Tupper of Tupperware fame / FRI 12-8-17 / Orange soda loving character of 1990s Nickelodeon / Queen hit with lyric so don't become some background noise / Alexander pioneer early head of New York's subway system

Friday, December 8, 2017

Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (for others, probably—harder for me)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: DERNIER CRI (18A: Latest thing) —
noun: dernier cri
the very latest fashion. (google)
• • •

Man, this has been a rough week for me. The kind of week that makes me start worrying about my age. My times have been terrible, which wouldn't be so bad (we all have bad weeks) except the kid who posts his times on Twitter every night has set personal best time after personal best time. Even looking back over this completed grid, I have no idea how I could've come close to a personal best time. I mean, it wasn't a disaster (ca. 7 min.), but it was 2x personal best, and more like a Medium Saturday for me. And I have historically done very, very well on Paolo's puzzles. This has always pleased me, as he is young enough to be my son (he is, in fact, the same age as my daughter). So for a while there I could fancy that my "wavelength" was that of a high school senior. Apparently no more. Although ... it wasn't the "youthful" stuff that got me. In fact, there's not a lot that's especially TEEN about this puzzle. Maybe KEL, but honestly, original "Kenan & Kel" watchers are like 30 now. No, the stuff that got me was, like, ORR (?) and DAE (??) and then the clues, dear lord. I could've stared at 1D: 15, 30 and 50 are common ones and never ever come up with SPFS. I had SPI_E and still zero idea what 9D: What may be on the horizon? wanted (SPIRE). EARL Tupper?! Jeez louise, no (21A: Tupper of Tupperware fame). NANANA and not LALALA (8D: Refrain syllables). I'M IN LOVE and not I LOVE YOU (30A: Comment from the smitten). I won't even bore you with how many different answer went into the grid ahead of POPO (15A: Law force, slangily). DOZE and then WINK before WANE (24A: Start to go out), WAKE before WAVE (24D: Aspect of hydrodynamics), and on, and on, and on. How in the world does 17: Truth we hold to be self-evident? (FACT) work? That is, how is [Truth] not enough there? How does "self-evident" come in? I get that you're evoking "...we hold these truths to be self-evident..." but ... why? I was looking for "self"-related stuff. Grr.

But the grid is, its longer parts, fantastic. So much fresh fill. Long answers cascading into each other all over the place. I think the grid was Inside Puzzledom in a way that I am not. I have less than zero interest in ESCAPE ROOMs. I don't think I even know what a PUZZLE BOX looks like. I got those answers without too much trouble, but those answers seemed to be winking at people who weren't me. The bottom half of the grid was much easier for me, with only DAE / THEELEMENTS giving me significant trouble. NEKO, gimme (53A: Indie singer ___ Case), SUBTWEET, for Sure a gimme :) (34D: Social media post that refers to another user without directly mentioning that person) ... but that whole area N and NE of BATCAVE, yikes. Disaster. Didn't love the clues on this one, but I can't fault the grid. It's lovely.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 3:07 AM  

I completed this but even Tupper's relatives have forgotten his first name. Not fair.

Thomaso808 3:31 AM  

I remember when Paulo Pasco got his first puzzle published a couple of years ago, somebody on this blog was so enthusiastic about there being a 15 year old constructor that he/she wanted to bestow a nickname or term of endearment “Popo”. That was rightfully shouted down at the time by the commentariat because it was possibly demeaning to the young man and also because of the slang term for the police. I think Paulo perhaps saw that comment and I hope he takes some delight in being the first constructor since that comment was made to get POPO in a grid!

Loren Muse Smith 4:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 4:36 AM  

@Thomaso808 – I had the exact same thought about POPO. And you notice its symmetrical counterpart is TEEN. While I’m at it, look at the symmetry of the first and last across entries: SCAT and STAY. Woulda been cool to have them reversed.

My northwest alone took longer than the whole rest of the puzzle. No idea why JEAN SHORTS took so long to get. Well, maybe the fact that my sign of availability was “no ring.”

Frankenstein’s little thingies were “knobs” before BOLTS.

Frustrating things to open:

**New lip-gloss with plastic wrap. The rage is instantaneous and magnificent. What. Are. These. People. Thinking?
**Cheap little ear bud packages. I’ve learned to go straight for the scissors.

Funny how, just as in the difference between beef/cow and pork/swine, we have DERNIER CRI/last gasp. The Germansome partners get the connotative short shrift. Ineffably cool. Unspeakably cool. Hmm.

Rex – I enjoyed your write-up. And no pangram slam. Yay.

puzzlehoarder 5:31 AM  

POPO isn't new. I recall people discussing it in the comments and I can't believe it's been three years.

This started out hard. Other than POPO I was striking out until I got to 24A. My guess was FADE and I supported it with FLOW for 24D. When I tried to confirm that W I spotted BATCAVE and the bottom 2/3s of the puzzle went in at early week speed. However that top tier pushed it right back into late week territory.

Mostly the difficulty came from DERNIERCRI. That must be something I only learned from puzzles and this is only it's second appearance under Shortz so it took me a while to remember it. Thinking the Tupperware person was female didn't help. I was probably confused by Mary Kay.

That NE section just put me in a dimwitted mood. Being dimwitted has it's place though so I managed to get some puzzlingly out of this one.

Lewis 5:55 AM  

Holy moly, so much to like in this puzzle!
2. Cross of QUAALUDE and BUZZ.
3. Very current CATALAN.
4. Our dear sports crosswordese friends OTT and ORR (okay, this was a different ORR).
5. The put-in-a-good-mood "QUE PASA, MON AMI?"
6. The cross of RIB and I'M IN LOVE, where I immediately thought of Adam.
7. We almost had SCAT over POOP.
8. Best of all -- POPOGAGANANANA.

Charles Flaster 6:17 AM  

Terrific cluing and answers. My DNF was refusing to change dAtE to WANE. Did change to MON AMI From MadaMe.
Best clue was for ACREAGE.
Did not cotton to JEAN SHORTS.
Thanks PP

Passing Shot 6:40 AM  

This, at least, makes up for the disaster of the Ms a few days ago. Lots of fun, few hiccups. “Daisy dukes” before JEAN SHORTS. Thank goodness for the recent appearance of DERNIER CRI or this would have been much harder.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

Mike - The decline of your crossword skills can be directly attributed to your intense TDS.

BarbieBarbie 7:08 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Round and round and round, so many things I didn’t know but ground out ultimately with the crosses, so many cool answers. DERNIERCRI was one of my gimmes. No idea why.
My only mental stumble was a refusal to believe in TORENT. For me it’s “to let”or “for rent.” But I finally inserted the hybrid, and voila.
Northeast corner was by far the hardest. It was also the seed for the puzzle, according to Wordplay.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

Started out like a Saturday. After SCAT at 1A, got nothing else until BATCAVE at 32A.

Finished up like a Tuesday. Once I got a few words in, everything fell very quickly.

POPO is one of those terms I’ve never heard except in crosswords – classic ESE.

Yesterday just missed a pangram. Today got there.

Oldies music layering with ELO, RADIO GAGA, and (Friday) IM IN LOVE

Glimmerglass 7:26 AM  

OTT and ORR both wore #4. Nice puzzle, interesting review. I can’t help feeling that OFL would really love crosswords if he’d just turn off the damn clock.

TomAz 7:38 AM  

Cool puzzle for all the reasons @Lewis named, plus NEKO! It makes me happy to see that she is crossword-worthy (I don't recall seeing her previously).

This played above-average hard for me, but I enjoyed it a lot. EARL Tupper be damned.

In the post-LP, pre-iTunes/Spotify era (stretching roughly, for me, from 1985 to 2005), I would buy a lot of CDs. I always found the plastic wrap around the plastic jewel cases on new CDs irritating. Jump in the car from just having bought the newest NEKO Case album, and want to pop it in to listen on the way home, and.. damn.. c'mon.. @#$*.. often I had to resort to using my car keys to scratch at the wrap to get it to budge.

When I see Paulo Pasco's name, my brain goes to Pablo Picasso, and now I have that Modern Lovers song stuck in my head. Which is not such a bad thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejmE-F3EJyQ

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

+1 for Daisy Dukes

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

I took comic books in college so I nailed 32A. Of course I'm currently living with my parents, and using their NYT crossword subscription, so I guess I should have thought that one through a little more.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  


Two Ponies 8:31 AM  

Wow, that is a whole bunch of proper names, my least favorite answers.

Did enjoy The Elements. That is an odd way to describe weather now that I think about it.

Layer is always a fork in the road. A chicken laying eggs or a coat of paint as we see today. Intersecting strati too.

Is W.W.E. popular with the crossword crowd? Cena who?

Crossing "slang" with "in brief" at 15A and 3D only fair late in the week.

Rockie in the singular is funny looking.

Quaalude was a surprise. They still prescribe them?

I hate opening a new bottle of ketchup, ready to squirt in on my burger only to have to stop, unscrew the top, and pry off than inner seal. Spoils the whole rhythm. All because of that damned psycho and the Tylenol. Oh well, it was bound to happen anyway.
Ditto on the CD wrappers as well.

QuasiMojo 8:33 AM  

I guess I'm in the minority today. I found this puzzle depressingly lackluster even though I beat my record for a Friday solve (as if I care, but I thought Rex might like to know.) Not only was it too easy for a Friday but the answers were bland and the clueing oddly flat. "Start to go out." "Point in the kitchen." "Tries to nip." You are feeling sleepy... very sleepy... which reminds me that QUAALUDE, once used in hypnosis, is a brand name for a sedative and it was discontinued in the US in 1985.

I wanted ESCAPE FILM for breakout entertainment. I have no idea what an "escape room" is. DERNIER CRI was a cinch. Answers like "Que Pasa" might be amusing to others on here, but they feel pointless to me. Same with "I mean to say." "bites at" even "I'm in love." Nothing but long filler. And SUBTWEET is au courant I suppose but it is another example of the NYT puzzle trying to be contemporary just for the sake of being contemporary.

I may be wrong but I recall that the term was always "JEANS SHORTS" or Jeans Jacket. Jean means nothing. The term "jeans" refers to the fabric, the denim. It has always been called JEANS. But I see now that the term "Jean" has replaced this in ads and elsewhere.

And I thought CAR KEYS were going the way of the DODO.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

I started out with SCAT and JEANSHORTS thinking I was going to zip through. Erased the Shorts When I KNEW IT that 12D had to be BRONCO. It sucks when you're so sure of BRONCO that you get completely stuck. When I googled Mr Orr from countyTyrone, I got back on track. Otherwise I'd still be in the NW all day long. I also think it's funny that he had two ORRs in there--I had no idea that Mel Ott was also # 4--got me and probably GOTYE

Jamie C 9:04 AM  

In high school a friend of mine won the prize for best Halloween costume for showing up as an M & M. Joke was on them: he was actually dressed as a Quaalude!

QuasiMojo 9:04 AM  

P.S. I said "I may be wrong," and I was right, at least about that. I have since learned that "JEAN" is an appropriate term for the fabric. My bad. Sure wish I could fit into mine.

Two Ponies 9:04 AM  

I do like puzzles that teach me things.
However, now that I just looked up Popo and Escape Room I think I need to rephrase the first sentence.
I like puzzles that teach me useful and interesting things.

Carolynne 9:08 AM  

I loved it. One of the most enjoyable puzzles I’ve done in a while.

Popo was my first gimme in the grid. (Ke$ha, anyone?)

I had ear buds for car keys. My husband loses his way more often than his car keys.

Loved the long fill — Subtweet, Quaaludes, Jean Shorts (We used to call them “jorts”, is that still a thing?)

Z 9:18 AM  

Any puzzle with NEKO Case in it is going to get a thumbs up from me. Elvis Costello is still at the top of my personal list of all-time great artists, but she's right there both for her individual work and her stuff with The New Pornographers. Although, I might have picked this song for the current moment if I were Rex.

Aside from my NEKO admiration, I loved this puzzle but I suspect it might get more negative reaction as the day goes on. First, the PPP is high, 24/72 for 33% (although I could argue that it's "only" 23/72, so below the 33% mark), but beyond that this is very current, I count 6 more clues that are very much of the youth culture. Fine by me, but NYTX solvers skew the other direction. Finally, what seems to me to be a more than typical amount of foreign language and names, DERNIER CRI, Kim DAE-Jung, MON AMI, CATALAN. That's 9 more potentially problematic clues for people. So I will completely understand if some of the commentariat is less than charitable about the puzzle. I loved it, but it was also all the youthful (i.e. under 30) culture that is in my wheelhouse.

@Anon3:07a.m. - Nice one.

@Thomas808 & @LMS - Nice catch on POPO and the POPO/TEEN symmetry. I'm betting that it is an intentional Easter Egg.

Mohair Sam 9:22 AM  

I fall somewhere between Quasi (8:33) and the rest of y'all on this one. Thought it was a good puzz, played medium here, but the cluing seemed too vague in spots and the PPP in some cases just too distant - even for a Friday (I accept that I won't know a NEKO on a Friday, but EARL?).

Hand up for ORR before OTT before ORR filled, if you know what I mean - thought having them both was clever. Oh, is that what 'LUDEs were for? Didn't know arena rock songs came with titles - I can sing a lot of Queen lyrics, but can't name a-one. Joan BAEZ in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - what's next, Garth Brooks ensconced as a Jazz Legend?

Love rodeo, so BARRELRACE a gimme off the R in RAJ. Finally - how could Rex not know the chorus from "Land of a Thousand Dances" (8D)? What it this world coming to?

Generic Solver 9:25 AM  

I'm somewhat shocked that POPO made it into this puzzle, as it is often considered a derogatory term describing the police. But then again, this is the New York Times, where the principles of acceptable journalism seem to change daily.

mmorgan 9:31 AM  

Similar to Rex, the bottom half fell quickly for me and I struggled up top. Finally convincing myself to take out TRALAS at 8D really helped a lot. I don't know what an ESCAPEROOM is, and I expected it to be wrong, but there you go.

ColoradoCog 9:37 AM  

I spent (literally) twice as long cracking the NE stack as I did on the entire rest of the puzzle. I was on track for a personal best, but then crashed and burned up there. Eventually solved (go ROCKIEs!), but not until I was a bit over my average. Good puzzle.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Enjoyed this one a lot and had to work hard in certain places. I spent as much time on the P in the SPFS/POPO cross and the G in the RADIO GAGA/ACREAGE cross as the rest of the puzzle put together. Yes, I know ACREAGE is easy when you have ACREA-E, but I had to run the alphabet. It looked sort of like a DOOK to me. Don't ask. But I do think it's harder to see word patterns in Downs than in Acrosses. Then, I come here to find out that not only is POPO a well-known term for the police (not to me, everyone!), but that it was used in another NYT puzzle not that long ago. I don't remember it, but then as Nora Ephron said: I remember nothing.

I was sure it was TRA-LAS at 8D and was therefore tempted to erase WANE at 24A. So when DERNIER CRI came in, I almost jumped for joy. It gave me NANANA, which I think is ridiculous, but at least I got it. I never heard of ESCAPE ROOM. I assume it's some sort of game -- I'll go back and read y'all.

Is a BARREL RACE (50A) really a rodeo event that a self-respecting TEXan would do? It sounds like something for a tenderfoot at a dude ranch. A real TEXan would stick to bull riding and calf roping, right?

Hartley70 9:41 AM  

I love an evening with a glass of wine and a CHET number on the Bose. It sets the mood.

It turns out I also like him at nine am when he is one of the few names I know as I begin a Friday puzzle. This was a fun solve for me. I had a faster than average time and a bit of a struggle, my version of "breakout entertainment".

Roo Monster 9:47 AM  

Hey All !
Put me in the NE kicked-my-butt category. Holy ESE. DERNIERCRI was a big time WOE, but it seems some on here not only head of it, but know it. Wow. Wheelhouses and such. Also had bronco in for ROCKIE, because that's what it wanted, right? Plus wanting SPaRk or SPecK for SPIRE, EARL as clued, WANE as clued, ORR as clued, CHET, NA instead of LA, ESCAPEROOM, and Jeez, tough city. Had to finally Reveal Word for WANE, then just guess at last two letters, first I and first R in DERNIERCRI, and actually got the Happy Music.
Rest of puz was actually kinda easy. Liked the Q and Z's in the middle. Almost had the pangram from OTT/QUAALUDE line down.

@Thomas 808 3:31A
POPO was just in puz a few (weeks? months?) ago. I remember, because a ton of comments were saying they never heard it before. Again, Wheelhouses. I know that term well. It's been in a bunch of TV shows and movies. Just sayin. :-)

Could have crossed referenced NANANA with BATCAVE.

Liked it for the most part, NE notwithstanding.


mathgent 10:01 AM  

Very nice puzzle. @Lewis (5:55) listed the highlights well.

I looked up ESCAPEROOM. It seems to be a sort of commercial treasure hunt. Might be something fun to do. Do any of you have one in your area?

I don't like the clue for FACT. "Truth we hold to be self-evident?" I'm just noticing the question mark now. What am I missing? I like facts which Pare surprising, not self-evident.

I was amused that the constructor needed ORR and couldn't bring himself to write "Boston ice great."

FrankStein 10:07 AM  

I wanted Dame Janet BAKER in the studio. Now there was a marvelous singer.

Stanley Hudson 10:18 AM  

Count me as another NEKO Case fan. But as for Queen? Sheer Heart Attack indeed.

Sir Hillary 10:27 AM  

What a great puzzle, thankfully not in a PUZZLEBOX.

I know there's enough sports in here already, but I would have loved identical clues for ORR and OTT, as well as "Los Angeles team, familiarly" for BOLTS. Then again, I'm pissed they're not in San Diego anymore, so maybe not.

Quite the music lineup -- CHET Baker, NEKO Case, ELO, Joan BAEZ, Queen. And that's just the stuff clued as such -- there's also Nat King COLE, EARL Klugh, TEX Ritter, TONY Bennett, Benjamin ORR (deceased ex-CAR) and Ella's wonderful SCATting.

NANANA, hey hey, goodbye.

Sir Hillary 10:31 AM  

Oh, and Alicia KEYS.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

@ Nancy, Barrel racing is a very real rodeo event. Challenging for both horse and rider, exciting to watch. Do a quick youTube search if you are curious. There are some very talented women racers.
I had a palomino that was a barrel racer and when a visitor asked to ride him I always cautioned them that if they wanted him to turn he would do it on a dime so be ready!

Brett 10:45 AM  

Top half was tough. It didnt help that I confidently threw down “new hotness” for “the latest thing”.

How is “tony” high-class?

geoff 10:48 AM  

Bobby Orr also had his Bruins #4 retired. That was my first guess.

GHarris 10:48 AM  

Holy cow, I actually finished this one strictly without help and though Rex says he is beginning to feel out of it I’m twice his age. NE was the sticking spot but once I changed Bronco to Rockie it all began to fall into place. Last letter in was the first p in popo. Nancy, my guess on escape room is at conferences where the participants reconvene in smaller discussion groups (could be wrong)

Brett 10:53 AM  

@mathgent escape rooms are great. I’ve done quite a few in San Diego. There are some crappy ones out there - ones that are as unsatisfying as doing a crossword from a book you bought at the supermarket, with ill thought out clues and no self consistency.

So do your research but don’t blindly trust yelp - there are people out there who don’t know good puzzle construction and leave glowing reviews of supermarket quality escape rooms.

Luckily even the crappy ones are a bit of fun. It’s just that the good ones are miles above the rest.

geoff 10:58 AM  

"Tony" is in my dictionary, and that's the only meaning it has, Brett, except that it can be used ironically, say, as in "Rhinestones are so tony".

Hungry Mother 11:02 AM  

If I had spelled ACREAGE correctly, I would have had it. DNF.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

In 4 days Alabama will elect a pedophile to the United States Senate.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 11:06 AM  

Apparently Brett hasn’t caught up to Google.

geoff 11:09 AM  

mathgent, I think the question mark is because the phrase is lifted from the US Declaration of Independence, but the word "fact" is not used. At the same time, facts represent themselves and are thus "self-evident".

Malsdemare 11:11 AM  

My grands and I did an ESCAPEROOM this summer and had a fabulous time. For those who don't know, you are locked in a room and given an hour to find the clues which allow you to get out "alive." Our room was the Oval Office and we had to find a bomb set to go off in an hour. Yeah, I had trouble getting motivated until the kid at the desk told me that the occupier of said office could be a man or woman of my choosing. The kids and I failed, but unearthing the clues, and figuring out how they allowed us to unlock one piece of the puzzle was great fun. Anyone enjoying a good Saturday puzzle here must like unraveling clues; i highly recommend the experience.

I finished the puzzle in a respectable time — not that I really care, but if it takes TOO long, I get impatient; I need a reward occasionally to stay motivated. Didn't have to google any of the names which is a real feat for me. The NW was the last to fall and it took a Hail Mary insertion of FACT to get me a toehold. The F and S gave me SPFS, which led me to SCAT and then to COAT, and, finally, I saw APCREDIT. Voila! Done. Terrific clues and answers. Well done, Paolo.

A personal note: I've been gone a while. It turned out that Auggie, the three-legged puppy, had more skeletal problems than were initially evident, and as he grew, he began to have brief but horrific episodes of pain. When It became clear we couldn't fix any of it, my vet came to the house and, with him cuddled in my lap, sent him on his way. It's amazing how deeply a dog you've had for four months can become a necessary part of your life. We miss him horribly.

Masked and Anonymous 11:15 AM  

@RP: Agree. Luvly grid. QUAALUDE SUBTWEET PUZZLEBOX. Says it all.

staff weeject pick: DAE. The dreaded semi-obscure name-piece. U could tell M&A that the Nobelist's name was Kim KEL-jung, and fooled him easily. But, always good to try and learn new stuff, U know. (yo, @SUBTWEET & ALGREN)

Lost precious nanoseconds in the NE corner. No other big ornery problems, other than the QUA?LUDE/CAT?LAN crossin was a bit tense. Sorta wanted A for CAT?LAN, but kinda wanted I for QUA?LUDE. Wrote an "AI" in the box, and moved on.

Thanx for the extended fun, Mr. Pasco. BAT CAVE BITE SAT. [Or … BITES AT BAT CAVE, etc.] Primo middle row, anyhoo.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Malsdemare 11:20 AM  

@Nancy. My grand niece is a BARREL RACER. She just had her THIRD concussion (she's seventeen) and they're not sure she'll be allowed to ride again. Apparently, Texas high school students are too cool for helmets. Show jumpers, dressage, hunt seat, cross-country, everyone else wears a helmet, but rodeo? The one place where staying on your horse is a real test? Nope.

Our twin cities (total pop. Wihtout college students, 150,000) have two venues for ESCAPE ROOMS, each with 4-5 rooms of varying difficulty. We've only tried one. We'll do another this holiday when everyone's here.

Lewis 11:24 AM  

@tomaz -- Neko appeared in the NYT puzzle just once before in May of 2014.
@malsdemare -- So sorry about Auggie; my heart is with you.

Kristi Siegel 11:24 AM  

Frankenstein is the DOCTOR, not the creature/monster. Could we get this right???

The Clerk 11:25 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle, great misdirects.

Go Democrats 11:30 AM  

That must be why I thought it the sedative had to be ketamine or propofol. Both of which fit in the space.

jberg 11:36 AM  

@Malsdemare, my sympathy. We had our dog about 3 months when we learned that she had come to us with heartworm. I think she's cured now (so does the vet), but it was heart-wrenching for a while there. (I should add that the shelter we got her from had given her a preventive pill right away, but apparently the worms were already growing, but not yet detectable.)

I must be getting old, I didn't notice the pangram until I read @Loren. I really like them, too.

@Tomaz, thanks for the Modern Lovers link. A friend of mine is campaigning to make "Road Runner" the official rock song of Massachusetts, but I hadn't known their other work.

As others said, some of the cluing is a little forced (esp. 33A), but the long answers are nice, and I love the little Z triangle.

Nancy 11:49 AM  

Thanks to @Two Ponies and @Malsdemare for letting me know that the BARREL RACE in rodeo is a truly rough and dangerous pursuit that's indulged in by only the bravest (and perhaps most foolhardy) men and women. I may have been confusing it with the sort of BARREL RACE where a handful of not-very-young, not-very-athletic, mostly naked people clothe themselves in wood barrels and stumble awkwardly and not especially swiftly towards a finish line that's mercifully not too far away. @Malsdemare -- I hope that your grand-niece recovers completely from her concussion, and that in the future she will wear a helmet. @Two Ponies: It sounds like you owned one of the great horses in the history of horsedom.

At some point -- when they stop the wretched hammering right on this wall that I'm sitting in front of -- I will go to YouTube and watch a rodeo version of BARREL RACING. I love dangerous sports, just as long as I'm not the person who's engaging in them.

Bill Feeney 11:58 AM  

I think The Hecks on “The Middle” did an escape room with Mike loving it as much as he loves anything out of his routine.

Hartley70 11:59 AM  

@Malsdemare, my heart aches for your pup, but the Mid-West escape room sounds awesome! I thought they were exclusive to the LA experience.

GILL I. 11:59 AM  

Oooof. POPO Pasco always makes me sweat. By the way, @Two Ponies, I only know where POPO comes from because, as others pointed out, there was a long discussion of the word being pejorative. It's not really. The word evidently originated in Southern California sometime in the 80's. The police would patrol in twos on a bike on the beaches. On the back of their vests would be the word PO. Standing side by side, they became the PO PO. Fun, huh?
Never heard of ESCAPE ROOM. Why, dear lord, did I want to fit FLASH MOB in somehow. I could not get that out of my head. I even had a good story to go with it had it been correct. Somebody, please use FLASH MOB sometime soon.
Another ooof was PUZZLE BOX. What the tarnation was that? My husband can hear me miles away when I try to open anything that's made in China. Where do they get that plastic that takes a TNT fuse to blow it open. Is this a secret weapon? Does North Korea know about this?
@Nancy...I,too, wanted calf roping. They are going to outlaw it soon or maybe it's the rodeos that think it's fun to grab a calf by the tail and swing it around. Can't remember which. Anyway...@Two Ponies is right about the BARREL RACE being pretty durn hard. If you have a good horse, it can turn on a dime. You have to have strong legs to hold on and a strong back - else you get thrown easily. Cowgirls only wear cowboy hats - none of that sissy helmet stuff!
CATALAN was easily plunked in. It has to be one of the ugliest languages to hear. It's a mixture of Spanish, French and Portuguese. If you speak any of those languages, you can pretty much understand it. No wonder Franco banned it!
What may be on the horizon? Well, it my world the answer was STORE as in What's in store for you, mate? SPIRE, that's what.
I did like, for a change, the ORR OTT ELO trio because that was an easy entry.
BAEZ sings through her nose.
@Malsdemare: SOB. Nothing brings a tear to my eyes as quickly as a sick child or a puppy that has to leave us. There is a puppy heaven, though.

old timer 12:03 PM  

Here I was about to complain about ESCAPEROOM (I had "film" first) and lo and behold it is a real thing and something bloggers here have done. DNF because I could not figure out the NE segment without looking up the subway guy. Plus I thought KEL was Kal, and refused to accept TO RENT which no sign ever said. It is "for rent" or "to let" IMO.

The rest of the puzzle was tough but fair. As was the NE if I had only heard of ESCAPE ROOMs as an entertainment. I thought an ESCAPE ROOM was built into the house of someone who feared being the victim of a robbery.

Grant 12:12 PM  

Got lucky with JEAN SHORTS, or I would have been in never nude trouble

Nancy 12:14 PM  

@Malsdemare -- I missed your first post, and I am so deeply sorry about your loss. I know just how much you loved that three-legged puppy. I love @GILL's last sentence, though. It's certainly the only heaven where I'd want to be!

BarbieBarbie 12:46 PM  

Escape roooms are everywhere, generally in strip malls.
BAEZ doesn't sing through her nose any more than most Irish Tenors do, and usually much less, and many people love listening to ITs. So, within the OK range. Way less than your typical melismaniac.

kjvg 1:08 PM  

RE: feeling your age?
Could be worse- you could, like me, actually remember the musical « Mame »

DavidL 1:18 PM  

I didn't know (thanks @Quasimojo) that QUAALUDEs were discontinued in 1985. When I was on college in the early 80s, they were all the rage - a non-addictive recreational drug that delivered a great buzz, without all the mess.

Charley 1:29 PM  

Yesterday had the wrong school for Kentucky Wildcats. Today the team that plays in Mike High Stadium is the Broncos, not the Rockies. Maybe sports not the constructors’ thing?

Teedmn 1:33 PM  

Ha, @Thomaso808 and @LMS, I shared the same thought upon seeing POPO vis-a-vis Paolo Pasco. It was certainly a thing at the time.

From SPFS, I put SCAT down for 1A but then decided it could be Shoo. Would hOAr be considered a layer? (2D) I was glad to come back and fill that in correctly as COAT.

Did they have any Christmas references in the musical, fAME? I didn't think so, MON AMI. Other than those, everything was either easy or crossable so a medium Friday at my average time. Thanks, PP!

Mohair Sam 1:38 PM  

@Mals - Sympathies from Lady M and me. Just paid a last visit to a grand-dog (12-year-old golden) the other day. So hard to lose them.

GILL I. 1:42 PM  

@Barbie B...BEG to differ. Listen to BAEZ sing Amazing Grace then turn around and listen to The 4 Tenors. She has a nice trill voice but to my ear it's piercing and nasally. El Divo is pure heaven.

Mona 1:48 PM  

I loved all but the NW -- a huge struggle for me to get DERNIERCRI and ESCAPEROOM. And ACREAGE was a big "doh" for me.

GeezerJackYale48 1:58 PM  

The clue made no mention of a stadium.

Sir Hillary 2:19 PM  

Methinks Charley is pulling our collective leg.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

Hmmm. As a resident Old, I can assure you ketamine is foremost a disassociative. Propofol can easily kill you, ala Michael Jackson.
As for ‘Ludes, originally created as a lower side-effect answer to barbiturates, it became what was perhaps the most dangerous party drug ever. Can you believe people were taking them and NOT going to bed (to sleep)?? Personally knew several people who died behind the wheel. Good riddance to this drug.

Bob Mills 2:49 PM  

Is JEAN SHORTS Will Shortz' long-lost, black-sheep daughter?

Blue Stater 2:49 PM  

In what variety of English, pray, is the singular of "Rockies" ROCKIE? Can anyone give us a citation for that form and meaning? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Ethan Taliesin 3:15 PM  

Easy for you because JEANS SHORTS, right?

Nancy 3:16 PM  

So I went to YouTube and watched some BARREL RACING. There were 4 cowgirl videos on YouTube before I even got to the first BARREL RACE with cowboys in it. Is this a female rodeo specialty? Anyway, the gals were terrific. This strikes me as not as dangerous as horse jumping events -- which women seem to excel at too, btw -- but plenty dangerous enough. And I was wondering about the strategy involved. All the riders slow down when going around the barrel, and it seems that the closer they stay to the barrel, the more they have to slow down. So, if you give some ground and make a wider turn, you'll be covering a longer distance, but you'll be able to go faster. Is that a good tradeoff? Should you make a wider turn? Just curious.

Mohair Sam 3:33 PM  

@Blue Stater - I'm guessing that if you're a member of the Colorado Rockies you are a Rockie and not a Rocky. But I am guessing. In your first season you'd therefore be a Rockie Rookie. No, you'd be a Rockies' rookie. You raise an interesting point. Hmmmm.

@Nancy - Wow, I've been to several rodeos and never given BARREL RACING as much thought as you have. I just figured the women involved are incredible horsemen (persons?) and those animals are damned well trained. I'll let the pros give you the strategies and sit back and learn myself. Fun to watch though, isn't it?

Thomaso808 4:32 PM  

@mathgent, you have a really good ESCAPEROOM right there in SF at the Palace of Fine Arts called the Palace Games. I did it last year with my kids at a family reunion. We had a lot of fun. I highly recommend it, especially if you have some young adult family members with you. I learned a lot about my kids that day, all good!

Kimberly 4:37 PM  

Far be it for me to try to force self-examination onto anyone, but sometimes when something we love starts to turn into something that frustrates us, we might want to reconsider how we are looking at it.

Perhaps “time to solve” is not the only way you could measure enjoyment of a crossword puzzle. Yes, being one of the fastest solvers can feed our egos and lord knows there’s an entire culture dedicated to it. But is “time to solve” really the only element of a crossword that makes it enjoyable? I’m not saying that the value isn’t there, but perhaps it’s not the only value, or even the highest. It might even be a distraction... a detour from the real pleasure.

Perhaps you can find another way to enjoy these puzzles...after all, they are so delightfully multi-dimensional. Otherwise you might find yourself becoming permanently embittered and unable to enjoy something you used to love. I think a lot of us would feel sad if you got to that point. And please recognize that letting go of the competitive element not compromise. It’s just a matter of maturing your perceptions.

When you think about it, many things, culturally speaking, have been damaged by the introduction of the speed-competition element. Remember when debate was actually intelligent discourse and listening to one could be enlightening? Remember when chess was a well-thought-out and mutually beneficial exercise in long-term strategic thinking? Both of these activities have somehow been cheapened by the introduction of the race race race to the finish. Many of the delights of crossword solving get lost in speed as well.

Maybe it’s time to stop trying to be the king, and advance on to the next evolution by becoming the Zen Master of crosswords. Find the beauty again, at a higher level of perception.

Nancy 5:09 PM  

You are so right, @Kimberly (4:37). I've been saying for as long as I've been on this blog that racing to solve a crossword puzzle as fast as you can makes as much sense to me as seeing how quickly you can scarf down a lobster dinner or how fast you can guzzle a glass of 1959 Chateau Lafite.

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

Nancy-- perfect. Tempus fugit. Relax, enjoy

semioticus (shelbyl) 5:36 PM  

If today's puzzle were also bad, I'd have SUBTWEETed so hard you don't even know.

Fill: After 2 days of shitty fills, Paolo Pasco barged in a with a full can of Febreze and sprayed it all over! If you can stack QUAALUDE on PUZZLEBOX, spread around some DIAZ and BUZZ and BAEZ and that area feels smooth as silk, you deserve all the credit in the world. Some glue here and there, including but not limited to AMT DAE ESE, but hey, if you're gonna have ORR, at least have OTT too so that it won't feel cold and lonely. Also, if you have to absolutely use an abbrev., GOVT is perfectly fine (that's how I write it down when I have to take fast notes). I'm still not over ESTAB from last week geez. And what a balance of short and long answers.

Theme/Long answers: JEANSHORTS NINJASTARS ESCAPEROOM I mean they're almost all delightful. BARRELRACE and DERNIERCRI are not my favorites, and THEELEMENTS gave me some trouble surely, but in terms of Scrabble value and freshness they sure do the trick. 20/25

Clues: "Breakout entertainment?" was good, genuinely smiled at "You're about to be photographed!" but the rest was not as sparkly as one would expect from either a Friday puzzle or Pasco himself. SUBTWEET was a missed opportunity, EARL's clue was definitely not necessary etc. It felt too trivia-y once again. 16/25

Pleasurability: Well, this was a delight to solve ... except for NE corner. Granted, I always confuse Detroit and Denver and that's totally on me, but even without that mistake DERNIERCRI, NANANA et al made things hard there. I guess I was also slower than usual today, so I won't solely blame the puzzle but this could've been much more pleasurable. But any puzzle that reminds me of "The Wire" (POPO!) and just makes me stare at it in admiration deserves a high enough grade. 19/25

GRADE: B+, 4/5 stars.

P.S.: "I completed this but even Tupper's relatives have forgotten his first name. Not fair." What a delightful comment #1.

Jeff 6:17 PM  

As with others, the NE kicked my butt. Alexander ORR, Kenan & KEL and EARL Tupper weren’t names in my mental Rolodex, I really enjoyed all the music stuff (RADIOGAGA, Joan BAEZ, CHET Baker, NEKO Case, ELO). Fun fact, Queen is the only rock band that had multiple #1 hits penned by each of its members, including Roger Taylor’s “Radio Ga Ga.”

OISK 6:44 PM  

I finished it despite never having heard of Kel, only vaguely having heard of Chet Baker, never heard the phrase "jean shorts," never heard of Neko case, or Radiogaga, can think of only one song with "na na na," hate Star Wars clues (Jedi knight??), never saw POPO outside the puzzle, ...but I finished! Awarding my self four Ninja stars.

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

Roy Moore accuser admits she forged part of yearbook inscription. Oops. Even NYT and NPR are reporting.

Joe Dipinto 6:59 PM  

@Rex -- A "truth" we hold to be self-evident is a FACT. A "truth" we hold not to be evident at all is an ALTERNATIVE FACT.

Ando 8:11 PM  

DERNIERCRI is one of those terms that if you don't know it you figure just has to be wrong. I was surprised when I filled in the last letter and got a Congratulations.

Larry Gilstrap 8:25 PM  

We use SCAT to identify animals in the area.

Anonymous 8:34 PM  

I am surprised at the puzzle creator and at Will Shortz. In the novel " Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley the characterr Viktor Frankenstein was a doctor obsessed with creating a living being by connecting parts of dead bodies. The monster he created may have had bolts holding him together, but a "Frankenstein costume" would be a surgeon's apron of the time for his laboratory. Maybe they haven't read the book. It's only been out for several centuries.
K. Conway

Joy2u 8:58 PM  

@kjvg 1:08 PM - some things just NEVER get old. MAME for example:
Open a new window
Open a new door
Travel a new highway
That's never been tried before

Dernier Cri is a FRENCH word
That I never have heard
in my almost 80 years
It brought me near to tears.

Anonymous 9:59 PM  

@Anon 8:34 If you go into a Halloween costume shop and expect a lab coat when you ask for a Frankenstein costume, you will be sorely disappointed. The illiterate masses all associate the name with the monster not the doctor. Those masses far outnumber the literate few.

Anonymous 10:47 PM  

@Anon 9:59
Sort of like CNN earlier today. They can't tell the difference from 9/4/16 from 9/14/16 and try to accuse Don Jr. of collusion. It doesn't fit their template. FACTS don't matter to the "illiteratea".

Anonymous 11:04 PM  

Possibly "illumin-not-I"? Punny!!!

Anonymous 12:43 AM  


Randall Clark 1:29 AM  

First Friday DNF in ever. Had DERNIE__RI, RO__IE, and _EL. Never heard of deniercri, rockie, or kel. Was just stuck as could be, had no good guesses even, had to reveal puzzle. Major bummer.

MJ Walker 11:35 AM  

I thought the clue for DERNIER CRI somewhat misleading. My first thought after seeing DER was DERNIER since no English word starts with der and all the crosswords I have encountered give some hint to a word in a foreign language. Une tristesse.

Kimberly 12:30 PM  

“...no English word starts with der”


Oh you mean of that length?


I assume you meant no suitable words you could think of. Because that was a pretty broad and confident definitive statement

Kevin Denelsbeck 6:47 PM  

Guess I need to read these comments more, because I had never heard of POPO as a police synonym, nor had I ever heard of DERNIER CRI. Had no idea that POPO was off so I was cycling through random letters trying to get DERNIER CRI (and the puzzle) done, with no success until I finally just Checked the whole puzzle. Yeek, not a good time on a Friday.

Marlon 7:18 AM  

interesting post

Sloaka 8:18 AM  

I liked this puzzle from RADIOGAGA and south. Competent clues and interesting answers. And then I hated it north of our Queen song. Mostly because I'd never heard DERNIERCRI before. And therefore no confidence in any attempts at the downs. I did manage to get CRI at the end, and then.....wha?? How can something end in CRI?
I protest the "truth we hold to be self-evident" clue. Clearly evoking the DoI, but the answer FACT is just, well, wrong. New to me: MAME, spelling of QUAALUDE, EARL tupper, ORR.

Grade: B-

Burma Shave 11:43 AM  


the FACTs and THELEMENTS thereof,


rondo 12:18 PM  

Didn’t write it in, but counted the spaces and “Daisy Dukes” would fit for JEANSHORTS; only left the S, good thing. Finished with the last R in ORR since I knew not DERNIERCRI. NEKO Case a gimme.

TOOLATE to ESCAPE THEELEMENTS around here. 35 degrees yesterday when I got up, minus 12 this morning.

No doubt about yeah baby Cameron DIAZ. Gimme.

Decent Fri-puz, that’s a FACT.

spacecraft 12:44 PM  

Quite a bit easier than I thought this would be, at first. I regret not watching the RRHOF show. Well...no, I don't. Those things can be a bear to sit through. But it woulda helped today. Started in the SW and spread like wildfire. The NW was again the last and toughest, with POPO a really stupid-sounding but recognizable slang term. Back in the day, we had much more fun terms, like "the fuzz."

Again we have a pinched-off grid, with very narrow passages between the NW/SE halves. Could make it tough to get around. Please step forward, Cameron DIAZ, and don your DOD sash: IMINLOVE. Birdie.

spacecraft 1:18 PM  

P.S. Welcome to new poster Sloaka!

thefogman 1:38 PM  

I had to think outside the PUZZLEBOX to solve this one. But solve I did. I pretty much agree with Rex's comments up above so there's no need PARROT him. DERNIERCRI only came to me as a result of my knowledge of French. I don't think it is clued in a fair manner because there is no indication at all that is a language other than English. I would rate this as a challenging Friday puzzle. Tricky yes, but somewhat lacking in the fun department.

rondo 4:24 PM  

Yes, what @spacey said re: @SLOAKA. I will also offer a laurel and hearty handshake. Welcome!

Diana, LIW 6:17 PM  

Hi @Sloaka - welcome aboard the Starship Synderprize.

I bet @Rainy knows DERNIERCRI - for once we aren't inundated with sports trivia.

A relatively painless Friday por moi.

Tonight Mr. W and I go to see the Rex Parker of comedy - that's right, Lewis Black. Bwa ha ha. Er, chortle?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and sarcastic hilarity

rainforest 6:42 PM  

So much to like in this puzzle. Somewhat easy for a Friday, but many great entries.
I join everyone in welcoming @Sloaka to Syndicate City - nice place to hang around for a while. Pull up a chair.

@Lady Di - as a matter of fact I did know DERNIER CRI, but I have no idea why you said so. I take it as a compliment.

POPO my last entry. Sound like something that wouldn't pass the breakfast test.

Diana, LIW 7:18 PM  

Monsieur de la @Rainy - vous habitez au Canada, n'est-ce pas?

Lady Di

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