Dancers known for their street-style wardrobe / FRI 12-6-13 / Harper Lee's given name / Cold war defense system / Home of Sunset Paradise / Wine cassis drinks / Mikado weapon

Friday, December 6, 2013

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: HARAJUKU GIRLS (51A: Dancers known for their Japanese street-style wardrobe) —
The Harajuku Girls are four Japanese and Japanese American backup dancersfeatured in stage shows and music videos for Gwen Stefani during her solopop/R&B/dance-record phase. The women also act as an entourage at Stefani's public appearances. // The Harajuku Girls are Maya Chino ("Love"), Jennifer Kita ("Angel"), Rino Nakasone-Razalan ("Music") and Mayuko Kitayama ("Baby"). The name of the group is a reference to Harajuku, a neighborhood of Tokyo. The stage names of the women are derived from Stefani's Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which was the name of her first album as well as her clothing brand. (wikipedia)
• • •

A lovely puzzle from Ms. Gorski. I am kind of blown away by HARAJUKU GIRLS, though. I thought perhaps it was some major phenomenon of which I was simply unaware. But as phenomena go, it seems pretty damn minor: they're just Gwen Stefani's back-up dancers? That is a rather slim claim to fame. I wonder what percentage of the solving audience knew who these dancers were before today. I can't imagine that many (note: many of my friends apparently have at least kind of sort of heard of these GIRLS). You gotta love how it looks in the grid, but I'm scratching my head a bit here re: puzzle-worthiness. Every constructor I know has had Far More Famous entries rejected because the editor hadn't heard of them and assumed solvers wouldn't have either. Can't imagine more than 5% of "average" solvers (whoever they are) actually knowing this answer. Why it's not bothering me more, I don't know. Possibly because it's pretty and its crosses seemed fair to me (assuming you knew KIRS, which … I have no perspective on. It's a common enough crossword answer, but I've never seen it outside crosswords) (53D: Wine-and-cassis drinks). My female blogging friend tells me that women, esp. those who follow fashion, are much more likely to know HARAJUKU GIRLS than men. I cannot dispute that. It's entirely possible that I am on a lonely island called "People Who Didn't Know This Answer" and you are all at home right now watching Gwen Stefani videos.

I also didn't know DEW LINE (47A: Cold war defense system). I am told that I "always" hate answers that I don't know, so … I guess I hate this one. Only I don't. It's a thing I've never heard of that I'm happy enough to learn primarily because it was crossed so fairly. Funny How That Works. DEW stands for "Distant Early Warning" and was a system of radar stations in the arctic designed to detect any Soviet incursions during the Cold War. Or so wikipedia tells me. Despite the fact that DEW LINE sat atop HARAJUKU GIRLS and I knew neither, the puzzle, as I say, was quite tractable. There are definite short-fill issues here and there (SE corner in particular, with its NELLE / SNEE / AGENA mash-up). But the long answers are pretty much aces, and there's even some good stuff in the shorter answers, like CANCUN and "GLORY BE!" and GOOF ON.

Why would SIRI be "Karen" in Australia!? That is my favorite fun fact of the day. Is SIRI some horrible slang term down there? Is it clinically unbearable to  hear anyone actually say "SIRI" w/ an Australian accent? And "Karen?!" Is no one actually named "Karen" Down Under? Does it not get confusing? "Where are we?" "Ask Karen." "Who the *&%& is Karen?" "She's in your phone, MATE(S)." Fosters wallabies Uluru. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. definitive proof that editing has gotten terribly lax—can we all agree that AIS (58D: Grafton's "___ for Alibi") is the worst entry in the grid? Yes? Good. Can we also agree that it is entirely unnecessary, and that anyone looking at that entry could fix it, in at least two ways, right now, just by changing the first or last letter of that entry? Yes? Good. I mean, you see this, right? I'm not just "being grumpy" and "snarky," right? Yes. Right.


jae 12:23 AM  

Either this was a perfect match to my wheelhouse or it was extremely easy.  I suspect the latter.  

One erasure: Atlas for AGENA

The only WOE was NELLE, but I seem to remember Capote calling her that in the movie of the same name.  Oops, @Rex HARAJUKU  GIRLS is also new to me.  It plus KAL, GLORY BE, HO HUM, MELTED CHOCOLATE, GOOF ON, DEW LINE...provided some zip but this was much too easy for my taste.

Steve J 12:33 AM  

Top half played easy for me, bottom half played quite tough. HARAJUKU GIRLS sounds vaguely familiar, but I spelled it HARiJUKU when I finally got enoug to give it a stab based on some tickle in my memory. That gave me StiCKS instead of SNACK, which gave me a DEW LItE. So, yeah, I made quite a mess of the bottom half.

Loved the clues for SALESROOMS and INSULT.

A little abbreviation-happy for my tastes, but I also got them all pretty closely together, so they may have seemed more prevalent than they actually were.

Enjoyable overall.

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

I call total bullshit on HARAJUKUGIRLS and most of the rest of the bottom half. KIRS? AGENA? Seriously?

Pete 12:39 AM  

After CREAMANDSUGAR, MELTEDCHOCOLATE, HARAJUKU GIRLS damn well better mean "gobs of sweet cream butter" or I'll be really pissed off.

JFC 1:16 AM  

Snarky? That is the second time I have heard that today, only the first it was applied to me.

Rex, I've decided it is hopeless. I have come to realize that you live in a world with a fence around it and there is a gate. You only let certain people through the gate and I am sad to realize that I will never be one of them....


Anonymous 1:22 AM  

Can anyone tell me why puzzles are all symmetrical, that one side reflects the other?

And okay puzzle ruined by the bottom half and SW. Why didn't it bother Rex that some answers were bad? Because he knew enough to finish the puzzle. Read his review again and you'll peer into the human dynamic of bias and self-delusion.


ahsieh 1:31 AM
has been around for decades, and seems to be gaining "phenomenon" status in the U.S. thanks to the popularity of Comic-Con/cosplay/LARPing/WoW and other flavors of young-people-with-too-much-free-time-on-their-hands. Stefani's dancers, whom I've probably seen on TV but never knew had a name until today, are but one instantiation of that trend.

retired_chemist 1:33 AM  

Easy. Also good. Very good. A IS...... hands down bad, but so what? Too much other good stuff here.

Got HARAJUKU GIRLS because I have been in Harajuku and, with a few crosses and the Japanese wardrobe clue, it all fit together. Never heard of the girls, just the place in Tokyo.

All fit together smoothly, with crosses helping out when needed. 15A in ON made 6D PION - minor speed bump.

Thanks, Ms. Gorski.

Anonymous 2:58 AM  

So if you knew Harajuku the puzzle was as simple as the rest? Who woulda' thunk.

Adele Cancun Muons 3:06 AM  

La Liz is a musician and a foodie and it shows:

The blog write up sounds a tad defensive, but it's still interesting that @rex would automatically place blame on the editor for AIS instead of the constructor.

Actually, a lot about this puzzle seems to depend on the fact it was constructed by one of the top creators...and one whom both Will and @Rex idolize.

So who knows? For all we know, 58D/63A was originally AId/IdLE , which might've been better, but perhaps that had been changed because "Idle" was the clue for LOLL. In which case it was a good editing decision.

I could see others getting more flak for AIS, REL, RAH, SEM, SNEE, APAR, etc.

Didn't know HARAJUKUGIRLS, but perhaps they are the HELLOKITTY of this decade and I can see it being way out of Will's personal awareness as to whether they were known or not and he relied on Ms Gorski's massive cred.

I thought the puzzle was hard, but I liked that it had such a strong constructor vibe.

Aussie 4:29 AM  

As an Australian, I was rather surprised at 60 across. I've always known it/her as Siri, and a brief survey of workmates agrees.

Sorry to spoil the fun fact of the day there.

I skip M-W 4:55 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle. I rather enjoy a kir every so often. Once co-wrote a scientific paper anent muons, and also knew their discoverers. Never heard of harajuku girls, never been to Tokyo, but very easy to suss out from crosses. Didn't knowCeline Dion song ,but not hard either. Was expecting some fancy "decaf cap" or the like, so cream and sugar was a surprise.melted chocolate was another delight. Very tasty.

Anonymous 6:16 AM  

Harajuku was actually simple for me as I once sipped a kir while co-writing a paper with myself about myself while riding a tiltawhirl with a Greek goddess named Siri Psi.
We didn't didn't last; she dropped me after I told her I never heard of the DEW line.

Danp 6:20 AM  

Didn't hate the puzzle, except for learning how far Gwen Stefani has fallen. She didn't have to become a Lady Gaga wannabe.

The Bard 6:25 AM  

The Tempest , Act I, scene I

of thunder and lightning heard.

[Enter a Master and a Boatswain]

Master: Boatswain!

Boatswain: Here, master: what cheer?

Master: Good, speak to the mariners: fall to't, yarely,
or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir.


jberg 6:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 6:50 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 6:54 AM  

Easy, I agree -- hardest part was NELLE or bELLE, and I didn't really know about the AGENA, but AGEbA seemed impossible. I had never heard of the HARAJUKU GIRLS, but the clue was pretty specific about the clothing (though what Harajuku is really known for is girls who dress up like a highly powdered Little Bo Peep, or in other outlandish ways. So that was very gettable from the HAR (the only other choice from there is Harlem, which seems unlikely).

What I learned today: "beat it" is only two letters different from BESTIR.

jberg 6:57 AM  

I tried to embed that link three times, but I'm doing something wrong. It is

dk 7:06 AM  

@rex, never listen to your critcs: just sayin.

To know the dancers I would need to know of Gwen S???. But hey - got it on the crosess.

Learning the launch date of TILTAWHIRL and imagining Ms. Gorski sitting down with us eating Ganache, drinking KIRS and watching Dr. Who made this puzzle a treat.

MUON and DEWLINE along with AGENA comprise our MINI defense theme. DEWLINE is like isobar for me. Why do I remember this stuff... Oh yeah to solve.

*** (3 stars) All things Friday. Thank you Ms. G.

John Child 7:13 AM  

@jberg re he linked photo: A life without irony must be very freeing.

Glimmerglass 7:15 AM  

Not only have I never heard of HARAJUKU GIRLS, I've never heard of Gwen Stefani (I'm old). However, the crosses were all fair, except for KIRS, which I guessed/dimly remembered. Good Friday-level puzzle.

AliasZ 7:40 AM  

As much as I was delighted to see Liz Gorski's byline is about as much as I was disappointed once solved. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the feature entries except for CELINE DION, without whom I am doing quite fabulously, thank you. The 10-13 stacks and the down 8-10's were quite impressive, especially TILTAWHIRL, STORYBOARD, CREAM AND SUGAR. CANCUN (fun memories), RAMROD, TELL A LIE and GLORY BE were also great. I didn't feel comfortable with BESTIR, I held back until I saw nothing else fit. My absolute favorite was MELTED CHOCOLATE. How can anyone not love it?

"The Distant Early Warning Line, also known as the DEW LINE or Early Warning Line, was a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic region of Canada, with additional stations along the North Coast and Aleutian Islands of Alaska, in addition to the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland. It was set up to detect incoming Soviet bombers during the Cold War, and provide early warning of any sea-and-land invasion." - Wikipedia.

HARAJUKU GIRLS was totally new to me. It made me feel no better that Will Shortz didn't know the term either. Thank goodness for the HARAJU__ / KIRS crossing, because without a KIR Royale I would've committed HARA-KIRi. I have a feeling HARAJUKU GIRLS was the seed entry for Ms. Gorski.

But the junk, oh my! From AIS, STNS, TSKS and ULAN to KAL, RAH, REL and SEM, plus another Apple commercial with IPOD and SIRI. Then APAR crossing OPART, NOLO and SHO (a combined NOSHO), and MUON & GOOFON, which sound like branches of MUFON (Mutual UFO Network). The fill, in other words, had not much sparkle.

On balance, I came away with a HOHUM feeling despite the above-average cluing and some excellent long fare. I think I enjoy Elizabeth Gorski's themed puzzles more than this themeless. I hope we'll see Krozel, Silk or Croce tomorrow.

Elle54 8:05 AM  

If we're taking a poll, never heard of HARAJUKU. I'm amazed that I finished a Friday in 44 mins

joho 8:36 AM  

I almost finished a Friday last night while watching the end of "The Sound of Music," just leaving the SW corner incomplete. That means this was definitely easy. Until it wasn't this morning.

Not knowing HARAJUKUGIRLS or AGENA I chose AkElA as it's word I know. So two wrong squares for me. I have a beloved pair of sneakers designed by Gwen Stefani, too, but never heard of the dancers. Back in my copywriting days in NYC one my friends went through a KIR phase. I wasn't crazy for the taste but loved the pretty pink color.

DNF, regardless, like all of Elizabeth Gorkski's puzzles this was anything but HOHUM. I loved it!

Mohair Sam 8:37 AM  

Naticked at the "K" in KIRS. Liked the way-to-easy Friday a lot in spite of not knowing Gwen Stephani's back-up dancers by name. Maybe tomorrow we'll have to know Elvis Presley's drummer's name.

NELLE a gimme here, so SE fell quickly, but the HARAJUKU thing was 8 random letters to us, and we were only able to fill seven.

Have a niece-by-marriage named SIRI. She's a college student who hates the IPhone with a passion. You can imagine why . . .

Hmmm. The more I think about it, the more I think HARAJUKU is BS. If an answer is known to only a tiny percent of solvers, well the words that make it up should be something we can infer. Never heard of Ganache, but with a few of the crosses I could make a guess or two - but to non-Stephanie addicts the dancers' name is just 8 random letters.

Sir Hillary 8:38 AM  

Excellent puzzle, although for me the AGENA/NELLE cross is a personal Natick.

I had no idea what HARAJUKUGIRLS are, but who cares? The 8s, 10s and 13s are all fabulous.

Very cool that the singlular J, W, X and Y are all in the middle of both their entries, rather than at the beginning or end. I would guess that is relatively unusual.

ECG rarely disappoints, and today is no exception.

Zwhatever 8:39 AM  

HARAJUKU GIRLS was a big "Huh?" here, but No Doubt and Gwen Stefani, pre-HARAJUKU GIRLS were a fun band.

I fell for all the misdirects, so got off to a slow start. CREAM AND SUGAR? Strong and black is more to my taste, so I had to have lots of crosses to parse that one. Then there is the old "the clue says 'Ganache' but the brain reads 'Grenache'" issue. I have seen chocolate wines on the store shelves, so I suppose a ganache grenache blend isn't to far off in the future, probably delivered to my doorstep by an Amazon Drone.

Beer Rating - Saugatuck Brewing Company's Neapolitan Milk Stout - good with ganache, I'm sure.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

I have to laugh at the apparent standard of a fair crossing: If you know it, vaguely do, or essentially get lucky and finish, it's fair.

The real problem with this puzzle, like virtually all puzzles, is the use of proper nouns and answers that require a certain knowledge base. While they may be a necessity due to grid constraints, they're really antithetical to wordplay. And puzzles that are too reliant on them are usually the most poorly rated.

Rex Parka

Unknown 8:48 AM  

AGENA was the target vehicle. TITAN was the rocket in the Gemini program. I had ATLAS for a while because at least that was a rocket, even though it was used for Mercury. Loved seeing DEWLINE for a blast from the past. HARAJUKUGIRLS was pure gibberish filled only through crosses.

Zwhatever 8:48 AM  

Apparently the SIRI voice in Australia was provided by the Australian born voice actor Karen Jacobsen. That's going deep into the Wiki article for your clue.

Unknown 9:01 AM  

Not exactly sure, but the timeline in my head puts Gwen Stefani and the HARAJUKU GIRLS chronologically ahead of the appearance of Lady Gaga.

After CREAM AND SUGAR and MELTED CHOCOLATE I thought we had a themeless recipe thing going on, but I guess not.

A KIR Royale is a festive libation - Cassis and Champagne. Its less fancy cousin, Cassis a l'eau (Cassis with water) is also very nice.

PMDM 9:08 AM  

The harder the puzzle, the less "gimme" and vice versa. I suspect that principle influences the editors of crossword puzzles when determining which clues make it to the final puzzle. And by "gimmes" I mean clues that almost any solver would get right away.

As the puzzles get harder from Monday through Saturday, Mr. Shortz probably pays attention reducing the number of "gimmes." Saturday might not have any. But there are a limited number of "gimmes" that usually make it into the Friday puzzle. So, except for the extremely inexperienced puzzle solver, 58D should be a gimme for most of those solving the puzzle. [As would 52D.] And that is probably the intent. Sure, you can change the S to D and come up with more difficult or innovated cluing, and I'm sure Shortz realized that. But he probably wanted the clue to be one of the few totally simple clues in the puzzle.

Of course, this is only what I suppose. Only Mr. Shortz could verify this. But the puzzles seem to adhere to this pattern quite closely. So is the 58D clue bad? While it may seem ugly to experienced puzzle solvers, if the intent was to sneak in a very simple clue into the Friday puzzle, it is perfect for its intent.

By the way, for those who are not Doctor Who fans, Kal derives very second episode of the Doctor Who series. He was a caveman encountered by the Doctor, his granddaughter and his two granddaughter's high school teachers after the Doctor's time machine (the TARDIS) took them back in time. For those who might be interested.

Notsofast 9:18 AM  

Never heard of KIRS. HARAJUKU sounded right, so I guessed and...WIN! EG is a GREAT constructor, and this puzzle didn't disappoint! I'm a storyboard artist, so I liked the inclusion.

Carola 9:20 AM  

Very appealing, very easy....until I got to the H...uh? GIRLS (fortunately gettable from crosses after some tinkering in the AGENA/ NELLE area).

Besides the delicious CREAM, SUGAR and CHOCOLATE, I loved the blast from the past TILT-A-WHIRL and DEW LINE. I remember learning about the latter in grade school as keeping us safe from the Russians, back in the 1950s "Duck and cover" days.

@Zen Monkey - Loved your Oscar buzz comment from last night. Continues today with STORYBOARD :)

lawprof 9:48 AM  

Never heard of Gwen Stefani, so little chance of getting her backup group. But I'm not a total Neanderthal: I've heard of, let's see, the Jordanaires and...and...and..., well I'm sure there are others.

Also, not up on my exotic cocktails, so naticked at the jIR/HARAJUjUGIRLS crossing.

Otherwise pretty easy for a Friday. Lots of good stuff here, as we've come to expect from Ms. Gorski.

Norm 9:56 AM  

Disappointed in this puzzle due its failure to put up any resistance. HARUJUKUGIRLS was the only thing that delayed me more than a second, and the crosses were easy enough to get it. This was more of a Wednesday puzzle in my opinion.

Blue Stater 10:21 AM  

Lovely puzzle. Liz Gorski's puzzles are always worth waiting for.

Can't contribute much to the SIRI/Karen discussion, save to observe that, when I spent time in Oz 30-odd years ago, what the less enlightened of us would call a "chick" was for me and my MATES a "Sheila."

Grayfarer 10:25 AM  

Very easy for a Friday. Not a single correction.

Questinia 10:26 AM  



Bob Kerfuffle 10:29 AM  

Some interesting answers previously unknown to me; all easily filled by crosses.

No write-overs, but working north to south had a smile at 39 D, "Popular spring break locale", CAN___, thinking flippantly, "CANADA would fit there."

Sandy K 10:37 AM  

Never thought that having nothing to watch on TV and leaving on HSN out of pure boredom (HO HUM) would yield two otherwise unknown answers to me...

"This decadent cheesecake has a layer of CHOCOLATE ganache..."

"How can you resist Gwen Stafani's very own brand of perfume, HARAJUKU GIRLS, for stocking stuffers?"

Enjoyed bookends- BAMBI and ADELE, tho ADELE tops Ms. DION in my book, and the Japanese GIRLS crossing "The Mikado" all the SNACKS.

Jim Finder 10:39 AM  

Nice mellow review today, Rex. Not "defensive" as someone said above. Good job appealing to a cross-section of your readers.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

S.E. toasted me. Dewline got me, had dewlaps thinking lizards (Zoology degree) so had spoils (of war) instead of snacks. made a mess. As to the lovely Gwen, I know her from having two teenagers during her No Doubt period & still didn't suss out her dancers. Claire

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

A big DNF for me. I had no idea who the Harajuku Girls are and have never had a sip of kirs, so I was totally lost. While I managed to get DEWline from the crosses and because 24D was clearly a past tense verb, I had no idea who Martin Ritt is. Being a child of the '80s, and having now googled him, the only movie of his that I have actually seen is Norma Rae (well-done, gotta love Sally Field) and I have heard references (I know idea of when or where) to The Spy That Came in From the Cold but have never actually seen it. Seems to me that fill like that, that leaves us cornered should be more well known to all. I think it belies a possible generational gap.

That being said, outside those issues, this was a thoroughly enjoyable Friday puzzle.

OISK 11:59 AM  

Ageba got me as well. Just didn't like "Nelle" as a first name, even though Agena did sound better to me. References to two TV shows I never watch (Dr. Who and Nurse Jackie) were minor annoyances, and even the two pop singers, Dion and Adele, were people I have heard of. It shows careful and considerate construction when I can correctly get HARAJUKUGIRLS, a completely unfamiliar reference, entirely from the down clues, but it is a "wha?" rather than an "aha!", which diminishes enjoyment.
I certainly don't agree that this was an easy Friday; it played very slow for me. But despite my one box DNF, this was a well conceived, fair and challenging puzzle.

Unknown 12:08 PM  

This is the hardest puzzle I've been able to do. 90 minutes and 13 googles, many of which were to keep my answers in place. BOSC was a guess. I was much more confident about ICUNIT for nursing locale and "kitty" then "dolly" for "hello, ____" You have to admit that Hello, Kitty is a better fit for the Harajuku girls than Hello, ITSME.

The entire puzzle went like that. One day I hope to be able the to nail KIRS-level clueing and see BESTIR rather than BESTgo, but for now I'm a BAMBI and will solve around the obvious fits first. Medium-Challenging.

Uncle John C 12:09 PM  

It's funny - I sat there looking at the name of the Japanese backup singers, and thought "Whoa - I most definitely never heard of them"
After reading some of the above comments - I said their name out loud and only then did I think - "Wait a minute, I think I have heard of them, after all."

No Doubt I'm not the only one who started this puzzle with Dolly for 5D.

Mark 12:44 PM  

Sometimes it helps to have been born earlier than others. I under-estimate that I heard or saw "DEW line" about a million times during my Cold War youth.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Hey Rex! Re that AIS, what about fixing the the middle letter: SARI and AAS [clued, in order of difficulty, as small batteries or two-year college degrees or some reference to administrative assistants]. Hate the new captchas.

Octavian 12:55 PM  

Blew through this one at Monday speed -- just seemed completely in tune with the constructor. Was actually bummed the clues weren't a little harder.

Probably as a result of having middle-schoolers several years back who listened to Gwen Stefani on pop radio, HARAJUKU GIRLS went in on my grid without even a hesitation.

Also DEW LINE was easy as I grew up in the shadow of a Nike missile installation in Southern California. There used to be missiles ringing big cities like Los Angeles that were supposed to shoot down Russian nukes that tripped the DEW line. Good thing we never had to find out if they worked.

Glad to see Rex has become more sensitive to his annoying snarkiness about stuff he doesn't know. It's made me stop reading this blog, though I did come back today to see what the reaction to the Harajuku girls would be.

Only real disappointment in this one was the clue for CREAM AND SUGAR. "Coffee order" seems to easy for a Saturday. Could have been some misdirection like "Sweetness and light in Verona." (Verona is Starbucks' main house blend of coffee).

Lewis 1:00 PM  

@questinia -- naticked at the same spot, with the same guess as you, my only wrong letter.

Top half played like a Wednesday, bottom like a Thursday, and yes, lots of grid gruel, but the overall puzzle left me with a smile. If I didn't know a fair amount of crosswordese this would have been tougher.

To me, CREAMANDSUGAR is not a "coffee order", maybe a coffee preference. I loved getting HARAJUKUGIRLS without knowing it. I like the MALE cleaving to the BREAST.

Bird 1:30 PM  

Too challenging for me – DNF.

Unknown 51A crossing unknown 53D (as opposed to Rex, I only do the NYT and don’t recall seeing it). I narrowed it down to a few letters and if I had time (gotta get back to work) put more thought into it I might have picked K. Left it blank.

Unknown 62A crossing unremembered 50D. Again, if I had the time . . . Left it blank.

Didn’t get 1A right off the bat so I looked at downs – got 2D, 3D was LIVE and 5D was DOLLY

MITT yesterday, RITT today. RAH!

Still a nice puzzle, though. Thanks Liz.


@retired_chemist - I'll try 42 for the word pic

Mohair Sam 1:32 PM  

I move that 3-letter answers involving Sue Grafton be banned Wednesdays thru Sundays. Any seconds?

I remember the DEWLINE only from Christmas Eves in the '50's when they would announce from the DEW Line that an unidentified flying object had been sighted on radar. The Air Force would ostensibly send up fighter interceptors who would identify a reindeer pulled vehicle, heavily laden. HQ would then advise the pilots to stand down and allow said vehicle to enter North American air space. Good stuff.

Benko 1:50 PM  

I'm glad so many people thought this was an easy Friday, but I didn't! Between the fresh fill and cryptic cluing, I thought this one was fairly tough. Loved it, though. One of my favorite crosswords of recent memory. So much greatness.
I have heard of HARAJUKU girls but it still wasn't a gimme. I had to double check just now to make sure I spelled it correctly so I don't think it will stick. KIR was easy for me, as I have spent a lot of time in France and it's on virtually every menu there. A pleasant aperitif.
The AGENA/NELLE crossing--now that was seriously difficult.

Benko 1:53 PM  

Oh yeah--
@mohairsam and @rex--
I move that all Sue Grafton references hereby be banned from all puzzles. Terrible puzzle cliche.

gifcan 1:58 PM  

Like @Carola I breezed through this puzzle until I hit the H GIRLS. The crosses brought me through.

I enjoyed a FRiday puzzle that I could cruise through although that means it wasn't really a Friday puzzle.

Thank you, E. Gorski!

LaneB 2:19 PM  

Any time I finish a Friday, even with verifying a couple of answers via Google, It's a good day. Started slowly because of BAMBI [Innocent one?], DEWLINE and SIRI [never understood it] and had to rely on the crosses to get HARAJUKUGIRLS. Also first filled 10d with hosamaki until that couldn't possibly be correct. All in all I enjoyed the puzzle, but for me there's no such thing as an "easy" Friday. Always happy to avoid a DNF--even tho' I'm not a purist re Google checking.

Numinous 2:39 PM  

Thank you, Ms. Gorski!

Thank you for Harajuku Girls! Never to old to learn, you opened a new avenue for me; a peek at Japanese culture I never dreamed existed. Harajuku Girls are not just backup dancers, they are a whole fashion subculture in Tokyo. Googling produces ATON of resources like and there are plenty of vids on YouTube too.

I love discovering new things through the NYT Crosswords and I've just spent a few hours learning about some of the young people of japan. Very worthwhile; my world has just become a little bit larger.

A pretty easy Friday with a terrific bonus.

Elsewhere on the Internet 2:40 PM  

"Originally the blogs elevated the discussion and really made things better, I think, for both the solvers and the constructors... but somewhere along the line it's jumped the shark and the unrelenting negativity, pettiness and many times ridiculous, mean-spirited off-base comments (I'm talking about anonymice and certain frequent commenters) has sucked the life out what is a lovely, creative, ill-paid endeavor."

—Andrea Carla Michaels

acme 2:49 PM  

That was on another blog in another context/discussion. Of course anything you post on the net can be reposted elsewhere, but I prefer to do my own posting, if that's ok with you. That comment was not made about this puzzle for this day here.

Brookboy 3:37 PM  

@acme, don't you hate it when your own words come back to bite you in a way that you never expected? I have been quoted out of context on a couple of occasions to prove points exactly the opposite of what my full quote intended.

But I digress. Today is the 48th anniversary of my discharge from the US Army, so I felt I had to post my own thoughts instead of not contributing as usual.

I generally like Ms. Gorski's puzzles, but I wasn't particularly enchanted by this one. Neither am I as critical as some others. I thought it a relatively decent puzzle regardless of the day of the week. And I thank Ms. Gorski (and all her colleagues who have given me such pleasure over the years).

Tomorrow is the 51st anniversary of my joining that same US Army. In the time that has sped so quickly by, I count doing the Times crosswords as among my best expenditures. And I've enjoyed lurking here (and occasionally posting) for the last several years.

Lucky me.

Benko 3:47 PM  

I could see other constructors getting more flak for the fill you listed too, but I don't think it is only because of Elizabeth Gorski's reputation that she was able to avoid the criticism. It's because the rest of the fill is so fresh and interesting that I don't mind the small exceptions. Great puzzles make you focus on the good stuff.

laZy 3:58 PM  

Where's @MetaRex? I guess I could go back and find his system, but I'm actually working and don't have the time right now to do the leg work.

Doc John 4:16 PM  

Very surprised that you didn't include this in your writeup when talking about the DEW Line.

sanfranman59 4:17 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 13:44, 19:17, 0.73, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 8:18, 11:12, 0.74, 10%, Easy

HARAJUKU GIRLS sticks out like a sore thumb in this puzzle for me. I couldn't imagine that was correct when I hit the "Done" button and was pleasantly surprised when my solution was accepted. Without that answer, I probably would have posted an almost unheard of for me (and more Wednesday-ish) sub-10-minute Friday solve time.

Doc John 4:22 PM  

Oh, and this was my fastest Friday ever by a wide margin. Did it in under 10 minutes! It probably helps that my dad actually used to drink KIRS.

mac 4:35 PM  

Lovely Liz Gorski puzzle, easy for me with some very hard spots. I had such a hard time with Bambi and male, and Agena/Nelle gave me trouble, too. In addition, what do I know about Tiltawhirl and Harajuku girls. Never heard of them, although I know Gwen Stefani, her husband and two sons, but I guess they are a sort of Japanese Sloane Rangers.

I saw Australia in the clue for 60A, and her, and already had the two Is, so I filled in Kiri. No, I couldn't make sense of the clue/answer, but Psi had to get me out of trouble.

I also thought we were getting the recipe for ganache, with cream, sugars, GRATED chocolate and…. those Harajuku girls spoiled the themette.

Still a good solve, though.

David IN CA 5:04 PM  

Is KIRS really a "common enough crossword answer"? I've been doing NYT for a couple decades and it rings no bells. Perhaps it is common in other puzzles? Perhaps my memory is lousy? Yeah, that's probably it.

Yet another giant pile-up of proper nouns: DEWLINE on HARAJUKU on CELINE on KCAR and NELLE on ADELE, crossing CANCUN and AGENA. Pretty terrible, unless you like that kind of memory test I guess.


retired_chemist 5:17 PM  

Today's earworm will be HARAJUKU GIRLS sung to the tune of The Beach Boys' California Girls.

quilter1 6:27 PM  

Sorry I'm late. I like KIRS. To drink, I mean. And in the puzzle.

quilter1 6:32 PM  

Oh, and DEWLINE was a gimme as my husband's uncle worked there.

Anonymous 7:46 PM  

an easy Friday but a fun one.

Rob C 8:45 PM  

Medium Fri for me, except the SE was brutal with all the proper names. Not sure how, but I muddled my way to completion. Fun solve. Plenty of good stuff to outweigh the junk.

With CREAM AND SUGAR and MELTED CHOCOLATE, I thought we had a themed puzzle on a Fri.

HARAJUKU GIRLS does look pretty in the grid, but I have to wonder whether another group of singers with a non-scrabbly name who were just as (un)well-known would have passed the crossworthy test.

@Uncle John C - same mistake with Dolly, except I wrote it in lightly suspecting it might be too much of a gimme for late-week. Also, Hello Dolly doesn't look right without a !

Hey, are you my Uncle John C?

Tita 9:26 PM  

I get here so late these days, if at all - I feel like I'm living in the limbo land between primetime and syndiland.

Never heard of those GIRLS, so DNF, in spite of racing through most of this puzzle.

Grew accustomed to KIRS as an aperitif when living in Germany, and often - very often, visiting France.

Oh - I've been in sales - in the thick, or the fringes, for most of my life, and there is, in fact, no such thing as a SALESROOM.
Unless you consider an elevator, a table at a restaurant, or seat 10A, a SALESROOM.

Was surprised to see Liz on a Friday, but happy for an easy start to the weekend. Thanks Ms. Gorski, in spite of my lightning-fast DNF.

Matty 9:27 PM  

Kir Royale, baby! Kir Royale! Common enough drink, no?

sanfranman59 10:01 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:43, 6:07, 0.93, 19%, Easy
Tue 8:18, 8:12, 1.01, 57%, Medium
Wed 10:50, 9:52, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 19:17, 17:47, 1.08, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 13:44, 19:17, 0.71, 7%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:46, 0.97, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:46, 5:01, 0.95, 31%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:26, 5:49, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:32, 10:07, 1.04, 57%, Medium
Fri 7:50, 11:12, 0.70, 7%, Easy

acme 2:36 AM  

Things that occurred to me before HELLO ITS ME:

perhaps a puzzle lurks there, tho I think I already did one once that involved CIAO BELLA and GOODBYE MR CHIPS for the Sun.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

America's Next Top Model had a recent episode in Tokyo where the contestants had to dress as Harajuku Girls.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

As a matter of interest, a kir may be the most common drink offered to guests when they come to visit if you lived in France. It is quite tasty and would be a good custom to begin in the USA!

spacecraft 11:50 AM  

Easy is a rating I'd never apply to this puzzle. Some of the longer entries did seem to come naturally; I got MELTEDCHOCOLATE off just the first TE (which made me change RIngED to RIMMED). But although that was a big help, there was still a lot of brain calisthenics to be done.

My rocket was (and indeed, IS) an Atlas--only it turned out to be the Atlas AGENA. Cluing was no picnic: I was scratching the ol' cranium over "Deplane in moments" till I had enough letters for EJECT. I'd rather say, deplane in A moment. That's all you got, dude. Next moment, you done already been deplaned.

The natick at 53 is pretty severe. The Venn diagram of those who have never heard of those two things has got to be huge, and I'm in it. Guessed K because somehow it "looked good." Don't ask me to explain further; I can't.

GOOFON??? I've heard of goof OFF, but that means something else. Make jokes about. Goof on. Hmmm. So, like, David Letterman goofs on the government? OH, why not. They are a bunch of goofs after all...or is it gooves?

If you don't want to clue AIS Grafton-style, you could always go retro with the Maleskan "Three-toed sloths." Any better? No? Then I suggest PHIL/HIS.

Boat: 9's full of 3's.

1of'em 1:54 PM  

Fun, except SW corner was chock-a-block with proper nouns, mostly pop culture ones, all of which used to be illegal in crosswords, and which now seem to dominate. Unfair to us language purists!

Waxy in Montreal 2:21 PM  

The DEWLINE was where many guys (sorry to be sexist) in my era went to work to accumulate significant amounts of money. Job was like that of a lighthouse keeper - one lived in an isolated station up near the Arctic Circle with no ability to spend any salary for several months. Good friend of mine bought his first home (not just the downpayment) with his DEWLINE earnings.

Otherwise, let me agree 100% with @spacecraft's comments above and sign off til tomorrow.

DMG 2:42 PM  

Zoomed through this one until I hit the SE corner where all the acrosses were, unknown to me, proper nouns including some kind of Japanese clothing fad. So a big DNF on an otherwise neat puzzle!

@1ofem: Your comment exactly parallels my thinking, except I think you meant the SE corner?

gordo albondigas 3:55 PM  

Is a goofon related to a muon?

Solving in Seattle 4:35 PM  

@Z, I had a very acceptable Ganache Rose last night.

Was BAMBI really the "Innocent one? I think he set the forest fire. At least that's what Smokey told me. (I'm JUST doing a GOOFON.)

Can anyone really truly understand a single word CELINEDION sings? Just askin'.

@Spacey, I'm in the KIR part of the Venn diagram. I'm guessing that the HARAJUKUGIRLS circle contains Gwen, the four girls and six other arcane knowledge geniuses in this blog.

And your boat beats my two pair. @Ginger, no wild cards.

Syndie synchronicity factoid of the day: Went for a sushi lunch today with my old biz ptr. We had, inter alia, TUNAROLL. (Cue Twilight Zone theme.)

Go Hawks!

Dirigonzo 6:00 PM  

I never thought I would say this, but it was two pop stars who (almost) saved the SE corner for me, but alas it was not to be because I am not continental enough to have heard of KIRS - or Cassis, for that matter, and needless to say those dancers weren't going in without ALL the crosswords. All that estrogen in the SE must have contaminated the NE where we have a MALE BREAST. Best clue award goes to Relative of a raspberry > INSULT.

Full house, eights over nines - I think Spacey has the pot?

sdcheezhd 6:22 PM  

There are usually 1-2 songs tops I know each year (e.g., Get Lucky and Blurred Lines thanks to Colbert, Tik Tok thanks to the Simpsons) but Hollaback Girl with L.A.M.B happened to be one of them so I kind of incredibly knew HARAJUKUGIRLS. And I just noticed last week that we have a bottle of KIRSCHWASSER in the pantry which is probably 9 years old as well. So one of the easiest Fridays ever.

rain forest 7:07 PM  

I was going to defend CELINEDION (gimme) because (a) I'm Canadian, and (b) my partner and her family are from French Canada, but then I would say something nasty about @Alias Z, and we don't do that here in Syndiville.

I too remember Santa sightings from the DEWLINE in my misspent youth.

Love KIR. Cassis (pronounced Kahsees) is some kind of black currant, which I only know as a flavour one can detect in red wine.

I feel left out, not only because I'm last here, but also because I can't join in the poker game. My capchas are only letters these days.

Oh, I liked the possible...

Cary in Boulder 2:02 PM  

Past the sell-by date with these comments. Didn't really dig into the puz until I got home from a basketball game late last night (C.U. women blew a late 9 point lead and lost to Cal.)

Enjoyed it a lot until I put some serious gray cell attention to the SE, which I very much disliked. I actually knew KIRS, but that gave me HARAJUKU_I___, which could have been almost anything. I've been a radio DJ for over 30 years, but CELINEDION (which I got), ADELE (which I didn't) and Gwen Stefani are the type of pop schlock I've consciously gone out of my way to avoid listening to or having pollute my brain. Crossed with AGENA (really? I knew Atlas but not this), NELLE and SNEE, that part was hopeless.

Also lost out in the top, where I had INON for au courant and PION, which became impossible to parse. They give you IPODs in museums these days?

At least I win at Capcha Poker with a 9's over 5's full boat.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

I learned about the Dew Line when I was in grade school, but I was in grade school in the 1960s and early 1970s. My guess is that the likelihood of whether you have heard about it or not depends on your age.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP