Joey Dee's backup group in 1960s pop / FRI 7-17-20 / Game played on 90-foot long court / Annual three-day celebration / Pinball player's undoing / Tokyo-based carrier / Woman's name in English that's man's name in Catalan

Friday, July 17, 2020

Constructor: Rich Proulx

Relative difficulty: Medium (6-something)

THEME: face — actually, none ... but the grid is a creepy face, for some reason

Word of the Day: GESSO (5D: Painter's mixture) —
Gesso (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒɛsso]; "chalk", from the Latingypsum, from Greekγύψος) is a white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalkgypsumpigment, or any combination of these. It is used in artwork as a preparation for any number of substrates such as wood panels, canvas and sculpture as a base for paint and other materials that are applied over it. (wikipedia)
• • •

With so much short stuff cutting through the longer answers, this really looked like it was going to be a cinch, but those longer answers were so odd or off my wavelength that I was actually slower than usual. I don't understand what this grid is trying to do. I don't understand the grid-art face. I don't understand why, when you are making a themeless and can do *anything* you want, you go with *these* longer answers, none of which are in any way interesting. The one with the strongest claim to interesting is TILT MECHANISM, but ... what?? (33A: Pinball player's undoing). I've heard of "Tilt!" of course, but the phrase TILT MECHANISM is something I've never heard or seen. Did this come from somebody's wordlist? Why would you choose to put this in your grid? I mean, AUTO PARTS STORES ... what is that doing for you? (8D: Hose and belt sellers) How is that enlivening things? You have so much Freedom when filling a grid like this and AUTO PARTS STORES and STATE LEGISLATORS are your marquee answers? That's how you use your Freedom? The fill isn't really bad, but it's definitely not good either, and again, you have No constraints from a theme, so you have No excuses. Did you think smiley-face grid art would make it all OK? It just makes it all a little bit more insipid.

I have no idea who Joey Dee is, so you can be damn sure I don't know who the STARLITERS are (10D: Joey Dee's backup group in 1960s pop, with "the"). That whole center area was a near disaster as NEAR DISASTERS was very hard to see—had the NEAR; it didn't help, since it's just a synonym for "close." I assumed [Close ones] were relatives or friends. Kept wanting some version of "near and dear." And then there's the ART TEACHER clue (11D: One who might grade on the curve?). Even now, that "?" clue is inscrutable to me. She might grade on "the" curve? Not "a" curve? The phrase is "grade on *a* curve." Why is it "the"? Is that supposed to make it more like an art thing? I get (I think) that the teacher is grading you on the curves in your drawing or painting or whatever, but ... is that really what you're graded on in art class? And just the one curve? If you're going to get cute with the "?" clues, there shouldn't be room misinterpretation when all is said and done—hit your DAMN mark. Speaking of DAMN, that answer probably held me up more than anything else, as both DRAT and DARN seemed somehow more probable (45D: "Nuts!"). Having wrong answers there meant SOLO PERFORMER was really, really hard to see (54A: Person with no one to play with) until I finally had the front end (i.e. the SOLO part). In the end, this was disappointingly anemic. GERITOL crossing STARLITERS tell you much, if not all, you need to know about this one. Nothing new / fresh / current / sparkly about it. What a waste of a Friday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:04 AM  

INTIMATEAPPAREL, TILTMECHANISM, AUTOPARTSSTORE, all the long answers made this a romp. Extremely Easy.

jae 12:08 AM  

Easy. Solid grid with a smiley face 😊 and a little bit of sparkle. Liked it more than @Rex did.

AEOLUS was a WOE but Joey Dee’s backup group was a gimme because who can forget the Peppermint Twist?

Azzurro 12:15 AM  

I enjoyed this one and was surprised Rex was so critical, since the fill seemed pretty solid all around, if a bit bland. I wish the face had some kind of revealer, but the constructor said on xwordinfo that he was just going for whimsy.

Joaquin 12:22 AM  

Geritol advertised heavily on tv back in the early days. Their ads basically screamed, "Snake-oil." They made claims for curing "tired blood" and other ailments. Eventually, the Geritol Company was fined a huge amount for false advertising. I'm surprised the stuff is still sold.

mathgent 12:34 AM  

The dullest Friday in memory. Only two red plus signs in the margins compared to my Friday average of ten. Crunchy, though. Eight mystery entries (I had to guess them from the crosses).

I enjoyed reading about the celebrity sightings in yesterday’s blog. Do politicians count? I had an experience with long-time Senator Diane Feinstein when she was mayor of San Francisco.

Erik Bertelsen 1:04 AM  

Liked it. But I declare the 11-across/5-down cross a Natick.

egsforbreakfast 1:19 AM  

I have to agree with Rex again. I don’t get what the face is doing, and I don’t get why you would take a wide-open mirror symmetric grid AND lock it up with entries like TILTMECHANISM. I also, on a far more petty level, would quibble with cluing legislators as “workers”. The term implies that they have bosses, and virtually none of them, whether in Albany, Sacramento, Tallahassee or Austin, has the vaguest clue that they are working for anyone but themselves.

On the lighter side, INTIMATEAPPAREL draped over a SOLO PERFORMER , crushing REPUTATIONS was a transitory thrill for yours truly.

Frantic Sloth 1:25 AM  

Okay, so here's a puzzle where it's easier and quicker to list everything that's wrong with it instead of trying to name all the things I liked about it.

1. _____________ .

Have a nice day.

🧠🧠🧠 (a bizarre combo of crunchy and easy)

Frantic Sloth 1:34 AM  

Just read Rex before going to bed. We obviously don't agree about the puzzle but at least now I can have creepy-ass clown face nightmares!
So there's that. 😕

Photomatte 1:47 AM  

I had STATECAPITOLISTS for 1-D and SOLEPROPRIETOR for 54-A and those two answers looked so good, so clever, I tried to make everything else fit. Finally figured it out and avoided a NEARDISASTER!

Margaret in New Jersey 1:48 AM  

This was all straightforward, except for ENSURES (sews up). Would someone explain please?

Anonymous 1:50 AM  

Rex, I’ve always heard it as “grade on the curve.” So, it’s a thing.

ghkozen 1:50 AM  

Absolute trash. Rich Proulx should be ashamed of himself.

Horace S. Patoot 3:00 AM  

I don’t know why, but I really connected with this one. I shaved more than five minutes off my usual (20 minute) Friday time. I just found that the long ones went in easily and some of the cluing was entertaining. Had HULU for A STREAM RUNS THROUGH IT.

ZenMonkey 3:06 AM  

So I’m not the only one who didn’t like that face smiling unnervingly at me while I solved?

chefwen 3:15 AM  

I rather liked this one. It was a little daunting after the first pass produced little, but after chipping away at it a getting some letters in place. Okay, a lot of letters in place it became quite doable.

I didn’t think the face was creepy, it looked kinda cute to me, more like a smiling puppy with his poofy little ears sticking up.

To add to the bird talk from a few days ago, we had an exciting day yesterday. Our first baby Albatross, Pali, who we have been watching grow from egg to mature chick, about eight months worth finally fledged. Her first try wasn’t too good and she ended up in an area that didn’t offer her a second attempt. Husband with his trusty wire cutters went and cut the fence where she had landed and she was able to get back to a place that gave her access to “her runway” second attempt was successful. Sorry to see her go but we’re hopeful she’ll be back to hatch her own chicks in a few years.

Ann Howell 3:29 AM  

I thought this was going to take me much longer than it did, because after the first pass the grid was still practically empty... But once I got going it chugged along. It was deeply disappointing that the smiley face (I thought it might be a monkey or something) was apropos of nothing! The misdirect at 8D - "Hose and belt sellers" - was cute, if a bit old-fashioned (pantyhose are practically obsolete, never mind garters and stockings!). Overall, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but (call me an old grump) very let down by the smiley face!

GILL I. 5:06 AM  

I should be happy that I sailed through a Friday, but this felt like somebody handed me a sandwich with a thin slice of ham slapped on a piece of bread. No cheese, no Dijon mustard not even on a French baguette. GERITOL, indeed.
I suppose I should be happy that I got AEOLUS. I remember that wind god because he's missing his "I"... I wanted DESI to be clued as Lucy's husband but the diaspora's win out. Loved me some Leroy Brown, though and the clue for JOAN was pretty nifty. Why not clue APU with Nahasapeemapetilon....Nah...we get his documentary. I like APU.
My ART TEACHER never graded on a curve, at least to my knowledge. She always nagged me about my hands. She said I always made the fingers too long.
Haven't worn a slip in maybe decades so that INTIMATE APPAREL took me the longest to figure out. Other than that, I didn't need to get up and fold the laundry.

Anonymous 5:07 AM  

Please help...what does sb and qb mean?

Space Is Deep 5:44 AM  

Fun, easy puzzle. Much faster than a normal Friday for me.

ChuckD 6:17 AM  

It’s real tough having a smiley face in the grid during these rough days isn’t it? Also @Rex - is the grade on the curve bit really that difficult to comprehend? This may have been my fastest Friday - but I do agree the longs were a little boring and flat but overall a pleasant solve. Liked the TALONS clue - somehow knew STARLITERS and actually reread The Oddyssey a few ago so AEOLUS was cool to see.

Diver 6:21 AM  

Not sure why the smiley face was there but the rest of the puzzle was pretty straightforward. Rex, as usual, gets mean about anything that's not in his particular wheelhouse. He should be in politics.

Snoble 6:30 AM  

These days, I will not complain about anything that brings a smile. Some nice misdirect said--NAILS FOR KITES was probably my favorite. I don't usually look at my time, but did today because it felt so fast--I imagine it was a Friday record for me. But it still had some chewiness and a smile!

Lewis 6:31 AM  

From the grin to the win, this was "Whee!" all the way. That rarely happens on Friday for me, and it was joyous.

I started with freckles here and there, and then, at what felt like rocket speed, and with lovely long answers appearing along the way, I led with the chin, moved spryly through the smiley, went cheek to cheek, crossed the eyes, and beat the brow. It was thrilling.

Thus this started and ended with a happy face, and thank you greatly for that, Rich!

QuasiMojo 6:50 AM  

Could the "creepy" face be a "character sketch"? Or maybe a Wookie? I actually don't know what a Wookie is so I put in TUFT. I guess I was thinking of Ewoks.

I enjoyed this puzzle -- it had some zip -- even if it was over too soon.

I'm not sure GERITOL is still popular. But ENSURE is. Gag me with a spoon.

Hungry Mother 7:06 AM  

Different day, different result. Super fast solve only slowed by my spelling of GERITOL, ironic for an octogenarian.

Anonymoose 7:07 AM  

@Margaret. Winning Florida sews up, or ENSURES the win.

Z 7:08 AM  

With --RITO- in place I really really really wanted my vitamin supplements to be doRITOs.

Smiley face? Nope. It's a creepy monkey face or maybe a jack-o-lantern.

@Erik Bertelsen - There will be a split between newer solvers and long-term solvers on your alleged natick. File away GESSO because it will be in a puzzle near you soon.

Since some non-artistic types will claim that they can't draw a straight line I found the ART TEACHER clue cute.

@anon 5:07 - re SB and QB - References to the spelling bea puzzle and achieving queen bea status. I personally never make it past Aunt Bea status.

@Snoble - I liked that clue, too.

@Margaret in NJ - "Sew up the victory" = "ENSURES the victory."

Is SWAB STENOS a reference to the latest Washington football team story?

I liked this more than Rex, but agree that the sparkle is less than I prefer.

P-CO 7:09 AM  

I was 13 years old when Joey Dee’s song pushed Chubby Checker’s The Twist out of the number one spot on the charts. I hated the tune. It was an insult to adolescence and a desecration of Doo Wop. Even a white Jewish suburban kid like me knew it was another example of white artists expropriating and blanding down the real, raw rhythm and blues. He supposedly co-wrote it with the great legendary Henry Glover as the headliner at the mob-owned Peppermint Lounge located at 128 West 45th Street in NYC. And did I forget? He was a crappy singer. Take a listen at;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--/RV=2/RE=1595012017/RO=10/

Don’t blame me if you get an ear worm.

Z 7:30 AM  

@P-CO - Wow - Just Wow. The plagiarism is palpable.
Chubby Checker
And the original by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters.
I couldn't help but notice that "midnight" is black while "starlite" is white.

amyyanni 7:37 AM  

Another vote for monkey face. Happy Friday solve, no look-ups needed, felt the resistance at the start but just kept chipping away. Enjoyed slips and hoses & belts nearby. Friday is my foray into the world: to the grocers!

Doctor John 7:41 AM  

FYI, today is World Emoji Day.

mmorgan 7:43 AM  

Liked it. Hard then easy. Good challenge. I’m always adjusting the TILT MECHANISM on my pinball machine.

Mr. Cheese 7:57 AM  

Filled everything in quickly (for me). DNF because I had SHAVED. Never heard of SHAVEN. That’s a real word??

gcedwards10 8:00 AM  

You know, it’s an inevitable feature of xword commentary that personal experience plays a big hard or easy, or how acceptable a clue or answer is, is necessarily dependent somewhat on the author’s knowledge and experience. Normally Rex is pretty good at avoiding the lif I don’t know it it’s not a thing” attitude, and often checks his reactions by testing in Google, etc. The comment today about “grading on the curve” miss. My immediate reaction was he was wrong, and Google backs me up...about 5x as many hits for “the curve” over “a curve.” And so while the clue isn’t exactly my fave, it”s perfectly acceptable.

jfpon 8:21 AM  

No question about it: it's "grade on THE curve" and it's a clever clue IMO. Surprised a teacher wouldn't know that. Again, Rex doesn't much like puzzles that throw us elderly a few crumbs such as Geritol, Starlites, Shane, Leroy Brown, and (yes, it's a thing) (pinball) tilt mechanism. The puzzle was

TTrimble 8:28 AM  

Lewis expressed very charmingly and eloquently his experience, and my own is rather closer to his than to Rex's. It was for me a pretty smooth solve with just enough push back to keep things interesting. Hardly a groaner anywhere. (AEOLUS was for me not a Natick-y imposition since there is the Aeolian mode in music [referring to minor keys].) I too learned something new (JOAN).

Although... GERITOL, hee! That's a hilarious remembrance of Joaquin, the "tired blood" thing. Yes, I believe they still do make the stuff, but it's been keeping a much lower profile than in Lawrence Welk days. No longer the nostrum with alcohol and iron filings and whatever the hell else went into the product. Just vitamins 'n stuff.

I find Rex's review pretty odd, but perhaps I'm missing something. For example, "One who might grade on the curve?". To me it reads as a classic bit of misdirection of the type one might expect on a Friday. (I agree with Anonymous 1:50 AM that "grade on *the* curve" is a common formulation.) But anyway, the literalistic rant about curves instead of singular curve is really silly. It's supposed to be wordplay, Rex. You know wordplay works, right? It's like killing a joke by pointing out its internal logical inconsistencies. In case it needs saying, the general idea is to have your lips curve upward at the pun, like the smile you see in the puzzle. (I must admit I didn't see the smiley, because I was focused on solving the puzzle. Doesn't bother me though.)

More generally, I don't really get King Rex's fussy insistence on a puzzle being "enlivening", whatever that should mean exactly, just because he is piqued that he couldn't just race through it. I mean, just look at the puzzle, particularly 46A, 54A, 55A, and admire how seamlessly those words are fitted together -- it's really skillfully pulled off! I believe Michael Sharp has tried his hand at puzzle construction -- maybe he should show us how to do it right -- but Rich Proulx has made something that's not at all easy look easy. I might cede that TILT MECHANISM sounds just slightly clunky, but in the scheme of things I think it's a pretty minor sin.

---[SB Alert]---

Sigh, didn't make QB yesterday. (Note to Anonymous 5:07 AM -- SB stands for Spelling Bee which is one of the daily NYT puzzles, at least online, and QB stands for Queen Bee which means you got all the words on the official list; it's the mini-grail that enthusiasts shoot for every day.)

Really annoyed to have missed DODGY, for heaven's sake. But GOBY? What the heck is that, and what's it doing there? Okay, I just looked it up, it's a kind of fish. But how is GOBY less obscure than say "bobby"? What was really weird for me yesterday is that all four of my first four attempted entries, which are in the valid list, were rejected. I had bobby, bobo, bogy, boyo, dobby, dogy, doob, doodoo, doody, gogo, hogg, hoody (hoody for crying out loud!), yobbo, yodh, yogh. Oh, I also had "hogo" which means "bad breath". I remain to be convinced that GOBY is less obscure than most of those (we can remove "doodoo" and "doody" if they are deemed offensive).

Rant over.

Mohair Sam 8:37 AM  

Just curious - when a puzzle sits on someone's desk at the Times for 39 years does the constructor get paid at the 1981 rate, or 2020?

Fun puzz, but too easy (for those over 65 anyhow).

Yesterday's celebrity sightings: Once locked eyes with Lady Di. Beat that you lightweights.

Unknown 8:40 AM  

I love your positive outlook, "won't complain about anything that brings a smile ". That brought a smile!

Unknown 8:41 AM  


TJS 8:48 AM  

A thirteen minute Friday with not one area of resistance is a disgrace.

Hartley70 8:52 AM  

I loved the smiley face start to the day and I loved this puzzle. It had a bit of crunch but not enough to break a tooth. The grid looks more like a happy Teddy Bear to me. A Grateful Dead clue would have been welcome.

I had to reach way back for Joey Dee’s posse but I managed to retrieve the answer. I think that answer and Chewie’s were the only PPP so this is more like a classic solve.

What made me happiest of all was the bottom short stack. There is no stack maker like MAS, but I’ll take what I can get.

pabloinnh 8:59 AM  

STARLITERS was a gimme here, and if a pinball machine will register a tilt, it must have a TILTMECHANISM, so that was fine too.

The bottom of this one put up a bit of a fight, and I liked that, because the rest of it was going too fast. I liked this one a lot (do folks really concentrate on grid art while they're solving?), mostly because I'm a sucker for long answers. As usual, OFL's complaints like why this one? are lost on me, as I tend to think, why not?

Good fun Friday, Mr. Proulx. Say hi to Annie for me.

Suzy 9:01 AM  

Fun puzzle! Just enough crunch for a busy Friday morning!! Thanks!!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  


MarthaCatherine 9:07 AM  

Glad to see I'm not the only one who had SHAVEd for a while instead of SHAVEN. Couldn't figure out what a dEAR DISASTER could be, because those who are close to me are pretty swell people.

One cheat: looked up the names of the Wayans brothers. Did you know there are TEN OF THEM!?!?!?!?

Rube 9:13 AM  

TJS is correct.
But again, I have no sympathy at all for DARN or DRAT or DAMN. If you prove your answers before throwing them in the grid to speed up your time, that is what happens.

Look at 1a. It is too easy . a more oblique reference....perhaos Q tips or DNA testing or something is needed because if you think the answer is SWAB and you look at 1d, you know it has to begin with STATE...and the challenge for the day is gone, as everything else flows freely.
SHAVED or SHAVEN can nick you for a bit though.

Too many 3 letter words but long answers were kind of fun

RooMonster 9:15 AM  

Hey All !
Praise: Junk free! Lots of self imposed tough-to-fill-cleanly spots, but Rich pulled it off! The bottom run of 7 threes, e.g., not an Abbr. or a RRN, or a letter run, ala ABC XOX. The worst offender in whole grid is A-OK, and even that is A-OK.

Non praise: Why in tarhooties is there a Clown Face grid? Why is there So Many cheater squares on the edges? Those edge squares push the Face from Smiley Face to creepy Clown Face. (There are a lot of people scared of clowns.) 17 threes, which is surprising because of that 7 run on the bottom.

Overall assessment: More gooder than badder. If Rich wants a creepy Clown Face, well, I guess that's his prerogative. He should've at least tweaked the clues towards Smiley/Clown Face stuff, to at least tie in the grid. IMO.

Rex stuff: Sure, some fill isn't The Most Scintillating In The World, but it's clean, and that is more important. ☺️

F's: One

Pamela 9:18 AM  

I liked it because I could do it without the help of Uncle Google. After the first pass, the grid was still pretty empty, partly because I had moLar where DELTA goes. Even so, LEGISLATOR popped right in there with very few letters. The next Aha came from realizing that ladies’ accessories were actually AUTOPARTS. Once I was in that mindset, the artists curve seemed obvious. The toughest one for me was caused by SHAVEd, so I had dEAR something-or-other until nearly the end.

My big nit is that TET is not a three day holiday. I was in Vietnam last year during Tet, and I learned that although the exact timing varies from year to year and in Asia from country to country, it’s always a very extended holiday. When I was there it went from Tuesday, Feb 5 to Sunday, Feb 10, which was considered short. People whose families lived a few days travel away had already started leaving on the 2nd, the day I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City. And it ended on Sunday, which doesn’t mean they were back at work on Monday. The ones whose families were far off said goodbye on Sunday or even Monday morning, showing up at work whenever they got there. Some companies had started offering bonuses to workers who came in on Monday.

Oh how I miss travel! Just one big trip a year, and maybe a couple of shorter ones closer to home, but it adds so much!

OK, off to SB now.

StevieO 9:18 AM  

Is WOE a Rex acronym that I don't know? I'm up to speed on Naticks and other Rex-isms, but I'm not sure I understand the origin of WOE.

Nancy 9:31 AM  

I found this a pleasant but pretty easy solve, with only one answer that gave me any trouble (AEOLUS). It didn't help that I wanted the answer to begin with a "D" since I was so sure that the "one who might grade on a curve" was teaching DRIVER'S ED. (Would I really fail an ART course because the TEACHER thought the *curve* I'd drawn left something to be desired? That would probably be the least of my problems.)

"Is blessed with" is a pretty odd clue for HAS (36A). What about if someone HAS Covid 19? I would have clued this differently.

My biggest problem was originally spelling GAROTTE with two "R"s and one "T". I suppose, in the world we're now living in, if one is not going to know how to spell a word (never a good thing), this is one of the best words not to know how to spell.

Not a lot of challenge, but enough to keep the puzzle interesting.

Petsounds 9:36 AM  

This one skewed old, which worked well for me! I had no idea that GERITOL, which I remember from old TV ads, had any vitamins in it, and as far as INTIMATEAPPAREL goes, most women wear slips any more. I once had an entire drawerful of them. Pinball machines and STENOS--also from my youth and easy gets.

Got STATELEGISLATOR and STARLITERS instantly, which boosted my confidence, and this ended up being a pretty easy solve. Loved the clues for TALONS and AUTOPARTSSTORES.

@P-CO: I was also 13 when "Peppermint Twist" hit the AM radio playlists, and I agree with you. "Desecreation of Doo Wop" for sure.

Can't believe Rex got so hung up on grading on "the" curve.

As for celebrity sightings, I had an exchange in the Village with Al Pacino in 1969, when he was just on the edge of breaking through with "The Panic in Needle Park." He really is short--and he was...beautiful.

JD 9:36 AM  

Filled this in like it was the best Tuesday puzzle ever and then tripped on my unreliable spelling skills at the end.

Apparently it's LegislatOr.

That E and thinking there was something about Ami held me up on the two long acrosses until I finally 'checked,' and they fell easily with Apu filling in on the crosses.

@mathgent, if politicians count, I interviewed Senator John Heinz, heir to the catsup fortune and Kennedy handsome. He would've had a strong shot as president but died in a plane crash. His widow married John Kerry.

Also covered a Reagan speech, which changed my life after he told a crowd in Pittsburgh that their steel jobs were never coming back and that computers were the future.

My then husband was out of a job, though not in steel, but I went home and said Reagan said to learn computer programming and that's what he did. His subsequent job took us to California where I changed careers.

Maybe if I'd stuck with the reporter thing I would've known how to spell Legislator. Thanks for nothing Ronnie.

Sir Hillary 9:42 AM  

Happy face all the way -- the upturned eyebrows are the clincher. Unfortunately, the puzzle as a whole mimics its grid art -- pleasant but unmemorable.

Favorite entry: CHARACTERSKETCH. Least favorite: GAROTTE (yuck!).

The TALONS clue was a little too obvious, but I liked the clue for ARTTEACHER.

Speaking of which, ART is having quite a week. ARTSY on Tuesday. Grid ART on WEdnesday, with TRASHART as a themer. All the DARKART yesterday. More grid ART and an ARTTEACHER today.

Norma 9:44 AM  

My best Friday time ever by a minute. I did stumble with drat/darn/damn, though.

Birchbark 9:47 AM  

The grid shape doesn't lend itself to the usual flowing solve from the top-left (nor in chunks of expanding solved territory wherever they may start). Instead, bits and pieces here and there scattered throughout the grid until the longs appear. I enjoyed it for that reason. It took me out of the standard solving pattern.

I like the face and am sorry to see its friendliness maligned.

I like AUTO PARTS STORES. It has a nice misdirect clue. But I also like AUTO PARTS STORES themselves. The ones behind the counter know what you're talking about when you describe what you need.

Anon 9:51 AM  

I don’t get rows/scraps. Shouldn’t it be rows/scrapes?

TTrimble 10:02 AM  

---[SB Alert]---

Yay me, QB! Today's felt relatively easy and straightforward to me. Can't believe my last entry was such an obvious one I'd overlooked. :-P

Anonymous 10:07 AM  


Banya 10:08 AM  

Yikes. I rarely agree with Rex when he says puzzles are boring - but I completely agree this time. There was nothing fun about this puzzle....except for the cute bear, I guess? I mean, that was nice to see.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Aren’t crosswords (or any puzzle) supposed to be entertaining and interesting? Vis a vis rex, why do they only have to conform to what you think they should be ?

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Rex, you need to visit Robot City. Largest pinball arcade in NYS

William of Ockham 10:20 AM  


pmdm 10:22 AM  

Probably because of the grid spanners, this reminded me of a Maleska Friday puzzle. I actually liked them back then, and I like this one today.

Whatever you want to call the grid art, it has no purpose except perhaps to look like something. Those of you who look for a reason for everything that exists, sorry, but sometimes there is no reason.

I thought none of the fill was problematic, so I am a little surprised at the complaints. (Maybe, just having turned 70, 20A should put me off.) Juswt goes to show that no matter what the fill in a puzzle is, there will be complaints.

Bob Knuts 10:25 AM  

For me, this was one of those times (fortunately rare) when Rex's critique was so tiresome when compared to the puzzle itself. Carp, carp, carp just because you were "slower than usual"? Boohoo. The "Art Teacher" clue was great -- by substituting "the" for "a" with the question mark, it suggested to the solver to consider how a "curve" could be graded.

I hope the constructor continues to play around with shapes, wide-open spaces, and 13-14-15 letter answers that knit together.

David 10:30 AM  

Panda bear? Monkey? Dog? Evil clown?

Whatever, my experience was pretty much the opposite of Rex. Almost too easy for a Friday, and quick. The top 4 across answers gave me both 1 and 8 down without much thought and the rest went about as quickly.

I did have "shaved" and wanted "Dear" but with the D and AST later it was pretty clearly Near.

Loved the clue for talons. When my wife was a kid interested in art she thought Joan Miró was a woman.

Speaking of solo performers, in one of my orchestral works I have a solo piano with the sustain pedal wedged open and no player. It acts as an aeolian harp in the final bars and rings on after the orchestra stops. It's my version of Black Jack, riderless, with boots in stirrups backwards. Nice effect.

Richard 10:31 AM  

I enjoyed this one, but then I don't suffer from coulrophobia.

Whatsername 10:33 AM  

What a fun, absolutely solid Friday and a smiley face to boot. Love the long crosses and downs. Everyone has an opinion and today mine is just the opposite of Rex’s. Seemed like he was MEANER than necessary but in particular his rant about grading on “a curve” vs. the curve. That’s why there’s a question mark in the clue. I asked an actual ARTTEACHER and it made perfect sense to him.

GESSO was new to me. Nice clue for NILE. The Mississippi KITE is a common summer sighting in Missouri and unfortunately an occasional predator of the smaller birds and hummers. I miss Mad Men. Those STENOS were a lot smarter than they got credit for back then. I always thought that with Joan and Peggy in the lead, they could have run the place if they’d had the chance.

@JD (9:36) Reagan changed my life too when he fired the air traffic controllers in 1981. About 5 years after that, I took an office job at a control tower and stayed there until retirement 28 years later. To this day, I have many dear friends from the ranks of those strike replacements, none of whom I would’ve ever met had it not been for Ronald Reagan.

10:35 AM  

I’m taking it to mean, “She ensured the deal got done by sewing up the details.” Or some such.

webwinger 10:39 AM  

I could not agree more with @Rex today—every point he made was reflective of my own experience doing this puzzle. Only difference was I found it quite easy for a Friday—under 20 minutes, about 3 Rexes, when I’m usually at 4 or more. But then, I’m from the Geritol generation, at least the “tired blood” age cohort that stuff was marketed to back in the 1950s when it seemed to be advertised on every TV show. I think it was basically an iron supplement. Would never use it, but can now definitely relate to the idea of tired blood.

Chip Hilton 10:41 AM  

STARLITERS and GERITOL were among the first to fall for this old geezer. Joey Dee at the Peppermint Lounge was a big hit during the Twist craze. And I recall Geritol being a sponsor of Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I had an error on, of all things, AOK. I never thought the middle letter could be a vowel, so went with AcK, assuming “Peachy!” was heavily laden with irony. Bad idea. Overall, I enjoyed this one. Thanks for the smiling puzzle, Rich Proulx. Any smile helps these days.

GILL I. 10:44 AM  

@Nancy 9:31.....Your (Would I really fail an ART course because the TEACHER thought the *curve* I'd drawn left something to be desired) brought on a big laugh and also a memory.
After I graduated High School, I took about a year off and decided to just have fun. I did. I've mentioned many of my explorations here and won't elaborate or bore anyone with those. Anyway it was finally time to grow up. I entered the Computense University of Madrid and studied Arts and Philosophy. There was just so much I could take studying the philosopher, Unamuno, and while I love Velazquez, my art professor couldn't stop talking about him for about a year and I thought I'd die of tedium. What I really wanted was to get into the prestigious Bellas Artes school. In order to get accepted, you had to pass a "test." That test was a charcoal drawing of a nude. So I enrolled in a private art school to study the ins and outs of charcoal. I did oils as well, but that wouldn't get me into the BA program. After two years of going through enough charcoal to fuel a blacksmith's forge, I decided to take the "test." It lasted three days (kinda like TET). There were about 300 students taking the drawing test. The nude was Michelangelo's David. Piece of cake, sez I....I've done him so many times, I dreamed of his (ahem) curves at night. After you're done, they put all the drawing down on the floor in this huge room, and three so called art experts, look at each one and decide what they like. EVERY SINGLE ONE LOOKED EXACTLY THE SAME. There were exactly 20 empty slots for the BA school and guess who didn't get one..... I. failed....After I was rejected I timidly went up to one of the judges and asked him what I did wrong. He pointed to my charcoal and he tsked a bit. He said the fingers on David were too long. Yep, I flunked the too long fingers test. I had his curves down pat, but his fingers did me in.
That's my sad depressing story. I did, though, end up at the San Francisco Art Institute where I learned how to do tie dye.......That'll get me a job, right?

What? 10:50 AM  

Absence of obscurities makes this a pleasant, if easy, puzzle. I liked TALONS.

jberg 10:53 AM  

My vision isn’t good, but I double-checked and the clue for 1A in the paper reads “clear the deck.” That’s just wrong. CleaN the deck would be fine. Is that a typo? R some convoluted reasoning about clearing away the dirt?

My only other problem was ace pitCHER before ART TEACHER, and that was kind of enjoyable.

Unlike Rex I liked the ordinariness of the long answers— and the vague clues and misdirects are what makes it a Friday.

But like Rex I ask, “Why the face?”

57stratocaster 10:58 AM  

A little too easy for a Friday, but still, an overall very good puzzle.

Rex, a Proctologist can remove that stick.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Rex, did you think that being snarky and unpleasant most of the time would make it all OK? It just makes you seem a little bit more insipid.

Mohair Sam 11:01 AM  

Hey - Our @Nancy is co-constructor (with Will Nediger) of a terrific puzzle in today's LA Times. Fun theme and it's Superhero-StarWars-GoT free! Although our girl does sneak in a Broadway clue.

Nice one Nancy.

Oppapapopp 11:01 AM  

Rex hates everything!

Whatsername 11:06 AM  

@chefwen (3:15) Loved your albatross story. Eight months, goodness. I didn’t realize it took them that long to take flight. I really miss my summer birds when they depart about this time of year. It’s bittersweet to see them go but I wish them a safe journey and hope maybe I played a small part in their survival by providing food or nesting habitat while they were here.

@GILL (5:06) Only you would compare a crossword puzzle to a sandwich. 😂 But I get it exactly.

Uke Xensen 11:11 AM  


Sgreennyc 11:15 AM  

Rex sounds more and more like a classic narcissist. He is personally affronted if an entry Is outside of his rather small reserve of knowledge.

Carola 11:17 AM  

I'll go with the smile in the grid - I had fun with this one. I thought the life-on-the-edge TILT MECHANISM made a nice partner for NEAR DISASTERS, enjoyed the for-the-oldsters cross of STARLITERS and GERITOL, and pondered the relationship of INTIMATE APPAREL and SOLO PERFORMER in these self-isolation days.

What a difference a vowel makes: I was sure it was AEOLiS, but what the heck could AiTOPARTSSTORES be? In dunce-cap mode, I did my alphabet run on the initial A (biTO, ciTO....) until the light finally dawned.

@Mohair Sam 11:01, thank you for the LA Times puzzle reference.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

anyone who associates "The Twist" with anyone by Chubby Checker is nuts.

I'm not going to bother to look it up, naturally, but pinball TILTMECHANISM is either
1 - a levelled mercury switch (likely only in very vintage machines)
2 - a pendulum swing
3 - some exotic semi-conductor gyroscopic thingee
btw, real ballers call it a TILT switch

I don’t get rows/scraps. Shouldn’t it be rows/scrapes?

in my version of American, scrapes and scraps are synonyms

Z 11:22 AM  

A face is always “clean SHAVEN,” never “clean shaved.” That’s the only usage of SHAVEN I’ve ever heard, but it fits today’s clue.

Regarding grading, I don’t have any idea what you “the” defenders are going on about. “The” is the definitive article and there ain’t just one curve one might grade on. “A” is the only sensical article usable in the phrase. All your google hits tell me is that a lot of people use the phrase without actually understanding its meaning, hardly surprising since grading is something everyone thinks they understand but hardly anyone actually does. I’ll spare you the long assessment and evaluation rant. OTOH, as a misdirect to ART TEACHER The The is fine, but it isn’t about grading, is it?

@Mohair Sam - Do you know something we don’t? Or are you just making a snarky observation about the GERITOL/ENSURE puzzle vibe?

@StevieO - WOE is the apt acronym for “What On Earth?” The less polite formulation is a WTF, I’ll let you work that one out.

@Anon9:51 - I’ve heard both SCRAPS and scrapes to mean “rows” as in fights or arguments.

Danny and Rachel 11:23 AM  

Can someone please explain why ERA is a competitor for Tide?

Also the crossing of STARLITERS/GERITOL/GESSO/LATENTS was just a total guessing game for us. Should not have passed muster with he who shall not be named (Shortz...I'm talking about Shortz).

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

You’re the king of using google to buttress your claims. No doubt, none, that it’s morons who make google results unreliable. But you can’t rely on those results only when they suit your argument.

Nancy from Chicago 11:29 AM  

@StevieO: That was a mystery to me for a long time too. WOE = What On Earth? Basically a politer version of WTF.

Steve M 11:33 AM  

Well I admit that I owned the peppermint twist 45 as a kid so I had a leg up 😏

Ethan Taliesin 11:38 AM  

If they are going to spell GARROTE as "GAROTTE" the editor should at least have "var." in the clue.

I have never seen it spelled this way. Never.

Swagomatic 11:40 AM  

I kinda liked this one. My Rex Factor was right around 3, and that's pretty good for me. I think the cluing was probably a bit skewed to my age cohort (60 or so).

I thought it was a monkey face, lol.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Era and All are both laundry detergents. ask your wife. or, do some housework to even the scales.

dadnoa 11:47 AM  

Agreed. Rex need to get out more :) Oh, and +1 for Rex’s use of insipid. THAT word needs to appear more often in XWords.

burtonkd 11:51 AM  

@Danny and Rachel - if a cheap alternative is a competitor, ERA is a laundry detergent competitor of TIDE, as is ALL - also in this puzzle.

I wanted STARLITES, probably thinking about the DELITES.

TTrimble 11:53 AM  


Regarding "the" and its "defense": it's not a matter of "defending" the usage. I for one wouldn't say "the curve" is the more logical usage. It's just a matter of being descriptive (as opposed to prescriptive): what people actually say.

"Grades on the curve" might be similar in construction to "gave him the belt" (as in corporal punishment). There's a kind of quasi-Platonic conception going on. It might not hold logical water, but people use this type of construction anyway.

OffTheGrid 11:56 AM  

@Nancy. I think that "blessed with" can mean HAS. It doesn't mean they are always equivalent.

Crimson Devil 12:00 PM  

Gill l
Re art school test: you shoulda hired Joe Shapiro to take test for you.

Jared 12:09 PM  

Is a solo performer really someone with "no one to play with" when the person is literally choosing to play by themselves? That just bugs me from a colloquial standpoint.

ghostoflectricity 12:13 PM  

Pretty easy, but mystified by the jack-o’-lantern-looking face. It IS creepy. Joey Dee belonged to the same Italian-American Jersey milieu that gave the world The Four Seasons and other acts. Their big hit in the early ‘60s was a cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout!,” featuring their keyboard player Felix Cavaliere in organ. The latter went on to form The Young Rascals, whose name was shortened to The Rascals, mostly also Jersey Italian-Americans, and who had a string of hits in the mid- to late ‘60s.

albatross shell 12:14 PM  

@Joaquin 1222am
Well, Trump is president.

Ann Hedonia 12:15 PM  

Geritol says it all. Not fun at all. Like spending the night at grandma's house. Not fun either.

mathgent 12:16 PM  

I just did Nancy’s puzzle in the LAT. What a delight, All the sparkle that today’s NYT lacks.

@Mohair: Thanks for the alert.

Pamela 12:18 PM  


Whew, QB!

@TTrimble, 10:02- I was one short when I saw your post, and immediately felt my competitive spirit flare. Chagrin doesn’t cover it- I was soooo jealous. And then... lightning struck! I quickly changed screens, entered a new word, and voila, all is well. Congratulations to both of us (Smug smile😉)

The Joker 12:28 PM  

Did Jayne Mansfield have a BOAST CHEST?

I thought DESI was Cuban. 27D

Test Lady. SWAB GAGA.

Stop, Rose! HALT, AXEL

Whatsername 12:33 PM  

@mohairsam (11:01) THANKS for the heads-up on the LA Times puzzle. Gonna give that a go ASAP.
@Nancy: Congratulations on another publication!

JD 12:35 PM  

@Whatshername, Amazing and terrifying how leadership can so impact our individual lives. Worked with an engineer from China who loved Richard Nixon for opening up China to the west because he couldn't have been here otherwise.

@Joaquin, Actually, Geritol is an iron supplement that can help with iron deficiency anemia, which can cause tiredness. Only know this because a doctor suggested it when I was pregnant. But I looked it up and the FTC did make them curb their claims.

@J, THE curve may have originated with students as we thought of it upon announcement of its application as THE Thing That Just Save Us From A Near Disaster.

@Offthegrid and @Nancy, Read The Splendid and the Vile recently about Churchill v. Hitler. It had as sentence about one of C's widely disliked advisors that went something like, "He was blessed with the ability to unite against him those who could never agree on anything before."

@Richard, Thanks, never knew there was word for it.

@Crimson from yesterday, good story, well told!

Anonymoose 12:38 PM  

Sgreennyc 11:15 AM. If Rex is a narcissist (he isn't) then this blog is overrun with them.

Unknown 12:38 PM  

Each time Rex has a hard time he blames the puzzle.

Another Anon 12:42 PM  

Once again, without the judgement.

SusanRST 12:42 PM  

Hah! Thought I had that grin figured out at 23 Across, and stuck in SMILE. AEOLUS I had to google, then spent time looking at at the other gods and their powers. Bookmarked the site for further review for when ever I am called up to Jeopardy! Really liked this puzz and did well time wise, minus the gods, that is.

Last man I was married to is an art restorer with GESSO on hand, which he made by mixing whiting (chalk), red ochre, and rabbit skin glue, which came in sharp-edged hard pieces that had to be melted. This formed the base coat on anything he would then lay gold or metal leaf on. Old family recipe, if your family was around in the 1700s.

Lots of consequences of TILTMECHANISM when I was in college, Some frat houses had their old machines rigged up so you could use the same few quarters to play to your heart’s content.

In a life blessed with lots of celebrity sightings and interaction, about the best is Igor Stravinsky. Handshake and brief chat. I was 13, so yes, I’m near GERITOL age. Grew up with Tide powder until my mother switched to ERA, one of the first liquid detergents, put out by P&G.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

When, at the end of the term, I asked my students to sende their suggestions, one wrote, "You should grade on a curb." The image has stuck with me.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

So this blog is not overrun with narcissists.

Kathy 12:59 PM  

Joey Dee and the Starliters—definitely GERITOL set trivia. Who else would know them? My friends and I would listen to the Peppermint Lounge album for hours, transporting ourselves from Ohio to a smoke-filled club in New York. But the production quality of the record was pretty bad, even for that era.

I’m also think the clue for GERITOL flummoxed many. Doubtful that Boomers like me think of it as a vitamin supplement brand, it was never clear exactly what the heck it was. On the other hands younger solvers could probably rattle off a litany of vitamin supplement brand names and nary a one would be GERITOL.

I generally like a sprinkling of long answers. In this case, they eventually helped me actually finish the puzzle and I enjoyed the tussle. I couldn’t figure out if there was a theme in those compound words or in the face but I tend not to concern myself with themes unless I’m convinced it contains the key to the solve. Smiling faces tell lies....

So, @Frantic, you do sleep!

@Z I remember being really puzzled when suddenly Hank Ballard’s Twist was replaced on air by an inferior version by Chubby Checker. Nary an explanation. And nobody seemed to notice.

Teedmn 1:06 PM  

Fairly easy here today at 12 minutes. It would have been less but for my NE assumption that AUTOmotive was going to be part of 8D and hence 22A's Bud was mAc. And I had ClubS on the links instead of the CARTS of 17A. But I was able to sort all of that out and except for JeAN before JOAN, (Miro, I know), the rest was pretty smooth sailing.

I didn't think the clue for 8D was misdirectional in the least, possibly because I work for a company that sells belts and hoses (for laundry and dry cleaning machines). Hoses as hosiery would never be pluralized as hoses so...

I thought the clue for REPUTATIONS was the best misdirection although I highly enjoyed the clue for ART TEACHER also. "Nails for kites" = TALONS, nice.

Thanks, Rich Proulx, for the fun Friday puzzle!

bauskern 1:13 PM  

Day 2 of skipping Rex's criticisms. Since this fell so easily for me, I'm guessing it was a piece of cake for Rex, so he probably loved it. For me, a smiley face to start the Friday? How cool is that? And six crosses that go all the way (or almost all the way) across? Sweet! This puzzle was just an absolute joy. NEARDISASTERS was cool; learned AEOLUS - wasn't that a vacuum cleaner brand? Happy Friday to one & all.
And to Z, who remarked yesterday that at some point I would come to "understand" and worship @ the altar of Rex, uh, no, I think you're simply projecting. Haha :)

TTrimble 1:18 PM  


I think you announced QB yesterday as well? If so, double congratulations!

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Bauskern ,
Ha ha. Don’t you know, that worship is inevitable.

Mohair Sam 1:34 PM  

@Z - Pure snark. I didn't check carefully, but I don't believe there was a clue in there that couldn't have been written in 1981. I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong.

Gene 1:35 PM  

Amazing example of Rex inventing reasons to complain about fine phrases.

Masked and Anonymous 1:39 PM  

A 64-word themeless puppy with E-W symmetry grid art. Now, that's kinda different. Like.
But wait -- there's more:

* Smiley face pic with a CHARACTERSKETCH/ARTTEACHER entry pair zippin thru it.
* Smiley face grin looks like a giant "U". In panavision.
* Scrappy clues. Still analyzin the nuances of that there ARTTEACHER clue. Could "grade" meanin here be somethin like "pass gradually from one level, esp. a shade of color, into another"? Questions abound.
* Cleaner than snot fill. Toughest area at our house was around the TILTMECHANISM/DAMON/GAROTTE zone of wha. M&A had GAMEMECHANICS at 33-A until almost all the nanoseconds came home.
* An epic -- epic, I say -- 7-stack of weejects in the puzgrid nether regions. The bar has been raised.
* JOEY DEE & THE STARLITERS. "Peppermint Twist". I got that 45. But still had a little trouble comin up with the group name -- they were kinda a one hit wonder, as I recall.
* Interlockin grid spanners. Plus interlockin longballs all over tarnation.
* Still managed to use all the letters except Q, Y, Z.

QED. themelessthUmbsUp.

staff weeject pick: APU. Probably the wonkiest of that incredibly clean 7-stack. APU is *not* that Aladdin monkey name, btw.

M&A's solvequest time, U ask? "Flowch", I say. I blame GAMEMECHANICS.

Thanx for the feisty fun and congratz on a masterful constructioneerin job, Mr. Proulx.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


old timer 1:42 PM  

For me, a perfect Friday puzzle. So tough, you start with lots of blank space and only the rarest of gimmes. And of the four I got right away, LEE and NOEA were obvious for all. DELTA and GESSO were automatic only because I've done thousands of NYT puzzles.

Then I thought of AUTO PARTS STORES and was off to the races. Not so on the other side, where I wanted "capital" something, probably on the ground that when I was young, a handful of STATE LEGISLATORS did all the real work, while the rest lived high on the hog and drank a lot. That was true in the Jesse Unruh era, and true in the Willie Brown era that followed. Fortunately, I admired what these two did for our state.

I find that GAROTTE is legit, but it still strikes me as wrong -- should be Garrote. Got me musing on the bizarre methods used to perform executions: The electric chair at Sing Sing, the gas chamber at San Quentin, the garrote in Spain, the guillotine in France,and the odd fact that in Utah, the condemned man could choose between being hanged or shot. Hanging has always been common, but in England, in the old days, traitors were hanged, drawn and quartered, in a truly grisly ritual.

Being a California boy, I knew little about Joey Dee and the STARLITERS, and never knew about the Peppermint Lounge where the STARLITERS became the house band. The Doors would have been my house band if I had lived in LA in their era, but in Northern California we had Big Brother, the Dead, Quicksilver and the Airplane. Not too shabby, and I ate a lot of Bill Graham's apples back in the day.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

My problem was that I had sutures rather than ensures.

QuasiMojo 1:47 PM  

I'm a bit slow on the uptake these days due to Corona fog. I should have noticed that our talented Nancy has a puzzle in the LAT today since my newspaper gives us the entire week's worth in advance on Sunday. I would have gotten around to it later today anyway but luckily I saw Mohair's comment.

Great job Nancy! Enjoyable and funny. And typically tricky. I loved the Mafia-inspired clue. No spoilers here. I did find it curious that you used the "1934 Oscar nominated" wording for the revealer since there is the more famous later version, as well as the source novel. Ironic isn't it that the storyline of that film echoes some very recent current events. I can't wait to try out that new-fangled cocktail! I'm sure it will go well with some Nedick's hot dogs. :)

Michelle Turner 1:49 PM  

Re scraps and scrapes - I believe scrap is what you do and scrape is what you get into. So, if rows is a noun the answers is scrapes, but if rows is a verb the answer is scraps.

kitshef 1:58 PM  

Nears and dears before near disasters and clubs before carts gummed up the middle for a while, but still overall very easy.

Wonderful long answers, but that does have the effect of making things easier. AUTO PARTS STORES for example opened up most of the puzzle.

jberg 1:58 PM  

@Z -- I think I disagree with you about 'the' curve. When I was a student, we were told that As were roughly 7%, Bs a bit more, with the median in the middle of the Cs; and it was a bell curve, with as many Fs as As, as many Ds as Bs. Few people would do it that way anymore -- but I always considered that "the" curve.

@egs - I don't want to be snarky, but I'm guessing you don't know any actual legislators. A few of them are bums, but most I've met (and I've met quite a few, since part of my job was to supervise student interns in political science) really cared about helping people. And even the self-centered ones worked pretty hard.

@Mohair, echoing everyone's thanks for pointing to Nancy and Wil's puzzle; I just printed it out, and look forward to trying to solve it!

Masked and Anonymous 2:11 PM  


Joey Dee & the STARLITERS also got to #6 with a tune called "Shout". (Also found that one in the 45 rpm stash.) Sooo … at least a 2-hit wonder.

@RP kinda turned that puzgrin upside down, in his blog review. Ah, well. De busta gut.

Everybody keep wearin them masks, when U go out. If U will, M&A promises to make a real nice Ode to Masks runtpuz. Let's flatten the grade on that deadly curve, toot sweet.

M&A Research Desk

Barbara S. 2:25 PM  

*****SB ALERT*****

@Pamela and @TTrimble
I'm joining you guys on the QB podium today. And to any other QB-oriented SBers who are still striving -- go for it! It's a solid, doable one. We're with ya!

Lewis 2:33 PM  

Nancy's puzzle in the LA Times is a hoot, worth doing, fun theme, clever cluing, and some bite as well. You can do it online for free if you Google Los Angeles Times Crossword. Nancy partnered with Will Nediger and it's a terrific combination. Way to go, Nancy, and thank you!

Blue Stater 2:45 PM  

Usually I'm pretty close to OFL's assessments, but I found this one the easiest Friday I can remember. The long ones, in particular, just flowed out. Odd.

DigitalDan 2:47 PM  

It's definitely not National Clown Day today -- I checked.

Pamela 2:48 PM  

@Nancy-Congrarulations! I just finished, and agree with other comments- very cool! Once I got the trick, which wasn’t so easy because of a few missteps, I loved it.

@anon 12:46- Grading on a curb, hmmm... Better not try that on a rainy day, could get very messy. Then there’s also curb grading, not quite the same thing. Career switch indeed.

@TTrimble- Thanks! As you say, fairly straightforward today. Of course you never can be sure of that,. On some days, what makes it onto the list seems very strange.

@Nancy- PS. And no junk. Thanks!

Pamela 2:51 PM  

@Barbara S. I just made a comment which isn’t up yet, then saw that you’d joined the QB group today. Congrats to you, too! And agree- anyone who isn’t there yet, it’s a good day to keep trying.

Old Actor 2:56 PM  

@Mr. Cheese: Have you never heard of someone being "clean shaven"?

Barbara S. 2:56 PM  

@Michelle Turner 1:49 and others

According to both Merriam-Webster and Oxford, SCRAP can mean fight as a noun or a verb.

M-W says SCRAPE can mean fight, but as a noun only.

And I don't see that Oxford relates SCRAPE to fight in either part of speech. But I like this definition: "An embarrassing or difficult predicament caused by one's own unwise behaviour."

JC66 3:10 PM  

I haven't done it yet, but for those interested here's a link to today's Nancy & Will's puzzle.

Nancy 3:38 PM  

Thanks so much, everyone, especially Mohair, for pointing out my puzzle in the LAT. I had no idea it was being published today; Will Nediger's email to me was sent at 10:30 and I had already left the house. I saw the reference on the blog mid afternoon; wondered if I'd been given a heads up by Will; went to my email; saw that I had; and also saw the nice off-blog emails from some of you. Thanks to you all.

The wait time for an LAT seems to be almost as long as the wait time for a NYT. Don't remember when this puzzle was either submitted or accepted, but I had completely forgotten about it. (Never make someone with a really fuzzy memory wait that long.) As for the clues you've been kind enough to compliment me on: I'm doing well if I can even remember the theme. I'm off to "Diary of a Crossword Fiend" (which Will says gave it a very positive review) to see if I can refresh my memory. I can't remember if they reproduce the puzzle with all the clues; it they don't, I'm sure I won't remember any of them.

Will and I still have two more accepted puzzles waiting (and waiting and waiting) in the NYT queue. When they're finally published, I bet I won't remember those clues either:) Meanwhile, thanks, everyone, for the positive feedback!

Joe Dipinto 3:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
gloriosky 4:00 PM  

I'm late putting in my two cents, but - @Erik and @Frantic - thank for making me laugh! Actually, I smiled throughout all of Rex's comments as well. Didn't really agree with any of them, which is what made it so amusing!

sara 4:02 PM  

more re yesterday's SB: I join the ranting about weird words being acceptable but EXCELLENT words not counted. !!! But yesterday was a QB day for me which is VERY unusual... I only got GOBY by playing randomly with all four-word combinations, a desperate ploy when (having used my usual prop of the spelling bee solver website) I knew there was a 4-letter word beginning with G there somewhere. And DODGY -- hey, a lucky coup (again, looking for a 5-letter D word).
Does this prompting mean that my QB doesn't count (in some cosmic evaluation)? I choose to accept the QB. For a long time I used dictionary, almanac, Bible and a couple of crossword dictionaries for the crosswords but now, nothing needed.. maybe SB will be like that some day for me? Meaningful use of coronavirus home time???
I appreciate others' SB sharing...

Joe Dipinto 4:02 PM  

You had one eye in the mirror
As you watched yourself garotte

@Nancy – GARROTE is the much more standard spelling. I've never seen it spelt like in this puzzle, though apparently it's a variant.

Congratz on a superb puzzle in the LATimes! Fun theme answers.

TTrimble 4:06 PM  

Super-cute puzzle from Nancy in the LA Times! Nice to be able to mingle with crossword celebrities here!

JC66 4:10 PM  


Great LA Times puzzle. Thanks.

Whatsername 4:15 PM  

@Nancy: Just finished your LAT puzzle and wanted to add my two cents worth. First off, I like to study the grid for a moment before I begin, and I just have to say this one struck me as elegant. I couldn’t help but notice the perfect balance and symmetry. You didn’t stump me, but I had to work at it to finish without cheating. Fun theme, some really wonderful cluing and as someone else said, no junk. Nice job!

egsforbreakfast 4:18 PM  

@jberg 1:56. No snark taken. I know lots of legislators. I worked for two decades on getting favorable treatment at the local, state and federal levels for several entities. During this time, I met a lot of fine people who were also legislators. However, you can be a good and seemingly responsible person when it comes to things like local option taxes for airport improvement and still not be so good at your core. For instance, I’m aware of only two office-holding republicans who have not sold their souls rather than risk temporary unemployment. They are Mitt Romney and Larry Hogan. And while the dems appear much more principled at this moment, I wonder what would happen if a left wing, narcissistic rabble rouser were to take iron fisted control of the party and make it impossible to get re-elected without her imprimatur. Your point is valid. My snarky observation was way over-general. But, not nearly so much as it would have been just a few years ago.

OffTheGrid 4:25 PM  

Yes, @Nancy (and Will) Nice puzzle.

Barbara S. 4:28 PM  

Thoroughly enjoyed your puzzle. Liked all the long answers but one in particular gave me a serious case of the giggles.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

@Joe. I see what you did there. Clever!

burtonkd 5:06 PM  

@Nancy, congratulations! I had fun solving it thinking of which clues were not written by you based on your tastes and wheelhouse, plus imagining (and cheerfully ignoring) Rex at his worst working it.

JC66 5:09 PM  

For those who didn't notice, Joe D deleted his original comment and reposted to eliminate spoilers.

Class act, @Joe.

Nancy 5:15 PM  

@Whatsername -- Must give credit where it's due. The "perfect balance and symmetry" of the "elegant grid" you praise is all Will Nediger's. He always does the grid, since I couldn't create and fill a grid if my life depended on it. The fact that Will can create one that's so elegant when the puzzle theme and the lengths of the answers are as limiting and confining as they are in this one is proof of his real mastery. He's one of the best in puzzledom and I'm very lucky to be working with him. I can, however, take credit for the theme and most of the clues and I'm so glad you liked them too!

ProgressiveMike 5:18 PM

Binary Ninja 5:32 PM  

I think the face is supposed to be a Wookiee

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

Yes well, of course close ones made you think of relatives. That’s the point. And grades on the curve may not be the usual manner but is still grammatically correct. So I find your criticisms spurious. This was a good puzzle.

JD 5:38 PM  

@Nancy, Finally an Aha moment! Good fun, thanks.

Anoa Bob 6:22 PM  

When I saw "Greek god of the wind" at 11A, I thought it might be ZEPHYR, which is the name of my sailboat. I saw ZEPHYR (clued as "Gentle breeze") in a crossword puzzle when I was looking for a name for my new-to-me boat and knew immediately that was it!

Oh, it's AEOLUS. That's why those stringed instruments that are designed to be played by the wind are called Aeolian Harps. There are several examples on YouTube for those interested.

I would say that this grid is another example of why I think "grid art" is an oxymoron. In addition to the alleged "face", there are total of 42 black squares---very high even for a themed puzzle---that take a further toll on the grid. I vote that the only ART in a crossword grid should be the ART of having interesting words cross one another.

syracusesolver 6:22 PM  

I, too, remember Ted Mack's Amateur Hour with its Geritol commercials. I also seem to remember another sponsor, Serutan, which was Natures spelled backwards. I was only a youngster then, so these ads were just an occasion for laughing at and mocking. But now I wonder if maybe that was the start of my fascination with playing around with words which maybe led to my life-long addiction to crosswords.

I’m looking forward to tackling Nancy's puzzle after dinner.

TTrimble 6:30 PM  

FWIW, I think it's fine. I'm fairly new to SB, but it didn't take long for me to go a little nuts on those occasions where I couldn't reach QB, and so I sympathize. I think anyone who is actually bothered by what you're doing probably needs to get more of a life. It's really your own business what you do.

It's just like different people with different attitudes about resorting to Google etc. when doing crosswords. The main thing should be enjoyment. It's really not a competition... unless it is (with rules and oversight in place). Around here, it's not.

Anonymous 7:04 PM  

Hey mods,
What’s an LA Times puzzle got to do with today’s NY Times puzzle, or Rex Parker’s criticism of it!?
You seemed so keen on pointing out parameters for this blog so recently.

A Moderator 8:00 PM  

@Anon 7:04

It was co-constructed by @Nancy, one of our regulars.

Unknown 8:15 PM  

Joan and Miró in the same week

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

I know. So what? The mods have long said the rules were posting about the puzzle or Rex’s criticism of it.
My criticism of the mods is that different rules apply for favorites. Or as you call her, one of our regulars.
At least your ideology is unmasked. Thanks,

GILL I. 8:32 PM  

Hey @Nancy...Right after we finish my bodacious pork tacos tonight, I'm going to do your bodacious crossword. Thank you @Mohair for letting us know....
Anony 7:04....thwupppzzzzz and some more. Feel free to add a little spittle there.

Lou 8:41 PM  

Am I the only one who pays no attention to the grid or the constructor and just solves the puzzle?

Anonymous 8:50 PM  


well.... every bloody day at least 50% of comments are devoted to some tangent(s), generally cavils against some clue(s) and/or answer(s). that @Nancy's puzzle became such a tangent is perfectly within the rules. the prime rule, as a relative newcomer, is no ad hominem. your complaint against those of us, including some anonymice IIRC, is too. I mean, if your a puzzle maker, and get published in the Dogpatch Daily, I'm sure you'll be treated the same as @Nancy. just let us know first, you are, after all a mouse.

Anonymous 8:51 PM  


no. what's a constructor?

Anonymous 9:07 PM  

Anon 8:04 ,
Where did you come with these rules?
The mods have, from time to time, actually published them. As a newcomer you can be forgiven for not knowing that.
And really, re read your post. “50% of the posts are about a clue or an answer”. Um, yeah. That’s the point. Talking about The NY Times puzzle.

albatross shell 9:14 PM  

I owned a Williams Jubilee pinball machine. It had an adjustable TILT MECHANISM. Yes, it's a thang, and that is what we called it. The kids loved to play, and I gave it to my son when his kids were old enough to reach the flippers. So of course I thought this had a lot more sparkle than Rex.

I am with Rex about "a" curve, but not too upset about what grading the curve would mean to an ART TEACHER. You anti-rexers should note he did not criticize DAMN as an answer even though it slowed his puzzle time more than anything else. Also that he explained his dislike: It was not new current sparkly in the grid. And he is correct. Now I found a lot of sparkle in the clues. And I think new and current is not necessary every day. If every puzzle were new curent sparkly it would become somewhat dreary and make me long for nice solid traditional puzzle. I'm just silly, I guess. Which is also maybe why I liked the grid art as pure whimsy. Good enough reason for me.

Carola 9:17 PM  

@Nancy - Just got to your puzzle. A fun one that kept me guessing. I needed the reveal for the upper theme answer.

Unknown 9:34 PM  

This has to be the easiest Friday I've ever done. The constructor must be more my age. Geritol? .

Anonymous 10:17 PM  


what I wrote:
"generally cavils against some clue(s) and/or answer(s). "

as I also wrote, 'tangents' happen all the time every day. @Nancy's LAT puzzle is just that. oft times, the tangents lead to the best discussions. esp. when a puzzle, as today, is a piece of cake.

and it was @Mohair Sam/11:01 who pointed out the puzzle (not @Nancy), and took a very Rex-ian view of it; i.e. better than today's NYT offering. all legitimate.

Z 11:10 PM  

@mohair sam - I didn't notice anything post 1981, but I wasn't looking. Even if there were some token to the 21st century, I agree this definitely felt like it could have run in 1981 (and liked your snark).

@jberg - I have questions about using a grading system that guarantees 7% are going to fail... but I feel a rant coming. And, of course, that wasn't an actual "bell curve," but that's what people think they are so, yeah, "the" works that way.

@egs and @jberg - I lobbied Whitmer back when she was in the Michigan House and Michigan Senate. Impressive. Even when she disagreed you knew she at least listened. I also grew up with Secretary DeVos (I'm sure I've mentioned before that we went to the same church). How's that for polar opposites. When I lived in Dearborn I was blessed with several well-intentioned representatives who I wouldn't have trusted with any real responsibilities. The only good one was a Republican who got elected on an anti-public education platform who turned into one of our biggest supporters. The DeVos wing ran him out of the party.

@Anonymous Moderator Complainer - Huh? Complaining about the moderators doesn't seem like a winning strategy. If it were me I'd have just deleted your complaints.

Kathy 11:21 PM  

@Nancy, just knocked off your puzzle—loved your hilarious wordplay, and just the right amount of nudging from the revealer to finally make sense of it all! Can’t wait to see more!

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

It's a replacement for WTF.

thefogman 10:13 AM  

Nothing to go GAGA or GLOAT over. The NYT crossword’s CRED and/or REPUTATIONS do suffer with DAMN SCRAPS like this.

spacecraft 11:42 AM  

Easy-peasy. Gimme STARLITERS gave me a 10-square head start. They lost no time jumping onto Chubby's bandwagon. Sure knew how to ADAPT.

At first, though I thought there might be some snags because so many of the clues were of the "This could be ANYTHING! type. But with so many longballs, it was no sweat. Example: ...REL. That just had to be APPAREL, so four letters for free there. BTW, if INTIMATEAPPAREL doesn't "sparkle," I'm afraid to think what does. Maybe something out of "Fifty Shades?"

I know OFC doesn't belong to the GERITOL crowd, but once again he's too harsh here. It was fun, if not TAXing, to do, and it had a different look to it. A good DOD in renaissance woman Lady GAGA, and we drive our CARTS to the green for a birdie putt. *Plunk!*

Burma SHAVEN 2:09 PM  


that ARTTEACHERs aren’t ALL sterile,
with what’s DONE under INTIMATEAPPAREL.


rondo 2:25 PM  

Didn’t understand the need for the face, but why not? Very easy but with one square write-over at JeAN and JOAN and who knows who. BTW, back in the 1980s JOAN Collins, in her 50s, posed for Hef’s mag in INTIMATEAPPAREL, yeah baby. I found this puz easy and fun, not a waste of a Friday like OFL.

rainforest 3:19 PM  

One of the easier Fridays in living memory, a memory which the gimme STARLITERS jogged, peppermint-wise. Despite the ease of this puzzle, it was quite enjoyable to solve. Nice to be reminded of the Twist and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.

I liked the South stack, the grid face, and even though when asked to describe a Wookiee, TALL wouldn't be the first thing to come to mind, it's true that Chewbacca *is* tall.

There must be more to DESI than I am aware of, but then there's lots of stuff of which I'm unaware. However, I am aware that I liked this puzzle.

leftcoaster 3:28 PM  

First impression was Smiley face? Teddy bear? Cirus clown? On Friday? Nah, just an extra bit of fun.

Grid-spanning acrosses and downs, and a couple of near-spanners in the middle and bottom made this a solver's delight. All nicely done.

Was undone, though, in the NE. Wanted Gulf (as in Stream) instead of GLEN, and AEOLUS was no help at all. GAGA, clued as just going nuts over, did nothing to cancel the Lady.

Liked this one a lot, smiles and all.

Diana, LIW 3:31 PM  

I always have to remind myself not to be afraid of loooong answers in a puz - often they are gettable and fill in quite a lot! Like this puz. Still had to "check" some of my (wrong) answers before finishing - or should I say completing the puzzle.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, not an alien or robot

spacecraft 5:24 PM  

Speaking of birdies, Dustin Johnson had a bunch of 'em today: was 11 under par for his first 11 holes...but, he could only par out, for a measly 60. Not even the low round of the day (Scottie Scheffler, 59).

leftcoaster 6:34 PM  

Way above and nobody will give a damn, but will @Lewis ever tone it down?

Diana, LIW 7:12 PM  

@Lefty - you mean Saint Lewis? Nae nae - him happy.

Lady Di

leftcoaster 8:26 PM  

@Diana -- Maybe even slap-happy? Okay, let's let it go.

Anonymous 1:51 AM  

@leftcoaster - might be the first time a 59 and 60 were posted on the same day in a PGA tournament.
Puzzle was easier for me than Wednesday's but both solid IMO.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP