Online magazine co-founded by Henry Louis Gates / FRI 2-5-21 / Revered woman in Islam / Distinctive features of Marcus Garvey's helmet / Jazz great Mary ___ Williams / Product from Bevel or Oui the People / Spelman figure informally

Friday, February 5, 2021

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: none 

Word of the Day: BUICK Electra 225 (34A: "Deuce and a quarter" automaker) —
The Buick Electra is a full-size luxury car manufactured and marketed by Buick from 1959 to 1990 over six generations — having been named after heiress and sculptor Electra Waggoner Biggs by her brother-in-law Harlow H. Curtice, former president of Buick and later president of General Motors. The Electra was offered in coupeconvertiblesedan, and station wagon body styles over the course of its production — with rear-wheel drive (1959-1984) or front-wheel drive (1985-1990, except station wagon). For its entire production run, it utilized some form of GM's C platform. The Electra was superseded by the Buick Park Avenue in 1991. // For years, the Super and the Roadmaster constituted the upper echelon of Buick's lineup. The Limited, even more luxurious than the Roadmaster, returned for 1958. For 1959, the Super was renamed the Electra, the Roadmaster was renamed the Electra 225, and the unsuccessful Limited model was discontinued. The appearance was shared with two other Buick models, the mid-level Invicta and the entry level LeSabre. The Electra 225 nameplate was a nod to the latter car's overall length of over 225 in (5,715 mm), earning it the street name "deuce and a quarter." (wikipedia)
• • •

I say there's no theme today, but it's worth noting that this is the Blackest puzzle not only of this week, but possibly of all time. There's not a single human being in the clues or fill who isn't Black. Not one. Well, most of the 2019 NATS weren't Black, just as most sherpas aren't, but every specific person mentioned in this puzzle is. And yet this puzzle is also just a very solid Friday puzzle, as solvable as any other Friday I've ever done. In addition to being the fine, well-crafted puzzle I expect to see every time I see Erik Agard's name on the byline, this puzzle makes an important point: that centering Blackness is not an exclusionary move. That puzzle writers and editors have, And Have Always Had, the ability to make Black people more visible in their puzzles, while also keeping the puzzles broadly accessible; they simply haven't. The gravitational pull of precedent is surely a big part of the reason they haven't, but it's important to recognize that that precedent has been white—probably more by default than exclusionary intent, but the effects have been the same. In its total Blackness, this puzzle is itself a small form of REPARATIONS (the bull's-eye word of the day). But I hope this puzzle, and all the puzzles this week, aren't simply a token recognition that Black people exist, but a genuine call to all constructors to actively consider the breadth and depth of cultural focus in their puzzles, specifically where Black people are concerned, but ultimately where all people are concerned.


My Clue of the Year so far is 3D: A fine way to discourage foul language? (SWEAR JAR). Actually, it's a clue / answer combo, great on both fronts. The "fine" pun, mwah, perfect. Also great is the clue / answer combo at 13A: Pop up a lot, perhaps? (NEW DAD). Unlike SWEAR JAR, that one actually fooled me. I had NEW DA- and was still tilting my head and squinting bemusedly at the clue. Just delightful stuff. Hardest part of the grid for me today was the entire area in and around the FLOW part of FLOW STATE (29A: What you're in when you're in the zone). I had -OW STATE and still no idea. Weirdly, I have read about the concept of FLOW, but I'd never (to my knowledge) seen the concept expressed as the phrase FLOW STATE. So I thought I had errors. Actually I did have an error, a little earlier: PREZ instead of PROF (17D: Spelman figure, informally). As I am a PROF, I suppose this counts as irony. Also couldn't get to SOIL from S--L (which now seems awfully stupid on my part) (25A: Concern in geomorphology) and without so many crucial letters (including the "B" from BUICK, which I didn't know), there was no way for me to see OIL BARREL (21D: Unit officially defined as 42 gallons).  I briefly wanted that answer to start "ONE-something." Outside of that area, I pretty much moved through the grid with a typical easy Friday flow. 


Five Things:
  • 10D: Revered Woman in Islam (FATIMA) — one of two Islam clues in the puzzle today (speaking of inclusivity) (see also 62A: Observes one of the Five Pillars of Islam => FASTS). 
  • 38A: Product from Bevel or Oui the People (RAZOR) — I was at a loss here (guessed it after I changed LOLL to LAZE at 33D: Do nothing). These are Black-owned businesses that make products specifically for Black skin/hair (Bevel / Oui the People).
  • 8D: One-named rapper who became a co-host of CBS's "The Talk" (EVE) — baffled by this even though I *own music* by EVE. This should tell you exactly how much I pay attention to network television, of any type.
  • 20A: Bit of ancient writing (SCROLL) — I think of the SCROLL as the thing the writing is *on*, and as containing something more than just a "bit" of writing, so I was looking for a 6-letter equivalent of something like RUNE here. 
  • 31D: Language in which you might be greeted "Hullo, hoo are ye?" (SCOTS) — For the third time today, I was slow getting an answer I have a lot of experience with. First PROF (I am one). Then EVE (I have her music). Now SCOTS. I studied abroad in Scotland and at one point was going to write my dissertation on Middle SCOTS literature. And yet I looked at this clue and thought "what kind of rural dialect are they trying to render here?" I needed a NAE or WEE or HAGGIS to tip me off.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

147 comments:

Lewis 6:38 AM  

Whenever I exit one of Erik’s puzzles, I am glad for the experience. Usually exhilarated. Mostly because I’ve been immersed in beauty. A spotless grid, expertly designed, with varied interesting answers, spectacular clues, a distinct voice, combined in a way that ineffably breathes with beauty. What a talent.

Kafka said, “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” Erik Agard’s puzzles will be my fountain of youth, then, because the shine of their beauty never escapes me.

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

While this is (duh) a great Friday NYT XWord, why why why why couldn't Erik have done the Sunday puzzle (I assume KAC is tomorrow) so Black Puzzlemakers Week could actually last a WHOLE WEEK?

BarbieBarbie 6:57 AM  

Threw down EQUALRIGHTS with no crosses at 35A and... made a mess for a little while, but I recovered. Who knew it had the same number of letters as REPARATIONS.

Saturday-tough for me because of the NE, but I got there. The big hangup in that area was BUICK even though I am related to midwesterners.

The stuff I didn’t know was crossed by stuff I could figure out. Work hard at it, get a bunch of words on crosses, and end up learning things! What a great puzzle. As always from EA. More please.

Richard Stanford 6:57 AM  

This was a lot of fun. It was challenging but I never felt stuck, and the few names I didn’t recognize were sufficiently spread out to be solvable from crosses. Chuckled at NEWDAD once I got it for sure.

kitshef 7:11 AM  

Quite a few “who (or what) the devil is _____?” for me today.
From the clues:
Deuce and a quarter?
Bevel or Oui the People?
Marcus Garvey’s helmet?

And from the answers:
FLOW STATE?
THE ROOT?

But finished in normalish time so all fairly crossed. Often I feel I learn things from EAs puzzles that I’ll be happy to know later. Today … I don’t think BUICKs or RAZORs or knowing Marcus Garvey’s helmet had PLUMES will do me much good. I was a little surprised to see Garvey in an Agard puzzle – what with the promotion of the KKK and the opposition to mixed marriage.

Fantastic clue for NEW DAD.

Andy 7:16 AM  

loved the puzzle, as i've loved ever puzzle Erik Agard has published in the short time i've been solving.

Guilherme Gama 7:22 AM  

Smooth solve, loved it. I'd initially had switched the office acronyms and gotten ASAP on 53D and PRAYS for 62A - wrong pillar of Islam!

I got stuck in the NW for a while because I'd never realized DIJON is spicy. Guess I have a high tolerance for capsaicin.

Lobster11 7:25 AM  

Smooth. Flawless. Fun. My only complaint is that it was over much too quickly.

I honestly didn't notice the "blackness" at all. Never occurred to me until I came here. I think that's a good thing, right?

Conrad 7:29 AM  


DNF here because of a stupid typo. Realized that 56D (___ Te Ching) could be either LAO or TAO. Guessed wrong and somehow LITLLE looked fine to me. D'oh!

Didn't recognize "Deuce-and-a-quarter" but once I got a few crosses BUICK was the only automaker that could possibly fit.

This was indeed a great puzzle, and everything that @Rex said.

ChuckD 7:29 AM  

Pretty good puzzle. I’d rather see a more open grid on a Friday - usually the 6 or 7 letter longs give me trouble but this one didn’t put up much of a fight. Put in REPARATIONS and OIL BARREL right away and it was off to the races. COVER LETTER was eh but I liked SECRET KNOCK and SPOILERS. Agree with Rex on SWEAR JAR - also NEW DAD. I watch Gate’s show on PBS and they always reference THE ROOT so that was a gimme.

I think he was trying too hard with the TAG TEAM clue and I used to SHELL OUT quarters to my kids to play video games so I think that clue is poor with the big bucks descriptor.

This was a smooth, easy Friday.

oceanjeremy 7:31 AM  

Just yesterday I commented that I’m of the generation where “rap” to me means De La Soul (among others) and not Cardi B, and today the Puzzle Gods show they were listening. I let out a delighted, audible “ha HA!” when I filled in that DELA.

In fact I found *most* of this puzzle delightful. I solved last night just before bed, and don’t recall a single clue making me angry or even bored when I answered. Maybe a tad easy for a Friday, but oh so enjoyable.

Speaking of DELA Soul, I encourage everyone who reads this to immediately go listen to Buhlo͞one Mindstate — my favorite hip hop album in all the universe. I may be biased, as I used to wander around my college town listening to it on repeat (and may or may not have been on a little bit of LSD at the time). But I think it’s the finest example of Hip Hop As Literature, as well as Hip Hop As Music. The production is so jazz-centric I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it.

YouTube used to have the entire album available and I just looked; seems it was taken down (copyright reasons, I’m sure). So if you don’t have the means to hear the whole album at least give the track “I Am I Be” a spin.

It’s there (on YouTube), and I promise it’ll improve your day.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

How is “pair of rings” a tag team? Jim

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

As is par for the course with the NYTs new stable of activist “creators” the puzzle foregoes intelligence and skill for driving home its political point. The only skill on display here is the ability to make earnest intellectuals feel good about themselves for solving a mediocre puzzle on a Friday: the only accomplishment, to further dilute the NYTXWs reputation for excellence.

Joaquin 7:54 AM  

Must admit to knowing very little about Marcus Garvey and even less about his helmet. I finished the puzzle and went immediately to Wiki to read more about Garvey. He was a fascinating man, so thanks to crosswords in general and Agard in particular for leading me there.

PS - Does Hawkeye PIERCE count as a white guy in this puzzle? ... Didn't think so.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Since Black Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, perhaps the editor should devote 26 percent of the 2021 puzzles to black themes or constructors, in reparation!

rushscott 7:56 AM  

FFFE! (First Friday Finished Ever!) Sad but I take the little victories in life...

Rug Crazy 8:00 AM  

just wow

oceanjeremy 8:02 AM  

TAGTEAM is "a pair." Since tag teams wrestle together in rings it is "pair" and it is "of rings."

oceanjeremy 8:04 AM  

Must be tiring, constantly searching for "political points" to be offended by.

Joaquin 8:10 AM  

From 1950 until his passing in 2008 my father owned a series of ultimate "Dad cars" - Buicks. Before he retired he traded every two years so we had a lot of Buicks. But ...

Guess I need to get out more; I have never heard the term "Deuce and a quarter". I was, however, quite familiar with the "Deuce and a half", the 2.5 ton truck the Army used to haul people and stuff during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

Frantic Sloth 8:10 AM  

@Z 346pm yesterday. Um...yeah. That's what I said. Almost verbatim.
And thanks for getting the joke (I can always count on you to do so!) and explaining me and my ways. Sometimes it still surprises me when I'm misunderstood despite the added clue of a winking, heart-kiss-blowing emoji. Go know. 🀷‍♀️


Today's puzzle and its byline scared the crap outta me. And then I started solving...

For once the NW corner was the easiest section, which you might think is a good thing - if not for the fact that I got all cocky and had a rather rude awakening thereafter.

So wanted the answer to 1A ("Them's fightin' words") to be OH, YEAH? Oh well...too long, too wrong.
I know what "in the zone" means, but FLOWSTATE is completely new to me. Some PPP was tough for weird reasons. E.g., I knew EVE (from Barbershop actually), but had no idea she was on "The Talk" because, well, it's "The Talk". Ew.
Also, Hip-hop/Rap clues and answers tend to sound like the Peanuts teacher's voice to me, so DELA also a goner.

All that being whined, I loved this puzzle! Especially SWEARJAR (my fave), TREETOP (as clued), NEWDAD (as clued), REPARATIONS, SECRETKNOCK, TAGTEAM (as clued), SOLOACT and for cryin' out loud, I'm just naming the whole grid.
Tight, clean puzzle, polished to sparkling elegance. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

🧠🧠🧠
πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰


Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Fatima wasn’t Black.

Puzzle was great.

Unknown 8:31 AM  

I'm confused -- wasn't this going to be a full week of young. Black crestors?
Loved the puz; Friday tough.
I only know about Marcus Garvey from reading The Biography of Malcom X, and my recollection was that he wanted all Black people to return to their ancestral home of Africa?

Unknown 8:31 AM  

SNYOPSES fits for SPOILERS. I was so confident!

Hungry Mother 8:32 AM  

A bit queasy from all of the names, causing me to have a typo of ALITlLE, and then to doubt FLOWSTATE. I ended up with a reasonable time, so all is forgiven.

Hungry Mother 8:41 AM  

@Conrad: I guess I wasn’t the only one.

@Joaquin: I drove a bunch of deuce and a halfs when I served in the Army (1961-64).

Mikey from El Prado 8:43 AM  

Amen to this puzzle. Kudos to Erik for a fine and timely contribution to the NYT crossword. I enjoyed every minute of solving, and am impressed by its subtle message that Rex pointed out. Right on.

PGregory Springer 8:43 AM  

Didn't notice blackness. I haven't paid attention in the past to puzzle constructors, but this was so satisfying a solving experience, I will now make a point of remembering Erik Agard. Kudos.

Peds Doc 2013 8:46 AM  

Could someone explain the "Pop up a lot, perhaps?" clue and answer?

Carence 8:47 AM  

Loved this puzzle - also my first Friday solve! So proud. IMHO, a Flow State is a norm for
most young kids when they play. As an adult, it's something I live for but only rarely achieve.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Fatima wasn’t black she was Arab.

kitshef 8:50 AM  

@Unknown 8:31. Agard is young, biracial, and if you Google for a picture of him you will see he is definitely crested.

bocamp 8:52 AM  

Thx, @Erik, for this outstanding Fri. puz! Appreciated the battle and fought to victory.

Tough solve, but I'll welcome this kind of challenge any day.

Another one in the twilight zone for me, but did manage to get it right on a reasonable guess at 56D / 62A.

Lunch Poems ~ "Rita" Dove 12/07/17: "I can eat an elephant, if I take small bites".

"H.R.40" - Commission to Study and Develop "Reparation" Proposals for African-Americans Act

The sooner, the better to "Reparations" πŸ™

@jae

Thx for another skookum Tim Croce puz (Freestyle #583). 2L dnf, but overall, a bit easier that the previous ones.
___

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy for all ~ Good-heartedness ~ Togetherness πŸ•Š

Z 8:57 AM  

@rushscott - πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰ Congratulations.

The Marcus Garvey, if I’m remembering correctly, was the name of a dessert at Nine Mile, one of the best restaurants in Asheville (and just a hop skip and jump from Chez @Lewis). I don’t see any desserts on the online menu, so @Lewis will have to confirm or deny. Hard to believe that it’s been a year since I had a meal in a restaurant.

The fog was thick this morning. I didn’t have anything firmly in the puzzle until SCOOP. But that was enough to get me going. working clockwise I then had enough to confirm the obvious COVER LETTER, which aioli had made me doubt. Nothing really was that opaque to me once I had a letter or two, it was just getting the first solid toe hold that slowed me down.

Right with Rex on FLOW STATE. Ultimate strategists often talk about keeping good FLOW, not letting the disc stick too long in any one player’s hands, keeping the disc moving so that the defense doesn’t even get to initiate a stall count. No Ultimate strategist ever has described this as a FLOW STATE. I needed every cross for that one.

@Lobster11 - I think that was the whole point. Well, maybe not the “whole” point, but still a pretty pointed point.

@Guilherme Gama - 🀣🀣 - When I think of “spicy” mustards I think of Chinese carry-out.
Also, can I just call you @GG? I have to double check my spelling of “Guilherme” every time I want to respond (and besides, I’m lazy).

@Frantic Sloth - re yesterday- I found that comment so funny on multiple levels. First, that anyone thought you were serious. Second, that my feelings might have been hurt. And third, where was this person when others told me to shut up with actual anger. Fourth, It showed up on my page right with my silly extended how to throw a paper like a frisbee “lesson.” It just made me laugh.

Kafka said, “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” Erik Agard’s puzzles will be my fountain of youth, then, because the shine of their beauty never escapes me.
πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½ to that.

lukiegrifpa 9:00 AM  

Congratulations! There are plenty of us out there that struggle valiantly on Friday. Not everybody finishes it in four minutes like Rex. Now on to Saturday!

Nancy 9:01 AM  

The one thing I know about Erik Agard is that he'll never bore me. He may sometimes exasperate me, he may even drive me to drink, but he's incapable of making an uninteresting puzzle.

Does he always play fair? No, not always. Will someone please explain TAG TEAM to me as the answer to "pair of rings". Between TAG TEAM and SOLOist instead of SOLO ACT, I almost didn't finish that section. I also wanted nSfw instead of ASAP at 49D.

But I did finish. Though I wasn't in a FLOW STATE the whole time, what with the helmet guy's helmet and the RAZOR makers. Bevel and Oui the People? Whatever happened to Gillette and Schick?

NEW DAD, with its inspired clue, baffled me for a long time. I'm betting that @Lewis will include it in his list this week. Enjoyed this a lot.

pabloinnh 9:02 AM  

I thought this was a terrific Friday, just hard enough to make the solve extremely satisfying, with lots of laughs along the way. Hand up for not thinking about its blackness until I checked in.

Trust OFL to find the cloud in the silver lining. This is a great puzzle, BUT, why can't they do this all the time and why aren't there more of these and what are they doingany way and so on. The saying in these parts is, guess he enjoys his misery.

EA edits the USA Today puzzles and they're generally a tad more light-hearted than the NYT (low bar, I know) but they have some good constructors and are generally worthwhile.

Thanks for all the fun, EA. Showed once again why you're on the All Star Team.

mathgent 9:04 AM  

Fine job. It hit all the marks.

I didn't know that Eric Agard is Black even though I saw him compete on Jeopardy. I did notice that he had an Afro.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Anon 8:30- They all look alike to Rex. Yes, great puzzle.

Z 9:07 AM  

@Peds Doc 2013 - a NEW DAD is a Pop who is up a lot at night. Not the same thing as a NEWD AD, which I imagine would have gotten a Playgirl clue (look it up you youngsters).

Christopher Jones 9:11 AM  

I liked this puzzle and it was nice to see someone other than Nas or Ella for both a 3 letter rap and jazz artist clue. De La Soul was also a nice touch.
I am confused however with the "New Dad" clue: "Pop up a lot, perhaps"???? What does that mean, exactly?

RooMonster 9:15 AM  

Hey All !
A nice FriThemeless. Got stuck a few times in spots, but managed to Not let my impatience get the better of me today, and was able to suss everything out! And when I put the last letter in... Happy Music! WooHoo!

Had THEbeaT in for THE ROOT for a while, as that sounds magaziney. That got me ALTa, but that easily could also have been ALTi. COVERLETTER actually held me up, I did think that was what it was supposed to be, but I had a bunch of wrongness holding me up. Had aIoli for DIJON, india off the wrong aIoli I, and something else I can't remember right now (!) for NARC. So decided to erase that whole area, put in COVER LETTER, which got me to see RAZOR, then LAZE, then DIJON, NARC, and finished up in the NW corner. Had meTS for NATS, and thinking to myself, "The meTS won the World Series in 2019? Nah..." Har.

I once owned a BUICK Electra 225, a 1968. It was originally red with a white top, the guy I got it off painted it yellow, and died the top black. I like yellow cars. (I have three right now) It was resplendent in it's yellow bigness. :-) Sold it before I moved out here to Las Vegas.

Was deciding twixt FLOW or gLOW for the STATE, but figured PROF sounded better than PROg. Plus, it's an F, so... That was a new one for me. Makes sense, I guess. Had SCOpe for SCOOP for a bit. And OneBushEL for OILBARRREL held me up for quite a bit, until I again erased out the non-positive Acrosses, and saw the OIL BARREL. How much is OneBushEL?

So a nice FriPuz. Fun, sussable, neat grid. Good stuff.

Three F's
RooMonster
DarrinV

Lewis 9:17 AM  

@Z -- The Marcus Garvey has been a Nine Mile dessert, but I'm not sure if it's on their smaller menu in the covid era. I'll try to remember to check on that when I walk by.

btgrover 9:17 AM  

Very surprised Rex didn’t flag this as Easy. I crushed my PR today. TGIF indeed!

ChuckD 9:18 AM  

@Joaquin - my dad loved his Buicks also - including his ‘62 Electra 225 hence the deuce and a quarter moniker.

Tag team 9:20 AM  

@Nancy, professional wrestling has a “tag team” subset where there are two wrestlers on each team and they can “tag” their teammate to take over for them in the ring.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

@Unknown8:31
If only

Blue Stater 9:26 AM  

This puzzle contained an unusually large, for me, number of clues and answers of which I have never heard. SWEAR JAR? "Pop up a lot" = NEW DAD? Huh? The connection is *what*??? There are several others. Guess I've led a sheltered life. Otherwise pretty good. This one followed what appears to be a recent pattern of intense gnarliness in the NW corner, making it difficult to get started. I went all the way through it and got maybe three answers the first time around, but gradually it all fell into place until I had to go back to the NW and just whiffed, as usual on Friday.

Unknown 9:27 AM  

@ kitshef 8:50 I always assumed he was native Norwegian, from his name.
Lesson: never assume!

Karl Grouch 9:35 AM  

THE FLAG
By John Agard

What's that fluttering in the breeze?
It's just a piece of cloth
that brings a nation to its knees.

What's that unfurling from a pole?
It's just a piece of cloth
That makes the guts of men grow bold.

What's that rising over the tent?
It's just a piece of cloth
that dares the coward to relent.

What's that flying across a field?
It's just a piece of cloth
that will outlive the blood you bleed.

How can I possess such a cloth?
Just ask for a flag my friend.
Then blind your conscience to the end.


Thanks Erik, for reminding me your homonym.

Peamut 9:39 AM  

Little sleep for new fathers!

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

@Anonymous 7:37AM - totally agree!

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

My only issue is that DIJON isn't spicy. Also you are usually spot on with your youtube vids, but was really hoping you'd post the Burning Spear track Marcus Garvey today.

Newboy 9:57 AM  

Hand up for awe struck appreciation of Erik as is usual. Never achieved a FLOW STATE today, but more like that bleary eyed NEW DAD slogging room to room praying for patience (and quiet). That clue alone was brilliant, but crossing it with 3D.....words fail! I did the usual starts/STOPS like a commuter train on its TGIF run and finished in that brilliant northwest opening section. I felt almost equal appreciation for Rex’s write up.

Andrea 9:58 AM  

I guess it must make you feel good about yourself posting exemplary misguided and misunderstood opinions under an anonymous cover:

JBH 10:01 AM  

New Dad. He’ll be woken up a lot by crying infant.

Whatsername 10:11 AM  

Exceptionally good themeless but as has been said before, exactly what is expected when you see the name EA in the byline. Sometimes his puzzles can be a LITTLE intimidating for me but today not so much. I didn’t have to use my SWEAR JAR once. And thankfully not crammed full of proper names and pop culture like we seem to have had an overdose of lately.

I’m not a big BeyoncΓ© fan but I could never forget her superb rendition of the classic AT LAST for the new Presidential couple’s first dance at Obama’s 2008 inaugural ball. She seems to have the SOLO ACT down to perfection.

TGIF!

Jim McConnell 10:12 AM  

Totally delighted! The way one wants to feel from a crossword puzzle.

Birchbark 10:19 AM  

A good COVER LETTER is important. A good COVER LETTER accompanied by a SECRET KNOCK is better.

NEW DAD over TREE TOP is really nice. These days, the baby wakes us to a different tune. In the wee predawn hours, this old dad was abruptly summoned to start my daughter's car, time of the essence to make the early shift at her coffee shop job in Stillwater. Walking out to the outside garage, a low level FLOW STATE of waking slumber broken in way-below-zero wind chill. I turned the key -- the car started. I bade my daughter a fond farewell, returned to the warmth of the house, and placed five dollars in the SWEAR JAR.

jae 10:23 AM  

Medium. Solid and smooth. Liked it a bunch.

My biggest nanosecond suction problem was @Rex One BARREL before OIL.

Z 10:25 AM  

I’m not surprised that a very Viking name like “Erik Agard” doesn’t suggest “biracial” or “black” to people. Now I really want the next Thor movie to star someone with an Afro. Too bad we never got to see Chadwick Boseman as Thor. Or in a Downton Abbey reboot (because “Chadwick” screams snooty Brit to me). Ooh Ooh, a Thor Downton Abbey mashup. You just know a Marvel Universe PBS co-production is a sure fire blockbuster.

Unknown 10:30 AM  

Don't know which I love solving more, Eric Agard or Robyn Weintraub puzzles. . . They both give me a sense of relief when I see their byline, cause I know it's going to be a challenging and rewarding experience every time.

I got 13A: Pop up a lot, perhaps? (NEWDAD) entirely from crosses and still didn't get the clue till embarrassingly later, even though I used to call my dad "pops" when he was alive. RIP, pops!!!!!

Carola 10:34 AM  

Often I feel as thought I need to know the SECRET KNOCK to gain entry into Erik Agard's puzzles, but not today. This one opened up right away, and was packed with treats, with the NEW DAD at the top of the list, followed by SWEAR JAR. Speaking of NEW DAD, I loved the pairing with TREE TOP and the contrasting images of the baby rocking on the bough v. being carried around by a bleary-eyed pop.

Help from previous puzzles: IT'S ON, HAVE A GO, and MOOLAH as auto-fill. No idea: DE LA.

@BarbieBarbie 6:57 - I loved your remark about Midwesterners!
@rushscott 7:56 - Nothing to sneeze at! Savor away!

puzzlehoarder 10:47 AM  

I did terribly on this puzzle finishing with a double dnf. The noun/verb trap of the 1D clue went right over my head. I read "Plan" as a noun and never looked back. What you INTEND is your INTENT and INTENT is what I went with. I have to be the only person in the entire solving universe to not realize that the mysterious TIJON (spread) was actually the common DIJON mustard but when I'm blind to the obvious I'm truly blind. Seeing only three colors in yesterday's puzzle was a classic example.

This puzzle just seemed designed to pick out what I don't know. Marcus Garvey? Because of the word "helmet" in the clue I thought he must be a football player. I couldn't think of any football player with PLUMES on their helmet but the crosses said it was PLUMES so no problem there.

The crosses let me down in the SW for my other dnf. The 56D clue "___ Te Ching" meant nothing to me. Turns out it's a fairly common Mon./Tue. clue but I don't do Mondays or Tuesdays or even Wednesdays. Ching looked like Chi so I went with TAI.

This brings me to my most onerous mistake of the whole puzzle. I had Henry Louis Gates putting out an online magazine called THE RIOT. Obviously I've forgotten who he is too.

I completed a very white version of this puzzle. I had Marcus Garvey in the NFL and Henry Louis Gates running around Watts with an armload of VCRs.

If this doesn't prove REPARATIONS are in order nothing will.

albatross shell 10:59 AM  

LAOTSE from yesterday is named as author of the TAO Te Ching and is not boring fill to me at all. His name has transliterated 5 different ways over the last couple centuries. Laozi is the most recent. It means "old man". He likely never existed but it's a good story. Not black, but a person of color.

SWEARJAR was my first entry on the too good to be wrong style of thought. NEWDAD TAGTEAM took longer. Despite its appropriateness as a Black answer and the maybe over the topness of the rings clue, I am glad that sundae making crew in commercials of late was not used. It probably came out to recently to be used. It is a great commercial. But I prefer word play.

I can understand FLOWSTATE as an answer. It seems to have originated in psychology. Maybe positive, pop, or shyster style. So it exists, apparently not in my world. I do not object. I cannot help from thinking that if Rex had disliked the puzzle, he would have chosen to rail against it. In the zone is common and colloquial. In the groove. In the flow. Nobody ever said I'm in FLOWSTATE after hitting their 5th 3 pointer in a row. Am I wrong? Or does he only say that about answers on SMTW and not FS?
But the puzzle is a beaut. Since I was able to finish I assume many will find fault in it being to easy. Great clues. Several chuckles ahas and f%#$ yous. All good in my world.

One who laughs is always young.
Usually I'm with Kafka though. Not on this one.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Sorry, I watch a lot of sports....... a lot, and "Flow state" is awful fill.

Knitwit 11:02 AM  

What a great way to end the week! I know I’m in for a treat/workout when I see Erik's name! This was no exception. 🀩

egsforbreakfast 11:10 AM  

Haven’t had much time to comment lately, but had to add my two cents worth to the praise being rained on Erik Agard and this puzzle. I was definitely in a FLOWSTATE (which coincidently is a homophone for how native Tallahasseans pronounce the name of their local university), and I was at least as fast as ungreased lightening (or perhaps greased thunder). The blackness of so many answers was welcome and well done, but to complement them with enough great clues to supply Lewis’ list for the whole week made it one of the most enjoyable puzzles in a long time.

Whatsername 11:12 AM  

@Roo from yesterday: Enjoyed the car trivia you posted last night. I’d never have guessed the Chevy Suburban, not ever. And even as a two-time Corvette owner, I did not know that GM had skipped one year of its production. Good stuff indeed. And that ‘68 BUICK sounds really sweet.

@rushscott (7:56) FFFE? Congratulations! I’ve been doing these puzzles for longer than I care to admit, and a Friday sans a cheat is not that common an occurrence for me. Now you can start working on Saturdays. I can count on one hand the number of those I’ve finished SOLO. Good luck!

@KarlGrouch (9:35) Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

Swagomatic 11:16 AM  

A lot of stuff I've never seen before, but all gettable with the crosses. Definitely a keeper!

albatross shell 11:16 AM  

@ROO
I tried to put in aloli but couldn't remember the spelling. And in my experience you tell on, but you NARC out. So I was looking for something else briefly.

TJS 11:24 AM  

First possible fill was "swear???" and it brought to mind "The Committments", a movie about young Irish musicians wanting to become a Soul Music band.One of the families had a swear jar in the kitchen that I think the Father was the sole contributor to. They also had two photos on the kitchen wall, one was a Pope, the other Elvis. Great Flik.

"New Dad" brought to mind my weekend duties on the midnight shift for baby bottle feedings. Holding a bottle to a newborns mouth and staring into those eyes...wasn't always thrilled with the wake-up call, but the older I get, the more I treasure those moments.

Great puzzle. Thank you, Eric.

jberg 11:26 AM  

Lovely puzzle. My one nit turned out to be my own error --- I thought the SCOTS language was Gaelic, but no, that's called ... Gaelic! and is spoken mostly in the highlands and Hebrides; SCOTS, sometimes called "lowland Scots, is another indigenous language. According to Wiki, Scots and English evolved separately from Middle English. I always thought it was just a dialect.

If you know anything about Marcus Garvey, you've probably seen the iconic photo of him in the back of an open top limousine, wearing that plumbed helmet, in a parade through the streets of New York. But of course, many people today don't know anything about Marcus Garvey; I blame our education system.

I didn't know deuce and a quarter, but figured from the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coup" that it would be a car (I think the number refers to the engine volume). But I kept blanking on a car model that ended with K. Finally kicked myself, hard, when I saw it was BUICK.

HR40 -- good to know. Both Human Rights and DC Statehood would fit, too -- I waited for crosses.

Having "underground rapper" right next to "one-named rapper" was a nice touch.

FLOW state comes from this book. My therapist had me read it when I was in therapy. It's great -- the basic idea is you live in the moment and react to things -- the way starlings can all turn at once in a flock of millions. If I hadn't read the book, it would have been a tough answer.

I missed a few days here because my computer died. I had to SHELL OUT some MOOLAH, but now I'm back. I'll be fully functional as soon as Carbonite finishes its 4-day file recovery run. I guess it's a lot better than not getting them back!

Matt 11:28 AM  

This was an unusually pleasing Friday puzzle! I had a hard time finding an entry point, but once I reached a FLOWSTATE I was able to finish it fairly quickly.

Some constructors are real auteurs: they have an internal consistency and style that may be ineffable, but once you get up into their headspace the clues seem to come more easily and naturally. And it's a real pleasure to visit. (I contrast this with puzzles that may have many laudable features but might have a few clues that are bad stretches or forced constructions.)

Today's had "It"...really lovely.

sixtyni yogini 11:29 AM  

Agree. Agree. Good one in all the ways previously stated.
Crossword 🧩s can be - and this week were for me, a fun way to expand and deepen horizons. πŸ’₯
Refreshing and enjoyable - this week! πŸ€—πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ€—
Looking forward to tomorrow’s puzz.
And back to the usual on Sunday? Guess I’ll have to wait and see.🀞🏽
πŸ€—πŸŒΉπŸ€—

Masked and Anonymous 11:32 AM  

FLOWSTATE FriPuz.

Gimme Weintraub or Agard (or PB1, if he still submits here) every time for yer FriPuz, if there ain't gonna be no theme.

staff weeject pick: TAO (ker-ching). Only six candidates today, all respectable.

Breakin puzgrid news: Four Jaws of Themelessness! [insert gurgle of ecstasy, here]

Thanx, Mr. Agard. Primo job.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


**gruntz**

Joaquin 11:32 AM  

@Whatsername - I'm with you regarding BeyoncΓ©'s cover of AT LAST. It's probably the most current song I have on my playlist (if "current" is anything after 1969!).

And happy Red Friday to you!

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

That's because most folks say SCOTCH for anything of Scotland; the SCOTS don't of course.

And while we're at it, the subject of a Car and Driver report is the CAR, which is judged by a ROAD TEST, which is clearly not the subject, but the verb. In some sense.

@8:30
Ya better not say that to the Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) or his lemmings. Or most other fish belly white folks. So are Pakistanis and Indians and Oceania islanders. Hell on earth, to them, is the ultimate fate of miscegenation: we'll all look Brazilian. I even found that very sentence on the innterTubes years ago.

@Z/10:25
I've always been tickled when my fellow fish belly white folks get all flustered when a native New Englander of Blackness speaks the Queen's English. Turns out Black babies aren't born with the Ebonics gene. Even funnier is Black Englishmen speaking Cockney or, even worse, the Queen's English, mostly in movies and the teeVee. Idris Elba as Luther is wonderful. I never saw "The Wire", so does he play the stereotypical underclass Black guy in Ebonics?

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Not sure what they're talking about but I think Z and Frantic deserve each other.

bagelboy 11:40 AM  

slowed down had ONE for OIL. otherwise smooth. Erik Agard had a nice run on Jeopardy in 2018. some clips on You Tube easily searchable.

GILL I. 11:45 AM  

A nice Friday romp. I liked it all.
Learned a few new things like what geomorphology is. I'm really not into SOIL unless I'm planting some tulips that I manage to. tip-toe through. At least Eric makes the crosses easy enough to fill in the blanks.
I only know FATIMA as the Catholic title of The Blessed Virgin Mary. So now I'll add her to the revered woman in Islam list. SWEAR JAR was my favorite answer. We had one. The money never stayed there long since both kids would dip into it to buy ice cream from the ice cream man.
And speaking of ice cream.....today I'm going to put exactly one candle on my banana split to celebrate still being alive and having hope that we have a much better year than the last one.......

Barbara S. 11:45 AM  

RITA Dove

“How to find words for the human heart and all the emotions we ascribe to it? The path is a veritable minefield of clichΓ©s—those well-intentioned, once-fresh expressions whose very popularity has rendered them useless, even laughable. I decided to take these tired metaphors and deconstruct their camouflage, until all that remains is the true 'heart' of the matter: one human being, stripped of blather and artifice, speaking to the beloved.” – Rita Dove

HEART TO HEART
by Rita Dove (2017)

It’s neither red
nor sweet.
It doesn’t melt
or turn over,
break or harden,
so it can’t feel
pain,
yearning,
regret.

It doesn’t have
a tip to spin on,
it isn’t even
shapely—
just a thick clutch
of muscle,
lopsided,
mute. Still,
I feel it inside
its cage sounding
a dull tattoo:
I want, I want—

but I can’t open it:
there’s no key.
I can’t wear it
on my sleeve,
or tell you from
the bottom of it
how I feel. Here,
it’s all yours, now—
but you’ll have
to take me,
too.

oceanjeremy 11:49 AM  

"Pop" = DAD. "Up a lot" = not sleeping.

New fathers don't get much sleep, so a NEWDAD is a pop who is up a lot.

Frantic Sloth 11:51 AM  


@rushscott 756am Ah! You never forget your first! Congrats!πŸ‘

@Whatsername 1011am Thanks for the link and the sobfest that ensued, and with this next on the list my day was made and ruined in one fell swoop. πŸ˜‰
Time for my meds.

@puzzlehoarder 1047am LOL!!πŸ‘

One other note on Erik Agard and his Puzzleness:
Never used to note the constructors' names before hanging here, but his was one of the first to have an impact - and not in a good way. In short order, he became what I quasi-lovingly and tongue-in-cheekily called my "white whale". I just knew he was out there and my attitude was a paradoxical combination of excited anticipation and doomsday dread. Almost Ahabian, hence the moniker.
These days the dread has melted away (nearly - part of me just knows he's toying with us like a sadistic cat with a half-dead mouse) in favor of eagerness to find his byline wherever crosswords are lurking. This is because I've learned that practice makes not perfect, but possible. Maybe even probable? Hope springs eternal.
In short, EA has "graduated" from White Whale to Holy Grail. All hail!

@Anon 1138am Awww, thanks! πŸ₯°

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Anonymous 11:37- Rex is the one who called Fatima black. You really need to get over your Trump fixation. Thankfully he is gone. Please stop bringing him up. Thanks,

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Decent and relatively easy Friday for me. My only complaint is that 46D "Distinctive features of Marcus Garvey's helmet" is poor clueing. A bicorne hat is not a helmet. Not for Garvey, Napoleon or Princess Anne. I imagined Steve Garvey with plumes in his batting helmet.

egsforbreakfast 12:08 PM  

@BarbaraS. Thanks for the Rita Dove. Makes me coo!

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Attention to detail except when it doesn't suit him is Rex's M.O. For instance is he really a professor? SUNY (his employer) doesn't think so.

Anonymous 334468671 12:14 PM  

Could not be more contemporary and polarizing.
Please attack ...

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Scots is not a language. It is a dialect of English phonetically spelled out. Just as "American" is not a language. Welsh is a language. It is entirely different from English.

Frantic Sloth 12:19 PM  

@Barbara S 1145am Just lovely. Thanks for posting. 😊

Left My Trollwaders at Home 12:20 PM  

Dang it,

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

may be it is/was

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Gaelic#From_the_Middle_Ages_to_the_end_of_Classical_Gaelic_education

What? 12:40 PM  

Weintraub and Agard should marry and produce children who would fill up NYT crosswords every day of the week.

RooMonster 12:42 PM  

@albatross
Har. Aioli spelling. Try to remember it's pronunciation, ending in OLI, and then you'll be able to get the correct beginning order of AIOLI. ☺️

@Whatshername
I said it was a tricky question! Not sure what happened to the 1983 Vette. They did make some, It was gonna be the first year for the new body style. They made some, crash tested some, but ended up destroying them all save one. It is now at the Corvette museum.

RooMonster Responder Guy

jb129 12:46 PM  

I always love Erik's puzzles even when I don't finish (today) - but always enjoy the experience.

My fault, not yours, Erik!

jrstocker 12:57 PM  

I try not to look at puzzle constructor names so as not to bias myself going in, but was not surprised to see Mr. Agard's name after I finished it. Lot of fun, and being an old 'rasslin far from way back the clue on TAGTEAM (pair of rings?) I gave quite a pleased smile to.

Whatsername 12:58 PM  

@Barbara S (11:45) Thank you, thank you for taking the time to add that post! Had I not spotted it, I would have gone on about my day and my life without ever being aware of it. I’m now off to google RITA Dove poems so I can soak up more thoughts from a mind who created such a fascinating composition.

@Frantic (11:51) Re the sobfest ... tell me about it. When I went to copy that link I spent another 20 minutes on Joe Biden’s Medal of Honor presentation. Planning to go back and watch “Obama Out” once more before the day is over. Keep those meds handy. I may need some later.

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

Reading the comments here just made me burst out laughing at discovering my DNF. I share with @puzzlehoarder the error THE RiOT at 61A. Perhaps I was thinking "good trouble" and certainly TAi as a fill-in-the-blank for Te Ching was no deterrent to my mistake. Har.

But really, I was shocked, shocked, that this was an Erik Agard puzzle. I solved this in Robyn Weintraub Friday time (albeit with my DNF). Has Erik come around to enjoying creating easier puzzles now that he's a puzzle editor?

My disinterest in rap is common knowledge so it feels ironic that my entry into this puzzle was DE LA Soul crossing ASAP. Speaking of rap, I enjoyed the answer to 9D's clue, "Underground rap?" along with many other clues today. I didn't even get the coolness of the 3D clue, with the word "fine", until reading Jeff Chen and Rex. Very, very nice.

Erik, this was fun!

Seth 1:26 PM  

Beautiful puzzle.

I originally put in OneBARREL, so I had _eOWSTATE for the "in the zone" answer, and genuinely thought for a few seconds that maybe MEOWSTATE was something I just hadn't heard of. I kind of wish that had been the answer.

Eniale 1:29 PM  

@ttrimble yesterday- appreciate your comment Thursday about eminently gettable SB; I went back for my -3 and got them!

oisk17 1:36 PM  

Delighted to have finished a puzzle today after failing on Wed. and especially yesterday ( is it a true "fail" if I filled every space correctly, but didn't know what colors to use outside of yellow?) I knew exactly ONE of the songs needed to complete the solve - no way to guess, since they crossed each other. But enough about yesterday's disaster.....

This was a perfectly fine Friday puzzle. Never heard of Mary LOU, nor of DELA Soul, have no idea what kind of hat Marcus Garvey wore, (I know what STEVE Garvey wore...) but those were all gettable from the crosses. Well constructed, fun, saves this awful puzzle week for me....

And I could not care less what color the folks mentioned in the puzzle are, nor what color the excellent constructor is. I've been enjoying his work for years, and never knew that he was a Black man! Fancy that!

bocamp 1:42 PM  

Interview Clips: "In the course of making "Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind", filmmaker Stanley Nelson interviewed several people who were members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Garvey's time. Read transcripts of their recollections of Garvey and his movement." (PBS ~ American Experience)

@Rex

Wonderful write-up; thank you! :)

@Lewis 6:38 AM

So majestic!

@oceanjeremy 7:31 AM

Thx for the shoutout to "De La Soul"s "I Am I Be". Hope you don't mind my putting it in blue. :)

@Anonymous 7:37 AM

Wadr, "excellence" is in the eye of the solver. :)

@rushscott πŸ‘

@Frantic Sloth 8:10 AM wrote: For once the NW corner was the easiest section, which you might think is a good thing - if not for the fact that I got all cocky and had a rather rude awakening thereafter.

My experience exactly, right down to the "cockiness". πŸ˜‰

@TJS 11:24 AM

Agreed on the "The Commitments"; great movie!

@jrstocker 12:57 PM

Same here; then I try to guess who the constructor is, before looking to see. :)

@Teedmn 1:08 PM

LOL; I was close to "riot" as well, but my spidey sense forced me to whack-a-vowel, and "o" was the winner.
___

Had a beautiful 1955 Buick (white w/red interior). It had push button windows, seats, and even one on the floorboard to change radio stations. That and my '59 (baby blue) Vette ragtop are my all-time faves.

Every now and then, get into a "flow state" with the Cube; it usually comes after at least a half hr. of speed solving. What a surreal feeling – as if being on automatic pilot. It's like being in a groove and then some – ethereal, a good kind of twilight zone.
___


Late start on the SB today 🀞

Peace ~ Empathy for all ~ Good-heartedness ~ Togetherness πŸ•Š

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Total natick at 56D/61A. THEROOT/TAO vs. THERIOT/TAI. No idea.

Barbara S. 1:48 PM  

Ensnared by minutia (and this is surely at least as important as the color of hay) –

OK, people (and this means you, too, @Erik Agard), it’s time to get serious about historical military headgear. I don’t believe that Marcus Garvey wore PLUMES in his helmet, but rather in his bicorne or, in English, his cocked hat

Marcus Garvey

Plumed Bicorne

Plumed Helmet

The defense rests.

Barbara S. 1:55 PM  

@Anonymous 12:04 PM
I posted without reading and I see you beat me to the helmet/bicorne observation. I'm glad we're on the same team.

Blue Stater 2:04 PM  

Thanks, all, for putting me right on NEW DAD. It has been too long. Now one of my grandkids is about to "pop up a lot."

TTrimble 2:36 PM  

Nice Friday puzzle, and TGIF! A very smooth solve (bringing on a FLOW STATE?), with some pretty clever cluing to add to the pleasure (SWEAR JAR, NEW DAD = "pop up a lot" -- oh, I GET IT!).

A NEW DAD should try to curse less until he STOPS, putting A LITTLE MOOLAH into a SWEAR JAR as he or his partner SEES FIT.

One thing that's better when not in a FLOW STATE is an OIL BARREL!

@Guilherme Gama
The "spiciness" of DIJON is not a peppery or capsaicin-based spice, but is more like horseradish, although not so intense.

@bocamp
(And whoever else is doing the Bee these days) give today's a try. Much like yesterday's: very gettable.

jae 2:36 PM  

@bocamp - I too had a 2 letter dnf on Croce's #583. It was a long down in the NE. Great minds? I'm printing out #584 as I type. I'll get to it tomorrow in lieu of the Stumper.

Simpson 2:39 PM  

Got stuck at TAO / THEROOT, and thought it was TAI / THERIOT. Oof...

sanfranman59 2:57 PM  

Challenging NYT Friday ... 54% above my 6-month median ... AGARD!!!! ... another brilliant puzzle by the savant of CrossWorld

I blew this one. Even though I was quite sure of the TA_ part of TAO {56D: "___ Te Ching"}, I still couldn't come up with the right answer, and I felt pretty good about 'ALTa' instead of ALTO {52D: Spanish opposite of bajo} (close ... that dang masculine/feminine dichotomy that doesn't exist in our language and I will never understand since I never took a non-English language course in my life). This left me with 'THEReaT' instead of THE ROOT {61A: Online magazine co-founded by Henry Louis Gates Jr.}. Although I know very well that Gates is a genealogist (among many other things) because I often watch his PBS program, "Finding Your ROOTs", I didn't know about his online magazine (which turns out to have nothing to do with genealogy). Anyway, I thought he might also be a lawyer and since I think of 'THEReaT' as a legal term, maybe his online magazine had that name for some reason. Oh, the lengths to which my brain will go to come up with crossword answers!

This was a pretty typical Agard-challenge for me and kinda makes up for the easiness of the rest of this week's NYT puzzles. As usual, I found his cluing to be very tricky in spots (e.g., I really had to twist my mind around to understand the clue for NEW DAD {13A: Pop up a lot, perhaps?}). I had serious doubts that I would complete it, but eventually fought my way through. In addition to THE ROOT, FLOW STATE {29A: What you're in when you're in the zone}, RAZOR {38A: Product from Bevel or Oui the People} and RITA {22A: ___ Dove, former U.S. poet laureate} were the other answers that completely missed me. I also learned that Marcus Garvey had a helmet with PLUMES {46D: Distinctive features of Marcus Garvey's helmet}. I'm sure that'll be useful knowledge for me at some point ... or not.

"Relative difficulty: Medium"?!? Get real, Rex! Will your ego ever allow you to rate a themeless puzzle as Challenging again? I'm pretty sure that it's been a while. I vaguely recall a few rare Medium-Challenging ratings, but Challenging seems to have disappeared from his Friday and Saturday scales. To his credit, he did rate this week's Tuesday puzzle as Challenging, but I think that's quite rare also. I shudder to think what his grade curves must look like!

Z 3:00 PM  

@Barbara S & @Anin12:04 - Seeing your plaint I googled “Marcus Garvey Helmet.” All that came back was crossword answer sites. I did look up “bicorne” as well and the dictionaries seem to agree that it is a hat not a helmet, a helmet needing to have a hard surface.

@12:13 - You should realize that anybody teaching a college course can be considered a PROF. Not to mention that the whole non-tenure track and adjunctification of positions has more to do with a troubling movement of resources away from instruction than anything about any individual person. From what I’ve been reading if you want college courses taught by people with the “rank” of PROFessor, Associate PROFessor, or Assistant PROFessor you better attend a small liberal arts college, not a large public university.

@12:18 - There is a lot of debate about that but the “it’s a dialect” argument seems more rooted in anti-Scottish bias than linguistics. I linked to Wikipedia as a starting point, but let me suggest that if you dig further stick with linguists.

@11:38 - Seriously? @Almighty Sloth referenced a post from yesterday with the actual time. Seems like if you care you could look easily enough and if you don’t care you could skip our posts. Trust me, neither Sloth nor me or anyone else cares if you skip our posts.

@Anon11:37 - The Wire? Please, God, No. Let’s not start another discussion about that show.

@Gill I - Khadija, Aisha, and FATIMA are all important women in the founding of Islam and the two major sects. I’d say that in many ways they are of comparable stature to Ali and Abu Bakr and just below Muhammad in significance. For whatever reason, I saw lots of FATIMAs when I was working in Dearborn, but not many students named Aisha and none that I recall name Khadijah. But work with enough Muslim feminists and you pick up some stuff.

Barbara S. 3:18 PM  

@Gill I. (11:45)
Did you, oh so subtly, tell us it's your birthday today? If so, have a very, very happy one. If not, per Lewis Carroll, I wish you a merry un-birthday.

A 3:36 PM  

There's a lot to like in this puzzle but most fascinating by far is jazz great Mary LOU Williams. Here's a teaser:

Williams started playing piano as a child and apparently would play in her white neighbors’ homes in exchange for them not throwing bricks in her family’s home. Her mother only found out why the the vandalism had stopped when Mary Lou couldn’t play because of a broken arm and the neighbors came over to find out where the music had gone.

She played jazz professionally starting in her teens, joined Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy in Kansas City, and began arranging and composing. Her arrangements were so unique and well crafted that bandleaders like Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington began to call her for fresh versions of current hits.

Williams got into bebop in the early 40’s, influencing Charlie Parker, Dizzy and Monk. Then in 1954, she abruptly stopped performing. She converted to Catholicism, and, with what money she could scrape up, began taking in poor children and helping musicians struggling with addiction return to music.

Williams returned to music in 1957, composing spiritual and political jazz music. The first was "Black Christ of the Andes," in honor of Peruvian St. Martin de Porres. The son of a freed slave and a Spanish nobleman who rejected Martin because of his race, de Porres is now the patron saint of those who seek racial harmony.

Oh, and one of her later albums was titled "Zoning."

Thank you, Erik Agard, for including her in this well crafted puzzle.

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

@Z:
if you want college courses taught by people with the “rank” of PROF ... better attend a small liberal arts college, not a large public university.

were that such were true. adjuncts are everywhere: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adjunct_professors_in_North_America

adjuncts (often?) have PROFessor in their title, just none of the benefits of tenure track. in some schools, assistant PROFs aren't called adjuncts but aren't yet tenure tracked either.
"Some institutions require promotion to Associate Professor as a condition of tenure."
the wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_tenure#United_States_and_Canada

college presidents just can't manage on their meagre salaries, so hire cheaper help.

IOW, it's complicated, but mostly about the 1%-ers of Academia exploiting their hoi polloi. not a new phenomenon.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

@ Oceanjeremy 7:31
The De La Soul back catalogue is in legal limbo. From Wikipedia ...

De La Soul's back catalog has not been released on audio streaming services or digital media stores. Until 2017, it was owned by Warner Records, which, according to Posdnuos, had been reluctant to clear samples and renegotiate contracts. The samples used in De La Soul's music were only cleared for physical media distribution; the wording of their contracts is not vague enough to enable them to distribute the music digitally on unforeseen technologies.[17][18]
In 2017, the catalog was purchased by Tommy Boy Records.[19] In February 2019, De La Soul announced that their catalog would soon be available on digital services. However, as they were unhappy receiving 10% of the revenue, with the rest for Tommy Boy, the release was postponed pending further negotiations.[19][20] Hip hop artists including Nas, Pete Rock, and Questlove called for a boycott of Tommy Boy.[21] In August, De La Soul announced they had been unable to settle the dispute with Tommy Boy and ended negotiations.[22] In February 2020, Posdnuos said that Tommy Boy "sort of came back to the table, we are looking to sort of get it going".[23] In April, Rostrum Records head Benjy Grinberg said he was attempting to buy Tommy Boy to return the master recordings to De La Soul.[24]

bocamp 4:19 PM  

Question: does "dad" always take traditional male pronouns? And, by extension would the same be true for "pop"?

@jae & @TTrimble

As always, thx for the suggestions, encouragements and camaraderie.
–––



npg -30

Peace ~ Empathy for all ~ Good-heartedness ~ Togetherness πŸ•Š

GILL I. 4:37 PM  

Z 3:00....I have always had an interest in all religions. We don't have many Muslims where I live but I've toyed with the idea of reading the 5 Pillars of Islam - If only because the Islamic religions share some beliefs with Judaism and Christianity. All we seem to hear about are the radicals - Let's talk about the Spanish inquisition....! Nah.

@Barbara 3:188. Yes, today is my birthday. I have gained one more year of wisdom and sarcasm. I'm going to eat a banana split with a huge cherry on top this evening and share it with my husband of 35 year...You're welcome to visually share it with me....... :-)

sanfranman59 4:39 PM  

@jberg (10:26am) ... I can relate to your Carbonite comment and am glad to learn that I'm not the only one who's had that experience. I recently purchased a new laptop (thankfully, before the old one completely conked out) and couldn't believe how long it took to transfer my files. I've been a bit of a shutter-bug over the years and have about 50 gig of photos and an equivalent amount of music files.

@M&A (11:32am) ... Given your constructor preferences, be sure to check out The New Yorker puzzles, if you don't already. They're primary contributors include PDB and Robyn Weintraub, plus Anna Shechtman, Wyna Liu, Caitlin Reid, Kameron Austin Collins, Natan Last, Amy Lucido and the inimitable Liz Gorski. They currently publish three puzzles per week and, contrary to their cross-town rival, they're easiest puzzle is on Fridays, medium-ist on Wednesdays and toughest on Mondays. I've been working my way through their archives for the past couple of weeks (like I need yet another puzzle to do!). Good stuff!

Frantic Sloth 4:44 PM  

@Z 300pm Does this mean we don't deserve each other? Boo. πŸ˜•

@GILL If @Barbara S 318pm is correct and today is your birthday (you sly boots), that makes your sign Aquarius, and they are some of my very favorite people! Big surprise that. Please enjoy your day to the fullest - either way! πŸ₯‚πŸ₯°

JC66 4:51 PM  

@GILL I

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

I'm gonna drink to you tonight

Whatsername 5:15 PM  

@GILL: Happy birthday girl!! Enjoy that banana split and maybe wash it down with a nice Moscato. Cheers!

A 5:25 PM  

@GILL I. Happy Birthday! Enjoy that banana split!

@ BarbieBarbie, Instead of REPARATIONS or your ‘equal rights’ I plopped in minimum wage. oopsie (which I do say fairly frequently)

@Carence (8:47) and @rushscott, congrats on your first Fridays! I remember the feeling of triumph. And yours was a Rex “medium.” Pretty sure mine was some variant of “easy.”

@Birchbark, ‘A good COVER LETTER accompanied by a SECRET KNOCK is better.’ So true. Funny story about your daughter.

@jberg, sorry about your computer, and thanks for the reminder to back up.

Also thanks for the link to the Csikszentmihalyi book (bet he had to teach people to get in the zone to pronounce his name)! In all my adult years of performing I’ve only experiences the full “zone” effect once, and it was truly unlike any other. It was like watching the horn play itself, with just the occasional nudge to keep things on track. May have to buy the books so I can learn how to (not) do it again.

@Barbara S., thanks for the Heart to Heart. I said “Aww” out loud.

@Frantic, I love “the white whale” but I think you just coined a new moniker for Erik - “His Puzzleness!”

Nancy 5:25 PM  

Aha -- it's your birthday, @GILL!! I missed seeing it earlier but saw it just now -- right in time for cocktail hour. Like @JC66, I'll certainly have a drink to celebrate. Have a wonderful birthday celebration, a wonderful upcoming year and a wonderful banana split.*

(*Can anyone make a banana split, even me?)

oriordan 5:39 PM  

Wonderful puzzle today.

With apologies to all of you who have fond memories of them, Buicks have always been a sore spot for me. I grew up in Ireland where they are not sold and where no one had heard of them in the 1907's. My English teacher deducted a point from me when reading an extract from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" for pronouncing Buick to rhyme with Quick. "Hey, watch out for that Buick, mate" is the line if memory serves. To this day, they're still called Bwicks around here.

My second experience with Buicks was getting one as part of a package deal trip to Hawaii. I actually cut my finger on the door handle which, coupled with A/C's inability to give us any visibility in a humid drive and requiring me to drive with my head out the window, left me with a firm conviction to never drive one again.

Karl Grouch 5:44 PM  

@GILL I: many happy returns!

@Barbara S: thanks for sharing, wondrous stuff

oceanjeremy 5:52 PM  

No, THANK you for putting it in blue! I would have, but I can't figure out how to make links in a Blogspot comment.

oceanjeremy 5:56 PM  

Yeah, I actually put on a few tracks from YouTube and did some reading. Their whole career they've had legal issues because of the samples — even before the age of streaming.

I've had Buhlo͞one Mindstate LP/vinyl on my Discogs.com wantlist for about a year, currently it's selling for about $136. I've seen it as low as $90, so if it dips back down I'm going to snatch it up (probably with the next round of stimulus checks).

JC66 6:00 PM  

@ceanjeremy

Email me and I'll send you my Embedding Cheat Sheet.

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

I was hoping it was Meriam rather than FATIMA, as it likely would have resulted in heads exploding to think that the mother of Jesus was revered in Islam.

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

Anonymous 6:03- Don’t think many heads would’ve exploded as Jesus himself is revered in Islam- “ In Islam, Jesus is believed to have been the precursor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is also called a Muslim, as he preached that his followers should adopt the "straight path". Nice try troll.

albatross shell 6:53 PM  

@Frantic
Sounds almost like a logic problem but I would say those who like you and Z and those who dislike you and Z would all agree that you deserve each other. Speaking of which did Math gent ever give his explanation to his problem? I thought maybe the barber was a woman or the island was permanently sealed in Schrodinger's box.

pabloinnh 7:14 PM  

Oye GILL I-A muy feliz completesyears to you! May you have as many as you want, and want as many as you have.

In your honor I will have an extra IPA, and drink to the similar memories we have of school years in Madrid (Madreeth).

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

It’s my understanding that the vast majority of teachers want to return to in-school teaching. It’s the teacher’s unions and their enablers in the Democratic Party who are the bad guts here.

Anonymous 8:14 PM  

Oops wrong chat. Sorry.😌also guys not guts πŸ˜‚

TTrimble 8:29 PM  

@Anonymous 8:09 PM
You seem to be talking to no one in particular -- perhaps you're talking to yourself then about something that has nothing to do with the puzzle? Or perhaps you're trying to troll?

Of course teachers want to return to their classrooms -- but not at the risk of contracting COVID-19.

(Citation needed for any assertion that the vast majority of teachers want to return to classrooms even at the risk of getting themselves and their families infected, or for that matter risking that their students get infected.)

You realize of course that the decisions about how to divide between in-class and remote teaching take place at a local level. When the positivity rate reaches a certain threshold, the superintendent may mandate that classes move to online, in accordance with health advice and guidelines pertaining to that locality. Such decisions have nothing to do with the Democratic Party.

ThesaurusRex 9:06 PM  

Why are these not even challenging? It’s like a USA Today puzzle- waste of a paper

Babs 9:24 PM  

Anon 8:09-Wrong chat or not, your point is well taken. It’s also an example of why teachers’ unions are a major reason for systemic racism in this country, When public schools shut down, children of color are disproportionately affected.

A 9:59 PM  

Hi moderators, (8:09 et al) might've sneaked by? Regardless, thanks for your work!

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

Babs9:24- Correct. Online learning is a disaster for poor communities, Many don’t have WiFi and fewer still have computers or iPads much less multiple devices for families with more than one child.

albatross shell 10:48 PM  

I guess there was no systematic racism before teacher unions.

And online learning is a disaster for poor communities because they do not really have it. But if they actually had it it would be ... good... or bad? And if we eliminated unions we could eliminate racism in schools and society, but only in poor communities.

Got it.

Charlie 11:40 PM  

I got fouled up by one instead of oil. Got tag team but didn't understand what it was. Thanks for the explanations. Glad someone else also came up with equal rights, which I rejected but couldn't find a replacement for a long time. Helmet is pushing it too, lol.

Teedmn 12:13 AM  

I'm late to finishing the comments, but it's still @Gill I’s birthday here in CST, so happy birthday!

Dave S 12:23 AM  

Just wanted to give kudos to the 9Down clue "underground rap" which had me steeled to try and dredge up some lost bit of knowledge from when I actually kept up with musical trends until it finally dawned on me. An actual literal lol, if only a short and sharp one. Swear Jar and New Dad were good too, but that was the highlight for me.

Maud 3:12 AM  

I did too! Funny esp because tomorrow clues ERA. Also re tomorrow: I learned about the ERA a youngster from THE WEST WING which remains an all time favorite show. But though there was a great episode devoted to REPERATIONS, it wasn’t able—in its 90s context , with racist sexist showrunner sorkin who I am ashamed to love—to give REPARATIONS the same attention and credit. Or, quite possibly, I made that choice myself. so I was really glad to learn today that REPARATIONS have been introduced so consistently for so many years, and simultaneously horrified to believe that that was happening without it making its way far enough into the mainstream to know about it

Maud 3:20 AM  

Agreed! Still working on finishing those days on my own but I have an unreasonable thrill whenever I can manage!

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Just becuase a puzzle has black people as answers, doesn't automatically make it a good puzzle. It's good because Erik is good and interesting.

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