John Updike novel subtitled "A Romance" / FRI 6-21-19 / Entertainer and civil rights activist Horne / reflex, infant's instinctual spreading of the arms

Friday, June 21, 2019

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy (for a Friday)


Word of the Day: LENA Horne (48D: Entertainer and civil rights activist Horne)
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist. Horne's career spanned over 70 years appearing in film, television, and theater. Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of 16 and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood.
Returning to her roots as a nightclub performer, Horne took part in the March on Washington in August 1963 and continued to work as a performer, both in nightclubs and on television while releasing well-received record albums. She announced her retirement in March 1980, but the next year starred in a one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway. She then toured the country in the show, earning numerous awards and accolades. Horne continued recording and performing sporadically into the 1990s, disappearing from the public eye in 2000. Horne died of congestive heart failure on May 9, 2010, at the age of 92.
• • •

Hi all, Rachel Fabi in for Rex tonight, as he is currently attending a John Prine concert in my city and bought me a beer in exchange for substitute blogging. Turns out that was a pretty great deal, because I absolutely flew through this puzzle, and should have an entire blog post written in the time it probably takes John Prine to tune his guitar.

Solving this was a dream-- there wasn't a single section were I stumbled for more than a couple of seconds. The NW went down first, with OGRE and OASIS both cleanly opening into GROUP PHOTO, with an excellent misdirect on the clue (14A: Big shot?), and READY OR NOT, with a more obvious clue (17A: Words in hide-and-seek -- not sure there are really any other words in hide-and-seek?). From the NW, the rest of the West fell into place, followed by the NE and SE. The last section I filled in was the middle; I had MANI in for PEDI, but once I got DON'T BE MAD for 36A: "It wasn't my fault," the middle clicked too.

I loved this grid all the way through. None of the fill felt crosswordy, and the longer entries were interesting, even if none of them were particularly AVANT GARDE. My only gripe is that the clues on these longer entries were a little too straightforward. For example, I think there were probably more exciting ways to clue 22D: Wed for TIED THE KNOT, or 10D: Often-repeated bit of modern folklore for URBAN LEGEND (notable exception: 51A: Something relatively complicated? for FAMILY TREE). Perhaps the lower level of difficulty on the clues is what makes this a Friday puzzle rather than a Saturday, but I still tend to expect a little more of a challenge this late in the week.

Overall, this is a refreshingly clean and crisp Friday puzzle that made me feel like an Olympic-level speed solver, which is honestly a pretty great way to go into the weekend.

PS. I feel morally obligated to disclose that Rex also bought co-organizer of Lollapuzzoola Brian Cimmet a beer, in exchange for which Brian told us the theme for this year's tournament. As an ethicist, having this kind of inside information makes me really uncomfortable, so I am sharing the theme with all of you. The theme for this year's Lollapuzzoola is: Cupcakes. You're welcome.

  • 38D: John Updike novel subtitled "A Romance" - MARRY ME — I'm not familiar with the Updike novel, but this was pretty inferable, and it gives me an excuse to share this absolutely adorable music video from <autotune>Jason Derulo</autotune>:

  • 32A: Turn a blind eye - SEE NO EVIL — I can't read this phrase without immediately replacing it with the monkey-covering-its-eyes emoji. Can Blogger support emojis? Let's find out: 🙈
Signed, Rachel Fabi, Queen-for-a-Day of CrossWorld
[Follow Rachel on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Klazzic 5:01 AM  

I miss Rex. This perky review is utterly nauseating. I like grouchy.

Loren Muse Smith 6:38 AM  

Rachel – you can perky all day long. Nothing nauseating about it - a welcome respite from grumpy. I’m always grateful to anyone who steps in on short notice so that we continue to have our little salon. (@Klazzic – just the other day, you complained that there were “Too many sour pusses (sic) here.” Which is it?)

Another stellar offering by my favorite Girl Friday. Wait. I guess that’s un-pc and insulting. How ‘bout my Friday Girl? Nah – I bet people’d object to “Girl” maybe? Friday Woman? Fridame? But actually this whole exercise is stupid because she’s my favorite Friday constructor period. And since I love to name-drop and associate myself with crossworld badasses, I have to say I know Robyn well enough to know she’s not someone who is constantly looking to be offended by stuff. My kind of gal. Person.

She and her husband are renewing their vows this weekend, hence the MARRY ME and TIED THE KNOT just kidding.

Random observation: Since when did the words boho chic become boo hoo chic? Since they renewed their vowels. Ba dum tss.

This played pretty hard for me since I had “sore” before FORD and “Sachs”(sic) before MACYS. Typed up all fancy here, I see how dumb “Sachs” looks. It looked perfectly fine in my tidy pencil capital letters.

Rachel – I have other words used in hide-and-seek. Apple, peaches, punkin’ pie…who’s not ready, holler “I”! Hah. Never thought about how “grammatical” that chant is. Thing is, sometimes someone would actually yell, I! and It guy would cheerfully start the count over.

The clue and answer for 41D feels menacing. Or at least not good. GET IN. Said the guy with the puppy and candy. Sometimes I notice a gnat or fly or moth flying around in the car while I’m driving, and I consider smushing it on the windshield. But then I think maybe the bug does have a soul and maybe its little bug kids are waiting for it or maybe it’s gonna go on to do important, great bug things… so I roll down my window and tell it to GET out. Hah. “Get out” feels even more menacing since I just saw the movie. Scar. Ree.

URBAN LEGEND – continuing an earlier discussion of preposition stranding… It’s quite possible that Churchill never even said that “…kind of arrant pedantry up with which…” See this article (one of many), that cites our resident (kinda) linguist Ben Zimmer’s research into this.

AVANT GARDE – ok. Buckle your seat belts, people. There’s a new verb being birthed in spoken English and it’s gonna kill a lot of you: to cheers. I’ve been hearing it a ton on Bravo TV, so it’s totally legit. Last night on Southern Charm, one of the guys asked, What are we cheersing? But I’ve heard it several times in things like We need to cheers to her divorce being final. Or You’ve got to be kidding. They cheersed to his arrest? Chile, dat some major bitch-assment. Just remember – you heard it here first. Kory Stamper – gimme a call. We need to talk.

Robyn – terrific as usual. Every single long entry is a gem.

Solverinserbia 6:43 AM  

My first ever golden Friday (somehow came after Saturday and Sunday.) It was quite easy. More like a Wednesday time for me.

Hungry Mother 6:47 AM  

Day off from running on this Summer Solstice, so I had plenty of time for a leisurely solve. The puzzle was too quickly done. I liked it.

The Whip 6:48 AM  

@Klazzic Stockholm syndrome at its best. Rex's constant snark, smugness, antipathy to anything he doesn't know, and that bombastic Trumpy "I am the greatest" schtick is truly what's nauseating.

Fab review, Ms. Fabi!

astrotrav 7:17 AM  

I liked it. Other than the MANI/PEDI business it was a clean solve with minimal bad fill. Nice to feel smart on a Friday for once.

puzzlehoarder 7:18 AM  

Today's push over puzzle gave me all of one more minute of solving than last Friday's push over. This unfortunately does seem to be the future of late week puzzles at least for Friday.

Sure this looks nicer than your run of the mill TV Guide type of puzzle but solving wise it offers little more. MORO just of and by itself would tend to be a good late week entry. The way it was clued today made it a complete unknown to me. Embedded in a puzzle like this it was harmless.

As I said it's a nice looking puzzle and I'm glad for those who enjoyed it. For myself 47A inspired me to make a clue for the editor. "Where to stick this puzzle?" The answer is three letters and it's not BLT.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

That’s about as snoozy a set of long entries as you’ll ever see. BY ANY MEANS, STOP AHEAD, DON’T BE MAD, READY OR NOT. Not an ounce of zing there.

Desperately tired having gotten in at 2am yesterday morning from vacation in Panama (35 reptile species, including 12 snakes; 27 amphibian species), so somewhat blurry-eyed and fumble-fingered, and still pretty much flew through this one.

amyyanni 7:37 AM  

@kitshef, welcome home. Did you see the canal or just the snakes? Love the puzzle and the blogpost too. Fun being misled by several clues, but just enough so you could find your way back.

Steve 7:54 AM  

There was a song in the 60s by Jay and the Techniques called "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie"! I had no idea that it meant anything other than the usual inscrutable rock and roll lyric nonsense.
"To cheers"? Just say no. Forcefully. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Oh, and BTW, loved Robyn's grid, as always! She's one of my faves!

webwinger 7:55 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle, though my time was a bit longer than average. No particular reason, just had to think hard to get a number of answers, so not complaining. Started with Haven at 1A, which slowed me down out of the gate. Thought the clueing overall was excellent, and pitch-perfect for Friday. Even EELY, by far the yuckiest answer in the grid, was mostly redeemed by its fine clue.

READY OR NOT set loose a flood of memories. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, in the 1950s, on a very low-traffic street in a neighborhood full of kids who played Hide-and-Seek all the time on summer evenings. The block was lined with beautiful elm trees, one of which was the usual place to tag for players coming in. I recall hearing shouts of “Bee, bee, bumblebee, everybody come in free!” and “You’re it and I quit!” to end the game. Sadly, almost all of the trees succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease while I lived there. To my recent delight, the street I now live on in Colorado is beautifully tree-shaded, and the biggest and bestest of them all is a huge American Elm.

Boo hoo chic? Really, @LMS...

albatross shell 8:06 AM  

I sometimes call over to K when I find a clue amusing. So I said: Big shot, question mark. A moment later came the reply: Cannonball. I had not even mentioned 10 letters.

Also liked the clues for ALONE PITA which took way too long, and BLT which did not. My only serious hold up was the NE. oVEA for UVEA, always forget ROES are deer, GENE and dominant did not connect quickly and MORO was a never knew, but now I do. URBANLEGEND, as familiar as it is, just did not pop out until GENE connected. Most of my dimwittedness was saved for that corner.

Liked the comment at the end of the Churchill article.
That's what you get for using the passive voice. I will not put up with that.
Also: How do you know one is not saying TWO cheers for
her divorce? And after all that cheersing, I'm fearsing
I need some beersing. Lets hope its not trendsing.

TJS 8:18 AM  

So much for looking for a challenge on Friday. What a challenge-free waste of time. I don't begrudge anyone sticking up for a personal friend, but seriously, @LMS, this was in no way a Friday level effort.

Re. Hide and Seek, how about the lead in to "Ready or Not", "Here I Come"?

I think "Don't be mad" implies an admission of fault, not a denial, usually with "but" attached.

On to the archive for a Friday test.

mmorgan 8:19 AM  

Really nice puzzle, with a little bit of everything, very doable but I didn’t exactly zip through it. As usual, I found myself wondering toward the end what Rex would say... often I feel, well, this was a very good puzzle, I bet he’ll like it, only to have him rant and scream and tear it to shreds. So I’ll never know how he felt about this one, but thanks for the write-up, Rachel!

Love love love Lena Horne.

@LMS - they renewed their vowels hahahahahahahahahaha!

Rube 8:43 AM  

Right on. Just because it "looks good" is not justification for a puzzle that offered nothing close to a Friday challenge. I give it a Tuesday and 3 bucks down the drain.

GILL I. 8:53 AM  

I always like Robyn Fridays....Maybe because I never have to use the Googs or probably because I love a lot of her entries. No matter....this was fun.
It didn't take me long and after I was done I sat back and began to think of some of the things that brought on a smile:
I didn't really know that MACYS owned Bloomigdale's. Easy enough to get. Then the smile creeps in as I remember taking the subway to Lexington and knowing I would spend the entire day at Bloomie's. My sister and I would head straight to the shoe department. She's a shoeaholic....All day trying on shoes! And then we'd find a place to eat. Ice cream? Pastry? Burger? I haven't been back in ages but I hope nothing has changed.
I love an URBAN LEGEND. I could spend an entire day looking into them. Some of my favs: Chupacabra and cow tipping. The one that really got me, though, was Gere's gerbilectomy. the very first one I heard was about this girl who would rat her UPDO a mile high and then spray it over and over again so that it would stay in one place. She never washed her hair because it would ruin her do. Well, she finally paid for that peccadillo because a tarantula crawled into her beehive one night while she was sleeping and made a comfortable nest. 3 days later, it gave birth to 543 little babies. When she went to the prom, they all came out at once. Her boyfriend dumped her.
Is there a child on this earth who hasn't played hide-and-seek? I always cheated.
Liked seeing HORN on the saddle. My grandmother always had a riding crop in her hand while riding English. She wanted me to ride on a Western Saddle because I was only 7 and she felt it safer. Every time I'd grab onto the HORN she'd use her crop to swat me. I have wonderful childhood memories.
Rachel, what a refreshing write-up. Glad you stopped in.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

So what kind of reflex is it when infants "instinctually" spread their arms? The 4-letter answer began with an "M" and both my natural optimism and my natural pessimism immediately kicked in.

The MAMA reflex. Spreading one's arms to reach out to one's MAMA. The instinct of love made manifest. What could be more wonderful?

Except that the 2nd letter turned out to be an "O" and the 3rd an "R". The MORE reflex!!!
Spreading one's arms because one wants MORE. The instinct of greed made manifest. Uh-oh! Greed -- the deeply embedded human characteristic that will ultimately destroy the planet. Seen in even the tiniest infant. What could be more terrible?

But no -- the correct answer is the MORO reflex. What on earth is that???? Hands up if you've never heard of it either.

As for the rest of the puzzle? Fairly crunchy and consistently engrossing. I found it a lot harder at the bottom than at the top. I enjoyed it.

Zwhatever 9:09 AM  

@LMS - Option 3: @Klazzic was joshing us. This is why I sometimes put asterisks by my intended jokes. Otherwise I might look like a Schrödinger Jerk.

Liked this a lot. The top line is a little weak with TBSP and UVEA, but then we are mostly dreck-free. Hand up (har) for fingernails before toenails. I also had a creaky aTtIc, with just enough letters in common with STAIR to make me hang onto it too long. I also hesitated at “early” tryout since BETA TESTs are fairly late in the software development process. But those are mostly on me. I disagree with @kitshef, I found the phrases fresh and evocative.

22D - “Wed” has ambiguous tenseness, which is why I suspect it was used as the clue. “Wed” and “wedded” both being past tense is just another example of language refusing to conform to rules, something we can all cheers I’m sure.

Zwhatever 9:14 AM  

BTW - If this was too easy, try this week’s Inkubator puzzle. I had a one letter DNF at a classic natick. Otherwise I thought it was a fine tussle with lots of stuff out of my wheelhouse, but still solvable with a little thought.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

@Nancy: Nope--never heard of the MORO reflex either, but the crosses took care of it.
@webwinger: EELY was my one and only complaint in this puzzle. "That concept is eely," said no one ever.

I really enjoyed solving this puzzle and agree that most of the clues were clever and required a bit of axonal redirection. Just enough. Much fun!

Re: "to cheers." Just because people on Bravo shows are saying it doesn't make it legit. "Should have went" isn't legit. Using "lay" for "lie" and vice versa isn't legit, even though it's heard all the time.

Nancy 9:23 AM  

@kitshef (7:20) -- Turns out you didn't have to go all the way to Panama to intermingle with dangerous creepy-crawly creatures. You could simply have gone to the prom with @GILL's (8:53) URBAN LEGEND with the infested UPDO. Love that story, @GILL.

But @GILL, if I had to hang out in the Bloomingdale's shoe department with someone who stayed there all day trying on shoes, I'd slit my wrists. Even if she was my very own sister. Happily, I have a brother whose preferred activity was playing tennis.

The Other Jay (with his Americans) 9:25 AM  

How about that! Never had a clue why the words "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" were scattered throughout that otherwise coherent song. Like most phrases in songs we didn't understand as early teens, I probably thought it was code for some deliciously forbidden sex act that I couldn't quite envision. Who'd a thunk it. Thanks LMS.

Mo-T 9:30 AM  

Olly olly in come free!

Unfortunately, I don't think that applies to my DNF because of "mani" at 34D and my dopey lack of imagination to change it to pedi. Arrrrrgggghhhh.

Likes it lots, Ms. Weintraub. Thanks.

Gene Weingarten 9:32 AM  

Tragically, it falls to me to point out the obvious: "It wasn't my fault" is a lame clue for "Don't Be Mad."

Mike Rees 10:05 AM  

I utterly crushed my previous Friday best on this one. Burned through it like a lazy Tuesday.

Amelia 10:35 AM  

@unknown 9:32 I thought the exact same thing. Bothered me a tad and a half.

@Nancy. I didn't know the name of the reflex, but I accidentally got a photo of newborn Miriam doing it. Our doctor friend pointed it out. Also, English writer Linda Grant said about her young nephew that he loved going shopping with his mother and aunt and that he had the "shopping gene." You and I do not have that gene.

I liked the puzzle. It was nice. Perhaps a little too easy for a Friday but I'm getting used to that at the NY Times. I believe this is intentional. I'm guessing that they know people who want them more difficult have places to go. This way, they get more solvers to be very pleased.

I'll guess that Rex would have liked it (woman constructor) but felt it gave him no joy. For whatever reason.

On to New Yorker Friday.

Fred Romagnolo 10:41 AM  

MORO was a murdered Italian P.M.; a lot more people would know that; Also Moro Castle (Castillo) in Havana. Why wasn't BLT indicated as abbr. or "for short?"

JC66 10:57 AM  

Agree with @TJS (8:19)

READY OR NOT, here I come!

pabloinnh 11:03 AM  

Offline since Mon. PM (long story, and interacting with our provider beyond frustrating), but last night my younger son came for dinner and had us up and running in about ten minutes. I used to have a classroom full of students to do this stuff for me.

So anyway, I did my missing x-words all in a row last night. For what it's worth, I thought Tuesday was McSwell, Wednesday was improbably thorny, although I did learn CODONS, which looked to me like an ineffective means of birth control, and Thursday gave me a chance to trot out an old favorite, "stunt puzzle!". And I read through all of the comments and got my blog fix, so more or less back to normal.

Today was one of those oh-so-smooth efforts from RW that I really enjoyed. Maybe a skosh easy for a Friday would be my only quibble. Thanks for the speedy fun.

The last thing the person who was it said in my little town before going off to look for people was "Anyone hiding around my base is it!". And when the streetlights came on, it was time to go home.

Ethan Taliesin 11:11 AM  


Hated hated hated HATED IT!!!!!!!!

Just kidding, I thought is was dandy and breezy.

Where Rex at?

Fred Romagnolo 11:13 AM  

In the Mission District of San Francisco in the '30's, it was Oley, Oley, Olsen Free. @Moderate Democrat (from yesterday): You put your finger on it exactly.

What? 11:25 AM  

First a Wednesday like a Thursday, then Thursday like a Wednesday, now a Friday like a Tuesday. Very disconcerting. Order in the crossword room!

Malsdemare 11:26 AM  

I pretty much ripped through this but I didn't find it easy; that probably doesn't make sense. It simply means I completed it in blistering time but felt as though I had to fight for each answer. "Olly olly in come free" was our hide-n-seek line and while there weren't lots of us, playing what we calld "catchers" of a summer evening is a favorite childhood memory. Once the streetlights came on, we'd cheat a little on the ¿be home when...." rule and ring doorbells for a bit before trudging to house and bed. Good times.

About the diehard shoe shoppers: Temple Grandin discussed in one of her books something called the Seeking Mechanism (I think I've got that right; can't find the book nor resurrect the name of the U of Illinois scientists who proposed it). The name-forgotten scientist argued that predators are not propelled to hunt because of the joy of the kill but because the hunt itself released all sorts of happy-making endorphins. So for the shopaholics, it’s the shopping they love. Helps explain those lousy purchases you(I) make that turn out to be duds once you get home. It’s why I won't shop with one daughter, the one who is looking for a black skirt, tries on one, has the shop hold it, and proceeds to try on seven more, at seven different stores, has several put aside, and then returns to buy the first. Which then entails returning to the other shops and telling them to put the skirt back on the floor. Oh, or maybe not .. . . And tries it on again. Rinse and repeat.

Thanks, Robyn! It was fun.

David 11:26 AM  

With you except, of course for 6A. Ugh, two days in a row. I don't suppose there's only a single repository of crossword answers which can be bombed or destroyed with a computer virus, so I guess, since I can't beat 'em, I'll join 'em and suggest these as also "proper" abbreviations of tablespoon(s):


and whatever else you want/need to make your puzzle work. For plurals, add either "s", "i", or "ae" because why not? Ha!

Lena Horne. The lady and her music. Find a copy of "Lena on the Blue Side" and you'll learn just how alluring, sexy, and suggestive songs used to be.

jberg 11:32 AM  

Yeah, @unkown, I say DON'T BE MAD when it WAS my fault -- no one's going to be mad at me if it wasn't/ Other than that, I liked this puzzle, even if it wasn't very EELY. Speaking of which, that sounds like the Bishop of, or the US jumping-off place for the Quetico wilderness, or the landlocked Isle of the same name.

@Loren, if you saw it on TV, are you sure they weren't being temperately enthusiastic, but not enough for three cheers? Or maybe "to cheers" means to know everybody's name?

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

So excited that I was able to work through everything without looking anything up - on a Friday! That's probably a first for me. So, yes, I pretty much loved it. - jo

Zwhatever 11:40 AM  

@Fred Romagnolo - Maybe a lot more men. None of these are all that familiar to me, although I vaguely remember the murdered P.M.

@Unknown9:32 and @Amelia - You have to reimagine the scene a little. Your 13 year-old might say either “It wasn’t my fault” or DON’T BE MAD right before the excuse making begins. Both phrases actually mean “everything I’m about to say is going to be a lame excuse as I try to weasel out of accountability.” Another nearly equivalent phrase is “I swear to God,” although that is closer to “everything I’m about to say is a bald faced lie and I hope you don’t notice.”

RooMonster 11:43 AM  

Hey All !
I might have the "shopping GENE", as I do like roaming around malls,, but I have to suppress it due to lack of disposable income.

Turned out to be an easyish FriPuz. Started out typical, one or three answers after first pass through (I'm a Rex anomaly, as I do puzs by going through all the Acrosses in order, then all the Downs in order, then I go back to wherever I have entries and build from there), then answers started appearing. Got stuck for a sec at, of all things, the F of FAINT/FORD, couldn't get the ole brain to cotton to FORD as an alt. to FJORD. But, sussed it all out, even the manI-PEDI writeover, and finished 100% correct! ISNT that special? Har.

Since no @Lewis Alphadotter-ing, I'll report a low Double Letter count, 8 total, 5 Across, 3 Down.

MORO was new, and will not be remembered for the next time it appears, cause my memory is shot. Always wondered what the response to MERCI was, as it seems you never hear it, unlike De Nada as a response to Gracias. De rein. I'll forget that too.
TBSP again, Har. No scuffle about it yet, is it just the plural that people didn't like?
Gonna SET AT and EAT AT the picnic, with BRATs and BLTs. With all members of the FAMILY TREE picking BONEs with each other. EGAD.


jb129 12:10 PM  

Perky is better than grouchy, Klazzic. Maybe you should have slept later.

I love Robyn's puzzles, so you can't ruin my day.

Thanks Rachel for your write-up.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Responding to Z earlier in the week:his view that Lohengrin is a minor , little known Wagnerian opera is absurd. One of the most famous pieces of music of all time comes from it. hey Z, have you ever heard of the Wedding March? Probably played at a majority of ceremonies. Stick with what you know.

Nancy 12:24 PM  

@Amelia (10:35) -- I love the phrase "shopping gene." I think it probably does exist: I believe science will eventually identify a gene for absolutely everything. For preferring a bath to a shower (a gene from my mother). For eschewing sightseeing in museums and churches (a gene from my father). For enjoying crosswords (a gene from my mother). For enjoying the diagramless, on those rare occasions when I can finish it (a gene from my father).

As far as shopping is concerned: I'm reminded of Dorothy Parker's famous quote -- that happiness isn't writing, rather happiness is having written. I've never agreed with that sentiment: for me the process of writing is what brings the most pleasure. But when it comes to shopping, I'm completely on Dorothy's wavelength: I detest the process of shopping -- every single aspect of it. However, assuming I've actually found something I like at a price I can afford, I will wax rhapsodic over the fruits of my endeavor. But only once I'm done with the endless trying-on and the endless standing in line at the cashier and the schlepping it home on the crowded bus and I'm back in my apartment, probably having a drink. (Genes from both my mother and my father.)

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

"Does Macy's tell Gimbel's? "

Macy and Bloomingdale have been merged since 1949!!! Who knew?

Gimbel's, OTOH, is defunct.

Master Melvin 12:27 PM  

"No peeking!"

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

I hadn't really noticed the trend in easier Fridays, but looking back, it's been four weeks since there's been a Friday that I didn't finish faster (usually significantly faster) than my average. Maybe there's something to it. But it's still a small sample.

Anyway, this one continued the trend of being faster than normal. In fact, even though it was slower than Wednesday, I was also multitasking when I solved this. Had I been paying more attention and going for speed, I might have been the Wednesday time. Certainly the Wednesday puzzle this week felt harder.

Regardless, I liked it because it was clean. And it didn't feel too easy for a Friday, just easier than average. So I'm not complaining.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Congrats on the golden Friday, Solverinserbia. I remember when that happened to me. It only took a few weeks to go from my first to getting them regularly. Good luck!

chris b 12:57 PM  

As a medical person, MORO was an easy one for me but it's pretty obscure for most people. Also UVEA, but this is more common crosswordese.

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

@Rachel darlin: Smooth write-up for a smoooth FriPuz. Was worth a beer, to avoid an ESP-rant or TBSP-rant. (ESP = staff weeject pick -- admired how it was disguised, by its clue).
And, primo blog bullets; more, please -- there's maybe an extra beer in it for U. Cheers -- and yo, @muse darlin.

Flatout luved the sneaky GROUPPHOTO & FAMILYTREE clues. Gave up a few precious nano-seconds, in honor of each of them suckers. Also, suckered into splatzin in MARS instead of ARES, when firin up the whole rodeo, in that NW corner.

@kitshef: Good to see yer back! The runtz had been askin about U. Can sure see why you'd be a quart short on sleep, if U met up with 35 breeds of varmint in yer vacation sleepin arrangements. Catch a good nap and pleasanter dreams.

EELY. har

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Weintraub darlin. U do some serious great work.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Teedmn 1:12 PM  

Since when is a DOILY a dining adornment? Sure, there might be one on the dining room table under the epergne but it's going to be removed before we all sit down - no gravy spills allowed on the DOILY! Do you have any idea how long it takes to crochet one of those puppies? Me neither, but my sister-in-law is a pro. I consider DOILies to be used as antimacassars and that's about it, function-wise. (I just wanted to use the word "antimacassar" in a comment :-).

I had a couple of writeovers and I felt the SE held me up a bit with the ambiguous clues for FAINT (light) and FORD (cross) and the FAMILY TREE toughie but it was a very fast Friday, faster than both Wed. and Thurs. this week. Because of the SE, I felt it had some stickiness. I saw Robyn's name after I finished, had a moment to think, "Wow, she's toughened up her cluing since her ACPT final puzzles" before noticing I had a sub-12 minute solve and thinking, "Oops, guess not tougher". But her quality remains consistent. Nice job, Robyn.

Joe Dipinto 1:15 PM  

A too easy, but mostly fun, Friday. First time in I can't-remember-how-long that I started in the upper left with 1-across.

From Amazon's description of something called "The MORO Cookbook:

The word “Moro,” meaning “Moor” in Spanish, encapsulates a certain style of cooking that draws on the intense flavors of Spanish, North African, and eastern Mediterranean cuisines. A heady blend of warm spices and fiery sauces, slow–cooked earthy stews and delicate flavorings, these are simple dishes—it is the resulting flavors that are wonderfully complex.

Yum. I would EAT AT a Moro restaurant if one opened in NYC.

My favorite clue/answer by far was 41a, with its implication of something sinister afoot. Further ominousness: "The Missing CHUMs" was Hardy Boys Mystery #4. And clarinetist Mr. Acker BILK had a 1962 hit with "Stranger On The Shore", a title that always sounded CREEPy to me (apparently it was a British TV show).

What else? SIMON SAYS was a 1968 hit for The 1910 Fruitgum Company. Here's a different song:

I want you, I need you
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be mad
'Cause two out of three ain't bad

(Alright, I changed it, it's really "don't be sad").

Brian 1:36 PM  


GILL I. 1:47 PM  

Amigo @Fred Romagnolo 10:41. You couldn't use MORO as used here - the one in Havana is spelled Morro Castle. Speaking of....and Erik's hero, Che, that's where he made his headquarters during Fidel's successful takeover. You want some fun can get your fill of the incredible atrocities Che performed on the prisoners housed at Morro. It's now a tourist destination. To be fair, before it became a prison, it was fun to tour - beautiful scenes of Havana's gateway. need for wrist slashing. Those days are long gone for me. I'm now an in and out person then I look for a bar. We'd get along just fine..... :-)

Crimson Devil 2:09 PM  

Much enjoyed relatively easy Fri. Now that I’m feelin cocky, I’m sure to be clobbered tomorrow.
Only good thing ‘bout Bloomie’s (Sachs?) is that they had (in early 70s) chairs for bored spouses who were dragged into retail therapy experience. I certainly, and thankfully, missed that gene.

Karl Grouch 2:10 PM  

No, not really.
It's a reference to a blogger's name.

Karl Grouch 2:47 PM  

Fine puz, a real pleasure to do!

A bit on the easy side, just enough to boost one's solving ego on this summer solstice day.

Thanks for that, RW!

-MAYO is capitalised, but no hard feelings for the misdirection.

Suggestions for alternative clueing:
- Aldo MORO
- GENE Hackman
- OASIS, the pop band
- Sharon TATE
- CREEP, Great Radiohead song).

And something I forgot the other day: Goldman Sucks!

Dinopontino 3:00 PM  

EELY? Ooof.

albatross shell 4:21 PM  

CREEP is my favorite acronym from the days of NIXON and Watergate. Committee to RE-Elect the President. The go-to CREEP on my list. Winner of the honesty in acronyms award.

EELY is an edgy yet attractive word. I imagine having an eel in each hand. They are hard to hold, that is to grasp. Good clue. Good answer.

Monty Boy 4:39 PM  

Not as easy for me, but enjoyable. Getting my 4 letter eye parts held me up in NE. I always heard "Olly, Olly Oxen free" with Olly being All ye, and I don't know what for oxen. Probably my hearing going out at a young age.

DOILY reminded me of my mother's crocheting. We have three of her larger doilies framed and hanging on the wall. They draw a lot of comments from visitors. I'm glad to see the art is still happening.

For @LMS: Thanks for tip o' the hat for my name game with the wrestler MATT from yesterday. Other offerings:
Did you hear about the guy who was a great kidder?
How about the guy who cut himself shaving?
Or the guy who was wrapped in noisy paper?

Oh you mean:
Josh, Nick and Russle

An there are more.

Zwhatever 5:01 PM  

@anon12:47 - Or maybe you’re getting better at crosswords. This is where I miss @sanfranman59 and his difficulty ratings. But then the NYT improved its user interface and the ability to get everyone’s times disappeared. If times generally were getting faster on Fridays then we could say that the puzzles were getting easier.

@anon12:17 - That argument was rebutted. Try to keep up son.

Newboy 5:22 PM  

Late to the iPad after our Friday meals on wheels gig, but still a fun solve/blog. Both constructor and Rex Guest did quite nicely. Enough ambiguity to fool me at the bar where I was sure that sales of ALES led the way; but no it was generic BEER until I sobered enough to slip onto that SOAP. And I was pretty convinced that Monty’s kidder had to be PETER.....Banda Bing!

jae 5:36 PM  

Okay, yesterday’s was easy for a Thursday and today’s was easier than yesterday’s. The only place I got slightly hung up was rOoD before FORD for 42a. The rest was cake.

Thanks to everyone yesterday who chimed in on TBSP being an abbr. seen in crosswords but not cook books. Ina Garten would be proud.

Solid grid, reasonably smooth, with some nice long downs, but not a Fri. Liked it.

Bill L. 5:42 PM  

@Monty Boy 4:39: It was always "olly olly oxen free" here in upstate New York too. The phrase has its own Wikipedia page and lists a lot of the same variants others have noted. There was a 1978 movie starring Katharine Hepburn with the phrase as its title. Never heard of the movie until I Googled it just now. IMDb rating is 5.1/10.

Terrific puzzle!

Thanks for the write-up Ms. Fabi. I always think of that monkey too.

pabloinnh 7:27 PM  

Thought I remembered a Kingston Trio song about the end of the hide and seek game, and a little research shows that they called it "Ally Ally Oxen Free (1963). It was a song about forgiveness, just saying--game's over, time to come home, everything's OK. Written by Tom Drake (?) and one Rod McKuen (!). Nice song.

kitshef 7:33 PM  

@amyyanni - saw the canal, but did not spend a lot of time there.

@Z - sanfranman still posts his difficulty ratings at

OlyL 1:43 PM  

Hated EELY!!!!!!

spacecraft 10:20 AM  

I hafta say, the first clue I laid UVEAs on was 6a (because of the fraction), and I had an awful deja vu moment: Really? TBSP so soon AGAIN? So, first impression was...not the best. Still, it provided a starting point.

The solve felt uneven; so many vague clues. Product sold in bars: gold? beer? any four-letter candy? Could literally be Anything. It's the short stuff that gave me pause. SETAT is just plain horrible, much worse than the old EATAT which is bad enough. And speaking of "set," I don't think that "set" and "ASK" mean the same thing with price. If I set the price, that's it. You don't want it, go elsewhere. But if I ASK, there seems to be room for negotiation.

A big slowdown for me was my creaky aTtIc. Don't all attics creak? Man, I had that inked in as a gimme. Couldn't make anything work. Only when I got enough letters for SIMONSAYS was I forced to tear it out; then I was able to finish. So, make it medium for a Friday, took me most of an hour. DOD is the fabulous CHAKA Khan of Rufus. Remember Rufus? Par.

Burma Shave 10:21 AM  




Diana,LIW 2:37 PM  

Once I let the "cat" out of the TEA bag, the SE cleared up considerably. I thought it was my "hand" that was being dominant, but it was a GENE that made me do it!

I didn't have to CREEP ALONE BYANYMEANS. A fun, but as Rex said for a Friday, easyish.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 5:00 PM  

Well, I got my come-comeuppance today. A big fat DNF in several places, notably aTtic and afrO, among a couple others. I just couldn't get into any wheelhouse/rhythm. After a long string of successful solves, my head getting bigger, I get slapped down.

I'll just have to start a new streak, I HOPE.

leftcoast 7:29 PM  

Came down to the SE corner, and it was the sinkhole, with no "abbr." in clue for BLT and couldn't, and still don't, accept "light" for FAINT. DOILY was okay, but a remote, musty memory.

Leave it at that.

leftcoast 7:33 PM  

@Burma Shave -- Nice.

leftcoast 7:44 PM  

Oh, should've noted the entries I liked best:


And largely because I liked this puzzle a lot.

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