Cause of typos, humorously / FRI 7-5-19 / Deposits in some banks / Synthetic fiber, for short / Activity for which you need a fair amount of wiggle room

Friday, July 5, 2019

Constructor: Freddie Cheng

Relative difficulty: Medium (7:38)

THEME: Freestyle / Themeless (70 words)

Word of the Day: ASE'S ("__ Death," movement from "Peer Gynt") — Peer Gynt, Op. 23, is the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's 1867 play of the same name, written by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1875. It premiered along with the play on 24 February 1876 in Christiania (now Oslo).[1]
Grieg later created two suites from his Peer Gynt music. Some of the music from these suites have received coverage in popular culture; see Grieg's music in popular culture. (Wikipedia)

"The Death of Ase" (Åses død), also transliterated "The Death of Aase" and "Aase's Death," is the final movement from Act III of Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg. The highly-recognizable "In the Hall of the Mountain King" (Act II) and "Morning Mood" (Act IV) also originate from this work.

• • •
Hello fellow puzzlers! My name is Jonathan, and it is my pleasure to be filling in for Rex today. I am a math Ph.D. student at Tulane University, and I also enjoy solving and constructing crosswords (though no NYT publication yet!). I chose to fill in on a Friday because it is usually my favorite day of the week for NYT crosswords -- the constructor has the opportunity to maximize liveliness and clever cluing.

Today I tried going through somewhat quickly, and got caught up by some easy mistakes: LIKE I CARE for AS IF I CARE (16A: "Doesn't concern me"), FIGHT for ARGUE (54A: Contend), and the one that tripped me up the most, TINGE for TINCT (50A: Touch of color). That last one made the SW the last part of the grid to fall for me.

(26A; Also my face when I have ?IEES for 41-Down)

Each of the grid's corners has a 3x9 stack, where the showcase entries are -- each stack has lively and lovely fill, with my favorite being the SE (PHARMA REP, AUDIOTAPE, SLEEPOVER) and no especially weak long entries. I usually see FAT FINGER in the plural (or the adjective, fat-fingered), but it was nice to fill it in off of the "F." FREECYCLES (9D: Gives away to a better home, in modern coinage) was new to me, but highly inferrable.

(44A: Little mischief-makers)

The shorter entries groan a bit under the load, a little more than I would expect them to. Some of the less-common crosswordese examples include ASE'S (the word of the day!), TALI (50D: Anklebones), AEROS (19A: Former Houston hockey team) (its friend AERIES makes an appearance, too!), and DELED (39A: Struck out) in the past tense, which hasn't been seen in the NYT since 2007. I could see a potential Natick in the crossing of ASE'S and ERTE (37A: Big name in Deco design) if you didn't recall the artist's name.

  • DAY TRADER — (32D: One who gives a lot of orders) This is a nice clue; at first I was thinking line cook.
  • FRAT — (9A: Rush home?)  Clever misdirection; it even sounds like it's looking for a verb.
  • ARTY — (38A: Hipsteresque, in a way) "Hipsteresque" is such a hipsteresque word.
  • RETROCOOL — (10D: Back in again)  Also new to me, but completely inferrable. Google results for "retrocool" mostly refer to Retrocool Energy Services, Inc., a cooling-related energy conversation company based in (...wait for it...) Natick, MA!
Overall, the stacks were solid, which is important, but the rest was a bit shakier than I would have liked. It averages out to a normal and pleasant Friday.

Thanks to all the loyal readers of Rex's blog for staying tuned today, and thanks to Rex for letting me fill in! It was a blast.

Signed, Jonathan O'Rourke, Visitor of CrossWorld

[Follow Jonathan on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:43 AM  

Very easy with some fine long downs. Liked it.

Nice write-up Jonathan, you nailed it.

puzzlehoarder 12:44 AM  

More of a Saturday time as opposed to a Friday. Maybe I was just being slow but at least for me the week's doldrums were over. I didn't know GUAR or ASES. Those two speed bumps and a few strategically placed write overs conspired to make me puzzle for awhile. Mostly this was in the west half. The east half was standard Friday fare.


Enemy of Food 12:52 AM  

Crossing ASES and ERTE... Really? I've never heard of either one.

Larry Gilstrap 1:49 AM  

Well, we had a happy holiday. Got invited to the staff party of one of our favorite restaurants. My kinda Fourth. Didn't want to insult the host by declining a shot of some special tequila.

I got home early enough to tackle this terrific Friday puzzle. This thing disdained three-letter fill, and SYN is clued this cleverly? Nothing dull about those four stacks either. LAME shows up in the grid with hardly a wince from the EXCUSE crowd. Why I do the puzzle daily: Exhibit A.

I'm an ACROPHOBE,to a degree. Flying to JFK, I could hang my head out the window like a spaniel, but that view from the room at the Midtown Hilton on 30th floor took a bit of acclimatization. I've hiked to the top of some Sierra peaks and the summit celebration featured my crab walking. Aging doesn't help.

Gimmes are weirdly individual, but for me LOESS? Loam only has four letters.

Anonymous 4:06 AM  

Can anyone explain SYN?

Anonymous 5:17 AM  

anonymous 4:06 - the word ‘illustration’ is a synonym (SYN) for the word ‘example’

Lewis 6:10 AM  

The cluing was such that I kept RETRYing answers in my head before placing them in the grid, making for a stutter-step solve -- and that, IMO, is terrific cluing. As a result, this made for a very satisfying solve. My favorite clue was that for SYN, and my favorite answers were APERY, TINCT, SCRAP IRON, and FAT FINGER, a tribute to the wide and wonderful eclectic range of answers today.

Lewis 6:11 AM  

In other news, a BAD COP, PSYCHO, PHARMA REP, ASIAN, LISPER, DWEEB, DAY TRADER, ACROPHOBE, and some PIXIES went into a bar. As I understand it, some NORI, a HULA, TOYS, a BRA and a SLEEPOVER became involved...

MartianSalad 7:12 AM  

Great summary. The profits and loss columns of this puzzle about evened out when we consider the truly wonderful longer fill and a couple clever aha moments that was bought with some very ugly short stuff.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Took a long time to get started – BADCOP at 22A was my entry, and never really got the hang of the cluing. It felt like Will mostly stayed out of the way on the cluing, letting the constructor’s work stand. I really appreciated that, as it made the puzzle unpredictable.

I notice every one of Rex's fill-ins have 'Follow me on Twitter' links. I don't think I know anyone who has a Twitter account to follow.

pabloinnh 7:28 AM  

Took a while to get going as I usually start in the NW and no toehold there. I mean, GUAR? Really? After that it felt like a puzzle in each quadrant with all the stacks. Four-in-one? That's fun.

Liked all the long answers, more or LOESS.

Nice Friday and a nice write up. Thanks and well done to both of you guys.

RavTom 7:45 AM  

You’ve got to love a puzzle that has both ARTY and ERTE.

Nancy 8:02 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle a lot -- with the large exception of the dreadfully clued RETRY (17A) and the smaller exception of the unfortunately-clued unword UNSHY (2D). The hardest section for me was the NE, where the brilliantly clued FRAT (9A), the unknown to me FREECYCLES, the unknown to me AEROS and the aforementioned RETRY gave me some trouble. But RETROCOOL was cool; the PSYCHO clue (26A) was a provocative bit of trivia that I didn't know; and ACROPHOBE is like my middle name -- except that it's not really accurate. (All will be explained in my next post, which co-stars @Aketi...)

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

Nice puzzle, enjoyed it a lot. Major hang up was having LappS for 24A (LETTS) for a while, but Daffy Duck cleared that up. I often don’t care for idiom-heavy puzzles (THATS A LIE, AS IF I CARE) but this one was fun. The things I didn’t know (GAUR, GOATS, ASES, TALI) came easily from crosses.

@Lewis — ha!

Nancy 8:29 AM  

More on ACROPHOBE, co-starring @Aketi.

I had a lovely afternoon in the park with @Aketi yesterday -- after dragging that good-natured, "sure, wherever you'd like to sit" woman hither and yon around the Great Lawn, trying to find an un-muddy spot in the grass that was also completely in the shade, relatively away from other people, and with the breeze in our faces. Not so very easy. Once we settled in, though, one of the things we discussed was the fact that we are such different sorts of ACROPHOBEs.

Hers is the usual kind. The very definition of ACROPHOBE. High places. Period. Doesn't want to be high up anywhere, even if it's impossible to fall. You can put a solid, high barrier right up to her chin between her and the Grand Canyon and she won't go anywhere near it. Me -- if I can't fall, then I can't fall. No worries. I can stand at a barrier up to my chin and look down 9,000 feet for hours. Doesn't bother me in the least.

But put a narrow balance beam one inch off the ground and ask me to walk across it and it is absolutely out of the question. I can't. I won't. Nor can I get on a fast-moving down escalator that plunges abruptly into the abyss. I'm a nervous wreck on wretchedly-paved downslopes with tiny little pebbles and twigs to slip on. And ice???? Fuhgeddaboudit! So while I've been called an ACROPHOBE, my fear really isn't of heights at all. It's a fear of falling and a lack of confidence in maintaining my balance on anything that isn't terra firma. @Aketi, on the other hand, rides a bike and told me that she can also climb trees. Now how can she be an ACROPHOBE and do that?? It makes no sense to me at all.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Since when is SILT pluralized?

Dr. Haber 8:37 AM  

Had pinch for tinct. Fat thumbs (texting). Aping for apery. Acme for apex. Also how do we know the first toilet flush was in Psycho? Who keeps track of stuff like that?

Mike Herlihy 8:41 AM  

Liked the puzzle a lot, except perhaps for UNSHY.

Liked the write-up a lot, too, without exception. Nice job!

Joe Dipinto 9:06 AM  

I was going to say to Jonathan, "Trust me, everyone here knows ERTE," but then I saw @Enemy of Food's post.

Pretty easy for me. 26a was first to go in. Other early entries were ASIAN, ÅSE'S, ERTE, SCRAP IRON, and that whole bottom left corner. I have a recording of the "Peer Gynt Suite" so I can listen to Åse die whenever I want to.

"Asificare" looks like an Italian infinitive. Asificare def. ~ to slough off as inconsequential or uninteresting.

Thanks for the write-up, Jonathan. Don't tell Rex, but we like the guest bloggers better than we like him.

She was a day trader
One way ticket, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

QuasiMojo 9:07 AM  

I had the opposite reaction to the poster above. I saw ERTE and I thought, Oh no, him again!!!!? He really must be the most overused name ever in crosswordland, although maybe ONO now has surpassed him. I saw a funny clue for Ono the other day: "John Lennon's legally changed middle name," or something to that effect. Now that really is true love!

Today's puzzle did not thrill me. Maybe I'm too blasé these days. Although I did like learning that my interest in eating Mars bars has a name.

I fell for that anonymous gotcha gag yesterday. Good one R&M. Happy Cinco de Julio.

@Nancy, I sent you a cute little poem yesterday in case you missed it. Not mine, but apt.

pmdm 9:13 AM  

Dr. Haber: No movie code existed back in the 1920s. What you watched in movie houses could be racy (think early Betty Boop) and could include fairly rough treatment of women (watch some of the claasic silent comedies). The prudes were not happy, forcing the Era of the Hayes Code. Gone were the days when married couples slept in the same bed. Videos shown on both the big screen and the little screen were forced to capitulated to the wide ranging prohibitions of the Code. So when someone like Hitchcock decided to show a flushing toilet in a movie, everyone knew that the Hayes code never approved a similar scene in another movie. It's not that people kept track of stuff like that. It's just that so many things were strictly forbidden by the Code. When if some surprising scene got through the censors (such as W. C. Fields kicking a child), it was a big thing. [Topically speaking, the Code was the reason the pronunciation of Aritie Johnson's Tyrone Horneigh character was not pronounced "horny."]

I guess I should comment on the puzzle. I would rate it as adequate although some of the entries rankled me. This my unintentionally sounding like damning with faint praise. The puzzle is much better than to deserve that fate.

Rube 9:21 AM  

Too easy again. When will we ever get a real challenge on friday or Saturday?. And this puzzle is loaded with hipster doofus phrases instead if requiring actual knowledge or wordplay skills.

FREECYCLES? better off with "result of getting a Citibikes gift card"

ONSALENOW? I'd go with "Red Sox fan's next step if team goes off Price"


RickA 9:30 AM  

Am I imagining that "Rush home" was used previously as a clue for AMRADIO, and that Rex was not happy with the clue for obvious (PC) reasons?

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Thanks for filling in. Nice work.

SW corner tripped me up. The long downs paved the way throughout.

Sydney 9:51 AM  

I liked it. No minor actors in minor roles in minor films. No obscure rappers. Nothing I had to google, as sometimes happens (to me) on Friday or Saturday. Just a very pleasant solving experience... thank you.

OffTheGrid 9:53 AM  

@Joe. I like both Rex and guest write ups. The latter tend to be "feel goody", while the former are more critical (in a good way) and educational.

Hungry Mother 9:58 AM  

Worthy battle this morning. I ddin’t get to the puzzle until after a 5K recovery run on Colonial Parkway. No soreness after yesterday’s sweatfest 5 miler in Yorktown. I enjoyed the long answers.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

@Quasi (9:07) -- I saw it. And I remember those ads in the subways from back in the day, too: "If u cn rd th..." They were from the Speedwriting Schools, which taught typing and shorthand. I unfortunately went to one of them over a summer vacation from college. My mother had insisted on it. It was the early to mid Sixties and that's how women fresh out of college got entry-level jobs back then. Or so my mother thought.

It's the only school I ever failed. I think I failed the Speedwriting test by no more than four words a minute. But the typing test -- ah, that was much worse. You needed a minimum of 60 wpm. (Or was it 80, I forget.) Didn't matter, I wasn't close to either one. They subtracted the number of typos from your total words per minute and thus I ended up with the Grand Total of 29 wpm!!!! It was time to return to college. There was no chance to practice more and retake the test. Fortunately my mother proved to be wrong. I obtained my entry level job at New American Library (paperback publisher) because I was given a crack at writing some blurb copy as a test instead of typing for speed. But I must say they were the only prospective employers that didn't require a typing test. I took one at a leading magazine and failed it miserably. Needless to say I was not hired -- even though a friend of my father had gotten me a personal interview with the publisher. "We can't hire you," said the charming and soft-spoken publisher, clasping the typing test in his elegant hand. "It wouldn't be fair to you and it wouldn't be fair to us." I still remember his words. Wrong, Herbert Mayes, wrong!!!!! You were just looking for the wrong skill set -- the one that I didn't have.

Carola 10:06 AM  

Nicely challenging at the beginning, the grid keeping me at bay until a hesitant PSA was confirmed by LISPER, and then it was LETTS go (sorry).
GUAR: in trying a gluten-free diet, I became familiar with the ins and outs of GUAR and xanthan gums; but despite the likely cross with GOATS I couldn't confirm the other Downs so went looking for a more secure entry point.
Nice cross of IN A LATHER and RELAX.
One do-over: RETROChic. Liked learning "areology." Random source of delight: that besides PIXIES there are also nixies.

amyyanni 10:15 AM  

Enthusiastic thumbs up here. Hard time getting in; my past life as a public defender made me sure of BADCOP, pshew. Then rolled along at a Friday speed. Also appreciated your write-up, Jonathan. Come back soon!

xyz 10:16 AM  

Variations e.g. RETROCOOL not CHIC with a couple of its crosses came hardest to me. Fridays used to give me a lot of trouble, but I'm now finding them more fun and often faster and more clear than Thursdays - Thursday's gimmicks get in the way. Sundays have just become a paininthebutt, not the place nor time.

I'll never be a speed solver, a fast 15x15 M Tu W is ~50% under 10 minutes for me, this 48 minute Friday is so-so for me, so bravo for 7-8 mins for this one, Jonathan. I'm sure most of you can give a R's A over my ramblings, but we're all coming here from different places.

TALI for ankle bones feels like an Orthopaedic victory lap after all these years, Talus is ankle, Tarsus is foot. Not that I've ever whinghed about that ...

Nampa 10:27 AM  

Yeah, pretty much what Rube said...
Very easy for a Friday.

Joaquin 10:28 AM  

Like many solvers, I always begin with 1A and work from there. But I can GUARantee that most of us had to start somewhere else today. And 1D wasn't much help as I really want my cashmere goods to be sourced from something more attractive than goats. A rough start but a nice Friday challenge.

Stanley Hudson 10:33 AM  

An intelligent write-up for a skillfully constructed puzzle. Thanks to Jonathan and Freddie Chang.

QuasiMojo 10:35 AM  

@Nancy, I liked James Merrill's point that shortcuts, even in speedwriting, are a sucker's trap. As for your hilarious anecdote, I guess Mr. Mayes knew more about pointless exercises than good journalism. He lost out. I looked him up. Apparently he wrote a completely fictitious biography of Horatio Alger. That's a name we don't see very often anymore in the puzzle.

And thanks Jonathan for a splendid write-up.

Birchbark 10:39 AM  

Too bad "autocorrect" has ten letters. It causes far more typos than a FAT FINGER and has a special knack for double-entendres.

Thank you, @Jonathan O'Rourke, for posting the Grieg "Death of A[a]SE." It reminds me a little of the Samuel Barber Adagio that gets a fair amount of airplay ("The Deer Hunter", etc.). I wonder whether there's an arrangement for string quartet.

The triple stack in the Northwest is a consumer's private dilemma: ON SALE NOW -- AS IF I CARE -- THAT'S A LIE.

@HungryMother (9:58) -- Wish I could say the same about my quads after yesterday's two-miler, my first in a year. About a mile and-half into it, I drew encouragement from a nearby grandmother telling her 8-year-old running partner "pretty soon it's going to be downhill." She was right.

jberg 10:42 AM  

If it weren't for the lyric,

Lithuanians and Letts do it..

I'd still be floundering, so thank you Cole Porter. But that got me back up into the NW, which I'd had to skip on the way down, and away I went. The whole thing was an enjoyable struggle.

Joe Dipinto 10:56 AM  

@pabloinnh -- your "more or LOESS" me laugh because it reminded me of a guy I once worked with who would insert that expression into the middle of sentences for no reason:

"I was eating breakfast, more or less, and then I realized I had to get my shirt out of the closet, cause it was time to more or less get dressed and come to work."

It drove everyone bonkers.

@OffTheGrid -- 35a, it was a joke.

Lexus Salesman 11:05 AM  

Speaking of typos, maybe I'm not fully awake yet, but isn't there a typo in the 26A clue? "First American film in which a toilet IN heard being flushed (1960)."

Runs with Scissors 11:08 AM  

Fun tussle-puz. Had to work at it and the cluing was admirably misdirectionistic.

Looked sideways at the crossing of GUAR and UNSHY, and again when I saw the "Ha ha you thought you were done" message. Took forever to find the typo at LISPEk/ASFAk.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Frog Prince Kisser 11:23 AM  

@ kitshef 7:23 AM - According to Freddie Cheng on Wordplay: “Only a few of my clues made it through . . .”

Enjoyed puzzle and write-up! Thanks guys!

Z 11:24 AM  

Hand up for TINge before TINCT being my final correction. Hand up for loving the longer answers but wondering about the short fill.

An ACROPHOBE has an unreasonable fear of heights. Most of us have a reasonable fear of heights. What’s the term for someone who lacks a reasonable fear of heights? You know, the guys (it always seems to be the testosterone enriched) with the GoPro doing stupid things? And how long before selfie death gets into a puzzle?

I really wanted something like Toronto or Canada for “Rush home?”

@anon8:30 - Ever since some constructor needed a convenient S. See also ASE’S Death vis à vis Death of ASE.

ASES crossing ERTE - One of those instant fill-ins that impresses crossword novitiates while us long time solvers recognize that it is just really easy ese.

@Dr. Haber - I see @pmdm beat me to it. It’s hard to believe today that the sound of a toilet flushing was considered too scandalous to have in a film. I’ve mentioned Sex and the Constitution before. It really is a fairly easy and well documented read that does a nice job of explaining so much about our society.

@Hungary Mother - I was surprised you only did a 5 mile race instead of the much longer 8K race. The notion a 5K “recovery run”....

@kitshef - I have three+ Twitter accounts you can follow, the local Ultimate club account, an ultimate tournament account, the account I use for the USAU section I coordinate, and my personal account with lots of ultimate stuff, sci fi stuff, crossword stuff, and political stuff.

Erik T. 11:24 AM  

This puzzle was weak across the board.

Z 11:26 AM  

@Lexus salesman - the paper has “... in which...”

Fred Romagnolo 11:30 AM  

Tinge before TINCT, and why didn't dustmop fit? Does anybody say POLY for synthetic fiber? Someone mentioned nIXIES; aren't they a sexier form of PIXIES? Is LOESS "good" earth, isn't it a cause for woe in the Yangtse Valley? I too, wanted some form of talk radio for Rush home. Weren't TV stations required to do PSA's at one time? Surely SLEEPOVER would have been banned in the days of the Hayes Code. Nobody noticed HIDE and cashmere GOATS in the same puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 11:30 AM  

"made me laugh..." that should've said.

jb129 11:33 AM  

Loved "Psycho"

Look how far we've come since 1960 (or not).....

Joseph M 11:54 AM  

Most enjoyable puzzle except for the presence of UNSHY. Has anyone ever actually said that? “She used to be very quiet, but now she’s UNSHY.” Feels like the G fell off, as in “She used to hang out at the shooting range, but now she’s GUNSHY.”

Otherwise BRAVO to the puzzle and Jonathan’s writeup. Lots of great entries in the grid (FREECYCLES, LAME EXCUSE, THAT'S A LIE,etc.) and clever cluing. My favorite clue was the one for PSYCHO and I especially liked @pmdm’s explanation at 9:13am of the Hayes code.

Too bad Rex isn’t here to rise angrily to the defense of LISPERS and those with a FAT FINGER.

Lexus Salesman 12:06 PM  

Yes, but it also has, "...IN heard..."

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Followed by "a toilet in heard"

old timer 12:08 PM  

Ah, Jonathan. If you were running for President rather than your possible cousin, I'd probably vote for you. Excellent job (and a Rexish time, too). I don't time myself on a Friday and hope the solve is a bit difficult, which it was for me. Partly because PSYCHO did not leap to my mind. When it finally did, a perfect AHA moment.

Good clue for DAYTRADER I thought. Of course the Beatles song is "Day Tripper". I lived in England in the first half of 1966, and got the reference immediately. British Rail used to offer "Cheap Day Return" tickets, once a week on the suburban lines, on by 9 or 10, had to board the return train by 4. Residents of the fictional St Mary Mead would take them to go into town for a spot of shopping, or in Miss Marple's case perhaps to examine a Will at Somerset House. Also offered every weekday on the longer routes, such as Grantham to King's Cross, and you could return on any train. So a Day Tripper could be a girl who felt the need to go home from a date before things got interesting.

I agree about ERTE. Anyone who does the puzzle daily knows the word and looks for it. I did think some of the answers like UNSHY and ARTY were a little lame.

Lexus Salesman 12:21 PM  


Anonymous 12:41 PM  

A toilet flushing wasnt considered scandalous, it was deemed unedifying. Lots of things in the Hayes code were so considered. Frankly, Im not sure what a commode or the snd effect of a flush does for a picture.
Mostly its used for the most juvenile laugh.

Newboy 12:55 PM  

Yep, Jae is right “Nice write-up Jonathan, you nailed it.” Just not in my wheelhouse, so I struggled even knowing ERTE & ASE (thrown by the possessive perhaps) (or the summer head cold) or some other LAME EXCUSE!

Stenot 1:07 PM  

@Nancy, I too failed speed writing in my miserable attempt to become a secretary at the West Virginia Career College in 1974. Dropping out didn't stop me from seeking a life of glamour as a secretary with a law firm in downtown Pittsburgh. But eventually the senior partner explained that I was not good at the job and recommended I go to college. I took his advice and things worked out beautifully. A liberal arts degree got me a job as a business development director for law firms, where I've had my own secretary and always known full well they are smarter than I.

The incredible Erte had a wave of popularity around that same time so that was a gimme.

RooMonster 1:08 PM  

Hey All !
One-letter DNF. Guess where? That's right, ASiS/iRTE. And should have known ERTE, as y'all have pointed out, well-known crosswordese. So a stupidity on my part. (Is that a new form of speech to use stupidity that way? Adjective? Adverb? Not up on my linguisticnesses. :-))

This was a nice puz, I'm more of a themed puz kind of guy, so themelesses to me are just there. Not that that's a bad thing. Or a BADCOP.


Anonymous 1:19 PM  

Retrocool in Natick! Love that. Thanks. Not sure that OFL would have found that !

Geezer 1:21 PM  

@Anon 12:41

I agree wholeheartedly. Worse, scenes with people on the toilet. These depictions add NOTHING to the story. Almost as bad, men at a urinal. I'm not offended or a prude, though it is gross. No one wants to see that.

Ditto on birth scenes. These are always so contrived and phony and UNNECESSARY.

pabloinnh 1:34 PM  

Hey Roo-

Once we had an exchange student from the Czech Republic at our elementary school. He may have had a passing acquaintance with baseball but had never played it, so of course we introduced him to the game. He decided he wanted to try catching, so we got him all decked out in catcher's gear, and I asked him, how do you feel, Josef? And he said, "I feel like a stupid.". So that's always been my favorite noun form, but I like "a stupidity" also.

Masked and Anonymous 1:36 PM  

maskeDnAnonymous. Close. Oh, no, wait .. that was some other gig.

Today's theme was extra hard to pick up on. I reckon maybe it was "gummin up the NW", or somesuch. Lost precious nanoseconds duelin with GUAR/UNSHY/Poindexter/SYN clue. That lead-off GUAR was a real gummy bear.

Rest of the puz was reasonably smooth sleddin. But … far better ASES clue would definitely be: {Parts of gases in oases??}.

staff weeject pick: SYN. Great clue. yeppers ... Illustration is a SYNonym for "example".
Only a wee selection of 4 weejects today, btw.

Tons of great longball fillins, faves of which were: FREECYCLES. RETROCOOL. FATFINGER. SLEEPOVER.
Nice scattered tinct of Ow de Sperations, with: TALI. UNSHY (it's flatout beggin for a startin G). PHARMAREP. SILTS.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Cheng. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Molasses 1:43 PM  

Who are you brilliant people who thought this was easy? Holy cow. So many places to get stuck. I was absolutely certain that RETROchic was the word, and spent way too much time looking for something to make CHO_, LIB_, and _EPE_ work. Finally got it right when I got OPED and moved into the SW corner, which utterly defeated me. I had couch surf instead of sleepover and absolutely nothing else until HULA came to me in a flash of inspiration and let me out.

OTOH I'm pretty sure the 2 hours & 59 minutes the website says it took me is inaccurate. I started early, then left for my workout and came back to it. Looking for a silver lining. Just think how much faster than my average all my future Fridays will be.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Shouldn't LETTS have been clued as what neighbors of Estonians refer to themselves at? Isn't the English word for them Latvians?

I seem to be alone on this but I find many of these longish phrases to just be dull, like green paint. ASIFICARE and THATSALIE being the ones that peeve me the most; ONSALENOW maybe not as bad.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

I put in UNSHY and I didn't recognize it as a word because I was putting the stress on the first syllable: "UN-shee." But all the crosses seemed right so I let it stand. (Unyoung is also a word, but I hope to never see it in a puzzle.)

Z 1:59 PM  

@Lexus Salesman - You’re right. I checked my online version and the second “in” has been corrected to “is.”

@Anonymous and @Geezer - Huh?!? What could the significance of that first flush be? Why does the movie begin with a “peeping tom” shot into a bedroom? Why does Hitchcock replicate the voyeuristic opening shot with Norman Bate’s voyeurism? It’s almost as if there is some sort of artistic use of symbolism going on, maybe commentary on repressive social mores causing more harm and violence than good, that we can almost see. Nah, probably just a scary movie.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

I'll concede you are infinitelyy more familar with onanism than I.
But reread my post and you'll note that i made no claim about its use in Psycho. Rather my claim was corrective. Your postclaimed scandal as tne resason for the Hays code prohibition. That contentio was, and remains,erroneous.

KevCo 3:29 PM  

I know Rex has coined "Natick" for the crossing of obscure clues and uses "crosswordese" for terms like SAHL, ERTE, ERIQ, YSER, etc., but do we have a term for words that regularly appear in the crossword, but don't exist in the real world? Looking at you, ARTY, and your friend ABE (as slang for a $5, which no one has ever used anywhere). APERY is fair enough, but its brother APING seems like a crossword contrivance. Then there's the host of words where the constructor just puts "A-" in front of a normal word, "ALOP" being the nadir of that trick, and slightly less terrible: putting "UN" in front of words in front of which no one ever puts "UN," like, I don't know...UNSHY, which no one ever says, because the word "outgoing" exists. Anyway, a more enterprising mind than mine should figure out what to call those words. I'd suggest cruci-fiction, but, well, that seems like it could ruffle some feathers.

I thought this was a good puzzle. I usually don't mind crosswordese, but I hate it when it comes right out of the gate. GUAR was the very last thing I filled in. Also had RETRO CHIC, which I think is much more common, for a while before I caught my mistake. Otherwise, very good puzzle.

Bourbon Street 4:00 PM  

UNSHY should be tossed down that flushing toilet never to be seen again.

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

Maybe UNSHY should just be called "particularly bad crosswordese."

SAHL, ERTE, and YSER have real historical existence; their only crime is to be used so often because they form such nice combinations of letters for the puzzle creator to drop in. Yes, they are crosswordese because of the frequency of their use, but they are legitimate proper names. And ABE is fine as long as the cluing is decent.

But UNSHY has no excuse for ever existing.

Speedweeder 5:29 PM  

@Fred 11:30 - Tennis players say "poly" for synthetic strings.

Anonymous 7:15 PM  

@Z It's Bates's. Or, if you prefer (shudder) Bates'.
But on no account Bate's.
I see a kindred spirit has beat me to beating you like the proverbial red headed stepchild, but be assured, there are plenty of anon fans.

J. Russell

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

Clean ink except tali / loess cross

Monty Boy 8:08 PM  

Anonymous 12:41

A toilet flushing wasn't considered scandalous, it was deemed unedifying.

Most toilets I observe create an eddy and therefore are eddy-fying.

Barb C 10:28 PM  

Long-time reader, first-time commenter--

RETROCHIC is far more common and threw me off to the end. I know a STUD didn't go in a LIBE (unless some hunky guy is hanging out at the campus library to pick up smart dates) but had never heard RETROCOOL.

Something I've been thinking for a long time and will finally say--

I would like all crossword composers to cease their use of phrases that make use of disability references in the negative, like LAME EXCUSE in this one. It perpetuates the "less than" stereotypes and biases. They don't use other derogatory words that used to be in everyday use so how about this final frontier of inclusion?

Joe Dipinto 11:42 PM  

@Monty Boy -- Nicely played!

Runs with Scissors 12:49 AM  

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on here in So Cal. Keep the folks in Ridgecrest in your good karma thoughts.

Lincoln Hawk 8:04 AM  

You have the wrong Houston Aeros logo in your post. The logo you put is for the current AHL (minor league) team. The clue says "former Houston hockey team" which would be the Houston Aeros who played in the WHA (defunct rival to the NHL) from 1972-1978.

DeFarge 10:00 AM  

Miserable fail. But learning about Pablo Casals was worth it.

Burma Shave 9:14 AM  


POLY is UNSHY, on a SLEEPOVER she’d rather


rondo 10:00 AM  

Hand up for RETROChic before it was COOL. Also NOtI before NORI. Otherwise not that tough. REPEL RETRY RECAST RELAX are an odd group.

Estonians’ neighbors are friendly; LETTS all try to get along.

ASFAR AS proper nouns, not much, so . . . nuthin’.

Nice Friday warm-up for the WSJ Contest puz. BRAVO.

spacecraft 11:55 AM  

Wow, our guest blogger didn't even mention GUAR. I know cashmere is GOAT hair; still I could get nowhere in that accursed NW. Instant gimme was PSYCHO. Did you know, when it first came out, theaters actually refused to admit audiences during the last ten minutes of the movie? I believe that may be the only time that was ever done (though a play, "Ten Little Indians" by Agatha Christie, did not admit anyone after the start).

So, the NE, after correcting the WAY more common RETROChic to COOL, fell first. The center flummoxed me for a RAFT of time; I could not for the life of me figure out what the cry at a surprise birthday party might be. Even after getting DAYTRADER I had _IDE and had to run the alphabet! The only thing I could even make the faintest sense of was "HIDE!" as in, "Quick, she's coming!" But oh brother, what a clue! I mean, that teeters on the very edge of unfairness.

Another hand up for TINge, but once that second writeover was done the SW went next. It helped that I knew TALI. Also areology, which kick-started the SE (Ares, of course, is the Greek version of MARS).

The cleverness of the SYN clue (fair but perfectly vicious), the awkwardness of UNSHY (really??) and the total "Wha???" of GUAR kept me guessing in the NW, but I finally fought through it. Now I can RELAX.

No DOD this time, unless I can count the Janet Leigh cameo provided by Jonathan. Medium-challenging with a RAFT of triumph points. No serious fill gripes beyond UNSHY; BRAVO! Birdie.

Wooody2004 2:09 PM  

Rex might have played Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads as today's featured video.

My "ese" today was LOESS. That helped me with 50D's Random Plural Bone.

Learned from Crossword: GUAR. Weren't they an 80s heavy metal group?

Learned from Blog: Selfie Death. Shouldn't it be called Selfiecide?

A long time ago, in a cruciworld far, far away, "Asta" was clued as "Puzzler's favorite dog?" "Erte" can almost be clued as "Puzzler's favorite artist?"


rainforest 3:16 PM  

Swell puzzle. GUAR, which I learned from reading ingredients lists for ice cream was my first entry; then came BAD COP; then I scooted more or less unhindered through the grid. So, pretty easy for me today, but still quite a lot of fun with the lively stacks up and down.

Diana, LIW 3:28 PM  

Do you ever have the feeling that your answer can't possibly be right, or it most likely isn't right, but you put it in and find a cross or two. Then three. And then you begin to wonder if there is an alternate crossword universe where there is a second set of answers to your puzzle?

I often do that, and today was a prime example for me.

I love it when that happens - bit by unlikely bit the answers appear. And then, with GAUR, you're done! Swell!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords - Happy Friday

Diana, LIW 3:33 PM  

Anyone remember the toilet flushing on All in the Family? Aaacheee!

Diana, Lady

leftcoast 6:24 PM  

Medium Friday with a RAFT of great long downs and acrosses and a minimum of crosswordese. Hard to beat that for quality.

@Diana, with you on the "G" in the NW corner (1A,D) a guess that came almost out of nowhere. GOATS were ringing a far distant bell, but the GUAR was silent.

And who can forget PSYCHO's Bates Motel bathroom scene and noises? Neither you NOR I, I would guess.

Loved the puzzle. First RATE work by Freddie Cheng.

wcutler 7:52 PM  

Wow, you folks are not food label readers. GUAR gum is in a RAFT of foods. You have to fussy if you want ice cream that doesn't contain it. Still, it took me a while to think of it. But I finished the puzzle, SW around to NW. I think I got everything right, maybe only the first or second time.

leftcoast 8:27 PM  

@wcutler -- Wow?

wcutler 2:46 AM  

@leftcoast 8:27 PM, I was just so surprised to see so many people commenting that they had not heard of GUAR. I don't remember what label I read it on this past week.

Anonymous 2:55 AM  

All, please explain stud/lobe. I do not get it. (Hey, autocorrect tried to make me post stud/love!That I do get.)

Rex Parker 8:20 AM  

a stud (as opposed to a hoop) is a thing that goes in the lobe of your ear, i.e. an earring


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