Border county of New York of Pennsylvania / FRI 8-20-21 / Superhero misidentification / Apt surname for a librarian / Surname of father and son NBA coaches Paul and Stephen

Friday, August 20, 2021

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (more like a Saturday, for sure)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: NUTLETS (42D: Snacks for squirrels) —
1aa small nut
ba small fruit similar to a nut
2the stone of a drupelet [
a small drupespecifically  one of the individual parts of an aggregate fruit (such as the raspberry)] (
• • •

Just couldn't get into this one. The fill felt flat and the fill felt forced and now I'm alliterating just to amuse myself. I guess HOT TOPICS is OK, and STALE JOKE would've been OK with a more accurate / specific clue—"routine" and "stale" just aren't the same; the latter is far more value-coded, but I guess the "routine" wordplay was too tempting to lay off of. The cluing was what made this a humdrum-to-unpleasant experience for me. It seemed like it was trying too hard to be clever, or else it was too humdrum. But mainly it was the fill that put me off. I don't really see what the marquee answers are supposed to be, and in a Friday (best of all days) there should be a bunch of them. "ARE WE ALONE?" might've worked with a saucier clue, or one that gave it a more everyday context, but the alleged "question" of "humanity" just doesn't resonate at all for me. I want the question to end "... in the universe?" TOADIEDUP feels awkward. NUTLETS, LOL, what? Squirrels eat nuts. Paradigmatically. I never saw a squirrel eat NUTLETS in its or my life. I'm gonna ask the squirrels in my yard how the NUTLETS are today and I assure you they are going to laugh at me. 

I watch a lot (lot lot) of movies, and read a lot about movies, and while I'll give you WAR EPIC (even though I don't love it), I absolutely won't grant you ART CINE. The clue is in English, so the answer should be in English. An ART FILM is a thing. CINE is a thing. ART CINE ... I mean, really? You're going to say that? Write that? That is a pretentious hybrid phrase I've never seen or heard. SOOTS as a verb, also nonsense. No way you should cross E-READER and READE, especially if you are going to clue READE in relation to reading (54A: Apt surname for a librarian). Also, if you want me to have a good time, maybe don't give me a STAPH infection and blood clots (crossing!).

[When google thinks you've made a mistake ...]

I guess with the last two puzzles being remarkably, anomalously easy, the puzzle universe was bound to correct itself, and it sure did today, as I just kept staring at some of these clues wondering what they thought they were doing. TAMES was hard, largely because of a tenuous / vague clue (19A: Controls). TEAM was hard because of a somewhat better but (again) completely context-free clue (3D: A's, but not B's or C's) (the TEAM in question is the Oakland A's baseball squadron). I had to work that section from the back ends of the longer Across answers (PBJ, I LOVE, SEE THINGS). VETO POWER got me into and through the NE pretty easily, but getting into the western part did not come easily to me. I was stuck (-ish) here:

No idea what "Gaspard de la NUIT" is (23D: Ravel's "Gaspard de la ___"), and despite the "Z," which normally gives an answer away quickly, my brain just refused to see SUN TZU (author of "The Art of War") (25A: Who said "The greatest victory is that which requires no battle"). I was looking for one last name. BLITZ ... FRITZI ... something maybe Italian and WWII-related? Further, parsing CLOSEINON was too much for my morning brain today (29A: Near). So ... obscure proper noun, other proper noun, and hard-to-parse phrase had me stuck. I had to go into the SW and work upward, which meant the west was the last thing to fall (as you can see by the cursor in my finished grid, above—SCAR was the last answer I got). I also struggled a bit earlier, when doing the SE, because in addition to the preposterousness of ART CINE and NUTLETS, I had to deal with a wrong but very plausible guess in one of the short answers down there. Specifically, at 47D: Syndicate, in a way (REAIR), I had RERUN, which is the word that one would actually use, but yes, REAIR, defensible; if your goal is defensible, congrats. It's not that there weren't passable moments in this one ("NICE CATCH!," say), but mostly this one just clunked along and offered up no real high points. Lots of trivia, lots of forced wordplay in the clue, not a lot of joy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 6:10 AM  

I have to laugh because since I fell asleep during the puzzle, my solve time was 6:50. That's 6 hours and 50 minutes. It's been a while since it's taken me that long to finish the Fridee.

It will be interesting to see what new heights of hate Rex can attain, but I'm assuming it will go parsecs beyond the intersection of STALE JOKE and Bob Hope HOSTing the Oscars. SEETHINGS will also likely be involved.
All that's needed now is a tub of popcorn and bated breath. It's too early in the day for one of those, but at least I'll have popcorn.

This thing was so contrary to my everything, my brain is pretzeled beyond recognition. Ironically enough and math genius that I am, my first entries were THREE and its lookie-loo partner NINE. How did a red flag not slap me in the face right there??

But a mere 6 hours later, I'm actually happy to have experienced it.
Besides clever cluing like the aforementioned "Hope at the Oscars, e.g." and "Superhero misidentification" (ITS A
PLANE), how can you not love a term like TOADIED UP?

And using "Near" as a verb (29A CLOSEINON) was a tad sneaky. Just a tad.

Anyone else completely ignore the plurally clue and immediately drop in "stetson" for 24A (HELMETS)?
No? Just me? Pffft!

Sure, there were a few clunkers, but they faded into Whocaresland when all was READ(E) and done. This tussle was a fun ride.


Del Taco 6:10 AM  

This was hard.
Took me twice as long to finish.
Not very fun.

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

Could have clued 46A as movie theater mogul Walter READE to tie-in with 41D...
READE crossed with EREADER??

Frantic Sloth 6:20 AM  

Huh. Rex was mild-ish in his critique, which I find almost as surprising as this punny line: " 'ARE WE ALONE?' might've worked with a saucier clue...."
Haven't heard (or thought of) the term "flying saucier" in decades, but there it is. πŸ˜‰

Loren Muse Smith 6:31 AM  

I always look for a toehold with the fill-in-the-blanks, but sheesh. SCAR didn’t occur to me, and I just don’t speak Ravel.

So my gimme was TIOGA. I had a bit of a dust-up there with the local sheriff a couple of years ago. Hah. Right.

“Once” before ACT I. Defensible. Oh - and I missed the E-READER/READE, and now that it's been pointed out, I just can't find any anger.

Never heard of a NUTLET, but it’s clear enough. This place where I’m living with Mom now (one of those communities where you have to be a certain age) is RIFER with birdfeeders than any place I’ve ever seen. Mom and next-door neighbor Ollie have matching birdfeeders out back, and these two women spend more time fretting over the squirrels than anything I’ve ever seen. Mom suffers in silence, SEETHING at the interlopers through the window, but Ollie’ll walker her way to the back door and shoo them away with a broom. I guess birdseed so expensive that they don’t want the squirrels to eat it too fast? I mean, I’ve never been much of a birder and enjoy looking at these entertaining, tenacious little rodents just as much. Actually it’s not much of an issue for me yet, as I’m still at the other end of the damn house peeking out of the blinds at the suspicious vehicles. Sigh. Just a matter of time before I take up my own broom and join the crusade.

I liked the LIL next to RAPPERS. Put a LIL in front of your name, and bam, you can be a rapper, too.

ARE WE ALONE? That ufo lands, and I’m right there volunteering to be part of the welcoming committee. I’ve said before, it’s my plan to take this clip or this clip to have them consider before they get a whiff of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Bravo TV, or our social media sewer and see us for who we really are.

chance2travel 6:35 AM  

My time was normal Friday (about 9 minutes). TZU showed up from the crosses, and when I put in the SUN part I was able to immediately drop in ULTIMATELY and NOT FOR SALE. So that sped things along nicely.

Those speed gains were offset by staring blankly at the SE for nearly a minute. Finally remembered that Lake Pontchartrain is not in some random place like New England or Minnesota, but rather Louisiana.

I deeply dislike TOADIEDUP and NUTLETS. Although I may start saying the latter more often just bc it has an amusing sound.

Ciao and Buona giornata!

Eric NC 6:41 AM  

@LMS Good to have you back. You and Frantic are my favorite reads. Thanks for the great clips. A nice start to my day.

Frantic Sloth 6:49 AM  

@Loren I love those clips! Thank you for sharing. And here's my contribution to your "tenacious little rodents" appreciation. It's a little long and you've probably already seen it, but what the hey.

Lewis 7:09 AM  

Three times I found answers lying way back in the cluttered drawer of my brain, where I had to wait for them to bubble up and appear with a most wonderful pop, with SUN TZU, TIOGA, and ELLER.

Four times I was hit with the sweet double whammy of the simultaneous aha and smile, with the clues for IT’S A PLANE, CLIENTELE, TEAM, and YULE.

And once I had a “There-must-be-something-wrong … oh wait!” moment when I had down the CTSC beginning of CT SCANNER.

These add up to an OCTA, I believe, and, more importantly, a most lovely Friday excursion. RR, this is your 115th NYT offering, and evidence that your chops are as strong as ever. Thank you for this!

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

Usually I'm not as negative as Rex about a puzzle. Today, we agree completely.

GPO 7:16 AM  

Bob Hope at the Oscars, seriously?

I also stared at “TEAM” for 5 minutes after finishing before giving up and coming here to find out what the hell it meant!

Pretty hard for me and unusually eyebrow-raising, satisfaction-wise.

thfenn 7:21 AM  

I flew threw this one, elated at my mastery of a Friday. And when I woke up this AM and saw Rex go with Medium-challenging, why, I'm able to type now only by virtue of not sticking to the ceiling. But I get it now. If you're REALLY a master the clues are just bad but if your a little lazy in your thinking or just not quite all knowing you'll find the clues easy.

I had another fun solve. Squirrels eat nuts so surely snack on nutlets. The long downs, especially AREWEALONE fell in so fast my only clue I wasn't on a Monday was, well, all the long downs. Loved the clue for CLIENTELE, as it made me realize you could be patronizing and not be someone I want to SOOT or perhaps just SORT. In a stack with CLOYS and TOADIEDUP the SE was delicious. The NE was tough and I'll admit why. With SUN--U as the utterer of that great quote I went with SUNunU, astonished that either the father or the son had ever said something that erudite, let alone something so, what, was it philosophical? Sounds almost like something you read in, what was that book, Art of War or something. Huh. Well, good on you John Sununu. So I stuck to my guns. Having itsnoJOKE in there early also made the NE tough. Took me a long time to get enough done to see it had to be ONESIZE and TALENTS. I kid you not. So, as you can see, i'm pretty sure I'm right about why this was easy.

Still, LOL, an easy Friday nailed before hitting the sack gets a big woohoo from me.

albatross shell 7:25 AM  

This one was easier than yesterday for me. peanut before NUTLET of course. Then NUT??? for awhile. A seemingly scientific word, but judging by its usage graph maybe it wasn't once. It was a tough little NUTLET to crack. Same experience as Rex with SCAR and and CLOSEINON. My last in was on the opposite side. I had OTi-SiRT and only noodled it out after the music didn't play.

ITSAPLANE gave me enough joy to last the whole puzzle. ARTCINE felt familiar enough to me. Jeez it's a Friday.

So it took me a bit over two hours while watching the Eagles preseason game. That was a disaster.

I liked TOADIEDUP. In fact I liked just about all the long answers. Not all flashy but solid and interesting stuff.

I live close enough to the TIOGA counties for it to be a gimmie. SUNTZU was a gimmie from the style of the quote alone. I did not know the quote nor have I read the book.

Off to a fast start for a Friday getting 1,2,6,7 down plus uNiSIZE for ONESIZE. Slowed down after that. Did not count but the PPP seemed nonexistent compared to yesterday. I'll let you count NUTLET if I can exempt ITSAPLANE.

Zwhatever 7:26 AM  

Mr Ross gave us PIG IT. I know this because @Evan Birnholz was commenting about it on Twitter last night. According to him TOADIED UP is not just a debut in a grid, but a debut in a puzzle in any way, including never being used in a clue. This seems entirely plausible to me. TOADy UP, present tense, seems like a term my mother might have used. She was born in 1924. A search for the phrase returned some political usages, especially in reference to the last president. But past tense? Seems it might be more commonly used in Britain. It didn’t trouble me as I entered it, but upon reflection it does seem dated, despite Trump’s attempts to turn the entire country into a bunch of TOADIEs.

IT’S A PLANE is also really really dated as clued. I mean, c’mon man, “the clip is in black and white because they weren’t doing color TV yet” kind of dated.

I suppose we tend to associate EPIC with just “big” or “long” now, but is there any EPIC that isn’t in some way or the other a WAR EPIC? Seems like the WAR part is redundant. If there’s not some WAR element isn’t it just a saga?

Thanks Rex for the Oakland A’s explanation. I was stuck in A TEAM, B TEAM, C TEAM, mode and could not figure out what the clue was going for.

@Frantic Sloth - I totally missed the UFO connection. I just assumed Rex was going horny teenager with his “saucier” comment.

@Ocean Jeremy late - As I said, I do vacillate on those same two. The TV one is in so much ad copy that I can justify going PPP with it, but if people want to argue it isn’t I’m not going to disagree much. And the train, the same. That it is always the Chicago one because the Chicago train is iconic is how I justify it, but I can understand saying it isn’t PPP. And wheelhouse blindness is most definitely a thing. When I tote up the count I go through every clue and answer to make sure I catch every one. When I have the time I do like to include the list so that people can make their own judgements, but also to catch what I might miss. Today I might have missed that TEAM had a PPP clue, for example.

Son Volt 7:33 AM  

Not sure Rex has ever liked any of Ross’s puzzles - the old white guy complex I’m assuming. In this case though - I agree that we have a pretty flat themeless. 66 word grid doesn’t give much room for error - so some of the short glue and odd fill here really sticks out. DYERS, RIFER and SOOTS are just bad. I really like TOADIE as a noun - but not in TOADIED UP.

Liked OCEAN BLUE, TIOGA and NOT FOR SALE. No real issue with ART CINE.

Not an overly enjoyable Friday.

bocamp 7:35 AM  

Thx Randolph for your excellent Fri. creation! :)

Med-tough solve.

Had to trampoline this one.

No major stumbling blocks; slow and steady got the job done.

Educated guess at the ART CINE / RITT cross.

Very enjoyable! :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

thfenn 7:42 AM  

@LMS, just going to come back long enough to thank you for the clips. Seeing them in the context of establishing who we really are I burst into tears. Such a sap. Have to get up and start another deluge of remote work from home meetings. Loved both those, thanks.

Joaquin 7:44 AM  

I’m glad I don’t try to speed-solve, as it took forever for CLIENTELE to dawn on me. And I confidently dropped in laoTZU at 25-A. Stupid mistake because SUN TZU is a very close friend of mine; we attended high school together and have kept in touch ever since.

amyyanni 7:51 AM  

Favorite part of all this is Rex's featured definition of butler, specifically the second entry. Drupelet! The individual part of an aggregate fruit, e.g., a raspberry. How quaint. As was the puzzle.

Zwhatever 7:55 AM  

@LMS & @Frantic Sloth - In these parts people are advised against having bird feeders because they tend to become bear feeders. Bears also have been known to get into cars looking for food and then not be able to get out. Squirrels and their NUTLETS are pikers.

thfenn 7:56 AM  

I meant the NW, obviously, sorry. Lol, @albatross shell, SUNTZU was not a gimme, but I also loved ITSAPLANE.

pabloinnh 8:04 AM  

Of all the slowdowns I experienced with this sand trap? tar baby? the worst was definitely 1A, as I had PICS and kept trying to imagine what kind of PICS everyone was talking about. I even finally got the answer (last one), and I'm on paper, so no happy music, but was still wondering what the hell a HOTTO PIC was. Something from an X-rated website maybe, or a .....and then I saw what was going on and gave myself a good dope slap. I mean, really.

SUNTSU didn't help either, as the SIZE part of scarves was disguised for a very long time.

We have a neighbor that has given up on feeding the birds and actually has a squirrel feeder in his front yard. It's not unusual to see eight or ten gray squirrels, some the size of toy dogs, having a NUTLET party. Care needed when passing his house, as certain of them always seem to have kamikaze impulses.

And a welcome back to Aunt ELLER, who used to visit us frequently, but has gone missing for some time.

Tough one for me, RR. You gave yourself a shout out with your RAPPER names, I noticed, but I found this one Rather Rigorous.

Raven Starkly 8:06 AM  

A team? Thanks for telling me this refers to baseball. Because B Team is a thing in the other context. One of those times when I had the right answer but didn’t put it in because of the clue

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Gaspard de la Nuit is definitely worth getting to know. A good one from Lil Maurice.

Mikey from El Prado 8:15 AM  

@Frantic Sloth…. Your experience/time reminds me of when, a few years ago on a trip to California, I started a Wednesday puzzle (NYT app) in our hotel in Carmel, didn’t finish before we headed out for the day… a beautiful day in Big Sur. Many many hours later we got back and I had left my iPad open, it didn’t shut down or close the app, and I ended up with a finish time of 12+ hours. So, my Wednesday average has been shot ever since.

Oddly, I had a faster than average time today, despite some words I had never heard of…. See Rex’s lambaste for those. But, I gotta say that on some of the phrases I kinda thought, “Oh, OK, I get it.”

EREADER/READE is a definite foul, especially crossing them.

Have a nice day everyone. It’s my off Friday, so going fly fishing in Northern NM.

Conrad 8:15 AM  

First of all, I want to join all the others who are thanking @LMS for the clips! But I have to differ with one thing she said: "Lil Conrad" is not a good rapper name. Not even "Lil Nas Conrad." Sorry; I guess I just don't give a rap.

Pretty much what @Rex said about the puzzle, except it played pretty much medium for me. Until it didn't. I finished, felt good and didn't get the party music. So I checked with Sergey and Larry for the answers I'd gotten via crosses (which were legion). RITT? Rite. SUN TZU was correct as well (when I first got the Z I thought lao tZe). NUTLETS are really a thing, and TIOGA is a county in both NY and PA. I was ready too look up the Today show when I realized that no one, anywhere, ever had been named MORAtES. I hadn't even looked at the 44D clue. Foo.

SouthsideJohnny 8:20 AM  

A portion of this one seemed like it was Thursday-level difficult for me, so it was nice to see Rex compare it to a Saturday (of course, some of it was genuinely out there, most of which Rex and others have pointed out). Even though I’m feeling pretty good about my partial, limited success - wow, what a super reality check in the center section. I will have to do hundreds, if not thousands more puzzles before something like NUIT crossing TIOGA will ever be even marginally in my wheelhouse. I just don’t see real words there, pretty much just looks like random letter jumbles to me . . .

55A (TOADIED UP) could have been clued as “Graham, Pence, and others v.v. Trump”. Alternatively, 42D (NUTLETS) could have been clued as “The entire Trump clan, once”.

Mikey from El Prado 8:24 AM  

@LMS… regarding the clips, amen. The classical “fusion” one took considerable work to compile. I might have to go to the sheet music to see if any key changes were made in the process (or how much digging to find those versions). Fascinating.

Hopefully AOC takes care of MTG in a dark alley before our other-worldly visitors arrive.

albatross shell 8:30 AM  

Epics should have heroic acts and conflicts of some sort. The Iliad is a war epic. I wouldn't really call The Odyssey a war epic despite the bloodshed and the fighting. An epic about people first "conquering" Everest or reaching the South Pole,
or human's landing on the Moon and coming back, or the story of people surviving great natural diasters are not really war epics.

JD 8:37 AM  

This puzzle was on the edge of greatness, save for some the cluing and a couple of answers. Loved Veto Power and Side Bar. Close In On, great. Ilove, Cuke, & Seethings, Ag litigators known for grudge matches. Helmets, great. A's for Team. Tioga because it's something I knew.

But some cluing was off.

Hope at the Oscars. Open calculator app. Yep, last time he hosted was 43 years ago.

Routine part of a routine, Stale Joke. It's routine to tell a Stale Joke?

Descriptor for most scarves, One Size. Scarves aren't measured. They come in types in an almost infinite variety of sizes. Long, short, big, not as big. Bigger, what is this a table cloth.

Patronizing types. Clientele are patronized to. Rifer & Reade, entertainment lawyers are Patronizing types.

Also want to say that Rifer is unfortunate.

Suzy 8:51 AM  

@LMS. Many thanks for the clips! Very refreshing in this time of covid. I readily admit googling Sun-tzu and the spouse
knew the Silas family. After that, everything fell into place rather easily.

@Southside Johnny— they are still, and always will be, nutlets!

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

I live in the SF East Bay. I can't leave my house without seeing A's gear on hats, shirts, cars, yard flags. I pull for them most of the year - except for weekends like this one when they are playing my Giants.

I still needed to come here to have that answer explained to me.

Aunt Hattie 9:02 AM  

I'll join the weepers at LMS' Ode to Joy clip==those little kids loving the music gives me hope for the world.

TTrimble 9:13 AM  

A very fair review from Rex today. I would have included RIFER with NUTLETS and SOOTS as arousing the suspicion of Skeptical Cat that these aren't actual words. (Okay, so they're in the Scrabble Dictionary. I'm not impressed.) And READE (with the E-READER cross, no less) seems lazy. Random last name that is slightly awkward to clue without resorting to wordplay.

Similarly, that NINE is THREE squared is arguably lazy, and is not going to give any pleasure to the mathematicians. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Misidentified, all right -- it wasn't Superman you saw when you said IT'S A PLANE. It was just LI'L ole me...

Aw man, you're not going to believe this etymology (from

"The word toady has a gross, yet engaging history. Back when medicine was more trickery than science, traveling medicine men would come to a town. Their assistant would eat a toad (you read that right) that was assumed poisonous so that the medicine man could "heal" him. Who would want that job, right? So toad-eater, later shortened to toady, came to mean a person who would do anything to please his boss."

Anyway, agreement with Rex: somewhere between medium and challenging.

yd 0

TTrimble 9:17 AM  

Forgot to add, on top of @Loren's musings on ARE WE ALONE, this clip of George Carlin.

Nancy 9:30 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, finding it nice and grown-up compared with yesterday's name-fest. There was some lovely fill that I'm not sure I've ever seen before: HOT TOPICS (great clue); ARE WE ALONE?; VETO POWER; STALE JOKE; TOADIED UP; SIDEBAR and CLIENTELE (also nicely clued).

So if I twit it a bit, please understand that I do so with affection.

Oh those prefixes and Latin-based plurals. It was THROMBI and OTO, but it could have been THROMBo and OTi, yes? No? In any case I waited to fill in the last letter of both.

NUTLETS is a funny word and a funny concept. Is it possible to make nuts any smaller than they already are?

RIFER? Just no.

OCEAN BLUE is... Well, that depends on your ocean, doesn't it? Take the Mediterranean (Prussian blue); the South Atlantic down near the Caribbean Sea (a gorgeous shade of blue-green) and the North Atlantic up near where beach-unfortunates like me live (usually a foreboding shade of gray-blue. Or, worse, gray-gray. The North Atlantic has always been my least favorite ocean.) There really is no one color that's OCEAN BLUE.

Teasing over for today. A puzzle I enjoyed.

johnk 9:41 AM  

Easy. Only problem I had was remembering coaches SALAS, and THROMBA seemed right. I've never seen or heard anything but thrombosis, so had no idea of the root singular, let alone plural.
Now excuse me; I'm off on a NUTLET hunt.

RooMonster 9:42 AM  

Hey All !
ITSAPLANE has a great clue! Best of this puzs bunch.

SE my downfall. TOADIED UP? Yikes. And CLO_S with that Y just not wanting to enter the ole brain. Plus the Rexformentioned ARTCINE and NUTLETS. Dang. Throw in RITT for good measure, and you sunk my battleship. Had to Goog for RITT, then use of the Check Puz feature. Even if somehow figured out that SE, still would've had a DNF with SUNTZe/NeIT.

SOOTS is odd. Does Santa Clause get SOOTS? Probably. But, since he's basically magical, no SOOTS stick to him. 😁

RIFER, wow. Wanted wIdER forever. And _ for life, wanted BFFS.

Was this puz a STALE JOKE?
HELMETS a sneaky clue. The football team Dallas COWBOYS.

Could "The Wolfman" be a WARE PIC?

Gonna SPED away if YULE excuse me. (Oof. 😁)

One F

TJS 9:44 AM  

How can I let a puzzle put me in a bad mood first thing in the morning? It's been happening fairly often lately, I think because of gargage fill like "soots" and "rifer". Aren't these things supposed to be edited ? "Artcine"? "Truest"??

Maybe BEQ can cheer me up, or a Berry from the archive. I would consider doing the puzzle at night but that would require a sobriety level I'm not interested in.

OTOH, I agreed with everything OFL said today, so I got that goin for me, which is good.

Tim 9:50 AM  

I was born in one of the TIOGAs, so that was lucky. I had trouble with the NW and SE, still.

kitshef 9:51 AM  

Naticked at ARs CINE/RIsT. I had it between an s or a T. ARS apparently is Latin, but not French. Otherwise easy.

Shouldn’t STAPH indicate ‘for short’ or ‘informally’?

Michael Page 9:51 AM  

Agree entirely on ART CINE. Pick a language.
And it will come as a surprise in Boston (or Natick) to learn that the Bs aren’t a team. It’s a nickname, true, but so is As.

UFO visitors 10:07 AM  

Thank you for those wonderful clips (6:31 a.m.), O Great Welcomer Loren of the Earthling Welcoming Committee. We can see what a truly outstanding species you all must be and we look forward to getting to know you better over the days and weeks ahead.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  


Stephen Minehart 10:08 AM  

I moiled through this puzzle at an average pace. From now on, I'm going to use moil instead of toil to be interestingly eccentric. Using career in place of careen hasn't worked out that well because the need to say careen just doesn't come up enough naturally. PENETRATES = get through, yes I'm sure that is everyone here's first definition of penetrates, except for me I guess. I'm going to the park to feed NUTLETS to the squirrels, said no one ever. Pretty sure I've never heard or read TOADIED UP, either. But I loved ARE WE ALONE and NOT FOR SALE, so Fridays are still the best.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Lots of non war epics: Gandhi, Ben-Hur, The Last Emperor are a few off the top of my head.

And the only A's that matter are the *Philadelphia A's. I mention them because a recent thread about white elephants missed the mark, and teh Philadelphia A's can hel make things right.
The original meaning of White Elephant was a thing-- a gift really-- that was ruinous. It comes from Siam where the king would give ministers and courtesans he was unhappy with the "gift" of a white elephant knowing full well that the upkeep and maintenance would in fact ruin the recipient. Which brings us to the A's. When Connie Mack bought the A's the reigning bully and big mouth in pro ball was John McGraw. And he spouted off that Mack was a fool for buying the moribund team. That in fact it was White Elephant--i.e., it would ruin him. Mack embraced the scorn and defiantly used a white elephant as the team logo. Check out pictures from the early 20th century through the 1940's. That elephant is all over the place.
For anyone still reading, the 1929, `30, and `31 A's are the greatest team of all time. Slightly better than the Yankees of 1926, `27 and `28. The statistical similarities are insanely similar. But right think members of SABR agree the A's edge the Yanks.

*Actually, I'm quite fond of the swinging A's of the early 70s.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

“Rifer” is pure garbage. Felt the same way about “Art Cine.” Terrible clues today.

jae 10:16 AM  

Medium. Solid and mostly smooth and a tad meh, liked it more than @Rex did.

Apparently Ross also watches The View.

puzzlehoarder 10:19 AM  

This was an average Friday which is exactly what I expected from this constructor. He's been contributing puzzles for almost as long as I've been solving them. I don't ever recall them being a challenge and today was no exception. The low word count didn't overcome the blandness it only emphasized it. Not a bad puzzle but the compromises, like ARTCINE take the shine off.

jberg 10:21 AM  

So THREE/NINE were my first entries, of course; only I wasn't wearing my reading glasses, misread the numbers, and wrote THREE in at 18A instead of 16A. Man, did that hold me up, as did WAR film/flIC before EPIC. Other than that, not too hard. SUN TZU's "The Art of War" was all the rage back in the 90s, when it was taught as a guide to business strategy. The quote sums up his approach, which was basically the same as that of Clausewitz or Liddell Hart, but written about 1500 years earlier. It's fun to read, actually. So I knew it, but still left the Z blank for crosses.

@Loren, I've never tried it, but Duncraft sells squirrel feeders that hold an ear of corn (it can be dried) and tumble over and over while the squirrel eats. They claim it's lots of fun to watch (sort of like @Frantic's clip), and keeps the lil darlings out of the bird seed, mostly. I've had good luck with a huge plastic baffle on the cable the feeder is hanging by; they really can't get past it.

Both those clips were great. It took me a while to figure out what was going on with the mash-up, as I didn't actually know ALL those pieces, and also had trouble remember which of the little heads was who. It's truly remarkable.

As for the flashmob, not only did they have their parts memorized, but they were able to walk up while it was being played and jump right in at the right place. Of course it's a very familiar piece, but impressive all the same.

albatross shell 10:25 AM  

@Michael Page
A's is on Oakland's official logo. Boston has an official "B" but nothing about being the B's. I can't say I've ever heard any announcer call them that but I haven't heard any local Boston announcer in a couple decades or more. I'd think the hockey team would be more likely to acquire that nickname.

I also got NOTFORSALE HELMETS AREWEALONE with no or one cross. Wavelength synchronicity I guess. PENETRATES HARNESSED CLIENTELE (CustomErs first) ULTIMATELY all took much longer.

albatross shell 10:38 AM  

Reggie Vida BLUE and an OCEAN of TALENT. My brother had been going to the A's games for years in an almost empty ball park. And then they got good. BLUE was best he ever saw for a couple years. He thought those A's were the best team he ever saw too.

Carola 10:39 AM  

I have to give myself a DNF on this one. I forgot I hadn't done the puzzle online last night so opened @Rex with the completed grid, saw the first 2 Acrosses in the NW, and thought "Gee, I don't remember writing in those" - followed a nanosecond later by the realization of why. Anyway, with that leg up, things flowed along at a medium clip and with plenty of moments of pleasure. I really liked SEE THINGS with ARE WE ALONE? and IT'S A PLANE!, thought OCEAN BLUE was lovely, and NUTLETS delightfully ridiculous.

Do-overs: Lao-TZU (based on his quote that soft, yielding water will overcome the rigid stone), "lust" for life, WW II PIC before WAR EPIC, and Customers before CLIENTELE.

ollida 10:44 AM  

For someone who only can finish Fridays occasionally this was the easiest one I have solved, which is weird considering Rex's review and some of the comments. I did have to look up TOADIEDUP and CLOYS though just to make sure I didn't have anything wrong. But overall new record of 35 minutes!

I really liked AREWEALONE.

Zwhatever 10:44 AM  

@albatross shell & @anonymous10:12 - I thought of some of those which caused me to throw in the wishy-washy "war element" into my musing. The Odyssey is easy because if Homer wrote for Hollywood instead of Ithaca it would have been called The Iliad: Part II. And I can argue that anytime "conquering" is apt there is a "war element" involved even if no weapons are used. Same with Gandhi, where the "weapon" of choice in the war against the British Empire was non-violence. SUN-TZE would have been proud.
To be clear, I think EPIC and "saga" are not all that different. And I think it is clear that the Iliad is more of a WAR EPIC than Gandhi is. But to me EPIC has the connotation of battle, even if the battle is spiritual rather than fought with swords and tanks.

Joaquin 10:49 AM  

And speaking of flash mobs - for pure, unmitigated joy, this one is hard to beat. It's my all-time favorite. YMMV.

Tom in Nashville 10:57 AM  

Southeast corner killed me. Couldn’t crack it. Blah puzzle today for sure.

albatross shell 10:58 AM  

Wishy-washy suits neither you nor War.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

On Gaspard de la NUIT - it's great music, but it's niche within a niche, and ridiculous in a 2020s Xword. You have to be into classical piano music to know it, and even then you need to be pretty well-versed.

There are no context clues to lead you - it's just straight trivia. Even once you have crosses to work with - Gaspard of WHAT? Of the Paris Police force? of Brittany? of the Renaissance? of the deep blue eyes? "Ravel piece based on macabre poetry, Gaspard de la ____" could work as a replacement if you insist on cluing NUIT this way.

That said, listen to - or better, watch - a recording. It's a great example of excellent mood and tone painting in classical piano.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

albatross shell-- or anyone--
Do you know the last switch hitter to win MVP?

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

I saw this really ugly theme developing in complete disbelief that harked back to a hospitalization in 2014, Staph, followed by a trip to the CT Scanner, diagnosing Thrombi that led to drugs that had me "seeing things..."

By the way, the drug I was taking was an mrna. the side effects were appalling, including the episode of seeing things. anyone who thinks mrna are acceptable for people not experiencing life threatening traum is seeing things.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Given all the VR and AR and such in movies and speculative fiction, ARE WE ALIVE makes more sense. Or are we just figments of some Higher Imagination?

READE??? Dewey makes more sense.

Newboy 11:32 AM  

Sorta strange clues it seemed. Either literal (51d) or semi-cryptic (52d) or really outside the strike zone (3d). Loved 58a, 48a & 12d even though I was almost too young to have actual recall of the b&w memories evoked. (I really wanted “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to make a drop in appearance). As is usual on Friday, I find myself in @Lewis’s campout territory rather than on OFL’s slog through obscurata.

Thanks Mr. Ross keep them coming! And please pass the NUTLETSπŸ˜‰

MP 11:36 AM  

In Boston the Bruins are widely referred to as the "Bs" and the Celtics as the "Cs" so this definitely threw me off track.

TTrimble 11:41 AM  

Sorry for the off-topic, but this just in: the self-appointed Mike Richards will not be the new Jeopardy! host after all.

Why? Just your typical tale of douchebaggery coming back to haunt him, so he's decided to quit. Good riddance.

Whatsername 11:43 AM  

Quite a workout for me to get this one HARNESSED but a good one which I enjoyed. Wanted WALMART for my big box store and to get thru I tried my best for MAKES IT OUT to fit, among other missteps. But ULTIMATELY with a teensy bit of a cheat, I prevailed.

ARE WE ALONE (“Can we talk?”) and mention of the Oscars made me think of Joan Rivers. I used to LOVE to watch her on those E! shows where they critiqued the red carpet fashions. She was always good for a NICE SIDE BAR zinger or a STALE JOKE.

Happy weekend everyone. Be safe. Mask UP.

Joseph Michael 11:43 AM  

Rex’s routine SEETHINGS are for me unjustified today. This was a fun Friday challenge with a lot of rich fill. Loved IT’S A PLANE, TOADIED UP, and ARE WE ALONE among others. Yes, there are some clunkers, especially READE crossing EREADER, but most of the grid rocks.

I used to try to keep the squirrels out of the bird feed in my yard until I discovered that squirrels are actually more interesting than birds if you take the time to observe them. Now I welcome the squirrels as well as the birds and enjoy watching all of that incredible nature earnestly interacting each morning in pursuit of a few NUTLETS.

I don’t know about SUN TZU or Aunt ELLER, but wasn’t SOOTS RIFER an actor during the silent film era?

Masked and Anonymous 11:44 AM  

This shoulda definitely been a TuesPuz.

har. Well, definitely maybe not. But, shoot -- the Ross dude's had 117 NYTPuzs, and has landed a puz on every other day, but not Tuesday.

staff weeject pick: LIL. A shorty in all ways. A mere 6 total weeject candidates today, btw.

crash and burn place, at our house: THROMBA/SALAS. [sigh]

Thanx to TOADIEDUP and READE, for makin M&A's puzfill look somewhat more reasonable [see below].

Thanx for the themeless fun, Mr. Ross. U really do owe puzzledom one measly TuesPuz, tho. [see below, for a possible theme idea.]

Masked & Anonymo5Us

runt that refused to stay LIL:

jb129 11:45 AM  

I found this to be a lot easier (despite Rex's review) than some of the other (late week) puzzles that I struggled with so I enjoyed it a lot. Good to see RR back.

EdFromHackensack 11:46 AM  

this was crap. sorry. TOADIEDUP? NUTLETS? did NOT enjoy this one at all.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  


Why not go all in on AR, VR, holographics, and the like. Alex will continue in that ethereal way we always liked. Given how many clues he read over those decades, concocting 'new' ones from all that talking shouldn't be all that hard. Just use Watson!

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Oh, by the way for interior design there is an OCEAN BLUE. @Nancy like that fellow behind home plate certainly is free to call them as she sees em, but: “The hexadecimal RGB code of Ocean Blue color is #4F42B5. This code is composed of a hexadecimal 4F red (79/256), a 42 green (66/256) and a B5 blue component (181/256). The decimal RGB color code is rgb (79,66,181). Closest WebSafe color: Iris (#6633CC)“

CT2NAPA 11:48 AM  

The NGRAM for "art cine" vs "art film" - biggest gap ever

cine vs film

egsforbreakfast 11:53 AM  

For the HOST of people, including Rex, whose brains are not WIRED for the multilingualism of ART CINE, I hope you never have to SEETHINGS in the Art Nouveau style. Works by people who simply couldn’t pick a language and stick to it, like Gaudi.

I thought this was a tough but fair puzzle, which I finished in about average Freitag time. Thanks, Randolph Ross.

Zwhatever 11:54 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mathgent 11:56 AM  

Randolph Ross is a pro and this is a fine professional job. The only high for me was ITSAPLANE but there were no lows. Enjoyed it.

I've lived my whole life within five miles of the Pacific. I'm sitting in my second story bedroom right now and can see the ocean from here. So what color is the San Francisco Pacific? It changes, but it usually is grayish-green, seldom blue. We spend time in Maui every year. The Pacific there is different shades of blue.

What? 12:00 PM  

As often with a themeless, started out knowing not a one and then finished. A miracle? Who cares? I do, I do. πŸ€ͺ

albatross shell 12:01 PM  

Last one I know for sure is Mantle. But working backward from the subject at hand my guess is the trick answer a pitcher thus Mr. Blue who I know was MVP. I really have no idea if he wass a switch-hitter. Pitchers generally speaking are the only ones who throw left and hit right. And no dh in the AL then l guess. The last 2 observations being irrelevant just because or since he was in the World Series. Eddie Murray was never MVP? Why not? Probably good reasons.

mathgent 12:03 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Frantic Sloth (6:10)
TTrimble (9:17)
Nancy (9:30)
puzzlehoarder (10:19)

rjkennedy98 12:04 PM  

Yesterday, I was expecting Rex to hate the PPP-filled disaster that was the Thursday puzzle, and then Rex liked it. Today, I came expecting Rex to love a puzzle that had excellent long answers everywhere, so of course Rex hated it.

Other than the awfulness of the NUTLET, ARTCINE, RITT crossing, this had great fill and cluing everywhere. Even novice solvers like myself could work through it with reward. Loved IT'S A PLANE (which in our superhero climate is not at all obscure). Also loved ARE WE ALONE and STALE JOKES.

Zwhatever 12:09 PM  

@albatross shell - Edwin Starr would agree. Still, we make metaphorical use of WAR almost as much as we make political use of it. War on Drugs. War on Poverty. War on Stupidity. War on Xmas. War on Terror. WAR EPIC ain't wrong, but it still rings redundant to me.

Zwhatever 12:10 PM  

D'Oh -

@Anon11:12 - Eddie Murray?

daveyhead 12:14 PM  

Can’t argue with most of Rex’s comments (complaints?) but still one of my fastest Fridays in a while (which isn’t too fast objectively, lol)

bocamp 12:15 PM  

@Anonymous (11:12 AM)

Albie said it: Vida Blue. ⚾️

g -2

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

It is Vida Blue. Not sure why that's a trick answer. He was a switch hitter, and he was an MVP. There's no trick.
One of your last two observations is a bit cock-eyed. Lots of pitchers bat with their opposite hand, i.e. a left-handed pitcher will bat right-handed and a right-handed pitcher will bat left-handed both for the same reason: to protect their pitching arm. When they bat from the opposite side the money maker is not exposed to a pitch. That you limited that phenomenon to lefties makes the observation, at the very least incomplete, and at worst incorrect because it excludes a sizeable part of the people who do it.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

I get the reference to the Oakland A's, but there are A teams and B teams and for that reason I do not prefer this clue.

Canis Nebula 12:17 PM  

How about the fact that Joe Lewis ARENA doesn't exist anymore, but the clue uses the present tense in describing it?

Zwhatever 12:21 PM  

@albatross shell 12:01 - Yep - Vida Blue for the American League. Chipper Jones in the NL. That Murray never finished higher than second just reinforces the conclusion I reached in 1987 that the BBWAA are, as a collective, idiots (let's just ignore that I deleted my first guess because - well - comedy and baseball are so close)

Great Question @anon11:12.

albatross shell 12:22 PM  

The War on Poverty is long and unending but hardly a War Epic. A political epic. Metaphor is not fact. But you are welcome to define words as you please. So non-military war epic. Now war is truly redundant, maybe.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Sorry Shell didn't see the Eddie Murray comment.
No, he never won an MVP but he did finish second twice. Back to back years.
In 1982 Robin Yount rightfully won it. but 1983 may be different question. Cal Ripken won it, but the vote was close-- I don't know how close, but close for an MVP award which are often runaways). Some folks, including me thought Murray was the more valuable Oriole that year.
Denny MacLain comes top mind as a vastly, vastly over-rated player including his MVP year, but Ripken is wildly over-rated too.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

What year should Murray have won MVP?

Cheater cheater 12:29 PM  

Count me in the camp that considered this a fun and challenging puzzle even though like @Joaquin I confidently stuck in LAOTZE even the dang book is in our bookshelves. This gave me loads of trouble including the idea might be LG IS for life (perhaps LG should consider this as a slogan?)
@LMS and Frantic, I’ve missed all bird feeder/squirrel action this year because we were advised to take down bird feeders due to the mysterious deaths of songbirds. I’m not sure if they ever figured out what caused that!
To close, I ended up doing a surgical cheat (to get SCAR) and was able to finish the puzzle (I know, technically DNF)

TTrimble 12:37 PM  

I too had struggled earlier getting to p. I expect you'll get there though.

td 0 (lucked out on my last entry, and hoping that'll stick in my memory)

Joe Dipinto 12:45 PM  

"I Love New York" is not a song, it's a tourism jingle. I don't care if it was picked up as our state anthem. Just look how vacuous the words are:


There isn't another like it.
No matter where you go.
And nobody can compare it.
It's win and place and show.
New York is special.
New York is diff'rent
'Cause there's no place else on earth
Quite like New York
And that's why


Not to dis Steve Karmen, who was a talented composer and very successful jingle writer, but ILNY should be fired pronto and replaced with "New York State Of Mind", a real song with real, evocative lyrics by our quintessential native son/songwriter.

albatross shell 12:54 PM  

Trick because you usually do not think of pitchers as MVP's nor in discussions of hitters. Nothing wrong or underhanded about it. It adds depth to the question instead of it just being trivia. I think Ruth might have been an answer to a question about ERA in world series or some such at one time. Right-handers batting lefty is rare but not as rare as the other way around at least %-wise. Equally irrelevant to the discussion. Vida Blue a lefty so I mentioned it. Don't get so excited. Yes I know why pitchers do it. But thanks anyway. Every good baseball trivia question has a meaningful answer. This one does.

mmorgan 1:00 PM  

RErun messed me up. All the squirrels I know eat acorns. (NUTLETS?!?!?). Some struggle here, some fun there… at least the .puz file link is still working!!!

Pete 1:07 PM  

I disliked the puzzle more than, but for largely the same reasons, as did @Rex.

@Loren - Two solutions for squirrels at the bird feeder

1) Mount the feeder on a pole at least 6' above ground. Place a slinky (the real metal kind, not some cheap plastic crap who's only benefit is that it won't poke some kid's eyes out) around the pole, attached at one end (I would suggest the top end) to the bottom of the bird feeder, and let it hang down.
2) A terrier. One of the real obnoxious terriers, say a Rat terrier or a Jack Russell.

Frantic Sloth 1:30 PM  

@Joaquin 1049am Loved the clip. Better version than this old chestNUTLET."

@TTrimble 1141am Thanks for the good news. πŸ‘

@Cheater cheater 1229am Oh, no! That's horrible news! Did that tragic mystery abate at least?? I can't imagine how many songbirds had to die before someone took notice and then someone offered the (hopeful) solution! 😒

@J-Dip 1245pm I'd like to second your NYS anthem proposal. That is love song to New York.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

This puzzle seemed a bit too medical, what with STAPH, THROMBI, CT SCANNER, and SCAR. Yikes!

old timer 1:32 PM  

"Other than the awfulness of the NUTLET, ARTCINE, RITT crossing..." Yes, and other than the awfulness of your husband being shot, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? This puzzle was so awful I actually DNF'd in silent protest. I simply refused to sully my pen by writing "SOOTS" as a verb. Though I would have loved "pots" as an answer to "covers with chimney grime." And of the three cited words, the only one I can accept is RITT, though I got that only on crosses.

I do like watching squirrels cavort on my neighbor's roof. Though I can't resist reciting "and maybe we'll do in a SQUIRREL or two when we're poisoning pigeons in the park." Tom Lehrer corrupted two generations of American children, maybe three by now, bless him! If you get the chance to see "Tomfoolery" in your town, I recommend it. One of those shows that are very popular with community THEATRE groups everywhere.

Omigod, I could not resist watching those clips posted by @LMS. Though I have to say, the classical music mashup, when shown to the aliens, might convince them we were definitely to silly to be allowed to survive. OTOH, the flashmob one, from Banco Sabadell, would surely convince any right-minded aliens we are far too cute to deserve anything bad happening to us.

zephyr 1:32 PM  

He was host fie ages. Very funny - took me a while to see that.

Frantic Sloth 1:39 PM  

@TTrimble Forgot to mention that between Skeptical Cat and Carlin, my funny nerve is indebted to you. 😁

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Cucumbers are a fruit, not a veggie. It was at this moment I knew all was lost

Frantic Sloth 1:44 PM  

@Anonymous 1215pm Doesn't batting right-handed expose the left arm and vice versa for batting left?

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

isn't the 'normal' syntax SCARred for Life? shouldn't the answer have been LUST for Life?

bocamp 2:01 PM  

@TTrimble (12:37 PM) πŸ‘ for 0

And, thx for the encouragement!; I need it today. :)

g -2 (spinning wheels)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Adam 2:05 PM  

So agree with @Rex on this one. I hated nearly every minute of it. Too many bad crossings (e.g., NUIT/TIOGA) and bad clues and bad answers (SOOTS, NUTLETS, et al.) A poor experience for a Friday puzzle. No "aha" moment at the end, just a "thank God". My last square was the M of TEAM/TAMES, because there is a B team and a C team; I didn't even grok that it was the Oakland A's until I read @Rex. Grrr.

Cheater cheater 2:16 PM  

@Frantic, they still have not figured it out but it has affected the Midwest (the part east of the Mississippi), to the northeast and mid-Atlantic States. Tends to be seen in blue jays, cardinals, robins, starlings and grackles and they think it is neurological. The whole thing schooled me on what a “song bird” is because I don’t tend to think of starlings and grackles as song birds (maybe they are the Louis Armstrongs of song birds). We do tend to get cardinals and blue jays (although they are bullies) at our bird feeders so feeders are down for the year and until they figure it out.

Hack mechanic 2:17 PM  

Went with lottopics & lost for 1A & 1D. Works for me 😜

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

this whole right-handed, left-handed stuff has bugged me since Little League. I'm inherently right-handed, but inherently left-hand at the plate. pissed off the 'adult manager' no end. I told him why, but he ignored me.

here's why. Handedness is determinative, thus right-handed also means right-footed (ask any karate, tai-chi, or kung fu practitioner which is easier: a round house with the left or right foot? one might think that footedness would determine which foot should be planted, but of course that's not it), and right-eyed. if you're at the plate in 'conventional' right-handed stance, your left, recessive, eye faces the pitcher. not a smart way to avoid a 100mph slider.

Teedmn 2:40 PM  

This was a wee bit tougher for me than the average Friday, mostly because the SE brought me to a momentary halt with its RITT, ART CINE and NUTLETS.

Got my start in the NE with the OED/HELMETS cross. I credit Jack McDevitt with allowing me to splatz in ARE WE ALONE based only on the first E. I'm currently reading book 5 of the Priscilla Hutchins series and those books are all about finding whether we ARE ALONE, in the Milky Way Orion arm at least. Turns out we both are and aren't. There are relics from star-traveling races but the only existing intelligent life still around is at a pre-technology level. Seems we computer-using races tend to blow ourselves up. But wait, in book 5, we seem to be running into a present day group which is objecting to our building a particle accelerator in space which could rip a hole in the space-time continuum, oops. Yeah, it's pure space-opera stuff but fun in its way.

Kale morphed into CUKE, whew. Not a fan of kale.

And REAIR looks like something associated with ART CINE, too many vowels for English.

Thanks, Randolph Ross. I appreciate the explanation of RIFER over at xwordinfo.

Nancy 2:40 PM  

@Joe D -- Yes, I love the Billy Joel ode to NYC, too. OTOH, I might have pushed for "New York, New York" for the anthem (which is the way it's often treated, btw) because it captures the pulse of the city better ("New York State of Mind" is a lot more languid than most of our population). And "NY, NY" does have one of my favorite lines: "Those little town blues/Are melting away..." But it IS awfully egocentric, egomaniacal, even: It's much more about the singer than the city. When Sinatra's that singer, you may not mind so much, but still...

How about a song that fully captures the pulse of the city without once mentioning New York at all? But there's no other city it could possibly be. Can anyone guess which song I have in mind? Joe?

Tom T 2:43 PM  

my first 4 answers in the NW were PBJ, ILOVE, CUKE, and SEETHINGS, which left 1 across ending with PICS. I was so proud that I knew that the rest of that answer ("Everybody is talking about them") had to be instaPICS. That slowed things down a bit!

Still I finished ahead of my Friday average. And I'm glad to find out that I was not the only person to have SUN_n_ and enter SUNunu--Yikes!

I was on my share of B Teams, so that clue for TEAM caused me consternation until Rex provided the explanation.

TTrimble 2:46 PM  

That flash mob was priceless! The bride has me smiling just thinking of her.

Upstater 2:56 PM  

@Nancy Except there is more to NY than just NYC. It's a big state.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Inherently right-handed but inherently left handed at the plate? Hmm.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Song birds are more properly known as passerines.
Whatever is affecting them, its provenance is unlikely neurological. Afflicted birds seem to have neurological deficits, but that is almost certainly a symptom not a cause.

Anon 2:21
No such thig as a 100 mph slider. Besides sliders aren't the problem. they break down and away. no, four-seam fastballs...

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

Sinatra is from Jersey not NY. I'd mind if NY, NY, were the state song. It's rubbish, written for an even worse movie. Sung in that movie by the worzt. That's worzt with a Z.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

there is more to NY than just NYC. It's a big state.

It's even bigger than that. Fully half of the real estate in the western counties of CT are owned by the Rich and Beautiful of NYC. Not that they actually stay here all that much. :)

Anonymous 3:21 PM  


so, what's rong with a bit of hyperbole? :)

OISK 3:27 PM  

Surely the clue should have been"on which HMS Pinafore sailed" . Join you in liking this puzzle..

BurnThis 3:38 PM  

Customers before clientele, and rerun before reair (sorry red squiggly line, that is a word) made the SE corner tougher than it had to be!

OISK 3:39 PM  

Sure it is not your choice, but I like "Lullaby of Broadway" (sung by Jerry Ohrbach) and They say the neon lights are bright..

Eniale 3:48 PM  

Anonymous 1:54, I'm so glad I wasn't the only one caught trying "lust" for life; agree whole-heartedly about SCARred. Seems to me there was some best-seller long ago about van Gogh or Michelangelo or some other artist called "Lust for Life."

I had a humiliating total collapse in the SW; got stuck with "classic" instead WARPIC (ironically had first tried "Warfilm").

pg -4 as usual.

Dr. Botkin 3:53 PM  

Anon 3:06 said "No such thig as a 100 mph slider. Besides sliders aren't the problem. they break down and away. no, four-seam fastballs..."

NOT ! A slider from a right-hander will break down and away from a right-handed batter and toward a leftie. A screw-ball will do the opposite. A curve will break down (north-to-south). With a knuckleball, it's every pitch is on its own.

Nancy 4:11 PM  

Point taken, @Upstater (2:56). Sincere apologies.

@OISK (3:39) -- "Lullaby" was the first song I thought of and perhaps my favorite of the bunch. But it's not inclusive enough: it deals with a tiny subset of the city.

Reveal yourself, @Anon 3:10!! That may be the funniest and wittiest capsule review I've read since Dorothy Parker's "She ran the gamut of emotion from A to B." Poor Liza -- though I don't much like her either. You're not a professional theater critic by any chance, are you, Anon 3:10?

jbh 4:18 PM  

Screwed up a number of places, including MELO for 35D and SUNUNU for 25A

emily 4:23 PM  

Stetson fir me, too!

Joe Dipinto 4:28 PM  

@Nancy – I know what song you are talking about. "Another Hundred People" is also NYC-centric though, and seems a bit too ensconced in 1970 to me (an answering service? What's that?). I kind of hate the Kander/Ebb "New York, New York", precisely because it embodies every "my shot to make it in the big city!" cliche in the book.

I like "New York State of Mind"'s slow-down-and-notice-things wistfulness: you can visit different neighborhoods (Chinatown, Riverside), you can ride the bus out of the city up the Hudson...but there's definitely a State Of Mind, an "attitude" if you will, wherever you go.

Joe Dipinto 4:52 PM  

@Anon 3:10 – that's very funny. Total agreement, couldn't have said it better.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

Sorry Nancy but you won’t like my identity. Over the years you’ve called me troll, a hater, called on mods to nuke my posts and worse.
What you’ve never called is wrong so at least you’re one up on one of the other folks who tries to suck all the oxygen out of the room.

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

I know Doc.
The point was speed. No slider is thrown at 100 mph.

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

Joe D
Thanks. ( and in fairness, thanks also to Nancy. Please forgive my less than gracious response)
I’m sentimental so I dont trust my judgment in a lot of areas.
But Joel’s NY State of Mind has always been incredibly moving to me. Really, out of all proportion.
Once I was mad for a girl living near Stony Brook. I used to play that for her over the phone…… Don’t judge meπŸ˜‚πŸ˜…

Unknown 5:45 PM  

I had LUST for life for the longest time, a la Iggy Pop. That slowed me down a bit. But satisfied to finish w/o cheating.

Anoa Bob 6:03 PM  

My solve buzz went on a rollercoaster ride with this one. There were some really nice, interesting, well-clued entries but at the same time some real groan-inducing clunkers, both highlighted amply in previous comments.

In retrospect. I shouldn't have been surprised. I think that the relatively low number of black squares in this grid, 26, is always bound to exact a price on the quality of some of the fill of any puzzle.

I recently did an entire year of NYT archived Friday puzzles (not all at the same time!) and my feeling is that around 30-32 black squares is the sweet spot for themeless puzzles.

Former sailor here and I'd say the "Water color" of OCEAN BLUE depends mainly on depth.* The blue of near-shore OCEAN water generally gets lighter as it gets shallower but the blue of open OCEAN is a deep, almost hypnotically deep blue. OCEAN going sailors are known as "blue water" sailors.

*In near-shore OCEAN waters, bottom composition, sand vs grass for example, can also affect water color.

TTrimble 6:09 PM  

In response to @Joaquin's vid: since one good turn deserves another, here is another big flash mob: Antwerp.

(Warning to @Frantic Sloth: it's not Edelweiss, but there is potential for throat lumpage.)

Cheater cheater 6:16 PM  

@anon 3:06…right you are! I learned that the term song bird refers to passerines when I was looking into the whole bird feeder “take down.” Perhaps I should have said neurological symptoms…dunno…like Mad Cow or a virus. I wasn’t looking at goofy websites. They also say the dead birds all seem to have crusty eyes from discharge. It’s all speculative at this point but I’m guessing someone has put some brain cells under a microscope. I have a hawthorn tree behind my house and all birds go crazy for the red berries so I figure soon the hawthorn tree will be like a big bird feeder I can’t control.

Joaquin 6:24 PM  

@TTrimble (6:09) - Another great flash mob - my second favorite (and the first I ever saw) to the Russian one. How can you not feel good after watching it?

Unknown 6:50 PM  

Really disliked most of this puzzle, but have to specifically object to the notion that the "C's" are not a team. Not just any team, but the most successful team in NBA history

Sian 7:25 PM  

I really enjoyed this. Lots of fun clues and fill and not too many names of people I've never heard of. Finished in a sunnier mood than when I started which is my mark of a good puzzle.

CreamyT 7:32 PM  

Cruised through this until REAIR with RITT and TOADIEDUP, and a complete natick on NUIT/TIOGA, not a clue what either of those are. Nothing particularly interesting, but I always enjoy a lot of open space to work with. Had fun until that last crossing.

albatross shell 7:38 PM  

Downtown? Take the A train?opposite directions? Not sure either is @aNancy style.

The Trolley Song? Oops thats St. Louis.

albatross shell 10:20 PM  

@anon 1112am
We seem all to be wrong after looking stuff up. Your question does not specify American League. So the answer is Jimmy Rollins. In the National League after Blue there was Pete Rose, Willie McGee, Terry Pendleton, Ken Caminiti, and Chipper Jones. All switch-hitters.

Also in 1962, the year Mantle won his third MVP a switch-hitter (not known for his hitting) also won the NL MVP award. He is ?.

Harry 10:34 PM  

An average solve time for a Friday for me. But absolutely one of the more bizarre solving experiences I've encountered to date.

Late Thursday, I pushed through half of the puzzle, with a fair amount of jumping around, in about 10 min. Then I spent 5 minutes absolutely stymied from any further progress.

I was so thoroughly blocked that I held little hope of completion and set the puzzle aside. I returned this evening, resumed staring the another 5 minutes, and then a crack opened up when I finally saw "cLOYS" for "sickens with sweetness" from the lone "c". Everything opened up with that, even unrelated portions of the puzzle that had eluded me to that point.

I've long recognized that one's perspective at any moment can influence a solve. I don't recall my perspective to have even been in such flux for a given puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 11:36 PM  

And then the aliens zapped the flash mob participants into a mound of dust. "We already have enough recipes for our cookbook," one was heard to observe.

stephanie 12:07 AM  

well, after typing in a record ZERO guesses after finishing the across clues, i thought i was surely doomed. but somehow i got it done in an hour, despite being a technical DNF because i had to google the norma rae director as well as the SILAS duo (i had THROMBS and knew that SSLAS couldn't be right but was it SOLAS? no, it wasn't), and NUIT/SUN TZU to polish off the last few squares. i actually figured out early on the quote author would be someone chinese, but i just couldn't think of anyone, which ended up a bit silly since art of war is actually sitting on our bookcase! though in my defense, it belongs to my partner and i've never read it.

i had CUSTOMERS before CLIENTELE, thinking i was sooooo clever and smart, before realizing i had to let go of the one thing i felt sure about early on. likewise i guessed DEWEY for the librarian surname, again patting myself on the back for being such a witty genius. alas. the sandwich is PBANDJ, not PBJ. had NIBLETS before NUTLETS which...okay...but for a long, long time i wanted to type ART CINE but didn't because i thought i was just making it up. eventually i googled ART CINE at the end, being so stuck there, and thought i confirmed i was definitely wrong when google offered nothing except corrections. i even tried using google translate to see if ART CINE meant something in french. it doesn't. usually that kind of BS is reserved for much shorter answers so i was really disappointed with that one.

on a slightly more fun reveal, after filling in TOADIED UP i had to google it because it just didn't seem real. my dad and his brother sometimes would call each other "toady man" in a teasing way in this very particular sing-songy voice reserved solely for the phrase, but i really never thought about it having any greater meaning than calling someone a slimy warty animal, tbh. but now i know.

idk, for a friday i felt pretty accomplished for how much i was able to do on my own, and many of the answers felt satisfying to finally unravel since they involved vocab and not PPP. but at the same time, it wasn't particularly fun or interesting either, esp compared to the last couple days for me. could've been worse, could've been better.

stephanie 12:31 AM  

@albatross shell as a diehard bruins fan i can confirm that we do say "go b's!" on the regular, and next to the team itself my favorite part of hockey is our NESN announcer jack edwards - who does call them the b's on occasion. "the b's vs. the habs" "the b's are buzzing! [around the hive!]" etc. that said, oddly i got TEAM right away despite the fact that i couldn't even tell you what sport the A's play, only that they're a team that exists. furthermore, didn't even think of the b's also being a team until @micheal's comment. go figure! it's not official though, you're right, and i guess that's why it didn't register.

Scott Loveless 1:04 PM  

I was hoping that unlike this puzzle, you would tick all my boxes, and you did! I Nutlets?? Toadied up? Soots as a verb?? Art Cine?? That southeast part was brutal for me. Thanks for a great review!!

TAB2TAB 1:16 PM  

Got me right with 1A. Once I had xxxxxPICS, I could not un-see PICS. What kind of PICS is everyone talking about? Got to xxxTxPICS and I was sure everyone talks about booTy PICS. Even got to xOTTOPICS and thought, 'well, I guess you could talk about your mOTTO PICS.

As in life, it can be really hard to let go. Especially when it involves booty pics.

thefogman 11:04 AM  

Tough one and not very rewarding. Plenty of iffy fill and bad cluing. Rex was spot on in his critique. Waitning to see what Burma does with 42D…

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

The puzzle held promise, but was mortally injured by unknown names/people and "nutlets". NUTLETS!

Diana, LIW 2:11 PM  

Half way through I was certain I wouldn't finish. But then I did. A couple of unknown names, as usual. Wanted some kind of "INSTAPICS" to start. Lack of phone knowledge tempted me. But I got the CT Scan misdirect right off the bat.

Diana, LIW

Burma Shave 4:38 PM  


but ULTIMATELY it grows STALE.


sorry @thefogman, but was thinking about NUTLETS

leftcoaster 5:23 PM  

Have to agree with most of Rex’s critique.

Best of the entries: AREWEALONE? Worst: NUTLETS (humanoids of future encounters?).

PPP’s, especially obscure proper names, are troublesome. Today was no different.

Overall, thought it was an interesting challenge.

spacecraft 12:23 AM  

Who remembers...

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the OCEANBLUE.
The sun was hot, the crew kept cryin':
"Ask the man for Ballantine!"

Hey, getcha cold beer; hey, get your Ballantine;
Hey, getcha cold beer, get your ice cold Ballantine beer!

Ah, those were the days. Byrum Saam and Connie Mack Stadium.

*pop* Wh-where am I? Oh yeah, the puzzle. Cool memory there, but overall rough around the edges. In particular, I almost tore out the entire SW because how could we have EREADER/READE? Like OFC said, even READE clued that way. Tsk. Once again, we see the wide rift between constructors who care and those who...just don't.

I'll give this one a par because it was Friday tough and I feel charitable.

Perhaps the excellent showing by Team USA on Day 1 of the Ryder Cup had something to do with it.

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