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Friday, November 15, 2019

Constructor: Debbie Ellerin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (untimed clipboard solve)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Helmut SCHMIDT  (39D: German chancellor between Brandt and Kohl) —
Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt (German pronunciation: [ˈhɛlmuːt ˈha͡ɪnʁɪç ˈvaldəmaːɐ ˈʃmɪt]; 23 December 1918 – 10 November 2015) was a German politician and member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), who served as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from 1974 to 1982. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well this was pretty nice. Started out less than great, as NW is full of things I don't *love*—you can keep most murderers out of my grids, no matter how fun their names are, and LALALAND feels like the most ubiquitous 8-letter answer in existence, so I'm a little tired of it, and that clue on ELBA, yeesh, that's a cryptic clue, not a real clue, which, if I'm doing a cryptic, Great, but here, groan—but then I hit LEONARD COHEN and things got muuuuuch better, if only because LEONARD COHEN was playing in the background of my mind for the remainder of the solve (23A: Singer of "I'm Your Man" and "Hallelujah"). For some reason I found the SCIENTIST part of DATA SCIENTIST sort of a letdown (15D: Modern-day "miner"). Like, I got DATA, and thought "oh, what's the cool slangy techy whatever term for ... whatever this is?" And it was just some dork in glasses, which, I'm a dork in classes, so, hey there, but I was expecting something more zeitgeisty like a DATA, well, MINER, or FORAGER or COMPTROLLER or I don't know what. But then I was buoyed yet again by cool Acrosses, this time the colloquial pair of "I CAN'T EVEN!" and "IS THAT A THING?" (a question I am fond of, as you know ... actually, I'm more fond of the statement, "THAT'S NOT A THING," but I can get down with the interrogative if that's how you wanna play it. Just noticed that the word "sunshine" is an anagram of the word "SUSHI" (in the grid) and the direction "NNE" (not in grid). You know, in case you were thinking of writing any more of them there cryptic clues for "sunshine," which, why would you, but my brain does what it does in the morning, and I just like to roll with it.

Toughest part for me was the SW, where I finished up. MAIMS seems much stronger than 49A: Hurts. My [Stable staple] was an OAT at first. I forgot the SAMOA cookie existed. But the bigger issues down there were SCHMIDT (no memory of that dude, who left office when I was in 7th grade) and GANTRY (which I know only in its Elmer form). Fitting that NO IDEA was down there as well. But IMING and TIPIN helped me sort things out eventually. NE corner is the roughest-looking, I think. ARABIA sounds like a fictional place, though I guess I'm thinking of ARABY, which is more a poetic than a fictional place. Anyway, ARABIA is not a clearly defined location in my head. And LATEN, while it beats LOUDEN (!) (see yesterday), isn't too fun, and OBEAH I actually kind of like (learned it from xwords), but LISLE, no, no, whenever I see "fabric" in a clue and the answer is five letters I honestly think "oh, f.u." TOILE TULLE TWILL VOILE SISAL LISLE I give up.

Five things:
  • RATED R (26A: Rather racy, say) — Do NOT like "say," here. "Perhaps" or "in a way" feel better. RATED R is too much of a subset to warrant "say." [Sick, say] for PALLID would be bad. You *might* be PALLID if you're sick, but sickness has way too many potential effects. Movies are RATED R for all kinds of reasons, and anyway "racy" is very imprecise. I realize my negative reaction to "say" is all out of proportion, but off-sounding cluing irks me. 
  • 42D: In a rage (ANGRILY) — argh, adverb! Did not see that coming. I was like "Why won't ANGRY fit ... "ANGRRRY!"
  • 36D: Stain on Santa (SOOT) — just glad I had the SO- in place before I saw this clue. If I'd had the -OO- in place, well, I might've had some very different ideas about how Santa stained himself.
  • 4D: Major inconveniences (HASSLES) — related to my problem spelling NICKEL, I cannot comfortably spell this word either. Actually left the "LE" part blank at first because I worried it might be "EL" :(
  • 41D: Mo. whose birthstone is garnet (JAN) — god save me from the damn "birthstone" clue. It's like the traditional anniversary gift clue, like, I don't *&^%ing know what you get someone on their 14th anniversary, and I refuse to learn. Find a better clue for JELL-O MOLDS!*
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*Yes, this is actually the traditional 14th wedding anniversary gift, it sure is, definitely and for true

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:14 AM  

Oh, this was a fun puzzle. I loved breezing (for a Friday) through the NW to SE sash, then chipping, chipping, chipping into and finally through the NE, where LISLE, LATEN. and WHALE (as clued) were buried light years into my wheelhouse, and in the SW, where GANTRY and SCHMIDT joined them, and where I was sure of COARSER rather than CRASSER for [Less refined].

That last point led to a funny moment, where COARSER led to COOON (rather than CROON) for [Serenade, maybe], and my inner child kept insisting that COO ON surely could be a synonym for the verb "serenade". "Couldn't it? Couldn't it?" I almost believed it.

All in all, this bright-in-every-sense puzzle lit up my mood and joy of cracking conundrums. Thank you ever so much, Debbie!

amyyanni 6:20 AM  

LOL at Jello Molds, Rex. And pretty much agree with today's write-up, altho I knew lisle, perhaps from 19th century novels? Good Weekends, everyone.

BarbieBarbie 6:41 AM  

This was the best Friday puzzle in a long time. For me it’s a good themeless if I have to go round and round to get most of it, and then see some really fresh entries emerging as I do. Misdirection, multiple possibilities- and ultimate success- really great. A good themed puzzle gives you one big Firecracker of an Aha, but a good themeless gives you a sparkler-ful of lots of little Oh!s.

The 3-letter head of family starting with D had to be put there expressly to rile OFL.

The only flaw: The clue for 44D is a little off. To GIN UP is to make more exciting, not get excited. In my mind, anyway.

Hand up for ANGered... good one.

Thanks and more please!

Solverinserbia 6:52 AM  

SCHMIDT, LISLE next to OBEAH, GANTRY, LATEN! Are those things? (ISTHATATHING is a thing.)

Too much total nonsense in the puzzle, but I actually failed on something eminently gettable.

Had IpING crossing pAInS crossing the German chancellor crossing GANeRY. I thought ip-ing could be something. I thought pains seemed wrong. But I wasn't even sure this was where my problem was since NE had some fake words I didn't know. If I had seen MAIMS, I get the golden.

Hungry Mother 6:55 AM  

Just 1584 heartbeats to plow through this one. The cookie was the last thing to fall. Very nice challenge.

Brian 7:07 AM  

A smooth Friday solve ... loved DATASCIENTIST!

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Most of this was just a blur. Then I hit the SW corner and slowed almost to a halt. Ichat before iMING, Smore before SAMOA, oAt before HAY, and hArMS before MAIMS.

Another example of a beautifully filled grid undone by cluing that is much too straightforward. I get that Monday-Wednesday are intended to be easier, but give us some challenge on Friday.

GILL I. 7:39 AM  

IMING?....GANTRY?...GANESH?....ARABIA without its SAUDI? OK...moving right along.
Flew through this until I reached the above words. Didn't want to think about LATEN nor LISLE. Thought the clue for WHALE (thrash on) was the strangest thing I've ever heard of. Then I get to our ubiquitous friend, EKES and I said to my self that I don't ever believe that I've EVER uttered that word in my entire life and yet I see it here all the time. I'm not even sure how to pronounce it. I love practical jokes but I don't tell JAPES.
Strange way to clue SEOUL. I wear a garnet and I guess I learned it's a JAN birthstone instead of the JUN I originally had.
While visiting my Dad in Buenos Aires, I flew back to California on Pan Am. The plane had something wrong with it and we had to land in BRASILIA for repairs. The capital was still in its infancy and buildings were being erected all over the place. When I saw it ( I think I was about 16) it was surrounded by red clay everywhere. We ended up there for three days and Pan Am put us up in a fancy hotel and did what no airline does now. They gave us tours of the place. I remember only two things: The biggest killer ant hills and a bunch of handsome Brazilian soccer team men holed up as well. I had the pick of the litter because I think I was the only single "very young" girl in the crowd. I had a lot of innocent fun.
Let's see...what else did I like. LEONARD COHEN and DION. The only thing I remember about SCHMIDT is that he was a chain smoker and lived to be almost 100. CHAPO means "shorty" in Spanish.
On to take a look see at the WSJ.

Suzie Q 7:54 AM  

Finally some fun!
I loved learning what a gantry is and that Rolf is someone's name.
A crew cut to go with our recent flat top is an odd coincident.
Now I see there is no Z in Brasilia.
I felt like "Is that a thing?" was aimed directly at this blog.
Great start to the weekend.

Z 7:56 AM  

Are DATA SCIENTISTs data miners? Seems to me the first do research on data while the latter apply that research. Does Facebook employ people to do original research about data or just profit from the fruit of actual DATA SCIENTIST’s labor?

Why go violent on the WHALE clue? And why are our cetacean friends synonymous with a good thrashing? And when is a thrashing ever “good?” Looking back, this puzzle has a pretty violent feel, EL CHAPO and his DONS WHALE on and MAIMS opponents to settle OLD SCORES.

Easyish. Totally get Rex’s LISLE rant. Just about everything I know about fabric I learned from crosswords. The clue might as well be, “five letter fabric, wait for the crosses.”

prandolph 8:08 AM  

Very smooth and easy, my fastest time ever for a Friday ( 16 min ). Liked it a lot.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Loved this. Did have to lookup follower of Brandt and then got lost for 20 minutes in German history..

Rube 8:12 AM  

Like Bach inventions for 38A? Or Pink Slips on a ship for 9D?

J. Madison 8:40 AM  

Nice to see the (untended, I am sure) nod to Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch on the day of her testimony. Excellent she is!

I understand the President gave up completing the puzzle when he could not fit BAD NEWS into 58D.

Unknown 8:46 AM  

From asking IS THAT A THING? about the answer CS MAJOR a few puzzles ago to being let down by DATA SCIENTIST....the anti-STEM (or blissfully STEM-unaware) bias is strong with this one.

pabloinnh 8:54 AM  

Did I have the same experience, generally as OFL? Why yes, yes I did. Sailing along until the SW , when OAT put the brakes on, see also ECHAT, which managed to be brilliant and absolutely wrong at the same time. SAMOA to the rescue, even though I hate coconut.

Nice to see LEONARDCOHEN. "Suzanne" is one of my all time favorites.

Thanks for the Friday fun, DE. Hoping for an ample supply of thorns and nettles tomorrow.

JC66 8:56 AM  

@Hungry Mother

Good one! You really made me laugh out loud.

RickA 9:01 AM  


Suzy 9:02 AM  

Thanks for a very fun Friday puzzle, Ms Ellerin! And kudos to Her Excellency for standing up to the would-be emperor!

Unknown 9:16 AM  

You were so tied up in ranting that you forgot to notice the puzzle’s author was a woman!

Nancy 9:24 AM  

Interesting, enjoyable, well-clued puzzle. I struggled to find a toehold in the NW, couldn't, and moved elsewhere -- finding it smooth sailing in the middle and struggling a bit once again when I got to the SW. I was furious at myself for blanking on 39D, where I was looking for SCHroeder, but it didn't fit. I feel I should know my German chancellors, even though I don't know my cartels (1A). My feeling about cartels matches my feeling about the Mafia: If they leave me alone, I'll leave them alone.

Some thoughts: If NASH said that about parsley (34D), imagine what he would have said about kale.

Re: SAMOA (46D) -- So glad to see a cookie that's not an OREO. Sounds delicious.

Re 51A. Have you ever been ROLFed??? I have, though not willingly or knowingly. The physical therapist I was going to had an assistant and she was supposed to work on my neck alternately with him. All I can say is that she didn't take the pain out. Rather, she put the pain in. I told the office manager as I was staggering out: DON'T YOU EVER LET THAT SADISTIC WOMAN NEAR MY NECK AGAIN!!!!

I found out that what she had been doing was intentional, that it had a name and that it was called ROLFing. Moral of the story: Don't ever agree to be ROLFed!!! Ever!!!

Thanks for this smooth and entertaining puzzle, Debbie.

OffTheGrid 9:27 AM  

I think LATEN would have bothered me if it had not been for LOUDEN yesterday. Instead it just made me laugh.

Dorothy Biggs 9:37 AM  


As with "silent ", the RATED R (G, PG, X) clues are becoming more and more prolific...I now look for them on the regular and am no longer stuck by them. Too much of a good thing can be too much. I suppose random Roman numerals were kind of novel early on, but then they were overused and now they're just tired...so too are "SilentX" and "RateY" in danger of becoming eye roll worthy.

Argh-LISLE! I used to have some arg-lisle socks...

I will have to wait until my moment of death, when my life passes before my eyes, when I will finally discover how and where I came to know about GANTRY. I have no idea why I should even know that word, but I do. Shame I'll end up finding out too late to tell anyone.

Also, I've always said that someone who is thrashing another is "railing on" them. I guess I've said "whaling" instead of railing before. But I would have spelled it more akin to railing..."wailing." Like thrashing someone would make them wail.

I wanted "lay up" for 47D.

QuasiMojo 9:38 AM  

Solid satisfying Friday albeit too easy, which seems to be the rule now. If it ain't La La Land, it's Oo La La or Tra La La or some variant. Surely Shortz or his assistants or even the constructors can figure out a way out of that rathole.

I saw a documentary a while back about Brasilia. An architect's fantasy perhaps but one that the people who lived and worked there reviled.

To me a soul mate is not always a true love. But on that note, I leave you with some unpallid Cole Porter

"Suntanned, windblown
Honeymooners at last alone
Feeling far above par
Oh, how lucky we are
While I give to you and you give to me
True love, true love
So on and on it will always be
True love, true love
For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to you and to give to me
Love forever true…"

SouthsideJohnny 9:40 AM  

Although as a cohort we appear to be in the minority today, I agree with the group who feel that there are just too many words that, while technically acceptable, just plain gunk up the solving experience.


Many (if not most or perhaps all) of us could easily go a decade without using any of the words listed above. Sure, a couple of them would be fine and actually enjoyable to try to parse out, however with such a high density it becomes a drudge as you can’t swing a dead cat without bumping into a garbage word. I agree with Rex in that I prefer witty wordplay over cryptic clues and really painful arcane linguistic teasers. I appear to be in the minority though. Lol. Maybe tomorrow will be more in my wheelhouse.

Pete 9:42 AM  

GANESH is a fraud! I've left weekly tribute to him at his little mini-temple in my favorite Indian Restaurant for years, and where's my good luck? My prosperity? I'm worse off now than when I began. God of beginnings? How about god of taking peoples money for nothing.

Joe Dipinto 9:58 AM  

When you can't even, try odding. Sometimes that does the trick.

This was pretty cool. Great fill, nary an acronym. Don't like the clue for IS THAT A THING but I like the answer. I second kitshef that the clues in general should have been more challenging.

Rex forgot about MOIRE as a 5-letter fabric.

Some guys trying to sound like the Young Rascals

Here's something for @pablo

Hartley70 10:00 AM  

GANTRY was the challenge of the day for me. The other answers came quickly. I know my SAMOAs since my dining room was a Girl Scout cookie distribution center for several years. Thin Mints outsell them every time for good reason as far as I’m concerned!
The vernacular answers were really enjoyable, ICANTEVEN in particular. Knowing LEONARDCOHEN lowered the difficulty level of the puzzle, but the k.d. lang version of “Hallelujah” is what I heard in my head as I solved today.

DevoutAtheist 10:11 AM  

yeah, gods are like that.

Karl Grouch 10:13 AM  

Solid and straightforward puzzle.

Nice to see Leonard Cohen and Helmut Schmidt, bless their Seouls.

Arabia does not exist (any more).
Neither does Data Scientist (yet).

Never heard of Ganesh.

Had "harms" in 49a. Put the blame on Mame.

RooMonster 10:14 AM  

Hey All !
@Hungry Mother
Har! Way to get back at the man!

Maybe "Kale is Whale s#@t." 😋 And ROFL at your ROLFing story!

Todays puz was one of those where I had to have stops twixt solving to untangle certain areas. Very odd how the ole brain sees things freshly when you do something else, then come back to the puz. Someone needs to come up with a name for that. PuzBrain Syndrome?

DNF in SW. Had oAt for HAY which killed me. Didn't know SCHMiDt (although, looking back, it's a common name, so should've guessed it), so wrote in non-sensical IMPaSo for IMPISH and GANeRt for GANTRY.

Writeovers were RATEDx-RATEDR (agree with Rex that "racy" doesn't ring with RATED R, maybe NC-17), AfricA-ARABIA, His-Her (my sexism showing).

Overall a nice FriPuz. Fun write-up from Rex. Maybe he settled an OLD SCORE?

That Browns player should be suspended for the rest of the year, fined, and then hit over the head himself with a helmet. What an ass.


Z 10:26 AM  

Forgot to ask... Does a GANTRY pantry need a sentry?

David 10:36 AM  

Whale killed me. I've always spelled it "wail". Now I know better.

@J.Madison, if 58D is a reference to Amb. Yovanovitch, surely 25D is a reference to (45).

I did the puzzle on the ferry right after hearing the morning musician trash his way through pseudo-Bach and segue into shredding Cohen (and not in a good way). Puts me in a snit.

I adamantly left "loathe" in 18A for far too long as well, it's such a great word. Detest? Meh.

There's an Arabian peninsula and Saudi Arabia. I don't think there's been an Arabia since the winners drew the maps after WWI. There was an Arabia in the Ottoman Empire.

Started tough for me but the long acrosses were, for some reason, easy. That helped.

jberg 10:43 AM  

Where I grew up, in Sturgeon Bay, one of the shipyards has a big GANTRY that could be seen from all over town. That gave me an unfair advantage, I guess. GANESH clued without reference to his elephant head was tough, but it’s Friday. Hardest part was the Y or i choice in SPRYEST.

xyz 10:47 AM  


I DUNNO 'bout you, I gin down
decent ~30 minutes (I don't time, but that's a little better than typical Friday for me)

Rumplestiltskin 10:48 AM  

"Forgot to ask... Does a GANTRY pantry need a sentry?" Wish it had stayed forgot.

PHV 10:48 AM  

When was the last time anyone used JAPE in a sentence?

WeesaSuzi 10:51 AM  

I was definitely flying through this, possibly on time for a new record, until I hit the NE corner. Just could *not* get LISLE or LATEN. Only after I gave up on AFRICA for ARABIA did I get CREW CUT and then got the rest to fall. Fun Friday themeless for me.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

"Sisal" is not a fabric, it's a fiber used to make fabric. Just sayin'...and "laten" is not a real word. That's two days in a row where the constructor is just making things up.

Ellen S 11:00 AM  

@SolverInSerbia - you got me thinking, if someone from 3/4 century ago were to land in America today (like me, for instance) the culture shock would be intense. If you’re not familiar with a word, it’s fake. THAT IS A THIING.

@Gill I, nice story. Always look forward to your posts.

I’m so glad LEONARDCOHEN didn’t give me a Hallelujah earworm. For a while, it seemed to be part of the soundtrack of every movie. I watched. I hated it. Toyed with a theory that the song is so bad, the royalties were super low so movie production companies would use it even if it didn’t fit. I know I’m supposed to admire LEONARDCOHEN, but I’m afraid enough was too much, already.

I just had one of the O’s in 36D and kept imagining souvenirs left on the lap of a department store Santa. Are there still department stores?

pabloinnh 11:02 AM  

No Arabia? Where was Lawrence from?

@JoeD--Many, many thanks for your link. My vinyl "In My Life" has been in storage for some time, mostly because the grooves from Side A were about to intersect with the grooves from Side B. If anyone sings "Suzanne" better than Judy Collins, I'm a hobbit.

Ellen S 11:19 AM  

Regarding the fake word GANTRY - it’s familiar to those of us who were taken in by the hoax space program we didn’t use to have. If gantries had existed, they would have been “a movable framework for supporting and servicing a rocket prior to launching.” (Dictionary.com, I think, a fake site if ever there was one.). I remember — implanted memory, of course -- announcers talking about moving the gantry away from the rocket just before launch.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

DATASCIENCE, by whatever definition is au courant, has virtually nothing to do with cryptocurrency mining. yeah, some geek wrote some code, which is open source for all to use, by anybody, not just DATASCIENTISTs. mining just means spending a ton of money on specialty cards for your PC and electricity to do the calcs. so much so that mining stopped being profitable for lone speculators a long time ago. most of it happens in mammoth facilities near either hydropower plants in sane countries or underused coal plants in stupid ones.

DrBB 11:50 AM  

44D was the only real clinker for me. You GIN something up (a dodgy dossier, f'rinstance), you don't get GINned up. Other than that, lively language but a little on the easy side for a Friday, at least for me.

Nancy 11:56 AM  

So I tried to post a comment on Wordplay today -- which I've been doing ever since I discovered the cut and paste function that enables me to just submit my Rexblog comment and not have to write two comments -- and it didn't go through, though I tried 4 times. Then I tried to post an original comment and that didn't go through either. I'm wondering if I've been blackballed and unceremoniously thrown off the blog?

Yesterday I replied to Deb Amlen's comment in which, in talking about UNPC, she mentioned that it was National Kindness Week (or Day, I forget) and that political correctness was nothing more than kindness. Disagreeing with her premise, I responded to it with the comment I've cut and pasted below.

As an aside, I can live without Wordplay because, unlike you can here, you can't make friends there. You have absolutely no idea who the other posters are or how to get in touch with them. So I won't especially miss it, the way I would miss Rexworld. But still, I don't think that my post justifies being thrown off the blog. I think it's thoughtful and I think it's civil. Am I wrong? Here it is below: Would you throw me off the Blog?

Deb -- My feeling is that if you have kindness, you don't need political correctness. And I must say that I don't see them as the same thing at all. Kindness long preceded political correctness. It comes from having a good heart, not wanting to hurt other people, being tactful and considerate, and obeying the Golden Rule. Political correctness is too often motivated by assuming "offense" for other people who may not feel offended at all. And then by lambasting those people who have done the assumed offending or not offending as the case may be. The blogmeister of the Other Blog I am on is a perfect case study. There have been at least 200 occasions on which he has ranted that something that was or wasn't done in a puzzle disses or offends women. And yet I can't remember a single instance in which I felt the least bit dissed or offended by what he was fulminating about. I'm the woman. He's not. This is my quarrel with political correctness, Deb -- the sanctimony of it. Kindness, OTOH, is never sanctimonious or self-righteous.

old timer 11:56 AM  

@Pete wins the Internet today, with his takedown of GANESH.

A remarkably easy puzzle for a Friday. I raced through it, or would have, but it took a remarkably long time to recognize LEONARDCOHEN. My first answer was ARABIA. My last was WHALE. I am in the "wail on" camp myself.

I also wrote in "coarser" before CRASSER and had "coal" before SOOT for a while. Like OFL I found DATASCIENTIST a little disappointing, and GINSUP seemed a little off. I'll be off to the bar soon to SUP some GIN maybe.

Jyqm 12:06 PM  

A bit of junkiness here -- that SW corner, buttressed by IMING and GANTRY, is nothing to really write home about, and like Rex I also found DATASCIENTIST to be bit anticlimactic. But it's easy to overlook such things when you've got great marquee acrosses like LEONARDCOHEN, ICANTEVEN, OLDSCORES and ISTHATATHING. SUSHIBAR over TRUELOVE is also very nice, and I'm not particularly squeamish about dastardly people showing up in the puzzle, so ELCHAPO made for a fun start for me. Also really enjoyed seeing OBEAH in the puzzle. Overall, this was just what I want out of a Friday puzzle. Cheers to Ms. Ellerin!

puzzlehoarder 12:07 PM  

This took a couple of minutes longer than last Friday's puzzle. That turned out to be a pleasant surprise after 1A and 1D were complete gimmes. Only a couple more downs dropped in up there in the NW and then I had to change BRAZILIA to BRASILIA.

Getting over to the NE was a little slow. So many people cover LEONARDCOHEN songs I fail to think of him as a singer himself. Also I had to change DADS to DONS.

The best puzzling of the day was to be found on the NE corner. With OBEAH, LISLE and LATEN all packed together this old solver was like a pig in shit.

The SW was the easiest section. After SCHMIDT and CRASSER dropped in it was just a matter of wether 49A was HARMS or MAIMS. Not hard to figure out. If you paid attention to any of the space program broadcasts back in the 60s the word GANTRY should be stamped into your brain.

Strangely I didn't get the EVEN part of 31A EVEN with ICANTE_ in place. I just couldn't see where that was going. No real harm there. I sailed through the SE and GANESH went right in off the G. Back filling the middle East section was a breeze.

A smooth and entertaining Friday.

John Hoffman 12:14 PM  

Excellent puzzle. Very current. I’ve always thought it was “wail on” rather than “whale on.” A bit easy for a Friday. Best puzzle in a long time.

Masked and Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Definitely a themelessthUmbsUp, here. Did learn a coupla new things: OBEAH. GANESH. ALI Mahershala. But still, played fairly easy, at our house.

LATEN … har. Better clue: {What days tend to do, as the sports bars start to louden??}.

fave fillins abounded. Samples: SUSHIBAR. RATHOLE. DION [and the Belmonts; A Teenager In (TRUE)LOVE, dude]. And especially ISTHATATHING [Runtpuz fillins theme song].

Spellcheck on SPRYEST…
* The Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary accepts either SPRIEST or SPRYEST as a thing, but …
* SPRIEST has the Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. SPRYEST does not.
* QED … but …
* ANGRILI? … Rily? ITAT? (see 45-A)

staff weeject pick: EDT. This pup is capable of morphin into a brandnew weeject, no matter how U rearrange the letters. A couple of em might best partake of a double-?? clue, tho *.
Only 8 of the lil weeject darlins to choose from, in this here FriPuz. HAY! … SAD. etc.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Ellerin darlin. Great job. Come on back, at any old laten date.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

* TDE has been in some ancient NYTPuzs. DTE: not.


jae 12:21 PM  

Easy-medium. My only issue was resisting GINS UP for gets excited. I’ve mostly seen it as a synonym for “creates” in a possibly nefarious way...as in “Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to GIN UP politically motivated investigations... “ (George Kent).

Fortunately, I knew GANESH.

More than enough sparkle, liked it a bunch.

Dan P 12:24 PM  

GANTRY usage is becoming more common for tolling vehicles electronically. The Mass Turnpike, aka I-90, has eliminated all toll booths and replaced them with gantries.

JC66 12:49 PM  


I thought your response to @Deb A was fine and can't believe you'd be kicked off the blog for it. It's probably a technical SNAFU.

mathgent 12:51 PM  

Nancy, brilliant! If Deb blackballs you for that, you don't want to be on her blog.

okanaganer 1:02 PM  

For 15 down, having DATA SC--- made me try like heck to make DATA SCRAPER fit. I actually wrote a data scraper program once, it basically combed an organization's website for email addresses, and saved them to a file which my boss could import into Outlook to do a mass emailing. I enjoyed it but it felt a little creepy.

Hoorah for Canadian singers! Well hoorah for Leonard, not so much for Celine, personally.

IS THAT A THING is a great answer that is apparently quite difficult to write a clue for.

SouthsideJohnny 1:05 PM  

@Nancy, you did yourself proud - and you described Rex to a T ! Hopefully just a computer glitch regarding the posting issues. Stand up and take a bow !

jb129 1:10 PM  

Fun & challenging for me.

Teedmn 1:24 PM  

This was almost Weintraub-smooth today. 12:28 solve, that's fast for a Friday, for me. But there were still a couple of mental hangups along the way.

With S___LL in place at 8A, can StrOLL be considered to be going up or down smoothly. (In a word, NO!)

Like @Suzie Q, I wanted a Z in BRASILIA which became a momentary HASSLE.

I put in EDT right away but didn't like the ____DR that gave me at 26A so I took it out, only later to re-enter it.

I've been working on my cryptic skills lately so ELBA was my first entry but I was leery of it because it was so cryptic. Glad it was correct!

I had Rex's oAt down in the SW because oats seem so much more of a staple than HAY, but I think my human bias is showing.

GANESH - I always love when he shows himself. My memory tells me that I was introduced to GANESH as a Hindu god through the book, "A Son of the Circus" by John Irving. I seem to remember a LAV with GANESH tusks as the hot and cold water faucets but I can't find anything on Google to confirm this memory. Anybody else? I did read the book circa 2002 so it's a bit fuzzy.

Thanks, Debbie Ellerin, for a sweet Friday themeless.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Check out “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love” available to stream from Amazon and Apple. You may have a different opinion of Leonard Cohen after watching it.

Richardf8 1:55 PM  

I put in HIS too bearing in mind that I should use the crosses to see if HER would be better.

Ethan Taliesin 2:29 PM  

I didn't know the word GANTRY, but crossed it into existence. Good word to have in my working vocab.

Leonard COHEN is this guy I keep encountering but never took the time to really know who he is, other than that singer who seems to appeal to people who purport to have taste. He's okay, I guess, but not my mate gourd of yerba.

Malcolm Gladwell had an episode of Revisionist History about the Cohen song Hallelujah that was interesting. (I often disagree with Gladwell, but I enjoy entertaining his perspectives)

LALALAND should be used very sparingly in grids, just as "I CANT EVEN" should be used sparingly irl.

Joe Dipinto 2:56 PM  

→Hoorah for Canadian singers! Well hoorah for Leonard, not so much for Celine, personally. ←@okanager

Don't forget "that bitch Anne Murray."

Unknown 3:11 PM  

James? C'mon.

Crimson Devil 3:42 PM  

Learned GANISH, ROLF, GANTRY, & OBEAH—-what a crossword word !

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

The "say" in the RATEDR clue felt a tiny bit like a cryptic pointing at the alliteration.

GILL I. 3:59 PM  

@Nancy...Your letter was superb. I do't think it was blackballed. I've posted maybe twice on Worplay - probably because @Rex was drinking his favorite Manhattan and the blog wasn't up yet. Bleh. Sorry if that's unPC.
Anyway, speaking of....I like to also think that I'm a kind human being. I tell my daughter "Just smile and say good morning to someone you don't know and I'm betting you all the money I have in my purse, that person will return the good morning." It's addictive. You smile, chances are very good, that person will smile back.
On the UNPC front....I laugh. Here are some examples of what you now should call certain people. Try and guess what you actually want to say, but it's now deemed UNPC:
Yes...these are considered terms you should now use. Oh....@Rex doesn't speak for me. No one speaks for me. I like me just the way I am. :-)

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Don't forget Proofreading Challenged

Nancy 4:45 PM  

Thanks, everyone!!! I went to the park on what may be the last beautiful day for a while, and came home not knowing what I'd find in response to my query. But I shouldn't have worried: this blog is enormously supportive and pretty much never lets you down. I hope you're right, @JC66, that it's just a glitch over at Wordplay. But if it isn't -- well this is the blog that I truly would miss if I couldn't be on it. I feel good about all your thoughtful and encouraging responses and am grateful.

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

@GILL I. Genuinely curious about "waitron." Only place I've ever heard it used was Montana Eve in the West Village, circa 1977. (Anthony Bourdain was a cook there but food was so-so.) Did you work or eat there?

Hank 5:08 PM  

Surprisingly easy for me, a relative novice.

The answers came pretty swiftly but there was an engaging challenge as well.

The only strumpet for me was LISLE

Nancy 5:44 PM  

@GILL (3:59)-- my guesses:

1. Good in bed
2. Blind
3. Short
4. Maids
5. Fired
6. Waitresses


If I'm correct on the first, ORHORIZONTALLY GIFTED (and I'm not quite sure what the "OR" is doing there, GILL), this reminds me of Larry Hart's wonderful lyric from "Bewitched":

In the dark he is seeking
Words to get off his chest.
Horizontally speaking,
He's at his very best.

You won't ever see or hear that stanza anymore. Or much else in the song that's great. The entire lyric has been "cleaned up" and all the suggestive stuff is gone. Poof. How do you substitute

...My mistake, I agree.
He may laugh but I love it --
Although the laugh's on me.


...My mistake, I agree.
He's a laugh and I love it --
Because the laugh's on me.

And that's just one stanza. They've all been changed. Generations will live and die without knowing the real lyrics of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered."

Joe Dipinto 5:44 PM  

Sorry, I misspelled okanaganer's name above.

BobL 6:18 PM  

Do we want Nancy here? Is the Pope Catholic?

mjddon 7:32 PM  

Rex, I learned about gantries when driving to Boston two years ago. It’s all they have on the Mass Pike, I think. And they are now being installed on the NY Thruway. No more toll booths. The cameras on them note where you are and charge EZ pass or mail you a bill. I remember the word by thinking of Elmer.

tim 7:39 PM  

Hey so with all the posturing on this blog about sexism in the crossword, is it really possible that no one noticed that two (2) clues/answers in this female-constructed puzzle slyly penalize the solver for sexist preconceptions? "Heads of families" tries to lure you into guessing DADS (which I did, though I imagined the Times would catch hell for it) and "___ Excellency" wants to entrap you, like that old joke/puzzle about the surgeon, into assuming a gender from the office and writing HIS.

GILL I. 8:16 PM  

@Anony 4:49....I think it may have been my daughter. She has been a "server" on and off for many years while putting herself through University. I had to look it up to see if that is indeed a "word." It is if you want to be a bit anal. Oops. Can't say that can I? I like @nony 4:20's Proofreading Challenged. That one makes me laugh. I tell that to Mr. MacBook Air every day he changes my words. (sigh) ...what's a broad to do?

JP 8:33 PM  

Ah, that naughty Lisle. Such a strumpet.

GILL I. 8:51 PM  

#1...Nope:....Not sure where I got that one. It means Obese. I suppose many are good in bed but I've never had the pleasure.
#2 Yep.
#3 Yep
#4 Nope...Domestic engineers are now stay at home moms or dads.
#5 Yep
#6 Yep
Yay...you got 4 out of 6.....!!!
I'm going to add wealth redistribution for ROBBERY and reality change for INSANE.
Give me some Larry Hart anytime.

Joe Dipinto 10:01 PM  

They tried to make a push for "waitron" a long time ago but it never gained traction, probably because it sounds too robotic. I think "server" is fine. I had thought "domestic engineer" was supposed to mean what once was known as a "housewife". Nowadays "stay-at-home wife" (or "husband" or "mom" or "dad") doesn't seem to carry any perceived negative connotation.

@Nancy, I never follow Wordplay but I visited out of curiosity and noticed that some other commenters said they'd submitted posts that didn't show up. So there could just be a glitch. But it also occurred to me that maybe Deb Amlen didn't want to publish a post taking a fellow crossword blogger to task, especially during "National Kindness week" or whatever, and since it's very obvious who you are talking about. I can't imagine you'd be permanently banned though.

Fred Romagnolo 11:28 PM  

Pablo: Araby? Jberg: I'm with you on Y or I,but maybe it's y here because it precedes an e. No one has mentioned that SCHMIDT was a classical pianist, even made recordings, a class act. We had our own, Condoleeza. I didn't see it as a feminist tract, but if it was, how clever!

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

@Lewis, please, I recognize that you have whale embedded in your wheelhouse, but your wheelhouse would surely be buried under the whale, which is a monstrous mondegreen, because nobody could hoist and manipulate a whale to beat on someone else, or wail on them. I would hope we could vote in a 40-lashes penalty, while we’re at it, for constructors who mispercept homonyms like wail/wale/whale, bale/bail, etc.

I was on course with you, however, on coarse. Next, we’ll get crassness.

spacecraft 12:17 PM  

@Lewis: GMTA. Sat there loooking at three O's and wondered, "COO ON? ISTHATATHING?" Thus changed CoArSER to CRASSER, after already rejecting CRUDER as too short. (CRUUDER? Has @M&A approval, I bet.)

@OFC: I went with ANGered. Cost some nanominutes in the SE.

@Quasi: That song brings back that wonderful, feel-good movie "High Society," along with its star and honorable-mention timeless DOD Grace Kelly.

I WHALEd on the NW for a change and thought, well, this is gonna be like shooting fish in a barrel. Not. Next I SCROLLed down the west coast, fixed 40-down and did the SW, including another indirect reference to a DOD: Jean Simmons, star of "Elmer GANTRY." So, hon. mention there, too. But ALI MacGraw, of [TRUE]LOVE Story, is in the grid, so she wins the sash.

ICANTEVEN say how I was "able" to finish in the NE; I can tell you it involved guessing. LATEN follows LOUDEN. This stuff is likely to angeren me. Overall a Friday-hard puzzle, with attendant triumph points. Had to overcome the initial bad taste of 1-across, but as they say, it's only a word in a crossword. "The author in no way endorses the real-world worth of any entries." Hopefully, anyhow. Birdie.

rainforest 2:34 PM  

This started off seemingly easy when I splatzed in EL CHAPO, confirmed by ELBA and ONION. Thus was the NW readily despatched, but the remainder of the puzzle proved rather tougher.

Of course LEONARD COHEN and DION were gimmes for this Canadian (I'd also like to see Lightfoot, Murray, Mitchell, Buble). Took awhile to get SCROLL, but LATEN I "knew" from a previous puzzle. The most challenging section was the SW, but eventually I got IS THAT A THING from GANESH/JAPES/ANGRILY, and the SW fell.

A pretty lively puzzle, not as hard as some Friday's, but very enjoyable.

Burma Shave 2:50 PM  


I’ve got NOIDEA about TRUELOVE.


Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Leonard Cohen? Saw about 15 seconds of him "singing" one of his songs on t.v. - the guy seemed clinically mopey.

Diana, LIW 3:49 PM  

Started it, left it for a while, and came back and it all fell in place. Sometimes it's like that.

Diana, LIW

rondo 9:39 PM  

Gotta love LEONARDCOHEN. There's a great story about him recording the video for "Closing Time" (great song) involving his girlfriend at the time, Rebecca Mornay(yeah baby). She helped to relieve the above-mentioned mopiness. Anyway, LEONARDCOHEN was one of the best poets/songwriters of our time. Not as prolific as @Burma Shave, but more substantive.

The only mess was my layup changing into a TIPIN. And I always thought it was wail, not WHALE. Otherwise, good puz.

rondo 9:51 PM  

Pardon please LOENARDCOHEN's girlfriend was Rebecca deMornay

Diana, LIW 10:08 PM  

I've also heard tell that Burma Shave was not as morose as Mr. Cohen. But then, he had those road signs!

Lady Di

CY 1:00 AM  

A rare editing miss in the clue for 18A. "Revile" and DETEST mean two different things, the former referring to language, the latter to internal feelings.

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