Palace in Hindi / FRI 2-21-20 / Celebrity with namesake cereal in '80s / Mare might be found in one / Helpful word in solving cryptograms

Friday, February 21, 2020

Constructor: Erik Agard and Anne Flinchbaugh

Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium (I solved on paper without a timer)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SANTOS (35D: Brazilian soccer team that Pelé played for) —
Santos Futebol Clube (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈsɐ̃tus futʃiˈbɔw ˈklubi]), commonly known simply as Santos, is a Brazilian sports club based in Vila Belmiro, a bairro in the city of Santos. It plays in the Paulistão, the State of São Paulo's premier state league, as well as the Brasileirão, the top tier of the Brazilian football league system.
The club was founded in 1912 by the initiative of three sports enthusiasts from Santos by Raimundo Marques, Mário Ferraz de Campos, and Argemiro de Souza Júnior as a response to the lack of representation the city had in football. Since then, Santos became one of Brazil's most successful clubs, becoming a symbol of Jogo Bonito (English: the Beautiful Game) in football culture, hence the motto "Técnica e Disciplina" (Technique and discipline). The most recognized Santista anthem is the "Leão do Mar" written by Mangeri Neto. This was largely thanks to the Peixe's golden generation of the 1960s which contained players such as GilmarMauro RamosMengálvioCoutinhoPepe and Pelé, named the "Athlete of the Century" by the International Olympic Committee, and widely regarded as the best and most accomplished footballer in the game's history. Os Santásticos, considered by some the best club team of all times, won a total of 24 titles during that decade including five consecutive Brasileirões, a feat that remains unequaled today. Os Santásticos won four competitions in 1962, thus completing a quadruple, comprising the Paulistão, the Brasileirão, the Copa Libertadores and the European/South American Cup. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well OK then, hi, hello there. This is the Friday crossword content I am looking for (and congrats to Anne Flinchbaugh on what appears to be her NYTXW debut). After my initial annoyance at being thrown a "?" clue at 1A: Caseload? (BOTTLES) — not welcoming! — rather than wrestle with it, I just jumped over to the NE corner, got SIDEBET immediately, and settled in for what turned out to be a great, if brief, ride. I just kept filling in the grid and nodding. Yes. Oh sure, I like that. Good one. Oh, CHEAT CODE, huh, wow. It kept on like that. So smooth. So smooth that the rough bits (for me) really stood out. The rough bits are (unsurprisingly) all proper nouns that were "rough" because I didn't know them. Too bad so sad. The only truly rough bit, where "rough" can be understood as "unlovely," was OVULAR, which ... how many damn ways do we need to say egg-shaped in this ridiculous language? Were OVATE and OVOID not enough!? I guess my complaint here is more with the English language than with the puzzle, which, as I say, was mostly gold. The truly impressive thing to me was that it felt poppin' fresh while not really having *that* many long answers. Only six answers go longer than eight letters, and only three go longer than nine. And yet man do they make good use of the 8+ stuff: BADMOUTH, EVIL GRINS, RUNNER'S HIGH, CHEAT CODE, LUNAR CRATER. If you can maximized the wow value of your longer answers, keep your shorter stuff clean, and write occasionally interesting clues, well, that's all there is to it! Easy! (Editor's voice: not easy)

Favorite moments today were actually cluing moments, which I could probably just call "clues," but we're a high-class outfit here at "Rex Parker" and we like to deal in professional-seeming argot when we can. I loved the clue on DRS (what are the odds of That?) (25A: Mount Sinai people: Abbr.). Mostly I'm glad I saw the clue only *after* I'd filled it in from crosses, because wow that would've thrown me. My brain would definitely have gone "Bible" and not "hospital," and then I'd've been in Stuck City until the crosses helped me out (I bypassed Stuck City today, accidentally, by just doing the crosses). The other hurray moment for me with the cluing came at 43A: A mare might be found in one—before I read that clue, I had L--AR in place, so my brain was already thinking LUNAR, but when I saw the clue, I had a great (because brief) moment of "'mare,' what the ...?" and then snap, yes, got it. From the Latin for "sea," mares (actually ... looks like the plural is "maria") are "large, dark, basaltic plains on the moon" that early astronomers mistook for seas (wikipedia). They cover about a sixth of the moon's surface. Anyway, love both the DRS and the LUNAR CRATER clues, though I have to admit it was nice in both cases to be able to admire them without having had to go through that icky period where you're baffled by them. This puzzle was 95%+ good feelings, which is honestly about 30% more than I actually require. Please study the non-flashy parts of the grid to see what "smooth fill" means. Not JOSHING. Do it. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I did not know who EGO Nwodim is because I don't watch "SNL" any more, but she's been on the show since 2018 (11D: Nwodim of "S.N.L."). I like the way Erik (here and in his the puzzles he edits for USA Today) helps me navigate the pop culture names I don't know by making sure crosses are superfair.

P.P.S. I could not process what the "in more ways than one" part of the PREGAME clue was getting at (16A: Time for warm-up shots, in more ways than one). I think the idea is that players take practice shots in PREGAME, and cameras take shots *of* the warm-up in their PREGAME shows? So, basketball shots and camera shots are the "more ways than one" ... if that's wrong, please don't tell me, because I'm honestly content with my explanation.

P.P.P.S. A young person just informed me that PREGAME means “drink before going to a game / party” so “shots” = alcohol. Sigh. Clever clue that I missed because of generational lingo difference.  I hate binge-drinking, which literally kills the kids I teach. I don’t like xword clues that joke about alcoholism (wacky punny clues for SOT or DTS or DIPSO, say). This one isn’t in that category, but it has negative connotations for me solely because of my job. My problem, not yours.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Gary 5:47 AM  

Pregaming is modern slang for pre-event drinking. You can pregame at a tailgate, you can pregame at a house, or you can pregame, like me, in the bathroom of a Denny's.

toddh 6:00 AM  

Lol Rex doesn’t take pregame shots.

BarbieBarbie 6:00 AM  

@Rex, when you PREGAME a party, you drink before you go. Often also true of sports events, which makes it an extra-great clue.

Fully agree with OFL today! Chewy, rewarding puzzle with many writeovers and no Google DNFs.

Anonymous 6:01 AM  

Fans take PREGAME warm up shots before turning to beer?

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

Pregaming is drinking before hitting the bar

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

I think the other sense of pregame has to do with shots of alcohol. Some people who start drinking in preparation for going out drinking call it pregaming.

Lance 6:14 AM  

Pregame can refer to drinking that can be done prior to going out. So alcohol shots

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

Swear jar? Do people use those? Mine would have to be like a 55-gallon drum.

E.R. Murrow 6:23 AM  

Let us be very, very clear, and make no mistake about it.

AM RADIO is NOT a "big source of political talk." It is a source of hate talk. Pure hate talk. A principal source. And lots of it. Hate defines it. Hate drives it. Hate saturates it.

Unknown 6:24 AM  

Rex, Rex, Rex. “Pre-game” also means drinking before an event, thus a time for warm-up shots (of booze). Even an old guy like me knows that.

Greg 6:25 AM  

I'm pretty sure that the PREGAME clue refers to shots of alcohol that one takes with friends at a tailgate party, also called pregaming.

Kyzyl 6:27 AM  

Are we really not going to correct him on the “pregame” joke?

Rex, stop reading. Everyone else: it’s a thing college kids say when they drink _before_ going to a party. Hence, “warm-up shots”.

Just a fantastic puzzle from start to finish. A+++ would solve again.

JohnG 6:48 AM  

People have been "pregaming" for YEARS. I am 47 and we used to pregame in 1991. It's not that odd a comment and that was a great clue, for the double clue aspect of it.

Hungry Mother 6:49 AM  

Knew DOGE from visit to Venice in 2001. When I sat for the G.R.E. I didn’t think of myself as a TESTEE; I was just nervous. Very easy for a Friday.

Lewis 6:50 AM  

Smooth puzzle with the stamp of quality. Never felt like the constructors were trying too hard; and they were kind and expert in fairly crossing answers that many solvers might not know. The puzzle hummed. Like the word REFERENDA, it just rolled out with an almost musical feel.

My biggest holdup was from having POPES as [Prayers] -- people who pray, no? -- rather than HOPES. But my imaginary solver friend finally whispered in my hear to erase the P and run the alphabet. A trio of colorful answers beautified the solve: FLORAL PRINT, BADMOUTH, and EVIL GRINS. Adding to the music were the rhyming EMERGES and DIRGES. And to the happiness: [Recipient of a lot of #@&! money] for SWEAR JAR.

And now I enter my day floating, having been drawn through a grid that felt a bit like a spa. Thank you greatly, Erik and Anne!

pabloinnh 6:56 AM  

Hey, can anyone explain "pregaming"? Ha ha, just kidding. No mas, por favor.

What are the odds of getting a Fridazo right after a Thursdazo? Not great. If I can draw on yesterday's rebus, I'll say that this one was just a ton of F1.

Thanks for a great Friday, guys. What we expect from EA, and what a debut for AF. Hoping for many more.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

While solving (which is what matters), this was very enjoyable. After the fact, I can see that twenty – TWENTY - entries ending in ‘S’, fifteen being plurals, is excessive.

Puzzle features two world-class clues: A mare might be found in one; Recipient of a lot of #@&! money.

My utter conviction that RUNNERS HASH had to go at 30A across cost me some time.

EGO Nwodim? Nwodim EGO? Either way, that is one peculiar way to clue EGO.

amyyanni 7:17 AM  

Appreciated this puzzle quite a bit more than the rest of the week's array. Very clever and fresh. Yay Friday, to Anne & Eric: Thank you both!

KPF 7:21 AM  

Really enjoyed the puzzle in general but as an Egyptian myself, the clue for SADAT “Egyptian nobleman” really threw me off. SADAT was president but famously came from very humble beginnings (despite having a taste for pomp and ceremony).

Suzie Q 7:23 AM  

Now kids, Rex asked you nicely not to correct him about shots but you couldn't resist. Enough already.
Back to the puzzle, great Friday fun! Just the right amount of brain power required.
A new clue for tsars!
Hmm, will it be asp or cat?
Our resident runners will have to tell us if runner's high really happens.
I still call the pile of business cards in my desk drawer my Rolodex.
Thanks Anne and Erik. Nice one.

OffTheGrid 7:35 AM  

Take note Rex haters and read today's review at least three times. When a puzzle deserves praise it receives it.

This was a pleasurable solve. Good to see EWERS again and what a great clue. Liked that OVULAR and TESTEES were in the grid. My dog's name is Patrick so I often say "SITPAT". SPRINT/RUNNERSHIGH, SNEAD/IRONS, PREGAME SIDEBET, BADMOUTH/EVILGRINS. Clue for GLENS could have been "My father and others". He died 15 years ago this week.

QuasiMojo 7:36 AM  

The moment I wake up
Before the Times I take up
I say a little HOPE for me
While smoking my dope, now
And wondering what else to tope now
I say a little HOPE for me...

I call for Uber, dear
While riding I think of Rex dear
I say a little HOPE for him
At work I just take time
And all through my Crossword time
I say a little HOPE for him

For puzzles puzzle me
Confusing, annoying, I never will grok
On how clues get passed
Whatever whatevah! that's how it will be!
To want something more
will only be heartbreak for me

toddh 7:41 AM  


Brett 7:51 AM  

My biggest snag was at 32-Across where I had _OPES filled in. Saw the clue for “prayers,” and popped in POPES—you know, guys who pray.

Lewis 7:56 AM  

@kpf -- The clue for Sadat was [Egyptian Nobelman], that is, he was a Nobel Prize winner.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

@ KPF, The N of nobelsman is capitalized as in a certain prize.

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

why is The a helpful word when solving cryptograms?

Unknown 8:02 AM  

LUNARCRATER was indeed a very well clued piece, highlight of the puzzle for me. Better than average time but not best, felt a little hairy here and there (initial pass left most of bottom half empty) but not unfair. Good stuff.

Johnny Mic 8:14 AM  

Thanks for that, I was also wondering.

Joe R. 8:32 AM  

Rex’s easy get was my bane today. I saw the clue for 29D without having any of the letters in yet, and I instantly threw in EASTEREGG. That messed me up for a long time.

@Anon@8:00 - THE is useful in cryptograms because it will show up several times, and it has two of the most common letters in it, so you can easily validate that it’s right by seeing if that puts a lot of T’s and E’s all over the place, as well as the possibility of making a THAT or two very obvious somewhere.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

@Quasi, I hear the music!

puzzlehoarder 8:37 AM  

This Friday cut a fine line between easy and medium. Just enough resistance to keep it from being a pushover. You could say it had some TESTEES.

clk 8:38 AM  

Nobelman, as in Nobel prize winner.

Nancy 8:47 AM  

A treat from beginning to end. No trivia. Phenomenal cluing based on very clever wordplay. How wonderful are the clues for PREGAME (16A); RUNNER'S HIGH (30A); LUNAR CRATER (43A); TAROTS (3D); TSARS (4D) and SIDE BET (8A). There's enough here to keep @Lewis busy for a week naming favorites.

LUNAR CRATER fooled me completely. Like everyone else, I'm quite sure, I was looking for the female horse. I never heard of a SWEAR JAR, but I suppose it's about parents penalizing kids monetarily for swearing? And I'm not a video gamer so I didn't know CHEAT CODE. Would I want to play a video game against someone who uses a CHEAT CODE? I bet they all have EVIL GRINS and make SIDE BETS.

This was fun, fun, fun. I think Anne F is a good collaborator for Erik A. More from the two of you in the future, please.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Just need to add to the "pregaming" discussion, only because I think that Rex might have a college-age kid. Wait, doesn't he work at a college? How could he not know this? Maybe he's being facetious. Anyway, you really need to know this, Rex. Ask any college (or high school, probably even middle school) kid you know. You'd better ask them about other things you definitely don't want to know about, too!

Nancy 8:57 AM  

@Quasi (7:36) -- I had the same "you gotta be kidding me" reaction to prayers = HOPES that you did, but I never thought to skewer it. Terrific skewering!

julia 8:59 AM  

I too found this puzzle to be refreshing. Because Rex so often reflects my exact thoughts, I was interested to see his take, et voila! After the slog that was the last week or so, I feel clean again.

GILL I. 9:02 AM  

Didn't help that I started 1A with a BEER CAN. Of course it's wrong because it has to be OVULAR for 2D. I tried YOLKED for being egg like.
Nice puzzle. Had a few struggles. Had to Google for my EGO and never heard of CHEAT CODE. That one took me forever to get.
I figured 29A had to be CHATS up. I promise you, my friends, if you're sitting in a bar, the LAD next to you doesn't just want to befriend you. He will give you the EVIL GRINS - maybe even a wink wink. Being your friend is that last thing on his mind.
@Suzie Q 7:23. I can assure you that RUNNERS HIGH exists. I don't run anymore because I ruined my knees doing a lot of stupid things. But the HIGH is what I ran for. Hard to explain. You get to a point where you just want to lie down and die and then all of a sudden you get this adrenaline from heaven. Maybe some DRS here can explain the phenomena.

Cliff 9:09 AM  

@ Anonymous, "the" helps the cryptogram solver because it is the most common three letter word, and occurs at predictable locations (never at the end of a sentence or phrase, often at the beginning). When I used to solve cryptograms, I always looked for the "the's" first.

Z 9:10 AM  

224 of 225 is pretty damn good. But that O, no no no. ROLODEXes were passé when I was among GRE TESTEES. I guess crossing ancient office tech with modern SNL performer is technically fair. But crossing two proper names at a vowel is always suboptimal, so why go proper name when EGO is easily clued as a non-proper name. I was 100% sure of ROLODEX except going proper name made me think maybe EG- needed a different vowel. I am fairly confident that people who have never heard of ROLODEX or EGO Nwodim are not alone.

But otherwise what Rex said. I especially love the PODCAST/AM RADIO stack. The last time I regularly listened to AM RADIO this was being played at least once every hour. I’m pretty sure that is the song that drove me to the FM dial. I do subscribe to a few PODCASTs but I’m always way behind. Simple truth, I can read the equivalent of two or three PODCASTs in the time it takes to listen to one. If I had a commute it might be different, but commuting and PODCASTs are both wastes of my time.

I see a couple of half explanations for the SADAT clue. There are three hints in the clue, the capitalized “Nobelman,” the spelling of “Nobelman,” and the “?” to end the clue. That’s a beautifully constructed clue, although I sorta felt the “?” was overkill until I saw that it still tricked people. I filled in SADAT and had a brief “Wha?” moment until I looked at the clue again, then I smiled.

All those “S” so my favorite plural was REFERENDA.

Cliff 9:12 AM  

I do not understand how the past tense verb "texted" (??) answers to "Like emojis".

Sir Hillary 9:18 AM  

I didn't find this as "fresh" as @Rex did, but the smoothness is undeniable. Absolutely nothing in the way of junk.

@kistchef 7:17AM makes a good point about excessive terminal S's, but I never noticed that while solving, which is testament to how smooth this really is.

Brief error: ROLLingr.

I don't know NWodim of "S.N.L." and couldn't remember the middle vowel in ROLODEX, so that was my last square filled.

When my (over 21) daughters tell me things like "LISA TEXTED me that she HOPES I can PREGAME with her because she's got a SIDEBET with SUSIE on how many BOTTLES we'll down in ADVANCE of hitting the CRAFT bar" I really hope they are JOSHING.

Am I the only one who feels that recently we're seeing a lot of Agard collaborations with lesser-known constructors? Very cool.

@Quasimojo 7:36AM -- My favorite post of 2020 so far. You done Hal David proud.

Z 9:21 AM  

@Quasimojo - Nicely done so I feel like a bit of a TESTEES by pointing you to the sixth definition here.

Rex has never been known to be facetious and doesn’t like sports so he clearly had no idea what the PRE-GAME clue was getting at.

Jay 9:22 AM  

Absolutely spectacular puzzle from beginning to end. Misspelled PUPAL so didn't quite finish. But I was close enough.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Like many I liked the LUNARCRATER clue/answer but it’s technically flawed. A mare is a basaltic plain. A mare can have impact craters but a mare isn’t contained by an impact crater. The imprecision slowed me down.

Geezer 9:46 AM  

I really wish I hadn't learned there's a slang term for drinking before you go drinking.

Carola 9:52 AM  

On the tough side for me, and a real treat - witty cluing, fresh answers, plenty of entries that "talk" to each other (thank you, @offthegrid 7:35). I liked the cluster of JOSHING, CHEAT CODE, and SWEAR JAR for its playful evocation of the constructors' CRAFT in fooling us (well, me) repeatedly.
First in: DOGE x EMERGES; last in: THIRD x RUNNERS HIGH.
Moment of can't-fool-me triumph: DRS. Moments of totally-faked-me-out: too many to mention. Moment of guilty pleasure paying off: SILAS.

@Erik Agard and Anne Flinchbaugh, I'm very much looking forward to your next one.

Nancy 9:53 AM  

@GILL (9:02) -- I'm not a DR, nor do I play one on TV, but I can certainly explain RUNNER'S HIGH. Exercise produces endorphins and endorphins produce euphoria. (A wonderful thing when the body makes its own; not such a good thing when you scarf down pills). Anyway, all exercise produces endorphins -- not just running. There's a TENNIS PLAYER'S HIGH, too -- trust me on that. Tennis players are every bit as addicted to their sport as runners. But here's the big difference: You don't have to go through abject misery and feel like "you just want to lie down and die" in order to get to that euphoria. You can get to it quickly and [mostly] painlessly. All tennis players have bodily aches and pains from time to time -- and more often than that as you get older, don't ask! -- but "getting through your pain threshhold" is not the point of tennis the way it is the point of running. Which is why, as a confirmed hedonist and not a masochist, I chose tennis as my sport.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Because Texted is a gerundive.
Anon 9:44. Yep.
Sir Hillary, no doubt Agard teams up with new constructors. I don't share your zeal however. The collaborations always seem to be exclusively with women and that seems to be to be Agard making a statement, which, I'm frankly tired of hearing.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

ROLODEX/EGO crossing was a Natick for me, I had ROLADEX. I finally got it by running the vowels.

Chim cham 10:08 AM  

Home run debut. Loved this puzzle.

Z 10:33 AM  

@Cliff - TEXTED is an adjective here, TEXTED Emojis. It’s a pretty common clue ploy to use “like” to signal the “-ED” ending this way.

@Anon10:04 - Gerundive?

emily 10:33 AM  

Nicely stated.

David 10:36 AM  

Erik and Anne: brilliant puzzle, thank you

Somehow this just clicked for me all around, really hit home; a well crafted puzzle.

I thought of pregame as shooting baskets and taking shots at the other team. Leave it to the kids to come up with a way to get even drunker earlier in the evening.

My only write over was I plopped Ivans down in 4D without even thinking about it. Well, I was close and got it fixed pretty soon.

Mare Tranquillitatis. I well remember that day. We put men on the moon, invented transistors, integrated circuits, computers, solar panels, the internet, computer coding, etc. but, you know, we're too old to understand technology. Ha. Oh, and according to AM Radio (both hate and the *actual* fake news), the government has never been able to do anything good or right.

Pelé, still the star of the futbol world. Sadat the Nobel man. Yes, my mind went Biblical at 25A as well, but after working out of my Ivans the clouds parted (or was it the seas?) as it revealed the far part of the NW to me.

Nice to see Thomas Paine in the same puzzle as our freshman congresswoman from NYC.

And yes, at work we still have and use our long-time VPs Rolodex, and I have one in my home office as well. I don't always need rare earth materials, underpaid labor, and electricity to find a phone number I've forgotten.

Malsdemare 10:43 AM  

It looks like it’s almost universal—this was a great puzzle. I wanted backdoors for the gaming CHEAT but SADAT, which I got pretty quickly, disabused me of that notion. And backdoors are more about illegal incursions into programs anyway. But even thinking of it made me feel all geeky and in-the-know, even when in-the-dark. I learned that MAHAL means palace; it’s not just part of the name of one of the most spectacular memorials on earth. I filled in DRS through crosses so missed that excellent misdirect. I did see it early, thought about ISR but that’s not plural so I resisted the impulse to fill it in and then never looked back. My favs are a toosup between BADMOUTH and EVILGRINS; both make me smile.

I’m a ton older than Rex, but I knew from twenty-five years of teaching college kids that PREGAME’s double reference had to refer to lubing up before hitting the tailgate parties. Just made sense.

I’m a former runner as well and my highs always arrived well before the lie-down-and-die moment. I still dream about running, about that sublime moment when you are no longer putting one foot ahead of the other, but gliding through space and time. Glorious!

@Quasi—wow! I loved that. Excellent job.

What a great morning: excellent coffee (thanks as always to Mr. Mals), sunshine, and a nice brain workout that included smiles. Thanks to EA and his collaborator.

Joe Dipinto 10:48 AM  

Mt. Sinai people attending to "Good Times" actress Esther: ROLLE DRS.

I don't think HIT HOME means what the clue says. To me it means to affect someone in a sobering or otherwise consequential way, as was intended. No heartstrings involved.

A take-it-or-leave-it Friday, imo. Nothing bad about it, but nothing especially great about it either. Rex sounds like he's trying to convince himself.

Nice job on the lyrics, Quasi.

I had a priest for theology class in high school who used to refer to any girl we were ostensibly going to date/marry in the future as "Susie". Things with Susie were never going to work out well. "You better watch out, Susie's gonna put you on the line one day." "Do you think Susie's gonna be happy living here? She's gonna want that house in the suburbs." "If you don't have a good job Susie's gonna find someone else who does." One day my classmate across the aisle wrote in his notebook margin "Susie is a shallow materialistic bitch, I want a divorce."

JC66 10:50 AM  


Just in case you're not aware, it's possible to adjust the playback speed of podcasts on most devices so you can reduce listening time and shorten to-do lists.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

what's the question about gerundive? I'm genuinely at a loss. The link you provided is simply a definition of the word. I'm familiar with it. That's why I used it. Correctly.
Is this trolling? How can I ask a sincere question, if this is in fact, trolling.

Malsdemare 10:54 AM  

@David. And tampons, don't forget TAMPONS, the greatest of 20th century inventions.

But seriously, I hate that assumption that because I have grey hair and wrinkles, I must be a Trump-supporting idiot. For God's sakes, my family would shrivel up and die without their techie wife/sister/aunt/mom. My husband asks for MY help before even thinking of calling his employer's tech support. Two days ago I had a convoluted mashup with a piece of genealogy software and was super-grateful that I could use chat support. That tech guy, who was awesome, who didn't hear a girl voice or see grey hair, didn't patronize or resort to single syllable words. We worked together and two days later, all is fixed. Thank God because that snafu was going to trash six years of work.

Time to suit up for agility class.

Rug Crazy 10:59 AM  

I had ROLADEX and EGA and was fine with both

Junief 11:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Junief 11:03 AM  

Not true of NPR, thankfully.

Dick Veit 11:04 AM  

The 2D clue was "egglike," not "egg shaped," so ovoid and ovate wouldn't work. Ovular it is.

RooMonster 11:16 AM  

Hey All !
Drinking before you go drinking? To paraphrase Dark Helmet from Spaceballs, That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! Why would you pre-drink? You don't think you'll get drunk enough at the bar? Kids these days...

Anyway, enjoyed this puz. Had a few stuck moments, but eventually figured it out. Well, almost, as I has a three-letter DNF today (which to me isn't as bad as a one-letter one.) REFERENce for REFERENDA, giving me nonsensical SAcAT for SADAT, and LUNeR for LUNAR even though I knew the spelling was off. Never hear of a mare as a Moon crater thing. I was thinking something in a barn.

My other spot was the R of OVULAR/DRS. 1) Got a chuckle out of Rex's screed about words for egg-shaped. 2) DRS was EVIL, as I was looking for a people, as Israelites, or somesuch. Tried L first, then E. Then ran the alphabet in my mind, and got to the R, and said, "Ohhh, the Hospital. Nice."

33A I had raceS first. The cup itself. Har.

LOL at @puzzlehoarder's TESTEES post. Good stuff!

Two F's

GILL I. 11:18 AM  

@Quasi. I'd invite you over for dinner anytime of the week. I like laughing - especially with a god meal....!
@Nancy. I know about the endorphins. I just always wondered why the body produces them at a crucial death stages. Is it fight or flight syndrome ? Why do we unexpectedly get this surge when we're ready to just die? I've seen videos of little old ladies practically picking up a truck to save a toddler pinned underneath the wheels. We get these surges and I'm just wondering what the brain feels. But then half of the time I walk around brain dead.

Newboy 11:20 AM  

I’m with @malsdemare on both the puzzle and the RUNNERS HIGH. There was always in mid-marathon that delusional moment of being sure you’re on a PR pace; too often that preceded the “hitting the wall” syndrome which was also real. Thanks Anne & Erik for a fine Friday for which you deserve a freshly polished EWER.

jberg 11:23 AM  

Quite a day for Erik Agard, he has the New Yorker weekend puzzle, too. I haven't solved that one yet, but this one is excellent, for all the reasons mentioned.

fM RADIO is also a big source of political talk, at least on the NPR affiliates,so might have been confusing, but I had the first A by the time I read the clue. And EURASIA is a bit large to be called a land, but then the clue does not have the article, so it fits in a deceptive way. I had the terminal A first, but fortunately both Africa (which works only if you consider the Mediterranean an ocean) and Canada (which doesn't work at all) were too short to fit.

Umm, @Rex, OVULAR doesn't actually mean "egg-shaped;" there are other ways of being egg-like than shape.

Z 11:28 AM  

@JC66 - That, literally, sounds horrid. Plus, I don’t think that would work well for All Songs Considered. As with so much else, the amount possible to know far far far outstrips my ability to learn it. I’ll stick to reading, thank you.

@Anon10:54 - New word to me. So it wasn’t a typo (my first thought), but nothing in that definition after “verbal adjective” seems to apply here. And, no, if that definition is definitive then you didn’t use it “correctly” since every source I saw indicated that it applies only to Latin grammar. But if you can explain how it applies here or share another definition, great. Heck, maybe translate that definition into something that makes sense because the whole “ expresses the notion of fitness or obligation” part was unhelpful. The question mark was exactly that, your meaning was opaque to me and I don’t see how that word applies to what the clue was doing.
Also, Wow! Relax. Sometimes a question is just a question. Just because you know what you mean doesn’t mean everyone else does.

Hartley70 11:29 AM  

Marvelous, @Quasi! I finished the puzzle so annoyed at that H instead P, and your wonderful post saved me the trouble of whining.

Taffy-Kun 11:29 AM  

Because you can assume a 3-letter word is often “the”

Pete 11:52 AM  

As the commontariates' resident recovering alcoholic, I am well aware of the concept of PREGAME, but I and all my compatriots simply called it drinking. It's been around as long as there were people with drinking issues. People do it out of economy, not wanting to be seen drinking too much, or on account of the dreaded no-alcohol-allowed situations. No matter which, if you pre-drink you probably want to take a good long look at your drinking. Most people don't need to go to extraordinary lengths to be in a situation where you can only drink "normally" for a couple of hours. I did it daily and it didn't turn out well.

Frantic Sloth 12:00 PM  

Easy-ish for a Friday, but just enough chew to simultaneously challenge me and make me feel like I know a thing or two.
Loved learning about MARE in a “duh!” kinda way...more regret about not taking Latin in high school. Boo.

@Quasi Really enjoyed your lyrics! Perhaps Burt Bacharach can use your services. :)
@Roo Maybe it’s because I’m a bitter old fart, but the whole pre-drinking thing (and the fact that it is clearly widely known and practiced) disturbed me just enough to drive me to pre-freebase.

QuasiMojo 12:04 PM  

Thanks @SirHillary, @Nancy, @MalsdeMARE, @GILL, @Z, et al. And @JoeD, your Esther Rolle quip had me LOLing. @Gill I know we'd eat well! I thought of you the other night. I ordered gazpacho at a new local hotspot and this yellowish green thing came out. It was made of cucumbers and melons. No tomatoes. I have to admit it was delicious but is it really gazpacho?

Anoa Bob 12:05 PM  

I recall reading some years ago that the only thing that had received empirical research support as an effective treatment for severe depression, be it psychological, pharmacological, or whatnot, was vigorous physical exercise (!). I was a distance runner then and had often experienced what was called RUNNERS HIGH, so I concluded that was how people with depression were being helped by their exercise.

I never thought of it as being HIGH, though. It always seemed to me to be more a feeling of complete calm and serenity, an unruffled sense that all was right in the world. (If I wanted to get HIGH, I would ask my twin Anoa Blob for a hit of his weed.)

Don't run anymore but I still depend on regular trips to the gym as my preferred method of mood enhancement. Helps keep the funk away.

Wish I knew who to credit for this: If you're in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood when you get back, go for another walk.

KPF 12:07 PM  

Ah! Makes a bit more sense now. Thanks everyone who pointed that out :)

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

My only gripe was the answer to 34D; the expression is stand pat, not sit. Otherwise a very good puzzle.

What? 12:14 PM  

Well, emojis are texted

Gio 12:19 PM  

I'm a SOT and I didn't know about the Pre-Gaming shot. I always just take a Go-Cup before I go to the bar. Then again I am not an American Football fan and I'd rather stick needles into my eyeballs that go to a TAILGATE PARTY.
I did pretty well with this. I got stuck at the crosswordesy EWERS. I was also stumped (stupidly) by SWEAR JAR. I had all but the "W". I knew that an EWER was a pitcher and is often clued as "still life subject". I looked it up and the second most common clue is "America's Cup." Those nutty boaters have an unusual pitcher as their trophy. Now I know.
I've have my NYTXW subscription about 5 weeks now. I've done 300 archived puzzles and it's getting much easier. I spent this week doing all the Thursdays from Dec. 2019 and back. Now I'm starting on a few Fridays. The farkers aren't tricking me as much as they were before. Have a good day Mini-Rexes (as some one called you a few days ago!)

oldactor 12:20 PM  

@Nancy: The Loretta Young Show had a swear jar and anyone who cursed had to put a quarter in it (this was a long time ago).
When Maureen Stapleton (who had quite a mouth) guested on the show she let one slip. When Loretta told her she had to pay up, Maureen asked "How much would it cost me to tell you to go F*** yourself.

I played the Doge of Venice in Othello. When I went to Venice I got to visit my old Palace. Quite a thrill!

jb129 12:28 PM  

Best puzzle of the week! (an AWFUL one at that).

For awhile I thought I was losing my knack.

Thank you Erik & Anne (welcome!)

Masked and Anonymous 12:38 PM  

themelessthUmbsUp. Lotsa great fillins & clues.

Sticky nanosecond points:
* Didn't know DOGE (Italian doggy?). Or at least, as many a white house lawyer would recommend, did not recall that.
* The S-folks: SUSIE. SANTOS. SADAT.
* CHEATCODE was an unknown, but pretty easy to hammer out, eventually, from its crossers.

None of the above resulted in total solvequest wipeout … just slowed m&e down long enough to donate a few IOUs to the SWEARJAR.

fave minutia of Ow de Speration: TESTEES. har. Now, there's one gorgeous hunk of word-endin letters, strategically splatzed into the bottom row.
staff weeject picks: DRS becuz of its clue. EGO becuz of its different SNL (2nd-time) use in the NYTPuz.

Thanx for gangin up on us, EA & AF. Which one of U is the big SWEARJAR fan? And congratz to Ms. Flinchbaugh darlin, on her primo debut.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


QuasiMojo 12:49 PM  

Ah, thank you too @Hartley! and @Frantic Sloth (great byline!) -- I feel I should add that I really did enjoy the puzzle overall. Best one this week in my opinion.

Jeff 12:52 PM  

Finished the puzzle just fine but not seeing how "Lean on them" gets to CANES. Can someone "explain like I'm five"?

sharonm 12:57 PM  

I must be slow on the uptake, but, somebody please help!

I do the NYT puzzle daily, and usually come to this website when I'm stumped. I enjoy Rex's commentary, and really enjoy the followers' comments.

However, getting here is confusing. Since the puzzles are done by Rex six weeks prior to publication, I have to go back in the archives to find them. That means I have to Google a clue to find its publication date before I can find the puzzle on this page.

Is there an easier way to do this? And how are the rest of you seeing today's puzzle already?

Any light you can shed would be much appreciated.

tim 12:58 PM  

1.) I'm also a professor and acknowledge it as a fact of life that young people like to be drunk. They also have very little money, and going to bars or buying beers at stadiums is expensive, so pregaming is partly an economy measure, not necessarily a symptom of alcoholism.

2.) There's a whole argument in "The Trial" (at least Orson Welles's version, not sure about the novel) about whether "ovular" is a word. Josef K. scoffs at it, but of course he would say that, being a criminal and an enemy of the state.

TJS 1:02 PM  

With Rex all the way again, My God I think it's three days in a row ! He must be on some kind of a high. Or is it me ? Anyway, a great start to another beautiful day in the D.R. Hope y'all enjoy your weekend. Now to pregame...

Chip Hilton 1:09 PM  

@oldactor- What I’d pay to see Loretta’s expression!
I wasn’t sure on the ROLODEX/EGO crossing and guessed incorrectly, going with A. Oh, well.
Lovely puzzle with a beautiful flow. Some great clues, notably the one involving a mare.
Like Rex, I never heard of the alternate for PREGAME.
Thanks, Erik and Anne. A delight!

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

@Jeff - If you have a bad leg, you might lean on a cane to help you walk. Later in the week, clues are changed from "something you can [verb]" to "[verb] them".

Gio 1:19 PM  

@Jeff a walking cane. People who use a cane lean on them.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

Gerundive is a verb in adjectival form. As in the case of texted in today's puzzle.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

"Noted feature of Spanish pronunciation "

really should be effeminate lisp, just because it is. to red blooded Americans. couldn't make it fit. and, more to the point, a rolled R is a 'feature' of most European languages, while the lisp is pure Castilian.

Gio 1:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
pabloinnh 2:01 PM  

@Anonymous 1:38

If you think using a "th" sound in a language is a lisp, how do you say "three" or "thirty" or any other unvoiced "th" word in English? With a lisp? Part of the language, and indispensable when it comes to spelling, as it eliminates confusion--za, ce, ci, zo, zu get a th sound. Takes some getting used to, but worth it.

okanaganer 2:10 PM  

@Sharonm: try the Syndicated Puzzle link at the top. (for other papers that carry the Times crossword)

Like Anonymous @ 9:44 AM I really don't like the clue for LUNAR CRATER. It says "a mare might be found in one" which is technically true according to Wikipedia, but only for a few of the tiniest ones on the far side of the moon. But that was pretty much the only thing I didn't like in this puzzle!

old timer 2:17 PM  

A perfect Friday puzzle: Acres of white space, only a handful of easy entries, tricky cluing, and even when I did most of the puzzle I was stuck in the NE, a sure DNF, until all of a sudden I figured out it was SIDEBET not SIDEpot. Used to play Lowball for pretty big pots, back in the day. SIDEpots were pretty common.

Yeah PREGAME drinking is a common way for young folks to get high before clubbing. You want to nurse those $15 margaritas or whatever, which is hard to do if you always think you need a drink. TAKE A DESIGNATED DRIVER, kids. The guy who is usually a party pooper. And even if you are just going beer tasting -- very popular in Sonoma County -- you probably will find yourself literally tasting. Out of 20 handCRAFTED beers, there may be only one you would want to drink by the pint. And when I was in school, alcohol was not sold at all at the stadium. The frat boys would PREGAME in their houses, and the alumni would overindulge at their tailgates, and in some cases still be drinking through the first half, and listening on the radio.

albatross shell 2:19 PM  

Kudos for Quasi. Loved it. Just do not agree. I mean even without Z's definition 6, the phrase "hopes and prayers" are with you strikes me as at least somewhat redundant.
O Lord my please hear my prayers and help my brother who is in such pain. O Lord hear my hopes and help my bother who is in such pain. Close enough for crosswords?
Maybe an atheist's hopes are prayers and a believer's prayers are hopes. Or maybe the other way around?

Crosswords are corrupting me. Noticed a few weeks ago that name on SNL and thought EGO, I should remember that for crosswords. Took a minute and one vowel before the penny dropped.

Hands up for Easter egg.

Hands up for thinking bible until the DRS were in. Then I read darlin K the clue. "Something to do withh hospitals, I guess."

Got PREGAME without knowing more than Rex.
Got LUNARCRATER and then guessed why.
Got SADAT without knowing why til reading posts here.

Knew a harp player in NOLA with the name BADMOUTH which he earned by practicing his oral abilities on the women there.

Gave a fisheye to SIT PAT. I know poker players are usually sitting but... Better clue: Nixon quote?

What is a past-tense verb that jumped at a parts-change operation?

A gerundive.

Thanks for taking my post (late yestrerday) in the same spirit in which it was intended.

Paul Harrington 2:20 PM  

Word of the day was 'mare'

Z 2:21 PM  

@sharonm - I presume you are solving in a local paper. If you are using a computer, at the very top of the blog are five links. Click on the “Syndicated Puzzle” Link and that will take you to the correct blog most days (Rex and substitute bloggers have been known to forget to update that link). Alternatively, on the right side of the blog is a “Blog Archive.” Just find the puzzle there from five weeks before (or one week before on Sundays). If you are using a device that gives you the mobile version of the blog (a smart phone and some tablets), scroll all the way to the bottom and click on “web version.” Then follow the instructions above.

If this is really confusing, feel free to click on the blue Z, where you will find a link to my email, and I can send you some screen shots to make it clearer.

@Anon1:25 - That makes sense. Everything I saw said “Latin grammar,” has it migrated into English grammar? Also, liked your description because “verbal adjective” is a recipe for confusion.

DevoutAtheist 2:42 PM  

I see little, if any, overlap between HOPE and Prayer. Prayer is asking a made up supernatural entity to do or provide something that you want. HOPE is a wish or desire for a certain outcome. It is a human emotion.

QuasiMojo 2:49 PM  

Thank you @Albatross. I am familiar with the phrase "hopes and prayers" too. But that doesn't make them synonyms. "Pride and joy" aren't either. And while I understand they might be interchangeable, in terms of sending condolences, it still felt odd to my ears as clued. And @Z, I looked at that "sixth" definition you linked. That context seems to be to be specific to the singular "prayer." You wouldn't say that groups of people stranded on a mountain "don't have prayers" of making it out alive. To all of you Rolling your eyes now instead of your R's. Yes this is a lot of verbiage over one silly clue. I hopes to leave it there for now, on my end :)

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Castilian lisp:

it's real.

Monty Boy 3:00 PM  

Like most posts, I like this one a lot.

Per Anon 12:10: For 34D Not take any action, I had SITout. When I saw SITPAT I had the same take. It's stand pat. I liked my (wrong) answer better. Took a while to sort that out.

Other thoughts: I learned what the second word in the Indian structure means. Us 75+ can spell ROLODEX.

Monty Boy 3:05 PM  

One more: On the cryptograms, if you see two identical three letter words, they are usually THE or YOU. For instance: you know when you are in trouble. It's usually easy to distinguish by the frequency of the E and the U.

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Devout Atheist,
If you're going to be demeaning at least be accurate. There are plenty of prayers that aren't petitions. Prayers of thanks and praise spring to mind.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

Devout atheist,
Forgot your other error. Hope is not an emotion.
I will pray for you in the hope that you turn to the light of God's love someday. And get a better fix on psychological terms.

JC66 3:17 PM  


Loved your first post and agree with you last argument.

CDilly52 3:48 PM  

@Gary and @Rex: I agree with the current vernacular context for “Pregaming,” but one does not necessarily abuse alcohol by participating in a pregame event with a shot. To me having a shot doesn’t mean “doing shooters,” but it simply means imbibing the amount of any alcoholic beverage served in that particular amount. I often will order just one shot of a top shelf scotch, with a short water back because bar tenders so infrequently mix the right amount of water (for me), and I can’t afford more than a shot of my faves! There’s my counter mini-rant to @Rex’s hair trigger “I’m offended” switch, which in my opinion needs some adjustment. And I have worked way, way, WAAAYYY too many hours in the last 11 days and I admit I am one tired and cranky old lady! It’s almost the weekend, with ORD!!

CDilly52 3:50 PM  

@Anon 6:22. ROFL! I’m a lawyer working almost exclusively with excessively competitive men. There isn’t a jar large enough!

CDilly52 3:51 PM  

Nicely said @E R Murrow

Z 3:57 PM  

@Quasi - The Donners didn’t have a prayer so they had each other.

Okay, on that note I will show myself the door.

sb 4:00 PM  

When I was a college student in Denmark, my Danish parents called drinking before going out by another word: drunking!

CDilly52 4:06 PM  

Clever, smooth, smart, crafts person like, artistic! I got Mt. Sinai immediately but stuttered. I had just finished reading an article about some clinical trials there and put in DRS without stopping at all. Was several clues farther along and my brain sent up a danger alert 🚨!! 🛑!! Think 🤔!! So I burned some time trying to figure out what else could fit because after all I had seen Agard’s byline. Oh, but wait DRS is the answer the constructor’s wanted us Not to see!!

LUNAR CRATER was the one that fooled me for a while. Overall though I was well under my Friday average. Odd though because even though Mr. A is one of my all time favorite constructor’s, he occupies that spot because of this clever wordplay and tough clues!! Congrats to his partner Ms. Flinchbaugh. A “legit” Friday and a very enjoyable trip!

RooMonster 4:42 PM  

My God, that was horrible! 😂
It left a bad taste in my mouth.

RooMonster Drive By Jokester Guy

Richardf8 5:18 PM  

Any puzzle that gets OVULAR and TESTEES into the same grid seems like pretty fertile ground.

Jeff 6:20 PM  

Lol. Thanks. Why couldn't I see that?

jae 6:37 PM  

Easy-medium. Yes, a fine Friday offering, liked it a bunch.

@Anoa - excellent scientifically backed advice about exercise and mood. I’ve found that taking a puzzle with me on a walk further helps my mood.

kitshef 8:21 PM  

By the way, there is nothing in the bible about the magi riding camels. Nor about how many there were or their names.

TAB2TAB 9:08 AM  

I must use a different part of my brain in solving crosswords, because I found Thursday's puzzle easy with lots of "aha" fun moments, whereas this Friday puzzle was just not in my wheelhouse. Went through the whole puzzle not getting traction anywhere until LATINA, AGENCY, DIRGES fell in the SE, then got ADVANCE and REPLAYS. Then I went back to "Recipient of a lot of #@&! money" with ------AR and instantly, confidently put in PORNSTAR. Confirmed it with tOSHING and that started me on the downward spiral. Never heard of a SWEARJAR. Never heard of 'mare' in the context of LUNARCRATER. Had to come here to get back on track. In retrospect, I see tons of great clues and answers, but this puzzle was just meant to happen for me.

pdplot 9:28 AM  

Best puzzle in a long time. I have some great ideas for puzzles but I've never been able to construct an entire one. I know how hard it is. Try it sometime. And especially hard of it has to have symmetry.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Quasimojo 12:04 PM : Gazpacho in Spain mandates only the emulsion of stale crumbs and oil, with some sort of watery fruit; All else is negotiable. There’s a magnificent almond and garlic white gazpacho, and an amazing orange melon and too-much garlic version.

I too was irritated by not being able to fit a broad mare into a little lunar crater, and it took me a long time to soothe (NOT sooth) my outrage and be able to breathe (NOT breath) evenly after discovering that smooths was verbed (or simply misspelld) to mean IRONS (that could have been clued as manacles or mashies or even farriers’ tools or something used in branding.)


Anonymous 7:48 PM  

MILLIONS of Americans would disagree, including me.

Burma Shave 10:37 AM  


IT’LL be JOSHING TEXTED ‘twixt besties:
but there’s a SIDEBET you’ve no TESTEES.”


rondo 11:38 AM  

Can’t believe *nobody* commented on the clue for 44d:
[“Let me know if you’re coming.”]
I sure didn’t think of RSVP first.
Other than pausing there, I had AGENts before AGENCY, kinda tore through the rest.

Everybody’s favorite liberal LATINA, AOC for yeah baby today.

Hard to BADMOUTH this puz.

spacecraft 1:00 PM  

Typical Friday: lots of open space, "jaws of themelessness," and one big "Huh??" upon first read-through. But I buckled down, noticed that 2-down probably began with OV-, which fit with EVASIVE, and actually polished off the NW first. New is good.

Here we have, once again, SITPAT. STAND UP, you couch potatoes! It's STAND PAT!! Nobody says SITPAT--except, time and time again, in crosswords! And I'll stand pat on that score.

What a novel clue for EGO! I don't watch the show, but her photo posted here is enough to earn the DOD. Alex, You get honorable mention, but @rondo already has you covered.

This, aside from 34d--which is a pet peeve and not worth a downgrade--was fun to do, and not as hard as it first looked. But hard enough. Eagle.

rondo 3:23 PM  

BTW, a handier word to look for and find in your typical cryptogram, at least THE kind you find in THE paper, is 'that'. THE T will be confirmed.

leftcoaster 4:28 PM  

CRAFTY work by Erik and Anne, including unknowns with helpful crosses, some good wordplay, and a couple of lucky guesses.

SWEARJAR and CHEATCODE were new ones. And "mare" in a LUNARCRATER? Hmm...will have to look further into that one. TESTEES has a certain biological ring to it.

Wanted ROLLTOP before ROLODEX. Both may be "obsolescent", but I have and still use the latter from time to time.

Liked ROLLEDRS and RUNNERSHIGH, which helped move the solve-quest along after a slow start.

Fun to do, with a couple of look-ups, I must add.

Diana, LIW 7:18 PM  

I'm still here.

Lady Di

wcutler 10:53 PM  

@sharonm 12:57 PM asking how to find the syndi puzzle.

Z gave you most of the ways. In my paper, there is a puzzle number, for instance, todays says NO. 0221. That's the date, February 21. So you can look in the archives for the puzzle for that date.

Just to be confusing, the weekend puzzle used to be one week behind, but now it seems that the number representing the date is a week out of sync, so the puzzle is the from the week before the number. How do they even do that?

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

"In the morning when I wake up, before I put on my makeup I say a little hope for you".........huh ? And a lot of strange answers and clues. Some good, some not so good. Like testees ?? Not a word... and spell check agrees, though many of course like the titillation factor. This is a Crossword, not a Cross-jumble. But very nice to see Thomas Paine in there to counter AOC. I'd give EA a C+ for this one, unlike ofl who always gives him an A.

I still have my Rolodex and use it for backup when the computer or power or both go out. Or for those contacts you just never get around to transferring to your phone, or tablet.

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