Longtime CBS News host Charles / FRI 12-18-20 / Target of 1972 ban / Stereotypical cry from a sailor / Mike Piazza beginning in 2006

Friday, December 18, 2020

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Easyish (well under 7, and that was a. going slowly, b. taking screenshots along the way)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Demi LOVATO (52A: Demi of pop) —
Demetria Devonne Lovato (/ləˈvɑːt/ lə-VAH-toh; born August 20, 1992) is an American singer and actress. After appearing in the children's television series Barney & Friends (2002–2004), she rose to prominence for her role as Mitchie Torres in the Disney Channelmusical television film Camp Rock (2008) and its sequel Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam (2010), as well as the titular character on Sonny with a Chance (2009–2011). The former film's soundtrack included "This Is Me", Lovato's duet with Joe Jonas, which peaked in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. After signing with Hollywood Records, Lovato released her pop rock debut album, Don't Forget (2008), which charted at number two on the Billboard 200. Its follow-up, Here We Go Again (2009), debuted at number one in the US and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). [...] As of 2017, Billboard reported that Lovato has sold over two million albums and 20 million singles in the US. Her accolades include an MTV Video Music Award, 14 Teen Choice Awards, five People's Choice Awards, two Latin American Music Awards, and one Guinness World Record. Lovato was also included on the Time 100 list in 2017. Aside from music, Lovato served as a judge and mentor on The X Factor USA for two seasons, appeared as a recurring character on Glee (2013–2014) and on the sitcom Will & Grace (2020), and voiced Smurfette in the Sony Pictures Animation film Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017). (wikipedia)
• • •

Happy second snow day (US Northeast Only)! We broke records here in Binghamton so the street-clearing fleet is overwhelmed so my wife gets a second actual Day Off (doesn't even have to Zoom teach! legit Snow Day!). The cats are happy. They like me fine but they live for the lady. And for food. And for sleeping atop the radiators. And for ASHLAR (I actually have no idea what ASHLAR is—I assume the cats would like it, they're pretty amenable) (10D: Square-cut masonry). Speaking of ASHLAR, that was the only thing in this grid that made me go ???????? The rest was a typical Friday delight (Friday being the only day about which I can say it is typically delightful). The 3x3 interlacing of 15-letter answers provides the base structure for this thing, and when your base is solid, good things follow. Also, having so many grid-spanners made helped give the puzzle flow (that all-important but somewhat ineffable feature of a good puzzle). Lots of room to move, few places to get truly stuck. My only issue with the 15s was, in the case of two of them, figuring out the right phrasing. Wanted something like BETTER GET A MOVE ON instead of BETTER GET MOVING at 3D: "Let's go!" and BECAUSE IT WAS THERE instead of the oddly informal / contracted "BECAUSE IT (apostrophe) S THERE" at 11D: George Mallory's famous response to "Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?" I thought Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest. Who is George Mallory? Anyway, I expect vintage mountaineers to spurn contractions! IT'S indeed! I say! EGAD

Had a tiny bit of trouble starting off, as the NW (the weakest little nook in this puzzle, fill-wise) was a bit eely. Wanted maybe AURA at 1A: Vague sense (VIBE) and wanted nothing and/or RIMA (?!) for 1D: Mezza ___ (VOCE). Dante wrote the Divine Comedy in terza rima. Annnnyway, IPAD got me going and soon after, Bam! We're off:

17A: Using any means necessary

After that, I went whooshing around, easily knocking out most of the short fill, pausing briefly to stare at the mysterious ASHLAR, about which I eventually just crossed my fingers and moved on. The next, and only other, trouble spot in the puzzle came in the east, specifically the patch beneath the word CRIME in what would become SCENE OF THE CRIME (37A: Setting for forensic investigations):

As you can see, I hadn't worked out the exact wording of the Everest quote, and then none of the other answers for which I had letters in place wanted to show their faces. Couldn't think of an "R" word for 40D: Path except ROUTE. No idea what 39D: Censure starting with "C" was. Thought [Sacked] at 43A was referring to being fired, and no way I was going to get from the very vague [Rank] to NASTY at 48A, "Rank" having many meanings and NASTY being an exceedingly general and non-smell-specific synonym of "Rank." But again given how free-flowing and interconnected the whole grid was, it wasn't necessary to get bogged down in that patch of eastern thorniness. I just moved over to the center and then the west and worked my way back. 

What else?:
  • 5A: Nick ___, football coach who led both L.S.U. and Alabama to national championships (SABAN) — gave up paying any attention to college sports fairly recently, since the NCAA is exploitative of athlete labor, and I especially don't care about good ol' boy / CTE-promoting culture of football. But I was paying attention when SABAN became famous, so, from a solving perspective, lucky me.
  • 52A: Demi of pop (LOVATO) — couldn't tell you a thing she has done, but she is Very famous. I had the -ATO when I got to her clue and thought, "Oh, yeah, this is good—nice to be inclusive of genuinely famous people, especially younger people, especially women, who aren't necessarily popular with the typical NYTXW solver demographic. Yes, I certainly am pleased to see Demi [types in name] NOVATO" (turns out NOVATO is a town in northern Marin County, where my aunt lives; sorry Demi).
  • 20A: Supermodel Wek (ALEK) — I wish I had a handy way for you to remember this very crosswordesey name. Her name parts rhyme? Kinda. I am having fun saying "wek-a-lek" right now, so maybe that will help you.
  • 41A: Bit of needle work (TAT) — OK so the funny (not haha but "hmmm" funny) thing here is I wrote this right in ... assuming it was about *lace-making* (which also, I believe, counts as "needle work," since "tatting needles" are a thing). In the olden days, i.e. the early '90s, before TAT was a universally-known abbr. for "tattoo," TAT got clued almost exclusively via its lace-making meaning (which I wouldn't even know if I hadn't learned it from crosswords). "Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a particularly durable lace from a series of knots and loops" (wikipedia). But with lace, TAT is a verb, so this clue must be referring to the TAT that is a noun, i.e. a tattoo. 
  • 61D: One of the Beastie Boys (MCA) — all the Beastie Boys have great-for-crossword names, but you're probably never gonna see AD-ROCK or MIKE D in your grid, so if you aren't a fan, the best thing to do is try to remember MCA, aka Adam Yauch (R.I.P.). 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Sioux Falls 6:55 AM  

Naticked at 5D. Didn’t know 5A. (SABAN) or 20A (ALEK). Had NEAR instead of SEAL for CLOSE UP and ended up with NABAN and AREK, both of which seemed reasonable.

Joaquin 7:15 AM  

I thought this was a super puzzle. Nice long answers, very little PPP, and a bit easier than most Fridays.

Only nit: Does anyone still use the term BUB? I recall once during the cold winter of 1936 someone shouting, “Hey, Bub, toss some more coal in the furnace.” But I haven’t heard it since.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

So he died. And she very imprudently married the barber. And there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the great Panjandrum himself – with the little round button at the top - and they all fell to playing the game of CATCH AS CATCH CAN ‘til the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.

Love almost all of the grid-spanners, but not BETTER GET MOVING.

NW corner was very tough for me, in part because of the terrible clue for EDT. No one says you play “on” EDT. And VOCE (of course) was unknown to me.

ChuckD 7:36 AM  

Liked this one fine. The layout of the grid with all the interlocking longs is impressive. SHIVER ME TIMBERS is fantastic - as are SEAHORSES and OPEN SESAME. I could see EX MET being an outlier for many. Another showing for ERSE this week.

Short on people and nouns - strong on wordplay = an enjoyable Friday solve.

Dan 7:39 AM  

SABAN killed me. Had LETS for “court suspensions” (because it... suspends the rules? I dunno. Does anyone actually know exactly what “let” in tennis means, as opposed to just knowing when it fits in the grid because they said “ump” or “tennis” or “court”?). Then I tried both SEAL and HEAL for “close up”, but no happy pencil. Blah.

cseft 7:53 AM  

George Mallory MAY have actually have been the first person to reach the top of Everest. The problem is he (and his climbing partner) never made it off the mountain, they disappeared. A number of expeditions were mounted to try to find Mallory’s body, partly in the hope that some evidence could be found about what happened to him and his partner. And his body was discovered in 1997. But no evidence was found to definitely determine whether he summited or not and, unfortunately, his camera has still not been found. If it ever is, the film within it might still be able to be developed and then the world might know. Of course, the point of mountaineering is to not only be the first to the top of a mountain but also the first to make it back down so you can tell the world about it. That’s what Sir Hillary did.

Megafrim 7:59 AM  

I thought I was off to a ripping start when I popped in "by hook or by crook" for the clue "using any means necessary". Oh well. Even after completing successfully, it took me too long to see how "fail" came from "hold for another year, say". Did it involve holding a losing stock after a big price drop? My aha moment came too late to enjoy it. All else was good, and my attempt to commit ashlar to memory will likely be gone by lunch.

JBH 8:01 AM  

At first I put in “Kuralt” for 33A ‘longtime CBS News host Charles’ but quickly realized it was ‘Osgood’. Same number of letters/same great show: Sunday Morning!

pabloinnh 8:16 AM  

This was just fun, if slightly easy for a Friday. Kudos to the long answers.

Is there another quote somewhere about why people climb mountains? That one went in with no crosses at all. Liked the "close up" vs. "cloze up" misdirection for SEAL, ditto for the "rank" = NASTY answer. And any puzzle that ends with BEER is a good puzzle.

Thanks to Yogi, I can say that not only did I not know ASHLAR was a word, I didn't even suspect it.

So thanks for a nice one, DG. Well done you.

Gopman 8:16 AM  

Did the exact same thing. That was a brutal set of crosses.

bagelboy 8:31 AM  

Aside from ASHLAR/SEGA cross, this was excellent and on the easy side. Near a personal best Friday. I guess it helped that SABAN and EXMET and the long 11D were write ins for me.

TTrimble 8:38 AM  

I had the same assorted difficulties as others: didn't know SABAN, lETS instead of NETS, couldn't get started in the NW. That Rex got a toehold there so readily is a little startling. I agree that EDT is a lousy to clue using "on" (really, they play "on" EDT?), and I didn't know VOCE either. "Vague sense" was too vague a clue for me to work with right away, and my first lame attempt at 2D was "epAy" (later in my solving). In fact, the NW was one of the last things to fall. (Me, I got started in the NE.)

The FAIL + LIT crossing was a little puzzling to me too, but in answer to @Megafrim, the FAIL is as in failing the fifth grade and being held back a year in school. Tricky cluing. I don't think I'd ever describe a party as LIT, no matter how hoppin' it is.

Other than all that, the solving experience was pleasant enough, with nine (count 'em, nine) 15-ers forming a lattice. My solve time was somewhat under my Friday average, but nothing like Rex's, who wants you to know he would have done a whole lot better than under 7 minutes, but for the fact he was solving "slowly" and was interrupted taking screenshots. (Eye-roll.)

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Nobody knows what *LET* means. The ref just calls it out once in a while.

Jim Stevens 8:47 AM  

In the print edition, the puzzle is right below an advert for a book entitled “So to Speak: 11,000 Expressions That’ll Knock Your Socks Off”. I found that curious, no?

Z 8:53 AM  

Hand up for scowling at the EDT clue. I can lawyer it into acceptability but I don’t have to like. Hand up for having no clue on ASHLAR (and being disappointed that it wasn’t the WOTD), but I know SEGO from crosswords and that the torque symbol would be a Greek letter, so got it easily enough. Hand up for kuralt before OSGOOD. Hand up for feeling like I made that exact same mistake before. Also, hand up for being puzzled by having to fill in four letters “heady stuff.” Ale. It is always ale. Overall, a good clean Friday challenge.

For a long time it seems like what we got on Fridays and Saturdays were stacks. Now it seems like the go to move is interlocking grid-spanners. To me the grid spanners make for a more enjoyable solve. Stacks result in big banks of short answers and short answers encourage ese and esey PPP. With Stacks we never get to sit in our favorite ARMCHAIRS and discuss CATO or Neptune’s SEAHORSES, never once do we get to ponder whether Demi LOVATO’s start as a Disney Girl CONDEMNs her to a life of wholesomeness or if she will throw off those shackles and get NASTY like Miley Cyrus. I have no idea which is harder from a construction standpoint, but for a solving experience I think interlocking grid spanners are far better than stacks.

Frantic Sloth 8:55 AM  

From yesterday @JC66 👍😆 "FLATED" works for me! @Z Twitter link with those cats with Rex! ❤️ (Ross Trudeau's "Elf on the Shelf" post was cute, too!)

Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don't care about spots on my apples,
Leave me the birds and the bees

Six grid-spanners! Wheeee! I love when that happens! And the rest of the fill was rock solid. TONS of fun with this one!

Agree with Rex on preferring BETTERGETamoveon, but BECAUSEITwasTHERE? Pffft. No. I've always heard it as BECAUSEITSTHERE and at least Wiki backs that up. Don't ask me to dig deeper.

Anyone else put Mezza "luna"? No? Just me? Figures.

"By hook or by crook" was also my first reaction (Hi, @Megafrim!), but when CATCHASCATCHCAN started to reveal itself...huh? The former seems more accurate for the clue which I interpreted to include illegal means. The latter seems like more of a "wing it through improvisation" kind of thing, no impropriety included. I'm sure it's just a brain tic of mine, but there it is.

@pabloinnh 816am 👍🤣 Yogi would be proud.

Great way to start the day!


orangeblossomspecial 9:01 AM  

Was it Bugs Bunny who said "What's all the hubbub, bub?"

Z 9:07 AM  

Everything you wanted to know about LET but were afraid to ask (including three possible reasons a LET is called a LET).

@TTrimble - Thanks for the FAIL explanation. Between SABAN and Piazza and the US Open and LET, I had decided it was a sports-related “wait ‘til next year.”

Anonymous 9:11 AM  


Frantic Sloth 9:16 AM  

I find it interesting that several people have mentioned lETS as their first answer for "Court suspensions?" because NETS are literally "suspended" on a tennis court. But I guess it has more to do with Nick SABAN than anything else. If you don't know the name, the "L" works just fine. I was lucky to recognize him from when I used to pay attention to football, college or pro. So that obviously proves how much smarter I am than all of you people.

EDT got the RASE* from me, if not the actual side eye. Like @Z, I felt no urge to care that much about it.

*Reluctant Admiration Side Eye

@TTrimble 838am I know you're better at math, but I thought that I could at least count 😉

TJS 9:16 AM  

Definitely a Friday level construction IMO. Great long fill makes a few nits not worth mentioning. Have to say, @Z, that your last paragraph hits the mark.

TJS 9:18 AM  

Forgot to ask, @kitchef, are you quoting or creating?

Ellen 9:33 AM  

Sagarmatha :)

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Just the other day Nick Saban did a wonderful thing. Google his press conference about cancel culture and giving people a second chance.
Rex can bash football all he wants, but Nick Saban has done a thousand times more for five thousand times as many kids as Michael Sharp has ever done. Or will ever do.
And Saban's defense of decency, forgiveness, and opportunity is better, more dignified, more effective and flat out better than all the woke nonsense Sharp and his ilk push.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Actually got ASHLAR from A*H**R. There's a delightful village in Chester, Vermont, that is made up of many buildings of snecked ASHLAR. Visit in person or on Google - "snecked ASHLAR Chester".

burtonkd 9:45 AM  

@Nancy - trying your write then read technique, so sorry for repeats anyone.

14a Line outside the entrance - confidently put in VELVETROPE. Oh the precious nanoseconds.

I didn't think Mezza VOCE, a term I know well from classical singing where an opera singer doesn't sing with the full thrust of their voice, would be familiar enough to a general solver, so left that out for a long time.

If you know one college football coach from this century, it should be Nick SABAN, now just remembering that second vowel...

Eventually remembered singing "Ora pro nobis" or pray for us.

Had BUd for fella, wondering how a dEER was heady stuff - antlers maybe? Gnus to me...

Loved the misdirect bringing me from nyMET to EXMET.

Ashamed to say that I have seen Planet of the Apes more recently than reading any Roman history, so was trying to remember the part of CATO in the films.

Seems like it's been a while since we've seen YSER, so hesitated there. Tried to jam in YPRES for a sec.

Great writeup from Rex today! Fun structure with the 4 grid spanners.

KnittyContessa 9:48 AM  

@Sioux Falls I had the exact same thing you did.

I would be very happy if puzzles were a sports free zone.

Unknown 9:54 AM  

NETS are suspended on a basketball hoop; they hang down from the rim.
The clue had nothing to do with tennis.
(And tennis nets in any event aren't suspended from anything. They are held up by posts.)

The quote is literally, "Because it's there."
I'm actually surprised rex isn't familiar with the quote, since it has eclipsed the narrow world of mountaineering and come to stand for a reason to do anything difficult or extreme. Certainly fair game for a Friday.

pmdm 9:58 AM  

Z: Stacks seemed ubiquitous on Fridays during the Maleska era. Shortz banished them for the same reason you dislike them, if my memory is accurate.

The long intersecting entries today were quite good. The PPP did not feel so good to me in the across clues. Sad that the debut puzzle streak has ended. Also sad (and achy) to shovel so much snow. So much so that I had no time to comment yesterday. Just as well.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Lit has been used as slang for over a century, but it used to be slang for "drunk." Now, "lit" has taken on a new slang meaning describing something that is "exciting or excellent." ... More recently, it has acquired the meaning "exciting," as well as a broader meaning along the lines of "excellent."

ChuckD 10:00 AM  

@Frantic and others - same side eye with EDT. I thought of basketball first with Court suspensions so NETS went right in.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

I interpreted NETS to be a basketball reference, rather than a tennis reference. BB nets are definitely suspended over the court. Tennis nets are tied between two posts, stretched across the court and attached to the court surface at the center (the center portion is lower than the outside edges)

As far as the sideways look at BETTERGETMOVING, this line is tossed out by the Bonner's maid as they are reading their newspapers in the morning near the beginning of the film "Adam's Rib." Guess the phrase was good enough for screenwriters Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin.

GILL I. 10:01 AM  

How did I love thee? Let me count the ways. I also thought "to err is human" and since I'm human, I did.
I'll start with the err....Yes @Frantic, I put in Mezza LUNA and did the wince dance. I thought of Ron Goldman and that was the last thing I wanted to be reminded of. Erase, erase.....Did I want by hook or by crook? yes indeedy.....Did I know SABAN? no he was, and still remains, rABAN and close up remains NEAR but certainly not dear to my heart.
The actual "thee" I loved was all of it. With Damon, you have to take your time. You have to get into that devious clue mind of his and wonder what little trick he has up his sleeve. He has many.
SHIVER ME TIMBERS and loving me some Long John Silver pirate....I love pirates and visions of a cannonball smashing into the ship. I'd shiver some timbers as well.
SCENE OF THE CRIME and thinking Agatha Christie in Murder of the Orient Express. Branagh rocks as Hercule Poirot and who doesn't love Judi Dench.
SEA HORSES and a wonderful vision of Neptune in a chariot beautifully drawn by Gian Battista Ponchino. Or better yet, the statue of Neptune at the roundabout in the Paseo de Prado in Madrid. You can't miss it..(.Hi @pablito)....
SCRUB NURSE and thinking about our every day heroes. They are getting vaccinated now, as I type.
So, yes...enjoyable. I didn't need to Google but I'm left with a LABAN/NEAR/AREK error. Do I care? not a bit.

My new avatar is me: This is what I look like in 2020. I haven't had my hair cut in over a year. My dear, sweet, 80+ neighbor who caught COVID has been released from hospital. Her daughter whisked her away to Las Vegas. I couldn't get to say goodbye to her and she most likely won't ever return. My podiatrist won't see anyone until we've all been vaccinated. In the meantime my toenails have taken on a new life of their own. They are beginning to curl and even talk to me. I haven't seen my friends in so long I don't know what they look like. I'm dreading TV footage of Trump being hauled away, naked, from the White House. (it's the naked part that I'm dreading).....
My tree is up, though....and it's beautiful.
Stay safe....help is on the way......

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

I knew ASHLAR immediately, but only because of some past stupidity. I wondered why Father Martin's Ashely was named thusly (I knew the Father Martin part, not the Ashley), and somehow convinced myself that an Ashley was a building made of ASHLARs. In fact the two have no etymological roots, an Ashley is a clearing in a grove of ash trees, back in the good old days when there were living ash trees. I was totally wrong, but at least ended up knowing what an ASHLAR was.

Z 10:04 AM  

Anyone else do today’s New Yorker and wonder if it’s Mallory’s birthday or something? For those who don’t do that puzzle, the clue for 33D is The “it” of George Mallory’s “Because it’s there”.

@TJS9:18 - I was wondering the same thing.

PPP is 20 of 72 for 28%. (the New Yorker is 22 of 68 for 32.4% - thanks for asking)

@Anon9:43 - SABAN makes millions of dollars a year off the free labor and bodies of young men. Forgive me for thinking you a fool for believing anything he does or says isn’t for the benefit of Nick SABAN.

RooMonster 10:05 AM  

Hey All !
Ever be so sure of an answer that when you don't get the Happy Music, you'd never find it?
*Raises Hand*
LaVATO. Argh! Even aHNO is plausible. Isn't it pronounced LaVATO, AH, not LOVATO, OH? Dang.

My one-letter DNF aside, liked this puz. Six crossing 15's (TTrimble, I'm sure from others' posts [Especially @Frantics 9:16 post], you've realized your miscount 😊), resulting in not too bad fill is tough to do.

I had the bottom half filled before the top half. NW actually my toughest spot. Bravo Rex, for starting there relatively trouble free. Wanted somethingSALE for OPENSESAME for a bit, had Shut for SEAL, and saw for ENC. Did know SABAN, which got me NETS, but AMA a mystery (don't follow/care about politicalanything), plus IPAD devious clue, and CATCHASCATCHCAN in the dark recesses of the ole brain. But, managed to figure it all out. Yay me! No Happy Music, Dang it! Dang, Demi.

Good FriPuz themeless. It's OS GOOD. 😁

One F

Cristi 10:08 AM  

Did the same thing: jumped on “by hook or by crook.” It is closer to the clue, regardless of what dictionary.com says. My go-to is the American Heritage Dictionary (AHD), which defines CATCH AS CATCH CAN as “using or making do with whatever means are available.” That’s the usage I hear most, which is to say rarely. I trust AHD—Merriam Webster doesn’t quite get it more often than not when it comes to connotation. And dictionary.com? Let’s move on. I recovered from 17 across, but initially misspelled SABAN. SEAL fell late. Remained uncertain about ASHLAR and ALEK till the end. Okay, I vented, but I’m still holding a grudge against 17 across.

RooMonster 10:09 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

The availability of Recipes, HowTos, and Step by Step instructions of how to do just about anything on the internet. I'm in the process of building an interstellar motor home (ala the Winnebago from "Spaceballs") myself. Who wants to go to Uranus?

(Har, oldie but goodie)

Deborah Grove 10:09 AM  

You’ve got to be kidding! Doesn’t anyone play tennis anymore? A “let” is a serve that lands in but touches the net. It is not played, but the server gets another first serve.

Birchbark 10:10 AM  

SHIVER ME TIMBERS -- SHIVER means to shatter into thousands of small pieces, TIMBERS = masts. This old salt has had his masts shattered by a surprising event, perhaps on learning that SEA HORSES can talk.

I only have one meeting today, in twenty-one minutes, then it's the weekend. I will put lights on the tree this morning. What then? Maybe chop some wood, continue working through Walter MacCaffrey's biography, "Elizabeth I." She dealt with a lot of situations when she was queen. Sometimes in buildings with ASHLAR masonry, I'm almost certain, though the biography is silent on this point.

Jim 10:12 AM  

Me too. The two obscure-to-me names resulted in NEAR, until I googled Arek Week, so then I put HEAL and was pleased with myself. Finally I get here and learn the true answer.

Michiganman 10:15 AM  

@Anon 9:43. Here's how decent & dignified Nick Saban is. In 1999 he abruptly abandoned the Michigan State University's football team at the end of the regular schedule to take a job with LSU. But the season was not over. MSU had a bowl birth in the Citrus Bowl. The game was coached by an assistant. Way to honor your commitments, coach!

Ann Howell 10:25 AM  

Found this one impossible! Really liked the long answers - and those definitely helped - but had to look up so much that I had no prayer of knowing. Usually don't fall so far afield of Rex, but this one was full of Naticks for me (most TV and sports references)...

Nancy 10:28 AM  

Wonderfully engrossing and absolutely delightful! I was playing detective: sleuthing the whole time rather than trying to cough up arcane information I didn't have. More about that later.

My first thought for "Using any means necessary" was BY HOOK OR BY CROOK. My "necessary means" was checking the final "K", which didn't work. So I hung back and waited until CATCH AS CATCH CAN came in -- much, much later.

There were seemingly dozens of "Aha Moments". When SHIVER ME TIMBERS came in, my timbers actually shivered. (I had been thinking SHorE something-or-other for the sailor.) But I was onto SCENE OF THE CRIME in a New York minute.

My biggest hang-up was BECAUSE IT waS THERE, which didn't fit. "Fit, dammit!!" I cried, because I know that quote so well. Except not so well, it seems. Much later, I allowed that Mount Everest still exists in the present tense and then the quote fit.

To expand on my first paragraph: there are people who relish the sleuthing that a great puzzle affords and there are people who enjoy displaying all the tidbits of knowledge that they have managed to acquire. And they are not the same people at all. Did I feel the same thrill when the completely unknown to me NABAN came in as when BACKSEAT DRIVERS came in? You're kidding me, right?

ow a paper cut 10:39 AM  

I was held up on Ashlar sego cross

oceanjeremy 10:42 AM  

Same thing here! I had NEAR / NABAN / AREK.

It made me angry, came here hoping it made someone else angry too.

TTrimble 10:47 AM  

@Frantic Sloth, @Roo Monster,
Doik! Yes, six, not nine 15-themers. I even said, nay commanded, "count 'em", and so some of you actually did. :-P

No, I wasn't trying to gaslight you. Evidently what I did is multiply, not add, 3 and 3. In an attempt to salvage face, I'll say that there are 9 crossings between the 15-themers. :-/

Oh yeah: I'm not a robot.

Nancy 10:48 AM  

Oops. I'm reading the blog and I see that "SEAL/nEAr" got me, because I knew neither SABAN nor ALEK and had nABAN and ArEK. Which seemed just as plausible to me.

Did this lessen my savoring of this terrific puzzle? Not in the least.

Interesting to see how many other people also thought of BY HOOK OR BY CROOK. To those who wrote it in: Hey, it's Friday! Check at least one consonant before writing in anything.

@cseft (7:53) -- I love, love, love your next-to-last sentence -- one of the best I've yet seen on the blog.

Whatsername 10:52 AM  

I can’t think of much more you could ask of a Friday than this one gave us. Nice long downs and crosses, all easy to get with the excellent surrounding fill and no junk. I had trouble in the NW corner trying to make 2D something with an “E” like EPAY and couldn’t uncover the lovely simplicity of VIBE and IPAD right in front of me. Well duh.

I never see or think of Nick SABAN without remembering the line from The Blind Side: “I find him extremely handsome.“ If you’ve not seen the movie, it’s a heartwarming true story that’s excellent holiday fair for the entire family.

And speaking of, I’m off tomorrow morning for Christmas with the fam. Two turkeys who’ve sacrificed their all are roasting in my oven and my car is packed to the gills. Wishing all a pleasant weekend and for you folks in the Northeast, plenty of sunshine and warm temps to melt that snow. See you next week.

jae 10:53 AM  

Easy-medium. Fun Friday. Fabulous fifteens, liked it a bunch!

SaltySolver 10:56 AM  

Archaic CATCHASCATCHCAN crossing an outdated definition for "rafts" (TONS) made for a pretty difficult finish. NE looked kind of right, but then had no idea what the long answer was trying to say (did I have a typo and it's CAT CHASe CAT something??)

But sure, OHIOART isn't known enough...

Overall, fun puzzle and agree w/ Rex on most points (also give me a full Beastie Boys theme in the future, please!), but thought I was losing my mind in that top and NE section!

Cankee Yanuck 11:00 AM  

Very disappointed today with the ending of a 40-day streak. I struggled everywhere in the grid but kept plugging away until a dam finally broke loose and I was able to fill in all the missing entries. Except...

I thought I had seen SEGO in a previous puzzle and had it in there, but I was so unsure of ASHLAR (maybe I heard it in a commercial once?) that I was pretty certain that was a Natick for me. I did go through the rest of the grid a couple of times in case of a stray fat-fingered typo, but felt comfortable with everything except YSEP (thought it might be a variant of Ypres). I left that, though, because the crosses all seemed good. I mean it was definitely BUD/DEEP, right... right?

Alas, Autocheck informed me it was wrong... wrong! When I saw the D crossed out, I immediately got BUB and that, in turn, gave me BEER (if only...)

Adding insult to injury, even though I know less about college football than I know about the NFL (which is pretty much nil), I had actually gotten SABAN right away. Not because of any sudden burst of sports knowledge, but because he was in the news twice this year for testing positive for Covid-19. (First time was a false positive.)

To be fair, I was Naticked on Tuesday's puzzle with ATOZ/ZEBU and only got it by trying different letters until I got the Congratulations message. I didn't feel good about that and so had already added a mental asterisk to it. Now I can start afresh and hopefully achieve a new 40+, non-asterisked streak.

This is my second crossword disappointment of the week. I managed to find a physical copy of the Sunday Times so I could try out the Mega Puzzle ($12.60 Cdn for the one issue!) but it's turned out to be one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life. I've already spent 7 hours on it (at least 2 of which I'm convinced were spent flipping over my folded page of clues to find the right one) and I'm maybe 2/3 of the way through? Not sure if I'll ever finish it but, either way, I'll be sticking to the online version from now on.

On the plus side, there's a lot less pressure on me now for tomorrow's puzzle, lol.

Unknown 11:01 AM  

@ Deborah Grove 10:09

Actually, the tennis rules surrounding "lets" may be a little more complicated.
I believe that in NCAA college tennis, a let is treated as a fault.
I think the college rules are designed to speed up the game.
(I think at deuce, the receiver gets to pick which side of the court to return serve, and that point decides the game.)

Chip Tait 11:03 AM  

Me three!

Chip Tait 11:04 AM  

Me three!

Crimson Devil 11:06 AM  

Amen to Kudos for Nick Saban, grantor of second chances, to assistant coaches and to youngsters. His Tide teams have been ranked #1 at least once in each of 14 seasons.
Excellent Fri puz, much enjoyed all the long entries.

Smith 11:07 AM  

Hand up for exact same.

Nancy 11:08 AM  

@oceanjeremy (10:42) -- You'll see from my 10:48 comment (which I wrote before I saw your comment) that I made the same mistakes on SABAN and ALEK that you did and that it didn't make me angry at all.

If I'd been competing for the $100,000 First Prize, it would indeed have made me angry. Very, very, very angry. But in this case, I still had a wonderfully stimulating and engrossing puzzle to solve. One that provided real entertainment. Who cares that I didn't know SABAN or ALEK? Certainly not me. Message to you, OJ -- why let it upset you for even a nanosecond?

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Z 10:15,
I know you're salty about the cesspool that is Michigan State Athletics-Larry Nassar anyone?--, but really, try to keep up. The issue is what Nick Saban does and has done for young adults in this country. And the answer is a whole hell of a lot. That he dumped Sparty for the big time didn't hurt any of the students on The MSU team. And even you had the sense to leave the mitten, because, well, it stinks .
Your argument is a non starter. And your alter ego plain for all to see.

mathgent 11:21 AM  

Each of the six grid-spanners intersects three others and they're all pretty good. I also like that they form a tic-tac-toe diagram.

I always like puzzles by Damon G. His picture on Jeff Chen suggests that he is a fun guy.

Is LIT current slang for a lively party or am I missing the point?

Newboy 11:25 AM  

Cluing was the highlight of this nefarious solve. OPEN SESAME, SCRUB NURSE and FAIL each brought that sigh of delight one gets when the scales fall from one’s eyes. Damon always seems to work several such cryptic connections into his grid. For that alone, I forgive him his SABAN and ASHLAR. Nice VIBE when the puzzle ranges from CATO to LOVATO or from VOCA to YSER as did today’s—something to slow almost any solver.

What? 11:27 AM  

Responses here show that common experiences are not so common. Anybody who watches college football knows Nick Saban, one-time coach also of Michigan State. Apparently a lot of people don’t watch college football so that’s the nature of crosswords, somethings for everybody and somethings for only somebodies.

Arden 11:28 AM  

Me too!

Chris 11:33 AM  

If you are interested in Mallory, I highly recommend "Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest" which in addition to being a good account of the early British attempts to climb Everest, connects it back to (obviously from the title) the British experience in WWI, both collectively and as individuals, and also the British frustration with having been beaten to both the poles.

Carola 11:35 AM  

Certainly not easy for me, but then perhaps all the more enjoyable to work out. Loved the lively grid-spanning phrases and OPEN SESAME, the SEA HORSES, and the SCRUB NURSE. Ended with a DNF at the me-too "lETs."

As I wrote in ASHLAR, I was looking forward to reading in the comments how people knew the word. Me: from reading about Stonehenge.

What a difference a letter makes: I vaguely remembered Demi LOpATO, which gave me the opposite-of-what-was-intended "LET'S GET MOpING!" Didn't take long to correct.

What? 11:43 AM  

Loved this puzzle except EDT. Not fair, nobody I know knows VOCE.
I start every Friday with BETTER GET MOVING, I do the puzzle BECAUSE ITS THERE and I use any means necessary. 19A is the SCENE OF THE CRIME. When I missed that it was roof shaking. And please don’t comment - I don’t need a BACK SEAT DRIVER.

Anoa Bob 11:49 AM  

This one had a nice VIBE to it with nothing too SEEDY to CONDEMN. Well, maybe EXMET and ERSE. I did notice, however, that Ss frequently were ASSETS in getting the grid filled. There are, for example, some of the two POCs with one S, where a Down and an Across share a final, letter-count boosting S. The first one is at the end of 13D TON and 21A SALAD.

And a few of the longer entries were not quite up to the task of filling their slots without a gratuitous S appendage, to wit, SEAHORSE, ARMCHAIR and, especially, BACKSEAT DRIVER. For me, those POCs took a little shine off of what otherwise was a solid puzzle.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

SABAN, and myriad other Big School coaches (football and B-ball mostly), are just grifters like their dear leader, The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave). An ex-grifter, in a way, Tuberville said he intends to object to Biden's electoral vote to be accepted. The end game is to hang the acceptance, and thus force the decision to the House. The constitutional rule is the House then votes, but not by representative count, but one-vote each state. And thus The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) stays in power. Hitler used the same scheme. You can look it up.

Jim Habaugh 11:54 AM  

Z said “Anon9:43 - SABAN makes millions of dollars a year off the free labor and bodies of young men. Forgive me for thinking you a fool for believing anything he does or says isn’t for the benefit of Nick SABAN.” The same can be said about any coach of a big time college football or basketball team. That’s quite an accusation.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

As to LET, there've been discussions to remove the rule, and allow the serve to continue. If it falls IN, then play continues, OUT and it's a fault. Whether players would add LETing to their practice routine is a puzzler. While all might not fall just over the net and be a serve-drop-shot, all are misdirected to some degree and disadvantage the returner.

Frantic Sloth 11:59 AM  

@Unknown 954am, @ChuckD 1000am, Anon 1000am, and many others, I'm sure: Basketball! Duh! 🤣 What idiot thought "tennis"? 😉

@GILL 1001am Love the avatar. I'm so happy your neighbor weathered her hospital stay, but sorry you never got to say goodbye. 😥 I just hope she wanted to be whisked away to Las Vegas.
Thanks for that trumpian image. I'd rather eat your toenails. 🤢

@Roo 1009am Uranus or mine? 😉

@TTrimble 1047am "I'm not a robot" makes me wonder if you're, in fact, Albert Pujols

@Whatsername 1052am Safe travels and enjoy!

kitshef 12:01 PM  

@TJS 9:18 @Z 10:04 - quoting. Written by Samuel Foote as a test of Charles Macklin's ability to memorize lines. It's the first thing that comes to mind when I hear CATCH AS CATCH CAN or "What, no soap?" (which is also part of the quote - I only put in the final paragraph).

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

@Knitty. If everyone could eliminate a category from puzzles there wouldn't be puzzles. My choice for elimination is emoji shit.

Photomatte 12:20 PM  

I confidently entered BYHOOKORBYCROOK in 17 Across (By any means necessary) and that threw me for awhile, as did FEEL for 1 Across. I watch a lot of college football but still couldn't get SABAN, perhaps because of my severe loathing for the undeserved, self-fulfilling lovefest the SEC enjoys amongst all the pundits.
Speaking of college football, let's not forget how much each scholarship athlete benefits from their respective universities. On average, a Power-5 scholarship recipient is awarded $125,000 per year. That includes tuition, housing, books, chartered air travel, hotel stays, clothes and health care (including free surgeries). They also get free job placement assistance by having their skill sets broadcast, nationwide, to potential employers every week. How many non-athlete students get this kind of lifestyle, these kinds of perks? None.
I'm all for people getting paid for their work. Student athletes, especially those who play football and/or basketball, get everything handed to them already; are they supposed to get paid as well? Perhaps. However, if so, they need to start paying for their own tuition, their own housing, their own books.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Either point of reference, tennis or basketball, works for NETS. A tennis net is suspended from a taut cable and a bball net from the hoop. No need to fight about this.

egsforbreakfast 12:32 PM  


BTW, RooMonster, we once rented an apartment on Uranus Street in San Francisco. Our housewarming invitation said “ We’re having a party on Uranus!”

Michael Page 12:54 PM  

Re Mallory: I’ve always been flabbergasted that an expedition to find his body actually succeeded. Winds had recently blown the snow off his body, and his perfectly preserved back was sticking up out of the snow, with his clothes having worn away. He was below a ridge, with a broken leg, had apparently fallen badly. Consensus is that he fell on his way up, because the British flag he carried to place at the summit was found in his pocket. Pretty amazing story, and if you search there are remarkable photos of the find.

bocamp 1:09 PM  

Thx, @Damon, had a good "vibe" about this puz and you didn't let me down. :)

Easy sailing all the way.

Just met Demi "Lovato" in another puz yesterday, so that was a nice coincidence. :)

Very tough Sat. (for me) from NYT oldie, Dec. 16, 1995 for anyone interested.

All those affected by the harsh weather, stay warm and safe. ☃️ 🙏

Peace 🕊

old timer 1:10 PM  

DNF because of that stupid clue for EDT. The tourney is played in EDT, but not on it. Oh well, should have guessed mezza VOCE.

The grid spanners were great! I ended up getting most of them without most of the crosses, and it made the solve far easier. It was suitably tough, as befits a Friday, so the long answers really helped.

News to me about college tennis doing away with ad in, ad out. Makes for quicker tournaments, but IMO, for a far less interesting game. I've watched big pro tournaments on TV, and half the excitement comes after deuce.

gringa 1:13 PM  

Too many obscure, unguessable names!!! SABAN LOVATO MCA OSGOOD ALEK LEK. Once I cheated to get these answers, the long answers were lots of fun.

28D was fun. At first I saw "academic offering" and couldn't stop thinking of grad school. Then I went to police academy, art academy, or some snooty private school.

Finally I excavated Academy Awards from the depths and felt a triumph of cerebration. A clue that rewards hard work.

bigsteve46 1:16 PM  

Re- Photomatte: what does an Alabama football player need books for?

Andrew Heinegg 1:24 PM  

You'll never crossword alone. Somebody else will make the same mistake(s). I too had luna until I saw it wouldn't work with the rest of the NE.

Andrew Heinegg 1:28 PM  

Yeah, but Saban is an unabashed Trump supporter so it cancels out anything good he will ever do (I can hear the explosions going off). Interesting how you turn a defense of Saban into a bashing of the blog host. I'm sure they are related in your mind.

Teedmn 1:35 PM  

I join the myriad solvers with the nEAr error, and like @Nancy, I don't care. The puzzle gave me a not-often-seen-anymore challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Yes to the mezza luna error though that got fixed. uHoh down at 53D, also fixed. No idea who Mike Piazza is so I was ready with EXpaT (Patriots) before SCENE OF THE CRIME arrived on the scene.

Lots of aha moments, as in BACKSEAT DRIVERS, FAIL, NASTY. I really wanted the meaning of "fancy" to change at 46D from that of 45D but I can live with HATE.

Damon, as always, you delivered a great Friday puzzle.

Thanks, @kitshef, for The Grand Panjandrum quotation. I hadn't run into it before.

Destiny’s child 1:37 PM  

Breezed thru puzzle. Loving it. Knew it was Osgood but Charles Kuralt was my favorite. Garrett Utley was my neighbor. Terrific guy

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Z 10:04 am. Those young athletes can always quit and lose their scholarship and free education. This is a free country, so far. Nick Saban makes what Alabama is willing to pay him. You do have a point that some people make too much money but that’s cross the board, who is going to decide? Not definitely you.

burtonkd 1:55 PM  

Looking at the George Washington (suspension) Bridge out my window, I can certainly vouch for a tennis net being suspended in that the cord is anchored into the ground, strung over two posts and pulled down in the middle by a cable (or strap). The net is then suspended from the cable. I didn't even think about basketball, but that works too.

Whatsername 1:59 PM  

@HILL (10:01) Glad to hear your neighbor is out of the hospital but what a shame that you did not get to see her. I hope she regains her strength and good health in her daughter’s care. And that TV footage? I’m looking forward to it. If it really does come to that, I’m making popcorn to go with my champagne.

@Chris (11:33) Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve read a number of them about the history of Chomolungma, but that is one that I missed. Just put it on the reserve list at the library so I’ll have some good reading over the holidays. If you’re interested in the subject, you have probably also read Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer’s first-hand account of the tragic 1996 expedition. If not, I highly recommend it. One of the best IMO.

Message to RooMonster 2:07 PM  

May the Schwartz be with you!

Pete 2:19 PM  

I'm a firm believer in second chances, but I really want to see the distribution of how many players got a second chance from Saban based on whether they were First Team All Americans, first string, second string, etc before I proclaim him a saint. I'm guessing you're more likely to get a second chance from Saban based on your contribution to the win total.

Mr Angelis 2:20 PM  

Disagree entirely. Confusing fill. TOGS? FAIL? Also the clues were as vanilla as pence’s hair

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Since I am going stir crazy with the lockdown, I thought the puzzle's theme was dreams of getting away, even if only with a book, in an armchair. Hence struggling with what was available, a catch-as-catch-can existence, or via Ali Baba, a mythology story, a mystery story, a pirate story, or climbing Mt. Everest. Or "better get moving" with even a road trip, putting up with a back-seat driver. Since so many clues had retro feel the escape was also an escape to our youth, since Ali Baba, pirate stories, and Mt. Everest have now lost much of their magic.

I will not be cynical enough to imagine what escape awaits us as we contemplate a scrub nurse or a vase on the mantelpiece.

Anon. i.e. Poggius, somewhere in Indiana, where the notion of "lockdown" is ugly on ugly.

albatross shell 2:27 PM  

Or second serve as the case maybe.

TTrimble 2:28 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 11:59 AM
Shut up! :-)

mangelis 2:29 PM  

Disagree entirely. Confusing fill. TOGS? FAIL? Also the clues were as vanilla as Pence's hair.

Hambone 2:34 PM  

My sister finished up with "BUD/DEER" instead of "BUB/BEER" in the south east ...

And, yes, @burtonkd, I believe this should be perfectly valid. BUD and BUB would be interchangeable, and a BEER is heady stuff, while a DEER often winds up as a stuffed head ... mounted on a wall.

sanfranman59 2:50 PM  

Easy NYT Friday (more than 30%(!) below my NYT Friday median solve time) ... Man, oh man. I've generally ripped right through the NYT offerings of the past five weeks. I'm either going through a crossword solving growth spurt or Will has really been taking it easy on us. All of the 15s flowed almost unimpeded from the clue, to my brain, to my fingers.

Unfortunately, I made a sloppy mistake in this one (and didn't catch it by checking the cross) or I'd have been done in under 7 minutes. I've only done that 6 times out of 554 contemporaneously solved NYT Friday. (to the grammarians among you ... am I using 'contemporaneously' correctly here? ... what I mean is puzzles solved as they're published versus those I've solved from the archives) I submitted with 'EsT'/'IPAs' instead of EDT {19A: The U.S. Open is played on it: Abbr.}/IPAD {2D: Modern register at a cashless establishment}. I can never remember for sure which of our "times" is daylight savings and which is standard and I never even read the clue for IPAD.

At any rate, this played like a straight down the middle NYT Wednesday for me, which I guess makes sense since the Wednesday puzzle played like a Tuesday and the Tuesday like a Monday. Hmm.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Nope. That's the beauty of `Bama's roster. Their third string guard is better than all but a dozen or so guards in the entire country. And it's that way at every position. Point is, those kid are drooling to get onto that team. Its really of little consequence to Nick when aa starter goes down.

Look no further than the Miami Dolphins starting QB. He was a BACKUP at Alabama until the starter got hurt. Yep, a current NFL starting QB was the backup in college. All of Saban's players at1 Bama are professional grade. Some only good enough for Canada it's true, but all nevertheless good enough to play professionally. When he gives someone a second chance, its not to preserve his depth cart.

Pdxrains 3:48 PM  

I'm mechanical engineer by degree and trade and never used Tau for torque. We call torque vectors moments and use M for moment. No taus

Just Asking 4:08 PM  

Think legal phrase, "without let or hinderance." i.e. Service ball was in but hit net.

Z 4:18 PM  

@Jim Harbaugh - Yep - The whole system is a giant grift. Like any other group there is a whole range of coaches, but believing that anything any of them says isn’t rooted in their own self-interest is naive. From what I hear from people, Harbaugh is less skeevy than SABAN who is better than Art Briles. But even the seemingly folksy good guys like Ed Orgeron can lose perspective and put football ahead of sex abuse allegations.

@Photomatte - Bollocks. So what if a college football player receives $125,000 in “benefits.” That’s overhead cost just like every other pro team has. Bama’s stadium has a capacity over 100,000. At $50/ticket on average (guessing here) that’s $5,000,000/game just in gate receipts. That leaves $12.5 million in profit just from the home gate if they have 5 home games (assuming a 100 players on the team and accepting the $125K figure). Now let’s talk about the$300 million per year the SEC gets from ESPN... Bollocks. Compare our “shamateur” system with international football. Eberechi Eze, a 22 year-old with Crystal Palace, has been a paid professional since 2016 and currently makes roughly $40,000/week. I’m sure he would have preferred to have spent the last four years “earning a college degree.”

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

don't ever forget: Big Time college football, B-ball are vital to the betting industry. whether there's been much co-ordination between coaches, ADs, boosters with betting interests is a question I'd like to really know. a nest of vipers, in all.

Whatsername 4:49 PM  

@GILL: My post at 1:59 was intended for you . . . not @HILL. 🙄 **sigh**

@Frantic (11:59) “I'd rather eat toenails.” 🤣

albatross shell 4:49 PM  


BECAUSEITSTHERE on no crosses cause I knew it.
'its' > 'it is' > 'was'.
Snap, off-handedess? and rhythm.

Tennis net is suspended a bit like a suspension bridge. High tension suspension.

BUd dEeP and YSEp. Took a while to backtrack that. W.W.I meant it could be an abbreviation, no?

Fun putting in BACK SEAT DRIVER, SHIVER ME TIMBERS, SCENE OF THE CRIME, ARMCHAIRS, SCRUB NURSES, with half and mostly far fewer of the crosses. NW was tough. looked up Wek to Jumpstart that area. kauralt in way to long. Enjoyed double cluing of Way. Had PATH in the wrong place briefly.

CATCH AS CATCH CAN last long in. The complaints about the clue have some merit, but based on the technicality of the definition and a bit of overlapping meaning, and that we are talking "clues" here, I'd say it's OK.

College big-time sports really do not overlap with ethics or education very much. I am glad young adults have a place to learn a sport they love or want to earn money playing. And those that want an education can get one too. But I do think sports are good for college students. BUT, the current situation is bad for most colleges and students and athletes. Covid has been making it easy to ignore college sports. I am enjoying not following them this year.

sara 5:38 PM  

I thought it was BUD 67A with the cross DEER (heady because
of having antlers). weird but is't it a possible fit??

GILL I. 5:39 PM  

@Whatsername....Hee Hee. HILL....Yep that's me. Spanish speaking countries don't pronounce the "J" nor the "G" the way we do. My nickname was Hill. I was also called "jew" "gillita" and, well, a bunch of other things. My family calls me Jilly. And so do my friends! Have a wonderful and safe trip. Give my love to those turkey's. Caviar with champagne? I can't eat popcorn....the little kernels get stuck in my throat!!!!

Guackynyt 5:42 PM  

You are right to question the quote attributed to Mallory, who, as others have pointed out, is extremely well known to those with an interest in mountaineering. However, he most certainly never said "it's there" . . . Mallory, among many other notable things about him, was a Mystic. When he made his comment, it is generally thought that he was referring to "It" capital-I, in other words, that in the mountains whatever you define as supernatural or godlike can be found there; not even necessarily at the top -- the attributed answer was in response to "why do you climb mountains?" This sentiment is not uncommon among those who spend a lot of time, recreationally or professionally, in the mountains. He would NEVER have shortened "because 'It' is there" to "because It's there" -- especially given his background, education, and class. This small (?) mistake ruined, for me, an otherwise enjoyable crossword. I got to that clue and confidently entered "becauseitisther" and immediately had a sinking feeling about the likely error, and spent the rest of the crossword hoping for some solution by doing all the crosses. But sadly . . . It's a good answer, just don't clue it wrong! Can't be that hard to find a better and more accurate clue.

Dr.Anonymous 5:50 PM  

@ Z- I don’t know much about Nick Saban but saying that he, and by extension, all other top flight Men’s football and basketball coaches, only care about themselves is idiotic.

Pete 6:14 PM  

@Anon 2:52PM - You make some good points. Unfortunately, they're either blatantly incorrect or irrelevant, or both.

First: Yes, Alabama is loaded with talent. Are they better than any other team at every position? Hell no. They have 11 of the top 150 draft picks, but none of these is the top at of their positions. Those are their starters, not their third string players. They have more talent than any other team, but their best aren't better than best if the rest, Most certainly, their third stringers aren't even close.

Second, so what? That had nothing to do with my point. Sabin will give a second chance to someone only if doing so will improve his team. If Ohio State drops its third string punter because of an abuse allegation, Saban isn't going to give that kid a second chance. Were that kid a first-team All American running back, Saban would send his private jet to pick him up. Because he believes in second chances. Just like America believes in equal justice for all. All rich people that is. It's like Giuliani said about his Covid treatment - If you're famous, you get the best possible treatment, and if you're wealthy you don't have to worry about the cost. If you're some poor schlub without insurance, your dose of the very limited mono-clonal antibody treatment goes to the President's friend.

Deb 7:36 PM  

Great puzzle ! Anyone who half pays attention to the comments on this blog knows that michiganman,Z and Pete are written by some fat guy in a North Carolina, Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

I found this easier than yesterday’s puzzle. 11:15 is faster than my normal Fri. No speed solver I. Easy Peasy. Pete, Z and michiganman (but I repeat myself) might beg to disagree.

Anonymous 8:17 PM  

Pete. It’s Saban. The first of your many errors.

newbie 10:34 PM  

Gill I - we're all feeling it. Write a nice long letter to your dear neighbor and spend some time sleuthing online to figure out her daughter's address. She'll love it (even if you don't hear back from her) - and you'll feel better. We finally got all the lights on our tree today, too! Merry Christmas! And happy holidays, all!

newbie 11:37 PM  

Count me among the mezzo luna crowd. So delicious. But easily corrected. In fact, I had most of the wrong answers mentioned and then most of the correct ones. Couldn't seem to get the right combination - got tired of juggling them, gave up and checked with Rex. EDT with "on" is just ridiculous (although I eventually got that one) - but then I never did get used to people in NYC saying "waiting ON line" instead of "IN line" either. A very good Friday.

spacecraft 12:07 PM  

All right, let's straighten this out right now: you CAN'T have super-events in two different sports called exactly the same thing. US Open? NO!! How about USTA Open and USGA Open? Somehow, they have to be different! It's a wonder that the USNLTA didn't sue the USGA at the time, being the older (1881 vs. 1895). Sorry, boys, that name is taken.

Thus I come to the problem at 19a. The downs were no help, so what was __T? "...played on it." Hmm. As we know, the golf Open is played on many courses, to be determined year to year. As for tennis, grass, clay, concrete: none of these will fit into three squares. So, "on" what? The dates also move, though for quite a while I considered OCT. Except that's not the month. Really wanted IPAD, but _DT made no sense. Damn NW!

But eventually, after putting it down in exasperation and picking it up later with a fresh eye, I hit upon the dreaded RTZ (random time zone) and finished. Yeah, I guess "on" is the proper preposition after all. But OHNO, Damon, don't do that to me!

The rest of it was nice and free-flowing, clues Fridayed up for us. In particular, "Hold for another year, say" for FAIL, in the transitive sense. "My teacher FAILed me." Tough. I had to run the alphabet until "L" LIT the lamp.

Demi LOVATO does nicely as DOD. CORER reminds me of a classic moment on "The Honeymooners:"
"Can it core a apple?"
"Oh yes, it can core a apple!"

Even though it's newer, I prefer the golf US Open. Birdie.

thefogman 12:13 PM  

A fine puzzle. I found the NE corner to be the most challenging - and that is where I finished up. Good work Damon Gulczynski.

Burma Shave 12:31 PM  


SO don’t CONDEMN me here


Anonymous 1:04 PM  

What a carping, harping lot so many cruciverbalists appear to be. With your 'grokking' and 'naticking' and willingness...nay...need to attack and denigrate, I know - thankfully! - of few other groups or associations I'd less rather share an afternoon - let alone a beer - with.
The original comment on Nick Saban referred to a press conference he held and his comments on cancel culture and the importance of giving people second chances.
Instead of discussing or debating Saban's comments, the crosswword crew immediately went - as is their wont - all ad hominem on his ass, revealing once aqain, what a sad, insular, self-hating lot so many of
us are.

rondo 1:06 PM  

That’s a load of long answers, and I did not FAIL.
I’ve seen that ‘future D.A.’s hurdle’ clue for the LSAT before; that’s kind of a stretch. To take the LSAT you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Getting a high enough score on the LSAT *might* get you into law school. Then 3 full years there if you go full-time. Then pass the bar exam. Then get some experience practicing, etc., etc. The LSAT is soooo far removed from being a ‘future D.A.’s hurdle’; all the stuff after it is harder. I know from experience.

Any supermodel, like ALEK Wek, gets a yeah baby from me.

The puz ENDed with BEER, so maybe I will too. Good one.

leftcoaster 4:13 PM  

About as smooth and easy as a Friday can be. (Have to join in with Rex in his favoring the day.)

Virtually all the spanners were easy as were most of the nine- and ten-letter answers. ASHLAR (six) and ALEK(4) were the outliers of the day.

Then came other short answers, and a couple of them got me good: an A instead of an E in the VOCE/EDT cross and an R instead of an L in the FAIL/LIT cross.

Left wonderin’ how LIT is “like a hoppin’ party”.

Diana, LIW 5:05 PM  

Not so easy for me, but I got most of it for lots of triumph points.

I like @Lefty's idea (from yesterday) of "ditching" the DNF pejorative. Almost is definitely good enough for me today!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Dave A 5:45 PM  

Got NATICKed at 16A...don’t know flowers OR masonry 🤷‍♂️

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