Focus of some modern ethical debates / FRI 10-13-23 / Rock subgenre named for its aggressive vocals / Runner with vestigial wings / Commercial follower of Mc- or Nes- / Where the Tokugawa shogunate was established / Hit 2011 film based on a 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett / Foe of Ferocious Flea in Hanna-Barbera cartoons / World capital where it's illegal to display the Soviet hammer and sickle

Friday, October 13, 2023

Constructor: John-Clark Levin

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: CHATGPT (34A: Focus of some modern ethical debates) —

ChatGPT, which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is a large language model-based chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched on November 30, 2022, which enables users to refine and steer a conversation towards a desired length, format, style, level of detail, and language. Successive prompts and replies, known as prompt engineering, are considered at each conversation stage as a context.

ChatGPT is built upon either GPT-3.5 or GPT-4—members of OpenAI's proprietary series of generative pre-trained transformer (GPT) models, based on the transformer architecture developed by Google—and is fine-tuned for conversational applications using a combination of supervised and reinforcement learning techniques. ChatGPT was released as a freely available research preview, but due to its popularity, OpenAI now operates the service on a freemium model. It allows users on its free tier to access the GPT-3.5-based version. In contrast, the more advanced GPT-4 based version and priority access to newer features are provided to paid subscribers under the commercial name "ChatGPT Plus".

By January 2023, it had become what was then the fastest-growing consumer software application in history, gaining over 100 million users and contributing to OpenAI's valuation growing to $29 billion. Within months, Google, Baidu, and Meta accelerated the development of their competing products: BardErnie Bot, and LLaMA. Microsoft launched its Bing Chat based on OpenAI's GPT-4. It raised concern among some observers over the potential of ChatGPT and similar programs to displace or atrophy human intelligence, enable plagiarism, or fuel misinformation.

• • •

One look at the grid and I got kinda depressed. Super boxy, with chunky corners accessible only by one-letter-wide entryways, and only a half dozen or so longish answers. Basically screams No Fun. Weird black-square configurations—or, rather, highly unweird black-square configurations, in that the black squares appear exclusively in three-square blocks, so that the grid looks like a Tetris game that only has one type of piece to throw at you. And then the opening clue (once I finally figured it out) ended up being so sad and useless and off-the-mark that ... well, it fit my feelings about the grid: No Fun. MATCHES are getting lit at a party??? (1A: Ones getting lit at a party, maybe). What are you talking about? Candles get lit at parties. Joints get lit at parties. Tiki torches get lit at parties. MATCHES are a means for lighting things. Who goes to a party and thinks, "Things are getting a little dull, let's light MATCHES!"? Pyromaniacs? Save your cutesy, half-naughty "getting lit"* pun for something that *stays burning* and more importantly, don't use "party" if, after solving, I still have no idea what kind of "party" you have in mind. It's really the "party" part here that's irking me. The connection between MATCHES and "party" is beyond tenuous. Yes, I can imagine MATCHES at a party, but I gotta develop a whole plotline in order to make it make sense. Come on. 

This grid doesn't have nearly enough marquee answers, and most of what it has is pretty VANILLAVANILLA being actually one of the more exciting answers in this grid. Sincerely, I think "HERE I GO!" was the only answer that seemed vibrant and made me think "good one." Further, the grid is loaded with unpleasantness. White-savior narratives like THE HELP (I'd rather read American Psycho), or toilets (PORT-A-POTTIES), or CHATGPT, which is kinda like a reverse toilet, in that it gives you shit rather than disposes of it. If you work in education, you know how terrible CHATGPT has been for, well, everything. Plagiarism is not the problem (or only part of it). That bot spews out paragraph-shaped paragraphs, essay-shaped essays, poem-shaped poems, things that have the external appearance of writing, but that are clearly not writing, in that there is no plausible human voice there—no curiosity, no imagination, no rough edges, just a kind of bland uncanny-valley voice cobbled together from the millions of actual human voices from which it's stealing. Truly like the alien that is trying to learn to be human. We have been trained to accept this voice as normal by every ATM or customer service phone robot we've interacted with going back decades. CHATGPT returns results that are often shockingly devoid of content, but they look the part, they sound like they're saying something, and students aren't yet good enough writers to know how to shape anything CHATGPT gives them into useful form, into their own voice, so the results (where student papers are concerned) are usually vapidity, but worse than normal human vapidity. Machine-made vapidity. And if you're using it for "research," it's worse. I would say "go see for yourself," but the Catch-22 here, of course, is that every interaction you have with it merely trains it to be more fraudulent. People think it's "fun" to make the chatbot write recipes in the style of Dr. Seuss or whatever, but every inch of generative A.I. is killing human communication, and thus human community. The Luddites look smarter and more prescient every day.

Had no idea about the NW at first so had to start in the NE with SARA Gilbert (10D: Emmy-nominated Gilbert) and SCREAMO (18A: Rock subgenre named for its aggressive vocals) as my first foothold in the grid (I got TEN and ELLIS in the NW, but they were no help). I kinda like SCREAMO sitting atop VOICE TEACHER. Are there SCREAMO VOICE TEACHERs? Seems pretty niche, but also pretty cool. I think a polka dot-painted house would be pretty rad, so the EYESORE clue doesn't track for me at all (41A: House painted with polka dots, you might say). Also not tracking: HELOS (5D: Choppers). HE-LOL, what? You mean 'copters, maybe? This is a Shortz-era debut, probably because no one says it. It got used once in 1970, and otherwise has never appeared in any grid since Margaret Farrar was putting them together. No singular HELO in the Shortz era either (five in the pre-Shortz). I can only hear HELOS in this very cinematically-specific voice (Walter Brennan at his most Walter Brennany):

I think I'm done now. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*to "get lit" is to get wasted / drunk / intoxicated in one form or another, which definitely happens at parties. Whether there are MATCHES at these parties, who can say?

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:08 AM  

Rex obviously doesn't watch any military movies re: helos.

Conrad 6:29 AM  

1A: cAndlES before MATCHES
4D: thymE before CHIVE
5D: teeth before HELOS
27D: Read "Paramount+" instead of "Paramount" and had SCREENname
37D: gEEkS before TEENS

SCREAMO (18A) was a WOE

kitshef 6:40 AM  

Really wanted something like 'tiki torches' at 1A, so when the ___c_es came in "of course" it was 'torches'.

I really liked the clue for MERMAID.

I also really liked the OBAMA quote.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

I had a completely different experience. This was a fun Friday for me, slightly easy due to a bunch of gimme clues for short fill, but the grid was clean and cool, crosswordese was kept under control, and there were pleasing answers (RUBICON) and some clever clues (MERMAID). And yes CHATGPT is incredibly disruptive and polarizing, but also astonishing and it certainly matches the clue.

SouthsideJohnny 7:04 AM  

It is normally difficult for me to move around the grid on weekends, and a grid like today’s (with the limited entrances) makes it near (nearly?) impossible. So I try to solve each section as a super-hard mini-puzzle. Had enough success (especially in the south) that I can say I enjoyed it (I thought the clue for PORTAPOTTIES was killer as well).

It appears as though at the NYT, like at any good restaurant, nothing goes to waste - so apparently they had some gibberish leftover from yesterday’s alphabet stew and instead of just throwing it in the garbage, they found a use for it (looking at you, EDO).

Do they still make the “easy clue” versions of the Friday puzzle - if so, does anyone know how EDO was clued?

DeeJay 7:35 AM  

I liked this one a lot. Moved around easily which some pauses. Liked the misdirection on PORTAPOTTIES.

Son Volt 7:38 AM  

Liked this more than the big guy. Yeah the grid was a little choppy and there was some unfortunate fill - but I had fun with it. I’ll second liking SCREAMO atop VOICE COACH and I thought SPACE CADET was neat.

ATOM ANT used to show up on Yogi Bear occasionally. RUBICON x ARBOR is solid. ON AND ON will always be 70s syrup. The zeal of the people eating at the COSTCO food court always amazes me - in a bad way. Side eye to ANECDOTES crossing DOTES.

Pleasant Friday morning solve.

Song of the Siren

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

DOTE crossing ANECDOTES seems like an editing failure to me...

andrew 7:50 AM  

My favorite part of solving is the afterglow - reading how easily lit Rex gets.

You know where MATCHES should be lit? in PORTAPOTTIES. To try in vain to mask the STENCH (no, that’s not an answer - but thinking of those gross little outhouses makes me SCREAMO ALL CAPS).

Sorry that this post isn’t better - got it off CHATGPT.

A fun way to kick off Friday the 13th!

bocamp 7:56 AM  

Thx, John-Clark; perfect Fri. offering! 😊

Med (altho, felt somewhat tougher).

The NW yielded AHA, and maybe TEN, but I can never remember who's on what bill; so, had to come back at the end to get VOICE, which in turn, gave me CHIVE, which led to MATCHES, and Bob was my uncle!

Good to see my buddy, CHATGPT. What a valuable resource it's turned out to be for me, but I think AI, in general, needs to be regulated (not sure if that's the right word) wisely.

Anyhoo, great fun on this one; liked it muchly! :)

@sanfranman59 (7:26 PM yd)

Thx for that. :) At least I was in the ballpark re: top vs middle or bottom. lol
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness, Freudenfreude & a DAP to all πŸ‘Š πŸ™

Lewis 7:58 AM  

I like looking at grid designs (yes, I’m a crossnerd), and a place I love to go is XwordInfo’s “Unusual symmetry and asymmetry” page, a gallery of NYT grids bursting with creativity.

Two thoughts, prompted by John-Clark’s grid today, a lovely stark design consisting solely of three-black-square lines:

First, for comparison, there’s another puzzle that has used the same three-black-square-line motif, but with a markedly different design – 12/21/01 (another Friday). And second, this gives me an excuse to tout one of my favorite grid designs of all time, the 6/18/16 puzzle by Todd Gross. It’s not black lines, but it is a repetition of black shapes, and the feeling it evokes, IMO, is one of floating. Worth a look, I believe, in the archives.

Lovely-to-me words in the grid today are MOSAICS, SCREAMO, RUBICON, HEREIGO, SNARL, and PERIL, which enriched a solve that had several splat fills, which always feel good, not to mention stutters and blips – delicious resistance spots – which always feel good as well. Lovely junk-free grid in addition.

Thank you for the care you put into the look of this puzzle, John-Clark, and for a splendid outing today!

Eater of Sole 8:01 AM  

I had a similar grid rejected by NYT for basically the reason(s) that RP complains about in his opening few sentences. That irks me a bit.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Birthday party.
Matches to light candles.
Have a nice day.

Dr.A 8:12 AM  

HELO was my last answer and Whaaaa? Never ever heard of that. There are Helipads on hospital roofs so I thought maybe HELI but that didn’t work at all. Go it but wasn’t happy about it. That O was the last box in my puzzle.

David Grenier 8:29 AM  

I really liked this one. A bit harder (for me) than a normal Friday but pretty much nothing “unfair” (obscure proper nouns or croswordese you have no way of knowing). I guess ASAHI, maybe.

The misdirects were really good misdirects, the type that took some puzzling but felt really rewarding when you get them. I especially liked MERMAID I struggled with “festival lineups” for a while and when I finally got it I literally laughed out loud at my phone by myself. I agree with Rex on MATCHES but otherwise spot on.

pabloinnh 8:36 AM  

I always love it when a perfectly cromulent (hi @Z) answer like CHATGPT inspires a Rexrant, and today's was a classic. As a retired foreign language teacher, I appreciate his frustration with AI-generated answers, as I retired just as translation programs were rearing their ugly heads. Most language teachers I know now have to do assessments with the "in-class put away your phones rule". I can remember asking more than one second year Spanish student something like "Nice little paragraph. When did we learn the Imperfect Subjunctive?"

I never spell ASAHI right on the first try and definite side eye to HELOS. I have had two choral directors who were also excellent VOICETEACHERS but somehow we managed to avoid SCREAMO, for which I am grateful.

I have read somewhere that COSTCO hot dogs are surprisingly tasty and wonderfully cheap.

@Southside-EDO falls in the "old friends" category for me. Used to be clued as something like "former name of Japan".

Thought this was a solid Friday with just the right amount of pushback. Well done, JCL. A Junkless Crossword Loaded with neat stuff, and thanks for all the fun.

egsforbreakfast 8:46 AM  

One of the great shocks of my life was seeing my shy 18 year old son perform as the lead singer in a SCREAMO band. Rosemary’s Baby x 100. SCREAMO on top of VOICETEACHER is good, but so is INSTALLS on PORTAPOTTIES. Now where did they put the BIDET?

Where’s that SPACECADET? He’s gone ADASTRA!

Getting lit with MATCHES doesn’t substitute for booze or dope ASAHI.

This was so much easier than yesterday’s. I liked a lot of the cluing. Thanks, John-Clark Levin.

jberg 8:49 AM  

Yeah, I put in cAndlES, confirmed by three crosses. Fortunately, the potato herb had to be CHIVE (a word I have never before seen as a singular noun, but it still had to be). So I got it eventually.

That experience made me lose a little confidence, so I hesitated at VOICE TEACHER, but then decided to go ahead, and the rest of the puzzle was a delight, despite that junkyard dog that kept popping up.

Now I want to go back to old EDO and have some SASHIMI.

@southside, the easy clue is "Tokyo, once." Just memorize it.

Dakota 8:49 AM  

Small nit with Rex's assessment: in both Iraq and Afghanistan, everyone says "helo" (pronounced hee-low, not like hello) for helicopter. And we all laugh at the rare idiots who call them "choppers."

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

This Luddite thanks you for the nod, Rex.

-Maybe yesterday's Dumpster fire dulled my critical sense, but I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit. TIL that COSTCO sells a lot of hot dogs, and not the ones in the Meat section--the ones near the picnic tables. That would be a stunning stat were it not for the fact that a hot dog at an MLB ballpark--at least the one I go to--costs about the same as three gallons of gas. Very much liked the clues for VOICE TEACHER and PORT-A-POTTIES and REFEREE.

JD 8:54 AM  

@Rex, Thanks for listing all the ways Matches get lit at parties. Great clue.

Here's a fascinating link Google popped up, 11 Fascinating Portable Toilet Facts. I Loathe them. Here's one of those fascinating facts, "Portable Toilets Have Many Different Names." One was Porta-loo. @Rex, you missed the opportunity to provide some really, fresh information.

The law firm of Atomant, Hereigo, & Tieitup, LLP. Heroic work, fast, tight resolution.

mmorgan 8:57 AM  

The puzzle was fine, and Rex’s write-up was a gem, except he stopped too soon.

RooMonster 9:22 AM  

Hey All !
Got everything slowly, got plum stuck in NW, when to good ole Goog to look up ELLIS. Then finished. Ah, well.

I think the grid is neat looking, myself. Only 33 Blockers, placed pleasingly to the EYE.

Having ANECD starting 11D was a "wha?" Thought something there was amiss.

Re: CHATGPT and A.I. in general, I've said it before, once A.I. becomes self aware, humans are done. It'll be Terminator time. Just sayin'.

Decent puz that burned some precious few remaining brain cells. Time to GIT.

Hope y'all have a good Friday.

One F

mmorgan 9:41 AM  

I asked Google Bard to review today’s puzzle. It certainly confirms Rex’s take on ChatGPT. To wit:

The New York Times crossword puzzle of October 13, 2023 by John-Clark Levin is a fun and challenging puzzle with a variety of interesting fill. The grid features an unusual pattern, with 18 7-letter entries stacked in threes, plus some longer answers in the mix.

Some of the highlights of the puzzle include:

* **MOSAICS**, a colorful and evocative answer for a clue about subway art
* **THEHELP**, a popular and critically acclaimed novel and film
* **SCREAMO**, a rock subgenre known for its aggressive vocals
* **CHATGPT**, a large language model that is the subject of much ethical debate
* **PORTA-POTTIES**, a surprisingly fun clue for a music festival lineup
* **SPACE CADET**, a fitting answer for a clue about someone who is scatterbrained

The puzzle also includes a number of clever clues, such as:

* **[What a bore!]** (SNORE)
* **[Where the Tokugawa shogunate was established]** (EDO)
* **[Junkyard warning]** (SNARL)
* **[European hotel amenity]** (BIDET)

Overall, the New York Times crossword puzzle of October 13, 2023 is a well-crafted and enjoyable puzzle that is sure to challenge and delight solvers of all skill levels.

Here are a few minor nitpicks:

* The clue for **HELOS** (Choppers) is a bit vague, as the word "choppers" can also refer to motorcycles.
* The clue for **ANECDOTES** (Some speech starters) is a bit too broad, as there are many other things that can start a speech, such as questions, greetings, and introductions.
* The clue for **IDAHO** (Napoleon Dynamite setting) is a bit too easy, as the film is very popular and well-known.

Overall, however, these are just minor quibbles and the puzzle is still a lot of fun. I would highly recommend it to any crossword fan.

Gary Jugert 10:06 AM  

Engaging puzzle kept me busy. I'm rarely enthused by a themeless, but this one was nice. Love SNARL and GROWL.

One slice of Costco cheese pizza is the closest thing to heaven on Earth. Sometimes I go there just for that.

Tee-Hee: BIDET and PORTAPOTTIES to help with all the ASS we got yesterday.

Hey, this is the one-year anniversary of @Lewis's SKIP TOWN puzzle.


1 Barry Manilow on 11.
2 One who judges the wet and topless.
3 Me at the beach.
4 Braces
5 Reluctant dominatrix's inner monolog.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: Where I intend to spend my later years. PROVOLONE SILOS.


puzzlehoarder 10:18 AM  

It's hard for me to say how close this puzzle was to being easy. It felt easy while I was doing it but then I put in TEEN as the final entry and didn't get the congrats. It took me a long time to spot ZARA and change it to SARA and by then it was a solidly medium time.

That Z really looked correct to me because it sounded so right. A Gilbert Zara is as good as Sara Gilbert as I've never heard of her and have no idea what she's famous for.

I can't really put this one in the "dub" column thanks to that gaff but I'm so much more involved with the SB it makes little difference. A nice thing about the SB is if they don't take a word the way you think it's spelled you just change the letters until it sticks and it never feels like cheating.

Su-Th -0

bocamp 10:19 AM  

CHATGPT's response to @Rex's comment:

"Rex Parker's take on ChatGPT is certainly an interesting perspective, and it raises important questions about the impact of AI like ChatGPT on various aspects of society, including education and communication. While I don't possess personal opinions or feelings, I can provide some insights into these concerns.

Lack of Authenticity: The issue of AI-generated content often lacking the authenticity, creativity, and human voice is a valid concern. AI can generate text that appears coherent and contextually relevant, but it may not truly understand or reflect human emotion, perspective, or nuance. This can be especially problematic in creative writing or when seeking original, insightful content.

Education and Plagiarism: In educational settings, AI-generated content can indeed pose challenges. It's important to teach students critical thinking, writing, and research skills, rather than relying on AI as a shortcut. The concern about plagiarism is not limited to AI; it extends to any technology that can be misused for academic dishonesty.

Impact on Communication: The worry that AI-generated content, including chatbots and virtual assistants, might contribute to the erosion of human communication is valid. There's a fine line between using AI as a tool to enhance communication and overreliance on it to the detriment of genuine human interactions.

Ethical Considerations: The ethical implications of AI in various contexts are substantial. Ensuring that AI is used responsibly and that users are aware of AI's role in generating content is an ongoing challenge.

It's clear that AI, including ChatGPT, presents a complex set of challenges and opportunities. While it can assist in various tasks, its impact on human creativity, communication, and the quality of content generated is an evolving subject of discussion. It highlights the importance of continued ethical, educational, and societal discussions on the role of AI in our lives." (ChatGPT)
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness, Freudenfreude & a DAP to all πŸ‘Š πŸ™

Gary Jugert 10:23 AM  

That ChatGPT is gonna make everyone stupid. When robots rise up and take over I'm sure they'll be much worse at taking care of this planet than the human species. And, those digital calculators are gonna make everyone forget how to do math. When they stop teaching cursive and typing, kids won't know how to count back change like dummies. And who needs a damn gasoline powered death trap when this horse and buggy is perfectly fine. My lawn!

Beezer 10:29 AM  

After finishing the puzzle as per usual I read @Rex. Today I thought…wow, our brains are REALLY wired differently because I REALLY do hope that I never look at an empty crossword grid and experience depression!
Count me in the camp that very much enjoyed this puzzle in spite of my hang ups in the NW with cAndlES and HELOS. Yeah, I guess I haven’t watched enough military movies (@anon 6:08) but I didn’t get upset with MATCHES getting lit once I figured out THEHELP and CHIVE. Like @kitshef, I really liked the OBAMA quote. I had NEVER heard/seen it but knew the answer immediately because his patience at trying to explain complicated issues was in such stark contrast to his successor.

Have you ever just TOTALLY misread a clue to the point where you go back and are astounded? Today I read “subway art” as “street art” and as my downs revealed MOSAICS I thought…”I have NEVER seen street art use MOSAICS”! (I obvio wanted “murals” which didn’t fit)

Thanks for the fun J-CL!

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I initially had winsome for a house with polka dots, so I beg to differ with it being an eyesore.

pabloinnh 10:37 AM  

@jberg-Right you are about EDO referring to Tokyo. As with many old friends, not remembered as well as I wish they were.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  


"...chunky corners accessible only by one-letter-wide entryways" what does that mean?

jae 11:01 AM  

Medium but it felt tougher. SCREAMO was it for WOES, but I had quite a few erasures...tHyme before CHIVE, MOre before MOST, oHo before AHA, teeth before HELOS, Hot before HIT...

Pretty solid and very smooth with a wee bit of sparkle, liked it more than @Rex did except for MATCHES where I completely agree with him.

Whatsername 11:12 AM  

A very Friday worthy puzzle that made me work a bit but I got there. I’m probably not the only one who confidently entered CANDLES at 1A and have to agree with Rex‘s philosophy about MATCHES. Yeah I have some on hand for emergencies but for candles or the fireplace or the BBQ grill, I’m using one of those long handled lighters.

I did not know CHAT GPT and that section stumped me the longest but I found Rex's plain language explanation very helpful in understanding the concept. I ONCE served as a judge at a state high school debate contest, and one of the questions was “Has the internet helped or hindered education?” One of the arguments was that the immediate availability of information does not necessarily equate to better education; that learning requires the retention of knowledge, not just the acquisition of it. From what Rex described with his students, I’d say this is a perfect example of that particular point (which I judged as the TIE breaker and awarded the WIN to that side).

Nancy 11:23 AM  

Biggest surprise: PORTAPOTTIES when I was looking for some kind of POp diTTIES. PORTAPOTTIES would be one big reason I don't go to music festivals. A much bigger one is ear-splitting amplification. Which bring me to SCREAMO -- another thing I imagine you sometimes find at music festivals and another good reason to avoid them. Oh the things that pass for "music" these days...

I did especially like the clue/answers for VANILLA; VOICE TEACHER and RUBICON.

What an odd way to clue MERMAIDS.

A polka dot house is an EYESORE? You think? What an odd -- but funny -- way to clue EYESORE.

Two writeovers: SMALL BORE before SMALL TIME. And COSCOS before COSTCO. It looked funny but I didn't pick up the error until I wrote in THEY -- which could have been THEM too. I waited to write in the 4th letter.

Once again, more pop culture than I like, but some good stuff too. I had to work to finish it.

Thomas Crapper 11:23 AM  

Best slogan ever on a truck delivering PORTA-POTTIES in Manhattan: "We're Number One for Number Two".

Nancy 11:24 AM  

Biggest surprise: PORTAPOTTIES when I was looking for some kind of POp diTTIES. PORTAPOTTIES would be one big reason I don't go to music festivals. A much bigger one is ear-splitting amplification. Which bring me to SCREAMO -- another thing I imagine you sometimes find at music festivals and another good reason to avoid them. Oh the things that pass for "music" these days...

I did especially like the clue/answers for VANILLA; VOICE TEACHER and RUBICON.

What an odd way to clue MERMAIDS.

A polka dot house is an EYESORE? You think? What an odd -- but funny -- way to clue EYESORE.

Two writeovers: SMALL BORE before SMALL TIME. And COSCOS before COSTCO. It looked funny but I didn't pick up the error until I wrote in THEY -- which could have been THEM too. I waited to write in the 4th letter.

Once again, more pop culture than I like, but some good stuff too. I had to work to finish it.

GILL I. 11:34 AM  

Ay, @Rex....Today we didn't partner well in our dance routine. My thoughts upon completion..."Now we're talking".... after yesterday's dyspepsia. My favorite day (Friday) brought on a lot of smiles....
SCREAMO. Where have you been all of my life? You could teach the HELOS, ATOMANT and MATCHES of this world that you are really real and exist. To hell with A.I.
Speaking of.....
CHATGPT was new to me. Thanks for the read, @Rex. So students feel smart when they let a robot write an essay for them? The closest I came to that was lifting a whole chapter from some old book about something old. It was for my Ancient History class. I got caught red-handed! The rest of the screed was mine, but my smart TEACHER circled my double-dealings and said (basically) YOU CHEATED. Well, not exactly in those words, but she said that I'd better remember to use quotes and cite my source than to just change a letter hither and yon and pawn it off as mine. Is that was A.I. can do? I'll get on CHATGPT and ask.
RUBICON....Wasn't it Julius Caesar that crossed it? I'm beginning to worry that I remember so many old things. you agree?
BIDET. Every single household should have one. They became popular (finally) during the epidemic when toilet paper cost more than your mortgage payment and all people wanted was to clean their fondillo. They're quite fancy now....Hot/cold jets and it will sing for you while you do your deed.
So this is why I really enjoyed this puzzle. No cheats today and lots of fun remembering things and thinking about a COSTCO hot dog and eating the SASHIMI that was on sale (and quite delicious) and remembering PONG and thinking about cheating in High School and remembering how to spell ASAHI.
I'm betting Saturday will kill me.

Carola 11:35 AM  

@Rex's take really surprised me - I'd put this one in the "This is why I do crosswords" category, just right for a Friday in difficulty and fun. That started with SCREAMO over VOICE TEACHER and went on with OBSESSED v. DOTE (probably depends on one's point of view), the soaring AD ASTRA next to the downer (IMO) of GHAT GPT, the similar meaning os the ancient RUBICON and the modern HERE I GO, and the surprises of MERMAID and PORTAPOTTIES. Lovely Friday.

jb129 11:40 AM  

It took me a while to get into the constructor's head but once I did I liked it a lot even though PORTAPOTTIES really threw me (never would've thought of that at a music festival although it makes perfect sense). I also liked OBSESSED for all in, in a way.

Thank you John-Clark for a intriguing & doable Friday!

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Finished in the NW. Had Thyme instead of Chive which held me up a bit. Other than that, thought the puzzle was fine other than being too easy for a Friday. Love TMBG.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Today I learned that Rex has never been to a birthday party.

Joe Dipinto 12:59 PM  

@bocamp – 400 words of SNORE. It doesn't "provide insights" into a single thing.

Ethan Taliesin 1:19 PM  

Yesterday was brutal (I lost patience and ended up cheating to fill in some), but this played to me almost like a Tuesday. I was expecting Rex to rate this as very easy.

Anoa Bob 1:35 PM  

I lived in Tokyo for a year and a half but never knew that its former name was EDO. I learned that later from crossword puzzles.

I only had SASHIMI once (and that was in Okinawa). It's truly raw fish. We chose our meal from an aquarium of live fish. It's kind of risky because of potential parasites in the fish flesh. Sushi, though not cooked, is at least kept at a low temperature near freezing for a week or more to kill off any parasites. I didn't care for ASAHI beer. My favorite was Sapporo.

I got RUBICON right away from remembering the account of Julius Caesar crossing that river to start a civil war and become dictator. It was a fateful decision and after he made it he said alea iacta est (the die is cast). The "die" here being a mold into which molten metal is poured that, after cooling, becomes a 56A "Point of no return" (not one of a pair of gambling dice). Went to cousin wiki to refresh my memory here but not to CHATGPT.

The POC (plural of convenience) Committee didn't go total OBSESSED ENRAGED SCREAMO on this one but did note that several entries needed some letter count boosting to get their jobs done, to wit, MATCH, MOSAIC, HELO, ANECDOTE, TEEN, INSTALL and PORTAPOTTY. The grid flirted with but fell short of a POC Assisted rating.

okanaganer 1:45 PM  

Well Rex, for several days I agreed with you; today I have to differ and say it was enjoyable with just a good amount of tough. I get your point about the bottlenecks even if they didn't really bother me. And your rant about ChatGPT is pretty much spot on.

Typeovers: hands up for CANDLES, and for "choppers" had TEETH before HELOS. But the best one was having EYE PORN for the polka dot house. On my walk home from where I used to work there is an old house with a shingled front gable; the owners had painted each shingle a different color: either orange, blue, or yellow. It actually looked great!

I once watched a documentary where they tried to figure out where the RUBICON was when Julius Caesar crossed it. They eventually located a quite underwhelming little creek that might have been it. Bit of an anticlimax.

[Spelling Bee: Thurs 0, my last word this sneaky 4er for the umpteenth time.]

johnk 1:57 PM  

After encountering AYN in my daily glance-solve of the minipuzz, I was looking for some relief, so it was nice to meet up with OBAMA. Never heard of SCREAMO, so my only write-over was the A in IDAHO, as I assumed the subgenre was some variation of EMO.
Despite the negativity today, what with EYESORE, LOATHE, ENRAGED, SNARL and GROWL, I've got my MATCHES and a 6-pack of ASAHI - off to the SASHIMI party!

bocamp 2:19 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (12:59 PM)

It does to me.

ChatGPT has always demonstrated thoughtfulness, caring and respect, as evinced in it's response to @Rex's comments. :)

As for its abilities, it will continue to improve, just as humanity does. 🌟
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness, Freudenfreude & a DAP to all πŸ‘Š πŸ™

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Regarding “HELOS”: they’re always called “helos” in Naval Aviation. Nevertheless, I agree with your other criticisms of this puzzle. Especially MATCHES

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

Someone please explain MERMAID clue. Thank you.

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

Old riddle
You are in a dark room with a candle, a wood stove and a gas lamp. You only have one match, so what do you light first?

The match

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Space cadet was fun and seems like a first. Helo is ridiculous.

Joe Dipinto 5:19 PM  

@anon 3:21 – Because a mermaid has ten fingers and zero toes.

The boys to light up the party are here.

Gary Jugert 5:19 PM  

@Anonymous 3:21 PM
Ten fingers (digits) no toes.

Splash 5:28 PM  

@Anonymous 3:21pm: A mermaid has a tail (no feet/toes) and 10 fingers (digits)

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

Ten fingers and no toes

Anonymous 6:47 PM  

Loved this puzzle too… the clues were fresh and fun. Surprised Rex didn’t like it…I thought this was a good’un!

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

We have a different opinion of what is gibberish.
Perhaps you remember from Elementary School history about the arrival of American ships in Japan in the 1850’s to force the Japanese to trade with us. At that time Tokyo was called Edo.
Edo had already been the de facto capital of Japan for over 2 centuries. Would you say Thebes is gibberish? A much older name no longer in use. Or any number of former names of cities.
Or is it because Edo is Asian and did not arise in the Mediterranean area?

Photomatte 7:04 PM  

Speaking of CHATGPT, I just watched Creator and ****Spoiler Alert**** it also deals with Artificial Intelligence (the opposite, I suppose, of real intelligence). At first it's all like, "yeah, ai is evil!" Then it's all like, "unless the robot looks like a little kid, then it's ok!" The irony of Hollywood writing a pro-ai script at the height of anti-ai labor relations ...

dgd 7:04 PM  

I don’t particularly like it, but Shortz is quite happy with these dupes So it not an oversight by the editors but quite intentional. As someone who has been doing these puzzles for a long time I can verify it happens all the time. As a result I often don’t even notice anymore. This one I did because of the cross at the d.
This is not a fail but an editing style I have to accept if I want to do their puzzles.
Btw Son Volt just before you wasn’t too happy with it either.

dgd 7:40 PM  

Thought Rex was wrong about a lot of his criticisms.
But one criticism no one mentioned is his comment about the Help.
I didn’t see it but my understanding is that it not in any way a white savior movie. Mississippi Burning deserves that criticism but not this movie.
It is much more complicated than that.
Liked the puzzle. Started hard and ended up medium.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

I know the NYT does this all the time, so at least they're consistent, but I really dislike the use of "ones" for inanimate objects. To me "ones" implies something human, or at least alive. So I'd rather see "Items getting lit" than "Ones getting lit," even though I know it's a deliberate misdirection.

Anonymous 9:01 PM  

For your information...
Sara Gilbert was one of the ladies on The View for several years...but is most known for being one of the daughters on the Roseanne sitcom, I role she continues to play in the Spinoff series The Connors, on ABC.

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

I'm an old man of 72...but even I was able to deduce that a series called "Becoming a Popstar" was most likely airing on MTV...which prevented CANDLES from being Lit...and which along with the obvious AHA and TEN immediately following it, made MATCHES easily fall into place.
Just sayin'...

jayme 9:48 PM  

former navy avionics tech here, we absolutely call them helos, and if you call them copters you would be laughed out of the hangarπŸ˜‚

Bob Mills 11:27 AM  

Finished it Saturday morning, after having finished Saturday's puzzle. The NW was hardest area for me on both days.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Me too.

Tail End Charlie 9:41 PM  

Anyone complaining about Edo never heard of the military government of Japan for 250 years called the Edo Shogunate?
It’s like not knowing about the Tudors, or the House of Windsor.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

It's funny how people will say they haven't heard of something that has been used in multiple xword puzzles. Asahi beer has been in multiple puzzles across the xword universe. Plus, I have seen it on the list of beers offered at every Chinese restaurant I have ever been to, although I have never imbibed. But the funniest thing I found out, while looking into its history, in order to see how old the brand is, that after several different partnerships and owners, that the Japanese beer Asahi is now made in Rome, Italy.

Burma Shave 4:48 PM  




From yesterday:

so LIZ would OPTFOR grief,


Anonymous 4:54 PM  

Yesterday’s puzzle was really bad. I was expecting something better today.Sadly, the badness continues.

Diana, LIW 5:59 PM  

So I completed 97.6% all on my own. Not bad for a Friday.

What is with OFL? sheesh - matches can have at least two meanings at a party

Oh well - I'm happy.

Diana, LIW

rondo 6:08 PM  

Hand up for teeth before HELOS. Like OFL, did not care for the MATCHES clue; better off with something about dating sites.
Wordle eagle! Which does not add to the birdie count to match @spacey.

spacecraft 6:53 PM  

Nope. HOW am I supposed to get CHATGPT? a word with three random initials after it. HELOS??? I give up. Did English leave and stick us with gibberish?

Wordle par.

wcutler 12:11 AM  

Re: polka dot house, here is one in Vancouver, BC from 12 years ago. I have no idea if it still looks like this.

My favourite clue was the music festival lineup. When anything related to bands seemed unlikely, I started to think of what I've lined up for at music festivals, and the answer was obvious.

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