Robe-wearing trainer of cinema / FRI 3-17-17 / Command for turning sharply right / Supermarket chain until 2015 / Recreational soccer to Brits / Fort Civil War landmark near Savannah / Thomas who headed 9/11 commission

Friday, March 17, 2017

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: IN AN "E" (49D: Foolish ... or, when read as three words, how this puzzle's other four "foolish" answers are arranged) — three other answers are each clued [Foolish]; they form a large "E" in the middle of the grid

S I L L Y
E
N
S
E M P T Y
L
E
S
S A P P Y

Word of the Day: Thomas KEAN (54A: Thomas who headed the 9/11 Commission) —
Thomas Howard "Tom" Kean Sr. (/ˈkn/; born April 21, 1935) is an American Republican Party politician, who served as the 48th Governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990. Kean is best known globally, however, for his 2002 appointment as Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, widely known as the 9/11 Commission, which was responsible for investigating the causes of the September 11, 2001 attacks and providing recommendations to prevent future terrorist attacks. He was appointed to this post by U.S. President George W. Bush. Upon the completion of his second term as governor, he served as the president of Drew University for 15 years, until his retirement in 2005. (wikipedia)
• • •

It has its charm, but I really wish it had run on a Thursday. Not really a fan of these half-themes, these coy themes, these "can I be a themeless and a themed puzzle too, please?" themes. In-betweeners. This one feels too thin for a themed puzzle and not wide-open and daring enough to be a themeless. Gets caught in a kind of no man's land. And yet I admire the "E" trick, if only because it somehow works—that is a perfect "E," and the [Foolish] clue works well enough for all of those answers. It's like a mini-theme stuck in between two slices of themeless bread (specifically, the two pairs of 15s in the E and the W). Somehow the 15s all seem both original and boring. Not sure why that is. At least ATTENDANCE SHEET got a somewhat clever clue (2D: Skipping record?).

[man, that 8-note piano loop is, in fact, INANE]

Never heard of Fort MCALLISTER (37A: Fort ___ (Civil War landmark near Savannah)) or Thomas KEAN (54A: Thomas who headed the 9/11 Commission) or GLEN Rock, N.J. (60A: ___ Rock, N.J.), which meant that at times I really felt like I was struggling. But I came in under 6, which is on the fast side for me, for a Friday ... but then this isn't really a *Friday*, as we've established, so I don't know how to rate its difficulty accurately ... except to say it took me 5-something minutes. That's fastish for both Thursday and Friday. Beyond the proper noun problems, I had trouble coming up with "HELL-O!" (needed almost every cross) (1D: When its second syllable is drawn out, "Are you out of your mind?!"), as well as the SLY part of ON THE SLY (wanted D.L. or Q.T., which obviously didn't fit) (23A: Sub rosa). No other high- or lowlights. Gonna go back to watching my NCAA brackets getting blown up. Pretty boring day so far. Mostly chalk. (*This* meaning of chalk, which I don't think I've ever seen as a CHALK clue ... but then, how often do you see CHALK in the grid?)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day, from snowy Binghamton...


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

114 comments:

Pete 12:36 AM  

I was looking to verify that Tom Kean was the last respectable governor we've had here in NJ and found that:

a) It's true, and
b) There was a two week period were we had no fewer than 5 governors. There was one day where we had three. I think there was an Abbott and Costello routing about that day - no you're the governor, no you're the governor.

What a state!.

So, you live in NJ and you have the mess in DC, what could be worse?- finding out James Cotton just died. That puts a stake in something, time-wise. Oh well, at least it represents one fewer "taker" (what's the term for enclosing something in quotes as I just did, say if I were trying to weasel out of saying my wires were tapped?) getting meals-on-wheels when he could be out earning a wage.

Bronxdoc 12:38 AM  

No joy. Okay. I see that the foolish answers were arranged in an E, but why? And what is that plus doing? Foolishness is an E plus?

Brian 12:48 AM  

Interesting symmetry on this one, you don't see top/bottom very often.

I struggled through this, though. I got 3 of the 4 15-letter downs pretty quickly, although I really wanted [Recreational soccer, to Brits] to be some variation on Sunday league football, since that's the term I've always heard used. Turns out I was overthinking it. ATTENDANCESHEET took me forever, though. The crosses of KEAN, MCCALLISTER, LTRS (I guess that's paperwork?), ONTHESLY, and MERE weren't coming to me very quickly.

It didn't help that I also took forever with some of the theme answers. I don't really think of EMPTY and especially SAPPY as synonyms for [Foolish]. Not knowing TRIO of TRIOSONATA and never hearing of AANDP left me with the bottom middle as my final section.

GLEN Rock I got right away, one of my favorite bands (Titus Andronicus) is from there, and they namecheck it a few times in their songs.

CDilly52 12:55 AM  

This worked. Or worked me, for sure. Even with my lucky start with HELLO (kind of like yesterday's STATICKY that I threw in immediately and it stuck) I had trouble gaining momentum, kind of had to do it ON THE SLY. But overall the fill was legit and most of the clues were fine. The "E" "reveal" didn't connect the four words to anything but clever (other than the remarkable perfect symmetry (as @Rex noted), but it didn't really rankle. Fine Friday fare, at least for me. A couple of JULEPS, a TRIO SONATA playing in the background, and I was able not to COME UP EMPTY.

George Barany 1:12 AM  

Interesting puzzle by @Jacob Stulberg, his fifth of the calendar year. Thanks, @Rex, for your insights, though I'm surprised Thomas KEAN did not come quickly -- the 9/11 commission has been in the news a lot these days, brought up by those trying to suggest a bipartisan template for unraveling the Russian hacking imbroglio. (Temporary holdup looking for a first name, to go with Thomas as a last name, like the Supreme Court justice).

Having shopped regularly at A&P when I first lived on my own in Manhattan in the 1970's, it was disheartening to learn that this chain is no longer in business. ASBESTOS come up (or come out?) whenever there is a laboratory remodeling/renovation project. Points for creativity on the ERIE, YODA, and (especially) HELLO clues, but a missed opportunity for cluing LIE.

Finally, CRYER brought to mind a Natick (to some) from last year's ACPT. Only a week to go until this year's edition, but sadly, I won't be able to attend. Will miss quite a few of you!

zevonfan 1:15 AM  

Could someone please explain the 1D answer to me of "Hell-O." Is this a pun I'm not comprehending? Thanks.

CDilly52 1:26 AM  

I clearly had one julep too many while "typing" with my thumbs. Apologies to the neighborhood!

Carola 2:04 AM  

ATARI x AT ALL got me started on a clockwise sweep, which finished in the NW with HELL-O (for which I hadn't understood the clue). I enjoyed the longer entries: MADE TO LAST, TRIO SONATA, HARD TO STARBOARD and RAPTOR + PREY.

LABAN brought back excruciating memories of middle-school-era nightly Old Testament readings (me the reader, to my parents and brother), wherein various patriarchs "lay with" this, that, or the other woman. Minefields in every chapter.

I'm not sure about a theme that draws attention to itself as INANE. I had the same questions as @Bronxdoc 12:38.

Got help from: 1) previous crosswords: NES, HH = ETAS; 2) what else could it be?: ATARI, ESTES, AMIS, ERIE; 3) memory: KEAN.

jae 2:11 AM  

Easy-medium works for me. My first thought for 19d was Oral but that's training not education.

I agree with @Rex that this was not quite a Fri., but almost a Thurs. Still a fun solve, liked it.

@zevonfan - If some one responds to something you said with "HELLOOOO" it means they think your nuts.

jae 2:15 AM  

Oops, that should be you're not your.

Dolgo 2:25 AM  
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Dolgo 2:35 AM  
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Dolgo 2:52 AM  

Never got the theme, but got through it pretty easily.

I'm always only slightly annoyed when clues appeal only to a regional audience. If you never lived east of the Rockies, you would not be familiar with the A and P unless you read that terrific Updike short story. Eurdora Welty also wrote one, "Why I Live at the A and P," which would help transcend regionalism.

Edy's ice cream is Dreyers out here in California, I think, and Hellman's mayonaise is Best Foods. Faithful crossword players soon learn these things, although I don't think I've ever seen Hellman's in a puzzle.

These things are less troubling for me, since I've lived around a bit.

puzzle hoarder 3:19 AM  

ASS was what I started with so yes I went into this ASS first. The ok making 3D was HARD A as opposed to HARD TO slowed that NW a little. Not hard to fix. The obvious clues always made easy to work around the unknowns as well as the things that should have been obvious. Once again I fell for the H representing ETA trick.
I know they're clued differently but isn't 16A still just 29D pluralized?

puzzle hoarder 3:25 AM  

That second sentence was "Thinking that 3D was HARD A..."
My phone is very creative.

Loren Muse Smith 4:29 AM  

Hah! Cool puzzle. Perfect E – Bravo! I like having a little mini theme on a Friday every now and then. It feels like an unexpected gift, like when you push the buttons for the bag of Cheetos, and the bag behind the front one throws itself down, too. A volunteer.

With HE_ _ _ in place and not revisiting the clue’s specification as to which syllable was drawn out, I immediately went to the very southern “hey-ull no” or however you’d spell it. This was very early on, so I was still open to the funny business signaled by the grid layout as some kind of rebus.

Hey, Johnny Ray – you gonna try the kale-arugula-water cress salad?
Oh hay-ull no. Just pass me that mess of RAMPS and shut up.


“Crop up” before COME UP.

I wonder if the original clue for ETAS was the same as the clue for ETDS. And speaking of which…

@Tita and Nancy from yesterday – great points on boarding the plane. @jberg – I’m with you, man. I. Check. Everything. Hate schlepping around a suitcase.

@George – glad to have you back! I smiled at CRYER. I was one of the unlucky ones who guessed wrong last year.

I was listening recently to a BBC story on why we use “Dick” as an abbreviation for “Richard.” I’ve forgotten why because during the explanation the guy explained that the word soccer is a truncated form of the word association. I was stunned. And so now your day is complete.

Hartley70 4:39 AM  

Since this took me the same time to complete as yesterday, I have to conclude it was an easy Friday. I had no cheats or reveals and I just plowed through. It's hard not to think of snow at the moment. Here we go again at the weekend.

I liked the long answers. HARDTOSTARBOARD was a piece of cake. MACALLISTER and LABAN were complete unknowns. The clue for RAMPS was my favorite. I love a misdirection. INANE or IN AN E was a nice extra touch and most unusual on a Friday. I appreciate the effort.

Elephant's Child 5:01 AM  

Hi @Dolgo! I thought Eudora Welty lived at the Post Office, but maybe she moved around.

Charles Flaster 5:23 AM  

Agree with Rex but I feel it was totally easy as the proper names were in my wheelhouse.
CROSSWORDease-- ESTES ; ATARI seems to appear often enough but not certain of that.
Creative cluing for ATTENDANCE SHEET, ASS, DO IN, and LPS.
ATTENDANCE SHEET brought back many memories of hilarious names--I am sure most of the bloggers remember them.
Thanks JS

BarbieBarbie 5:28 AM  

@LMS, I love the "soccer" origin and was likewise stunned when I found that out, but then a lifetime of Wodehouse fandom kicked in and I realized it was the natural counterpart to "Rugger." And, "footer." Just so British. Two types of footer: Rugger and soccer.

Enjoyed today's puzzle. For me it felt hard but finished fast, where "fast" for me is not fast for Rex. I was fascinated by the symmetry and kept waiting to be told to make a little clown or something out of the shape, so I was a little disappointed that it was only an E, but it was still fun.

@Dolgo, as a CA native I was surprised that Dreyer's had morphed to Edy's when I went Colonial-- because Edy's is also a West Coast thing, a restaurant-tearoom in San Francisco that my grandmother loved (like Blum's, another one) and the ice cream boxes have a tearoom-y look to them, so I always associated Dreyer's with Edy's, and then there it was. Hellmann's mayo is (was?) made by Best Foos
Ds Corp, so the West Coast got it right.

BarbieBarbie 5:31 AM  

Sorry, Best Foods Corp. and "I'd."

evil doug 6:59 AM  
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evil doug 7:02 AM  

That's it? Given the remarkable, if often egotistical, theme tricks we see here, this one seems pretty, well, SENSELESS. Hmm. Maybe the real theme is how SAPPY the theme is! Self-criticism by a constructor? Now that's SPINE!

But the longs are fine. 15-letter single words must not be too common, and MISAPPROPRIATES is a nice one. Especially love the vivid urgency of HARD TO STARBOARD.

STRANGE TATAS ON THE SLY? HAHA!

Anonymous 7:16 AM  

Well it's the New York Times and for anyone around the metropolitan area Glen Rock and Tom Kean are layups.

kitshef 7:42 AM  

Enjoyed the themette on a Friday. For Skipping record, I confidently filled in AbsEn and waited to find out if it would begin with Absent or Absence.

Also confidently filled in Agb (for Mr. Bell) before ATT, and wii before NES.

All of those slowed me down, but not too much.

KEAN/NES looks like a Natick waiting to happen - almost-random initials and an uncommon name.

DeeJay 7:53 AM  

Guys and gals IN AN E is very clever.

I'm nearing 60 and have never heard of Mount Ass.

Hef 8:01 AM  

Hellooooo
Goodbyeeeee

Glimmerglass 8:03 AM  

I don't get all the fussing about "theme," "not a theme," "half a theme." Minor part of this puzzle, so who cares? IN AN E can't help you with the theme, only a small (very small) hint for 49D. @jae: Oral is a perfectly good topic for sex education (no one ever got pregnant that way!). 23A gave me fits I first had secrEtLY, which was right enough to make me think it was correct. Then, because I was only sort of familiar with RAMI-, I got to ON THE dLY (not a good answer, but it was all I had). Never thought of SLY. One error in the clues held me up, but not very long: the correct command is not HARD TO STARBOARD. No one says that. The command is "Hard a-starboard," which doen't quite fit.

gcedwards10 8:05 AM  

I grew up in Savannah, and even there Ft McAllister plays second fiddle to the much more well-known (in Savannah anyway) Ft Pulaski. In the 30+ years since I left, I don't think I have ever seen a reference to Ft McAllister. Guess it was gettable by crosses, but man, that's obscure.

Eric NC 8:13 AM  

Wow. Sub Rosa - had "in secret" which seemed solid for way too long. Interesting to see ETD and ETA legitimately in the same puzzle.

G. Weissman 8:15 AM  

I'm trying to make sense of OVUM as a "Sex-ed subject." What does "sex-ed" mean? Not sex ed(ucation) and not sexed, but ... what?

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

I don't understand the wax LPS answer

gcedwards10 8:24 AM  

LPs = Long Play records, aka "wax"

gcedwards10 8:25 AM  

Sex-ed is sex education

Hungry Mother 8:26 AM  

Records used to be made of wax. I wish I could stop spelling them "julips." Maybe some shock therapy.

QuasiMojo 8:43 AM  

I "hie"d through this in record time but was put out by the IN AN E revealer. Seems like another of these "senseless" look-at-me-I'm-so-clever constructions but one that sacrifices logic for some "foolish" trick. Instead of an "aha" moment, it was an "ugh" one. In a word. Inane.

Whitey 8:54 AM  

ETAS must be "estimated times of arrival" but what is HH? Thank you.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

E for INANE! Stupid!

nyestreet 9:13 AM  

Solving puzzle in Savannah airport, Ft McAllister a gimme.

nyestreet 9:14 AM  
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Z 9:19 AM  

HH are two Greek letters, ETAS.

I knew the bible was dirty at times, but mounting ASSes?

HELLO

Jay Apking 9:21 AM  

"H" is the Greek letter "Eta" so two of them are plural

Stanley Hudson 9:24 AM  

Really enjoyed this one.

@Whitey, ETA is a letter in the Greek alphabet and is H-shaped.

Happy St. Patrick's Day all.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Tom Kean was an old moneyed WASP. As governor of New Jersey he was famous for his tourism ads: "New Jersey and you-perfect together." Of course he had a vacation house on Fishers Island on the Long Island Sound in New York.

Mr. Benson 9:36 AM  
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Mr. Benson 9:36 AM  

I live just a couple of towns over from GLEN Rock, and it still didn't come to me right away (though it became obvious when I had the G, whereupon I gave myself a slap on the head). It's a pretty small town. That's an awfully obscure entry for 99.9% of the country.

DBlock 9:47 AM  

The mount refers to the donkey ridden by Balaam in the book of Numbers

pmdm 9:59 AM  

I quite agree with you, Glimmerglass, Today's "theme" was just a bonus something to add a little surprise to the solving experience. There's no reason to fixate over it, as you imply.

Trombone Tom 10:35 AM  

Outside of the long downs . . . meh! Not much resistance or reward, especially for a Friday.

GILL I. 10:36 AM  

No JOY to behold for me AMIS RAMIS. I'll probably be in the JOY juice in a few.
IN AN E went over my EMPTY head. No HA HA moment - not even when I got AMATEUR FOOTBALL off the OVUM VITAE.
Why wasn't Mrs sub rosa doing it secretly or even covertly. Oh no, she had to do it ON THE SLY and screw me up SILLY.
MC ALLISTER could have been Fort Lee for all the forts I know.
Are SOPS like mashed potatoes? That's the only thing I put gravy on - well, maybe some dry turkey.
My one JOY was seeing it cross JULEPS
TATAS are NOT Byes. Just ask SAPPY.

Maruchka 10:39 AM  

Fairly easy, here. Only hangups were wanting DANCE SHEET to be a real something (HELLOOO) and AM I to be AND - as in, your point is?

Fav of the day - KEAN. The 9/11 Commission Report was one of the last truly bi-partisan panels. Gone are the days..

Finally starting to warm a bit. Jeez, it's been ridiculously frozen for March.

@BarbieB - Our Oakland grandmother also treated us to Edy's. Yum! Loved the pink booths and ladies with hats and gloves. Their hot fudge sundaes were the best in the Bay Area, until Bud's opened. Double yum.

Nancy 10:57 AM  

Not easy for me. I had to start in the East -- AMATEUR FOOTBALL got me into the puzzle -- then go South, and only belatedly managed to COME UP to the NW. At first I thought I wasn't going to be able to solve this at all. SILLY, SENSELESS me. When I saw the LY at the end of 23A, I wanted an adverb -- something like secretLY or clandestineLY or covertLY -- so ON THE SLY surprised me. It killed me that I couldn't remember Thomas KEAN (if only I had a memory like everyone else). ERIE seemed out of the way for the route described (41A), but then Geography always has managed to DO me IN. As for the theme? It was irrelevant, but it didn't bother me AT ALL. And because I found it hard, I liked this one -- especially the long Downs.

Grammar Nazi 10:58 AM  

GREAT "your" "you're" mix-up. Apostrophes and Oxford commas can cause hilarity.

Mohair Sam 10:59 AM  

Well we liked it a lot. Thought the mini-theme was not at all foolish, actually fairly clever and with a nifty revealer (IN AN E - neat stuff). And if today ain't a Thursday - who cares? Liked all the long downs, and thought the cluing was terrific.

This ex-G.I. insisted that the only command for 3d is "to the right march" which unfortunately is 15 letters long, lost time there. Civil War buff struggled with MCALLISTER too (so does my spell check), shame. Lady M bailed me out getting the long downs I struggled with at 2d and 3d and then flamed out insisting that Shakespeare had a word HwE so she could use DOwN for "Off" at 26a. Two outta three ain't bad, I'm keeping her.

Worked for a small firm whose bookkeeper (like that word @LMS?) embezzled $78,000 years back. He'd write himself bonus checks and forge the bosses signature. When we dug in and found the checks we laughed to discover that he would put a comment in the Memo line on each check such as "Great Job Joe", or "Keep up the good work Joe!" My favorite? "Thanks for everything" - Talk about chutzpah. Interesting aside - when he was caught he confessed to $25,000. The detective told us embezzlers usually initially admit to 1/3 of what they take, look for triple that. Great call.

@Anonymous - I know almost nothing about Tom KEAN, but If the best you can do to rip him is tell us he was rich, white, and Protestant and vacationed off Long Island, well, he must have been one hell of a Governor.

mathgent 11:00 AM  

I came to the blog expecting Rex to trash it. I would then simply second the motion, relishing Rex's witty venom. When that didn't happen, I wanted to wait for @Nancy to deplore it. But she hasn't shown up yet.

The only positive thing I can say about the puzzle is that it had some crunch. But not the good crunch which comes from witty cluing. The bad crunch from unknown proper nouns.

I was totally bored with the in-an-e theme. That the four words for "foolish" form an E is a constraint that the constructor imposed on himself. But that arrangement of entries was irrelevant to solving. It occurred to be that silly, sappy, and empty ended with an "E" sound, but then we have senseless. So why the E?

And pronouncing INANE as three words. Is that the constructor's idea of something witty?

What a dud.

anon. 11:04 AM  

What is 5a?

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

I'm not buying EMPTY as a synonym for FOOLISH. Maybe EMPTY headed. But on its own, no way.

Forsythia 11:05 AM  

Challenging for me. Kept trying truANCy-something, hand up for secretly. Thought there was going to be something with the square
RAM
ATA
MAD

RAM/RAM MAD/MAD especially with RAP
R
RAP
P
in the southeast. I kept looking for other repeats.
The Biblical references fortunately helped: ASS, GALILEE, JOY, LABAN.
Did not think HAHA was clued accurately. Usually sarcastic, yes?

Elle54 11:08 AM  

I liked it! And we had A and P here in Chicago. My bracket is still pretty good! Go NORTHWESTERN!

Mohair Sam 11:13 AM  

@Ellen54 - Northwestern got a gift and you know it. Cannot believe that Vandy kid intentionally fouled, poor guy.

Ellen S 11:20 AM  

@ANON 11:04, you could take a RAMP instead of a flight of stairs.

@Gill I., I was thinking SOPS are pieces of bread you sop up the last blobs of gravy with. Or, with which you sop up the last puddles of gravy.

Oh speaking of with which, @Pete (first one in) -- I think they should be called Weasel Quotes. No irony intended.

We had lots of As and Ps in Chicago. When I was a kid they heartened back to their origin as the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. With Jewel Tea as competition. There was an A&P and a Jewel within walking distance of my mother's apartment.

Masked and Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Different. Themed themeless FriPuz. Kinda like it … at least more than the E+ that @RP seemed to give it.
@RP: M&A had heard that Binghamton got about 35" of snow. Looks about right.

INANE. Word has a rich crossword puz history. Has been used 496 times in the NYTPuz -- maybe shoulda held this puz, for its 500th anniversary. Seems to be the first time that INANE got in on the puztheme. Has quintuple PB1 Usage Immunity. Has been clued as: SENSELESS, EMPTY, and SILLY (12 times). Couldn't find a time it ever got clued as SAPPY. fave NYTPuz clue: {Like wearing socks on your hands}. Pretty day-um hard on Sheri Lewis, tho.

Fairly smooth solvequest, and fun lil themelet. Awaitin the Friday HINDU puz, next week. (When Binghamton freezes over.)

staff weeject pick: SRS. Palindromic abbr. plural meat.

Thanx, Mr. Stulberg.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


**gruntz**

Lewis 11:50 AM  

This one fought me left and right, so the victory felt sweet. I saw the E-theme as icing on the cake, and rather than seeing it as an "in-betweener", I see it as a genre of its own, one that, like @loren, I enjoy seeing every once in a while. Loved the clues for RAMPS and DOIN, speaking of which, I did like the RAMPS up, and DOIN is a DOOK (is a gridiom).

E for some fine entertainment, Jacob!

G. Weissman 11:55 AM  

Sex ed is sex education. Is it hyphenated b cause sex ed becomes an adjective modifying subject? "Sex ed subject" seems preferable to me, but in what world is OVUM a "subject" of a sex ed class? "Students, today we will be discussing the ovum." No.

Joe Bleaux 12:08 PM  

Hubert Humphrey, Helen Hunt, Hugh Hefner, Hedda Hopper ... who else couldn't it be😏?

Gregory Schmidt 12:16 PM  

Harder than average Friday for me. Knew none of the proper names, so had a hard time getting a toehold. Finally just guessed my way into a start, and with enough staring, started to fill in.

Joseph Michael 12:16 PM  

Another good one. Two in a row. Makes up for the earlier bummers of the week.

Did not find this at all easy and guessed my way through MCCALLISTER, KEAN, GALILEE, CRYER, and more.

Liked the foolish big "E" (as in HELLO, why didn't I remember to fill up the tank?) and see no reason why a Friday can't occasionally have a theme, even a silly one. Enjoyed much of the tricky cluing as well.

In August Wilson's Fences, Troy's son works at the A AND P after school and ignites his father's wrath by quitting his job so he can attend FOOTBALL practice.

Lessons learned. Anytime a crossword calls for a four-letter name of a city and you're not sure what it is, you can bet your ASS that it will be ERIE.

@Z, thanks for the chuckle.

TonySaratoga 12:23 PM  

But INANE is also foolish. I thought this was really clever!

Dr. LeStrangelove 12:26 PM  

[Long time reader, first time caller]

Oxford comma in the news: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/us/oxford-comma-lawsuit.html

jberg 12:33 PM  

Quite a struggle for me -- I'll blame it on wondering when the guy replacing our hot water heater was going to finish (actually, in good time), thus interfering with my concentration. Also on not only DANCE SHEET, but ANCEStry at 2D. I have not idea who MCALLISTER was, or why he or she deserved an eponymous fort; but I was in Savannah last week and must have seen it on a sign or map or something. I didn't remember it, but somehow the name popped up once I had a few crosses.

@Ellen S, thanks for explaining RAMPS! I was totally at a loss on that one.

@Loren, what a neat discovery! But it raises as many questions as it answers, viz., if the word was first used at Rugby, then adopted at Oxford, why is it now used only in America? (Actually, I was looking for 'footie' there, but couldn't make it work.)

@Joe Bleaux, just remember, there always has to be either an EEL or an ETA. Sometimes both, of course.

Joe Bleaux 12:37 PM  

Thursday, Friday, themed, themeless ... I really don't care, when a diversion is as pleasurable as Jacob Stulberg's puzzle is. I always enjoy scanning the clues, thinking "Damn, I'm beaten before I begin," then finding me a toe-hold and taking off. This one started in the bottom, with OPRAH and SHEAF, which gave up ASBESTOS. Then MERE's R and the B in asbestos yielded HARD TO STARBOARD, and I was off and running, fairly clockwise, completing except for a hole in the middle because I couldn't come up with a synonym for foolish starting with an E. Without LPS, I may still be trying to think of one -- bit of a reach there, Jake, but a fun puz nonetheless.

Aketi 12:55 PM  

@Nancy from yesterday, I loved your K/M confusion story AND your limerick. I too started with K until I saw the down clue. But I have to admit that I was unclear on the difference between an MCL and an ACL until my physical therapist and orthopedist gave me a thorough visual education. I had no idea that they would put cute little titanium buttons in my bones to anchor my recycled ACL that they claim is MADE TO LAST its second lifetime in my knee.

@Hartley70 from yesterday, my brain must have redacted the appearance of that joint right out of my brain. I got that whole section from the crosses never even noticed the downs. I did learn from my Physical Therapist that the advances in surgical procedures have made it entirely likely that I can use that joint for underhanded purposes in the future. Sadly, when using the crosstown bus to get to my orthopedist I truly regretted not being able to use the option of that tactic for revenge. There were no EMPTY seats in the handicapped section of the bus when a 90 something gentleman with a cane got on. Most of us were either as old as he was or gimps like I am. The one person who looked like she could easily stand up, pointedly ignored him. So I stood up right next to her with my full leg brace clinging to the strap which I can barely reach at my vertically challenged height and let the gentleman take my seat. I was so MADLY infuriated (I know that's redundant) that I refused her belated offer of her seat. SILLY of me to adopt the righteous martyr but in some ways it was easier. With my leg brace fully locked I have to angle that leg HARDTOSTARBOARD from my hip down to keep it from sticking out in the aisle where it would get bumped by every incoming passenger on what were very crowded buses yesterday. I did want a RAMP for the snow piles I had to climb over. I took all the techniques my physical therapist taught me and some really good boots to manage the icy snow piles on the street corners.

old timer 12:56 PM  

That Oxford comma legal decision really is interesting -- and logical I think.

I found it Friday-hard, but got it in the end. Since my iPhone was charging in another room, I could not easily Google for the many things I did not know, and still finished with no lookups and only one cross-out: "sit" for LIE. I got HARD TO STARBOARD immediately which really helped.

When I was a kid we lived in Westwood, the part of LA near UCLA. My mother shopped at the A and P, which was famous for its coffee. You would take a bag of Eight o' Clock coffee beans to the checkout counter and the clerk would grind it before your eyes (and nose). There were A and P stores all through California though they were less common in the North. I know I bought Bokar coffee at least once, but the San Francisco store was in a pretty distant neighborhood from where I lived.

ASS was no problemo. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on one, on Holy Thursday. Americans call an ASS a donkey because with us, ASS is also a human rear end. In England people sit on there arse, and ASS is not so embarrassing a word.

Aketi 12:59 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 1:03 PM  

I kept looking at the AAN and knew the answer was buried somewhere in my foggy brain. It took the IN AN E to remind me about those sneaky ANDs and then the P popped into place.

@OldTimer, I remember the Eight O'Clock coffee bean counters.

Nancy 1:06 PM  

@G Weissman (11:55) -- I had the exact same reaction to OVUM. Freshman Biology, yes. Sex Ed., no.

@Carola (2:04 a.m.) -- Well at least you knew who LABAN was "lying with." I didn't have a clue. Never heard of the guy, truth to tell.

@Elephant's Child (5:01) -- Priceless!

Teedmn 1:27 PM  

"How does she do it?" She being me but I'm using the third person to distance myself from the foolishness of coining SENSELESS words. I blame EMPTY - with only the P in place, I considered vaPid. So when I got down to 51A, I wanted SAPid. I finally found my backbone and put in SPINE at 47D, putting paid to that vapidity (YODA hard to see since I was trying to picture Richard Simmons in a robe for 52D, ignoring the "cinema" part of the clue).

Who knew that 63A would be ELSE? Not me on the first pass. And @LMS, I was thinking of you at 27D, CRYER being my downfall also, doing last year's ACPT at-home version.

Pu-leeze didn't work at 1D, though that's where my head went. Wrongly parsing that clue at first ("please" not having two syllables) and ignoring the "when read as three words" part of 49D are unforced ERRS I should strive to avoid. Read the clue and save yourself some heartache! (At least I'm now referring to myself in the 2nd person - progress, I guess).

Great tricky Friday, thanks JS!

John 1:40 PM  

Good day for puzzles. Liked this, though I completely missed the E-trick, and thought Gaffney's puzzle in the Wall Street was very clever.

Masked and Anonymous 2:00 PM  

p.s.
Almost forgot to mention …
Happy Green Paint Day!
(Maybe the puz's big "E" stood for "Eire", or somesuch?)

ASBESTOS! [fortunately, I was wearin a mask)

M&Also

Unknown 2:10 PM  

I don't like RAMPS accross with RAMIS down. I don't believe Margaret Farrar (sp) would approve.

Alex 2:53 PM  

Very difficult for me. I didn't know TRIO SONATA, MCALLISTER, GLEN Rock, NES. I had a tough time with a bunch of the other clues. The Northwest was the last to fall for me - I had H and O and didn't see HELLO. Oh, well. Happy St Patrick's day to all!

Nancy 3:00 PM  

@Aketi -- Thanks for your 12:55 shoutout. I appreciate it. As to your hazardous trek to your orthopedist in these icy, about-as-treacherous-as-the-NYC-streets-ever-get conditions-- have you lost your everlovin' mind, girl? Your appointment couldn't have been postponed? You want to add more broken bones -- arm, hip, pelvis, ribs -- to the ones you already have? This is what your doc expects you to do? I didn't just have surgery, and I've been playing it safe and hibernating for days. And as to your GETTING UP TO GIVE THIS GUY YOUR SEAT WITH A FULL LEG BRACE ON BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE WOULD-- you're kidding me right? Here's what I would have done. I would have smiled sweetly at the 90-year-old man and said very loudly and distinctly: "Oh, sir, I am so terribly sorry! I would like so much to get up and give you my seat, only, as you can see, I can't. But I absolutely know that someone else on this bus -- someone who didn't just break their leg in three places and maybe, even, is getting off soon -- who will be happy to give you theirs." That's what I would have done. If such a thing ever were to happen to you again while you're still recuperating, that's what I strongly recommend you do. And I do wish you a speedy recovery!

Larry Gilstrap 3:04 PM  

It's been busy around here with Super Bloom coinciding with normal high season activities, but I polished this thing off with aplomb until I hit a dry spell in the NW. Oh, brother! What a quagmire! Had to wait until this morning for the Staples to reopen to purchase some more erasers.

I wasn't real sure about the meaning of Sub rosa and was convinced that the answer to 23A had to be a one word adverb ending in -LY. Helms aSTARBOARD didn't help my efforts. That left me with some kind of DANCE SHEET and more staring and erasing ensued. HELLO! In my defense, as a teacher I took ATTENDANCE on the roll SHEET, and then eventually on line.

What with Palm Sunday near, I remember reading in my KJV Bible that Jesus rode an ASS during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

I once was told I needed to provide a Curriculm VITAE to an HR department and had no idea what it was. Oh, kinda like a resume. I didn't get the job.

GILL I. 4:07 PM  

@old timer...Sheesh Louise - I feel you're my alter ego. Westwood as well! We lived for a short time in the Palisades but my uncle lived in Westwood. I bet you might have had a hamburger at "Hamburger Hamlet"? Let's see. Madrid - and you drank at the Ritz bar. Running of the bulls in Pamplona? Traipsing throughout England in the 60's....I think we also have something in common in NYC....Pastrami on rye?
We seemed to have lived in parallel universes/lives.
The only thing that bothers me though...is the "old timer" appellation.... make it a "young" timer!!!
P.S. Eight o'Clock was my mom's favorite COFFEE......

Doc John 5:22 PM  

So, Rex, no comment on the RAP/RAPTOR cross?
Or that ETAS *and* ETDS were both in the puzzle?

Aketi 6:45 PM  

@Doc John, I actually enjoyed the RAP//RAPTOR cross. I actually went to a musical at The Frank Sinatra High School to watch my son's friend play the lead male role. It was a very well known musical. I hadn't realized that the original actually started out with no melody, just a fast talking stream of rhymed words to a beat. The musical was first performed long before RAP entered the scene. It of course did move on to adding melodies to the rapid fire lyrics as well as some Barbershop Quartets thrown in. I entered a state
of RAPTure listening to my son's friend and his costar perform. Any guesses as to the musical?

@Nancy, HAHAHA the bus story wasn't as bad as my two taxi stories. In one case, I ended up slipping my crutches through the sliding payment window to show the driver that there was a good reason why I could not slide into the taxi faster as he was spewing profanities at me. Thankfully the little sign on the window that reminded me how many years in jail I would serve managed to override what my (at that time two days post op) pain killer addled brain was starting to consider that might involve a few BAMs. I behaved myself instead.

old timer 7:49 PM  

@Gill I. My father died when I was a baby. But she kept the house on Denslow until I was 7 and she moved into my stepfather's house in the first block of Mandeville Canyon. So the Brentwood Country Mart and the nearby Baskin Robbins were my youthful hangouts. But I did go to Hamburger Hamlet more than once. I hated Pacific Palisades but did to to the Bay movie house a few times.

Going back to Westwood I bet we have both eaten burgers and apple pie at the Apple Pan. A good friend loved it, but I've been back a few times since he moved away. And maybe we both were taken to the same children's clothing store in Westwood. Whose name slips my mind, though it was part of a small chain of such stores, had an elevator with an actual operator, and a salesman who could have been a Jack Benny character.

Other than museums, the three New York things we might have in common are the Oyster Bar at Grand Central, Danny Meyer restaurants like the now re-opened Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern, and of course the High Line now. Unless you too like staying at the San Carlos.

Anonymous 9:18 PM  

Sorry, but "HH" is just not a clue. I found that section challenging, so nonsense like that really affects the quality of the solve.

Jennifer Freeman 9:36 PM  

I'm way behind and have just finished reading yesterday's blog but have to express my love of that puzzle and the last post by @Nancy.

Evan Jordan 10:08 PM  

Um, hell-O-o...

GILL I. 11:00 PM  

Nobody's business but @Old timer's and mine ALERT....

@old timer....I hated the Palisades as well. My mom, sister and I were fairly new arrivals in California having trekked from Cuba, Miami and Sarasota Fla. My grandparents lived in Malibu and my uncle lived somewhere in Westwood. We were told The Palisades was the place for the best schools and hot dogs (kidding). I went to Brentwood Jr High for a while and then on to Pali High for a year and a half. I learned how to skate board, skip school, bleach my hair, hate the Beach Boys and steal my mom's mustang. Our hang out was a place called "The Hot Dog Shack." I was miserable.....but the hot dogs and a blonde surfer dude I met were pretty good.
I remember Hamburger Hamlet because it was my first American hamburger. I could have sworn it was in Westwood but I guess it was in Sherman Oaks.
My mom was offered a teaching position at The American School of Madrid in 1965. She came home from work one day and said "pack your bags." It was the best decision of our lives. Weren't you in Madrid in the late 60's early 70's?
Yes, the Oyster Bar at Grand Central was a place I would meet my friends who would come in to NYC from Connecticut or Maryland. I lived at 98th and Broadway and in those days no one would come to visit!!!!!
And San Francisco...!!!!
Good memories.

Anonymous 11:13 PM  

@Nancy, you really are geography challenged. Go west out of Boston through Albany, Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland, and Gary in virtually a straight line until you have to make a short hook on the west shore of Lake Michigan to get to Chicago. Nothing out of way at all about the route. It is a NYT crossword so it was obviously Erie instead of Gary.

Anonymous 1:42 AM  

I didn't get LPS, for a long time I had EAR, and until I realized that it referred to records, I was trying to figure how (L)ipo(P)oly(S)accharide made its way into the puzzle.

Susie 7:17 PM  

So Rex I love reading the blog every day; but am still waiting for the handwritten thank you card I was to receive for financial support over the holidays?

Unknown 8:42 AM  

Took me 2 hours. But I don't look any thing up on Google. Is that horrible? Do people here look things up?

Unknown 8:42 AM  

Took me 2 hours. But I don't look any thing up on Google. Is that horrible? Do people here look things up?

Burma Shave 10:14 AM  

SHO TATAS ATALL?

It’s SENSELESS to ASKME, it’s SAPPY to SIT here and LIE,
I spent my BASESALARY on an EMPTY GAME and here’s why:
It’s not MADETOLAST, see, JOY had me at “HELLO” and “HIE”,
then JOY said, “COMEUP and MADLY make love ONTHESLY!”

--- GLEN MCALLISTER

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

I finished it without hints but it took maybe a hour. If you can solve it in less than 10 minutes without any help then that is pretty impressive.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Though to be honest I put owe instead of hie. Without that error I solved the Monday,Tuesday,Wensday,and Friday without any hints. Only yesterday's took a few.

spacecraft 11:05 AM  

Aaugh! An ampersandwich, so birdie is already off the table. Full name: The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. Some day someone is going to construct a puzzle with ACTUAL ampersands, in which A&P, A&E, etc. get the three squares they're entitled to. On that day I shall be filled with JOY, and award an automatic eagle!

This one played pretty tough, thanks to some brutal cluing. No better example of this can be found than 5-across. Okay, a "flight" of stairs. Legit enough, but definitely ONTHESLY.

Plenty of WOEs. I'm not up on my biblical genealogy, so LABAN came via crosses. Don't think I've ever heard that one. BASESALARY is another one: not in the language. It's "Base pay." Sequel = PARTII, oh, all right. Ugly, but all right. I agree it's STRANGE to have four gridspanners that have nothing to do with the theme--which turns out to be pretty thin. JS had to give up left-right symmetry--and a bunch of SILLY fill--to achieve it. The four long downs were far more restrictive than the theme, I suspect. An ambitious effort, not quite carried off. Not even a DOD today...JOY who? Behar? uh, no. OPRAH? Not my type. It's...whoever belongs to those TATAS. No I didn't! Slap me. Hard. I deserve it. Par.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Too many pissers to be a good puzzle. Ignore the "theme".

rondo 12:08 PM  

@Unknown – I applaud you FOR not looking anything up. And don’t be concerned about your time. Judging from the posts, some folks look things up ONTHESLY, but for most of us it constitutes a DNF (did not finish). But do the puz as you see fit. As yesterday’s puz reminds us, it’s ALLINFN.

I had a good day, solving in a MERE 18 minutes, writing over only at ATTENDANCEcHarT. Hand up FOR also noticing both ETAS and ETDS in the puz; not clued in the same context though.

As @Dolgo mentioned, John Updike wrote a great short story AANDP (A & P). You can find it online. Worth the short time it takes to read, for sure. Now that’s writing.

Anyone remember C. ESTES Kefauver (Memorial High School yearbook)?

A dearth of yeah babies, so in the middlish area there I’ll go with JOY CRYER, FOR the obvious reasons. I’ve known a few ONTHESLY.

Enough of my SENSELESS SILLY SAPPY EMPTY comments, how’s everybody ELSE DOIN’?

Diana,LIW 1:40 PM  

My first go-thru I circled 16 complete unknowns; however, pretty soon I had everything from approx. Nevada to the East Coast.

But...having "secretly" instead of ONTHESLY, and two "Cs" and one L in MCALLISTER made the west coast into earthquake territory. So a dnf to be proud of. I knew what the clue for ATTENDANCESHEET was getting at - just not how to state the answer.

Do people really keep track of which channel shows the shows they don't watch? Biblical mount - good misdirect!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:52 PM  

Hard to come to the blog and immediately see how fast and easy it was for Rex after spending so much time digging out odd answers to clever/elusive clues--particularly in the NW and SW.

The four long downs made it somewhat easier, but ATTENDANCESHEET resisted and was the last of them go in.

The E "theme" such as it was, is simple enough, but didn't really help in the solve, and EMPTY didn't seem very much like "foolish".

SOPS as "gravy go-withs" seemed a bit STRANGE, and CRYER and LABAN were unknowns.

Glad to have finished but not much fun.

rain forest 5:09 PM  

Interesting grid with up-down symmetry rather than left-right or rotational. Are there others?

I really liked the dual purpose 'revealer'- INANE and IN AN E, although it wasn't really a theme or a revealer in the usual sense.

@Spacey - A AND P doesn't bug me, because that's how it is pronounced. Kind of like the HELLO answer which focuses on how it is said, as clued.

EMPTY, as an EMPTY threat, no?

A few names I didn't know but I got them eventually. Fun puzzle.

eastsacgirl 5:32 PM  

Fun puzzle. LPS was the last to fall. Still I did not finish because of ASS. Should have sussed that one out

Larry Jordan 6:56 PM  

Why I Live at the P.0.

leftcoastTAM 9:16 PM  

@rain forest--

EMPTY threat? Okay, but pretty random, isn't it?

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