Pacific evergreen with orange-red bark / FRI 10-1-21 / Fictional home with a secret basement / Written designs that are also readable when flipped or rotated

Friday, October 1, 2021

Constructor: Jim Horne and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: THE BAT CAVE (57A: Locale below 17-Across, as suggested by three images in this puzzle's grid)  — there are three black-square configurations in the grid that are supposed to represent bats, which makes ... the whole grid, I guess ... a representation of THE BAT CAVE, which sits, as the clue states, below WAYNE MANOR (17A: Fictional home with a secret basement)

Word of the Day: Caber TOSS (13D: Caber ___ (Scottish athletic event)) —
The caber toss is a traditional Scottish athletic event in which competitors toss a large tapered pole called a "caber" (/ˈkeɪbə/). It is normally practised at the Scottish Highland Games. In Scotland the caber is usually made from a Larch tree and it can be between 16–20 feet (4.9–6.1 m) tall and weighs between 90–150 pounds (6.4–10.7 st; 41–68 kg). The term "caber" derives from the Gaelic word cabar, which refers to a wooden beam. (wikipedia)
• • •

Really really feel like I've seen this conceit before. Not THE BAT CAVE, exactly, but the whole "look, these black squares are actually bats" thing. They could just as easily be moths or threes or "E"s but if you say "bat," then OK, that's what they are. Not really getting where the "cave" is, or how it is "suggested" by anything in this puzzle. I guess this is supposed to be a Halloween-ish theme, because it's the first of October ... the month that contains Halloween? I'm having to infer a lot today. I'll spare you all my usual complaining about themed Fridays (or Saturdays), since I've been over all that so many times. Today's grid did have a typical themeless answer count (72), but did not feel like it, probably because of the seeming preponderance of very short answers. Lots more 3s and 4a than I expect (or typically want) to see in my late-week themelesses. But the grid seems solid enough, and if you like whimsy in your grid design, this definitely has it. Not much to get excited about in the fill, though SHOVEL-READY is pretty nice, and I kind of like the clue on RADAR SCREEN (35A: Range of consideration, metaphorically). I'd never heard of MADRONA or AMBIGRAMS, so there was some hold-up there (the MADRONA hold-up being more serious because it prevented me from turning a corner, from the NW into the W), but mostly this felt easy. 

Five things:
  • 62A: ___ urbis conditae (ANNO) — "in the year since the founding of the city"; the city in question is Rome, and "AUC" (or "AVC") was used as a dating system, with the traditional date of Rome's founding (753 B.C.E.) used as the reference point. As wikipedia usefully points out, the year 1 B.C.E. would be 753 AUC, and 2021 would be 2774 AUC. It's a weird phrase to expect people to know. 
  • 4A: Like Marcia, among the Brady Bunch" daughters (ELDEST) — I (still) never know if an answer like this is going to be OLDEST or ELDEST. Looks like ELDEST is more typically used for people.
  • 29D: Driver around a lot? (ADAM) — ADAM Driver is an actor, so presumably he can (sometimes) be found around a (movie) lot.
  • 42D: Jaime ___ a.k.a. the Bionic Woman (SOMMERS)
     — I grew up with the Bionic Woman as an iconic TV figure. My sister once got a Jaime SOMMERS head where you could style ... her hair, I guess, though now that I think about it, what the hell is "bionic" about her hair. They were probably just trying to turn Jaime into a conventional "girls" toy, and I guess it worked, though the toy didn't survive the Christmas season—my sister left Jaime's head in front of the fire one evening and Jaime's face just melted and caved in. Very memorable and awesome childhood experience. My main point here was going to be that I thought she was a "Jamie," not a "Jaime," but the melted-face story was fun to relive. Jaime SOMMERS was played by Lindsay Wagner, who was also in the first "Rockford Files" episode, as well as the movie "The Paper Chase," which I just watched. She's Houseman's daughter. I know a weird lot of Jaime SOMMERS-related stuff.
  • 52D: Inits. that often precede "+" (LGBTQ) — I really like this clue. The queerness angle comes as a complete surprise. You do not see it coming. Clue looks mathy or maybe sciencey, and then boom, rainbow flag. Enjoyed that discovery.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:20 AM  

I don't understand @Rex's (and many of my fellow solvers') problem with having a themed puzzle on Friday or Saturday. For me, this just added to the fun and the grid art added even more.

Never before heard the word AMBIGRAM but it now qualifies as one of the best words I have ever learned doing crosswords. Love the concept.

As a "car guy" I must confess to never having seen a SOLAR CAR. But a Wiki search tells me the Lightyear One is expected to be produced in the not-too-distant future by a Dutch automaker.

Anonymous 12:42 AM  

I did not understand the answers for either KEG or KIWI. I filled them in, since they seemed vaguely related, but I still don't understand.

jae 12:47 AM  

Easy. Tuesday’s was tougher than this one. ANNO (as clued) and AMBIGRAMS were WOEs, but I had no erasures. Campy but too easy, liked it.

Elaine2 12:52 AM  

It is a madrone tree, not madrona. V er y anno ying!

Anon 1:32 AM  

"Jaime's face just melted and caved in. Very memorable and awesome childhood experience." I've been reading this blog for 10+ years, and this is my favorite comment to date. I got Steve Austins's and Jaime Sommer's inflatable, transparent laboratory for Xmas in 1976. It lasted one playtime before it was gone.

okanaganer 1:35 AM  

Big comic book vibe tonight: Wayne Manor, the Batcave, the Avengers.

I finished with an error, because I well know the MADRONE tree, but I have never heard of a MADRONA. (In Canada we call them Arbutus; they are pretty neat cuz they're broadleaf evergreens, look like Figs, but they grow natively all over the place. In Canada!) Google says MADRONA is used some places in the states, so... I don't like it but tough on me.

Some years ago I was commuting to work on Hwy 97 into Kelowna, stopped dead in the bumper to bumper morning rush. Whizzing by on the paved shoulder was a dude on a bicycle, with a huge solar panel on his front rack, like he was delivering a giant black pizza. Wires leading to a motor in the back, travelling 10x the speed of vehicle traffic. Hilarious! Not a SOLAR CAR but a solar bike.

[SB: today(thurs): 0. QB for 3 days in a row. Yay me!]

chefwen 1:52 AM  

Well, those BATS flew right over my head. I didn’t even think to look for something to tie this all together. So used to having a themeless Friday. When I sensed some sort of old a theme, which I didn’t pursue I was eagerly awaiting Rex’s rage.

Never heard of a MADRONA evergreen, it sounds like a COVID variant that we will all have to get another shot for.

Rique Beleza 2:04 AM  

What? No foaming rant about bullfighting?

okanaganer 2:31 AM  

Oh oh!! Have to mention Lindsay Wagner (Bionic Woman) was the first woman I had a huge teenage crush on. I had this poster on my wall. Ayyyya!

chefwen 2:35 AM  

@anon 12:42. After a KEG or a barrel of beer, those imbibing are apt to have fun, a KIWI is a flightless bird native to New Zealand.

Chaiminded 3:15 AM  

good call,Rique!

Loren Muse Smith 4:26 AM  

I totally missed that there are bats flying around (morning, @chefwen) and that it’s October 1st. I’m suddenly filled with nostalgia for my elementary school days where we ushered in new seasons by fashioning appropriate decorations out of construction paper. My second-grade teacher always trusted me to do any important cutting for bulletin board fare, and I was secretly thrilled with her confidence.

IOUS before IDOS. Defensible.

I overuse the expression RADAR SCREEN. Like, I’m just not on his RADAR SCREEN. (George Clooney’s)

Whenever I see a toddler, a fledgling walker, I’m reminded of my grad school days lurching toward that barrel of fun for my 23rd beer. Jeez Louise, how did I ever get my degree?

My brother-in-law is a builder, and I can’t wait to slip in SHOVEL READY. I’ll practice so that I present as being "in the business." I’m always amazed at the ANTICS of his customers, how they show up every day and point out stuff. They yell. They threaten. They make asses of themselves. They scream at the poor guys driving the nails and painting. Mike builds beautiful well-built homes, high-end homes. He said on one site, the helpful, alert owner would go in at night and leave sticky notes everywhere with nasty directives on what needs to be done. I’ve had only one house built, and I would sneak in at night and leave 12-packs of Dr. Pepper and potato chips. It seems obvious that you want these people to like you and want to do right by you. Right?

I could look at AMBIGRAMs all day and never stop admiring them. How do people come up with this stuff?

Loved the clue for MATT. Little-known fact: Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s birth name is actually Hugh Jarms.

Andrea 4:34 AM  

@Rex, what’s wrong with complementing the BATCAVE (in the Spanish version it’s called “la baticueva”) with actual bat images? I’m sure there were plenty in Bruce Wayne’s particular one…

“La mujer biónica” was my favorite show growing up. Jame Sommers kicked ass!

Also, count me in amongst those who enjoy a themed Friday!

Ann Howell 5:02 AM  

Having reached the end of Netflix somewhere mid-lockdown, we re-watched The DaVinci Code the other night, which was helpful for AMBIGRAM. Otherwise, enjoyed this one, as I always enjoy a Friday that doesn't make me completely rip my hair out!

Shirley F 6:21 AM  

In Northern California we call them "madrone." They have extremely hard wood and the bark is quite red, and sheds at certain times of year. Madrones have creamy white flowers that hummingbirds and bumblebees like. While in bloom they are so colorful that a painting depicting them realistically might draw scoffs that the artist must have exaggerated. They were always a favorite subject for my camera when on hikes -- red branches reaching outward into the deep blue Western sky.

Alas, I now live in the east and only see the madrone on the photos I've turned into screen savers. And here i am trying to figure out why "edam" is driving around lots.

Conrad 6:31 AM  

Lots of unknowns for me, most of which have already been pointed out and were fairly crossed. But I nearly DNF'd on MADRONA -- a total WOE -- crossing the Driver around a lot. I read the clue and without looking at the grid thought "valet." That didn't fit, but I couldn't break out of the chauffeur mindset.

Z 6:37 AM  

Chen and I just do not have the same interests. WAYNE MANOR and AVENGERS was enough to make me yawn. The three “bats” are the weakest grid art Ive ever seen. Needing THE to make BAT CAVE work asymmetrically elicited a “geezus you can’t be serious.”

LONG TERM and DEAD SILENT made me think they were listening to our conversation yesterday (@Nancy - When Norm MacDonald died my first reaction was “I hate it when people my age die”). And like Rex I liked the RADAR SCREEN clue and I decided the open malapop trap was more feature than bug. But mostly this was a big heaping pile of “not my cuppa.”

@Stephanie late last night - Scroll down to entry 3 of 7. For some of us this particular usage was fairly obvious, but it seems several people have never heard it or didn’t realize what the term actually meant.

Z 6:52 AM  

Madroño anyone? Click on the little pronunciation icon and hear why sensible spellers use a terminal A instead of a terminal E. That terminal E makes it look like the word ends in a long O sound with a silent E instead of with an extra syllable and a schwa - terminal E’s are often silent and indicate the preceding vowel is long. Think of the difference between dun and dune or din and dine (but let’s not consider don and done which is a homophone for dun - geezus I hate spelling) The tree is new to me, but after yesterday’s low bewilderment I can’t help but wonder how people who know it as a MADRONe pronounce the word? Are you all saying it with three syllables?

Okoume 6:53 AM  

Keg is a beer keg
Kiwi refers to the flightless bird

OffTheGrid 7:10 AM  

This was a theme-lite, very lite. There's no trickiness in the clues or answers. The clue for THE BAT CAVE could have just been "Locale below 17A". A gratuitous reference to some black square grid art isn't much of a theme. BTW, remember the B-2 bombers that were a one square modification of the bats in today's grid?

JD 7:17 AM  

The most interesting thing here was Craps Game, which I threw in as Crapshoot for quite a long time. Wikipedia says, "Craps exploded in popularity during World War II" and the men's "military memories led to craps becoming the dominant casino game in postwar Las Vegas..."

A fun Friday that wandered in from Wednesday, designed to appeal to a wide age range of solvers.

Learning Shovel Ready from my stint with the geologists and geotechs finally came in handy. Hyphen not needed I think. They'd just say it's Shovel Ready.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Most late-week puzzles you speed up as you go along. With hard cluing, you need crosses in place to get answers.

This was the reverse for me; the more I had filled in, the slower I got. Early on, I thought I might be headed for an “easiest Friday ever” comment, but things just got slower and slower, especially in the center four rows.

I have no idea who ADAM is, but he’s nowhere near famous enough for that clue.

RK from Switzerland 7:26 AM  

Keg is a type of barrel that contains beer and, evidently, people have fun drinking beer.

bocamp 7:29 AM  

Thx Jim & Jeff; nice job on this Fri. puz!


Sailed peacefully from the NW clockwise around to N. Cali, ending with MACRO and ATRIA.

Another case of being on the constructors' wavelength.

Played CRAPS in the nether reaches of the ship (far below decks). lol

Grew up in the late 40's early 50's, and when hearing the sound of jets overhead, always had thots of possible MIG attacks. Routine air raid drills (huddling under desks at school) didn't allay these fears.

Fun puzzle!

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

MaxxPuzz 7:30 AM  

I immediately thought the revealer images were stairs going down to the Batcave below Wayne Manor. Never once crossed my mind that they were bats.

Son Volt 7:41 AM  

I wouldn’t call it a themed puzzle - but still not my kind of Friday. The graphics forced all of the flat 3 and 4 letter fill. Some long downs were nice - DEAD SILENT, SHOVEL READY solid. SOLAR CAR and AMBIGRAMS just didn’t do it.

Didn’t know MADRONA or LORETTA. Liked the Bionic Woman entry.

Would have liked a typical Friday.

pabloinnh 7:48 AM  

Today's new word, for me--MADRONA/E. This sounds like a lovely tree and I'm happy to read descriptions of it but a)we don't have them around here and b)I've never heard of it. Didn't help that I had REALSILENT, which admittedly felt wrong, crossing RILE, which while wrong, was at least somewhat plausible. See also LONGTIME for LONGTERM, which made LORETTA and other parts of the east inscrutable for too long. Small victory, inferring the B of AMBIGRAM.

The "bats" looked more like stairs going down to THEBATCAVE. They certainly don't look like any bats I've ever seen.

Mostly liked this as it had some letter combinations that disguised answers, as in PEEKABOO and CRAPSGAME.

Nice chewy Friday, JH and JC. Just Hope you Jointly Construct some more, and thanks for the fun.

Georgia 7:59 AM  


Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Personally, I find a (beer) keg to be a barrel of future depression...

JHC 8:10 AM  

Is SCI really a "college department"? My college had departments of physics and biology and chemistry and geology and astronomy and so forth, but no Science department. I think of that as a high school thing. No?

Abalini 8:19 AM  

Never heard of "madrona", and had "rile" for 40 across, which naturally made 28 down "real silent". Took a while to suss that out.....

Joe R. 8:28 AM  

@kitshef - ADAM Driver is, sadly, very much famous enough for that clue. If I google “actor Adam”, he’s the first result. He’s been in a broad range of works, been nominated for Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes, and a Tony, and starred as one of the two main characters in the latest Star Wars trilogy, which are among the top grossing films of all time. I say “sadly” because I don’t think he’s a great actor, but people seem to think otherwise. And John Oliver has an absurd crush on him which comes up often on his show.

@JHC - Agreed, that’s what I came to the comments to say. I’m sure there must be a college somewhere with a SCIence department, but usually departments are more focused that that.

Frantic Sloth 8:34 AM  

Rex's fondest Christmas memories aren't really like other boys' and girls', are they. Seems this blog was predestined. Thank Gof.

Only noticed the bats after they were pointed out. Big whee.
I'd prefer a themeless Fridee, but no big shakes, especially since this "theme" was barely noticeable.
The puzz itself was a tad easy for its week slot and probably a better fit for a Wednesdee or Thursdee, though then I might have complained about the weak theme.
Poor puzz can't win! But I did enjoy it.

ELMER seems weird without his last name. He could be glue for all I know just sitting there all Fuddless.

@Loren's 426am Grad school imagery reminds me of a favorite video of mine that I'll look for any excuse to post.


amyyanni 8:35 AM  

Kudos, Jeff & Jim. Peppy Friday solve; ready for weekend festivities now. And that this puzzle prompted the Rex story about the melted doll face makes it an instant classic. Love it.

bocamp 8:41 AM  

@okanaganer (1:35 AM) 👍 for 0 td

Congrats on 3 in a row! :)
td pg -1

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Ann B Gram 8:50 AM  

For @Loren Flip the script!


Tim Aurthur 9:05 AM  

The cover of the first issue of Mad Magazine for 1961 pointed out that 1961 was an "upside-down" year. You first read that 1961 was the first upside-down year since 1881, and when you flipped the cover you found out that 1961 was the last upside-down year until 6009. This depressed the hell out of me.

Nancy 9:11 AM  

Filled to the brim with stuff that's not on my RADAR SCREEN -- from TETRIS to THE BAT CAVE to SOMMERS to AVENGERS to AMBIGRAMS. (I know my epigrams, my anagrams, my monograms and my telegrams, but this GRAM I don't know.)

Then you have some really peculiar clue/answers. How is "no longer following" LOST? (I initially had paST). Why is "snitch on" NARC for someone who isn't a NARC? If you're not a NARC, it seems to me you can only TATTLE or BLAB or SING.

I think of RADAR SCREEN as being more about the things you know than about the things you consider.

Is that locker room really DEAD SILENT in the face of a stunning upset (28D)? You might also hear a lot of screaming, such as: "You [bleeping] [bleep-of-a-bleep]! You totally [bleeped] up today!! A five-year-old child could have caught my [bleeping] pass!!!"

(And why have I never heard of that Pacific evergreen?)

For me this was hard. And not in a good way, though I did smile at SHOVEL READY when I finally got it. But too much was completely out of my wheelhouse. And the "grid art" did absolutely nothing for me in terms of either interest or enjoyment. It never does.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

@kitshef: Adam Driver is a very well known actor and certainly more "famous enough" for a clue than the names of osbcure rappers that clutter up most puzzles these days.

The use of MADRONA, instead of madrone, is just another example of Will Shortz's abominable editing. Add this to the list that included "giro" for "gyro" a week or so ago. It's appalling, really.

Birchbark 9:18 AM  

I smell ERAT. Or was it a bat?

I liked the DEAD SILENT locker room after the game. Alternative clue: "Like the Vikings locker room, many a halftime."

My father sometimes introduced me as "our ELDEST," especially in the elementary-school years. I went along with it, worked it into my bearing.

Nancy 9:22 AM  

@MaxxPuzz -- You mean they weren't stairs??

SouthsideJohnny 9:22 AM  

Lots of fun stuff today. Kept imagining a Kiwi fruit flying across the room after someone winged it (maybe Nancy?) at the wall in frustration. Serious license taken with some of the clues - companies don’t really hold MBA’s - people do (yes, I know that we can move down the list of definitions for “holdings”, so the clue is legit - but still).

Definitely enjoyed the fact that the Bionic Woman’s face melted - wasn’t the whole premise of the show that the superhero was indestructible (isn’t that pretty much the premise of all that whole genre - well, maybe except for the kryptonite thing). I’ll bet if you look up WOE in the dictionary, one of the definitions is “Open MRI” - that one will definitely not go to the best-of-the-NYT 2021 All Star Game.

NARC means “to snitch on” ? ? - if so, I apparently just woke up after doing a Rip Van Winkle in the BAT CAVE. I expected a multi-paragraph Rex vilification of the clue and answer for 9D - however, he gave us a normal, coherent review - what’s up with that ?

Rube 9:22 AM is NARC a verb? The (on) in the clue aggressively indicates that the answer should be a verb. Can Narc qualify? To NARC? Is that a thing. I was unwilling to put in that C and that caused a slowdown. But otherwise good puz especially for Adam West fans. Had no idea those black squares were bats tho

pabloinnh 9:36 AM  

@Nancy-I was having trouble with LOST too and then I thought of some of the math explanations that show up on the blog. After a while I realize I am "no longer following", i.e., LOST.

Eldreth 9:42 AM  

Except it is spelled with an e not an a. Hence, spelling it with an a is not sensible, it is incorrect.

Keith D 9:50 AM  

Wow, the whiners are out in force today.

Theme in no way interfered with the puzzle, but because Rex whines about it, gives license for others to pile on. Such a predictable and annoying pattern.

Better stop now, lest Z accuse me of whining thus invalidating my comments…

Andrew Heinegg 9:54 AM  

I was reading through the comments, waiting to 'find' someone bringing this up. I was perplexed when I filled it in doing the puzzle. I'm surprised it passed editorial muster. Or, maybe it was the editor's insertion?

bocamp 10:03 AM  

The eagle was our TEAM MASCOT at both my h.s. (Centennial, Gresham, OR) & college (EWU Cheney, WA). 🦅


AMBIGRAMS are cool. Thx @LMS for the link. The first one is a clickable GIF; fascinating!

"Arbutus menziesii or Pacific madrone (commonly madrona in the United States and arbutus in Canada), is a species of broadleaf evergreen tree in the family Ericaceae, native to the western coastal areas of North America, from British Columbia to California." (Wikipedia)
td 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

puzzlehoarder 10:04 AM  

Once again I'm in the minority. This played Saturday tough through the first half of the solve. Biblical names and spelling are not my strong suit. I did a double whammy by entering ISAIH at 20A. Now that I'm actually putting it in in caps it looks very wrong but I was blind to the mistake for a long time. Thanks to this NAIR and ELECTORS came at the end of the solve.

Another big slow down was thinking that 8D involved something tech. Like maybe website construction? I resisted READY for a long time even after having SHOVEL in place.

AMBIGRAMS was an unknown but once I worked my way down to the SE corner the whole SW half of the puzzle fell quickly. I realized I was doing an easy puzzle and just effing it up. MARONA was a complete unknown but by then it didn't amount to a speed bump. ISAAC popped up and the 29D clue became obvious.

KEG was an appropriate start to this puzzle since it felt like I was solving with beer goggles for the first half.

Until I came here I never once thought of this as a themed puzzle and I'm still not convinced.

yd -1

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Wikipedia claims the Siskiyou Mountains acts as the dividing line between madrone/madrona, with the "E" spelling being more common south of the line, and the "A" spelling more common north of the line, until you reach Canada, where they call it arbutus!

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Nice, clear explanation of LOST, @pabloinnh. I get it now. Thanks.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

As teens in the 70s and 80s, we used NARC as both a noun and verb, so its usage in today's puzzle didn't bother me.

RooMonster 10:13 AM  

Hey All !
As @Z @Ω says, you can lawyer the answer THE BAT CAVE as people always say the "THE", but to me it still looks wrong. Just BAT CAVE would've sufficed. Add me to the "stairs" instead of "bats" group.

This puz has what I call Reverse Diagonal Symmetry. You need to fold the puz along the diagonal from square 13 to square 65. Normal Diagonal Symmetry is folded along the other diagonal (square 1 to the lowest SE square). So quite rare, this symmetry. In case you cared. 😁

I found this puz quite tough. The GOYA/ISAAC cross was impossible for me. I've heard of GOYA (so not 100% unknowing of artstuff 😁), but who is Sarah and ISAAC? Is that Bible stuff? KIWI not helping, wanted NENE, or DODO, or EMUS, or LIES. Dang. Managed to suss out most everything else, except had rEAlSILENT as some others. MArRONA sounded like a tree to me. Har. RIlE, RIDE, tomatoe-tomahto. Oh well, win some, LOST some.

Neat getting a Q in here without needing a U. Sorry to those of us who like U's. 😁

Also, sorry to those of us who like F's, as there ain't any. BOO. Har.

Nice tough, semi-themed FriPuz, gents. Too bad the NYT Crossword App didn't put little eyes on the "bats" when you completed the puz. You guys are slacking off!

No F's

Whatsername 10:15 AM  

I kinda liked the grid art except they looked more big M’s or Stealth aircraft to me than bats. I always thought a TORERO was a toreador and never heard of a MADRONA tree, much less how to spell it but it sounds like a pretty one.

I also don’t mind a little bit of a theme on Friday but I do occasionally mind that I’m not likely to ever be on George Clooney‘s RADAR SCREEN. (Hi @Loren.) Or Pierce Brosnan’s. Or Denzel’s. Bruce WAYNE - who if you go all the way back to his origin would be at his ELDEST in his early 80s - is probably more my CLASS. But then that would involve navigating stairs to THE BAT CAVE and I might end up needing an MRI so . . . . Well CRAP, never mind.

Terri 10:19 AM  

Last time I visited my kids in Seattle I was sent to the nursery to buy a MADRONA tree. And I thought “there’s a word I’ll never remember” but eventually, voila, it came back.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

@Keith. Welcome to the whiners club!

@Andrew. Please tell us more.

Carola 10:26 AM  

I liked how THE BAT CAVE was appropriately situated exactly beneath WAYNE MANOR, rather than off in the lower right corner in a usual diagonally balanced grid, also SHOVEL READY leading down toward the CAVE. A smile, too, for the SOLAR CAR rather than the Batmobile. Also nice, the new-season nod to sports with the TEAM MASCOT and DEAD SILENT locker room, the latter on my mind after Badger volleyball's stunning upset by Maryland last week. They go up against Minnesota tonight, hope Bucky Badger can work some magic.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

NARC is a common* term for rat, snitch squeal, etc.

*Common does not necessarily mean known or used by everyone.

Oh, I didn't know that! 10:29 AM  


1:MADRONE is wrong, It's madrone not madrona!!

Rebuttal: Well, respected resources say it is commonly called several things

2: NARC is wrong, it's not a verb!!
Rebuttal: Well, in some cases it is a verb, used as clued

Patricia Plonsker 10:31 AM  


mathgent 10:39 AM  

Typically professional job by Jeff Chen. Very smooth and smart.

I had to look at the grid very carefully to see the diagonal symmetry. The diagonal goes from the upper-right corner to the lower-left corner, cutting the lowest bat in half.

thfenn 10:39 AM  

Fun Friday. Loved the melting face at Christmas, the Lindsay Wagner fan/crushdom, the trip down memory lane with the Rockford Files (lol, my friends and I were Rockford Philes), and even the bat cave. All very much on my RADARSCREEN. TEAMMASCOT took me awhile, partly because I also had LONGTime in there, but eventually got slap-on-the-head recognition. "We are the eagles, mighty mighty eagles. Everywhere we go-o, people wanna kno-ow, who we are, so we tell 'em. We are the eagles, mighty mighty eagles. Everywhere we go-o....(repeat forever). TGIF indeed.

Joseph Michael 10:57 AM  

When I read the clue for 17A, I thought “OH, NO, is this another Harry Potter thing?” and was relieved to discover that it was a Batman thing.

Loved the puzzle. Jeff Chen and Jim Horne should have awarded themselves the POW. Perhaps a little heavy on short fill, but for me this was a BARREL OF FUN from beginning to end. Especially liked learning about AMBIGRAMS.

@frantic, you’re right about the Fuddlessness of ELMER. Leaving off his last name just seems skwewy.

Remember when it used to be LGB? Then some folks felt left out and it became LGBT? But there were still folks who felt left out and it became LGBTQ? And then when that still wasn’t good enough, they finally gave up and added the +? Everybody gets a prize

Wait. Those are BATS? I thought they were EAGLES flying away to become TEAM MASCOTS.

TJS 10:58 AM  

Way too easy for a Friday, which is not the constructors fault. But there didn't seem to be any life to this puzzle, which is.On to the archive to see if I can get a buzz going. Happy Friday. ( Sorry I don't spell the days of the week all cutesy.)

liveprof 10:59 AM  

The Hebrew name equivalent for ISAAC is YITZHAK which means "to laugh," and the baby was given that name because of Sarah's laughter at having a baby at such an advanced age. (It's also the name of my youngest grandson.)

Masked and Anonymous 11:02 AM  

All righty, then! Holy Friday Theme, Batman! Great! (M&A always goes bats for a themed FriPuz.)

staff weeject pick: MRI. And not just any old MRI, mind U … it's the "open" MRI. [M R I]

Cool slaunchwise puzgrid symmetry and 3-bat gridart.

Clues got kinda tough, at times. Lost precious nanoseconds on them clues, plus on the mysterious MADRONA & AMBIGRAMS. fave feisty clue: {Driver around a lot?} = ADAM.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Mr. Horne dude & Chenmeister. More of this FriPuz be-themed stuff, please.

Masked & Anonymo1U


Walk Away Renee 11:04 AM  

Some gorgeous lyrics from your co-Canadian: “I heard it in the wind last night / Sounded like applause / Chilly now, end of summer, no more shiny, hot nights / It was just the arbutus rustling / and the bumping of some logs / And the moon swept down black water like an empty spotlight

Alicat 11:13 AM  

We say madrona here on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. There's a lovely native story about this bark-peeling, twisty branched tree often perched on a coastal crag overlooking the Pacific. She is a tormented maiden tearing her clothes and writhing in distress because her lover, a young warrior, has left in his canoe for distant lands and fallen in love with a different maiden. She waits so long for his return to her that she has been transformed into the amazing madrona.

Russ Pomerantz 11:13 AM  

please, will someone explain the meaning of ppp?

relicofthe60s 11:15 AM  

Lots of madronas where I live. There’s even a road called Madrona Way. And we spell it with the a. Rex and other East Coast folks need to get out more.

Photomatte 11:16 AM  

As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I fell in love with the Dr Seuss-like madrone trees near me. They're not madrona trees - 26 Across (as is evidenced by the red underline just now). It's not that hard to do a little puzzle rearranging so the words are spelled correctly!

jberg 11:17 AM  

Thanks to @Roo and @mathgent for pointing out the symmetry, I don't think I would have figured it out on my own.

I think my memory is going. I have a pretty clear mental vision of the second of my two three-day visits to Hawaii (both stopovers between the US and Australia, to avoid an overlong flight) when at one point I took a rest sitting with my back against a MADRONA tree, and developing an uncomfortable rash a day later. Online sources say the tree is found on the North American West Coast, and do not mention any bark toxicity -- so either it was something else, or maybe Hawaii has a different tree with the same name.

SHOVEL READY projects were talked up a lot in the first Obama term -- they were to get priority under his stimulus program, the ARRA, in order to boost employment quickly. I'm surprised so many have forgotten; there's a little talk about it now in re Biden's stimulus, but not to the same extent.

An enjoyable struggle; hardest part was giving up the idea that 10D, "Enduring," would have to end with -ent. Nice long answers generally.

I did cavil a bit about 51A; gym uniforms are worn by, not with sweaters. Until I figured out TETRIS (which probably delayed completion of my first book by three years), I was looking for some kind of cold LAbS.

Hartley70 11:24 AM  

Best week ever! Three stellar puzzles followed by a theme on Friday, and it’s BATman, the only bat I don’t hate! I’m sending a big thank you to Will Shortz and the constructors. There are some clever minds hiding in that pile of puzzles on Will’s desk.

Today’s puzzle was an unexpected delight. You almost always have me at a visual and this constructor added really interesting fill. AMBIGRAMS and MADRONA are new to me. I was totally unaware of the + sign and liked the KIWI/ISAAC cross. GYMCLASS was good entertainment as was CRAPSGAME. This puzzle just felt fresh and fun.

Z 11:25 AM  

@Eldreth - Didja notice that I linked to a dictionary? Didja notice that the dictionary says MADRONA is an acceptable variation? Didja notice that it actually comes from a Spanish word and that your preferred spelling is a bastardization of the original spelling? Didja?

I'd like to suggest a new corollary to Joaquin's Dictum, the ω corollary*: A solver's ignorance does not make a clue wrong.
And let me suggest the Z corollary to the ω corollary: Before proclaiming something "ωrong" spend at least 42 seconds with Uncle Google (or even read all the comments and links first).

@Keith D - Well gosh, seems like you already realize that you're whining about whining (metawhining, as it were) so you hardly need me to point it out to you.

@Roo - Yep, bible stuff. 90 year old Sarah had 100 year old Abraham and this resulted in her having ISAAC. I was really really hoping Abraham would fit in the grid because nothing says "sacred text" better than geriatric sex puns.
Also - thanks for pointing out the symmetry. At least that provides some justification for the THE. Doesn't stop the THE from being suboptimal, just not quite as suboptimal as I originally thought.

*I was going to use the capital Ω but then realized the lowercase ω could be used in "ωrong" and couldn't resist. The fact that ω looks a little like boobs and the corollaries suggests people stop making themselves look like boobs was purely coincidental. I know I know. It takes some real cojones to suggest such a corollary.

Wanderlust 11:27 AM  

Oh stop being … today’s pangram. 😄

wendy 11:28 AM  

Thanks for the horrifically funny melting doll head story.

Z 11:33 AM  

@jberg - Did you realize that the sweaters in the clue are people not clothing? That was one of my favorite clues today because it had me thinking clothing for many precious nanoseconds.

@Russ Pomerantz - Didn't you ask this yesterday? And didn't @JC66 answer you yesterday?

wendy 11:35 AM  

Thanks for the horrifically funny melting doll head story.

Wanderlust 11:35 AM  

Me too. Also lived in NoCal and knew it as madrone (and loved its amazing bark), figured there was some pun on a “wheel” of edam cheese that I wasn’t quite getting.

Newboy 11:40 AM  

I’ll settle for a Friday without obscure names any day! WAYNE, ELMER, MATT or even SOMMERS seemed fair as clued today. As a participant in many Henry’s barrels of fun among the Oregon MADRONe groves, that much disputed A gave me a headache, & no matter what Wikipedia says I will do a KEG handstand before I accept—so there. Even obscure Latin phrases and intriguing new to me words were inferable given their context & crosses; it’s always fun to see masters at work and I will take a shot from J&J any day of the week. Horne & Chen even gave a built in booster with those stealth bomber/bats….pretty cute.

And thanks to @LMS for the link; I can hardly wait for my AMBIGRAMS tats appointment.

Hartley70 11:46 AM  

@kitschef 7:19, oh yes he is. There’s not much bigger than Kylo Ren in the Star Wars franchise and he has a pretty impressive filmography for an actor in his 30s. He really jumped into view with Len Dunham’s “Girls” on HBO in 2012.

Ethan Taliesin 11:46 AM  

AMBIGRAM was a gimme for me, likely due to the fact that I made one depicting my and my wife's names . It was fun. Ethan and Erin <3

egsforbreakfast 11:51 AM  

Well, the great futboller Diego Maradone says that the tree is a MADRONA. On the other hand, EDNe St. Vincent Millay preferred MADRONe scented candles for burning at both ends. LORETTe Lynch thinks that DOJ should look into it. GOYe reputedly tried to include a MADRONe in his little-known Le Maje Desnude. I say let’s get a KEG or two and have a TOGe party.

I think this was my fastest solve of the week. Didn’t mind the themish Friday. I thought it was a wonderful puzzle. Thank you Jeff Chen and Jim Horne.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Hey Ω - No talking about little Ω here, OK? I know it's the most important thing in your life, you take it out to play with it all the time, but leave the talk about little Ω in the locker room for now. OK

rjkennedy98 11:57 AM  

The center of this puzzle was brutal for me. Could not see RADAR SCREEN. And MADRONA and AMBIGRAM were unknown to me. Struggled mightily with the misdirection of "Driver that's around a lot?" And even though I had RA__R SCREEN. Just could not see RADAR SCREEN. Can't solve them all I guess!

Wanderlust 11:59 AM  

Adam Driver is the definition of “uglyhot. You look at his face and you would not think “handsome!” But he is soooooo sexy. One of my favorite female examples of this is one of Pedro Almodóvar’s favorite actresses, Rossy de Palma.

Favorite “Bionic Woman” feat was when someone tinkered with the brakes in Jaime’s car, trying to kill her. Careening downhill to near-certain death, Jaime opened the car door, stuck her bionic leg out and jammed her foot onto the pavement, slowing the car. Even at age 10 or whatever I was, I laughed at that. She had a bionic leg! Her foot would have been ripped off! Still, I adored her. It wasn’t Jaime’s fault the writers were morons.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

ANNO urbis conditae should mean 'in the year of the city having been founded'. Ab urbe condita is the standard Latin phrase used for dating 'since' the city was founded. Unless you are referring to the year Rome was founded, that ANNO is pretty dodgy. And we don't even really know when that year was. As soon as I saw the genitive urbis conditae, I knew something was amiss. Jeff Chen always has questionable clues and answers. It makes it more difficult to get on his wavelength. When I am, it's often a surprise, but always one of relief rather than delight.

What? 12:00 PM  

Liked the fairly easy puz especially after expecting the worst after seeing Chen as a co-puzzler. Horne may have tamed his penchant for showing off his I’m- so-clever puzzling.

tkincher 12:02 PM  

Search up "Princess Bride ambigram" and you'll see one of the neatest movie posters (or DVD covers, I guess) ever.

Sir Hillary 12:02 PM  

Yikes, not a fan at all. Setting aside my disappointment at having a themed puzzle on Friday (just a personal preference), this is a weak theme on any day of the week. THEBATCAVE directly underneath WAYNEMANOR, plus a few bats flying around -- that's not nearly enough.

Shandra Dykman 12:06 PM  

Haha I had VASES for “Hydration locations” for longer than I want to admit even tho as an answer I think it’s adorable 🏺

MarkG 12:09 PM  


Anonymous 12:14 PM  

@Tim Authur:
This depressed the hell out of me.

you and me both. was that before the fold-over back covers? don't recall.

the thing about ADAM Driver: before he got famous, he was one of the 'before they were stars' also starring on an L&O (don't recall which version) episode. he played a lab tech whose job is to tend to the lab rats; the four footed kind. man that was/is one fugly looking dude. not matinee idol material.

you do know that the Bible was the "Remembrance of Things Past" of the 4th century? a godawful work of neverending fiction.

Anonymous 12:18 PM  


ah, innterTubes delay strikes again. OTOH, nice to know I'm not alone.

Frantic Sloth 12:22 PM  

@ω 825am It also looks like an ass. Corollary? 😘

Tom T 12:35 PM  

Had LONGtime before LONGTERM, and being unfamiliar with AMBIGRAMS I had IGRAMS and guessed omnIGRAMS. Both took a while to straighten out, but still finished well below my Friday average.

mathgent 12:37 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Joaquin (12:20)
okanaganer (1:35)
Shirley F (5:21)
Alicat (11:13)

albatross shell 12:39 PM  

A great tree I must have seen or read about but left the memory banks somehow. Reminds me of one of my favorite woodland plants on a different scale, the trailing arbutus. A low growing evergreen shrub that blankets a small area short. It has small waxy flowers that have an overwhelmingly sweet smell. Same family I would think. Very particular about where it grows and pretty much will not transplant.

I notice that there is a Madrona Winery in California, a Madrona County in Washington and a Madrona Hotel in Washington DC. See @bo camp for the Wiki quote.

SCI. A university might have a college of sciences. I am not sure even a high school has a science department. Do colleges have departments of social sciences? I'll take that clue as a hint until further notice. Maybe the same for MBAS. Although one might see a company's "holdings" as including its board members, executives or other employees. I think that was what was punningly intended by the clue. Part of their resources in any case.

This puzzle for me was also one that started out easy and got tougher the the more I filled in. I needed several cheats to finish.

If you watch Last Week Tonight (and you should) you know Adam Driver. Adam Driver is a running gag there. An object of constant insatiable lust. Also it the best political commentary on TV whether you agree with it or not.

GILL I. 12:40 PM  

Well that's what I get for seeping in late - already 98 comments and everything has been said.
We're up in beautiful Auburn for the month of October. Staying with my BFF in her home in the hills. We spend time in her "Better Homes and Garden" back yard drinking drinky-poos and watching squirrels and even a skunk frolic with the daisy's....
Boring Home Alert Story:

OK....speaking of SHOVEL READY (Hi @Loren)....Boy do I remember the first home I bought. I just moved to Sacramento with my son. We moved from the Bay Area and when I came here, all I could think of was becoming independent as hell and own my own. I bought a beautiful affordable home in a brand new neighborhood; I could not have been happier. I didn't have any friends yet but that was short lived. The new neighbors and I would meet up and watch as all of our new houses were being built. There were no screamers and no sticky-notes were ever left, we just sat around in portable chairs and drank.
The house was finally ready and move-in day finally happened. There was still lots to be done...I wanted a pool in the back yard, I wanted wood floors in sections of the house and well....all of you new homeowners know how that goes.
Exactly 10 days after I moved in, my brand new house burned down. I still have the newspaper clipping somewhere. I was in Modesto making sales calls when my secretary called to tell me. I was beyond stunned and the worse part was the 45 minutes drive back to a home I no longer had.
Walking through the fire was heart breaking. But, because I look on the bright side of everything. the fire inspector, who escorted me around, was the handsomest man on this earth. (He later asked for my phone number) and the other bright side was that my two dogs were rescued by my neighbors and all of my art books and painting were still in the garage - which was still intact.
Did the builders pass the approval stage? Was it really SHOVEL READY? The cause of the fire was an electrical wire gone haywire.
I got a new home built; I made a ton of friends....everyone in our new neighborhood turned out to be the best thing that ever happened.
There is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel......AND THAT'S THE TRUTH.

JD 12:40 PM  

@Ω, And didja notice that I think I love you because you said "the fact that ω looks a little like boobs" and I can't stop laughing. And now I think I want to be ω 34AA, but I'm too lazy to change it.

Rex needs to put the PPP explanation up there by Natick. I might start a petition.

Donpro 12:53 PM  

Ambigrams figure prominently in Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons", the sequel to "DaVinci Code".

bocamp 12:59 PM  

@Ethan Taliesin (11:46 AM)

How cool is that! Thx for sharing your AMBIGRAMS. 😊

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Greg Miller 1:12 PM  

With a batman theme, ADAM should have been clued for Adam West.

Preferred Customer 1:16 PM  

Yes! I grew up in Seattle. Madrone sounds odd to my ear. Regional thing and all of that...

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

If ADAM Driver isn't famous enough to be in a crossword, than no living film actor is. He's as big as it gets.

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I do know who ADAM Driver is, but the clue had me confused and the MADRONA tree was a WOE, 41A was possibly irAS. RA__R SCREEN, could it be RAzoR? (I know, I know, what?) That would make 36D be an oMnIGRAM (readable from all directions maybe). Gah.

I finally crossed out the O and N of oMnI and ADAM popped into view, giving me MBAS and AMBI.

I noticed the bats in the grid but didn't think it was signaling there would be a theme.

I rolled my eyes when TEAM MASCOT did not give me a hint as to which M was an open MIC. ANTICS did, though.

This was fun, and on the harder side of Friday so thanks, JH and JC.

Nathan Grant 1:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan Grant 1:44 PM  

100%! Absolute nonsense

Unknown 2:05 PM  

@ Keith Whining or complaining is 90% of rex's shtick. I can't speak for the bloggers, except that Z will certainly step in to correct anyone who is wrong, and some folks think that we're actually interested in what/who their favorite posts/comments were for the day. That's a level of egotism that is baffling yet also impressive.

At one point i had MUIROAK for my Pacific evergreen (it fit at the time), and that really put a hurt on that section. I have heard of the MADRONE tree; never the MADRONA, so that seemed a tad unfair. And I thought the ADAM Driver clue a wee bit esoteric, even though he's a fairly well known current actor.

chance2travel 2:08 PM  

@RooMonster I DNFed on rEAlSILENT as well, with the exact same thoughts on 26A and 40A.

@Omega agree that if a commenter can spend a minute to post a comment about a spelling dispute, then they can spend 40 seconds with Uncle Google first

Do we think it's the pattern-breaking aspect of a themed Friday that makes it so detested by so many? One thing I liked about this one was that the existence of a theme didn't raise its head until I was 3/4 done with the puzzle.

I work at a small $50B tech company and we got into the habit of using SHOVEL READY to refer to projects that could be completed on short notice when budget became available late in a fiscal quarter.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  


Dr. McElhone used to say that ω looked like the south end of a girl headed north. more specifically, "two pigs in a gunney sack."

LorrieJJ 2:41 PM  

I immediately entered ARBUTUS which fit like a glove ... there's one of these on the edge of my property and I look at it every day ... very pretty. BUT I soon realized something was amiss ... went to Sir Google and realized that's the Canadian name for a MADRONE ... put in what I thought was the correct spelling ... wrong! Only after thinking Edam is my problem did I grock, of course! Adam Driver is Hollywood's new It boy (deservedly). Finally everything fit ... Madrone is still spelt wrong but that's on Will.

mooretep 3:31 PM  

My favorite ambigram:

up dn

Anoa Bob 3:37 PM  

My first impression when I opened this one was that's a lot of black squares, 37 of them, for a Friday puzzle and this resulted in an un-Friday-like number of 3 and 4 letter entries. The corners were especially atypical for a weekend puzzle with stuff like ITO, ETAS, OHNO, ANNO and TOTO. All that for the sake of so called grid art? Exhibit 647 of why I think "grid art" is an oxymoron.

If the eagle is the most common TEAM MASCOT I wonder how the bat ranks on that measure.

Hearts is a card game where "Its players never want to be at the top" (32 Down) and it has the right number of letters. Took a while for crosses to correct that to TETRIS.

Sometimes I see a clue that's going for misdirection but uses grammatically incorrect language trying to get there. Like jberg @11:17, I think this happens with the clue for 51A GYM CLASS. "Where uniforms are worn with sweaters" should be " sweaters". Changing the "with" to "by" would be a correction one might see in an ESL class for a student having trouble learning the differences between English prepositions. I see (and cringe at) this NYTXW use of questionable or incorrect grammatical construction to go for misdirection quite often.

Liked SHOVEL READY and learned something new with AMBIGRAM, although the latter needed some help filling its slot.

GILL I. 3:47 PM  

Well that's what I get for posting late....already 110 comments and everything interesting has been said.
We're up here in beautiful Auburn staying at my BFF's house for the month of October. We stayed up late last night enjoying drinky poos and staring at the squirrels and even a skunk in my friends "Home and Garden's" back yard. Went to bed happy at about midnight.

Soooo I will tell you my SHOVEL READY story (Hi @Loren)....

When I came to Sacramento with my son - many moons ago - I wanted to start fresh and buy my first house.
I found this darling home in a brand new sub-division not far from downtown Sacramento. It hadn't been built yet but the demo homes were and I picked out my favorite.
I didn't have many friends yet since I was new to the area but that didn't last long. When I could, I'd go see the construction of my new home; so did my new neighbors. We'd bring our little chairs and watch as our new abodes were being built. We'd have drinks around the block and chat - there was absolutely no sticky notes nor nasty directives.....just laughter.
After a month or so, my new home was ready to move in. There was still things I wanted done. I wanted wood floors instead of carpet and I wanted to put a pool in the back yard. I was moved in and ready to rock and roll.
Exactly 10 days later, my house burned down. I was in Modesto at the time and my secretary called to tell me the news. Try driving 45 minutes to get to see your destruction!. The things that go trough your mind are insane. Thank goodness my sweet neighbors got my two dogs out and my son was in daycare......
Wading through the ashes was, well, not fun. There was a silver-lining though. The fire marshal who escorted me through my mess and was the handsomest man I had ever met (and straight) asked if I was single and if he could take me out for coffee sometime.....Guess what I said! The other silver lining was that all of my art work and my art books were still in boxes in the garage and they were OK. The garage was the only thing left standing. I think I even have a picture somewhere where I was featured in Sacramento Bee....WAAAAH.
I believe the approval stage in construction wasn't quite SHOVEL READY. The house burned down because of faulty wiring. How's them apples?
Anyway, my house was rebuilt; my neighbors and I became fast and good friends but my handsome fire Marshall turned out to be married.
Always look for some good in a'll never know what's on the other end of the pot of gold....

Z 4:08 PM  

@chance2travel - 42 seconds. Also, we get themed puzzles Sunday through Thursday and only 2 themeless puzzles a week. So taking a Tuesday puzzle and publishing it on Friday is irksome. Fortunately, The New Yorker gives me three themeless puzzles a week, always at least as good as what Shortz is publishing and frequently better (when’s the last time we got two Patrick Berrys in a month, let alone in a span of four days?).
Weird serendipity in that regard. I had two August New Yorker puzzles buried on my clipboard that I just did. One of them had SHOVEL READY as an answer. Apparently Ooxteplernon hid the puzzle from me for just this occasion.

@JD - Rex rarely updates the webpage or the FAQs plus PPP is a commentariat coinage, so I suspect the chances he’d add PPP, a term he probably doesn’t even know, to either place are closer to none than to slim.
ω34AA would be an awesome nom de blog.

@Frantic Sloth 12:22 - That’s the popular term while having deep and serious xword discussions at Z’s Placebo and Tentacle. We’re more genteel in print. 😂🤣😂
@Anon11:56 - 😂🤣😂
@Anon11:59 - Just 42 seconds with Uncle Google, that’s all it takes.

@tkincher - It is pretty cool except for the Sean Hannity pic on the page*. Thank Gof Rex doesn’t do ads. For that reason alone everyone should donate to him.

*Why the ad algorithm thought I’d want to see Sean Hannity’s house is beyond me. It must be broken. Hopefully you won’t get anything so heinous.

PeeDub 4:08 PM  

According to the Sunset Western Garden Book, in the United States, the name "madrone" is more common south of the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon and Northern California and the name "madrona" is more common north of the Siskiyous.

Anonymous 4:35 PM  

speaking of theme. am I the only one who loathes 'quote' Sundays. have a book of them from the late 90s, and I ground through a couple, but now I just trash them. don't recall seeing any recently. any idea when, and with some explanation, WS stopped printing them? assuming they have stopped.

Oskar in Seattle 4:41 PM  

In the United States, the name “Madrone” is used south of the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon/northern California and the name “Madrona” is used north of the Siskiyou Mountains according to the “Sunset Western Garden Book”.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

MADRONA/ADAM is a hideous crossing. Nobody has ever called the tree a MADRONA, it's a MADRONE. Why the hell go for MADRONA/ADAM instead of MADRONE/EDAM; and then to clue ADAM in a way that makes no sense at all is just awful.

A decent puzzle ruined by a horrid crossing

bagelboy 4:46 PM  

same as Teeedmn above: OMNI befor AMBI, thought RAZOR. Finally worked out ADAM and MBA, then RADAR filled in. Aside from the tough middle, an enjoyable friday in normal time.

Bax'N'Nex 4:50 PM  

I may be a little late to the game, but the poster "omega symbol" is "Z" right?? Nobody else would spend so much time coming back to this blog and regaling everyone with his infinite knowledge and "correct" answers...

Or are there two of them now!!!???

Mufasa217 5:32 PM  

I’ve been dealing craps for 24 years, and there’s no “rake” on a craps table. If he’s referring to a house “rake” there is none. If he’s referring to the stick that the stickman uses, no one calls it a rake. Just sayin’

Mufasa217 5:34 PM  

I’ve been dealing craps for 24 years. There is no “rake” on a craps table. If they’re referencing the “rake” a casino takes in, the craps table has none. If they’re referring to the stick the stickman uses, no one calls it a rake. It’s a stick. Just sayin’

Wellmet 5:41 PM  

Very challenging puzzle that was interesting enough for me to peck away at until it was solved.

Crimson Devil 6:01 PM  

I knew it, I just knew our LMS was a wrasslin groupie !

Crimson Devil 6:17 PM  

Very good Fri puz. A number of “not sure ofs”, but they all fell. ADAM was the last.

iamjess 6:28 PM  

Am I the only one who got to the end, saw that they put both DC and Marvel *in the same grid* and thought "oh no they DIDn't!" ? I'm pretty sure that's some kind of blasphemy.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  


I'm old enough to associate Avengers only with Steed and Mrs. Peel, so no problem.

Meimau 7:57 PM  

Hiya! Longtime (however on/off) reader/solver. Lately I've been on a crosswords jag trying to kick my brain out of a rut, and of course can't help coming here after solving for the review and comments. Some of these abbreviations are new though - WOE? PPP?

Halp! Please clue me in... ;)


albatross shell 8:07 PM  

Double the pleasure
Double the fun

@anon 446pm
A lot of people do spell it MADRONA. See the posts, check the internet. But even so you can still justify your opinion of the crossing.

Here is another article about the tree. It would be nice if they said which tribes and what the Native names for it were. I'd take it as alleged until I find out more.

"The Madrone tree is a Native American sacred tree. Thus the wood was never used for fire even though it burns long and hot. Sacred trees like the Arbutus tree hence make an incredible sacred pendant or sacred necklace."
Wasn't there a movie that had some superhero race mixing?

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

Please someone explain why this is a “theme” puzzle. Many puzzles contain answers that refer to other answers and are not such. Thanks!

Carl LaFong 9:18 PM  

One more vote for MADRONe.
Agree with above squawks. MADRONA/ADAM was an awful crossing.
Otherwise fine and could have been a Wednesday.

Alicat 9:19 PM  

@baX'NNex. There are at least two more @Z, all with the same writing style, personality, and each meta- referring to the original Z. It’s fun to compare their many posts.

Anonymous 10:18 PM  

Played tough for me. Obscure answers and some arbitrary cluing. Needed some help to get through this.

Biggest objections: do not gamble so cant pair rake with craps, 20A Sarah and Isaac?? don't get it, SOLARCARs do not, at least commercially, exist, ambigrams - lets search the thesaurus for the least used word.

I'm a late solver, so by typically 9-10 pm I'm losing patience for overthinking cryptic clues and obscure answers, though typically can do better than today.

stephanie 12:09 AM  

@Elaine2 i thought so too. this puzzle was so hard for me, even when i went open book it was still extremely difficult...and my DNF was the A on MADRONA because i had looked it up and everything said MADRONE. even after i fixed it, i googled MADRONA and everything still says MADRONE. the ADAM clue was weak so EDAM somehow seemed just as plausible somehow. oh well!

stephanie 12:18 AM  

@Ω yeah, i got the explanation but i just reject that a cow says "low" even if the sound they make is described as "lowing." to that end "twitter" could also be considered a stretch, but i found it acceptable since birds do twitter, tweet, chirp, etc...but a cow saying "low" i've never heard anyone say. i've tried to think up a good analogy but i'm coming up empty. i just wanted the onomatopoeia the other clues had, i guess.

stephanie 12:21 AM  

@JHC i didn't fill that in for a long time because i didn't want it to be SCI. why college? science departments exist in more than just colleges, and not all colleges have science departments. of course science departments at colleges exist so it's not wrong but...with so many ways to clue SCI, this was a weak one for sure.

stephanie 12:25 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny & @Rube yes, NARC is a fitting answer and a verb. you can be a NARC - either professionally or figuratively, and you can NARC on others. (origin: narcotics officers)

stephanie 12:36 AM  

thanks as always to rex and all the lovely commenters who take time to explain things. this puzzle was hard, too hard for me even though i finished after going open book for some clues. but i still couldn't grok the theme because i kept expecting when i finished that the website would reveal some sort of cave illustration or the letters CAVE or...something. anything! never saw any bats until i came here.

likewise, couldn't figure out the sweaters in uniform until the comments. i REALLY, really wanted something about hockey players. alas.

RADAR SCREEN also eluded my brain until someone mercifully pointed out someone/something being "on [someone's] radar." i was thinking more along the lines of pros and cons or some kind of rating system.

all in all the majority of clues were fair, just over my head. one memory: as a kid, i loved the song PEEKABOO by devo. my dad would play it for me all the time. looking back, that song is truly creepy in every way. funny. still love it and devo, though :)

Teedmn 12:54 AM  

@Ω, you are Legion.

Taxed Too Much in NJ 11:57 AM  

Don’t let John Oliver hear you say that about his “dreamboat” Adam Driver!

Burma Shave 11:53 AM  


with PEEKABOO ANTICS they ACTED like knaves


spacecraft 12:07 PM  

As the EAGLE is the TEAMMASCOT for the Philadelphia NFL squad, my first thumb for this puzzle goes up. Then we come to Jamie SOMMERS (Lindsay Wagner) who is definitely DOD. Second thumb up. I always called her "the Chick BioNIC." Almost DNF'ed, though, when I misspelled it SuMMERS. Thank goodness IDuS doesn't make sense.

To the theme aspect, I never made a "rule" about Fri/Sat. That belongs to some secret panel of "rule-makers" whose agenda I still can't fathom. Perhaps it is a panel of one... anyway, it is all right with me.

Despite cluing efforts to raise the bar (very disappointed that two 3-letter entries clued "Open___" resulted in neither one being BAR), this one played on the easy side for a Friday. Some very nice fill and a light, artistic theme. Birdie.

Unknown 12:42 PM  

Come to Seattle. Not only do we have a neighborhood called MADRONA, but the trees are beautiful, too.

thefogman 1:40 PM  
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thefogman 2:17 PM  

Why thee bats? Batman, Robin and_____?

rondo 2:32 PM  

My office went through a shipload of SHOVELREADY projects in the ARRA years of 2009-2010. Put tens of million$ into the economy. It could happen again if an infrastructure bill ever gets passed. SHOVELREADY projects are in a backlog again. Let’s put people to work and fix our aging stuff! Or continue to drive your CAR really fast in the center of the road and hope whatever is underneath you doesn’t crumble.

Get back LORETTA!

Kinda easy but just fine.

Diana, LIW 8:36 PM  

I put letters in every square in the grid. They were letters I liked a lot.

Imagine my surprise when they were right. Especially since we are packing and going craxy with the typical packing woes.

Diana, LIW

thomas 7:21 PM  
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