Bandleader Xavier / FRI 4-3-20 / System of modified spellings used on the internet / Some phone notifications during March Madness / Like NFL referees since 1975

Friday, April 3, 2020

Constructor: Joe Deeney

Relative difficulty: no idea ... so, let's say Medium

THEME: WITH OR WITHOUT YOU (34A: First Billboard #1 hit for U2 ... and a hint to the answers to the four starred clues) — names from Romeo & Juliet spelled with *and* (?) without "U":

Theme answers:
  • MONTAGUE / CAPLET (4th row)
  • CAPULET / MONTAGE (11th row)
Word of the Day: Lin YUTANG (30D: Lin ___, author of the best seller "The Importance of Living") —
Lin Yutang (Chineseๆž—่ชžๅ ‚ ; October 10, 1895 – March 26, 1976) was a Chinese inventor, linguist, novelist, philosopher, and translator. His informal but polished style in both Chinese and English made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, and his compilations and translations of classic Chinese texts into English were bestsellers in the West. (wikipedia)
• • •

Everything about this is half-baked. It's not a proper themed puzzle because there's not enough theme material and it's not a proper themeless because ... well, that's self-evident, I guess, but the real problem is that this cake wants to have a theme but also a low word-count like a themeless (73 in a 15x16 grid). Trying to shove all that long non-theme material in there strains the grid, and the fill ended up much less clean than you'd like. Do A Theme Or Don't Do A Theme. I really resent being sold a skimpy, not-thought-through theme on a Friday. This is sadly typical when themed stuff shows up on Fri or Sat. Some theme idea that just isn't fully fleshed out, that needs more work, that might be crafted into something interesting, is instead cut off mid-development and shoved into a lateweek themeless, where I guess the idea is that the showier long non-theme fill in the themeless will detract from or otherwise make people forgive the thin theme. It's one cute observation (if you take the "U" out of either name, you get an actual word) stretched painfully thin, and a potentially bouncy and entertaining Friday themeless is ruined in the process.

Last letter into the grid was the "G" in YUTANG, a name I didn't know, which crossed GINGERED, which ... what? (51A: Livened (up)) (by my count, the third "(up)" clue in the puzzle ... know when to say when, kids). GINGERED up ... feels dated. Not BONER-dated, but dated. No one says BONER anymore (in this context) and even if they did, no one would ever say "Duh" in response to a BONER. You say "Duh!" in response to someone's saying something obvious. Or you might say in response to one of your own, uh, boners, I guess. Like when you make a mistake and someone points it out and you say "Oh, duh." And ["True that"] is out of tune with its answer, IT IS. Slang v. not slang. In short this puzzle has no idea about slang or what era it's from or how it's used. I'm told that the term LEET (which I don't know at all) is twenty years out of date (46D: System of modified spellings used on the internet) So that's helpful. Let's see — "Leet (or "1337"), also known as eleet or leetspeak, is a system of modified spellings used primarily on the Internet" (wikipedia). Of course this is clued straight out of wikipedia, ugh. Here, read about LEET for yourselves.

I still don't really get the clue on REANIMATE (3D: Help to get back on one's feet?). It's just ... literal. Or ... like Frankenstein's monster? Sigh. That clue is A BIT MUCH (my favorite answer of the day by far). Stuff like TRACESTO and TASTESOF just felt grinding—phrases that you have to give a pass because they're technically acceptable, but as stand-alone answers, they're just awkward and deeply unsatisfying. Don't know why the horrid, obsequious "boss!" was added to the clue for 57A: "Right away, boss!" ("ON IT!"). Or, I do, sort of, but I really hate it. Who says "boss" like this except in some highly caricatured context. ROPEWORK ... blah. The kind of answer that just sits there and dares you to disqualify it. So dull, so workmanlike, so stubbornly real without being At All interesting (35D: Mariner's skill). I'd sooner buy ROPEWORK as a rodeo skill. I wanted something to do with knots. My feelings about this one are GELID, yet another thing no one says. Goodbye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I learned last night that longtime blog reader, supporter, and commenter John Verel (@JohnV) has died as a result of COVID-19. He was a very nice man.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


H. Gunn 6:38 AM  

It is TROUPER. There is no argument here. This is an error in the puzzle - one that NYTimes has made several time before.

Loren Muse Smith 6:38 AM  

I. Loved. This. Loved it. I liked it a lot when I saw early on MONTAGUE right next to CAPLET, but I had no idea what was to follow. CAPULET and MONTAGE and WITH OR WITHOUT YOU. Who notices that those U’s can be vamoosed to reveal a different word? Constructors do. That’s why I love puzzles. Love it when a constructor says, Hey, look, ever notice this cool thing. . .?

So I sat there reveling in my delight. Relishing that span of time before I read how much Rex hated it and why. Friday with a theme. Gasp. Funny that after all these years of disagreeing with Rex, it still stings when he excoriates a puzzle. I’m always thinking, Please like this please like this please like this…

I have never heard of LEET, so I tried to google it and understand it. I learned that its name derives from elite, and I was thinking it described stuff like Ur gr8, but I think it’s more than that. I lost patience, though and moved on. Seems uber young computergeektechy-some. I still put two spaces after a period, so I’m just not in that club.

The clue for UNCLE was terrific.

Liked seeing MIKED and remembered that some outlets write is as mic’d. I kinda like the latter. I tell ya, rendering our ever-morphing spoken language into written language can be troublesome. And someone’s always gonna get their nose out of joint.

I paused at ROPE WORK for a mariner’s skill. When I worked on a boat, I was admonished many times that once a rope is on a boat, it’s referred to as line. Ahem.

This theme is especially serendipitous ‘cause yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that my freshmen will not experience that rite of passage that is Romeo and Juliet. I had planned for my honors class a couple of mock trials wherein we tried Friar Lawrence in one and Nurse in the other to determine their culpability in the tragedy. I imagined a discussion as to who was more guilty.


(You liked my ended up up ended? Read the above backwards.)

Stay safe, people. And my your spot of tea not become a spout of tea.

Lewis 6:49 AM  

Just right for a Friday theme because it doesn't detract from the themeless feel of the puzzle. I like that these unexpected out-of-the box treats come along every now and then.

This fell in my wheelhouse; I didn't feel like I was negotiating an obstacle course, as I often do on Fridays and Saturdays. I like WORK crossing PIECE OF, and I noticed the preposition-at-the-end answers TRACES TO, ACTS ON, SOP UP, and TASTES OF. I learned YUTANG. I also considered the CORNER STOrE as a place to look for a date.

Not a flashy puzzle, but never boring, and it left me feeling kinda high, like floating on a raft in the pool under the sun. That is a gift these days. Thank you, JD.

kitshef 7:15 AM  

Easier than Wednesday or Thursday's puzzle, so definitely appears on the wrong day.

Nice clue for CORNERSTONE, and enjoyed seeing MY SHARONA in the grid.

Left a blank in REAL TRO_PER and waited on the cross. Would it be the correct “U” or incorrect “O”? The latter, alas.

So … Will thought that Flavor Flav was too obscure, but is OK with Lin YUTANG? And GINGERED up? which M-W identifies as “British, infomal”? And crossing each other?

Also struggling to find a scenario where a BONER would cause one to say “duh”.


Steve 7:24 AM  

@H. Gunn

Some online dictionaries (like Merriam Webster) agree that it's TROUPER, but others list the word TROOPER with the meaning of "one who perseveres", so I'd have to say you're off base on that one. Google it and see what I'm talking about...

Suzie Q 7:28 AM  

So sorry to hear about @JohnV. News like that makes it difficult to comment without sounding shallow or uncaring.

By coincidence I happened to watch "You Can't Take It With You" on TCM last night so Capra was an easy answer. If you would like some fun diversion I recommend it. Great cast with a happy ending.

clk 7:38 AM  

The COY was the last to fall for me because of course it should be REALTROuPER but CuY wasn’t going to work. With a groan, I changed it to O.

INTER made me very sad in these pandemic times, and doubly so to learn we’d lost a fellow commenter to the virus. Rest In Peace.

Mark Nelson 7:42 AM  


pabloinnh 7:51 AM  

Does knowing SWIT, CUGAT, and CAPRA right away mean you're old, or is that a function of the years you have lived?

Why is it a "PIECEOFCAKE" but "easy as pie?

MYSHARONA is a good jogging song.

Conway TWITTY (real name Harold Jenkins) named himself after Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas, when he became a country singer.

I liked the U or no U thing just fine, as it had a decent aha! factor, which is what I want on a Friday. So thanks, JoeD. (not that JoeD who is frequently deserves thanks too).

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

No comment on the puzzle but very sorry to hear about John Verel. To everyone reading this: I hope you’re safe and healthy. I woke up this morning feeling sad and can only imagine how John’s friends and fa,ily must feel today.

Joaquin 8:05 AM  

I thought the theme and revealer were exceptional. *Good* exceptional. However, the rest of it caused me no 41Ds.

GILL I. 8:07 AM  

Yikes...I don't even know where to begin. I'll start with oy vey and the TROOPER vs trouper which will always remind me of ice tea vs iced tea. Both acceptable. Moving right along. I want to make some bread and I'll call it SEEST LEET. It will TASTE OF nothing because I can't find flour nor yeast. No problemo is not a PIECE OF CAKE.
I always get a Hoi Polloi mixed up with a Hoity Toity. I figured out that one of them is the masses and the other is a snoot...but which one?
Livened up is GINGERED? I thought it was a hair color. I use to be GINGERED. Damn grey is seeping in.
BONER is a Duh reason? "Look at Mickey...he's got a BONER...well Duh!"
I have a friend named SOLI and she's a standout I liked that one.
I always liked TWITTY bird.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Perhaps TROOPER v TROUPER is a subtle part of the WITH OR WITHOUT U theme?

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

I’m impressed that 14A did not use “the” hoi polloi, which, as my mommy always told me, is redundant.

amyyanni 8:17 AM  

What Anonymous who posted at 7:58 wrote. Stay well. Please appreciate all the essential workers. My husband works in the state office that regulates restaurants and hotels. The inspectors are out there responding to complaints and keeping your takeout safe.

Hungry Mother 8:25 AM  

Funny how long it took me to get the R in SARA. Otherwise, not bad for a Friday. I loved the theme and it helped my spelling a bit. A bit faster than usual.

Another Anon 8:29 AM  

Good one.

Michiganman 8:35 AM  

A friend is a nurse in direct contact with COVID patients. His wife is self-quarantined with symptoms. She was denied a test until she's worse. There is a teenager and a 7 year old in the home. WTF.

Tale Told By An Idiot 8:35 AM  

Let’s make the story of Montague and Capulet all new. Let’s allow Romeo to reanimate Juliet; or let’s make Juliet a real trooper who says to Romeo I will live, with or without you. Let’s dry our eyes, sop up our tears, eat a piece of cake and admit that it is a bit much to inter them both. Let Romeo have a boner and Juliet have a bash so that the world seest young love anew.

La Vida Artesania 8:36 AM  

Anyone who has been in the Navy on a ship would think that ropework refers to the nautical art of tying knots. Bosn mates use rope to tie dozens of different knots and display them on a framed board.

Z 8:37 AM  

@JohnV was one of the nicest among us. I remember him doing his difficulty ratings based on his commute. He had dropped in less and less recently, but was always insightful.

Old guy in Idaho 8:38 AM  

Didn’t really dislike this. Solved it slightly faster than “Friday average”.
But I can see Rex’s points. Some strange clues/fill.

DeeJay 8:47 AM  

This is a fantastic puzzle. I laughed put loud when I entered MONTAGUE. The rest of the puzzle is fairly sharp.

puzzlehoarder 8:48 AM  

When I finished this puzzle I did notice the MONTAGUE/MONTAGE pairing but I didn't realize this was part of a mini theme until I went to xwordinfo. The U2 title was so familiar that I didn't completely read the 34A clue and wasn't aware that there were "starred" clues in the puzzle. Those things are very small and since I'm trying to solve quickly I never saw them.

YUTANG was completely unknown to me. Luckily TWITTY is one of those names you can't forget. GINGERED is an unusual term but most of the crosses were obvious.

This was an easy but fun solve.

OffTheGrid 8:50 AM  

Lots wrong with this, some already mentioned. A mix of clever and crappy. "No problemo" is among the worst phrases in the language. It sounds so STUPID. Do we need "of MASH" for Loretta on a Friday? ALL NEW? NEW covers it. Did not like UNCLE. A "wrestling match" is a sporting event which never ends with someone crying "UNCLE". My britches aren't in a bunch but I winced at the March Madness item.

Hungry Mother 8:53 AM  

For this Army vet, it’s always TROOPER.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Yup, BONER seems like an odd one to leave in given how its meaning has evolved, and considering how easily it could have been replaced by LONER and LASH (or GONER and GASH...) But generally, I liked this puzzle a lot!

joho 9:04 AM  

Oh, no! I met John Verel on this blog many years ago. I am so saddened to hear of his passing. Yes, Rex, he was a very nice man. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Jeremy 9:08 AM  

Lol, what? Yes there is. Just Google it.

Lewis 9:08 AM  

John V was wry, witty, smart, funny and passionate about crosswords. His comments were pithy and always worth reading. He was equally vocal about what he liked and didn't like. He commented here for a very long time and I just came to love the man. This is a big loss to our community. I will miss you greatly, John.

QuasiMojo 9:10 AM  

W00t! Leet it be, Rex. This was an ALLOW puzzle. A tad too easy perhaps for a traditional Friday. I did one from 1999 last night since I had little else to do and it was a killer. Brutal. I then read your take on it from back when and the tone back then was much more favorable and enthusiastic, as if you really enjoyed doing puzzles. That definitely no longer seems the case. Yes, the puzzles have been dumbed down. But what hasn't?? (You see even an old curmudgeon like me is finally caving.)

YUTANG was my entry point. We had that book in our library at home when I was a kid. I never read it but you couldn't escape that name. Or the title! I think it was in the NYT bestseller list for a long time.

CAPLET is a made-up word, isn't it? Maybe Loren can tell me what those are called. Portmanteau? Or just adspeak?

I wish CAPRA hadn't been next to CAPulet. But that's just OCD moi.

SWIMCAP too. That one next to LETS DRY, a weak entry, reminded me of that Carol Burnett skit where she is spoofing Esther Williams. She dives in a pool, comes out dripping wet, takes off her swimcap and her hair is voluptuously dry, permed, COIFED and voluminous.

NOELLE is a stretch, literally!

No wonder I like GiNGERED bread. It livens me up.

COY to me doesn't imply reluctance. It implies deliberate misdirection. I put in MUM.


TJS 9:16 AM  

FRIDAY ??? This is a Friday NYT puzzle? What a joke. That's all I got.

Richard Russell 9:30 AM  

40A — Did anyone else enter HAMM? One of the great things about USA's own Mia Hamm is she scored more international goals (158) than anyone else, male or female. (She has since been surpassed by another great American striker, Abby Wambach with 184.) Pele scored "only" 77 goals in his international career. The difference-factor comes from opportunities. At Mia Hamm's peak there wasn't very much of a women's league around. Probably the wording of the clue is poor: "Guinness record-holder for the most career goals in football" is not specific as to "total goals" or "international goals" or whatever. In any event, it's the fault of the Guinness people, not NYTimes, right?

bauskern 9:32 AM  

Shakespeare was a white guy, so I knew from the get go that Rex would not be happy with this puzzle. Even if 1A referenced a woman. Plus, U2 was a band made of white guys, so there you go. Personally, I thought this puzzle was clever and challenging. I had MOPUP instead of SOPUP, so a DNF on 5A, but all in all, a fun way to start the morning until I read Rex's blog.

Barbara S. 9:36 AM  

@Tale Told 8:35
What a life-affirming retelling in these dark times. Thank you.

Sir Hillary 9:43 AM  

The JohnV news makes me so sad, and I'm nowhere near as active or long-tenured here as many of you. I hate feeling this way.

I enjoyed the mini-theme today, and the U2 song remains gorgeous 33 years after release. The long non-themers are cool too, although I am with @Rex in questioning the clue for REANIMATE. But I really crinkled up my nose at things like LEET, PLEB (isn't it usually PLEBe?), SEEST (nice try to make it theme-relevant, but no), IWILL and ROPEWORK.

Ironic seeing MYSHARONA, given its recent reworking as "My Corona".

Peace and health to all.

JMajers 9:57 AM  

I'm with LMS.

Birchbark 9:57 AM  

@John V once used the term "Pop culture trainwreck" to describe a puzzle -- an excellent voice.

@LMS (6:35) -- re Romeo and Juliet's Nurse v. Friar, and who is more guilty for the lovers' deaths: I vote neither. If we must distinguish between them, the Friar has an evil counterpart in the Apothecary. The Friar's herb-lore is basically good -- he loves being among, learning from, and narrating the virtues of the plants. The Apothecary is the source of the bad CAPLET. He just delivers the goods without any contextual reverence. I can't think of a similar offsetting character for the Nurse. I suppose that if Romeo and Juliet were old enough to get married, they should probably be the one's who are most accountable for their actions.

Also, @Tale Told by an Idiot (8:35), I like your version much better. Who says you can't improve on Shakespeare.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

As I solve in the NYTimes newspaper, on clues like 3 down, I have to print them horizontally on a blank part of the page to see them visually and then they become more easily recognizable.

Teedmn 10:03 AM  

Oh dear, a Friday with a theme. It is Friday, isn't it? I can't keep track anymore, keeping such odd hours. Anyway, I thought it was cute. I noticed the CAPLET-nearly-CAPULET at 21A but I still needed a bunch of crosses to remind me of WITH OR WITHOUT YOU. I'm not a U2 fan, though I do have two of their CDs for some reason.

I didn't find this a PIECE OF CAKE. I solved online again, always a slower process, but this had some tricksy clues, like for REANIMATE, for which I had loAN a hAnd for a while.

ROPE WORK could be for a mariner or a cowpoke.

And I hit the "check solution" button while cringing, expecting an error at the GINGERED-YUTANG crossing, but, nothing, crack open my eyes, hey I was right!

I wrote my comments and then read Rex. Funny that while we agreed on many things, I come away with a different point of view (Johnny Cash covered U2 and sang on their album, Zooropa.)

Thanks, Joe Deeney, this was fun.

BHS62 10:07 AM  

Real TROUPER, surely — one who works to keep the show going on.

RooMonster 10:08 AM  

Hey All !
Freakin' Shakespeare! Not in the starred clues, but in 5A's Romeo & Juliet one. Had SEnST in, figuring ENE would be nNE, cause how many times is it NNE and not ENE? That was my one-letter DNF after a hard fought battle in that section. Dang!

Troubles up in that N Center, with CUGAT a who?, ERSE looking like Spanish (is it the same?), UPSET ALERTS which is just silliness, and even CORNER STONE toughly clued. I SEEST problems.

Liked the mini theme, don't mind the occasional FriTheme. This one had an apt Revealer and simple to find entries. Still ALERT! UPSET at that DNF!

SE, had SOLo forever, giving me EDoTS for EDITS, and almost convinced myself that it was a thing. "Sure, E-DoTS are used to modify texts", said the ole brain. "Leave it, what else could SOLo be?"

A ton of I, E, T, L in the center swath. No LITE TILE there. (Har)

Got MY SHARONA off just M_S_____, so there's that to Pat myself on the back. When I figured out UNCLE, I smirked. Fun clue.

One F

Nancy 10:08 AM  

Wasn't the title role of the pop singer teeny-bopper heartthrob Conrad Birdie in "Bye Bye Birdie" based on 29A's Conrad TWITTY? If so, I'm not at all sure it was a tribute. I lived through that era and always thought that the vapid TWITTY was exceptionally well-named.

It was A BIT MUCH to have MY SHARONA crossing YUTANG in the SE, where the peculiar word GINGERED (as in livened up) also lurked. That was my least favorite CORNERSTONE of the puzzle. Everything else, considering it's Friday, was a PIECE OF CAKE. And quite enjoyable.

But ROPE WORK was oddly clued (35D). I thought a "mariner's skills" involved navigation and steering. Also knowing the currents. I would have clued ROPE WORK with "A skill of certain rodeo performers" or something like that.

Seth 10:09 AM  

I feel like this could have worked really well as a Sunday puzzle. I'm sure there are tons of valid entries out there that become other valid entries when you remove the U. You could do so much with that!

Barbara S. 10:10 AM  

I got the theme stuff surprisingly fast, but then got snagged in a couple of small areas. Instead of SEEST crossed with ENE in the middle top, I had "senst" crossed with "nne." "Senst" seemed possible as a Shakespearian rendering of "sensed." For KEYED (up), 59A, I first went through "hyped" and then "reved." For 23A, LETS DRY, I really wanted "air dries," which wouldn't fit.

I liked the clues on 15A CORNERSTONE and 24A MUTT.

Any controversy on 55A SOLI (plural of solo?) or 16D SLAT (part of an aircraft wing)? I was sure "flap," but you couldn't make anything else work.

I've got to memorize the name of that language, ERSE. It keeps showing up and it gets me every time. And like @GILL I., I'm shaky on whether "hoi polloi" are the rich folks or the poor.

I thought there was a mini-P.I. theme in ACTS ON and TRACES TO.

And GUS Fring, yikes. Just you wait, GUS. Better try and be sensitive to any UPSET ALERTS.

Mike in Mountain View 10:11 AM  

Rex, my condolences for the loss of your grandmother. May her memory be a blessing.

Nancy 10:20 AM  

I think my comment didn't go through. If this turns out to be a repeat, I apologize:

Wasn't the title role of the pop singer teeny-bopper heartthrob Conrad Birdie in "Bye Bye Birdie" based on 29A's Conrad TWITTY? If so, I'm not at all sure it was a tribute. I lived through that era and always thought that the vapid TWITTY was exceptionally well-named.

It was A BIT MUCH to have MY SHARONA crossing YUTANG in the SE, where the peculiar word GINGERED (as in livened up) also lurked. That was my least favorite CORNERSTONE of the puzzle. Everything else, considering it's Friday, was a PIECE OF CAKE. And quite enjoyable.

But ROPE WORK was oddly clued (35D). I thought a "mariner's skills" involved navigation and steering. Also knowing the currents. I would have clued ROPE WORK with "A skill of certain rodeo performers" or something like that.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

This puzzle made me smile.

albatross shell 10:26 AM  

TROOPER/TROuPERas theme. Nice catch. Me? I do not even know why trouper is right. British I guess. I'll look it up later.

Yesterday I asked if there was a name for a word palindrome as opposed to a letter palindrome. Now @LMS has me asking about what's the name for a "by word sentence-meaning" palindrome. I hope she stops there.

Actually agree with everything LMS said about the puzzle. Well, I do prefer miked. Apostrophes are a pain. Also I thought ROPEWORK was off and did not know why. Rex's comment on this did not help. LMS nailed it.

Am I the only one old or naive enough to remember when "pulled a boner" meant made a dumb mistake? Duh or Doh.

I was looking for a date on the CORNER aT ONE for a long time. Got stood up. It was a strange time. Lunch date I guess.

Easy as pie cause pie is already in your piece of cake.

Stay safe, seriously.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

@Tale Told by an Idiot (8:35)-- This is my favorite of all your posts so far, and I've loved them all. Your humor is a rare treasure at this dark, scary time.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

The demise of Gus Fring has to be the most horrific but satisfying scene ever!

QuasiMojo 10:37 AM  

@Nancy, you're kidding, right? Bye Bye Birdie was based, in jest, on Elvis Presley. And it's ConWAY Twitty. :)

I too remember John V. Sad news.

George 10:42 AM  

Rex, a million thanks for posting a fantastic Conway TWITTY / Loretta Lynn video instead of that insipid MYSHARONA, which I hated even as a 15 year old in 1979.

David 10:44 AM  

A bit of puerile humor to go with the video: Titus

Too easy for a Friday but I did like the theme, even as thin as it was. Who knew U2 went so long without a #1 hit in the States? Given that's a central part of the theme (2 U's, that is) it's neat that it's the central answer.

LMS, I spend a lot of time editing out the extra spaces people needlessly put in word processors because they learned to type on a typewriter, which couldn't alter kerning the way a program automatically does. When I pull out the Selectric to write my representatives I default to two spaces though.

Yes, it was originally trouper, but through common (mis)usage, trooper is now enshrined in dictionaries with a back-formed (i.e. made up) etymology about armed forces or police. Given the puzzle was all about a play by a very famous trouper, you'd think they'd have thought of that. Then they could have clued 54D as "Traditional Peruvian delicacy."

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

With, not without you.

Nancy 10:46 AM  

@Quasi (10:37)-- As Gilda Radner said: "Never mind."

JFe 10:53 AM  

@Rex. JohnV was a very, very nice man. So sad about this news.

RooMonster 10:55 AM  

Forgot to say, the referee clue, I wanted "wrong" in first! Har, wrong since 1975!
Then, when having __KED in, thought of NAKED! Take about an eek image. And right next to BONER! I WILL let that sink in...

RooMonster Can't UnSEEST That! Guy

Tim Aurthur 10:57 AM  

Is there a hidden theme about how starred clues refer to star-crossed lovers in a crossword?

RIP JohnV.

Newboy 10:58 AM  

Truly an AHA!! Moment when WITH OR WITHOUT YOU actually revealed. Nicely played Mr Deeny. And of course today will be plagued by two ear worms, so a curse on both your house bands. It appears that Joe is of the same generation as our two sons so the vocabulary in today’s grid seemed so natural that the puzzle almost filled itself—it’s that wheelhouse thingie solvers adore. GINGERED? was a BONER for me as I’ve never heard that, Too sheltered a life after the kids flew perhaps. I associate Lin Yutang with Topophelia and feel guilty for not having read his other works—so many books, so little time. Maybe I should spend less time on xwords and read seriously....not likely. Hoping that other UUUs had as much fun today as I did, so off to seeeeee.

Karen 11:08 AM  

The puzzle is one of the few things I look forward to during these dark days. So sorry to hear about the loss of John. No words. I have also been doing the NYT spelling bee..its another good distraction and a fun challenge. Stay inside and stay healthy everyone!!

relicofthe60s 11:10 AM  

Rex’s comments were actually milder than I expected. When I saw there was a theme, I thought, Rex is going to s*** a brick. I’m not sure why this wasn’t, say, a Wednesday puzzle. I had my fastest time ever for a Friday, so I would call the puzzle easy.

xyz 11:17 AM  

TROOPER/TROUPER I don't care, State Troopers are good guys

but NEVER ICE TEA, it is tea that is ICED not frozen

But puhleeeze do not give me a (weak-assed at that) THEMED Friday. I wait all week for a quality puzzle. This is rubbish to do this

JC66 11:23 AM  

RIP @JohnV

Nancy from Chicago 11:31 AM  

#Sir Hillary, I feel the same. I haven't been commenting all that much or for all that long either but I am so sorry to hear about John V. I hope all of you are staying safe.

Re: the puzzle, I found it a little less challenging than I expect on a Friday, and I agree with Rex that some of the fill was really old-fashioned ("gingering"?). However, I enjoyed the theme and the puzzle overall.

dadnoa 11:36 AM  

+1 for rope comment. My dad, the sailor in the family, referred to “them” as sheets or lines. Rope was the material.

jberg 11:46 AM  

Yeah, a good Wednesday. I liked the theme a lot, the rest not so much. Being of that age, I knew Lin YUTANG off the bat, and didn't even notice that it wasn't TROuPER (@albatross, it's not a British spelling; a trouper is a member of an acting company, committed to the principle that "the show must go on." Not these days, though.)

But why, why, why use the Greek term hoi polloi to clue the Roman PLEB? I mean, what is happening to our standards here?

And speaking of Conway Twitty/Conrad Birdie (never saw the show -- but even if the character was based on Presley, his name was surely based on Twitty) -- I never saw Game of Thrones, new about the Starks from puzzles, but this is the first time I've known of the Lannisters. I certain resemblance to York and Lancaster, right?

I think ROPEWORK is not just tying knots, but making ornamental objects from elaborately wrapped and knotted rope. I guess it's not 'linework' because the rope is not being used as a line. I haven't looked this up, though, I could be completely wrong.

@Gill, the NYT "Here to help" feature on p. 3 has a recipe a cake with no flour you can make in a mug and cook in a microwave.

I didn't know John V. Sorry to hear that now I never will.

egsforbreakfast 11:46 AM  

I thought that if I once had an ounce of soup to sop up, I could cold call a louse who I’d like to lose. Not wanting to gild the guild with a non-noun, I decided it was better to laud the lad and tout the tot. At that point, I had no recourse but to pound the pond, hose the house and shelter in place.

OffTheGrid 11:57 AM  

@Karen. I do the Spelling Bee, too. I have reached "Genius" level a few times but have never had every word on their list. For those unfamiliar with the BEE, no PPP permitted. If you haven't tried it, take a look.

What? 12:04 PM  

Damn. I misread 36D as favor. Brings to mind as a favor? Otherwise I would have got 100. I’ll give myself 100 anyway since if I had read it right, I would have got it. Misreads of clues don’t count.

So sorry 12:08 PM  

But you didn't and they do.

Z 12:11 PM  

Okay. Composed myself enough to comment. @JohnV is somebody I only ever knew through this blog, yet he, like the rest of you, always felt like a friend.

As for the crossword, the thing that leapt out at me was the PPP. It is high (36%), but struck me as especially dated today. MY SHARONA, Lin YUTANG, Conway TWITTY, Loretta SWIT, Xavier CUGAT. SWIT is 82 and still with us. Doug Fieger died in 2010. The rest died in the last century.

The Only U2 album I’ve ever owned and listened to was War. As far as Irish rock bands from that era, U2 has always been far far far behind The Cranberries in both lyric writing and musicianship. It Might Get Loud was interesting in part because The Edge seemed so out of his depth with Page and White. I really wish somebody like Prince, well, Prince, had been included.

It seems pretty obvious to me that Shakespeare blamed the families and their feuding for the deaths - all the deaths - in that play.

REAL TROOPER v REAL TROuPER has to be on the Top Ten Dumb Arguments list. (Even my etymology links have death in them today).

Be safe everyone.

Whatsername 12:13 PM  

Well this was an interesting Friday and one I assumed would ruffle a few feathers, but a little variety is always a good thing. I had an easy time of it other than a few unfamiliar terms like GINGERED and SOLI. The clue for PELE threw me as I think of him as a soccer player rather than football. In the sense that I know football anyway.

@GILL (8:07) If you can ever find flour, this was posted on FB as a substitute for yeast: Boil a pan of potatoes until tender and save 1 and 1/2 cups of the water. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 cup of flour. Cover and leave overnight in a warm place. The next morning it should be bubbly and smell like yeast. I have no idea how effective it is - but for what it’s worth.

Very sorry to hear about the loss of one of our faithful crossword enthusiasts. I can see from reading the comments that John was highly regarded and popular among the commentariat. I’m a relative newcomer to this forum, but I know that fellow bloggers can become like old friends over time, and I extend my sincere sympathy to those of you who knew him.

Chip Hilton 12:17 PM  

So saddened to hear of JohnV’s passing. I enjoyed his posts.
What LMS said. Why not enjoy cleverness?
Re TROOPER/TROuPER: For what it’s worth, I had to write over a U.

Z 12:21 PM  

Ain’t No Sunshine

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Tale Told for President!

Anonymous 12:39 PM

Anonymous 12:43 PM

MichGirl 12:49 PM  

Thank you! That was my first reaction.

CaryInBoulder 12:49 PM  

Why I’m supposed to care whether a Friday is themed or non-themed is ALIEN to me. I don’t, but maybe next time IWILL.

Before Conway Twitty became a big country star I heard his “It’s Only Make Believe” on Top 40 radio and loved it. And yes his name WAS the inspiration for Conrad Birdie, even if the character was not.

Now on to today’s BONER. As a fix for my suspended baseball jones I’ve gotten back into a great computer game, Out of the Park Baseball. You can simulate any season going back into the 1800s with fairly realistic results. For reasons I won’t go into here, on Opening Day I chose the dead ball era 1912 New York Giants to replay their season. One of the team’s stars (on a roster that included Hall of Fame pitching icons Christy Mathewson and Rube Marquard, who won a still-record 19 straight starts) was first baseman Fred Merkle, whose name has lived on in the game’s lore for over a century for a baserunning miscue when Fred was a 19-year-old rookie. The legendary “Merkle’s BONER” occurred in the 1908 season; it impacted the National League pennant race and indirectly led to the Chicago Cubs only World Series win of the 20th century. Merkle was on first when the Giants got what should have been a game-winning single, but (depending on whose version of the story you believe) he never touched second base. In the melee that followed, as fans poured onto the field, the Cubs did or didn’t finally retrieve the game ball, tagged 2nd base and Merkle was called out. Rather than DUH, you can bet that Giants fans were hollering something more like F****CK! (Add as many UUUs as U like.) Anyway, the game was called a 1-1 tie and replayed at the end of the season in a contest won by the Cubs to give them the pennant by one game over New York.

OK, so now you know how I’m in part dealing with isolation. Reading up on this long ago era of our national pastime has been fascinating and has helped me immerse myself for a time in an alternate universe where the Bloviating Blowtard does not exist to make a horrible situation much worse by petty meanness and astounding incompetence. Merkle’s Boner only caused minor heartbreak, while his will cause untold fatalities and tragedy.

kitshef 1:02 PM  

Further to @CaryinBoulder's remarks: The Glory of Their Times - a.k.a. the best baseball book ever - includes a number of first-hand accounts of the infamed Merkle BONER.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

the dead ball era 1912 New York Giants

When I was a kid, I found my father's glove, outfield IIRC. It was from about that era. Barely recognizable as a baseball glove. Flat as a pancake, fingers completely splayed out, and a dent where the baseball was caught in the center of the palm. Padding under said dent pushed out into the rest of the glove. Must have hurt like the devil to actually use it.

Alina 1:10 PM  

I don't think LEET was outdated, and I'm 21 (though I am a CS major ๐Ÿ™‚)

jae 1:11 PM  

Easy. Pretty cute theme, spotty fill. Liked it. Knowing the two songs helped a lot.

Sorry to hear about JohnV.

If you want a tougher weekend puzzle, I just finished the Feb. 25, 1995 Sat. puz by Bob Klahn. He has a reputation for tough ones and, for me at least, this was no exception. As always, your milage may very.

QuasiMojo 1:12 PM  

@Nancy, see Caryln above, you were half right and I was half wrong. Does that make us a pair? I apologize for questioning your broader knowledge. On many things, btw.

As for boner, great info, thanks. I remember as a tot watching Superman with George Reeves on TV. It was reruns even then. Clark Kent would often say "I pulled a boner" or maybe it was Jimmy Olsen. My sibs and I would giggle and titter and teehee till we were blue in the face. I would imagine they are still in syndication today.

Carola 1:16 PM  

Cute. I enjoyed the wit of the theme, which only hit me at the CAPULET - MONTAGE line - in retrospect I wondered how I could have missed the import of the MONTAGUE - CAPLET line - and savored a slow-motion romp through the nice long entries...until being stymied by two names I didn't know: YU TANG and SHARONA, leading to a DNF at BuSt (for "blowout" - I was looking for a synonym for "rout").

@Tale Told by an Idiot - What a lovely repurposing of the puzzle! It reminded me of the TROuPERS in the Crummles' acting company in Nicholas Nickleby revising the scene so that the lovers do indeed live (the apothecary having mistakenly provided a "harmless cordial" rather than poison).

I'm very sorry to hear about JohnV. It's a shock to hear of someone I "know" dying of covid-19.

Masked and Anonymous 1:18 PM  

U-centric "vowel movements". M&A likes.

Tight, Romeo/Juliet-oriented theme set, includin a nice 5-A "extra credit".

Tough spots included: NOELLE. LEET. YUTANG.
fave fillins included: ABITMUCH. PIECEOFCAKE. MYSHARONA.
No surprise debut words: UPSETALERTS. ROPEWORK.
fave clue goes to the MUTT.

staff weeject pick: ENE. Better clue: {Directions given in Geneva??}.

Thanx for the tricky themed FriPuz, Mr. Joe Deeney. (You are a good rhymer, for Houdini)

Masked & Anonymo6Us


albatross shell 1:19 PM  

Thanks. Gave myself a headslap when reading Dave@1044am and the coined dropped. Maybe a real trouper would give a one man show outside an apartment building with windows or balconies.
Saw a YouTube of an Israeli leading an exercise class that way. Maybe that violates NYC guidelines.

@Z Yes. Leaders and followers of feuds are to blame. The nurse friar and others may be faulted for incompetence and could face legal charges, but moral blame for them is not the play's theme. It's an antiwar play. Hate destroys love. People fight. The young die. Of course the Bard glorifies war and battle elsewhere.

old timer 1:22 PM  

My advice has been, learn basic French to do well on the puzzle (plus if you have even one year of French, you can easily learn the rest from reading books),

Even more basic: learn the conjugation of English verbs:

I love
Thou lovest
He loves (or loveth, in the King James Bible)
We love
You love
They love

"Thou" is the second person singular. "You" is the second person plural. In English, as indeed in Spanish, French, and I think German, it became fashionable to address everyone outside your family, and eventually everyone even in your family, in the plural form (you, vous, vos. (Spanish then moved to vuestra merced (your mercy) which became the current usted, and in the last few decades has moved all the way back to using "tu", the second person singular).

The point being, you should not use "lovest" or today SEEST in any other way. It became a joke to use it in other contexts. That joke has been lame, lamer, lamest for at least 50 years. Stop it!

just wondering 1:47 PM  

@Quasi - I’m curious to know how you read Rex’s comments on a 1999 puzzle when he didn’t start writing the blog until 2006.

Neil 1:53 PM  

Being in the television production business, I have a problem with miked. Mic is short for microphone. Not mike. We say mic’ed up. I’ve seen this several times before in the NYT puzzle.

Blackbird 1:53 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I do not bother with "rules" about what an "appropriate" theme should be. I think the word play with Montague and montage and Capulet and caplet was fun. "Gingered" was a fun answer as well. As for slang being out of date or au courant, who cares? Slang is slang. "The cat's meow" and "the cat's pajamas" was out of date before I was born (1942), but I get a kick out of using those phrases anyway.
What's in one person's wheelhouse (hmmm, is that phrase out of date?) may not be in another person's wheelhouse, and "O what of that, O what of that, What is there left to say?" BTW, if W.B. Yeats is not in someone's wheelhouse, the quote is from "The Curse of Cromwell" by W.B. Yeats.

If some people, like Rex, think this puzzle is half-baked, and others, like me, find it a toothsome treat, such is the way of the world. In honor of the way of the world, I am adapting an old saying I heard many a year ago, to say "Three crossword puzzle solvers, five opinions". This is not the first time I have adapted the old saying. I am a psychoanalyst, and long ago I adapted the old saying to say "Three analysts, five opinions". Those of you who may recognize the original old saying may also understand why I am not citing that old saying in the original words, and those of you who do not recognize it may either try to find it using a search engine, or try to figure it out, or give up, or may not even care about it at all. "So it goes."

tea73 2:01 PM  

So sorry about JohnV's passing. He was a lovely voice on this blog.

I knew Rex would have a fit about a theme on Friday. While I love me a good themed puzzle, I am sorry he got done out of his themeless. I did think it was funny he thought there were too few themed answers when so often he complains the constructor crammed too many in. I figure we got five plus a Shakespeare quote all from the same play.

The one and only time I have heard BONER used as defined today was Obama apologizing for something stupid he had done. I miss having a president who could admit to a mistake.

Whatsername 2:03 PM  

@Karen (11:08) and OffTheGrid (11:57) Thanks for the tips on the Spelling Bee, sounds like fun.
@Z (12:21) One of my favorite songs. Brings back some very happy memories from what now seems like another lifetime.
@jae (1:11) Thanks for the recommendation on the 1995 puzzle. I’ll definitely pull that one up for the weekend.

Smith 2:04 PM  

@ LMS Yep, two spaces after a period. Also +1 for sheets, definitely not ropes. Not familiar with lines in that sense.

ani 2:06 PM  

@Z many thanks for posting the Withers video

Smith 2:16 PM  

@ anon 10:28
The episode was called Face Off. I *never* remember episode titles. But that one...impossible to forget.

Joaquin 2:18 PM  

@ Blackbird (1:53) - We share the same birth year and, apparently, the same heritage. And now, it seems, the same opinion. Rules, wheelhouses, and slang should not impede one's enjoyment of solving puzzles.

Greg 2:18 PM  

As a professional opera singer, I will say (once again), that divas do not sing solos, or SOLI (the Italian plural). That term is used in orchestral and choral scores, as in "solo oboe", or soli bassi. In opera, the term for a piece written for a single voice is "aria", not "solo". We refer to "the tenor aria from La Traviata", not "the tenor solo..." SOLI is indeed a legitimate musical term, but not if you're going to drag it into the opera realm by using the word DIVAS in the clue.

GILL I. 2:21 PM  

Just got back and read @Rex and my blogger friends. So sorry to hear about John V. While I've only met just a few people in real who belong to this blog, I sometimes feel all of you are a part of my family get together in the morning. And speaking of friends.....:
@Whatsername...Wow...Cool beans. Thanks, amiga. NOW...if I can find some flour!!!! Someone told me that using baking soda lemon and vinegar does the same. I don't have any lemons nor potatoes! I wonder if it leaves a funny taste in the bread? @jberg. Sorry, but eating cake in a mug is not my cuppa. Hah! continued story of the COVID-19. I go out to run errands for those that just can't. I'm very careful. I wear a mask, I wear gloves and I sanitize everything. I have found that there are three types of people I encounter. The first two make me madder than hell. Just today I went to find some hearing aid batteries for my sweet elderly neighbor. They had them at CVS. I had to ask a clerk for help. He was a young lad; no mask, no gloves. I asked him why he wasn't taking precautions. He seemed happy to be able to chat with someone. He told me he NEVER gets sick; this whole thing is a stupid political conspiracy; nobody cared or did much when people died of AIDS; old people are going to die of the flu. I told him this doesn't have a cure yet and he could be the next in line....(sigh)....The second is the damn hoarder. Just last night I saw a little clip of a man being interviewed on our local news. He was in line at the grocery store and his cart was piled high. He was elderly and admitted that he had a freezer full of food, his pantry had all kinds of canned goods yet he felt a NEED to keep stocking up on food. I hate hoarders. Do you think of anybody else that must go without because you're scared there won't be enough canned pinto beans to be found? WHY IS EVERYBODY HOARDING FLOUR AND EGGS????? The third is the one I applaud.... Those that will do the scary business of tending to the sick and to the work that must get done. Too many to name but there are a TON of people out and about because they have to.
Just all of safe, be smart, social distancing is the new norm. If you run out of hand sanitizer go to Google and it will tell you how to make your own, order a bidet on Amazon if you don't have TP and make your own mask out of your used old sheet.
Stay safe.....AND if anyone know where I can buy flour in Sacramento, please let me know. I want to make stuffed Bagel Balls with cream cheese and Greek yogurt.

Pusillnonymous 2:24 PM  

I blame “Alien” for my initial fill of 30D as YUTANI.

Anoa Bob 2:24 PM  

I guess I'm in the minority on this one. It was like pulling teeth. TWITTY TWEET LEET? GELID CUGAT YUTANG? SOLI NOELLE PELE? A BIT too MUCH for me.

Now hear this, now hear this: If someone tells you that there is no ROPE WORK on a boat or ship, they are at best misinformed and may even be a landlubber [gasp!] who is trying to appear more nautically sophisticated than they really are.

Sure, there are sheets, halyards, dinghy painters, anchor rodes, dock lines, tiller tamers, downhauls, preventers, vangs, etc., but there are also bolt ROPEs, man ROPEs and bell ROPEs.

That is all. Continue ship's work.

Barbara S. 2:27 PM  

A lot of people have commented on 51A, GINGERED (up) with clue: Livened (up). On 11 March, we had 60A GIN UP with clue: Contrive. So I guess this is essentially the same word, abbreviated in the 11 March puzzle. Although, wait, says that there are two theories as to the origin of GIN UP
1. "Ginger up", the practice of applying ginger to a horse's privates before it is shown at auction to make it appear lively. (Good grief)
2. "Engine": an earlier meaning of the word "engine" was to start or begin, another meaning is to contrive.
And there's reference to the fact that Pres. Obama popularized the expression GIN UP.

OK, FWIW, take of that what you will.

thfenn 2:30 PM  

@Gill, speaking of mixing up hoi pilloi and hoity toity I went with snob before PLEB, clearly confirming I must be among (the) hoi pilloi. Thought the puzzle was great, but then, I'm happy because it's Friday and not only did I quickly enjoy the theme, the appearance of which I didn't realize was a problem, but also finished without any cheating. So, celebration time.

@Z, I love the Cranberries, but not sure U2 is far far far behind. Just a little, more like #1 and #2 on my list, i'd say. Was just playing their version of Unchained Melody, and love it.

Sorry for all our losses today. Hope you're all staying safe.

addisondewitt 2:34 PM  

Missed completing five puzzles in row by one square (of course without help and without Googling). Here, it made no sense but I replaced the crossing N in gingered and boner with a G. But I just couldn’t contemplate how “gingered” could be the right answer to “livened up.”

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Speaking of Spanish, the clue for 52A should have been ¡No problema! not No Problemo!

CT2Napa 2:55 PM  

If you ngram - my trooper,my trouper - you will find that "trooper" appears around 1870 and "trouper" not until 1908. Trouper then surges to a peak in the 1940s. Trooper takes off in the early 70s and now maintains a substantial lead over trouper.

BTW I cannot get Weird Al's "My Balogna" to stop.

Nancy 3:18 PM  

@GILL and @thfenn -- Put me in squarely the camp of those who can never remember if hoi polloi are the piteous, downtrodden masses or the obscenely privileged "haves". Fortunately, the crosses made it easy today. By tomorrow, I will have forgotten again.

Re: Homemade masks. (For women only). A tip from a writer of a letter to the NYT today: Any woman who has an old bra she doesn't wear any longer, can cut it down the middle and end up with two makeshift masks.

I actually cut one up this morning. It works. It also looks ridiculous. But, miracle of miracles, I was able to breathe through it okay. It's the "Will-I-be-able-to-breathe?" aspect of masks that has kept me out of one thus far. I've been instead turning my face to the building wall whenever I pass someone on a sidewalk that's too narrow. So far I've been able to maintain adequate distance in Central Park, but as the weather gets nicer, that's likely to change. As far as stores are concerned -- I haven't been in one of any kind for three weeks. So far, I haven't had to send in my place younger neighbors who've volunteered to help out. That would make me feel responsible for their safety. All places -- restaurants, markets and pharmacies have delivered. I now pay by credit card and add a tip, and the doorman sends it up in the elevator. One pharmacy charged me an additional $12 to use a messenger service, but, hey, that's what one saves one's pennies for.

Let me know, ladies, if the bra thing works for you. I never did buy a mask and I don't want to deprive a hospital worker or first responder of one in any event.

Old Actor 3:19 PM  

When John Barrymore was asked if he thought Romeo and Juliet had "consumated" their relationship before they died, he replied, "They certainly did in the Chicago company".

john towle 3:21 PM  

Sailors do rope work (rope-yarn Sunday) whereas crafters do macramฤ— Rope-yarn Sunday can be awarded to a ship’s crew any day of the week. It consists of anything sailors enjoy doing to relieve the monotony of long cruises. Cribbage, acey deucey, singalongs, scrimshaw, rope work and the like. Going to sea can have its moments.



JC66 3:32 PM  


FYI, Duane Reade doesn't charge for deliveries.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Best use of 'ginger':

I think it was HS or undergrad when I ran across it.

Warden 3:52 PM  

Working in a prison, the prisoners and the correctional officers liked to call their supervisors boss. It means “Big old sack of s#$&”. Yes, boss and on it boss sound respectful but sly.

I liked the puzzle as I only needed to work out Yutang and leet. One of my best Friday times.

GILL I. 4:00 PM  

@Nancy....Thanks for the old bra laugh. Can you imagine wearing those pointy ones on your face? I've read that they are only good if you are a face toucher (I am) so you should wear one . I can't even imagine touching a stiletto on my cheek - even if my nose itched......

pabloinnh 4:03 PM  

Thanks for retelling the Merkel story. I love that stuff (and baseball) too and am forced into reruns, which work, sort of. I hope you've seen Ken Burns' "Baseball" series, which is outstanding.

Have dear friends in Gold Hill--ever get up there?

Unknown 4:04 PM  


No flour, no yeast:

GILL I. 4:14 PM  

@Unknown 4:04..BUT I NEED CHOCOLATE AS WELL. But thanks. I'm saving the recipe......

QuasiMojo 4:23 PM  

@just wondering... Thank you for your query. It was March 6, 2009. I was off by a decade. I did two in the same afternoon and got them confused. Being cooped up for so long has addled my brain a bit. Well, to be honest, it could just be senility.

chefwen 4:24 PM  

So sorry to hear of @John V passing, he truly was a nice man, you could tell by just seeing his avatar.

Loved the puzzle once I caught on, took me way too long to do so.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

I guess you'll have to get over it.

Jofried 5:19 PM  

I thought the puzzle was fun and not too hard. I remember reading @JohnV’s posts, very sad to hear that he passed away. And I also love Spelling Bee!

Plum 5:34 PM  

In reference to the letter Rex shared yesterday, what is seen cannot now be unseen. As a member of an age group vulnerable to COVID-19, fill related to a TV show from the 70s, LORETTA SWIT, seems dated even to me. As for BONER, well that was just embarrassing. Last Saturday, HAUDENOSAUNEE was the answer to “Native name for Iroquois Confederacy.” As a resident of Western New York, that was an easy answer. Some commentators found it obscure. It shouldn’t be. The democratic structure of the Haudenosaunee served as a model for the US Constitution. It’s culture also promoted women’s rights and respect for the environment that many are now revisiting for knowledge & guidance. Having a diverse staff in more authoritative roles would encourage a higher caliber of crossword and avoid fill that serves as a set-up for a Bart Simpson snicker.

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

Too bad another U snuck in with cUgat crossing Upset Alerts... the puzzle would have been cleaner with only the 2 U's (not including U2!).

CDilly52 6:47 PM  

All this staying at home means that more folks have tome to comment. Love it!

Nothing wrong with this puzzle in my book. I have been absolutely unable to predict what @Rex will say any more. I am with @LMS today. And in fact her comment about having high school students use the trial of Friar Lawrence or Nurse as a learning tool reminded me of doing exactly that while I was in law school. Thanks for the memory, @LMS.

My evidence prof in law school was a true Renaissance man. I adored every class he taught but evidence was the best. We read “Helter Skelter” about the Manson murders to have a factual framework to use when discussing the rules of evidence and the final was a mock trial based on one of several choices from literature. Professor Sobelson was so well read and quite the Shakespeare buff. We had several choices but my group tried poor Nurse as a co-conspirator. It was good fun and a wonderful break from the norm! “R & J” and “Twelfth Night” were my high school intro to The Bard. I was Instantly hooked and embarrassed myself countless times with dufus Neanderthal boyfriends trying to impress them with my knowledge of the sonnets. Ah those were the days.

Pretty easy today except ROPE WORK and KEYED UP. That little chunk probably took me half as long as the remainder because ROPE KNOT was the only thing that made any (albeit not much) sense to me. When Ingot the CAKE at the end of 52A, COY for 54D didn’t seem to make much sense. Other than that, breezy and fun. I admire the constructor’s “themelet” because it is something I would never have noticed.

CDilly52 6:48 PM  

Well put @Plum. Thank you.

Anoa Bob 6:49 PM  

Okay, okay, you can stop the snide cards and letters about the glitch in the Bolt ROPE link above. Here's a better one: Ease the Bolt ROPE to keep your sail in shape.

CDilly52 7:07 PM  


As regards fabric masks. They need to be rinsed each day after being worn in a 1:10 bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Soak in the solution for 5 minutes then rinse in hot water and let it dry. Or dry in the dryer.

In the rural counties I serve, the volunteer Fire Departments, private ambulance service and other folks required to continue working (including me), have no PPE. . . NONE. Some of the churches have made scores of masks from odds and ends of fabric. Several DIY patterns popped up almost immediately. We are all wearing them now. My personal favorite is my one with the unicorns and rainbows-kids PJ material I think. The lack of preparedness nationwide is unforgivable. Is this the best the USA can do? I

Sorry, but I am I a perpetual state of frustration seeing these folks on the front lines with no protection. Stay safe and wear your masks!

webwinger 7:37 PM  

Got to the puzzle and the blog late today. Puzzle was fine—thought the one-note semi-theme added to the experience. Many great comments today added considerably more. None topped @old actor’s 3:19 John Barrymore quote, LOL!

Saddened by the news about JohnV. While I continue to believe we will emerge from this dark era with far fewer than predicted losses collectively, on an individual basis they are keenly felt. (BTW, having not heard from JOHN X for some time has me concerned. He’s hopefully just locked up somewhere, while the rest of us are locked down…)

Joe Dipinto 9:15 PM  

@CDilly52 – It's more correctly "doofus". Doofus Neanderthal boyfriends. From the original Latin dufus.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

“My Sharona” features prominently in a pretty good book I read recently: “After Her” by Joyce Maynard.

Burma Shave 11:12 AM  


but I’m UPSET, and ABIT TESTY, too,


rondo 11:37 AM  

Before I got down to WITHORWITHOUTYOU I audibly chuckled at the MONTAGUE/CAPLET line. So I guess I liked that. I did have the MY__ filled already, so MYSHARONA a near gimme.

ITIS ALLNEWs with TASS in the corners.

Get back, Loretta SWIT. Yeah baby.

A PIECEOFCAKE, save for the Peon over-written with PLEB.

spacecraft 12:41 PM  

Wow, every one of my objections was listed by OFC. It's as if he saw into my head and copied.

@pabloinh: If you've seen the movie "2010," a poor sequel to "2001: A Space Odyssey," there's a moment in there when the cosmonaut tries to use American idioms and gets them mixed up. "Piece of pie." And again, "Easy as cake." That's about as witty as that film gets. Clarke and Kubrick deserved so much better...

The cuteness of U-less proper names forming other words is more than nullified by the mangled fill. Maybe OFC is right: themed puzzles don't belong in Fri/Sat slots. Ms. SWIT is unanimous DOD. Bogey.

Diana, LIW 1:43 PM  

I give myself tons of "atta girl" points for persistence, through many erasures and thoughts of giving up. My only concern with the theme was I wish there were more dropped "U's" to use. Ya know, don't youse?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, with a Philly accent

Diana, LIW 1:50 PM  

PS - Musings as I read the clues...How many career goals can a footballer have? I mean, I know of many people who do have more than one career...

Lady Di, Sorry, Not Sorry

WilsonCPU 2:15 PM  

Old Actor - Great story!
Rex - I agreed with every one of his comments, including amazingly the last letter entered and for the same reason.
(I can’t believe GINGERED is in-the-language, but maybe that’s just me.) Probably the first time I’ve ever seen eye-to-eye with Rex to that extent!

El Dingo 2:44 PM  

Amen, brother. They’re TROUPERs because of course the show must go on!

El Dingo 2:50 PM  

@Smith: Even Bill Gates now counts the archaic two spaces as an error. As for ropes: Yes, once they are employed, they are lines—sheets, halyards, Whatever. But many theatrical terms come from sailing ships and sailors... who were often hired as stage crews because, of course, they “knew the ropes.”

rainforest 2:57 PM  

WITH a theme or WITHOUT one. Who cares?
The "theme" material was clever, including the grid-spanning revealer (great song). MY SHARONA (also great) brought back memories.

The themeless part of the puzzle was well-done too, especially A BIT MUCH, CORNERSTONE, and REAL TROOPER, even if it should have a "u", but hey without a you, it fits with the theme.

The cluing was pretty good, the crosses were helpful in many cases, esp with SEEST, and the overall fill was OK by me.
Liked it.

rondo 4:14 PM  

@D,LIW - now that's funny. I, too, have had several career goals.

leftcoaster 5:07 PM  

Pretty easy -- especially the theme and revealer, and much of the fill -- until hitting the SE.*

Got cornered and hung up there in a cluster of YUTANG and MYSHARONA crossed by GINGERED and SOLI.

*See clue 41D.

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

Etymologically speaking, trooper is older than trouper. However, the phrase, a real trouper is older than a real trooper. I say let's WRESTLE until somebody cries UNCLE!

Waxy in Montreal 5:52 PM  

TROOPER has been acceptable for many years. Fondly remember "Puttin' on the Ritz" from Young Frankenstein which (the song) was written by Irving Berlin in the late 1920's and all sources have the lyrics as "Dressed up like a million dollar trooper / Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper / Super-duper!". 'Nuff said.

It may be dismissed as a mini-theme but CAPULET/CAPLET MONTAGUE/MONTAGE along with the reveal as well as the extra reference at 5A made this a memorable Friday IMHO. A pleasure to solve.

Anonymous 1:00 AM  

"With or Without You" was their big hit. But I like "New Years Day" (longer version that is not censored) so much more. The Edge is phenomenal in that great Irish Anthem.

Yes we can all get along!๐Ÿ˜€ 6:45 PM  

Huzzah! Wunnerful!

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