Eyebrow-filling technique / FRI 7-31-20 / Pants slangily / Brand with classic wavy varieties / Gymnastics eponym of a double back somersault with three twists / Country whose name is believed to come from ancient Greek for honey-sweet / Hilton pulitzer-winning critic for New Yorker

Friday, July 31, 2020

Constructor: Claire Rimkus and Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (Medium, but I had an eternal-seeming free fall in the SE corner, so that threw my time off badly)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: MICROBLADING (9D: Eyebrow-filling technique) —
Microblading is a tattooing technique in which a small handheld tool made of several tiny needles is used to add semi-permanent pigment to the skin. Microblading differs from standard eyebrow tattooing because each hairstroke is created by hand using a blade which creates fine slices in the skin, whereas eyebrow tattoos are done with a machine and single needle bundle. Microblading is typically used on eyebrows to create, enhance or reshape their appearance in terms of both shape and color. It deposits pigment into the upper region of the dermis, so it fades more rapidly than traditional tattooing techniques, which deposit pigment deeper. Microblading artists are not necessarily tattoo artists, and vice versa, because the techniques require different training. // Microblading is also sometimes called embroideryfeather touch or hair-like strokes. (wikipedia)

• • •

This grid has many strengths, and I enjoyed solving it right up to the very end, when I hit a clue that made no sense to me and got completely stuck. Freefall stuck. Three blank squares left and ... no hope. Or so it seemed. The main problem is a clue that, in retrospect, seems actually very truly bad, on multiple levels. That clue is the clue for STUBS (48D: Movie reviewers often trash them). I worked that answer down to STU-S and ... nothing. No idea. I figured I had an answer wrong, since STUDS couldn't be right, and nothing came to mind that seemed remotely right. And the cross was 57A: Life partner, for which I had -IM-, and for which the only answer that occurred to me was TIME. Isn't TIME/Life a company of some kind? I seem to remember TV ads featuring TIME/Life operators, standing by ... to do ... something. Hang on, let me look that up... oh yeah, man, that company had a real racket going with their eternal series of books for whatever you're in to. Photography. Cooking. This baloney:


Point is, I am old and TIME seemed a very reasonable answer for [Life partner]. Then there was 52D: "___ pass" (IT'LL). I had the IT- ... but never considered IT'LL. Instead, the only thing I could think of was "IT'S A pass" (kinda like "It's a no" ... like, a way to phrase a rejection, as in "no thanks"). That left one answer that could—and eventually did—rescue me: 60A: Brand with "Classic" and Wavy" varieties (LAY'S). Really, really should've gotten this earlier, but I got so distracted by the stuff I couldn't make sense of, I didn't think this one through enough. The "wavy" part, combined with having -AY- in place, eventually got me LAY'S which got me ITLL which got me LIMB which brings me back to ... STUBS. What the hell does that clue think it's doing? Well, no, I know what it *thinks* it's doing. The STUBS are supposed to be *ticket* STUBS (I think), and you throw them away (or "trash them" after seeing a movie? OK, well, uh, two things. First, movie *reviewers* see screenings before the general public, right? I mean, now they probably just watch screeners, but the point is I don't know what the STUBS situation is like for movie "reviewers" because they just don't see the movies with the rest of us schlubs. I assume the tix are comped and STUBS aren't involved. Point is, I would never associate the general-public ticket *stub* with a movie *reviewer*. That's just nonsense. Further nonsense—even I, an old, don't even deal with STUBS any more. The last few movies I've seen in the theater, my ticket was on my phone. The ticket-taker scans it, bada-bing, I'm in. No STUBS to "trash." So this clue is somehow both factually wrong and dated. And that is what I'm left thinking, at the end of an otherwise nice grid. I'm left with that feeling of "why did you write such a bad clue?" (I have no idea who's responsible here; could be constructors, but editor rewrites lots of clues, as a rule). The clue is just a badly misguided attempt at wordplay, and it really detracted from the enjoyment I was having up until that point.
[Cinema ephemera of yore]

Wasn't sure about ELASTIGIRL because I don't remember "The Incredibles" (15A: Superhero in "The Incredibles"). I think I had both ELASTICMAN and ELASTICGAL in there before crosses led me to the right answer. Don't really like the clue on HALF at all (31D: Like 50 U.S. senators). Yes, 50 is HALF of the *number* of U.S. senators, but the clue is phrased like the adjective is going to describe them (like, in a fair and representative world, the answer could be MALE, say). Clue is awkward as is. Deliberately misleading, but not in a clever way. I also found the clue on LUSTS (24D: Groin pulls?) really truly CRINGEWORTHY. I get that it's about the fact that lust involves a "pull" (or attraction) on your "groin" (or genital ... area) but the image it conjures up, and that "pull" conjures up specifically, is that of a dude masturbating and ... yeah, in my crossword? It's a pass!


While I didn't love cringing, I did love CRINGEWORTHY as an answer, just as I loved "AMEN TO THAT!", MICROBLADING, and HIS AND HIS (saw right through that attempt to trip me with heterosexism, though HER did briefly occur to me as a possible last three letters) (31A: Like some monogrammed towels). Lots of women in this grid (DINAH SHORE! Now there's an old-school answer I can get behind) and in general the puzzle felt gender-balanced, not gender-biased the way it often can in the (somehow still) male-dominated world of NYTXW constructors.  So if I just look at the grid, I think this puzzle is really nice. I just found a few of the clues really off, or off-putting, and that kinda soured my experience.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

137 comments:

Harryp 12:05 AM  

DNF in the middle of the puzzle, since I couldn't see LUSTS and BILES. LUSTS' clue is great, and I was wowed when I saw BILES perform on UTube! I will remember this one!

Joaquin 12:06 AM  

If someone actually successfully markets HIS AND HIS towels, they should get the trophy for “Salesperson of the Year” and the trophy should then be retired.

jae 12:09 AM  

Mostly easy except for the center where I had HIS AND Her for way to long. That hang up pushed this one into medium territory, plus it made it tough to appreciate the “Groin pulls?” clue.

This was simply delightful. Liked it a bunch!!!

Angela 12:13 AM  

This is my new Friday record.

I literally just rewatched season 2 of Fleabag, and was wearing a necklace that says: “I love you” and “It’ll pass” while completing this puzzle! Got so excited. (Everyone go watch Fleabag.)

mathgent 12:16 AM  

Wonderful! Plenty of sparkle, good crunch, and I learned a couple of things. A little light for a Friday, though. Only 16 of the 72 entries were six letters or more, less than a quarter.

Swagomatic 12:16 AM  

I had comparable experience to Rex, but, since I'm about ten years older, STUBS did not trip me up too much. Overall, I liked it. I was quite a bit under my Friday average time.

chefwen 12:23 AM  

It took two of us to wrestle this one almost to the ground. We did fall apart in the center because I had HIS AND Her. Three little lonely squares remained empty. I couldn’t imagine what the hell groin pulls were other than painful, had LUr S, no clue. LUSTS never occurred to me. Kinda ICK. BELES looked okay at 27D and ALT pop remained AL blank. Fun puzzle that I will have to claim a DNF. Sniff...

Better luck tomorrow.

travis 12:24 AM  

The irony of accusing the clue of being out of date while assuming that a movie reviewer is a professional instead of just anyone on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB or even just twitter. I get where you are coming from with the physical stub, but where I live and the fact I usually go to matinees, I just can't be arsed getting tickets ahead of time so it is easier just to get a physical ticket at the ticket counter where there is hardly ever a line. Not saying I loved the clue, but in the scope of clunky misdirection that sort of works and sort of doesn't it didn't overly bother me.

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

Why isn’t Erik Agard given co-constructing credit at the top of today’s blog?

puzzlehoarder 12:30 AM  

I've never heard of MICROBLADING. ELASTICMAN had to be altered to ELASTIGIRL to get that one.

Speaking of altering I was at a loss as to where this "groin pulls" clue was going for quite some time. LUSTS? Is this a millennial dad joke?

What I really didn't like about this puzzle was that I had to solve it on my damn phone. My wife and I are in Queen's Astoria helping our daughter move into a new apartment.

When I put in the I of MICRO to finish and didn't get the happy music I knew there was a misspell somewhere. Sure enough I'd put in PLANITERIA. Is there something a little strange looking about the word CIDIR? Apparently I didn't think so. Took awhile to find it.

Driving in New York with all these delivery scooters weaving around you feels like you're in a third world country.

I haven't commented much lately as back in Chicago I've become quite the handyman of late. It's ironic that when millions are unemployed I'm working like a dog. Most days I don't even do the puzzles.

Moochie 12:37 AM  

Trou?

Pamela 12:39 AM  

This was tough! My brain has gotten lazy after four days of super easy, so I’m a bit shocked at how much I struggled today. Even with the help of Mr. G, I ended up DNF. I had to come see Rex to resolve 31D /41A Hal?/?DA. Also, 24D on the heels of yesterday’s naughty SB word—NYT, what’s going on?!

Too much home time, maybe. We’re all getting a little squirrelly, don’t you think?

It’s still the tail end of Thursday, so I won’t post SB spoilers even though I’m itching to share. @TTrimble, I wonder which one of 3 possibilities you guessed as my last word? I’ll tell you later...

Anoa Bob 12:45 AM  

Not even sure what LAYER CAKES are and definitely don't know how they would be "made up of stacked sheets". Sheets!?

Towels are monogrammed to make it easier for multiple bathroom users to know which towel is theirs, right? Easy to see how that would work with HIS AND HERS towels, but would not HIS AND HIS monograms defeat that purpose?

PLANETARIA along side of GASTRONOMY is the kind of stuff that this old word nerd really appreciates. I say AMEN TO THAT!

Unknown 1:07 AM  

Loved this puzzle and didn't mind the STUBS. But remembering my own "ball in a gym" (PROM) was definitely CRINGEWORTHY.

okanaganer 1:11 AM  

Hands up for ELASTIC GAL. I remembered the character from the film, memorably voiced by Holly Hunter, so knew it wasn't ELASTIC MAN or BOY. (There was actually a PLASTIC MAN in DC comics in the olden days!)

For 28 down, I got the "show-er" misdirect, but tried to enter ASTRONOMERS which didn't quite fit. Then the next down was GASTRONOMY. (Fascinating that ASTRONOMY is so close, spelling wise if not science-wise.) And then there's RED GIANT slicing thru them both.

As a boy I was fascinated by astronomy. Mom and Dad always took us to the Planetarium when we went to Vancouver...pretty much my favorite place on earth (ironically). Weirdly, the best part of the experience was walking towards the theater along a curving corridor...which featured huge windows with a stunning view of the slender hi-rise towers of the West End of Vancouver.

Suggested clue for ALERT: "Northernmost inhabited community on earth".

Tom R 1:28 AM  

Wasn't too sure it was right at first, but did manage to get Dinah Shore. When I think of her all I can hear is "See the USA, in your Chevrolet; America is asking you to call..." Well, if that doesn't date me, nothing will. BTW, I had the same problems with the SE corner that Rex did.

N 3:03 AM  

STUBS clue would be much better if it were simply "movieGOERS often trash them." Still not good, but at least you preserve the attempted pun while making a modicum of sense. Otherwise enjoyed it

goldbug 3:08 AM  

Got LIMB straight away. Fell for the trap set by "movie reviewers often trash them" and stupidly wrote in BOMBS until I realised that first B wasn't going to be much help. STUBS didn't take long once I had RED GIANT. Nothing wrong with the clue: I've never reviewed movies but I have reviewed music and comps are still paper tickets in most cases. Thought it was a clever little play-on-words. TROU was the last word to click into place in that corner.

I have to admit, though, the HISANDHIS thing did catch me off-guard. I did feel like HISANDHER sounded wrong, but the R led me to LURES for "Groin pull?", which wasn't a terrible answer. A groin (sp. groyne here in the UK) is a barrier built out from the coast into the sea and used to curb erosion. Fish like to hang around them, and fishing near them is a thing. Someone groin fishing might pull up on their rod, which LURES the fish.

(Okay fine, it was super tenuous.)

Anyway, that took me a quarter of my solving time to overcome. But HISANDHIS was a good payoff. In all an excellent little puzzle - hardly any rubbish fill, and some fine longer answers (PLANETARIA crossing REDGIANT was fun).

Final thought: c'mon Rex, you have to tell us what your "Challenging" times are! I can't be the only one who feels thoroughly inadequate whenever I "power through" a "tough" puzzle in 40 minutes only to see that you completed it in 3. Would love to know what counts as Challenging in your book, time-wise.

Ann Howell 3:27 AM  

Am with Rex on this one - didn't feel too terrible overall, but STUBS and LUSTS really cast a retrospective pall over the whole thing. Got slowed down by 5D ("BELAYED" - had BRAIDED there at first), which wasn't helped by also not remembering The Incredibles. The fill felt genuinely solid, apart from those two aforementioned stinkers!

Geneva Girl 3:52 AM  

Really enjoyed this one especially since answers I didn’t know easily fell into place with crosses and good guesses. I found this to be an easy Friday!

Geneva Girl 3:53 AM  

Easy Friday. Liked it a lot.

TTrimble 5:03 AM  

I was off to a pretty slow start, but ended with a time slightly less than a minute better than my historical average. So it felt tough-ish working through it, but not soul-crushingly so.

Yes, given the clue, LUSTS was definitely CRINGEWORTHY. But making up for that were PLANETARIA and GASTRONOMY right next to each other -- wow! I didn't know the term MICROBLADING, but that might be what my mother-in-law had done; unfortunately over the years the dye color seems to have morphed into a blue/green and now her eyebrows are somewhat disconcerting to look at. Anyway, back to the puzzle, I must say it looks damned admirable. I feel as if I was in the hands of masters.

STUBS was one of my last entries, but actually it was a fun surprise and it didn't irritate me as it did Rex. I don't think I can improve on @travis's response: I thought the cluing was totally fair, and as misdirecting wordplay I think "movie reviewers" is definitely better than "moviegoers". Just accept it: if they got you, they got you! Before I had LIMB I though it could have been "love" (your life partner being the love of your life, etc.).

Early on I got screwed up thinking "stacked sheets" referred to paper, so that something along the lines of "paper reams" was wafting though my wee-hours brain. I don't know enough about baking terminology to assess the justice of the cluing.

---[SB Alert]---

I'll be interested to see just how many words there are today when NYTBEE gets refreshed, which is some hours away. I'm at genius, but I sense I have a ways to go. I'm going to guess at least 12 more words to reach QB. By the way, @Pamela -- that wasn't me wondering about your last word; it was @jae. (I mean, I do wonder, but I hadn't said so!)

pyroclasts 5:22 AM  

I shall hope to never again have a crossword conjure the image of an erection being pulled magnetically towards the one lusted after

Had never heard of DINAH SHORE or MICROBLADING, and DNF’d on STUBS for the exact same reason Rex struggled with it

A bit rare in that this puzzle had great highs but low, low lows. The highs don’t make up for LUST

Colin 5:32 AM  

One of my favorite puzzles in a while. Love HIS AND HIS, CRINGEWORTHY, MICROBLADING, and the shoutout to the great Simone BILES who will hopefully get to win her next Olympic gold medal soon!

Damianne 5:40 AM  

There are a ton of his and his towels lol
They've been successfully marketed and it wasn't that tricky

amyyanni 5:58 AM  

@Tom R, hearing that same advert tune in my head. My mom used to watch the Dinah Shore Show. Somehow the rest of this was in my wheelhouse so a fairly smooth solve. As for the towels, couldn't they be two complementary colors?

ChuckD 6:13 AM  

Odd puzzle today - some good things some really bad. I think at times this constructor tries too hard on his misdirects - I like wordplay but not smarmy wordplay. Lots of shorter stuff for a Friday - but not overly difficult. My junior PROM was in our gym and they might have served ORANGE SODA - I liked that crossing. Also liked the AMEN TO THAT and DINAH SHORE stack. ELASTIGIRL over LAYER CAKES is awful stuff especially crossed with the dual “What’s that ?” dreck. Unlike Rex - I thought the SE provided the elegance to this one with the RED GIANT/ PLANETARIA cross.

Overall easier than a typical Friday and not that enjoyable but the best of the week so far. I guess that’s not saying much.

Hungry Mother 6:43 AM  

Nice one today. Pretty fast for a Friday, but still worthy of the day. LANG drew a “no duh!” response.

Anonymous 6:47 AM  


Like Rex and some others thought the clue for STUBS was off but can’t empathize with his getting stuck on TIME as a partner for “life.” In my experience, clues that use the partner hook always are based on a two words linked as a phrase with “and,” as in “life AND limb” or “death AND taxes.” That’s not so with time and life or even Time and Life. The media company was Time Life, not Time and Life.

webwinger 6:56 AM  

Fun, fun, fun! One delight after another. Finished in well below average time, but it didn’t at all seem too easy. I think I’m just becoming better attuned to EA’s style. Got PROM at 1A right off the bat, for example, despite the clue’s misdirection.

I have no problem with the clue for STUBS. Agree with previous comment that today anyone can be a “reviewer”, and most of us don’t get comped. Tickets look different now from days of old, but you still end up with something to dispose of, and there’s not a better term for it than STUB. Finally, the cleverness here mostly derives from the conflation of trashing a bit of paper and trashing a film with negative comments—doesn’t work without inclusion of reviewer. But then again, unlike @Rex I got on to this fairly quickly (in relative terms).

Lobster11 6:58 AM  

This wasn't even in the same area code as my wheelhouse. My first DNF on a Friday in months.

Lewis 7:04 AM  
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Lewis 7:14 AM  
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Lewis 7:15 AM  

This was a sparkling creation, with answers and clues that shined. It kept me motivated and happy from start to finish, and had a vibrant, clear, not-tired-junky feel that made it stand out, IMO.

I liked the LAYS down, and I noticed that 15 answers started with A. I don't track that, but it seemed high, but not bad. In fact, I loved the cousins AGAIN / ABED / ALONG / ABASE / ALERT / ADO / AMID.

Most importantly, the puzzle elicited smiles all over, in the answers CRINGEWORTHY, AMEN TO THAT, HIS AND HIS and the marvelous abutting GASTRONOMY and PLANETARIA (Hi, @TTrimble!); in the clues [Meteor showers] and [Act like a shark]; and especially in the reminder of Simone BILES who is the embodiment of beauty in motion.

This puzzle was a life brightener, and thank you so much for it, Clair and Erik!

sf27shirley 7:22 AM  

Short for trousers.

Z 7:22 AM  

I often point out that it’s not the clue, it’s you. Rarely for Rex, though. Assuming that every reviewer is a professional and assuming every theater is a multiplex led to his double fail. The clue is fine and the theater I go to still (well, if it survives COVID) issues physical tickets.

Sly masturbation references don’t bother me (I mean, c’mon, I linked to a picture of a circumcised water tower a couple of days ago), but I imagine it failing lots of people’s breakfast test.

DINAH SHORE got a mixed reaction here. Absolute gimme for me followed by “is she there to make Shortz happy” cynicism. I just came up with a new datedness metric, if over half the photos on your wikipedia page are in black and white the entry is dated. How is anyone under 35 really supposed to know her?

Generally liked this a lot and found none of Rex’s criticisms particularly legitimate today.

MickMcMick 7:30 AM  

I have NEVER used or heard the word trou, is that a real thing? Loved Dinah Shore because I’m old enough to remember watching.

Z 7:59 AM  

@Anon12:26 - Rex isn’t perfect. He has fixed it now. It was still missing at 7:00 a.m.

@AnoaBob - A sheet cakes is a cake baked in a rectangular pan. Take three or four of them, stack them, then put icing on the entire stack and you have a LAYER CAKE. Your local grocery store probably has some on sale right now.

@goldbug - Rex has never shared specifics. I’m not even sure he actually tracks his time systemically. But I think 10:00 on a Saturday would be considered “challenging” while 3:00 on a Monday makes it. Yeah, I know. I feel pretty good when I’m sub Two Rexes. Personally, I look at Rex’s times the same way I look at top athletes, impressive and something I’m never going to do.

@MickMcMick - Ever hear “drop TROU.” TROU goes back a hundred years and “drop TROU” goes back to at least the 1960’s.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Interesting, because I figuratively just rewatched season 2.

mambridge 8:12 AM  

I don't think HISANDHIS works, because who knows which towel belongs to whom?

Joe Welling 8:14 AM  

I think maybe "movie reviewer" means the cinema employee who checks your ticket on the way in. In the old days, they were the ones who tore the ticket and handed you the stub.

(Sorry if someone else made this observation by now. I only searched down occurrences of "reviewer" in the comments, and didn't see this fairly obvious observation yet.)

DeeJay 8:20 AM  

I think Rex solved this puzzle like most mortals do. You get a couple of crosses that don't fill themselves in and, you're stuck.

I thought this was enjoyable, tho my misspelling of ELASTIGIRL cost me several minutes.

Hartley70 8:23 AM  

The cluing misdirection was very nicely done today, but not so difficult that I couldn’t finish easily. I’m sure DINAHSHORE would be difficult for the under 60 crowd, but being part of a Chevy family growing up, I always liked to sing along with her and imagine a very long road trip. Chevy with DINAH, Brylcream and Pepsodent are the three ad campaigns seared in my 1950s brain. This entry was a nostalgic nod to the oldsters among us. I’m not old enough to welcome Alice FAYE with quite the same enthusiasm, however. I had to come back and take a second ponder to remember FAYE.

Elsewhere in the grid there was lots to like, BILES, PLANETARIA, HISANDHIS, but ELASTIGIRL was new to me. The idea of being tall and lean on occasion is very appealing, but I can see why the movie was called “The Incredibles”.



Joe Welling 8:27 AM  

So the ticket-takers are "movie reviewers" in the sense that they're cinema employees who review your ticket on the way in. They hand you a stub, but they trash the other half--which I presume is also a stub. I don't think it has anything to do with people who write movie reviews.

JD 8:28 AM  

This took a lot of staring and thinking. Like Dinah Shore. Had enough letters to see it but thought no way. Finally threw it down and kept going. Now know it's a golf course.

Finally realized it was a long O Meteor Shower. Finally realized it was Plastigirl and not Plastic Boy or Man. Finally realized it was His And His.

Same with Cider and Iced Tea, though I cry foul on the latter. No one likes Iced Tea hot. Yes I get it, but no.

Didn't finish without hitting the check button, but wish I hadn't. Might go back to paper.

ow a paper cut 8:34 AM  

Microblading is new to me. What the heck is eyebrow filling?

OffTheGrid 8:37 AM  

For me this was not as hard as some Fridays and I enjoyed the solve. I had two major snafus. I got tangled up in the center with LUSTS, ALT, & BILES. It took a while to give up on Ata (pop). And ELASTIcman "had" to be right. SE didn't seem hard. I put in LAYS and TROU right off. My first thought was Life and tIMes but too long so LIMB went in. HIS and HIS is fine but a little too cute. Groin pulls?/LUSTS was a welcome bit of bawdy. C'mon, we're adults.

Hartley70 8:40 AM  

Nice to have stopped by to catch up with @puzzlehoarder. Those knees must be holding up well as a handyman! We did the “move to Astoria” assistance about 10 years ago for our daughter. We shouldn’t have been surprised when she married a Greek!

@Angela, yes, yes and YES for “Fleabag”. She does a lovely little turn in HBO’s “Run”, but I’ll never get enough of her.

SteveDubs 8:42 AM  

Record Friday. Felt like a Tuesday to me. Sometimes a puzzle just bits your wheelhouse.

blinker474 8:43 AM  

If Rex can't figure out what letter completes "Stu_s" when the clue includes 'movie', and 'trash' then he is a dope. No other explanation.

The puzzle was easy for a Friday despite the fact that I did not finish. Got hung up on HisandHis, and on something else. Agree with whoever said that this sort of monogramming can't work.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

This one felt right in my wheelhouse (mid 40s good but not expert solver). 13 minutes - much quicker than a typical Friday. Struggled in the top central and right, because I thought stacked sheets was going to be "PAPER...." something. Had lots of smiles when i unveiled the clue, and felt like the "young" answers were things most should be able to get.

BFFs - term has been around forever
ELASTIGIRL - was forced to watch that movie with my son
LAYERCAKES - saw another poster didn't know what this was. Seriously?
HISANDHIS - surprised so many got tripped up on this. When I saw Agard was the constructor, and the clue had "some" in it, the answer was immediate. I mean, it's not 1980. If the answer was "HISANDHER", the clue would have been "Like monogrammed towels" - no "some".
LALWA - for the olds
REDGIANT - thanks again to that 8 year old son of mine...
DINAHSHORE - i may be under 60, but I saw a great "Biography" of her back in the 1990s (i was in college) when A&E used to air that wonderful show. She had such a cool story that it stuck with me 25 years later. Better to have shoutouts to an "old" like Dinah Shore (who had pretty progressive racial positions for her time) and keep them in the discourse, than someone else who was nothing more than a 1950s actor that we've long forgotten.
MICROBLADING - any nail salon in any mall in america has a sign out front that says "MICROBLADING".
CRINGEWORTHY - just a great, modern word for anyone under age 50. My guess is teenagers already think this is an old person expression.

Just lots of fun.

Magpie 8:52 AM  

I liked it! But then, I’m always chuffed when I can finish a Friday without looking anything up.

STUBS seems fine to me. In the theater, reviewers get comp tix - but they’re still tix even though they say $0.

KnittyContessa 8:53 AM  

I was sure 15A was plastic something. Had pLASTIGIRL until the end. I knew BpLAYED looked odd but I don't know a thing about sailing. I just could not see it. Anyone else have days like that? I blame it on lack of caffeine.

LUSTS made me laugh. When I saw MICROBLADING in the grid I checked to see who the constructor was. Had to be a woman. Really enjoyed today.

Rube 8:56 AM  

I agree with most everything. If Rex were in a tournament would he just quit? (since he is so intent on speed) No. So it would be nice to see him put up a 20 or 30 min. time.

With Agard as constructor, you shud be on the alert for his/his and other gender bending clues and answers

JD 9:17 AM  

@Pyro, I was imagining a twinge, but then I don't have the polar anatomy.

@Anoa, Saw a youtube once where a woman stacked sheet cakes into a layer cake. You'd almost have to serve it with a forklift.

GILL I. 9:24 AM  

Were the monogrammed towels on sale? The HERs was regular price but look....HIS and HIS are half off.
If I pulled my groin, I wouldn't be lusting after anything - well maybe a Norco. Then I get to the STUBS conundrum. I see I'm not alone. Phew. Methinks someone got a bit too cute on the clue.
So I get that off my (ahem) chest. And now I will sing some praises of this tricky but fun puzzle. I actually had some breezy moments. I knew ELASTI GIRL because we've watched "The Incredibes." I know all about MICROBLADING because I'm contemplating having it done. I used to have lots of eyebrows that I had to pluck just about every day. I guess I plucked them to death because now I have to draw them in and it's not fun - especially when one side arches higher than the other.
I wasn't around during the DINAH SHORE show but I plunked her in without a wink. I think I knew her from dating Burt Reynolds. Everyone tsked because he was so much younger. Pffft. I liked her better than Loni.
My favorite answer was LAYER CAKES and CRINGE WORTHY. If you had seen my first attempt at a 4 stacked layer cake, you would've cringed. My cake GASTRONOMY lacked its joie de vivre.
Favorite clue: Ball in a gym, maybe. We didn't have gym at ASM so our PROM was held at the Hotel Ritz in Madrid. No smelly gym shoes for us. We went in style.
Nice Friday romp, Claire and Erik. I only had one Friday Google. BILES. I certainly know who she is but I wasn't certain about ALT and that stupid LUSTS. "Lust, " she repeated a little louder, and then said it firmly once more.

Nancy 9:29 AM  

Since "filling in my eyebrows" has never once been a concern of mine (see my photo on xword.com on 3/14/19 if you want to know why), I had no idea what that long word was. At the end, I was left to deduce whether it was MICROLLADING crossing ELASTIGIRL or MACROLLADING crossing ELASTAGIRL. I guessed the "A" and was wrong.

What's that you say? You think I may have some other problems in my solve? You're so right -- and I only discovered them just now when I came here. In no particular order:

HIS AND HER instead of HIS AND HIS.

CELL instead of BULB (27A)

CELES instead of BILES (27D). I know BILES, but I didn't know she had a somersault named for her.

And, should I admit this one? Oh, heck, we're friends after all:
LERTS instead of LUSTS for "groin pulls?" -- the clue that baffled me the most in the puzzle. Should that have told me that I had a Problem? Well, duh.

(BTW, will someone please tell me why movie reviewers "trash" STUBS? Thanks so much!)

Not my finest puzzle-solving morning.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Yesterday we got something between a Monday and a Tuesday. Today we got something between a Tuesday and a Wednesday. If the pattern holds, next Monday we will finally get a puzzle with some challenge.

Do people know CELIE? I thought crossing an uninferrable name with a weak abbreviation was the low point.

Hand up for not knowing what eyebrow filling was. Purely a personal taste, but I prefer seeing people with no eyebrows to the ones that are drawn on. The latter creep me out a little.

William of Ockham 9:39 AM  

Very little Flash & Awe to this Friday

Ironically SE was by far easiest quadrant for me. I am better than REX. (I don't time)

MarthaCatherine 9:39 AM  

Okay. I live in South Carolina and know many many people who went to University of South Carolina. I confidently entered COCK in 24A. Then it crossed HISANDHIS and then I entered HARD- for 32D and then I see the clue for 24D (Groin pull) and I had to stop and say whoa! What is going on here?!?!?!?

Heh. I sorted it out.

Jim Spies 9:42 AM  

I really wanted some iteration of "Junior" or "Senior" for 50 US Senators.

"His and His" is definitely a thing, needs no marketing behind it, but was a small stumble for my hetero-centric viewpoint. Need to work on that.

I always think of "Lusts" as mental, not, um, "groinal"?

bauskern 9:57 AM  

HISANDHIS? DINAHSHORE? C'mon rex, this puzzle was gay woke, and you should be singing its praises. That you were uncomfortable with the masturbatory "taint" of GROIN PULL is a bit weird. It's the 21st century. get over it. And don't feel bad about labeling this puzzle as hard - - - if you were too afraid/embarrassed to post your time, we all know it turned into a struggle, and don't worry, we won't think the less of you for posting a 15-minute slog! Au contraire. sometimes it's ok to admit when when we've had a tough day, or made bad decisions. if only the president could do that.

What? 9:57 AM  

Assuming movie reviewers get tickets or at least paper passes, after viewing what else would you do with the now useless detritus?

William of Ockham 9:57 AM  

@Martha

-that was funny, wah

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
Why do women shave their eyebrows off, and then get them drawn on or tattooed on? Nine times out of ten they look way worse than natural hair. Leave your eyebrows alone! IMO.

ICED TEA! Hooray!

HIS and HIS went through HISANDHer, HerANDHIS, _ISANDHIS, even wanting to change the first I to Y to get MYS AND HIS. Har. HALF wanted to be mALe was a big draw. Like someone said earlier, HIS AND HIS would be confusing unless 1) you had a dedicated side for yourself and the other HIS, or 2) they are different colors. I believe the monogrammed ones are just for show anyway.

Thought this a good themeless. Just a little -ese, no dreck.

I've heard of "drop trou", so TROU not a problem for me. (Oh, good for you!) I'm not cultured in the ways of opera, poetry, painting et.al., but I seem to have heard of a lot of idioms that a bunch of y'all haven't. (Pats myself on the back.) Like POPO. Or Raise the Roof. Am I hip? Nah, just the ole brain remembers useless stuff, and then doesn't have enough space for useful stuff.

Technically had a one-letter DNF, but technically not. As in, finished puz, got the "Almost There", went back, scanned puz, thinking that whole West-Cemter towel/senator thing was the problem, but ended up finding I spelled RECONsILED with that S. Changed to a C, bam, Happy Music. So I'm leaning towards the Technically Not Not Finishing. 😋

Three F's
HARDY LUSTS
RooMonster
DarrinV

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Ok, you liked “along” but what does that answer mean? The 2nd part of the clue works, but I cannot comprehend the 1st part of the clue. Please enlighten me.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Fashion.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Please explain why 35 Across “Way to go” is along. The “...or, as two words...” part makes sense, but not the other. Will someone please tell me?

Pamela 10:10 AM  

Glad to see so many thought the puzzle was fun- surprised to see how many thought it was easy!




********SB SPOILER ALERT********

@jae, @TTrimble- PUTZ made me laugh, CHUTZPAH struck me as literally true for the editor, but CAPTCHA, the word that gave me QB status, took the (LAYER) CAKE. I thought I was rid of that after turning blue on this site! Seriously though, isn’t that a company name? So random, which words make the list and which ones don’t. You just have to laugh...

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

i acknowledge that agar is a top notch puzzle constructor, but every time i see his name i know there will be some eye rolling bs that's just him stroking his ego at being smarter than us. stubs and lusts being prime examples

What? 10:22 AM  

@pyroclasts. Never heard of Dinah Shore? Sigh. Fame is not only fleeting it approaches the speed of light. And what does this say about us ordinary folks who never appear in crosswords? Don’t want to think about it.
In about 100 years, all 7 billion or so souls on earth will be replaced. COVid. Tanked economies. Trump. The Trumps. Trump in-laws. Trumpists. Larry Kudlow.
On a lighter note, today’s crosswords are tomorrow’s bird cage liners.

What? 10:27 AM  

Go along - one word
A long way to go - two words

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Thank you.

JC66 10:35 AM  

HIS AND HIS towels

@puzzlehoarder

Like @Hartley 70 said, glad to see that your knees seem to be getting better.

BTW, it's Astoria, Queens not Queens Astoria

****SB ALERT****

Just curious that PUTZ was acceptable but PUTA wasn't.

Ciclista21 10:38 AM  

Rex, Rex, Rex, I’m usually right with you on critiques of a sloppily edited puzzle, but I can’t believe how much ink you spilled over STUBS today. It wasn’t that difficult for me, since TROU, LIMB and LAYS were all gimmes, producing __UBS. At first, I wanted some category of movies – flubs, maybe? But how-TOS insisted on an S beginning and, voila, STUBS.

OK, I agree, in hindsight, that the clue is dated, but it’s not totally unthinkable. Your objection that critics attend advance screenings is no doubt true of major media centers. But what of small regional papers like the Bugtussle Bugle, back in the day when it was still published daily, had an arts section and was locally owned? The critics went to opening nights, collecting their comp tickets on the way in.

So STUBS gets a pass from me.

LUSTS, as the answer to “groin pulls,” however, does not. In fact, it disgusts.

When I first read the clue, I suspected “groin” might be misdirection. Perhaps it was architectural, like a vaulted ceiling in an old stone church, and the “pull” would be the bell rope. When the crosses eventually revealed LUSTS, my reaction was a groan.

Even so, I assumed it was metaphorical, referring to a pang of desire. The idea of a physical, hands-on pull, as in masturbation, didn’t occur to me till I read your column. But it should have occurred to an editor. As I’m sure it did to Team Will, that lusty gaggle of eighth-grade schoolboys. I’m sure they all had a good giggle over that one!

Dear New York Times, please tell your puzzle editor to grow up!

TJS 10:38 AM  

Flew through about 80% of this one and was feeling kind of ticked off that Mr. Agard would be so easy on us. Then I had to do the ol' alphabet run to get "lusts".Dusts, gusts...aha! Then hit the wall in the NE. Brain just didn't want to remember sheet cake for some reason, and Haiti across the top was not helping. And this is why we are all supposed to be concerned about the inclusiveness of the NYT puzzle, so we can deal with "microblading"?
I think the Dinah Shore connection to Golf Hall of Fame was her sponsorship of a tournament which elevated the profile of the LPGA and was the first to get major TV coverage.
Loved Rex' rant on stub, one of his best. And he found someone on twitter who agreed, so he must be right.

Unknown 10:39 AM  

I thought sheet cakes were single-layered cakes, most often in a 9×13 pan. Layer cakes are mostly round and...stacked with layers.

mathgent 10:39 AM  

@ChuckD (6:13). I agree. Some of the clues are trying too hard. STUB, ALONG, TOS, GASTRONOMY.

I was surprised to see AliceFAYE. I’m ancient but the FAYE movies were before my time. But I remember her appearing with her husband Phil Harris on the Jack Benny show.

My wife and I this morning tried singing the “See the USA, in your Chevrolet” song DINAHSHORE did on her TV show but we couldn’t remember many of the words. I just found a black-and-white clip from 1953. Dinah delivered a long plug in person and then did the song. “See the USA, in your Chevrolet, America is waiting for you to call.”

Like Gill, I remember DINAHSHORE from when she and Burt Reynolds were together. I liked them both but I thought that she was too classy for him.

It didn’t occur to me until I read the comments here, but HISANDHIS towels don’t have any practical purpose. A gag gift, I suppose.



Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Stubs is A OK.

And Erik Agard is not smarter than me (Anon 10:17). He has more hair and ego, but not more brain power.

Best,

Walker Percy (The Moviegoer)

Banya 10:47 AM  

I was happy to see HISANDHIS and put it in right away because the hetero comparison is his and hers which doesn't fit...not his and her singular.
I have no idea what MICROBLADING is and I put in ELASTaGIRL right away because I remember the Incredibles, but also I spelled it wrong. So I finished the puzzle with MaCROBLADING & ELASTaGIRL and had an error that took me forever to find.

Georgia 10:49 AM  

Short for trousers, particularly in the party phrase "drop trou."

Whatsername 10:54 AM  

This was one of those days when I decided to read the review and comments before posting just to see if I need to temper my reaction; unfortunately it didn’t help much. I liked the puzzle and thought it had some very nice moments. It was challenging with some great answers, new and fresh. Loved the clues for PGA and BFF. LUSTS, not so much. More on that later.

In the eyebrow department, I’m much more like @GILL than @Nancy, but I don’t think MICROBLADING is for me. I’ve seen too many drawn on ones that didn’t end well. Quite a coincidence that I happened to have a LAYERCAKE in the oven this morning. My layers are round though, so not really made of sheets.

In the 1980s I was employed by the USDA. Then I finished out my career with the US Department of Transportation which, ODDLY enough, is not known as the USDT but as simply DOT. Gotta love the government and the acronyms. We had a saying in both agencies that “one aw $h!t wipes out 10,000 attaboys” which is pretty much the way I feel about the clue for 24D. No amount of sparkle or freshness can quite compensate for the distaste It triggered. Call me a prude if you wish but IMHO, that kind of crassness does not belong in the grid of what is supposed to be the class of the Crossword world.

Joe Dipinto 11:05 AM  

Dinah Shore played Melody in the Carol Burnett Show's movie parody "Went With The Wind". I really think the clue should have mentioned that, in view of the passing of Olivia De Havilland this week.

JC66 11:07 AM  

For those interested, Lollapuzzoola is holding their tournament on-line this year on August 15th.

Bases on passed years, I highly recommend it

You can registerhere.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Sheet cakes are thin cakes. They can then be stacked on top of one another, or layered, to make a larger cake. Have you never heard of a seven layer cake? Exactly what you'd think; seven layers (sheets) of cake stacked one on top of the other.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I call foul on HIS AND HIS (and not just because it ended my streak at 529): look up "his and hers towels" and you'll find towels with "his" and hers" monogrammed on them. While I realize HIS AND HIS would make sense if partners' initials were monogrammed on the towel, but that's hardly a common practice, or is it? However, I grant that HIS AND HER has a problem; so I refocus my blame on the clue: take out mention of monogramming and it would be less likely to stump.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Yes, layer cakes are usually round, but if you stack sheet cakes on top of one another, you will get a layer cake.

rjkennedy98 11:30 AM  

Also, not a fan of the his and his towels. Got me tripped up. Doesn't it completely defeat the entire purpose of the towels if they have the same monogrammed term on both of them?
Overall, really enjoyed the puzzle. Loved the clue for RED GIANT - stage for a big star? I also like the clue for LIMB - life partner. I love Erik's cluing style, but sometimes he should make sure they make sense from a real world perspective, not just a crossword perspective. STUBS is a perfect example of that. The "reviewer" is supposed to be misdirection, but it also invalidates the answer.

chuck w 11:36 AM  

I think "movie reviewers" was a good clue, because you would think that reviewers are "trashing" bad movies (I wrote "bombs" at first). So it's a funny misdirection.

Emma 11:38 AM  

@Angela too funny, I immediately thought of Fleabag too with "It'll pass!"

I liked this puzzle a lot. I, unlike Rex, am sad to report that I was indeed tricked by my own latent heterosexism - spent a lot of time scoffing at the grammatical inconsistency of HIS AND HER before I realized my mistake. Oof. Forever unlearning our biases, I suppose.

And Rex, while I generally believe you to be an unrelenting (yet endearing) curmudgeon on the topic of crosswords, I gotta agree with you about "groin," wtf.

David 11:40 AM  

My interpretation of the STUBS clue is that it referred to movie re-viewers, as in people who are seeing a movie for the second (or third) time. I think the idea is that cinephiles may save their stubs from the first viewing, but not from reviewing. Not defending the clue; I think it's too clever by half, but that's how I read it.

Masked and Anonymous 11:43 AM  

This FriPuz had some 'tude. Some tough entries and also some feisty clues. OK by m&e.

Had the most trouble at our house in the NE, due to: ELASTIGIRL [didn't know]. LAYERCAKES [ feisty clue]. ALS [who?]. MICROBLADING [didn't know]. FAYE [who?] TRES [Foreign lingo clue]. The What's that blank twins.
The nanoseconds were shredded like nobody's business, in that there NE. M&A felt like a day-um density symbol (yo, @51-Down).

Didn't know about DINAH SHORE's golfin career. Knew she liked to see the U-S-A in her Chev-ro-let, tho.

staff weeject pick: THU. Apt clue, for this puz: {Movie reviewer's "Thumbs up" stub??}.

fave crossword crossers: ABED/ABASE. Notes: ABED has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. ABASE shoulda maybe been clued as: {On first, say??} or somesuch.

HISANDHIS? har

Thanx for gangin up on us, Claire darlin & Erik dude. Luved the ORANGESODA clue.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


déjà vu+ all over again …
**gruntz**

TTrimble 12:05 PM  

@RooMonster
You're apparently not alone in thinking that not getting everything right in the first go means being DQ'd from F, i.e., a DNF. I guess I'm a simpler (or less rigorous or less upstanding) soul: if I get the happy music, then I finished! I look at it the same way I look upon writing an article: it may take more than a single draft, because I discover some mistakes, but that doesn't mean I never finished the paper! You deserve to pat yourself on the back not just for knowing the young'un's expressions like POPO, but for finishing the puzzle each and every time! Amirite? I'm sure I am! :-)

(Now if it were a crossword competition, like the big one in Stamford, then I suppose the rules are different, and there's no such thing as "happy music". Be funny if there were.)

Just by the bye: I don't think women (oh, let's say women) shave their eyebrows as much as they pluck them, and that's how one thing leads to another over time, like MICROBLADING. (I've heard it said: growing old is not for wimps.)

@blink474
Charming little comment you got there. But save the ad hominems for comment sections under tweets and YouTube videos. Where the trolls usually go to congregate.


---[SB Alert]---

-->> Spoilers for yesterday below <<--












Hey @Pamela, you're featured in today's SB! :-) I think we ought to coin an expression: when Pamela gets to QB first by a country mile, the rest of us poor schlubs (PUTZes?) have been PAMELA'D. Hey, that pangram works for me! :-)

Well, if we can have DONG, then why not PUTZ? And CHUTZPAH is just fine and dandy IMHO. (Fun fact: you can reap 383 points in one Scrabble play if you play with CHUTZPAH.) On the other hand, CATCHUP as a variant of the word from the Malay meaning "fish sauce", and that people like on their fries and burgers -- ugh, gag me with a spoon. (I mean the spelling, not the condiment.) And I ain't never heard of that as a melding of CATCH UP neither. Oh, and yeah, that thing we use to prove our personhood and not robothood: really, that's considered a word?? 'Kay....

HATHA, PHAT, TACH, TAPA: okay, if you say so. I'll try to remember that. (I only ever seem to see TAPAs. To me it's sort of like: yes, technically "spaghetti" is a plural form, and in a time of need maybe you'd be correct to point out to your server, "Garcon, there's a hair on my spaghetto!" But I don't think so. So I might regard the use of TAPA in a similar situation. Then again, I have so much to learn.)

Sam Ezersky. God love ya, kid.

Newboy 12:09 PM  

Thanks for a delightful romp in your debut Ms. Rimkus! And thanks too for Eric’s ongoing assistance in spreading the joy of Crossworld.

@Joaquin (12:06) is reflecting a bit of machismo?
Linum Home Textiles Terry 2-pk. ''His'' & ''His'' Hand Towels available at your local Kohl’s—even in Idaho! As Rex said, this puzzle is pretty gender balanced for the Ole Grey Lady. Liked the challenge of misdirection, however, that Rex decries; Ms Newboy has just dropped her hard copy, chagrined at that very clue coupled with ELASTIGIRL—a super character beyond our keen. Not a puz for those of us in our 8th decade? Although we probably have a leg up with DINAH SHORE being more than a name.

What a fun day.

Malsdemare 12:14 PM  

I've got to comment before I read ya'll 'cuz I LOVED this puzzle. And I don’t want no one bringin’ me down. Rex is being silly about STUBS; lots of movie reviewers don’t get passes (thinking of school newspapers here but rural papers like ours would also fit; also free-lancers maybe?) Anyway, it’s a dopey attempt to justify his getting all bollixed up. Stop it Rex; just admit that sometimes you’re a doofus like the rest of us.

I don’t know MICROBLADING but maybe I should. Age has done some really bizarre things to my once lush—nay, rampant—eyebrows and having never mastered either shaping with tweezers or the use of a pencil, I’m at a loss as to how to actually have eyebrows once I’ve plucked the ones that stick straight out and are 1/4 inch long. But I’m guessing this process would require a salon and no, not doing that.

I will admit my eyebrows went up a bit at LUSTS, but it never occurred to me that they should rise into my hairline—really? We’re taking the whole thing to [insert appropriate teenage euphemism here]? C’mon, some of us are still having our coffee.

My sticking place was in the NE; I originally tried syria as my “honey sweet” country, thinking, oh you know, maybe that where the word syrup derives. And then I made my brain actually do something besides guess, MALTA appeared under duress, and the rest is history.

I loved ELASTIGIRL, CRINGEWORTHY, PLANETARIA. Or maybe I just liked being able to get those with just a few crosses. Whatever. This was terrific. Okay, let’s see if I’m an outlier.

Whatsername 12:17 PM  

Thought maybe someone else would post this but I didn’t see it anywhere so I’ll do the honors. Here you are -
Miss DINA SHORE singing See the USA - a moment from a bygone time of innocence in our nation’s history. It felt good to go there AGAIN.

@Roo and @TTrimble: Shaving or plucking isn’t always the cause of lost eyebrows. For some women, they just begin to thin out over time. Conversely, the brows of men seem to get even fuller and bushier. It’s a cruel trick of nature. Aging is not for the faint of heart.

JD 12:17 PM  

@Fellas of the blog, Sitting in a meeting one day, all men and me, and one who was about 10 years my junior was a flat out looker. I think I might've stared a second a little to long when the guy sitting next to me nodded and said reverentially, "Did you know he's a scratch golfer?" I think we were both lusting in our own way. Mine was a slight groin twinge. For all I know, his was too.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

RE: LUSTS
TCM ran 'The Birdman of Alcatraz' last night, which I didn't watch, if only because I don't cleave to Lancaster. So I went to the wiki. Turns out Lancaster's Stroud has nothing to do with the real Stroud. Turns out that Stroud spent the last 50-odd years of his life in various prisons. Further, he was said to be (and said to admit same in a late life interview) an aggressive homosexual. He went in at 19, and never left. This was 1909 and further. What other choice would any guy have? so, yeah, the clue can make sense.

Giovanni 12:25 PM  

I was wondering if when Rex says he struggled with a section, he means it took him 45 seconds instead of 5 seconds? Because I was going great and I had the whole thing done in 30 minutes except for 3 words. I won't cheat so it took me 40 minutes to figure it out. I think Rex never gets stuck where he stares at something for more than a minute. Let alone 40!
I don't like to be stuck, but I knew where the mistake was and that if I looked it up, I'd be pissed at myself.
It was the LALAW answer, I think parsing it as the 2 letters L and A as the sound "la" got to me. And what's funny is I knew it would be a parsing issue like that.

For "blew away" I had ACE as in I blew away that test, but I knew that was a stretch and probably my error, but all I could think of was something blowing away in the wind. I had microbeading or microblading but LALAC just is not a TV show.
I'm glad I stuck with it and finally got AWE, doh, once again.

My son gave me ELASTIGIRL and I told him he was wrong because ElastiCgirl didn't fit, that it had to be ElasticMan, and he said NO ITS GIRL! And walked out of the room disgusted with me.

pmdm 12:27 PM  

Almost a century of comments and it's not yet noon. Wow.

Some constructors like at least one entry per puzzle that refers to the Gay Lifestyle, or whatever is appropriate to refer to it. So HISANDHIS should have been obvious to all solvers who've been around awhile. With Eric you have to be on the lookout, also, with entries lilke BFF and so forth.

The clue for STUBS defeated me, but I don't think it surprised me or was unfair. It's a type of clue that seems to me to be common to find on Friday or Saturday. One of the types of clues that, if you don't get it right away, can be a tough nut to crack.

Seems like the test for determining when sexually suggestive entries/clues are permissible for inclusion has been easing up for a while now. And some constructors seem to try to push the bar as far as the editor will allow. (That's based partly on reading the constructors' comments.) While a take a fairly liberal approach to that subject, I balk at clues that seem to expect me to think in what some would call a lews fashion. I felt the clue for LUSTS crossed the line.

Overall, my reaction to the puzzle was more positive than negative. But overall, I would not use the grid as an example of how a master can create a great puzzle for the masses.

Pete s 12:37 PM  

The northeast was my downfall. Having worked in the printing industry at Eastman Kodak I confidently put in paper reams for 18 across. After stumbling with that for a while, I realized it started la_er____ and realized it had to be laser paper. My mind couldn’t get off that and I had to cheat to finish

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Mals,

Not only do plenty of movie reviewers sometimes buy a ticket just like us plebes, they have to pay for popcorn too.
I mention because Roger Ebert once left a movie because the popcorn was too salty. Went to a bar across the street where a mailman was playing guitar and singing. Turns out that mailman was John Prine. Waaaay before he was, well, John Prine.

jberg 1:02 PM  

Drat! I loved the puzzle, but didn't finish -- I had to look up BILES, though I remembered her once I saw the results. LUSTS was tricky, and I'm still having a hard time figuring out how POP can be ALT. I've got at least two inlaws who play alt rock, but...I guess I'll go look it up.

Very embarrassed not to think of HIS AND HIS.
@Joaquin, here they areat Kohl's. Similar towels available at Etsy, Amazon, and many other places. In my 2-person household, the towels aren't monogrammed at all, but somehow each of us remembers where theirs was last hung up. It was all made worse because I couldn't decide whether MICROBLADING or MICROcLADING (you know, wrapping tiny little threads around each hair) was better, and went with the latter, thereby blocking BULB.

@Nancy, I always like to see what people look like, so I followed up on your reference -- but you had it wrong, you're at xwordinfo.com, not xword.com.

Anon 10AM, you've got A LONG way to go if you can't figure that one out. But I guess you can just go ALONG.

DINAH SHORE was a Big Star. So it's a little winsome so see she's mainly remembered for her Chevy ads. I guess it shows the power of advertising.

My view on STUBS and LAYER CAKES: hey, it's Friday. Vague clues are part of what makes it hard.

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

Har, every time I read the clue for 24D, I could feel my non-MICROBLADed eyebrows raise in disbelief. Luckily, I knew Simone Biles had a move named after her which helped dispel Her at 31A and gave me BULB.

I was happy to get my start in the far NE with Hilton ALS.

My mess was in Rex's area but not for the same reason. It's because I misinterpreted the clue for 28D and entered PLANEToids. But "drop TROU" and "life and LIMB" got me out of that.

My favorite clue was for 1A, PROM being a "ball in a gym". I had to think, with _____AH_____ at 56A whether there was a golf person sarAH but ADO prompted me towards DINAH.

At 15 minutes, I think this was in my average Friday range. Not easy but no real hold-ups either. Nothing like the near hour last week's Stumper took me!!

Claire Rimkus, congratulations on the NYT debut and thanks to EA also. Nice job.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Once I realized it was STUBS, my thinking was that movie "reviewers" were people who just saw the movie in the theater and were discussing it with other people while walking out and trashing the stub as they left the theater. Literally reviewing the movie with each other.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

@jberg:
In my 2-person household, the towels aren't monogrammed at all, but somehow each of us remembers where theirs was last hung up.

yeah, but imagine a household (I once knew of one) where a both towel is used but once. I guess that's one of the reasons suburban housefraus just don't want low-income housing in their tracts: all those folks smelling of used towels. yuck.

albatross shell 1:35 PM  

Different script or color of script on those towels?

egsforbreakfast 1:38 PM  

I ran a 100 meter race yesterday and had a very fast time, except for the fall I took at around 90 meters, which made the overall result quite slow. Another way of saying this would be “I ran a terrible 100 meter race yesterday.”

Mike B 2:07 PM  

Used often for "dropping trou" i.e. mooning 😊

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

Inclusivity is a wonderful thing, but "His and His" towels? C'mon...that's not a thing. Even if a Kohls in Idaho is selling them, that doesn't make them real.

Dave S 2:26 PM  

Tough, but an enjoyable solve. Hard to believe Alice Faye is still hanging in there in crosswords, but I won't say anything at the risk of alienating her fans. I admittedly got stuck on His and His, and it wasn't until I forced myself to remember what an eponym was, and then to recall the three names I know in gymnastics, that it made any sense. It took me a while to get stubs (since neither planetaria or red giant came quickly, and while I had trou it seemed weird), but when I did I thought it was clever. As was planetaria for that matter. The clue for tres seemed really forced, and, yeah, there are rye beers but hardly to the extent there is rye whiskey, but really only Faye and trou were cringeworthy for me,and there was a lot of fun stuff.

old timer 2:36 PM  

Good puzzle but DNF because I have never heard of HISANDHIS towels. Nor of ALT-pop. I figured there must be ALe-pop out there, and Beles, and sure, groin pulls could be LUreS. LUSTS would have struck me as beyond the NYT pale.

I learned about female LUSTS in boarding school. Long ago, the only time boys of 14 or 15 ever got close to girls was at school dances. Which were often pretty tame affairs in public school gyms -- the action, if any, took place afterwards, in parked cars. But in boarding schools, the slow dances moved from the decorous, to cheek-to-cheek, to absolute LUST fests as the evening wore on. For many a nerdy boy, the first time he realized he was sexually attractive to at least one girl, was at that kind of dance. I always was surprised that the girls' school deans did not interfere, but I guess as long as there was no overt making out, no hands going where they shouldn't, then whatever was happening with intertwined legs was ignored.

So I certainly learned about groin pulls then, but totally forgot to use that memory in the solve.

Carola 2:50 PM  

Nicely challenging for me and fun to work out. Like some others, I wrote in ELASTaGIRL, and that made MICROBLADING difficult to see until the end. Forget the LUSTS, I got my grid jollies from the terrific long Downs.

Angela 3:08 PM  

😆

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

I know a lot of folks on this board love Ruth Bader Gimsberg.
Esquire's twitter account currently has a valentine to the jurist called
" 5 Times RBG Was a Boss".
I know @ Z thinks it's a term used for men by men to be misogynistic. But don't you believe for a second.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

Had the same problem as OFL in SE ... except that I must be older. For "life partner" I had LOOK (that other magazine). LOL

Unknown 4:08 PM  

Excuses excuses. Too old for “life and limb” but young enough to buy movie tickets online.

Richardf8 4:20 PM  

Different colored embroidery?

Pamela 4:44 PM  

Up late, slept late, had to scramble for a lunch date... Almost like Real Life, or LBC (Life before COVID). I went O U T for lunch with my daughter, who had to be here for a COVID test for a small procedure to be done early next week. Luckily the expected rain was barely a drizzle, and we found a place nearby with an awning that also had one table free.

Now I’ve had time to properly catch up with the commentariat- you’ve all been very busy today!
@Angela- I loved Fleabag! Saw PWB on stage, which turned out to be the same material as season 1, great both live and on TV. But my top fave is Killing Eve, even though this last season (by someone else) wasn’t as strong IMHO. She really started something there- can’t wait to see what happens next!

I raised my eyebrows at 41D because it was so unexpected- but I wasn’t offended. 41A, the athlete, was a complete mystery, so I didn’t fill in the L until I had all the other letters both ways, and had to accept that yes, the NYT allowed LUST in a puzzle. Quel surprise! But it’s only adultspeak after all, nothing so terrible.

I did love seeing ICEDTEA, correctly including the D. That doesn’t usually happen. And Simone BILES had me enthralled during the Olympics that year. I still needed the B from BULB to remember that, oh yeah, they named her new move after her.

I watch the Great British Baking Show, have seen plenty of them being made, and still didn’t get LAYERCAKES from sheets.

RE: See the USA... My parents got our first car when I was 9 or 10, a used Chevy we called Gussie, the jolly green go-cart. We all sang along with Dinah when that commercial came on. On Sunday afternoons, Mom and Dad, my younger brother and sister and I would all pile in and go to Buttrick’s for ice cream cones, then Dad would take us adventuring. He’d turn down roads he didn’t know just to see where they went. Once we ended up deep in the woods somewhere, which enchanted us all. At some point, we parked and got out to explore and found a lovely clearing not far from the road. That became a favorite spot for picnics all that summer.

Buttricks was in Lincoln, MA, but the woods were in Bedford, I think. There’s a picture on line of ‘our’ ice cream stand.
https://lexingtonhistory.pastperfectonline.com/photo/E2AC75FB-5BF0-486D-B907-492416911395


SB ALERT*****

@JC66- I tried PUTA after PUTZ too. I mean really, why not?

@TTrimble- I’m at the back of the pack today. Just got started, and A LONG way to go.

The letters are funny today. Should I take it personally ;/

Anoa Bob 5:02 PM  

Finally a thread we can all sink our teeth into, CAKES! A homemade cake was a regular dessert for us several times a week when I was a kid. We had chocolate cake, coconut cake, pineapple upside down cake---I could go on---but we never had a LAYER CAKE. Sure, the cake was usually several LAYERs stacked up, but those were part of the cake, not the CAKE itself. Besides, would it not be LAYERED CAKE?

The "sheet" part is what really threw me. Sheet for me means something extremely thin and relatively very wide, like a sheet of paper or a bed sheet. None of the cakes nor any of the LAYERs that we had were anything close to being sheets. Calling a CAKE a sheet is a misnomer if yous ask me and I think this usage should be stricken from the general lexicon. When does that committee meet?

Z 5:23 PM  

@David11:40 and @anon1:30 - I think both of your interpretations work. I was thinking more ALONG the lines of @anon. Isn’t the first thing everyone does is share their reviews as they leave the theater?

@jberg - I didn’t know it was DINAH SHORE doing the Chevy ads but I do remember her talk shows.

@Anon3:20 - If you don’t recognize how “5 Times RBG was a Boss” is highly gendered you could probably read up on the topic of gender.

Sheet cake recipes
Sheet LAYER CAKE
Or visit the bakery in your local grocer. I bet they have several on sale right now.

sara 5:40 PM  

SB howl of frustration for today's list, can't give spoilers
but some of those words are IMPOSSIBLE!!!

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

@Anoa Bob:
pineapple upside down cake

OK, riddle me this Batman. When *I* was a kid, La Madre opened up a box of mixes. One was 'cake' and the other was 'pudding'. The cake mix went in the pan first, and the pudding mix on top. Into the oven for however long, and it came out with the pudding on the bottom and the cake on top.

So, what's the brand name of said device? Not a gotcha question, since I've no recollection.

Eniale 6:24 PM  

So glad to find it's not just my dirty mind!

RPCV Cameroon 6:35 PM  

Something I’ve always wondered. Are the puzzles reviewed by Will Shortz in a blinded fashion (as scientific articles). That is the reviewer doesn’t know the author. With all the discussion about favoritism and bad puzzles perhaps this would answer the question. Is it poor selection or choosing favorites?

oisk17 7:11 PM  

I finished it. No real problems except in the center, with Biles, Alt, and Lusts. Biles was famous enough so I can't complain, but the clue for "lusts" was just awful. And there are so many ways it COULD have been clued. I guess alt pop is a thing... Never heard of elastigirl, but it was gettable.

A few people mentioned "fleabag." It was strongly recommended by a friend, so I watched the first season. Kept waiting vainly for it to get better. It didn't. Told my friend, and she said that the second season was better. And it was. It was still silly, contrived, and absurd, with unattractive characters, but it was better than the first season. Like the Mets' second season was better than their first. Is it a gender thing? An age thing?

Pamela 8:44 PM  



SB ALERT——- NO SPOILERS——-

Aargh! Not happening for me today, in spite of the (ahem) attractive set of letters and a grand start. I’m defeated at Genius, but haven’t peeked just in case inspiration strikes. Which I doubt.

@Sara- Is your frustration like mine? Or have you had a little lookie, and are infuriated by what we’re expected to know? Or not know, depending whether he actually wants us to succeed or would rather just drive us all nuts.

Which I am anyway, so whatever...

JC66 9:06 PM  

****SB ALERT****

I'm three short of QB and taking break. Not optimistic.

Anonymous 9:11 PM  

@z
Um. No. It’s you who needs the refresher course on gender, biology, and slang.
But keep on pitching.😘

Richardf8 9:43 PM  

All I can figure is that PUTZ has achieved the status of a loan word, but PUTA has not.

JC66 9:56 PM  

****SB ALERT****

I quit, and I'm glad I did because I never heard of and never would have guessed the three words I was missing.

Pamela 10:24 PM  

SB. ALERT*****


@JC66- OK, now I quit, too. Misery loves company. I was 4 short. One was another form of a word I got by accident, having no idea of its meaning. The other 3 were even more alien to my world.

But all is not lost- the Saturday puzzle is available on line!

ow a paper cut 10:40 PM  

Thanks : )

EdFromHackensack 11:37 PM  

HISANDHIS??? give me a break. awful puzzle on a few counts

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

Wonderul puzzle, very short time for me for a Friday. And despite Rex's cavils about reviewers not needing tickets therefore not having stubs I thought that was a good clue. You could read reviewers as someone who has viewed it more than once and therefore has no need to keep their stub as a souvenir. I liked this one a lot.

Pdxrains 4:44 PM  

Joaquin, I know this might upset your little bubble, but believe it or not their are lots of same sex couples out there...and it's ok and great.

PhotoAde 9:58 PM  

He and He here. The reason HISANDHIS works for monogrammed towels is that you monogram your actual initials in the towels (i.e. we are REM and AFJ) so you can tell them apart. HISANDHIS is a descriptor for the set of towels, not the literal monogram.

BTW, I did a google search and saw pictures of towels with "HIS" and "HIS". Like you, I agree this defeats the purpose!

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