Hip-hop duo Sremmurd / FRI 1-20-23 / Penny candy morsel since 1907 / Apologetic comment from a dinner guest / Best-selling Israeli author of "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" / Play a mean guitar slangily

Friday, January 20, 2023

Constructor: Robert S. Greenfield

Relative difficulty: Medium (Easy except for a single, grid-spanning answer)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: YUVAL NOAH HARARI (54A: Best-selling Israeli author of "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind") —

Yuval Noah Harari (Hebrewיובל נח הררי [juˈval ˈnoaχ haˈʁaʁi]; born 1976) is an Israeli historian and professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[1] He is the author of the popular science bestsellers Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014), Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018). His writings examine free willconsciousnessintelligence, happiness, and suffering.

Harari writes about the cognitive revolution occurring roughly 70,000 years ago when Homo sapienssupplanted the rival Neanderthals and other species of the genus Homo, developed language skills and structured societies, and ascended as apex predators, aided by the agricultural revolution and accelerated by the scientific revolution, which have allowed humans to approach near mastery over their environment. His books also examine the possible consequences of a futuristic biotechnological world in which intelligent biological organisms are surpassed by their own creations; he has said, "Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so".

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harari surveys human history from the evolutionary emergence of Homo Sapiens to 21st Century political and technological revolutions. The book is based on his lectures to an undergraduate world history class. (wikipedia)

• • •
This was playing like a relatively bright and vibrant and entertaining (and easy) Friday puzzle ... until I hit that name at the bottom. At that point, everything ground to a crawl as I had to put together the lower third of the puzzle almost entirely through Downs, as YUVALNOAHHARARI was, until the end, just a series of letters that I could not parse or make sense of at all. Because it is such a (huge) outlier in this puzzle, in terms of recognizability and familiarity, and because it is just ... huge (15 letters), the name sucked all the air out of the room. I don't remember the rest of the puzzle well at all. I know I was having fun, but the puzzle basically became *all* about putting YUVALNOAHHARARI together. Let me say, loudly, since there are people who seem never to hear this part: The Fact That I Didn't Know The Name Is Not The Issue. I encounter things I don't know every day, even on Mondays and Tuesdays. Not the point. The point here is, first, the outlier thing I mentioned above—it was jarring to go from Friday zoom-zoom mode into Super-Saturday siege mode. Second, this seems like the kind of name you put in your puzzle as a first name ... or a last name ... [Yuval Noah ___] or [___ Noah Harari], something like that; then I work through the crosses and I learn something, ta da! But ... did you know YUVAL (a reasonably common Israeli name—I know one!) has never been in a NYTXW? Never. Not once. And HARARI ... I thought that was the arrow poison (found abundantly in Crosswords Of Yore), but that's CURARE, LOL. And HARARE is the capital of Zimbabwe. But HARARI ... well, you gotta go back to 1944 to find that in a NYTXW, and, well, the clue is truly something: 

[[Native of Harrar, Abyssinia], LOL thanks, 1944!]

Once again, proper nouns of limited fame draw a hard line in the sand—you either know it and crow about it or you don't and struggle (and probably keep your ignorance to yourself). This is true, in little ways, in every crossword, but today, oof, it completely changes the solving experience. For me, it took it from breezy Friday to sloggy Saturday. Do you know how many "best-selling" authors there are out there? I don't even know what the term means, exactly. Prince Harry and Michelle Obama sit atop the NYT Nonfiction Bestseller list right now, but do you know who's third? (And whose name is also a grid-spanning 15 letters long!)? It's a name I've seen every time I've walked into a bookstore for the past few months and I Still Would Have Found It Very Hard because it's not (yet?) universally famous. It's JENNETTE MCCURDY (15!), author of the provocatively-titled "I'm Glad My Mom Died." I don't even know what my exact point is anymore, except that names are dangerous ingredients and you should treat them as such—recognize their power to *completely* alter the solving experience in a way that a solver cannot work around, because you're dealing in know-it / don't-know-it trivia, and not vocabulary or wordplay etc. And when the name / name parts also aren't easily inferrable with the help of a few crosses, well that makes things all the harder. If the clues had been toughened up all over, and this had been run on a Saturday, I'd've found the Name I Didn't Know far, far less jarring. And bring on JENNETTE MCCURDY, just ... if you want to use all her splashy grid-spanning power, and not just her first or last name, maybe wait for Saturday?

["I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED," also 15!]

I wish I could say that YUVAL NOAH HARARI was the only name problem in the puzzle, but there's weirdly an even bigger name problem in the puzzle, even though it is technically, size-wise, very small. And that is the RAE / HAGEN cross (6D: Hip-hop duo ___ Sremmurd / 15A: Tom ___, consigliere in "The Godfather"). I got through it, but only because I knew RAE Sremmurd ("ear drummers" backwards). I've seen "The Godfather" many times, and I remember "Tom," but his last name ... if you'd told me it was HOGAN, I'd've believed you. My point is that crossing non-universally famous proper nouns at an uninferrable vowel is the precise definition of a Natick! Now maybe absolutely nobody trips on that cross and I have completely misread the danger. But ... if I were the constructor / editor, that cross is a red flag with a red siren. It's not the easiest section to make smooth (barring a complete tear-down), but here's one example of a layout where you can probably control the proper noun difficulty a little better (HEGEL's an important philosopher who has been in the puzzle a bunch of times, and even if he is a bit on the hard side, you can make all the crosses here (particularly the vowel crosses) much easier if you want):

But let me return to the early part of the solve, which was genuinely delightful. Look at this explosive whooshing of fireworks, right out of the NW corner!


I love HATE TO EAT AND RUN because, like me much of the time, the puzzle's just like "first-person pronouns? We don't need no first-person pronouns!" Loved it! COIN A PHRASE is a bit odd-looking without a "TO..." in front of it ... dangerously close to "EAT A SANDWICH"* territory without the idiomatic "TO..." in front of it ... but I'll allow it. 


My biggest non-name struggle today came ... well, it actually was adjacent to The Name, but not directly involved. I had  -OOML-  in place when I encountered 50A: What helps you see the big picture? and so (naturally?) I wrote in ROOM LAMP! If you have a "big picture" on your wall, surely the ROOM LAMP will help you see it, I reasoned, brilliantly. Then I sincerely thought it was ZOOM LAMP (which I thought was maybe the name for those circular lamps people use to directly and softly light their faces when they're on Zoom so they look ... I don't know, more presentable somehow?). I'm talking about these things:

But no, it's just a regular camera's ZOOM LENS. Now that's the kind of struggle I like–falling all over myself with wrong answers until the right one shows up and says "what is wrong with you?" Humiliation as fun. I am into it. Piecing together names I don't know—less fun. Inevitable, but less fun. The one good thing about today's puzzle is a. I am not likely to (completely) forget YUVAL NOAH HARARI or any of his name parts, and b. I am now better equipped to signal for air rescue when I (probably?) get stuck on a deserted island some day. No S.O.S.! Only V! or X! (30D: Letters that shouldn't be written big for air rescue (a single V or X is best)). This is news I can use. Thank you, crossword. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*My go-to example of an arbitrary "[Verb] A [Noun]" phrase

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Natasha 6:11 AM  

I didn't like the clue for ZOOMLENS because . . . a zoom lens helps you see the small picture, right? Or helps make the small picture the big picture, maybe. But I don't think a zoom lens "helps you see the big picture."

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

Spot on today, Rex. I’ve read reviews of Sapiens, have it on my long list of books I want to read, read a long profile of Harari in the New Yorker — and still that bottom third was torturous.
Not proud of remembering Tom HAGEN’s name when so many neighbors’ and acquaintances’ names escape me. Why?

OffTheGrid 6:58 AM  

I enjoyed working my way down through the grid but not without a few stumbles of my own making. I had hopes of completing a Friday without needing to "do research". The SE corner would not fall. I had "bar" as a word with tie or fly (tie bar, bar fly) and trusted it for too long. My one assist was to google Merle. That got me off "bar" and allowed a finish. Of course I didn't know YUVAL NOAH HARARI.* Give me a break! But that was not an issue for me.

*First commenter to declare, "YUVAL NOAH HARARI was a gimme!" wins a TOOTSIE ROLL.

Iydianblues 7:03 AM  

“As ever, Watson, you see but do not observe”. I have seen copies on “Sapiens” dozens of times on bookstore display tables. But never “observed” the author’s name…. Too focused on the “big picture”. @Natasha, I agree, to see that big picture you need a wide-angle lens or a fisheye lens. It was originally designed to study how fish see under water.

Rob 7:08 AM  

100% Natasha. A wide angle lens captures the big picture while the zoom lens captures the far picture.

SouthsideJohnny 7:14 AM  

Rex summed up the downside of PPP nicely. He happened to have had to slog through all 15 crosses to get to the grid spanning dude, but having to slog through a handful of OBERONS every day has the same buzz-kill for a less experienced solver (and add in the foreign stuff to that category for me as well).

TRUE DAT sounds like one of the frequent instances where the NYT tries too hard to be hip, current and cool but instead comes off looking like the real Old Gray Lady - that’s what it sounds like at least. Maybe it’s a regional or generational thing - I’m older than dirt and from the east. Anyone out there in the rest of CrossWorld that chimes in with a “TRUE DAT” during casual conversation on occasion? If not, is there anyone who has ever said (or heard it) ever - even once ?

Danny 7:16 AM  

As someone born in 1987, I know I shouldn’t I miss pop music/actors/slang clues all the time, but I do because I can't get myself to care. So knowing HARARI today counterbalanced my cultural out-of-the-loopness.

It’s an excellent book, by the way.

Irene 7:24 AM  

Anyone else have ROE crossing HOGAN?
It worked and I didn't know it was wrong till I saw Rex's grid.
Crossed proper names are so Natick-prone.

Twangster 7:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wanderlust 7:26 AM  

I DID know the Israeli author, but no way was I able to spell his name, so like Rex, I had to go entirely by crosses. I agree with his point about such an odd, obscure and LONG name taking the fun out of that section. And about the RAE/HAGEN cross - I knew the Godfather name but thought it was HAGaN. Easily fixed, though.

Interesting that Hariri thinks homo sapiens as we know them will no longer exist in a century or two. I have read that of all the ways humanity could come to an end (nuclear war, climate change, pandemic, biological or chemical weapons), our most likely end will be from our creations killing us off. Today, CHAT GPT writes high school students’ essays. Tomorrow, its offspring erase us from the planet. All of those other options would probably leave some survivors, but AI could
probably get the job done completely. Well, I will already be dead by then.

On a happier note, I did like most of the puzzle. Nice clues for TARP (“It can cover all the bases”), NASCAR (“Organization with a strong track record”), and COMBOVER (“Part for a balding man”). I am the latter, and I vow never to go there.

NOISOME means smelly, not loud? How did I not know that? I had to look up ECLAT. I was expecting something wet.

COZY UP next to CAROUSE - two opposing options for Friday night.

I had new papa before DAD TO BE. A possible result of either of those Friday night options but likely only one of them
would be a welcome result.

Did Merle OBERON ever play Titania?

This 'n' That 7:27 AM  

OPTS is an anagram lover's delight. POTS, TOPS, STOP, SPOT, POST


I had a friend who used to say, "God help me. I'm too smart for NASCAR but too dumb for opera".

Love the word PRAT, emordnilap of 1A.

I knew of the word NOISOME but not the meaning. Now I do.

Lewis 7:30 AM  

The part I enjoyed most was getting the Israeli author’s name, which I’d never come across before. Clearing hurdles like that is what my brain lives for.

Plenty more to enjoy as well.
• A trio of excellent pairs – HATE TO EAT AND RUN and BOLT, CAMERA and ZOOM LENS, and the magnificent IN A ROW and ARGUE.
• The abutting balancing pair of COIN A PHRASE and the answer that is clued [Unimaginative].
• The sing-song quality of the name YUVAL NOAH HARARI. I hear it in the rhythm of “I will always remember” or “Have a lovely vacation”, and I’m sure there are a ton more. Anyone?
• The corner-touching palindromes TOT and SOS, with their center O’s sandwiched by two of the same letter.
• SHRED, clued [Play a mean guitar, slangily}, pairing nicely with TARTS backward – “Strat” – slang for Stratocaster, the iconic rock guitar.

What I remember about TOOTSIE ROLLS is my upper and lower teeth sticking together at first bite.

Robert, congratulations on your debut – on a Saturday! I love the “family is my number one priority” message in your notes, which warmed my heart. And I had a great time on this outing – many, many thanks for this!

Bob Mills 7:31 AM  

Had to cheat twice to finish this typical Friday puzzle. The RAE/HAGEN cross was impossible for me to get, because I never heard of either person.

Just once I wish the New York Times would publish a puzzle without the name of some rap artist included. In this case, RAE could have been clued in several different ways; why do we have to endure these hip-hop names all the time? The same argument applies to TRUEDAT, which is street language, used by a tiny percentage of the population.

Donkos 7:35 AM  

Because I just bought the book, I knew Yuval Noah Harari which means this puzzle played super easy for me. Will someone please remind the editor that ‘alee’ does not mean ‘safe at sea’. That terms is “In the lee”. Alex simply means downwind.

ScottK 7:36 AM  

I think the “?” In big picture indicates a subtle pun. Yes, a wide angle lens would be more correct to see the big picture, as in he whole picture. But, for his clue “big picture” means a picture that enlarges a specific area, which is exactly what a zoom lens does. As in “I need a big picture of your eye.” The “?” Is doing a lot of work here.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Thanks, Rex. Agree that one needs to rely mostly on downs in the lower half. Got the NOAH part, but that first name was elusive and SW corner was obscure. MASK-PERK stumped me. Downs in SE fell in.

But - very nice how the intersection of proper names at 6D-15A (RAE-Hagen) spanned generations. Quite fair and more usage of proper names should adopt this convention.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

Thought The Godfather dude was Tom Haden or something. Realize now I was somehow confusing his name with Tom Hayden, lol.

@SouthsideJohnny, somehow I was aware of TRUEDAT as an expression. But it seems really unlikely that I've ever heard anyone use it in conversation. So how did it enter my consciousness? TV? Comic strips?

egsforbreakfast 8:13 AM  

Roomie 1: I’m hungry. We should get some Chinese food.
Roomie 2: TRUEDAT
Roomie 1: Anyone.wanna throw in some dough?
Roomie 3: Yeah, here’s $10. CHOW ME IN.

I had a manic-depressive friend named Silvester. I called his down periods SILOS.

TOOTSIEROLLs proved more effective than PEZ as a stop smoking aid, since it’s hard to smoke with your teeth stuck together.

Does “stenchsome” mean foul-sounding?

I thought this was a pretty easy, but very fun, Friday, even though I also needed all of the crosses for the Sapiens author. Thanks, and congrats on the debut, Robert S. Greenfield.

Twangster 8:14 AM  

Started with CO_____ for 34-down (Part for a balding man?) and confidently entered COSTANZA.

Peter P 8:14 AM  

@Southside Johnny - I've used TRUE DAT in casual conversation more than once, but, for me, it's usually been a bit of a purposeful slang usage rather than completely spontaneous, if that makes any sense. I definitely knew people that would use in their everyday lingo. I'm late 40s, grew up in Chicago. That said, it's a pretty old phrase by now -- at least 20 years.

Barbara S. 8:16 AM  

I found this a lot less challenging than yesterday despite not knowing Mr. (Dr?) HARARI’s name. Because I worked in a bookstore in the 2000s and early 2010s, I kept thinking the name would become familiar once I had a few crosses, but no such luck. Even so, I didn’t find the lower half nearly the ordeal that Rex did, because I thought most of those crosses were straightforward. The only ones that gave me any pause were at the far west and far east: COZY UP, CAROUSE, TARTS and DERIDE, and they didn’t stay unknown for long. Up top, I didn’t know HAGEN either but again, except for RAE, the crosses fell into place pretty easily and I thought A was the only sensible choice for that Naticky square, because HoGaN is usually spelled with an A in the second syllable, which this name couldn’t have (as GaT IT made no sense).

Had my usual headache at 1A. I got TAHINI and ALANON with no problem, but conked out at RETAIN and PEERS (although I should know that, most of the time, whenever there’s a “jury” clue, PEERS is sure to follow). That left [It can cover all the bases] as TA__ and I thought TAlc! I guess I was thinking rosin (which maybe pitchers use?), and had some benighted idea that it was on bases, too. I abandoned the NW partially filled in, solved the rest of the puzzle and finished up back there where I had HAvE TO EAT AND RUN and still had TAlc, making [Don’t forget] lEvAIN. Levain? Huh? It took just a minute to sort that out, and I got the happy music with a good time on the clock.

There was a lot to like here: HATE TO EAT AND RUN, NOT A BAD IDEA, COIN A PHRASE (which is so much stronger than “eat a sandwich”), RIPOSTES, NOISOME. Had some trouble parsing DAD TO BE, but liked it as an answer. I appreciated the reminder of the exotic Merle OBERON. She’ll always be Cathy of Wuthering Heights to me. Good question, @Wanderlust! But I don't think she ever did.

[SB: yd, 0. Got lucky with my last word.]

Dr.A 8:16 AM  

You literally had me laughing out loud today. Or at least quietly loud because no one else is up here and that’s how I like it. Totes agree on the SE corner, but got it eventually. At least Oberon is a name that makes sense even if I had not heard it before. Thanks again.

mmorgan 8:17 AM  

Totally agree with Rex that the long name at the bottom (I don’t feel like typing it out) totally changed the vibe of the puzzle. I also read that fascinating New Yorker article about him a while back, so with the crosses and snippets of his name in my memory, it came without too much trouble. But it totally changed the vibe.

I had much more trouble — and failed — with the RAE / HAGEN Natick crossing up top, guessing an O instead of an A. Oh well.

Otherwise I enjoyed the puzzle a lot.

jberg 8:18 AM  

So let me see if I've got this straight. If I'm stranded in the wilderness, find a clearing and write SOS in big letters with rocks, the rescue pilot will take one look and mutter "No V, no X, we're done here." Handy knowledge indeed.

Is there still penny candy? Or is that just what we call it for nostalgia's sake? It strikes me as something from auld lang SYNE.

I knew the origin of sremmund, but not of RAE -- I just went with it on general plausibility, and because HoGaN would have to cross GaT IT.

No idea about the author. It helped that I could see NOAH in there, but I needed all the crosses for HARARI. There was a popular Lebanese politician named Rafic HARiRI who was assassinated some years back, throwing the country into crisis. But I can still remember the thrill when we got ROTARY phones in Sturgeon Bay, so the A was a gimme.

Yeah, the ZOOM lens was tough. I had COme up (as to the stage) before COZY, so I was considering whether there might be a mOOd LENS, or maybe a mOOg (from the synthesizer people). But then the light dawned, giving me YUVAL as well.

@Southside, I think TRUE DAT comes from New Orleans, though I couldn't swear to it. Donna Brazile used to deploy it on Twitter.

GAC 8:29 AM  

Had HOGAN, then HAGEN. I am a long-time admirer of Will Shortz and the improvements he has brought to crossword puzzling. The HARARI answer seems out of character for him. If he reads this blog and sees all the criticisms of that item, perhaps he can explain - or apologize?

Mr. Grumpypants 8:33 AM  

RAE could easily have been clued to actress Issa, who is sure as heck better known that either of the crosses used by the constructor.

Ted 8:35 AM  

Solving from top to bottom, as one does, I looked real hard at that RAE/HAGEN cross and said "Rex will have thoughts on that." I mentally marked it for review if the puzzle failed to show as complete when I filled in the grid on the app.

Little did I know, YUVAL NOAH HARARI was waiting for me down below. :D

Wow. That's one heck of a name you got there.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

@Donkos, in a stormy sea, one is safer on the LEE side of an island (ALEE of the island I suppose).

Ellen 8:44 AM  

My kids said it in the 2010s ... and I use it occasionally, mostly in conversations with then.

BTW: Jennette McCurdy tells a fascinating & disturbing story about her pushy and unstable stage mother, eating disorders and so much more. Not just for fans of "iCarly," which seemed to be on our TV at least once a day for years on end

Todd 8:45 AM  

That is quite a name. Pretty happy to finish this one. Though I just wrote Hagen in. Which is good because like most obscure band or musican names after 1990 I have zero knowledge of Rae Sremmurd. At least Rae is an actual name unlet so many which are random letter sorts.

Ellen 8:46 AM  

It's been a week, but it's only Friday!!

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Amy: counting this as a 'partial' look up. Had Noah Harari, so typed that into Google and of course Yuval topped the list. And now I'm more interested in his book.
RIPOSTES is a fun word, and NOISOME reminds us of its existence....as does ROTARY phone. Think I'll find some Merle Oberon movies to queue up and pour some NEHI soda to go with the TOOTSIE ROLLs. Then I will need a dentist!

kitshef 8:46 AM  

Overall, very easy. But thank goodness I knew RAE and AGAR, 'coz HAGEN is a complete WoE. Much more of an outlier in difficulty than YUVAL NOAH HARARI. I would never have come up with the latter, but at least it rang a (very faint) bell once it went in.

Barbara S. 8:48 AM  


1. A wit’s ammunition.
2. Nickname of Usain’s faster little brother, who explodes off the starting blocks like a missile launch.
3. My cryptonym every night at bedtime.
4. Romantic cuddling for sesame lovers.
5. The Large Hadron Collider.
6. “Oh my god, NO! Whatever you do, DON’T SHAVE YOUR HEAD!”


Nancy 8:49 AM  

Most of the way through I was thinking that the dog ate the Friday puzzle, so the NYT rushed this substitute in with only hours to spare. With the exception of the Israeli gridspanner and the HAGEN/RAE cross (where I guessed right) I found everything but the SW corner really, really easy. Almost Tuesday-easy.

Not that I care that much. This day-of-the-week thing has always been completely arbitrary anyway. But the puzzle, which I found perfectly pleasant, doesn't really meet expectations.

A word about "Part for a balding man"= COMB OVER. Well, no, just the opposite in fact. A part is meant to show the scalp. A COMB OVER is meant to hide the scalp. Just ask a certain former president. (Although at this point in time I don't think he has a comb over, I think he has an orange hairpiece.)

Son Volt 8:55 AM  

Fun puzzle - yea I had no clue on YUVAL but all of the spanning crosses were simple. Unlike the big guy HAGEN went right in - the top of this grid fell quick.

Will you be remembered?

The interconnected longs were really nice - EAT AND RUN x TOOTSIE ROLL x NOT A BAD IDEA fantastic. DAD TO BE is quaint - NOISOME not so much.

Enjoyable Friday solve.


DrBB 8:56 AM  

My absolute least favorite, most annoying puzzle experience is the super easy WITH ONE IMPOSSIBLY HARD clue. Sunday NYT that you breeze through in record time, full of almost insultingly easy gimmes, and just when you're about to complete the fill you hit a totally underivable Natick made of oddly spelled raptor monickers, a pair of crossing acronyms that could be any letters in the alphabet or the like, and it's sheer guesswork for several minutes and when you finally DO get it the answer is a complete and utter "meh."

This coulda been that puzzle, but wasn't for me. I had the same problem with 54A as everyone else. But the book has been getting a decent amount of play in the media--I've seen it cited here and there though I admit I haven't read it--and I found it totally gettable by the crosses. It was such an in-your-face challenge that I took it as being kind of humorous, deliberately over the top. And it's definitely worth a read even if you can't remotely remember the author's name or how to spell it even if you can. I felt like I was in on the joke, even though it raised the difficulty for me too. I put it in the "Cruel but fair because fun" category.

JB 8:58 AM  


Lewis 9:05 AM  

@ellen -- Oops! Good catch!

RooMonster 9:05 AM  

Hey All !
Oh, yeah, my good friend YUVAL. We just call him YOOV. Had some CHOW MEIN with him the other day, then I HOP IN his two-SEATER as we go to the ARENAS so he can USES
his CAMERA with the ZOOM LENS to SNAP ON a pic or two of a DAD TO BE handing out TOOTSIE ROLLs. I tell ya, they YOOV is a hoot! TRUE DAT.

That SE corner. Holy TARTS, Batman! OBERON crossing HGDRTIKNCSTXOI, or whatever that name was, is a "C'mon man! Give me a chance!" cross. And DAD TO BE. Had DAD____ forever, thinking what could it possibly be? Had to Goog for OBERON, because Wuthering Heights us wuthered away in the ole brain. That helped in getting me to DAD_OBE. DAD ROBE? DAD LOBE? Ran the alphabet, hit the T, lightbulb clicked on, say, "Aaaaah, TO BE!" and gave the constructors a "TSK" finger-wag.

Flew through the rest of puz in about 10 minutes. Either I've been getting smarter, or the puzs are getting easier. Bet the latter, for sure. Then the SE snapped me back to reality about how tough puzs can be it they want to.

Hopefully no NOISOME RIPOSTES to my post. HATE TO post AND RUN, but gotta ZOOM.

No F's (NOT A BAD IDEA to include some, ya know.)

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Fastest Friday ever for me. I did not know RAE, but I did know HAGEN and that made getting RAE easy. I wouldn't have guessed YUVALNOAHHARARI in a million years, but every single cross was fair and easy, so I just ignored it.

The only minor struggle I had was due to putting in TepiD and then TImiD instead of TIRED., but that only added 10 or so seconds to my solve. Everything else was just ZOOM [LENS], ZOOM [LENS], ZOOM [LENS]!

pabloinnh 9:10 AM  

Hand up for the RAE/ HAGEN cross and also the grid spanner, a true every=cross=needed answer.

@egs-You're right about a TOOTSIEROLL being a good stop-smoking aid, as someone pointed out yesterday (me). Didn't expect the famous TR to show up again so soon though.

Love is so simple
You've know it all the time
I'm learnin' it these days....

Bobby D. comes in handy again.

Liked this a lot, RSG, with a couple of exceptions. Really Strong Grid so two clunkers forgiven. Thanks for all t4he fun.

bocamp 9:19 AM  

Thx, Robert, for a very smooth Fri offering! :)


Not far off my PB.

Toughest section was the SE, esp parsing DAD TO BE.

DiscOVERed Merle OBERON today.

Have read a number of HARARI's books, as well as viewed some of his Ted Talks. Had forgotten his given name (thx fair crosses). :)

Learned TAHINI from my hummus ingredients list and from the NYT Spelling Bee.

Had recently compared and contrasted RIPOSTE with 'retort'.

Thot of NOISOME as being unpleasant or disagreeable. Didn't know the 'Foul-smelling' def.

Became familiar with AA, ALANON and ALAteen while minoring in alcohol studies at college.

Enjoyed this one a lot! :)

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

Jeremy Driesen 9:25 AM  

I'm a photographer and got totally stuck on "see the big picture." A zoom lens is a lens that has a range of focal lengths. You can zoom in closer or zoom out wider. It does NOT indicate a lens that shows "the big picture;" that would be a wide angle lens. Not buying this one.

Seeg 9:25 AM  

I have read and reread “sapiens” but still struggled with the authors name. Other than that I thought the puzzle was more like a Tuesday. I enjoyed it as I filled it out like a job application, Almost never having to, you should excuse expression, puzzle over the answer.

Oberon made me feel badly for anyone born after the Korean War- how could they know Oberon.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Yikes, this one played tough for me. I somehow managed to quickly pull YUVALNOAHHARARI out of my you-know-where but found quite a bunch odd ones that threw me for a loop. NOISOME, RIPOSTES, ECLAT, for some reason DADTOBE got me pretty bad. Had no idea about OBERON either. Had a hell of a time with the bottom right but finally made it through, here’s to a breezier Saturday

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Love Issa!

Diego 9:41 AM  

Read SAPIENS a while back, LOVED the book, brilliant survey, riveting from the get-go, highly recommend it!!!
Still, had to get some crosses to spell the name. My gastroenterologist in NYC was a Dr. Harari (Syrian Jew) so that helped with the spelling.
Do I get a TOOTSIE ROLL for knowing this bit of “trivia”?
Enjoyed this one but, agree, there’s a lopsidedness about it.

Whatsername 9:43 AM  

Overall, I found this to be a better than average Friday and pretty impressive debut. Congratulations Mr. Greenfield on your big day!

That said, I agree 100% with Rex about the grid-spanning name. Should be pretty obvious to most any constructor or editor that it would be a major obstacle for even a seasoned solver, and cluing it with a partial blank would have been kinder and gentler, to say the least. My first response was you’ve got to be kidding, what a slap in the face! Then after finishing, the nicest thing I can say is at least it was only crossed with one other proper name.

Aside from that, this was a fun Friday romp and dare I say, almost felt Weintraub-ish in the smoothness of the flow. One last thought, the clue for ORB must be the longest on record for a three-letter answer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

As is often true, I think Rex captures well why this puzzle was frustrating. The difficulty level for YUVALNOAHHARARI is way out of proportion to the rest of the puzzle. And NOAH is the only one of the three parts of his name that is widely familiar, so it's not the kind of name where you can figure out the rest of it once you have half the letters.

To me, that's much more of a Saturday situation than a Friday one. Except the rest of the puzzle was more Friday-like. So it felt inconsistent to me.

burtonkd 10:08 AM  

@Southside - I think TRUEDAT came into the public lexicon when "The Wire" was airing on HBO.

Great, fast Friday, properly crossed Mr. Harari notwithstanding. MeSh > MASK for screen only hangup. Guessed right on H_GEN.

I see the point on ZOOMLENS, but it could mean a lens that makes small things look bigger, you know Xword wordplay rather than technical definitions...

Sam Ross 10:10 AM  

Agree entirely with Rex’s description of the solving experience at the bottom of the puzzle. Needed most of the downs, only Yuval was easily inferable given the crosses I had. Surprised, though, that Rex didn’t mention the HARARI/OBERON crossing. I inferred the R because I’m familiar with the name OBERON, but have never heard of Merle. Wouldn’t be surprised if that R tripped some folks up.

wcdevins 10:23 AM  

My biggest problem was having SNOW PEAS in place of CHOW MEIN for the longest time. I felt big name was fair from crosses;I was amazed the constructor could successfully cross all 15 letters. ZOOM and MASK went in last for me.

Beezer 10:25 AM  

Pretty much agreed with everything that @Rex said today, as well as some others (difficulty with RAE, HAGEN cross) but I probably finished this in a no-cheating close to record time for a Friday.

Get this. My husband is currently reading Sapiens. Sapiens was on a table 10 feet away from me as I was solving. Imagine the self-control it took to not walk over and read the author’s name! 🤣 I hung in there and I thought the crosses were pretty fair.

@Southside….I’m close to 20 years older than @Peter P and I can assure you that TRUEDAT is not street language but I agree it’s been “out of vogue” for use for quite awhile.

@Nancy….my idea of a COMBOVER is that the balding man lets on side of his hair grow out long, then he “parts” it ridiculous close to his ear and flips the long hair across his scalp. As for Donald Trump…his hair, lack of or hairpiece is STILL a mystery to me. Although, I can’t imagine anyone WITH hair choosing to style it that way!

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Well technically a “telephoto” lens shows a small area in detail. A “zoom lens” is a lens that can go from wide angle to telephoto.

Beezer 10:35 AM  

Oh. And btw, I suspect the constructor loved the book Sapiens (as my husband and daughter do/did) and that he wanted to feature it…maybe constructed the puzzle around it? I’m okay with that. I’ve looked into and subsequently read books that have been puzzle clues/answers. I wouldn’t be surprised if many “puzzlers” will now read Sapiens.

Michael Page 10:36 AM  

Yep, you can take YUVAL out and shoot him, metaphorically.

As many have noted, ZOOM LENS is wrong.
ARENAS aren’t ground for “A” fight, singular.
A TARP doesn’t cover the bases, they take them out before rolling out the tarp.
And a TOOTSIE ROLL is hardly a morsel, it’s a whole, slow candy bar.

Newboy 10:37 AM  


Congrats Robert on a debut grid. Gotta say that your choices of conversational phrases were all rolling off my tongue easily. My wife’s book group read Sapiens, so I had a moral victory in NOT casually strolling out for more coffee and “inadvertently” getting the writer right….your crosses were fair and the entry itself motivates me to dust it off & add to the bedside stack.

Gopman 10:46 AM  

A telephoto lens let's you see far. A zoom lens let's you change the amount of magnification.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Bobby D: to QUOTE a phrase

Yvonne 10:57 AM  

I am a card – carrying anthropologist and have read “Sapiens,” but I still needed a bunch of crosses to finally get Harari’s name. Not a fan of the book. Maybe that’s why I blanked on his name.

GILL I. 10:58 AM  

How to bake the most lovely, eye catching Baked Alaska only to find out that instead of sifting sugar, you used salt. My experience today.
When I got to RAE V HAGEN my first thought was why are you doing this? I left that area quickly and continued humming as the ingredients were yummy. I followed the recipe with delight and ease. I kept thinking "I can't wait for the finale, this will taste bodaciously and I will be quite happy with myself." I was...until I took a bite of bitter salt.
@Rex pretty much said what I was thinking. So much eye candy only to come to an impossible (for me) name. I finally managed it with all the delightful downs but, ay dios mio, what a bit of an unwanted struggle.
@Irene 7:24... Yes....I went back up and just crossed fingers that ROE and HAGEN were the correct ingredients. They weren't. The Baked Alaska fell like a thud.
I learned something fun today....comebacks are RIPOSTES and that something smelly is NOISOME.

kitshef 10:58 AM  

I'm intrigued by DrBB's 'oddly spelled raptor monickers'.
Baldie Eegal
Kewper's Haak

Austin 11:03 AM  

Great write-up. Roger Ebert is the only reason I knew both the name and spelling of HAGEN: ‘All of the other roles are so successfully filled that a strange thing happened as I watched this restored 1997 version: Familiar as I am with Robert Duvall, when he first appeared on the screen I found myself thinking, “There’s Tom Hagen.”’

Grouch 11:18 AM  

I'm not sure why there is so much angst about "that long name nobody knows". The downs make it very doable. Did it add too many seconds to your time? @Rex described how that one, 1, answer ruined the puzzle for him. Really? Read the news if you want to be upset.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

And there's TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) a number one hit in 1974 for MFSB. (Officialy "Mothers Fathers Sisters Brothers". Unofficially, something more profane.)

johnk 11:21 AM  

Probably record time for me although I never time myself. I rarely, if ever, find a puzzle easier than anyone here. Simply filled it in. No problem with Dr. Harari, as I was filling in the Downs acrossthe South. COZYUP was my last fill.

Jeremy 11:25 AM  

I was tripped up for a long time by ECLAT, and wasn’t helped by having initially written HOPoN, but I eventually caught that mistake and TIRED gave it away.

Gary Jugert 11:29 AM  

I'd like to believe most puzzles I dislike are my own fault, but this is dreadful all on its own.

If you need to tell us something's famous, it's not. If you think a best selling anything is noteworthy, it should be eggs or toilet paper.

[Hip hop duo] crossing [Random Godfather character] crossing [Chinese menu item]. It's the trifecta of old trivia + singer + Asian cooking. This is how you make Friday Fri?

Think we're done? Yuval Noah Harari. Alphabet soup, right? You must get every single cross with a name like that. So let's cross with a dead actress and maybe the dumbest air conditioning clue possible. OK phew. I'm done. /tizzy

This was a fun puzzle after looking up the utter nonsense. A few nice vocabulary words for me: RIPOSTE, NOISOME, ECLAT. And the long answers are sweet.

Oddly, I tried to find tahini sauce in our grocery the other day and failed. Not in Asian, not in salad dressings, not on the baking aisle. Where is it?


1 Résumé entry for experienced diaper changer.
2 Home Depots.
3 Create a bad beta.
4 The unapologetic fashion choice of a man who just can't let it go.
5 The thrilling tales of shopping for cowboy shirts.
6 Fermion.


JC66 11:32 AM  

For all those questioning ZOOM LENS, did you notice the ? in the clue?

Joseph Michael 11:45 AM  

If you have a name like YUVAL NOAH HARARI, how could you not write a book?

Fun puzzle except for RAE/HAGEN where I OPTed for an O at the cross and ended up with a DNF.

Wanted the one using a bib to be a NUN but eventually saw the error of my ways.

Message from the Pentagon to those with a COMBOVER: You’re not fooling anyone.

Alice Pollard 11:52 AM  

I HATE to Google, but I had to for YUVAL NOAH HARARI. never heard of him/her. the other long ones were easy for me HATETOEATANDRUN, TOOTSIEROLL, NOTABADIDEA all came to me quickly.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

YNH: wasn't Sapiens Obama's favorite book? And when Homo Deus came out YNH was everywhere, debating on Bill Maher, meeting with all the tech billionaires, etc. I'll give you it's a lot of letters, but comparing him with a romance novelist, yikes!

Maria Luisa Vega 12:09 PM  

Disagree with Rex’s rant. I Hadn’t heard of this Yuval person either but it didn’t matter as the crosses were fair. Also, his first two names are common for an Israeli so there’s that. Definitely on the easy side for a Friday. Seen NOISOME written many times but I guess I never knew it meant “foul-smelling” before. Good to know. Cheers.

Masked and Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Har. Well, this here puzgrid had the Jaws of Themelessness rigged with exhaust pipes. Apt.

The puz staff musta thought RAE/HAGEN was too easy, as they splatzed a ?-marker clue [one of 3 in the whole puz] on one of their other crossin answer's clues [for CRAGS] in that little nook.
M&A sorta recalled HAGEN, from readin the book many many years back.

As for YUVANOAHHARARI … no-know but luved it. All the crossers were gettable, at our house. Altho -- OBERON might not've been gettable at everybody's house, I'd grant.

What woulda been extra cool: Have the Sapiens author name broken up into three crossin answers of YUVA/NOAH/HARARI. Ooooh, sweet-- a runtpuz could even do that … almost kinda makes M&A's tootsie roll...

staff weeject pick: RAE. M&Ethinks RAE coulda been clued up a sloosh easier, to eliminate most of the pain, without havin to resort to @RP's PETIT/HEGEL of mystery.

Thanx for all them dear crossins, Mr. Greenfield dude. And congratz on a promisin debut.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

p.s. Evidently there were 80 debut constructioneers, last year. [And George Santos weren't one of em, no matter what he claims.]


Mothra 12:29 PM  

Am I the only one getting tired of these too-easy Fridays? Weekend puzzles should take longer than 15 minutes. And believe me, I’m no super-solver.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  


Anonymous 12:34 PM  


Barbara S. 12:34 PM  

@Gary Jugert (11:29)
Love your NOISOME TOT -- I just couldn't wrangle that one. Always fascinated by our different takes on the same word groupings. Your CODE TIRED and also probably your PARTICLE are better than mine, and I like your terse solution to BOLT SILOS (although I remain fond of Usain's brother). I've been wondering what (~) means, but I've suddenly realized you add it when you've changed word order. I haven't done that yet, but will consider it in future for the really tough nuts.

Carola 12:39 PM  

A breeze and a pleasure, until I got to you-know-where. I managed HARARI without too much trouble, but the SW corner almost did me in. Major struggle to get the necessary Downs, but I eventually figured them out. So many fine answers: RIPOSTE + DERIDE, NOISOME, CAROUSE, REHASHES - a real treasure trove of a grid.

It's been been many years since I saw Wuthering Heights, but images of Merle Oberon in Greg Toland's beautiful cinematography have remained in memory.

Do-overs: REcall before RETAIN, mu shu nope-it-doesn't-fit before CHOW MEIN. Help from previous puzzles: TRUE DAT. No idea: RAE, Y.N.H.

@Wanderlust 7:26 - Thanks for pointing out COZY UP v. CAROUSE --> DAD-TO-BE :)

@kitshef 10:58 - LOL! The serendipitous gifts of autocorrect.

jae 12:39 PM  

Easy. Yep, 54a was a major WOE but the crosses were OK. The rest was cake. Solid, liked it. Nice debut.

Hand up for knowing HAGEN.

Masked and Anonymous 12:43 PM  

p.s. Oops - left the L offa YUVAL, in my first msg. Sorry, Yuval.


Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Thankfully I’ve had Sapiens sitting half read on my coffee table for 2 years. So it was a gimme :)

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

It's called a ring light.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

@leo. For 18 down, with the letter ‘o’ in 2nd and 3rd spots, wrote in good n plenty before major changes. Can someone explain the term ‘green paint’. Google definitions don’t seem to explain its use.

Joe Dipinto 1:04 PM  

COMBOVER = wrong

ZOOM LENS = wrong

ORB = was that 15-word clue really necessary?

YES A BAD IDEA = seeding the grid with a 15-letter not-well-known name. It's not that the name is hard to figure out, it's that it's jarringly discordant with the mostly very easy fill. In a more imaginative and difficult puzzle it might not stick out like a proverbial sore thumb.

old timer 1:16 PM  

WHERE'S MY FRIDAY? I was screaming, as I raced through the top half of the puzzle, with nary a challenge (I remembered Mr. HAGEN from reading The Godfather years ago). The bottom half was a bit more of a challenge, until I got to that Israeli author, Mr. Somebody NOAH Somebody.

Yeah, I cheated. Never saw the book, never heard of the author. Once I filled in his newly Googled name, the rest was doable. But, like OFL, I thought it was totally unfair to put in any puzzle, even a Saturday one.

I do wonder why SEAMS are bee lines. I liked the final Across clue. Could be Auld or Lang, I thought, and it would have been more fun if it was one of those. And I am mentally kicking myself for not getting ROTARY right away. For years I insisted on having at least one in the house, because the old touch-tone phones were not very reliable compared to the old ROTARY ones. I was sad to let it go.

Gotta say, OFL was especially amusing to read today.

JonB3 1:22 PM  

Are we confusing TRUE DAT with the New Orleans Saints cheer of 1983? - "Who dat! Who dat! Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints!"

Weezie 1:22 PM  

This morning, I hadn’t done the crossword yet when a friend texted and asked for help with “‘Wuthering Heights’ actress Merle _______”. Because I didn’t remember it without a few crosses, I wound up solving the SE corner first, which left me with most of HARARI. Between crosses and knowing Yuval and Noah as common Hebrew names, I muscled it out and worked my way back up counterclockwise through the puzzle. I think inadvertently having that strong foothold in knowing the least common part of the name straight away made this a PB solve for me. I’ll take it.

In general a nice serviceable puzzle, that after the high of yesterday just felt a little lackluster. I fully agree with @jberg about how potentially useful that V or X over SOS trivia could be. Filing that away for future potential constructing, to include a lesser-known fact or facts that might save someone’s life.

The Joker 1:27 PM  

I feel bad for bald men with a comb over. They have no one that loves them enough to tell them how bad it looks.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

@Oldtimer. Quilting Bee

Nancy 1:39 PM  

So I've avoided reading either Gary or Barbara's uniclues today. I gather they both provided some. I'm curious to see if I would pick the same combos they did and if I would clue any of the entries similarly to the way they did. Let's see.


1. Sleep on your back and keep your head absolutely still

2. A perfectly ghastly second wedding ceremony

3. The result of stuffing those poor granaries within an inch of their lives

4. The cure for overcrowded Chinese restaurants

5. A secret word that your spouse knows and your houseguests don't

6. You know I hate hip-hop!


(I'll go now and see what Gary and Barbara did.)

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

The long name that so vexed Rex was not a huge stumbling block because of easy crosses. Excellent debut Friday, if a bit easy.

CDilly52 1:42 PM  

As ever I am late to the party and my ZOOM LENS comment isn’t necessary. The answer did however give me trouble precisely because I wanted fisheye or wide angle but alas, its the Goldilocks problem, one was too long and the other too short but ZOOM LENS was just the right number of letters albeit incorrect for the precise clue. Alas.

I picked up “Sapiens: . . . at the bookstore the other day - maybe five or six days ago, and could talk a bit about its content or some facts about the author, but not the full name. What good fortune the crosses were easy!

This was just super easy for a Friday, but enjoyable because of the clues and some great words. NOISOME, RIPOSTES and DERIDE are just excellent words. And our constructor avoided junk.

I always chuckle at any reference to Salvator Mindi. The third grade at Villa Teresa School was studying Renaissance artists and inventions. Naturally the great Leonardo featured prominently. In the car on the way home, my daughter provided me with some highlights. She said they saw “a painting of a sad lady” that was very famous (the painting not the lady).

A few more questions (I swear everything I learned about good direct examination technique came from trying to extract factual information from young kids) and I discerned that she was probably talking about “Salvator Mindi.” She recognized the title when I asked. Knowing we were on the same page, I asked her why she thought the lady was sad. The answer was “the painter gave her a snow globe with nothing in it and she had to sit there holding it while he painted with nothing to look at.”

Fun Friday!

Nancy 1:47 PM  

So interesting. We're all funny in our own ways, but there's absolutely no overlap at all. It's fascinating how differently different minds work.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Rae Sremmurd named themselves after "drummer's ear" spelled backward, not "ear drummers" with each word reversed

Jared 2:00 PM  

I actually did manage to get YUVAL NOAH just on crosses, but still had a double Natick DNF. Both the RAE/HAGEN cross rex mentioned, and then also the HARARI / OBERON cross (especially with DAD TO BE not being exactly the easiest clue either, and with 49D being one of those clues with a ton of reasonable answers (cAkeS etc.), as well as 44D (bERatE, for instance, fits with TROt, there's also gRip for "put foot down"). Such a tough corner.

Barbara S. 2:27 PM  

@Nancy (1:39)
Your NOISOME TOT IDO and CHOWMEIN ARENAS had me laughing out loud!

okanaganer 2:27 PM  

For all those objecting to ZOOM LENS, listen up: if you use one to zoom out, the clue is spot on. I have one on my Sony video camera with quite an impressive range. I once did a video of a carnival at dusk, with all the rides moving and the neon lights blinking and people having a ball. I ended with a shot taken from up in the hills which started zoomed all the way in it, then very s-l-o-w-l-y zoomed out until you could see the whole valley and the sunset, with the carnival a bright smudge at the bottom. It got the best comments of any shot I ever did.

I often type an answer too quickly and hit the wrong key. So it happened at square 5, resulting in the perfectly plausible SHOW ME IN. When I finished but didn't get the Happy Pencil, it took ages to find the problem.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; @Barbara S 8:16 am I had the same last word AGAIN!]

GBS 2:27 PM  

I've actually never seen the Godfather, so I made the Hegel/Slap On mistake! I had to check the puzzle to see I had gotten the two letters wrong, and then guess from there.

jazzmanchgo 2:36 PM  

Don't worry, I'm not "offended" (almost impossible to do in a crossword puzzle!) -- but TRUE DAT could be interpreted as a kind of "verbal blackface," mocking/satirizing African-American vernacular speech (or, at the very least, working-class speech in general). Again, I'm glad it was here, I'm 100% against outlawing clues/words/references that legitimately refer to real-life speech, situations, people, etc. -- even so, I'm a little surprised that none of our oh-so-vigilant word police jumped on this one.

p.s. SEAMS are "bee lines" because they're sewn at the gatherings known as "sewing bees." Actually I was hoping for a linguistic/lexicographical reference (i.e., lines heard/used at "spelling bees"). But this one was pretty good.

Anoa Bob 2:46 PM  

I second the request for an explanation of how 60A "Bee lines?" equates to SEAMS.

This old sailor was taught to alert the crew when about to jibe (change course so that the stern of the vessel passes through a following wind) by shouting "Helm's ALEE (14A)!". ALEE means the tiller has been pushed over to the side of the boat away from the wind. At sea the side exposed to the wind is windward and the side away from the wind is LEEward. I agree with @Donkos 7:35 that the correct answer to 14A "On the safe side, at sea" would be "In the LEE of".

Here's Gordon Lightfoot's "Christian Island" to give us a charming example of "in the LEE of". I would love to HOP IN, SNAP ON and COZY UP for a ride on his boat.

Al Jolson 2:57 PM  

Toot Toot Tootsie goodbye
Toot Toot Tootsie, don't cry
That little choo-choo train
That takes me
Away from you, no words can tell how sad it makes me

ghostoflectricity 3:07 PM  

Somebody please explain to me how "SEAMS" are "BEE LINES." Does this have to do with knitting bees? The only far-fetched explanation is that knitting bees sometimes involve knitting clothes, and clothes sometimes have seams. My response to that is- ???? Somebody PLEASE explain- I'm scratching my head. Otherwise, this, for me, takes the prize for terrible cluing.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

Yuval Noah Harari was a gimme, it was sitting on my bookshelf as I did the puzzle though so grain of salt

Joe Dipinto 3:27 PM  

Where are they getting the idea that you shouldn't write SOS in big letters to be rescued? I find nothing online saying you shouldn't; I find pages saying it's what you *should* do. Some also suggest making a V or X or some other kind of geometric shape.

Has anyone heard this before?

Blog Goliard 3:30 PM  

I didn’t know about the X or V thing…but I was taught a valuable lesson once by The Far Side about what can happen if you get too ambitious and try to spell out a word as big as HELP.

(The least sketchy link to the panel that I can find offhand is this one, an old Far Side greeting card for sale on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Far-Side-BIRTHDAY-Greeting-Envelope/dp/B07KNCL1YM)

David from CA 3:45 PM  

"BEE" = Quilting gathering I believe.

Is ARENAS correct in some universe? I can't justify that trailing S in any reading of the clue. Would a fight extend over multiple arenas?

Gary Jugert 3:45 PM  

Barbara S. 8:48 AM
And your winner is... #1! Love it.

Whatsername 4:00 PM  

@JonB3 (1:22) That was my first thought when I saw TRUE DAT - the Saints and their CODE chant - Who Dat?

Re the SEAMS clue, I took it as referring to quilts - as in quilting bees which I'm old enough to remember from my childhood. My grandmother's Ladies' Aid Society met once a month to stitch away and gossip while sitting around a hand-pieced quilt stretched over a wooden frame, needles, thimbles and rumors flying. They'd stop long enough for a potluck lunch and go right back to their work until mid afternoon when it was time to head home and make supper. I still have one of her quilts and several made by my mother. Every stitch was placed by a single needle and thread and let me tell you, they are works of art. Irreplaceable works of art.

These days quilters use machines and gather at COZY little INNs uniquely designed for them and specially tailored to their hobby. They're set up like a bed & breakfast where the guests can stay for days and sew or shop or just relax without husbands, kids or meals to worry about. I don't know whether they still call that a "bee" or not but it sounds like a pretty sweet setup to me.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

You have a big picture. But what is that thing in the distance? ZOOM LENS. It helps you "see" the big picture by zooming in to understand a difficult-to-see detail.

Helping Hand 4:35 PM  

@Anoa. & @ghostoflectricity. Please see @jazzmanchgo 2:36 Also, see @several others.

J.W. 4:35 PM  

I'm still in mild shock that I got YUVAL NOAH HARARI right on the first pass without knowing that book or author. It's a testament to the smoothness of almost everything else around it, though OBERON did give me the business for a minute until I just went for it. It's dangerous to toss in a name that has 15 potential Natick lanes, but trust—not just in the crossing downs but the adjacent acrosses as well—is crucial. I was even more shocked to stumble ass over teakettle into a PB. I credit all the long answers that weren't the aforementioned. Got most of them with only one or two letters.

Answers like ZOOM LENS are so wild to me, because I come here and everyone has broken down how it doesn't make sense, and I agree once I see it (though I think okanaganer's explanation for why it does work trumps all of them), but I never notice it while I'm doing the puzzle. Same thing happened with DIAMOND WEDDING the other day. I just pop it in and I'm like, yep, makes sense, checks out, moving on. But really it doesn't. But also it somehow does! The brain, man.

For a second I got RAE Sremmurd and thought "oh yeah, that rap duo that was in Chappie," until I realized I was thinking of Die Antwoord, which is not anything backwards that I'm aware of. Speaking of which, I would say Rae Sremmurd isn't "ear drummers" backward but rather "drummer's ear." Seems like it should be a condition along the lines of like swimmer's ear or tennis elbow, but no dice.

The Joker 4:38 PM  

I was hoping for a bigger ALEE kerfuffle today but ZOOM LENS stole the show.

Unknown 4:43 PM  

I’m a huge Yuval Noah Harari fan, read all his books, I know Rae Sremmurd and I love Godfather too - all to say it enabled me to finish today’s Friday in a personal record 9:40. You’re right, if you didn’t know those, it would have been a slog!

Nancy 4:49 PM  

@Barbara S -- And I chuckled mightily over Usain's faster little brother, SILOS.

Gary Jugert 5:42 PM  

@Barbara S. 12:34 PM
It's really fun when we both tackle the same one. So far you've had quite different clues from mine. Different clues but same solution seems to be the heart of crosswording. It's also crazy how sometimes I fiddle with one and fail and you come through with a gem. It's a fun collaborative game.

Airymom 5:51 PM  

My daughter and I drove to my son's for Thanksgiving. They were both in the middle of reading "I'm Glad My Mom Died."

They both said it was a great book, but I couldn't sleep Wednesday night.

Bob Mills 5:55 PM  

For Ghostoflectricity: Yes, the cluing has become designed to be "SUPER CUTE," not necessarily accurate or reasonable. We're forced to live with it.

dgd 6:08 PM  

It was not a gimme for me but my brother just yesterday told me he was reading it and liked it. I neglected to ask the author's name so that was no help!

Gary Jugert 6:24 PM  

@Nancy 1:39 PM
Hahaha! Nancy! CHOWMEIN ARENAS. How did I miss that. So wonderful... although it would have eliminated the need for the first season episode of Seinfeld where they're waiting for a table the entire episode.

Weezie 6:27 PM  

Oooh glad to be able to weigh in belatedly on the nit re: BEE LINE. As a quilter, while a quilting bee is definitely a known term, a BEE LINE is not, as far as I know. The only "line" we use in sewing is to describe the line of a garment, which isn't really about a seam, but the shape of it and how it lays on the body (ie, A-line skirt). You don't use "lines" to describe a quilt generally because it's a 2 dimensional piece. There are a lot of fun terms specific to quilting - "quilt sandwich," "stitch in the ditch," "piecing," "flying geese," but BEE LINE ain't one, imo.

And @Whatsername - yes! There are two quilt shops run by a grandmother/mother/daughter trio up here in the Catskills and one of them also has a quilting retreat space, though I don't see the word bee listed anywhere. If I had more than one friend who quilted, I might look into it.

Gary Jugert 6:31 PM  

@ghostoflectricity 3:07 PM
Sewing Bee.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

Referencing zoom lens, as was said above, crossword clues are very often not definitions. They are hints. Also, there is a question mark, which is a clear warning there is a trick involved. You see something in the distance, you look through a zoom lens and it appears bigger. Makes perfect sense to me.
Also, the clue said groundS for a fight, which is the tip-off that a plural answer is required. It is another deliberately tricky clue, but that is quite common in late week puzzles.

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

But doesn't the question mark warn there is a trick? I don't think zoom lens is "wrong". It does make something appear bigger after all.

TTrimble 7:26 PM  

Rex pretty much captured my own feeling about the puzzle. I wonder if the constructor built the puzzle just so he could deploy that impressively long name as a 15-er.

I've said TRUE DAT in conversation, but certainly with a tinge of irony.

I paused over TARTS for a while, because when I think of "wares", food is not my immediate go-to.

SB: 0 yd, same last word as @okanaganer and @Barbara S. I'll look it up, but what is that?! <-- an interrobang, as I learned from Jeopardy! last night. dbyd -- nertz, I forgot to get back to it before the day was over; I think I was -5, but I wouldn't have completed it even if I hadn't forgotten, that I'm pretty sure of.

dgd 7:35 PM  

I think no one objected to "true dat" because it became popular slang or better yet a catch phrase among young people in general, ( someone said it was popularized by the Wire).

Anoa Bob 7:43 PM  

@weezie, thanks for jogging some long ago memories. Many of the women in our community of mostly farmers were quilters. I've definitely heard of quilting bees but never heard anyone use "lines" to refer to quilting work, so "Bee lines?" as the clue for SEAMS didn't work very well for me. I'm a seamster* and own a sewing machine that I use to do canvas and sail cloth work on my sailboat and I wouldn't call the seams I make "lines". But I can see how someone not familiar with quilting or sewing would think of SEAMS and hems and such as "lines".

*A friend did some good natured ribbing when he found out I had a sewing machine. He ask me "What do you call a man (emphasis on "man") who sews?" I said "a seamster". End of that conversation!
I was surprised to see that "seamster" gets a red underline. I went back and put in "seamstress" and autocorrect is fine with that. Autocorrect is sexist, am I right?

CWT 7:48 PM  

Absolutely agree with you about “True Dat.” I know it mainly from watching “Treme” some years ago. Typically used by Black New Orleans characters. And to me it seems both pretentious and a little insulting when white people appropriate it. Makes me uncomfortable, let’s say. Only one step away from Uncle Remus.

rjb 7:58 PM  

Ugh, city folk! Grain is not stored in a "silo". Silage is stored in a silo. Grain is stored in a granary.

Nancy 8:32 PM  

Thanks, Gary. I loved that Seinfeld episode! And a CHOWMEIN ARENA in the immediate nabe would have served that supercilious maitre'd right.

Blue Stater 8:39 PM  

I was relieved to read OFL's write-up; I had the identical experience. Yuval what's-his-face was so far off the wall it was in the next county. Can't imagine what prompted WS to publish this junk.

Cliff 12:33 AM  

Having recently finished HOMO DEUS, and having read three Harari titles (including, of course, SAPIENS) I knew his name and typed it with only a cross or two in place. A little surprised that so many here did not know this author. His books consistently rise high in the NYTimes best sellers. Easiest answer in the entire puzzle for me. And, partly due to that fact, this was probably my fastest Friday ever.

anonymous 11:27 AM  

Agree that Yuval et al. was unfair tho I got it with the crosses and also don’t approve of crossing proper names, but Tom Hagen is a major character in both Godfather 1 and 2 which are generally considered two of the greatest American movies ever made. Didn’t seem obscure to me (although my attitude to Rae Smemmard was “who dat?).

Milwaukee Talkie 5:42 PM  

Sure, they could've clued it as "Issa" or "Charlotte", but that's too easy for Friday.
As soon as you see that it's "drummers" backwards, you can expect a backwards answer. This makes RAE more likely than ROE.

spacecraft 10:17 AM  

Scary thought: I could have almost word-for-word copied OFF's comment as my own. Even in the south, though, it wasn't that hard to do all the downs. What this puzzle is doing in a Friday slot is a mystery to me. At best it's a Tuesday. I even knew DOD Merle Oberon!

I don't have any quarrel with this one, but it's hard to fix a score to an offering that's so out of place. I guess birdie.

Going into my third Wordle stroke I had two choices: a war word and a peace word. I picked war, so I deserve my par.

Burma Shave 12:20 PM  


BABY you're a PRO, SOAMI to SEE


and today:


it's TRUEDAT you can CAROUSE AND go,
if you OPT TO give A TOOTSIE A ROLL.


Diana, LIW 12:24 PM  

Yup. There was at least one name I didn't know. TRUDAT. GETIT?

Unlike OFL, I don't mind admitting to what I don't know. Sheesh!

But with crosses firmly in place, I did complete this (Friday?) puzzle.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 1:28 PM  

I won't ARGUE with OFL's take on this. A couple small write-overs, no big deal.PEST PETS STEP in the corners.
Wordle bogey after third try at GGBGG.

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