Golfer Carol who won 1965 US Women's Open / FRI 12-27-19 / Establishment with 12 cabins in classic 1960 film / Smith player of doctor on doctor who / Co-creator of Watchmen comic books / Historic speaker at Israel's Knesset on 11/20/1977 / Mountebanks less formally

Friday, December 27, 2019

Constructor: Sam Trabucco

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for me) (6:24)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BOTNETS (21A: Malicious creations of hackers)
botnet is a number of Internet-connected devices, each of which is running one or more bots. Botnets can be used to perform distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), steal data, send spam, and allows the attacker to access the device and its connection. The owner can control the botnet using command and control (C&C) software. The word "botnet" is a combination of the words "robot" and "network". The term is usually used with a negative or malicious connotation. (wikipedia)
• • •

I had no strong positive or negative feelings about this one. It's fine. I do think the Friday NYTXW has an obligation to be somewhat better than fine, but there's nothing particularly *wrong* with this grid. It just doesn't have much sparkle or personality. It's fine. It's full of ... things. Real things. Maybe it's the editing / cluing that's the problem—the voice. It just doesn't have one, or not an interesting one, anyway. It all just feels very pro forma and workmanlike. I just can't see being excited to put any of these answers in the grid, and with themelesses, exciting answers should be the seeds—the things you build your grid out from. Always excited to see ALANMOORE, but I've seen him before. Same with BATESMOTEL. FROZEN MARGARITA is probably the snazziest thing here, and it occupies its rightful place of centrality. I just didn't experience any "ooh, good one!" moments, which, on a Friday (the best day) is a bit disappointing. I also found the puzzle frustrating to solve not just because of the clue difficulty but because of names I didn't know. A MATT here, a MANN there. The answers ... don't seem like terribly important people. I dunno. At least if you're teaching me a new name, give me someone it seems like it might be worth knowing. There have been a million "Doctor Who" doctors, Who cares? And a golfer who won a tournament 55 years ago??? There are so many great MANNs you could've gone with: a barely consequential golfer of yore just didn't do anything fo r me. Of course the relative delightfulness of names varies from solver to solver, so you may feel differently. But take GOTYE. I got(yed) it easily, but I don't think it's *good*. A single hit 7 years ago, and a name that is utterly uninferrable at every letter ... is not great fill. You really gotta be careful with names.

I struggled to get any real flow going with this one (though the NW and especially the SE went much faster than the rest of it). Made a ton of mistakes. Here are some of them:

  • IVORY for EBONY (4D: Key material) — the fact that the "O" and the "Y" worked in the crosses made this one pretty tenacious. I was very lucky that SAT (25A: Rested) and HUH? (31A: "You said what?") were both correct guesses, and that I was (thus) able to see FELT AT HOME with only three letters in place.
  • SAGS for SETS (13D: Goes down) — thank god ALAN MOORE set me straight, 'cause I felt pretty good about SAGS.
  • SODA for COLA (49D: Mixer option) — I mean, of course I made this error; it's a classic error, and I'm always going to make it: SODA for COLA, COLA for SODA ... I'm just doomed that way.
  • OBE for DSO (54D: Brit. military honor) — a. I think you mean "honour" and b. uggggggh of all the bygone clues of yore, the Brit. military honor is the one I would like to be the bygoneiest.
  • GEEK for KOOK (39A: Weirdo) — I did think the clue was a *little* harsh for GEEK, but I had that terminal "K" and just ran with the first thing that came to mind.
  • STEN (!?) for ICBM (48D: Cold War weapon, for short) — I knew pretty much as I was writing in STEN that it was wrong and that ICBM was another, probably stronger possibility. But still, for the record, I definitely wrote in STEN. 

Other struggles included: wanting FROST or FROSTED or FROSTY something at 34A: It's icy and coated with salt (FROZEN MARGARITA); wanting OH MY something for the (to me, Very difficulty) "OH, LORDY!" (45A: "Heavens!"); wanting absolutely nothing for ELON, which, crossing the absolutely unknown MANN, was brutal (50D: Southern university or the town it's in); having ZERO and then zero idea what could follow (35D: Favorable loan term); figuring the [Malicious creations of hackers] were some kind of BOTS (i.e. I wanted BOTS at the end of the word); and forgetting Stormy Daniels was a PORN STAR (for some reason, I just thought she was a stripper—look, I try really hard not to pay attention to the most of the more lurid *&$^ associated with the current administration, I really do, it's just too much soul-crushing sludge for a decent human mind to bear) (10D: Stormy Daniels, e.g.). Glad to see ALAN MOORE clued as *co-*creator of "Watchmen"—was half-hoping the answer to that clue was going to be DAVE GIBBONS. Comics artists are often creators of worlds, not just secondary illustrators, and nowhere is that more true than in "Watchmen." I hope the next ALAN MOORE clue recognizes his vast and influential post-DC output ("League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," "From Hell," "Tom Strong," "Promethea," etc.). But, you know, baby steps.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Berndo 12:11 AM  

This was my fastest Friday ever. It just made me feel like a genius!

Brian 12:11 AM  

Easy Friday

mathgent 12:53 AM  

Absolutely excellent. Crunchy, sparkly, and I learned a thing or two. And only five Terrible Threes.

chefwen 2:06 AM  

If I can get through a Friday without cheating, which I did, I slide it into the easy medium range. Only unknown was 37D, thank you crosses.
Also ran into the sOdA vs. COLA trick, guessed incorrectly. ICED OUT, which was also a guess worked out and I was home free, Woo Hoo!

I am hopeful that Saturday will be as kind.

jae 3:35 AM  

Easy- medium except for the NE which was tough!

For me ELON was xwordese, triggered by 4 letter southern university.

ALAN MOORE OTOH was almost a WOE. I’ve seen the movie but the creators only registered subliminally.

I disagree with Rex on this one...OH LORDY, PORN STSR..were “ooh, good one(s)” enough for me, liked it.

kitshef 6:42 AM  

Five proper names that I had no idea on: Carol MANN, ELON, ALAN MOORE, MATT Smith and COLIN somebody. And four of them cross. Yish. On the other hand, some fantastic long downs and the central across make the puzzle as a whole a winner.

The SPANISH FLU has little to do with Spain. When the epidemic started, WWI was raging and the US papers were not permitted to print anything about it, because it would be bad for morale. Same in England and France. Spain, being neutral, had no such restrictions and so the early newspaper coverage was primarily in Spain or about Spain.

Lewis 6:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:57 AM  

@rex: "got(yed)" -- Hah!

Solving this was much like drinking a thick smoothie through a straw, as I drew deeply hidden memories out, chiseled away at misdirects, and toiled to get my mind quiet enough to allow the subconscious to do its work and bubble to the surface, with all this effort allowing me to sip at the sweet delicious fare. A solve to savor, for which I'm grateful.

And oh yes, through treats like this over time, I've certainly become an S.T. lauder.

Anonymoose 7:06 AM  

I'm just wondering what the pedants will get into today. My nit is that the BATESMOTEL was not cabins. "MOTEL" is right there. Should have been clued rooms or units.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

Nice one.

TJS 7:16 AM  

I wonder if Rex says "Uggghhh" for Medal of Honor, Silver Star or Purple Heart

Give Peace a Chance 7:28 AM  

Well, let's face it. Most military medals are awarded for killing, being killed, or getting shot.

TJS 7:28 AM  

As to the puzzle, got this one done in around 3 Rexs, which is pretty amazing for me on a Friday. Liked most of the fill except for having to use all crosses for most of the unknown names. Very disappointed in myself for not being aware of Alan Moore's vast and influential output. We are talking about comic books, right ?

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Speaking for all Doctor Who fans, there have not been a million Doctors...Matt Smith was the 11th. Of all the name clues in the puzzle, that was a slam dunk. (And he just played Prince Philip in The Crown.)

Suzie Q 7:37 AM  

If it hadn't been for the unknown names crossing each other I would have had a fun solve. I still somehow got it done but how I did is a mystery. Just experience I guess.
I was proud to get safes right away and liked that clue.
I had no idea about Alan Moore and wondered why Rex was excited to see him. Then I read that Rex finds his work "influential". Okaaay, if you say so.

Most fun of my morning was learning that @ Lewis is an S.T. lauder!!

GILL I. 7:49 AM  

An enjoyable romp. No CHEATS. I needed the LUMEN to go off while guessing some of the names I didn't really know: MATT and GOTYE. Good guesses.
Yeah, I wanted Stormy to be a stripper at first. I once (on a lark) tried to dance around a pole. Boy do you have to be agile to do that thing. I don't have the bazookas to pull it off. I just found out she got the F.A.M.E award for "Favorite Breast." Can you imagine?
This took me a while to get started. I was pretty sure cracker boxes was SAFES but I wanted to play it safe. I went looking for sure things. OLE to the rescue. Then, little by little, I became less afraid and I was off and running.
So DOPE means "Sweet?" When you see an adorable little toddler do you go up to Mom and say....Ooooh she looks so DOPE? Not sure what a DAD BOD looks like. Do they have drool hanging down their backs?
33D SAKS went in without so much as a blink. When I lived in NYC I was a very poor and hungry student taking classes at NYU. Thank goodness for Kelly Girl and my part-time jobs that at least paid the bills. SAKS was my favorite go to fantasy. Everyone would be ice skating at Rockefeller Center - I'd be staring at shoes.
I say OH LORDY all the time and I BLOW A KISS to my little Hadley Rose.
May I say ENCORE, Sam? Be my guest and play it again.

mmorgan 8:32 AM  

No gimmes here, except Stormy Daniels (hmmmm.....), and so many names and things I knew not at all, but somehow, from a letter here and a letter there, I was able to figure things out. That’s always a pleasant and satisfying solving experience for me. If the puzzle is filled with things I don’t know, I appreciate having fair clues. Thanks!

Carola 8:41 AM  

I join the "easy-medium" group - a fast start with SPANISH FLU and its grid sequelae on the left side, slowed down in the upper right.
Help from previous puzzles: DADBOD, ELON, SEGEL. Didn't know: ALAN MOORE, COLIN, MANN. Inferred MATT Smith from watching "The Crown."
"ADIOS, AMIGO" next to BATES MOTEL. Yikes.

Joe Welling 8:47 AM  

Anonymoose said:
"My nit is that the BATESMOTEL was not cabins. "MOTEL" is right there. Should have been clued rooms or units."

Except in the movie, Norman refers to them as twelve cabins, and this line was clearly what the clue references:

MARY (not really a question) You have a vacancy?

NORMAN (simply, almost cheerfully) We have twelve vacancies. Twelve cabins, twelve vacancies.

webwinger 8:53 AM  

Finished this in about 3.5 Rexes without help from my pal Barney (feel like I should be on a first name basis with Mr. Google by now)—except for checking a few of the proper names after getting them from crosses. Felt great when I saw OFL’s medium-challenging assessment, but after reading the first few comments, have to agree puzz was on the easy side for a Friday. If we don’t get a killer tomorrow or Sunday, I’ll complete my 1-year streak* next week…

*Fair consultations with B. G. (no visiting x-word sites) and revision at the end to get happy tune allowed.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

I’m surprised that “porn star” was deemed sufficiently family friendly to make the grid. What are the approximate rules on that? I’d think whatever standards make bodily functions inappropriate for the breakfast table would make the same judgement of pornography .

pabloinnh 9:01 AM  

@kitshef-Interesting info about the SPANISHFLU, which I put in zip zap. My mother's mother died of the Spanish flu when Mom was a year old. She had two older brothers and they all lived out of town in an area known, fittingly, as Hardscrabble. Hard for me to even imagine how difficult all that must have been.

Also, Roger and Mary Tyler and even Gary but ALANMOORE? Hand up for being unaware of this influential figure.

Waiting for JoeD to post "Ebony and Ivory".

Nice smooth solve. Thanks for the fun, ST.

Teedmn 9:05 AM  

"Ah, Sam Trabucco, of course" is what I said when I saw the constructor's name, post-solve. He is a reliable source of relatively tough themeless puzzles, and this one leaned that way today for me.

I was beginning to FRET when that was the only thing I could come up with to put in the grid, and while I wanted PDFS for 10A, I couldn't think of any four-letter words starting with D and meaning "sweet". I have neither used nor heard anyone use DOPE out loud unless it was in some rap song I was ignoring. I think I've just realized why I dislike rap - I'm a melody,harmony rhythm person - the lyrics are the least interesting part of a song to me, and that's about all rap has. Ergo, no rap for me.

Why I was so stuck on FROZEN daiquiries (except I was spelling it dacqui), I have no idea. I had RARE FORd in at 6D and couldn't excise it from my brain even though it was nonsense. Crosses finally got me out of that but it was a struggle.

The rest of this puzzle went pretty quickly but that NE portion took almost half of my total solve time. ALAN MOORE and MATT Smith were WOEs (I never saw Dr. Who after the 7th Doctor - PBS quit running it) and with the tricky clues for DAD BOD and RED CARPET, and the unhelpful clue for ENCORE, I just spun my wheels up there.

OH meRcY, the random British military honor, GOTYE (yes, I've seen it before but it's far from a gimme) and Jason SEGEL were the only hold-ups in the southern hemisphere.

Sam Trabucco, once again, a fun, tricky Friday, thanks.

Rube 9:05 AM  

My bafflement continues. Rex says he made so many errors yet he completes the puzzle in 624. He guesses at answers without linking them to other words yet he finishes in 624. Even if you had the answers listed instead of clues and just went back and forth copying in the answers that's at least 3 minutes with 0 thought. And yet rex finishes in 624. Gimmes like the overused ELON slow him down yet he still finishes in 624. Just does not compute.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Yikes. Alan Moore name crossing Matt crossing botnets - if you don't know any of those, you're sunk. I dislike puzzles that depend on luck.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

This puzzle was very, very white male.

Tim Aurthur 9:15 AM  

GOT YE could be something a pirate says while tying you to a mast.

jberg 9:16 AM  

Lots of names, no idea about MATT, but ALAN MOORE was a name I recognized vaguely. And they were opening cAnS in my bar, so the BATES MOTEL was slow to appear. (Lots of motels have cabins, btw.). But we had ELON last week, so that went right in. So a struggle, but kind of a grim one. I’m sort of with Rex, but in moderation.

Crimson Devil 9:21 AM  

Excellent cluing for SAFES and EAST.
Sweet and father figure, not so much.

Nancy 9:25 AM  

A DNF for me in the NE. "Goes down" was SiTS instead of SETS. Had no idea what the latest slang was for "Sweet!" When I had ALAN MO?Ri, I wrote in MOuRi, giving me DuPE, instead of DOPE for "Sweet!" Well, why not? DUPE and DOPE are equally nonsensical.

I also had BOTNikS before BOTNETS, but did change it.

Thought for the day: It's hard to be on the court with just one SNEAKER. It'll ruin your tennis. Your basketball, too.

Despite the DNF, not to mention the unknown [to me] ALAN MOORE and GOTYE, I quite enjoyed this puzzle.

SouthsideJohnny 9:30 AM  

@kitshef is right - the five proper names are pretty much a joke. Carol MANN is definitely a Dark Matter entry (we know it is there, but no one can determine it without the crosses).

Love the fact that they included “Stormy Daniels” and “goes down” in the same corner - great inside joke there.

Is it just me, or is IAMS is getting a lot of airplay lately ?

Jason 9:33 AM  

Had "HUGE LIAR" for 10D (Stormy Daniels, e.g.)......
because calling her a "Star" is a bit of a stretch.

Christopher Jones 9:36 AM  

Just finished the “Watchmen” graphic novel for the third time in many years so it was nice to see Alan Moore referenced 👍

Mike Rees 9:43 AM  

I missed my best Friday time by nearly two minutes, but finished only 40 seconds slower than Rex which for me is a HUGE win. It's super rare that I'm in the same time neighbourhood as OFL. This one landed squarely in my wheelhouse and answers just dropped in. Also mixed up SODA with COLA, but only for a brief second as I already had ICBM in place and BD... didn't work for anything I could ever think of. For some reason I thought GOTYE had a J instead of a Y, that one sat in place for a while.

Fun puzzle. It always feels good to me to stick the landing on a Friday.

Nancy 9:46 AM  

For @Joe Dipinto

Which bloody answer is it?
I have to wait and see:
EVADE/ELUDE for you, Joe,
And ERIN/EIRE for me.

QuasiMojo 9:59 AM  

I put in Eydie GORME for the singer. A little late in her career to be sure. Never heard of Gotye altho I think it's been in the puzzle a while back.

Tough puzzle for me since I have a bad headache. And maybe a head cold. I am going to sit by and watch all of you today. @Nancy, AWAKE/ AWARE for ALERT too. And of course OLAF/OLAV.

CDilly52 10:00 AM  

@TJS: you gave me a great chuckle. Thought I was the only person who gauges her solve time in “Rexes.” I was right at 3 Rexes today as well which almost beat my Friday best!!!

Started with nothing, nada, nil, zip, zero in the NW and all across the top! Thought this was going to be the day that breaks my streak. Then a miracle occurred: I hit the strip down the E side starting with TABS and couldn’t enter characters fast enough with my thumbs (while fighting auto-correct). TABS, SADAT, O’ER, SST, TEEN MOM, and all the way down to TROLL. That gave me enough to toss in FROZEN MARGARITA which mercifully opened up the wild, wild, W.

My biggest mistake was thinking door “keys” so I put in “brass” for 4D. And left it there. That plus the fact that I simply didn’t connect with the NW clues - sheesh! Somehow, though as I climbed the hill from the bottom to the top on the W side, I connected with our constructor. Delightful solving experience. Fair crosses for the proper names and lovely, crunchy entries that require the brain to have some extra caffeine. Fun Friday!

Hungry Mother 10:05 AM  

Fast slog here in Sin City. It felt slow while I was doing it, but ended up with a quick time.

Nancy 10:07 AM  

@kitshef (6:42)-- I nominate your explanation of SPANISH FLU as perhaps the most colorful, interesting, and previously unknown thing I've ever learned from reading this blog.

@TJS (7:28) -- Good one!!

@Teedmn (9:05): "The lyrics are the least interesting part of a song to me." Oh, Teedmn, that hurts. I thought we were pals.

Z 10:09 AM  

Medium here. Found the NE easy, although with MOORE in place Clement was running interference for awhile. Seasonal Crossword Disorder, I guess. Dr. Who is not my cuppa, but science fiction is so MATT Smith poses no problem. PDFS was my first entry, so PORNSTAR was a gimme. Elsewhere, Aimee or Horace would be MOORE in my wheelhouse, but I presume the notion of MANN winning the US Women’s Open tickled somebody’s Dad Joke funny bone. Only writeovers were at 2D, where i plopped down saUr where the M&A preferred URUS belonged, and DSa before DSO. As for ELON, they have a decent D III Ultimate team, so that wasn’t too hard to come up with here.

Anyone else feel like Rex wrote the exact same observation about GOTYE the last time they appeared?

@Lewis - That is terrible. Loved it.

@TJS7:16 - Rex’s plaint was about the ese, not the awards per se.

@Gill I - Will the quartet attempt to perform while dancing around a pole? As for DAD BOD, didn’t we have an extensive disquisition about the term a while back?

Maus, Persepolis, Palestine, Sabrina, From Hell*. If you’re not reading great graphic novels you have a fairly large cultural literacy hole. And, yes, ALAN MOORE has an outsized influence on all sorts of art of the 2010’s. Be forewarned though, some of these are not comfortable reads. We’re not talking all super heroes and super villains, but all too often beings much worse.

Gerry Kelly 10:10 AM  

never heard of Alan Moore but did know Carol Mann ( 38 wins on LPGA TOUR). Showing my age!!

Birchbark 10:13 AM  

"An obligation to be somewhat better than fine."

I had a friend in college who would pull you aside at a party and say things like "Meckie's in RARE FORM this evening." 'Mid the ambient ebb and flow of voices and music, he was trying for his idea of something better than the Midwest. I'd smile half-sadly, tongue-in-quarter-cheek, "Aren't we all," and amble with due subtlety toward the DADBOD keg.

Teedmn 10:18 AM  

@Nancy, your songs tell a story - you have to listen to them to get the story, so of course I pay attention to them. I guess I was referring to the average song on the radio. If the music doesn't catch my attention, I never get around to the lyrics.

Ironically, I work pretty hard on honing the lyrics to my own songs so is that hypocrisy?

Ethan Taliesin 10:24 AM  

It was all very consistent hardness-wise throughout. Enjoyable, with a sundry assortment of topics clued.

That TEEN MOM thing was more than a little disturbing. It's not like I want it out of the grid, but it just makes me sad and embarrassed for the country. Teen moms and unplanned pregnancies happen, fine.. but the fact that there are TV shows about it with an audience who will sit through commercials to see what will happen next is total cringe.

Incidentally... "Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 13-1644147. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable under the law."

Whatsername 10:26 AM  

@kitshef: thanks for the history lesson; I had no idea.

Like Rex, I expect my NYTXW to be better than fine, or at least better than average. I expect a lot from my Crossword experience but I don’t and never have expected it to have a voice. I guess I get what he’s saying, but the concept just seems a little extreme. Clever clue for EAST. Haven’t seen ANITA Hill in a while. Back in the day she created a huge scandal but who knew it was going to get so much stormier. Quite a dichotomy there.

Finally I loved the “icy and salty“ center of this one, very apropos to kick off the holiday weekend. I thought this was snappy and totally DOPE. Thank you Sam.

xyz 10:26 AM  

I don't time, but probably my fastest Friday ever. It was very easy and with very little misdirection or too-cuteness. Not too old or too young. Goldilocks Friday.

Ethan Taliesin 10:37 AM  

One more thing.

The OH LORDY thing conjures James Comey who, after being "threatened" by Trump on the prospect of tapes their exchange exisiting, replied, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes!"

puzzlehoarder 10:39 AM  

Wednesday time. No late week resistance anywhere.

@Nancy, I liked your BOTNik idea. I picture them going on the internet while playing bongos and smoking banana peel.

xyz 10:46 AM  

Observations from comments

CAROL MANN was a big figure in her time in women's golf (She was also almost as tall as I am 6'2" v 6'5"), I remember her very well. At least on par with LORENA OCHOA (and double 'gimme' NANCY LOPEZ) which I've seen a lot in puzzles.

One need not be a 'star to be a PORNSTAR - a fully formed expression. You be in porn, you be star. So that's two against any-none-mouse's VERYVERYWHITEMALE - one sees what one wants when woke, OKBOOMER BOOM

12 cabins for BATES MOTEL is 100%.

Finally: Timing in REX Units? That's a great reason why I don't ever want to time; how fast one can fill rote or figure out an alternative to the typical usual knee-jerk drivel and crossing useless 'popular' culture names?

Once I progressed my skill to solving Fridays and Saturdays, the pointlessness of speed passed any best-by date for me.

If you're that blasé about getting a clean puzzle fill, go play golf and go shoot a 54. OH LORDY.

Mme Laffargue 10:48 AM  

Easy for me. Stormy goes down in the same quarter. Nice. Tired of the Spanish lingo all the time. Can we agree on English only. Merci beaucoup.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

@Southside - I noticed that NE combination as well, and have to say it was quite unexpected from the Grey Lady.

T in GOTYE (WOE) was my very last letter, and only because nothing else fit the cross, which as clued was another WOE. Was picturing some ALPS variant stretched to 6 letters, but after triple-checking every cross, it had to be. Googled mountebank post-solve just to get the explanation - was not in my Merriam-Webster.

Certainly a challenge, but an enjoyable one.


Birchbark 10:51 AM  

"An obligation to be somewhat better than fine."

My friend in college would pull you aside at a party and say things like "Meckie's in RARE FORM this evening." In the ambient ebb and flow of voices and music, I think it was his idea of something better than the Midwest. So I'd smile half-sadly, tongue-in-quarter-cheek, "Aren't we all." Then amble with all due subtlety toward the DADBOD keg. I FELT AT HOME.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

M-W did have it after all - left out the 'U'.


Joe Dipinto 11:13 AM  

An alumnus of my high school is in the puzzle. (Not Stormy Daniels.) That's about all I can say for it. I feel like the puzzle is screaming "Aren't you impressed that I read comic books and watch 'Teen Mom' while drinking frozen margaritas?!" And I'm not.

kitshef 11:19 AM  

@Nancy - allow me to recommend "The Great Influenza" by John Barry. The story of the spread of and investigation into the flu is fascinating, as is the stunning suppression of free speech, supported by most newspapers and the Supreme Court. People were jailed for saying they did not think the US should be in the war.

Also, you previously watched the video for 'Somebody that I Used to Know' by GOTYE and described it as "a mostly naked man who looked severely depressed and depressive (to the point of requiring psychiatric intervention), singing in an extremely pinched and constrained monotone a song that I can only describe as underwhelming and forgettable". [you were right, you did forget!]

Newboy 11:27 AM  

Good one Sam! As OFL said “no flow” in this solve. Names unknown but cross worthy & devious clues (even with ?) made this a challenge. I was resorting to puzzling out individual letter combos that made sense before mr Happy chimed. Crafty use of black square placement seemed to really bother. Altogether a Friday worthy effort.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

So much that didn't click, worst: FROZEN__GRANITA.

bagelboy 11:43 AM  

Similar to Nancy above. Mostly flew through it, but witout knowing ALANMOORE, I had two crosses ALAN?OOR? that were uninferable. Could be SITS or SETS and then you have two uncommon proper names crossing with MOORE and MATT.

jb129 11:46 AM  

I remembered the song but who is GOTYE ????? Singer? Who? What?

Loved Dad Bod once I got it.

Very enjoyable puzzle Same - thank you!

RooMonster 11:55 AM  

Hey All !
Well, this one was a toughie for me. I was held up with unknowns in every section. Luckily, I was able to take breaks whilst solving, as I'm working today,so had rides twixt bouts of solving.

Unknowns filled by shear guessing, as in Rex's ELON/MANN cross, but that N seemed the most likely. Having shutOUT for ICEDOUT definitely not helping.

But I ended up with the puz 100% correct! That was shocking. Looking over the puz now, only had one other writeover beside the already mentioned one, had _____saUr in for ALLOSAURUS, the ole brain apparently forgetting the US part.

What was cool for me is that in the NE and NW I got out of my nothingness by the three F's! Once SAFES popped into view, I was able to wrangle the NW. Same with PDFS in NE. Good stuff.

So an overall decent FriPuz. Made me work and scratch, I SAY.

PORN STAR a bit risqué for the NYT, eh?


John Hoffman 12:03 PM  

Great puzzle. The ELON/MANN cross was not possible for me. Plus: Tons of us have never heard of ALAN MOORE.

Malsdemare 12:07 PM  

Thanks, Sam, this was fun. 'Course, I had errors: ROdeTEST, some sort of —-bot before BOTNETS, and Plaintif off the P before PORNSTAR. And others I've already forgotten. I doubt I'll ever retain the names of characters or actors in stuff I've never seen but, that's why we have Mr. G.

Grandkids here so I finally saw Frozen last night. Super duper fun and I now know who Sven and Olaf (not Olav!) are. Best part? It’s about strong, loving sisters!! The guys are window dressing (or schmucks). You can't get better than that.

Off topic PSA: if you have to deal with a gluten allergy, I highly recommend America's Test Kitchen "How can this be gluten-free" cookbook. The results are as good as any wheat-based recipe I've tried. Honest! Kids made pumpkin bread last night and I'm headed to the kitchen for another slice.

Thanks, Sam. Along with @Lewis, I'm an S T lauder.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

10 across is bad clue. PDFs are shareable files, period. Not just for PCs. Late-week puzzles are hard enough (this one was on the easy side, fwiw). We shouldn’t have to also fact check the clues.

Masked and Anonymous 12:18 PM  

@RP: Kindasorta see what U mean, about them puzclues. Started out great, with: {Cracker boxes?} = SAFES, then it sorta tapered off. And it had such a great arsenal of fillins to clue up from. Shoot, that {Like Goldilocks} = BLONDE was almost a moo-cow MonPuz clue. REDCARPET clue was at least weirdly playful, I'd grant.

staff weeject pick: HUH. Of only a halfdozen choices. Primo palindromic meat, with a tasty, chewy center. Honrable mention to DSO. Better clue: {DeSoto parts??}.

Scenic puzgrid moments: Pretty much all the longball stack fillins, except maybe for ALANMOORE, and he's sorta schlock-related, sooo … ok.

Better than fine blog write-up, @RP.
And thanx for the themeless diversion, Mr. T.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


mathgent 12:21 PM  

Rex reported a week or so ago that Eric Agard had become the editor of the USA TODAY crosswords. He implied that they would be of good quality. I’ve done the last six including today’s. No.

All six are themed with a title. Agard constructed two of them. They were all Monday or Tuesday difficulty.

USA TODAY doesn’t publish on the weekend so today’s puzzle should be the best of the week. Its title is “Hush-Hush Document” and the clue for 55D is “Confidentiality contract initials found in this puzzle’s four longest answers.” Those three letters appear in a string in the ten- and eleven-letter entries. It was constructed by Gail Grabowski.

Over the six, I didn’t find one clever clue.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

People were jailed for saying they did not think the US should be in the war.

Let us not forget that many, if not most, USofA industrialists made major money selling to, and supporting, the Nazi's up to 7 Dec. 1941. Ford was very open to not siding with the Allies. By contrast, it was USofA expansionism in the Pacific that led to Japan's assault on Pearl Harbor. "I'll have Ethno Centrism for $2,000, Alex".


And, the Mother of All Things Nazi:

If that latter article reminds you of someone, it should.

Richardf8 12:51 PM  

Thank you Sam. Thaks to you I now know that that sick twisted song is by Gotye and not Gauthier.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

10 across is bad clue. PDFs are shareable files, period. Not just for PCs.

well... I don't recall that PDF software exists for mainframes or non-X86 minis. there are z JCL to convert native z text documents outbound to PDF, but that's a different matter. the iSeries mini works the same sort of way.

so, yes, PDF natively, is a PC artefact. such files can be created in nearly (all?) OS that run on X86. if one takes 'PC' to mean just 'Windows', "Not just for PCs." might be true.

Nancy 1:05 PM  

@kitshef (11:19)-- Amazingly enough, I don't remember the video nor writing the comment, though I must say it sounds just like me. But here's what I do know about having forgotten GOTYE: When I bet the bank that I'm going to forget something -- no matter what it is that I'm going to forget-- I have a 99.9% chance of being right.

Richardf8 1:43 PM  

Honestly, z-series and i-series systems are not really intended as presentation platforms, any more than a Caterpillar dozer is intended to give you a delightful cruise on a country road. I think there are tools that will let you render the text in a pdf to your terminal (emulator). If there is an x-server/client available for these, I would expect tat it would render them just fine.

Tom R 2:07 PM  

This does not relate to this specific puzzle. Its nearly the end of the year and I just wanted to say that the reason I subscribe to the Times puzzle is Rex Parker. I mean, they are not that special, but having a cogent analysis to compare with my experience is what makes them worth it. Thank you, Rex.

What? 2:26 PM  

Four unknown names, as well as two that cross, ruined it for me.

Nancy from Chicago 2:56 PM  

This seemed easy for a Friday, except for the MANN/ELON crossing (at least the "N" was inferable).

Also I agree with Tom R - I would subscribe nonetheless but having Rex's blog to come to after solving makes the puzzles that much more enjoyable. Thanks Rex and commenters!

rextorturer 3:45 PM  

"Oh lordy" is again an anti secularist clue injected into this seemingly laical publication. I suspect Will Shortz and his cabal are behind this "movement" to upend the secularist tradition of the NYTimes and it's crossword. Glad he can't do much to Ken ken puzzles.

JayPeeEss 4:17 PM  

I’ve been struggling on Fridays of late. A few DNFs mixed in. This came in at a record time. Half my average Friday time. I’m okay with the MANN clue/answer for the pun of MANN winning the Women’s Open. I took a guess on that one.

Z 5:00 PM  

@anon12:08 and @anon12:58 - Let me suggest, as a generalizable technique, that you reconsider the clue “Shareable PC files.” PC is typically used in reference to a box running some iteration of MS-DOS or Windows, but Apple makes Personal Computers, the old TRS-80 was a Personal Computer, any tablet is a Personal Computer. This is not the most severe twisting of typical usage, but late week clues especially will use words and terms in unexpected ways. e.g. “Cracker” in 1A.

Lots of plaints about all the names, so I toted up the PPP. Highish but not across the 33% line where I call it excessive. 21 of 68. If I stretch to include BLONDE since it was clued by Goldilocks and COLOR CODE clued by the NWS we would be over the 33% line. Given that so many comments reflect the Wheelhouse/Outhouse it does seem to have played like a puzzle with excessive PPP (Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. More than 33% means some subset of solvers will struggle)

The List

Carol MANN

MATT Smith

Travis 5:16 PM  

Only my 2nd Friday ever and probably one of the more enjoyable for me. No cheats! DADBOD and FROZENMARGARITA were highlights and helped me thru all of the proper names. The only ALANMOORE I know is my Optomitrist.

JC66 5:37 PM  


Were you making a joke by changing the e to an "eye" in optometrist?

Travis 5:38 PM  

Hahah. No I just can’t spell well, which is a problem for this hobby :-D

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

Just to pile on a bit more about MANN/ELON.

Yes, the N is guessable, but it's far from certain. it could just as well have been MAiN/ELOi if one didn't know either of the names. Even MArN/ELOr isn't out of the question in terms of plausibility.

BobL 7:48 PM  

Next year I would love to see the elimination of natick, green paint, ppp, rex-times.and streak. Thank you for letting me rant

Anonymous 10:06 PM  

a box running some iteration of MS-DOS or Windows

well... not to beat a dead equine, but, strictly speaking, the IBM/PC (at the beginning and for some years) was offered with any one of three operating systems: PC/DOS (which IBM, perhaps through stupidity, allowed MicroSoft to vend as MS/DOS), CP/M-86, or UCSD p-System. thanks to Lotus, which wrote 1-2-3 solely for PC/DOS Assembler, and the demand for 1-2-3 in business circles made PC/DOS (and thus, MS/DOS on clones) the runaway winner. what IBM intended to be a *personal computer* (ya know, the person would write technical programs in assembler or BASIC or other language) turned out to be a desktop toaster for MBAs. who 'learned' 1-2-3 macros and then sold themselves as 'programmers'. yes, a tad bitter about that.

hear endeth CS 101 first lecture.

rextorturer 10:08 PM  

Hopefully Rex will learn that hating and insulting white men is the opposite of being liberal and progressive. This cat has been slumming and thinks garbage smells like roses

Homer Simpson 10:18 PM  

Disingenuous mountebanks and their subliminal chicanery ... a pox on them!

Charles Emerson Winchester III 9:38 AM  

Anyway, an OBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) is categorically NOT a military honor. It is a minor award given for do-gooding, like “services to popular music” or “services to the knitting industry” or what have you. Rex really ought to know this given his weird fixation with utterly trivial and unimportant pop cultural figures who, along with firefighters and local policemen are the most likely recipients of an OBE.

Ken Freeland 10:14 AM  

had exactly the same PPP issue in the same place, so had to cheat in that corner... there ought to be a law against this kind of PPP concentration, or indeed, even allowing them to cross paths with each other!

Ken Freeland 10:29 AM  

Thanks for laying that out, Z. Wouldn't it be great if puzzles came with an advance PPP rating? Anything over 25 would not merit my interest...

Fred Wollam 6:04 PM  

S. T. Lau... I'll forgive you for that. Millions wouldn't.

Fred Wollam 6:52 PM  

I'm anything but a "time-solver." I do them in (old-fashioned, oily) ball-point ink, lightly "ghosting in" guesses until I'm certain, then darkening. If I'm Brian Eno certain, I don't ghost. My pleasure comes in wracking my brain (Weds-Sat,esp.), while coming up with (what seems to be) a flawless solve... no pissed-off overscribbles visible. Get it right the first time... sorta...

I came oh-so close on this one... I was sooo sure of ISee at 27A that I did not bother to ghost it (I eventually got 4D from the crosses, but *still* don't grok it). Also, the 15A/16D cross was a WGAroyalF Nat/Natick I refuse to investigate further... but this one ends up as an all-time fave.

Burma Shave 11:27 AM  


But I FRET it’s a RAREFORM of hope –
She’d BEEN DOWN on him – INNER memoir –
ALLOT to BLOW that orange DADBOD DOPE.


rondo 12:01 PM  

Before EBONY I had ivOrY, so both Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder were covered. On the subject of singers, how about yeah baby Aimee MANN as a more plausible clue than a golfer from 55 years ago? GOTYE was a gimme for me, but Kimbra was the real STAR, especially in the video; and her voice is just crystal clear, with emotion.
Looks as though that TROLLLotsa nice long answers today. ADIOS. @JimmyBgood was proven wrong yesterday.

OLE’s been around lately, no Sven nor Lena.

Lotsa nice long answers today. ADIOS.

spacecraft 12:22 PM  

Had to make guesses here and there, but they were all right (GOTYE, really??). OHLORDY indeed! It was like tiptoeing through a minefield, OFSORTS.

I said OLE! for the ginormous gimme of BATESMOTEL (did you know there was a racehorse named for that?) and was hoping for ENCORE. Fleshed out the SE from there and got enough letters to finish MARGARITA; then FROZEN followed (OK, preceded). Mixer option gave me pause. I was thinking of the kitchen appliance. Then the social event. No, silly, it's a DRINK mixer. I'm not into alcohol, so that interpretation came last. OK COLA, fine. Wanted malware, but who would use "mal-" in the clue if it was MALWARE? Never heard of BOTNETS. Of course, I'm about as far into tech as I am into alcohol.

The obvious DOD would be PORNSTAR Stormy--a tad TOO obvious. Let's rather award it to Carol MANN. My height, and with my mother's maiden name! I admired her back in the day. Other than a couple of names I had to guess at, I more or less FELTATHOME with this one. Suitably Friday-tough, and with no real groaners. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 12:58 PM  

I also had ivory before EBONY.

And frosty before FROZEN!!

But the comic book creator and the Dr. player created my very own Natick. Tho I "guessed" after seeing someone else mention BOTNETS.

It's the PPP, always the PPP.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the Periodic Table and PPP
and lox

rondo 4:43 PM  

GOTYE "Somebody That I Used to Know":

leftcoaster 7:11 PM  

Not clever, not interesting, not fun, and relies too much on proper noun crutches. Just sort of a dud.

J Howard 5:03 PM  

If you only know Watchmen from the film, you wouldn't know Moore's name anyway. He doesn't allow his name to be attached to adaptations of his work that he wasn't involved in.

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