High Occupancy Vehicles

Robyn Weintraub starts our solving weekend off right.


Comments: 166

  1. I did this one in less than half the time that yesterday's took. It was about 15 seconds short of my Friday record, which I hit this past June. In other words, I did a Friday in a time which was about halfway between my Monday and Tuesday averages.

  2. Are you sure this is Friday? Finished this in record time. Fun, yes.

  3. Fun, but it did go by way too fast--more like a slow-ish Wednesday time for me. With a few letters in place, TOURIST TRAP, FUNNEL CAKES, GLASS CEILING, and WHO GOES THERE all fell into place quickly. They're great entries, though. Just wish it had lasted longer.

  4. @Liz B Two column photos from Cody, Wyoming in two days? What will tomorrow bring?

  5. I met Robyn at this year's ACPT, and she was a delightful, friendly, and humble person. That is the best reason to compete - so you can meet celebrities.

  6. Like others, I didn't find this Friday-level. This took me 13 minutes with no hints or corrections, and that's unheard of on Friday.

  7. @Tom Same here. 13 mins 12 seconds. That's better than my Wednesday avg I think.

  8. @Tom, @LJADZ I'm impressed! Your times are about that of my *Wednesday* best!

  9. Took me about a third of my usual time for a Friday puzzle. Definitely not Friday level. Fun but not challenging enough.

  10. For whatever it's worth, the challenge from those doing guard duty in the U.S. Army is "Who is there?" not "Who goes there?" In general, U.S. Army linguistic usage deviates deliberately from everybody-else usage. Pronunciation is often different ("oblique" is /oblike/, "cache" is /cashay/, etc.), and so is spelling: "endorsement" and "enclosure" are spelled "indorsement" and "inclosure," for instance. Wearing the uniform apparently doesn't set one apart enough.

  11. @Fact Boy Where does the clue say anything about U.S. Army?

  12. @Steve L, touché!

  13. In FB's defense, I didn't get the sense he was complaining about the clue, only adding a gloss. The other day, he had a comment that was quite amusing. Benefit of the doubt.

  14. loved AMSCRAY -- reminder of our Pig Latin childhood talk! Also spoke Egg-Latin!

  15. I also set a personal best time for a Friday. It was fun though.

  16. Pretty easy I’ll agree - but I did love GLASS CEILING and AMSCRAY. The best slang of this week, though, continues to be AIGHT!

  17. @Jeff As an under 65 (75?) I can't decide if I am more tickled by the presence of black vernacular or the consternation of those up in arms about it presence in these comments. Language evolves, and the xword isn't about dictionaries.

  18. I can’t agree more. If ridiculously archaic words like “DECOCT” are ok, then great new words like AIGHT are fine with me. As for peoples’ opposition to them, I can only say “ERMAHGERD”.

  19. @Jeff: I had no problem with AIGHT, but DECOCT is not "ridiculously archaic."

  20. Be careful in whining about an easy puzzle..... Saturday looms ahead !

  21. @Patrick TFW you complete what you thought was a correct puzzle but you're instead informed you have got something wrong and now must begin a tedious hunt if you want your streak to stick.

  22. @B and R Why did you make me Google TFW? I can Google some of the social media/texting initialisms without complaint when they're in the puzzle, but why in the comments?

  23. @Deadline Just boning you up for what's to come. You'll thank me in 10 years I reckon.

  24. I'm with those before me who went through too quickly. That's not to say that I thought it was too easy. I finished 19 seconds short of my best Friday score and close to 1/3 my Friday average. Wonderful long entries and agreed with sentiments of some such as the clues and answer for TOURIST TRAP, GLASS CEILING. Liked the clue for CLOWN CARS, LACE, INSOMNIACS. I had ADS for 18A but obviously it was wrong and because 50D was ADS as well. Why ADS for 18A? Mad Men, of course. Personally, I think that would have been a better (if sneakier) match because "Draper" is capitalized as the first word. For 55A, when I had the first two letters "IN" I thought it was going to be something like an INSIDERS (too short) or INSIDE PERSONS (too long). But INSOMNIACS turned out to be great. WAIT LISTED - I recall this was a category in Double Jeopardy in today's teen tournament episode. Some of the other entries remind me of a certain tweeter: CLOWN CARS, NO GOOD, GO APE, TAUNT, TEASES, RETROGRADE, IDLE (tiny) HANDS, and of course the clue for RISE, and CREPE scrambled. Anyhow, good puzzle, an easy-ish Friday - I wouldn't call it a Wednesday or even Thursday.

  25. I'll never see the words GLASS CEILING without remembering this: https://tinyurl.com/y9ku8amo Baby steps... Fun puzzle, but quick even for me - I am a poky solver on any day.

  26. The cleverness of the clues balanced the relative easiness of this one to make it a very pleasurable Friday. We'll expect more of a challenge tomorrow.

  27. @Wags Ditto. So much fun, so little challenge.

  28. This was one of the most fun puzzles in quite a while--chock full of great entries, starting with CLOWNCAR--and good for you, Robyn, for resisting cluing it "Presidential Cabinet," or more Friday-worthy, "Red Slate?"

  29. @The Whip "Presidential Cabinet" I could see. "Red State" is uncalled for. People in so called "Red State" are fellow voters and lumping them with any specific administration is precisely the "elitist" attitude that is divisive and alienating.

  30. @Wen It says SLATE, not state. I suggest you use pencil to solve--not pen, Wen!

  31. @The Whip Why do some people feel it is necessary to bring politics into a comment section about crosswords? We all, no matter what stripe, need a place to go to get away from politics for a while.

  32. It's always satisfying when the 'vernacularity' of a clue matches the answer like with '"vamoose!"'/AMSCRAY (outside of the pleasant appearance of pig Latin), and 'rep'/CRED. TIAS was a bit jarring to see where the gender was neutral and we'd expect TIOS, until thinking about it a bit, there are certainly other family members who might be related to Mom, so maybe we're just talking about aunts and not uncles (or cousins, offspring, etc.) as well. I've seen CONESTOGA before but it's never lodged well in my mind, so we only got that one when there was one or two letters left. Loved INSOMNIACS; it would have been even better with a head fake to something like AGORAPHOBE but of course it doesn't quite fit. Our time was well below average as well, but not a best of, either.

  33. @B and R Ditto your comments about CONESTOGA (a spelling challenge for me) and agoraphobe.

  34. Nice puzzle but about a Wednesday level of difficulty.

  35. The clues were clever, yet fair, and like most of you, it went down pretty quickly - less than half of my Friday average. It was a lot of fun to do. I do have to complain about the directional clue, because it could have been NNW just as easily as SSE without a point of origin; although with the plurals, SSE was the obvious choice.

  36. JayTee, Not knowing which of two (or more) "correct" entries the puzzle calls for seems a fair challenge on a Friday or Saturday. As you noted regarding I-77, the crosses made it obvious. I also needed crosses for TIAS over TIOS and PUPAE over PUPAS. Wen made a good case for ADS for YDS. Solvers not familiar with "Finding Nemo" may have needed crosses for FOOD over FOES. No complaint from me.

  37. @Barry Ancona Agree. I see those things with three-letter entries and references to (I usually think) highways numbers and know they're directions. Sort of narrows the field, but absolutely needs the acrosses. (My father was a long-haul trucker, but I'm not.)

  38. Like many, my time was unusually fast, but I enjoyed every second of it. Fresh, great cluing and just a very enjoyable puzzle, regardless of what day it is.

  39. That was weirdly easy - I didn’t have to look anything up and finished easy faster than my usual Friday time. I liked AMSCRAY quite a bit.

  40. Has anyone else had problems with the comment section freezing - not being able to recommend or being able to reload the page? This has happened to me a few times recently using Firefox on my Mac laptop.

  41. @Peter Jackel Earlier tonight I got a screen that said the comments page was unavailable. Hooray, it's working again (in Microsoft Edge).

  42. I, too, was only about a minute over my Friday best. But I started off slow! My biggest takeaway is that I’ve really gotta get myself over to SEANS Bar!! What a wonderful bit of lore that is!

  43. I was feeling pretty good about myself, setting a new Friday record time - then two things happened. First, I stumbled on the mini, and had trouble with 1A, 7A, 1D, and 3D. And, then, I came to the comments and find out that a speedy time on the main event was a pretty universal experience. Oh, well, I may not be special, but the puzzle was fun. I especially liked CLOWN CARS, TOURIST TRAP, AMSCRAY, and INSOMNIACS. Plus the matching clues at 33A and 40A. My biggest problem was spelling CONESTOGA - I knew the answer, but couldn't get the right vowels in the right spots.

  44. and ELKe As usual, Robyn's WIT provided many GRINS. I saw several high occupancy vehicles : CLOWNCARS ,CONESTOGA , SHIP. What I really thought about is that six Presidents have been members of the ELKS. Since only males grow antlers , no wonder they can pierce that dang GLASS CEILING.... During our three-day sojourn on the Olympic Peninsula, we saw many ELK XING signs , especially around Sequim (pronounced 'Skwim' ). Seems the local species, named Roosevelt Elk , likes to tangle with vehicles, whether high or low occupancy. Great fun.

  45. Some clever bits in here! Loved the cluing, though I admit I got stumped by The Good Times clue...a little before my time, that was! ;)

  46. @Sarah Not before my time, but very unmemorable.

  47. After I finish filling in a grid not quite accurately, I scan my answers for simple typos and other errors. US companies, celebrities, and slang often make me very uncertain. I ask any moderator to use a British English dictionary as well. I am using instances of British spelling as illustrations. I imagine that the order in which I solve clues is quite different to US solvers. The presumably easy seed words for US solvers are the hardest for me. I often forget that American spelling is different. MOULDS is not a 5-letter word for me. MOLDS was guessed after I had typed LENDS, IDLE HANDS, and ALE. ALE was also a guess after getting the A and the E. It was especially non-intuitive for me as I am a teetotaller (US teetotaler). Today, I had no idea whether CURAD was correct. I was sure that CONESTOGA must have been wrong, but the intersecting words looked fine. Early learning in Australia is PREP; not PRE-K. I had assumed that FUNNEL CAPES must be an Americanism. I guessed FUNNEL CAKES later. I had heard the phrase in a game. Luckily nothing else was wrong at that point. Another Americanism today was WAIT LISTED. That was one of the very last answers guessed, after I had many of the intersecting letters. CREEL was a new non-American word for me. I confess I used Google Translate for TIAS, guessing that the answer was a Spanish relative + 'S'. I enjoy these puzzles despite the additional layer of difficulty. After completion, there is a lot of web searching and learning.

  48. @Viranga Me too, Viranga. The ones with more Americanisms are always tougher, but still so much fun.

  49. @Viranga I'm amazed that Aussies, Kiwis and Brits can even do our puzzles with all the domestic references in them. (Of course our exportation of media should help.) You should, however, be or at least become familiar with American spelling; I'd think that educated Americans are familiar with British spelling and know that other nations maintain a lot of those differences. CURAD, however, you could be excused for not knowing. The largest brand of adhesive bandages, or plasters, is Band-Aid; so much so that we ask for a Band-Aid the way we ask for a Kleenex (facial tissue) or a Xerox (photocopy). CURAD is a brand that perhaps holds 5% of the market, and it's my impression that its market share is slipping since I was little. If you're interested in the differences among the various forms of English, I recommend the site https://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/ Very interesting reading.

  50. @Viranga The problem of “slang” and “Americanisms” in a crossword puzzle (for denizens of other English-speaking countries), has not occurred to me previously. Reliance (by constructors) on the weirdness given us by pop “music” (I use the word advisedly.) performers in selecting their names and/or selections drives ME nuts - and I’ve been here all along! (The present puzzle does NOT rely on these “cute” spellings.) It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t succumb to the temptation to purchase a book full of “Aussie” crosswords when I was there for five weeks - including Melbourne - a few years ago. Same thing applies to our visit to New Zealand this past February. G’day!

  51. CLOWNCARS and TOURISTTRAP were funny and quick ones for me, but TIAS, AMSCRAY, CURAD and CREEL were unknown words. CONESTOGA! Never, ever, heard it, which made that area pure bafflement for a while. I pencilled in COMEFIRST, which matches CO-E, and then fell over with the other crosses, and thought that TOURIST TRAP must be wrong. Touchy sort? / MIDAS was a nice one. There were a few classical references today - Caesar, a Latin plural, Midas and pig Latin. Always a pleasure to have some of those!

  52. @Kathryn CONESTOGA covered wagons were used in westward expansion during the American frontier days, and are taught about in elementary schools here in the US. They were the minivans of their day. It doesn't surprise me, however, that they are not well known on the other side of the pond.

  53. @Kathryn Oops, forgot to whom the first comment was addressed. I believe what we call a minivan, you call a people mover.

  54. @Steve L or a people carrier.

  55. I've been vegging out on old game show reruns lately. Here's a classic from Match Game back in the '70's: Gene Rayburn: "King MIDAS lost his golden touch. Now everything he touches turns to [blank]." Richard Dawson's answer: "Mufflers"

  56. @Alan J Alan, a funny skit on SNL (I can't tell you when) starts with the Game Show Network logo and Bill Hader's voice over: "You are watching Game Show Network. (You must be home sick with a cold!)"

  57. @CS I like it! Actually I am home sick at the moment trying to vocal-rest my voice back from the brink of viral laryngitis (so says the urgent care PA I consulted). Usually, though, I'm just home retired, and if I'm sick, it's mostly an acute case of nostalgia.

  58. Oh yes, this was a puzzle with GRINS and WIT. It had answers with spark (CLOWN CARS, GO APE, IDLE HANDS, AMSCRAY, FUNNEL CAKES, WHO GOES THERE, CANDY CANE, TOURIST TRAP). It had likable answers not often seen in puzzles (RETROGRADE, CONESTOGA, WAITLISTED, GLASS CEILING). There were no ugly answers to take the grin away. And it came with a grab bag of zippy cluing. Bottom line: The message I get from Robyn on her Fridays is, "I want you to have a good time." And I did. I loved this, Robyn!

  59. There were so many good, interesting things to encounter in this puzzle, as many have noted already. Enjoyable as always for a Robyn adventure. Retrograde tickled me a lot. First, musically: retrograde is when a melody runs backwards. A retrograde canon is where a melody is played or sung against itself backward: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUHQ2ybTejU (It's also called a crab canon because of the way crabs move.) Second, astronomically: retrograde was an important part of the working out of the solar system, since the planets seemed to start moving backwards for a time, then moving forwards again - finding an explanation for retrogression kept everybody busy for centuries. Conestoga also hit home for me, literally, as my childhood was in southeastern Pennsylvania. The local native Algonquian languages (including Lenape that appeared last week in the puzzle) have a certain rhythm and sound that made its mark on the place names: Conshohocken, Wissahicken, Tulpehocken, Conestoga, Onondaga, Wyomissing, Wyalusing, Manayunk, Passyunk, Analomink, Aronomink, Nittany, Kittanning, Allegheny, Youghiogheny, Lackawanna, Susquehanna...

  60. @David Connell Fascinating bit about the retrograde canon. The illustrative video made it clear what happens in such a piece. But I'd like to know, do the musicians playing backwards read the notes backwards, as if it were Hebrew, or are they provided left-to-right for them?

  61. @Steve L - In the original presentation of such canons, there is only the one line of music, with little signs to indicate where a following voice begins, and how it is to be read. There are examples where a single line is presented but with different clefs (changing the interval of the canon) - or with different time signatures (a mensural canon, or canon by augmentation / diminution) - or, in one case, the same music is read by four people, two reading upside down (one forwards, one backwards) and two reading rightside up (one forwards, one backwards). I often think of these canons when people here write about "well, that's just the constructor showing off!" - "Yes," I think, "yes it is. And it can be dazzling." When the composer doesn't make the solution obvious or explicit, it is called a Puzzle Canon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_(music)#Puzzle_canon That article appends a note from Thomas Morley, that sometimes the musical result isn't worth the effort of solving the puzzle - and I can't say he was wrong. When it works, though - it's amazing.

  62. @David Connell Threads like this are one of the reasons I come to wordplay. Fascinating! I love how classical composers played with music! Years ago I sang in a local choir, and the director was always having us do unusual pieces. One of my favorites was The Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, which we performed in an old classic theater with long sweeping aisles and a beautiful balcony. The vespers are written to accomodate a wide variety of orchestral and choral configurations, and our director decided to create separate choirs and place them on the left and right sides of the balcony, the top of both aisles, and of course on the stage. Choral surround sound! It was a truly awesome experience.

  63. OT: re: yesterday’s Wee Bee I question the sanity of a panel of judges that accepts BOBA and ABBACY (which I missed) and, for that matter, BANYAN and BAOBAB, (which I got) but rejects LOBLOLLY. I’d bet more people are familiar with the latter than any of the former.

  64. @David Meyers I missed BANYAN and BAOBAB, too, but they're trees, just like LOBLOLLY. I knew them all, but just didn't see the trees for the forest.

  65. SB Thread! 25 words - 119 points - no Bingo - 1 Pangram Bx3 Cx18 Lx1 Nx2 Ox1 4L 5L 6L 7L 8L 11L B 1 1 - - - 1 (3) C 5 6 3 3 1 - (18) L 1 - - - - - (1) N - 1 1 - - - (2) O 1 - - - - - (1) (8) (8) (4) (3) (1) (1) (25) Two slangy shortenings, one old-fashioned word, one that some might think of as a proper name (not Connell, btw...), but nothing that would be too odd for a regular solver.

  66. @David Connell The Bee is missing "convolve" and "convo". Just saying!

  67. @Liane - totes obvo! (^_^)

  68. @David Connell - a question for the record keepers: has there been a Bee where the required letter was not the letter for the highest number of initials (note today's extreme example)? If so, which letters?

  69. Wow. This was one incredibly clean and lively puzzle. Usually when I go to Xword and see what entries are appearing for the first time (or first time in the Shortz era), there tend to be a lot of awkward phrases or very unfamiliar factual entries. Today that list was: TREEHOUSES RETROGRADE WAITLISTED INSOMNIACS WHOGOESTHERE TOURISTTRAP GLASSCEILING and FUNNELCAKES And there were a bunch of other nice mid-length entries throughout the grid and a minimum of junk. It wasn't easy for me, but I finished it, so I know that means it was easy for everybody else. But geez guys, is that the only thing of interest in a puzzle? How long it you took you to solve it? I'll just go with 1a today for a music link. An old favorite: Judy Collins does Sondheim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGUlG1fTi0E That is not intended as a political comment.

  70. @Rich in Atlanta No, how long it takes to solve is not my only interest! I love fun clues and twisty answers. That said, when you have been doing the NYT puzzles for ages, there is a rhythm and expectation. You look forward to breezing through the M-W puzzles, dreading/loving Thursday tricks, and digging into a straightforward but challenging Friday. Head scratching on Saturday is the goal, because there is more time for it! So, as I have posted elsewhere, I liked the puzzle -- just not for Friday.

  71. @Rich in Atlanta First response: I'm on your side; how long the solve took is of absolutely no interest. Second response: As WP regulars (like you) know, I am a serious Stephen Sondheim fan, so I do like your link. BUT: I think Judy Collins did one of the least important interpretations of that song. I think that Angela Landsbury may be the most popular, and maybe the favorite of Mr. Sondheim himself. But to me the song is absolutely owned by Mabel Mercer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp_ReqMN-pQ We can, however, agree that it is a magnificent song, even among the best of Sondheim.

  72. Good puzzle! No esoteric cable star or sports figure clues. I appreciate that.

  73. @Kate And the misdirections, of which there was an abundance, were fun!

  74. Perhaps a Lincoln ClOWNCAR, honked Tom hilariously. Thanks Robyn, tweeted Tom thoughtlessly

  75. A lot of us finished just shy of our Friday bests - me too! I wonder if our bests were all the same easy Friday puzzle? I’ll take the Wednesday-like Friday - boosts my Friday confidence.

  76. @JoHarp My Friday best was 6/1/18.

  77. @Steve L 10/5 here.

  78. @Steve L That was one of my few fails. I had HOmEYS instead of HONEYS. :)

  79. A clean, strike-over and error free finish today. Rockin’ Robyn’s themeless was a breeze. I enjoyed the puzzle even if it did have an easier than usual feel for a Friday. Everything just seemed to fall into place...I am out the door and will peruse the comments tonight; a busy day on tap...Frankie Laine interviews another Frankie, the late TEENAGERS frontman Lymon. The famed 13 year old doo wop STAR from The APPLE enjoyed a boatload of precocious street CRED in the ‘50’s. https://youtu.be/q96ylFiQK_I Gotta AMSCRAY, Bru

  80. This one went pretty quickly for me. I picked up some of the misdirections early on like LACE and INSOMNIACS and a couple of the longer answers like CONESTOGA and IDLEHANDS were familiar. I had BULLY for 33A but it didn't fit with 26D which I knew was GAUL. That hearkened back to my high school Latin and Julius Caesar's writings of his conquests. Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est. I enjoyed this one.

  81. Shimmering, stylish, calm, confident, charming. I'd like to take this puzzle out to dinner. In my younger days I worked for a time in a circus, and during one performance there weren't enough bodies for the CLOWN CAR act. At the last minute I was pressed into service. Literally.

  82. Couldn't sleep so I did this delightful puzzle which was not as challenging as usual , something I ascribed to cultural atunement rather than just being easy. I notice, in Robyn's puzzles, an availability that makes me, somehow, nostalgic and happy.

  83. @HD Your last sentence expresses my feelings exactly. The last clue to fall for me was FUNNEL CAKES. I've seen them at the Saugerties Garlic Festival but I've never eaten one. Also I was stuck on fair carfare and not fair edibles.

  84. CLOWN CAR -- It was my first attempt and the last to fall and the best of the lot. And even though it went pretty quickly, it was still fun. I started with TOURIST 'spot' and then 'area' before TRAP. And the GL ____ at 20D made me first think of the GLASS my son recently broke at his wedding, but I realized that GLASS wouldn't lead it off. GO APE was a gimme after just READing the review of KING KONG on Broadway. Talk about a TOURIST TRAP!

  85. 1A tumbled easily today since my screen displayed the headline and photo for today's Wordplay. :-) It was JUST peeking up from the bottom. No biggie, as the downs would have led me there quickly anyway. Nothing to make one groan in this puzzle--good, clean fill with long downs that were fresh traversing the stacks in both NW and SE. My thoughts are with RBG today for a speedy recovery from her injuries.

  86. As a friend suggested: Surround RBG with bubble-wrap!

  87. @Mean Old Lady I will personally do the wrapping and carry her to the bench. And with all the painful memories of my recent six broken ribs.

  88. AMSCRAY brought back a nice memory. Years ago I was at a church whose tradition was to read the scriptures on Pentecost in as many languages as possible to evoke the sensation a hearing people speak “in tongues.” My contribution was to read in Pig Latin, and here is a link to the source I found, the only known translation of the Bible into that esoteric language: http://www.museumofconceptualart.com/ible-bay.html

  89. Sometimes it amazes me how you can fill in a long entry with an answer that fits the clue, but is wrong. This happened THREE times today, with "finetunes" for 8D's REDEFINES, "soundbarrier" for 20D's GLASSCEILING and the much more disgusting "friedbutter" for 21D's FUNNELCAKES. Luckily, WHOGOESTHERE fell on the first try. Great puzzle to start a long weekend!

  90. @Steve Faiella Fried butter? How?

  91. @Deadline Same question. but I am not interested enough to search online.

  92. What a beautiful puzzle! Lots of wordplay and answers we can all enjoy. (No one-named, one-hit singers from the ‘90s.) Googling was not necessary or even helpful. Even the comments are better, loaded with vignettes or a topic’s details in depth.

  93. Robyn Weintraub has become Friday's "Hostess with the Mostest." Each of her carefully crafted puzzles is so inviting and filled with such fun words and phrases, it becomes more of a party than a puzzle. Yes, perhaps a little easy for a Friday but so entertaining, who wouldn't want to attend to enjoy such a good time? I feel lucky to have been invited to Robyn's "party" today. I had a blast and am so looking forward to her next bash!

  94. Clever, imaginative cluing. Colorful, unfamiliar fill. Other than THELMA, absolutely no pop culture. A delightful puzzle from top to bottom. I bet GLASS CEILING, and the way it was clued, brought about many GRINS. Not to mention CLOWN CAR, TREEHOUSES and TOURIST TRAP. A word from this lifelong New Yorker about TOURIST TRAP, otherwise known as Times Square: The only time I'm ever there is when I'm going to theater, and I can't get out of there soon enough. WHO GOES THERE? Why tourists, of course. And not all of them by any means are going to theater. They are there because they've been told "it's a must-see, must-experience thing to do in NYC". No, it's not, dear tourists! It's the most crowded spot in NYC, largely because of YOU, dear tourists. It's the ugliest spot in NYC. It's the noisiest spot in NYC. This is a beautiful city! Stroll in Central Park. Spend time at both our rivers. Wander our colorful residential neighborhoods -- all so different from one another. If you insist on doing something touristy, get on the Staten Island Ferry. But skip Times Square unless you have -- or are getting -- theater tickets. Do we have a deal? Rant over. Thanks for a terrific puzzle, Robyn.

  95. @Nancy You just articulated everything I've ever thought about Times Square. In such an amazing city, why, oh why would that be anyone's choice?

  96. @Lizziefish Because it's iconic & people have seen it in films & on t.v. You could say the same about many sights in cities around the world but you wouldn't skip those.

  97. I will refrain from commenting on NYC but add - when my friends go to Paris I always urge them to visit Saint-Sulpice rather than Notre Dame - for the same sorts of reasons: more beautiful and less visited.

  98. As others have said, this is a wonderful puzzle: delightful clues and answers, clean fill, a joy to complete! Thank you, Robyn!

  99. I enjoyed the content -- especially "insomniac", "retrograde""treehouses" and "clowncars" and found the puzzle to be fun. I did as my fellow solvers advised and looked at the grid first and got excited by it. I expected it to be a challenging puzzle based on the grid. Wrong. While the early across clues were slow to fall, the down clues -- especially the long ones -- were fast. All in all, I thought this was a good puzzle, just for a Wednesday not Friday. I finished the puzzle lightning fast -- 13 minutes under my Friday average. A bonbon for sure, but way too quickly digested.

  100. @Liane - Interesting comment. I'm not sure whether it's gospel or not - but I belive in general the downs are made to be easier and shorter than the acrosses. Some people post about doing "across only" or "down only" solves - I've never really grasped the rationale for that kind of thing, but - whatever floats the boat. I can't comment about timing on today's puzzle because, embarrassingly, I fell asleep partway through. My Friday average will suffer for quite a while over this one....

  101. The stats thingy here tells me that I've been doing the puzzle every day for seven weeks. That makes me the NOOB of noobs (thanks Thursday), but it's just long enough that I'm starting to do puzzles from some constructors for the second time. I was excited to see Robyn's name this morning, having loved her AND WE'RE OFF/PERIWINKLE offering of a few weeks ago. Echoing others here, there's a charm to the entries that's hard to define. I love it when multiple entries work for clues & this seems more possible with Robyn's puzzles. I had "Hairstyles" for "Some high rise constructions" & was loving that, but TREEHOUSE is so much better. It's not nice to play favorites & I admire everyone here greatly, but Robyn, so far you're my favorite!

  102. Goodness! I guess I'm late, I'm late--76 Comments already. Maybe everyone else ran through this puzzle like a hot knife through butter--it was certainly a super-fast Friday. So many long gimmes were partly responsible, plus easy clues, and perhaps a touch of ESP--I've got your number, Robyn Weintraub! The solution to Frank Longo's Big Bee is out now--two pangrams last week! But why no URETER or FOREFOOT? This week's Spelling Bee has a lot of variety. And today the Wee Bee has an interesting--even daunting--array of letters. I had 20 words before the pangram emerged from the fog--well, it WAS 4 a.m., after all. I'm at Genius+, and that will have to do. Time to make cranberry sauce!

  103. I will happily do a puzzle this fun any day of the week. Having it on a Friday, for me, was great!

  104. Smooth solve today. It was a pleasure to work on... ...Er, play with. Very nicely done.

  105. Amazing puzzle. Going to have to look out for Robyn Weintraub going forward :) Glass ceiling was a particularly lovely find. DEFINITELY a cause for celebration, whenever that happens!

  106. What has happened to Friday? The last few Friday puzzles have been more like Mondays - almost fill-in-the-blank.

  107. As the parent of two little kids, I often refer to "the clown car of my life"; maybe not always overstuffed but certainly noisy, full of motion, and always something crazy happening. So that one fell quickly for me. A fifteen minute Friday is fairly rare for me but as that first clue demonstrated, I was on the wavelength throughout. Fun puzzle and some great clues. GLASS CEILING was my fave.

  108. Deb, did you ever write a column on the importance of word lists and/or computer programs in creating puzzles? In this puzzle Ms Weintraub mentions creating stacks and then going with her word list. A few days (weeks?) ago a constructor commented that while his puzzle look hard to construct it was actually easier than we thought because he uses a puzzle program and has a word list that he's been building over time. So what exactly is a word list and what does it take for a word to become part of a list? I imagine it's a word that has an interesting series of letters (letters that go with everything) or if a constructor has a penchant for tweeky words - like double letters or words with odd consonant placement (like 'gn'). Obviously this differs person to person, but is there a rule of thumb or vague guide that a constructor uses to think to themselves gee I should add that to my word list. TIA.

  109. Hi, K! That's a terrific question. A word list can be as simple as a written list of great entries you keep in a notebook, to a spreadsheet, to a sophisticated program that you build or that comes with a crossword software program. I believe that most constructors have an innate sense for words that offer sparkle to a puzzle, and they tend to "be on the lookout" for new ones. I haven't written a dedicated column about wordlists, but we do have a tab at the top of the main Wordplay page that sorts our editorial into different topics, one of which is Puzzle Making. There, you can find all of the constructor spotlights we've done (including their answer to your question), as well as our How to Make a Crossword Puzzle series, which talks a bit about how puzzle makers use their lists. You can find it here: https://www.nytimes.com/spotlight/puzzle-making

  110. @Deb Amlen Thanks!!

  111. I feel like I've caught Deb's flu, but probably only a miserable cold. I did the puzzle slowly and was pleased for a gentle but lovely Friday, thanks Robyn.

  112. @suejean Oh no, feel better! Lots of warm liquids and cough drops.

  113. @Deb Amlen. Thanks, Deb. Sounds like good advice and I hope it's working for you.

  114. @suejean Start w/a hot toddy. Repeat when called for and by all means SueJean, feel better.

  115. Very elegant construction, but the clue *Setting for "Siddhartha"* threw me off course in the north-east. The novel by Hermann Hesse is set in *NEPAL*, not *INDIA*. The clue in fact refers to a recent movie. Given that they are both 5-letter words, a further qualifier would have been most helpful. I also had *FOLDS* before *MOLDS*, both good answers, and I spent a long time wondering if, when and how FIDEL was "touchy" – I'm sure he was at times.

  116. @NICE CUPPA: the full title of Hesse's book is _Siddhartha: Eine indische Dichtung_. In English that has usually been translated as _Siddhartha: An Indian Tale_.

  117. @NICE CUPPA I also had Nepal bfore India for the same reason.

  118. A very enjoyable romp. I wonder if members of the NYC Tourism Commission are cringing at the dig on Times Square?

  119. Good Friday. Funny and fun and very clever.

  120. Our Aussie friends have inspired me to post a question: I love to work on the crosswords from the Hamburger Abendblatt: they're available free on line and they feature a good 30% of English-speaker/ French-speaker friendly clues along with 30% of "I passed German 4" clues. Yes, most of it is left unfinished by me, but it gives me a good challenge and a happy sense of accomplishment. What if this thread included links to puzzles that solvers could enjoy, from newspapers around the world, easy enough for a second-language solver, and easily accessible? I am the worst to start it off, since I don't know how to link to the Abendblatt puzzles...but - does anyone else have links to share, for any language, for puzzles that fit the criteria? Solvable, fun, but not so hard as to be discouraging? (and, obviously, including English-language but not USAish puzzles)

  121. @David Connell That's an interesting concept. Crossword puzzles are different depending on the country in which you are solving. In fact, I just wrote the Foreword for a book of crosswords in Latin, of all languages, from the editors of the Italian magazineHebdo Enigmatum. I'm not sure when the book is coming out, but you can find their website here: https://www.latincrosswords.com/

  122. @Deb Amlen - Thanks for the link! There was one memorable encounter I had in my academic days, with a professor from Hungary - where we had a perfectly pleasant luncheon conversation lingua latine because Latin was the only language we were both competent to converse in. My principal contact in Poland and I spoke Italian together, because - we could! I'm all in favor! Language is for communication. I do hope some of our posters - especially lurkers - might respond to my invitation with some interesting links.

  123. Having spent much of the past four or five weeks regressing toward the mean on time, it was nice to get a best time with this puzzle. I didn't even feel like I was solving quickly--many of the long clues just fell in place, and I didn't even notice the time until I finished. I also didn't feel the puzzle was too easy, but rather that I was in synch with the constructor--I often get a sense of a puzzle opening up for me at some point, and find myself answering clues with what objectively is not nearly enough data--a single letter or two on a long clue. Our minds are curious things, and for me, the combination of flow, intuition and playfulness is what makes solving puzzles delightful.

  124. @PuzzleDog I felt the same way. Though since I'm new to crosswords, I figured everyone else would have thought it a breeze.

  125. @PuzzleDog I found this one really easy too, even though it didn't feel that way while I was solving it. :-) I also got a PR (11:45 against my average of 25:13).

  126. @PuzzleDog I had the same experience. Ten minutes under average for a Friday. The long answers (WHOGOESTHERE, FUNNELCAKES, CANDYCANE, WAITLISTED, TEENAGERS), sprang readily to mind and others like AMSCRAY were familiar to me. I can only second your observation that "Our minds are curious things . . .".

  127. Did I imagine it, or was there some little animated Easter Egg in the puzzle app when I filled in CANDYCANE?

  128. @P T Withington Was it the animation that congratulates you when you've filled halfway through the puzzle and again when you're 3/4ths done?

  129. Maybe so. I must have never noticed it before?

  130. @P T Withington Those little progress things only show up on web browers, not on the Android or iOS apps.

  131. Somehow I've lived 62 years and never heard of CLOWN CARS. (I know, I must have had a deprived childhood.) So the fun of the opening entry was lost on me. I couldn't get too excited one way or the other about this puzzle. It fell fairly well for a Friday (nothing like the 15 minute solves reported here, however). Most of the entries were nicely gettable - the only other no-nows for me were CONESTOGA and FUNNEL CAKES, but they were easily derived from the crosses. At least there were none of those words that I will never hear or use even if I live to be AIGHTY. I knew RETROGRADE from its musical application though not from its astronomical application. While not exactly RETROGRADE, this little snippet never fails to amuse! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPwNwNdE7pE

  132. @Andrew Did you ever realize that the theme to Star Wars is just the them to Born Free Backwards?

  133. Robert, no I hadn’t. Good point.

  134. This is the first Friday puzzle we (my husband and I often solve together) have made it through without looking anything up or resorting to Deb's column for a few hints. The longer answers fell into place for me, and I, too, felt like I was in sync with the constructor. What a delight! A year ago I read Deb's "how to solve" column and decided to try my hand; couldn't make it through a Monday if my life depended on it. Now here I am, solving a Friday in 40 minutes. Cheers to the little things in life that make us feel so good about ourselves! And thanks.

  135. @Heidi Yay, you! Keep up the great solving!

  136. Faster and easier Friday than expected -- and no lookups. Good to have that once in a while ... but not too often. OK folks,what comes after Gen Z? Not a riddle -- just asking.

  137. @Dr W How about Gen ZZZ?

  138. @Andrew I hope not!!!!

  139. I would love to see a CLOWNCAR in an HOV+ lane!!

  140. @Robert Michael Panoff Would a vehicle transporting POTUS45 there qualify? (Pardon me while I slap myself...)

  141. I whittled away on this last night, making progress steadily and happily; ARGUED, TAUNT, IDLE HANDS and FUNNEL CAKE, what a metaphorically summery composition. WHO GOES THERE was the spine I worked off of, accordingly it was a stretch to get to SPA, with hiccups at MIDAS and THELMA. I went over time to get through without resorting to crutches, but it was worth it. Fun puzzle, daunting and approachable. Thanks!

  142. Living as I do at the south end of I-77, my answer to that clue was NNW.

  143. Sam, The good news is you get less snow than Cleveland.

  144. @Sam Baker I'd say you should have realized it could go either way and checked the crossings. I, living in NYC and unfamiliar with I-77, had only the parity of the route number to guide me, leaving NNE, NNW, SSE, and SSW as possibilities. The two plural clues at the top quickly eliminated the first two, but it took a while to determine which way the road slanted.

  145. and Elke Normally I urge people to look forwards, but today I suggest a RETROGRADE step. Leapy's comments on yesterday's GO WEST puzzle provide her (usual) WIT and elicited my GRINS.

  146. @Robert - strange you should say it, but hoping to see a Leapy Special always prompts me to revisit the previous day's comments!

  147. I saved the puzzle all day, looking forward to a long and pleasurable solving effort. What a disappointment to be done in under half the time a Friday puzzle normally takes me.

  148. Hi Susan, I hope you'll come back here to report your next pleasurable solving effort. In the meantime, why not console yourself trying some archived Fridays?

  149. About an hour ago, I posted a comment about how nicely the comments system was working these last few days. And now.... Loading.... Loading... Loading... blah blah blah.... I even knocked on real wood, and I don't mean metaphorically, I mean really!

  150. David, The emus were probably on a dinner break.

  151. What comes after Generation Z? Are they the last to be named or do we wait to see who they look like before picking a name. I’m a Baby Boomer. My sons are Millennials (though they don’t think they are). With all the zombie movies maybe Generation Z should have been saved until the Zombie Apocalypse. This was a great puzzle. Really got me thinking... ;-)

  152. @Just Carol The Last Generation might be their name, if the UN is right.

  153. Like many, found this puzzle both very entertaining and very easy. I loved the major entries, which were sparkly and exciting and lots of fun. Too much for me to say here, since I have come late to the Comments. Let me just say thanks for the fun, but I do want to see more challenge on a Friday.

  154. Hello, I am new here, though a longtime (albeit not very accomplished) puzzler. Can someone please tell me what it means to say a puzzle has "a clean grid"? Thanks!

  155. @Darcyst my opinion, but it means there aren't a lot of little "pieces" of short words with interspersed black grid spaces. You look at the grid before you fill in anything and (some people) say "it looks clean." Art is in the eye of the beholder. Cleanliness is next to gridliness.

  156. I think most critiques of puzzles use the word "clean" to describe one with a minimum of things that are not "sparkly" on their own (interesting, stand-alone strings of letters) - so, a clean grid has a minimum of partials (I AM, or THE WALRUS) suffixes or prefixes (ENE, ECO) foreign words (SIE, TIOS) or "crosswordese" (ERN, ORC, EMU).

  157. I loved it, and it was the perfect combo of funny and difficult. CLOWN CARS, TREE HOUSES, so funny!

  158. I have to agree with those who found this puzzle much easier than usual for a Friday. Bit of a mystery though why a puzzle with such nice, clever entries should be so much easier than others.

  159. I LOVED this puzzle! So happy to see Glass Ceiling appear! The puzzle was clean and sweet, a real treat. It felt like it was written for real people like me, without a lot of trying-too-hard nonsense to make the pieces fit. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you, Robyn! Here's an idea that might be totally impossible. I was watching the Women in Comedy episode of CNN's miniseries The History of Comedy. There's so much serious S**%$! in the news right now. Could there be a puzzle created on a comedy theme? Where the clues were the set up, and the answers were the jokes?

  160. Wow never heard of amscray in my more or less 30 years of speaking English. Spellchecker flags it too!

  161. @MP I guess Pig Latin doesn't qualify as a "foreign" language, so no revealer is required in the clue. Appropriate enough, I suppose, that the clue is mangled Spanish defining an answer in mangled English.

  162. Odd, this paper never celebrated Carly Fiorina when she broke the GLASSCEILING. Quite the contrary.

  163. What do the little rising balloon/bubble comments say? Sadly, they pass too quickly and are too tiny for me to grasp