Pseudonymous children's author Hunter / FRI 8-13-21 / Bit of metal texturing / Father of Hecate

Friday, August 13, 2021

Constructor: John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (??? ... still jetlagged)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: HAPTICS (9D: Study of touch, as with smartphone screens)

1the use of electronically or mechanically generated movement that a user experiences through the sense of touch as part of an interface (as on a gaming console or smartphone) (
• • •

Hello, everyone. I am back from my family vacation. Families vacation, actually, as I spent the first part with my dad and that side of the family in San Diego, and the latter part in Colorado with my mom and sister (my sister was also in San Diego ... we have the same parents, it turns out ... it's 5 in the morning and I'm still on western time and I haven't written a sentence on a standard-sized keyboard in almost two weeks, so today's write-up might be a little bumpy). The vacation was wonderful and terrible in equal measure. It started with a positive COVID test for one of the thirteen people staying in our San Diego vacation home, so that was terrible, obviously. She was vaccinated, but she had also been in Tennessee :( so ... honestly, the vaccine can do a lot, but apparently it's only so effective against Tennessee (as of today, only 39.8% of the population fully vaccinated, compared to 58.1% in New York and 64.6% in Massachusetts, way to go, folks!). Good news: since the COVID-positive person was vaccinated, she got better *fast*—one day she was in bed all day, the next, she was up and surprisingly chipper and ready to drive herself half the length of California, back to her own home and bed. She was sick sick no more than 48 hours. But anyway, we were all exposed in maskless situations inside the house (and cars), for sure, so we all had several days of waiting before we could get reliably tested, but good news again—all the other twelve people in the vacation house came back negative (all vaccinated, of course). So the vacation started terrible, but honestly, it could've been so much worse. The vaccine was the difference between inconvenience and disaster. And the rest of the trip was mostly great. We left San Diego early and drove to Colorado, in order to get out of a potential sick house. So we got a bonus trip to Santa Fe out of the deal, which was pretty sweet. Colorado itself, always gorgeous. Possible future home for us. We'll see. Anyway, I hadn't seen my parents for two years, so I'm really glad I took care of that.

Speaking of disaster: the NYTXW stopped offering the puzzle in .puz format, which means you can no longer solve on 3rd-party apps (off-line), so I have to solve on the truly awful website interface from now on. Ugh. I get that the .puz format is outdated and limited, but it's also industry standard, and until you develop a new standard (you're the NYT, you roll around in crossword money, why Don't you develop that?), .puz is the format a lot of solvers use (with software like AcrossLite or, in my case, Black Ink). But now for the NYTXW I have to go in and fix all the settings so the cursor moves correctly (-ish), and the stupid music doesn't play and the timer goes away and the puzzle doesn't do the little "halfway!" cheer (actually, not sure if I can disable that; will investigate). If you always use the app or always solve on paper then none of this will mean much to you, and that's fine, but you probably also shouldn't have much of an opinion about it, since you can't know how it affects others. I won't go on much now, as I am bleary and still haven't gotten to today's puzzle, but I'm cynical about this decision. It's a business decision, not a puzzle-quality decision. It's about keeping everything in-house, including solving data. There were definitely things that .puz files couldn't do, visually, that the app can—the fancy tech-enabled flourishes that paper solvers will (blissfully) never experience, where certain answers light up or boxes change sizes at the end or whatever. But these flourishes occur in a small minority of puzzles. Most puzzles are still (and will likely continue to be) the same as they ever were. And  as a user experience, the NYT app / website is decidedly Not an improvement (if it were, I'd've been using it already). So now I'm forced to solve in their proprietary environment. And I can't even print out a finished puzzle. I can print out a finished grid (just the grid!?!?!?!) but not the finished puzzle with clues and all. If I can do the former, I should be able to do the latter. Also, if I'm on a word, say SOIREE, and my cursor is on the already-filled-in "S," and I've got SOIR- in place, there is no way to jump directly to the next empty square. If I (re-)type in "S," the cursor should jump to the next empty square, but it won't. I can get it to jump filled squares if I am already in a *blank* square, but if I'm in a filled square, followed by other filled squares, it Will Not Jump Them. This may seem like a teeny detail to you, but oof, when you're used to a more sensible and responsive interface, it's a super-annoying little hiccup. But this is the way the world is, for now. I'll adapt. But again, don't let anyone tell you this is for the betterment of puzzles. This is about control and, ultimately, as with all business-driven decisions, profit. If they wanted to make a genuine, substantial change, one that would really revolutionize crosswords ... well, let's just say that the .puz format is not the thing they'd get rid of.

This puzzle seems fine. Took me forever to solve because of the total unfamiliarity of the solving interface. I think I'll be printing the puzzle and solving by hand now, which will be slower, but I'm fast, so ... I can take the extra minute or two if it means not having to argue with the dumb website software. I especially like today's NW corner, which was very hard for me, with STAR TURN being the only longish answer I could get for a while. ROAST and NOTE (with same clue), both slow to come. SOWS and ABIT, both weirdly hard for me. And I had HMM before UHH, which, as mistakes go, is somehow on the more depressing end of the spectrum (6D: [Thinking ...]). No one likes misguessing, but misguessing moans or grunts or other non-words with indeterminate spellings always leaves a particularly bad aftertaste. Nothing in the rest of the grid is as sparkly as the NW, though SHOESTRING CATCH is fairly dazzling (in American football, it's a catch you make somewhere around the altitude of your shoestrings, i.e. a catch you barely make, often athletically impressive and visually spectacular). 

That SARAN clue is old as the hills, please retire it (51A: That's a wrap!). Also, retire KNURL, as no word that ugly should exist out of whatever professional context gave birth to it. Back to the limited scope of your argot, KNURL! (36A: Bit of metal texturing). Only word that threw me for real was HAPTICS, which feels like a word I know, but ... well, it isn't. I've probably seen it. It's got a familiar face. But it sounds like a lot of things, like OPTICS and TRIPTIKS (remember those!?... the maps of your planned travel routes that you'd get AAA to prepare for you, before GPS / phones took over!? ... good times) (oh, looks like they still exist, but they're just not, you know, paper). Oh, I have to admit that I don't really know who PERSES is. I know the add-a-U version, i.e. PERSEUS, but PERSES ... no (60A: Father of Hecate). He's a Titan who is noteworthy solely for fathering Hecate. I think MAV / VERSES beats MAP / PERSES (the combo with the obscurity should always lose), but I guess someone really wanted that SEA / MAP cross-reference for some reason, so ... here we are. THC / CAGER is also noteworthy for not being something simpler (i.e. THE / EAGER), but in that case, I think the "C" is probably the better choice, if only because it gives a little nod to the classic crosswordese CAGER (31D: Baller, in old lingo). I like the idea of CAGER as this old dude just sitting off in the corner, getting high, remembering the old days ... "You should seen some of the sh** ASTA would get up to, man ..."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. A MEET-CUTE is a convention of romantic comedies, describing the initial meeting of the couple involved. (59A: When Harry first shared a ride with Sally, e.g.)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 6:45 AM  

32-A - “They might claim things are fixed”.
Yep. TrumpstERS fits perfectly.

Loren Muse Smith 6:56 AM  

Rex! You’re home! Welcome back. Sorry about the start, but I’m glad it all turned out ok. I have relatives who refuse to get vaccinated because, ya know, some friend’s cousin’s ex brother-in-law read on FB that blah blah blah. The willful ignorance takes my breath away.

This one was hard! We’ve probably had KNURL before, but I sure don’t remember. I dunno, Rex – I rather enjoyed looking at pictures of examples of KNURLing.

Loved the clue for SIT IN. And it took me a minute to parse MODEL A right. I kept rhyming it with umbrella and scowling.

I had never heard of NERDcore hip-hop. A BIT of spelunking into google made me feel old and clueless.

I avoid using BELIE because I’m always I’m afraid I’ll get it mixed up with betray.

**His grin belied his underlying nasty intentions.
**His grin betrayed his underlying good nature.

I don’t know why this is so hard, but I panic every time and just say it a different way.

Fun to learn the word HAPTICS. The HAP part is derived from the Greek haptesthai (to touch). So if yours isn’t a touchscreen, you’re a hapless phone owner?

When I looked into the actual definition of ROUE to see if it involved more than just sensual stuff, I was stunned to see that it’s actually ROUΓ‰. UHH. . . WAIT, WHAT? It’s two syllables? Sheesh. I’ve never heard it out in the wild and thankfully have never tried to use it.

My second-favorite entry was ASKS because it’s the nominalization of a verb, a linguistic thumb in the eye for purists who hate to see any word shift into a different part of speech. Okay – to pluralize it is a stretch, but I guess I could imagine someone saying, You want to use your planning period strictly for planning? You want to add 15 minutes to your 25-minute lunch? Those are big ASKS, man.

My favorite entries were SORE LOSERS crossing TRUTH. Ahem.

amyyanni 6:57 AM  

Good Morning and welcome home, Rex. We missed you. And I missed vast swaths of this puzzle: just on a different wavelength today. O well, happens. Off to find some fun as have determined Fridays in retirement should stand out. TGIF!

Zwhatever 7:09 AM  

Too bad Rex doesn’t read the comments or he’d know that he can still solve in BlackInk with a little link magic.
PuzzAzz is still automatically updating each day, making me wonder if the automatic download function of other apps is still working. And how long this will last.

Anyone else wincing at the continuing reductive cluing of all things Norse Mythology to Marvel Mythology? I fear that what we will get next is Thor selling iHammers, wifi enabled tools that connect to your iWatch and generate a productivity report on your nail driving technique.

HIC, HIES, …where’s my “hoc”? (it’s a bad Latin pun, get that pedantic “it’s haec” outta here)

HAPTICS is something I’ve seen a few times before, mostly related to virtual keyboard technology like the tech I’m typing with now. How meta.

WAIT! WHAT? PEORIA? seems like something one says when one finds oneself in PEORIA.

I really liked the clue for SOLE HEIR. Agree with Rex that the SARAN clue is an oldie, but I think it is still a goodie.

Famous last words at a crematorium? START URN.

A perfectly cromulent Friday.

Lewis 7:09 AM  

@LMS -- and there lies DON in 58A.
@Rex -- Great to hear your voice... welcome back!

This one filled in through what I call the catch and release technique, where I catch an answer or two in one area but can get no more, then release it from my consciousness and go somewhere else, and do it again. And thus I bounce around the grid, like my dog, who on a walk finds a bit of treasure (say, a half of a potato chip) on the sidewalk, then scours the area for more, then finally moves on, only to return to that exact spot on the way back.

I think I let out an “aarrgh” when I finally realized the [Insight offerer] answer. When will I stop being fooled by these? Smiles came with some fine answers: STAR TURN, SORE LOSERS (yes, I liked this answer even during these times), KNURL, ADMIT ONE, SOLE HEIR, SHOESTRING CATCH, not to mention some lovely cluing.

Speaking of LOVE ME DO, if you get Hulu and you like the Beatles, consider the six-part (each a half hour) “McCartney 3,2,1”. I found it to be extraordinary.

This was just what I want in a Friday crossword. Thank you, gentlemen!

albatross shell 7:19 AM  


fave answers: BIG SPENDER (With hey, a glorious song done by many glorious singers) SHOESTRING CATCH, SORELOSERS (No comment follow this lead. Its too obvious) PERSES-ADONIS ASGARD

Most unknown: HAPTICS (thought tAPTech?)

Most unknown that I have probably seen before: KNURL

Answer I am most sick of: MEETCUTE

Question suggested by puzzle: Did Sweet Charity play in PEORIA?

A sweet solid Friday puz here

Son Volt 7:31 AM  

Nice puzzle. Tough enough - but clean fill and fun. Following LMS - the SORE LOSERS x TRUTH cross popped for me - add OH BOO HOO and it all comes together. Most of the long fill was really solid - STAR TURN, WAIT WHAT and SHOESTRING CATCH really shine. Like the clueing on the adjacent HONDA and CAGER.

HAPTICS was flat and I didn’t like ROUE or THIRDS. I like the Marvel movies so I take Asgard for what it is.

Enjoyable Friday solve.

albatross shell 7:42 AM  

Hey, I thought SHOESTRING CATCH originated in baseball. Let me check. Google ain't talking easily about this. Help. One source says it originated 1925-45 but not in what sport.

Preferred Customer 7:42 AM  

Am I the only one disturbed by the big spender clip?

OffTheGrid 7:43 AM  

SHOESTRING CATCH is a baseball term, not football.


Peter in Chicago 7:57 AM  

This is one of the finest writeups I've seen and it clearly shows why nobody but Rex Parker should be writing this blog. Rex's critique of the Times's interface is brilliant technically, free of rancor, insightful, withering, and correct. The Times's interface is clunky and time-wasting and it drains pleasure from the solving experience. We not only should be, but we ARE living in a golden age of crossword puzzles, and the New York Times should be leading the way forward with software that can innovate and add much more pleasure to the solving experience. If the New York Times doesn't innovate then others will do so.

bocamp 8:05 AM  

Thx, John & Michael for this challenging, crunchy Fri. puz! Kept me up past my bedtime. lol

Welcome home @Rex :)

Med solve, except the NW.

Bad start with 1D SPYS, 6D HMM & 7D ABASE.

The rest was a trampoline bouncing exercise; got it all sussed out, then headed back to the NW for what seemed like an eternity to sort out.

Originally had THAI and SIT IN, got ROTISSERIE OVEN and TOWN HALL, but still couldn't for the life of me make any headway with the rest of the NW.

Finally gave up on SPYS and twigged on SOWS. Still, took forever to see OH BOO HOO and WAIT WHAT. The remainder came quickly once I got over my 'whining'. :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

He should get an IPad. I do a lot of crosswords and the Times IPad app is the best.

Conrad 8:13 AM  

@Preferred Customer: Yes, it is a bit disturbing: How could she possibly avoid tripping over those slippers (or are they the bottoms of her pants legs)?

I always pronounce the Ks in "knurled knob"

When I saw "touch" in the clue for 9D I wanted something related to "tactile". So I ended up with tAcTICS* crossing tASHES and cEORIA. The latter is what got me back on track.

* In my defense, plenty of words have unrelated meanings, like "crane" and "date"

chance2travel 8:15 AM  

Hey Rex, welcome back! It's unfortunate about the covid scare, but great news that it was limited and mild. Also, I'm in Italy and I feel your pain regarding jet lag. Having an airbnb looking out at the Duomo of Florence makes up for it a little.

I've been solving on the NYT website for the last 4 years. I won't say it's great. Do you think if you used it for a week or two you would retrain your finger memory in a way that makes using it less painful? That seems to always happen to me at work when one of our applications gets retired in favor of a newer one. Regardless, old Occam's Razor tells me you're spot on that it's more about control of data than it is about effort in managing the .puz format. Maybe it was triggered by the latter, but the benefit of the former is what made the decision.

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I made the same mistake as Rex, slapping down hmm instead of UHH for 6D.

The answer I'm proudest of is realizing the significance of "revolutionary" in 4D, even if I had ROTISSERIEgrilS at first. 45A OBOE fixed that for me. Admittedly I wanted something like "sous vide" or "instant pot" when I took the clue in the traditional sense.

Also proud to get the redirect on 61A "willfully alone" right off the bat.

For 10D, I know ADELE was big, didn't know she had the record for best selling album of the century. Ahead of Taylor Swift even? Impressive!

@Preferred Customer - other than the clue for 40A being derogatory, is there a deeper level of offensiveness I'm unaware of?

Don't know much about baseball/football so had to piece together 11D from all the crosses.

Carola 8:28 AM  

Hard! Starting out, I could come up with only four bits of chicken feed: HIES, HIC, THC, IRE. But the I and C of those first two got me HAPTICS and the H and C of the latter HONDA and CAGER--->BIG SPENDER, followed by a fight to the finish. Tough, tough, tough cluing, and I always have trouble with colloquial phrases like that short stack in the NW. Last in: ...CATCH x SARAN.

Help from previous puzzles: SETI, ADELE, NERD as clued. Help from teaching: HAPTICS, from a student report on advances in German automobile technology. No idea: ERIN, KNURL, SHOESTRING CATCH - a fun one to learn.

@Loren, I avoid BELIE because I've never been able to grasp what it means.

@John Guzzetta and @Michael Hawkins, thank you for this enjoyable brain-racker.

jberg 8:30 AM  

I decided I should try to start my mornings earlier, and what a difference -- only 12 comments so far! I'll have to come back later to see what everyone has to say.

This one was a bit of a struggle, enjoyably, although it seemed easy at first. I had OH hOw sad before BOOHOO, but took it to the TOWN HALL and got it straightened out. I did want ROTISSERIE grillS, but that was too long; I had to wait for the crosses to see the OVENS. And that Garth Brooks/L'il Nas X number -- even with most of the crosses, I was choosing between ROmEO and RODEO. I eventually figured out I wasn't looking for a row or seat number on the ticket, so that was OK.

Maybe it's my Scandinavian heritage, but KNURL seems lovely to me. I only knew it in the arboreal sense -- a big knotted knob on a tree -- so I toyed with KNaRL, but ol' Oscar helped me out there.

@Loren, you've got me guessing about your avatar. Is it CUTE MEAT?

albatross shell 8:33 AM  

I completely missed the significance of "revolutionary". Good one. Add that to my favorite clues. Add Thirds, too. I forgot that one.

Shirley 8:39 AM  

@offthegrid, 7:43 - definitely a baseball term, and thanks for the video clip.

Guess i'm the only one who thought "Mashes" (like, bangers and mash, or mashed potatoes and meat loaf) could be a diner order, and "maptic" could be the study of touch for smartphone screens.

JD 8:51 AM  

Really struggled with 45A. Kidding!

The stalwart Oboe was surrounded by some incredible sparklers. Sore Losers, Big Spender, and Sole Heir. Interesting crowd.

A Tinge of Knurl. It just rolls off the tongue. My mother had cousins from Peoria, Knurl and Earl. Twins. But even with that, and after wrestling this whole grid to the ground, I choked on Knurl/Asks/Seti trio at the last. The K and the S's. It's the little things.

Solved on the NYT interface. The way I do that is to read the clue and type in the answer. But I'm good with technology.

Loved every word of this thing, but Meet Cute was tough. I think of that as a how not a when. "When are we leavin' Knurl?" "At Meet Cute Earl, cool your heels. You want popcorn with that Oh Boo Hoo?"

Cagers was good for sports headline writing back in the day, "Laurel Cagers Rout City at Home." Poetry.

Amelia 8:51 AM  

As for the puzzle, I liked it fine. My favorite answer, filled in before I understood it, was THIRDS. When I got, I loved it.

As for Rex, I'll cut him some cranky slack, but I hate it when people tell me I'm not allowed to have an opinion. I HATE IT. How do you know I don't understand what people are going through? Where do you get off telling me I can't have an opinion?

That's right up there with "you can't write about X because you aren't the gender or nationality of X."

Let's all have opinions about everything! Let's all write about everything!


pabloinnh 8:59 AM  

Read the clue for 4D with its "revolutionary" and wrote ROTISSERIE going down, as in it will be ROTISSERIE somethings, and got no crosses at all from that, so I erased it. Should have trusted my instincts.

MODELT seemed the most likely until the T didn't work. See also Kung FOO, ROOST, as in put down your bird feet, NOSE, as in put down your airplane, and MEETDATE, which didn't sound right and wasn't helpful. I think I resist remembering MEETCUTE because it sounds so stupid to me.

Didn't think much of "some diner choices" as a clue. Seemed a tad general. OTOH, I wrote in KNURL and thought about the time I made a screwdriver (really) in the metal shop segment of industrial arts when I was in seventh or eighth grade, and it had a KNURLed handle. It's the kind of word you don't forget. Also enjoyed seeing CAGER, as I'm old enough to have read newspaper accounts of basketball games referring to the players as CAGERS. Not many basketball games played in cages these days.

This one played nearly Saturday-tough for me but wicked rewarding. Thanks for a tough test, JG and MH. Just Great and Mighty Hard and a ton of fun, for which thanks.

Nancy 9:17 AM  

I always wonder if traps in a puzzle are planned or if they just happen. My "bidding considerations" (25D) were AceS. I'm talking Bridge, and the ACES in your hand should be given more weight in bidding than Kings and Queens, etc. Since I've played some Bridge in my life but have only bid at one auction*, ASKS never crossed my mind. But what are cORE LOSERS? And what's an eNURL? I straightened it all out very, very late.

The whole puzzle was challenging -- even though I saw STAR TURN from the get-go and spent the first few minutes trying to confirm it before writing it in. HAPTICS was a great big "Huh?" There's such a thing as a "NERD core"??? "NERD fest" is bad enough.

"Twenty-ODD" and "Thirty-ODD" seem like Green Paint to me. No, worse, they seem like Yellow Paint.

Some great cluing for SOLE HEIR and MEET CUTE. But the clue/answer that takes a STAR TURN here is SHOESTRING CATCH. Loved it. Thought it would break open the puzzle for me, but it didn't.

Some nits, but basically an entertaining Friday tussle that kept the little gray cells

*More about the auction in my next post.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

MEETCUTE is.......well, way too CUTE. Hate it.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

@Shirley, you're not the only one who had MASHES/MAPTICS.

As far as the loss of .puz, I wonder if it's because there was so much complaining that .puz wasn't compatible with such-and-such a puzzle that the NYT shortsightedly thought, "Since people are upset that .puz won't work well with certain puzzles, we just won't offer it anymore."

GILL I. 9:48 AM  

Well, my monocle fell out when my orbicularis oculi began to sag... and so I gave a lot of this the stink eye.
Why? you ask....Because this had things here that I'd never ever use in every day parlance. So what? you ask...because I like to say things that everyday people say. Now I have to figure out how to use HAPTIC. Did the MEET CUTE KNURL SETTLE ON the ROUE ADONIS? No? now we're back to a diner and the slingers. I like diners....I like some of their greasy cheesy foods but I will never say: " Hey Frank....give me a side of HASHES."
Was I the only idiot here that wrote Kung FOO?
My KNURL seriously runneth over.

@Rex. Welcome home. Glad you're back and safe. The last thing I want to do now is travel anywhere by plane.

Unknown 9:55 AM  

I thought this was a pretty challenging Friday . . . .
Loved SOLEHEIR & TESTSITE & WAITWHAT . . . . . They made up for my struggles and put a grin on my face.
Not sure where Rex came up w/ shoestring catch as having *football* origins - it is only used in the context of baseball, typically by an outfielder

I'm not sure that a ROAST is really a putdown? Yes, you're joking about someone, but typically that person is an honoree, so . . . .? That would be my one quibble.

After reading rex's overly lengthy mega-paragraph-long rant about the NYT switching formats, *sigh* that "issue" (if you want to beat the dead horse) is so two-weeks-old. Maybe now we can all move on? Pretty please?
I *do* agree with rex on one important point: Get the shot, and wear a mask in public indoor settings. FFS, how hard can this be? Do we really want the pandemic to go on for another year? Glad his vacation worked out in the end.

TTrimble 10:03 AM  

I'm glad I'm not the only one who found the NW tricky. I had woken up at 3 AM and opened the puzzle, bleary-eyed, and after a while thought it would have been better to WAIT. Wound up being about 60% over my Friday average.

I had At IT instead of A BIT, and therefore had a hard time seeing past OH tOO... bad?. WAIT, WHAT? -- tbH in place of UHH makes no sense! Finally, at length, got the OH BOO HOO and STAR TURN, never sure until the end whether it was STAR something or START something. I am certain I've never used that expression in my life.

SHOESTRING CATCH didn't come easily, but it's wonderfully vivid. HAPTICS is great. I like KNURL because it has this Norse look to it (friendly wave to ASGARD). Speaks to the word NERD in me. On the other hand, PERSES made me nervous -- never heard of the dude.

But there is an awful lot to LOVE in this sophisticated and well-clued puzzle, so much so that I feel tolerantly indulgent toward MEET-CUTE this time around. Puts me in a proper problem-solving mood to start the day.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

Thanks for that wonderful SHOESTRING CATCH clip, @Off the Grid (7:43)! First, it's a complete lifelong cure for all the people here who say they hate baseball and don't want to see another baseball reference in the puzzle ever again. Second, I find it makes a convincing argument that the best athletes in pro sports are to be found in baseball. DO NOT MISS THIS CLIP anyone who enjoys watching incredible athleticism.

And now for my one and only bidding at auction story. I've just moved from a studio apt to a 1 bedroom and I badly need a desk. I stop by Doyle Galleries on East 87th Street during their auction preview exhibition and I see a drop-dead-gorgeous cherry wood desk with brass handles in mint condition. (Reproduction Georgian, I think, but I'm not sure.) It's the perfect size for the space. The estimated auction price is $700-$800 and I count up my pennies. Don't want to spend that much, but I guess I have to. Question is: can I get it for that? Certainly don't want to go much (any) higher...

I'm now at the auction. They bring out the desk. "We'll start the bidding at $300," says the auctioneer. "Do I hear $300?" Silence. I raise my paddle. "I have $300," says the auctioneer. "Do I hear $400?" Silence. "Do I hear $350?" Silence. "Going once, going twice..."

I got the desk for $300. When I went up to sign the forms and make delivery arrangements, I asked how it was possible that there were no competing bids. "You're lucky," they said. "All the dealers along with our usual clientele are in the Hamptons."

It's 26 years later. I'm typing at the desk right now.

bocamp 10:09 AM  

Learned HAPTIC when I got my first Apple Watch, which uses Force Touch via it's TAPTIC Engine.

Always associated SHOESTRING CATCH with baseball, but have seen/heard it applied more widely.

RE: 'opinions': imo, 'informed opinions' – based on empathy – are the most persuasive.

Having played lots of Bridge, as well as bid at auctions, ASKS had a dual meaning for me. @LMS added a third with, 'big ASKS'.

ASKing bid: "In contract bridge, an asking bid is a convention used to seek a slam accurately. There are two types - colour asking bids and notrump asking bids. Constructed by bridge pioneer Ely Culbertson in the 1940s, they have been superseded by other methods; however, one remaining commonly used asking bid is the 5NT Grand slam force.

The application of Asking bids requires making distinctions between the asking colour, the agreed trump and the two remaining side colours. Replies by partner are in accordance with a schedule of defined meanings." (Wikipedia)

p -55

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

James K. Lowden 10:11 AM  

I read the comments in case @LMS comments. They always belie her education and wit.

Mr. Cheese 10:13 AM  

“Shoestring catch” is DEFINITELY a baseball term. Even if you can prove it isn’t… don’t tell me!

pmdm 10:17 AM  

The puzzle seemed to me middle of the road, so my reaction is middle of the road. Better than a bad reaction.

I solve on the aper version. For a long time I have been reading complaints about problems with the .puz version. Now that it's gone, I read a lot of complaints. Whatever the NYT does, people will complain. In that case, I can see why they would do something that increases the paper's profit. If people are going to complain regardless, I guess I can accept the business decision.

And as Z has pointed out, the .puz format is still available. I just don't understanding the problem.

jae 10:21 AM  

Tough. I got nowhere in the NW and having hmm @Rex before UHH didn’t help. So I went bottom up which gave me ROTISSERIE which eventually helped in the NW. The bottom half was actually easy-medium.

Liked this a bunch! Tricky cluing plus sparkle equals an excellent Friday.

puzzlehoarder 10:28 AM  

This was an average Friday for difficulty but above average in it's use of in the language phrases. It made for a very entertaining solve.

I had to look up the word HAPTIC 24 years ago and haven't seen it since. It was nice to finally get to use that bit of trivia. I still remember the Webster's definition as being 'A predilection for the sensation of touch." I love Webster's definitions like that.

A funny story about THC. There's a cannabis dispensary in San Diego called The Healing Center. I didn't give the name a second thought until I got to the parking lot. At first I thought it was kind of cute that they put the letters THC on their designated parking spots. Then the lightbulb went off.

I misread the 31D clue as "Bailer, in old lingo." Solving on paper can have it's problems too.

Great clue for HONDA. If there's a museum for ugly cars somewhere the Insight is sure to get a STAR TURN.

My write overs were UMM/UHH, SCENE/SARAN and ANTE/ANTI. Minor speed bumps.

Loren Muse Smith 10:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 10:36 AM  

@jberg- they’re two SOWS.

JC66 10:36 AM  



Birchbark 10:37 AM  

@Z (7:09) re Marvel-clued ASGARD -- I favor the classic clues. But there's great value in the pop version of Norse myth as a passageway to the real thing. As a kid, I knew who Loki was only because that was the name of our neighbor's mischievous black lab, and some thoughtful grownup supplied the back story. Nowadays, thanks to Marvel, Loki is better known than Ronald McDonald among some demographics [citation needed]. By the transitive property, ASGARD more famous than the Golden Arches.

In like fashion, Rush's "Xanadu" (from their album "A Farewell to Kings") is pretty much responsible for the intensity of my first 10th-grade readings of the real deal in Coleridge, which led to Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth, and on to a lifetime among words of power. These guys were talking about reality, which to a sophomore is incredibly important.

So clue ASGARD to Marvel, and a renaissance of the the true myth follows.

Now I can't get that sophomoric Rush song out of my head: "Held within the Pleasure Dome / Decreed by Kublah Khan / To taste my bitter triumph / A mad immortal man / Nevermore shall I return / To walk these caves of ice / For I have dined on honeydew / And drunk the milk of Pa-a-a-a-r-a-dise. Ohh-of Paradise!"

PHV 10:45 AM  

"Sea map" is not a thing. "Chart" is the thing.

Mary McCarty 11:02 AM  

“Eager young lads, and ROUEs and cads, will offer you food and wine.” (16 going on 17, from Sound of Music)

Whatsername 11:02 AM  

Appreciate all the guest bloggers for the past couple of weeks but it’s nice to have Our Fearless Leader back. Like when you come home after a two-week vacation and sit down in your favorite chair and look around at all your familiar surroundings. Be it ever so humble . . . although that’s probably not a word I would ever use to describe Rex Parker . . . oh never mind.

The puzzle. I thought it was outstanding. Excellent corner stacks in the NW and SE. So PEORIA is in Illinois? Well SHUT my mouth. I wanted FORMAL for my evening do and TWO PIECE for my bikini. LOVE ME DO took me back to my Marvel Comic days and all the teenage angst of Beatles love songs. Somewhere there’s a crumbling scrapbook with a Kansas City Municipal Stadium concert ticket from 1964 that says ADMIT ONE.

@Joaquin (6:45) πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ Another term popular with SORE LOSERS? Rigged

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

My hometown newspaper was still using CAGER in basketball headlines as recently as 2000, and SOLON (another crosswordese obscurity to most) to refer to legislators, though that likely lends credence and respect that most of them never deserve.

Tried AcrossLite many years ago and didn't like it. Seemed clunky to me and I gravitated to the website version. Different strokes...

Mary McCarty 11:11 AM  

“Eager young lads, and ROUEs and cads, will offer you food and wine.” (16 going on 17, from Sound of Music)

James K. Snowden “ I read the comments in case @LMS comments. They always belie her education and wit.” I think you’ve got it wrong;
LMS comments never fail to reveal her education and wit., IMHO.
BELIE: be·lie
Learn to pronounce
verb: belie; 3rd person present: belies; past tense: belied; past participle: belied; gerund or present participle: belying
(of an appearance) fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict.
"his lively, alert manner belied his years"
Similar: contradict, be at odds with, call into question, give the lie to, show/prove to be false, disprove, debunk, discredit, explode, knock the bottom out of, shoot full of holes, shoot down (in flames), controvert, confute, (negative) conceal, cover, disguise, misrepresent, falsify, distort, warp, put a spin on, color, give a false idea of, give a false account of
testify to, reveal

Ann Howell 11:15 AM  

Never heard of SHOESTRING CATCH and had ROAD TRIP at 59A for a while, but otherwise it felt like a solid Friday. Glad Rex is back! (Will say nothing about the whole .puz thing, as I've always solved on paper or on the website).

albatross shell 11:20 AM  

I tried AceS before ASKS. I thought ASKS might have more to do with the bid-ask systems of the commodity or financial markets than the card game.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

"The way I do that is to read the clue and type in the answer. But I'm good with technology." (@JD)

Best comment of the day.

Harry 11:26 AM  

Just finished, having returned midday to the grid after hitting "marginal returns" on my usual bedtime solve last night.

I'm too tired to toss out anything witty. This one required an unusually hard push for a Friday. (I hope my afternoon proceeds more smoothly!)

I'm satisfied with the construction. In hindsight, no problem with the cluing (at there's decent cleverness at work). But ultimately the cluing/fills left me feeling flat. I didn't enjoy this one and am merely relieved to have it behind me.

What? 11:27 AM  

Baseball. You don’t need Google for that. Or any source. It’s baseball.

Unknown 11:29 AM  

Convection has the same number of letters as rotisserie.

Barbara S. 11:37 AM  

This was a pretty hard Friday as reintroduction to the daily NYTXW. Especially as I overconfidently popped in “poor baby” in answer to “Mocking response to whining.” But quite early on I knew I wanted TOWNHALL for “Campaign Q&A,” so that set me on a better path. Like @Nancy, I put AceS for ASKS and at one point 32A began C_R, which made me think that “They might claim that things are fixed” were people who promised they’d repaired your car but were really ripping you off. In other car news, HONDA got filled in from crosses and just for a nanosecond, I thought Hmm, is the word HONDA in Japanese a term for someone with great spiritual depth? D’oh! I see it’s going to take more than one day to get back to XW fighting form.


Many thanks for the good wishes and caring inquiries that have been directed my way on the blog and on email following my sudden disappearance from these shores. Here’s the scoop: old house – plumbing leak – water through kitchen ceiling – drywall removed – hazardous materials found – expert remediation required – then plumbing fix – then rebuild – exiled from home – landed in tiny summer house in small town. Probably won’t be back home for two months. And, believe it or not, we were off the internet for over two weeks. This forced us to discover what a challenge it is to conduct life offline in 2021. I’ll never know why it was a near-endless bureaucratic and technical nightmare to bring internet service to this house. But – after 17 days, 25 hours on the phone, 3 Bell techs and a new dry-loop number, here we are. And I’m delighted to be back!

So I’m here to talk crosswords, but I regret to announce that I have to suspend quoting for now. There are just too many competing imperatives. Mind you, I’m not retiring or resigning: this is simply a sabbatical, and I’ll get back to the daily quotations when I can. Anyone or any several who’d like to step into the quoting breach would be warmly welcomed by me.

(BTW, if you’re wondering why I’m not blue with a jack-o-lantern, this is a borrowed computer.)

WhatDoing 11:40 AM  

The proprietary NYT app works fine - I’ve preferred it for years to Across Lite or Puzzaz. And why shouldn’t NYT have primary control over their own data????

Great puzzle today. SORELOSERS definitely felt like a well-deserved jab at certain Republican reality deniers.

JC66 11:44 AM  

@Barbara S


What? 11:45 AM  

Why are so many reluctant to buy the paper? I live in Michigan and the paper is delivered every morning before I wake up (it’s printed locally with rented presses). Even in the undeveloped wilds of parts of Florida, you don’t get delivery but there it is, bright and early, in the local supermarket. And you get the added extra of the paper itself. Real paper, no scratched and reflective screens.
Less than $4 a day. And Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

I expect not first, by any means, but I just can't let it go by: SHOESTRING CATCH originated in Baseball. geez.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

I find it makes a convincing argument that the best athletes in pro sports are to be found in baseball.

there's at least one baseball player who begs to differ:
"I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player."
-- John Kruk

Joe Dipinto 11:53 AM  

Artist behind the best-selling album of the 21st century

As opposed to in front of it? It sounds like the album was conceived as a nefarious plot to attain world domination.

Alternating thirds.

JC66 11:54 AM  


I live in NYC and get the paper delivered every day. I started doing the crossword puzzle (pen on paper) many years before the Internet existed, so I'm no stranger to that process. However, I switched to online solving about 20 years ago (give or take).

The choice isn't paper vs online; it's which online source one prefers.

Crimson Devil 12:02 PM  

Enjoyed SORELOSERS (ha), SITIN and THIRDS; learned KNURL and HAPTICS.

bocamp 12:05 PM  

@albatross shell (11:20 AM)

Good CATCH on the 'bid-ASK' system:

"A bid-ask spread is the amount by which the ask price exceeds the bid price for an asset in the market. The bid-ask spread is essentially the difference between the highest price that a buyer is willing to pay for an asset and the lowest price that a seller is willing to accept.

An individual looking to sell will receive the bid price while one looking to buy will pay the ask price." (Investopedia)

Hi @Barbara S.; so good to see you again and know that things are slowly but surely working out for you and your situation. :)

pg -10

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

TTrimble 12:07 PM  

Random stuff: I also considered "convection OVENS" (the air swirls round and round, which fits "revolutionary"), cf. @Unknown 11:29 AM and "poor baby" (instead of OH BOO HOO) -- welcome back, @Barbara S.!

Sometimes the NYTXW has the best timing. SORE LOSERS ("they might claim things are fixed"): today is the day that the military is supposed to round up all the pedophiliac baby-eating Democrats and install Donald J. Trump as the rightful winner of the election. "My Pillow Guy" recently finished his convention to establish the rampant election fraud. Routers!

It's all coming to a head, folks. Repent! Accept the Cheetoh Jesus* as your Lord and Savior!

*Not my coinage, but I'm cleaving.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

I've been able to get the puzzle in my preferred app (Shortyz on android) all week. No idea how it works because I thought it used .puz as well, but it's been working.

Newboy 12:12 PM  

Thought today was Saturday as I scrolled through John & Michael’s grid looking for a finger hold to begin what I realize will indeed be a challenging climb. Fell into the Kung fool trap—OH BOO HOO! WAIT WHAT? umm huh ooh wtf 🀬 ?? UHH? That northwest was a true cruciverbal CUTE MEET. ( loved the @lms sows & @jberg’s interpretation even more) what a workout.

I too have enjoyed the guest bloggers—great folk all, even when hungover! Still, it’s good to see OFL back where he should be. Today’s write up was a delight & I certainly agree that “ it's a super-annoying little hiccup” to use the NYT software with different HAPTICS. I’m obviously out of touch with available options, so I appreciate @Z’s suggestion. “Like math, change is hard,” he whined. Gotta do some UHH there afterall.

Joseph Michael 12:20 PM  

This puzzle brings together one of my favorite and one of my least favorite constructors. The favorite seems to have won out since I ended up liking the puzzle, especially ROTISSERIE OVENS. Also liked the timeliness of SORE LOSERS with OH BOO HOO nearby.

Great clues for SOLE HEIR, HONDA, MEET CUTE, and TRUTH.

Best new word: HAPTICS. Worst new word: NERDCORE. (“Did you really just say that?”)

Nancy 12:23 PM  

You are not going to believe this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The John Widdecomb name is inscribed in the upper left-side drawer. The wood is burlwood, not cherry (well, what do I know about furniture?) I didn't research it back then because in 1995 it would still be another 13 years until I owned a computer. I knew I had gotten a bargain, but I had no idea how much of a bargain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Boy, am I ever feeling rich right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Welcome back, @Barbara S. It's great to see you! Glad you finally were able to get internet service, though it sounds like an additional struggle that didn't need to be added to the many you already had.

The Cleaver 12:36 PM  


Hey!! Isn't there a no-poaching rule?? But I'll certainly let it go.

mmorgan 12:41 PM  

Really enjoyed the puzzle, a challenging and pleasurable solve.

I hope Rex figures out we can still get the .puz files… for now… and each day it’s still there I’m grateful but fear it’s just borrowed time.

D’Qwellner 12:42 PM  

I totally agree with you re: NW today. But can’t agree with you on the NYT app for solving the puzzle. Super easy to use on my phone. And I don’t have the halfway fireworks! Get used to it - you’ll be fine.

Michiganman 12:48 PM  

@Nancy. That is so cool. And made in Grand Rapids MI., known as a furniture mfg. town. Not far from Z's Holland.

EdFromHackensack 12:51 PM  

welcome back rex. I missed you, the stand-ins were good, but I missed your snark and you not being afraid to razz a puzzle. Enjoyed the puzzle - great Friday. Sometimes Fridays are a DNF for me by a square or two (I do the hard copy, so never 100% positive I am “done”. My daughter and I did an Adele song the other day Cheers..

Nancy from Chicago 12:51 PM  

One of Rex's complaints about the NYT app is that it doesn't skip to the next unfilled square. I know he doesn't read the comments, but if anyone else is struggling with that problem, you can fix it in settings. Click on the settings icon and in the fourth setting down, mark the checkbox for "Within a word, Skip over filled squares."

There are other adjustments in settings that would take care of some of Rex's other issues as well, such as turning off sound on solve, timer, and puzzle milestones.

Canis Nebula 12:54 PM  

You can change the end of word behavior and other preferences in the settings for the online interface, and it will remember how you set it.

PhysGraf 12:55 PM  

ASIS could be a consideration when bidding on something and INURL made as much sense to me as KNURL. Am I the only one?

pabloinnh 1:01 PM  

@jberg-KNURL is indeed a great word, but the bump on a tree is a BURL.

@GILL I and Newboy--FOOs rush in...

@Barbara S. and OFL-welcome back. All's right with the world again.

Peter P 1:03 PM  

This one just wasn't on my wavelength. I gave up after fifteen minutes and a half-filled grid.

So what's the deal with these crossword apps that makes them so good? This is a genuine question. I've only ever used the web interface when solving on my computer and it's perfectly intuitive and quick to me. I can toggle through up and down clues fast, and tab back and forth through the clues lists easily. I really don't know what else I could possibly need or want in my interface. What does something like Black Ink or AcrossLite afford me that the NY Times web interface or App (if I'm using the phone or iPad) doesn't?

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

Mighty stong themeless, IM&AO. Hard to beat OHBOOHOO & WAITWHAT & UHH, all in one corner.

@Magnificent Z-beast: Hey, now -- Definite sister pub to open, right after the PLACEBO TENTACLE: The WAIT-WHAT? pub in PEORIA. Meant 2 B, dude.

Happy Friday the 13th, everybody. And a big "turn around … good to see yer back!" to @RP. Lots to celebrate, here, today.

Great SORELOSERS clue, for which there is a whole gop-gob of possible newsworthy answers, lately. I kinda wanted CYBERNINJAS, there … but wouldn't fit.

Poor @RP was clearly too tired out to crank out a long blog. Just to toss a wasted @RP a coupla OHBOOHOOs:

1. KNURL. Great word, but needed a more trendy clue, such as: {Retired colonel now working at K-Mart, slangily??}.
2. PERSES. Nuthin wrong with this at all, as desperate plural meat; Just clue er up as: {Intrinsically's??}, and everybody's happy as an asgard.

staff weeject pick: UHH. Debut word! Astonishin!

Thanx for gangin up on us, JG & MH dudes. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Teedmn 1:17 PM  

That NW, ouch. I HIEd myself to the SE after "hmm" didn't work at 6D and went with Romeo's NE'ER instead. Much easier that way. 52D as Rake before ROUE was the only hitch down there.

I had "twenty-One or thirty-One for a bit and thought, "Really?"

I had no idea on 25D so I was very happy to see KNURL rear its lovely head. When I played softball, someone had a knurled bat that I loved to look at but was too heavy for me to use. So I have to disagree with Rex on that one. And yes, the clue for 32A got a circle from me, har.

John G and Michael H, thank you for the Friday challenge, nice job!

Whatsername 1:29 PM  

@Barbara S (11:37) Hooray! You’re back. Sounds like a minor miracle considering what you’ve had to contend with.

@Nancy (12:23) Well there are bargains and then there are absolute steals. That’s amazing!

FWIW. Upon reading the clue for 11D my first thought was baseball.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Ed in Hackensack - that video was great! Must be fun making music with your daughter !

Frantic Sloth 1:33 PM  

Just a quick drop-in to say welcome back @Rex and @Barbara S! WAIT...WHAT? Is it just a coincidence you both just happen to show up on the same day? I smell shenanigans! Though I can't for the ever-lovin' life of me imagine what. Are you two conspiring with Adele to carry out @J-DIp's 1153am astutely discovered nefarious plot? If not world domination, then at least the hijacking of @Nancy's beautiful desk [it was already "stolen" once ;)]?
I don't care what you do on your own time, but don't ever leave us again! πŸ˜‰

I had difficulty with this one to the tune of many minutes longer than my average Fridee, but that's a good thing! Oddly enough, didn't fall for the misdirects like SOLEHEIR and ADMITONE, but SARAN took me waaaay too long. What is that about?? Please don't answer.

And for whatever reason, I can't get "Moses supposes...." out of my head, which leads to PERSES disperses his verses as curses, but PERSES disperses erroneously??
Don't worry. I'm going. πŸ™„


okanaganer 1:43 PM  

What Rex said about the NYT web interface. I did web work (not wet work) for 20 years, and I know I could make it a heck of a lot cleaner and pleasanter than it is. (And I'm not that great a programmer!) They could have a full screen button; there is plenty of room on my very average monitor for the full grid and both clue lists with no scrolling necessary (except maybe Sunday). It's a piece of cake. I am able to tweak their page using the developer tools to achieve this, but it takes a while and is a pain.

Unknown 2:00 PM  

That clue for BIKINI was brutal. Finished and though - it can't be because of the A bomb tests in the 40s, right?

Anyways, lots of new and interesting fill. Never heard of HAPTICS, ROUE, or KNURL. Still there was enough there to figure this puzzle out, slowly and steadily.

Stephen Minehart 2:17 PM  

Friday is always the best. It's the shoe you've been wearing for three months. Still looks new and fits perfectly. It's the porridge that isn't too hot or too cold. Finished in the NW because I wasn't willing to give up on POORBABY. When the NW was the only thing left, TOWNHALL had to be right, so I eventually got to OHBOOHOO. Somehow in my 47 years I can't recall encountering STARTURN, but it sounds plausible.

I use all kinds of knurled tools at work, but just learned the word today, so watch out coworkers, next week I'm going to be using that word a lot!

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Rex, it seems like you did everything right *after* your friend tested positive but vacationing with people from all over the country in a house of thirteen people is NOT what you should be doing with the Delta Variant spreading across the country and threatening to make this fall as deadly as last years.

Stay the F home, and wear a F'ing Mask!

mathgent 2:26 PM  

Nancy (9:17). Green (or yellow) paint, indeed!

Nancy appreciates that the puzzle required her to activate her little grey cells. That's Hercule Poirot's pet saying. At her recommendation I just read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. M. Poirot cracked it. Wonderful mystery. I'm now reading another of his cases, After the Funeral.

The NW was a killer. It took some good guesses and some cross-outs.

DigitalDan 2:45 PM  

Before you declare it ugly, Rex, watch a video of a skilled machinist creating a KNURLed handle. It is magically wonderful. The metal lathe marked the beginning of the industrial revolution, in some ways.

Anonymous 3:27 PM  


not to be too argumentative, but I'd vote for the (Swiss) automatic screw machine, no skilled machinist required. and, yes, they make KNURLs as nice as you please. and by the thousands per hour. mechanical/cam operated Swiss machines are still running in long-run production. CNC is, if you're a good enough programmer, more efficient for short-run, JIT, production.

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

Could someone please explain THIRDS?

Amelia 3:37 PM  


I have two Widdicomb pieces that were my parents, a desk and a dresser. I've checked the value over the years and it fluctuates widely. Also, they put up prices that they don't necessarily get. But clearly it was a good purchase all around.

Let me know if you want to discuss further!

bocamp 3:44 PM  

@Anonymous (3:27 PM)

Think of an all-you-can-eat buffet. πŸ˜‹


Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Photomatte 3:51 PM  

Never heard of Nerd Core or Meet Cute, so the eastern half was a bit slow today. Glad I knew haptics right off the bat, although I initially had ONEHANDEDPUSHUPS as an amazing sports feat.
Seriously though, Meet Cute? What is that? It sounds like some of the bad English translation i used to see when I lived in Tokyo.

Usmcrgreg 3:52 PM  

I recommend the iPhone and/or iPad app for solving the puzzle, with iPad being the superior choice. It’s spendy as a standalone purchase just for the NYTXW, but much, much better than solving online.

Zwhatever 4:00 PM  

@Mighty Masked One - The WAIT? WHAT? Pub will open near the marina.

@Peter P - Each app has different strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the person each strength or weakness may be significant.
@WhatDoing - It isn’t their data!!! We need significant data privacy improvement because our data is valuable and nobody has my permission to sell my data.
@Anon9:37 - If they had done the research and presented this as the justification the screaming might have been less.

@Carola - What is “BELIE?” What one resorts to when one’s A LIE doesn’t work.

@Mary McCarty - I think what @James K Lowden was saying is that @LMS occasionally presents herself in a way that BELIEs (gives a contrary impression of) her actual education and wit. It was a compliment. Which is why so many people avoid BELIE, it is so often hard to sort out the intended meaning.

@PHV - And what, exactly, is a “chart?” If you were describing this item to a noob one might resort to describing it as a SEA MAP.

@Birchbark - Point taken. I do like my PPP to be diverse in time and subject. But it seems like Marvel clues have completely eliminated Norse mythology clues. Can’t we have a little of both?

@LMS 10:36 - You should have taken credit for @jberg’s great Cute Meat answer. πŸ˜‰

@Amelia - You lost me. Who said you couldn’t have an opinion?

@Chance2Travel - I think @Preferred Customer was commenting on the video Rex posted, not the answer itself.

@Preferred Customer - Disturbed? Is that your word for it? I was pondering the straps in the back and if they were going to be enough to prevent inadvertent Cheek Cleavage. Strong WAP energy in that video.

Peter 4:10 PM  

Post your time

Smith 4:13 PM  

@Nancy (10:04)

Loved your auction/ desk story!!

Amelia 4:13 PM  

@Z Rex said it

"If you always use the app or always solve on paper then none of this will mean much to you, and that's fine, but you probably also shouldn't have much of an opinion about it, since you can't know how it affects others."

Did I overreact? Probably.

GILL I. 4:21 PM  

Yay ala Yay...@Barbara S is back. Break out the champagne.

@Nancy...I LOVED YOUR antique story....May I add mine?....Maybe not as good as yours but a good find is a good find and needs to be shared..... When I first moved back to the States, All I could afford to bring with me were my small cache of art books and my raggedy clothes. I found a very cheap walk-up on 98th and Broadway. In those days it was called "Spanish Harlem" which suited my needs. My grocer spoke Spanish and I was able to find all the foods I grew up with. My apartment was furnished with the ugliest pieces of caca one could shove into a little one bedroom. I needed something to make me smile. In those days, you could walk down the street and people would be throwing out things they hated. They'd leave them on the sidewalk to be picked up. I would scavenge through them all hoping I'd find something other than a felt flamenco dancer, to hang on my wall. I found an interesting mirror that was dirty as hell but it had a lovely eagle on the top and it looked interestingly ornate. I brought it home. I left NYC and headed to other places to live, so I left this one little gem of a mirror with my brother. He knew a good thing when a good thing was handed to him. He had his friend (an antique dealer) look at it. It was declared an authentic Giltwood mirror and probably worth about $4,000.
Is there a moral to this story?

kitshef 4:37 PM  

Internet, phones and cable finally restored following Tuesday's (!) storm. Wish I was returning to a puzzle more to my tastes, but this definitely did not do it for me. Clues like [Thinking ...] and "Did you really just say that?" and answers like UHH (seriously, look at that clue and that answer and try to feel anything positive) aren't going to get it done for me.

Harry met Sally in 1977 at University of Chicago. Missed it by two years.

kitshef 4:42 PM  

OMG Thank you Z so much for the .puz link!

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

Thanks, @bocamp!

Nancy 4:57 PM  

@GILL (4:21) -- I think there are two morals to your story...and mine.

1) So much of life is a matter of luck, chance, timing and circumstance.

2) If you love something -- even if it's in an area you know absolutely nothing about -- chances are (if you have any taste at all worth mentioning) that you love it for a very good reason and that it may actually have some value. And even if it doesn't..

While it was wildly exciting for me to learn only just today, 26 years after the fact, that the desk I bought is now worth so much more than I paid for it, I would love it just as much if it were worth much less. Has it gone down in value as @Amelia says it might have? Who cares? I'm not an investor, I'm a writer, and in 1995 I was a deskless writer. (In my studio apt I wrote on a folded down dressing table.) I prize this desk as much for what I've written on it over the years as for its resale value and in any event I'm not planning to sell it. It has filled and continues to fill a real practical need, and finding it so serendipitously meant I didn't end up with some godawful office-y type of desk that would have made my living room look like someone's cubicle at work. (My across-the-hall neighbor has one of those and while highly functional, it uglifies her otherwise very nicely decorated apartment.) I was very, very lucky that day.

bocamp 4:59 PM  

@Anonymous (4:45 PM) yw 😊

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Eniale 5:12 PM  

@Barbara S = my sympathies re your flood. three years ago we had a pipe burst in our foundation; whole downstairs an inch deep in water. The total remodel took months, not weeks - good luck with your two months and with the rising prices and supply difficulties!

My whole northwest today foggy and smoky; oh yeah, I mean the puzzle too!

2:15 Pacific

Crimson Devil 5:19 PM  

What one gets after having seconds.

A 5:42 PM  

OH BOO HOO - my favorite entry and also my reaction on seeing the correct answer at 25D. I finished with ASiS, as in a caveat when bidding on EBAY(Hi @PhysGraf!). Didn’t make sense but it’s what I SETTLEdON. It’s ok, I won’t join those SORE LOSERS, the Friday the 13th crazies.

Good to have OFL back safe and sound. Also good to hear from @Barbara S but sorry to hear about the hazardous materials forcing the extended banishment. Good luck with the repairs!

@LMS, thanks to you I think I know how to use BELIE and BEtray now!

Thanks, crossword, for introducing me to KNURL, HAPTICS and STAR TURN. Also HONDo, but turns out that isn’t really a wise advisor.

WAIT, WHAT made me think of Jeff Goldblum’s line in Independence Day after his dad goes on about captured aliens and Area 51.**

@Joe D, I wondered about that “artist behind” wording too - I didn’t go down the world domination path, though. Just wondered if it was a songwriter or composer not on the album. And thanks for the Debussy! Just wow.

@EdFrom, thanks for sharing your video - nice job! I like your daughter’s playing - she’s very musical! (And horn players are usually very critical of the saxophone.) What a wonderful thing to be able to play music with your family! Infinitely preferable to watching TV.

Kathleen Battle was born August 13, 1948. She may have a reputation for being difficult, but this duet with Wynton Marsalis is sheer joy:

Let the Bright Seraphim

** Goldblum is David Levinson, Judd Hirsch is his dad Julius, who is ASKing the gov’t. officials about Area 51:
Julius Levinson: Area 51, right? Area 51! You knew then! And you did nothing!
President Whitmore: Sir, regardless of what you may have read in the tabloids, there has never been any spacecraft recovered by our government. Take my word for it. There's no Area 51. There's no recovered spaceship.
Albert Nimzicki: Uh…excuse me, Mr. President. That's not entirely accurate.
David Levinson: What, which part?

Anoa Bob 6:04 PM  

There's been some KNURL bashing on this blog and comment board in the past. Once again I must come to its defense. KNURLing is all around us and makes our day to day lives much easier. I bet you a cold brewski (to be settled at a local beach bar) that there is some object close by right now that has been KNURLED. Maybe the cap of a tube of toothpaste. Maybe a sliding switch on top of a radio alarm clock. (I'm looking at one as I type.)

To KNURL is to make a smooth, regular surface systematically rougher and uneven. Most often this is to improve grip. There are several ways to do it but the simplest one is with a series of raised, parallel lines.

Sometimes KNURLing can also help identify an object, such as a coin, just by feel alone. Although a dime and a penny are similar in size, for example, they can be distinguished by feel alone because a dime has a KNURLed edge while a penny doesn't. In the psychology of sensation and perception the ability to identify an object by touch alone is called the HAPTIC sense. So I was able to guess 9D HAPTICS even though I don't have a touch anything electronically speaking.

I always think it dulls the shine of an otherwise solid puzzle when a 14 letter phrase is made to fill a 15 square slot by gratuitously tacking on the oh so convenient letter S as happens with 4D ROTISSERIE OVEN. The 9 letter 32A SORE LOSER also needed a POC boost to fill its 10 square slot.

Speaking of POCs, did anyone answer the THIRDS inquiry above? If not, think seconds and then THIRDS for more of something.

Jen 6:12 PM  

Glad you and your family are safe - sounds like a scary experience. Welcome back.

CDilly52 6:54 PM  

@LMS. I’ve been using “willful ignorance” for a very long time it seems, and despite my hope for change with those who SETTLE ON choosing that particular course of inaction, othing seems to be getting through. Alas.

CDilly52 6:55 PM  

Rare form today, @Z. Huge LOL!

CDilly52 6:59 PM  

SHOESTRING CATCH is baseball!!! And I thought @Rex loved the sport. Oh well, he’s experiencing vacation re-entry so it’s excusable.

egsforbreakfast 7:47 PM  

Very late commenting today, so I’ll be brief:

1. Welcome back from tech exile Barbara S. Missed you.
2. Loved the puzzle.
3. If you have an iOS device, go to Settings ——-> Accessibility ——-> Touch. Among the Touch options you will find Haptic Touch.

CDilly52 7:52 PM  

I have to start by saying that I really like the word KNURL. Just putting myself in that camp.

OK, first of all, welcome back Rex. Your analysis and explanation of the NYT interface debacle is excellent. So thank you for that. I have been mightily frustrated, and now without my wonderful nerd/geek husband, I had nobody to really explain it all to this bear of very little tech brain. All I knew wasn’t he NYT’s decision certainly didn’t do me any favors, and after all, isn’t everything really all about me?

This puzzle was decidedly difficult for me due to the gaggle of impossible spots which required me to use the W.A.G. method in order finally to complete For any unfamiliar with this very (not!) scientific solving method, it’s the Wild Ass Guess.

Pop Music? Nada. I am familiar with Lil Nas X only through crosswords but Garth’s song RODEO I did know and that fit nicely.

Knowledge of mainstream country music is inevitable to anyone with even average hearing acuity in Oklahoma. Seems like all elevator and background office, shopping venue or other incidental background music is country by default down here.

Anyway, RODEO and BIG SPENDER (from “Sweet Charity”) will be today’s ear worms. Kind of fits, too, or at least makes a good mash-up:. 🎢 “. . . I could tell you were a man from the RODEO. Good lookin’, so divine. . . “. But I digress.

Never heard the phrase STAR TURN. I haven’t gotten out much, obviously. And I wanted poor baby for a long time. Wrote Ingit OH BOOHOO. I listen to NPR a lot, especially Saturday mornings, and “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” is one of my favorite shows, so I thought WAIT, WaiT was a dandy answer for 17A, and it fit for way too long. As I have recently learned that Australians, instead of “mucking” things up, “stuff” them up, I well and truly stuffed up the NW corner and it was like the kids in the “Cat in the Hat.” All that corner could do was just sit, sit, sit, sit, and I did not like it, not one little bit. In fact, I feared I would end up as a very SORE LOSER with a DNF. Fortunately as Halle s sometimes when I let an unfinished puzzle ripen like fine cheese or wine, a small miracle occurs as it did here and I figure out my mistake.

This was an excellent puzzle, made more enjoyable first by my smug insertion of HONDA immediately in response to “Insight offerer,” and the return of OFL. Scary first part of the vacation but so happy everyone came through and that you returned safely.

Wishing everyone involved as teachers and students a safe, healthy and exciting “back to school.” I personally foresee a quick shutdown here as the “move-in week” welcomed folks from all 50 states and a large number of foreign countries to campus and throughout the live news coverage and photographs in print media, I did not see a single mask, despite the CDC recommendations. Not surprising though, since it appears that the campus was devoid of signage suggesting continued COVID risk management protocols , and accordingly I doubt it is a dangerous leap to my conclusion that materials directed to students regarding move-in week contained any such information or suggestion. Hmmm, early on in the comments, the phrase “willful ignorance” was employed. . .

Stay safe and healthy, everyone. We all want to be able to enjoy life, especially when it. Rings us such fun puzzles as this one!

CDilly52 7:54 PM  

@LMS, “willful ignorance” has been my chosen phrase to employ as necessary rather than than any one of the perhaps less appropriate things that might spring to mind.

CDilly52 7:57 PM  

@albatross: SHOESTRING CATCH absolutely is baseball! And I thought @Rex was a big baseball fan. Oh well, he gets a pass or two. After all, he is suffering from what I call “vacation re-entry syndrome.”

Anonymous 8:00 PM  

Am I the only person who thought "mocking response to whining" was "OK Boomer"?

albatross shell 9:12 PM  

Yes it can. Bikini atoll was a TESTSITE for nuclear weapons 23 times between 1946-58.

MEETCUTE is a movie term for the first meeting of the lovers in a romantic comedy. Well-known and overused in crosswords in the opinion of some, say me. Over cutsie too. Me again.

NERDCORE new to me to but seems to be a form of hip-hop with themes appealing to nerds and geeks. Wiki credits MCfrontalot with being a pioneer in 2006. So I presume it is well-known also. I believe I have heard some but was not familiar with the term.

@Anoa Bob
A belated thanks for your 4 levels of POC re-post a few days back. I am not sure I agree with your "scorn" for the POC in theme answers because of the corresponding requirements of symmetry and length that are absolutes. Many delightful themes would be missed if the extra space could not be used. It of course depends on the naturalness of the plural and some other factors too. I know your are more forgiving when there is a high degree of sparkle at times. I do understand your point of view.

Roger 10:29 PM  

Welcome back Rex, and thanks for sharing your COVID story. Glad it ended well (basically).

We get the NYT delivered to support it, but I do everything electronically and online. My gripe with the NYT app is twofold. First, as Rex said, it's not the greatest interface. I use the app Crosswords on my Android phone. It shows both across and down clues at the same time and, by sliding your finger across the clue you can move the cursor square by square. It also skips exactly as I want it to. It's really great and will be missed.

Second, and most important, my wife and I cannot solve at the same time. One had to finish and then the next had to clear it  We dealt with this by my ceding the app to her (she thinks the interface is just fine) and my downloading the .puz file into Crosswords. Now, if we both want to solve at the same time, we need another Games subscription. I've caved and bought it.

Oh, and finally, the Android version of the app doesn't give you Statistics. I have to go to my browser for that.

Great puzzle today. Convection (and then a misspelled Rottiserie) before Rotisserie and definitely in the Hmm first crowd.

Andrew H 9:14 AM  

HAPTICS can be a group of settings on your phone, which may be the source of the familiarity

Unknown 9:04 PM  

I loved SHOESTRING CATCH, but I thought a funny clue could have been “Foot-ball football feat” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ had to share it somewhere!

Unknown 7:46 PM  

Product endorsement — Mirado Black Warrior pencils are excellent for doing crosswords on paper. A box of them and a good sharpener…. Maybe to artist quality erasers to add on…

Unknown 8:53 AM  


spacecraft 10:34 AM  

I'm not sure how I finished this. It certainly involved wild guesses all over the place that turned out right. One that didn't: for bidding considerations (I didn't pay too much attention to the plural there) I had AS iS. With that caveat, I'm naturally not going to bid as much. This yielded INUR_ for the bit of metal texturing. INURE doesn't seem to fit with the clue, but with that start...anyway, when I finally got TOWNHALL--yes, once again the NW brought up the rear--I saw what it had to be, and was done.

So, triumph points: magunga. That's an exponent bigger than humongous, for those not in the know of such things. I like the varying lengths of entries, all the way up to spanning the grid. I still think it should be CUTE MEET instead of the reverse. Surprised that @lms didn't know "ROO-AY." WB OFC; glad to hear that your sensible family averted disaster by simply getting a couple of shots in the arm. Can't for the life of me figure out why everybody doesn't get it. Score this one an eagle.

thefogman 11:05 AM  

Medium for a Friday. I never heard of STARTURN, HAPTICS, PERSES or SETY before. Rex’s story is a reminder that even double-vaccinated people can contract COVID, get sick and spread it around. Too many people are acting as if they are invincible after getting their second shot. When you look up the local stats for COVID infections you will find about one third of newly-reported infections are with people who are either partially or fully vaccinated. Some of these “breakthrough cases” can lead to serious illness and even death. The notion that people can do as they please just like in the “before days” is false and dangerous. The Delta variant doesn’t care about vaccine passports..

Diana, LIW 1:39 PM  

Honestly - didn't anyone else want something like "tactics" (as in tactile) instead of HAPTICS? Messed up that corner, for sure for me.

But I got most of this Friday, so I'm happy.

I'm in one of those "immunocompromised" groups, so I was told "act as if you're not vaccinated" - that's what I do.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, Lady behind the Mask

Burma Shave 2:29 PM  


SHE will MEET her CUTE HERO, honest.
WHAT SHE will SETTLEON goes smooth:


Anonymous 3:00 PM  

This might have been the easiest NYT Friday puzzle I have ever done, and I've been doing them for over 60 years. I have no idea why, outside of the fact, that first guess, after first guess, after first guess were right, time and time again.
The kn of the asks/knurl crossing were my last two letters.

rondo 3:29 PM  

Inkfest alert: I went from SORELOSERS to pOorLOSERS then back to SORELOSERS. That P in poor made my bidding consideration a ‘spec’, so I figured it to be correct. Wrong. And my thinking went from ‘hmm’ to UHH and OHpOOrme to OHBOOHOO. Used up enough ink to finish another puz.

ADELE is back to yeah baby status.

I made a mess of that NW, if anybody ASKS.

Don 4:21 PM  

Take out the word "might."

leftcoaster 6:37 PM  

Seems to be some ODD ways of tightening up an end-of-week puzzle. So let’s WAIT and see. WHAT’s up?

UHH instead of Umm or Hmm?
SARAN wrap, with an exclamation point?
THIRDS for “even more”?


thefogman 2:58 PM  


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