El Chapo, notably / FRI 9-21-18 / Polenta base / "Do You Hear What I Hear?," e.g. / French aperitif

Friday, September 21, 2018

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Medium (Easy-ish for a Friday)


Word of the Day: TATAMI MAT (55A: Sight in many a Japanese restaurant) —
tatami () is a type of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms. Traditionally made using rice straw to form the core, the cores of contemporary tatami are sometimes composed of compressed wood chip boards or polystyrene foam. With a covering of woven soft rush (igusa 藺草) straw, tatami are made in standard sizes, with the length exactly twice the width, an aspect ratio of 2:1. Usually, on the long sides, they have edging (heri縁) of brocade or plain cloth, although some tatami have no edging. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hi ho! Keri Gagnon here filling in for Rex today and already checking "Muppet reference" off the list in my first line. I have to admit that I normally print the crossword out because I really enjoy hand-writing it in pen (we type everything these days!), but a photo of my printed out (and scribbled on) crossword seemed sad, so here we are.

Sometimes I love a good themeless puzzle because of the random long form answers the constructor is able to cram in there (hellooo STALINERA and EMPTYWORDS). This one I found pretty enjoyable, and with NATALENOEL, and ICEPALACE, we almost have a pseudo-winter/Christmas theme going on.

I'll admit I got good and stuck in the SW for a while ... I had BAA instead of MAA (56D: Goat's cry) because apparently I can't keep my ovine and caprine sounds straight. TEE I filled in easily (58D: One of 18 on a golf course) as well as CMAS, helping me get to ICEPALACE. But I can't say I've ever had PASTIS in my life and I had SCALIA instead of SOUTER (45D: Colleague of 23-Down for 15 years) so I floundered for a bit. With OCONNOR (23D: Retired justice who wrote "Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court") as the linked clue I was loving the timely SCOTUS references because well, have you read/watched the news at all lately? I always appreciate when the NYTX feels current because so often it just... doesn't.

Well, that's it for me tonight -- thanks for joining me in one of my favorite corners of the interwebs. I'll leave you with some highlights of mine and a song that never gets old.

  •  2D: Unwanted messages (HATEMAIL) — This one tripped me up for a bit because I kept reading it as ---EMAIL and could only think of SPAM. Once STUBS fell into place (also great cluing) it dawned on me the answer was mail of the snail variety.  
  • 19A: Instagram filter shade (SEPIA) — The cluing on this one was clever because SEPIA isn't a filter name on Instagram but it is technically a shade of a filter. Show me a puzzle with INKWELL in it and then we're talking. And yes, I know I am showing my millennialism here and I'm sorry.  
  • 32A: Fruits that ripen after being picked (AVOCADOS) — Despite the fact that living in California we put avocados on just about every thing here, this answer didn't immediately occur to me due to the lack of GUAC/GUACAMOLE reference. I liked it. And yes, I will take avocado on my puzzle, please. 
  • 62A: Took courses under pressure (STRESSATE)— Oh, how I loved this one. Clever, modern, and who doesn't do this sometimes?!?

Signed, Keri Gagnon, Enthusiastic Citizen of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 1:33 AM  

Easy. Faster than yesterday’s. Solid Fri. with a sinister touch...STALIN, El Chapo, HATE MAIL, Unabomber, MR ORANGE...liked it.


Marc 1:39 AM  

SW gave me problems. Had THOMAS, then SCALIA, before SOUTER, which makes sense since he is easily forgettable. STRESSATE and TATAMI MAT strictly by crosses. I guess El Chapo is a CRIME BOSS, but to me he is more of a drug lord or kingpin. Corleone or Gotti is what I think of. HATEMAIL? Junk, yes. Spam, yes. Hate...maybe in Internet posts, or sites, or tweets, but email?

Bryce 2:09 AM  

Thank you to LearnedLeague for having both PASTIS and SEPIA in questions this season, putting them top of mind for me.

STRESSATE is a lovely way to use all those common letters that always get stuck at the bottom. Always happy to see Ms. Burnikel.

Robin 2:11 AM  

Had a little trouble in the NW because my first reaction to "Unwanted messages" was TEXTSPAM. Such was life in the days leading up to the recent NYS primaries.

Personally, I don't understand STRESSATE. When I'm under stress, I don't eat.

chefwen 2:42 AM  

Another good puzzle from our prolific constructor, Zhouqin aka C.C.

28A made me grimace, Yuk.

Had the most trouble in the NW where I plunked down I gUess SO at 3D. I think I broke a sweat sorting that out. The rest wasn’t too easy either, but it’s Friday, not supposed to be easy. Got ‘er done, no cheats. Happy dance!

JOHN X 3:06 AM  

This was a nice, fun, enjoyable puzzle but it was pretty easy for a Friday.

I don't want the puzzle to welcome me and I don't need the words to validate me. I want a desperate struggle.

If you have access to the archives I recommend the January 2, 1999 puzzle if you want to see what the NYTX used to be like, and judge for yourself. There's been a few tough ones lately but they are rare.

Brookboy 4:34 AM  

I thought this was relatively easy for a Friday, finished it much more quickly than the usual Friday. I enjoyed the puzzle. Nice write up from Keri.

Timely to have two retired SCOTUS justices in the puzzle. Also liked the idea of having NOLE and NOEL catty-corner. Nice symmetry.

Marc Kwiatkowski 5:11 AM  

I thought the clues here were awful. Tatami mats are typical in Japanese bedrooms, but in restaurants...not so much - even in Japan. "Japanese floor cover" would've been better. And since when is "noel" a synonym for "carol"? Fibonacci's "pisan" was needlessly obscure. And since when is "Stress ate" a thing? "Instagram filter" for "sepia!? I understand trying to be current, but instagram has tons of filter; most, unlike sepia, that don't have other ways to be clued. Just godawful cluing.

TJS 5:56 AM  

Sorry, IMO this is not a Friday puzzle. Northwest fell as fast as I could type in the words and "empty words" opened up the center with four easy downs.Oh look, "avocado, cornmeal trademarks" left the southeast defenseless. Northeast 12,13 and 14 downs were so obvious all the acrosses wrer give aways. This is not a Friday, its almost a Tuesday ! And only the idiocy of "icepalace " and "stresshate" gave any resistance. Was hoping to read Rex savaging this but not to be.

Lewis 6:13 AM  

In three corners I was stuck, then went to another area, then came back, then one answer came to me and the whole corner suddenly filled up in a flood. It's a rush when that happens. And a triple-rush puzzle is a true gift. Thank you, CC!

Tom 6:24 AM  

Didn't know SCREED other than the definition related to laying down concrete. Only got it from crosses. Larned sumpin' new🤪. Plunked in "all" confidently first time through the clues, and finally got A NO when the last entry was the O for SOUTER. Happy pencil, happy solve, average for Friday. No DNF.

Conrad 6:43 AM  

What @jae said, with the addition of IED to the "sinister" list.

Hungry Mother 7:17 AM  

Pretty quick today. The SW took longer than the rest. For some reason I read “pesto” instead of “polenta” and had “oliveoiL” for a while, with only one correct letter. Years ago i was a member of the Fibonacci Society.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

If you are in France, you will likely be offered a kir to drink. You can also ask for a pastis with mostly water if you want something without much alcohol. It has a taste rather like licorice. I think 'stress eat' is ok, but I am not sure I would ever say I stress ate. I think some other fruits and vegetables also ripen after picking, though not all of them. So I really didn't like the clue for avocados. If you see an Italian name, and the answer ends with 'an', think Pisan. Even if you have no letters, this is almost crosswordese now, so I can't complain about Fibronacci (his name does look Italian). A carol has always been a noel, and this is another thing you would only hear or say in crosswords. I wrote in Silent Era for Stalin era.

puzzlehoarder 7:41 AM  

Uber easy Friday. I flew through it in Wednesday time. OCONNER/OCONNOR was my only write over. I hesitated a little on SOUTER because I thought it should have an H in it. The clue for MIA is a debut.

I didn't remember NOLE on first look but when I came back into the SE on TRADEMARKS it went right in with the rest of that corner. Fibonacci being from Pisa has been done before. We just had PASTIS last year. This was way too soft for a late week puzzle.

OffTheGrid 7:44 AM  

If only everyone had such brilliant solving skill so as to be bored by this nice puzzle.

Rainbow 7:47 AM  

My experience was similar but pretty sure much slower than yours. Satisfying.

Stanley Hudson 7:50 AM  

Too easy for a Friday but liked it a lot.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  


Lobster11 7:53 AM  

Would have been one of my fastest Fridays ever, but ended in a painful DNF because there were exactly four answers that were completely unfamiliar to me, and of course they crossed each other. So, finished with empty squares at COSSETS/SEPIA and PASTIS/TATAMIMAT. I hate when that happens.

QuasiMojo 8:01 AM  

Finished fast for a Friday, even with some fumbles. PERNOD before PASTIS. IN TOTO before INTACT. SCALIA before SOUTER etc. I seem to recall sitting on TATAMI MATS in some Japanese restaurants. Although most seem to use tables nowadays. At least in the States. Overall one of this constructors better puzzles IMHO even if the clue for SEPIA made me throw my pencil across the room.

Poor Marco Polo and his TOILS on the Silk Road. I guess they’re not counting his time lounging in Kubla Khan’s MANOR, gorging on noodles. The opposite of “stress eating” I SUPPOSE. (BTW, I think people who stress eat don’t bother with “courses” they just eat whatever they can find, preferably straight out of a bag and uncooked. But who knows what these Millennials are into? Getting STONEd and watching AVOCADOS ripen.

Suzie Q 8:29 AM  

Nice vocabulary with words like cossets and chide along with some clever clues make for a fun solve. It's OK to be a little easy on a Friday. There's always the chance that tomorrow with have me pulling my hair out in frustration so I'll enjoy the ride today. Thanks for the review Citizen Keri.

Unusual clue for Erie and a total WOE for Mia as well as Pastis.

I read yesterday that many titans of the tech industry forbid or strictly limit their children's use of smart phones. Sounds like they know something that they are not telling their customers.

Now I'm off to try @ JOHN X's recommendation.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

PAS?IS, ?ATAMI ?AT and the bAA/MAA conundrum made for a devilish corner.

Otherwise a very gettable Friday. Closer to record than average for me. Liked the flow!

Peter P 8:50 AM  

I"m relatively new to religiously doing the NYTimes puzzle, so the fact that even finished a Friday is a victory for me (and an indication that it probably wasn't all that difficult). It's always interesting for me to read this blog to find that some of the answers I thought were gimmes (like PASTIS -- it's an anisette liqueur like ouzo) and SOUTER (once I got OCONNOR), and quick fills once I had a letter or two like PISAN and STRESSATE gave folks trouble. TATAMIMAT is a new one on me, though, and ICEPALACE gave me more trouble than it should have. I had inferred ICE early on, but the second half took most of the orthogonal clues to help me figure out. And I, too, don't like NOEL for carol, but this is at least the second time I've come across that kind of cluing in an NYTImes puzzle. Is there a definition or way of reading the clue where this answer makes sense?

Sir Hillary 9:03 AM  

ISUPPOSE this was okay, but not great. No issue with any of the content, but I found the closed-off corners to be annoying. This felt like five mini-puzzles to be solved one at a time -- not what I like in a Friday.

-- Superb clue for DEADEND. The one for STUBS is also pretty good.
-- No bigger CRIMEBOSS than STALIN.
-- MIA is a facial brush? Um, okay. Can you buy one from an AVON salesperson?
-- All this time I thought the A in CMAS stood for "Awards".
-- Somebody please put "appurtenance" in a grid. What a great word.
-- Many commercial slogans works as well for EMPTYWORDS as it does for TRADEMARKS. Maybe better.

GILL I. 9:14 AM  

I'll take a good and fun Friday sans Google any day.
Contrary to the clue haters, I love the way CC manages to be a bit fiendish. I mean how else can you clue ACNE?
Like @Lewis, I had to sit back on some of the corners, stare a bit, then one word pops up and the whole corner gets done. Pampers instead of COSSETS was that one corner hang up. Stare a bit - hey, CHIDE fits and off to the races.
I do like CRIME BOSS and the Unabombers SCREED. Someone on this blog said I wrote just like him and I couldn't figure out what that meant. I suppose I can be tedious at times with all of my EMPTY WORDS.
I guess my biggest mistake was plunking down CASSIS instead of PASTIS. I like neither. My Dad had a place in Nice and he would always do as the French just before dinner. He'd pour himself that vile drink every night at 6 pm. If you like black licorice, ouzo or anise, you'll love this milky drink.
STRESS ATE is my new word of the day. I've never heard that phrase. I stop eating when I STRESS but my sister gobbles up everything in sight.
I went to Circle "F" DUDE RANCH Camp For Boys and Girls in Okeechobee (sp?) Florida. I was one fine dudette - had my own horse too - his name was Charlie.
@Marc K 5:11...NOEL is a refrain in carols. Hence the "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Did anybody else want to fit in SASHIMI BAR?

Carola 9:17 AM  

I was surprised to see Ms. Burnikel's name at the top on a Friday (or perhaps I haven't paid enough attention to other of her late-week puzzles) and looked forward to seeing how the wit of her early week themed puzzles would translate into a themeless. Like Suzie Q, I appeciated the satisfying vocabulary: CHIDE, SCREED, COSSETS, LEAVEN, and the fine array of two-word phrases: SILK ROAD, CRIME BOSS, HATE MAIL, STRESS ATE, ICE PALACE. I, too, had the most trouble in the SW: although thanks to previous crosswords PISAN went right in, I had to fight for the rest. I liked DREAMS rounding the corner to DESIRES. Re: the bottom line, STRESS ATE SEEDS - only if all the chips, crackers, and nuts are already gone.

Adam 9:25 AM  

The cluing on empty words was too cute by half. I could see hot air, but I’ve never heard or seen anyone use gas in this way.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

I used to eat at a Japanese restaurant that had a tatami room. It looked like a room of tables with tatami mats but, knowing their customers, they cleverly had a sunken area beneath the tables so it looked authentic but still allowed people to sit on the mats with their legs under the tables as if they were in a chair. Good marketing I thought.

The Clerk 9:29 AM  

SW was unbelievably poor and obscure. Looks like it was mailed in instead of crafted. Just so bad. French and Japanese food trivia, irregular animal sounds, mathematician addresses. Bad, bad, bad.

Bob in Ohadi 9:31 AM  


John V 9:38 AM  

SW was brutal.

TomAz 9:39 AM  

I had spamMAIL at 2D for the longest time, an answer I just dropped in without thinking. When the upper crosses didn't budge I figured it was wrong, but HATE MAIL took forever to enter my mind. HATE MAIL? really? clued that way? thud.

I had DEADaNt for a good while at 25D. Don't ask me why. I mean, yeah, a dead ant isn't going anywhere either... so then I thought 49A was TRitE something.. but that bit I can see now is on me.

PASTIS/TATAMI MAT was relatively easy for me. Goats say MAA and sheep say bAA, in the NYT crossword anyway. I would like Eric BANA banished from the crosswords for a while. I know his name only from these puzzles.

pabloinnh 9:48 AM  

I'm with the pretty-easy-for-a-Friday crowd, even without ever having used Instagram or remembering Mr. Orange. Other stuff was all there in the brain locker somewhere, except for STRESSATE, which is news to me. So people stress eat? It would seem more likely that people would stress drink.

Also, the -AN ending for an Italian could easily be ROMAN, so there was that little hangup.

A fun Friday, if over too soon.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

@ Peter P and others -
"The first "nowell" the angels did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay, in field where they lay a-keeping their sheep..."
"Nowell" originally meant "know-well" - hear this good news of glad tidings.
From that usage, Nowell / Noel was transferred to the celebration of Christmas / Natale itself: Joyeux Noël: Happy Christmas in French.
And after that, Noel came to be used for the songs of the season: traditional Christmas carols of western Europe. So "Noel", in addition to being a male name, is used as a synonym for 1) Christmas time 2) songs and carols of Christmas time and 3) the message inside the songs. This is centuries old, and not something invented by NYT - it is rather something preserved against the inflood of modernism by NYT.

Here's a poem by e.e. cummings for your consideration:

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

The Clerk 9:58 AM  

And do golf courses have 18 TEEs? Pretty sure you have to bring them.

Maruchka 10:04 AM  

@SuzieQ - indeed. I read the NYer article on Facebook boy. Former exec suspected these devices could make for evil outcomes (lack of empathy, civility, truth, ad.nauseum). Quote: 'They're not allowed to use this shit'. A red flag if ever I saw one.

Maruchka 10:12 AM  

@Keri - Wha? Just got a message from site that my comment to @SuzieQ was cancelled? Please advise.

Nancy 10:13 AM  

Easy for a Friday, but after yesterday's WTF? exercise, not at all unwelcome chez moi. And there were some good clues here for ACNE (28A), STUBS (17A), DEAD END (25D), NOEL (29D) and SILK ROAD (38D).

But STRESS ATE?? Whassat?? When I eat, I'm not stressed and when I'm stressed, I can't eat. Is it a hot dog eating contest that's being discussed? Forcing yourself to consume something, anything, when you're ill, so as to not waste away? I know there are people who eat when they're stressed -- something that literally makes me queasy -- but is STRESS ATE a real phrase for that?

Liked the juxtaposition of CHIDE and COSSETS at 1A/1D. Sort of like Good Cop/Bad Cop parenting. Found this a pleasant enough Friday, if not very challenging.

Maruchka 10:24 AM  

Ok, just a glitch I guess, and not the long arm of FB..

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Nice puzzle Ms. Burnikel.

Not sure I've ever seen stress ate. As others have noted stress eat,and stress eating are plenty common.

But I think Marc is right. El Chapo is a very particular kind of criminal; he's a drug lord. Or drug kingpin. Crime boss, in my experience, is reserved for those whose criminal enterprises are sufficiently broad that only the umbrella term crime boss would be comprehensive enough to describe the malfeasance. The chubby one, really only dwelled in the narco world.

Nancy 10:42 AM  

@Suzie Q (8:29) and @Maruchka (10:4) -- That's a real eye opener about the tech execs and their reactions to smart phones. Thanks for providing the info. It warms the cockles of this Luddite's heart. I'm off to read those articles, provided there's no firewall and they let me in.

@Quasi (8:01) -- Funny last line!

@Sir Hillary (9:03) -- Funny last line!

Paul 10:53 AM  

I thought this played a little unevenly. Most of the fill went in quickly followed by a long and ultimately unsuccessful struggle to get TATAMIMAT from the crosses. CMAS and PASTIS were both WOEs for me. PISAN was inferable. Writing in NATALI helped me appreciate the cleverness of 63A (Core group?)

roscoe 88 10:57 AM  

easiest friday for me. only question was pernod first then pastis and wondered about baa and maa. never completed the puzzle so quickly. Started in NW which fell into place as soon as Oases was entered. Then went to SW, NE and SE with no real issues. For the most part it is because I was able to decipher the cluing which I loved.

pmdm 11:04 AM  

This puzzle had more PPP than I usually like, but others seem to feel differently.

Gagnon: Just remember when watching a Looney Tunes Road Runner cartoom that he sayss MEEP MEEP and not BEEP BEEP.

old timer 11:24 AM  

Super easy, unlike yesterday's monster. My only nit: Marco Polo did not really spend all that time on the SILK ROAD. Must of the time, he hung out with the Khans. Right there in China and its environs.

NATALE was good, and according to my dictionary, that is where NOEL comes from. We got NOEL from the French.

jb129 11:28 AM  

Didn't know Mr. Orange.

Took me forever, but when I got it, I loved Stress Ate!

Unknown 11:31 AM  

Fascinating how many people found this easy. This solve was waaaay above my average time. I was really thinking that the SW corner was going to cause my first DNF in about 6 months. Having never heard of PASTIS, I put cASsIS there. Four correct crosses for a wrong answer.

JC66 11:32 AM  

@The Clerk said...
And do golf courses have 18 TEEs? Pretty sure you have to bring them.

The start of each hole on a golf course is called the TEE.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

From online Merriam Webster:

Definition of noel

1 : a Christmas carol: The choir sang noels during the Christmas season.

2 capitalized : christmas: He wished his friends a joyous Noel

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Tee also refers to the area where one tees off for each hole, usually a drive.

Masked and Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Weeject aLcoves! Now yer talkin, CC. U go, girl.

PASTIS/TATAMIMAT/CMAS/SOUTER = raised-by-wolverines SW corner build. Lost valuable nanominutes.

Also didn't know COSSETS. Rest of puz was nice and friendly.

staff weeject pick: ESA. Better clue: {Sea sick??}.

Thanx for the fun, with that there SWig of wolverine-scratchin, CC.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


The Clerk 11:51 AM  

Ah, but then aren’t there men’s, ladies’, and pros’ tees at each hole (so 54)?

Peter P 11:57 AM  

Man, I'm really boggled by so many people not recognizing the phrase "stress eat." I wonder if it's generational or something? I'm in my early 40s, and I even used it in conversation with my wife earlier this week (I was joking with her how stress eating was never a problem for me in terms of losing weight, but "stress drinking" -- which is a play on the phrase "stress eating" -- was.)

Thanks for the info on NOEL. I only knew it as a synonym for Christmas (well, that and a name), but the dictionaries do have "a Christmas song or carol" as the meaning for it when lowercase, which is apparently my inexplicable vocabulary black hole. (Or, rather, I just know it as a carol from crossword puzzles.)

TubaDon 11:57 AM  

     Took me longer than it should. "Shot myself in the foot" guesses" CRIMELORD, BAA, SPAMMAIL. Somehow knew PISAN, guessed AVACADOS, SOUTER, SEPIA. Stuck in the SW, but once I settled on TEE instead of PAR, I finally started making headway and last entry was STRESS ATE, which I never heard of but I suppose could occur.

emily 11:59 AM  

I had cassis...

TJS 12:09 PM  

@John X ... Thanks for the Jan. 2,1999 tip. Great puzzle, what a true Fri/Sat challenge should be. Maybe the NYT doesnt have the monopoly on these quality submissions any more. Just a thought.

Chris 12:29 PM  

Fun puzzle for me. New Friday best. Did not know that usage of NOEL, really. Guess I had never parsed "The First Noel"
The TEE thing did give me a moment's pause. Obviously not talking about the little pegs, and each hole does have a tee area but I've seen as many as four separate tee boxes on each hole: Pros ("the tips"), men's, women's, and one even farther ahead (although in these more enlightened times, courses just color code them.) So Idunno.

JC66 12:30 PM  

@The Clerk

Yep sometimes. But in my (limited) experience, most golf courses only have one TEE per hole.

Abalini 12:53 PM  

There are 18 tee boxes, or teeing grounds on a golf course, but numerous tees on each box depending on your handicap. In fact there are usually numerous tee boxes on each hole as well, separating the different tees. Terrible clue. But seeing a clue with “golf” that has a three letter answer makes it inferable.

mmorgan 12:57 PM  

@The Clerk -- and some courses even have *five* sets of tees per hole. Often these are all within the same tee box -- but not always, by any means.

I got STRESSATE and for the longest time I thought something was wrong. The word made no sense and wasn't even past tense....Until I finally figured out it was two words. (I was also thinking of the academic sense of courses.)

I always like ZB's puzzles and this was no exception!

Joe Bleaux 12:59 PM  

But every gasbag is full of empty words, no😏?

Cassieopia 1:06 PM  

Liked the puzzle but TATAMIMAT bugged me, it’s like saying mat mat. A tatami IS a mat. Even the wiki referenced in the write up makes that clear. Otherwise it was a solid Friday.

Teedmn 1:12 PM  

I'm with @Nancy and @Gill I on not being someone who STRESS ATE. Anxiety leaves me completely without appetite. In my world, the only thing that would cause me to STRESS eat is my mother-in-law's urging of "Eat, there's more!" which is a TRADE MARKed (or should be) phrase in my husband's family.

I didn't find this an easy puzzle and I was shocked to see CC's name at the top after I got done. I had to get down to ACA and AVON before I could get started. My big hangup was the SE where I wanted MAMAS at 50D but had put in "drama" at 59A for "Downton Abbey" which held me up. Also, I was convinced Marco Polo must have been on some European currency even though Italian lira wasn't going to work. And for some strange reason, I really, really wanted 36A, with __E__S in place, to be "sweet chEekS". I have no idea why and justifying "in your chEekS" as a common phrase was more than even my ERIE crossword brain could pull off, so it never went in but it did prevent DREAMS from arriving until I reached a DEAD END.

Nice one, CC, thanks!

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Peter P,

Everybody recognizes stress eat. No one however has ever seen the phrase stress ate. And phrases and usage matter a great deal in puzzle.

Par 3 1:18 PM  

Now you're just causing trouble. Triple bogie for you. Ha.

Fashionista 1:20 PM  

I had Ricard

Joe Bleaux 1:21 PM  

A bit easy for a Friday, but no complaints this side of that miserable SW corner. I think it's probably the all-round best CC puzzle I've ever solved. (No offense -- she's a fine constructor -- but I associate her byline more with midweek LAT than Friday NYT.) This late in the day, there's no point in my repeating any of the particulars already cited. Happy weekend, all.

Fashionista 1:24 PM  

Why not Roman

Lewis 1:48 PM  

@m&a -- Hah! for your "Sea-sick?" clue for ASE!

Crimson Devil 2:03 PM  

Yup, 18 teeing areas per course, but par woulda been more accurate: each hole has only one par, ‘cept I guess that sometimes a hole will have different pars for women v men.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

STRESSATE was my least favorite. Who says that?

Anonymous 2:43 PM  


There are ladies tees to make the hole shorter but par is par. No difference for the distaff.

jberg 2:44 PM  

Solving is always a little ERIE -- in this case, I figured it must be PISAN, but that was blocked by "enTire" for whole. And the latter was confirmed by STUCCO, so I stuck with it until the bitter end. At least stucco saved me from Scalia. But I had to look at TATAMI bAT for a few moments before I realized that a goat might say MAA.

What made it tough was that there is very little communication between the corners -- so I had EMPTY but couldn't think of WORDS, and LE but couldn't think of anything but LEvitate -- so I had to start over elsewhere. That happened a couple of times.

I also had COzzEnS before COSSETS -- no idea why; it doesn't seem to be a word at all.

Altogether a pleasant experience.

I think STRESSATE is a geological term for a layer of rock that is on the verge of collapsing from the pressure.

Banana Diaquiri 2:44 PM  

@Crimson Devil:
I guess that sometimes a hole will have different pars for women v men.

Nope. not that I've ever heard of. OTOH, co-ed courses have multiple tee grounds, at least one each for men and women. the girls' tee is closer to the hole. meeting par is mostly about where the second (third on a par 5) shot is from; boys and girls should have, on average, the same chance to get to the green based on expected distance of the iron shot. assuming, not that I know, that both genders can reach the green from the same place in the fairway, only the tee position matters.

Keri Gagnon 2:44 PM  

Ooh challenge accepted!

Banana Diaquiri 2:46 PM  

I'd wager there's a whole lot more STRESS BOOZING than eating. for me, any who.

Keri Gagnon 2:46 PM  

Swear it wasn’t me!! :)

Keri Gagnon 2:48 PM  

Hah! Good trick!

Keri Gagnon 2:49 PM  

That’s why I put Medium - that SW corner stumped me

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Banana said: "...that both genders can reach the green from the same place in the fairway, only the tee position matters."

Um, no. men, typically, hit further. They hit further from the tee--wherever it is--and they hit further from the fairway. I assume you were trying to say that ladies tees allow women to reach the green in the same number of strokes than a man would take from the men's tees. And that's a fair point. But your ham-fisted answer is really quite silly. Women don't hit the ball as far as men. Period.

Joe Dipinto 3:12 PM  

@Marc K 5:21

Definition of Noel from Merriam Webster:

1 : a Christmas carol
"The choir sang noels during the Christmas season."

2 capitalized : CHRISTMAS
"He wished his friends a joyous Noel."

Chip Hilton 3:25 PM  

I’ve played several courses where a long par four for men is played as a par five for women. Scorecards with a 4/5 in a par box aren’t that rare. As far as the clue - too much over-thinking going on here.

Sir Hillary 3:26 PM  

@Crimson Devil is correct. I wouldn't say it's very common, but sometimes golf holes will have different pars for men and women. Specifically, a par-4 for the men will play as a par-5 for the women. In such cases, the women's tees (usually red) will not differ substantially from the men's tees, because of the extra shot. Again, it's the exception, but I've definitely seen it.

Agree the TEE clue is not great if really you think about it.

Bob Mills 3:33 PM  

You loved "STRESSATE"? Can't believe anyone would like that answer. It isn't a legitimate phrase, and in my 77 years on the planet I've never heard anyone use the term.

iamjess 4:37 PM  

Am I the only one who thinks that a trailer is very, very different than a TEASER?

Great Friday, good write-up. Also, thanks for the "Hey Dude" earworm...

Will 4:49 PM  

@Bob Mills In my 31 years on the planet I've heard "Stress eat" very regularly

Monty Boy 5:38 PM  

Am I the only one who put in GLUT for effect of excess oil? And had that hold up the middle solve?

There's a rule I heard long ago: If you can't make an area work, the problem is probably the word you are absolutely certain in correct.

Z 5:38 PM  

This grid is of the sort I like the least. We have one puzzle from the NW to the SE and then two mini-puzzles only tenuously connected in the NE and SW. Yuck.

No problems with the central puzzle nor the NE, but a DNF in the SW. No idea on TATAMI MAT and ICE PALACE needed more crossings before I would see it. I see Shortz considered the possibility of yet another ANO/AÑO round of HATE MAIL and said, “So that’s A NO.” And sorry, but STRESS ATE or its present tense alternative are new to me. Candidly, the whole notion inspires my inner curmudgeon to scream, “get a real problem.” With food insecurity being a real thing in the US, I have not a single damn to give for someone whose response to stress is to eat and then has the nerve to give it a name.

Sadly, I’m also not surprised by the “men hit the ball farther than women” strand. It. is. just. not. true. Let me know when you hit a 406 yard drive.

GILL I. 6:51 PM  

@Z...Thanks for the Phillis Meti clip.
For some reason the person who said "men hit farther than women" rankled. It's probably true in most cases but to make it a blank statement that ALL men do, sort of sucks.
From the time I was 6 until probably 18, not only was I taller than most "boys" my age, but I out ran them and could throw a baseball farther than anyone in my age group (men and women).....I would boast and my boy friends would take me up on it. They lost. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
I'm old and decrepit now but I bet I could still out throw anyone in my age group.... ;-). Anyone?

Anonymous 7:16 PM  

I'm with the stress eating is a common phrase crowd (and I suffer from it!), but I've never heard anyone use the past tense in that manner. Maybe "oh I was so busy and stress eating" but never "I was busy and I stress ate".

Anonymous 7:44 PM  

What? Are you saying that your example is the last word?
Can you explain why there's a mens pro tour and a womens version?
Can you expalain why the best female golfer in the world (at the time) Annaika Sorrestram) was obliterated when she played with the guys?
But beyond all the obvious, you seem to want women to be the physical equal of men. Why? Setting aside the obvious outcome of any reasonable of random sample, why do you desire female equality in the realm of physical strength?
Do you play against girls in ykur frisbee league? If so, why?

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

At least you had tne good grace not to down on your embarrassing begs tne the question error.

Anonymous 8:02 PM  

Sorry Gill,
IT is true. Boys are faster than girls. Thats why they have boys teams and girls teams from age 5 to 95.
Glad you have skills. So do I. So I accept your implicit challenge. Name the time and place. I'll be tbere.
We'll have to flip a coin to3 see who pays for at Z to referee ( LOL)

ArtO 9:04 PM  

Nice to be able to finish a Friday after bailing on yesterday's. Went from Pernod to Pastis. ICEPALACE sounds too fancy for the clue.

Nancy 9:28 PM  

@Anon 8:02 -- I'm wondering if you ever saw the photo of our @GILL standing on top of a moving horse? Could Roy do that? Could Gene? Hopalong? Duke? You might want to think again before pitting your athletic abilities against a jock like that.

Forget @Z. I'll referee and I won't charge anyone a dime. But you'll have to produce your birth certificate. You're entitled to the male advantage, but you can't have an age advantage, too. Fair enough?

Having seen that horse pic, my money's on @GILL :)

GILL I. 10:01 PM  

@Anony 8;02:
Of course there are key physical differences. What better thing did God design in order to suit each wonderful role we play. I'm not questioning a males superior strength to women. I'm questioning ALL MEN or "boys are faster than girls." Bull shit.mon ami. I was faster and stronger than any boy until I got bored of proving myself and deciding I wanted to stop telling everybody that I wasn't really
We've seen a lot of women (Billy Jean King, for one) who've had to go out on a limb against a blanket " I can beat you" claim.
Some women are just plain faster than men and can make a golf ball sail further than some men. Just own it.
I'll take up your challenge. Mini golf course in Sacramento? April 01? I'll buy the drinks.....

JC66 10:07 PM  


I think we were talking about the reason they have Men's TEES and Women's TEES.

On AVERAGE men are stronger than women. No one said ALL men.


Wanna race? ;-)

Adam 10:28 PM  

I found this relatively easy, but I needed all the crosesnfor CHIDE. I think of dressing down as far more severe than mere chiding. That said, the crosses were fair. Although having LEAVEN and CORN MEAL I confidently put down BRENNAN. Then I struggled for a while, but OINK got me out of that jam. Nice puzzle - I liked it.

GILL I. 10:49 PM  

@JC66...Maybe. Then it got to @Banana's 3:08 "Women don't hit the ball as far as men. Period." @Z proved him/her wrong.
@Nancy: Blush.... Man, I was so competitive in my days of proving so many wrong. ;-)

JC66 10:58 PM  


Consider the source.

Banana Diaquiri 11:03 PM  


not that I care all that much, but that quote you put next to my avatar was not by me but by one of the many anonymice who troll.

GILL I. 11:07 PM  

@JC66. Thanks for the laugh. I'm about to have a little scotch now. Will you and @Nancy join me?

Bourbon Street 11:13 PM  

Many golf courses are no longer designating the tees as “Men’s Tees”, “Women’s Tees”, and “Senior Tees”. Instead, they are encouraging players to tee off from the tee that best reflects their handicaps. For example, The General Golf Course in Galena, Illinois has “one-star”, “two-star”, “three-star” and “four-star” tees that are all the same color. Courses like The General recognize that a player’s abilty to drive a ball is based on individualized circumstances unique to the player.

JC66 11:48 PM  


Love to, but I'm already at my limit.

Maybe tomorrow?

kitshef 7:54 PM  

Guess I'm the outlier, as I found this unbelievably hard for a Friday, and especially in that SW corner where TATAMIMAT is just a string of letters, PASTIS was a woe, eNTire and INToto before INTACT, belt before CAPE, and other minor issues. TATAMIMAT/PASTIS cross seems quite unfair (though guessed correctly). Still not sure why I guessed 'T' instead of 's' there.

Unknown 4:09 PM  

Got it. I didn't think it was easy. S/W corner was the toughest.

Burma Shave 10:30 AM  


and ISUPPOSE it’s a DEADEND if I’DA tried to please her.
She’ll be RID of me like AVOCADOS’ SEEDS,


spacecraft 10:37 AM  

Wow, I couldn't believe that not only the guest blogger, but a clear majority of commenters, found this easy! Three words unknown to me (COSSETS, SCREED, PASTIS as clued) made the journey through today's puzzle as arduous as Mr. Polo's trek on the SILKROAD.

The last of these, PASTIS, is positioned eerily: in my paper there are three comic strips than appear just to the left of the NYTXW. These include "Pearls Before Swine," by--you guessed it--Stephan PASTIS. The last panel of it abuts directly next to the SW corner of the puzzle. His name is right there! As a drink, though, I never heard of it.

I struggled line by line. Strangely, the NW was first to fall, though 1-down was totally on crosses. I had a rapper to deal with, and I've never seen "Reservoir Dogs." MIA as DOD Hamm: fine. As a brand of facial brush? Yagottabekiddingme.

So, ginormous triumph points here. As to the big TEE discussion: the first 3-letter item I thought of was PIN; there are exactly 18 of THEM on an 18-hole course. The different TEE boxes are designed to keep things moving along; weaker players simply don't have as far to go. Additionally, a very common fault when confronting a long distance is to swing too hard, giving rise to poorer shots, dubs and even whiffs. I love it when the caveman says "So, we're playing from the tips?" I also love it when ZB graces us with a tough Friday, 'cause I know I'm going to learn stuff. Eagle, from the tips.

rondo 12:00 PM  

Maybe it’s generational that I had Eric Idle before this BANA chap, who will now and forever be a xword fave, and whom I could not pick out of a lineup. But that was my only write-over as the puz wasn’t that tough. MN must be rubbing off on C.C. with that ICEPALACE and xmas-y stuff.

I wouldn’t mind if the RNC went MIA.

I look at that Italian xmas and all I can see is NAT(asha Fat)ALE. Counterfeit boxtops.

The more glamorous half of the MAMAS was yeah baby Michelle Phillips.

A solid puz is one of C.C.’s TRADEMARKS.

centralscrewtinizer 12:25 PM  

NW and SW beat the crap out of me. Had sassYWORDS up top and ricebowls down below, which just completely stifled progress. Also eNTire for whole made me consider vegAN for poor old Fibo.
Ah well, back to the DUDERANCH.

thefogman 12:41 PM  

Oy vey! Another DNF for me. I found this one to be a bit on the challenging side especially in the SW corner. I got in stuck in a RUT and wrote cASsIS/sAlAMIMAT/cIfAN/fOUlER instead of PASTIS/TATAMIMAT/PISAN/SOUTER. ISUPPOSE I had good reasons to go that route but in the end it was just a DEADEND.

MAMAS don't let your babies grow up to be CRIMEBOSSes.

Diana, LIW 12:45 PM  

Odd coincidence - I had just completed a CC puzzle, so I knew that goats say MAA. At least in CCland.

Side note - last night at dinner the room was mesmerized by watching a group of sheep. Yes, live sheep. They acted like sheep.

Back to puz - STRESSATE is something I never, ever heard. What that? Huh? Yes, the SW led to a dnf. Me. On a Friday. Close, but no cigar. 'magine that.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
PS - car is in driveway, awaiting final paperwork...

rainforest 2:23 PM  

I love this puzzle - so solid, so current, so grid-pleasing. I found it medium-challenging, mainly because of the two justices, both of whom filled in from crosses. Must have heard of OCONNOR - sounded familiar.

Had PASTIS several times when I was in France, DRAKE is Canadian, my SIS is a STRESS eater.

I've seen Reservoir Dogs, but don't recall any of the names from that movie.

Some great clues, and some lively entries, and a novel way to clue ERIE. Way to go CC.

leftcoastTAM 3:58 PM  

Very smooth and easy until...

...a sudden, unexpected turn-about in the SW corner, totally out of sync with everything else. Sure, it was otherwise too easy for Friday, but do you need to save all the tough stuff for just one tight corner? No sense of balance or continuity.

Didn't emerge clean from the inkfest down there.

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