Parisian sweets? / FRI 6-10-22 / Blogroll assortment / Root vegetable with stringy stalks / Scientist for whom a part of the brain is named / Common condiment with fajitas

Friday, June 10, 2022

Constructor: Blake Slonecker

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Pierre Paul BROCA (42A: Scientist for whom a part of the brain is named) —
Pierre Paul Broca (/ˈbrkə/, also UK/ˈbrɒkə/US/ˈbrkɑː/, French: [pɔl bʁɔka]; 28 June 1824 – 9 July 1880) was a French physician, anatomist and anthropologist. He is best known for his research on Broca's area, a region of the frontal lobe that is named after him. Broca's area is involved with language. His work revealed that the brains of patients with aphasia contained lesions in a particular part of the cortex, in the left frontal region. This was the first anatomical proof of localization of brain function. Broca's work also contributed to the development of physical anthropology, advancing the science of anthropometry.
• • •

I have been complaining (a bit) that the late-week puzzles don't really have much TEETH any more (by which I meant BITE, I think, not [Show of authority, metaphorically]). So you'd think a Friday clued somewhat more toughly than usual would bring me joy—and it might, in theory, but this ain't it. No flow. No zoom. No real marquee fill that I can see. It all just feels rather flat. I think we're supposed to be impressed that there is a longish triple-stack crossing *another* long triple stack of equal dimensions. And now I'm noticing something else that we're probably supposed to OOH at—that is, that the symmetry isn't just 180-degree rotational (typical), it's actually 90-degree rotational (black squares stay in the same place with every 90-degree rotation). So though its grid structure is not exactly flashy, what we have here is a low-key architectural stunt with very little going on at the level of content. The fill was fine, it just wasn't exciting, and the cluing didn't help much. In short, instead of the zoom-zoom whoosh-whoosh experience I look forward to on Fridays, I got something of a slog. An inert hunk of words that has the external appearance of a Friday crossword, but none of the excitement. 

Ironically, the hardest part of the grid for me was, in fact, TEETH. Not because I couldn't understand TEETH, but because I couldn't understand the apparent plural in 2D: Parisian sweets? (CHERIE), which I had rendered as CHERIS, reasoning that if "my sweet" is one person, well then "sweets" is more than one. My dear ones, mes CHERIS, makes sense, moving on ... unfortunately, what I was moving on to was TSETH. And yes, that is a nonsense "word," but the whole "metaphorically" part had me thinking maybe it was some modern slang I didn't know, or something like that (is it a one-syllable exclamation, like "TSETH!," or ... rapper named Seth trying to style himself after T-Pain? I was prepared to believe many things). I had SHORE and actually wanted TEETH at some point, but pulled both out when CHERIS made that whole section seemingly impossible. I also forgot the last letters of the [Root vegetable with stringy stalks]. CELERITY? No. CELERIUM? No. CELERI...AN? No, you're thinking of Valerian. I literally just now *already* forgot CELERIAC, so improbable do its last letter seem to me (seriously, I tried to recall the correct answer without reconsulting the grid sitting on the desk just to my left: failure). CELERIAC sounds like something rabid celery fans might call themselves. After these NW troubles, the puzzle just sort of chugged along at a somewhat slower than usual rate, though the SW went down like a Tuesday and the SE like a Monday, so I guess I can add "very uneven in terms of difficulty" to the list of less-than-ideal features. I had BARGING INTO before INON (and I wanted BURSTING -something earlier in the solve, when I thought it was CELERIUM). COUNTERACTS also gave me some trouble since I didn't have the first letter (that CELERIAC really did a lot of damage). No other errors of note. 

[please replace "Valerie" w/ "Celery," thank you]

  • 10D: Some customer service agents nowadays (CHATBOTS) — this is one of the two answers that feel most fresh and modern in this puzzle, but since CHATBOTS are such a dreary and depressing and dehumanizing part of life, I can't say I'm too thrilled to run into them here.
  • 15A: "Sounds good, but ... huh-uh" ("YEAH, NO") — this is the fill winner today, by a country mile. A perfect, common, apparently self-contradictory colloquialism. I say some version of it all the time. I love when the puzzle captures weird quirks of speech like this.
  • 29A: Like Gen-Z fans of classic rock, seemingly (BORN TOO LATE) — this whole concept doesn't really have the resonance it might have at some pre-internet, pre-streaming, pre-universal music access point. If you're 20 and want to listen to classic rock, it's easily accessible. It's everywhere. OK, your friends aren't into it, maybe, but so much of being young is in fact veering away from the crowd, or trying to. Anyway, BORN TOO LATE implies you're missing out on something, and while you might wish you had been alive to be part of some scene (to have experienced Woodstock, or, I dunno, peak mall culture), the music itself is ubiquitous. You live in an age where you don't even have to *try* to find out about it and listen to it. There it is. In abundance. 
  • 22A: Blogroll assortment (SITES) — the very word "blogroll" feels like it's covered in cobwebs, or, like, moldering in a weedy and overgrown field somewhere. Blog culture peaked somewhere in the late '00s, and I honestly haven't thought of this term since ... well, maybe since they got rid of Google Reader. Usually, if you have a list of SITES in your sidebar, you've given them some more meaningful thematic label.
  • 1A: Puzzling start? (ACROSS) — I don't get it. Yes, I "start"ed with this clue, which is an ACROSS clue, but I don't get how ACROSS is a "start," necessarily. At all. I thought this answer was going to be a prefix at first. But no. This is an awfully forced "?" clue. I don't even know what kind of wordplay they were going for. I often "start" with the Downs, if the first ACROSSes are all really long. Sigh. "?" clues should make sense! [Puzzling start?] is a good clue for PEE and that's about it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. "Key & PEELE" was a hit sketch comedy show, hence 8D: Key partner? (PEELE). Jordan PEELE, Keegan-Michael Key.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


OffTheGrid 6:16 AM  

Took me a little while to forgive the 1A clue but after that this was not bad. It always takes me a while to build any momentum on Fri and Sat.

Phillyrad1999 6:38 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle. Liked the use of CELERIAC - very underrated root vegetable. Also liked the use of SHORE-UP., INSOLETLY and minimal use of names. Overall liked the fill even though it took me a while to get momentum. Finished the northeast last.

Harry 7:00 AM  

I think Rex missed the bus on 29A: Like Gen-Z fans of classic rock, seemingly (BORN TOO LATE).

The music that is most meaningful to me are those songs that I associate a particular listening experience of which to some life event. I'm referring to songs that were playing at some point during, for example, a first date, a difficult breakup, a joyous celebration with best friends, a 800 mi drive to a new home. Sometimes the memory involves the more mundane: a song playing during a random morning's drive to work that cements it to a date and place.

I can frequently cite the release year of a song with +/- 1 year accuracy (back to about 1973) because of such associations. My life experiences are a key component to my pleasure with many songs (and I'm hardly unique in that).

I have no problem acknowledging that an avid fan of a genre "before their time" might feel a sense of having been born too late.

kitshef 7:05 AM  

The NYT seems to be forcing modern slang like SHINE ON and "fun" phrases like YEAH NO into the grid at the expense of interesting words.

I assume their goal is to get rid of all the old fogies with their lifetime of accumulated wealth and plenty of time on their hands in order to attract people just starting their careers or families, who lack both time or money.

JD 7:10 AM  

This puzzle didn’t have the frat house feel that NYT puzzles so often do now. No little balls snuck in here. Buns was clued as food instead of a gratuitous ass/butt joke. Iago wasn’t the cartoon bird. Maybe Blake Slonecker is an actual adult whose world includes Garage Door openers and Drop Cloths.

I disagree with every single word of Rex’s review. The rotation is impressive, the cluing crunchy.

Forgot about Celeriac. Only tried it once when it had its fad moment during my Bon Appetit years. It looks like a celery burl. Sounds like a drug you’d see in TV commercial showing an older man walking on the beach with his younger wife, “Ask your doctor about Celeriac.” He squeezes her hand, she looks at him adoringly while side effects are read with lighten speed.

Felt strongly that Peele was wanted for Key Partner but was stuck on Sing for Harmonize way too long. Insolently was tricky but it’s an awkword.

Great puzzle.

Conrad 7:16 AM  

The NW was challenging-plus. I made all the mistakes OFL cited and invented a few of my own. I don't like the 1A clue "Puzzling start," since we say "1 Across," not "Across 1" so that makes "across" a suffix. The clue could have been "Puzzling ending."

Outside the NW this was a medium Friday.

SouthsideJohnny 7:25 AM  

Some decent clues - enjoyed myself in the SW with the SNORES during the lecture. I thought the BROCA/REYES cross was a touch on the unfair side, even for a Friday. Almost implies that our Spanish-speaking friends and nurses, MD’s, and other medical professionals are welcome - and the rest of us can play keyboard bingo - or perhaps do as Will instructs in 52A (GO HOME). But hey, it’s Friday, and maybe it’s even National Latin-American Neurosurgeon Day.

Lewis 7:25 AM  

No splat fills today, no slow-but-sure spread-fills. Purely fits and starts. An aha leading to another word filled in, a scramble to see if the new letters filled in would bring another aha, often no, then jumping around, looking for a new aha. And then the new aha comes with great pleasure, like when GARAGE DOOR hits me with an “Oh, yes!”, or when REYES pops into my brain from I-don’t-know-where. Every square filled in a treasure and a possible spur to a new revelation.

What a journey! Underlying it all was the feeling that the grid *would* be filled in if I just stuck it out, kept going. A faith solve. And when that last square did fill in, oh yes, I was filled with the satisfaction that comes with hard work that results in excellence, but even if I had ended up with some blanks that I just couldn’t get, I still would have looked back on the experience with high gratitude.

So yes, I did love this one. Your clues and answers thrust me into a sweet-spot solving zone where I was fully involved, deeply present, and pinged with reward after reward. OOH, Blake, perfecto for me. Thank you, sir, for this!

Sororial 7:26 AM  

@JD. Thanks for adding the frat house feel that you noticed the puzzle lacked.

Unknown 7:38 AM  

Biggest laugh of the puzzle for me was across. Some of us start with across words, so for me, it worked. Cold have lived without Apple Inc...their products are too useful as fill to ignore, but there are many other corporations to use in that clue.

Chewy Friday for me with a few laughs. I like it.

Zed 7:42 AM  

@kitshef & @JD - I ain’t on your lawn!!
Personally, I want a little balance in my puzzles. I don’t like it when a puzzle skews dead. I also don’t like it when a YouTube personality crosses an animé themed K-Pop girl band (is there such a thing? Tell me there is). Give me wordplay and give me language. Don’t give me too much trivia. So relatively new slang is fine by me. And I didn’t mind the INGA and OAKLAND clues today because we got SHINE ON (I’m not familiar with this usage - it sounds more noir than modern to me - but I like it) and YEAH, … NO.

I’m not much into architectural stunts, but I think the stacks are solid. I’m a little embarrassed with how long it took me to suss out PICO DE GALLO because I do not see it served with fajitas much. I’m not saying it’s not, just that it’s not the first salsa that comes to my mind. BORN TOO LATE as an entry is fine, but I’m with Rex on not liking the clue. Less okay with OMELET BAR. Buffets have OMELET stations in my world. Plus I was solidly at a cheap hotel breakfast buffet so I really really wanted something waffle related. Sigh. Wrong buffet.

Anywhoo, This also played Saturday tough here. Now I’m wondering if we will have the day inverted thing and get a Friday level puzzle tomorrow.

Nancy 7:42 AM  

What a lovely puzzle to puzzle out. This one requires lots and lots of thinking rather than dredging up a lot of useless information. A couple of early mistakes made this harder for me than it needed to be.

Because "sweets" is plural, I wanted CHERIs instead of CHERIE at 2D. But what was TS?TH?

"That's a good one" elicited an LOL from me rather than an OOH. But SURE-FIRE LIT is not a Thing.

ACROSS came to me immediately. Probably because I've been solving crosswords for too long. But someone will have to explain to me why "hypothesized" = SAID. I plain don't get it. And speaking of that, using "Get it" to clue RELATE also feels more than a bit off.

I got somewhat grouchy when OMELETTES didn't fit. I've never heard of OMELET BARS. I suppose they're areas where someone cooks OMELETS to order for you? That sounds like a pretty swank breakfast buffet.

It's such fun when long puzzle answers you couldn't figure out from reading the clue suddenly make themselves known. Well, hi there, DROPCLOTHS and GARAGE DOORS and COUNTERACTS and PICO DE GALLO and BORN TOO LATE. I sure see you now!

A worthy Friday opponent. I had fun.

Zed 7:43 AM  

@unknown 7:38 - I assume Shortz was behind on his product placement agreement. 😉

king_yeti 7:53 AM  

I’m going to reluctantly support 1-Across because crossword puzzles themselves — the CLUES —start with Across. It doesn’t need to implay that the solver starts by addressing the Across clues, but there it is the start of every crossword puzzle: the word ACROSS

Twangster 7:53 AM  

Steve Forbert has did a song called Born Too Late:

Not to be confused with Paul Simon's Born at the Right Time.

JD 7:55 AM  

@Sororial, You're welcome!

Kate 7:57 AM  

Had northeast trouble with PEELE and POST, clues I didn’t get. Challenging long answers too. Hard but good work!

Unknown 8:00 AM  

"Rabid celery fans." Nothing I hear today will top that.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Wow, I’m experiencing my first solve when things went smoothly that didn’t go smoothly for Rex. It’s a great feeling, you all are right. My hang up and last word to go in was also TEETH. Above it I had POSTS, then POLLS, then DATES, until finally SITES appeared for me. Oddly I can’t see any specific fill that stands out as spectacular, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Maybe CELERIAC was my fave. Anyway, on to my day!

Son Volt 8:30 AM  

Low word count - late week themeless are tough to get right. I like the grid and the looks of the crossing triple stacks here - just think the overall cluing is clumsy and flat. The less than exciting center long cross of GARAGE DOORS x COUNTERACTS takes up a lot of real estate - add PARTICIPLE and OMELET BARS and there’s not much left to work with.

I liked INSOLENTLY, CELERIAC and the KANSAS x OAKLAND cross. With Rex on BORN TOO LATE being slightly obtuse. Much appreciate the lack of trivia.

The great Burton Cummings and the GUESS WHO put the classic in classic rock

Slightly strained Friday solve.

JD 8:41 AM  

@Z, And get that damn frisbee off my roof!

Joaquin 8:49 AM  

Worth the Price of Admission Department:
[Like Gen-Z fans of classic rock, seemingly]

Looks like @Rex missed the important fact that the song "Born Too Late" was a classic rock hit of the late '50s. Doubles the fun for this clue and answer.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Zoom zoom whoosh whoosh for me. I loved it.

Liveprof 8:57 AM  

May I recommend the cheese omelets at the Holiday Inn Express breakfast? They have just the right amount of latex mixed in. If you take an extra, it will work nicely as a door stop.

GAC 9:00 AM  

I struggled mightily with this lovely puzzle, and enjoyed it to the fullest. I do not understand Rex's problem with 1A. I immediately wrote in 'across'. It is a 'puzzling start'; it's the first word you see in the clues. CELERIAC was a new word for me, and I tried Chicago for the Black Panthers, and had several other wrong guesses. Would like to see more puzzles by Blake Slonecker.

MassBookworm 9:07 AM  

Old geezer here. Decent puzzle. Not Maleska-esque by any stretch. Anyway, someone please help me understand: how does SHINEON = "try to persuade through lies"? I literally have no idea, though the fill was obvious. Thanks.

RooMonster 9:12 AM  

Hey All !
Had everything in except that Root vegetable. Kept going over the Downs up there, until finally just putting in the last three letters I thought couldn't be anything else, and I'll let you guess if either I got 1) the Almost There! thing , or 2)the Happy Music.
(It was 2!!) YAY ME!

With @Nancy on the wha? of SAID as clued. And with myself with CELERIAC being a definite WOE.

Was a toughie at first, as only had a few answers sprinkled about after first pass-through. But went steadily through the grid, ending up at pretty much normal time.

Liked the Stealth Bombers group of Blockers (like the Utah in YesterComments discussion), and the Rotational Symmetry that Rex talked about. That means anyway you turn the puz, the Blockers are always in the same positions. (Not recommended turning your desktop computer over!)

Nice FriPuz, which seems spot-on for the day of the week. So sayeth Roo. Har.

yd (another lotta-worder) -8, should'ves 7
Duo 37, missed 1-2-3-4-6 (been slacking on the start lately)

One F

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Amy: thought this was a dandy Friday.

pabloinnh 9:18 AM  

Picked a clue at random and started with SHES A Rainbow, knew REYES, which led to BROCA (thought BROCAS's Brain), and finished the SW pretty quickly.

I read the clue for the root vegetable and thought "celery", which of course didn't fit, so it had to be CELERIAC. Take that, OFL.

Slight misfire with SUREFIREBET but OOB seemed unlikely, so that was quick fix.

The longer answers had things with which I am familiar, like PICODEGALLO and DROPCLOTHS, so they showed themselves with just a few letters, which is always pleasing.

My last answer was TEETH, so I avoided the CHERIS trap, and that was that.

I had a fine time with this one, BS. Big Smiles all over the place, and thanks for all the fun.

Dan A 9:19 AM  

Alternative clue for 1A: This 1

Adam12 9:25 AM  

@Nancy . . . I can “relate” to that regarding “said” clueing. Hope that helps.

bigsteve46 9:49 AM  

"The Born Too Late" song I remember was by the Poni-Tails (1958). I guess a brain still crammed with that kind of knowledge just doesn't have room for CHATBOTS or Jordan PEELE - but overall a remarkably free-of-pop-crap puzzle for which I give my over-the-hill-guy thanks! (And both clues mentioned above were easily enough "get-able" by crosses.)

burtonkd 9:56 AM  

@Nancy: I can relate. = I get it. I'll have to get in line with you to wait for a satisfactory explanation for "said".

I love how Rex goes all "musty cobwebs, late 00's vibe" about a blogroll clue as I'm reading his BLOG and looking at the sidebar with related SITES. He just wants to play with his snarky twitter pals now, apparently. So mid two thousand teens...

This was a tough but fair faith-solve for me. REYES/BROCA a classic Natick, though "R" made the most sense.

Once I got past the French pastry mis-direct, the plural was easy to overcome. You wouldn't think you are talking about multiple people if you said "honeybuns, toots, etc."

I think the puzzles are generally in a good place in terms of current vs broad knowledge. Doing them with my college-aged daughter, I get to feel sting, oops smart with the deep knowledge and crosswordese and she fills me in on some current stuff.

I had reSOnaNTLY for "with sauce", and accidently left in the "A" giving me INSOLaNTLY and preventing the happy music and assuming my problem was with the BROCA/REYES cross...

I'm with Rex on the dreariness of CHATBOTS IRL, but good clue. I am only calling on the phone because the online help has failed and I need a human being to resolve something not on their programmed script, AAARGH.

ACROSS clue fine with me. Even if I choose to start elsewhere or by doing downs, the clues start with the ACROSS list.

Rug Crazy 10:01 AM  

I agree with kitchen. Clue for SHINEON just doesn't cut it

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Rex is nuts. This puzzle was terrific from start to finish, top to bottom.

johnk 10:22 AM  

I RELATE with @BigSteve46 on this one. Seems as if Rex is reaching for dislikes today. This was fine for me, and easy for a Friday. He was apparently BORN TOO LATE to enjoy a puzzle lacking in rap stars and current slang (except possibly SHINEON, which DOESNT appear in my BROCA area).
BORN TOO LATE jumped right out at me. The one-hit wonders Poni Tails went to my high school.

Carola 10:27 AM  

Challenging, requiring the rolling up of sleeves and girding of LOINS. I made my way in via the odious neighbors IAGO and CHATBOTS, which with the adjacent PARTICIPLE gave me enough to fill the right side. Then it was a matter of inching my way westward, Nod of gratitude to PICO DE GALLO and DROP CLOTHS for invaluable crossing assistance and to CELERIAC for being the rare (only?)vegetable that ends in -AC. Many pleasures in the cluing and entries, with favorites GUISE, INSOLENTLY, CHERIE. I see on xwordinfo that this is Blake Slonecker's third puzzle for the Times; I'll be keeping my eye out for his next one.

jae 10:33 AM  

Medium. Same problems as @Rex with CELERIAC and COUNTERACTS. Solid but I agree with @Rex about flat. Mostly liked it.

The Stone’s “SHE’S A Rainbow” is an integral and moving part of episode 5 season 2 of “Ted Lasso”, which definitely deserved all the Emmys it won. Stream it now on Apple+.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Totally agree with you JD. Rex is once again criticizing a puzzle based on his own idiosyncratic personal taste and finding it wanting because it dares to include things he isn’t “too thrilled about.” Great grid design, clever cluing, and a welcomed lack of PPP combined with a little something for all ages made this a gem.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

A huge part of being a fan of a specific music genre is going to the concerts. And I don't mean seeing the band when the original members have all been replaced, except the decrepit bass player. Oddly enough, the one exception is Steve Winwood who was nearly 70 by the time I saw him live. But Steve was born rocking and will prolly die that way, as well. Liked this puzzle loads.

wendy 10:42 AM  

Had a hard time getting past the “low key architectural stunt”. Looks like a swastika to me.

Gary Jugert 10:45 AM  

Sheesk. I am definitely not smart enough for this one. First pass all the way through the puzzle and I had four guesses -- and three turned out to be wrong. Very sly.

The middle section ACCOSTED my belief long answers always reveal themselves early. So, a terrifying slog for me.

Four or five straight up cheats, but that can happen for me on Fridays and Saturdays. Thank goodness we can cheat these days.


CELERIAC, what evs.

BROCA stands out as particularly obscure.


(Really reaching here) "Skimpy."

Paul 10:48 AM  

Can I just complain a bit about the clue "Hypothesized" for SAID? Those words are not in any way interchangeable.

Tom T 10:56 AM  

A quick look back at the conversation started by @Rex yesterday about all of the TORs in the grid, and if there was a subtle movie connection. The title HIGH TOR came to my head, and it turns out that, in addition to winning Maxwell Anderson a Best Play award in 1937, it was subsequently redeveloped as a movie musical (produced for television, not the big screen) in 1956, with Julie Andrews and Bing Crosby as the leads.

On to today's puzzle--it felt like it took a couple of hours, perhaps because I started last night and came back to it this morning. But it turns out I finished at just under 48 minutes which is (sadly) below my Friday average.

Hand up for TEETH as final answer. Hand up for SAID as really weak answer for Hypothesized. Hand up for tough REYES/BROCA cross.

A very good Thursday night/Friday morning workout.

Whatsername 10:58 AM  

I thought this was a pretty darn good Friday with the best part being the extremely low percentage of proper names and pop culture. And I liked the long downs in addition to the long ACROSS stacks. Overall really an interesting grid.

During the 1980s when I lived out west, I passed through the geographic center of the US many times while traversing the entire state of KANSAS and even picnicked there a few times. I often imagined what it must have been like for the wagon trains crossing over those vast prairies. My husband and I always enjoyed taking the route across Highway 36 instead of the more heavily traveled Interstate 70. We had our favorite places to stop, a little diner in Bird City and another in Belleville. The salt of the earth, those hard-working people there.

Newboy 11:01 AM  

Well, it’s Friday, so I had to trampoline my way around the grid stringing those DROP CLOTHS & CELERIAC fibers together in a very open weave. In time I too came to TEETH instead of a singular TesTe — thinking that Shortz had grown a pair as others this week have suggested? Took some GUISE to dis this grid as Rex did today. I can see his points, but I thought that themeless grids were meant to be more decidedly ambiguous. Probably time to check the construction guidelines again. At any rate, I had fun on Blake’s SURE FIRE HIT. Back to see commentariat takes now.

beverly c 11:19 AM  

I agree with Lewis on this one. Challenging clues, aha moments, and a feeling of satisfaction at the end. Yay!
This is much more to my taste than something I woosh through - I lose interest when I simply fill in the blanks.

The northwest was the last area for me to fill - I tried reins and then stuck with leash too long before TEETH appeared.
To make matters worse, I thought collar was a great answer for the “Buttonhole” clue.
I'm a fan of CELERIAC in vegetable soup - much tastier to me than turnip - but I still needed some crosses.

The only breakfast buffet OMELETBAR I've seen is at a casino or hospital - I wanted juice or some kind of pastry or mimosas.
Gee, all of those sound good right now.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

“Rex is once again….” Er, it’s his blog which highlights his review of the puzzle. You don’t have to like it but this is not meant to be an objective site - the very nature of this blog is that it represents a personal perspective.

Barbara S. 11:31 AM  

Dang! I mixed up my PICO with my PInO and had one hell of a typo hunt at the end. I liked the puzzle despite that – started it last night and got the lower two-thirds done, but had to come back this morning. I couldn’t make anything of the NW to begin with, except for my brilliant insight that [Show of authority, metaphorically] had to be “stick”! (Get it? – Carrot?...Stick?......No?) Oh, and I did get ORAL, B-ing a loyal customer.
In the NE, IAGO was instant and I had an inkling about PEELE even though I’ve never seen the duo – someone I know likes them. What happens more and more in these late-week puzzles is that I get almost skunked in the north and so I flee south until there’s nowhere to run and I’m forced to get to grips with the answers down there. Then I come slowly creeping back and with sufficient doggedness, finish the top.

I didn’t mind ACROSS as a [Puzzling start?] as, in a show of optimism over experience, I do always start with 1A. I don’t think I’ve tried CELERIAC but having the AC in place first, I was in no doubt about the answer. The first letter I had for DROP CLOTHS was the second O, and first I tried ____smOckS, and then ____gLOveS, getting more outlandish each time. I was also sure about GUILE, until GUISE took over. Because of my PICO/PInO confusion, for a while I had Apple INn and wondered if there was a new challenger for Ramada. Oh, and last but not least for my missteps, another brilliant insight was “here” for [After beginning?]. Get it? – “Hereafter”? The same pattern of clue/answer, I thought, as yesterday’s [Ridiculous introduction?]. Sigh. No, no, don’t worry about me. I had lots of fun anyway!

And now, turning to music,
@Son Volt (8:30) Thanks for The GUESS WHO link. They’re among my favorites of that era and I like that song in particular. I always thought Burton Cummings had a terrific voice, several cuts above many (most?) of his peers. And apparently, he learned the flute for that song! Although he already played sax and I gather the fingering is similar. Still, what a guy and what a band.

And finally,

People tell me it's a sin
To know and feel too much within
I still believe she was my twin
But I lost the ring
She was born in spring
Blame it on a simple twist of fate.

bocamp 11:32 AM  

Thx, Blake, for a TEETHful Fri. puz.; lots to chew on! :)

Very hard!

Felt like a tough Sat.; nowhere near Blake's wavelength on this one, but somehow managed to get it right; thx for fair crosses. (whew!). :)

Sure glad I didn't try to solve last nite, but was a refreshing Fri. changeup this AM.

Bubkes in the NW & NE; had to go all the way down to SNORES to get a foothold, then worked from the bottom to the top, with the NW seemingly taking forever.


Fun adventure; liked it a lot.
yd pg -1 / W: 4* / WH: 3 / Sed: 19 / Duo: 34

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

D’Qwellner 11:48 AM  

Except for the cynicism and churlishness, I am becoming Rex: his progress through the grid and his pitfalls were literally identical to mine. I hope this is a good thing.

Joseph Michael 11:57 AM  

Excellent Friday puzzle. Tough but fair, except for the unfortunate sore thumb of BROCA crossing REYES and PICO DE GALLO. Ay, caramba!

Lots of great fill, such as GUESS WHO, BORN TOO LATE, BARGING IN ON, and YEAH, NO.

Clue that had me guessing the most: “Show of authority, metaphorically.” Kept wanting something like REINS or PANTS before I finally got to those TEETH.

Row 12: How Ms. Swenson might close an angry letter to a critic: INSOLENTLY, INGA.

Row 14: What a Texas Rangers fan might yell during a home game with the A’s: “GO HOME, OAKLAND!”

Katzzz 11:58 AM  

Boo hoo. Rex had a hard time with an excellent, toughish Friday puzzle, so that means it's the puzzle's fault.

Hartley70 12:04 PM  

This puzzle thoroughly agreed with me. I thought it was a nifty Friday and gave me no reason to pull my hair out or make anything go splat. It was just tough enough that I had to struggle a bit but there was no temptation to resort to google. In other words, it was just perfect. I didn’t know the REESES tag line but I love it.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Hypothesized/SAID works for me. Not initially obvious but it makes sense.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

@Anon 10:41 - I comment you on your excellent copying from Wikipedia ability, decry you for you horrible citation of sources practice. And what exactly was your point? That Latin was like any other language with High Brow / Low Brow versions that changed? That "cleaned up" exactly what? Not @Anoa Bob, who based his entire argument about Latin based on the fact that it was dead and embalmed, and that it should stay that way, not @Zed, who said it was like any other language in that it changed, nor the @Anon who said that none of any of that mattered because the English language had absorbed the words under discussion. You cleaned up what?

Runs on Dunkin 12:12 PM  

Yes and yes!

Don’t take Celeriac if you are allergic to Celeriac or any of its ingredients.

old timer 12:21 PM  

Only after the solve did I clean up the NW with TEETH, SITES, and RELATE. TEETH is indeed a perfect answer for that clue. It really helped that I knew where the Black Panther Party got its start. I got some things that seemed wrong, but put them in anyhoo. SYNCs does not sound like "harmonizes" to me, though it does have that work together vibe. SAID is, as everyone here notes, just wrong, as clued.

I did like OMELET BARS. I avoid Holiday Inns at all times. But Embassy Suites I like a lot for those family vacays. The one in Portland, Oregon was Wedding Central for my middle daughter -- the ceremony was within a few blocks, and so were some excellent dive bars, one of which should have been called the Plastic Paddy, but there is the place to go to drink too much Guinness and Jameson's and sing along with all those Irish revolutionary songs that everyone kinda knows by heart. And yes, the Embassy Suites has an excellent OMELET BAR, and decent coffee too.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

33 Down… GUESSWHO is not a “question asked by a surprise caller” … a demand or an order but not a question

Beezer 12:35 PM  

I pretty much disagreed with everything @Rex said today, I found this puzzle fun and just crunchy enough for a Friday!

I agree with @Harry that Rex missed the bus on BORNTOOLATE. The clue/answer was timely for me because I JUST spent an hour last night with the most delightful customer service agent I can ever remember. He told me when he was born so I pretty much knew he was a Gen Zer or Milennial “cusper,” he talked about his love of old television shows, 70s music, etc…and I don’t think he was SHININ’ me. I think he related to Boomer culture more than his own generation’s culture and might consider himself BORNTOOLATE. The fact that music/media/music is ubiquitous today (as Rex opined) is irrelevant.

Also, I heard way too much waah-waah from Rex and his travails with CHERIE. I guess he’s never heard someone call someone “Sweets” before. Maybe I was just too confident on the answer since I had ACROSS filled in, but I didn’t even give “cheris” a thought. Yeah. For some reason I feel like grumping on @Rex today.

Luckily BROCA was not too deeply buried in my (not a doctor) Basic Human Anatomy class, although I briefly thought there might be a Dr. Amygdala…I know…too long…

Ride the Reading 12:35 PM  

Son Volt - nice choice for Guess Who. Let me add a few. "Three More Days," from "Share the Land." Most of the "Road Food" album, for a take on touring and the rock biz at the time - including a song that starts with, "Order some cash! We've got another tour to make." An early, sorta silly song, "Maple Fudge."

This was one of those puzzles where there were too many empty squares after the first pass through. Thought headed for cheats, but eventually through. For someone addicted to REESES, that one took way too long to get. Even though I could picture DROP CLOTHS, couldn't remember what they're called. Ended being about average time. Liked this one.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Totally agree.

CDilly52 12:39 PM  

Very well said, @Harry 7AM. My sentiments exactly. Music and food are my memory triggers for time, place(s) and people.

GILL I. 12:47 PM  

OOH...This Friday you pushed my SURE FIRE HIT button.
I normally don't read OFL before saying my dos centavos... today I peeked because I thought for sure he'd enjoy this like I did. El wrongo.
@Rex dedicates a long song about CELERIAC and calling the eaters rabid celery fans. Ay dios mio.., I-personally find it as good as some PICO DE GALLO sprinkled on my Mexican OMELET after celebrating Dia de los REYES in KANSAS. I bet if he cooked it like I do, he'd like it. It does taste a bit like celery because it's from the same family. Just roast it like potatoes. Add some avocado oil, add some herbs de Provence, a bit of salt and enjoy it as a side dish.
I had two cheats today: PEELE at 8D and BROCA whatshisname. TIS a shame sez I. I really wanted to finish this all by myself.
Had no problems with the longish ones. Loved BARGING IN ON. I do that all the time to my husband. He'll be hoarding the loo, reading his book and I'll yell at him to come eat his fajitas.
Today it will be about 106 degrees so I will stay home and finish reading "Facing the Mountain" by Daniel Brown. If you like history and want read very interesting information about Japanese American Heroes in WW2, then you'll enjoy this as much as I do.
Now to read the rest of you....

Unknown 12:55 PM  

Great Puzzle! Thanks. 26 minutes for this father-son Duo. Especially loved CHATBOTS, PARTICIPLES, and PICODEGALLO. Didn't really love CELERIAC (that was what I finished on).... but hey, it's Friday, right, gotta have a few challenges. Thanks Blake for a terrific challenge! : ) --Rick

Teedmn 1:03 PM  

It wasn't Weintraub easy or PB1 smooth, but I felt this puzzle had a definite Friday vibe. Except for having to change in midstream from PIcante sauce to PICO DE GALLO, I had no write-overs and few unknowns (some trepidation at BROCA and REYES but they seemed familiar).

The AC of CELERIAC gave me my entry into the NW (my last section to fill). It certainly wouldn't have been SAID - a vaguer way to clue SAID than "hypothesized" I can hardly imagine. Oh, wait, I did have to write over my TsETH but didn't find it onerous to rethink CHERIE so...

The clue for 15A bothers me because I would not say "huh-uh" but instead "uh-uh". It left me wondering what they were trying to say there.

Blake Slonecker, thanks for a fine Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Felt more like a Saturday than a Friday to me, but I thought it was a fine puzzle either way.

In one of those serendipitous coincidences, on Tuesday I saw the play, "Fairview," where there is a long conversation about root vegetables, ending with CELERIAC, which I did not know. So when I got to that clue, I put CELERIAC in right away. Still don't know anything about it other than it is a root vegetable.

(The play was really interesting and powerful, by the way. Well worth a visit.)

oldactor 1:13 PM  

I thought OFL would love this puzzle, I sure did. I made it harder by mis-reading clues. I read Hypnotized for Hypothesized and Persian sweets for Parisian sweets. Finally got it right.

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Pretty darn good, for a themeless puz. Had the four Jaws of Themelessness, so definitely built on a firm foundation.

staff weeject pick (of only 8 choices): INC = {Apple ___}. That clue. That sneaky, baitin clue. U just knew it was darin U to splatz an answer of PIE in there. M&A knew that would be waaay too easy, and resisted temptation.

The usual FriPuz gang of no-knows showed up: CELERIAC. BROCA. INGA. REYES. PICODEGALLO. PEELE. CHATBOTS [this one was sorta inferable, at least].

The good-est stuff: ACROSS/ACCOST. CHERIE (M&A went with MONAMI … lost precious nanosecs). BORNTOOLATE (A neat classic oldie tune, btw -- The Poni-Tails, 1958). SUREFIREHIT. NEGATE/offset + COUNTERACTS/offsets. SLEEPSIN [M&A excuse for bein here so late, today].

{Hypothesized} = SAID? Is this desperate rascal of a clue maybe riffin on a variation of "Let's say the NYTimes started publishing runtpuzs …", or somesuch?

Still rootin for themed puzs to show up on Fridays. Would y'all settle for every third FriPuz bein themed? They could still be harder than snot … but also have some sorta neat mcguffin/ahar moment. Some cool raison d'être for us to figure out.

Thanx for the celeriac peeles, --aka peelo de celeo -- Mr. Slonecker dude. Quality stuff.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Anonymous 1:36 PM  

YES! Thank you.

CDilly52 1:43 PM  

I liked this one much more than OFL. My start included his difficulty with CHERIs/CHERIE issue and because I was so certain that I was correct that I allowed TsETH be a thing. The “metaphorically” made me believe that I had discovered yet another tech-ish oddity and all the other NW answers just fell right in for me.

Aside: foe those who enjoy vegetables (and even those who don’t ) roasted CELERIAC (just douse it in olive oil, salt, pepper, wrap in foul and roast) is delicious and simple. Very potato meets a less starchy root veg (a little beet like) in texture. When it is soft like a baked potato, scoop it out of the tough skin and enjoy. Butter, gravy, jus, all good.

So, back to the puzzle. I must have contracted snow blindness immediately after the NW (probably got it from the TsETH) because all I had for quite a while was lots and lots of empty white. I was well and truly stuck until I wandered down to “Ride, in a way,” and plopped in NAG thinking to Self, “Aha Self, this one is going to be tricksy and clever and that means my though back a ways is probably correct. Oh Self, you are just about to crack this iceberg.” So I backtracked and in response to “Roll,” tossed in what I consider to be a far superior answer, mUg. Since the U was good, that one really clogged up the flow pipes. Speaking of metaphorical pipes, the clue “Gush” made me think of words like spew, flume, erupt but even at the very end when I said ENTHUSE?!?!, it just would not make sense. Still doesn’t. I may be experience enthusiasm for something, or be enthused in response to, but I do. Not. Ever. Simply ENTHUSE. Really bad clue, and I’d love to know whether the editor even tried to fix it. That single Blarg (as OFL would say) nearly ruined this otherwise pretty decent Friday for me. But I got over it. Mostly.

What I really liked was the “offset/offsets” clues and answers. Excellent. My flow (no gushes today) finally improved when I put shoes in for “some sneaks, but thought for sure that Imight actually need a brand. Immediately thereafter got INGA, OAKLAND and RESSES and when checking the downs I knew KANSAS which allowed me to put on my NIKES and pretty much jog my way left through the SW and diagonally back up to the NE. The longer answers were fine but nothing in those three stacks was a SURE FIRE HIT.

Overall though this was an enjoyable Friday. And any of you constructors in the neighborhood are free to use my Roll/MUG combo idea. Without attribution. Just kidding. Have a lovely weekend everybody. Peace out.✌️

GILL I. 1:58 PM  

@JD fancied my tickle today with her "Ask your doctor about celeriac." I wish you could've heard me giggle....

DigitalDan 2:00 PM  

I thought a CELERIAC was someone addicted to fast driving.

Penna Resident 2:04 PM  

im guessing someone doesnt go to live rock concerts. just because you can watch a youtube video of zeppelin doesnt mean you were not BORN TOO LATE to see them live in 73. i saw INXS when they were the opening act for adam ant, which is a memorable life experience. it was a new band in the US. talking heads, B52s, the clash, dead kennedys are not classic rock but you cannot compare those live shows to an mp3. my parents wouldnt let me see zeppelin in 79 before bonham died. guess i was BORN TOO LATE for that.

Teedmn 2:18 PM  

Ach, just got why "Hypothesized" = SAID. Forehead smack!

okanaganer 2:20 PM  

Quite simply Challenging for me! Only a few times a year does it take me over 30 minutes.

I agree the clue for TEETH is just wrong. I resisted with all my might, until the crosses made it unavoidable.

Typeovers: PICO DE -AL-- had to be SALSA not GALLO; BUTTING IN ON; SINGS instead of SYNCS ("Harmonizes"!); and briefly considered SUCRES for CHERIE.

[Spelling Bee: yd 12 min to pg; 0 and QB (breaking a 3 day drought) in the evening after the crossword. I think 13 across helped me get my last word.]

Whatsername 2:28 PM  

@JD (7:10) Brilliant imagery in your CELERIAC commercial. I was thinking along those same lines only in terms of something for high cholesterol. I like your version much better. 😄

MkB 2:41 PM  

Got really worked over by the fact that BUTTING, HORNING, and BARGING all have the same number of letters and make perfect sense.

I also spent too long convincing myself that it couldn't be PEELE, even though I filled it in within the first 30 seconds or so.

Also, the classic rock stations all at least 50 percent music from Gen Z's adolescence, so that really falls flat. Gen Z music is classic rock today.

MkB 2:43 PM  

Ah wait, Z not X. I guess that works than.

apetch 3:10 PM  


Nice Key and Peele reference... The first time I ever heard the word Churlish was in the substitute teacher skit.

Anoa Bob 3:16 PM  

I thought that 1 Across "Puzzling start?" would be, well, 1 ACROSS. Puzzling, that.

CELERIAC sounds like a part of the G.I. tract prone to occlusion and inflammation from eating too much SPICED foods.

French physician Paul BROCA (42A) should be familiar to anyone who has taken Intro Psych. His patient was code named "Tan" because that was the only sound he could make. The area of his brain where damage was found became known as Broca's Area. It controls speech production but is only one of several areas involved in language. "Broca's Brain" is a 1979 book by one of my science heroes, Carl Sagan.

Thanks to the Anons who chimed in on Classical Latin. I was going to tell @Zed from last night that if he thinks Classical Latin is only a figment of my imagination then there are a slew of web sites, including Wiki, that he needs to set straight.

I think it would take a Herculean effort to get the Venn diagram circles for 6D SAID and its clue "Hypothesized" to overlap. And then only marginally so.

A SUREFIRE HIT for any Tex-Mex eatery is making their own PICO DE GALLO fresh daily.

Yes, thanks for asking, I did notice a raft of entries that needed a letter count boost to fill their slots, including some of the longer ones such as OMELETE BAR, CHAT BOT, DROP CLOTH, COUNTERACT, GARAGE DOOR and SLEEP IN. Although there was lots to like in this fine puzzle, the committee did give the grid a POC assisted rating.

jberg 3:22 PM  

OK, I too failed to realize that you might call your loved one "sweets," which could be CHERIE. So thinking it had to be plural, I put in CHERes, giving me not only TsETH but SeTES right above it. And it was only after reading these comments that I realized the the puzzling start was not 1-across, but the word ACROSS right above 1-A. Also, thinking of an artist rather than someone painting walls, I figued said artist might wear gLOvES, which at one point were DRiP GlOvES. I think it was finding COUNTERACTS that cleared up that whole section.

I got 42A because I vaguely remembered a novel named BROCS's Brain; turns out it is not a novel but a collection of essays by Carl Sagan; but it was enough.

OTOH, although I'm very familiar with Three Kings Day, my brain couldn't think of anything but "Dia de los Muertos," leaving no room for REYES to slip in.

Still, it all came right in the end, and a good time was had by all.

Two points about CELERIAC. First, the clue specified a root vegetable, but it also mentioned those stringy stalks -- so I first put in CELERIes! Second, I love the taste, but don't cook it much because it is so hard to peel. So thank you, thank you, thank you @CDilly, for explaining that peeling is not necessafy. I can't wait to try roasting.

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

If you were born to late means you wish you were around for all the great bands

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

@Anon 2:13 - You seem to miss the point that @Zed said in three sentences the entirety of what you copied from Wikipedia - Some dudes in the period you referenced called the Latin of the time Classical Latin, while it was neither more nor less "Classical" than 100 years prior or later. It was just a snapshot of a brief period.

sixtyni yogini 4:23 PM  

Ditto, 🦖!
BORNTOLATE (👍🏽) for this one or too early…

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

The puzzle was on the easier side for me. Enjoyed it. But on the subject of omelets (or omelettes or omlets): I'm with whoever said 'omelette station' is more normal than 'omelette bar'. I'm a bit of an omelette nut; I try to emulate Jacques Pepin in making a perfect French omelette. And I just got back from Paris, only to report that while the Parisian omelettes were better, on average, than the ones in diners and luncheonettes anywhere near me in New York, they were not Pepin-esque. I have embarrassed my family by standing at various omelette stations telling the cook that, first, no, I don't want any fillings at all in the omelette (they think that is TOTALLY weird), and will they please fold it instead of flipping it, and will they please put it on my plate NOW, before it gets brown.....

dgs 6:27 PM  

Reading Facing the Mountain now. Wonderful book.
And while the Nisei heros from the West Coast were fighting in Italy, their parents were in concentration camps.

Pete 6:27 PM  

I was so proud of myself to have gotten CORNER for 1D (Buttonhole) right of the bat that it made that quadrant a bear.

It did remind me of one great life lesson I've learned as a NJ resident. Most first-time visitors to NJ know it only by the trip between NYC and Newark Airport, via any of the Holland, Lincoln Tunnels or the George Washington or Goethel's Bridges. Whichever route you take, you are treated to the most noxious atmosphere outside the lower levels of Hell, or Washington DC. This is why most people think of NJ as a dump. Don't get me wrong, it largely is a dump, but a different dump that that. However, that particular, miniscule portion of NJ permanently fixes the image of the entirety of NJ for many people. Such was my opinion of this puzzle - it probably wasn't at all as bad as the NW corner, but there it is.

A 7:37 PM  

Can someone who’s still around this late explain the ? after “Key partner”? Once I had PEEL- I realized I’d heard “Key and PEELE” but was thrown by the idea that the ? meant it wasn’t a literal partner.

GO HOME reminded me of Tracey Ullman. She used to end her old 80s show with it. Talk about saucy, and what a genius.

@Gill and @CDilly, thanks for the CELERIAC recipes! Love the idea of using it to stuff chicken (CDilly’s “wrap in foul”). Actually, I couldn’t think of CELERIAC even after I had the —R-AC, and tried to cheat by looking up tubers, then root vegetables. It never showed up! Made me try to force turmeric to work, or some variation of konjac.

So instead I cheated on BUTTONHOLE. I’d never heard that term, but it’s awesome. From
1560s, "hole or loop in which a button is caught," from button (n.) + hole (n.). The verb, also buttonhole, meaning "to detain (someone) in conversation against his will" (1862) was earlier button-hold (1834), from button-holder (1806, in this sense). The image is of holding someone by the coat-button so as to detain him.

Now I’m wondering about a trick puzzle involving a BUTTONHOLding BUTTHOLE.

Can people with CELIAC disease eat CELERIAC?

So ACCOST made me realize my first guess for 1A, which I resisted, had been right after all. That in turn confirmed CHEMLAB and SAID, which I also had resisted. I still think SAID is SAD. @M&A’s very good example even used the present, not past, tense. I did see right through the PARTICIPLE misdirect, but INSOLENTLY was completely covered in fresh PICO DE GALLO.

Other holdups were (noisy) yawnS for SNORES and misspelling REESES with a c.

Tough, sideways cluing, SPICED with interesting longs. Now time to pick up Thai and GO HOME!

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

Right! I’m glad I’m not the only one annoyed by that.

GILL I. 10:16 PM  

@dgs 6:27. Kindred spirits. It is a wonderful book. I'm almost done and I don't want to be done.

@A,,, HAH. I'm betting anyone one (including REX) can rid himself of CELIAC disease by eating CELERIAC. Just ask JD's doctor.

Zed 10:57 PM  

After posting this morning I walked downstairs to the breakfast at the Clayton Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. The host pointed out the continental breakfast, the hot breakfast, and the OMELET station. My OMELET was tasty.

@Anon - Who are you talking to? (They’re gone now but I can guess) To draw a modern parallel, the notion of “classical Latin” is the same as some professor at Harvard deciding that Elizabethan Court Language is “Classical English” and everything else is lesser, uneducated, and vulgar. Well, they’re probably right about the vulgar part.

@JD - I swear it wasn’t me. I have better control of my throws than that.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

I’m 58 and my 26 year old daughter does the puzzle, so I think about it through her eyes. Most days there are 3+ clues that no one under 50 would know. Some days, even more. Recently, off the top of my head: SAL [mineo], VALLI, PAAR. These were before my time, even. So the presence of a few current idioms seems like more than fair play,

oldactor 8:11 PM  

To whoever said that a martini was just a glass of gin would say a fine wine is just a glass of grape juice. A Martini is a work of art and I am a master. I've had them from the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London to fancy bars in Tokyo. When well made it is the most perfect cocktail ever invented. Some say it was at the Martinez Bar in CA in the 1800s. I am renowned, locally, for the perfect Martini and believe me its not just a glass of gin. It requires a frozen pitcher, frozen Christal glasses, decent gin, excellent Vermouth, stirring at least 50 times and premium olives. I have at least two every evening and that's what I attribute to my 90 healthy years. Glass of gin? Sacrilege!

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