Award for "Hairspray" but not "Hair" / FRI 7-28-17 / Famous 1980s movie quote / The Divine Miss M / Some lipstick shades / Lamp Chop puppeteer / Lug nut hiders / Burl who sang about Rudolph / Coppola film family name

Friday, July 28, 2017

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy (6:53, close to a Friday record)


Word of the Day: TENON (44D: Dovetail component) —
The mortise and tenon joint has been used for thousands of years by woodworkers around the world to join pieces of wood, mainly when the adjoining pieces connect at an angle of 90°. In its basic form it is both simple and strong. Although there are many joint variations, the basic mortise and tenon comprises two components: the mortise hole and the tenon tongue. The tenon, formed on the end of a member generally referred to as a rail, is inserted into a square or rectangular hole cut into the corresponding member. The tenon is cut to fit the mortise hole exactly and usually has shoulders that seat when the joint fully enters the mortise hole. The joint may be glued, pinned, or wedged to lock it in place. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Whenever I blog the puzzle, I play music suggested by the grid (this policy leads to a lot of Brian ENO and ANI DiFranco). Earlier this week it was Iggy Pop, then later, Peter, Paul, and Mary; last night it was Lena Horne and Hot Tuna (that made for an interesting mixtape). Tonight it is BETTE (1D: The Divine Miss M) on endless repeat.

 The opening riff of this song is my ringtone

So much to like about this themeless: the stack of BEST MUSICAL (1A: Award for "Hairspray" but not "Hair"), E.T. PHONE HOME (15A: Famous 1980s movie quote), and THREE IN A ROW (17A: XXX, for example); NORSE (40A: Like some myths) crossing RUNE (34D: It may be carved in stone); and such clean fill -- really, the only area I wasn't crazy about was the SW: ILO (when we also had ILE at 18A), OVI, NEV, ORE (where are CAL and IDA?).

Love the stack of MICROMANAGE (52A: Oversee to a fault), PLAINSPOKEN (56A: Bluntly honest), and HORNET'S NEST (58A: Dangerous situation) in the SE. Together they make a nice sentence: I don't want to MICROMANAGE, but to be PLAINSPOKEN, sometimes anonymous blog comments can be quite a HORNET'S NEST. (Hope that wasn't too OBTRUSIVE [31D: Meddling].)

You've heard IVES (27A: Burl who sang about Rudolph) so many times; the Heat Miser doesn't get quite enough attention. He's certainly one to RUN A FEVER (30D: Have a hot body).

Woman Constructor Watch: Robyn's puzzle today makes 30 out of 179, still holding steady at 14%.

  • 36D: Coppola film family name (CORLEONE) — It's not spoken by one of the CORLEONEs, but my favorite line in The Godfather is "Leave the gun; take the cannoli."
  • 13D: Sriracha ingredients (JALAPENOS) — I actually got up and went to the fridge to look at our bottle of Sriracha (with the rooster on the label, from Huy Fong Foods of Irwindale, California) and while I was doubtful, this is indeed true: it is now made with red jalapeño peppers, formerly with serranos.
  • 24D: "Ten ___ Commandments" (song from "Hamilton") (DUEL) — Another BEST MUSICAL winner (2016). But your man has to answer for his words, Burr.
Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 12:14 AM  

Delightful puzzle by @Robyn Weintraub, and delightful review by @Laura. I'm not in your league in terms of solving speed, vocabulary, or knowledge of pop culture, but it also felt easy to me. Before uncovering MICROMANAGE, I started MIndOne's ... and ran out of room to fill in P's & Q's. The clues for RUN A FEVER and for STENT were both particularly clever.

webwinger 12:16 AM  

Have really enjoyed this week of reviews from Laura. Also really looking forward to OFLs return. Wondering--maybe it's time for Rex to establish a regular rotation of blog leaders? I suspect his family would be thrilled...

jae 12:18 AM  

Very easy Fri. No WOEs and no erasures. Put in BETTE and BEST MUSICAL and just kept going. There are some nice long downs and a fine 3 stack in the NW so liked it, but would have liked it more on a Wed.

Anonymous 12:51 AM  

Solid Friday. A little on the easy side, maybe. I got a slow start with this one after making a couple of forehead-slapping mistakes, so it seemed hard at first, but I got MICROMANAGE pretty easily and it was fairly smooth sailing from there.

Very clean puzzle. Nicely done by the constructor.

Hartley70 1:06 AM  

Loved the BETTE clip, Thanks, it woke me right up!

Yes, it was easy for a Friday, but the whole week to date has played that way. I found this most enjoyable. My last letter was the T in TSPS and that was cute cluing.

I haven't tasted SRIRACHA but MOËT is very familiar. One summer when we were young, we decided to do a Sunday champagne tasting after sailing every week. We'd sit looking at the Sound and had most, or all, of a different bottle every week of the season. It's a delightful memory and would probably kill us now.

Robin did a very smooth construction and I'm moved to say that this reminded me of a Patrick Berry puzzle, difficult at first glance but flowed nicely once I got in the groove.

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

Yeah I thought Sriracha was made with different chili too

A New Dawn 1:12 AM  

Great flow and ease to the puzzle. My fastest Friday ever, played like a Wednesday for me.

JR from Queens 1:36 AM  

10:02, my fastest Friday ever. I beat my previous PR by almost 50% and finished 3x faster than my Friday average. Either I'm getting better at this, or that was not a Friday puzzle... Regadless of the difficulty level it was a fine puzzle, I definitely enjoyed breezing through it,

Larry Gilstrap 1:44 AM  

I hauled my clipboard into a bar and did some distracted solving, not a violation here in the Golden State. Thanks to OFL for the tip. Could become an evening habit. Pleasant puzzle, pleasant experience, followed by a pleasant review.

Before anybody complains about Burl IVES, I predict that in about four months he will be in heavy rotation in a big box store near you. Prescient? Not really.

I really like how "Ten DUEL Commandments" revealed itself. I hear it is a gooooood show. Hi, @Loren. For some reason, I recently was trying to define POISE to a language learner and nuance became an issue. English is complicated.

Sooooo much turmoil these days. For example, why argue about it, just have a COIN TOSS, which usually happens mid-field. I had a love/HATE relation with 8D; ever misread a clue and fall into a rabbit hole? Me too.

Now about me: as a child, I had seen Shari Lewis on TV for years and didn't get why a mediocre ventriloquist with a sock puppet was anything more than mildly amusing. Then came the day I became a man. Testosterone or something kicked in during adolescence and I saw a gorgeous talented woman with a sock puppet. Aaaahaaa moment.

Mr. Fitch 2:21 AM  

This was very easy, but also clean and well put-together. I'm fine with it. Friday is supposed to be the easier themeless, and that's exactly what this was.

Thomaso808 3:22 AM  

@jae, no WOEs? Really? What about 49A?

evil doug 4:18 AM  

Used to love building model cars, and gluing on the chrome HUBCAPS was often the final step. Hubcaps used to be so distinctive and identifiable to car manufacturers--and to customizers (Baby Moons!)--but now fancier wheels have supplanted them.

jae 4:19 AM  

@Thomaso808 - OK maybe one?

Anonymous 4:22 AM  

Like @JR, I have a new best Friday time that's about a third of my average. WOE: PREEÑS. jk. I'm not bothered.

martyvanb 4:43 AM  

You know it's a total breeze when you start out from 1D and finish in the opposite corner with no resistance or restarts in between. My pencil barely left the page.

evil doug 4:54 AM  

For those of you who dare to indulge in the non-crossword material in the Times, I encourage you to find the wonderful obituary of June Foray--brilliant voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, evil Natasha Fatale and dozens of other familiar cartoon stars.

Trombone Tom 4:56 AM  

Since my opinions seldom coincide with OFL's puzzle reviews it's really refreshing to find I can agree 100% with @Laura's comments today. I also appreciate that her reviews arrive at a time when I can chime in earlier than 8:00 EDT. Don't get me wrong, I'm an @Rex fan, but it's nice to have a change.

This was perhaps less challenging than many Fridays. but a really smooth puzzle to work. And how about that terrific stack in the SE?

And, yes, I am surprised at the sriracha pepper variety.

Loren Muse Smith 5:01 AM  

What a beautiful grid. I have to WARN neophytes like me deciding to dabble in construction. Here’s how it goes - You buy your software program because you’re not Merl Reagle (I use Crossword Compiler), you don’t have any theme ideas, so you sit down to make a themeless. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? So you tell Crossword Compiler that your two seed entries are, say, GREAT WHITE SHARK and EIGHTEEN WHEELER. It gives you some possible grids, and you choose one (for me it’s one with no triple 11 stacks as we have here), and set out to fill it. You’re making a tiny bit of headway, but you can make some of the widish spaces work only with beauts crossing like palsying, bevatron, adjudged, respighi, doughty, betiding, ottoii, owar, rejigger, dokic, howi… I’m telling you – to end up with a grid, like Robyn’s today, with so many regular words and phrases is wicked hard. I always throw in the towel after I’ve checked for the bajillionth time if a word - that my software is telling me fits - is actually a word and if so, when was it used last in a NYT puzzle. Themelesses are for the big dawgs.

I liked the meta THREE IN A ROW in that upper triple stack.

I actually learned that PLAIN SPOKEN means candid and not normal talk that people can understand. Unlike the language that you find in books on literary criticism. The annoyance I’ve always had for writers whose main purpose seems to be using fancy words and constructs to impress people has developed into a full-blown rage this summer. It’s not lost on me that I usually just read fluff like People magazine, ok fine, but I’ve asked my husband for help a couple of times, and even he struggled. And he reads Toynbee and Gibbons in his spare time.

IVES again today, but at least it’s the Rudolph narrator and not the place, St. Ives. (Maybe it’s a riddle, but it was in my Mother Goose book when I was little, so it feels first and foremost like a nursery rhyme.)

Nowadays you hear moms say that their kid has a temperature rather than RUN A FEVER. Just so’s you know, this sense of the phrase is listed third in Merriam Webster. (And Ned White will tell us in Maine that there’s some weather rolling in. Weather in the sense of bad weather is listed third in MW.) I bet there’s a name for this kind of semantic shift. Darned if I know, though.

Robyn – I’m in awe of your skill. BEST MUSICAL, ET PHONE HOME, THREE IN A ROW, DO I HAVE TO, JALAPENOS, MICROMANAGE PLAIN SPOKEN, HORNETS NEST, RUN A FEVER, OBTRUSIVE, NEW CAR, I HATE IT, HUBCAPS (Hi, @ED), COIN TOSS, MESSY… Jeez Louise this is good. Bravo. (And I use awe very sparingly in my language.)

Thomaso808 5:38 AM  

@jae, haha made you look up 49A, right? When I finished the puzzle I was just going to post "49A was a WOE" but you served up that softball so nicely I couldn't resist! I hope you got a laugh.

I love the triple 11-stacks with some really good crosses. Yes, this was on the easy side, but that is more a function of the cluing than the construction. Still a good one for Friday.

Minor nit: I don't think TENON is a dovetail component. Mortise and tenon joints are typically straight cuts, but a dovetail joint relies on trapezoidal cuts -- big difference. I think of a joint as being EITHER a mortise and tenon OR a dovetail. But I have learned in situations like this that Shortz is usually right, so I await some edumacation from the commentariat.

Brookboy 5:58 AM  

Good day, all.

Long time lurker and very occasional commenter here. I just had to say that I agree that this puzzle was extraordinarily good. I do crosswords for enjoyment and stopped timing myself a long time ago. I realized that my obsession with my times was getting out of hand and had begun to replace my enjoyment of doing the puzzle itself.

So now I do the crosswords every day, at my leisure. I don't mind getting interrupted, can always go back to the puzzle later.

The other enjoyment I have doing the Times crosswords is reading this blog. It's a great learning experience (even for a dude in his seventies -- or maybe *especially* for a dude in his seventies). I have come to appreciarte community of regulars who post here, but none moreso than Loren Muse Smith, whose kind and witty remarks are often a balm to Rex's sharp criticisms (pun intended).

Been wanting to say all this for a while, finally got around to it.

Lewis 6:08 AM  

Clean, quick, and crackling. Yesterday morning I took my dog Chester to the park. He loves to be chased. Another dog was there who loves to chase, and they played for an intense five minutes, Chester running in wide circles, juking and making quick direction shifts. There is only one word to describe him at these times -- joy. Anyone watching would have to smile. That's what this puzzle felt like this morning, a joyful romp -- simply doing rather than CHEWing, infused with joy. The joy was there through the puzzle's wit, and has filled me with spark. Very grateful for the experience, Ms. Weintraub!

Hungry Mother 6:28 AM  

My time was slightly less than my Wednesday average. A pleasure to solve. @Evil Doug: sorry to hear of the death of a cast member of my favorite cartoon. My nickname at Ft. Dix was "Bullwinkle" because of my preference of channel in the day room.

BarbieBarbie 7:04 AM  

@Hungry, she was at least three cast members. Um, sort of.
@Evil, thank you. I saw the obit last night. June Foray was an unbelievable talent, for an unbelievable number of years. Get moose and squirrel.
Very easy Friday puzzle, but still a joy to solve. Great long answers, hardly any junk fill, and hardly any black squares. Nice, nice puzzle.

Annette 7:10 AM  

Smooth, beautifully constructed, but a Wednesday puzzle, as it smashed my Friday record. Just loved the triple stacks and the long downs, especially DO I HAVE TO.

QuasiMojo 7:21 AM  

"Sensuous" means "aesthetically pleasing"? That's a new slant to me.

Smooth, elegant, effortless Friday puzzle. Felt like a Wednesday. It may be lovely to look at, even "sensuous" to a fault, but it was not at all challenging and rather too "plain." Some of it even sounded "sing-song" to my mind. I prefer a puzzle with teeth on a Friday. It's one of the Ten Duel Commandments for the NYT Puzzle. Disappointing.

Glimmerglass 7:22 AM  

@LMS: My middle son used to whine pittifully to his mother, "I shouldn't go to school. I have a temperature." He wasn' lying. It was 98.6. I liked the puzzle, but didn't find it quite as easy as most commenters. I had to abandon the NW and come back to it.

Elle54 7:31 AM  

I love Snow Miser and Heat miser!

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

Interesting you should pick on TENON as your word of the day. It is in out and out error that shouldn't get past Shortz. Tenons are part of Mortise and Tenon joints, just as the Wiki you reference suggests. Dovetail joints are made of Pins and Tails.

Old Lady 7:38 AM  


Two Ponies 7:42 AM  

Baby moons! My car in high school was a '66 Mustang with baby moons.

Tim Aurthur 8:14 AM  

27A could have been clued as the great American composer Charles IVES - which would have provided another interesting mashup.

GHarris 8:35 AM  

My easiest Friday ever. Still found it engaging and a joy to complete. Hope it signals that I'm moving up in class.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

BIG constructor ERROR.
There are NO "PAGES" in the House (House aides: 46 down).
Only the Senate has pages; the House did away with the page program years ago.

Adrienne Paulson 8:41 AM  

What a touching anecdote followed by an astute observation! I'll be sure to buy your next novel.

Wm. C. 8:49 AM  

Sorry, @MsLaura, but "30 out of 179" is not "steady at 14%." It's between 16 and 17 percent. ;-)

Birchbark 9:06 AM  

Also in the Friday record club at 11:33 (not counting the earliest Fridays in the NYT online Archives, which seem to play by different rules). And in the club really liked how smooth this was -- all missteps remedied with aplomb.

I have encountered DOIHAVETO next to JALAPENOS in my own house, on coming in from the smoker with a tray of bacon-wrapped, cream-cheese-filled appetizers. But somehow there are never leftovers.

I also liked the self-satisfaction of THREEINAROW at the bottom of the first stack.

mooretep 9:14 AM  

@ Brookboy,


Print out a paper copy, solve it leisurely with my partner.
No need to wait for the happy pencil, We come here to suss it out.
Still have our Crossword Puzzle Dictionaries from the 90's.

howard a. brenner 9:20 AM  


mathgent 9:20 AM  

Like @Hartley70, I was reminded of a Patrick Berry puzzle while solving. His Fridays are often quite easy. But his have more wit and zip.

I did two crosswords yesterday with the same gimmick. The theme of NYT was "Holding down the fort" and "fort" came down the grid in three spots. The theme of WSJ was "Raising the bar" and "bar" went up the grid in five spots.

I don't own a good dictionary any more, but the two online dictionaries I checked don't make SENSUOUS a synonym for "Aesthetically pleasing."

I find it hard to believe that @Lewis (6:08) found joy in solving this one. He avoids saying anything negative about a crossword, probably because as a constructor he knows how hard they are to put together. But of the six elevens, HORNETSNEST is the brightest. Joy? Really?

1820 Stone Colonial House 9:23 AM  

A dovetail mortise and tenon joint is a thing, often used in post and beam barn construction. So, IMO the clue is correct.

Robert A. Simon 9:32 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Maybe because my high school girlfriend was also named Robyn-with-a-y, but probably because of the skill and wit on full display.

Geometricus 9:39 AM  

I did this enjoyable puzzle with my 15-year-old son while waiting for pizza last night at Picazzo's in Flagstaff (really good restaurant). We had just seen the Grand Canyon. He really shows a talent for wordplay. Before we got PLAINSPOKEN he saw that chAINSmOKEr would fit. He knew the clue didn't match, but I am gratified that at least one of my six kids shares my love of words.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

@Evil Doug
The Foray obit is excellent and that's because it was penned by Robert McFadden. I'm assuming he's retired because his work appears less and less. But for my money, he's the most gifted writer working in the English language. One of his gigs at the Times was to write stories on major storms. They were so spectacular a few still hang, curled and yellow, on one of my bulletin boards.

So glad you're back on the right side of things; in my onion you've been a bit wide of the mark lately.

jberg 9:48 AM  

Medium for me -- almost all the long answers concealed themselves until I had a few crosses, upon which they suddenly became obvious. Except for COIN TOSS, which was obvious right away but might have been flip. Also, I had mcs before DJS, for some reason.

@Loren, it was nice to see you there in the clues (29A).

Mohair Sam 9:52 AM  

Wow, how clean can a puzzle get? And fun. Zipped right through like everyone else. Probably too easy for a Friday but that's never the constructor's fault. Awesome long downs today.

Got ET at 15A off the downs and wondered if the classic '80s movie quote was French. Was ready to complain about the "Hamilton" song being out of reach - but DUEL and Hamilton certainly go hand in hand.

Burl IVES will forever by that snowman I guess. But he'll always be Big Daddy Pollitt in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to me. Stealing SCENES from Paul Newman and tossing around that great Tennessee Williams word - Mendacity. "There's a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room!"

Reminded of this on "Jeopardy!" last night and by 8D today. From Roger Ebert's review of the movie "North": "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it."

Thanks for the June Foray obit reference @Doug. Losing Rocket J. and Natasha and several others. In the mid-eighties I attended a "Rocky and Bullwinkle" marathon in a theater in downtown Syracuse that lasted five hours and drew over a thousand - cheered wildly, made friends, had a ball. Now we sit alone and stream the episodes on demand into our man caves. I suppose we've come a long way.

@Brookboy - Welcome - go blue.

Terrific puzzle Robyn Weintraub - thank you.

Knitwit 10:05 AM  

Yes! Exactly!

thursdaysd 10:07 AM  

Lovey, smooth puzzle, but really too easy for a Friday (why can't we have themeless puzzles on a Wednesday?) I don't solve with speed in mind, but this took one pass throught the Across clues, one pass through the Downs, and one clean up pass. Under 15 minutes on a Friday which meant I had to go find another puzzle to do.

Knitwit 10:13 AM  

Adding my two cents-great puzzle, great review!
Happy Friday all!!

Lewis 10:18 AM  

LEWIS crossing SLAP. Do I need to be careful today?

Nancy 10:19 AM  

A delight to solve. I like this constructor. I like the way she clues and I like her choices of fill. MICROMANAGE. PLAINSPOKEN. RUN A FEVER. DO I HAVE TO? Lively and conversational, with no junk. And even when she's forced to use crosswordese, look at how differently she clues SSNS (28D), for example. I was thinking of all kinds of triangles and rectangles and such before I got it from the crosses.

Isn't it wonderful that a "dispute settler" today is a COIN TOSS (38A) and not a DUEL (24A). We should remind the revolting congressman who challenged the "females" in the Senate to a DUEL that he's living in the 21st century, not the 18th. Susan Collins called him fat and ugly, or something like that, and then apologized. No need to apologize, Senator -- the bozo absolutely deserved it. Right on, sister!

This was not terribly hard, but I did have inTRUSIVE before OBTRUSIVE at 31D. It was a CROSS OUT once I filled in CROSS OUT. Nice job, Robyn; hope to see more from you.

Ken 10:21 AM  

Personally I prefer a little resistance. There was none here. Nice enough but when I finish this quickly my bride finds more stuff for me to do. I could fake not being done but oh well!

kitshef 10:34 AM  

Very nice puzzle, excellent longs, minimal junk. This is everything a puzzle should be.

I am already completely fed up with Hamilton clues. What percentage of people, even limiting it to the US, have seen Hamilton? Less than 1%, I'd wager. Not suitable for crosswords.

old timer 10:35 AM  

If I did not do the puzzle every morning, and if the constructor was not 100% on my wavelength I might have found this hard. As it was I got BESTMUSICAL right away and was off to the races. I hesitated just a bit in the SE where only MICROMANAGE was obvious at first.

The Senate has PAGES. The Senate is the upper house of Congress. Writing the clue as "House aides" forced a capital House. WS may have rewritten the clue to make it correct.

IVES could be clued as "Currier and ---". But I was glad to be reminded of Burl. One of my favorite people on TV back in the day, and yes, he was brilliant in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

First time I finished a Friday puzzle! Guessing in general, if one starts well & the clued answers flow, then one's in the groove.

Side Bar: In the print edition on page 3, paired to the right of The Mini Crossword, is Here to Help.
Coincidence that the puzzle today was easier than typical for a Friday?

puzzlehoarder 10:36 AM  

Congats to Ms Weintraub, she has out PBed PB1. A hint to all constructors out there, if you can think of an entry off the top of your head so can everyone else. What especially disappointed me about this puzzle beside from its lack of challenge was that there was nothing to look up afterward. There's no arcana, no overlooked nuance of meaning. My Webster's sits unopened. There'll be no post solve underlining or annotation. What does a hoarder get out of a puzzle like this? Seventeen minutes of mindless distraction. I print slow and I can't spell. Personal lack of satisfaction aside, if you can out PB PB1 you really are a top dawg constructor( hi @lms.)

RooMonster 11:04 AM  

Hey All !
While I didn't find this easy-peasy, I did finish 100% correct with no cheating. Yay me! So it must've been easy. :-)

Lots of writeovers, shari-LEWIS (natch, had I put in LEWIS, it would've been Shari), STn-STA, homE-ELLE, hoOPS-loOPS-DROPS, WOw-WOE, stir-ESTE (thinking I was so cool for grokking it as the drink!)

Kept reading 26D and looking at 28D and not realizing it. Really wanted TSAR, but ended up putting in SStS, thinking of the old Russian territories! Har.

Wanted NEV for the Paradise clue, but kept resisting, as it's kind of an obscure clue, at least it seems to me. Funnily (my made up word!) I used to live in that section of Las Vegas (it's a section of Las Vegas, did I forget to mention that?) when I was a renter. But how are people to know that?

DUEL FUEL - A hybrid?
STET STENT - Shorthand for removing said Stent
MESSY TOAST - Too much butter
COLOR IN CORALS CORLEONE, while COUNTing ON a COIN TOSS. OK, now it's just getting silly.


Mohair Sam 11:05 AM  

@puzzlehoarder - "A hint to all constructors out there, if you can think of an entry off the top of your head so can everyone else."

So you're saying the world is full of Merle Reagles?

jb129 11:11 AM  

LOVED this puzzle.

Finished faster on a Friday than usual so this was an enjoyable experience.

Thank you Robyn!

Tyler 11:17 AM  

New record for me: 7:03

Nancy 11:24 AM  

@Glimmerglass (7:22) -- For the first 50 or so years of my life, I "had a temperature" when I was sick. That's the terminology my mother used, and we all follow the patterns of our families when we speak. I never thought anything about it. Then one day I'm playing tennis with a woman's who's a biology teacher and whose mother was a doctor. I told her I hadn't played the week before because I had temperature. "Of course, you 'had temperature', Nancy. Everyone has a temperature! You mean you 'had a fever'." I was completely chastised, realizing that what she was saying was completely logical. Ever since then, I've always been careful to say that I RAN A FEVER. It still doesn't come naturally to me. I have to think about it every single time. But who knows -- there might be another biology teacher or doctor's daughter out there anytime I open my mouth. You can't be too careful.

And yet, I'm still HOLDING DOWN THE FORT on forte, not for-tay.

GILL I. 11:28 AM  

This was a nice easy puzzle. Not exactly a black tie affair but certainly cocktail attire. Smooth, MOET filled glasses and not a mullet in sight.
You people who time yourselves...I wonder what pleasure you derive. Beat the a NEW CAR? I must be missing something. Even when I was working, I would take my break with crossword in hand; finish at home with a glass of Pinot and even take it to bed and cuddle. Sometimes it would be my companion over morning Mimosas and poached eggs. My times are faster now but I still like to take my time and savor pleasures such as PLAIN SPOKEN BEST MUSICAL JALAPENO. When it's over in 3 minutes, do you light up a cigarette?
Thank you Robyn for this quickie Friday that I took my time savoring over some good Italian roast coffee....It lasted 45 minutes.

Matthew G. 11:56 AM  

Friday record for me (7:19). And would probably have been under 7 if the puzzle were still available in the Stand Alone app and I didn't have to correct typos from the clumsy NYT app keyboard.

Dick Swart 12:09 PM  

Absolutely fun and easy. Wheelhouse, wavelength, whatever!

Graham 12:27 PM  

Nice, clean puzzle. But: OBTRUSIVE was clued with the definition for "intrusive." Still, wasn't too hard to discern what the constructor meant.

Masked and Anonymous 1:10 PM  

themelessthUmbsUp, Robyn darlin.

Not near MESSY enough, re: M&A's taste for puzfill desperation. staff weeject is UNI, mainly cuz it starts out so nice. PB1 hears footsteps.
Honrable mention to STA, but it's really fine, if U use a double-?? clue: {No repetition, stat??} = STA.

fave fillins: Everything in the 11-stacks. JALAPENOS. LYMPH.
fave FriPuz activity: Waitin for the other FORT to drop. [Didn't, today.]

CORLEONE COLORIN: "He's resting with the crayons".
yo, @LEWIS.

Thanx for the smooother than snot fun, Ms. Weintraub. Nice, unique shady area "L" decor, in yer grid design. Like.

Masked & Anonym6Us


nick 1:18 PM  

What is 'Lamb Chop' and why should I know it?

Teedmn 1:33 PM  

It's unusual for me to not have a MESSY grid - I try to hold off entering things on impulse without confirming the cross but I'm not very good at it. Anyone who follows the Runt puzzle statistics can confirm that I'm the queen of the CROSS OUTs. @r.alphbunker's program keeps track of erasures and I almost always have the most of any of the solvers, even if I have the lowest time. That said, I only have two today; where I had to change East to ESTE (which I did almost immediately after rethinking the clue) and THoSE colors had to be THESE colors (presumably COLORed IN crayon).

Like @Nancy, I loved the updated clue to SSNS. And TSPS (44A), MONO (48D) and TROIS (26A). Clever cluing can make the most tedious crosswordese seem fresh.

Thanks, Robyn, a very nice themeless and I like the way the center grid looks, sort of like a sideways butterfly.

Mohair Sam 1:59 PM  

c'mon @nick - I tried googling lamb chop lewis (no quotes, no caps) and got more than you'll ever need.

Richard 2:02 PM  

Concur. Not knowing her name before seems like cultural illiteracy.

Masked and Anonymous 2:03 PM  

@nick: Lamb Chop was a sock puppet critter on the Sheri LEWIS kids show, back in the Saturday 60s or so. Sheri darlin was also a funny comedian/ventriloquist, and used the puppets in her comedy acts.

M&A Help Desk

Richard 2:15 PM  

The cast album was wildly popular. Absolutely fair game for crosswords.

Lewis 2:18 PM  

@m&a -- Yo!

kitshef 3:35 PM  

@Richard - guessing your comment is in reply to my Hamilton rant. Wildly popular album may add another quarter of a percent to the total - but more likely there is a lot of overlap between album buyers and live audiences.

Z 6:07 PM  

@Matthew G. - You can still use the StandAlone App. Use your browser (not the NYT Xword app) and navigate to the crossword puzzle (you may want to bookmark this page). In the upper right corner of today's puzzle are two icons, a little printer and a download arrow. Click on the download arrow. My ipad then asks me if I want to use PuzzAzz or StandAlone's crossword app (since those are the two apps I have). PuzzAzz is best for any puzzle that involves any sort of alternative formatting, but StandAlone still works just fine. For whatever reason, PuzzAzz also downloads directly without having to use a browser (as long as you have log in credentials). There is zero reason to use the NYT's proprietary app.

Bill Feeney 6:27 PM  

HUBCAPS was how we knew the undercover police cars back in the old prowling days. For some reason it took years for this tell to disappear.

GR 6:51 PM  

If I may be the 17th to say it was easy, well, it was darn easy (the easiest Friday in recent memory). Liked figuring out "DOIHAVETO" imagining a kid saying it in a whiny voice. Never heard of the Hamilton song, oh well.

@LMS is indeed very correct that constructing a themeless is Not Easy - started one today and rather quickly got stuck.

Mohair Sam 7:03 PM  

@Gill I - Hmmmmm. Maybe a happy medium for the solving conundrum you present is for speed solvers to get stoned before they solve. Then they can have the joy of beating the clock and still the satisfaction of thinking it lasted a long time.

Post-cruciverbial cigarettes would be optional.

Joe Dipinto 7:29 PM  

My favorite clue was "Tequila sunrise direction."

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

@Joe Dipinto,
I'm the fellow you accused of slurred typing last night.
Thanks for your concern, but my abysmal typing is, sadly, the result of a physical limitation. Last night my frailties were exasperated by fatigue.
Not so tonigbht.
Anyway, Chinatown remains overrated. And you, well, I'm confident that you remain a Dick.
Enjoy your tequila sunrise.
If you're in Philly anytime soon, let me know. I'll explain all this to you in person.

mjddon 10:16 PM  

@Matthew G and Z. I thought i was the only one who uses the Stand Alone app. I love it. But so hate the recent change that no longer allows me to sync between devices. I have two iPads and loved that i could start the puzzle on one and continue on the other. I hate that NYT charges me $40 per year and then does this to me. Just sayin'.

Joe Dipinto 2:11 AM  

@Anonymous 8:22 -- It was a joke. Didn't mean to offend. Have a good weekend, buddy.

Robin 2:23 AM  

Clueing of SENSUOUS might have been slightly off. Bu I cannot see that word without thinking of the discussion of the difference between SENSUOUS and SENSUAL in "Animal House".

eveostay 7:59 AM  

I tried BUZZSAWS too!

Unknown 12:28 PM  

I know it's too late to post but hated for this enjoyable love fest to end. I must admit that age and concussions have entered my wheelhouse and left it in shambles so I checked a few words in order to finish but really liked the puzzle.

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Burma Shave 10:52 AM  




spacecraft 10:57 AM  

Easiest Friday in recent memory. Two hiccups: had inTRUSIVE before OB-, and didn't get 24 either across or down till last. Not having seen the "other" BESTMUSICAL, I didn't know what went between "Ten" and "Commandments." And DROPS...well, yeah, OK. I was thinking more "dips." That D was the last letter in.

A very smooth 70-worder with eleven-stacks that mesh remarkably well. Nothing to say IHATEIT about. SSNS is as crutchy as they come, but if that's all you got...Let's say when Robyn came to this point she probably asked "DOIHAVETO?"--and yep, I guess she did. It's OK, sweetie, the rest of it is so good.

DOD is the Divine Miss M; te AMO, BETTE. Her character was certainly PLAINSPOKEN to a fault in the opening scene of "The Rose:"

MANAGER: Whatever you do, don't say "M*********er!"

ROSE: [strides out on stage] "Hiya, m*********ers!"

Not exactly damsel-ish, but what the hey.

It is ironic that here in Syndiland the name LEWIS appears in the grid only a couple of days after Jerry passed, and the name was applied to another LEWIS. RIP, Mr. Original Nutty Professor who was SOOO much funnier than the latter-day one. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Very enjoyable. Thanks!

Longbeachlee 1:46 PM  

Took me a while to see hubcaps because I got hung up on the small widgets that snap on to the lug nuts.

Diana,LIW 2:31 PM  

During the top half it was like someone was whispering the answers in my ear. Sooooo smooth.

The bottom? Not so much. Ever know you know the phrase but it's just hiding around the corner from you? MICROMANAGE - the worst sort of boss, especially if boss couldn't do your job if following a guide book.

Reading "have a not toddy" did not help me out at all. Darn eye floaters. When that cleared up (literally) more smooth sailing ensued.

Haven't read all the Future People - did anyone "complain" about IVES? His mention made me smile.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 5:28 PM  

Sure this was easy, but it was damn fun to solve, and I couldn't care less what day of the week it appeared. PB1-ish, or maybe I should really say quintessential RW.

Ah, Burl Ives, the singer so many seem to hate for some reason, but he was very important in popularizing American Folk Music, always finding variants of popular tunes. Also a fine actor.

Wondering if a glass of Moet with a shot of Sriracha might start a trend...
I'm not a fan of Champagne, and to me the price of the "good ones" isn't justified, if I may be PLAIN SPOKEN.

I liked the adjacent entries of COLOR IN and CORLEONE, for some reason, although I always resent the American spelling of "colour"

Very enjoyable and competently constructed puzzle.

rondo 6:05 PM  

S.O.L. for me. The Journal-Sentinel (HQ 2 blocks away) is apparently associated with USA Today, so no NYT puz to be had unless I go real time (shudder), Walgreen's carries the NYT and WSJ. Can't find the Chicago Sun-Times here. Yet. I'm probably off the blog til Monday.

I saw a mention of Burl IVES. I don't mind his music and as Big Daddy in Giant - fantastic performance IMHO.

By all syndi accounts I missed a nice puz. Dang. But the Milwaukee Museum of Art is quite something. And you can get a local microbrew there (It's WI after all). Recommended.

rondo 6:11 PM  

S.O.L. for me. No NYT puz here except (shudder) real-time. Journal-Sentinel is affiliated w/ USA Today. Tried a bit of a post and it disappeared. Summary: Burl IVES as Big Daddy in Giant Fantastic. Good microbrew at Milw Mus of Art. It's WI after all.

leftcoastTAM 6:55 PM  

Late to the game, which was easy-medium for me.

To cut to the chase: Last letter in was the first "O" in the MONO/OVI cross.

Favorite entry: ETPHONEHOME.

No real WOEs today.

leftcoastTAM 7:13 PM  

@webwinger, way above: very nice suggestion.

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

Without including one answer that was eliminated by being looked up for possible answers in the Tuesday puzzle,I solved every puzzle without hints this entire week from Monday to Friday. Did not up any clues to get the right answer in any puzzle. Only used it to check the spelling and eliminate two possibilities by searching for the answer backward.Just on that day. Does that count?


rondo 9:00 PM  

@Mark - it seems you're getting better, that's what counts.

S.O.L. for finding the puz today. The Sentinel-Journal is affiliated with USA Today, so no NYT puz. Probably no more outta me until Monday.

Saw mention of Burl IVES. Big Daddy in Giant. Say no more.

So I missed a good one. Back next week.

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