Sports Illustrated's "Olympian of the Century" / FRI 2-15-19 / Highest-grossing rom-com of the 2010s / Most popular U.S. baby name for boys, 1999-2012

Friday, February 15, 2019

Constructor: Wyna Liu

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (mostly smooth, but with a few tricky patches)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Khaleda ZIA (50D: Khaleda ___, first female P.M. of Bangladesh (1991-96, 2001-06)) —
Khaleda Zia (IPA: kʰaled̪a dʒia; born Khaleda Khanam Putul [1][2] [3], in 1945) is a Bangladeshi politician who served as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996, and again from 2001 to 2006.[4] She was the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim majority countries (after Benazir Bhutto) to head a democratic government as prime minister. She was the First Lady of Bangladesh during the presidency of her husband Ziaur Rahman. She is the current chairperson and leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which was founded by Rahman in the late 1970s.
• • •

Oh wow. This is EXACTLY what I am looking for from a Friday. So clean! So crunchy! So made by a non-male constructor! (For those keeping score at home, this brings us to 15% of puzzles in 2019 with at least one woman constructor).

I'm not keeping track of what percent of posts on this blog are written by women, since this is Rex's blog and that would just be unfair, but if anyone IS keeping track, you can add one more to the tally. This is Rachel Fabi, back in the guest-blogger spot and delighted to be here for this puzzle.

I don't even know where to start with the things that made me happy while solving. Ok yes I do, I'm going to start at the beginning with CATFISHES (1A: Misrepresents oneself to on the internet, in a way). This use of the term has only been in the puzzle once before, and never with the -ES on the end, but as a person who has spent many nights watching MTV's Catfish, I was thrilled to see it in such a prominent spot. Here's an SNL sketch about Catfish that is so accurate that it's borderline plagiarism rather than parody.

Another debut in the puzzle is CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which (a) made me cry multiple times when I saw it in theaters and (b) is just a truly excellent film, and if you have not seen it yet, I recommend rectifying that situation. I will admit that I initially filled in CRAZY STUPID LOVE, which I have now verified DID come out in the 2010s, but which grossed about $100 million less than CRAZY RICH ASIANS.

Other things I loved: WIN AT LIFE, OOPS SORRY, MOSTEST, OWN IT. All are things I say in daily life, sometimes facetiously but also sometimes...*not* facetiously.

Gwen Ifill
I slowed down a bit in the southeast because, really, is MELODIZES a word? Google says yes, but my experience says "um, sure, I guess," so crossing MELODIZES with Khaleda ZIA (a name I did not know and am feeling conflicted about knowing now because wow, she was jailed for embezzling money intended for orphans!) was a struggle for me. I knew GWEN IFILL (54A: Late Peabody-winning journalist and newscaster), but couldn't remember how to spell IFILL, which contributed to the challenge. Once I decided that MELODIZES was, indeed, what we were going for there, I still wasn't sure if it would be spelled with a Z or a British S. Don't worry, I figured it out eventually, and the struggle was worth it.

One other observation, which is neither positive nor negative, is that the grid is highly segmented, so the northwest, southeast, and middle southwest-to-northeast strip all played like separate puzzles, with the only thing connecting them being CRAZY RICH ASIANS. It didn't bother me while I was solving, but I could see some people having trouble in one of those regions and getting frustrated by the lack of interconnections to give you a toehold.

Overall, this is a truly excellent puzzle (you might even say it's the MOSTEST in excellence), and I am excited to see more from debut constructor Wyna Liu.

  • 31D: Bits of hardware that can fit inside 32-Downs (TNUT) / 32D: Opening for 31-Down (TSLOT) — having seen both TNUT and TSLOT individually in previous puzzles and always rolled my eyes at them, I just want to point out that THIS is how you use dreck fill. If you must have one of these words in your grid, cross-reference them and put them right next to each other! It's brilliant and doesn't make me cranky at all.
  • A real SPLINE
  • 39D: Shots for dudes? (BROTOX) — I love this and think it's a hilarious neologism, but I can see some solvers finding this off-putting 
  • 21A: Thin strips used in building construction (SPLINES) — In my brief education in biostatistics I learned that a SPLINE is a piecewise function and you cannot convince me otherwise. Here's a picture of a SPLINE I drew in my actual biostats notes about a hundred years ago. 
One last shameless plug, while I have you here: I'm going to be on Jeopardy on Monday (February 18), so tune in if that's your thing! You'll get to see me teach Alex Trebek what bioethics is and also get many things wrong on national tv.

Signed, Rachel Fabi, Queen-for-a-Day of CrossWorld
[Follow Rachel on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:17 AM  

Tough with SE the toughest section. The IFILL/ZIA cross was a Natick moment (could have been E or maybe U), but I got lucky and guessed right. Like @Rachel, I know who GWEN is except for spelling her last name, but ZIA was a WOE.

besTEST before MOSTEST and dArK before MASK, which had me inventing Greek islands.

This was a very fine Fri., liked it a bunch! Great debut!

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

Ok, real talk. This puzzle was fine, I liked the modern feel to some of the fill, and loved seeing Crazy Rich Asians in there. But I have a doctorate in music, and no matter what Google has to say about the matter, I have never once in my whole life used the word “melodize.” I am posting here for the first time for the sole reason of begging constructors not to allow this to become a go-to word in your puzzles.

Pete 12:23 AM  

TNUTS do not fit in TSLOTS. A tot fits in a drilled hole. A rally is a channel in the shape of an inverted T routed out we solid. The point of a Taylor is that something with the same profile can slide through the slot, but cannot be pulled out upwards.

JOHN X 12:29 AM  

I like most NYT puzzles and take them as they come but this thing was deeply flawed.

WOODMEN? Are you kidding? That's not a word, not in English.

CATFISHES? MELODIZES? These aren't even interesting, and seem like they're off a computer list. I could keep going.

If you have low standards you'll probably think this puzzle was fine.

Sue T. 1:12 AM  

I thought I might set a record for a Friday but it took me a good five minutes to finish the SW corner! I will happily admit that the very first thing I filled in was CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which is indeed a wonderful movie and one I look forward to watching again once it hits the streaming services.

Jeff 2:03 AM  

WOOHOO! Good luck on Jeopardy, I'm sure you will OWN IT!

Larry Gilstrap 2:06 AM  

Yeah, that was a tough solve, especially when the constructor segmentizes the grid. I get the whole gender disparity thing that crops up every other day in Rexworld, but I can't always tell how names identify. Never met a guy named GWENdolyn, for example, but I have heard of Joyce Kilmer, Ornette Coleman, and Candy Maldonado, etc. I'm no constructor, but I'm assuming you all know each other and I beg you to sort this out. Reading about some perceived or actually sexism on this blog is bordering on tedious.

Oh Gawd! 2D and more tedium ensues.

SALSA DIP must be regional; I'm being generous there.

Was it not Pearl Mesta who was the Hostess with the MOSTEST? Help me here.

I never reference that town in MA, but 50D/54A leaves me with a vowel I'm kinda certain of, but this paper solver leaves it blank, circles it, ceremoniously dusts off my hands, lights a CIG, and strolls off in the street lights.

MEWL is the fly in the literary amber thanks to Jaques.

Anonymous 2:50 AM  

courses for horses. Didn't care for the puzzle at all - melodizes, mostest, splines, win at life, brotox..........awful stuff.

Anonymous 2:51 AM  

At square 28 I had DARK crossing DILOS, so the Chinese martial art was WURHU. Sounds plausible to me.

WOODMEN... really? Ugh. Wanted LOGGERS.

Hate NFL clues. "Titan, once" = OILER was a huge letdown. Titan is an epic word; NFL teams are... not epic.

Briefly had BATTENS instead of SPLINES. But splines is pretty good, actually. The construction version is a small but useful joint held between different pieces. The mathematical version is well known to all digital illustrators as a way to draw curves. (Note from memory: NURBS = non uniform rational B-spline).

But really everything else was pretty good.

Signed, Okanaganer (can't sign in, maybe got hacked? Google is evil anyway)

chefwen 4:21 AM  

Knew we weren’t dealing with Rex a few words in.

BROTOX made me audibly ugh as did MELODIZES and WOODMEN. SALSA DIP, really? You don’t dip into salsa, you scoop or you’re going to lose all the tasty bits.

A tad bit on the tough side for me, but I got through it.

Rachel, looking forward to seeing you on Jeopardy.

fkdiver 4:44 AM  

Um, no. Just no.

JJ 5:46 AM  

My first two entries were COO, and OOPS SORRY. I liked the clue for OILER, and agree that it should be woodsmen. I think the constructor gave us enough gimmes to help us with the hard ones. I had JASON for JACOB, which three me for a bit, yet couldn't believe my good fortune when MEWL shows up twice in one week.
Overall a nice challenge, and a very enjoyable first puzzle from the constructor.

Lewis 6:15 AM  

This was a struggle for me, with the things I didn't know and some tough spare cluing. But even though it's segmented, the grid has a beautiful design, and this constructor is one to watch. The only thing I missed was the passel of clever word- playing clues that Friday usually brings. But many clues today were clever in that they were tough, but when the answer came, it turns out they were accurate. Congratulations on your debut, Wyna, and looking for many more from you!

Anonymous 6:44 AM  

The last time there was a woman constructor and Rex ranted about the percentages, I posted the stats for this site by gender of blogger. That was all that was in my post, no foul language, nothing. It was never allowed to appear.
The pot and the kettle.

@Anon. 12:22 - melodize is used in popular songwriting as a parallel construction to harmonize; figure out a melody to go along with your cool chord progression vs. figure out good chords to go along with your catchy tune.

@Anon. 12:23 - I got major chuckles out of reading a post that had been so deeply contorted by spell check. When making fine points about the difference between "x" and "y", it helps to make sure "x" and "y" appear in your post!

James Covington 6:48 AM  

Regarding OFL’s tracking of female authored puzzles, does anyone even know what % of submissions are authored by females?

amyyanni 7:23 AM  

I miss Gwen, and I think Judy does too. This was a tough one but gets points for freshness. Looking forward to more from Ms. Liu.

DeeJay 7:23 AM  

Good, tough puzzle for me. Entering GOO at 1D slowed me down, especially as I tried to rationalize GARNISHING at 1A.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Mixed feelings here. On the one hand, this was a tough puzzle and I enjoyed the challenge.

On the other hand, take your SPLINES, TNUTS and TSLOT and shove ‘em.

Was very grateful for FOSSILIZE, as it helped me decide between MELODIZES/ZIA or MELODIsES/sIA. Raised English in the US so my esses and zees/zeds are always confusing. And don't get me started on grey/gray.

Pete 7:43 AM  

@Y'all - Ever wake up at 6AM obsessed with the fact that those little thingies that fit in the T-Slots of your jeweler's milling machine, the one's you're always complaining about how cheaply they're made so the get stuck in the T-Slots are probably called T-Nuts somewhere, by someone?

Me neither. I swear.

Hungry Mother 7:58 AM  

gOO instead of COO because I didn’t read 1 Across carefully. Tough slog to get where I got. Lots of time staring at the grid helplessly.

Michele Angelini 8:07 AM  

Hardest and slowest Friday in a long time. I’m not sure I can join in the excitement.

First of all: in whose Don Giovanni is there a Don Pedro??? Certainly not Mozart’s and certainly not in the more obscure Gazzaniga’s. I resent that clue completely and it was the ONLY clue in the enter Western Hemisphere of the grid I could not get. Made me soooo mad! There are only two Dons: Giovanni and Ottavio, which I know intimately. Furthermore, PEDRO is not an Italian name, so if the character exists in one of the Spanish tellings of Don JUAN then it should be clued as such.

Look, I’m not a big movie-goer, especially not very into rom-coms, but it took me forever to get CRAZYRICHASIANS. How can you clue something that came out last year as being representative of a whole decade of film?? Even if the statistic is correct! I didn’t see the movie, but that’s beside the point. I’m glad it’s in the puzzle, representation is important, but the cluing, for me, was off.

And then the mess of MELODIZE which is NOT a word (I love neologisms, I create them regularly, but this was unwelcome here), and TNUTS in a TSLOT???? Give me a break.

This puzzle made me mad after a week of having some of my fastest times Mon-Thurs. Thanks for ruining that streak. Grumble grumble grumble.

Smitty 8:22 AM  

SPLINE as I learned it is a lengthwise strip of wood that is glued between two planks on a hull if the gap between them is too great.

Mary Lou 8:26 AM  

Worst puzzle ever.

Z 8:29 AM  

Second best puzzle constructed by a woman that I’ve done in the past 12 hours. The Inkubator puzzle was hilarious, but the theme wasn’t exactly something Shortz could ever have published. The NYT ain’t called the Gray Lady for nothing. If you’re not subscribing you’re missing out.

Hand up for giving MELODIZES the serious side-eye. Hand up for not remembering which consonant to double in GWEN IFILL. Crossing names is never fair becomes names are random. My last name has two different spellings within 10 miles of where I was born and my first name has two different common spellings. I know of two other people who “share” my name and none of us spell it the same way. R.A.N.D.O.M.

Have I mentioned that I’m in the camp that thinks everyone is mis-reading Il Principe? I see the clue for 52D and just grit my teeth and put in the answer based on centuries of misunderstanding. Imagine someone watching The Colbert Report as serious. That’s what I think you’re doing if you think Machiavelli meant his words to be taken seriously. Now, can we have a lengthy discussion on whether or not Il should be included in the title and annoy some anonymous posters?

In short, the SE corner really lowered the quality on this one, which is too bad because there is so much to like. However, compared to some other debuts this is top notch. The constructor says this is her first puzzle ever. Impressive. Hoping for more.

@anon12:22 - Z is a pretty uncommon letter to need, so I don’t think we will see a run of MELODIZES.

@Larry Gilstrap - Unfortunately, ignoring sexism won’t end sexism. So you’re stuck in a world we’re people like me will point out that @anonymous6:44 and @James Convington don’t see why their points are sexist. @Anon’s thing is so stupid it doesn’t even merit a response, but, again, a lower percentage of submissions from women is in itself evidence of sexism.

TomAz 8:30 AM  

I am trying not to be cranky about this puzzle, just cuz it was hard. It played more like a Saturday for me. Or rather, it played more like a trivia game in which the questions and answers are kind of dull.

Rather than clever wordplay clues we (or at least, I) admire about the weekend puzzles, we get clues that are just.. bizarre. TNUTS? TSLOT? SPLINES as "thin strips"?? MELODIZES? Who says that ever? JUNO crossing WUSHU? No, no, no, no. That's not making a puzzle challenging by being clever, that's making a puzzle a guessing game.

WOODMEN is a very quaint, 19th century word that no one uses today. I only know it because of the large WOODMEN Life building in downtown Omaha (I think I've been to Omaha like maybe three times in my life, but I remember they had a large downtown office building with WOODMEN in large letters across the top. Funny what one retains.)

This one was not my cup of tea, sorry.

mmorgan 8:36 AM  

Hi Rachel, thanks for the fine write-up! My only problem with guest bloggers is that I never find out if Rex hated a puzzle I liked (a common occurrence) or if he liked a puzzle I didn’t (which has happened, um, maybe once).

I had trouble with parts of this but most things I didn’t know (CATFISHES?!?!) I got from crosses. Still, sadly, I ended up with dArK right in the middle. SE was the hardest for me as I had besTEST for a while and really wanted a bowlful of SALted somethings.

OOPSSORRY, but I thought CRAZY RICH ASIANS was an absolutely dreadful movie. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I thought it was shallow, derivative, stiff, vacuous, and unimaginative. I couldn’t wait for it to come to its utterly predictable end.

On the other hand, this is a top-notch Friday puzzle. And I can’t wait to see Rachel on Jeopardy!

Z 8:38 AM  

@Michele Angelini-Everywhere I looked lists Don PEDRO as the Commandant in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Wikipedia, Brittanica, Seems solid.

Niccolò M. 8:39 AM  

@Z - Someone who writes parody so well that people most commonly misread it as truth can't be described as SLY? Non capisco.

Suzie Q 9:01 AM  

No fun today.
Be at peace before sleep easy messed up that SE corner which already was a mess. Isn't the phrase REST easy?
Changing the name of something by starting it with bro-- is becoming as irritating as using e-- for so many things.
I did find it interesting to learn about Tonka.
Who can see the clue "little buddy" and not think Gilligan?

QuasiMojo 9:10 AM  

I did a double-take when I came to the blog and saw and read the enthusiasm! Welcome Rachel! And congrats on Jeopardy. I took the test years ago at the dread Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City (one of the tackiest buildings ever erected, and an insult to its namesake.) despite considering myself an ALLPRO at Jeopardy, having won billions and billions of dollars at home watching on TV, I found myself having to answer the most obscure sports trivia related questions, or actually putting questions to obscure answers, and not an ALOU in sight. I did not WIN AT LIFE. Plus I lost 50 bucks playing roulette. I didn’t even get to swim at the beach.

This puzzle was challenging and fun. It reminded me of a New Yorker puzzle. Oh so courant. But some cool stuff in it. I had JONAH before JASON. What is it with trends in names? When I was a kid there were no Zacks, now there are gazillions.

I must confess that I watch PBS NewsHour and miss Gwen Ifill’s contributions.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

The New York Times has over 400,000 crossword subscribers. There are probably a few hundred who care about the gender of the constructors and they’re all friends of Rex or posters on this blog. Whine all you like about it but just remember there are fewer than one hundred unique commenters on this site on any given day, i.e., no one’s listening.

Robso 9:21 AM  

If you mistakenly put in CRAZY STUPID LOVE instead of CRAZY RICH ASIANS you might get some interesting answers (like DELTA DIP), but you will not be able to finish the puzzle.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Whatever happened to the modifier (sl)? As in slang? Many words used in current puzzle are slang, as are those in other puzzles . Don’t pollute real language without noting it as pollution, please.

Rainbow 9:27 AM  

@Michele-Pretty sure you ruined your own streak.

CDilly52 9:31 AM  

I’m all in on what a wonderful effort this is. Very difficult for me but once I got started (and thankfully, I just saw CRAZY RICH ASIANS last weekend) there was enough “easier” to keep me moving (slowly) along.

My “bullet” is proof for @Rex that chili is in fact measured by ALARMs. Those of us who live southwest-ish use this all the time. Group member: “I am making my chili for the potluck”. Friend: “Great, but would you maybe dial it back to two alarm?”

The only objection I really have is MELODIZES. I agree that it is a word, but doubt that anyone uses it. Or that anyone uses it regularly instead of all the other possibilities.

Hit my Friday average (just over half an hour) but did have to do some guessing.

Happy weekend everybody!

pabloinnh 9:35 AM  

Finished without cheating on a tough Friday, so that part's good.

However: Never done any CATFISHING. Hate the word KIDDO. MELODIZE, no thanks. Know SPLINES in another context. Thought CRAZYRICHASIANS might as well have been about people from outer space. The TNUTS/TSLOTS combo was a, um, really?

In short, I'm afraid this Friday made me feel old, until I read the write up, and then I felt older.

gfrpeace 9:45 AM  

michelle angelini I think Il Commendatore is officially named Don Pedro. I don't remember that anyone called himj that but after a few crosses I dropped it in. My biggest problem was caused by SitprEtty instead of SLEEPEASY

A guy in Nampa 9:47 AM  

Very tough, but not in a clever challenging way... in an annoying, really?!, I-call-bullshit way.
Not good or even "meh".
But if gender of the constructor is the most important thing to you...

RooMonster 9:55 AM  

Hey All !
@anoa bob - is there an opposite of your POC? SOC (singular of convenience)? Because there are a couple answers here that ring that way to my ears. WOODMEN. WEAR ON.

@Aketi - wondering if you've ever heard of WUSHU? I sure hadn't.

ONIIN TART, is that an English thing? Asking for a friend.

Knew THE RIO right off, as I usually point it out to tourists if we pass it by. (For those who don't know, THE RIO is not on The Strip, it's across our major N-S Interstate [I-15] and can be seen from certain spots on The Strip.) Wanted MEWL first, but the GW was throwing me off. Put in Moan, then MEWL. Had GWEstFaLL first (that's Someone, right?) IFILL is a cool last name. I FILL in IFILL. Har. 31 & 32D were Tbolt & Tnuts. Never heard of a TSLOT. eNNUi-ANNUL.

NE corner easiest for me. Segmented grid. Liked WOOHOO, WIN AT LIFE. GOTONE is odd as clued. And can someone explain the clue for ADVIL? How does pitcher work?


Anonymous 9:59 AM  

@michele 8:08, not sure if you are doing a parody of OFL, but
Don Pedro is better known as Il Commendatore in Mozart’s opera.
Unless a romcom comes out this year, crazy rich Asians will take the title, and 100% accurate as of press time

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

So, WUSHU Pork is where you have to beat the pig to death yourself?

FrankStein 10:14 AM  

I read somewhere recently that Crazy Rich Asians was a box office failure in Asia.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

Considering that there was barely a single bit of info I knew in this puzzle -- not the internet misrepresentation, not the toy company, not the rom-com, not the opera character, not the martial art (where is @Aketi when I need her?) -- the fact that I solved this without a single cheat makes me feel like the Solver With The MOSTESS. I "suffered" INSANELY during the solve and enjoyed it a lot -- in a masochistic kind of way.

Okay, CATFISHES as "internet misrepresentation". You knew that web-challenged me was going to ask, didn't you? I thought and thought and thought about what it could possibly mean, and here's what I came up with: YOU PUT AN IRRESISTIBLE VIDEO OF YOUR CAT DOING JUST THE CUTEST, MOST ADORABLE AND IMPROBABLE THING ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE, AND, WITHIN AN HOUR, YOU HAVE MADE 5,724 NEW "FRIENDS". THING IS, YOU DON'T EVEN OWN A CAT! And thus, you have successfully CATFISHEd. Yes?

I loved MELODIZES for "composes beautifully" -- even though no one would ever use the word. It underscores what I have always believed: that you need melody to have music worth listening to. Interesting that MELODIZES crosses METAL -- a "music genre" with no melody at all. Just noise. Or "decibels" as the clue (47A) directly states. Ugh.

nyc_lo 10:40 AM  

Two wrongs most definitely do not make a right. TNUTS next to TSLOTS is still dreck, no matter how you stack ‘em.

Whatsername 10:41 AM  

Thank you Wyna Lou for a fun Friday exercise. Hope to see more from your efforts in the future. My only very minor quibble is 56 across; the expression more familiar to me is BREATHE easy. Never had an onion tart but it sounds like something I’d want to try. I did not know the Tonka Toy company name is a derivative of the Sioux language. Made me recall the scene in Dances With Wolves where Kevin Costner is miming the buffalo in an attempt to communicate their arrival on the plains.

Thank you also, Rachel, for an entertaining synopsis today. Have already set my DVR to record your Jeopardy appearance. I hope you OWNIT and come away with the MOSTEST money KIDDO!

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

@Z - "a lower percentage of submissions from women is in itself evidence of sexism" - Please explain. Apparently the word "sexism" no longer means the same thing. I always thought of sexism as judging, dismissing, praising, refusing, influencing one's opinion of, etc. based on the sex of the person involved. If fewer women submit, how is it sexist to run fewer puzzles by women? It would be sexist not to run a puzzle submitted by a male to try to achieve 50/50 on puzzles run if men submit 90% of the puzzles. Is not the goal not to discriminate against an individual based on his/her/their sex?

Bob Mills 10:58 AM  

The Tennessee Titans were once the Houston Oilers, but no player on the current Titan team was ever an Oiler. So the clue is misleading.

"MELODIZES" isn't a word. Nor ia "WOODMEN."

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

The fact that you care at all about the gender of the constructor makes you a sexist. Give it up

Nancy 11:14 AM  

"...having won billions and billions of dollars at home watching on TV." You're hilarious, @Quasi (9:10)! Now I must go Google the Taj Mahal in Atlantic city to look at the "tack" of this "tacky" hotel you describe. (Incidentally, what I wanted for the "bits of hardware" at 31D was TACKS instead of TNUTS.)

Carola 11:25 AM  

This was a workout for me, and I was glad to finish. A combination of just-happened-to-know + help from previous crosswords + lucky guesses cancelled out my many no-ideas and many ERRors.
Just read about CATFISHING in the paper yesterday; apparently those in my age range are the most susceptible. My husband does medical work in Bangladesh, where Khaleda ZIA is always in the news (and now in jail).
I got quite a bit of mileage out of guessing SPLINES, TONKA, TNUTS, and TSLOT but more often went astay, needing to correct THE taj, dArK to MASK, deLOS to MILOS, JAmes to JACOB, and BROpiX (thinking of a photo shoot) to BROTOX. I have to say, these BRO- combos are starting to WEAR ON me.

I look forward to this constructor's next one.

Bruce R 11:27 AM  

Amigo, mas salsa dip por favor. Salsa dip. That's just dumb. It's called salsa.

Banana Diaquiri 11:29 AM  

"WOODMaN, spare that tree!"
-- some author/poet whose name I can't recall and won't waste time looking up

HSCW Editor 11:32 AM  

MELODIZE is found in all standard dictionaries, though it may be a bit obscure. And interestingly, it doesn't just relate to music. You will find it in older discussions of color, as in this example from a 19th Century "Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal":

"Purple melodizes red and blue, and is melodized by its tertiaries russet, formed with orange, and olive with green."

The most wonderful thing about doing crosswords is learning something new every day. I will never understand those who complain something is "not a word" just because they don't know it, or scorn it simply because it is older or less common. Where is your joy in discovery?

Every tough puzzle I do sets me off on some new tangent, where I discover lovely antiques or modern creations of which I was previously unaware. Knowledge is power. It is also delight.

Peteroregon 11:47 AM  

What, no one here ever heard of the fraternal organization called Woodmen of the World or W.O.W.? Seriously. You can look it up.

ghostoflectricity 11:48 AM  

Easy-medium? You liked it? Really, Rex? Really?

Sir Hillary 11:52 AM  

Late to the party today, and no time to digest comments, so just a quick summary:
-- After the NW feel quickly, I found this very hard...
-- ...because...
-- ...CRAZYstupidlove had to be right...right? Farts!
-- And the SI's "Olympian of the Century" was surely (Jesse) owenS, right? Right?? Double farts!
-- And of course the facetious superlative was beSTEST...oh, never mind, you know where I'm going.
-- Eventually fixed all of the above, but wow, what a time-sink. I think I may have FOSSILIZEd a bit.
-- Aside from the annoying single-point-of-entry NW and SE sections, this is a damn fine puzzle.

old timer 11:57 AM  

All in all a good puzzle, and after all when I finish a Friday in a reasonable time I'm a happy camper.

I hear MOSTEST and I am suddenly five or six years old again, hearing Ethel Merman sing "The Hostess With the MOSTEST on the Ball." The theme song of a great, though underrated, musical by Irving Berlin, Call Me Madam. The lyrics are very clever and the tune is singable. What's not to like?

puzzlehoarder 12:07 PM  

An excellent debut and tougher than the average Friday puzzle. I'm completely unfamiliar with the term CATFISHES and the "2010s" part of the clue for 33A made me think it couldn't possibly be referencing a movie that just came out.

I had to restart in the NE and work my way down to the SW. JASON/JACOB was my only write over.

The SE was the last section. I can empathize with anyone who felt the 50D/54A crossing was a bit of a toss up. I'm unfamiliar with GWENIFILL but ZIA looked right. It turns out this was due to a completely different politician but whatever works. MELODIZES is just a straight up word which gave me some good leverage.

This was a welcome debut.

Martin 12:14 PM  

I think Pete 12:23 is saying that this is not a thing.

Ethan Taliesin 12:24 PM  

Nice to see GWEN IFILL in the grid.

Breezy Friday hubris on cruise control conjured nemesis in SW corner. I had KIDDI, BRO PIX, PRUDE and OWN UP. All of which *soooort of* make sense.

Okay, maybe not prude.


Anonymous 12:51 PM  

As a classicist, I immediately recognized that 28 Down (Greek island...) referred to Melos and had a gag reflex when I realized that I had to switch to Milos to get the crossword to work. The people who live there are Melians and have been since the island was settled in the 8th century BC; the dialogue is the Melian Dialogue, perhaps the most powerful episode in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. Yes, it's the Venus de Milo but that's French, not English.

QuasiMojo 1:04 PM  

Lol. George Pope Morris. @Banana Diaquiri

TJS 1:12 PM  

I hated this dreck. And then I read a review where someone rhapsodizes about it ! Sheesh !

@Z, good to see your pedantic gene is acting up again. If "everyone" misreads The Prince, then how is your opinion part of a "camp"?

Z 1:30 PM  

@anon10:47 - Seriously? Tell you what, paypal me $3,500 and I’ll provide a mini course on systemic sexism. Or, you know, do a little googling and buy a few books.

@TJS - You call me pedantic and yet take every word I write as literal? Not to go all pedantic and well actually on you, but my camp was much larger during the enlightenment. Wikipedia actually has a nice section about it. These days that viewpoint is rarely mentioned, let alone taught. If you got a copy handy, read it as if Colbert or Stewart wrote it and decide for yourself if it holds up.

@Niccolò M - True, but you and I both know that’s not the usage the clue writer meant.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

@Martin - Pete 7:43 already corrected Pete 12:23. With that exact example. But you're good, because everyone needs correcting as often as possible, redundancy be damned.

OffTheGrid 1:45 PM  

Someone asked about "Relief pitcher?"/ADVIL.
ADVIL sales pitch for pain relief.

Masked and Anonymous 1:46 PM  

This FriPuz has got yer WUSHU and yer MASK. What's not to like? Woulda been kinda fun, to have heard @RP honk the gnash-null emergency horn on them TNUTS in the TSLOT, tho. We'da popped up some corn at our house, for that occasion. [But, that there T-Stuff Corner was a really really cool ploy, IM&AO.]

staff weeject pick: Tough choice, for the staffmeisters. Only 8 lil darlins to choose from, despite primo weeject stacks in the NW & SE. ZIA wins, by a magnificent "Z".

Some might not like this narrow-inlets puzgrid look, but I give it thUmbsUp, for bein different. If U ain't got no theme, it's one way to make the solvequest experience seem fresh. Goes along real well with T-Stuff Corner. As does fave raised-by-hungry-wolveses CATFISHES & WOODMEN. [There is a Modern Woodmen life insurance outfit, btw. So it has some underwritin usage immunity.]

Amazin debut, Wyna Liu darlin. Congrat-zia, and bro-thanx for the fun. I WUSH U will come back again, real soon. [Also, glad U escaped the wrath of @RP, on yer first get go.]

And thanx for the most excellent subjob, Queen Rachel darlin. Primo bullets.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Martin 1:50 PM  

Anon 12:51

"Classicist" is the problem here. "Melos" is the accurate transliteration of the Ancient Greek pronunciation, but it's "Milos" to a modern Greek. (Both English spellings are accepted.)

They call the letter "ee-ta" today. In fact, it seems that most Greek vowels and vowel digrams are pronounced with a long-E sound. On a recent trip, I found out on day one that I needed to relearn the Greek alphabet.

albatross shell 1:56 PM  

Maybe someone should write an ethics of nitpicking xwords clues. Can we at least apply the same standard of nipicking to the nitpick as is applied to the clue?
T-Nut - Installed in a T-Slot.png
Hit images.
First image (from wiki-commons). Hit it and you see a tnut installed in a tslot, as described by the clue.
WOODMAN actually used in a famous poem.
I was hoping the answer was going to be FELLERS.
Titan and OILER. How can a clue that leads directly to the answer be misleading? And were there not many 1997 Titans who were once Oilers?
SALSADIP:Google salsa dip recipes. Google salsa dip products: Some are called salsa and dips, but some are called salsa dips. And we are not going to call something a dip if we have to scoop as we dip? Really?
I really like finding errors in CLUING, and near errors. But apply the decision you demand to your own comments.

Rug Crazy 2:00 PM  

YAHHOO, WAHHOO, WOOHOO. The third time was a charm

jberg 2:28 PM  

Solved early, but had to leave for a music lesson, so I'm posting late. Almost everything has been said. Yes, WOODMEN are real, and not the same as woodsmen, either. And yes, you can MELODIZE. And, yes, the job of an editor is not simply to take what is submitted and decide what to publish, but to go out and recruit the submitters who are needed to make the puzzle live up to its status.

I've attended a few performances of Don Giovanni, and had no idea of the Commendatore's name, but fair enough -- we all got it, right? Unless the character tells us his or her name in an aria, like Mimi, it's sometimes hard to know what those names are.

Irving Berlin was basing the show, on the real hostess with the MOSTEST, Perle Mesta. @old timer, I guess you're too young to remember that!

Today's hardest part: realizing that THE RIO was two words. I wanted something like Alerio or Che(e)rio, but neither seemed right.

Nice puzzle, Ms. Liu, and nice write-up, Rachel!

BarbieBarbie 2:54 PM  

I loved WUSHU near WOOHOO.
What’s with everyone doubting WOODMEN? Then what was Jack Haley a tin one of?
Loved this puzzle. Some really fun answers. More please.

Phil 2:54 PM  

SALSA red and MGB (missed the plural) gave me BLEED EASY. I thought chalk it up to latest kid lingo ignorance.

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

Anon 12:51,
You're dead rigbt, of course, about Melos. But I can't agree with you regarding Thucydides. For my money the funeral oration is the high point and most pwerful part of the History.

Be assured that classicist is never the problem. Ever. The island is Melos. Pronunciation doesnt enetr into the proceedings at all.

burtonkd 3:39 PM  

Well said and documented. Plus, isn't half the point to be misleading but legit?

What? 3:41 PM  

Like Trivial Pursuit. Who knows Khalida? Woodmen? Wushu?

Dr. Gary Johnson 3:50 PM  

Well I think this puzzle was just marvelous and so was Rachel's review of it.

Friday is a tough day but I think we should all congratulate these two gals on the credible job they did.

Color me (happily) surprised!

sanfranman59 4:27 PM  

Challenging NYT Friday (16:16, 45% above my 6-month Friday median) ... WOODMEN (24A)/WUSHU (24D) and CATFISHES (1A)/COO (1D) were my primary trouble spots.

I like to learn things from solving and I had a few learning experiences here:
- BROTOX (39D), Khaleda ZIA (50D) and the aforementioned WUSHU (24D) and CATFISHES (1A)
- SPLINES (21A) ... like Rachel, I know this word from biostatistics and wasn't aware of its construction connotation
- FREON (14D) was once used in aerosols
- There's such a thing as an ONION TART (15A), though that's not surprising. I don't do tarts very often
- TONKA (20D) comes from a Dakota Sioux word ... I wonder how that happened?

It was such a shock to learn of GWEN IFILL's (54A) death a couple of years ago. RIP.

Carl LEWIS (42D) was amazing and the greatest Olympian of my lifetime. But it seems to me that, under the circumstances in which he competed, the Olympian of the Century was Jesse Owens and that was my initial entry.

Terrific debut!

Joe Dipinto 5:05 PM  

So made by a non-male constructor!. Oh please -- eyeroll. That's where I stop reading your blather today.

Made the CRAZY STUPID LOVE mistake, a movie I'd rather had been at 33a than the unoriginal piece of dreck that's there instead. I detested that film so much I didn't even remember it existed at first. That error served to put a serious crimp in my getting the bottom half done. Now on to Saturday...

James Covington 5:27 PM  

Was curious about the gender question, so did some research. The web site has a page of the crossword authors in the Will Shortz era, and how many puzzles each has had published (minimum of 10 to make list).
I ran the numbers and made my best guess from first names as to gender; here are the results:
Out of a total 215 authors, 33 are women, composing 15.3%.
Taking into account the number of puzzles, out of a total of 7884 puzzles, 1370 are by women, composing 17.4%.
Conclude what you will, this is just data.

CDilly52 6:13 PM  

Thank you re MELODIZE.

Stanley Hudson 6:14 PM  

Fine puzzle and excellent write up by Rachel.

CDilly52 6:22 PM  

True about Il Commendatore, but only true opera buffs (or Mozart afficianados very deep into it) are aware of his name. In all my years performing on stage andnin the pit and as a regular opera goer, I have never seen Don Pedro listed as a character. He is occasionally (very) mentioned in the program notes. I cry foul.

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

What conditions made it difficult for Owens to compete?
Nazism? A repulsive ideology sure, but tbe Games they staged were first rate. Besides Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller were the US Olympians who had it rough at the '36 games. They got booted from the 4 x 400 relay team. Owens got one of the slots. The Americans were the class of the field and of course won gold. Easily. So Owens got a medal while Glickman got the shaft.
Of course Paavo Nurmi was better than all of them....

Adam 8:44 PM  

I was so not on the puzzle’s wavelength. I couldn’t get a toe-hold anywhere. Finally got RAYON and ALOU, and BYOB, and the middle, but I had a tough time with the rest. Relied on google a few times. I didn’t really enjoy it.

SBpianist 11:12 PM  

I’ve known “Don Giovanni” since I was a tyke. I’ve never, ever heard of Don Pedro. Ever. A very rough Friday after a good week, and not fun. Natick upon Natick

SBpianist 11:13 PM  

Um, yeah.

Michele Angelini 6:22 AM  

I’ve known Don Giovanni for more of my life and I have performed in several high profile productions, not to mention years of devoted study of Mozart, his life, and his works. I have never seen the name Don Pedro in reference to the Commendatore and if I had, it did not register as a detail worth remembering. It’s like worrying about Scarpia’s first name, Vittelio. I prefer the comment Anthony Laciura made once on a Met Quiz in response to that question, “What was Scarpia’s first name?” “Louie!! E avanti a Louie tremava tutta Roma!”

I call foul, foulissimo.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Agree with other commenters on the just plain wrongness of some of the clues (TNUTS/TSLOTS) and the crappiness of many of the others (SPLINES, SALSA DIP--what the....?, MOSTEST, MELODIZES). This sloppiness is typical of the Will Shortz puzzle era and, when combined with the rigid segmentation, made this puzzle not only hard to complete but no fun at all.

tim 9:28 AM  

I'm all for more puzzles being designed by women, but crossing unguessable proper nouns like WUSHU / ALOU and ZIA / IFILL is a dick move.

Jesse 2:23 PM  

Great job Rachel! Looking forward to your Jeopardy appearance.

HSCW Editor 1:11 AM  

Concerning all the indignation about Don Pedro: exactly what are you folks using as sources? And why try to make a distinction between "Don Giovanni" and "Don Juan"? That's usually just a matter of which language it's sung in. If you look at an Italian score, the opera is called "Don Giovanni". But German and English translations have historically used the Spanish versions of character names, with the title of the opera on these scores and libretti being "Don Juan".

As for The Commandant, in numerous scores and libretti - and even in many programs handed out at modern performances - the role is listed as "Il Commendatore (Don Pedro)". Occasionally you'll see records of historical performances listing "Don Pedro / Masetto", followed by the name of the singer ( since in the premiere and for some time afterward it was common for the same singer to perform both roles). And in one older German/English libretto he's listed on the German side as "Don Petro, Gouverneur" (yes, Petro with a "t", Gott knows why, and on the English as "Don Pedro, the Governor".

Even Wikipedia includes the name. Now, I have no respect for Wikipedia as a source, but here they got it do more venerable works such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, from which they possibly copied the information (oops, I'm being cynically potentially libelous there, sorry).

Sure it's become a bit of opera trivia, considering how many scores, libretti, and programs omit the name. But it's correct, and a perfectly fair clue.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Yeah! A mix of Monday and Friday fill, with hardware goofs.
One caramelizes the onions, not the tart. Freon was a coolant, not an aerosol propellant.
They can kiss my ano for not using the ñ.

Except for the Tin Woodman of The Wizard Of Oz.

Burma Shave 10:44 AM  


with PEDRO and JACOB, she could then
say, “OOPS,SORRY to COO so sleazy,
but I’ve GOTONE or two HIRED WOODMEN.”


spacecraft 11:10 AM  

Two unforgiveable sins put a halt to my solving efforts today: RTF (refuse to finish).

One isn't really the constructor's fault: it's Sports Illustrated's. Please tell me you ditched the incomparable Jesse OWENS (who also, meanly, fits the space), who did his thing at a very focal point in world history in the very shadow of...yeah, that guy. How could anyone else even be CONSIDERED to be the Olympian of the year? Carl LEWIS? Sure, he ran fast. Won a few golds. Meh. Might as well name Bruce...oh, wait. Nevermind.

That might have passed, though surely there are much better clues for LEWIS than that. But the other? The &wich? That did it.

centralscrewtinizer 1:34 PM  

Agree on the selection by SA of LEWIS instead of Owens, @Spacey, but disagree on the puzzle.
Thought I was gonna DNF big time, but got everything done pretty cleanly until I got stuck in the NW. My wife got me out of that hot mess with ONION TART, as I was stuck with only bacON and lemON.
Never heard of CATFISHES; huge misdirect to phISHES, at least to me.
Some CRAZY RICH stuff here. MEWL makes another appearance about which I am querulous.

rondo 2:57 PM  

I tried a lemONTART before I got the TIP for an ONIONTART and I wanted to WINATLovE before I’d fill GWENIFILL to WINATLIFE. Otherwise clean. WOOHOO! @SPACY [sic] – there was more than the ampersandwich, what with both TNUTS and TSLOT standing right next to it.

Shout out to TONKA Toys from right here in the Twin Cities.

BTW, today is the birthday of J.J. WATT.

The late GWENIFILL gets a yeah baby for being a terrific journalist.

I was GLADTO finish this one.

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

A mess, with 8 pisser clues/answers. Rejected.

leftcoastTAM 6:45 PM  

A bit (a lot) too far out of my wheelhouse today. I'll hang it on some PPPs, slang and other such lingo, like WUSHU, BROTOX, SPLINES, etc....

leftcoastTAM 7:38 PM  

Wyna Liu, this is your debut? Wow! Congratulations.

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