Eastern gambling mecca / FRI 10-2-20 / Giant actor of 1955 / Red peg in game Battleship / Modify so as to bypass a device's restrictions, in hacker lingo

Friday, October 2, 2020

Constructor: Debbie Ellerin

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:27) (wasn't really speeding even, *and* it's first thing in the morning)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: GNAR (61A: Growl like an angry dog) —
intr.v. gnarredgnar·ringgnars also gnarrs
To snarl; growl. (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •

An easy, smooth solve today. The longer answers stay pretty tame, but they're also uniformly solid, and even the puzzle's clear fascination with high-value Scrabble tiles (a potentially deadly distraction) doesn't derail the overall quality of the grid, which is mercifully free of junk. Well, there's Ben SASSE, but *otherwise* free of junk. This puzzle makes a good case for the Easy Themeless puzzle, which the NYT rarely has. I know I call Fridays "Easy" all the time, but that's "Easy if you are a constant solver" easy, "Easy relative to the norm" easy. It's nice to give beginners, people who have trouble getting past, say, a Wednesday puzzle, a taste of how delightful a really well-made wide-open themeless can be. The New Yorker already does this (it only serves up themelesses, and they get easier as the week progresses). This is to say that I think I would not mind the occasional Tuesday or Wednesday themeless. Raise the bar on theme quality, and then (since you will lose some mediocre themed puzzles through the bar-raising) replace them with *fun* *current* *creative* *original* themelesses. Just a thought. Anyway, this one felt really doable; part of that doability is how few proper nouns there are here. SAL / MINEO makes a (for me, very helpful) appearance (25A: With 17-Across, "Giant" actor of 1956), but virtually everything else is ordinary vocabulary, common phrases, etc. There's really not much to lock someone out, generationally or culturally. It's a warm cup of cocoa on a crisp autumn day, this one. And who doesn't like that? 

I had minor trouble in a number of places, but nothing substantial. Getting from [Tips] to ACMES took some thinking (and some crosses). Wanted TIES to be TWOS (!?) (12D: Deuces, e.g.). [Dress] was ambiguous enough that it took some time to get to FROCK. Had the BINGO and couldn't fathom what followed it ("event" not leading me easily to NIGHT (3D: Event with a room full of people). I feel like they play Bingo in the daytime in "Better Call Saul" ... the sun seems to be out, anyway; maybe I'm misremembering). I spelled KWIK like that at first (31D: Classic cocoa powder brand). I thought Bundt pans were *always* MOLDS (44A: Possible uses for Bundt pans) (the term "cake molds" exists ... so ... wait, when are Bundt pans *not* molds? Are you feeding your dog out of a Bundt pan?). Easily the most confusing answer (also, arguably, the worst answer) in the grid was RAKER (47D: Fall person, perhaps). Random ER-ification of a verb. Defensible, but unpleasant. Also slightly unpleasant: GNAR, which is a word no one uses and also a word I confuse with ... what are the bumps on trees called? KNARs? Yes, I confuse it with that. Luckily RBG set me straight. Hope you found this one at least pleasant. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 6:47 AM  

Not a lot to say. Pretty easy for me for a Fridee, but still impressive and entertaining.

One note: RYES - POC? What's next? Satanics? It's like Ebonics, but for evil-doers. 😉


Lewis 7:09 AM  

You wake up in the morning with no idea what the day is going to bring, and often times there are surprises (like this morning’s headline) – this keeps life interesting. Crosswords are the same. Coming into a Friday, say, you don’t know if it’s going to astonish you, bore you, make you laugh in places, bring you to your knees, or be a downhill coast.

Today brought wheelhouse synchronicity. Debbie and I were locked in a mind meld and kazaam! -- the grid filled in -- a surprising occurrence for me on Fridays. MAIN COURSE slapped down with no crosses; I even dredged up SAL MINEO in warp speed.

But I wasn’t going so fast as to miss some lovely answers – BINGO NIGHT, THIRD PARTY, LIVESTREAM, SCUTTLE and the gorgeous QUID PRO QUO. Or the contradictory neighbors ACMES and ON LOW. Or having ZEN MASTER and LET BE add a calm vibe. Not to mention the joy of traversing a smooth clean grid.

So once again I came blank and unknowing into a puzzle, only to leave having experienced something unique and compelling. I love this pastime and the passionate constructors and editors that bring spark to it. Thank you, Debbie, for your most enjoyable creation!

Z 7:10 AM  

This took me twice as long as today's New Yorker puzzle, so I don't know about "easy." Of course, most of the slow downs were of my own doing like MAIN entreE and orBIT and TEST gradES, so probably more me than the puzzle. I was also stuck in the "tennis or cards" debate before "pilots" became unavoidable. D'Oh.

RYES! Wye? It's not natural.

Anyone pondering Pericles this morning? Not the kind of "October Surprise" anyone needed, but sadly not surprising.

Kevin C. 7:26 AM  

Enjoyed this one. Even though there were a lot of high-value letters, they never felt wedged in, with all the surrounding parts of the puzzle flowing nicely.

ARA crossing SASSE was the one annoying bit, but I don't see an easy way to avoid it without losing the marvelous down answers next to it.

ChuckD 7:29 AM  

Pretty quick Friday. Agree with Rex that there wasn’t a lot of sparkle but nothing terrible either. Liked BINGO NIGHT and ZEN MASTER - the other longs seemed flat. I still do PLANKS everyday but refuse to go to ROOFTOP bars in the city - not that many are still in business.

Decent solve - but needed to be more GNARly.

Frantic Sloth 7:30 AM  

@Z 710am Pericles? Only in a Schadenfreudey irony kinda way. Oh, and I might have needed it. 😉

BEE-ER 7:34 AM  

SB spoiler??

Holy S***!! I just saw yesterday's SB answers. I took a break at about 100 pts. and never got back to it. 62 words and 337 points possible.

Charles Flaster 7:43 AM  

Total agreement with Rex .
EZ and enjoyable.
Two writeovers were quickly found:
Loved the misdirect for BINGO NIGHT.
Thanks DE.

Lolcat Lisa 7:55 AM  

Waiting for the day that Quik is clued, "Jus Lyke Compton" rapper DJ ________

pabloinnh 8:23 AM  

Nice Friday, smooth and easy. A couple of things I didn't know I knew, like JAILBREAK and LIVESTREAM on "Twitch"(?). DOSE before DOLE and wanted a BINGE something or other before BINGO showed up. Always nice to see old friend ARA (How have you been?) which used to be invariably clued as "sky altar".

Today's news falls into the "shocking but not surprising" category, like much of our other news these days.

Thanks for a fun Friday, DE. Over too soon, and now back to the "real" world.

Argy 8:39 AM  

A little too easy. I like a puzzle that takes me hours to solve so as to take my mind off of you know who. Guess he will miss his daily tee times for at least a week.

Richardf8 8:40 AM  

I got into the mid 200s and was astounded at how much stuff I had left on the floor.

Harryp 8:41 AM  

This was right in my wheelhouse and played like a Medium Challenging Wednesday. I didn't remember SAL MINEO in the cast of Giant. Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor were the giants, and James Dean was the new kid on the block. I liked the clue for BINGO NIGHT, and had fun with AXIOMATIC, BASALT, and QUID PRO QUO. There was even a mini tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and it's a Pangram, so what more could we ask for? Thanks Ms. Ellerin for an enjoyable Puzzle.

Richardf8 8:41 AM  

Sometimes Schadenfreude is the best freude.

Joe R. 8:45 AM  

The MOLDS in question are things like Jell-o molds, not the kind of mold used to shape something.

Blackhat 8:51 AM  

7 names, 2 foreign words....

RooMonster 8:59 AM  

Hey All !
First, following the Trump news, guess what? Global warming is real, too.

Anyway, politics aside (it's sad when even I get into the fray), my puz got down to the Natick whack-a-vowel (Hi @Z!) of AR_/S_SSE. Managed to throw in the A, as that seemed the best choice for a constellation.

A pangram. Nice. Nice grid with two 9's stacked Across in NE, SW, and two 10's stacked Down in NW, SE. And nice pairs of words. Remarkably clean fill. Scrabble twerking without losing integrity.

Not sure what ENG is though... can look it up, but lazy! Anyone?

So a nice start to a Friday. 22 minutes here, which is quick for me on a FriPuz. Surprising, as I started off quite slowly.

K fest in SW. Where's the F fest? 😀

One F

57stratocaster 9:09 AM  

Frockin' great Friday puzzle. Started slow...after a couple minutes I thought this one was going to get me, but I plugged away and the answers fell in square by square, ending with a time a bit faster than average.

DavidL 9:09 AM  

After 15 minutes of work on this puzzle, only about 25% of the squares were filled in, in a fairly random pattern about the grid. Just COULDN'T get any momentum.

Then, it was like a light switch went on, and I finished the last 75% in a mad rush. You tune into the frequency of the constructor, and WHOOSH. Love when that happens.

"Schist" instead of BASALT set me back big time in the NE. Learned "schist" while rafting in the Grand Canyon, and got overly excited to use it in a puzzle.

Stared at REW RITES an oddly long time before seeing RE WRITES.

A clean, enjoyable Friday. Well done, Debbie Ellerin.

Alex M 9:23 AM  

I'm so confused by this, what does it mean?? POC is pretty universally understood to mean people of colour nowadays, I'm so lost by how Satanism (and "Ebonics") entered the chat

jfpon 9:24 AM  


ENG = England

BenSchu 9:32 AM  

Hi! First time commenter who has recently gone from an every-now-and-then crossworder to someone doing the NYTXW every day in order to stave off the growing dread of 2020 in America!

Agree that this one was pretty easy for a Friday (just shy of 20 minutes for me).

Like DavidL, I just couldn't see RE WRITES. I read the clue (21D: Overdrafts?) a little too literally, so before filling in ID BET (36A), I was trying to make it something-RATES, and then was trying to figure out what REW RATES were. Even once I had the puzzle entirely filled in (that "I" was my last letter), I stared at REW RITES for a couple minutes before seeing RE WRITES.

And thank you Debbie Ellerin for reminding me of the excellence of Nestle QUIK, which I probably had 3 times a week for my entire childhood.

David 9:32 AM  

Twos before ties for sure. Wondered for about 30 seconds if they wanted "Liz" Taylor even though she was billed with her full name, but it just wouldn't work so I went with a secondary (tertiary?) character. I guess putting Giant in quotes was a misdirect.

This is the nicest puzzle (for me) in recent memory. Solid and fun. I expect we'll see a lot of Ben Sasse in puzzles, that name just is too useful to pass up. Probably would have paused on "ara" and "gnar" if they hadn't filled with downs. I didn't even see ara before reading comments here. Also Scrabble tiles. That's a thing? Who knew crossword constructors are more geeky than iPhone jailbreakers?

Many thanks for a lovely start to Friday.

lukiegrifpa 9:34 AM  

I consider myself fairly intelligent and I’m not a crossword beginner, but this took me a long time. Admittedly I was watching the breaking news and making breakfast in between, but this is just a shout-out to those of us who enjoy a Friday themeless even if it does take an hour or more to complete.

Dr. Fauci 9:52 AM  

I need to see the PCR results ...

Oh yeah, nice puzzle

Nancy 10:06 AM  

I enjoyed every nanosecond of this zippy and well-clued puzzle and am exceedingly sorry it's over. Looking back now, it doesn't seem so hard, but while I was doing it, it did. I didn't get my toehold until I'D SAY at 36A, which turned out to be wrong:)

I wanted AMBER from the get-go at 1A, but wouldn't put it in until I could confirm it. Just the E from ERE wasn't enough -- not on a Friday. Only later did the OURSE from MAIN COURSE get me the M of AMBER. Because I didn't see the well-clued ROOFTOP and couldn't think of a word beginning with A meaning "tips".

Inspired clues for QUID PRO QUO, BINGO NIGHTS and REWRITES. Everything about this puzzle was colorful, interesting and fair. (Although I do think of "Brass" as being military officers, not just run-of-the-mill EXECS. Did I think of the EXECS in the publishing houses I worked in as being the brass? Not even once. We basically called them "the 45th floor" because that's where they were situated, whereas we, PEONs that we were, were on the 44th.

Abe 10:08 AM  

Love the idea of sprinkling in some early week themeless puzzles into the mix; I just can't decide if I'd prefer them to pop up at random or come out on a set monthly schedule, like a Third Tuesday Themeless or something.

Wait, now that the alliteration genie is out of the bottle, I think I have a preference...

Rug Crazy 10:10 AM  


What? 10:14 AM  

Hard. Wait, I finished. So not that hard. Enjoyed it.

mathgent 10:14 AM  

The constructor says that she built the grid around QUIDPROQUO. It was in the news at the time she created. The Trump phone call, I suppose. But I mostly remember Hannibal Lecter saying, “Quid pro quo, Clarice.”

Very nice puzzle. Most of you found it easier than I did. I like JAILBREAK and learned it has a hacker meaning. SCUTTLE is another terrific word. Also YOM.

I haven’t checked the definition, but AXIOMATIC doesn’t quite mean self-evident to me. I’m thinking if it in the Euclidean sense. An axiom is self-evident but an axiomatic statement needs to be proved.

Z 10:17 AM  

@Alex M - Here in Rexville POC is short for Plurals of Convenience, the use of plurals, and the letter S generally, to pad out a puzzle (@Anoa Bob can provide a fuller explanation). As to why Rye, NY is associated with Satan, blame Shortz. Definitely do not blame me. (IOW - a sequence of insider terms and insidery jokes)

@Frantic Sloth - I was thinking more along the lines that contagions didn’t give a damn about politics then any more than they care about politics now. (@People unfamiliar - The Plague of Athens.)

jberg 10:19 AM  

@Alex M— Plural Of Convenience.

jberg 10:23 AM  

@Roo— I don’t want it to be, but I think ENG = England. Lamest clue ever, IMO.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

You know, I'm getting really tired of the apotheosis of Ginsburg. Today, 55 down, "Late Justice known for powerful dissents, for short." I put in "BS" as in bullsh-t. I don't know if Debbie Ellerin is a lawyer, but I am. I practice almost exclusively in the federal courts, and from the federal litigator perspective Ginsburg is known for her overly long, very obtuse and utterly incomprehensible writing. As lawyers, we expect the Supreme Court to clarify the law or state the law so that we can advise our clients accordingly. Decisions and dissents that run to hundreds of pages may be fun for these justices to write, but it is not fun for Americans who pay lawyers like to me to read this crap and offer advice based upon what is written. So, this clue is such crap that it makes me angry. One thing I will say about the new justices that our president is appointing is that these justices came of age in an era of useless decisions, so these newer, younger judges, have stopped the avalanche of crap that has been the result of the invention of the word processor. RBG sucked. She was the worst offender, and Scalia used to chide her about this problem.

jberg 10:32 AM  

It’s always Leicester to see ACME(S) here, and looking back I think it’s a fine puzzle—but grueling for me. My deuces were a pair, my two-wheelers were bicycleS ( nice deception, actually) and I put SeEd in my bird feeder.

Some clueing seemed a bit off— AXIOMATIC is not the same as self-evident ( at least in logic), socialists are rarely a THIRD PARTY anymore (see Bernie Sanders), and I already commented on ENG Then there’s GNAR, which is properly defined as the roar of the gnu. But it was a good struggle, in the end.

bocamp 10:35 AM  

@ Rex said it best: "An easy, smooth solve today." Thank you @ Debbie for this most enjoyable ride. :)

Unlike yesterday's fiasco (for me), this was an average Wednesday, difficulty-wise, but with plenty of Friday-like flair. I loved it!

A "brava" worthy collection by my favorite "diva", Maria Callas: 90 Most Beautiful Opera Arias / New Mastering

It's almost impossible to "scuttle" a canoe, but capsizing is a real possibility; at summer camp we learned how right it, to empty it of most of the water and climb back aboard:
Deep water shakeout

When is a door not a door? (an oldie, but always a goodie)

"Sal Mineo" - Lasting Love (1957)

"Axiomatic:" what a great word!

Up on the Roof - The Drifters

Being a fellow Nebraskan, my Dad probably would have been a Ben Sasse supporter.

"In September 2017, Sasse said he thought about leaving the GOP "every morning" and said that he thought of himself as "an independent conservative who caucuses with the Republicans."[51"

@ Richardf8 8:40 AM

Ditto that :)

Peace 和平 Salam ειρήνη Pax 🕊

Z 10:52 AM  

@jberg - three different dictionaries all use”self-evident” in the definition.
As for the ENG clue, if Ellerin wrote it that’s called knowing your audience. If Shortz wrote it... well, just a little self-involved.
Also, I’m still working out why auto-corrupt is a Jamie Vardy fan.

@Anon10:24 - LOL. Certainly the kind of comment to make anonymously. You know how to tell the difference between a good lawyer and a hack? Hacks use 50¢ words when a 5¢ word would do.

Sir Hillary 10:59 AM  

Overall, this is very nice work. I found it quite a challenge, actually -- took me a long time to get any kind of foothold. When I did, it was short stuff (DIVA, ISH, ETTU, QBS) that I had a hard time LINKing up. But I got there eventually, and it was fun.

While solving, I could sense we were heading for a pangram but, as Rex says, it never felt forced.

The long pairs in each corner are wonderful.

Stellar clue for REWRITES -- of which, my only one today was orBIT >> AMBIT.

Not a big fan of GNAR and IDBET, but those are minor issues for me. No complaints otherwise.

In one corner of my backyard, an equilateral right triangle of about 200 square feet is technically in RYE, NY. I've never seen Satan dancing back there, but I invoke his name (and God's) every FROCKing time I have to pay taxes to the City of RYE in return for absolutely nothing.

Whatsername 11:04 AM  

After being stumped big-time yesterday I didn’t do much better today. This had some some really nice long downs and crosses and I appreciate the pangram. I saw the film GIANT and read the book long ago but could not think of SAL MINEO no matter what. All I could see in my mind was James Dean. Never heard of Twitch but assume it’s yet another social media thing I need to know about if I want to be a woke crossword solver. *Sigh*

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

@Z 10:52 AM

What do you know about lawyers, Z? You’re a schoolteacher. Did you read that on Wikipedia?

Tom R 11:14 AM  

Been following Rex for quite a while even though I am waaaayyyy out of his league. I pretty much never time myself (slamming through these things isn't my style and not why I do them), but I would guess my times are between 10 and 20 times his. Also, what I call easy and hard often doesn't match up with his assessment. Anyway, I agree this time. Easiest Friday I have ever done. Just happened to catch the clock as I started last night because it was so late. 12 MINUTES!! I couldn't believe it. That's like a Monday or Tuesday for me. And it was good fill. Wonderful.

I'm sure I'll be back to a 2 hour grind tomorrow, but today I celebrate.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

I think the clue for RAKER would be vastly improved by editing it to 'Fall guy,' a decently clever spin of an in-the-language term.

GILL I. 11:18 AM  

@Z...you might've awoken to Pericles this morning....my mind wandered to M.C. Escher. I even had thoughts of The Ship of Theseus.
This was a delightful puzzle. Puzzle indeed! I sailed through this and loved that I knew things I didn't even know. I don't twitch, yet LIVE STREAM went in like a nicely oiled DIVA. The only volcanic rock I know is lava, and yet BASOL oozed into the fray. FROCK is a word that someone's great aunt would use and yet I wore it with a smile as it slipped on during my ROOF TOP memories. Speaking of....If ever you go to Oaxaca, go to the Destilado restaurant. Their ROOF TOP is called ....wait for it...."El Techo." Great tacos and great drinks.
@Anony 10:24. Perhaps you are right....I'm no lawyer. Maybe she should've been clued as building her career on the fight for women's rights.
We're still in Auburn and the skies of California are back to being ugly. So much smoke. But...we had our golden delicious little granddaughter over yesterday and she brought the much needed sunshine. I also think I lost about 10 pounds running after her delightful "catch me if you can" taunts. Yep...life CAN be good! You just have to find an opening somewhere.

Deb Sweeney 11:21 AM  

Fun one. That said, I don't know how you people solve these in 5 minutes or less. I feel like I couldn't even write that fast. Is it fun? You don't feel like a hamster on a wheel or a person running from a bear? Kinda curious.

Hack mechanic 11:27 AM  

I'd say it's a toss up between that, sal mineo or the ara/sasse cross personally.

TTrimble 11:31 AM  

I solved this in the wee hours in a blurry-eyed state and a stack of papers left to grade, so for me it didn't go down "smooth and easy", but it wasn't exactly difficult either, and my time was markedly better than my historical average, so okay then.

Re AXIOMATIC: often I do these puzzles by applying a little psychology, imagining what I think they're going for rather than worrying if they are cluing correctly and faithfully. So seeing "self-evident", and knowing of the kind of old-fashioned thinking of (mathematical) axioms as "self-evident truths", AXIOMATIC went in without hesitation 'cause I just figured that's what they were going for. But...

***Nerd Alert***

TL; DR: The modern view of mathematical axioms is not that they are necessarily "self-evident" Truths, but more like starting points for an investigation, and they can be changed depending on local circumstances.

Euclid's axioms/postulates illustrate the point well. For centuries, right up through about Kant, they were regarded as necessary truths about space. That is, until mathematicians began experimenting with the heresy that maybe geometry didn't have to obey all of Euclid's axioms -- and in fact Gauss and Bolyai and Lobachevsky found that you could develop an alternative world of geometry which internally was just as consistent as Euclid's, but directly contradicted one of his axioms. Now, both systems can't be simultaneously "true", because one system upholds Euclid's parallel postulate, and the other firmly denies it. This was the beginning of the idea that maybe mathematics isn't really about Absolute Truths after all, but about abstract forms and models and what can be deduced with certainty about them, based on the local axioms they obey. Thus the idea that axioms are no longer viewed as self-evident truths per se, but serve as key underlying principles that describe/circumscribe certain types of mathematical worlds.

***End Nerd Alert***

---[Begin SB Alert]---
-->> spoilers from a few days ago <<--

Oh my, was I envious of the slew of you who were crowned on Tuesday, because I was stuck at one word away and couldn't break through. I kept the tab open nonetheless and then, in last night's bleary-eyed state mentioned above, and just playing around with letters, I uncovered ICHOR and that was it!

Seriously -- all of you royals knew that word??! I sure didn't!

I may give up though on yesterday's, currently at seven words away.

Today, despite what looks like an unprepossessing septet of letters, there are 53 in all and I'm at 40. Sheesh. Looks like a slog.

jae 11:35 AM  

Very easy. My only erasure was orBIT before AMBIT. Smooth and sparkly, liked it

Masked and Anonymous 11:43 AM  

@RP: Yes. yes. An occasional themeless TuesPuz [some of those TuesPups seem like they're themeless, already] would be fine. And then an extra-hard themed FriPuz, for the same week. QUIDPROQUO, bro.

This FriPuz was pangramlicious. Lotsa fave fillins, but the top five at our house was: QUIDPROQUO. BINGONIGHT. ROOFTOP. JAILBREAK. COCKPIT.

staff weeject pick: QBS. Plural abbreve Q-ball.

M&A had some trouble gettin started on this one, but did eventually figure it all out. I think my first get was ETTU. Then TWOS [wrong]. Then PUMICE [wrong again, M&A breath]. Then SUET [didn't fall into the SEED-trap, there]. Then MACAU [MACAO also a possibility, but lacked a sufficiently flashy finale].
Then SCUTTLE, ETAS, DIVA, HIT, … and BINGO time was afoot.

Modest amount of clue sasse here, what with only two ?-mark clues. Altho, some other clues still managed to come off as plenty mysterious [JAILBREAK clue, f'rinstance].

Thanx for the themeless fun, Ms. Ellerin darlin. Not quite a TuesPuz, tho. But maybe with all gimme clues it coulda been, IDBET. On accounta the primo smooth fillins.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

p.s. Not sure how much I'd like to construct a themeless TuesPuz. Sounds like a real tough challenge. Can a ThemelessTuesday have 78 words? Just askin, for a friend without a theme.


Anonymous 11:43 AM  

from watching WWII movies, a boat is SCUTTLEd by blowing a whole near the center of the keel, thus guaranteeing that if fills and settles to the bottom. one can SCUTTLE any boat that way.

Carola 11:48 AM  

Medium for me and very enjoyable. I liked the meeting-of-the-minds juxtaposition of AXIOMATIC and ZEN and the SCUTTLE KETTLES pair, but shuddered a bit at BREAK over ANKLEBONE (I'm in that "Be careful not to fall!" age group). Nice to be with it enough to know JAILBREAK and LIVESTREAM right off the bat while still remembering when ladies wore FROCKs and SAL MINEO appeared on the big screen.

Newboy 11:48 AM  

Thanks Debbie you made me stretch today. I love a pangram almost as much as a rebus, so I will forgive both GNAR and that AR?/S?SSE that left my grid and ego unfulfilled. Far from easy as I needed to start from your seed QUID PRO QUO and hop, skip & jump about until links began to appear.

johnk 11:57 AM  

It wasn't about high value Scrabble tiles. Ellerin used every letter in the alphabet in this puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 11:58 AM  

@Richardf8 841am 👍

@Z 1017am. Ah. BTW, isn't it Periclopodes?

@Alex M 923am Sorry about that. To paraphrase another George Costanzaism...it's not you. It's @Z.

@Roo 859am Ha! I didn't even notice the pangram. I guess what Rex,et.al. said about sneaky, silent scrabbling was right!

Hey there, @BenSchu - Welcome aboard! Your thought train looks eerily familiar to me (in general) and odds are, we aren't alone. Keep it coming!

Like @Nancy, I gave the side eye to Brass = EXECS for the same reason. EXECS are more akin to "bosses" "managers" "suits" (I call bud-nipping on any discussion about the TV show), or my personal favorites: "cheeses" and "corporate pukes". No offense to any of the ilk.

@Deb Sweeney 1121am LOL! Well, you can leave me out of it, so I have no answer for you. 😉

Brought to you by 1024am, Today's idle ponderment (TIP): What does incomprehensibility even look like to a lawyer? One shudders at the thought.

Now to go back and read @TTrimble's 1131am *Nerd Alert* Since it'll probably take me the rest of the day to just pretend I understand any of it, see youz tomorrow! (No rejoicing, please.) Then again, the attempt itself will more likely prompt my swift return. So there. 😘

Frantic Sloth 12:25 PM  

Holy Moly! Pericles and Ship of Theseus and Dueling scuttles and varying AXIOMATICs and @TTrimble!

@Whatsername - got room for me on that remedial bench??

Z 12:28 PM  

@Gill I - Ship of Theseus? You lost me there (not the paradox, but why you woke thinking of it).

@FS - Pericilopodes - Har! Sounds like the name of a satanic wooden roller coaster in Rye.

@TTrimble - Nice Nerd Alert.

Ernonymous 12:45 PM  

Rex is right, the beginners like myself did feel good after completing this one fast. It took me 23 minutes, which might seem slow to you old pros, but I think it's a Friday record for me. Most Fridays take me 45 minutes to an hour.

Destiny’s child 12:48 PM  

Crosswords are my greatest distraction when the world is too much with me. Today’s puzzle was enjoyably easy. Loved RBG tribute

bocamp 12:49 PM  

@ Tom R 11:14 AM

That 12 min. time bodes well for you, Tom. All the best in your future puzzling. :)

@ Anonymous 11:18 AM

Agreed; like "fall guy" much more than "fall person"

@ GILL I. 11:18 AM

Best wishes to you and your "golden delicious" 🙏

@Anonymous 11:43 AM

Good point!

**** SB ALERT ****

@ TTrimble 11:31 AM

I got the one you missed Tuesday, but was still two short. I bet you'll not forget it, though. :)

Down to 8 to go for yesterday's; the only reason I'm still working on it is I haven't got the pangram yet. 🤞

So, you indicated that you kept the "tab" open. I'm assuming this means one can work on any number of previous day's puzzles at the same time (a work-around for lack of an archive). Good thinking! I'll give it a try. :)

Peace 和平 Salam ειρήνη Pax Sith 🕊

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

Easy-schmeezy. If you could think of the clue words in more than one way, I chose the wrong way every time. I ignored the question mark on the 10A clue and put in "pupA" which paired nicely with "pair" for 12D's Deuces, e.g.

BASALT rubbed out my pupA but BETA enabled Twos for Deuces, as I see many others chose also. FROCK went in but because I wanted guts- or nerve-related "Brass" and because I was thinking of a Cheddar-like sharpness at 6D, I needed to back into that section from the NE.

I don't think I got better as I went south but I did learn caution apparently because I have very little black ink lower down except for the orBIT/AMBIT dust-up.

BINGO NIGHT, ZENMASTER, AXIOMATIC, SCUTTLE, THIRD PARTY all added to the fun. Thanks, Debbie Ellerin!

Anoa Bob 1:34 PM  

Very scrabbly themeless puzzle that is a nice balance of being challenging but still doable.

Hello SAL MINEO my old friend, you've come to help my solve again. You used to be a regular in these parts. Where have you been? And will we be seeing your pal YUL BRYNNER any time soon?

ZEN MASTER strikes me as a contradiction of terms. That looks more like something we might hear in a B grade Kung Fu movie. "Sensei" is closer to "teacher" than MASTER.

I think this whole week has been a celebration of POCs week. I'm getting a lot of cards and letters asking how yous can spot the two POCs with one S variety. Today's puzzle offers several examples. Some have already called out the 60A RYES entry as questionable, but also notice that the final S is shared by 42D TWILLS. That S square could be changed to a black square, the clues slightly tweaked and, other than symmetry, nothing of substance would be lost.

For those who are still working on your POC Merit Badge, there are three other two POCs with one S examples in this grid. Find those, write your answers on the outside of a six pack of Carta Blanca beer and send it to Anoa Bob, General Delivery, Coastal South Texas. There's quite a backlog already, so be patient grasshopper.

Must add SASSE to my word list. That's a robust enabler for three POCs PRECEPTS, PORES and IOTAS. I think the mother of all POC enablers would be ASSESSES. Put that in a bottom row or far right column and it will support five(!) POCs.

Not a Hack 1:38 PM  

@Z 10:52: So, how many RBG opinions have you read? I don't particularly agree with @Anon 10:24, but unlike you and Trump, I'm able to disagree without name-calling. Read some SCOTUS opinions (RBG's and others, so you can make a fair comparison), and let us know when you're prepared to address the *substance* of @Anon 10:24's claim.

GILL I. 1:43 PM  

@Z...Visions of irony or karma...slayer of the Minotaur. Sugar plum fairies dancing in my addled brain. I don't know...this too, could come back to bite me.....

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Are you on tranquilizers? Been very mellow these last few days.

egsforbreakfast 2:02 PM  

Let me be the lone voice, crying in the wilderness, “NO ADDITIONAL THEMELESS DAYS!!!!!” I appreciate the thought process that goes into constructing and solving themed puzzles far more than I appreciate any themeless. I know it is just a matter of taste, but please, leave well enough alone.

Fargo 2:23 PM  

Wait. What? To Gnar??? "That dog was gnarring at me." I'm Sorry. Nobody has ever used that word in that way. Ever.

TTrimble 2:25 PM  

@Gill I.
I was stuck not only on why The Ship of Theseus, but also on why M.C. Escher. Penny for your thoughts?

Pamela 2:53 PM  

21D took a while. I had the EW and really wanted an N first, even though FROCK seemed likely for the cross. Eventually all the letters filled in, I shrugged at REW RITES and ‘temporarily’ moved on. I never did go back to figure that out, completely forgot about it, got the happy music, then came here and let out a loud hoot! Thanks, DavidL.

Hand up for TwoS before TIES, pupA before BETA.

Otherwise, an easy day with some very nice clues and answers, as already noted above by so many of you.

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

Many woes this week, including today. I’m now 4 words away from the crown, and feel like I’ve had enough. Bah, humbug.

Better luck tomorrow?

CDilly52 2:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GILL I. 2:56 PM  

@TTrimble. You wake up to news that POTUS has tested positive for COVID. Two days previously he mocked Biden for wearing a face mask. Since last March, he's poo pooed this horrible infection; many times refusing to wear any protection. When you look at anything M.C. Escher draws, you (or at least, I) think BIZARRO. When I think of Theseus, I'm reminded of the slayer of the Minotaur. I think you get my little drift?
Cheers...and as our friend, @bocamp says.....Paz!

CDilly52 2:57 PM  

The proverbial “they,” after all @eggs do say variety is the spice of life. If it ain’t broke . . .

CDilly52 2:57 PM  

Hallelujah-made it to another Friday!!! From yesterday: thanks @bocamp and JC66 Re SB. Good grief!! As many years as I worked the NYTXW on paper, and have seen Spelling Bee I don’t know how many thousands of times, it’s been a long time since I both read the NYT and solved on paper. I both read and solve on line and solve in the app CVBSo I forgot all about SB. Head smack and a big “Hey, Self, you are waaaay too tired DUH!” Thanks.

Today was an excellent Friday. For a change, OFL and I are on the same page about this one. Except for the NE for me. Even after AXIOMATIC and ZEN MASTER, the BASALT-TIES cross just Would. Not Fall. I put in BASALT absolutely certain it was correct and deleted it three (or more) times, and long after I figured out that deuces are TIES not dIES (far too long to be good for my self esteem) the answer just didn’t make sense. Blaming it on COVID-Fatigue. It is an official “real thing” now as I understand the medical community I consult on a variety of issues lately. Of course I absolutely do not deserve it employ that excuse despite the fact that I have to work many, many more hours than usual. At least I do not work in a hospital or medical facility with constant direct contact with folks unfortunate enough to have contracted the “bug” pardon the expression.

Speaking of the “bug” in the clue: yep, married for 45 years to a brilliant computer systems designer who often would say on his way out the door to a client, “I’m on my way to de-BUG Burns Flat or Wayne, or wherever. All Those years hearing that word and all I can think of is this type of 🐜 🕷 🐛 . Sorry, sweetheart 🥵 . When I finally filled that on in, I wanted to cheer both because my happy 🎶 told me it was correct and I finished!! With three metaphorical cheers for the genius of the BETA clue.

Super fun, Friday appropriate despite its apparent easiness (for some) and so little junk. Loved it. All throughout, I thought “Here comes a new Friday record, and once again, hubris will out. Good thing I don’t solve for speed. Still did better than my usual Friday average by about a minute, but I wish now that I had looked at my time before I returned to the NE after all the rest was complete just to see how long it took me to figure out BASALT-TIES.

Stay safe, friends and thank you for your generosity in accepting new voices here. You have all become so important to me. Especially on days when I am just too tired to post (or it is so late that it’s almost “tomorrow” and I decide to just wait), reading all the commentary reminds me how important community is to human life. And how fundamentally critical the free expression of thoughts and opinions is to the successful perpetuation of our free society. Occasionally, I am reminded how much I wish everyone would check their knee-jerks and remember that painful mockery, derision and anger fails to further productive, creative discourse.

Spread the love 💕 not the virus! Have a great weekend.

TTrimble 3:24 PM  

@Gill I.
Thanks! The repetition of slayer of the Minotaur helped; sometimes we (or I) need a little repetition before the idea finally gets through.

Mention of Escher is prone to send me off into another fit of nerdliness, but I think I'll clam up about the effect he has on me (and some will be thankful for that!).

Happy Friday, everyone!

bocamp 3:33 PM  

@ CDilly52 2:57 PM

yw :) glad you're onboard with the puz! Love your last paragraph and "Amen" to your tag line. 💕

**** SB ALERT ****

@Pamela 2:53 PM

Similar experience with this week's SBs. Learning little bits and pieces every day, to aid with future solves. 8 to go for today. 🤞

Peace 和平 Salam ειρήνη Pax Sith 🕊

Richardf8 4:02 PM  

Just curious, how do you determine that there are 53 in all?

Unknown 4:10 PM  

Even if this had been a weak puzzle, I'd still be in a good mood.

No Star Wars, no Harry Potter, no Brian ENO, and nothing to EKE out.
A refreshing puzzle. Tough but fair. I only quibble at GNAR.

Query: Since rex seems to really like the new yorker puzzles, and never wastes any opportunity to praise them at the expense of Mr. Shortz and the NYT, why doesn't he just start blogging about those puzzles instead? He'd be happier, and we would as well.

To anonymous, I'm a lawyer, and I have to say I find most of the SCOTUS opinions to be wordy. 40 years ago they were much more concise.

bocamp 5:04 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Richardf8

@ JC66 10:23 PM (late yesterday) left this "nugget".

"If you go to nybee.com you can get as much/little info as you'd like."

A friendly word of advice (I learned this the hard way): when your post includes "Spelling Bee" stuff, always include "**** SB ALERT **** above the applicable part. :)

Peace 和平 Salam ειρήνη Pax Sith 🕊

TTrimble 5:12 PM  

There's a site called nytbee.com which has this information and more: how many points to reach Genius, how many 4-letters words, 5-letter words etc. there are, what words are on the unaccepted list, and of course (if you give up) the list of accepted words [the ones you need for Queen Bee]. It also has a few statistics on past puzzles.

Some people might consider it cheating to access the numbers of words according to length. I don't have such moral qualms myself: even with that help, I find it's usually pretty hard reaching Queen Bee.

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

I appreciate the thought process that goes into constructing and solving themed puzzles far more than I appreciate any themeless.

I hope, praise Allah, that 'themed' doesn't include quotations, real and fabricated.

Doug Garr 5:39 PM  

Shortz should have switched Thursday with Friday this week. From a middling puzzler. Just sayin'. Even though I sort of figured out the rebus yesterday, I didn't finish it.

Barbara S. 5:51 PM  

****SB ALERT****

@BEE-ER (7:34 a.m.)
Yeah, yesterday was a bear! I stopped 7 words away from QB, but there was really only one of the 7 that I genuinely didn't know. I guess I won't mention it, as a growing number of people seem to keep tabs open for several days.

@TTrimble (11:31 a.m.)
I do know ICHOR, but I'm not entirely sure how I know it. It's in "The Iliad." But it also likely came up in my H.S. Latin class. Not that we studied Greek literature in that class, but there was a lot of talk about Classical mythology in general. ICHOR is the substance that flows through the veins of the Classical gods and immortals!

@Pamela (2:53 p.m.)
I think I'm completely stuck at QB-minus-3-words. I thought I might prevail today, but I don't think it's going to Bee.

Andrew 6:17 PM  

First Friday puzzle I ever completed which means it’s the easiest Friday ever! (Weirdly, I have finished 3 Saturday puzzles.)

jae 7:05 PM  

****SB Alert*****
@Barbara - ICHOR was my last word for QB on that puzzle and I knew it from xwords. I’m at QB -6 today and am still 1 short on yesterday’s but I hate to give up...it’s probably the one you didn’t know which doesn’t bode well.

bocamp 7:14 PM  

@ Andrew 6:17 PM


Peace 和平 Salam ειρήνη Pax Sith 🕊

bocamp 7:26 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

QB -6 here, too. Bonne chance to all 🤞

Peace 和平 Salam ειρήνη Pax Sith 🕊

John Windle 7:45 PM  

I did half of this on BART coming into San Francisco (20 minute ride) and the other half at my desk as a reward for sitting through three Zooms! Not easy but mostly satisfying though as an old curmudgeon I find "III" solving as "iotas" pretty weak and as far "gnar" -- well, I'd rather gnot... I haven't been keeping score but based on a complaint a while ago I would say nice to see a woman creating the puzzle (for a change?)

Pamela 8:41 PM  

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

I’m still -4.

For some reason I’ve been missing more this week than usual, and everyday, maybe some of those words were gettable, i.e. familiar, but at least one or two were not. So I’ve started a list of just the odd ones that I’m sure I’ve never seen or heard of, which usually turn out to have some connection to very advanced niche knowledge of subjects I know nothing about.

Funnily enough, I thought I might give a few examples, but when I looked them up, 3 out of four related to the plant world. For years I worked hard at renovating a huge garden and therefore spoke very fluent horticultural Latin- but still, these words were not only unfamiliar, they were downright strange. Hmmmph!

BTW, there is a way to get to old puzzle data, via shunn.net. Under Archive, find the date you want (that days letters are displayed under the date on the calendar). If you click on it, all the data will appear. You can opt to turn off the solution list and some of the other solving aids beforehand. Not the same as solving in the app, but at least you can play on paper.

albatross shell 9:35 PM  

Tom Lehrer:
Great Russian mathematician Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky:
Who made me the genius I am today
The mathematician that others all quote
Who's the professor that made me that way?
The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat
One man deserves the credit
One man deserves the blame
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach-
I am never forget the day I first meet the great
Lobachevsky.In one word he told me secret of success in
Mathematics: Plagiarize!
Let no one else's work evade your eyes
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes
So don't shade your eyes
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize -
Only be sure always to call it please 'research'.

Perhaps historically inaccurate...

Table tennis was invented by bored English officers in India using cigar box lids for paddles and a ball carved from a wine cork. Played on a dinng table. First world championship in London in 1926. Hungarians dominated the the early championships.

MAINCOURSE and ZENMASTER went right in. The latter common popular usage, but not really a Zen term as pointed out above. I did not know TWITCH at all but got easily from LIV crosses. The other longs took more work, but I felt I should have done better. They were mostly pretty much knowable in retrospect. PLANK took way too long.

Fun solid Friday. A very good argument for themeless puzzles.

TTrimble 9:49 PM  

@albatross shell
Spoken part:

"I am never forget the day I am given first original paper to write. This paper was to be on analytic and algebraic topology of locally Euclidean metrization of infinitely differentiable Riemannian manifold. Bozhe moi! This I know from nothing. But I remember great Lobachevsky and get idea -- ah-hah!"

Aw hell, might as well link to it. Good stuff.

bocamp 10:25 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Pamela 8:41 PM

Packed it in at -5 :(

Four were gettable; one gettable only by playing "whack-a-letter" LOL

Thx for the shunn.net link :)

Tomorrow's another day, another play. 🤞

Peace 和平 Salam ειρήνη Pax Sith 🕊

Bruce Fieggen 10:27 PM  

Why is that Z? Any Republican mentioned in the puzzle is subjected to endless insults by Rex and many other commenters. But a little criticism of Saint RBG must be made anonymously? I actually enjoyed his dissent.

Anonymous 10:34 PM  

Don’t care about the race or the sex of the constructor but I’m not a racist or a sexist (unlike Rex and a significant number of commentariat).

albatross shell 2:10 AM  

It may be true you do not care. It is not as clear that you should or should not care. If there actually are impediments to those of classes to get published, and you do not care about such impediments, that makes you someone who does not care about sexism and racism. I'm with you in that I am unlikely to investigate it very much, and very much unlikely to take an active roll in that particular situation. I do not mind hearing and learning. You apparently do mind. Do you want to brag about it? I guess so.

jae 2:30 AM  

*****SB Alert****

Got it down to -3 for today’s.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

The answer "zenmaster" for "sensei" is COMPLETELY WRONG. This is abysmal cluing.

You can be a sensei - which is an honorific applied to someone who is a high-level master of a martial art - without being particularly "zen" in any way.

bocamp 10:55 AM  

**** SB Alert ****

@ jae 2:30 AM


Peace 和平 Salam ειρήνη Pax Sith 🕊

johnk 12:20 PM  

If you're going to go on ad hominem attack, you should remove your anonymous mask. And Rex should insist on that or else not approve the post.

kitshef 10:46 PM  

Came here expecting to find legions crying 'foul' (or at least 'Natick') at the cross of ARA and HASSE, but apparently it is just me.

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

Nobody will see this, probably, but I appreciated your discussion @TTrimble about modern mathematics, and reminded me of a statement by Bertrand Russell in The Foundations of Mathematics. "The chief merit of proofs is they engender skepticism about the result proved." (not an exact quote)

Burma Shave 10:11 AM  


I’DBET the ZENMASTER is at it
and SCUTTLEs URGEs to fight,


rondo 11:34 AM  

Another hand up for orBIT before AMBIT, otherwise kinda easy for Friday. Still thought it was pretty good.

I had the opportunity as a THIRDPARTY to BETA TEST two types of engineering software. One for roadway design (CAD) and the other for pavement design (don’t get me going on ‘tar’). Interesting to pick the developers’ brains.

The four corners are in the AREA.

AMBER Heard, yeah baby.

IDBET that lotsa folks like this puz. It’s a HIT.

spacecraft 12:54 PM  

Really had to think about the cast of "Giant." Then I remembered the ill-fated Angel Obregon, played by the equally ill-fated SAL MINEO. That was all the start I needed, though the SeEd trap got me for a while. Also, for the briefest of moments, orBIT.

Couldn't figure out what came after BINGO. In my town, they play bingo every NIGHT. When that finally dropped in, I was done. Not sure ZENMASTER is a thing--and even if it is, would I call him sensei?? Doubtful. We're mixing middle east and far east. But no deal breaker; birdie.

thefogman 2:33 PM  

GNAR is a gnu one for me

Diana, LIW 3:19 PM  

I guessed the last letter. Correctly. I get an A with an A.

Diana, Lady in Waiting for Word
Where's the Word?

leftcoaster 3:58 PM  

Ahh,...a friendly Friday. On the easy side and nice to see. A grid full of good clues and answers.


New word: JAILBREAK “in hacker lingo”.

And, especially, the Notorious RBG.

Thanks, Ms. Ellerin.

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