1968 swimming gold medalist Debbie / FRI 5-1-20 / 1898 chemistry discovery / Strategy game with disks / Chess maneuver with French name / Eponym in candy store / 16th century pope who owned pet elephant / Red-cased import / Hindu festival of colors

Friday, May 1, 2020

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Medium- to Medium-Challenging (7 flat)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: REVERSI (22A: Strategy game with disks) —
Reversi is a strategy board game for two players, played on an 8×8 uncheckered board. It was invented in 1883. Othello, a variant with a change to the board's initial setup, was patented in 1971. // There are sixty-four identical game pieces called disks (often spelled "discs"), which are light on one side and dark on the other. Players take turns placing disks on the board with their assigned color facing up. During a play, any disks of the opponent's color that are in a straight line and bounded by the disk just placed and another disk of the current player's color are turned over to the current player's color. The object of the game is to have the majority of disks turned to display your color when the last playable empty square is filled. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was dull and disappointing. Dull (to me) because ... well, the long answers just aren't snazzy enough (ironic, given how many "z"s are in "snazzy" and how much this puzzle seems to like "z"s). Disappointing because ... well, because of the "z"s, to be honest. Cramming one corner of the "z"s really belies a misunderstanding of what makes (themeless) grids great. Fetishizing high-value Scrabble tiles ain't it. I mean, hi, yeah, I see your seven (?) "z"s there in the E and NE, along with a stray "J" and "X," but those letters do not have inherent pizzazz. How about spreading some of those letters around and maybe making the rest of your grid more interesting. There's just something about the look-at-me showiness of all those "z"s that I find really off-putting. I also find RPMS and LEOX off-putting, though for different reasons, obviously. The "z" corner is annoying, but it's also, weirdly, the best section of the puzzle. Everything else feels slightly musty or limp. Why does the puzzle imagine that everyone who solves is superduper into other games like REVERSI and chess (ENPASSANT)? This puzzle just seemed like it was written by a guy for other guys. Guys who aced PRECALC and think UKULELES are cool. Oh, and I renew my objection to all river answers that begin RIVER.

[Exceptions made, as always, for ADELE]

DO A JIG is today's entry in the EAT A SANDWICH sweepstakes. I drink cocktails fairly regularly but I've never actually encountered a GIN SLING in the wild (or in my house) (1A: Cocktail often garnished with a lemon twist). I also didn't know Paul McCartney wrote ORATORIOs (14A: Paul McCartney wrote one about Liverpool). I had the Bactrian camels in ASIA, which... yeah, is right, though not specific enough today, it seems (1D: Home to Bactrian camels = GOBI). I have very little memory of Tom Sawyer (beyond the fence-painting and maybe a girl named Becky and maybe ... a cave?), and I have zero memory of his extended family (33A: Half brother of Tom Sawyer). So many good SIDs, and this is who we get? DAMN. I only just now got how "bar" connects to OENOLOGY (60A: Study for the bar?). I'm guessing it's because you can order wine at the bar ... or a wine bar ... I associate liquor and beer more with "bars," so that clue whiffed, from my end. Great clue for MIXOLOGY, though, if that ever comes up. Cool to see HOLI here; surprised we don't see it (much) more. NICELY DONE and PLAY IT SAFE are nicely done but pretty safe, and overall there's just not a lot to recommend this one. It's not bad. But the "z" stuff seems both show-offy and misguided, and yet nothing much *outside* the "z" stuff holds much interest.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

144 comments:

Joaquin 12:09 AM  

"This puzzle just seemed like it was written by a guy for other guys. Guys who aced PRECALC and think UKULELES are cool." ... W. T. F.?

puzzlehoarder 12:09 AM  

I almost got this thing done but I was tripped up by my weak spelling again. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how a NET was a "Bit of hardware." Thirty years of entering UKE has caught up with me.

Brian 12:26 AM  

Easy peasy lemon squeezy

jae 12:34 AM  

Bottom half easy, top half tougher, with NE the toughest corner (PIAZZA did not come easily). I partially agree with @Rex on this one. It seemed a tad meh when you got passed the NE. That said, it was pretty solid, liked it.

@Mod following up on Barbara’s question from yesterday - Does “page view” mean the blog comments were viewed of does it just reflect # of hits on Rex’s site?

Jeff 12:46 AM  

I fell into a funny trap of putting in Ricola instead of RC Cola, leaving me to eventually complete Pre Cal I which seeemed like a perfectly cromulent solution, took me forever to figure out what I had wrong!

Greg Charles 12:53 AM  

Humph. Ukuleles are cool. Also, I don’t think "belies" means what you think it means. So there!

okanaganer 1:08 AM  

"Guys who aced PRECALC and think UKULELES are cool" == me me me!! Me.

At my Dad's memorial service, at the entrance we had a table with a candle and his ukulele. And my sister still plays it with a passion. (And by "it" I mean the same object, 20 years later). And then there's Izzy doing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

"Study for the bar?" just had to be MIXOLOGY. Much better answer.

SID = "___ Vicious". Or "Toy Story bad kid."

As usual, can't really say Rex is wrong, except the puzzle was pretty fun. Lots of decent 8, 9, 10 letter answers. In short, 27 down!

Frantic Sloth 1:22 AM  

Hang on ...I think I lost a limb in there...
Nope. Still all me. Just battered and bloodied from a worthy opponent.

Zounds! Ever look over a grid once you've finished and wondered "Why was this so difficult? I'm familiar with all those words (well, except JAINISM), but to me it felt like translating Greek ...into Sanskrit during the entire solve.
Nearly, anyway - only word I entered with any certainty was ADA. That's not exactly an impressive start.

This is all good, though. I've put away my "nitting" needles today - and not just because I can't lift them.

Wheelhouses are overrated - this was a gas and a blur and a fine how-do-you-do, which is(are) so much better.
I'ma gonna DOAJIG in celebration!

NICELYDONE!

Shoutout to @Z who seems to have extended his comments empire into grids now. ;-)

Anoa Bob 1:29 AM  

With 36 black squares this grid has an early-week, themed-puzzle feel and it really needs a lot of pizzzazzz to make up for all those dreary three- and four letter entries. I'm talking about the likes of PUZO, RAVI, LEOX, and some ACAI JUS. HOLI OLES!

Played chess back when my brain was more supple so got EN PASSANT right away. RIVER STYX is nice.

I'm sure the drink exists but in several years of bartending during graduate school, I never heard of a GIN SLING. Closest I remember was a Singapore SLING.

Joe Dipinto 1:31 AM  

@Rex → This puzzle just seemed like it was written by a guy for other guys.
Wtf?? That looks like something AutoComplete randomly plugged in because it assumed you would want to say it at some point.

I'd forgotten about Paul's "Liverpool Oratorio". It got a lot of medThis puzzle just seemed like it was written by a guy for other guysia attention when it was premiered. Oh crap it's doing it to me now. Stop it, AutoComplete.

Anyway, I mostly liked this puwritten by a guyzle. Okay this is getting to guy other guys be a problem now guy guy guy guy guy no women. I don't think I can finishwhere are the women written by a women for other guys? Damn, AutoComplete!

Just forget it.

written by a puzzle for other puzzle

guy puzzle


Sigh. Some guys singing.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

I liked the "z"s a bunch and lost some time trying to make 1A into some kind of FIZZ. I do love ukuleles, but resented wading through precalc to get to calc.

egsforbreakfast 1:47 AM  

If you go to xwordinfo.com and read Trenton Charlson’s exuberant self-review of his lovely puzzle, and then read Rex’s snarling, venomous take on it, you will have tasted the fruits of the garden of good and evil. This sort of commentary (mine) is, of course, just what OFL wants, as he has come to realize that controversy is what keeps eyeballs glued to the blog. It is surprisingly similar to the Trump approach.

It was a difficult but totally fair puzzle to me, with the entire east side actually easy, while the west was hard. But whatever criticisms one wishes to make, please don’t let them be, like most of Rex’s, some variant on”I’ve never heard of this widely known thing”.

Kevin 1:47 AM  

Rex’s love for sexism (i.e., he loves to find it and wallow around it until everyone else sees it) is on overdrive. What in the world does a mention of a ukulele have to do with gender? Moreover, why do you see PRECALC and get a masculine vibe?

Save the virtue signaling for when there is something meriting a mention at least.

Loren Muse Smith 2:22 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 3:51 AM  
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JOHN X 4:20 AM  

The minute I saw math and a stringed instrument I knew this puzzle wasn't for chicks or sissies.

Hands off, bitch! This is a man's puzzle.

Joaquin 5:45 AM  

Think ukuleles aren't cool? Check this out:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga_EP7RObKw

Loren Muse Smith 5:54 AM  

Man oh man was this hard. It took me forever to get a toehold anywhere. Finally entered the grid with OLES and fought tooth and nail for like an eternity. I’m crying natick on the COHAN/HOLI cross, which dealt me my dnf. (I guessed “Cowan/Woli”)

My fretful thing to be in was a “snit” at first. This after I considered “mood,” and thought about Maine’s “weather” rolling in or little Jimmy with a “temperature,” – using a general word to describe a more specific iteration (worse) of the idea. Temperature is a high temperature, mood is a bad mood, weather is bad weather. Cool.

Kind of in a bass-akwards way, AWEsome and amazing have lost their bigness and have become pretty mundane. On Vanderpump Rules, I saw someone ushered to an ordinary table in a restaurant, and she said, Amazing. Thanks. Amazing? An amazing table would be the one at La Tour d’Argent that affords a spectacular view of Notre Dame. The one that your waiter switches you to after he sees that you speak French and are affable and order the dish he recommends and Mary Matalin and James Carville are eating there at the same time and their table isn’t as amazing and I’m totally bragging. Bought a glass duck on the way out to commemorate my amazing experience.

Rex – in the spirit of all the Z’s, my camels were in “Gaza” at first.

Loved the clue for OOZE. I bet what we think we ooze isn’t what the oozee observes. I see myself oozing exuberance when I teach, but I imagine it’s received as strident desperation.

ADS – not just on your Facebook feed. They’re part of your every waking moment. They’re bothering you on the phone. They’re falling out of your magazine. They’re appearing at the bottom of the screen while your watching Listen to Your Heart. Seriously? They’re sneaking in ads for other shows *while* you’re watching your show? I put the remote up in front of my face to block it so I can win that little game, buddy. (This remote maneuver also works for blocking out all the kissing that embarrasses me to no end.)

GIN SLING garnish. Who knew? I won’t judge you for saying I’m gonna go lay down for a bit, but I’ll silently judge the crap out of you if you order your club soda with a twist of lime. Uh. That’s a wedge of lime, ok? The bartender probably hasn’t prepped any lime twists.

Rex – point well taken about the Z corner. But I did find myself going back and looking at it several times in admiration. XWord info rates constructors on their scrabbly-ness. Trenton is #3 out of 100 and has published 21 NYT puzzles. Patrick Berry (229 puzzles) and Liz Gorski (219 puzzles) are not even in the top 100. Neither is Peter Collins, one of my faves. I still enjoy some scrabble crunch, but I do accept that overall smoothness trumps scrabbly-ness. (Those (mainly anonymice) who think Rex is grumpy ‘cause he can’t get a puzzle published – he’s had 7 in the NYT, and he’s not in the top 100 scrabble list, either. There are several already in the top half who’ve published only 10 puzzles. He walks the walk, guys.)

The other thing I kept going back and looking at was the clue for DO A JIG. I almost spewed my coffee when I read it and laughed each subsequent time I read it. “Celebrate with a sprightly dance.” My mother-in-law and her friends when they successfully complete a 3000-piece puzzle. Hah. Until I understood that some sailor doing a jig isn’t necessarily old, dancing in a sprightly fashion felt like something an older person, me, would do. (Right, @nanpilla?!) Now I’m accepting that all my dancing at prom last year oozed not coolness, but rather sprightliness.

CDilly52 5:55 AM  

@JohnX: Time to MAN UP?

webwinger 6:13 AM  

@Rex: Dull and disappointing? How could you?! I found sparkle galore, and I’m willing to bet that will be the commentunitarian consensus.

First things first: I had a one letter DNF or FWE. Completed grid, no reward music. Searched for at least 15 minutes in VAIN. Wondered if the NYT app could somehow be in error. Noticed the blog was up early/late, so scrutinized RP’s grid and finally found my mistake—e for U at cross of 62D and 64A. UKeLELES had seemed so right, and NeT, as in LAN, well that’s quite a bit of hardware, isn’t it? So, although my streak is still technically intact in the app (at 488 days, 123 without googling), there is no joy in Mudville...

But how about that puzz, guys (and gals who are man enough to solve it)? I’ll leave it to others to sing its particular praises; for now think it’s enough to say NICELY DONE, Trenton Carlson!

Anonymous 6:19 AM  

"This puzzle just seemed like it was written by a guy for other guys. Guys who aced PRECALC and think UKULELES are cool."

Never mind the offensive sexism, the blogger has clearly run out of things to say.

sf27shirley 6:25 AM  

That first name at Woodstock got me. The usual Arlo didn't work. Oh wait, ends in an I so it must be Jimi...nice trickery in this puzzle.

CDilly52 6:30 AM  

Happy Mayday and Law Day! I will start this morning with my inaugural observation for May that @Rex rips a puzzle that challenges him-one in which the answers are not immediately within his reach, in his wheelhouse, whatever. This absolutely is a pattern with OFL. I am going to count this month.

Kudos @egsforbreakfast; you beat me to the punch on comparing our constructor’s comments with @Rex. Such analysis with thought behind it. Not just invective for the sake of invective.

NeT before NUT-not deliberately, just a typo, mixology (yes, the better answer - shoutout to @okanaganer), and I really did not not NOT want OENOLOGY, because that is just wrong. ‘Cuz I said so. I also had trouble sussing out STEW mostly because I misread the clue as a “frightful” thing to be in so was looking for something more fear laden. So we have discovered that I have difficulty both reading and typing!! Sheesh.

Put me in the “I loved all the Zs” camp and find nothing in the least off putting. In fact, FIZZLES OUT and FUZZY WUZZY were my very first write-ins. Go me! And that is the sum total of things I felt confident about. Yes, even with all the Zzzzzzs. I had a short nanosecond of doubt since it is Themeless Friday, but I went for it and it planned out.

My camels lived in ASIA for a hot second, but that gave me no hope for the cocktail. I am a cocktail gal, and I do like my gin, especially excited
About the proliferation of small batch very herbaceous concoctions coming out now, so my camels decided to show their abode as GOBI to allow me a GIN “something” for 1. Had GIN rIcky in there and that made the NW the last area to remain blank. The GIN SLING is reminiscent of the old speakeasy, secret knock on the door and the bouncer looking through the peephole before admitting a member, lest he be accompanied by Eliot Ness or a posse of T-men.

This was everything a Friday is supposed to be, with some cluing that was confusing to devilish! I really liked seeing the whole RIVER STYX as I passed over and indeed felt as if this puzzle had sent me straight to hell! Finished but only after scouring the grid for a typo- oh yeah change the NeT to NUT and the happy music falls from the sky!!

sf27shirley 6:33 AM  

LOL

Z 6:50 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - LOL! After I conquer Crossworld total real world domination is sure to follow.

I lean Team Rex today, but for mostly different reasons. Apple varieties and you foist one of the most mundane off on us? Why? Because it’s 15 letters long? If you’re going to go apples, maybe go “Best apple for pies” for “northern spy” (seriously, if your pie has any other apple variety in it your pie is suboptimal). But, no, let’s go with the most middle of the road variety because it fits.
I also wasn’t overly fond of GIN SLING. I’m sure some will tell me how it’s all the rage or something, but to me it has a bad noir movie feel to it, the kind that wants to be The Maltese Falcon but fails miserably. Also, I’m generally opposed to any cocktail that involves simple syrup. A friend asked for cognac recipes on Facebook recently, so I shared mine: Pour 1 oz of cognac into a snifter. Drink.
I do agree with Rex on the Z’s. Seriously, if you have to resort to snoring and a weak scrabble clue, maybe it’s not working. Is there any doubt that Patrick Berry could make a high scrabble count puzzle if he wanted to? But he doesn’t. Be more like Patrick Berry, constructors.

OTOH - Rex’s RIVER plaint is all wet. STYX RIVER? If ever there was a river that should have RIVER first, it is the STYX. I also think UKULELES are as cool as the player. There’s a reason this has 871 million views.
I also liked the ecumenical bent of this puzzle, but then when this is your kid you learn a little about eastern religions.

@Joe DiPinto - Funny. That comment got the arched eyebrow here, too. But it did prompt me to take another look. I’m not sure I quite buy Rex’s contention, but at the same time it’s 6 men to 3 women in the puzzle, and two of the women are LOU and MEYER which makes it look like they really had to work hard to get more than a single woman in the puzzle. So maybe he’s not completely off base.

Lewis 6:55 AM  

Some random observations:
* Wanted NECK (as in guitar) for [Fretful thing to be in].
* My first thought at filling in FUZZY WUZZY was "Bears have fur! They're not hairless!" Then I recited the rhyme in my head.
* Living these days... I couldn't squeeze AVOIDANCE into three squares for [The proper task of life...].
* I went "Ooh!" at the clump of words in one area with that sound: LOU / OOZE / LOOPS / PUZO .
* After a sparse first pass, suddenly my wheelhouse synced with Trenton's, and it felt like I went from zero to 60 for a thrilling ride, and thank you for that, sir. And by the way, Trenton, don't let Rex's decrying of your clumps of Scrabbliness deter you in the future. I can't be alone in loving those clumps.
* DILL. Immediately whooshes the aroma of my Grandma Ethel's matzoh ball soup through me. DAMN, I miss her!

Lewis 6:56 AM  

p.s. -- Add SLEW that that "ooh" clump.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

GOLDEN DELICIOUS – false advertising. My advice: avoid any apple with “delicious” in the name.

Had Ricola in for too long (hi, @Jeff), thinking what an odd slogan that was.

MEYER LOU PUZO is a PPPugly row.

What makes a drink a SLING? It occurs to me I don’t really know what a GIN SLING or an ORATORIO is. Like distant cousins, I’m aware of them but can’t tell you much about them. Time to hit the dictionary, I guess.

Suzie Q 7:25 AM  

Wonder tricky Friday clues.
Four letters, Woodstock, ends in I. Hmm, Jimi, Joni, no it's Ravi!
I'm just going to pretend I didn't even read Rex today.

Larry 7:29 AM  

Have to respectfully disagree Rex. Solid puzzle. Had Jimi, not Ravi, at first for the Woodstock clue. Thought the ZZ corner was clever and well-executed.

Z 7:31 AM  

@egsforbreakfast - OMG. I just read the constructors write-up and Rex is right. Charlson is proud of the NE. He calls it “majestic.” But then, he’s an “avid scrabble player.” I am very much of the opinion that word play is superior to trivia and trivia is superior to letter play. Charlson has it reversed, bragging about the “interesting” Pope and ADA Lovelace trivia almost as much as he brags about scrabblef&*($ing the NE corner. Also explains the ZZZ clue, which struck me as just about the worst possible way to clue a terrible answer and the constructor thinks is wonderful. Charlson probably puts his cognac in some super sweet cocktail and calls it a jazzquertini.

I see a bunch of people are all up in their feels over Rex seeing sexism and calling it out. At least @Joe DiPinto was funny about it. I wish more posters could be like Joe. The “only a sexist calls something sexist” line is as worn out as LEO X.

pabloinnh 7:36 AM  

I'm with LMS on the no-toeholds feel to this one, and then GOLDENDELICIOUS went right down the middle. Talk about opening things up, hot damn. Away we go.

He's a catholic, a Hindu, an atheist a Jain,
A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew,
And he knows he shouldn't kill and he knows he always will,
Kill you for me my friend and me for you....

And that's where I learned about Jainism. You never know when you'll need a folk song.

Anybody that can be grumpy about a puzzle with FUZZYWYZZY in it should seek therapy.

Thought this was a great Friday. Thanks, TC. NICELYDONE.

Hungry Mother 7:45 AM  

Had IRaN horse for a moment, but then had the aha moment and was done. Very quick and easy today.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

To all you new people:

Z is Rex, lurking here. Z defends Rex to a fault, and seems to know what Rex was "thinking" when he wrote his blog post.

Listen to his denials, they prove the point.

QuasiMojo 7:51 AM  

I found this pretty easy. And enjoyable. Why the disdain always for Z's and X's? They are letters just like any other. Okay they are worth more in Scrabble but this is a Puwrittenbyguyzzzle. Hi Joe!

@kitshef, lol, I couldn't agree more. The Fuji ones are worse. Like biting into a soggy napkin. I'm a tart crispy green apple kinda guy.

Ravindra didn't fit.

PreCalc always makes me think of the dentist.

Israel makes port?

Got a frog in your throat? "RCCOLA!"



Jcap 7:56 AM  

In passing, I can't help but note that there are more chess players in the world than baseball fans.

GILL I. 7:56 AM  

Ooh... Thank you for starting me off with my favorite gal singer, Adele....
So it's a GIN SLING? Oh, I so wished that Trenton had snuck in the new Gin drink du jour...the Quarantini! Aren't bartenders clever?
I had fun with this one. I think GOBI was the hardest part for me. I don't know what a Bactrian camel looks like but it sounds humpy to me. I had the I at the end and that was all. Because of IRON horse, I snuck in that ORATORIO for Paul's Liverpool ode. If it's not Handel's Messiah, then I shrug. My husband was born in Liverpool. It was one butt ugly town when he and the Beatles did their thing there. It's quite beautiful now...progress and cleanliness.
@Frantic...JAINISM is fascinating - at least to me. I've always been interested in all types of religions. This one places a huge emphasis on ethical conduct and non-violence. Something orange popsicle should read. @Z. If you're going to make an apple pie, use the jonagold. GOLDEN DELICIOUS is too mealy.
I wouldn't mind being in PIAZZA San Marco. I've seen pictures of the clear canal now that everyone's in quarantine. The've spotted squid in the waters. Calamari for everyone!

tb 7:58 AM  

I love words and word games, but I absolutely loathe scrabble. All those two and three letter "words" that are only ever seen on a scrabble board or scrabble dictionary... yuck. Scrabbly crosswords give me the same reaction, and this one had a blatant reference to scrabble. Double yuck.

MarthaCatherine 8:02 AM  

Evidently quite a few people though the stringed instrument is spelled UKeLELE. The only reason I was not fooled is cuz a Hawaiian performer at a Luau I attended pronounced it oo-koo-lay-lay, which has always stuck with me. Had a bit of trouble with parts of this puzzle (GINSLING? ENPASSANT, REVERSI) but I know my members of the lute family fer sher.

David 8:04 AM  

Oeneology is an actual concentration of study in secondary science programs. So yes, Wine Bar, but clueing it that way wouldn't misdirect people to think of the millennial phenomenon of "mixology." Is a "gin sling" a mixology thing? I've heard of "Singapore Sling," that's made with gin, and I don't think a sloe gin fizz (I really couldn't figure out what variation of gin fizz was supposed to go there) is garnished with lemon.

What Greg Charles said, doubled. One of the most often mis-used words, and great instruments.

Who references "Styx" without the "River"? "You've got to pay the boatman to cross the Styx" just sounds weird.

ZZZ is accepted in Scrabble? That game has loosened up since I was a kid. Given all those Zs I figured it was Liz HH. Ha! Not enough coffee. Also plenty of typos had me scratching my head. In the end I thought it was nicely done and, for me, properly crunchy for a Friday. Jimi before Ravi, of course. I actually found myself wanting more Zs though, maybe gin fizzz.

Give Sir Paul his props, he's about the only pop star to cross over into concert music who publicly credits his orchestrators.

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

I didn't mind the z corner as much as Rex, but I certainly object to the NW corner of the puZZZle. The clue for Gin Sling was absurdly obscure for a rather passé cocktail (I can name at least 10 other cocktails that include a lemon twist!). That clue, the Liverpool Oratorio, and the doubling of ZZZilch all ruined the beginning for me. After that, it was hard to come back, even if I enjoyed OENOLOGY (although mixology would've been far superior here), PLAY IT SAFE, and several other clues. If your first answer is as boring as GIN SLING, and your only available clue is this boring, then the solver will not have a good experience. That first corner needs to shine more to make sure that solvers are more forgiving of other areas!

Schuly 8:14 AM  

Rex thinks girls don't play chess or fo sports. He's a femimist.

Pat 8:33 AM  

As a feminist, I agree completely with Rex. If this had been made by a female constructor, there would have been no Precalc or Ukulele or any answers about chess that just perpetuate the patriarchal culture so endemic in the crossword gender-regime.

Why can’t you people see this?

Shame on you New York Times. Will Shortz needs to apologize right now.

Anonymoose 8:51 AM  

Please cite your source. Thanks.

Travis 8:53 AM  

I'm with @Jcap: given the amount of baseball us non-fans have to contend with on a near-daily basis in this puzzle, let us have the occasional chess clue.

albatross shell 8:53 AM  

If you like ukulele lady
Ukulele like you
If you think ukeleles nerdy
Ukulele lady say you nerdy too

Hand up for exactly Lewis's reaction to FUZZYWUZZY (great aha moment), to the idea that the easy-hard divide was east-west, and Donavon was my intro to JAINISM. And it is the RIVER STYX, yes? Or was Rex saying it should just be STYX or THE STYX? EKE, it cannot be mixOLOGY. See how easy it is to be agreeable?

On another subject of recent discussion.
MyK, because it was raining and there is not much to go to these days, was whittling down on clutter by going through those boxes of stuff that follow you around where ever you go, but sit quietly undisturbed in the back of some closet a decade at a time. Behold and lo, there was a Dec.1966 to Jan.1967 showcard from the Sullivan Theater performance of the Fantasticks. I know the date only because there was a price increase stamped on the front that was to go in effect Jan. 3rd. Depending on day of week, time of day, and seat, prices were $2.90 to $5.50. They were to jump to from 3.25 t0 5.75. Cast names: Boni, Anderson, Howell, Kimmins, Martin, Hampton, Pomes.

Sgreennyc 8:58 AM  

No familiarity with Tom Sawyer.? Once again Rex shows himself to be the Donald Trump of humanities professors.

Nampa 8:59 AM  

Quite a few guitarist are/were ukulele players, too.
Fun and easy to play.
We saw Jake Shimabukuro some years back, when he played in Temecula. Google some of his YouTube videos. An amazing virtuoso. Jazz, blues, pop, rock...

Enjoyed today’s puzzle in spite of some cheesy clueing.

Giovanni 9:14 AM  

Fuzzy Wuzzy wuz a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair, Fuzzy Wuzzy Wuzn't very Fuzzy, wuz he?

RMK 9:19 AM  

McCartney didn't write Liverpool Oratorio. He wrote a few tunes and then hired Carl Davis to write it for him.

I had the misfortune to perform this many years ago. The audience (the few people who showed up) didn't seem to care for it either.

Now, the orchestras that performed it can't even give away the very expensive choral scores.

Z 9:23 AM  

@Jcap - Do you have a citation? I found something on chess.com but having your “raw number” not match your percentage sort of calls into question your basic statistics ability. Beyond that a lot of “why chess popularity is declining in the US” articles - which are as inane now as they were 50 years ago as well as parochial. Simply, I didn’t find anything to support or refute your contention.

@Schuly - That women don’t play chess is well established. Of course, that has more to do with chess culture than women.

@Hungry Mother - My horse was pale, slow, roan, and, yes, briefly IRaN.

@Gill I - Agree on never ever using GOLDEN DELICIOUS in a pie. Northern Spy is by far the best. Jonagolds would not be my choice for pie.

@pabloinnh - I was guessing Donovan, but the video was grainy and the sound was for crap.

Speaking of which, glad to read that we need not fear farts.

@Anon7:49 - Do you realize that most readers picture you with a big L tattooed on your forehead?

@Everyone criticizing “belies a misunderstanding” - Any of you care to articulate why you think that sentence is wrong? I tend to agree with @Mainelac, but my suspicion is most of you don’t know why. Feel free to prove me wrong.

Nancy 9:24 AM  

If you play Scrabble with me and you dare put ZZZ on the board (21A), it will not BODE WELL for you. I will DAMN you and possibly try to banish you from the game and straight through to the RIVER STYX. I am a Scrabble purist and ZZZ is not a legitimate word. In fact, it's not a word at all. It's a sound.

Scrabble rant over. Things like ZZZ and other similar atrocities are why I don't play Scrabble anymore.

I liked all the other Zs though. FUZZY WUZZY was my fave (shades of A.A. MILNE yesterday), but FIZZLES OUT can be said trippingly on the tongue and has a lovely ring.

As opposed to Scrabble, I'm easy as far as the rules of REVERSI are concerned. I have no idea what it is or how it's played, so you can play it any way you like. You're most welcome.

A toughly clued and entertaining puzzle. The clue for OENOLOGY was especially nice.

Virtue-Signaler in Rexworld 9:25 AM  

So we're supposed to know Scrabble but not REVERSI or CHESS? Welcome to Rexworld

Pre-Calculus is only very weakly a math subject, but it is inferable. Crosswords aren't fill-in-the-blank every day, so it's really OK to need crossed to get a word, OK?

Jainism? obscure but I sure don't know any Israel stuff except EL AL and the Jewish Holidays that I got off working at a Jewish Hospital because none of the Jewish guys wanted to spend the day with their families and made outrageous trades to do so.

I liked all the ZZZZZZ because as on a T/F test when you have 5 T's in a row, you worry.

Skewed masculine? Does ANYONE but a card-carrying virtue-signaler really care?

Decent puzzle.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

@Z 9:23

How do you know what “most readers” are thinking? Please cite your source.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:55 AM  

For the record I'm not a guy and I have been playing UKULELE since I was 8. And, more importantly, I zipped through PRECALC in a book I found in somebody's trash the summer I was 13. Seems stupid to have to point out things like this but it seems to be a continuing need. I remember signing up for an astrophysics course as an elective my senior year in college. First class the lecturer was so deadly dull I was thinking I would drop it and find something else. Except at the very end said lecturer made a speech about how it's not a really rigorous course but you do have to be comfortable with calculus or you should drop it, and I realized he was looking right at me. And I looked around and realized I was the only female in the class who wasn't lurking in the back row. And I said to myself 'I am going to face this guy down' so I stayed. Terrible lecturer. Covered the board with math which I was always two lines behind him on. I kept finding mistakes, and he'd laugh and say Yeah but it gets canceled out in the next line, if you ever get to that.... And he'd smile at the guys, that 'dumb dame's way behind us' look. And after a while the guys started coming up to me after class to explain things to them because I appeared to be the only person who was actually following his math. Sort of following. Filled a blue book with math at the final, integrated everything, converted to polar coordinates, took the derivative, never got where I was supposed to get but made it very clear I knew calculus. I think I got an A.

Mikey from El Prado 10:00 AM  

A toughie for sure. That JAFFA/JAINISM was a near-Natick.

No GINSLINGS Rex? Go read some Hunter S Thompson, and you might be motivated to try a Singapore Sling. Worked for me back in the day.

Speaking of gin, it’s not a martini unless it’s made with gin. My dad taught me that during our marathon cribbage matches. Here’s to you Don,

JB 10:04 AM  

Ukuleles are cool.

MetroGnome 10:08 AM  

Honestly, Rex -- How is being good at math and / or knowing about ukeleles a "guy" thing? How ridiculous is the ORATORIO from "Captain Offended!" going to get, anyway?

John R 10:09 AM  

I thought that the cocktail often garnished with a lemon twist should be a Sazerac, especially considering the number of Z's in the puzzle. I was disappointed when it did not fit. It has been a while since I have been able to go to my favorite restaurant and have one of their signature cocktails, so I searched out recipes on the web and found many variations. All include the lemon twist and some are quite specific about it:

"Traditionalists will say that the lemon twist should be squeezed over the drink to release its essences. However, they often agree that the twist should not be dropped into the glass itself."

Here's the link with pictures. For some reason I am thirsty now.

Classic Sazerac

mathgent 10:09 AM  

Wonderful! Crunchy, sparkly, learned some things. A third of the entries are six letters or more (24 of 72).

It seems that most grids these days are 15x15 instead of the former standard 14x14. That’s a significant increase in squares, 29, 15%. Do you remember the trick to calculate the difference between consecutive squares? 15 squared minus 14 squared is 15 + 14.

The constructor had a good line over on Jeff Chen. Who needs a popemobile when you can have an elephant.

CS 10:10 AM  

As a still relative newbie in the serious crossword world, any Friday puzzle I can complete is a good one :-). While lots of things were guesses, knowing Jainism (although I was a little stumped by not remembering the spelling, took a couple tries) helped to get Jaffa and of course "Fuzzy Wuzzy" was a given. So the NE corner got filled in first .... and some of the answers were enjoyable to suss out.

Love the comments here as usual. :-)

--CS

Sir Hillary 10:18 AM  

Trenton Charlton is too much in love with his NE corner, but come on, this puzzle isn't that bad. Z is as legitimate as any other letter, and I would guess it's more likely than most to come in pairs, so what's the big deal? I do agree that ZZZ was too much though. (Side note: I enjoy Scrabble, but only with my family, so that we can apply common-sense rules that don't allow crap like ZZZ.)

I bit on the jimI bait, as I imagine many people did.

Debbie MEYER?? Over lemon, Lansky, Marissa, Urban or Stephenie?

@Jeff 12:46AM -- I chuckled at your RiCOLA comment, because RiCOLA was what I thought of first. Before I wrote it in, RCCOLA crossed my mind, so I ended up leaving the second letter blank until PRECALC showed itself.

If you want a tutorial on how to steer any subject toward your pre-conceived idea, read @Rex's review. Here's how his "logic" progresses:
-- The puzzle has lots of Zs.
-- No wait, the puzzle fetishizes Zs, which I don't like.
-- Therefore, it is showing off, which is really off-putting. However, this is also the best part of the puzzle.
-- It also assumes people are "superduper" into games like Scrabble, REVERSI and chess.
-- Therefore, it was written by a guy for guys...
-- (Left unsaid)...and is therefore further evidence of bias in Crossworld.

MetroGnome 10:18 AM  

. . . and why didn't "Captain Offended" blow a gasket over the insidious micro-aggression of slipping the racist term "JIG" into 58 Across? Ye'r slipping, Mate.

Nancy 10:19 AM  

I love the idea of calling a drink a Quarantini, @Gill (7:56). Is it really a thing at bars now? Actually, how can it be when bars are closed?

NICELY DONE, @John X (4:20) and @Joe Dipinto (1:31)! I wanted to DO A JIG when I read your respective send-ups. I would have written one too had I read today's rant, but of course I hadn't. I never do. Which reminds me to tell @Egs (1:47): Some of us come here in spite of the nonstop rants, not because of them. You could save yourself a lot of daily umbrage, not to mention valuable time.

Did anyone else think of 11 O'CLOCK NUMBER before REPRISE for the last song in a musical? 11 O'CLOCK NUMBERS have multiplied like bunny rabbits over the last several decades and can now be found at 8:15; 8:37; 8:56; 9:11...well you get the idea. There are some perfectly awful musicals in which every song is an 11 O'CLOCK NUMBER: that is individual performers trudge successively to the front of the stage and earnestly and humorously declaim their deep, often bathetic feelings in the loudest, most over-the-top voices imaginable. Give me a REPRISE any day. Like "Dites-Moi", the quiet gentle song that ends "South Pacific". No one writes that way anymore -- but what they all could learn about genuine emotion from Oscar Hammerstein II...

Newboy 10:22 AM  

Yep, it’s done. Hard to find a foothold, zzzzzing among random entries and dash to finish with I in PIAZZA. ALIENS was a bright spot. REVERSI a WTF given that othello also fit?? Thanks for a workout to start the morning Trenton.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

anonymous 7:49- They’re not the same guy. There’s been speculation that Sharp saved his life once or maybe has compromising pictures. My guess is that they’re just friends.

Adam 10:25 AM  

As a feminist, I agree completely with Rex. If this had been made by a female constructor, there would have been no Precalc or Ukulele or any answers about chess that just perpetuate the patriarchal culture so endemic in the crossword gender-regime.

Why can’t you people see this?

Shame on you New York Times. Will Shortz needs to apologize right now.

***brilliant***

OffTheGrid 10:26 AM  

@Z. I re-read "Cramming one corner of the "z"s really belies a misunderstanding of what makes (themeless) grids great." I didn't see the problem when I perused the review earlier. The problem is the "mis" of misunderstanding. I believe Rex's real meaning is that Cramming the "z"'s in the corner belies an UNDERSTANDING of what makes a grid great. That's my take but I'm not that bright.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

I have a good female friend who plays the ukulele and another who plays chess. I’m all astonishment!

Kevin 10:48 AM  

Shame on you for thinking that ukuleles are masculine and that precalc can’t appeal to women. With feminists like you, who needs Trump?

RooMonster 10:49 AM  

Hey All !
Bah to Rex! How cool is it to see FUZZY WUZZY in a puz? And clued like it is. Yes, I'm a guy, and I think it's cool!

Laughed at the LEORRN, kept that last square blank, seeing as how it could be I, V, or X. Had the STY already, so STYX filled in NICELY.

Speaking of which, that SW corner was my toughest one. Had to leave, reset the ole brain, then when I came back, saw NADIR, then DOAJIG (wanted JIG there anyway, but couldn't see how it fit), and managed to finish that corner even without knowing REPRISE as clued.

NW was slightly tough, too. NADA was in and out several times. Wanting greENDELICIOUS, but coming up a letter short. Said, "Huh? Red, green, what else is there?" "Ohhh, GOLDEN!" (Interior ongoing monologue) ORATORIO was inspired somehow, letting me finish that corner.

Last spot, the J of JAFFA/JAINISM. Hmm, figured I had everything else correct, as each section was thoroughly fretted over, and Really didn't want my famous one-letter DNF, so ran the alphabet about 3 times, and something waaaaaay deep in the cobwebby parts of the brain that sits idly for many decades got a little Ping! and let me think that I've hear JAFFA once in my life. Put in the J, and Happy Music! WooHoo!

So a nice FriThemeless. Fun words, despite what Rex says. 😀 On to my day! (Well...)

Three F's
FIZZLE FUZZY
RooMonster
DarrinV

Lorelei Lee 10:56 AM  

I was surprised at how much of this puzz I could do after a dismal start. Should've aced radium right off the bat because I just finish reading The Making Of The Atomic Bomb, a real page turner at 700 pages. It traces the whole enterprise of physics from the late 19th century to the fateful day. Recommended reading for residents of Furloughville. It'll keep ya off the streets.

BTW, I didn't know that a ukulele would be considered an instrument of the male persuasion. I'm being serious. I do admit to the fact that back in the slide rule day, pre-calc would've been in the male domain but we're talking 50 or 60 years ago.

My best friend's daughter got a perfect score on the math section of the SAT and still didn't get into Stanford. Her equally smart sister plays guitar, piano, and French horn, so I assume she can also strum a uke. Not that it would've gotten her into Stanford.

Cranky Banjos 10:59 AM  

It must kind of suck to do this blog every day and hate almost every puzzle you do, Rex.

Can you still have fun?

johnk 11:09 AM  

I am an aged guy, aced all my math classes, and find ukuleles cool much of the tims. I aced this puzzzzzzle and some of my "gal" AP calc classmates likely did as well. So, detractors, swallow your ire and rage as you follow the River Styx downstream, while I do a jig (although I'd prefer to dance it; not certain how to do one).

tkincher 11:17 AM  

I was in a play production of Tom Sawyer when I was in junior high (as Tom) and the kid who played Sid was perfect at being an annoying little prat. Nice kid, too. That one was a gimme for me, personally, but I can see how it would be ephemera for most.

Unknown 11:19 AM  

Tough going for me in the NW and SE. Has ASIA where GOBI was supposed to be.
Thought LOU could have had a more reasonable clue, but I know this is Friday!
Really likes the basic aspect of the cluing for LYE as it is a base compound on the pH scale. Also liked cluing for SLEW.

By the way, I started reading Rex's comments, but after a couple of sentences came down here to the other peoples section.

egsforbreakfast 11:19 AM  

@Nancy 10:19. Your advice that I stop reading Rex is probably sound with regard to my stress level. However, I do try to not rant publicly (i.e. on this blog) too often because every once in a while I find myself contemplating a scenario wherein Rex gets tired of all of our slams and just shuts the blog down. That would be a tragedy indeed, as I have come to cherish my time communing virtually, if not virtuously, with all of you.

For those of you not enamored of the clue for GINSLING, Deb Amlin notes on her blog that the last time it was used in the NYTXW (1975) it was clued simply as “Drink”.

Ethan Taliesin 11:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swagomatic 11:22 AM  

Wwll, the comments are...interesting. It's amazing how those who most object to Rex's sensitivity to sexism are the most offended by it.

BobL 11:26 AM  

Liked it. Puzz had pizzazz.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

GIN RICKI/RIKKI
SLOE GIN FIZZ
GIN MARTINI (stirred, not shaken)
SCREWDRIVER
and so on

is it Haifa or JAFFA? 2 names for the same city? can never remember. OTOH, JAINISM fixed it. we all have things embedded in the lower brain stem from ages ago, and that obscure religion (well, here in the USofA, anyway) is one of mine. OTOOH, GOBI for Asia is a poke in the eye. I'll bet there's no proof that Bactrians exist only in the Gobi; I'd bet they're used as pack animals all over the continent.

Anoa Bob 11:29 AM  

Susie Q @7:25, I'm a big Joni fan. Still have all of her vinyl LPs. Even though she wrote and sang "Woodstock", the de facto anthem of that iconic concert on Yasgur's farm, she did not perform there. I believe she said she had other commitments during that time.

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Joni Mitchell "Woodstock"

Cecily 11:42 AM  

"This puzzle just seemed like it was written by a guy for other guys. Guys who aced PRECALC and think UKULELES are cool"

So..... acing precalc is a guy thing? Ukuleles are gendered now?

Sincerely,
a lady who aced precalc

pabloinnh 11:51 AM  

@zZ-It's from Universal Soldier, of course. The version I'm familiar with is by Buffy Ste. Marie, but Donovan may have recorded it as well.

albatross shell 11:55 AM  

@Cranky Banjos (and others) 1059am
I think Rex has a lot of fun. His complaints or criticisms about puzzles are often without the malice many read into them. His view is that the NYTCW is suppose to be the best in the world and anything less than a B+ is unsatisfactory. I just want them to be much better than the best of the type in my local papers, the Sheffer ones say. His theme pickiness I often disagree with. Also his word or person sensitivity is over the top, but dumping on a person doesn't bother me, but suggesting someone should be forbidden to be named in CWs does. Also that certain words or phrases look ugly in the grid is overdone. I mean so what. Somethings do look weird or odd,and yes, even ugly. But ugly, in words and people does not equate with bad. I appreciate reading him. Certainly writing about stuff of the same type every day is going to result in a lot of repetition. Predicting what he is going to say is no more proof of your superiority than someone predicting what you are going to say about him. It is no worse either, I guess, except there are many of you.

dadnoa 11:55 AM  

perhaps Rex was looking to ding the preponderance of NYT male constructors yet again. Have never tried a gin sling, didn’t know it was a thing. My adult daughter drinks gin and tonics, often with a twist of lemon.

oisk17 11:56 AM  

@anon. 11"27... Jaffa these days is a section of Tel Aviv, not near Haifa... For me, one of the easiest Fridays in memory, since I played the ukulele, visited Jaffa, wrote a high school paper on Jainism, play chess, teach chemistry (radium) , and collect wines . I had no idea that Ravi was at Woodstock; (nor do I know who else was there) I was 24, spending my summers in Europe, and that music, culture, style, completely passed me by.

Fine puzzle!!

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

The Ukes of Hazzard: “Gay Boyfriend.” https://youtu.be/HK9VBxDlQOE

beam aims north 12:07 PM  

Found this puzzle pretty easy, and I am also a lady.

REVERSI always bugs me though, because I grew up with OTHELLO, and I always have to remind myself that crosswords call it this other thing which happens to have the same number of letters.

Ethan Taliesin 12:08 PM  

First of all, I agree that there is a lot of sexism baked into almost every area of life. I don't quite agree with some of the comments today, and neither did my wife (who is a scientist and has a lot more math background than I do. I'll give you the quote and how it came across to us at least.

" Why does the puzzle imagine that everyone who solves is superduper into other games like REVERSI and chess (ENPASSANT)? This puzzle just seemed like it was written by a guy for other guys. Guys who aced PRECALC and think UKULELES are cool."

That reads like The Onion to me. Those things don't strike me as gender-oriented anything. Maybe more guys play chess than women, but UKULELES? If anything that seems like a female dominated hobby--in today's YouTube anyway.

I wonder how ADA Lovelace felt about PRECALC, and if she would agree that it should be relegated to the "guy stuff" crossword answer pile, along with chess.

Why does this puzzle imagine that everyone who solves it is into anything?

Today's puzzle was minutes under my average Fri time, though I am nowhere near as fast as Rex. I liked the puzzle. Not a fan of religion, but JAINISM falls on the nicer side, and HOLI seems a lot more up my alley than, say ASHURA.

(edited comment)

@swagomatic 11:22 --Speaking for myself only of course, it's Rex's sensitivity that I find "offensive" (not really the word I'd use, but good enough), insofar as by relegating things to categories of "boy stuff" and "girl stuff," I feel it strengthens the very stereotypes and perceptions that we should hope to move past. That does not assume those stereotypes to be accurate.

I am a guy though, and I'd be happy to hear the other position.

Greg 12:08 PM  

JAFFA/JAINISM total Natick for me. I did know both GINSLING and ORATORIO (I actually did attend a performance of Sir Paul's oratorio at Carnegie Hall.)

jberg 12:10 PM  

The puzzle was pretty easy,it just went right in -- except for the NW, where I almost gave up. Asia, of course, leading to AMAZE in stead of IN AWE, and not knowing about the ORATORIO, I had ...IO and naturally put tr in front of it, figuring it was some kind of trio-- maybe sax(e)? It was only when AMAZE turned up at the other side of the puzzle that I saw my problem; tried Iran and Iraq in my head before finally getting the O and I of GOBI, after which all was well.

@Z and others, I believe "belies" refers to what the reporters in a press conference do with statements by Donald Trump. My guess is that Rex was thinking "betrays [in the sense of 'reveals'] a misunderstanding" and just typed the wrong word. Human brains to that to one sometimes.

Two small nits: first OENOLOGY is the science of how wine is made and develops, not about how to serve wine at a bar. Nifty clue, but not for that answer. Second, PRECALC is a course, but it's not a "subject." You don't find any mathematicians who study precalc and publish their results in the Journal of Precalc Research. Rather it's an advanced review of all the things you should have learned in your earlier math courses, but didn't quite. I'll bet you anything ADA Lovelace didn't need it.

@Z again, I generally use Baldwins myself; I'll have to try Northern Spy. But the clue didn't mention pies, and it was clearly intended to misdirect toward some kind of computer thing.

I do think UKULELEs are cool; true, I am a guy, but here is a song by a woman who thinks similarly.

jberg 12:11 PM  

Also, note that the song I linked in my last comment has the lyric "Quit your bitching on your blog."

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

I usually appreciate Rex's advocacy for making crossword puzzles more inclusive. As a female math teacher who's taught precalc, used to play Reversi as a kid, has played enough about chess to know its basic terms, and associates the ukulele with a recent crop of young female singer/songwriters, I thought his comments today had the opposite effect. I did better with this puzzle than on a typical Friday -- some guy wrote this puzzle for people like ME!

Geezer 12:23 PM  

REMEMBER THIS?

old timer 12:24 PM  

Not a cough in a carload!, to REPRISE a favorite slogah of my youth. Super-easy for a Friday, especially in the FUZZY NE. My only query there was how OOZE meant "give a powerful impression of". (I GET it now). PLAYEDITSAFE went in at once, too. I seem to be on Charlton's wavelength.

I must say I have never had a cocktail called a GINSLING. But basically I drink only two cocktails: rye Manhattan and (gin) martini, and do put vermouth in it please. Oh, and I went on a huge Negroni binge in Rome. Oh, I had only one at a place, then wine or beer. But I tried 15 different places in the course of a week. I was delighted to find that the best was at Tre Scalini, the very same place my mother loved, back in 1950 and 1956.

GOLDENDELICIOUS apples have their place. Not in pie, but in other sweet apple desserts that call for spices and almond extract. Always buy local apples if you can. A favorite pie apple where I live is the Graventein.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

I've never any kind of DELICIOUS apple that wasn't as mealy as a mouthful of sand. Why they were hybridized? A mystery.

Masked and Anonymous 12:40 PM  

HOLI Z-Fest, Batman!

Didn't know JAINISM, MEYER & HOLI. Did know REVERSI & ENPASSANT. Worked out GINSLING & PRECALC, which were sorta known without seemin real familiar.

PRECALC sounds like a real good idea for a class. I taught college calculus, many moons ago. In those days, *every* math class was considered part of the non-existent "precalc" class. Many students were totally unprepared to take on the ghostly world of limits, derivatives, and integrals … let alone remember what a logarithm was. When I taught Analytical Geometry, I did late in the course give folks a short preview of what lied ahead, math-wise. They thought I was jokin, I think. Couldn't blame em.

Sparkly stuff: FUZZYWUZZY. RIVERSTYX. PLAYITSAFE. JAFFA. Kinda also liked that GINSLING at least weren't GUNSLING.

staff weeject pick: Gotta go with ZZZ. (yo, @Z) They even Scrabble-twerked its clue! Like.

What? No ?-clues at all? ... no Jaws of Themelessness? … Scrabble twerkin on steroids? … And it's a FriPuz? What what? Different. Like different.

NICELYDONE and Thanx, Mr. Charlson.

Masked & Anonym007Us


**gruntz**

William Fleiner 12:41 PM  

Just one Q short of a pangram!

albatross shell 12:41 PM  

Re:Ukes and dames. Folk Uke. Arlo's daughter on uke, Willie's daughter on guitar do some delightful songs, very much in bad taste. Beautiful harmonies, dirty lyrics.
https://youtu.be/3Taxn50VbZc

Whatsername 12:44 PM  

An excellent Friday but brutally hard for me. I felt better when I saw that at least a few others here agreed but as @Frantic said, still feel battered. FIZZLES and FUZZY and the Z section went fast, but the rest was a different story. Tough but not impossible and a lot to like. As a person of the feminine gland, as Colonel Potter said, I didn’t find it mannish or masculine leaning in any way - for what that’s worth.

There is a book called The RADIUM Girls about the women who painted the glow-in-the-dark numbers on clocks back in the day shortly after the element was discovered. Radium was being used for everything from body lotion to tonic water, and no one yet knew of the horrendous effects it would have on the human body. These young women spent hours painstakingly forming numerals with paint containing radium dust and became so saturated with it that they themselves literally glowed at night. Their story as they bravely pioneered the ground breaking battle for workers’ rights is absolutely heart wrenching. I highly recommend it to anyone but especially if you enjoy historical nonfiction.

GOLDENDELICIOUS is a great crossword answer but would not be my choice for an apple pie. Jonathans are my favorite or Macintosh if I can find them, just the right degree of tartness. Some people insist on those nasty green ones, but they are way too sour for me.

As @LMS said, ADS are everywhere and becoming more and more intrusive. One convenience store I use has installed little monitors in the middle of the pump stand. As soon as your fuel starts flowing, a very loud string of commercials begins playing and continues until the pump shuts off. Combine the ambient noise of vehicle traffic with other ads
playing at different pumps, and the result is such a cacophony that I fear it could trigger some serious road rage. The advantage is their price is just a little bit lower than anyplace else, so apparently it’s helping defray the cost. In that sense, I suppose it’s a fair trade off.

QuasiMojo 12:44 PM  

According to a bartender's guide I found online from 1858! A Gin Sling was originally just a gin toddy with some nutmeg on top. There was no mention of a slice of lemon.

"1 teaspoon of sugar
1 wine-glass of water
1 wine-glass of gin
1 small lump of sugar
[Add nutmeg on top]
Stir with a spoon."

A Singapore Sling however had lots of fruit in it.

And for old movie lovers (immune to pc violations) check out Josef Sternberg's The Shanghai Gesture, which features Ona Munson as a vengeful casino proprietress named Mother Gin Sling.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

Although another French chess term is applicable: “J’adoube”, meaning “I adjust” to protect against the touch-move rule.

Richard 1:02 PM  

Gotta take issue with Rex that advanced math and ukuleles are "guy" things. My daughter's an MIT grad who excelled at math. A good friend, an opera soprano, plays the uke (sometimes, hilariously, accompanying herself); Roz Chast is also a sometimes celebrated uke player. I'm sure guys also play the ukulele, but the only one I can think of by name is Arthur Godfrey. So, within my own (admittedly small) realm of awareness, women outnumber men in those two subject areas. But maybe Rex is more woke than I about these things; dunno.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

"This puzzle just seemed like it was written by a guy for other guys. Guys who aced PRECALC and think UKULELES are cool." LOL Rex, come on. There is so little gender bias in this puzzle even the wokest of the woke really have to dig. I know this is a hill you want to die on but the more you stretch the less credibility you have.

grampa 1:17 PM  

I’ve been a cocktail bartender for nearly ten years and man, that GIN SLING really threw me for a loop. I sat there for probably 20 minutes rifling through my mental backlog of classic recipes. AVIATION, nope. FRENCH 75 (if they wanted to go rogue and allow numbers), nope. While I could dust off a couple of my earliest cocktail books and possibly find a Gin Sling recipe, I’ve never seen it in included in even the most self-impressed, esoteric cocktail databases these days, and I’ve certainly never had it ordered in person (and I’ll typically get orders for a Japanese Cocktail, Martinez, and Army/Navy all in the same night). Point being, wow what an impracticality deep dig. Between that and OENOLOGY, the bar/alcohol references were pretty poor. You’re dead on about the last one, Rex - there are countless bartenders out there who know very little about wine, or at least aren’t expected to employ said knowledge. In a wine bar, yes, but “bar” is too vague and indirect. MIXOLOGY (as much as I loathe the term) is way more accurate if you wanted to keep the clue’s phrasing.

puzzlehoarder 1:22 PM  

@ Nancy, thank you for putting REPRISE in your comment. That makes today's solve a double dnf for me. I spelled it with a Z. After that NE section I had Z's on the brain. I didn't catch that mistake when I checked xwordinfo last night.

My poor spelling prevented me from getting the final word in Thursday's SB. It turns out that not only can " bandana" be spelled with three Ns but dictionaries indicate that "bandanna" is the primary spelling and "bandana" is the variant.

Carola 1:25 PM  

Nicely challenging, fun to solve. FIZZLES OUT + FUZZY WUZZY alone were worth the price of admission.
Do-overs: hAiFA before JAFFA, pENOLOGY (as in, being behind bars) before OENOLOGY. Help from previous puzzles: ESSO. No idea: GIN SLING.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Radium was discovered by Marie Curie.

webwinger 1:45 PM  

I note that @albatross 8:53 and @MetroGnome 10:08 both used “ukelele” [sic] in their posts. This should be considered an official variant. I cry foel!

My brother is a [male] UKULELE afficionado. I could have called him to check the spelling. (Family member input does not equal cheating by current house rules.) But I was so sure it was correct with the three E’s…

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

ukulele == Don Ho

Alexander 1:57 PM  

"Why does the puzzle imagine that everyone who solves is superduper into other games like REVERSI and chess (ENPASSANT)?"

Why does every other puzzle imagine that everyone who solves it is superduper into sportsball athletes?

I, for one, appreciated these clues...

Renita Jenkins 1:59 PM  

I thought it was a good puzzle. "En passant" was a nice surprise as it came up as a possible answer on HQ yesterday. Synchronicity at its finest!

Are there 5 NYT puzzles you love? i can't for the life of me figure out why you do it every day when it seems to disappoint you all the time.

Frantic Sloth 2:00 PM  

@Z 923am I really enjoyed the chess article - until the downer ending, that is. But it was fascinating if not terribly surprising. The "black queen" and "pet rook" anecdotes made me chuckle.

@GFRCfP&J 935am. Great story. Brava!

@jberg 1210pm Thanks for the link - what a mighty tune!

@Whatsername 1244pm Thanks for the book recommendation - I'm intrigued.
Did you know there's a movie? If you can tolerate a clip that gives away the entire plot (as so many do these days), here it is.

Also, is it my imagination or would it be easier to enumerate the rapidly dwindling alcoves in life where ads do not exist?

tea73 2:29 PM  

I enjoyed all the UKeLELE videos, though I still don't understand why people like to play them. I don't think of them as particularly masculine. I aced Pre-Calc back in the day. I'm a lousy chess player, but my kids both played in Scholastic tournaments so EN PASSANT was a GIMME. (Thankfully I did not think of j'adoube.)There was an elementary school next town over that had an excellent chess team with a female teacher as the mentor. That team was over half girls and they did very well in the rankings. What else was supposed to be masculine? Oh yeah REVERSI. It came with our first desktop and I was totally addicted. It was much easier to do on the computer which wouldn't forget to turn over discs which was a problem with the physical version of the game. (That would be Othello.)

Frantic Sloth 2:30 PM  

Just an FYI.
Regarding a nit that was picked recently:

"Variety says I am the biggest BOFF in release today!"
- Alexandra Del Lago (Geraldine Page) from "Sweet Bird of Youth"(which aired on TCM earlier today).

Could've knocked me over with a feather.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

I think those complaining about Rex's comment about ukuleles and precalc miss his point. Don't think he was criticizing the puzzle's sexism and using ukulele and precalculus as examples of typically male pursuits as opposed to female pursuits. Rex's point was sharper. He was that the puzzle felt written by a nerd for fellow nerds--the sort of nerd who "aced precalc" and doesn't play the ukulele but thinks ukuleles are cool.

otts 3:11 PM  

I don't know about the man-woman thing but there seems to be a younger or older thing this week. In terms of The music Man you can answer 13 more trombones for my section this puzzle referenced gin slings which I have served as a bartender in 1949 it reference George m Cohan a great composer of his time and if you haven't seen Yankee Doodle dandy with Jimmy Cagney your order methinks I remember Tom Sawyer quite well the Huckleberry Finn is a better book I think and as far as ukuleles and ukulele lady a great version by Jim kweskin and The jug band is on is CD jug band music I got a chance to chat with Jim last year at the old songs festival he said he made another CD last year to belie information that he had died so yep I'm a 56 down for sure but still having fun would the nyt puzzle puzzle by the by a fine banjo player recently passed away is on that ukulele album Bill Keith who I was lucky enough to do a couple of gigs with about 10 years ago maybe 15 hard to remember. This blog often makes my day thanks bloggers nitpickers on all

Z 3:13 PM  

@OffTheGrid 10:26 and @jberg - What you both said about “belies.“ Shockingly, nobody pointing it out earlier has explained their thinking.

@jberg - Yep, no pies in the puzzle. Maybe I wasn’t be clear, but GOLDEN DELICIOUS strikes me as mundane while something like “Northern Spy” would have given the puzzle a little Friday tartness. I also find the whole “is it a fruit or a computer” thing played out, so I would have preferred a pie clue.

@oldtimer 12:24 - Agreed - if other spices are involved in the dessert GOLDEN DELICIOUS are fine.

@anon12:34 - Jonagolds go back to the mid-1950’s.

This entire Apple discussion reminds me that my local paper just carried an article about the scarlet tanager. Hoping a pewit article is up next week.

@pabloinnh - I linked to a Buffy Ste Marie version from a talk show. It has a ‘70’s feel to it, but I don’t really know when it is from. A Donovan version was the top hit, but like I said, grainy and poor sound quality.

@Geezer12:23 - Gah! Trying hard not to remember that. I hit stop before the ad even began.

Just did my bi-monthly grocery trip disguised as a Republican. @Gill I and some others - Had about a half dozen different people start the wrong way down the one-way aisles (in place to help with social distancing), see me in disguise, and suddenly remember to follow the one-way rules. You know what every single one of them was wearing. I’m sure every one of them thinks I’m an ass. For me, I just think they have a false sense of security and I hope they remember to wash their hands when they take it off. I did find the recent PSA not to turn used masks into litter both sad and unsurprising.

@Frantic Sloth - The Black Queen anecdote is especially good.

@anon2:34 - I tend to agree, but when so many see it the other way it probably could have been expressed better. You certainly expressed it better.

@9:44 - Obviously I don’t. Should we do a poll?

? 3:35 PM  

Every two months Z or did you mean semi-monthly?

BarbieBarbie 4:33 PM  

@Rex, I defend you. Your comment implying precalc was a guy thing... well, it could be, but only because precalc is for sissies. The rest of us went straight to calculus, and did fine, thanks.

ralex 4:34 PM  

@Z 9:23 and 3:13 p.m. - let the poll begin. Yep, I see that big fat "L" tattooed on the forehead of anon 7:49.
@Gill I. 7:56 - jonagolds for me, too, but we don't have northern spy on the west coast to compare. Tip: Add dried apple slices.
@Loren Muse Smith 5:54 - love the ooze/oozee
@John X 4:20 - please never stop being awful
@Z 9:49 - thanks for the fart link (9:23). Does this mean poop tests are earlier (and maybe more accurate) than swabs up your nose?

Pete 4:44 PM  

Not that it matters, haters gotta hate, but nowhere does @Rex state or imply that being good at pre-calc or liking ukuleles is gender based. He said that the puzzle seemed by a guy for other guys. The next sentence, about guys who aced pre-calc and think ukes are cool, is further restricting the target audience, not saying anything about those who aced pre-calc or think ukes are cool. It was only for guys & uke lovers, i.e. only guy uke lovers.

Oh, Anon 2:34 said that. Oh well. That's what happens when the comments get >100. I read only until I can't take it anymore.

Myself, I disliked the puzzle. Once I saw the mashup of Zs in the NE I knew the puzzle was making some kind of point, and not one that interested me. I don't know what kind of thing was going on here, guy thing or not, but it was something, an unpleasant thing.

Charles Emerson Winchester III 4:59 PM  

To fix HOLI in your mind, may I recommend the film of Paul Scott’s superlative novel Staying On. It features a lovely scene towards the end of Tusker (the British Army officer who has “stayed on” in India, post-independence and is now probably about 80 years old) having huge fun with Indian kids, throwing colored powder at each other. The 1980 film features Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, the first time they appeared on screen together since doing the classic Brief Encounter in 1945. The book won the Booker Prize, Britain’s premier literary prize, in 1977 and is equally lovely. It can be read easily as a stand-alone, but especially shines if one has read Scott’s Raj Quartet.

Recently there was some ado on this blog about the BRITISH RAJ. Paul Scott’s books are a wonderful way to get a feel for that (says I, grandson and great-grandson of Raj-born Brits).

Charles Emerson Winchester III 5:16 PM  

Might one point out that JAINISM has nothing to do with Israel? It is a well-known, well-established Indian nontheistic (in some views transtheistic) religion, practiced by millions.

Joe Dipinto 5:28 PM  

@Otts – do you need some periods and commas? I have extras. Take.
.................. /,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

@pablo & Z – In the late 1970's I worked at a Sam Goody's record store. One day a customer approached me and asked if we had any Buffy Sainte-Marie albums. I remembered Buffy Sainte-Marie from TV appearances in the 60s but hadn't seen or thought about her for a long time. Anyway I looked in the understock and we did have one album. I pulled it out and handed it to the woman, and then realized – it was her! Her picture was on the front of the album and she looked almost exactly the same.

"Oh, this is you!" I said, trying to be friendly. I thought I'd ask her what she was up to these days. But she said "Oh, no I'm not her." I looked at the picture and back at the woman – it was definitely her. I was nonplussed. I wanted to say, "It is too you!" But I think I just said "Oh. Sorry."

To this day I wonder why she did that. Was she embarrassed to be seen buying her own album? But I didn't think that was weird; I figured maybe she wanted to give one to someone and her albums were mostly out of print and probably hard to find by then.

Anyway...someday I'll recount the Lauren Bacall incident.

GILL I. 5:46 PM  

@Joe D 5:28....I just looked at your avatar and thought "wow, you're one handsome dude." Then I see that it's really Francois Frederic Guy....Well, a gal can dream, right?
AND....your. favorite book is "The Green Paint Mystery." I'll have to read that one sometime!!!! :-)

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

@Anon at 2:34, yes we got that. That's the point.

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

one of the conundrums of early childhood, grade school and middle school education is that girls demonstrate equal or greater aptitude arithmetic and math until late middle school, i.e. puberty. so far as I know, no one has figured out why girls go from good at it to also ran.

"This report builds on a previous analysis from Cantlon and her team, which looked at test performance data of 500 boys and girls. The 2018 paper found no difference in their early quantitative or mathematical ability, suggesting that boys and girls are equally equipped to reason about mathematics during early childhood.

All of this info makes Cantlon think that naysayers and crappy cultural messaging are to blame for the huge gender divide in STEM fields later in life."

here (one of hundreds): https://nypost.com/2019/11/08/boys-being-better-at-math-than-girls-is-a-myth-study/

note for the record: NY Post isn't that Snowflake Washington Post, by any measure. Lebesgue or otherwise.

JeffE 6:07 PM  

Do you even like crossword puzzles, Rex?

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

I would think that assuming the person solving your crossword puzzle is into other puzzles and games would be one of the safer assumptions to make. Furthermore, I thought the fact that being into puzzles and games wasn’t inherently gendered was at the root of the whole constructor gender disparity issue. In other words, if women enjoy crossword puzzles as much as men (which is obviously true), why are the editors and published constructors (and test solvers, apparently) so overwhelmingly male? The only justifiable reason would be if so dramatically fewer puzzles were submitted by women, but it seems to be more complicated than that.

Pete 6:20 PM  

In other puzzle related news, I saw a scarlet tanager while walking in the woods with one of my dogs today. Ever the clown, he said "that's a lot on one's plate". After today's puzzle, I might welcome a quad stack from MAS.

Whatsername 6:56 PM  

@Frantic (2:00) I did not know there was a movie based on Radium Girls and thanks so much for posting the link. I will be sure and watch for the opportunity to see that. I thought the book was excellent, reads more like a novel if you know what I mean.

pabloinnh 7:13 PM  

@JoeD- I'd bet a lot that you were The Guy in the Record Store Who Knows Where Everything Is. I mean this with all possible respect, as those people were/are invaluable.

Anyway, you inspired me to find out more about Buffy SM, who has had a long and fascinating career. I was pretty sure she wrote Universal Soldier (she did). And I also thought of her as a Native American (she is). I found her voice to have a memorable vibrato, and once uses to play and sing "Time to Go", which is a very nice song. Lots more info on the Wiki, of course.

Really cool story. Thanks for sharing.

Jmorgie 7:55 PM  

Esso stations are on the ALCAN Hwy --no esso in alaska
the styx is the boundary to hell, not 'leads to' ..

Dennis Doubleday 8:41 PM  

I was surprised that with all the Zs in the NE that the words in the NW were NADA and NIL rather than ZERO and ZIP.

But I liked it.

Andrew Heinegg 8:54 PM  

Amen to your Scrabble rant.It was well and fairly stated.

CaryinBoulder 9:30 PM  

The puzzle was hard for me. Had to use da Google numerous times, mostly to check my answers.

@pablo I think of Buffy, too, when I think of “Universal Soldier,” and it was she who wrote the song. BTW, years ago I had a stereo-salesman friend who said she was the only singer whose voice had built-in wow and flutter.

If you think ukuleles aren’t cool, then you haven’t heard Jake Shimabukuro. There’s a fine documentary about him, “Life on Four Strings.”I think we found it on Amazon Prime.

I wish someone had sent me to a PRECALC class. I was in high school and taking an advanced college prep curriculum when they threw calculus at me in our senior year. There were a few of us, fairly brainy types all, who got lost within the first few weeks and never recovered. We all got passing D’s because we were otherwise good students and college bound. But I was traumatized enough that the next year I made sure to choose a major that had NO math requirement.

Joe Dipinto 9:34 PM  

@Pablo – everyone there had their geekiness niche, more or less. I started in classical, then later moved to jazz (while still pinch-hitting in classical). And mostly everybody knew the pop stuff. Those were fun times.

I remember we "scooped" Maria Callas's death. We set up a memorial Callas section that morning. Most customers were unaware when they came in and screeched at us, "She's not dead!" We just deadpanned, "Oh yes. She is."

I was also working there when Elvis died. Now that was a nightmare.

There was a Buffy Sainte-Marie song called "Until It's Time For You To Go" that got covered by a lot of artists, including Neil Diamond. That's the song of hers I remember most.

Richardf8 9:59 PM  

Neither Haifa nor Jaffa, but יפו. Transliteration is a horrorshow. Yafo would be how it would look given contemporary english phonology.

Richardf8 10:09 PM  

Actually just double checked. Haifa is the port. חיפה. Yafo is part of Tel Aviv these days. Transliteration being what it is Jaffa could signify either, but generally refers to Yafo. I would call this cluing wrong. You could use something about Israeli oranges.

barryevans 10:17 PM  

Just loved it. Tough, took forever, but finished triumphant. Best was "zzz"!

Steve 8:04 AM  

First clue I got was Lou Henry Hoover, who was not merely the wife of one of our only two presidents who were engineers but his co-translator of Agricola's De Re Metallica (Regarding Metals, published in 1556), a massive Latin treatise on 16th century metal mining in the Bohemian mountains. It opens my Epidemiology lecture on the "Birth of occupational lung cancer." The Hartz Mountain silver mines were permeated with radon gas. Lung cancer was not described as a distinct disease until the 19th century, but radiation-induced "Bergkrankheit" as it was known then was a common cause of death of miners. Agricola/Hoover says, "If the dust has corrosive qualities, it eats away the lungs and implants consumption in the body; hence in the Carpathian Mountains women are found who have married seven husbands, all of whom this terrible consumption has carried off to a premature death." (PS I give extra points to students who can identify the other engineer president.)

sf27shirley 1:02 PM  

Assuming ukes and precalc are male pursuits is what's sexist.

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