Apr 24, 2020

Friday, April 24, 2020 Brian Temte & Jeff Chen

"An Average Puzzle"

18. "The Shape of Water" director: GUILLERMO DEL TORO.

43. Snapchat marketing expert, in modern lingo: SOCIAL MEDIA NINJA.

65. "Watch your mouth!": DON'T GIVE ME ANY LIP.

And the reveal:

71. Garden-variety, and a hint to what's hidden in 18-, 43- and 65-Across: AVERAGE.

An LA Times debut for Brian Temte, who in collaboration with Jeff Chen, gives us three grid spanners that hide the theme answers.

And unless you got the answers via perps, they also give us three clues that need the reveal answer to provide you with, well, a clue:

22. Below 71-Across: BLAH.
47. Below 71-Across: SUBPAR
72. Below 71-Across: POOR.

If you are a top to bottom solver, or happened to hit one of those three clues early, you may have looked to 71A to figure out what the clue should be.   Average didn't immediately come to mind for Garden-variety.   At least it didn't for me.  Horticulture came to mind.  Outdoor plants versus indoor plants.

Also, Brian and Jeff didn't exactly make solving the reveal at 71A easy.   Grid spanners hiding the theme answers, no circles to help you find them, and perhaps not-so-easy perps crossing the reveal.

Adam Savage I knew.
Super star ?  A famous person ?  Idol ?   No, it was noVa.  So a literal super star.
Bartleby left me clueless, and I had no idea that he or she was a scrivenEr.
Angle and athlete prefix tRi came easily enough.
Noir weapon could have been rod, but this time it was gAt.
Then we get to: Spanish soccer association that means "the league": La LiGa.  Did you know this ?
Then an easy E in gavEl.

Thus, AVERAGE.   So "Below average" as the clue for 22, 47 and 72 across.

I have to admit that after solving the mini-theme test and then completing the grid, I almost forgot to look for the hidden words in the spanners.   Mean, Median and Mode explained.


1. 35th pres.: JFK.   John Fitzgerald Kennedy

4. Smaller-than-life depiction: ICON.

8. Larger-than-life creations: COLOSSI.

15. Spleen: IRE.

16. Hilo shindig: LUAU.

17. Put into play: ENACTED.

21. Construction __: SITE.

23. "Frontline" network: PBS.   A favorite PBS program.  Thought provoking.

24. What a pursuer seeks to narrow: THE GAP.

28. Evergreen shrubs: ERICAs.    Oops.  Make that three words that had to be corrected.  Had yuccas.  Bzzt !  The Genus Erica   You may know it as heath or heather.

31. Meat on a stick: KEBAB.   Key in a K (skip a cell), Key in a B (skip a cell),  Key in a B and then check perps.

33. English "L'chaim!": TO LIFE.   Hebrew translated to English.  A toast.

36. Pack animal: ASS.

39. "Gimme the skinny!": TELL IT.    TELL me went in.    It wasn't until I got the second grid spanner that I saw that it should be IT.

Cue up Aaron Neville.  He wants to know if she's just playing with his emotions in this 1966 song:

42. Stiff: RIGID.

46. Northern Iraqis: KURDS.

48. Virtual-city denizen: SIM.  A simulated person.

49. __ column: SPINAL.

51. Cabbage in a French café?: EUROs.   Usually, slang in the clue would require slang in the answer, but it is Friday.

Google Translate tells me the French word for the vegetable cabbage is chou, and sounds something like shoe.

Chou looks like a Chinese word.  It sounds something like cho, rhyming with show.  Chou seems to mean draw, or pump, or take out, or pick out, or shrink, or quilt, or flagellate.   Must be about the tone.

Many Asian languages (exempli gratia, Chinese) are tonal, so in addition to having vowels and consonants, tones can change the meaning of words.   I read that some Chinese dialects can have as many as 12 tones.

I also read that in some other languages (e.g. Japanese, Hebrew, Norwegian, et al.) that pitch accent can change the meanings of words by stressing different syllables.

Where was I ?    Cue up Styx - Too Much Time On My Hands:

53. Long trip: VOYAGE.

56. Old tankard metal: PEWTER.

59. Suffix for but-: ANE.   Butane.   "Man, that's cold !"

61. Rolling rock?: LAVA.

63. High pair: ACES.

73. In bygone days: AGO.

74. __ status: MARITAL.

75. Ward with awards: SELA.

76. Explosive stuff: TNT.


1. Lively dances: JIGS.

2. __ Roll-Ups: FRUIT.
The boxes no longer say "Made with real fruit" and have very limited use of fruit imagery.

3. Urban of country: KEITH.

4. Not well: ILL.

5. Numberless type of ball: CUE.   My first thought was gum. 

6. Pole in a lock: OAR.

7. Indifferent: NUMB.   Apathetic.

8. Chest material: CEDAR.

9. Like some wonders: ONE HIT.  nh

10. LeBron's team, on scoreboards: LAL.   LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

11. World Series mo.: OCT. ober.

12. Corner quartet, perhaps: STOP SIGNS.   The town we moved to when I was eleven had no 4-way stop signs.  There was only one traffic light, with a constant flashing yellow in one direction, and a flashing red in the other.   Two churches, a hardware store, a pharmacy, a one pump gas station, a bar, a post office and our high school.   Cue up John Mellencamp.

13. Balkan native: SERB. ian.

14. Altar words: I DOs.

19. Welsh national emblem: LEEK.  Wait, what ?  Why ?  Let's check with  Wales Online

20. Cheer for a banderillero: OLE.   Primera persona del singular (yo) del presente de indicativo de banderillear.

25. Have one's chance to speak: GET A SAY.

26. Genesis victim: ABEL.   For some inexplicable reason, I keyed in Cain rather than ABEL, but fixed that two words later when I got to KEBAB.

27. Conceals, in a way: PALMS.   Sleight of hand.

29. Stylist's braid: CORN ROW.   Versus a farmer's rows of corn.

30. Others, in Latin: ALII.    As in Et (and) al. (others).  "... the phrase in Latin could be written three different ways, depending on whether the other things one referred to were masculine (et alii), feminine (et aliae), or neuter (et alia)."  - Merriam-Webster

32. French flag couleur: BLEU

34. Island nation whose flag has a Union Jack on it: FIJI.

35. Dutch cheese: EDAM.

36. Seeks permission: ASKs.   Some are big.

37. Common stock option?: SOUP.   What's the diff ?

38. Bartleby, notably: SCRIVENER.   "Bartleby the Scrivener" at Sparknotes

40. "__ delighted!": I'D BE.

41. Hold higher, as a baby bottle: TIP UP.

44. License fig.: I.D. NO..   I remitted the fees to have my driver's license renewed for another 4 years via the online portal for the Secretary of State.   Didn't expect to get it back for awhile, but it came back within a few weeks.  Real ID can wait.

45. Swiss river: AARE.

50. Spanish soccer association that means "the league": LA LIGA.   Am familiar with some of the teams like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, but not familiar enough to know the association name.

52. Command to Fido: STAY.

54. Bench mallet: GAVEL.  The piece of wood struck by the gavel is known as a sounding block.

55. Christmas __: EVE.

57. Conspicuous display: ECLAT.

58. Hold sway: REIGN.

59. Savage of "MythBusters": ADAM.   This program fist aired in 2003 and immediately captured my interest.  Myths weren't always busted.  Sometimes they held true.   

60. Super star: NOVA.

62. Roadie's haul: AMPs.

64. Stain: SPOT.

66. Prefix with angle or athlete: TRI.

67. Noir weapon: GAT.

68. Fair-hiring initials: EOE.

69. Co. that bought Netscape in 1999: AOL.

70. Food service trade org.: NRA.  The annual National Restaurant Association was scheduled for May 16th to May 19th at McCormick Place in Chicago but North America's largest convention center has been turned into a medical facility.

Check your answers against this grid:


D4E4H said...

Carol and I FIR in way too many min.

Good morning Cornerites.

Thank you Brian Temte & Jeff Chen for your challenging  Friday CW. 

Thank you TTP for your excellent review.


desper-otto said...

Good morning!

Zipped right through this themeless Friday. What? There was a theme other than the BLAH, SUBPAR, POOR trio? Somebody didn't read the reveal clue. Again. I am familiar with all of those statistical terms, but sure didn't notice 'em as they flew past. I did notice the two i-before-e rule-breakers. ECLAT used to be a frequent visitor. Not so much lately -- don't think I've ever heard it spoken. Thanx, Brian, Jeff, and TTP. (Wow, you sure followed the rabbit down that hole chasing the cabbage!)

FIJI flag: What U.S. State flag has a Union Jack in the corner? (Answer below)

SCRIVENER: I'm familiar with the book title, but not the book. It recently showed up as a Jeopardy! answer. (question?)

STOP SIGNS: Our little town as only a single 4-way stop. TTP's description of his town growing up really struck a nerve. Could've been my home town, except we didn't have "a bar." We had at least six. No 4-way stops, though.


Jinx in Norfolk said...

FIR, but erased cbs for PBS, alia for ALII, and la lige for LA LAGA. Hand up for waiting for K_B_B. Too many unknowns to list, but knowing MEAN MEDIAN and MODE helped me complete the fill. Very difficult for me today. Couldn't figure out what the Limeys meant by TOLIFE 'til TTP 'splained it. And I thought that GUILLERMO DEL TORO was bull.

I learned what CORN ROWs were (in a hair context) by watching a lot of Bo Derek in 10.

Does LAVA roll?

FLN: PK, yes that's a big reason the USPS is broke. I wish the feds would auction it off. UPS could figure a way to make it profitable, and Amazon could use it to launch nationwide door-to-door service. And no, the constitution does not require a federal agency to do it.

FLN: Swamp, Dodger skipper Tommy Lasorda used to say "very very" at every opportunity. None of his players had a good game, or a very good game, they had a "very very good" game.

Thanks to Brian and Jeff. Not my favorite puzzle, but it is Friday after all. And thanks to TTP for another fun, informative review.

Anonymous said...

Finished in under 13 minutes, somehow. There were a few unknowns (Colossi, ericas, etc) and the ever-changing spelling of kebab.

"I would prefer not to."

Jinx: There was a lot of Bo to see in 10.

Hungry Mother said...

Very, very easy this morning, aided by my shot of Lysol with my oatmeal. No write-overs, but, as one who taught an occasional statistics class, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t find the MODE, MEDIAN, and MEAN where I shoulda. A very nice outing.

SansBeach said...

Been a good week, with FIR up to today, DNF. All worked well until _la_. Couldn't get to blah for under average...Still felt pretty good about what did get filled in. Thanks for the challenge Brian & Jeff and thanks for the explanation TTP. Can't wait till Saturday. lol

Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone.

Tough one, but after several revisits, I was able to get it all. Part was my own doing; spelling 'kabob' before perps nudged me to KEBAB. Merriam says kabob is a less common spelling, so I want to thank the Brian Jeff team for using the more common spelling. Probably above AVERAGE. Kept wanting -tox for 'buttox' but the Ch. E. in me finally came up with -ANE; ButANE. (Small amounts occur in natural gas.) @ 11d, STOP SIGNS led me on a merry chase, too; all because I didn't know GUILLERMO DEL TORO (Bill of the Bull). Good clue, though. TIP-UP was the last to fall.

Good solid Friday-level puzzle. Thanks TTP for a great intro, and Brian and Jeff for bushing hard on my limits.

TTP said...

Bo Derek had corn rows in 10 ? Who knew ?

D-O, Six bars ? Was your town near dry towns or just across the border from a dry county ?

Our town was just across the Ohio / Pennsylvania state line. In PA, you were supposed to be 21 to drink anything with alcohol. But in Ohio at the time, you could buy beer with a lower alcohol content once you turned 18. The "PA boys" frequented the little bar on Friday and Saturday nights.

In related news, there probably won't be any rum runners from Ohio to PA. I read the Governor opened the State Stores, which sell all of the of liquor and the majority of wine. It's curbside pickup. I read they are doing approximately 33K transactions a day, but that's still down from the normal 180K transactions per day prior to the shutdown.

Yellowrocks said...

I found this excellent puzzle was way above average. Although it was difficult and time consuming, it was plenty of fun. FIR, eventually. I thought the complicated theme was great. I was intrigued by the clue, Below 71 A. Looking back I see very few clues and answers that were new to me, but they took a lot of perps and wags to decipher.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO was all perps except for the last L which was a wag. LA- ??? I forgot about the Lakers, but wagged the L, because DEL seemed plausible.
I didn't know BARTLEBY. After I found scrivener, I remembered having seen his name before.
The vowels in KEBAB are always up for grabs. KEITH and ERICA were unknown but easily solved.
I often use the idiom, garden variety, to mean commonplace, so with the V in place, average was a gimme.
I, too, grew up in a town with one traffic light. It is still the only traffic light in the whole county. Like DO, we had plenty of bars. There were many churches. The population was 700+ then and is 500+ now.
Yesterday, I did not intend to cast aspersions on grandpas. I am a grandma and probably one of the oldest people here. "It's not your father's_____" or "It's not your grandpa's _____" are just idioms.
Words and phrases we disparage today have a way of becoming accepted eventually. Already newspapers are using "most unique."
"In this most unique of drafts, filled with technological concerns and even uncertainty when real football might return, there was one constant Thursday night: Joe Burrow."
Washington Times Apr 23, 2020.

Husker Gary said...

-What a fabulous theme despite opening with an impossible director’s name!
-This third generation nurseryman had never heard of ERICAS
-ADAM, EVE and ABEL with no cross referencing
-Me too, Lemon, vowel placement in K _ B _ B always is tricky for me
-Would you take a VOYAGE on a cruise ship now? Me either!
-I’m becoming NUMB to all the medical and political news of the day
-A fun list of ONE HIT WONDERS headed by The Macarena
-Everyone in Congress can GET A SAY but nary a mind is changed
-Bob Cratchit was a SCRIVENER
-Yeah, Jinx, my LAVA flows
-Well done, TTP!

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

This gave me some pause here and there but, overall, everything eventually fell into place. The trio of IDos, I'D be, and ID No grated a little, as did Ane as a suffix to But, but I liked the mini Bible theme of Adam, Eve, and Abel and the duo of Adam and Edam. I always spell Kabob this way, not Kebab. Adam and Laliga needed perps.

Thanks, Brian and Jeff, for a challenging solve and thanks, TTP, for 'splainin' it so well.

Stay safe.

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

FIR but an inky SW mess. idol to icon to diva to finally NOVA. definitely no points for neatness.. .Alia for ALII. As usual the theme zipped over my head.

Actually was tempted to put COLOSSI early. Already had the C and the I. But figured it was too esoteric but heck it IS Friday afterall.

Also phlegm wouldn't fit for "chest material". And not enough letters for "mon petit chou" French cabbage.

Noted by others KEBAB can be spelled many ways. I chose the wrong one. BLAH for below AVERAGE? BAH!!

Hola! Lucina. Lots of Español. La Liga, olé, Bill of the bull.

"The Shape of Water" set in the 1960's . Talk about a mixed marriage. I'll bet their grown children are super swimmers.

Favorite clue: "corner quartet" ...Hate it when four of us hit the stop signs at the same nanosecond. Everybody waving everyone else on. "you first, no you first" etc. Wonder how many 4 car crashes result?

QEII REIGNS but does not rule.

NRA: if you complain about the restaurant's food they shoot you.

Bring on Saturn's day

Crockett1947 said...

I was prepared to go down in defeat on Friday, but FIR! Had to change FLAT to BLAH, K_B_B was a change, TOPUP to TIPUP, ALIA to ALII, and relied on the perps to get Bill.

Thanks for the puzzle and the write up. Time to get to work!

Stay safe and well.

Jazzbumpa said...

Hi Gang -

Kudos to Brian and Jeff for a magnificent puzzle.

I'm surprised so many of you found it easy. I found it quite challenging and had to tease out some the fill one letter at a time.

The post office is authorized specifically in the constitution. It is self-sustaining with no federal money contributed. The only reason its finances appear shaky is because it has been unreasonably required to have anticipated pensions funded for 75 years into future. No other entity on earth has been burdened with that requirement.

Happy weekend everybody. Stay home, stay safe.

Cool regards,

OMaxiN said...

FIW. Had one bad cell because I will never know which crossword spelling KEBAB will be used. I didn't go back to correct.
The completely obscure (to me) director's name was filled by wags & perps along with BARTLEBY SCRIVENER and ERICAS.

Got the below average partial theme right away. Totally missed MODE,MEAN,MEDIAN which I should have remembered from my econ major.
Thanks to B,J,& T

Ray - O - Sunshine said...

Just read the news. Anyone care to join me for a lysol and tonic on the rocks?

Wilbur Charles said...

New England had me , I couldn't break through. Finally I went with BLAH and ONEH_ _ hit me. The P in PBS finally cracked it open.

Difficult FIR. At first it went smoothly but I spotted Jeff Chen in the constructor duo and waited for le deluge.

And got it. That's the same Melville who wrote Moby Dick. Yes, "I prefer not". Been awhile since I read ol' Bartleby. My friend Tom always liked that one.



Anonymous said...

Good puzzle although faster than usual for me for a Friday. Great write-up TTP. Didn't know ericas - all perps. And while I'm sure it has been used before, I don't recall seeing collosi.

Be safe everyone.


Wilbur Charles said...

Great write-up, btw, TTP. I still have more music to listen to. ?

-T, As a relatively young music aficionado, can you make head or take of Styx lyrics? I can't understand a word.


Mailman1959 said...

My town had one red and yellow flashing light. Three churches and three bars.

Bluehen said...

Brian and Jeff have presented us with a very tempte puzzle. Definitely Friday level, but I did not take it on the chen. Excellent expo, TTP. Many thanks to all three.

So, TTP, DO, et al. you think you grew up in a small own? HA! My hometown was so small that both city limit signs were on the same post!

Irish lamb stew tonight, accompanied by Irish soda bread and a tossed salad. The stew recipe is a variation on James Beard's. It contains a lot of one of my favorite herbs, thyme. I especially like the Wild Thymes.

OK, cheap shot. I'll see myself out now.


desper-otto said...

TTP, actually the town population skewed toward retired farmers, no drys anywhere nearby. I'm not sure they knew what "dry" meant in Wisconsin. There were actually more than six bars -- I restricted my count to the three blocks of the downtown business district on Main Street. One of 'em was right across the street from our house; I would fall asleep listening to the jukebox. Goodnight, Irene was a big hit there. Also The Thing by Phil Harris.

jfromvt said...

I finally got it done, but it was a toughie. More like a Saturday. Took a while to get the theme, and it helped big time with the solve once I did. Nice to see SELA Ward making her weekly appearance.

Shankers said...

After reading all the entries thus far it appears most everyone had the same experience as I (or is it me?). The daunting unknowns such as ericas and scrivener eventually fell into place with lots and lots of perps for a very satisfying 20 min. FIR for a Friday no less. Is it too much to hope that tomorrow will be as friendly?

triple crown said...

In English,'cabbage' is slang for money. French 'cabbage' is euros. Duh.

Misty said...

This may go down as my favorite Friday puzzle--many thanks, Brian and Jeff. No, I didn't get it all, but I got most of it except for some stalling in the northeast corner. Loved seeing 'Bartleby the SCRIVENER,' one of my favorite Melville stories in my younger days. I also loved getting KEITH URBAN, even though I don't know country music. But he's married to Nicole Kidman, and so appears in "People" magazine all the time. Had to laugh when DON'T GIVE ME ANY LIP filled in. EUROS for 'cabbage in a French cafe' was pretty funny too. All in all, a delightful puzzle--thanks, again, Jeff and Brian. And I liked your pictures, TTP.

Have a good weekend coming up, everybody.

Brian said...

I was thinking that one of the hidden AVERAGEs was MODEL instead of MODE?

Anonymous said...

The statistics geek side of me loved, loved, loved this puzzle! It was great to see MEDIAN/MEAN/MODE all together like that!

I did not realize at first that the 3 "below 71A" clues were all directly below MEDIAN/MEAN/MODE, and the same number of letters: SUBPAR is six letters, and directly below MEDIAN, which is also six letters. Same for BLAH and POOR.

Great job, Jeff and Brian!

Brian said...

But I do see that MODE is a math term as in a modal value or median.

Lucina said...


Thank you, Brian and Jeff! What a fun Friday! I thought this puzzle was above AVERAGE.

With just a few letters I grokked GUILLERMODELTORO though I did not see his movie. Nice to see OLE crossing there. And yes, TTP, I knew LA LIGA. It's a literal translation of the league.

I believe this is the first time I've seen COLOSSI; colossus, yes, often.

It was only recently that I learned the meaning of l'chaim! TO LIFE!

I'm also familiar with Bartleby, the SCRIVENER and the only Savage I recalled is Fred but learned about ADAM just now. That was my second write over; IT in TELLME/TELLIT was the other one.

ERICAS was once common fill in XWDS and EDAM is also an old friend. In the Netherlands I went to a farm where EDAM is made. It was fascinating but not exactly a feast for the nose.

Thank you, TTP; I enjoyed your commentary. No, I did not see the MODE, MEDIAN and MEAN but didn't look either.

Buen dia a todos! Have a good day, everyone!

AnonymousPVX said...

This was to me a super crunchy Friday grid.


Rant alert...

JZB...thanks for telling the facts on the USPS....if they ever do fold I cannot wait to hear all the moans about “what do you mean a stamp costs more the farther the letter must travel?” and “ what do you mean I don’t get a delivery every day?”

I’m sure the same folks who hate the USPS will be moaning when Social Security is “encouraged” to fold as well, followed by MediCare.

End of rant.

And on to Saturday.

AnonymousPVX said...

And stay safe.

desper-otto said...

In honor of 33a -- L'Chaim -- To Life!

oc4beach said...

I got the theme today, which is unusual for me. But it took a while to get the puzzle done. Definitely a good Friday puzzle from Brian and Jeff. The tour by TTP was well done and enjoyable.

I didn't know COLOSSI, GUILLERMO DEL TORO, SCRIVENER, ERICAS and I initially put in COPPER before PEWTER. Perps took care of the unknowns and missteps.

I also grew up in a small town, but we had 5 traffic signals and one flashing signal because we were on a major highway that went through the center of town. It required the traffic, which was mainly truck traffic, to make 4 turns onto different streets to get through the town. There is now a bypass around the town and only 3 traffic lights.

At that time we had many churches, but we also had more bars than churches. Religious people who liked to drink. Today the town has a smaller population with the only drinking establishments being the AMVETS, the Fire Department Social Club and the local country club. But, there are still the same number of churches.

The government may start partially opening up our Central PA county after May 8 if our contagion numbers are low. Social distancing and face masks will still be in effect. Still won't be able to go to a restaurant or bar to sit down and eat or drink. I don't think I'll be ready to jump in right away.

Stay safe.

Wendybird said...

Great puzzle, although it took me a long time to finally FIR. Unlike others, I pay no attention to the duration of my sometimes tortured efforts and actually like to make it last. Breakfast and the LA Times print version are my morning routine.

I also like the different directions the comments take us - I’ve never read Bartleby and now want to get it and dive in.

Thanks for a great challenge Brian and Jeff. TTP, thank you for a nice tour.

Loving the sunshine and the mid-70’s temperatures.

CanadianEh! said...

Fabulous Friday. Thanks for the fun, Brian & Jeff, and TTP.
This CW required P&P but eventually I FIRed. But several inkblots - Et al changed to ALII (yes there was no abbreviation in the clue!), CBS changed to PBS, and Gun to GAT.
I did find the MODE, MEDIAN, MEAN with BLAH, SUBPAR, POOR under them. (Yes Anon@12:26 even the same number of letters!) Clever!

I was misled at first when I found MODEL T and then TORO in 18A. I was trying to find other "garden-variety" equipment in 43A and 65A. No John Deere.

ERICAS was unknown as a genus. I wanted Cedar but it was needed for that hope-chest at 8D.
Mr. DEL TORO filled with perps thankfully (OLE). He was one of the few non-Canadians involved in the production of "The Shape of Water" (filmed in Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario).
Hand up for entering Kabob before KEBAB (but I wrote the vowels lightly), and entering TELL me before realizing that me was in the clue.
Yes, d'o, I remembered Bartleby and SCRIVENER from Jeopardy the other night.

Clues for EUROS and LAVA were smile-inducing, but my favourite of the day was the Corner quartet STOP SIGNS. (What would be our LA Corner quartet?)

KEITH Urban tripled himself for his performance on One World Together the other night.

Wendybird- Mid 70s!! Send some warmth here.

Wishing you all a good day. TO LIFE!

Wheels42 said...

What do people think of clues styled like "Construction ____" or "_____ status"? Are these generally considered tougher clues better suited for Friday and Saturday puzzles? I like these as a change of pace but too many of them can be frustrating. There seemed to be a high number today. I do think they can create some additional difficulty that gives a puzzle some much-needed crunchiness. I'm curious what y'all think.

Yellowrocks said...

I am surprised how many of us regulars were raised in Small Town America. I believe some others were raised on farms.
I like to watch reruns of Myth Busters on TV from time to time, so I knew Adam. Adam and friends love to blow things up. They try to recreate myths and parts of movies to see whether such things could really happen. If the myth is bogus they keep pushing to the limit until something blows up. They explain the science of what they do. I think they used to make specail effects for movies.
With two perps I thought of COLOSSUS and changed the -US to -I for the plural. Almost a gimme.
Lucina, had you heard of Guillermo del Toro before? It seems most of us have not.
When a movie or a book is BLAH (dull, below average) I ditch it.
I just read a book with a great plot. The trouble with it was that every tiny little detail of the many trysts was spelled out. I couldn't wait for the plot to move along faster at that point. Remember the days when the movies would discreetly fade out at a time like that?

Jinx in Norfolk said...

Section 8 doesn't say the USPS has the exclusive franchise; doesn't say they have to operate the offices. I think requiring 20 years of pension funding would be more reasonable, but I'm not sure it would make much difference.

The USPS has had some terrible leadership. To wit: they launched a business to offer printing and delivering email messages to people who don't have email capability at home. They also launched a line of polos and jackets emblazoned with the USPS logo to sell to the general public. And it used to be that you had a pretty good chance of getting free Express Mail service between smaller towns because of missed guaranteed delivery dates.

And they still can't even forward mail as they promise. After several years of having medical bills and tax forms mishandled while we're in Florida, including being returned to sender stamped "no such address" and "unable to forward", I finally tried their "premium forwarding service" this year. That worked very well, but it seems like I'm paying them $20 per week to do their job correctly.

They may not be a government entity, but they certainly are a government-protected organization. Try getting a UPS envelope delivered to a post office box.

And why do you think commercialization would bring it to an end or make it distance sensitive? Deregulation, innovation, and competition removed the distance-sensitive component of phone calls and (to a degree) airline fares. And what does that have to do with Social Security and Medicare (other than being unsustainable in its current form)?

Lucina said...

Yes, I am familiar with GUILLERMO DEL TORO. I saw his movie, Pan's Labyrinth, when it was released and realized he is an out of the box thinker. Today he might be classified as metaphysical. I'm sure I did not fully appreciate that movie and have no interest in watching The Shape of Water.

His name intrigued me, as well.

I really hope no one takes seriously the idea of consuming any kind of disinfectant as suggested by the president but sadly some of his followers seem to be of the blind loyalty variety. One person here in Arizona died after consuming some aquarium cleaner containing chloroquine. His wife also drank it but survived.

Steve said...

Thanks, TTP. Nice write-up. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, a classy bit of construction.

@D-Otto - my youth was spent in a small city in the south of England which had the most number of pubs per head of population. There were around 32,000 people, and more than 130 pubs.

@Wheels42 - these are known as "fill in the blank" clues or "FITB" in crossword slang. You try to avoid putting too many of them in one puzzle, and the Cruciverb site calls out the number of them in each puzzle as sometimes a constructor does get carried away. They're not necessarily confined to later in the week, there are some which are so obvious that you might as well have printed the answer in the grid!

Wendybird said...

Guillermo Del Toro was in my wheelhouse because I really loved The Shape of Water, which won the Oscar. But I get his name mixed up with Benito del Toro, the actor, who is one of the ugliest, sexiest actors around IMHO!

Anonymous T said...

Hi All!

Whew! That was a hard one - esp. in the NE. If it weren't for the theme, I'd never gotten 18a but MODE | BLAH helped finish the fill.

The swath right of block 4 and above RIGID had only LUAU, OCT, SERB, IDOS, OLE, and PBS as knowns before letter by letter guesses... LAL(? Or was he CLEveland?), SIGN, ENACTED | CEDAR, STOP, COLOSSI | ONE HIT!, et. alli. Like I said, rough corner.

Thanks Brian & Jeff - congratulations Brian on the LAT. Very Very well executed theme with the below-Average answers exactly lined up below the statistical words [see that @12:26 & C, Eh! caught this too*].

Fun Expo TTP. Texas beer came to mind b/f LAVA as did gUm ball.
When I read the description of your small town and got to "one bar" I was thinking POOR cell-phone service.'
BTW, I bookmark'd - cool site! Thx.

WOs: KaBoB, ALLI -> ALII, KeRDS [D'Oh!]
ESPs: GUILLERMO DEL TORO, ERICAS, TO LIFE, AARE, LA LIGA; SCRIVENER took 7/9th perpage and a leap of faith.
Fav: Clue for BLEU

Corner quartet - nothing to do with JzB, Michael (in LUAU State - did I get that right?) and the other musicians at The Corner...

If not for Jimmy Kimmel's sidekick, GUILLERMO would not look like a name save for I know how it's pronounced //which is nothing like it's spelt :-)

WC - yes, I can understand every word. I'm sure part of the reason is that, as a ute, I'd read all the liner-notes :-)

Wheels42 - I like some ___ clues. Sometimes you surprise yourself that first guess [SITE!] gets it; ither times it's 'Roman', 'Tuscan', 'SPorts'(?), aha! - SPINAL |IDNO & SAY is right!

YR - Testing the myth until they leave a crater the size of Cleveland was cute at first. When every episode became more about the TNT than the science, I tuned out. Speaking of Myth Busting - How long until Adam tests mainlining Lysol? What (ethically) would the experiment look like? Should be fun! :-)

Full disclosure: I'm mostly pro-USPS.
The reason I don't worry about USPS going poof/private - w/o it, Congress critters would have to actually pay for mail.

Cheers, -T
*started drafting this post at 10a and then got *squirrel!*

Wheels42 said...

Thanks, Steve and T!

Yellowrocks said...

Anon T, that is why I watch Myth Busters only from time to time. But there is some wheat there amidst the chaff. I read while I watch it. My ears perk up at the good parts.
TTP, thanks for the fine expo.

Lucina said...

I was born in a small town in northeastern AZ which had one bar and it was owned by my grandfather. It was the main meeting place for the menfolk and was attached to the family home. The family's entrance was from a door in the kitchen but I wasn't allowed, of course, except to help my grandmother clean it. Outside was the gas station also owned by my grandparents. I have no idea of the number of inhabitants but I would guess under 1,000.

Yellowrocks said...

Lemonade, just now I received an email supposedly from Jason Chapnick. It seemed odd. Was it from you?

Avg Joe said...

Lemonade: Have you been hacked? I got an email from "you" that looks mighty suspicious.

Avg Joe said...

YR, I think that both of us getting the message answers our question. Anybody else get one of these emails with the heading "request"?

Jayce said...

I enjoyed solving this puzzle and greatly admire its construction. Hit all the same pitfalls as many of you did, but I did know SCRIVENER, TO LIFE, KEITH Urban, and PEWTER. Had to look up GUILLERMO'a last name, and after I did I then remembered it. Thanks to Brian Tempte and Jeff Chen for this offering, and to TTP for a terrific 'splanation.

I'm beginning to realize I agree with Jinx on many things, but don't know as much as he does.

Good wishes to you all.

Jayce said...

Yes, I just got an email form Jason Chapnick, Esq. with the subject "Request" requesting me to email him back asap, which I am not going to do.

Jinx in Norfolk said...

-T I re-sent the suspect email that was supposedly from a relative of mine a week ago to your apach address. I assume that you didn't get it, which would suggest that my outgoing server blocked both messages.

Not worth pursuing, since I wouldn't click on such links.

Anonymous T said...

Many of us have received the message. Delete it and do NOT trust the phone numbers etc.

Lem - change comcast pwd asap. -T

Lemonade714 said...

I apologize to all. It is a hack from Nigeria and I changed my password

Lemonade714 said...

As many now know, one of my work email accounts was hacked today and I have been trying to let all the recipients of the email know it was not me. I guess I have done all I can, as the phone calls have stopped.

I finally have time to say I agree with those who found this challenging, and Tom's write-up entertaining.

Did (do) any of you watch LUCIFER where both CAIN and ABEL appeared? Highly irreverent, sometimes funny, never to be taken seriously but bingeworthy in a Pandemic

Dudley said...

Hello Puzzlers - Chiming in not because of the puzzle, but because of the bogus email mentioned above. I now see I’m not the only recipient.

Hope everyone is weathering the COVID storm.

Wilbur Charles said...

Here's a
One-hit wonder from the aptly named Edsels

Re. USPS.. it has a monopoly on mail but supposedly doesn't make any money from it. It competes package-wise with a host of rivals with Amazon Prime among them. The presence of USPS may serve to keep the rest honest, else the rest would collude on pricing just like airlines, gas , Medicine etc. I've opined before that we need a national airline to provide a baseline for price and customer satisfaction.


Bill G said...

Lemon, I got one too. What do the Nigerians hope to gain if I respond to your fake e-mail? AnonT, what's going on?

Yellowrocks said...

How can these emails hope to succeed? We all were immediately suspicious.
Last week why would I respond to an email from a deceased friend or someone I lost track of 15 years ago?

Terry said...

City limits....ha

Wilbur Charles said...

Also be wary of Facebook Messenger . Somehow, scammers pose as former classmates. One , from a Selectman, alerted me that I was on the list of winners of the Facebook Lottery. $250,000. After my son got up off the floor where he fell laughing he explained about 'bots'.


Dark Asteroid said...

Good afternoon everyone. I hope you are all healthy and remain that way.

I thought the puzzle was kind of easy for a Friday, but I did struggle more than a little bit in the NE. FIR in 24 minutes; I thought it was going to be much less until I entered the swamp.

Thanks to Brian and Jeff for the puzzle and toTTP for his good as usual writeup.

The thing that I liked most was seeing all the crosses that could be read as a phrase or part of one.
I’ll TIP UP / my PEWTER mug in salute to it.
If not for a lot of help in my yute I’D BE / SUBPAR now.
If I could only GET A SAY, I’d be glad to / TELL IT.
Then something came up about ERICA’S / CORNROW.
You can get apples at the FRUIT / SITE.
In most card games, ACES / REIGN.

This probably happens a lot, but today they just seemed to stand out.

As far as the rest, WEES.

This selling one house and buying another several towns west, then trying to pack 32 years into a relatively small number of boxes, is for the birds. I have been doing the LA Times crossword every day but usually find that by the time I am ready to post there are 50 or 60 earlier comments saying pretty much the same thing, so I just crash and don’t post. I do read this blog nearly every day, though.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home, and stay away from me if you’re sick ;)

Bobbi said...

Fun fill today ... Only one "cheat": SCRIVENER -I guess I've lived a sheltered life so I never heard of it before. Well, you live and learn!?!?

Big Easy said...

Extremely late working on this puzzle and it 'almost' got the better of me. I've never heard of GUILLERMO DEL TORO, LA LIGA, a SOCIAL MEDIA NINJA (or a Snapchat marketing expert), or Bartleby the SCRIVENER, whatever a scrivener is, or ERICA shrubs. Thank you perps and WAGs.

Thank you C.C. for letting everyone GET A SAY. As for the 'below' AVERAGE, I certainly didn't notice the MODE, MEDIAN, & MEAN until I have scrivener in place and then saw that BLAH, SUBPAR, & POOR were beneath those statistics words that you will never use (again) unless you are an economist or psych prof.

Rolling Rock-BEER; Rolling rock-LAVA.

Ray-O-Sunshine- LYSOL Spray is 100% ethanol. Back in HS we used to spray it and put a match in front of the spray. It became a flame thrower. That was fun. But the stuff you clean the floors and counters with is NOT. It's more like Pine-Sol and ethanol.

Jinx- USPS- I wish they would go to twice a week delivery. If you need to have mail everyday, RENT A POST OFFICE BOX. One of their biggest problems is that the cost of the stamp to mail anything is the same; Key West to Nome, AK is the same as Key West to Key Largo.

Lucina said...

A SCRIVENER is a scribe or one who writes, possibly a secretary or one who transliterates.

Anonymous said...

"LYSOL Spray is 100% ethanol"

Really? Are you sure, Big Easy?

Lemonade714 said...

Ingredients in

Ingredients. Active Ingredients: Alkyl (67% C12, 25% C14, 7% C16, 1% C8-C10-C18), Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chlorides (0.0860%), Alkyl (50% C14, 40% C12, 10% C16) Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chlorides (0.0216%

PK said...

Hi Y'all! Thanks for a fun challenge, Brian & Jeff. Thanks for a great expo, TTP! You had many of the problems I did.

Found all the primary & secondary theme words and was thrilled to do so. I've missed so many easier themes lately, I'm surprised when I get one.

But-ton, But out, But-ter, ButANE. You'd think I'd know this after having an old ButANE leaking gas up into my farm house at one time. No one uses it any more in my neck of the woods, so they put a garden hose to the tank and just let the gas escape into the atmosphere about 75 feet behind the barn. That gas hung like a cloud about a foot off the ground for weeks until we had a storm. Every time I made a pass with the lawn mower, I was afraid it would ignite, so there was a patch of grass taller than the rest for awhile.

Aaron Neville's "Tell It Like It is" is a favorite. That angel voice soothes my anxiety often.

Don't get me wrong. I loved the USPS pension -- just liked to jab my dad. I certainly appreciated the monthly checks when I was managing my mom's finances in her old age.

Our little town of 500 had one beer tavern -- no hard stuff. We had no stop lights but several stop signs for which full stop was optional depending on if you saw something coming. We had two churches. They turned the street lights off at 1 a.m. so if kids were out "catting around" on foot, we'd try to get home while there was still light. No vehicle traffic at that hour.

PK said...

Oops, should be "an old buried ButANE tank"...