Hautbois, en anglais / FRI 11-10-23 / "Butt out!," in brief / One who's been tapped on the shoulder / Renaissance faire performer such as a lutenist or juggler, perhaps

Friday, November 10, 2023

Constructor: Kate Hawkins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: PISTOLES (36D: Doubloons) —
 is the French name given to a Spanish gold coin in use from 1537; it was a doubloon or double escudo, the gold unit. The name was also given to the Louis d'Or of Louis XIII of France, and to other European gold coins of about the value of the Spanish coin. One pistole was worth approximately ten livres or three écus, but higher figures are also seen. The derivation is uncertain; the term may come from the Czech píšťala ("whistle", a term for a hand cannon), or from the Italian town of Pistoia; either way, it was originally spelled pistolet and originated in military slang, and probably has the same root as pistol. [...] The coin appears repeatedly in Dumas' fiction. He has his character state, in The Three Musketeers set in the 1620s, that one hundred pistoles were worth a thousand livres tournois when Athos bargains for the horse he takes to the battle of La Rochelle. // It was also referred to by Raphael Sabatini; who wrote 'swashbuckling' tales of the 17th and 18th centuries; in his book, St Martin's Summer. // The coin gave its name to the town of Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, where according to local legend an explorer lost a goblet worth three pistoles in the river. (wikipedia)
• • •

Was really enjoying this one until I got down below the median and fell into a (BALL) PIT of grimness and clunkiness and numismatic esoterica. But let's start with the good part—it's real easygoing up top, in the NW, which means that PERNICIOUS and DOES DONUTS (bright answers both) come popping into view pretty quickly, and then, whoosh, there's the drop:

I love it! YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE! Actually, you should have, this is Friday, this is what Friday is about, you did your job here, thank you very much. I actually left out part of the process here—a minor delay up top after I tripped over some ambiguous short stuff. Never a fun way to spend time on a Friday, or any day, but it happens. But if you've got gunky fill like BSS and you clue it ambiguously, now the solver is spending more actual time with your gunky fill than they are with your glorious fill, and what's the good of that? Anyway, I wrote in MSS at 9D: Degs. with lab courses, often. I guess "lab courses" are probably more common at the Bachelor's level, OK, shrug, fine, I don't have a BS or an MS so I dunno, but I feel like MSS is the "degree" (plural) I'm more likely to see in a crossword, so boom, in it went, and then 6A: "Butt out!," in brief ("MYOB!") (i.e. "mind your own business!") became, well, a mystery. You try parsing _Y_M! Not easy. I went with "IYDM!," which I rationalized as "If you don't mind...!," which I think was my brain's broken way of channeling "Do you mind!" IIRC. IYKYK. YMMV. LMNOP. Sigh. Anyway, that error was relatively easily fixed, and *then* came the whoosh. Followed my more whooshing, here and there, hither and yon ... hitting the books, being like that! Good stuff, for sure.

Then came the first bit of grimness—that clue on PART I (30D: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — ___" (2014 film)). Again, I don't know why you write clues for your less-than-lovely fill that forces people to stop and linger over said fill, wondering what the hell is going on. I spent what felt like a good deal of time trying to remember what the subtitle was on that damn teen trilogy movie sequel whateverthehellitis (I think there's somehow actually a new installment in this cinematic universe coming out soon, why?). I actually saw "The Hunger Games" and thought it was fine. But back to this clue on PART I. Woof. I guess ... there's a PART II. Can't wait to see this clue again when PART II appears in the puzzle (I'm being sarcastic!). 

The worst thing down below, though, was PISTOLES. Why would you burn one of your longer, marquee answers on arcana like that. Do you want your solvers struggling with extremely bygone coinage. PISTOLES is the kind of answer that can never be satisfying because even after you get it, you're likely to be left thinking "????" The word feels vaguely familiar, but that didn't keep the entire PISTOLES section from being by far the hardest to solve. I just had this gaping hole I had to work around. Here's what that hole looked like:

I should've gotten CARATS here, but it just didn't come to me. I wanted TOURIST TRAP at 45A: Many a shop outside a national park, but since I wasn't sure about anything after I wrote TRAP in, I tore TRAP out. CHOIR eluded me because of the deceptive (if not outright deceitful) word "costumed" (48A: Group often costumed in robes). It's not cosplay. It's not Halloween. They're not pretending to be something they're not. Boo to "costumed." It's defensible as a generic sort of word, but boo to it nonetheless. I kinda associate RIMS with cars, but mason jars ???? (46D: Things on mason jars or racing cars). No. So that was no fun. Never knew Confucius wrote ODES. And then the far SE corner got me all tangled up because of another short wrong answer (like MSS up top, but with worse implications for my solving progress). At 51D: Things made of stakes? (BETS), I wrote in the only reasonable answer, which was POTS. POTS are where the BETS go. They are made up of your "initial stakes" (extremely common clue for ANTES) and then whatever other "stakes" get added. Sigh sigh. This meant I couldn't see 49A: Marvy (FAB) at all. And then for 49D: Stoke (FUEL), I wrote in FEED!!! You FEED the fire, or someone's feelings, in that you encourage them to grow ... right?? Sigh x 3. FEED / POTS created an ultimately tiny but still annoying snafu. Coming on top of the PISTOLES nonsense, it made my ending today feel much worse than my beginning, largely, though not entirely, negating the good vibes that had been banked up top. Still, this is more good than bad, overall. 

Some more things!:
  • 15D: Chesterfield, e.g. (COAT) — I did not know this. I know a Chesterfield as ... like, a couch? A sofa? Or am I confusing it with a davenport, hang on ... ha, I was right "a sofa with padded arms and a back of the same height and curved outward at the top," per Oxford Languages/Google. I also know Chesterfield as a cigarette brand of yore. Here's an ad featuring Ronald Reagan sending boxes of Chesterfields to all his friends for Christmas. Just one of his many brilliant, helpful ideas.
  • 34A: One who's been tapped on the shoulder (SIR) — I got this and did not immediately get the context. I was wondering why an enlisted man would do this to his superior officer. "SIR, SIR ... [tap tap] ... you've got something on your tie, SIR." [Please stop explaining this in the comments; I said I didn’t *immediately* get the context—I got it shortly thereafter: it’s a dubbing ceremony for a knight, of course]
  • 37A: Make ___ (HAY) — So not "Make WAY!" then? Great, fantastic, thanks.
  • 25D: Abbr. at the end of a list (MISC.) — list-ending is really more ETC. or ET AL's territory.
  • 8D: Only about 10% of human bodies have these (OUTIES) — nothing in the clue suggests you're gonna get all slangy like that, so harrumph.  
  • 35D: Former attorney general Bill (BARR) — are there no non-repugnant BARRs? Speaking of other BARRs, semi-hilarious that ROSANNE / BARR appears in this puzzle and the puzzle's just pretending like she's not there (yes, the real Roseanne BARR spells her name with that extra "E", but still, you can't put ROSANNE / BARR in a grid and expect me not to think of Roseanne Barr). We need new BARRs! Candy BARR was an American stripper and burlesque dancer! I mean, she shot her second husband, and had a relationship with Jack Ruby (!), but she still seems way more appealing than Bill BARR. Candy BARR is my favorite BARR now (admittedly, it's a low ... bar)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Bob Mills 6:23 AM  

Finished it without cheating, after struggling for a while with the BALLPIT/PISTOLES cross. What is a ballpit?

Gunner 6:44 AM  

"Sir" refers to one who is knighted by royalty tapping him on the shoulders with a sword.....I think.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

Had to take an DNF because of NE quadrant. I suppose I could have kept at it but my solve time would have been ridiculous and I have other things to do with my life. Absolutely hated the clueing. Just awful. First puzzle I couldn't finish (in a reasonable time) in months.

Todd Hrbek 7:00 AM  

I believe the SIR refers to the knighting ceremony in which the new knight is tapped on each shoulder followed by “arise Sir Loin of Beef”

frankbirthdaycake 7:16 AM  

Fun, a little on the easy side. A nice Friday puzzle.

@Bob Mills: A ball pit is a walled-in area, about a couple of feet deep, filled with colorful, baseball-sized plastic balls that children play in at places like Chuck E. Cheese. There’s a hilarious episode of the Big Bang Theory that includes an addled Sheldon in a ball pit, popping up and taunting Leonard with shouts of “Bazinga!”

Hal9000 7:19 AM  

So funny how the mind works: I got through the bottom first and later finished in the NW - after “You shouldn’t have” whooshed the top and bottom together - what a fun answer! Pistoles was arcane but easy to figure out in context. The whole puzzle was easy, in the end (19:48 for me - about 5 minutes faster than Friday average) but quite fun!

Wanderlust 7:20 AM  

PISTOLES gave me the exact same problem as it did Rex, and when I got the damned “so close” message, I figured that was the problem. But the crosses all seemed right. Finally found my error further down. I put in the noun ASCENt instead of the verb ASCEND and just figured that Confucius wrote some odd things known as OtES. Once I worked out the Confucius confusion, I got the happy music. Overall, nice Friday.

Hadn’t noticed ROSANNE and BARR until I read Rex. I do love Ms. Cash so I didn’t mind that answer at all. As for BARR, well at least he eventually realized what a threat to the nation he was working for, but Bill, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE joined that administration in the first place and enabled the man in his evil deeds for as long as you did.

While on the subject of politics, does anyone else feel even more angry at Manchin for leaving the Senate than you were angry at him when he was in it? It’s now virtually guaranteed that Republicans will take the Senate in 2024.

Who else had Flag before FORT? Are jugglers MINSTRELs?

Son Volt 7:23 AM  

Wonderful little late week puzzle. Comfortable voice - liked the PERNICIOUS - DOES DONUTS pair and REAL MATURE. The big guy highlights the unfortunate stuff - for me it was BSS and PEU.

The reach on ROSANNE - BARR was funny but sadly where we are today. I’m down with the SIR clarifications.

Enjoyable Friday morning solve.


Anonymous 7:31 AM  

Had the same hole as Rex, but TOURIST TRAP gave me RIMS and the rest just kinda fell into place.

In addition to the sparklers mentioned by Rex, REAL MATURE is a great answer.

SouthsideJohnny 7:32 AM  

I’ll nominate PEU to join the other troublemakers (BALL PIT and PISTOLES) today in what was really the only tough section on a surprisingly breezy Friday.

I’m lost on the archers / AMAZON clue and answer. Are they referring to inhabitants of the Amazon - or maybe there is a novel or tv show that I’m not aware of? Googling “AMAZON ARCHERS” just brought me to the etail site with loads of come ons for archery merchandise (and some fiction - apparently there is an ARCHER cartoon show as well). OMG, it’s all so confusing . . .

Anonymous 7:38 AM  

Liked this! The phrases were especially fun.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

I thought of RIMS but discarded it because of “racing” in the clue, trying to find something that racing cars had that regular cars did not (another word for decal/label perhaps). Was unsatisfying to put it in when I had RI__

Mothra 7:56 AM  

Too easy for a Friday, again. I’m methodically working my way through Fridays and Saturdays in the archive…now on 2002. So much more of a mental workout than the recent fluff we’ve been getting.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

I got TOURISTTRAP straight away, having grown up in one, but still struggled with that area.

andrew 8:05 AM  

Fun puzzle, if a bit Friday Lite in the degree of difficulty.

Only snag was i put in TOURISTshop (not noticing shop in the clue - its early.) PISsOLES? Sure, why not?

Gift shops at a national parks DONUT seem like TOURISTTRAPs. Something like Wall Drug in “There’s NOEM place like South Dakota!” does (or even Mount Rushmore itself in said state).

p.s. - again, ALL names should be allowed in a crossword, BARR none!

kitshef 8:10 AM  

Huh. I’ve always says tit-bit, not TID-BIT. Turns out this is the British spelling.

Second very very easy Friday in a row. I don't know what is going on with Friday puzzles, but they're turning into themeless Tuesdays.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

TOURISTSHOP before TRAP messed me up in the SE, but overall a challenging yet whoosh-y puzzle!
One nit—the clue for BELIKETHAT does not really make sense…I wanted it to be “GO OFF GIRL” or something hahah

Wanderlust 8:21 AM  

Amazon women warriors from Greek mythology.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

The Amazons in Greek mythology were a race of warrior women who were known for cutting off one breast because it interfered with drawing a bow.

And delivering books.

Rich Glauber 8:47 AM  

What day is today? Zero resistance over here... easy Wednesday time.

pabloinnh 8:51 AM  

Busy AM here with a six year old and a one and a half year old under our care for the day.

So, briefly, thought this was a nice smooth Friday and I liked reading OFL because , 1) I knew a chesterfield could be a coat and 2) PISTOLES went in with only a couple of letters so now I'm feeling all smart.

Duty calls. Fun Friday.

egsforbreakfast 8:52 AM  

In the absence of @Lewis, I must point out the unusual occurrence of a 5 letter anagram : BASSI/BASIS.

A pit bull at a pulpit in a BALLPIT palpitated. Isn't that the pits?

Invitation to an introverted penny-pincher's party: BYOB then MYOB.

I give extra points to square 44. Both clues utilize the word "points."

My Pa knew Johnny Cash and my MAMET ROSANNE. In fact, Ma's name was Keri, and she and ROSANNE went on to fame as Cash & Keri. Writing this groaner took me back to my youth where there was a little corner market called Ken's Cash and Carry. It was known to the Junior High crowd as Ken's Ass is Hairy.

I thought the puzzle was good, just a tad on the easy side for Friday. Thanks, Kate Hawkins.

Tom F 8:52 AM  

Easy for a Friday.

Have to disagree with Rex on one point. I thought DOESDONUTS was weak, especially as clued

Jennielap 8:53 AM  

Rex, you and I are about the same age and I just have to say I love your taste in music. Reading the blog is like listening to Pop Rocks on Sirius XM. All these great 80s and 90s jams that I loved and sort of forgot about (plus lots of Elvis Costello).
I wrote Act your age instead of Real mature and messed up the whole bottom half.

Sam 8:56 AM  

Had PERFIDIOUS before PERNICIOUS. Guess I should learn what words mean.

Georgia 8:58 AM  

My 3 year old son was denied entry to the ball pit in Ikea because he wore diapers. This inspired him to finally be potty trained ... as he sat on the seat successfully he gushed "NOW I CAN GO TO IKEA!"

Georgia 9:01 AM  

I started with "shop," which brought "roil" and "rad" and inexplicable blanks to rethink.

Burghman 9:06 AM  

Beer drinker originally from PA here, so when I saw Chesterfield, I dropped LORD in there immediately - Yuengling brews a Lord Chesterfield Ale, so that had to be it, right? Right? Nope.

thfenn 9:07 AM  

LOL, big woohoo from me zipping through a Friday and finally seeing OFL let it at least venture towards medium, but no, still just misplaced fluff for some of you. Will just have to keep trying.

I loved this one, with all the longs just more or less popping into my head.

DOESDONUTS was fun as a teen, but 50 years later I've had two of my dearest see their lives upended from how quickly spinning a car around uncontrollably can have disastrous consequences. YOUSHOULDNTHAVE is right. BELIKETHAT. REALMATURE. And now that I think about it, one of them was near a TOURISTTRAP. Turns out the puzzle wasn't themeless at all.

RooMonster 9:12 AM  

Hey All !
Initial run-through of Acrosses and Downs netted me only three answers. Holy cow, said I, this is gonna be tough! But, got a few here, a few there, the ole brain deciding to help out on some, pattern recognition, getting MORETOCOME off just the O, and before I knew it, slightly less than 19 minutes, and Bam! Done.

Did FWEs, however. Four of them! Had FOnT,/nOME (jar on both those), PISTaLES/CHaIR (thinking a group of Judges in England? CHaIR? Why not?), MINSTRaL/PaU (because), FAn/nETS (dunno).

So a tough/easyish puz. Which makes no sense, but hey, after reading my posts here, you know by now that's often the case with my ramblings. 😁

Happy Friday!

Three F's

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Glad you like the tunes, thanks! ~RP

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

MYOB goes back to the 1940's.

JD 9:21 AM  

Just rolled through the top feeling smarter than I am. Love the word Pernicious. Loved You Shouldn't Have Hit the Books.

But Ball Pit (known to moms everywhere as Bacteria Pit) slowed things down. No media outlet I frequent referred to William Barr as Bill. And of course, Pistoles.

But Hay, repeat after me. Roseanne Loots regularly and once Toed an Iron Oboe in a Silo in Rome and wrote Odes to Aloe. Meow. You have to love the letter O and a puzzle so filled with it.

MYOB has been around so long that even I know it. @Kitshef, we say tidbit here just north of the South. But this town was founded in 1776 and some very old things have hung on.

Nancy 9:22 AM  

I've never heard of PISTOLES either, so the cross with BALL PIT was hard for me too. I actually ran the alphabet before writing the P in -- just to make sure I wouldn't blow the $100,000 First Prize* by doing something dumb.

I "made WAY" before I "made HAY".

And my Star Spangled Banner was about a FLAG before it was about a FORT. If the title's not enough for y'all, just remember too "...that our flag was still there!" And that it "still wave(s) o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!" I mean really now!

But when I stared at LBOE, AOME and GOED, I had to reluctantly change it.

This puzzle has a lot of color and pizzazz -- brought about by a goodly amount of insults being tossed about hither and yon. BE LIKE THAT! MYOB! REAL MATURE! Do you want to know the person who's saying those things? And then there's the charming comic book title ZITS as well. I wonder who reads it: the teens who have ZITS or the teens who don't have ZITS?

But rudeness and flag-tossing-aside aside, I enjoyed this puzzle a lot.

*"the $100,000 First Prize" is my running joke about how there's no money worth speaking about to be found in the crossword puzzle game.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

"Does" donuts? We didn't "do" donuts, we always "cut" them. It was a nasty prank, making a mess of a lawn or ball field.

Whatsername 9:39 AM  

Well the eraser got a work OUT this morning. INEPT before UNFIT, ROSEANN instead of ROSANNE, FLAG before FORT, BASES/PLAY SET in place of BASIS/BALL PIT and SUR before DIScharge. Loved the clue for MEOW and the image of a race car with RIMS doing DONUTS. Nice Friday which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Is that shop where I bought the $10 refrigerator magnet really considered a TOURIST TRAP? Get OUT! I had no idea.

Seems there are many Veterans Day observances happening today as well as tomorrow. To all of you who served, please allow me to extend my gratitude and wishes for a peaceful, pleasant holiday.

Smith 9:42 AM  

Found it easier than @Rex did, although his first screenshot looks just like my progress at that point.

MEme before MEOW slowed down the NE.

REAL MATURE sounds like a master's soccer team.

Kid Phoneme 9:46 AM  

FEED before FUEL
HEM before SIP
Convinced myself SEA could work if the Carnival was a cruise.
All that said, the happy music played when I filled the last square of the puzzle. Not sure that last time that's happened for me on a Friday--if ever.

Conrad 9:57 AM  

Fell into the 16A copy cat trap with aper before MEOW
And the list ending trap at 25D, et. al. before MISC
namES before CITES at 44A
sea before RIO for the carnival location at 53D (thinking the cruise line)

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

PISTOLES was a gimme for me once I had PIS filled in. Go figure. The real problem for me was the whole NE corner. I just couldn't grok those clues. They clicked finally, but they were blank for a looooong time.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

We always "did" donuts. YMMV.

Newboy 10:08 AM  

My, my how our wheelhouse gets filled is truly amazing. Yesterday’s CYCLOPEAN dropped right in due to multiple visits to Greece and today’s PISTOLES slotted easily since we pass a skater boy shop of that name on our morning walks. I can’t explain why a skateboard store would pick that nomenclature, nor could the tattooed person on site. Alas even uncle Google failed to clarify, so I’m left to ponder this mystery, one as perplexing as why poor people become followers of a messiah with gold-plated toilet fixtures. If anyone can clarify, please do.

Oh, and the most PERNICIOUS moment in today’s solve was when rAd blocked Mr Happy Pencil. Kate, YOU SHOULDNT HAVE done that to an otherwise FAB grid! I hope that Shortz has MORE Hawkins TO COME.

Carola 10:10 AM  

Fast and fun. PERNICIOUS was delicious, and the rest was a joy ride, too. One snag: PISTOLaS.

@Kate Hawkins, thank you for this treat. I look forward to your next one.

Upstate George 10:37 AM  

kitchen at 8.10, "tit-bit" is the English spelling, "tid-bit" is the American version. Two nations divided by a common language yet again!

Tom T 10:47 AM  

Briefly had inept for 1A (Not up to the job) and noyB (none of your business) for 6A ("Butt out!," in brief), but my big hang-up came in the SW with a 7 letter kealoa. I was so certain that "Prepared, as green beans" had to be SnappED (thinking about prepping the beans before cooking them). It was the very first answer I entered in the SW, and it was very hard to abandon. And when I did abandon it, still thinking the answer involved pre-cooking prep, I seized on another 7 letter word that begins with S and ends with ED (and involves peas more than beans, admittedly)--ShellED.

So, that tangle was a challenge, but I still completed the puzzle below my average time with no cheats or checks. Smile.

Oh, also, mangling what little of my French vocabulary remains (and having a P for the last letter thanks to the incorrect snapped), I translated hautbois (52A) as "high boy" and spent too much time trying to come up with a 4 letter word ending in P for a fancy antique clothes dresser!

Masked and Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Like many solvers here, M&A's nanoseconds got PISTOLE-whipped.
Candy BARR is also now M&A's fave, too .. thanx, @RP.

staff weeject pick: PEU. Hey! I actually remembered this, from earlier xwords! The old M&A brain evidently lives to fight another day.


Pretty easy-goin FriPuz, until BALLPIT/PISTOLES rared up and PEE-UED the solvequest a little bit, at our house.

Thanx for the themeless fun, Ms. Hawkins darlin. Keep em comin.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

want somethin harder? …

Sir Hillary 11:21 AM  

The good:
-- PERNICIOUS. Such a great word. In college, a friend and I would somehow weave PERNICIOUS and/or "exacerbate" into every essay we turned in. Bonus points if we got both.
-- Learning things like how many people have OUTIES and how to say OBOE in French.
-- "Rise" and RYES

The not-so-good:
-- DOESDONUTS. Anyone ever said that? "She DOESDONUTS as we go nuts"?
-- Pretty drab cluing.

The super-bestest-awesomest:
-- Tanya Donelly!

Ride the Reading 11:37 AM  

Pretty easy, for a Friday - about half my average solve time. Got hung up a bit at 30A/D - French is Greek to me. Had fEU instead of PEU, which led to fAR...well, let's stop there...for 30D. REAL MATURE. Must have finally dredged up the correct letter there.

And more French, in the OBOE clue. Often seems puzzles are chiding me with O, BOE.

Liked YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE and PERNICIOUS. Let's see what Saturday brings.

GILL I. 11:38 AM  

PERNICIOUS...OK, I'm going to have a treat today....Oh wait!...it's standing right on top of DOES DONUTS. Hmmm.
Interesting. Is this going to be fun or what....Hmmm.
A cash pause. I wrote and misspelled JOHNNIE Cash. Erase, erase...Who is this ROSANNE?
I'm zipping through the line....Going fast....and then fell into a TRAP with some sort of BALL at 35A. It crosses that Doubloons thing. Oh, yeah, I remember that BALL PIT. Dogs love them. OK, so the Doubloons start with a P maybe. I only know it as some sort of gold coin or maybe I'm confusing it the way I confuse a ton of things. I had the PIS and I needed something else. Hmmm. Oh, TOURIST TRAP has the T. So I had PIST. The OLES I was pretty sure of. PISTOLES! Hmmm. I briefly thought this might be a little mistake and that you really meant PISTOLAS? No....No Spanish guns here.
I finished.
@Nancy I was even a bit mad that FLAG wasn't the answer. OBOE took care of the problem.
Stare fest fleeting moment was wondering what 10% of human bodies have at 8D. I pretty much knew it started with OUT and house didn't fit. Really...what can it be! Oh an OUTIE....I met one. Does that mean I'm eligible for @Nancy's $100,000 prize? His was funny. Half of his umbilical cord stuck out like a little half eaten pecan nut and the other half was deflated. So I guess you could say he was an OUTIE INNIE...? Maybe he falls within the 1%....Hmmm.
I enjoyed the romp today. Especially because you made me think of umbilical cords.

jberg 11:39 AM  

I was swooshing along until I got to ROSANNE, suddenly wondering if maybe it was ROSeaNe (hi @whatsername), and therefore questions all the crosses. I had to circle around that area and then come at it from all sides. And while I thought you probably wouldn't put a BuLLPen in a children's play area, I had no idea about BALLPITs. It finally all came together once BELIKETHAT confirmed that it was ROSANNE. So I finished, except that I never parsed PART I. I figured if someone could be named Katniss, then someone could probably be named PARTI as well.

AMAZONS was personally a bit eerie -- I know someone who'd having a mastectomy next week, and have been pondering whether it would cheer her up or depress her to talk about the Amazonian practice. I'm leaning toward not doing it.

MYOB puzzled me as clued -- it takes longer to say that than it does to say butt out. But it's shorter if you're texting, I guess.

Uke Xensen 11:40 AM  

Confucius didn't write odes. Book of Odes is what the Classic of Songs is sometimes called in English. One of the classics of Confucianism, it is therefore conventionally attributed to him, though the songs are in fact quite ancient.

sanfranman59 11:42 AM  

Rex is in rare form today. I LOL'd (okay Boomer?) several times while reading his review. That Ronald Reagan ad is priceless.

jb129 11:43 AM  

I was also stuck on 10D FAMED ARCHERS (thank you @Wanderlust), as well as ZITS (not up on comic strips) & had APER for Meow (which I still don't get).

Funny how the mind does or doesn't work.

Otherwise, a decent Friday. Thanks, Kate!

MkB 11:49 AM  

Same here on perfidious. It’s close enough meaning-wise, and leaves you with the real-if-odd “ifs”, and only “doat” to show you something’s wrong.

Ride the Reading 11:51 AM  

Oh, meant to add my thanks to Rex on the music embeds. Now listening to the CD that has "Feed The Tree."

bocamp 11:56 AM  

Thx, Kate; smooth puz! 😊

Easy (Wed+ dif).

Got the NW right off; then YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE made the rest go quickly.

A very enjoyable trip! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

Beezer 11:58 AM  

I just whooshed through this fun themeless puzzle but came to a screeching halt at the intersection of PISTOLES and BALLPIT. Ran the alphabet until something halfway made sense at P. GAH! I KNOW what a BALLPIT is but had read the clue as “children’s playGROUND area”…which totally messed up my “thought direction” (whatever that is). At any rate, on balance I think the crosses were fair with some great colloquial phrases.

@Gary Jugert, JC66, and Okanager…THANKS for weighing in last night! Here are my observations in no particular order:

-Not advertising, but I work the puzzle on an iPad (bigger screen than phone!). I downloaded the NYT app which can be used on both IOS and Droid tablets. It is free with either full NYT subscription or the 50$ a year games subscription.
-When I have NOT had my iPad and have had to work puzzle on laptop, I have to log in to puzzle through browser…THAT puzzle platform is a NIGHTMARE!
-About a year ago (and the comments about it) I downloaded the Across-Lite app on my iPad. Man oh man, I find IT to be WAY more clunky than the actual NYT app. One of you said something about scrolling…if the NYT app is configured properly in its settings, you can breeze from one question to the next…no scrolling.
-Possible conclusion…maybe the app is only good for tablets. Also, I think (?) you can print out the puzzle from Across-Lite? My “close up” vision has gotten so bad it strains my eyes to solve on paper ☹️ so that is currently not an alternative for me.

Bort 12:08 PM  

Thought this hit a good balance and was an A- Friday. Agree that the cluing was opaque at times (SOFA and LORD both before COAT, ETAL before MISC, agree on some weird clues like for RIMS), but that was the only thing that drove it from easy to easy-medium.

Also deserves mention that the fill was light on proper names other than MAMET, who's not that obscure, and other than PISTOLES, the longer answers stayed very in-the-language.

R Duke 12:15 PM  

Missed opportunity for a Rosanne Cash video.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  


Anonymous 12:26 PM  

I recall Ann Landers' frequently advised letter writers to "MYOB" to this clue skews pretty old

JC66 12:39 PM  


I solve on a MacBook Pro computer, never on a tablet. So there you go.

jae 12:53 PM  

Easy-medium. I had similar problems (@Rex et. al.) in the SE which was the toughest corner for me also. FAB, FUEL, PISTOLES, and REAL MATURE took a little bit of staring. Solid, smooth, and sparkly, liked it a bunch!

okanaganer 12:54 PM  

The upper left went reeeal fast, the rest was more normal Friday level. I agree the cluing went a bit overboard sometimes. The clue for FORT was a real tangent but at least I learned something.

I always cringe when a constructor uses the convenient plurals of BS or MS; here in Canada it is always BSc and MSc. I guess probably because of what else BS stands for.

Silly typeover: A NO-NO before TABOO for "Verboten".

@Beezer re Across Lite, you have probably hit the nail on the head about the app being good for tablets. I keep forgetting that so many people do puzzles on them! I always use a desktop computer with two high-def monitors, and for that setup Across Lite is almost perfect.

[Spelling Bee: Thurs 0; very low number of words!]

blockhead 12:55 PM  

"Former girlfriend of Mickey Cohen and Jack Ruby" would have been a killer clue for BARR as would "The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza" for TOURISTTRAP!

Anoa Bob 12:57 PM  

Hello ARNO, my old friend. You've come to help my solve again. Time was when knowing your European rivers was de rigueur for being an accomplished crossword maven.

I also got excited when the word nerd's delight PERNICIOUS showed up early on. With so much MORE TO COME, I was bouncing up and down on tippy-toes saying please, please rest of puzzle, BE LIKE THAT. Maybe that was asking too much (I'm looking at you, PISTOLES).

I grew up in farm country where I saw a lot of HAY being made. There were SILOS all over the place but I never heard them referred to as "Walled-off divisions, metaphorically", as clued.

When I finally filled in 30D PARTI, I thought that was the Mockingjay's last name in "'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-___' (2014 film)". I'm not being sarcastic.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Enjoyed this, except that for some reason the NE totally killed me; I had a 4x4 blank up there forever. My brain was anchored on BRITONS for "famed archers" even though it made all the crosses hellish and instinct said a "Pharmaceutical plant" had to be ALOE. 11D just wasn't jumping for me. I finally put in ALOE just to see what fell out, tried IDLIKETHAT even though it made no sense, remembered ZITS as that one comic strip I always skipped, and AMAZONS unlocked the rest.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

Anon 9:25-- most people do in fact do donuts. And they do them on asphalt.
I'll grant cut is a better verb than do when engage in the anti-social, criminal and downlight asshole move of doing a donut on a ball field or lawn.

Liveprof 2:02 PM  

Did someone say “refrigerator magnet?” (Whatsername, 9:39)

My collection was my pride and joy and gave my life purpose – whenever we took a trip I would studiously pore over magnet displays for the one worthy enough to take home. My favorite was obtained at a bris (circumcision) and was handed out by the mohel. It had his phone # and a teddy bear on it, in case you were wondering. Also loved a beauty of old Shea Stadium.

But then we redid the kitchen and got a new fridge with a door that won’t hold magnets! So this little pleasure is denied me, grumble, grumble.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

As often occurs, I’m stumped for many answers, but the one everyone thinks is totally obscure is a gimme for me. Hello, pistoles.

Beezer 2:58 PM  

@GJ, JC66, and Okanaganer…By Jove, I think we’ve got it! I think folks that use tablets probably are very happy with the NYT app but otherwise, Across-Lite rules. Haha! At one point I thought @Gary Jugert was implying you could “play without paying” (in real time) and I thought…I wanna piece of THAT action! I would also note…yes, I have (probably) one of the smallest smart phones available these days, but from what I can tell…the NYT app ONLY shows one clue at a time and you have to toggle to see down clue. Hah! That TOTALLY is a pain in the neck!

@Anoa Bob…I KNOW you aren’t being sarcastic because my brain phonetically thought “party”(?) at first! I will join you with a collective D’OH!

@whatsername and liveprof! Hahaha! I think my older sister has the largest refrigerator magnet collection of any “normal” person I know! I truly wonder if she has some “in storage” and swaps them out because fridges can be only “so” large unless they are in a restaurant kitchen!

CDilly52 3:59 PM  

I love how minds work so vastly differently. I breezed through the PISTOLES section, not because I had the word available at the front of my “stacks” back in the library, but because of the crosses. It fell in nicely. Where my mind went a bit blank and failed to connect with the clues was the NE.

My mind rejected BE LIKE THAT because of the (for me) TMI clue “I don’t approve of what you’re doing, but OK.” My answer to that clue would be something like “Well, I guess,” which fits nicely - blast it! So that area was slow to finish. My answer worked with both MEOW and ALOE so I left it.

My whooshing flow took me all the way down the west side to the bottom, over across the SE. as I worked my way back up, I wanted to HIT THE BOOKS, knew ROSANNE. SISTER, HAY and SAVE put paid to my original long 11 down. Totally ignorant of the teenage comic ZITS, I was thrilled to see the AMAZONS to help me out at the end.

I’m going to plant my “very poorly conceived clue” flag on the hill at 11 down and defend it. I think perhaps (even though it is Friday) the editorial minds might have helped improve that clue without hurting the “Friday-ness” of the puzzle. Perhaps “Fine, but I’ll never agree.” Anyway, the NE gave in and all was done and dusted. Rather a nice Friday.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

I had A NO NO as well

Anonymous 5:51 PM  


dgd 7:31 PM  

I am puzzled by Rex’s problem with rims. Of course mason jars have rims. That came immediately to mind. Oddly, I couldn’t think of tire rim but put in the answer. The clue is actually a good one.
Pistoles was deep in my brain but not knowing what they were, I relied on the crosses
It was easy medium for me until the south east corner I think Rex overreacted because of his own slowdown there. It took him longer than expected! A real TABOO for him

Anonymous 7:37 PM  

Good catch on the point and points in the clues at 44 A and D!

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

Does donuts as in a car doing a 360 on a lawn. It was described several times above.

Anonymous 8:01 PM  

Silo is business speak for parts of a business not connected to each properly. Those 2 departments are in their own silos. That’s the metaphor referred to.

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

I read Zits every day out of habit ( it’s only so-so usually) and oddly couldn’t remember the name for a while!

dgd 8:16 PM  

I do the puzzle in the dead tree edition. I hate The NY Times phone app version with a passion.
When I was a traveling this year where the paper was unavailable, I went to the trouble of going to the hotel computer room and printing it out every day.
I am (surprise) technology adverse but one of these days I might learn how to use across lite for the occasions I can’t get a print version or access to a printer. ( I am also obsessed with doing the puzzle every day!).

maverick 8:52 PM  

Interesting, seeing some other people not liking the NE either. It doesn't look difficult when filled in, but I took a did not finish because I just really didn't care. I came in under my Friday time and I can't put my finger on it, but I just really didn't enjoy the cluing here. Every time I got a "difficult" one it was just, ugh... okay. Over and over again.

So, I had LifTS for LOOTS and sure ALfo is some chemical company I don't know about and EroS is some new milk company I'm not aware of and MEir was another stupid foreign word (about copying) that I shouldn't have to know to do xwords in American English or maybe Golda copied someone 🤷‍♂️. Anyway, super unlike me to not push harder to do it right, but I can't put my finger on why, but I was just super not enjoying this.

Gary Jugert 9:11 PM  

Weirdly easy for me. Fridays are always a slog and this went right together except for ZITS and what the Star Spangled Banner is about since genocide, slavery, racial injustice, colonialism, and environmental catastrophe wouldn't fit into four letters.

I didn't notice the E in PISTOLES after building it from crosses, so I assumed |Doubloons] were pistols. I think I knew they're money, but have never heard of PISTOLES.

@egs On woke critical AMAZON theory: I would totally stay on the sidewalk as they passed by sniffing the sweet scent of female empowerment. I've heard it smells like dead men.


1 The sound my cat Henry makes when he thinks I am prioritizing this phone over his Fancy Feast.
2 The dude in the orchestra with silver hair. Oh wait, that doesn't narrow it down at all, does it?
3 Buying a half kilo of pizza by Trevi fountain.
4 Prohibition against singing in nothing but Day-Glo body paint.
5 Advice from boomers.
6 Little white lie that is neither white nor little.

5 MORE TO COME ... FREE! (~)

My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: Where babies come from. MIMOSA ONE TIME.


Anonymous 11:43 PM  

Agree - that clue made no sense!

Anonymous 1:43 AM  

❤️ melts

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