Hawaiian raw fish dish / FRI 6-26-20 / Mother of Hamnet Shakespeare / Love of Tony in hit 1978 song

Friday, June 26, 2020

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium (4:46)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: KITTEN HEELS (22D: They can give you a bit of a lift) —
kitten heel is a short stiletto heel, usually from 3.5 centimeters (1.5 inches) to 4.75 centimeters (1.75 inches) high, with a slight curve setting the heel in from the back edge of the shoe. The style was popularized by Audrey Hepburn, and recent followers of the fashion include Theresa MayMichelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
Shoes with kitten heels may be worn at work in an office setting by people who wish to wear feminine attire that is still practical. For parties, kitten heels are an alternative for those who find high heels uncomfortable. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is the Friday puzzle I keep talking about. The type that I live for. The type that I hope to encounter on Friday, so I can get the various recent themed disappointments out of my head. Wash the blues away! On Friday, I want a fresh, fun, bouncy grid that I can spar with for 4 to 7 minutes. I don't want your stunt grids, your structural feats, your whatever the hell you are doing to the grid to try to look cool or different when all you're really doing ultimately is creating dazzle camouflage to mask your weak fill and distract from a substandard solving experience. Nothing under 68 words, thank you very much. 70 or 72 preferred. And cleeeeean. Friday has the best potential every week to be The Best Day, and as I've said many times, if I could choose just one Friday constructor, I'd want Weintraub on that byline. Today's puzzle had everything I could ask for. Note that it also had junk like HES and STET and ABBR and weirdly plural OUZOS, but then note how I don't ****ing care because I'm too busy enjoying all the delightful answers dancing across the grid. Now maybe you're thinking, "YOU'VE CHANGED, man!" Well no. No I have not. These have been my themeless values all along. Why the NYTXW can't produce puzzles this current and fun every weekend, I don't know. Not my fault. DON'T LOOK AT ME.

["YOU'VE CHANGED ... your place in this world"]

Seriously look at all these long answers, covering such a wide variety of subjects. You get a COOL BREEZE in your PRIVATE BOX and then later you meet a FIELD MOUSE on your ESCAPE ROUTE (No I don't know what your escaping from, maybe something bad happened at the ballgame you, just roll with it...). My proudest moment, by far, was having the K-TT at the front end of 22D: They can give you a bit of a lift and thinking "KITTEN? ... are KITTEN HEELS a thing!? Let's try that!" And pow, right answer! I must've heard the term somewhere before, so I'd like to thanks my brain for actually retaining something useful for once. A RARE TREAT! Having KITTEN on the brain lately probably also helped.

May 17, 2020
June 25, 2020
Everyone thinks they're RAVENCLAW but a lot of y'all are Hufflepuff and that's OK. Own it! I had most trouble, weirdly-not-weirdly, with the worst stuff in the grid: ABBR. (25D: Ph.D., for one) and HES (46A: Ganders, e.g.) and STET (48D: Decide to keep after all), but the trouble was never considerable. VAUNT also eluded me for a bit (20A: Acclaim), mostly because I never use VAUNT and I never use "Acclaim" as a verb. Wasn't sure about the first letter in DALES (21A: Low-lying areas). Aren't VALES low-lying as well? Had STOP IN before STOP BY (23A: Visit). Just whiffed on the STONER clue (28A: One taking the high road?). That might've been the last thing I put in the grid. It's possible that some people will have trouble with the POKE / PEELE crossing, but you really should know Jordan PEELE by now (42D: "Get Out" director). Prominent director, great name for crosswords. He'll be in grids for decades. I appreciate this clue for POKE (42A: Hawaiian raw fish dish). And now I'm hungry and it's way too late for me to eat so now I'm sad. I'll just think some more about this puzzle and maybe the sadness will go away.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

145 comments:

jae 12:13 AM  

Easy-medium. Delightful, just delightful with some excellent long downs. Robin gives us a couple of her original clues in her Xwordinfo comments and they are much more fun. Couldn’t agree more with @Rex!

Frantic Sloth 12:15 AM  

*{From yesterday: OMG - CATS All the cat pics on here warm my heart, too! Didn't mean to doggie-dodge the kittehs!}

As for today: Enter Robyn Weintraub, QOF. Speaking of a RARETREAT...well, maybe not "rare" exactly, but definitely not often enough. The TREAT part is a no-brainer, which is why I get it.

How did this not make POW? I realize it's a subjective rating system, but dayum! What's a body goddy do?

The longer words were not at all obscure - actually rather "every-dayish" and yet certainly not your run-of-the-mill-fill. Still, it kills my will to spill swill (about it). Right, GILL? Even Milli Vanilli would get a thrill from it.

Oof. I'm ill. Got a chill.

Seriously, really enjoyed its chewy goodness. More, please!

🧠🧠.75
πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

Harryp 12:15 AM  

The best thing about long 10, 11 word answers is that you can speculate on them and get breakouts; enough breakouts and the puzzle falls. I had Dole before Kemp, and when I googled them later, found that not only was Dole Kemps running mate, but he also ran for Veep earlier in his career. I wanted cool brewski for 11D, but it was too long, tried Motel at 29A, but had no problem with 42A POKE, one of my favorite foods.

Joaquin 12:16 AM  

Holy smokes! I thought I was reading a post by @Lewis; turns out it was Rex.

I wasn't as thrilled as Rex, but I did learn something new (MONAD) so that's always a plus in my book.

egsforbreakfast 12:19 AM  

Well, you gotta admit that Rex was right on on this one. Robyn Weintraub is the bees knees. I was particularly turned on by her analysis of the puzzle as being full of (edited out) “gratuitous sex and violence” (see constructor notes). I think a ton of it actually stayed in. ANGOLA MOTELS ...ATHENA POKE ... KNEED GINA ... PRIVATEBOX ...DONT LOOK AT ME. all of it, IMHO gloriously INXS. A lovely, gnarly struggle to the end. Love and kisses to the best constructor currently working. Thank you Robyn.

Azzurro 12:43 AM  

I don’t know about this one. ASPICS crossing ABBR was pretty awful, and I have come to expect better from Ms. Weintraub.

Also, I lived near Venice for a while and never heard an Italian use ESSA as a personal pronoun. You might find it in archaic texts or southern dialects, but not in the Veneto. Clues should not sacrifice accuracy just to be cute.

manitou 12:50 AM  

Jordan Peele is also executive producer, narrator and sometimes writer of the new Twilight Zone, season 2 of which dropped today! I wish it were clued that way, but good timing nonetheless.

RAD2626 1:10 AM  

Totally agree with Rex comments. See Robyn’s name and know the puzzle will be a delight. Enough clues to make you think and lots of aha moments. Wish Patrick Berry were still a regular NYT contributor because he always hit that chord but Robyn is a wonderful successor. She could have a permanent themeless slot as far as I am concerned.

LenFuego 2:10 AM  

This was definitely a "Difficult" for me. The entire Eastern part just would not come.

While I agree there is very little junk fill, very few of the longer answers brought me any actual joy either. PRIVATEBOX? DONTLOOKATME? COOLBREEZE? ALLPURPOSE? FIELDMOUSE? Meh, meh, meh, meh and meh.

Nor did I find much of the cluing delightful. EDEN for "Garden with fruit trees"? Really? The salient feature of the Garden of Eden is that it had fruit trees? COME for "Join us"? Again, meh.

It was all very competent, and there was certainly nothing wrong with it. But delights or thrills? They were just not there for me.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

Rex, just give your kitty a little boop on her nose and all your sadness will disappear. Works every time.

Love, love, love Robin’s puzzles and this one was also a TREAT. Started out on the slow side, but answers started falling like dominos once I got going. My only really rough spot was throwing down a salad at 25A. Left that in far too long. ASPICS are nasty, gelatinous messes that never should have been invented, just my opinion. Finally got that little area sorted and I was home free.

okanaganer 2:51 AM  

I was indeed annoyed by the never-heard-of-either POKE / PEELE crossing, but guessed the P correctly. (Rex, I "should" know lots of things I don't. Just ask my 17 year old great niece.) "He'll be in grids for decades"? Betcha 5 bucks no. We'll settle up in 30 years. You'll need the name of the executor of my estate...

MONAD??? Aunty Wikipedia sounds similar to most other sources: "A design pattern that allows structuring programs generically while automating away boilerplate code needed by the program logic". (That would be a really long clue.) I have decades of experience in computer scripting languages but the subsequent elaborations in that article don't help me.

FIELD MOUSE. I used to live in a picker's cabin (official zoning label) in an Okanagan apple orchard, which my cat (imaginatively named by me "Kitty") loved. On one memorable occasion, I let her in the door late at night, but she was walking strangely. Turned out she was carrying a mouse. "Kitty, no.." too late. She dropped the mouse and it scurried away, ending up under the book case. Somewhat later, after no progress tracking down said mouse, I retired to bed, hoping for the best. No dice. Hours later I awakened, lying on my back, to the sight of Kitty standing on my chest proudly holding in her mouth... said mouse. "No" I said. Of course Kitty dropped the mouse onto my chest, and it scurried away to... who knows where. Ensue an hour of looking for said mouse, Kitty really enjoying the chase, and pointing the way to.. the bookcase. Sat in wait for.. well, ages. Finally mouse emerged, causing a comic pursuit in which I, wielding a spatula, eventually struck said mouse a crippling blow. Chucked it outside, to Kitty's dismay, and went to work at the regular hour. Just another day in the orchard.

Kitty and I lived happily ever after, except fot that unfortunate incident with the quail...

Loren Muse Smith 3:47 AM  

Robyn – the effusive praise must be so embarrassing. Sheesh. Seriously – another stellar offering. I don’t know how you do it!

YOU’VE CHANGED. Someone leads with that, I’ma get a little nervous. It could be really good: you’ve stopped doing the vocal fry – or bad: you’ve become a preachy vegan.

FIELD MOUSE hurt. @okanaganer- in my new house, I park my car in the carport right next to the dog food. This ends badly. Like at the Kia dealership in Mooresville, NC thinking some kind of belt was broken. Nope. The furry little pest met its demise in this drum, this comfortably inviting HOMEY white thing associated with my AC fan. I asked if there was some way to seal that off from future ick, and they said that it’s so common the mechanics call that thing the hamster wheel. $300 later, I’m rethinking where to put the dog food. I’ve learned now that this is a Thing out in the country. One student told me he had a mouse run across his foot *while driving*. Let that sink in.

“They’re full of endless drama” – SOAP OPERAS, sure. But honestly get any group of humans together, be they teachers, bank tellers, volunteer fire fighters, crossword blog commenters, family members. . . you’ve got drama out the wazoo. It’s what we do.

I don’t mind an ALL-PURPOSE cleaner so long as it smells like serious kick-ass cleaner. No vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda for me, buddy. I want to smell industrial, nostril-coating chemicals in my cleaned bathroom. Pine-Sol, Comet, Bleach.

Not that anyone cares, but since this is a blog about words, I’ll remind you that we have this new verb for toasting. For a ton of people now, MADE A TOAST to is synonymous with cheersed.

We toasted the bride and groom.
We cheersed the bride and groom.

I keep checking to see if Merriam Webster has updated the word yet, but no. I think the definition writers rely more on edited, published language for verification, and cheers used this way is still mainly spoken. Fingers crossed.

I think my life is complete now that I know where a Kiwi’s nostrils are. Actually that birds even have nostrils is startling. The word nostril itself is usually startling; it’s my go-to word to use for N when I’m spelling my first name for someone on the phone. Ya know, just trying to mix things up. I also like L as in laconic and O as in opossum. But I never get a rise out of anyone.

“Exit strategy”= ESCAPE ROUTE. Here’s the deal. If a friend asks you to help them move (OOF), you say absolutely you can help but BUT you have to have an exit strategy. This friend will tell you that everything is packed and ready to load and the move should just take about three hours. This friend is lying to you. Several rooms including the kitchen are not packed yet, and the move will actually last into the Biden administration. So you say you’re happy to help, but you have to leave by noon to [insert prior commitment]. That way you help and maintain your good friend status, but you get to leave after about four hours, while someone is running to the grocery store om search of boxes for the kitchen stuff.

Teresa 4:31 AM  

Hm, I actually didn't like this one at all, mostly due to strange cluing. What parent would answer with the single word "Soon" when the question was "Are we there yet?" and not "WHEN are we going to be there?" Sorry, I've done way too much editing to accept that from the NYT. It could so easily have been better clued.

Why on earth is there an ellipsis in "[That is ... rough!]"? Eh? It adds nothing but confusion.

Just as Rex doesn't like to see certain references in the puzzle as though they're being celebrated, I wonder that about stoners.

And too many answers are just random phrases. There's nothing special about 'em.

Now on to the blog: you younger readers or those who never had grammar and spelling in school, please note that this unfortunate line " ... I don't know what your escaping from ... " is simply not correct. I know Rex knows better. That's why it pains me. Blame auto-correct. That's why I proofread what I write. (I would anyway. I'm stuck with that.) Please ignore this paragraph if he's fixed it by now.

Sigh. Maybe the Saturday will cheer me up. [Trudges off, grumbling to self.]

Teresa 4:39 AM  

PS to Chefwen (2:48) THANK YOU!! I was first served a tomato aspic when I was about 12 and have never gotten over the shock. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. Your description of them was perfect.

Loren Muse Smith 5:25 AM  

@Teresa – Aw man, ya gone and done it now. I will always come to the defense of anyone here who is grammar shamed.

Rex mis-typed. We all do.

Is

" ... I don't know what your escaping from ... "

really less clear than

" ... I don't know what you’re escaping from ... " ??

So what have you accomplished by publically correcting his grammar? Well. Hmm. I guess if he were so inclined, he’d be embarrassed. I imagine he’s not at all. I say we just overlook little its/it’s issues, lie/lay issues. . . and understand that this is a place for casual typing.

Besides, if we did agree to make this place a grammar classroom, whose rules do we follow? No one would ever agree. Case in point - you're a person who cares about grammar "rules," but I imagine a few sticklers will bristle at your due to instead of owing to, a distinction that, though disappearing, is one that some people still insist on.

ZenMonkey 6:13 AM  

Yes! I love a fun Friday workout. A RARE TREAT these days.

28A first baffled and then tickled me, for the same relevant reason. (Still came in about 3 minutes below my average.)

Ari Stotle 6:16 AM  

THIS was a beautiful puzzle. Like the man said, fresh and clean. So lacking in crosswordese and other tired old stuff. And though this was one of my fastest Friday times, it still managed to challenge and surprise.

ChuckD 6:17 AM  

ABBR, ESE and HES crossing ESSA used as glue in a Weintraub offering - no way. I think we may be seeing the bloom off the rose due to overexposure. Her usual crunchy and fun Friday longs replaced with ESCAPE ROUTE and FIELD MOUSE? I don’t see how Rex praises this one. Please keep the kid lit references out of my puzzle - I’ve never read those books. Surprised Rex didn’t call foul on the author for her recent gender argument charade.

On the other hand I did like the ATHENA and STONER clues and interesting to see MONAD clued that way - I really only know it from data structures.

Not a terrible puzzle - easy for a Friday - but just not at a level of what I’m used to from the constructor.

sf27shirley 6:19 AM  

This story should not be read while sipping coffee....

amyyanni 6:25 AM  

Love this puzzle. Hit the Friday sweet spot. Alfie is such fun. Thanks for the photos Rex. TGIF, I guess.

Lewis 6:40 AM  

Often the star in Robyn's puzzle is the cluing, but today it's the fresh sparkling answers. There were eight NYT debuts -- all stellar -- and six of them made me wonder, 'How could these never have been in a Times puzzle before?": COOL BREEZE, DON'T LOOK AT ME, PRIVATE BOX, RARE TREAT, ROLL AGAIN, and YOU'VE CHANGED. (The other two being RAVEN CLAW and the marvelous KITTEN HEELS.)

That is remarkable freshness. That gives puzzles zing, makes them feel like they just came out of the box. Brava, Robyn.

Your resident alphadoppeltotter started tracking double letters three years ago, with the category "Unusually High" defined as more than 20 in a puzzle. That has not happened yet, aside from a couple of theme-related times, but there have been two puzzles with 20, the last in mid-2018. Today Robyn hit the 20 mark, and that's worth a VAUNTed mention.

I saw your name, Robyn, and thought, "Yay! She's back!" And after today's puzzle, I'll say the same thing next time, maybe even a touch louder. Thank you!

QuasiMojo 6:42 AM  

I'm with Teresa today. This seemed a bland Friday puzzle. The clueing at times is flat and more like a quiz than an exercise in wordplay. I want to think on a Friday, not just fill in blanks. An example is "Some TripAdvisor listings" -- MOTELS. Yawn. ON A Mission? Big Name in Water Filters: BRITA. Honored Newlyweds: MADE A TOAST. Dull, dull, dull.

Does one eat Pig in a POKE?

Rex, PEELE might be a talented director but "Get Out" is hardly proof of that claim. It's way overrated.

mark in VA 6:44 AM  

Slow start, but once it tipped it fell pretty quick. Quick and almost entirely clean. Delighted that my one overwrite was PEN (because I do) before APP (because I don't).

GILL I. 6:49 AM  

The joy on my face when I saw Robyn coming out of my printer.....let me count the ways.....
Tickle my fancy, yes, you do.
Well, I started lickety split but I had some ohs and uhs. Did anyone else have LAUDE instead of VAUNT at 20A? I moved on. Life is too short and we must look for fun. I did. I moved down to the basement area and came across MONAD. At first I had HONAD and then my mind started wandering (surprise). Have you heard the newest ad on "hypogonadism" ? I'm only bringing it up because my husband and I were watching "Judge Judy" and this ad comes on about gonads. I wonder if lawyers are lining people up who've used talcum powder on their gonads and now suffer. Oh wait...it's MONAD...wrong ad.
Then I'm thinking of my friend @chewfwen and her ASPIC. Hey, have you ever tried one with leftover ham and pork? My Jewish friends love it......
OK, so I get to KITTEN HEELS and my feet begin to hurt. I have lots of shoes and yet I hate to wear them. What's up with that? I've been called "Big Foot" more than I care to admit. Try fitting into heels when your shoe size is a ten. KITTEN, really?
My only real pause was the clue for 46A and the ganders. I think geese or eyes. Why is HES the answer?
I would've like ANNE to have been clued with green gables.

Hungry Mother 7:04 AM  

MONAD saved me from a bad trip to Natick. Luckily, I read Leibniz’ “Monadology” while I should have been proving theorems in graduate school.

Josh 7:08 AM  

Still trying to figure out why "Ganders" should mean HES. ... like, a gander is a male goose, and plural "he" is "hes"?

Lorelei Lee 7:12 AM  

Hmmmm, I think I'm more in the @LenFuego school of thought here.

Struggled in the East, fruit trees in Eden, no real junk, but not a lot of joy. Kinda like a trip to Mom's (no offense you crossword loving octogenarian), what with the all purpose cleaners, soap opera, wool sweaters in the summer (this air conditioning!), and aspics.

Angola always reminds me of the Dream Team Charles Barkley when asked how much he knew about the the country whose team they were about to play, "I don't anything know about Angola but Angola's in trouble." Which makes me realize that I missed Inside the NBA more than the actual NBA this year. Hilarity and joy.

Conrad 7:33 AM  


@LMS: N is for Nostril? No way. N is for Newel post. And K is for Knife. At least according to the Nichols and May Phonetic Alphabet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q9f7x5TA50

TTrimble 7:38 AM  

I got tripped up with eclat before I found VAUNT. Pretty sure I've never used "vaunt" in my life. "Much vaunted", sure.

I also thought of Dole before KEMP. KITTEN HEELS was new to me, but once I had all but the first letter, the choices were pretty limited.

I agree that ABBR and HES (the last to fall for me) are pretty goofy.

@okanaganer The MONAD you looked up is, I would guess, the conceptual construct from theoretical computer science, associated especially with Haskell. (That's the programming language, not the fella associated with the BEAV: Haskell Curry was a 20th century logician.) I happen to know the term from mathematics, as it's a fundamental concept in my area. But ultimately the term comes from philosophy, especially the metaphysics of Leibniz, which is what the cluing refers to: it was his alternative to the theory of atoms.

I'm not as gaga over the puzzle as some of the commentariat, but at least I posted a better-than-personal-average time, after a rough start: OOF.

JJK 7:41 AM  

This was hard for me but I liked it alot and agree both with all the kudos to Robyn and with Rex that this is how Friday should be.

Not to sound churlish, but I do wish Rex would quit talking about his solving times. a. I don’t care, and b. his times are so ridiculously low that I wonder how he can possibly enjoy any puzzle. And as someone who does the puzzle every day and regularly takes 20 to 30 minutes (or so) after mid-week, I find Rex’s timing notations annoying. How does he even type that fast? Or write I suppose. Anyway, maybe most of y’all find this to be part of the fun, I don’t.

Ben Coe 7:45 AM  

Kitten heels is a stupid an terrible clue. Nobody has ever used that term. If they have then screw them. I thought we crossword folks hated stupid clues that nobody ever actually said or wrote?

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Kitten heels is stupid. Nobody has ever said or written that phrase except maybe one person. It has no place in a crossword puzzle.

Z 7:48 AM  

Just whiffed on the STONER clue. Har!

My brain was stuck in first gear for awhile, so at one point I had this beautiful pinwheel grid, LAST STRAW/RARE TREAT/ROLL AGAIN/RAVENCLAW being almost the only answers I’d written in. But, hey, what a great start and my solve accelerated from there. Personal favorite clue today was the one for CON.

I feel like we had KITTEN HEELS here not that long ago. I can’t imagine any other reason I’d know that answer.

@Josh - Yep, one HE two HES. OOF.

Z 7:50 AM  

@JJK - Answer 6 in the FAQs.

Lewis 7:51 AM  

@RAD -- Read Jeff Chen's commentary on this puzzle in XwordInfo.com today. He has an insightful comparison of Robyn and Patrick.

TTrimble 8:11 AM  

@JJK I sympathize with your thoughts about Rex's times. (I must admit to allowing myself a Schadenfreude-laden wriggling of the lips whenever I see that he couldn't bring himself to write down his time for the day, because it took him much longer than usual. I think it could be good for his soul if he did.) What especially puzzles me is how he can still post insane times even when he reports getting stuck at various points in the puzzle. Hard to make sense of it.

Also somewhat annoying is when he tells us that it would have taken him a minute or so less, but for the fact that he took a drink (like his Negroni the other day) or was otherwise distracted -- and seems almost to suggest that we think of his hypothetical time as the true time.

(Sorry, Rex: it's true.)

Carola 8:15 AM  

This was kind of a BREEZE for a Friday puzzle, I thought, with the easy long Downs offering plenty of crossing opportunities. I liked the conversational pairing of YOU'VE CHANGED and DON''T LOOK AT ME, and the interspecies body-part cross of RAVENCLAW and KITTENHEELS.

Re: 20A - For years I've been copy-editing the program bios for a local summer music festival, and you might be surprised at how many artists' submissions start off, "Acclaimed as one of...," "Acclaimed throughout...," "Acclaimed by the...," etc. This is when they're not being "Hailed." Anyway, I enjoyed writing in VAUNT - great word, and it gave me a smile thinking of it as an as yet unused third introductory word.

One do-over: stoa before MALL.

Teresa 8:21 AM  

@Loren, sorry, we'll have to disagree on this. I'm replying in defense of Rex. Shaming is the last thing I'd want to do to him, nor do I have the slightest need to stoop so low. I clearly stated that I realize he knows better and that auto-correct was to blame.

My concern was for the many who don't seem to understand the distinction between "your" and "you're" and "they're", "there" and "their", probably because these differences, which actually do matter, don't seem to be taught any more, leaving students to flounder. If they happened upon one of these written the wrong way on a blog like Rex's, they'd have every reason to assume it's correct, exactly because he knows his way around the English language.

As for my own error in word choice, sure, there are plenty of things I'm not certain of, and I'm happy to learn something new. Let me have it! (In fact, I initially wrote "based on" before changing it to the ignominious "due to".)

Go on writing your funny stuff and making me laugh. If we can't be grammar buddies, we can still be humor buddies. Deal?

pabloinnh 8:32 AM  

Leibniz? Really? Personally, I will always associate the word MONAD with Teilhard de Chardin, because it's the only time I've ever seen it and it was about the only term I almost understood when I was trying to decipher M. de Chardin's amazingly complex world view. Haven't thought of him in fifty years or so, and unless MONAD shows up again sometime, probably am done with him forever.

I'm with @Z in thinking KITTENHEELS showed up not too long ago. Didn't know it then and still don't know what they look like. As old friend Burns would say, "I wouldn't know one if I ate it in my soup.".

The FIELDMOUSE is just a fact of life around here. We've had outdoor cats who delivered their prey in various stages of the end-of-the-chase and dealt with trying to locate them before their inevitable demise. Not much fun.

I'm in the RW Fan Club and always enjoy her stuff. Rockin' Robyn indeed.

JEPlanet 8:37 AM  

So fun, I love her puzzles, start smiling when I see her name!

Nancy 8:44 AM  

This RARE TREAT of a puzzle is guaranteed to PEP UP your morning and I want to ECHO those who have already MADE A TOAST to it. But unlike many here, I found it neither "Easy" nor "Medium". I found it very hard and I KNEEDed to keep all my wits about me to solve it.

The very first answer I wanted to write in was YOU'VE CHANGED (5D), but not one of its 12 letters was I able to confirm at that point. Now that's really unusual. The nicely clued PRAMS (6D) was first answer in, but then that "P" didn't give me SOAP OPERAS, alas. It gave me something-or-other PLAYS, which loused me up big time in the NW.

Speaking of louse, I had something-or-other LOUSE before FIELD MOUSE for the furry little pest. Speaking for myself, I would find lice much pest-ier than mice.

When you don't know Harry Potter, you have to guess at how the author, who's so good at naming stuff, would name this particular thing. I guessed the "R" of RAVEN and now had a "C" I didn't know how to complete. I'm thinking RAVEN COVE, but when I finally got LAST STRAW, I realized it was RAVEN CLAW. Or RAVENCLAW, as the case may be.

Question: When was the last time anyone served you ASPIC? On a cold plate or on anything else. This was a pretty weird clue, I thought. But it succeeded in giving nothing away.

A wonderfully engrossing and lively puzzle. I love this constructor!

K. Arma 8:50 AM  

Coincidentally, Patrick did the WSJ puzzle today.

What did we do to deserve all this wonderfulness?

mbr 8:53 AM  

@Conrad & LMS: there's also "P" as in psychiatrist and "M" as in mnemonic. They're good for a rise too.;-)

Pamela 8:54 AM  

Kittens heels are for sissies afraid to wear the real thing. When I was 20, I decided that my size 9’s looked better in 3” spikes in spite of my height- proportion, you know. I thought they made my feet look more graceful. At 21 the world changed and so did I, to flats and miniskirts. Nowadays 3” is medium high. These girls are wearing them up to 5”! But kitten heels are still a Thing, mostly for young teens now. Beginner heels. My granddaughter had them at 13.

Also, weren’t they in a fairly recent puzzle, maybe this winter sometime? I seem to remember this controversy.

I liked the puzzle well enough for a Friday. Challenging to get started- OUZO, CON EDEN, TESS, ANTON. What has been usual lately, my brain begins to unfreeze about halfway down so the lower areas become populated first, then I work my way up and realize that it wasn’t so hard after all. DONTbotherME made a mess for too long. Dole for KEMP. Hate ASPICS, loved STONER. I was stuck on Hotel nearly to the end, then finally corrected hONAD.

My roommate and I knew a few Greeks way back when, when there were still some fairly authentic restaurants in the city. We’d go to drink OUZO and see the men dance in a circle. Carefully, though- that stuff packs a punch even when you’re young and the metabolism operates on all cylinders. We felt very adult and cosmopolitan.

Loved Robyn’s original clues, but think the Boo Boo one would have stumped me.

bigsteve46 8:55 AM  

Well, you can make puzzles more difficult two ways: answers that are themselves obscure or require specific, uninferable knowledge (Harry Potter crap, for example) - or - you can be cute or ambiguous with the cluing, which I much prefer. This puzzle mostly had the latter which made it so good. I mutter and curse - but Harry Potter is here to stay, I'm afraid. If this pandemic thing lasts long enough, maybe I should just break down and read one. (God, I hope it doesn't last that long! I have an unabridged Proust up there on the shelf - I think I'll try that first!)

TJS 9:17 AM  

"you really should know Jordan PEELE by now (42D: "Get Out" director). Prominent director," of exactly two horror movies that premeired at Sundance and South by Southwest, crossing a Hawaaian fish. Accounted for about half of the 14 minutes of a fill-in-the-blanks Friday. But Hey, Its Robyn ! and it only took 5 minutes out of his busy Friday, or Thursday night, or whatever.

Sorry, but is a diffficult Friday too much to ask ?

Joe Welling 9:21 AM  

I'm all for cute an ambiguous or misleading cluing, but only if it's still accurate. I'm not very happy with the clue for STET. STET means "let it stand"--a subjunctive used as a polite command. An editor writes "stet" after deciding not to make an edit after all, but "STET" is not equivalent to "decide to keep after all."

Nancy 9:26 AM  

@Chefwen -- I bow to your cooking prowess, as I bow to @GILL's -- having no such ability of my own -- but I must disagree with you on your negative assessment of ASPIC. I've always considered a good ASPIC to be a treat and I have an extremely positive ASPIC story to relate:

My high school friend and I were staying for 10 days on the Left Bank of Paris with a woman who was a friend of our French teacher. It was 1960, right after high school graduation. We shared a room, with the bathroom down a long hallway. Three meals a day were included in the price, though we didn't eat lunch there -- it would have meant returning to the Left Bank in the middle of each day. And what was the price? $5 a day for each of us!!!!!

The woman had no help. She did the cooking herself. Much of what she served was leftovers. But it didn't matter. She was French, after all! A brilliant cook! And there are only two meals I remember from all those years ago. One was home-made vanilla ice cream -- unlike any ice cream I've ever had before or since. Ethereal. Gossamer, in fact. The other was an ASPIC. I don't remember what was in it. Leftovers of some sort from the day before. I just remember that I swooned -- that it could have been served as a three-star Michelin restaurant. If you had had this ASPIC, @chefwen, I guarantee you would never cast aspersions on ASPIC ever again.

I've enjoyed other ASPICS, too, over the years. I find them tasty and interesting and refreshing. But none could hold a candle to the one in that Frenchwoman's home all those years ago.

Joe Dipinto 9:27 AM  

KITTEN HEEL was in the March 31 puzzle. Rex didn't blog that day, but that's probably why he remembers it.

Put me in the private box with LenFuego, Quasi and Lorelei Lee. To paraphrase another 1978 Barry Manilow song, the puzzle "went along as it should / it's all very nice / but not very good." By "not good" I just mean not particularly interesting, or difficult, for a Friday.

Here's an upbeat, feel-good number to get your weekend going right.

Hartley70 9:28 AM  

This was a lovely, easy romp this morning. I enjoy a puzzle with long colloquial downs and here we had them in both directions. No specialized knowledge required for those and just a few letters give you the answer. I agree that the two tough spots were the V in VAUNT and HES. I wasn’t sure I understood HES until I confirmed it here.
While I’m delighted to read Rex’s rave review it makes me wonder why this fine puzzle and none of the many others? Perhaps the key is how far a kitten is from the crook of his arm.

Barbara S. 9:31 AM  

KITTEN HEEL (in the singular) was in the NYTXW on Tuesday, March 31 of this year (10D). Clue was "Short stiletto shoe." Constructors: Christina Iverson and Ross Trudeau.

57stratocaster 9:37 AM  

For some weird reason when I started I thought it was Monday, and after about thirty seconds I was saying to myself WTF(!), Cindy (my beloved) will never be able to do this... Then I realized it was Friday, and REALLY enjoyed it.

DT in Ann Arbor

Lorelei Lee 9:37 AM  

@Pamela, et al Feels like I'm in the Twilight Zone. Yes, Kitten Heels was in a puzzle and discussed here ... maybe a month ago? At most. I've lost track of time.

@pabloinnh and @TTrimble, That's a beautiful discussion you're having. I don't understand a word of it but it sounds super smart. So, thanks for that.

@FranS, Your silly was a dilly, gave me the willies. You're always fun and never a um ... pilly? Rilly! 4.5 party favors and a balloon!

Petsounds 9:40 AM  

Go to NYT.com. Click on CROSSWORD. See "By Robyn Weintraub." JOY! Click on PLAY and have a really good time until the CONGRATULATIONS box pops up! Got ALMAY right off the bat and, for some reason, SOAPOPERAS dropped in without a single Down clue. I'm not familiar with soap operas at all, but I know they're full of endless drama, so... This is one reason (of many!) that I like Robyn's puzzles: The answers are rarely gimmes, but they're always gettable and not something we saw three days ago in the WSJ puzzle.

Another reason was hinted at in Rex's blog. I never visualize this constructor trying to out-clever every other constructor. Her puzzles feel like they've been made for the solver to have some fun, not for the constructor to show off. This should be the first rule of crossword construction. Alas, it's not.

ASPICS killed me, because SALADS are also served on chilled plates and more people serve salads than aspics these days, thank God. I am one of 28 people left in the world who like Jell-o from time to time (black cherry with sour cherries), but I tasted an aspic once, and that taste was anything but a RARETREAT. Rare, yes. Treat, NO! And I had GORE for 22A, which left my early 5D as YOU_DO, and it took me a little time to undo those mistakes.

I wasn't crazy about HES for "Ganders," but that's a furry little pest of a quibble, and I'm not going to let that get in the way of a completely enjoyable solving experience. Thank you, Robyn!

Loren Muse Smith 9:43 AM  

@Teresa – I looked to see if I could spare people here and email you but you’re not blue!

If that had been me (stet) who had typed that, and if I hadn’t already established myself here as a descriptivist, and I would have been totally embarrassed and ashamed by your post. I get that shaming wasn’t your intent, but that won’t stop the average guy from being embarrassed despite your well-meaningness.

I understand that I’m in the minority here; we can agree to disagree. I’m curious, though. Exactly why is the distinction between their, there, they’re and your, you’re so important? I mean, aside from presenting as a middle to upper class educated person? (Which unfortunately is still advantageous in so many ways. Too bad, that. ) Name one other thing knowing the difference accomplishes.

In terms of pure communication, using the wrong there or your absolutely does not matter; there is zero room for any kind of misinterpretation. No one would ever read

The cat chased it’s tail.

And be all confused as to the meaning because of the error. No one.

FWIW, I do teach these differences. I point them out all the time. And I test the distinctions. But I can tell you that the imaginary person who would read this blog, see Rex’s “mistake,” and then assume it’s correct. . . that person would never have noticed in the first place.

So. . . email me: nerolhtims at gmail if you wanna discuss further! Or as you suggested– truce!

PS - I have used the term KITTEN HEELS for ages. It's definitely a phrase and a thing. And they're ugly. I have it on good authority that @Gill wears them with her gauchos just kiddin Gill you know that love ya mwah.

Blackbird 9:50 AM  

Ahem, Rex, Kitten heels are not short stiletto heels. Stiletto heels by definition are very high heels, very thin high heels. That's why they are called stiletto heels. They evoke a stiletto knife, a knife with a long thin sharp blade. Kitten heels are a thing in themselves. They are short, and they are thick enough for a young girl learning to walk in high heels to manage to keep her balance. They are the equivalent of training wheels on bicycles, not-quite-ready-for-prime-time dress heels for girls. Yes, if you go to Wikipedia, kitten heels are described as short stiletto heels, but there is not such thing as a short stiletto heel! Daggers are not short swords, they are knives! Duh.

Blackbird 9:56 AM  

As for the few fools who decided to display their ignorance, their limitation, of course there is such a thing as kitten heels! Along with Loren Muse Smith, I too have used the term kitten heels for ages. I had a pair when I was a teenager. My first pair of high heels. High heels? Higher than low heels, but not very high at all. They were meant to look "cute", and the term was meant to be endearing. I soon learned that all high heels are wicked instruments of torture, and by the time I turned 30 I gave up wearing any sort of high heel. Kitten heels are to stiletto heels what girdles are to corsets -- modified, but still inadvisable.

jberg 10:12 AM  

Fortunately I had the KI when I got to 43D—otherwise I’d have put in “sky’s” and fought for it to the end, but ok, it must be KIte, right? Nope. I did spend a couple minutes thinking if maybe carpenters didn’t wear tOOL belts in summer, but then I saw that W would work. Other than not remembering poor Jack KEMP and wanting RAVENCroW, that was the toughest part for me.

Never had a POKE. Now that I know it’s raw fish, I might try it.

@Rex, you probably remember KITTEN HEELS because they were in the puzzle recently. I actually considered KITTRN mEmeS, but wisely waited for the crosses.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

@Teresa: You're right. She's wrong. End of discussion.

Rube 10:21 AM  

This was a Tuesday...an easy Tuesday. If I timed myself it would have been personal record . a waste of 3 bucks.

And @Teresa.. You need to go outside and clear you're head. Come on. I type with one finger. Misstakes will be made. As a puzzle solvers, you should enjoy trying to decipher mistyped messages.

Suzy 10:23 AM  

@LMS— I love your posts, think you’re a delightful commenter. But I agree with @Theresa: the difference between
the adjective and subject/verb is important, both in meaning and in style. Moreover, I am happy to offer a toast, propose a toast,
enjoy my toast, and am usually glad to have made the toast, but ‘cheersed!’— no way!

The puzzle was truly delightful! Thank you, Ms Weintraub!

Barbara S. 10:24 AM  

I liked the puzzle but did find it strangely easy for a Friday. Much better time than usual (but I don't care about times, only about challenge).

I thought the clue for ECHO was fun: "Return some calls?"

I think I had a "malapop," if I understood what @Z was talking about yesterday (12:52). Early in the solve I filled in BRITA (33A) and then decided it must be wrong because I thought 25D "Ph.D., for one" was "degr," ergo the water filter brand must start with "G," so I took BRITA out. Then, as that area assumed its proper shape, I stuck BRITA right back in.

OK, @cooks, this is important: what is the difference between an ASPIC and a jellied salad? PLEASE understand, I'm NOT talking about JELL-O here. Wipe JELL-O from your mind. The kind of jellied salad I mean is savory, not sweet, and made with dissolved and then reset plain gelatin. In my own head, I have quite a different opinion of ASPICs and jellied salads, but it may be based on a false distinction. I think of ASPICS as being opaque (made with tomato puree, for example) and jellied salads as being clear. Or are they all ASPICs? I'm not a cook, so would love input from those with expertise.

50A MADEATOAST could be a dook if you're a fan of Tyler Perry.

3D MALL = "Sheltered walk" I had no idea or had forgotten. I guess the newer commercial meaning hid the original meaning, at least from me.

40D MONAD. I learned this word from Spelling Bee. (Just sayin'.)

RooMonster 10:24 AM  

Hey All !
Am I the only one who had SANAi for SANAA? OK, then. ANGOLi isn't a Country? Well, boo on me. Where's my globe? (Har, for some reason I find "globe" funnier than asking for a map.)

You guessed it, my one-letter DNF at that spot. If there were an award for "The Most All-Time One-Letter DNFer", I would definitely win it. It happens more than not. I've gotten over it being mind-numbingly frustrating or else I've been driven stark raving mad by now.

This was a nice themeless. For some weird reason, didn't notice the high double-decker count @Lewis pointed out. But looking at it now, I Do see a lot of OO's. Well, five of them. Seemed higher before I counted!

Who knew GEENA Davis has an Institute on Gender in Media?

I remembered three of the four Harry Potter houses, guess which one wouldn't come to mind?

HES. Har.

Managed to solve in fits and starts enough to POKE answers in and get from one section to another. Left, came back, finished. A bit of a battle, an OOF or two, but not undoable. Thanks for the TREAT, Robyn!

Two F's
MADE A TOAST with OUZOS
RooMonster
DarrinV

Z 10:25 AM  

@JJK and @TTrimble - Rex isn’t actually all that fast, he is definitely second tier in the speed solving world. Now, if you want see real speed watch this video of Dan Feyer doing a whole week’s worth of puzzles in less than 19 minutes. There are other shorter videos of Feyer solving single puzzles if you don’t have 20 minutes to invest, but this one was posted recently so are of puzzles you likely solved.

@Lewis 7:51 - Chen’s last sentence is just about the highest compliment I’ve ever seen.

@Barbara S 9:31 and @Joe Dipinto 9:27 - Thank You! I was just about to go looking for it.

@bigsteve46 - The first two will not take you long. Then Rowling got huge and apparently no editor could tell her that sometimes less is more.

@TJS - This alone makes Jordan PEELE crossworthy, anything else is pure gravy. And, with three E’s in the name, he is sure to last as long as Yma Sumac in Crossworld.

@Joe Welling - Huh? I can’t even parse how it would ever be used in the subjunctive. Clue seems fine to me.

Birchbark 10:25 AM  

DON'T LOOK AT ME -- We have a lot of video meetings now that we're working from home, and we like them. But sometimes one shows up unexpected on the calendar. Routine insulates me from the downside, but I feel for the ones whose work, family, and "professional" balance is more of a juggle. This video-conference-out-of-nowhere is the last thing they need. Some see the humor, others don't. In the end, we all know we're real.

If you could see MONADs (in Leibniz they correspond to what we sense but are outside of perception) and stare at any given one long enough, you would know everything there is to know about everything, ever and in the future. Included in every MONAD's identity is its entire relationship to the all other MONADs.

Like @Hungry Mother (7:04) and @TTrimble (7:38), my MONAD lore comes from Leibniz. But now per @pabloinnh (8:32) it's worth looking to Fr. Tielhard (guessing for him MONAD = soul, or something similar) to see if that's where Leibniz got it.

Leibniz a thief? Isaac Newton thought Leibniz stole the discovery of calculus. The charge is doubtful, but food for three volumes of historical fiction in Neal Stephenson's "System of the World" trilogy. Worth reading if you have the time.

Lurking, Just Behind You 10:26 AM  

@loren muse smith

I always use B - as in Bonehead.

Usually earns a guffaw.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Why is the distinction so important? Simple. One is correct and the other is not.

Z 10:30 AM  

@Barbara S - My explanation was bad. A Malapop would be something like filling in POKE incorrectly at 6A only to discover later that it is a right answer at 42A. It was coined by former frequent commenter and constructor ACME.

CDilly52 10:32 AM  

@LMS. Miss you when you are gone and glad to see your comments as always. I also try to get a rise from people. My go-to (people can never tell if my last name begins with D or B,) is “D as in defenestration.“

Ann Hedonia 10:33 AM  

KITTEN HEELS is something women know about. We need more female constructors! Loved this one!

mathgent 10:34 AM  

Nancy didn’t find it easy and neither did I. I was stalled in the NW because I had ANTISEPTIC instead of ALLPURPOSE (it agreed with a couple of my downs). And then the wonderful clue for SOAPOPERAS clicked: “They’re full of endless drama.”

Lots to like here. Low Terrible Three count, learning Shakespeare’s son’s curious name and the proper name for the big TOE, the baffling clue for IAN, crunchy. But I didn’t love it.

My wife hasn’t heard of KITTENHEELS so I guessed that it was East Coast, but Gill seems to know it. I don’t remember seeing it in an earlier puzzle.

In Hawaii they pronounce it POE-kay. Is that how everyone pronounces it?

I got excited when @K. Arma posted that PB did the daily WSJ today, but it’s their Friday contest puzzle which has a meta. Usually the contest puzzle is easy and the meta is impossible, so I’ll pass.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Too obscure.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Cheersed is, most definitely, NOT a word. Use what you have. Dumb invention is not necessary.

CDilly52 10:45 AM  

Sorry, Anon., 7:47 AM, but KITTEN HEELS were literally all the rage in the mid-late ‘50s and were still very popular into the mid’60s. Easy to wear, and young girls could convince their moms to let them wear a “kitten heel” for dress-up by about 12-13. And later, with the popularity of the sweater set, with pearls or a chiffon scarf and a pencil skirt, girls could also get away with them in high schoo during the school day. l know. Begged for them, saved my baby sitting money and bought two pair and left them in my locker at school so I could change and Mom was never the wiser.

CDilly52 10:48 AM  

@Pamela 8:54 AM. I got KITTEN HEELS immediately because of its recent use and thought it was a recent Weintraub that used it but it was on 3/31/20 - an Iverson/Trudeau duet.

Newboy 10:50 AM  

Any puzzle with KITTEN & POKE is off to a great start. LOEWE blow on the RAVENCLAW naming, but otherwise pretty much a COOL BREEZE. Robyn is invited to STOP BY anytime.

ed 10:52 AM  

Once when I was in high school I went to a dance. This has nothing to do with the puzzle but I thought I would share it anyway.

Whatsername 10:55 AM  

Made me think but still ended up being fun and a pleasant solve so hooray for Robyn! It was POKE/MONAD rather than POKE/PEELE that got me stuck. And Harry Potter clues might as well be in a foreign language for me but at least this was gettable thanks to the downs. Looking at the downs, I’ve found myself suffering after effects of Jeff Chen’s puzzle on Tuesday and keep looking at them to see how they line up. Today only only PEELE and EDEN would qualify.

KITTENHEELS is definitely a legitimate entry, and I got the answer immediately from the clue. They are popularly worn by pre-teen girls as training heels before going on to higher ones and even stilettos for the very brave. Then when you get to where you have grand daughters old enough to wear heels, you start looking for the kittens again because years of wearing the real ones definitely do a number on the feet. One bunion surgery down and one to go for me.

Living in the country, I occasionally see a FIELDMOUSE go scurrying about, especially in the fall when it starts to get cold. I always feel a little sorry for them because I know it’s only a matter of time before they fall victim to one of my cats.

Rex: No one can be sad for a very long in the presence of a kitten. Thanks for the new photo, even cuter than the last one.

Unknown 10:56 AM  

@Birchbark FWIW, Teilhard de Chardin was a 20th century theologian, so in this case anyway Leibniz wouldn't have been the thief. :-) I actually don't know Leibniz's Monadology at all -- I'm only familiar with the modern-day usage in category theory (also nonstandard analysis, but in a different sense).

(JK about Leibniz stealing anything. My feeling is that the ideas of the calculus were already very much "in the air" around that time, so on those grounds independent discovery wouldn't be unexpected.)

GILL I. 11:04 AM  

@Nancy, Nancy, Nancy......One must carefully choose the pigs feet or the pig knuckles to make the perfect jiggly Chaud Froid ....In France, nothing goes to waste. I'm betting you had madames leftover pork trotters or perhaps a little rump from her roast. She would add some good wine, of course and...et voila....the best meal of meals. I'm betting you had a little baguette with your Burgundy?

TTrimble 11:07 AM  

(Unknown 10:56 was me: forgot to add my name.)

@Z: I believe you, and thanks for the mention of Feyer; I'll look that up. I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Whatever -- I'm still amazed by the thought of Rex's mental alacrity, to be able to unstick himself so rapidly when he gets stuck.

Birchbark 11:21 AM  

@Unknown/TTrimble (10:56) -- Many thanks for setting me straight on Tielhard des Jardins -- I came across him in passing maybe twenty years ago and hadn't thought more of it until reading your post today. I've grown a little comfortable in my everyday "wrongness," but rarely by so many centuries --

Best I can think of in my defense of is with a name like that, how could you not be a medieval abbot?

Sir Hillary 11:24 AM  

Thank heaven for Robyn Weintraub. She saved the week. She's not quite PB1 in terms of junk-avoidance, but she's close.

This was just so fun to solve. Good answers, some tough cluing. Tons of open space, so many an ESCAPEROUTE when things got difficult.

I thought of myself and wrote pen before APP at 4D, even knowing I had a 50/50 shot at best.

@Z -- Thanks for the Key & PEELE link. Never seen "Get Out" or "Up" (and probably won't, because I cannot stomach any graphic violence) but those two guys are awesome.

Thanks to @Rex for coining another entry in the "Things That Sound Dirty But Aren't" canon:
You get a COOL BREEZE in your PRIVATE BOX.

CDilly52 11:31 AM  

What fun! I’m also on a member of the Weintraub fan club. Also glad to have a little time to do more than solve and speed read through the comments today. I will have to work through the weekend (again) but by golly, I took me a “mental health day” today!!

High points for me today were of course the clever Weintraub Ian clues: for ESE, BERTH, KNEED (loved it!), KITTEN HEELS (oh, such memories!), STET, E FLAT (such a refreshing change instead of the usual “key of some composer’s something” clue), and on and on. Y’all have pointed out much of what I would say anyway, so I won’t.

Toughies were VAUNT (using acclaim as a verb threw me way off course as intended), and ESSA!! Now I freely admit I do not speak Italian, but my “opera vocabulary” is fairly large from my former professional musician life. I do not recall ever seeing the gender neutral ESSA. Lo, la, ci, cio’ sure, and often. And I get the Romance language thing of matching the pronouns to the gender of the word to which it is the antecedent, so that wasn’t the problem. It was the word itself. And I guess that’s exactly Ms. W’s point. So I learned something today that will be useful somewhere down the line. One cannot learn enough short fill words!

Wish I had time to tell my hilarious (well I though it was then and still think so now despite what the Vice Principal, Mr. Garrison and my father thought at the time) story about KITTEN HEELS and my ultimate and glorious vanquishment of my lifetime Playground Arch Nemesis, Ralphie M, but alas. Suffice it to say I loved that answer simply because of the memories it evoked. The last time I though of Ralphie, was undoubtedly March 31 of this year when KITTEN HEELS debuted.

I am in awe of artists like Ms. Weintraub. While I have learned so much by doing crosswords, and consider myself a near-expert solver (though never a speed solver) I lack artistry. I idolize those who time and time again employ their vast trivia knowledge on such an incredibly broad spectrum and combine that knowledge with their artistic gifts to produce these top tier puzzles. I am as big an”fan girl” of this elite group as I ever was of the Beatles. Thanks RW!! Spectacular Friday. Have a great weekend everyone.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Unknown,
It’s true de Chardin was a theologian. And a bad one. Plus XII called his writings a cesspool of errors. As indeed they are.

Barbara S. 11:36 AM  

@Z 10:30 Dang. I thought I'd made an error with a fancy name, but it was just an error. You've given me something to shoot for: a real malapop.

burtonkd 11:37 AM  

@LMS - in high school I remember trying to come up with a confusing phonetic alphabet.
D as in djakarta
p as in pseudonym
k as in know
m as in mnemonic (my favorite since it uses each consonant it could be confused with)
j as in Juan
I'm sure this blog could fill in the rest ...

Anyone else have the experience of reading a Rex rave and imagining all the stuff he would rant about on a different day with a different constructor?

MONAD - read the definition and still don't know exactly what it is. I did remember that it was a word, so wrote it in.

daveyhead 11:40 AM  

Didn’t read all of the comments but am I the only one who had ATONER for STONER (takes the high road, see?) Forget for a moment that AANAA makes no sense, but SANAA to this geographically challenged person doesn’t either. That was my only error and I really enjoyed this puzzle.

eddy 11:51 AM  

This was very painful for me. I bit on just about every misdirection, for example "honored newlyweds" which I could not get out of my head must have something to do with royalty. And folks, constructors, editors, fellow solvers, what can you do if you have never read Harry Potter novels and RAVENCLAW, right there in the middle of everything, is a complete unknown? You can't even Google it. Or you can, and it would take forever. So that entire region of the puzzle was impossible to glean, particularly crossed with KITTENHEELS, (What????) an absolute blank that didn't even make sense once the crosses were guessed. So OK, I finally am stopped after 50 straight puzzles, but I'm not happy it was so impossibly difficult...and then Rex calls it easy/medium. And finishes it in four and a half minutes?! Is he that much brainier than me, that much more experienced? Or am I the problem here, 'way too high in personal expectations?

TJS 11:54 AM  

@LMS, " I mean, aside from presenting as a middle to upper class educated person? (Which unfortunately is still advantageous in so many ways. Too bad, that." ) Huh? Your use of "presenting" ? Is that supposed to imply that using standard English in writing or speaking is somehow an "act" that we are putting on to falsely impress someone? So if someone talks one way at a bar with their friends, and another way at a business meeting, that person is being hypocritical ? Thus your "Too bad that" attitude ? Or am I totally mis-reading your point?

GILL I. 11:55 AM  

@Loren...You bet your sweet bippy. 3 inch purple with some studded diamonds. Avocado green gauchos to go with my newest hair color. I want to stand out.
There is a big difference between jello-o and ASPIC. Jello comes in a box and you add some fruit. ASPIC comes from bone broth. Where is Julia Child when you need her?

Destiny’s child 12:04 PM  

Loved puzzle. Easy but took some time. Where in the dirks us Sanaa?

bauskern 12:05 PM  

Only on this board would someone say "Rex isn’t actually all that fast, he is definitely second tier in the speed solving world." In the real world where the rest of us normal folk live, Rex qualifies as very fast.
The SW corner stumped me, as I'd never heard of KITTENHEELS.
Re: Jordan PEELE as a "prominent" director, I think he's directed all of two films: Get Out, which was great; and Us, which was (charitably) weird & the twist at the end made little sense.
I thought this puzzle was suitably Friday tough in the SW. made me go OOF.

Tale Told By An Idiot 12:07 PM  


I have no tale today because I got hung up on one word – “monad“ – and began to chase my tail. “Spinoza,” I thought, and “a windowless eye unto the world!” But doubt crept in (appropriate for a Cartesian, if I recall correctly) and I started to do a little research. Oh, Leibniz - I vaguely remember him . Maybe he was the monad guy. Did he write the windowless eye description? Or was that a gem from some professor’s lips to my notes? And what the heck does it mean??? Alas, I will never again know the answers to those questions. Some 50 years worth of “knowledge,” trivia, random thoughts and useless tidbits have buried Leibniz and Spinoza in some deep part of my brain and they are irretrievable. Or, to be more accurate, I am not willing to spend the time and energy required to find out if I can retrieve them.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Bauskern,
Actually only one poster on this board makes the claim that Rex isn’t all that fast. He claims it all the time, though its veracity isn’t increased by its repetition.

Crimson Devil 12:10 PM  

Love Ms Weintraub puzs, incl this one. QOF suits her, and moi.

Put me in camp of Teresa and grammar police (though there are dire efforts to unfund); but I get past “your-you’re” on the way to my principal complaint, what does “from” add to “escaping”?? Mere surplussage, I submit.
The auto-correct defense should “rest”. As I’ve opined here before, ‘tis a dangerous crotch.

LMS, speakin of vinegar....?? Also good to see expected reference to gauchos.

Nice to see puz reminding us of ALLPURPOSE injectables.

Loreilei , great to see that you too are fan of Sir Charles. He once mentioned returning to run for governor of Alabama: I’d support, contribute to, and vote for that.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

TJS,
I skip LMS’s posts. But your response prompted me to find hers. Wow! I can’t imagine engaging someone who wrote what she did. It’s Worse than nonsense. It’s bankrupt, and I suspect goes a decent way in explaining West Virginia’s literacy rate. I mean if the teacher doesn’t respect the grammar, why the hell should her students?

Chip Hilton 12:28 PM  

Great fun, wonderful vocabulary and clues (even though MONAD grabbed me by the ————s and wouldn’t let go).
Happy for Cheerful Rex but curious as to why the KITTENHEELS didn’t bother him like it would’ve on other days.
Oh, well. Thanks, RW!

Xcentric 12:29 PM  

Thank you Robyn Weintraub for an absolutely delightful Friday puzzle!!
What a breath of fresh air after a rather disappointing week.

@Davyhead - no, you are not the only one, and I also never heard of Sanaa. Stoner was the last to fall, but with a chuckle.

Nausee 12:31 PM  

Can someone explain the IAN/ESE answer?

jb129 12:33 PM  

Love Robyn's puzzles - I smile when I see her name.

Will we see Erik (Agard) tomorrow?

Smith 12:42 PM  

@LMS 3:47

lmao!!

That *exact* scenario happened to us last December. Should it ever recur I'll personally pay for the movers!!

Smith 12:44 PM  

@Quasi 6:42

Maybe a ROASTPIG?

JC66 12:48 PM  

@nausee

People from China are Chinese and Asian
.

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  

themelessthUmbsUp. Primo fillins, primo clues. And today they resisted the urge to have HEELS and CLAW hang out in the margins.

sparklers at our house: ALLPURPOSE. RARETREAT. ESCAPEROUTE. COOLBREEZE. PRIVATEBOX. LASTSTRAW. ROLLAGAIN. KIWI. VAUNT.

staff weeject pick (of a mere 9 candidates): HES. A slight drool of desperation formed, on my mask. Would SOS have been a less desperate 46-A choice, there? [If so, better call SAUL to fix things.] Honrable mention to: ESE, who got fixed up with a questionmark-clue. How crosswordian of Robyn & the Shortzmeister. Coulda gone with USE, cuz I'm sure everyone is familiar with the PILU tree, right? yeah … didn't think so.

Hard stuff, at our house: Vodka. Almays goes well with the cinnamon rolls.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Ms. Weintraub darlin.
Excellent write-up with cute bonus lapcat pics, @RP. Are KITTENHEELS badcats?

Masked & Anonymo4Us


**gruntz**

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

@LMS It's interesting that you call out Teresa for embarrassing and shaming Michael Sharp but you feel perfectly justified in doing the same thing to her. You could have offered up the email address without further comment but you didn't. Maybe shaming wasn’t your intent, but that may not stop her from being embarrassed despite your well-meaningness.

TTrimble 1:01 PM  

Re speed of Rex: it seems pretty superfluous to mention that all is relative. In the thread above, Z made clear that he/she meant relative to world class speed solvers.

Btw Z: thanks again for drawing my attention to the Feyer video, which seemed absolutely legit. Not only did I enjoy getting lost in wonderment watching it, but it helped me make better sense of Rex's times. Yes, they are still very impressive -- at least to me. No, they no longer defy imagination, which was why I've brought them up more than once. I vow never to make an issue of them again.

Michelle Turner 1:18 PM  

@daveyhead - I had ATONER first too.

I think LMS’s point is that just because someone doesn’t use proper English, one cannot assume that that person has nothing of value to communicate. The fact that the use of proper English gives some folks a leg up is unfortunate and means that we as a culture are likely missing out on some interesting ideas. So, yes. It is important to teach the distinctions in order to give your children the best opportunities. However, it is equally important to avoid discounting people who do not make those distinctions.

Whatsername 1:30 PM  

Regarding the grammar debate, I frequently use the dictation feature of my iPad when texting or posting thoughts on social media, including this blog. I’ve noticed that the device often confuses words like your and you’re, there and their, etc., not to mention the horrors of auto correct. (It’s my worst enema.) To me it’s much easier to overlook such things when I didn’t actually type it in to begin with. A number of times I have posted something with an error only to realize it too late to correct it. Just saying.

jberg 1:34 PM  

Oh dear. I posted earlier today from my phone, which seems to have changed SKUA to "Sky's." SKUAs are tubenoses, with nostrils on top of their beaks, I don't know what "sky's" are. (And if I say they're the same as skies, I'll just throw fuel on the flames).

I thought I knew the word MONAD from a book by Plekhanov, which I thought was named 'The Mondadic Conception of History' - but actually, his word was "monist." (Of course, that's translation -- I don't know what the Russian word was.) But at least it gave me the right answer.

One of the disadvantages of solving in the paper is that the numbers are so small. As frequently happens, I thought 26D was really 28D, and wrote in SANA, figuring that was a variation of the correcT SANA'A. That's not really a malapop, though.

I don't really want to fan the flames, but I do need to defend Loren a bit. First, she has always made it very clear that she teaches what is generally called "proper" grammar, corrects mistakes and all that--probably more effectively because the students being corrected are not made to feel inadequate. Second, if you think you do not "present" every time you open your mouth (or don't for that matter) you are delusional.

Oh yeah, ASPIC. Good if done right, not otherwise. Kind of like most food. (Of course, there are differences of taste: I tried natto once, and never will again.) And jello may come from a box, but it's made from hooves. (I learned this from a vegetarian friend; if it has the kosher symbol on it, then it isn't).

@Loren, be glad it was just a mouse. My late Aunt Pearl, in northern Wisconsin, used to keep birdseed in a closed bin on her front porch -- until the day she found a black bear on the porch having a little snack.

ghostoflectricity 1:34 PM  

That is such a cute boy!

I found this one hard; finally got it, but some things I didn't think were so great: a FIELDMOUSE is only a "pest" if you take very speciesist viewpoint. Further, the clueing was more than a little abstruse, especially in the NW corner. I'm vaguely aware of ALMAY but never had reason to care about it; "Lola" to me is the title wo/man of The Kinks' 1970 hit (or alternatively Satan's seductive female assistant in "Damn Yankees"), and I've never paid much attention to the lyrics of "Copacabana"; the clueing on 3D is very misleading. Once I got in the groove, though, the puzzle flowed, but it was quite an effort.

But damn, that is one cute kitty boy!

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

It's a little know fact, but Robyn is also a celebrity impersonator. Should you want to have a Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman party, she's available as the star of the show.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Well-meaningness, @Anonymous 12:52? I sure don't see any.

CT2Napa 2:47 PM  

@JC66 12:48

but not "AisIan"

Frank Lynch 2:55 PM  

Maybe someday Ned Roem will score a Jordan Peele movie.

Barbara S. 3:01 PM  

I did some research and answered my ASPIC question from 10:24. Apparently there is no distinction in language (as I had mistakenly thought) between the opaque and the clear: if they're savory, they're all aspics. The distinction is only between the sweet and the savory: jello vs. aspic. It seems that use of the word "jello" started with but goes beyond the commercial brand, in that Wikipedia says the following all mean the same thing: jello salad, Jell-O salad, gelatin salad, jelly salad, jelly dish, congealed salad, molded salad. (Pro tip: avoid placing a dish on the table in front of guests and saying, "Look, everyone, my masterpiece: Congealed Salad!")

The term that I'm familiar with, "jellied salad," isn't actually listed by Wikipedia. But clearly, if the dish is sweet it falls into the "jello" category, and if savory, "aspic."

(And that was more than you ever wanted to know!)

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

monad is mostly used in some functional and logic programming languages. Mot much elsewhere. You have to be rather catholic to have heard of it.

@Teresa:
What parent would answer with the single word "Soon" when the question was "Are we there yet?" and not "WHEN are we going to be there?"

When I was knee high to a grasshopper, we would drive up to the grandparents house deep in the Berkshires. The largest town on the way was Ware, MA. I'm told that on one of said trips I kept pestering the parents about where we were. The answer was, "Ware Joey". Rinse, repeat. I'm told, again, that the conversation ended when I slugged La Madre, for the sin of mocking me. She deserved it.

JC66 3:04 PM  

@CT@Napa

???

I went back to check my 12:48 post for a typo, but ASIAN it was.

Barbara S. 3:14 PM  

Oh, because of Jordan PEELE's presence in the puzzle, I'll mention this unlikely but true fact. I have a friend whose birth name is Lucinda Burns. She married a guy named Richard Peeling. Sometimes double-barreled last names aren't the best choice, and she decided simply to stick with her original name.

Charles Emerson Winchester III 3:23 PM  

What a disappointment. I get that everyone raves about Ms. Weintraub as a rare distaff compiler, and the puzzle wasn’t bad as such. However, it belongs on a Tuesday, not a Friday. I felt like I was just going through the motions of filling in obvious blanks, no grit, no resistance, nothing popped for me at all. And I haven’t even ever read nor seen any of the Potter nonsense! Dull, dull, dull.

Dave S 3:35 PM  

Just a good, fun puzzle. Kitten heels was the only "new fact," but lots of clever clues. Loved Hardy heroine.

QuasiMojo 3:38 PM  

@Tale Told By an Idiot, I'm not sure I can help you with Liebniz and Spinoza, but T. E. Lawrence wrote about a "windowless eye" in one of his books.

Lyn 3:46 PM  

Not a fast solve, but I'm learning. I can fix the mouse in the car problem though. Mice hate the smell of Bounce dryer sheets. Tie a bunch of them around hoses, other safe bits in your engine. Had to go to mechanic three times because of mice, and this solved it.

Now would someone explain 9-down?

Z 4:28 PM  

@Lyn - That’s an Orwellian question.

Frank Lynch 4:33 PM  

Lyn, according to the NYT write-up "Ian" is onyl capitalized because it leads the clue, and otherwise would be "ian." Think of it now as a suffix, to mean of a type, like Ellingtonian, and perhaps you can see that ese is similar, e.g., legalese.

Anonymoose 4:36 PM  

@Lyn. Ian and ese are suffixes. Crosswordese. Crosswordian. It's a little rough but that's all I could come up with and there is a "?" so..........

Anoa Bob 4:39 PM  

Start a puzzle off with ALMAY and my enthusiasm drops. Then throw in stuff like a 90's running mate, a water filter brand, some Hogwarts something-or-the-other, a foreign country's currency, a mythology figure, etc., and it really takes a dip. Some good stuff here and there revived it a bit and my rating (I'm a paying customer) ended in an ill-defined, gray area on the enjoyment-of-the-solve scale.

My anthropologist friend who called a man's tie a "Neck Phallus" also told me she thought that wearing high heel shoes was a form of human lordosis behavior, also called "presenting". Never heard of KITTEN HEELS but I guess you need something to train on before going full STILETTO.

Hungry Mother 4:40 PM  

Peppermint oil spray keeps mice away. @Unknown 10:56: nice to see nonstandard analysis mentioned here, even though my Ph.D. Is just an ABBR.

Joaquin 4:54 PM  

Did I miss the memo? Is today Backwards Day? @Rex is all nice and full of compliments (and kitten photos), and half the posters are attacking LMS.

Barbara S. 4:55 PM  

@okanaganer 2:51 a.m.
I read your FIELD MOUSE story aloud to my husband, who was reminded of a guy he knew who had an old-fashioned ice house on his property. This was a structure built into the hill, used for food preservation before refrigeration. He'd made it into a guest house, but it was still pretty rough and ready. He used to sleep there himself in summer because it was much cooler than his house. Everyone who slept there had the same problem: FIELD mice would try to harvest their hair (for use in nests) as they slept or tried to. Not sure how many return-guests he ever had.

The Joker 5:03 PM  

A man is sitting on a park bench tossing dryer sheets on the ground.

Passerby, "Why are you doing that?"

Man, "It keeps the elephants away"

Passerby, "Your(sic) crazy. There aren't any elephants around here"

Man, "See?"

Z 5:03 PM  

@TTrimble - You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to question Rex’s times. My personal struggle was getting below 6:00 on a Monday. No matter what I just couldn’t break that time. It seemed like forever that I was trying to get below 6:00, but it was probably only a year or two. Once I finally did get below 6:00 every Monday was sub-6:00. I’ve broken 5:00 on a Newsday Monday, but haven’t made the effort to break 5:00 on a NYTX Monday. What happened? I did more puzzles. To me watching people like Feyer solve is like watching someone running a sub-4:00 minute mile or a Major Leaguer hit a 101 mph fastball out of the park (not to mention someone throwing a 100 mph fastball). Feyer has competition for the top spot, but not from Rex.

@Nausee - It is just crosswordian crosswordese.

@Michelle Turner - Well said.

@TJS - Where do you get “hypocritical?” “Proper” English is a vernacular and using it is an act of presenting yourself as a member of the group that uses that vernacular. If you go around using terms like scoober, huck, lefty-backhand, or IO flick you’re presenting yourself as a member of the ultimate community. Doing so wouldn’t make me a “hypocrite.” I’m a middle to upper middle class person with multiple degrees, so I can pretty much turn on the “Proper English” switch whenever I like. So what? But do you have an answer to @LMS’s question? “Exactly why is the distinction between their, there, they’re and your, you’re so important? I mean, aside from presenting as a middle to upper class educated person?” The only answer I have is the one @Michelle Turner gave.

Rob 6:04 PM  

Great puzzle! Seemed a little easy for a Friday, maybe? Great fill with some terrific answers. Loved the clue for 32D: Hardy heroine (TESS).

Anonymous 7:36 PM  

No one had a problem with Ovid and Athena? Should be Minerva. I know, Idoesn’t fit. Bad clue.

egsforbreakfast 7:46 PM  

Anon 7:36. Minerva = Athena. Or close enough for crossword purposes. Not really such a bad clue.

Lorelei Lee 7:50 PM  

@Rob, I didn't realize until your post that Hardy heroine was a misdirect. I immediately thought Tess. I might be even geekier than I think.

@Crimson, Now I understand your screen name. Charles would make a good gov. Sometimes I think he's a moderate conservative, and he's a self-made man. He gave his gold medal from the Olympics to his grandmother.

@Tale Told, This sentence is every bit as praiseworthy as your other tales:

“Spinoza,” I thought, and “a windowless eye unto the world!” But doubt crept in (appropriate for a Cartesian, if I recall correctly)...

I jot down interesting sentences sometimes just so I can go back and read over them. The first one written in is from 2013, "I am own anarchist!" My boss was telling me, "I'm a rule follower. I make a rule for myself and I follow it. That's the difference between you and me!" And I said, "You make rules but you break all of them."

His revelatory moment had surprised him.

Anonymous 8:21 PM  

Z,
Your argument is fallacious. A perfect example of petitio principii.

Runs with Scissors 9:26 PM  

ALL PURPOSE SOAP OPERAS!!! Really?

This went fairly easily, well within my normal Friday efforts. Good fill, not much dreck.

I particularly liked the "One taking the high road" clue for STONER. As a person of my time, attending high school from 1976 to 1979, that was a gimme. My favorite memory of that era (it was high school, after all) was in 10th grade. If you wonder how much times have changed in a very short time, consider:

In the 1976-1977 school year, Anaheim Union High School District permitted smoking on campus...by both students and faculty. I have yearbook proof for those who doubt. This, of course, led to the STONERS hanging out in the athletic field and adjoining park, toking up on the doobies. No FIELDMOUSE was safe. It once led to a grass fire due to a discarded roach. Needless to say, that smoking lamp was extinguished after that.

I've never been into fantasy, much more of a hard sci-fi fan. Never read LOTR nor Harry Potter. RAVENCLAW was defiant, but fell without too much trouble due to crosses.

Too many OUZOS will compromise those brain cells you have held back.

Was this a RARE TREAT? Not particularly. Good for about 20 minutes of fun.

At this juncture I will interject that the grammar "discussions" are hilarious. English grammar is an oxymoron. For those unaware - which would include most all of youse - English is not a Latin language. It is West Germanic. After the Battle of Hastings (1066 Anno Domini), Norman French (also a bastard language) took over for about 300 years. About 60% of English words are from Latin, or from Latin through Norman French. The grammar, though...we wisely decided all that case, declension, and inflection was stupid and dumped it. This was mostly so widely (at the time) dispersed persons in England could understand each other. Want to end a sentence with a preposition? Go for it!! No reason not to. Want to split an infinitive? Same...because "to" is not an integral part of it.

If you study it, you'll find that the only reason you think English has more than three tenses is because your teacher told you so...who believes it because his/her/its teacher said so...et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.

No language needs more than one way to say "the."

I'm fully capable of using the language per your ridiculous rules. I usually don't bother, because popular usage overrules the Latinist idiots.

Puzzles are fun!!

Mark,
Somewhere southeast of downtown Smell A.

Anonymous 10:00 PM  

@Runs:

A mind that can't speak clearly is a mind that can't think. There's a reason that latin was the language of the educated back when vulgates were incoherent. American English is lawless. The perfect language for the Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave). Scattershot language makes for scattershot thinking (if it could still be called that). Once again, the perfect language... You are what you speak. Of course, the Brits (among many) use language to enforce class boundaries. But they gave us Newton.

Monty Boy 10:05 PM  

I liked this one a lot, especially since I'm in the puzzle (see low-lying areas). I suspect anyone my age (75) grew up with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Roy, the rough, tough cowboy, riding Trigger. Dale, the quiet wife, riding Buttermilk. It's a middle school embarrassment, but I survived.

I also liked the puzzle because I finished it with a couple PPP lookups. That's my rule for Fri/Sat - Google only for obscure (to me) movie directors, Greek gods, middle names of 5th century popes. To each his or her own.

Frantic Sloth 10:52 PM  

"X" as in "Xylophone"

6/7 Gs: Good God, Grammar Guys/Gals - Get a Grip! 😜

Runs with Scissors 11:21 PM  

T as in tsarina...we could do this all day.

Q as in quotidian.

X as in xeriscape

Y as in Yggdrasil

And so on.

JC66 11:30 PM  

P as in toilet.

Teedmn 4:12 PM  

S as in Sea

kitshef 10:39 PM  

Here is the huge difference between me and Rex. He absolutely adores phrases like DONT LOOK AT ME and YOUVE CHANGED. I dislike them. I put up with them as necessary glue if the rest of the puzzle works (which today's does, in spades). But that is all they are - glue. Not unlike CLI and ESE and XOX. Use 'em if you need to. But don't expect me to like it.

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