Yiddish language author Sholem / FRI 11-1-19 / Marine mollusk exoskeleton vendor in tongue twister

Friday, November 1, 2019

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy (untimed, but felt very whoosh-y)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Sholem ASCH (30D: Yiddish language author Sholem) —
Sholem Asch (Yiddishשלום אַש‎, PolishSzalom Asz; 1 November 1880 – 10 July 1957), also written Shalom Ash, was a Polish-Jewish novelist, dramatist, and essayist in the Yiddish languagewho settled in the United States. (wikipedia)
• • •

I wrote earlier this week about how seeing Zhouqin Burnikel's name on a puzzle when I open it fills (!) me with eager anticipation, and I realized when I opened today's puzzle that Robyn Weintraub's name does the same. She has developed into one of my very favorite themeless constructors. Her puzzles are breezy, bright, clean confections. Just delightful. You can give her Friday any time, as far as I'm concerned. I suppose I could complain that this was too easy—I got LIESL and then every Down cross off of LIESL straight away, and most of the rest of the puzzle wasn't much harder—but that seems petty. Also, when a themeless is good, whipping through it can be kind of exhilarating (it's the easy but pedestrian ones that are truly a drag). I did this one LICKETY SPLIT and the answer that first made me go "woo hoo!" was LICKETY SPLIT, so the quickness felt like it was part of the overall sunny solving experience. There were precisely two things about the grid that I would change if I could. First, the word ASLOPE, which as far as I'm concerned can take a trip up a slope in the ALPS and stay there (fun fact: I first thought the [Range for 1-Across] (i.e. LIESL) was not ALPS but ALTO). Also, the clue on LEE was awful, in that ... who and what? Are the *voice* actors of "The Incredibles" well known, and since when? So many LEEs in the world—so so so so so so many—that this clue seems gratuitously marginal. Weird. I think the fact that it's a voice actor made it worse for me. I mean, it's one thing to expect me to know that Beyoncé voiced NALA, and quite another to expect me to know that Jason LEE voiced ... ugh, what character? I've seen the movie!! (it's the character of Syndrome, apparently) (P.S. I actually know who Jason LEE is—by sight, at any rate—he was the star of a TV show called "My Name is Earl" that ran for four seasons back in the '00s). Anyway, ASLOPE and the LEE clue are the only parts of this puzzle that bugged me. The rest, mwah!

First place that slowed me down at all was SOULS (15D: Preacher's charge)—super tough clue, esp. considering the plural answer and the non-plural-looking clue. SOULS crossing TELE (22A: Cast opener) gave me very minor trouble. Also figured a [Leasing unit] would be a building unit and not a unit of time (MONTH). Once I got the answer to 29A: Headwear almost never worn outdoors (SHOWER CAP), I laughed out loud at the "almost." Like, when *do* you wear your SHOWER CAP outside? When you are performing some kind of SLAPSTICK? (29D: Monty Python genre). I did not know that the sides in chess are called ARMIES (40A: Sides in chess, symbolically). I mean, looking at them, yes, they seem prepared for battle, it's just that that specific word I've not heard much in relation to the game. I think of them as .... sides. I guess that's why the clue says "symbolically" and not "in common parlance" or the like. So slight delay there. But today all delays were slight. ASLANT for ASLOPE and thus MAE for MOE (36D: ___ Greene, mobster in "The Godfather"). These are rough as the rough patches got. Overall, a lovely solve. Brightened up my coldish blustery November 1 morning.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. that clue on LIBRARIANS, whoever's responsible, good job! (26D: Ones turning up the volume?) ("turning up" here meaning "locating"). Same with the clue on SHE, which is an all-timer (4D: Marine mollusk exoskeleton vendor, in a tongue twister?); not sure why it needs the "?"—SHE literally sells seashells in that tongue twister.... — but whatever, man.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:14 AM  
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Lewis 6:16 AM  

Yes, @rex, me too! I always come into Robyn's puzzles knowing I'm going to be entertained, I'm going to smile, and that there will be fun therein. Here we had bounciness/playfulness in answers (at least six long answers with pop), and clues (SHE, DECODER RING, LIBRARIANS). We had a couple of five-letter semordnilaps (TOUTS, TENON). And Robyn, you gave me an image that will stay with me for a while (would this be called an eye worm?):

I picture a person -- wearing a name tag that says (in crayon) either LIESL, EDIE, DOLLY, LEE, LARA, IONE, IRIS, LOKI, or MOE -- in a robe, wearing a decoder ring and a shower cap (perhaps under a rice cooker), sitting in a STRIP MALL with a garble of arcane electronic equipment, and playing with DIALS.

Thank you for that, Robyn, and thank you for this jaunt of a puzzle!

Loren Muse Smith 6:25 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 6:28 AM  


I liked the clue for STRIP MALL. Yikes. Makes you revisit comic strip, bacon strip, strip mining, weatherstrip.

Post hoc ERGO propter hoc. I had a headache, but I ate 7 Tootsie Rolls and it went away. I snickered when someone fell down, and then I fell down. A black cat crossed my path, and then I spilled all my peanut M&Ms while pumping gas. That kind of logic could really expand your repertoire of superstitions if you set your mind to it.

Who knew that CRESS was an herb? I thought it was a leafy salad vegetable. Then I realized that Any herb is a vegetable. So I looked into it and learned that the difference is purely how it’s used - an herb is a plant that flavors food, and a vegetable is a plant that can be eaten as a main ingredient. I guess what with baked onions and roasted garlic bulbs. . . the jury’s still out.

“Toots” before TOUTS. Defensible. If you’re tooting your own horn, you’re TOUTing yourself. Hard to do this without looking like you’re doing it, but I try mightily. And hate myself.

TIME IS MONEY – not just an adage, but a metaphor that governs how we speak about time:

Time is something we spend, save, waste, set aside, borrow, steal, invest, budget, lose. And we all want more of it. . .

. . .LIBRARIAN – We have a library but had to eliminate our librarian position. So it sits empty. I mean, you have to pass through it to access our computer lab with 20 computers, only 13 of which actually work. As our enrollment shrinks, so does our money. I have to teach a 6th grade section of English this year ‘cause we lost a middle school English teacher position. (My school is one building with grades 5-8 on one side and 9-12 on the other side.) IDIOTs – we also have no money to pay for a teacher to be in charge of a behavioral disability room. So where most schools separate out the kids who constantly torpedo all efforts to have a decent class where stuff is actually taught, we spend our time wrangling these guys. The kids who actually could learn and want to learn just languish. Kick the disrupters out of class? Where do they go? There’s nowhere to send them unless it’s the rare occasion that a principal is available.

Anyhoo. . .sorry about the rant. It’s staggering how little public school education is valued and invested in. News of the Chicago teachers is on in the background, and one of the things they were striking for was more support staff.

Another superb offering from our Friday Gridbeast Robyn.

QuasiMojo 6:40 AM  

Happy All SOULS Day everyone!

Smooth and pleasurable puzzle today (Decoder Ring was cute) but over way too soon. I expect Fridays to be tough. This was a cakewalk.

I remember some ad for mousse Back in the big hair 80s that used the line "turn up the volume."

Shower caps might be worn in an outdoor shower. Although I don't know anyone who uses one anymore.

LIESL was an ADOLESCENT (16 going on 17, right?) who did ACT her AGE.

I put a boy named SUE in for the seashell person. Took a while to see SHE.

Z 6:42 AM  

Since I’m married to a librarian (ret.) that clue got a big smile here {Obligatory observation that LIBRARIANs are about much more than just books and that public library usage is often counter-cyclical with the economy (usage goes up when the economy goes down) - support your public library). Pretty much what Rex said. LARA gave me LIESL and that quick moment of wondering if that’s a natick for crossword muggles. Both those movies were old when I was young and I wonder how much anyone under, say, 45 remembers about either. So for those of us who do puzzles every day a flying start, but maybe a real barrier to the start if you are younger and new to CrossWorld.

ART HISTORY made me smile, too. Did you know that ART HISTORY majors tend to make more money out of college than STEM majors and that humanity majors in general make more money over their lifetimes than computer science majors? Do your kid a favor and let them be what they want to be.

I’m off to play at Sarasota Sunset then staying in Sarasota to volunteer at the Pan American Ultimate Championships. I’m sure my trolls will miss me for a couple weeks, but I’ll be back.

Brian 6:44 AM  

Delightful and nicely-paced puzzle -- felt more like a Wednesday puzzle but I'm not complaining!

Anonymous 6:48 AM  

Had type instead of tele so preacher's charges were soups, from the kitchen? Hah! The lengths I go to to make words fit....

Solverinserbia 6:59 AM  

Idea: don't look at constructor name before hitting post and let's see which puzzles you really like without being biased by who are your friends and who are women.

OffTheGrid 7:06 AM  

I agree with Rex and the early posts. This was a very engaging solve and fast (for me) at about 30 min. I don't care a lot about time but I notice. Fridays often chew me up but today was a pleasant ride.

Hungry Mother 7:12 AM  

Full cup of coffee on this one, but after filling in random fashion, I was shocked when I was done in quick time. I’ve been in Salzburg twice, so “The Sound of Music” is very familiar.

Anonymoose 7:17 AM  

People shower outdoors? STRIPped?

kitshef 7:30 AM  

Magnificently filled grid, alas undermined by dull-as-dishwater cluing. When the clues were not too straightforward, they were irritating (“Range for 1-Across”, for example) or questionable. SLAPSTICK was one element of Monty Python, but it was cerebral, surreal, subversive and imaginative. Reducing it to the equivalent of the Three Stooges is wrong.

Twangster 7:52 AM  

I suppose there is occasional slapstick humor in Monty Python, but I wouldn't characterize it as the genre of humor. More satire or surrealism.

Rube 8:26 AM  

All the praise on this blog means that solvers are deep down only interested in saying "hah. I solved a Friday and it wasn't too hard. I must be good at this." This puzzle might be fun but it's no challenge. This is a Tuesday. All time record for me and that's bad. I don't want records. I want to be stumped. If Friday isn't a challenge, when is?
Harder please. Much harder

Brian 8:29 AM  

Initially had Capes instead of Robes (32A Garments worn at Hogwsrts) so Amplfiers fit instead of Librarians (26D Ones Tuesday re ning up the volume)

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

My guess is that if Robyn turned out to be male, Rex would not have liked this puzzle nearly as much.

mmorgan 8:42 AM  

Terrific puzzle. Okay it wasn’t too difficult for a Friday but it was hard enough, and so much fun and such a delight to solve. Agree with @Twangster about Monty Python not being slapstick, but that nit was too minor to get in the way of my enjoyment of and admiration for this puzzle.

Arden 8:48 AM  

Usually when a puzzle on Friday is this easy, he trashed it. He must really like Robyn!

Minor Isn't Sad 8:51 AM  

A lot of very sad songs/pieces of music have been written in a major key, just as a lot of happy songs are written in MINOR keys. I know a lot of people use happy/sad as a kind of litmus test for those modalities...but in practice, it doesn't work that way. I will say, it might be hard to write angry music in a major key...

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

I liked the long answers and their clues. Southwest corner tripped me up.

Nancy 8:55 AM  

Lots of terrific clues here that I found fresh and delightful. I loved the ones for LIBRARIANS (5D); MINOR CHORD (49A); STRIP MALL (35A) and SHOWER CAP. And those answers made great fill, too. Add to the great fill: LICKETY-SPLIT; TIME IS MONEY; and ACT YOUR AGE.

Because I know my "Sound of Music" very well, I not only knew LIESL and how to spell her, but I never came close to falling into the ALPS/Alto trap that's cleverly set by the 6A clue. "Range," indeed!

I had never heard of a "DAD joke" before being on this blog. But because of this blog, 10A was a gimme.

If there's a weakness to the puzzle, it's that it didn't provide all that much challenge for a Friday -- at least not for me. But the color and sizzle make up for it.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Anon 7:17- A lot of beach houses have outdoor showers. Good for getting the sand off you before going in the house or the pool. Can be stripped or wearing swimsuit as there is usually a door.

Dorothy Biggs 9:01 AM  

I filled in the NW very quickly and went on to crush the rest of the puzzle...except for the NE. The cluing up there was pretty rough...I think I finally got DOLLY and then ADOLESCENT and then rest fell into place.

TINCT is not a word I figured I'd cross paths with today when I woke up this morning. TINCTure...has little to do with color, right? It's more of a "hint" of something. I think "stain" might be a better clue to TINCT than "coloring." It didn't help that it crossed a name with too-few vowels for its length. Is ASCH short for something? ASCHer, maybe?

Pretty easy puzzle for me for a Friday. I'm not complaining...and I'm glad that WS or whoever felt the need to make it more difficult by adding in Tortured Clues™.

ColoradoCog 9:01 AM  

Those who are suggesting Rex would have enjoyed the puzzle less if the constructor was male should save their snark for a day when the puzzle is less obviously great.

Suzie Q 9:18 AM  

Very nice with lots of fun. I didn't think it was "too easy" for a Friday. Besides, saying that is just asking to get your butt kicked tomorrow!
I did have time to let my mind wander a bit. Schmutz sounds like it should be reindeer poo, not ash. I know, act your age, not your I.Q.
I'm with @ kitshef about Monty Python. Bad clue.
I did not know shale could be called mudrock.
Hootenannies yesterday and lickety-split today. Now there are some fun words.
I did wonder if the long clue for She was written to keep the gender police at bay.

Taffy-Kun 9:18 AM  
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SouthsideJohnny 9:22 AM  

I agree that it was pretty clean and straightforward today, which is always nice. A couple of questions - how does a MINOR CHORD “sound sad” ? Can’t other chords or notes sound happy or sad, or in between ? Also, how is EDEN a “Fall location” - fall down ? Fall (autumnal) ? or perhaps Fall from grace ? (Which seems like a real stretch). I’m definitely not in the loop on those two, lol.

The Joker 9:26 AM  
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Anonymous 9:28 AM  

The clue said MIGHT be sad.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

If it's enclosed it isn't outdoors.

puzzlehoarder 9:32 AM  

Seeing this constructor's byline I was prepared for another late week softball. Unfortunately today's offering didn't even make it to that level. Between the accessible entries and the eagerness of the clues to give that easy material away this constructor and the editor have hit a new low. This came in exactly between Tuesday and Wednesday time. That would be fine if Monday through Saturday were all themeless puzzles. Then this one could be published in its appropriate difficulty position and no harm done. There is a real expectation for that uptick in difficulty as the week progresses and this puzzle in no way belongs on a Friday.

After four days of themed puzzles I'm really looking forward to a good Friday solve. Getting a themeless puzzle as easy as this one was just one big DADS joke and as they say the yolk was on me.

jrstocker 9:35 AM  

The sad MINOR CHORD can't help but remind me of this classic clip...


Unknown 9:35 AM  


An old Puritan saying: "In Adam's Fall, we sinned all"

The Fall of humankind occurred in the Garden of Eden.

I'm not a musician, but I think minor keys are basically "sadder" sounding than major ones.

I'm not griping, but when I can do a Friday in under 13 minutes, it's got to be pretty darned easy.

SethC 9:38 AM  

We're fortunate enough to have three libraries nearby with great children's programs. Our almost two year old loves them!

I'll be playing at PAUC! #24 on all bashed out in men's masters. Come say hi.

E.J. Copperman 9:39 AM  

I agree with those who chafed at the idea of Monty Python's "genre" being SLAPSTICK. Abbot and Costello, sure. Three Stooges, definitely. The comedy troupe that gave us the Summarize Proust sketch? Not so slapstick.

Simone 9:45 AM  

I like seeing you hyped about a puzzle but this one irritated me. Too easy for a Friday but with a couple flat out inaccuracies (slapstick being one).

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Boring, uninspired, uninteresting. Not worthy of a Friday.

Nancy 9:54 AM  

@Quasi (6:40) -- "...I don't know anyone who uses one anymore." Years and years ago I did. Now I don't. Here's my theory: When the hair blow dryer came in, the shower cap went out. Any bit of lingering dampness can be dispelled in a New York minute.

Count me as one of those people who does tend to find MINOR CHORDS sad -- at least as compared to major chords. At least I think I do. I'm sure there are exceptions that musicians could point out to me, but that's my visceral response. When I was at dinner with a group of fellow lyricists after one of the BMI Workshops, Sam H. turned to me and asked: "If you could work with any famous composer living or dead, who would it be?" Without missing a beat, I said "Richard Rodgers. And you, Sam?" "Harold Arlen," he answered. I wasn't expecting that. And what I said was: "All I know is that his songs tend to depress the hell out of me." I'm pretty sure Arlen must have used a lot of MINOR CHORDS, didn't he??? Musicians?

Taffy-Kun 9:55 AM  

Calling Monty Python slapstick is like calling a Lamborghini a “shopping cart” because you occasionally carry groceries in it!

Leslie 9:56 AM  

I also got trapped in the Liesl--alto clues which had me looking into tree nurseries. Fun puzzle. Bad clue for Monty Python. Aslope is a nnoying. I'd like an acronym for adding a- to words.

Newboy 9:59 AM  

Hand up for Monty Python complainers. As an old fart I was naticked where “Black Swan” overlaps Avengers, so an equalizer to whine like those whipper snappers climbing the ALPS with LIESL. ERGO I had to run my vowels to find LOKI as a logical fill. Friday usually starts with a blank stare at the wide open grid before small chunks fill around Shakespeare quotes, etc and today’s went just like usual, so clearly I’m a fan.

@LMS should be commended for efforts beyond all reasonable expectations. I left public school classrooms after we lost our third bond vote & I faced a class of 43 sophomore English students the following year. That was in Oregon in 1969 & I cringe at the lack of progress. That anyone remains in this fray amazes me & sparks an ember of hope.

JC66 10:05 AM  

I'm going to mirror @Rex's habit of blaming the editor because today's puzzle had a lot of terrific answers, but the cluing was much to easy for a Friday. The only exception: 26D; is volume supposed to be synonymous with noise?

oldbizmark 10:07 AM  

Other than the "E" in the HR()/T(E)NON cross, which I guessed, this was very easy with little teeth. I like my Fridays (and Thursdays, for that matter) with more resistance but agree with Rex that it was an enjoyable solving experience.

Mary McCarty 10:09 AM  

@Quasimodo, today is All Saints’ Day, a Holy Day of Opportunity, as my pastor puts it. Tomorrow is All SOULS’ day. I remember back in Catholic grammar school we were encouraged to use our recess and lunch time to duck into the church and say a couple of prayers to free a SOUL from Purgatory. I think my record was 10, and we argued about “how far you had to get away from the church” to count as a separate visit.
Re: 26D: Rex, I think your explanation is a bit of a stretch. Turning DOWN the volume is better, still without being too obvious, and retaining the pun.
Almost put “codebreaker” in 10D, til I saw “on hand”- nice!

Paul Mazur 10:12 AM  

I'm not a master solver like many of you, but for a Friday it was easy for me. Before any crosses I threw in BRITHUMOR for the Monty Python clue. Never would classify them as slapstick. I normally just peak in on Rex's opinion of the puzzle after I solve, but today I thought I'd chime in. As someone earlier said, Happy All Saint's Day!

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Some bicyclists carry a shower cap to put over their helmet on rainy days. I'm one and have been guilty of wearing a shower cap outdoors. Google "shower cap bicycle" to see some charming pics.

Mary McCarty 10:17 AM  

My bad on 26D...”volume” as in “books”...ok, now it works

Z 10:23 AM  

I really didn’t expect the clue for SLAPSTICK to get the Spanish Inquisition.

Reminder - Crossword clues don’t have to be correct in every case. Monty Python certainly has lots of SLAPSTICK.

@ColoradoCog - If Rex is critical it’s because he hates everything and has a grudge against Shortz. If he praises a puzzle it’s because his friend constructed it. If the puzzle is too easy for me Rex is wrong. If the puzzle is too hard for me Rex is wrong. Some people seem to live their whole life living in a MINOR key.

@Dorothy Biggs - Hand up for TINge before TINCT. I think of it as the difference between white and off-white.

@Seth C - #24 on All Bashed Out. - Got it. Pretty sure we won’t make the showcase game on Sunday, but I’ll be somewhere heckling if you’re around for it.

xyz 10:24 AM  

Not impressed with today's nitlist. Quick for me.

Easyish and very straightforward.

Exceptions: The Jewish author I needed all the crosses.
A.SLOPE (ugh)- xwords always make me cringe at such inclusions
Was stumped for a little bit at 'MONTH' (Thanks ASCH - ^^ see above)
Long Downs all entertaining

My nit: I miss **director's voice-overs** on DVD's (not the long-suffering cuts) I learned so much from Ridley Scott about how and why his films appeal to me as they do. He knows/knew when to cut.

CDilly52 10:26 AM  
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mbr 10:29 AM  

Regarding the shower cap controversy, I've seen women using one instead of a bathing cap - so, yeah, outside.

TJS 10:33 AM  

A terrific Tuesday. On to the archive.

David 10:46 AM  

No remembering who 1A was as, after seeing the movie long, long, ago I've ignored that show entirely. It's almost as inane as Flower Drum Song. Give me South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I, or Oklahoma any day. Then 2A I dropped in Alto as well...

Also had a problem with aslope, that O was the last square filled.

Two things I learned today: lickity can be spelled lickety and, after 20 years of professional work in kitchens, I've always thought of watercress as a green (and nobody ever calls it simply "cress"), but there's a variety called garden cress which is an herb.

Thanks for explaining the clue on librarians, I couldn't figure that out early in the morning. Hint for constructors, sound engineers eschew that word as it's commonly used. They call it gain.

The fall. Have a listen to Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt by old JSB

Nifty use of minor chords here. Ends with a Picardy 3rd, one supposes to signify hope.

pmdm 10:48 AM  

Perhpas the clue for 29D should have read "one of the genres of Monty Python." I think of the Three Stooges as slapstick and the Pythons as laughingly silly (as in walks).

I liked the puzzle. When is she going to bring her ability to a Sunday puzzle. Soon, I hope.

I've been reading this blog for years. Petty? Too often, perhaps. I'm thinking in general, not aiming the observation at anyone in particular. Maybe at times I've been petty. But I love reading the comments of those like Lewis and LMS who never seem petty. Enough self-satisfying observation for me.

CDilly52 10:50 AM  

What a gem, a jewel, a treat. This Friday offering hit all the marks that draw me to crosswords: clever word play, tight themes and an opportunity learn something and get to know constructors. I got the theme immediately and couldn’t wait to see what the reveal could be. But I deliberately slowed myself down to savor the experience. Ms. Weintraub is a favorite of mine and I knew this was going to be a Good Friday experience. I was not disappointed in the least.

I laughed out loud at the clues for LIBRARIAN, SHOWER CAP and STRIP MALL. And I enjoyed the really wonderful words: COAX, CHIDES, SHORES, TOUTS, and TENON (I love Yankee Workshop-the old ones with Norm Abrams). ACT YOUR AGE, also made me chuckle as it took me back to junior high where that was a frequently used, eyeroll-worthy put-down to which we added “not your shoe size!” The cruelty of kids.

OK, so we had ASLOPE, but we also had the wonderfully alliterative SLITS, SLOT, SLIMY all crossing each other to go with it. OK, we also had lots of plurals, so what???

Anyone familiar with the Harry Potter books probably knew that not only were ROBES (both day-to-day and dress) the uniform but also that chess men represent ARMIES from the vivid Wizard’s Chess battle That Ron Weasley fought in order to get the kids into the chamber to retrieve the Sorcerer’s Stone. That scene was vivid both in print and on film.

And ticking the last box is learning. Today I learned that no Scrabble tile is worth NINE points. Elegance IMHO. What’s not to love?

Happy Friday to all!

Nancy 11:08 AM  

I loved the song "Living in a Minor Key" and I'd never heard it before. Thanks to @Z for providing the link which I recommend to everyone. But after listening...

I feel like I have to tell Z,
That this song seems mistitled to me.
From beginning to end,
It feels HAPPY, my friend,
Thus MAJOR in chords and in key.

(I may be wrong, though.)

Malsdemare 11:08 AM  

Well, I enjoyed it though I agree it was over way too soon. I knew LOKI only because a friend named her German Shepherd that and he chose to channel his namesake. Gotta be careful what you name you pets. I had a lovely mal named Ch Poker Flat Something Wicked (she was from the witches' litter, call name Prudence) and with other females, she was loathsome. Loved her to death but I really didn't need a crash course on breaking up fights.

So many delicious, smile-inducing answers: LIBRARIANS, LICKETY SPLIT, DIRECTORS CUT, SLAPSTICK. I guess I'm on Robyn's wavelength; they just called out to be and I answered.

@anonymoose. Sure they shower outdoors and some strip—check out a Bahamian harbor at sunset sometime. But you won't see a shower cap anywhere. My daughters—who do extreme sports—have been known to strip in the parking lot, getting out of totally soaked clothing before climbing in the car. Quite eye-catching.

I've been suoer fast this week; expecting my comeuppance tomorrow. But for the moment I'm feeling pretty smart.

Ethan Taliesin 11:12 AM  

HOW, not TAO, was refreshing to see.

Seconds away from a personal best (which I would have gotten if I had not been texting while the timer was running). Pretty solid puzzle.

Chip Hilton 11:16 AM  

I agree with Z’s comment concerning some SLAPSTICK in Python. Geez, did I really just say that? Enjoy your Ultimate, Z. Stay longer, if you’d like. 😉

I enjoyed several of the clues today. SHE - lotta work, but worth it. EDEN, ALPS, LOAN - lovely misdirections. Perhaps too easy for a Friday, but elegant. Thanks, R.W.

Tim Pierce 11:21 AM  

Jason LEE is a pretty well-known actor, yes. He came up to fame in the Kevin Smith movies of the 1990s, most notably Chasing Amy (the one that also made Ben Affleck a star). He was Jeff Bebe, the lead singer in Almost Famous. He shows up in NYT puzzles pretty regularly. Pixar films don't generally cast "voice actors", they cast well-known actors in general. This clue was a gimme.

QuasiMojo 11:32 AM  

@Nancy, I never had to use one. I'm one of those people with hair that dries the minute you step out of the shower. Which is great if you're late for work. But no so great if you need tons of goop to style it. :)

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Really really liked it, for a puz with no theme mcguffin. Gotta try to nudge Robyn darlin to do more themed puzs -- she's no doubt super-great at that, too. [To date, her themed puzs net 7 out of the 23 total.]

Maybe this pup was a little easy-ish for a FriPuz, but that'll happen when yer fillins are this 5-O smoooooth.
Thought it admirable that there were 14 answers 9 or longer, and only 1 of em ended with a plural -S. Makes em seem lots more interestin, somehow.
staff weeject pick: SRS. har. There's them S's! [They will *not* be totally denied.]

fave clue: Tie. Between the SHOWERCAP and LIBRARIANS ones. @RP had great taste in fave clues, today, and covered both of those cheerily & superbly. Primo blog write-up, btw.

fave Ow de Speration: ASLOPE, of course. Stuck out like an aslope thumb, amongst all that there ultra-smoooooth material.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Weintraub darlin. How'bout a nice puztheme about stuff folks almost never wear outdoors?! (TIN FOIL HAT. That dented skin-helmet in @RP's picture. Etc.)

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Happy belated Halloween. [We only got 20 tricker treaters all last night … so they got fed a lotta candy, per head.] …

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Z-How can we miss you if you won’t go away (rhetorical question please don’t answer).

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

humanity majors in general make more money over their lifetimes than computer science majors?

and that's because... CS majors end up as coders, who've got a half-life of about 5 years. do the math to find the expiry age.

TINge wouldn't go away for the longest time.

MINORCHORD... sad because it/they are slightly dissonant, and by definition (who? no idea) are so.

toddh 11:49 AM  

As a 30 year old staring at two movies from 1965 crossing each other is rough at 1A/1D. The sound of music (1965) is a movie I’ve seen. However I’ve never seen Dr. Zhivago (1965) nor read the book. Sometimes I wish constructors would be more cognizant of younger solvers, in this case Lara Croft for my generation would have been nice to cross The Sound of Music’s LIESL. Otherwise, I loved the puzzle!

Joe Dipinto 11:53 AM  

Nice, but disappointing. An utter non-challenge for Friday.

@Nancy – most of Harold Arlen's well-known songs are in a major key. The only one I can think of off the top of my head that isn't is "Blues In The Night." Rodgers' "My Funny Valentine" is in a minor key but ends on the relative major chord.

But being in a minor key and using minor chords are two different things. Most major-key will contain passing minor chords within their harmonic progressions. Arlen used a lot of chromaticism which often created a "blue" feel.

It seems to me that Cole Porter toggles the most between major and minor sections within the same song: "I Love Paris", "Too Darn Hot", "My Heart Belongs To Daddy", "It's All Right With Me", "What Is This Thing Called Love", a number of others. He often started out minor and transitioned to major, by altering the third within the same melody.

In fact Porter cleverly addressed the major-happy vs. minor-sad quality in the lyrics to "Everytime We Say Goodbye": How strange the change / From major to minor", where the harmony actually goes from one to the other to complement the words. How cool is that?

Carola 12:00 PM  

Another Robyn Weintraub fan here. OTOH, and not unexpectedly: packed with delights. OTOH: yeah, easy for a Friday. Favorite moment was seeing LIBRARIANS emerge from the grid.

@Loren: And here my grandkids go to a grade school that not only has a vibrant, functioning library, but also art, music, and theater classes. The disparities in public education in this country...well, words fail me.

Joe Dipinto 12:08 PM  

That should have said, in ¶2:
Most major-key songs will contain minor chords...

Dave S 12:22 PM  

Easiest Friday I can remember. Whenever the short answers got at all sticky, the long ones popped into place. Was glad I didn't have to remember how to spell Aleichem as I first feared. Liked the clues for "dangerous kind of shark" and "fall location," especially since it was so "dismount surface." I'll add to the chorus of those disturbed by the Monty Python clue. The Three Stooges are slapstick. Monty Python certainly had some elements of physical humor, as well as others drawn from all sorts of comedy genres, but that was a big "yuck" (not to be confused with "nyuck."

Joe Dipinto 12:23 PM  

And oops, actually I was wrong on "Blues In The Night" – it too is in a major key. So I still have to locate a minor-key Harold Arlen song...

What? 12:31 PM  

Way too easy for a Friday- or are we all getting better at this.

Foldyfish 12:32 PM  

I liked it. This seemed like just the right amount of challenge for a Friday. Tough enough to make me work... but not overwhelming. Happy Friday, all!

What? 12:35 PM  

The problem seems to be in the clueing.
How about, for licketysplit, quickly enjoy a banana concoction? Granddad joke, worse than DAD.

jb129 12:41 PM  

I love Robyn's puzzles & when I thought I was stumped, kept with it b/c it was Robyn. Good to see you, girl!

JC66 12:46 PM  

@Mary McCarthy

Thanks for helping me lift the veil on the LIBRARIAN's volume.

jae 12:50 PM  

Yep, very easy. My only erasure was (@ Rex & many of you) ALto.

I know IONE from “Say Anything”, did not know she was a Nereid.

Smooth, but would have liked it more if it was tougher.

Dead Parrot 12:56 PM  

Perchance is there a Monty Python sketch where they wear shower caps?

Pain in the A. 1:01 PM  

Today is All Saints’ Day. Tomorrow is All Souls’ Day. Happy November !

Z 1:03 PM  

@Chip Hilton - It used to be said that even broken clocks are right twice a day. Not sure that applies anymore.

@Nancy - I don't know if that is played in a major or minor key but the lyrics are all heartbreak and longing.
Portland was hot in the wintertime
In the rain, in the tears that pour down my face
Oh, I wish you were here, I wish I still drank beer
I'd have one for every year that I've fallen from grace

Then I'll make you all laugh with a joke and a smile
And sing you some songs 'bout the nights I went wild
Though my heartache might hide behind a sweet melody
Oh, I'm living in a minor key
I'm living in a minor key

I still got a little swagger in my step
And I still think Hank Williams is as good as it gets
And when I was younger, I had a hunger
And I'd chase the thunder into the storm of regrets

And I'll make you all laugh with a joke and a smile
And sing you some songs 'bout the years I went wild
Though my heartache might hide behind a sweet melody
Oh, I'm living in a minor key
I'm living in a minor key

Though my heartache might hide behind a sweet melody
Oh, I'm living in a minor key
I'm living in a minor key

@Anon - Okay Okay - I'm outta here. Just had to hit my limit for the day.

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

Possibly a Friday personal record. I was so not surprised to see Robyn's name as constructor after I finished because she's the queen of the smooth, easy, Friday themeless.

Like an IDIOT, I threw down "fore", apropos of nothing, into the 22A SLOT. This made the preacher's SOULS hard to figure out but I fixed it LICKETY-SPLIT after getting the first LICK in at 5D.

And like @Ethan Taliesin, I had "tao" at 24D for "The way". I couldn't see CHIDES, SHORES (up) or SHOWER CAP for anything. If only PRES____L had led me to its nursery equivalent, I wouldn't have had to cross out "tao" in order to see CHIDES. That got the ball rolling ASLOPE and nothing else held me up, beyond a brief hitch at MONTH-ASCH. 10:13 on a Friday, woohoo!

Thanks, Robyn, another success!


Anonymous 1:46 PM  

I don't really get why readers time themselves. I enjoy solving puzzles and I'm not in a hurry to get it over with. I also don't understand rating the puzzles. I just like to solve them. Comments like "It's a Friday puzzle that feels like a Wednesday" really just mean that the solver went through it quickly. Who cares? Male constructors, female constructors? Also who cares? Rex doesn't like the clue on Lee, but heaven forbid if the clue referenced Robert E. Also a who cares? The blog sounds more like a bunch of oldsters wandering off topic in a nursing home.

OK Rex, delete this

Fred Romagnolo 1:46 PM  

The Rex and females thing has long been commented on in this blog (and also the "friend of" thing); we all know it. There hasn't been a lot of discussion about @Z's continuous defense of Rex, no matter how egregious he gets. I've always believed that any non-woody plant is an herb. @What: check out classic off-color jokes ending in LICKETY SPLIT.

albatross shell 2:05 PM  

Excellent puzzle. Grid great, clues with a lot of humor and slyness. And yes easy. For me that meant a little over an hour while watching football and news. Most of the long jokey answers I reeled in with just a couple crosses. But an occasional easier Fday or a harder TorWday causes me no upset.

Yes ALto before ALPS.

Thought of deletedscene but noticed DIRECTORSCUT also fit, so kept my powder dry.

Thought LICK_TY was more often spelled with an I than an E, but TELi, sure didn't work.

Monty Python had a lot of SLAPSTICK, some of it existential SLAPSTICK. I was thinking smallskit or shortskit since satire didn`t fit, but soon saw I had to give in to the actual answer.

If you like Portland laments try Michael Hurley's Portland Water.

I thought everyone always thought of chess sides as armies fighting a battle. Capturing, attacking, defending, knights, pawns, kings queens. I mean, come on.

CDilly52 2:57 PM  

AMEN @Newbiy RE @LMS but please include ALL TEACHERS at least in K-12. The world’s children are her most precious and irreplaceable natural resource (perhaps along with clean air and water). No child requested his/her birth, and each deserves an opportunity to realize her/his dreams. Without teachers, we limit our children and this limits the very future of civilization. Thank you teachers everywhere!! I have a story for y’all some day about where I would have been had it not been for a very dedicated and certainly unique teacher named Nellie B. Roenker. Certainly wouldn’t have diplomas and bar licenses on my wall.

CDilly52 3:02 PM  

Thank you administrator! My phone was acting up earlier and I thought I would never get it “woke” as kids say these days.

Jyqm 3:08 PM  

Great looking grid today, and I did enjoy the solve, but like many others, I would have enjoyed a bit more "crunch" and playfulness from the clues. LIBRARIANS and SHE are two wonderful exceptions, and DECODERRING isn't bad either, but the clues for so many other long answers seemed overly dry and straightforward. ARTHISTORY, PRESCHOOL, ADOLESCENT and DIRECTORSCUT in particular all could have done with livelier cluing. For my taste, on Friday and Saturday, let the wordplay and question marks fly!

Those complaining about the Monty Python clue on SLAPSTICK sound to me a lot like those who recently had bees in their bonnets over LENI Riefenstahl and Julian ASSANGE. It's a crossword puzzle clue, not a dissertation. One of Monty Python's most famous bits involves John Cleese performing a variety of "silly walks." Perhaps their most successful film features a giant wooden rabbit being catapulted over a castle wall, a knight who gets all of his limbs lopped off in battle, and a climactic Benny Hill-style police raid. Yes, they did a lot of other kinds of comedy as well, but they surely did more than enough slapstick to justify the clue.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

if you want SLAPSTICK, then check their Julia Child bit.

Frantic Sloth 4:08 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle. Being a Friday I finished in near-record time (well, MY record time), any delusions of mastery or intelligence beyond my true capability have been reinforced, and are always welcome!

Whenever someone I meet tells me they're a teacher, my tacit reaction is always a mixture of "I'm very impressed" and "oh, you poor thing." All the while, I am watching him/her with the look of a zoologist eyeing a nearly extinct species of incalculable worth. A dying breed, as it were. (This is usually followed by everyone getting uncomfortable and fleeing the scene, but I digress...)
Heartfelt kudos and vibes of gratitude and sustained fortitude to you. As my former acting teacher would say "keep your pecker up!"

jberg 4:32 PM  

Our paper got delivered six hours late today, possibly because a power failure closed a street around the corner -- so I'm just coming here for form. But in case anyone is reading:

--The people saying Rex liked this only because it had a woman constructor are the same people who complain that he's being inconsistent whenever he pans a puzzle by a woman. Both wrong.

I'm completely unfamiliar with the Avengers, the Incredibles, and almost as much with Harry Potter -- but they were all pretty gettable. While I've never seen "The Sound of Music" I did once get a free weekend stay in the Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont, which is almost wallpapered in posters, stills, and other Trapp Family memorabilia. So it must have rubbed off on my. I didn't actually remember LIESL, but sussed it out pretty quickly -- I knew at least one of them was had that vowel-less L ending, and Trautl was too long.

I agree it was easy, might have run a different day, but I was delighted when the secret DECODER RING was really correct, and my delight grew from there. But I'm not an objective judge, since she put my name in the puzzle.

@Loren, I hope WV teachers get all that stuff they got in Chicago -- the kids need it!

kitshef 5:45 PM  

@Jyqm - you are mis-remembering the ending of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There was nothing Benny Hill-like nor slapstick about it.

Anyway, the objection to the clue is that it's like cluing, say, Britney Spears as "woman with nice elbows". It is true, but certainly nothing she is known for.

Aalok 6:46 PM  

This is my first time commenting here. I have the NY Times Crossword app on my phone and I visit this site when I seem to have gotten everything but the app doesn't recognize the puzzle as solved. Usually I find some minor mistake in my solution. However,for today's, my solution is the same as yours but the app still refuses to mark it as solved. Weird!

AlsoBrien 8:36 AM  

You’ve obviously never used one. If it’s open to the sky, it’s outdoors.

kitshef 10:56 AM  

@Aalok - did you check for possible zeroes where letter o belongs?

Aalok 11:39 AM  

I rechecked the entire grid. Looks like one letter was accidentally repeated and I didn't notice it. Something to do with the app settings where it automatically moves to the next unfilled cell. All good now. Thanks :)

Burma Shave 10:23 AM  


no TIME to be ADOLESCENT you must ADMIT.


spacecraft 11:27 AM  

Hand up for ALto: that's certainly a "range." That's the lovely thing about late-week cluing--finding words that have double (or more!) meanings. It got me, but only for a writeover. There's no such thing as a "tRESCHOOL."

The rest of it was easy-peasy for a Friday, but still fun to solve. Wide open with two 10-11-12 side-by-side downs, and two more sets of 10s, this one really went 5-down. I love SLAPSTICK crossing ACTYOURAGE. Winner of a tough DOD competition that included the unforgettable Julie Christie as LARA: SEXY Mila KUNIS. Also honorable mention to IONE Skye and DOLLY Parton.

Yeah, ASLOPE wasn't ASLANT, :(, but that's a small price to pay. Eagle.

rainforest 3:04 PM  

This was a wonderful puzzle and I don't care that it was easy. It just sprang off the page; it was that lively. So many excellent clues and delightful answers, all in one puzzle. I think I love Robyn Weintraub.

Diana, LIW 4:24 PM  

A two-break perfect finish Friday. So...it must have been easy for others. For me? Fun!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Fun with Crosswords

rondo 4:57 PM  

Another hand up for ALto. Also had a mako shark before LOAN shark. As a ‘part of a joint’ I knew ‘roach’ would fit, but thought it unlikely, so I mortised the TENON in there. Also considered ‘tao’ or ‘zen’ for ‘the way’, but couldn’t figure HOW either of those was correct.

I’m on the side of those who think Monty Python should not be reduced to being called SLAPSTICK. Sure, they used some, but all in the name of satire. They used plenty of stop motion animation as well, I wouldn't reduce them to that genre.

The four corners today spell LENS. Yesterday TADS. Day before SODS.

SEXY Mila KUNIS deserves some attention, but I’d go with yeah baby EDIE Brickell.

Some small inkfest action due to clever clues. Gotta like it.

BS2 5:33 PM  

BTW, yesterday's verse was a reference to a scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" where a peasant (Dennis) is being repressed by King ARThur after a discussion about living in an autonomous collective rather than a monarchy. Google it for 3 or 4 minutes of satiric musings, not SLAPSTICK.

leftcoaster 6:08 PM  

Liked all the long downs and acrosses, but especially the amusing MINOR CHORD - ACT YOUR AGE couplet.

East-middle hold-up with the ASCH/CRESS/TINCT crossings, and it took a bit of time to see HOW instead of Tao as as "The way".

ALPS was nicely misdirected from Alto, and "Super hot" clue for SEXY seemed a bit more than needed to make the point.

I'm a fan of Ms. Weintraub's smooth and relaxed puzzles like this one.

strayling 7:39 PM  

Just right for a Friday wind-down after work. I'm with everyone else on the ALPS/ALTO write over, but the "aha!" moment when I got the misdirect put a smile on my face.

Unknown 2:49 AM  

A shower cap is great under a hat in a heavy rain when hiking in the Cascade mountains.

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