Hair Lighting Technique – The New York Times

PUZZLE FRIDAY – Let’s say you’re trying to improve your solving and have managed to push yourself to the point where the themed puzzles are starting to get a bit boring. Sure, Thursday themes are fun, but do you have the guts to make the jump to Friday’s unthemed crossword fare, which happens to be the second hardest puzzle of the week?

Of course yes. There is nothing to fear here. In fact, this crossword puzzle by Erik Agard and Brooke Husic is a great way to take that leap. Your grid may look a bit different because it uses mirror symmetry (as opposed to diagonal symmetry), but you’ve probably seen it before. The tracks are more difficult, but there’s nothing here you can’t handle, even if you don’t solve it in one shot or need the junctions to help you.

You have this.

Let’s take a closer look at this puzzle after the spoiler alert.

First, I would like to say that this puzzle had me on the 20A WEIGHTED BLANKET. I love mine, and I sleep so much better because of it. The theory behind the blanket is that light pressure on the body can help calm nerves and reduce anxiety. You also get a decent workout when trying to fold it or carry it to and from the washing machine.

WEIGHTED BLANKET is combined with 51A’s HEAVY SECURITY to form a fun “temalet”, which is not expected on a Friday but gives the puzzle a classy touch.

The best part about solving a puzzle without a theme is that the lack of a theme gives the builder more room to include long, shiny entries, like STREET FOOD, CANDY HEART, IN ABSENTIA, HASHTAGS, and BALAYAGE. I knew about the highlights technique, but I struggled to get the whole word out of my brain and into the puzzle: “AGE… BAYAGE… BALAYAGE!” Thank God for the kind crosses.

17A. In this puzzle, the “Musical Group” is not a band but a classification. The answer is HIGH.

23A. If you haven’t seen the 2019 movie “Parasite” yet, stop what you’re doing, find it on a streaming platform and watch it now. The film is disturbing but brilliant. Actress LEE Jung-eun played the role of the housekeeper, Moon-gwang.

24A. A synonymous phrase for the track “’The word is…’” is THEY SAY, and yes, of course, I’ll play you a song from “Hamilton” that begins with that entrance.

36A. I’ll freely admit I looked this up. I’m not sorry because it involves Latin, and it’s Friday. I give myself a lot of slack on Fridays, and I can’t recommend that I do it highly enough. The family Leporidae consists of rabbits and HARES.

44A. Intelligent. “Office folder?” It sounds like we should think of a cover or notebook that contains a report, but this clue is about binding, as if to prevent someone from doing something. The answer is BUROGRAPHY.

1D. I love the clues in riddles. “Item is usually wrapped after purchase” is a SHAWL.

4D. If there were things I needed to learn as a child that weren’t included in my formal education, I could always rely on Monty Python to fill in the gaps. I first learned the word SNOG from the group’s “Britain’s Most Horrible Family” sketch, which I’d love to post, but the family really was horrible.

29D. Wow, this was hard. “Make a lead balloon?” It sounds like we’re making something that won’t fly because it’s made of lead (pronounced “lehd”), but we’re not even in the neighborhood with that assumption. The word “lead” (pronounced “leed”) in this track means to be ahead, and “balloon” means to expand or get bigger. So, “Make a lead balloon?” it really means RUN FORWARD.

33D. “Style Points?” It’s not about fashion tips, it’s about the dots on STILETTOS heels.

The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system and you can submit your crossword puzzles online.

For tips on how to get started, read our series, “How to Do a Crossword Puzzle.”

I’m almost done solving, but I need a a little More help? We’ve got you covered.

Warning: there will be spoilers ahead, but subscribers can take a look at the answer key.

Are you trying to get back to the puzzle page? Right here.

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