Newswoman Cabrera / FRI 8-25-17 / Waters near Mount Erebus / Hallucinogen nicknamed embalming fluid / TV family from planet Remulak / Maker of Scentini fragrances

Friday, August 25, 2017

Constructor: Sam Trabucco

Relative difficulty: Medium? Maybe a tad harder than medium?

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ALEWIFE (11D: Member of the herring family) —
The alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) is an anadromous species of herring found in North America. It is one of the "typical" North American shads, attributed to the subgenus Pomolobus of the genus Alosa. As an adult it is a marine species found in the northern West Atlantic Ocean, moving into estuaries before swimming upstream to breed in fresh water habitats, but some populations live entirely in fresh water. It is best known for its invasion of the Great Lakes by using the Welland Canal to bypass Niagara Falls. Here its population surged, peaking between the 1950s and 1980s to the detriment of many native species of fish. In an effort to control them biologically Pacific salmon were introduced, only partially successfully. As a marine fish, the alewife is a US National Marine Fisheries Service "Species of Concern". (wikipedia)
• • •

Wait, if an alewife is a fish, what's a fishwife?

This is a fine puzzle, but it left me a bit cold. None of the answers really sang to me. I like grids that sing, especially themeless puzzles, which, let's be honest, are easier to construct *well* than themed puzzles are, because, well, you don't have an onerous *theme* hanging around your neck. I have historically liked Friday and Saturday puzzles more than any other day of the week, but I think that's in large part because they aren't simply harder to f*** up. You can do what you want, bend the grid to your will. Themes don't force you into embarrassing fill compromises. So maybe our standards for themelesses should be higher. That, or I should take it easier on themed puzzles (unlikely). Today's puzzle was harder than any Friday I've done in a while (that I can remember), but I still finished in under 7, so... I think I don't know what's average for me on a Friday anymore. Or else I can no longer distinguish adequately between moderate but meaningful resistance and full-on hardness. Several sections of this (the NW, the SW, due east) were very very easy. But their symmetrical counterparts were all bears.

[60A: "No problem at all"]

I just blanked on HEGIRA (25A: Muhammad's flight), and this was a crucial blanking, as that's a transition answer (taking me from one section of the grid to the next). With the first two letters in on a 6-letter word, I'm normally good to go, but ... nope. So I had to reboot to get into the NE, which ended up being bonkers, with PCP (10D: Hallucinogen nicknamed "embalming fluid") instead of LSD and a fish (ALEWIFE) I didn't know existed. Plus I went with HAVE A SNOOZE before TAKE A SNOOZE at first, oof.  In the west, I didn't know ANA (32A: Newswoman Cabrera), could Not get TAN (35A: Like much sandpaper) and forgot INDRA (39A: Hindu war deity), such that even with the (easy) BANANA PEELS in place, I got stuck for a bit over there. And then there was the SE, where the capitalization of Dumpster (49A: Raccoon in a Dumpster, e.g.) really, really threw me. I thought "Raccoon in a Dumpster" was a show or a meme or something. A title, at any rate. Certainly not a plain old raccoon in a plain old Dumpster-brand Dumpster. Argh. Again, a transition answer failed me, so I struggled a bit getting my teeth into that corner. So it felt hard, but my time seems pretty normal, but it's possible I have to recalibrate "normal." I can't pan (...) this puzzle—it's reasonably well made—but I think I'm gonna start demanding that themelesses be truly joyous and delightful experiences. I mean, it's the "best puzzle in the world," right? Seems appropriate to expect greatness.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:19 AM  

I printed out the puzzle around 7pm PDT. My bride had a late lunch with our granddaughter ( shopping for college) and wasn't hungry. So made my self a PB&J sandwich, cut up some left over melon (honeydew not casaba) and figured I'd work on the puzzle. Then I remembered that Fri. puzzles have been pretty easy lately so I picked up a Sat. from Nov. 1997 that I was going to start on my walk tomorrow morning. My concern was that the Fri. would be finished before the PB&J. Sometimes you make the right call. I finished less than 25% of the Sat. If I'd done the Fri. I would have been staring at the chandelier for at least half of the sandwich.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the puzzle. There was plenty of GOOD STUFF. I just would prefer the challenges we frequently had in days of yore. It is a good thing Newsday has the Stumper every Sat. and BEQ has a tough one every Mon.

Unknown 12:28 AM  

Raccoon in a dumpster got me thinking that "trash panda" would be fun fill for a crossword.

Greg Charles 12:29 AM  

On the easy side for me for a Friday. I finished in less than half my Friday average time, though I'm sure at least still twice Rex's worst.

puzzlehoarder 12:38 AM  

As much as I found yesterday's puzzle irritating this one was so easy it made me nostalgic for it. The only odd entry was HELLA and it was completely toothless in a grid full of familiar words. Would it kill the constructor to work in some challenging material? For a late week NYT puzzle simply looking good just doesn't cut it.

Dawn 12:46 AM  

Finished in half my Friday time too and found the answers to flow easily. The Deity of War in Hinduism could be Rudra or Durga, maybe even Shiva, but not INDRA. That one should have been more accurately clued. Liked ULTRASONIC, PUFFERFISH and BANANAPEELS.

Mike in Mountain View 1:12 AM  

Fun puzzle, great clue on TAROTCARDS, but the biggest smile came from Rex's "pan" joke. Thanks, Rex. Thanks, Sam.

Unknown 1:16 AM  

Fastest Friday for me on record clocking in at seven minutes. The only hiccough was HEJIRA instead of HEGIRA which gave me JRADS.
otherwise fairly breezy solve.

Fave answer: Coneheads

Johnny 1:31 AM  

I thought this puzzle was great. I went through it not quite methodically but a lot of crossing expeditions throughout. For the lower four fifths of the puzzle I bogged a bit in the center because I had "rough" for HEATH and "alien" for FLIER. I fixed those, and then I noticed that the whole top fifth was empty. That section took some work but was all gettable or guessable or crossable.

I really like the word ASSAY. It's a solid word and it sounds good, and it's kind of an antique yet fully functional word.

Trombone Tom 2:03 AM  

Really enjoyed the puzzle. Lots of good answers and the clues for TAROT CARDS and ULTRASONIC were outstanding. SORORITY ROW wasn't obvious to me until nearly all the NE was complete. Not the most challenging Friday but still a good workout.

Dolgo 2:49 AM  

Much too easy for a Friday. Now what do I do to get to sleep?

Dolgo 3:04 AM  

I remember when I was in had school in Indiana. My parents had just moved to Chicago and the sleeves wer dying on the beaches. As Rex said, a real problem solved with coho salmon. I got a job in far Northern California where they are a native species. Quite the coincidence.
@Kris I LOVE "trash panda"!

Dolgo 3:08 AM  

DAMN the auto-correct!! I tried three times to get alewives and still wound up with "sleeves" even though I turned off the pesky feature!! You have to check it carefully all the time.

no one 3:24 AM  

I miss George Barany's regular comments. They always are interesting v Rex's ! Looking forward to his regular comments

Vincent Lima 4:37 AM  

Me too with HEjIRA first. Grads, of course, fixed that. Though, to me, that was more of a hiccup than a hiccough. Merriam-Webster says the origin of the word is imitative, so it's not like cup is a bastardization of cough. :)

I enjoyed the puzzle.

Anonymous 5:06 AM  

Subconsciously confused by the capitalization of Dumpster while solving. @Rex illuminates. On the ALEWIFE: "anadromous" apparently means migrating up rivers from the sea to spawn.

Kinda disturbed that the Wikipedia entry for the Buzzcocks starts off "The Buzzcocks are" and not "were." My freshmen year suite mates were fans. "What Do I Get" pretty brilliant.

evil doug 5:09 AM  

TAN sandpaper is about as green as paint can be.

"...because they aren't simply harder to f*** up."

Why are those symbols more acceptable than the symbols u-c-k? When one reads that sentence, does he say to himself, 'f-star-star-star'? Or 'fasterisks'? No. She says 'fuck'. So if that's the word you choose to use, quit fucking around and just use it.

Awfully easy for Friday.

Lewis 6:07 AM  

Hmmm. No awfully easy for me. Which turned out to be a blessing.

I pecked my way through this fine puzzle, often thinking, "This one's not going to fall". And just when I was about to pull out the white flag, a glorious AHA came. Right through to the very end. And so, this was a most satisfying solve!

GOOD STUFF, SAM, and play it again soon!

Lewis 6:08 AM  

"One blowing up when threatened" leaves a bad taste in my mouth these days.

Unknown 6:23 AM  

They often come back to haunt you.

Posts(e.g. Drunk tweets)

Anonymous 6:33 AM  

Please tell us more about your sandwich. Riveting.

Hungry Mother 7:07 AM  

Super easy today, but no complaints here.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

We’ve had the discussion, fairly recently, about DAREME. Just stop it. NEVER EVER. I DO MIND. Bad STUFF.

Probably took about as long as this week’s Monday. No crunch, just fill in the grid.

BarbieBarbie 7:41 AM  

Funny puzzle... Lots of long answers with multiple possibilities, so I had kind of a mess going until I got to Remulak, which has only produced one family. So I consumed mass quantities, and anchored there, after that it felt easier, but there was so much undo-ing that I would not call this puzzle easy. Overall Medium.
So... Fridays and Saturdays are the only themeless days, and Fridays are easier than Saturdays. Right? Who is making the rules about the limits on "easier?" Nobody here, that's who. Stop com***ining.

TSG 7:47 AM  

also easy for a friday for me. our fearless leader is allowed an off day now and again.

Space Is Deep 7:48 AM  

Fun, easy puzzle. Any time I finish a Friday puzzle before going to work is a good way to start the day. ALEFISH was a total mystery.

Glimmerglass 7:49 AM  

The traffic report in Boston often mentions the Alewife Brook Parkway. At some point in my life I must have asked wtf is an alewife? So 11D was a gimme. @Rex, if the puzzles don't sing for you, maybe (like Prufrock) it's just you.

QuasiMojo 8:01 AM  

Okay, so it wasn't PERKY but it was a fine puzzle and I'm glad it didn't have a theme. I don't like theme puzzles because the fill suffers, at least when, as I'm told, many constructors use computer programs to fill in the rest. This is an old-fashioned but still relevant puzzle that took me less than 15 minutes. I prefer ones that take a half-hour, but I am not going to nitpick over time. FRESH-FACED, PUFFER FISH, ROSS SEA, TAROT CARDS, CONEHEADS, just for examples, what's not to love?

Passing Shot 8:23 AM  

Not sure I understand Rex's complaint. This was a nice, smooth, well-crafted puzzle with little dreck. Liked HELLA, and the cluing for ODOREATERS and TAROT CARDS. TAKE A SNOOZE crossing DOZE, ALEWIFE crossing PUFFERFISH (along with ROD and REELS): a lazy day fishing is a nice way to spend a Friday. Thank you, Mr. Trabucco.

G. Weissman 8:39 AM  

Not casaba? Really?

Bill Feeney 8:42 AM  

Took over 39 minutes. A paean to those of you out there who marvel at the easiness factor for so many posters here.

Stanley Hudson 8:43 AM  

Pretty fucking easy for a fucking Friday, eh @evil doug?

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Rex, your never-ending complaint "I mean, it's the 'best puzzle in the world,' right?" sounds like Trump.

Two Ponies 9:02 AM  

Lots to enjoy today. I guess I prefer themeless puzzles as well.
I was so sure that the herring relative was an anchovy, it fit.
@ Dolgo, I remember seeing thousands of dead alewife fish washed up on the beach in Lake Michigan as well.
Hey, there's Ernie Els! Where were you on Wednesday?
Nice trivia about Rhea.
I always heard the expression as ham fisted, not handed.
@ ed, I thought the same about tan sandpaper. The swearing thing is spot on. Why is a silly word like fudge acceptable when we all know what you really mean? Just say it for Pete's sake.
Having the clues for hegira and puffer fish so close made it impossible for me not to make a grim connection in my mind.
@Rex seems pretty relaxed today but I actually like it better when he's wearing his curmudgeon cloak.

mathgent 9:05 AM  

I'm a little bitter about "Dumpster" being capitalized. It cost me a lot of time with no payoff. I thought "Raccoon in a Dumpster" had to be the title of something. I Googled "Should dumpster be capitalized" and found an article which said that it had been capitalized years ago when a copyright was in force but that it is incorrect to capitalize it now. Shame on you, Will Shortz!

Some very nice stuff here but my struggle in the SE ruined it for me.

RooMonster 9:08 AM  

Hey All !
One letter DNF, again, once more, happens all the time. . . :-)

Yes, ended up with PoSTS/oLEWIFE, which I thought was a pretty funny name for a fish! "Yessiree, got the OLE WIFE here with me", said one fish to the other.

Liked puz overall, found it to be easy, about 25 minutes here, which for me is quick for a FriPuz. Some nice fill, and a few fun clues. Plus 6 F's!



Nancy 9:11 AM  

The only thing worse than having a puzzle wipe the mat with you is coming here and finding out that solver after solver found it easy. I almost never give up, but I realized that there was no way I was solving this. NO NO NEVER. Which I had instead of NEVER EVER. Which made the state capital (47D) P-NT-. Which, since I'm terrible at geography, I took to be a capital that I simply didn't know. Of which there are many, many.

I also wanted fiRTH instead of HEATH, though it didn't fit, so I didn't write it in. I didn't know -NDRA (39A). I, of course, didn't know CONEHEADS. I had no idea who Raccoon in a Dumpster was. I didn't know AVON, though if I'd had NEVER EVER, I would have had the V and would have seen it. I did get TAROT CARDS (43A), though initially I wanted mARs something-or-other. I dub that clue an OOTBCE (One of the Best Clues Ever). A washout for me. I wish I could say I DON'T MIND, but I do.

Tita 9:13 AM  

Easy for a Friday... I musta been on the same wavelength as the constructor, because even if if didn't get the answer instantly, I knew where he was heading...
SE was the hardest...NonotEVER and RtS held me up.

Never knew Dumpster was a brand name. Most idiotic thing that I have learned from crosswords that I will retain forever is that the company was started by the Dempster Bros.
(What useful bit of info has fallen off the other side of the cookie tray of my brain to make room for this, I wonder?)

There is an ALEWIFE T station in Cambridge. The first house we rented on Cape Cod was near ALEWIFE Brook. So that was a happy gimme.

Thanks Mr. T. I liked this fine...struggled enough to make me thrilled that I could finish a Friday. Oh hell, I'm always thrilled when I can finish a Friday!

Nancy 9:21 AM  

@Evil Doug (5:09). I love "fasterisks".

More Whit 9:24 AM  

The SE corner was the traffic jam for me today, with ultrasound and never mind gumming up the works. Coneheads brought sonic instead of sound, "never" shifted up a row, and the rest was history.

Maruchka 9:33 AM  

Hands up for SORORITY ROW. Quaint and cute, conjures up Flirtation Walk, Kept thinking of religious orders.. but then would have to be capitalized, yes/no?

Nicely nicely done, Mr. Trabucco.

Tests/PASTS (well, they can, too); Vegas/HEIST; marsh/HEATH.

Favorite F word rant: F**k you, you f**ing Fascist f**ks!

I agree, @no one. Always a pleasure to hear from @GeorgeB. Is he away?

Z 9:39 AM  

My favorite fake cussing is Shut the Front Door replacing Shut the Fuck Up. Fools the kids, I'm sure. And, while I agree 110% with @Evil on the inanity of fuksteriks we all know the reason Rex does it is that plain English, especially Anglo-Saxon based words, gets complaints and fuksteriks don't. Personally, give me a well-reasoned "fuck you" over petty anonymous jibes any day.

No one else was amused by Rex's "I've been too easy on themelesses" musings? Cracks me up.

As for ALEWIFEs (or is it alewives?), I remember well the smell of dead ones on the TAN sand at Ottawa Beach every spring. Not exactly the most tourist friendly scene to go with the Tulip Festival. Here's hoping for a similar simple effective solution to the impending Asian Carp Crisis. Now I'm kinda bummed that I didn't get the answer at first and so filled it all from crosses. I didn't even notice that ALEWIFEs were cluttering the TAN beaches of the puzzle.

@Anon9:01 - I think that is the point of Rex's carping.

@mathgent - Do we capitalize Kleenex? If I'm referring to the brand, yes. If I'm referring to any old tissue paper, no. Clearly our FORAGER was hanging out in an original Dempster Dumpster and not just any old generic metal refuse collector. And now I know more about the origin of the word dumpster than is healthy.

Josh 9:51 AM  

The clueing for John Hancock (34a) was incorrect. John Hancock is a financial services company, whereas Aetna is an insurance company.

Matthew G. 9:58 AM  

Interesting that Rex thought this harder than the average Friday. I actually came close to a personal Friday record today, which for me means just above 7 minutes--still slower than Rex, but much closer than I usually am to his times.

I got off to a rocket start with GOOD STUFF and FRESH-FACED coming to me intuitively. The gimmes kept coming -- GRAND RAPIDS (I'm a presidential trivia buff), BANANA PEELS, CONEHEADS ... I had the grid half-full by the 2:30 mark, and was dreaming of my first sub-6 finish on a NYT themeless, but I slowed down considerably at the conjunction of INDRA, ROSS SEA, PASHAS, and HEATH -- that section took me about as third as long as the rest of the grid combined.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  


Fuck you.

PoopyPants 10:02 AM  

Not surprised that Rex does not remember "full-on hardness." The jokes write themselves, really, right Evil Doug?

Wanted "Bigly" for "Hella" originally.

A puzzle comes along with some fresh words (the aforementioned "Hella," "Neverever," "Fresh Faced," and the never before used in NYT "Pufferfish" and "Good stuff") and the constructor gets NO credit for this, though the staleness of other puzzles never ceases to be mentioned. Just a backhanded compliment that the kind of puzzle he tries to construct is easier than others. What. A. Pill.

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:03 AM  

I really liked the clues in this one. Like, funny and/or witty but not trying to be more than what they are. Just the right amount of Friday punniness. Maybe that clouded my judgment but I quite enjoyed this one.

GHarris 10:06 AM  

Often feel as Nancy does today, "how can everyone find it so easy when it's so hard for me." But not today. I solved on my iPad without a cheat or a Google. Liked the crossing of dry run with dehydrates.

Sir Hillary 10:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Hillary 10:16 AM  

@Benjamin Foley highlighted my undoing -- I DNF due to thinking PoSTS can come back to haunt you. As I know fluke-all about the herring family, oLEWIFE seemed reasonable, although it was amusing to imagine someone saying, "Gee, the olewife sure ain't biting today."

Anyone but me initially go with tRYoUt instead of DRYRUN? Funny that TRY appeared later with the same clue.

Aside from that, this was pretty solid. The long entries are all quite GOODSTUFF.

I can use "helluva" in a sentence, but not HELLA. Can someone show me?

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Josh at 9:51 is incorrect. Hancock sells insurance as well.

Ken 10:22 AM  

On the money Jae. Thank God for the Stumper. The Times has become a joke. If you make a puzzle challenging then you may offend a millenial who always gets a trophy.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

@Sir Hillary - Hella is very common to the West Coast and in fact originated in San Francisco.

I found this puzzle on the easy side, but admittedly I'm much better at the ones that require lateral thinking over trivia.

Bob Mills 10:26 AM  

It might or might not have been Will Shortz' fault, but "Raccoon in a Dumpster" looks like a story title or show title because "Dumpster" is capitalized. "Forager" describes a raccoon in a dumpster (lower case).

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

liked it. had ROUGH and BEACH before HEATH. Never ever heard of HEGIRA

Joseph Michael 10:44 AM  

Fun Friday romp with some really great clues throughout. TAROT CARDS as the observation deck of the future, for example, was first rate.

And here, at last, is Ernie ELS looking for Joe Kidd's earlier week puzzle. Sorry, Ernie, you missed it by two days.

Got hung up in two spots. In the NE, I wanted my sisters to be nuns in a convent of some kind, so that slowed things down there, especially with HEGIRA as one of the crosses.

In the SW, the elusive ROSS SEA caused a few problems at first, especially with INDRA as a cross.

But overall the solve was smooth and easy for a Friday. GOOD STUFF, Sam. I don't really get Rex's complaint. If the puzzle isn't making him happy enough, perhaps he needs to sit down somewhere and listen to ODE TO JOY.

jberg 10:54 AM  

I did not find this easy, but I loved it. So many nice entries like GOOD STUFF, CONEHEADS, ODOR EATERS; then the multiple kinds of test, TAKE A SNOOZE and DOZE getting together to catch some Zs (or catch one, anyhow). At first glance it might seem to require too much knowledge of Roman and Hindu theology, combined with Islamic social statuses, but you have to go with the general crossword rule that you can throw away the specifics and go with "some Hindu deity."

I grew up on Lake Michigan, so contrary to @Rex the only entries I was sure of were ALEWIFE and HEGIRA. The rest was slow to come and required a few restarts, but it was a great experience.

One experience did GRATE, though -- pairing the singular ROD with multiple REELS. I don't know why -- I used to do a lot of fly fishing, and I actually would set out for the stream with one rod and two reels (one with floating line, one with sinking line), but I would never say it that way.

What I learned today: PERTH is on the Indian Ocean. Makes sense, but I needed all the crosses. If Petra was the capital of anything I'd have been sunk.

SethC 10:55 AM  

I work at Avon. Scentini is a pretty obscure product to reference. They haven't been sold since 2012, and were really only in line for about a year.

Then again, 4 letters + cosmetic is usually Avon, but it gave me pause because I completely forgot about them...

Carola 10:56 AM  

I'm with those who found it easy - but I thought it was a FRESH-FACED Friday, engaging all the way. First in: GOD and ODE, enough to unlock the NW and then a pleasant amble criss-crossing to the CONEHEADS in the opposite corner. Like a few others, I had to correct HEjIRA but may be the only one in the dunce cap who first had Superman as a FLyER. Also remembered ALEWIFE from the die-offs in Lake Michigan.

@GHarris, I also liked how DEHYDRATE gave DRY RUN a new meaning (when you've forgotten to take your water bottle).

jb129 11:14 AM  

I found it hard & had to cheat - no fun for me.

GILL I. 11:21 AM  

@jae...I loved your PBJ sandwich story. Did you pour yourself a glass of milk?
Well....I stared at this for quite some time and thought oooh boy, this one is going to kill me. Did my usual drink another glass of wine and see what you can come up with. Hancocks PEN was my first entry. Stared a bit more and thought it's gotta be PUFFERFISH. It was. I was so happy with myself. That alone exhausted me no end so I went to bed.
Get up, walk the pups, make coffee tackle the puzzle. after the other just kept popping in. I remembered ALEWIFE from some other puzzle and so that whole eastern seaboard filled itself in.
Onto the middle section were I thought HECKA was extremely correct. Nope, Superman wasn't an FK anything. Easily fixed.
The clue for TAROT CARDS was supremo. The puzzle was enjoyable and I'm happy when I can finally finish a Friday with an extra glass of wine and a good nights sleep.....
Oh...saying fuck or writing it doesn't bother me. You have to know when to use it though. Delivery is everything and if used wisely, it can be quite funny - especially if your grandmother says it.

TOCraig 11:26 AM  

Easy, but chewy. Enjoyed it. Thanks, Sam.

Lurker Librarian 11:43 AM  

@sirhillary Hella is used like an adverb, substituting for "very," "many" or similar words.

Here's an example: I made a helluva mess so my mom was HELLA mad.

RooMonster 11:52 AM  

@Sir Hillary 10:16
You failed to mention my post on the oLEWIFE. ;-)

HELLA examples: (you asked...)
This puz was HELLA easy.
That joke was HELLA funny.
I'm HELLA stoked to see that movie.
My muscles are HELLA big.
That football game was HELLA exciting.

Enough? Yeah, thought so. :-)


Sir Hillary 12:09 PM  

@Roo - I started my post at about 8:30am, got distracted by a long phone call, then finished it and posted almost 2 hours later! Lots happened during that interval, including your post. Nice to see someone beside me had a laugh at oLEWIFE. And that's a HELLA large number of HELLA examples...

Two Ponies 12:21 PM  

Hell of a
Shall we just forget words altogether?
Is all of this nonsense like adorbs yesterday
just a product of speed-typing into your phone?
I don't mind a bit of shortening for convenience
or humor but a portmanteau is as for as I care
to go.
But what do I know? I still solve with paper and
pen and even write real letters that are sent in
the mail. I'll be dead soon anyway and ancient customs
like writing and speaking in person will die with me.
Carry on.

old timer 12:21 PM  

Very good puzzle and a very thoughtful review from OFL today, though I was so totally impressed with the SNOOZE/DOZE cross that I could NEVER EVER find this one substandard, I was wowed by the PERTH misdirect too, and the (to me) misleading clue for ROSS SEA. I was certain that mountain must be in the Caucasus.

BTW, wasn't the Captain of the Pinafore NEVER EVER sick at sea? That's how I remember it, anyway.

kitshef 12:26 PM  

@Sir Hillary: "That puppy is HELLA adorbs!"

Tita 12:30 PM  

@Bob Mills... it is exactly that sort of misdirection that Will, or the constructor, is most certainly intentional.

Come to think of it, just Raccoon would have been enough. Anywhere he is, he is a FORAGER.

Anonymous 12:37 PM

Unknown 12:38 PM  

Rex: "I thought 'Raccoon in a Dumpster' was a show or a meme or something. A title, at any rate."

Raccoon in a dumpster, I know, I know, it's serious..

Tita 12:40 PM  

Rex might have a more mundane reason for using the less-jarring fasterisk(tm).
It may affect google's ranking of your web site. I believe that google has gotten more laid back about iprofanity, but if you are all about getting on the first page, why risk it?

Unknown 12:42 PM  

Agree. There are certainly many other words to use if he seeks to avoid offending people.

Masked and Anonymous 12:56 PM  

thUmbsUp for the great clues of the future in this puppy. Above all else, that was what sang to m&e.

@RP's search for meaning in one's life of ever-evolvin crossword solve&critique-Hegira-in' was also real entertainin. [M&A misspelt it as HEdIRA at first, btw.] Best quip in there, other than maybe the "f*** up" one, was: "don't have an onerous *theme* hanging around your neck". [I'm with @GILL I. … swear words are perfectly day-um good words, if used in some moderation. My grandma's fave was "bullshit" -- at least when visitin with me. I vote for a no-hellas-barred swear-word NYTPuz theme … then it could lay claim to "World's Saltiest Crossword" … altho, BEQ's xword-website could put up a fight for the title, of course. But I digress.]

staff weeject pick: CAF. Partial to it. Looks kinda wacky, out there on its own. Better clue: {Half caffed??}. Primo weeject stacks in the NW & SE. They're PERKY.

This just in: HELLA does not yet have Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. PB1 probably woulda gone with NEATH/NILLA or DEATH/DELLA. Rest of the fillins today seem pretty PB1-esque, tho. He mighta balked at CAF, mayhaps. Hey, Sam, can U dig bein in the same league with PB1? [Congratz, dude.]

themelessthUmbsUp. Part on account of REELS-ROD + SNOOZE/DOZE + ALEWIFE/PUFFERFISH. And mainly the superb clues.
Thanx, Mr. T2.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Hartley70 12:58 PM  

This puzzle was a breezy Friday and I enjoyed it late last night. I fell for the J in HEGIRA, but fixed it, and while I know what the CONEHEADS look like, I didn't know their backstory. I had to wait for HEADS before I could guess CONE. PERTH was a surprise when it appeared from the crosses. All in all, it's a Friday to make one feel smart.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

@Dave OB - I saw what you did there.

Gallant crew 1:15 PM  

@Old Timer, it's "never, never," not "never, ever." Sorry.

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

A new Friday record here - under ten minutes. I just said, "What? Can't be!". But the two hardest answers per @Rex were right in my wheelhouse. Many's the space-faring science fiction book which calls the departure of a population in a colony ship in order to cross the galaxy a HEGIRA. And when we go down-rigging on Lake Michigan, we look for the ALEWIFE clouds so we can troll through them, looking to ENTICE a Chinook or Coho or lake trout onto our lures (which are attached to our RODs and REELS). I love the sound of the wind singing through the cables and I hate the smell of the motor. Door County, WI is the place to be.

My only writeover was from bEAcH to HEATH. I was harking back to a puzzle not long ago where some sort of beach grass was in or not in everyone's knowledge base, depending on whether they lived on the coast or not (sedge possibly?). So that made HELLA start out as bELLA. But once TAROTCARDS showed up, I could see my future did not include bEAcH. (@Nancy, I was thinking "Mars" at 43A also, funny!)

Nice point, @Tita A, about the Google ranking. I didn't realize that profanity factored into that. Good thing my company's website is pretty curse-free :-). We're always trying to be the top Google hit in our industry.

I agree with @ED and others that hiding the F-Bomb with asterisks seems ridiculous. But I don't object to the "fudge" type words. I do hate the "bleeping out" of swear words on reality TV shows that leave 3/4 of the words in so you know exactly what the people are saying. Same with rap songs on the radio. Eye roll when I hear it. One needn't use that sort of language promiscuously (exactly, @Gill I).

I liked the clever cluing on 52D One with a feature role? for GENE and 22D's Order to go = BEAT IT had me misdirected with the noun vs. verb usage. But not enough to give this puzzle any crunch.

Thanks, Sam Trabucco, this was a very smooth Friday.

Chip Hilton 1:18 PM  

@RooMonster - PoSTS is such a reasonable answer for things that can haunt people that I never really questioned oLEWIFE. Just sounded charmingly Minnesotan to me.

@Bill Feeney - You and I, brother. Right in that 0:39 category. And thrilled with it.

Thanks, Sam Trabucco, for a delightful, appropriately difficult Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Last Saturday, and again today, the puzzles fell into my wheelhouse and were way too easy for their days. Not that I am that good a solver, but sometimes many of the answers in a puzzle are familiar. Actually looking forward to tomorrow and a hard puzzle.

turkmurphy 1:26 PM  

Maybe spending too much time online. Put posts in 10a instead of pasts. Not knowing fish except to order for dinner olewife didn't give me a warning. Sad pencil.

Ellen S 2:16 PM  

@Tita A -- I read yesterday's comments all the way down to your he-goat story. Typical! I had a pair of dogs used to do that. We were trying to make the dogs not sleep on the bed. Younger dog kept waking us (me) up during the night, needing to go out, then "needing" to go downstairs for a drink of water (really!) and finally, on the last night of this nonsense, as I went to open the bedroom door, the older dog got up from the corner next to the door and the younger one scooted over to take his warm place. We gave up and let them on the bed and miraculously the younger one never needed to get up again in the middle of the night.

OISK 2:28 PM  

Right in my wheelhouse - under 15 minutes, and I spent an hour on yesterday's DNF. ( Pau??) Really enjoyed it, and needed the ego boost after far too many recent failures. Surprised Nancy had trouble with it, since we are generally on similar solving wave lengths. Alewife and Hegira are familiar to me, and I visited Grand Rapids last fall. Good stuff.

kitshef 3:25 PM  

@Ellen S, @Tita A - when we got our first dog, my father was adamant that she would not go on the furniture and would sleep in the basement. The first week we had her, into the basement she would go, where she would cry. My father would get out of bed, slip down in the basement, and sleep on the floor to soothe her. After a week of sleeping on the floor, he'd had enough and from then on she was welcome anywhere in the house.

Thomaso808 3:25 PM  

@Evil your comment was fasterisking awesome!

Margaret 4:45 PM  

Overall this was a decent Friday puzzle for me. Like Sir Hilary I was bothered by the "Hella" clue, but see that others do use the word as suggested in the puzzle.

But I could use some help with Half-caf. What is that? A half cup of coffee? A cup that is half coffee and half decaf? I have never heard this, obviously -- perhaps I don't get to Starbucks enough.


Joe Dipinto 5:01 PM  

I thought this was going to be a hard one when I first perused the clues. But I started with HEIST and then worked my way up the left side, down the middle, and back up the right with nary a pause. I agree with Rex that, while all the answers are intrinsically fine, there's a certain lack of zip. I think it's that the cluing seemed *too* straightforward overall.

Phil Schifley 5:47 PM  

Fast and easy, with a feel that tended more towards Wednesday than the weekend. Felt current, but just wasn't challenging enough. Although that often bodes for a hard Saturday.

Arden 5:53 PM  

Too easy for a Friday.

Cassieopia 6:33 PM  

I liked what @teedmn said
Though the puzzle went over my head
Had to google and cheat
To find some of the meat
But too many of my squares were red :(

Joe Dipinto 6:48 PM  

@SethC 10:55 -- "Scentini" sounds like some sort of cut of pasta. "I'd like to order the Scentini With Fragrant Grapefruit-Tarragon-Lamb Ragù, please."

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

years ago I lived in DC, and had friends who lived in Bethesda. raccoons owned the place. chimneys had to be covered in rebar to keep the critters out.

BarbieBarbie 7:21 PM  

@Gallant and @oldtimer, I think the captain says "never never" about himself and then the helpful crew chimes in with their echo but switches it to "hardly ever." Sick at sea, that is.

Give three cheers and one cheer more...

BarbieBarbie 7:25 PM  

Wow, my oldest synapse just fired, giving me the whole sequence:

(What, never?)
No, never.
(What, never?)
Well........ Hardly ever!
(He's hardly ever sick at sea...)

Chim cham 7:26 PM  

Oh my god; very literal Lol! Your opening joke made me choke on my drink.

Joe Dipinto 7:39 PM  

@Margaret 4:45 -- Your second guess is correct: half caffeinated, half not.

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RooMonster 7:49 AM  

Hey, I went to that site, http- love spell to get you Rex back- and ended up back here!

Har. . . ;-)


BrucieK 12:56 PM  

Should have been HELLUVA

Tarheeled 11:38 AM  

Rex. A fishwife is a loud, haranguing woman. This was fairly easy, except I had to leap all over the place to get a letter here and a letter there (good ol' plural esses). The words just fell into place. I was familiar with every answer. Very unusual for me these days with all the reference to the latest music, movies, techno, etc. I'm 83 for goodness sake. I mainly dig the old stuff. Fun puzzle. Great clues.

Juanita Melanie 7:44 AM  

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Burma Shave 9:46 AM  


IDON’TMIND that they ENTICED and PAWED me so,
and, OOH GOD, two-HANDED they BEATIT enough.


spacecraft 11:04 AM  

I'll give @BS a birdie on this one: GOODSTUFF indeed, dude. This is one of those brain-exercising Friday jobbies. If finished, triumph factor guaranteed to be ULTRASONIC...or at least too high to catch. And I did finish, so TF++.

Way in was the old BANANAPEELS, yuk yuk. [Why is only the second yuk redlined? Weird] Momentary problem down there when I wanted VAULT for the Ocean's 11 focus. Well...? Hand up for the capitalized Dumpster throwing me off. Portmanteaus lose their capitals after a while, methinks. Hand me a Kleenex. Hey, spellcheck capped that one FOR me! Natick, anyone? Nope, not today, so just medium-challenging.

Nothing ultimately unfair here, but in many places still hard to dig out. It's a gym for the old noodle--again, GOODSTUFF. HELLA was unknown, and keeps the ball rolling on my condensed-language gripe. DOD candidates include 50's actress GENE Tierney, about whom Hawkeye Pierce once said, "I'm a sucker for an overbite," (me too), but the winnah is the FRESH-FACED ANA Cabrera: OOH! IDONTMIND! Birdie.

P.S. Glancing over yesterday's solution, I was amazed anew at the magnitude of what they pulled off. Let me upgrade that to an eagle.

Diana,LIW 1:09 PM  

If I hadn't put in the wrong sailors and the wrong state (gobs, Ohio if you must know) the NW would have been as easy/moderate/challenging as the rest - which I did get.

Now puzzles need to sing to @Rex? Sing? I had some singing going on as answers revealed themselves to me.

Knew HELLA. Hey @Spacy - there's a deck of "slang" flash cards I got over 10 years ago that taught me lots of slang (which probably isn't as current as OFL would like). The cards had a slang word/phrase on one side, and the reverse had the definition using "Dick and Jane" type drawings. Pretty silly and memorable. Put "slang flashcards" into Google and you'll see plenty of images. My fav, "It's been hella dope working with you. Your ruffled blouses are da bomb. Peace."

Back to the Dumpster.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Fun, challenging, fair. The answer to "shoe-in" was terrific.

rondo 1:53 PM  

This puz was pretty GOODSTUFF. TRY as I might IDONTMIND that I see no write-overs; nothing to REDO. Coupla long gimmes with BANANAPEELS and CONEHEADS. Had no idea that ALEWIFE is a fish, sounds more like a barmaid.

In my day a Malibu was a hard-top or a convertible, not a SEDAN, more of a hot ROD. Shame to label these recent four door Chevys after a classic, but the newer ones are getting better.

GRANDRAPIDS is also a city in MN. Probably not as big as GRANDRAPIDS, MI, but usually good in H.S. hockey.

The days of Cronkite and Chancellor are in our PASTS. These days more than half the news comes from the likes of yeah baby ANA Cabrera, FRESHFACED and stylin’.

Nice puz today, wish I could TAKEASNOOZE.

rainforest 2:07 PM  

From a modest beginning with ____EST for 19A, TEE, and HE_IRA, this puzzle gradually went from medium challenging to easy as I wove my way clockwise from the East.

One write-over with ofF going to CAF, and a lot of smoothness otherwise. I thought this was an excellent Friday puzzle, maybe a little easier than some would like, but with great clues throughout and basically sound, in-the-language answers.

You know, @BS, I think I'd die in that scenario...

rondo 2:37 PM  

Went to the google and wasn't even close. GRANDRAPIDS, MN has a population of about 11,000. GRANDRAPIDS, MI about 200,000. Only a factor of 18X difference.

leftcoastTAM 3:05 PM  

Friday solid, cleverly clued, and seemed relatively easy, with help from the long downs, until it wasn't. Slower going in moving toward the SE.

On the way, paused to note the intersecting fish species, the familiar PUFFELFISH and the unfamiliar ALEWIFE. Under the PUFF was HELLA(?), just another adorbs to me.

The SE: The crossing downs didn't seem to help much--until they did. Filling in NEVEREVER, IDONTMIND, and CONEHEADS was very satisfying.

A PSA for the day: Need to add (repeat from earlier puzzle), a BBGUN is not a toy! As the clue says, it can and does cause injury and damage property.

leftcoastTAM 3:12 PM  

Error: PUFFERFISH. Thought GlADS, as in gladiolas, instead of GRADS. Embarrassing.

JimmyBgood 3:31 PM  

Easiest week of puzzles ever. Are they really dumbing down the puzzles,just to lure in "the millenials"?!? I know that I'm showing my age, but the puzzles were a lot harder many years ago. Even on a Monday, there would be at least a little bit of teeth pulling. I used to have at least three books at hand,for when needed. The OED,Random House Unabridged,and Roget's Thesaurus. Now they just sit and collect dust. I find that sad.

r.heeb 9:59 PM  

This was easy-medium for me. ALEWIFE and HEJ/GIRA are Scrabble words so I was able to piece them together quickly. Having three “test” clues raised the bar somewhat.

thefogman 8:57 AM  

I finished with relative ease. The SE corner offered the most resistance. It took me a while to remember it was CONEHEADs who came from Remulak. Mebs! Mebs! Unacceptable! But after that, it was smooth sailing.

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burdavis 9:52 PM  

Would have solved it faster if Trabucco had only spelled "Hejira" the way Joni Mitchell does!

Unknown 8:00 PM  

Jae, I love what you wrote. It made my day.

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