Showboaty home run celebrations / FRI 10-16-20 / Latin Lo / Belligerent in British slang / Half of jazz duo / Number often seen before plus sign

Friday, October 16, 2020

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Medium (5:56)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: JENA Malone (53D: Actress Malone of the "Hunger Games" films) —

Jena Malone is an American actress who has appeared in over 40 feature films since beginning her career as a child actor in 1996. She gained critical acclaim for her film debut in Anjelica Huston's  Bastard Out of Carolina (1996), followed by supporting parts in major studio films such as Contact and Stepmom (1998). She subsequently had roles in the cult film Donnie Darko, and the drama Life as a House (both 2001), before having starring roles in the independent American Girl (2002), the dark comedy Saved! (2004), and the drama The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005).

She co-starred as Lydia Bennet in the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice before making her Broadway theater debut as Sister James in Doubt, in 2006. Subsequent film roles include supporting parts in the arthouse drama Lying, the biographical drama Into the Wild (2007), and the supernatural horror film The Ruins (2008). In 2011, she appeared in the action film Sucker Punch before being cast as Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games film series, appearing in a total of three films between 2013 and 2015. She also had roles in Nicolas Winding Refn's controversial horror film The Neon Demon, and Tom Ford's thriller Nocturnal Animals (both 2016). (wikipedia)

• • •

Felt like I struggled a lot, but I finished in under 6, so it can't have been *that* difficult. I think falling asleep for two hours (!) on the couch immediately after dinner may have disoriented me a bit, though it doesn't seem to have affected my solving time too much. I liked this one pretty well up top, but then slightly less as I went along, for various not-terribly-serious reasons. I am always here for BAT FLIPS, in whatever form they take, and today they take crossword-answer form, which pleases me greatly (15A: Showboaty home run celebrations). "THEM'S THE BREAKS" is olde-timey in a way I actually quite like. Seems like something Daffy or Bugs would say. "OZYMANDIAS" looks great in the grid, and that poem is always timely, even if I can't reliably spell it ("... dias? ... dius?"), so exiting the upper third of the grid, I felt pretty good about the direction this whole enterprise was headed. The middle of the grid was way less ... way more ... it was just wobbly to my ear. I keep looking at ACCIDENTS HAPPEN and thinking both that it looks like a real expression and that I never hear that sentiment expressed quite that way. I feel like shit happens. Mistakes ... also happen. Or ... were made. I think my biggest problem with hearing this expression correctly is that the phrase that I've actually heard, over and over and over again, is "Accidents *will* happen." And I have heard it so often for the following reason:

I also just couldn't get a grip on the other two longer Acrosses in the middle of the grid. I had ___ TRIP and ___ TEST and in neither case was I sure what the first part was supposed to be. I think I put ROAD TEST in at first, and I know I wanted ACID TRIP at first (which I'm only just now realizing is hilarious and bizarre—wanting ACID to be the front end of one answer and having it turn out to be the front end of the other). I think I just don't use the term ACID TEST, even though I recognize it and would understand it in context (41A: Conclusive proof provider). And as for HEAD TRIP ... I think we just call them "trips" (31A: Mentally exhilarating experience). "That was a trip!" "She's a trip!" "Trippy!" The "head" part, while I'm quite certain it has colloquial validity, feels redundant to my ears. Like, where else is your "trip" going to happen, your leg? So, with none of the longer Acrosses really landing for me, the experience was less pleasurable in the middle section. 

Things picked up again down below, though that SW corner (where I finished up) was oddly hard for me. I completely forgot the term CASING (45D: Door or window frame) and then had no idea in what context AGE would appear before a plus sign. I still don't. Is this to indicate "[some age] and up" (as in "people 50 and older")? I can hear someone saying "there were 50 plus people there," indicating "in excess of," but in that case you wouldn't write it out with a "+" so I just don't know. I'm going to ask someone on Twitter now, hang on ... people are shouting all kinds of things at me, like "jigsaw puzzle box" and "movie ratings" and "amusement park rides" and "board games," but the jigsaw / board game thing is more "ages ___ *and up*" (not "+") and the movie ratings I can think of with age are PG-13 (no "+") and I'll just have to take your word for it on amusement park rides ... this just seems an awkward clue since there's no definitive context here. Meh. And then the clue on SPOT was hard (55D: Word before check ... or a pattern), as I don't think "SPOT" is a pattern ("leopard spot," maybe ... but otherwise it's polka dot that's the pattern) and then I have never heard of JENA Malone despite her very long filmography. Bizarre that I watch as many movies as I do and have seen literally none of the dozens she's been in (she was not in the first "Hunger Games" movie, which I did see). The ZEE clue, ugh, totally got me (58D: Half of a jazz duo) (there are two "z"s in "jazz" so they're a duo, get it!?!?). Seems like it should have a "?" on it, but I'm not too mad about it. Thankfully I got ZEPPELIN without too many crosses, and then I rode the ZEPPELIN to victory (not all ZEPPELIN rides have such happy endings). 

Notable mistakes I haven't yet mentioned: STOAT for SHREW (51D: Cousin of a mole); STERN and STEIN for STEEN (52D: Dutch painter Jan); ISLET for ISLES (22A: Key chain?); ETA for ETD (24D: A few minutes after your Lyft arrives, say) (had no idea what was supposed to be happening in those minutes ... I just assumed you were making a short trip). Oh, and OAFS before APES (12D: Brutes). The last thing I will say is that DISK always looks wrong to me (I think I use "disc" every time). There's something very uncircular about the letter "K." Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

Very easy. Great puzzle with loads of sparkle, the only problem I had was almost zero resistance. My only erasure was bAbBLE before RAMBLE. Liked it!

tkincher 12:07 AM  

JENA was a gimme for me, but BAT FLIPS certainly was not. THEM'S THE BREAKS, as they say.

Harryp 12:16 AM  

I'm glad back flips didn't fit at 15 Across, some are done in football, but baseball is a more staid sport. Also I have no idea why some Americans go gaga over British Royalty. At one time we didn't want a monarchy but it seems that times have changed for a bigger part of the population than anyone could have ever suspected just a few years ago. Anyway, the puzzle was a good challenge, and I have to thank Mr. Gulczynski for a satisfying Friday.

travis 12:35 AM  

This doesn't work on a bunch of levels, but I honestly thought ZEE was a ZZ Top reference. I had a faster time than either Wednesday or Thursday so it certainly played easy for me.

Frantic Sloth 12:47 AM  

@Z from yesterday Wow. What the what?? When I tried googling that term the emptiest results page I've ever seen popped up. Bizarre.

@TTrimble from yesterday Okay, you got me. I might have tried a little light trumpeting (brass and elephantine) in my deep, dark past...go ahead and try to prove it. 😉

Had a slow start with this one, but once I found the rhythm, it was smooth sailing. A chewy challenge while totally doable.

Faves and funs include, but aren't limited to:

OZYMANDIAS was fun for me to see here (not because of the Shelley or Smith poesy, but Gilligan's [Vince, not the island strandee] version)
THEMSTHEBREAKS and the like is my kinda speak
BATFLIPS 2015 ALDS and "Joey Bats"
HEADTRIP Had a semi-malapop with acidTRIP before getting to...
ACIDTEST which, of course, made more sense.

Tip for the day: Never expatriate to a cannibalistic society, lest you find yourself an EMIGRE ENTREE.

That is all.


GHarris 1:03 AM  

Love them bat flips except when the bat is being tossed after a game ending HR by the other team. On reflection, I think I prefer the calm professionalism players like Joe D exhibited after hitting one out, like “I do this all the time “ and the sedate handshake crossing the plate. Yeah, those were the good old days.

Anonymous 1:09 AM  

In my experience, someone who is abusing their authority or their position is having a “head trip.” The clue here was completely wrong IMHO

okanaganer 1:13 AM  

Ditto for wanting both ACID TEST and ACID TRIP. Although when I couldn't make that work, I really wanted MIND TRIP. Also DISH before DISK for "plate".

Surely UTAHN is wrong?? DuckDuckGo redirects it to UTAH. Utahian? Utahnian? Utahite? Utaher?

Love the word SASS. Also LOLL. Cuz 3 of their 4 letters are the same.

The former architect in me really bristled at the clue for 45 down. Window and door frames and casings are completely different things. If you don't believe me, believe Bob Vila: "The trim around a door frame—also known as doorway casing—is installed first and foremost to conceal unsightly construction gaps left between the frame and the drywall".

And don't get me started on confusing a railing with a handrail...

Unknown 1:13 AM  

Would be interested in the context for Nader's quote "only the super rich can save us." I guess it was a title since the clue is all capped. Off to Google I go now.

gringa 1:27 AM  

Ozymandias: That was the title of the bloodiest episode of "Breaking Bad" in the last season. When I was sure OZY was correct, it just popped into my head.

Felt like my brain was just grooving, instant recognition of patterns, absolute certainty about partial answers that quickly led to complete answers.FUN!

Anonymous 1:29 AM  

18+, e.g.

chefwen 2:55 AM  

I’ve really enjoyed this weeks puzzles, this one included.

Wanted this shit HAPPENs for 36A, alas, it was not.

Jan STEEN is my favorite Dutch artist, we have spent hours in the Rijksmuseum staring at his beautiful paintings taking in every single detail.
Seeing his name always makes me smile.

When I was about six years old I found a dead SHREW while walking home from school, I picked it up and brought it home, presented it to my mother and asked her to make it better. I can still hear her scream. Sorry mom.

Fun puzzle.

JOHN X 3:30 AM  

Once again, pretty darn easy. This was a Friday.

I do the NYT puzzle to be challenged and abused and to overcome it to be victorious. I hate easy puzzles, that's what People magazine and USA Today and Highlights magazine are for. After all these years I'm just so good at this now that nothing excites me.

It's like when I was back in Bakersfield and I bought a GTO. I was testing jets at the time and it got so bad I had to have more action on the ground. You know what I mean? I mean you can't stay high the same way forever. So when the 455 came out with the Mach IV Ram-Air with tunnel-port heads, beefed lower end and a Holley high-riser setup, I was on line -- 390 h.p. and 500 foot-pounds of torque, whatever that is.

My standards are so high now I don't know what to do. Even normal porno doesn't do a thing for me; I have to go to places that would boggle your mind. The other day at work I wanted to commit a sin against my own body yet all I could fantasize about was that I was sitting in a library reading a book about stamp collecting. That just wasn't cutting it.


If you have access to the NYT archive and want to do a real hard puzzle try Saturday May 10 1997.

Anonymous 4:09 AM  

I'm English and AGGRO does not work for "belligerent." Maybe for "belligerence."

OffTheGrid 5:44 AM  

@Rex seems to have established a mood for nitpicking today. I liked it a lot, having a pretty easy time up top and having to dig deeper in the lower half. All clue/answer combos seemed legit to me. A crossword puzzle is not a technical manual.

Karl Grouch 6:22 AM  

I always percieved "seismic" in terms of change, not proportion, so that had me stuck for a while.

Also, "aggro" was unknown to me.

I'm no @john3:30 (yo, I'm glad your x-rated humor is back) and enjoyed this very much.

Like the time when I was testing zeppelins..

Karl Grouch 6:29 AM  

And thanks Rex, for the wonderful Costello song!

ChuckD 6:31 AM  

I liked this puzzle - although it did seem fairly easy for a Friday. All of the longs are good with minimum gluey stuff for fill. Though shit happens - and ACCIDENTS will HAPPEN as EC sings. Also don’t things pass the litmus test? Liked BAT FLIPS over IM ALL SET and LADY DI is cool to see - as I think she is going to show up in the new season of The Crown.

Enjoyable solve for a cold rainy Friday.

@Z from yesterday - Paul Kelly is the Aussie equivalent to Springsteen - revered down there. Has a huge discography - but tough to latch onto. The Triffids were a jangly pop band that had a little twang and would cover George Jones etc at times.

Z 6:41 AM  

The top half felt almost Mondayish, but the south slowed me down. I still flew through this, finishing five minutes faster than yesterday, so definitely on the easy (for a Friday) end of the spectrum.
🙋🏽‍♂️ for acid TRIP then smiling when ACID TEST appeared. I wasn’t helped by anNa being my Frozen prince because I didn’t realize Frozen had any princes so was looking for Elsa or Anna (or is it Anne?).
I saw the + clue, thought “ion” was unlikely for the clue wording and the placement and moved on. Never saw the clue again so was mildly befuddled by Rex’s AGE rant. I think it is fine as clued.

I’m pretty agnostic on the whole BAT FLIP controversy. Personally they strike me as a little AGGRO and are best avoided, but I really don’t get all the pearl clutching when some one does one, either. If you don’t want the guy to do a BAT FLIP how about you don’t serve him a tater? We get the same pearl clutching in my sport where my generation is generally opposed to spiking the DISc (I hear you Rex) but the youngs are all “it’s all in good fun.” To be fair, I don’t spike the DISc, but I’ve done some in your face “gently tossing the disc to the ground,” too. It’s all in the rotations.

@okanaganer - Sure, but the CASING “frames” the frame.

@Anon1:09 - What you are describing is what I would call an “ego TRIP.” A HEAD TRIP can be mentally exhilarating as clued, but I think of it less positively, as in “over-thinking” something.

@Anon4:09 - I was wondering about the “British slang” because I’ve heard it used here. I’ve heard it used for both the attitude and the person exhibiting the attitude, “Don’t be an AGGRO, bro.”

@Frantic Sloth - I know, right? Even when I put the term in quotes most of the hits were just the first half. And then the whole finding out that Stefani was doing country duets of the most saccharine sort because I was googling for that non-thing was enough to send me right to the marina in Rye.*

Not one but two Elvis Costello videos. Elvis is king (we know this because it’s all over the cover of his first album).

*”the marina in Rye” is located in the 7th circle of hell

Hungry Mother 6:47 AM  

Very close to a PR this morning. The long accrosses were quite easy and helped with all their crosses.

Lewis 7:09 AM  

I could just feel the twinkle in Damon’s eyes as I went through this, uncovering THEM’S THE BREAKS, HEAD TRIP, ACID TEST, EMPTY SUITS, BAT FLIPS, I’M ALL SET.

Oh, I worked Friday-hard at this. The puzzle had a breezy feel but it wasn’t a breeze. Yet it wasn’t busting-rocks-open-under-the-glaring-sun hard work, it was more like a treasure hunt, where the hard work is fueled by motivation, knowing that there’s a great answer or clever and original clue (like for HONORS, OBIES, and AGE) just around the corner.

Throwing down THAT’S THE BREAKS with just the first S filled in put me on a HEAD TRIP, until the AT didn’t work. And who else put DISH in for [Plate, e.g.] before DISK?

When it’s a puzzle that has to be earned and I’m loving every minute of it, it’s my kind of Friday. That’s just what you made, Damon, and thank you!

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Never heard of HEAD TRIP in this sense.

I've never Lyfted, but why is is a few minutes between when it arrives and when you depart?

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN? Not according to Jimmy Destri: Accidents Never Happen

Sarah 7:53 AM  

Head trip to me is either a difficult, befuddling question OR an ego trip

Mikey from El Prado 8:46 AM  

I liked this one, but it kind of felt like a theme with the three long acrosses being colloquialisms.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

I recommend you check out Donnie Darko for a good Jena Malone movie. It's a Halloween movie, so now would be the best time.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  


Re: 4D, OZYMANDIAS. Coincidentally, I just got in my inbox this a.m. a poem based on Ozymandias, from an old acquaintance Ray Healey, who wanted reminiscences of those who had studied this 55 years ago in high school. (Confession: I'm not a Trump fan, but I don't hate him nearly as much as my friends--and I mean *all* my friends.)

Here's the link:

This link worked for me when I sent it to myself, but for some reason it doesn't highlight here.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Rube 9:06 AM  

No idea who JENA Malone is or EDHELMS. Never saw or read Frozen. Kept on wanting pickmeup instead of HEADTRIP. Wanted to spell ACAI with a k.

Sooooo. Very slow going for me. THATS WHAT WE WANT. HARD PUZZLES NO GIMMES. This was a most pleasurable struggle. Well done

Wanderlust 9:12 AM  

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith was known for his backflips!

pmdm 9:15 AM  

My reaction to this puzzle is typical: it is a typical puzzle. Ease of solve depends on how easy is the PPP is for you.

Jeff Chen claims Shortz currently only accepts 5% of the themeless puzzles submitted. Whatever that means.

Carola 9:17 AM  

This was all I want in a Friday, just-right tough, with plenty of pleasures, from RAMBLE to SEISMIC to ZEPPELIN. I liked the tossed-off feel of BAT FLIPS and the three long phrases, and loved the parallel OYZYMANDIAS and EMPTY SUITS.

Help from previous puzzles: UTAHN; no idea: JENA, ED HELMS; do-overs: DISh, OZY...IuS; raT before HIT; nErD TRIP.

@chefwen 2:55, Same here on Jan STEEN. Plus, he makes me look like a stellar housekeeper :)
@Poggius 8:59. Thank you for that link. I'm passing it on to my English prof daughter.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

Viz Zeppelin: On this date in 1968, The New Yard Birds played their first concert. We know that band better as Led Zeppelin.

BAt Flips are sh*tty. Either they're an FU to the pitcher as payback for some injustice real or imagined. Or worse, gratuitous self promotion.

I'd be curious if you can provide a citation or even better a clip in which tater is used for the pitch that is hit for homerun rather than the home run itself. I've heard tater plenty but only as the result.
In my experience cookie is the common euphemism for a pitch that's easy to hit. And hit hard. Meatball used to show up, but haven't heard that in ages. Tater? Man, I could be wrong, but I dunno.

MichGirl 9:30 AM  

I feel like it should be HEADRUSH.

mathgent 9:31 AM  

Like Baby Bear’s bed to Goldilocks. Not too hard, not too soft.

Have you seen Damon G’s picture on Jeff Chen? He seems like a fun guy, like his puzzles.

Nice to be reminded of Ozymandias. We memorized it in high school.

@Z (6:41). “Pearl-clutching.” Love it.

“Ecce homo,” as Pilate said.

@chefwen (2:55). Wonderful story about the dead shrew.

UTAHN. What a strange word. Are there others like it?

Excellent puzzle, good crunch, good sparkle, absolutely no junk.

Z 9:36 AM  

@poggius - This is Blogger so you need to know the magical incantation to get a link to be clickable.

@pmdm - Well, since there are only 2 themeless puzzles a week a 5% acceptance rate would mean 38 submissions a week are rejected. The New Yorker does 3 themeless a week, but those are only from their rotating group of constructors. The LA Times and Newsday also only do a couple a week, so themeless supply seems to be outstripping themeless demand.

@Anon8:57 - I think of Donnie Darko as more of an Easter movie. 😉

Carola 9:40 AM  

@John X 3:30, thank you for recommending the May 10, 1997 puzzle - lots of fun!

pmdm 9:47 AM  

Z: Out of curiosity, I should have done the math itself. Given what seems to me to be a proliferation of word list sources, I am not surprised. Computer tools exist now that did not in the pre-Shortz era.

Maleska allowed Saturday grids to more resemble theme puzzle grids (more black squares and puzzle entries) as I recall. would have thought that would have made constructing hard puzzles easier.

Based on the comments posted here, reactions to the apparent glut of puzzles are hardly all positive. A guess it's a matter of taste. And enough of solvers can have a very different taste preference to the chief puzzle editor.

And now for something completely different:

Seems there was a glitch in the blog software that resulted in my original comment being posted twice. Not my fault, but I am sorry nevertheless.

Whatsername 9:51 AM  

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, an autumn chill in the air but perfect for a morning crossword in front of the fire. And this was an enjoyable, satisfying solve too, a few tough Propers but with nice helpful crosses to make me feel smarter than I am. A very smooth Friday from the prolific Mr. Gulczynski, his 40th NYT publication. Not a bad track record.

@G Harris (1:03) I’m with you on the sports celebrations. I’m not a big baseball fan but avidly follow pro football where I sometimes cringe at the spectacles. Like you, I remember when the great ones after a dazzling play would just casually toss the ball to the official with a look that said, “No big deal, just doing my job. “

I agree with @okanaganer (1:13) that UTAHN doesn’t look right. Sounds suspiciously like an NOC (noun of convenience). UTAHAN would be my solution.

Thanks to @JohnX and others in the last day or two who have recommended archived puzzles. I like to do those in my spare time. Always fun to go back for a good blast from the past.

Z 9:58 AM  

@Anon9:25 - Or maybe they’re just an excited expression of joy. I tend to agree with you about BAT FLIPs, but just cannot work up a whole lot of agita about them. As for your question, agree that cookie or center cut are the pitches. If you throw either you might be serving a tater. A tater is a big fly. The batter goes yard and has some steak for dinner (specifically a ribeye (aka an RBI or “run batted in” for you non-baseball folk)). Seems like baseball analysts are always hungry. I do think you are right that we hear “tater” more as the result, but I have definitely heard pitching failures described as “serving a tater” or “serving up a tater.” Here’s one that references Stormin’ Norman Cash. and here’s another. There aren’t a lot of examples in print, but watch too much baseball, especially out of market games on the MLB App, and you will hear all kinds of new slang and usages.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

Writing in MIND TRIPS instead of HEAD TRIPS at 1A made that section really hard for me. And then, not knowing the names JENA, HANS and ZEE in the SW made me feel I would have to cheat. (Pop culture again, but THEM'S THE BREAKS.) Fortunately, I was able to figure it out without looking anything up.

This was consistently interesting, with quite lively phrases. It was mostly a lot of fun, though with areas I found frustrating. I haven't read the blog yet, so I don't know how many of you, if any, had the same objection I had to the SEISMIC clue (42A). Enormous in proportion to what??? "Enormous" alone would have sufficed. "In proportion" suggests a comparison, so I was looking for something like HUGEST or GREATEST. Fortunately ITALIA doesn't begin with an "S", so I was warned off from that line of thinking. But it annoyed me.

They weren't doing BAT FLIPS (whatever they are) back when I was watching baseball. It sounds like you could inadvertently bonk somebody on the head, though. Well, ACCIDENTS HAPPEN.

My favorite non-theme answer was EMPTY SUITS. And the answer that surprised me most was NADER (3D). Who woulda thunk?

Xcentric 10:05 AM  

A fine Friday. Got tougher toward the bottom of the grid. Just enough to make one think.
Always thought it was Utahan, but Uncle Google says it’s now accepted. Ah well, I guess I missed that recent change.
A decent week so far. Looking forward to a little more crunch tomorrow.
Got Jena and Edhelms all on crosses.
Jan Steen’s paintings had me holding up folks behind me at the Rijksmuseum. Wish we could travel again, had to cancel our UK trip in May. Maybe in 2022??
Now if we could get a themeless without a single pop culture name....

Sir Hillary 10:08 AM  

Very good puzzle, which played easy here...not that those two things are correlated. :)

I dunno, in my Lyft/Uber experience the ETD is usually before the car arrives, not after.

Excellent clues for ISLES, MORE, UTAHN and OBIES.

OMAHA has sad connotations for me these days, with the recent passing of OMAHAns Gale Sayers and Bob Gibson.

Check out row 13! Isn't the opener to Led ZEPPELIN III called "The EMIGRE Song"? Oh wait...

No issue with BATFLIPS as a crossword entry or as a means of expression. Sure, they're showy taunts, but what modern sport doesn't have that these days? Baseball needs to get into the 21st century and let players express themselves, and the stupid "unwritten rules" (can't show up someone else, can't bunt against a shift or to break up a no-hitter, can't steal with a large lead, etc.) are ridiculous and as anachronistic as fans wearing suits and dresses to the game. That said, anyone doing BATFLIPS ought to be prepared for retribution, which I also have no problem with. It's like free speech -- go ahead, say whatever you want, but don't pretend there won't be pushback or consequences.

RooMonster 10:14 AM  

Hey All !
Had minDTRIP for HEADTRIP, but couldn't get the Downs to work with the wrong min. Then misread 'Frozen' clue as 'Princess', so wanted ELSA. Weird how the mind sees extra letters that aren't there. Is that a sort of conditioning? All we see are 'Frozen Princess' clues, so when 'Frozen Prince' shows up, our (at least my ole) brain auto-fills the -ss?

Anyway, not a terrible FriPuz, doesn't rate too high a notch in my book. Nothing jumped out and said "Here I am!" You know what I mean?

My tough spot was SE corner. Holy SASS. Unknown artist, with unknown British slang, with a maybe-rings-a-slight-bell EMPTYSUITS, EMIGRE with a single ending E, and Repudiate clue. Dang. SHREWy that corner was. Had to Goog for Repudiate meaning, and for the Artist. So technically 'Happy Music' online, but a Look-Up DNF.

Have heard ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. Sure, SHIT HAPPENS is more common, but ACCIDENTS is out there, more PG if needed. Or one can slip up and say, "Aw shit! ACCIDENTS HAPPEN." Har.

Glad to see @John X back is semi-form. Missed his misadventures. Hey @John, you need to pick up a new Challenger Demon, some have 1000 Horsepower.

BATFLIPS: Mild compared to the NFL players. Good lord, as much as I like to watch the NFL, every single person does some sort of dance or gesture whenever they either catch the ball, run the ball, intercept the ball, score a touchdown, sack the quarterback, make a tackle, or run back a kick. Jeez, it's your job to do those things. Give it a rest. If you watch old footage of games, when people used to score, they'd just trot off the field sans celebrations. Ah, the good old days. Also, if you watch old footage, Everybody was in a three point stance before the ball was snapped, even the wide receivers!

Football digression aside, another writeover I remember is DISh for DISK. Makes sense for the Plate clue, no? HIDat-HIDIN, lASHING_CASING, EbaY-ETSY (every time!)

One F

jberg 10:17 AM  

Pretty easy, at least if the long a crosses were on your wavelength. I got them all from just a few crosses. Some bad clueing though. If you have a menu with starters, they will be followed by mains. In the US, the course before an ENTRÉE is an appetizer. In the rest of the world, an entré IS an appetizer.

But hey, it’s a crossword.

Joe Dipinto 10:18 AM  

Accidents can happen
And into one I'm gonna slide
There's a good chance to get my hands on a little romance
When two hearts collide
And I know that's just how it happened
When Romeo met Juliet
Somewhere I read that ol' Romeo said–
–Pardon me, haven't we met?

Looks like Ed Helms has been recruited to take over Ed Asner's job in Puzzleville. "Just a Sith ought..." – I knew they'd work a "Star Wars reference in somehow. Like others, I had a different impression of what a head trip is – to me it's like, when someone plays emotional games and sends mixed messages, they are "doing a head trip on you". But maybe I made that up in my own head.

Very enjoyable Friday. Sorry, I didn't mean to start dancing.

egsforbreakfast 10:28 AM  

@ GHarris 1:03 am. “ said...
On reflection, I think I prefer the calm professionalism players like Joe D exhibited after hitting one out, like “I do this all the time “ and the sedate handshake crossing the plate. Yeah, those were the good old days. “

I didn’t realize Joe DiPinto was a ball player, but his calm professionalism remains evident to readers of this blog.

@ Wanderlust 9:12 am said...
St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith was known for his backflips!

Or as Chris Berman called him, Ozzie (Mandias) Smith

@pmdm 9:16 am said...
Jeff Chen claims Shortz currently only accepts 5% of the themeless puzzles submitted. Whatever that means.

Check my math, but I think it means that, on average, 19 out of 20 themeless puzzles suBmitted to the NYTXW are not accepted.

Sorry for today’s snarkiness. Trump and the Nodding Lady have me on edge. What a HEADTRIP., but a very enjoyable Friday puz by Damon Czynski.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  


Thanks for the citations. No question taht's how tater is being used in the one link.
But, setting that aside, the logic employed in the Norm cash bit muddies things. The writer says there's no shame in serving up a tater to Cash because he's hot many Home runs. well, first if a tater is an easy to hit pitch--then the pitcher should always be ashamed of throwing one. Second if the guy is a dangerous hitter its even more egregious failing to offer up an easy to hit pitch. A scrub might miss a tater; a stud would never miss a tater. So.... massive shame should be heaped on the pitcher. Its almost s if the writer is using tater as both the pitch and the hit.

Either way. Thanks

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Z, 9:36 a.m., thanks. I think you years ago told me how to sign up properly for this Blog, and I never figured it out. My technical support comes via my university, and getting advice from them about a NY Times posting of this sort is probably an ethics violation.

Re: BATFLIPS. I heard Orel Hersheiser on TV mention more than a decade ago, when he saw ARod flip a bat, that if he had been pitching he would not only try to hit ARod his next time up, he would try to kill him. And I think he meant it.

53D, JENA for me is always going to that town of eastern Germany where Napoleon won a great battle in 1806. I always think about that when considering why at certain times it is perfectly appropriate not to have one's primary loyalty to one's country. Goethe applauded the Napoleonic victory (to be sure, German then not really a country), just as in *Tosca* many in Rome welcomed Napoleon's armies. I remember thinking of Jena some 15 years ago when there was an ugly racial incident in a Louisiana town of that name, and some background article mentioned that the town had been named after the Napoleonic victory, i.e. in 1806. What was odd to me was that this was three years *after* the Louisiana purchase. So what do the folks of Jena do to signal their assimilation to their new country, the United States? They choose the name of their town to honor French imperial armies!

Anon. i.e. Poggius

TJS 10:45 AM  

Thanks for the Tuesday puzzle, Will. I agree totally with @John X, except for the, you know, personal issue stuff.

Teedmn 11:05 AM  

I join the minDTRIP set. But when ACCIDENTS HAPPEN back-filled, I knew 33D was our favorite 3-syllable berry which cleared all of that up. With Rex's OZYMANDIuS in place, it took a few nanoseconds to see NCAA but all's well that ends well (though a U-ending would be better :-) ).

JENA Malone is such a great actress. She's one of the reasons I've watched "Donnie Darko" half a dozen times. I love that movie. And "Saved!" was pretty good also.

Thanks, Damon. Once again, you've made an enjoyable Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

not so much HEADTRIP, until it had to be. thought more along the line of big idea and the like. you know, an inspirational, aspirational, truthful hyperbole, Orange Sh!tigibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) sort of thing. "Pizza Gate!!!" is real.

can't say I've ever heard AMAZONs used in the singular. mostly such groups are plural, yes?

keywords are used for ENCODING? in what universe?

EbaY before ETSY, of course

AGE+ is ubiquitous in any population data

DISOWN as repudiate? stretch

DISc is the formal spelling. DISK came, IIRC, with personal computers

Frantic Sloth 11:15 AM  

Sorry. No time to read all of youz just now, but I have some addenda.

"not all ZEPPELIN rides have such happy endings"
Is this an "it's funny because it's true" example? Dark. Also funny.

Weirdly, I think ETD for "A few minutes after your Lyft arrives, say" refers to the departure from your pick-up location. Or maybe not weirdly. Maybe exactly. It's still a bit unwieldy though. Weird - (un)wieldy- whatever - whew!

@Z Only the 7th? 😉 I suppose that adulterous relationship with Blake Shelton rendered the deterioration of Gwen Stefani's music chops inevitable. (Now. Now. I kid the Country Music people.)

Hand up for UTAHN. My reaction went something like this: Brow knits. Eyes narrow. Head tilts in doggie confusion. [beat] Shoulders shrug. Moving on...
I always* thought it was UTAHaN, but what do I know?

*always as in since around last year sometime because, really, how often does this come up?

I'ma pull a MacArthur now.

Swagomatic 11:17 AM  

I forgot that I had gone to bed before finishing last night, so I got one minor spoiler from Rex (STEEN) before I realized that I had to fill in the rest of the grid. Oh well! Nice puzzle, though.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

@Karl Grouch:
I always percieved "seismic" in terms of change, not proportion, so that had me stuck for a while.

in politics, certainly the last 4 years, stupid things are often described as of 'seismic proportions'.

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith was known for his backflips!

but not while the ball was live, IIRC.

What? 11:25 AM  

I often have this strange reaction to themeless puzzles in the Times. An initial scan yields just one or two fills. About an hour later, it’s finished with maybe just a few misses. What happens during that hour? I have no idea. Neurons from distant niches wake up? As a noted biochemist once said, you can’t learn anything about thinking by thinking about it.

GILL I. 11:28 AM  

Hard....Oof, ouch, hard. Some of it was scrambled eggs making easy but a lot was watching the soufflé splat flat.
OZYMANDIAS? I'm not a poetry person and frankly, if your first name is Percy, I won't ever read you anyway.
BAT FLIPS? I'm not a baseball person and frankly, if you flip your bat, you can eat my hot dog.
JENA? ED HELMS? HANS Frozen? SARA whatshername? Boy did I have to take a late night drinky poo break. Needed to clear the sinuses and re-boot in the morning....And I did, and I actually was able to finish and I got happier and the sun is shining and there is no smoke.
I will confess to two Googles: That OZYMANDIAS and JENA. I read a lot and I watch a lot of movies but neither of these two hit the ding ding ding. BUT....Ah, give me Jan STEEN. You are a treasure. Folks...go to Google and look at his paintings. The man was a genius. Look at how he paints the SHREWs eating the ENTREE with some ACAI...all in the FLESH. My HEAD TRIP runneth over.
I got the two THEMS THE BREAKS and ACCIDENTS HAPPEN but came to putting my breaks on at JUST A THOUGHT. Cheating on JENA gave me JUST but then I had to go on my usual bathroom break. What can "Called it! be? It didn't help that the idiot execs I knew were EMPTY heads. Ah...SASS is the cheek/lip girl. So it starts with an S and... ta da...SUITS it is.
Little by little this thing came to light. I've learned all about BAT FLIPS because @Z will keep us informed and I will reminisce about our visits to Lago di Como and eating the best tortellini in brodo on this planet.
Salute a tutti.

Joe Dipinto 11:30 AM  

@egsforbreakfast – What is this "ball player" job you speak of? Is it something I can do via Zoom? And I've never met @GHarris, how does he know me? This is very disturbing.

TJS 11:31 AM  

Question : Did anyone else check out the 5-10-97 puzzle @John X suggested ? I had a one letter DNF with no Googles but I have no idea what the constructor was attempting. Since OFL was not sharing his thoughts in 1997, is there another source that can be consulted, or does any other solver have an explanation? John X ???

(Took me 37:11 of entering, erasing, re-entering, etc.)

oceanjeremy 11:35 AM  

On the age + thing: it’s on gig listings and show flyers all the time. “18+ with ID”

That’s probably the only context I’ve seen it in.

ow a paper cut 11:35 AM  

Never heard of Jena Malone. Otherwise, this Friday puzzle boosted my self-esteem. : )

Z 11:41 AM  

I seem to remember actual UTAHNs being upset when UTAHaN appeared once in the puzzle. Or was it the other way around? And didn’t we have an Indianian kerfufflado, too? Just remember, it is Michigander, not Michiganian, and we can be friends.

Since the Lyft has to arrive before you can depart the ETD clue didn’t faze me.

Z 11:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Dipinto 11:51 AM  

@TJS 11:31 – plug the date in at XWord Info to see the solution and explanation. (That's a pretty ambitious creation for a debuting constructor.)

okanaganer 11:59 AM  

@Z 6:41am... you are right; your phrasing would be a much better clue: the casing frames (verb) the frame (noun).

Hoopla 11:59 AM  

“Age 12+” (or just “12+”) is standard notation on board games. Looked on my shelves and immediately found a half-dozen popular games marked this way.

Chris C (Also known as Covid Chris() 12:07 PM  

@Z Hey - I'm from New Jersey, and am so sick and tired of people arguing about what people from other states/cities call themselves or their states vs what outsiders call them. People from San Francisco getting their panties in a bunch when someone from NJ calls the city Frisco, or Utahns getting their halos twisted into mobius strips over Utahans, or vice versa. NJ is not, I repeat not, the Shit Hole state. Or the Cancer State. Well, not in its entirety. Barely more than half, and by half I mean around three quarters. Maybe a little more. And yes, anywhere you actually see NJ if you don't live there, sure. It's mostly not a pretty site. You will get cancer, guaranteed, on your ride from either of the tunnels to or from NYC to Newark Airport. If you don't want that, and who would, just take Rt 9N to Tarrytown, get on 287S to 78E and you'll see some lovely (by which I mean not horrible. Just abandoned strip mines) parts of NJ. It's only a 120 mile detour for a 10 mile ride, but you won't get cancer. See, NJ isn't The Cancer State, it's just the choices you make.

kitshef 12:24 PM  

@Nancy - in this case ZEE is not a name, but refers to the letter 'Z', two of which appear in the word 'jazz'.

jb129 12:34 PM  

A very rainy, nasty day in NYC - this puzzle got me through it :)

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

For everyone outside the Garden State,

Please excuse Chris C. I'm not sure what exactly my fellow New Jerseyan was going for, but N.J. does in fact have some very lovely places.

The stretch you typically see on Tv or movies is actually very small, and more grim than it's usually portrayed.
But the Norwest corner of the state is as pretty as any place in the Piedmont.
There's also the longest stretch of white sand beach in the entire country.
And there's a reason it's called The Garden State, there's a tremendous amount of beautiful farmland given the state's small size.
Even the foreboding Pine Barrens are an asset. One of the largest tracts of undeveloped forest on the entire east coast, and home to oddities like carnivorous plants, and pre revolutionary towns.

All of this within a couple of hours of the Big Apple, Philly, Baltimore and DC. It's actually a hell of a place.

Mr. Benson 12:42 PM  

Seeing THEMS THE BREAKS and ACCIDENTS HAPPEN as the first two long acrosses had me thinking there was some kind of soft shrugging/resignation theme, but JUST AS I THOUGHT doesn't really complete the set.

Photomatte 12:44 PM  

I've ridden my fair share of Ubers and it's never taken more than 15 seconds for the car to start after I've gotten in and fastened my seat belt. Maybe Lyft is different? The answer for 24D (clued as "a few minutes after your Lyft arrives, say") is ETD, Estimated Time of Depature. ETA and ETD answers have been very prevalent of late, so I can understand the need for fresh clues to spice them up a bit, but who's ever sat in their Lyft for A FEW MINUTES before finally pulling away from the curb?
Nice to see Zeppelin in the puzzle, although I would've rather seen it clued with reference to the origin of the band's name (hint: Pete Townsend said it).

pabloinnh 12:44 PM  

AMAZON across and OZUMANDIAS down and I did a BATFLIP. They're OK if my team does one after a game-winning home run, otherwise they should be outlawed. "Act like you've been there before" is generally sound advice, even if we can't quite figure out who said it first.

ACCIDENTSHAPPEN, yes indeed, more crudely phrased as "shit happens", also true. I much prefer the far more elegant Buddhist observation "suffering is".

I'm a Velazquez guy, but if we're talking Dutch, it's Vermeer for me.

We used to see patches on ski parkas around here that said "70+". Where did they go now that I need one?

Fun puzz. Was sorry when it was over (too soon).

TJS 12:47 PM  

Thanks, @Z and @JoeD. Once I got the hint, I went back and saw the light, so no need to consult XWORD INFO, but I'll file it away. Must have spent twenty minutes staring at the puzzle after I finished and could not come up with the logic of it. Loved the challenge of it, though, unlike today.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

age plus + .... LEGO !!

rex, thanks for the TBP link... they rule(d).

Chip Hilton 12:52 PM  

If you Google Images JENAMALONE, as I just did, you’ll swear you’re looking at a dozen or more different people. An actress of many faces!
Fun Friday. I enjoyed figuring out the three long familiar phrases.
These days, baseball is all BATFLIPS and K’s. Bring back the liner over second!

JC66 1:07 PM  


If you go blue, you can delete duplicate posts, delete, edit and repost, and you won't have to prove you're not a robot anymore.


To create a Google account go to, you should be able to find an option to "create an account."

If the link @Z provided didn't help, email me and I'll send you my Embedding Cheat Sheet.


It's only lunch time. The day's just starting. ;-)


Do you wait at the curb for your Uber to arrive, or like me, do you wait upstairs until the car is here and then go down and getting in?

This can take more than a a few minutes.

Nancy 1:20 PM  

Aww shucks, @GILL. "Not a poetry person." But sometimes poetry can reach you at a deep, visceral level that mere prose alone can't. I'm talking about the great poems and the great poets, of course, most of them long since dead, and not some of the self-indulgent crap you find today in self-published books and at "poetry" slams.

I so want to help you savor a great poetic line the same way I know you savor a vintage red wine or a superb French meal. Not a bad thing to start with OZYMANDIAS, one of my faves:

A little background. We're looking at a completely shattered statue from ancient times lying in the middle of the desert. It was once the figure of an important, powerful ruler, but it's all in pieces now. There's a plaque that reads:

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.

Tell me that that isn't as powerful an evocation of human hubris and folly and overreach as anything Shakespeare wrote in five acts.

Have I at least whetted your appetite? Here's the entire poem.

P.S. Thanks to those who supplied the parody "Trumpyzandias" today. I clicked on it, smiled a bit, but I think it sticks too close to the original poem and doesn't add enough of its own that's new to be really biting satire. For really top-notch Trump satire that's absolutely hilarious, go to YouTube and type in "Lincoln Project ad/Covita". It should pop right up.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  


not to mention there was/is a permanent rodeo at the very end of the state. just a short car hop from Philly, which is how I was taken there.

Peamut 1:24 PM  

In my experience, If your Lyft doesn’t depart until a few minutes after it arrives, you’re probably going to have to pay some kind of late surcharge

Ernonymous 1:35 PM  

I used to play a video war game on and my biggest nemesis was a player named OZYMANDIAS so I got that right away.
I had ACID TRIP. When I filled in ACID TEST I they are really doubling up words a lot lately!
@Gill I wish we were in Lago di Como eating that Tortellini in brodo right now, it sounds amazing. Maybe one day we won't be banned from bella Italia.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Anon 12:41,
Cowtown rodeo, yes!!! They claim to be the oldest continuously operating rodeo in the country.
And not to be a too terrible stickler, but there is a wild and wooly bit of Salem county below the rodeo if you want to explore. It's actually a fantastic place for birders. But yeah, for most people, Rt. 40 where the rodeo is, is the bottom of the state at that point. 40 connects to the massive Delaware Memorial Bridge(s) now known as the twin spans. Marvelous engineering. The Bridges to Philly are a few miles up.

zephyr 2:08 PM  

This was easier than usual Friday’s, but why is s jazz fan ‘utahn’? What it that, even?

old timer 2:24 PM  

Had no trouble with this one. UTAHN was the preferred term from the long-serving Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, so it must be right.

If you summon Lyft or Uber on your iPhone, they will give you an ETD, in order to estimate the cost of your trip. It is a couple of minutes after the time they think your driver will be at the bar or restaurant you may have called from. I have a daughter who always summoned a Lyft driver rather than wait for a taxi, even in New York, which is a sea of yellow thanks to all the cabs there.

Almost my last entry was OZYMANDIAS. Put a big grin on my face. Probably like most of you, I loved that poem when it was assigned to me in high school. "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Frantic Sloth 2:26 PM  

@chefwen 255am Love your SHREW story. Were you a cat in a previous life?

@John X 330am Don't knock Highlights. Many's the time my life was saved by the well-honed talent of espying a comb in a tree trunk. Otherwise, as you were.
Oh, and thanks for the crossword recommendation - seemed ridiculously easy at the start and then...wham! (Seems rebus-y or theme-y in some way not yet grokked by me.) Going back later for more - lots of fun!!*

Agree with @Karl Grouch 622am SEISMIC change makes sense. SEISMIC TUB of popcorn? Not so much.

***Baseball Rant***

@Z 641am Re: BATFLIPS and pearl clutching. Some fans find the immaturity culture of baseball as part of its charm. "I don't like the way he looked at me when he ran the bases."[toss a beanball next time] "He tossed a beanball at my teammate." [hard slide into 2nd base {now illegal}] "He slid into my shortstop for no reason."[plunk him in the back next time up] Batter and pitcher begin the march of confrontation, benches clear...etc. Makes me utterly insane to witness such childish behavior in supposedly grown men - all of whom (plus managers, plus announcers, plus color commentators) feel it's perfectly justified because "that's baseball." Overgrown babies. Period.


@Joe D 1018am Wow! That song/album brings me back. Didn't realize there was anyone else who ever heard of, much less listened to him.

@egs 1028am LOL! Great post! As far as I'm concerned, you can snark any time.

@Poggius 1041am Your Orel Hersheiser citation is another fine example (one of far too many, to be sure) of what prompted my earlier rant.

@GILL I 1128am I don't know if I'm happier about your morning resurgence or the absence of smoke! Nah. It's the smoke. Good riddance!

Ditto on what Anonymous 1241pm said! NJ is beauteous, but is there a state that doesn't have its beauty?

@Photomatte 1244pm Re: ETD I agree that the major problem with the clue is the "few minutes" part. It needs to be altered to reflect immediacy somehow. Editing problem.

As @Nancy 120pm said, this is Covita.

@zephyr 208pm The UTAH(n) Jazz is/are(?) an NBA (professional basketball) Team.

*Unfortunately, I stupidly ignored @Z's spoiler alert and it kinda ruined it for me. I was on that track though, so I guess that's something. 😕
I've learned something here. When I read "spoiler alert", my reaction is not "better steer clear" - you know, like a person. It's more often "ooh! I wonder what it is!" like an overly enthusiastic, impatient toddler. Perhaps I was a puppy in a previous life.

bocamp 2:33 PM  

@Damon - thx for a diverse, fun puzzle to solve. :)

Ave. Fri. time

Didn't know "Ozymandias" or "Shelley's" poem; now I do. And, thx to all the enlightening posts re: the subject. :)

Didn't know "aggro".

"acid test" vs litmus test

"Head trip" , as I recall from the '60s and '70s, had a somewhat negative connotation in the sense that it might be laid on another, evoking a response such as, "don't lay your "head trip" on me, man. It may also have been used in the sense of someone being on an ego trip or having wild ideas. Not sure if I ever thought of it in the context of today's clue, although I see that it's often the first definition in references.

"I don't want to lay a head-trip on you," he writes)

As for the "age +" vs "age plus" issue: does language evolve, devolve or both?

Loved "Jena" in "Donnie Darko".

"Tater" works for me: the ball, the lame pitch and the mammoth shot in that sequence. The "bat flip": colorful, but demeaning, and a waste of energy.

Liked "Utahn"

@JOHN X 3:30 AM - thx for the "Saturday May 10 1997" puzzle reference; enjoy having a go at the old ones. :)

@Z 11:51 AM - thx for the courtesy of a spoiler alert re: the old puzzle. I'll be giving a go this PM.

@Joe Dipinto 10:18 AM - thx for the "Kenny Rankin" link. :)

Peace Pace Vrede Pax 🕊

Ann Howell 2:35 PM  

Was fine with most of it until AGGRO, which is a noun not an adjective. (I'm not a Brit by birth, but am married to one and have lived in London for over a decade, both of which have caused me a certain amount of aggro over the years!)

GILL I. 2:39 PM  

Ah....dear sweet @Nancy. If only you could've walked in my shoes as a young heathen trying to learn English. I've never really enjoyed this language and, well, poetry confirmed my distain. My brother, on the other hand, loved it. I wanted to be everything he was so I gave "Ode on a Grecian Urn" a try. I even read "The Road Not Taken" because it was required reading. I didn't understand a single thing - nada - zip. I was afraid to ask my mother or grandmother to translate for me for fear they'd make me read William Carlos William.
Now if you give me some Shel Silverstein, I can quote lots from his "Where the Sidewalk Ends." See? I'm a simple soul with simple taste. :-)

Lewis 2:44 PM  

@johnx 3:30 a.m. -- I have thank you for that puzzle recommendation. That was a hoot!

jazzmanchgo 2:47 PM  

@Anonymous (10:41 AM) -- Forget Hershiser. Imagine what the late Bob Gibson's reaction would have been!

JC66 2:50 PM  


The Utah Jazz are an NBA team.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Always, always at the end of a list of age categories (18-35, etc.)is the dreaded 65+. In other words, "Yeah, whatever. Really old.) So tiresome.

Z 3:08 PM  

@Chris C - getting their halos twisted into möbius strips - I am so stealing that one. 😂😂😂😂

@Anon12:41 - Did you happen to catch @Chris C’s full nom de blog?

***1997 Spoiler Alert***
just upside down now to help those who can’t avoid temptation.

ʇᴉ ʇnoqɐ sʇnq ɹo spuɐ s’ɟᴉ ou

@TJS - Even having figured out what was going on I still had to stop and think about the first themer.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

I sure did. I'm not as sure as you that his name or persona is especially illuminating.

--Anon 12:41

Z 3:17 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 3:21 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - Not just a debut, but the only NYTX in the database by her. And she’s the only Isabel in the database, so it’s not that she got married and published under a married name, either.

@Anon12:41 - As in Chris Christie who spent some time hospitalized for COVID. I took that as a big waving flag suggesting an attempt at political satire, or at least political sarcasm. I’ll leave it to you whether or not they were successful. Personally, the möbius strip line was worth the price of admission.

Unknown 3:22 PM  

What a wonderful puz on so many levels.
Nice long answers; and the fill was uniformly good!
A big hand to rex for still being able to find things to nitpick about.

zephyr 3:47 PM  

thanks, @JC65 ! so nice to understand the answers.

Anonymous 3:59 PM  


even you concede that you cant determine whether its polical satire or saracsm. And youre being very generous in your take.

Lets' start at the top as you suggested. What does invoking Christie ( as the author) have to do with what immediately follows which is a screed against locals inveighing against outsiders. He cites Utah and San Francisco as places where this is likely to happen. Why the nasty as cat dirt and unnecessary swipe at the followers at latter Day Saints-- I assume thats who he's referring to as having halos---? Thats just ugly, in my opinion. Quite far from funny. But set aside the difference in taste. The post then careens breathtakingly to multiple time zones away and begins rambling discourse on the ugliness of New jersey and potential carcinogenic qualities. That's an-all time non sequitur, no?
I'll answer your implicit question. No, he didn't succeed.
I'll ask you the same; does his post succeed? and if so, at what?

Unknown 4:56 PM  

Wasn't sure what to think of this one, as an amateur. I assumed Friday puzzles are very difficult and was too smart for my own good at times. (GUFF for SASS, e.g.) - got the trick but not the answer haha. RAMBLE was too obvious for me.

Had to turn on autocheck, sadly. Just got stuck in too many corners.

It didn't help I sucked at the trivia. Never heard of BATFLIPS. Had DISH for DISK. (Yes, Rex, physical hard disks have always been K, CD-ROMs would be disc). PLATE is a vaguely used but legitimate term.

Proud I did get ITALIA (comes up all the time in NYTXW), UTAHN.

The puzzle was clever and props for getting OZYwhateverthehell in there... and OBIES? Hmm.

Not as cultured as I should be.

bocamp 5:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chippah 5:34 PM  

I came here to see if Rex posted an Elvis Costello video and wasn’t disappointed.

It’s like clockwork, or, hey, clockface.

bocamp 5:41 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 2:26 PM

***Baseball Rant***

I feel ya… respect, humility and civility will overcome! Always hard to see works in progress, tho. :)

**** 1997 ALERT ****

Terrific puz by Ms. Walcott! And, thx again to JOHN X 3:30 AM for the suggestion. :)

15 min. to complete; another 10 to fully grok the theme. Needed an educated guess for one cell. What a pearl! Wherever you are Isabel, bless your heart for this one. 😊

Peace Pace Vrede Pax 🕊

A Moderator 6:19 PM  

@bocamp - I was just cleaning out some spam (yes, the spellcasters still try) and found three old posts from you in the Spam list. I published them now. I don’t know how they ended up in Spam, but it was probably moderator error.

Bill L. 6:34 PM  

I don’t think anyone has posted this clip yet: Ozymandias from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by the Coen brothers.

bocamp 6:39 PM  

@A Moderator 6:19 PM - 😊

Peace Pace Vrede Pax 🕊

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Forestall response. I see that COVID Chris did make the connection between San Francisco and Utah explicit.
The error is mine.

My God!!!! Yes, he does invoke Shit Hole State, but it’s buried in so much, (what, ravings?) that I missed it. I want a mulligan on this.
I stand by the heart of my answer, And as a gesture of good faith I’ll grant an edit in your favor:

Our fat f**k governor got COVID after denying its virulence.*

*Hes char grinned and admitted his terrible and, really, inexcusable error.

Z 7:20 PM  

@Anon - As one who thinks Machiavelli’s Il Principe is best understood as if Jon Stewart wrote it, my taste in political sarcasm is not typical. I found @COVID Chris funny if a bit heavy-handed. And, yeah, a bit of a ramble so hard to sort out exactly what they were going for. My current plan is to tell my current senator to not “twist his halo into a möbius strip” (he’s a Trump enabler running negative ads about his opponent’s consensual extra-marital activities. You can’t defend the pussy grabber and then attack someone for their sex life - well, you can but it just makes you a hypocrite).

Joe Dipinto 7:41 PM  

@bocamp 2:33 – What you posted about "head trip" corresponds with my understanding of it.

Anonymous 8:21 PM  

Not surprising, but I do not understand The Prince as remotely similar to the smug, supercilious Jon Stewart.
But surely, as a reasonable man, you agree that Cal Cunningham is a creep, right?
Mr. Trump’s failings are a non starter.
I ask you as a gentleman: is Cal Cunningham is loathsome?

aslightrain 9:14 PM  

UTAHN is the official demonym used by the U.S. government printing office as of 2016. The only demonym that does not include the name of the state is 'Hoosier.' Their style manual also includes a table of names of nationalities:

Sami 11:08 PM  

We have heard of Jena Malone because she gets naked in an elevator in "The Hunger Games," a very good movie. I am not even smart - but xword puzzles are my jam, and thanks for being here to appreciate my prowess. I'm on a Mon-Fri Streak for the first time in an Age+

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Hidden Led Zeppelin theme here? I saw "Nobody's Fault"(But Mine) and Ramble (On) and (When the Levee)/ Thems The Breaks and thought huh that's a coincidence...then got to the Zeppelin answer....

thefogman 11:07 AM  

JUSTASITHOUGHT, Rex liked it - for the most part. And so did I. In fact, I thought it was EDAM good one.

spacecraft 11:43 AM  

Nice and solver-friendly, for a Friday. After the AMAZON/OZYMANDIAS cross, I thought it was going to be a slam dunk--or BATFLIP, if you will. Well, not quite so fast, but still in the easy-medium range.

ELLA, quite properly "the First Lady of Song," reprises as DOD. The first two long acrosses, I thought, came pretty close to a theme: THEMSTHEBREAKS and ACCIDENTSHAPPEN. The third, not so much, but all three are very much in-the-language, and so I give thumbs up for them. I liked the very-well-used Z's, but do agree the jazz duo clue should have had a ?. Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:20 PM  




rondo 12:36 PM  

@Anon 9:11 – good ZEPPELIN stuff.
I did the east side first and came back up the west. Needed all the crosses for OZYMANDIAS; that one is new to me. Or long forgotten.

I had a Dodge OMNI at one time. VW engine as I recall. It was not one of the hot RODS.

There she is in the NW, our very own yeah baby LADYDI!

Pretty good puz. Hit the SPOT.

Diana, LIW 6:20 PM  

Got all but 3 - pretty good for a Friday - for me. Count me in the non-OZYMANDIAN club.

Always like a puzzle I can "get into."

Lady Di

rondo 8:53 PM  

Turns out tomorrow is JENA Malone's bday. Yeah baby.

wcutler 3:03 AM  

This is so late it's ridiculous to comment now on this Friday puzzle, four days after it was published in syndiland, but I'm so impressed at all the comments about how easy it was. I wasn't able to complete 15 answers, almost the entire NNW except for the full width ones. But I did get headtrip and several others that were remarked on. And I had no trouble with the Saturday puzzle. So I'm not giving up on myself yet.

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