TV's Ramsey / SAT 1-9-10 / Canterbury Tales charlatan / Collectible card creatures / E.T. follower / Its logo is rubber band ball

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Constructor: Chuck Deodene

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: DEVI (56D: Supreme Hindu goddess)

Devi (Devanagari: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, remains impotent and void. Goddess worship is an integral part of Hinduism. // Devi is, quintessentially, the core form of every Hindu Goddess. As the female manifestation of the supreme lord, she is also called Prakriti, as she balances out the male aspect of the divine addressed Purusha. (wikipedia)

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Another easy puzzle. Weird to have such brutality on Wednesday and Thursday, and then such light playfulness the next two days. Actually, if you didn't know PIERRE DE RONSARD, then yesterday wasn't so light, but today, there really isn't any one answer that should have held anyone back. Clues were typically misdirective, but in ways that seemed very gettable. I started this puzzle in weird fashion — by going from top to bottom with interconnected answers inside the first couple of minutes. ANNE (4D: Last of the Stuarts) to LONER (19A: Antisocial type) to RETRO (5D: In once more) ... reboot ... TRE (25D: 26-Across and 26-Across and 26-Across) (via UNO — 26A: Not quite none, in Naples) to OPTICAL (23A: Like some thin fibers) to ARSON (29A: Reason for a lighter conviction?) to PARDONER to NAVEL (46A: Popular piercing site) to VIE FOR (47D: Try to win). I then stared at the grid, thinking "well, you don't see that very often on a Saturday."

With the middle largely taken care of, I had nice routes in to each corner ... one of which, I figured, would give me fits. But (after a few moments pondering) DIPLOMAT (20A: Type with finesse) went in and handed me the NE. HELIPAD (41A: Where some touchdowns are made) and TREE-LINED (64A: Like many avenues) took care of the SE. SWALLOW (37A: Get down) and THE FORCE (53A: It has a dark side, in sci-fi) got me into the SW, and (finally) MOUNTIE uncovered U.S. *M*ARSHAL (1A: Fugitive-hunting Fed) , and the NW fell. Actually, I think the last letter I put in was somewhere in the SW, so maybe things didn't happen in that order. But they happened. Quickly. I'd be surprised if today's puzzle wasn't significantly easier than yesterday's for most people.

I was helped by some old (old!) crossword friends. I once got punched in the face by HEC Ramsey, but he and I are cool now, so that answer was a gimme (41D: TV's "___ Ramsey"). I spent the better part of a decade (the '90s) studying Middle English literature, and Chaucer in particular, so I consider the PARDONER an old friend (24D: "The Canterbury Tales" charlatan). Though the only Stones answer that was coming to mind at first for 7D: With 63-Across, 1972 Rolling Stones "greatest hits" album was "Rocks Off" (opening song on "Exile on Main Street"), I eventually got from there to "HOT / ROCKS." I balked at it at first, since I knew it was the title a. of a Donald Westlake and subsequent movie ("The Hot Rock"), and b. of an album by the rock band Sleater-Kinney (also, "The Hot Rock"). Again, time in grad school made Derek WALCOTT no problem (40D: Literature Nobelist Derek). And, staying with the '90s, I listened to plenty of Cranberries songs in my day, so "ODE TO My Family" was a piece of cake (55A: "___ My Family" (Cranberries song)).



I think my favorite answers of the day is POKEMON, as as plural! (42D: Collectible card creatures). I believe they began as a '90s phenomenon as well. My abhorrence of that decade is well known, but apparently I remember it So well that if you build a puzzle out of the remains of that decade, I will be able to beat it into bloody submission, no problem. Familiarity breeds contempt, I guess.

Bullets:

  • 15A: "E.T." follower ("phone home") — my favorite clue of the day. Thought maybe SETI, but too short.
  • 18A: Plume hunter's prey (egret) — where was I reading about some island in the Atlantic that some president (Jackson?) made into a sanctuary because birds were being hunted for their plumage, which was being used in lady's hats???
  • 30A: Like many smoothies (glib) — good misdirection. Couldn't get into the NE that way and had to go via DIPLOMAT. Had the "G" here and could think of "smoothies" only as drinks: "GOOD? GRAY?"
  • 58A: Its logo is a rubber-band ball (Office Max) — didn't know it, but a few crosses up front made it obvious.
  • 2D: Pennsylvania Dutch pie (shoo fly) — a molasses pie I've never had. I know a child's song, or part of one, that has "SHOO FLY, don't bother me" in it. Then there's this:



  • 30D: Percival caught sight of it (grail) — gimme that. Very medieval puzzle today, with GRAIL and the PARDONER and AMADIS (8D: Knight of medieval literature) and THE FORCE ... the Jedi are knights, after all.
  • 32D: Permian Basin yield (oil) — if it's a "basin" and it's "yielding" something ... come on.
  • 38D: Bronze Star recipient (war hero) — too many war decorations for me to keep track of. Had most of the crosses by the time I saw this, so it was No Problem.
  • 54D: 1972 A.L. Rookie of the Year (Fisk) — as in Carlton, the Doorman ... er, catcher. Hitter of one of the most famous home runs in MLB history.
  • 60D: Memorable 2008 Gulf hurricane (Ike) — not memorable to me. Guess you had to be there. Still, easy to get with a "K" in place.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

77 comments:

foodie 8:34 AM  

I thought it was a lovely puzzle, though I ended up with an error. I wrote LOCAL instead of NOCAL and wondered what kind of critter a PELICAL was... Oh well.

HEC was unknown to me, and PANATELA emerged from some deep recess of my mind. In general, the south fell easily and the north was more of a struggle.

See you all in about 10 days!

imsdave 8:42 AM  

I'm mad at myself for not liking this one more. It's a beautiful puzzle, but I prefer getting kicked around a bit more on a Saturday. Not officially timed, but I may have broken ten minutes instead of my more usual thirty.

sshowalter 8:53 AM  

Agree with "imsdave". Would've been a good Wednesday puzz, but a little weak for a Saturday.

fikink 8:55 AM  

A solid puzzle that should have run on Thursday, IMO. But then I would have gotten nothing done today, were I to attempt Xan's on this busy Saturday morning.
My favorite clue has to be "Like many smoothies" for GLIB; "Get down" for SWALLOW is a little too graphic for my taste; and the reference to a smoke for PANATELA is up there with cluing BLUNT in terms of a cigar, very clever.
Really enjoyed the puzzle, Mr. Deodene, and I'm thankful it was doable given my schedule today. (Gotta do all the things I didn't get done Thursday, thank-you-very much, Xan!)

Deborah 8:59 AM  

Meh, thought the Permian basin yielded OIL. Messed up that entire section because, sadly, I'm unread. Walcott? Canterbury Tales? Not so much. Arm for aid, swale up for swallow...

Elaine 8:59 AM  

Between ignorance of Hindu goddesses (Shiva--guy or gal? and Kali are the only ones coming to mind) and never even having heard of The Cranberries (except for the ones I cook,) I had a personal Natick in the SE. Add ANIMATE (LONE made a "real word" and I did not visit that clue) and you can see how I goofed that quarter up.

Learned AMADIS (new to me) today, along with DEVI (Thanks, Rex.)....but I do have a small quibble: PONES are emphatically NOT "cakes." Cakes are sweet, with a delicate crumb, and almost always raised (egg whites folded in, baking powder,) while a pone is fairly flat and crisp, and certainly not sweetened unless one drizzles honey on a fresh buttered slice. No doubt someone will chime in with an opposing definition, but I am resting my case on many generations of Southern baking and common usage.

Favorite clue: "Reason for a lighter conviction."

Since I finished with errors, everyone who declares this Easy heaps coals of fire upon my head.
(Exit, head bowed.)

Karen from the Cape 9:02 AM  

It's a nice breather after a brutal crossword week. I still had two errors, I should have caught the une should have been UNO, and I had PENUP, thinking that maybe Mr Fusk liked to eat popes when he was in the south (which I imagined were some moonpie-like food).

But I really wanted to say I hate the Cranberries. I tried to like them after my brother gave me one of their tapes, but that particular timbre of voice seems to grate on my ear.

Yoda 9:12 AM  

The Four Stages of the dark side

Stage 1: Temptation
Stage 2: Imperilment
Stage 3: Submission
Stage 4: Redemption/Atonement

"Be careful of the Jedi, Anakin. They fear you. In time they will destroy you. Let me show you the true nature of the Force. Only through me can you achieve a power greater than any Jedi. Learn to know the dark side of the Force, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death."
Darth Sidious to Anakin Skywalker

Dave in California 9:20 AM  

NE took a few minutes because I first guessed HENIN instead of SAFIN--but then I figured that PENIN (57a) and HENIN wouldn't be answers in the same puzzle, and things fell into place. I never like a specific brand (OFFICEMAX) in a puzzle, but I'll assume Chuck received no reimbursement for a product placement, and at least it wasn't a brand of fishsticks.

David 9:34 AM  

I seem to be adverse to any work longer than five letters as my starting point in a puzzle, for some reason. So while I thought USMARSHAL at the outset, with some hesitancy about whether it had two 'L's, like Thurgood, I went for ARGO and EGRET as my starting point - almost certainty there!

The rest emerged. Yes, compared to other Saturday efforts, it was somewhat easier, but still a solid, mind-challenging effort, and a good start to the day.

Karen 9:40 AM  

@Elaine - ditto favorite clue, made me smile.

Knew it would be rated easy only because I managed to fill in (although not necessarily correctly) more than 3 answers onmy first pass on a Saturday. Had eliot Ness for 1A, arm/aid, pier/slip, taste/promo, bee/tea.

The NE gave me the most trouble and so my pal google helped me out.

tptsteve 9:45 AM  

Perhaps it was the workout from the previous two days, but I was able to fly through 95 percent of this puzzle, which amazed me for a Saturday. NW fell easily as did the whole bottom and middle of the puzzle

NE caused many problems for me, not the least of which was because I had Amaris- think Aramis- for Adamis. That killed it for me, as well as not knowing panatela, which I will now never forget.

I thought the cluing for arson was great, but the clue for DIPLOMAT had me thinking about typing, fonts etc. Oh well. C'est la vie

Meg 9:46 AM  

The "smoothies" clue had me stumped for too long! Wonderful!

Having watched countless pelicans, I can tell you that they don't STORE fish in their pouches. They swallow them right after catching them. Would you want to stand around with a big fish flopping around in your mouth?

NARRATE for "Chronicle" seems a bit wonky, but I loved the clues for LEXICON and SWALLOW.

Not an easy in my book, but not the normal Saturday killer.

NYT 2nd Sunday is a cryptic! Yeah!

mac 9:49 AM  

I thought this was an excellent confidence builder. I'm with Karen about the Cranberries, because of the thin voice but also: ode to? Wanted "One to..." for a bit, but Devi saved the day.

The SW was the last area to be finished, because I wanted honoree for 38D and had "hem in" for a
while. All in all a nice puzzle with cute clues and answers, favorite of which: Pelican. Just last nite on one of the blogs I read the Pelican rhyme:

A wonderful bird is a pelican,
Hiss bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.

Rex Parker 9:50 AM  

If it is "not the normal Saturday killer," then it is, by definition of "Relative Difficulty," Easy (or at least on the easy side of Medium).

And I would have liked that ARSON clue ... on a Monday. Too too easy / old hat for a Saturday. ARSON is the most "?"-clued answer in the history of "?"-clued answers.

mac 9:50 AM  

Did I just write "nite"??

Dave 9:52 AM  

The egrets were protected in Everglades National Park in Florida. The Ken Burns National Park series spent a good deal of time on it, if that's where you heard it.

10 Miles 9:58 AM  

Plume hunting is used as allegory in Peter Matthiessen's brilliant Shadow Country. Best book I read last year, and I read a few.

Ben 10:02 AM  

Too easy for a Saturday but pleasant enough.

Meg 10:03 AM  

@Rex: the "in my book" after "not easy" meant that it was not easy for me. Disputing your rating is not something I need or want to do.

Elaine 10:05 AM  

@Dave
That may be where we heard about the egrets....It was rather after Jackson's Presidency, for sure. Egret nuptial plumes were popular around the turn of the century (the Other Century) as embellishments for ladies' hats; this meant the plumes were "harvested" from mating birds. It did not take long to drive the Snowy Egrets to the brink of extinction. They have made a good recovery, and rookeries exist in many areas (including Cajun country in Louisiana.) They are a breathtaking sight to behold.

@Rex
Aw, c'mon. Clues can be entertaining even if they aren't hard enough for a Saturday.

fikink 10:17 AM  

@10 Miles, thanks for turning us on to Shadow Country. I just read the NYT Review (April 2008) and it sounds like something I must check out.
I was thinking Faulkneresque before I came to it in the review.

TR 10:38 AM  

The first Federal bird reservation was Pelican Island.

chefbea 10:46 AM  

I didn't think it was easy. Was easier than most Saturdays though. Learned new words.

I've made Shoefly pie and I had it when we were in the Amish country a few years back. All their food is grrreat. Simple and good. I'll have to get out my amish cookbook.

PlantieBea 10:55 AM  

Smooth, once I let go of DEB for the social TEA, MILLOMAT (?) for the DIPLOMAT, and COLD for the GLIB smoothie.

Donning plumed hats has to be one of the more barbaric fashion trends we've had in this country. Glad the egrets were able to make a comeback after their near demise. Ditto for the brown PELICANS, nearly a victim of pesticide poisoning.

Favorite clue: "met the course standard" for SHOT PAR.

darkman 10:56 AM  

Didn't get anything till I came to the S, where I slipped in NAVEL and VIEFOR, which gave me the rest. The N was much harder, but, all-in-all, when I finished, I said, "Wednesday."

PlantieBea 10:59 AM  

Must add thanks to 10Miles as well. I just ordered Shadow Country from the library.

Nebraska Doug 11:01 AM  

I found this one to be much easier than the Friday puzzle, but I was one of those that didn't know PIERRE DE RONSARD. HOT ROCKS was the first answer I filled in and it was mostly smooth sailing after that. Feels good to completely finish a Saturday puzzle - even if it was an easy one - it has been a few weeks for me. Good way to start the day. Helps soften the blow of waking up to -11 degrees and two feet of old snow piled up on the ground.

HudsonHawk 11:05 AM  

Since both the Stones and the Cranberries discs in question are on my shelf, HOT ROCKS and ODE TO dropped in, and I was off and Rolling. Breezy but very likeable puzzle, with only a bit of slowdown in the NE.

deerfencer 11:10 AM  

Agree with the easy rating as I can rarely make much headway into a Saturday puzzle and got through this one without an error or major problem (or any Googling).

WALCOTT got me in, whizzed through the SE corner quickly, labored over but eventually got the opposite NW corner, and finished in the NE.

Didn't know AMADIS or DEVI but they filled themselves in. Agree the clues for ARSON and GLIB were highlights. Very agreeable effort--thank you Chuck!

Ulrich 11:13 AM  

@10 Miles: You beat me to it: The slaughter in an egret rookery is one of the most harrowing set pieces in Killing Mr. Watson (is Shadow Country the abbreviated version of the original trilogy?)--I stopped reading for a while, thinking "if it goes on like that, it's too much for me."

Ah the puzzle: To be able to finish a Saturday before going to sleep on several glasses of wine has been unheard of for me until last night--a special kind of treat...

lestat 11:14 AM  

too bad SAMGERARD and USMARSHAL are the same number of letters... a bad way to start the puzzle

Chorister 11:17 AM  

Zipped through the top half so fast I was thinking I woke up a genius this morning. Second half took longer, but still way faster than a normal Saturday. Some good wordplay, but over too soon.

My southern family refers to a pan of cornbread as a pone when we want to sound like hillbillies. Cornbread is the only thing we call a pone. I was fine with the clue.

On the side - For Christmas I was given a book of NYT Xwords that starts with the first ever NYT Sunday puzzle. There are several from that year (1942.) It makes me very cognizant of how the war was part of the fabric of life at the time. And, a very different type of puzzle than today. After a couple I had to skip to the Matt Gaffney near the back of the book. It was like coming up for air.

joho 11:19 AM  

Definitely not easy for me, but I did finish with no mistakes unlike yesterday (eAR!).

For some reason I ended up stuck in the NW which fell last. Now looking at it, I can't see where my problem was.

Nice Saturday, Mr. Deodene, thanks!

Safe trip, @Foodie!

Wade 11:29 AM  

Sixteen days without electricity in a house with a 3 and 6 year old, a swamp in the swimming pool, meeting neighbors I didn't know I had--yeah, Ike was memorable.

Doug 11:33 AM  

Had WHALE for the plume clue. Pictured Ahab scanning for water spouts....

Since I finished the thing I was predicting the EASY rating. I agree totally. I don't think it was as hard as Thursday and Friday in fact. Clueing was really, really good today.

Watching Everton v Arsenal and it's snowing like Lambeau Field there. All the snow makes the TV reception look like old time rabbit ears quality.

mccoll 11:34 AM  

After the mid-week train wrecks, it was nice to get back on the autobahn.
BTW, google autobahn if you want to see some amazing video clips where they have no speed limit.
This one was smooth, easy and satisfying but at the Thursday level.
POKEMON, SHOTPAR, and SHOOFLY were my favoutites.

"Shoofly pie and apple pandowdy
Make you eyes bug out and your tummy say Howdy..." Strange how the mind works.
Thanks REX and all.

Joel 11:40 AM  

One of the easiest Saturday in recent memory, and the only one I've ever done in under 20 minutes. Just moved through it very quickly, with gimmes like POKEMON, SHOOFLY, PHONEHOME, and IMEANIT. The last one was a repeat clue from my "Shot in the dark" puzzle, so I smiled when I saw that. I cant say it was too easy, because I like finishing a Saturday every once in a while!

retired_chemist 11:41 AM  

What everybody said.

the redanman 11:42 AM  

MUST! be the easiest Saturday on record - a record Saturday for me, I got the entire bottom 60% with no help whatsoever (way better than any Saturday before) and in about 30 mins. Then with 2 little peeks in the NW and one answer in in the NE I finished the whole grid. If I could have seen MOUNTIE earlier, was sooo dense there I'd perhaps have had the NW, too, but tried TIGER and WOODS in 10A to no avail (golfer here, DOH) and TRIAL for 16A but could make nothing work. I told my wife, it must have been tennis Open, looked it up and there it went.

Simple as this puzzle is for some of you, thanks to keeping at this blog, this is a real victory for me today. Have to read already posted comments, now.

We all have our relative victories. Now to build on it.

Two Ponies 11:44 AM  

I agree that it was easy for a Saturday but I did enjoy it.
The misdirections were clever but some of the other clues were very straightforward.
Like yesterday I managed to get unknowns via the crosses and learned a few things.
Chili and corn pone for lunch today!
37D was a nice shout out for our own Parshutr.
Bon voyage foodie.

Margaret 12:32 PM  

I knew before I came here that Rex would call this one easy -- but a nice ego boost for me to get a Saturday with no googles at all! Lots of stuff at the top took way too long (I think my brain may be frozen by 6 degree nights) but the bottom fell nicely with The Rubber Band Man song from the Office Max commercials popping into my head.

Interesting thought about the power of suggestibility: Christmas week I got behind on puzzles and went to the website on Saturday to pull up and work the Thursday puzzle. Well, force of habit I clicked on "Today's puzzle" and spent a good 15 minutes working the Saturday puzzle thinking it was a Thurs. But because I knew I could do Thursday level puzzles, I just worked right on through it w/ much less trouble than normal Sat. Hmmm. Sometimes it's better not to know?

ArtLvr 1:09 PM  

Very enjoyable today, while still a good workout -- I liked the EGRET and the SWALLOW clue, tried Penguin and Petrels before PELICAN popped up. Salute to T.R. for his aggressive conservationism, beautifully depicted in "Mornings on Horseback" by David McCullough.

MOUNTIE crossing US MARSHAL was fun, also the DIPLOMAT with finesse near the GLIB smoothie. The EYESORE went with the pierced NAVEL, for me (thought Nares at first): should we Take A VOTE on that? Ha.

We too found a great Amish restaurant off the beaten track in Indiana before Xmas, but nobody got to dessert. SHOOFLY Pie recalls an intriguing cover story in the Chicago Reader of Dec. 17 on the Mince Pie -- said to be THE American Pie throughout our history right up to WW II, with near total disappearance since then. A mystery, the author said, comparable to a similar vanishing of our ubiquitous cheeseburger occurring overnight tomorrow! Food for thought?

∑;)

p.s. Hope you have a safe trip, foodie.

Tinbeni 1:10 PM  

Straight forward easier NTY Sat. After Wed.& Thur. this week I went into this thinking it was going to be a major SLIP up.

EGRET & PELICAN, I hope my Florida ones are keeping warm.

@Elaine - the fashion thing almost wiped out our Everglades egrets, I think they are now "protected."

@Meg - great Manatee (sea cow) Avatar. Is it warmer in St.Pete? It is 35 here in Dunedin.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

I believe the president who created the island reserve was T. Roosevelt. Jackson was more for taking control of nature. TR loved it and thought it important enough to save.

After Wednesday, Thursday and yesterday, I was glad to breeze through this one. I thought it was a definite Thursday level puzzle.

the redanman 2:00 PM  

@ArtLvr

Penna Dutch and Amish (essentially Menonnite) aren't 100% the same.

The PA Dutch are German descendants - when asked "Where are you from?" by others and then answering: "Wir Deutsch" they were interpreted as 'Dutch'. PA Dutch thus came into being, intersecting circles on a Venn diagram.

PA Dutch food like SHOOFLYPIE generally is awful, nothing like good hearty Sauerbraten, Kartoflepuffen & Rotkol - German food, which is really too bad. Chacun a son gout!

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

After being bowed by the last two,
I really liked this one; esp
some of the clues.
Only trouble spot was the NW & put
Doc instead of Hec for Ramsey. At least no googling - a Saturday feat in my book.
Rhea

lit.doc 2:18 PM  

Sat down with coffee and dead tree and, as if by magic, 1A and 15A fell onto the page. From there, the rest of the letters just rolled down NW while I sat there drinking coffee. At this point, the needle of my “The Constructor is Sneaking Up Behind Me with a Baseball Bat”-O-Meter was buried in the red. Isn’t today Saturday? Can’t be. But ye, verily, it came to pass. Moved (in what a Real Solver could only describe as SuperSloMo) counterclockwise around the grid, though I’m not at all sure why that was the path of least resistance.

I am getting seriously disoriented re what day it is. File this week under “Billy Pilgrim Comes Unstuck in NY Times Crosswords”.

Not to take issue with the puzz itself. Enjoyed it very, very much. Cluing was just slant enough here and there to be fun, I was actually able to finish it in a reasonable amount of time and in reasonably methodical fashion. And every time I do a puzzle like this, as Rex noted, I feel rewarded for surviving grad school (which is more than I get from the school district).

What everyone said about the cleverness of many of the clues, but with a special smile for the inter-clue misdirection of “Antisocial type” followed by “Social type”. Puzz was so user-friendly I found myself hoping that some of the clues would be more “off” than they were. Wanted e.g. “2000 U.S. Open winner” to be WOODS and “Plume hunter’s prey” to be WHALE. Also hoped for “Opposite of destined” to be something a little more existential, and for “Sister’s study” to be some unusual architectural term for a space within a convent.

sharpstown 2:31 PM  

@Wade: I live in Southwest Houston and I was without power for 13 days. I did meet a lot of interesting people at driveway BBQs. I didn't know there were so many ways to cook pork ribs. You have to empty that freezer before the meat goes bad. Ike was certainly memorable for me. It did seem to be Gulf oriented with PELICAN and EGRET, two of my favorite birds, along with OIL.

fikink 2:33 PM  

Okay, okay, call me "Fikink Shoofly Michaels."
Like Andrea, I have a story:

When first we moved to the farm which is in the middle of Mennonite/Amish country in Iowa, the patriarch of a Mennonite family who lives down the road, would pass by on the way to the egg factory in his buggy. (yes, it doesn't get more bucolic that this)
Simon, our Lab, having come from town and not clued into the fact that a dog cannot run up beside a horse as one does a Jeep, would tear out of the toy barn and pursue the buggy.
I would pop out of the house, calling him back, "Simon! Simon!"
And the patriarch would hold his hand to the air and wave to me in friendly fashion.
At the same time every day, the buggy would pass by, Simon would run out of the barn and I would pop out of the front door.
We looked like a couple of dysfunctional cuckoo clocks announcing his presence.
And the old man would just wave happily and drive on.

It was some weeks later that I learned the jolly patriarch's name was Simon also.

chefbea 2:40 PM  

@fikink shoofly michaels...what a priceless story!!!!!!!!

And for you, @the Redanman and anyone else...

http://www.amishnews.com/amisharticles/shooflypie.htm

fergus 2:43 PM  

Who else gets their avatar as a Clue ANSWER today?

Did both Friday and Saturday puzzles this morning. Sat took about half of Fri.

SueRohr 2:45 PM  

I guessed that Rex would call this easy, as I finished it with no help, albeit with a bit of a sturggle. Definitely easier than yesterday. But not knowing David Walcott or the Office Max logo or Hec Ramsey or Devi or Amadis slowed me down.Whoa,or woe, there's so much I don't know.
When I was teaching 5th grade, about 10 years ago, Pokeman cards were all the rage. We had to make rules about trading in class and in the cafeteria. I never did figure out what it was all about, but whoever came up with that fad probably took his millions and retired. Along with the inventors of the pet rock and the wall walker.

PlantieBea 2:52 PM  

@Tinbeni--we in the center part of the state awoke to sleet, frozen H2O, this morning--we have two sandhill cranes standing in the yard looking miserable. No sign of the usual EGRETS or PELICANS today. We expect a HARMful hard freeze tonight. Kiss this year's strawberries good bye. So long to the St. Augustine lawn, and perhaps the citrus. Bah.

chefbea 3:06 PM  

@fergus my avatar is in lots of puzzles :-)

jae 3:19 PM  

Yep, easy. I'm a fan of In Plain Sight so USMARSHAL went in with no crosses and the rest just flowed. Again, this took less time than Wed.'s SW corner. Pleasant solve and an enjoyable puzzle. I'm off to see what Derek WALCOTT won the Nobel for.

OldCarFudd 3:28 PM  

A delightful Saturday puzzle! Well constructed, well clued, unknowns (to me) all inferrable, and no garbage. It doesn't have to be infernally hard to be good. And, after Thursday and Friday this week (both of which I enjoyed despite their difficulty), it was nice to be able to do one without pain.

I agree that Amish cooking isn't much fun. Ample to the point of belly-busting, but typically overcooked and underspiced. I've been to a fair number of Amish places for lunch, since Amish country is a popular place to have tours for very early and primitive cars; there are a lot of back roads and people are used to slow-moving vehicles. It's also a good place to get quick, innovative repairs when something breaks; these folks can easily weld up a broken part and get you back on the road. And they're fascinated by the cars. We frequently give rides to interested spectators, and the Amish are among the most interested and appreciative we ever see.

Elaine 3:30 PM  

Here's one of our "Amish stories:"

We lived in a part of Ohio that has a large number of Amish; one park we often visited even had horse and buggy shelters so that the horses could be unharnessed and left comfortable during picnicking and hiking. One day we had to hustle our kids aside, hearing some kind of oncoming, thunderous noise!--which turned out to be two "courting buggies" raced by young Amish men, chasing after some giggling Amish girls. My husband turned to the kids and said, "That does it; you're not driving til you're 21 !"

The Amish workers who built our barn all chain-smoked and ate a heavily fried-and-sugared diet; people often confuse their lifestyle with "healthy living." Not quite-- but they were good neighbors.

@Tinbeni
Yes, the egrets have been protected since the early 1900's. Someone early in the Comments put in a very nice link to Pelican Island, and you can read about TR's executive order in response to early conservation attempts.

Meg 4:00 PM  

@Tinbeni: Way warmer. We're at 37. The winter tourists are mighty pissed!

ArtLvr 4:16 PM  

p.p.s. re comments about PONE vs CAKE -- Just thought I'd remind purists that the latter can be also be applied to inedible stuff in roughly the shape of a cowpat -- cake of soap, for example, or caked mud or snow on your boots. We might also say anything easy is a piece of cake!

∑;)

Joe 4:31 PM  

The puzzle was so fun and it brought back so many great memories. My favorite moment of the day came down in the SW when I entered PENUP instead of PENIN at 57D. THEFORCE and HOT/ROCKS were gimmes. Both were big parts of my adolescence. So now I'm staring at 54D - "1972 A.L. Rookie of the Year." I don't know a damn thing about baseball, but my grid is showing FU_K and I am giggling like a teenager.

treedweller 4:39 PM  

Often, even my unknowns seem obvious with a few crosses, but even AMA_IS did not point me in any particular direction. Unlike yesterday, though, this and all other unknowns (WALCOTT, HEC, PARDONER) were crossed by very gettable stuff, so I finished without mistakes. Did 3/4 fairly quickly before my acupuncture appointment, got stuck (two ways), then got the NE shortly after.

At first, my LONER was a loser, leaving me in search of a moose__ up in Canada, but finally SHOOFLY got me going in that corner.

Rube 5:36 PM  

I found this to be the easiest Sat NYT Xwd in the ~8 mos I've been doing these and coming here. Had 2 googles, 10A SAFIN at the beginning out of despair, and DEVI near the end because of impatience.

Being able to do Sat puzzles I owe to this blog and it's patrons. With this puzzle I feel I have graduated from tyro to epigone.

Today is the second bad air day this week in the SF Bay area.

Two Ponies 5:36 PM  

@ fikink, I loved your story. My avatar is also a Simon!
Growing up in NE Ind. where there are lots of Amish makes me appreciate all of the anecdotes. I love Amish cooking. It might not be the healthiest but it is filling, comforting, and made with love (the secret ingredient to any dish).
Just back from my favorite pub and the man next to me was eating a ....
French dip sandwich complete with the cup of (au) jus! Not a malapop but perhaps an aprespop?
Where has our william e. emba gone? Anyone know? I miss his input.

mac 5:49 PM  

@Two Ponies: All I know about the Amish is what I saw in the Ardmore farmers' market, and I bought mainly great vegetables and chickens.

I also saw the French Dip on a menu today, and I am happy to report that it said: ..... served au jus!

Steve J 7:37 PM  

Easier than a typical Saturday, which means it still remained somewhat challenging for me. My Saturday success rate hasn't cracked 50 percent yet.

Was thrown off for a bit with the one clue I've got a quibble with: "E.T." follower. The inclusion of "E.T." in quotes made me think it was a reference to the movie, not the character, and I'm not aware of any "E.T." sequels, let alone one called "Phone Home." It took a lot of crosses for it to finally settle that that was the answer, whereas I think I would have picked it up earlier otherwise. I'm still not sure why the quotation marks were there in that clue.

Rex Parker 7:41 PM  

It's a quotation ("E.T., phone home"). Hence the quotation marks.

edith b 8:36 PM  

I am not a medievalist but as a little girl I was fond of knights in shining armor, King Arthur and chivalry in all her forms. For 3 years running I was a princess for Halloween - Maid Marian, don't you know - so the triumverate of medieval clues were all neons for me.

Add to that the lack of a bite to the misdirection clues generally and this one didn't present much of a challenge.

@lit.doc, I liked the Vonnegut reference.

michael 9:20 PM  

My very first answer was shoofly. I learned and at this in third grade in Pennsylvania (where for some reason Pierre de Ronsard never came up.) As others have said, an easy Saturday.

I could go on and on about different types of Amish and Mennonites and their relationship to Pennsylvania Dutch, but I won't...

lit.doc 10:10 PM  

@Joe, I was right there too. My post was running a tad long, so I didn't comment, but am glad to know I wasn't the only one.

lit.doc 10:14 PM  

@edith b, thanks for noticing, :-)

Bill from NJ 11:27 PM  

My children were POKEMON card collectors when they were younger and in the beginning there were about 150 different characters, divided in about a dozen different classifications and the game was the characters battled one another using the skills and abilities that each character's class possessed.

My daughter used Microsoft Access to create a datatbase that let her pick which character was best suited in any given battle.

She had a teacher at her high school who helped her learn how to construct a database and she is now a freshman in college, studying computer science and building databases.

Those collectible card games had their uses.

andrea imeanit michaels 2:58 AM  

@Fikink
Thank god for you! I have NO Amish stories and yours was the best!

Got 10D SPELL and could not get 9D even tho I knew it must be some play on the word "dictionary"...
How ironic! Lexicon just did not occur to me and Lexicon was the name of the first naming company I worked for! (They named the Blackberry and Pentium and Zima, among other things! Their big claim to fame was Powerbook)

Was voted off "The Weakest Link" by jerk who couldn't come up with a reason except that I "reminded him of the lead singer of the Cranberries". I still don't know what she looks like...

@lit.doc
I too appreciated your Billy Pilgrim ref and actually had considered PILGRIM for PARDONER, bec I have always thought the "Canterbury Tales" were about Pilgrims.
My life as a teen:
Vonnegut: everything he had written
Chaucer: Nothing
so did not know AMADIS or PARDONER and had to get all the crosses and felt very uneducated once again...

What say we TOOKAVOTE and encouraged Wade to write a novel (or at least a country song) about his experience with IKE...
Don't you think that would be the best thing EVER???

sanfranman59 3:47 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:37, 6:55, 0.96, 41%, Medium
Tue 9:31, 8:46, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 17:27, 12:08, 1.44, 99%, Challenging
Thu 30:44, 19:20, 1.59, 99%, Challenging
Fri 26:12, 26:00, 1.01, 57%, Medium
Sat 21:14, 29:59, 0.71, 5%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:40, 0.92, 28%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:32, 4:29, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Wed 8:21, 5:57, 1.40, 96%, Challenging
Thu 15:58, 9:21, 1.71, 100%, Challenging
Fri 13:08, 12:30, 1.05, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 11:34, 17:22, 0.67, 1%, Easy

Robert 2:40 AM  

Hello from syndication land. Using the iPhone to navigate the site is harder to read due to the three columns across. I need optical help and it makes my eyesore to use two answers from today's puzzle.

Nullifidian 3:08 AM  

In from syndication-land:

I almost had to check the date on the top of my newspaper to see that it was a Saturday and not a Monday. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but this definitely felt more like a Wednesday puzzle.

"It has a dark side in sci-fi", "Fugitive-hunting fed", "E.T. follower", "Collectible card creatures", and "___ My Family" all made this a very pleasant solve for me.

While they don't assign Derek WALCOTT and The PARDONER's Tale in my grad school biology courses, they were still gimmes. Even we hard scientists like to read. And to justice to them, most of my fellow students and professors have at least one other major interest in their lives. It helps prevent burnout and I think that those with an appreciation for the fine arts and humanities are less rigid and more adaptive in their scientific thinking than those who disdain these fields wholesale.

I liked "defining work" as a clue for LEXICON, and 30D's "Percival caught sight of it" triggered an associative memory of Monty Python and the Holy GRAIL, with the Sir Galahad and the grail-shaped beacon scene.

It did seem to me as if the cluing was deliberately easy. For example, 50A's PELICAN could have been clued as "August Strindberg play The ___ " for a more Saturday-like feel. It's one of his lesser-known chamber plays and also shares the same number of letters with "The Stronger" for an appropriately end-week ambiguity.

Still, it's a nice ego-boost to have the occasional Saturday puzzle that doesn't leave me a broken and battered mess in some back alley somewhere.

MikeinSTL 1:21 PM  

When I think a Saturday is this easy (I breezed through it) I always wish everyone else thought it was horribly tough, but, alas, it's not to be...

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