G.I. pal of Forrest Gump / FRI 7-23-21 / Crystal gazer's lead-in / Classic hit that begins My friends feel it's their appointed duty / Elusive thing for a popular show / Oversize letter at the beginning of a chapter

Friday, July 23, 2021

Constructor: Michael Hawkins

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: HOBART (41A: Tasmania's capital) —
 (/ˈhbɑːrt/ [...] is the capital and most populous city of the Australian island state of Tasmania. Home to almost half of all Tasmanians, it is the least populated Australian state capital city, and second smallest if territories are taken into account, after DarwinNorthern Territory. Hobart is located in Tasmania's south-east on the estuary of the River Derwent, making it the most southern of Australia's capital cities. Its skyline is dominated by the 1,271-metre (4,170 ft) kunanyi/Mount Wellington, and its harbour forms the second-deepest natural port in the world, with much of the city's waterfront consisting of reclaimed land. The metropolitan area is often referred to as Greater Hobart, to differentiate it from the City of Hobart, one of the five local government areas that cover the city. It has a mild maritime climate. [...] Founded in 1804 as a British penal colony, Hobart is Australia's second oldest capital city after SydneyNew South WalesWhaling quickly emerged as a major industry in the area, and for a time Hobart served as the Southern Ocean's main whaling port. Penal transportation ended in the 1850s, after which the city experienced periods of growth and decline. The early 20th century saw an economic boom on the back of mining, agriculture and other primary industries, and the loss of men who served in the world wars was counteracted by an influx of immigration. Despite the rise in migration from Asia and other non-English speaking regions, Hobart's population remains predominantly ethnically Anglo-Celtic, and has the highest percentage of Australian-born residents among Australia's capital cities. (wikipedia)
• • •

Maybe this would've flowed more nicely if I'd been able to mentally process 15A: Country without an official army, navy or air force (COSTA RICA). I thought the clue wanted a general term for such a country ... not an actual country. If the clue had had "Central American" in it or really anything in it to specify that a specific country was in play, I would've gotten it easily. I've been to COSTA RICA, I know it has no army. But I figured there must be a general term. And since the only other things I could conjure up in that NW corner were CCED and DAMUP and ERE (and I was not at all sure of those first two), this thing opened feeling sluggish, Saturdayish, meh. Jumped over to the NE where I read a bunch more clues I didn't know before seeing NOIRE and then getting ERASE TESS ISEE, and I was in business. Still, I never felt like I got a rhythm going in this one, never really felt like I hit a good patch. There was no thrill to this one. Bunch of solid stuff, but no real marquee answers. No wows. And it just didn't have bounce. This is a cluing voice problem that is, I'm sure, largely a matter of taste. Felt like it was trying to be hard in many places, but its idea of clever was rarely mine. That SNL clue, for instance, yeesh (10D: Letters that can fill in the blanks of "_A_D_ER" to make an appropriate surname). Poker slang? There's nothing I'd enjoy less, thanks (43A: TNT, in poker slang) (tbh, I didn't see this clue at all, so that's good). This puzzle wanted to Cliff Clavin me with trivia and tell me riddles and jokes out of a book and honestly I just want light and witty conversation, puzzle. 

[Maze runner] is a pretty good MINOTAUR clue. [Sixers in pro sports?] for TDS, also good. But a clue like the one for STAGE MOM feels like a swing and a miss (21D: One who knows the drama of raising children?)—I think of STAGE MOMs as ones who (***stereotypically***) create the (usually unnecessary) drama. Overbearing, overpresent, hovering, demanding. The term has a negative connotation that the clue doesn't catch. There is a difference between *knowing* the drama and *being* the drama. LAZY RIVER seems like a nice thing, but the water park (???) clue kills it. I got it easily enough, I guess, but LAZY RIVER just doesn't seem iconically water parky (admittedly, water parks are not places I would voluntarily go these days). Too often today (my beloved Friday!), I was either struggling to understand the clue or not really feeling the clue's whole vibe.

I liked RIDESHARE, though the "?" clue on it was deadening (12D: Pool service?). Big fan of DROPCAPs in general, and "NICE CATCH!" is probably the snazziest, most delightful thing in the grid. If it involved books, editing, poetry (METERED!) today, I was generally on board. I don't understand why the NE and SW corners are so weak in their short fill. Actually, what I don't understand is LTDAN and YENTE, the one a secondary character from a movie I've tried really hard to forget for the past quarter century, the other ... honestly, I just don't understand the spelling, I think. It's enough for me to keep YENTL and YENTA straight, but I've got YENTE too? (she's a character in "Fiddler on the Roof"). Looks like YENTA and YENTE are girl's names, YENTL is a girl *or* boy's name (as well as a Barbra Streisand movie), and YENTA is the only one of those that has become a regular English loan word (meaning, roughly, "busybody" or "gossip"). Anyway, if you needed YENTE in your grid, sure, you could use YENTE, but under SIDEA and SLIER, with that ambiguous last vowel, it just doesn't liven things up much. It just felt so anticlimactic to end down there, to have the last thing you fill in be ARE (60D: =) because you were not sure of the last vowel in YENTE, which is itself buried under a pile of overfamiliar stuff. When the highlights of a puzzle are very high, when it crackles and sizzles, swoops and spins, I tend not to notice little problems with the 4s and the 5s. But today, my brain didn't have those highs to enjoy, so it found something else to gnaw on. The Friday bar is So High now that there are close to half a dozen constructors I can name off the top of my head who routinely crush Fridays. Software plus the wordlist arms race means that putting together passable themeless grids isn't so hard any more. You need style, personality, verve. Computer power will get you to "serviceable." You need more. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. REMINDER: the Boswords Crossword Tournament is *this weekend* (July 25). Here's the announcement from tournament organizer John Lieb:
Registration is now open for the Boswords 2021 Summer Tournament, which will be held on Sunday, July 25. This event will be ONLINE only. Solvers can compete individually or in pairs. To register, to see the constructor roster, and for more details, go to www.boswords.org, where past tournament puzzles are also available for purchase.
A percentage of the proceeds goes to local Boston charities. There are cool constructors involved, like Malaika Handa and Wyna Liu. You should definitely check it out.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 6:46 AM  

Seemed to take forever to establish a toehold, but then the bottom half of the puzzle felt easier and then the flow was a go. It surprised me how many times I pulled an answer outta my...ear...and it turned out to be correct.
This just serves to convince me that (as I often suspect) I know more than I think I know. I just don't know when it's going to make itself known. Go know.

I liked a lot of the cluing here. Plenty of misdirects and legit obliques - the kind that make me think or give me paws, but don't end with an "oh, come on!"

Definitely the outlier of the week and not a minute too soon!


kitshef 7:17 AM  

Good, tough puzzle that belonged on Saturday. I figured 65A would be yentl or yenta, and 59A could be side a or side b, so I spend a lot of time thinking about how ‘arl’, ‘ara’, ‘brl’ or ‘bra’ could be ‘=’. Eventually I saw ‘are’ and finished.

Great clue for SPEED TEST.

Really don’t understand the popularity of Forrest Gump. One good line (Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks) surrounded by bad acting and an implausible plot. I like a lot of Zemeckis movies, the ones he made with Tom Hanks (Cast Away and Polar Express being the others) flat out did not work for me.

Lewis 7:20 AM  

A pair of boom moments propelled my solve today – where I’m stuck, frantically caroming around the grid looking for something to fill in with no success and wondering if I’m going to have to look something up but fighting hard against that, then suddenly BOOM comes a revelation (cracking a clue or remembering something) and I get an answer that begets more, which begets even more.

The first happened after my first pass, which didn’t yield much, with all that vague cluing and things I didn’t know or remember. The second came near the end, when I was stuck in the NW, and then I finally saw COSTA RICA with a couple of letters filled in. God bless those boom moments!

I had STAIRS for too long for [Landing place], liked the clues for TDS and EXILE, and my two favorite answers – NICE CATCH and DABBLE IN – are NYT debuts. The answer ARE has appeard 430 times in the NYT but never with [=] as the clue – sometimes the best originality is so simple.

This was a SOLID Friday outing, with the drama and devilment I hope for. Props and much gratitude, Michael!

oceanjeremy 7:23 AM  

I liked most parts of this puzzle much more than OFL did. Found it downright enjoyable, and just tough enough to give me some resistance and feel like a Friday.

But the last square I filled in was the “E” crossing between HAPPEN and LET ‘EM.

And that clue on LET ‘EM (“Sure, they can go right ahead”) really pisses me off for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on. It just seems like the stupidest way to clue that answer. Like an AI was trying to be conversational and just failing to get even close enough to be in the uncanny valley.

I honestly think “Allow more than one person, colloquially” or even “Allow more than one, briefly” would have been just fine and far more preferable, and would’ve saved the entire puzzle for this particular solver.

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

This really felt like Saturday, especially the NW. Similarly to Rex, I only had CCED or bCcD, ERE, and LETEM for a long time before I finally got TARMAC and eventually the rest from there. I spent more time on the NW than the rest of the puzzle combined, and I ended up way past my Saturday average.

OffTheGrid 7:36 AM  

I usually enjoy a puzzle more than @Rex, including today's, but I understand his comments on this one. My criticism of him today is that he blames the COSTA RICA clue for his rough start. I would wager the group of solvers who DID NOT think the clue wanted a specific country is very small.

Son Volt 7:39 AM  

Nice puzzle - mostly fun and smooth clueing. NW stack was solid - CRUSHED IT and learned COSTA RICA. Also liked STAR FLEET and HOT TICKET. Couple of clunkers - SLIER, TDS etc but overall not too many hiccups.

Enjoyable Friday solve.

Anonymoose 7:56 AM  

@OCEAN. I totally agree that the LETEM clue needed a qualifier. You cannot reduce LET thEM to LETEM without something like "informally" added.

Richard Stanford 8:03 AM  

LETEM seems like it should have had a contraction in the clue, no?

I had BCCD for a while which kept me out of the NW until I let it go. Then got stuck with BRL (not knowing that YENTE was a thing) and ended up with a DNF in that spot.

Enjoyed RIDESHARE and METERED, got LAZYRIVER off of the Z (I actually filled in slide first, then looked for a first word and the whole hit me). SPEEDTEST and KNEELED were nicely clued as well.

John H 8:06 AM  

Liked it, agree that this was pretty Saturday-ish. Had a rough time in the NE until I got traction on 27A "Props too a proofreader." Not a word I use in that way so was trying to get something more like "bookstands". Wanted tarmac for a landing place all along but was afraid to put its in until I got some corroboration from the crosses.
Why would anyone assume that 15A, country without an official army... was looking for a generic term?

I am with everyone on Forest Gump.

Overall a challenging but enjoyable solve.

puzzlehoarder 8:08 AM  

This required about 5 more minutes than what I would consider to be an average Friday. Strangely this was for much of what our host mentioned about the cluing and the fill. If there's no comments posted I will read his sometimes.

Not only did I think 15A would be a term but I misread the 1D as having only a single "in" thus missing the whole point. In the NE I did something similar. I thought the three letter entry was going be a surname. I didn't miss any words I just misread it.

The stacks in the NW and SE were not bad. If the NE and SW didn't have those pairs of cheater squares and we're filled with material as good as that NW corner this would be a stand out Saturday.

An equals sign for the entry ARE is just bad cluing. A sum is always singular. No one would say two and two are four. ARE was the only option so I can see what it's implying but it's going about it in a deliberately obtuse way.

While it's not literal duplication because of 15A the word STAR does appear twice.

Thanks to TESS being a gimme I briefly tried to make empTyseaT work for 11D.

I think the 66A clue is referring to how well your synapses are working. I can't be sure because the term SPEED TEST is vague to me. Whatever, my synapses weren't at their best on this one but a clean grid is a clean grid.

Ruth 8:27 AM  

I didn't write in LTDAN for quite a while because: LTs are officers, and therefore not GIs. Or am I wrong about that distinction?

bocamp 8:29 AM  

Thx, Michael; as good as it gets! :)

Slightly over med solve.

Dropped in CCED at the get-go, and that was it for the NW.

Got going with MPH / PLATOON, and nailed the SW quickly; it was hit and miss the rest of the way.

More or less on my wavelength, but the tricky cluing provided just the right amount of pushback for a Fri. puz.

Enjoyed this immensely. :)

yd 0 (one of the toughest 0s yet; what a beaut!)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

amyyanni 8:34 AM  

Agree it feels like a Saturday, but what do I know? Today is my first Friday in retirement. Since last Friday, sold my condo in FL and moved to one in NE Atlanta. Drove 600 miles Wednesday after packing the moving van. Once I get my bearings (and furniture), plan on signing up for Sen. Rev. Warnock's campaign. And maybe catch the Calder Picasso exhibit at the High Museum. TGIF. P.S. both cats, Coco and Caroline, have forgiven me the ride here and are looking forward to their promised window seats in the sunroom.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Everyone should be grateful HOBART was clued Rye-style as "Town on the Delaware River."


pabloinnh 8:59 AM  

Since I noticed the 15A clue early on and wrote down COSTARICA without really thinking about it, I thought I was in for a leisurely stroll in the park. Uh, no. NOIRE and LTDAN got me the NE, SELF and AXEL took care of the SW, hooray for MYLAR. a big help in the SE. Took forever to see KNEEL, which was obvious when it did appear. Ditto for TARMAC and NICECATCH.

In short thought there were a lot of nice misdirection clues leading to oh yeahs! if not aha!s. Felt like a properly chewy Friday, and I learned about a "classic hit" that I've never heard of, USEME, which strikes me as slightly risque for The Old Gray Lady.

Agree that it felt Saturday tought. Nice job, MH, you made me Mighty Happy.

Carola 9:11 AM  

My last in was CRUSHED IT, followed by a mental "As if!" More like, sigh of relief that I could finish it. I agree with others about the more-like-Saturday toughness - which was fine with me. Also like others, I found it hard to get traction up top, despite NOIRE x ERASE x I SEE. I had to find my way in through SIDE (A or B) x SASSY x SLIER; together with the B from HOBART that combo got me to DABBLED IN and enough crosses to make my way through the rest.

Lots and lots to like in this one. My favorites were ICE OVER + TARMAC, evoking when-we-used-to-travel images of waiting in the de-icing line....maybe to get off to someplace warm like COSTA RICA. I also liked LAZY RiVER over SPEED TEST and the mordant cross of MINOTAUR with NICE CATCH! - all those suitors who didn't make it out of the maze.

JD 9:17 AM  

Easy medium. I never align with Rex on the rating. This was the 1990s version of my wheelhouse. Probably why some people are finding it difficult.

Using the Drop Cap function in Word. Saying Nice Catch to the proof readers. We had two of them at work full time. Loving Lt. Dan. Renting Guarding Tess. Saying yeah I CCed him when asked in the Break Room if Dave knew the deadline.

Back in time a little further to running Mylar through the copier to make overhead slides for presentations (this will impress 'em!). PowerPoint yet to come. Platoon the movie.

@Frantic, I give it one less brain because it was filled with office work stuff, but our solving experience was the same.

Enjoyed it.

kitshef 9:19 AM  

One and one are two,
Two and Two are four.
I only wish to goodness
There wasn’t any more

Adding and subtracting,
Really, what’s the use?
When Churchill was at school
They say he was a goose.

Yet he became Prime Minister
And helped us win the war.
Because he didn’t waste his time
Two and two are four.


Barbara S. 9:23 AM  

I liked this, and it was a tussle. I ended up just about dead-on my normal Friday time, but I had to work like crazy every minute – no coasting. First pass saw me strike out until 22A “Guarding TESS,” a not terribly well-known movie that I don’t think I even saw. Where do these SHREDs of knowledge come from? (I've always avoided "Forrest Gump," so no help there.) But then I got I SEE (directly below TESS), appreciating the original clue for that hackneyed answer (“Crystal gazer’s lead-in”).

My next success was 41A HOBART, and then I got a bunch of the acrosses in the south: SELF, MYLAR, AXEL, REPO, and LILAC. That was enough to give me traction and a bunch of downs: SASSY, EXILE, STARFLEET (off the A, F and L – I’ve been a Trekker since I was 11), LIMIT, ALIVE and RAZES. All of that allowed me to complete the lower half of the grid, but I had to battle my way back to the top, fighting like a Trojan for every square. At the end I was rewarded by CRUSHED IT and NICE CATCH, which I thought were aimed directly at me and my hard-won success.

ARE, ERE, ORE – Where were “ire” and the actress Mary “Ure”?
LETEM, METERED, LIMIT – I liked the vowel/consonant alternation with the same vowel used throughout the word/answer.

Barbara S. 9:28 AM  

Today’s quotation is brought to you by RAYMOND CHANDLER, born July 23, 1888.

“The other part of me wanted to get out and stay out, but this was the part I never listened to. Because if I ever had I would have stayed in the town where I was born and worked in the hardware store and married the boss's daughter and had five kids and read them the funny paper on Sunday morning and smacked their heads when they got out of line and squabbled with the wife about how much spending money they were to get and what programs they could have on the radio or TV set. I might even get rich - small-town rich, an eight-room house, two cars in the garage, chicken every Sunday and the Reader's Digest on the living room table, the wife with a cast-iron permanent and me with a brain like a sack of Portland cement. You take it, friend. I'll take the big sordid dirty crooked city.”
(From The Long Goodbye)

TTrimble 9:36 AM  

Yeah, a slow start for me as well. So while my time was relatively decent for a Friday, I couldn't say I CRUSHED IT. More of a molasses-like OOZE until I finally picked up some momentum.

Agree with others about Forrest Gump (I think I've mentioned this before). To me the movie reeks of cliche. Jenny for example is a blank page in the wind, on which is written only to be erased later whatever passing cliched trend there was (hippy, radical, coke-snorting disco devotee, you name it -- no discernible personality at all). Then too there is the Zemeckis sense of "60's: bad". No sense at all that with the 60's there was a general rise in political awareness, or that it ushered in broad civil rights movements. No, the SDS student leader and the Black Panther were, by definition even, bereft of any sincerity or morality. Only Forrest Gump, that stalwart Christian soldier with the homespun expressions, possessed a moral center. (Well, maybe Bubba as well.) Should we infer that intellect can only get in the way of being a decent person?

Oh yeah, the puzzle! Disagree with Rex that there's anything particularly wrong with STAGE MOM. Joaquin's dictum and all that, plus: there's a question mark. I thought the long answers, e.g. HOT TICKET, LAZY RIVER, DABBLED IN, were very decent. DROPCAP was new to me, and welcome (now I know what to call it!). No bounce, says Rex? Not SASSY enough for him? For my part, I see intelligence in the puzzle.

HOBART brings back some nice memories, when I went with my wife on a trip to explore the southeastern coastline of Australia, starting from Sydney and dipping down to Tasmania on a ferry before coming back. It was hot as all get-out, but we had a great time.

Off for another college visit...

Nancy 9:57 AM  

A tough, engaging puzzle that gave me my Friday money's worth. It was happily low in proper names, though I didn't know the few that were there like LT DAN and REN. I didn't know TOMS either, though I'm thinking now that maybe my new beach shoes (not sandals, can't wear sandals, never could)-- shoes bought a couple of years ago and barely worn since due to the pandemic -- might be TOMS? Must go look at the shoe box.

We didn't have a BREAK ROOM in either of my two publishing jobs and I've never heard of it. If you wanted coffee mid-morning, you carried it back to your desk. And, having worked in book publishing, it's amazing that I didn't know DROPCAP, but I didn't. NICE CATCH as a compliment to the proofreader is nice, though.

Wonderful clue/answer for STAGE MOM. I had STA-E--- for the longest time and still couldn't see it. Don't understand SPEED TEST (you're checking the speed of your computer maybe?) or MINOTAUR (MINOTAURS run mazes?)

Also, wouldn't "scrip specs" be something like doses or milligrams rather than just plain MEDS? And I really didn't like the SNL clue -- though heaven knows it was hard enough. Bet I'll have plenty of company in my complaint.

A worthy puzzle opponent. Wish I could say I CRUSHED IT, but I didn't. I did finish it though -- slowly but with no cheats.

Joaquin 10:04 AM  

@Ruth (8:27) is correct regarding LTDAN. The clue is technically wrong as GIs are enlisted Army members. I understand the need for the abbreviation in the clue, but only a non-veteran would use "GI" to describe an officer (and they'd be wrong!).

But ... as I am fond of reminding everyone, clues are just hints, not definitions.

RooMonster 10:08 AM  

Hey All !
Tough, tough NW corner. CCED, USEME, DINT, oh my! Just couldn't get the ole brain to see any Acrosses there. Dang. DAMmed me UP but good. Rest of puz was typical Friday for me, little here, little there, an AHA or two, and section complete! CRUSHED IT, then the NW CRUSHED me. DAM.

TOMS for Big name in slip-on shoes? I wanted UGGS, or CROC. Ugg. ☺️ Is that TOM Mcan, or what? Not up on my slip-ons.

Originally at 16&18A, had carte and bubba. Found out both were wrong pretty quickly.

Watch some poker, used to watch a lot, but never heard TENS as TNT. Weird. Nice misdirect at NICE CATCH. I wanted an actual physical prop, like a yellow highlighter or something. dICEnoTCH? Who knows what the ole brain makes one do.

Anyway, good FriPuz. The NW can go in EXILE and go ERASE itself. MOO. 😁

One F

Ω 10:16 AM  

I am so confused. The late great Bill Withers stopped performing in 1985, Later with Joel’s Holland started in 1992, so how is that video in their archive? Or is it just the BBC archive and Later pulls from it? Just a great great song in all respects.

My solve mirrors Rex’s and other posters, but I think I liked it more than him. Not that I disagree in any particular, just that the my overall reaction was more positive. STAGE MOM, soccer mom, karen,… Is there such a thing as a hipster MOM? And where’s Dad?

@offthegrid - I think you misinterpreted Rex today the way many often do. His COSTA RICA comments are more about his solving experience than about the puzzle. He doesn’t really start criticizing the puzzle until his “no marquee” comments. He often intertwines comments about his solve with his critique of the puzzle, leaving it to the reader to discern which is which.But I understood his COSTA RICA comments to just be an explanation of why the NE was challenging for him.

@Anon/Villager - He He 😂 - To be clear, though, the infamous Rye clue was even less informative than your clue, something like “town with a marina.” I think people misinterpret our Rye jibes as not liking Rye. That is not it. It was that clue, which mights as well been “we are so tired of cluing this word that we are going to pick some random factoid out of a town’s wikipedia page but we are never near water so we don’t realize that every town with a navigable waterway has a marina so our cute clue is really just ‘three letter town’” - not that I’m bitter about that clue.

I’m wondering if we’re going to get a TARMAC discussion today. Seems like the TARMAC is connected to the landing place but isn’t actually the place one lands…until you see the second definition of “landing.”

Brian 10:19 AM  

Easy Friday for me. Started in SE and ended in NW. Did it while watching Tokyo opening ceremony — very aesthetic Japanese presentation. Beautiful.

Nancy 10:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheMadDruid 10:29 AM  

Probably non-existent.

Nancy 10:31 AM  

@Richard S (8:03) -- Had the same indecision between CCED and BCCD that you did at 1D. Solution? I wrote in the 2nd C at the 15 square and waited to see what developed.

Did the same thing at 30D. Was it MPH or MPG? I wrote down the M and the P and waited.

@John H {8:06) -- I also thought of TARMAC right off the bat and also wanted confirmation. But I did like the fact that the 15A country was going to end in an A. So many countries do. It was the C of NICE CATCH that finally confirmed TARMAC for me.

My very brief appraisal of "Forrest Gump": An insufferable movie.

burtonkd 10:36 AM  

Tough Friday - Frantic and Lewis nailed my experience.

@puzzlehoarder - not to say there aren't grammatical errors in songs, but according to Inchworm by Frank Loesser (who I'm sure Nancy will vouch for):
Two and two are four
Four and four are eight
Eight and eight are sixteen
Sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two
Inchworm, inchworm (Two and two are four)
Measuring the marigolds (Four and four are eight)
You and your arithmetic (Eight and eight are sixteen)
You'll probably go far (Sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two)

While I've got you, 66A is referring to your internet service: I use OOKLA Speed Test from time to time to diagnose connection problems. I find it amazing how often computer structure has a direct correlation with human brain structure. "Operating memory" = RAM, etc.

Rex-rebuttal warning (had to get it out of my system, sorry):
- LAZYRIVER is exactly what the feature in a water park is called.
- Sorry the constructor didn't anticipate your last answer and provide the optimal experience for you personally.
- Considering "Uber pool" is one of the main rideshare options (at least pre-covid), that is a solid timely clue all around.
- Also, sorry that the constructor didn't anticipate that you wouldn't think "Country" in a clue would refer to an 'ahem' country.

Nancy 10:41 AM  

***Attention Spelling Bee devotees:***

I just read over on the Wordplay Blog: Beginning on July 26, they will be providing a daily dedicated SB site over there.

You can read more about it on their blog today.

Michael Page 10:48 AM  

Barbara, thanks for the Chandler quote, and happy birthday to the great man. Every five years or so, I go back and reread all of Chandler and Hammet.

Turning to nits, to all the pilots out there, PLEASE don’t land on the TARMAC, stick to the runway.
And a “Sixers” are a basketball team, no one has ever said “sixers” referring to touchdowns or any six point event. Ever.
Agree with comments about overly cute clueing, but it made for a good challenge.
Rex, I thought COSTA RICA was one of the more straightforward clues, don’t get the confusion there.

jberg 10:49 AM  

I'm with @Nancyand @Bocamp, this was a hard and enjoyable struggle. Unlike Rex, COSTA RICA was a total gimme, my first entry. It led to CCED, ERE, and -- well that was it for a long time. Second time this week cluing ERE from Shakespeare, I think.

But the whole South Side was tough. No one has ever pointed at a color and tole me it was mauve, so I needed most of the crosses to get LILAC; I don't now what a LAZY RIVER is, as defined. Is it a boat ride in a water park? Then I thought maybe the Enterprise was part of the STAR Force, or maybe the crew were STAR Farer(s), to work with SLIER. No idea about the two Queen songs; I didn't know the other one was a Queen song, so I thought one of them was plagiarized by the other, or there was a comparative judgment being made, or something. But it all fell into place.

More crossing entries from the world of mass culture in the NW with HOT TICKET (as clued, I've no idea what that "popular show" is) crossing two movied I've never seen. (Worse, I always confuse Forrest Gump with Ferris Bueller, which I also haven't seen.)

Most enjoyable error: I read the clue for 42A, "Free add-on?" and immediately wrote in GAN. I did write it lightly.

I'm with @Nancy, MEDS are not specs. (By the way, Nancy, do let us know what you find out about your shoes!)

And I finally saw what 27A meant by "props." I had only the E, which worked with bluE but not with pencil, so I spent way too much time trying to think of a 5-letter pencil substitute.

Slight quibble with 48A; Desmond Tutu, for example, went into exile and returned. So did Benigno Aquino, even though he was murdered on the TARMAC.

@puzzlehoarder, listen to the children singing backups as Danny Kaye sings Inchworm.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Really don’t understand the popularity of Forrest Gump.

Well, I can't stand it either, and I do understand its appeal: it makes the case for being a moron and doing well in the world; if you're nice to the right people. Just like Someone Whose Name Shall Not Be Said.

JD 10:58 AM  

@Barbara, Read The Big Sleep last year. Just downloaded The Long Goodbye. Thanks.

@amyyanni, I hope you're having fun on your big adventure.

@Nancy, Same thing on MPG and MPH. And Gobart sounds more plausible than Hobart, who sounds like Hubert's brother. Agree on the Gump book but disagree on the movie.

@Joaquin, Sigh. If we're playing a find-it game and I say Cool when you're really Warm, that's a hint but will it help get you there or send you off in completely different direction? I agree that clue's aren't definitions, but there should be enough truth to make the hint legitimate. Good misdirects make you say Aha. Bad misdirects are discouraging and erode trust in the medium.

NYT clues are getting sloppier every day. Actually knowing something can be detrimental to the solve.

Nancy 11:00 AM  

@burtonkd and @jberg -- So now you've given me an "Inchworm" earworm :) Don't you love that new phrase?

Here's the problem, though. I usually sing my earworms while walking to and from and in the park. "Inchworm" is a very leisurely-paced song. I may not get much exercise.

Masked and Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Feisty FriPuz. Downright puzzlin, at times. Fun fight, tho.
Started it off in a kinda weird way, with CON followed by NICECATCH. Then TARMAC. Then TESS. Spotty attack strategy, M&A brain.


staff weeject pick: SNL. Luved its raised-by-wolves style clue. The runtpuzs all bark, in approval. They want the likes of this to be a future runtpuz theme mcguffin. woof

I think I re-learned what DINT means, today.

Thanx for all the EYEOPENERS and nanosecond CRUSHers, Mr. Hawkins dude. Good job, pickin them fights.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Unknown 11:05 AM  

This felt more like a Saturday to me, but it was still greatly enjoyable. The NW corner for me was the toughest. As @Lewis mentioned, I needed that BOOM moment of seeing COSTA RICA for it to open up. Then saw CRUSHED IT which resolved the BCC'D vs CC'ED conundrum.

My only icky moment in this whole puzzle was the '=' clue for ARE, which was so bad, especially when I wasn't sure if it YENTA or YENTE. But that was no enough to undermine an otherwise awesome puzzle!

David the other 11:11 AM  

I wonder if crossword puzzle constructors will every know what "G.I." meant (or even the fact that we haven't had them since the mid 1970s).

Probably not before they stop making up strange abbreviations in order to fill out their grids...

Whatsername 11:11 AM  

A tough workout for me especially the upper half. Maybe just a little brain fog this morning but Star Wars and World of Warcraft and Star Trek trivia didn’t help matters any. A lot to love though - STAGE MOM, HOT TICKET, DROP CAP - and I wish I’d been among the many solvers who probably really CRUSHED IT.

Just want to give a shout out to McDonald’s this morning. I picked up breakfast (I thought) after dropping my pup off at the vet clinic, and my coffee came with new packaging promoting the national “We Can Do This” campaign encouraging Covid vaccines. Amen to that! Let’s share the message any which way we can and get ‘er done.

On the downside, my sausage biscuit with egg turned out to be a nothing biscuit with nothing. I should’ve known to check because you-know-what happens at the drive-thru and because I could tell that the ponytailed young man who took my order had long ago peaked in his food service career.

Mary McCarty 11:14 AM  

Barbara S: great quote. My faves from The Long Goodbye: (I hear them in a Bogart-sort of voice)
"Oh, I see." A slice of spumoni wouldn't have melted on her now.

I got to make lots of dough to juice the guys I got to juice in order to make lots of dough to juice the guys I got to juice.

She had an iron smile and eyes that could count the money in your hip wallet.

I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between the stars.

Out there in the night of a thousand crimes people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness.

THANKS to Rex for introducing me to Chandler in a blog from Jan 2020!

The Vez 11:17 AM  

It took some time to get going but I went to the Southwest and finally got a toehold. The yente answer had to be correct because of the crosses. In that case I go on and check it later. Why does Rex care so much? The rest of the puzzle then just fell into place.

Joseph Michael 11:31 AM  

MY LORD. Wandered east, west, and south through the maze with nothing. Not a word or even a letter I could be confident about, Thought I was a goner for sure but then stumbled into the SW corner and suddenly I was filling in boxes and feeling less and less hopeless. Worked my way back north and before I knew it, the entire grid had somehow been filled in, with the NW corner the last to fall. I didn’t pass any SPEED TEST on this, but I can still say I CRUSHED IT in the end.

NICE CATCH gets the prize for Best Answer. LTDAN gets the boo for worst.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

I've....never seen a LAZY RIVER that WASN"T at a water park. It's the ride where you either swim or sit in a tube while the current takes you around in a circle around the park. I've seen them at like every water park I've been to and never anywhere else...maybe occasionally a resort?

mathgent 11:37 AM  

I stared at the very white NW for a long time last night and came close to quitting and looking up the solution on Jeff Chen. But I decided to go to sleep and let my unconscious work on it. It worked. On a bathroom break at 3 a.m., I started thinking about ?????ENER for "Revelation" again and EYEOPENER magically appeared. Then it just took me a minute to finish it up.

Much harder for me than for most of us. I had 19 mystery clue-answers. Twenty is where I DNF, usually.

My favorite puzzles have a pleasing balance of crunch and sparkle. This one had too much crunch and not enough sparkle.

There are two cryptic clues, 42A and 10D. I like doing cryptic puzzles but putting cryptic clues in crosswords doesn't seem right.

jb129 11:41 AM  

Re: Rex's comment - That's because there was no rhythm and there was no thrill.

Hoping for Saturday....

Newboy 11:47 AM  

HIP HIP HORAY! Just had to say since I missed yesterday. Two hard days in a row in our house, but that’s the way of the late week’s crumbling cookie. bubba before LT DAN really screwed up the NE as did croc before TOMS. Having to overcome over confidence is becoming an unbecoming EYE OPENER, 😔

Even with the abundance of SNAFU moments, we enjoyed Michael’s cluing with few exceptions (30 across just seems wrong) though Rex’s critique seems reasonable. All in all a good start for Friday.

BJD 11:52 AM  

Constructor (and perhaps the editor) clearly knows nothing about football. Sixer, single or plural, has never been used as a term for a TD or TDS. Definitely a WTF moment.

egsforbreakfast 11:59 AM  

Alternate clues:

1A. Pare text mercilessly. CRUSH EDIT
27A. Poisson that’s been landed. NICE CATCH
57A, Cain’t we jez run the air cooler a mite? LIL AC
32D. Noise made while superficially trying a loud activity. DABBLE DIN

My contributions to this blog are beginning to remind me of the old PSA that probably ran in the 60s. It showed people throwing trash out of their moving car while laughing. Eventually, a tossed bag splatters against the buckskin-clad leg of a Native American standing silently by the highway. The camera then pans up to his dignified face, and we see a single tear emerge from one eye and roll slowly down his cheek, while a sonorous voice-over intones, “It’s enough to make you sick. Isn’t it enough to make you stop?”

@Amyani. Good luck on the move, and thank you for working on behalf of Sen. Rev. Warnock!

Great puzzle today. Gnarly but Friday fair.

jae 12:20 PM  

Medium-tough. Top quarter was tougher than the rest. I knew COSTA RICA but still had to work to fill that corner. SE on the other hand was easy. I also went through the YENT>l>a>E and the SIDE A vs B process...took a while to see ARE.

Solid Friday, liked it.

Unknown 12:31 PM  

You are correct. Ruined the puzzle for be. Bubba was the GI pal.

Ω 12:40 PM  

First, LT. DAN was most definitely a G.I. pal of Forrest. Here’s a nice short article about the history of the term G.I. I will bet good money (25¢) that the information will contradict what a good chunk of you think the term means, including many veterans (with that whole “only enlisted men are G.I.s” thing - true enough for enlisted men but something they made up).

Ah yes, the oft seen misunderstanding about crossword cluing. Words have multiple meanings because all kinds of different people use words. A word might have a technical meaning that is quite different from how it is used in the vernacular and a single word might have multiple meanings in the vernacular. That a clue uses a different meaning or sense then the most common one doesn’t make it wrong or sloppy. This is the classic “it is a feature, not a bug.” As much as I despise that Rye clue, you will never hear me say it was wrong. Rye does indeed have a marina. What bemuses me is that when a clue explicitly connects the dots for us (poems and taxis) nobody ever seems to grok that this is an example of what puzzle clues do, only usually making us connect the dots in our own.
My formulation of Joaquin’s dictum is “don’t focus on how a clue is wrong, focus on how it is right.”

As for COSTA RICA - Seriously people, we have all been there and written about it here. We read a clue and our brains take us left when the clue is going north. Rex didn’t read the clue correctly. It slowed him down. He got a toehold in the NE. That isn’t a criticism of the puzzle, it’s an observation about the solving experience. I just don’t get so many people making more than that about Rex’s comments.

bocamp 12:42 PM  

Forrest Gump fan here. ❤️

@Nancy (10:41 AM)

Thx for the heads-up re: the upcoming Wordplay dedicated SB site. Couldn't find the article, but will keep an eye out for it. Was it online or in the hardcopy edition?

Did find this interesting article, tho, re: Nancy Pfeffer's cross-country trek to meet other SBers: Flight of the Spelling Bee Player.

pg -5

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Ω 12:45 PM  

@BJD - WTF moment here, too. However, “never” is a very long time and I assume somebody somewhere called TDS that. I thought Philadelphia, which I’m sure was intentional. Next thought was beer because, well, beer.

dan 12:54 PM  

Both a friend and I were very confused when our answer for 65D was BRA. We both got there, but I really don't think YENT_ having three possible next letters is especially good form.

Richard in NM 1:29 PM  

Is me and @bocamp the only Forest Gump fans in this here crowd? Maybe we should jest stand over in that thar corner with the rest of the fewer-than-three-contiguous-teeth folks.

Nancy from Chicago 1:32 PM  

@amyyanni, congratulations on your retirement! Your plans sound delightful. I'm glad Coco and Caroline are settling in nicely in their new home.

I liked this puzzle but I was like others in that the "e" in YENTE was the last letter I filled in.

Anoa Bob 1:39 PM  

I remembered HOBART from an uncle's WWII photo album. His ship stopped there during what turned out to be a circumnavigation. Years later I learned about the Sydney to HOBART Yacht Race when a super-cell type storm in 1998 led to the loss of six lives and 5 yachts.

Growing up in rural Tennessee there was always a LAZY RIVER nearby to go for an afternoon swim to wash away the dirt and grime from that morning's chores. Maybe something like the Mills Brothers' LAZY RIVER.

Our local home poker game has started back after a long COVID break. We play mostly Texas Hold 'Em where each player gets two cards down to start things off. I have been playing for years and never heard a pair of TENS down referred to as "TNT", as clued. "TNT" suggests a much more powerful opening hand to me, maybe two aces which was my first guess. TENS are not all that powerful, more of a teppid (just learned that word yesterday) opening pair. The conventional wisdom among seasoned poker players is that there are several way to play an initial pair of TENS down and they are all wrong.

Citizen Zeus 1:54 PM  

Clever enough. Solid enough. Imaginative? Not so much. I disagree with Rex's interpretation of "STAGEMOM". The negative drama part (stereotype of the hovering, controlling vicario-cratic parent) was only a clever secondary reference. The main one was LITERALLY drama = stage. Dramas happen on a stage in plays and films.

kitshef 2:10 PM  

@Barbara s - thanks for the Chandler. I finally read The Big Sleep this year and wondered what took me so long? That man can metaphorize with the best of them.

@mathgent. Those aren't cryptic clues - if those appeared in a cryptic I'd throw the puzzle against Nancy's Wall™. I think of them as Shortz clues - ones that for some reason Will Shortz has a liking for, but few others do.

kitshef 2:14 PM  

@Richard in NM. Considering the box office take and Academy recognition, you are far from alone. Interesting snippet from the Wikipedia page:

The film is commonly seen as a polarizing one for audiences, with Entertainment Weekly writing in 2004, "Nearly a decade after it earned gazillions and swept the Oscars, Robert Zemeckis's ode to 20th-century America still represents one of cinema's most clearly drawn lines in the sand. One half of folks see it as an artificial piece of pop melodrama, while everyone else raves that it's sweet as a box of chocolates."

Legume 2:50 PM  

@Richard in NM:

That would be a good thing. And stay away from that thar votin machine. Here's why: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/04/14/republicans-weed-out-ignorant-voters-start-with-their-own-column/7186187002/

" Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has also articulated the view that Americans don’t have a universal personal right to vote. As an appeals court judge (in a dissenting opinion), she claimed that voting is a civic right belonging not to all citizens but only to “virtuous citizens” who exercise it for the benefit of the community.

Really, what could possibly go wrong with the government deciding who among us is "virtuous" enough or "informed" enough to be allowed to vote? "

And to be clear - those are Trumpsters. They're excoriating Black and Brown folks, of course. Look in the mirror you Trumpsters. May be we should make you ignorant white folks tell us how jelly-beans are in the jar before voting. And, no, that's not urban legend. May be those ignorant white folks should be forced to prove they know how many jelly beans are in the jar? https://www.wpsdlocal6.com/decision_2020/how-many-jelly-beans-in-this-jar-voter-suppression-throughout-history/article_0c1d9db2-1b10-11eb-8c54-cbcf166f9be9.html

Are you a virtuous citizen? Or just some white guy? We all need to know.

puzzlehoarder 3:01 PM  

@burtonkd, thanks for the SPEED TEST info. I figured it was probably something specific that I just wasn't familiar with.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

Given the demographics of the commentariat here the disdain for Forrest Gump is not surprising. I’d wager that a large majority share at least three of these four traits: 1. White. 2. Over fifty. 3. At least a bachelors degree. 4. Left of center (for the record I share all four) . This is not what America looks like and people who live in cocoons sometimes fail to realize this.

Seth 3:58 PM  

Rex, for STAGE MOM, "drama" refers to plays, like you'd see on stage. Solid clue.

David Patent 4:06 PM  

I am a regular and ardent poker player. No one has ever referred to Tens at “TNT” at the table.

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

You've highlighted a map of Tasmania and its red. Your wife is from New Zealand. You do know what that means to Antipodeans, and an awful lot of non-Antipodeans, right?

JoshyJosh 4:55 PM  

This is driving me nuts, and I may be wrong about it...but doesnt "We Will Rock You" LEAD INTO "We Are The Champions"? If so, how could the latter song be the A-side? Seems like a f**kup to me...

Bubba 5:03 PM  

@Z, seriously back at YOU. Rex did not indicate he had misread the question but indicated it needed more in the clue to show that it was a SPECIFIC country, because if so, “he would have gotten it easily.” It may not be a criticism of the constructor but of the editor and to me, a somewhat ridiculous observation. I think many of us would just like it if Rex inserted a little more “my bad” into relating his solving experience, AND it wouldn’t have come off so much as a criticism. There MAY be other countries without standing armies but Costa Rica is pretty famous for its “No army since 1948” status. I agree that G.I. Pal gave me no pause whatsoever as I put in LT, but could not remember DAN until I got the N.

Lexus Salesman 5:55 PM  

I agree with you. I wanted to put in Bubba, The shrimp guy. In any case, I do not think a lieutenant can be referred to as ground infantry

Raven Starkly 6:12 PM  

At first my presumption was the name for a type of country that had no military. But then I figured it was a specific country and my mind stayed in Europe trying to recall those little city states and principalities — none of them fit. Never in a million years would I have known it was a country in Central America and had most of the downs before in saw it.

JC66 6:24 PM  

For those who missed Zs post, GI originally stood for GOVERNMENT ISSUE.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

@JC66 and @Z

are correct. and referred to draftees. if you don't believe me or them (but the wiki)
?The term "G.I." came into widespread use in the United States with the start of the Selective Service System ("the draft") in 1940, extending into 1941."

aka, Draftees. not enlisted or officer corps. the most vocal, in film and the teeVee, is Hawkeye Pierce. unusually, perhaps uniquely (I haven't looked it up as I type), in one or the other Capt. Pierce asserts that he was drafted.

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

I hated this puzzle. Too much popular culture of every kind, plus baffling slang I'd never heard of. I am sick of the almost complete lack of REAL culture in every Friday puzzle (okay, "Minotaur" qualifies, but "metered" is marginal). There is virtually nothing for the educated person who doesn't know what World of Warcraft is and didn't happen to see every mass market movie and listens to classical rather than pop/rock/blues/jazz/hip hop music. Where is OUR puzzle?
And by the way, how does "scrip specs" = "meds"? Who ever says "scrip specs", anyway?
This soured rather than brightened my Friday.

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

I kept thinking SAN MARINO but just couldn't quite get it to fit, despite the R in the right place. Finally got something that pointed to COSTA RICA, which I never would have guessed.


Eniale 7:52 PM  

@Nancy, what fun to sing to yourself as you walk. When I'm doing my hills and stairclimb (197 steps) my tendency is to visualize the PG if I've already found it and see if I can think of any additional words. Maybe I should take to singing to myself all those hymns they made us sing every day at morning assembly in my high school. Pity I never listened to more songs on the radio.

Photomatte 8:27 PM  

I've been playing poker since 1987 and have never, EVER, heard the term "TNT" for tens. I'm guessing the clue is really speaking about Texas Hold'em in particular, since it's the only poker game where you can have tens and only tens in your own hand (I guess Omaha, too, but you can't use all your hole cards in Omaha, like you can in Hold'em). One of the terms for Aces is pocket rockets so I thought TNT must be a play off that. Nope. Looks like the constructor had to invent a 'clue' for TNT since it's a Friday puzzle and has to be more difficult. Also, I was sure Singapore was a country with no military but that turned out like OJ's glove: it fit, everyone knows it fit, but somehow it didn't.

Nancy 8:41 PM  

Re: Raymond Chandler: If I were to try and figure out the qualities I seek most from a writer, I think they'd be spontaneity and immediacy -- or at the very least a convincing faking of those qualities. I never want to hear the wheels turning in an author's head as he struggles to achieve the perfect metaphor, or in Chandler's case, six perfect metaphors in the same sentence. @Mary McCarty's post today, filled with carefully, carefully wrought Chandler metaphors, exemplifies that tendency to me -- though that obviously was a far cry from her intention.

There are few writers whose turning wheels are more apparent to me when I read one of his sentences. There are few writers whose prose seems less spontaneous or truly felt. I read his sentences and I just don't buy them. And because so many writers in the genre over the years have imitated him, much of the genre ends up being riddled with hard-boiled metaphors that now sound like cliches.

I'm struck today by the depth of love and admiration on this blog for Chandler. Why, some of my closest pals on the blog absolutely adore him. Is there anyone here, anyone at all, who doesn't?

Joe Dipinto 8:53 PM  

@Joshy Josh – "We Will Rock You" opens the Queen album "News Of The World" and leads directly into "We Are The Champions". They were released as flip sides of the first single from the album, with "Champions" designated as the A side.

Andrew Heinegg 9:18 PM  

Agreed. When I saw Sixer as a sports clue, I immediately filled in 'PHI' because any player from the NBA Team from that City is referred to as a Sixer. Cost me a lot of time on this puzzle.

burtonkd 9:21 PM  

@ Nancy - I like the Inchworm earworm. I too get tunes in my head while exercising: If it's too slow, you can always walk to 8th notes, triplets or 16ths. Or just imagine the tune in another tempo!

On a related note, Ted Lasso (brilliant Apple TV comedy) had a scene where he used the word "plan" so many times that it ceased to have any meaning for him. He then asked his assistant what it is called when that happens and 3 people answered in unison "Semantic saturation" as if that is a term everyone would just know:)

burtonkd 9:24 PM  

Thanks Joe! I get Joshy Josh's point, but owned the 45 and was trying to recall exactly which was the A side - glad to have remembered correctly, an increasingly uncertain event.

Space Is Deep 10:15 PM  

After I finished this,I asked three of my friends who are serious poker players if they had ever heard of TENS as slang in poker for TNT, none of them had.

George 11:10 PM  

A tough top half, made even harder if you were quite positive that the big name in slip on shoes was CROC and that the only RO- treatment was ROugh. Rough indeed

albatross shell 12:26 AM  

METERED CRUSHEDIT SHRED MINOTAUR SPEEDTEST STARFLEET EYEOPENER SNL (Getting to dislike this type of clue but this was exceptional connecting Sandler with SNL. His return as host was wonderful) all well clued. I would include TNT if I could prove it was a correct answer.

MEDS' clue was odd. Some sort of abbreviation for refills, times per day etc. were the only possibilities. A scirp certainly does specify a particular medicine. And some pills have more than one medicine. And you say I gotta go pick up my meds even when its only one med. So it does work or only in a kinda sorta way. But it is only a clue. Just maybe not a very good one.

I started slow but broke in at the SW and worked up to the NE getting about 2/3 done and completely bogged down. So started googling to finish. Still had fun but no sense of triumph.

Chandler. Maybe the precision metaphors show the hard-boiled detective's worldview. Cold and heartless with a job to do. Maybe it's overwriting. I
like it but writing that calls too much attention to itself has its drawbacks.

I loved the Gump movie too. A terrific comedy at the very least. A fine satire too. Politics have to be a lot worse than to interfere with a good movie. Innocent idiots triumphing has a long literary and movie history. This one was epic scope.

@various anons and others. I replied to some of you and others late last night. Your posts got zapped and I stopped. Many strangely so in my opinion.

offbrand 12:41 AM  

SIDEA was SIDEB for me, because in Phoenix, AZ, “We Are the Champions” is ALWAYS played after “We Will Rock You” on the radio

Trinch 1:26 AM  

I also struggled in the NE because in my mind, a Lt isn't a GI and started proudly with BUBBA. But was able to switch quickly enough. Besides, GI is often enough used as a general (pun intended) reference to anything military.

But what really irked me was TARMAC for landing place. There are three main areas to all airport layouts. Runways for take offs and landings. Taxiways to get to and from there. And tarmacs for loading, unloading, and parking. I would strongly discourage anyone from trying to land on a tarmac. That's worse than parking on a runway. Horrible clue, if you ask me.

Susanna 11:23 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. But the NYT has changed the print options, at least for my phone. There is no slider for the ink saver. And their default is way too light. Sigh.

thefogman 9:38 AM  

I second what Susanna said just above. I used to print the NYTXW with the ink saver feature but now all of the black squares disappear if I do so. That a bit too challenging! :-)
I agree with Rex. This puzzle was okay but not great. I fell on my sword at my last entry: MPg - gOBART

spacecraft 11:52 AM  

I agree that the clue for TENS was made-up. I'll play them against your AK any time.

This guy must go to some straaange parks. GOKARTS as a "ride?" LAZYRIVER as a "ride?" Possible, I guess, but I've been to some parks, both water and amusement, and those two are new to me.

There's much fuss about LTDAN, as well as the movie itself. Seems to me that how FG's friendship changed him (a wonderful performance by Gary Sinise, BTW) was the whole point of the film.

I resubmit the question: what does SPEEDTEST have to do with being well-connected? Inquiring minds want to know. Anyone?

This is one of those days when it would have been better not to read OFC. This puzzle is better than he says, for sure. It has end-week toughness, and not much fill detritus. Looking at you, SIDEA.

Why is it when I see MYLORD in print I want to stick a "SWEET" in there? I think Mr. Hawkins stuck the landing on this one; glad the TARMAC didn't ICEOVER. Birdie.

thefogman 12:17 PM  

To Spacey - The SPEEDTEST will-indicate if you are well-connected to the internet by showing if you have fast upload and/or download speeds after you run the test:


Unknown 12:35 PM  

GI doesn't stand for ground infantry...it stands for Government Issue

Burma Shave 12:42 PM  


MYLORD ALIVE, such HOT dispatch,
but IT DINT HAPPEN, ORE he rushed IT,


Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Artificially larded with pissers to go for Friday difficulty.

Diana, LIW 2:03 PM  

Got it all save the NW, where I had to look up two answers. As usual, didn't know some trivia!

But, that said, I enjoyed this Friday puzzler. Good for a morning's coffee treat.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, don't need a break room for coffee

leftcoaster 4:42 PM  

If I needed someone or something to blame for a DNF, it would be my impatient self first, and then some vague or otherwise elusive cluing.

As examples of the latter, I would point to “Experimented with” for DABBLED IN, “Maze runner” for MINOTAUR, “TNT, in poker slang” for TENS, and “One way to gauge how connected you are” for SPEED TEST.

“Oversized letter...” for DROP CAP is simply an unknown as far as I’m concerned.

MC 1:50 PM  

Minor quibble. Mylar isn't actually shiny. I think it's actually transparent unless something is added to color it. The shiny stuff on balloons is aluminum, which is a thin metal coating put on the mylar to make it not leak helium. without that, those balloons would go flat in a few hours like the non-metallic ones.

Vinniegret 4:33 PM  

I don't get these puzzles until a while after they are published, so my comment is moot. However, I can't believe no one commented about ankle biters. Ankle biters are annoying little DOGS, like TOY dogs, not TOTS, which are little humans.

Oh, and I liked Forrest Gump a lot. But I have a tender heart and I thought Tom Hanks' acting was masterful and moving. If you are not moved by "I'm not a smartman, Jenny, but I know what love is", you have a grinch sized heart.

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