Adherent to the Five K's / FRI 11-11-22 / Sportscaster Adams who hosted Good Morning Football / Film technique for revealing a character's psychological state / Chamber oriented so that those who face it also face Jerusalem / Hit HBO show whose main character worked at the nonprofit We Got Y'all / Popular paper flower variety / Blended style of facial makeup / Creamy South Asian drink

Friday, November 11, 2022

Constructor: Brooke Husic and Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none [UPDATE: apparently there is a theme: FANTASY SERIES, WISH LIST, DREAM SEQUENCE ... this explains so much, most notably why the overall fill felt comparatively tepid for a themeless puzzle, esp. a themeless by these particularly stellar constructors (when you have fixed theme answers, your grid freedom is perforce limited); it also explains the weird grid thing I definitely noticed, which is the fact that it's 16 wide ... it appeared to be 16 wide For No Good Reason, but now that I see WISH LIST is a themer ... there's your reason (grid has to be an even number of columns wide in order for a word with an even number of letters to sit dead center). Anyway, the write-up below was composed under the mistaken impression that the puzzle was themeless—I don't think it matters much, but who knows? That's all. Apologies for the confusion.] [UPDATE UPDATE: apparently it's not just the first words of the themers that have something in common, but the second as well—SERIES, LIST, SEQUENCE] [Really wish for my brain's sake they would run themes on theme days and keep Friday and Saturday sacred]

Word of the Day: ESMΓ‰ Weijun Wang (20A: Writer ___ Weijun Wang) —
EsmΓ© Weijun Wang is an American writer. She is the author of The Border of Paradise (2016) and The Collected Schizophrenias (2019). She is the recipient of a Whiting Award and in 2017, Granta Magazine named her to its decennial list of the Best of Young American Novelists. (wikipedia)
• • •

Saw right through 1A: Launch party? and so dropped NASA ARK ROCK and then OVER into the grid in quick succession, right off the bat. Seemed like a precursor to certain success with all those long Downs up there in the NW, only ... SECOND LINE was the only thing that went in clean (3D: Dance section of a 33-Across brass-band parade). AVO- seemed like it wanted to be AVOCADO-something, but I couldn't figure out how in the world AVOCADOs heated anything (I was picturing an AVOCADO-green ... oven??) (2D: Option for high-temperature cooking). But the real hold-up in this section was my absolute certainty that the answer to 1D: "You bought it? It's yours" was "NO RETURNS!" I mean UDDER worked, SINGED worked ... so I thought maybe there was some nickname for New Orleans *besides* NOLA (ROLA? RULA?), and as for 37A: Introspective question ... maybe the LINE part of SECOND LINE was wrong and the answer was "NOW?" But that's not very "introspective," really. *Then* I thought "oh god there's some kind of theme involving letter switches, and the "RN" in RETURNS turns to "NM" for some reason (at *that* point I thought the [Introspective question] was MOI!?). But that didn't really make sense. And then I just gave in to NOLA and erased everything after "NO RE-" and I saw REFUNDS immediately. What a stupid hole to step into. A stupid, deep, sticky hole. "NO RETURNS!" ... so certain-seeming! After that, it was back go Very Easy and whoosh whoosh all over the place, and by the time I hit GIDDY-UP I was (appropriately) really flying:

There were many strong spots today, but my favorite moment was probably the clue on WISH LIST (nice to have your apex clue go with your marquee, dead-center answer). That clue is baroque ... and perfect (38A: Noun phrase that's present perfect indicative). A WISH LIST ... is a list of things one would like to receive, so it indicates ... perfect ... presents—just a great repurposing of the grammatical mood ("present perfect indicative"). The puzzle's main strength wasn't so much scintillating answers as overall smoothness and subject variety. This puzzle goes a lot of places, and it goes there so deftly and unclunkily. When I think about what *polished* grids look like, this is something like what I have in mind. It's not that there are *no* repeaters or otherwise familiar crosswordy answers (NOLA LEIA ESME ALOE ECO OLAY ... you see these all the time, of course). It's that a. there are relatively few, b. they are propping up gorgeous longer answers, which are the things that really grab your attention, and c. even as repeaters go, they are real, solid, familiar things. AUK is definitely a Crossword Bird, but it's also just a bird, a real thing, so it doesn't play as tiresome, and it especially doesn't play as tiresome when it's not offered up in a glut of other superfamiliar short stuff. Choose your repeaters wisely, spread them out if you can, and for god's sake let them be in the service of longer, more impressive stuff. Today's puzzle does all this perfectly.

The difficulty returned, a little, at the end of the solve, specifically in the SE corner, which, like the NW corner, gave me some trouble, though this time the trouble came not from my making a highly intractable mistake, but from plain old toughness. The first issue was ... well, it was also a mistake: MEAL for MENU at 30A: Chef's creation. That wrong answer gummed up the works, since those two wrong letters would've provided the first letters in two of the long Downs in that section. Crucial letters ... wrong letters. Sigh. After that, there was a crush of sports trivia that I struggled with to varying degrees. Had to stare at the phrase "sports theater" a while to figure how to get from there to anything that might fit at blank blank E. The staring worked, thankfully, but it definitely caused a solving lull. Then there was TIM Anderson, whom I know very well, but somehow, out of context, and with such a plain last name, I blanked on him. Then there was KAY Adams, whom I didn't know at all because football shmootball (57A: Sportscaster Adams who hosted "Good Morning Football"). Thought she might be a FAY. Anyway, between the incorrect MEAL and the proper noun sports answers, things were slower going in here. Other issues in this section: an owl says what now? ("WHOO!"). Is that ... canonical? I had the "W" and then no idea. That seems like a stretch, and also like a clue that's *designed* to make you write in a wrong answer, namely HOOT. Not thrilled about that. I love SMOKEY EYE as an answer but it still took me a while to pick up. Also, the only association I have with the concept comes from a very stupid controversy involving an innocent joke about a putrid right-wing politician ... so I like it as an answer even though it forces me to remember said putrid human being (never fun). 

Just a few other missteps. Empty NETTER before Empty-NESTER (66A: Empty ___). PRESS OP (?) before PRESSER (11D: Event for journalists, informally). Overall, this was a fun, flowing Friday, easy but with enough spice and kick to make things interesting. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Phillyrad1999 6:42 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phillyrad1999 6:44 AM  

Overall about what I hope for in a Friday puzzle. Enjoyed both the cluing and the answers well covered by Rex. But WHOO else thinks that made up stuff is irksome. Started out with HOOT and took me a while to undo.

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

Great Friday puzzle.
A few traps for me: had RESTAREA for RESTSTOP, HOOT for WHOO, HULU for ROKU, and MEAL for MENU, but it all worked out.

puzzlehoarder 7:26 AM  

While this puzzle had plenty of easy to get fun Friday sections it wound up playing Saturday tough for me which was just fine. The NW initially stumped me as the NASA clue went over my head and I've never heard the term SECOND LINE.

With a little work the middle north went in and I took the stair step down into the SE. DREAMSEQUENCE opened much of the south and I could backfill the NW. What really put this into Saturday territory was that whole eastern edge. This was with MENU firmly in place. In retrospect it's weird how MEal never even crossed my mind even though I spent so much time looking at a lot of white space.

Writing in HOOT for 45A was probably the single biggest roadblock to filling the SE. I couldn't square that with SWANK and could come up with no other option for 45A. Sadly it was the UNION half of 32D that I was slow to get, an unfortunate sign of the times

I've never heard of the word PRESSER being used this way but eventually I got APRONS changed GRAD to PREP and HOOT to WHOO and was able to finish. ESME, TIM and KAY we're all unknowns that went in from the the crosses which helped to amp up the resistance and provide me with a nice late week challenge.

Son Volt 7:48 AM  

Decent puzzle - not sure it’s up to the high bar each constructor has set. A lot of obscure trivia - but crosses were fair - only way I could get things like SMOKE EYE and MALONE. Liked FAT

Cluing on REST STOP and NO THANK YOU is solid. In lieu of Erie today we get YORK. NESTER, LASSI and ECO were unfortunate.

LIPS like sugar

Enjoyable Friday solve.

kitshef 7:51 AM  

Hard. Really thought I was heading for a DNF:

MEal before MENU
Never heard of TIM
hoOt before WHOO
Never heard of KAY
I think I know what SMOKEY EYE means, but not from that clue.
And what the heck is “sports theater”?

At one point I had the desperate NO NO AND YOU for 31D, with DAN for my sportscaster.

Eventually I tried SWANK, which got me WWE – WHOO and eventually it all came together.

Names I never heard of (add MALONE and ESME to the above), clues that meant nothing to me (SECOND LINE, WISH LIST) added additional difficulty.

Yet when I filled in my last letter, I was fairly sure I had the correct solve (and did), so the constructor earns my respect. Hard, but fair.

pabloinnh 7:56 AM  

Now this is a Friday that knows knows how to Friday, which is what I expected from these two. Got started with ADDIS, which we had not long ago, and made steady enough progress with no dead ends.

Some familiar missteps, HULU, MEAL. and HOOT among them, and as usual some pop culture stuff that was news to me like Ms. MALONE and INSECURE, but they were fairly crossed. Also didn't know SECONDLINE as clued and the next example of a SMOKEYEYE I see around here will be the first.

Also I will always think of LASSI as the name for a COLLI.


Great stuff, BH and EA. Big Huzxahs for an Engaging A+ effort, and thanks for all the fun.

mmorgan 8:08 AM  

Nice and crispy, but the SE really bogged me down with a bunch of Sports Gunk (several short names) that I know not of. That made those downs very tricky for me, especially with some makeup term thrown in there. But somehow it came together. Lots of really nice stuff here, the kind of Friday on Rex’s WhoooSH LIST.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Sigh of relief. Proof that the NYTXword hasn't gone completely down the tubes, as much of this week's offerings would lead one to believe.

I see these two constructor names and feel excited and terrified at the same time. And that's just how the puzzle worked out.
Them: Present Perfect Indicative.
Me: Wha'?????
Terror. But what a great answer!

In the end, this played just about average time for me. There were some real stumpers--TIM Anderson, sportscaster KAY Adams, actress Jenna MALONE--and an unusually high number of overwrites: "dish" for MENU (On those TV shows, chefs create dishes!), "hoot" for WHOO, "Am I" for DO I, "PHL" for PHI (I still think PHL is right). Embarrassed to have quickly thrown in "Erie." With these two, should have known better.

Thanks for saving the week, guys! Tough and fresh and enoyable.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

Breezing along until I wrote “dish” for MENU and, like Rex and others, “hoot” for WHOO. So I entered the SE on the wrong foot. And then things got sporty, what with TIM and KAY and WWE. Man, I struggled with those.

Lewis 8:38 AM  

Outside, tropical storm Nicole is doing her thing, but inside, all is sunshine c/o Brooke and Erik. For me, about a third of the way in, resistance mightily kicked in, a Faith Solve ensued, and I found myself in puzzle-solving nirvana, where I was relaxed yet totally engaged, where pings of joy erupted at cracking clues in a steady staccato, where I felt immersed in a bath of quality and good vibes, and I didn’t want the puzzle to end.

It was game over, price-of-admission-easily-paid when WISH LIST for [Noun phrase that’s present perfect indicative?] emerged. But then again, Brooke and Erik are Cluers, and I’m not surprised to have marked a very high nine clues that hit my oh-so-sweet spot. Some had wit in wordplay, others in deception, i.e., [Chef’s creation] which had me furiously hunting for four-letter well-known dishes (answer: MENU).

Four of my favorite answers – DREAM SEQUENCE, NO REFUNDS, GIDDYUP, and NO THANK YOU – are NYT debut answers, worthy additions to the oeuvre. I also liked seeing that backward SPAM in the grid with RUSE.

For me, this puzzle had that “it” factor, the art to go along with the science. It catapulted past Like and Enjoy, right into Adore. Thank you, you two, for this jewel!

BritsolvesNYT 8:49 AM  

This does have a theme of sorts - FANTASY, WISH, DREAM in the main across answers.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Most people would agree that tv wrestling is theater rather than a real sporting contest.

Joe Dipinto 9:03 AM  

This puzzle reminded me of one of my favorite movies..

thfenn 9:10 AM  

Fun Friday. The clues and answers ROCK, or RULE, especially WISHLIST. The NW was the toughest for me. Unlike Rex, NASA and OVER wouldn't come to mind. I started with CREW, which struck me as a perfect Friday level response (at least from me), so that and some other gaps made the long downs there hard.

AUK is always welcome. I blanked at first because I still think of Auks as a species (the Razorbill), and of Puffins and Guillemots and Murres as other species, but they're all AUKs, and among my joys on a lifelist, so that was welcome fill.

All the same missteps already noted for me as well, but I also mixed up the drink with the virus and wouldn't let go of LASSa for a long time.

But I still love a Friday worthy puzzle I can untangle in half an hour or so, and there was lots to enjoy in this one.

NYDenizen 9:17 AM  

Wordle 509 2/6*

⬜R⬜A 🟩I⬜S🟩E


Anonymous 9:20 AM  


Bob Mills 9:24 AM  

Can someone explain 14-Down? An Easter confection is a PEEP?

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

Wanted CREW for 1A. Thinks went quickly downhill from there. Ha.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Owls say "hoot" or "who" not "whoo" - gosh darn it.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

It should be SMOKY EYE, which doesn't fit. That's the adjective.

(Also, I always write APPAL, but, now that I look it up, I see that APPALL is preferred in North America.)

BeTheBallDanny\ 9:41 AM  

I immediately assume a four letter answer for PA county and city is Erie. The funny thing is that I live in York, PA so I should know this!

TKL 9:43 AM  

Enjoyed this one but owls hoot!

Nancy 9:49 AM  

This entire puzzle made me feel that I'm inhabiting a completely different planet than the constructors. What they watch, what they know, what they care about -- almost all of it are things I've completely missed.

"Different wavelength" doesn't begin to describe the feeling.

But let's not discuss the maddening PPP -- always to be found in the worse possible place in the grid. Let's talk about WHOO instead of HOOT for the owl. Or what on earth a SECOND LINE is as clued? Or the really peculiar clue for WISH LIST. Lewis perhaps will love it, but oh that tortured syntax.

And will someone tell me why PEEP is an Easter confection? Or is my answer wrong?

I didn't "suffer" today; I suffered with no attached quotation marks. I finished with no cheats, but I didn't enjoy the journey.

Nancy 9:51 AM  

Yes, indeed! Lewis loves WISH LIST :)

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

It’s even more than that - it’s dream, fantasy, wish followed by something indicating an ordering: sequence, series, list. Seems like it was made as a themer but also works as a themeless.

Puzzled 10:03 AM  

Nancy: a “Peep” is a brand, and I believe it’s either a yellow or pink marshmallow thing in the shape of a bird I think. Not exactly health food.

I like the puzzle generally. But FANTASY SERIES is blah. When I realized the firsts part of DREAM SEQUENCE was dream, the first thing that popped in my mind was DREAM SEQUENCE but I thought it was too clunky to be the actually answer so it took me awhile to commit to it.

MarthaCatherine 10:05 AM  

Had amI instead of DOI for 37A and couldn't find an answer to 15A (not a gambling person) and so could not untangle that whole corner. So a big ol' DNF for moi. Dang. I felt like maybe ECO was wrong. Never considered it was amI that was wrong.

bocamp 10:20 AM  

Thx, Brooke & Erik, for your crunchy offering; lots to chew on! :)



Had RULE in place of ROCK, so a bone fide *malapop (not malaprop, altho malaplop could work) lol

Have had ESME & PEEP in recent xwords; no probs there.

Played lots of Bridge back in the day, so BIDS was a gimme. ♥️

Was a UNION CARD carrier for a few years in the '60s & '70s.

ADDIS ABABA (new flower) appeared recently.

Knew of the 'Five Ks' from visits to the SIKH Temple in Vancouver.

"In Sikhism, the Five Ks (Punjabi: ΰ¨ͺੰਜ ਕਕਾΰ¨° PaΓ±j Kakār) are five items that Guru Gobind Singh Ji, in 1699, commanded Khalsa Sikhs to wear at all times. They are: kesh (unshorn hair and beard since the Sikh decided to keep it), kangha (a comb for the kesh, usually wooden), kara (a bracelet, usually made of iron or steel), kachera (an undergarment), and kirpan (a small curved sword of any size, shape or metal)." (Wikipedia

@Barbara S. 😊 for your 0 dbyd!

God Bless all you Veterans! πŸ™

*Re: origin of 'malapop':

@Rex from Mon., Aug. 18, 2008:

"36D: Bearded flower (iris) - weirdly, I had IRIS at 55A: Eye part (uvea) before I ever saw this clue. What are we calling that phenomenon, Andrea?"

@ACME (posting as @Anonymous (2:03 PM), Mon. Aug. 18, 2008:


uh oh, this "andrea" thing is beginning to take on a life of it's own!

Before it goes too much further,

I guess apres vu didn't catch on, and as Rex has wisely pointed out, it's NOT the opposite of a deja vu bec we HAVE seen it, albeit in the wrong place.

sort of a mal deja vu...

so as a nod to that, how about a


MALAPOP: A word that you've popped into the puzzle or that has popped up, albeit it in the wrong place?

(Plus it's a nod to that baseball thingie of pop-ups...not to mention annoying pop-up ads)

MALAPOP, anyone?

(In Minnesota tho a MALAPOP would be a soda that's gone flat!)"
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Puzzled 10:28 AM  

We’re Here before WISH LIST. Hoot, like Rex and everyone else in the world, before WHOO(?)

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Kay Adams has got to be one of the most obscure PPP I've seen in a while

Pete 10:39 AM  

Around here, Great Horned Owls show up in late October, WHOO to announce their presence and talk trash to members of the opposite sex. I've actually seen one only twice, and then for only a few seconds, but it's nice listening to them chat as I'm waiting for the dogs to do there late evening business.

Of late I've equated my complete inability to even read grammatical discussions such as the 'grammatical mood' Rex listed with other's inability to get math. If I'm correct, I understand the 'I just don't get math' because I can't even come close to getting 'grammatical mood'.

I don't know why these two collaborate, as neither needs help. I guess maybe they like working together, but that's outside my ken.

Whatsername 10:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 11:02 AM  

Challenging in the NW and medium otherwise. Starting out, the Downs line-up of ADDIS, ALFRED and PRESSER provided enough crosses to take me down the right side and across the bottom. Then a nail-biter to see if I could climb back up to 1A. Last in: ROCK crossing SECOND LINE and ARK. Thank you to @Rex for pointing out the FANTASY-WISH-DREAM theme; SERIES, LIST, and SEQUENCE seem to form a group as well. I can admire the puzzle but felt myself at sea a bit too much to have really enjoyed it.

Do-overs, like others: NAvy before NASA, mOI before DO I, MEal before MENU - but "hoot" never occurred to me. No idea: SECOND LINE, OVER, ARK, MALONE, INSECURE, TIM, KAY, WWE.

Diego 11:04 AM  

Some help from Uncle Google got me through this challenging delight. These are 2 of my favorite constructors, truly appreciate the freshness and precision of their work. . . and always tough. Agard’s 11/7 puzz in The New Yorker is another illustrative example of the style. I am of a far older generation than these two makers but am able to navigate most of their work. . . because they construct in a way that allows the arcane (for me) to become legible. Bravo BH and AG!

GILL I. 11:12 AM  

WHOO will give a HOOT? I will. I'm also happy that the Big ASK???? wasn't a Big Ass.... @egs and @Gary Jug could introduce us to LASSI..
I seemed to have had the same experience as @Rex - solve wise. The West Coast, where my PEEP and I live, seemed to be ROCK solid. I was flying...until I wasn't. The entire East Cost was covered in bits of smog and fog. The fog lifted somewhat when UNION CARDS appeared out of nowhere. NO THANK YOU to SMOKEY EYE was my RUSE de joie. The smog was WWE MALONE. It only lifted when I called "Mr. Know-It All."
I liked it... It made me think of FANTASY SERIES and ask myself why I live in them. It becomes a DREAM SEQUENCE on my WISH LIST of finishing a Friday. Although I had two helps, I managed to INK in correct answers for the REST without a STOP.
This was a SWANK.....although I'm wondering if the PRESSER in the room might disagree with me.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

One of those yellow sugary marshmallow baby chicks are known as peeps as well

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Marshmallow treats in various forms.

Whatsername 11:24 AM  

I kept chipping away but found it tough going and impossible without a few proper name lookups. RETURNS before REFUNDS, TRANS before QUEER, PHL before PHI, and HOOT before WHOO because Hoot Owl. Liked APRONS, WISH LIST, NO THANK YOU and enjoyed seeing our old friend ESME again. I’m really starting to like that girl.

I watch HBO frequently but never heard of INSECURE or AVOCADO OIL for high TEMP cooking. Not a fan of Rex’s politician with the SMOKEY EYE but she did just get herself elected governor. Of Arkansas, but still.

Wishing a safe and peaceful day to all the military Veterans among us and extending my personal gratitude for your time in service to our country.

egsforbreakfast 11:36 AM  

What about the dupe of NO REFUNDS and NO THANKYOU? I mean sure, most of us agree that these are two of the best constructors alive, but shouldn’t a couple of commenters claim that they are cancelling their subscriptions, or at least demand that Shortz be pantsed?

Talk about a clue for us boomers. 32D UNIONCARDS for “Many factory workers carry them” is like cluing ALBINO as “Descriptive of many owls”. Today approximately 8.6% of US factory workers are unionized. The other 91.4% thank their God every day that they’re free of the higher wages and better working conditions that come with unionism.

Possible new KEALOA sighting at 47A (They help you find your routes). When I got there, I had _ _ PS and briefly considered MAPS vs. apPS. I did not consider SQUAREENROUTEs.

Moi and Toi are known as “Stressed Pronouns” in French. I guess that makes 37A DOI a pronoun stressed to the breaking point.

I loved this puzzle, as I was sure I would as soon as I saw the bylines. Thanks Brooke and Erik.

Newboy 11:37 AM  

Today’s grid was a real hoot/ WHOO done it. Me & Google for ESME which I thought as tasty as PEEPs. Other names were inferable, but unless you’re reading contemporary authors more often than I, anyone after Barth is a mystery. There’s so much good writing and only so much time … sigh. Eric & Brooke do occupy a different neighborhood as @Nancy observed, but I still enjoy visiting with them though I often need to rely on MAPS to navigate in their environs. Having ENDUREd the journey, I really do need a REST STOP!

beverly c 12:12 PM  

This puzzle provided a faith solve as Lewis says. No area came very easily, but there were rewards along the way. It took several return visits to TEMPT ALFRED out of my memory, after trying Arthur and Arnold. That brought a smile.

I discarded DREAMSEQUENCE at first, wanting some form of narration. I guess it’s too retro, but I thought factory workers might carry lunchpails. I just threw up my hands, figuratively, at the clue for WISHLIST. Thanks for the explanation.

The final section I solved was that little NE corner, which had to be worked like a Rubik's cube, since I didn’t know ELMO, ESME or PRESSER. And I thought maybe the Easter confection was a play.

All in all, satisfying to solve.

jae 12:18 PM  

The SE corner moved this from medium-tough to tough. TIM and KAY were WOEs and WWE was not obvious especially with hoOt in place before the dubious WHOO. Plus SMOKEY EYE was not immediately evoked by the clue and I like @Rex et. al. also tried MEal and LUNCHBOXES before MENU and UNION CARD.... so tough corner!

A fine challenge with crunch and sparkle and a mini theme that I didn’t catch until I read the comments at Xwordinfo, liked it a bunch!

Sandy McCroskey 12:24 PM  

Off the topic of today's puzzle: I often see that some comments, like the first one today, “been removed by a blog administrator.”
I am curious about how this happens. My own comments are never posted until approved by a blog administrator. Do they sometimes change their minds?

Bernard 12:26 PM  

Can someone help me with are awesome answers

Bernard 12:27 PM  

Can someone help me with the awesome clues?

Masked and Anonymous 12:32 PM  

A themed FriPuz, and even @RP pretty much liked it. This is real progress. Like it.

16x15 grid and 79 words definitely didn't scream out "I'm a regular old themeless FriPuz!" The puz solvequest did kinda play out as Friday-ish, feistiness-wise, tho. Got that openin NW corner's Across answers quickly, plus the one long NOREFUNDS entry soon after. Then things got tougher. Clues got trickier. No-knows started to sprout up here and there.

fave stuff included: NOREFUNDS [runtpuz motto]. NOTHANKYOU. GIDDYUP. SUB/CUB.
staff weeject pick: WWE. Sports theater, huh? They should sign up for Tony awards, maybe. Or maybe it's a whole new category … instead of EGOT, make it WEGOT, to run the table. Headline: "Cher preps for wrestling matches".

Thanx for the always-enjoyable themed FriPuz, Husic & Agard folks. And thanx for gangin up on us.

Masked & Anonymo10Us


TAB2TAB 12:36 PM  

Fun and difficult in a few spots, HOOT instead of WHOO (??), etc.

You could almost hear the WHOOsh of AHA air into our brains when AVOCADO OIL finally fell. We had AV_CADOO_I and we first thought, hmmm something TANDOORI... then something DOORS (like opening the oven DOORS when broiling) and then we thought AV_C was some kind of French thing AVeC A DOORS, so we kept putting the emphasis on the second syllable, "a-VEC-a" and that completely eclipsed hearing AVOCADO. We finally concentrated on the acrosses and even with all the letters filled, it took us a few seconds to be able to pronounce AVOCADOOIL. Perfect crossword moment when it finally appeared - thank you!

Greg in Sanibel 12:37 PM  

If you’ve ever visited New Orleans (NOLA), then you know SECOND LINE is definitely A Thing.

Gary Jugert 12:41 PM  

Well, there ya go, a Friday. Nice to see so many people still here after yesterday's puzzle caused so many such angst. I worried I'd be the last NYTXW solver on the planet after their unimaginable decision to run a Tuesday on a Thursday.

In one fell swoop those apes violated two axioms we hold dear:

The 12¢ APOPLEXY: I quit due to the grievous smiting of ...

πŸ¦– Axiom #1: Stuntz & Themez: The theme is stupid. Stunt puzzles are stupid (unless I like the stunt).

πŸ¦– *Axiom #2: Not Today: For a ___ (day of the week), it should be ___ (harder/easier).

They also veered precariously into our ballpoint, vs pencil, vs paper, vs screen, vs app scandals, but it sounds like that was mostly user error, so I won't assign the trifecta of evil which automatically generates the fourth evil of them being "the worst."

As you can see, I have nothing meaningful to muse over on today's puzzle. It was fun. As usual I looked up the authors, and the starlets, and sporty folks, and the TV shows on networks I don't pay to watch.


Clue for APRONS. Learned about AVOCADO OIL, and castle KEEPs. DREAM SEQUENCE dropped in off of DRE. PARTY BUS. The clue for NO THANK YOU. Those 5 K's are kinda interesting.


Unfortunately I haven't kept up on my makeup knowledge, so I'll get on that. The clue for FANTASY SERIES could have been worse, but it would take an NYTXW editor to pull it off. Actually the editor who wrote the WISH LIST clue might be called into service.


1 Had she been on the other team, the heroine of the resistance might have considered the plans as directions for building the ultimate party bus.
2 When the leaf blower won't start.
3 Me.
4 Boxed wine in a sorority refrigerator.
5 Slogan for a sandblasting company.
6 Puppeteers United. {This is day two of muppet-related uniclues -- it's a good week.}
7 The side glance many a man has mistaken for romantic interest leading to all manner of embarrassing thoughts we should know better than entertain.


Melrose 12:44 PM  

Had hoot rather than whoo; was sure that was correct so I never recovered from that mistake. Otherwise, puzzle seemed a bit tough.

JonP 1:00 PM  

Agree. I have never seen SMOKEY in the wild.

I also dispute WHOO, but only partly because those two answers made the SE impossible for me.

Teedmn 1:06 PM  

I laugh at the clue for PEEP - a confection? I think of a confection as something light, airy, sweet, not some made-in-a-factory, leaden, gummy piece of... Peeps, yucko!

I imagine the ERIE/YORK write-overs have caused a run on INK today. I'm one of the solvers with black blobs in my SW corner.

Nice cluing on NO THANK YOU and APRONS. Weird clue for EATEN. Fun that if you are awesome, you ROCK and RULE.

Thanks, Brooke and Erik.

Tom T 1:13 PM  

This one played "Easy" for me. Like @Rex, I pooped in NOREtUrnS, but very quickly saw NOLA (and felt confident it had to be right) which led to REFUNDS right away.

Got MENU off the M, which led to NOTHANKYOU and UNIONCARDS, which definitely contributed to my faster than usual Friday time (just under 25 minutes, which I understand is slow for many of you!).

Had PARTY BU and had to run the alphabet to get the S -- Doh!

A just right Friday puzz.

Nancy 1:24 PM  

Explanation for my being MIA yesterday (thanks for noticing, @mathgent!)

A McAfee pop-up has been hijacking my computer until I click on "Yes, accept" -- otherwise I can't go to my screen. Of late it was also disappearing my Google Search Bar whenever I did click on it.

My tech guru, our handyman, said "Next time don't click on it, leave it there for me to disable." Well of course it happened on one of his days off -- yesterday morning. So I couldn't use my computer all day yesterday -- hence couldn't come to the blog until today when he (hopefully) yanked McAfee permanently off my computer. We'll see. I hope it's not famous last words.

But meanwhile, @mathgent was right. I was hating yesterday's puzzle a lot -- all those confusing extras in the grid to annoy me, while the fill was bland and completely meh. I stopped early and did in fact heave it against the wall. I'll have to look at what y'all had to say about it.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

The only Kay Adams I’d heard of before today married Michael Corleone in The Godfather.

Trina 1:44 PM  

PEEPS are the baby marshmallow chicks sold in grocery stores for Easter. Usually yellow but sometimes in pink. A pure sugar rush.

okanaganer 1:45 PM  

This was a pretty great puzzle, but I had a rocky start at 1 across with NAVY as the launch party. Then ROLL at 18 across gave me a chamber known as YRL at 4 down (I thought: hmmm plausible, that sounds like Hebrew).

From the clue for DREAM SEQUENCE I immediately put in INNER DIALOGUE and was proud of myself for about 15 seconds.

Like @anon 9:40 I usually get APPALL wrong, especially in Spelling Bee. And for 9 down "Pop bottles, perhaps" I tried mightily to make LITTER work. (In fact, when I worked at the BC government liquor stores, the counter where the customers brought their bottles to get their deposit back we referred to as "the litter".)

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; was proud I remembered this 6er but it looks to me like a proper noun.
dbyd got to g-8 in my first brief attempt in the morning, and never got around to it again. One of those days.]

Tom T 1:48 PM  

Now that I've read the other posts, I seem to be in a big minority when it comes to Jena MALONE recognition. She's been around a while; my favorite movie that she is in is Life as a House, which features one of many lovely performances from Kevin Kline.

NOLAchick 1:57 PM  

In every movie or TV show set in New Orleans, there is a scene of a random brass band walking slowly up a street playing Dixieland jazz. Those folks you see following beside and behind the band, waving handkerchiefs and doing some sort of free-form dance - that's a SECOND LINE.

Whatsername 2:14 PM  

@Bernard: The “awesome” clues: If you wore the latest men’s fashion, the expression would be “you really ROCK that suit” - or in other words, you are looking awesome. And the pro football team that wins the Super Bowl is said to RULE the NFL, i.e., they are totally awesome.

Joe Dipinto 2:16 PM  

The owl in "The Owl Who Was God" never said "Whoo".

BrightLight 2:52 PM  

Long time reader, first time poster...have to comment on the amount of unfamiliarity with Peeps?? Have none of you ever walked down the miles of aisles at Easter time in any chain drug store to see rows of sugar coated marshmallow chicks (not just original yellow, but now in a multitude of pastel colors) in their bright yellow boxes? How can this field of neon be missed by so many? What cracks me up is that THIS is what has caused me to break my silence and finally post a comment. What a world we live in, LOL.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Also solved this as totally themeless and didn’t catch the connection between the three themers until reading here

Anoa Bob 3:12 PM  

NAVY vet here so quickly dropped that in at 1 Across for "Launch party". Happy veterans day to all you ex swabs, ground pounders, jar heads and fly boys and fly girls. Any other members of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club out there?

For decades after I got out, I had recurring DREAM SEQUENCEs of being back in the Navy. They always were of the "Oh no! Not again!" variety.

1A "Launch party" clue and 6D PARTY BUS, flaw or nice feature. Discuss.

Got a hearty chuckle out of OFL's thinking of an AVOCADO green oven when musing about 2D "Option for high-temperature cooking". I'm definitely in the low-and-slow camp for best cooking method. Next time any of yous are tempted to opt for SINGED, charred or blackened cooking, remember that high temps convert organic molecules in foods into carcinogenic compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

These and similar carcinogens are thought to be responsible for the increased occurrence of colorectal cancers that are showing up in younger and younger age groups. Rather than "blackened" foods being a desirable trend, I believe that they are just fancy restaurant speak for burned! If your server asks if you want that blackened, just say NO THANK YOU.

bertoray 3:16 PM  

Like Rex, I plopped in MEAL for 30A, and then at 31D, smugly laid down "already ate." Ugh. Overall, loved the puzzle.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

They rock = they are awesome
They rule = they are awesome

pabloinnh 4:36 PM  

@Vright Light-Welcome, and I totally agree with your take on PEEPS. They've been a staple in our house at Easter for years and now if you're a real PEEP lover they're available in a Christmas iteration as well.

It should be noted that after a certain length of time you'll need a nutcracker to enjoy them.

Smith 5:23 PM  

Perhaps someone has mentioned this by now? The SECONDLINE is a group of people on foot dancing as they follow a funeral procession in NOLA; in my mind's eye they all have black umbrellas. Quite a sight.

CDilly52 5:53 PM  

Once I woke up to the clever clue for NASA, the NW began to gel except that I also wanted REtUrnnS so that took a hot minute to straighten out.

The remainder played easy until I put MEal instead of MENU, took way too long to see APRONS, thought TIM’s first name was Sam and had hOOt for WHOO. Then I simply couldn’t get SWANK probably because I would never say it and cannot recall seeing or hearing anything other than SWANKy. Once I saw enough of CARDS going down, that fell and the UNION light bulb shone brightly and I finished up . . . as an easy Friday themeless.

Just as I was about to check in here, I noticed the theme. I think it dawned on me because of the obvious theme placement. It might as well have been a blinking neon sign. Forest/trees and see the big picture sort of “aha.” Just goes to show how we become trained to expect a thing (or in this case absence of a thing) and ignore its presence when it’s sitting there plain as day.

As I pondered the cleverness of precisely the ilk one expects from both Husic and Agard, I wondered if our constructors intended us to miss it and then get a good chuckle when the fog clears. I hope so because rather than getting all snarky about a themed puzzle where it “doesn’t belong,” I marveled at a new little dash cleverness from two of my favorites to remind me to keep my eyes and my mind wide open. Excellent Friday.

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

Anybody else, after writing MEal, confidently throw down Lunchboxes for what factory workers often carry? Just me? OK, then...

Saturday tough for me, didn't know TIM or KAY or ESME or MALONE but finally finished and loved it. Didn't see theme but that just made a brilliant puzzle more brilliant.

CDilly52 5:58 PM  

Almost forgot to acknowledge that today is Veterans’ Day. Thank you all who serve and have served to protect and defend our Republic. May it remain great because it is.

otts 6:06 PM  

SOMETHING of a 92 year old Luddite am I but love the puzz . Now and then still learn a word I have been mispronouncing or malaproping at least 70 of them there years.
So it's not giddyap but "up" ,though
listened to the Lone Ranger in the 1930's and heard NY mom sing Pony Boy .
So big DNF today with the jargon that many of you found easy and that's fine,
Though as a Korean vet would liked a tad of more than lip service in the puzz

jae 6:39 PM  

@Anoa Bob - I got out of the Navy in ‘67 and had that DREAM SEQUENCE for at least a decade. The dream came true for a brief period while I was in grad school in ‘73? when Nixon required all inactive reservists to report for weekly reserve duty meetings.

camilof 7:15 PM  

Too much time trying to figure out what NORE FUNDS are πŸ˜‘

Can we have a version of this blog where the solver posts after work hours? :D

albatross shell 7:35 PM  

Now if you are 75 or older is there more than a .1% chance that some charred lamb will havor pretends to believe it is ae any effect on your life span? Maybe at 90 you can start smoking again. As the Fishin' Blues goes " ,,,any oil will burn if you got high heat".

Liked the clues on this one.

Had INSECURE in briefly yesterday and here it is for real today as PPP and I needed to intuit it from crosses. Amused me.

WWE. The E stands for Entertainment. Tickets for that form wrestling call it an entertainment not a legitimate competition. The crowd plays its role and believes or pretends to believe it is a real sport. The clue was perfect: sports theater. Trump attracts much the same crowd at his political theater events. And the crowd goes wild in this battle of Good v. Evil. That is why truth and fact do not matter there. And it is quite effective. And it it is true that much political rhetoric follows this pattern. But is quite dangerous in the hands of a man who has no higher vision than his own ego.

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

Surprised not to see a comment on the “launch party” clue vs “party bus” answer. These kinds of things usually don’t bother me but this one was so long and I thought for sure it wouldn’t repeat?

Anoa Bob 8:14 PM  

@jae, I got out in '70 after four years active duty and two inactive reserve. I think my experiences in three six-month deployments to WESTPAC and the Gulf Of Tonkin account for my decades-long recurring back-in-the-Navy-again DREAM SEQUENCEs.

I had a bizarre flashback in '84 when, as a civilian worker on a military base overseas, I was given living quarters in a barracks style building. My first night, there was no one else there, it was just me, alone in a military style space. I developed the INSECURE feeling that my recurring DREAM SEQUENCE had come true! It was unnerving.

Thank goodness, that DREAM SEQUENCE has stopped. At least for now.

JC66 8:49 PM  


Maybe you should try watching more porn. πŸ˜‚

Anoa Bob 8:50 PM  

Anon @ 8:13 PM, here is a click and drag from my 3:12 PM comment: "Launch party" clue and 6D PARTY BUS, flaw or nice feature. Discuss.

RooMonster 9:01 PM  

"Dream" people:
I still occasionally have the dream where I'm back in Basic Training, saying to myself, "Wait a minute, what am I'm doing back in the Army? I thought I had gotten out." It's not really a nightmare, so much as confused as to why I'm back.
Sometimes I can convince myself in a dream that it is, in fact, a dream, because something like what I'm doing can't happen.
Anybody else have that ability?

RooMonster Dream Master (Har) Guy

Anonymous 9:29 PM  

Not a fan of this duo’s clueing. I just don’t care for a lot of it. I think in an attempt to be coy or clever or tricky, they often lose the plot. Good construction, though, as always.

Anonymous 9:31 PM  

I don't expect this group of erudite minds to have seen this, but being a wrestling fan most of my life appreciated the WHOO/WWE cross.

Ric Flair was famous for saying "WHOOOOO"

Joe Dipinto 10:23 PM  

Just finished the Monday puzzle, sorry I mean the Saturday puzzle.

J.W. 12:52 AM  

Late tonight, but just wanted to say I made an absolute hash of the SE corner. MEal for MENU and hoOt for WHOO, like so many others, which made me think 32D was labOrCARDS. Never recovered and had to cheat to extricate myself from it, so personally that's a DNF. Otherwise, the rest of the puzzle was just a hair short of too esoteric for my tastes, but rewarding to solve. Best puzzle so far in a week with a bar that's so low it's underground.

Clark 1:28 AM  

I, like everyone else it seems, put HOOT before WHOO. But in all fairness, the owls in our woods (Great Horned Owls) definitely say WHOO rather than HOOT.

albatross shell 1:41 AM  

@Joe Di
So did I. But it was a tough Wednesday with good clues and quite a nicely put together.

John Hoffman 2:15 AM  

Why is NASA a launch party? I understand that NASA does launches. But why party?

TTrimble 7:25 AM  

@John Hoffman
They're a party to launches.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

More like a Tuesday/Wednesday but still some fun and amusing fill

Diana, LIW 12:38 PM  

Today it was both a couple of names (can we have a name-free week?) and my own errors that botched this up for me.

Still...not too bad for a Friday.

Lady Di

Diana, LIW 12:39 PM  

And yes, I did give a HOOT!

Diana, LIW

Burma Shave 12:43 PM  


To PARTY with LEIA and KAY,
the FANTASY is so SWANK,
so DREAM of TONGUE and LIPS at play,


BS2 12:58 PM  




rondo 1:27 PM  

I also gave a hoOt at first. Someone should make AMENDS for that RUSE.
Wordle par with 3 shots at GGGBB.

thefogman 2:13 PM  

Challenging. The theme is alright but a snappy reveal would have been nice. I can’t think of one. Maybe “virtual realities” or something like that. Anyways, it was a tough but enjoyable solve even without having a reveal.

spacecraft 3:24 PM  

Medium-challenging at the Space Station. Two premier constructors produce an elegant, pseudo-themed puzzle with enough RUSEs in the cluing to give the old gray cells a vigorous workout. I'm not sure they designed it as a theme puzzle when they started out. Regardless, I liked it.

Hand up for hoot, and for the SE being the most challenging part. I would spell 36d SMOKY EYE, but the extra E is acceptable as a variant. I didn't know KAY, of course, but it made sense.

The biggest single help was getting DREAMSEQUENCE/QUEER, which poured me into the SE. Tons of triumph points and no fill stinkers: eagle.

Yesterday's puzzle yielded COUPE, a 3-voweler for my Wordle start. It worked out well: BYBYG, GBGBG, GGGGG. The putter is hot!

wob 3:34 PM  

no such thing as peep it is "peepe"

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

@Anonymous 9:35am:
Until very recently, I would have agreed with you. For several nights, a great horned owl has landed on the roof of my house, and called out for a mate. The sound it makes is definitely longer than who. One more °o° at least, if not two. A very impressive sound, to say the least.

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

@JonP 1:00pm:
You and anon are both wrong. Smokey the Bear has been an ad campaign since 1944, and still in use today.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

Fell for HOOT, SMOKEY EYE means nothing to me (may as well be a salmon) no clue about Tim or Kay so, even with UNIONCARD, crashed and burned in SE

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