Towering figure in The Two Towers / FRI 1-7-22 / What Babe aspires to be in "Babe" / Speedy sci-fi technology / Dressing room encouragement / Secretly unionize? / ID seen at the post office / Broadway show where everyone knows the ending

Friday, January 7, 2022

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Kake UDON (10D: Kake ___ (Japanese dish)) —

Udon (うどん or 饂飩) is a thick noodle made from wheat flour, used in Japanese cuisine. It is a comfort food for many Japanese people. There are a variety of ways it is prepared and served. Its simplest form is in a hot soup as kake udon with a mild broth called kakejiru made from dashisoy sauce, and mirin. It is usually topped with thinly chopped scallions. Other common toppings include prawn tempurakakiage (mixed tempura fritter), abura-age (sweet, deep-fried tofu pouches), kamaboko (sliced fish cake), and shichimi spice added to taste.

Standard broth differs by region. Dark (koikuchi) soy sauce is added in eastern Japan, while light (usukuchi) soy sauce is added in the west. (wikipedia) (emph. mine)

• • •

Vintage Weintraub. Delightful. Bouncy answers in an open, flowing grid. Zing zing. This started very, very easy, as every answer I wanted was correct for the first seven answers (at least): ACNE ERIN THOR TONI ATTIC COP and then pow, NON-APOLOGY (great answer) catapulted me into the center of the grid. But my pace slowed down as I decided to move not down NON-APOLOGY Street, but across the grid on "I CAN DO IT" Way, which was always an iffier route to take, considering the DO IT part was at that point pretty tentative. In fact, that's probably why I went that way—to confirm the tentative part. Anyway, that upper middle section put up some resistance: I went with GIST instead of MEAT off the "T" (7D: Substance), and then had trouble understanding what the "scavenger hunt" clue was after. My understanding of scavenger hunts is that they involve you finding a series of different things, possibly in a specific order, with more elaborate versions having you running all over town. So "GOT ONE!" just didn't square with what I had in mind, as it implies you are supposed to find many of the same things (like Easter eggs on an Easter egg hunt). If there is "ONE!," there are many more like it to come. So clearly "scavenger hunt" has a broader meaning than I imagined, and "GOT ONE!" seems fine to me. Just tough to wrangle. Once I determined that Othello was a GAME and not a MOOR, I got out of that section ... only to plow right into a much stickier section, i.e. the Northeast. 

The biggest roadblock of the day was 18A: Dressing room encouragement ("THAT'S SO YOU!"). I have to believe that clue was written with the express intent of having me (and possibly you) misunderstand its context. First, I had the wrong dressing room in mind (I was thinking "back stage," not "department store"). Then there's the word "encouragement," which I thought would be ... well, clearly an encouragement. Something like "BREAK A LEG!" only with "THAT'S" at the front end. But it wasn't that kind of "dressing room" and it wasn't that kind of "encouragement." It's actually a compliment, which I *guess* is an "encouragement" to buy the dress / jacket / tiara / whatever, but obviously none of the words in the clue tracked for me. That answer's difficulty was compounded severely by a couple of very tricksy clues in that same NE section. Just above "THAT'S SO YOU!" was the brilliant but brutal 16A: ID seen at the post office (IDAHO). I had the "O" from SOUS (the one gimme up there), so I kept wanting PHOTO. And just below "THAT'S SO YOU!" was the "?" clue 22A: A counting job? (CENSUS). Is that supposed to be a pun on "accounting"??? :( Because the CENSUS literally is a counting job, so there's no need for the "?" unless there's some cutesy wordplay. The short stuff up there wasn't helping out the way I thought it might. The SAYS answer was cross-referenced, so that was off the table. Not knowing Kake UDON and not having enough info to get the vaguely clued RUSTS (9A: Loses sheen, perhaps), and not even knowing what Eva Perón was supposed to be (25A: Eva Perón was one: Abbr. = SRA), I flailed around quite terribly up there. 

My next move was a coin toss between COIN FLIP and COIN TOSS, and I guessed correctly, somehow! The FRIAR and the PENS helped confirm FLIP.  Eventually I got SIMON, which gave me SAYS back in that NE corner, and that alone was enough to untangle things. After that, the puzzle reverted to Easy the rest of the way. No hiccups at all. The only hesitation was brief, and it came as I was backing into DOZEN ROSES, which seemed to want an "A" or "ONE" at the end. Seems rather odd just sitting there on its own.  But just odd, not difficult. And that's where I finished things off: the SW corner. I had such fun zooming around this grid. Loved LIMITED RUN and especially loved its clever misdirective clue (30D: Broadway show where everyone knows the ending?). Congratulations to Robyn or Will or whoever finally found the only good clue for OGLES (46D: Looks like a jerk). The CHOCOHOLIC clue was also a winner (2D: One constantly craving kisses?). I'm now craving chocolate myself, even though it's only 5:30 in the morning, so I'm off now to Treat Myself (or distract myself with coffee, haven't decided). Have a nice day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


OffTheGrid 6:23 AM  

I can't find any store near me that sells CHOCOHOL.

There are some gems in this puzzle but way too many poor clues. Loses sheen/RUSTS for one, not even close. Gets by/DOESOK is just a poor match. It was barely interesting enough to keep me going. I don't think this is up to what we expect from Ms. Weintraub. @Rex was clearly showing constructor bias today.

The Joker 6:32 AM  

I am so relived that the kisses clue had nothing to do with butts.

Lewis 6:58 AM  

Robyn, precious Robyn. Time after time after time you nail it and give us joy. Your stamp is on every puzzle of yours; you are a crossword fixture and legend. I smile and inwardly “Whee!” when I see your name atop the grid – every time. What a gift you are.

You are always debuting perfect colloquialisms. Today it was THAT’S SO YOU. You spark your cluing with wordplay, humor, and misdirection – I marked 14 clues today that had that spark. Two, for example: [ID seen at the post office?] and [Othello, for one]. You come up with answers that are so common to the language it’s hard to believe they’ve never been in the NYT puzzle – today it was DOZEN ROSES.

You give brand new clues to answers that have appeared all the time forever. Today it was OGLES, which has shown up 82 times in the plural and 483 times in the singular, and never have we seen a clue like today’s [Looks like a jerk]. Masterful!

You charm us with your wit, which can blind us to your constructing chops. Your grids are always junk-bereft and flooded with answers that snap. You make it look easy, but it is so hard to do. It’s one reason your puzzles stand out mightily in the crowd.

What a good omen to have a Weintraub in the first week of the year. Thank you for today’s gem, Robyn, and for your art.

Trey 7:11 AM  

Rex summed up my feelings perfectly today. Great puzzle. Some misdirection and clever cluing. Best clue was for IDAHO. Best answer was CHOCOHOLIC (its clue was near the top of the list as well.)

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Quite possibly the hardest Weintraub I’ve ever done. After the NW fell in about four seconds, everything else was completely off my wavelength.

Biggest holdup was probably CARLE, but all kinds of other issues.

As is often the case for me, the colloquialisms did not land for me. THAT'S SO YOU is an insult, or at best damning with faint praise, but certainly not encouragement. GOT ONE does not sound like something you would hear in a scavenger hunt. And Like Rex, what followed I CAN was open to debate.

Othello: moor - play (crossing leech) - game.

Mostly the "good kind of hard", though.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

@Rex. There's a reason you had trouble with THATSSOYOU. It's called a fitting room, not a dressing room. And you're right about the fogginess of "encouragement". This was a misleading clue without being clever.

Zed 7:30 AM  

I cannot believe the number of precious nanoseconds I wasted on that IDAHO clue. We have even seen postal abbreviation based themes in the past and it still wasn’t until I finally had enough letters to see RISE AND SHINE, giving me the I, that the light bulb flickered on. D’Oh.

Otherwise pretty much what Rex said, including moor before GAME. A fine Friday solve.

abalani500 7:38 AM  

Loved, loved this puzzle - as with all of this constructor’s. All my fastest Friday times are from Robyn and they are always so fun. I feel like I’m just in the same wavelength as her. But - can someone humor me and explain 56 across? I’m sure I’m being obtuse but I just don’t get it.

Oh an 2D is clue of the week for me.

bocamp 7:39 AM  

Thx Robyn; another wonderful Fri. puz! :)

Easy++ (seems like I'm almost always on her wavelength)

So smooth; typical Robyn style.

Excellent start in the NW, down, across and finishing at the CENSUS in the NE.

No hitches along the way.


CHOCOHOLIC is an SB word.

Liked everything about this one: a fun solve! :)
yd 0* / dbyd 0* (finally got the last 2) / ( missed from Jan. 1 & 4)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

SouthsideJohnny 7:40 AM  

Some of the long downs like NON APOLOGY, LIMITED RUN, DESSERT WINES and even RISE AND SHINE were fun (and nicely clued) - I can see why everyone consistently praises this constructor. Perhaps not having the constraints imposed by having theme entries all over the grid makes it a little easier to come up with several gems like that in the same puzzle.

Nice clue for IDAHO focusing on the postal code - pretty cool. The clue for OUI (Air France confirmation) is a cop out to me - I know that it’s telegraphing the fact that it is a foreign word, but they can do better than that. Would anyone clue “American Airlines confirmation” as YES ? Maybe, if inducing groans is your objective.

Nice to have an entire puzzle without any real WoE clues or answers - tough, but fair today. They would do well to find and publish more like this one.

amyyanni 7:48 AM  

How does Robyn consistently turn out such charming Friday puzzles? Always makes Friday even better. Loved the clue for AGREE (what he & do don't). Thought of Rex when I got to OGLES; glad he liked it.
So many clues threw me, until they didn't. Just right for Friday. Hope the rest of today stays in the zone.

Whatsername 7:52 AM  

Early appointment this morning and I had to RISE AND SHINE in the wee hours, so did the puzzle last night which is rare for me. I wouldn’t color this easy by any means, but smooth and elegantly polished with just the right level of resistance. Oh Robyn, THATS SO YOU!

Then as an added bonus, there are a few of my favorite things: SHEEP DOGS, ROSES, CHOCOHOLICs, a HORSE, a TIGER, a LILY. And remember if you do UNTO others as you would have them do UNTO you, hopefully you won’t get a DIRTY martini thrown in your face with an ICY STARE the way Samantha did to Richard when he cheated on her.

It’s Friday and it’s the lovely Ms. Weintraub. All is right with the world.

Mike G 7:56 AM  

Loved it. I don't know many constructor names, but I know Robyn's. I was hoping for some fun today and she didn't let me down.

I don't know if you read the blog -or- comments, but in case you do: Thank you, Robyn!

Tom T 8:06 AM  

I really enjoy a Robyn Weintraub puzzle. I seem to be on her wavelength in terms of both her cluing and her colloquialisms (got CHOCOHOLIC and I CAN DO IT and DESSERT WINES with only one letter each). So I typically manage to finish her Friday puzzles well ahead of my Friday average. That held true today (or last night, actually).

Had time to get it done last night, sadly, because my family got word the the Disney World Cirque du Soleil performance we were so excited to see was cancelled just minutes before the doors were supposed to open. Bummer.

Back to the puzzle--I wrote in "alias" for the post office ID, thinking of the "Wanted" posters with their "AKAs." Misread the clue for DOZEN ROSES as "Romantic bRunch, so struggled with that section a bit. Loved the NONAPOLOGY entry.

In a scavenger hunt, individuals or teams are given an identical list of items to find within a certain amount of time. It is perfectly appropriate that one might exclaim, "GOT ONE!"

My favorite Hidden Diagonal Word (HDW) in this grid might be clued as "Not fake news." Answer: FACT (begins at 29D box and moves to the NW).

I AGREE with @Lewis and others, the crossword MUSE is strong in Ms. Weintraub. (Even SIMON SAYS so, I imagine.)

Zed 8:25 AM  

Ah yes, the finer distinctions between dressing room, fitting room, changing room, and even locker room. Merriam-Webster would seem to agree with @anon 7:25 until you look at their recent examples from the web (warning: several of the current examples are about a tragic story). All four of these terms are for semi-private or private areas to change clothes and all four have been used interchangeably. There is some nuance between the terms, but it’s not as clear cut a distinction as @anon asserts. I also saw some suggestion on the interwebs that the department store dressing room may be a somewhat regional usage, but in my experience “fitting room” is the less used term.

@Anoa Bob late yesterday- It’s not your brain anatomy that is questioned, it’s your unnecessary limiting of the word “connection” that is leading you to question the clue unfairly. I think my earlier example of the way jumper cables are battery connections is on point. The connection isn’t a connection without the insulated part between the clamps.

Son Volt 8:25 AM  

RW’s recent Friday’s have all been good puzzles - just not Friday tough. Other than the NE corner - this one was a straightforward fill it in grid - nothing wrong with that just no juice.

Starting off with ACNE x ERIN is rough. Really liked NO APOLOGY, WARP DRIVE and RISE AND SHINE. The Babe and Eric CARLE clues brought me back to early fatherhood.

43a is so fitting after seeing all the Dems get moist greeting our previous war criminal VP yesterday.

Enjoyable Friday light solve today.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Great puzzle!

CARLE was a gimme (to me) because my wife babysat for his kids in the distant past.

Special thanks to Robyn for clearing up how to write the plural of DOOK.

— Jim C. in Maine

JJK 8:26 AM  

Loved this puzzle! Robyn Weintraub is the best and her puzzles never disappoint.

THATSSOYOU is a classic line when shopping with girlfriends or daughters - it’s absolutely encouragement in the dressing room (or fitting room, both can be used at the department store). I also loved CHOCOHOLIC, NONAPOLOGY, RISEANDSHINE and the clue for OGLES. Had trouble with DOZENROSES, which seemed to be missing a leading “a” and therefore trouble with the SW but otherwise found this a wonderful Friday.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

I’m with Mike G: Weintraub is a name I’m alway happy to see. Today’s puzzle led me in circles — literally, as I solved it moving counterclockwise, passing through the delightful NONAPOLOGY and ending, fittingly, with END. Thank you, Robyn!

Victor 8:38 AM  

@abalani500: "He" and "Do" don't agree grammatically. You wouldn't say "He do this." Great puzzle. Awed by the misdirect in "ID seen at the post office."

JOHN X 8:42 AM  

I’m like a CHOCOHOLIC, but for booze.

Harry 8:48 AM  

Surprised Rex rated this "easy/medium" since by his own account it tested his solving skills more than once or twice. Of course, his ratings seem to imply "for a Friday".

I'd have rated this "medium/hard", but my time came in slightly longer than an average Friday, so lets agree on "medium".

This was a thoroughly satisfying challenge. If my mind were a tad less agile today, a DNF was a distinct possibility. I breathed a sigh of relief and contentment at completing the fill. Much misdirection, but only the slightest inclusion of the obscure.

Simply a very pleasant way to ease into Friday.

pabloinnh 8:51 AM  

Like others, I found the NW a snap, filled that in, and went down the left coast at WARPSPEED, which I found later to be a wonderfully wrong answer for WARPDRIVE. That was one hangup.

Also got stuck in the SE, where I knew just enough about "Babe" to remember it was a movie about a pig with aspirations, leading me to the wonderful conclusion that he wanted to be a SHEEPPIG. Not helpful.

The other major hangup was the NE, where I had one of those "forgot to read the clue" moments, which in this case was the clue for SOUS. As soon as I had that the whole section fell into place quickly, including those long mysterious downs.

Always like me an RW and today was no exception. Righteous Work, as usual. Thanks for all the fun.

Frantic Sloth 8:51 AM  

Oh, for cryin' out loud. Just pick one - it's a Weintraub.


Ray M 8:53 AM  

Reading Rex’s summary this morning was like remembering how I did the puzzle myself. I’ve been working BYT puzzles for many years, but this was the first time that my solve was actually the same solve as Rex. There were a few differences but I made the same errors following the same schema as did he. For me this was a really fun Friday puzzle.

LGreenfield 8:57 AM  

Can someone explain SRA?

Bruce R 8:57 AM  


You beat me to it. "I'm like a CHOCOHOLIC, but for booze" is classic Onion.

Joaquin 9:01 AM  

Are there such things as generic chocolate kisses? I thought Kiss was part of a brand name, Hershey Kiss, and therefore should have been capitalized.

And "Lash makeup" gave me the creeps with HAIRS. The plural just sounds flat-out unattractive.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

@Anonymous 7:25 AM. Dressing room--fitting room--changing room. These are all used interchangeably to describe the place you go to to try on clothes in a store.

Unknown 9:07 AM  

@ LGreenfield It's short for senora

It's rare that I agree w/ anything rex says, but today is the exception that proves the rule. Had an almost identical solving experience.

Robyn is a true treat! Loved IDAHO, DOZENROSES, et al.

JOHN X 9:11 AM  

@Bruce R 8:57 AM

My most recent bender was today. There was a good movie on TV, and I figured, hey, I'll need steady hands to change the volume. Of course, it all went straight to my liver, but what are you gonna do?

Eniale 9:12 AM  

Just checking in to say I'm on vacation, in Atlantic time zone, will only be doing puz very late in the day, for a couple of weeks. So Thursday I found it easy to get the 3s-in-a-row but never got the collective idea - huh? huh.

dbyd pg -3

yd pg - many

Have fun, everybody!

MarthaCatherine 9:15 AM  

Like Joaquin, I wondered why "kisses" in the clue for 2D wasn't capitalized. I resisted putting in the correct answer for a nanosecond. I thought our ears would burn from the putdown Rex would have for that oversight.

Loved the whole puzzle. 46D, OGLES, is one of my new all-time faves. Right up there with the clue Caesar's Dressing (TOGA) from a few months ago.

Zed 9:18 AM  

@Joaquin - Re: kiss - see noun definition 3.

kitshef 9:20 AM  

@Joaquin - "kiss" as a piece of candy does indeed predate "Kiss" as a brand. Because it was formerly a common word, it was not until 2001 that Hershey's was able to trademark the name.

GILL I. 9:23 AM  

I'm usually on Robyn's puzzle wavelength. Today my WARP DRIVE got up and flew into THOR's mouth. Odin, who was my first choice, wasn't pleased. Then I got to Othello and he's giving the ICY STARE look as in: I am a MOOR not some GAME.
Ay dios mio.....The COIN FLIP got used today but my Friday mantra is always I CAN DO IT....I did...but it took a long time and my comfy chair had a "get up a million times" feel to it.
But did you like this? you ask. Well, yes...of course I did. But I got frustrated in some parts - you know, the RUSTS and IDAHO area. Didn't help that 24A (Purpose) was an AIM. That Eva Peron was a SRA never entered my mind. How do I shorten Evita? How do I figure out a way to say First Lady of Argentina in three letters? And so it went.
I like the he and do clue at 56A. He done do me wrong. Well...I AGREE.
My favorite was seeing Babe as a wannabe SHEEP DOG. I mean who hasn't seen him frolic with Fly the Collie and escaping the fate of Christmas dinner thanks to farmer Hoggett. I almost gave up eating bacon for Lent after seeing that and Charlotte's Web...
TIGER LILLY burning bright......Wear a mask.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Imagine a crossword in a Spanish-speaking country in which the answer to the clue (in Spanish) “Eleanor Roosevelt was one” is MRS.

Ray M 9:29 AM  


Anonymous 9:34 AM  

@Joaquin: The registered trademark is HERSHEY'S KISSES. Kiss is a generic term to describe small bite-sized confections, typically chocolate or meringue.

TJS 9:38 AM  

Too easy for a Friday, maybe because all the longs were snaps with one key letter. So 1 across really gave you the entire West side story, etc. But a beautiful puzzle, none the less.(Is that one word?)

I can see using "Thats so you" as a half-serious insult, but as a clothing comment, def. a complement.

All the longs were so in the language, beautiful job.

Blue Stater 9:40 AM  

Uh, what, pray, is the connection between "Martini option" and DIRTY?

This one had its moments, but too many of them were "Oh, she can't mean *that*."

RooMonster 9:43 AM  

Hey All !
Nice puz. An Almost One-letter DNF having HOuSE in for HORSE, but thankfully uOPES is a non-thing. Well, it is true you can Bet On the house!

Enjoyable FriPuz. Lots of Longs crossing each other, which is nice, and tough to do.

Clue for 47D ADAM was devilish. I thought, "how the heck am I supposed to know the driver's name in "House of Gucci"?" Har. Prime example of 'a PPP as first word in the clue' capitalization. Never heard of Eric CARLE, but crossers were gettable.

I might cry "GOT ONE!" if I was in a scavenger hunt and found something! Either that, or "WooHoo!" Then run to find another.

Might bet on this year's COIN FLIP in the Super Bow... Oh wait, you aren't legally allowed (or so I think?) to say it. The Big Bowl Game at Seasons End. Har. Like doing silly prop bets for the Big Game.

Anyway, nice one Robyn. Cool you can make easy MonPuzs and difficult FriPuzs seem so easy to construct. And they are usually very clean. Kudos.

yd -2, should'ves 0 (both whas?)

One F

CarynR 9:58 AM  

What a joy to do this puzzle on a snowy Friday morning! My favorite clue by far was 30D (Broadway show where everyone knows the ending) As a theater nerd I racked my brain trying to think of an actual show where this was the case. When the answer revealed itself I did a big palm slap followed by a huge BRAVA to Robyn!

JD 9:59 AM  

Delightful. Would've been the ideal Valentine's Day puzzle with it's Chocoholic, Dessert Wine, and Dozen Roses. Robin Weintraub is just always delightful. And she brokered peace between Rex and me. This is the first time I've almost completely agreed with him, except for the tiny fact that I knew what a scavenger hunt involved and I hate them.

Dressing Room is a thing and I used to say it. Regional? Maybe outdated? I switched to saying fitting room after getting a few few blank looks upon asking its whereabouts. After I started working from home and switched to clothes that are held up by elastic and sized S, M, L, there was no need to try on anything anymore. My new favorite color is tee shirt gray.

@Gill, almost ... for a year 🤣 (I love Babe so I get the temptation).

GILL I. 10:03 AM  

@Anony 9:29....good one! My sentiments exactly....

jae 10:19 AM  

West side easy, but I had the same problems as @Rex and many of you in the NE. UDON, FRIAR (it’s been decades since I’ve read/seen Romeo and Juliet) and SOUS were WOEs as clued, SIMON SAYS did not come easily nor did RISE AND SHINE. I also took the bait on ID at the post office.

Delightful Friday with both charm and sparkle, liked it a bunch!

Joseph Michael 10:29 AM  

A DOZEN ROSES for Robyn Weintraub.

Newboy 10:31 AM  

Always a delicious start to the day when Robyn’s byLine appears as her grids are so lovely that even Rex can’t find curmudgeonly gripes! And so today I just skipped the commentariat since we all love her fantastic clueing and strings of tiny words to fill big gaps. Having lived here for over a half-century, I should have seen IDAHO instantly, but NO GO—egads as granny said. OTOH, TIGER LILY pooped (don’t we all love autocorrect?) popped right up…..maybe pooped is an appropriate verb after all? Had to chase Othello off stage left screaming before the board GAME arose as an option. Off to LA to continue the play.

scroogie 10:36 AM  

Weintraub, a Cornell grad (class of 1991), inserts two notable Cornell names into the puzzle: Carl Sagan (professor, 1968-96) and Toni Morrisson (MA, 1955).

Nancy 10:39 AM  

Oh, Robyn, THAT'S SO YOU! Creating wonderful clues that stop us in our tracks for a bit, but then always offering us a hand across the MOATS. It's a real talent to find that balance.

Because sometimes I feel we're on the same wavelength, or because I've been doing puzzles for too long, I galloped through the NW corner -- seeing the tricky-ish ACNE, ATTIC and CHOCOHOLIC right off the bat. Then I skipped right by the center "Othello, for one" section because I didn't know if the 4-letter answer was ROLE or MOOR. It's a GAME, you say??? What kind of game? If you get a favorable throw of the dice, you get to strangle your wife? Just wondering.

So many clues provoked my curiosity. In what kind of Broadway show does everyone know the ending? What country is named for a now-banned trade? And I didn't see ROPES for "metaphorical knowledge" until I had crosses.

So instead of having us on the ROPES, you actually threw us some ROPES today -- with more easy answers than we normally get from you on a Friday. But still plenty here to intrigue and delight.

Zed 10:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zed 10:49 AM  

Anyone else solve today’s New Yorker and wonder just how old Berry’s word list is when they filled in 9D. Boy Howdy, I don’t think I’ve heard that word used I was in grade school in the 60’s.

burtonkd 10:52 AM  

What a day! 6am school snow day announcement, great Weintraub puzzle, Rex at his best, all with a strong cup of coffee and I got most of my strength back after a day mostly in bed from effects of booster shot. Oh, and Lewis "ode-ing" it up like no one else can.

Robin should be a diplomat with her handling of the potentially problematic neighbors OGLES and IVORYCOAST. Also in that corner, a fun fact thrown in to brighten the -ese URAL.

Hands up for MOOR and HOuSE.

I’m trying to figure out why the SRA clue is an insult to Eva Peron. It implies she is well known enough in many ways to be used as a misdirect. I guessed ARG first.

Nice to see SOUS vide after the recent ROUX - puts me in the mood for some fine cuisine.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Let's face it. @Rex and almost everyone else loved this puzzle as soon they saw it was an RW. Everyone was @Lewis today.

Carola 10:55 AM  

Ditto to all the accolades for Robyn Weintraub's puzzle wizardry. This was such a treat to solve. Like some others, I found it agreeably more challenging than her other recent Fridays. I also solved counterclockwise from ACNE x NONAPOLOGY, schussing down that left side, followed by a slow trudge back up to the top. Last in: GAME x GOT ONE. Favorites: LIMITED RUN, ICY STARE, TIGER LILY, and the laugh at discovering lashes are made up of HAIRS.

@Anonymous 7:25, I was interested in your comment. As @Z and @JD commented, perhaps the usage is regional; for me there's also an economic or class tinge: I grew up using "dressing room" and associate "fitting room" with upper crust establishments that would have been far out of my family's reach. In today's terms, I just can't think of Target, say, as having "fitting rooms." WEIRD?

@pabloinnh 8:51 - Me, too, for overlooking SOUS! Once that went in, I could see it was THOU, then immediately THAT'S SO YOU, and bingo.

@JD 9:59 - I loved your "fashion statement." They other day I had to put on actual jeans. Man, that was a shocker. Brought me back to the days when girls had to lie down on their beds to get them zipped (I did not resort to this; rather *** TMI ALERT*** I took off my long underwear).

Beezer 10:59 AM  

@Blue stater, when you order a DIRTY martini the bartender throws in the olive PLUS some olive “juice.”

mathgent 11:04 AM  

I'm not as carried away as most of you. But a fine work with good sparkle, good crunch, lively fill. What I expect on a Friday.

Alex K 11:06 AM  

He and do do not agree as subject and verb

Nancy 11:16 AM  

The department store employees may mostly say "fitting room", but, FWIW, I always say "dressing room." Not that that helped me today -- because I was thinking of a performer's dressing room in the theater. What do you say to encourage a performer before she goes on? In this case it has to end with YOU -- which was all I had. That makes it especially tricky. "THEY'RE GONNA LOVE YOU"? Too long. "THEY CAME TO SEE YOU"? Too long. "THEY ADORE YOU"? Still too long. Only when THAT'S SO YOU became obvious did I realize the clue was about shoppers.

Mary McCarty 11:27 AM  

Blue stater9:40: a martini becomes “dirty” when you mix in some olive brine.
Great puzzle overall, but enough misdirections/errors like “dressing room” COINtoss, WARPspeed,etc. to put me just 2 min under my Friday average. Loved IDAHO—I keep thinking “I’ll remember state abbreviations from no on,” but I never do.

Birchbark 11:39 AM  

RUSTS loses sheen but gains much in return. I struggle with this clue, because what it gains is a better sheen in its own right.

I have a circa 1950 1/4-horse bench grinder with a wire brush out in the garage. I use it to keep the tools and other oxidizing metal things in good order. Under the surface RUST, whose dust I breathe as the wheel spins and abrades, assessing as one might an old Armagnac, we see deep smooth red-brown patterns emerge, sometimes swirling contrast to the iron blue-gray, kindred color-spirits upon the old tool. Add a little 3-in-1 oil or WD-40, and back it goes on the rack, a-sheen I say, and ready for the next assignment.

Wanderlust 11:44 AM  

Loved everything about it, which seems to be a consensus. I’ve defended the much maligned PPP here before, and today is an example of how it helps me get into a puzzle with a lot of challenging (but delightful) clues. Instantly knew some names such as TONI, CARLE, ADAM and IVORY COAST (once I determined Cote d’Ivoire didn’t fit). I would have struggled more without them.

Too many wonderful clues and answers to list. IDAHO was my absolute favorite. Liked fresh clues for blah answers such as SRA and GAME. In both cases, I couldn’t wait to figure out what three letter or four letter word defined Evita and Othello. (I didn’t think it would be moor, which seems pejorative now.) Loved the “freeze” in the clue for ICY STARE and agree with Rex that The OGLE clue is the best ever.

Anoa Bob 11:45 AM  

On sailing ships of yore there were more ROPES than you could shake a stick at and it took new sailors quite some time before they knew all their names and what functions they had. With experience sailors "learned the ROPES".

Since many of yous have rightfully praised today's offering I don't have to say SORRY for pointing out that the grid fill did get significant help from the plural of convenience (POC) including several of the two-for-one variety where a Down and an Across share a final letter count boosting S at their ends as happens with DESSERT WINE/MOAT, PEN/HAIR & OGLE/ANT. Even the beloved DOOK gets a stealth two letter bump at 42 Down.

@Z, a brain connection is a SYNAPSE, not an AXON.

Smith 11:46 AM  

Threw in DEStinatIonS off the DES, so that took time to correct (having ...TWINES at one point didn't help), but still finished in near record Friday time, a lot (a ton?) faster than yesterday.

Amen to all kudos for Robyn; always know she'll give us a Real Winner (if @Pablo hasn't already said as much).

Wanderlust 11:47 AM  

I solve on the app and never see the constructor’s name until I finish. And I loved it.

sixtyni yogini 11:49 AM  

Hard to follow yesterday’s 🧩,(and it’s Friday) but still good.

Wanderlust 11:50 AM  

@Carola. I have the same impression you have about a fitting room being higher class than a Target dressing room. I think of a fitting room as having a tailor hovering nearby to take measurements in advance of altering the clothes to fit you.

Norm M 11:57 AM  

This one made me feel smarter than I am. Delightful indeed.

GILL I. 11:59 AM it's a cold and rainy days outside so I thought I'd tell you my SOUS Vide story....
First, for those not in the know, it's a cooking method using a vacuumed sealed package containing whatever protein or vegetable you want to cook. The machine is very pricy but you can use some other imagination to get a wonderful, juicy vacuum packed product.
We went camping many moons ago and our buddy brought chicken and hangar steaks for all of us. I asked him how on gofs green earth was he going to cook them. He smiled and said "You'll see." Time for dinner and he brings out a dead hen breast. (we don't do live ones). The chicken is sealed in a ziplock bag. He brings over his beer cooler and adds some very hot water from the kettle sitting on some wood embers. He has a little thermometer and says he wants it at around 140 degrees. He got it right the first time. He plops the breasts into his hot cooler, closes it tight and says "Dinner is at seven." It took about 2 1/2 hours but that was perfect because we all went canoeing.
We come back, pour some wine (no beer because the cooler was being used), sing Kumbaya and Travis pulls out the perfectly moist, tender chicken. He then puts the chicken on his hot cast iron pan to brown the sides. While we still singing about peace and holding hands and loving mankind, Travis serves up the chicken. IT WAS DELICIOUS....He did the same thing for the Hangar steaks. Lordy and then some, they were delicious.
Only one little drawback for other things that take longer, is that the beer cooler will start to cool down after about 3, you need something that will only take about 2 1/2 hours or less.
Et voila and bon appetite and food for thought and tummy.

pabloinnh 12:07 PM  

@Z-Just finished PB's New Yorker puzzle and was sort of looking for the answer you had in mind without looking for the actual clue. Thought I had it with 37A. Nope. I've heard 9D in the not too distant past and always just as PB clued it.

jb129 12:13 PM  

Robyn, you're killing me but I love it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:21 PM  

It is becomin kinda clear to M&A that the Weintraubmeister is takin over that there #1 chart position, for all yer NYTPuz FriPuzs. PB1 has faded into NYTPuz history, I fear.

Great themeless puz. Had lotsa MEAT. faves included: WARPDRIVE [debut]. CHOCOHOLIC [M&A prefers the term MOOSEMUNCHOHOLIC, right after Xmastime]. RISEANDSHINE. THATSSOYOU. CENSUS clue.

That ICANDOIT entry inspired M&A at first to come up with IMONITOK: All two-letters words. Like that wonkiness potential. A runt with "Two's Company" theme vibes will need to arise, copycat-style, soon.

staff weeject pick (of only 9 choices): OUI. All-vowel weejects are always cool to see. Also, it sounds like WEE, so immediate bonus points for that.

THanx for the THemeless THOU-THATS-THETA-THOR workout, Ms. Weintraub darlin.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

[IOU "Two's Company" runt.]

egsforbreakfast 12:21 PM  

33A and 34A could have used a combined clue of “propulsion method for Han”.


BTW, why didn’t @Lewis note that SOLOS is a palindrome?

How many of you knew that there is also a Filthy Martini? It apparently is made by jacking up the dirt level even higher. But if you ask your bartender for one, you might just get an ICYSTARE.

I’m just blabbering’ away here because I don’t have anything interesting to add to all of the accolades for this puzzle and this constructor in general. Thanks for a wonderful Friday, Robyn Weintraub.

puzzlehoarder 12:22 PM  

After a week of subpart difficulty it doesn't surprise me that we get the marshmallow lady on Friday. Surprisingly this one managed to just squeak into average Friday territory. Mainly this was do to some off cluing in the north for a slow start. Once started it was typical Weintraub fare. RISE AND SHINE, DOZEN ROSES apparently there are a lot of solvers who enjoy the pablum she pukes. I'm not one of them. Fridays can be so much more.

yd -0

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Re: WARPDRIVE vs WARPspeed, Speed(y) was the first word of the clue.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Patric Berry > Mark Zigterman

Smith 12:36 PM  

@Z agreed that 9D in PB NYer puzzle sounds a little elementary school, but more that than old-fashioned.

@Pablo some years ago I attended a 37A with my youngest son who was probably in 4th grade. He put together my outfit. Wow. Luckily I was a "tough chick" in jeans and a leather jacket or I wouldn't have been able to pull it off! Kid's an actor, saw it coming from when he was 3 or 4. Fun stuff.

Nancy 12:36 PM  

@JD and @Carola -- I don't think "fitting room" is especially "upper-class". In fact, years ago a male friend -- from a self-described lower-middle class Jewish background who's married to a "one-percent" Wasp from a Mayflower background on one side -- explained that it's the privileged classes that tend to use the blunt, un-gussied-up terms and not the lower classes. According to Larry, the upper-classes say "pants", not "trousers"; "couch" not "sofa"; "bathroom" not "restroom". Being privileged, he claims, means never needing to use euphemisms. Have no idea if he's right or not, but "fitting room" seems to fall into that category.

And, if "fitting room" is euphemistic, that's because nothing you take in there with you ever fits. Speaking as someone both vertically challenged and short-waisted, I always look at myself in a garment wondering: "Can the tailor solve this problem or can the tailor NOT solve this problem?" When I was, maybe, 14, my mother -- also short and short-waisted -- said to me: "Everything you ever buy in the future will have to be altered to fit you properly. That's also been true for me my whole life. Consider alterations to be part of the purchase price and don't anguish over it."

So that, and not regional or class considerations, is why I never call a dressing room a fitting room.

Mall Rat 12:37 PM  


mathgent 12:40 PM  

My favorite comments this morning.

kitshef (9:20)
Nancy (10:39)
Birchbark (11:39)
Anoa Bob (11:45)

Spot (Data's cat) 12:45 PM  

@egs. Nice try but WARPDRIVE is Star Trek and Han SOLO is Star Wars. Hyperdrive is the Star Wars term.

Whatsername 12:56 PM  

@Eniale (9:12) Enjoy the holiday. I hope it’s warm and sunny wherever you are. 😎

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

I bet on @Roo's HOuSE and uOPES was what sent me looking for a different metaphorical bit of knowledge.

I tried to give Babe a promotion to SHEpherd but couldn't think of any catamounts starting with H.

I felt like I was flailing after I left the NW but my time ended up at my Friday Weintraub average; I was happy to see her name at the top.

Along with the IDAHO clue, I circled 33A's clue, "Numbers not meant to be shared" for SOLOS as one of my favorites today. I was stymied with SOL_S in the grid and even considered the other way to pronounce numb-er in order to figure it out; SOLOS finally fell into place.

Thanks Robyn, always a treat.

And I was lucky not to strangle with laughter at @Nancy's Othello rumination.

okanaganer 1:18 PM  

My one experience with SOUS VIDE was a catered party at my niece's house. The Chef explained how it worked, and when he said the cooking temperature was 140° I thought: oh neat, he uses Celsius. Imagine setting your oven to 140° F!

I love the way new words proudly show their ancient bones. CHOCOHOLIC alongside NONAPOLOGY. The latter could conceivably, from the ancient Greek, mean: the study of 9-faced solids?

[Spelling Bee: yd pg -2; never seen this word.]

What? 1:28 PM  

Robin needs to donate her brain to SETI (after she passes [poker bids] ). There must be some weird synapses there unavailable to mere mortals. If most of us (maybe all) have just ordinary earth brains, perhaps saying I CAN DO IT makes us OGLE.

Tim Carey 1:44 PM  

Rex used to base is ratings on the day of the week and the time it took to finish it. So he completed an "easy/medium" in a little less time than his average (we know he is very fast).

For my part. I would say this must have been an easy puzzle because I was able to finish. I rarely can do a Friday and routinely DNF regardless of the day of the week. Thinking about the so-called PPP were incredibly easy. So far nobody has complained about any of it.

Joe Dipinto 2:01 PM  

DOZEN ROSES without A or ONE etc. in front is a ridiculous answer.

"Detective, what have we got here?"

"Another rosebush murder. The victim was made to look like it overdosed on chocolate."

"What kind of sicko does in roses?"

"Wait, the killer left a note." (Unfolds a piece of paper) "It says 'CAW!' Then there's a web link. Let's check it out."

They look at the video.

"Oh my God, it wasn't just one murderer, it was a murder of murderers!"

"So it appears. That's weird—what are all those ants doing in the corner? They look familiar. Go find out if they saw anything."

Masked and Anonymous 2:17 PM  


Sorta blatantly copycatted from NO GO, ME AT, and SO US, from out of today's NYT puz.

Twos Company:

M&A Dupe Desk

egsforbreakfast 2:29 PM  

@ Joe DiPinto. Have you no PRIDE? Or is something more LION in wait for us?

What? 2:47 PM  

@What? Funny response.

bennys 3:49 PM  

Am I the only one who didn’t like “pens” for “they can be felt”? A felt “tipped” pen, is a thing, for sure, but a felt pen would be very messy indeed.

Joe Dipinto 4:01 PM  

@egs – I see you are fishing for more info. That's so you.

–-Risean D'Shine

Eniale 4:22 PM  

@Okanoganer - I agree 100% about that WEIRD word. But not surprised at its meaning when I double-clicked the answer.

@ Whatsername - thanks so much; it was the devil's own job getting here what with the changed covid-free certification required by USVI govt (from 5 days down to 3 days, 3 days from departure!) but it's delightful.

Please someone explain 19D - what has SCRAP to do with legal tender?

Joe Dipinto 4:54 PM  

@Eniale - it's SCRIP (autocorrect mishap I assume), and it's exactly what the clue says: a note or piece of paper which in some situations can be used in place of actual currency.

– I. Cystare

(Don't mind me, I'm trying on different names for size.)

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

I struggled with names I didn't know (TONI, ERIN, LAMAR, CARLE, ISAK, ADAM) and literary references that were not familiar to me (SHEEPDOG, MUSE(clue), TIGERLILY, THOR(clue), EZRA, FRIAR, LIMITEDRUN (non-NYer)) so I needed the crosses more than ever, and finally ended with one wrong square - the cross of TONY/ERYN.

Zed 5:25 PM  

Rex asked constructors on Twitter about checking themes. The answers are diverse.

estraumanis 6:18 PM  

Robyn Weintraub Friday, on my birthday! The unexpected presents are the best!

Ben 7:06 PM  

"'GOT ONE!'... implies you are supposed to find many of the same things"

It really doesn't, though. "Got one!" as in "I got one of the items on the list!" There's no implication that all the things are the same

albatross shell 7:36 PM  

Ditto mostly. Amazing clues. Screwed on the PPP a bit. Didn't really care cause you know it's HER. Wasn't on her wave length as much as usual. Kept having to remind myself it's HER. The clues aren't off just askew.

Yeah saw the extenders, but didn't care cause you know.
Also found this from the same great god Wiki:
"A single axon, with all its branches taken together, can innervate multiple parts of the brain and generate thousands of synaptic terminals. A bundle of axons make a nerve tract in the central nervous system,[4] and a fascicle in the peripheral nervous system. In placental mammals the largest white matter tract in the brain is the corpus callosum, formed of some 200 million axons in the human brain.[4]"

Didn't understand that anymore than the synapse article but sure makes it sound like axons are a necessary and essential part of the path to the brain.
And if you have to get this technical or more to prove the clue is wrong then I don't care cause you know...
Well maybe not really but for blog purposes cause you know.

albatross shell 7:46 PM  

@Smith late yesterday.
It is M&A's puzzles I can't get to work on my phone. I haven't downloaded acrosslite. The links are in most of his posts. Copied the 7x7 by pencil and solved. The NYTCW is no problem.

albatross shell 7:48 PM  

And thanks for trying.

Space Is Deep 8:02 PM  

This puzzle must have been on my wavelength. I finished it in les time than it took me to eat lunch, which shocked me. I’ve had Wednesday puzzles I couldn’t finish while eating. Easily one of my fastest Friday puzzles ever.

JD 8:26 PM  

@Nancy, Agree on the store/dressing room, tailor/fitting room. All my real clothes needed tailoring.

Zed 9:32 PM  

Big Crossworld Music News.

Claire 11:00 AM  

A dirty martini has a bit of olive brine mixed in.

Claire 11:02 AM  

I entered nAME, which rendered the down as nOT ONE, which sounded reasonable to me. I mean, if the Air France one was simply OUI,why not have Othello just as a name?

Sandra Davis 9:50 AM  

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thefogman 11:34 AM  

See? It can be done. A totally enjoyable and challenging puzzle with no junk. The NYT needs to publish more puzzles from excellent consturctors like Robyn Weintraub.

Burma Shave 11:57 AM  


if YOU’ve GOTONE more, I’m GAME, silly,


spacecraft 12:15 PM  

When my only complaint is that it's too easy for the day, we've got a good one. Lots of in-the-language, conversational stuff that just flows like syrup. No wonder, with RW at the helm.

I had one solving hiccup when I went with COINtoss. Well, you know, it was a COINFLIP, literally. Some very clever cluing tried to add some teeth to this one, but they were only baby teeth. The SORRY/NONAPOLOGY pair was amusing. DOD can be none other than Robyn Weintraub herself. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Enjoyable, challenging puzzle cut unnecessarily short by the inclusion of foreign language/food, and unknown personalities. Pity - I wanted to keep going, but they could not be worked around.

leftcoaster 3:10 PM  

Has anyone here ever heard of Robyn Weintraub?

thefogman 3:56 PM  


leftcoaster 4:13 PM  

@thefogman --- inre: RW, irony intended.

Diana, LIW 5:14 PM  

Any puzzle that begins with ACNE is certain to be popping with stuff a CHOCOHOLIC (like me) will have fun with.

Met RW at ACPT. Will we ever puzzle in person again instead of all of life being SOLOS?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for crosswords

William Talley 2:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
William Talley 2:24 PM  
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