Complete set in musical comedy / FRI 2-19-21 / Modern lead-in to speak / Short pioneer in West Coast hip-hop / Pal of Seinfeld and Costanza / Parent company of Gerber and Lean Cuisine

Friday, February 19, 2021

Constructor: Amanda Rafkin

Relative difficulty: Medium (skewing slightly harder depending on how rough the proper nouns were for you)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Dorothy LAMOUR (27D: Dorothy of old"Road" films) —

Dorothy Lamour (born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton; December 10, 1914 – September 22, 1996) was an American actress and singer. She is best remembered for having appeared in the Road to...movies, a series of successful comedies starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

Lamour began her career in the 1930s as a big band singer. In 1936, she moved to Hollywood, where she signed with Paramount Pictures. Her appearance as Ulah in The Jungle Princess (1936) brought her fame and marked the beginning of her image as the "Sarong Queen".

In 1940, Lamour made her first Road series comedy film Road to Singapore. The Road series films were popular during the 1940s. The sixth film in the series, Road to Bali, was released in 1952. (wikipedia)

• • •

Had some trouble in the middle of this one, but otherwise, a pretty normal Friday. A little heavy on names, but maybe that's just the SE, where BADU BENES HEIDI and TOO $hort all cross each other just a little bit over from the RAND / O'NEIL cross. LAMOUR and LASSER are old(er) names that might have caused trouble as well (though LASSER is, or was, reasonably common at one point). All of the names are fine, individually. Perfectly suitable for crosswords. There were just a lot of them piled up, which can make solving dicey, as proper nouns are feast or famine for solvers. The NW was, bizarrely, the easiest part of the puzzle for me. Usually, getting started can involve a lot of sputtering, but I went to the little guy early (FAD), and that terminal "F" got me A BIT OF—and thus the first letters of All the Acrosses in that section. LACUNA is kind of a tough word, but it's one I know, so I made quick work of that NW section. It was only when I hit the center that I ran into problems—total stoppage, in fact. See if you can see where my problem is:

Well, ENO, obviously (30D: Singer/songwriter of 1980's "Kiss Kiss Kiss"). I actually had ONO in there at first, but -YLO- looked wrong at 29-Across so I pulled it. I also have NESTEA instead of NESTLΓ‰ at 25D: Parent company of Gerber and Lean Cuisine. That's the real killer, because that's two wrong letters reaching into the empty part of the grid, giving me false footholds. Bad news. Even with the A-K- at the top of 28D: 13, for many (AWKWARD AGE), I couldn't see it (wanted something like "unlucky number"). The only thing that makes me mad at the *puzzle* and not myself is 27A: Modern lead-in to speak (LOL). I've been on the internet for, well, a while, and I don't know what "LOLspeak" is. LOLcats, yes. LOLspeak, no. Lulz, yes, LOLspeak ... can't even imagine. Hang on. Wow, ok, it seems that LOLspeak is the language of LOLcats. The ungrammatical language of cat memes. OK. 

When I googled "LOLspeak," LOLcat came up. I love cats, but the whole LOLcat thing got very old very fast. It all feels very 15 years ago, i.e. a lot less "modern" than the clue believes. I really hope you knew LOLspeak, or knew Dorothy LAMOUR, because that crossing seems maybe tough otherwise. I briefly thought the actress was Dorothy MALONE (just watched "Written on the Wind"), and was very eager to find out what MOLspeak was. But then I fixed it.

I think MADE BANK is my favorite thing in this grid (13D: Raked in the dough). AWKWARD AGE is also nice, even if the clue did flummox me for a bit. And both CEREAL AISLE and its clue are very nice (53A: Way of Life?). Though I talk about her every time I teach the Aeneid, I never think of Helen as a DEMI-GODDESS, but of course she is, just as (technically) Aeneas is a demi-god (mother = Venus). Helen was the offspring of Leda (a mortal princess) and the Swan (aka noted shapeshifter-rapist Zeus). What else? Oh, lots of women in the grid—very noticeable, largely because the norm is the reverse. In fact, men are better represented in this grid than women are in the typical NYTXW grid. Nice to see the effort here to even things out a bit, though it shouldn't just be women constructors who are fixing this issue.

Lastly, if you don't get the clue on VOWELS (37A: Complete set in musical comedy?), it just means that a complete set of the VOWELS (a e i o u and even y) can be found in the phrase "musical comedy." Until tomorrow...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


bocamp 6:39 AM  

Thank you, @Amanda for this skookum Fri. puz.! It was crunchy and smooth at the same time. Lots of fun. :)

Easy+ solve. On my wavelength all the way.

It's A "Sin" To Tell A Lie - The Ink Spots

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anders 6:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joaquin 6:42 AM  

I get that “lay” can be properly used as a past tense. But has anybody in the history of the universe ever actually said “I LAY LOW” to describe keeping out of sight in the past? No. They have all “laid” low.

And LATHED isn’t much better.

But these are the sort of things that help keep an old guy like me sharp. Thanks, Amanda!

callyellen 6:44 AM  

Yes, and I found that to be tremendously irksome. It took me a while to finish that section because I didn't believe they would make an error like that.

Brian 6:48 AM  

Agree with Anders: "Stayed out of sight" and LAY LOW are different tenses.

OffTheGrid 6:57 AM  

"LAY LOW" is correct. The clue is past tense, Stayed out of sight. Lay is past tense of lie. Today I lie low. Yesterday I lay low. In the past I have lain low.

Lewis 7:01 AM  

I remember in my earlier days of solving, all those many years ago, when Friday and Saturday puzzles, especially Saturdays, were mostly impenetrable. I thought that Saturday puzzles were a hidden joke, that no one actually solved them, and that there were people who somehow filled them out (maybe by cheating) and walked around with the paper under their arm, filled-in puzzle showing (maybe in ink), to show off.

Now, all these many years later, I’m on the other side. I can actually rate a Friday or Saturday from easy to hard, but even the hard ones get filled in. I can relax as I solve, laugh at wordplay clues, and take pleasure, rather than frustration, in the work of solving. (And I certainly took pleasure in today’s, and thank you Amanda!)

My point is that if you feel like Friday and Saturday puzzles are out of reach, know that if you continue to attack them, and review every clue and answer afterward, especially the ones you didn’t get, and understand their connection – know that you will, in time, come to solve and love these puzzles, that they will engage you, happify your brain, and give you treats to look forward to. Maybe you will even, as I do, view crosswords as beloved glitter in the tree of life.

Andrea 7:08 AM  

My experience exactly. Very well said!

Katy 7:24 AM  


Lolcat Lisa 7:30 AM  

Don't hate on the LOLCATS, plz. It hurtz me. Kthxbai.

bocamp 7:38 AM  

One Redditor's take on "lay" low:

"You’re using the idiomatic phrasal verb to lie low (intransitive, informal) to mean to hide out."

• Future:— “I’m going to lie low for a while until the police stops looking for me.”

• Present:— “I’m lying low because the police is looking for me."

• Past:— “I lay low yesterday when the police came looking.”

• Past perfect:— “I have lain low because the police have been looking for me.”

~ Robert Charles Lee, 35+ years in editorial & publishing, British speaker, work in American English

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

kitshef 7:49 AM  

It would have helped if LOLspeak meant anything to me. I wonder if it is anything to do with LOLCAT from a couple of weeks ago? Is there a whole subculture of LOL-isms that has passed me by completely?

I’m guessing that “Houston or Washington vis-Γ -vis Manhattan” makes sense if you live in NYC. It sure doesn't make sense to me.

This was definitely a Saturday-level puzzle for me, and a fairly tough one.

pinAcolAdAS at 15A basically ruined any chance at a smooth solve in the NW. oil before INK messed up the middle, and a pair of outright errors: cosmo before BENES and OwEns before ONEIL killed the SE. So basically, I had two corners and a bunch of nothing.

I think the last cooking show I watched had Graham Kerr.

Unknown 7:50 AM  

Shouldn't 29 A be stay out of sight au lieu de stayed out of sight if answer is laylow? Jim

Ben 7:57 AM  

I got into some early trouble with a few overconfident guesses in the NW, I had PINACOLADAS instead of BAHAMAMAMAS and IFYOUINSIST instead of ICANTRESIST. Oops!

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

I have lathed and will lathe again when I can get N95 masks for the wood shop but have never used nor heard from another turner “lathe” used as a verb.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

She must have gone somewhere in Massachusetts for those names in the southeast.

Mike G 8:10 AM  

This was a nice one. Normally I hate puzzles with proper nouns - and I didn't know most of these - but the crosses were so smooth that I was able to nibble away bit by bit and fill them in (e.g., never heard of LASSER or BADU, but everything else looked so good that they had to be right).

Teedmn 8:10 AM  

I liked this and was glad Jeff Chen gave it a POW-II, something I've never seen in the years I've read xwordinfo.

Easy, though. I knew most of the names, with ONEIL and TOO Short being exceptions that crosses filled in. I did have to reach back for Louise LASSER because I've never seen an episode of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman". I was going to ascribe that to it airing when I wasn't watching TV but no, it started in 1976 when I was still in high school and definitely a TV watcher. So I dunno why I never saw it.

I started this in the SE so I got most of the hard names out of the way right at the start. I knew HEIDI Gardner, my first entry, but could not come up with a ganja word starting with H, har, HERB!

I am currently re-reading the Dan Simmons duology, "Ilium" and "Olympus" and it makes no mention of Helen's demigoddess status, which is strange because Zeus is wandering around the Trojan War quite a bit in the book; you'd think he'd mention to someone, "Hey, that's my daughter in there." Maybe it comes later in the books - there are 700 pages in each, after all.

Amanda Rafkin, congrats on the POW and on your themeless debut, very nice.

Old White Guy 8:14 AM  

Names were the problem, to many and crossing nails it

amyyanni 8:15 AM  

"Beloved glitter" is very sweet, Lewis. As was the puzzle. SE hardest part, even knowing Badu. Lamour and Lasser were also stored in my brain somehow. Good time, and helping maintain my good mood. Finally got the dingy grout on my tub nice and white yesterday. Finally, a pandemic accomplishment!

Hungry Mother 8:21 AM  

A few wags in the SE and perseverance (what a feat!) carried me through. No point railing against all of the names, nobody listens.

Barbara S. 8:24 AM  

MA’AM, I’m A’am. I’ve had a rollercoaster of a solving week. I made a mess of Monday (the dog puzzle) and took twice my usual time, Tuesday and Wednesday went well, Thursday was a DNF, and today, after initial flummoxation, I found as smooth as silk.

In contrast to Rex’s experience, I couldn’t initially get anything up top and started in the middle, specifically with SIN (“Killing a mockingbird is one…”) and then radiated outwards from there. At one point I had the diagonal swath stretching from NE to SW completely filled in and two terrifyingly empty corners in the NW and SE. But it all kept flowing, even though I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about the most of the names. I count 10 people in the grid and I knew only three beyond doubt: LAMOUR, ONO and LASSER (although I initially flubbed that one with rAinER, another actress of old with the first name Louise). This must be one of those times when names were fairly crossed because I eventually got everybody else with no lookups.

Thanks go to a previous puzzle for introducing me to BAHAMAMAMAS, otherwise that NW corner would have been harder than it was.

@Nancy from last night.
Well, I don’t know about an affair, but her knees did buckle.

@Lewis (7:01)
“beloved glitter in the tree of life.” Man, you really can turn a phrase.

Today I’m quoting AMY TAN, born Feb. 19, 1952.

“My sisters and I stand, arms around each other, laughing and wiping the tears from each other’s eyes. The flash of the Polaroid goes off and my family hands me the snapshot. My sisters and I watch quietly together, eager to see what develops.
The grey-green surface changes to the bright colors of our three images, sharpening and deepening all at once. And although we don't speak, I know we all see it: Together we look like our mother. Her same eyes, her same mouth, open in surprise to see her long-cherished wish.”
(From The Joy Luck Club)

Hungry Mother 8:27 AM  

@Lewis: When I started, Wednesdays were my usual limit, although I could solve an occasional Sunday by taking all day. I remember talking with my buddy Howie (hi, if you’re lurking) about the other days. He said that he tackled them all. This gave me the confidence to try. Eventually, the whole week is possible.

oceanjeremy 8:32 AM  

I tried to solve this puzzle last night but fell asleep (was forcibly dragged into sleep by my body) so had to finish just now. Yesterday was my birthday, replete with a breakfast beer and a glass of wine at lunch — so by the time 10pm rolled around and the puzzle became available I was already halfway asleep.

Despite my groggy attempts last night, and the two minutes I lost when I first dozed while the puzzle was open on my phone, my time came in well below my Friday average (though a good ten minutes over my Friday record). I'm no speed solver.

I enjoyed the puzzle, mostly at the start: BAHAMAMAMAS was the fourth clue (and first long clue) I got, with just AMID, MASON and EST as crosses.

I have only a few nits to pick:

- I have never heard of HANK(S) in relation to hair. I still don't believe it. I googled "HANK hair piece" and most results are pictures of Tom Hanks with various hair cuts. mentions "hank" meaning "a coil, knot, or loop: *a hank of hair*" but Merriam Webster doesn't mention hair at all. I'm calling foul on this answer.

- I did think there were too many proper nouns. Nothing that stumped my solve, but enough that it grates against my sensibility of how many proper nouns should be in a puzzle.

- Agreed with those protesting the tense of LAY LOW. Yes, I know the present and past tense of the verb "to lie" are to "lie" (present) and "lay" (past). But this is a euphemism. The euphemism almost universally (and, technically, grammatically incorrectly) uses the transitive verb "to lay." Advice to someone is always "You should lay low for awhile." Google shows this is far more common than the (grammatically correct) "You should lie low for awhile." So the euphemism is the transitive verb "To lay low," "low" being the object of that transitive verb (rather than an adverb), meaning the correct past tense should be "Laid low," "laid" being the past tense of the verb "to lay."

This is the tiny, petulant hill I choose to die on today.

superboom 8:44 AM  

I dunno...lately been solving 10+ year-old saturday puzzles in the archive and they seem much harder, bygone cultural references notwithstanding

Unknown 8:45 AM  

This puzzle sucked.

ChuckD 8:47 AM  

Liked this for the most part due to the long stacks. The NW group is fantastic - not a fan of STYLE GUIDES - but the SE was solid too. Fill was trivia heavy - but stuff I knew so the solve was smooth and pretty quick for a Friday. Favorite entry is AWKWARD AGE. MADE BANK is too frat boy to be included this puzzle. Lots of short glue on top and bottom but I’ll look past that based on how good the rest of the puzzle is.

Didn’t know the manuscript lean for LACUNA but fuzzily remember discussion of Lacunary space in later partial diff eqs. It’s a cool word.

Enjoyable solve.

alexapharm 8:53 AM  

I found both the clue and your response to it to be so upsetting that I fully intend to consistently use the wrong form of “lay” for the foreseeable future.
(oceanjeremy is my fiancΓ©)

Schuly 8:57 AM  

Surprised Rex didn't hate on Ayn Rand lolCapitism.

Birchbark 9:00 AM  

I CAN'T RESIST is apt for the third day of Lent. Pattern breaking throws things into relief that we take for granted.

Like CEREAL AISLE -- you wander along it all the time, it's there. In this puzzle you see the CEREAL AISLE in its aspirational sense, away from the flourescents and so near to a DEMI-GODDESS.

@Teedmn (8:10) -- re DEMI-GODDESS Helen and Dan Simmons' Ilium and Olympus. Good books -- I think of them when we see "Moons of Jupiter" type clues -- I liked the story arc with the sentient robot-like characters there.

If you haven't read them yet, you might like Simmons' Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, Rise of Endymion quadrilogy (yes, "quadrilogy" is ONE'S expression here). A Canterbury Tale of sorts, Keats, a beast made entirely of blades, a digital entity that says "Mu," Pierre Teilard de Chardin, etc. And farcasting anywhere in the universe as you walk into the next room of your house.

pjd 9:13 AM  

ah, "LAY LOW"

the difference between LAY (intransitive past tense) and LAY (transitive present tense) is one of those classic examples of how *insane* English can be

kqrbob 9:18 AM  

Washington and Houston (pronounced How-ston) are streets in lower Manhattan.

Frantic Sloth 9:24 AM  

@Z from last night. You might be able to find Two Women on TCM. It's been on there several times, but rarely (compared to some other films). Good luck.

Okay. I really liked this one. Bit of a workout and fun stuff you don't see everyday - and in some cases, dare I say, ever?

Look at these beauties:
ALPHAFEMALE (She persists)
BAHAMAMAMAS (They pack a fist)
ICANTRESIST (And won't desist)
ANTVENOM (That insect's pissed)
CEREALAISLE (okay, not that exciting by itself, but as clued? Mwah! It's kissed.)
DEMIGODDESS (In Sparta, she's missed)
EMERILLIVE (For recipes with a twist)
AWKWARDAGE (Always feels dissed)

I'll shut up now.

It was also a pleasant change to see PPP from such varied fields and eras. Something for everyone, anyone?

Interesting Freudian gridmates: ICANTRESIST IDS


Z 9:28 AM  

Well, they'll LAY ya when you're trying to be so good
They'll LAY ya just a-like they said they would
They'll LAY ya when you're tryin' to go home
Then they'll LAY ya when you're there all alone
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get LAID.

with all the apologies to Bob Dylan that he deserves

The Rapper, The Effing Rapper, is 55 years old. Erykah BADU has begun her third decade as a performer. And that is as fresh as this puzzle gets. Well, I guess HEIDI got out of the Alps so I should be thankful for that. Am I bitter that I confused Hedy LAMarr and Dorothy LAMOUR? No. Am I bitter that the NYTX thinks 1940 film stars are reasonable entries? Yes. We get writing from the early 1960's, canceled TV shows, middle aged rappers, pot slang from at least the 1970's, and a reminder of just how racist my favorite spectator sport has been.* Blrrrggghh.

This puzzle wasn't without some charm. Way of Life got a LOL IRL. The BAHAMA MAMAS ALPHA FEMALE sounds like some feminist James Bond reboot. And AWKWARD AGE crossing Ayn RAND is appropriate because so many people went through an AWKWARD AGE of believing she made sense. Most grow out of it, others don't and never realizing that going to Cancun in the middle of a disaster is a bad idea until the video and texts come out.

I was literally reading about NESTLÉ as I was boiling the water for my coffee this morning, so Rex's NESTea error made me feel superior (controversial Ice Mountain bottled water operations is classic understatement).

*I know Buck O'NEIL but "first Black coach" wasn't in the file so I looked it up. 1962. But no on field coaching duties. Alrighty then.

Frayed Knot 9:31 AM  

Hank of hair reminded me of an old song "Honeycomb". Maybe one of our musical bloggers would share it with us.

Sir Hillary 9:32 AM  

I had a really fun Friday FRACAS with this one, and it put up a fight for sure. Allow me to ENTHUSE -- ICANTRESIST puzzles like this.

Maybe there's ABITOF overreliance on 3-letter entries, but I cannot find a single "bad" entry in the entire grid. Remarkably clean.

Love the clues for VOWELS, ARMY and especially CEREALAISLE. Any entry that prompts Rex to embed the Mikey commercial is a winner.

Couple of cluing things bugged me:
-- Lagasse cooked way more than Creole and Cajun cuisine on EMERILLIVE.
-- Bizarre that HANKS is clued as (obscure?) non-PPP when a reference to Tom would have been better, while a basic word like TOO is turned into PPP via an (obscure?) hip-hip artist. I realize Friday cluing should be hard, but this seems a very contrived way to do that. (Caveat: If the obscurity of hair-related HANKS and TOO Short is just mine, that's obviously on me.)

I wish @LMS were here to comment on LAYLOW. Personally, I have never been grammatically correct when using the term.

She may not be a DEMIGODDESS, but Amanda Rafkin is today's Crossworld ALPHAFEMALE. Great work!

Barbara S. 9:35 AM  

@oceanjeremy (8:32)

At the risk of over-quoting, I send you this literary "HANK of hair":

The Vampire
Rudyard Kipling - 1865-1936

[The verses—as suggested by the painting by Philip Burne-Jones,
first exhibited at the new gallery in London in 1897.]

A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you or I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair,
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair—
(Even as you or I!)

Oh, the years we waste and the tears we waste,
And the work of our head and hand
Belong to the woman who did not know
(And now we know that she never could know)
And did not understand!

A fool there was and his goods he spent,
(Even as you or I!)
Honour and faith and a sure intent
(And it wasn't the least what the lady meant),
But a fool must follow his natural bent
(Even as you or I!)

Oh, the toil we lost and the spoil we lost
And the excellent things we planned
Belong to the woman who didn't know why
(And now we know that she never knew why)
And did not understand!

The fool was stripped to his foolish hide,
(Even as you or I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside—
(But it isn't on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died—
(Even as you or I!)

And it isn't the shame and it isn't the blame
That stings like a white-hot brand—
It's coming to know that she never knew why
(Seeing, at last, she could never know why)
And never could understand!

OffTheGrid 9:37 AM  


This verse is from "Honeycomb", a 1957 song by Jimmie Rodgers.

Oh, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
Got a hank o' hair and a piece o' bone
And made a walkin' talkin' Honeycomb

Ethan Taliesin 9:44 AM  

The case for LAY being past tense is weak, imo. Too many names in this puzzle. Liked the musical comedy clue.

Z 9:47 AM  

@oceanjeremy - That you hadn't heard HANKS like this didn't surprise me. That Merriam-Webster hadn't did. You're right about the definition there, but if you scroll down to more example sentences a third man grabs a HANK of her blonde hair and a bloody HANK of hair appear. Both examples capture the violent connotation of when you might most likely see HANKS of hair.

@kitshef - I seem to recall seeing a similar idea using states and Washington to get to "avenues," so the STREET clue didn't fool me even though I know next to nothing about NYC geography.

@Frantic Sloth - I don't know how licensing works for old movies. I fear that now that it is on Amazon it may disappear forever from places like TCM. I did look there when you mentioned it.

RooMonster 9:47 AM  

Hey All !
Fun, stuck, then un-stuck, then stuck... Rinse, Repeat. :-)

Toughest part for me was SW/Center-ish area. Had RANat first, had SOY in, then out, then back in towards the end, ENTHUSE tough to see. Had a sneaky suspicion that it was LAMOUR and LOL, put held off as that ENTHUSE was slow in showing it's face. LAYLOW off to my ears as clued, not big into English idiosyncransies, but sounds wrong. And EMERIL___ could've been a lot of things. I thought the clue was asking for something specific, like EMERILNOLA, or somesuch. But figured it all out after getting AWKWARDAGE, and got puz 100% correct!!

For that AWKWARD AGE, I had A___WARDAGE, and was thinking ALL WARDAGE, as in warding against the number 13. Har. Always like the WKW run in AWKWARD. Uncommon.

Had a feeling that BAHAMA MAMAS was the drink but was thinking the answer would be singular, so didn't put it in at first. But once I figured out ABITOF and PHASED, put it in in the plural form. Haven't had one in quite some time. When I was younger, I hung out at a place that had a drink called Red Death. A stronger BAHAMA MAMA, essentially. Same place had this bartender who made the best Creamsicle ever. For the life of me, can't remember the exact ingredients, but haven't had a better one yet.

Anyway, drinking stories aside, this flowed well. Nice junk-lite grid. A bit of a side-eye to ABE as clued. No one calls a Five-Dollar bill an ABE. "Hey, can I get two ABEs for a TEN?" No. :-)

Three F's

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

who the Hell is BENES? and Life is a game, too ya know.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

You go, girl!!

After I write this comment, I'll go to and see what Amanda Rafkin has to say for herself. I imagine her having been as bored as I've been with all the arrant nonsense about "male" puzzles vs. "female" puzzles. With people like Rex counting number of women constructors. People like Rex looking for how many women in the grid vs. how many men. People like Rex looking for "female themes" vs. "male themes". I can hear her saying to herself: "You want some real "female fill"? Okay, guys, you got it!"


Atta girl, Amanda!

Other than the awful SE corner with its slew of crossing, Natick-y pop culture names (not so atta girl, Amanda; please try to avoid next time) I quite liked this lively and challenging Friday. Thought I'd have to cheat in the SE, but managed not to. I found CEREAL AISLE the toughest and most clever clue -- but once I had it, the SE became solvable.

*BAHAMA MAMAS are after my time at beach resorts. My beach drinks of choice were Pina Coladas, Cuba Libres and Planter's Punches. I'm not sure exactly what a BAHAMA MAMA is, but I would imagine it contains rum. If it doesn't, it should.

kitshef 9:49 AM  

Congratulations, @oceanjeremy and @alexapharm.

Now can anyone explain to me why we say "get laid" rather than "get lain" (or maybe "get lied")?

JOHN X 9:54 AM  

Well this certainly was a chick puzzle (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’m just glad it didn’t dent the car again.

bocamp 9:58 AM  

"@jae's SB List" gave me "lacuna" right off the bat, which anchored 17A & 21A, leading to an easy NW, and smooth sailing the rest of the way.

@Frayed Knot 9:31 AM πŸ‘

Honeycomb ~ Jimmie Rogers

@Nancy (8:35 PM) yesterday

One Special Night. Takes a while to download.

pg -47

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

oceanjeremy 9:58 AM  

Hear, hear!

mathgent 10:02 AM  

I don't complain about PPPs I haven't experienced personally because I have the knack of remembering them once they've been in the puzzle. For example, I put in BAHAMAMAMA right away even though I've never seen one. But it's been in the puzzle once or twice before. (I suppose that they're popular in Bahama resorts. The popular coconut-flavored cocktail in Hawaii is the Lava Flow.)

Woody Allen writes lovingly about Louise LASSER in his recent memoir. They were together for years.

Rex calls Zeus a rapist. There is some doubt about that.

I liked it, crunchy with good sparkle.

oceanjeremy 10:04 AM  

I stand corrected!

Barbara S. 10:06 AM  

@Frayed Knot (9:31) and @OfftheGrid (9:37)
I just looked up the song "Honey Comb" and it was written by Bob Merrill, who must have read Rudyard Kipling (see my post at 9:35). Here's

Jimmie Rodgers singing Honey Comb.

Unknown 10:07 AM  

Low is an adverb

oceanjeremy 10:07 AM  

I was about to protest, “Jimmie Rodgers died in 1933! How could he have had a song in 1957?”

Wikipedia tells me there’s a pop singer Jimmie Rodgers who was *born* in 1933.

oceanjeremy 10:11 AM  

Thanks! 😊

“To lay” is the transitive verb (I lay down my coat - present tense, I laid down my coat - past tense). To lay someone is to... biblically know them. There for the person you lay becomes “laid” in the past tense.

So to “get laid” is to have had someone lay you. Hence, get laid.

JMo 10:12 AM  

And Br’er Rabbit, he lay low.

Mr. Cheese 10:16 AM  

MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN left me laughing every day,
If you young’uns have never heard/seen it look around. You won’t be sorry

Whatsername 10:17 AM  

I am woman, hear me roar! A Friday for the ladies: the ALPHAs, the STYLE GODDESSes, the MAAMs, the MAMAS in the CEREAL AISLE and one of my favorite FEMALES in the history of this ORB, Elaine BENES. Not to mention a superbly constructed crossword. I couldn’t be more ENTHUSED over this. Thanks Amanda and congrats on POW.

Anyone checking my blog profile will see that To Kill A Mockingbird is #1 on my list of all-time favorite books. I first discovered it around the AWKWARD AGE of 13 when I was just beginning to explore what I considered adult level reading and have probably revisited it at least a dozen times since.

The simple prose of Desiderata has GUIDEd me placidly AMID the noise and haste of life for decades. It doesn’t seem to matter what the circumstances, aside from your own personal religious beliefs, I don’t know of any better words to live by.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  


Ah, that would be cruel Piling On, given that the result is starkly obvious from the Republic of Texas, the go-it-alone-fuck-you state of the USofA. Of course, they're taking all the largess Biden will send them. He really shouldn't. He should let the Randians all die off. Well, the Powers That Be in the state at least.

10 years ago, DC in the form of FERC, told them what went wrong the last time this happened, and how to prevent it from happening again. The Republic of Texas politicians gave DC the Middle Finger, since, of course, those Randians know better than scientists who study a problem. And, of course, the rich and powered can always run away to Mexico when the going gets tough; ya know, the tough get going... out of town.

Nancy 10:24 AM  

Thank you so much, @bocamp (9:58) for the "One Special Night" link. And thanks also for embedding "Honeycomb". I had just gone to YouTube for it and was ready to embed it on the blog myself when I saw your post. But Frayed Knot's requesting of it did me a big favor. When I'm stuck at home day after day by ice on the street as I've been so much this month, I must get my daily exercise -- so I dance. As aerobically as I can. And it's always a problem finding fast-paced music that I actually like and that makes me happy. I hate rock music of all kinds, ditto electronic music, ditto this Zumba horror, or whatever it's called. "Honeycomb" -- which I listened to before highlighting it in my browser -- will fit the bill nicely. I remember it well from my youth, replete with all the lyrics, lyrics being one of the few things I never forget. It's typical '50s pop -- mindless, but infectious and rather pleasant.

For others who use dance for exercise when they're stuck at home, I've found "Happy Hunting Horn" from the stage version of "Pal Joey" and "The Lonely Goatherd" from the stage version of "Sound of Music" to be the perfect speed and rhythm for highly energetic dancing. And they make me happy to listen to -- even on the most wretchedly snow-ridden day.

jae 10:26 AM  

Easy-medium. Unlike @Rex NW was A BIT tougher hence the medium. HEIDI and TOO (as clued) we’re WOEs, so knowing BENES and BADU really helped in the SE.

Smooth with plenty of sparkle, liked it and Jeff gave it POW (yes, that’s the second one this week).

Frantic Sloth 10:37 AM  

@Lewis 701am Beautifully stated. You sure write purdy!

@Lolcat Lisa 730am πŸ€£πŸ‘

@bocamp 738am Thanks for that "definitive" explanation. I'm sure that will put the matter to bed, where it can lie down and please dear god, go to sleep. Yeah. I'm new.

@oceanjeremy 832am Happy Birthday! (Belated, but that's your fault.) It's a shame you had to die a day later. πŸ˜‰

@Z 928am So, you didn't love it? And that loathsome toad is hated by his peers, does nothing right, foments insurrection, and will still keep his seat and get re-elected. There's never a comeuppance. 😑
947am Yeah. You kinda have (had?) to luck into it. Usually when it's part of some "Spotlight" or "Star of the Month" thingee. Don't know about the licensing.
BTW, I know this isn't how you used it, but I'm stealing "hadn't did" as in "No! You shouldn't hadn't did that!"

R Duke 10:50 AM  

Anon @9:47 Elaine Benes (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a friend of Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza on the tv show.

Nancy 10:55 AM  

@Barbara S (9:35) -- I didn't realize that Kipling was the inspiration behind the "Honeycomb" song. But I adore Kipling and have always considered him to be a vastly underrated poet. Perhaps it's because he was so moored in his own time, place and class and didn't have a whole lot to say beyond it, if truth be told. But the sound of his poems -- the incredible sonority -- it's been equaled but I don't believe it's ever been exceeded. And I'm someone who, for better or worse, has always prized sound over meaning. (Of course, sometimes you get both, as with Tennyson and Blake, for example.)

Anyway, if you read the "hank of hair" poem Barbara's cited, just revel in the music of Kipling's lines. They're gorgeous.

Oh, and Barbara, I'm going to see if I can find that Julie Andrews interview on YouTube. Probably I can't, but then I'm sure I'll find a different interview that might cover some of the same subjects.

kenji 11:00 AM  

So true. Co-worker introduced me in 2007-ish after confessing that her secret trip to NYC over the weekend was embarrassingly nerdy--ACPT. My interest surprised her, I think. It was probably Monday or Tuesday, and she turned me loose on that day's printout. Ten minutes of NOT ONE letter filled in later, I buzzed her back. "How do you even start?!" She chuckled knowingly, told me come to her office, walked me through, and assured me I'd get it with time. Sure enough (including 5-6 year hiatus in the middle). No speed-solver I, and sometimes tortoise-solver, often needing to get away and come back.

Carola 11:01 AM  

On the tough side for me, enjoyed the tussle.

Help from previous puzzles: BAHAMA MAMAS, BADU. Had to erase: "I shouldn..." nope, too many spaces; weed before HERB; Buck Owens; RAN at. No idea: LOL, TOO, HEIDI.

JMo 10:12 - Exactly!

Teedmn 11:06 AM  

@Birchbark, I think I've read most of Simmons' books, though Wikipedia shows I've missed some of the more recent ones. The Shrike series was my first introduction to his work. While the four books weren't all equally compelling, Hyperion was amazing. And even though I first thought he "jumped the shark" with his ending of "The Terror", I came to love that one. "Drood" and "Black Hills" weren't bad either.

Yes, the moravec/android sections of "Ilium" are my favorite parts.

Deb Sweeney 11:13 AM  

Came just for the lay/laid commentary and not disappointed. I too gave it the side-eye before reverting to my own past grammar teaching example and deeming the crossword correct. I used to tell the kids to put the word "egg" into the sentence. "I laid (an egg) low."

Whatsername 11:33 AM  

We probably should call @LMS in for an emergency SESH to make an official ruling on the LAY LOW controversy before somebody gets hurt.

@Barbara (8:24) A lovely and very apropos quote today. My sister has been going through old pictures and recently sent me a couple of those old family shots from the 60s. They’re black and whites, not Polaroids but they might as well be. My uncle had one of the earliest models, and I can vividly recall the experience of watching intently while the images slowly appeared. Then he would take that weird looking stick thing and go over the top of it which turned it all a weird shade of green. Anyway, thanks for the fond memories this morning.

@oceanjeremy (8:32) Happy belated birthday. Sounds like you enjoyed it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

@Z (9:28) “others don't realize that going to Cancun in the middle of a disaster is a bad idea until the video and texts come out.” Or maybe he just figured he could get away with it until the video and texts came out. And hopefully there will actually be a comeuppance this time. I’m thinking there are a lot of cold hungry Texans who are not going to forget this stunt.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

@R Duke:

Yeah, I know Elaine, and never watched the show, so may be I shouldn't complain, but in all of the clips I've seen, the boys are surnamed while the girls are firstnamed. So, of course, I've never heard her last surname. Yet another example of male dominance in Left Wing Hollywood. Any guesses, other than the initial character establishment, how often the girls are called by surname?

Bree140 11:38 AM  

@Nancy from last night: whaddaya mean, “I'll have to wait for
the public library to reopen to get a DVD”? It’s true that the
NYPL hasn’t completely reopened, but several branches are
open for “grab and go” service (i.e., you can put an item on
reserve, request that it be sent to the open branch that’s
most convenient for you, and go to that branch to pick up
the item when you get an email notifying you that it’s ready).
On the UES, which I believe is your part of town, the 67th
Street, 96th Street, and Webster branches are all open for
grab-and-go service. Just be prepared to have your
temperature taken when you walk into the library to pick up
your item (at least, that’s what they do at the Riverside branch
here on the UWS, where I’m headed this afternoon to pick up
a book, if it ever stops snowing).

All of that said, a quick search of the NYPL catalog shows
that they don’t have either of the James Garner movies that
were mentioned last night, but I hope the rest of this post
was helpful.

Nancy from Chicago 11:42 AM  

@Lewis (7:01) I agree with all the others that
“beloved glitter in the tree of life” is a beautiful phrase. I love your whole post as it matches my experience perfectly.

@Nancy (10:24) I love the idea of energetically dancing to "The Lonely Goatherd"! While "Edelweiss" is (to me) the most beautiful song in the movie, "TLG" is definitely the most fun to watch.

GILL I. 11:45 AM  

@Frantic Sloth: I CAN'T RESIST, I must insist your specialist to be a harmonist might make you a funambulist?
Ooooh...look: A start with an ALPHA FEMALE. My little doxiepoo, Curly, is the one in our family. She isn't shy about a matter of fact she is a DEMI GODDESS.
I like this puzzle a lot except when I came to a HEIDI BADU BENES stop...Those three names sound like the ingredients you might slip into a BAHAMA MAMAS drink. You can't put pineapple into my drink. Nope...My go to, hands down, is the Mojito....
My AWKWARD AGE was 14. At 13 I was still the #1 tomboy of the neighborhood and could beat up most boys my age. I also could out-run, out-swim and throw a ball further than anyone else. I was the Cuban GODDESS of Mulgoba. Then I came to the States and discovered boys - some actually taller than I was. And cute! All of a sudden I wanted my HANKS to be curled, wear lipstick and kiss Cary Grant. Cary wasn't interested.
I learned all about ANT VENOM in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They have some bodacious fire ants that build their houses to rival the pyramids of Giza. And boy do they sting. I got real close to one little chap who was hauling in about 3 tons of clay to build this outhouse and he wasn't having any of my snoopy intrusion. He called several buddies over and they attacked me. With apologies to elephants, but my legs looked like I got a bad case of elephantiasis.

So I went yesterday to have COVID testing and my story is sad. Well, I waited the required 3 hours and then I was called into a little, very sanitized room. They took my temperature about 6 times and asked me if I had had sex in the last week. Then this very handsome doctor comes in to swab me. When he did, I let out the loudest, most disgusting sneeze that god could produce. It flew all over the place. I couldn't help it! The doctor made me leave the room while he called in the hazmat brigade to wipe everything down. He sent a nurse in for the second swab and she was covered from top to bottom in what looked like sterilized gauze. I promised her I would hold my sneeze in. She took my swab but everyone made it very clear that I was not welcome back to the med center. I am COVID free...for now......

puzzlehoarder 11:53 AM  

This was a double dnf for me in the SE. I had TOP over HERO. The rapper was obviously unknown to me and I convinced myself that ganja must also be a word for hero in whatever language it comes from. The trouble started when I threw in HEMP for ganja. ORELSE blew that out of the water and unfortunately I next put in POSESS at 44D. My phone is underling that last one so I was partially tripped up by my bad spelling again and this time the puzzle didn't correct me.

As soon as I looked up the word ganja in my Webster's and didn't see the word HERO anywhere I looked back at the puzzle and HERB and OBSESS jumped right out me. However I had already declared the puzzle done so the double dnf stands.

TOO Short makes a lot more sense and I have to be the only person in the world to put HERO in this puzzle. What makes this disaster most ironic was that I also did the Thursday puzzle last night and navigated all those potential Naticks to a clean grid.

For what it's worth the clue for the common entry TOO was a debut. Either the constructor came up with it herself or Shortz has been saving it for a puzzle he thought was worthy of it. I'm going with the latter.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Agree with Anon @ 8:01. "Lathed" may be in the Scrabble dictionary, but any turner who said he/she "lathed" something in the presence of other turners would get more than a few quizzical looks. "Lathed" is so far out of the lingua franca as to be nonsense.

newbie 12:04 PM  

Thank you, Rex, for the original “Mikey likes it” commercial clip. Charming. After seeing the new Life commercial with the girl Mikey (really, do we have to?) I wonder why they don’t just revive the original. The new one goes over about as well as New Coke (I had to look up the name of that fiasco because it was gone so fast). No charm, no suspense - over in 15 sec, thankfully.

Pondered lay/laid for awhile - finally went with what I usually hear because, well, it fit.

The puzzle. 😜 I almost came here sooner because of the SW corner but I plodded on, even going through the alphabet forward then backwards on different words until I hit “Congratulations!” So here I am, bruised and battered, with many of the same complaints as Rex. Lots of Naticks for me. What I did get was with a combination of figuring it out and what I call “the answer coming out of the fog.” Both Lamour (way before my time) and Lasser (on late at night, quirky humor) were the latter.

So, obviously, I loved it! I finished it all by myself, didn’t I? On a Friday! And Rex said it was “Medium. Skewing slightly harder...” 🧐
Life is good.

P. S. Empathy and prayers go out to Texans and other affected by the recent storms. I’ve been in similar situations more than once - I feel your pain.

kfja 12:26 PM  

How’d you do it? Inquiring minds want to know!

old timer 12:39 PM  

Good puzzle. Reminded me of the old days, starting with all that white space and no clue how to fill it in. LAMOUR was a rare gimme, and crosses gave me FEMALE but not ALPHA at first. Guessing STREET really helped in the SE -- this is a New York puzzle, so I expect New York STREETs from time to time. Even visitors know Houston St, though I have no idea where Washington St is (unlike Boston, where it is the main drag, or San Francisco, where it is in Chinatown). I laughed at CEREALAISLE and at first had a hard time with DEMIGODDESS. Old Zeus certainly got around, didn't he?

That reference to the Julie Andrews interview was wonderful. I enjoyed every minute and am going to look for the 60 Minutes one. You don't need to search for the one I saw -- clicked on it right from this blog, and it came right up.

@LMS, I miss you!

Barbara S. 12:40 PM  

It's probably just the peculiar way my mind works, but I've always heard the echo of "a rag, a bone and a HANK of hair" in the song lyric below. It was popular around the same time as "Honeycomb," maybe a bit later, and talks about the same thing.

By Louis A. Duhig and Ruby Berry

Got a hammer, nail
And a hunk o' wood
I'll build a doll house

If you marry me the way
I think you should
I'll build a doll house...

@Nancy (10:55)
Astute remarks about Kipling. I feel that most of his poetry has sunk into oblivion with the exception of "If--".

@Whatsername (11:33)
I'm always happy when the daily selection strikes a chord with someone. Funnily enough, one of my uncles had an early Polaroid, too, and I remember being agog. And I vaguely remember that fixative stuff.

ChuckD 12:46 PM  

@Gill 11:45 - as I went thru your comment I misread it for “they asked me if I had sex 6 times in the last week”. That would have been an interesting response.

newbie 12:53 PM  

Ditto Nancy’s first.

Happy belated birthday, ocean. Happy unbirthday to everyone else.

Lewis, you are so right. Reminds me of the days (years) when I didn’t do crosswords because I could never make any sense of them - there are still some like that. I took consolation in something I read somewhere - that being good at solving crosswords only means that you are good at solving crosswords. Which is kind of true. To some extent. That’s why you can learn how to solve them. Patience and perseverance gets me through.

Now I take pleasure in remembering solving some with my mom - maybe that’s how Lamour came out of the fog.

I find the LOLcats thing distasteful - cats are so above all that nonsense. So much more regal. Demigoddesses and demigods, every one.
I’ve lived with many cats and each of them spoke perfect English. LOLspeak, indeed! (Turns, walks slowly away, ignoring lowly humans for the rest of the day - or at least until dinnertime.)

jberg 12:54 PM  

I read about half the comments, but see I have a meeting in 10 minutes. DNF on this one. I knew LAAMOUR all right, even though I've never seen a Road movie, but no ideal about HEIDI, BENES, or that Helen was a DEMIGODDESS. (Should have known that, though) I tried CEREAL brand, but BADU saved me from that. But when wEed didn't work with any crosses, I gave up and looked up HEIDI on the Internet. Boohoo.

Also - though I fixed this one myself -- I figured the two pieces of currency should be in the same style, so I went with onE and Two. I think MANIPEDI clued me in there.

OK, I'm off.

chefwen 12:55 PM  

I was gliding rather nicely, unlike my usual Friday solve and like many others here, came to a screeching halt in the SE. didn’t remember
BADU, now I recognize her from previous puzzles. Didn’t know HEIDI or STYLE GUIDES. Weed before HERB. My go to guy on anything baseball let me down and I ended up Googling ONEIL. Oh yeah, I burned a BRA before a LOG, well at least that error made me LOL.

jberg 12:56 PM  

Almost forgot - here's Kipling on a rag, a bone, and a HANK of hair:

"The Vampire".

jb129 1:04 PM  

"Way of Life" 53 across - Cereal Aisle - was beautiful. I wish I'd of gotten it!

Thank you Lewis for your beautiful comment.

Frantic Sloth 1:05 PM  

@GILL 1145am You ist so funny! And not for nothin', but personally I'd rather you be the sneezer instead of the sneezee. Just sayin'.

@ChuckD 1246pm 🀣 🀣 Good read!

Z 1:16 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - So, you didn’t love it? - Hmmmm.... There’s a lot to like but the PPP needs more balance. It’s not even all that high (28%) but it skews old (still better than skewing dead). I’ve done Rafkin puzzles at other sites and I don’t remember the PPP feeling this dated, which made me wonder if Shortz edited this to make it older, if constructors dowse their puzzles in lemon juice and bake them in the oven before submitting them to Shortz, or if this is just an outlier for Rafkin (or maybe they’ve all been rife with dated PPP and I just didn’t noticed). And look at HANKS. Here is a good chance for current PPP (how much more current can you get than inauguration day 2021?) and instead we get a usage that evokes Rudyard Kipling and 65 year-old pop music.
As to, “hadn’t did”... just make sure you use it correctly with lie lay. My usage there almost calls for a comma splice.

@kenji - Your story sounds like a classic meet-cute. The movie would star Anne Hathaway and Ryan Reynolds.

Speaking of meet-cutes - @kitshef - “Get lied, get laid” is the Basic Instinct version.

@Gill I - You were in a room? What kind of uncivilized place do you live in? When I had one I had to make a teleconference appointment, spoke first to a nurse than a doctor (they make doctors so young these days) to determine I had enough symptoms to merit a test. Then I had to go through their make shift drive through behind the clinic. I was 10th in line when I arrived, there were still 10 cars in line when I left. My negative result was emailed to me in ~36 hours (negatives got emails, positives got calls). I still don’t know what I had or how I could catch anything, but it was basically gone before I had my results.

@oceanjeremy - I see you comment from your phone. Can you do everyone who doesn’t comment from their phone a favor and use the @convention so we know what you are replying to?

Nancy 1:16 PM  

Yes, @old timer, that Julie Andrews interview did come right up. The first time the arrow wasn't showing.

Interesting interview. I didn't realize what a difficult and often sad life she's had. She always radiates such joy. And, Barbara, from the interview, I think you're right that she didn't actually sleep with James Garner. Wonder if she had the opportunity or whether he's an entirely faithful husband -- to go along with his other outstanding virtues. If she had the opportunity while going through her own divorce, though, and didn't, I'd say she's plumb crazy :)

@GILL -- Very funny Covid testing story, if that's not an oxymoron. Wonderful that you tested negative!

BVTUCK 1:19 PM  


Inquiring Minds... 1:31 PM  

Now that MLB has deigned to recognize the Negro Leagues and their records, is Buck O'Neil still the first black MLB manager? Discuss.

Masked and Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Had some trouble breakin in, up there in the NW. Possibly becuz the entries were an 11-stack. Did timidly splatz in AMTS at 5-D, before fleein to the NE's weeject stack, where 12-A -- with it's Australian clue -- just about had to be EMU. Things got friendlier, solvequest-wise, after that. Ended up evenin out to an avg. amt. of feistiness.

Lotsa fillins that U don't see a whole lot. Different … Like. Some noteworthy samplins: LAY(d)LOW. ALPHAFEMALE. DEMIGODDESS. CEREALAISLE. FRACAS. EMERILIVE [almost anagram of EVILOMEN? maybe not]. AWKWARDAGE. MANIPEDI. And, savin the best for last: ANTVENOM.

Objectionable word, to some of us, tho: BAD U.
staff weeject: LOL-speak.

Thanx for the themeless fun, Ms. Rafkin darlin.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


TwoFlech 1:45 PM  

Easy for us. Fun to do!

Joe Dipinto 1:46 PM  

@Teedmn 8:10 – the Wikipedia entry doesn't mention this as far as I can see, but "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" didn't air in prime time, it followed the 11:00 pm news, competing with "The Tonight Show" and whatever else was on late-night back then. Maybe that's why you missed it.

TwoFlech 1:47 PM  

Easy for us. Fun to do!

burtonkd 1:51 PM  

@Ben - I started with ILLREGRETIT, and I did!

TwoFlech 1:57 PM  

Easy for us. Fun to do!

kitshef 2:03 PM  

@Anonymous Inquiring Minds - MLB has not determined which Negro Leagues will be accorded Major League status yet -- so for now, it's still officially Buck.

Mr. Alarm 2:04 PM  

Yes, HM, as a relative novice to NYT XPs (i.e., Crossword Puzzles) myself, I concur with your experience.

But let’s not forget what a weird trip our crossword solving diversion is: a cryptic/cult-like initiation (of one’s own undertaking) is needed to ascend (descend?) into our modern day crossword puzzle ‘experience’. From “?” clues, to clues that should have ”?”s, to all kinds of its obscure/arcane minutiae reference clues, and multitudes of shorthand, that are not innately understood, but come to be understood as one “learns” the jargon/code. It’s not unlike the insular “language” of CB Radio enthusiasts in the 70’s (“you don’t copy CB at hardly, do ya”?).

I just wanted to acknowledge the obvious but quickly forgotten: that our contemporary - or maybe it’s always been this weird subculture for all I know - puzzle fixation of splintered bits of useless trivia we enjoy “solving” each day, is really also sort of weird subculture.

My first lesson in indoctrination: The answers don’t become harder to solve with each passing day, the clues just get more ridiculous.

TwoFlech 2:06 PM  

Like the alpha female clue.

ChuckD 2:27 PM  

@Joe DiPinto 1:46 - you’re right on. At least in NY it was on channel 5 at 11:00pm - followed by reruns of Love, American Style at 11:30. I wasn’t a huge fan but did like Martin Mull’s character who got killed by a Christmas tree. He comes back in Fernwood 2 Nite which was the spin off.

Anoa Bob 2:33 PM  

Yikes! All these years listening to Jimi Hendrix and now I learn that I've been mishearing one of his lyrics from "All Along The Watchtower". I always thought it was

Businessman there, drink my wine,
Come and dig my HERB

I always thought that was cool, a counter-culture icon offering to share his wine and "Ganja" with a mainstream establishment stalwart, kind of a hands-across-the-border gesture, when, in fact, that second line is

Plowman dig my earth

I like my mondegreen version better.

I own and have used one for years and have never heard LATHE used as a verb (29D). I would say that I "turned" something on my LATHE. People who use a wood LATHE are called woodturners. There's even an organization called The American Association of Woodturners (AAW).

That "WKW" of AWKWARD has to be one of the more unusual letter sequences in English, no? I think fitting that into a grid could prove to be, well, AWKWARD.

Matt 2:35 PM  

I got stalled immediately in the NW corner when both 19 across ("Protrusions near a trunk") and 4 down ("Hair pieces"), which cross on their fourth letter, could both be plausibly answered ROOTS (and neither was) and I COULD. NOT. GET. THEM. OUT. OF. MY. MIND.

Not sure if that was intentional by the Constructor, but if it was: Major Style Points.

Also had to make a blind guess on the B in BADU and BENES because...confession time...I have never seen an episode of Seinfeld. (I guessed right relatively randomly because of Andy Benes, the former pitcher for the San Diego Pardres, being in my brain as a reasonable name than ended with ENES.)

I eventually broke the puzzle out because I knew LAMOUR and LASSER; proper nouns taketh away, proper nouns taketh.

Matt 2:38 PM  

Ben and Nancy --

I had a similar problem with "Popular orders at beachside bars" when my brain decided FOURMIMOSAS was correct because that's the last thing I had a a beachside bar.

EdFromHackensack 2:39 PM  

Newbie said "being good at solving crosswords only means that you are good at solving crosswords”. Fair enough, but when I look at my friends, family and acquaintances that solve crossword puzzles they tend to skew towards the more intelligent, literate people I know. So, there’s that

GILL I. 2:44 PM  

@ChuckD....11:45. If I had had sex 6 times in the last week, I'd now be dead...maybe happily ?
@Frantic....If ever we meet up and go to a restaurant for some bodacious grubs, we'd probably be tossed out for laughing too loudly.
@Z....I know...I wanted to drive up to a window romp but I'm having surgery next week and my doctor told me where to go. It might as well have been to hell.

Unknown 2:45 PM  

A crunchy Friday with lots of fun stuff, marred by a lot of proper names in the bottom half.

I'm going to vote for the 3-limit post limit, as in the old days . . . .
Would love to open this blog up to more new voices, as we hear the same folks multiple times every day . . . .
Hey, we're all about diversity, right?
And if you haven't said it in your first three posts, it's probably not worth saying . . .

SFR 2:49 PM  

Brer Fox he lay low

sanfranman59 3:04 PM  

Medium NYT Friday ... 1% above my 6-month median solve time

This seems like a just about perfect Friday puzzle to me. It's right down the middle (overall) in terms of difficulty, lots of fresh cluing that made me use my brain, some delightful answers and decidedly different than the middle-aged white guy feel of the typical NYT crossword (and, by the way, I'm a middle-aged white guy). Bravo!

I think there's only one advertisement (NESTLE {25D: Parent company of Gerber and Lean Cuisine}) and that's overwhelmed by plenty of lovely clue-answer combinations. I'm particularly partial to being reminded of one of my favorite TV programs ever by LASSER {10D: Louise of TV's "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman"}. I have very fond memories of watching that show with my father when I was a senior in high school. And I was also reminded of my mother by AWKWARD AGE {28D: 13, for many}. She once told me that she always loved me dearly, but she sure didn't like me very much when I was 13.

My only nit is that the solve was a tad uneven for me. I found the SE considerably thornier than the rest of the puzzle, but looking back at it now, I'm not sure if that's a totally legit criticism. That section is awfully PPP-laden, but half of them were fill-in-the-blank gimmes for me and there's enough variety that I think it's reasonably fair. DEMI-GODDESS {56A: Helen of Troy, e.g.}, HEIDI {47D: Gardner of "S.N.L."} and TOO {42A: ___ Short, pioneer in West Coast hip-hop} were my whiffs. On the other hand, O'NEIL {46D: Buck ___, Major League Baseball's first Black coach} (no one tells a baseball story better than this charming man), BADU {51D: R&B singer Erykah} and BENES {51A: Pal of Seinfeld and Costanza} were no-brainers. Plus, OR ELSE {43D: Threatening words} went right in and HERB {47A: Ganja} was easy once I ruled out 'wEed'.

Two thumbs up or three, if I can borrow one of yours.

Thane of 13th 3:11 PM  


Thane of 13th 3:15 PM  

So you don’t know tenses nor the meaning of euphemism.

stephanie 3:19 PM  

lathed didn't bother me but "lay low" really did. i thought "lay low" must be the answer early on but i refused to put it in because it didn't make sense to me. he laid low while the cops were looking for him, etc. it's a bad clue, imho.

Frantic Sloth 3:34 PM  

***Not-Worth-Saying Alert***

Well, since we've all been allowed a vote, I cast mine for leaving the rules up to Rex and the Mods.
Also inviting anyone who wants to join us to come on in - we're a friendly bunch and the more the merrier! In the meantime, feel free to skip anything you don't want to read. There is no exam at the end of the day.

@Z 116pm "My usage there almost calls for a comma splice." Almost. But, I'm so glad it didn't. Your point about the PPP is valid, of course, but my impression (admittedly without much scrutiny) was that it was historically and culturally more diverse than usual. Don't be shocked when I say I might be wrong, though.

@Anoa Bob 233pm I agree your mondegreen version is better. And more apt. πŸ‘

@GILL 244pm I know, right? I hate people like us when dining out. 🀣
And surgery?? What day so we can send positive vibes? No need to overshare or anything, but I hope it's not too serious. 🀞

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

Fair enough, but when I look at my friends, family and acquaintances that solve crossword puzzles they tend to skew towards the more intelligent, literate people I know.

I went to the Classical High School in my city, back when there were four public high schools: Trade (which taught what you think it does), Commerce (ditto, kinda; back then it meant steno, so boys who went there were held in suspicion), Tech (which, not intentionally, was only a smidge above Trade in rigour), and Classical, which had become the de facto college prep school (Tech had been supposed to be as well, but...). One of my teachers made the point that gathering general knowledge early and often was key to a civil and equitable society.

The tough part: being Jeopardy! smart isn't necessarily Smart, but it's easy to measure knowledge of facts, so that's what Standardized Tests do. Moreover, grading long form prose, aka essays, leads to cries of "Bias!!!" if the prose isn't King's English and such. But, as a general proposition, the deeper a Liberal Education the greater depth of critical thinking. That's the main reason there are Blue Cities/States and Red Empty Counties. One set values education, the other denigrates it.

Will the Texans be made to pay the rest of us back for bailing their asses out yet again? Likely not since Democrats are pussies. They were told how to keep such an event from happening, as had occurred in 1989 and 2011, but they're way smarter than the engineers who understand such stuff.

Joe Dipinto 3:36 PM  

@ChuckD – did MHMH really come on at 11:00 in NYC? I was thinking it was 11:30. I do remember "Love American Style" reruns being on after it. I wasn't overly crazy about MHMH either but it had amusing moments, like that Christmas tree mishap. Mostly I remember that she was always making more coffee.

Thane of 13th 3:37 PM  

Haven’t read all the explanations closely, but It seems not everyone knows TWO verbs are being discussed here: lay (laid, laid) and lie (lay, lain). I won’t get into the transitive, intransitive, direct and indirect uses: look them up in your Funk and Wagnalls!

CS 3:40 PM  

Late in the day but I have to pipe up and say that this was so not fun for me :-( and ended in a DNF. I of course expect Fridays to be a challenge, but I do not agree that things were guessable - way too many obscure names and Naticks. I can see I am in the minority but, well, I have to go shovel some snow :-)

stephanie 3:47 PM  

yes but the clues like consistency. and the only ones that really go by their last names on the show (somewhat notoriously) is of course, kramer...and newman! jerry and george are both called by their first names, but we may be more familiar with their last names in the frame of the show because we see their parents pretty regularly - mr. & mrs. seinfeld, mr. & mrs. costanza. still, we do hear elaine's last name with some frequency and there was even a whole plot in "the wizard" episode where elaine and her new boyfriend both think they're in an interracial relationship...but it turns out they're just two white people dating. when they finally figure it out, he says he thought she was hispanic - "your name's benes!" he says incredulously.

(george had his own last name plotline in "the chicken roaster" where he says "co-STAN-za!" like "by mennen," the old commercial jingle for men's something or other, i think it was shampoo or deodorant.)

Tale Told By An Idiot 4:04 PM  

@Nancy 10:24. Another song to dance to: “Lord of the Dance” as sung by John Langstaff. It is not quite as fast as some other versions and I find it a good work out. I don’t know how to embed in comments and I’m not sure I could do it now anyway. We in Salem OR had a horrible ice storm a week ago and although I have power back finally (unlike many people) I don’t have WiFi or cable so internet is really spotty.
But I have enjoyed reading all of you again once my power was restored and I learned to use my phone as a hotspot.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

As a KC resident, I was glad to see Buck O’Neil in the puzzle. He’s worth reading up on if you’re not familiar with him.

stephanie 4:15 PM  

got bahama mamas right off the bat which was random since i don't even know what's in them and have never drank one, and pina coladas would have fit just as well. so thanks for that, brain. was really pleasantly surprised by the tusks reveal (i just love those clues that give you a little smile and an "oh! huh :)" kind of reaction) - i had had roots there originally. never going to recall these older people's names, i can barely do current ones, lamour/lasser needed google for double checking. love seinfeld and erykah badu though so that was a nice gift.

really jacked up the middle for awhile, i so wanted "unlucky" to go with the 13 clue, and had "use a map" for the park ranger clue even though it didn't really fit. could not for the life of me remember the "live" part of emeril live even though i remember watching that with my mom when i was younger! and love cooking shows in general. facepalm at the final realization that took entirely too long. did not like lay low and had oil in the wells, so really a bit of a mess. thank you for the "vowels" explanation, satisfying although i think those clues are kind of cheap and lazy, personally.

loved lewis' description & encouragement on the evolution of crossword solving - like others i had/am having the same experience. thursdays i wouldn't even go near, saturday seemed impossible. sunday, maybe half, friday, a crapshoot. now although saturdays are still really hard for me and i can't solve without help from google (looking up educated guesses, not simply googling crossword answer sites, and usually learning something along the way!) and/or the "check puzzle" feature, that i can finish at all is awesome, and it doesn't feel like a chore. (most of the time ;)) sunday i now look forward to the most. thursdays i now can finish which i thought would never happen, even though the funky squares still often perplex me. anyway, i've come a long way from the little free boston metro crosswords, and later new york magazine, and that's pretty cool. (i especially like to do crosswords during the jeopardy commercial breaks - each has helped me improve with the other .)

oisk17 4:31 PM  

Got here to late to be the first to quote Kipling's "Vampire," but was delighted NOT to encounter comments about his misogynism! Surely anyone who has loved and lost can relate to "The fool was stripped to his foolish hide..." We read that poem in junior high.

Likes this puzzle. For me the best are those that I stare blankly at, see Erykah, and Gardner of SNL, and ___Short hip hop, and tamagothchi, and don't even want to begin. Began with "ant venom." Knew that from entomology! Yes Maam, which ran to Lamour , and I was enthused, diverted, and sped through... Glad that I knew that Elaine was Benes, although I thought Eiges at first. Why? I knew a girl named Elaine Eiges in college! ( I was interested, but she was already taken....)

newbie 4:50 PM  

The time really helps if you’re trying to find a post. And the name. This not being Twitter, the @ with the name doesn’t help at all, so not really necessary imho; but what do I know.

I tend to leave them both off, mostly because I’m typing on a new device which makes putting certain extras in, well, extra - an added step or two.

A couple of people sound as if they got up on the wrong side of the bed. Don’t think having the same people posting more than three times cuts out or discourages new people - but criticism or referring to unknown rules probably does. Can be kind of a buzz kill on what is mostly a very congenial day. I thought only Rex could be our (lovable) curmudgeon.

*. *. *

Deep breath and reread Lewis’ post, whenever that was - I’ll look it up later. It was beautiful.

*. *. *

In other news, Ed @2:39 pm - I completely agree. That quote just consoled me in my younger years when I was too impatient/busy and didn’t know that I could learn some things that could help me solve them. Giving myself permission to look up what I didn’t know was one big step for me, then the internet happened and, best of all, I found Rex - and eventually, all of you.

How ‘bout them LOLcats! πŸ™€πŸ˜»πŸŒˆπŸ˜Έ πŸ˜‚

Z 5:11 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - historically and culturally more diverse than usual. Definitely more balanced regarding gender, and it does include different areas of interest, but change the HEIDI clue and this could have been run in 1999.

Are we still discussing lay lie? ”There must be some kind of way out of here,” Said the joker to the thief, "There's too much confusion I can't get no relief. Businessmen, they drink my wine, Plowmen dig my earth, None of them along the line, Know what any of it is worth.”

sanfranman59 5:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joaquin 5:45 PM  

@Anonymous (4:12) said...
As a KC resident, I was glad to see Buck O’Neil in the puzzle. He’s worth reading up on if you’re not familiar with him.

Note that 47D - HEIDI Gardner - is also from KC.

I had the honor of being seated next to Buck at a dinner about 20 years ago. What a treat! Heidi, OTOH, I've never even seen on tv.

sanfranman59 6:07 PM  

@Lewis (7:01am) ... Very well put. I couldn't possibly have described my own crossword history as well as you did. You truly have a gift for putting words together. I hope you put that talent to good use in venues other than this one.

@GILL I (11:45am) ... As per usual, your post brought many smiles to my face, particularly the good news of the results of your COVID test. I'm sorry that the experience was less than optimal, but delighted to learn that whatever led you to be tested was a false alarm. Be well.


Erratum ... Now that I've read the rest of the message board, I know the reason that @GILL I was tested and that it wasn't a false alarm. I hope all goes well with your surgery next week. Please know that I'm sending positive thoughts your way.

Zeke 6:34 PM  

@anon-3:35- Hear ya. They want to bail out the Gender Studies major from Bard or the Feminist Dance Theory major from Oberlin who took on tens of thousands of student debt, all the while taking Spring Break in Cancun. Ted Cruz is gross. These people are exponentially worse.

pabloinnh 6:38 PM  

Late to the party because of my eight-week eyeball injection this AM, and it takes about this long for a screen to be legible again.

Liked the puzzle OK, but the SE was a mess, especially if you put in STRESS for OBSESS. If you don't believe me, try it. For the rest of it, what everyone else said.

Mostly just checked in to make sure GILL I got good results, which she did, so a big enhorabuena there.

Covid shot #1 tomorrow. Looking forward to a shot in the arm.

GILL I. 7:06 PM  

@sanfranman 6:07.... What a sweet post...Thank you. I'm just having a little exploratory crud done - nothing major but I'm going to be put out because I'm scared of pain and I don't want to scream bloody murder on any hospital bed. Nurses don't always like me because I moan and groan a lot. :-). I'm still around to bug everyone until Monday....

Chad from Oberlin 7:42 PM  

@Zeke: It’s all good. The moron Trump voters in the red states who went to Trade Schools will pay the bills. Suckers !

Tom T 8:07 PM  

Simply could not untangle the SE--my Seinfeld/rap/R&B/SNL limitations undid my modest streak.

Teedmn 8:47 PM  

@Whatsername, @Barbara S, my Dad was an early adopter, and he took my first communion photo (1967) with his Polaroid. I can still bring back the smell of that fixative. And the photo quality reminds me of those taken during the Civil War. Those cameras were certainly a gimmick!

Whatsername 9:20 PM  

@GILL: Moan and groan all you want and hurry back. Lots of prayers and good thoughts coming your way.

@Teedmn: The smell! Oh my. I had forgotten about that part.

bocamp 9:33 PM  

@Gill I.

Thoughts and prayers are with you. πŸ™

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Dave S 10:01 PM  

Had "roots" as "protrusions near a trunk" for far too long which screwed up the whole NE for me. When I finally got it it was my favorite clue. Nice tough but fair puzzle.

JBB94956 12:07 AM  

Thanks for the hope, encouragement, and advice.

Bob Mills 8:59 AM  

The SE was a killer. BADU? TOO? BENES? Popular culture rules here.

Barbara 7:37 PM  

What does PPP stand for in crossword-ese?

Z 7:50 PM  

@Barbara - Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. Those are typically about 25% of the puzzle. When they hit 33% or more they give some group of solvers problems.

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