French protesters beginning in 2018 / FRI 9-13-19 / Teen drama set in SoCal / Artist who created chance collages / Substance whose primary use earned its discoverer 1948 Nobel Prize in Physiology but is now banned

Friday, September 13, 2019

Constructor: Anne and Daniel Larsen

Relative difficulty: Medium (6:06) (others seem to be finding it Easy, though, so who knows?)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: EREBUS (6D: Darkness personified) —
In Greek mythologyErebus /ˈɛrɪbəs/, also Erebos (Ancient GreekἜρεβοςÉrebos, "deep darkness, shadow" or "covered"), was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod's Theogony identifies him as one of the first five beings in existence, born of Chaos. (wikipedia)
• • •

I could tell from the shape of this grid that it would be disappointing. It would be very hard, even for seasoned constructors, to do anything very interesting with this grid—those 6x8 corners aren't gonna help you do anything good. The best you're gonna get is passable, and the worst ... well, I don't like to think about that. These corners end up being mostly passable, though BAD ART is dumb and THE POOR is creepy and patronizing—do people still speak that way? AGASP is awful and "THEOC" again?! But again, overall, things come out less bad than they could have. But that's the point. Why give yourself a grid that's pretty much bound to be Just OK at best. Why not give yourself more of an opportunity to unleash fresh, interesting fill. YELLOWVESTS is the only reason for this grid to exist (51A: French protesters beginning in 2018). Its symmetrical pal FRAPPUCCINO isn't bad either (23A: Hybrid Starbucks product). But there's literally nothing else interesting here. I guess you could argue that some of the clues are clever, but that can always be true. The Friday bar is high—you have so much leeway, you should really be able to make something breezy and contemporary and delightful. This was oddly stuck in the past (ON TAPE? GOOOOBERS?? AGASP!?) but mostly just dull.

Also, it just wasn't on my wavelength at all. All the names were clued in ways that were meaningless to me. This includes EREBUS, which ... I mean, I vaguely know, but it's not like he's a top tier figure in mythology. I know EREBUS mainly as a volcano. Now CEREBUS, that dude / those dudes I know. AMANDA, LOL my knowing Spock's mom. EMILIO someone. ANDRE someone. No clue. Is HER HONOR a title. People say "your honor," and judges are referred to as "the honorable so and so." I had no trouble there, but "title" feels odd. I resent the clue on BAY AREA, as I usually do, as the clue implies a specific place, but ... no. REFS is super bad as clued (just go with the football REFS). No one says "Chuckleheads" *or* GOOBERS, so blecch. Not sure what a trolley car has to do with a (single?) POLE (35D: Trolley car feature). Is it that you hold one while you ride? Is there just the one? It's such a weird clue. I think that DOT is the [Equivalent of "x"] in mathematical notation, i.e. both can signify multiplication. But again, yuck to that clue. Soooo many ways to go. Why be tedious and pedantic? I really should've gotten RANDALL much faster. That one stumped me for too long. Wrote in MOM before DAD (5D: #1 ___ (mug inscription)). Is a DAD mug more iconic? Anyway, this one's over. Mediocre Fridays are super depressing to me, because it's my favorite puzzle day of the week. The puzzle has been worse than usual of late. It's distressing. I can't all this bad, but it's really not as entertaining as the alleged best puzzle should be.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:23 AM  

Those dang Larsen kids, at it again! From Crossword Fiend:

"In 2014, Daniel Larsen made history as the youngest person to ever have a puzzle published in the NYT. He was 13 at the time. He’s 16 now and his older sister Anne is an undergrad at Harvard; this is her NYT debut. She’s not even the youngest published constructor in her own family."

From Anne herself (a sophomore at Harvard), in NYT:

"We wrote this when I was home from college over winter break, and I was looking forward to a French class about revolutions, which is what made me think of YELLOW VESTS.

Despite the stereotype of the over-caffeinated college student, FRAPPUCCINO was not from personal experience.

Our basic model for constructing was that Daniel operated his program while I suggested words and provided “constructive” criticism. I’m just glad it worked!"

Did it, though? Did it? You ruined Mr. Sharp's Friday. Life's too short to waste on not being perfect, kids. Pack it in. Pack. It. In.

puzzlehoarder 12:32 AM  

An average Friday. This means it was 10 minutes faster than Wednesday's solve. Unfortunately it doesn't count as I had a double dnf with BONN at 30D. Apparently I've never really understood what a gazette is or that it could be considered a reference. That's probably the worst of it.

I could say it has something to do with Friday the 13th but it just fits in with a pattern of mistakes of late. My mother-in-laws' dementia may be rubbing off on me.

okanaganer 12:50 AM  

A POLE is the most definitive feature of a trolley. For instance, there are "trolley buses" which are basically regular buses but electrically powered, with two poles to conduct the power from overhead wires. (Trolley cars on rails only have one pole because the rail can serve as the return conductor). I rode them for many years in Vancouver, and sometimes the poles would slip off the wire and the driver would have to get out and using another (non-conducting) stick, carefully finesse the poles back onto the wires. Once, a pole got jammed in a V intersection and broke off the bus, still connected to the live 600 volt wire, hanging down to windshield height in the middle of the street. They had to close down the street til they fixed it.

Anyway,... agree that BAD ART is... a bad answer. Kitsch can be quite rewarding and valid art. But disagree that the puzzle is "disappointing"; quite nice and open with lots of solid answers. I had an error at FRAPPUCCINO crossing EREBUS; I had an I there and couldn't find it until Across Lite showed me.

Mike in Mountain View 12:53 AM  

Pretty easy, other than the southwest corner, which put up a bit of resistance. Liked it much more than Rex did.

Ellen S 1:06 AM  

So sorry OFL didn’t enjoy this. What does he say, “I guess you could argue that some of the clues are clever, but that can always be true.” Yeah it *can* always be true but too often they aren’t. I would argue that the clues were clever and made the puzzle delightful. Thank you, Larsens.

Harryp 1:08 AM  

Nice little puzzle by the young people. Some fine words, and no bad fill that I can see. Congrats to Anne and Daniel Larsen.

Runs with Scissors 1:19 AM  

So, I had fun with this.

Granted, an ARCADE is not my first thought in association with Dismal Land, but there is one there.

I don't know from FRAPPUCCINO. When I order coffee at Starbucks they always ask "do you want room?" If the barista is CUTE I might make an off-color rejoinder, but mostly it's "If you put cream in it it's not coffee."

ANDRE this, YELLOW VESTS that, and EMILIO to boot. Whatevs.


P-38, a local COUGAR (mountain lion) was taken out by a moron with a shot to the head. Sometimes - no, often - I am justified in thinking that people suck.

Enjoyed this Friday puzzle on a PDT Thursday evening way more than OFL.

Last night I was rocking out with Elton John at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Extra great because 1) Elton, and 2) in Anaheim (5 miles from the house), and 3) not Los Angeles. And then 4) not Los Angeles. Tonight a decent puzzle. Week good.

Thus concludes my TIRADE.

jae 1:21 AM  

Mostly easy except for the SW where I held on to coNe before VENT for a tad too long.

Solid, smooth with some zip, liked it quite a bit more than Rex did.

I would argue that Jay Pritchett is Al Bundy twenty years later....”Married With Grandchildren”?

JOHN X 1:26 AM  

This was an OK Friday puzzle. The only problem was that it was too easy.

I could tell from the shape of the grid that it was a crossword puzzle and the shape of the grid doesn’t matter to me at all. I can solve any puzzle in any shape in any condition, even under threat of a miserable death. I’ve solved them drunk, I’ve solved them hallucinating on bath salts, I’ve solved them handcuffed in police cars, I’ve solved them off the backs of prostitutes, I’ve solved them in war zones, I’ve solved them while walking buck naked through a crowded Whole Foods market (as I did today), I’ve solved them while hiding under the bed after a husband came home a little too early, I’ve even solved them in church with the puzzle hidden in a hymnal while I sang heartily and mentally undressed certain female parishioners, but I always solved them and never blamed the f***ing puzzle. That’s the JOHN X way, grasshopper.

Hank 2:19 AM  

Well, it was super easy for me.

I did get hung up by spelling the beverage with an "A" where the "U" should be.

A lot of it seemed familiar (12 down, 38 down, 39 down) other answers just seemed immediate (8 down, plus 41, 47 and 56 across).

Seemed more like a mid-week puzzle.

chefwen 2:27 AM  

I rather liked it, of course any Friday of Saturday I can get through without cheating gets a thumbs up from me.

Had a few screw ups like Gun before GAT and misspelling FRAPPUCCINO set me back a spell. Forgot ED ONEILL until I had most of the letters in place, not I show that I watch. Loved Tony RANDALL, funny man.
Sports guy gave me COUGAR, if it’s not the Packers or The Badgers I don’t know them. Avatar is sporting a new Badger collar for the season.

On to Saturday.

ZenMonkey 2:59 AM  

Easy but very enjoyable.

Phil 4:38 AM  

had TNT for 47A DDT crossing what I thought was a pat-on-the-back answer, TIC for 47D equivalent to “x” as in tic tac toe. Ha now that I write it out I have to take back my pat on the back.

TLB0303 6:23 AM  

am I the only one who struggled with GAT?? What is that

Lewis 6:24 AM  

This puzzle by a youthful (16) constructor and his college-age idea-person sister had a refreshing feel -- young and innocent. It was CUTE, IMO, like those koalas and pandas. Soon enough, I'm guessing, sassy will follow. But young here does not mean unskilled, as is plain to see with this jank-lite well-connected grid. Credit Will for bringing constructors like Daniel along, and he will be interesting to watch. I'm reminded of the growth in maturity of David Steinberg's puzzles.

I loved that fork-in-the-road clue (a product of sibling ribaldry?) along with the hear-here-here one, not to mention DAD/PAD/BAD. Thank you, and keep 'em coming!

NotMe 6:34 AM  

Why didn’t it make her think of “gilets jaune” which has the same number of letters, and is the actual name of the protest? I dislike the French manner of making everything French (often, museums will translate the English titles of orbs into French, making it no longer actually the name of the work, while also insisting the opposite does not happen on works which are on loan), and this is the same thing in reverse. Can’t we just call them what they call themselves? Is that too hard? I guess it is.

olfuddud 6:54 AM  

Not thrilled with GOOBERS, but the rest of the puzzle enjoyable, e.g. interval, yellowvests, and prose.

FLAC 7:29 AM  

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Mark 7:30 AM  

Whenever one puts “the” in front of a group or type of people, it instantly removes oneself from the group and sounds demeaning. The Mexicans, the handicapped, the poor. Offensive.

kitshef 7:31 AM  

Nicely filled grid that could have used a little more oomph in the cluing. Too easy for a Friday, and such challenge as there was came from not knowing how to spell FRAPPUCCINO, and from some proper nouns (ANDRE, EMILIO, EREBUS).

Seems like nobody talks about THE POOR any more. It’s all middle-class this and middle-class that. As though the poor are doing just swimmingly, but the middle class are suffering mightily. I suspect this to be generally untrue.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

I think you mean you know CERBERUS, not CEREBUS, unless you're talking about a cartoon aardvark that I know of only from TV Tropes.

pabloinnh 7:46 AM  

Well I was going to say something snarky and clever about OFL's ability to look at a puzzle's shape and know it was going to be bad, but good old JOHN X took care of that one, for which great thanks.

Also, your rant was more fun than the puzzle, which was sorta fun.

Hand up for SW problems, otherwise a read the clue write the answer day, including EREBUS, which went in instantly, somehow.

Also thought a FANTAIL was part of an aircraft carrier, but today I learn it's a bird. Again, a poor day when you can't learn something.

Congrats to the Larsens, and tell Gary that I miss his cartoons.

QuasiMojo 7:53 AM  

This felt more like an early week puzzle with some ten-dollar words thrown in. But in the end, I liked it. The clue for Flat Tire was fun. Tony with an Emmy was a clever turn-of-phrase. And I liked the clue for Roll Call. Still I was done in less time than it took to do Wednesday's puzzle. So too easy for a Friday. But few UGH moments. PS I always thought Dame Judith Anderson played Spock's mother but it appears she was just a highly made-up, garishly lipsticked Vulcan high priestess.

Hungry Mother 8:17 AM  

I thought I knew my birds and I thought that FoxTAIL might be one, but DNF. Another one in the L column.

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

Enjoyed this. I filled in the entire right side very quickly. The SW went very slowly, and then the NW took forever. I was so sure that 19A was *song* of Solomon, but I finally (and reluctantly) took that out and it all came flooding in. Good workout for me!

Irene 8:27 AM  

Considering the age of the constructors it's amusing that Rex considers it to skew old. I loved it and, like many others, found it surprisingly easy for a Friday.

mmorgan 8:29 AM  

@JOHN X seems unusually restrained today.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

I 100% expect that if Mr. Sharp's offspring ever creates a crossword, he tells her what a sack of crap she is.

davidm 8:34 AM  

Wow, this was easy. I don’t time myself, but without doubt this was my fastest Friday solve ever. I had almost the entire north half of the puzzle filled in after two sips of coffee. My pen was flying so fast, I felt as if I were taking dictation. My only speed bump was remembering how to spell FRAPPUCCINO. The south was a little tougher, but not by much. The southeast was the last to fall, because I had written YAP instead of MAW. The fix made, the rest clicked in.

Though easy, little scintillated, as Rex said. Liked YELLOW VESTS, and the clever misdirection clues for FLAT TIRE and SET SHOTS. No one, anywhere, ever, says or writes AGASP. Yes, AGASP is a word (though my computer spell check flags it, lol), but consider: “I gasped at the fireworks display!” vs. “I was agasp at the fireworks display!” No one says the latter, because it sounds stilted, unidiomatic and pretentious, and people would look at you funny if you said it. However, I’ve learned that Times puzzles have a soft spot for these little-used words starting A, so I’m always on the lookout for them.

Rube 8:35 AM  

Once again right on John. Ahem, I indeed use goober and chucklehead in my conversations when warranted. If you and I had a chat about ms. Sheindlin would we refer to her as his honor or their honor? I usually solve mine writing with my right hand and eating with my left.

webwinger 8:37 AM  

Agree this was a tad too easy—solved in just under 16 minutes without consulting any REFS, just over PB time—but overall a fine puzzle.

Also want to say I was very positively impressed by last night’s Dem debate. Every one of the candidates would clearly be a major improvement over the current occupant of the White House. Just the right amounts of internal disagreement and Trump bashing. I particularly liked the closing comments prompted by a question about resiliency. Of all that I don’t like about the politics of today’s left, my biggest gripe is the relentless emphasis on vulnerability and victimhood. Great to see some focus on strength and determination.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Who is cerebus? I only know cerberus...

Nancy 8:45 AM  

Too easy, I thought, as I sped through the NW and NE. Too hard, I thought, as I struggled through the SW and SE with all the names I didn't know like ED O'NEILL and AMANDA and EMILIO.

The clues tended to be CUTE and sometimes too CUTE. FLAT TIRE (39D) and SET SHOTS (40D) were wonderfully clued. The clue for ROLL CALL (36D) was trying too hard and I found it really unfair.

For 42D, I was looking for a city and when I had BAYAR--, I just stared at it blankly. I felt such RELIEF when FANTAILS came in...which gave me ED O'NEILL...which gave me BAY AREA.

A VENT is part of a volcano??? Who knew?

A puzzle with some very nice moments, but I didn't love it the way I love so many Fridays.

Julie S 8:47 AM  

I thought "chuckleheads" was a great clue for "goobers" because a person who would use one term would use the other.

Sir Hillary 8:54 AM  

I thought this was fun. I appreciate @Rex holding the bar high, but sometimes I think he's unrealistic. Not everyone can be Peter Gordon. ACTOFGOD, ROIDRAGE, CUREALLS, YELLOWVESTS, THATSODD, FLATTIRE, THEPOOR, EDONEILL, TIRADE, ROLLCALL, HEXSIGNS, DWEEBS -- all lively entries in my book.

Early error: ACcident.

Great clues for FLATTIRE, NORTON, ROLLCALL and SETSHOTS. Of course, I initially thought the latter would be SExSHOpS, which is idiotic. Now that I know the constructors' ages, even more so. ICK!

Nothing EGGS A LAD on more than other lads, and back in the day my fraternity had a filthy joke involving the term HERHONOR. I'll leave it there.

Final thought on the final Across entry...I'm wondering if the Larsen siblings descend from the SWEDES in the clue.

Suzie Q 8:54 AM  

A bland puzzle and review saved by comments that made my morning.

I did like the fork in the road clue.

We haven't heard much lately about the Yellow Vests. I followed that news story with great interest. Where is @merican in Paris? It's been awhile.

Thank you @okanaganer for the pole explanation.

RooMonster 9:03 AM  

Hey All !
Friday the 13th! *Dun Dun Dun* Don't walk under any ladders today.

Tell me no one had peacockS first for FANTAILS? Gotta be somebody beside me. That royally messed me up in that for-some-reason-ridiculously-hard-for-me SW corner. Plus having coNe for VENT, and a lightly written in ore for EMO had me cursing the very existence of that corner. And that insanely odd clue for INTERVAL. Yowza. Finally saw LARVA, which got me VENT, then NORTON (sneakily clued, couldn't get the ole brain off a virus like Ebola), and let out a sigh of RELIEF to finish up. MAN OH MAN.

Two other writeovers, PricE-PEALE (har, the Vincent part threw me), EREmaS-EREBUS.

So fairly easy for a FriPuz (except that dad-blasted SW). Saw 5D clue, #1___, and left it blank to wait on a cross, as it was mom or DAD. Three F's, nice. Two THEs (3 columns apart) BAD ART. Har.

If you have to ASK... 😎


Anonymous 9:05 AM  

@Anon 8:34am Cerebus is a comic book character.

Dorothy Biggs 9:09 AM  

I think Rex's criticism of a puzzle written by a couple of kids (aw...they're so cute ::pinches their cheeks::) is really more about Will Shortz and the NYT puzzle in general. I do wonder about the NYT calling itself the "Best Puzzle™" though...where does it say that? Who says that? It's unique, sure, but it seems that claim is something you'd say in 1956.

If I were queen of the world I would ask WS to retire, I would stop thinking of the NYT puzzle as "The Best" of anything, and I would set out to find an editor who would continue the unique format of the puzzles throughout the week, but would refresh the puzzle editing and selection in general. It really is tired. Why is that so hard to admit? I love Mahler, but I'm sure after his 20th or 21st Symphony (if he'd been around long enough), I'd get tired of those too.

I know WS has some high-falutin' degree in Puzzle-ology or something like that that he made up himself (kudos to him), and I'm sure he's pretty good at all things puzzley by now, but even the best of the best become derivative of their own work after a while. It's time to move on, Will. THEOC really needs to be spaced out over a few months...years even.

As for the puzzle at hand, I had peacocks to start (who didn't?) and also took issue with Kitsch being "BADART." It's like "camp," I each his/her own...but in our post-modern world, if you like it, it's good.

George Mikan 9:19 AM  

Loved those set shots

GILL I. 9:27 AM  

Now wait a moment. Isn't a chucklehead a sorta stupid person and GOOBERS are sorta goofballs? And besides, the only GOOBERS I knew were those chocolate peanut candies you ate when you went to the movies....
Yeah, GAP and Google are certainly in the Bay Area. They've (at least Google) managed to ruin the most beautiful place in California. Thank you greed and rising prices and closing storefronts everywhere. Just ask THE POOR.
I do not recommend EGG SALAD for a picnic unless you keep it in your cooler. And...there is no such thing as BAD ART. Eye of the beholder and all that.
Oh...the puzzle. I enjoyed it - maybe because I zipped through it. Some I can zip through but don't particularly like but I liked this one. YELLOW VEST and FRAPPUCCINO were fun entries. Speaking of Starbucks (and don't we always)..daughter worked a while at one. She didn't last long. She was in charge of the latte DESK and her early morning clients were cops and construction workers. She said the cops never tipped but the constructioneers always did....not much... but at least they did!
Nice job you Larsen's.....I'll take seconds.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Hear hear Lewis.

Molasses 9:42 AM  

Congratulations to the young puzzle makers!

Can someone explain the SET SHOTS clue? I looked up the word so now I know what a set shot is (till I forget, of course), but I don't understand why it was written like a Jeopardy answer, question mark and all.

This must have been spectacularly easy for a Friday, since I solved it all by myself - no Googles - in just over 15 minutes. Bottom half was much harder than the top half.

kitshef 9:57 AM  

@Mark - your comment made me think of a conversation I had with someone whom I liked and believed to be a good person, who was talking about where she used to live how she liked the area until 'the blacks' moved in next door, and no one could get along with them.

Turned out, it was a (white) family whose surname was "Black" that moved in next door.

That said, I disagree with your point. When people say "the Swiss" it does not sound offensive, or "Olympians", or "the middle class". Or even "the Mexican people". The terms that have acquired an offensive connotation have done so due to frequent use by people who are using them in an offensive way.

Z 10:02 AM  

“I’m gonna say it like a man
and make you understand.

Ah, Power Ballads.

Huh, reading your comments have made me agree with Rex more than I initially did.
@pabloinnh - Not something I’d notice if I didn’t read Rex and follow several good constructors on Twitter, but that grid design impacts quality is hardly even debatable. The cluing helps (more than Rex gives it credit for) but there is very little that is fresh or new. This is directly related to the limits placed on word length in this grid. I actually thought Rex was being too harsh, but looking at these answers now, Rex is basically spot on. It’s not impossible to make a grid with fresh answers with this shape, but open space gives the constructor more freedom to have original entries.

Doesn’t skew old? GAT, Tony RANDALL, GOOBERS, Al Bundy, DDT, ANDRÉ Michelin, Star Trek (the original series), Norman Vincent PEALE, Edward VII, THE OC, ARP, ON TAPE, SET SHOTS, EMILIO Pucci. The one 21st century answer in that list went off the air 12 years ago. I’d say the cultural center of this puzzle is roughly 1967. Yes, the puzzle skews old. GAL Gadot is the new go to cluing to make a puzzle seem more current than it overwhelming is. Some of this is unavoidable, but a Modern Family clue and a Brockmire clue would have moved the median a little more towards, you know, this century.

I liked this more than Rex, but had the same embarrassed laugh at knowing that AMANDA was Spock’s mother and Sarek’s wife.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

LOL. You really should have some understanding of the mechanical world. The trolley pole has nothing whatsoever to do with a rider holding onto it.
It's thge device that transfers the power from the overhead wire to the vehicle. It's literally indispensable to the trolley. Trains use them too. Trolley pole is just one of a few commonly used to describe the piece. Sometimes it's called a pantograph, or a bow collector.


In Philly the system was 600 volts (DC) too. Is that a standard?

Nice puzzle. Very enjoyable. Thank you.

oldbizmark 10:10 AM  

Stupid easy. Felt like a Tuesday. Some bad fill but overall smooth. Just wish it has some teeth.

Glenn Patton 10:11 AM  

Muzzleloader @ 12:32 The abbreviation "gaz." is for "gazeteer," not " gazette*. A gazette is a geographical dictionary.

Glenn Patton 10:15 AM  

That's Puzzlehoarder, not Muzzleloader! Stupid spellchecker!

David 10:28 AM  

Well I was going to point out that yes, despite the age of the constructors, it skews "old," but Z did that wonderfully. I'll point out that nodes are something we old dweebs talked about and created back in the day so the kids today can use our creation to make fun of how we don't know anything about it.

As for the Bay Area, that's a real geographic indicator used by people and companies. In the old days folks from Alameda, Oakland, etc might just say they were from "San Francisco" to stop questions, "the Bay Area" is better. Perhaps folks from Dorchester, JP, Brookline, Cambridge, and the dozen or so other towns clustered around Boston who just say "Boston" should start saying "the Massachusetts Bay Area?" Speaking of that area, the T had trolleys which needed 2 poles and often one would pop off while going around a sharp curve; instead of wood, they had ropes attached to them the driver could pull on to guide them back.

I don't do Starbucks but I got the drink just off the F as I hear it referred to often in a snarky way. I did spell it with an A instead of a U, but that got caught later.

The puzzle was too easy for me to be a Friday and relief, interval, and larva pretty much gave me the SW; I didn't find any quarter particularly difficult. I liked it fine for a Wednesday.

BobL 10:38 AM  

I tried roosters, not peacocks

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Anyone else think of Jay from Modern Family as Al Bundy? I needed almost all the crosses for Ed Oneill

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

GOOBERS and DWEEBS in one puzzle?

PeterPnin 10:57 AM  

In Response to "Not Me" and YELLOWVESTS, I, too, thought first of french GILETS JAUNES, but the "S" at the end knocked that out.

Anoa Bob 11:00 AM  

Some nice touches in this one, although a bit on the easy side. One reason for the latter might be all those three (13 of them) and four (too lazy to count them) letter entries.

Another reason might be number of squares where an S fills in automatically. (I'm giving the side eye to the two-POCs-for-one-S at the ends of DRYER/GOOBER, LULL/FANTAIL and SETSHOT/SWEDE.

Drop in all the 3s, 4s and auto Ss, and a sizeable portion of the grid is filled.

Thought 8D "Symbols meant to ward off evil" would be AMULETS. HEXSIGNS seem more likely to bring on rather than to ward off evil, no? Learned something there.

Spock's mother (45D)? With Tony RANDALL, ANDRE Michelin and Edward VII in the neighborhood, why not go with AMANDA Blake, who played Miss Kitty on the classic TV series "Gunsmoke". Wiki calls her the "proprietress" of the Long Branch Saloon. Saying Miss Kitty is a "madam" might call HER HONOR into question.

To all the DWEEBS out there like me who pick nits with the puzzle, I would tell the youthful constructors to just say "We have a puzzle in today's New York Times and you don't." Nuff said.

Ethan Taliesin 11:06 AM  

Very uneven for me. I was on my way to a near record-breaking Friday and then hit the SW corner (though part of my snag was having carelessly typed EKES for EKED, thus screwing up Tony Randall's name).

Anyway, SPOCK is a last name and AMANDA is a first name. That is just inconsistent cluing that I'm surprised it slipped through.


Newboy 11:06 AM  

@Sir HILARY, I share your assessment as well as the pain with the ACcident in the NW. I also enjoyed the double letters throughout the grid—almost a mini theme? And I aspire to expand my puzzle experiences beyond easy chair & coffee cup though I doubt that I can ever approach the range of @John X, but I admire your commitment to the ART— BAD or not 😈. Damn clever those kid constructors: EXPERTLY done in my EBOOK.

RooMonster 11:29 AM  

Har, that's the mistake I should've made!

But my plumage ain't the greatest.


JOHN X’s drinking buddy BILL W 11:30 AM  

A trolley POLE is different from the more mechanically complex “pantograph”; the latter is used on higher speed trains. Both transmit electrical power to the train or bus from overhead catenary wires.

jberg 11:31 AM  

DNF -- I'm not familiar with the FRAPPUCINO, and thought "hybrid" meant it was going to be some kind of pun; and I had no idea that there was such a thing as ROID RAGE (though now that I do I think it was as good an answer as YELLOW VESTS.)

@TLB0303 -- don't think anyone answered you. GAT was what gangsters called guns in, say the 1920s. I think it's derived from Gatling gun, an early version of the machine gun that had multiple barrels that rotated in front of the chamber. So it was a kind of synecdoche (@Loren will tell us if I'm wrong) to use it for a handgun.

And -- I didn't get this until I came here -- 40D has a ? because it's a pun on "still." In a SET SHOT you are standing still on the floor.

As for SWEDES -- well, as a Norwegian-American, I gotta say that there were probably more of us than there were of them, if only because life was so much harsher in Norway. In any case, "upper Midwest" would be closer than "U.> frontier;" not too many Scandinavians went to Kentucky. Good enough for crosswords, though, I guess.

jberg 11:32 AM  

Oh, I almost forgot those GOOBERS.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Nancy (8:45) inquired about volcanic vents. Some 30 years ago I was in Naples and decided for some reason to go up Mt. Vesuvius. One took a bus for a while and then I think a funiculare or something right to the rim, and then, in groups, one descended for a bit into the mouth of the volcano with a guide. By chance my group happened to be a bunch of middle-aged Germans, there obviously to have a good time. They were all laughing among themselves, etc., and our Italian guide, speaking German, was jovial as well. (Those wanting a higher level of culture would instead be in Pompeii, or at the National Museum of Naples.) After descending for a while into the then inactive Vesuvius we were told to sit on various rocks while he would say something about the mountain, past eruptions, etc. The guide took care to lead a rather heavy-set German woman in a billowy dress to a particular rock as her post. After we were comfortably settled he went up to her, reached under her dress, moved a small rock, and then suddenly a huge mass of smoky gas emerged under her. Everyone started laughing like maniacs. After we left I guess he restored the rock for the next tour, so the gas could build up again in the vent.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

there are way, way too many GOOBERS who've voting privilege.

if OFL watched the TeeVee a bit more, he'd seen 'A Street Car Named Desire' on TCM and would know that trolley street cars, of old, had that single pole up to the wire. Which regularly came undone. 'Charlie of the MTA' rode one too; until 1985 on the whole system. a look at the wiki reveals that they're still in use on one spur line.

puzzlehoarder 12:01 PM  

@Glenn Patton, thank you for the correction on gazeteer. Interestingly (to me) my Webster's has an annotation (I put in) from 5/2/12 for the word gazeteer. It's from a Paula Gamache Wednesday puzzle. It turns out this was and remains the only appearance of GAZETEER in the Shortz era. Her clue for it was "Atlas go-with."

The next time I'm in a bookstore I'll have to look for one of these. It's quite a hole in my general knowledge and further proof of my wife's assessment that "I live under a rock and do crossword puzzles."

Muzzleloader isn't bad but I'm sticking with puzzlehoarder.

Masked and Anonymous 12:05 PM  

I assume the puz's seed entries were "interesting" to the young constructioneers. So, they and @RP can sorta agree to disagree, I reckon.

I find it odd that a 6x8 [6 dot 8] themeless puz corner would be such a bad idea. It's sorta different, maybe -- but different is good, if U thereby get some more non-typical answers, right?

staff weeject pick: AOK. In a central puzgrid position of honor, today. Show of respect for the runty. Nice touch.

Fillins seemed pretty smoooth, as was the solvequest at our house. Didn't think the answers skewed off to anywhere in particular; just a good mix. Not sure what the seed entries were, but kinda assume the two 11-longballs were it.

GOOBERS are also southern-style peanuts, I think. Mighta clued it up thataway -- but it's not GOOBER's first rodeo, clued the "chucklehead" way. Clued "dimwit" and "doofus" in two 2019 puzs, f'rinstance.

Thanx, all U Larsens. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

yo … theme fans go here, today:

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

BAY AREA is, at least, lots more honest than 'Boston', since anyone living inside 128 is likely to say that to anyone from outside Taxachusetts. There's about 3 dozen towns.

Joe Dipinto 12:09 PM  

Now I want to go downstairs and place a dinner fork in the middle of the street and then sit on my stoop and wait for a car to run over it.

This puzzle didn't do much for me. I'm already sick of THE OC, no more please. @Quasi -- as I recall it was Jane Wyatt who played Spock's mother.

A Friday the 13th clue or two would have been nice. Just around the edges. I wouldn't want an actual theme to spoil Rex's Friday.

♪ Now, one two three, they don't bother me
And neither do four five six and seven
But I can't reveal the way that I feel
When I hear the number that's two plus eleven ♪

-- "Triskaidekaphobia", Bobby Troup

nyc_lo 12:14 PM  

I need to bask for a moment in any puzzle that I can finish in less than 1.5 Rexes. My fastest Friday ever, despite confidently writing in “nitwits” instead of GOOBERS, and “Shaloub” instead of RANDALL. Which not only was a misspelling of “Shalhoub,” but an obvious error once Spock’s mom showed up. But he is a Tony with several Emmys. And a Tony with a Tony. Let’s hope he makes it to an EGOT.

Joseph M 12:20 PM  

So Rex knew he didn’t like this puzzle even before he started solving it. That is some grade-A supersonic negativity. However, I would like to outdo him by declaring now that I dislike NEXT Friday’s puzzle even more.

old timer 12:21 PM  

I have lived in the BAY AREA for most of my life. In San Francisco itself for several years. So I was very familiar with that essential part of a streetcar, a POLE, also called a trolley. And San Francisco invested millions of dollars a couple of decades ago to refurbish and extend its fleet of trolley buses. And to replace most of its streetcars with LRVs, which get their power from a pantograph that connects to the overhead wire -- not, therefore a POLE. Fortunately, San Francisco kept its original set of streetcars, which run down Market St and then up to Fisherman's Wharf. Very popular with the tourists.

We have often shared orders for new LRVs with Boston, which is indeed in a BAY AREA. Their Green Line cars used to have POLEs, and cars that looked like the ones in San Francisco. I have heard of other BAY AREAs, but in general, it refers to the communities that are on San Francisco or San Pablo Bay.

I thought the puzzle was way too easy or a Friday, until I reached the SW. There I recorded a DNF, as I had to look on Wikipedia for EDONEILL. And I only got AMANDA on crosses. A fake AMANDA. The real AMANDA is the light of my life, and fate should have made her a gentleman's wife. So sang the late, great Jim Ringer, for whom we crossed the BAY every time he had a gig in Berkeley. (A McDill wrote the song, and Waylon had a hit with it, but the Jim Ringer version is the one you should listen to.)

Hack mechanic 12:22 PM  

Had the double T, went with gluttony

Master Melvin 12:53 PM  

@George Mikan (9:19): Glad you showed up, George, but I don't think I ever saw you shoot a SET SHOT. Most of your shots were hook shots within about 3 feet of the basket, with the elbow opposite your shooting hand firmly planted in the face or solar plexus of the defender. Unstoppable!

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

@old timer:
We have often shared orders for new LRVs with Boston, which is indeed in a BAY AREA. Their Green Line cars used to have POLEs, and cars that looked like the ones in San Francisco.

they not only looked alike, but were built to a standard called PCC. this is a list of cities that had them.

the first replacement LRV that SF and Boston bought from Boeing/Vertol ended up being all lemons.

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Turns out that "panaceas" is not a CURE-ALL for 3D. Too bad I splatzed it in before looking for crosses. GAL Godot had me crossing that out almost right away. Oops.

Favorite clue is for 39D, FLAT TIRE. I love the idea that someone left a fork in the road. "And that has made all the difference".

Easy puzzle once I cleaned up my NW mess. None of the names held me up so A-OK.

Does anyone serve just EGG SALAD, without it being in a sandwich? Seems like it needs the bread to keep it from being too rich.

Nice Friday, AL and DL.

okanaganer 1:27 PM  

@Anonymous 10:04 am...
I think 600 volts is pretty standard for trolley buses. In my travels I only recall seeing them in Seattle and San Francisco. Street cars on rails are much more common but I think use similar voltage... a search mentions 600 or 750.

Masked and Anonymous 2:23 PM  

Coupla 4 extra things…

1. BAD ART! BAD! … U just go sit over in the corner there with BAD FAT, while the rest of us eat EGGSALAD straight outta the group bowl.

2. This FriPuz had 5 *debut* words: BADART. FRAPPUCCINO. THATSODD. THEPOOR. YELLOWVESTS. Sooo … constructioneers were sure tryin to be innovative.

3. Congratz to Anne Larsen, on her NYTPuz debut.

4. Happy Friday the 13th, all U comment gallery folks. U 2, @RP. Best wishes.


QuasiMojo 2:56 PM  

@Joe DiPinto -- ah yes. I should have known. As for the date today, a Betsy Palmer clue would have been icing on the cake. :)

kitshef 3:17 PM  

@Ethan Taliesin - I could be wrong, but I think Spock is neither a first name nor a last name, but a full name - like Socrates and Euripides from our own planet.

albatross shell 4:30 PM  

GOOBER apparently was derived from the Bantu language via southern black culture. It's use meaning "A foolish person" is quite recent originating from the Andy Griffith Show's character Goober Pyle whose cousin Gomer became more famous. I have heard it used as an insulting term for southern Whites of a certain type, but apparently it is not a common usage.

And yes Rex, #1 DAD is far more iconic. Not even close. But I♡MOM would be a different story.

Are YELLOWVESTS anti-immigrant?

Once I got SET I was expecting SETapick or SETspick or SETpicks, cause we all know a moving pick is a foul, and they are attempts by the team to score. Pretty tough basketball clue for non-fans.

Like Z, I laughed about the Spock's mom clue. Unlike Z, it was because I did not know the answer. One of my two name lookups I needed to solve. Both in the SW. Even then, BAYAREA and PROSE took a while to puzzle out. FLATTIRE went in immediately cause it was too funny not to, not cause I was sure it was right.

BADART is an accurate blunt and funny answer all at the same time. Kitsch is velvet Elvises and garish Jean Shepherd leglamps. Can they have appeal? Yes, and so can bad movies. The people who used the term kitsch were ironic and mocking and culture-commenting. You could make a case that lowART would be a better answer, maybe. That is also a snub, slightly disguised.

A before U. Don't do Starbucks much.
Yes peacocks here.

The out man Odd makes a return.
Who is Koontz's clairvoyant cook?

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

One thing I have found with inexperienced constructors is their cluing is inconsistent. Some clues are really easy and some are super hard. I felt that while solving this puzzle. When I read that the constructors are kids, it made perfect sense.

Anonymous 7:05 PM  

Finicky, finicky--or perhaps ironic?

Space Is Deep 7:47 PM  

Fun puzzle. Really enjoyed it. Very easy except for the SW, where I got stuck for a while. Don't understand Rex's vitriol.

Runs with Scissors 9:22 PM  

YELLOW VESTS are THE POOR. They can't afford jackets.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  


davidm 9:50 AM  

I expected Rex to be ticked by VIRTUE SIGNALING, and I see his point, but it didn’t bother me, and I’m as liberal as he is. First, it’s a fairly new coinage, which makes it fun to see in a puzzle, and second, it can, and should, be spun against right-wing virtue signaling, too. What would that be? Well, DOG WHISTLING, for one (clue: subtle appeals to racism) which could have been included on the left side of the puzzle to balance VIRTUE SIGNALING, although that would have broken the nice symmetry of three down clues, left, middle, and right, that ran all the way down the grid.

I also appreciated VIRTUE SIGNALING because it is what finally got me out of the blocks in this puzzle after a very slow start, the opposite of yesterday’s blowout. I guessed it after only about four crossing letters, mainly since I had CRAVAT, and that jump-started me on the right side of the puzzle. Weirdly, halfway through, I had the whole right half of the puzzle solved, and almost nothing on the left. Solving continued that way, painstakingly right to left, like slowly pulling a drape from right to left across a window. I ended in the southwest by changing SCARF to SNARF, hence getting NUBILE.

Great clues for the ordinary word MEASURE, and especially for PIZZA DELIVERIES, which until nearly the bitter end my brain insisted must have something to do with golf.

Burma Shave 10:14 AM  


you may ASK me why THAT’SODD;


rondo 10:44 AM  

THATSODD, OFL was disappointed in a puzzle. Shoulda NODE. As for me, my ICK was at first just yuK and the volcanic VENT a coNe. After fixing those everything was AOK. Wondered where *that* fork in the road came from.

Anyone eat EGGSALAD ‘da solo’? In a sandwich is AOK. Or make potato SALAD.

Wonder Woman’s quite a GAL, yeah baby.

This SWEDE’S opinion is OK puz. No TIRADE here.

spacecraft 12:16 PM  

Easyish, on a Friday scale. I was amused by SETSHOT; this chestnut must have been out of service for most of my life. You try one today, you're gonna eat the ball. Ah, but when I was a kid I was deadly from the corner. If only I could jump...

HERHONOR Lola Cartwright, played by Simone Missick, is today's damsel. And I predict: "All Rise" will become a multi-season hit.

The fill is not super-great--we deal with OGLED, AGASP and EKED right out of the gate--but not a deal breaker either. Congrats to the youngsters; I want to encourage them to keep at it. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

O.K., I admit it. This was a difficult one for me, with absolutely no clue on eight different answers. Not even on the ship less being in my wheelhouse. Oh, well...

Diana, LIW 2:53 PM  

Completely sank in the NW - ZomBiS did me in. EREBUS?? unknown

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoast 6:47 PM  

EREBUS (Hi, @Diana) was the problem; guessed EREBaS with its crossing FRAPPaCCINO. Otherwise found this a relatively easy Friday.

Some good long ones In the NW: ACTOFGOD, ROIDRAGE. In the SW, I can count on NORTON.

In the SE, I'd stay away from EGGSALAD on a hot summer day. And SETSHOTS are a thing of the past in the NBA if not on the asphalt playground.

Surprised DDT discoverer was a Nobel Prize winner. What a mistake that was.

Have checked in on Judge Judy occasionally, and have been entertained by her wit and amazed by her incredible earnings on daytime TV.

That's about it.

rainforest 6:54 PM  

Solid Friday with some great answers and many excellent clues. Kept my interest throughout, even not knowing ED O'NEILL or EMILIO.

Don't like the F coffee hybrid. Stick to drip or the occasional latte.

A natural disaster is an ACTOFGOD, legally? THAT'S ODD.

strayling 7:47 PM  

The Official Bad Art Museum of Art in Seattle is indeed full of kitsch.

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