Old TV actress Swenson / FRI 12-13-19 / Fifth-century military leader / Skintight swimwear for surfer / National park west of Calgary / Wally's sitcom brother / Fifth-century military leader / Beverage marketed as blend of 23 different flavors

Friday, December 13, 2019

Constructor: Leslie Rogers

Relative difficulty: Easy (untimed)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: RASH GUARD (1A: Skintight swimwear for a surfer) —
rash guard, also known as rash vest or rashie, is an athletic shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester. The name rash guard reflects the fact that the shirt protects the wearer against rashescaused by abrasion, or by sunburn from extended exposure to the sun. These shirts can be worn by themselves, or under a wetsuit. A rash guard by itself is used for light coverage in warm to extreme summer temperatures for several watersports including surfingcanoe polo, water survival training, scuba divingsnorkelingfreedivingwakeboardingbodysurfingbodyboardingwindsurfingkitesurfingkayakingstand up paddle surfing, or swimming. There are also lower body rash guards, which are similar to compression shorts to be worn under the surfers' boardshorts, but more specialized for surfers. (wikipedia)
• • •

Dutchess, 2002-2019
HELLO, READERS AND SOLVERS IN SYNDICATION (if it's the week of Jan. 12-19, 2020, that's you!). It's January and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. It's kind of a melancholy January this year, what with the world in, let's say, turmoil. Also, on a personal note, 2019 was the year I lost Dutchess, who was officially The Best Dog, and who was with me well before I was "Rex Parker." Somehow the turning of the calendar to 2020 felt like ... I was leaving her behind. It's not a rational sentiment, but love's not rational, especially pet love. Speaking of love—I try hard to bring a passion and enthusiasm to our shared pastime every time I sit down to this here keyboard. I love what I do here, but it is a lot of work, put in at terrible hours—I'm either writing late at night, or very early in the morning, so that I can have the blog up and ready to go by the time your day starts (9am at the very latest, usually much earlier). I have no major expenses, just my time. Well, I do pay Annabel and Claire, respectively, to write for me once a month, but beyond that, it's just my time. This blog is a source of joy and genuine community to me (and I hope to you) but it is also work, and this is the time of year when I acknowledge that! All I want to do is write and make that writing available to everyone, for free, no restrictions. I have heard any number of suggestions over the years about how I might "monetize" (oof, that word) the blog, but honestly, the only one I want anything to do with is the one I already use—once a year, for one week, I just ask readers to contribute directly. And then I let 51 weeks go by before I bring up the subject again. No ads, no gimmicks. It's just me creating this thing and then people who enjoy the thing supporting the work that goes into creating the thing. It's simple. I like simple. Your support means a lot to me. Knowing that I have a loyal readership really is the gas in the tank, the thing that keeps me solving and writing and never missing a day for 13+ years. I will continue to post the solved grid every day, tell you my feelings about the puzzle every day, make you laugh or wince or furrow your brow or shout at your screen every day, bring you news from the Wider World of Crosswords (beyond the NYT) every day. The Word of the Day is: Quotidian. Occurring every day. Daily. Whether you choose to contribute or not, I'm all yours. Daily.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. This year's cards are illustrations from the covers of classic Puffin Books—Penguin's children's book imprint.  Watership Down, Charlotte's Web, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time, How to Play Cricket ... you know, the classics. There are a hundred different covers and they are truly gorgeous. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

Despite containing things I find moderately to very repulsive (billionaires, VEAL), and despite starting off kind of weakly in that NW corner, I ended up coming around on this one and liking it just fine. It's not that the NW is soooo bad. There were just two things that made it less than pleasurable for me, one of them my problem and the other one very much the puzzle's problem. *My* problem was not knowing RASH GUARD at all. In retrospect, I'm quite sure I've heard the term, and since I've worn skintight protective swimwear at the beach before, it's possible I've even had the term on my body before. But the term itself somehow sank in, and so getting that answer was, let's say, an adventure. Here's where the puzzle's problem kicks in—the fill up there is less than great. If I emerge from a NW corner and I've already had to deal with ANIMA and UNSNAG and REECE and ATTILA and ALEPH and INGA, let's just say I don't have super high hopes for how the rest of the grid is going to go. So heading out of the NW I was leery, but then POLAR BEAR PLUNGE was great (best thing in the grid, no question) and the rest of the puzzle ended up being perfectly solid and mostly clean. Infinitely more enjoyable than yesterday's puzzle (which I had the great pleasure of not-blogging—thank you, Rachel)

There weren't many times when I needed to UNSNAG myself—the puzzle was definitely on the easy side, with gimmes aplenty. At 7D: Fifth-century military leader (ATTILA) I had the two Ts and started writing in OTTO something something (this was truly the low point of the solve). I was super-suspicious of BOCA because I didn't think snowbirding in Mexico was *that* common ... turns out I got my BOCAs and my CABOs confused (BOCA Raton is of course in Florida) (53A: Where many snowbirds winter, for short). I knew a SCRIM was an *object* in the theater but I did not know it was the name of the fabric (3D: Fabric in theater curtains). I struggled a bit to figure out the ambiguous 26D: Pages, e.g. (AIDES). I tried to read the Game of Thrones novels and gave up and tried to watch the show and gave up so GOT clues will forever remain a mystery to me. There's got to be better ways to clue ALLEN, but no matter, I figure it out quickly from crosses. I just learned that Alfie ALLEN is the younger brother of singer Lily ALLEN, who wrote a song about him. A song called "Alfie." It is ... well, here, see for yourself:

I knew very well what "eschatology" meant but still, cluing END as an "event" feels very very much like a stretch (40A: Event studied in eschatology, with "the"). "End times," "End of the world," "End days," etc. those are all correct. When you call The END an "event" ... that's just unhelpful. It's a term from theology, and ought to have been more clearly clued as such. But, again, good work overall, I think. Solid, easy, relatively breezy Friday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Greg 2:38 AM  

Dewar's is scotch, first and foremost, but if it's not scotch, it's WHISKY, with no 'e'. Scotch whisky is always spelled this way. The Irish and the Americans spell it whiskey. Absolute editing fail.

jae 2:52 AM  

This was mostly easy except for the NW. ALOT before HOST didn’t help and REECE and ATTILA took a while to emerge, plus what Rex said.

Smooth and interesting, liked it a bunch and Jeff deservedly gave it POW.

We started our Rocky Mountaineer train trip after spending a few days in BANFF. Good place to begin a vacation.

Congratulations Leslie on an excellent second puzzle!

chefwen 3:04 AM  

My friends 12 year old son who spends half of his days either on his skateboard or at the beach gave me 1A right away.

POLAR BEAR PLUNGE was a gimme. Every News Years Day in Milwaukee they do that crazy thing in Lake Michigan. Brrr, not for me, those guys are nuts.

Pretty easy and enjoyable Friday.

Ellen S 3:40 AM  

I so loved the clue “mental notes” for EARWORM that the whole rest of the puzzle could have been dreck and I still would have given it five stars. Go, Leslie! I also liked calling out companies on their clichéd (mis)representation, WE CARE. No they don’t.

Abigail 5:11 AM  

Lots of good clues, I thought! EARWORM and POLAR BEAR PLUNGE were great. Also had lots of trouble in the NW corner, and also knew scrim an as object. It's always been, "Okay, lower the scrim." Always with 'the.' I guess it's technically a curtain (but like, is it? Or is it a set piece?), but when I think of curtains, I think of those plush velvet ones.

Anonymoose 6:24 AM  

DNF on MONEYBELT. Despite the spelling of "waist" and the "?" I just couldn't get it. Maybe if "Say" or "Perhaps" had been added I could have figured it out.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

Speaking of OLD GROWTH, the other day I found a hair, fully a third of an inch, growing out of the middle of my forehead! What's up with that?

This puzzle was a much better discovery, with lovely longs all the way around, deliciously ambiguous cluing with some sparkling clever clues as well. The grid popped with energy, yet wasn't manic; it was grounded by that undefinable feel of quality the best puzzles have. And for this combination of resistance and beauty that made for a frabjous and delectable solve, I'm grateful, Leslie!

amyyanni 6:54 AM  

We have Polar Plunges here in SW FL. (Probably created by people who love puns.) Same experience:smooth puzzle but for the NW. Never heard of RASHGUARD. Runners have BODYGLIDE. Ok if I used that in a puzzle? Asking for a friend. 8>).
Have good weekends! One more full week of work.

Suzie Q 7:06 AM  

I found some nice fun moments and learned a new word. That's as much as I can ask. We did return to the usual pop culture fill. Oh well.

Rex is holding true to the script by railing against billionaires and veal. I guess it doesn't matter that the billionaire is not only self-made but also female. Keep drinking that Kool-Aid.

jsloate 7:11 AM  

Hi Rex, We are your Boca snowbirds who look forward to your thank you postcard every year!
Have a good day☮🙂

Hungry Mother 7:22 AM  

Freaky fast Friday. The SE fell last, even though I had a nice family banquet in Belle’s Castle at Disney World. Wanted VWvan and when I let it go, I was quickly done.

GILL I. 7:51 AM  

When did DEWAR drop his S? Would you say Jack Daniel or Ballantine? Don't go messing with my whisk(e)y.
My romp with this one was a bit like OFL. For 1D I toyed with FRANK POINT ORDER but nothing jumped out. I left that area to go visit the East. BANFF...bam - then nothing held me back.
I make PAD THAI a HOST of times but I leave out bean sprouts. I remember when those tasteless sprouts had to be put on everything. Here you have a lovely tuna sandwich on a French baguette and you ruins it with those green things.
Loved the cluing today - especially the mud and stones found in a SPA. I don't like the thought of a bunch of mud on my face or body. Seems a bit too dirty. Never understood why DYLAN was given the Nobel Prize. Next one up will be the ubiquitous Greta Thunberg who will save out planet.
Fun, a bit too easy Friday, Leslie.
SKI SEASON has begun. I wonder if my knees will hold out one more time. The OLD GROWTH gets to me.

Amie Devero 8:05 AM  

Have a rash guard so knew that and have done many a polar bear plunge. But I still don't understand 31D. How is SPELL giving a breather?

mmorgan 8:08 AM  

I had a preternaturally similar solve to Rex. Maybe I’ve been reading this blog for too long.

QuasiMojo 8:24 AM  

Solid, fun, slightly easy but junk free and stylish Friday. Not unlucky today!

Eating MUESLI will make you MUSCLY.

I first put in VW VAN (still a lot of them here in snowbird territory) then VW BUG before BUS.

When I lived in NY city I always wanted to try the Polar Bear Plunge but could never remember where or when it was. I would have felt out of place anyway as I was quite slim back then. A rash guard would have helped a lot when I went snorkeling (goggling) in St John. My traveling companion sat on some fire coral and I got bit by some invisible jellyfish. Worth it though.

[@Gill, just in case you missed it, I popped in late yesterday and made a comment to you about Buenos Aires.]

Todd 8:26 AM  

Sara Blakley became billionaire inventing underwear than millions of women love. Started with nothing, didn't inherit it, didn't make it busting up companies for their parts. Her kind of success should be inspiring to all. Not moderately to very repulsive. Honestly, what is wrong with you?

Hartley70 8:35 AM  

I never thought that old blue RASHGUARD shoved in the back of a dresser in what used to be my son’s room would be useful again. Woohoo! It slid right into 1a and the rest of the puzzle followed just as easily. I only had to rely on crosses twice, ALEPH because set theory is worse than atomic numbers for me, and ALLEN. Alfie was a big “huh?” although I was a GOT addict and will be again if George would only sit at his desk and get to work. I honestly can’t remember a faster Friday.

Hartley70 8:37 AM  

@AmieDevero, sit down on a bench and rest a spell and it will come to you.

pabloinnh 8:38 AM  

RASHGUARD my last word in. It's the kind of word you look at and say, that has to be right, but what the hell is it? Obviously news to me, and that's OK. It's a poor day when you can't learn something.

POLARBEARPLUNGE made me think of the late Pete Frates and the Ice Bucket Challenge. He was a brave young man who did a lot of good--we never have enough of those. RIP, Mr. Frates, and well done you.

Great Friday, my only quibble was RAM home. Again, had to be right, but, really?

Thanks for a fun solve, LR. You can be on my constructor team any time.

Joaquin 8:40 AM  

Just a nit: The POLAR BEAR PLUNGE actually starts on the beach and ends on the beach. While the plunge itself is in the water, cluing the event as “near a beach” is incorrect. The *event* takes place at the beach and in the water.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

C’mon Todd @8:26am, don’t you know? If you don’t hate billionaires you aren’t woke. It doesn’t matter if they are self-made and started with nothing. Rich = evil and there is no debate. Go Bloomberg!

Kelly 9:03 AM  

@Hartley70 I see how "give a breather" might clue "rest a spell" but how does it logically clue "spell" alone?

Z 9:11 AM  

Have we stopped naming anyone ETHEL? Between her, INGA Swenson, and that other 1950’s TV stalwart the BEAV I formed an image of Rogers sitting in their rocker reading AARP magazine while MeTV played on the television. But we also get SARA Blakely instead of SARA Lee and Alfie ALLEN and Gabrielle REECE, so I really can’t complain too much about the Pop Culture skewing old (although I always prefer less Pop Culture).

HeHe - The clue is about the man not the whisky. It’s the kind of clue where I always imagine Shortz chortling about as he plays table tennis, knowing some pendant will be wrongly irked.

A pretty fun Friday for me. Finished in the NW. RASH GUARD is a new term for me.

@Suzie Q - If you aren’t railing against billionaires it is you who drank the kool-AIDES. Like most vices, we need to tax billionaires far more heavily.

@Todd - Being not contemptible is a pretty low bar. As for starting with nothing, her bio suggests that her childhood was fairly affluent. No, she didn’t inherit her billions, and she did expose and benefit from sexism in industry, but she is no more “self-made” than any other billionaire.

Dave 9:18 AM  

In theater a SCRIM is a curtain, not the cloth that curtain is made from.

Flinque 9:20 AM  


TJS 9:23 AM  

Whats with asterisks being used in place of quotation marks ? Is this some trendy university thing I missed ? Someone please set me straight so I can be woked up.

Feminist 9:23 AM  

@Z- She’s more “self-made” than Donald Trump, who inherited millions. Why must you always be such an ass ?

puzzlehoarder 9:27 AM  

A disappointingly easy Friday. I started with BANFF in the NE and went clockwise. No late week resistance anywhere.

It was no surprise when the constructor credited Robyn Weintraub as a mentor. That user friendly approach was present throughout.

There's nothing wrong with making easy themeless puzzles just run them in the early week where they belong. Why do Monday through Wednesday puzzles have to have a theme anyway?

This would have been a perfectly fine Wednesday puzzle but as a Friday it was a let down.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I liked the puzzle a little more than Rex but found it a little too easy for Friday.

I don't know Leslie Rogers and looked up nothing about him or her on other sites. Based on the clues, I would deduce that he or she is at least 65, spends autumns in New England or perhaps NYC, winters in Florida, and springs in Italy. If this is nonsense, Leslie, please have a laugh at my expense.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Preferred Customer 9:38 AM  

@Kelly You can spell someone too. "I need you to spell me for a while."

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Isn’t talcum powder a rash guard? Just kidding!

Hartley70 9:51 AM  

@Kelly 9:03, well you’re right. How about if you SPELL someone doing an arduous task, to give them a breather?

Schatzi 10:04 AM  

Absolutely. Nice catch. Easy way to remember is countries w/ no E in them (Scotland, Canada, & Japan) spell whisky w/ out an E. United States & Ireland spell w/ an E.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

@Z - true to form. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have done more than any tax code ever could,, committing the majority of their fortunes to philanthropy all while advocating for higher taxes on people like themselves. Demonizing billionaires and millionaires because they were smart and/or lucky enough to be financially successful is usually done by those that are not-so-smart and/or lucky. Perhaps while we (rightfully) raise taxes (even heavily) on billionaires we should also insist that everyone earning an income pay an income tax so that everyone has skin in the game. I don't know you but I wonder if you would advocate for higher taxes paid by people in your socio-economic bracket? I believe I should pay more taxes, but I also believe that 44% is too high a number of people that pay zero federal income tax.

jberg 10:15 AM  

@Amie - or you’ve split a lot of firewood, let me SPELL you.

jberg 10:21 AM  

Wow you scored a lot of points in that basketball game!

Well, they had a RASH GUARD and I took advantage.

@Gill—you may not say Jack Daniel, but the bottle does!

Anonymous 10:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Nice puzzle.

23A is ALEPH, a character in the Hebrew alphabet. It is used in the mathematics of infinite numbers. This area of mathematics is full of mind-boggling facts. To begin with, there is a sequence of infinite numbers, each larger than its predecessor. They are called aleph-zero, aleph-one, aleph-two, etc. Aleph-zero is the number of natural numbers, 1, 2, 3, ... Aleph-one is the number of real numbers, i.e. all numbers that can be expressed as an infinite decimal. It can also be described as the numbers represented by points on the number line. It is also equal to the number of subsets of the natural numbers. The other alephs are defined in terms of the number of subsets of the immediately-preceding aleph.

One of the most boggling truths about aleph-zero is that it is not only the number of natural numbers but it is also the number of even natural numbers, 2, 4, 6, ... A subset of the natural numbers. Another boggler goes the other way. Aleph-zero is the number of rational numbers, the set of numbers which can be written as fractions. The natural numbers are a subset of the rational numbers.

Lovely clue for ROSEPETAL at 58A.

SouthsideJohnny 10:23 AM  

A little on the easy side for a Friday, which gives me a fighting chance. Everything below the POLAR BEAR PLUNGE was remarkably clean, enjoyable and gunk-free (with the exception of the GoT referenced ALLEN, perhaps).

Can anyone help me understand how we get from “works” to OPERA ? I must be missing something there. Yes, an OPERA is a set of, or completed “work”, but so is a BOOK !

Today’s absolute dud entry is the totally useless and completely unnecessary VAL-de-marne. I just don’t understand why Shortz insists on a quota for foreign words and phrases. So many ways available to clue VAL . . . Smh.

From my (advanced beginner) perspective, I would give this a solid B/B+ today.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

I dare Shortz to go up to a Scot and talk about his/her country's "whiskey"

Newboy 10:33 AM  

WELL DONE commentariat and a tip of the DEWARs to Shatzi for a memorable mnemonic. A HOST of personal blank stare moments always lets me know I’m not on the constructor’s frequency, yet fair and gettable, so MOLTO BENE Leslie. Now off to see constructor notes on xwordinfo.

ez 10:35 AM  

I believe all three are possessive (‘s), so their actual last names are, indeed, s-less. You’re absolutely right about the atrocity of that clue not being e-less, though!

Big Fella 10:35 AM  

I thought one of the conventions involved having an abbr. in the clue if there is one in the answer - 37D, does Wally count as an abbreviation ? That’s all he was ever called on the show - I think that was his real name (Beaver’s given name was Theodore). Seems like an oversight - does the constructor get PO’d when the editors screw up the puzzle, or is that the price they pay in order to get it published ?

Anyway - fun Friday, much better than yesterday’s foul-smelling dud.

William of Ockham 10:37 AM  

VEAL and Foie Gras. YUM
Eat it, snowflakes. Give me a break.

Very easy except slightly tricky NW including 'WOD'. Unknown to me with a part of the family avid surfers in CA.

Sir Hillary 10:42 AM  

Wake me when the back-and-forth re: billionaires and tax rates is over. Best cure for insomnia ever. Thanks gang.

Ah, the puzzle...I loved it. That is a truly great Friday grid. The 13 entries of 8+ letters are all zippy and/or well-clued -- often both. Best of all, in my opinion, there is absolutely no junk at all! -- the puzzle is positively Berry-esque in terms of cleanliness. Whoever Leslie Rogers is, they should be extremely proud of this VERY NICE work.

One thing I don't understand...how is Works a clue for OPERA?

Z 10:45 AM  

Come for crossword comments, stay for the tax policy debate? Nah? Then ignore the following.

@Feminist - That's known as "damning with faint praise." "Better than Trump" is like saying Hamburger Helper is better than eating dog crap. Well, sure. I can't argue with that.

@Anon10:07 - I'm far less concerned with that 44% number (because they pay lots of other taxes) than I am with big corporations that pay nothing. I will let you research the racist underpinnings of the 44% argument.

Finally, Any of you upset with what I wrote understand the difference between criticizing a billionaire and criticizing our response to billionaires? They're not "self-made" and they need to pay lots more in taxes. Such radical notions....

@TJS - The asterisks for "scare quotes" is a recent internet thing, I think. Here's a good discussion of the supposed "problem". Reading some of the suggested solutions, I prefer asterisks. Tl;Dr? "Scare Quotes" use quotation marks opposite of their original meaning which could lead to confusion, even though everyone seems to understand the difference between quotation marks and "scare quotes" just fine.

btgrover 10:47 AM  

The Thursday puzzle this week was actually a hard Saturday, and now we get a soft Wednesday on Friday. Get it together NYT!

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

SPELL is used as a verb - "We're going to spell the running back after the billionaire veal attack made him woozy".

JC66 10:49 AM  

My maternal grandfather belonged to the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. He did the plunge yearly and died over 70 yers ago, at the age of 84, while doing it.


Before today, I was unfamiliar with Sara Blakely (but knew Spanx) so, after reading your comment, I googled her.

I don't understand how she is not "self-made." Could you please clarify.


It's an old, late week puzzle trick: OPERA is the plural of opus (work).

TJS 11:11 AM  

@JC66, Gracias for the "opera" explanation. I should have figured that one out but just couldn't make the connection.
@Z,thanks for the link.

CT2Napa 11:25 AM  

when you “talk” about it, it is hard to know whether you are saying whiskey or whisky. or wisky for that matter

Swagomatic 11:32 AM  


Are you an SGU listener?

Masked and Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Nice themeless FriPuz, with lotsa sparkle and feist. Always luv them weird ball letter combos, like in VWBUS and BANFF. And gotta like DRPEPPER with yer PADTHAI, of course.

First M&A entries: ANIMA/EMIT. Then GUT. Then the bogus ALOT, instead of HOST. Then a little pause, runnin off some precious nanoseconds in honor of the totally unknown RASHGUARD/REECE situation.

Last entry: MOLTOBENE/ALLEN intersection. Was really torn between guessin A or E, there. Guessed U (go-to vowel, when in doubt). Wrong again and figured so, Molto&Alfie breath.

staff weeject pick: VAL. Arrrrgh … (s)more of this nasty French-fried-splatz-in-the-blank stuff (yo, @Roo).

Alternate VAL clue: {Comic strip Prince, to friends, relatives, and Arn and Arn?}.
Alternate RASHGUARD clue: {Lab protection best worn when handling Neodymium}.

Thanx for your VERYNICE work, Ms. Leslie darlin. [UNSNAG … har.]

Masked & Anonymo5Us

p.s. Friday the 13th is sure goin well for Old Stable Genius, so far.

p.p.s.s. Primo blog write-up, @RP. Thanx.


Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Not moderately to very repulsive. Honestly, what is wrong with you?

There's a passal of wimins who think Spanx-anything is an insult to wiminhood. A really big passel.

Billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have done more than any tax code ever could,, committing the majority of their fortunes to philanthropy all while advocating for higher taxes on people like themselves.

In this case the exception(s) don't contradict the rule. I give you Koch(s) and Putin. And shouldn't such funds be distributed democratically? Gates, Buffett, et al are still just oligarchs. Perhaps kinder and gentler, but still oligarchs. They alone determine who benefits. How is this different from the Sheriff of Notingham?

GILL I. 12:10 PM  

@Quasi...Thanks for the heads up. I love to reminisce - especially if it involves drink and food. I had not heard of the Palacio Espanol so I looked it up. Yes indeed. Swank and lovely and the food looks delicious as well. We always went to the Alvear Palace. It was right around the corner from where Dad and Monique lived. I still remember the address and telling the cab driver 1869 Callao entre Quintana y Alvear. Hah! Buenos Aires is such a beautiful city...so is the country.
@jberg....My bottle of Jack Daniel has an S. Maybe yours is a fake. I actually went to the liquor cabinet to check and make sure...I hate that stuff but it makes good Manhattan's.....with an S.

leah712 12:15 PM  

Who can explain why 22A ___Home is "Ram?"

JC66 12:19 PM  


"Ram Home" is an idiom.

Nancy 12:35 PM  

I did the puzzle in two sessions today -- before and after my free trial swim at a nabe health club where the pool closes at 11 a.m and doesn't re-open until the evening. I enjoyed the puzzle and I enjoyed the swim, early though it was. I didn't wear RASH GUARD swimwear, though, which I've never heard of, not even once. Which means I had to enter the puzzle elsewhere (in the INGA/SMORE area) and go back to the NW. Found the puzzle easy in places, hard in others. Off to wash my hair now.

john towle 12:39 PM  

“Oh frabjous day
Calloo callay”
He chortled
In his joy.

‘Twas brillig etc.


Anonymous 12:59 PM  

@anon 11:56 First, there is a growing movement of rich folks who are committing the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Second, in the absence of a different tax code, their only option is philanthropy since they have already satisfied their tax payments according to the law (blame the law, not the billionaire). Third if you are suggesting that instead of philanthropy they simply hand over the cash for "democratic" distribution, whom would you suggest? The government? Yeah, that would be effective...not. The point is demonizing billionaires is sour grapes. I would wager that if taxes were raised on them, they would not complain - indeed, a plethora of very wealthy people spoke up against the Trump tax cuts. So tired of the finger pointing cry babies who set themselves on pedestals of moral superiority.

@Z - your point on the 44% is well taken; but you ignore the point on billionaires (and cleverly switched to talking about corporations...another debate altogether). Okay, billionaires are not "self-made", they rely on the people they hire, pay and enrich en route to becoming billionaires. What's wrong with that? And to be clear, I am referring to those that made their fortunes by building businesses (not inheritance). And I ask - do you put yourself in the category of people that should pay more taxes? If so, kudos, but the majority of people only favor higher taxes on those that earn more than them, conveniently leaving themselves out of the equation.

David 1:22 PM  

Yeah, no "s" on John Dewar's name. Oh wait, there is an "s". Not fond of "the end" but I liked this puzzle fine, even with a Game of Thrones clue.

Got no purchase n the NW so started in the NE with Banff. Those long downs fell right in and away I went. NE, then SE to SW and finally back up. Clean solve and pretty quick for a Friday. My favorite clue was for ear worm.

Did anyone else think it would have been exceptional if 30D's answer had been Edgar?

Nice puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 1:23 PM  

I (mostly) enjoyed this puzzle - any Friday I can complete in under 12 minutes is a real treat (read: coup) for me.
Since the "SPELL" and "OPERA" questions have already been addressed and answered, I would like to add my voice to that of OFL when it comes to anything GOT. I'm sure there are maybe 2 or 3 dozen people in the world who were NOT sucked into that omnipresent cultural black hole and I'm happy to be one of them. Don't get me wrong - I can sheeple with the best of them, but despite trying to watch the show 2 or 3 times (never got through the first episode), I just couldn't muster even a modicum of interest.

Tiny rant of a minor, yet growing peeve:

Thank you, Leslie Rogers, for including "MANO A MANO" in the puzzle. If I hear one more anyone say "mano Y mano" my head is going to explode. Why do people try to be "colorful" with glaring ignorance? WHY?


Teedmn 1:45 PM  

I would deem this puzzle medium for me. Not Weintraub easy but under 15 minutes so not hard for a Friday. I envy @Hartley70 - I had to skip to the center of the puzzle to get my start with NERVE crossing VEAL. Even though my only swim wear is a RASH GUARD with matching compression shorts, I didn't associate it with surfing so I needed my GUT instinct to come up with that in the NW.

Not a Heap of writeovers today, just that one (for HOST) and the ROSE hEdge. I liked the clues for 32D MONEY BELT, and 38D's EAR WORMS. Best "What?" answer was trying to see why 57D's "Straight" was DUE. Finally I thought of DUE west so that was a fun aha.

I had a friend who took a New Year's Day POLAR BEAR PLUNGE; he came out of the water delirious from the brain freeze caused by the frigid water. He went running barefoot down the sidewalk in a daze after he got out. I've never had the urge to do one - I wear a RASHGUARD in Caribbean waters because I'm cold in temperate zones. I'm not going to plunge into a hole cut in the ice on Lake Minnetonka, MN!!

MOLTO BENE, one of the phrases I used frequently on my one visit to Italy. FREE RANGE, I've paid the ULTRA bucks to get eggs from purportedly free range chickens ever since I read about the conditions hens are kept under at commercial farms, shudder. Interesting factoid about DR. PEPPER. I thought only V8 had such a cornucopia of flavors.

@Leslie Rogers, congratulations on your NYT solo debut. I had a lovely ENCOUNTER with this puzzle!

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

blame the law, not the billionaire

and who, do you wager, gets the laws they want? remember, all those European Socialist countries feature markedly better parameters than the billionaire country. healthcare, life span, education. and so on. the issue, of course, is that individual philanthropy puts such folk at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis those who choose not to. you don't get or stay wealthy by being generous. there's a reason why 19th century USofA was mostly privation for most for most of the time. if that's the sort of country you want, just go live in Russia. oh wait... the Russpublicans are making the USofA just like that.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

@anon 11:56:
And shouldn't such funds be distributed democratically?

I'll just quote Churchill:
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries"

I'll go live in Russia if you go live in Venezuela.

Lewis 2:26 PM  

@sir hillary -- OPERA is one of the plurals of "opus".
@poggius -- Take a look at the constructor at xwordinfo.com .

Ethan Taliesin 2:28 PM  

Fun puzzle.

Originally had SUSHI for "Treat rarely prepared indoors."
At first I thought "now that's clever!" then "that aaallmost makes sense, but not really."
You know, with sushi generally being raw, not rare...

I enjoyed it overall and finished in slightly better than average time.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

@anon - 2:19
I'll go live in Russia if you go live in Venezuela.

their both authoritarian, so what's the difference and/or your point? OTOH, you can live poor in a Red State, and I'll live healthy and educated in a Blue State.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

Anonymous 1:57 said “European Socialist countries feature markedly better parameters ...”. I’m not sure what countries he was referring to but I hope it wasn’t Scandinavia. From Forbes “The myth of Nordic socialism is partially created by a confusion between socialism, meaning government exerting control or ownership of businesses, and the welfare state in the form of government-provided social safety net programs. However, the left’s embrace of socialism is not merely a case of redefining a word. Simply look at the long-running affinity of leftists with socialist dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela for proof many on the left long for real socialism.”

QuasiMojo 3:33 PM  

Lovely! @GILL

Poor and Unashamed 3:59 PM  

,@Anon 2:35 PM: Before bragging about your education you should probably learn the difference between their and they’re.

Geezer 4:19 PM  

Amen two that.

OffTheGrid 4:30 PM  

I am deeply ashamed for having watched and enjoyed GOT. I even like GOT clues, though I know almost none of the actor names.

But seriously, @Frantic Sloth, what is it that makes you happy you didn't want to watch GOT, happy that you didn't get "sucked in"? That's just f***ed up elitism of some sort.

albatross shell 4:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 4:39 PM  

@Poor and Unashamed:

and you should learn about sarcasm.

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

@anon 2:35:
I'll live healthy and educated in a Blue State.

I’m sure the countless homeless in California and Oregon are living “healthy and educated”. No doubt “their” very happy.

Nancy 5:43 PM  

I'm with you on two out of three today, @GILL. Agree that bean sprouts are tasteless and pointless. Sort of like the Unfood. Also agree that the idea of a mud bath is really, really revolting. In fact I'd pay top SPA prices in order to avoid a mud bath. Which reminds me of the famous comment of the subway rider to the subway "musician": "How much do you charge to not play?"

But I don't agree on DYLAN. He truly is a poet and I jumped for joy when he won the Nobel for Literature. Now I'm waiting for Paul Simon and Stephen Sondheim to each win one and then I'll be completely happy.

Loved your riposte to @jberg that maybe his S-less "Jack Daniel" is a fake.

albatross shell 5:53 PM  

Rex apparently did notice that the puzzle wanted to END VEAL.

RASHGUARD BANFF on her FIRSTSTEP STEED ENCOUNTERed ALEPH, SARA AND INGA, the PADTHAI sisters, and joined them above the POLAR BEARPLUNGE. ROSE. REBA and ETHEL, the PETAL SISTERS, had arrived for SKISEASON, but had RAMmed their VWBUS into an OLDGROWTH pine causing their
FREERANGE PIANO to slide down the slope while the van slid into the BROOK  which now seemed to originate from the open center doors of the van. The PADTHAIs asked PETALs if they would NEEDAHAND and they all got busy.  Meanwhile Hunnie ATILLA, Bobby DYLAN and Eddie ALLEN POE studied the LEGWORK involved and wondered if aMANO and MANOa something to do with Japanese shrimp and Hawaii or if something else was afoot, as was I.

Paul Rippey 6:02 PM  

So, Hippie Mobile, I got VW BUg. Then Some crust contents, obviously OREo (because don’t people put Oreos in everything?) That gave me AgoETS for “strengths”. Couldn’t figure that out, leading me to DNF on a fun and challenging (for me) puzzle.

FYI MisterAnonymousPants: Portland doesn’t have “countless” homeless people; it has about 4000 homeless out of 630,000 people, or ¾ of a percent. At the same time, Oregon leads the country in the growth of million dollar tax filings.

More super rich, and more people sleeping in the streets, go hand in hand. Many of the homeless are homeless because the influx of super rich has driven property values through the roof, leaving folks unable to pay rent. The destruction of neighborhoods by developers and investors leaves people without their safety nets. The closing of local small businesses, to be replaced by internet commerce and box stores, destroys people’s real jobs.

But, anyway, we may disagree about politics but we all read the same crossword puzzle blog.

Nancy 6:06 PM  

@JC66 -- So the question is: Did your grandfather live to the ripe old age of 84 (it was a ripe old age 70 years ago!) because he did the POLAR BEAR PLUNGE yearly? Or did he die much too young at 84 because he stupidly did it that fatal day?

I'm with you, @Teedmn. I feel about taking a POLAR BEAR PLUNGE the same way I feel about having a mud bath. One person's great pleasure being another person's great misery.

JC66 6:23 PM  


Thanks for asking. Yes, he did the POLAR BEAR PLUNGE yearly.

He was very fit and, fingers crossed, I hope I have his genes.

Different Anonymous Pants 6:53 PM  

Paul Rippey said: “More super rich, and more people sleeping in the streets, go hand in hand...” Well, yes and no. There are many factors, Weather for one. Sleeping outside in the winter in NYC or God forbid, Chicago, can kill you. The policies of the administrations also matter. Manhattan has always had more super rich than anywhere but there are a lot more people sleeping in the streets (especially in the warmer months) and in the subways under De Blasio than there were when Bloomberg. Whose policies are better is debatable, but it is a choice any city’s government makes. And yes, we all read the same crossword blog. I appreciate the civility.

GILL I. 8:32 PM  

@Nancy....Yes, amigueta....We agree on lots. OK so I have to comment on Bob Dylan. I NEVER got past his nasal, horrible, long, drawn out epistles, dissertations, (feel free to add any adjective you like) to ever appreciate his lyrics. Had he maybe had Baez or maybe even Joe Coker and his "With a Little Help from My friend" sing his exceedingly long ditties, I could maybe abide the groans. Sorry. And I know I sound pedantic. Kinda like those bemoaning the rich.
@Paul Rippey 6:02. Thumbs up on your post. Ahhh...the homeless. Breaks my heart. While many want to help find homes for the unfortunate, you have the NIMBYS controlling the works. Then, at least here in California, you have construction constraints. You have to protect endangered frogs and snakes. You need permits up the wazoo; you have Union issues, permits and land usage. Rice growers, farmers et all have something in the stake. [sigh}
Happy holidays, all. Oh, by the way, their vs they're...sometimes your damn auto correct doesn't know the difference. Don't be a grammar pendejo.....

Nancy 9:21 PM  

For my friend @GILL -- Yes, his voice is nasal, hoarse, scratchy -- I agree with you. But you can listen to his songs without listening to him. I don't know if Baez ever recorded any of his songs, but Judy Collins did. Here's one of my favorites, containing some of his most poetic, Nobel-worthy lyrics. Enjoy!

Anonymous 9:41 PM  

Gill-Agree that it’s petty to snipe at misspellings, grammar errors, etc. on blog posts, but when someone smugly writes “OTOH, you can live poor in a Red State, and I'll live healthy and educated in a Blue State,” I think it’s appropriate.

JC66 9:52 PM  

@GILL I & @Nancy

Have you heard this version?

retired guy 11:08 PM  

Nice to know that we are developing a greater appreciation of the Huns. So far, at least, no one has been triggered by ATTILA

Anonymous 7:28 AM  

MOLTO BENE does not mean 'well done' in Italian. It means 'very well'. I also question ROSE PETAL for symbol of elapsed time. Just one petal?

Amelia 12:49 PM  

I'm going to defend Mott Street. (Sentences never before said or written.)

The problem was the word "artery." The word "through" absolved the editors. The Bowery and Canal are on the edges of the Chinatown we know mostly from the past, as Chinatown creeps north. Mott Street goes THROUGH Chinatown. Off it are the Bayards and Pells. Enough. It's right enough.

God help me for agreeing with Rex again. But EXTRAONE was horrendous. I looked up to hub-e after I wrote it in and said this is a bad answer. Add to that UNSOBER and ECOTAGE and the hideous TAKE TIME for the equally hideous clue for NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. Cmon! In fact, many of the cues were tortured. LIKE MOST BONDS FOR SALE? Yech.

Or they were too easy. For a New Yorker, Dear Evan Hansen was a gimme, and I haven't even seen it. For a baseball fan, GREEN MONSTER was a gimme. And here's the only thing I loved in the puzzle. It crosses ROIDRAGE. Are you listening, Big Papi?

I'm embarrassed to say the last thing I put in was PLAYERS. I'm a tournament hearts player. There are plays named after me. I should have gotten that. But it got me. Now I GET IT!


kitshef 6:03 PM  

Briefly thought I might DNF today in the NW (RASH GUARD, RAM, REFER, SCRIM) and SE (ALLEN, SPA, PIANO). Happy to get out alive.

spacecraft 11:48 AM  

He did it again: "Easy" (?!?). Yeah, this was easy like bench-pressing 1000 pounds is easy. RAM home??? In a VERY time-consuming effort to get a foothold in the NW corner (west of GUT), I ram the alphabet in all three places to make sense of "___ home." I suppose, now that I guessed at it (correctly, whew), it's not totally unheard-of. But to clue RAM that way is beyond Friday; they have to invent a weekday as yet unnamed for that one. Uber-Saturday, perhaps. Nor have I ever heard of RASHGUARD. When Speedo wouldn't fit, I was pretty much done there. So, it turns out that "Direct" can mean REFER. As in, "Could you direct (REFER) me to the proper department?" Yeah, OK. But again, the clue. Sheesh! And you call this EASY??? SCRIM was 100% crosses. Etc.

My FIRSTSTEP was VW, but I had to wait for van vs. BUS. Other than transposing the middle letters of MUESLI, I had a clean grid. I must say, the fill was clean as well. Hard doesn't mean I didn't like or admire it. Mostly due to that NW, this was challenging, and although "I'm not sanguine about guesses," (Spock quote) I guessed my way to a correct finish and a HOST of triumph points. Can anyone other than Gabrielle REECE, wearing RASHGUARD or anything at all, be considered for DOD? No, but I'll give REBA a solid honorable mention. And maybe one or two of the SARAs. Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:01 PM  


but in the END, to DEWAR was banned,
DUE to AIDES I had no NERVE to mount her,


rondo 2:29 PM  

I started with the 10a/10d gimmes and circled clock-wise around back to the NW which didn’t fill in as fast as the rest, but yeah baby Gabrielle REECE was a gimme so not a great deal of trouble there.

And Jerry Mathers as the BEAVer. Nice Fri-puz.

Joshua K. 2:52 PM  

I don't understand the grammar of 42A: "Aconcagua is ITS highest point." The ANDES are plural, so shouldn't the clue have said "... their highest point" instead?

Diana, LIW 3:10 PM  

1A gave me a dnf. Other than that, I got it all. Not too shabby for a Friday IMO.

Diana, LIW

leftcoaster 6:55 PM  

Yeah, !A, the "RASH" of RASH GUARD. Had a bad GUT feeling about that one.

Liked seeing the fem gathering of Gabrielle REECE, INGA Swenson, SARA Blakely, and ETHEL Mertz.

Also liked the SPA/PIANO/MOLTOBENE cluster and cluing in the SE.

leftcoaster 7:10 PM  

@Joshua K.
The ANDES is a collective singular, so "ITS" is OK, I think.

T. N. Enquirer 8:41 PM  

Can there be one ANDE like there can be one Alp? Can there be one Rockie, or rather, one Rocky? What about one Sierra Nevada or one Cascade?

What about a Phillipine?

What about Honduras, Barbados, Paris or Athens or Thebes or Argos?

*Is* the Minnesota Wild - or the Connecticut Sun - a team? Or *are* the Minnesota Wild - or the Connecticut Sun - a team?

Is an S always plural? Can it be plural without an S (or an I or an A)?

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