One arriving tomorrow, supposedly / FRI 1-5-24 / ___ far niente (pleasant idleness) / Fashion label founded by Rihanna / Condiment sometimes mixed with mayonnaise / Campaigner, informally / Deceive, especially to avoid responsibility for something / The brachiocephalic trunk branches from it

Friday, January 5, 2024

Constructor: David P. Williams

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: FENTY (39A: Fashion label founded by Rihanna) —
Fenty (stylised as FEИTY) was a fashion brand of ready-to-wear founded by Rihanna under the luxury fashion group LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton). Fenty was launched in May 2019. The fashion label made Rihanna the first woman and also the first person of colour to head a luxury brand for the LVMH group. Fenty was closed in 2021. (wikipedia)
• • •

I learned today that I really hate fill-in-the-blank quotation clues. I learned this because of how puzzle-throwingly annoyed I got when, after struggling with one, I then ran into another. My idea of torture is a puzzle made up entirely of this sort of clue. Or of more than one of this sort of clue, apparently. I can never tell what the missing word is. I have to hack and hack and At Best what I get is something dull or blowhardy or cornily aphoristic. Something CUTE, in today's sense of the word (23A: Superficially clever). At least Hanlon's razor there has something witty and memorable and real-life-applicable about it (18A: "Never attribute to ___ that which is adequately explained by stupidity" (Hanlon's razor) (MALICE)); the Vidal quote, much as I (believe me) appreciate the sentiment (4D: "___ is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn": Gore Vidal), has no clear relationship to STYLE and is not memorable in the slightest (sidenote: the lack of a serial comma in this rendering of the quotation is painful). I had the Vidal quote down to ST-LE and ... well, it's early (before 4am when I started), I should've known that when none of the regular vowels worked, insert Y, but for a few seconds I was, as the crosswords say, at sea. My point is, please, one fill-in-the-blank quotation clue per puzzle, max. Preferably none. It's a bad clue type. Nobody likes them (no you don't, please stop). 

The NW corner felt like its own separate puzzle today. I know that any place I start a puzzle is likely to be the hardest, since the start is the point at which I have the least in-the-grid information to go on (i.e. nothing), but the NW really seemed quite a bit tougher than any other section. Would I have felt that way about the SE if I'd started there? I dunno. Probably not. I know Alan THICKE—a no-question gimme (35D: Alan of "Growing Pains"). I did not have any no-question gimmes in the NW. Maybe HEE (26A: "Tee" follower). I wanted PLASMA right away (1A: ___ TV), but pulled it when P----H didn't seem to make any sense at 1D: "Amen to that!" (PREACH). Oh, I forgot APE, that seemed almost certain (6D: Mimic). But the clue on LEAGUE, yeesh (2D: American, for example). That's about as vague a baseball clue as I've ever seen. Wanted LITHE for AGILE (19A: Not stiff at all). No idea on CUTE. Wanted AD SITE, but that answer always feels like something crosswords just made up (are there sites that are just ads, popping up at you? And would *anyone* make that site their "destination"?) (3D: Pop-up destination). Eventually I recommitted to PLASMA, then AD SITE, then MARE helped out, and I got that damn corner down the missing square in ST-LE. My brain had so much trouble making any kind of grammatical sense out of 16A: Breeze for the beach, maybe. It just didn't compute, as a plausible series of words. Is it a wind? A cocktail, maybe? Is "Breeze for" some kind of verb phrase? Like, "hey, hepcats, let's get in the van and breeze for the beach today, whaddya say?" But no, it is an EASY thing for you to READ at the beach. Tortured, if superficially accurate. In other words, "CUTE." But once that section was done ... whoosh:

So excited to start the whooshing! And ... yet. Watch me make two quick errors right off this EAGER BEAVER pillar of letters (14D: Enthusiastic sort):

When I took that last screenshot, I was merely trying to chronicle the way EAGER BEAVER allowed me to shoot off into various corners of the grid. I did not, at that point, know that two of these new answers were wrong, one in a near-fatal way. I don't know my "brachiocephalic trunk" from a hole in the ground (27A: The brachiocephalic trunk branches from it), but things (limbs?) "branch" from your TORSO and "trunk" (I guess) suggested TORSO, so I wrote TORSO, not AORTA. That goof wasn't too hard to fix, eventually. The one that gutted me was the misspelling of FENTY. I wrote that answer in so proudly, so confidently ... sigh. The top of FENTY's wikipedia page says "Not to be confused with Fendi..." Now You Tell Me! I absolutely confused them, or conflated them, and that meant that when it came time to make sense of 21D: Concern for the 1%? ... I could not, because I had DEAD BAT DE-. It would've been much better for me to have been completely ignorant of Rihanna's fashion house (which only lasted two years???), then to be half-aware, as I was, and put that damn "D" in there. "Why are the 1% concerned with dead bats? Is this some Occupy slang that I never picked up on?" But no, it's FENTY / DEAD BATTERY. The clue on DEAD BATTERY is a fine one, but it was a "?" clue passing through an "error" I couldn't see, so ... unlucky me (FENTY is Rihanna's last name, btw: Robyn Rihanna FENTY). 

The rest of this puzzle was easy, so the overall difficulty was pretty close to Medium, I think. I had a lot of trouble with GODOT (again, as with LEAGUE, lack of crucial context makes clue hopelessly vague) (20A: One arriving tomorrow, supposedly). I had to wait for the cross to see who would win the DARNED v. DAMNED decision at 29A: "How about that!" (victory to DARNED). I can't see someone literally waving a white flag and saying "I LOSE." In fact, the idea that people say that phrase at all seems like something crosswords dreamed up. A white flag waver might say "I GIVE UP" or "I SURRENDER" or "STOP SHOOTING PLEASE." White flags imply the opponent should let up. "I LOSE" implies that the game is simply over. Also the SMART-ASS clue seems wrong as hell. "Clever enough to win every argument"? A SMART-ASS? I doubt it. A SMART-ASS would *believe* he was that clever. Maybe. But there's nothing genuinely clever about smartassery (trust me!). Plus smartassery has nothing to do with "arguments," really. It's more ... unwanted and unhelpful and smug and self-serving commentary (again, trust me!).

The clue on SLICED BREAD really missed because it seemed to kind of sort of want to go for the full Wonder (Bread) pun, but then balked and pulled back and ended up in some weird no-man's-land (31A: Innovation of the 1920s that's still spoken of with wonder today). I mean, "... spoken of with Wonder today?" was right there. I can't believe I'm sitting here *asking* for a question mark clue, but it's a new year, who knows what wonders (!) await. Anything need explaining? An alley-oop is an ASSIST in basketball (the pass caught *and* dunked mid-air, bam bam). A MARE is a "sea" on the moon (the dark spots) (5D: Dark side of the moon?). Everything else should be reasonably clear. 

More Holiday Pet Pics now—this is the last week! Soak it up!

[Longtime reader Kitty ironically has doggies—Cocopuff and Peppy. I'm supposed to say that they are the cutest, smartest, most loving doggies and please understand this is not a brag this is just a fact (thanks, Kitty)]

[Cutie & Zuzu! "Wonder Twin powers, activate! Form of ... aw, **** it, let's just sleep some more" (thanks, Sharon)]

[Mercury (named after Freddie, of course) enjoys the giant new cat toy that Becki has bought for him (thank, Becki!)]

["Norwegian forest cat, demanding a permanent installation" (thanks, Rhonda)]

[This romantically lit fluffball is Tommy, a rescued barn kitty—gone two years now, still remembered (thanks, Don)]

That's it for me. Coffee / cat time now. See you tomorrow. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:18 AM  

Challenging NW, Easy-Medium the rest of the way. The one problem that caused me the most pain was the little threebie at 26A. I was thinking alphabet, so me "Tee" follower was "you" and then it was "ewe". Couldn't make sense of 5D at all, mainly because a lunar mare isn't a "side". Also it didn't help that I was thinking of a different kind of "moon."

Anonymous 6:19 AM  

Wow 1st to comment. Did overseas while struggling with jetlag. Struggled, gulping caffeine to turbo charge my brain. Finally got some toe holds and pushed it to completion. Much slower than average...

Adam 6:31 AM  

ILL BE DAmNED before ILL BE DARNED--I was hoping that the NYTXW was finally moving in that direction--and what with all the ASSes popping up I would have thought it wasn't that great a leap, but no. *sigh* I gave up on the NW early and filled in the middle of the puzzle and then SW and NE; SE finally fell when I remembered Alan THICKE (didn't watch that show very much). The NW gave me the most trouble. APE gave me RED TAPE. Wanted EWE ("Tee" follower) but saw that wasn't going to work. Finally got it, but I found it more challenging than @Rex. Not a terrible way to end a short week.

Anonymous 6:49 AM  

Nowhere close to medium. Very challenging to me. First DNF in quite some time.

Wanderlust 6:57 AM  

MEDIUM?!?! If there was a day between Saturday and Sunday, this puzzle would be made for it. Excruciatingly hard for me. Zero whooshing anywhere. I did eventually finish but enjoyed the accomplishment much more than the getting there.

My fatal error was Fleur de mEr instead of SEL. That made sense to me since the clue (“delicate crust on the surface of seawater”) tells you it’s in the sea. And after solving, I looked it up and it is a thing - just not the right thing. Fleur de mer is a rosé wine. That error, which I resisted pulling for a very long time, made it impossible to see ASSIST or MALICE (and I also didn’t have SEAT or SECEDED, both of which had very vague clues.)

“Vague clues” was the theme of this puzzle. There were some clever clues that fooled me and that I loved when I finally got them, such as “concern for the 1%” for DEAD BATTERY. But so many just could have been anything, like “American, for example” for LEAGUE (as mentioned by Rex). Some vague cluing is good to up the difficulty level, but it felt like too much today.

My other mistake was Aqua Velva instead of VITAE. (Anyone else?) I like my answer much better. I knew it was an old-timey product, but I couldn’t quite remember what it was, so I looked it up. “AMERICA'S FIRST AFTER-SHAVE. The scent of Aqua Velva has stood for masculinity, strength and attraction for generations,” according to its website. And it’s available for $4.99 at Target! Gotta get me some.

Rex, I had the same initial reaction as you to AD SITE for “pop-up destination.” But upon reflection, I think it works because the AD’s webSITE will be your destination if you accidentally click on the pop-up, which my clumsy fingers are always doing. And I think the SMART-ASS clue works, too. I think of a SMART-ASS as someone who is actually right most of the time, but he (pretty much always a he) is so obnoxious about making sure you know it.

Oh, one more costly mistake that I’ll bet others made too: DEfER instead of DETER for “Put off.” Obviously, both work and I wonder if the devilish clue writers (whether David or Will) knew that and were gleefully rubbing their hands imagining scads of solvers getting tripped up by it. SMART-ASS!

Mark 7:07 AM  

I hated this puzzle. There were so many clues where the meaning of the clue had to be stretched far to actually correspond to the answer. “Cute”, “I lose”, and “Smartass” are examples. That combined with some indecipherable slang (shine on) that I couldn’t even find a corresponding meaning by googling and obscure names that came close to a Natick (TBS and Thicke) or Ensler (which had more gettable crosses) made the puzzle more a punishment than a pleasure.

SouthsideJohnny 7:14 AM  

GODOT (as clued), YOINKED and FENTY were just not going to happen for me - which is not bad (only having three) on a Friday. I wanted VODKA instead of AQUA VITAE, because well, who wouldn’t? Was a little confused by the “?” In the MARE clue - maybe to indicate that’s it’s a play on the Pink Floyd situation.

A very clean and challenging grid with some good examples of Friday-appropriate (that is to say, borderline evil) cluing. A welcome rebound from yesterday’s difficulties.

Pamela 7:22 AM  

Please explain the Dead Battery clue/answer? Thx.

Lobster11 7:24 AM  

@Wanderlust nailed it: The theme of this puzzle was "vague clues." Some folks find this frustrating, but count me among those who love the challenge. Saturday hard for me, but very much in a good way.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

The NW was brutal, and although other sections were easier I never got the whoosh whoosh. SLICED BREAD was the only long answer I didn’t struggle with and rely on crosses.

I’m not usually a fan of the fill-in-the-blank quotes, and the Vidal one was impossible. Hanlon’s Razor, though, is well known to me and was one of the first answers I wrote in.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

I general don’t like the ones with very few black squares and I groaned when I opened this. However, after a slow start in the NW corner, I whooshed through eager beaver and sliced bread and that set me up for finishing a bit faster than average. I have Hanlon’s Razor hanging on my cork board at work, though, and Ensler and Thicke are names I knew so that probably helped.

Hal9000 7:36 AM  

Same for me! Darned puzzle wasn’t on my wavelength: I didn’t know the references (THICKE, ENSLER), had CHIPOTLE before SRI RACHA, and both the NW and SW might as well have been written in Chinese.

Will need to restore my honor by nailing the Saturday. This one crushed me.

Andy Freude 7:42 AM  

Rex’s medium and Conrad’s easy-medium are equivalent to my “good grief, I didn’t think I would ever get through that puzzle” (though I eventually did, at double my usual time and with one instance of cheating). Wanderlust, I raise a glass of fleur de mer in fellow feeling. Enjoy the subtle note of Aqua Velva.

Son Volt 7:43 AM  

Starting with the moronic ___ TV clue kills any vibe this one could possibly bring. Segmented grid with a nice looking stepped stack in the center - but useless trivia and trying to be too cute cluing ultimately drags this puzzle down.

Doubling down on Floyd - SHINE ON

Hand up for wanting DEFEr. The SRIRACHA letter string is pleasing - in fact that SE corner was the highlight. DOTTED LINES, DEAD BATTERY, SMOKE ALARM etc - nothing like loading up your grid with such splashy longs. Backed into ENSLER and the fill in the blanks entries Rex brings up.

I really dislike killing puzzles - but 2024 has not gotten off to a great start. There has to be better Friday efforts submitted than this.

Not me - You LOSE

B 7:53 AM  

I don't understand how a MARE is a "side", but alas.
Wouldn't REEFER be the contents of the "joint"?
Then there's the clue for SMARTASS.
The cluing for CUTE should probably be seen as lampshading.

P.S. Does the question mark in the clue [Apple product?] imply that Apple Inc. has superseded the fruit in our collective consciousness?

Lewis 7:55 AM  

Well, in this his third NYT puzzle, David has cemented in my mind that’s he’s got the knack – the skill and wit to create sterling puzzles.

Look at those six crossing elevens, all splendid answers!

Look at the cluing, including the best kind of vague clues, the gettable kind that surrenders after one or two crosses, and other clues infused with wit and deception, such as [Concern for the 1%] for BATTERY, and [Common spots for autographs] for DOTTED LINES.

Look at the answer set. Where is the junk? Where is the junk in this ultra-low-word-count (66) puzzle? Where is the junk despite that slab of white in the center? Remarkable!

I don’t know if it’s coincidence or design – and time will tell – but there are a couple of threads woven into David’s three puzzles. One is marijuana, with today’s REEFER, puzzle #1’s SPLIFF, and #2’s SMOKE POT. The second is quaint reactions, with today’s I’LL BE DARNED, #1’s GOLLY, and #2’s GOSH.

I do know that with just three puzzles in, David has established himself, IMO, as a Crosslandia force, with a strong and capable voice, and I’m eager to see what’s next.

This, for me, was an outing rife with thorniness, humor, and beauty, a sumptuous trifecta that fills me with gratitude. Thank you, David!

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Something about this puzzle just was completely foreign to my wavelength. I don't know whether it was the subject matter, which included a lot of pop culture and sports that I have no knowledge about it all; or whether it was the cluing. But this was a major struggle. Even after I got much of it filled in, I didn't understand half of the answers. Like SHINE ON, YOINKED, and ASSIST (I don't think I've ever known what an alley-oop is).

Bageleater 8:02 AM  

For a while I had “electric car” for the 20’s invention, but that was invented in the 1890’s. I am surprised that Rex said nothing about YOINKED, which I never heard of. Why would you say YOINKED when YANKED is around and easier to say?

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Did you know that "cheerleader" has the same number of letters as "eager beaver." Same for "of course" and "I figured," and "agreed" and "preach.". Not to mention the 3 way kea loa of delay, defer, and deter.

pabloinnh 8:07 AM  

No whoosh here but finished much faster than I thought I was going to. Like OFL, thought the NW was tough so I started n the SW and went counter clockwise, and finally saw what an EASYREAD might be. Whew.

Some clues seemed off--to me a joint is a specific thing and REEFER is a general thing, for instance. CREME? I guess PREACH is OK as a stand-alone but it sounds odd to me. No chance on FENTY or Ms. ENSLER but the crosses were fair.

Really wanted No mas! for the white flag waver but it was never going to work. And DOLCE rang a distant bell when it finally went in. How sweet it is. Also thought of SLICEDBREAD almost instantly because of the "Wonder" connection but it took a while to make it work.

Nice crunchy Friday, DPW. Didn't Play With words so much as misdirect me, but still a lot of fun, for which thanks.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

@Rex "The greatest thing since sliced bread" is a common idiom, sometimes sincere and sometimes sarcastic. I had no issue with the clue/answer.

Sutsy 8:12 AM  

@Pamela 7:22: When your phone goes to 1% you're concerned your battery will go dead.

Jack Stefano 8:12 AM  

Reminded me of a late 90’s Thursday. Sort of a “not as smart as you thought you were” humbler. Finished it up eventually about 11 minutes slower than average.

webwinger 8:17 AM  

This puzzle makes a strong case for the “google early and often” approach that I am increasingly endorsing. Realized after getting almost nothing on the first pass that this was a day to bring in my “A.I.” assistant sooner rather than later. They made short work of the two quotations—and I think I got as much or more aha! pleasure from that as I would have from seeing them emerge from crosses, without being sure until the bitter end that my answers were correct (as per @RP’s comments on the Vidal quote). After getting THICKE and FENTY (both well outside my wheelhouse) the same way, I had a foothold that got me some whoosh whoosh despite the numerous challenging (and IMO somewhat off the mark in a few cases—see comments above) clues. Finished with a time almost exactly my Friday average. (BTW, I did get ENSLER on my own without crosses, despite being unfamiliar with V-day—not hard to make the connection).

kitshef 8:20 AM  

Saturday-plus level puzzle, in a very good way. Id est tough clues, but once you get the right answer it makes sense (exceptions: I don't get GEM, nor how 'side' works in the MARE clue).

DEfER before DETER kept me from seeing DOTTED LINES for a long, long time. CidER before CORER and sUmO before JUDO also cost some time, but not nearly as much.

And as hard as this was, I felt like I did pretty well knowing FENTY from some bizarre corner of my brain, and ENSLER. I have no idea who Eve Ensler is or anything she has done, but somehow the name is in storage.

Pub trivia last night has a question about Growing Pains. We needed to know the name of Alan THICKE’s family. Now that’s the era of PPP I know.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

1% on your phone indicates it

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

You’re not alone, “yoinked”??

Kid Phoneme 8:35 AM  

Solved this one before getting to bed last night. Wasn't easy. But after running the alphabet in the NW (quite a few times) I got there.

Seemed like 5D was begging to be MARE, but couldn't trust that feeling as I had no idea how. That's when I ended up on the NYT's blog after finishing and found out this grid is twinsies with the Sat. Aug. 19th grid, as well as the Sat. Nov. 4th grid. (So tripsies?)we'll see it again another 10 times (baker's-dozensies???) as it's a homage to Wallace Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."

Maybe it's just because they share a last name but this reminds me of Sufjan Stevens saying in the aughts he was going to write an album for every state in the country. Sufjan's boast had a touch of Barnumism to it, being close to tacitly impossible. (He wrote two "state" albums, then stopped).

Anyway, I was glad to for the introduction to the poem, and the grid has all kinds of whoosh-y opportunities. I'm looking forward to the next one, even while a little incredulous there's much connection between puzzle and poem beyond there being 13 stanzas in one and 13 iterations of the other.

SLICED BREAD dropped in with its reputed ease. Everything else took a bit of wrangling.

CREME, PUREE, and SMART ASS were all tried, YOINKED, then tried again.

Foundered for a moment or two trying to remember the "extra" letter in S_IRACHA.

Got the Happy Music with the last G in AGILE and never parsed LEAGUE. (I kept wanting to try airline).

And thank the XWORD dieties the crosses gave me FENTY.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

Medium? This puzzle was murder..yoinked? Sriracha?

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

For some reason ‘ant’ as farm creature really annoyed me, even more than ‘adsite’. But ‘aqua vitae’ made up for it. Paying attention in grade 10 English class (Romeo and Juliet) has really paid off!
Oh, and I’m afraid I need ‘shine on’ explained…how is that deceptive?

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

@Pamela 7:22 AM - When your phone is down to 1% you are concerned your battery is going to die.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

I surrendered on this one. Didn’t get a foothold sufficient to make me think I’d prevail.

Guerin Wilkinson 8:59 AM  

Yikes, that was a challenge. Beyond me!

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Of course it’s common. I thought it was so obvious that it didn’t need explaining ~RP

RooMonster 9:05 AM  

Hey All !
Got SLICED BREAD right off the get-go with no crossers! Yay me! Actually got most of the center white expanse first, before the corners. Odd how that happens sometimes.

The NW corner was the toughest spot here. Finished the puz up there. Last letter in was the T of CUTE/ADSITE, and then the Happy Music! Solving correctly streak at 20. But SatPuz looming on the horizon. We'll see what happens.

Nice fill. Clean, simple. Not trying for exotica. Neat puz design.

Happy Friday!

Two F's

puzzlehoarder 9:09 AM  

This was hands down the toughest Friday I've ever completed cleanly. The NE took me twice as long as the rest of the puzzle and the rest of the puzzle was like a tough Saturday. As long as this isn't some sign of my own mental deterioration I hope the rest of years offerings maintain this extreme level of solving.

yd -0, a 9 day streak so far

mathgent 9:15 AM  

Mixed feelings. Several bad clues (an alley-oop is not essentially an ASSIST -- it counts as one in the box score). But also lots of good stuff. Didn't really enjoy it, but happy to have done it (with five cheats).

Bob Mills 9:16 AM  

Couldn't get the NI or the SE. Too hard for me. I also had "mer' instead of SE.

The clue for 24-Across fits "defer" but not DETER. And the word YOINKED is known only to a subset of society that doesn't do crossword puzzles (I know that sounds elitist, but the is the New York Times, after all).

Dr.A 9:23 AM  

I liked this puzzle more than @Rex, but definitely agree it was Medium! Not easy. I never had I’LL BE DAMNED because I had CREME. Also FENTY is still an active makeup brand so I see it from time to time on blogs or ads.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Great puzzle! Ditto Wanderlust and Andy (without the cheating). NW quite hard for me, NE harder than it should have been. Some great clues and long answers with great fill. More from this guy! (But maybe Saturday?)

bennys 9:30 AM  

Could somebody explain how “Goal for some runners” is SEAT? Is that supposed to mean the runners on the bottom of a rocking chair, or?

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

The crossword was very nice for a late millennial today! The JONAS Brothers and Rihanna are right up our alley :) And we’re also known for being obsessed with SRIRACHA mayo, it’s a whole thing. YOINKED the answers for the long entries pretty fast and went from there (another one of our commonly used words!). Some tricky fills but they fell into place as I went along. Took about my average time. Agree with Rex on the NW corner, where I spent most of my time - it was totally rough. Had a good time with it overall though!

(Related side question: does anyone happen to know if David P. Williams is somewhere between 25-35? Might be a weird question but the crossword really did feel right up my alley at 27!)

Adam12 9:37 AM  

For a “medium” solve, this sur did kick my SMARTASS. @Bob Mills, you’re absolutely right about DETER/defer.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Sorry, thought this was obvious. You run for a seat in Congress, say. It’s elective office. ~RP

kitshef 9:44 AM  

@bennys 9:30 You might RUN for election for a SEAT on the city council.

Nancy 9:48 AM  



And I tried.

First I tried to "check" rather than cheat, but cheated inadvertently. I looked up FENDI, to see if that might be Rihanna's company and Google gave me FENTY. I wrote it in, but that didn't even make a DENTY.

I looked up how to spell SRIRACHA, which I had spelled SIRRACHA.

There was nothing else I could cheat on -- the mark of a good puzzle, btw, -- so I came here, making sure I just looked at 1A and saw nothing else. (I had the final A). Aha, PLASMA. I wrote it in.

No help at all. So I gave in and looked at the solution -- and the unfairnesses just screamed out at me:

After cheating on PLASMA, I had written in PRAYER for "Amen to that!" PREACH???!!!! Oh, no, no, no!

You don't "autograph" a DOTTED LINE; you "sign" it. "Will you autograph this apartment lease?" Oh, please.

A person (who has "concern") is not a "1%". The DEAD BATTERY (which has no concerns at all) is the 1%. And it isn't even dead yet.

You may still speak about SLICED BREAD with all the "wonder" of the 1920s (really???), but I don't. After all, it's not exactly a flying machine or a horseless carriage.

This puzzle is too CUTE by half. It does not play fair. Which is a shame because the clues for STYLE, MALICE and SMARTASS provoke real curiosity and are so DARNED good.

Benbini 9:54 AM  

I'm going to agree that "American, for example" (I was thinking CHEESE for a good while), "____ TV" and other context-free guessing-game clues are cheap/lazy ways to increase difficulty that do not impress or engage. The TBS/THICKE Natick was gross.

I knew the Hanlon quote thankfully, but definitely oscillated between STYLE and CLASS throughout the solve; by the time I was down to the loose ends I was so worn out I took the L, checked squares (I'd made a minor mistake with JONAS brothers that I could have fixed had I cared at that point), and broke my streak.

Joseph 9:56 AM  

Had to Google the Gore Vidal clue to get any traction in the NW, which took me almost as long to complete as the rest of the puzzle. Whew! Liked the clues, even as tough as they were.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Agree that the NW was challlenging, the rest easy-medium. I had FENTI — so same mistake as Rex but different. iagree at 1D gave me ewe for 26A and that made the whole thing broken for a long time.

Also had DEfER but easily fixed once “…TEDLINE” was there. All the rest according to plan. I was happy to see Hanlon’s Razor represented — I know it well and use it as a mantra daily when I feel the rage climbing. :-)

beckiwithani 10:14 AM  

Rex, thanks for posting the pic of Mercury, who continued to believe the tree was just a fancy display for cat toys until I finally took the ornaments off yesterday.

My New Year’s resolution (not really, but kinda?) is to comment more on this blog, because the comments section as well as the main content are such a cherished part of my routine. Thanks to all who contribute!

I was so deeply on the struggle bus with this one that I was worried I’d break my streak and nearly threw my phone across the room a few times. Felt like a puzzle that had been created for a collection of ultra hard ones, “Saturday Plus” rather than Friday. My Friday average is just under 24:00 and this one took me just over an hour; was pretty sure I’d DNF but instead stayed up way too late and kept hammering away.

Agreed with those who disliked all the vague cluing. LEAGUE in particular pissed me off. And CREME …. I suppose is referring to “de la creme”?! At 11 PM I couldn’t parse it, though. NW and NE were both killing me. Tried both HEE and you (like the letter U) for 26A but couldn’t get either to work for the longest time. Typed EASYREAD and erased it twice before finally getting REDTAPE and the whole corner fell into place from there.

Got SEAT in the NE very late (I was tired and the election reference just hadn’t hit me), and then that corner finally started to work. Originally had DOOBIE for “joint,” so I was really messed up. And had TOM for “set piece?”, thinking of a drum set …

All in all, this one was hard enough to be sapped of joy for me. Hoping for a normal Saturday tonight, which will feel easy in comparison.

beckiwithani 10:24 AM  

Have to disagree about both DETER and YOINKED. The former works for the transitive meaning of “put” — you can put someone off, for example. That’s how I read it, anyway. And YOINKED has become a common enough piece of slang that this 46-y-o NYT subscriber has seen it around the interwebs. I think it’s gettable from crosses, too, so a fun(?) way to learn a newish term if you haven’t seen it

Niallhost 10:39 AM  

I fell into every single trap today:

chanCE before MALICE
GaDOT before GODOT (for some reason my brain goes to Gal)
DEfER before DETER
PUlse before PUREE
DuLCE before DOLCE
Velva before VITAE

The Alan on Growing Pains should have been a gimme but could not remember him, or his son's name even though very familiar with both
Could not get EASYREAD because of MARE, which I still don't get
Never heard of YOINKED

Tough going today but worked it out in 35, much slower than average Friday for me

Sinfonian 10:44 AM  

Yup. I had "velva" for the longest time before CREME and ARRAY made that impossible.

Sinfonian 10:46 AM  

MARE refers to the "seas" on the moon, which appear dark from Earth.

beckiwithani 10:53 AM  

I guess they’re both transitive, now that I think about it … but oddly, the “DETER” meaning for me requires a direct object immediately following the verb (“put ______ off,”rather than “put off ______”), whereas the “DEfER” meaning doesn’t (I can say the object at the end, e.g. “I put off that assignment”).
Sorry for the rambles, I was a linguist in a past life

Joe Dipinto 10:57 AM  

More CUTE pet pictures!

Maximum weirdosity in the cluage today. Though SLICED BREAD's clue made me laugh (that was the first answer I entered). I found the NE corner hardest to crack – never heard of Hanlon's Razor and eventually googled it so I could cut to the CHASE and finish things up.

Newboy 10:58 AM  


NW corner all that Rex said & more so here! Nothing SPEEDY about this puzzle, but ultimately it filled in around ALIKE & ARRAY since those long middle entries were clued for an EASY READ?

I noticed that today’s grid has exactly the same grid pattern as his previously published Friday & Saturday efforts that both incorporated long phrases that sorta announced their arrival at the party. David is becoming a name I want to remember, though the odds of that are about as good as recalling the spelling of SRIACHA without crossing help.

Beezer 11:06 AM  

Wow. This puzzle kicked my butt! My feelings are pretty much a combination of @wanderlust and @Nancy’s. And I’ll throw in @mathgent because I did do some cheating. I was glad to know the JONAS Brothers…which leads me to ask in the anon 9:31 Millenial knew Alan THICKE? Pretty sure my elder Millenial (40) would because we watched Growing Pains when she was a kid. I didn’t know SRIRACHA is mixed with mayo but that went in quickly when I had SR.
Surprised at comments on SLICEDBREAD because THAT was my favorite answer in the puzzle. Haha @Nancy…I get your reference but I have to believe that getting your bread pre-sliced WAS pretty amazing one hundred years ago!

EdFromHackensack 11:07 AM  

YOINKED???? never heard of this. MARE? I never heard of this in this context. DEfER before DETER and Velva before VITAE. this was a challenging puzzle. EAGERBEAVER went in off the E. ILLBEDARNED went in with just 2 letters in. DEADBATTERY was a great misdirect and even had DEADBATTER_ before it dawned on me . Took me far too long, but finished.

JD 11:13 AM  

I'll Be Da(mned), re. Vidal, I've always said don't mistake a prick for a dumb ass and vice versa. The former won't care if they cause a problem for you, the later has no idea they could.

This puzzle was near impossible for me. I didn't know Yoinked and wish I didn't now. However, I recognize it's a great puzzle and today just wasn't my day.

Whatsername 11:20 AM  

Saturday tough for me in places, primarily the trivia. YOINKED and FENTY were unknowns which I FIGURED I j had not ever seen before, and SRIRACHA is in a whole other LEAGUE than what I mix with my mayo. Really disliked the clue for 31D. The combination of those two words generally has very little to do with actually being SMART enough to win an argument.

@RP: Thank you for your generosity in allowing all of us to brag about our fur babies and for the opportunity to see everyone else’s. I have loved every single one of them and your clever captions which added so much to the ARRAY. What a beautiful group of critters we had today. Tommy the cat is almost a twin for my Tommy Boy who looked like a miniature lion. I’m hoping this will become an annual holiday tradition.

GILL I. 11:23 AM  

No wave click today. Good gravy.....I wanted to say that I think I YOINKED.
OK, so @Rex is tortured by quotations clues (so am I); may I add ALL clues that have any sort of "Airer?"....
Do you know how many times I had to put this down, walk away, come back hoping for some WONDER BREAD? Of course you don't, but it was around a dozen times.
Oh wait! I had PLASMA before going to bed.
So Peet and I try this again in the early AM. Skritch scratch. Something big like EAGER BEAVER went in....So did SMOKE ALARMS. ILL BE DARNED....Are you right? I guess so.
Try for the little ones. I got some here and there. I cheated like hell. I can't spell SRIRACHA. What a way to clue GODOT. The D gave me something DEAD for the concern of the 1%. What the hell? I had DEAD LETTERS. Then I'm thinking why only 1% of the people on this earth are concerned about some dead letters. Gaah.
I finally finished with a lot of help. I don't like doing that. Friday is my favorite day. You make your cluing so difficult and obtuse that it becomes like that little ANT on a farm trying to haul a bale of hay onto the back of the REAPER.
Not my cuppa....

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Oh I Think everyone here believes you. If anyone is an expert in smugness and self-serving commentary it's you.

egsforbreakfast 11:26 AM  

"Dark side of the moon" is the opposite of a SMARTASS clue IMHO. But maybe I was just a bit edgy because I smoked a joint before starting the puzzle, and REEFER SMOKEALARMS me when I TRIP.

If you're clever enough to win every argument about alley-oops, you get a SMARTASSIST.

Tough puzzle for sure, but I never had to GOSOLO as to cheat, so IFIGURED I SECEDED. Thanks for a good time, David P. Williams.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

This puzzle was atrocious and impossible for me to finish. The NW alone was a Saturday. I still don't have a clue what GODOT means, and at this point I don't care. Plasma TVs don't even exist anymore, but I guess that goes along nicely with outdated clues like Alan Thicke (???!?). I guess Growing Pains was relevant in the 80s, but forgive me for not remembering actors who were popular when I was 2 years old. "Superficially clever" is not equal to CUTE, and "AD SITE" is not a thing. Ugh.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

this was more difficult than usual for me for Friday. Probably and extra 15 minutes. Really stumbled on Dotted Lines; that's a signature, no autograph. Delay? Defer? Deter! Loved Sliced Bread, fell into place immediately, no crosses. Perfectly clued. Then Smoke Alarms came just as quick. Really liked Hanson's Razor, Gore Vidal. Aorta was gimme.

Grammar dilettante 11:39 AM  

@Rex, I can see wanting a comma before the last part of the Vidal quote, but it wouldn't be a serial comma, because "and not giving a damn" is not the third item in the series of things you are knowing. I think the potential comma would be coming between the first and second parts of a compound sentence.

beverly c 11:40 AM  

Well, this puzzle ran me through the Wringer. 😉 Especially the NW, where I finally had the app reveal PLASMA. I was expecting some TV program ad-speak, or show title. I wanted “pay up” for “Not stiff at all” instead of AGILE.

Generally I agree with @Nancy re the clues not playing fair. I don’t mind vague, but make them grammatically correct.
I wrote in SLICEDBREAD - the first answer I wrote in after APE - even though Wonder should have been capitalized. Also, a lake is not a side, etc.

I ended with an error at the cross of THICKE and TBS. Why not C?

The answer that made me smile when it became obvious was GODOT. Oh, and EAGERBEAVER. Generally I agree (PREACH?) with Rex re quotes, but MALICE was good.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Hello from the anon 9:31 millennial! I did know Alan THICKE, though I’m more familiar with his son (via his song that every millennial hates, Blurred Lines). I never watched Growing Pains but I knew he was in it at least through cultural osmosis!

MetroGnome 11:50 AM  

IOS/SRIRACHA = Natick; had no idea what a DEAD BATTERY has to do with "1%" of anything; hence, couldn't decipher YOINKED from the answers that were knowable.

Cheerio 11:55 AM  

I don’t see how PREACH is an answer to “Amen to that”.

jazzmanchgo 11:58 AM  

Have to admit I thought Eve ENSLER was pretty much a gimme. "The Vagina Monologues" was something of a game-changer in its time (even if its "time" was a few decades ago), and I'm a little surprised it isn't more common knowledge among relatively educated folks at this point.

beckiwithani 12:03 PM  

This comment made the whole miserable puzzle worth it for me

Grammar dilettante 12:05 PM  

@Rex: I first thought that you were wrong in saying that the comma you wanted in the Vidal quote would be a serial comma, because "and not giving a damn" is not the third in a series of things you are "knowing." But then I concluded that you are right, and the problem with my analysis is that Vidal failed to use parallel structure. He should have said "knowing who you are, KNOWING what you want to say, and not giving a damn."

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Totally agree that very selective Googling of clues you’re absolutely clueless about turns most tough puzzles into a pleasure. No different than a golf handicap imo, and in the end I’m convinced it eventually hones your overall skill level while greatly increasing game pleasure.

jazzmanchgo 12:18 PM  

@Cheerio: If someone is saying something you heartily agree with, you respond with the encouragement, "PREACH!!" It means, "Yeah! Keep talking -- You're speaking truth!" Technically it's a response ripped off from the Black church, but it's become so common that I don't think it'd count (anymore) as cultural appropriation. That being said, though, it's very difficult for white folks to use it and not sound silly (trying to be hip), so I'd probably recommend against it.

beckiwithani 12:23 PM  

It’s the interjection “PREACH(!)” — called out to emphasize enthusiastic agreement with the speaker

jb129 12:30 PM  

I got a late start today & then this....

Very, very hard & not to say I didn't like it would be putting it nicely & an understatement.

Should've gone back to sleep.

jb129 12:31 PM  

Oh, & YOINKED? Give me a break!

jae 12:39 PM  

Yep, easy-medium except for the NW which was the last to fall for me. PREACH and PLASMA took a while plus glib before CUTE. Also DEfER before DETER. A bit of crunch and quite a bit of sparkle, liked it.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I, too, thought of Aqua Velva. Shows my age!

Masked and Anonymous 12:42 PM  

day-um. M&A felt like a kitty caught in a Christmas tree, for most of this solvequest.
This puz definitely had Jaws [of Themelessness in foursomes, btw].
Only 4 ?-marker clues?!?! Felt more like about 33 [out of 66 total].

GODOT (mostly how to spell it, but the clue was pretty vague, too)
VITAE [wanted VELVA].
plus, no-knows, as clued:
DETER [wanted DEFER].
MALICE [as quoted].
STYLE [as quoted].
AORTA [as branched].

staff weeject pick [of a mere 8 choices]: GEM. Was real partial to its ?-marker clue.

M&A's one outstandin, E-Z gimme moment: EAGERBEAVER. Got er off the EA+… That after expendin a yoinkfest of precious nanoseconds in the brutally cold NW, tho.

Thanx for the utter AORTA CORER of a FriPuz, Mr. Williams dude. Total REEFER MALICE. har ... actually, it was a great constructioneerin feat, especially in that there central longball explosion. But them clues sure made m&e GOSLOWO.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

p.s. A moment of silence, here … for @Nancy darlin's punctured wall, likely.

how'bout a real biter, for dessert?…

jb129 12:42 PM  

Question -- when you cheat, Google, or come here - don't you lose a lot of whatever you've already filled it? Is there a way not to?

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Hardest puzzle in forever for me NW corner took my probably 2-3x my average overall solve time. Just couldn't get anything to fit. Thought it might be my streak-ender. Lots of maybe-this-or-maybe-thats to sort through. easy read, or fast read? You, ewe, or vee? Tryied 'pay up' for 'not stiff'. Wily for clever. Airline is too long for 2D, cheers doesn't fit 1D. 3-5D...???

My head hurts a little. Nice job, DPW!

KnittyContessa 1:03 PM  

I found this challenging. I had to walk away twice before everything fell into place. I always find it fascinating when you come back to a puzzle after abandoning it and it becomes so obvious.

I, too, thought the NW was the toughest. At one point, I began to question APE.

Didn't know either of the quotes but enjoyed them both, especially the Vidal quote.

okanaganer 1:14 PM  

As Rex hates fill in the blanks, so do I despise "[Show I've Never Heard Of] airer" clues like 35 across. I never watch the show, but if I did I probably wouldn't remember what damn network it's on.

This was like a tough Saturday, taking me over 30 minutes. I had every single typeover that @Wanderlust 6:57 am lists. Every single one! AQUA ____ was a roadblock because I tried VELVA then VEETA because I was thinking of VELVEETA which is embarrassing.

[Spelling Bee: Thu -3 so far; congrats puzzlehoarder.]

johnk 1:17 PM  

I join with others who argue that MARE is not a "side", with or without a question mark.
Otherwise, there were far too many WTFs for me. Is the beach really where we read? Is that why we go there? I've never understood phrases like "summer read" or "beach read". What a horrible place to read!
YOINKED? Really?
JONAS is completely out of my wheelhouse, as is FENTY.
SHINE ON? Really? What odd subset of English speakers say or understand that?

Gary Jugert 1:17 PM  

Not a bad puzzle, you know, for a Friday. Impossible to get started, but eventually all my wrong guesses worked themselves out. Those long middle six are delightful, but Wonder should have been capitalized.

I love YOINKED soooo much. Added to my favorite word list between BODEGA and BUOYED ... a high honor.

I hoped maybe y'all who didn't get underlines yesterday would be reporting you got 15¢ back from the Gray Lady today. I know so many planned on quitting forever over such travesties. It was a surprising problem we didn't seem to have on Android. I worried a few were melting down and I feared you might become rash and cause a FUROR.

Tee-Hee: "Tee"-HEE, those SMARTASSes. Well I'LL BE DAR(M)NED I think they're on the REEFER at the NYTXW headquarters.


1 Help your brother-in-law move his gigantic old TV.
2 What replaced meeting a guy named Steve in a dark parking lot.
3 Republican bumper stickers.
4 Same old insect sauce.
5 Spicy dude who promises the government'll have to pry his hot sauce from his cold dead hands.
6 Tithes.
7 Cast of RuPaul's Drag Race.
8 Troll in the Amazon reviews.
9 Mock the self-care fad.
10 The buzzing in my head I once believed was creative genius and now realize it's just me trying to justify eating more carbs.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: Grabs the toupee and yanks. ACTS ON RUG USER.


Anonymous 1:25 PM  

175 % of my friday average. the fact that i solved it clean is my only take away. definitely not medium by my data.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

All of which are part of the gestalt of what makes this blog so much better than any other crossword blog.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Yes to defer

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

VITAE, MALICE, and YOINKED/THICKE eluded me; but with that help, it was fun.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Godot as in the titular character of Waiting for Godot, the play by Samuel Beckett. They’re waiting for Godot who is, supposedly, arriving as the clue states. It’s a very well-known play, even parodied in kids’ shows.

Sam 1:43 PM  

Basically skipped past the NE when nothing fell easily, breezed through the rest of the puzzle, put it away for a few hours, and then pieces the NE together when I picked it back up. Glad to find my experience was not unusual!

Sam 1:46 PM  

Sorry, I meant NW not NE

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Got hung up on 24A. Thought it should be defer.

Georgia 1:57 PM  

Yes, a Boomer answer! I also had to work around a slam dunk winner, American Cheese....

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

Extremely hard Friday. Had no ideas what many of the answers were even once I finished. So many write overs. I finished but it was rough going throughout most of it. I like a challenge but this was darn near impossible.

Joe 2:10 PM  

This was one of the worst puzzles I have ever completed. After I entered the final letter, I didn’t get the happy music. I made a few adjustments until I got it. What a slog. Horrible!

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

GO SOLO made me think of the Tom Petty (RIP) song, “I Need to Know” which is never a bad thing.
(From the lyric, “The talk on the street says you might GO SOLO.”)

alexscott68 2:32 PM  

That NW killed me. The puzzle had lots of other clueing issues, but was Friday level for the most part. I had the entire grid complete with the NW empty but for APE and the partial ——READ. I had to laugh when I finally got PLASMA (TV). How long were PLASMA TVs even a thing, like 2-3 years? Is it even possible to get one anymore? I think their existence was more brief than Beta (VHS’s onetime rival format). First time I’ve had to leave the puzzle unfinished at breakfast and come back to finish it at lunch. All of the cluing in the NW was super vague, even the fill-in-the-Gore Vidal quote, which could have been anything. Only glad that I could finish it unassisted (though I’m not sure how you could cheat without just looking up the filled-in grid).

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Really hard for me, the north especially played like at least Saturday difficulty. 10 mins slower than my Friday average

JC66 2:47 PM  


You might find this Wiki article interesting. I did't know she'd changed her name yo "V".

burtonkd 3:11 PM  

I enjoyed this one, NW notwithstanding. I liked the MALICE quote, but not the STYLE one - it doesn't even really make sense unless you are pushing clothing or something.

YOINKED has been around for probably 30 years, and was coined for the Simpsons as a running gag anytime someone grabbed something stealthily and quickly. Interesting that it is having a run now in the collective consciousness. I believe it was in the puzzle recently also, although could be another outlet. YOINKED is much more playful than YANKED, which is just rude:)

beckiwithani - you are living up to your New Year's resolution today:)

btw - a reminder that people using this blog in a web browser don't see the comment reply chains, so without an @, they won't know what you're referring to. (Hi, RP) - I love seeing you mix it up with the rabble these days:)

Also, now that you've wanted LITHE twice this week, I'm betting on a double malapop appearing in tomorrow's puzzle.

ghostoflectricity 3:13 PM  

This puzzle was "cute" according to the designer's own definition. And I do not mean that as a compliment. Unbelievable in its use of obscure fill-in-the-blank quotes, natick-like crosses, and far-fetched definitions used as clues ("Set off" for "TRIP"? Give me a break). I've done NYT crosswords, daily and Sunday, for over 40 years (That would be in the neighborhood of 15,000 puzzles and counting). This is easily in my ten most-hated. I sure hope the constructor thought he was "cute."

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

This is hyperbole. Also if you trip an alarm you set it off. Basic stuff.

Michelle Turner 3:49 PM  

@ ghostoflectricity I don’t see how you can have a problem with TRIP for “set off”. You trip the alarm when you open the door without punching in the code.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Thank you. Lots of crying and misdirected anger today. This puzzle was hard but good.

NYtom 5:04 PM  

This was a tough puzzle without the NW, but that corner took it to a new level for me. Of course it didn’t help that I happily entered SOBER for 19A (Not stiff at all) and crossed it with ILLSAY for 1D (Amen to that!). Still cannot parse PREACH with that clue.
I agree that the cluing was way too CUTE, relying on withheld information rather than good honest misdirection!

Anoa Bob 5:17 PM  

So how do y'all pronounce the VITAE of AQUA VITAE. I'd bet a scoop or two of ice CREME that it's vee-tie, right? But it's actually vie-tee. Same with the tropical hardwood (and national tree of the Bahamas) lignum vitae. And my trusty hard-cover Random House Webster's College Dictionary has vie-tee as the first pronunciation of "curriculum vitae".

This was a good workout but I thought some of the cluing was a bit too CUTE. That did, however, prepare me for a slam-dunk on 40D "Towering sight at a site for a tower". I've seen this ruse before with "flower". So I FIGURED the first "tower-" rhymes with "power" and is a tall structure and the second "tower" rhymes with "mower" and is the function of a tow truck. And tow trucks will sometimes have a CRANE to lift the towed vehicle's front wheels off the ground. Does getting that one in SPEEDY fashion make me a SMARTASS?

I second @burtonkd 3:11 that using the "@" to indicate whose comment you are replying to is necessary for those of us using, in my case, a desk top PC web browser. Otherwise your comment will just hang out there and GO SOLO.

bocamp 5:22 PM  

Thx David; enjoying the workout, so far! 😊

Downs-o at the speed of molasses so far!

Over 5 hrs in, and only the NW completed.

Dropped in EAGER BEAVER early on, but was never entirely sure of it until I finally nailed the NW, which showed the 'EA' to be correct.

Saved this one as a .puz file, and checked the NW answers in Across Lite.

Have only a smattering of answers in the other quads (nothing I'd bet on, tho), so this will likely take the rest of the week, and may go into next week. Hopefully some incubation will bring inspiration. 🤞

Reminds me of many of my attempts at Sat & Fri NYT puzzes back in the '90s
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

Tom in Nashville 5:37 PM  

Challenging but made it through. Played like a Saturday for me. Couldn't sync up with the constructor/cluing.
Enjoyed it, though.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

Apple product was by far the worst. I put in Cider (which is an apple product) and wondered about Jinas. Ended up googling Kevin Jinas only to have it corrected to Jonas. Then Corer fell into place, but it is neither an Apple product nor an apple product. It's a tool. Apple tool as a hint would have had the same misdirect, but would have made more sense.

Pete 7:39 PM  

Did not like this one at all due to NW corner. I had “prayer” instead of “preach” and that caused all kinds of problems. The rest was challenging for me but got it with some effort

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

Thanks. I was completely lost on the “why” for that clue/answer.

dgd 8:43 PM  

Ditto. I dnf’d in the NE corner. I rarely miss so many words.
I am not into sports so I forgot what an ally oop was Went through basketball terms and of course it was the one I forgot. ( On the downs Fleur de Lys or Fleur de sel, couldn’t decide which) The only down was tremor.
Not the puzzle’ fault

dgd 8:51 PM  

I too briefly thought of American cheese but plasma finally made its appearance!
Also agreed that Rex didn’t understand the ad site answer. The pop ups are the lure and sites are where you end up.
Also Aqua Velva at first.
Got Vitae and league but a dnf in the NE for me. As I said above forgot assist!

Phil C. 9:08 PM  

Good god was this tough! Cheerleader instead of made a mess of the middle and seriously turned an already tough NW into a guess-a-thon. SE was also with also tough with two (well for me) misdirections in Fixed and Converse. Mare? Not fair! Kept my streak alive and the music sounded especially sweet last night when that Y fell in for Yoinked.

Anonymous 9:09 PM  

To say TBS is obscure is unfair to the puzzle makers: It is a cable channel that has been around for a long time. It is much less popular now but still. Just because we forget something doesn’t mean it is obscure. . .
This is Friday. Ensler is well known on Broadway and as a women‘a rights activist so she is not obscure. A puzzle solver might not know of her because they have no interest in those subjects but the answer is fine for Friday.
Thicke has been in a lot of TV shows. I don’t even know what he looks like but he is not obscure.
It was a hard puzzle but not unfair for a Friday

dgd 9:14 PM  

I didn’t know either fill in the blank. But I figured out style but not malice. Opposite Anonymous 7:25 AM DNF’d in the NW.

Anonymous 9:34 PM  

Put off has other meanings besides defer It is a misdirection Friday clue As someone above pointed out.

Louise 9:46 PM  

12 days of great pet pics - thanks Rex!

Nancy 9:53 PM  

Shortly after I saw ENSLER's shrill and very one-note "The Vagina Monologues" -- truly one of the more excruciating experiences I've ever had in a theater -- a female friend asked me what I'd thought of it. Here was my very brief review:

"It tells you much more about the vagina than you want to know."

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

About easy read at a beach I absolutely hate reading on a beach. I never do. But millions of people do. Perhaps you hate it so much you haven’t noticed.
Also the term is also used for books you read at the beach , that while on vacation at a beach resort. So I have read books at the beach but NOT on a beach. Both work for the clue. Nothing wrong with it

Anonymous 10:06 PM  

Apple product? Not Apple product. Hint that it is a misdirection. Standard for the Times puzzle
An apple corer is a product for apples. I am not even sure the? was necessary English does have that ambiguity.
Nothing wrong wrong with the answer

Anonymous 10:16 PM  

Had ALIVE for not stiff at all and now thinking that would be a good clue for that answer.

Anonymous 5:36 AM  

Shrill and one-note, you say?

Anonymous 8:40 PM  

For a long time I had "cheerleader" for "Enthusiastic sort" because it had the same number of letters, and most of the same letters. If I'd thought of "Eager beaver" first, that would have been the more obvious solution, but there was little of the obvious in the clueing.

spacecraft 4:35 PM  

This is one of those puzzles which, clearly, the constructor does not want you to solve. You achieved that goal, David. I managed the SW and thought I was on the way when SMOKEALARMS went off. with JONAS and JUDO riding on their tail.

But then...nothing. That's as far as I ever got. DNF, badly.

Thoughts on seeing the solution: too many to list, but a couple. Using "the" with 1% is a really mean-spirited misdirect. (For myself, I never allow my phone to get under 50; it's easy enough to stick the charger cable into it.) And then the lower-case "wonder" for the [groan] bread. Please.

Wordle par.

Anonymous 7:44 PM  

Horrible... Yoinked? Such utter dreck should never be in a NYT crossword. Bad edit by Mr Shortz.

Diana, LIW 8:16 PM  

I got some of it. Most of it. But got really stuck in the NE corner for some reason. I blame ASSIST for not assisting me. (It's a sports thing.)

Oh...that one percent. (don't have a cell phone...)

Lady Di

Burma Shave 9:17 PM  


I'LLBEDARNED if she ain't DEAD,
IFIGURED, "Not my STYLE, I'LL leave her",
but CUTE and EASY will get BREAD,


Don Byas 9:52 AM  

I didn't like the clue for DEAD BATTERY. I'll cosign Nancy' comment above, "A person (who has "concern") is not a "1%". The DEAD BATTERY (which has no concerns at all) is the 1%. And it isn't even dead yet."
The long fill is very meh...DOTTED LINES and SLICED BREAD don't really inspire you to construct a puzzle, do they?

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

Taylor Swift. Just what I needed to see after last night's frustrating Super Bowl loss.

MY least favorite clues are the ones that indicate made up or misspelled words. " slang" for instance. So with no idea about 34a and 39a I was looking at DEAD BA_ _ER_ on that 1% clue. I wanted so badly for that to be DEAD BALL ERA but no matter how many times I looked at the clue I couldn't get that to work.

I finally settled on DEAD BANKERS knowing full well that was wrong but it was funny and I was ready to throw in the towel.

Has DEAD BALL ERA ever been used? Constructors, let's work that one in please. Because as soon as football season ends it's baseball season.

tonyd 10:01 AM  

Rex must have been in a good mood today as he didn't blast this disgusting puzzle that should never have gotten past Shortz. Many puzzles have one clue in them that is just plain wrong but this thing has six !! It's OK to have clues that are tricky or misleading but the clues for MARE, CUTE, PREACH, DEAD BATTERY, I LOSE and SMART ASS are all wrong.

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