Truffle hunting option / FRI 11-4-22 / Ceramic iron compound that's nonconductive / Critic in modern lingo / Obsolescent PC insert / Thiamine deficiency disease / Freedom for a screenwriter say / Old movie unit

Friday, November 4, 2022

Constructor: Juliet Corless

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: DPT (11A: Childhood vaccine combo) —
diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (
• • •

This is a very old-fashioned kind of grid, one you used to see a lot back in the day when 15 stacks were a kind of Friday/Saturday fad. Now, this grid is highly unusual, in that has been rotated 90 degrees from its usual position, so the 15 stacks are running Down, not Across, but otherwise, you can find grids that just like this (stack up top, stack down below) all over the first and early second decades of this century. Before the construction software boom, getting those stacks to work out was a real feat, but the results were often iffy, and could result in a good deal of ugliness in the short crosses. Nowadays, with the aid of computers, pulling off stacks like this isn't as hard, and the results are generally less clunky. Which is to say, I used to dread seeing these stack-based puzzles, back in the day, but now I just feel neutral. Maybe they'll work, maybe they won't. These stacks are remarkably clean, on both sides, and though the short fill is indeed unpretty in places (EME SES DPT CIR), it mostly holds up quite well. The problem for me was the interest was Entirely in those stacks, and since all the interesting answers are, well, stacked, there is no real flow in the grid. The middle is far clunkier and less interesting than the sides, and you have to kind of hack your way through it—no wonderful answers opening up new vistas for you, and the longer answers that await you are things like FERRITE and BERI BERI (mmm, diseases) and REDEPLOY. So essentially the middle portion of the grid is just filler between the much more delicious edges. The puzzle ends up a kind of reverse sandwich, where the bread is the highlight and the bread contents are just ... there. Taking up space. Fine, but not particularly tasty, and certainly not the primary reason you're eating the sandwich (with apologies to delicious sandwich bread). 

I started in on the short stuff (per usual) and was less initially successful than I would've liked. Got ARE and CEY and (on the other side) RAE, but thought the [Childhood vaccine combo] was MMR, because, well, that *is* a [Childhood vaccine combo] (measles mumps rubella). DPT is weird because it looks like it's just short for "diphtheria" (DPT = first three consonants, if you misspell it, as I typically do, "diptheria"), but then the "P" and "T" end up standing for other things. Regardless, neither "vaccine combo" is what you'd call "great fill," and not having those initial letters for the long Downs held me up. Same on the other side, where I did not initially get JFK, though I probably should have (1A: "We choose to go to the moon" speaker, for short). Eventually I changed SIFT to SKIM (21D: Go through lightly), got "OK, OK!" off that "K" (24A: "I already said I would!"), and the west side of the puzzle opened up from there:

Had KEYNOTE SPEAKERS before KEYNOTE SPEECHES (3D: Conference highlights) ... hard to explain why KEYNOTE SPEAKERS is a much, much better answer, but it is. The draw is the speaker, often a big name. Yes, that speaker gives a speech. But somehow "highlights" suggested the *draw*, i.e. the person, not the speech. That said, KEYNOTE SPEECHES is fine. JACK OF ALL TRADES is great, and FREAKING AWESOME, well, as an actual spoken term, I hate it, as I hate FREAKIN' as a euphemism, but as fill, it's original and fresh. The stack on the other side of the grid is the stronger one, with all the 15s coming in bright and strong. 

More things:
  • 19A: Usher's offering (ARM) — I wanted RAP, even though he's more R&B crooner than rapper
  • 40D: Hollow (DALE) — paused here, thinking "is it VALE?" What Is The Difference!? Not much. Both valleys. Just read, in a def. of DALE: "synonym of the word valley" and thought "Ooh, where is this 'word valley' of which you speak, I would like to visit!"
  • 47A: "Shut up!" ("CAN IT!") — had the "C" and wrote in "CUT IT!" Was probably thinking "CUT IT OUT!" but who knows?
  • 51D: Resting spot for some buns (NAPE) — it's "Resting" that's troublesome here. Really angles those "buns" breadward. I was like "why would you rest baked goods in the NAVE?"
  • 34A: Truffle hunting option (GODIVA) — As with "Resting" in the NAPE clue, "hunting" is doing aggressive, sweaty work here. A little toooo desperate to misdirect you. Obviously "truffle hunting" typically suggests the pursuit of scarce and delicious mushrooms. Pigs do this, or help in it, I think. But for this clue, the truffle you need to think of is chocolate, and the brand ("option") is GODIVA.
  • 63A: One backward musician? (ENO) — god help me, I approve this clue; made me genuinely smile (ENO = the word "one" ... spelled "backward")
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 5:41 AM  

No objection to "Okok" and "Notok" in the same puzzle?
Otherwise I enjoyed it a bit more that Rex did.

Anonymous 5:41 AM  

Huh. I was sure that the inclusion of "OKOK" and "NOTOK" in the same puzzle (and quite close to each other) would receive some notice.

Conrad 5:44 AM  

Liked it more than @Rex did (I know, alert the media ... again). I came at 20A from the back and with ---SINS immediately and confidently wrote in couSINS. Figured out the KAN part quickly enough, but I didn't notice that I'd left the "i" in place until the happy music didn't play. My excuse: everyone I know whose name is Rafael or Raphael is known by his friends as RAFI.

Anonymous 6:05 AM  

Had rATER before HATER because I don’t know the biblical reference. Outside of the long downs I enjoyed the answers ANEMONES and LAPDOG.

OffTheGrid 6:31 AM  

This puzzle was ACES, not a single NIT, no TWEAK needed. AMEN(S)!

tompdavis 6:47 AM  

I would have thought Rex wouldn't like "one backward musician" because of his extreme dislike of hidden words, like "man found in torn edition" for NED... I thought his dislike would propagate to more "cryptic-lite" clues such as this one... Can never predict with Rex :)

jcal 7:09 AM  

Thanks Rex for explaining "Godiva". I was of course thiinking "pigs" - so had to rely on crosses to get the word, and - until your note - chocolates never occurred to me.(Or rather, what does a naked lady on a horse have to do with mushrooms). And yes, I remember (horizontal) stacks from time gone by - I think they are kind of fun. I had a good time with this one. Thanks to Ms. Corless

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

So I looked at the grid and groaned but like many above I enjoyed this especially when I nailed 1and 3 down right off flat out fun Friday

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

NAPE is a “resting spot for some buns”? Help, please.

Juli 7:51 AM  

I liked this puzzle much more than Rex. Great fun on a Friday!

Joaquin 7:54 AM  

When I first saw the unfilled grid I assumed that the constructor was a wily veteran crossword pro. The fill did nothing to dissuade me from that view.

So ... a hearty congratulations to Juliet Corless on her terrific puzzle. This debut was FREAKING AWESOME!

Dr.A 7:57 AM  

Keynote speaker makes more sense than Keynote speeches because the speech is not of note, the SPEAKER is of note. You don’t invite someone to a conference because of a speech, you invite them because of their prominence in the field. I have never heard anyone say the Keynote speech at a medical conference. Also you give lectures, not speeches at a medical conference. Anyway that also bugged me a lot. But overall, fine.

Ted 8:00 AM  

Confidently put MMR and then confidently certainly for sure put RAE under it and looked at MR to start 11D and said "oh dear."

Otherwise crushed it with an 8 minute time against my average of 16 for Fridays.

Wanderlust 8:01 AM  

Again my solve was the opposite of Rex’s. The East came much faster for me than the West. I had lots of mistakes in the West that slowed me down - toy DOG, AcCEdeS, EsE. I loved the answer FREAKING AWESOME and the clue for TEMPORARY TATTOO. I agree with the sandwich analogy - very fun on the sides, less so in the middle.

I like learning new stuff in crosswords, such as that POLARIS is actually three stars, and ANEMONES are predatory.

As someone who has attended many a conference, I can tell you that the KEYNOTE SPEECHES are often NOT the highlight. Too often they are given by some big name whose glory has long faded and who has nothing new or interesting to say. Sorry, I’m sounding like a HATER.

Son Volt 8:03 AM  

Handsome grid - love the look of the vertical stacks - but all of the resultant 3’s were rough to deal with. I agree with the big guy that the flow suffered - choppy at best especially with some obscure trivia crossing those longs.

Hand up for entering KEYNOTE SPEakers first. Doesn’t the G get left off of FREAKIN? DRAMATIC LICENSE was nice - as was TACIT and POLARIS. There’s always KANSAS

REDEPLOY? In the end the bright spots are occluded by LGS, EME, SES, CIR etc - there’s just too much glue to build this grid.

Cooley’s REEL

Enjoyable enough Friday solve.

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

Doc here (not primary care though) and I’ve never seen it written DPT. TDaP, DTP yes, DPT no. So that threw me for longer than it should have and made me grumble changing it. Google says it’s sometimes written that way, so 🀷‍♂️

Barbara S. 8:11 AM  

For once, 1A was a total gimme: I like that in a 1A. My solve went very much like Rex’s in that I got the three western down stacks and related acrosses first and very quickly. I splatzed in JACK OF ALL TRADES off the J and FREAKING AWESOME off the F of JFK. KEYNOTE SPEECHES wasn’t far behind but I did need a little across help. Then I moved east, mostly but not exclusively looking at the down clues. I needed a lot of down help for RAW DATA, AMOEBIC (spelled right – yay!) and FERRITE. In contrast, the southern stack of ART DECO, POLARIS and EMERITA were all gimmes. As far as the eastern grid-spanners were concerned, TEMPORARY TATTOO and even PAROLE VIOLATION went in fairly quickly but I had a hard time figuring out DRAMATIC LICENSE. I really wanted “cReative control” there (although probably screenwriters never get that), and once I’d figured out it was some sort of LICENSE, I tried both cReative and aRtisTIC before finally hitting on the right one.

[Childhood vaccine combo]: childhood, schmildhood – I just got my 10-year booster shot. I don’t know whether I’ve been boosted regularly every ten years *since* childhood, but I do know we’re all supposed to be. When I asked the doctor why, she said that although most of us are less likely to cut ourselves on rusty nails than when society was less urban, tetanus bacteria also lives in soil, so if you’re a home gardener you can be at risk.

Related to “Style moderne” is the perhaps unexpected term “Streamline moderne”. I link to the Wikipedia article because it has lots of cool pictures from the fields of architecture and industrial design. ART DECO/style moderne/streamline moderne were nothing if not cool.

POLARIS: The trail-blazing 18th-century astronomer William Herschel was the first to cotton on to the true nature of POLARIS. I recently read this in a book entitled The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes:

“By 1774 Herschel had successfully assembled his first five-foot reflector telescope, with a home-made metal speculum mirror of six-inch diameter (about the size of a side-plate). His Observation Journal records proudly: ‘December. At night I made astronomical Observations with telescope of my own construction.’…It was immediately apparent that Herschel had created an instrument of unparalleled light-gathering power and clarity. He saw, for example, what very few astronomers even suspected: that the Pole Star – which had been the key to navigation, and the poet’s traditional emblem of steadiness and singularity, for centuries – was not in fact one star at all, but two stars. This observation was not officially confirmed until Herschel received a letter from Joseph Banks, as President of the Royal Society, nearly ten years later, in March 1782.”

[SB: yd -1. Missed a groaner – sigh.]

pabloinnh 8:16 AM  

My pencil does not have a timer and I can't access my archive, because I don't have one of those either, but I suspect this is about as fast as I've ever done a Friday. JFK + ARE +CEY and I had JACKOFALLTRADES followed soon by KEYNOTESPEAKERS (agree with OFL on that one, but an easy fix) and FREAKINGAWESOME soon followed. Almost identical with seeing DRAMATICLICENSE and TEMPORARYTATTOO right away The only unfamiliar answer was FERRITE, and that was not bad given the FER connection.

Nice to see DAR in the grid. I'm still waiting for "I give, in Spanish" as a clue, which would be the wonderful DOY. but I haven't seen it yet.

Enjoyable Fridecito, JC. Just Could have been a little crunchier, and thanks for all the fun.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

More or less OK. Five of the six long downs dropped in easily. 2D was the last piece of this puzzle for me.

TTrimble 8:43 AM  

"But somehow "highlights" suggested the *draw*, i.e. the person, not the speech."

Maybe for you. Not for me. If I go to a conference and I know the keynote speakers, I want to hear what they have to say, and if the KEYNOTE SPEECHES are about exciting new developments, then that's the draw for me. It's not like being in the presence of stardom is why I want to be at a conference. The whole notion strikes me as silly.

I struggled with this puzzle. No whooshing. Plenty of wrong guesses. "Sinai" sat for the longest time before it had to be disassembled piece by piece to form HOREB, which term occupies maybe two brain cells in my head. "Toy dog" before LAP DOG. DUST... MOP? I don't think I've heard that term, although "dustpan" wouldn't really fit the clue. "Artistic" before DRAMATIC [LICENSE]. Brief (very brief) flirtation with sWanK before TWEAK. I didn't know THAD Jones. I didn't know Ron CEY. I didn't know the Spanish DAR.

I'll join the chorus to say that after "OK, OK", NOT OK is NOT OK. It's BERIBERI bad. What's going on with the editors?

Re Rex's dislike of "FREAKING" and "freakin'": I've always thought they're used simply as polite substitutes for "fucking" and "fuckin'". While I'm not averse to using the latter when I'm around friends or family members, in public I'm much, much more careful*, and in a public space like the crossword, the more vulgar terms would be similarly jarring. I'd take FREAKING any day. Likewise, all the ASS** talk is off-putting because, hey, you don't know me, why do you assume I'm okay with that? The presumption. (Clearly I'm out of step with the times, I don't FIT IN anymore.)

I think the puzzle is mostly good, despite some NITs noted above. Thanks, Juliet, for the morning workout.

*In the classroom, the worst I might say is an occasional "crap" or "damn".

**Obligatory sighting: BASSETT.

Irene 8:44 AM  

Loved it. Thought Kansans was as lovely as Eno. I found it easy for a Friday, which set me up for the day.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

Hair buns

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

I had speakers before speeches too, and artistic before dramatic, but other than that, it was a very quick Friday for me.....close to the fastest ever. Decent puzzle, plenty originality without anything spectacular. The Crosswordese was almost irrelevant in that it was basically filled before looking at the clues.

RickA 8:57 AM  

Wondering how people feel about cryptic style cluing creeping into non-cryptic crosswords. Today's ENO, e.g. Also, the Saturday Stumper usually has one cryptic clue included. If certain types of cryptic clues are ok for regular crosswords (the "backward" signal, or hidden words, e.g.), is any other type of cryptic clue acceptable as well?

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Loved “Good faith agreements”!

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Amy: appreciate the different format. The long downs are fair and the crosses varied enough to make the downs achievable. TGIF.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Maybe she’s from Oklahoma?

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

I would bet anything that the layout is supposed to resemble a knitted cable.

RooMonster 9:48 AM  

Hey All !
Trippy stuff over at xwordinfo on this puz. Jim Horne sitting in for Jeff Chen, has this grid flipped 90°, so the 15's are stacked as normally, first 3 rows, last 3 rows, and all the answers are the same! What kind of voodoo is that? 😁 One of those things you never realize. Today years old, as the kids say these days.

Anyway, pretty cool puz. For a debut in the NYT (she has had puzs in other venues) it's FREAKING AWESOME. (Which was my favorite clue/answer combo today.) Stupidly put in FREAKING Amazing, completely ignoring the Amaze in the clue. Also, like 95% of y'all, KEYNOTE SPEakerS first, until the crossers didn't work. Scratched the ole head, erased the akerS, saw that what I had wanted REEL and ASCENDS would work, then saw SPEECHES. Had basically the same reaction as Rex on that.

cReativeLICENSE first, but ARM was too strong to ignore, so erased that, and waited on a few more crossers until I saw DRAMATIC. For some reason, not bothered by OKOK and NOTOK together. Maybe highlight them by cross-reference? That was the editors giving Juliet a DRAMATIC LICENSE. Har.

Happy Friday.

Three F's

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

The only reason I remembered Dip Tet was because of that scene in Raising Arizona

Casarussell 10:05 AM  

My stupid brain couldn't think of buns as anything other than bread or part of one's behind. Is someone sitting on the back of a neck? That doesn't make sense. Hair buns, indeed. Sheesh.

Tom T 10:06 AM  

A very rare Easy for me on a day that Rex rates Medium. Would have been my fastest Friday ever had I not allowed myself to be distracted by an incoming text.

Was fairly confident of JFK, and got JACK OF ALL TRADES off the J, followed almost immediately by KEYNOTE off the K and the Y in CEY (although I then went through addresses, which didn't fit, then SPEakerS, before SPEECHES). That blew open the short Acrosses down the west side.

Thought DPT might be correct for 11A, and got PAROLEVIOLATION from the P and TEMPORARYTATTOO from the T. After a couple of the short crosses fell, I saw DRAMATICLICENSE.

As Rex noted, the middle stuff was a little less flashy, but still fell quickly (the north center came last) and I was done in 21 minutes, way less than half of my Friday average.

Happy for a wheelhouse day!

NYDenizen 10:17 AM  

Wordle 502 3/6*

⬜R🟨A⬜ I ⬜S⬜E


Joseph Michael 10:18 AM  

Solving this was like skydiving. FREAKING AWESOME downs.

My only NIT is the cross between RAFA and FERSITE which is NOT OK for those of us not up on tennis or geology.

Congrats to Juliet on a great debut.

jberg 10:22 AM  

I must be really smart -- I put in KEYNOTE SPE and stopped to wait for the crosses. But then I had DeLl before dALE, and AgreED before ABIDED. I did think a lot of the 6- and 8-letter answers were fun; and my sister lives in MT. HOREB Wisconsin, which helped a lot.

Me too for wanting my truffles to be underground. I know you can train pigs and dogs to fin them, but I had the G and was wondering if geese were any good at it. I might have gone with gander, but then I got the O and D, raising the question of divine help, or do geese see God?

Sort of like @Sarbara S., I was thinking of 'script control,' not only too short but quickly ruled out by Ms. Jepsen. 'creative' never occurred to me, or I'd have put it in and dived down a deep rabbithole. I don't know what kept me from putting in rEMovable TATTOO, but I'm glad I didn't.

In my childhood the set of your trivalent vaccines was pretty much limited to DPT; but that was so long ago I couldn't quite remember it until I had a couple of crosses.

@Lewis, your puzzle yesterday was challenging -- and not only because I could print it out only with tiny squares. It was a fun challenge, though. Keep up the good work!

@RickA -- on cryptic clues in non-cryptic puzzles, I'm a no. Either they come across as complete gibberish or, like this one, they're too easy.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

Nice grown-up fill in a nice grown-up themeless -- but I was wondering why I was having such an easy time on a Friday. Then I moved to the far East and was able to enjoy some of the "suffering" I expected.

Had to wait to see if it would be DUST MOP or DUST RAG. Didn't know the vaccine combo initials. Didn't know the Beyonce song, though once I had ?ALO, all became clear. Still don't understand GODIVA -- I thought pigs hunted for truffles. The eastside vertical stacks were beautiful, but I couldn't get any without crosses. Once again, gadget-phobic me didn't get the BAR clue right away (that's the 2nd time in a month, I think.) I had BA? and ran the alphabet, would you believe it?

FWIW, I have never seen a bun resting on a NAPE that I thought was an attractive look.

And also FWIW -- I don't think KEYNOTE SPEECHES are "conference highlights". I think they're to be avoided like the plague.

A lovely grid, I thought. To me, the long stacks more than made up for the 3-letter answers. But @mathgent may beg to differ :)

Newboy 10:33 AM  

I’m wondering if I am becoming a grumpy old man cause this is TWO DAYS IN A ROW that I’m muttering “Rex is spot on.”

ENO made me laugh, but not HOREB! I’m sure that my retention from Sunday school….well, it just lags. Prof Google confirmed that Sinai is probably the same hillock, but REDEPLOYment of Deuteronomy isn’t high on my bedside reading. Strangely the west side felt like Monday but the east side was Saturday all the way down. So, I’m still glad to see Juliet’s grid & the hint of gender balance it brings to NYTXW.

Carola 10:36 AM  

Just right for me, in challenge and entertainment. I started off with DPT x TEMPORARY TATTOO and enjoyed a leisurely advance through the SE and, eventually, up the left side, where a few KANSANS, ANEMONES, and a LAPDOG helped with pattern recognition for the long Downs, where, for me the highlight was JACK OF ALL TRADES. To the interesting fact about POLARIS, I'll add that there's also a Mount HOREB in Wisconsin, a village in the southern tier of the state, where "Mount" has to be taken with quite a bit of LICENSE.

Wanderlust 10:39 AM  

When I finally got that the buns were sitting on a NAPE, I thought it was referring to Princess Leia and her cinnamon buns!

bocamp 10:41 AM  

Thx, Juliet; excellent Fri. challenge! :)

Very hard; big-time dnf! :(

Great start in the NW, but all pretty much 'downhill' from there.

Had KEYNOTE SPEakerS and wasn't able to see FREAKING AWESOME, so the lower West Coast was a mess.

Had vOLARIS & NAvE (that would be a place to rest one's buns, no?) lol

Had artisTIC LICENcE / cOO. Didn't know DPT, so wasn't sure of the 'D' (thot maybe it could be 'g'RAMATIC LICENSE.

Eventually managed to find all my VIOLATIONS.

Learned: DPT; SOO; FERRITE; GODIVA 'truffles'; DAR; THAD.

Liked the cryptic clue for ENO.

This was nowhere near an AWESOME performance.

Nevertheless, an invigorating experience; relished the battle! :)


Enjoyed your 'Character Deficiencies' WSJ puz yd! :)
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Whatsername 10:45 AM  

I liked that this was something different with the long downs instead of the usual crosses. But did not like all the proper names required to fill them in, particularly the right side with 8 out of 15 plus a geometry term. Good fill otherwise though and on the easy side.

RunRun262 10:49 AM  

Great puzzle that opened up slowly but consistently. Surprised Rex had no objection to the Game of Thrones trivia. When I see DPT though I think Doctor of Physical Therapy, but I’m sure that’s just due to my line of work.

Bass 10:50 AM  

There's usually only one keynote speaker byt more frequently multiple keynote speeches.

Dnfed and broke 18 day streak because I can't spell tattoo and had XOS instead of XES and have always avoided GOT...

mathgent 11:04 AM  

Nancy's right, I didn't like it. Wednesdays often have more sparkle than this one. Only five red plus signs in the margins. And 24 Terrible Threes.

GILL I. 11:14 AM  

My friend @pablito and I shared the same experience. Que coincidencia?
JFK...A big smile for 1A. Thank you, John, for opening the door to JACK OF ALL TRADES. That is your nickname, right? Did Jackie call you John or JACK?
I see wide open spaces and they no longer scare me. @MAS gave me confidence. He was (for me) the pioneering genius behind the stacks. They are fun. In this case, they were easy.
I had pauses and re-dos. I like them because I can dig around rooting for my past knowledge. Sometimes I get too imaginative and wander in to space. Today that happened with 31D....a five word Biblical peak...
I wanted Mt. Ida but upon reflection, it wouldn't make sense. If I remember correctly, IDA has to do with Greek mythology and from there we got Zeus. I knew HOREB but forgot HOREB. I watched "The Ten Commandments" with Charles Heston about ten times. Mt. HOREB was where Moses was given the commandments by God. I can see it now. I committed the #7 by stealing a glimpse at the almighty Google. That was my one and only sin for the day.
I'll hold hands and sing "hallelujah" with all the true speakers preaching SPEECHES. Erase, erase. And then!.... I wanted my resting spot for my sore buns to be in the NAVE. Could a star that's actually three stars be singing VOLARIS? Perhaps another sin to be dealt with. The bun is actually a 50 year old piece of twirled hair resting on your NAPE. I gave myself DRAMATIC LICENSE here and I was forgiven.
My favorite answer was GODIVA at 34A. My truffle hunting option was a FAT PIG at first because they use pigs in Spain... but no, it was yummilicious chocolate.
I learned that BERI BERI is not spelled BERRY BERRY and that because you didn't eat fruit you would die of a Thiamine disease. It's good to know.
An enjoyable puzzle, Juliet....En hora buena.

JonP 11:25 AM  

KEYNOTE SESSIONS also fit (and would make sense), so it took me a while to sort that section out.


Barbara S. 11:26 AM  

Phrazle 399: 1/6
🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Ooh, baby! Should I buy a lottery ticket?

@jberg (10:22) - I love my new handle!

pabloinnh 11:33 AM  

Remembered I was going to ask @Lewis if his "Chefs' location" clue from yesterday was at all inspired by the 1996 Snickers commercial. "Great googly moogly!"

NYDenizen 11:37 AM  

Picking up on Rex’s observation on the old-timey gridding, Ms. Corless’ grid is effectively* identical to this 2005 puzzle.

*Except for the symmetric reorientation of the central staircase from NE to SE, both puzzles have average word length 5.50, 72 words, 27 blocks and 92 open squares.

Just saying….

TJS 11:41 AM  

"I started in on the short stuff, (per usual) " explains OFLs' review. It's the speed solver approach that often allows for fill without even reading the clues for longer entries. For me, the attempt to attack the long answers and then look for confirmation from "the short stuff" made this a satisfying solve. Agree with Rex that computerized crossword programs make composing puzzles like this much easier, but this one seemed to be a truly artful composition. I had fun.

Son Volt 11:46 AM  

@Nancy - to me it was a shameless product endorsement - the play being GODIVA chocolate truffles.

sixtyni yogini 11:49 AM  

How can ya not love that?
But the puzzle? Hmmm not so much.

The long downs were intimidating but plugging in the shorties randomly made it work..

Aside: I thought TWEAK was a verb. In this case, apparently not…

For me, the long answers were enough to make it okay and sorta enjoyable.

But I dunno. “FREAKING” anything makes me smile.

Nancy 11:52 AM  

@TTrimble -- Say to yourself three times:

"On a late week puzzle, I will not write in SINAI without at least one confirming cross. No I will not!!!" :)

I, too, thought of SINAI which fit and also of ARARAT which didn't. That, plus the Mount of Olives (I think) was the full extent of my Biblical mountains knowledge. But I couldn't confirm SINAI so I didn't write it in. I probably would have done so on a Tuesday. When HOREB came in, I must say it looked vaguely familiar.

egsforbreakfast 11:55 AM  

Poor @Nancy. No sooner does she confess her dell/dale/vale handicap, then DALE comes out of his hollow to visit DELL from yesterday’s puzzle. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, the most recent VALE in the NYTXW (8/25/21) was clued “Glen or dale”!

Since I’m a left coaster, I assume I’ll be at least #420 to point out the OKOK/NOTOK dupe dupe. JACK and JFK starting off from the same “J” might be a cognitive dupe, though not a literal one. CANIT and NIT…….. OKOK, I’ve picked enough of them.

I suppose the anti-vaxxers might react to the inclusion of DPT like Rex would to an NRA tribute puzzle.

If you cut this puzzle with a diagonal from upper left to lower right, the left triangle played super easy, the right one kinda hard. Still went pretty quick overall, but I liked it BERIBERI much. Some sweet cluing throughout. Congrats on a primo debut, Juliet Corless.

One HA (Hidden Ass): BASSETT
HAEs (Hidden Ass Equivalents): CANIT, We choose to go to the moon , Resting spot for some buns.
HARA (Hidden Ass-related adjective): Collection awaiting analy sis.
AL (Ass Location): Takes the throne.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

I have always heard the vaccine combo as TDAP, never DPT, including from my family members who work in the medical field (also the CDC agrees with me That meant I definitely put MMR as well which really slowed me down. But it's a good Friday when I don't have to look up any answers, so I call it a win.

jjpennyless 12:10 PM  

Keynote speakers is definitely more "in the language" than keynote speeches, but speeches fits the clue better. The speaker may be the draw, but it's only a highlight of the conference if the speech is good. When you get home and your spouse asks what the highlight was, you tell him/her about the best thing that happened (the speech), not the coolest person invited to speak.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

I am really surprised that Rex didn't bring up NOTOK/OKOK. Maybe it would have been OK if the two answers had been linked in some way, but having them so close in the grid without a linkage really shouldn't have gotten through the editing stage.

Masked and Anonymous 12:14 PM  

This here FriPuz had a peaceful, easy feelin, at our house. Triple-OK by m&e. With a billion stars all around.

No debut words in this here constructioneer debut puz. They even redeployed REDEPLOY. Still, thought the fillins felt pretty fresh. Maybe everything has only been used once before, or somesuch.
faves: FREAKINGAWESOME and its clue. BERIBERI [Did somehow make M&A miss Patrick Berry, tho]. OKOK/NOTOK har.

staff weeject pick: 24 candidates, and many of them are weejection deniers, sooo … XES. First, it reminds M&A of markin up a ballot; second, it crossed SEXES, producin a cool All My XES Live in SEXES thingie. honorable mention to OK, of course.
Weeject stacks in all 4 corners, btw. Nice.

Thanx for the OKBalls fun, Ms. Corless darlin. And Congratz on yer primo debut. I liked the Down-splatzed grid-spanners orientation, a lot. Different.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

[runtpuz server is currently nappin]

Diego 12:18 PM  

A nice looking design—liked the vertical orientation—and a puzzle with wide-ranging content, maybe a tad too much PPP?
I noticed the OKs but they didn’t sour my experience, surprised OFL didn’t freak on that editorial miss.
Bravo to Ms. Corless on her debut!

Joe Dipinto 12:31 PM  

Nope. SPEECHES is a better answer to the conference clue than "speakers" would be.

OKOK and NOTOK sound like a pair of fairy tale ogres. Throw in Grok, you've got a trio.

BUN resting on nape. In the painting anyway. Sort of.

Nancy 12:41 PM  

@egs -- LOL.

jae 12:44 PM  

Easy. HOREB was a WOE and I had a minor spelling issue which the crosses fixed but that was it for speed bumps. I put in JFK followed by JACK OF ALL TRADES and was off to the races. Excellent stacks, liked it, nice debut!

Liveprof 12:54 PM  

On the tuchas sightings, might we include (phonetically):


(It works with that throne too.)

TTrimble 1:08 PM  

You explained it better than I did. Thanks also to @Joe Dipinto for confirming that SPEECHES better fits the actual clue.

That's good advice for a Friday!

Thank you! Your dedicated word searches are much more fun than counting S's and PPP. Cherchez le cul!

"Amazeballs", sheesh. Is that another thing the kids are saying? I'm gonna be a HATER on that one, even if that makes me "crotchetyballs".

Karl Grouch 1:16 PM  

4,29 and 51d, uniclue
(hi @GaryJugert):

Coach's explanation of why Nadal walked off the court with a neck injury?

Unknown 1:44 PM  

All time friday record for this father/son duo. Beautiful terrific puzzle to boot! Enjoyed all the long downs, especially JACKOFALLTRADES, DRAMATICLICENSE, TEMPORARYTATTOOS. We're having a disagreement about KEYNOTESPEECHES. I like it, my son does not.... Great puzzle, Juliet! : )

Diane Joan 1:44 PM  

I really appreciate your sandwich comparison in terms of the puzzle highlights! As I read that analogy I was having my lunch. Because a member of my household has a wheat allergy I purchase and eat gluten/wheat free bread. There is no doubt that the contents are far superior in taste to the outside of my sandwich. I’d expect the typical puzzle to be the same! That said I loved the long stacks anyway and enjoyed working my way through it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Unknown 1:46 PM  

AND ESPECIALLY--congratulations on your debut!!! :)

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

For conference highlights (having attended many) I immediately thought "the conclusion" but didn't fit.

old timer 1:58 PM  

DNF here as I did not think of HATER (had rATER instead) and never heard of Mt HOREB. Laugh of the day: finding GODIVA was not a Lady, but a confection. I think my NIT of the day is the bad clue for KEYNOTE SPEECHES. I got it, but was mystified. The conferences for lawyers I've gone to have someone speaking first, but usually the speech is not very memorable. Should have been clued as "convention" rather than "conference". Being a keynote speaker at a political convention has made many a political career. Obama is an example. So was Barbara Jordan, whom I really wanted to become President someday, Ann Richards, by far the most amusing I ever heard, and going back in history, future VP Alben Barkley.

I did love those long downs.

Chris 2:11 PM  

I thought it was fun, but also played very easy for me. Record Friday, by one second.

Beezer 2:23 PM  

I have to say I enjoyed the puzzle…why? Because it MUST have been in my wheelhouse because I set a Friday record and I’m just the type of person that lets that sway my judgment! Let me add…I haven’t broken a “speed” record in ages because I usually work the puzzle when sipping coffee and/or eating. I solved late today and no food, drink or my dog distracted me from the task at hand.

@TTrimble…count me among the silly star struck folks that are drawn by the keynote speaker and not so much the KEYNOTESPEECHes. However, it sounds like the kind of things you’ve attended actually impart useful information in a keynote speech. I dunno. It might be because in my biz I basically know what the “developments” are and as for content I’m more interested in ways to put the new ideas into practice which is usually done by “the little people” who follow the KEYNOTESPEECHes.

@Gill, maybe I’m experiencing a false memory but my recollection of times Jackie was interviewed (ie televised White House Tour) she said “Jack and I.” Your comment reminded me that everyone else in the world called my Dad Bill but my mother ALWAYS called him William.

@Barbara S…yep, I was just told that I’m due for my tetanus booster and I am BUMMED. I don’t know about you but that is the ONE shot that gives me injection site pain so fierce that I feel my left arm is essentially useless since I don’t even want to move it. And yes. Gardeners DEFINITELY need to make sure their tetanus shot is up to date!

Mr. Benson 2:59 PM  

I never saw ENO or its clue, since I threw down those 15s before that, but I like that clue. Borderline cryptic, but still gettable.

okanaganer 3:10 PM  

Hands up for KEYNOTE SPEAKERS; besides the reasons already given, I prefer it because of its nicer rhythm: KEYnote SPEAkers.

Seeing SOO I always think of the familiar term for the Ontario city Sault Ste. Marie (Sault is pronounced "soo"; French of course). Note there's another one across the river in Michigan.

@Barbara S... I think the only other time I have heard the term Streamline Moderne was in a lecture at architectural school. I remember the prof noting that as so often happens in mainstream speech, the term Art Deco confuses a period with a proper style (eg: "Victorian is not a style!!!"). In fact the Wiki article on Art Deco says "Art Deco was not a single style, but a collection of different and sometimes contradictory styles". Also thanks for the info on Herschel re POLARIS.

[Spelling Bee: @Barbara S, I know that "groaner" feeling. Just on Monday I missed the word MOAT. Whyyyy???
yd 0 for me, but it took me far too long to come up with my last word.]

JC66 3:18 PM  

Not to beat a dead horse, but the clue for 3D is "Conference Highlights" so I immediately wrote in KEYNOTE SPEECHES; never considered speakers because speakers aren't highlights.

Anonymous 3:28 PM  

ARE, BAR, CAR, DAR … HarπŸ˜‚

— Joe Bleaux’s ghost

Anoa Bob 3:37 PM  

Got 1A JFK immediately. I can still see and hear him making that remark. Thought it was a nice touch that the J of JFK then started 1 Down down with JACK. All the Down 15s were nice although I did notice that one, 3D KEYNOTE SPEECH needed some assistance to fill its slot. Plural of convenience (POC) to the rescue.

The central fill understandably WORSENED a TAD, given the six grid spanners but I ABIDED with that.

I eat sweets once in a blue moon---too much of a risk factor for diabetes and obesity---so didn't understand how GODIVA work as clued. Didn't get that Italian confection the other day either.

I used to teach research statistics so 4A "Collection awaiting analysis" for RAW DATA was definitely in my wheelhouse. I would tell students to think of statistics as their friend. This would typically be met with hoots of derision. Then I would show them how even simple descriptive statistics like the mean and variance could make a large array of RAW numbers much more "digestible". Statistics as your friend was still a tough sell.

Masked and Anonymous 4:03 PM  

I sorta disagree with @RP, that this here Corless puz was almost coreless, up the middle. Hard to beat a good BERI BERI or GODIVA DUSTMOP or BASSETT LAPDOG, f'rinstance. Juliet did good stuff, throughout this rodeo. Unless maybe @RP wanted *each* of them other Down answers to be 15-long?! Now, that admittedly would be cool … a puz with zero black squares. M&A has actually tried that, many foolish moons ago. Came up a bit "short" toward the bottom tho, as I recall. Maybe I can dredge that old puz up, sometime…

Anyhoo, the runtpuz server is back, thanx to the mighty @r.alph:


Gary Jugert 4:10 PM  

I am going to be an outlier today because I really didn't like this one. I suspect when good solvers say they liked a puzzle despite its obvious flaws, it's probably because they whizzed through it and they care about their infernal timer.

I am never going to have my birthday on a Friday again. You wake up, you get a free (poorly made) drink at Starbucks, your wife bakes a cherry pie and finishes the two-day process of spaghetti sauce. Facebook and text messages give you the false impression you matter. And then you open up one of these themeless stunt puzzles, and you know before you begin it will be filled with gunk and you wish you'd turned this embarrassingly huge number on a day with a better 12¢ buy.

I only needed a few crosses to write in the stacks. SPEAKER instead of SPEECHES like many slowed things up a bit and afterward it was a lot of wasted effort on movie stars, diseases, court cases and musicians. And as πŸ¦– said, the center of the puzzle took the collateral damage as the price of admission for those tall spanners.

NAPE, oddly, was my favorite part of the puzzle.


1 Oklahoma.
2 Add crossworder refusing to watch Game of Thrones to the guest list.
3 Why you shouldn't have six grid spanners.
4 Adjust after your leg falls asleep.
5 Manufactured a Volkswagen bug.
6 Angela uses the gym's climbing wall.
7 Added alligators to the moat.
8 Another reason not to use six grid spanners.


Gary Jugert 4:12 PM  

@Karl Grouch 1:16 PM
Haha! Nice.

Beezer 4:31 PM  

@jjpennyless, agreed on your take on the KEYNOTE (blank) situation. But…🀣…I will say that when reporting to my spouse I would probably FIRST say…”ooh [celebrity in the field] was the KEYNOTE speaker”…then…”let me tell you about the cool things I learned today (quite possibly NOT learned from KEYNOTE speech. Anyway…you and TTrimble make great points.

@jcal…I thought the same thing about truffles but I couldn’t quite remember WHAT animal was used to “sniff out” truffles! I left it blank until I had DIVA, then the chocolate truffle option became clear. Not sayin’ it wasn’t shameless product promotion but I think the clueing worked.

@Conrad…I looked up RAFA and Rafi as nicknames and it looks like RAFA is diminutive as Spanish for Rafael while Rafi (for Rafael/Raphael) seems to be associated with Jewish and Arabic. No clue on my end because I only knew RAFA because I follow tennis.

JC66 4:32 PM  

@Gary Jugert

Happy Birthday!!!

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

Excellent informative blog today. Nice to get information about construction of crossword puzzles. I liked also the mention of putting SIFT first. I wish more clues were ones where there were two or more good answers, e.g., a clue where DALE and it’s kin are possible rather than one to identify the title of some song of Adele’s recorded in 2018.

Thanks for the blog!

CDilly52 5:38 PM  

This was my kind of Friday, despite the fill difficulty created by the plethora of short answers in the center. Overall, I found this an excellent themeless puzzle.

I’m on the other side of the conference highlights issue. Like many, I have attended a multitude of conferences every year and I often choose which ones (especially ones to satisfy my continuing ed requirements) I attend based in part on who the KEYNOTE SPEakers might be. But the speaker is the lure for me not the highlight. Only if the speakers present spectacular program s will the experiences be memorable. And the memorable experiences are the SPEECHES. Sure, part of the spectacular experience includes the speaker, but to me, its the content I find memorable for the experience to be considered a highlight.

That said, I haven’t too many nits, and liked lots if clues. In the middle, I got RAW DATA right away, but blanked on AMOEBIC and FERRITE. Well to be honest, my eyeballs sent a message with too much gRAMmATIC LICENSE up to the Librarian (or I just didn’t read the dang clue correctly) and I put in FERRous and failed to tumble to my error until the very end. Had to give the Librarian a good head smack and get out the metaphorical DUST MOP to clean up my mess.

DPT was a gimme and brought back dreadful memories of my gravely allergic, asthmatic and immunocompromised baby daughter and her life threatening reaction to her first DPT. Whew! I have thanked the dedicated, skilled, professional and incredibly compassionate staff at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital for 41 years now by contributing in any way asked to support the programs there. Everyone up there including all non-medical personnel deserves a HALO (OK,OK context is wrong but y’all get it).

Loved the GODIVA clue, and thought chocolate at the off simply because it’s Friday and I had the V from PAROLE VIOLATION. That was a very clever clue, easy for me simply because of my career in a prosecutor’s office, albeit on the civil side. Great clue. Also enjoyed looking for the place to put my buns and chuckled when i finally remembered my NAPE. Took me way too long seeing as how just last month after 20+ years (yep, over 2 whole decades) that I wore long hair mostly in a bun at my NAPE, I went to a very short hairstyle. Talk about slow on the uptake!

More Fridays like this one please. Great job Juliet Corless; thank you!

TTrimble 5:49 PM  

That's probably accurate, and I'm very prepared to believe my experiences of conferences tend to differ greatly from the experiences that others have had.

My area is in pure mathematics, and conferences I'm likely to attend are in a sub-discipline where research directions are often closely knit together. Also, my area isn't exactly a locus of grant-wielding power within the mathematical community at large -- and that's on top of the fact that the mathematical slice of the scientific pie is pretty slender to begin with.

The consequence is that "stars" as such in my area are stars either because of their insight, or their ability to explain, or both: you're only a star because what you have to say is worth paying attention to, intellectually, for people in my area, and not some other reason. So in this arena, it's not exactly like you want to be near a star because of their social power or connections. At least that's how it seems to me, and maybe this helps to explain why I said what I said (and I apologize if it sounded insulting).

Son Volt 6:01 PM  

@Gary J - Friday or not we only get a limited number of trips around the sun - Happy Birthday!

B-money 7:33 PM  

I kept MMR in the grid for way too long, making this one of the toughest Fridays for me ever.
Finally had to Google Beyonce's HALO, which opened up those stacks for me.

I don't care if computers make crossword creating easier, with the two triple stacks, computer or not, this was a feat of construction. Kudos to the constructor!

And while I don't like seeing Brian ENO all the time, this was the rare clue that I thought, Yeah, that's clever.

Beezer 7:41 PM  

@TTrimble, please rest assured what you said was NOT insulting! Like I said, I thought maybe that the experience might vary depending on what field a person is in. I totally get what you said and maybe I made “light” a bit with MY experiences in the past. Since I’m in law, a “famous” litigator or, let’s say a Supreme Court Justice could be a “keynote speaker” BUT it is unlikely they will give me “useful” info unless the litigator is in my area of law, and a Supreme Court Justice will DEFINITELY not lay out a blueprint on how to prevail. Too much is “subjective” and “political.” And…”as if” I have ever argued before SCOTUS…but at the bottom you need to foresee every level of appeal. Anyway, @CDilly52 probably put her thoughts out (as a fellow attorney) better than me!

kitshef 5:30 PM  

Oh my GOD that was easy. Seriously, this belonged on Monday. KEYNOTE SPEECHES went in off the K in JFK even though I normally find those to be lowlights, not highlights.

thefogman 11:27 AM  

Bravo to Juliet on her NYT debut. Too bad the editors at the NYT are asleep at the switch. Having NOTOK and OKOK in the same grid is not okay. Had aRtisTICLICENSE before CREATIVELICENSE and rEMovableTATTOO before TEMPORARYTATTO so that slowed me down a lot. DPT is a WOE to me. A touch too many three-letter non-words for my liking. Aside from all those NITs, it was pretty good. Not FREAKINGAWESOME, but pretty, pretty good…

spacecraft 11:38 AM  

Well, it has finally happened. OFF "ATEASANDWICH!"

This one played easy-medium at the Space Station. The "bread" was pretty identifiable after only a few crosses. Some of the "meat" was a TAD tougher. Total misdirection on two clues--34a and 51d--had me filling those in with great reluctance. GODIVA was explained by OFF (thanks), and NAPE by @anon. who said simply "hair buns." My only visualization for that was somebody with his head up his a$$.

OKOK, I'll quit. But with a stray [NOT]OK in there...isn't that, well, NOTOK? Just askin.' It really does seem, lately, that the dupe taboo has been lifted. AMENS to that. I will henceforth not mention it.

With 24 threes, there's bound to be some side-eye fill, but not as much as one might imagine. Our debutante did a good job with a challenging grid. Birdie.

Wordle par.

Burma Shave 1:29 PM  


GODIVA has NO LICENSE to play possum.
NO, I don't HATER as A person,


rondo 1:42 PM  

What ARE we supposed to say? Had to TWEAK NOnOs because the OKs had supposedly already been used up. Otherwise yeah, did it like a sandwich, which is OK. Colin JOST JOTS it in the corners.
Wordle birdie after a BBBBB start!

Diana, LIW 4:39 PM  

Wow. Comments are strange. I thought this grid was filled with lots of fun commentary. I did have to look a couple of words up, but that is totally on me. Perhaps not FREAKINGAWESOME, but pretty darn good!

Diana, LIW

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