Longtime CNBC commentator Ron / FRI 5-18-18 / Annual meteor shower in October / Lying flat on one's back in yoga / Modern land in ancient Sasanian empire

Friday, May 18, 2018

Constructor: Ryan McCarty

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (Easy except for that NE corner, which is treacherous) (5:46)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: Ron INSANA (1D: Longtime CNBC commentator Ron) —
Ron Insana (born March 31, 1961) is a reporter for Market Score Board Report with Ron Insana, syndicated by Compass, and a Senior Analyst and Commentator at CNBC. He was Managing Director of Insana Capital Partners from inception to collapse. He was the anchor of CNBC's "Street Signs", which aired weekdays during stock market hours. Until December 5, 2003, he and Sue Herera co-anchored CNBC's then flagship nightly financial news program, Business Center. (wikipedia)
• • •

[Note: today's constructor may have built his word list himself, or even constructed this puzzle totally unaided by software, for all I know—but I'm about to go off about purchased word lists and improperly managed constructing software anyway, on general principle] [Don't worry: I actually liked the puzzle]

Control your word lists, people. I know some of you are spending a not-small sum buying a hefty word list from a noted constructor, but JEEZ, rein it in. OWLET MOTHS is bonkers (34A: Insects named after a small bird). It's fine that those moths are real and so they're valid blah blah blah. The point is unless you're an entomologist I don't believe you know what those are. It sounds like you're saying "outlet malls" with a mouthful of oatmeal. OWLET MOTHS looks like something you found out about when your computer told you "hey, this fits here." Mostly I'm against using stuff (esp. longer answers) you don't actually have some familiarity with yourself. Something like OWLET MOTHS just screams "computer fill." Or it shrieks it. Do owls scream or shriek? Man, "shriek" is a weird-looking word. Am I spelling that right? Anyway, the point is, outlier obscurities like this detract from your otherwise lovely grid. Computer assistance is fine—perhaps necessary for some of these grids with showier stacks—but nothing can substitute for good taste and discretion. See also INSANA, wtf. Who voluntarily puts that in their puzzle? Oh, and ASPISH. Come on.

[MOTION]

There's some clunky stuff here, like ATARUN :( and ENHALO :( but overall I found the grid pretty clean. Not exciting, but far from unpleasant. Whoa, what are HYSONS??? I'm only just now seeing this answer (I guess when PEKOES didn't fit, I just got the rest of that answer from crosses). Again, I'm calling 'Roided Word List on this answer (though I'm actually glad to learn this word, as it seems like something I should know, unlike OWLET MOTHS and INSANA). I think my mostly warm disposition toward this puzzle began with CORPSE POSE. One good answer can really do a lot to make the overall solving experience a positive one. PRIDE PARADE was probably the only other answer I actively liked (30A: Outmarch?). Oh, and BANSHEE. RARE JEWELS feels odd to me. Not sure why. Something about it just doesn't quite land. "Precious gems" seems right. RARE JEWELS sounds like a villainous pirate would use when talking of his nefarious plans. If I google ["rare jewels" treasure chest], the NYT's own puzzle blog is the first site that comes up. I like HOV / LANE as successive answers. I like the colloquiality of "JEEZ!" and "SAY WHEN..." There's more here to like than there is not to like.


It was all very easy, though. A minute faster (for me) than yesterday's puzzle. But that NE corner was almost a total disaster. I only know the PERSEIDS and LEONIDS ... so ORIONIDS was ??? Add to the confusion an erstwhile ABC sitcom I've never ever heard of (13D: "The Real ___," former ABC sitcom) (wow, it aired for A Whole Year), a [Modern land in the ancient Sasanian Empire] that I thought was OMAN, and then LIMP—dear lord, that clue (10D: Not go off without a hitch?). If you have a "hitch" in your step, you are limping? Ha ha, your disability is comical? Yikes. I spent what felt like a ton of time trying to find some four-letter synonym for ELOPE. Oh, and I almost forgot. For [Hog's squeal?] I of course had OINK. Thanks, "N" from BANSHEE! You were a ton of help [/sarcasm]. Nothing else but HYSONS and INSANA gave me any trouble. Weird to pack your difficulty into one small corner of the grid, but you do you, puzzle. I got out alive, and with a respectable time, and while I made disbelieving faces a few times, I never groaned or headdesked, so: thumbs up!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

97 comments:

Harryp 12:08 AM  

This was a real poser. I had inane at 22Across for way too long, even though my 26Across was ANNE. IM A COP at 1Across saved my bacon in that Northwest section. I had never heard, but will not forget 4Down CORPSE POSE. Thank you Ryan Mccarty, SOLVABLE it was!

Brian 12:29 AM  

Thumbs up? I love you, Michael, but this was not good. You make the argument yourself — OWLET MOTHS, INSANA, RARE JEWELS, ORIONIDS, HYSONS, AT A RUN, ENHALO ... the stair stack down the middle is fun, but any two of my list above should have been a blaring siren to refill. This is slightly bedazzled full (fake jewels), and not a good grid.

Brian 12:43 AM  

Is the plural of NOUSE nice?

puzzlehoarder 12:51 AM  

Great puzzle. Not much in difficulty but good looking and fun to solve.That NE corner did make a little bit of a final stand to push it just into the medium range. Otherwise this was easy.

It's funny that the constructor says he was inspired by a PB1 puzzle. As I was solving the resemblance was striking in the big middle stairstep made of very fresh but accessible material.

FWIW the reason I'm commenting early is the same as Tuesday night. We just had to go out to deal with a gunshot victim. I'm working 72 hours straight Tuesday through Thursday. Three different firehouses. Wednesday was my own firehouse but these other two are a little more urban. Back to sleep now.

Davis 1:11 AM  

I’ve been a tea nerd for a long time, yet somehow this is the first time I’ve seen HYSON.

And that INSANA/NOUSE crossing is a major WTF.

Davis 1:13 AM  

Doh, literally as soon as I hit post I realized I was completely misparsing NO USE as one word, which is why I choked on that. Stupid brain.

jae 1:45 AM  

Easy-medium for me too.

inane before NO USE and ADDS to before ON were my only erasures...and I was thinking of falling leaves for 31 down but swirl didn’t fit.

HYSONS was a WOE and might be a problem when crossed with a somewhat obscure definition of ARCH.

Excellent Fri., liked it a bunch.

Anonymous 1:48 AM  

Oddly enough, I breezed through the NE corner, and was on pace to set a personal record for Friday, but man, that NW corner crushed me. I had WATER TAXIS and that small 3x3 section helped get NOT ONE IOTA, but the rest was a real slog. Maybe it's a sign that I should start doing yoga - it may actually help me give the brain a workout as well!

Larry Gilstrap 1:53 AM  

Definitely some stuff here that made me go huh? Friday, Friday, can't trust that day. Despite some iffy fill, the corners fell before those big, old staggered stacks down on Main St. Out march would seem a much fairer clue for PRIDE PARADE than what was tendered. Punctuation matters.

Let's assume that somebody named Juan speaks Spanish and that somebody named Emily is a woman. I mean, it is an assumption. Recovering from surgery, so thanks for reminding me to go off without a LIMP.

Speaking of assumptions, I was thinking the UNM Mascot was a LOBO. A symbol would be that Zuni ampersand looking thing that adorns license plates, etc. in New Mexico. Sloppy cluing or am I missing something?

Speaking of beautiful destinations, ever been to Venice? Not the one near Santa Monica, which is nice, too. WATER TAXIS and WATER busses and WATER delivery boats... What a gorgeous place! I was boorish- American enough to try to jog there and the locals would step aside and applaud. Really!

Taking a break, but I'll COP to being yogic. Shavasana. or CORPSE POSE is essential to a fulfilling yoga practice, and I am very good at it. Lie on the mat, breathe, and relax the mind. An extremely valuable skill to master.

Hank 1:55 AM  

Ugh. Maybe a little easy but also a little forced.

Rarejewels is awkward
Airpops is awkward

Winemaking and banshee were good for a chuckle.

Having imacop and law together was fun.
But warstories with nam made me feel a bit sad.

Let's hope we can more than limp through future negotiations with Iran

newspaperguy 2:10 AM  

I thought this was a fine Friday puzzle. About 10 per cent under my average time, but a very solid and satisfying puzzle nonetheless. And why would anyone (other than Rex) assume that a puzzle creator might not just know what an owlet moth is? These folks (including Rex) do have superior vocabularies.

Loren Muse Smith 2:18 AM  

I agree that the northeast was killer. Didn’t help that The Real McCoys was a sitcom I used to watch (probably around the time I was watching Dragnet). I resisted writing it in, but still… not knowing LOBO or ORIONIDS didn’t help. And I didn’t know the NHL had Senators. My grandad played baseball for the Senators. Even before The Real McCoys.

@Brian – good one on the plural of nice being NOUSE. It certainly is a dook.

And speaking of grammatical inflection, I had “case” before CUSP. But I was thinking the clue was not that great. Well, duh.

ASPISH really pleased me. What a word! It has Berry immunity. That ish suffix is a personal favorite since it’s becoming its own word. Still, the possibilities…

So? Did your costume make you really look like Cher?
Meh – Cherish.

So does the almond meal look like flour?
Well, flourish.


ASPISH googles much stronger than snakish, which has appeared only once in a NYT grid – 1947. Your day is now complete.

Look. I did contribute to XWord Info – a site worth contributing to imo – so I could get this much maligned wordlist. I’m still really wobbly with Crossword Compiler, but you can set it so that it doesn’t offer ickyish words right off the bat. I just checked, and OWLETMOTHS does not appear in this list, but OWLETMOTH does. It’s rated the same worthiness score (60) as OCEAN BREEZE, EARL MONROE and OBI WAN KENOBI. (ONE AD is rated a 20.) I think you can go in and change the ratings to suit your own taste.

I’m still trying to understand where this rage at a purchased word list is coming from. It feels aimed at Chen, but I could be wrong. Again – I did pay for it, but I got the feeling the money was more of a donation to XWord Info. What about the word list that a very kind, generous mentor friend gave me for free? Is that ok? These two word lists sure were game-changers for me, a fledgling. All of the sudden I have MR BIG at my fingertips whereas before, nothing would have fit there. And this same mentor is teaching me to not accept weaker entries, again, based on their “score.”

I see the point about OWLETMOTHS feeling glue-ish, but it affords TWO PAIR, SOLVABLE, CORPSE POSE, WINE MAKING, and WATER TAXIS. And I got it effortlessly with these crosses once I changed “adds to” to ADDS ON.

Plus...I looked up an owlet moth to check it out. It’s a funny little moth and worth a look. So, thanks, Ryan. I thought this was a fine Friday puzzle.

jae 3:06 AM  

@LMS - I too was inspired to Google OWLET MOTH. I was curious to see if they looked like owls...spoiler alert...not really.

sanfranman59 3:12 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 3:46 4:24 0.86 10.3% Easy
Tue 5:24 5:26 1.00 48.1% Medium
Wed 7:49 6:07 1.28 84.6% Challenging
Thu 9:03 9:42 0.93 37.4% Easy-Medium
Fri 13:31 13:01 1.04 57.4% Medium

If INSANA (1D) hadn't emerged from the depths of my brain, I might still be working on the NW corner. I hacked away around the edges, making good guesses along the way. It was particularly satisfying that I knew ORIONIDS (11D) and I was happy that Ron INSANA brought HYSONS (54A) with him from the catacombs. I was worried about breaking into the western end of the gaping middle when SOUND MIXERS (32A) appeared and I guessed at POSE to finish off CORPSE at 4D (I don't know yoga at all). ASPISH (24D) was tough. Great clue for PRIDE PARADE (30A). I also liked the clues for LIMP (10D), MINE (18A) and WINEMAKING (27D). OWLET MOTHS (34A) conjures up an interesting image. I like answers that make me look stuff up afterwards. Lots of fun. Thanks RM.

Moly Shu 3:50 AM  

Once again the “I don’t know it so it is bad fill” monster appears. Holy Moly @Rex, give it a rest. I watched a ton of CNBC back in the day, so INSANA was a gimme and I know what OWLETMOTHS are. Maybe I should make up a word list and try to sell it.

Hungry Mother 6:57 AM  

Close to my fastest due to some wags coming from wherever.

QuasiMojo 7:30 AM  

Back when I had money to burn I used to watch CNBC. I knew INSANA instantly. INSANA (an apt name for a stock market analyst) was my first entry. I'M A COP came next, opening up a flood of memories back when people still said "Yes, Ma'am." Which reminds me, I wanted THE REAL ROYALS (sounded good to me since all you hear on the news right now is about this "historic" wedding taking place this weekend.)

I finished this puzzle in half my usual Friday time. I found it not only SOLVABLE but SUPER EASY even with the odd words. Personally I like odd words. I see nothing wrong with OWLET MOTHS even if it was purchased from a word list (whatever that is... is it really any different than using a dictionary or thesaurus? Well, yes, it is since it then narrows one's imagination rather than opening it up IMHO.)

For "HOG'S CRY" I was thinking of a Harley and wanted VROOM or some "pealing out" sound.

While I enjoyed today's outing, I must agree with the person above that OUTMARCH is not really fair play. Yes, I know, in the modern smartphonetwitterinstagramfacebooksnapchat world people don't punctuate but in a crossword puzzle it seems illegitimate to deliberately mislead by misuse of punctuation or grammar. (I would throw NO USE into that category since the answer really is technically speaking OF NO USE.)

Which reminds me! I'm growing a little WARY of this recent trend in the NYTX to make puns out of the LGBT movement. Yes, OUT is common usage in that group but it does not mean gay or proud, specifically, and therefore not interchangeable. Besides lots of straight men and women etc (family members in particular) go to Pride parades and they are not "out" so to speak. Let's keep the cutesy winking ASIDEs to other events. On top of all that a PARADE is not a MARCH.

Speaking of RARE JEWELS, I always love it when I see something listed on eBay or some other site (not SIGHT as someone confused it yesterday!) and the seller describes a piece of Depression Glass or a Shirley Temple doll as "EXTREMELY RARE!!" Well, if it was that hard-to-find it wouldn't be on eBay which makes it automatically extremely easy to find. OH, STOP!

Hungry Mother 7:36 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap: I agree about Venice. Here’s my account of a trip there: http://www.capemaybeach.org/venice.html

Odd Sock 8:09 AM  

We see Orion in lots of grids but I had no idea there was a meteor shower named in his honor as well.
Banshee has never sounded very Gaelic to me. Maybe that's why I remembered it, luckily.
Having corpse and cremate in the same puzzle seemed a little morbid.
If you want to go with the dark theme then try instead of owlet moth the insect from Silence of the Lambs. Death's-head hawkmoth.
@ QuasiMojo mentioned the upcoming royal wedding. Any bets on how long that train wreck will last? I can't imagine that it even will last as long as the ceremony. She won't be able to pull this off what with her family of tabloid fodder already crawling out of the woodwork. The whole thing is an embarrassment and cringe-worthy as it only perpetuates America's stereotype. Jeez (or is it Geez?)

mmorgan 8:17 AM  

Geez, it took me a very long time to change that G to a J!

Yes, there were some obscurities here but all gettable from crosses. Lovely puzzle!!

Teedmn 8:24 AM  

This was hard for me today, 21:25, so maybe 5 or 6 minutes over my Friday average. WoodMAKING at 27D didn't help (I know, I know, no sense at all). ADDS to added to the solve time. With Wood in 27D, I couldn't see PRIDE or SOUND. senorA before ESPOSA. Nba before NHL.

And everybody's favorite DOOK, NO USE, was _OUSE for almost two minutes (I know this because @r.alphbunker's program lets you know how long you sat and stared at a spot.) I had run the alphabet and was about to throw in an R or M or H or D or anything that would fill in _OUSE (Ron what's-his-name, INSArA, INSAmA, INSAha, INSAdA, that's INSANe, eh?) Perhaps I even said to myself, "It's NO USE", but in any case, I had one of those minor brain leaps and that N was my last entry into the puzzle.

I loved the clue for PRIDE PARADE, once I finally got it. And CORPSE POSE was cool, and new to me. I had NOT ONE IOTA of memory of Sgt. Friday saying, "I'M A COP" but now I'm beginning to think it was part of the intro to the show? Too long ago.

Ryan McCarty, nice Friday, thanks.

Wm. C. 8:30 AM  


I had no problem with Insana, I watch a lot of CNBC. A lot of the other fill (mentioned above) was "Never Hearda," though. I got ASPISH entirely from crosses, but didn't get the meaning until I came here.

WINEMAKING for "Industry filled with press releases," and PRIDEPARADE for "outmarches" were clever.

OFL's PC-ness comes through again with his moaning about a LIMP being a disability: it could be, but not necessarily.

Overall, a mixed experience for me. Some fun stuff mixed with some dreck. I guess that's what OFL said ...

Stanley Hudson 8:40 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle and the little trip down memory lane with the Siouxsie and the Banshees vid. Thanks to Ryan McCarty and to Rex.

Richard and Linda Thompson were the bomb but check out David Byrne’s cover of “Just the Motion,” found on a tribute album for Richard titled “Beat the Retreat.”

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

ONTOE was a killer for me. I’ve never heard that phrase: I’ve only ever heard “en pointe” so I kept trying for non-toe-related answers. Is “on toe” really a thing? I tried googling “on toe ballet” and it took me to “pointe.”

OldCarFudd 8:50 AM  

I go to an old folks' yoga class a couple of times a week. Most of the poses are described in English: tree, happy baby, cat and cow, downward dog, goddess, warrior. But our instructor has never called shavasana anything but that. Now I know why. I shall enjoy translating it to corpse pose next week and watching their expressions.

I have a slight limp from childhood polio. A neighbor says I have a hitch in my gitalong. I liked the clue and answer and took no offense.

mathgent 9:09 AM  

Not much fun and several annoyances. RAREJEWELS for one. If that's not green paint, I don't know what the term means. ASPISH, ATARUN, and ONTOE are some others.

"Didn't you like anything?" Well, WARSTORIES for "Things traded by veterans" was nice.

MichGirl 9:09 AM  

I started with CAMP for “not go off without a hitch”, which unfortunately worked well enough to stall that corner for me.

Bryce 9:10 AM  

INTERLEAVE for INTERWEAVE killed me. I thought, is MY LAI a morbid song? MY LAY a bawdy one? I had to sleep on it before I put in the W and realized I actually knew the song. Plus the time spent on parsing (N)OUSE--not my best time.
Some fun stuff otherwise.

Reasonablewoman 9:16 AM  

OK, so LGBT references now not OK.
@QM I suggest you practice YOGA CORPSEPOSE. Perhaps you will find it calming.

kitshef 9:24 AM  

Very tough, but yes, SOLVABLE.

I enjoyed it, but man there is a lot of questionable stuff in here. HYSONS, ZONERS, INSANA (now that's INSANe), ONEALS (as clued) GMC crossing TMC (never, ever cross initialisms), ENHALO.

On the other hand, ORIONIDS went right in and OWLET MOTHS are delightful - and I'm pretty sure have been in the puzzle before though possibly only as OWLETS.

moderation is key 9:26 AM  

you people crack me up. one person complains of never having heard of OWLETMOTH and another acts like they use the word every day. one person loves, loves, loves the puzzle, another person hated it.

maybe you should all try moderating your posts so that you all meet a little more in the middle without going out of your way to prove the other person wrong.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

I agree with most of Rex today. NE corner was brutal. I know the same meteor showers that he does, and my Spanish is beyond weak. But I Was able to deduce BANSHEE from the last three letters, and then remembered the real ONEALS once it was clear MCCOYS was wrong.

As a regular CNBC watcher, INSANA was easy once I saw the A in ANNE.

I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about both tea and yoga. HYSONS is mystery to me. I have never heard of CORPSEPOSE. It is Shavasana.
Overall time turned out average for fridays that i am able to complete

JOHN X 9:36 AM  

This was a nice puzzle and yeah that NE was my only real slow spot.

But I had to work the whole grid and I needed crosses everywhere. Nothing was a simple "gimme" except for a few seed words that got me started. On Friday and especially Saturday everything is fair game I think, including OWLETMOTHS and HYSONS, although HYSONS is pushing it. They were all crossed and gettable. Same for the NE: that became something of a mini logic test sort of, I really had to piece that together like a detective.

Hey, how about CREMATE! That was pretty raw. Yep, you can't put Grandma into an urn until you CREMATE her CORPSEPOSE. In Vietnam the crematoriums have viewing windows so the whole family can watch the coffin get fed into the oven. I know because I went to a funeral and that's how it ended and everyone acted like this was normal. There was a Buddhist funeral nearby and they had a band with a trumpets and drums like New Orleans and everyone acted normal about that too.

Did anyone have DIGITALCOMPOSITORS before SOUNDMIXERS? Me neither.

Lewis 9:49 AM  

Oh, the cluing was simply lovely, with much wit. Fine clues for LAW ("It's not damaged by being broken"), WAR STORIES ("Things traded by veterans"), and ATE ("Bolted down"). And divine clues for MINE ("Hog's squeal?"), PRIDE PARADE ("Outmarch?") and WINEMAKING ("Industry filled with press releases"). To me, this was a clinic on how to clue a weekend puzzle, bringing me pleasure after pleasure.

Danny 9:55 AM  

On toe is not a thing. No ballerina would ever say anything but on pointe (or en pointe)

Pete 10:00 AM  

Since I've been paying attention to crossword puzzles, I've always subconsciously made a note of when I suspect an entry had outside-assistance - a peek at a dictionary back in the day to see if there are any 8 letter words beginning with a given 3 letter sequence, or a computer assisted puzzle entry. Today I felt that way about OWLETMOTH - if the constructor actually knew of OWLETMOTHs it's a fine entry, if not it's a partial foul - a PED assisted homer.

@Reasonablewoman - please be reasonable. No one complained about LGBT references, they just wondered if being cutesy about the Gay Pride Parade was OK or not. I wondered. I came down on the side of OK, someone else didn't, which is fine. Doesn't make it not an issue.

Laurence Katz 10:00 AM  

You know you’ve done a lot of crossword puzzles when “Enhalo” is a gimme.

Tim Aurthur 10:05 AM  

I'm afraid the law can be damaged by being broken, if it's broken in a way that subverts the rule of law.

GILL I. 10:07 AM  

No ballet teacher worth his Francs would ever say ON TOE. Wherever ballet is studied, the names of the steps are always in French. It is the language of ballet. 5D should have been EN POINTE. I know we've had this discussion before but I guess once it passes muster, then anything goes.
I really enjoyed this puzzle. Lots of misdirect cluing. OINK was how my hog squeals and then I thought - a la lines of @Quasi - a VROOM type sound. MINE finally was mine with the Real ONEALS and not McCOYS.
Wanted to fit in KATYDIDS for the insect. I just like that name and besides it sounds like a bird and like an insect. Got the OWL MOTHS because of the easy downs.
Strangely, the only real pause was with TABU. If you happen to come upon it at say, a flea market or eBay or in your grandmother's musty cedar chest, throw it out. Or better yet, if you're in the mood to really piss someone off in the elevator, spray it all over your body. Everyone will die. It's lethal. It's bad. It could have been the WMDS Bush went looking for.
@Larry G. Yes, Venice is magical and I, too, thought of the WATER TAXIS. You jogged there? I spent my time looking for crystal and for restaurants that served Cotoletta.

jberg 10:14 AM  

Great puzzle, I thought. I was afraid 24D was going to be ASPIng, but ISH is fine with me. We had ASPER recently- so let’s keep upping the letter count on those little guys!

I put in BANSHEE right off, but then I was stuck. Thought maybe the symbol was “puma,” and went so far as asking the other 3 people in the room if they knew any other Gaelic sprits. My wife suggest Jameson, but I’d already confirmed the SHEE part. I finally saw LIMP, which gave me the rest.

My other big problem was rOUnd for 22A, “pointless.” Too clever by half.

As for the moths— no, I’ve never heard of them, but once you get the O it’s easy to work out.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Please help a newbie: what is a DOOK?

QuasiMojo 10:22 AM  

@Reasonable Woman 9:16AM, I welcome LGBT references. that was the point of my comment, but let's make the clues at least logical rather than ignorant.

John Child 10:23 AM  

Agreed that the clueing was top notch. Agreed that the NE was hard unless you knew at least two of the trivia questions there. Agreed that the rest was pretty easy.

I don’t understand where Mr Shortz draws the line between shine and dreck in themeless puzzles. That is, I can’t find it. My submissions are either clean but not sparkly enough or have lots of words to love but X, Y, and Z are unfamiliar. Sigh.

Amelia 10:27 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Took me a few minutes to get started. Always a plus. Means I'm going to have to work, something I love when solving puzzles. And isn't that how we define crunchy or whatever word you use?

I don't understand why it's a problem putting in purchased words or animals or bugs or TV shows you've never heard of. Isn't that the point? If I wanted to put answers in with my eyes closed I'd still be doing the TV Guide puzzle (I was a child.)

Why would I want the easy clue when the hard clue makes it more fun?

What's wrong with aspish? It's in the dictionary. It's cool. It's not used a lot. Nothing wrong with it.

If I had to find one thing wrong, I might not have crossed Stories with Stored. But then, I might.

I repeat. This puzzle, while not super hard, was a lot of fun. Lots of clever clueing, unusual answers, and goddamn it, I now know what an owlet moth is. I might need that information someday here on the island of Manhattan.

Z 10:31 AM  

Any Robert’s Rules of Order experts out there? That MOTION clue is bugging me. You “Call the question” when a MOTION is being debated and it’s time to vote on it. So in the way I organize the universe “calling the question” is not, itself, a MOTION. Let me be clear, I don’t think the clue is “wrong.” Just annoyingly indelicate to my sensibilities. I am not, however, a Robert’s Rules expert, so feel free to correct me if you are.

Seems like some people here want to put NOUSE in a noose. I concur.

@Moly Shu - As usual, I have a more forgiving reading of Rex’s point. If you’re a birder and so scarlet tanager, pewit, and grebe are part of your personal knowledge base, cool. If you have a collection of pinned bugs and an OWLET MOTH is a prized specimen, cool. But if you only have a word available to you because you bought a word list, not cool. I tend to agree with @LMS’s point that there’s decent enough payoff to justify the obscurity of OWLET MOTH. Not so sure about NYSON, which looks as much like a vacuum cleaner as a tea to me. “Honey, too many dead OWLET MOTHs for just a towelette. Can you bring me the NYSON?”

Anyone else think the O’NEALS clue was an attempt to avoid a “Shaq and family” clue? Hand up for mccoys messing up the NE for a long time.

Chris 10:32 AM  

Good puzzle and I learned a few things. Mostly stuff others have pointed out (CORPSEPOSE). Had to run the alphabet to get the ARCH/HYSONS cross. I knew everything else was right. My mental definition for ARCH as an adjective, which I guess I reasoned from context many years ago, was clearly not right--did not know the playful implication.

floatingboy 10:32 AM  

I most decidedly did not get the same time as RP these last two days... :(

Z 10:34 AM  

@Anonymous10:15 - A DOOK is a two-word phrase that one parses as a single word. So NOUSE is a dook because it is really supposed to be read as NO USE. DOOK -> DO OK. GOAT -> GO AT. DOOR DIE -> DO OR DIE. Etc.

Trader Jodie 10:34 AM  

Maybe you have a point with owlet moths but Ron Insana ? Seriously ? He’s the Weeb Ewbank of financial talking heads.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

@Z - I wouldn't say that's a "more forgiving reading Rex's point", it was exactly Rex's point. But @Moly Shu probably knew that in the first place.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Z: Thank you. shoulda known. Now I'll DOOK (See what i did there? Do ok?)

Nancy 10:46 AM  

Everything you can hope a Friday to be. Wonderful cluing, interesting and varied answers, no junk. I came here to check if the N at the ORIONIDS/NHL crossing was correct; it is and so I finished. Found most of it pretty to very hard and the NE almost impossible. Got the beautifully clued MINE (18A) right off the bat, but not the equally well-clued LIMP (10D); didn't know ORIONIDS or ONEALS; thought it was IRAN, but wasn't sure. I also saw WAR STORIES off just two letters -- fabulous clue, but I think I've been doing crosswords too long. Some thoughts:

What with CORPSE POSE and CREMATE, this was a rather macabre puzzle. On the other hand...

WINE MAKING and SAY WHEN were a very happy combo. Never ask me to SAY WHEN, because I may never say it.

What kind of a SET was it (17A)??? DINNER SET didn't fit. CHINA SET didn't fit. Oh. STARTER SET. Well, that's why I didn't get it! My STARTER SET is my FINISHER SET. You don't think I'm giving a dinner party for more than 4 people, do you? Actually, I'm not giving a dinner party at all. Canapes and drinks -- that's my motto.

A lovely, lovely puzzle. I'm sorry it's over.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

It's official. Rex lies about his times. I cruised through that challenging puzzle in 20 minutes. Some tough clues that I worked out fast. 5:46 is not true.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

@Z - the constructor of the puzzle belongs to a species that might be called "not straight people" - and that species was/is very aware of the short-lived television show "The Real O'Neal's" conceived by Dan Savage - another "not straight person" - and featuring a "not straight" lead actor (go Noah!) in the role of a "not straight" high-school student. You might consider that there are other people in the world for whom this show is not obscure, just like the sportos who like their tall, manly ball players.

Or you might be part of the reason why the show wasn't renewed, because a bunch of "oh yes, straight" people couldn't hack it on network TV.

Gee, what was that reasoning about women constructors again? I need to revisit recent pages. Obviously, no puzzle should ever reveal anything about the constructor's actual experience of the actual world, that would just be silly. The world is, after all, the same no matter who you might be.

Mohair Sam 10:51 AM  

Everything's to love about this challenging-for-us Friday. Terrific cluing, too many beauties to list - lots of unknown-to-me stuff, but all fairly crossed - and a wicked trap in the NE. Fun stuff.

About the NE - had the kind of quandary that makes late week puzzles. I was dead positive of "McCoys" and also "reup" for 10d (not go off without a hitch). I was also dead positive of LOBO and BANSHEE. NHL made us give sway to the latter combo and things painfully filled (ONEALS? Wouldn't you assume a McCarty would use McCoys?).

One man's meat department - Rex insisted INSANA was word list only stuff, yet I see at least a few us had a gimme (or near gimme) with him. He's won several awards and been ubiquitous in TV financial news coverage for 30 years.

Great cluing throughout, but to me PRIDEPARADE and WINEMAKING stood out as the best.

What a Friday puzzle should be. Thanks Ryan McCarty.

Bob Mills 10:58 AM  

A wicked puzzle with fiendish misdirects, especially "OUTMARCH?" and "INDUSTRYFILLEDWITHPRESSRELEASES." And what are ORIONIDS? Can't believe I got it all right.

Carola 11:05 AM  

Lovely grid, fun to solve. I also thought the NE was the toughest section, but fortunately (for solving), I tend to be a hog, so MINE! came right to me. New to me: OWLET MOTHS, HYSONS, and ASPISH (interesting eye rhyme with the equally stinging "waspish"). One do-over: AMC-->TMC.

Besides the COP + LAW and CORPSE + CREMATE pairs, I liked the parallel WATER and WINE, especially with -MAKING, reminiscent of the marriage at Cana.

@Ryan McCarty, thank you. A treat of a puzzle.

Jon Douglas 11:08 AM  

It's always frustrating to see names like INSANA, a man whose cultural cachet evaporated when he went off the air 15 years ago. But, then, I'm at least 15 years below the NYT target demographic, so I guess it's to be expected.

Carola 11:12 AM  

@Z - I forgot to say: I was also bothered by MOTION, for the same reason. But checking the rules online, I learned that it is indeed a motion, needs a second, and a two-thirds majority to be carried. Nicely explained here.

Roo Monster 11:23 AM  

Hey All !
I've never bought word lists. I wouldn't even know where to get them. I use Crossword Compiler, and if you want, it will fill in certain areas for you or give you a drop down list of words that fit. Free. (Never using bought lists is maybe why I've never published!)
(As an aside, just got another Bi Thanks where it was said my entry EAST HALL was "a made-up word".)

Anyway, did like this puz. South much easier than North. JEEZ. The NOUSE DOOK was tough. mOUSE? lOUSE? dOUSE? Also, STARTER SET was a new one here. I guess the Set for Eight is what you get next. Had bEEP for PEEP messing up Fridays statement. Thought it might end in jOb. NW tougher for me than NE, although LOBO/ORIONIDS/ONEALS kinda rough.

Liked the open center, which was easy for the most part. Only a few writeovers, gEEZ-JEEZ, aMC-TMC, bEEP-PEEP, and ____TEaSET-STARTERSET.

Always like when the ole brain isn't maxed out on a FriPuz. Usually have NOT ONE IOTA on a couple of answers on Friday/Saturday. I have to SAY WHEN alot. :-)

TABU NAME CALLER
RooMonster
DarrinV

Trombone Tom 11:26 AM  

Fresh and lively with some wonderful cluing: MINE, PRIDE PARADE, WINEMAKING.

Still, I agree with much of @Rex's critique. Are we being ASPISH?

Glad to note that I'm not the only inveterate tea drinker who drew a blank on HYSON.

And on the subject of DOOKs, does NOUSE rhyme with house?

Banana Diaquiri 11:30 AM  

phew. looks like a good day for the Failing New York Times to not bother delivering any papers, at all, within at least a 20 mile radius of The Olde Homestead.

Nancy 11:33 AM  

@Larry G. and GILL -- I agree that Venice is a magical city. And for someone who hates the automobile as much as I do and who loves being on the water as much as I do, it is for me the Perfect City.

Nice post, @Amelia (10:27). If my first comment ever, ever appears, you'll see that I wholeheartedly agree with you and @Lewis, too.

My totally un-limber body doesn't flex, twist, fold or spindle. I'm hopeless at Yoga and would absolutely throw my lower back out if I attempted it. So the CORPSE POSE sounds as though it was absolutely designed for me. Yes, I can do that!!!!

@Old Car Fudd (8:50) -- A wonderful and truly gallant perspective. Rex should study and learn from it.

Masked and Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Pretty day-um good for a themeless. A few tough entries, but the crossins all turned out to be fair.
Toughies, at my house = ORIONIDS, HYSONS, any OWLET-insects.

staff weeject picks: GMC & TMC. MC is short for Master of Ceremonies. I figure the G to be Goatfight, and the T to be Teaparty.

Thanx, Mr. McCarty.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


**gruntz**

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Most of us are not ballerinas and not too bothered by this.

emily 12:21 PM  

I wanted savasanna or however you spell it for corpse pose, and was not aware of computer lists....

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

I met Ron Insana once at a political fundraiser that I now would only admit going to in an anonymous forum. Giuliani or president 2008! Dennis Miller was the headline speaker

emily 12:25 PM  

Tee-hee😉

emily 12:29 PM  

I have commented in the past that perhaps some of the long winded carpers had too much time on their hands! I never checked, but doubt that my reply was posted.

emily 12:37 PM  

I looked it up, & did not come up with that definition. Thanks!

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

For the person that said the owlet moths did not look like owls. Go to images...the photos of wings flat and stretched out.
Kind of like the baby owl version of a Keane big eyed waif painting.

curiostrip 12:54 PM  

Stuck on ASPISH as I had ADDSIN instead of ADDSON which led me to OWLETMITES instead of OWLETMOTHS which left me with ASPISE(?) and couldn’t unstick from there. I need to start using ASPISH more in everyday conversation I guess.

Z 12:55 PM  

Thanks @Carola. This is why sergeant-at-arms were invented.

@anon10:50 - Wow. Way to take 1+1 and come up with asparagus.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

@Anon 10:50
A lot of people found the Real O'Neals objectionable. The show went out of its way to offend Catholics. No surprise of course, that's Dan Savage's avowed mission.
It's true there were complaints about the show, and even a few campaigns for its cancellation. But of course, his calumny didn't kill the show; its abysmal ratings did that.

Banana Diaquiri 1:12 PM  

@Nancy:
So the CORPSE POSE sounds as though it was absolutely designed for me. Yes, I can do that!!!!

not as easy as it looks.
1 - everything but your bones are completely relaxed. which means you need a supportive mat; more so if on some kind of bare floor
2 - you're not allowed to sleep and snore

you'll be surprised how much tension remains in your soft bits; a good instructor will lead you to "check in" with each of those bits and tell you to relax them. even if you think they're tensionless, you'll find they aren't. and your still not allowed to snore.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

@Anon 10:50 Dude, you don't have to spill the beans you know. Now straight people know that all gay people, hell, anybody within the LGBTQ+ community, are mandated to watch each and every tv-show, movie, theatrical presentation, with a character, or staring, someone within the community. We've tried to keep is secret, and managed for so long, until you came along. Do you know how badly we're going to be sued? When the ratings for DateLine tank at 10PM on Fridays because we're all watching Blue Bloods ( Hi Tom! ) you don't think NBC is going to come after us for acting as a bloc? Particularly because we've abandoned Will & Grace because, you know, it sucks? You're letting the cat out of the bag just to make a point on a friggin crossword blog?

Tom 1:27 PM  

What everyone else said. Slower than avg., but finished successfully. Got a free WATER TAXI (speedboat) ride to Murano once when I was in Venice with my sweetheart. Not so free after all. Spent $4500 on glass art. Still enjoying an occasional martini from my set of six amazing glasses. 200 bucks apiece, but the vodka always tastes just a little better.

Mohair Sam 1:42 PM  

@Z - Of all people to get buried for bigotry! I cracked up. I'm thinking Anon(10:50) was sitting in wait for someone to complain about the show - your comment was as close as he could get. Gotta send you off for some diversity training old buddy.
(nice muted response at 12:55, btw)

@Amelia (10:27) - Excellent post (probably because I totally agreed with it) - and I'm with you on ASPISH.

@Nancy - Loved your line on the CORPSE POSE. Same here.

@John Douglas (11:08) - INSANA is still very much on television - read Rex's "Word of the Day" thing more carefully.

Mr. Wonderful 1:54 PM  

It's days like today that I'm grateful I'm a straight white American male. This and every other day. God bless.

Hal Jones 1:59 PM  

When that reCaptcha robot test asks you to click all the squares that contain street signs, do the signposts count also?

Just curious.

For the record, I am not a robot. Nope, not at all.

Anoa Bob 2:10 PM  

Always like it when a puzzle connects with major life experiences. Today it is WAR STORIES. Spent a lot of time in the 1960s (three six-month tours) in the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of Viet NAM. One of our regular R&R ports was the relatively close by Hong Kong. We would moor in the harbor and had a panoramic view of Hong Kong on the island and Kowloon on the mainland. The view at night was other-worldly spectacular. To get between ship and shore, we would hop one of the many WATER TAXIS, some of which were people-powered, like this one.

Got to return to Hong Kong 20 years later (now as a civilian). It had grown tremendously and become, to my eye, big-city ugly. The air pollution had left a grayish pall over the once white buildings and structures. The charm was gone.

SJ Austin 3:08 PM  

Yeah, that NE corner DNFed me in about six different ways.

But overall I enjoyed the puzzle. Enjoyed the staggered horizontal stack in the middle. Thought OWLET MOTHS was fine because I got OWL and MOTHS and then it was a pretty safe bet to put ET in there.

Chuck Duggins 3:21 PM  

And mute your cell phones!!

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Ron Insana is still on CNBC. He is not “off the air.”

White Rushin 3:55 PM  

Bigotry get thrown around way too much. I suppose Rex is a bigot for his AFRO comments.
Life is bigotry. Just the way it is.

jberg 4:08 PM  

How about:

"Vlunerable to venom?+ = ASPABLE.

Hungry Mother 4:16 PM  

@Anoa Bob: thanks for reminding me how to embed a link in a comment.

SticksandStones 4:40 PM  

Two things that really are offensive:
The homophobia of the RC Church.
The rape of children by priests and the coverup thereof.

Hy Son 4:42 PM  

There is a lot of digital compost out there, much stinks but it acts normal.

TubaDon 5:10 PM  

Guests cane just as I started this puzzle, so didn't get back to it 'til the afternoon. So probably I'm one of the last posters. (Thats better than lost pastors, I guess). Never heard of HYSONS, even tho I'm a tea drinker. ONEALS and INSANA were also unknown but got all from crosses. Got the corners first and finally WAR STORIES got me started in the center On this one I agree completely with Rex (except I was familiar with ORIONIDS).

Joe 6:14 PM  

Thanks, Rex, for the Siouxsee video. While it perhaps appropriates East Indian culture in a way we’d now question, it does bring back memories.

GILL I. 7:10 PM  

@Hungry Mother....Wow. What a perfect trip - what wonderful memories.
I wish I had thought to do what you did on your trip to Venice. Mine was with my 6 year old son and my girlfriend. I drove from Rome to Venice to France and then Spain. The Italians insisted on paying for our meals because they thought my son was adorable (blonde) and we were kinda cute. Don't think it would work today!
Thanks for sharing

Barry Frain 7:23 PM  

Then of course there's the Jesus Christ pose.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

sanfranman59 8:44 PM  

@Anoa Bob ... Thanks for your service

Amelia 9:17 PM  

Warning for those doing Sunday's puzzle in print. There's a typo. I know this because it isn't there in the online version.

Alisha 6:27 PM  

ONTOE is NOT a thing (20+ years of ballet talking here) and this is the 2nd time I've seen it in the xword. I tossed my xword as soon as I wrote that in. That's just straight up garbage.

Alisha 6:28 PM  

Bothered or not, it's still wrong.

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