Self-help guru Ferriss / FRI 3-12-21 / 1996 book on grammar whose title corrects a melodramatic cry / Frozen food famously lampooned by comedian Jim Gaffigan / Hip-hop's Hussle or comedy's Russell / Nom de guerre roughly translating to bringer of light / Singer who lent his name to a brand of breakfast sausages

Friday, March 12, 2021

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SAUDI Aramco (38A: ___ Aramco, world's most profitable company) —

Saudi Aramco (Arabicأرامكو السعودية‎ ʾArāmkū s-Saʿūdiyyah), officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (formerly Arabian-American Oil Company), is a Saudi Arabian public petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran.

As of 2020, it is one of the largest company [sic] in the world by revenue. Saudi Aramco has both the world's second-largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 270 billion barrels (43 billion cubic metres), and largest daily oil production of all oil producing companies.

Saudi Aramco operates the world's largest single hydrocarbon network, the Master Gas System. Its 2013 crude oil production total was 3.4 billion barrels (540 million cubic metres), and it manages over one hundred oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, including 288.4 trillion standard cubic feet (scf) of natural gas reserves. Saudi Aramco operates the Ghawar Field, the world's largest onshore oil field, and the Safaniya Field, the world's largest offshore oil field.

On 11 December 2019, the company's shares commenced trading on the Tadawul stock exchange. The shares rose to 35.2 Saudi riyals, giving it a market capitalisation of about US$1.88 trillion, and surpassed the US$2 trillion mark on the second day of trading. In the 2020 Forbes Global 2000, Saudi Aramco was ranked as the 5th-largest public company in the world. (wikipedia)

• • •

Wow, I thought seeing right-wing ghouls in the puzzle was depressing (and it is) but seeing SAUDI Aramco in the puzzle is ... well, not worse, but still quite awful. All that $$$$ because of world-destroying fossil fuels, from a country whose crown prince murders dissident journalists while the world yawns and gleefully drives their cars. There's nothing to like about that clue on SAUDI. I'm not mad at the puzzle, I'm mad at the world now. I think I'd've gone with [Jamal Khashoggi, for one] if I really wanted to get creative with my SAUDI clue. I'm fixating on this clue because it is *conspicuous*—the only thing (besides that TIM guy) in the puzzle that I didn't know, and clued in such a way as to hide the oil angle. Luckily, when I first read the clue, I already had the -DI, so I could make do with an educated guess. But oof, on Friday, it would be great if the clues could steer away from horror. The rest of this puzzle was a jolly good time. Pretty uneventful solve. Here's how it started:

I stopped at I'M SORE because it's such a ridiculous improvised phrase. Not sure what to call an answer that I don't like but that made me laugh (and that I got easily so don't really mind). But this is one of those. Only other real Dislike in this grid was the definite article in THE LAW (although the cleverish clue partially redeems the answer, since the THE is absolutely needed to make sense of the clue) (4A: It might be laid down if broken). I had HOCH- at the beginning 5D: Nom de guerre roughly translating to "bringer of light" and thought two things. One: "How am I supposed to know this random German guy!?" and Two: "So ... his name roughly translates to ... Lucifer? ... that is interesting." I also wrote in PEP SHOWS (!?) at first, until I remembered the actual performers are called PEP SQUADS, and noticed that that put a "Q" in a first-letter position in the cross (a highly likely place to find a "Q"). Moving on:

Nothing much in the way of trouble here (except for that TIM guy, as I say) (39A: Self-help guru Ferriss). The "Q" gave me QUINCY JONES easy, which gave me the "J," which was all I needed to get JIMMY DEAN (whom I know only from the sausage). From here, it's pretty easy to get into any of the remaining sections. I decided I'd do the small corners next:

Toughest part here was the "?" clue that kept me from seeing REPO MAN (21A: One who takes it all back?). Not much of an impediment, though. Just went Y'KNOW to ACT NOW and then filled in all the short Acrosses up there. Long Downs in the SW were all super-easy to pick up. Love the clue on NIPSEY. Very generationally inclusive (45A: Hip-hop's Hussle or comedy's Russell). 

After that, the SE was a cinch. Couldn't see PURGE right away, even with the PU- in place (47D: Completely remove), but KNOTHOLE and INBAD took me into that section easily enough. Only trouble there came (once again) from a "?" clue: 51A: Get smart? (DOLL UP). Cute clue, great answer. "BRAVEHEART" is a terrible film for reasons I won't get into because we'd be here all day. Also, I have a weird, perhaps singular perspective on this movie, as I wrote my Ph.D. exams on the source material, and the same weekend I did that (1995), I walked into a movie theater to take a little break and saw a life-size promotional cutout of ... the guy from the obscure Scottish poem I'd just written myself bleary over. That was a weird weekend. I was at the theater to see "Before Sunrise" and got ambushed by Cardboard Mel. Anyway, the surreal moment of seeing my Ph.D. exam subject dressed up as Mel Gibson (or vice versa, I guess), is not the problem. The actual movie "BRAVEHEART" is the problem. But again, not gonna go into it ... Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:31 AM  

Some random observations:

• Nice to know that those JIMMY DEAN sausages have a VEG on the side.
• With just the final OS, I pulled DOS A DOS out of my brain, and if you asked me on a lie detector test if I’ve ever heard of the phrase, I would confidently say no.
• Oh, speaking of DOS A DOS, there are a plethora of long O’s in the answers; you start looking for them and they’re all over. (I counted 19.)
• With 80 Grammy noms, I guess QUINCY JONES has the right to say “IROC!”.
• Nice grid pair of REPOMAN and PURGE.
• Best grid pair, to me, is HO CHI MINH and his intro I’M HO. As in “Y’KNOW MOE, I’M HO.”

Enough rub to satisfy, enough cracks to motivate. Thank you, Peter, for a lovely solve and for all the fun grid tidbits!

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

35D- BEST line a disappointing film...

OffTheGrid 6:36 AM  

Totally agree with @Rex on BRAVEHEART. It's amazing how many really awful movies win Best Picture Award. I won't bore you with a list. The puzzle was OK and easier than some Fridays for me. SISISI was kinda lame but otherwise it was pretty clean.

Mark 6:46 AM  

I really wanted the Jose Altuve clue to produce CHEAT. Oh well.

Chaiminded 6:49 AM  

Cross words from Rex today as SAUDI hit a nerve

Marissa McCool 7:05 AM  

They really lean heavily lately on the a-adjective words. Afresh, agleam, aglow, etc

Also I’d love to read your work on Braveheart, as one of my degrees is in cinema and media studies and I eat stuff like that up.

G. 7:14 AM  

Way too many A**** words.


a lot!

Z 7:15 AM  

@Lewis - But I bet you have heard the Square Dance version of DOS À DOS.

SAUDI Aramco employs friends of mine. Dearborn has an unusually high number of people fluent in both formal English and formal Arabic, so is hot recruiting territory for them. One buddy worked for the school district and as an adjunct at UM-Dearborn. When he took the job teaching at one of SAUDI Aramco’s schools (private school for their employees) he got a substantial raise. He’s planning to retire to Cyprus.

HO CHI MINH was a gimme, although i don’t have any idea where I picked up that little factoid. The Lucifer connection was not one I ever made. Ain’t mythology grand.

ORE MINER? I suppose this is a logical back-formation now that we have data MINERs, but I felt the eyebrow arching as I filled that answer in.

The “famously” in the HOT POCKETS clue also made the eyebrow twitch. Warhol’s “fifteen minutes” has been reduced to “fifteen seconds and soon forgotten” it seems. I know Gaffigan, I don’t know anything about his work. How famous does one have to be to have “famously” in the clue? Mel Gibson qualifies as “famous” (I don’t think I have ever seen a Mel Gibson movie and yet I know quite a bit about him, even his religious affiliations), Gaffigan is not on the same level, so is he really “famous” or just “famous-adjacent?”

Anyway, solid Friday puzzle.

@Albie - Ding Ding Ding - You win the prize of half priced drinks at Z’s Placebo & Tentacle. (If you want to know why M. Shell has won you need to read the last few comments from yesterday’s puzzle.

Hungry Mother 7:29 AM  

I’m mostly vegan, but I knew about JIMMYDEAN. Tonight I’ll be stir frying Beyond Meat Sausage, onion, and peppers in my wok. About one-third in, I was thinking doom and gloom, but little by little I eked it out. Nicely done (I’m talking to the constructor).

Carola 7:31 AM  

@Lewis 6:31 - "I'M HO" - genius!
I'm with @Rex in finding the puzzle easy, as well as in being led down the same very wrong garden path by HOCH- into German territory; it took me all the way to the N in TURN TRAITOR to understand the name. Otherwise, the grid yielded up its SECRETS easily. Fun to write in PEP SQUAD, KNOTHOLE; liked AFRESH over SOAP.

kitshef 7:34 AM  

Hmmm…. Seems like you have to have a lot more in your puzzle if you are going to inflict SI SI SI and WOE IS I on us. Or all three of AFRESH and ABLAZE and AGLEAM. Or Y’KNOW.

Also, should have appeared on a Tuesday.

And most unforgivably, it’s little ‘rabbit’ FOOFOO, not little ‘bunny’ FOO FOO.

Becca 7:50 AM  

Anyone else have trouble getting a foothold in the NW? I left it untouched for most of the solve and then had to circle back...had only LEST and YKNOW and just could not make the rest appear. Made a fatal typo that had me trying to reconcile TEPO--- for 21A. Got there eventually but felt very hard-won....and not that fun to win.

Had same experience as Rex re: HOCHIMINH. Thought I was about to learn a fun new name for Lucifer.

Have no BRAVEHEART story but will confess to completely and unironically loving The English Patient, which gets a nice little nod in the clue. I feel like I'm the only person alive who still gets excited by this movie, but I can't help it.

pabloinnh 8:03 AM  

Found this one properly thorny, not helped at all by misreading "brief confirmation" as "brief confrontation", giving me ADO for IDO, which coupled with misremembering the Camaro as an IZOD, which is of course ridiculous, threw the whole NE corner into a jumbled mess. Took forever to see PEPSQUAD, but eventually the Q gave me QUINCYJONES, thank goodness. ECO is a hair gel? New way to clue that one.

Many years ago we had to get cholera shots while travelling from France to Spain, and when the doc instructed me to take off my shirt and turn around, I asked "Dans le dos? and he said :Oui, dan le dos", so my high school French finally paid off.

Never understood how that made all that sausage out of poor JIMMYDEAN, who did not strike me as portly.

Really fun workout, PW but I'll have to reverse your initials to give you that New England high compliment of Wicked Pissah!, for which thanks.

Guilherme Gama 8:05 AM  

Ah, Tim Ferriss, the lunatic we all love to hate. His book did help me to lose weight, though, so I won't be too hard on him.

Barbara S. 8:06 AM  

I found this puzzle harder than Rex did (not headline news). I kept getting stuck at points all over the grid and then somehow, mysteriously getting myself free by remembering something I didn’t think I knew or taking a lucky guess. My last area of quicksand was the SE corner. I don’t watch American TV news (except for the odd look at CNN) so I didn’t know COURIC. I thought ABLAZE was going to be some slangy synonym for drunk (it isn’t, is it?), and I couldn’t conjure KEPT TO. KNOTHOLE was also a problem as I kept focusing on elephants and storage containers in the attic. The acrosses weren’t much better. I got BRAVEHEART and OBOE (crossdom’s favorite orchestral instrument – although I wondered about horn and secretly hoped that Brahms had scored a tuba solo). But the rest remained opaque for too long. I think what finally freed me was getting HACK, which really wasn’t that difficult in the first place.

Today’s passage is brought to you by CARL HIAASEN, born Mar. 12, 1953.

"The lobby was in disarray. Clothing and toiletry items were strewn about, and a rectangular scorch mark was visible on the pale marble floor. The photographer positioned himself behind a cluster of other curious guests; some wore hotel bathrobes and were bleary-eyed, as if roused from sleep. From their conversations Bang Abbott learned that a man had walked out of the elevator and gone off on a woman who was checking into the hotel. He set fire to her suitcase, snatched a Maltese from her arms and then dashed out the front door. Nobody seemed to know what triggered the bizarre confrontation, or whether the man and woman knew each other. The missing dog’s name was either Bubba or Barbara."
(From Star Island)

QUOTER’S NOTE: BTW, in case you’re interested, the dog’s name turned out to be Bubba. (I’m not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed.)

Soozey 8:08 AM  

That was the year of the outstanding “Rob Roy”. Roger Ebert said at the time that “the wrong Scottish movie won”.

Birchbark 8:13 AM  

I used to stay at the Parker House a lot when one of our company's SILOs had a presence in Boston (SILOs are good specialty drivers if you connect them at the common denominators). The menu there tells us that HO CHI MINH once worked in their kitchen.

I like the @Rex BRAVEHEART Ph.D. anecdote. I was writer's-blocked one summer afternoon in 1988 in Colchester, England, working on a half-hearted master's thesis on Foucault. I walked the mile or so to the movie theater -- didn't see a life-size Foucault action figure, but did see "Rambo III" in giant letters on the marquee and knew what I had to do. Our hero helps Afghani Freedom Fighters take on a Russian tank battalion, gets impaled with an exploding prison bar during a breakout, then cauterizes his own wound while holed up in a cave, etc. But my favorite is how the movie opens: he's gone into retirement as it were, contentedly turning the water wheel for a remote Buddhist monastery somewhere in the mountains of Nepal, until the Brass tracks him down for a mission only he can accomplish. What a perfect way to forget all the words for an afternoon in 1988.

From the Read-the-Clue desk: I glanced at "____ [proper noun]" had _ _ UDI, figured it trUDI Aramco was an actress I'd not heard of, and wondered why I couldn't get anywhere in the Southwest.

RodeoToad 8:13 AM  

Jimmy Dean, the Pride of Plainview, gave the world this song. I guarantee you there's no other song that will generate more mind-blown looks on a 7-10 year old kid.

bocamp 8:15 AM  

Thank you @Peter; a very crunchy Fri. puz. Enjoyed the battle, esp. the NE corner. :)

Med. solve; avg. time, but seemed harder overall.

Started well in the NW, moved down south and slowed up a bit in the SW. Slowed even more in the SE, before moving up the east coast and running into a major challenge in the NE. Got it all worked out in the end, tho. :)

QUINCY JONES Greatest Hits Vol 1

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Jim Gaffigan's HOT POCKETS routine has long been a favorite of mine, so that was an easy get and made me like the puzzle right off the bat. Solved in just under 9 minutes--about average for a Friday, maybe a little slow but it was very smooth.

The only thing I really didn't care for was TURN TRAITOR--just seems like a crossword-y phrase that could theoretically exist, but no one outside of a bad spy novel would actually say. "Turncoat," maybe, but not

JIMMY DEAN, much like General Tso, seems destined to become more famous for his namesake food rather than any of his actual life accomplishments. I know he was some kind of singer/TV host, but I don't think I've ever seen or heard him outside of a sausage commercial.

TJS 8:24 AM  

Guess what ? Lochinvar and HoChiMinh have the same number of letters ! I slapped that puppy in there and sat back proudly to admire my genius. And I dont even know who the hell Lochinvar is ! Undoing that disaster actually provided the only resistance I experienced. Really was hoping for a tough Friday challenge, but this sure wasn't it.
To the Archive !!

OffTheGrid 8:45 AM  



Mike Rees 8:51 AM  

This one got me in the bottom right corner. KEPT at? KEPT on? KEPT up? Nope. Clue was spot on (pun intended) for ZIT but I couldn't see it, never heard of the gel brand, and KEPT TO just wouldn't come to me. Had I been thinking budget or diet I may have hit on that, but today was not that day.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

DOLLUP? DOLLUP??? Somebody help me.

Sir Hillary 9:05 AM  

This one fell quite flat for me. Here's what really rankled:
-- AGHAST + AGLEAM + AFRESH + ABLAZE. A quartet of these is at least two too many, YKNOW?
-- WOEISI, FOOFOO, SISISI and DOSADOS. All in the same grid? Seriously?
-- IMSORE, THELAW, INBAD, OREMINER and TRUETHAT -- all very forced, albeit in different ways. Does anyone really say INBAD? I realize it's meant as an opposite of "in good", but doesn't that mean you're not "in" at all? Same for OREMINER; ORE is a broad term, so would anyone identify themselves as such? It feels equivalent to Novak Djokovic calling himself a "sports player".
-- ECO, as clued. Yes, it's just one entry at the very end, and easily gettable via crosses, but this is the worst manifestation of "ooh, it's Friday, let's amp up the clue obscurity come hell or high water." Just absurd.

It wasn't all horrible -- the central stacks are nice, as are the clues for REPOMAN, ZIT and OHMS.

When we had BADASS at 1A a few weeks ago, I think I noted Chuck Yeager and Wonder Woman as people/characters whom I would describe with that word. Well, QUINCYJONES tops them both, based on his wildly diverse achievements and being oh-so cool. This whole album is badass, including his picture on the cover.

Frantic Sloth 9:11 AM  

I liked it pretty much, though not enough to blather on about.
You're welcome.

OTOH, gonna just sit back and see who takes all the little variations of debate bait (debait) Rex chummed into the blog waters.

Let's watch!


puzzlehoarder 9:13 AM  

I must have been having a bad night as I found this puzzle to be on the difficult side. No dnf this time for either this one or Thursday's puzzle. Being on a tight schedule once again I did both puzzles DOSADOS last night. This made me very hesitant to put DEIGNS in at 61A. As much as it seemed right I knew I had just entered it somewhere else. Oops that was in Thursday's puzzle. No permanent damage just an extra speed bump.

mmorgan 9:20 AM  

Good level of Friday crunch for me. Never even saw the word SAUDI till I read Rex!

JAWES 9:21 AM  

God forbid the right wing Ghouls!!

Mothra 9:24 AM  

Braveheart is one of only 2 movies in my life I’ve walked out of.

Nancy 9:25 AM  

FOOFOO to this puzzle! And a double FOOFOO! (Making it FOOFOO FOOFOO.) Y'KNOW, it should be against THE LAW to include all these HOT POCKETS of mindless, forgettable pop culture in a single 15 x 15 grid. WOE IS I, I'm thinking. I should know who lampoons frozen food brands and which frozen food brands he lampoons? I should know who lent his name to breakfast sausages? I mean, who comes up with this nonsense???

I prevailed without cheating and without causing any dents in my wall, either. But I was not a happy camper. Out of all the scores of puzzle constructors used by the NYT, I can remember the work of only a tiny handful. Other Rexites seemingly remember each and every one and whether they like them and whether they inhabit same wavelength. I don't. Meaning that I don't remember Peter Wentz and whether this is the sort of trivia-fest thing he's done to me before. But I think I'll remember you now, Peter. I'm never 100% sure, but I really do think so...

Mothra 9:28 AM  

Gaffigan had a great bit on Waffle House, likening it to eating in a men’s room that serves food, I recall.

OffTheGrid 9:33 AM  

For the 80 nomination Grammy person I got Dolly Parton right away off the L. Too bad the L was wrong. I had cOlon for slash preceder. Oh, well. BTW, She has 50 nominations.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Oh here he is, Rex is back everyone. Dear me, he ENJOYED this one, and still a) found a reason to whine about it and b) found a way to cram in how he's smarter than everyone else.

Pack it up, Mike, it's boring.

RooMonster 9:50 AM  

Hey All !
Same SE corner trouble as @Mike Rees 8:51. OBOE tough clue. DOLL UP tough clue. KEPTrandomtwoletters. Ended up spelling COURIC as COURaC, even though not knowing what ZaT was, but figured it was something, as also not knowing ECO as a hair gel. No Happy Music, so hit Check Puzzle, it crossed out that A, and gave me my one-letter DNF. And immediately saw it'd be ZIT. Dang.

Also agree with @Sir Hillary 9:05.

Did enjoy Rex's pic of "Tim". That's John Cleese in Monty Python's Quest For The Holy Grail, as the wizard. "There are some who call me... Tim?" Har.
The Bridge of Death
"What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"
"What do you mean? An African or European swallow?"
"What? I don't know that! Auuuuuugh!"
Good stuff.

MONO un-breakfast test clue. How about "Non-stereo" or some less icky clue?

@OffTheGrid 8:45
My brain hurts after listening to that!

Gonna add A STRO to the A list words. Har.

Two F's (Even though now FOOFOO is GOON.)

Son Volt 9:51 AM  

Not a bad puzzle - just not the normal stacks of wordplay I like on a Friday - so much trivia and things. Don’t like the descriptive CRASH in front of HELMET since it’s never referred to as that. AGHAST, AGLEAM, ABLAZE?? I hadn’t seen DEIGNS in twenty years and now twice in a week. Wanted CHEATER for 8D.

I’ll watch BRAVEHEART whenever it’s on - fantastic film.

Enjoyable solve - but looking for a more wide open grid tomorrow.

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

You see...Peter and I have a MENU problem. He might order up some HOT POCKETS with a side of JIMMY DEAN sausage and then take me to see BRAVE HEART after dinner. My response would be NO NO NO. He might SI SI SI me to death and even promise me a DOS A DOS dance after slipping me some PEYOTE but I might as well join the CAVE MEN in my Neanderthal FOO FOO brain.
Did I enjoy this? Let me ask MOE.
Did anyone else have DIPSEY instead of NIPSEY?

pmdm 9:53 AM  

8:56 AM: DOLL UP not DOLLUP.

Too much PPP for me.

Nancy 9:54 AM  

Well the blog so far is a lot more fun for me than the puzzle.

I'm trying to imagine what "a halfhearted master's thesis on Foucault" would look like and how it would differ from a wholehearted master's thesis on Foucault? (Hi, @Birchbark, 8:13).

@Sir Hillary (9:05) -- I think your comparison of someone calling himself an ORE MINER to Djokovic calling himself a "sports player" is spot on. Or should I say ZIT on?

@pabloinnh (8:03) -- We should have solved 16A together. You thought the classic Camaro was an IZOD. Now, I know my tennis shirts a lot better than I know my cars, so I know what a IZOD is and could have warned you off. As for an IROC -- What a ridiculous name for a car. I'm surprised they sold even one.

mathgent 9:57 AM  

Certainly not perfect. @Sir Hillary (9:05) lists its many faults. And yet, perversely, I liked it. 13 red plus signs in the margins. Some sharp cluing.

We do have a tax on sugary sodas here in San Francisco. A twelve-ounce can of Coke is taxed twelve cents. We've had it since 2016. I haven't seen any stats in how much consumption has been curtailed. It raises about ten million a year for the city.

Is FOOFOO a nursery rhyme recited in this country?

My mother used to say that she was getting "all dolled up." I don't think I've heard it since.

Unknown 9:59 AM  

Never heard of the singer Nipsey, but I loved Nipsey Russell on the 70s game shows. He was one of the best 25,000 Pyramid players and was also great on Match Game. He’d always end his appearance with a little poem or quip. Look him up. Funny man.

Ethan Taliesin 10:02 AM  

I wish you would start including your solve times again. Why did you stop??

Puzzle was fine today. Originally typed FLOPSY for FOOFOO.

Carola 10:12 AM  

@Birchbark 8:13 - Working on Foucault? I can understand why your efforts were half-hearted. But on the subject - some years ago I was sitting in on a philosophy seminar, in which the assistant prof, who'd hooked his wagon to Foucault and was on the cusp of a tenure decision, referred to the author's Discipline and Publish - which yielded equal amounts of laughter and sympathy.

GHarris 10:14 AM  

I’m with you Becca, but I think you meant to reference the NE which was also my undoing and made me enlist the aid of auto check. Reminds me that I m still pissed about the answer “owing “ for overdue in yesterday’s NE. Someone owes from the moment of indebtedness. It only becomes overdue if repayment is late (which was the answer I wrote in).

CDilly52 10:21 AM  

And a big amen to that, @soozey!

Bonnie Sue 10:25 AM  

I don’t think there’s been a right wing ghoul in this puzzle since Utah Sen Mike Lee on Dec. 9th. That’s more than three months ! Great work team.

johnk 10:29 AM  

"Little Bunny FOOFOO" is a children's song. "Little Rabbit FOOFOO" is also. So reconsider your forgiveness.
I had never heard of either one, but I hopped on with the crosses.

Whatsername 10:31 AM  

Not much to complain about here unless it would be that it tilts heavy on proper names. However most of them were gettable and yes Rex, I too raised an eyebrow at 38A. So many other and better ways to clue SAUDI. HOT POCKETS and SAUSAGE definitely passed the breakfast test. In fact they sound a lot tastier than my boiled egg and coffee.

New today: SILO as a form of isolation. Loved YKNOW, DOLL UP, PEP SQUAD, ZIT, VEG. and seeing DEIGNS again. IN BAD and AGLEAM, not so much.

Thoughts and prayers for those of you out west in the path of Snowmageddon. I lived in the Denver area in the 80s and vividly remember the infamous Bronco Blizzard. Been there, done THAT.

Unknown 10:38 AM  

Skimming rex's review today made me realize how nice it was to ignore him for a week.
It did make wonder if he drives an all-electric car or if he bicycles to work?
I'm not a fan of fossil fuels, but we're all complicit to one degree or another.
If rex is driving a gasoline vehicle, he should get off his high horse.

TRUETHAT? Dat was my one quibble! Haha

jae 10:39 AM  

Easy-medium with the bottom half easier than the top.

Solid with a soupçon of sparkle. Liked it.

...and yes there was an over abundance of A words...GHAST, BLAZE, FRESH, GLEAM, LI, STRO...

oceanjeremy 10:43 AM  

I greatly enjoyed this puzzle — except for the green paint of ORE MINER.

I solved at the same time as my fiancée (though we did not solve together) and we kvetched a little bit about the parts we both didn't like. I was stuck for probably around two full minutes missing only four squares:

1) I had S__A for 10A and __O for 27A ("It carries an added tax in Philadelphia and San Francisco")
2) I had "__O" for 27A ("Brief confirmation")

At the same time she was stuck on REPO MAN and ORE MINER, but did have I DO. I gave her REPO MAN and was about to ask her what 27A was, when I suddenly thought about how excited I am to marry her and "I DO" popped into my head. That gave me ORE MINER, and the rest fell into place.

I did offer a slight "cheat" assist and told her the answer for REPO MAN and gave her the hint, "11D is so much f!@#ing green paint," and that's all she needed to finish the puzzle.

I mentioned that I loved pretty much everything else in the puzzle and found it enjoyable, when she said the preponderance of A_____ adjectives grated on her nerves (as other commenters here have pointed out).

For my part, I thought AGHAST crossing with AFRESH was kind of clever. You know, lean into it! But then putting AGLEAM and ABLAZE on the opposite end of the puzzle (and not crossing them) really did seem a tad clunky and inelegant.

She seemed to think that crossing HO CHI MINH with QUINCY JONE was a Natick. Not one that tripped up either of us, but that might trip up some solvers. I disagreed, I can't see how the "I" there isn't eminently inferable. QUINCY JONES is ridiculously famous. Definitely a household name.

But we did shake hands on hating the heck out of ORE MINER. If you say "miner" you are by default discussing an ORE MINER. You only need to qualify MINER if you're discussing a miner of something else: A salt miner, coal miner, oil miner, booger miner, etc. It's a bit like qualifying "car" with "automobile car." You only need the qualifier if you're talking about something else — a locomotive car, subway car, cable car, what have you.

So I say "Booooo" to ORE MINER.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Poor Rex. So desperate for attention. He spends seven sentences of his review assuring us that he won't get into the subject, he just spent a quarter of his review dwelling on.

And he's wrong to boot. Braveheart is a terrific film. It's bad history, but it's not pretending to be history. And asking the film to do something it isn't trying to it is so bizarre and self-centered I'd say it may be peak Rex. Not that rex isn't always piqued about something.

Still, it's worth refuting his silly complaint, because almost no dramatic film gets the history right. History is complicated. Movie plots are not. The Sound of music? Lots of historic inaccuracies. more recently The Favourite, also a bastion of fancy not fact.
And how many times has rex waxed ona bout The Crown? That series may be the greatest pack of lies going. But so what? It's fabulous television, not a PhD thesis.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Anyone who quotes Hiaasen is OK by me.

QUINCY JONES??? Who knew? I'm gonna bet that's from his producing work. And the wiki says... not enough info to tell. OTOH, the IMDB entry sorta does. It looks like mostly production/composition/arranging rather than performing, which is why it might surprise moi.

Nancy 10:48 AM  

@Mothra (9:24) -- I couldn't walk out on BRAVEHEART because I never went to see BRAVEHEART, but I did walk out of the original "Star Wars". A friend at work had told me he had seen it 11 times!, so when I was sitting there, thinking he was out of his everlovin' mind, and hating it beyond all endurance, I didn't leave and didn't leave...until I finally couldn't stand it anymore. Almost an hour had gone by and I hadn't enjoyed a single minute of it. I've never forgiven myself for sitting there as long as I did.

The other movie I remember walking out of was "Long Day's Journey Into Night" which felt like the longest movie ever made. The morphine-addled Mary Tyrone -- otherwise known as Kate Hepburn at her over-emotive worst -- was not off the screen for a single nanosecond. One of us had to leave. When I realized that it was never going to be her, I realized that it would have to be me.

Tom R 10:53 AM  

I agree -easy Friday. But it took me forever to get Ho Chi Minh. I literally put in every cross (and questioned myself on the correct answers) to get it and still was just a weird long word. And FINALLY my brain unlocked and I parsed it correctly. Duh! My Aha moment, in a way.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

What a bizarre take on Braveheart. Even for you it's crazy talk. You describe William Wallace as "the guy from an obscure Scottish poem..."
Um, that's very weird. William Wallace is a national hero to the Scots. His memorial in Sterling is the most visible part of the landscape. And that landscape includes Steeling castle, itself one of the U.K's true gems. But the Wallace memorial stands taller, starker making it more attention-grabbing than even a magnificent castle.
Describing the man to whom the monument is dedicated as a guy from an obscure Scottish poem simply doesn't square with reality. And that monument was erected a century and half before you were even a gleam in your daddy's eye.
Maybe Braveheart isn't the problem. maybe you and your warped sense of the world is the problem

Pete 10:58 AM  

Yesterday a big, heavy object meant to be vertical went all horizontal on me yesterday, through no fault of my own. By "through no fault of my own" I of course mean entirely my fault. I spent 4 hours with jacks, prybars, a block and tackle, and just plain pushing and shoving to get it back to vertical. I then had to lift it up again to make and install a custom dolly so I could move it around. This was all way too much for my aged, arthritic body. Way too much.

I spent all evening saying "IMSORE" with the S being a rebus for "So F#$#ing S", and the laugh I got when entered IMSORE made up for the AGLEAMS,.. SISISI and other shortcomings.

@Nancy - IROC is the International Race of Champions, a bygone race series where all the drivers raced identical cars (a modified Chevy Camaro) to test only the drivers, not the cars. Chevy sold a version of the Camaro as the Camaro IROC. IROC is only stupid if you don't know what it is.

egsforbreakfast 11:01 AM  

@Birchbark 8:13. I chuckled at the thought process that might lead one to figure that the heretofore unheralded actress trUDI Aramco might make sense as being the “world’s most profitable company”.

If a TRAITOR is someone who has switched to the other side, shouldn’t there be a verb “to trait”?
Where’s Joe?
With the enemy. He traited us badly.

Glad that my first take on 50D (Common campus health diagnosis) was wrong. I just thought CLAP would be a little risqué for this venue.

A 11:03 AM  

Happy Alfred Hitchcock Day!

Just enough strangeness in this one to hold my attention. AGHAST I like; what is AGLEAM? I liked the clue for THE LAW, loved WOE IS I, SI SI SI, DOS A DOS, and especially loved seeing Brahms in the clue for OBOE. I did have to wait on that to be sure it wasn’t horn, since there is a very famous horn solo in the fourth movement. The story is Brahms was walking in the alps and heard the tune. In September 1868, he sent a card to Clara Schumann sketching the tune, along with the message "Thus blew the shepherd's horn today!"

Here is top-notch hornist and music advocate Sarah Willis being surprised by her interviewee, who asks her to play his newly acquired alphorn. I highly recommend exploring Sarah's Horn Hangouts.

Dan 11:03 AM  

Little Bunny FOOFOO was definitely the song that I grew up with.

Hare today, goon tomorrow!

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

@Bonnie Sue- Not true. Many of us felt unsafe when we saw the name Elaine Chao the other day.

CPG 11:05 AM  

See page 26 of this week's New Yorker for cartoon of interest.

Tom T 11:11 AM  

Not sure how (because I agree with many of the comments about unfamiliar PPP), but I finished this one just a few seconds from my fastest Friday ever. And it surely would have been my fastest if I hadn't done the unimaginable and entered "Queen Latifa" (which I had to misspell for it to fit) where QUINCY JONES belonged. Fortunately JIMMY DEAN came to the rescue before long. There is no defense for me on this one--but hey, Queen Latifah has garnered 7 Grammy nominations, with 1 win. So, I didn't get shut out! :-)

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Pete, Careful about who you call stupid. The IROC series has used many makes and models over the years. For many racing aficionados, the Porsche RSR used in the inaugural season is the true IROC vehicle--and its lineup of drivers--the best example of what the series was supposed to be.

Newboy 11:15 AM  

AGHAST today for reasons cited above by @Sir Hillary—usually Friday brings joy, but today’s brought groans when AGLEAM couldn’t possibly be another angst entry...but, of course, it was! WOE IS I indeed. With over three dozen late week puzzles Peter Wentz is a regular that I feel I should know, but I don’t get an automatic response to his byline as with many other familiar names. Perhaps that unpredictability is a trait in itself worthy of Crossworld Acclaim.

@Marissa you may have missed the link Rex shared to his thesis as he denied dwelling on BRAVEHEART. It will allow you to access Rex’s full take on two of his recurring rant topics via your local library. Just reading the title explains much. And seriously Rex, thanks for sharing the link. IMHO anyone successfully Piling Higher & Deeper has reason to be proud of that achievement no matter how obscure the data.

Guess today I will enjoy the blue skies and wait for what I hope will be a sensational Saturday!

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

D'uh obviously the Porsche used in the IROC series was a 911 RSR. In my defense on the the 911 gets the RSR designation.

GILL I. 11:19 AM  

@mathgent 9:57. All that increase tax on SODA did was to produce our ever growing nanny state. Oh, wait.... It paid for an advisory committee to tell everyone how to promote public health. So how do you tell people to stop going out of the city limits to buy coke?
Someday, I will spend time looking up California's highest proportional taxes, regressive taxes, use taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, parcel taxes, personal property taxes and, well, also the air I breath tax.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Nobody says TRUE THAT. It's TRUE DAT.

Masked and Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Pretty good themeless outin, what with The Jaws of Themelessness and lotsa cool names M&A mostly knew, and all. Ygottawonder, tho … what the FOOFOO were the seed entries for this puppy? I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess OREMINER wasn't one of em.

some fave sparklers, at our house: KNOTHOLE. WOEISI. PEPSQUAD. QUINCYJONES. YKNOW. Might be a seed in there, somewhere?

staff weeject pick: VEG. Goes nicely with GOV. Doubt it was a seed entry, tho.

Thanx for AGLEAMin good time, Mr. Wentz dude.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Crimson Devil 11:33 AM  

Good to see comments re Carl Hiaasen. His recent Squeeze Me is Mar-A-Laga sited classic.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

re: IROC

Show of hands: who thinks that all motor racing, with ever tighter restrictions on car specs, has turned all race cars into 'identical' cars (within each sanctioning body)? There was a time that a Ford was really different from a Chevy in NASCAR. Not so much any more. They're all fake bodies with the same profile, and the only difference is the grill opening, which looks vaguely like the one on a stock car. F1 is just as bad. Sports car racing, too (if you have obscure sports channels on cable/sat).

gberg 11:40 AM  

You are not alone!

pabloinnh 11:42 AM  

For those wondering what OFL's objections to Braveheart are, I suspect they may have something to do with Mel Gibson.

Anoa Bob 11:48 AM  

Thirty six black squares is high for a themeless and means we get a sheet-load of threes and fours. Hard to get much of interest with those, YKNOW.

I don't understand the continuing hate for the ASTROs. Yeah, they were cheating, trying---and succeeding---to steal signs, but isn't that true of most baseball teams? So my only criticism of the STROS is that they got caught! And the teams from which they stole signs are partly responsible for not being able to develop a system of relaying the pitch call from the catcher to the pitcher in a way that is "tamper resistant".

I doubt that JIMMY DEAN "lent his name to a brand of sausages", as clued. I'm guessing he sold the right to use his name for big buck$.

Wasn't there a famous olde timey folk song titled "The ORE MINER From Carolina"? I believe Burl Ives did a cover back in the 50s.

Nancy 11:51 AM  

Thanks for the IROC explanation, Pete. To those who know what it stands for, I guess it's a pretty sexy car name. Now, admittedly, "Mustang" and "Thunderbird" sound sexier to my ear, but then, what I know about cars wouldn't fill a thimble.

I went to Google to take a peek at the IROC. It's quite a nifty-looking car, actually.

Whatsername 12:01 PM  

Barbara (8:06) You quoted one of my favorite authors today. I’ve read every one of Hiaasen’s novels and used to follow his Miami Herald column. Had no idea today was his birthday.

G Harris (10:14) I was miffed about that clue yesterday also, and I completely agree with your rationale.

Nancy (10:48) I’m with you on Star Wars, so boring it was painful to watch. Never understood how anyone could sit through the original, much less umpteen sequels but I have a friend who stood in line for hours to see the last one. I’ve become accustomed to the frequent crossword clues over the years but still cringe when I see one.

@Anonymous (11:39) I completely agree. NASCAR in particular is a depressing imitation of what it was when drivers like the late great Dale Earnhardt were dominating IROC.

The comments about DOLL UP reminded me of an affable Kansas farmer I knew long ago who, when forced to get out of his overalls and put on a tie, would refer to it as getting all “duded” up.

CDilly52 12:19 PM  

A few wavelength problems for me, particularly in the SE. All I knew for certain was OBOE, since I have performed Brahms 1st several times sitting right next to the OBOE soloist. I was a flautist in a former life. Beyond that it took me as long to get that little corner as the remainder of the puzzle.

Not complaining because I like some good resistance on Fridays, and I got some. My only cringes came with the A-something words. IMHO, that’s just lazy construction, especially at this putative level (putative for those who think that the NYTXW has lost its credibility as one of the top daily newspaper puzzles). First of all, those lazy A-something words (along with made up Latin-ish “singular/plural words) make me see red every single time. When other than a poem or some sort of sacred vocal music have you ever heard the A-something words? Rarely to never, (at least from the 20th century forward) but for the poetry’s sake, I can give those a pass. Please, not in an otherwise great crossword.

And, for those of you who know about my dear, sweet, loving Gran, whose first language was German but had a better grasp of English grammar and vocabulary than anyone I have ever met, she agrees. Well, I know she agreed during her life and assume the Universe has heard all about this laziness when she does the Eternity Version Of her daily crossword and comes across one of these dreadful A-somethings.

I learned more about lots of things, but especially grammar and vocabulary and the relevant history The A-somethings are annoying and lazy. And if there’s one thing a solid German Lutheran woman hates it laziness and sloth!

Overall excellent Friday though, but c’mon: AFTESH, ABLAZE, AGHAST (not really a foul, I give on that) but the real stinker in the bunch, AGLEAM. Seriously, AGLEAM?!?!?!?!

I’m thinking that our very able, nay expert constructor Mr. Wentz was under the dreaded deadline gun to get the last edits done to get to press. So, because this is an otherwise wonderful Friday puzzle, I give it a thumbs up.

Barbara S. 12:29 PM  

My favorite part of BRAVEHEART, aside from ** SPOILER ALERT ** what happens to Mel Gibson at the end (I'm not a fan and was there on sufferance with a date) was the Scots warriors' blue-painted faces! This was howlingly inaccurate for the time (13th/14th century), although the ancient Britons, when battling the Romans (and maybe each other?), did paint their faces with blue dye derived from the woad plant. No less a personage than Julius Caesar remarked on it. Its use was perhaps widespread but I think it's particularly associated with Boudicca and her tribe, the Iceni, and the Picts/Scots up north. On espying the fierce blue visages, I may have emitted a little giggle in the cinema, only to be thoroughly shushed by my enraptured neighbors.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

@Nancy.......'cause I know you'd want to know.........
IROC Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z was a performance focused variant of the Third Generation Camaro. The IROC-Z was named for the Interational Race of Champions, and was initially offered as an option package on the Z/28. These cars received improved suspension, upgraded fuel injection, and custom decals.

Frantic Sloth 12:48 PM  

@CDilly52 1219pm What did I ever do to your grandmother?? I'm aconfused. 🤔

Z 12:55 PM  

@pabloinnh - If you click on that link in the blog you’ll see this: Remaking Medieval Heroism: Nationalism and Sexuality in "Braveheart" [The author argues that the film appeals to contemporary social values including nationalism and homophobia, by contrasting Wallace's masculinity and sexuality with the effete and homosexual English]. So, no, not Mel Gibson per se.

@Anoa Bob - It’s not the stealing of signs, which isn’t cheating any more than stealing second base is, it was the method - using cameras and tv feeds to get info they couldn’t otherwise have gotten - that has people upset.

@pabloinnh and @Nancy - Now I’m kinda surprised we never saw a Camaro Izod IROC.

@Anon9:39 - Huh, I certainly don’t think Rex is smarter than everyone else. Your comment does make me suspect that he is smarter than you, though.

@TJS - You really going to leave us hanging like that? Fine - From


O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.

He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall,
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”

“I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied;—
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide—
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”

The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,—
“Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, “’twere better by far
To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.”

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting ’mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?

JC66 12:56 PM  


I'm surprised you didn't comment on the AOCs.

Mark 1:10 PM  

@Anoa Bob - What @Z said. To put it more simply, they didn't follow the rules. They don't get to decide which rules they think make sense and which don't. But, yes, welcome to modern society. However, tt would be nice to think the NYTXW tries to hold the line. Or do you look at Rex's answers before you start the puzzle, as I imagine someone else does?

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

Anon 9:39,
Congrats. Z took a swipe at you. You must be doing something right.
@z, though I suspect you know this, Anon 9:39 is in accord with you. That is, he doesn't think Rex is smarter than everyone either. His was a jibe suggesting that Rex believes his thesis work and subsequent degree do make him smarter than the average bear. It's a common problem for milquetoast academics like Michael Sharp. The pitiable result of credentialism and, his case, a terribly effete manner. That's why he so strenuously objects to what he calls homophobia in the film Braveheart.
Rex really does think his credentials confirm intelligence. Neither does he believe homosexual acts are disordered. He is quite mistaken on both counts.

Bill Evans

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

DOS-A-DOS, not viS-A-viS. I knew VIS was not = back but sometimes you just have to throw down the black ink.

Nice job, Peter Wentz.

Birchbark 1:35 PM  

@Nancy (9:54), @Carola (10:12) -- Half-hearted thesis = the words are in the right order. Whole-hearted thesis = something beats there. Two-Hearted thesis = the author has given up and is drinking IPA at the pub.

Foucault was a jazzy read but elusive to write about analytically without falling into a loop of buzz words. I speak only of my experience -- others certainly did it well.

"Discipline and Publish" made me laugh.

pabloinnh 1:43 PM  

@anon. 12:43--Thanks for the info on the IROC-Z, I'm sure it's where I got the Z firIZOD from in my original misguided answer. (See @Nancy--I'm not completely crazy, at least not yet.)

Speaking of Z cars, a friend had a Datsun 280Z that would go at least 110, as I found out.

Son Volt 1:48 PM  

@Z 12:55 - spot on with the Astros take

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Top right of the grid gave me trouble. Dosados and oreminer had me scratching my head.

bigsteve46 1:53 PM  

The word "Saudi" is reprehensible - although it merely refers to a nation of 34 million, mostly reasonably decent folks (at least from my experiences living and working there for almost 2 years.) But HO CHI MINH is okay - although 130,000 or so "boat people" might disagree.

Personally, I have no objections to virtually any proper name in a crossword puzzle, although we could probably safely omit Hitler and Stalin. Although even those wouldn't bother me: they're historical figures and its only a puzzle, not a school textbook.

Joe Dipinto 1:54 PM  

@Nancy – I posted last evening that you should check out yesterday's Cryptogram. If you didn't look at the answer today, you might want to try it, if you still have the paper.

FOOFOO reminds me of Chuckles The Clown's funeral on "Mary Tyler Moore". One of Chuckles's personas had the catchphrase "I hurt my foofoo."

I never saw BRAVEHEART (wasn't interested), but who remembers a best picture winner by which movies it won between? Very weird clue. As if those two movies are significant in a way that will help you figure it out.

And didn't the oboe solo in Beethoven's 5th figure into a puzzle recently? Are they going to hunt down every oboe-centric passage in sheer desperation for new OBOE clues?

Well, it's Friday (like that matters) and it's sunny and warm out! Yeah, baby!

sanfranman59 2:08 PM  

Challenging NYT Friday .. 31% above my Friday 6-month median solve time

I moved through most of this puzzle in very un-Peter-Wentz-like Easy-Medium or Medium Friday fashion. But that ORE MINER {11D: One getting the lead out, say}/REPO MAN {21D: One who takes it all back?}/DOS-A-DOS {12D: Back-to-back: Fr.} mash-up in the NE probably cost me a good three or four minutes of solve time, including 1:42 at the end to run the alphabet twice and before finally recognizing REPO MAN. It didn't help that I had 'DOS-i-DOS' for the cross there.

The clue for HO CHI MINH {5D: Nom de guerre roughly translating to "bringer of light"} did nothing for me and I had a hell of a time parsing that string. I'm pretty sure I've never heard of FOO-FOO {2D: "Little bunny" of a nursery rhyme} or TIM {39A: Self-help guru Ferriss}. ECO {62A: Brand of hairstyling gel}, ZIT {59A: Far from a popular spot} and the TO part of KEPT TO {43D: Carefully followed} were a little resistant in the SE. We didn't have PEP SQUADs {18D: Court entertainers} back in my school days, so that answer was more difficult than it should have been.

There's an obvious error in this grid. As clued, the answer for ASTRO {8D: 2017 A.L. M.V.P. Jose Altuve, for one} should be CHEATER. Funny how his stats plummeted last season after his and his teammates' cheating ways were uncovered and stopped. His batting average fell to .219 and his OPS to .629 vs. lifetime .319 and .819, respectively. In case you don't know baseball stats, that's a ridiculous drop in performance from Hall-of-Fame-level to run-of-the-mill-journeyman-level in one year.

I love me some Jim Gaffigan. The first time I saw his HOT POCKETS {17A: Frozen food brand famously lampooned by comedian Jim Gaffigan} routine, I was, quite literally, weeping from laughing so hard.

There sure seems to be an awful lot of PPP in this puzzle. I'm interested to see what @Z and others have to say in today's comments.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

One of my friends in HS was a quality (for that age) clarinetist. She allowed as how she had tried the oboe, and pronounced it the hardest wind instrument to play. Why? It's an open double (very skinny) reed.

Whatsername 3:12 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (1:54) That funeral scene cracks me up every time. Few sitcoms since then ever measured up to that show.

Jared 3:38 PM  

I'm curious why Will keeps letting the cheat-filled Astros into these clues, especially the names of those who got caught red-handed!

Also surprised that you didn't mention this as a baseball fan Rex.

Joe Dipinto 3:42 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
DL 3:56 PM  

In case anyone's wondering, the abstract from Rex's linked paper on why he hates Braveheart so much reads: "The author argues that the film appeals to contemporary social values including nationalism and homophobia, by contrasting Wallace's masculinity and sexuality with the effete and homosexual English". I suspect one's reaction to that statement is a pretty good predictor of whether one likes the movie.

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

further oboe lore, for those who've the gumption:
- the duck in Peter & the Wolf (Prokofiev) is played by the oboe
- "why does my oboe sound like a duck?"
"The result is a loud, quacky oboe reed that is unstable and can easily be overblown. Give this reed to beginners and ask everyone to use a strong stream of air, and you have a gaggle of young oboe-ducks who can be heard for miles and miles." here:
so, I guess it's supposed to?

Joe Dipinto 4:12 PM  

Annnd let's try this again.

Musical twofer: One of our erstwhile contributors emailed me to say I'd been remiss in not calling attention to a certain musical connection in today's puzzle. He's right, my bad. So here from 1961 is the biggest hit by 35d, about an 11d named "Big Bad John".

Bonus: "John", in a somewhat different sense, also figures into Jim Gaffigan's justly celebrated "Hot Pockets" routine.

Z 4:14 PM  

@CDilly52 & et AGHASTalii- One of the things Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary often does is give example sentences. For AFRESH it gives four since October, 2019 from such places as NYT, WaPo, SI, and The New Republic. AGLEAM doesn’t have any sample sentences, but MW says it’s been around since at least 1854. Four in a single puzzle may be a bit much but individually they all seem as in the language as, say, DEIGNS.

@Bill Evans - Neither does he believe homosexual acts are disordered. He is quite mistaken on both counts. Well, at least we now know anything you write is rooted in bigotry. Thanks for the heads up.

Anoa Bob 4:14 PM  

What were the opposing team players, manager and coaches doing in the dugout while someone in the Stros' outfield bullpen was thumping the bottom of a large bucket or tub before each pitch? Eating PEYOTE? How could they not notice that there was a systematic difference in thumps before fastballs vs off-speed pitches.

So I say boo to those people for not picking up on the sign stealing and adjusting to it. Like when a runner is on base, they disguise and mix up the catcher's signals to the pitcher to prevent the runner from seeing what pitch is being called and signaling that info to the batter. Why aren't they doing this all the time? Are they so naive as to think that everyone will follow "It's okay to steal signs, just don't use electronics to do it" rule. Hah! Were they born last weekend? Did they just fall off the turnip truck? If they are that clueless then they deserve getting their signs stolen.

I wonder how many other teams were (and maybe still are) cheating and stealing signs and weren't (or haven't yet been) caught. So I say boo to the Stros', for getting caught. Tub thumping? That's the best you can do? What's next, smoke signals?

JC66@12:56 P.M., didn't notice Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the grid. [Enter emoji with smart-ass grin]

Chris 4:15 PM  

Not fond of the SILO / IROC cross. Never heard of the car or the concept. Could have been fixed with a better clue for SILO.

Z 4:18 PM  

@AnoaBob 4:14 - They got caught because other teams knew something was going on.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

If you would stop pontificating about Saudi Arabia,Mel Gibson,Breaveheart, etc. . . you might have time to comment on ablaze,agleam,afresh, and aghast all in the same puzzle. . . I guess we should thank you for not gushing about Ho Chi Minh, though.

albatross shell 4:23 PM  

NE was USINE for me if bearish means putting up a knockdown drawn out bloody struggle. It did not help that my initial entry for the Camaro was ttOp. I think they had one some year or other and it's common cwdese. Finally got ACTNOW and the OC was enough to fill in the IR and the key to finishing the puzzle. Also had to mentally go through the alphabet to get TVTRAY×GOV after vowels did not work. Did you know V is just about at the end of that list?

I knew the book WOE IS I so I put in eWeS before TWOS. Or do only cows low?

I wish I could say I had the same tbought as @Lewis about IMHO. Well I could. It just wouldn't be true.

I thought HO was a waiter in DC. Boston too or Boston only?
Maybe he was a bringer of light fare and drink.


I thought DOVE was a cleansing cream.

A 4:23 PM  

@OffTheGrid, @@Marissa, @Mothra, @pablo, @Barbara S, @Z - A wee jaunt to the internet yielded this nugget, found at

“Author John O’Farrell, wrote in his book An Utterly Impartial History of Britain, claimed that the film couldn’t have been more inaccurate if a plasticine dog was added to the cast and the film was retitled William Wallace and Gromit.”
the full article (SPOILER ALERT)

Had a couple of dIPSEY moments this morning. (a much-needed-by-me coinage - thanks @GILL!) Remember Sucrets, the throat lozenges? Apparently they’re hard to carry alone if your cartoon bartender is named Lou. And REPOJoe was my REPO MAN until I realized the french back-to-back would have an “A” in the middle. I didn’t know dos-à-dos before today, but now I know the difference between it and tête-bêche. I’ll be lying in wait for you, “head-to-toe: Fr.”

@Roo, I should pay more attention to Rex’s photos. I’d have missed good old Tim and his questions without you- thanks for the chuckle!

@CDilly52, did you notice the HACK OBOE? I guffawed when I saw that because I’ve known a few.

@Nancy, the blog is always more fun! Just today we’re treated to @Lewis and “I’M HO,” @Z’s Placebo and Tentacle, @Barbara’s quote, @bocamp’s and @Sir Hillary’s music links, @Frantic’s “debait,” @GiLL’s NO NO NO, and ON ON ON I could go. SI SI SI?

albatross shell 4:56 PM  

So a poorly played OBOE = an expertly played bagpipe.

I thought BRAVEHART was a bit on the emotionally manipulative side and the torture more graphic than they needed to be. Otherwise a pretty typical wronged hero standing up to overwhelming odds to become an inspiration for a people. I do not think the homosexual issues had much of an effect on my opinion. I haven't seen it in years. Maybe it would now. I do not remember it that well.

The astros: I thought people should have been suspended or kicked out of baseball or stripped of the title. Since MLB did not do this, I conclude they agree with @Anoa Bob.

Nguyen Sinh Cung McGuinn 5:04 PM  

Rubbish. Aghast, afresh, agleam, ablaze. Tim who? Comedy routines about frozen foods are "famous"? Where? Green paint dept. has a sale on Crash Helmets and Ore Miners. The desperation of the overworked Eco.

I don't care how many puzzlez you sentz,
Peter came and Peter Wentz
Pick up your moneyz and pack up your tentz
You ain't goin' nowhere.

Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom.

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

What bigotry? Bigotry against an action? That’s absurd and you know it. Better moral philosophers than you have reached the very same conclusion about homosexual acts. The worlds three great religions condemn those acts.
On a side nor, you’re a punk for calling me a bigot. And I’m quite sure you wouldn’t have the courage, moral or physical, to do so to my face.

Bill Evans

JC66 5:18 PM  


I hope you know I was joking.

Whatsername 5:35 PM  

For the Carl Hiaasen fans among us, his 67th birthday today also marks his last as a columnist with the Miami Herald. His final signoff: Let’s get it over with.

William Mckenzie 6:43 PM  

Ore Miners is horrible.

A 7:03 PM  

@albatross, you nailed it! Although the pipes have more reeds. Loved your "a bringer of light fare and drink" comment, too.

@Whatsername, thanks for that link. Now I want to read more Hiaasen. His attitude reminds me of Molly Ivins, who kept the Texas legislature licking their wounds.

Anoa Bob 7:08 PM  


So was I!

pabloinnh 7:14 PM  

@A-That's just a hilarious quote from John O'Farrell about BRAVEHEART, for which thanks, but I still have my doubts that OFL and Mr. Gibson would ever be besties.

@Hiassen lovers- Me too, and I need to catch up with his later stuff. Been too long.

Barbara S. 7:17 PM  

Wow, who knew this particular birthday of Hiaasen's was going to be such a milestone -- thanks for posting that link. I hope he enjoys his retirement from the paper and uses it to write more novels that draw on that "unrelenting weirdness". Huzzah to all the Hiaasen fans out there!

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

@Z, Mark, Son Volt, Michiganman: LOL

JBB94956 7:23 PM  

Sloppy on Meryl Streep - she did not attend Yale College, she attended Yale University as a graduate student. An actor of similar standing would be Jodie Foster who did attend Yale College.

JC66 7:29 PM  



(All I know about crossword construction is limited to what I've learned on this blog.)

Teedmn 7:31 PM  

@A 4:23, “William Wallace and Gromit” is a fabulous find and the article was pretty good.

@Whatsername 5:35, thanks for the Hiaasen update. I have only read one of his books, can’t remember the name; it was a book I found on the shelves of the resort I was staying at on Roatan, Honduras. He has such a great sense of the absurd which seems a necessity if you're going to try to depict Florida.

Nancy 8:26 PM  

*CRYPTOGRAM ALERT* You are so thoughtful, @Joe D, and you're absolutely right: It was a Cryptogram aimed right between my eyebrows. Unfortunately due to (finally, finally) fabulous weather the last two days. I never saw either of your posts -- not before inadvertently seeing the first and last name in question today while doing today's puzzle. I managed to avoid seeing any of the rest of the quote, and the name alone made me want to do the Cryptogram (which I'd quickly given up on yesterday). I resolved to do it while ignoring the name and focusing elsewhere. I picked the point of attack, the same as yesterday: the very odd FF word. And, like yesterday, I ran the alphabet. Only today, when I got to "I"...

You were so nice, Joe, and I'm so sorry I didn't see your alert earlier. Not that I'm at all sure I would have solved it without knowing that name. But I'm thinking of emailing WS and begging him to print the answer to the previous day's puzzle upside down. How hard can that be? This sort of thing happens to me all the time.

Also, Joe, it was wonderful seeing that Chuckles the Clown episode again. I'd completely forgotten the FOOFOO thing. No matter how often I've seen it, I can never watch it without laughing until my ribs hurt. It is unquestionably the funniest sitcom episode in TV history. You think that's hyperbole? I challenge anyone here to watch it and then find me a funnier one.


Monty Boy 10:38 PM  

For those Hiaasen fans, Frazz has a great series starting with:


Robin 10:53 PM  

I wasn't angry abut BRAVEHEART winning Best Picture despite being a bad movie. (And I still refuse to watch whenever it shows up on whatever channel selection I am perusing.)

I was angry because Babe was such a much better movie.

kitshef 11:36 PM  

@johnk 10:29 - not sure if your comment was addressed to me, but I am guessing so.

Things I have learned over the past 50 years are mutable. New information comes out, or old information that I did not know of comes to my attention, so what I know - or what I think I know - changes over time.

But ... things that I learned when I was seven years old are IMMUTABLE and PERMANENT, so it will always be little "rabbit" foofoo, until the end of time.

kitshef 12:01 AM  

@Nancy 8:26pm - Humor is such a quirky, individual thing, so agreement on the funniest anything will be hard to come by. Some nominations:
Episode 4 of season 4 of The Simpsons: Lisa the Beauty Queen
Episode 4 of season 6 of Friends: The One Where Joey Loses His Insurance
Episode 6 of Fawlty Towers: The Germans
Episode 10 of Father Ted: Flight into Terror

Anonymous 12:03 AM  

Before the sausages, Jimmy Dean was famous for his crossover hit Big Bad John. The song was about a stoic, heroic ore miner.

Lt. Kije 12:19 AM  

I work in renewable energy so I’m no fossil fuel lover, but c’mon, there’s nothing wrong with the SAUDI Aramco clue. The world’s most profitable company is useful trivia to know, and whether you like it or not if you drive a car or fly in a plane then you’re supporting their business. Seems puzzle-worthy to me.

VancouverNana 2:35 AM  

Me too!

Bob Mills 8:10 AM  

Rex, you're commenting on a crossword puzzle, not a political speech. I don't like the Saudis either, but they're part of the world. Why must a crossword answer conform to your political agenda?

thefogman 11:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
spacecraft 11:56 AM  

There goes OFC again, ranting about something that's INBAD with him even though it's a mere entry in a puzzle. The man is not asking you to love 'em, dude! And besides, all that angst over SAUDI and nary a word about HOCHIMINH??? I mean, if he's not a target for ya, who is?

Also, you said "easy" again. Grrr! Many adjectives may apply to this one; "easy" is NOT one of them. For starters, will someone explain how an opening on a trunk gets to be KNOTHOLE?? That clue is simply way over my head. I, of course, had nostrils.

Hand up for (or against!) the A-quartet, and the baby-talk FOOFOO and SISISI. Oh, and definitely 36-down. If you're gonna say it, say it like you SAY it.

We award DOD to Katie COURIC, who in addition to working for all those networks--and even PBS for her charming appearances on "Sesame Street"--has been the best of Jeopardy!'s guest hosts since Mr. Trebek's sad passing.

I got it done, somehow, but it was a struggle. Boatloads of triumph points, but too much PPP and iffy fill. Par.

Burma Shave 1:12 PM  


has SECRETS KEPT in her closets -
ABLAZE TO ACT in BAD affairs -


Diana, LIW 2:04 PM  

WOEISI is one of my favorite grammar books - I used it in my course on learning for adults. (Along with Easy Writer)

This Friday played like a Tuesday for me. Didn't even have to ask Lambo any questions. Asked Mr. W some sports questions, but he didn't have the answers, so I did not end up "cheating."

I'm in agreement with @Rondo from the other day, and have taken a long hiatus from reading the big critique up top. Angry about "IMSORE." Get a life!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting

PS - @Spacey - trees have knot holes where a "knot" in the wood has fallen out - they even show up in the wooden planks made from trees.

thefogman 3:07 PM  

Not easy for me. Medium.

Rex said: I stopped at I'M SORE because it's such a ridiculous improvised phrase. Not sure what to call an answer that I don't like but that made me laugh (and that I got easily so don't really mind). But this is one of those.

There were plenty of those sweet-and-sour types of clues and answers which you made you both curse and laugh at the same time. Maybe they should be called (Pete) Dyckmans after the snotty smart alec character from Mad Men. He had a very punchable face but was someone you looked forward to watching anyways because of his oh-so-entertaining and devious maneouverings. Other notables incude King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, Thomas Barrow from Downton Abbey and George Warleggen from Poldark. All snivelling punks you love to hate.

Jokr22 3:52 PM  

“right wing ghouls”, sigh. Must embrace diversity in everything except opinion...

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