Fatty tuna in Japanese cuisine / FRI 11-26-21 / Yaga folklore villain / Bucky in comic strip Get Fuzzy / TV character who said I am so smart I am so smart S-M-R-T / Old worker with pads

Friday, November 26, 2021

Constructor: Kate Hawkins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TORO (36D: Fatty tuna in Japanese cuisine) —
In Japan, a blue fin tuna is graded by the quality of the cuts of meat which can be obtained from it, particularly the prized 
toro, the fatty belly of the tuna. Tuna for sushi is carefully handled, to ensure that the flesh is not bruised or damaged. When the tuna arrives at the fish market, core samples of the flesh are taken with a special tool so that the color, texture, and flavor of the meat can be assessed before the tuna is priced. While sushi uses many different types of tuna including yellow fin and big eye, true toro is only taken from blue fin tuna. // Toro comes from the underbelly of the tuna, and is itself divided into grades which are distinguished based on the marbling of the meat, much like in grading beef. The most valuable toro, otoro, is from the underside of the fish close to the head. Chutoro, a lesser grade, comes from the belly in the middle and back of the fish, and is less marbled than otoro. (delightedcooking.com)
• • •

A walk in the park, which is exactly what I needed. Puzzle felt like it was made just for me—my real last name is even a clue!—and since it's my birthday, I will take it, thank you. The construction on this one is very elegant, with long-answer latticework comprising the bulk of the grid. There are a smattering of 6s and 5s, but mostly the answers in this puzzle are long, gorgeous things, 9 letters or longer, or else they are largely (appropriately) nondescript 3s and 4s holding the gorgeous answers in place. FRESH MEAT hooks into the NW corner, STRIKE PAY hooks into the SE corner, and then "DON'T BE A STRANGER" (the real showstopper) drives down through both those answers, connecting the 10-stack at the top to the 10-stack at the bottom. It's striking just how much of this grid is made out of long answers, since the puzzle does not feel like it's drowning in white space. It's an easy-flowing, open grid. Lots of ways to come at answers. Not surprisingly, the hardest part of the puzzle for me was the part that was hardest to get at, most isolated, least accessible—that is, the far corner of the SW. One little mistake in there and you got trouble. My little mistake: SPEEDING UP instead of ROUNDING UP (61A: Going from 99 to 100). I was understandably pretty confident about my (wrong) answer, since it both fit the clue and worked perfectly in the crosses ... at first. But I was pretty sure there was no such thing as the EHL (62D: Senators' org. = NHL), so I knew SPEEDING was probably wrong, but ROUNDING was not something I got til very late. I normally "round" decimals if I "round" anything. Still, it's a good trick clue. I also went with ROTE before AUTO down there (56D: What you might unthinkingly be on), though in the cold light of day "on ROTE" is not a thing. Further, I had ON THE SCENE instead of ON THE SCENT (65A: In hot pursuit), even though that felt wrong, since once you're ON THE SCENE you aren't really "pursuing" any more, are you? If the PTS clue had been clearer to me, maybe I would've been quicker with ON THE SCENT. But no matter. It's good to have a little workout on a Friday, and the rest of the puzzle hadn't put up much of a fight. So there was some struggle at the end, but overall, this was easy, and as I say, delightful.

This one started with PATH, then ARIA (confirmed by SALOME (10D: Strauss work with the "Dance of the Seven Veils")), and then the NW was done in a flash. First real hangup I had was TORO—still haven't stored the fish meaning in my brain properly. The TORO part of my brain is currently occupied by a snow blower and a Spanish bull and that's about it. But just when TORO was threatening to slow my progress through the grid, I connected BRIM to SALOME and all of a sudden, a revelation, a ray of light, pierced through the grid from above:

That lovely simple colloquial phrase opened up everything. NE corner went down almost instantly. The east was a little tougher only because I misspelled SEMPEL (thusly) (29A: Aimee ___ McPherson, evangelist behind America's first megachurch => SEMPLE). Needed the crosses in the SE to get the OWNER part of LEGAL OWNER (32D: Entitled sort). After that came the last part, the SW corner, the mild horrors of which I've already covered. I had BANCO before BANCA down there (51D: Where to get money in Milano), which contributed to the mess. But as messes go, the SW wasn't much of one. I cleaned it up pretty quickly, without losing too many good puzzle vibes in the frustration. 

  • "English" is "hitting the ball to promote sidespin" in pool (67A: Experts in English?)
  • A "trey" is a three-point shot in basketball (63D: Three for a trey: Abbr.)
  • Anne ARCHER is an actress. The wife in "Fatal Attraction," if that helps. (64A: Archer of note)
Off to the gym, followed by much loafing and leftover-eating and not-shopping and cake-snarfing. Hope your day looks similarly blissful. Enjoy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:19 AM  

My experience paralleled @Rex's. I also had trouble in the SxSW, but with slightly different missteps. I had BANCo at first, and ON THE SCENe, but my rogues gallery added ufo for DNA at 54A and AgreES instead of ABIDES at 46D. Basically, a smooth Friday with just enough crunch.

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

YES!! Another CZAR TSAR battle today.

Lewis 6:52 AM  

On Friday, I want a puzzle that makes me hunker down, get so into a thinking zone that the world goes awol and it’s just me and the grid, me chipping away and the grid daring me to chip away, a state I call “gridlock”. I got gridlock in that area from SEMPLE south, after warming up by successfully tussling with the rest of the grid.

When in gridlock my senses and thinking muscles get heightened – a glorious feeling – and with the everyday world vanished, it’s like sitting in the quiet on top of a mountain. It’s a gift.

I’ve been solving for quite a while, and gridlock grows rarer and more precious, so when it comes around, I am very grateful, as I am today, and it’s a reminder that thanksgiving isn’t just for one day a year. Thank you for this, Kate!

Lewis 6:52 AM  

Regarding the details of the puzzle, I especially enjoyed the lovely answer ON THE SCENT abutting POOL SHARKS with its terrific clue [Experts in English?], not to mention that after more than a thousand appearances in the NYT puzzles, we have a brand-new clue for ALA.

Unknown 6:53 AM  

Wow! This Kate Hawkins is good!

Michael Page 6:57 AM  

The folks at your local Radio Shack will be dismayed to hear they are a “onetime” chain. Hardly the presence they once were, but still there.

Lewis 6:59 AM  

And happy birthday, Rex!

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Very nicely done. Lots of good longs, achieved with very few three-letter “words”.

We had a book called “Russian Wonder Tales”, a collection of Russian folklore. It was full of terrific stories, and BABA Yaga featured in at least one of them. Collectively these probably formed my childhood idea of what a witch 'is'. Rather than flying on a broom, BABA Yaga travelled quickly using a mortar and pestle, sitting in the mortar and somehow propelling it with the pestle. Her house was set on chicken feet.

Tom T 7:20 AM  

Lots of decent HDWs (Hidden Diagonal Words) in today's grid (shun, plot, cdc, & DNA, which appears as 54A in the puzzle and diagonally beginning at 7D).

But I chose the HDW of the day because of the fun cluing option:

Solo lover (4 letters, answer below)

As for the puzzle, I worked my way through it at a solid, steady pace and finished within a minute or two of my best Friday time. Each section seemed to follow a similar pattern, from blank stare without any answers to suddenly getting an answer that opened up several others. Seems like a fairly small number of PPP answers, which was helpful.

Had sERA before CERA (no excuse) which made RADIO SHACK a problem, but very few other write-overs.

On to the HDW answer:

LEIA (begins with the L in POOL Sharks)

I know, there was already a Star Wars reference in the puzzle--SITH, 35D, but my clue could have been answered with diva, and it called to my mind the iconic scene with LEIA says to Han SOLO "I love you" and he responds, "I know."

Trey 7:43 AM  

Easy-breezy for me except for the SC and SE areas. Had KEEP, AREA, and LET GO as my only answers in the area. Probably took me as long to complete that section as it did the entire rest of the puzzle.

Top stack answered from the clues alone with no downs. Bottom stack was easy but not quite so. Favorite clue was for AUTO ( what you might unthinkingly be on) followed closely by ADAM (#1 dad)

TJS 7:47 AM  

My first read through the clues was getting nowhere and I was thinking this was going to be one of those "So hip and trendy that I'm dead meat" deals. And then, "offal/lethal" of all things got me into lavish/ivans and this thing just started to reveal itself. A truly enjoyable Friday challenge, which @Lewis described much better than I could. The nines and tens were terrific. Hoping for more from Ms. Hawkins. Love it when an early morning puzzle seems to set up my day.

Adam Lipkin 7:52 AM  

I also went with SEMPEL instead of SEMPLE, and that threw me for a bit, but this was still my record for a Friday, which felt great. Loved the long clues that were so often in my wheelhouse.

bocamp 7:53 AM  

Thx Kate; outstanding Fri. puz! :)

4/5 very easy/1/5 very hard.

Breezed thru this one until arriving in the SE.

Notwithstanding STRIKE PAY, LET GO, AREA & EASY A, I just couldn't get any further traction in the SE. Having TELL before ANNE, didn't help matters. Finally gave up on TELL and figured it must be ANNE, but she wasn't getting me anywhere, either.

After at least 1/2 hr. in the SE, I finally got the inspiration I needed to break it open: PRAWN. The remainder came fairly quickly, thank goodness. Whew & phew!! (@Z, I can relate to how Croce's 661 is doing you)

Just the kind of satisfying struggle I cherish in xwords.

Liked this puz a whole lot! :)

@okanaganer (1:53 PM yd)

I've learned to apply that suffix liberally; you just never know. :)

yd pg -2* (keeping tab open)

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

Unknown 7:54 AM  

Tough puzzle for an amateur puzzler like me, had some help from my son to finish. STRIKEdAY before STRIKEPAY, fAkE before MADE, meant the SE was last to go. LEGAL OWNER as the answer for'entitled sort' was tricky. Great puzzle! Any time I can finish a Friday sans google is okay with me. Thanks, Kate Hawkins! -Rick

Trey 7:55 AM  

@100% agree on Friday (and Saturday) puzzles. Gridlock means I am challenged and (assuming it is not all due to Naticks) it is desired by me and gives me a nice sense of accomplishment when I have finished that I do not get on puzzles where the answers are easier to come by. This puzzle provided that

Trey 7:57 AM  

@kitshef 7:20 - a mortar and pestle makes so much more sense than a flying broom! πŸ˜‚

Son Volt 8:11 AM  

Clean - straightforward puzzle. When the longs go right in late week it makes for smooth sailing. Agree with Rex on the wonderful spanning DONT BE A STRANGER and how it interconnects the NE and SW.

Some of the long downs - SIAMESE CAT and LEGAL OWNER etc were flat. BESOT and MAW were unfortunate additions to an otherwise clean grid.

Played MAIDEN’s first two records constantly in the early 80s. At that point they hadn’t developed into the unlistenable metal heroes they would become - the music had more to do with punk and the melodic drive of Wishbone Ash. Prowler still figures prominently on my running playlist.

Enjoyable Friday solve.

pabloinnh 8:12 AM  

Just a great Friday, to echo others here. Hand up for the BANCA/BANCO confusion, since in Spanish it's BANCO. I wonder what happened to make it different in Italian? Also didn't know what a "snapback" was, I've heard snapBRIM but not the other. Momentary indecision over NHL vs. MLB, which was unnecessary, since the baseball Senators are no more

Had ___LSH_R__ at 67A and wanted WILLSHORTZ , who may be talented but is certainly not plural, so that wouldn't work.

I don't drink cocktails and seeing PRAWN took a while, as I thought there might be some five-letter P thing that people are putting in cocktails now, like a pecan. Nice aha! moment when the other kind of cocktail became apparent.

Nice job, KH. All the King's Horses couldn't have put together a better Friday. Thanks for all the fun.

sixtyni yogini 8:37 AM  

Best birthday wishes
πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‚πŸΉ♐️πŸ¦–♐️πŸΉπŸŽ‚ πŸŽ‰

Megan 8:38 AM  

Sent me down a little Aztec Camera rabbit hole, so thank you for that.

John H 8:45 AM  

I didn't know that Parker is not his real name. McPherson? Bluth?

John H 8:46 AM  


Z 8:47 AM  

I had a NOLDNF*. I finished the puzzle and could not figure out how PeS related to three and treys. I went and got my iPad, went to refill my coffee, spending the entire 32 seconds pondering the mystery, when suddenly the D’Oh light went on and I sat down and fixed ON THE SCENe/PeS to ON THE SCENT/PTS. Whew!

What @unknown 6:53 said. A great Solve. From IRON MAIDEN making the NE easy peasy right through finally figuring out that the cocktail wasn’t a martini or G&T, this puzzle was loads of fun. As always, when the puzzle is this much fun I cynically check the PPP** to see if it was a wheelhouse thing skewing my reaction. Nope. This is a low 17/72 for 24%.

@bocamp - I knocked off a bit more, but the center of 661 still is treating me like an ignorant schlub.

Later in the day yesterday some were bemoaning the Lions, a team which made my giving up on football altogether much easier, and Bears game and I made my usual snarky comment. I then went to Twitter and almost immediately saw this retweeted. I’d worry that Twitter was spying on me with such a serendipitous post appearing as if by magic, but I do tend to follow like-minded people so it’s probably just that the Lions were the only game to watch. (FYI - the graphic is old, but the new guy’s winning %age is the lowest yet, 0.0%) My advice: Watch the Dog Show.

*Near One Letter Did Not Finish
**Pop Culture, Product Names, and Other Proper Nouns - When the puzzle hits 33% we are guaranteed to see the wheelhouse/outhouse effect - the puzzle is easy for some and especially challenging for others.

SouthsideJohnny 8:49 AM  

I’m enjoying reading the comments this AM - all I can say is, wow, y’all are really good at crosswords ! I actually made a modicum of progress (about an average amount for me on a Friday) - but there is no way that I can duck and weave my way through a boxing ring filled with SERA, MAW, SEMPLE, BABA, BANCA, TORO . . . And, WoE - a cartoon SIAMESE CAT ! That’s a lot of extra baggage when the rest of the grid is already Friday-tough.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Also had major trouble in the SW. Had MLB instead of NHL for the Senators, and ONTHESCENE and BANCA so was way over my usual Friday time.

Mark F 8:57 AM  

Happy Birthday Rex! Glad it started well with this crossword. Have a good one.

mathgent 9:01 AM  

The goodly number of longs was pleasing. Also, they squeezed out the Terrible Threes.

Rex gave us a nice set of facts about tuna. I make tuna sandwiches from Costco canned albacore, lots of celery, and lemon. In Hawaii, we eat fresh ahi, yellow fin and bigeye. I don't do sushi.

There used to be 16 Radio Shack stores here in San Francisco, all closed now. The nearest store is 80 miles away. The company, under new ownership, is now almost entirely online.

I had some trouble getting a foothold (FOCI/OFFAL), but then I was able to finish smoothly. A good number of straightforward clues.

I just read the Wikipedia article on Photo 51. The fellow who did it (Maurice Wilkins) shared the Nobel Prize with Watson and Crick.

Excellent crossword.

Susan 9:01 AM  

Happy birthday to you, Rex!

amyyanni 9:08 AM  

Happy Birthday Rex; glad you are recovered from the booster and able to exercise. Have a great day, and may no Baba Yagi in a flying mortar & pestle cross your path. This puzzle felt like a welcome reward after yesterday's tasks. Had a lovely day, but pshew! Did manage to collect some autumnal flora, including some greenery with orange berries, on my TDay morning walk to make a really pretty centerpiece.
Worked in a nonprofit where the Exe. Director was famously frugal. He did incur some long running snark over his purchase of Radio Shack computers for the office back in the day.
Like Rex, plan not to shop today, but may observe others in the act. Have fun, I hope, whatever you do.

Whatsername 9:34 AM  

Lovely! Simply lovely! One of those smoothies that just flowed like honey from start to finish. Kate’s puzzles remind me a bit of Robyn Weintraub’s in that respect - not EASY but so well MADE they seem like they are.

My only side-eye was the clue for 21A. As a former STENO, not sure I like being called an “old” worker, but clearly it’s business, not personal, so I’ll let it DROP. Sorry, been watching reruns of The Godfather. In case you were wondering, Luca Brasi still sleeps with the fishes.

It’s been my experience that DOGS who come from pounds are pretty NEAT companions.

I wonder how SALOME would’ve looked in a flat BRIM snapback if she had styled it up with those seven veils. This play is prominently featured in the movie Cookie’s Fortune, a funny and entertaining film starring Glenn Close and Julianne Moore in the ROLE of Salome. A really good PG-13 choice for the long holiday weekend if you’re looking for something to watch.

Teedmn 9:40 AM  

I join @Lewis in SE gridlock. I really wanted STRIKE PAY but held off on those last three letters because I couldn’t make sense of _ASY_. I left the AS there and tried to come up with a name for Ms. McPherson that would work with hASte for 33D. Too bad they picked a bad week to find that new clue for ALA.

I loved the clue for DOGS when I finally got it and that answer eventually led to LEGAL and the finish line.

Isn’t BABA YAGA's house able to walk on its chicken feet? That's what happened in one story I read.

I got my start into the grid at OPS crossing OFFAL. Not an auspicious entry point but OPS was a gimme as a large sector of the industry my job supports is COIN-OPS, aka laundromats.

Kate Hawkins, nice job, thanks.

RooMonster 9:49 AM  

Hey All !
The NW was my toughest spot. Rex just ran right through it. I finished up there, but Really wanted talkingCAT for 3D, because, after all, Bucky IS a Talking CAT. Then went with bIgnoSE CAT. Har. For HOMER, was thinking Kelly (ala Bundy), then kelso. Deciding twixt RESIN and RoSIN also. But managed to get that corner eventually.

Technical DNF, as I had to look up Miss McPherson. Don't know megachurch founders. They're all just slimy people using religion to get rich. So, happy I don't know her. But, taking puz as a win, as I never would've got that name.

No POOL SHARK here, I have a small table at my house, and after playing for a while now, I still suck! Can't seem to get drawing the cue ball back. I just keep miscuing.

Got a chuckle out of OFFAL. Close to OFL. 😁 Found out I didn't know Strauss' first name. (Or is that his last name?( See what I mean. Levi Strauss, sure...

Shout-out to all SBers, 29D.

Very nice FriPuz. Like Rex said, Longs all over the place. Not much ick holding it together. TILL next time, Kate.

yd pg -4

Two F's

Kid Phoneme 9:51 AM  

Majority of today's solve: "I am so smart!!!"
SW: "S-M-R-T," while burning my High School diploma.

Nancy 9:54 AM  

What wonderfully FRESH and colorful long answers! DON'T BE A STRANGER; IRON MAIDEN; ROUNDING UP (boy, did that one stymie me for a long time!); ERROR PRONE; ON THE SCENT (more about that to come); the deviously clued POOL SHARKS; and the drolly, cynically clued and absolutely delicious FRESH MEAT.

I was half on my way to doing you a terrible wrong, Kate, and accusing you, unfairly, of being unfair on 65A. "How," I wondered, "is being *ON THE SCENe* the same thing as being in hot pursuit? And what on earth is *PeS* as the answer to the three/trey question." Then I finally exchanged my idee fixe for a NICE IDEA and changed "SCENe" to "SCENT".

I think of someone who's ERROR PRONE (2D) as making mistakes in balancing the checkbook or filling out the LEGAL OWNER's form and I think of a butterfingers as someone likely to DROP things. More clumsy than ERROR PRONE. A klutz.

And PROPAGANDA equalling "the art of politics?" is even a bit too cynical for me. I would have clued it as "the 'art' of politics". Or maybe even gtten rid of the word "art" entirely.

But none of that really matters. This is a very well-clued and gorgeously executed themeless that was lively and entertaining.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

@Whatsername: I think the "old" in 21A refers to the now outdated use of the term as a substitute for secretary - back in the days when bosses would dictate memos and letters. Of course, secretary went by the wayside years ago too. People in those positions were called administrative assistants when I entered the workforce in 1987.

I had TREX for 17A, FIXES for 4D and AXES for 38A, which gave me __AAL for 26D, so the west side had me stymied for quite a while.

Whatsername 10:00 AM  

Happy birthday Rex! And thanks for sharing it here with your adoring weirdos. Have a wonderful day snarfing, loafing and not shopping. Sounds like perfection.

Missing the effervescence of @Frantic this week. Hopefully she’s just busy with turkey related stuff and all is well.

Diane Joan 10:08 AM  

Happy Birthday Rex! Hope you're feeling back to normal today. If there's another booster shot in my future, I'll know not to plan anything for the next couple of days.

I enjoyed the puzzle. It made my rainy Friday a little sunnier. "Neat Idea" for a puzzle Kate Hawkins!

EdFromHackensack 10:12 AM  

Happy birthday Rex, and thanks for your blog. We all look forward to it each day

Suzy 10:13 AM  

Thank you, Ms Hawkins, for a “Sempley” delightful puzzle! Just enough crunch for the Friday after T’giving.
Sad to say, 31D is true these days.

And Happy Birthday, Rex! Your irritate me no end on most days, yet I keep coming back for more.

Unknown 10:20 AM  

Happy birthday Rex! Here’s to many more!

Carola 10:21 AM  

I can only echo others: a lovely puzzle and a joy to solve. Easy for me until the SE, where the misspelled SEMPel hung me up for a good while. Finally saw PROPAGANDA and was able to finish. Like @Lewis, I liked those SHARKS under ON THE SCENT, with the comment "LETHAL!" above; I also noticed SALOME crossing IRON MAIDEN - she was certainly steely in her resolve to get what she wanted.

re: BABA Yaga's house on chicken legs - I learned about her and it from its wild and whirling musical depiction in Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

Wanderlust 10:25 AM  

Wow, surprised Rex and others are calling this easy. Pretty tough for me, but the good kind of tough. Felt like a Saturday. I guess I was a bit ERROR PRONE, with lots of bad guesses - “serif” for a “bit of a character” (thought I was so clever for getting that right away - ha!) and after erasing that, trying “olive” for the “cocktail tidbit.” (Lots of bits there.) Also, aligns instead of ABIDES, yap instead of MAW, Cena instead of CERA (isn’t there a John Cena too?) And more. But eventually got it.

Loved the clues for DOGS and POOL SHARKS, and LEGAL OWNER and PROPAGANDA had pretty good ones too.

My first thought on the heavy metal/torture instrument clue was The Catherine Wheel, a band I used to like, though they’re not really heavy metal. And obviously didn’t fit. There’s a macabre fascination with seeing these delightfully (?) named torture apparatuses when you visit European castles. They all seem to have a room set aside for this down in the dungeon. Being a gay atheist, I imagine I might have been destined for those things a few centuries ago. FRESH MEAT, so to speak. A great answer, by the way.

jberg 10:42 AM  

Yes, a great puzzle! I was breezing along, throwing in RADIO SHACK with no crosses, IRON MAIDEN from the I, and then DON'T BE... when I suddenly realized it might be plural, i.e. "Don't be strangers," and decided to wait for crosses. As it turned out, I had to complete the entire top half of the puzzle before I came up with one. But it was worth the wait.

I've never seen TORO on a menu in the US, but have enjoyed it in Japan (I think I've mentioned that my son lived there for 6 years, so I took every opportunity to visit.) The bluefin tuna is seriously endangered, however, so it's best not to eat it. Still, one of the highlights of any trip to Tokyo was a (very) early-morning visit to the now closed Tsukiji Market for the tuna auction. The frozen tuna carcasses were lined up on wheeled platforms, some incomprehensible bidding would take place, then the winner would wheel off his prize, have it cut into quarters, then resell those at a profit. By the time it reached the other end of the market, you could sit at a counter and have it served to you for a sushi breakfast. Since the jet lag would wake you at 3 AM anyway, it was a great first-day experience. But it was on valuable waterfront real estate, so has now been moved to a more distant site.

@Nancy, it's a baseball thing. If you drop a ball you should have caught, it's an ERROR in the score, making you ERROR PRONE.

PRAWN was the hardest thing for me; it's kind of an Anglicism, and anyway I was looking for an olive. But that didn't work with LEGAL heirs (I'd misread the clue as plural). But it was all great fun.

Happy Birthday, Rex! To celebrate, here's a piano w/ percussion version of Mussorgsky's BABA Yaga.

In a few hours we leave for our annual post-Thanksgiving weekend in Provincetown, on Cape Cod. So long until Monday!

Peter P 10:44 AM  

The puzzle started with a feverish record-time pace and then I got absolutely nailed in the east/southeast. Just obliterated. From the comments it seems Aimee SEMPLE McPherson is well-known enough, but that name meant nothing to me, and I'm sure it will be promptly forgotten.My brain couldn't fill in the last three letters of STRIKEPAY. I don't immediately think of PROPOGANDA as "art," so even though there is visual propoganda, I think of it more expansively, so my thoughts refused to head in that direction. (Unless I'm misreading the clue.) LEGALOWNER is just a flat phrase for me, and I couldn't find the "entitled" wordplay in it. Like @Wanderlust, I had "serif" for "bit of character", but that was too clever by half. Didn't know ANNE Archer (had EROS there originally.) Had "lemon" for "Cocktail tidbit" which crossed nicely with my incorrect "serif." Just a complete hash for me. I had to Google three of the answers before I could get any sort of a foothold there.

That said, that's what I want from a Friday. Nothing was unfair about it -- just completely out of my wheelhouse.

bocamp 10:54 AM  

@RooMonster (9:49 AM)

Here's an excellent vid re: draw shots by an obvious POOL SHARK who is fluent in 'english'. Btw, don't forget to give your cue a good dose of chalk.

pg -1

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

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

The Lions head coaching graphic is hardly all you need to know.
Compare Caldwell’s roster with everyone else’s.yikes. In fact he should’ve won more games.
Similar o dot ions prevailed when he was the head coach in Indy ( taking over for Black head coach)

jae 10:57 AM  

Mostly easy except for the SE which was mostly blank until SEMPLE finally emerged from the dark recesses of memory. @bocamp - me too for tell before ANNE which contributed to my SE difficulties. Lotsa sparkle, liked it a bunch!

Rochester 11:00 AM  


puzzlehoarder 11:14 AM  

As easy as yesterday's puzzle was this one was even easier. I have no idea who this SEMPLE woman is nor do I know what ALA stands for. None of this made any difference because the big stacks and just about all of the four letter entries were early week easy

The grid spanner was as low hanging fruit as the rest of the puzzle. The letters I had from coming down the central stair stack gave it right up.

This constructor and Robyn Weintraub ought to start their own publication aimed at getting grade school kids interested in solving. They'd be very good at it. Making puzzles for grown ups not so much.

I hope all my fellow "weirdos" had a nice Thanksgiving.

yd -0 Spoiler alert: only one word on the Thursday SB list gave me any real trouble. It's one I've missed before and ironically I suffer from the night time version of it. My brain is starved for oxygen all night long and this explains a lot.

The Swedish Chef 11:47 AM  

OFFAL and entrails aren't at all equivalent. let's see

entrails - the intestines
OFFAL - the parts of a butchered animal removed in dressing; viscera.

OFFAL, according to every cooking show I've seen or done, are the edible bits that American pansies won't touch. Brains, lungs (not legal in this country, alas), stomachs, and the like. Considered delicacies in more evolved cultures, like France.

Z 11:54 AM  

@New Yorker solvers - Thoughts on 1A? I’m thinking intentional.

@Southside - Interesting list. Of your list, SERA, MAW, SEMPLE, BABA, BANCA, TORO . . . SIAMESE CAT, I didn’t know SEMPLE, BABA, BANCA, or TORO, and I’d forgotten what kind of CAT Bucky was (and whether Bucky was the cat or the dog). For BANCA I put in BAN - - and waited and it turned out to be right and helpful. For the other three, the crosses were fair enough. Michael CERA has a useful enough name that you need to remember him as one of those four-letter actors like Esai Morales and Lena Olin. He will be in a puzzle near you soon. As for the cartoon CAT, it’s hard for me to judge since once the pattern began to take shape I remembered what Bucky was, but what I had first was - CAT, so that really narrowed down the possibilities. It only took three letters to so to recognize that he was a SIAMESE CAT.

@puzzlehorader - Here you go.

Z 12:01 PM  

@The Swedish Chef - From Merriam-Webster:
the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal removed in preparing it for market or for consumption

as compared to:
broadly : internal parts

beverly c 12:02 PM  

I was slow getting started until the clue for 7D and wrote in DONTBEASTRANGER with no crosses. What a feeling!
Then the NE corner went in easy and I was almost giddy, but I struggled with PROPAGANDA until I changed nLA to ALA.
No happy music and I knew it had to do with PeS at 63D but just drew a big blank.
So close to a successful Friday!!! Fun puzzle.

Joseph Michael 12:15 PM  

Kate Hawkins is a name I like to see above the grid and this puzzle is a good example of why.

Lots of great fill (IRON MAIDEN) and clever clues (“Old worker with pads”). That SE AREA really had me stumped. Wanted SERIF before TRAIT, EROS before ANNE, OLIVE or LEMON or ONION before PRAWN. Had no idea who SEMPLE was. And though I suspected the play on words with “pound,” I kept wanting PUPS or STRAYS or CURS before the most obvious DOGS. Nice aha!s, at last, on PROPAGANDA and LEGAL OWNER.

We’ve gone this Thanksgiving week from MYSTERY MEAT to FRESH MEAT and ended up with a NEAT IDEA: DON’T BE A STRANGER. Things seem to be ROUNDING UP well. And all in time for Rex’s birthday.

Pete 12:16 PM  

While driving to family TD dinner yesterday, the NYC NPR station we listen to at the mid-section of the journey played a long interview with someone who had recently written a book about Black Sabbath, the progenitor of the Heavy Metal genre of 1A. He rhapsodized about the musicality, ingeniousness & kind and holy souls of the members of the band. They they played some of their music, and whatever credence I gave to the sense of the interviewee flew out the window, even as I was attempting to do the same.

Anyway, this played straight-up difficult for me, but that's good. Thought I was brilliant getting TELL from the note=music misdirect. I know nothing at all about anything related to 3D other that Siamese cats are things. Nasty things, generally. I thought, for a while, that trey was a SYNonym for three, which it in fact is. I thank Ms Hawkins for the beatdown.

Malsdemare 12:17 PM  

What a fun puzzle! Impossibl until it wasn’t. Like others, I initially thought this was going to eat my lunch but then I got some of the long answers, some short ones, and I cruised until I got the SE. I thought I was so clever when I dropped in “serif” for “bit of a character” and that cuteness on my part left me totally stuck, with pecan, fast (for sharp), and then the mysterious LEs— for release. So I took out the whole corner and started over. PROPAGANDA got me rolling again, folllowed by LEGALOWNER and in two more minutes I was done.

Fantastic job, Kate. More, please.

bocamp 12:24 PM  

Bought an electronic chess set from RADIO SHACK back in the '70s.

@Carola (10:21 AM)

Thx for the 'Pictures at an Exhibition' link. :)

@puzzlehoarder (11:14 AM) πŸ‘ for -0 yd

I'm eyeing it sporadically today, but so far still pg -2.

td pg -1

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

jb129 12:24 PM  

Happy Birthday Rex!

I hope your sfx from the booster have gone away. Please tell me "yes" cuz I'm getting mine soon.

Thank you for a great Friday, Kate!

The Swedish Chef 12:28 PM  


Just go Google/Amazon 'The Offal Cookbook". The list has just about nothing to say about intestines. Really.

Whatsername 12:40 PM  

@Roo (9:49) I used to play in a local billiards league which was a lot of fun but also taken pretty seriously by the businesses who shelled out the sponsorship money. As such, I had the advantage of a professional coach and one thing he recommended was to study the pros on TV. Watching (and playing) nine-ball especially will help with learning strategy for how and where you want to leave the cue ball.

@Anonymous (9:58) Yes the labels have varied over the years. In the “old” days when I started out, my first official Civil Service classification was Clerk-Steno. From there I was also called stenographer, secretary, administrative assistant, office assistant, administrative specialist, and just plain old administration. In my last position - which I held for so long that no one else had any IDEA how to do what I did other than they knew it had a lot to do with their paychecks - I was commonly referred to as “The Real Boss.”

mathgent 12:42 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

kitshef (7:20)
pabloinnh (8:12)
Suzy (10:13)
jberg (10:42)

old timer 12:49 PM  

Easy for a Friday. Got DON'T BE A STRANGER off the DON'T. Really the only slow part was finding ERROR before PRONE, as I wanted "accident", which didn't fit.

I did think PROPAGANDA was fair, since my FB feed is just filled with it. I really do think it is time to forget about Former Guy, who will probably lose his first primaries, should he run. (Having mainly left-wing friends, I seldom see any right-wing nonsense). And as a Californian, OFL no doubt was familiar with Aimee SEMPLE McPherson, and Angelus Temple, who were much talked about in the LA Times, even years after her death.

I wrote in "BANCo" before BANCA. Reminds me of the time I was in Avranches, France, having visited Mt St-Michel, and needed cash. I asked a woman passing by in the city park, "Ou est un banc". The replied by pointing to a park bench, and I said, no, "Un Banc pour l'argent." She replied that I must have meant to say, "une banque", pointed the way to the town center, where there were many banks, and boy was there egg on my face, or "oeufs sur mon visage" if you will.

RAD2626 12:51 PM  

I thought this was fabulous start to finish. Like the birthday boy I had trouble in the SW which started with AlIgnS and AgreES before ABIDES but managed to sort it out. Loved the cluing and long entries.

Being able to order exactly what electronic item you need on the internet buried Radio Shack but until then RS was the place to go for all of the electronic gizmos you needed. Although it was founded in the early twentieth century its heyday was really the 80’s and 90’s. In the 1950-60’s there was an independent store in Branford CT Radio Surplus that put Radio Shack to shame for variety. It had everything. audio tubes, tv tubes, every possible resistor, capacitor and threw in some hardware. Many Saturdays were split between there and the Branford Bookstore. While the internet is incredibly efficient, touching and smelling everything was more fun. Tough to conjure up the aroma of a keyboard.

GILL I. 1:05 PM  

Slept late....took my Hadley Rose for a morning walk and now she's eating the pancakes we made this morning. She's watching some cartoons and I got to finish the puzzle.
This was enjoyable, but I did have a few jejune moments. Not dull as dishwater, but more like "Who the hell calls their band IRON MAIDEN?" moment. Did you know SEMPLE? you ask. No...she and BABA and OFFAL left me alone with the FRESH MEAT and went to the local bar to meet up with FOCI, the bartender. They didn't BESOT, but bye gum, all I wanted to sing was "Garlic makes a man wink, drink and stink."
The only "old" worker with pads I know are called amanuensis.
I will now depart and go wipe the syrup off the face of the joy of my life.

JD 1:11 PM  

@Z, Har! No, But a Robin Weintraub puzzle was a palate cleanser after the NYT.

First few passes weren't promising. But it all worked out in the end. Good cluing. Depressing vibe overall.

JC66 1:13 PM  

Happy Birthday @Rex.

Hand up for finding the Se tough.

Am In the only one who went hood -> ares -> ANNE?

Masked and Anonymous 1:21 PM  

Like many folks here, had lotsa solvequest trouble in the SE, startin with SEMPLE. Didn't help that I had went with STRIKEDAY, didn't understand ALA, and wasn't aware that some cocktails have PRAWNs in em.
Also, tough PROPAGANDA clue. Did get DOGS offa its shifty clue right away, tho.

BE-SOT. har
Lotsa primo fillins in this rodeo, overall. faves: FRESHMEAT. IRONMAIDEN. ERRORPRONE. SIAMESECAT. ROUNDINGUP.

staff weeject pick, of a modest 8 choices: ALA. M&A did not know that ALAbama has a Banned Books Week. But weren't entirely surprised.

Waiter! … There's a prawn in my mai tai! [I dream of gettin to say that, someday. not]

Thanx for the themeless challenge, Ms. Hawkins darlin. Primo work.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

leftovers (illustrated) ...

JC66 1:51 PM  


Think SHRIMP cocktail.

Hartley70 2:38 PM  

This was a lovely Friday puzzle and a quick solve. It was just what I needed today when recovering from a food coma and rushing to feed the troops once again. Happy Birthday to the Big Guy!

Anoa Bob 2:51 PM  

Being able to impart spin to the cue ball elevated billiards from a mundane, table top croquet-like exercise to a magical, seemingly physics-defying game that is deeply satisfying to play and that can bring admiring oohs and aahs from onlookers.

It all started when a Frenchman developed the use a leather tip on the cue stick and this was further improved when a couple of English players developed a kind of chalk to put on the tip. The chalked, leather tip greatly increased the point of contact friction between the cue tip and the cue ball and "English" was born.

@Roo, the secret to any spin shot, especially the draw shot, is a smooth, level, accurate cue stick stroke. Stay down on your shot (don't lift up or jump around), make sure the cue tip is hitting the cue ball exactly where you are aiming and follow through. Grip the cue stick like you are holding a small bird that just fell out of its nest---you don't want to injure it but you don't want it to get away. Then when someone challenges you to a game you'll be saying to yourself "Ah, FRESH MEAT"!

Marian 3:08 PM  

ALA-- American Library Association

Banned Books Week (September 26-October 2, 2021) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

okanaganer 3:17 PM  

I actually said "nice" out loud as I typed in DONT BE A STRANGER off of the D in RADIO SHACK (which I knew instantly because I had a battery club card as a kid in the 70s). Our neighbor owned the local store, which was pretty neat cuz he would give me extra batteries! Sadly, the chain left Canada about 15 years ago; the former stores are all called "Source" now and they seem to be doing okay.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; my last word I got after supper; it's one I know well but couldn't see for ages.]

egsforbreakfast 3:27 PM  

Incredible grid art by Kate Hawkins to make the puzzle look just like the leftovers on my plate yesterday.

Liked everything about this puzzle, including the repeat of my father’s advice on what to do for a living: DONT BEAST RANGER. Still sound advice to this day.

Masked and Anonymous 3:43 PM  

@JC66 - yep. PRAWN (aka shrimp) cocktail. Makes much more sense, now.
Many thanx.


Chip Hilton 4:01 PM  

I paused at one point to look at the gorgeous symmetry of my solve: NE down to SEMPLE; SW up to LETHAL; connected by DONTBEASTRANGER. Nothing else, just that. Ahhhh . . . When I resumed, things went smoothly until the pesky SE. That cocktail tidbit went through olive, onion, and even pecan before LEGALOWNER gave me PRAWN. What a fun ride! Great Friday, Kate Hawkins, happy birthday, Rex.

Nancy 4:23 PM  

@JC66 -- I thought of (William) TELL before ANNE. If I'd had the A before I had the first N, I would have thought of AMOR. But that N led me to ANNE.

It sounds like we have a POOL SHARK in our midst. "Anoa Minnesota Bob", I like to call him. It has a certain ring.

@RAD2626 (12:51)-- Did you really say you like to smell the Radio Shack merchandise??? Really???

bocamp 4:44 PM  

@Anoa Bob (2:51 PM)

Great post and tips for @Roo!

Didn't know 'English' (related to spin) is capitalized. Now I know why. :)

@okanaganer (3:17 PM) πŸ‘ for 0 yd

Still at pg -2 for yd & pg -1 td (haven't spent much time on SB today, so may pack it in on both days) Currently engrossed in a couple of devilish cryptics.

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

addisondewitt 7:02 PM  

How I knew Aimee Semple McPherson: “The Disappearance of Aimee,” a TV movie from the seventies with Faye Dunaway (audaciously appearing on TV when she was still a big movie star, which at the time wasn’t something movie stars did, although most of them do it regularly now) and Bette Davis. As you might indirectly guess from my moniker on here, I’m a Bette Davis fan. I think from what I can recall, she played McPherson’s mother.

Anonymous 1:00 AM  

Happy Birthday Rex! Anne Archer also was cast as Harrison Ford’s wife in two Jack Ryan movies, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.

DigitalDan 3:32 PM  

I think they're hard when I try all the acrosses and get almost nowhere. Once started on downs, things typically ease up. It's a staahyel thing. If I get to the end of the acrosses and the grid is near-empty, that's a hard puzzle. It happened today. Even the early downs were not obvious. Fortunately, the 5 down PRES had to be either FDR or DDE, and I guessed right the first time, or I would really have been toast. In the end, I did better than my average, but I would not go below MEDIUM for this one.

DigitalDan 3:33 PM  

My comment of this day was really meant for tomorrow's (Saturday) puzzle. I got caught by the twofers again.

Ian 6:52 PM  

16 across could have been clued Margaret Thatcher?

thefogman 10:22 AM  

Pretty good. But 31D was clued wrongly. Should be “the art of deception” or “misinformation, political or otherwise”. It’s easy these days to be cynical about politics and politicians, but ultimately politics can and should be about public service, (good) government and governance. PROPAGANDA is only a factor only when politics get derailed and corrupted by anti-democratic forces. HNY everyone!

spacecraft 12:01 PM  

Nice one, not as easy as OFF suggests, but doable with some cerebral calisthenics. For a Friday, I'd say it's medium, maybe leaning toward challenging. Went astray with arCs for the ellipse pair, knowing that 3-down was a [something]CAT. Finally remembered OFFAL and what it means, and the SITH (doh, as HOMER would say). After that it only remained to change BANCo (a cry heard in chemin-de-fer) to BANCA.

ANNE Archer (I'd never leave her for Glenn Close!) is DOD. Very well done; Eagle. DONTBEASTRANGER, Kate!

Burma Shave 12:24 PM  


that MAIDEN's like a DOG in heat


rondo 12:36 PM  

1a and 1d right off and boom, down to the south. DONTBEASTRANGER filled in and then gimme IRONMAIDEN started a straight PATH down to the SE. Very EASY for A Fri-puz.

ANNE Archer in most any ROLE, yeah baby.

This puz not OFFAL, take that to the BANCA.

Packetman 12:43 PM  

Struggled on the SE Corner. Put down "TELL" for "Archer of note" which put me on the wrong track. Then "PRAWN" was not happening in my thinking for "Cocktail garnish" ... Oh, as in a shrimp cocktail!

Diana, LIW 2:12 PM  

Well @Packet - I had EROS for ANNE in that SE corner, but to the same effect.

Finally, after looking (cheating), I finished the rest of this fine Friday. And I got DONTBEASTRANGER just off the clue - no other letters filled in.


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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