2013 disaster film with cult following / FRI 2-28-20 / Celle-la across Pyrenees / Prohibition-era guns / Something Winnie the Pooh lacks

Friday, February 28, 2020

Constructor: Aimee Lucido

Relative difficulty: Easy / Easy-Medium (untimed on paper)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: AKON (46D: One-named singer with the 2006 hit "Smack That") —
Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam (/ˈkɒn/; born April 16, 1973) is a Senegalese-American singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and actor. He rose to prominence in 2004 following the release of "Locked Up", the first single from his debut album, Trouble. [...] His second album, Konvicted received three nominations for the Grammy Awards in two categories, Best Contemporary R&B Album for Konvicted album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Smack That" and "I Wanna Love You". // He is the first solo artist to hold both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the BillboardHot 100 charts twice.[1] Akon has had four songs certified as 3× platinum, three songs certified as 2× platinum, more than ten songs certified as 1× platinum and more than ten songs certified as gold in digital sales. Akon has sung songs in other languages including TamilHindi, and Spanish. He was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the #1 selling artist for master ringtones in the world. [...] Forbes ranked Akon 80th (Power Rank) in Forbes Celebrity 100 in 2010 and 5th in 40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa list, in 2011. Billboard ranked Akon No. 6 on the list of Top Digital Songs Artists of the decade.
• • •

So nice to wake up and see Aimee Lucido's name in the byline. She is part of the elite New Yorker crossword team (along with legends like Patrick Berry, Liz Gorski, Erik Agard...) and her puzzles are typically effervescent delights. This one was no exception. Clue after clue, answer after answer had me smiling and (if you can imagine) genuinely enjoying myself! Her puzzles tend to skew contemporary, with lots of fresh turns of phrase and concepts but not (necessarily) a lot of proper nouns. I like proper nouns just fine, but they can be really hostile to people who don't know them and create hard generational lines between solvers. You gotta handle them carefully. Today, AKON's the only real potential proper name stumbling block I see. Mostly I see really in-the-language words and phrases like BINGE WATCH (such a good clue—1A: See the seasons pass quickly?) and ESCAPE ROOM and DEATH TRAPS and COPARENTS and MAKE IT RAIN (again, so good) (52A: Give out cash freely). I guess there is "SHARKNADO"—that's definitely a proper name. But "SHARKNADO" is the "Godfather" of the 2010s, so I just assume everyone knows it. "I'm gonna MAKO him an offer he can't refuse!" Classic.


I love that this puzzle came on the heels of yesterday's puzzle. That puzzle was a technical marvel, in its way, but those puzzles always feel like puzzbros (virtually always guys) showing off for other puzzbros, whereas this ... this just feels like a good time. I know, it's apples and oranges, as Thursdays call for trickiness and Fridays call for a certain open breezy challenge, but still, I have to note that the dearth of women constructors is especially striking when women constructors finally *do* appear and are so clearly above average. The WSJ hardly publishes any women, but when they finally did publish a team of women (Joanne Sullivan and Amy Goldstein) last week ... well, I liked that puzzle more than almost any WSJ puzzle I'd done that year. Erik Agard has the USA Today at something like 70% women constructors right now (!?) and that puzzle is objectively better than it's ever been. The New Yorker crossword team is almost half women, and those puzzles are consistently first-rate. The problem isn't "women aren't interested," the problem is The Culture. And when the most prominent members of The Culture do not care about representation, you have ... our current situation. Anyway, Aimee is great and the NYTXW is lucky she deigned to send them anything.


I made a lot lot lot of mistakes for such an easy puzzle. Let's start with TEAM for BEDS (1D: Twins, e.g.). Shout-out to all my Minnesota readers (there are a weird lot of you)! I am on a social media fast for Lent and what has replaced it is a metric ton of preseason baseball media (news, Grapefruit and Cactus League games, podcasts aplenty, etc.). With friends as well as a daughter in Minneapolis, and baseball on the brain, I could not see "Twins" as anything but a TEAM. I actually had BE_S and still no idea for a few seconds. Brain: ".... is it TEAM?" What else?

Mistakes:
  • 46D: One-named singer with the 2006 hit "Smack That" (AKON) — what happens when you are aware of various names but have no idea what songs they go with? NEYO happens!
  • 8D: Its scientific name is Bufo bufo (TOAD) — had the -OA-, went with COAL
  • 41A: Like many Egyptian pyramids (LOOTED) — this is a very good but very tough clue. Had LOO-ED and still no idea. Thought maybe the passages inside were ... LOOPED? Or maybe there are ankhs ... those have loops, right? Kinda? ... 
  • 20A: Something Winnie-the-Pooh lacks (PANTS) — I didn't make a mistake here, I just wanted to point out this answer, which amused me. It's funny 'cause it's true.
  • 45A: About .4% of the weight of the human body (NACL) — OK I object to this clue, as there is nothing in it that indicates to me the answer will be a chemical formula! Boooo! Anyway, I forgive this clue, as it led me to my best wrong answer. I had the "N" and eventually decided that .4% of the weight of the human body must be attributable to the NECK.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

121 comments:

Klazzic 6:18 AM  

What a terrific ride this was. Best puzzle I've seen of late. I, too, kept insisting that the TWINS had to be referring to our national pastime. I never thought of TEAM, but was mired in the muck with ALER. The NW was the last to fall because of my stubbornness. Great puzzle. Have a great weekend, comrades. Beautiful day for a bike ride in 78 degree weather here in NorCal.

Anonymous 6:23 AM  

Couldn't get gravytrain for 52 across out of my head for the longest. Knew it wasn't going to work but nevertheless. 1 Across had the best clue. NW was the last part of the puzzle to fall into place for me.

Lewis 6:38 AM  

@Rex -- Credit for the BINGEWATCH clue should go to Tom McCoy ("Quickly go through the seasons, say", 9/29/19, for BINGE), and credit for the PANTS clue should go to Jacob Stulberg ("Article of apparel never worn by Winnie-the-Pooh", 8/19/19).

Hungry Mother 6:43 AM  

Very fast and fun. Loved seeing my favorite nighttime activity in the grid. Puzzles in the morning, streaming shows in the evening, exercise in-between.

Lewis 6:45 AM  

Ahh. This puzzle had everything:
* Freshness. Four of my favorite answers were debuts (BINGE WATCH, COPARENTS, DEATH TRAPS, MAKE IT RAIN).
* Paucity of ugly answers, that is, a LJQ (Low Junk Quotient ©).
* Pockets of toughness (the glorious rub).
* Clever clues (SOS, NCAA, ESCAPE ROOM, SEAS).
* Mini theme of animals (ROO, SHARK, FOALS, TOAD).

What a joy! Aimee, regarding puzzles in the future, please, please, MAKE IT RAIN!

Z 6:52 AM  

You cannot complain about any of the PPP in today’s puzzle. 11/70 is the lowest I have ever counted. That’s 16% and anything below 25% is rare. And what I really appreciated is the clue choices. SONIC, NEST, TUT, WETNAP, BRAN, and SIXTH SENSE can all be clued as proper nouns or product names, but we got proper wikipedia-free clues. Heck, even OREO gets a non-trivia clue. Also, Rex did a really nice job of concisely explaining why PPP is sub-optimal, “they (proper nouns) can be really hostile to people who don't know them and create hard generational lines between solvers.” Yep, we see that play out in the comments all. the. time.

I have no idea what a good Friday time is for me. The app says 15:20 and I felt like I was flying through the east, but struggled a little in the west, so I’m guessing 15:20 is on the easy side of medium for a Friday. Had to get a significant number of crosses before BINGE WATCH clicked. My absolute max for any show in one sitting is two episodes. I just get antsy and want to do something else. I’ve never watched a season pass quickly, so getting the answer made me smile. ESCAPE ROOM above DEATH TRAPS seemed a little mean for anyone who is a little claustrophobic. I also liked the dark quote choice for the LOLITA clue. A sly reminder that lots of people missed what was going on in that novel. Then there’s, “It may get a good licking.” Indeed. So, yeah, what Rex said, nary an “ugh moment” and lots of sly or fun cluing that made me smile.

bulgie 7:27 AM  

Anyone else with TEAS before SEAS? It sorta works...

Loved the solve. Scintillating. BINGE WATCH was the last to fall, with a delightful "a-ha".

Most fun since yesterday!

kitshef 7:34 AM  

DNF as I put tEAS for things that are high but not dry and never checked the cross.

Was tempted to give this puzzle an EPH to be clever, but that would be unwarranted. A bevy interesting clues, plus the always-welcome Winnie-ther-Pooh (and ROO, too). So I can forgive words like AKON, COPARENTS and - yes - EPH, and the unpleasant phrases (OH STOP and I DONT WANNA).

First guess for .4% of the human body was Nose, but that seemed too high. Rex's NeCk might actually work.

RooMonster 7:38 AM  

Hey All !
Nice easy puz, after first run-through which netted me only about 5 answers. Thought it would be another toughie, but then started entering answers like my PANTS were RELIGHTed. Great clues, with nothing that was impossible, like a Second Century King who liberated the People from the other People.

EARTH SHATTERING was fun to see. Aimee snuck in ROO, so that was a nice bonus! That'll get me to even forgive her for only 1 F!

I call it easy, cause I only had two writeovers! WyNN-WINN (Could've swore it was the Y, I'm too used to seeing it here in Las Vegas), rOOTED-LOOTED, because you can ROOT stuff, right?

MAXI NANI
RooMonster
DarrinV

QuasiMojo 7:38 AM  

Certainly well done but a bit of a downer. Binge Watch-ing is an awful thing. Escape Rooms are a sad phenomenon. Death Traps? Perky start! Then Evil, followed by possible arson -- in Relight. Looted pyramids, in short grave robbing. Gats, and Wetnaps (hello coronavirus!); broken families -- i.e, Coparents, and then the addition of Lolita? Hi Epstein. Plus (reaching a bit) -- a gruesome reminder of Head Hunters. After this week's bloodbath on Wall Street I'm gonna need one. Eat your Bran, Quasi. I Don't Wanna!

albatross shell 7:46 AM  

BINGEWATCH

ESCAPEROOM 

DEATHTRAPS

Something comforting and unifying, but negative and depressing about that triplet.


Like  how the long downs are paired up too:

HEADHUNTER SCREENTEST

and

SIXTHSENSE EVANGELIST.


But my favorite is SHARKNADO.  Ya just can't beat a trashy b-movie
blockbuster.


Actually Winn-Dixie was a surprisingly good movie too. Never read the book.


CO-PAR ENTS: 2 LOTR characters playing pretty good golf together.
COPARENTS seems technical and dull as an answer.

Most proud of getting LOLITA and SHARKNADO. I'm sure she would have liked it.

An energizing Friday. BEDS took a while. Slow on SOS and OREO. Got LOOTED from the LO.


OH STOP NADA I DONT WANNA

Mark N 7:58 AM  

Very breezy and fun! No SNAGS to be found here.

pabloinnh 8:17 AM  

Our two year old granddaughter spent the night, so IDONTWANNA seemed a little too familiar, although she may be the world's easiest two year old.

Donald Duck doesn't wear PANTS either. Not sure what that all means.

My thought on doing this was, wow, this is just like a New Yorker puzzle, and after reading OFL I found out why. Full of great clues and answers that made me smile. Smooth as a smelt and lots more fun.

In short, great stuff, AL, for which many thanks. My favorite in a long time. Fridazo!

GILL I. 8:17 AM  

Yay....a FEMALE constructor and OFL is happy. No Charles Murray DEATH TRAPS.
Yes, Aimee Lucido is one of my favorites. Her cluing is primo; makes me WANNA do the BOSSA nova. Head scratcher was her PLACEBOS. I had the PLACE in place and I thought it can't be placenta can it? Then my other itch was AKON. A four letter name used to be either Cher or Enya. I can now commit to memory this AKON person who says "Smack That."
My favorite answer is EVANGELIST. I remember watching Tammy Faye of the PTL era and hoping she'd cry (which she did often). I would stare mesmerized at the tv as her black eyelash makeup came rolling down her cheeks. She never wiped it off and once it even rolled down to her chin. It was fun to watch.
I make bread all the time but I put beer in it. I'll have to try BRAN.
Thanks for one fine Friday. No Google - just smiles. I don't think ROO wore PANTS either, did he?

Twangster 8:20 AM  

I had M__E_TRAIN, so I figured it had to be MONEYTRAIN for while (which sounded like an odd new slangy verb).

Joe Dipinto 8:20 AM  

I thought it might amuse you to know
who's invited to go
This time, with his pants


Oh stop, Rex. You know perfectly well that no one can imagine you genuinely enjoying yourself, ever.

So this was nice. But nothing about it remotely suggests the gender of the constructor – good catch on those earlier clues, @Lewis – so I don't see a reason to make a big deal about it. (I suspect if 28a had been clued thusly by a male constructor we'd never be hearing the end of it.) I'm surprised this is SHARKNADO's first appearance, I'd have sworn I've seen it before. EVANGELIST is kind of a cool entry for the Lenten season, being a main character in musical settings of the Passion. Otherwise nothing really leapt out at me; once again it was too easy for a Friday.

Today we kill two puzzle answers with one song.

Sir Hillary 8:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joaquin 8:23 AM  

Found this pretty easy for a Friday, erring only with “tsk” for TUT. And I learned a bit about myself: Had I been born in France, I’d be illiterate. However, I do know my way around the cookie aisle. I don’t believe an OREO has ever gotten by me.

Suzie Q 8:26 AM  

Medium difficulty.
Maxi fun!

@ Quasi, I guess you're right but I didn't notice the depressing atmosphere until you pointed it out.

I never heard of Akon. He got into the Guinness Book because of ringtones? That's wild. Who knew there was such a category?

Sir Hillary 8:31 AM  

Just superb. Too many great entries to list, and only EPH and MANI even come close to being junk. I struggled for a foothold in the NW, so moved to the NE, which was much easier. Then did a clockwise run before finishing where I had tried to start.

Best stack is EVIL MAXI PANTS. Comic strip villainess? Playground insult? You choose.

Three clues struck me, all for different reasons:
-- BINGEWATCH clue is fabulous.
-- EGADS clue is technically correct, but has there ever been a person who would utter them interchangeably?
-- EMAIL clue tells you all you need to know about the I.R.S.

My theory on SHARKNADO: Far more people have heard of it than have actually seen it. Great to have it in a grid.

For me, MAKEITRAIN always conjures Philip Seymour Hoffman playing basketball in "Along Came Polly", even though he never actually says that.

Rube 8:32 AM  

Don't mean to attack as these are general comments, but your first two sentences got me.

It's Friday. We should not have a nice AND easy puzzle. If it's easy it's a failure. And it was too easy.

"First run netted me only 5 answers". No. we shouldn't solve by making "runs", guessing at answers. We should find one answer and then work toward others by getting answers that CROSS. It's a CROSSWORD puzzle not a guessing game.

Birchbark 8:35 AM  

SHARKNADO spawned a lot of campy portmanteau knockoffs, which (if your demographics and history trigger the right algorithm) Amazon Prime will suggest to you. My favorite: "VelociPastor." -- following an injury from a mysterious giant tooth found in China, a priest morphs into a vigilante dinosaur. Unlike SHARKNADO, the title is superior to the film itself.

SJ Austin 8:39 AM  

I had _AC_ for 45A and thought for a minute that maybe the FACE was .4% the weight of the human body. I liked the answer when I got NACL, but agree the cluing should have indicated an… abbreviation? Is that what chemical names are? Well, something.

But I also agree that this puzzle was fantastic, and that women constructors are really killing it lately all throughout crossworld.

Z 8:39 AM  

@Sir Hillary - Homes.com has this very important primer. The primer is at least as accurate as a certain political science I won’t name for @Gill I’s sake. There were something like 4 or 5 sequels, all trying to capture that “so bad it’s good” vibe. I believe it was a series of films that inspired many well-oiled viewing parties.

SouthsideJohnny 8:47 AM  

I so agree that the low PPP count (1) makes for a cleaner, more enjoyable solve, and (2) makes the puzzle much more accessible to “non-expert” solvers like myself.

I’m guessing that EPH and ESA are some sort of higher-level crosswordese, since they mean absolutely nothing to me - yet others appear to have dealt with them pretty routinely.

Would have liked to see an abbreviation in the clue for NACL. There also seems to be a bit of a disconnect between “edited” and RECUT, as it seems to me that if a movie was RECUT it would also have been re-edited.

Two stellar puzzles in a row, wow. I hope they can keep the streak going.

webwinger 8:47 AM  

Agree this was a terrific Friday puzz. @RP seems to be saying that its having a female constructor had something to do with its strengths, and that yesterday’s puzzle having male constructors had something to do with its strengths. (Of course OFL went on to disparage yesterday, but the consensus of comments was highly favorable.) Doesn’t this precisely support the view that there may be significant (and largely positive) gender-based differences among constructors? And if so, how can one insist that a particular ratio in their numbers implies bias in “The Culture”?

I started with iron for 45A; skeptical that NACL makes up less than 1% of body weight, but too lazy to look it up now.

My weirdest/funniest/grossest initial error was at 20A: With P_N_S in place I couldn’t keep myself from fixating on the movie Ted, featuring a foul-mouthed lecherous CGI teddy bear bear bud of Mark Wahlberg who had been complaining to the Hasbro toy company about his lack of a certain appendage. But no way in the Gray Lady...

I first read LOLITA as a college student and was blown away by its literary brilliance. Tried to reread recently and was unable to get beyond the first 50 pages. My recollection is that the young girl was taking advantage of the adult male as much as vice versa, and he fully acknowledged how abhorrent his behavior was. Nevertheless, approaching the book with a perspective altered by parenthood and our changed culture made it too troubling for me to finish.

Nancy 8:54 AM  

So I'm thinking: What a beautiful, clean puzzle with no pop culture knowledge required...and then I get to the SE. A didn't know the one-named singer, the movie, or the cars (thought they were AMCS). I did know the title of the 1955 book, but not the first line, and since I had NECK, not NACL at 45A, my novel was ?OK?TA -- keeping me from seeing LOLITA. (I had already cheated on the NADO of SHARKNADO, having had SHARK. SHARK GAME? SHARK FAME? SHARK TANK? It's a "cult movie", but evidently I'm not part of the cult.)

I was torn between I AINT GONNA and I'M NOT GONNA and only saw I DON'T WANNA once I'd cheated on SHARKNADO. The expression MAKE IT RAIN for give out cash freely never occurred to me. It's an expression I've seldom heard, if ever.

And finally, I had had SPACE BAR for 20D (Controls of a sort). Well it is a sort of keyboard control. When I corrected to PLACEB??, I was thinking of PLACE ??? as two words. I never once thought of PLACEBOS. Don't much like that clue: it's the patients taking the PLACEBOS who are the "controls".

But despite my DDNF, I enjoyed the puzzle a lot and found it quite engrossing. Especially before I got to the SE corner.

Tim 8:55 AM  

For the .4%, I had the n and the c, and considered “nice” as an answer. Too high, too low ?

rageismycaffeine 9:01 AM  

Friday record at 3:05. Very much on Aimee's vibe here as a longtime AVC solver, and really enjoyed the puzzle, but wanted more of a challenge for a Friday. Reading the comments makes me realize that it probably really was a Friday level puzzle, I just was on the same page as the constructor. Good fun, good fill.

Kevin 9:05 AM  

There should be a word that describes a wrong answer that is even better than the right answer.

For 9D, I had the end of it in place, but I had tentatively dropped in an S as the first letter (because I expected 1A to end is SH and not CH).

A-ha!

A couple with children who live apart? Those must be known as SEPARENTS in modern family lingo!


Abalini 9:13 AM  

Rube @8:32 that’s a pretty high DQ you have there. Who made you lord and master of how to solve crosswords? Nothing wrong with an initial run through to establish a few toe holds.

Nancy 9:14 AM  

This bleeping keyboard on my new laptop is going to drive me to drink. It's over-responsive and either types two of everything (DDNF!) or skips letters entirelyy (usually "S"s and "N"s, but I do think I replaced them all today.) It also never capitalizes the first letter of the sentence, since I evidently let go of the shift key a fraction of a secnond too soon and it's in such a hurry to type that nextt letter. To make it een worse, Ive lost the red scraggly line under the mis-typed word that alerts me to the error. Wondering if these problems can be fixed? Must get the handyman up. In he mentime, bear with me, please.

(I'm leaving this exactly the way it came out. I'm not fixing it. You see the problem, right?)









Nancy 9:26 AM  

@Joe Dipinto (8:20)-- Nice, apt citation from "A Weekend in the Country". I thought that was going to be your embedded song, but no such luck.

For anyone intrigued by Joe's opening PANTS quote, go listen to "A Weekend in The Country" from Sondheim's "A Little Night Music:. One of the cleverest lyrics you'll ever hear. You won't know who all these people are, but it won't matter.

LeaveItToYourGoat 9:29 AM  

OH STOP, Rex. Why do you always act like it's EARTH SHATTERING when the NYT features FEMALES as constructors? One of these days I SEE Will Shortz putting out a week-long series of female-created PLACEBOS with all male constructors' names, just to see if Rex withholds his scathing critique.

On a serious note, though. Rex's praise is 100% earned today. This was a fantastic puzzle with solid, contemporary long answers and lots of clever clues.

I DON'T WANNA BINGE WATCH A LIST of RECUT SIXTH SENSE SCREEN TESTS. I SEE an EARTH SHATTERING SHARKNADO and a LOOTED ESCAPE ROOM CONTAINING SONIC DEATH TRAPS.

EGAD!

RooMonster 9:31 AM  

@Rube 8:32
Har. I've already been informed by Rex (not directly, but by what ha says is the "correct" solving way, as is how you said) that I solve the wrong way. What I do, is start at 1A, go through all the Acrosses, then go through all the Downs, THEN go back, and start "crosswording" the correct method. Maybe I should seek counseling?

@Gill I
I wear PANTS all the time! Well, out in public at least...

@Z
Awesome article! I'm gonna get right on Shark-proofing my house.

RooMonster Puzzled Guy

Z 9:32 AM  

@Southside Johnny - ESA, ESo, esta, esto - These will all appear again soon in a puzzle near you. EPHesians I got from the crosses because the order of the books of the bible is not something I have memorized. The failure to indicate an abbreviation was needed was unusual, but I doubt anyone wrote in Job. With a P and an H, I doubt that EPH will ever catch up with the Spanish words as ese entries.

@webwinger - I think the consensus interpretation is that Humbert Humbert is an unreliable narrator and the reader is meant to understand that his implying that Dolores is the temptress is not to be believed. I think a parallel can be found in the Weinstein's defense closing statements, loosely "It's not rape because she tempted me."

Simone 9:33 AM  

@Webwinger: Vive la différence.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

Nice puzzle, but this review is a great expample of the friend of rex phenomenon. If B. Haight had tried the NACL bit, Rex would still be screaming. Similarly with make it rain. that's a pretty tired phrase and he'd excoriate anyone but friend for using it. There's also little missteps like recut for editing film. editing film is cutting. Re-editing film is cutting again. And you don't have to look any further than the awful 22 Across to see proof.

Pete 9:53 AM  

@Nancy
a) Buy yourself a real keyboard & mouse from Amazon. It's well worth it, all you need to do is put the batteries in and plug in the usb connector.
b) That wasn't the first line of Lolita. Look up the first paragraph of Lolita, it's the best paragraph in English Literature.

@Webwinger - your initial reading of Lolita was off the mark, and @Z is right. Dolores was just an ordinary little girl, Humbert Humbert a monster who saw her as something she wasn't. Lolitia was his perverted vision of Dolores. In other matters blog related, consider my first sentence to apply also.

Mike Herlihy 9:54 AM  

Seemed like a Wednesday. So easy that I finished without having to come back for a second attempt.

QuasiMojo 10:10 AM  

@Nancy, I wrote a whole back about adjusting the speed level of your type touch in settings in your lap book. That should help. I also picked up on Joe's song lyric too. I was lucky enough to see A Little Night Music on Bway back when it first was produced thanks to my sister who took me when I was a tween. Loved it, especially when the two huge cars drove on stage during A Weekend in the Country. I consider it my favorite Sondheim although the lyrics in Company are rather brilliant too. Btw I have never heard of Sharknado either and I first had NOSE for 45A. :-)

TJS 10:10 AM  

Hey @Rube, thanks for tip on how to do a crossword. I now realize I've been doing it the wrong way for the past fifty years. Really appreciate the advice.

Like @Roo, I had about 5 for sure answers on the first pass and thought this was going to be a real battle. Then everything started to flow. I think coming up wath Sharknado, of all things, was the door-opener. This solve went so fast that I had to check my time. 22 minutes for a Friday would usually disappoint me, but this puzzle was so clean taht I thoroughly enjoyed it.
@Z, how the hell does anybody miss what's going on in Lolita?

Wondering why Rex hates men so much.

Thinking of changing my name to Nacka Lu Lu Lu. Would it be Mr. Lu? Or Mr. Lu Lu? or...

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Pete,
It is a good opening graph. Here are ten better:
A Confederacy of Dunces
The Big Sleep
A Farewell to Arms
Moby Dick
The Haunting of Hill House
White Fang
Pride and Prejudice
American Tabloid
Brighton Rock
The Great Gatsby


Frantic Sloth 10:24 AM  

“I actually had BE_S and still no idea for a few seconds. Brain: ‘.... is it TEAM?’” cracked me up because it is SO how my mind works during stubborn mental block situations.

And what is it about the word PANTS that amuses me so? Of course Winnie lacks pants because he has a bear bottom. (Sorry!)

I really enjoyed this puzzle (well, except maybe for AKON whose one-word moniker makes perfect sense [EGAD that’s a long one!] and is someone wholly unknown to me and my rock-covered dwelling ways.)

@Z LOL for “ESCAPE ROOM above DEATH TRAPS seemed a little mean for anyone who is a little claustrophobic.”
@ Birchbark Now I’m going to have to look into “VelociPastor” and IDONTWANNA.
@ Nancy And you have me thinking about PLACE BO. Is that a new exercise fad?? Put Ms. Derek somewhere?? Or Mr. Jackson??

Somebody stop me.

Carola 10:31 AM  

Medium for me, taking just the right amount of time for maximum fun as answers gradually accreted. I found the top tier impenetrable, had brief hopes in the center that SONIC x EMIT would get me somewhere, then finally found solid footing in the bottom corners with SAUNA and SNAG and built my way up from there.
Help from previous puzzles: UTEP, GATS. No idea: AKON.

Solverinserbia 10:42 AM  

You have an anti-man, pro-woman bias; you read the constructor before starting; you proceed to compliment every woman's puzzle and trash lots of men's. Skip step two and see if you really find women's puzzles better in a blind experiment.

I liked the puzzle a lot. It fell quickly for me as a lot of the answers jumped out at me.

Swagomatic 10:43 AM  

I thought I was going to have an awesome Friday time, but I just could not get the happy tones. Finally, I realized I had TAXI crossing ETAIL, instead of MAXI and EMAIL. Duh! I ended up with above average Friday time. Oh well.

pmdm 10:49 AM  

So many others have expressed happiness with this puzzle that there's no need for me to echo that sentiment. Would that all themeless puzzles be as well crafted.

That said, I find no need to tack on a rant about anything, as happened in the write-up. A repetitive rant. But I will observe this. The job of the NYT crossword editor is to make sure published puzzles meet certain criteria. Many here disagree with the criteria, but whatever it is, that's what Mr. Shortz gets paid to do (enforce the standards). I have read somewhere that is a aware of the constructor gender problem and has made (obviously unsuccessful) attempts to eliminate the problem. Those complaining about Shortz seem to me to assume is doing nothing about the problem. I would prefer some proof that the assumption is backed by data. I know it's hard to present something that doesn't exist

I am concerned about gender bias, and it is not true that I could care less (or is it couldn't?) about who constructs the puzzles I solve. With that in mind, I think this essay is worth while for all those concerned with the problem to read. And it does include observations about this blog and Mr. Sharp.

http://theamericanreader.com/puzzle-trouble-women-and-crosswords-in-the-age-of-autofill/

Sorry that I don't have the time to to make the link clickable. Aibility to copy and paste into the browser is useful knowledge.

David 10:52 AM  

Another one here taught by his mother close to 60 years ago to do acrosses, then downs, then see what's what. Put me in the stocks. Or perhaps pillory me.

Another puzzle I liked, this is getting frighteningly common. Also that it seemed rather easy.

NW was the last to fall because I had "sibs" and "sots." Besides them, little hiccups were "tsk" before "tut". Tut's tomb was not looted; well, until the 1920s. Rainmakers are top salesmen, I've never heard they give out money. Didn't want edit film to be "re-cut" because that's a second or further edit. Yes to NaCl; I have zero problem with that as an answer.

Very nice clue for opal, and I see the foals are falling from females, so there's that.

Thanks for the nice diversion from the news sections.

Sam 10:54 AM  

Good grief.

TJS 10:54 AM  

@Pete, I'll take the final three paragraphs and last sentence of Gatsby against anything else I have ever read.

@Anon, 10:11; Thanks for reminding me of A Confederacy of Dunces. More laugh out loud moments than anything else I have ever read. John Kennedy Tooles' death was a great loss.

JC66 11:02 AM  

Since I'm no scientist ".4% of..." meant nothing to me so I first had NAiL at 45 A. 43D "Pine, for one" helped me smell out the correct solution.

@Nancy

Again, not a scientist, but I believe that in certain drug studies they divide the subjects into two groups. One group is given the drug and the other, the CONTROL group is given a PLACEBO.

Jstarrracewalker 11:12 AM  

I also enjoyed the puzzle, but really, your answers of “I AINT GONNA” and “I’M NOT GONNA” are better answers to the clue. “Can’t make me” is fat different than “don’t wanna”.

jb129 11:15 AM  

A great Friday - thank you Aimee

What? 11:17 AM  

I don’t want to restart an age old war (we have enough already) but you need to get a Mac. They’re more expensive than PCs but have better quality control.
Do not reply to this reply. We have Trump and coronavirus to worry about.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

well...
MAKE IT RAIN (again, so good) (52A: Give out cash freely)

nope. unless, of course, your of the pinko/socialist/commie persuasion. a rainmaker, MAKEs IT RAIN by bringing in business through means other than product superiority. generally, lying, connections, personality, gall and the like.

What? 11:20 AM  

Pretty easy for a Friday but also well done and enjoyable. I wish I could forget the whole thing and start over again.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

TJS,
Pretty sure his mother had to beg to get it published. All the experts passed in Toole's lifetime. He committed suicide. The novel of course went on to win a Pulitzer.
God save us from the wisdom of experts. And God his bless his mother for having more guts, taste and insight than any of the smacks in publishing.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@anon/11:20
God save us from the wisdom of experts.

OK. next time you need emergency surgery, have it done by the Orange Clown. and hurricane prediction too. and flu mortality rates. and interest rates. the list goes on and on. who needs experts when we have the Dear Leader's Gut to make Big Decisions?

not to mention that there's lots of fanzine drek that's really popular.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Generally liked it. Lots of good answers and clever cluing. It felt tough to me, but my time was average in the end. I spent a lot of time with a lot of open space in the NW and SE corners, but once I gave up on Nose for NACL, and pair for BEDS, it started to come together.

jrstocker 11:38 AM  

Just adding to the chorus that this thing was first rate.that this thing was first rate. Especially loved those corner 10 stacks.

Bravo.

Anoa Bob 11:39 AM  

With P_N_S in place at 20A, I thought the missing item for Winnie-the-Pooh was more anatomical than sartorial.



Billy Boy 11:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Whatsername 11:41 AM  

This was an exceptionally bright and fresh Friday. Kudos to Ms. Lucido who deserves all the high praise she is receiving today. But I dare say I am not the only NYTX subscriber who cares NADA about the gender of the creator, as long as it’s a good entertaining crossword. However on that subject, it seems most any constructor might have found a more respectable clue for FEMALES than “sows and cows.” I also can’t be the only person who’s ever heard those words used derogatorily toward women.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

"Making it rain" has a different usage in strip clubs. I was hoping @John X would explain it to y'all but he may be in jail again. I'LL keep this one "Anonymous".

Newboy 11:45 AM  

Soul before gram before NACL finally dropped! Not easy on this Friday. The crossing of NCAA & ESCAPE ROOM cluing alone was worth the money. A sparkling gem —diamond not OPALS—one might say. Thanks Aimee.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

@Rube, how are we supposed to find the "one answer" and work from it if we don't make a first run to begin with? And answers are not always absolute. A well constructed Friday crossword will always make you guess at a few.

Joaquin 12:03 PM  

I'm with @Rex on this anti-female culture thing. In fact, when I buy a new sweatshirt and there's a tag that says "Inspected by 6" I always investigate to find 6's gender so that my closet is equally represented. I am, however, concerned about Rex's lack of concern for the obvious dearth of transgender constructors.

Just thought I'd mention it; now I gotta get back to my safe space.

jae 12:09 PM  

Easy-medium. Excellent Fri. Plenty of sparkle with a bit of resistance in the NW. Liked it a bunch. Congrats to Aimee on her first NYT themeless.

...and it may just be me, but I found this week’s Mon. BEQ extremely tough! I took me three days of comments back to it to finish.

Pete 12:11 PM  

@TJS - I know the right answer to you is de gustibus... , but I can't help myself - With all respect and honor to you for even having a suggestion about the best snippet of writing ever, I cannot help but say No, No a thousand times NO! Just NO! First, who ever gets to the last page of Gatsby? I'd as soon believe that as that you've read all of Dickens, which no one in the history of the world - not he, not his mother, not anyone - has. But take on its own, it's the most overwrought bit of ersatz sentimentality I've ever seen. And nonsense to boot.

Carola 12:17 PM  

@pmdm 10:49 - Thank you for that article reference.

webwinger 12:22 PM  

@pmdm 10:49: The article you reference by Anna Shechtman is truly a gem; should be read by everyone who posts here and especially @Rex if he hasn’t already. I have to say, though, that while her analysis is brilliant, it does not IMO lead inevitably to the conclusion that gender bias is a major contributor to the relative scarcity of woman-constructed x-words. If anything, it left me feeling that the imbalance owes much more to other factors.

Nancy 12:30 PM  

Anon 10:11's list of best first lines in novels drove me to look up the first line of one of his mentioned books: A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES. Here's a novel I found charmless and totally unreadable back in my days at the Literary Guild, so I couldn't imagine how it had such a wonderful first line.

Spoiler alert -- it doesn't, at least not to me. I think its first line is bloody awful, to tell the truth. But I then was impelled to go back and look at other first lines considered really great. I found the most wonderful list at this site.

They're all so very different. But the best ones seem to have at least one of two common features: They propel you immediately into the heart of the story and/or they engender great curiosity on the part of the reader.

A note to @Pete: Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm not comfortable using a mouse. I have really small hands and a mouse forces you to put your hand in a completely unnatural position. I had a friend who got carpal tunnel system from using one at work and his hands were much bigger than mine. He couldn't play tennis for months. My handyman comes tomorrow at 11, and maybe he can adjust my keyboard's sensitivity for me.

@Quasi, re "Company" and "Night Music". I thought "Company" was a much more involving show than "Night Music". I was caught up in every scene and with every character. It never dragged. "Night Music" had scenes where my mind started to wander -- particularly the scenes involving Henry. The musical seemed too long and lacked pace. My mother claimed at the time that I fidgeted. Nevertheless, I also feel it has a much better score than "Company." Because I ran a theater book club and saw (for free) all shows very early in their run, "Send in the Clowns" was completely unknown to me when I first heard it. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I knew, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that that song was going to be HUGE.

Kathy 12:34 PM  

Finished but with the NECK error, but that was fine with me because I really enjoyed the puzzle. Like yesterday, abundant delicious misdirection.

I, too, thought the NACL clue required an abbreviation, perhaps “wt.”. But, on further consideration, I’m not sure that NA and CL are technically abbreviations, perhaps they are considered symbols. It’s been decades since I took chemistry. This is a technicality that I’ll defer to the veteran solvers’ opinions as to whether it is a violation. (Hand up for sciency/mathy things)

Puzzle gets an A from me!

Lolita 12:36 PM  

Thanks pmdm (10:49) for the cut & paste link. Worth the time and effort to shed light not heat on the gender issue. How does one create a hot link here?

gilly 12:36 PM  

Really dug it. Very easy, but I'm increasingly inclined to see that (especially on Fridays) as the sign of clean, well-constructed grid.

Perhaps it could've used a tougher/cuter clue here or there, but I'm fine with saving the EARTHSHATTERING DEATHTRAPS for Saturday's SCREENTESTs (I solve on my phone). Overall, this was a big WINN for me.

Joe Dipinto 12:37 PM  

@Nancy – I thought posting the whole song was too much just to get that one line, and the rest of the lyrics don't explain what it's referring to anyway; you have to be seeing (or have seen) the show to get it. But it is one of the best Act I finales in musical theater. (waves to @Quasi – maybe we saw it the same night!)

TJS 12:57 PM  

@Pete, I'm with ya on the "de gustibus" bit. Different strokes, and all that.

nyc_lo 1:07 PM  

Took me a bit to adjust to the tone of the clueing, but once I did, it was a fun ride. And it seems worth pointing out that, in his original depiction, Winnie the Pooh walked around buck naked. It was only Uncle Walt who decided he needed to go out into the world half-dressed.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

Earlier this week they missed the opportunity for a "Princess Bride" quote and today they missed quoting Marvin Martian for 33A: "Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an EARTH-SHATTERING kaboom!" (I have a little figurine of Marvin on my desk staring at me as I type).

I loved the 15A clue for EVIL. And my "Gotcha" for the day was 20D. Starting the puzzle at BOSSA nova and getting LOOTED next had me thinking something xBOx for "Controls, of a sort". Later, with ____CEBO_ in at 20D, I thought, "Ooh,ooh, juiCE BOx", like a fuse box, would work. But I never put it in and WINNie-the-Pooh's PANTS-less state broke me of that.

This was an easy, sub-12 minute Friday, but with lots of sparkle. Thanks, Aimee!

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

nancy,

My list was for best first paragraphs. Not best first lines. That's a much different list. Just sayin.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Anon 1:00,
It isn't.

albatross shell 1:35 PM  

@Roo
I'm sure there is a 12 step program for those who exhibit classic ACWB, Aberrant CrossWord Behavior. I did have a friend who solved crosswords long before I started who defined a "perfect solve" as one in which only the first entry was one with no crosses. I really should use your system because I often spend much time on a section only to find an answer I would have known with no crosses that I had somehow missed looking at. One of these days I'll get organized. Sure.

Seems like Rex-trolls are a growing force. I dump on him myself, but repetitive everyday BS, not complaining about what he said, but what he would say if blah blah. I guess your
shit don't stink.

Two of my favorite opening phrases (taken in tandem) are:
When in the Course of human events...
and
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,...

My musical comment on today's puzzle:

But the CIA and Jehovah
said blame it on the bossa nova

Unknown 1:38 PM  

To Lewis @ 6:38, but wait, they're both men.

old timer 1:42 PM  

One cheat here, for AKON. A very tough Friday otherwise. NACL had me for a while. Once I got that, I got SCENT for pine, and the answer to the question: What is a PLACE - something? Oh! PLACE BOS!! Cleverest clue in many moons.

Loved hat primer on SHARKNADOS.

Gio 2:08 PM  

@PMDM thanks for that link. Great article. I had no idea that a great amount of puzzles are software generated.
I had one cheat AKON. I got stuck in that section.
I also thought of make it rain in regard to strippers. What does that say about me?
I like: Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. It's a tie between Dante and the opening line of How I Met Your Mother.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

@Nancy -- Thanks for the link to the first sentence list. Bounced around in my chair when I saw one of my favorites, "The Last Good Kiss."

And to the poster who loves the end of Gatsby -- I'm with you. The older you get, the more time you spend beating against the current.

Birchbark 2:26 PM  

@Frantic Sloth (10:24) -- Full disclosure: I stopped watching "VelociPastor" about 20 minutes in. It just didn't live up to my expectations of what a dinosaur vigilante film could and should be.

Masked and Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Incredibly great puz fillins. How'd she do that?!?
M&A faves: SHARKNADO. BINGEWATCH. SIXTHSENSE. SUNDECK. PLACEBOS.

staff weeject pick: EPH. har - Bibically desperate. Ephesians.

Aimee darlin got them ?-clues out of her system real early, at 1- and 14-Across. Only other one I could spot was at 36-A, for ODE. Many other clues had a nice, fresh feel to them, tho. Made for an edgy solvequest. NCAA had the best almost-?-clue, IM&AO.
fave clue: {See the seasons pass quickly?} = BINGEWATCH.
Better EPH clue: {King, sans his Sten??}.

Didn't know/learned newly: AKON. Also, whatever the heck that ESA clue is talkin about.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Lucido. Slightly tough puz at our house, but caused absolutely no overturned furniture. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

JC66 3:21 PM  

@pmdm & @Nancy

Thank you both for the links.

Bobby 3:36 PM  

Loved this puzzle, except for one thing: 39A
Can we PLEASE not lend legitimacy to bullshit like "energy medicine"?
I realize they call themselves healers
But either use the clue for CHARLATAN or QUACK or FRAUD or clue it with something that is actually legit.
Please.

kitshef 3:41 PM  

Winnie-the-Pooh does wear a shirt in some of the original illustrations. I think just in cold weather. See for example In which Pooh and Piglet go Hunting and Nearly catch a Woozle. Possibly this extra warmth permitted Pooh to stay active throughout the winter, rather than hibernate.

Rube 3:53 PM  

Well since you asked... You can eyeball all the clues or start at 1 across or anywhere you like until you find a clue you think you know. Then you PROVE your response by getting a CROSS word to go with it and from there you go.

Now a well constructed Fri or sat puzzle should force you to get stuck a couple of times perhaps, and make you have to find another starting place. That's fine. But the idea of scrolling through all the acrosses or downs taking pot shots at answers is not what the solving experience should be. It becomes more like questions and answers.. more like Jeopardy perhaps.

Building the solution by having what seem like opaque clues reveal themselves as you solve is the fun.

QuasiMojo 4:37 PM  

“They threw me off the hay truck about noon." Postman Always Rings Twice, one of my faves. Great book too.

Agree @Nancy but I do like longueurs.

OffTheGrid 4:50 PM  

Glad to see your post. I was thinking the same.

sanfranman59 4:55 PM  

""SHARKNADO" is the "Godfather" of the 2010s"??? I'm really beginning to worry about OFL (or our culture ... or both?)

puzzlehoarder 5:00 PM  

An average Friday due solely to the northern tier. The NW stack was particularly brilliant.

The bottom two thirds went down like a Wednesday.

I haven't even looked at this week's Mon-Thur puzzles. In late March my sister and I are starting a through hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. The training is consuming me and puzzles are on the back burner. Currently I'm elevating my knees in a recliner trying to limit the swelling and wondering as always how I'm going to do it again tomorrow.

Jayhale 5:10 PM  

Can anyone help me with 47A

JC66 5:31 PM  

@Jayhale

BMWS are cars and I think Z4s and i3s are models.

Gio 5:54 PM  

Should I memorize the bible books and their abbreviations? All I could think of was EXO. On Jeopardy I usually guess Deuterotomy or Exodus and get it right.
POOH usually wears a red shirt, but he's never seen wearing pants. I loved that clue.
@puzzlehoarder if your knees are swelling, you should make tomorrow a rest day. I know what it's like to push and train, I was an ultra endurance athlete for 22 years. I wrecked my body, thus why I'm here lying on the couch doing crossword puzzles. That hike sounds amazing though. Good luck and enjoy!

pmdm 6:04 PM  

In response to a question, one creates a hot link in this blog the same way you create a hot link on a web page: use the HTML syntax.
The HTML syntax also works if you want part or all of your comment to appear boldface or italic. Some time ago Z explained how to do this (if my memory serves me right). I'm to lazy to repeat the tutorial.

I'm very happy to read the comments thanking me for the post. You are all welcome.

Z 6:07 PM  

@sanfranman59 - I think Rex was joking.

@webwinger - It’s 11:00 pm and the lights go out. Do you figure out why? Find a candle? Or sit in the dark making sure everyone knows you didn’t turn the lights off? What Rex is doing is pointing out that the lights are off. What Agard and Inkubator are doing is lighting the candle. What the article does is speculate on the whys. What Shortz did was sit in the dark.

More Shechtman, this time talking with Agard.

How to embed a link. Use the HTML example. Make sure you don’t use smart quotes (“ “). Use these (" "). Use the preview function to make sure it is going to work.

webwinger 7:34 PM  

Inexplicably missing from the list of great literary openings referenced by @Nancy 12:30:

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself in his bed transformed into an enormous cockroach. [F. Kafka, The Transformation]

And (with some trepidation):

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm... [M. Mitchell, Gone with the Wind]

@Z 6:07: Thanks for the link to instructions for embedding links.

Re your comment for me, without intending disrespect, I must say I have no idea what you mean.

Re my thoughts on Lolita 8:47: I read the book on my own, without guidance from an instructor. Also read Nabokov’s other books Laughter in the Dark (considered a precursor of Lolita), in which a very young woman clearly takes advantage of the middle-aged protagonist, and Pale Fire, in which the unreliability of the narrator is glaringly obvious. I don’t claim to be a literary scholar, but think I’m justified in my views.

Apologies for this long late post. Assume it won’t be read by many.

Anonymous 8:00 PM  

Really well done.
Engaging and smooth, but not easy.
Perfect.

RexParkerLikesToS***OnThings 9:02 PM  

Regarding Thursday's puzzle - "That puzzle was a technical marvel, in its way, but those puzzles always feel like puzzbros (virtually always guys) showing off for other puzzbros"

Michael Sharp sees a puzzle that makes a reference to science and thinks - this... this is a puzzle that excludes women.

Nancy 9:04 PM  

@puzzlehoarder -- Didn't you quite recently undergo knee replacement surgery? If your knees are swelling from strenuous daily training for a long and demanding hike/climb, maybe they're trying to tell you something. Like don't train and don't do the climb. I know you're a former fire fighter and very brave, but wisdom is an important attribute, too, @puzzlehoarder. Listen to your knees. They don't seem all that eager to carry you up the Pacific Crest trail, to tell the truth. And I know what that trail is like: I read the Cheryl Strayed book, "Wild" and saw the movie. Remember -- Cheryl hadn't had knee replacement surgery.

Z 10:21 PM  

@webwinger - Sorry, totally my fault. You wrote, "If anything, it left me feeling that the imbalance owes much more to other factors." The preface to my comment that I didn't write but should have (and that I'm sure would have been very eloquent if I had) was that the reason for the imbalance is irrelevant to me. I got so excited by my beautiful metaphor that I forgot to explain why I was using it. I might go even a step further and say worrying too much about why the lights are out can result in sitting in the dark longer than necessary.

As for Lolita - I use "consensus interpretation" for a reason. Literature is easily reinterpreted all the time and I don't subscribe to the "one correct reading" idea or even that what the author intended is what a work is actually about. The example of the latter that always sticks in my mind was having finished The Old Man and the Sea and reading that Hemingway claimed there was no religious symbolism in the book. Hemingway pretty obviously didn't realize just how much religious symbolism was in that book (or he was trolling us). I subscribe to the consensus view on Lolita. That doesn't mean we are right, or that in 20 years an entirely different consensus view might not be dominant.

Finally, if you had an email link in your profile I could have sent this that way instead of inflicting my musings on the rest of the universe.

Since I'm here -

@puzzlehoarder - What @Nancy is saying is, I am the Nancy who speaks for the knees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please! You should listen to her.

Anonymous 10:44 PM  

IMO, this was a Saturday puzzle masquerading as a Friday one.

I found the whole thing unpleasant, ugly even. If this one was "clever" then I guess I should just throw my pencil away.

"NACL" is not a word in English (nor in any other language I'm aware of).

PS: I don't care about the gender of the constructor, ever! It is, or ought to be, irrelevant.


CT2Napa 2:10 AM  

surprised that no one suggested that "eph" be clued as "Williams alum"

Bill Millions 4:43 AM  

What Sam said, amen.

Joe Dipinto 11:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
tea73 2:00 PM  

Favorite first lines:

"Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
“Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,”
"It was a dark and stormy night."
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."
“Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”
"If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die." (not a novel, but still a favorite of mine.)

Lovely puzzle, but too easy. I did think there should be a hint that NACL was an abbreviation, but wasn't fooled by other body parts luckily.

SRD 4:56 PM  

I share your views about the puzzboys showing off for other puzzboys. I used to do a lot of puzzles in the 1970s-80s, and it seems there were more female constructors then. Margaret Farrar was an icon to me. I tried my hand at construction but never got the hang of it. It's not easy to do!

Question: What does Mast have to do with Boom?

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

Rex,
You've completely musunderstand what Lent is for.
I'll pray for you.

Burma Shave 11:12 AM  

NEST TEST

LOLITA is on ALIST of FEMALES
who are EVIL and IDON'TWANNA SEE,
her BED’S a DEATHTRAP in the details;
that HEADHUNTER won’t be the BOSSA me.

--- ART LEE WINN

spacecraft 2:30 PM  

Hand up for NeCk, which very nearly strangled me. For a long time I thought the pyramids were footed...I guess all of them are, come to that. And then that book just wouldn't come. After many minutes of staring, I finally hit on LOLITA, starring DOD and one-trick pony Sue Lyon. A gigantic aha! moment.

The other SE hangup was 52a, when I couldn't uncouple the T from TRAIN in my thinking. MAKE IT RAIN; if that's supposed to be a euphemism for giving out cash it's a new one on me. Of course, anyone who does so is an extreme rarity, so I'm not surprised that I never heard it. There was that midwestern millionaire--was it Ross?--who said "He who gives while he lives also knows where it goes." There oughta be more like him.

I'm confused about the term COPARENTS. Aren't all parents "CO-?" This looks like the very definition of green paint to me. There's COPARENTS and then RENTACOPS. Hmmm.

I wouldn't call this EARTHSHATTERING, but it is good. Friday-tough for the SE alone. Birdie.

rondo 3:23 PM  

I had one dumb write-over having an amp instead of a MIC, otherwise quite a smooth solve. Gee, even OFL liked it, practically euphoric.

One of my best high school friends was a guy named LEE, but there are a bunch of FEMALES also named LEE: LEE Grant, LEE Merriwether, LEE Remick, etc. Pick one.

This puz is a WINNer.

rainforest 3:29 PM  

A fine lead-up to Saturday. A well-constructed puzzle that teases the brain and is fair throughout. Basically easy from the NE all the way down the East side, including the grid-spanner, the SE was a little stiffer, but the SW was somewhat quicker to fall.

Moving up the West side to the NW there were tricky/excellent clue/answers all the way.

I had a lot of fun finishing this puzzle, and am now looking toward Saturday.

leftcoaster 3:44 PM  

Very good long acrosses and downs made this easier than it first appeared. Shorter fill wasn't bad either, even with another of OREO's appearances, helped by a fresh enough clue.

In the NW corner, BEDS and BINGEWATCH were good starts to finish off that area.

In the SE, the challenge was to MAKEITRAIN crossed by the unknown AKON, the K being the last letter in. Also in that corner, was sure that SNub clued as "Slight problem" was a much better answer than SNAG. But no, was forced to fix it with a "slight" cheat.

Enjoyed this clever, relatively easy puzzle, though a bit disappointed by the snag and still favor the snub.


Anonymous 9:46 PM  

I made the high "TEAS" mistake, and with NA*L put NAIL so I'm there with Rex. I really wanted 39A to have "reiki" in it somewhere. Healers feels very generic to me and I'm not sure it's appropriately clued in that there are energy healers but there are other kinds of healers and even medical professionals are healers.

Overall, though, a great puzzle. Really enjoyed it.

Dave A 8:50 PM  

Guess I’m the only one with some issues here...29 A is to re-edit a film (RECUT)...editing is cutting. Married couples with kids are also CO-PARENTS (9D)...some other quibbles here but that’s just me. Liked the freshness but almost seems forced...and MAKE IT RAIN (52A) is over ten years old...fresh for the puzzle but not IRL (which is also dated!) Solved it without a problem which is good for me on a Friday...just started jumping back in...and there SHOULD be more women constructors so YAY on that

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