Title bestowed by a sultan / FRI 10-7-22 / Bagful purchased at a nursery / Car modified into the Monkeemobile / Priestess of Hecate / Coffee-growing region on the Big Island / Lead-in to a Southern Ville / Animal that the Aztecs called ayotochtli or turtle-rabbit

Friday, October 7, 2022

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Weirdly Challenging

THEME: "KETANJI / BROWN / JACKSON" (33A: With 38- and 43-Across, history-making SCOTUS appointee — it's actually themeless, but Justice Jackson takes up the whole middle of the puzzle, and is *by far* the best thing in the grid  

Word of the Day: BOGO (37A: Sale incentive, informally) —
a sales promotion in which an item is offered free or at a reduced price when another item is purchased at full price (merriam-webster.com) [short for "buy one, get one"]
• • •

Wonderful to see that KETANJI / BROWN / JACKSON stack in the middle of the puzzle today, but a lot less wonderful to see almost everything else in this grid. I do not understand why this puzzle was accepted beyond the very cool Supreme Court Justice name arrangement. The average New Yorker puzzle absolutely torches this puzzle at the level of overall grid quality. If you are going to pay tribute to this "history-making SCOTUS appointee," you should either build an actual theme around her, or else drop her into the middle of an absolutely Fire grid. She deserves better than this, is what I'm saying. The only thing besides her name that took the needle into "happy" territory today was the clue on MAC 'N' CHEESE (26D: Comfort food with shortening?). Good answer, great clue—nice misdirection there with "shortening" (which here refers to the "shortening," i.e. abbreviation, MAC ... and 'N', I guess). In all other parts of the grid, I was either COOLLY filling in boxes or else grimacing at yet another cutesy clue. Puzzle: "How fast does a ___ have to run before it looks gray?" Me: "... HOUND?" Puzzle: [4D: One in a galley]. Me: "No idea." Puzzle later: [6DOne in a galley]. Me again: "We've been over this." And then the puzzle pulls the identical clue gimmick *again* with STALE / HUMID? It all feels like distraction from the fact that there are no marquee answers in this thing besides Justice Jackson. KONA COAST and EGGBEATER are fine, as is HANGER-ON, but not much else here is worth the price of admission. 

["Am I ... gray?"]

What is with the prudish clue on CLEAVAGE? (6A: Sharp divide). We know what you were thinking breasts, why not just clue it that way? It's fine. Nothing wrong with CLEAVAGE. You have GOES ALL IN in your puzzle and yet you refuse to "go all in" with the CLEAVAGE clue. Come on. The most annoying thing about the puzzle was all the ambiguity, especially around two-part answers, like ___ GAME, ___ NAME, END ___, and especially TEA ___, which half the solving world will have written in as ROOM, since that is the much much much more likely term for the place where you actually have a "spot" of tea. I think of a TEA SHOP as a place where you buy the tea that you then make at home yourself. I'm sure the clue is technically right, on some level, but putting in ROOM and then having to pull it for something worse in a puzzle that was already short on joy ... not a highlight. First I'm ever hearing of someone named FDR, JR. so that was an interesting one to parse (21D: First chairman of the E.E.O.C., familiarly). Besides writing in HOUND at 1A, my other errors included "I SWEAR" before "I SAW IT" (17A: Words from a witness), STREUDEL (sp.!?) before STREUSEL (67A: Crumbly topping), ALPACA before ANGORA (41A: Fluffy fur source), and EMINEM before EILISH (66A: At 18, the youngest person to sweep the four main Grammy categories (Song, Album, Record, Best New Artist)), although there I knew EMINEM was wrong even as I was writing the letters in. I was just stalling to give myself time to remember Billie EILISH's name. 

You're really going with Vikki Carr (!?!?!?!) for your HIM clue (64D: Vikki Carr's "It Must Be ___"). That ... is a choice. I wouldn't mind seeing VIKKI in a puzzle, but ... eh, well, it was a #3 song in 1967, so it's worthy enough, I guess. Just nowhere near my wheelhouse (and I spent years listening almost exclusively to "oldies" stations as a teenager). Speaking of 1967, the Monkees. And speaking of Car(r)s—they had a -mobile. I would've guessed it was a (VW) BUG, but no, it's GTO, which is also a 3-letter car from that era (27D: Car modified into the Monkeemobile). The Pontiac GTO was Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1968. They stopped making them in 1974. And yet GTO appeared more times in 2018 (seven) than it did in 2008 (four) or 1998 (three). How is GTO getting *more* popular? Curious. Fascinating, actually. Most bygone three-letter crosswordese has abated in recent years, but the GTO just keeps cruising along. Bizarrely—extremely bizarrely—there was only one occurrence of GTO before the Shortz era!? And that was in 1984, ten years after they stopped making the damn car. Quite a crossword afterlife this car is having.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:14 AM  

All the overwrites @Rex reported (hound before ZEBRA, TEAroOm before SHOP, AlpacA before ANGORA, etc.), but my Monkeemobile was based on an lTd. Medium-Challenging.

Anonymous 6:39 AM  

the app has 33-down KONACOAST mistakenly (?) highlighted on 38- and 43- down so wasted a lot trying to figure out a connection between KBJ and coffee.

JD 6:46 AM  

Tried to imagine how the frat house at the NYT could sink any lower than Ass Hat, but Jerkwad as a clue just turned it into nostalgia for a more innocent time. Treat yourself to the many definitions google offers. The one involving a tissue might be my breaking point with the NYT. Come on.

OffTheGrid 6:54 AM  

Lots of things wrong with this. Typical too cute Friday cluing, for just one. And then there's Jerkwad/TOOL. If you don't know what's inappropriate about that you're fortunate. I am far from being a prig but discretion is important. Now I'll see what Rex has to say.

kitshef 7:05 AM  

We all just filled in FDRJR with no crosses, right?

Struggled a lot with this one; never really felt in sync with the clues.

If you are celebrating JACKSON, why not give us an Arthur clue for ASHE? It’s not like you avoided an extra PPP entry the way you clued it.

Hard Friday normally presages an easy Saturday … we’ll see.

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

Easy puzzle. Getting Justice Jackson helped. Enjoyed 11D, 23A, 33D, 50A, 60A, and 67A, maybe because I just wrote them in.

Son Volt 7:28 AM  

Last Saturday we had Natan Last glom up a grid using a cross of two full names - GERTRUDE STEIN x OCEAN VUONG. Today we get a hold my beer moment. No issue with giving KBJ her props but filling the entire center of the puzzle with her name on a Friday is a poor choice. Agree with the big guy - set aside a Sunday and build a tribute puzzle with all that extra room.

The only ZEBRA I know

The baseball sub-theme here is kind of neat - although the second half of a double dip is always the night cap. I like STREUSEL - but keep the MAC N CHEESE.

FEMME Fatale

If you’re teaching a crossword construction class - this is a case study on how to ruin a Friday.

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

I could have written this column my very own self if I had Rex's knowledge of crossword construction and history and his wit. So...never mind. Especially irksome: You buy tea in a TEA SHOP; you drink (a spot of) tea in a TEA room.

Exceptions, vis a vis the Rex twinsies thing.
- Knew STREUSEL because I bake.
- No problem with the Vicki Carr clue. It was a major feature of the movie "Moonstruck," which probably extended its popularity.
- GTO. Beach Boys. End of story.

As for Judge Brown-Jackson, her first day on the court was one of the very rare pieces of good news this week, so yeah: lovely to see her here. Wish she'd been surrounded by more good stuff.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

Yesterday, Beezer mentioned Infinite Jest. This magisterial novel contains a fictional reference to “Natick” in the Notes and Errata Section, page 1,045, note #248.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

Ditto on all the overwrites. A bit of a chore.

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Ugh…clues as contrived and weirdly twisted as an armadillo in an eggbeater.

Edward 7:59 AM  

The Pontiac GTO was Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1968. They stopped making them in 1974.

Hate to be the one to break it to you, but Pontiac revived the GTO name from 2004-06 for a coupe based on the Holden Monaro, itself based on the Holden Commodore sedan. Sort of a last sporty gasp from the marque, which went defunct in 2010.

SouthsideJohnny 8:07 AM  

Was caught completely off guard by Chemical PEEL has I never heard of it and just didn’t want to believe it was the right answer. I’m also probably one of the few people in the English speaking world that have never heard of Ms. EILISH. Lot’s of hit and miss clues - Rex pointed out the misses, and there are plenty of them. Ambitious puzzle in that regard (taking some chances with the cluing) - but it strayed too far into the “got ya” zone for my taste.

Lewis 8:16 AM  

A puzzle by two pros that had no cons, IMO. At some points I felt like I was soaring across the freeway, and at others it was like bumper-to-bumper – in a puzzle, I love both. Some random observations that came from looking at the finished grid:

• The Demetri Martin ZEBRA quote got me in a good mood right from the start. The word right below ZEBRA is APRONS, and when I looked up some more of Demetri’s quips, I found this: “Nothing wise was ever printed on an apron”.
• A quartet of answers rolls so sweetly off the tongue, like music: KONA COAST, RIOJA, ARMADILLO, ANGORA.
• Always a joy to see my hometown Asheville make it in.
• I keep seeing I SAW IT as IS A WIT.
• A lovely selection of drink references with RIOJA, KONA COAST, and TEASHOP.
• Cool snaking line of five L’s in the NE.
• Uber-witty clue: [Comfort food with shortening?] for MAC ‘N CHEESE.

I used to finish a puzzle, and that was it – on with the day. But then I started taking a few minutes to look the grid over after finishing the puzzle, and found it so enriching that it’s become a habit. Thank you, Mary and Jeff, for a terrific during and after. This is your 14th collab, and I hope it’s not your last!

Twangster 8:20 AM  

Initially had KATANJI instead of KETANJI, and was unable to sort out the EGGBEATER/ANGORA area until looking up the correct spelling.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

Nothing comes of nothing ! Twaddle.

Compson1 8:49 AM  

This was Hot Garbage in places. Justice Jackson rules though. Her explanation on Wednesday of the origins of the 14th Amendment was absolute fire.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

I wish she was surrounded by better stuff at the Court as well.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carola 9:03 AM  

Very challenging for me, with so many of the clues leaving me with a blank stare, until I was able to get traction at the cross of KONA COAST and STREUSEL (= cup of coffee and some apple crisp). That not only helped with the SW corner, but the K for KETANJI BROWN JACKSON provided entry into the rest. Even then, it was a workout for me to fill the grid, but I found it much more rewarding than @Rex did, with MAC N CHEESE the biggest payoff.

Do-over: congo before ZAIRE. No idea: ELIS, HIM.
Help from cross-referenced clue: GNU got me ZEBRA and my entry into the NW.
Dunce-cap moment: "RIOJA can't be right because nobody's name ends in I."

Barbara S. 9:04 AM  

As a non-American, I didn’t know KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, which didn’t help one little bit. Thankfully, BROWN and JACKSON were inferable with crosses, but KETANJI gave me a lot of grief. In fact, I DNFed (if you want to call it that) at the KETANJI/TOOL cross. I had KEFANJI/FOOL, which seemed plausible.

Lighten up, Rex! I thought the ZEBRA quotation was a bit of a giggle. Probably because I got it early, which led me to fill in the whole NW corner at the beginning of the solve, something which I’m hardly ever able to do. I also made the “I Swear”/I SAW IT error at first but corrected it quickly. (Here’s another achingly ambiguous clue for ISAWIT: Oscar Wilde ________).

I think we have this same discussion every time TEA SHOP comes up: do you drink tea there or buy it to take home? I think you do both, but it’s perhaps worth noting that Wiki prefers the terms “teahouse” or “tea room”. I didn’t know about Seattle being the EMERALD City, but given its verdant greenery, that nickname makes sense.

ATTILA: The constructors missed a golden opportunity to include Pope LEO I (crossword regular) in the clue for ATTILA. The two met in 452 and somehow it seems that the Pope persuaded ATTILA to discontinue his attack on northern Italy. My proclivities are such that I often view history in terms of art, and here’s Raphael’s depiction of the scene. Per the painting, ATTILA was so impressed by the armed figures of Sts. Peter and Paul in the sky that he ceased and desisted but, although no one really knows, it was probably the anticipated privations of the coming winter that caused him to go home.

OK, enough rambling. Happy Friday to all.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Got stuck multiple times but really jammed in the southeast — tea room breaks just about everything, My Shakespeare (?) is weak and Eminem had me trying to make Vikki Carr’s hit “It Must Be Hmm,” a ballad where she reconsiders her life choices and gives HIM the boot. Very hard one for me. My average/this week graph is disturbing.

Sir Hillary 9:08 AM  

Pay no attention to the man behind the review -- that's just Mr. Anti-Chen.

This puzzle was fine. KBJ deserves center stage as her first SC session begins. The price for that: things like FDRJR. Worth it, in my view.

HANGERON, KONACOAST, EGGBEATER, MACNCHEESE, STOLENBASE, ANGORA, ATTILA, BACILLUS, CLEAVAGE -- love 'em all. And the shorter fill is fine -- not stellar, but not terrible either.

Far less enamored with the green-painty LATEGAME (it's called a nightcap) and ISAWIT, which I can't help parsing as IS A WIT.

All in all, a worthy Friday.

Joaquin 9:11 AM  

I was astounded to see that the Gray Lady clued 35D as she did. The clue would have been just as correct (but not as shocking) if it had simply said in one syllable what it said in two: Jerk / TOOL.

Note: I am not offended or horrified, just surprised. Why use such a questionable clue?

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Amy: liked this more than most of you. Know Vikki Carr and can hum her song, also know Billie Eilish so perhaps ppl with similar wheelhouses are happy today. Love the tribute to Justice Brown Jackson; she was a bright spot in the news this week!

pabloinnh 9:29 AM  

Looks like Lewis and I are the only two people who are in the "liked it" group on this one. I started with EPSOM which begat EMERALD and away I rode, finishing up in the NW from whence I started. I think OFL's complaints are based mostly on overwrites causing loss of precious nanoseconds.

The double "galley clues" were OK, as I had CHEF for one which left ROWER for the other, although I briefly considered OARER, and was happy to see that didn't work.

The suspense is over on how long it will take our newest Supreme Court Justice to make an appearance. Happy to say I remembered her name with minimal hesitation. Made me wonder if just plain JACKSON BROWNE has showed up in the NYTXW.

TEASHOP took a beat, as I am used to seeing it as "Ye Olde Tea Shoppe".

Liked the baseball references. My team is done for the year but I think the playoffs are going to be very interesting. Pretty sure the team I decide to root for will get bounced instanter.

I thought this was a very nice Friday, MLG and JC. My Lasting Gratitude for the Jokey Clues, and thanks for all the fun.

Gary Jugert 9:35 AM  

Well, there ya go. Another Friday. Early solvers rue their 12¢ investment, possibly due to the expectation Friday will take them to puzzling Nirvana. This seemed about the normal level of Friday blah to me. The clue for CABLES seemed particularly "tangled," but outside of it, everything fell into the same old, "Welcome to definition #6 day."


1 Referee disagreement.
2 Denver Broncos last night (yes, plural).
3 Fearless breakfast chef.


Nancy 9:36 AM  

Everything a fiendishly challenging and highly engrossing puzzle should be. But what on earth is a BOGO? Rex doesn't even mention it, so it must be familiar to everyone but me.

Let's start with the wonderful 1A: ZEBRA. What a fantastic way to start off a puzzle -- with an intriguing riddle. I thought and thought until my forehead bulged, but couldn't come up with the answer without the B from BRAVE. I probably should have known ZAIRE immediately, but I didn't. A ZEBRA turns gray when it runs really fast???!!! What a wonderful riddle!

I love when a trap is planned by the constructors. I fell into the I SWEAR mislead (instead of I SAW IT) and I bet most of you did too.

Another deliberate mislead: EMT before ENT (8D). It's all in how you clue it.

It was nice to see KETANJI BROWN JACKSON talking up so much real estate. And it's hard to believe that someone I never heard of won all those Grammys at such a young age.

A superior puzzle by real pros. I struggled, but I enjoyed the struggle a lot.

Bob Mills 9:39 AM  

Good puzzle. But the clue JUST (as in ("by a narrow margin") should apply to the adverb MERELY, not to the adjective MERE.

RooMonster 10:02 AM  

Hey All !
As a non news watcher, and a believer that All politicians suck ass, regardless of political party, I had no idea who the center person was. Had to Goog for her first name, as was stuck in the SW section.

Couple other Googs to keep the puz moving along. Sycophant was one. I've heard the word, but the ole brain decided not to know what it meant. I'm sure I'll forget the meaning the next time I run across it. Falstaffian was the other. I've heard the name, but didn't know it correlated to OBESE-ness. Huh, will forget that also next time, more than likely. Silly brain.

Some fun Chen-ian clues sprinkled throughout. TOES was chuckle worthy. Wanted to put a & symbol twixt MAC and CHEESE, thinking how neat someone's middle name had a & symbol in it! Got the N, and was a little disappointed.

True KEA/LOA moment today. Wrote in the A and went on my merry way. Had TEAcafe first, then TEAcart. Thought about TEASpOt, but spot was in the clue. mUsty for HUMID first.

Nice puz overall. Happy Friday y'all.

Three F's

kitshef 10:05 AM  

@Nancy 9:36 - BOGO is Rex's word of the day To save you time I'll copy it here: Word of the Day: BOGO (37A: Sale incentive, informally) — : a sales promotion in which an item is offered free or at a reduced price when another item is purchased at full price (merriam-webster.com) [short for "buy one, get one"]

Suzie 10:10 AM  

I got Billie EILISH, but it made me angry. No one refers to her solely by her last name. If you want just her last name in a puzzle, save it for Monday and clue it appropriately.

I also hate "EGGBEATER" for "helicopter," but that's mostly because I've never heard of one referred to that way outside of a crossword puzzle.

Mostly, I suppose I'm just glad I'm not alone in finding this one hard and unsatisfying.

Diego 10:12 AM  

Thank you constructors for KJB!
The puzzle was fine, typical tough Friday with predictable acidIc comments—directed at Chen and Shortz—from OFL.

mathgent 10:15 AM  

@Sir Hillary (9:08). Bingo!

Rex is in a slump. He hasn't written anything noteworthy for days.

Did Rex not get the zebra joke? I loved it.

I was wondering whether "jerkwad" is in the standard dictionaries. Yes, it is. It was one of the new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2019.

Alice Pollard 10:16 AM  

never heard of brown-Jackson. wanted Sandra Day OConnor or RBG. STOLENBASE? I do not get the clue “One has to make a run for it”??? Liked the MACNCHEESE clue. Hard puzzle. Billy Eilish - I do not get the appeal. She drones on and on. Just not my taste.

jberg 10:19 AM  

I liked it myselff, though chemical PEEL stumped me; I needed all crosses, and then had to think quite a while to understand it. I'm guessing it's some kind of beauty treatment, as opposed to a coating you put on tomatoes so that they can withstand the rigors of a cross-country trip to market.

To be fair to the puzzle, I think a TEA roOm is a room in your suite of offices where you can get tea (in this country, it would be a coffee room), whereas a TEA SHOP is a commercial establishment. I do think it's a Britishism though.

@NANCY, BOGO is Rex's Word of the Day -- I'm guessing your eye skipped lightly over that to get to the main writeup. I often do that.

Whoever asked, AlpacAs have wool, ANGORAs have fur.

As for CABLES being a tangled mess, no "maybe" about it.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 10:32 AM  

Fabulous puzzle! Yes, lots of overwrites. But that was part of the fun. The cluing is classic! By which I mean the entry is contained in the clue if you read it shrewdly enough. Starting right with 1A—which I did NOT immediately get, but in retrospect, I see how the entry is contained in the clue. I love the SFW naughtiness of CLEAVAGE. The wit of clues like "Take care of for the family?" Again, I did not get the entry when I first read the clue, but it sank in as I went along. Great puzzle, which is no shocker, given the construction team.

mmorgan 10:32 AM  

I SWEAR I had ROOM and STREUDEL. Most of the entire SW corner a complete brick wall to me, and for the first time in ages I gave up and cheated with Google. Loved seeing KBJ in the middle but this was Not On My Wavelength.

bocamp 10:47 AM  

Thx, Mary Lou & Jeff, for a very COOL Fri. creation! :)


Easy top section, altho I had EmT before ENT, which gave me HAmGERON. Kept my COOL and made a mental note to come back to sort it out at the end.

The remaining fill was normal Fri. fare, except for the SW, where I started to 'crumble'; just not on the right wavelength at all in this area.

Had KONA, and finally twigged on ANGORA / RED, which opened the way for a successful conclusion. Went back and changed the EmT to ENT, and Bob was my uncle! :)

ELIS & BOGO were new; COOLLY just didn't look right, but apparently the extra 'L' is correct.

Loved the clue for ZEBRA.

The EMERALD 'City' is such an apt 'nickname' for 'Seattle'.

Attended many a Portland Beavers 'doubleheader' back in the '50s, especially when the 'Seattle' Rainiers were in town.

After moving from Portland to Eugene in the mid-'50s, attended Eugene EMERALDs GAMEs.

All the best to KETANJI BROWN JACKSON as she embarks on her 'SCOTUS' tenure.

Invigorating adventure this AM; liked it a lot! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:48 AM  

I wrote KETANJI BROWN JACKSON into an empty grid and then tacked ARMADILLO onto it. Off to a roaring start for a Friday, I thought. Then I bogged down. But it was a feel-good moment.

sixtyni yogini 10:49 AM  

Just can’t dislike a 🧩 with KITANJI BROWN JACKSON. In it. 🤸🏽‍♀️🤩🤸🏽‍♀️
And can’t dislike a 🧩 because it was hard, even if I really want to.
I think 🦖 pointed out an overly ambiguous clue - and I balked at the misleading SHARP divide for CLEAVAGE. IMO a sharp divide would be a crevice.
Okay just some nitting needles. 😂.
So this one was difficult for sure with some unfairness, and for me -honestly 🤗 not a barrel of fun But KITANJI Rocked it! 🤩

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

The NE was impossible today.

GILL I. 11:00 AM  

Ay Dios mío. My favorite puzzle day and you throw in TOOL? Can I come sit next to you, @JD?
I guess you can say I was tooling around just fine until I met my Sisyphean failure at the juncture of FDRJR and KETANJI. I didn't know how to spell her first name. I will remember it now but FDRJR can sit in a corner and suck his thumb.
I COOLY (ugh) noticed a STOLEN BASE, END PLAYS AND LATE GAME and briefly wondered if this was some sort of baseball thingie. I mean you give us the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court Justice shining through the puzzle and surround her with STALE and HUMID nothings. I did like the ZEBRA, ARMADILLO, ANGORA and GNU because, well, because I like animals and I'm sure the ESTEEMED Mrs. JACKSON does as well.
I like Mary Lou and Jeff's crosswords but this one felt like a WASTE of space. I agree with @Rex in that a theme should've been built around her. A missed opportunity to pay tribute to our newest SCOTUS.
This week's puzzles have been mehish...(a made up word that we see in the NYT) and I hope mañana brings on a smile. Now I'm OFFS to read the rest of you and hope I don't sound like a pendeja....

jae 11:04 AM  

Medium. Top half pretty easy, bottom half tougher (@Rex et. al., spelling STREUSEL was a challenge and TEA roOm before SHOP didn’t help). On the other hand, the KONA COAST gimme was helpful. I also knew JACKSON but needed almost all the crosses to get her first name. I thought this was fine, liked it quite a bit more than @Rex did.

Nancy 11:08 AM  

Missed it completely in exactly the way you surmised. Thanks, @jberg.

Joseph Michael 11:08 AM  

Fun and challenging puzzle. Loved the clues for ZEBRA, ARMADILLO, and MAC N CHEESE. Don’t understand why Rex is so critical today, except perhaps for the Chen name in the byline?

Liveprof 11:10 AM  

If you could use a little more joy in your life (and who couldn't?), listen to The Gnu Song, by Flanders and Swann at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqgPyqyh4X4

Grouch 11:15 AM  

I had high hopes from 1A. Clever. My brain said "Gray is black and white, what animal is black and white and runs.?" Too bad it pretty much went downhill from there. I was briefly proud of entering
finishline for "One has to make a run for it", Nightcap for "Second half of a doubleheader" (LATEGAME is terrible-Hi Sir Hillary & Son Volt), Whirlybird(oops too long) for helicopter.

A TUBA is a player? How does that work?

MACNCHEESE clue was severely strained.

Base ten/TOES is dumb.

No real theme but too gimmicky for a Friday. Cross references and repeated clues.

beverly c 11:16 AM  

Not a great experience but the failure was mine. I made a couple of dumb errors today. I couldn’t see CABLES and wondered if the helicopter was an angryater - so waspish. Plus ice for ICY. To make matters worse, omy for OMG - I wasn’t looking for text-speak and threw my hands up with yTO. Not my best job.

It was fun when I changed TEAroom to TEASHOP and suddenly that whole corner came together. The same thing happened in the NW when I recalled EPSOM.


Newboy 11:19 AM  

Ambiguity is a hallmark of LATE week grids, so I was less grumpy than Rex though equally mystified filling full puzzle. ZEBRA & ZAIRE fell instantly, but other areas, OMG! With KONA COAST in place I GNU that the nursery would have sOil by the bag, so LOAM grew very slowly today. But the embarrassment for the day was instantly knowing our historic new justice but totally blanking on her names spelling ….JACKSON, BROWN & KETANJI finally emerged from the fog in that reversed order. Not a memorable moment in solving as was yesterday’s experience, but certainly a worthy Friday tussle.

egsforbreakfast 11:42 AM  

I hear that Apple TV is planning a sharp turn in a popular series. The protagonist quits his job as a British football coach to start a career working in a galley. It’s to be called CHEF LASSO.

Er… uh… is a jerkwad something a teen boy JACKSON while thinking about CLEAVAGE? Asking for a friend.

As many have noted, there are a few wonderful clue/answers, particularly ZEBRA and MACNCHEESE. I think of them as the Sotomayor and Kagan of this puzzle. Combined with KETANJI JACKSON BROWN, they make me smile. Then there are a bunch of not so wonderful clue/answers. Can you guess how I think of them?

I actually enjoyed this puzzle a lot and found it easy for a Friday. Did it in less than half the time of yesterday’s. Thanks, Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen.

tkincher 11:50 AM  

@Anonymous 7:29

-GTO. Beach Boys. End of story.

Not the end! While the Beach Boys did do "Little Deuce Coupe" and "Little Red Honda", and Jan & Dean had "Mighty GTO", the song "G.T.O." is by Ronny & the Daytonas.

Although it appears the Beach Boys did cover the song at some point, the only album I can find it listed on is 1998's "Mike Love, Bruce Johnston & David Marks Of The Beach Boys Salute NASCAR".

Anyway, I also found this puzzle challenging but for different reasons. I did enjoy sussing out ARMADILLO.

Whatsername 11:51 AM  

Oh so close to taking aim at Nancy’s Wall this morning but decided I would not allow my Friday start with a fail before I even finished my coffee - which BTW, I happened to be drinking out of the cup I brought home from Hilo Hattie’s on Maui, along with a bag of KONA coffee. Delicious stuff!

Besides the obvious headliner, the best part of this puzzle was the clue for MAC N CHEESE. As for the rest, I agree with Rex, the Honorable Justice JACKSON deserved better. Nothing supreme about it.

The Joker 11:52 AM  

@egs. The teen boy JACKSON his TOOL.

Carroll Shelby 11:54 AM  

There're a lot more cars with GTO in there name (and long before, and still) than Pontiac, which co-opted the term from them.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Very fitting tribute to KMJ early in her tenure, thanks Mary Lou and Jeff. Hope more Justices like her join the SCOTUS!

Liveprof 12:04 PM  

This puzzle brought me back fifty years, and turned me into a pimply, gawking, teenage boy again: I SAW IT. CLEAVAGE. OMG!

The APRONS clue reminded me of a sign I saw in a music store window once: Violin for sale. Only $25. No strings attached.

Demetri Martin is a funny comedian with a very dry wit. Along the lines of Steven Wright who said, "I am OK with heights but have a fear of widths."

Ulysses 12:11 PM  

It must be that time of the month for rex/regina.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  


Haven't seen or heard Steven Wright in ages. He was (is?) Woody Allen with class. IMHO. Let's go see...

Well, yes: "Wright was ranked as the 15th Greatest Comedian by Rolling Stone in its 2017 list of the 50 Greatest Stand-up Comics."
-- the wiki (and the page name checks Allen. Who knew?)

And he's of Taxachusetts!!

old timer 12:23 PM  

Hey, Rex, old buddy, old Pal! It's Saturday. The clues are supposed to be a bit tricky. I withheld my pen from a lot of answers precisely because my first guess was, I was sure, very likely to be off. Even when I guessed MEDEA early, I waited for confirmation. I never thought of her as a priestess of Hecate. I certainly knew of FDRJR, who was a long time Congresscritter from Los Angeles, but who knew he started the EEOC? The EEOC chief I remember is the oft-hated Clarence Thomas who is also a member of the Supremes. And like almost everyone, was an Ivy League alum. In Justice JACKSON's case. Harvard all the way. She is already making history, and is every bit as brilliant as the late Justice Scalia. And I hope as wise and balanced as the last Justice Jackson.

In England, those places that serve a luscious cream tea are quite often called SHOPS, as well as rooms. My advice is to explore Devon and the Southwest during strawberry season, and enjoy scones, pastries, tea and tiny sandwiches, along with that clotted cream. Why not? You're going to see Bath for sure, so take your time getting there. But remember, you may find yourself developing a Falstaffian belly, and become just a little OBESE if you are not already.

Closer to home, a visit to America's EMERALD CITY is a wonderful excuse to add to those stout stomachs by drinking beer. When I lived nearby, for a year, you had to be a rich tourist at a fancy hotel to get a cocktail, but every neighborhood had an iconic tavern worth a visit where many beers were on offer. My friend and I became regulars at the Athenian, in Pike Place Market, which had first-rate food to go with that beer, and still does, I believe. Best view in town, looking down at the ferry boats and ships.

I found the clues amusing and clever. The constructors are ESTEEMED colleagues in my book.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

@tkincher: You're right about Ronny & the Daytonas. But the Beach Boys did cover that song, and it's better than the original. See for yourself!

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

@Liveprof. One of my favorite Steven Wright gags, "I put instant coffee in a microwave oven. I went back in time".

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Absolutely marvelous Friday puzzle! Great trick clues, appropriate difficulty level, humor, homage, sports, geography, politics, music, history, culture, popular culture, food, languages, and a wide range of old new and in the middle! Come on Rex! What more could you ask for in a Themeless Friday?

Whatsername 12:39 PM  

@egs, @Joker: How about saving the “jokes” which use the name of such an ESTEEMED woman in such a belittling fashion. No need to add to the level of tacky today.

@Ulysses: Careful. Your latent misogyny is showing.

Sgreennyc 12:43 PM  

Fine puzzle. How sad that Rex suffers from Jeff Chen envy in addition to his obsession with Will Shortz.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Interesting that @Rex obsessed over CLEAVAGE as if it had no other meaning and Jeff Chen (xwordinfo.com) was "uncomfortable" even though it was his puzzle. WTF?

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Zaire no longer exists.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

I love you Rex and really don't want you to change, but I don't know how you can be such an advocate for The New Yorker and such a hater of the NYT when their puzzles are pretty much interchangeable. Maybe The New Yorker is a little more fresh and colloquial, but it's the same broader pool of constructors, the same crosswordese, the same gimmicks with duplicate clues, etc. The main difference is New Yorker 4 themeless a week, which I know you prefer, and of course the cryptic Sunday. I will say that since I've been doing them both, I enjoy the difficulty inversion and think that is a fun idea too.

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

I had a very dissimilar solve to Rex's. 1A, thought about what runs and is black and white, voilá, ZEBRA, confirmed by ANI and EPSOM. NW down, the rest to go.

No, my foe today was really wanting AtilLA Doesn't look right typed here and ATTILA didn't look right in the grid but I was quite sure about TOES and ARMADILLO so I went with it, whew.

I never thought of TEA room, luckily, and threw in TEA SHOP off the TEA. But I did miff BACILLUS, going with BACILLae first (huh?) and a TOad of a jerkwad.


I really enjoyed the aha moments of STOLEN BASE, GOES ALL IN and MAC'N'CHEESE. Shaking my head over the clue for CABLES.

Thanks Mary Lou and Jeff>

JD 1:12 PM  

@Gill, Right?!

Sir Hillary 1:25 PM  

Wright: I'm hungry late the other night, so I drive to a 24-hour minimart to get something to eat. I get there, and the guy is closing up. I say, "What are you doing? The sign says open 24 hours." He says, "Yeah, but not in a row."

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

Biff or muff, not miff, har!

Tom T 1:42 PM  

Took a look last night and thought this one was going to stump me, but this morning it came in under average time. Misspelled ATTILA (ATilLA) at first, corrected with the ARMADILLO answer.

Had to run the alphabet to enter my last letter (the V in ROVE/BRAVE); could only think BRAcE, but knew it couldn't be right.

Good challenge, glad I was up to it.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

This woulda been impossible without getting Ketanji Brown Jackson which is what's great about it. All of the other answers are just outta reach until you chip your way to them from that center combo (outside of what one knows, yet somehow familiar with reminding), and most are off-beat and fresh. In retrospect (but only so) I have to concede that it was worth all the frustration. Well done!

Masked and Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Slightly themed FriPuz. Like.

A few no-knows that crossed each other: FDRJR/KERR. BACILLUS/BOGO. MEDEA/PASHA [sorta familiar, now that I stare at em for a while].
faves: ARMADILLO. ZEBRA & its clue. CLEAVAGE [yep, @RP: They did kinda dance around the obvious clue]. STREUSEL. MACNCHEESE.

staff weeject pick: GNU. Nice ZEBRA go-with.

Congratz, in many ways, to KETANJI BROWN JACKSON & EILISH darlins.

And thanx for gangin up on us, MLG darlin & Chenmeister.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Anonymous 1:55 PM  

I take real exception to referring to Justice Jackson as a politician. Unlike some of her colleagues, she truly seems above the fray.

Eniale 2:13 PM  

Hand up for TEAroom/TEASHOP. Another writeover: I had Gratinée instead of STREUSEL. Very unhappy with ATTILA without its extra L.

@okanoganer, very impressed with your SB prowess - all those 0 streaks. I'm regularly PG-4or5.

okanaganer 2:16 PM  

@Barbara S, this Canadian's hand up for KEFANJI / FOOL as well; I don't follow US Supreme Court much. Also note that Kraft Mac'n Cheese is called Kraft Dinner here (not sure why), or KD for short. "Gotta be KD!"


[Spelling Bee: yd 0; last word was this 7er. QB streak now 7.]

Jeremy 2:25 PM  

This was a real struggle for me. Having one clue take up three contiguous answers really made the middle tough if you didn’t know that response; and some tricky crosses weren’t a big help there. (Is the E.E.O.C. well known or did folks just have to chip away until it looked like FDRJR made sense? It meant nothing to this non-American.). Most of the corners came together slowly for me, too, but I liked that MACNCHEESE clue.

MkB 2:43 PM  

While I really dislike the repeated clue thing in general, ROWER vs CHEF felt clever enough for me to be worthwhile...which just highlighted how incredibly bland the "STALE/HUMID" pair was.

albatross shell 3:10 PM  

ZAIRE's non-existence was in the clue.

At least one other person, @grouch, noticed nightcap has 8 letters too. But LATEGAME is good also because it pairs with the first game being the early game. NIGHTCAP is the more colorful answer. Did anyone else notice finesses fits for ENDPLAYS? I also had STOLENbikE, my thinking mirroring the ZEBRA answer.

Excellent puz, many delightful clues and answers. Friday difficulty. Googled 3 times. Far easier than Thursday here.

I did cringe a bit when I put in Twit crossing KGB. TOOL wasn't much better.

@Alice Pollard
In case you haven't caught on. STOKENBASEs in base ball involve running.

@old timer
Us retired folks have a tough time distinguishing weekdays from weekends.

The feet are your body's base while standing. The TOES are your base's 10. 10, thus your base ten. Logical enough not to be dumb.

CLEAVAGE is more amusing and risque not being clued as as boobs. After its in you are welcome to go all in.

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

Little GTO by Ronnie and the Daytonas

Rick Sacra 3:24 PM  

Really enjoyed the puzzle! Father and son team took about 22 minutes, struggled at first over zebra (not sure why-5 minutes in, looked back at it and boom it was obvious). Should'a known ZAIRE but thought of Congo first... I guess it was Congo, then ZAIRE, now back to Congo again. Just right for a Friday, and loved the beautiful stack in the middle. Now I have learned how to spell our newest justice's name! Thanks, Mary Lou and Jeff, great puzzle! : ) --Rick

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

sadistic puzzle why Mr. Shortz.... why?!!!

Aelurus 3:36 PM  

Last in was ZEBRA and I shook my head and laughed and laughed. That must be a granddad joke. And that last sentence must be a dad joke. I think. I’m never sure what a dad joke is. I Googled. Here’s what an article in the Atlantic says about dad jokes. Anyway, I liked the ZEBRA joke a lot. But what’s the answer?

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON was lovely and a huge gimme, thank you!

ARMADILLO. Am thinking now about how a turtle-rabbit evolved (my next Googling).

Had E_G_EAT_R for 34D and had to change my “eagleator” guess pretty fast to EGGBEATER. (That is better.)

MAC ‘N’ CHEESE, it’s what’s sometimes for breakfast. Not today, though. Today was McCann’s steel-cut oatmeal, fruit, and yogurt because I’m planning on the former for tomorrow.

Thanks, Mary Lou and Jeff, for the Friday fun and learnin'!

Aelurus 3:52 PM  

@Gill - Forgot to say yesterday glad you liked the Edith Piaf link. I was happy to find it because I had only one year of French in college (three years of Spanish in junior high) so it was a bonus to see the translation along with hearing the song. What fun to sing along with your stepmom.

OISK 4:11 PM  

Knew who Justice Jackson was, but not her complete name, so I needed the crosses for that. Same with BOGO (??) and Eilish. But I loved the clue for ZEBRA, and I finished without error. Plenty of folks here took the opportunity to express their political preferences - not at all surprising, and this being NYC, those preferences are as expected. I would prefer that discussions of a crossword puzzle (and many other of my interests) focus on the puzzle, focus only on the clues and answers, but that is a lost cause...

Anoa Bob 4:27 PM  

I knew 37D BACILLUS right away but my slang for a 34D helicopter would be whirlybird or chopper.

I kind of like the two meanings of galley ROWER and CHEF type entries. We also get a STOLEN BASE in a LATE GAME although I think of the second of a doubleheader as a twilight or night GAME.

My LATE GAME was last night's poker game. GOES ALL IN (12D) is a powerful move in poker. Speaking of which, last Friday we had HIGH STAKES POKER clued as "Activity for some big game hunters" and now there is a did she or didn't she cheat story in the news about a single hand of poker for over a quarter million dollars, $269,000 to be exact. How's that for HIGH STAKES? For comparison, I played for over five hours last night at a table with nine others and came out $5 ahead! (Typically come out a couple hundred bucks up or down.)

I believe there's a North Texas high school known as the Amarillo ARMADILLOs.

BlueStater 4:33 PM  

Yup, this one was a mess. Glad I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Aelurus 5:16 PM  

@Barbara 9:04 am - Love the alternative clue for ISAWIT. Whenever I see Oscar Wilde's name I think of his short story "The Happy Prince." Which is lovely and achingly sad. That's a definite miss on cluing Leo I with Attila. Wouldn't it be great to know what they said to each other?

@JD & @Gill - I want to sit by you both.

@Sir Hillary 1:25 pm - Hadn't heard that Steven Wright. Good one! Thanks.

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

I have noticed the app doing that a lot lately. I feel like every puzzle this week with related clues has incorrectly highlighted a down instead of just the across or vice versa.

Smith 6:06 PM  

Wrote in KBJ, was not making any progress otherwise, went for a l-o-n-g walk on the beach, came back and decided that I just. Didn't. Care.

First time for everything. .

Ye Fan 6:17 PM  

Gotta love the universal praise for the inclusion of Ketanji Brown Jackson. Something tells me that if Amy Coney Barrett were similarly included the reaction here would be a little different. #inclusion

Anonymous 6:39 PM  
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dgf 6:46 PM  

And deservedly so.
Bryant in a speech had her Nixon an "I am not a crook" moment when she said "we (Trump's appointees) are not political hacks."
The lady doth protest too much.

Phillyrad1999 7:25 PM  

How fitting to have MEDEA put me out of my misery as the last answer in this puzzle. Off.

Anonymous 8:59 PM  

TEASHOP - clued that way - made me murderous. It turned an otherwise difficult, soggy puzzle into utter quicksand in the SE.

This is the kind of laziness that makes amateurs quit puzzling.

Unknown 9:44 PM  

No one buys a bag of “loam” at a nursery.
You buy soil, dirt, peat, mulch.
But not loam.
Loam is a great crossword go to, but the clue of a bagful purchased at a nursery is awful.
“Hello Home Depot/Lowes. Do you, perchance, have a bag of loam which I may purchase? Four pence and twenty, my good man?”
Come on.

Anonymous 10:04 PM  
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Mary Beth Adams 11:04 PM  

I thought this puzzle was more difficult than most Friday puzzles but still managed to finish without resorting to Google. Especially liked seeing KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, even though she’s an intellectual lightweight, people should know who she is.

Hartley70 12:05 AM  

I finished this in record Friday time and it was a most welcome nightcap. I’m greatful for the opportunity to practice spelling KETANJI. My first guess was incorrect and I’m hopeful this name will be as dear to me as Ruth. Loved seeing Dan Feyer on Jeopardy tonight! I was like, wait, is that who I think it is???

Hartley70 12:11 AM  
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Anonymous 1:51 AM  
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Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Getting stuck on TEAROOM made this take over 10 minutes longer for me, but an otherwise enjoyable puzzle.

Family lore for us is when one of our children (now in dispute which) found a piece of macaroni on the floor one day at a friend’s house and proudly declared: “I found a mac and chee!” [Which being the singular of mac and cheese, of course.]

old timer 1:12 PM  

DNF. The reason: Never got TVSET. Well clued, but missed it. And I had forgotten those darn VUVUZELAs. And UVA, which indeed is deserving of honor, and well worth a visit. Plus, like most pet owners, we may have had dog or cat beds, but never a special PET CUSHION. Our cats curled up on REAL human CUSHIONS, as was their God given right.

ZHUZH is one of those words I heard, thanks to Queer Eye, but have never seen in print. That was must see TV in its day, for us. Now as the descendant of California pioneers, some of whom crossed the broad plains, I know they headed WEST, but very seldom DUE WEST. The pioneers had to follow the winding Humboldt River, as did the railroads and highways. Plus, the standard route into Utah takes you DUE south for a while.

Second the observation that a BEAR MARKET is a very good time to take stock, and really people need to assess (take stock of) their holdings in a bull MARKET even more. Unless you need to reap some tax losses to set off against the gains, the best thing to do in a BEAR MARKET is to ride it out and never panic.

Anonymous 5:46 PM  
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spacecraft 11:30 AM  

Obviously, @old timer is on the wrong page. This puzzle is great. Try as I might, I couldn't get rid of FDR--with two squares to go! I never knew there was a JR, but what else could it be? Once that J hit, I knew who the Justice was, but thought her first name was KaTANJI. Thus it took a while to get EGGBEATER, but eventually it all got sorted out.

@OFF: It's Friday. Clues are supposed to be hard, misdirecting and what have you. That's what makes the clue on 6a appropriate. We expect, if the answer's going to be CLEAVAGE, a mammarian clue--but we don't get one! That's what makes it a Friday puzzle. See? YOU expected it.

Yes, it was hard to do, but for the day I can't say it's more than medium-challenging. I enjoyed doing it, and there was a lot of good stuff to uncover. Repeat clues don't bother me; they're a conceit I allow the constructor(s). They can't resist being cute.

Somehow, though she's ahead of my time, I wrote EILISH for the Grammy clue, a stab in the dark. Bingo! That helped crack the stubborn SE corner, and earned Billie a DOD sash. Most honorable mention, of course, to KBJ. Eagle.

Wordle bogey.

thefogman 11:43 AM  

This is DEF not Jeff Chen’s best.DNF because I Googled KBJ’s first name. Thought it was spelled KaTANye. Ooops! Overall, a bit of a slog even for a Friday. OFL, AKA Rex, said it all.

thefogman 12:42 PM  

Solved the online Daily Jumble today in 52 seconds giving me a perfect score.

Burma Shave 1:30 PM  


with no SHAME, ISAW how he PLAYS:
too LATE, he's STOLEN second BASE.


Diana, LIW 1:55 PM  

At first it seemed hopeless. Then...bam bam bam. got it!

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

@JD 6:46am:
It might be regional, but jerkwad = tool, is 100% spot on where I'm from.

Waxy in Montreal 5:25 PM  

Other than a LASSO, what's thrown for a loop? OMG - me, that's what, after COOLY entering NIGHTCAP for 60A (Second half of a doubleheader), only to find that made a WASTEland of the SE.

Think it's high time (in a couple of DEFs) to see if I can order some MACNCHEESE with a bottle of RIOJA at my fav TEASHOP. Or maybe MEREly soak myself in an ICE or EPSOM salt bath.

rondo 5:33 PM  

A few stumbles like TEAroOm before TEASHOP and wondering how to spell KETANJI.
Wordle bogey.

Waxy in Montreal 5:57 PM  

Whoops. s/b SW in my previous comment.

thefogman 10:28 AM  
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thefogman 10:57 AM  

A good solid Saturday non-themer. I did not know a tribute could also be a TAX. ZHUZH was a new one for me. I also did not know about REDD Foxx’s comedy album You Gotta Wash Your Ass. I assume the photo on the album cover is a gag with REDD pointing at a donkey who badly needs a bath. That’s why I come here. To learn new things.

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