Shadow play genre / FRI 6-25-21 / Quick post-wedding getaway / Group co-founded by Eazy-E / Bassi first woman to earn doctorate in science / Hit HBO series based on Liane Moriarty novel / Beadlike bit on surfer's necklace / World's largest pasta producer

Friday, June 25, 2021

Constructor: Scott Earl

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: LAURA Bassi (7D: ___Bassi, first woman to earn a doctorate in science (University of Bologna, 1732)) —

Laura Maria Caterina Bassi Veratti (29 October 1711 – 20 February 1778) was an Italian physicist and academic. Recognized and depicted as "Minerva" (goddess of wisdom), she was the first woman to have a doctorate in science, and the second woman in the world to earn the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Working at the University of Bologna, she was also the first salaried woman teacher in a university. At one time the highest paid employee of the university, by the end of her life, Bassi held two other professorships.[3] She was also the first woman member of any scientific establishment, when she was elected to the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna in 1732 at 21.

Bassi had no formal education and was privately tutored from age five until she was twenty. By then she was well versed in major disciplines including sciences and mathematics. Noticing her ability, Prospero Lambertini, the Archbishop of Bologna (later Pope Benedict XIV), became her patron. With Lambertini's arrangement she publicly defended forty-nine theses before professors of the University of Bologna on 17 April 1732, for which she was awarded a doctoral degree on 12 May. A month later, she was appointed by the university as its first woman teacher, albeit with the restriction that she was not allowed to teach all-male classes. Lambertini, by then the Pope, helped her to receive permission for private classes and experiments, which were granted by the university in 1740.

Bassi became the most important populariser of Newtonian mechanics in Italy. She was inducted by the Pope to the Benedettini (similar to modern Pontifical Academy of Sciences) as an additional member in 1745. She took up the Chair of Experimental Physics in 1776, the position she held until her death. She is interred at the Church of Corpus Domini, Bologna. (wikipedia)

• • •

This was good. Like, aggressively good. Like, really coming at you with all the sparkling fill. A totally bedazzled puzzle. Do you remember the Bedazzler? 

So, yeah, like that, but in puzzle form, and slightly less tacky. It's stridently feminist and has a great sense of fun. The colloquial phrases are the real highlight of the day. I was completely sold very early on with "I COULD EAT," and luckily that wasn't just a one-off; we also get "WELL, OK" and "CAN WE TALK?" All the long fill is at least solid—merely solid in the NE, a little livelier in the SW, and then just flat-out fantastic in the NW and SE, to say nothing of the center stack, which is wonderful. Any issues I had with the puzzle (don't worry, I'll get to them! :) were small. Overall, this puzzle is exactly what a Friday should be: playful, polished, and sassy. 

Bridget Riley, "Shadow Play" (1990)

It was also easy to move through, *except* when I tried to move out of that NW corner and into the rest of the grid. I finished off that corner, but as you can see, there are just two teeny tiny exits from that corner, both of them the width of one square. So I threaded PUKA SHELL through one of the exits (after having changed it earlier from PAWA SHELL ... "Pawa" being a misspelling of "Paua," the Maori (and general NZ) word for abalone ... whose shells surfers don't generally wear around their necks ... sometimes being married to a Kiwi can create language confusion). And I guessed that LAUR- was a LAUR*A*, but neither that "A" nor the HELL dangling out of the NW corner down into the center of the grid was any help getting further traction. This is because I couldn't figure out 22A: Partner of day (AGE) from just A- and I really couldn't figure out 25A: Spirals out over the winter holidays? (HAMSfrom just H- (needed every cross for that one and only then remembered that a spiral ham (?) exists ... I don't eat HAMS). So, tiny exits = total stoppage. End of flow. This is why I am not a big fan of the tiny exits. Further aggravation: in trying to get some traction with the short stuff, I ran into not one not two but three "?" clues in a row. That HAMS clue was bad enough, but then to have the next two clues I looked at (26D: Had quite a trip? / 38A: Stub hub?) do that same coy winky "?" thing to me, blargh. Space these "?" clues out, please. Anyway, stuck, here:

But I rebooted fairly easily in the SW with ANI RICA AGATE ANSEL etc., and once I brought that corner up into the cent of the grid and knit it with the "HELL" that was dropping down from above, I was in business, and things really took off from there. Since I had the first letters in place, that center stack fell quickly, bam bam bam. Here was the first bam:

After this, it was all downhill (in the sense that things got easier, not in the sense that things got worse ... it's not the greatest metaphor). Only one other thing about the grid gave me pause, and it's exactly the thing you'd expect would give me pause if you've been reading me for any length of time—it's a potentially problematic crossing. Of not-universally-famous proper nouns. At the vowel. True, DIANA Taurasi is very famous if you follow basketball (I knew her name), and NIALL Horan was a member of an *extremely* famous band (One Direction). But still, for many a solver, crossing their names at that "I" is gonna cause some slightly nervous guessing. Now, DIANA > DEANA and NIALL > NEALL, so the "I" seems like the most reasonable guess by far. So I think the cross is fair, ultimately. This felt like a close call, though, because I can imagine someone guessing "E." When you cross trivia at a vowel like this, no other vowel besides the correct vowel should be truly plausible. So even though I knew "I" was right there, that cross HIT A NERVE. I'm OK now, though. And as I say, this puzzle was overwhelmingly delightful.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Bobby 6:24 AM  

I think it's just me but I feel a little lied to by the minuscule cluing. You ALWAYS spell minuscule with ANI. It's right there as the second letter

Lewis 6:39 AM  

Let me say right up front that I loved this puzzle. But when I finished it, something felt askew and I couldn’t put my finger on it. But then it hit me. As I looked at the puzzle, the answers were mostly in-the-language everyday words and phrases, and yet, and yet, the puzzle felt so very fresh. Indeed, it was that freshness that made this puzzle special for me.

Then I went to XwordInfo, where they have lots of details about each puzzle, and saw the reason: This puzzle has 13 NYT debuts! Holy magoley! That’s 13 new answers, yes, but also 13 clues with a fresh feel. So first of all, wow! That’s an impressive construction accomplishment. And second of all, wow! Way to add zing to a solve.


Wow, Scott, excellent one and thank you for all the work you put into this (“almost 20 different versions”)! Spiral around again soon, will you please?

ncmathsadist 6:48 AM  

I didn't like the NIALL (strange spelling)/ DIANA cross at all.

PGregory Springer 6:49 AM  

DIANA/NIALL ended my streak.

Hanne 6:50 AM  

this wasn’t too had for a Friday - though I never get US sports questions. One thing - I still don’t understand why garage band was STP.

JOHN X 7:08 AM  

Oh my goodness gracious.

I almost got a yeast infection from this puzzle.

I liked it though.

Ω 7:16 AM  

@Hanne - That’s “garage bRand” and STP is a gasoline additive for cars.

@Bobby - I had the same niggling reaction to that clue. “Yeah Yeah, Shortz, ‘miniscule’ - but you’re pushing it.”

Second day in a row where the natick didn’t register, which I imagine is the danger for the cluer. The clue writer knows the answers so the crossing of PPP vowels that are a bit niche doesn’t register. I know Taurasi mainly by her last name, but once I had a couple of letters DIANA wasn’t an issue, but I’m a bit of a sports-junkie. As a result, I never even noticed that the cross was NIALL Horan, which is definitely a WOE. I know One Direction primarily because they played something like three consecutive sold out dates at Ford Field when I lived nearby and the neighborhood was overrun by tweens and teens and their parents (way less creepy than when the Jehovah Witnesses were at Ford Field - hundreds of tour buses loaded with people dressed for church on a weekday is just a little weird - But the overlap on Friday evening with the parrot heads made for a truly surreal experience while walking the dogs). This is why test solvers are needed and I’m surprised they don’t catch these naticks more often. Or maybe there was a big knock-down drag out fight over WNBA v British Royal Family cluing and currency and the WNBA won out. I’d say I v E is a coin flip, especially since they are both first names and first names are notoriously randomly spelt.

Otherwise, what Rex said. Lots of good clean fun with a wee bit of aggressive diversity. I don’t know about you, but I appreciate a wee bit of aggressive diversity. What is the over/under on complaints about the puzzle’s “wokeness” in the comments today. I’m going to say 7 and take the over. I’d put the line even higher but I’m guessing at least three of them don’t make it past the moderators.


Son Volt 7:28 AM  

Didn’t like it as much as Rex but overall a good puzzle. The center stack was solid but I’d rather just see ME TOO and save the real estate for something other than the redundant MOVEMENT. Don’t know the HBO show. Thought the overall clueing was a little flat - the SE corner was clunky for me.

Liked PUKA SHELL, TABLE LEGS and DREAM CAR. For me HIT A NERVE was off as was I COULD EAT. Always love to see ANSEL Adams anywhere.

Enjoyable Friday solve.

Hungry Mother 7:34 AM  

Couldn’t get the C in CELIA. The trivia just is getting out of hand.

kitshef 7:42 AM  

I object on principle to anything HBO in my puzzles (and anything Apple), but the rest of this was really good. I liked almost all the fill except that, as is often the case, the stuff Rex liked the most was the stuff I liked the least (I COULD EAT being the prime example).

Not everything was familiar to me (CELIA, NIALL, DREAM CAR), but they were all crossed well except maybe CELIA/LSAT. Don’t like proper names crossing initialisms, but I think LSAT is well known enough to skate by.

[addendum: I SEE NIALL/DIANA is causing consternation. For those not into sports at all, I can see that.]

DeeJay 7:54 AM  

The triple 13s make this puzzle one of the best ever. All the other stuff was joyful. More, please.

Betty F. 7:57 AM  

The fact that Andrew Cuomo is still governor of New York is evidence that the ME TOO MOVEMENT is dead.

pabloinnh 7:57 AM  

I liked this one because it put up a good, fair fight. I was off to a flying start with the Old MacDonald clue, where I filled in EIOED without hesitation, thinking how clever all that was, but things did get better after I erased it.

Have never seen BIGLITTLELIES but as an American I've heard of it. What happened to the METOOMOVEMENT? That took too long to see. I thought we had MEETCUTES a while ago because it struck me as odd then and still does. Discovered another person practicing OPART and was reminded that X does not instantly equal TEN. Also, HAMS is not a plural you see every day. And I've never heard of a MINIMOON, but it sort of made sense.

Nice Friday indeed, SE. Thanks for your Sinister Erudition.

OffTheGrid 8:06 AM  

Maybe @Rex has lowered his standards for Friday puzzles. There were too many CUTESy answers like MINIMOON and MEETCUTES. There were wonky clues like the ones for ANTS and HAMS. There were gratuitous "?'s". The Miniscule clue has been mentioned. As I've said before, I enjoy solving any puzzle, but this one was just not very polished.

Ω 8:08 AM  

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product names, and other Proper nouns as a percentage of puzzle answers. Anything over 33% is going to make the puzzle especially difficult for some subset of solvers, often while a different subset finds the puzzle especially easy.

20 of 68 for 29.4%, equally distributed between 10 across and 10 down answers. This is not over the 33% line, and we have seen puzzles above 40%. I included IMAGES because of the Google clue, but not PUKA SHELL because I only ever count thins as “Pop Culture” when a name “Bridget Riley” is involved somehow. ME TOO MOVEMENT qualifies as a Proper Noun and Pop Culture in my counting, so it was also included in the 20.
The other aspect of high PPP is that the higher it is the more likely it is to end up with a natick, and we see that today.

Kevin 8:15 AM  

I liked all of it, but I’m surprised Rex singled out “I could eat” since that one was a bit off to my ear.

When someone says “I could eat,” that signifies to me that he or she is a bit peckish but maybe not totally hungry. It’s the sort of thing one says when invited to lunch at 11:00 am.

The clue, on the other hand, “Yeah, lunch now works for me,” seems to refer to scheduling. Like, I have some time right now before a 2:00 meeting, so “Yeah, lunch now works for me.”

This is the tiniest of quibbles, but I think the inclusion of the word “now” in the clue is what is off. Had it just said, “Yeah, lunch works for me,” that would have come a lot closer to the wushu-washy interest also captured by the answer.

mmorgan 8:17 AM  

Hard hard hard! But really good. I was thrilled to finish it. But Rex says “easy-medium”?!?! Blargh. Some of it felt a bit forced or off, but mostly in a good way. I’ll be happy with more like this!

angela 8:21 AM  

new puzzler here. can anyone tell me why local is the answer for lite?

angela 8:25 AM  

can anyone tell me why local is the answer for lite?

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

@7:16- You’re obviously not a gambler but to state the obvious: the one making the over/under doesn’t get to pick a side. Otherwise they’d never lose. I’ll make the over/under of comments today 1,590 and I’ll take the under.

bocamp 8:29 AM  

Thx Scott for a crunchy and very challenging Fri. puz! :)

Very tough solve (beyond Sat. hard).

Way above my knowledge base. I've so much to learn.

Nevertheless, always welcome a challenge, and this was definitely one.

Did manage to get it right, tho, and enjoyed the battle. :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

albatross shell 8:32 AM  

I was half dooked and half naticked by COSI crossing OP ART. Or is OP ART OPART now or is OPART something else? O was the 4th vowel I tried there. Thought we were talking plays, actors, voices, e-performances. O Hell.

Good Friday. Fresh and then some.

JD 8:34 AM  

Just to myself the other day that the crossword was nothing but an escapist 7- to 45-minute distraction from the world's woes and maybe I should give it up. Thank heavens for this puzzle.

On Xword Info, the constructor said, "… hope more of my playful clues survive the editing process in the future." Wonder what they were! I have a few to offer for future endeavors.

Rhymes with Ovid
Not just a Rocky Mountain beer anymore
Capital crowd rowdies revelation
The end of you and your money
June birthday sign but also a disease
Privileged rich white woman disaster
Oh no you don't!
Payment on the highway to hell

Maybe blue lives don't matter after all
Death and taxes
Voter suppression
Death toll

Bean 8:34 AM  


Ω 8:36 AM  

@angela - LO-CAL, not LOCAL

Hey Z, Are you ready to grab a bite?
Yeah, lunch now works for me.


Hey Z, Are you read to grab a bite?

This edition of Z’s Mystery Solved Theater was brought to you by Z’s Placebo and Tentacle, fine dining and drinking since 2021

Nancy 8:36 AM  

The good news. I learned MINIMOON. By tomorrow I'll forget it, natch, but it's one of the good neologisms -- like staycation. And I liked ME TOO MOVEMENT over MALE PRIVILEGE a lot. They're both also perfectly situated over BIG LITTLE LIES -- which would have been quite wonderful if BIG LITTLE LIES hadn't been clued by some unknown-to-me TV series.

But CAN WE TALK was wonderfully and intriguingly clued.

What spoiled the puzzle for me? DIANA crossing NIALL. LAURA crossing MLS crossing STP. BIG LITTLE LIES crossing CELIA. Names that caused me much suffering, and not in a good way.

And what on earth is a PUKA SHELL? And why are HAMS "spirals"? My last letter in was the H of this fiendish cross, it was a guess, and I'm lucky indeed that it was right.

A tough puzzle for me and one that I didn't really enjoy.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Lo-cal, like diet food.

Amie Devero 8:37 AM  

Angela: it's LO-CAL (as in Miller Lite.)

Anthony 8:39 AM  

Garage bRand.STP is an automotive lubricant brand.

Anthony 8:42 AM  

Advertising language for low calorie.

Brad Findell 8:48 AM  

Overall an excellent puzzle. But isn't TABLE LEGS like GREEN PAINT?

Ω 8:49 AM  

They arrived early today.

@8:28 - You’re right, I don’t gamble because I understand the math. I also understand that when someone says something like I did this morning on a crossword blog that no actual gambling is going to occur, it’s just a rhetorical device. Now let me set the over/under on how many inane and irrelevant retorts you’re going to try to post today. 10. Oh, and let’s set the over/under on how long it will be before you say something so offensive a Moderator has to spike your comment. 11:00 And we might as well set one on how long after that you will try to post some whiny comment demanding an explanation for why your post got deleted. 32 minutes.

puzzlehoarder 8:53 AM  

An excellent puzzle the solving of which was totally marred by my bad spelling. It's completely ironic that there was a misspelling clue today. ANI? God only knows how I'd butcher that word. My piece de resistance today was to spell WEEVIL as WEAVEL like it was WEASEL only with a V. I always rely on the crosses to correct my misspellings and today neither came through for me. Not until I played whack a consonant between RAD and RAV with no congrats did I finally realize how evil WEAVEL was. The correct spelling came back to me and so did the embarrassingly obvious REC.
The disaster didn't stop there. I still had to change NEALL to NIALL to get the congrats. Just a dumpster fire of complete failure. I always hate solving on my phone which just added to the aggravation.
@Lewis, thanks for the list of debuts I haven't used xwordinfo in forever and can't work up the interest to try. I knew this puzzle had to be loaded with them.
For anyone who doesn't know it STP is both a brand and a band. I don't know if you'd label them as garage though. Shame about that lead singer.

SouthsideJohnny 8:54 AM  

Some real good stuff today. I frequently really get stumped on Fridays, today there was a lot I could handle, which was fun. OPART crossing ESTER was a bit Naticky for me, but that's fine. COSA seems like a bit of an outlier - but it's the Times and it's Friday, so not at all unexpected. Some nice clues (as others have pointed out) - personally I got a chuckle out of the clue for ATE IT.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

@Z-Don’t feed the trolls. It’s obvious that guy is getting to you. Be better than them. Ignore them.

Unknown 9:07 AM  

Finished the puzzle ok, but meetcutes? It was the only possible answer but I dunno. Didn't like it.

Duane 9:08 AM  


Anonymous 9:12 AM  

@Nancy. I agree that the HAMS clue was awful. There is such a thing as a spiral cut HAM but HAMS don't "spiral out" over the winter holidays or any other time. This was just one of several bad clues. The WTF to AHA ratio was about 5-1.

Barbara S. 9:16 AM  

After roaming the grid and thinking I couldn’t get a TOEhold anywhere, I landed in the SW, got RICA crossing AGATE and was suddenly away to the races. I ended up solving the puzzle in slightly more than half my usual Friday time. I liked the central stack – the HBO series (if you haven’t seen it or read the book) fits right in thematically with the other two answers – no spoilers.

As with yesterday’s potential naticks, I filled in the common “I” in DIANA and NIALL with very little thought, even though I know the names of neither individual. Sometimes it helps when your imagination is turned off and every possibility doesn’t occur to you. I thought I COULD EAT worked with its clue, but I would have taken out the “now.” CAN WE TALK could have been clued via Joan Rivers, thus upping the PPP count, so I guess we should be glad.

I liked the optimism of LOOKING UP and the sudden shock of HIT A NERVE. I liked learning the chuckleworthy MINIMOON (one can only hope the happy couple goes on their MINIMOON in their DREAM CAR.) Four on the floor = TABLE LEGS was adorable. We’ve had MEET CUTE in the singular three times according to (most recently in Feb.) – new today was the plural.

WEEVILS in the Royal Navy.

Barbara S. 9:20 AM  

Today’s passage is by GEORGE ORWELL, born June 25, 1903.

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
(From 1984)

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

another Anon,
Z nice Motte and Bailey you got there. But It won't work. The fact that there's no actual betting doesn't mean you're free to change how the gambling bit works. Anon 8:28 is right. You don't get to set the over under and pate and place bet. You've got to pick one action: setting the line, or betting on that line. That's required of even the rhetorical device and for the same reason that Anon wrote. Besides it isn't rhetorical. The fact that money doesn't change hands doesn't make it any less a wager.
Your answer, as is so often the case, doesn't address the true point. Instead you use a sleight of hand to address eminently reasonable and related points and all of your points in that area are true. Unassailable. But they're all to obfuscate the fundamental point on which you were wrong.
I'm the anon you and Frantic Sloth were giggling about yesterday. You've mistaken 8:28 for. I don't know who anon 8:28 is, but count me a fan.

Cassieopia 9:26 AM  

Loved it. PUKASHELLS whipped me back into high school, junior year, when it was all the rage to wear a puka shell necklace, usually with a colorful (not-quite-Hawaiian) shirt and faded bell bottoms. It was mostly the richer kids that wore them, as the necklaces were a sign that one had vacationed in Hawaii. I never had one, never having vacationed in Hawaii, but the memory (and adolescent scars?) remain strong.

The clue for CANWETALK was a bit tame; as a veteran of failed relationships, that phrase is more than "bad news"; just entering the words into the puzzle regenerated that horrible pit-in-stomach feeling.

Very much appreciated seeing METOOMOVEMENT over MALEPRIVILEGE; very deft construction there.

Can someone help me out and please explain how AGE is a partner of day? I'm having a stubborn blind spot on that one.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

why is partner of day = "AGE"?

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

I don't understand "age" as a partner to "day". Can someone explain?

RooMonster 9:35 AM  

Hey All !
Props for @M&A's jaws of themelessness today.

Nice longies. Always bums me out when I see a single blocker (☺️) ruin a stack, as in the one after 5A. It'd be more elegant for there to be a triple-stack sans blocker. But, sometimes one must do that to get any kind of reasonable fill, and not just gobbledygook. Technically, it is still a triple-stack, although could've been a quad-stack.

Anyway, butt-hurt nit aside, did like this puz. Seemed a bit easier than previous FriPuzs. Some nice clues. Didn't fall into the I or E cross trap OF DIANA/NIALL, as having lived in CT for 13 years, knew DIANA Taurasi from her UCONN days. BARILLA got a chuckle, as I thought the clue was asking for a Place, ala France or somesuch instead of a manufacturer. MINIMOON is new. Is that a thing? Apparently my parents went on a MINIMOON when they were married 53 years ago. They spent Saturday and Sunday in the Poconos.

The two UPs seem to not have HIT A NERVE with anyone yet.

One-letter DNF, ouch! Had LOTsA, giving the side eye to AGAsE, but what do I know of gemstones?

Well, getting hungry. I COULD EAT. 🤪


Anonymous 9:36 AM  

@Z- Anonymous 8:28 here. You obviously have me confused with someone else. I don’t comment on this blog very often and I would never complain about a comment being deleted. My understanding is that Rex gives the moderators discretion as to which comments are published. Thats how it should be. It’s his blog after all.

Sir Hillary 9:39 AM  

First NYT Friday in a month for me (been dealing with a family issue), and what a treat it was. This may be because I found it very easy, but hopefully it's because I really love the grid. There are a LOTTA long stacks and fat columns, with basically zero garbage fill. My (relatively) biggest complaint is that I would have preferred plain old LOCAL to LO-CAL, but other than that, it's essentially flawless. The "?" clues for HAMS, TABLELEGS, ATEIT and especially TOE all stuck the landing, which is rare. Superb puzzle.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

I continue to be irritated by the X/TEN/CHI nonsense. there's perfectly useful html codes for the CHI character. Χ Χ Χ pick one for cryin out loud.

TTrimble 9:41 AM  

Nice fast puzzle. About 2/3 of my average time.

Agree about the flow being stopped up by bottlenecks leading out of/into the NW and SE. I'm not quite as enthusiastic about I COULD EAT, or rather how it was clued; if it were me, I might have tried "Yeah, I'm a little hungry" -- or would the I-repetition make that objectionable? WELL, OK.

That stack in the middle: nice. Thumbs up for the feminist leaning -- I didn't know about Laura Bassi.

I've only seen MEET CUTE(S) in crosswords. Don't really like it much. So "cuties" is now CUTES, is that how it works? Does it mean the two cuties meet, or that we the audience meet the cuties?* Sheesh, what a inept expression. I'd lose that. Speaking of which --

I'm still a bit vague on why Rex thinks saying a puzzle is "sassy" or "has sass", which he says a lot, is especially apt or meaningful**. It reminds me of fanciful but pretentious descriptions of wines, to the point of silliness: "this tart chardonnay, with its upturned citrus nose and full mouth, strikes a cheeky note, with a finish that is, one might even say, a tad impudent". (Also, Rex, if "all downhill" is not the greatest metaphor, why not choose a different one?)

*Really, don't bother; I can google with the best of them. I'm just having me a MINIrant.

**Although I'm reminded of the old expression "don't get fresh with me!", so maybe I can replace "sassy" with "fresh" (but with its more usual meaning of "before the sell-by date") and get a reasonable approximate meaning that way.

JD 9:42 AM  

@Z, Don't count me in the 7. I'm not quibbling with the issues. I just can't even anymore. The rest of the paper is bad enough.

fscotts 9:51 AM  

Works either way whether read as 'band' or 'brand': STP - Stone Temple Pilots is kind of a garage BAND...?

TTrimble 9:54 AM  

Oh, in possible answer to my somewhat implied question: I did like the cluing for ATE IT: had quite a trip? It took me a little while to get SORTED (we see frequent references to things like ego trip and acid trip -- the only tabs here today refer to IMAGES -- so my head went there instead). But no, they mean "trip" like you stumbled and hit the dirt and then ATE IT. If there's any clue that suggests just a bit of "sass", maybe that's the one.

burtonkd 9:58 AM  

@Betty F - Scott Stringer was pretty much eliminated from contention in the NYC Mayoral race due to Me Too concerns, so not dead.

This was on the edge of spiraling out of control with its ham-fistedness. Hope this doesn't mess up your odds, Z.

@JohnX - I almost feel a little embarrassed to have laughed at your post.

@Nancy - Big Little Lies was also clued using the novel's author.

GANGUPON looks like it wandered in from some other puzzle.

Not sure how Rex gets NIALL>NEALL, I'll buy DIANA>DEANA, but entirely plausible.

Celia Cruz has a performing arts school in the Bronx named after her. Did a gig there that I never got paid for, so remember her name well...

ONEONONE and MOPTOPS are fun to write out.

Interesting to have ANSEL Adams clued as an environmentalist, rather than the very obvious photographer.

My misspelling of 20D was WEEVeLS, and took forever to see the error in MALEPRIVeLEGE

Carola 9:59 AM  

I liked this one much more after I'd finished it and looked over the grid, with the food-for-thought center stack where MALE PRIVILEGE is flanked by ME TOO MOVEMENT and BIG LITTLE LIES really standing out. Not all that much fun for me to solve, though: the combination of the chatty-phrase clues and the names I didn't know made me feel at a loss...repeatedly, and the pile-up effect took a toll.

Help from previous puzzles: NWA. Help from having a daughter who's a LAURA Dern fan: BIG LITTLE LIES. No idea: LAURA, NIALL, DIANA, CELIA, PUKA.

albatross shell 10:00 AM  

About @859am:
What are the odds that this is a troll feeding itself?

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Lo cal = low calorie = lite

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

I don't know if you'd label them as garage though

but that's just the pun: STP is adverted as the engine oil additive of the conscientious car owner. in his garage, of course.

mathgent 10:13 AM  

I liked it a lot. Excellent in all respects.

Lots of new entries, as Lewis remarks, but that doesn't necessarily translate into sparkle. Of the 13, CANWETALK, MINIMOON, TABLELEGS, and ICOULDEAT were the only shiny ones for me.

I'm a staunch believer in Joaquin's Dictum, but SORTEDout for "Taken care of" at 28D isn't fair. It doesn't fit any of the M-W definitions.

I remember when PUKASHELL bracelets and necklaces were big. They were selling on street corners in Oahu. If you were going over, friends would ask you to bring one back.

I think that Honey Baked started the spiral-cut hams.

Unknown 10:23 AM  

@ Casseiopeia In this DAY and AGE . . . . hence they are "partners."

Well, you just *knew* Rex was going to gush all over this one, what w/ its feminist underpinnings!
My only nit pick is the puz was *way* too easy for a Friday. I was significantly under my normal time. Either I'm getting wiser, or this one was right in my wheelhouse. Re: Diana Taurisi, given she's the all time scorer in the WNBA, she's fair game for a Fri puz. Heck, if it was Lebron James or Kareem, no one would be complaining about how to spell his name. (Well, on this blog, someone is always complaining about something!)
Overall fresh & sparkly, just too easy . . . . .

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Albatross Shell,

pmdm 10:25 AM  

While I prefer puzzles with less PPP, I don't mind researching the PPP answers and struggling to complete the rest of the puzzle. I dislike slang answers and trendy stuff. My preference would be a puzzle that is as relevant 30 years from now as it is today. Many would disagree with me and express glee when trendy slang rears its head. To each his own. Shortz seems to understand that both preferences should share the spotlight. Getting back to tday's puzzle, thumbs up from me.

Z: Your comment yesterday made me laugh. Unfortunately, when you don't have the ability to observe a person's facial expression or demeanor, a tongue-in-cheek comment may be lost on the receiver.

In general, it's a bad idea for various reasons to feed the trolls. But sometimes, the reply justifies itself. As long as replies are exceptions rather than the rule. In one sense, let the trolls embarrass themselves. Sometimes their stupidity can be quite humorous. And sometimes they even have a valid point, if inappropriately communicated.

I normally prefer to avoid responding to comments that veer toward the political. But a comment about the NYS governor above hit my attention. There are so many problems with what has happened. I am uncomfortable with punishment based on an unverified or unproven allegation, but I am also uncomfortable with inappropriate behavior that by its nature cannot be proven. I am also uncomfortable with replacement of a politician with someone less capable. The NYS governor has survived because during his terms necessary projects have been started and/or completed that previously languished. And the governor is a much better representative for many constituents that other politicians ignore. If you consider that in one major city its mayor served jail time but still was re-elected suggests that voters consider a number of priorities. I don't believe the NYS governor is going anywhere this term. I hope the truth will be clearly exposed. The voters may have to decide to vote for the lesser of two evils, most unfortunate. But I hope whoever wins will govern the state properly and not drag it down. Just visit the gorge in Watkins Glen to understand how important quality of life can be.

A bit off the reason for this blog, isn't it. If the moderators allow political thoughts to infiltrate the blog, responses should be permitted. And I hope I have not seemed offensive. I just hope people consider the big picture when they pass judgments.

jae 10:35 AM  

Medium. Top third tough, middle third easyish, bottom third medium. Delightful Friday, liked it a bunch!

It took me a couple of iterations to get to LAURA.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Odds are 10-1 someone will claim that a different company started the spiral cut ham.

Frantic Sloth 10:38 AM  

A lot of this was like wavelengths running parallel - never touching, but still within reach.
I don't know how else to describe why it felt so difficult and I still finished below my average time.

No matter. I enjoyed it and there was a lot to like here.
Faves include, but are not limited to:

ICOULDEAT because that is always true.
METOOMOVEMENT because obvi
PUKASHELL Beach Blanket Bingo and why not?
BIGLITTLELIES (excellent series, BTW),
CANWETALK (*sniff* memories of Joan *sniff*)

Wasn't a fan of those green-painted TABLELEGS, but that was pretty minor.

PPP seems low, too - or at least manageable for me. Nice!


JT 10:42 AM  

We say "in this day and age..."

Whatsername 10:50 AM  

Well I really had nothing but MEGA nice things to say about this to begin with. Then after skimming the comments and finding out from @Lewis that there are 13 - 13! - debut entries, all I can say is wow! I am very impressed. Thank you Scott and keep up the good work please.

I did have one moment of consternation at 37A as the clue just seemed wrong to me. Since there is already AN I in that word, it’s actually “often misspelled” with two of them.

BIG LITTLE LIES was an excellent miniseries and even better novel. Watching that cast of talented women with Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon was well worth the time. And the incomparable Meryl Streep was absolutely delightful as the meddling mother-in-law.

TTrimble 11:03 AM  

@Anonymous 9:27, 9:34
In this day and AGE...

Mary McCarty 11:07 AM  

JD: cute clues, but Ovid (the Latin poet) has a “short O”, pronounced like “awe-vid”, not “oh-vid”
Angela: as in the phrase “In this day and AGE nobody writes letters anymore.”

TTrimble 11:15 AM  

Yeah, the sexual harassment allegations took a bite out of Stringer's campaign, but part of me wonders whether his poor showing could also be due to just looking to be not in great health, compared to the others? To me he looks overweight and not in good physical condition. I thought I saw him waddle during one of his many TV ads.

It's just a personal hunch. I've not looked into what other people might be saying along these lines.

Nancy 11:21 AM  

@TTrimble -- It's MEETS CUTE -- which has nothing to do with meeting "cuties."

Since I don't have a memory and therefore don't remember any of the ways in which Rom-Com couples have actually met cute in films, I'll just have to make up my own: (They're always strangers first, before they meet cute, btw.)

They're at the tomato stand. She test-squeezes a tomato and the tomato squirts in his eye. Or vice versa.

They're running in an airport and the floor is waxed and they slide on the floor and crash into each other.

They're in a dog park and their dogs (his big, hers small) take an instant dislike to each other.

They're seated next to each other on a plane and she's got a zillion carry-on items that eat up all his legroom.

Also on a plane: the overhead bin opens abruptly due to turbulence, and her suitcase crashes into his head.

Well, you get the idea, @TTrimble. Hope I've helped.

Keith D 11:41 AM  

@Z - with respect, your over/under comment about “wokeness” reveals to me your complete misunderstanding of what rankles many of us who read this blog. It’s not the inclusion of terms like MALE PRIVILEGE etc., it’s the over the top moralizing by Rex and a handful of others when the puzzle comes within a thousand miles of being offensive, and even when it does not. Recent e.g.: objecting to NIPS AT. Totally absurd. By the way, based on my quick scan of the comments, you lost big time taking the over bet.

Cassieopia 11:46 AM  

@unknown 10:23 - thank you.

Cassieopia 11:48 AM  

@unknown 10:23 - thank you.

thfenn 11:53 AM  

@Nancy, "if BIG LITTLE LIES hadn't been clued by some unknown-to-me TV series" - very funny. Had the same thought, could practically have been clued "see above".

thfenn 11:59 AM  

@Z 8:49, LOL, why do you do this? I read that and just thought "oh no, here comes a ton of back and forth to weed". Just let Anon 8:28 go.

FrostMo 11:59 AM  

Pleased (or maybe kinda shocked) that a name natick from my generation is in the NYT today at DIANA/NIALL, but good to see. Smashed my friday PR. Would have been faster but had LOTsA that I didn’t catch until I checked downs and saw AGAsE.

Loved ICOULDEAT as an answer, but I didn’t love the clue. Felt more like a scheduling thing, rather than how I think of the phrase which is somehow more related to not being that hungry. I dunno. Small niggle there, but otherwise LOTTA fun.

Peter in Chicago 12:00 PM  

Please tell me you did not say that

thfenn 12:07 PM  

I still love any Friday I can solve, but this one was great. Fresh, lively, and fun. Things are LOOKINGUP. Did kind of wish Four on the Floor had dropped the wink and looped back to my DREAMCAR and STP, but managed to do that in my own head anyway. And now ICOULDEAT.

TTrimble 12:19 PM  

In the post you're responding to, I had a footnote which asked the reader "Don't bother" (explaining this to me), because by the time the reader read it, I'd have already googled it for myself and found out (I even linked to the googled result -- here it is again). Still, I like your collection of examples -- they're CUTE!

As for your correction "it's MEETS CUTE" -- not in the puzzle it isn't. It says MEET CUTES, I guess as their way of pluralizing MEET CUTE as a noun phrase. Now if you say, no, despite what anyone else says, it should be "meets cute" (akin to "gins and tonic"? or "passersby"?), then I have no beef, but that memo ought to go to Will Shortz who got it wrong according to you, and not sweet little innocent me. :-)

kitshef 12:24 PM  

@Keith D - In January, when NIP AT appeared in the puzzle, Rex said (paraphrasing - it's in his video solve with Rachel) he would no longer use NIP in a puzzle, but that it is a common word with multiple inoffensive meanings and is he is OK with other people using it (provided it is in one of those non-offensive ways).

In February, we had NIP IN THE BUD, and Rex said (quoting), "NIP IN THE BUD is a tight idiomatic phrase that makes me not mind the presence of NIP so much".

Neither of those seem like over the top moralizing to me.

The only time I can recall Rex really going off on an answer was when 'beaner' appeared, which basically has no common non-offensive meaning.

Ω 12:28 PM  

@Anon8:28/9:36 - My apologies. As you can tell from some other comments my reaction is based on the habits of a specific anon. Two clues should have tipped me off that you are not they; the early hour and the absence of typos. So let me try again:

Hey @Anon 8:28 - You're right. I like my money too much to give it to some billionaire casino owner. I was just using the over/under thing as an easily understood rhetorical device.

@Keith D - I don't know you so it's hard to say for certain, but I know what actually rankles everybody I do know. I hope what I think of them isn't true of you. As for my over/under line - it's still early and the afternoon/evening anons rarely let me down. I will be quite pleased to be shown to be wrong on this. Surprised. But pleased.

@pmdm - re:NYSG - Yeah. Complicated. My gut tells me the guy is guilty but that's hardly a fair standard for removal. I strongly suspect that enough people of his own party know him well enough to sustain his removal and are letting short term politics sway their actions. That's not a good idea in the long run. But, again, this is just my gut reaction to the guy. I wouldn't buy a used car from him.

oldactor 12:38 PM  

At 89 I recently bought my "Dream Car", a LEXUS ETS 350. I don't drive it much; mainly to the Super Market and doctor's appointments, but when I do I'm in HEAVEN! It's never too late.

GILL I. 12:41 PM  

A Friday full of moxie....Who doesn't like moxie? I liked it all...from TAMPS to ESTER. From TILDE to INKER. And now that all the good stuff has been mentioned, my mind wanders to MEET CUTES....Why you ask? Because I have a story to tell you:
A very good friend of mine had been widowed for about a year and she wanted to meet someone new. She was looking for companionship; someone to travel with, have dinner and well, just have fun with.
She's very very pretty, has a wonderful sense of humor and full of life.....BUT, she refuses to do the bar scene. So...she decided to go on one of these "Girl Meets Boy" on-line sites. You get to look at all the men posting and read what they have to say all about themselves, then you go on this FaceTime and chit-chat and if you like each other, meet up in a restaurant. Well, she found a handsome, funny, interesting (so she thought) chap and they decided on a place and time. these stories usually was the date from the horror movie "Vampires Suck." He ordered steak and potatoes and insisted the steak be well done to the point of black. He had the waiter take it back 2 times because it wasn't black enough. He ordered milk and proceed to tell my friend he would never ever think of drinking wine because both his parents wouldn't approve. Then, during the meal, he smacked his lips and licked his fingers after each piled high mashed potato on his knife. She did something she'd never thought she'd ever do (AND, she had to go to confession afterwards and say 133 Hail Mary's)...she asked to be excused to go to "The Powder Room"....She never returned. She blocked him from her phone. She never dated again.
Moral of the your girlfriends to fix you up...we'll make sure you MEET CUTES.

old timer 12:47 PM  

In this day and AGE, no one ever says the first word of NWA. But boy were the revolutionary in their day. And they got airplay even in Sonoma County, where Black people are fairly rare and most of the hard work is done by Latino men and women.

(I actually wanted "hey" as a partner for DAY, which shows my AGE). The puzzle, as many have said, was tough but fair. Example: DIANA, which could have been DIANe, was clarified by WALKOUT. CELIA, who is shaking my confidence daily, was clarified by REC -- could have been dELIA otherwise.

BARILLA has definitely been in previous puzzles; I struggled with it then as I do today, because here in the States, it is outsold by the superior DeCecco.

Amyone else confidently write in "suck up" before the marvelous GROVEL? A word I will forever associate with Rumpole's chambers. Rumpole seldom GROVELed to anyone, but his colleagues were used to doing so, to get a more lenient sentence for their clients.

My only criticism is MEETCUTES, a plural that I doubt has ever existed in real life. "MEET CUTE scenes are common, and have been the making of many a great rom-com, but MEETCUTES is over the line.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

No problem with the NIALL/DIANA crossing today - I know NIALL because he's the only famous person I know of who shares my last name. If we're related, it's more than a couple of generations back :-). On the other hand, I didn't know CELIA and blanked on 29A even with RE_ in place. I justified REd by thinking it might be short for REquired. I know, I know, RECommendation.

For a moment, I had @Roo's error in 41D with LOTsA but I love AGATE hunting so it was fixed eventually.

My big head-scratcher was not being certain on the 44A COSI. I stared at aNKER for many moments, trying all of the crosses until the cartoonist finally got her INKER. Even as I type INKER, my brain keeps thinking oINKER; I guess that goes with my MOOED.

Scott Earl, nice second NYTimes puzzle, thanks.

Master Melvin 1:15 PM  

I'm not crazy about proper names in crossword puzzles, but DIANA TAURASI is arguably the greatest women's basketball player of all time, altho she is probably being overtaken by another UConn alum, Breanna Stewart. That certainly makes her crossworthy, even to me. As to the crossing with NIALL, I don't think proper names should ever be crossed. Ever.

RooMonster 1:23 PM  

@Anon 9:12
You misinterpreted the clue. The HAMS don't "spiral out", the clue meant HAMS that are out (as in on the table) for your Holiday dinner. So, Spirals out for dinner (or whatever the clue said) is a CUTE clue for a Spiral HAM out on the table.

Just didn't want you to live the rest of your life hating that clue! 😁

Honey Baked HAMS, yummmmmmmmm, spirals or otherwise.

RooMonster Hamming It Up Guy

CPG 1:32 PM  

"This day and AGE."

Whatsername 1:34 PM  

@angela (8:21) Welcome new puzzler and come back AGAIN soon.

@mathgent (10:13) I raised an eyebrow at 28D myself but then I kind of could see it. Question: “Has the problem been taken care of?” Answer: “Yeah we got that all SORTED out.”

@Barbara (9:20) Your quote today gave me cold chills, especially: “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” I wonder if even Orwell ever envisioned the concept of alternative facts or repeating a lie over and over and over until you convince enough people it’s a reality. I fear we’ve already gone far beyond his prescience.

thurston 2:41 PM  

Lo-Cal as in low calorie (lite)

Teedmn 2:59 PM  

@Whatsername, I read an essay in the NYTimes earlier this year (possibly regarding Jan. 6th). The author wrote (I paraphrase, possibly), "1984 was supposed to be a warning, not a template."

Keith D 3:53 PM  

@kitshef 12:24 - ok, the NIP AT was just the first example that came to mind. Not over the top, but still annoying. There are many, many others. His recent ad hominem against Elon Musk… I recall a while back Rex dumping on a puzzle/constructor for having LIBBY (as in Scooter Libby) as an answer. The clue was a purely historical reference. There are too many others to count. I just find it extremely grating that clues/answers must conform to certain people’s political views to be acceptable, even if they are 100% factual.

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

@Keith D.:

Mengele is an 'historical fact'. would you feel comfortable being reminded of that whilst whiling away down time on a crossword? or is it just Left Wing references that bother you? clearly OFL is bothered by the Right Wing versions, and one might infer that those who complain about his angst feel some fealty for the Right, or why bring it up? how far Right is Too Far for the NYT puzzle for that other clan? I'm not of that clan, so I can't say.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Would rather money were put where the mouth is: run more female constructors.

Keith D 5:01 PM  

@ anon 4:21 pm - of course it’s the “left wing” stuff that I’m talking about, simply because that’s the overwhelming bias of OFL and this blog’s readership generally. But I would be equally annoyed if we had a right leaning OFL who constantly took offence to anything remotely liberal. It’s a frigging crossword puzzle. It’s not intended to be a set of clues/answers that reaffirm everything that makes us feel warm and gooey and at one within the echo chamber of our fellow bloggers. IMHO. It’s his blog, so he can take whatever approach he wants, obviously, as can the commenters.

And to answer your question, no, Mengele would not necessarily bother me as a historical reference. But I’m not sure we need to go straight to playing the Nazi card…

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

RNC was an answer a few weeks ago, Rex had a meltdown, DNC was an answer today. Haven’t heard a peep from anyone. Guess we know who the grownups are.

Graham 5:17 PM  

Hams was a gimme

albatross shell 6:43 PM  

My grocery stores have spiral HAMS out all year long, but they have more during the winter holidays and Easter. I also thought of them spiraling out to dinner plates when being sereved. And wreaths, lites and lights did not fit. A stretch but an amusing stretch in either case. Deserving a "?".

MEETCUTES is the proper plural according to M-W and other dictionaries. FWIW.

I was wondering how far back MEETCUTE goes back. I was thinking of retroactively applying it to Bringing Up Baby, but maybe it wouldn't actually be retro. Of course it might not be accurate to apply it there because the movie is one long MEETCUTE after another that continues to final scene.

Also yesterday I see I misinterpreted answer in your post. I do not understand why you don't like the answer although I thought it was off until I thought of the particular phrasing I mentioned. Standards or tastes? And if it MEETCUTE were not a cutsie Hollywood invention it would have been CUTEMEET and there would be no problem with the plural.

Ω 6:47 PM  

Spoiler Alert for a recentish puzzle

Was watching Sports Center this morning (not part of my usual routine) and they were doing an interview with a young entrepreneur/prospective Harvard frosh who responded to a question about her parents by saying that her mom was her ride or die.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Note to Will Shortz. Keep it stodgy. My parents didn’t need to learn my slang thirty years ago while solving the puzzle and there’s no need for me to learn my kids’ slang now. There are plenty of other outlets, New Yorker, USA Today, etc,

Escalator 7:08 PM  

Rex must have taken his happy pills today 😊

Newboy 7:42 PM  

Names more recent than Ovid make me Cross & when they MEET CUTE, I feel double crossed.

kitshef 7:44 PM  

@Keith D - I understand that you are trying to make a point about Rex's liberalness, but a fairly constant theme in the criticisms of Rex involves putting words into his mouth that he hasn't said. And in particular, for things like "nip" and "slant" and "broad" in the puzzle there is this idea in the air that Rex rails against those, but he really doesn't.

Trump? yes. NRA? you bet. But not 'possibly offensive' words. On those, Rex takes a reasonable (imo) position. If a constructor wants to remove it form their word list, he's OK with that. If they don't, he's okay with that, too. But try to avoid it if you can. If you need to use it due to grid constraints, clue it sensitively.

If you watch the video of that solve with Rachel, Rex just fills in NIP AT and doesn't comment or pause or anything. It is Rachel who, after the solve, says she doesn't like it. Rex then waffles a bit. He clearly respects her opinion a great deal, but can't quite bring himself to agree with her.

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

No. Rex’s position on words like beaner, chink, and fill like go ok is wildly out of step with the country’s sensibilities.
Of course he’s in synch with NPR, academia and MSNBC, but that, of course, is part of the crticicism.

Colette 8:34 PM  

Really liked this puzzle. One of my best Friday times, I think, although I don't pay much attention.

@Barbara: That quote was absolutely chilling. I have such fear that we are heading toward a civil war. My husband has been expecting it for years.
Anyone care to disabuse me of that notion?

old timer 8:42 PM  

Orwell was very familiar with the concept of alternative facts. Kind of the theme of 1984. But he made his name writing about the Spanish Civil War, where falsehoods abounded on both sides. And he was a regular columnist, and always battled for truth, and condemned political lies. I have a 4-volume set of his shorter writings, still well worth reading. It includes the iconic Politics and the English Language, and lots of other great stuff.

The 4 volume set, issued after his death, was very popular, and easily available in used bookstores back in the 1960's and 1970's. Probably still widely available, and I recommend it highly.

Anonymous 9:10 PM  

Keith D,
Notice how z hasn’t been around to acknowledge that you were right?

Cassieopia 9:14 PM  

@teedmn “…warning, not a template” elicited a genuine WTN (Wine Through Nose) moment on this end. It’s funny because it’s true.

TTrimble 9:32 PM  

@albatross shell
It's totally unimportant to me, as evident from the fact I couldn't even remember what we were talking about, but my initial post from yesterday was written from the POV of a very localized and fleeting mood, and I think I hinted as much at the time. So I might even change my mind tomorrow about how tight the cluing "oh, is that so?" for "YOU DO?" is, but it seemed to me then that the cluing felt lax or lazy or something. It's nothing I would care to strongly argue for though.

And similarly for MEET CUTE. Mostly it's that I find the internal grammar disagreeable, but I'm quite willing to shrug that off as a personal thing and we (collectively) need not get into a long tangent about whether I'm just being a grammatical prescriptivist and how language changes blah blah blah -- I know about all that stuff. Internet communications are a minefield, and it may be that people sometimes take what I write as declamatory and making assertions whereas I feel that half the things I say here are not to be taken super seriously. [Sometimes I am serious though.] Actually, I think Rex is similar -- much of what he writes seems off the cuff and casual and just of the moment, his spontaneous reaction, and not something he really means to write for the ages. (And yet, all of what we write over the internet hangs around for ages and can be repeated and retweeted endlessly, and can come back to haunt us.)

@Gill I.
I meant to say before that "moxie" is a great word. Apparently it used to be the name of a soft drink. Love your story about your pretty friend!

albatross shell 10:39 PM  

Your mood and in the moment and lack of importance comments make perfect sense to me. I am do apologize for making you review and write so much about it. I do appreciate that you did so because I was honestly curious. You comments here are generally interesting and perceptive whether off the cuff or not. I am not particularly fond of the MEETCUTE formulation myself. I only learned it from crosswords despite being a bit of a movie buff myself.

Whatsername 10:53 PM  

@GILL: I intended to post this much earlier but in yet another senior moment, I forgot until @TTrimble just reminded me. Great story about the date from hell but I don't even trust my girlfriends. No fixups, no dating sites, no muss, no fuss, no vampires.

joebloggs 3:02 PM  

Awful. I get it now but awful

thefogman 11:18 AM  

What a piece of junk. There are plenty of examples but 37A is just wrong in every sense. If “minuscule” is spelled with ANI (an I) then it isn’t mispelled at all - often or otherwise. I had iNI as in MINIscule. The crossing with BARILLA wasn’t any help at all. Too clever and cute. Congratulations Will Shortz and Scott Earl. You win.

Burma Shave 11:34 AM  


will GANGUPON a LOTTA guys


Diana, LIW 2:30 PM  

Sorry @Foggy, but this was a ton of fun for me. Little by little, erasing and changing, finally getting it (but one lone ironic letter) and I triumphed.

BARILLA has been in my kitchen since forever! Too bad for those who haven't.

Good times on a Friday, all.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, even when I'm in the puzzle

rondo 3:03 PM  

Yes indeed. Another shout out to our own @DIANA.(which was a gimme BTW).
No write-overs so couldn't have been very tough.
There's a WART in the corners.
Fairly easy SOLVE, IMO.

spacecraft 3:11 PM  

Very, very hard for me. I don't even get HBO, let alone know any "series" that might air on it. I thought it was just movies. It used to be just movies. I understand the idiom "ATEIT" but still the clue "Had quite a trip?" doesn't lead there. When that part got filled in I went "HUH??? I guess so, but really!"

Had no trouble with the oft-mentioned NE Natick, because I was just watching DOD DIANA Taurasi and teammates get an Olympic win last night. She played very well. (Honorable mention to A'Ja Wilson, Aces ace, who also shone.)

CANWETALK was a bit hard to spot, being a phrase that holds a glimmer of hope that a storm might not be coming. "We need to talk," OTOH, is the real "Uh-oh, I'm in trouble" phrase. You hear that one, you can forget about golf this weekend, for sure.

These puzzles are getting tougher and tougher for me as the language and culture evolves. Yes, I recognize MEETCUTES, but only from a previous crossword. Why the adjective precedes is a head-scratcher for me; it oughta be "Cute meets," no? And of course, I had no idea about NWA. I speculated it could stand for "New World Assholes;" my son (who bragged he polished this off in under half an hour!) told me it means N*****s With Attitude. I told him I like mine better.

Finished, taking all morning. A far cry from easy. Starting to get the feeling that I can't keep up. Also that I'm not sure I want to. For triumph points that apparently don't exist for younger folk, I score this a birdie.

leftcoaster 5:39 PM  

I did some LOOKING UP. It’s easier that way and saves time.
Favorite lookups : COSI for “so”, and TOE for “Stub hub?”.
No need to look up DIANA.

thefogman 6:29 PM  

In case you were wondering - The MEETCUTE movement’s leader is Hugh Grant of Love Actually fame.

spacecraft 7:06 PM  

P.S.: BARILLA is in my kitchen too, being a company that produces a full line of gluten-free pasta.

thefogman 7:14 PM  

Is Hugh Grant the founder of the MEETCUTE movement?

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