Jazz great Laine / FRI 5-13-22 / Actress Sink of Stranger Things / Facts-as-fiction work / Costume that might start with a cardboard box / Blue book alternative / Word from the Dutch to talk nonsense / Didn't come through as promised in slang

Friday, May 13, 2022

Constructor: Brooke Husic and Nam Jin Yoon

Relative difficulty: Challenging 

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SADIE Sink (54A: Actress Sink of "Stranger Things") —
Sadie Elizabeth Sink (born April 16, 2002) is an American actress and model. She portrayed Max Mayfield in the Netflix television series Stranger Things and Ziggy Berman in the Netflix horror film trilogy Fear Street. Sink has also worked on Broadway, with credits including Annie and The Audience. She also starred in Taylor Swift's All Too Well: The Short Film. (wikipedia)
• • •

These are two of my favorite constructors, so yes, I liked this puzzle. But I knew, or had a feeling, just from seeing their bylines that it was going to be hard. Brooke in particular has a penchant for making very hard puzzles (try one of her "experimental/challenging" puzzles here, at her puzzle site, if you dare). Anyway, I wasn't wrong—this was a Saturday, for sure. It made me think about what I like in a Friday vs. what I like in a Saturday. I guess it does basically come down to difficulty, but it's also sensation, which is to say, I like the whoosh whoosh feeling, the flow, the feeling of pure delight in zipping from section to section on a Friday. I like the puzzle to be clever, but in a generous way. In short, I'm just not so amenable to the all-over struggle on a Friday. On a Saturday, I expect it, and I enjoy it, especially when the struggle has big payoff (as today's puzzle does, here there and everywhere). But I had no sense of flow today. There were very few places where I was able to pick up any momentum. It felt like  almost Every clue had some element of misdirection. You lay off some of the clues in a Friday. You can hit 'em all on Saturday. This is my deeply personal and highly impressionistic take on the ideal Friday/Saturday distinction, off the top of my head, at 5:17 in the morning. You don't have to say "AMEN TO THAT." Or you can. Your choice.

What's good? Well, it's all good. I don't have all day. Usually, the highlights jump right out, so it's clear to me what's worth writing about. Today? Yeesh, close your eyes and drop your finger anywhere on the grid and you've got something. Here, let me try that exact strategy ... dang, I hit a black square, but it's near the bottom of HORSE RACES and "AMEN TO THAT!"—a fine pairing. I struggled with HORSE RACES even with HORSE in place because I thought the "stakes" were actual, material stakes (the kind of you put in the ground, like ... posts! Dammit, that's what I was thinking of. Posts! But no, "stakes" is just a name for a race, like the Belmont Stakes. I assume. Horse-racing, not my bailiwick. If you scoot one answer over from "AMEN TO THAT!" you get BOOTY CALL, which ... feels weirdly dated to me, now, as a concept, but man, what a clue (27D: Summons before congress?). Best "?" clue in the bunch. And crossing ADULT SITE, LOL, nice (52A: Blue book alternative) ("blue" has the sense of "erotic" here). I loved CRUSH HARD, though mostly I'm just proud I got CRUSH HARD. The HARD was a guess, but it sounded right to my ear, and it was, hurray! I liked PLAY HOOKY, which was one of the few places today where I saw *right* through the clue—being a college professor surely helped (7D: One way to avoid a lecture). The long hits keep coming with WEIRDS OUT, "ANY TAKERS?," etc. The hardest long answer for me was definitely ROMAN À CLEF (13A: Facts-as-fiction work). I was braced for anything there. Thought maybe it would be a specific work, or else some modern coinage dealing with, say, a subset of fanfic or other bit of onlinery that I was unfamiliar with. But no, not modern, old, and French. A very familiar (to me) literary genre. Just very hard to parse. 

More things:
  • 9A: Creatures with asymmetrical ears for accuracy in hunting (OWLS) — me: ORCS
  • 18A: World's best-selling contemporary female artist of all time, per Billboard magazine (DION) — as in "Celine." Bizarrely hard for me. I guess Celine now seems "bygone" to me, not "contemporary."
  • 34A: Trinket (TCHOTCHKE) — huge spelling victory for me
  • 17A: "Join the club!" ("AREN'T WE ALL?") — weirdly, very weirdly, the first thing I wanted here, given the crosses that I had in place, was "AMEN TO THAT!" (see 3D)
  • 43A: Data head? (CIO) — Chief Information Officer (I have to keep reminding myself about the meaning of every C-O that is not a CEO)
  • 55A: Say goodbye to many a 34-Across à la Marie Kondo (DECLUTTER) — the CLUTTER part was easy, but I went with UN-. That SW corner got a little tricky. Not sure it was such a good idea to put "Say" in this clue when the answer sits right on top of SAY (57A: Destiny Child's "___ My Name"). But most people probably didn't notice.
  • 1D: Newmark with an eponymous list (CRAIG) — totally forgot about this guy until someone reminded me of him literally yesterday. And bam, here he is. The universe is manifesting! (I have no idea what I mean, please don't ask)
  • 4D: Word from the Dutch for "talk nonsense" (RANT) — You: "Hmm, is it RANT or RAVE?" Me: "... EDAM?"
  • 5D: "Claws" channel (TNT) — ban all TV channels, especially basic cable channels starting with "T." I just can't any more.  
  • 36D: What a bee may be (CONTEST) — this is oddly phrased. "Bee" can mean "contest." But if you say "a bee" there is some idea that you have already determined what the bee is that you're discussing and that you are therefore looking for some feature *of* that bee. But if you had a (say) spelling bee in mind all along, then that ... is by definition a CONTEST ... so the "may be" feels wrong. Essentially, the clue is saying "Hey ... psst ... bee! ... do you know what kind of bee I'm talking about?" or "What can the word 'bee' mean?" Would've liked this clue better as [Bee, for one]. Less disingenuous. 
  • 53D: Card display? (STL) — sorry to all the non-sportsers out there. This one probably hurt a little (the St. Louis Cardinals (or "Cards," if you like) are repped by the letters STL on scoreboards and on their caps sometimes)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I like the diagonal mirror symmetry on this one. Took me a while to notice it.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian in SLC 6:18 AM  


I. Love. This. Crossword.

On my shortlist for POY.

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

Just wanted to say "Summons before Congress" is probably the best clue in the last several years.

Joaquin 6:23 AM  

Looks like The Grey Lady is turning a bit blue in her old age. Love it!

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

I’m with Brian in SLC. Such an excellent puzzle, incredibly fun Friday fare!

pabloinnh 7:09 AM  

A terrific Friday, made even better by the fact that I think I found it easier than OFL, which happens almost exactly never. Aside from never having heard of the CRAIG guy and being unfamiliar with the CRUSHHARD phrase, everything else was at least inferable. My only real write over was TVSET for ROBOT, since I went to school on Halloween when I was in second grade or so disguised as a TV Set, and of course my costume started with a big cardboard box.

Agree with OFL that spelling TCHOTCHKE correctly was a big relief.

I think doing the Acrostic for so long is very helpful in puzzles like this with a lot of longer phrases, you begin to see what the words are going to be after a few letters.

ROMANACLEF, LAYABOUTS, even the clue for OWLS, and a lot of great other stuff. Very nicely done indeed, BH and NJY. Brought Happiness. Nice Job You. Fridazo! , and thanks for all the fun.

SouthsideJohnny 7:16 AM  

Wow, you’ve got your TCHOTCHKE crossing your BOOTY CALL crossing an ADULT SITE. Not sure if there is an inside joke that slid past the editorial staff, or if the NYT is intentionally expanding its recent embrace of let’s just say “low brow” material.

Good stuff abounded all around the grid, although ROMAN A CLEF was very tough for me and CRUSH HARD seemed a little forced. Very fine Friday effort, and a little on the racy side to boot !

Conrad 7:43 AM  

I looked at the byline and groaned. I have trouble with Husic and Nam individually, but together they visited my wheelhouse. I knew ROMAN A CLEF and the Craigslist guy and I guessed correctly at SADIE. My only issue was overthinking the clue for 51D, "-" In Thursday-ish puzzles that may mean "continued from another place". So after RAISE became obvious for the first part of 50A I tried RAISE a ruckuS. That was quickly rectified with MEDIA (45D) and confirmed by TRIMS (56A). Fun Friday!

Z 7:44 AM  

You: "Hmm, is it RANT or RAVE?" Me: "... EDAM?" 🤣😆🤣😆🤣

Pretty much what Rex said in difficulty. This was a typical @Zed Friday time from a decade ago. This should have been one of today’s videos, though.

Had a longer comment that’s gone now. I know you’re all saddened that I can’t recover it.

Lewis 7:45 AM  

So many things bring me joy in crosswords. They can evoke memories, trigger delight, elicit amazement, spur effort, bring fulfillment. There seem to be things in every NYT puzzle to prize. Every here and there a puzzle comes along, though – a cornucopia puzzle – that oozes with a surfeit of stellar qualities, that stands apart, radiating, sparkling, a puzzle I can point to as the answer to why I love crosswords.

Today’s for instance, which sent me on a faith solve, where the first run-through yielded stark-white paucity, but where deep down I knew that persistence would open enough cracks to yield more. Where dribs and drabs followed, then a sudden splash of fill-in, only to run into a stubborn quadrant, forcing more faith, and, finally, completion. Crosswords as odyssey.

A grid exuding interest – ROMAN A CLEF, ANY TAKERS, TCHOTCHKE, DECLUTTER, WEIRDS OUT, LOOSE ENDS, LAYABOUTS. Exuding cleverness and trickery in cluing – [Two cents for a paper, perhaps], [They may be tied up in a sequel], and the world-class [Summons before congress?] – wows and hahs. A grid with so little staleness that it resonated with beauty.

A rich, glorious experience. You brought it today, Brooke Husic and Nam Jin Yoon. I did so love this one. Thank you!

KJH 7:46 AM  

Loved this puzzle! I guess I was on the constructors’ wavelength, because my time was quicker than my average for a Friday, without any cheats. My only stumbling block was 1D: I thought maybe the business publisher Crain’s had some kind of list à la the Fortune 500, and CRAIn left nET for 22A, which was at least defensible. Took me a while to find that.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

Got through this with after going astray with a couple of reasonably wrong answers, like LAzyBOneS instead of LAYABOUTS as an answer to 34A, loafers

Pamela 7:50 AM  

A quilting bee is not a contest.

Son Volt 7:54 AM  

Handsome looking grid - low trivia and only a few 3’s. Didn’t have as much struggle as Rex - all the ?’s were on my wavelength. All around I think we’ve seen better from both of these constructors but this was a fine puzzle.

Liked ANY TAKERS and the BOOTY CALL x ADULT SITE cross. The lower case congress was top notch. Other stuff didn’t sparkle for me - TCHOTCHKE, CRUSHED HARD and the Marie Kondo duo was pressed as was including sententious in a clue.

I took a modern literature class as a senior in HS years ago and can still remember our teacher describing Dharma Bums as a ROMAN À CLEF - the term always stuck with me. Around the same time - these guys were out to RAISE a little HELL

Enjoyable Friday solve.

Dr.A 8:21 AM  

As I was doing this puzzle I kept thinking “oh, good one!” And “Rex will love this! “ Lol, great way to start a day.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

I did exactly the same. Took me a second to realize it was CRAIG since NET seemed like an OK answer for “Snag.”

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Good for a Friday. Challenging but solvable. Nice work. First thought was TRIPLECROWN for 2D but no fit. Then foolishly tried RELAYRACES. Finally arrived at right answer.

Mr. Cheese 8:49 AM  

I must be slow (slower) today. Pls explain “bootycall” = Summons before Congress

JD 8:58 AM  

Two constructors with less than 20 published NYT puzzles between them, all Friday/Saturday, two POWs from Jeff Chen, and praise from the biggest crab in crossworld. Way to go.

First pass through, thought I was toast. But eventually gained a toehold in the SW and the puzzle experience kicked in. Then it was just wow-look-at-that on every answer. It flowed in that "are they thinking Booty Call!" way and they were!

Favorite answer was Roman à Clef, which at a first sent Bildungsroman through my head in a hazy soup of its own. Have heard the term without ever thinking about what it meant. Primary Colors is a great one.

Yes, Puzzle of the Year.

daveyhead 9:05 AM  

This is almost surely the first time I blew through a puzzle that Rex thought was challenging. I’ll bet it never happens again. :)

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

@Pamela: But a spelling bee is...

Suzy 9:19 AM  

@Pamela— true, but a spelling bee is!

Thanks to Husic and Yoon for a delightfully tough,, but fair, Friday puzzle!
After 18A, would have preferred 19A to be “cares,”. but that’s just me being snarky! Loved learning about owls’ ears!!!

Harry 9:20 AM  

I love it! This is the first time in as very long time where I find both Rex (OFL) and @Lewis nailed every essence of this puzzle (and are largely on the same wavelength!)

Similar solving experience to @Lewis: First pass and all I filled was KID. Yet, the cluing seemed very approachable; I just needed to dig hard and grind a bit. Not that the solve was a "grind" in the full sense of the word ... close to every answer that I revealed was a source of mirth or delight. The construction was one of utter subtlety and finesse!

I don't think my brow relaxed at any point during the solve. I felt as if were I to let my concentration lapse for a minute, the task at hand would be a loss. So, it was that I was very surprised to see that my ultimate solve time was 20% below my typical Friday. (very restrained PPP was key)

The fact that I was able to push through the grid to success in a single steady, relatively fast-paced effort inclines me to rate the puzzle merely as "MEDIUM" hard for a Friday. Yet the intense concentration involved suggests a full on "HARD". ("CHALLENGING"? ... Nah)

OffTheGrid 9:21 AM  

skip class before PLAYHOOKY


Drummed-up measures?/RHYTHMS, superfluous "?"

Have never heard of RANT having a "nonsense" meaning. A rant could be nonsense but that's not what RANT means


This was a pretty good Friday but too many flaws be top level.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Great puzzle today.

Everyone's gushing about the BOOTY CALL clue today, and I don't understand it - can anyone explain? I solved it with crosses last night and was curious what I was missing in the clue - but now that everyone is praising it and I still don't get it, it's driving me crazy!

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

No, but a spelling be certainly is. And the clue said the bee “may” be this.

bocamp 9:24 AM  

Thx, Brooke & Nam Jin Yoon, for this beaut! :)


Pretty crunchy offering; lots to chew on!

Good start in the NW, down and around finishing in the NE with SSN.

Only hitch was LAzyBOneS before LAYABOUTS. PLAY HOOKY & PREACHIER got that sorted out.

Think I've finally got BTS down pat.

TCHOTCHKE is always fun.

Very enjoyable romp! :)
yd: Duo: 35/37 (one wrong guess on the last word)

Phrazle 48: 2/6 (spent time off and on during the day; finally clicked late aft.)

🟪⬜ ⬜🟪🟩⬜ ⬜⬜ ⬜⬜🟪🟨🟪
🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Peace 🙏 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Dan A 9:25 AM  

Wonderful Friday! Still smiling 😊

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

@Pamela. Nobody mentioned quilting.

The Joker 9:28 AM  


Rube 9:30 AM  

I don't understand 27d. It took awhile to come off HOUSECALL which makes much more sense even though I guess you would need a capital C. That slowed me down and caused me to question TCHOTCHKE, which is of course Yiddish and is spelled using non translatable Hebrew characters. This word should not be in crosswords.

Also CRAIN and NET.

Rachel 9:35 AM  

I liked this one! Hard, but not as hard for me as yesterday's was, because the answers make more sense.

I liked booty call! Loved the clue, and don't think booty call is passe. I figured the clue referred to sex but couldn't figure out how the summons would be phrased, and when I figured out it was booty call, that was better than I thought it would be.

It took me forever to get play hooky, because right away I thought the answer was skip class. I still don't understand the blue book clue. To me, the Bluebook is the book of uniform legal citation. I knew it wouldn't be that, and I figured out adult site, but still have no idea what blue book refers to.

The Marie Kondo clue was a little hard for me, because the fact that the clue specified "say goodbye" made me think of her process, where you actually do say goodbye to your things by thanking them for your service and then either donating them or throwing them away. So I was way too specific on that one, misled by the clue.

Finally, I'm getting sick of seeing amen and variations of amen in the crossword. So I wasn't a huge fan of amen to that. It's like, literally every day.

But overall this was a great puzzle!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:36 AM  

BOOTY CALL as Summons before Congress? Everybody is saying how great it is. I did get the answer, but I have not a clue why.

Carola 9:38 AM  

Tough and terrific. Apart from a few of the shorter answers I knew, solving this one was a square-by-square CONTEST and a real pleasure of a brain-racker, considering all of the wonderful answers. My favorites: LAYABOUTS, ROMAN A CLEF, PREACHIER, TCHOTCHKE - and not to forget the "congress" clue.

Help from previous puzzles: the fairly recent BOOTY CALL. Help from having relatives who served in the Peace Corps: CHAD. Slowed down by: not trusting CHART, SPF, and NO TAKERS right off the bat. New to me: CRUSH HARD. No idea: SADIE. Can't remember for the life of me: BTS.

Thank you, @Brooke Husic and @Nam Jin Yoon - I'm eager to take on your next one.

RooMonster 9:42 AM  

Hey All !
Further Declining Brain Syndrome - wondering why the grid looked funky, not realizing it was Diagonal Symmetry until reading Rex. Dang.

Tough puz here. Got through without cheating, but ended up with a two-letter DNF. Rats. First one CRAIn/nET. NET is defensible, but CRAIn for CRAIG is just bone-headed. Of course, CRAIGslist. Sheesh. Other one was CIm/CLEm. CLEO unknown to me (unsophistication...), so CLEm was just as good. But another bone-head miss on CIO. Realized it once I erased the M. Definite head-slap on those two.

Some nice clues today. Chuckled at WEIRDS OUT, haven't heard that in a minute. Who the hell came up with the spelling of TCHOTCHKE? They should be head-slapped! 😁 Speaking of hell, had RAISEcain there first.

Never heard of ROMAN A CLEF, didn't even know how to parse it. Pronounced it as one word, ROW-MAN-A-CLEFF. Worked for me...

BTS, har, where's Claire? Could've cross-referenced that with BOYS, and KID. Or BOOTY CALL for all the CRUSH HARD fans like Claire. Oh, behave! I'll try to be less sententious next time. 😁

yd -5, should'ves 2
Duo 34 (nice!) Missed 1-8 (first word only missed first letter! Twice now I've almost got a first-worder)

Three F's

Tom T 9:49 AM  

Funny how these things go--when the first three Across clues yielded nada, I scanned the Downs 1 through 12. And LOOSE ENDS fell, then SSN, then OWLS, then LEOS, then OLDEN, then ... and so it went, pretty much- resulting in one of my fastest Fridays.

The final hold up for me was in the TCHOTCHKE/CLEO/CIO combo.

Given the clue, Data head?, I think CIO in this instance is Chief Information Officer, not Chief Investment Officer.

Happy to recognize ROMANACLEF from the dusty vaults of academia past!

When all the LOOSE ENDS were tied up, I RATED this one "Top of the CHART." It even included my initials as the answer to 5D: TNT. AMEN TO THAT!

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

A rarity for me - found this to be in the easy side. I often DNF on Fridays as a relative newbie but made it through with just a need to see how tchotchkes is spelt.

But like a few others, I don’t get the “booty call” clueing …

Ride the Reading 10:02 AM  

For those asking about Summons before congress - note these definitions gleaned from the web. And that the "c" is not capitalized.

1 a the act or action of coming together and meeting
b coitus

And then there's this, in a Google search that cites Oxford Languages:
4 the action of coming together

Sorry, where was I?

Joe Dipinto 10:02 AM  

I ended up feeling this was kind of dull – the answers themselves are not that interesting so it resorts to cluing gimmickry. The ?-clue is so overused now that it just induces eyerolls. I'd like a cap of three per puzzle. (*None* would be nice once in awhile.) This one has five, plus two in the form of spoken questions. With that many some will invariably be clunkers, and today's prize goes to 44a, which seems to think it's being a pun on something. Did they confuse it with "trumped-up charges"?

It's like a cliche example of what the Times puzzle has become: conversational snippets, an "edgy" answer or two, and supposedly witty clues that often fall flat.

Phrazle 49: 2/6
🟨🟩⬜⬜ ⬜⬜⬜🟪 ⬜🟩⬜⬜⬜⬜

🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 as

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Agreed - brilliant. :)

Beezer 10:09 AM  

Great tough puzzle and I felt the same way about my solving experience as @Rex related about his. HAH! I ended in a DNF because I put in NET for GET and had CRAIN…what, no Crain’s List? 🤣

From what I can tell @Pamela was responding to what @Rex said about “bees”, not whether the clue is appropriate.

I finally got PLAYHOOKY but I tend to think that lectures don’t begin until college and not where you are “stuck” in classrooms all day unless you stay home all day sick OR play hooky. After high school it was called “skipping class.”

Nancy 10:10 AM  

I was in the Depths of Despond and had to cheat on SADIE to finish this bear. Then, finally, I could complete the SE. I was so hopelessly stuck there.

Alas, while I got the baseball "Cards" clue, I put them in Atlanta (ATL) and not St. Louis (STL). They had been in STL in the years I watched baseball, but I thought they had moved to ATL -- mixing them up with the Braves who did move to Atlanta subsequent to my baseball-watching years, but from Milwaukee.

Got all that, everyone? So I ended up with a DNF, but that wasn't the worst of it. Worse was staring at ADULT aIdE and wondering what the hell it was. (The D was also wrong: I had CODED before RATED for "Given a number, maybe." And what I'd really wanted for that answer was PRE-OP. Anyway, I finally worked my way to ADULT AITE, which was even sillier.)

Complaint: That's a pretty puny looking "minus sign" at 51D, NYT! It's about half as long as it should be. No mathematician would accept it. Perhaps no mathematician would even be able to see it. I wrote in DASH before I finally changed it to LESS. Can anyone blame me?

A really, really tough puzzle with all its considerable challenge in the fiendish cluing. I loved it.

Andrew Heinegg 10:13 AM  

The trick to getting the answer to this clue is to note that the c in congress is not capitalized. Congress has a secondary meaning of coming together, which could be sexually, i.e., a booty call.

Pete 10:18 AM  

@All - Sexual congress. Small 'C' congress. You make your booty call before sexual congress.

I (mistakenly) knew that this was a Brooke Husic puzzle 1/4 of the way in - I had nothing but a few token gimmes. The clueing seemed 100% hers. Shows you what I know. Anyway, great puzzle, at a Saturday- / Friday+++ difficulty level, but when it's this good, who cares.

Mary McCarty 10:21 AM  

As your comments indicate, you folks having a problem with 27 down didn’t notice that “congress” did not have a capital C*(I didn’t either, at first) so were thinking about that LAYABOUT group in DC. “Sexual congress” is a polite term for “f#*@ing”, which may be summoned by a BOOTY CALL. Just thought I’d (sorta)spell it out for y’all.
* I’m slowly learning this misdirect…things like bill vs Bill, apple vs Apple, etc.

jae 10:23 AM  

Medium-tough. Starting off with angie before CRAIG was not a good thing. My other not so good thing was cain before HELL. A terrific Friday, liked it a bunch! The fact that this one did not get POW means tomorrow’s....

mbr 10:25 AM  

For those still trying to understand BOOTY CALL, the clue is "Summons before congress" and not "Summons before Congress" - with (lower case) congress meaning " the act of sexual procreation between a man and a woman".

Mike in Bed-Stuy 10:25 AM  

@Mr. Cheese 8:49 AM @Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:36 AM - Note that the "c" in "congress" is lower case. As in "sexual congress." Summons, i.e. calling on someone for some purpose. Thus, [Summons before congress?] = hitting someone up for a sexual hookup. Voilà.

Whatsername 10:32 AM  

Well this is what happens when you get not one but two excellent constructors working together. A puzzle so enjoyable that - like a really good ROMAN A CLEF - you want to go back to the beginning and start again. So many great entries but RAISE HELL and PLAY HOOKY were favorites. Seems we’ve seen BOOTY CALL before but that clue though! It needs to go in a Crossword Hall of Fame if there is one.

My salon hair was RINSED and then CURLED before getting STYLED. Duh. Had to look UP Marie Kondo but didn’t need to know in order to get DECLUTTER which I’ve recently been attempting in a CRUDE version of spring cleaning. So far it’s not going too well so I think maybe I need to consult her.

Going now to see if I can find a Wordle game which will accept TCHOTCHKE. I’m betting not. ANY TAKERS?

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Concur Gray Lady has scent of Blue in this and other recent puzzles. Is this necessary?

Raven Starkly 10:39 AM  

You've never heard of Craig's List?

bocamp 10:53 AM  

BOOTYCALL / sexual congress:

"As relationships go, booty calls don't get the most respect, but at least they're getting researched. A new study finds that booty-call relationships — late night calls to arrange a sexual rendezvous — are marked by less emotion than long-term partnerships but more sexual variety than one-night stands." (Stephanie Pappas, NBC News)
SB: (g: 10.50; pg: 15.53; 0: 18.31) / W: 3*

Peace 🙏 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TJS 10:57 AM  

It might help some of you if you would quit capitalizing "Congress". The puzzle clue doesn't. So it's kind of luring yoy away from your first take. But if you have never been involved in a booty call, I can see the problem.

Well, I dont have to worry about "no POW" concerns. In fact, "Best of the Year" for me. I feel like @Lewis about this one. And Rex ! Had the same experience as some others have noted, starting with my reaction to the NW corner, which ended up being the last area I solved. But that great "wavelength" vibe appeared after a few minutes and I ended up with a big grin on my face. That hasn't happened in a while.

"Bats" before "owls" and guessed "tchotchke" from the "chk" but needed all the crosses to get the spelling. I think this puzzle could fill all ten spots on @Lewis list this week by itself.

GILL I. 10:59 AM  

I'm glad I decided to pop in today.... If only to say this was probably the best Friday I've done in ages.
I haven't read @Rex yet nor anybody else because I didn't want to read about anyone raining on my parade.
The puzzles, lately, have seemed boring to me. The write-ups and some of the comments on anything but the puzzle we are supposed to be commenting on, were a bit too harsh and unwanted for me.
but all's well that ends well with this Friday.
I have never heard of ROMANACLEF, but boy I was determined to figure this one out. I did not have to sit in a corner and suck my thumb. I just needed to think...and think hard with the downs.
What did you like? you ask. EVERY SINGLE ENTRY AND CLUE. That's what. My spelling is atrocious but TCHOTCHKE reared its beautiful head...one letter at a time.
I had one cheat. I've never heard of SADIE Sink. I almost wish I hadn't caved in. I wanted to do this without help. I couldn't finish without SADIE.
Did anybody else have ADULT PORN? No? Just me?

mathgent 11:20 AM  

Happy to see Rex picture Primary Colors as a ROMANACLEF. Wonderful book, even more wonderful movie.

I was trying to think of other examples. The internet suggests The Bell Jar and The Sun Also Rises. They are different from Primary Colors because the real-life character is the author. Can anyone think of other books like Primary Colors?

Hartley70 11:24 AM  

I agree that this was a fun-filled Friday, but I was surprised that Rex found it difficult. I pondered a bit before I got BOOTYCALL, but the small c tipped me off. The only answers where crosses were essential were CRAIG and SADIE. I’m giving this a relatively easy Friday challenge with extra points for clever cluing.

Newboy 11:27 AM  

Both these constructors call for one’s A game& today’s grid shows why. Another of those rare days when Rex & @Lewis align and the clouds part revealing …..etc.

I joined @Jae with Angie in that Northwestern corner & held out for an embarrassingly long time. Full doofus head smack when CRAIG finally rescued me which opened my eyes to ROMAN Á CLEF; perhaps it is time to remove the leather elbow patches from my English Teacher Uniform?

Nancy 11:31 AM  

Phrazle 49: 2/6
⬜⬜⬜🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩 ⬜🟪⬜⬜🟩🟩

🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

A note from yeserday's first Phrazle where I said I wouldn't post my result because the color of the squares would give too much away. Here's why. The squares were -- -----.

The answer was ON POINT. My second guess, alas, was NO POINT -- a phrase I use much more often. In fact, I don't think I've ever once said ON POINT. First, I'm not a ballet dancer or ballet watcher. Second, I would say: "Let's keep to the subject" or "Can't we stay on the subject?" Never ON POINT.

You would have seen both of my first two letters in orange if I'd posted my result. There is no other two-letter pair other than NO/ON that could have produced that result.

Whatsername 11:33 AM  

I think I’m finally figuring this game out.

Phrazle 49: 1/6
🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Marc 11:34 AM  

As a certified Dutch person I had no idea about RANT - it certainly isn’t very contemporary Dutch - 16th century I read now. Dutch has moved on it seems. So no help at all to me (nor to anyone else it seems).

egsforbreakfast 11:34 AM  

I’ve heard of a clochard, a bastard, a mallard but never a CRUSHHARD. Is it another term for grape stomper?

If you PLAYHOOKY from a lecture in prison, you may flunk the CONTEST.

My minor flu symptoms are likely PRE ACHIER ones.

Great fun doing this puzzle. Thanks Brooke Husic and Nam Jin Yoon.

sixtyni yogini 11:40 AM  

Good crit, 🦖! Guess because I agree.
And now I know how to spell “ chotskas” if I can remember… (knew it was the answer tho 🤗)
The easier (for me) clues gave entry to the whole… but was never going to figure out how to spell the answer to clue: trinkets!
Shall DECLUTTER my brain of TCHOTCHKE s now. 😂 Thanks Marie!

Victory Garden 11:56 AM  

I usually struggle hard with Fridays/Saturdays but this one was right in my wheelhouse and I literally finished in 7-something with no autocheck! I didn't get the Bee thing but it also filled in with crosses. I was glad Sadie was just Sadie and nothing less common like (Samie? Sarie?). Knew Criagslist immediately having lived down the street from his office in the Sunset. It just all went great!

Nancy 11:57 AM  

Wow, @Whatsername!!! Way to go, girl!

old timer 12:05 PM  

I join in the general praise. For my part, Saturdays are almost always easier than Fridays, if you are the kind of person who often gets trivial Jeopardy clues right that the champs get wrong. (Except for the current champ, who is apparently flawless).

I loved ROMAN A CLEF. We Americans pronounce the last word the same as the musical clef. But don't the French pronounce it like our "clay"?

Yeah, BOOTY CALL would never have been in the puzzle of old. Liked it all the same. But also, BOOTY equals ass (as in piece of), and in the olden days, an ass was a beast of burden. Jesus rode one into Jerusalem, in the Bible.

Beezer 12:06 PM  

@Raven Starkley since you didn’t put the @ designation I will guess you are commenting on my “Crain’s List” comment. I totally know about Craig’s List and even posted some free furniture on it when we down-sized. My DNF was the fact that I didn’t revisit my error that resulted in CRAIN…d’oh

Aunt Hattie 12:13 PM  

Joining in with all who LOVED this mind- bending puzzle--amused by all those innocents who never heard of a bootie call! POY indeed.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Can someone please explain that clue to me b/c I don’t get it.

pmdm 12:20 PM  

Usually a Brooke puzzle has a number of entries I could care less about. I simply shrug my shoulder at slang, "low brow material" (in quotes since it's a quote from an early comment), PPP and so on. If I don't care if I complete a puzzle, I consider the puzzle to be a failure. Not a bad puzzle, but just not one I care to solve. Enough said about today's puzzle.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

asking someone one over (summons) for/before physical relations (congress)

Pete 12:33 PM  

@Anon 11:44 "Sexual congress ... is so, so Victorian" Seriously? It's had that meaning since the 1580s. It had a local usage peak in the Victorian Era, but one less that the 2010s peak. In fact, it's so, so current. Also, the fact that so many fell for the deliberate misdirect actually does say something about the puzzle, i.e. the deliberate misdirect worked as intended, i.e. did its job well in a surprising number of cases.

@Aunt Hattie - What did you think I was doing when I texted 'you up? last night?

@Gill - Of course all my porn is Adult Porn! I'm not a monster! Not that I have any.

Ben 12:39 PM  

Loved this one! Unlike Rex, I found it very zippy, with a quite fast (for me) 9 minutes on the dot. I got a lot more answers on my first Across traversal than I usually do on a Friday before I even got to the Downs, with only a few mistakes (ENYA for 18A, ELSE for 19A, NAB for 22A), and was very pleased to be able to enter LAYABOUTS and DECLUTTER right off the bat.

I also had a similar experience to Rex's AMENTOTHAT in the wrong place, as I put OPED for 37A ("One might be chosen for its perspective")

Had a good chuckle at 27D -- @Anonymous@12:16, if that's the clue you're referring to, the "congress" in the clue is not the legislative body, but rather sexual congress, i.e., intercourse. Although I'm sure there have been more than a few that have taken place in Congress as well.

Anyway, always a great feeling to start a Friday by knocking the puz out of the park :-) Have a great weekend, everyone!

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Alternate clue for BOOTYCALL. Message in the stall of a public restroom.

barryevans 12:47 PM  

Amen to "Summons before Congress" best clue, love it. Loved the whole thing (took me all evening on and off). Then, how about that happy diagonal symmetry? One of the Best Ever.

Masked and Anonymous 1:01 PM  

M&A got nowhere fast on this rodeo. Lotsa no-knows and lotsa feisty clues, at our house. Took forever to even get a toe in the door -- which, if I remember right, came at KID/KINDER, then ANYTAKERS & RAKE & SSN. Then another real long spell, wonderin if some of my other unentered guesses might be true. Then a longer pause, while we ran my in-laws out to the airport. [M&A always KIDdinly calls it "Run em outta town", on such occasions.]

no-knows: ROMANACLEF. CRAIG. FLAKED. Dutch for talk nonsense. What "Claws" is. TCHOTCHKE. CLEO Laine. Notice that mosta these pups are sorta in the upper half-puzgrid.

SCENT ain't the first thing M&A thinks of, when the clue is {Trail}. Or the second or third.
Had similar probs with: GET (Wanted NET). ISNT (Wanted ISIT). AWAIT. WITH. FELT. WONT. Cute SEA & OWLS clues, btw. (Wanted BATS before OWLS, tho.)
Then there's that BOOTYCALL clue...

staff weeject pick: BTS. Just not up on them modern musicmakers. Waitin for their tunes to come out on 45 rpm.

Cool slaunchwise puzgrid symmetry. Mighta what made the NW seem extra hard, since it had the most wide-open look be-stowed upon it.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Ms. Husic darlin & Mr. Yoon dude. M&A never has used a box for a ROBOT costume, but good idea. I did once make a Halloween party costume out of box, tho … but it was a prophylactic dispenser machine. (Dispensed balloons (with holes in em)).

Masked & Anonymo4Us


puzzlehoarder 1:13 PM  

This was challenging for a Friday. I ended up with a CLEm/CLEO dnf. The 43A clue went right over my head. Originally I had RAW there and this blinded me to the possibility of 35D being a woman. She is by no means a debut and her last appearance was recent enough that I'd already googled who she is but had completely forgotten.

Nam Jin Yoon's last theme-less was a terrific Saturday which also used diagonal symmetry.

I spelled TCHOTCHKE correctly on first try woot woot!

I needed some time to realize that 27D had nothing to do with Congress and that 52 A had nothing to do with cars.

This Friday promises a high quality Saturday.

yd -0

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Saturday-tough on a Friday.

okanaganer 2:05 PM  

Yes it was challenging, but wow what a pile of great answers. No happy pencil at first; finished with ROMANACLES (crossing SLAKED). I figured it was some portmanteau with ROMANCE.

I know some German so I got KINDER, but really, why not clue it as the English word??? Seriously.

For 14 across I had ---TCHK- and wasted some time trying to find my mistake. Also had ADULT FILM and SUED below that. Yet still finished under 20 minutes.

[Spelling Bee: yd 6:20 to pg, then another 16 min to QB. Once again, no goofy words!]

Wanderlust 2:07 PM  

AMEN-ra TO THAT! Or is it Amun-ra to that?

Like nearly everyone, I loved this. Unlike Rex, the flow was great for me, and I’d rate it Medium. Just right for a Friday. My only real difficulty was the SE, where RAISE cain instead of HELL slowed me down. When I fixed that, I went with SLIck instead of SLIMY. and I couldn’t remember SADIE Sink, though I did watch Stranger Things and am looking forward to the next season dropping soon. (Those kids must be collecting Social Security now, though.). When I got DAYS for “Some time,” I scrunched my face a little. I guess it works.

Agree that BOOTY CALL had an all-time great clue. The confluence of that, ADULT SITE and CRAIG’s List was great. Why the latter, you ask? Because it got into trouble a few years ago for becoming a BOOTY CALL site that was encouraging prostitution.

But there were so many great clues here, including that for my beloved STL Cards. Also BATON and PLAY HOOKY. And fun facts to learn, such as OWLS’ mismatched ears and the Dutch origins of RANT.

I definitely CRUSHed HARD on this one.

A 2:08 PM  

I’m with OFL - this one should’ve run on Saturday. Seemed like the clues were trying to out-misdirect one another, like those annoying opera arias with four soloists all singing at once, each trying to be the star. You end up not being able to enjoy any of them.

My two-strike start, Angie/album for CRAIG/CHART, got me in a bad mood. Then I wrote [Who…?] IS iT for ISN’T and I was out. Did get KINDER and SSN right on the first pass. But I didn’t trust the ROBOT, so I had to back into BOOTY CALL from the bottom up.

Definitely had some enjoyable moments:
The vowel-slender RHYTHM TCHOTCHKE pair
Two cents for a paper

And I learned things. This is hilarious - apparently I have been laboring under the misconception that a BOOTY CALL was some kind of lineup for the purpose of appraising/admiring sex appeal, like a cattle CALL for potential, ahem, “members of congress.” 🙄🤣

Also, I’m sure I learned ROMAN À CLEF before but it didn’t click even when I had all the letters in.
roman (n.)
"a novel," 1765, from French roman, from Old French romanz (see romance (n.)). Roman à clef, novel in which characters represent real persons, literally "novel with a key" (French), is attested in English by 1893.

**Spoiler alert for yesterday’s Phrazles (haven’t done today’s yet). so there —> ON POINT, nO time to spARe —> TO KNOW BY HEART.

Also from yesterday, Massenet, Fauré, and Lyadov all had birthdays but so did Lennox Berkeley, who I know because of his horn trio. This Sonatina for guitar is delightful, and masterfully played. The guitarist, Laura Snowden, is playing from memory and looks like she is having a wonderful time. Mesmerizing.

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Google it.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

I did, but it doesn't really return much useful information. The first result is a horror film from about five years ago.

jberg 3:24 PM  

I finished this at 10, just in time to leave for my recorder ensemble; back much later and finally able to come here. I agree that it was a great puzzle, but man did it chew me up. CRUSHed on before HARD, so are WE ALL, hanD (out) before CONK, TCHaTCHKE, trying to fit in 'triple crown,' which wouldn't work but kept me from thinking of anything else, and having no idea about CRAIG's surname. Also who IS iT, then changed to else before finally getting ISN'T from the crosses. And, of course, omAn before CHAD. (The French spelling, Tchad, would have gone well with those trinkets.)

And for some reason, I needed all the crosses to get DION, and then could only think of Dion and the Belmonts. Doh!

It seems to be that the commenters to date can be divided into two groups:

Group A -- people who have no idea what a BOOTY CALL is; and

Group B -- people who can't believe anyone doesn't know, so thinking pointing out the lower-case c will make it all clear.

I can never remember which cards are STL, and which are ARI; but I had the S, so it was OK.

Unknown 3:39 PM  

Whether a puzzle should run on a Saturday versus a Friday seems like the epitome of a first world problem.

Eniale 3:56 PM  

Loved this puzzle - and can't believe I (almost) finished it. Mistake was that I wasn't remembering who Newmark was, so I thought Net would do for SNAG. I see I wasn't the only one there.

@Rube - so do you feel the same way about words like schlep, yenta, schmo - and others, all of which I've seen in NYT puzzles?

OISK 4:03 PM  

I guess I am the lone negative voice. BTM ? DNF! A slog for me..

Joe Dipinto 4:55 PM  

@A – Are you by any chance referring to the famous quartet near the end of "Rigoletto"? Why does everybody love that thing? To me the singers end up stepping all over each other. Not to mention that one of the participants (the Maddalena character) hasn't even been *in* the opera up to that point. It's like she shows up out of nowhere just because they need a fourth for bridge.

Sherri 5:09 PM  

I loved this puzzle! Such fresh and interesting fill!

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

Whew what a workout

Phil 6:07 PM  

sLAKED DNF as ROMANCLES as maybe thinking portmanteau with romance and chronicle??

Anyway HOUSECALL and WaNT gave me a real nice TV HAT for box costume. Really had a hard time getting rid of that.

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

I also loved this puzzle. I usually have to get out the dictionary for a few answers on Friday/Saturday puzzles, but I didn’t have to except to get the correct spelling for TCHOTCHKE. I had my teenage son confirm BTS. My time was over 9 minutes faster than my typical Friday time. I didn’t know “that” meaning of “congress,” and now I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget it! Grandpa always said crossword puzzles were great for building vocabulary.

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

Key was that “congress” is NOT capitalized.

Joe Dipinto 10:22 PM  

Congrats to @Whatsername on the Phrace!

Phrazle 50: 2/6
🟩🟩🟩 🟪🟩⬜🟪⬜ 🟩⬜⬜⬜⬜

🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Whatsername 11:21 PM  

@Nancy: Thanks! A lucky guess which I don’t expect to happen again any time soon.

@Joe: Thank you. I tried your method of staring until something appeared. It worked! 😄

RooMonster 11:26 PM  

@A wins the Naughty Award!
"... I had to back into BOOTY CALL from the bottom up."

RooMonster Me Naughty? Nah... Guy

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Maybe my comment wasn't clear, it got deleted. The clue for WONT is wrong because "given to" comes before the -ing participle of a verb, "wont to" comes before the plain verb. So the constructors and editor were getting in over their heads.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Sorry, I think I just said it backwards. "Wont to eat" "given to eating" clue is wrong for WONT

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Agreed, along with "Dick, but longer"

Anonymous 9:57 PM  

It’s the best!

drubytue 10:59 AM  

The grid symmetry requires a vertical-axis flip followed by a 90-degree left rotation, in that order. If you rotate first and then flip, it doesn’t work. I don’t think I’ve seen that.

kitshef 11:05 PM  

Guess I'm the big outlier as the puzzle did nothing for me. Thought the CIO/CLEO crossing was unfair (though I got it), ADULT SITE felt like green paint, and of course I'm long on record as hating the likes of ANY TAKERS, AREN'T WE ALL, AMEN TO THAT in puzzles. I really liked the clue for BOOTY CALL ... but that was the only one. Most of the other 'clever' clues were forced.

thefogman 10:24 AM  

I’d say it was medium-challenging. Not Saturday-level hard for me but I had no trouble with TCHOTCHKE or ROMANACLEF which somehow cluttered my wheelhouse. I can see those two words being major roadblocks so maybe I was just lucky today. Minimal junk. (It’s hard not to have a little bit of glue). I don’t mind a tough puzzle but it’s got to be fair. In this case it was fair and at times even funny - or punny at least (30A, 53D e.g.). Creative and fresh cluing, which made it a most enjoyable CONTEST. PS - Had BTo before BTS… They were on the CHARTs before the BTS BOYS even existed!

spacecraft 11:40 AM  

It was tough all right. My in was DOD LUCY Liu, WITH PILAF and LIFTUP. But a few times I had the first part of an answer, and no idea how to continue. ADULT what? CRUSH...that's it. The four squares under that could've been black. Man, I remember MY first. But, *sigh* she was going steady with the quarterback--and captain, no LESS--of the football team. Yeah, I can pick 'em.

Walkin' about, even in a crowd, boy
You'll pick her out, makes a bloke FEEL so proud

Enough. Jackie, wherever you are, I hope you're happy. Back to reality, the stuff of a ROMANACLEF. I don't know about "Oozing smarm" as a clue for SLIMY. Calls up an image of Uriah Heep. Ick. Compare "Oozing charm from every pore..." from "My Fair Lady." Fair enough, I guess. But severe clue manipulation abounds. Solving brings heaps of triumph points: eagle.

Coulda had an eagle myself today, if I'd guessed right:


but I'll take the bird, giving me a -4 over 3 DAYS.

Burma Shave 2:51 PM  




Diana, LIW 6:49 PM  

I didn't think it challenging, except for - you know what. A couple of unknown names. The wordplay? Fine with me!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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