Does drudgery old-style / FRI 1-27-23 / Active volcano near Peru's dormant Pichu Pichu / Morally repulsive, in slang / Classic arcade game in which players can be on fire / Burns poem that opens "Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie"

Friday, January 27, 2023

Constructor: Joe Deeney

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: is that a theme? let's say "no" 

Word of the Day: LIANE Moriarty (51A: Moriarty who wrote "Nine Perfect Strangers") —
Liane Moriarty (born 15 November 1966) is an Australian author. She has written nine novels, including the New York Times best sellers Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, which were adapted into television series for HBO and Hulu, respectively. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well this was a huge miss on two levels. The only flashy long answers were the paired answers, up top and below, and those pairs look like a very bad attempt at a mini-theme. An actor and his movie, and then a musician and her ... album?  How ... why? Because each pair consists of cross-referenced answers, it really really looks like the puzzle wants you to see a parallel, but it's a wonky, clanky, just plain off parallel, made more confusing by the fact that JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE is also (like ALANIS MORISSETTE) a singer ... If "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" had been [some movie starring Alanis], that would've been interesting, or at least ... parallel. I don't know what this is. It's also just straightforward trivia—nothing interesting at all about the way those answers are clued. "THE SOCIAL NETWORK" clue (15A: 2010 biodrama co-starring 18-Across) is much much vaguer than the very obvious "JAGGED LITTLE PILL" clue (56A: 1995 alternative rock album by 59-Across that is one of the best-selling albums of all time), but still, they're both basic, plain-old, no-frills, ordinary facts-based clues. Ho-hum. So ... take the four marquee answers, try to get cute, and wreck the whole thing, that seems to have been the plan here. The grid is 16 wide, so those longer answers at least give you *more* puzzle, I guess, if you're into that. I just don't get it. Don't get why this attempt at thematically parallel stacks was deemed interesting at all. Hit your mark or just don't do the thing. 

The second, much more unbelievable level on which this puzzle missed is in duping "TRY." That is the worst, most flagrantly negligent dupe I've seen ... well, I don't know, I don't actually keep track, but it was stunning. I had "I TRY" (that fake-humble answer that just won't go away) (10D: "Just doing my job") and so when I wandered down to the bottom of the grid and saw -TRY at the end of an answer, I thought "well that must be something like VESTRY or TAPESTRY or CIRCUITRY or CARPENTRY or RE-ENTRY..." but no. No. There is "I TRY" up top, and then there is "NICE TRY" down below (40D: "It was worth a shot"). This is a new level of editorial "I Don't Give A ****." It's not like either answer is so good. Maybe if the answers were longer, and absolutely sizzling, you could get away with this. Also, you can dupe little words like prepositions and articles and prepositions and get away with it. No one's gonna notice that stuff too much. But a verb. And not a linking verb, either—a regular verb. And not even a different form or tense of the verb. Just "TRY" and ... "TRY." I've had grids sent back for revision because of dupes that were far, far less egregious than this one. Every constructor has had the experience of building a grid and completely missing that they have a dupe. You've got a grid that works, you're happy with it, and then after you've had some sleep, you come back to it and realize, "damn, I've got CHEESE in there twice" (an extreme hypothetical, admittedly). And they you *fix it*. The fact that it got left in and the editors test-solvers etc. were like "meh, sure," that is Disappointing. That second TRY ... well, it belies the sentiments of the first TRY, I'll tell you that much. I do not believe that this puzzle, in fact, tried.

I liked "TO A MOUSE" (12D: Burns poem that opens "Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie") and I liked that it crossed LOUSY, since Burns also wrote "TO A LOUSE" (more specifically, "To a Louse, On Seeing one on a Lady's Bonnet at Church"). There were no tough parts today except for names, and those weren't that hard. LIANE and LESLEA (only semi-familiar) both had simple crosses. I had a couple of hesitations were initial letters looked wrong. CNT- up front on 16D: Tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere (CN TOWER) and EON- up front on 38A: Big source of entertainment news (E-ONLINE). Parsing those was mildly fun. Wrote in CREAMY before realizing that was the the same as, not an "alternative to" smooth (where peanut butter is concerned) (2D: Alternative to smooth, at the grocery = CHUNKY). Couldn't remember the final vowel on EL MISTI so just waited for the cross to help me out (8D: Active volcano near Peru's dormant Pichu Pichu). Had SKEEVY before SKEEZY (14D: Morally repulsive, in slang), which, crossing FONZ (25A: 1970s-'80s TV character to whom the phrase "jumped the shark" originally referred), was maybe my favorite part of the grid. The FONZ was a little SKEEZY, in retrospect, much as I loved him as a kid. He snaps and women run obediently to his side? His "office" is a diner bathroom? I dunno. Something not right there. Oh no, I just noticed that in addition to TRY, the puzzle duped SEE as well (SEES FIT, SEE YA!) so I have to stop before I notice other unpleasant things. Oh, one last thing, I had HOO- at 34D: Ruffian and wrote in HOODLUM ... but it wouldn't fit, which I found baffling. "How many HOO- words for tough guys can there b- ... oh" (HOOLIGAN).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. IOTAS are "characters" because they are letters in the Greek alphabet (10A: Characters in the "Iliad"?). I'm not even sure that clue needs a "?"

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 5:57 AM  

St. Joe’s in the NYTCW! The Hawk will never die. Fun fact: the hawk mascot has to continually “flap” their wings (sometimes just one wing at a time) throughout the entire game, in keeping with the motto that the Hawk will never die. Hey, the Jesuits are a unique bunch.

OffTheGrid 6:17 AM  

What @Rex said. I hadn't noticed the dupes but my OPINION of the puzzle was already very. very low. There was a mix of Monday easy clues and TRYing too hard to be clever Friday clues. My additional nit is FONZ. It's either The Fonz or Fonzie. Maybe WPOW* from JC? Actually, he probably loved it.

*Worst Puzzle Of the Week.

Loren Muse Smith 6:21 AM  

I tell ya what – this was really hard for me. Great find on Joe’s part that the people’s names had the same number of letters as their respective titles. And then to be able to stack them like that. . . nice. It didn’t bother me that the two aren’t connected. And I didn’t even notice the TRY dupe.

“Skeevy” never occurred to me; I had “sleezy” first. SKEEZY feels slightly sleezier.

The clue for MENUS is great. Funny that they’re called “orders” when so many people, my daughter included, invariably turn it into a request, Can I have the snapper? Like maybe the waiter’ll say no. But I guess even saying I’ll take the snapper still isn’t an order. Bring me the snapper and make it snappy. Now there’s an order.

ASTI – So it’s sweet? Didn’t know. Every now and then Mom asks me to pick her up a bottle of white wine, and she usually asks for a Moscato. I think she likes that she knows this word. (Silent prayer of thanks that she doesn’t know Barolo; she’s too much of a penny-pincher.) Anyhoo. . . She also likes Rieslings. Either way, I have to get the really big bottle with a screw cap.

I sat looking at PAIR OFF and thinking about how different the phrase is from pair up. Or is it? PAIR OFF feels more exclusionary and deliberate, You PAIR OFF with someone at a swingers’ party and disappear. You pair up with a cousin at a reunion and compete in a three-legged race. But maybe I’m overthinking it.

Kept trying to make “crunchy” fit for CHUNKY. I bet product namers have to be careful when describing stuff as CHUNKY. Salsa and peanut butter, yes. Mayonnaise, probably not. The word also feels like a euphemism describing a certain toddler girl’s thunder thighs. (Hi, Sage, love ya, mwah.)

Seems that HOOLIGAN is an eponym. From some fictional Irish comics character. The word has such delicious potential for portmanteaux. Drooligan – Turner’s Hooch. Fueligan – someone who siphoned gas back in the ‘70s. Schooligan - the kid who thinks it’s swell to pull the bathroom sink off the wall at least once a month. Pooligan – that kid whose number one offense just elicits the lifeguard’s whistle to stop running, but his number two offense closes the pool for 24 hours.

I was utterly unfamiliar with JAGGED LITTLE PILL and looked into it to see what drug it was. I was just skimming (having to stop and look up the word jejune again), but it seems the JAGGED LITTLE PILL refers to the bitter pill you have to swallow that is your reality. Boy oh boy did that have me staring out the window. It was my plan by now to be retired and living a shallow life in the suburbs, lunching with the ladies, playing tennis, looking vaguely like some movie star. . . But here I am constantly worried about money and my future - by day in a room with surly students (many of whom are there specifically for attacking a teacher) and by night watching Dr. Phil reruns with Mom.

Oh well, best laid plans and all that. . .

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

That is actually a very fun fact. Thanks for sharing!

Wanderlust 6:58 AM  

I ended with a guess on the MOILS / ON TILT cross. I have never heard of either of them, and I like playing poker. I guess it refers to a pinball machine? I’m not sure how that connects to “frustrated and betting emotionally.”

I was kinda meh on the puzzle. I know the movie, the star, the album and the singer, but I’m not all that into any of them. I can imagine there will be a LOT of hate for this puzzle over its pop culture dominance.

I had loFTS and LoSSES before WAFTS and LASSES. Since I didn’t have ON TILT, I was trying to come up with a free-standing structure that fit CN-OLER.

Like @LMS, I really wanted crunchy for the smooth alternative. I liked that CHUNKY was right above CREAM. And the OWL was perched above the MOUSE, waiting to swoop.

Favorite clues were “industry with lots to offer” for REALTY and “that’s what you think” for OPINION.

SEE YA. AN’ YA, as well.

Irene 7:01 AM  

Way too many proper names
Plus two long acrosses?
Plus I never heard of eonline or nbajam.
A disaster for me.

kitshef 7:09 AM  

Saturday-tough, but not in a good way. Bottom half of the grid is so choked with PPP that there’s little room for anything else. I think LIANE and LESLEA were the only WoEs, but the latter had me convinced I had an error, though as it turned out I did not.

I’ve been on a very bad run of books lately. So far this year I’ve read The Fires by Sigridur Hagalin, Feral by Emily Pennington, Timeline by Michael Crichton, and Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, and I’d give them all only one or two stars out of five.

I have not seen the mini-series and can’t judge that, nor ANYA Taylor-Joy’s performance, but the book really left me wondering what the point of the whole thing was, while also feeling that chess tournaments were poorly misrepresented.

On the plus side, I’m currently reading The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman, and quite enjoying it.

SouthsideJohnny 7:16 AM  

Enjoyed Rex’s summary more than I did sloshing around the grid. I only hung in there to try and get a little better at Friday deciphering - but this turned out to be a real dud. If you are going to (basically) have a PPP theme with four grid-spanners, maybe avoid clogging up the rest of the grid with additional trivia. Not the case today as we were serenaded by the likes of ST JOES, EL MISTI, TO A MOUSE, CN TOWER, Genesee whatever and his CREAM ALE, NBA JAM, LIANE, ANYA, STILLE, LESLEA . . . omg - stop it, my hair hurts.

Yesterday we had a gimmick puzzle run wild and today a PPP-fest. These things are technically crossword puzzles, just not very interesting or enjoyable ones if you don’t get a sense of awe from feats of construction or thrive on minutiae.

CWT 7:17 AM  

I’m pretty much on the same page as Rex, maybe even more “P.O.ed” than he, but before I start my mini-rant let me say to LMS, (and I think I speak for all of us), I’m a little worried about you. Public school teaching is one of the hardest yet most important jobs there is, and as we all know completely undervalued in this country. And your efforts seem to me truly heroic. They make Sisyphus’s look like a piece of cake! Let’s hope you can transition to a more rewarding less stressful and less dangerous position soon!
But about the puzzle: what a huge disappointment ! Everyone expects a Friday puzzle to be difficult, linguistically clever, but with a real payoff, but what do we get here? A so-so movie from 2010, an album from 1995, an actress here, a children’s book author there. Where’s the beef?as the lady used to say. Trivia trivia trivia! A complete waste of time.

Laura 7:34 AM  

So sad Rex...I thought you were back to enjoying puzzles. Two answers that overlap by a word seems a sad reason to hate a puzzle. I would have liked more cleverness in the clues, and fewer people l've never heard of...but at least the 4 big crosses were familiar. Not as easy for me but a good Friday morning for me.

TTrimble 7:36 AM  

I had entirely forgotten (or did I even know?) that JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE was in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. I do remember Jesse Eisenberg as whats-his-face, you know, the head of FaceBook, before his monstrous fame and fortune.

For some reason, "crunchy" kept intruding in, preventing CHUNKY from coming into view. I also had slEaZY before SKEEZY.

I'm not much of a poetry reader, but I am more familiar with TO A lOUSE than TO A MOUSE. But that would have made yet another LOUSY dupe -- EEK! Would you say then that Joe Deeney's puzzle EKEd out an acceptance at the NYT? A puzzle that the NYT SEES FIT to print, I guess.

This time I'm disappointed that Rex didn't show us one of his repair jobs, starting with e.g. replacing NICE TRY with theaTRe, perhaps, and going from there.

MOIL is one of those words that you could tell me is a synonym of ROIL and I'd never know the difference. Glad to learn otherwise. ASTI is one of those words where I stick in the first three letters and wonder if the last will be an A or E or I, but I'll just let it hang for a while; it'll get sorted out.

I agree with Rex that the puzzle was easy for a Friday.

@LMS: screw tops are great. They should have done that a long time ago. They work just as well as corks. Wishing you and your mom and everyone else a Happy Friday!

SB: I'm keeping yesterday's open a little while longer, but I'm down by 3 or 4 at the moment.

Son Volt 7:44 AM  

Entered TV Guide territory here - just too many names and useless trivia. JUSTIN, ALANIS and the unknown trio of ANYA, LESLEA and LIANE. @LMS - Hey Lucy! Plurals at IRISES, ARENAS, LEIS etc stick out. DoublIng down on SYD.

Following Rex - love to see TO A MOUSE. Grew up drinking Utica Club and Genny CREAM - basis of the Genny CREAMers Screamers. In high school we could buy a case for $2.99. Nice to see it in the grid crossing CHEERS.

Not my favorite Friday solve - especially trying to follow up yesterday’s greatness.

It’s been so long MAE

Alice Pollard 7:45 AM  

Kinda easy for a Friday. I got JUSTINTIMBERLAKE and THESOCIALNETWORK early. For some dumb reason I had CHEEse before CHEERS and faNzINE before EONLINE. I got ALANISMORISSERTTE easy enough. Could not remember the title of her album, that was a struggle - I had the LITTLE part and then LITTLEPILL, JAGGED didnt come to me although it IS an iconic album though one I never really listened to . FONZ SYD LIANE were all in my wheelhouse. I wanted oilUP before ICEUP for the slick clue. Nice Friday, took me half a coffee . CHEERS all

TaylorSlow 7:55 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny said: "If you are going to (basically) have a PPP theme with four grid-spanners, maybe avoid clogging up the rest of the grid with additional trivia." Really sums it up for me. I needed EONLINE to have fun with this, and I don't even know what EONLINE is. Funny that Rex thought the name LESLEA was an easy get; hands up if you've ever seen the name "Leslie" spelled that way. Yeah, thought so.

The one thing I liked: ONTILT. Never heard this phrase, so spent some time with Prof. Google and learned a lot about this emotional state, which can screw up not only your poker game but also your life. And it's likely that the term came originally from pinball. Or Don Quixote.

Lewis 7:56 AM  

I’m guessing that there are many solvers who fill in the last square, check off the puzzle as “done!”, and continue with the day. That is a lovely option. But whenever I can, I go for dessert, just scanning the grid post-solve for a few moments, finding things that trip off reactions and finding connections that kindle my sense of beauty. It adds a layer of enjoyment before I bid the puzzle adieu.

Today, for instance:

• ICE UP reminded me of the time I was driving very slowly on an icy road, and I braked because the car in front of me had stopped – but my car slid on anyway, and I ended up tapping that car. No damage, but the feeling of helplessness as I slid was unforgettable. Haven’t thought about this in years, and suddenly this puzzle revived the moment.
• Sweet to see neighboring palindromes (EKE and SOLOS).
• Loved the trochaic pentameter A-train of OSSA / ANYA / SEEYA / ALMA / TIA.
• Loved the cross of EL MISTI and WAFTS, because “misty” and “wafts” puts me in a dreamy mood.
• So many double letters – 20! That would normally count as “unusually high” by your alphadoppeltotter’s scale, but not today, as this is an extra wide puzzle.
• Loved how the puzzle ends with SEE YA.

So, thank you, Joe for a fun and satisfying solve, plus these extra sparks. Loved it!

Aaron 8:07 AM  

Please, stop making puzzles that are just a trivia contest of names and places. Good lord, give me some interesting clues not just "[Last name] of [Art form] fame" or "[Location] in [Place.]" It's dull and tedious to go through a puzzle that's no better than a middling pub quiz.

mmorgan 8:10 AM  

Easy bottom, hard top. Much obscure (to me) stuff I didn’t know. The crossing on MOILS and ON TILT did me in, as I had no clue about either one. MOILS?!? Well, I guess I learned a word. Interesting, Merriam-Webster says “Moil may mean ‘to work hard’ but its origins are the opposite of hard; it ultimately derives from Latin mollis, meaning ‘soft’”. I’m gonna go MOIL for a while now.

Weezie 8:15 AM  

I think I might have tolerated this puzzle a bit more had yesterday’s not been such an absolute delight and clever as hell. Agree with Rex and most of you, and not just because I, like @TTrimble, managed to totally forget about THESOCIALNETWORK & JT. Felt deeply annoyed by all the largely trivial crosses up there, and I typically love trivia! (For the record, I do still appreciate having learned about the volcano and the poem and the diamond mine.) For a while was panicking about a major DNF til I got to the bottom and JAGGED LITTLE PILL.

Another hand raised for trying to shoehorn in CRUNCHY over CHUNKY. Also had OIL UP instead of ICE UP for a while, despite having spent much of yesterday monitoring and then tending to the results of a wintry mix followed by temperature fluctuations here on the mountaintop.

Feeling some deep and probably disproportionate loathing for the TRY repeat. A big part of my work as a non-profit fundraiser is writing copy and a pet peeve is repetition, even when there aren’t many synonyms to reach for. It just feels lazy and unnecessary. Strongly agree with Rex that if you’re going to repeat like this you need to *really* earn it, and these were banal clues. TRY harder.

Finished within seconds of my average Friday time in the end, but it felt like much longer. Ah well, they can’t all be magnificent.

Dr.A 8:17 AM  

I did it, but It wasn’t pleasant, LOL. Iotas really tripped me up. Thanks for explaining it.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Anyone else try ChEAp ALE first?
After John CIARDI came up in the puzzle a while back, I picked up a secondhand copy of his amazing book “How a Poem Means.” In the wee insomniac hours this morning I was reading the part where Ciardi points out how Burns wrote great poetry in Scottish dialect but just so-so stuff in standard English. And here’s a bit of the great stuff in our puzzle this morning.

GAC 8:33 AM  

Not an easy puzzle for me. DNF. But enjoyed it anyway. Did not notice the duplicates that are pointed out by Rex. Was not horrified to learn of them. Rex's horror seems artificial.

Kent 8:37 AM  

To a Louse and To a Mouse once Naticked me so hard, because I knew the latter well and had no memory of the former.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Felt Natick-ed on Ricky/Rocky El Misti/El Mosti, woefully unfamiliar with both of these...

pabloinnh 8:56 AM  

OFL-"you can dupe little words like prepositions and articles and prepositions..." . QED.

I liked this one a lot, mainly because it was exactly in my trivia wheelhouse, from CNTOWER to ELMISTI to the Burns poem to memories of drinking lots of Gnessee CREAMALE, which actually isn't too bad for the price.

Fastest Friday in forever, and that doesn't hurt once in a while. Looking for a more challenging Saturday, but today's was Just Dandy. Thanks for all the fun, JD..

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

No love for Genesee Brewery?

Anonymous 9:00 AM  


andrew 9:00 AM  

The experience was neither smooth nor crunchy (I wince when I see that adjective applied to crosswords. Reminds me of trying too hard to make “that is so FETCH” a thing).

For those in RexWorld who haven’t seen Mean Girls

CHUNKY is closer - CLUNKY would have been apt for this jagged little puzzle…

Johnny Laguna 9:11 AM  

Huh, also wrote in CREAMY first in 2D ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But yeah, pretty dreadful puzzling this morning…

Nancy 9:19 AM  

There exists a large universe of pop culture people who I only know from what Lewis lovingly calls "Crosslandia". Some I wouldn't recognize if I fell over them (ALANIS MORISETTE, for example) and some might look vaguely familiar -- though I wouldn't quite be able to place them (JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE). I might have seen their movies (JUSTIN) even though I don't remember that they were in them and I might never have heard their songs, not even once (ALANIS). There are many such people and, alas, there are many -- oh so many! -- such puzzles.

But Crosslandia doesn't only exist to make the Nancys of this world happy. Yesterday, the puzzle made me very, very happy while, at the same time, it made a lot of people who hate Thursday-type trickery very UNhappy. Today's puzzle made all the pop culture lovers very happy and it made me fairly unhappy. Not very unhappy, mind you -- I solved it after all, with letter pattern recognition coming in very handy -- but it was decidedly not a "Nancy puzzle". And if I suffered, never completely unwelcome on a Friday, it was the wrong kind of suffering. The kind of suffering I plain don't enjoy.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Amy: like this more than most. Jagged Little Pill was recently developed as a Broadway show. LESLEA is from Northampton, where I lived for a time. Every time I thought I was stumped, I wasn't, so some of the cluing was probably < usual Friday but am not complaining. TGIF

TJS 9:22 AM  

total garbage. finished the top and said thats enough

Leslie 9:24 AM  

Wouldn't have known MOIL except for: Robert Service, "The Cremation of Sam McGee"--"There are strange things done in the midnight sun/By the men who MOIL for gold." This was one of the poems my father-in-law liked. the puzzle was both annoying (the dupes, the PPP) and a bit fun ("TO A MOUSE").

KB 9:25 AM  

For me it's pretty simple - if I can gold-star a Friday or Saturday puzzle, I like it. I did so I do. Yes, it's all about me.

Loved the Keats answer and clue.

Barbara S. 9:28 AM  

When I hit the clues for 15A and 18A, I had to do a day-of-the-week reality check. But yes, it really is Friday. This was not my favorite puzzle but I don’t dislike it as much as some. It kept me entertained while I was solving, and I was amused by the Canadian content: ALANIS MORISSETTE and her JAGGED LITTLE PILL and the CN TOWER. And, just by the way, the CN TOWER used to be the tallest freestanding structure in the world until it was overtaken by Dubai's Burj Khalifa. Boo! (Although, in fact, I don’t care a bit.) I’ve been to the top of the CN TOWER with a friend who was visiting from Berlin. It has those glass floor panels on which you can stand, look down to the ground (which appears to be about 2 miles away), and contemplate mortality. I did that, but my friend wouldn’t. I didn’t feel remotely nervous, though. The glass is thick and the presence of chattering tourists all around you tends to banish any thoughts more serious than “Hey, do they sell food up here?”

ALANIS, the “Queen of Alt-Rock Angst,” according to Rolling Stone, used to have a much different vibe. Here she is as a teenager, all perky and bouncy and dance-y. I presume that wasn’t her authentic self and, with JAGGED LITTLE PILL, she changed her style and her look and her music to reflect who she truly is. The alternative is that the drastic change was a marketing ploy to put her on the world stage, but that’s just too cynical to contemplate.

Anyway, the puzzle. I had some trouble getting a toehold at the beginning but I didn’t run into much resistance after that. I knew RICKY Skaggs, MAE Jemison, the FONZ (although I was unfamiliar with “jumping the shark”), SYD Barrett, LIANE Moriarty, ANYA Taylor-Joy, Bob FOSSE and I knew that LESLEA Newman had some sort of spelling wrinkle in her name – I think she’s been in puzzles at least once before. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we see MAE Jemison, ANYA Taylor-Joy and SYD Barrett a lot: they’re among the crossword’s go-to people for those particular first names. Loved HOOLIGAN, EL MISTI, Robert Burns, EEK and EKE (especially in relation to MOUSE). Wasn’t bothered by duplication there or elsewhere. Keep wanting to pronounce NICETRY as if it was NICETY with an R.


1. What my aunt does every spring to encourage her blue-flags to proliferate.
2. A certain American lager with the addition of chocolate chips.
3. Roughneck bruiser after a day at the spa.
4. Buried instinctual impulses that come to the fore at the top of Toronto’s tallest building.
5. Ph.D. defenses.
6. Encouragement for a small rodent to go out, be brilliant and set the world on fire!


[SB: yd, -1. Missed this head-scratcher. I wonder if my fellow-Bee-ers knew it.]

RooMonster 9:33 AM  

Hey All !
I love Rex Rants about stuff I didn't even notice. Sure, dupe TRYs isn't optimal, but with this much open space, sometimes you've got to cut a little slack. We can make up a pronunciation for NICETRY as one word - NY-(Schwa)-TREE - "Doing a good deed". Eh, eh?

Anyway, nice puz, saw the 16 wideness immediately. Sometimes grids are extra wide/long for no reason, but this one has 4(!) 16 grid spanners (stacked, no less!), so all is good.

Tough to get clean fill with this much white space, so slack allowed on CNTOWER (an interesting fact on something WOE-y) and CNBC. Like I said earlier, no EEK on the TRYs.

Wanted to right in HOONIGAN for HOOLIGAN. Rest in peace, my man.

Re: The FONZ, he played the typical tough guy, always feared by everyone, but you never see him in a fight. In one episode, he got thrown out a window by some other guy, he comes back in, with everyone expecting a brawl, he talks to the guy, and they leave friends. C'mon man,. Sometimes one episode of a show ruins the entire series. Another case: on one Gilligan's Island episode, the professor makes a car out of trees on the island. A car. And you can't figure out how to fix a hole in your boat?

Sorry, digression over. 😁

Happy Friday!

Three F's

jberg 9:37 AM  

What a slog! I guess, in the end, I enjoyed the challenge, but along the way. It's like my granddaughter, who is really into ballet. She hurt her ankle, and after lots of rest and ice decided she needs surgery. She was really glad when it was scheduled; but when I asked her last night she explained that she didn't want to HAVE surgery, she wanted to HAVE HAD surgery and be recovered. That's my feeling about this puzzle; I was glad to finish it, but wasn't so glad along the way. Pure MOIL.

Also, I cheated. MAE Jemison was one of the few names I knew for sure; and with FON for the crosses, it had to be FONZ. So I put in SlEEZY at 14-d. That WORl ending wasn't going to work and anyway I was pretty sure the word was sleazy. So I typed SKEE into, which immediately suggested SKEEvY. Try as I might, I couldn't make myself believe iin FONv, so I typed in SKEEZY, the definition of which is: skeevy!

"Sports sticker" is a stretch -- if you use an EPEE for sport, it's got a knob at the end so that you can't actually stick anyone with it. But it's a crossword cliche, I guess.

That's all for today; I'm waiting for the drain people to come and get the groundwater out of my basement.

jberg 9:39 AM  

Forgot to say -- it's not just that IOTAS are letters in the Greek alphabet, but that they are letters in "Iliad" -- the plural gives away which characters are meant.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Took “order” to be part of KPCOFGS when I had “ _enus” so filled in “genus” and never heard of “Jagged Little Pill” so put in “Ragged” and took a DNF. NBARag?
Got through college 50 years ago on Jenny (as it’s known locally) Cream Ale. Drink it once a year now for nostalgia.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Totally agree with Rex about the "try" dupe. A puzzle with such an obvious duplication should not have slipped through the cracks of the NY Times editing team. I also had a slight issue with "Fonz" as an answer. I always think of Henry Winkler's iconic character as "THE Fonz" or "Fonzie"

Ride the Reading 9:57 AM  

Another vote for too easy for a Friday. Time about half of average for a Friday. Oh, well.

Also had SKEEVY before SKEEZY. Thank you, Steely Dan, on "Cousin Dupree." (Maybe it's the skeevy look in your eye...) Slowed for a few seconds by the bottom spanners. Had NBA___ for 41 Down, then realized JAM, which led to JAGGED.

Agree about The Fonz or Fonzie, but not FONZ.

Here's hoping for a tougher Saturday.

Liveprof 9:59 AM  

I got a chuckle out of MOILS when I thought of it as a verb form of MOHEL. A mohel is the person who performs a circumcision (or bris) and it's often pronounced "moyle." But it hasn't made the journey to verbhood yet, so you would not say "Rabbi Cohen moiled my new grandson last week." It would save you one syllable from "circumcised," but I guess we're not that lazy (yet).

I had the pleasure and honor of attending my new grandson's bris in Michigan back around Thanksgiving, 2021. Only the immediate family was invited due to Covid, but others could attend via zoom. The mohel was terrific and the ceremony was beautiful (except for my grandson, obviously).

I started wearing suspenders a few years ago -- not as a fashion statement -- to keep my pants from falling down. And a friend who was attending the bris via zoom mentioned to me that he noticed that I was wearing suspenders and was also wearing a belt. I said "that was one ceremony where I really didn't want my pants falling down."

Tom T 10:06 AM  

"I have been toiling and MOILing for the prettiest piece of China..."
(Lady Fidget, in William Wycherly's The Country Wife--1675)

The PhD. in Theatre History finally pays off! The Country Wife is considered one of the best (perhaps the best) of the English Restoration comedies, and the scene from which that "toiling and MOILing" quote is drawn features a delightful run of sexual double entendre. The central male character, aptly named Jack HORNer, circulates a rumor that he is impotent, so that all the stuffy old gents in town will feel safe leaving their lovely young wives alone with him. The "prettiest piece of china" to which Lady Fidget refers is, in fact, an assignation with Mr. Horner. Although this seems clearly not in line with MeToo and other current sexual mores, the women in The Country Wife are the stronger characters and their men are fools.

I'll cease my bloviating now.

All that time listening to On Broadway on Sirius XM radio delivered JAGGED LITTLE PILL quickly.

Finished in faster time than most Fridays and, now that I know it was a larger than usual grid, I'll join Rex in rating it easy (for me).

puzzlehoarder 10:07 AM  

This was a mixed bag thanks to the EONLONE section. That one section alone required more time to smoke out than the rest of the puzzle. Granted the rest of the puzzle was easy but my time just goes to show how much difficulty that one section gave me. LIANE and ANYA were unknowns. I couldn't be sure if SPILT was a legitimate word and I gave the EONLINE clue a poor reading. I was trying to think of where the gossip business gets their sources. My OILUP/ICEUP write over didn't help either to say nothing of my lack of German and questioning if the TRY/TRY duplication was a deal killer or not.

After much deliberation I smoked it out correctly but it was one of those solves I couldn't be 100% sure of.

MOIL is an SB classic speaking of which.....

Sat PG -2, Sun-Thu -0

Trina 10:09 AM  

@jberg - good catch!

@lms - I’m relatively new here but I always look for your delightful write ups. Sorry that you moil without joy during the day, but you bring joy here.

Bob Mills 10:09 AM  

I finished it without cheating, but didn't enjoy the solve. All the long clues had to do with late 20th-century entertainers, which was a handicap for an 81-year-old guy like me.

Also, I think "Characters in the Iliad" is a horrible clue for IOTAS (unless I'm missing something). And SPILT isn't really a word, is it?
A number of the clues and answers seemed forced to me.

Gary Jugert 10:15 AM  

To a Mouse
On Turning her up in her Nest, with the Plough, November 1785.

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
’S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss ’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Whatsername 10:16 AM  

I found this tough going even for a Friday and the amount of trivia excessive for any day of the week. It’s expected of course but this level – 40% by my calculations – really takes the fun out of solving. If you’re going to use proper names for your primo entries, then tone it down a little in the fill. Or in this case tone it down a good bit. That’s all I’m saying.

A couple of non-propers that gave me fits were SKEEZY (SLEAZY) and MOILS. Not familiar with the word as clued but just the other day watched a Seinfeld rerun about it. Eeww!

Weeezie 10:22 AM  

Don’t cry over SPILT milk! πŸ™ƒ

J.W. 10:22 AM  

This was a real wet fart of a puzzle. In addition to the repeats πŸ¦– pointed out, there's the homophonic redundancy of EEK and EKE. I consider Jesse Eisenberg more of an apropos pairing with The Social Network than Justin Timberlake, not to mention crossword-friendlier. Felt a lot harder than it was—still not sure how I finished it in just over 10 minutes. Sloppy and not much fun.

Weezie 10:28 AM  

@LiveProf I’m glad I’m not the only one that had that thought about MOILS!

Nancy 10:29 AM  

Some uniclues:

1) They never think for themselves, do they?!
2) That Pink Floyd guy better not bungee jump!
3) What's tanked since Tom Cotton was elected
4 I pulled a groin muscle, so never again!


pmdm 10:34 AM  

Too much PPP for me to give the puzzle a pass. That means I did not like it. But in a more philosophical way than others here (if that's the proper way to put it).

So here's a few random comments.

One expects some puzzle to result in strong emotions. Today was one of them. While some had a middling response to this puzzle, a lot loved or hated it. Interesting.

With the NYT expansion of its puzzle section, the paper also expanded the number of crossword editors. And apparently they have changed how puzzles are approved a bit (not really how but more why some puzzles are accepted and others rejected. So I am not sure how much Shortz should be blamed for the crosswords anymore.

I have said it before and it bears repeating. As long as the puzzles are money makers for the paper, the enterprise is successful based upon economic reality. And to maintain that, puzzle need to be accepted that some will hate and some will love. Maybe some of the complaints voiced here can be characterized as merely ego trips, but they certainly reflect real reactions to the puzzles. Perhaps we should downplay our justifications more. But who cares? The comments are quite enjoyable to read.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

puzzle gets a pass solely because of Genny Cream Ale being on it

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

Well @Rex had SKEEVY and I had SKANKY. SKEEZY wins for being more repulsive. The end.
Oh wait..there's more: I'm still drooling over yesterdays marvel...Today, the MENU shifted; no WAFTS of periodic deliciousness...just things like trying to figure out what CREAM ALE could possibly taste like.
I took pause to reflect on EL MISTI. Did you know that the locals call it Guagua Putina? When a Peruvian toddler wants water, she says "PAPI, can I have some Guagua?" Can you tell that I have nothing interesting to say?
Well...let me just say this because it's still too early to walk the pups....I'm sure Joe D had fun coming up with JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE and his SOCIAL NETWORK. ALANIS probably has some serious issues with her JAGGED LITTLE PILL and now I'm supposed to know that. I didn't.... I had to hope that all the downs would help me figure out if I should care or even remember. I don't.
There were two entries I liked: TO A LOUSY MOUSE and HOOLIGAN.
NBA JAM....seriously?

Gary Jugert 10:36 AM  

Isn't fame fascinating? I didn't participate in the '90s as I was busy trying not to starve and I didn't see the movie or listen to the album yet I wrote all four long answers with only a few crosses. And as always (you suspicious weekend puzzle lovers) once the long stuff goes in the puzzle is done.

It was a fine Friday as far as it goes. SEE YA stumped me since I felt certain it would be a foreign phrase. Just now learning about the CN TOWER and its beautiful.

I think FONZ requires "The" in front of it by order of Congress.


1 Barrett stinking in his coffin.
2 Sits bedside and promises to see them in the spring.
3 Be pretty and say, "No comment."
4 Painted groovy in England, for short.
5 Your beer with a hair in it.
6 Sat with four fouls in the second quarter.
7 The tiresome programming of every political talk show selling you Viagra and nursing home insurance.
8 Lava explosion survivor taunt.
9 Halloweens.
10 Based on reading scores, best thing to get out of for your childrens' futures.


albatross shell 10:38 AM  

@random thoughts
Late yesterday.
All-time go-between is THE because of "all THE time".

@Bob Mills
Two I's or IOTAS in IlIad. Beyond that you are not missing much.
But SPILT milk is not worth crying over.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Can someone tell me why the answer to “…90” in today’s Mini is “colon.”

Gary Jugert 10:42 AM  

@Barbara S. 9:28 AM
Oh gosh, I don't know what goes on in that Toronto tower, but I am really hoping it's not this! Leave your id on the ground floor for safety sake.

Whatsername 10:54 AM  

@LMS: Your Mom and I would get along great as I’m also partial to the whites, especially those two. And I’d certainly never turn down a nice glass of ASTI Spumante either. Oh who am I kidding? Just give me the large bottle with the screw top and a plastic cup. And turn on the TV please.

@Southside Johnny: Multiple posters with a similar complaint (including me), but you said it best.

@Trina, relatively new here: Welcome!

Gary Jugert 10:57 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith 6:21 AM
Pooligans are why I'm glad I'm allergic to chlorine.

bocamp 10:58 AM  

Thx, Joe; CHEERS! :)


Dnf (two days in a row).

Wrong guess at the IRL / LESLEA cross (thot IRt: in real time)

Otherwise, a fairly smooth solve (a tad under avg time).

Got THE SOCIAL NETWORK teed up for viewing later today.

Enjoyed the trip. :)

@Shecky Wormwood - yw 😊
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

mathgent 11:05 AM  

I liked it a lot. Terrific sparkle -- 20 red plus signs in the margins. Like IOTAS (two of them in ILIAD -- Greek word play), remembering THESOCIALNETWORK (that wonderful Sorkin movie), learning another texting abbreviation (IRL), "Go for a lap?", learning where our diamond mine is, SKEEZY, CNTOWER, HOOLIGAN, deducing JAGGEDLITTLEPILL from the crosses -- hadn't heard of it.

What I don't need in life, more annoying things. Like seeing a little common word like TRY being in the grid twice. Didn't even notice.

Very professional puzzle. Besides the sparkle, smart and junk-free.

Newboy 11:07 AM  

Roil + MOIL = toil

Which was today’s experience. Kept waiting for McBeth’s three witches to appear, but all I got was teen angst.

jae 11:10 AM  

Easy-medium. Knowing the paired 16s was helpful. TRYing to fit CrUNchy in where CHUNKY belonged was not. Also, it took a while to get LASSES because I was working on the other definition of Misses. The TRY dupe made me wince.
A tad heavy on the trivia, but I liked it more than @Rex did.

johnk 11:14 AM  

IRL crossing LESLEA? EEK! Two that I'll never remember - not even if they appear again tomorrow.
IRL. What could it stand for? It's Real LOUSY? I Remember Little? I'd Rather Leave? Aha - I've got it: IGNITE REALTY LESLEA (but not over the internet).

Camilita 11:17 AM  

I had a hard time with this, it took twice my average. I wonder if a puzzle rated EASY takes twice as long, is that a sign like a high resting heartrate that you're over worked and over-stressed and coming down with something?

Finally my SUNY Albany education came in handy. We spent many nights, when we weren't drinking $5 Gallon bottles of Carlo Rossi, drinking Genny Cream. Carlo and Genny were our best friends.

I saw Order and put GENUS which fit.
King Phillip Came Over From Greenland? Why not, Greenland is below Over so "comes from?" of those things from thinking fast and dumb. MENUS? Easy clue!
The NBA JAM was last to go in, because I had NBA JAG from the G in Genus and finally asked my son.

Phil Martelli 11:18 AM  

Like poster number one, I enjoyed the memory of the St. Joe’s Hawk’s wing waving act. I recall one game where he got into an actual fight with the other team’s mascot and kept furiously flapping his wings during the whole brouhaha. Only in Philadelphia,

Newboy 11:18 AM  

Today’s grid was a JAGGED LITTLE PILL, but Friday morning was again saved by @Lewis’s insight and @LMS humor. Just had to pop back to give credit where due🍷

pmdm 11:25 AM  

Whatsername: Perhaps you would like to vacation by Lake Seneca where you could purchase Best Western Spumante. Better yet, ship a case home.

The region is Asti but the sparkling wine is Spumante. Yes, you can get cheaper, especially if you buy at places like Walmarts, but if $10/750 ml is OK with you, try tasting a little.

Sir Hillary 11:29 AM  

Not really a fan of this one. I don't have a big problem with the quasi-themers, but for sure they are without rhyme or reason. The dupes of TRY and SEE are egregious -- I'm totally with Rex on that.

Random observations:
-- JUSTINTIMBERLAKE is one of the best things about THESOCIALNETWORK. He just oozes charisma.
-- Few albums place me in a specific time like JAGGEDLITTLEPILL places me in the mid-90s. In the media I consumed back then, it was beyond ubiquitous.
-- Going to college in upstate NY, I know Genny CREAMALE all too well. It's been 35 years since I had one; no plans to have one ever again.
-- Liked the ARKANSAS diamond mine trivia tidbit.
-- I love Phil Martelli and miss him as a head coach. His STJOES Hawks were a blast back in 2004, when Jameer Nelson and Delonte West led them into the NCAA tournament with zero losses. Alas, they were defeated by Oklahoma State in the Elite 8. Juwan Howard is smart to have him on staff at UM.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Thank you for pointing out the Fonzie nit. That was as egregious as the dupes for me.

Joe Dipinto 11:30 AM  

They can't even get the details right on their barrage of trivia. Yes, FONZ should have [, with "The"] appended to the clue. He was Arthur Fonzarelli aka Fonzie aka THE FONZ. Richie may have casually addressed him as "Fonz" once in a while, but that's not what the character was known as.

Other observations:
• Sleazy and Skeevy had a baby! Congratulations to them on the birth of little SKEEZY!
• Aren't ALMA, ANYA and OSSA the sisters in Chekhov's "Three Sisters"?

Shandra Dykman 11:35 AM  

I’ve been listening to so much Andy Schauf lately! He has a new album coming too. Hooray!

Gabriel Mann 11:38 AM  

I thought it was a great Tuesday puzzle.

Snarky Guy 11:48 AM  

Today's puzzle was almost as bad as the uni-clue fad. HAR!

Gary Jugert 11:50 AM  

@Nancy 10:29 AM
#4! Over at the gym, they have a machine called an adductor/abductor machine. It's a loin press. I try it four times a week and it's brutal. You only move the weight about 3 inches, but you're almost certain you've broken your "id" when you're done.

Smith 11:56 AM  

@Rex, thx for the link to To A Louse!! My grandmother used a clipping service and the clippings came with these lines underneath:

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!

which I was aware was Burns, but not which poem. Pretty clever on the part of the clipping service (and since I doubt they still exist, a clipping service read the papers for mention of your name and sent you the article clipped out of the paper; said grandmother was a UES denizen, society person and an author).

Didn't love the puzzle. The long ones gave too much away once you got them. I would not have known JAGGED except that there is a play (musical?) by that name.

Saw that the movie actor had to be a JUSTIN, next letter a T, and I'm thinking, I didn’t know JUSTIN Townes Earle was also an actor and it looks like they dropped the last E, but of course it didn't work out. I wouldn't know the correct JUSTIN if he parked right next to me (it's La Jolla, stuff happens).

Oh, and it was a DNF due to SPot (this couch is my SPot in this room) where SPEC belonged. OLMISTI sounds OK, and I don't have/watch regular TV (streaming only) so there could be a tNBC, why not?

Better puzzle tomorrow?

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Awful hard solvequest, at our house. Awful. Hard.
No-knows included: All Timberlake flicks. All Morissette albums. EONLINE. IRL. RICKY. MAE. LIANE. ANYA. NBAJAM game. MOILS. ELMISTI. LESLEA. SKEEZY. "Squawk on the Street". Awful long list. Awful. Long.

faves: CHUNKY. HOOLIGAN. The IOTAS clue.
staff weeject pick: IRL. Evidently = In Real Life. Better clue: {Girl, interrupted at the git-go??}.

Is this a themed FriPuz? Or a theme-ish FriPuz? I vote just awful weird FriPuz. I strongly agree with myself on this.

Thanx, Mr. Deeney dude. And congratz to Skeezy, on its fine debut.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

U want awful & weird? stay tuned:

David Eisner 12:10 PM  

I might be the only one, but I found it interesting that yesterday's puzzle and today's both had SYD in basically the same place (clued yesterday as the 2000 Olympics mascot).

Ellen 12:11 PM  

Is "much much vaguer" acceptable these days. My profs would take off points for that phrasing.

Liked both of the spanners!

Masked and Anonymous 12:18 PM  

As my old college roommate woulda said, followin up on my FriPuz struggles today, "Har! You suffered! That's good for you!"
Sooo … there's that.

Also, I recalled another no-know: ONTILT.

Hey, Mr. Deeney … At least it was different, and M&A always kinda admires different. Sooo … ok.


CDilly52 12:19 PM  

Wow! Tryouts for the St. Joe’s mascot must be tough! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Smith 12:25 PM  

+1 for gENUS before MENUS!

CDilly52 12:26 PM  

Utterly out of my wheelhouse on the names and both lengthy pairs. I figured them out only through the crosses. Knew JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE fairly quickly since he was quite the heartthrob for my daughter’s generation. Have heard of ALANIS MORISSETTE from crosswords but totally u familiar with her work. The remaining names were very challenging. I applaud Joe Deeny fir his care in making this a fair fight.

Barbara S. 12:37 PM  

@Nancy (10:29) and @Gary Jugert (10:36)
Loved your vastly different takes on SYD (and @Gary, ewww!). I tried to do something with aftershave, but I just couldn't pull it off. I know that adductor/abductor machine well. I used to use it before I switched to free weights. My groin muscles always tried to tell me afterwards, "Look. We're not actually supposed to be used."

egsforbreakfast 12:47 PM  

I love elms. I just love, love, love elms. I’m so much of an ELMISTI just don’t know where to stop.

Is a man who is a milksop a CREAMALE? Might as well call him Jenny.

I think ARKANSAS SKEEZY might have been used as a descriptor a time or two back in the Whitewater days.

It just occurred to me that Harry’s book, Spare, employs the ROIL we.

I liked the puzzle a good bit, even though I arched an eyebrow at ITRY/NICETRY. Thanks, Joe Deeney.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

Haven't read all the comments, so apologies if anyone already said this, but 'hooligan' isn't of Irish origin but Hindi

Carola 1:09 PM  

Challenging. As I was TRYing to solve this one, I wondered what @Rex might say about his Friday "whoosh" through the grid. It certainly wasn't there for me. Eventually got it all, thanks to pattern recognition in the four long answers and dogged chipping away at the rest. Moment of pleasure: the MOUSE - LOUSY cross. Moment of satisfaction: understanding what the Iliad clue was looking for. Moment of enlightenment: learning what MOIL means - I'd thought it referred to the turbulence of battle in medieval warfare - the "moil" of clashing swords and broad axes.

Do-over: ROut before ROIL. Help from previous puzzles: EL MISTI, MAE, EONLINE, CNTOWER. No idea: ST JOES, LESLEA, LIANE, JAGGED LITTLE PILL.

@Leslie and @Tom T - Thank you for the MOIL references! @Tom T - Lucky you, getting to hang around with Wycherly, Sheridan, Farquhar! I love Restoration comedies, but the chance to see them? Rare as hen's teeth.

@Barbara S. - Your uniclue 5 made me laugh, now that the event is 40+ years in the past. The low point of the defense was when, having been challenged on a crucial point, I began, "I tried to show..." and was interrupted by, "I know you tried, dear." (I did pass.)

@Loren - I appreciate your salute to Burns in your sign-off and will only add "Ain't that the truth."

Joe Dipinto 1:09 PM  

JAGGED LITTLE PILL brings to mind the hit single "Ironic", whose lyrics try to pass of a bunch of things as being "ironic" when they're really just rueful coincidences, such as dying right after you win the lottery at age 98; rain on your wedding day; getting stuck in traffic when you're late; etc.

Though M-W claims that these types of things qualify as "situational irony" and reflect a new application of the word.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

Har, reading @LMS, I saw her mention MENUS. MENUS? I didn't see MENUS in the grid. I did a Ctrl-F at xwordinfo and found it at 60A where I had put in gENUS, as in species, family, "orders". Good grief, I'm an idiot. I did think the clue didn't really fit - does that make it any better? :-) (NBA JAM, NBAJAg, sure, why not?)

And I was ON TILT with the whole upper area. I have no interest in ever seeing THE SOCIAL NETWORK and JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE isn't really on my radar as an actor (or singer for that matter) so I needed all the crosses for a good portion of the grid.

I was trying to confirm that SCRAM was good at 1A. 2D, I could only think of the word CrUNchY, which didn't fit. ClUmpY? I actually got JUSTIN in place before I could think of CHUNKY.

Joe Deeney, you provided me with a challenging Friday, thanks.

old timer 1:14 PM  

Technical DNF here. I figured "gENUS" was a source of Orders, which it is, in a sense, and NBA JAg was, for all I know, a correct cross. MENUS is of course better, but I just didn't see it.

I liked the puzzle a lot. A little Easy for a Friday, but only because ALANIS MORISSETTE leapt to mind so quickly. And I remembered that her LITTLE PILL was JAGGED, not rAGGED.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith - ending with a quote from “To a Mouse”. Well done

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

To Anonymous asking about the Mini, the clue was “..” turned 90 degrees. The two dots are turned vertical, going from “..” to “:”, hence, a COLON.

Anoa Bob 1:38 PM  

I play in a regular Thursday night into Friday morning poker game and always look forward to solving the Friday NYTXW afterwards. I was in a good mood after last night's game but when I opened this trivia fest, it was instant buzz kill. I never do well with pop culture stuff and this one was loaded with it. I tried trying to piece this one together, but my try was a try or two or three tries too short and it became a joyless slog. Wound up with a DNF but IDC (I didn't care).

I did manage to EKE out some entertainment here and there. I'm a big fan so knew it was RICKY "Skaggs of bluegrass fame" (20A). He can even make bluegrass sound great on a New York City subway. (Looks like former NYC mayor Ed Koch is also a fan.) Check it out here.

I know all too well how being ON TILT, "Frustrated and betting emotionally, in poker lingo" (19A), can be disastrous. Definitely been there, done that and watched my chip stack shrink or disappear.

I nodded in agreement with @TaylorSlow's comment that the phrase comes from old school pinball machines. A player could influence the path of the pinball ever so slightly by timely nudging and bumping of the machine but if it became too vigorous, the machine would suddenly display TILT!, shut down and the game would be over. Been there and done that.

We see EON in xwords all the time but what on earth is an EON LINE (38A)?

okanaganer 1:43 PM  

I visited the CN TOWER 30 years ago and, like Barbara S, was astonished how high it was. I just went thru my photos and you would swear they were taken from an airplane. 30 storey buildings look small, far far below. There is a small pod above the main one which has quite the view.

Typeovers: hands up for orders coming from GENUS. Also had TO A LOUSE crossing LAE. But most embarrassing of all was RAGGED LITTLE PILL crossing NBA RAM! Never noticed that RAGGED and JAGGED are so similar.

[Spelling Bee: yd -2; missed Barbara S's 8er (never heard of it!) plus this 5er which I have seen, but only in SB.]

DAVE 1:44 PM  

I thought this puzzle was a masterpiece. Stacking a work on top of an artist is impressive once. But twice in the same puzzle? Very nice. Who cares if the word "TRY" appears twice (in two different contexts)? It's not like the grid contained two 3-letter answers that were TRY. I'm glad the editors aren't so rigid that they would reject a great puzzle because of an arbitrary rule made up by the crossword grammar police.

@pabloinnh (8:43)
Your QED comment was very funny! To quote Alanis, "Isn't it Ironic?"

Grouch 1:45 PM  

Never heard of THESOCIALNETWORK or JAGGEDLITTLEPILL. The 2 names I am aware of but could not name a single opus of either one. When 4 spanners depend on trivia answers, it's not a good puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 2:01 PM  

@me 1:09– Did you mean "...pass off a bunch of things..."?
Me– why yes, I did.

Nancy 3:06 PM  

OMG -- @Teedmn and @old timer -- I had gENUS too and never once questioned it. That's the problem with this blog. Without this blog you could go to your grave completely unaware of such DNFs as gENUS/NBAJAg. And why isn't NBAJAG just as good an arcade game as NBAJAM, btw?

@Barbara and @Gary -- No wonder I came up with that 4th uniclue! An abductor machine!!!! Yes, I think that's what my PT, Scott, said it was called. It's one of the bleepin' torture machines he has been inflicting on me recently -- beginning about two months ago. If memory serves, I think it's the worst off all of them. Though they're all pretty bad. I have avoided gyms all my life -- adore sports, detest working out -- but then Scott read this @%$#@ NYT article saying that old people who work out live longer, and life at Pro Fitness Physical Therapy hasn't been the same since. Sigh.

One other uniclue observation from today's collected offerings. Poor Syd.

@kitshef -- I'm not familiar with any of the novels you've been disappointed by, but here are two novels I suggest if you haven't already read them..

The Chrichton "Timeline" title you mention makes me think of "Time and Again" by Jack Finney. I read it eons ago, but I absolutely loved it.

More recently, I read "A Gentleman in Moscow" -- thoughtfully sent to me by our very own @mathgent. I shut my door and didn't talk to anyone for days. I found it absolutely riveting and marvelously well-written.

kitshef 4:15 PM  

Thank you, @Nancy. I have added them both to my library holds.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

Never heard of this album before. That along with all the proper names made this puzzle a killer.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

I was horrified by Fonz. Everyone my age knows it is either Fonzie or the Fonz. Never Fonz

Barbara S. 5:42 PM  

@Nancy (3:06 PM)
Not just quantity of life but quality can be vastly improved for people who retain their muscle mass, i.e. don't let their muscles atrophy, into older age. We've all known elderly people who were so frail that a breath of wind would blow them over. The best way to avoid that stage or delay it well into your 90s is to challenge your muscles through exercise with weights so they retain their strength to move your limbs and lift your body out of chairs and up the stairs.

-- End of Rant --

TTrimble 6:53 PM  

@Barbara S. 5:42 PM
I consider that extremely important advice.

I took on a weight trainer about 13 years ago and haven't looked back. But I could do more in the way of improving my flexibility and doing more cardio. @Nancy says she doesn't like those machines; I don't like cardio. But I'm taking steps these days to work in more. Just a little at a time.

There's good pain and there's bad pain. If you're a little sore after a workout, that's good: you're probably building up muscle. But bad pain is pain that is demotivating, to the point that you just don't want to put yourself through that over and over. It takes a good trainer to know the right speed to push you, to where you would like to be, and when to back off a bit.

jae 7:04 PM  

@kitshef & Nancy - hand up for A Gentleman in Moscow being a wonderful read. If you haven’t already you should also give Rules of Civility by the same author a look, IMHO it’s as good or better than Gentleman. ...and if you are by chance amenable to reading stuff from the NYT bestseller list, Lessons in Chemistry is a hoot!

Nancy 7:37 PM  

@Barbara and @TTrimble -- Exercise has been a huge part of my life for many, many decades. I was addicted to tennis and played for 56 years, mostly singles Once I stopped working full-time, I was averaging 4-5 days a week and did so for 20 years.

When I couldn't play tennis any more, I was walking between 1 1/2 and 4 miles a day, 7 days a week. For those of you who know NYC, if I had a dentist appt on 60th and Madison, and I live on 94th between Lex and Third, I would go over to Central Park, walk down to 60th, go back to Madison, see the dentist, walk back to Fifth and the park, walk through the park up to 90th, come out of the park and walk back to my apt on 94th between Lex and 3rd. I was still doing that in my late 70s. Of course I didn't do that every day.

I also swam in bad weather when I couldn't walk -- usually 50 minutes of the backstroke and sidestroke without stopping. When there was ice on the ground and I wouldn't go out, I would turn on the stereo and dance. Very fast. For about 20 minutes, non-stop.

It's only been within the last year that, due to a heel problem, I couldn't do much walking at all. Or dancing. My heel seems pretty much completely healed now, but I'm being careful. My PT has said to me that I should not walk long distances two days in a row and that I should ice my heel after doing any extensive walking. I have a dentist appt next week, but I wouldn't attempt that now. Maybe, weather permitting, I can walk one way.

What I'm getting at is that I'm no couch potato and I'm certainly not frail. In a cross-section of American women my age, I'd probably be in at least the 75th percentile as far as fitness goes. Maybe higher. I'm not sure I'd want to compete with the Germans and Austrians though; they're a different breed. All those mountains! But what I'm saying is that I'm really good about cardio; weight training -- not so much. I know it's good for me, but it's boring and it hurts and there are so many more enjoyable ways to stay in shape.

Like most tennis players, I'm a highly competitive person, so after a VERY impressive stint on the treadmill, I turned to my PT, Scott, and asked "How do I compare with your other women patients my age? Are you impressed by what I just did?" I was fishing for a compliment, obviously.

Scott's a very funny guy. Without missing a beat and a completely straight face, he replied: "The Hulkette".

OISK 8:01 PM  

Terrible pop-culture overstuffed mess. Never heard of Jagged Little Pill, nor Morissette, stacked one over the other, over "Anya"?? NBA JAM ?? I need to know arcade games? Leslea??? The "L" was a pure guess, since I don't know what IRL means here. E online? Ricky Scaggs? The Social Network? But, like @ Leslie, I did know "Moil" from the Service poem. My error was NBA RAM and Ragged little pill. Should have tried "J", but I was so pop culture fatigued by then. Yesterday's 'Challenging" puzzle was MUCH easier!

TTrimble 8:22 PM  

Clearly, you're a beast! I'm impressed. Any trainer would be lucky to have you as a client.

Made in Japan 8:25 PM  

IRL/LESLEA was a Natick for me. I've never heard of IRL before; Does that mean I spend too much time IRL? Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case; perhaps I should get off my computer now.

Tail End Charlie 8:32 PM  

Hey 2 things importo me, but way down the bottom so no-one will notice (or care!?)
1) Robert Burns quote; 2 days ago (January 25th) was Robert Burns night. Biiig holiday in Scotland and cause for wanton celebration wherever Scots are in the world. Pipers, haggis, poetry, whisky! A great excuse for a party! We only celebrate it when it falls on a Saturday, for obvious reasons.
2) Genessee Cream Ale! Very local beer to Rochester NY. Was just at a wedding in Salem MA last weekend. The night before they served the groom’s favorite beer! Yup the very same Genessee! Then this turns up.

albatross shell 10:11 PM  

Too bad Black Snake MOAN is only 14 letters. Timberlake plays a non-suave role in that. Oh but Samuel L Jackson is a matching 14. As is Christina Ricci. Hey this puzzle 16 wide.

Russ Never Sleeps 10:54 PM  

I am reminded of the episode of Newhart where George (Tom Poston) reunites with his old gang--the "HOOLIGANS"--for a face off with their old rivals the "RUFFIANS", only for both elderly gangs to arrive with newly misprinted jackets reading "HOOLIGALS" and "PUFFIANS" respectively. Otherwise, an unremarkable puzzle.

CWT 11:30 PM  

No: the clue for Arkansas Realty is “trailers for sale”

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

I got stuck on that as well. Also had TOILS crossing SCRAT but went back and forth on the T and M because each resulted in a word that looked wrong

spacecraft 12:24 PM  

Never noticed the TRY or SEE dupes. What I DID notice: EKE (yet again!) plus its homonym! But all these are symptoms of I-don't-give-a-damn-what-I-stick-in-there-ism.

Challenges lie in the peripheral PPPs rather than the marquee gridspanners. In other words, it was a slog. Bogey.

Wordle par.

Diana, LIW 1:16 PM  

Easy? If you know the names.

So...I DNF.

Diana, LIW

Burma Shave 1:20 PM  


and ITRY cannabis by THE BALE,
but when MAE SEESFIT TO TRY A jerk,


this stream of unconsciousness brought to you by THESOCIALNETWORK

rondo 5:20 PM  

Must be difficult to find names and works that not only fit a grid but that can have crosses made on them. Thumb up for that. I noticed the TRYs and SEEs right OFF and also the EEK EKE and EELS and EPEE. Where's the OREO? A MASS in the corners.
Wordle birdie.

Waxy in Montreal 7:50 PM  

Was about to say what a LOUSY puz this was with the multi-dupes and EKE until my OPINION did a 180 when I realized that ALANIS & the CNTOWER represented a mini-Canadian theme. ALMA (a city in Quebec) too! Maybe ICEUP as well, especially at this time of year (but definitely no LEIS).


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