Balm with oxymoronic name / FRI 9-20-19 / Chandler four-term US senator who helped faound Republican Party / Like a novel with roguish adventuring hero / Cloud name prefix / Fashion portmanteau exemplified by wearing yoga pants all day / First name in 1990s rap / Journalist whose mother father sister husband all won Nobel prizes

Friday, September 20, 2019

Constructor: Luke Vaughn

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (on paper, untimed)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ÈVE CURIE (4D: Journalist whose mother, fagther, sister and husband all won Nobel Prizes) —
Ève Denise Curie Labouisse (French pronunciation: ​[ɛv dəniz kyʁi labwis]; December 6, 1904 – October 22, 2007) was a French and American writer, journalist and pianist. Ève Curie was the younger daughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie. Her sister was Irène Joliot-Curieand her brother-in-law Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Ève was the only member of her family who did not choose a career as a scientist and did not win a Nobel Prize, although her husband Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr. did collect the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 on behalf of UNICEF. She worked as a journalist and authored her mother's biography Madame Curie and a book of war reportage, Journey Among Warriors.[1][2] From the 1960s she committed herself to work for UNICEF, providing help to children and mothers in developing countries. (wikipedia)
• • •

The SE corner here is fantastic, and I did it last, so this was one of those seemingly rare times when the puzzle ends on a highpoint (and not with me jammed up at the worst / knottiest part of the grid). The rest of the grid was fine, but nothing to write home about. TWITTERATI is still not a thing and by now it's a dated non-thing, not the "fresh" thing you think it is, so please stop. I really haven't missed seeing ENESCU, a crosswordese trickster whose name can also be spelled ENESCO for some reason! (9D: "Romanian Rhapsodies" composer) This ÈVE CURIE person is hilariously uncrossworthy. The way that I know is because of how you have clued her, i.e. in relation to the human beings in her family that people might actually know (not, tellingly, in relation to anything specific that she did or wrote). Nice to see more women in the grid in marquee positions (i.e. in long answers), but who? But as I say, that SE corner rocks, and the fill in general is at least a solid average, so overall positive marks for the constructor.

The editor, on the other hand ... OOF. It's possible that *all* these clues were the constructor's, but it's the editor who has to take the reins and bring the cluing under control, so he's ultimately responsible for the cluing, and yeeeesh. It's bad today. If you're gonna open with two (2) "?" Across clues, they should be, uh, good. Stick the landing! These are Terrible and Merely Bad, respectively. SPEED DATES are "Plays?" Even with pun leeway on High, that is rough. I guess people are making "plays" for ... prospective dates? But then the "matches" would be after the "play" (presumably). The whole thing requires a compass and protractor if you wanna make any clear sense out of it. Bad. I get that a STUB has been "ripped off" of the original complete ticket ... OK, maybe that one's more tolerable (and just tough). Other horrible clues: 25A: Comment like "And now here's Pam with sports. Pam?" ("OVER TO YOU"). No, "Over to You" is, itself, a comment. If somehow throwing it to another presenter is called an OVER-TO-YOU (like it's a category of comment) then that is some inside-newsroom stuff. Hated this. Merely disliked 34A: "That may not have been entirely accurate ..." ("I LIED"), which are patently not the same thing. They are in the same large category, but at opposite ends. The "may not" is key here. ASSAULTS are not [Batteries]. That's why the phrase "assault & battery" exists. Because ... they are different. "Oh, well, you see, 'assaults' is here being used in the more general..." [harsh loud buzz sound] sorry, no. You can try to lawyer that one if you want, but it's bad.

Lastly, there were entirely too many names, esp. with clues of the fill-in-the-blank variety, followed by a lengthy-ish description of the thing they did that allegedly makes them puzzleworthy, but it always sounds like just so much special pleading. ZACHARIAH ... he did this thing. LYDIA ... you know, from that other thing? This novelist! That former Mexican president ('s middle name!)! Half a rap name! Now I knew some of these and not others, but but the barrage of blank so-and-so clues for like an assault (as opposed to a battery). But let me end by saying, once again, that SE corner is fantastic. PICARESQUE to ATHLEISURE to CHEAP SEATS is the crossword Tinker to Evers to Chance. Mwah!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:22 AM  

Fantastic stacks in the SE and NW and great long answers: HEAVEN SENT, ON RETAINER, OVER TO YOU, ZACHARIA, PICARESQUE, CHEAP SEATS, ATHLEISURE, LARGESSE, and EVISCERATE. That last word opened the puzzle up for me, as I was thinking MOVIE-something for one of its crosses, which gave me the V, and the word popped in.

Every quadrant was aha-laden, and my heart did SWELL at completion. For me a perfect Friday, just what it should be, and a big bravo and bow of thanks from me, Luke. You nailed it.

Harryp 6:39 AM  

I liked a lot of these words, and some of the clues were great too. Great effort by Mr. Vaughn.

amyyanni 7:09 AM  

I got the bottom half of the puzzle, then struggled with the top so had the opposite solving experience. And that caused me to be less enamored of this one. Since it's Friday, however, I'm already over it. Have great weekends, all.

kitshef 7:15 AM  

My absolute favorite type of puzzle. Nothing comes easy, but you chip away and chip away, and in the end all those things you had no idea of based on the clue become clear.

Some wild unknowns- ZACHARIAH Chandler, ALISON Lurie, somebody named ENESCU.

And like most of you I’d guess, I wanted Quiet Riot for 37A, not SLADE. Turns out the SLADE version peaked at #98 on the US charts, so I feel OK not knowing that.

Oh, and the clue for 1A is awful. The clue for 25A is merely bad.

Irene 7:17 AM  

Really enjoyed it except for the (to me) Nadick of LYDIA and SLADE. Otherwise lots of fun and, unlike Rex, I enjoyed the cluing.

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

If you think of plays and DATES as verbs versus nouns, then 1A works better. But I agree with Rex that it's wonky.

Mark 7:19 AM  

It’s not often I start with a long entry, and it’s not often that I start at the bottom. Pleasurable here to first drop PICARESQUE and second CHEAPSEATS for a running start. Allowed third entry, TUPAC, to drop right in.

SJ Austin 7:24 AM  

Yeah, super rough for me. Double my average Friday time even with tons of cheating. All the proper nouns and eye-roll cluing spoiled some really nice fill. My experience was more "that wasn't fair" than "that was a tough one!"

astrotrav 7:25 AM  

This was a great puzzle, but it contained too many individuals I didn't know. I figured out the CURIE part (how many couples have won the Nobel prize?!) but the rest were just plain frustrating.

RavTom 7:34 AM  

@Rex: You’re reading “plays” as a noun. I think it’s a verb, as in “When she SPEEDDATES, she ‘plays with matches.’”

benjaminthomas 8:00 AM  

Rex, I think you're just wrong about OVER TO YOU. Yes, "Over to You" is, itself, a comment. That's the point of the clude -- it is a comment LIKE "And now here's Pam with sports. Pam?" Like as in, similar to.

Jbabs 8:05 AM  

In 1-across, "dates" and "plays" can also be read as verbs. One who speed dates is, in a sense, playing with matches.

Mike Herlihy 8:18 AM  

At 2,960,000 hits on Google one could argue that TWITTERATI *is* "a thing".

Joaquin 8:24 AM  

I expect a challenge on Friday and I was not disappointed. I disagree with Rex's complaints, save for 1A. Bum clue in the worst spot for a bum clue.

Unknown 8:25 AM  

Just a wonderful puzzle: fun, clever and educational. It spanned the globe and the centuries. Bravo.

QuasiMojo 8:35 AM  

Well this was a refreshing change, a puzzle with some meat and bones and juicy words. Picaresque, Tribunal, Eviscerate, Sharpeis, Largesse, even stuff like Cheap Seats and Athleisure were fun to see. Icy Hot was well-clued although I still don't like product names in puzzles. Somehow I pulled Slade out of my derrière despite never having heard them, wittingly. A friend of mine has been suffering miserably of late with Tension Headaches, so that was a gimme. Didn't mind Speed Dates. I was expecting a tennis answer. From what I gather, Speed Date parties are like parlour games for the single set. I've never gone to one. I prefer meeting new strangers at museums. It's the best place to ask people out for a drink or coffee. You have mutual interests already and the environment is conducive to genuine yapping, not inane chitchatting. And the ogling is restricted to the artistic Nudes.

Rube 8:36 AM  

Nice to have Friday that isn't a Tuesday. For 17A I had the first 4 and then the A and went with "on red alert". That slowed me down you can be sure.

pabloinnh 8:42 AM  

I do like a Friday that knows how to fight back, and I liked this one a lot. Way more satisfying than the how-fast-can-you-write variety.

I'm with OFL on the ASSAULTS=batteries, which would make the criminal charge redundant.

Really liked PICARESQUE, which went in instantly from the clue and from my familiarity with Lazarillo de Tormes, which is a wonderful example of this genre. This kid is more or less the Spanish version of Huckleberry Finn as portrayed in Sixteenth Century Spain. Great stuff.

Thanks for the mano a mano, LV. Could have been a Fridazo with a couple of reworked clues (looking at you, 1A).

Suzie Q 8:52 AM  

Great fun for my Friday, at last.
Rex surprised me by choosing Over to You as the topic of his rant.
The sportscaster is a woman in a traditionally male job. He missed a chance to crow about one of his favorite causes.
Lots of names today. With a last name of Ko I was not expecting Lydia. I can't name a single line dance but that sure is a funny name for a dance or really anything.
Otherwise there were some wonderful long words and I felt good when I was done. Over the moon again? Thanks Mr. Vaughn.

puzzlehoarder 8:54 AM  

An easy Friday. I started in the NE with BYE supported by AWRY and worked smoothly in a clockwise direction from there. Along the way I encountered unknown names but they were all easily recognized from the letters the common fill provided.

A perfect example of this was ZACHARIAH. I've never heard of him but DMC, PHO, TWITTERATI and LEECH all dropped right in. Since I knew I was looking for a nineteenth century name the conclusion was obvious.

LYDIA, ALISON, EVECURIE and ENESCU all went in the same way. It really helped that I'm familiar with Big Bear in SOCAL. It was an easy but never boring solve.

davidm 9:02 AM  

This was another easy Friday for me. Either Fridays are actually getting easier, or I’m getting better.

I thought this was a great puzzle. It crackled with lively answers. I agree completely with Rex about the SE, but unlike him, it was the first thing I tackled, and filled. I got PICARESQUE, CHEAP SEATS AND ZACHARIAH right off, and then I got TWITTERATI just off the final “I” in the word.

Everyone, IMO, should acquaint themselves with Chandler, a major Republican politician of the 19th century who was a lifelong abolitionist, a supporter of the Underground Railroad and advocate for black civil rights, and who cleaned up corruption in the Bureau of Indian Affairs under President Grant. He was considered a leading candidate for the presidency in 1880, but died in 1879.

Hungry Mother 9:07 AM  

It took forever to start anything, then a couple of dumb typos slowed me down, then I was done way faster than normal. A fun and worthy challenge.

All that Jizz 9:12 AM  

I don't think "cum" means exactly what the title of the song implies that it means. Hint: it is NOT Latin.

Pretty odd/disturbing to see that in an NYT puzzle this early in the morning. OOF is right.

Sir Hillary 9:23 AM  

Just superb. Zillions of great entries, appropriately tough for a Friday. Personally, I would love to EVISCERATE the TWITTERATI, but that's a fantastic symmetrical pair. Yeah, the 1A clue is clunky, but it's serviceable. In any event, it's far outweighed by all the good stuff. No TENSIONHEADACHE here!

@Rex missed an opportunity to link to PICARESQUE, a great early album by the Decemberists. Here's a snippet.

Nancy 9:25 AM  

I saw "Plays with matches" at 1A and immediately began checking some crosses for SPEED DATES. Have I been solving crosswords for too long or what?

Despite several rappers and a Romanian composer I felt I should have known, but didn't, I loved this puzzle. The long answers were HEAVEN SENT and the clues, while not especially tricky, often piqued my curiosity. I never heard of EVE CURIE, but once I had EVEC, I knew there were a lot of Nobel winners in the CURIE family. So I patted myself on the back as I wrote it in. And what kind of name is Run-DMC? Is there some sort of rule that you can't be a rapper (or a band, for that matter) without a ridiculous, counterintuitive "name"? Still, TUPAC was rolling around somewhere in my subconscious -- even though I wouldn't recognize him if I fell over him.

I also learned that EVISCERATE means "remove the contents of". I always thought it meant to destroy the whole damn thing.

Lots here that was fun and engrossing.

Luke 9:27 AM  

Glad the SE corner was enjoyed. It was how I started constructing this. 56-Across was at least partially inspired by the Decemberists album of the same name, and 59-Across was at least partially inspired by the Regina Spektor album What We Saw From the Cheap Seats.

The clue phrasing on 25-Across threw me for a bit, too, until I mentally replaced "like" with "akin to". And I didn't write the clue for 1-Across, but I really liked it!


Ethan Taliesin 9:40 AM  

Fantastic puzzle!

Eva Curie wrote a super biography of her mother Marie Curie. What dedication Marie had to science--and what persistence Pierre had in wooing her. Equal parts inspiring, romantic, and tragic. The book is totally worth it if you have the interest. It's one of my wife's faves.

So much good to say about the puzzle but it's already been said by others.

Did not know ENESCU but I checked his Romanian Rhapsody. Enjoyable stuff

xyz 9:46 AM  

NW was toughest for me, overall needed Herr Google 3-4 times.

Agree some clues are less than stellar, dare I say only tangentially accurate

Still my fave day of the week. 8/11 solidity rating (askew, yes …)

Ethan Taliesin 9:49 AM  

Regarding peoples' feelings about the SLADE song title and their ignorant, dirty little minds... Come on now, just take a look at a few from their song list:

Gudbuy T' Jane
Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Look Wot You Dun
Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me
Coz I Love You
Myzsterious Mizster Jones

----------GET IT???-------------

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

Hi, @Luke. Glad you popped in and made it clear you didn't write the clue for 1A. I was toying with SPEED dialed because I've never heard of the DATES thing. When I finished, I looked it up. Sounds pretty desperate..kinda like a wham bam, thank you maam thingie.
I loved your puzzle. I also thought it was Saturday hard. My failures always seem to be names, names names. The three in particular where EVE CURIE, ENESCU and SLADE. Oof. I should've done a @kitshef and chipped away; patience would've been my friend. I cheated and loved it because the flood gates opened.
ZACHARIAH is a wonderful name but he and I have never met. I lucked out with him because I was able to get his surrounding neighbors to come to my aid.
Loved your clue for PHD which gave me my final HEADACHE. And then you bring on my smile with PICARESQUE and memories of reading Don Quixote in its original version. Rosinante! Picaro rascal.
I only know Gershwin and maybe even Queen when you ask me about Rhapsodies. I only know CURIE if you but a Madam in front of her name and any band with Cum on Feel the Noize would get the EVISCERATE treatment from me.
Also loved your PHO clue - and here I thought you pronounced it like dough.
So taxis have TVS? Was that your clue?
Thanks for the fun Friday.....

Z 9:57 AM  

Well, actually... not all that many names. I counted a mere 18 of 68 PPP* clues and answers. 23 would be the usual point at which a 68 word puzzle crosses into excessive PPP. I do think Rex nailed at least part of the reason why this feels like so many more names. A middle name of a foreign president, the least noted of a notable family, a secondary historical figure from 150 years ago, and some Wiki deep cut clues, this set of PPP has a cloud of obscurity hanging over them. Adding to this is that several of them are longer answers, so EVE CURIE and ZACHARIAH feel like more than just one PPP. Still, by the usual standard the PPP is fairer than other puzzles we have had.

Having said that, hardest Friday here in a long time.

I’m with the earlier commenters that Rex basically whiffed on his clue complaints. The only one that has any merit is that technically ASSAULTS are not batteries. However, in common parlance people use ASSAULTS to mean physical violence so it works. I’m pretty sure I learned the legal difference in my School Law class at the age of 34. I’ll save all you non-lawyers the tuition cost, “assault” is the threat of violence, “battery” is physical violence.

TWITTERATI is a thing, but it’s a sarcastic thing to describe the notion of a thing that isn’t a thing. So Rex is right that it is not a thing and when it was most not a thing was awhile ago, so now it is a dated non-thing. Just remember that if it’s ever used to describe you that you have been insulted. cf commentariat.

*PPP - Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. 33% usually means some subset of solvers will really struggle while some other subset finds the puzzle really easy.
The List:

DANCE (clue)
ZACHARIAH Chandler (from Friends)

Enrique PEÑA Nieto
LAB (Frankenstein clue)
KURT Waldheim

Nancy 9:57 AM  

For @Quasi (from two days ago) -- Other people get earworms, but I get marching orders. I always provide my own soundtrack when walking anywhere, especially in the park. It happens involuntarily and automatically-- I never plan what I will sing. Yesterday, it was "Everybody's Got a Home But Me." It was rattling around in my brain -- obviously because of you, @Quasi.

There tend to be songs that often repeat, but I'm pretty sure that this was a first for "Everybody's Got a Home But Me". Needless to say, my pace was somewhat slower than usual :)

Danny Y 10:02 AM  

Can someone please explain how 52D (Shade at the beach) is aqua? What is that? It's almost the Italian word for water, but 1) How is water considered shade, and 2) No foreign language is used in the clue.

CDilly52 10:07 AM  

I had “Back to you,” before OVER TO YOU because every night one of the sportscasts I watch religiously during baseball season contains that phrase almost without fail. They break from the studio to go on location for a live interview and after the clip, the location reporter says “Back to you.” So back or OVER, the phrases are common. Period.

This was a crunchy themeless Friday and I enjoyed the experience thoroughly. The NW flummoxed me. Shout out to you, @kitshef, your first graph sums up my feelings precisely. Started late last night and finished early this morning during “kitty stomp.”

What is “kitty stomp you ask?” Glad you did. Until five years ago we were dedicated dog people and “hated cats.” Our daughter through a pretty hilarious few months of her life had too many irons in the fire and neither she nor her then partner-soon-to-be-husband was going to be in one place for about six months. We learned through keeping their two lively felines that cats: 1. As the lyric says “a cat is not a dog...” and 2. They are wonderful, smart, entertaining and very loving (in their own ways) critters. So, after our “Grandcats” as we call them went home, we became bereft after a couple months and adopted two shelter lovelies (one of whom is my avatar). Of their many quizzical ways, their nocturnal marauding is the only irksome one.

They confine most of their antics to the living room but, and you can set your clock by it, between 4:00 and 4:15 every single day they race like a herd of bison down the hall to my bedroom and take turns walking, I swear straight-legged as if on stilts, up the human body to give me (or when he was alive also my husband) a good ear cleaning!

Many of us know the poem “Fog comes on little cat feet...” Well, those silent paws can in fact feel like being poked repeatedly with a broom handle!! Try though we might, we could never alter that habit. Larry dubbed it “Kitty Stomp,” and tried relentlessly to get them to quit. A friend says that this shows we are part of the cat family, at least the “grooming” and if one happens to be slightly alert wrote being stomped, it is possible to avoid the onslaught by pulling the covers over one’s head and going fetal. But especially my wiry, street-smart orange tabby will just try to dig you up. Don’t suggest locking them out of the bedroom. I prefer the short-lives and well-intentioned stomp to the howling! She also curls up on Larry’s pillow after the stomp as if to tell me “I haven’t forgotten him! Go back to sleep and I’ll wake you for breakfast” and she does.

Anyway, The last of the answers fell nicely after being stomped this morning and a good time was had by all.

pbc 10:10 AM  

For the record, PENA is the former Mexican president's family name, not his middle name. It's confusing for Americans, but the Spanish tradition is to use the family names of both parents, with the father's family name first and the mother's second. In this case, the father of Enrique Pena Nieto came from the Pena family, while the mother came from the Nieto family. In second reference in a Mexican newspaper, if a title isn't used, the former president is referred to simply as Pena.

I learned the tradition the hard way, by making a mistake on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I was writing the World-Wide column in the 1980s and did an item on then-President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado. In second reference, I called him Hurtado. Fortunately, a Spanish speaker in the office caught my mistake after the first edition, which had a smallish print run, mostly for mailing to people in places too remote for home/office delivery, and I correctly called the president de la Madrid in the editions that went out to the vast majority of readers.

Ethan Taliesin 10:12 AM  


Jon 10:21 AM  


Also, further to what Rex said, assault is typically a lesser included offense of battery. So although they would generally be treated the as same offense for purposes of double jeopardy, they really are not the same thing. That concept doesn't apply to torts, so as a civil matter they are just different claims. Overall verdict -- they are not the same thing.

Newboy 10:23 AM  

Thanks Luke for a perfect Friday! I think your comment on the other blog “there's a lot of weird stuff everywhere” summarize my experience exactly. When my first pass through the grid yielded only PENA and DMC, I knew I was in for a really frustrating treat—and that’s the best a puzzle can hope to achieve in my book. Looking forward to your future weirdness 😜

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Sharpies and known for their wrinkles? Help please

David 10:40 AM  

So Eve Curie is not notable for her pioneering war reportage or the 2005 presentation of the Croix de Guerre, Legion of Honor to her. Even less notable than her husband, who did not "win" a Nobel but accepted the Peace prize on behalf of UNICEF. Oddly that's one I dropped right in. It is true that the men in her family are more widely known, as is her mother, and that's why she's clued in this fashion. I would have clued to her achievements, which are miles away from hilariously uncrossworthy.

Usually it's the names which slow me down, today's names are fine with me. EP Nieto was all over the news during the last two years of his presidency for his continual skewering of the 2016 "winner" of our presidential election. Plenty of name recognition there.

Enescu Enesco; transliteration makes them both "correct". Again, a real live person of great achievements, not a crosswordese trickster.

I agree emphatically about the clues for 20A and 25A as well as with the pleasure of the SE, but that's about all. I'm surprised, while going on about names, you declined to comment on the Nazi down there.

Oh, I so wanted to put "Russian Spy" in 12D, but the clue was plural. :>(

I loved this puzzle, it kept my brain engaged as few do.

@Danny Y, Shade is a synonym of color.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

@Danny Y

Bathing suits and other beachwear are often aqua (the color).

Made it all the way through - only trouble was having 'ornot' before 'ILIED'.

Agree with Rex that the SW corner really sparkled.


jberg 11:05 AM  

I was hoping @ACME might drop by, in honor of her appearance in two different clues. But maybe she has moved on definitively.

As for the puzzle—no idea about Sen. Chandler, but I had the Z, and Zebediah was too short, leaving a choice of ZACHARIAs/H. I went with the S, which cost me many nanoseconds.

CURIE, confirmed by USO was my entry. EVE took a whole lot longer. And, miraculously, I remembered what those dogs were called. Fun fact: they can be trained to alter maps.


Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Not sure any one but the lawyers will care, but at least in New York, assault and battery have various meanings. In criminal law, an assault is causing physical injury either intentionally or recklessly. There is no crime of battery. In civil law, or tort law, intentional and unwanted physical contact with a person is a battery; threatening to commit a battery is an assault.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

AQUA is the color (reflected from blue sky, not the actual color of the water) we see at the sea.

xyz 11:29 AM  

@DANNY at 10.02

AQUA Blue -the *SHADE* of the water. what I call a tertiary clue ...

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

it's the dog, SHAR PEI (as in I.M. Pei), two words IIRC, not the permanent marker pen

TJS 11:45 AM  

Hey Rex, not only is twitterati a real thing, but you are a member.

Great puzzle for all the things @Lewis and @kitshef said.

Harryp 11:49 AM  

@Anonymous10:25 The word is SHARPEIS, and this is a dog.

Carola 11:49 AM  

Add me to the chorus of praise for this so enjoyable puzzle, with one smile-inducing entry after another. My way in was ENESCU x OVER TO YOU x EVISCERATE and then a counterclockwise swing around to finish up with ON RETAINER and SPEED DATES.
I agree with @Rex that TWITTERATI has probably seen its day, but I certainly was glad to see it, as a ladder from ZACHARIAH up into the NE. Favorite clue: Potential rescue.

Re: "Batteries" and ASSAULTS. My dunce-cap moment was entering ArSenalS - even realizing that batteries of guns would presumably be supplied by arsenals rather than being synonymous didn't stay my hand.

jb129 11:50 AM  

A "Friday-worthy" puzzle

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Had a real hard time gettin in. Had a real hard time gettin out, too boot. Difficulty grade for this puppy: Medium tougher than snot.

As I recall, tried YAP, then sorta twin-got OOF/MOVIEFAN, to finally get an entry toenail hold. Last entry in: the mysterious SPEEDDATES, whose ?-clue failed even in retrospect to clear things up, at our house.

staff weeject pick: DMC. Primo RRBWRN [Random Raised By Wolves Roman Numeral]. honrable mention to UMS, for which M&A verbally stumbled thru a lotta other answers, for many many precious nanoseconds.

fave fillins included: Like @RP said, the SE 10-stack, but tack on that there TENSIONHEADACHE runnin thru it.

Thanx for the feisty FriPuz, Mr. Vaughn. Good job, a la ASSAULTS & EVISCERATE & HEADACHE.

Masked & Anonym007Us

p.s. Road trip! M&A will be out of touch, for a short spell. Be good.


The Critical Mind 12:00 PM  

'Pena' is not a middle name, but is one of two last names. It is his patronymic. 'Nieto' is his matronymic. A word I do not believe I have ever written.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

EVE CURIE - What a loser!!

Whatsername 12:01 PM  

What I learned from my Crossword today: “PICARESQUE: pertaining to, characteristic of, or characterized by a form of prose fiction, originally developed in Spain, in which the adventures of an engagingly roguish hero are described in a series of usually humorous or satiric episodes that often depict, in realistic detail, the everyday life of the common people.”

Excellent Friday with a couple of little glitches. I thought Rex was unfairly nit picky and his BIAS against the editor was showing today. Nothing wrong with Twitterati, it absolutely is a current thing. But I do agree on 34A that the clue doesn’t really fit the answer ILIED. Also he makes a good point with the ASSAULT and battery being two different things. I tried my best to make 56A be PIRATESQUE but was delighted with the resulting answer. What a great word! A good solid challenge to wrap up the week. Thanks Luke!

Marge 12:20 PM  

11 across: How is stub related to providential?

Dick Veit 12:34 PM  

Think of "plays with matches" and "speed dates" as verbs, not nouns. Then it works.

Joseph M 12:35 PM  

Holy Enescu! This puz was one tough nut to crack. Felt like a series of ASSAULTS as I worked my way through the clues looking for a way in. Finally found an opening and began to solve.

I could have used a few less names, but there were some nice payoffs such as CHEAP SEATS and TENSION HEADACHE.

Bad clue for 5D. One who is infamous is known for their bad deeds but not necessarily DETESTED. Ask any anti-hero.

Never heard of ATH LEISURE, but enjoyed learning the term. It describes half of the people sitting around me when I travel by plane. OOF. Whatever happened to the days when my parents would get dressed up in their Sunday best to fly above the clouds and sip martinis?

I thought SHARPEIS were what you use to alter weather maps in order to cover up your mistakes.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

How about cluing Kurt Waldheim as ¨disgraced former UN Secretary General¨ or perhaps “former Nazi official elected UN Secretary General?”
I had a lot of trouble in the SW for no reason I can figure out now. Just nine blank squares taunting me (Alicia or Alison?).

Joe Dipinto 12:42 PM  

"And now here's Donald with the weather. Don, why do you have those Shar-Peis in the studio? And why are they chewing up Florida on the map? What's that, your assistant misheard you – you asked for sharpies?"

For me the top left section was unfun. ÈVE CURIE is ridiculous, as is the clue for SPEED DATES. Elsewhere, I never heard of ATHLEISURE, but I detest it when people wear gym clothes outside of the gym. Where are the twitterati who so often influence this blog today?

But EVISCERATE and PICARESQUE are two of my favorite words, so +++ there. Nice Friday challenge, nothing really awry except that journalist person.

♪ Oh Lydia, the tattooed lady
She has eyes that folks adore so
And a torso even more so ♪

JC66 12:45 PM  


You're confusing the answer to 11A (Rip-off? → STUB) with the clue for 15A (Providential → HEAVEN SENT).

Clover 12:45 PM  

My first ever Friday finish!!! (And my first ever comment.) Also, I had no idea that Quiet Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” was a cover until today.

old timer 12:45 PM  

Silly me! I figured OFL would rip this puzzle for being too damn Easy for a Friday. Instead, he stumbled, so felt the need to pan all sorts of things that were, IMO, acceptable and often quite clever. I basically raced through this thing, thanks to TENSIONHEADACHE and ZACHARIAH, easily guessed when you have the ACH. I ended with STUB, a very clever misdirect on Luke's part.

ASSAULTS is indeed a Fail, and should have been clued "swings at" or something like that. And I know all about Cotton-Eyed Joe, an old-time string band tune. Michelle Shocked sang a lovely tune about Mr. Joe, "Prodigal Daughter" (if it wasn't for Cotton-Eyed Joe, she'd have been married a long time ago).

It was a joy to learn about EVE CURIE and I plan to see if it's in my local library.

QuasiMojo 1:14 PM  

@Nancy, love it! Wish I could see you doing it. I've had an earworm all day myself. "Experiment" by Cole Porter.

Nampa Bob 1:18 PM  

Faster than average, but not really a fan if this one.
Some annoying clueing.
Thinking to myself “yyyyyeahhh, not really” a couple of times.

RooMonster 1:19 PM  

Hey All !
Fell into the too-many-names-I-don't-know abyss in the NW, and had to Goog for PENA and ENESCU (though in hindsight, having ___scu should've prodded the crossword section of the ole brain, since I remember the fun O vs. U argument). Having breD for 1D and plaN for 3D further determented my chances up there.

Have heard of PICTURESQUE, but not PICARESQUE. Who decided to make those words so similar? :-)

Quiet Riot couldn't squeeze into 5 squares, so that was a Huh? for a bit. They seem to have taken other songs from SLADE, according to the list of @Ethan Taliesin 9:49.

Took a minute to suss AQUA by the clue, but got there. Also, SEES I just figured our. Har, SEES, as in DATES, or Goes with. Speaking of 1A, if you add 'around' to clue, Plays around with matches, is makes more sense. (To me.)

One F, OOF, better than none.


RAD2626 1:25 PM  

Agree with all the positive comments. Terrific puzzle. Although my time was average, spent way more time struggling with the cluing in the top half and sort of blew through ( for me) the bottom half.

Agree with Rex’ assessment of the trio in the SE, just not his comparison. Tinkers to Evers to Chance is damnation by faint praise. There is no doubt they are the least worthy members of Baseball’s HOF, and are there solely because of the popularity of the Franklin Pierce Adams 1910 poem “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon”. None had a career average over 300, and they each had but a handful of career home ruins, low totals even in the dead ball era. I also would venture to say that fewer than 1% of even avid baseball fans know any of their first names.

Unknown 1:44 PM  

under word of the day what is a "fagther"

OISK 2:21 PM  

Everybody's got a home but me..
I had to find it , because I knew it would be familiar (@Nancy). New version with Laura Osnes is nice...As to the puzzle - I don't agree with most here. Slade?? DMC??? Athleisure? Twitterati, Icyhot - gives me a tension headache...Add Tupac as another meaningless (to me) but familiar name, and I am having less fun. Enescu was a welcome change; I love the two Rhapsodies...

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

I'm pretty sure it means only what the title implies. Slade had a history of songs with "wacky" spelling - "Mama Weer All Crazee Now", "Skweeze Me Pleeze Me" etc. Nothing more than that.

Russell Davies 2:26 PM  

"Comes with batteries" might have been a merry clue for "assaults"

Sir Hillary 2:44 PM  

@RAD2626 -- Grant, Medgar and Dean? :)

RooMonster 3:26 PM  


Maybe a married with kids man who's out of the closet?
(Hopefully, that won't send any IRE me way.)


What? 4:57 PM  

Aqua is a blue green shade

What? 4:58 PM  

Great puzzle. Finished it but took awhile.
An old fashioned drink uses bourbon, not rye.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

First friday completion! With the easy Saturday from a few weeks ago (todays was much more difficult) I've now solved every day unassisted. Big month!

Molasses 5:39 PM  

@pbc Interesting story from your WSJ days. I went to high school with an exchange student from Colombia who tried unsuccessfully to explain her many names to me - if I remember correctly, she had about three names before getting to her parents' last names - your explanation seems like it might actually stick, so thanks.

I thought this puzzle was hard although I was able to get it all without Google's assistance. I didn't know most of the names, but was able to guess them with the help of the crosses. I had as much trouble with OOF as with any of the longer answers; I wrote in MOVIEFAN from the clue and took it back out because of the 3-letter word ending in F it created, and didn't put it back till DANCE gave me CURIE which gave me USO.

Z 6:23 PM  

@What? - The IBA disagrees.

@unknown1:44 - Typoratti me thinks.

I think @jberg did the SHAR PEI/sharpies joke first, so he gets the permanent marker on his permanent record.

@Clover - The shocking thing is that, aside from the big hair, the cover might as well be karaoke. I thought the year seemed really early and then watching the video I was wondering if the memory was going. Quiet Riot would have needed fewer letters to get even if not as automatic for me as for you and some others.

QuasiMojo 6:34 PM  

Great puzzle in other paper today @Lewis!

jae 6:52 PM  

Nice to have a Fri. on the tough side. A fine puzzle, liked it.

Ryan 7:05 PM  

For what it's worth, Ms. Ko's birth name is Bo-Gyung. Her family emigrated from Korea to New Zealand when she was 6, which is where she began using the name Lydia.

I happen to be a fan of hers and women's golf generally but it's certainly not an easy name to guess!

pbc 7:38 PM  

Molasses: To your point about all the names, Pena's mother's name is María del Perpetuo Socorro Ofelia Nieto Sánchez. (The first four words translate to Mary of Perpetual Help.)

burtonkd 8:29 PM  

North was made tricky by three composers with Eastern European folkloric traditions who are all more well- than Enescu:
DVORAK, BRAHMS, BARTOK all fit, seemingly could have written Romanian Rhapsodies, but made for thorny letter mismatches with tension and stray.
Brahms wrote many Hungarian Rhapsodies
Dvorak was from Czechoslovakia before emigrating to America to write the New World Symphony and was an early proponent of African American music as the truest American musical form
Bartok wrote many Romanian Dances
Musical rhapsody over. BACKTOYOU

burtonkd 8:32 PM  

Your link to the ingredients of an old fashioned lists "Bourbon or Rye". You can both be right!

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

@What 4:58 - As is common with many of the complaints posted on this blog, your personal experience is not universal or definitive. I found several recipes for Old Fashioneds that call for rye or bourbon, with rye listed first.

Lewis 9:04 PM  

@quasi -- Thanks!

albatross shell 9:20 PM  

Did a little googling on Cottoneyed Joe. Some seem to think it has a racist history, exactly how I don't understand. LIKED the song so I hope it's not.

Did some googling to get through the puzzle.
Looked up ALISON LYDIA PENA. Knew ENESCU cause I pay some attention to things Romanian. My grandmother was from one of the Saxon cities in Transylvania. GUESSED ZACHARIAH from the RIAH. Thought STUB SPEEDDATES OVERTOYOU ILIED all had good clues. The joke with ILIED is that it is not the same as the clue, but people who lie use the clue to cover up the fact they were lying. Rex is a little slow sometimes.
AQUA PHD made me a little slow. Is SO CAL only short for Southern California when writing? If spoken, how is it pronounced?

PICARESQUE was new to me.
Helluva puzzle. Ha's and ahas all over.

EVISCERATE got my juices flowing even if is more grossing than engrossing.

BobL 9:27 PM  

Well, in Wisconsin it is Brandy, then Whiskey.

Joaquin 9:43 PM  

@what? I make an old fashioned with Southern Comfort. They're a family tradition and favorite.

Swagomatic 10:28 PM  

I was hoping Rex would give a shout out to the Sklar Brothers and their awesome comedy sports show from the mid 2000s. It is original and very funny. Look it up, episodes can be found o. You tube. I liked the puzzle. I award it a Cheapie.

CDilly52 11:31 PM  

@Anonymous 11:10. I do care about the technical awfulness of the constructor/editor equating ASSAULTS with batteries. Very technically, if a battery occurs it must follow an assault if we are talking about unlawful threat of physical harm and the culmination. As you correctly point out, there are several “flavors” of assault and battery. Physical, verbal etc. Sloppy point in an otherwise lovely puzz

benjaminthomas 11:44 PM  

Coming back to correct some major mistakes by @RAD2626.

There is certainly a great deal of doubt that Tinker, Evers and Chance are the least worthy members of Baseball's HOF. Clearly the popularity of the poem had a major impact on getting them in. But it is after all, a Hall of FAME. And they were some of the most famous players of their (or any) time.

More to the point, even if you say fame should have nothing to do with getting into the HOF, and it should be based solely on their value as players ... all three are VERY far from being the worst players in there. Tommy McCarthy, anyone?

Finally, far more than 1% of avid baseball fans know Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. I daresay that if you don't know their first names, you more likely than not are NOT an avid baseball fan.

spacecraft 11:37 AM  

KURT was my way in, so that SE corner came first. I finished in the central west, after seeing EVISCERATE. "Remove the contents of?" Really? Yeah , if you're removing the contents of somebody's abdomen. OOF! That clue was at least as bad as 1-a.

Luckily I don't get 8-downs, but a few moments into this one might have produced one. With ending -URE already in place, I thought sure the "Fashion portmanteau" of 59-a would end in -COUTURE...wouldn't you? That step AWRY cost several nanominutes, and an ink mess.

Also misspelled the composer's name in the NW, confusing him with I(o)NESCo. These toe STUBs were the only slowdowns in a puzzle I'd call medium for a Friday. It was educational, for sure. ALL those overachieving CURIEs! Must be in their DNA. Never heard of ATHLEISURE, but the term sort of makes sense, I guess. The composer and that ZACHARIAH fellow were also new.

Almost anybody on the LPGA tour probably qualifies for DOD; LYDIA Ko certainly does. It's rare for me to like solving a puzzle with TWO (!) rappers in it, but today's a rare day. Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:09 PM  


with BIAS they’re DETESTED, too,
but SEE, I’m ELATED, here’s why:


rondo 1:04 PM  

No write-overs, so how tough could it have been? But I was prepared to change ENESCU’s U to an O if necessary, you never know with that guy. I think it’s forest/trees again with OFL, OVERTOYOU is exactly ‘like’ the clue comment; same meaning, different words.

Youngest golfer ever to be ranked number 1 in the world: LYDIA Ko. Yeah baby. Wish I could play like her.

Nothing AWRY today, so no TENSIONHEADACHE here. BYE BYE.

leftcoast 4:05 PM  

Took time to get a foothold and found it in the lower tiers, building up from there.

Trouble up top. Wanted Mme. Curie instead of EVE, and ASIA seemed awfully big for a couple of very specific animal names. Trouble, too, with ASSAULTS to go with "batteries". Wanted some kind of cells, like triple A's. The plural nouns didn't help.

Some very good clues and answers here and liked the puzzle, but didn't finish in the NNW.

Diana, LIW 4:57 PM  

Too much PPP for me. Liked what I got, but missed a lot.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 5:49 PM  

A very enjoyable and challenging (for me) puzzle. Even though I moved slowly through it, my only real roadblock came at that home of yaks and zebus (what are zebus? Cross between zebras and emus?). I kept saying to myself, that has to be in ASIA and so I perseverated on Laos and Java. That last "a" allowed me to get assaults, but it took forever to give up on Java. So, d'uh, of course - ASIA!

So many great answers; so many good clues. As a half-Romanian, I was half-sure the composer's name ended in "cu" and so, done at ICYHOT and OVER TO YOU.

Another in a series of good puzzles this week.

strayling 7:14 PM  

Worth it for the mention of SLADE, who were huge in the UK, perhaps not so much across the pond.

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