Noted speaker of more than 20 languages / FRI 2-12-21 / Beast vanquished by Oedipus / Company whose most famous product once claimed it does what Nintendon't

Friday, February 12, 2021

Constructor: Grant Thackray

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TORTONI (61A: Italian dessert topped with crumbled macaroons) —
ice cream made of heavy cream often with minced almonds and chopped maraschino cherries and often flavored with rum (
• • •

Started badly and ended badly and wasn't that great in between. Thinks it's much cuter than it is, tries to be slangy but just sounds dated, and tries to cover up mediocrity with some "XXX" dazzle camouflage. There wasn't one point at which I was enjoying myself. OH, TO have a good Friday puzzle again! I need light, bouncy, playful—full of crackle and originality, and spot-on with the cluing. This was nowhere near the mark. Lost me at 1-Across, to be honest (1A: Star Bucks, say?). Good example of someone being so enamored of their wordplay clue that they don't care whether it's a very *good* clue or not. I get it, Starbucks is a company, so "Star Bucks," very clever. But even knowing it was going to be basketball-related, that pile-up of initials was still hard to get because two Bucks can't be MVP at the same time. You would never "say" anything about "Star Bucks" who were NBAMVPS. Or, rather, since there have only ever been two (early-'70s Kareem and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo), "Star Bucks" (meaning NBAMVPS) could only ever refer to them. That's it. It's those two. So, the casual "say" in the clue, ugh. It's so misleading. "Say" implies it might be any number of Bucks, as opposed to two and only two, the minimum number it takes to make a plural. NBAMVPS isn't a terrible delightful 1-Across to begin with, and then we get a clue that has a pretty tortured relationship to accuracy. All because someone thought "Star Bucks" was a good pun. And then to have that answer cross a word that can be a racial slur at 1-Down ... well, I was pretty much out at that point. Would've stopped, but I've got a job to do, so ...

And the ending, blargh. Imagine capping off your solve by having to change ONE EURO to THE (!?!?!) EURO (25D: It's usually around 9/10 pound). Your clue is dealing in numbers ("9/10") so I just assumed you would stay in the realm of numbers, but no ... a definite article instead. Unlikeable! I like ED ASNER as an actor, but he's exceedingly crossword-common, and that whole SE corner, for various reasons, just doesn't cut it. Including RSVPED after you've already subjected me to NBAMVPS just feels bludgeony. I have no idea which IVAN did anything, frankly, so I had to infer the Roman numeral "I" (40A: Russian prince nicknamed "Moneybag"). Had trouble with the cross (37D: Dreaded fate for a samurai) because I figured that "samurai" meant I was in for something samurai-specific, something Japanese, a particular concept ... but no, just plain old English DISHONOR. Kind of ironic that MANSPLAIN appears in a puzzle that includes no women in the grid and only* Gal Gadot in the clues (she's the ISRAELI). This is a puzzle that wants you to believe it's against dudes talking condescendingly to women, but the actual nuts and bolts of the puzzle belie the t-shirt feminism of MANSPLAIN. Less showing that you know the terminology of anti-sexism, more actually being anti-sexist, please and thanks. IT'S A BOY, indeed.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*do not @ me about the Lewis Carroll character, please

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:22 AM  

Maybe @Rex didn't care but I suspect he didn't notice that the constructor included his own name in the puzzle. Check out the last five letters of 23D and then turn east. Pretty clever, I thought. I liked the rest of the puzzle, too.

jae 12:40 AM  

Medium-tough. I had several missteps (e.g. not being sure of how to spell AMMONIA) which led to a bit of floundering, hence the tough part.

Liked it more than @Rex did, there were some fun long downs.

Every once in a while you get a chance to brag about something you had almost nothing to do with. The kid smirking for the camera in my blog pic is my grandson. He just found out he is officially the senior class valedictorian, #1 out of 610 students with the highest GPA in the school’s history. We are beyond proud.

Frantic Sloth 12:46 AM  

Well, I guess I enjoyed the challenge, but...



The puns/jokes/misdirects didn't entertain me much either. As far as Fridees go, this one is still on the JV squad.


Marc M. 1:21 AM  

Anytime I labor on a puzzle and come here to find Rex calling it Easy or medium, it brings me down a bit. Zipped through this and was delighted that Rex had it Challenging! NBA MVPS was hardest clue for me as well bc I assumed Eagles org was MSL (not that I know of any teams called Eagles in the MSL, most seem to have a Euro sounding designation), but that didn't mesh with NIP, and just running the alphabet got NBA pretty quick. Was this MANSPLAINing? I thought it was PEACHY KEEN overall

JOHN X 1:25 AM  

Let's sort this MANSPLAIN issue out right here and right now.

If JOHN X gives you a detailed explanation of something (either how or why or whatever) it is a privilege for you, and I am trying to help. I'm sharing a slice of my vast knowledge and I rarely if ever give said explanation unless I'm asked to. I speak cogently, succinctly, thoroughly, and respectfully. I expect the same respect in return. If I don't know the answer I say that I don't know. If I do explain something, I do it the same for both men and women.

HOWEVER, there is a small segment of the population (ex MRS JOHN X chief among them) who are so intellectually insecure that they take every explanation as being "talked down to." That's exactly where this "MANSPLAINING" crap comes from, insecurity.

If JOHN X ever gives you a clear and thorough and correct explanation of an issue at hand, that you requested help with, and you turn around and accuse JOHN X of "MANSPLAINING," well that's the last bit of help you'll ever get from me, and I don't care if you're about to drive off a cliff.

Did I just MANSPLAIN this to you? Ha ha too bad, I'm absolutely correct.

- - - - - - - - - -

Lynda Carter > Gal Gadot

I once had both Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot in my hot tub together with me. Lynda never accused me of mansplaining, while Gal did it every five minutes. I almost had to kick her out.

Thomas 2:43 AM  

Too easy.

LBintheBK 4:04 AM  

What was 17-Across all about? Didn't make sense to me.

LBintheBK 4:06 AM  

??? Can't tell if this was a parody of itself or not

Christophe L Verlinde 4:17 AM  

HARAKIRI instead of DISHONOR did me in. At least harakiri is Japanese.
Never heard of Gal Gadot.

Conrad 5:42 AM  

@jae: Congrats to your grandson! That's quite an accomplishment!!

Got really bogged down at first in one spot in particular: the whole puzzle. It was a sea of white squares with little islets of "maybe". Then I got to the gimme at 39D* and the rest fell into place.

* Which, of course, I've only heard about.

Anonymous 5:47 AM  

Tell us how you REALLY feel, Rex! (But I agree, not a fun Friday puzzle, though not a hard one either, about average time.)

Anonymous 6:30 AM  

-So NIP is OK in the eyes of the NYT XWord staff, but not CHINK? That one I do not get at all.
-Is XXXRATED, RATEDX still a thing? Are those terms will a thing?
-The "gimmick" involving 48A, 49A, and 50A- has been done before better and done WITHOUT HAVING TO CALL ATTENTION TO ITSELF.

S.A. Nivens 6:41 AM  


Is there anyone Ed Asner did not play? Or give voice to?

Lewis 6:44 AM  

Well, yes, Grant has a sense of humor, hiding his name in the puzzle (as he points out in his notes) like Hirschfeld hid his daughter Nina’s name in his drawings. But what I come away from this puzzle is his talent for cluing.

Usually I see what I consider two or three sterling clues in an excellent Friday or Saturday grid. Today I marked seven, then I looked them up to see if they were repeats of or close to prior clues for their answers, and no, not a single one was.

He is gifted to be able to do this, and we who love guile and wordplay are gifted as well by his fruits. You bet I’m looking forward to your next one, Grant, and thank you for this one!

bocamp 6:48 AM  

Thx, @Grant for a very enjoyable Fri. puz; tons of good stuff in this one! :)

Easy+ solve. Very much on my wave length.

Got the NW quickly with the exception of the mv in "NBAMVP"; moved thru the rest steadily, without any hitches until 25A, which had to be come from the downs.

Ludwig van Beethoven: "Ode" an die Freude/"Ode" to Joy

yd pg -3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

albatross shell 7:00 AM  

Of course you can't. That's JOHN X. Do I have to normal-personsplain to you? Can't be done. Sorry.

ChuckD 7:02 AM  

Rex getting a little pushback from this one and automatically plays the card - rough stuff. Not the greatest Friday - I agree with the abbreviations - but there were a lot of good clues here. Liked PIE HOLE x PEACHY KEEN and DO THE MATH. DERBY HATS and WATCH CHAIN gave it an old timey feel - I don’t like MANSPLAIN.

@LBinheBK 4:04 - think art style or movement. A school is made up of artists who follow the same teacher and have common styles.

Not my favorite Friday - but a decent solve.

OffTheGrid 7:04 AM  

Not as bad as @rex describes it but the west was a slog. It got more interesting on the east side but never really sparkled for me. There seemed to be a balance between clever and drek. And wasn't IVANI one of Trump's wives? or a daughter? or XXX star or something?

Todd 7:14 AM  

I guess it was in my wheelhouse. Close to a personal best. As to 17across. Painters are often associated with a school. Though it refers to a movement or style, not an actually school. The Hudson River School of landscape painters would be an example.

oceanjeremy 7:32 AM  

Well, that impressed me! Made me like the puzzle a lot more, too.

Andrea 7:32 AM  

Well, this explains the ex in Mrs...

Snoble 7:33 AM  

Getting stuck a bit in the NW was a good reminder to me of basic XWord rules—nickname clue requires nickname answer ( Chevy/VETTE); tense always agrees and “let” can be past and present.
Thanks @joaquin and @Lewis—no way would I have noticed the constructor’s hidden name.
I spent a lovely afternoon at the Hirschfeld Gallery in NYC—it’s a treasure.

oceanjeremy 7:45 AM  

School of art. Most famous painters are considered parts of a school of art.

Claude Monet, Impressionists.
Edvard Munch, Expressionists.
Pablo Picasso, Cubists.
Salvador Dali, Surrealists.
Etc, etc.

Small Town Blogger 7:46 AM  

Painters (artists) are often categorized in schools, as in the “ Hudson Valley School”

AlexJ 7:51 AM  

I’ve heard of tartufo so I spelled the dessert tArtini with mAe crossing. Seemed good to me and I never caught that mistake. Otherwise easy.

GILL I. 7:57 AM  

Well, yeah.....This had a bit of the "looky me" vibe to it.
I'll start with PIE HOLE. I always thought it was of the shut your mouth variety. I also thought it meant another thing but I'm too polite to mention that one. Then I'll move on to EPISODIC which sounds like a little seizure. I'll move on over to MANSPLAIN. While I can't top our friend @JOHN X, It will always remind me of manspreading. You know, when handsome men enjoy taking up three seats in the metro by showing everyone their assets.
OK so I pretty much solved most of this except NBA MVPS. I waited until the end. I wasn't sure if I was going to use @Nancy"s wall. I knew BSA and VETTE so I had the B and V. Then I stared. Oh, a little of this and a little of that appeared. I only got ISRAELI for that Gadot Gal because I got EL AL. Smart me! So I finished without Google.
What was my favorite? PEACHY KEEN. I say that all the time.

@jae...Brag all you want...and loud! Of course you're proud...I'd be singing his praises all day long. Isn't it wonderful to be a grandparent to a smarty...... Tell him "enhorabuena" from me!

mmorgan 8:04 AM  

Out of my wheelhouse, and tough for me, so a satisfying solve. Liked it for that reason!

Old white guy 8:13 AM  

Didn’t like it. Not at all.

Okoume 8:15 AM  

That is an amazing accomplishment! Congratulations to him! πŸ‘

pabloinnh 8:15 AM  

Liked it more than.....oh, never mind.

!A certainly seems to have made OFL extra grumpy this morning. Instead of cursing the clue and the constructor, when I don't get !A at first glance I look around for another place to start, an approach I'd recommend. My day goes on without ruination after that.

Besides, here was old friend ORT, who has been in the answer protection program, I guess. Nice to see you ORT. Still looking for your friend ADIT though.

Brand new to me was PERIDOT and I really don't remember LEETIDE either, hooray for crosses. I have somehow missed the OEDIPUS/SPHINX encounter too, so this was a good day for learning stuff. Most of the misdirects resulted in, uh, OK's and not AHA'S!, but they were sort of fun, which is fine with me.

All in all a Friday with some pushback whose completion leads to satisfaction, for which thanks, GT. Aces with me.

Hungry Mother 8:16 AM  

Not so bad, except for the rapper crossing the Italian dessert, a slap in the face to solvers who don’t prefer trivia. C’mon!

Barbara S. 8:20 AM  

I don’t have much to say about this one. It seemed workmanlike (befitting its male-dominant content). I sadly had “vinegar” in place of AMMONIA for a while, which occluded the SW corner. TORTONI is delicious, though, so I was happy to see it when I finally got there. Liked the art answers, SCHOOL and PATINA. The nineteenth-century feel of WATCH CHAIN, DERBY HATS and EMPORIA made me smile. COSSETS and DOTE just needed the oft-seen “ADORE” to complete a trio of sorts. “OH TO be in England/Now that April’s there…” Well, I hate to break it to you, but April’s nowhere and it’s bloody freezing!

I give you JUDY BLUME, born Feb. 12, 1938.

“I want you to know it was no big deal...those movies showing women screaming in labor are plain bullshit....there's nothing to just push and push and finally the baby pops tell you the truth I don't even remember that much about it except there was a very nice guy standing over me and every time a strong contraction started he gave me a whiff of gas...”
(From “Forever...”)

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

@JOHN X: I think you pretty much summed up MANSPLAINING. By embodying it. Didn't really find it to be much of a privilege.

@ANDREA: Exactly.

OffTheGrid 8:24 AM  

@LBintheBK. Welcome to Friday where one must often stretch the noggin to see different connotations for words that usually have more common meanings. See Todd 7:14.

TJS 8:32 AM  

Hated this but finished it. Okay it was kinda hard, which is good, but for all the wrong reasons. Rex pretty much listed everything that aggravated me, so atleast he and I are on the same wave length for a change. And then @John X comes along and brightens my day. How can anyone write so coherently at 1:25 in the morning?

Unknown 8:39 AM  

Wait, Rex doesn't like NIP because it has been used in the past as a pejorative term?
And you wonder why Trump was able to grow such a strong following.
I'm all for being progressive and woke, but at some point the virtue signalling gets a
little comical. Or stupid.

Jeff G 8:42 AM  

Great catch!

JeffE 8:45 AM  

Rex, do you even like Crosswords?

Carola 8:45 AM  

An engaging puzzle - just tough enough and with so many terrific answers, from PIEHOLE to PERIDOT and EMPORIA to AMMONIA and VAGRANT to VETERAN. @ChuckD 7:02 - Thanks for pointing out the PEACH PIE. I smiled at the cross with ORT: if there's PIE on my plate, ne'er shall there be an ORT.

@jae - Congratulations to your grandson - and his grandpa! :)

Jcap 8:46 AM  

Guess we gotta add NIP to the list of banned words. Just wondering if that list includes NIPS, NIPPER, NIPPED and NIPPING. Also mightily concerned about NIPPLE and SNIP and their variants.

Donna J. 8:48 AM  

Puzzle was fine. Review was unnecessarily mean-spirited. THE EURO went right in and is much preferable to One Euro. Also liked the clues on PAINTER and STAIRCASE. Have a great Abe Lincoln’s birthday everyone.

Alexander 8:52 AM  

44a could be a bit of misdirection for “six” if one assumes 1 is prime, alas it’s not:

Unknown 8:57 AM  

I loved all the tricky clues. Even over used El Al was great because it was the only way i got 15A and only because elal is so crosswordy.

Mansplain and peachy keen were great. Siri had a fabulous tricky clue. BSA was so clever, and also a reminder of the best of a dying organization.

I can't list all the greats using my phone. But this is the kind of puzzle I hope for every day.

albatross shell 9:04 AM  

Bunch of fun words: PEACHYKEEN COSSETS DOTHEMATH PIEHOLE EMPORIA WATCHCHAIN XXXRATED EPISODIC (Nice continuous lilt there that perhaps contradicts the meaning?) STAIRCASE (Better if it ran NS?). Plus PERIDOT LEETIDE TORTONI which I did not know. ISRAELI IVANI are a good visual pairing that makes me like both of them. RUSE ROAN might be a good pairing to. And it is an excuse to give you my ROAN KOAN RUSE: Did you ever practice holding your palm up and quickly smacking your fingers down on your thumb palm. That actually is the sound of one hand clapping. See? Now that you are enlightened, you are as miserable as ever.

Sticking to things that have nothing to do with 1D (Gad, I've been infected by John X, funeral tonight) I was afraid the answer would be Hari Kari because it is an honorable way of dying and to be preferred over DISHONOR. Even an atonement for failure. Anyway that's my western understanding based on many Japanese movies. Now does Japan judge us by western movies? Well they both stole from the other. Hmmmm.


Over-the-top clever clues (if such a thing is possible): NBAMVPS IDEAS.
Now I need a RESPITE.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

the sum of the first three prime numbers is 9 NOT 1o

puzzlehoarder 9:21 AM  

A PEACHYKEEN Friday. I got a Saturday's worth of solving out of it. This was a big step up from the last two days of puzzles. I did them but couldn't work up the interest to comment.

The only answer I wasn't 100% sure of was BSA. I was still thinking Eagles was a sports reference. STAR BUCKS was definitely sports so no harm done. It took me awhile to notice that it wasn't a continuous word and stop thinking coffee.

I'm familiar with the term TORTONI. I couldn't tell you what it is but the word itself is common enough.

AMMONIA has two Ms. Who'd a thunk? As always the puzzles spell things correctly for me.

@jae, congrats to your grandson.

algiardello 9:24 AM  

The rant about NBAMVPS seems to stem more from dislike of sports clues than from reason. NBA MVPS could be Lakers or Bulls or members of other NBA teams, so the “say” makes sense, I think.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Oh, please...

CDilly52 9:26 AM  

@jae-a real accomplishment and something to crow about for sure!! Especially for grandparents!! DOTE on him!!

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

And why is it “your job” to do them? Isn’t solving crosswords supposed to be an activity for amusement and appreciation?

Z 9:30 AM  

What Rex said about making NBA MVP into a POC. Once I sussed it out the eyebrows arched the same way Rex’s did. That’s a long way to go to land with a thud.

WATCH CHAIN. and PEACHY KEEN and EMPORIA and mollycoddled/COSSETS* put this puzzle right in the 1860’s with Lewis Carroll (any else wondering why Rex felt the need to say “don’t @ me”) while XXX RATED and ED ASNER are very 1970’s (yeah yeah, but he was Mr. Grant not liking spunk long before he was Jimmy Buffett). Somebody tried to freshen the puzzle with Gal Gadot and ARI Melber and Kool MOE Dee, but when you have to freshen through cluing it’s hard to shake off the musty odor. MANSPLAIN and SIRI are AT SEA in this puzzle.

Snuck his own name into the grid? Whether you think that’s clever or egotistical I agree.

*BTW - M-W has “pet lamb” as the first definition. All the example sentences are for the “mollycoddle” meaning. Either way, all of these terms scream 19th century BRIT MANSPLAINing about the proper way to raise children to me.

Epmac 9:30 AM  

Loved it. Maybe because it was my fastest ever (5:50). But I thought it was clever too, and that was even before learning that the constructor included his name in it.

Sir Hillary 9:33 AM  

The puzzle is fine -- nothing more, nothing less. The constructor signed his work? OK, it's a bit cheesy, but I never even noticed, nor did the fill suffer as a result, so no issue.

Most of today's entertainment comes from Rex's hilariously OTT write-up which, if I were less familiar with his rants, would seem to stray far more into parody than @JOHN X's post. Sadly, I suspect he (Rex) was serious. My favorite Rex comment is "...that whole SE corner, for various reasons, just doesn't cut it." which I translate as, "I feel aggrieved by this puzzle as a whole, so I'm gonna trash every bit of it -- but don't ask me to spell out actual details that I don't even have."

Nancy 9:37 AM  

Not always completely fair, I feel, but very challenging and engrossing, and it I had to work my melon to the bone trying to solve it.

Really, though?

"Melon seeds" as the clue for IDEAS is one of the clues I found unfair. Who refers to the brain as a melon? A noodle, yes. But "use the old melon" as a way to say "think" is a phrase I've never heard.

I'm also not wild about the THE of THE EURO as an answer.

But loved MANSPLAIN and its clue and DO THE MATH. Wonderful clue for SIRI. I don't have a SIRI in my life, so I stared at that clue for what seemed like hours in complete befuddlement.

Many, many erasures. ALL STAR before A LISTER (18A); RSVP TO before RSVPED (21A); DISGRACE before DISHONOR (37D); ESCAPES before EXCEEDS (38A); and SEX RATED before XXX RATED (39D; don't ask!).

I finished feeling really, really smart. Which is probably delusional on my part. If I were really, really smart, I wouldn't have had all those erasures.

OffTheGrid 9:53 AM  

Yeah. We travel this road far too often. It's tiresome. Surprised BSA didn't get a rant.

RooMonster 9:54 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, that NW was brutal! Just could not see NBAMVPS. Had in, then took out (several times) VETTE, PLEAD, and MAN. SIRI as clued was a slap in the face, to me. Really wanted it to be YODA. Har. And BSA, oof. Wanted either NFL or NFC there. Nice misdirect there, GRANT THACKRAY. I picture him sitting there, rubbing his hands together, cackling. "This'll get them good!" as he lets out an evil smirk.

That mini-scene aside, the rest of puz was good. Managed to get through pretty quick, for me, on a FriPuz. Wouldn't have noticed that GRANT got his whole name in unless it was pointed out to me, as it was. That sheds some light onto @Z's question from YesterComments on whether or not circles/shaded squares are necessary. GRANTed, YesterPuz was known to have some sort of trick, and today's is themeless, so no trick, but still, I maintain the extra nudge is needed.

XXXRATED is a bit risque for the ole NYT, eh? And NIP. C'mon Rex, now your just looking for something that isn't there. Puppies NIP at your heels. You take a NIP of Scotch. It's an innocent word. Stop trying to transmogrify everything into a racial slur.

Had periODIC first for EPISODIC, and like PEACHYKEEN, as I say PEACHY all the time when people ask me how I am. STAIRCASE had a neat clue, as did SLEEVES. SO an overal nice themeless, hoping tomorrow doesn't make the ole brain hurt!

No F's (HOSEd!)

Z 10:02 AM  

@RΓΌ - I forgot to mention this from late yesterday. Maybe it is just politesse and I should accept it as such, but I never quite know what to make of someone apologizing like you did. It makes me think you thought I was upset or my feelings were hurt. That wasn’t the case, I just disagreed. I would accept your apology except that would suggest you needed to apologize and there was no reason for you to apologize. So I will just say “No Prob.”

@Sir Hillary - I have a hypothesis on what troubled Rex in the SE and if I’m right I am grateful he spared us.

@9:29 - The Dude accepts money in exchange for posting a daily blog on the NYTX. That makes it a job.

@algiardello - I can see how you reached that conclusion, but Rex is a sports fan. My sense is baseball is his favorite sport.

@9:20 - 2+3+5=TEN

@Alexander = Here is your link. I feel like I’ve seen a video explaining it better (at least for me) but I have no idea how to find that video now. The whole idea of one not being a prime number is actually something I learned from science fiction, not my DO THE MATH classes.

CDilly52 10:03 AM  

@jae-a real accomplishment and something to crow about for sure!! Especially for grandparents!! DOTE on him!!

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

I'm not a great solver but I did not find this one too tough for a Friday. Maybe its for us "dated" folks (age 55; and therefore less dated than many younger folks; but married, at least)?

JD 10:08 AM  

Well, for the second day in a row @Z described what I'm too inarticulate and lazy to essay. At the point where I actually threw in the towel I was moved to exclaim Gadzooks.

It was in that NW corner. A little puff of dust rose round my tiny thud. I argue that the clue for Vette should've signaled that it was a shortened form of the word. Plus I was sure of NFL for way too long.

Otherwise, I thought it was a fun puzzling experience.

@jae, Your good news gave me a rush actual joy for someone I don't even know. Congrats to him! That's just incredible.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Re-posting just to say I also loved the degree to which the clues in this puzzle held fun facts (e.g. Peridot is always green).

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

just think: if all those Crusader (rabbits) had destroyed the Arabs, we'd still be dumbass Roman numeral users.

"Around 1000 AD, the Islamic mathematician Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) found Wilson's theorem, characterizing the prime numbers as the numbers n that evenly divide ( n − 1 ) ! + 1. He also conjectured that all even perfect numbers come from Euclid's construction using Mersenne primes, but was unable to prove it.[17] Another Islamic mathematician, Ibn al-Banna' al-Marrakushi, observed that the sieve of Eratosthenes can be sped up by testing only the divisors up to the square root of the largest number to be tested. Fibonacci brought the innovations from Islamic mathematics back to Europe. His book Liber Abaci (1202) was the first to describe trial division for testing primality, again using divisors only up to the square root.[16]"
your friendly wiki

leprecohn 10:12 AM  


Hagberd 10:12 AM  

Great puzzle but my satisfaction was dashed by being woke-splained why this puzzle was all sorts of offensive. Thank you for the insight.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Kool Moe Dee is hardly fresh, not that there’s anything wrong with that, He’s 58 years old and has been recording since the late 70s. I suppose rap=fresh to this crowd LOL.

MissScarlet 10:16 AM  

What does Rex have against the 9 down reference to the White Rabbit?

Fischgrape 10:17 AM  

Wasn’t crazy about it, and mostly agree with Rex, but *hated* VETTE! And I’m a car guy. Should’ve been clued with something other than a nickname that is used by many as the actual brand name.

Canon Chasuble 10:18 AM  

My mathematician Wife tells me One is NOT a prime number. The first three prime numbers are 2, 3, and 5.
Never heard of pie hole, which I know as cake hole. And why is something that is easy called “easy as pie” or
A “piece of cake” is not called as easy as cake or a piece of pie?

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

can someone explain record finish EST? what am i missing? eastern standard time? estimate?

Anonymous 10:21 AM  


Anonymous 10:22 AM  

@Unknown 8:39 - totally agree!!!

Birchbark 10:24 AM  

This was a very good puzzle, especially in the clues: THE EURO, PIE HOLE, NBA MVPS, BSA misdirect, etc.

But most of all, flow-with-the-wind LEE TIDE -- closer to poetry than you'd expect of a Friday crossword. Instead of questing after zing it's a gentle, forceful image as clued. I'd support more like it.

A Friday of a different sort (one we no longer see) is 2/13/1998, solved last night on my backward journey through the archives. It took almost 45 minutes to solve, four times my typical Friday time. Unapologetic Naticks everywhere, proper nouns aplenty, deep Greek myth clues, etc. But so rewarding to solve -- you have to be confident, inferring much from the basic word-shapes a few crosses offer, coming back again and again it until it makes sense.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

@JOHN X -- Now, normally I hate MANSPLAINing a lot, but you, John, can MANSPLAIN to me anytime you like. And that's because I'm sure that, whatever you say, it will be funny.

The droll way you oh-so-casually dropped the ex-MRS JOHN X into your comment made my day.

To anyone who clucked scoldingly at our @JOHN X today: To be born with no sense of humor at all is as great a misfortune as any other sort of birth defect. You have my sympathy.

@GILL (7:57) -- The ones that aren't handsome often MANSPREAD too.

@Barbara S. (8:20) -- What a service you've done Judy Blume today! I'm sure this is the first time, other than in the warm embrace of her own family, that her birthday has been celebrated over Lincoln's. Imagine having a birthday where absolutely everyone is talking about someone else. I hope she reads this blog :)

Dare I admit, Barbara, that your Blume passage is my favorite of the week? Unlike the carefully wrought and meticulous prose of the important writers you've quoted so far, Blume's prose is spontaneous and lively -- as though it plopped out of her as easily as that newborn. It's the kind of writing I've always preferred -- even though it obviously pegs me as a literary middlebrow.

albatross shell 10:26 AM  

@bo camp
May I assume you saw and listened to the Times article on the Ode yesterday? I went and listened to the 4th movement because of it. Stirring is an understatement. Happy Valentines day song. My birthday too. Everyone should feel free to ignore that. My two person party here is good enough for me.

The play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.
Kills Dad, marries Mom. Tears out his eyes. Answers the Sphinx's riddle early on. The one about who walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 legs in the afternoon, 3 legs in the evening. If you never ran across it OK. Just trying to refresh your memory if you had.

newbie 10:29 AM  

Chex. Episodic. Piehole. Peachy keen. Vette. Peridot. Israeli, from El Al. Mansplain. All the downs. Felt great to get some of these answers. So I liked it - a lot - “No lie!”

albatross shell 10:30 AM  

Carroll the child moleste ya know, mathematicians.

Wesley Greenbaum 10:34 AM  

1+3+5 (the 1st 3 prime numbers) = NINE, not TEN.
How did you miss that one in your comments?

newbie 10:37 AM  

JohnX - great example! Perhaps exMrsX/MsX didn’t fully understand your sense of humor? Lol.

Z 10:37 AM  

@Anon10:13 - Fair. Although, I must say this struck me as excessively Clint Eastwoody so not “fresh” and fits right into everything else in this puzzle. I was also amused that the official video changed “hell” to “heck.” I’d accuse MTV but MTV wasn’t even playing Rap music yet in 1987.

Newboy 10:40 AM  

Great patient help from @JC66 may be evident today. First thought when I saw all those lovely sevens after yesterday’s DIEDIE was to look for elevens! Not so, but a brilliant grid for my Friday. Only that 34A? clue felt like the proverbial condom in the collection plate. Well, that mystery vowel where MOE crossed TORTONI also raised an exasperated sigh, VETERANS will smile I hope at the salute echoed in VETTE for their having gone the extra MILE. Great cluing that initially seem impossible resolve into obviously correct entries. Really glad to see OFL not giving his usual “easy/mediumish” for Grant’s delightful mental challenge. Now I can look forward to a morning actually reading Rex and Jeff and constructor notes and my favorites among the commentariat. I may not get back to Tommy Orange’s There There until after lunch.

TTrimble 10:40 AM  

I feel as though I'm agreeing with everybody this morning! Rex is right that there's something wrong with "THE" EURO and XXX RATED. Lazy? You be the judge. (When's the last time you saw XXX RATED? Seems a bit antiquated, sleazy men in raincoats haunting the old 42nd Street, or something.)

Nor am I KEEN on the ungainly collocation of V's and P's in RSVPED and NBAMVPS (although they didn't take that long to solve).

On the other hand, PEACHY KEEN is just that. PERIDOT is also pretty cool as words go. PIE HOLE is sort of amusing, but is it ever used without being preceded with "Shut your"? (Sort of like how "cranny" virtually cries out for its partner "nook".) I learned it's only been used in US slang since the 80's -- feels older. It's derived from the older British "cake hole" which has now fallen into disuse.

COSSETS and its clue I like, despite its participation in some POC. (Speaking of POC: RAYONS?!)

LEE TIDE is new to me.

Etymological question of the day: is SPHINX related to "sphincter"? Yes! From the Greek sphingein meaning to squeeze or bind -- the SPHINX was a monster who strangled her victims to death. The mythological figure was defeated by Oedipus when he solved her riddle -- if you want to say he thereby vanquished her, well okay, but it's more like she got really upset and vanquished herself by throwing herself off a cliff, at least in many tellings of the story.

It might be best to keep my PIE HOLE shut about @JOHN X's curious post about MANSPLAIN, but I hope he's not seriously casting doubt that it's a real thing, that he's not just Xtrapolating from his Xperience with his X (who may or may not have been about to hurl herself off a cliff like the SPHINX, a time she EXCEEDed the speed limit). Normally, I can DO THE MATH and see when he's just kidding around, but this guy PLEADS TO not being sure this time.

TTrimble 10:43 AM  

@Wesley Greenbaum
I for one can DO THE MATH: the first three primes are 2, 3, 5.

I could go into a long Xplanation into why 1 isn't considered a prime, although there was some divergence on this issue maybe about a hundred years ago. If you ask me, I promise not to MANSPLAIN.

Frantic Sloth 10:44 AM  

@JD 1008am "Chevy" instead of "Chevrolet" is what allows VETTE. Yeah, I know.

@Anonymous 1020am Superlative. Like bestest.

bocamp 10:46 AM  

@jae 12:40 AM

πŸ‘ for your grandson!

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Z 10:46 AM  

I’ve been meaning to MANSPLAIN this to the car people and keep forgetting. The clue is Sporty Chevy. VETTE is what you call the car when your not being formal, when you are being “sporty.” That I saw through this immediately probably just means I do too many puzzles.

@Anon10:20 - GreatEST number of prime numbers memorized.

Peter P 10:47 AM  

@9:20 - perhaps you're thinking of the first three odd numbers, 1, 3, 5 which do sum to 9. The first three prime numbers are 2, 3, 5, which sum to 10. The definition of a prime number is a number greater than 1 that has only two factors: itself and 1. One is excluded by definition.

Masked and Anonymous 10:49 AM  

@RP: Huh. Well, good mornin, Sunshine. M&A was real surprised that U panned this puppy so snarlingly. I thought it was pretty good, for an autographed themeless.

If and when I have puzs published in the NYT, I'm not sure I'll wanna read the @RP write-up for my efforts, anymore. Is this maybe why several constructioneer folks have bailed to other crossword publishers -- that tend to have friendlier reviewers? Hard in particular to imagine goin thru the extra-tough labors of makin a SunPuz, and then have it totally growled at.

Weeject stacks in all four corners. Got ONE U, too boot. [Or: THE U, if some prefer.]
staff weeject pick: YER. honorable mention to NIP, who got way more dishonor than it deserved, by some folks turnin a perfectly good word into a slur. Kinda like what "trump" is headed for, probably.

sparkler sampler: SPHINX [with its educational clue]. EPISODIC. DOTHEMATH [Yo, @TEN]. VETERAN. theeUro.

Thanx for the fun, Vagrant Hack Rayons dude.

Masked & Anonymo1Us


Knowu 10:49 AM  

I don’t know if anyone addressed this yet, because I don’t have time to read through it all, but Rex, your comment about 1 Down is so asinine I do not know how you put your shoes on by yourself. I am a liberal, non-racist, sensitive, MAGA hating normal human. Comments like yours are why normal conservatives hate the left. Are you trying to be a parody of a leftist? Are you clinically insane? You are offended by “ nip in the air”? You are offended by a dog “nipping at your hand”? These are words that have multiple meanings. You are an English teacher?!?! I am. I truly am ready to give up on all hope of people ever meeting in the middle when people on my side - on what I think is the intelligent side - are this mind-bendingly faux sensitive. You should stop teaching our language at once.

Whatsername 10:56 AM  

2° in KC this morning so I did not have to think very long about NIP. Then guessed at Boy Scouts being the answer for 2D but still had a tough time with that corner. The clue for 17A cried out for ATHLETE which of course did not work but it just seemed a bizarre way to get PAINTER. I liked the combined imagery of WATCH CHAINs with DERBY HATS and could picture ED ASNER in a role sporting both.

Melon seeds might result in more than IDEAS. When I was a teenager one of my classmates unfortunately found herself in a delicate condition. My dad told told me she swallowed one.

Still days to go before any RESPITE from this arctic blast, at least in the Midwest. Safe weekend everyone.

Bruce R 11:00 AM  

There is no such thing as an XXX rating, only X.

Frantic Sloth 11:01 AM  

Gots stuff today, but wanted to add my voice to:

@jae Congratulations to your grandson (and your genes) - what an awesome accomplishment. And he's cute, too!

@the JOHN X misunderstanders - as you no doubt realize by now, it is a parody, satire, and/or charming insanity. In any case, some of us have been in your shoes because he's so dang good! πŸ˜‰

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

if one goes to the wiki (or many other sources, since the wiki has a rule against novel entries, of course) you'll read that, at times though not recently, 1 was considered prime. by the strict definition (divisible by only 1 and itself, which is redundant, but still true), it is, but the Gods of Math decided to exclude it by definition for some reason.

andy 11:08 AM  

Mansplain is the common occurrence of men explaining something to a woman when she did NOT ask for it. Talking down.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

The really cool aspect of sphincter: you can call someone an asshole without being caught by censorware. Very useful that. Well, and the fact that most assholes don't know the word.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

@knowu: 10:49- I too am a liberal Democrat who thinks it’s silly to nit at nip. As for hating MAGA, that isn’t normal either. Most MAGA types that I’ve met are nice, hard working people who’d be glad to help a neighbor. I’m not ready to give up. Hoping people like you and Rex will someday become aware of their unkind prejudices. Cheers.

Ulysses 11:18 AM  

When Rexxx cannot solve a puzzle forthwith, he turns his scorn on everyone and everything but himself. Maybe he has been doing this too long? Is there a prince or princess waiting in the wings to usurp the king?

Unknown 11:19 AM  

1, 2, and 3 are all prime numbers. Their sum is 6. Somebody didn't do the math.

Z 11:23 AM  

@Albie - I thought it was probably that old myth but why would Rex feel the need to say “don’t @ me” about something he didn’t even discuss? His 1D complaint was going to bring out the “don’t tell me I’m being racist” crowd, I would have thought that more worthy of a Don’t@Me.

@Knowu - Not even bothering to look it up makes you not a liberal and makes you look like a racist. But you do you. (the Wikipedia article was the top hit, but there’s lots more on the interwebs)

@Bruce R - More MANSPLAINing for you. MPAA no longer has an X rating, just an NC-17. They used to have an X rating, but because pornography producers self-labeled their movies as XXX, the X rating basically became a kiss of death for theatrical releases. I’m not at all sure “NC-17” has fixed the problem. Either way, the clue makes no mention of MPAA so is fine as the XXX RATED movie was most definitely a thing.

Hayley Devlin 11:27 AM  

Knowu- My grandparents live in The Villages, a retirement community in Florida with a large MAGA population. The ones I’ve met are universally nice. Don’t hate them please. They don’t hate you.

JC66 11:31 AM  


Mazel Tov!!!

It's great to be a Grandparent.

newbie 11:36 AM  

albatross - happy birthday, anyway! Have a great day!
And congrats to you and your grandson, jae - good genes and good grandparental example there.

I’m with Unknown and Jcap on this one:

Imho, Rex should give the whole “nip” thing a rest. Most people alive today aren’t old enough to remember it being used as a perjorative term, or weren’t even born yet, including Rex, I think. Since my only thought was “isn’t Nippon a big Japanese company?” I had to look it up - and, yep, it is. In fact, there’s a and some Nippon society that’s for promoting racial harmony. Nippon is the name for Japan.

Ok, so that’s not exactly the same as “nip” but I’ve never actually heard anyone, before Rex, use the word in any way other than referring to a puppy or light dog bite or a “nip in the air” or “nip it in the bud” (what we should do with using the term like Rex is). We’ve all seen World War II movies that use “Japs” but that doesn’t mean any of us would think to use that term to refer to anyone today.

Sometimes a person can promote exactly what they’re objecting to. This doesn’t seem like one we have to caution our kids (or grandkids) about using - they wouldn’t use it.

And the whole woman thing can be overdone, too. It can be condescending in itself.

(If there’s a word for “woman-splaining I guess this rant is it - sorry, all, lol.) We all know Rex is woke - and even agree with him - and ordinarily I wouldn’t object because, after all, it is his blog and I am very grateful for it - but the “nip” thing seems to be a word too far.

Otoh, if anyone from Japan, or of Japanese descent, is offended by its use as a chill in the air, I’ll stand corrected.

Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

And congratz to @jae's grandson.

And congratz to Soleil Saint-Cyr [1 Feb MonPuz] for makin it onto the CBS Evenin News, last night.


Knowu 11:41 AM  

I don’t hate the people, of course. I hate the concept that building a wall to keep Mexicans out and grabbing women by their .... will make America great again. Stop legitimizing these ideas as “ normal politics” by praising the people who support them. I did not need to look up what the slur connotation of 1D is. I have heard it all my life. Complaining about the use of a common word because hateful people use it in a different context is, I repeat, unacceptable for an English professor. It is actually reactionary more than most conservative thinking. I do not hate people simply because they are on the right, but make no mistake, many of them hate us and idiocy like Rex’s blanket call for censorship is one reason why.

pabloinnh 11:42 AM  

@albatross shell, @TTrimble--

Thanks for the edification concerning Oedipus and the Sphinx, I knew about Oedipus and his parents and his eyeballs but that's where the story stopped for me.

So, another day when I run into something else I should probably know but don't (makes a new mark on calendar).

Congrats to @jae and your grandson, who probably knew all this.

Tom R 11:43 AM  

Wow. Lots of comments today. I had DI at 37D so stupidly stuck in "DIEINBED" which luckily was easy to fix. Only comment to make was on 8D which is really not that relevant to the puzzle. I have a long term response when asked how I am that seems to amuse a lot of people: "Just peach-keen, for a man my age and condition." so it was delightful to me to see that answer.

Whatsername 11:44 AM  

@jae (12:40) Wow! Major kudos to your young man. Quite an impressive accomplishment. Grandparent bragging is not only justified but pretty much mandated there.

NIP is a word with about a dozen different definitions. So instead of a debate about it, have a good laugh...Seinfeld style.

sixtyni yogini 11:46 AM  

This one made me miserable until
Can’t hate it for with that in thar! (won’t bore you with latest mansplaining story....😠 πŸ₯΄)
And appreciate Rex Critique as always.
Challenging 🧩

Stix 11:48 AM  

And here I thought that "free the nip" only referred to the topless women's movement.

jberg 11:50 AM  

I just loved PIEHOLE crossing PEACHY KEEN. It took me some time to get there, however. I saw right away that ensnarE would fit at 8A, but being a cautious type, I checked a few crosses -- sure enough, there was EAR confirming that terminal E! OK, I was off an running -- right into a brick wall. But once I got that sorted out, the puzzle was beautiful-- the white rabbit with his WATCH CHAIN (at least as drawn by Tenniel), crying I'M LATE, riding the LEE TIDE until my boat was ASEA, and so much more.

I had a minor quibble with RSVPED, as clued -- I think the "can" should be "could." You can make a case for can being acceptable, but I would never say it that way. Also, what's semi-synthetic about RAYONS?

I completely missed the clue for TEN, lucky for me. In my day, 1 was definitely a prime number, and there was a famous theorem that every even number is the sum of two primes -- easily disprovable if 1 is not prime. I gather from the comments that it has been defined away. That happens in the birding world all the time (alas, the poor Oregon Junco), but I always thought that math, being a pure abstraction, was immune from that sort of thing. I mean, you can't analyze the numberal's genetic material and decide that it's been classified wrongly. Oh well.

Blog newcomers -- there's an ongoing contest to see who can say something that's an obvious parody and get the most commenters to take it seriously. Usually @Rex wins, butt today it's @JOHN X, GOING AWAY.

Richard 11:53 AM  

This was one of those head-slapper DNFs* for me. Mainly because I confidently dropped in "alumnus" at 17A, which totally gummed up that section. So I slogged my way through the rest of the grid. Disabused myself of "alumnus" with VETTE crossing but still had "agreeSTO" at 6D before (what seems obvious in retrospect) PLEADSTO.

By then I was simply weary of this puzzle and just kind of settled for PlaNTER at 17A (thinking that some wealthy land-owing 17th Century farmer donated the land to Princeton, or something). Never bothered to check the now-absurd crosses in the NW and just turned 'er in. (Teacher's comment: "See me!")

*I actually "finished" -- in the sense that all the squares were filled in. But two were wrong. Query: what do you call it when you complete the puzzle with errors? DNF doesn't seem quite right.

NotReadyForPrimeTime 11:55 AM  

A simple mathsplation:

A prime number has 2 and only 2 factors (itself & 1). 1 has only one factor (1) so not prime. 2 has two factors (2&1) so prime. 2 is the only even prime. Some odd numbers are prime. Some are not. This is not intended as expertise, just enough to get you through prime number related xword clues.

newbie 11:55 AM  

Hayley and other person - Knowu didn’t express hatred for PERSONS. Just for MAGA - a slogan. MAGA isn’t a person (well, maybe it is one certain person) - it’s a slogan, or a movement. Just saying, in the interest of harmony here. : )

JD 12:08 PM  

@Frantic, I recently decided that my memory deteriorates when I don't sleep, so when I don't sleep I'll just keep my thoughts to myself.

Alas, major head slap. That you could see the USA in your Chevrolet was not forgotten. It was just so deeply buried as to be not retrievable on any number of z's. I coulda been a contender on this puzzle, instead of DNF'er, which is what I am.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

And here I thought that "free the nip" only referred to the topless women's movement.

Well, and unlined/unpadded brassieres, whilst wearing gossamer shirt. Back in Olden Times universally referred to as 'having her high beams on'.

bocamp 12:09 PM  

@albatross shell 10:26 AM

No, I hadn't read the article, but have now, thx to you. :)

Oh, btw, Happy, Happy! πŸ˜‰πŸŽ‚πŸŽ‰

pg -19

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

"Rayon is a regenerated cellulose fiber that is made from natural sources of cellulose, such as wood and related agricultural products." the wiki

IOW, not made from base chain petro, like nylon and such.

Ethan Taliesin 12:13 PM  

I had SUCK (it) instead of HACK it for "Cope, with "it."

This frustrated my progress for too long and I cheated. Whether this is a new thing, and old thing, a current thing or a combination, I have no memory of ever hearing "hack it" for cope.

Other than that morass it seemed regular for a Friday and I liked the clue for SLEEVES.

I don't think the use of MANSPLAIN in a "sexist" puzzle is ironic, I'd just say it makes the puzzle less sexist. This perspective would make your gripe a little ironic, maybe. More than 10,000 spoons for a knife anyway.

jb129 12:28 PM  

Finally finished - yay!

Chip Hilton 12:33 PM  

Loved it. Started in the SE where everything just flew onto the paper (It helped that my dirty mind took me right to XXXRATED). I ended in the NW, with NBASTARS being my last fill in. I just didn’t see the need for the final -S and thought the clue was overly specific for all but the diehard hoops fans. Anyway, minor quibble. Clever, Mr. Thackeray.

TTrimble 12:38 PM  

Goldbach's conjecture is that every even number greater than 2 is a sum of two primes. (It's a conjecture, not a theorem, meaning that it's a strongly plausible guess, but it hasn't been completely proven.)

Logically speaking, mathematical definitions are neither correct nor incorrect -- they are conventions which, if executed well, serve both to introduce convenient shorthands (e.g., a natural number is prime if it has exactly two distinct factors; it's easier to say "prime" than the more longwinded referent), and to help capture a facet of mathematical reality that is deemed important. So, that 1 is no longer considered prime is a convention, but experience has shown it's arguably a better (more useful, more elegant) convention than having it considered prime.

The so-called fundamental theorem of arithmetic states that every positive integer is uniquely a product of primes arranged in increasing order. (That includes 1, which in modern parlance is considered an empty product, much in the way that 2^0, a product of zero copies of the number 2, is defined to be 1.) If we considered 1 to be a prime, then the uniqueness would be lost, e.g., we could then write the number 6 as a product of primes in an infinite number of different ways:

6 = 2 x 3 = 1 x 2 x 3 = 1 x 1 x 2 x 3 = ...

Now, you're quite right that once upon a time, 1 was considered to be prime (that was true of Goldbach himself, who lived in the 1700's), and it was the case for many authors well up to the modern era, e.g., D.N. Lehmer listed 1 in his tables of primes around the beginning of the last century. But it's overwhelmingly the case, for mathematicians today, that excluding 1 from the list of primes is much more satisfactory (especially when one generalizes to other number systems).


@Frantic Sloth
I'm going to send you an email.

TJS 1:04 PM  

Hey @KNOWU, leave me out of your "us" group.

Anybody else think of "noshogun" before "dishonor" . It fit the "sho" run and isn't there some Japanese word for the Samurai that wandered the country because their leader was dead ?

@Z, there is only one "Dude" with a capital "D" and it ain't Rex.

What? 1:13 PM  

You almost clicked Gal Gadot out of a hot tub? You have some explaining to do.

Knowu 1:18 PM  

I apologize TJS. Sorry to lump you in.

Barbara S. 1:18 PM  

A tip of the DERBY HAT to your grandson. He obviously Did THE MATH and so much more.

@albatross shell (10:26)
You have a stellar career ahead of you as a literature summarizer. (And h.b.)

@Nancy (10:26)
1) Keep 'em guessing.
2) As a Canadian, I don't have the immediate, visceral association between Feb. 12 and Lincoln's birthday, which I'm sure many on this blog do.
3) In addition to this being Lincoln's birthday, it is also Charles Darwin's. In fact, they were born on *exactly* the same day in the year 1809. Faced with both limited time and the enormity of the task of sorting out likely quotations from these two change-the-world luminaries, I opted for something in a completely different tone of voice.
4) I like the Blume passage, too. But I have to say I'm a complete sucker for the high-falutin' stuff, too.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

@TJS- That’s just like your opinion, man.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

Pete Buttigieg didn't fit in 7D. Am I anti-AI-biased if SIRI doesn't come to mind when a human is implied by a clue?

MANSPLAIN was the first answer I saw but I held off until I had crosses. I tried for the cross with the P, figuring that would clinch my guess but RSVPED with its ambiguous tense of "Let" in the clue was hard to see.

DO THE MATH vs. Sum of the first three prime numbers, har. At least I had SLEEVES in place to prevent the "six" answer. I know we've had the prime question answered in this blog more than once but it didn't prevent me from wanting to err with one, two and three.

I thought "Melon seeds" was cringe-worthy as a clue for IDEAS (didn't fool me, either) but there were lots of other clever clues so I liked this overall. Thanks, Grant Thackray.

What? 1:28 PM  

I don’t hate them. I just want them locked up.

newbie 1:34 PM  

I can’t hack it. Which could mean I can’t cope with it. More likely would be used for I can’t do it or I can’t deal with it.

Thanks for the info about 1 being prime once upon a time - thought I was crazy. Some day people will be saying the same thing about Pluto being a planet.

Chip - I also started in the SE and had great (if slow) success working my way up to the NBA. That’s becoming my go-to trick.

Barbara S. 1:38 PM  

@Nancy (10:26) ADDENDUM
Reading over what I wrote at 1:18 p.m., it sounds like maybe I was mad! I wasn't, I assure you, and in fact I was sorta hoping someone would comment that I'd snubbed Abe Lincoln in favor of Judy Blume. The numbered-points format just helped give my thoughts some coherence.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

I don’t hate them. I just want them locked up.

just saw on my CNN homepage a short clip of "Convict Trump and Lock Him Up!" banner flown past Mar-a-Lago, apparently just before his mouthpiece started in the Senate.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

@What- LOL They probably want us locked up also. Well, maybe not TJS but the rest of this PC crowd.

misterarthur 1:57 PM  

I rather enjoyed it, myself.

Bruce Fieggen 2:21 PM  

In the record books you can find people ran the fastEST, jumped the highEST, etc.

TTrimble 2:29 PM  


Rex was very brief on this in his write-up, so it's not too clear how much heated emotion anyone should infer from it. From the way he writes, he seems far more exercised by NBAMVPS than by NIP.

I think people could get a better sense of his take on this by listening to the January 23 vlog, where he co-solves with Rachel Fabi. After they finish solving the puzzle, they talk about various aspects of it including NIP AT. It was Rachel who brought up NIP as a word she has chosen to exclude from her lists as a XW constructor. In the end Rex leans toward her position, acknowledging that "nip" is a very common word, unlike "chink" which (he believes) is comparatively rare, but basically: better safe than sorry. (He also describes his first encounter with NIP as a slur, and how it was eye-opening to him.)

To me, the brief mention of the NIP crossing NBAMVPS comes across as more of a side-eye, as if to suggest to the constructor, "honestly, you could have done better there".

Anyway, have a listen to his vocal tone. It's around the 16:50 mark of the video, where Rachel starts that discussion.

(And maybe let's cool it on the scolding back and forth.)

sanfranman59 2:45 PM  

Easy NYT Friday ... 30% below my Friday 6-month median solve time ... only two erasures on a Friday is very unusual and both were typos to boot

It's a very rare Friday when Rex rates a puzzle Medium-Challenging that I rate as Easy. That probably means that my solve time was only about 25% above his.

There were a few brow-furrowing moments in this one, but it was mostly like a typical Wednesday solve for me (without the theme). I liked that EL AL {28A: Carrier for many a 15-Across} helped me out with ISRAELI {15A: Gal Gadot, by birth} (one of those rare times that I'm happy about a cross-reference). I'm torn about having both NBA MVPS {1A: Star Bucks, say?} and RSVP'ED {21A: Let someone know if you can go} in the grid (and both in the same general area). It's Scrabbly vowel-lessness is kinda cool and both answers came to me pretty quickly, but the clue for NBA MVPS seems just a little off the mark. Including a definite article in an answer is always kinda icky (THE EURO {25D: It's usually around 9/10 of a pound}). Having it abut the ugh-worthy LOADS IN {26D: Adds, as a disk to a disk drive} has me wishing that section had been re-worked somehow.

The rest of the grid was fine and I liked the cluing style, even if it wasn't much of a challenge. I don't mind a breezy Friday solve every now and then, particularly after having my butt whipped by Erik Agard last week.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

The answer to 1A in another popular crossword today was cages. The clue had nothing to do with the current border crisis. If that answer had instead appeared in the NYT there no doubt would have been complaints about insensitivity, thereby consigning to the dustbin another perfectly good word. So, no, “better safe than sorry” sounds great but it diminishes the puzzle if ever so slightly and the slope is very slippery.

A 3:14 PM  

First things first:
@jae - Congratulations! Not just valedictorian but highest GPA in his school's history, and a handsome lad to boot!

@albatross - not crashing your party, but Happy Birthday!

@jberg asked yesterday: Finally, a question for you orchestral musicians. Do orchestras really have a REEDS section? It seems like the flutes (and piccolos) are right in the middle of it, so maybe it's really the winds. (Also called woodwinds, though flutes haven't been made of wood since the baroque.)

It's a good point. In a symphony orchestra, you’re correct, you don’t hear REEDS referred to as a section, like strings, percussion, brass, and woodwinds/winds. The term ‘winds’ can either mean woodwinds only (flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons) or brass and woodwinds together. Our conductor usually says ‘winds’ but often has to clarify by saying 'woodwinds' or ‘no brass’ or by gesturing at the (wood)wind section. English. (Technically, the clue didn’t specify what kind of ‘orchestra,’ so I suppose it could refer to the REEDS in a jazz orchestra. Seems a bit of a stretch.)

There are actually several makers of grenadilla wood flutes, and I’ve occasionally seen them in orchestras. Here’s a comparison

Now for the puzzle. Easy-medium. As usual I started slowly and had to work back around. I did tentatively put in six for the prime number clue, but I kept a watchful eye on it. Same thing for afRican before ISRAELI, due to falling for the sports RUSE (NFL) and not having NIP yet. Once I started to catch on to some of the sneaky clues things got faster and I thought it was PEACHY KEEN.

If time heals all wounds, maybe time could eventually heal words, as well. I'm hoping that NIP can be a word that recovers from its usurpation. In the wiki article @Z provided, all of the examples of its perjorative use are from the 1940's, though I'm sure it persisted much longer. Who knows, in a couple of eons, we could get back the gay 90s and a chink in the armor.

I didn't notice any lack of female names, just a lack of names, for which I was grateful. (When I saw the Alice comment, I wondered about the "don't @ me," but I just thought he was saying the character of Alice didn't count as a female reference in the puzzle.)

Really the only thing that bothered me a little was the number of 3 letter answers - seemed excessive for a Friday. Oh, and keep YER AMMONIA away from my TORTONI!

Sandy 3:38 PM  

How is 44a ten and not nine? 1,3,5, right?

SFR 4:00 PM  

Very observant! I guess Rex would have mentioned this if he had noticed.

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

C'mon! Give us a break.

kitshef 4:20 PM  

NW about killed me, and that was with knowing GG was ISRAELI. I'm guessing it was a lot easier for anyone who did not need - literally - every cross for VETTE. What Harry Potter and Star Wars are to some people, cars are to me.

Pete Repeat 5:52 PM  

@Sandy 3:38- Hear ya brother. BTW, what’s EGOT ?

Sherlock 6:14 PM  

Props to Grant T., but how did Joaquin catch that first comment of the day ? I sense nefariousness. Good on you Grant and Joaquin.

TJS 6:15 PM  

The Dude abides.

Anonymous 6:20 PM  

Can someone please explain 48A EST?
And I agree that NIP in the air does not sound racist, and I'm as liberal as they come.
I hated the NBAMVPS clue/answer.

JC66 6:26 PM  

@Anon 6:20

That's the greatEST question.

Crimson Devil 6:31 PM  

Very much enjoyed, best Friday in memory.
Wheelhouse. PEACHY KEEN indeed!

jae 6:53 PM  

On behalf of my grandson thanks for all the congratulatory comments. In addition to being one of the brightest people I know he is a truly good person and a delight to be around. We get our second shots in about ten days and are so looking forward to hugging him again.

bocamp 8:26 PM  

@jae 6:53 PM

All the best! πŸ™

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Rizzo 8:58 PM  

@Sandy 3:38 – There are worse things you could ask. I just can't think of any.

@Jae – woo-hoo! on your grandson.

Anonymous 9:02 PM  

Sometimes, Rex.....
Sometimes it seems very clear you're searching for something to whine about.
NIP, a racial slur??
Please, man... there's winter storm heading our way, and there is most definitely a NIP in the air.
Where is YOUR mind?

lynn 9:24 PM  


albatross shell 10:01 PM  

I read a review of a book about Carroll and Alice years back and there did seem to be at least some strong circumstantial evidence and some suggestive photos Carroll took. First article I found claimed the popularity of Wonderland had been dropping because of it. Here is one article about a BBC show.

So I thought Rex didn't want to hear about it either because he didn't believe it or didn't think it carried over to the character of Alice. The idea that he was talking about the lack of women in the puzzle never occurred to me because by the time I got to the bottom of the writeup I didn't realize the asterisk was a footnote to that area of the puzzle. I thought it was a self-contained comment. Certainly nothing to do with racial slurs anyway.

I have made no judgement about Carroll and enjoy his characters as much as ever.

Not knowing something is common and real easy. A shrug. What gets my goat is how many things I know are right are wrong.

@Barbra S.
You gave me a big laugh there. It was concise. You made me think I should have put in a SPOILER ALERT. It would be a good job. Lit quick.

To those of you who said happy birthday, thank you. To those who didn't, thank you too. Now this is awkward. I mentioned it in the first place because I don't really think this is the place for things like birthdays and it seemed to be growing. I could see it eventually growing to 50 birthday wishes every 3rd day. And I do not usually tell people who do not know its my birthday it's my birthday. I never wish people happy birthday when I only know it's their birthday because of a Facebook notification. I ignore all fb or email bd wishes. But I ignore most of that anyway. But I enjoyed them all here today. So that's the way it went.

With one added complication in the interest honoring our nitpickers union here: I wrote about Ode to Joy being "a happy Valentines day song. It's my birthday too." Meaning Valentines day is my birthday. I thought by then everybody would forget. So thanks for the early bd wishes. Today was very entertaining here. Thanks to you all.

A 10:29 PM  

@albatross shell - That's what I thought you meant! And then I thought, wait, it's Valentine's day already? (For those of us not able to work, it's just blursday every day.) And then my husband came home with flowers. Guess he thought today was your birthday, too. Happy Day.

GPO 12:15 AM  

Lol. “Nip” ‘“might be” a racial slur!

Also, NBAMVPS is no good because there have only been two from Milwaukee IRL? Now there is a required level of verisimilitude that, I have to admit, I did not expect in a crossword puzzle blog!!

Dave S 1:46 AM  

Good, tough Friday. Last week's was more fun, but I like to sweat a little sometimes too, at least if it all comes together eventually. Peridot was new to me and tortoni nearly so, and I always like to learn something. The clue for sleeves was fun, and there were lots of other "tricks." Also liked the "do the math" answer. Had the thing associated with a school as "planner" for far to long and that messed me up quite a but, but finally came clear.

Stix 10:25 AM  

Ah, the good ol days!

Anonymous 11:02 AM  


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