Sweet Indian beverage / FRI 9-11-20 / Title of hits by Abba Rihanna / Phone-unlocking option / Proverbial back-breaker

Friday, September 11, 2020

Constructor: Caitlin Reid and Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium (6:08)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: WHOLE / BLOOD (34D: With 36-Down, what plasma may be removed from) —
blood with all its components (as white and red blood cells, platelets, and plasma) intact that has been withdrawn from a donor into an anticoagulant solution (merriam-webster)
• • •

Well this was fun. This is the Friday puzzle I want to see every Friday. Not this *exact* puzzle, of course—that would get boring quickly. But a puzzle in this mold. A wide-open, highly interconnected grid (as opposed to a heavily segmented grid where parts are almost completely cut off from other parts, yuck), chock full o' lively and interesting phrases. And when I struggled, as I did a few times today, I felt rewarded when I finally got the answer (PALM FRONDS!) rather than punished, as is so often the case. It's a tough thing to do—make me struggle and make me like it. But nobody said greatness was easy. And all puzzles at this level (i.e. the NYTXW) should be great, to be honest. It's hard for me to imagine not liking this puzzle. There's hardly any obscurities and almost no proper nouns at all—those are the things that are dangerous because they can really divide solvers along various kinds of lines (most notably generational). And I have no problems with names. But I'm noticing that they're kept to a bare minimum today. Cicely TYSON and AC/DC and OAHU are all, or nearly all, that you need to know. ITALY and LAO too, I guess, but you see what I mean: none of these are exactly dealbreakers. They're common knowledge. This means that there's ... a weird kind of inclusiveness to this puzzle. Feels like older people could find lots to like but also younger people won't be alienated by it. I'm just pointing this out because I think making a puzzle like this (broadly accessible but also fresh and vibrant) is actually a remarkable accomplishment. 

There's only one part that made me grimace a little, and that was BASE WAGE, largely because the only phrase I've ever heard is BASE PAY (39D: It comes before overtime). BASE WAGE just sounds weird or off to me, though I'm sure it has currency somewhere. I had BASE and PAY wouldn't fit so I was making faces at the puzzle for a bit there. But I got over it. It was easy to get over, considering the puzzle was abounding with delightful fill, such as: "OH, FORGET IT!"; MANGO LASSI; SLEEPYHEAD; CASH ON HAND; and especially FASHIONABLY LATE (37A: Not on time, but that's OK). I made more mistakes than I usually do on a Friday. I wrote in TAKES for 4D: Nets (MAKES), only to encounter TAKES right there in the same quadrant (19A: Perspectives). That error made PALM FRONDS very hard to see. I also did not understand "units" in 15A: Apartment units *and* I tried to force an "S" onto the end of the answer (because plural!) so SQUARE FEET was tough to see as well. I wrote in BEA at 27A: "Auntie," on the telly (BBC), because of "The Andy Griffith Show." I knew LASSI but needed a cross or two to remember, "oh, right, MANGO!" (64A: Sweet Indian beverage). Had BLACK M- and went with MOODS before MAGIC (28D: Bad spells). Had A- and went with ATARI (?!) before ARENA (48D: Game site). In the end I was saved by Abba and AC/DC. The music of 1980 will always save me. It's who I am. It's in my (WHOLE) BLOOD. Abba was especially important, as "S.O.S." got me started and busted the whole NE corner open almost as soon as I wrote it in the grid. Got all the "S.O.S." crosses instantly, and then vroom, off I went. And then when I was bogged down in the SW, AC/DC swooped in and cleared up that whole BLACK MOODS / ATARI mess. In short, I had fun. I hope you did too. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I almost forgot the best mistake, which was actually just a clue misreading. Took me a long time to get SUCKED FACE because even though my brain was seeing [Necked], what it was hearing was [Nekkid] (i.e. a colloquial spelling of "naked"). I think the "jocularly" part of that clue was somehow skewing my brain nekkid-ward. I dunno. I just know that realizing that I'd been staring at "Necked" all along was a startling revelation. 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

Easy-medium. Delightful, lots to like here and Jeff gave it POW.

NO erasures and MANGOLASSI was the only WOE. NW was last corner to fall.

If you’d like tougher Friday try the Oct. 28, 1994 puzzle by Bryant White. I got the top half after a struggle but the bottom half was impossible for me (by impossible I mean I cheated extensively). Two of the long across answers were WOEs and they were crossed by at least 4 down WOEs. As always your milage may very, especially if you know a few of the WOEs.

Harryp 12:05 AM  

I started in the NE at SMOG, and basically went through this clockwise finishing up at ATEAM, so Easy Peasy. Thought there might be a theme with PALM, FEET, FACE, HEAD, but nothing there.

Joaquin 12:06 AM  

Hey @Whatsername - How ‘bout those Jefes!

Joaquin 12:43 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for the posting of "That Old BLACK MAGIC" video. Has there ever been a more entertaining singing duo than Louis and Keely? I think not. And is there a backup band with a better name than "Sam Butera and the Witnesses"? Again, nope.

albatross shell 2:12 AM  

Nine eleven and no tribute.
Good choice I guess. Seems they are unpopular and demeaning round here.

OFFANDON or ONANDOFF. Never had to guess that one before.

Somewhere between SUCKEDFACE and fearing a MAIDEN hood OR head was to be sacrificed, I was getting ready to join the breakfast club.

Solved the NW at a slow but steady pace. I suspected something like PALM leaves right off, so put in PSST over ahem. Then moved into the center almost at Monday speed. Then WHitE cells or WHOLE BLOOD. I'll take WHOLE BLOOD for two please.

Then finish the NE and moved South on both sides. l was bogging down in the SE and looked up ROSA, since I had the R. Boy did I feel dumb. And it was my only cheat.

I filled in EGAD because I had the E, but it doesn't quite feel equivalent to My, my to me. My my but not EGAD is how upset I was about it. And ESCAPEROOM is clued as if it's somewhere to ECCAPE from instead of to. My, my or maybe not.

Pretty nice Friday. Easy-ish I guess. I close now like the puzzle, SLEEPYHEAD.

Frantic Sloth 2:16 AM  

A venting note to the general commentariat: Please try to steer away from personal attacks, denigrating others for not grasping such "simple" concepts, terminology, etc. and calling others "whiners" for expressing opinions that differ from your own. Thank you. And as @bocamp so charmingly adds to every comment, peace. πŸ•Š

It was very late and I was very tired (oh, crap - I don't mean to sound like OFL), so thought I'd just glance at the puzzle.

Then I saw the byline.

My reflex was to say "Oh, noooo! I can't deal right now. This is too much!"

And yet....As if I were rubbernecking my own car wreck, I couldn't look away.

Allow me to UNPILE (hi, @JD!) my thoughts:

What I was able to accomplish with this puzzle was nothing short of miraculous.
I got every misdirect ("bobs and weaves"? you want a boxing reference? Ha! I knew it was hairDOS immediately!)
Also, EDIT, SLEEPYHEAD, CASHONHAND, and MAIDENNAME. Didn't fall for any of 'em.
Even PALMFRONDS were the first things that came to mind for bible fans.

Homograph in my way? I chose the correct one - objects, not objects.

Wavelength? I gotcher wavelength right here!

Either Erik Agard is slipping (Ha! Yeah, right!) or Caitlin Reid is my spirit animal. Maybe both.

In any case I loved this! I know it was clever and fresh and everything a challenging puzzle ought to be, but I wasn't challenged. Don't recall ever saying that about a Fridee.

Was it me? I seriously doubt that.
Was it a fluke? Much more likely.
Was it an utter joy? Absolutely!

Oh, the lone misstep: I had TOy for TOT. (the stingy Christmas donation)

I just did a quick gander at the completed grid and zeroed in on FLAW TOT BRINE.
Dear God! What are they cooking at that BISTRO??


chefwen 3:09 AM  

Can’t remember a Friday that I’ve finished so quickly. Don’t time myself, that would be too much pressure, but this one just seemed to flow.
Erik usually sends me into a tailspin, Caitlin seems to have settled him down.

Loved FASHIONABLY LATE which I filled in with no crosses, that broke the whole thing open.

Loved it.

amyyanni 4:18 AM  

Liked it a bunch as well. Sleepyhead as the last across entry is most appreciated and what I am striving to be. One quibble: Fresca is not really a 7-Up alternative. Sprite, which I insisted on, or Sierra Mist, are akin to 7-Up. Fresca is an alternative to Squirt (used to have distinctive green bottles).

JD 5:37 AM  

Tears of joy is an exaggeration but not by much. Every answer was a little reward.

Like Palm ... oh please tell me this isn't palm leav...no it's Fronds, yes!

Or, like @albatross's thought at Maiden...oh please don't be hea...no, it's Name!

Escape Room, Sleepy Head, Mango Lassi. The whole SE corner was sparkly.

Caitlin Reid and Erik Agard, what a great team.

@Whatshername from yesterday, I know. The better angels of my nature had called on me to concede that particular point earlier. I hate the better angels of my nature and wish they'd mind their own business.

Kevin C. 5:59 AM  

Lower right was brutal for me, mainly because I saw 10 letters starting with MA and immediately filled in MASALACHAI.

ChuckD 6:17 AM  

Above average Friday - didn’t like it as much as Rex as I think he puts blinders on for the ugly stuff when he sees these constructors. Fill went in pretty quickly - although PALM FRONDS was backed into from the downs - nice clue. Don’t like that type of clue for ESCAPE ROOM and don’t like MANGO LASSI or any lassi so the SE was blah. The SW I thought was just bad. RAH, EGAD and NINO are rough and if you’re going to clue AC/DC - at least use one of their mainstay records - not an obscure, recent one that no one knows.

@amyyanni - no question - if Fresca is an alternative to 7UP so is Coke or Dr Pepper.

I lost numerous friends in the towers - and still losing friends who worked down there afterwards and got sick. Not one of my favorite days.

Lobster11 6:31 AM  

I flew through this like a Monday. Looked at the clue for 1D and thought PSST, then looked at the clue for 1A and plunked down PALMFRONDS based on the P alone. That's how most of the puzzle went. Only slowdown was having to back into the W and SW after completing the rest. My only disappointment was that the solve went by so quickly. I like to relax and grapple with a Friday at a leisurely pace, but today I found myself speed-solving without meaning to.

BarbieBarbie 7:01 AM  

@amyyanni, Fresca was originally diet-only, a really bitter chemical-aftertaste drink, not an alternative to Squirt or Wink, more like a grapefruit-rind drink than a grapefruit drink. I think it’s gotten sweeter over the years (wouldn’t know), so may now be an alternative. Wink may be gone. But I agree: grapefruit is not the same as lemon-lime.

Anyway, hand up for Sprite. Sigh.

I loved this puzzle- unusual reaction for me to a themeless. Lots of brainwork, but most of it had a quick payoff. Just right for a Friday. Thanks Erik and Caitlin!

Lewis 7:04 AM  

File this puzzle under “work I love”. Oh, it had me laboring, especially in the SW where the sweat was pouring, but from start to finish I was smiling and wowing. It was a clinic in how cluing can make a middling collection of words shine.

Yes, there were some dazzling entries – FASHIONABLY LATE, MANGO LASSI, and IMAGERY for three – but most of the answers were everyday and ordinary. And yet the cluing dressed so many of them up and made them stand out. Clues like those for DOC, DOS, ESCAPE ROOM, MAIDEN NAME, SQUARE FEET, BLACK MAGIC, and EDIT.

And where was the tired crosswordese? Hardly anywhere. All I see is LAO, EMIR, ETA, and ERA, and even these are acceptable.

One. Terific. Friday. You two need to keep coming up with these – please! Thank you for this labor of love!

kitshef 7:12 AM  

This was a wonderful puzzle, alas tarnished by a horrible clue for FASHIONABLY LATE. It’s not OK. Your time is not more important than everyone else’s. Everyone hates you for being late, and this is why you get invited out less than you used to.

JD 7:15 AM  

@ChuckD, Working and not working from home these day, not paying attention to the calendar. I'm so sorry.

AW 7:18 AM  

Can someone please explain 27A: "Auntie," on the telly (BBC)?

mmorgan 8:13 AM  

Nice nice nice. I hesitated on BBC because on the telly the Auntie should really be Beeb, and 80s stuff like Abba or whatever they are mean nothing to me. I didn’t know about WHOLE blood and thought it might have something to do with WHiteE blood cells, so I got messed up around there for awhile. Also I had most of the bottom filled in but only PALM FRONDS up top, but then suddenly it all got filled in in a big whoosh of pleasure. Yummy puzzle, more like this please!

Len Van Vliet 8:19 AM  

Absolutely! When I worked for 7Up, Sprite was the enemy! Fresca wasn't on our radar at all! That answer messed me up big time! And Sprite fits perfect if it's your first entry! Because that jumped off the page at me!

Sir Hillary 8:28 AM  

Yeah, good stuff. Played pretty tough for me though.

Much of that difficulty was self-inflicted. I plunked in PALMFRONDS immediately, then fouled that up by immediately dropping in Agri and Loop at 2D and 3D, respectively. That made such a mess that I ended up having to do the entire rest of puzzle before coming back and finishing in the NW.

Other, less detrimental, errors: Bea >> BBC and WHitE >> WHOLE.

Fun guesswork: Is 35A peT? caT? Ah, TOT!

I love that TYSON crosses her "almost" first name (NICELY).


Anonymous 8:33 AM  

AW: The British refer to the BBC (the institution) as "Auntie". Origins lost, to me, but there you are. Implication is that the BBC is, or used to be, a generally benevolent larger-than-life character watching over the whole population. Needless to say, there are many who disagree and find the BBC suffocating, as well as predictably liberal, in the modern, negative sense of that word

Hungry Mother 8:34 AM  

Very easy and smooth until I had to think a lot to get the G in BASEWAGE. About Wednesday level of difficulty for me.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

5D=BS: FRESCA is a grapefruit soda, SPRITE is lemon-lime like 7Up. FRESCA is no more an alternative to 7Up than Coke would be.

pabloinnh 8:38 AM  

Easy to love a puzzle when 1A is a long answer and the first thing you think of is correct and off you go. I guess it was not unusual to plunk in PALMFRONDS so I'll dial back the pride meter a little. Hand up for the OFF/ON confusion and I've never experienced the joys of MANGOLASSI, nor do I expect to, but at least I learned something. Otherwise smooth as a smelt.

I've been doing a lot of New Yorker crosswords which is why this one had something vaguely suggestive about it, but I hadn't looked at the constructors' names. When I did, there it was--I knows me some Agard when I sense it. I guess Caitlin takes a similar approach. I guess it's that slightly offbeat misdirection. Anyway, it sure makes for a swell solve.

Thanks for all the fun, you two. Over too soon, only complaint.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Definitely on the easy side of medium but very pleasant. Pieceing together PALMFRONDS, SQUAREFEET, and SUCKEDFACE was good fun. Only hang ups where a mistaken WHOLE BLOOD which made KOLA/CHOPS/IPASS unnecessarily difficult until we realized our mistake.

Nice work Caitlin and Erik!

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

An ESCAPE ROOM is a room to escape from - a challenge that was all the rage before covid lockdown. Now, I guess it's just your living room. Not to be confused with panic room, which you do escape to. Yes, a bit confusing. I think the Brits' nickname for the BBC is Auntie. Which at least explains the telly instead of TV for what I figured should not be an Andy Griffith Show clue. Other than that, Fridays are still killers for me. - newbie

KnittyContessa 8:58 AM  

This was fun! Finished faster than my usual without any stumbles. I really liked FASHIONABLYLATE, PALMFRONDS, MAIDENNAME.

@Jae I've been going through the archives, too. I find 1994 was much tougher than anything recent. It's not unusual for me to google a Monday or Tuesday.I'm going to head over to 10/28 now.

57stratocaster 9:01 AM  

Palm Fronds came instantly for some reason, and the rest fell pretty smoothly after that. Anyplace that was sticky didn't last long. Lots of nice fill. Thanks for a great puzzle.

Tim Aurthur 9:09 AM  

The low proper name count is definitely a good thing. Even better, no Star Wars, no Harry Potter, and no Lord of the Rings.

Unknown 9:14 AM  

I, too, have been going through the archives. They really show how the puzzles have been dumbed down over the last 10+ years.
This is the most glowing review I've seen rex give ever. And here I thought he was going to get all virtue signalling about the pejorative term BLACKMAGIC.

RooMonster 9:21 AM  

Hey All !
Today is Patriot Day. A reflection of that terrible day in 2001. Take a few seconds of silence in remembrance.

Fairly quick FriPuz for me. Only 3X Rex, which for a Friday, is quite quick for me. Got all the way down to the cross of M_NGOLASSI/TARS_L, and wanted an I, but couldn't get MONGOL out of the ole brain, so opted for the O. Almost There! Noooooooooo. Turns out, it's an A. Ah, MANGO, not MONGOL. Har. Should've seen that. TARSAL/TARSIL Boo-SAL.

Liked the hardly-any-dreck-ness of puz. NICELY done. Misread 30A as "Dreaded exclamation", and couldn't get anything to work. Having peT for TOT exacerbating things also. Finally erased the pe, and saw OFFANDON from the SUCKED FACE F, and terminal N. Then got TOT. Reread 30A clue, "oh, examination!" I said as I D'oh slapped myself.

SUCKED FACE funny/disgusting/surprising to see. 😊 Had GEE first for ETA, wrong alphabet. For BASE WAGE, had the AS, so put in lAST, thinking it'd be the final(something) of a game. Period? Inning? Quarter? Nothing was fitting. Figured out the center answer, giving me the B, so then thought BASEball! Got STRAW, leaving me BASEW, then had to run the alphabet to get the G after having BASEWA_E. Dang.

So a nice FriThemeless. NARY a FLAW. NEAT, one might say. Props for the F heavy NW, which those F'S actually helped me in that corner!

Six F's (RAH RAH!)

Sixthstone 9:22 AM  

Solid Friday. Would have absolutely loved this but I spent 5 minutes trying to find my error. Ultimately it was a naticky cross of CASHONHAND and KOLA nut. Not being especially familiar with this nut, I had CASHINHAND and KILA nut. Is CASHINHAND a thing? I think so... Anyway, the rest was great. Happy weekend!

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

PhD candidate in ancient Judaism here. Can confirm the clue on 51 down is problematic at best.
'instruction' or 'teaching' is a much, much better literal translation.

Mike Rees 9:25 AM  

Took me longer than it should have to get my completion on this one. Filled in the grid fairly fast and then looked all over for my mistake. I don't know KOLA nut, and CASH IN HAND worked for me, so changing that I to an O took a long time.

Shackfu 9:46 AM  

Spent an hour on it. Cluing was poor or vague in so many areas. Finished about 1/2 of the puzzle. Worst Friday Ever. Fresca/7UP? Still don’t get Edit? What is mango lassi? Face covering/acne? Chops/slang for talent? So old. What about skilz? No, no, no.
No, no, no.

burtonkd 10:11 AM  

@ amyyanni, my grandfather worked in soda delivery, and I had one of those beautiful green glass Squirt bottles with the swirl on my shelf as a child. I think that was regional as it wasn't sold in NC.

I thought of Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond with the SUCKEDFACE dialogue he has with the grandson.

Trouble in W/SW - many good misdirections and vague clues, though ultimately fair: Auntie, I pass for check, KOLA, Cash in hand, amnesia as a plot device

Longer answers came easier than short today, opposite of my usual Friday experience.

pmdm 10:20 AM  

Early on, I felt Erik's puzzles were filled with more racy entires, slang entries, irritating (to me) clues, and trivia-type pop references (to me) than I cared for. Perhaps for those reasons Erik revealed on Jeopardy! that many did not particularly care for his puzzles.While he certainly has changed his construction style, I still become unhappy when I see his name included in the byline.

While I enjoy the challenge of late week puzzles, I don't enjoy the challenge if I have an overall distaste for the puzzle. I plead guilty of looking at Erik name today and deciding to abandon the puzzle for the Tour de France early on in the solving process. While I am happy many enjoyed the puzzle (Jeff awarded it a POW), that really doesn't change my own reaction to the puzzle.

Let it never be said the Erik's puzzle result in mediocre reactions.

Tom R 10:21 AM  

This was fun. Easiest Friday puzzle I can remember. Helped that my first answer was palmfronds. Boom. Whole NW dropped in neat as a pin. Hardest for me was mangolassi. Never heard of it, had to use all crosses. Anyway, BRAVO.

PaulyD 10:22 AM  

Hated this puzzle almost as much as I hated mango lassi the one time I tried it. Fortunately for me, I hadn't repressed it so much I couldn't dredge it up, but its cross with "base wage" (so NOT a thing) is a huge Natick that Rex inexplicably gives the constructors a pass on. Lots of other unamusingly obfuscated clues. Eight minutes of my life I'll never get back, but on this day that's an especially trivial concern.

Nancy 10:24 AM  

Ah, yes. I remember Solomon and Esther and especially Delilah all frantically fanning their PALM FRONDS on a particularly hot day. Or maybe that was only in the Cecil B. DeMille flick.

But seriously, this is a marvelously original and wonderfully clued puzzle, full of DECEIT and GUILE. I knew that 1 Across would be a big surprise, and it didn't disappoint. There's so much in here to love. Perhaps my favorite is the very fairly clued FASHIONABLY LATE which I bet no one got without some crosses. I'm quite pleased with myself for seeing the trickily clued MAIDEN NAME (12D) and STRAW (53A) right off the bat. But CASH ON HAND and BASE WAGE flummoxed me for the longest time.

My biggest problem area was the NW -- largely because I didn't know if 1D would be PSST or AHEM and I also didn't know if 7D would be OFF AND ON or ON AND OFF. Only after finishing everywhere else could I conquer it. A terrific puzzle -- good enough that I'll forgive all the plugs for 7-Up (do the constructors own stock?) and the MANGOLASSI that I've never heard mentioned even once in all my forays to Indian restaurants.

jberg 10:35 AM  

I read the clue as “Auntie OR the tell,” which actually made it easier to get. Generally easy but fun, especially the transition from fAttEd cAlf to MAIDENHead to MAIDEN NAME.

@shackfu, right column = make column right = edit column (in the newspaper).

Masked and Anonymous 10:35 AM  

@RP & M&A had one weird-ish thing in common today: we both read 17-A clue's "necked" and interpreted it as "naked".

Also, wasn't familiar with Auntie BBC, so it gets staff weeject pick. Learned somethin new, there.

Nice lead-off ?-mark clue, for PALMFRONDS. Healthy selection of at least five ?-mark clues, today. Like.

Thanx for the (medium-difficult) workout, and for gangin up on us, Ms. Reid darlin & Mr. Agard dude. Good job. Couldn't spot the seed entries here, cuz they're almost all pretty sparkly.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


mathgent 10:44 AM  

Very nice Friday adventure, but I’m not wild about it. Ten red plus signs in the margins, average for a Friday. Twelve entries of eight letters or more (recently we’ve had sixteen a couple of times). But nothing really bad — no junk, few Terrible Threes.

I expected Rex to complain about SUCKEDFACE. The only time I’ve heard it was in On Golden Pond. I think that it was Katherine Hepburn who said that it was the current slang for necking. That was in 1981.

@ChuckD (6:17). I also despise the clue for ESCAPEROOM. Verb clue for a noun entry. Jeff Chen referred to it today. He calls them “directive clues.” He says that he is beginning to like them. Say it ain’t so, Jeff.

@Joaquin (12:43). I saw Louie and Keely in person two or three times. No one else had an act like theirs.

William of Ockham 10:45 AM  

Some days it is YOUR wheelhouse

Easiest Friday Ever, darned near fill-in-the blank

I don't time, but very little hesitation.

Leslie 10:51 AM  

@jae 12:05 Please tell what is WOE?

ow a paper cut 10:52 AM  

My favorite of the week so far

oisk17 11:00 AM  

Having been defeated by e flat yesterday, I really wanted to finish correctly. I really liked this puzzle, because complete unfamiliarity with some of the clues did not prevent my solving it. Never heard of mangolassi, didn't know that there was a song called S.O.S. (although I think it has been clued before), not a fan of the clue for "aqua", and have no idea who Miguel in "Coco" is/was. But none of that mattered. For once Rex and I are on the same side.

GHarris 11:01 AM  

Got palm fronds right out of the box and thought “this is going to be a breeze “. Not so, had to tear out some answers I felt confident about like “odor “ replaced by “smog” and Santa Cruz, where I have family, to Rosa. If anyone is interested I have another letter in today’s NYTiimes.

JC66 11:04 AM  


What On Earth, as opposed to WTF.

MichGirl 11:05 AM  

I knew it was going to be a good Friday puzzle when I sat down, looked at the first clue, and thought "palm fronds". I love days like this!

GILL I. 11:06 AM  

Aaaaahhhhh. A juicy Friday. I love juicy. Name me one thing here that needs a knife instead of a fork. Once upon a time I had a smidge of dislike for Erik for calling Che a hero. I've since forgiven him.
I had a few do-overs I won't bore you with because nobody cares. What I enjoyed most was letting my mind wander. If my mind can't wander, I might as well eat bread without butter. Today it started with SUCKED FACE. Did anybody see that Facebook posting of this Chinese women being face sucked by an octopus? Yeah...she thought it would be a good idea to eat it alive. That little critter almost tore her face off.
FASHIONABLY LATE was also nice to see. There is good and there is bad in this scenario. If it's a cocktail party, then you want to make your entrance about 15 minutes after it started....(that's when the good canapΓ©s come out). If it's a dinner party, do not be late. The worse offenders are those that are too early. You know the kind.....! You still haven't taken your shower and the doorbell rings.
Loved me some MANGO LASSI. It's delicious. Just make sure your yogurt is some really good Greek, don't use frozen mangos and use honey instead of sugar.
Smoke and smell everywhere in Sacramento. We came home to about 5 inches of ash and soot on our patio. My sweet neighbor who watched our place warned me. It took me about 2 hours to clean the mess up. My azaleas will never look the same.

Z 11:07 AM  

Yep. What Rex said.

Why, yes, Coke and Pepsi are alternatives to 7-Up, the uncola. Yes, Sprite is what I thought first, too. But it is Friday, not Monday. No problem with FRESCA.

@Anon9:24 - Nope. Maybe reconsider your understanding of the word “law.” This is a genre of clue we see on occasion, purposefully (it seems to me) to drive experts nuts. Since I’m not burdened with expertise, definition 9B works for me.

PPP is 21% - just about the lowest you’ll ever see.

@kitshef - FASHIONABLY LATE is when it is okay. It’s the few minutes late you are because the hosts might need a couple of minutes to finish getting ready, where being on time is actually just a little rude. It is not showing up at 8:00 when the invitation said “cocktails at 6, dinner at 7.”

After the last three days this puzzle reminded me why I like crosswords. Lots of wordplay very little trivia.

CDilly52 11:26 AM  

When I see Eric Agard’s name in the byline, my heart both goes putter-pat and quails in trepidation. His clever clues always make one think, and yet they rarely clue words that are way outside the solver’s likely ken. Today proved true on both fronts. His collaboration with Ms. Reid was such a joy and so very “Friday.” Kudos to both Ms. R and Mr. A!!

I blew through the top of this puzzle like a Monday. For whatever reason I knew that PALM was the front end of 1A. Tossed in PALM leaves and blazed through 1-4 down and hit the proverbial brick wall. But having PALM, I’d already flipped my mental coin on leaves/FRONDS and guessed wrong. “FRONDS” just seems so ΓΌber-botanical or churchy that I just guessed wrong. And of course our constructor’s would go for the more difficult on Friday.

My hubris began to get the better of me, and I started (way to early) to think I might just finish a Friday without having to go work for a while to allow things to percolate (actually to give the little guy up between my ears who is my keeper of trivia to wake up and have some coffee).

All of a sudden, as I moved into the mid-section the clues became “tricksier” (thank you Mr. Tolkien) and a screeeeeeeeching half ensued. I ran out of wavelength. Even after immediately getting FASHIONABLY LATE, my mind just quit connecting with our able constructors. Almost as if I contracted AMNESIA!

And the mistakes came in waves, first my certainty that I had outwitted them with “crack” at 53A (“step on a crack, break your mother’s back.” ), a great clue for those of us in that age bracket who jump-roped down the street trying to avoid the sidewalk cracks lest our mother’s back be broken. I more often just say “last STRAW” than “that was the STRAW that. broke the camel’s back.” Once I proudly slammed in “crack” I wasn’t going to admit error until I absolutely had to. . . and of course I did. Alas.

Favorite devious clues were “bad spells” and “liquid paper?” (which I consider today’s best). Overall a very fine Friday puzz and a fair showing for a SLEEPY HEAD.

Carola 11:30 AM  

Very enjoyable, a slow but steady solve that yielded rewards at just about every cross, my favorite being the "bad spells." One re-do: I wanted the sweet Indian drink to be MAsala chaI.

@jae, thank you for the puzzle recommendation.

FMA 11:33 AM  

I love Fresca, drink it way too much! So I consider myself an expert in these matters. 7Up and Fresca are entirely different. 7Up: Lemon and lime sugar water, Fresca: Grapefruit sugar free water. Sorry, but I can't let this pass. BTW - highly recommend Fresca - a damn fine soda!!!!

Whatsername 11:34 AM  

@Joaquin (12:06) Hail to the conquering heroes!! And how ‘bout that rookie? What an impressive debut he had!

@GILL (11:06) Glad you’re home safe. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like it. Hoping the worst is over for all of California. I can’t even imagine the devastation.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

do ACNE festooned adolescents still say SUCKED FACE? did they ever, in real life, or just various forms of fiction?

BASE WAGE, while almost never said (since it's just your WAGE, no modifier needed), is kinda correct, since overtime boost follows it. but few get overtime pay any more. OTOH, many other things come before overtime, like last hour or last half or... last most anything.

not sure about EMIR, either. aren't EMIRs country dictators in their own right? IOW, not just some lower factotum in any dictatorship?

Z 12:10 PM  

Ah, the Great FRESCA debate continues. On Monday the answer would be Sprite, a more or less one-to-one substitution. On Friday you have to be more expansive when thinking of “alternatives.” On Saturday you can’t really rule out alternatives like, say, “iced latte,” or even Sprite just to mess with one’s “that’s too obvious for a Saturday” thought process. I don’t drink FRESCA, but it is right there by the Coke, Pepsi, A&W Root Beer, Canadian Dry Ginger Ale, and 7-Up in my grocery aisle.

What? 12:21 PM  

Perfect puzzle. Took lots of time and effort but finished. Sense of accomplishment. Now to line the bird cage and wait for tomorrow.

jb129 12:21 PM  

Loved it

Whatsername 12:21 PM  

Excellent Friday puzzle. I first thought I was just going to have to concede defeat, but after a lot of missteps and a couple of hints from uncle Google, got ‘er done. Kind of like when I first start exercising and think I can’t do this, not today. But then I somehow keep plodding on and make it to the finish. It was a struggle but I felt great about overcoming my own weaknesses to get there.

@Joaquin (12:06) I just now noticed your new profile pic. I love it! Guess it’s time to change mine too. I’ve done my civic duty with the “VOTE” logo. Time to get back to the repping The Kingdom.

@JD (5:37) Those pesky angels. Plus I hate it when I am all set to go on a tirade and the dictionary proves me wrong.

@Chuck (6:17) My sincere sympathy on the loss of your friends. It must be a very difficult time for you. I knew absolutely no one personally but even now, I still feel a deep sorrow for all those innocent lives lost.

@Roo (9:21) Very thoughtful reminder. I took that moment early today. Every year since, my local Chamber of Commerce has placed flags next to everyone’s driveway the night before, so that is the first sight I see when I look outside every 9/11 at daybreak. It never fails to move me to tears.

old timer 12:28 PM  

When I saw Caitlin Reid and Erik Agard at the top of my printed puzzle, my immediate thought was that Reid was the constructor, and Agard her consigliere. There is a reason for the order of names, or so I have always thought. Happy to credit either for the clue and answer that broke the puzzle wide open for me, FASHIONABLY LATE. First long answer I wrote in, and without hesitation. If you are invited to a dinner party, it is rude and unFASHIONABLe to be even a minute late. If to a cocktail party or open house, it is rude to be on time, unless you are the BFF of the hostess. When we used to have an annual party, our best friends couple could be counted on as the first to arrive.

I really wanted "swapped spit" for SUCKED FACE. For some reason, the former makes me laugh and the latter does not pass my breakfast test.

Thanks for letting us know about your letter, Mr. Harris -- though I disagree entirely. I will only point out that the same immunity rules will apply in both federal and state courts, and Trump is entitled to protection as a public figure in any case. It surprised me he didn't move sooner to claim entitlement to a defense by the Justice Department. He never would have been sued at this late date, were he not President.

pabloinnh 12:36 PM  

Any southern types among us who use "coke" as a generic term for soda, or pop? I found this out not terribly long ago and thought it was hilarious. The example I heard from someone with experience in this field went something like "Y'all want a coke? What kind of coke?" Big har! for me.

William of Ockham 12:39 PM  

I forgot to add
FRESCA is deffo not a sub for 7-UP, while Sprite is. NOT a Soda drinker 7-UP and Sprite are decent flavours, whilst FRESCA tastes like something from a Chemistry Lab.

Lemon-Lime v. ?Grapefruit for the pedantic, hardly equivalent

Hack mechanic 12:46 PM  

A British nickname. Sometimes called the Beeb also.

Swagomatic 12:50 PM  

I had trouble getting started on this one. MANGOLASSI was unknown to me. PALMFRONDS also killed me. I finished though, so at least I've got that going for me.

JD 12:58 PM  

@Whatshername, Actually I googled it first and that definition doesn't show up! So that's it for Google and its dictionary.

Unknown 1:06 PM  

We're probably do better to eliminate BLACKMAGIC from the vocabulary. Disney finally added a Black princess about 10 years ago, and I guess couldn't resist the need to surround her and the story with images of black magic. Hollywood is letting us down more than Washington.

Chip Hilton 1:17 PM  

Terrific stuff. A wonderful 15 letter entry across the middle. A long answer requiring lots of vertical help (MANGOLASSI). Clever clueing, all over the place. A wonderful Friday. Thanks!

AW 1:19 PM  

Many thanks! New to me...

AW 1:19 PM  


Best frozen daiquiri ever 1:40 PM  

* 12 oz frozen limeade (Minute Maid works best)
use limeade can to measure:
* 12 oz rum (cheap stuff works fine)
* 12 oz water
* two 12 oz cans of FRESCA

* stir, then stick in the freezer, where it will freeze solid
* thaw until it turns slushy (or at least soft enough to scoop out), then enjoy
* if it melts too much, you can refreeze ad infinitum (as the author of the recipe put it)

Joe Dipinto 1:59 PM  

It's time for:

Barfworthy Moments from the Academy Awards!

At the awards show for 1981, the screenwriter of "On Golden Pond" ended his Oscar acceptance speech with, "I am so proud. And if you would all see me later I would love to suck face with you all. Thank you."

Nancy 2:26 PM  

Well-stated, trenchant letter, @GHarris. Congratulations on another NYT success. Is it time for me to warm up my own pen? But with all the outrages coming, one after another, following so closely on each other's heels, there are times when I just feel too despondent and pessimistic to write anything at all. And the emergence of William Barr as Justice Dept consigliere (I wouldn't call him Trump's Roy Cohn; I'd call him Trump's Carl Schmitt*) is perhaps the most alarming development yet.

Please God, Trump will be beaten decisively. Please God, he'll actually leave office. I have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that we're living through the last 55 days of American democracy and that, if we manage to lose it, we won't get it back in my lifetime.

*You can look it up.

KevCo 2:36 PM  

It is a credit to Mr. Agard's immense talent that, about a quarter of the way through the puzzle, I realized how much fun I was having and thought before looking at the byline "This feels like an Erik Agard puzzle." Sure enough, there he was. Shout out to Ms. Reid as well, whom I don't recognize (because I don't recognize most constructors), but I can't believe I can recognize Agard's puzzle voice on sight.

JC66 2:36 PM  

For those interested, here's @GHarris' letter.

Birchbark 2:47 PM  

Today's was fun.

@JAE (12:05) -- I skipped way back on my backwards archive trek to your recommended 10/28/94. I too was most challenged in the south, wrongly thinking that early success on the two long ones would pave the way. This is an unashamedly old-school, pre-Natick puzzle -- you just have to know things.

I reached my final roadblocks with 10 squares still empty, took my best guesses, and got two right using the "Check answers" feature. So back to work using dictionaries, an atlas, two maps, and even Wikipedia for 49A, which I probably should have known.

And the Wikipedia entry for 49A got me thinking. The widow of a wealthy New York businessman who lived downtown Manhattan in the late 18th/early 19th centuries and attended Trinity Church. Did they know the Hamiltons? Ron Chernow's "Hamilton" biography has a few passages which lead me to believe that 49A's son William was an early officer of the Bank of New York, who carried out Alexander Hamilton's directives to support public bond prices during early panics. Her charity to the poor in widowhood reminded me of Elizabeth Hamilton's own work on behalf of orphans. I wonder if and how often they crossed paths?

That is research for another day, all prompted by your puzzle recommendation -- thanks.

Frantic Sloth 3:05 PM  

@GHarris What worries me is years of his loading up the federal judgeships with the crony-esque. Can we dare hope the case will be sent back to the state?

Anonymous 3:16 PM  


It's worth the time and effort to read up 19th century US government. Corruption was the norm, not the exception. Let's party like it's 1859!!!

RJA 3:17 PM  

Base Wage is something you see quite a bit in the HR world - and, it is something more closely tied to union employees and salespeople that work on commission, i.e., base wage + commissions.

Palm Fronds was the best answer to a clue in a long, long time.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

If you look here: https://www.exaktime.com/blog/overtime-laws-by-state/ you'll find that only 4 states mandate OT on a daily basis, of which only CA is a Blue State. 17 have no mandate, of those only DE might be classified as Blue. There's a reason income inequality has increased since the OPEC oil embargo.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

We've got a growing affirmative action problem here. When Rex hates a puzzle, its because it was made by a man. when he loves a puzzle, there is a woman constructor there. I thought today's puzzle sucked more than face, but when I got the puzzle and saw the name "Caitlin" i know Rex was going to rave. He degrades women constructors when he does this, and here I wonder why he didn't gripe that she didn't need a male co-constructor?

Frantic Sloth 4:05 PM  

@Anonymous 316pm Ha! I guess what's old is new again. *sigh*

Larry 4:35 PM  

I remember explaining to my first wife that sucking face wasn’t cheating ....

sixtyni yogini 4:49 PM  


Linda 5:07 PM  

Well at least you tried hard to hate it. Better luck next time.

Whatsername 5:15 PM  

@JC66 (2:36) thanks so much for posting the link to the NYT opinion page.

@GHarris: I would not presume to critique the opinion of someone with your qualifications to debate a legal issue, but I thought your letter was incisive and very convincing. Like you, I hope the assigned judge will take swift decisive action in dispatching the case. And like @Nancy, I have that same sinking feeling.

bocamp 5:58 PM  

A delightful puzzle @ Caitlin Reid and Erik Agard! As well, a delightful write-up by @ Rex! Thank you all! 😊

Speaking of "delightful," the vid was all of that! What a super-talented group of people. 🎼

@ Frantic Sloth 2:16 AM: thank you for the "shout out" and the reiteration of the message. Appreciation for "differences", as well as respect and civility, can't be over-emphasized, not only in this blog, but in all facets of our lives. 😊

There are just so many things in this puzzle that evoke memories, feelings, thoughts, etc.. Maybe, I'll just start with "palm fronds". It's another warm day in Vancouver, so I've got all my "palm fronds" going (don't have AC). πŸ’¨

Not an imbiber, so "Mango Lassi" was unknown; might have seen it previously in a puzzle; don't recall. Thank goodness for the "fair crosses." πŸ™

Back in the day, "Fresco" was my go-to soda, and more recently "mango" or a combination thereof, has been my favorite juice drink. Now my beverage of choice is "agua fría." I guess I've come full circle; one of my favorite songs in the '50s was "Cool Water" by the "Sons of the Pioneers". It's such an earworm; I always keep a water bottle next to me, and sometimes after a few good swigs, I break out singing what little I can actually remember of the lyrics to "Cool Water". 🧊

As Mel Blanc used to say, "that's all for now folks".

Peace πŸ•Š

Kathy 6:32 PM  

The puzzle took me a long time to complete, in several sittings, but it was SO worth it. Erik’s puzzles are usually a little too sassy millennial for me, but not this time. Kudos to the Agard Reid team for the extra-crunchy fun. I agree with Rex, the puzzle somehow managed to be inclusive and low on PPP. I happen to be a big fan of devilish clueing, which is so much more fun than trivia.

I worked in the North Tower of the WTC and experienced the event firsthand. I will never forget how all men were brothers that day. And for a time thereafter, we were all united in a common cause, our safety. Nineteen years later, what happened?

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

@anon 3:44- The puzzle was fine. On its merits I’d give it sold B. Better than most. Rex, however, grades on a curve. It’s a good puzzle co-constructed by a woman and a person of color so he loved it. zzzzzzzz

Birchbark 6:37 PM  

Permit my to answer my own questions (2:47) about 49A of the 10/28/94 puzzle, which @JAE (12:05 a.m.) recommended: Yes to all. Her son was the Bank of New York officer who Chernow says played a role in quietly supporting bond prices during an early market panic. He lived on Wall Street near the Hamiltons. 49A and Elizabeth Hamilton were both founding members of the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows and Small Children (1797). Sources: web sites for American Magazine and The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.

Of the "Widow's Society," Chernow (p. 582) says: "This missionary society, composed of Christian women from various denominations, may rank as the first all-female social-service agency in New York City. Bearing food parcels and medicine to indigent widows, The Widow's Society volunteers saved almost one hundred women from the poorhouse during its first winter of operation alone."

jae 6:58 PM  

@Birchbark - I remember guessing 49a across correctly (I may have seen the person in a previous puzzle?), thank for the additional info.
Who knew Gauguin wrote a book?

Ernonymous 7:08 PM  

@anonymous 3:44 you post this same thought a lot. I disagree with you. If you look through just this past few months, he disliked a lot of puzzles made by women, and liked many made by men.

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

Judge Harris,
Your bias is showing.

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

The only thing worse than Gerald Harris’s ideas about law, are the crimes he commits against the language. Google his book of poetry and judge for yourself.

bocamp 7:37 PM  

I had the honor of serving on the USS Bryce Canyon back in the early '60s. We moored only a stone's throw from the USS Arizona Memorial on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. The USS Missouri docks there now. God Bless the memory of those who went down on the "Arizona" and may we all strive to rid this earth of all wars.

Peace πŸ•Š

bocamp 7:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
bocamp 8:03 PM  

The ultimate "smog"
has blanketed San Francisco. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the people of California, Oregon, Washington and other areas of the world where wildfires rage. πŸ™

TTrimble 8:25 PM  

Thank you for your letter. The accumulation of abuses feels like death by a thousand cuts. Not sure how we'll recover from this.

@Larry 4:35PM

A pretty toothsome puzzle I would say. Neither trivial nor unfair, and low on dreck. I'm not yet familiar with Caitlin Reid's work, but Erik Agard is a name that is quickly becoming familiar to me. I've seen him a little in interviews. Obviously very bright, and he strikes me as someone who would be fun at a party: congenial, and probably capable of conversing on just about anything under the sun. (I like his hair too. My son has a mop, which I sometimes call his "genius hair" -- like that of Beethoven or Einstein, as if the ideas that pour out fairly steam-curl the hairs.)

Thank you @BarbieBarbie for recalling Squirt and Wink. Like a long-buried song, things I would never remember without an out-of-the-blue reminder.

Runs with Scissors 8:53 PM  

I liked this puzzle!!

SUCKED FACE. This is something every teenager has wanted to do, but wouldn't be able to admit.

I had AMNESIA on a couple entries, but when PALM FRONDS and SQUARE FEET showed up, I swooed.

Lotsa good stuff, most of it has been said so I won't rehash. OH FORGET IT!!!

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

I really, reall, REALLY wanted to WEEN, and to be WEENING. After all, I can be overweeniing....

Still a few short. Dang it.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

Recover from what? Mr. Harris is beefing a legal decision. He may be correct. He may be wrong. In either event, the case is working its way through the courts, just as you were assured it would be in civics class.
The hysteria that the rule of law is under attack or the democracy is in jeopardy is over wrought.
The real threat is from fanatics like OFL indoctrinating the impressionable with all kinds of partisan nonsense.

Deb Sweeney 9:15 PM  

Loved this one! I had LOCKED LIPS instead of SUCKED FACE which slowed me down. And I had "maidenhood" and even worse "maidenhead" as Something Sacrificed at the Altar, which equals one disturbing wedding, or rite. Sigh of relief when I got "name."

Amiable Democrat 9:15 PM  

@G Harris- Bill Barr greatest AG ever. Thanks !

Runs with Scissors 9:16 PM  

Forgot to add....

FRESCA is an alternative to 7-UP as a different soda/soda pop/soft drink - not as an alternatively lemon-lime-flavored drink vis-a-vis another lemon-lime infused (artificially) carbonated drink.

FRESCA is also an alternative to Coca Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Hi-C, water, coffee, tea, keffir, ad nauseam.

Did I mention I liked the puzzle? 'Cause I did.

J Bull 9:23 PM  

GHarris is not a big believer in the 1st Amendment obviously. My guess is he’s not a fan of #2 or #5 either. Hey it’s his right, until it isn’t.

sasses 10:07 PM  

Nice letter! Well said!

TAB2TAB 10:22 PM  

This puzzle was a joy to solve, as the challenge was not whether or not we could recall the third volcano on Likki Lokki island, but whether we could use our *language skills* to tease out delightful words and phrases from clever clues. A quicker-than-usual Friday for me but still got the mental work out and "aha rewards I seek from the crossword. Great fun!

Eejit 12:21 AM  

Fun puzzle! Quick for me. I was thinking lube not luck. Lol.

GHarris 12:57 AM  

My thanks to all of you who commented on my letter, pro and con. That’s how a democratic forum should function.
@JC66 Thanks for posting.
@Nancy I had a notion of who Schmitt might be but, as you suggested I did look him up. You’re right, he is a better analogy for Barr. I share your foreboding about what’s to come. Law enforcement insiders are expecting serious violence.

Kathy 3:55 AM  

felt somewhat smug that i got “palm fronds” immediately. rest of the puzz followed suit. fun!

Kathy D. 4:05 AM  

Good puzzle, a lot of fun. Nothing obscure.

But one little annoyance: A lot of women do not sacrifice their maiden names at the altar. Most of the women I know keep their own last names. So do most writers, celebrities, artists, newscasters, reporters, other professionals. And other women, too. It's not a requirement of marriage that women give up their own names.

bocamp 12:03 PM  

@ Kathy D. 4:05 AM wrote:

"But one little annoyance: A lot of women do not sacrifice their maiden names at the altar. Most of the women I know keep their own last names. So do most writers, celebrities, artists, newscasters, reporters, other professionals. And other women, too. It's not a requirement of marriage that women give up their own names."

Bless your heart! I was remiss; I'd intended to comment on "maiden name" along the same lines as you, with a tad more emphasis on the "demise" of one more sexist, dying custom/tradition in our ongoing, inexorable march – slowly, but surely – toward a more equitable society. 😊

Peace πŸ•Š

ghkozen 11:32 AM  

I wanted to pike this puzzle, but the clue on ESCAPEROOM, like all clues of that type, single-handedly ruined the puzzle for me. Just trash.

thefogman 10:29 AM  

I had ginGerbeer before MANGOLASSI. Overall, this was a pretty satisfying Friday solve, although I’m not fond of the cluing for 61A. PS - I watched the DOC called Wordplay last night. It’s about the big annual crossword tournament and features lots of interesting characters. Great fun for any puzzle solver. It’s from 2006 so a bit dated, It would be great if they made a sequel starring some of the young guns like Eric Agard. Catch it if you can.

Burma Shave 11:54 AM  




BS2 11:55 AM  




Diana, LIW 3:12 PM  

One of my favorite kinds of solves. One where you get it, bit by bit, after starting certain that you'd have to give up. What a nice Friday treat. Even tho the MANGOLASSI was an unknown, I got to learn about it. Here LASSI, here girl. I'm not in the well.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 3:31 PM  

Caitlin and Erik, now that's ATEAM. Hard to find a FLAW.
My kitchen chairs have SQUAREFEET.
Never liked 'SUCKEDFACE', especially when uttered by Henry Fonda.Nice puz, thogh my comments are FASHIONABLYLATE.

leftcoaster 4:56 PM  

MANGOLASSI needed the crosses, and they finished off the tri-stack in the SE. Correponding stack in the NW came together fairly easily.

Fumbled in the NE corner because of sheer heedlessness, from IMAGERY on up through SMOG. No excuses (though that may be my excuse).

Otherwise, was glad to see a friendly and accessible Reid-Agard puzzle.

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