I fought with this puzzle hammer and tongs! Total solve time was 1:13:27 - yes, you read that right: one hour, thirteen minutes, and 27 seconds. On the upside, I did finish it and without errors. So, YAY, me, I guess. Today's experience is another entry in the mystery of what makes a puzzle easy or hard. When complete, it's not as if I didn't know most of the people, places, things, and phrases that filled the grid, but rather that the clues didn't match up with the answers in my head. It seems that the David Distenfeld's and my respective wheelhouses DIVERGE almost completely.
Very little of the puzzle went smoothly or easily for me, so as a way of listing problem areas, I could just copy and paste the entire set of clues - all right, maybe I'm over dramatizing - slightly. :) But, I've never seen "Dear Evan Hansen," I've never heard of Nicole ARI Parker, or Snowbird. I'm not sure why NOWMORETHANEVER is a (the?) lead-in to a grave pronouncement, I do not remember Princess ATTA from "A Bug's Life," I didn't know that TRAINSETS came in eight-track versions, that Champagne PAPI is one of Drake's nicknames, that STERE is a unit of firewood, or what the main ingredient is (TUNA) in tekkadon, a dish I've never heard of.
This is not to say that any of the above is unfair Saturday (or any day) puzzle material ; it's just to provide a glimpse into the befuddlement of this particular solver on this particular day. It's possible OKBOOMER ("Modern-day put-down popularized by a 2019 TikTok video") is apt in this case, but I don't take a TikTok video, so I don't know, which is maybe why it is apt. Apt!
I did like RANTS for "Goes off". (See above :). Also, "The point of writing?" (PERIOD), "Stress specialist" (POET), "Not so common extension" (DOTNET), "Firsts in flight" (TESTPILOTS), "Nowhere near engaged" (BORED), and
"Complete a sentence" (DOTIME) - the latter being one of the few answers that did not leave me ATALOSS. I think that one, BOGGS ("Wade in the Baseball Hall of Fame), and FLETCH ("Furnish with feathers, as an arrow") were the only three answers that I completed on my first run through and can count as an INSTANTWIN. Oh, and with a little time under the thinking cap, I figured out MERE for "English adjective that becomes a French noun when an accent is added." C'est tout.
In sum, not a RAVE review, because reasons, but certainly not NOSTARS - there was plenty of good stuff to make ANISE puzzle for most, I'm sure. And with that, dear Readers, I RETIRE and leave you in the more capable hands of our friend, co-blogger, and speedy puzzle solver, Colum Amory.