Mandrake the Magician's sidekick / FRI 12-10-21 / 2019 rap hit whose title follows the lyric "How much money you got?" / Suffix with acetyl / Period at the beginning of the Stone Age / 1968 Peace Nobelist Cassin / Company that helped launch TMZ / Ensemble purchase that includes sheets and pillowcases / Largest sorority by enrollment (380,000+ members)

Friday, December 10, 2021

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: CHIRASHI (48A: Japanese dish of raw fish and vegetables over rice) —

Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司, "scattered sushi", also referred to as barazushi) serves the rice in a bowl and tops it with a variety of raw fish and vegetable garnishes. [...] It is eaten annually on Hinamatsuri in March and Kodomonohi in May.

  • Edomae chirashizushi (Edo-style scattered sushi) is served with uncooked ingredients in an artful arrangement.
  • Gomokuzushi (Kansai-style sushi) consists of cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed in the body of rice.
  • Sake-zushi (Kyushu-style sushi) uses rice wine over vinegar in preparing the rice, and is topped with shrimp, sea bream, octopus, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and shredded omelette. (wikipedia)
• • •

This just wasn't for me. Full of things I either didn't know, didn't care about, or actively don't like. Tone was set by 1-Across, as it often is. I just have no idea what a BED-IN-A-BAG is (1A: Ensemble purchase that includes sheets and pillowcases). I got the "BED" part easy enough, but after that, I just shrugged as I watched letter after letter go in, and even after I saw that it had to be BED-IN-A-BAG, I hesitated to write it in, so dumb a concept did it seem. SOAP-ON-A-ROPE, I know. BED-IN-A-BAG, no. Is it a brand? I don't care enough to look it up. I did care enough to look up CHIRASHI, which sounds delicious (as most food does to me, frankly), but it didn't even have its own wikipedia page. It was buried in the "Sushi" page and even there wasn't referred to as CHIRASHI, but as "Chirashizushi." Not sure how I got to be 52 years old, having eaten in all kinds of restaurants all over the world, following food writers on social media for years, etc., and not heard of CHIRASHI, but here we are! Not the puzzle's fault, happy to learn the term, but like BED-IN-A-BAG, this just wasn't from anywhere in my universe. I also actively dislike gambling (SHOOT CRAPS), have (mostly) negative feelings about (most) fraternities and sororities (CHI OMEGA) and college football (BYU) (29D: One side of a coll. football "Holy War" rivalry) and TMZ (see 45A: Company that helped launch TMZ => AOL), and wouldn't LEAN RIGHT if you paid me. You'd think ANTIFA would make up for LEAN RIGHT, politically, but the only time I ever hear the term "ANTIFA" is in the mouth of some paranoid right-wing dickhead, so ... no, that didn't help. I had one moment of "ah, nice," and that was when I got RUNNER'S HIGH (24D: Rush while racing?). I would never use the term, since the parallel to a drug high is inapt (or just unappealing to me). but I have felt great while running, and I do like the phrase as a puzzle answer. But overwhelmingly, I felt outside of whatever the intended demographic was for this puzzle. 

I kind of resented GO TO THERAPY, both the answer itself and (esp.) the non-clue it gets in today's puzzle (9D: What over 40 million U.S. adults do annually). As a verb phrase, I don't think it has great stand-alone status. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that the problem is the clue. There's nothing at all therapy-specific about it. Who the hell cares what arbitrary number of millions of people do a thing. That number (40 million) does absolutely nothing to connect you to the answer. It's not colorful or fun or clever. It's blah. Further, the answer seems intended to get you to think GO TO THE... where "THE" appears to be the definite article. I had GO TO THE MALL written in there before I finally got GO TO THERAPY. So the puzzle gives you nothing on the clue end and the answer itself seems designed to be misdirective. I can tolerate the misdirection if I feel like the clue is good. But the clue is bad. Or dull. Therapy is good, my experience with this answer was not. Had another misparsing adventure in the SE, with INDIA- .... which ended up being IN space DIAPERS (53A: Untrained, perhaps). But I didn't mind that one so much, because at least that answer has a real clue. Give RITA Wilson a real clue too, please (24A: Wilson on the Hollywood Walk of Fame). The Hollywood Walk of Fame is suuuuuuuuch a bummer as clue fodder. Lazy and ultimately meaningless. Give me something *specific*. Make the puzzle vivid and interesting! Respect RITA! Sigh. 

MALAR and SACRAL made me wince, mostly because they have that "niche adjective" quality I find hard to love. Had MOLAR and SACRED in there at first, respectively. Because MOLAR and SACRED are words you might actually use. It's not the greatest feeling to write in a word but then have to scrap it for something that is far less of a word. Is HO HO HO a "cheer"? (42D: Christmas cheer?). He's not leading you in a chant ("Gimme an 'H'!"), he's expressing ... his own cheer, I guess? Is that the meaning? Santa's expression of Christmas cheer? You're torturing your clue there. There are limits to what the "?" can do for you, and you should respect them. I had BOUNCES before POUNCES (27D: Springs), but mostly my struggles in this one involved simple non-familiarity with terms / non-interest in subject matter. But I do want to try CHIRASHI now. So the experience wasn't a total loss. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Sioux Falls 6:29 AM  

Bed in a bag is a REALLY common term at every department store—generally a pillow, comforter, pillow shams, sheets, etc. in a see-through heavy plastic bag in a zipper. Surprised OFL hasn’t heard of it — every college student living in a dorm knows what it is.

Dale Gribble 6:29 AM  

Someone's salty this morning. Yikes.

Chris from LI 6:31 AM  

I was hoping to see you link to this video, a song about running with lyrics by Neil Peart.

konnofromtokyo 6:34 AM  

lived in japan 30 years and don't think i've ever heard it called chirashi. always chirashizushi.

Conrad 6:39 AM  

Medium for me. I had trouble at the very start with BED IN A Box for 1A. That's defensible; "Box" Googles about 4x better than Bag, but defensible or not it made ATHEIST hard to see. sports BRAS before PUSH-UP at 27A. Didn't know CHIRASHI (although in retrospect I have seen it on menus) or Neil PEART. But ultimately everything fell into place. I enjoyed this one.

Lewis 6:48 AM  

This was a crack-it-open solve. There I was, with one corner filled and only a scatter of lonely boxes filled elsewhere, and stuck, repeating everywhere I looked, “What could this be?” I got up for a moment to do a chore, sat back down, and the answer RUNNER’S HIGH hit me, then suddenly a blaze of fill-ins followed, and a quick completion. I guess that blissful "Whee!" streak of throwing letters in, in one big flurry, is the crossword solver’s version of runner’s high.

Impressive was Joe’s inclusion of nine NYT crossword debut answers, including GO TO THERAPY, GONE ROGUE, and the sing-song BED IN A BAG. The grid is also remarkably free of junk, even with 16 answers of eight letters or more.

I even had an “I’ll be!” moment when I realized that HOHOHO and its palindrome rhyme.

Thank you for the high, Joe. You are a pro and you do crosswords proud.

Trockmn 7:01 AM  

Longer than my longest Saturday

Frantic Sloth 7:04 AM  

Initially, I had B_S_ _P_ _ _ _ at 27A (Garments that sound like you'd exercise in them) and I just could not stop seeing BoSsyPants.
So what it didn't make any sense?
It still would have been more welcome to my eyes than the correct answer.

Caught a glimpse of the byline before solving (I've been trying to wait until after-solve) and let out an involuntary wee grunt. Always seem to have difficulty with this constructor and today was no exception. More like Saturdee difficultee for mee (Hi, @GILL!) and took me about as long.
Not a lot of whee! time, not a lot of unbridled joy which can often festoon the Fridee grid, but it provided a challenge and that makes it worth my while.
And either I'm making inroads to Joe Dipietro's secret wavelength or this was just a mirage of sheer dumb luck. Given the choice, I'm leaning toward anything with "dumb" in its name for painfully obvious reasons.
It just didn't chew me up and spit me out as is usually the case - and I'll take it!

***Self-inflicted DOOK Alert***

INDIA PERS this makes no sense, but it's how I see it. Naturally. 🙄
BEDINA BAG where one carries one's BEDINA, of course

That's enough outta me.


Unknown 7:08 AM  

"paranoid right-wing dickhead"

I actually did LOL...I shall use if often.

In fact, this would be a great clue. What would the answer be?

SouthsideJohnny 7:09 AM  

It seemed like the constructor tried to strike a balance between tough cluing and adding some real esoterica in order to amp up the difficulty to a Friday-level. I’ll leave it to the hard core solvers here to opine on how successfully that was accomplished, as I tried valiantly to hang in there and fight from behind the curve the entire time. Without a few gimmies here and there I really have no chance at things like LOTHAR, RAPINOE, PEART, MALAR, SACRAL, CHIRASHI . . . that is just too much for me to overcome at this difficulty level. Congrats to all of those who had success with this one, impressive !

kitshef 7:25 AM  
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Erin 7:26 AM  

Bed-in-a-bag was a gimme for me. Naticked at malar (which just set off my spellcheck) and whatever the mandrake thing was. Just ran through the alphabet till I got the winning sound. That’s never fun.

Son Volt 7:27 AM  

Crunchy - almost Saturday like. Not as lithe as the best themeless puzzles but I liked it. Agree with Rex on the unfortunate SACRAL and MALAR - they don’t help here and PUSH UP BRAS seems a little spooky but can go with NURSE A TIT. Loved RUNNERS HIGH right in the center.

Liked the NW and SE stacks - IN DIAPERS, GONE ROGUE etc. BED IN A BAG is a fairly common term. Surprised no discussion on the classic Mandrake comic. Twist in a story is a great clue.

Enjoyable Friday solve.

Trey 7:29 AM  

Wow. Just wow. Another challenging puzzle with some great clues. Best were for IN DIAPERS, RUNNERS HIGH, OLIVER, PUSH UP BRAS and HEART RATE. 3-letter fill was half abbreviations and their kin, but acceptable given the quality and quantity of the long answers.

A little was “meh” - don’t really get the clue for SHOOT CRAPS. In medicine, I hear buccal for cheek, not MALAR although M-W tells me both are legit. Have never heard of the Japanese dish. That made it hard to see SACRAL even with the SA__AL filled in.

kitshef 7:34 AM  
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kitshef 7:36 AM  

90% of the time when I finish with an error, Japanese food is to blame. Today, it was CHIRASHI. I had oHIRASHI, analogizing the SAO beginning of 41D with the Sao in Sao Paulo or Sao Tome.

Apart from that, this we absurdly hard. Had this run on Saturday, it would have been in the top three for hardest Saturdays in 2021. BED IN A BAG, Cassin RENE, and CHI OMEGA were the only other WoEs, and the latter I at least knew would be Greek letters, but seemingly every clue was outside my wheelhouse.

MALAR was a gimme (my entry was MAGI/MALAR cross). Many falcons have a MALAR stripe.

abalani500 7:45 AM  

Not a Christian, but was it a holiday when the Magi presented their gifts to baby Jesus? Also, regardless of political leaning, it’s a stretch to call an unapologetically violent group a “protest movement”. “Me Too”? Protest movement. “Antifa?” Not so much. Perhaps I’m too influenced by Mahatma Gandhi but peaceful protests seem legitimate to me.

Frantic Sloth 7:47 AM  

Another S-ID (self-inflicted DOOK):
CHIO MEGA, which could only be the masculine version of an oversized HO-HO-HO-holiday gag gift.
Someone, see me out. I'm blinded by my brilliance.

ncmathsadist 7:56 AM  

Worst clue: the Rapper clue for ALOT.
There are way too many rappers in the NYTXW.
It's almost as annoying as "actress."

Dave B. 8:20 AM  

Anyone else thrown by cluing atheism as a religion? I know it is covered under the first amendment/freedom of religion, but it seems a stretch to call a movement based on the rejection of a divinity (and therefore without rites, a common belief system, dogma, etc.) a religion.

puzzlehoarder 8:38 AM  

This was a classic themeless. The only things I found truly difficult we're 1D and parsing 9D.

I'm not at all familiar with the 1A term and ONROUTETO at 16A blocked out BEL until the very end. I actually changed it to INROUTETO before the lightbulb finally went off.

Figuring out what GO TO THE RA_Y could possibly be took way to much time. That's really being blind to the obvious.

Seeing MALAR at 10A galls me to no end. The SB never takes it and I've been putting it in puzzles for years. It's in the same damn game section of the same damn paper. A little consistency would be nice.

yd pg -3, dbyd pg-2

One of yesterday's missed words was the unconjugated form of one of the pangrams. True word blindness.

Ted 8:40 AM  

Brutal. For all the reasons mentioned. Ungettable DNF crosses of nonsense like MALAR and SACRAL. Even the GOOD long answers were held back by incredibly vague cluing and too many ????.

LOTHAR?! CROSSING MALAR?! GTFO. With that bullshit clue for GOTTA? Give us SOMETHING EASY PLEASE so that we can get a toehold on this mess.

pabloinnh 8:42 AM  

Tough sledding here. BEDINABAG? I guess. CHIRASHI? Ditto. Started with MOLAR, which eventually morphed into the right answer, any three letter "online" company will be AOL, knew Megan RAPINOE, eventually, have experienced the fabled RUNNERSHIGH, but couldn't see it forever, and on and on.

Finally finished with some inspired guessing and no cheats, but also with very few of the satisfying AHA ! moments that make a tough puzzle worthwhile. Many of these were more, okay, that's probably it moments.

Slight consolation here is that I think tomorrow will probably be easier, which is unusual.

Lot of unfamiliar territory here, JDP. Just Didn't Push the right buttons for me, but thanks for the challenge.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

OK, I like a puzzle that introduces me to a lot of stuff I don’t know. Kept wondering what the Rapy is, that so many people go to it. Had to run the alphabet to get the name of Rush’s drummer—never a fun way to end a puzzle.

GILL I. 8:55 AM see...Mr. Dipietro and I never see ojo a ojo. We'll be in a restaurant and he'll order a hot plate of spaghetti and I just want to go to the dessert. My Sbrisolona lacked the crumble and they forgot to add some lemon zest.
But where did you go wrong? you ask. Well, since you ask, I'll start with PUSH UP BRAS. Maybe YOU think you exercise in them but I'd rather push a wheelbarrow of manure into a hen house than wear anything that makes you want your boobs up near your nostrils.
Ok, so you got that out of the way...what else gave you angst and agita? GO TO THERAPY did. Yesireebob. I'm sure therapy is just fine especially after you've been wearing one of those bras all day long, but I wouldn't know how many people do that annually. I wanted everyone to go to the MALL.
Did you like anything at all? you ask. Well...I did. I loved MONTEREY; I love Steinbeck - especially Cannery Row. I've read all of his books and I just may go back and read Tortilla Flat.

alexapharm 9:00 AM  

College football and Greek life? No idea, never cared about either.
A LOT? This was a song? I must be getting old because I had no idea.
CHIRASHI? I’ve been to Japan and don’t remember seeing this on menus. And I’m an adventurous eater!

I work from home which can be a little isolating at times. It’s always comforting to read this blog and be in good snarky company.

Nancy 9:01 AM  

What a workout! I'm so proud to have finished! And now I'm resting on my LAURELS because the "praise" I'm giving myself is "rightful" indeed.

My solve was quite similar to @Lewis's. RUNNER'S HIGH was my breakthrough moment too -- the moment at which I realized I might actually solve this bear. I had fled the NW where I'd never heard of BED IN A BAG (I prefer my beds on the floor, thank you very much); where EN ROUTE TO came in late and I had to hold off writing in the first E (it might have been oN ROUTE TO); and where I didn't know that "BEL esprit" meant a gifted person. I thought it meant a beautiful spirit when I thought about it at all, which was pretty much never. Add to that the fact that I had PRIcE instead of PRIZE for "value" and my NW section was not going well at all.

Shouldn't the clue for ATHEIST have been "Camus or Asimov non-religiously"? I was certainly fooled by "religiously".

I had SACRed before SACRAL and I briefly had mOVED before ROVED for "was peripatetic. My biggest chances for a DNF came at the MALAR/LOTHAR cross and the CHIRASHI/PAPINOE cross but I guessed right on both.

Bet you all got a real workout today. Hope you all enjoyed the challenge -- a challenge that was just about completely free of junk and crosswordese -- as much as I did. I think it's one terrific puzzle.

amyyanni 9:01 AM  

Hiya Joe, tough one. Like it a bunch. Had the Ps in the PUSHUPBRAS, and even though it wouldn't fit, could not get Pedal Pushers (Mom's term for Capris) out of my stoopid brain. Perhaps you can use it in a future puzzle. Unlike Rex, I care about Oliver Twist, Cannery Row (Steinbeck), the Gift of the Magi, and Megan Rapinoe. Plus, HOHOHO. It's the season. Good workout; now off to find a Runner's High on the Peachtree Creek Trail.

alexapharm 9:03 AM  

As an ANTIFA ATHEIST myself, these were some of the only clues I enjoyed in this puzzle.
Is it pandering or representation? Hmm.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

I was introduced to chirashi 30 years ago by a Japanese client. He explained that chirashi, when done properly is laid out according to some rules and will tell a story.

bocamp 9:05 AM  

Thx Joe, for this very challenging Fri. creation! :)

Hard++. Would have been a tough Sat. for me.

Not at all on the right wavelength for this one; struggled all over the place.


Nevertheless, enjoyed the battle, as always. :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Lily Alice 9:11 AM  

100 percent agree about all of this, though I'm still slow at Fridays anyway because part-of-speech-based puns and I are not close friends. I logged in specifically to see your notes on some of the items that bothered me most, and was rewarded. Okay, 99 percent, as I already love chirashizushi, and I know you will, too.

Z 9:18 AM  

When there are this many WOEs they start to become WTFs. I went back post solve and counted 14 for me (and the early comments suggest some gimmes for me are WOEs for others). Some were vague like wondering if it might be Flip Wilson and if Asimov was maybe Catholic (@Dave B. - yes, I bit on that, too), while others were hiding in the cobwebs (haven’t been a Rush fan for 35 years and Mandrake the Magician I haven’t thought about in 45 years - well maybe a little bit when mandrake made an appearance in Harry Potter 25 years ago). Others were never knews (the apparently much despised answer CHIRASHI and also I don’t think I actually know any sororities (at least the options are confined)). Then there was my personal favorite, a lyric from a song I don’t know that then turns into the kealoa AtOn/ALOT.

Hand up for wondering exactly what a BED IN A BAG is. I’ve purchased what’s being described, but certainly never noticed or heard the term. I recall wondering about the nice matching bag the linens came in and thinking it was probably useful for something before throwing it out. But the term? Not a part of the language I’ve ever heard.

@Frantic Sloth 7:04 - You make more sense than you claim. Scroll down to verb definition 3b and you will see a definition for “exercise” that makes “bossy pants” a great answer for that clue.

JD 9:21 AM  

There's the Peripatetic Bedina Bag* and her friend Bel Enroute to Draginto. Lothar, Malar, Shoot & Craps, representing disgruntled sidekicks and gamblers.

I struggled, and then choked in the NE Corner. The language usage was confusing for me. What does Have A Natural Interest In Gambling? have to do with Shoot Craps?

Felt that IgnorED Protocol should've been Went Rogue. Gone Rogue is when you stay Rogue. I even struggled with Rut. To me, you do the same old things and you create a Rut. The Rut isn't the same old things, it's where they keep happening. But these are fine points and language is pliable. Or maybe I just keep doing the Rut.

See @Gill for, "Camus or Asimov non-religiously." I didn't even notice that one, but yes.

Not complaining. Although it gave me a pain in the lower Sacral, I seem to remember Jeff Chen mentioning that Erik Agard said something along the lines of some days aren't for you but the next one will be.

@Nancy, congratulations!

@amyyanni, I also care about Oliver Twist, Cannery Row (Steinbeck), the Gift of the Magi. Have you read Sweet Thursday? When they made the very good Nick Nolte/Debra Winger movie Cannery Row, it was really more Sweet Thursday.

*@Frantic I wonder if we're the only ones. Weirdly, also thought of Chia Mega.

Daveyhead 9:27 AM  

Unknown @7:08. I can think of a five letter answer that starts with T

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I had BED IN A BED for the longest time, kept trying to think what religion might have a name based on "eTHic."

But the real reason I'm commenting today is that I had a sneezing fit at the exact moment that I was reading the clue for HAY.

Unknown 9:28 AM  

Puzzle was fine, Rex's commentary getting pretty tiresome, tho. "Chirashi" is on 90% of U.S. sushi restaurant menus, and if you don't know "bed-in-a-bag", well, I guess that goes hand-in-hand with high-minded "commentary". Sheesh.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Oh my. Malar is fringe? Yikes! A national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife receraetaion says 45 million americans describe themselves as bird watchers. And I wouldnt say its a disqualification for a self-described birder to not know the word malar, I'd certianly give him a wide birth. 45 million people. Thats' 18% of the US population. That aint fringe. Thats popular.

As for bed-in-a-bag, anyone who says they havent come across it should also be avoide. That term is everywhere bedding is sold. Come on, it's one of the categories on Bed Bath and Beyond's front bedding page. I'm guessing its even routinely part of the ose 20% off coupons that they mail, seemingl, daily.

Suzy 9:32 AM  

I was stymied by Mandrake— isn’t that a Harry Potter plant? But who doesn’t know bed-in-a-bag?
Tough for me, especially the SW— in diapers is diabolic! But all in all, a super Friday puzzle. Thanks, Joe!

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Atheism is a religion. And in this country, the most important one, because its the religion of teh ruling cloass-- the WaPo and Times editorial page, Yale Law, The Nrew republic and NPR. Hell, Harvard's chaplain is an atheist.Yeah, you read that right. Harvard, founded by some of the most devout Americans for the purpose of pursuing knowledge and truth ins servcice to God now has a chaplain who denies the exitence of God.

Unknown 9:43 AM  

Right on!

GILL I. 9:44 AM  

@Frantic....You forgot that CHI RA SHI and CHI OM ERGA walked into my bar. Guess who the bartender was? LOT HAR. and GONER OGUE was drinking with LOT HAR and they were having A LOT of HO HO HO.

Z 9:47 AM  

A couple of the better clues are being written about as if people may not have quite understood the clues, so here is how I made sense of them:

Garments that sound like you'd exercise in them - One might actually do PUSH-UPs in a "sports BRA," but never in a PUSH-UP BRA (well, almost never). Anyway, it seems as if several people didn't note the "sound like" in the clue.

Albert Camus or Isaac Asimov, religiously - "Isaac, what is your religion?" "I am an ATHEIST." I, too, wanted a specific faith there, but the clue is actually asking what those two particular individuals' religious beliefs were.

These are both the kind of tricky cluing I like, where the solver has to think about how the words are being used in the clue. Much better than Walk of Fame or song lyric clues, in my opinion.

Frantic Sloth 9:52 AM  

@Z 918am Oh, you mean the last entry on the page? 🤣🤣 Thanks for digging all the way to China to support my inanity, but even *I* know that's a stretchy pants.

@JD 921am Now that you mention it, I wondered about the 41A...joke?...misdirect?...ham sammich?, too. What is the relationship between SHOOT(ing) CRAPS and having a "natural interest in gambling"? Of course, my inclination is the natural/CRAPS angle, but I sincerely hope that isn't it.
I wonder if there's anyone here - anyone at all - who could provide an answer?

If you've ever shopped online for bedding (which I've done more times than I would have liked because cats), BEDINABAG is practically inescapable.

Frantic Sloth 10:00 AM  

@GILL 944am 🤣 A LOT of HO HO HO? Is your bar a saloon from the Old West?

@Z 947am I looked at the ATHEIST/religion pairing in the same way. Do you want to change your explanation now? 😉

Anonymous 10:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sallie (FullTime-Life) 10:04 AM  

Guess my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet although I did finish correctly in good time for me. Because I honestly couldn’t believe I had 9 down right. All those adults go…where? (Thanks for the parsing… and off for more caffeine)!

RooMonster 10:05 AM  

Hey All !
DNF at that crazy Japanese dish. Wanted aHIRASHI because 1) it rhymes, and seemed more like a food name, and 2), I've heard of Ahi. Couldn't see SACRAL,as had that aHI, plus lOVED for ROVED, getting me SAalAL, which also looks like something. SAALAL. Like SAALAM.

The NE corner was an Ugh. MALAR, ALOT (as clued), LOTHAR. But, amazingly, got it correct.

A sly finger wag to Joe at PRIZE. Had PRIcE there almost to the end.

Rex cracked me up with his un-knowledge of BED IN A BAG. Go shopping for bedding with your wife occasionally. 😁

ropeINTO-DRAGINTO, iNE-ENE, lEs-BEL (stab in the dark, that), pHIOMEGA first.

Fun clue for PUSHUPBRAS. Weird clue for HEART RATE. Had to Goog two things, as stuck and immovable. Importune= BEG, Mandrakes sidekick= LOTHAR. Had the THAR. So... Har.

Took a while, no PRIZE Happy Music, but hey, can't win 'em all. AHEAD to the day!

yd -1. should'ves 0 Dang, close a couple times now.

One F

Carola 10:06 AM  

Challenging and A LOT of fun to solve. Some great tough cluing and plenty of PRIZE answers, from BED IN A BAG to RUNNER'S HIGH, which gave me one when I finally got it, to IN DIAPERS, which made me laugh. For me, this was the best kind of brain-racking: really a workout, really rewarding.

Do-overs: I had Bon before BEL, some kind of PantS before the BRA, caRDS before LORDS, tHeta something before CHI OMEGA, and my "springs" were jumping all over the place: fOUnts (too short), SourCES, and bOUNCES before POUNCES. No idea: MALAR, LOTHAR, CHIRASHI, PEART.

jae 10:16 AM  

Tough. Lotsa WOEs...LOTHAR, MALAR, SACRAL, BED IN A BAG, rope before DRAG, caRDS before LORDS, fa la la before HOHOHO, and owen before RITA, and hunting down a typo made for a very long Friday solve. A real challenge with a sprinkle of sparkle, liked quite a bit more than @Rex did.

Masked and Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Kinda tough, at our house, too. Clues with "importune" and "peripatetic" in em didn't help. But, hey -- I knew MALAR & LOTHAR, so that did help. Back on the alas side, BAGGEDINTHEBED & CHIOMEGARASHI chewed up many precious nanoseconds.

This puz did feature some Christmas refs, so M&A has decided to unleash one of the Xmas runts, below.

Also had some neat stuff, like longballers RUNNERSHIGH & GONEROGUE, plus that there INDIAPERS clue.

staff weeject pick: BEL. Never heard of BEL espirit. Coulda been a BEL boogie, too, and fooled the M&A.

Like @RP, I had GOTOTHEMALL. That I have done. Don't recall ever goin to therapy, unless watchin schlock flicks on Friday nites counts. [Tonight's M&A proposed contribution pick: "Big Foot vs. Zombies".]

Thanx for the challenge, Mr. DiPietro dude.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


alexapharm 10:23 AM  

ALEXJONES could cross RUSHLIMBAUGH could cross TUCKERCARLSON could cross ROGERSTONE could cross KELLYANNECONWAY could cross NEGATIVEFORTYEIGHT… et cetera et ad nauseum

Rich Glauber 10:29 AM  

Re: Natural and shoot craps. Logic would have me think that 'natural' is a craps term, and sure enough it is. If you roll a 7 or 11, that's called a natural. Thanks, Google

CDilly52 10:35 AM  

I wear my Bossy Pants with my Kinky Boots all the time!

CDilly52 10:36 AM  

AMEN! And well said.

TJS 10:38 AM  

Hey, good news ! We can apparently get away with calling people "dickheads" now, thanks to the college prof. Stay classy, dude.

(Although it's possible we have to preface with "rightwing".)

Sounds like Rex might want to join the 40 million referenced today. Some people really take it hard when the puzzle dares to use terms that are unfamiliar.

"You'd think antifa would make up for lean right". No I wouldn't. And either would you if you took the trouble to read up on antifa.

I think "natural" is a term used when playing craps, but I don't remember what it refers to.

The puzzle? I enjoyed the challenge. I'm working my way through the Fridays and Saturdays of the archive, and I'm not sure there is a noticeable difference in the difficulty levels.

Enjoy the weekend, folks.

bagelboy 10:38 AM  

ONROUTETO / INROUTETO / ENROUTETO all mean the same, if you dont know 1D. Also MOLAR/MALAR. The cross helped there but still had to trust the L.
and some day I will remember to learn to spell RAPINOE. (though I initially wrote in MIAHAMM)

TJS 10:42 AM  

Okay, "natural" refers to rolling 7 or 11 on the come-out roll.

sixtyni yogini 10:44 AM  

Antifa - fictional name made up by the right. Please do not legitimize this paranoid fantasy/projection
in a crossword puzzle or anywhere else. (Unless it’s clued accurately.)
Ruined the whole puzzle for YT.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Rex uses invective because it's all he's got. If he had a cogent argument he
d adnace it. That he rsorts to gutter-mouthed ad hominem tells you all you need to know about Mr. Sharp.

Amelia 10:53 AM  

Every goddamned NEW YORK (as in NEW YORK TIMES crossword puzzle) Japanese restaurant has CHIRASHI on the menu. In the entree category, it goes SUSHI, SASHIMI, CHIRASHI in that order. Not that any of you give a good goddamn, I get CHIRASHI every time I (used to) eat in a Japanese restaurant. It's not wrong. Maybe that's not the way it is in Japan. BUT WE ARE NOT IN JAPAN.

My beef with this puzzle, which was generally okay, was PUSHUP Bra. The New York Times crossword constructors and editors are obsessed with BRAS. Anyone ever notice how often they are in there? It's bizarre. Right up there with AFRO, the only thing they know about Black people. Mind you, since my double mastectomy, I don't (happily) own even one bra, so maybe that's the derivation of this annoyance. Who knows.

So to recap, CHIRASHI is real. BRAS are annoying, and REX is a crab and a half.

DevoutAtheist 11:02 AM  

I immediately took "religiously" to mean in the context of religion. To clarify, atheism is NOT a religion. Nor is it a "belief system". Yet it is much more than simply a rejection of supernatural entities.

Whatsername 11:04 AM  

YIKES! I usually like Joe D’s puzzles but I may need THERAPY after this one. In particular had trouble with the many [seemingly] PPP entries. An individual member of some rock band and of course, my favorite category - rap hits. I like those A LOT. Not.

When I see “boogie,” I think LETS or Boot Scootin. That one just didn’t click for me, nor did 58A. As clued, WENT ROGUE seemed the better answer or “ignorING protocal” a better clue. As is, the tenses don’t match.

I loathe exercise but I’d rather do push-ups all day than wear a PUSHUP BRA for five minutes. And I hope someone will explain how SHOOT CRAPS is a “natural interest” in gambling. Does it have anything to do with DIAPERS? LORD, I hope not.

stanley crowe 11:14 AM  

Yes, it was sticky, and I made the same mistakes as Rex before having to correct myself. I too didn’t like GO TO THERAPY . You never would tell a person to go to therapy. “Get therapy,” yes, or even “seek therapy,”, but “go to therapy” is unidiomatic. I liked EN ROUTE TO which is close to an anagram for GONE ROGUE in the corresponding place in the opposite corner. Flip the Gs and the Ts and it’s pretty damned close. My starter today was PEART. Never knew that I would need that!

EdFromHackensack 11:20 AM  

Yep, had flip before RITA . BEDINABAG is definitely a thing. DOOKed at INDIAPERS, I thought it had to do with India. Nice puzzle

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Atheism is most cetainly a belief system. It has lots of tenets:
There is no God
Life is not ordered to and end
Life began spontaneoulsy without a first mover.

These are a few of the beliefs of atheism

At its core, religion is a way of looking at the world. and Atheisist share a world view largely sjaped by the three tenets listed above.

Deout even cagse a word--devout-- to invoke the sincerity of a deeply help belief. Put another way he has an abiding faith in atheism. that is areligion. QED

Michael Page 11:21 AM  

General agreement with Rex. But have to point out the clever avoidance of kealoa at 11 down, which almost forgives the excess rap references in NYT lately. It’s becoming the Ari Melber of crosswords. I have enacted an exception to the “never look it up” rule for rap questions: would do the same for Hebrew letters, if I hadn’t seen them all by now.

Z 11:22 AM  

While everyone exposing their political leanings is loads of fun, here’s a really important article given that the three letter word being discussed has two S’s. My guess is it will appear in an indie puzzle soon and a NYTX next year.

Newboy 11:26 AM  

Filling the NW from my confident BED IN A Box led to disaster in grid center. That o lead me to falsely accuse Camus & company to don black hats and side dangling dreadlocks (?) as orthodox …..yah, I do know better, but this is Crossworld where the laws of the universe often seem suspended. After today I may become the first of the 41st million needing that extra nudge toward sanity as I GO INTO THERAPY. Luckily I was bailed out as Mrs N blithely said “ oh, that’s EOLITHIC” as she donned her PUSH UP BRA. Some days it takes a tag team to fill the grid & Joe’s effort is a wonderful example! We enjoyed the solve A LOT more than Rex. (Is this the same @Joe who is a frequent poster?)

DevoutAtheist 11:37 AM  

I should explain to Anonymous that my commenter name, DevoutAtheist, is tongue in cheek. Sorry that went over your head.

Joseph Michael 11:39 AM  

Went from hating to loving this puzzle after almost abandoning it more than once. Loved it mainly because it made me feel smart when I finally solved it. Did not have much of a RUNNER’S HiGH in the process, however.

There are one hell of lot of things that 40 million people do, so I just sat back and let the Acrosses fill that one in for me. Wanted “poetry slam” for beat reporting but it wouldn’t fit and “Flip” for the Wilson in Hollywood but that didn’t work either. Had no idea who Mandrake’s sidekick is, who won the Golden Ball in 2019, or who drums for a band called Rush, but somehow the names all magically appeared.


Low points: MALAR, SACRAL, and CHIRASHI, Attorneys at Law.

Couldn’t help but notice that Rex didn’t use the term “kealoa” today. I guess he was too distracted by the BED IN A BAG.

Dave B. 11:42 AM  

Via American Atheists website: "If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby."

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Dave B,
Nope. Not pursuing something is not the same as rejecting something. All who reject do not purse, but not all those who do not pursue do not necessarily reject.
The smug folks at the website you invoke are badly in need of lesson in basic logic.

Now if you want to say Aphilately -- the analogue to atheism is a hobby you would surely be right. For its end is to negate philately.

Anoa Bob 11:54 AM  

I used to run 10K races and have experienced RUNNERS HIGH many times. It was always after the race, never during, so I balked at the clue for that. I would never say it was a "rush" either. It was more like a pervasive, total body feeling of serenity and all-is-right-in-the world. I associate "rush" with more of a sudden, intense feeling like maybe I just hit the mega lotto for a gazillion $.

RUNNERS HIGH has been explained as a release of the body's natural endorphins and based on my one experience of smoking raw opium back in the 70s, I would agree. I also get a similar boost in overall mood from any strenuous physical activity, including long, fast-paced walks (My knees no longer will allow running!) and that's why I agree with Hippocrates' advice "If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood, go for another walk."

Intense physical activity has been shown to be effective in reducing the soul-crushing effects of severe depression and may also be due to the mood boosting release of the body's natural endorphins.

I couldn't help but notice that the grid fill got a bunch of help from the plural of convenience POC, especially the two-for-one POC, where a Down and an Across share a final, letter count boosting S, as happens at the ends of REACT/PUSH UP BRA, PED/GENERAL, DYE/POOL & ADD/LORD. All those Ss could be changed to black squares, the clues slightly tweaked and nothing of significance would be lost. The virtual black square count now would be 33 rather than the more-respectable-for-a-themeless 29. (I double checked my count!).

I'm still stinging a bit from last evenings loses at the poker table so I think I will go for a walk.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Devout atheist,
My apologies. You're saying you dont hold any sincere conviction regarding atheism? Good idea. As you know atheism ends in the garve. Best not to hold it too dearly.

Eric 12:07 PM  

Naticked at that same square!

Sgreennyc 12:17 PM  

A puzzle review? More like a rant from an overly opinionated jerk. This was an excellent puzzle that I found extremely challenging and satisfying.

SoapFiend20 12:18 PM  

This puzzle went over my head and took me forever.

1. Never heard of "Mandrake the Magician"
2. Couldn't name a single Rush song, no less a member of the band
3. Not that familiar with predominantly white sororities
4. Not that into sushi. Never heard of Chirashi or Chirashizushi
5. Don't gamble enough to get the connection between "natural" and Craps

Got the "BED IN A BAG", "EN ROUTE TO", AND "LEAN RIGHT" right off the bat, but immediately hit a wall.

Unknown 12:18 PM  

Any one annoyed by the abbreviation in the 9 down clue but not included in the answer?

old timer 12:30 PM  

RAPINOE went right in. One fierce lady! And the Womens' World Cup, like Womens' Tennis, is so often more fun to watch than the mens' equivalents.

I guess I'm alone in having put in bOUNCES before POUNCES. So it took me a while to see PUSH UP BRAS, which I thought was the cleverest entry in the RACE. I bet a lot of you also thought OLIVER was filmspeak for some kind of plot twist, of a Hitchcockian nature. I laughed when I figured it out.

I've been to THERAPY. Not for my nonexistent mental health, but because I once fell down and broke my hand, and have long had balance issues, and the DOCS prescribed PT for both. I bet a lot of those who GO TO THERAPY do so for physical THERAPY.

Kudos for many clues, including for HOHOHO and HEARTRATE. Not so praiseworthy: ADDS for "puts on". Of course I was tricked into writing "dons", but I cried "Unfair".

ANTIFA is a name chosen by the loonies themselves, who seem to think it is OK to steal, smash, or at best annoy innocent people, thus making people hate their cause, and be inclined to do the exact opposite of what they want us to do. Probably ANTIFA is some sort of Russian or Chinese plot to destabilize the USA.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

I don't know about the rest of you but I'm going to be giggling at "in space diapers" for awhiiiiile.

I put tonkatsu at first instead of chirashi but am definitely familiar with both.

The NE corner was impossible and I had to basically just stick about five separate letters in with Autocheck until something landed right. REACTS for "jerks" was not cool. Not cool! MALAR, LOTHAR, GOTTA boogie? What even?

I was so excited to see Neil Peart that I texted a friend who's sorta famous for her Rush love and I was really surprised she hadn't heard from anyone but me. So thanks to this puzzle for that!

egsforbreakfast 12:39 PM  

@Z. Thanks for interesting article. It certainly feels like a word headed for the mainstream.

41A. SHOOTCRAPS is a head scratcher if you don’t know what “a natural" is in craps. If you do, then the clue isn’t even a misdirect.

53A INDIA PERS (untrained, perhaps) until I figured out by Analogy to CALPers, that they were talking about the India Public Employee Retirement System. Having dealt a few times with the Indian Bureaucracy, it made perfect sense.

I thought that the puzzle was awfully hard, coming from our buddy @joe DiPinto…… oh, never mind.

Photomatte 12:44 PM  

Chirashi was a gimme, since that's pretty much all I ate when I lived in Tokyo (not sure where konnofromtokyo had his meals, but it was always called chirashi where I ate; chirashizushi is so formal as to never be used. Maybe I didn't eat in fancy enough restaurants 😀).
My main issue is 41 Across. What does "Have a natural interest in gambling" have to do with the answer, "shoot craps?"

The Cleaver 12:48 PM  

If there were a God, there wouldn't be The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave), if you get my drift.

And, btw, Josh Duggar just got convicted on child porn charges. A vewy, vewy Christian boy.

Only on your first roll. After that it's 'craps'.

Well, The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) was reported today to have said "Fuck him" when asked about Bibi congratulating Sleepy Joe. The Sh!tgibbon is always a class act.

Oh, that's right, it was Antifa that stormed the Capitol. It says so in the Bible.

Electric Music Fan 12:49 PM  

Am I the only one who remembers the psychedelic band, Lothar and the Hand People? Actually, I don't remember their music -- if I ever heard it -- but their name stuck with me. So I thought of it when SNL had a recurring bit called Lothar of the Hill People (Mike Myers: "I am Lothar of the Hill People! Much have I seen, and much have I done, for I am Lothar of the Hill People!") On the other hand, I do my best to know as little as possible about the band Rush and their Castrato Rock brethren.

Beezer 12:56 PM  

Well this is another example of Joe DiPietro’s brilliant puzzle-making! @Nancy and @Lewis, congrats for being able to finish (without cheating, like me). Unlike @Rex, BEDINABAG was one of the few things I plopped in with confidence (well, semi-confidence). His word play is extraordinary and thank you to the commenter above (TJS or JD?) that pointed out that a “natural” is a “thing” in SHOOTINGCRAPS.

@Frantic discussed her DOOKS and mine was GO THE RAPY. Since I solve on the app I gave up and thought I’d revisit later…hah! After I cheated my guts out for toe holds I got the “happy music” (actual I put my settings on silent because it’s annoying) and forgot THE RAPY until I read the blog. Obviously, I am not worthy of this puzzle’s excellence!

Joe Dipinto 12:57 PM  

@Newboy 11:26 – Not me. Similar name and fellow Brooklynite.

Reading the blog today I thought Rex was going to complain about every single entry in the puzzle. My only mistake was putting in MOLAR and then forgetting to recheck the rap title clue, so I finished with O LOT! (Cry from a Biblical pillar of salt?) at 11d.

I didn't find it difficult in general. Started off with PEART and filled in that section. I sort of remembered Mandrake's sidekick as "Luther" or something similar, so LOTHAR slid in. CHIRASHI was totally gettable from crosses. SACRAL I was familiar with, and BED IN A BAG sets are commonplace in Linens Departments. No issues with GO TO THERAPY either, certainly nothing worth going to therapy for.

Distaff counterpart to Rex's Billy Squier video

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

got stuck on GOT _ THERAPY. now, what's the proper rebus for that?

Nancy 1:05 PM  

@Dave B (11:42) -- Apt and quite funny! I know you didn't originate the aphorism, but thanks for calling it to our intention.

I love @GILL and @Whatsername's glorious rants on the PUSH UP BRA. I wouldn't/won't/have never worn one either. I think that what probably makes them so unspeakable is the underwire, underwire being one of the worst inventions man has ever created -- and I'm sure that it was a man who created it. Here's my list of the worst inventions of all time:

Nuclear bombs
Wood chippers (the trucks that "eat" trees)
Mammogram machines
Leaf blowers
Weed whackers
Underwire bras

CDilly52 1:06 PM  

Other than having no idea what INDI APERS are - some really weird lingo for newbies who don’t know come here from sic ‘em and just imitate what everyone else is doing, this had some tough spits but wasn’t as hard as I expected. I’ve had fair success with Mr. Dipietro lately. Dis not know CHIRASHI but that particular corner fell easily for me on the downs. Did not dislike it, but wished for more word play.

My first thought upon hearing the phrase BED IN A BAG was that the ad meant an air bed. I do not do much shopping in stores and it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago while in Santa Roaa visiting my kids that I understood it. My daughter had been getting old furniture repainted and decorating their bee hideously overpriced home and said she got a great deal on a BED IN. A BAG and for the first time had matching line s and duvet in her master. She remarked that she can use the bag to store the sweaters that she so rarely wears now that she’s a Cali girl. Learn something new every day if I’m lucky!

This was a fine serviceable Friday but it gave me no wow moments or really too much resistance.

Centrist 1:25 PM  

Antifa ? What’s next Proud Boys ? I can do without either in the puzzle.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 1:27 PM  

I'm way late to the blog, having been at church all morning practicing organ and seeing to piano tunings, and then had to see the end of the Dole funeral, being an organist.... But in case nobody said this already, there is no such thing as ANTIFA. It's a straw man set up by Trump. I'm fairly high in Our Revolution hierarchy, I'm apparently not a member, that I know of; I don't know any body who is a member. It does not exist.

okanaganer 1:44 PM  

Tough puzzle that I finished with not one but two errors. MOLAR crossing O LOT, and CHIRASHO crossing RAPONOE (seriously, two names I've never heard of, geez).

In fact for 39 down I had RAP_N__ and thought: wow, RAPA NUI won some World Cup thing?

Very nice to see Neil PEART again. Rush, one of the great Canadian bands of the 70s.

[Spelling Bee: dbyd 0, yd pg -1 (missed this word again!).]

mathgent 1:46 PM  

I was saved by a crossword perennial, ROVED. That suggested OLIVER - - great clue. And I was able to guess my way through the SW and finish clean. Feel good.

Ultra crunchy but not much sparkle.

I haven’t looked it up. Cannery Row is the only Steinbeck novel I know set in Monterey.

Joe Dipinto 1:51 PM  

@Electric Music Fan – I remember Lothar And The Hand People! Or I remember their existence. I don't think I ever heard any of their music. Apparently Lothar was the "name" of a theremin they used.

Here's an early single, and there's more stuff on YouTube. They seem kind of interesting.

mathgent 1:55 PM  

My favorite comments this morning.

konnofrom tokyo (6:34)
pabloinnh (8:42)
Nancy (9:00)
Dave B (11:42)

bigsteve46 2:06 PM  

Crosswordese at its worst! Just awful in every way. (And it beat the crap out of me - I always was a sore loser.)

old timer 2:09 PM  

I have to tell you about a sign, in a private parking lot in Santa Rosa, which was up for years:


I kid you not!

Teedmn 2:30 PM  

Boy howdy, this was tough for me. Like @Lewis, I had one measly corner filled in, though my only loner answer was 2D. I finally gave up, still resisting Google, and got my lunch. I sat down and all of 53A made sense suddenly and that got me finished (except for my MoLAR/aLOT error. Rap songs, whatevs.)

My 53A weNt ROGUE, which caused a lot of my hold-up since my main foothold was in the SE but weNt no further with that in place.

BED linens fit so well but didn't give me a single right "wrong" entrance point, sigh.

Joe DiPietro, I thought I was getting better at hard themeless puzzles, but you just showed me how wrong I am, and on a Friday besides! Ouch, but thanks, it hurt so good.

bocamp 2:38 PM  

RAPaNOE / CHIRASHa was a careless blunder. Felt a slight twinge when entering the 'a' in her name, and should have known better re: Japanese food endings (hi @Amelia (10:53 AM). Once again, I filled in the final cell before going back and investigating what my Spidey-sense had detected. :(

@okanaganer (1:44 PM) 👍 for 0 yd

That was my final word yd, as well. I thot I'd learned to add that suffix to everything possible, but apparently, it hasn't fully taken. lol

Still looking for the final one (a 7) from dbyd. 🤞

td pg -4*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

egsforbreakfast 2:44 PM  

@Nancy. Additional possible additions to your list:

Vacuum-sealed packaging
Styrofoam pellets

jberg 2:47 PM  

This one ate me up and spat me out. I had to look up PEART, since I had no idea; and I had to look up RAPINOE because I was spelling it wrong. I knew MALAR from birding, but couldn't remember CHIRASHI (which I've eaten many times) until I had almost all the crosses.

I haven't seen Mandrake the Magician since my teen years, but apparently it kept going until 2013. Still, I remembered enough to know it wasn't LuTHeR. My cousin was married to a guy named LOTHAR, which may have helped.

I think if someone asks you what you are, religiously, ATHEIST would be an appropriate answer; and religiously, not religion, is the word in the clue.

@Frantic, someone did explain craps, but they didn't flag you, so in case you missed it: if you role 7 or 11 on your first roll, that's a natural, and you win. So if you play around with the clue wording, you can see where it goes.

I was assuming that a BEDINABAG was a mail-order mattress combined with linens, but I gather that it's just the BED linens (my first answer, btw)? Seems lame.

I never heard the 2019 rap hit either, but c'mon... If the first line is as given in the clue, and the next one is 4 letters, what else is it going to be?

In the end, an enjoyable solve, even though I didn't get all of it.

EV 2:53 PM  

If Antifa is a “ fictional name made up by the right” (it isn’t)
And if it is not a “Modern protest movement” (it is)
Then how, exactly, would it be “clued correctly”?

Rick Sacra 3:06 PM  

Awesome puzzle! Took my son and I an hour to finish, but finish we did, no googling, so if we can finish a friday puzzle without google, then it's pretty fair. Tough, yes.... like "twist in a story" being OLIVER, and have an inclination to gambling be "SHOOTCRAPS".... those were pretty tricky and took us forever. Like others, that SW corner was the toughest, with the Japanese sushi variant making it the hardest. And I can NEVER remember what peripatetic means.... : ) Loved it, thanks Joe! --Rick

Anonymous 3:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jcap 3:17 PM  

Rex was especially solipsistic today. If he doesn't know it or like, then it's just not a fair answer.

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

first and foremost, Antifa is not an organized organization. unlike MAGA, the Klan, Proud Boys, and the myriad other Right Wingnut seditionists. deal with it.

Robert Grady 3:30 PM  

I kept thinking what is a RAPY? Why would anyone GO TO THE RAPY?

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

I looked up the lyrics to the 11 down "rap hit." Why is this filth in the nyt crossword?

Solverinserbia 4:03 PM  

This is UNPUBLISHABLE. I did solve it, but MALAR and LOTHAR crossing? SACRAL and CHIRASHI? BEL (esprit) and ENE crossing BEDINABAG was going to be a complaint when I thought it might be mEDINABAG but I guess a BED-IN-A-BAG is a commonish thing even if I wasn't aware.

I don't complain about names that one doesn't know late in the week (RENE, RAPINOE (knew it), PEART). Those are part of crosswords. But nonsense, archaic "words" no one uses like MALAR and SACRAL shouldn't be in the puzzle or at the very least shouldn't cross those names or fictional character names like MALAR/LOTHAR.

kitshef 4:29 PM  

High heels
Leaded gas/lead paint

Trey 4:48 PM  

@Nancy - 1:05 How can woodchippers be on your list of worst inventions? Without them, we would not have the movie "Fargo" - that would be a loss to society.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  


Well, yeah. But of far more import: no divorce in CT.

Joe Dipinto 5:04 PM  

@Trey – and the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City" wouldn't be the same without jackhammers. (Even if the song illustrates what's bad about them.)

Blue Stater 5:12 PM  

Absolutely right, OFL (and others). A real stinker.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
albatross shell 5:59 PM  

Harvard Chaplain: If you were whining about that I feel sorry for you. Small and narrow minded.

Your grave line. If you end up any where else let us know. If you have any testable evidence of another place tell us. Otherwise stop repeating yourself.
On atheism. I guess there are many varieties. A belief that supernatural beings are not acting in our known universe. The fact that some things are unknown or unknowable is not a reason to assume there are such beings. It is certainly not reason to believe in one particular such being. You may or maynot consider this a religion in a legal moral or philosophical sense. There are legal reasons to do so.

This puzzle chewed me up and spat me out. High point: Getting PUSHUPBRA from a careful reading of the clue from the S in in ATHEIST and the P in PEDS. That got me most of the center. More sweat got me the NW and center W. and even more the SE. Then I TIREd and TOPOR set in. I needed google to finish up in the NE and google and just plain looking at answers in the SE.

SHOOTCRAPS was a gettable hint (I know what a natural is so CRAPS) but I am not quite sure there is a logic that gets you there. An unnatural affinity for gambling might also get you there. An odd affinity for gambling would be ROULETTE?

RUNNERSHIGH wasn't too hard either and a very appropriate clue despite what Rex thinks.

EGGNOG for Christmas cheer and was sure it was right. Disagree with Rex. HOHOHO is definitely a Christmas cheer.

Trey 6:00 PM  

@Anon 4:55 - Had to Google about wood chippers in CT related to divorce, as that was news to me. Interesting case.

Unknown 6:05 PM  

Too many wrong initial guesses for me:
so I never really got any traction anywhere.
This was like a Friday from 20 years ago. . . . .

Listening to rex complain about answers where they're out of his (seemingly) limited world of personal knowledge makes me think the therapy numbers should be 40 million plus one.

albatross shell 7:00 PM  

C from reduced thus CHI.
O from POOLS thus OMEGA.
Not sure people should be complaining about the clue.

CHI OME GRA picked up a extra letter walking into a bar...

Anonymous 7:03 PM  


really??? how many times have we seen NRA?

Z 7:12 PM  

@mathgent - I’m not sure if this what the clue was going for, but Salinas (for example) is in MONTEREY County.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

They should let ‘‘em all in- ISIS, Al Qaeda, Antifa etc. They exist and are therefore puzzle worthy.

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

Not sure why you think I’d obey a directive from you, but be assured I won’t.
Atheism ends in the grave that’s the sine qua non of atheism. What’s the problem repeating that when the subject of atheism arises?
You might have a point if I introduced the subject of atheism, but I didn’t. I was merely responding to a post.
My question is, why do you want to silence me?

albatross shell 8:06 PM  

Tortilla Flats is in Monterey.

Worth noting?


Value Meat Level for PRIZE GIST TIER were nice Friday clues in that you had to nail down meaning and part of speech to get each one and avoid alternative answers like TRUE WORTH PRICE.
(REAR IN DIAPERS) and more well clued. Partner of NURSE A TIT? Thanx @SunVolt.

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

put in SNARERATE for Beat reporting?

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

Too old for 2019 Rap it and too young for Mandrake the Magician, and then cross it with MALAR?!?!?

My other hangup was SACRAL crossing CHIRASHI (love sushi, never heard of that, though). Also didn't know BEL esprit, TORPOR, RENE cassis, or EOLITHIC, but the crosses saved me.

Knew REX would have a fit over LEANRIGHT, but to also think that ANTIFA is just a right wing fabrication is spending too much time in his ivory tower (maybe thats why he's never heard of a BEDINABAG)

Also, for some of the clues, it seemed like the tense of the clue was off a bit from the tense of the answer, which initially sent me in another direction.

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

Forgot to ask.what legal reasons are there for whatever word salad you were coughing up?

Smith 9:02 PM  

Fell asleep doing this puzzle, had other stuff to do, eventually got back to it, but on finishing noticed my time was 6:48:14. Sheesh.

Can we stop with the BRAS already?

And @Nancy, 👋 from another who puts mammogram machines on the worst ever list.

LOTHAR? ALOT as clued?? And TIL MALAR. Seems like a word I should have known.

Hoping for better tomorrow

Without a clue 9:08 PM  

Malar will be familiar to birders. Antifa will be familiar to conspiracy theorists. Chirashi will be familiar to nobody. Hard to believe Rex didn't winge over green paint clues like "Let's _____". Plenty of wide open cluing in there. Did eventually get the happy sound after 45 minutes but it was cell by cell - which actually sounds like a good clue. A: Slog?

One of the "nones" 9:09 PM  

Is the statement "atheism ends in the grave" supposed to upset atheists and make them repent? Atheists think that ALL life ends in the grave, including the lives of even of the most devoutly religious people. So they won't be the least bit troubled by the observation.

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

No one’s responded to anon 3:47 ?!!! ( full disclosure. I did hours ago. Mods nuked it)
Here’s the anodyne version.
Oh my, rap is sacrosanct. No matter what words, imagery or intent are advocated in hip hop, it’s not just palatable but proper for The Times. And not just The Times, public airwaves.
Ahhhhh, the blessings of liberty.

albatross shell 11:24 PM  

Since you know how to ask politely why not do it? What part was word salad?
Someone who considers herself an atheist may consider her beliefs as deeply held as any religious based belief system. She might even consider it her religion. It is proper that the legal system treat her fundamental beliefs the same as the rights of traditional religious beliefs. Otherwise there is a separate and unequal division of citizenship. It would also allow the courts to define religion. Religions do not demand belief in God god or gods. The courts have recognized non-belief as a religious belief. You cannot bar people of a certain religion from say voting, then you cannot bar anti-religious nor the areligious from voting. But you shirley guessed that was I was getting at? Freedom of religion protects atheists and agnostics too.

albatross shell 11:35 PM  

Almost sounds like you were answering yourself. Such a clever fellow. Get nuked answering yourself. I actually read the lyrics and listened to it. Not my favorite style of music but pretty good. Good rap. Stylish and meaningful. And I caught him on TV once before.

Curmudgeon 11:49 PM  


Anonymous 5:25 AM  

Boy, it feels like the OLDS are all over these comments.

Anonymous 5:32 AM  

ANTIFA is as old as FAscism - so is it 'modern'? Eh... Lots of people here didn't even bother looking at the Wikipedia, let alone the NYT article about it before posting their opinion about it.

DvH 6:31 AM  

Natick here as well!

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Anyone who's taken the time to read about what Antifa actually does would realize they're the real "dickheads."

Claire 10:53 AM  

In the US, you'll see chirashi on the menu. This entry was a gimme for me.

spacecraft 10:28 AM  

Toughie. Should've remembered LOTHAR, but ol' Mandy has been absent from the funnies for several decades now. Other spots that hung me up include trying to come up with some kind of Pants for the exercise wear when the P of PEDS landed in the right place, and not getting the "clue with a Twist" early enough (OLIVER--*groan*). Also trying to fit SALINAS into eight squares.

Once again OFF is affected by the subject matter of the fill. It's fill, man. I guess every constructor should accompany his submission with the disclaimer "The opinions expressed within the grid are not those of this constructor."

The SW, with that awful Japanese dish that I never heard of, was the last to fall, but faithful OLIVER saw me through at last. DOD is Golden Ball winner Megan RAPINOE; her trophy case is getting crowded. ALOT of teeth in this MALAR; triumph points aplenty. Birdie.

thefogman 12:49 PM  

Very hard but very good. 27A had me in a RUT for a long time. Had ——-Pants before PUSHUPBRAS because of 28D (PEDS).

Diana, LIW 1:09 PM  

Got a couple wrong. No big.

But one really funny answer. I stared at and stared at "go to the rapy" for the longest time. Rapy? Who? Oh...therapy. Like...what I used to do. Har!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, and still licensed MHC

Oh! And my winter home is dead center - yay MONTEREY!

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

A challenging puzzle with merit and fun, but burdened by unnecessary trivia.

Dano 2:13 PM  

A perfect example of what's gone wrong in this country. Point fingers and call the other guy a "dickhead". Nice work, Rex!

rondo 2:14 PM  

OFL actively dislikes just way too many things, and once again shows being out of touch with the real world, ignorant of BEDINABAG. And synchophant @Z confirms. Amazing.
I found almost the whole puz rather easy, save for CHIRASHI and the house of caRDS before LORDS, no biggie there.

We lost Neil PEART a year or two ago. Even if you don't particularly care for Rush just listen to the drumming. He was one of the greats. And no dummy otherwise.

Liked this puz ALOT.

Burma Shave 2:17 PM  




tonyd 4:47 PM  

Don't like 58A or 60A. Surely "Ignored protocol" is WENTROGUE and "Beat reporting" is something like "telling the patient their HEARTRATE"

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