Sorting header in music app / FRI 12-25-20 / Fictional hero whose name is Spanish for fox / Supreme Egyptian god / Popular fantasy film franchise for short / Fishing gear left underwater / Toy associated with France

Friday, December 25, 2020

Constructor: Erik Agard and Wendy L. Brandes

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (5:25)


THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Madame NOIRE (57A: madame ___ (online lifestyle magazine)) —

MadameNoire is an international online magazine that is geared toward the lifestyles of African American women as well as popular culture.

In 2015, MadameNoire had 7,116,000 unique visitors monthly, making it the most trafficked site oriented to African Americans--ahead of The RootBET.com, and Bossip.com. (wikipedia)

• • •

A very Friday Friday. Friday done right. A bouncy, easyish themeless, with interesting longer answers and mostly decent fill and some clever cluing. If I get this on Friday, I'm good. There were maybe a few more brief frowny moments than I expected from constructors of this caliber. AMEN RA and EELPOT are, of course, actual things, but they're the kind of old-school crosswordese I usually only see these days in grids that are struggling for one reason or another to keep their heads above water. The EELPOT section is actually conspicuous for how glutted it is with "E"s and "R"s. On my printed-out grid, I've drawn a boomerang shape with green pen encompassing I'M FREE over REFEREE and then turning south to pick up EELPOT and EERIE. I'd throw ÉTÉS in there too, as it is plural foreign crossordese abutting boomerang in question. That SW section isn't bad, it just has ... a little wobble. Not as tight as it might be, esp. in a highish-word-count themeless grid. I have trouble with GALOSH in the singular, although I guess if they come in pairs, there must be a singular, technically. Still, you hear "sock" and "shoe" but GALOSH ... not so much. But honestly, I don't hear the plural that much either. That's pretty much it for dings, and none of the dings really mitigated my overall enjoyment all that much. In the end, NOT BAD AT ALL.


As often happens, my experience with 1-Across set the tone for the whole puzzle. Today, got it right away, or, rather, thought I had it, and then tested the crosses to make sure. So RABBI AMEN RA BONE-IN (nice) and off I went. Got CZAR off the "R" and guessed the correct spelling because the rule is: actual former Russian leader = TSAR, honcho of some sort = CZAR. Use this rule for first guesses, with the understanding that the rule is not actually a rule, more a guideline (but a pretty reliable one). Struggled with both of the four-letter movie franchises in the middle of the grid, LOTR (i.e. "Lord of the Rings") because I just didn't have enough to go on (28D: Popular fantasy film franchise, for short), and HULK because I got GRETA THUNBERG confused (I think) with American movie producer Irving THALBERG, which gave me HA-K for 32D: "The Avengers" role, which made me think maybe someone named ... HAWK? ... was in "The Avengers." Hawkman is a superhero, but he's DC. Oh, yeah, I didn't have the "L" for HULK because 38A: Command after a crash (RELOAD) was not all clear to me. I have never had occasion to use said command. Reboot restart helpme ... but not RELOAD. Slowed me down considerably, that little snarl-up, but it was all ultimately very sortoutable. "Rent-to-own" is a familiar phrase to me, LEASE-TO-OWN isn't, but it wasn't hard to figure out the gist of that one. No idea about Madame NOIRE. Seems like the "most trafficked site oriented to African-Americans" might be worth knowing. And now I know. 


Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

99 comments:

John Hoffman 12:17 AM  

DOULA = new word for me

jae 12:25 AM  

Easy and faster than yesterday’s. Lots to like here and I did. An excellent debut for Wendy Brandes.

@Rex - REboot before RELOAD slowed me down too, plus I had similar thoughts about GALOSH. The H in ASHES was my last entry.

If your looking for a charming holiday series try “Dash and Lily” on Netflix. It’s a bit different than the traditional fare.

puzzlehoarder 12:26 AM  

Slow going from east to west across the top. One section gave very little help in starting the next. Things picked up to a normal Friday rate south of the equator.

I'm not familiar with the NOIRE online mag but ONS sealed it. That was the last to go in.

Merry Christmas to all.

Joaquin 12:30 AM  

My first three entries were RABBI, IM OLD, and PENAL. Some Christmas!

And, I don’t get 38A (Command after a crash / RELOAD).

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate; and happy Friday to the rest of us. Funny - at my house we don't observe Christmas, yet my wife and I agree that in 2020 it somehow doesn't feel like Christmas. Weird!

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

when would you reload after a crash? reset, erase, reboot, restart. maybe. must be some other kind of crash. plane crash? nope. car crash? never. stock market crash? stop.

new to me - madame noire.

also did not know doula. the last letter is a vowel and is crossing a foreign name - rough.

gonna wait for someone else to quote Herb C. "...frisco...boiled in oil..." probably that lady who lived at SFO.

hey Santa's on his way. hope he brings a better 2021 for everyone. this was one for the books

zippy

Anoa Bob 12:50 AM  

How is I MOLD the answer for 14A "All this kid stuff now, it's crazy"? MOLD as in fungal growth or MOLD as in a jello form? I don't get it.

I knew ZORRO right away, so that was nice.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm going back to the JUICE BAR, aka the Anoa SALOON.

chris b 1:00 AM  

new personal best time. merry christmas to me! and you all i suppose as well...

Frantic Sloth 1:02 AM  

Actually found this kind of easy for a Fridee, and yet...chewy. Just a delight and a lovely gift for today.
I didn't get you anything. 🤭

🧠🧠
🎉🎉🎉.5

To Rex, the Mods, and everyone here - have a happy, healthy, frabjous day! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and warmest regards to you all and your loved ones. 🥰 MWAH!

Festive Sloth 🦥 🎄🥂

okanaganer 1:13 AM  

Thank you Rex for staying up late! You rarely do that any more.

For some reason I was drawing a blank at first, and had to skip sectors to the right but then it was away to the races. Zis boom bah, ten minutes and done. Would have been quicker except for 24 across "Provides" first tried RENDERS then thought, no more likely TENDERS. And that was my last entry, changing it back to RENDERS, since ARBOT is not a shaded area that I know of.

Again, thanks Rex for posting in the evening instead of the morning. I am not a morning person, so if I comment then it ends up somewhere around 2 pm eastern time. And here I am sitting alone on xmas eve; not for the first time, but for the first time involuntarily.

I normally travel to my nephew's place in Kelowna for xmas eve and night, with his mother (my sister), but this year I declined because of, well, you know. My sister is in her 70s, and, bless her foolish Christian heart, believes that Covid is a gigantic hoax and God will save her from harm. So she is flouting the British Columbia travel and xmas gathering ban, but I can't be a part of that, because, what if she catches it! I can't talk her out of it but I refuse to take part in it. I have tried to talk sense to her but she won't hear it. So here I am alone, but it could always be worse.

Merry xmas to all, (insert optional deity here) bless you!

RAD2626 1:43 AM  

A terrific puzzle and terrific debut. Great cluing. Precious little junk. I think AMEN RA was the only answer I did not recognize. JUICE BAR, GAME TIME, LEASE TO OWN, GRETA THUNBERG all splendid, even if latter took me a while to recall.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate and peace, health and safety to all.

chefwen 1:43 AM  

I was killing this one until I arrived in the SE. Looking back now I can’t really see why I got so hung up there. I had LE at 50A and drew a blank. DUH, puzzle partner filled in LEASE TO OWN. Funny, as my leased, sea foam green Honda SUV has two more payments and then I’ll OWN it. I love it and only two dings (so far).

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate ��

Adam12 2:26 AM  

Class of ‘79 . . . there’s reefer in a doobie but they are not the same thing. Still can’t get over that I can walk into a store, speak to a “consultant” and buy weed legally. As I live and breathe.

Pablo 3:11 AM  

This was a personal Friday record for me. Under 15 on Friday for the first time ever. It's amazing how far some educated guessing can take you, even when your guess is wrong.

Tons of should-be Naticks in here for me (e.g. NOIRE/EELPOT, FRISCO/DOULA), but with the right guesses you can power through. Nice way to bring in the Christmas cheer.

Anonymous 5:33 AM  

@Anonymous

These days, some browser page errors can look like a crash without actually closing the application/tab. In this case, the page can be reloaded after a crash.

Also, the Marvel hero is Hawkeye.

Loren Muse Smith 5:53 AM  

Rex – I really like your writing style, especially when you like a puzzle. Plus, I usually learn valuable stuff about the xworld. (Like, I’ll never forget that the letters in antlers are the most common ones. You taught me that. Now I know how to take that initial stab at CZAR spelling.) And you have some inspired turns of phrase. People who skip your write-ups are doing themselves a disservice. I hope they at least donate to your cause.

Reporting a much harder solve here from beautiful snowy WV, but I got’er done.

@Festive Sloth – I always enjoy your emojis and study them carefully.

“Lagoon” before SALOON. Oops. No one looks at a lagoon and thinks, Man, that looks like some good drinkin’.

EERIE and FIRELIT reminds me of the scary story my cousin Lance always told about a chicken-legged lady who’d stalk you and you could hear her chicken leg drag behind as she made her way toward your demise. He would slap one hand down and then drag a stick behind it to replicate the sound. I was always so scared I couldn’t move.

BLAB feels like it has an extra layer of meaning. Like you have your IDLE CHATTER at the water cooler – the weather, someone’s mistake “reply all” email. . . It turns to BLAB when you spill that LILLY was caught smoking a DOOBIE rolled with the newest strain of EEL POT.

@John Hoffman – I did know DOULA, but here’s my questions: if Hawaii has DOULAS. And some of them HULA. . . You do the math.

I agree that GALOSH looks weird all alone. But maybe the fashionistas who say stuff like I’d go with a bold lip for this event might say, A drab GALOSH would complete this ensemble perfectly. (One last thought – if OshKosh B’gosh sold them, and maybe they do, we’d have an OshKosh B’gosh GALOSH.

My daughter never ORDERS anything at a restaurant. She asks permission. Can I get the salmon? Like maybe she’ll be refused. Bugs the crap out of me.

REFEREE – in case you’re wondering, it used to be that captains tried to sort dustups out, and when they couldn’t, they referred to this guy.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. And not to ignore the ABBEY residents.. . Merry Christmas to all who’re celebate.

PS – Careful, folks. Wear your masks and keep your face from being a . . . (wait for it. . .) coughee mug.

Dogfish 6:23 AM  

Well, that was wonderful. GRETATHUNBERG made for a lovely start which doesn't need to be RIFFED ON (that came next!). Felt very modern ti me, terms like TRANS, URL, and NOIRE.

LEEDS was a lovely surprise after I assumed I wouldn't have a shot there - I know there's a Manchester in New Hampshire, but the fact that it was "North East of where you live" was nice. Even if the answer was LEEDS, which means I'm contractually obligated to grumble about the Rugby.

I've definitely had to RELOAD many a program after my laptop has decided to crash on me - less often nowadays, thankfully!

Story from Grandad today: Apparently, on a holiday to Portugal, he managed to find a shop selling Sandeman Port, and declared that it was ZORRO!

DOULA's a new word in general, and SOY as a flour likewise.

Hope you're all have a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate! And enjoy the rest of the holidays folks.

Unknown 6:29 AM  

When a program crashes on a PC, you would RELOAD.

JD 6:41 AM  

A shout-out to the carping codgers of crossworld, "What's all this new stuff! Oh, I'm old." Or is it iMold, what gets into your phone if you drop it into water and let it sit in the dark for too long?

So much good stuff, the walk off homer of 2020 puzzles. The mic drop. Now I get it. Every day would be too much to ask.

@Ms. Amuse Smith and your @Festive Sloth, thank you both for adding merry to the early morning.

Grouch 6:43 AM  

Must we qualify "Merry Christmas" with "if you celebrate"? Will someone be offended otherwise? I don't get it.

ChuckD 7:04 AM  

So-so solve for me today. Surprised Rex liked this without the wide open grid and wordplay of a good Friday. Sticking the long GRETA THUNBERG - or any other name in the center like that really gloms up the layout and results in those corners not normally seen late week. Liked the BLABS - IDLE CHATTER stack and Rebecca LOBO is cool but not much else. I think we’ve seen the single GALOSH before along with DOULA. The SW and NE short stuff is bad as is the center NOISE.

Santa didn’t bring a good one today but that’s alright - the jingle juice is mixed and chilling and we’ll start the short ribs soon. Merry Christmas everyone.

Lewis 7:15 AM  

As I par-rum-pum-pum-pum through the next year, I will be ever grateful to this community, where every day, to quote from a Christmas lyric:

Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us, once more

And, as the next year draws to a close, my wish to all of you is that you say, with the stamp of truth, “All is calm, all is bright”.

sf27shirley 7:24 AM  

Could not remember GRETA's last name so had Peel for the Avenger, which crossed with slip on ice instead of SKID. This is why I use a pencil.

LMS your Osh Kosh comment is LOL

Joaquin 7:29 AM  

@Grouch (6:43) - I don't celebrate Christmas and I am not offended when someone wishes me "Merry Christmas". However, it often becomes awkward, as the wisher then follows up with, "Got all your shopping done?" or "What are your plans for the day?"

It's no more offensive to me than if you wish me a "happy birthday" in October when actually my birthday is in July. Just awkward, as someone is trying to be nice but gets it so wrong.

Anyhoo ... Happy Boxing Day, Grouch!

Andrea 7:40 AM  

as in I AM OLD

Coniuratos 7:43 AM  

I would say RELOAD after, say, a game crashed (Actually, a term that could come up in a puzzle someday: CTD = crash to desktop, i.e. when a program just shuts down out of the blue) and I open it back up and load my last save. Whereas "reboot" and "restart" would refer to turning the computer or console itself off and on again.

Z 7:56 AM  

Between I MOLD and AARP this puzzle felt a little shady.

A crisp and clean Friday. Upgrading from a studio to a ONE BEDROOOM on a LEASE TO OWN basis? Seems like a mini-theme to me.

In case anyone is wondering, 26%. My kind of puzzle.

@okanganer - Thank you. Topping the list of “things that make me think ill of my fellow man so I didn’t really want to know this today” was discovering that air travel was the highest on 12/23 since March 16. [the remainder of these thoughts are censored because it is Christmas]

@Adam12 - Class of ‘79 here and I’ve been saying at least since then that it would make a lot more sense to legalize and tax. You’d a thunk we’d a learnt our lesson with prohibition, but no.

@Joaquin 7:29 - Well said.

DOULA is relatively recent (earliest usage according to M-W is 1969). Which just reminds me of my friend Paul’s childbirth experience. Child #1 - You wait in the waiting-room and we’ll get you when it’s over. #2 - You can be with your wife until the labor gets serious, than please go wait and we’ll get you when it’s over. #3 - “Would you like to cut the cord?” Paul’s youngest babysat for my oldest, so that’s an indication of how delivery has changed.

@sanfranman59 late yesterday - I don’t know if it is too clever so much as this is what happens when the puzzle diversifies. Based on what I saw on Twitter, there is likely to be significant overlap between users familiar with that phrase and people who read MadameNOIRE, while you and I don’t even make an appearance on the same Venn Diagram. I MOLD indeed.

Happy and Healthy Holidays to everyone.

Grouch 7:59 AM  

Thanks and back at ya. (Now I gotta look up Boxing Day again)

frankbirthdaycake 8:09 AM  

This was a great puzzle. It was just right for me – not too easy, but not too hard – and it was fresh and enjoyable. A nice way to start the day.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

@anoa bob: it's I'M OLD, not I MOLD

bocamp 8:22 AM  

@Erik & @Wendy, thank you both for this excellent, beautifully clued Fri. puz. A fun and worthy test!

Slightly under av. time, but seemed harder.

Thank goodness for fair crosses or never would have gotten "doula" or the correct spelling of "Greta's" last name, bless her heart!

How do you solve a problem like Maria


Peace 🕊

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

You are not alone.

Mr. Cheese 8:44 AM  

Have a Merry (insert holiday here) and a Happy (2020 can’t end soo enough) to all

kitshef 8:49 AM  

Feel like I got a lump of coal in my stocking.

Three minuses for terrible clues: I’M OLD, I’M FREE, and GENRES.

One minus for AMEN-RA, rather than AMUN-RA.

One plus each for the ZORRO clue and the POODLE clue.

Overall, not one I enjoyed at all.

@Sanfranman late yesterday – I believe it was a clothing reference. Terrible clue, especially crossing a WoE at the first letter.

ow a paper cut 9:02 AM  

This puzzle was good fun. Merry Christmas!

Newboy 9:07 AM  

Quick response before reading above.

Is 18A clue a cheat. Sure Maria heads back to the ABBEY early in SOM, but that unforgettable opening helicopter shot is definitely Alp?? something? Otherwise I think Rex nails this critique. Glorious greetings to all in Crossworld and their creatures great and small!

RooMonster 9:08 AM  

Hey All !
Merry Christmas!

Got a gift of a pretty easy FriPuz. Not super easy, but enough to have a nice flow going. Did start with hardly anything after the first run-through, but got a few answers and built fairly quickly from them.

@LMS
Rhyme much? Har. Good stuff. HULA DOULAs.

We get RIPOFF and RIFFEDON together. Pretty neat. And F-y!

Got down to the last square unfilled, which was the first R of ZORRO, knowing that was what it had to be, but that would've ended up with ARBOt, as had tENDERS instead of RENDERS. Scratched the old head, and looked again at 8D clue/answer, then saw ARBOR was probable, and changed my T to the correct R for RENDERS. Threw in that final R of ZORRO, and... Happy Music!! Narrowly escaped my one-letter DNF.

AMENRA. Har. What happened to whoever it was at the beginning of the year who was tracking the usage of that? I remember (amazingly enough) that it was a few months in before an appearance of said Ra. This I believe is the second time this year the full AMEN RA was in a puz. Weird how the ole brain remembers oddities like that.

EEL POT, have you cooked your Christmas EEL yet?

Is GALOSH a SOC? "Has anyone seen my other GALOSH?" (Or did I leave it at Osh Kosh, B'Gosh? [Har] {Hi again @LMS!})

Five Double O's, Five Double E's, Two Double B's, Two Double L's, Two Double F's!! (@Lewis too much into the Holidays to count 'em!) One each Double of A, N, R, S, T.

Two writeovers only, I think (there goes the selective memory again!), LEASETObuy-LEASETOOWN, aforementioned tENDERS-RENDERS.

So a nice puz. Un-Christmas-y, but that's OK. Hope Santa gave y'all what you wished for!

Five F's
RooMonster
DarrinV

Nancy 9:18 AM  

First of all, I knew who she was, but I couldn't JOG my memory enough to get her last name without crosses. (That's what having a fuzzy memory is all about, Dear Reader. Whatever chance I might have once had on Jeopardy, it's been gone for many years.)

Then I couldn't remember whether she was a GRETE or a GRETA. GRETE sounded a bit more foreign, so that's what I wrote in. Giving me DOULE. What on earth is that? But never mind, I've never heard of DOULA either. So a 1-letter DNF.

NOT BAP AT ALL. What dat? I had SLIP for "not handling ice well", then I got sulky and ANNOYed when I knew it had to be SLID (there should NOT be a past tense answer there!!!), and only belatedly realized it was SKID. Well, if all you do is SKID on ice, you're one lucky person. I SLIP. Could HULL, rather than HULK have been an "Avengers" role? To me it certainly could have.

I skidded and slid and slipped all over this quite crunchy puzzle. And except for the singleton GALOSH (has anyone ever said "I'm putting on my left GALOSH right now"), I enjoyed it a lot.

Unknown 9:25 AM  

This puz was right in my wheelhouse; my fastest Friday yet, by a minute.
I actually find myself agreeing w/ rex: I've never seen galosh in the singular, until this morning; and I didn't care for etes in the plural, since there's only one summer per calendar year. But that feels like quibbling, a habit I'm trying to avoid.

And to all my Jewish friends on this blog, enjoy your Chinese takeout today!
(We're going with Thai, since the local Chinese spot has sadly gone downhill over the past several years . . . .)

Teedmn 9:25 AM  

I don't know if it was the puzzle itself or that I am solving online but this was a leisurely solve for me, not hard but I took quite a few wrong turns that ate up time. I forgot AMENRA was higher in the Egyptian pantheon than Osiris. And as a non-steak eater, I thought a rib-eye request would be "medium". That accounted for the slow-down in the NW.

In the NE, I had the link as a LAN and Lewis and Clark traversing, oh I can hardly admit it, the NWT (Northwest Territory, yes, I just realized I was stealing that from northern Canada).

In the SE, the USO went on a tour of a tAverN. In the SW, when I'm asked if I can Zoom, I say "I'M opEn". And spelling 21D as DOoLA had me wondering if a HorA dance told a story.

Thanks, Erik and Wendy, and congratulations, Wendy, on your debut.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and peace to all.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Easy peasy felt like a Tuesday. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and to those who don’t.

TJS 9:35 AM  

"Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes the horseman known as Zorro..." God, I loved that show. There was a guy who knew how to wear a mask. Only covered around his eyes and yet no one could ever recognize him !
How those intro songs got burned into our memory forever. Davey Crockett, Mighty Mouse, The Lone Ranger (Everyones' first brush with Classical music). Yes, as I have admitted, I mold.

Once again, Merry Christmas, as best we can.

pabloinnh 9:51 AM  

I gave myself the Christmas present of three wonderful wrong guesses. Started with OSIRIS, which led nowhere, down south to RENTTOBUY, which was somewhat helpful, but my favorite was my answer for "joins hands". Aha, I thought, someone has come up with a new way to clue that one, as I confidently wrote in ANTES. Well, I got the S right.

Not bad. NOTBADATALL, as the president says to our two heroes at the end of Independence Day. Classic understatement.

Merry Christmas to all from an unChristmas like NH, where it is 60 degrees and raining hard. Good bye snow.

May God bless us every one. We sure need it.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

What’s EGOT ?

Smith 9:58 AM  

@Frantic
Calloo callay! [sp.?]

Sixthstone 9:58 AM  

Love Erik's puzzles as I am generally right on the same wavelength. Today was no exception, and I posted my fastest Friday time ever. My first thought was correct on almost every clue. Nice, friendly puzzle. I'm not sure about kicking off Christmas day with a Rabbi, but everyone's welcome! Merry Christmas, and enjoy that DOOBIE!

Bax'N'Nex 10:00 AM  

Did anyone else find it amusing (and maybe already noted) that the first across on Christmas Day was Rabbi???

Whatsername 10:07 AM  

I wholeheartedly agree, a Friday that’s Fridayed right. I am so impressed by the parade of dazzling debuts we have been seeing recently. So many new faces and personalities making their marks on the crossword world, and we solvers are the lucky recipients of their efforts. Congratulations Ms. Brandes and thanks to both constructors for this NOT BAD/extra good one.

I’ll pass on the BONE IN the steak, thank you. In fact that’s what’s on the menu at my house today, boneless ribeyes. Both my dogs - Trixie the POODLE and a Yorky named ABBEY - will GO WILD when those are served. But our mere presence will ANNOY Miss LILLY the cat who will sit regally on her throne, thoroughly disdainful of the NOISE of our IDLE CHATTER.

@Lewis (7:15) “All is calm, all is bright.” What a lovely sentiment. Thank you and may the same be true in your world.

Merry Christmas wishes to those of you celebrating today. And to
@Joaquin: How ‘bout about those Chiefs! That 13-1 is looking mighty good.




Mr. Grumpypants 10:12 AM  

Thought that ASHES [to] ASHES was rather morbid for a Christmas morning puzzle.

Smith 10:14 AM  

Confidently plunked in Osiris which messed up that section until ONEBEDROOM became obvious. Otherwise easy and fun! Merry Christmas, etc.

Pete 10:15 AM  

I spent most of the '70s smoking weed, and reefer= weed, DOOBIE = joint. Well, I smoked occasionally during most of the '70s, not 24x7. I hoped Madame NOIRE was a life style magazine for the dominatrix set, and was a tad disappointed it was for African American women. Not that I'm not happy they have a magazine that caters to their unique concerns, it's jut not titillating.

Never heard of a DOULA (the internet defines it as Do Useless Labor Advising), but I'm surprised it's not big enough to have invaded my consciousness. Hiring a professional to do what your spouse / friends / parents would traditionally have done has got to be de rigueur among a certain set. You know Gwyneth Paltrow owns a DOULA agency to match clients and service providers.

Otis Redding should have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize, as no one has created as much peace in this world in the past 50 years as he, 3 minutes at a time per person as we each listen to Dock on the Bay.

SouthsideJohnny 10:26 AM  

It may be coincidental, but it seems like the lack of a theme allows the constructors to avoid a lot of gunky fill, nonsense and arcane esoterica on Fridays and Saturdays. Even though this seemed to play a little easier than an average Friday, I still needed a bit of assistance - I was however able to get on a roll and did complete several of the sections by myself though - I’m progressing !

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony
Awards...or are you kidding?
Discussed this ad nauseum a few days ago

Nancy 10:32 AM  

@Teedmn -- I would have, like you, written in MEDIUM for the rib-eye request because it was the only answer that seemed to fit the space, but I knew it had to end in N because of FAN. I've never heard of BONE-IN because it never would have occurred to me that they'd take the bone out. It's not like fish, with tiny little bones that can kill you. It's just one big bone, right? Of course, it they're charging you by the pound, then you might want the bone out. But what's in it for them?

@Pablo -- Love your ANTES answer! CLAPS has used this clue before, but ANTES, never. As far as "goodbye snow" -- good riddance is what I say.

I see that GALOSH bothered just about everyone. And to all the I MOLD people -- nice one! I'm sure I'm getting moldier with every passing year.

If it weren't for Covid, here's one person from a secular and assimilated Jewish background who would be celebrating Christmas this year. Our family always did and always has since childhood. Now, not able to be with them, I ordered in dinner last night, enough to last for two days since everything will be closed today. But it wasn't the stereotypical Chinese, @Unknown (9:25), Chinese not being exactly my favorite cuisine. It was Vitello Casabianca (veal stuffed with cream of spinach and covered with mushrooms), plus a side order of fried zucchini. Hey, it's Christmas, I'm not able to be with my family, and it will last for two nights, after all.

I wish everyone as happy a Christmas as is possible under the circumstances. Along with a 2021 that is infinitely better than 2020 -- as how could it not be?

Henry Calvin 10:36 AM  

Of course I knew Don Diego was Zorro. Bernardo told me.

yesgrrl 10:45 AM  

If you’re looking for a Christmas (or other) gift for yourself, go to the website for the Geffen Theater and buy a ticket for Inside the Box, with NYT puzzle maker David Kwong. It’s a zoom show so you can come to the theatre no matter where you live, and others in your household may share the screen. It’s a heck of a lot of fun — puzzles, history, magic. Highly recommend.

Joe Dipinto 10:46 AM  

What a shitty day. Huh? Oh. [tap, tap, tap] Is this thing on? Oops, sorry.

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has a peaceful, contemplative day, and stays warm and safe. And that Santa brings you everything you wished for.

In view of our harpcentric discussions recently I thought I'd post one of my favorite pieces. For me it isn't Christmas if I don't hear this.

harriedseldon 10:48 AM  

Liked the fox (ZORRO) crossing the wolf (LOBO).

yesgrrl 10:50 AM  

Let me just add that I’m on zoom all day, all weekdays for work, and zoom fatigue is real. Sometimes I can’t bear to turn on the camera. So I wondered how they would handle this for a performance. Somehow David Kwong and his team made zoom part of the show itself. It’s very entertaining and I won’t spoil anything else now.

Carola 10:50 AM  

For me, this was a lovely Christmas gift - I had to work a little bit to undo all the knots, but I never felt I couldn't do it. The start was rough - I wanted some Greek, Roman, or operatic temple figure + osiris; had to put that corner down and look for one that was easier to open. Yay for JOG and the JUICE BAR and the all clever clues and many a treat of an entry that followed..

@Loren, I joined you briefly at the lAgOON and in enjoying HULA x DOULA (what you don't feel like doing when being attended by).

@TJS, I loved your post. "This bold renegade carves a Z with his blade...."

@okanaganer, I'm sorry you have to miss your family Christmas but I'm glad you're staying in.

It's also a lovely Christmas gift to see you all here today.

yesgrrl 10:55 AM  

It’s very grinchy of me to say so, but I don’t think people who are not built to bear children should comment on things that help and support people who bear children. Please do not disparage doulas (aka midwives), who do a lot of real good in this world.

Ben Bernstein 11:10 AM  

As a Jew, I found it delightful if not a bit head-scratchy to start the puzzle with rabbi on this Christmas Day. Sort of a “don’t forget about us!”.

I love me some Christmas morning. A merry one to you all!

mathgent 11:15 AM  

NOTBADATALL. Enjoyed it even though I got quadruple Naticked in the middle: GRETA, DOULA, LOTR, HULK.

Nancy, that veal dish sounds wonderful. Is it New York? I've never seen it out here.

Do any of us read Time any more? I haven't for years. I used to subscribe around the sixties.

It's fitting that the Christmas Day puzzle should only have a hint of Christianity ("ashes to ashes") with more of a nod to Judaism (RABBI). Instead, it features America's current dominant faith, Environmentalism.





gringa 11:31 AM  

I agree! Enough of this PC, Virtue-signalling language!

Merry Christmas, 'nuff said.

gringa 11:37 AM  

59A: epiphany about the difference between tedious fill and superlative fill. It's in the clueing! TEN is a very pedestrian answer but "perfect score...or half of one," required just enough mental exertion to warm up the motor and we're off to the races!

kqrbob 11:43 AM  

You’ll need to reload all you backed up data on to your new, or hopefully repaired, machine.

RooMonster 11:49 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

Another Christmas. After all the hooey of this year, it's nice to make it to The Holidays (whatever you celebrate) and take stock of friends and family.

RooMonster

Birchbark 11:54 AM  

@gringa (11:37) -- Bingo on the cluing and what it does to common fill. Looking at a grid by itself doesn't tell the story. The TEN clue is a great example.

@Teedmn (9:25), @Nancy (10:32): Also medium before BONE IN, cured by FAN. BONE IN ribeye is more flavorful, boneless cooks more evenly.

Also, @Nancy, the veal sounds delicious. Here, 'twas a day in the kitchen toward the night before Christmas: homemade pasta with two kinds of sauce (red: garlic, onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, black olives, herbs, white wine, tomato sauce; white: olive oil, anchovies, garlic, parmesan and parsley). Also tuna balls (meatballs' pescatarian cousin), sardines in a tempura-like batter, and "alici" (fried bread with anchovy). A New Zealand sauvignon blanc went perfectly. Not bad for three people who've seen more of each other in the past eight months than anyone would've thought possible and survived to tell the tale. Then we opened presents and watched "It's a Wonderful Life." That one never fails.

TJS 11:55 AM  

Hey @yesgrrl, maybe you should change your name to "Howdareyougrrl' ? not sure what triggered that reaction. seemed like people were referring to the obscurity of the word, not the service performed. Fire up that doobie and mellow out.

Pete 11:57 AM  

@Yesgrrl - Point taken - that last point certainly came off more flip than funny. Bad writing, not bad intentions. When I looked up what a DOULA was I was struck by how that function has traditionally been fulfilled by, as I said, partner, parents, friends. A DOULA is not a midwife or a therapist, there's no medical training or licensing involved, and in most places, no training at all involved. I know that too many women head into childbirth without any useful assistance from close associates, and have no doubt a DOULA would be of great use to them. I just doubt that these women are the ones most likely to avail themselves of a paid DOULA, that it's more common among the faddish elite to have a paid Lamaze coach with them rather than their partner.

Hungry Mother 12:02 PM  

I had all the time in the world to slog through this one, so I finally got it. No joy and 30 minutes longer than usual for the solve. Like many, alone with my wife on Christmas for the first time ever in 54 years of marriage. Lots of texting and phoning with family helped. This puzzle had me puzzling over almost every answer.

Photomatte 12:02 PM  

Pretty good for a holiday Friday; sometimes they're too easy on holidays. I had THOR in for 32 Down (Avengers role) and really disliked HULK as the correct answer, since he's always been referred to as THE HULK. Similar to that scary movie creature, THE THING: the THE is part of the name. Also, the word DOOBIE for "reefer" is not Crossword-rules-correct. That's like giving us a clue of "ground beef" and having the answer be TACO. Yes, doobies contain reefer, like tacos contain ground beef, but they're not interchangeable words.
Other than that, Merry Christmas!

oceanjeremy 12:44 PM  

I can only think of one instance where you RELOAD after a crash. If you're running a web server on a Linux machine and the web server crashes you would use the RELOAD command: "systemctl reload httpd.service"

But that is stupid obscure, and I doubt the NYTXW editors are even aware of that usage.

I think we can all agree they whiffed on that cluing.

Unknown 12:56 PM  

@ gringa 11:31
I don't think people say "Merry Christmas to those who celebrate" as a PC, virtue-signalling thing. They do it because not everyone is a Christian and not everyone celebrates Xmas. (In fact, more than a third of Americans do not identify as Christian.) It's simply meant to be respectful of those folks who don't participate.
I see it as a nice gesture.

El Grande Merlot 12:57 PM  

Agree with @OJ 12:44. You may RELOAD files, data and such to a new or repaired drive or machine from a backup source using commands such as copy, move etc. So yes, reload is a valid verb and describes what you might do to a computer (or a shotgun haha) - but it isn’t a “command”. Surprising that they don’t have editors to review and catch such careless blunders prior to publishing.

Nancy from Chicago 1:14 PM  

Merry Christmas everyone! I don't post very often but I always enjoy your comments. Wishing everyone a much improved 2021.

Nancy 1:38 PM  

I found this Vitello Casabianca restaurant link that I ordered from yesterday for @mathgent (11:15), and was going to send it to him in an off-blog email, but then thought: why shouldn't I put it up here for anyone else who might be interested? After all, it contains not just the menu, but a lot of mouth-watering photos of that dish and many other dishes besides. HEREJust scroll down through the many photos.

@Birchbark (11:54) -- What can I say? Your wife is one lucky woman. You not only would be a go-to person in any emergency (as I think we've already established), but you obviously cook magnificently too!

Kris K. 1:43 PM  

Saying “Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it” is kind of like saying, when someone sneezes, “God Bless You if you believe in God.”

TTrimble 1:44 PM  

I struggled a bit. Hanging me up the most was the SE, although what really helped me was ridding myself of the belief that The Avengers referred to the 1960's British TV series about spies (sheesh). Comic books, or any of their Hollywood manifestations, are simply not on my radar.

Thus, the HU-- turned into HULK, which led to SKID (not SlIp), which led to NOT BAD AT ALL. Next, what I had to do was get myself to stop thinking the name of Donald Duck's nephew had to end in a -y. Nearby, the cluing for POODLE and PGA was too clever by half. (The clue for TEN was just-right clever.)

Also tricky was North Central. I thought I remembered that the Latin for "fox" was "vulpus" (turns out to be vulpes), but that wasn't helping one bit for the Spanish. Didn't know the female basketball player. I had tENDERS, not RENDERS (as in "tenders a suggestion"), which seems perfectly plausible. So all that took a while to unwind.

Hate to break it to some of you, but "reefer" can also refer to a marijuana cigarette, aka a DOOBIE.

Fun to see Otis Redding invoked in defense of FRISCO. (Remember that debate some time back about "San Fran" and FRISCO?) Also, it was really nice to see GRETA THUNBERG in prime position! I didn't know about the Time Magazine honor.

Merry Christmas to all! (That would be my usual way of greeting, although I don't mind at all the "for those who celebrate". It's just people trying to be nice and thoughtful to each other. Right? How about this instead: Peace on Earth.)

Ernonymous 1:59 PM  

I wished my niece a Merry Christmas today and she said thank you but I don't celebrate it. I forgot she is Jehovah's Witness.

CDilly52 2:04 PM  

And the San Francisco. Alley has a wonderful virtual UTC racket that includes tour of the theatre one normally doesn’t get, other fascinating things and a play of the magnificently staged and danced 2008 production. If Nutcracker is an annual tradition in your family as it is in mi e, this is a lovely opportunity! Not certain how long the production lasts.

jberg 2:32 PM  

Yeah, fun puzzle. Even EELPOT is better than EEL tout court. And yes the cluing makes a big difference -- but there are limits. We've seen all kinds of complicated, allusive clues for OREO, but when you work it out and see what the answer is you can get a little impatient.

The reasoning that if GALOSHES is plural there must be a singular doesn't quite apply to "pants"--well, the singular, sor of, is "pantleg." And I MOLD, so I used to wear them -- but i don't think anyone does anymore, now that regular old boots are so common.

ashes TO ashes fits right in with the celebration of an event linked to the Slaughter of the Innocents. Without death, there would be nothing to celebrate:

"Since by man came death...
From man came also the resurrection of the dead."

As it says in the song.

So Merry Christmas, everyone!

CDilly52 2:32 PM  

The Agard wheelhouse seems to require some sort of admission requirements to which I am very, very rarely provided. Thought I was being given a holiday reprieve from what is usually a brain-pounding experience as I started off and absolutely dipped through the west half of the puzzle. So especially proud when I was not co founded by the clues for either LID or REFEREE, as those gave me purchase in the SW corner.

Struggled a bit to suss out RENDERS and was afraid to just toss in DOOBIE (certainly a word with which (s a woman of my particular “vintage”) I am familiar, but it seemed not quite a snug fit. “Reefer,” to me identifies the genre is plant, MH, a DOOBIE, to me is the delivery vehicle constructed of said plant material to be employed (I’m told) as a delivery method for the plant material.

The. The LGBTQ flag confounded me as I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out which of the identifiers or nicknames for the categories(?) fit the answer. But I got that one in good time and all was still well. . . . . Until the SE corner. Our constructors got me. Well and truly stopped me cold.

I caused part of the problem myself by putting in TARP I stead OF AARP, yep, did it and didn’t catch my sense was-as many times as AARP appears in the NYTXW. Huge oops. That error made me hang on to my beginning of 50A as “LEtS” which seemed fair since we were talking about rental. And sonI just kept digging myself deeper and deeper into the slough of despond.

I suspected SALOON so pencilled that in, but my “tour group” started as aaA and so the entire SE was just a mess, even though I (sort of! Had SALOON and knew LEESS absolutely.

The “French toy” - oh yes, after thinking myself so aware of the Agardian proclivity for clever clues, I fell hook, line and sinker for the obvious one! I was looking through my brain for the. Ame ofnthe collectible coin-like things that were all the rage with kids a few years back - the ones with the yellow character that was a crossword fixture for a long time-still can’t recall that toy but Inwas assuming - even though I was fairly certain that particular toy was of Japanese rather than French origin.

Anyway, you can see how very wrong a solve can go and I freely admit to being “got,” so Mr. A and Ms. B, and all you experts here and about, have yourselves a good chuckle.

The experience made for a wonderfully “Friday-quality”, quality solve. Congrats to our able constructors. I finally dug myself out with the A of PGA (which was after all correct) and got ANNOYS. Still banking on SALOON, LOUIE went in. and thank the crosswords universe, that gave me AUDIO and the laughing crossword angels shouted “toy as on dog, woman!!” and the French POODLE was the key to the proverbial happy music.

Happy Christmas, holidays and well, just happiness to one and all. We deserve some. Super Friday solve.

Masked and Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Endlessly enjoyable themeless puz. But can't help but wonder what its seed entries were? Surely some from the list of: BONEIN. DOULA. EELPOT. and GALOSH.

@jae: yep. REBOOT before RELOAD. Lost precious nanoseconds.
@AnoaBob: I MOLD. har

staff weeject pick: IMO. Liked its Uth-ful clue a lot. Wonder if I MO is also a thing? Only 10 total weejects, 6 of which were neatly splatzed into gorgeous NE & SW stacks.
fave sparklers: JUICEBAR. POODLE. NOTBADATALL. RIPOFF/RIFFEDON. DOOBIE.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Wendy darlin and Erik dude. And congratz to Wendy L. Brandes on her half-debut.

May all yer fondest Christmas wishes come true. … Except fer that there martial law dealie, of course.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

@kitshef: One additional lump, or two … ?
**gruntz**

**gruntz**

okanaganer 4:02 PM  

@RooMonster 9:08 AM, or anyone curious about when/how often a particular answer appears, don't forget one of the excellent tools at xwordinfo.com: the Finder page. For example, here's AMEN RA. Used twice in 2020, once in 2019, etc...

Mark W 4:23 PM  

I got the answer, but sadly still do not understand the clue.

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

@Unknown:
In fact, more than a third of Americans do not identify as Christian.

if The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) manages to overthrow the election, I guess we should expect those one third to be sent to labor camps in Red States? get back all those manufacturing jobs by reducing wages to 0. what a neat idea!

Tale Told By An Idiot 4:38 PM  

@Loren: According to my parents, who met when they were cracking codes together during WWII, the mnemonic for frequency of English letters it eton airs. My father was in the army; my mother was a civilian, recruited partly because she liked and was good at crossword puzzles. (Interesting book about female code breakers in DC during WWII - “Code Girls)

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

My Christmas gift is a post from LMS! Loren, you create smiles when we all need more of them — Thanks!

Z 5:55 PM  

@Mark W - TEN is a perfect score or it is half of one score (think Gettysburg Address - Four score and seven years ago = 87 years).

@okanaganer - I think you need a subscription to access many of the xwordinfo.com features.

Any one else do the AVCX Bonus Xword today? 41A caught my serendipitous eye.

JC66 6:15 PM  

@Z

I did.

Nancy 9:01 PM  

Update to my 10:32 post: Turns out that there's still plenty of my wonderful dinner left for tomorrow. That's three entire nights! And no, I'm not starving myself either. What seemed like a bit of an extravagance on Thursday (and anyone who knows me knows that my default mode tends to be "frugal") now seems like a veritable bargain. And it's so good!

I discovered this restaurant by pure chance, Googling "fried zucchini". I've never heard of it before, even though it's in the neighborhood. Well, not quite, but close enough that they were willing to deliver. Fabulous food and the portions are really generous. They haven't seen the last of me; I have just begun to order:)

Sadly, I don't think anyone else on the blog lives in the UES/Carnegie Hill area. Pity.

albatross shell 11:08 PM  

I'M OLD and got an out loud chuckle from the answer. Looked up the THUNBERG part of GRETA'S name to complete the lower 2/3 of the puzzle. I got stuck on the top 1/3 of the puzzle. Much blank space. Looked up LOBO and the whole top fell into place. Same thing happened yesterday when I looked up Luigi.

Ya got any reefer? And someone holds a DOOBIE, I take that as a yes.

I spent a Christmas smoking reefer with a RABBI. My preacher friends were too busy. There was a Boxing day though in Glen Ridge NJ.

ASHES to ASHES
dust to dust
Let the poor man live
Let the rich man bust

Maud 1:07 AM  

If it doesn’t hurt you but makes someone out there feel more comfortable— why not?

Diana, LIW 12:28 PM  

Merry Christmas SyndieCats! (No, no - you're not still stuck in 2020)

No matter how "EZ" this might be, I give myself, as a belated XMas present, many triumph points for finishing this Friday during my second go-round.

Watched a bit of "It's Complicated" yesterday - the DOOBIE scene with Meryl and Steve and Alec at the party - priceless. Made ya laugh just like you were there. No wonder the movie was a "hit."

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 12:37 PM  

Yeah, last letter in was the D of DOULA. Along with the cluster of E's in the SW, there was also a similar O pattern in the SE (SALOON, LEASETOOWN). Weird. Makes one think he's had one too many DOOBIES. That one I did know, but don't tell anyone. Although for the first time, it dawned on me that the word gives new meaning to Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night."

DOOBIE DOOBIE DOO, etc.

Anyway, we note that JC is trying to coax a favorable review by providing (RENDERing???) 25-down. No need, Jeff, I was going to say that anyway. On the DOD front, we must honor the marquee answer, GRETATHUNBERG. I'm glad SOMEBODY is paying attention. You go, girl, and take some world leaders with you.

Slightly easyish for a Friday, but we'll take it. Birdie.

Burma Shave 3:19 PM  

GOWILD ORDERING AUDIO

GRETA’s deal is NOTBADATALL,
SHE BLABS IDLECHATTER on the phone.
TO ONEBEDROOM SHE RIFFEDON one call,
“I’MOLD enough TO LEASE-TO-OWN.”

--- RABBI LOUIE FRISCO

rondo 3:33 PM  

The HULA DOULA area nearly got me since I started with a HorA. I’ve had LOTR DVDs for a long TIME, but have never watched ‘em.

Around these parts GOWILD is encouragement at GAMETIME for the local pro hockey team.

One of these days I’ll be ORDERING a few GLASSES at a local SALOON. It’s been a long TIME.

When doubled LOUIE is that Kingsmen’s song. What *are* the lyrics?

Enough IDLECHATTER from me. Don’t forget to haul your ASHES. Nice puz.

leftcoaster 4:17 PM  

Clue: “Better than I expected!”

My answer: "I’m surprised!” It fit and looked good.

Correct answer: NOT BAD AT ALL!

Didn’t do very well after that.



spacecraft 6:31 PM  

Got Jeff Chen & Erik Agard mixed up. Sorry about that...er, one of you.

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