Expressive cartoon avatar / FRI 1-10-20 / 1954 Patti Page hit that begins it was winter when you told me you were leaving / TV character who went to high school for 122 years / Admit defeat in modern slang / Mononymous model

Friday, January 10, 2020

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (6:26)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BITMOJI (1A: Expressive cartoon avatar) —
brand name for a digital cartoon image that is intended to looklike and represent you, used in electronic communication (Cambridge English Dictionary)
• • •

Dutchess, 2002-2019
HELLO, READERS AND FELLOW SOLVERS. It's early January and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. It's kind of a melancholy January this year, what with the world in, let's say, turmoil. Also, on a personal note, 2019 was the year I lost Dutchess, who was officially The Best Dog, and who was with me well before I was "Rex Parker." Somehow the turning of the calendar to 2020 felt like ... I was leaving her behind. It's not a rational sentiment, but love's not rational, especially pet love. Speaking of love—I try hard to bring a passion and enthusiasm to our shared pastime every time I sit down to this here keyboard. I love what I do here, but it is a lot of work, put in at terrible hours—I'm either writing late at night, or very early in the morning, so that I can have the blog up and ready to go by the time your day starts (9am at the very latest, usually much earlier). I have no major expenses, just my time. Well, I do pay Annabel and Claire, respectively, to write for me once a month, but beyond that, it's just my time. This blog is a source of joy and genuine community to me (and I hope to you) but it is also work, and this is the time of year when I acknowledge that! All I want to do is write and make that writing available to everyone, for free, no restrictions. I have heard any number of suggestions over the years about how I might "monetize" (oof, that word) the blog, but honestly, the only one I want anything to do with is the one I already use—once a year, for one week, I just ask readers to contribute directly. And then I let 51 weeks go by before I bring up the subject again. No ads, no gimmicks. It's just me creating this thing and then people who enjoy the thing supporting the work that goes into creating the thing. It's simple. I like simple. Your support means a lot to me. Knowing that I have a loyal readership really is the gas in the tank, the thing that keeps me solving and writing and never missing a day for 13+ years. I will continue to post the solved grid every day, tell you my feelings about the puzzle every day, make you laugh or wince or furrow your brow or shout at your screen every day, bring you news from the Wider World of Crosswords (beyond the NYT) every day. The Word of the Day is: Quotidian. Occurring every day. Daily. Whether you choose to contribute or not, I'm all yours. Daily.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. This year's cards are illustrations from the covers of classic Puffin Books—Penguin's children's book imprint.  Watership Down, Charlotte's Web, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time, How to Play Cricket ... you know, the classics. There are a hundred different covers and they are truly gorgeous. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

Mildly enjoyable, this one. It ultimately won me over on the strength of its flashy fill (particularly JUULPODS, TAKE THE L, and AFROFUTURISM). There's also some pretty clever and devious cluing along the way. I fell into a couple of pretty bad holes, which was frustrating, but they weren't the kind of holes I RESENTed ... except for one. I did, in fact, resent PLAYAREA. If you are going specify *McDonald's restaurants* as the locale, then the proper answer can only be PLAYLAND. Here, I have proof:

"Well, Playland is a *type* of PLAY AREA, so technically the clue is..." Stop. No. Get real. Don't try to LAWYER me here; this clue is cheap nonsense. Get your difficulty some other way—like with the clue on LAWYER, for instance (64A: One who goes through the motions?). Or the seemingly vague but actually very specific clue on OAKLAND (15A: A home in the major leagues?) (because OAKLAND is the home of the ... A's). But this "ha ha, I fooled you by cluing a very specific thing but then having a very general thing as the actual answer" is annoying. More annoying things: ON THE LAST DAY (18A: When some contest entries are submitted, just in time) ... which is borderline "green paint," in that, yes, it's a phrase you might say, but it doesn't stand alone so well. Further, there are no shortcakes that are not strawberry. Having your marquee, middle-of-the-grid answer be some off-fruit shortcake is unfortunate, to put it kindly. Also unfortunate, having APPLE cross APPLET (27D: Java product). I realized that they are not etymologically related, but crossing identical five-letter strings, *any* five-letter strings, isn't great form, and it's especially not great when the letter string makes a complete word like APPLE. Glaring intersecting strings! No, don't.

The fill in this thing is mostly good, but ITAL OOP? I CRIED. (I just like how that row is kind of a complete thought). I legit thought that SPYRING was, in fact, a [Term for a group of moles], i.e. the animals that burrow underground. A murder of crows, a SPYRING of moles, why not? It was several minutes after I'd finished the puzzle that I realized, "Oh ..... *moles*! Like, the spy kind of mole. Oh, yeah, that makes much more sense." As for the holes that I fell into. The first was PLAY AREA (see above). Related to that (intersecting it, in fact) was the other trap I fell into in the NE: had the PI- at 17A: Steals (PIRATES) and wrote in PILFERS. Boo hoo. The worst trap of them all, however, was in the SE, where I had UC- at 54D: Golden State school inits. and dropped in -LA, which gave me the "LE-" at the front of 63A: Not as likely to hold water, which seemed to make LEAKIER a lock. UCLA to LEAKIER to ... sputterville. PUREE and STRIPS eventually yelled loud enough for me to hear them, but man that UCLA/LEAKIER combo was brutal (also, common, I'm guessing, as two people have already confirmed to me that they did the same thing). Kind of unfortunate to find the real answer is SEEPIER, which is barely a word, but it is what it is.


As I say, the overall solving experience was still enjoyable. And the puzzle was hard in a way that was totally acceptable for a Friday.

Some Notes:
  • Knowing IEOH definitely helped (R.I.P. I.M PEI) (34D: The "I" of I.M. Pei).
  • It took me forever (well after the puzzle was done) to figure out how PINKIE made sense for 23D: P's and q's typer. I thought "typer" meant ... well, "type," as in "the type to mind their P's and q's," so I was looking for a word that basically meant "someone with good manners." But no, "typer" here is literally the finger that you type the letter "P" and the letter "Q" with (assuming you can touch-type). 
  • ISSA Rae has come on very strong in recent months, all across Crossworddom (7D: "Insecure" creator Rae). I feel like I see her name once a day now, which surely I don't, but ... it's a lot. She is a future Crossword Pantheon member for sure. Also, "Insecure" is a wonderful show.
  • The "smack" in 59D: Smack on the street, e.g., for short (PDA) is a kiss, and PDA = "public display of affection"
  • I'm never going to like EPT, no matter how "jocular" you tell me it is (50A: Capable, jocularly) (it's a back formation from "inept"; see also "gruntled")
  • 58D: Meaning of an embossed "S," maybe (S'IL) is the "S" of "R.S.V.P" ("répondez S'IL vous plaît"); it's "embossed" presumably because it's on a fancy wedding invitation (or the like)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I actually liked Brendan's themeless puzzle from his own website this week better than I liked this one. Check it out.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:03 AM  

Well, BLESS ME. Today’s puzzle definitely TAKEs THE L.

Or maybe I need to get out more. But in my 70+ years I have never eaten (or even seen) an APPLE SHORTCAKE, and I had no idea there was a stand-alone film genre of AFROFUTURISM.

Surprised to see both OAK and OAKLAND in the same NYT puzzle and surprised to see SEEPIER in any crossword. I did like the “Term for a group of moles”/SPY RING entry; it created a nice “aha” for me (while most of the rest left me with an “oy vey”).

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

Can someone explain SIL? Is this an obscure word, an unclued abbreviation, or something else?

jae 12:18 AM  

Medium-tough works for me. Not knowing BITMOJI cost me some nanoseconds (hi M&A) as MICHEL took some time to emerge from the recesses of long term storage...I kept wanting stet or dele for the proofreader’s notation.

I also did not know IEOH but the crosses were easier.

On the tough side with some sparkle, a fine Fri. from one of the best, liked it a bunch.

jae 12:19 AM  

....and it was nice to see my Granddaughter’s school make it into the puzzle.

Brian 12:20 AM  

11 words starting with I unusual? • IMAN • ISSA • ISH • ITAL • IPASS • ICRIED • IDAHO • IEOH • INK • ISIS • IDAGREE

Anonymous 1:09 AM  

An embossed S is SIL? What in the blazes is an SIL?

Also, my hand goes up for PILFER, LEAKIER, and UCLA.

Michael Page 1:53 AM  

Yep, you’re not alone, also fell into UCLA/leakier.

puzzlehoarder 2:07 AM  

I got a clean grid on this but it wasn't easy. If I never see TAKETHEL in a puzzle again I won't miss it. Around these parts it means you're getting on a train.

I'm amazed at how often EPT has appeared in the NYTXW without making any impression on me. Today I had to rediscover it. In the SE I had to change UCLA to UCSB. At 63A I had to convert LEAKIER to SEEPIER. In between I even considered SIEVIER.

Great clues for SIL and PDA. That SW corner was another difficult spot. Wednesday through Friday have been tough.

JFS 2:44 AM  

How is 'SIL' the answer to 'Meaning of an embossed "S," maybe'? So confused!

Anonymous 4:48 AM  

The S in RSVP stands for s'il

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

Fair enough. But why embossed? Sure, a fancy invitation might possibly be embossed, but many (most) aren’t so it’s unfairly misleading. Also, it’s missing the apostrophe. Also, it’s foreign. No thank you, if you please.

Lewis 6:56 AM  

It was so worth a SEEPIER here, a [Workplaces for dets.] there, and the modernisms I hadn't met yet in my life just to confront, then laugh, then bow down to the clues for SPY RING [Term for a group of moles], PINKIE [P's and Q's typer], and OAKLAND [A home in the major leagues?]. Bravo and gratitude, BEQ!

Anonymoose 7:00 AM  

I went to school with a girl named IDA GREE.

QuasiMojo 7:01 AM  

So much uninteresting fill here to prop up some less than stellar fill. ON THE LAST DAY? I'D AGREE? PDS, ISH, OOP, APR, NTH, ETC. UGH. And how can something be seepier?

I love Mont-Saint-Michel. I spent a memorable (well semi-memorable) drunken night there back when I was a transfer student in high school. It felt like time-traveling to some long-lost world walking its narrow and steep streets in the silent pre-dawn hours.

BarbieBarbie 7:04 AM  

Four minis of varying quality, glued together by an invented dessert. I didn’t like it. Too much sloppiness for a Friday.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Flat out hard from start to finish. Fought me all the way to the last letter (SPYRING/YAW cross). If this had run on Saturday (and last year), it would have been one of the five toughest Saturdays of 2019. Not sure how it ended up on a Friday.

Some complaints. ON THE LAST DAY is poor - Rex says 'borderline' green paint but I say it is deep in the heart of green paint. I’D AGREE is worse. And what the heck is SIL???

But for the sheer joy of finishing such a puzzle, it was worth it.

galES before OBOES, sTet before ITAL, eTc before NTH, hAW before YAW, Sir before SIL(???), UCla before UCSB, mPg before APR, PLAYland before PLAYAREA, I tRIED before I CRIED, rEpS before SETS, bOtTle before TOPTEN. Phew!

amyyanni 7:30 AM  

Hand up for all those wrong entries (pilfers, leakier, etc). Dagnabbit! Finally got each letter in its proper cube. Felt as if they were out of control! Good challenge.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Doesn't make sense but I don't know what it is

Robert A. Simon 7:56 AM  

It’s the “S” from “RSVP.” Yeah, I know.

Karen 8:30 AM  

I had weagree for the longest time which made the SW corner even more challenging.

mmorgan 8:32 AM  

I also had PILFER, UCLA, and LEAKIER but I was able to take them out instead of stubbornly holding on, as I often do. My last two letters were the ID in IDAGREE and I really hesitated because I had no idea why SIL or PDA might work, but to my delight (and Mr Happy Pencil’s) all ended up right in the world. Even though I had no idea why they were right till I got here.

Rex’s critiques notwithstanding, I’ll take a BEQ anytime and, as usual, this one had a lot to like about it.

Hungry Mother 8:37 AM  

Wow! I almost gave up when the grid was barely half full. I was going to TAKETHEL. I’m taking a day off from running, so I decided to try to pound it out. I got it all after a long slog, but don’t feel like celebrating. I’m feeling very stupid.

GILL I. 8:38 AM  

I spent too much time with my least favorite auntie Googs. Holy cannoli . I usually like BEQ puzzles but this one was a BLESS ME CHRISTO of a bear.
Didn't enjoy the two OAKs and SEEPIER smells of yesterday's SUDSES.
I wanted 18A to be something like "in the nick of time" or "by hook or by crook." Instead we have a ho hum ON THE LAST DAY. My husband is one of those types. He waits up to the very last minute to get something done - even if it's enjoyable. I'll plan months ahead of time; count the hours and even plan my shower around when I have to do something. I think there's a name for that.
Anyway...what @Rex said. Oh, especially about APPLE SHORT CAKE and PLAY AREA. Neither exist in my world. If you're going to use APPLE you need to add caramel or bourbon in front of it. PLAY AREA can be anywhere in the world. McDonald's? I only think of their arches.
At least I learned that AFRO FUTURISM is a genre and not a hairdo.

Joe Dipinto 8:38 AM  

Woohoo, the perpetrator of my (non-bitmoji) avatar showed up in the puzzle!

This was a toughie but in a good way. BEQ never disappoints (well, except for that dumb Patti Page song that I never heard of). OOP/OAHU/IDAHO got me going and the solve actually went quite smoothly, with occasional pauses to reconnoiter the landscape.

I immediately wanted IMAN, OBOES and ISSA in the top left but it took awhile to suss out the rest of that area. Google APPLE SHORTCAKE and a bunch of recipes come up, so I'll allow that's a thing. Loved the clue for OAKLAND, ditto LAWYER and PINKIE.

Thanks for the Friday frolic, BEQ. But New Yorkers know what 39 really means...

Rube 8:53 AM  

So this is a watershed puzzle for me. When I first started doing these a million years ago I was too young to get many of the pop culture references. But I grew into them. But in this puzzle we have BITMOJI and PDA which are completely unknown to me. So I am now officially too old to solve. Who embosses invitations in the 21st century? This is the world of e-vite. CENSE? where is the in-?

This could have been a great puzzle as it was nice and challenging even though the long acrosses are very contrived. 58D and 59D ruined it.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

The one undefendable thing in this one is СССР. It's not a word nor a thing. Not in Latin alphabet. Here it is USSR. СССР is in Cyrillic alphabet and transliterates as SSSR. And please don't tell me it's a rebus, because it's not. It's just a blatant break of every rule in the book. Disgusting.

OffTheGrid 9:15 AM  

UCla was way too easy but I still entered it, fully expecting it to be wrong. At least I was right about that. The NW was one of the gnarliest quadrants I've dealt with. It would have helped if I could spell RAUCUS (sic).
In trying to figure out the mole clue I discovered that a group of moles (the animal) is a "Labour". Also, moles are not rodents but insectivores more closely related to bats. I saw one in the woods one time-very interesting critter. BTW, a mole is also a very large number of molecules or a skin thing. CENSE is new to me but has probably been in the puzzle before (spellcheck rejects it). I did not know about APPLESHORTCAKES but might like one with my coffee about now. After I had "CAKES I entered "upsidedown". Wrong dessert.

pabloinnh 9:24 AM  

W+ell, if JoeD bothered to look up apple shortcakes and says there is such a thing, I have to believe him. He's never lied to me before. However....the only shortcake involving fruit with which I'm familiar is definitely strawberry, and it is not "fruit-filled", the fruit goes on top, with a lot of whipped cream, but at least this reminded me of my Mom, who was a fabulous baker for 70+ years, and no, she never made and APPLESHORTCAKE. I rest my case.

This was a real struggle for me, and made me feel old (BITMOJI, JUULPODS), and feeling old is nothing I need any help with, thank you very much. I invoked the no-google rule and managed to finish, but often in spite of and not because of the clues. I did learn AFROFUTURISM, which my autocorrect accepts, and SEEPIER, which likewise, but since this is my first glimpse of either of them, I remain suspicious.

Thanks anyway, BEQ. I'm worn out.

Brian 9:31 AM  

The official term for the McDonald's play area is actually PlayPlace, which is what I started to write before discovering it didn't fit.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

#Anon 9:15. I think I remember that their sports event uniform said CCCP back in the day.

Rob 9:39 AM  

I think it means Silver. The S is embossed on a set of sterling.

Nancy 9:44 AM  

I see so many others objecting to the same things I object to: SIL; TAKE THE L; and SEEPIER (you've gotta be kidding). I was tempted to cheat on IEOH (is he the new EERO or ERNO or that golfer I can never remember?) But I didn't cheat and after going eenie, meenie, minie, moe, I ended up with a one-letter DNF.

The only -NUT I'd heard of was a T-NUT. But I didn't like BITMOJI. I liked BIoMOJI. I mean, if it's an avatar, it's all about you right? Admittedly, I've never heard of an O-NUT, but why not, I thought? Why can't a NUT be any shape at all? An "O" isn't hard.

This was hard and also unfair in places. But compared with yesterday, it was a pleasure. And my fever is down -- not DOWN down, mind you, but down. So I had more stamina.

Tory (yeah Brexit) 9:45 AM  

I don’t know about cosmonauts but CCCP were letters on Soviet hockey jerseys. I have pictures to prove it.

xyz 9:57 AM  

I wish I hadn't looked and seen that it was a BEQ puzzle, normally I don't check constructors, but this Affirmative Action for Female Constructors has me looking now. I really don't like his methodology of toughening clues and making up answers (APPLESHORTCAKE my @$$) as well as being specific to go generic (McD PLAYAREA? PLAY-PLACE OR better PLAY-LAND). OBOES are not "High Winds" in the orchestra Piccolos are. Flutes are higher-ranged than oboes.

So this was a DNF for me on my fave day of the week.

I won't go on, except:
ST LEO, FL? I lived in Tampa 6 years, this is a place(?) a "place" for a two-bit university, it's not a 'suburb. I didn't know there was a "Golf Course" there and it's my job to have heard of most of them.

In a way I'm glad I knew it was BEQ as to not waste any more time than necessary. His tangentiality of crosswordese is usually thrice removed, removing all the joy of a solve.

CDilly52 10:08 AM  

I flew through all of this until I got to the SE. Then: screeching halt!! APPLE turnovers are a thing, strawberry SHORTCAKES are a thing, but I cry foul on APPLE SHORTCAKES. The beauty of the berry shortcake is that when one macerated the berries, one reaps the wonderful reward of all the juicy goodness that each SHORTCAKE(S) SOPSUP! Not so much for the apple.

The difficulty (for me) in the SE, pulled my time into the normal Friday realm. Had I not been a fan of CHRISTO, and his eco-art, I would have had a DNF for sure. Really like AFROFUTURISM, and I adored “Black Panther.” Wanted lEakIER (fell right into that one!) and have never heard TAKE THE L other than referring to transportation in Chicago. Had I not finally dredged up UCSB from the deep recesses of my memory (spent some time in San Diego and learned about al the UC...s) my streak would have been broken. Not a huge deal but I am over half a year-most so far since I have had the app that counts such things for me). A bit herky-jerky, but overall a nice job BEQ. He is one devious fellow, and I typically have much more trouble with his puzzles so was thankful to spend most of the solve in his wheelhouse.

We made it through a five day work week-first of 2020. Have a great weekend all!

SouthsideJohnny 10:09 AM  

Reasonably straightforward, yet very challenging material to deal with today. SEEPIER is a borderline made-up word, but tolerable in a section loaded with misdirection (looking at you UCLA and UCSB).

I wish the Times would resist the temptation to put Dark Matter (inferable only by the crosses) in their puzzles on a daily basis. Today we have 30A - you could have a sample size of 10,000 and maybe one person would read that clue and fill in I CRIED.

Some interesting culinary license today with OKRA in succotash (properly clued, with “at times”, btw), APPLES in shortcake, a bit of misfire on the clue for PUREE (which really means “liquify” rather than “turn to mush”, lol), and a missed opportunity to clue IDAHO as a starchy tuber.

Also a nit - There’s an abbreviation in the clue for 49D, which seems inappropriate for LOGE.

xyz 10:12 AM  

9:15 Anonymous

CCCP is 20th century crosswordese-kneejerk stuff, duh

It was freaking everywhere - #OKBoomer

Sir Hillary 10:13 AM  

Pretty good quality from the great BEQ, but not close to what he's given us before. I'm with @kitchef regarding ONTHELASTDAY -- far from being on the borderline of Greenpaintland, it sits smack in the middle, just off Kelly Avenue at the corner of Forest Way and Olive Street. I'm a geography dork, and still IRESENT the inclusion of STLEO and its population of about 1,500, which is probably less than that of a Tampa McDonald's PLAYAREA on a summer afternoon. And SIL -- BLESSME, what garbage; can't wait to read @M&A's take on that one.

Still, lots to like here -- BITMOJI, OMNIBUS, TAKETHEL, AFROFUTURISM, SPYRING, CHRISTO, LETHARGY and the baseball stack in the NE (OAKLAND PIRATES).

My two major errors were both due to mistaken LAs (laPSUP, UCla) so I guess I was in LA LA land. And yes, the lEakIER thing killed me.

Just yesterday, I watched a video of the Al Michaels' amazing call of the last few minutes of the Miracle on Ice. Always fun to SEE THE shell-shocked CCCP TAKETHEL.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Yes, they _looked_ like CCCP, but those were not Latin letters. They were Cyrillic. Cyrillic "C" reads as an Ess and closest to Cyrillic "P" is Latin Ar.

Dorothy Biggs 10:19 AM  

I put in leakIER at first, but didn't like it. The clue is "Not as likely to hold water," which is to say, if something is leaky, it doesn't matter how leaky it is, it still won't hold water. A leaky bucket and a leakier bucket are basically the same thing...BOTH are likely to not hold water. SEEPIER is not much better. A seepy bucket next to one that is seepier...well again, neither are likely to hold water. So yeah, the clue itself doesn't hold water.

This puzzle is a good example, to me, how easy it is to become so used to a puzzle's (editor's) isms, that when you get something new, it becomes instantly more difficult. Had I encountered this puzzle in the wild, with no preconceived ideas, it probably would have played easier. JUULPODS, AFROFUTURISM, TAKETHEL, etc., were all words I just wouldn't expect to see in a NYTxword puzzle. This also includes much of the cluing. I should have known, seeing BEQ's byline, that this would skew more "modern." But I didn't bother to look and so I struggled.

But all of the xwordese that I encounter daily in the NYT is a kind of language that I've come to expect and use as a tool to solve the most difficult puzzles. I don't think this is necessarily a BAD thing, but then, it's not necessarily a good thing either. Rex always talks about other puzzles out there that are better than most of the NYT puzzles, I can see where he's coming from. People who do Saturday puzzles in the NYT have only accomplished the feat of learning a backlog of words that are memorized after doing years of puzzles NYT xword puzzles. Probably another good reason for WS to retire. The puzzles have become predictable.

This puzzle wasn't especially enjoyable, for many of the reasons Rex mentioned, (APPLESHORTCAKE?? WTF?), but it was made harder because it wasn't a typical NYT xword puzzle. I'm good with that...I just need a heads up beforehand so I can adjust to the shock.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Those pictures don't prove squat: letters on those jerseys are Cyrillic. They don't read "CCCP", they read "SSSR".

Diane S 10:20 AM  

@Rob 9:39 - I believe your hypothesis would necessitate an abbreviation in the clue (although there is a comma in the clue “S,” which many times is dropped from invitation RSVP’s - so I guess the plot thickens).

Are there any proofreaders available - does ITAL mean that someone forgot to italicize the text ?

It’s not a surprise that ISSA is appearing more frequently, due to the presence of the two ESSes.

Suzie Q 10:38 AM  

I feel the same as many here about the nits you've picked. For whatever reason I just do not enjoy BEQ puzzles.
I doubt that a female constructor would have even considered apple shortcakes. Obviously many of the men here also cry foul on that.
Can one film create a genre? Are there more I've not heard of?
Considering that this was a BEQ grid I figured the Smack on the street clue had to do with heroin. Kissing was a clever play on words.
I did love the clues for pinkie and spy ring.
All in all I guess this was an ept Friday puz.

Yvonne 10:41 AM  

Etymologists, please help. Is “ept,” defined as a back-formation (intentional antonym) of “inept,” really a word outside the jocular context? Wouldn’t a better antonym of “inept” be “adept”? Thanks.

TJS 10:45 AM  

I am a BEQ fan. This was garbage. I'm done now.

JC66 10:48 AM  

The was Saturday tough for me and, with a few exceptions (APPLESHORTCAKES), to name one, I really enjoyed the. struggle. This 80 year old felt good knowing both BITMOJI & ICRIED. Loved a lot of the cluing but didn't grok the SIL in RSVP until post solve.


Glad your feeling a little better. Hang in there.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

I know that, as musical instruments, oboes aren't the highest woodwinds. But it seems like an acceptable answer here as the name comes from the French "haut bois," which literally means "high wood."

David 10:54 AM  

The L used to have the oldest trains and run every half hour if you were lucky. Then, in the latter 90s, the trust fund kids pushed the working class families out of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, so now the L runs all the time and has the newest trains in the fleet. Yep, those families took the L all right.

Rex, home of the A's what?

I believe Afrofuturism was defined in the early 1990s, it came to the fore with Black Panther.

Strawberry shortcake. Just because something's on the internet doesn't make it real.

The clue is "on cosmonauts' helmets," not "as understood in the USA." Switch to a Russian keyboard to type it. I'm surprised Anon didn't balk at the three French answers.

I Cried? Not so much. But seethe makes me see the pyramids along the Nile. I'll take Patsy over Pattie any day.

Why do emoji need another name? That's just weird.

UCLA but I couldn't make that work with Puree, Strips, and Isis so I knew it was wrong. Had Play Area because I don't go into McDonald's much but am aware they have such things. I don't resent it not being Playland.

Overall a gnarly puzzle and kinda fun.

Paul Rippey 10:55 AM  

“You done with the business section? I’ll trade you for the STRIPS.” No, not an imaginable utterance (back when people read words on paper), so funnies ≠ STRIPS. But for all the difficulties, I liked the puzzle a lot.

Mary McCarty 11:07 AM  

Anonymous @9:15: now that so many people have explained CCCP to you, explain why a Soviet helmet/uniform/anything would be marked using an English alphabet.

Geezer 11:09 AM  

I don't want to buy the RSVP explanation for SIL. It's totally nonsensical.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Having been in the java world since about 1996, no one has made a java APPLET since about 1999. Many corps. won't even allow java on their machines, any more.

Whatsername 11:21 AM  

I love a nice warm apple pie, apple dumpling, apple fritter, apple crunch, apple bread or a cake made with apples in it, but shortcakes are for berries, preferably strawberries. Completely agree with Rex that 10 down was kind of a dirty trick. If you’re going to specify a McDonald’s play area then make your answer PLAYLAND ... because that’s what the area is called at McDonald’s. Tough time of the SE corner. DIdn’t know the artist or EPT and really, BLESSME? Do people say that? If I was told something that elicited a response such as “goodness gracious,” I would be much more likely to say ”well bless your heart.” Aside from those little quibbles though, I’d call it a Good Friday, albeit one that made me earn it.

If you like SPYRING stories, I recommend the movie “Breach.” Based on the true story of the FBI’s takedown of one of their own agents, the notorious Robert Hanssen, whose betrayal was described as possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history. At one time Hanssen was assigned to investigate the unknown traitor who was selling secrets to the Soviets - himself. He conducted a thorough investigation and submitted a full report without raising the slightest suspicion and no one was the wiser.

@Nancy: Very glad to hear you’re feeling better today. It’s just that time of year when those nasty little bugs are everywhere and hard to avoid. Keep taking good care of yourself and seize the opportunity to be lazy and rest.

Unknown 11:22 AM  

It's entertaining to read your dissection of the puzzle. What a dedication to your craft, doing this every day. I only recently got into doing them via the puzzle-only subscription and am enjoying. Monday and maybe Tuesday I can fly through but these Friday ones seem inhuman. Some blogger went from zero to solving the (a?) Sunday in a month (apparently).

But I've got the mechanics down and recognize some repeat offenders (ALES, IRE) so like with bridge I'll probably learn through experience rather than rote method. Books were never for me, anyhow.


Unknown 11:24 AM  

Oh, but I knew what Afrofuturism is. :)

Z 11:25 AM  

I never did convince @Evan (now WaPo Sunday Puzzle constructor) that independent constructors should put their best puzzles in the NYTX as a loss leader. Who does this puzzle with its APPLE SHORTCAKES feature and says "I want to do more more BEQ's." Rex's P.S. sums up my feelings pretty accurately.

Regarding CCCP, @Anon multiple times has a point that we also see made when we get H representing the Greek "eta" or N representing the Spanish Ñ in a puzzle. If you are anti "ano" as an answer to a clue referencing "year" in Spanish than you should also be opposed to letters from the Cyrillic alphabet used as if they are from the Latin alphabet. Personally, none of this bothers me because puzzles play with typography expectations all the time (see yesterday's puzzle), but I understand where @anonymous is coming from.


IMAN is the widow of David Bowie. My only pause was to ponder if there are other mononymous models.

PhilM 11:35 AM  

@Rube - cense is the verb from incense.

@Dorothy Biggs - so if one bucket has one pinhole, and another has two pinholes, isn't the second the leakier bucket? Yes, they are both leaky, but one leaks more than the other.

@DianeS - yes, Ital is written in the margin, and the text to be italicized is underlined.

Zoolander 11:43 AM  

@Z - Twiggy, Elle, and of course, Me

Unknown 11:50 AM  

The NYT puzzles otten reference foreign languages, so I don’t see a problem with CCCP, properly clued.

mathgent 11:55 AM  

Twenty red plus signs in the margins. That’s the most for over a year. What a great puzzle.

Part of my enthusiasm is from solving without a cheat. Not that I flew through it. I started right after watching the Jeopardy GOAT a little after nine and worked until 10:30. BTW, Ken Jennings was awesome.

I’ve seen CCCP many times in movies showing Soviet space vehicles.

I’m an old guy, too, but I know PDA. It’s been in the puzzle many times.

“A home in the major leagues?” for Oakland, as in Oakland A’s. What a great clue (among several others).

BEQ didn’t want to use the usual clue for ESP at 20A and came up with a clunker. The only flaw I noticed. Absolutely no junk I could see.

A lot of puzzling comments on the blog today. Certainly experienced solvers don’t expect clues to be definitions of entries.

Elaine 12:01 PM  

What the L is takethel? That totally stumped me - and still does

Richardf8 12:08 PM  

My first DNF in years. Naticked on Bitmoji/Iman. Never been a Bowie fan, and a specific brand of avatar? I couldn’t even get enough purchase for the grampa Google to help.

Otherwise enjoyed it. Thought it a bit of a stretch on the ppp front, but there were some good moments.

oisk17 12:08 PM  

After getting slaughtered yesterday, I really wanted a clean Friday. But the NW was impossible. Never heard of a "bitmoji." Didn't know "Issa" So although I have never heard of a "G" nut, big mojo seemed to make some sense; I did think of bit mojo, which would have given me only one bad space.

Managed to get the absurdly obscure "Ieoh" , but "seethe " described my emotions on this one...seepier? apple shortcake? I pass. Afrofuturism???

Z 12:15 PM  

@Elaine - TAKE THE L as in TAKE THE Loss. Sometimes said while making a "L" with your hand against your forehead. Google it and pick "images" if my description is less than adequate.

@Zoolander - Needs to be 4 letters... Can't believe I forgot about my favorite Aussie, although I remember it as always "Elle MacPherson" so not really mononymous.

btgrover 12:15 PM  

Someone should be put in crossword jail for allowing SEEPIER. Yuck. Other than that I enjoyed this puzzle!

Masked and Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Har. Well … Pretty typical BEQ-casual fillins. Not quite as many peculiar names as U might tend to get in his own website's puzs, but a nice scatterin of ISSA, CHRISTO, IMAN, IEOH, nonetheless.

Blog-neighborly, that they backed off on the usual ESP-as-mindreadin clue type, to keep @RP's blood pressure down where it belongs. Luved the OAKLAND clue, a lot more than @RP did, tho.

re: PLAYAREA - Official title is McDonald's PlayPlace. Sooo … some creative name licensin, there.
re: APPLESHORTCAKES. Was this the fruit "seed" entry for the puz?


staff weeject pick: EPT. Better clue: {Eft wearing a yarmulke??}.

Thanx for the wild (medium-FriPuz-difficulty) ride, BEQ.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Tough puzzle ... borderline slog ... but I made it through eventually. Glad I came here to have about half a dozen of the clues explained.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  


ghostoflectricity 12:29 PM  

Today (10 Jan. 2020) is the fourth anniversary of Iman's widowhood: David Bowie died on this date in 2016, four days after his 69th birthday and the release of the final album in his lifetime, "Black Star."

GILL I. 12:31 PM  

@mathgent. I AM SO rooting for James. His betting strategy is my kind of dog fight. He makes Ken fight for his life. Go James....may the god's be with you.
@Nancy...Thinking of you getting better.....

jberg 12:55 PM  

I had one blank space -- never heard of BIT MOJI, and don't understand why it's called that -- aren't all emojis coded as bits? And models names are beyond my ken, with very few exceptions. Other than that, a very enjoyable puzzle.

Me too for UCLA, but I had STRIPS already, so instead of lEakIER, my mistake was awESoME for 68A. A stretch, but I could imagine using it in that sense. But just as I was about to come here, I took another look and BLESS ME just POPped up at me.

I had SIL, but didn't understand it until reading Rex. I was fixated on SAL or SEL on some foreign shaker -- but neither worked with the crosses.

Nice Friday challenge, even if a little too challenging for me.

Zoolander 1:02 PM  

@Z - As it's been well established that I'm a idiot, I'm sure you will forgive me my mistake. I meant Emme not Elle MacPherson. And of course you were right, she's never been just plain Elle.

Ben 1:05 PM  

I also fell into the UCLA/LEAKIER puddle. Glad everyone has explained "EPT" and "SIL" but I'm still stuck on STEM--how is that related to Check?

Whatsername 1:11 PM  

@David at 10:54 - If no one else answers your “A“ question: Oakland, CA is the home of the Oakland Athletics, also known as the A’s, a major league baseball team. BTW, your comment that just because something’s on the Internet doesn’t make it real is spot on. When I first got an iPhone, I was asked by a retired gentleman who doesn’t even use a cell phone if there is anything you CAN’T find on the Internet. I told him truly I don’t think there is.

JC66 1:13 PM  


Check = hold back = STEM (the tide).

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

It’s Derek Zoolander. Of course there is Hansel, but that’s too many letters.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

I thought maybe the embossed S was for SIL because it was short for Silvia. Or maybe Sister In Law. Monogrammed towels for a new relative? Seemed awfully obscure. I like your explanation (a little) better.

Chriswork 1:25 PM  

Long time listener, first time caller; I'm gutted that a group of animal-moles isn't called a spy ring.

Teedmn 1:31 PM  

Woohoo, BEQ, that is one tough cookie today! BEQ usually gets me on his Monday themeless puzzles due to my lack of pop culture knowledge, but I don't mind marking squares wrong on those - no need to tell anyone that I TAKE THE L on those. But here, I was very reluctant to cheat, and I eventually pieced it all together.

It would have been ironic if I had cheated to find what a group of moles was called, only to find a LABOUR of moles wouldn't fit in at 58A. I had 4 squares empty on my grid when I got up to get my lunch. I decided not to cheat but to let it percolate instead. While in the company kitchen, I had the aha of "Smack" meaning kiss for 59D. PDA so that makes 58A _PYRING, ding, ding, ding, ding, those kind of moles! That was fun.

I do appreciate Rex's explanation of S'IL. By the time I finished putting in SP and ID in 58A and 62A respectively, I didn't care anymore what 58D meant. (Why on earth did it take me so long to see I'D instead of "we" at 62A and that 46D was STRIPS. Both would have saved me a lot of time by getting rid of leakIER and filling in the SW).

Yeah, APPLE SHORTCAKES are not a thing. And I wouldn't call a strawberry shortcake fruit-filled either. It has a fruit topping, no filling. Am I being too raucous? (Love that word).

Thanks, BEQ, I love this one~

old timer 1:32 PM  

DNF here. Did not guess JUULPODS and I call foul on OBOES. They are of course woodwinds, but not as high as some, including flutes and (ESP) piccolos.

I did like many of the other clues, which others have mentioned. And I wanted PDA from the get-go.

RooMonster 1:51 PM  

Hey All !
It seems most of youse (😃) liked this puz. Even Rex. I thought it was kinda blah (no POP) for a themeless. Lots of three-letter abbrs. ESP ISH APR NTH SIL PDA PDS, plus a USB and a IEOH.

Couldn't finish the SE. So a real DNF today, as I came here to cheat and looked at 63 & 65 Across. Put them in the grid, and as able to finish, albeit with still a one-letter DNF at aPT. Either TAKETHEL or TAKaTHEL were unparsable for me. TAKE THEL? Wha? Now I see TAKE THE L thanks to all y'all.

Had all the wrongness/writeovers as most of youse. Wanted TIESTO for CHRISTO because I see his name plastered everywhere here in town.

Gotta run.


Carola 1:54 PM  

Easy here, except for the AREA between IPASS and IEOH, mainly because I resisted APPLE as a kind of SHORTCAKE until the NTH moment. Fun puzzle.

Moments of can’t-fool-me triumph: OAKLAND, SPYRING, LAWYER.
Moment of laughing at being fooled: ST LEO - I loved the fake-out of the new clue for this creaky grid stalwart.
Needed @Rex to understand: SIL. I couldn't think of anything other than sister-in-law.

Having been a dessert eater for almost 70 years and never having encountered APPLE SHORTCAKE, I had to look it up. It is indeed a fruit-filled dessert: two layers of dough sandwiching an apple filling and baked in a rectangular pan (recipe and photo here). Sounds like a good one to make with my grandson.

Dorothy Biggs 2:19 PM  


That's just apple pie in a square pan. I think most people see "shortcake" as some kind of crumbly cakey thing, not a pastry. "Short" means crumbly...the pic you linked doesn't look's more flakey.

Frantic Sloth 2:21 PM  

SEEPIER is today’s LOUDEN.
Color me gruntled over EPT.
And ON THE LAST DAY should just be itself and never appear again.
Crunchy puzzle riddled with soggy-bread elements. Blech.

Carola 2:51 PM  

@Dorothy Biggs, yes, for me as well, "shortcake" has always meant rich biscuits that are definitely on the slice-with-great-care crumbly side. For this recipe, there's a note cautioning the baker that this is a "very soft biscuit dough that breaks easily" - I'm curious enough to give it a try. Also, I noticed that most of the apple shortcake recipes I scanned come from Down Under - with URLs ending in au or nz. Perhaps we're dealing with a difference in "shortcake" nomenclature.

Z 2:58 PM  

@Chriswork - Since most of these group names sound more than a little like somebody's uncle made them up (a parliament of owls? a murder of ravens? a bloat of hippopotamuses?) I think we should just declare/coin/aver/and avow that a group of moles are henceforth known as a SPY RING.

@ghostoflectricity - Blackstar was released on his birthday and he died two days later. Your comment caught my eye because on the 8th I saw someone conflate the dates, saying the album came out after he died.

@Zoolander - Twiggy, Elle MacPherson, Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Iman. I'm pretty sure that's the complete list of models whose names I know. I guess I can add Zoolander, now.

@Everyone before @Teedmn - Did Rex explain S'IL in his original post? I don't remember it being there when I originally read his post.

@Dorothy Biggs - What makes SHORTCAKE SHORTCAKE? As far as I can tell, somebody decides to call it SHORTCAKE. I've seen so many different variations on SHORTCAKE that if some chef trussed up a filet mignon and topped it with some roasted asparagus and called it "Asparagus SHORTCAKE" I wouldn't blink.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

Since, I'm going to guess, 99.44% of folks make their strawberry SHORTCAKE with those store-bought cello-pack thingees that are 99.44% air and shaped like a dented hockey puck (taste like one, too), what's being described as an APPLE version doesn't qualify. Go to any VT or NH country store in June, and you'll get the real thing.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

ghostofekeictricity didn't conflate the dates, he confused them.

Also, it's shortcake, owing to the addition of shortening. Short means (or meant) crisp. Shortcake has a definite meaning and a perfectly good reason for the name. Your asparagus analogy is simply mistaken.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

IDAGREE is the worst. The worst.

Pablo 3:54 PM  

Liked this really only because it was fair and solvable. It didn't really POP in any way. Unlike Rex I would've put this at easy or easy-medium.

Some cool entries in AFROFUTURISM and TAKETHEL. Was nice to see BITMOJI as a current entry even if I think they are awkward. Otherwise... idk. Flat, but given Wednesday and Thursday's puzzles I was just glad to have something doable and non-gimmicky. Maybe if that's where my standards are I should look elsewhere for my time killing activities.

JC66 4:36 PM  

@Anon 3:53


Z 5:06 PM  

@anon3:08 - Oh. You're still here? I didn't say @ghostoflectricity conflated the dates. But that's not what you're going on about is it? Your plaint would have once been merited. As for the second plaint, well, duh. Being a bad analogy was the point. Again, whatever SHORTCAKE was originally, it is now used for anything we toss under strawberries and whipped cream. You don't have to believe me. Put SHORTCAKE in your search engine then click on the "images" option. The only thing you won't see are APPLEs. Well, no filet mignon yet either.

Nancy 5:18 PM  

Thanks to @JC66, @Whatsername and @GILL for their good wishes.

A postscript. My internist has a sense of humor. When he returned my call yesterday, I said a bit sheepishly: "You know Doctor, if I were still 35 years old, I probably wouldn't have called you about having a fever of 102." And he said: "Yes, and if you were still 35, I wouldn't have called you back."

But that wasn't his best line. A couple of years ago, I was trying to explain the onset of something, but then, thinking I perhaps was giving him a bit more detail than he needed, I cut to: "and to make a long story short..."

"Too late," he said.

OffTheGrid 5:20 PM  

It's a good day on the blog when the biggest argument is over the nature of a shortcake and what fruit is used, and how.

Wayne Rhodes 5:31 PM  

Wow. Seepier made us weepier. And who ever heard of apple shortcake? Typical Quigley toughy

Bourbon Street 5:35 PM  

I couldn’t accept that the puzzle would have both OAK and OAKLAND in it, so I was left wondering why the Tory symbol would be an OAr or an OAt. I finally took the plunge and entered OAK and that’s when I figured out TAKE THE L (which helped considerably).

Chip Hilton 5:42 PM  

I’m surprised by the number of folks, including Rex, who went with UCla. It’s Friday, it’s BEQ, so, I immediately figured on either UCsd or UCSB. My failure came right off the bat, with BITMOJI and JUULPODS holding out til the bitter end. Fun, and extremely challenging, Friday.

Newboy 6:09 PM  

Like @Nancy’s doc, “too late” but glad she is on the mend & well cared for. Didn’t know JULLs or realized that they took PODS, so Northwest was as a bear today. Finally accessed xwordinfo to see yesterday’s constructor note & giggled again at learning that “ Translating twisty Thursday turns to text takes tenaciousness. Transporting thinkers to temporary titillation – that's the true test. The thornier the territory, the tastier to tackle.” rue ruefully rue!

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

H for Greek eta is quite different from N for Spanish Ñ. First one is unacceptable in the crossword puzzle to me as it mixes alphabets same as in the case of CCCP. The second one is indeed a widely accepted convention and is happening within the same base alphabet, it just simplifies diacritics entry problems.

The problem with mixing alphabets is it creates way too much confusion. You can see several examples of that in today's posts here, like @Mary McCarty telling me in one sentence that a) CCCP was "explained" to me and b) that Russians use Cyrillic alphabet naturally, why wouldn't they. You see the vicious circle here, right?

So, same as is the case with the palindromes, letters substitution for the non-Latin based alphabets should be banned from crosswords.

And yes, also Carthage must be destroyed. Wait, didn't that one happen a couple of millennia back? Yes it did. And this will happen too I'm sure.

Richardf8 6:36 PM  

I only got Sil because of Wednesday and the knowledge that Brendan has reason to have invitations in the brain.

CDilly52 6:50 PM  

Sorry you are I’ll. I just got confirmation that I have the flu. Ugh!! Glad you are on the mend.

JC66 6:58 PM  


Well, I hope you get better fast.

Dorothy Biggs 7:33 PM  

Z: SHORTCAKE is crumbly "cake." "Short" means crumbly. It's also where we get "shortening" from. Shortening doesn't allow the gluten to form in a certain way and so it "shortens" the bread/cake making it not stick together like bread...crumby, in other words.

I guess you could call anything whatever you'd like. You be you, man. You be you.

rushscott 7:50 PM  

Put BALLPITS to start - and this is why I'm nowhere near ready for Friday's.

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

The clue didn't say "Latin letters." Cyrillic letters are still letters, right?

Nancy 8:25 PM  

@CDilly52 -- You have my deepest sympathy, since a respiratory flu is much much worse than a stomach one -- at least it has always been so for me. I'm really sorry to hear it and I hope you recover quickly. And thanks for your good wishes -- good wishes that I assume were issued from a bed of real misery. That was very thoughtful of you.

Teedmn 8:33 PM  

@Z, the last bullet point. I actually read to the end for once.

@CDilly52, hang in there. It's an awful illness and you'll need much TLC. Here's hoping you have one of the milder versions.

Anonymous 8:35 PM  

@anon/8:04 puts the point across. If your old enough, you saw Huntley & Brinkley and lots of Russians with CCCP some place on them. For what it's worth, it's pronounced ESS-ESS-ESS-AEIRRR. Roll that R.

Brian 8:44 PM  

Take the loss. From WLD win loss draw

Anonymous 9:16 PM  

Natick: Pop. 36,000
St. Leo: Pop. 1,500

JC66 9:35 PM  

@Anon 9:16

Natick isn't named after one of the most famous Popes in CrossWorld land.

Swagomatic 9:38 PM  

Yeah. This was okay, but apple shortcake is not a thing. I had apple in there thinking there was no way this is right, but I got the happy tones anyway.

Swagomatic 9:41 PM  

Welp, I just googled it, and apple shortcake IS a thing. Who knew?

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

First DNF for me in ages. I see I have plenty of company—evidence perhaps of an over-abundance of labored and/or just plain shabby fill. Boo, hiss, etc.

Anonymous 10:48 PM  

I'm just a novice. Was frustrated a bit, but the only one I really take issue with is "ept". Don't like it at all. I never got SIL, which is bad because Michel is the only thing I had for several minutes. I do know better than to drop in UCLA for the entire Golden StAte; there must be nearly a dozen UC schools. I was really holding out for SF, though as it's the closest to the Warriors home. And I learned a new word, which is always good; cense.
Cheers, Neils

Anonymous 11:30 PM  

Horrible. Bitmoji? shortcake? Never heard of it. SEEPIER?? Not a real word. Nor is "Afrofuturism" a movie genre. Absolutely hated this one.

jae 12:01 AM  

@Neils - # of UC schools = 9.

Richardf8 1:29 AM  

OK. Thinly sliced filet mignon stacked on a biscuit made with herbs de provence and whipped garlic butter - we’ll make this steak shortcake a thing yet!

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

Another case of not knowing ones año from a hole .. in the ground. If it ain’t English, it needs a flag.

rondo 11:43 AM  

Who’s in charge of party-time at NASA? RAUCOUS scientists. Har.

Had the same PIlferS and lEakIER problems as OFL. Tos in a loathe before SEETHE and eTc before NTH and an eSe before ISH and a yesiREE before IDAGREE and it’s INKfest city. I’ve met BEQ and he didn’t seem this sinister in person.

Any supermodel, such as IMAN, is an auto-yeah baby.

Got to the finish. Pen’s outta INK.

spacecraft 11:46 AM  

Friday-tough, and only completed via several guesses, but compared to yesterday? A piece of CAKE. As to the fruit, it's not an integral part of the SHORTCAKE; you make the cake and then put on any damn fruit you want. But APPLE crossing APPLET? I'm quite sure BEQ looked over the finished product and winced at that one.

I had severe trouble in both the NW and SE wings. Wanted galES for the "high winds," but then...oh. THAT kind of wind. The wood kind. Okay. I figured 1a had to end in ___MOJI, but 6d was a huh? till I remembered what a stink (!) JUUL has been causing in the news lately. Then I felt Homerish (DOH!)

SE took a while too. I had STRIPS and the benign ISIS, thanks for not cluing the malignant one, and so the bottom line might be something with BLESS in it--thus I held off on the Cali school guess, rightly so. Actually had to run the alphabet with "What's…" till I got to the M's. Never heard of "AFROFUTURISM," but with two U's it probably made @M&A happy.

IDAGREE this was a tough TNUT; triumph points aplenty. IMAN appears before ISSA, both in the grid and alphabetically. Also in one-two DOD finish. Sorry, Ms. Rae, today you TAKETHEL. One writeover: eTc before NTH. Birdie.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

A foul puzzle. 5 pissers in the NE alone. Rejected.

Burma Shave 2:34 PM  


Too RAUCOUS at PLAY, I died.
“When IPASS on, please BLESSME.”


rainforest 3:48 PM  

Today's puzzle was way tougher than yesterday's which I found relatively easy. The NE was almost a laydown, as was the mid-E, but from there it was a struggle. I got -SHORTCAKES but APPLE never occurred to me until later.

The entire South was the toughest, ESP the SW. I did not put in UCla because I couldn't see how the "a" would work (I did consider "leakier" though). In the SW I finally "saw" LAWYER, and then had to put in SIL which I took as an abbreviation for SILver. Wrong but it worked. EARNER has appeared a lot lately.

In the NW I intuited -MOJI, after which ISSA, and JUUL were obvious, BORO was a shot in the dark but that's how BITMOJI came.

I don't know what an APPLET is, but once I stopped thinking of Java as the country, the rest of that section came.

Nice tussle.

Diana, LIW 3:58 PM  

Whilst I did not have a perfect round today, this was "easier" and smoother than the last 2 or 3 days. Guessed on the T on the BITMOJI. Loved the misdirect on LAWYER.

SEEPIER is creepier than I'd like to see in any puzzle. But who am I? I stand in awe of anyone who can construct one of these things, even when using "words" no one else uses.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

El Dingo 4:02 PM  

No one in the history of spoken English has ever shortened “I would agree” to “I’d agree.”

I’d eclair.

Stormy D 7:37 PM  

Not sure IDAGREE with @El Dingo, but then IDAHO, and I digress.

leftcoaster 7:44 PM  

I'D AGREE, Friday' puzzles are meant to on the tough side. This one was that and a good one. Didn't finish it, but learned a few new things that may or may not stick.


And how many times has I.M. Pei appeared in these grids? The revelation (at least to me) is that the I is for....IEOH!

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

My wife and I aways do these puzzles much later than anyone else. Perhaps no one will read this. Maybe a puzzle cluer or constructor will.

I'm a mathematician. Concerning 47A, clued as "series ender", the answer being "nth". THIS IS WRONG. nth (with the th in the exponent of course) does NOT mean the end of a sequence. It is the generic term for an arbitrary member of a sequence. For example, the n^th term of the sequence 2, 4, 8, 16, ..... is 2^n. One may write 2, 4, 8, ... 2^n, .... so the n^th term is 2^n. There usually is no end to sequences.

erin 11:22 AM  

Ugh...I fell for the "UCLA/LEAKIER" trap as well!

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