Black hairstyle with square-shaped sections / FRI 9-24-21 / Find satisfaction slangily / Sibilant sobriquet for Summertime singer Sarah / Galaxy array / What genes do biologically / Component of many sandstone features in the Southwest / Nickname in Israeli politics

Friday, September 24, 2021

Constructor: Stella Zawistowski

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: MONOPLANE (58A: Aircraft with low drag) —

monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration with a single main wing plane, in contrast to a biplane or other multiplane, which have multiple wings.

A monoplane has inherently the highest efficiency and lowest drag of any wing configuration and is the simplest to build. However, during the early years of flight, these advantages were offset by its greater weight and lower manoeuvrability, making it relatively rare until the 1930s. Since then, the monoplane has been the most common form for a fixed-wing aircraft. (wikipedia)

• • •

This is fine, though only BOX BRAIDS (17A: Black hairstyle with square-shaped sections) and GET SOME (41D: Find satisfaction, slangily) seem really original and snappy. Something about the boxy build of this grid makes it feel restricted somehow. The 9 stacks ... I'm just not sure how interesting those can be. I'd rather have longer answers lacing through the grid all over the place than these just-OK short stacks in the corners, with little else of interest in the grid. In fact, the bulk of the rest of the grid is 4s and 5s. All four other sections are just 5x5 or 4x5, and they're adequate, but there's no real interest there. "IMAGINE THAT" livens things up a bit, but overall this felt a little listless to me. But it was super duper easy. I had a lot of little missteps, but nothing that held me up for any real length of time. Not terribly happy to start with the awful and corrupt Israeli prime minister nickname, but thankfully, the overall vibe of the puzzle improved considerably from there. Björk > BIBI. BÊTE NOIRE > BIBI. BOX BRAIDS > BIBI (actually, BOX BRAIDS *is* (aurally) BIBI, in that it is a "B. + B." answer ... yes, my brain is indeed a HOTBED of bad puns and other dumb thoughts, you are correct).

Had trouble with BÊTE NOIRE because of the "?" clue (a pretty decent "?" clue, I think) (1A: What's not to like?). Also had trouble with ORDER—something about the clue phrasing made it hard to get my head around (13D: Get to eat). I managed to tell my EPSON from my EPSOM today, so that was nice (10A: Big ink purveyor). Wrote DIVIDE before ENCODE before realizing that was dumb (10D: What genes do, biologically). Wrote SWAY before SELL and felt less bad about that one (23D: Successfully convince). No idea what a MONOPLANE was. Turns out it's just ... a plane. Literally every plane I've ever flown on in my entire life. You wouldn't bother to use the term today because it's not usefully distinctive. Had a weird lot of trouble with both PLAN and SEED, needing the first three letters of each one before I knew what the hell they were. With PLAN, I just wasn't sure of the context the clue was going for (53D: Not just live in the present), whereas with SEED, I think I just had an entirely different idea of "pip" in mind (two ideas, actually: a. a oner, a lulu, a scream, really something, "she's a real pip," that kind of pip; and b. a dot on a domino or die). Happy to learn that Sarah Vaughan was known as SASSY. I thought maybe SUNNY, but SASSY is hands-down the better nickname. I keep looking at LEMONDE and wondering why "lemonade" has been misspelled, which probably means I'm tired (blogging at night like some kind of overcaffeinated beatnik!). See you Saturday (he said, sibilantly).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:00 AM  

Here's another one of those puzzles where the cluing ran me ragged for answers I actually knew.
Not sure whether I love that or hate it. Gonna let it marinate.

But, what a wonderful grid of primo fill! And to me, everything was fairly crossed, so even the things new to me were gettable.
(What do I know from BOXBRAIDS? My hairstyle is gulag chic)

And what genes do behind closed doors is none of my beeswax. Just don't make me watch them ENCODE.

I know Stella Z is an old pro and this puzzle is a sparkling example of what newbie constructors should shoot for, IMHO.

What's the PPP count @Z? Like 5% or the like?


Joaquin 12:18 AM  

More of a wheelhouse Friday for me than usual; enjoyed it a lot. Only issue: I've heard of gyrocopters and gyroplanes. But I've never heard of GIROS (and neither has Uncle "G").

jae 12:18 AM  

Easy. @Kirshef, JC66, Frantic, okanaganer, bocamp...It’s nice to be back on my preferred Xword app. No real problems with this one. I have an Epson printer so that was a gimme. I recently ordered an ink cartridge from them and what was supposed to take 5-7 days took over 2 weeks. I tracked it’s journey to CA via Fedex tracking. It got to LA (I’m in San Diego) pretty quickly and then went cross country to Minnesota before heading back my way.

Solid with just a hint of sparkle, liked it.

okanaganer 12:49 AM  

Agree that it was a very fast solve; over almost before I knew it. I liked MONO----- crossing MULTI---. I liked the AMBULANCE directly over someone getting REAR ENDED. I liked the clues with Bjork and Rotten Tomatoes. I liked NACRE just because, well, it's a cool word.

Hey!... if you add an A inside LE MONDE you get LEMONADE.

LEAP DAY makes me think of the even smaller LEAP SECOND. There have been 27 of them in the last 50 years! And quite unpredictable. Evidently they are a problem, so there is an effort to eliminate them. Reading the Wiki on the details makes my head ache.

Rique Beleza 1:51 AM  

Flipper is a dolphin - scuba divers use fins. So, edit fail.

Who grows weary of the rabid rants regarding personages who are not in line with his political ideals?

chefwen 2:19 AM  

Don’t think I have ever considered a Friday easy, but this one was less difficult than my usual Friday fight.
Aviator boy aka puzzle partner gave me MONO PLANE, I got the PLANE part, he supplied the MONO. Two heads…
I’ve seen BOX BRAIDS, never knew what they were called.
LE MONDE a gimme for this Paris loving person. I need to go back, it’s been years.

Thanks Stella, this was fun.

Loren Muse Smith 3:33 AM  

This was way harder for me than what everyone is reporting. I dispatched the southeast prettily handily - ONCE being my toehold - but after that. . . sheesh. So many missteps and wrong thinking. . .
* “I’ll be darned” has the same number of letters as IMAGINE THAT.
* “Laud” before HAIL
* “Lucre” before NACRE - I. Always. Do. That.
* “Finest” before FINERY
* “Ramp” before RAIL, even though my son owned a grinding RAIL back in the day.
* “Sway” before SELL
* “Drunk” before AFIRE

I thought I had finished, never once questioning my “beta noise” for 1A. I had no idea what that was, but I just thought I had learned a new phrase. Didn’t notice that the river was wrong, and “sedrock” looks just as viable as REDROCK.

Items on a survivalist’s list – NEEDS. Item on Moses’ list: PART C. Ba dum tss.

I always notice how people word their orders to the waiter. . .

Daughter - Can I have the salmon? It’s like she’s asking permission. At least she doesn’t say, May I. . .
Many, many others - I’ll do the salmon. This just sounds terribly kinky.

The advent of emojis has brought on a whole new dimension to texts and emails. Used to be a simple exclamation point could bathe the message in a nicey-nice tone. But now I have to decide if I should add some kind of face, too. It’s a bother, but I tell ya, I’m so grateful when someone’s final emoji lets me know that it’s all cool. That smiley face isn’t there, I’m thinking I’m in trouble. But I always overthink and exaggerate everything.

Stella – thanks for the workout.

T. God almighty I.F.. I need a couple of days to regroup. We’re getting more and more students who’ve been suspended for long periods of time or flat-out expelled, and my classes are filling up. The classroom management learning curve is steep and fraught with minefields.

PS - @Frantic - love your "gulag chic" descriptor.

JD 3:46 AM  

This was a smooth solve. Rolled out in the NW corner with Bibi, Econ, Text, and On Air and just kept going. Icelandic before Icelander but not for too long. Loved it when Bete Noire came into view.

I like that there are so many new constructors but you can feel it when there's one strong hand at work rather than a committee.

Favorite answer was Turtle, but Turtles would've been great. We use "Turtles all the way down" in our family as fast, definitive shorthand for stop dissecting, it's just bad.

Turtles and Le Monde these days. Call the Ambulance, my psyche's been Rear-Ended.

Why did I think Copter Cousins would be Gyros?

Little Drawing for Tug and Dance Around for Hora, so clever. Loved learning that a Grp. Of Pelicans is called a Thenba. Cough, side eye.

@Frantic, I didn't think about the low PPP. Bingo.

@jae, Your ink went from LA to Minnesota and then to San Diego! Hilarious.

Anonymous 4:58 AM  

@Rex pointed out the weakness of the MONOPLANE clue. Another bad one was "List for a survivalist". NEEDS? That could be anyone's list. It's not wrong but totally boring.

Lewis 6:51 AM  

Well, Stella can fill a grid, no? Not a speck of junk in the answers. Look at how clean this grid is! Truly, look it over. Like a beautiful jewel or flower, it calms my heart to look at it.

This solve hit that happy button, that place between stressful difficulty and unfulfilling easy-ness. It was thorny enough to engage my solving chops, that is, to make my brain feel alive, but never so grueling as to stop my forward progress.

Oh, I liked BÊTE NOIRE, FINERY, and SPLAT, and the care put into the cluing, but my absolute favorite moment was, after the solve, seeing in the mid-east where TURTLE, clued [Bearer of the earth in Iroquois creation stories], is actually bearing, right above it, LE MONDE.

So, much loveliness. Thank you so much, Stella, for making this!

Snoble 6:56 AM  

Isn’t there are problem with the clue for 12D? SCUBA=Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. The clue is in the answer.

bocamp 7:11 AM  

Thx Stella for a perfect Fri. creation! :)


Moved smoothly thru this one, from top to bottom, with only a modicum of pushback in the lower 1/3.

Felt I was on Stella's wavelength pretty much all the way.

Liked it a lot! :)

yd pg -7

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

albatross shell 7:21 AM  

GIRO is not even an alternative spelling as far as I can find. An MOS? Misspelling of convenience? Any luck justifying the I out there?

Got off to a great start with BIBI ECON giving me ICELANDER INTERIOR. And in the South REARENDED AMBULANCE SEMIPROS with no crosses. After that it was a slow fight and claw Friday.

BETANOIRE always sounds so friendly. I have to do a double-take on its meaning.
Solid with enough sparkle. I enjoyed its use of MULTIPLE CRUDE.

Somehow a bit of SASS w/o being SASSY permeates the puzzle.

amyyanni 7:26 AM  

Quite definitely a solid Friday. Easier than some, but the NE corner was toughest for me. CRUDE and HOTBED, while in my wheelhouse, were hiding somewhere doing who knows what? It's Friday, so will forgive.
Great warm up for Saturday. We're having a cool down, with lows in the low 50s last night. Maybe pumpkin shopping is in order this weekend...

Son Volt 7:27 AM  

Stella got her groove on today. I liked this - agree it was a little quick for a Friday but no bother. The big NW and SE corners have to be tough to fill - thought they were both clean and interesting. THE NBA and SPLAT were clunky. GIRO or GyRO copter?

Enjoyable Friday solve.

kitshef 7:28 AM  

A solid, professional piece of work. I don't buy GIROS, though.

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Puzzle was satisfactory Friday. I'm still wondering about "Get to eat"/ORDER. So you ORDER a meal. You don't get to eat until you get your food. Do you get to eat when you get your ORDER? Just not quite getting this. Maybe there's nothing more.

Trockmn 7:33 AM  

I don’t understand the clue for TUG.

Lobster11 7:43 AM  

I have no major complaints about the clues or answers, but the grid shape took most of the fun out of this one for me: It felt too much like six mini-puzzles, with four of them limited to (mostly dull) 4's and 5's.

Peter P 8:07 AM  

GIRO folks - I assume the word is the shortened form of autogiro (or "autogyro.") Both spellings are acceptable. Both Merriam-Webster online and American Heritage Dictionary ( have "autogiro" as the primary form, and "autogyro" as the variant. Wikipedia goes with "autogyro." At any rate, that's where GIRO comes from (and it works in parallel with the "copter" in the clue better than "gyrocopter" or "gyroplane" as it's the head of the word that is omitted in the contracted form.)

mmorgan 8:16 AM  

Some easy, some hard, all fun. A crunchy smooth Friday. Like LMS, I had Lucre before NACRE. I grew up with that 1956 Sassy Sarah Vaughn album. Oops, I’m DATING myself here.

Trey 8:18 AM  

Except that SCUBA has essentially become a word unto itself, like LASER

Joe R. 8:20 AM  

I was on a record pace through most of the puzzle, then ground to a halt when I hit the SE corner. I blame the incorrect clue at 38D. I was sure it couldn’t be MULTIPLE, because a few is also multiple. Multiple means more than one. So I though there had to be some other MULTI- that I wasn’t thinking of. GET- and TH- were even more unhelpful, and I couldn’t come up with any of the other answers without any crosses. Once I decided to try MULTIPLE anyway, I then immediately saw REARENDED, and things fell quickly from there.

albatross shell 8:20 AM  

FINESt first here too. After all "best" was in clue.

SeDROCK as in sedimentary rock? I had bEDROCK which didn't seem right.
BETA NOIsE does seem like it should mean something. The hype in releasing a beta? Or the squeaks and crashes when one uses one? I wanted to misspell the river too, ELBa but I already had INTERIOR in.

Trey 8:21 AM  

You get it to eat it. As you might say “I’ll get the salmon” (as a variation of the @LMS post from earlier)

Trey 8:22 AM  

I assumed it was to draw something towards you - TUG on it

Twangster 8:24 AM  

I didn't find this easy by any stretch but did manage to solve it. Went from MUTATE to DIVIDE to RECODE to ENCODE.

Nancy 8:25 AM  

No papers delivered to the building so far. Scrolled down the blog with my eyes closed to tell you that. Hopefully will get and do puzzle -- and be able to post -- before the end of the day. Don't miss Joe D's hilarious link from yesterday, btw -- I couldn't stop laughing.

Trey 8:25 AM  

Liked the puzzle. Mostly solid clues and answers. I have SCUBA’d for years and have never used or heard the word “harness” to describe my equipment. Agree with above - “fins” not FLIPPERS.

FINEst threw me for a loop, and was my only real source of trouble with the puzzle, other than it took me awhile to see PART C as an answer

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

Re: Not terribly happy to start with the awful and corrupt Israeli prime minister nickname.

Please cool it with the political rants and stick to puzzle analysis.

Anonymoose 8:34 AM  


Keith D 8:44 AM  

@Rique 1:51 am - while I totally agree with your sentiment, I’m fine with it in this case. Bibi, like Trump, is objectively a corrupt scumbag. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliations or leanings are.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

1D: [Swedish actress Andersson]. So much better. Otherwise, a fun, well-executed Friday puzzle!

pabloinnh 9:08 AM  

Liked this one a lot but I agree with @Lobster 11 that it felt segmented, four puzzles and a middle. Lots of great fill though so I'm not complaining.

I had HIM "Possible" which led to REDARCH which made ARMOREDCAR impossible for the longest time, which meant the NE corner was a mess, especially since I wanted EPSOM, leading to the survivalists having a list of MEALS. Oops. NEEDS finally showed up, but I think of them as something to do with defendants and attorneys.

GIROS looks OK to me because the "famous Spanish inventors" list always includes Juan de la Cierva, inventor of the autogiro. Spelling "giro" with a "y" is a Spanish no no and another indication of superior Spanish orthography.

Today I learned BOXBRAIDS, which I have yet to see here in the wilds of NH. Fun expression.

Many thanks for a Smooth Zesty Friday, SZ. You can be on my Friday All Star Team any time.

Rube 9:10 AM  

My one objection to what was otherwise a forgettable but harmless Friday was 44D. The NBA is NOT a group of Pelicans. It is a group that contains some pelicans but has other things too. This clue has to be Grp. With some...or Grp. Including or something like that. For group to be correct, the NBA minus Pelicans has to be the null set. A group of geese doesn't have any ducks in it.

Malsdemare 9:18 AM  

I've gotta leave for an appointment, but @Lewis . . . The TURTLE bearing LE MONDE?? Absolutely put a smile in my day.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

@Keith D 8:44
What did Trump do to you? Seriously. The Country ran great with him. Now we have insane gas prices, pols who do nothing about our country being overrun by China and Mexico. Follow your own advice, and don't give in to your political affiliations.

Zwhatever 9:24 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - 23%, which is about as low as a NYTX ever gets. For example, TURTLE. Why go creation myth and make it PPP? (Well, okay, @Lewis gives a pretty good reason for that clue)

@Joaquin & @Others - What @Peter P says. Alternatively, GIRO is a brand of helmets and “copter helmets” are a thing - But I think @Peter P is correct. Personally, I didn’t even think about it much because the “y” in GyROscope and such seems far harder to justify as a spelling choice than GIROscope would be, so I just assumed it was French or Spanish or something. (👋🏽 @pabloinnh)

@LMS - ✋🏽 for FINEst

@Anon4:48 - not wrong but totally boring - I think you just wrote the definitive definition of “green paint.”

Zawistowski’s puzzles tend to be challenging for me because the frame of reference is new and fresh and outside my white male baby boomer ken. I like that. BOX BRAIDS is not an especially tough answer, but it is just something I never knew the name for. 👍🏽👍🏽 When was the last time you thought of the Department of the INTERIOR or its emblem (be honest, was this the first time you thought of either?)? Then there is the “why did that fool me” clue for ORDER (@anon7:29 - What should we get to eat? Maybe we should just ORDER pizza.). I don’t think this is Zawistowski‘s best (Google Tough as Nails puzzles and do your own comparison), but this is a professionally done Friday with enough sparkle to make me smile.

@pabloinnh last night - “Never wrestle with a pig” is good advice.

TTrimble 9:24 AM  

Setting aside the spelling GIROS and the botch in cluing SCUBA that @Snoble mentioned, this is a nice clean puzzle, with only four three-letter words. Solved in slightly better than average time.

I had no idea that TURTLEs all the way down enjoyed such wide currency -- as a metaphor for infinite regress, I thought it was more specialized, belonging mainly to discussions of scientific epistemology. There are lots of variations on the theme. I remember when I was a kid, there was a song that built up to something like

There's a flea on a fly on the head of a frog on a bump in a log in a hole of the bottom of the sea

There's a hole, there's a hole, there's a hole in the bottom of the sea

Hey, speaking of DATING: I've just learned this morning of a major archaeological event. In New Mexico, they've recently discovered fossilized footprints of children that date back somewhere between 21000 and 23000 years ago, much earlier than humans were thought to have arrived in the Americas, once estimated to have been between 11000 and 13000 years ago. In the words of one researcher, "DATING is a nightmare". But in this case, the evidence seems to be very strong, and apparently this find is considered a real game-changer.

yd -2 (still working)
td 0

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Pretty easy. Could have been a somewhat difficult Wednesday. I had no problem with Bibi, either in the crossword or in Israel. One of my betes noires is the politicization of, well, everything. Including crossword puzzles.

This one? A mix of gimmes (ECON, ICELANDER/IC,TEXT, NACRE, PART C, LEAP DAY, LE MONDE, RAND.....), a couple of cute ones (BETE NOIRE, ORDER, PIP [thought it was going to be EDGE as in pip-at-the-post]), and a couple of new-to-mes (THENBA?)

I'd give the constructor credit for a high average answer length. There were only 4 3-letter answers. 26 answers were 6 letters or more, with 2 11s and 6 9s. In case anyone cares, the average answer-length was 5.54 letters. This metric doesn't seem to be tracked routinely, or commented-upon, but my guess is that 5.54 is a pretty high puzzle rating, like a 300+ batting average.

RooMonster 9:38 AM  

Hey All !
All the mistakes y'all made, plus HOTBox first. BETENOIRE I have seen before, never knew what it meant. So a tough get. THENBA. Wha? Just right this second got it. D'oh! Just noticed grp., wondering Why the abbr.? Har, THE NBA. I thought that was an odd name for a Pod of Pelicans. Good stuff.

One-letter DNF today. Had OlDER/NAClE. Dang. Was going to ask how OLDER was Get to eat, figuring maybe you allow OLDER folks to get their food first. IMAGINE THAT.😁

There's that crazy TURTLE with the Earth on its shell. That's a belief like the Earth is flat. 😋 And gravity is a myth perpetrated by the "Round Earthers", because how can you stand on the Earth if your continent is facing down? And how does water stay on Earth if it's round? (Har, starting to convince myself the Earth might be flat!)

FINEst until the end. AFIRE took a bit too. That question mark on the clue threw me to thinking tipsy, not blazing. Tipsy, leading to feeling good, leading to drinking more, leading to BLACKSOUT.

Why do we hear of PART B MediCare more than any other PARTs?

Start of College, THEN BA. Har.

Two F's

bocamp 9:40 AM  

I'll 'have' (a, an, the, some) …

Sis goes by SASSY.

@jae (12:18 AM)

Happy to hear all is good with you! :)

@Loren Muse Smith (3:33 AM)


@TTrimble (9:24 AM) 👍 for 0

td pg -1 (timed out)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

ulysses 9:43 AM  

Whole puzzle minus the NE corner - Tuesday easy. NW corner - Impossible. I ended with a DNF with a whole lot of empty squares. Even after fixing “divide” to “ENCODE” I was still stuck. NACRE is not in my vocabulary and HOTBED and CRUDE didn’t come to me. Anyway, smooth sailing other than the terrifying NE.

The Cleaver 9:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mathgent 9:54 AM  

I got stuck in NE. I looked up Medicare Advantage and saw PARTC. That proved that DIVIDE was wrong at 10D. NEEDS seemed too easy at 14D.

I have Seniority Plus through Kaiser, which I presume is a Medicare Advantage program. I knew that it is connected to Medicare but didn't know what part.

Rex complains about too many fours and fives instead of celebrating that there are only four threes, the lowest in quite a while.

Excellent puzzle. Smart and clean.

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Well, what'd you know?
td 0
WooHoo! Second this month! I'm AFIRE. Har.

RooMonster Must've Been An Easy Bee Guy

Richard in NM 10:09 AM  

Fastest Friday in a long time. Only writeover was golD/RAND.

REDROCK a gimme; I see it all around me here in NM.

Picking up on LMS's comments re ORDERing in a restaurant: I'm always a little irked (yeah, I know; too strong a reaction, but...) when a dinner companion says, "I'll try the salmon." That contains, it seems to me, the implied threat, "and if I don't like it, I'll throw it in your face." Similarly, "I'll take the salmon" suggests that "I'm not happy with my choice, but I'll settle for the salmon...I guess." Much better: "I'll have the salmon, please," or "I'd like the salmon." I guarantee, that'll put you in a much better frame of mind for your meal. (I might just be nutso).

Nancy 10:10 AM  

(Paper arrived -- not all that late, happily)


Really liked the clues for MAFIA; TURTLE; PLAN. Didn't especially like the clues for BETE NOIRE; NEEDS and DATING. How many people actually say "I'm dating myself here"? I happen to say it a lot, but I'm not sure there's such a big MULTIPLE of me.

The clue for IDIOMS (7D) was such a coincidence for me. Yesterday at the Central Park tennis courts, a male friend was telling me how he was helping to improve his Chinese girlfriend's English with different lessons each day of the week. I think Monday ("Newspaper Monday) was "Read the newspaper aloud" or something like that, and it went on with a different task each day -- each designed to strengthen her language skills with something a little different. It was "IDIOMS Friday" that he was most proud of. He proceeded to tell me the IDIOMS he'd so far taught her and which were her particular favorites. She was quite fond of "Hump Day", though he had to explain why she'd better not say "Humping Day" by mistake.

Needless to say, IDIOMS -- especially as clued --was my favorite answer today.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

Stella....!!!!!! You've got my Street Car Named Desire.....This gets my Cool Frijoles award for a Friday fun-fest.
You start me out with that black beast BETE NOIRE and end your bugbear with a REAR ENDER and what do you get? A HOTBED with a TURTLE in some SASSY BOX BRAIDS. Speaking of BOX BRAIDS. The lady who does my toenails has them. She told me it takes about 40 days to braid them correctly. Well, maybe not 40 but they take forever. She is the most gorgeous creature on this earth and she even lets me touch them so that I can ooh and ahh.
I had one little do-over....Before I remembered BETE NOIRE, I got to 4D and looked at Bohemia. I thought...well, who has a river running through some socially unconventional, artistic person and wants to name them something interesting??? ....So without a second step, I thought of the ferryman of Hades who carries the souls of the newly deceased, and wrote in STYX. I like my answer better.
My SPLAT runneth over.

What? 10:50 AM  

A first. A USA themeless in the Times.
No, I didn’t take brain pills but I did have a nice spaghetti dinner with birthday cake at my kids last night. Related? Who’s to say not? There’s more than one way for neurons to reconnect.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Bison! It's bison I tell you. For the millionth time! Can't believe none of you pedantic...insert some alliterative word here...folks could let that pass without a comment.

Carola 11:09 AM  

A Friday pleasure cruise, if you don't count not being able to depart from the 1A dock; I hopped on in the NE corner, and (forgive me) it was smooth sailing after that. Lots of fun, too. I enjoyed learning BOX BRAIDS, noticing the box with ICE BOX, figuring out the clues for HOTBED, TUB, MINOR, ORDER, and finally getting BETE NOIRE. My eyes widened a bit at GET SOME, so its cross with IMAGINE THAT was apt. Me, too, for a RAmp-to-RAIL do-over.

@Lewis 6:51 - Thank you for pointing out LE MONDE atop the TURTLE!

For those who might not know, Stella Zawistowski posts puzzles on her Tough as Nails website. They're mostly Friday/Saturday tough for me.

Hack mechanic 11:09 AM  

Me too with "recede" thrown in for good measure

Shawn 11:22 AM  

I would have missed the TURTLE/LEMONDE pairing without this comment! That just brought this entire puzzle up an extra tier. What a great Friday

TTrimble 11:26 AM  

@Gill I.
Yeah, why is it that BETE NOIRE is so often translated as "bugbear"? That's how I always seemed to see it translated when I was young.

"Ohhh... bugbear. I get it now."

IDK -- I'd have to think "bugbear" is a tad on the archaic side, and it's a pretty weird-looking word to boot. I think "bane of one's existence" gets the point across more effectively.

Eldreth 11:26 AM  

I thought it was gyro - with a “y” not an “i”. On line evidence seems to support that. Didn’t see any giro, autogiro, or girocopters - only gyro, autogyro, and gyrocopter.

Joseph Michael 11:44 AM  

Easy? Not for me.

Struggled through much of it, particularly in the NE where at different times I wanted a PEARL in my shell, genes that DIVIDE, and a survivalist list of TOOLS. Meanwhile the clue “Get to eat” was MAKING me feel like I was reading another language. However, I enjoyed all of this and thought it was a great puzzle by a PRO. Managed to solve it in the end with no help from Dr. G.

Loved KIM Possible as a character name and the Iroquois clue for TURTLE. Glad that “Well lit?” was not a drunk joke (no Rex rant required).

Currently watching a Netflix documentary called “Making a Murderer” which is not NARRATED but extremely gripping.

Funniest comment: @Nancy’s friend teaching his Chinese girlfriend that the IDIOM is not “Humping Day.”

Masked and Anonymous 11:46 AM  

NW section solvequest got a little hairy [BOXBRAIDS] and maybe even slightly hard [REDROCK]. After that, only stiff resistance was from the clues. Fun themeless FriPuz at our house, overall.

fave globule of fillins: IMAGINETHAT/DATING [clue]/GETSOME.

staff weeject pick [of only 4 candidates]: TUG. Cute clue & cUte U.

TURTLE clue made answer hard to unearth. KIM clue was indeed kimpossible for m&e to get much of a toehold from. Skateboardin competition [HELMET, RAIL] weren't tough sleddin, tho.
Better PARTC clue: {Skill in the PC field??}. Double-?-marker clues, Shortzmeister; double the fun. Just sayin.

Thanx for the themeless fun, Ms. Z darlin. Y'all sure brought yer A-fire power.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


jberg 11:59 AM  

Here was a case where being familiar with the constructor's work was a mixed blessing -- I had the E in 3D and filled in _EXT while waiting for the cross to make sure it didn't start with s.

Online meeting in 1 minute, I'll try to get back later.

bocamp 12:00 PM  

@RooMonster (9:57 AM yd) 👍 for 0

@Carola (11:09 AM)

Echoing your shoutout to Stella's website. Have been doing one of her archived puzzles per day.

The AutoGIRO

"The autoGIRO was for many years the most reasonable alternative to the helicopter as a means of vertical flight. Because the rotor is not powered, the autoGIRO does not have to contend with torque (the tendency of the aircraft to turn in the opposite direction of the rotor) and thus avoided many of the control problems that impeded the development of the helicopter." (Britannica)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

GILL I. 12:20 PM  

@TTrimble 11:26.....My middle sister (who was the queen of mishearing words - as was I) use to say. "Good night and don't let the bugbears bite." I adopted the phrase and would say that to my kids. They'd have nightmares! - or so they'd tell me. :-)

jberg 12:23 PM  

Oops. My meeting is in one hour, not one minute. I spent about 5 minutes staring at the Zoom landing screen before I realized why it wasn't starting.

Anyway, the puzzle. Just right for a Friday, I thought. I don't really care what SCUBA stands for, I was just glad when I finally puzzled it out. And grateful that I avoided the temptation to put in 'my, fancy THAT" without a few more crosses. I don't even care that EPSON says it's selling toner, which is supposed to be different from ink, though I've no idea how.

But is a LEAP DAY really a bonus? It depends on the context, I think. If you're waiting to be old enough to order a beer, it just slows you down.

And I learned a lot about MONOPLANEs! First, that the term is not limited to aircraft that are suspended from a single wing, which I would have guessed, but also applies to a pair of wings in the same plane. And second, that they are more efficient. Aren't puzzles great?

In search of symmetry, I'm trying to connect ELOPED with LEAP DAY. In some cultures a wedding includes the couple's LEAPing over a broom; or you could ELOPE by leaping out your window. But both are a little more stretched than that TURTLE carrying LE MONDE.

ICELANDic before ER, and more stupidly, MAcho before MAFIA.

In addition to her website, this constructor also tweets a "cryptic clue a day." She explains the week's output on Friday. It's fun if you like cryptics, and educational if you are trying to learn how to interpret the clues.

mathgent 12:27 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Joaquin (12:18)
Lewis (6:51)

TJS 12:40 PM  


This was a pleasant solve, with a little bit of crunch to it. Maybe not Friday difficult, but enough to have to think about things. Didnt know the name Claude Akins was waiting in my brain all these years but it jumped out as soon as I read the clue. Probably taking up the space where my kids birthdays are supposed to be.

Have a great Fall weekend, y'all.

JC66 12:51 PM  

I've been a SCUBA diver for over 50 years. I probably learned Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus as part of the certifying porocess when I first started, but have only used/heard SCUBA ever since so Apparatus in the clue didn't bother me at all. However, agree that it's fins, not flippers and harness is a stretch. Obviously, neither Stella nor the editor is a diver.

Teedmn 1:02 PM  

Like @albatross shell, I went with a bEDROCK component of Southwest features. Try parsing 1A with BETENOIbE in place. BE TEN NO I BE? BETEN NOI BE? Something of the NOI finally let me see the BETE NOIRE. Ah REDROCK. Sandstone probably wouldn't be considered bEDROCK, in any case.

47D MAcho = "swagger", doesn't it? Along with the FINEst Sunday best, that SW section was definitely crumbling like sandstone but IMAMS made 59A Mh__s, and 61A So__t Sarah Vaughan. Okay, back to square one.

I loved rethinking 42A's clue from a TURTLE carrying earth on its back around to becoming Atlas and carrying the Earth around. Har!

Nice one, Stella, always a pleasure to get one of your themeless puzzles.

NetroGnome 1:36 PM  

A little surprised no one got triggered by that clue for "BOX BRAIDS" -- "BLACK hair style? Doesn't that make "WHITE hair style" the implicit micro-aggressive default?

Ye'r losin' yer chops, virtue signalers!!

bigsteve46 1:39 PM  

I'm not grasping "splat" as "green symbol on rotten tomatoes" - what am I missing? I know ts got to be obvious but it's just escaping me. One of you smarter folks, please advise!

Geneva Girl 1:50 PM  

Daughter - Can I have the salmon? It’s like she’s asking permission. At least she doesn’t say, May I. . .

7th grade English - difference between can and may - you can (you’re able to), but you may not ( no permission given)

Peter P 1:54 PM  

@Eldreth (11:26) -- If you want evidence for "giro", go to or or and type in "autogyro." All three will send you to the definition under "autogiro." There's plenty of authoritative sources that use that spelling. As I said above, Wikipedia goes for "autogyro," instead, but Merriam-Webster, American Heritage, and Britannica all prefer "autogiro."

Gio 2:05 PM  

@netrognome Gotta love people who get triggered because people weren't triggered.

okanaganer 3:08 PM  

@bigsteve46: Rotten Tomatoes. The green splat is there.

Zwhatever 3:30 PM  

@Geneva Girl - Our 7th grade English teachers lied to us.

@M&A - Are you thinking, as I am, that Ms. Z is a magnificent beast?*

@bigsteve46 - Now I’m wondering if I counted SPLAT when I did the PPP tally because needing to know that Rotten Tomatoes is a movie review site makes SPLAT a pop culture reference. I think I did, but if I didn’t the PPP is still only 24%.

@Gio - The funniest thing is they think it is some sort of “gotcha” while exposing their own prejudices. “Telling on yourself” is a concept seemingly beyond their understanding and so they just keep doing it over and over. and over. and over. and… well, you get the idea.

*If you haven’t been reading the comments for a long time, rest assured that it’s a compliment.

bigsteve46 4:08 PM  

Well, thanks for the replies re. "splat." Pretty shitty cluing, for my two cents worth - but that's probably a little bit of sour grapes (which together with a splatted tomato makes a yummy-sounding dish!)

Barbara S. 4:25 PM  

I found this puzzle hard enough, although at first I thought it was going to be a walk in the park. I got both ICELANDER and INTERIOR right away (although how I know anything about departmental logos south of the border beats me – I must have seen it on vehicles in movies, except now that I’ve written that out it seems pretty far-fetched. Hmm.) The two I’s in 1D gave me BIBI, a nickname that seems so wildly inappropriate that I always remember it. ECON and TEXT immediately followed and I was launched. But like several others, I nearly came a cropper in the NE, and insisting on the little-seen ARMORED vAnS didn’t help. All those NE downs were species of WOEs, each in its own devilish way. And HOTBED – good grief. I guess those genes are really ENCODing in that HOT BED. Heh, heh.

I loved SPLAT and reading across that line makes me want to know what a SPLAT SCALE is (or maybe that’s Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer®). “Quadrennial bonus” made me wonder what kind of employer gives its workers a monetary reward every four years. I found the clue “Well, there’s a surprise!” deliciously ambiguous. Is the speaker being serious or sarcastic? The answer, IMAGINE THAT cleverly retains that ambiguity. The “pulling down”/MAKING pair was another delight, this time a seeming paradox until you get the right context. And, man, I mentally flip-flopped between “noel” and YULE half a dozen times before FILET finally gave it to me.

Re: TURTLE. I love this blog! I’d never heard the expression “It’s TURTLEs all the way down” till today, and I don’t know how I’ve lived without it!

@GIRO folks – No idea whether this is relevant but it’s an amusing article (in a morbidly terrifying way).

@Anonymous (11:02) – I’m sure you’re right, but we all immediately thought of anoas.


There was not much traffic on the county road the other day when I was walking, feeling good, with sunshine pouring down, and I started to swing those hips a little and move those shoulders. My walking got into a dance-y, SASSY rhythm to…I don’t know – the music of the spheres? It’s important to note that my greying hair was covered up by my camo ballcap. Anyway, a guy came along in a pickup – he must have been 20 years my junior – and he tooted his horn, winked and waved. It wasn’t a LEER, he seemed too much on the up and up for that. Anyway, my first thought was that guy really needs to GET SOME. Or he needs new glasses. And then I thought, hey, maybe all those years of strength training are paying off in unexpected ways. Anyway, at the age of 30 I’d have been really peeved by the whole incident, but a couple of days ago I thought it was mighty fine.

td 0

egsforbreakfast 4:25 PM  

I actually thought this was hard, but fair. As the French say, when life gives you lemons, make LEMONDE.

GILL I. 4:36 PM  

@Barbara S 4:25. HEY...You go, they say in crossword land.... ATTA Girl.
I wore make-up for the first time about a month ago. This man - about 80 years old - winked at me. I thought "Oh dear Lord, do I look that old?"

JC66 5:19 PM  


I'll be 82 in a couple of weeks. Hope that doesn't that mean I don't have a shot? 😂

GILL I. 5:21 PM  

@JC....You can tweak all of my buttons any time..... :-)

TTrimble 5:29 PM  

@Barbara S.
Didn't seem like humble-brag to me. It's a nice story!

albatross shell 5:35 PM  

Okay Autogiro means I can give GIRO a pass, but it's still a pretty long stretch. Autogiro is actually a trademark name. It looks like autogyros built by other companies use the y spelling. So @Z maybe 25% now, depending on the rounding error. The only definition of giro has to do with a transfer of money. At least when you search coptor it takes you to helicoptor.

ORDER MAKING TUG NEEDS SEED all clued with a bit of SASS. All correct too.
Waitress: What will it be?
Customer: Hmmm. I'll get the blue plate special today. Maybe get the bisonburger tomorrow.

Survivalist's lists would be the necessary things to survive. Thus needs instead of desires or wants.

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

Wow surprised by the love for this puzzle. I hated it. Hard to fill, and joyless when it came. Didn’t have any errors, just lots of blanks and even had to look up a couple things. Solve time was actually exactly at my average, but my average includes many years of solves during which I’ve gotten a lot better- so typically these days my solve time is way less than my recorded average. So today’s time being average means it’s way worse than usual. Sorry for the technicalities! But yeah, I hated that. Not a single thing to cite because it wasn’t one clue or one area.

bocamp 5:43 PM  

@Barbara S. (4:25 PM) 👍 for 0

And, thx for the link. GIRO is definitely a thing; perhaps more so across the pond. 🤔

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

bocamp 6:33 PM  


"autogiro, also spelled autogyro, rotary-wing aircraft, superseded after World War II by the more efficient helicopter. It employed a propeller for forward motion and a freely rotating, unmotorized rotor for lift. In searching for an aircraft that could be slowed down in flight and landed vertically, experimenters built many prototypes that were difficult to control in flight." (Britannica)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

albatross shell 7:05 PM  

@bo camp
Notice that Giro Boat in Barbara's story is spelled with capital letters indicating it is a product name, not necessarily a regular word. Take it as you will.

Eniale 7:10 PM  

@Nancy 10:10 As a long-time paper subscriber, you can ask to get the emailed NYT digest every day, and then you can print out p.7 with the puzzle. I had to do that one day last week. Daily digest nice when one's out of town.

Anonymous 7:10 PM  


Here's a trigger: Sleepy Joe won Arizona by 300 more votes, thanks to Cyber Ninjas.

Anoa Bob 7:15 PM  

I tried REENACTED for 5D "Like many a documentary film" because they often are these days and it doesn't always work. I will sometimes stop watching a documentary when the attempts at reenactment fall flat. Shouldn't the clue say "Like almost all documentary films"? I've seen a bunch of them can only think of one that was not narrated.

Got my SCUBA (12D) diving license in the mid 80's and used it many times. Rather than being mistakes, I thought the "harness" and "flippers" parts of the clue were aiming at misdirection or maybe just obfuscation for difficulty's sake.

Given the seemingly more relaxed code for what is allowable in a NYTXW here of late, an edgier clue for 23A SPLAT could have been something like "Sound heard in a porno film". No? Yeah, maybe to edgy.

Stephen Minehart 7:58 PM  

I post late in the day, like the the forrest tree that falls without anyone to hear...but IMAGINE THAT, BOX BRAIDS, MONOPLANE, ARMORED CARS, REAR ENDED, that's just Friday gold. Here is my REARENDED story. I moved to Massachusetts, and about a year later my Toyota Corolla was rear-ended and totaled when I stopped to pay a toll on the Mass Pike. I replaced it with the larger Toyota Camry, which was front-ended two years later when a woman lost control of her car in the snow, crossed the mid-line and hit me head on. Now I have the even larger Toyota Highlander. My friends say if it gets hit, my only option will be the Toyota Sequoia, which gets 13 miles to the gallon and is difficult to spell. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

@LMS, I think the emojis are the next step in the evolution of language. Words will start to have distinct meanings dependent on the emojis they are associated with. They are the punctuation marks of the future. I, of course, won't be a part of it, since I still double space after periods, much to the chagrin of my daughters.

Barbara S. 9:08 PM  

@Stephen Minehart
A more effective solution might be to move away from Massachusetts.

JC66 9:09 PM  


Your reaction to flipper and harness is really kind. If only you could be
as forgiving with POCs. ;-)

bocamp 9:25 PM  

@albatross shell (7:05 PM)

My GIRO links were not intended to be related to any particular post. They're simply in support of the clue and answer as being a legitimate var. of gyro, and is, or may have been, more in use overseas. :)

I came across that article prior to reading Barbara's post, and chose not to link to it for the reason you stated. I also saw the numerous references to 'General Interbank Recurring Order' which obvi don't support the usage in this puz.

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anoa Bob 10:20 PM  

JC66 @9:09 PM, my medical team has advised me to not get too exercised about POCs because I am at risk for apoplexy so I thought I showed exemplary restraint by not unleashing a diatribe about today's POC fest. We don't even get out of the top section without several, including a two for one POC where a Down and an Across share a letter count boosting S at their ends, to wit neither NEED nor ARMORED CAR were up to the task of filling their slots without some help. Ditto with APP and LAD. My neck and forehead veins are beginning to bulge, I'm hyperventilating and getting a bit light headed so I better close and do some mindfulness deep breathing but before I go let me add that SASSY (61A) is a classy POC enabler.

albatross shell 10:33 PM  

@bo camp
I think the "nickname" gira is at best barely justifiable. Autogiro certanly is. I just did not want the Gira Boat to be taken as a further justification. No problem with your quote or Barbara's unsafe in any medium story.

JC66 10:53 PM  



albatross shell 11:04 PM  

Trump admin was exceedingly corrupt with many incompetent people. Proud of its cruelty. Happy to accept support from racists. Happy to appeal to racists. Daughter got special treatment financially from China. Son in law asked for private financial support from China and Saudis while negotiating with them. Got the Saudi money. Trump gave China free reign in Pacific trade by abandoning Pacific trade treaty. Made nice with dictators while angering democratic allies. Screwed the Kurds. Helped the Russians. He had little interest in governance. When he lost election his only interest was overthrowing the election. Completely abandoned any concern with covid or a smooth transition or anything else. Just don't let the election be certified. And cause problems for his successor. He is the worst ex-president ever. Almost as bad as when he was president.
But he got you a conservative supreme court, the rich tax cuts, and he trolled Democrats a lot. So you love him. I guess he made you proud. If only you were as good.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

@albatross shell
But, what did he do to you? That was the General Consensus of what you believe was his privilege. If you could look how the country was without biased eyes you would see it was better than now.

Unknown 1:20 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Capn Charlie 5:40 PM  

NAR RATED ??? What a straight up terrible bit of fill.

Capn Charlie 5:43 PM  

i am an idiot

Taxed Too Much in NJ 9:22 AM  

Lovely discovery!! Thanks so much!

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