Jazz great who took his name from Egyptian mythology / FRI 3-27-20 / Playwright of midwest / Deck hall octet / Supersmall futuristic medical device / Device found between gutters / Four-wheeled transports that developed out of surf culture

Friday, March 27, 2020

Constructor: Kyle Dolan

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (clock gave a Medium time, but I was not trying to speed at all)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: RAOUL Wallenberg (28A: Humanitarian Wallenberg)
Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg (4 August 1912 – disappeared 17 January 1945) was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat, and humanitarian. He is remembered for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists during the later stages of World War II. While serving as Sweden's special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory.
On 17 January 1945, during the Siege of Budapest by the Red Army, Wallenberg was detained by SMERSH on suspicion of espionage and subsequently disappeared. He was later reported to have died on 17 July 1947 while imprisoned by the KGB secret police in the Lubyanka, the KGB headquarters and affiliated prison in Moscow. The motives behind Wallenberg's arrest and imprisonment by the Soviet government, along with questions surrounding the circumstances of his death and his ties to US intelligence, remain mysterious and are the subject of continued speculation. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's nothing wrong with this, but I found it dull. Like, if you want to paint the room ecru, that is a perfectly acceptable choice, probably, but it's probably not gonna wow me. There are a couple answers here that let you know it's the 21st century (NANOBOT, POP-UP STORE), but mostly this is full of ordinary stuff. Right over the plate. SHEET GLASS. Yes, that is a thing. The longer answers are where themeless puzzles should really shine, and ... yeah, today, I wouldn't say shine. There's more of a matte finish on this one. Again, there is nothing objectively wrong with it (though CANEM ALLA and SEUL are lowish points, and I feel like there's been some INGE creep of late that I would like to beat back). It just felt like something one fills out dutifully before getting on with one's life. Something to check off your list of daily activities. No oohs or aahs or "nice one!"s. Just stuff like ACTION ITEM, which ... if you could see my stare right now, I assure you it is glassy.

Are mermaids technically "NUDES"? (36A: Statues of mermaids, typically). This now seems an important ontological question (note: I only half-know what "ontological" means). Mermaids aren't ... human. Not below the waist, anyway. So does the mere fact of a bare breast make a statue a "nude"? It's OK if the answer's "yes," but it doesn't seem like that answer is a given. Also, "typically"? What is the "typical" mermaid statue? Is there data on this? All's I know is there are plenty of mermaids who seem to have access to some kind of bikini shop, or who know how to craft bras out of shells. Maybe there's something about the medium of statuary that makes the artist more prone to leave mermaid breasts uncovered; as I say, I don't know. I don't have the data. But this clue seems to know. It seems to know a lot. About mermaids. About statues. About what the definition of "nude" is. I'm asking for a footnote, is all. Let us in on your vast mermaid statue research!

Five things:
  • 13A: Seller of Halloween costumes, perhaps (POP-UP STORE) — I wrote in PARTY STORE. I think of POP-UP STOREs as ... well, the ones I've been to have been food-related. And smaller than the ginormous seasonal stores I see around town. I also had trouble with this answer because of having SNITS for SNIPS (1A: Saucy ones) and then TIP for PUP (4D: Little pointer). 
  • 6D: When "S.N.L." ends on the East Coast (AT ONE) — I will never understand cluing an perfectly good English word in way that turns it into a dumb phrase. ATONE > AT space ONE every single day of the week. 
  • 24D: Transportation option in Philadelphia and Seattle (TROLLEY BUS) — I have ridden a trolley. I have ridden a bus. I have never ridden a TROLLEY BUS. Not sure I even know what one is. Runs like a trolley, shaped like a bus? (ah, they're the buses that "draw power from dual overhead wires" per wikipedia. Gotcha). Anyway, I needed a few crosses to get this one.
  • 32D: Aqua ___ (PURA) — oof, left this off the "bad" list. What is this, even? [looks it up] "pure water"!? Well I know it means that. But surely it has some specialty meaning. If you mean "pure water" just say "pure water." Who is saying this in Latin??? Here is the least helpful dictionary note in history (thanks, Collins!):
  • 49A: Device found between gutters (BALL RETURN) — had the BALL and then no idea. Wrote in ROLLER, which ... you know, is the right idea, as the BALL RETURN does, in fact, "roll" the ball back to you. Sigh. Oh, since I'm down in the SE corner, I'm noticing that I had one other misstep in this puzzle: EGOS for EROS (46D: Freudian concept). 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:12 AM  

Well, I confidently entered “snots” at 1A, and that mucked things up there for a while. Other wrong thoughts: “sable pelt” for CAMEL HAIR and “nonet” for NUDES. (Rex – enjoyed your mental mermaid meandering.) There is so so much I don’t know about fancy stuff that I was vaguely thinking some mythological goddesses might be mermaids, and they always bum around in groups of nine. I swear.

So of course I didn’t know SUN RA, as a mythological god or as a jazz great. Jazz confounds me. The IT guy at our school is one tough cookie, and I’m shameless in my attempts to court his favor. I’ve brought him cookies, several Frito pie lunches. . . whatever it takes for him to move my work order from the bottom of his to-do list and make it an ACTION ITEM. Right before our shut down, I walked into the room where he was working and over the jazz he had playing, I said, acting delighted, Is that Stan Getz? No, it wasn’t, but I think I made another inroad by cleverly tricking him into thinking we share a love of jazz.

BMW – Bread Meal Water. Left to right in that order. Little trick to remember your bread plate is the one to the left. If you forget and commandeer someone else’s bread plate, pray that you’re not seated near any public grammar shamers, who I’m certain moonlight as public table manner shamers.

PROM NIGHT. Sigh. Graduation. Sigh. Senior trip. Sigh. My nephew is a senior, and I feel so bad for him right now.

AT ONE. ATONE. Hah. Let’s watch Joey Fatone atone at one!

I didn’t know ACTION ITEM. Isn’t any item on a to-do list an ACTION ITEM? I’m not really a to-do list person, and when I do decide to make one, I put stuff on there that makes me feel productive. Make coffee – check. Put on socks – check. Tie shoes – check.

BATE. Hmm. I’ve looked into this verb. It’s transitive and means to lessen the force and intensity of. So if I’m waiting with bated breath, I’m effectively lessening the force and intensity of my breath. I guess this is a sniper skill, right? They bate their breath in the moments before taking the shot? We can hence say that snipers are master hiders, master aimers, and, as regards their breath, master… well, you do the math.

Kyle – loved THREAD and BIRDSONG and their clues. I also liked BIRD right over CAGE. And the clue for PUP was excellent!

Speaking of CAGE, I’m not sure the hamster is in one, but this is worth a look. It’s like 6 seconds.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

I have not done the daily puzzles but recently have been reading the blog and comments, for the company. Interesting comments about mermaids, and here's Wikipedia's take on the statues (and if you look these up, yes they are typically nude):

Sculptures and statues of mermaids can be found in many countries and cultures, with over 130 public art mermaid statues across the world. Countries with public art mermaid sculptures include Russia, Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Denmark, Norway, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, India, China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Guam, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), the United States (including Hawaii and Virgin Islands) and Canada.[99] Some of these mermaid statues have become icons of their city or country, and have become major tourist attractions in themselves. The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is an icon of that city as well as of Denmark. The Havis Amanda statue symbolizes the rebirth of the city of Helsinki, capital of Finland. The Syrenka (mermaid) is part of the Coat of Arms of Warsaw, and is considered a protector of Warsaw, capital of Poland, which publicly displays statues of their mermaid.

I love jazz, but understand why folks can be puzzled by it. I heard somewhere that the harpsichord solo/cadenza in the first movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #5 - my favorite - was the first keyboard riff.


Lewis 7:08 AM  

This puzzle had many answers I simply rarely think about, and a few I've never heard of, making it very interesting. One tack in a weekend puzzle is to fill it with the familiar and clue it obliquely, and it's an excellent tack. Another, like today's, is to throw in the rarely-though-about and clue it directly -- also excellent. Both tacks require that delicious effort that cruciverbians love. This puzzle had a mix of both, with an accent on the latter, and even with no big standout entries, it showed that a puzzle doesn't need to have glitter to shine. Your puzzle, Kyle, was most enjoyable, and thank you.

One highlight for me was [Need to play, say], for ANTE. This is a word that has appeared in Times crosswords more than a thousand times, making original clues for it hard hard hard to come by. But this one is brand new. That is a constructor coup, IMO.

I wanted TIP for [Small pointer], and I'm guessing I'm not alone.

JULEP reminded me of the Kentucky Derby, which takes place the first Saturday in May. What are the odds that it will?

mooretep 7:09 AM  

Loren, You always make my day. I usually ctrl-F "loren" on the comments.

Liked the puzzle, but I like all puzzles whether they meet OFL's standards or not.

I Hope To God I and my students can continue to engage on Zoom since we haven't shared the same space for two weeks.

As a fellow teacher, I seem to have more Action Items than usual as I try to create virtual lessons that replicate what we usually do in class with more immediate discourse.
Raise hand, chat your answers, show me your pets, that is an inappropriate background, I will edit that out of the recorded video.

Our IT department and school district have been Special. Talking to other teachers in other communities, we are above average.
Like you, I try to remain close to our IT staff.

One concern I have is that if they consider this method of delivering content to be successful, then "snow days" will melt away from an unexpected day off to a day filled with remote instruction.

I teach mostly seniors, so they are a little disappointed that the prom and graduation may not be a thing this year.
I wonder what the yearbook will look like.

Lastly, Sun Ra is a musician that I saw many times in the 1980's. Changed my perspective on what music can do.
He said he was born on Saturn, which, as a science teacher, I knew was not possible.
However, after seeing his band perform live, I questioned that presumption.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Took a few wrong turns - Rex's PartySTORE, duNe buggyS, TROLLEYcar, and Ajax before ARES which I’m guessing was a very common slip. But the journey was completely worth it.

The more I look at this, the more I admire it. It has a strong internal voice, rather than feeling like a product of the NYTX Crossword Machine. The things that were new to me like LONGBOARDS and CANEM were either inferrable or well crossed.

Roberto 7:34 AM  

I loved the o e d clue
Set is the word with the most pages in the printed version.

RavTom 7:42 AM  

@LMS: I think of BATED breath as being the opposite sensation. To me, it connotes being so nervous that you can barely breathe, just making shallow gasps of air.

Any puzzle where you can learn that both Philadelphia and Seattle have TROLLEY BUSes is a good puzzle. We have them in Boston too, btw.

pabloinnh 7:44 AM  

SOHO or NOHO? TIP of PUP? TROLLEYCAR orTROLLEYBUS ?FAS or LAS? AQUA PURA or TERRA FIRMA? OK, scratch that last one. Finished (finally) in the NW, as I have never seen a POPUP Halloween store. In fact, POPUP anything stores are virtually nonexistent around here, and I don't expect to see one any time soon.

Is a LONGBOARD a "four wheeled transport"? I mean, technically, yes, but found that one more than a little misleading. Also, anyone who is or was a bowler knows what a BALLRETURN is. Former bowlers would include myself, as I go all the way back to pinboys.

I liked the challenge of this one, it was a little like trying to drive on our back roads in mud season around here, which is just coming to a close. It can be done, but you have to be careful. Thanks for a nice Friday, KD. Well done you.

QuasiMojo 7:51 AM  

Well the manatees where I live are nude, although I see very few statues for them.

For what it's worth, let me just say that I have always found mermaids to be grotesque. I walked out of Splash and never saw the crossword-friendly toon flick with Ariel. Something about scales and fins and flopping around in death SPASMS (my first answer for "great shakes") turns me off. Plus I have to immediately rinse and dispense with a can of tuna after opening it due to the incessant odor. I like my fish dried Likey do in Iceland.

@Lewis, the Derby as I'm sure countless commenters will tell you before me has been postponed to September.

I enjoyed this puzzle ("Camel Hair" made me think of Vicuña and "Sunset Boulevard") but can someone friendly and kind please tell this old boomer what "Action Item" means?? I added ten minutes to my time trying to fill in that corner.

Just a shout out to y'all for keeping this semi shut-in amused this past week!! Many thanks!

Jofried 8:02 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, though it was over very quickly for a Friday. I also enjoyed reading comments from @LMS and @mooretep about the need to cozy up to the IT guy at school—I feel the same way! We were given about zero notice before we closed and at an emergency faculty meeting at the end of our last day the IT folks announced that we were to use Google Meet and not Zoom if we wanted to have live classes. I’d already spent a week learning about Zoom so I was sneaking around using Zoom anyway. Yesterday in our virtual faculty meeting we were told that we can, in fact, use Zoom. Phew! Anyway I read this blog every day but almost never comment. Still I feel like I “know” you regulars even if you don’t know me...so keep posting, I enjoy reading your comments!

Hungry Mother 8:06 AM  

A little sloggy and my French was a little rusty, but I got er done and enjoyed the solve. Some fun cluing.

Suzie Q 8:08 AM  

I had some fun with this and enjoyed some of the clever clues that helped remind me what day of the week this is.
Mileage today not soakage.
The pop up stores I've seen the most are selling fireworks.
I don't understand long boards as clued.
I've seen the famous mermaid statue. It's just a tiny thing easily obscured by just a few tourists.
Rex is right about that "least helpful dictionary note".
This was not a particularly memorable puzzle but it kept me busy over my coffee. Thanks Kyle.

puzzlehoarder 8:08 AM  

Have you ever heard the term "saucy SNIP?" Saucy TART has far greater currency. Who wouldn't think "Little pointer" was a TIP. I've been dealing with Shortzs' clues for over 27 years you'd think by now I wouldn't fall for these stupid tricks but I just keep on doing it. As that corner finally fell I actually wrote in SNITS before I figured out PUP.

The rest of the puzzle was easy by comparison. That "comparitive easiness would still have been a rather tough Friday on its own.

To me LONGBOARDS are just those big plank like things that surfing started on. I've never heard the term ACTION ITEM and while SHEETGLASS was not as hard to smoke out as those first two it's worth noting that all three entries are debuts. Combine that with the cleverness of the THREAD/BIRDSONG row and you have an excellent start to your solve.

If tomorrow's puzzle is proportionate in difficulty to today's solve I'll be up solving very late.

JC66 8:11 AM  

Here's the Queen Coronavirus spoof I posted last night too late for most to see.

Bernie 8:25 AM  

Unless the mermaid is wearing some wild fish pants, I would say she is nude.

Felt like an easy Friday, which is what I needed this morning.

Newf 8:34 AM  

A poor and halting performance on my part for which I am grateful as it diverted my attention longer from the Corona-news. SHEET is pronounced with two syllables in this part of the South and aptly describes my feelings about 12-Down.

RAD2626 8:37 AM  

Fun, well-clued Friday puzzle with lots of interesting entries. Tons of Halloween POP UP STORES in NY area each year, many of which then become Christmas shops. Did not know LONGBOARDS or NANOBOTS but crosses were fair. PROM NIGHT favorite clue.

@lms. Do not want to ask how you stumbled on hamster clip. There is a very cute Instagram site Animalsdoingthings with very cool animal stunts and reactions. So much more pleasant than Subway Creatures. As a jazz fan, you would score points as long as there was a saxophone playing. A piano trio? Delisted.

@JC66. Thanks for the clip. So clever. Several parodies out there. All nice diversions.

Everyone please have a peaceful, and safe, weekend.

CDilly52 8:41 AM  

I like your analysis, @Lewis. I share your opinion but couldn’t have explained it nearly as well!

Z 8:42 AM  

“Every time I phone you I just want to put you down.” Man - nobody writes a good “f-you” line better than Elvis Costello.

Wrestled this thing to the ground and arose triumphant, but it was a challenge. Too many writeovers to recount, even after flying through the NE like it was Monday or Tuesday. TROLLy carS and expense LOG were the big ones, but lots of little ones as well. I guess I see Rex’s point that the answers aren’t especially awe inducing, but I thought the cluing made this a fun solve. Well, except the RAOUL clue. That has an “anyone besides Dahl?” feel to it. RAOUL Wallenberg may have been a WWII hero, but we tend to remember generals and presidents and their ilk far more than the people doing the actual fighting. Glad to see Rex made him the WotD.

I did not try nonet, but I’m with @LMS and Rex and their mermaid musings. I was more functional, bronze? marble? is there something specific about the materials used for mermaid statues? Or maybe they are specific to some region, nordic maybe? And then I had that same quizzical arched eyebrow as Rex at the notion that a couple of nipples makes a statue a NUDE. David is NUDE. I’m not so sure The Little Mermaid is.

Speaking of Elvis Costello, “you sit with your knees together, all the time your breath was BATED.”

Z 8:49 AM  

@LMS - I had a roommate in college with the last name “Bates.” He hated that joke. Which, of course, never stopped us from making it.

Speedweeder 8:51 AM  

Longboards are large skateboards, designed for smoother, longer rides rather than for doing tricks. I'm sure this will have been explained many times over by the time this post appears.

In my experience with corporate meetings, action items comprised a list of follow-up assignments developed during the meeting. For me, a productive meeting was one where I left without being assigned an action item.

It took me longer to do the little NW corner than did the entire remainder of the puzzle. Finally thought of PUP, which led me to POPUP and the rest. I usually like a challenging puzzle, but not one where all the difficulty is concentrated in one section.

TJS 9:04 AM  

Liked this one quite a bit. Started off with nothing in the North West, got only alpo and OED in the NC, then just kept reading clues until Lumet and paths gave me something to work with, jumped on camel hair couse I was thinking "canny" before cagey, and hit my stride in the South East. An excellant Friday IMO. "Aqua Pura" is pretty common crosswordese, no?

Raoul Wallenbergs' demise was a sad note. On the other hand, it is always good to be reminded of Mr. Putins' alma mater.

TJS 9:06 AM  

Forgot to add, @Loren, loved your comment, as always.

TinPT 9:20 AM  

Also had EGOS, TIP and SNIT, the latter two actually working with the clues and crosses, and thereby causing a nearly impossible to find error. Word Play’s mention of the doggy answers PUP and CANEM straightened me out. ”PUP? I don’t remember PUP... where the hell is... ohhhhhh...”

TinPT 9:22 AM  

Also, didn’t someone just weirdly mention SUN RA yesterday with the Mercury puz? What a coinkydink!

CDilly52 9:25 AM  

All you teachers out there, I admire and revere your efforts to continue to engage with your students and keep learning vibrant and fun. I made a donation to my local public schools’ foundations last week. Even though it is a drop in the bucket for the systems in the very rural areas in the three counties in my work jurisdiction, I am hopeful that others may follow suit. Since my financial largess is very limited, I am trying to write to all of the papers and the PTAs, and School Boards.

Distance learning is a magnificent tool when designed to be delivered electronically and well funded. My daughter in California works in a wonderfully funded and superbly supportive district in Santa Rosa, but even there, where each child has a Chrome book and all instruction is well-designed to be delivered electronically, switching from the classroom to distance learning is a challenge. The students, for example, do not have the chargers necessary because each classroom has a docking station. And for this well funded district, acquiring and paying for those is possible. By Monday next, Rincon Valley will be up and running. Unless some of the students’ families lack internet service.

Here in “Joke-lahoma,” in my three county area that is primarily rural and at the south end desperately poor with each small community struggling with poverty and addiction, distance learning will be impossible for a majority of students. No take-home computers, no internet outside public buildings or cafes and all of those are closed. Even if everyone had connectivity and equipment, the instruction itself is not designed to be delivered on line. Even if everyone had internet connectivity, by the time the schools receive grant or other funding to purchase computers the school year will be over.

The situation all over America is heartbreaking. I’ve decided to try to focus my meager resources on education because when this is over, and after a couple decades have passed, the students whose needs we were not prepared to meet will be our leaders. I hope we do not leave them ill prepared to lead. Please support our teachers and schools in any way you can. Each student, every single one is a unique and irreplaceable natural resource. None of them asked to be born and in our dotage, each of us will rely upon their leadership to continue to secure for us the blessings of Liberty for us. Accordingly, I believe that all of our children deserve our collective support-always, but particularly now.

OK, that’s what is really on my mind. For me, exactly what @Lewis said about the puzzle. Spot on. My only added comments are that BALL RETURN made me laugh - all the way out loud and that is another story for another day, but it is in fact a “thing,” and the correct an often used term by bowlers everywhere. Other than that, the SW almost caused me a DNF. I was waiting on the wrong corner, I guess. Missed the TROLLEY BUS!

Hopefully, we will learn from our mistakes. Peace out.

OffTheGrid 9:27 AM  

I liked the dog "theme". PUP, ALPO, CANEM, and of course PUPs come from LITTERING. Also, just for me, ANDY, my little poodle's name.

I rode a TROLLEYBUS once in Toronto.


Glad to see only 2 "?" today. (both unnecessary, though)

albatross shell 9:30 AM  

I lived in Philly for a spell. Rode the Morris-Tasker trolley to a 3rd grade teaching job. Car, no. Bus, yes, but not really called that in everyday speech in my memory.

Rex, I feel, is correct that the answers do not have a ton of sparkle. The sparkle is in the clue-answer dance. I agree with those who see something solid in this puzzle that is quite appealing. All that's good does not sparkle.

In a Todo list, one usually puts the jobs you are going to act on first. The first couple are ones you are really going to do, that is take action on. The misdirect is the clue makes you think the answer are going to be the most common items you would find on such a list: cut grass, grocery shopping etc.
I seldom make todo list. If you can't remember it, it ain't worth your time.
My favorite todo list in someone else's house started with take kids to school, groceries, and ended with pave driveway, build garage. The list I had on my fridge was Wake-up, cross wake-up off todo list.

Pop-up Halloween stores show up in many malls around here. And what mall doesn't have empty space for them?

Wm. C. 9:30 AM  

@PabloinNH7:44 --

Tnx for explaining the Bowling context for BallReturn (49A "Device found between the gutters"). I filled it in after most of the crosses were in, but had no idea what the reference was. It's been a long time since I've been at a bowling alley, and I think most of their have died out.

@Z8:49 -- Re: Last name "Bates." On Bonita Beach Road in Naples FL, there's a shop backing up to an inland bay with a big sign on the roadway advertising itself as "Master Bait and Tackle." Owner obviously has an unusual sense of humor. Hungry Mother, have you seen this?

Nancy 9:46 AM  

I wanted TIP for small pointer, too, @Lewis. When PUP came in, I wondered why for a minute. Very clever clue. Also nice clues for POP UP STORE and LITTERED.

My thoughts on 9D? That's overkill, OED! That's just plain ridiculous. I'll stick to my Webster's New Collegiate, thank you very much.

The THREAD/BIRDSONG dual answers to "series of tweets" made me smile. While many people in the world may have been tweeting yesterday, I was out in Central Park listening to BIRDSONG. They've just started singing. Joyously. For them the misery and terror the world is suffering through right now doesn't exist. The THREAD/BIRDSONG dichotomy reminds me of one of the great questions that some wit asked not all that long ago:

Would you rather be in cyberspace or would you rather be in Tuscany?

Tough, enjoyable puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 9:52 AM  

@LMS Have you seen this version of that video? You might enjoy it.
The sniper adjective progression reminded me of another SNL classic where Buck Henry compliments Samurai Baker and his mastery. And, as usual, everything you write helps start my day with a healthy dose of giddiness -- thank you!

@Wm. C Enjoyed your sign snippet.

I agree with @Lewis on this puzzle - and looks like I'm not alone. It's what a Friday should aspire to be. The only question I have is about POPUPSTORE, as I'm not sure I've ever seen one - or I have but didn't recognize it as such. Is it the same thing as a kiosk?

@Quasi - this will amuse no one but me, but I read your first line as "Well the manatees where I live are" rude... And I was off to the races, trying to imagine what constitutes rudeness in a manatee. Gotta say - not a lot of options there.

I had to google ACTIONITEM and found this, which might be of interest, but I promise you will most likely not.

As several of you have already demonstrated, I also dabble in fawnage over the IT people at my job. I work part time from homeand have little choice but to suck up on a semi-regular basis.

IT people are the "new" (not really new by now) It people and some of them know it.

@CDilly52 Your comments were/are very.moving. Thank you for sharing.

One more thing about the puzzle: When I finished, my very first thought was "I can't wait to see TaleToldByAnIdiot's story today!" Seems like a lot of possibilities here.

PatC 10:10 AM  

Wondered about SEISM. Spent much of my life in California and never heard of that in reference to an earthquake — or any other “shake.”

I make to-do lists every week with lots of stuff I’ll probably never do but want to get done. I also include things I’ve already done so I have the joy of crossing things off right away. Then, feeling I’ve accomplished enough, I can take a nap.

Z 10:11 AM  

Slightly amazed at the To Do List panning. Let me tell you that your forgetting to get stuff done is more than just a little annoying. It’s a simple thing, keep a list of stuff that needs to get done and then check it on occasion to see if you forgot anything. The time-sensitive items are seldom forgotten, it’s the “item #6” that “I can do any time” that somehow go from “any time” to “never” to “time-sensitive.” There’s actually research on to do lists in medical settings showing they result in healthier outcomes (and that it is easier to get nurses to implement them effectively than doctors). Not that this surprised me, I swear that 50% of management is keeping the To Do List and the other 50% is schmoozing/nagging/cajoling people to make sure the list gets done. OTOH - ACTION ITEM is just corp-speak because “To Do List” wasn’t fancy enough for someone’s presentation.

Unknown 10:15 AM  

Re: Rex's mermaid observations, the fountain in SF's Ghiradhelli Square features a lovely mermaid who is human down to her, well, not toes obviously, but below the waist. When I first saw her in the 70's I realized that other images I'd seen had been censored, and that they had to be more human to attract the likes of fishermen and lighthouse keepers.
exit humming,
My father was the keeper of the Eddystone Light
And he met a mermaid one fine night.
From this union there came three,
A porpoise, a porgy, and the other was me....

OffTheGrid 10:23 AM  

Here are two clips to amuse you from good old television.



Anonymous 10:23 AM  

I've never heard the term ACTION ITEM

you poor dear boy! never worked in an office of any kind that had responsibility to accomplish anything?? just, WOW!

re: mermaids, yes they are mythological, but assuming they did exist and really are 'fish' from the waist down, how visible are the naughty parts of girl fish IRL? the fact that the 'fish suits' in mermaid tanks in water parks cover up the human naughty parts can't be true of 'real' ones. a) they'd fill up with poop and explode and b) there'd never be any more; can't get preggers.

FPBear 10:26 AM  

Anybody else missing the Arts section? Can someone tell me how to access the puzzle online?

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

oh. forgot to mention: mermaids have whale tails, human legs are 90 degrees off from fish fins, and whales aren't fish. anyone know of a fish with a whale tail?

SJ Austin 10:29 AM  

Could NOT break into the NW because I had plopped in ONEAM for the SNL clue. When I finally figure that out, I was able to move on, although it still gave me trouble. The rest of the puzzle played quite easy for me, except I got stumped at the crossing of LUNEM and PURA. Not sure if that qualifies as a genuine Natick or not, but it got me.

TJS 10:35 AM  

@Z, Dahl was not Raoul, but Roald. Hah ! Ah the simple pleasures of life.

Unknown 10:36 AM  

He used to play at Andy Warhol’s Squat Theater on 23rd near 8th when I lived across the street in early 80s.

Newboy 10:37 AM  

Commenting before I read Rex or others today. Some days you share the constructor wheelhouse & so it was this morning. I never time, but every entry except in that NW corner dropped like a quarter in the video arcade. Answers seemed very literal from LAS to THREAD to BIRDSONG to LONG BOARD to CAMEL HAIR, etc. loved the cluing for 22,24,27,37,49 across. The clue for 4down (that was a hold up like IPOD) got today’s guffaw; I’m betting OFL hates it like too punny. As the terminator said, “I’ll be back” after blog due diligence. Thanks to Kyle and Rex and y’all (yes, even Will) for these moments of sanity 👋🏼

jberg 10:48 AM  

What I liked about this puzzle was the everyday phrases, such as I HOPE TO GOD, HAVE IT EASY; I also liked TROLLEY BUS -- I guess we do have them in Boston in the colloquial sense, but technically only in Cambridge, Watertown, and Belmont. It's fun to watch the trolleys come off the wires in a shower of sparks when a junction is a little rough.

I've mostly seen ACTION ITEM when someone sends out a memo summing up a meeting we just had; it will recount the discussion and pieces of information, then end with action items, often with the name of the person responsible for that item. Maybe it's a New England thing.

I can't stick around -- I have to do 30 minutes of FaceTime with my step-grandchildren as part of their "school time." I'm terrified I'll bore them.

Nancy 10:55 AM  

Anon 10:23, you Anonymous gutless wonder:

The @puzzlehoarder that you have the unmitigated gall to make fun of for never working in an office that "had the responsibility to ever accomplish anything" is a recently retired firefighter who probably accomplished more of critical importance in one day than you accomplished in your entire career -- assuming you had one.

FWIW, btw, I worked in several offices that accomplished things all the time, and I never heard the term ACTION ITEM, either. Must be a new coinage, and not a felicitous one, I'd say.

Mods -- Can you get rid of this smug, sanctimonious, know-it-all troll at 10:23 who dares to hurl snark at someone on the blog who is truly heroic? Then you can zap this comment of mine as well. Thanks.

Sir Hillary 10:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:02 AM  

It's fun to watch the trolleys come off the wires in a shower of sparks when a junction is a little rough.

not so much on the Riverside line back when all The T had were 40's vintage PCC cars, tried to run them at 50 mph. you could drink some milk and a scoop of ice cream and have a Fribble in your stomach by the time you got to Cleveland Circle.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

I never heard the term ACTION ITEM

it's been around since at least the 70's when I had to deal with it. I didn't find it amusing.

and, I guess so many don't get satire. anyone has heard 'poor dear boy' from Grandma when they get into some trouble not of their own making. I was making the point that @puzzlehoarder was among the lucky. geez.

Sir Hillary 11:14 AM  

This puzzle was just saying "nyah nyah" and slapping me upside the head the whole time. "You like SpaSMS, do ya? Smack! Oh, and ONEAM too? Smack! gradNIGHT? Sure, that works...oh wait...smack!

In any event, I felt thrown under the TROLLEYBUS.

Agree with @Rex on the beige-ness of the grid, but I enjoyed the clues for PUP, ANTE and BATS.

Any recent annoyance I've had with @Rex has been erased by his brilliant, slightly unhinged mermaid musings. More like this, please.

@Z -- Re: Elvis, yesterday I happened to listen to "Imperial Bedroom" all the way through for the first time in ages. Good lord.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

this is the wiki explanation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_item

it's a very widely used and 'professional' way to manage tasks. yes, most often done in office environments, but any civil engineer putting up a Trump Tower has them too.

RooMonster 11:20 AM  

Hey All !
Tough tough. LUMET? SEUL? CANEM?? Yikes. Vague cluing. Not my cuppa.

Lots of missteps that Rex and y'all have already noted. Another one here, noses for GEESE. And oneam for ATONE. @Loren's Fatone thing fun.

No F's :-(

William Bent 11:22 AM  

In Boston we call them trackless trolleys.

Speaking of which, during the first quarter of the 20th century, the Natick and Cochituate Street Railway ran regular trolley service (on tracks) between Downtown Natick and Cochituate Center.

Tale Told By An Idiot 11:26 AM  

The bird songs stopped; the cagey bats and the geese were still; a series of seisms wreaked havoc on the land. The nudes that had graced the oval garden littered the paths that led to the loch; shattered sheet glass covered every log. It seemed we would never have it easy again; the sights would haunt our nights forever.

But no! Ho! I see just a thread of hope: a pop-up store, a pup engaged in ball return, a nest with egg. I hope to god that soon we may once more wrap ourselves in eternal yeses.

Frantic Sloth 11:29 AM  

@LMS - just figured out your avatar! Where on earth do you even find these?? Assuming they're on earth, but a person with your galactic talent would probably "know a guy" on Jupiter.

@Nancy - Is it possible that @Anon 1023 was being sarcastic? That's kinda how I read it, but it's probable you've the greater insight.

Newboy 11:33 AM  

Got to hand it to @LMS for her sniper observations.

@CDILLY52 Bravo! Your comment “Please support our teachers and schools in any way you can. Each student, every single one is a unique and irreplaceable natural resource.” is as spot on as @Lewis’s read on today’s grid. When normalcy returns, I HOPE TO GOD that we remember the incredible expectations this pandemic placed on educators and how well they met them.

And thanks to all for sharing the links on OFL’s blog; some amusing—some enlightening—all a moment apart from our daily grind. There’s so many reassessments that need to take place from where we shop to how we treat one another. Personally, I’ve decided to email one blue link each day if an email address is part of the profile—disappointing that so few provide one. May the joy continue.

ACTION ITEM: Interesting article if you’re in need of reading suggestions: “What ‘Walden’ can tell us about social distancing and focusing on life’s essentials” It is a posting on theconversation.com site, a mildly academic blog that I’ve enjoyed for its hyperlinks to concepts and related pieces mentioned in the main article.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

@William Bent:

I can top that. My Pappy was able to go from Springfield to Boston and back on inter-city trolleys. Then GM bought up trolley services across the country and put smoke spewing buses on the roads. American Progress, Great Again.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

but it's probable you've the greater insight.

nope. she and some others got it exactly wrong. as I pointed out above. and not sarcastic, at least in the direction of @puzzlehoarder about whom I knew, and know, precisely nothing. any more than she knows about me.

JC66 11:38 AM  

For your amusement: quarantine personality types.

D. Rickles 11:43 AM  

@Z I suspect what your roommate hated was not the joke itself, but the fact that you thought you were all being original and funny - like no one had ever thought up and used that joke on him before, when, in fact, he'd been hearing it from others incessantly since he was perhaps age 10 or 11. And though each of the hundreds of people who used the joke on him over the years thought he or she was being original and funny, to him there was nothing about their joking that was original and funny. To him they were just being annoying and tiresome -- and he probably pitied them some for thinking that they were the least bit original or funny.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

I just read through the entire comment section and could not find an explanation for 10 across. No matter how many times I sing it, I come up with nine, not eight. Will someone please explain it to me in a direct and straightforward answer?

A nonny mouse 11:48 AM  

Civil engineers don’t “put up tRump towers, structural engineers do. Civil engineers do, however, get the sewage out of them. Bless ‘em.

TJS 11:51 AM  

@Anon, 10:23 Nice try...not buyin' it.

Barbara S. 11:54 AM  

I don't have much to say about the puzzle although I liked it and found it challenging. I always find satisfaction in completing a Friday puzzle (it IS Friday, isn't it?), almost no matter its specific traits.

@Quasi's (7:51) musings about manatees and statues reminded me of an interesting monument I once saw. I was in Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral in 2007 for the launch of a NASA mission to Mars. It was delayed for a day or two by weather, so we went tooling around the area in our rented car to see what we could see. A highlight -- just along a random road -- was a manatee mailbox, featuring 2 manatees, mother and baby, made of concrete. The mom was holding the mailbox in her flippers and her child was snuggled close in beside her. I thought there was so much loving affection for manatees displayed by that homeowner that it did my heart good.

@Nancy's (9:46) mention of that cyberspace/Tuscany quotation has stirred something. I do feel for the Italians, who are among the very hardest hit. But talking of cyberspace and Tuscany, the whole situation we're in has been reminding me of the set-up to The Decameron (late medieval Italian classic by Boccaccio) -- did anyone read that in school? The Plague is raging in Florence (Tuscany) and a group of people head out of the city to a country villa, where they tell each other stories to pass the time. No crossword puzzles are involved (as I remember), but our ongoing conversation in a protected (socially-distanced) space in the middle of a global pandemic is reminiscent. And, of course, the parallel extends to all online interaction these days not just our blog.

webwinger 11:55 AM  

Good puzz. Not much to complain or argue about. As always, enjoyed @Rex's musings and y’all’s clever word riffs.

I’m in a prickly ranting mood though, because of two things I learned yesterday concerning the pandemic: First, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH, probably the most authoritative source of information about COVID-19 in the US (who has demonstrated his independence from DJT time and again) said there is new reason to believe the virus may have a seasonal cycle. I didn’t see much attention to this in the media (see here, and here), and what there was focused on his warning, indisputable, that we would likely see the infection rate ramp up again in the fall. But hey, this is wonderful news! Talk about flattening the curve, and getting more time to improve our capacity to deal with the problem—it might well happen even without extreme measures to curtail spread, as has often been true in past epidemics. Fauci also said that in the next wave there would probably not be need for preventive measures as disruptive as the current ones—again cause for cautious celebration!

Second, the large prestigious Midwestern academic medical center where I worked until recently and still have an on-line connection (feel like I shouldn’t give its name, but it begins with “U” and ends with “go”), made an abrupt reversal of its containment policy: Instead of requiring all employees who had possible exposure to the virus to stay home for 2 weeks (which was having the effect of decimating its workforce), it began issuing to each of them one reusable cloth mask, to be worn at all times while in the medical center, and washed at home before returning to work. Meticulous hygiene and social distancing are still expected, and those with symptoms must still stay home, but hey again, this is so much closer to normal life!

OK, these are based on tentative judgements that could ultimately prove wrong, but so should we consider the most negative assessments, on which most current policies are based. Bottom line: Much as I don’t want the president to get the validation he will surely claim if his prediction that the economy will come back to life on Easter proves to be correct, I’d say it’s entirely within the realm of possibility, and nothing could be better for us…

Anyhow, had to get that off my chest. Hope it will be received as justifiable optimism, not naivete or being duped by the bad guys of the right.

Frantic Sloth 11:59 AM  

@D. Rickles - Wait. Were you @Z's roommate??

Anonymoose 12:02 PM  

Are you counting the "Fa"? It's just the "La's".

Nancy 12:02 PM  

Anon 11:47 -- You must be singing it with all "la"s and no "tra".

It's Tra-la-la-la-la/la-la/la-la. Eight "la"s exactly.

Joe Dipinto 12:03 PM  

@Anon 11:47 – the first one is a Fa, followed by eight Las.

Whatsername 12:06 PM  

I had a tough time with this 72 clue puzzle (Hi @Z) but no complaints really. I thought it was quite a nice Friday, not necessarily shiny and new but totally solid. Thank you Kyle.

I have been hearing beautiful BIRDSONG in my backyard as the ever faithful Purple Martins arrived a few days ago. I am always amazed and filled with ETERNAL joy when I see them come back every spring after their long long journey from South America. Oblivious to the horrifying state of the world beneath them, they swoop in with their beautiful acrobatic flight, chattering among themselves and setting up house to raise another brood before heading south again. Invariably uplifting but this year in such uncertain times, even life affirming.

@Loren: there used to be a bait and tackle shop on the way to Stockton Lake in Southern Missouri called the Master Baiter. Probably a number of those or some version of it scattered about the country.

@OffTheGrid (10:23) you could’ve searched all day and not found two more perfect clips. Thanks for the laughs, much needed right now.

@Nancy (10:55) Nice takedown! @puzzlehoarder: Congrats on your retirement. Enjoy!

@Anon (11:47) You are probably counting the first syllable which is actually FA.. So ... one FA followed by eight LAs.

I noticed @GILL was absent yesterday and I don’t see her yet today either. Hope all is well in Sacramento.

OffTheGrid 12:07 PM  

I had a thought (not a frequent occurrence). Since a corporation is a person shouldn't each corporation just get the same $1200 relief check as everybody else?


Masked and Anonymous 12:16 PM  

This FriPuz had a passel of longball debut words: PROMNIGHT, LONGBOARDS, TROLLEYBUS, etc. -- 9 of em, altogether. Gave it a fresh and also extra-feisty feel. My fave of the bunch was ACTIONITEM.

staff weeject pick: PUP. Mostly becuz of its primo mis-direct clue. Like many others here, I went with TIP, at first. But PUP is kinda cute in lotsa other ways, too.

@RP: "INGE creep"? har

Clue highlites, along with the PUP one:
* {Series of tweets} = THREAD and = BIRDSONG.
* {When SNL ends on the East Coast} = ATONE. I went with ONEAM. Was hard for m&e to migrate to ATONE, becuz I wouldn't expect ATONE to be clued thataway. Gobbled up precious nanoseconds … like a little frisky, automated NANOBOT.
* {Didn't use the can?} = LITTERED. Wanted HELDITIN. ooooh … Trash can, murmured M&A after the NANOBOT has feasted on his puzflesh some more.
* That raised-by-wolves SRTA clue. thUmbsUp. Shoot, U lose nanoseconds, just tryin to read the clue.

Thanx for the mighty CAGEY fun, Mr. Dolan.

Masked & Anonym8Us

15x15 again. sorry -- had too much spare time, bein a shut-in:

Suzie Q 12:18 PM  

@ Tale Told, Thank you again for weaving a tapestry from our grid. You had me worried but you managed to salvage the tale with a happy ending. Just back from a stroll with my pups and was glad to hear some bird song courtesy of a pair of sandhill cranes. "Song" might be a stretch to our human ears but I'm sure it was a love song to them.

Z 12:18 PM  

@D. Rickles - You think?

@TJS -10:35 - Which just further explains why the puzzle was challenging for me this morning. I think RAOUL Duke and Roald Dahl were fighting for room on the same synapse.

@Sir Hillary - Good lord, indeed. The wikipedia article has a citation for, “ Costello had imagined this to be his most optimistic album to date.” I guess that’s possible....

@Anon11:47 - Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

@TJS 11:51 - Plain text is notoriously bad for conveying tone of voice and body language. I’m willing to accept the explanation.

@anon10:23 et seq. - I think you can see why what you wrote, presented without context, could be read as insulting. You’re in one of those spots where further defense just reinforces people’s notion that you meant ill.

CT2Napa 12:20 PM  

Had a problem with Deck The Halls because I autolaunch into Pogo's version:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie
Walla Walla Wash and Kalamazoo

though the next line would have helped in the SW

Nora's freezin' on the TROLLEY

puzzlehoarder 12:23 PM  

@Nancy, thank you for sparing me the need to answer that anonymous commentor. I can't tell you how grateful I am that being a firefighter spared me from nonsense corporate speak terms such as ACTIONITEM. I ran that one by my wife who was an assistant early childhood teacher for years and of course she was all too familiar with it. The great thing about a job like mine was when that speaker cracked we just went out and dealt with whatever it was then and there. We didn't hold meetings about it. I came to see what we dealt with on those runs as the three Ms. Mishap, mayhem and misery. It's a very bad time to be out on the front lines in this crisis. The Illinois National Guard recently set up a station on Chicago's northwest side to test only first responders. They can only test 250 a day. They were of course swamped and used up that 250 in 4+1/2 hours on their first day.. At that rate they could test just the Fire Department in two weeks. The Police Department is about three times as big and I would imagine that all the people working in the hospitals dwarfs that of both departments put together.

Believe nothing from that lying orange face. Isolate yourself as much as possible and stay safe.

Ethan Taliesin 12:25 PM  

For some reason (unclear to me now) I was sure it was going to be either ICON or IDOL for "album holder." Basing everything on this, and based on this error I proceeded to retreat into a hole I dug for myself. That NW corner was my last little unfilled area.

I gave up after a few minutes and cheated. There. I confessed it.

Z 12:27 PM  

Okay. Wait. This is important. Setting up a virtual meeting and discussing which software to use and I get this in an email:
I'm not picky when it comes to video tech. 6 in one, half dozen in the other.
I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m an Ofer, not an Iner.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

@A nonny mouse:
Structural engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering

this is like shooting ducks in a barrel

"Structural engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering "
the wiki

Joe Dipinto 12:47 PM  

The boys say, "When is he gonna give us some room?"
The girls say, "God I hope he comes back soon"

I like this puzzle aside from the ridiculous clues that the editor continues to foist on the puzzlesolving public. "Moment" as metaphor for "night". And that SRTA clue. And the idea that someone counted the repeats on a Christmas carol just to get that clue for LAS. And the mermaid clue which Rex brilliantly eviscerated. And the OED clue. It just goes on and on.

I'm not sure how many would think of Sun Ra as a "jazz great". His music, not to mention his presentation of it, is just too out-there, and whether he's well-known or influential enough to be considered a "great" is debatable. He was certainly an original. I was actually looking for a Sun Ra album cover to use with yesterday's planetary theme.

Trivia question:. One of today's answers is the last name of a replacement singer in a popular 1960's group. Which answer, and what group was it? (Bonus points for the name of the person that was replaced.)

Cocktail, anyone?

Teedmn 1:01 PM  

This was a fun little Friday - not quite a romp but all gettable, though again the NW was the hardest section, with the SNIP SPIN anagram pair. I'm happy to announce that PUP was my first thought for 4D.

INGE creep - as M&A says, "Har". Sounds like Rex is having an underwear issue.

Cave CANEM (CANuM first) - a friend who visited Pompeii showed me his photo of one of several "Beware of Dog" mosaics in that city so this one was a gimme, albeit with a tiny spelling challenge.

Thanks, Kyle Dolan, nice one!

old timer 1:03 PM  

I cheated to get RAOUL -- shoulda known it, but somehow didn't. And even so I DNF'd by not entering HAVEITEASY properly -- somehow had "hadeiteasy" instead. Fairly tough Friday I think. I was so certain it would the "streetcars" instead of TROLLEYBUS. Philly has some dandy streetcars though you have to leave Center City to find them. Seattle had streetcars, replaced them with TROLLEYBUSes and new has a streetcar line on the waterfront, and maybe is building another.

But the big, big customer for TROLLEYBUSes is San Francisco. They got rid of all but five of their streetcar lines -- four because they ran through tunnels unsuitable for buses, and the fifth, the J-Church, for no discernible reason, but I used to ride the PCC cars on that line all the time (all replaced by LRV's that run under Market St, now). But almost all of the other heavily traveled lines were replaced by TROLLEYBUSes back in the late 40's. And a few years ago, SF ordered replacements for the entire fleet, and actually converted some lines from bus to electric. Why? San Francisco has a huge source of electric power in the Sierra, and it owns the electricity, but resells it to PG&E for local electric service. But it does *not* resell it for transportation service, so it has very, very cheap electricity to power its network of streetcars and TROLLEYBUSes. Far cheaper than diesel fuel for buses. Los Angeles, which has public power, never had municipal transit back in the day. For a while, there were what they called "trackless trolleys", but since the city did not run streetcars or buses, there wasn't such a huge incentive to keep them. Electric transit only returned a few decades ago, with the fast rail line to Long Beach.

As you can imagine I am a streetcar nut, and have gone out of my way to ride them where they survived. I was always tempted to visit Pittsburg, just to ride their cars.

Ellen S 1:09 PM  

@Loren, I loved your description of your relationship with the IT guy. When I was employed at by a major computer manufacturer, the IT guy who was assigned to “support” the area I worked in required similar delicate negotiations. He really didn’t want to be bothered with our petty problems (like, you know, our workstations not working). if I called him, he’d hang up the phone. So I’d have to walk around to his office and plead my case in person. I think IT people must take the same customer relations classes as Chicago bus drivers.

Ellen S 1:11 PM  

Oh, and I enjoyed the puzzle. Thank you KD.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  


I couldn't care less what @puzzlehoarder or @Nancy thinks of me. I do take umbrage at being accused of malfeasance when none was intended. I presented the backstory to why ACTION ITEM is, sort of, humorous to the horde of folks who've not heard of the term, and denigrated it in **their** comments. sauce for the goose and all that.

@LMS - 6:12
@Speedweeder - 8:51
@Z - 10:11

FWIW, project management regimens, CPM and PERT and such, are what keep your military machine running (and where they came from), and ACTION ITEMS are the method.

it's not some sort of Gray Flannel Suit mumbo jumbo, despite @Z's denigration.

Frantic Sloth 1:16 PM  

At all @Anon1023 vs. @puzzlehoarder participants:

This is a false conflict, based on what many conflicts are: a misunderstanding and/or misinterpretation, especially of a cyber-individual's offering.

Can't we all just get along??

KUMBAYA, people! XOX

QuasiMojo 1:24 PM  

@Barbara S, 11:54am. What a lovely anecdote about the manatee mailbox. I see similar things here but that one sounds unique.

@Frantic, funny! Although I'm told manatees are extremely friendly and gracious.

@Nancy, some of the birds where I live (reside...wink) are in dire straits. There's a large family of tiny birds that lives in an atrium above a cafe near me. They have been sustaining themselves for years by eating crumbs off tables and on the ground. Lots of crumbs. Now there are none. The tables and customers are gone. I walked by this morning and the little birds (starlings, I think, although they are not dark) were screeching for food. It was deafening. It stopped when I walked away. Clearly they are starving and not having learned how to hunt for worms or insects, I suspect they will start dying soon. We don't have a lot of worms here anyway as this is the dry season. I'm no nature buff and definitely not a bird watcher (in both senses, wink wink), in fact a huge pelican yesterday nearly knocked me off a pier, but I am sorry for these poor creatures. Meanwhile I subsist on cheap instant coffee and Parmalat milk. I'd cook up some rice in the microwave but it's broken. I wrote about that here a while back. Lol.

What? 1:37 PM  

Tra la la la la, la la la la

What? 1:48 PM  

Got it all except NW corner. Never heard of POPUP STORE or SNIPS. Had to cheat.
Wait, is it cheating to look up an answer? I suppose if you’re being graded or applying for job. What kind of job, you may ask? Remember that when Alan Turing was recruiting for his decoding group at Bletchley, he gave applicants, not an IQ test, but rather a crossword puzzle to solve. I would love to see that puzzle. Anybody have any idea where to look?

KnittyContessa 2:06 PM  

I got hung up in two places. When I saw the clue was pointer not Pointer i thought it couldn't be pup so that hung me up for awhile. Immediately put in Oneam which left me wondering if Oreo made a Prime Cuts variety.

Pete 2:07 PM  

@Z #Team_OF. In fact, #Team_IN_are_Idiots

Frantic Sloth 2:44 PM  

A little dark humor for those who enjoy it and

Smith 3:04 PM  

OF course!
DH got an email about a meeting that opened with "For all intensive purposes".
I'm thinking, coronavirus, intensive, maybe...?

prandolph 3:10 PM  

Nice crunchy puzzle, liked it a bunch !


The puzzle used in recruiting for Bletchley Park was a cryptic crossword, much different from the American type of crossword.

Maxxgar 3:11 PM  

@LMS My wife and I always look forward to your comments..

Frantic Sloth 3:21 PM  

@Smith and anyone else

Where do you stand on "If you think that's gonna be the case, you've got another think/thing coming!"

I find myself yelling at the TV whenever I encounter "incidences" or "mischEEVIOUS" instead of "incidents" and "mischievous" respectively - especially from supposedly (NOT supposably) learned people.

Is that so wrong??

okanaganer 3:22 PM  

Re TROLLEY BUS, we've been through this before, a year or two ago. Rex you really should read the comments!

I think Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and SF all still have them. I rode the Vancouver ones to work every day for years. Here is a Google Streetview shot of several in action (well actually stopped at a red light); i love them but they sure require a mangled mess of overhead wires!!

Whatsername 3:27 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (12:47) The singer in question was ANDY LUMET, who got his job with The LONGBOARDS after the original performer, RAOUL INGE, was hit by a TROLLEYBUS being ROADTESTED in LAGOS as the driver was checking the MILEAGELOG and swerved to avoid hitting a NUDE statue of a mermaid. He thought he’d HAVEITEASY but his CAMELHAIR coat - THREADS and all - was ruined by the mint JULEP he spilled and a CAGEY gaggle of GEESE that passed over at an unfortunate moment. Worse, it was PROMNIGHT and he knew his SPECIAL girl AGGIE would SEISM if she had to go SEUL. If only he had taken a different PATH or stopped in a POPUP store along the way. As he got in his BMW, he muttered “IHOPETOGOD we can WRAP this day up now.” The incident would have HAUNTed him for the rest of his life, but when he drove off, he passed a bowling alley just as the RETURNBALL mechanism malfunctioned and sent a 16 pounder right thru his SHEETGLASS windshield. Alas, not even a NANOBOT could save him.

So sorry, too much time on my hands. But as a child of the sixties I should’ve known the answer to your question and didn’t so this seemed like a fun thing to do.

Smith 3:28 PM  

CAMELHAIR reminded me of...
My dad had a darkroom in our basement. Well into the 60s he was still using an enlarger that his father brought from Germany in 1939 [different story]. After I learned to develop film we went into the intracacies of enlarging, or printing. My father had what he referred to as "a camel's hair brush" for getting rid of dust. He was an educated, if non-native, speaker, and drove my mother crazy with his language jokes. I was only 6 or 7 and it really was years before I got it!

Frantic Sloth 3:33 PM  

@Whatsername - Brilliant!

JC66 3:49 PM  

@Frantic Sloth

Loved the Van Gogh.


What @Frantic Sloth said.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  


I offen axe the same question.

puzzlehoarder 4:14 PM  

@anonomous 10:23, yes there's little room for nuance in this form of communication. You've commented 3x today and your anonymity is kind of blown. Why not give yourself a name and stick around. Even if you just go by @anonymous 10:23, which is kind of who you are now anyway.

What? 4:17 PM  

Any way to see it?

Anonymous 4:23 PM  


no thanks. I was goaded into far more comments than I've ever contemplated. it's not a regular thing.

10:23 (or may be not?)

Joe Dipinto 4:47 PM  

@Frantic Sloth.

@Whatsername – Intriguing guess; however, it wasn't Andy Lumet. Six answers in your story either cross or border the correct one.

BobL 5:16 PM  



xyz 5:20 PM  

So good, took me 2:53

Nancy 5:21 PM  

Yes, I'm quite concerned about @GILL, too. I didn't notice her absence yesterday, but I noticed today's absence in the late morning before I went out. I hoped when I checked in again this evening, she'd be here -- but she's not. I'm going to send her an email now. Fingers crossed that nothing's wrong.

Frantic Sloth 5:22 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - thanks for your creative answer!

And now I'll answer your trivia question and claim some of those bonus points!

Cindy Birdsong replaced Florence ("Flo", who don't know) Ballard of the Supremes.

Can't take all the credit - the wife helped.

...and scene.

Frantic Sloth 5:33 PM  

@Nancy 5:21 - Thank you for checking on GILL. We'll wait here.

jae 5:49 PM  

Late to post as foraging ate up a lot of my day.

Bottom half easy-medium, top half tough. My last entry was the U (Hi M&A) in RAOUL, it was sort of a guess but what else could it be?

Solid, liked it.

Interesting/odd bunch of comments today. Thank you all for the distraction.

I think I got LMS avatar, it refers to the clue for 33a?

That said, I have no idea what @Z was posting about at 12:27

Puzzled Peter 5:57 PM  

How is a ball return found between gutters?
When I worked as a pinsetter (army base in the early 50's) the balls were returned IN the gutters, not between them.
Would appreciate an explanation.

Joe Dipinto 6:00 PM  

@Frantic Sloth is the winner of the trivia contest. Cindy Birdsong was recruited from Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles to stand in for Florence Ballard when Flo started missing gigs with the Supremes. In 1967 Berry Gordy dumped Flo altogether and installed Cindy in her place.

The prize is the very last unopened bottle of Purell in New York state. As you can imagine, its market value is sky-high, so it's quite a score. Get ready, put on your gloves, and I'll toss it over to you.



Joe Dipinto 6:08 PM  

@Jae – LMS avatar is answer at 2d, I believe.

PatC 6:18 PM  

@Z It’s ‘of’ of course. Amazing how simple phrases can be misunderstood. I recently saw someone write “for all intensive purposes” and not for the first time.

ASW-20 6:26 PM  

Ditto Brandenburg #5. Sublime, but then so much of Bach is such. A friend once opined Bach hits the long ball clean.

Smith 6:41 PM  

@ Frantic
With you all the way.
You've got another think coming, cuz you shouldna been thinkin' what you thunk.

TAB2TAB 6:45 PM  

I so wanted 1A to be SOUPS, instead SNIPS? Can anyone explain this to me - I can't even find a reference on Googs.

CDilly52 6:56 PM  

@RevTom - in my family, we
Focus on the “ breath”” part of BATED breath, and because my younger sister misunderstood my mother when she was telling Sis that she would just have to wait with BATED breath to see what Santa would leave in her stocking, Sis asked “do I have to eat fish?,” confounding Mom. Upon inquiring why fish, Sis answers “how else would I have bait breath?” So we have for almost 60 years waited with “baitbreath.”

Whatsername 6:59 PM  

@BobL @JC66 and @Frantic: Thank you! And congrats @Frantic for being the big winner although it sounds as though actually collecting your prize might turn out to be a slippery situation. I would never have figured out the answer, even with @Joe’s heavy-handed hint. Really annoys me too as I once won a critical round of Trivial Pursuit by naming the original three Supremes. But that was decades ago, and I had completely forgotten about Florence B. ultimately leaving. Oh well, just another one of the myriad examples of how much I improve my intellect by participating on this blog.

@Nancy: Thank you so much for checking on GILL. If she didn’t show up tomorrow I was going to ask you to do that very thing. Will be anxiously waiting to hear back from you.

CDilly52 7:00 PM  

I cleaned the BALL RETURN and bowling balls and swept the alleys one summer in lanes that had human pin setters because the owner didn’t want to adapt all the way and have to force the guys to lose their summer jobs as pin it’s. Even long after He caved, the regulars lamented the mechanical pinsetters - all that noise!

CDilly52 7:02 PM  

I cleaned the BALL RETURN and bowling balls and swept the alleys one summer in lanes that had human pin setters because the owner didn’t want to adapt all the way and have to force the guys to lose their summer jobs as pin it’s. Even long after He caved, the regulars lamented the mechanical pinsetters - all that noise!

jae 7:05 PM  

@Joe D - Yes it is. I just saw that letters were missing but didn’t stop to figure out which ones.

Striker 7:15 PM  

@Puzzled Peter, the mechanized ball return is placed between the right gutter on the neighbors lane and the left on yours. The ball comes out of a hole and lands in a circular tray of sorts.

pabloinnh 7:21 PM  

a) Didn't know The Supremes but my do-wop group once opened for The Shirelles, true story. They were all lovely and gracious and I still have one of the posters they all signed for us.

b) Why do I think we all suddenly have lots of free time?

Z 7:24 PM  

@Puzzled Peter - The automatic BALL RETURN is between the gutters.

@jae - Six in one, a half dozen in the other
Six of one, a half dozen of the other

I can make sense of the “in” version, “six apples in the basket, a half dozen apples in the other basket,” but I only have ever heard the “of” version.

I’m team Thing. Or maybe I’m Thing 1.

Teedmn 7:27 PM  

@Frantic Sloth, and then there are the blunt/brunt and flout/flaunt errors you hear and can't help correcting to the ether.

The section of road in front of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC is Raoul Wallenberg Place SW (I think I noticed because it's a long name for a street sign).

jae 8:03 PM  

@Z - aha, thanks - apparently I’m an OFer too as italicizaed phrase didn’t make much sense to me and I failed to parse the Ofer vs. Iner in your follow up comment.

Z 8:09 PM  

@pabloinnh - Too too busy here.

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good contronym controversy.

Nancy 8:21 PM  

@Whatsername (6:59) -- although GILL hasn't responded to my email since I sent it two hours ago, @chefwen was kind enough to let me know off-blog that GILL has been active in the last few days on Facebook and therefore not to worry. So I won't -- at least not until tomorrow's blog.

To the various Rexites responsible for today's 87 posts about where the BALL RETURN is or isn't located in a bowling alley, all I can say is: Don't ever tease me about going on at length about tennis ever again. Do we have a deal? :)

Nancy 8:40 PM  

Update on GILL -- She's having trouble with her NYT subscription and didn't want to come to the blog without having done the puzzle first . She hopes it will be sorted out and that she'll be able to comment on tomorrow's blog.

Whatsername 8:55 PM  

@Nancy: Thank you. She’s probably fine, but it’s just such a worrisome time. Hope you are doing well too,

Charles Emerson Winchester III 9:14 PM  

No one has taken on OFL’s whine about AQUA PURA. Second largest bottled water brand in the UK (behind Evian). I could see the logo in my mind’s eye as I entered it into the puzzle - but then I’m freshly returned from the ancestral shores and still in dreamy quarantine at home.

JeffE 9:35 PM  

Do you even like Crosswords, Rex?"

JC66 9:37 PM  


Thanks for the @GILL update.

Good news, considering her exposing herself to help her neighbors.

JMS 9:58 PM  

I feel like the guy who doesn’t get the joke...
How does SNIPS = saucy ones???

Anonymous 10:14 PM  

Really wanted PARTYSTORE (clearly, great minds think alike) but managed to hold back, through dumb luck I guess. Speaking of dumb luck, I learned SUNRA the hard way, by botching it at the inaugural Indie 500.

Puzzling Philosopher 10:29 PM  

Whether mermaid statues are nudes is not really an ontological question (a question about what exists) so much as a semantical one (what sorts of thing does the expression "nude" apply to).

The mid-20th-C philosopher Gilbert Ryle might have called the issue of whether, say, horse statues are nudes a "category mistake" --- that is, the term "nude" is used to distinguish among depictions of people, so it just doesn't give verdicts about other depictions. But that's to say the least controversial. A more popular view these days (owing much to the influence of the philosopher Paul Grice) is that "category mistakes" are really just cases where an expression so obviously does not apply that it would be silly to raise the issue (are you, like the number 7, prime?).

This particular case, about mermaids and nudity, is very interesting, because the concept of nudity comes down to us as contrasted with a norm of being clothed. So while one idea is that "nude" just means "unclothed," whatever the local norms of clothing happen to be, another is that it means something more like "not clothed to normal standards." It's tricky to decide issues like that, but one test that is of possible relevance is to ask whether counterfactual conditionals like this are true: "had our standards of dress allowed being completely unclothed in all situations, a painting of an unclothed person would not have been a nude." (My own sense is that that is not in fact true, which leads me to favor the idea that "nude" literally means "unclothed," even if understanding the term requires knowing that it is immersed in a clothing-normative setting.)

Frantic Sloth 10:43 PM  

Thanks,@Nancy. That's welcomed news about GILL. Whew!

TJS 10:49 PM  

@JMS and others, don't know the history of usage, but my Mom would frequently tell my sister "Don't be such a snip, young lady."
God,what are we on, like 140 posts ? OPEN THE BARS !!!

Monty Boy 11:35 PM  


Announced introductions at the formal dinner:

Mr. and Mrs. Thompson and their son, Master Thompson.

Mr. and Mrs. Bates and their son ... Oh never mind.

WinthorpeIII 6:11 AM  

You can say that again.

burtonkd 9:19 AM  

Rude manatees can be the next song in the cycle with the sullen otter and passive aggressive panda. Was it Frantic Sloth that wrote the otter lyrics?

Charles Emerson Winchester III 5:01 PM  

Reminds one of the hoary old joke about introductions at the Future Painters’ Ball:

M. & Mme. Lautrec with their incontinent son Toulouse.

Charles Emerson Winchester III 5:02 PM  

Fabulous consideration of the issue: interesting and insightful. Thank you!

william levine 11:26 AM  

Lautrec’s tailor often asked him “too tight Toulouse?”

Burma Shave 11:13 AM  


TO HAVEITEASY on the PATH TO passion;
TO RETURN from the BALL for something SPECIAL,


rondo 11:48 AM  

What? Not one comment about SYD LUMET? Only real write-over was EgOS before EROS; I don’t buy ALL that Freud garbage anyway. It’s not science and the man was a lunatic. BATS.

Otis BIRDSONG was a tremendous NBA player. I always wished I could shoot like he did.

This puz was JUST fine.

thefogman 12:11 PM  

I really enjoyed Rex’s comments re mermaids and NUDES. Thanks Rex.

spacecraft 12:38 PM  

Very tough today because of some cluing and some WHA????'s. ACTIONITEM is a phrase that, to me, doesn't even make sense. Every item on the list is "to do," hence needs to be acted upon. To do, or not to do, THAT is the question.

I've spent some time in Philadelphia and I never saw a TROLLEYBUS. I saw--and rode on--regular SEPTA buses, no overhead wires applied. I now find out that there are some old tracks in the Fishtown section. Not exactly a fair clue.

BALLRETURN threw me for a few minutes; I was picturing the area on one lane between gutters, but of course there's also what's between lanes. JUST one of those little tricks of perspective that can fool you.

Closest I can come to a DOD today is ANDY (or -i) McDowell. That's plenty close! Done with attendant triumph points, though I never heard of REI, which had to go in on crosses. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Ripped through significant areas of this one, only to be brought to a standstill by the large infestation of pissers scattered throughout. Rejected.

rainforest 3:58 PM  

For a Friday, this was an appropriate puzzle. Tough at first, it gradually yielded to a slow and steady attack. There some really nicely clued answers: PROM NIGHT, BALL RETURN, POPUP STORE, BIRDSONG, and the general fill was fine. ACTION ITEM has a bit of a 'green paint' feel to it, but I admit that when I make a to-do list, there are some I need to do immediately, and some that are "wouldn't it be nice".

Two places where I slowed were CANEM (took forever to see it was Latin), and SRTA, where I was looking for a book or movie title for too long.

Nothing to dislike here. Enjoyed it.

Diana, LIW 6:40 PM  

I think "user error" ate my comment.

Lady Di

Diana, LIW 7:16 PM  

Yup - I even know what I did.

So, as I was saying...

I'M MAD AS **** AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! I was just saying that the other day... use your imagination as to why. So LUMET was a gimmee!

And...a Thursday and Friday done perfectly - and in a row. See what happens when you have nothing else to do?

Diana, Lady, Waiting and Waiting

sdcheezhd 2:19 AM  

POPUPSTOREs are not food things; they are generally tied to seasonal or special events (like Super Bowl) like the clue suggests.

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