So with you. Themed weakly, some super awkward cluing for no good reason, and this one lonely digit. Wtf. I’m grumpy now.

Anonymous 12:59 AM  

I couldn’t believe the 3 Musketeers answer ... it's like the others but so so not. Terrible puzzle.

Unknown 1:04 AM  

Super frustrating. I refused to put in C3PO because I had a strong conviction that there couldn’t be a rebus on a Saturday. I struggle to even call it a rebus when only one box was non traditional. You saw a theme with junk food. I thought the candy was a coincidence as again I didn’t realize Friday could be themed. Had to pull up your blog to confirm I am not senile.

Graham 1:20 AM  

Is anyone else having trouble with the iPad app? I’ve got a letter-perfect grid, but it’s not accepting.

JOHN X 1:37 AM  

This was a pretty good Friday puzzle. It was tricky and devious and hard, and I like that. I don’t give two shits whether it was themeless or not, I don’t care if it’s a pangram, the dimensions are meaningless to me; I want a challenge, not a powderpuff softball.

You can find “breezy” puzzles in People magazine. If you read the issue first all the answers are “fresh” and “in the language” of today’s pop culture. Then you can just rip right through the puzzle without having to think much.

David G. 2:27 AM  

Argh. DNF on LiNDE x SUZiQCAKES, both of which I’m old enough to know better. Y oh Y?

I actually liked the grid for this puzzle.

I shared many of Rex’s gripes, but less intensely. Reminded me of when I was learning to be an editor. My professors an mentors were adamant on one rule: Before you criticize someone’s work, find one nice thing to say about. No matter how bad it is: Just one small thing. It signals to the reviewee that you are capable of being fair, and resets your brain when you really want to rip into something. When I read a really tough review by Rex, I wonder whether it would be a good rule for him to follow.

I’m curious to know what others think.

Harryp 2:38 AM  

I went round and round trying to find my error, and finally gave up. Of course it was SUsY/IsAAK! Proofreading is not my thing.

chefwen 2:56 AM  

Disagree with Rex on the difficulty rating, thought it was one of the easier Friday puzzles. I do agree with the quality statements

My biggest flub was at 49D where I already had the first E in place and plopped down Elmer as in Fudd, isn’t he of the “Paddy Tat” fame? And here I thought I was being clever, wrong.

Hand up for PLUMB line. CORIOLES was a new word for me, thank you crosses.

Loren Muse Smith 3:42 AM  

I always like the occasional Friday themed puzzle. Just yesterday morning I was looking for some puzzles to take with me to a prison next week for a friend (inmate who recommended me to come speak) who likes good puzzles. I specifically hunted down two of my all-time favorite Fridays, both themed Fridays by that sneaky sneak Peter Collins.

My reaction to the 3 was what Rex described but for real. Ok – well it didn’t bring the house down. But it brought a smile to my face.

I appreciated that two of the snacks were plural and two weren’t. We have a remarkably ugly cookie jar-ish pig on a motorcycle, full of candy, and there are always little individual Reese’s cups among the treasure. I expect people will complain about that singular, but my husband and mother-in-law can grab just one and be fine. Me, not so much; I usually do 5 or 6.

Also – the names of the snacks all end in a different word for the food item they are: CAKE, CUP, BAR, COOKIE. So something like M&MS or BUTTERFINGER or GUMMY BEARS would have made the group feel less tight.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to think Yoda before I saw the 3. And Gravity before POLARIS.

Misspelled SATIRISTS as a weird zen/Faulkner mashed up “satorists” ‘cause I was watching with disbelief the sharpie map story I missed yesterday. Of course I was reminded that during the Greenland stunner, CNN prefaced their story with This is not an Onion headline. The Onion SATIRISTS are geniuses both for the stories themselves as well as the pictures they choose to accompany the stories. That one of the weather map yesterday is a perfect Onion picture.

Mark me down as liking the clue for DEE.

Yeah, I had a dnf with “Susy Q Cakes/Isaac. Without this site, I would have lived the rest of my life not realizing this. Bad cross, sure, but nothing to ruin my day over.

Anonymous 4:17 AM  

I'm a novice solver, but I thought it was a pretty easy Friday. But I always tend to think if I can finish a Friday it must be on the easier side. Felt good to see Rex call it challenging.

I'm too young to remember LYNDE. But spelling SUZY with a Z and Y made sense to me - products are frequently trying to have cutesy spelling, or spelling the makes the pronunciation immediately clear. Susi, Suzi, Susy all looked funny to me and I thought it must be the ZY combo.

I was stuck on DEE for a bit. Before I solved the down UKULELE, I was convinced it was DEL. Thinking "Back on a board?" meant backspace or delete on a keyboard. Either that or AFT like the back on board a ship.

Agreed that the theme felt ho-hum, and was odd to have a single rebus/number, but I'm happy I solved it.

Anonymous 6:37 AM  

Unknown 1:04: (it's friday).

Jon Alexander 6:38 AM  

Agree w Rex on the lack of “theme-yness”

As far as LEAD DOGS goes, I interpret it to mean “lead” as in alpha dog or dog at the head of the sled train...dunno if this is a thing or not but that is how I parsed it out given the clue. That being said.....it is still a terrible clue/answer combination.

floatingboy 7:09 AM  

Normally I think that thou dost protest too much, but not today. HATED IT.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Aren’t DOSIDOs girl scout cookies? Isn’t that an unthemed themer?

I found this furiously difficult, and finished with an error at IsAAC/SUsY. I knew IZAAK Walton had a non-standard spelling, but once I got the ‘K’ I thought I was safe.

Some of the difficulty was due to tough, but solid cluing. ACTS, ROPE.

Some was due to unknowns like SABOT, SOLARIS.

A bit was due to just plan bad cluing. RAKES, DEE, WIRETAP.

DEE and WIRETAP could have spoiled the experience, but on balance the fun of the challenge won out.

Small Town Blogger 7:22 AM  

“Heads to Nome” I interpreted as “to a person in Nome, heads are leaddogs.

amyyanni 7:26 AM  

This didn't spark the joy of crossword solving for me. A case of colliding wavelengths, perhaps. Did get and liked C3PO and ukulele. TGIF, all.

sf27shirley 7:35 AM  

Could someone explain why the answer to honey 38A is BAE? What is a bae?

Nicole 7:37 AM  

In the Wordplay column the constructor wrote they were surprised to see this on a Friday because it was written and clues for a Wednesday. No. Listing a few sugary foods does not a theme make. It wouldn’t even constitute a reasonable grocery for list for Buddy the Elf.

Joe R. 7:40 AM  

I got double-Naticked by the SUsiQCAKES crossing IsAAK and LiNDE. I’ve never eaten a SUZYQCAKE, I’ve never heard of IZAAK Walton, and while my brain was somehow able to come up with Paul LiNDE as a plausible guess, I’ve never seen him and know nothing about him, certainly not the way he spells his last name.

Suzie Q 7:45 AM  

I had nothing to do with those cakes.

Birchbark 7:45 AM  

IZAAK Walton's "The Compleat Angler" (1653) is probably the most reprinted book on fishing. Put that in your PEANUT BUTTER CUP and smoke it.

The CORIOLIS effect is one of the best things we have going for us.

If someone asks me why I'm wearing KHAKIs today, I'll tell them the puzzle made me do it.

QuasiMojo 7:45 AM  

Filled it all in perfectly but the app says DNF, too. Close but no cigar. How does one turn that thing off?

I put in RED TERRIER first. I am not up on dog breeds. :)

YODA before whatever. Stick it in your CORIOLIS.

Otherwise an enjoyable romp.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Right-on Rex! A lame theme and hideous fill. I can't remember a puzzle I hated more than this one -- tedious and inane. And the product placement Rex refers to is reprehensible. I'm really surprised that The Times approved this garbage.

SJ Austin 7:53 AM  

Friendly reminder: if you filled the grid, you did not get a DNF (did not finish). If you have an error, you FWE: finished with an error. Be encouraged, friends!

Eric Trigere 7:59 AM  

Agree with Rex! A lame theme and hideous fill. Solving this puzzle was pure torture. And the product placement is reprehensible. Why did The Times publish this garbage?

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

or...DNFC Did Not Finish Correctly

mmorgan 8:05 AM  

I don’t eat any of those snacks (hate hate hate peanut butter, sorry @Joaquin), but the puzzle was fine to good. I agree with @JOHN X. I really liked clues such as Heads to Nome? And I think ACTS is a perfectly fine answer for 5D. But I also really enjoyed Rex’s rant. He’s often very entertaining when he loathes a puzzle.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

If you want to say ‘Babe’ but are just too tired to pronounce the final ‘b’ then you are left with ‘Bae.’ :-)

Z 8:20 AM  

Tell us what you really think...

@David G - That’s the difference between an EDITOR and a critic.

@Small Town Blogger - Yep. Or “on the way to Nome (during the Iditarod) the head (of the sled) are LEAD DOGS).” No problem with the clue, here.

@sf27shirley - Not really, other than that BAE is modern slang for “best friend” - so “honey” as in “Honey, I’m home.” But explain it? No idea where it came from.

@SJ Austin - Uh, each person’s definition is their own. So if a FWE isn’t a DNF in your book, fine. In my book, that SUsY Q CAKES in my grid makes it a DNF. It’s also a DNF in my book if I had to look something up. But that’s me.

ANIL at 1A is something to be avoided. 1A is where almost everyone one starts, avoiding ese there seems like a no brainer “don’t do this.” Otherwise, what Rex said with the volume turned down from a 10 to a 4

pabloinnh 8:21 AM  

Another Grumpy Primate Friday, what else is new. If crosswords enraged me so frequently I think I'd find another hobby, although I realize that some people enjoy their anger (see any number of college football and/or basketball coaches). I can almost always find something to enjoy, today it was the 3, which may have violated some sacred rebus rule. So what?

LMS's tale of having handy candy reminds me of my teaching days when I used to keep a bag of the mini York Peppermint Patties in a desk drawer. I used them for prizes (OK, and dessert) when we were playing games in class--hangman in Spanish is fun, so is Pictionary, and some others.
One day a student had a win and I said come here and opened the drawer and gave him a mint and he said "Thanks--do all the teachers keep prizes in their desks?" and I got to say--"Only the good ones." Har, as we say on this blog.

Fun enough for a Friday, MD, but I'd try to tamp down the cleverness quotient on a couple of the clues, as has been pointed out.

Matthew G. 8:24 AM  

Some days Rex is too cranky. Today he is not too cranky. This grid was an intentional insult to all a Friday should be.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

I'm with Shirley, and don't recognize 'bae' as a word. Maybe that just means I'm old.

And what's up with 'alum'? Isn't it 'alumn'? When I look up 'alum', I get "a colorless astringent compound that is a hydrated double sulfate of aluminum and potassium", which is what I'd expect if I knew more chemistry.

Z 8:28 AM  

@Pabloinnh - “Only the good ones.” I love it.

Lewis 8:30 AM  

As one not conversant in this genre of snack foods, I found this puzzle particularly challenging, and made it my QUEST to conquer it. There were some uncomfortable silences in my solve -- long, almost-quit moments, where BAD SEED MaGoogle whispered in my ear, "ASK ME" -- that at the last moment were Saved By The Yell, that "Eureka!" feeling that comes when the answer to an inscrutable clue hits me.

On my way through, I loved the the playful clues, like those for UKELE, METERS, LEAD DOGS, and ESSES, as well as the tough ones.

Grateful for this puzzle that Mark made with a Twinkie in his eye while up to all his usual Twix.

Lewis 8:32 AM  

That LEAD DOGS clue, [Heads to Nome, say], maybe refers to the Iditarod dog-led sled race, that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome.

Unknown 8:37 AM  

I’m having the same problem as GRAHAM. My iPad won’t accept my completed grid as correct. Can anyone help?

Rube 8:43 AM  

Right on. It's a puzzle... A game designed to test ingenuity or knowledge. I don't know what a plumb rule is and I was thinking about lpga and I have not seen yhe movie Solaris all on that west side. But I solved it. Isn't that why we do these?

GILL I. 8:50 AM  

Where to start? I'm getting a bit like @Rex in that I look forward to Friday. I so want my Friday to have "una poca de gracias." This was "un limon."
I keep a very pretty glass bowl full of Lindor chocolates. That's about as far as I go when it comes to all these snacky type things. Never heard of SUZY QuAKES. Yup, that's how I wrote it in thinking 5D was AUTS. Bills no more?
The cluing was just so off to me. I don't mind hard but the cutesy ness was a mess. Why do you clue WIRE as a suffix with kitchen? Isn't it PLUMB RULE with an R at the end - as in ruler? CORIOLIS?/SOLARIS? So Juvenal and Horace are SATIRIST? That whole NW section was a big huh. Lots of trivia that remains out of my realm.
I did manage one smile today. MARIN. When I left SFO, I moved to San Rafael. I had a wonderful apartment overlooking the canal. My commute to SFO was on a ferry; took all of 20 minutes - no traffic. Coming back, everyone would line up at the ferry bar and order Cutty Sark on the rocks. The bartender knew what everyone liked to order. I made lots of friends on that ferry ride.

Randy (Boulder) 8:59 AM  

I don't understand the gripe about "to" forcing SLED DOGS to be a verb.

If the clue were, say, "Buses to Omaha" with the answer "Greyhounds," Greyhounds could be a noun.

Hungry Mother 9:04 AM  

I refused to see that the ‘S’ should have been a ‘Z’ until I turned the red letters on. DOH!

Nampa Bob 9:12 AM  

Gotta agree with Rex about this poor example, though I did finish in a Wednesday-ish time.
Just some awful clues.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  


Hungry Mother 9:15 AM  

I’ve got a 24 hour running event coming up and I ordered vegan peanut butter cups as a motivator for my last 10 miles. Goal is 50 miles. The event is twenty-four 5Ks on a trail loop, each starting on the hour. Fun stuff.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

Talk about your junk-filled puzzles. This is a junk-food-filled puzzle and it would probably rot my teeth if I tried to do it...but I won't. Don't you think there might be a better way to spend my morning than wondering about a lot of snack items I don't eat and have probably never even heard of? I can think of 3,874 better ways to spend my morning and I shall choose one and get on with it right now. I'm dropping this puzzle with only 6 answers filled in -- which is unheard of for me. THUD.

Sir Hillary 9:22 AM  

ASPER usual, @Rex turns a correct premise into an absurdity by going way over the top (although I suspect he was chuckling while writing the paragraph beneath the embedded video). Still, his premise remains correct -- this is a lousy Friday puzzle. Bummer.

GILL I. 9:27 AM  

@Anony..9:13. Oops. B ut there is kitchen WIRE, no?
Also...I'm going to second @Rex on what he says about a crossword's either 1A or 1D. I, and probably like everyone else, always start at the top. If my first entry is something old and moldy, you've already put me in a mood I might not like. That's on me. I always hope constructors take some heed. Make your first entry sing...ANIL is as dull as AS PER.. My dos centavos.....

mathgent 9:45 AM  

Just to balance the record here a bit, I liked it very much. Another quality work by Mark Diehl. Good sparkle (CORIOLIS, NUEVA, UKULELE, PLUMBRULE, "Satan's spawn," C3PO). Smart cluing. And only four Terrible Threes.

7D reminds me of how sexy Marilyn was in that Billy Wilder classic. Her best role? I've seen it several times and I may watch it again tonight.

SouthsideJohnny 9:50 AM  

@Graham (and to the other iPad users). I solved it on the NYT iPad app and it worked fine. Check for the Z in IZAAK - several have mentioned that as a trouble spot. I inadvertently entered a numeric 0 instead of an O once and it drove me absolutely bonkers (similar to the effect that today’s puzzle had on Rex, lol).

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

A lot of other "wrongness" here too. "Suzy Q cakes" is not a thing. The snacks are called "Suzy Q's". You don't get to just drop the apostrophe S and name it "Suzie Q cakes." That's like cluing "peanut butter cup maker" as Reese. "Pair of 11s" also awful. And "Listen here!" for wiretap.

QuasiMojo 10:00 AM  

Turns out I did have an actual DNF due to spelling Suzy wrong. Mea culpa.

xyz 10:03 AM  

Rubbish. I've learnt to use it too! BAE! ugh ugh ugh I cringe every time I knee-jerk that crapanswer

OREO still finds a way to make this grid with a single numeral for no apparent reason

plus I absolutely loathe Peanut butter now that I am no longer 12

I generally really like Friday. Not. Today.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

@sf27shirley - BAE = Before Anyone Else (how young folks these days address their boy/girlfriend)

Cheerio 10:08 AM  

I loved this! Thanks Mark Diehl! I agree with the question about whether "Listen here!" works for wiretap, but the other cluing misdirects puzzles etc were awesome. Pair of 11s - great! Sabot, Coriolis, Great! C3PO - Great!Lead dogs - Great!

aslightrain 10:15 AM  

i don't remember who asked about 'bae' and 'alum' but here's an explanation of each:

'bae' is a term for a boyfriend or girlfriend, especially when addressing them - essentially, a pet name. It is especially popular in hip hop lyrics and on social media. It seems to be short for 'baby' or 'babe;' cf., 'boo' as in 'my boo' or even 'beau' which is derived from French 'beau garçon' (pretty boy). Terms of endearment, as well as nicknames in general, are often improvised by forming diminutives which lengthen the word or by making the form of the word itself more diminutive by reducing it to a monosyllable. This linguistic phenomenon is known as hypercorism.

'alum' is a truncated form of both 'alumnus' and 'alumna' which enables one to refer to a graduate without reference to gender.

Newboy 10:21 AM  

I learned that “Bae is an acronym that stands for: Before Anyone Else. Sometimes the word "Anyone" can be replaced with "Anything," but in general, it's usually "Anyone" to give reference to an actual person (or at least a living thing).” But that fill-in was as mystifying as “bills” becoming ACTS; only reading Rex’s rant made that correct entry comprehensible.

His Radiance 10:22 AM  

Those of us who do xword puzzles for enjoyment and not nits or the clock, end up with a smile. I feel sorry for people just have to find fault.

burtonkd 10:25 AM  

BAE is text-speak, short for "before anyone else"

gfrpeace 10:36 AM  

I had AukS for Bills no more, for a long time. Extinct bird. It was the answer I liked best, till it turned out to be wrong.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

i didn't know the snack names and many of the crosses were so obscure that there was no way to suss them out. After a few minutes i got to the "who cares" stage so just tossed it in.

hey @gill. not sure why you claim to live in sfo. makes no sense. people might think you live at the airport. the call sign for the airport is ksfo and typically people who live in san francisco call it sf. pronounced "ess eff." BART goes to SFO. At least you're not calling it Frisco. Here's Herb Caen:

First time Ogden Nash came to S.F., circa 1940, a Chron reporter challenged him to produce a clever couplet on San Francisco and it didn't take him more than 30 seconds to recite "May I be boiled in oil and fried in Crisco/ If I ever call San Francisco Frisco."

Newboy 10:42 AM  

David G @2:27 asked whether Rex should be nicer before ripping a puzzle. Having thought about the issue for a couple minutes, I’d say “No, let Rex be Rex, but enjoy Lewis’s responses also.” Henry James said it well if I recall correctly: “You cannot tamper with my flute and criticize my music.”

Whatsername 10:42 AM  

@sf27Shirley and @Z: BAE stands for Before Anyone Else, meaning your bestie or significant other - the one who comes first in your life.

@SuzieQ: Best post of the day! LOL

I’m pretty much in line with and ASPER Rex on this one. Not a real enjoyable solve and a little distasteful – pun intended - for a Friday. I actually felt a bit queasy at the thought of all that gooey sweetness, not to mention that I don’t like a single one of the named snack items. It was too early in the morning for me to think about chocolate but give me a plate of French toast or a box of Krispy Kremes and that’s a different story. There’s a thought for a product placement themer - donut brands in the crosses with coffees in the downs. There you go, you constructors in this crowd. Have at it.

Unknown 10:43 AM  

And wtf is BAE????

DavidL 10:46 AM  

Clever clues and misdirects can be great, but gotta agree with Rex here -- the attempts to add difficulty with cluing in this puzzle were just off.

SUZYQCAKES (wha?) crossing with IZAAK (who?) was a Natick for me.

And yeah, the DEES thing was awful.

David 10:48 AM  

NYT app tells me there's something "amiss," and that's how I changed Polaris to Solaris.

Anil dropped right in. Not from crosswordese but from life experience, as did plumb rule; a nifty tool for righting things.

Have to agree on the, um, interesting cluing for the most part.

Wouldn't "Bae" be pronounced "buh" or "bye?" Not in our post-rule society I guess, and it's made it to the Oxford online so why not "bay?" Apparently it arose in the early 2000s.

Hooray for the Coriolis effect and no, toilets aren't affected by it. I like do si do and what it means, but that clue was just what it is. Odd man out for this puzzle. My favorite clue was for "essess," but it was nice to see "eon" clued correctly. That eon is split into 3 eras, together the approx equivalent of 135,250,000 presidential terms.

Note to editor: stop calling presidential terms "eras." Thank you.

By the way, I like the "3" in there.

Didn't really like this while I was doing it, but some of you here made me re-think. Thanks.

Wm. C. 10:54 AM  

Like most others, I intensely disliked this puzzle.

I never buy or eat sugary snack items, never heard of SUSYQCAKES.

When I saw the 4 themer clues, I just threw up my hands and prematurely visited Professor Rex to get the fill, then just worked the rest of the puzzle. I had no desire to even TRY do get the themers from the verticals.

It's one thing to have one of the themers be ultra-challenging or maybe even unheard of; it's quite another to choose a theme that is likely to be ENTIRELY out of some puzzler's wheelhouse.

Shame on you, Shortz!

JC66 10:55 AM  

@Anon 10:38

If you've spent any time on this blog, you'd know @GILL I spent many years in the airline business; ergo SFO.

Brian P 10:59 AM  

I DNF'ed yesterday but was able to complete today. I didn't think cluing was too hard and the names were generally first names. Eating a lot of candy growing up def helped :)

Escalator 11:03 AM  

VERY rare to see a number - 3 in this case - in a puzzle!

Ethan Taliesin 11:11 AM  

I completely agree with Rex today (DESPITE him being Rex).

Also, for all these years I thought BROCADE had an "ed" at the end and was a past tense verb... for ... brocay, maybe??? I don't read enough on the subject obviously.

Now I know it's a noun and a verb, but a present tense one. BROCADED is the simple past and past perfect of BROCADE. Am I pleased with my newfound knowledge? No.

And.. Only an old fogey like IZAAK WALTON would spell his dumb name like that. Get with the times, grandpa!

jjpennyless 11:11 AM  

Agree with most all of the gripes from Rex and others, and have one more. The pluralization of the themers is badly off in the name of symmetry. Peanut butter cups are sold almost exclusively in multiples. Even those singles that LMS refers to likely came in a bag. Nobody eats one oreo cookie, and nobody eats multiple 3 musketeers bars. Add that Suzy Qs aren't marketed as "cakes" but only as Suzy Qs, and you go a remarkable zero for four on themers landing perfectly "in the language."

jberg 11:17 AM  

Well, I've only seen the Russian version of SOLARIS, and I had lPgA at 28A -- so when UMPS made me change the l to a U, I went with the Upper Peninsula Golf Association. I mean, they have 55 beautiful courses in the Upper Peninsula, Lower Michigan, and Toronto -- isn't that crossworthy? Since I solve in the actual paper, I didn't get a hint that I had an error and so, by my personal definition, DNF.

I never figured out what DEE meant until I read Rex, and was so sure it had to be 'aft' that I toyed with the notion that maybe the Finns of the Sami or somebody spelled the god's name "OfIN" I finally just gave up and went with the crosses -- which took some time, as I couldn't remember what Marilyn played in that all-women orchestra, so I put in trUmpEt from the U.

SUZY Q CAKES was tough -- not nearly as iconic a Hostess product as Twinkies, but fair enough.

Everybody should stop griping about BAE. Everyone under 30, maybe under 40 knows it, so it's up to us to learn.

Add me to those who would gladly eat a HERRING BUTTER CUP, especially if it's made with Vita brand picked herring in sour cream.

@Gill, the KITCHEN WIRE was from the old days when everybody had a Telex. They sent out a couple of recipes every day; it was a subsidiary of "Hints from Heloise."

@Nancy, be very careful not to drop it on your foot!

Carola 11:18 AM  

With my brain running on fumes after a tiring two days of travel, I did all right on facts (ANIL, IZAAK, CORIOLIS, C3PO) but couldn't cope with the clues that required some wit: LEAD DOGS, DEE, ACTS, METERS... and threw in the towel with a double handful of squares unfilled. A worthy puzzle to grapple with; I just wasn't up to it.

Z 11:33 AM  

Regarding BAE - The "Before Anyone Else" suggestion is likely a backronym. See here.

Besides the Z for S common error that @soutside Johnny mentioned, at least one early poster had to replace the "3" in C3PO/3MUSKETEERS BARS with a "T" to get the app to accept the completed grid. I don't know what App that poster was using.

@Gill I - I thought it was me, not Rex, who made the 1A point, but now I see that I just elaborated it into a suggested rule: "Don't put ese at 1A/1D." First impressions do matter.

@His Radiance - I feel sorry for people with no discernment.*

*Actually, I don't. I do get peeved at people's casual insults though.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Nobody, but nobody suffixes them with CAKE, CUP, BAR, COOKIE. NOBODY.

Anybody here from Nome? How many of yond city folk get around town in dog sleds?

How many were stuck with grad before ALUM?

GILL I. 11:42 AM  

@Anony 10:38. Yeah, it's an IATA code. I use it when I'm writing - short hand. I actually always refer to SFO as "The City" because that's what the natives say. I'd rather eat a pound of SUZY QuAKES with @whatsername the ever say Frisco.

Canis Nebula 11:47 AM  

IZAAK and LYNDE crossing SUZY got me with a double Natick. Ugly and not fun.

His Radiance 11:47 AM  

My comment was about enjoying xword puzzles and starting with a smile.

Whatsername 11:52 AM  

@David G at 2:27 — Just now read your post and since you asked . . . I love your “say something nice first” approach. As you said, it demonstrates that you are not just criticizing for the sake of criticism. This goes for Crossword reviews, book reviews, and even sometimes debates with my BAE. As for this forum, I try to confine my comments to the solving experience rather than criticism of the content or construction of the puzzle. This seems fair since the construction of even what some might consider a “bad” crossword still required a great deal of creativity and effort. As with a book review, the fact that it’s not my personal cup of tea is not justification for a tirade.

@Anonymous at 8:27 — ALUM is short for alumni or alumnus, a person who has graduated as part of say the “class of 2019.”

Joseph M 12:02 PM  

The NW corner put me in a BAD mood right off the bat by crossing two Across names with three Down names. Boo. HISS. Enough with the names already.

Then later, when I was finally starting to think that maybe this puzzle wasn’t Satan’s spawn after all, it threw the 3 at me. I don’t mind numerals in a grid, but only one? Why? And why is ONES spelled out and 3 isn’t?

I don’t see why a Friday puzzle can’t occasionally have a theme, but product names of junk food??? I feel like I got trapped in a supermarket during the apocalypse.

I ADMIT that I liked a lot of the tricky clues and I’m a sucker for the word UKULELE, especially in reference to Marilyn Monroe, but this was a Friday that left a lot to be desired.

Unknown 12:20 PM  

And wtf is BAE????

oldactor 12:43 PM  

I had raw silk for brocade for a while. C3P0 was my favorite character in all of the Star Wars

oldbizmark 1:00 PM  

Other than the horrendous NW corner, I breezed through this. That NW corner, however, left me looking up ROCAS due to the Natick of LYNDa and IsAAc and thinking that it was NUEVo instead of NUEVA.

relicofthe60s 1:08 PM  

Most annoying thing about this was that in Across Lite in the iPad, it would accept neither the number 3 nor THREE spelled as a rebus. Only the letter T. What’s up with that?

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Actually.... It's alumna, or Alumnus. Those are the words you're looking for Whatshername. Alumni is plural.

Rex, viz 20 across. You whiffed. The clue and answer are both great. Heads in this case is the plural noun. The rest of the phrase heads (of dog teams) is understood. If only you had, we would've been spared your snark.

Joe Dipinto 1:18 PM  

I almost never start with 1a, and I'm baffled by people who always start there, as if "1" means "Maze Entrance Here." It's just the geographic location of the box in the grid; the answer has no special significance.

I'll cut this puzzle a tiny bit of slack since the constructor intended it for a Wednesday, but even on Wednesday it would be pretty bad. Funny that it has two almost-names from Shakespeare intersecting: CORIOLIS and CLEO. PLUMB RULE made me think of Eve Plumb, who played Jan "Marcia Marcia Marcia" Brady on TV.

Can we jump ahead to Saturday now?

♪ It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
With your hands on your hips
You bring your knees in tight
But it's the pelvic thrust
That really drives you insane
Let's do the Time Warp again!
Let's do the Time Warp again! ♪

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

Like @kitshef, I knew there was something funky about old IZAAK Walton's name and once I entered the K, I, too, thought I was safe. But then I put in SUsYQ and that set off my alarm bells - whew, change that to a Z.

I think Rex would be better off with HERRING butter CAKES rather than cups. I'd eat those cakes, with mustard and a shot of schnapps.

I put in TOOtS around at 23D and it sure had me scratching my head as to what role Marilyn Monroe had as a U_UsEtE. CAKES and LEAD (after sleD) made the UKULELE play nice with my grid.

Hardee's - I did a Google check post solve - there are only 4 or 5 in the greater Twin Cities metro area, none of which are SNUG by my stomping grounds. No wonder I couldn't call to mind their logo. I think they were more prevalent back a couple of decades ago. I wonder if they're jumping on the no-meat bandwagon a la Spam-producer Hormel and McDonalds.

I prefer the mini-peanut butter cups - I like my chocolate to peanut butter ratio to be higher than what the normal sized cups provide.

Mark Diehl, I agree with those here who don't mind the occasional Friday theme. Thanks for a fun solve.

RooMonster 1:24 PM  

A Z and a Q, but no F's.


Here's something for y'all to chew on. How come we say "a unicorn", not "an unicorn"? An there doesn't even sound right? @LMS? @pablonh?


JC66 1:30 PM  

@Joe D

When I solve, either in the paper on in AcrossLite, IA is almost always the clue on the top. Just sayin.

Masked and Anonymous 1:35 PM  

@RP: har. Well, good mornin, Sunshine.
M&A had a hunch about yer opinion, on this FriPuz installment. Too bad it didn't have faves NRA and ESP in there, for a cherry on top.
Decided to look for the most positive [or at worst least negative] sentence in yer review. Hadta cherry-pick this fluffy lil pup from the snarlin-wolf-pack: "OK, good, go on …"

staff weeject pick: C3PO. Nailed this, offa nuthin, due to extensive personal schlock flick nerdiness. Technically it is a weeject, as it contains only 3 letters. Altho, sounded like @RP sorta considered it a [4-letter word, here].

I'm not sure this "theme vs. no theme" rant was worth the effort, this time out. The (not-GLUTEN-free) sweets theme ain't anything all that tricky -- easy to solve it as a themeless (which we mostly did, at our house). Could argue that the "3" was a tricky theme element, I suppose -- even tho it was just a one-off little gotcha stinker.

Biggest and best complaint about theme might be the ensuin Ow de Speration fallout. That NW corner *was* pretty raised-by-wolves, I'd sure grant. @RP did a nice essay, on all the desperate stuff, and I always groove on desperate stuff, so I'll just go ahead on off toward Nome …

fave clue: the WIRETAP one.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Diehl DDS. Nice MOLD dental-tie-in, btw.

Masked & Anonym8Us

another sorta-themed pup:

Wickens 1:35 PM  

18D should have been clued "This puzzle desperately needs one"

ghostoflectricity 1:39 PM  

Agree with Rex 100%.

Trump's presidency is a sh**storm; his increasingly ludicrous explanations for his "accurate" predictions about Alabama and the REAL storm Dorian are a sh**storm on top of a REAL storm on top of the sh**storm of his presidency; his childish scrawls with a Sharpie are a sh**show on top of the sh**storm, and probably criminally illegal too.

Rex already used the term "cluster****" to describe this ludicrous puzzle, so I will call this puzzle the latest sh**storm in a week filled with them. And I'll add, when did it become acceptable for constructors to cater to their own laziness and self-indulgence and provide INCONSISTENT answers to their own themers? Two themers are plural in this puzzle; two are singular. That violates all traditional rules for themers, back in the pre-Will Shortz days when constructors were expected to follow certain basic rules.

BTW, I had USGS for 28D before I had USGA, figuring that the "green" cluing had something to do with eco-consciousness (U.S. Geological Survey). But in this Trump era I guess that was too much to ask; instead we get a correct answer that is in line with Trump's love of the very UN-ecological game of golf, which he played all week while people in the Bahamas and Florida sat under a terrifying hurricane- conveniently, in Virginia- of all the weeks to play there! Gen. Bonespurs, the "brave" president foisted upon us by the Trumpistas, found this week- how CONVENIENT!- the one to visit his Virginia property rather than any of his Florida ones!

One more BTW- WTF does the clue to 5D have to do with "ACTS"?? I've read the clue about 20 times and don't see how the answer fits with the clue. But then this puzzle makes zero sense at all. Ok, I've vented enough.

Patri15 1:41 PM  

BAE. Before all others-- your squeeze in modern slang. Obvious misleading for bee which you want butnthere is no kitchen were

DrBB 1:44 PM  

Aging brain had me misunderstanding the clue for 5A for the longest time. For some reason I thought it was looking for the completion to a movie title or something. Duh. Kept me from getting 7D, from a movie I've seen many times and loved. Once I finally had my d'oh! moment and got ALUM, UKULELE popped into place and I was done. Or would have been except for that darn suZqcakes/iZaak cross.

Hated that "3," but when you go look it actually IS called a "3 Musketeers" bar, and with the C3PO cross I gotta credit it with being rather clever, even though I gnashed my teeth filling that square in. And I can NEVER remember if it's ARIL or ANIL for some reason, but at least it's a gimme for A_IL. I had SLEDDOGS for the longest time, which also screwed me up getting the Marilyn clue, and yeah, grammar fail there.

Liked INCOGNITO, liked CORIOLIS, liked SOLARIS. Disliked CAKES. Seriously, since when does anyone call them Suzy Q Cakes??? RPB cups, check, 3 Musketeers bars, check. But SuzyQ's are just SuzyQ's as far as I've ever heard.

Unknown 1:46 PM  

I put in the t as well, but it didn't take. The number 3 doesn't work at all. So even though I got everything right it's a no win. Sad.

David G 1:52 PM  

Thanks @Z, @Newboy and @Whatsername ... I appreciate your perspectives.

ghthree 1:55 PM  

In the summer of 1964, I attended conferences in Frisco Colorado and San Francisco on subsequent days. The experience reminded me of Ogden Nash's poem.
True story. I couldn't have made this one up.

JC66 1:57 PM  


When the legislature passes a BILL and the executive branch approves, it becomes an ACT.

Sunnyvale Solver 1:57 PM  

Rex didn’t mention the worst clue of all: “Listen here!” for WIRETAP. I hate that clueing style, and in this case it makes no sense at all.

David G 2:04 PM  

@ghostofelectricity When a BILL is enacted by Congress, it becomes an ACT. (Example, "the Affordable Care Act.")

I checked the Hostess website, and the name of the product is indeed SUZI Q'S. Each of the chocolate layers is a CAKE, but to include it in the name of the product, as clued, is just cheating. What's next? TWINKIE CAKES, HO HO CAKES, DING DONG CAKES? Ugh. Just say NO.

Hostess does make a 10-letter product: MINI MUFFINS, which would have been a legit entry at 13A. SUZI Q CAKES is just making stuff up. Fake news.

OISK 2:05 PM  

3 errors, just as bad as last Sunday, although this puzzle was less awful. UPGA and Polaris seemed right. So did Susy and Isaac. But I will give myself credit for a very special wrong answer
I had C3P40. How should I know what number fits? The across clue was "pair of 11s?" My answer, with 40 in the SW corner, is 4 Ones. Perfect!

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

@RooMonster. It's "a unicorn" because, although it begins with a vowel in print, it begins with a consonant sound (Y) when spoken.

Joe Dipinto 2:21 PM  

@JC66 -- But who says you have to start at the top? Okay maybe online you can't see all the clues at once, I wouldn't know. But in the paper you can scan all of them to find your easiest entry point. If you see a 15-er across the bottom area that you absolutely know the answer to, why wouldn't you put that in first and work from there?

Z 3:06 PM  

@His Radiance - Sure, but do you see how insulting that comment comes across? Just because I enjoy doing puzzles doesn't mean I think every puzzle is equally good. And just because I'm critical of, say, ANIL doesn't mean I do puzzles just to come here and complain. It seems as though you are chiding people for having opinions while not actually saying anything about the puzzle. You liked the puzzle? Please share why. But if all you got is "I don't like your comments" please just choose not to read all us nit-pickers. I won't mind if you skip my posts. I should add that I don't mean to pick on you. I am reacting to a whole bunch of comments like yours that have been posted here over time.

JC66 3:08 PM  

@Joe D

But how does one know that they don't know the answer 1A unless they read the clue?

Dave S 3:17 PM  

Don't usually comment, but after Rex's pan I had to say how much I enjoyed this one. Which is not to say it was smooth: both the southwest and southeast corners are disaster scenes of writeovers. Wanted plumbline instead of plumbrule, which sort of makes sense. Wanted cate with "c" for 44 down, which doesn't. Tried to squeeze in demon on 38D which caused me lots of problems, along with insisting that Spam came in cans. When it all came together , though, it was very satisfying. Liked the clues for lead dogs, even if was a little strained and the one for umps quite a bit, and the slight bit of intellectual sheen (coriolis, the French connection) over the junk food mini-theme. I admit old Edna is a new one on me, but always happy to see an Isaak Walton reference.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

@His Radiance,

I didn't find your comment insulting at all. I do however find it telling and very amusing that @z seemed compelled to white knight some vague group for some imagined slight.

Cassieopia 3:43 PM  

Well, CORIOLIS was pretty cool - right folks? Right? Otherwise I do agree with the general panning of this puzzles “features” such as The Lone Digit, The Naticky NW, and the Weirdly Single Reese’s Peanut Butter cup.

My woke nephew pronounces BAE as “bay”, and uses it to describe any close relationship. I thought “honey” was a poor, dated, and inaccurate way to clue BAE based on how I’ve heard the <30 crowd use it. But don’t ASKME, check in with the young’uns in your own life to get their HARDNOSED opinion.

The Iditarod is indeed traditionally Anchorage (ceremonial start) to Nome. However climate change continues to force the start further and further north. In 2017 the start was Fairbanks and my son and daughter-in-law were volunteers.

RooMonster 3:55 PM  

@Anonymous 2:07
Thanks. But, that got me thinking of other oddities. E.g., the NINE realm tree is "a Yggdrasil", not "an Yggdrasil", right? But then, if you say "a ignominious", that's wrong. It's "an ignominious", but same starting sound on each. Or I'm completely wrong, which is the better bet.


Chip Hilton 4:29 PM  

Geez, I must be really literate because IZAAK was an immediate foothold. And, I know I’m old enough for Paul LYNDE but far too old for BAE.

Tough a lot of fun. Thanks, M. Diehl.

pabloinnh 4:49 PM  

Hey Roo-

Anon from 2:07 beat me to it, but he or she is spot on about the Y sound. I don't know from yggdrasils, but if you use an A as the indefinite article, I would bet that it's pronounced "whyggdrasil", which gives you the consonant sound.

This is exactly why I think an event described as "historic" should be A "historic event", although I think I'm fighting a losing battle, because, you know, usage.

Fred Wollam 5:00 PM  

Your hypercorism blows ANNA totes out of the water. Props.

Molasses 5:09 PM  

This was all good fun till the end, when I got the "something's amiss" message. I especially liked C3PO, my favorite mechanical man. Turns out SUZYQCAKES tripped me up twice - I checked the spelling and fixed Paul LiNDE's name, got the message again for misspelling IsAAK Walton. Took me way too long to find the error.

Anoa Bob 5:20 PM  

Hello ANIL, my old friend... In the bad old days of xwordom, otherwise impenetrable sections of a grid would be doable only because of help from an old friend, aka crosswordese, like ANIL, or ERATO, or ISERE, and the like, a list of which the experienced solver had at the ready to crack open those areas. I think that is what made old school crossword puzzles so daunting to new solvers. They had not yet acquired that inside knowledge, a vocabulary of crosswordese old friends to help their solveQUEST.

That final L in ANIL gave me one of my favorite comedians---I think he was a comedic genius)---Paul LYNDE. I just checked wiki's blurb. It describes LYNDE as "A character actor with a distinctively campy and snarky persona that often poked fun at his barely in-the-closet homosexuality" He could make me laugh without even saying anything, just by his facial expressions and mannerisms.

Liked seeing CORIOLIS effect in the grid. The Earth's rotation imparts spin to fluids, like the oceans, right spin in the north, left spin in the south. It plays a big role in producing major ocean currents, known as ocean gyres.

The Gulf Stream is part of the North Atlantic gyre. Hurricane Dorian took a sudden right hand turn to the north when it got to the Gulf Stream, and has been following it since. Maybe the Floridians, and, hey, Alabamans too, should be giving thanks to the CORIOLIS effect.

Those with interests in the constructioneering arts, n.b. 49D ESSES. That's POC (plural of convenience) gold there. Not only is it a POC itself, it also enables three other POCs, one that helped a themer that was one letter short of its slot, and one that got the always handy two-POCs-for-one-S in the lower right. See those a lot down there.

Joe Dipinto 5:26 PM  

@JC66 -- LOL, I think this might be an example of "begging the question". It assumes a person should, or will, naturally look at 1a first. Who sez? I don't make a point of looking at 1a first. The clue is all the way over on the left edge and my eye is unlikely to gravitate there. Today 4d was the clue that pulled me in.

Fred Wollam 5:35 PM  

"Y" is a demi-vowel, of which English has several, depending on your dialect. The a/an switch flips for you if your dialect "says" a [yu]kulele or an [oo]kulele. AS SPOKEN,in Chicago, anyway, ukulele begins with a y.

Fred Wollam 5:43 PM  

Congressional BILLS...

Fred Wollam 5:48 PM  

Nahh... do you say "egg whyolk?"

albatross shell 5:50 PM  

The a or an is based on the sound, not the letter. Some Words beginning with U and pronounced like you are considered to begin with a "y" sound, and take an "a". Possibly true of ygg also. Best to check dictionary pronouciations to determine correctness, l guess.

I did not complete without looking at correct answers in 3 places and did not have a lot of fun solving, but never got upset with the puzzle. Certainly some nice stuff. DOSIDO in a city puzzle. CORIOLIS was something I surprisingly never knew or do not remember. Seems to be a fictitious force necessary for correct calculations which is neat to say the least. PLUM RULE, line, and bob all good to me. INCOGNITO neato.

Some complain both that it was a themed Friday, pearl clutch, and the theme was so weak it was not a theme, pearl double clutch. What? Yet everybody appreciates subtheme and minithemes. A single rebus, a number, another doubleclutch. There is no official rules of crosswords. No umpires sitting in judgement. No appeals to the commissioner of crosses. And yes I do enjoy hearing all these opinons I disagree with and sometimes I appreciate them as much as my own and sometimes I am swayed. But maybe be more tolerant of different tastes. Me three.
I was upset that my rebussed three got red, and last time there was a number the written number , the numeral and the single first letter of the number were all judged correct. I would have preferred "Last on board" , but back in the sense of rear I guess is close enough. The Hostess website and other commercial sites refer to Suzy Q's as Suzy Q chocolate cakes. Nabisco calls OREOs OREO chocolate sandwich cookies and by several other names. Just make it work. Preconceptions guarantee diappointment.
The Nome clue was too clever for me today.
ANIL went right in. I know yarn dyers and plants and did a lot of nonTimes crosswords over the years. Do not know how I knew. CW advisory: If ANIL is here, WOAD is not far behind.

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

"Z" is Rex trolling his own blog, slavishly defending his posts.

The pithy little denials prove it even more.

jae 7:05 PM  

@Z - It was me who had to put in a T to finish. I solve on the Stand Alone App for iPad which I kinda mentioned in my initial post. Not a happy solve.

Mohair Sam 7:07 PM  

Did I miss it? Or did none of you mention Balto, the ultimate LEAD DOG who "saved" the kids of Nome? And whose brave run we try to duplicate each year with the Iditarod, and without whom the delightful clue at 20A could never have been written. Dog people among you gotta read "Winter Dance" by Gary Paulson - get a feel for the Iditarod (and a ton of laughs too).

Sorry @Rex, thought the use of "3" was perfect, since "3MUSKETEERS" is spelled just so. Neat that our constructor could cross it cleanly while giving Will his perfunctory Star Wars reference.

Best clue ever for UKELELE.

Fun puzz Mark Diehl. Thanks.

Monty Boy 7:38 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I don't understand most of the complaints, probably because I didn't buy the book, Laws and Rules Governing Construction of Xword Puzzles. It's a puzzle for Pete's sake

My biggest snag was crossing French teachers with French days. Didn't take that language in school but I did learn something. I finally got them from the crosses. Next challenge (at 75) is remembering those for next time.

It was medium for me in time and difficulty, and a 10 in enjoyment, especially when challenging by OFL. Hmm, maybe we should add that enjoyment rating (1 to 10) to the other scales..

Frog Prince Kisser 9:08 PM  

@Wm. C. 10:54 AM

Re your deleted question yesterday, read the answer to 5 Across backwards.

mlm 9:52 PM  

Cane here for the spleen venting for the *gasp* themed Friday. How dare they?

I wasn't disappointed. If I'd done this early enough, I would've brought you some smelling salts.

Dude, if things are this hard for you, maybe you shouldn't do crosswords anymore?

Casarussell 10:30 PM  

One of the very few puzzles for me that instead of googling help, or looking to rex for the solution and filling it in, I simply gave up in disgust. Truly sad.

Casarussell 10:51 PM  

One more note: I'm not bothered by the number "3" in three musketeers, but I AM bothered by the fact that three musketeers was originally three different flavored nougat fillings covered in chocolate (vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate) but since 1945 was simplified to one chocolate covered chocolate nougat bar. So, for the past seventy+ years we've been sold a LIE of ONE musketeer masquerading as THREE. How can this LIE end up in the NYT Xword as TRUTH?!?!!??!?!?!

Jared 12:10 AM  

The only good thing about this puzzle was the peanut butter cup. The rest of it was a total sh*tshow and I nearly lost my longest streak ever because of it. Glad that Rex thought so too.

ghostoflectricity 12:00 PM  

@DavidG: Thank you for the explanation about how "ACTS" (bills passed by Congress or some other legislative body) are in fact "BILLS NO MORE." An obnoxious, cutesy, far-fetched clue, but totally in line with this idiotic puzzle. I was looking for some tie in to something else ludicrous, such as the '80s band Faith No More, whose existence I could never quite understand, but then I live in the universe that also includes Styx, Foreigner, and other unlistenable "classic rock" bands, and Donald Trump. If the multiverse exists, can I apply to live in one of the alternative universes?

ghostoflectricity 12:04 PM  

@Fred Wollam: I live in Chicago, too, and I agree, the overwhelming majority of people pronounce ukelele with a y-as-in-yuck at the start. But I also take classes at the Old Town School, and a woman who was a(n) ukulele instructor there and is part native Hawaiian said that, in the islands there, the correct pronunciation for the instrument is OOK-uh-lay-lee. Just sayin'.

hankster65 5:01 PM  

I hated this puzzle to the point of feeling anger. DEE, really????? That's just the beginning. Too much horribleness here to go into. On top of everything else this abomination ended my 29 day streak. I claim foul on this horrible puzzle.

Sam Buggeln 6:01 AM  

Love your write-ups Loren! Looks like you also had a DNF on sOLARIS/UsGA. Oh the paper solve! I wonder how much more enjoyable it must be to just feel finished and not have to hunt down the likes of Izaak and USGA to get that ping. Those certainly made for a less-entertaining kind of challenge.

Burma Shave 10:33 AM  


SUZYQ went INCOGNITO as a cook,
cheese, HERRING, and GLUTEN-free CAKES she’d feed ‘em.
She’ll ADMIT to ONE thing she RETOOK,


rondo 12:01 PM  

It’s just hilarious, the complaints about a themed Friday. A few years ago OFL hadn’t even noticed that there was a theme in a Fri-puz (or was it a Sat-puz?) and there was no wailing and gnashing of teeth by him or anyone else who had picked up on it (which was almost everyone else). And the gimmick puzzles show up on days other than Thursday now (sometimes with a 2 letter answer – see the ice cream Wed-puz), so apparently the ‘rules’ aren’t all that hard and fast. I thought this puz rather easy and enjoyable. So there.

I’ve done surveying for years and never heard of a PLUMBRULE. PLUMB bob, yes. It shows you which direction is straight down.

Probably the second-best Swedish woman golfer ever is yeah baby ANNA Nordqvist.

So untie the knots and undo the bunches in your undies and enjoy life a little. Or go over to the (free) WSJ contest puz today like I will and try to get the meta within. And no whining, please. Thumbs up on this puz.

rondo 12:23 PM  

@ghostofelectricity - The only problem I had with e ACTS clue was that nowadays so few bills actually become ACTS, but please do go live in an alt-universe and take your musical tastes along..

@hankster65 - sour grapes on a DNF? That doesn't make it a 'horrible' ouz.

This puz was so EZ

spacecraft 12:26 PM  

This was one big Rohrshach test here. Did I mention how terrible I am with timelines? I saw Clooney, space, film--and of course wrote in Gravity! That puppy came within an eyelash of causing a DNF. Thank goodness that, although not personally afflicted with celiac, I observe a GLUTEN-free diet (lost 70 lbs. on it too). Even after that, I had LPGA and POLARIS--well, who knew? That's a space name! And I never heard of SOLARIS--until noticing that LPGA appeared in a clue elsewhere--and then saw the nonsense at 28 across. Happily, USGA fixed all that. Still, as OFC says, the GA is the same...

IAMSO confused; or I was. Had [it's so] ITSSO in there for the longest time. As to the candy, which I no longer eat, I can tell you from experience: there's nothing better than a fresh Reese's PEANUTBUTTERCUP--and nothing worse than a stale one! The difference is amazing.

No problem with square 53; not an issue with me. A challenging solve, to be sure, with those clues, but not nearly as "ugly" as OFC says. Birdie.

AM/FM Howard 1:04 PM  

Perhaps a common question. Do companies actually pay for product placement in these crossword puzzles?

leftcoast 3:53 PM  

Don't remember seeing a themed puzzle on Friday.

Four symmetrical GLUTENous sweet-snacks confirm it. Might GLUTEN qualify as a revealer? Probably not. Its symmetric mate is DOSIDO. But maybe somewhere, someplace, there is a sugary morsel named DOSIDO. Will need to heck with C3PO on that.

Fell into a couple of traps: SledDOG before LEADDOG ("Heads to Nome" clue should have cued that one.), and PLUMBlinel before PLUMBRULE. (Rondo will handle that one, no doubt.)

Other hang-ups in the NW and SW, and overall a challenging if not errorless solve.

rondo 5:48 PM  

Yep. The PLUMB bob is at the bottom of the PLUMB line. It shows you which direction is straight down.

Unknown 7:33 PM  

I technically dnf because of the z in SuziQ, but I still enjoyed this puzzle much more than Rex. Why? Just because I managed to fill in every other square. I was so happy. So thanks Mr. Diehl for a challenging puzzle.

bocamp 7:40 PM  

Commenting from Sep. 6, 2020 (future boy) LOL

I love to go back and do last year's puzzle, i.e., this one. I also go back and work my way forward (from 1993, I'm now almost through 1995) and work back from 2020 (I'm currently somewhere in 2012). Eventually, I'll meet somewhere in the middle, say 2003 or so). In addition, I go back to work on all the puzzles I've "dnf"ed on.

The first time I did this puzzle, I had a dnf, so when I redo it, I'm careful not to look at where my previous error was.

When solving this one I stopped on 4D, as I realized that I may have spelt Paul's last name with an "i" instead of "y", (giving me Suzi) so I had no problem getting that right. Now just to remember for the future how to correctly spell his name.

I may, too, have had an "s" with "Isaak" crossing "Susi", but don't think so.

Enjoyed the puz more than Rex, and did it in 2 Rexes, which is fast for me.

Peace 🕊

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