Island state in 1964 merger / SAT 10-15-11 / 1973 Nobel Peace Prize decliner Le Duc / Bibelot / Waveform maximum

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Constructor: Joon Pahk

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Leon CZOLGOSZ (35D: Leon ___, McKinley's assassin) —
Leon Frank Czolgosz (Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʂɔlɡɔʂ]; May 1873 – October 29, 1901; also used surname "Nieman" and variations thereof) was the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley. // In the last few years of his life, he claimed to have been heavily influenced by anarchists such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. [...]
Czolgosz believed there was a great injustice in American society, an inequality which allowed the wealthy to enrich themselves by exploiting the poor. He concluded that the reason for this was the structure of government itself. Then he learned of a European crime which changed his life: On July 29, 1900, King Umberto I of Italy had been shot dead by anarchist Gaetano Bresci. Bresci told the press that he had decided to take matters into his own hands for the sake of the common man. // The assassination shocked and galvanized the American anarchist movement, and Czolgosz is thought to have consciously imitated Bresci. New York police officer Joseph Petrosino believed that the same group had targeted President McKinley, but his warnings were useless, because McKinley ignored them. (wikipedia)
• • •

They're not booing. They're saying "Boo-urns! Boo-urns!" I mean, they're saying "Joooooon!"

The month of Joontober continues as "Jeopardy" champ Joon Pahk brings us his latest puzzle, a very tough Saturday themeless. Themelessish ... the KNICKKNACK (1A: Bibelot) / "KNOCKKNOCK" (65A: 1940 cartoon in which Woody Woodpecker debuted) answers provide the mildest of aesthetic structures. Speaking of mild, I found this puzzle mildly brutal, due almost entirely to a pile of obscure foreignisms. I think I've heard of PASHTO before (47D: Afghani tongue), but putting it right next to the deeply arcane ALTAIC seemed perverse (48D: Language family including Mongolian). You'd think that if you had to put in some recherche language terms, you'd give them some elbow room. Do you know THO? (19A: 1973 Nobel Peace Prize decliner Le Duc ___) I don't know THO. No THO-knower, I. As for CZOLGOSZ, a chipmunk scurrying across my keyboard would've had better chance of getting that one than I did. That's a name that might make a constructor drool, but ... it's not gonna give anyone but the constructor any joy. The constructor and presidential history buffs, maybe.

Since when is the Minotaur an OGRE? Is that a metaphor, like "that Minotaur sure is a mean guy! What an OGRE!" Shrek is an OGRE. The Minotaur is the half-man, half-bull spawn of Pasiphae and some bull she seduced with the cow costume she had made by Daedalus. Yeah, the Minotaur's mean and grumpy and eats Athenian children, but OGRE is a *$&@ing stretch. Also, I thought OUTRÉ just meant weird or unusual, not [Singular]. Most of the rest of the cluing was just hard, not unfair. I'm embarrassed by how long it took me to get UNCLE SAM (13D: Steely-gazed pointer), even after I had UNCLE S in place. For some reason Uncle Fester got in my head and wouldn't get out. Also embarrassed at how long it took me to get CHEETOS when I had -ETOS in place (35A: Frito-Lay product). DORETOS??! Ugh, no. That SW corner was, by far, the toughest for me. Next hardest was the area around DISARMS (39A: Sets at ease), mostly because I didn't have DISARMS. I had ASSURES (which has an unfortunate number of letters in common with DISARMS).

 My friend and fellow constructor ... we'll call him Kwest ... just wrote me: "Uh... I believe there was an error in today's (Saturday's) puzzle. 23-Down is empirically false" (23D: Funny George => LOPEZ). "Would've accepted BURNS or COSTANZA." I added GOBEL.

TINO was my first answer in the grid (16A: 1997 Home Run Derby champion Martinez). ESSEN followed shortly thereafter (25A: Germany's University of Duisburg-___). No idea about ZANZIBAR (40A: Island state in a 1964 merger), but got it by virtue of the very helpful (if not terribly funny) Crest Cavity Creeps boxMr. LOPEZ. Not all the answers were clued Maleska-era-trivia-style. There was some cuteness, like 50A: What a mail carrier might use in self-defense? (LANCE) and 63A: Malady that typically worsens in the spring (SENIORITIS). I don't know my NATO phonetic alphabet from a hole in the ground, so KILO was tough to come up with. [Waveform maximum] sounds like a brand name of bra to me, but I was somehow able to put together CREST. Encountered BABAR today in a very nice piece about the 50th anniversary of "The Phantom Tollbooth" in the New Yorker. I see that this is irrelevant, as the "hero of children's lit" in question is TIN TIN, not BABAR (61D: When repeated, hero of children's lit). Alright then. . . and so to bed.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Evan K. 12:20 AM  

CZOLGOSZ was actually the first thing I got in the grid. My father taught me the name when I was a kid -- there was a folk song about the guy...

"Czolgosz, Czolgosz, you done me wrong. You shot me down with an Iver Johnson gun."

Amazing what sticks with you.

chefwen 12:34 AM  

Maybe it was watching Joon these last few days that I was able to get into his head a little bit, because I thought this one was easier than Fridays. Of course, I will fess up to looking up 35D, even if I had heard it at one time I certainly wouldn't be able to pronounce it, let alone know how to spell it. He should have stuck with Niemman.

We have a poly dactyl cat named Paddy because his front paws look like little oven mitts. Our house and animal sitter calls him KNICK KNACK, which I think is beyond adorable.

A few write overs, but not many, which really stuns me. Elyn/Elen/Elin and 29D snap before SAIL. Of course technically a DNF for a major cheat with 35D

Gill I. P. 1:04 AM  

@Rex, I'm still chortling after reading your write-up. I too am a no-THO-knower and I can't get Chip and Dale out of my head.
Joon is batting a thousand these days. I thought this was a terrific puzzle. It did seem a tad easier than his usual Sat. nightmares. Speaking of:
VAMPIRE BAT, DEAD MEAT, FEEDS ON, NIP AT, GNARS and OGRES....Yikes. But I loved starting with KNICKKNACK (although I had brick a brac)and ending with KNOCKKNOCK. I had to look up that guy who killed McKinley and the Mongolian language but was a happy camper that I got PASHTO.

Anonymous 1:43 AM  

LOVE the image of a chipmunk scurrying across the keyboard -- Rex, Thanks for the laugh : )

foodie 1:59 AM  

"It's brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say...."

Like @chefwen, I was in the groove on this one. I mean I did not know that squirrel and had to look him up. But I slapped KNICKKNACK down immediately, and built the top around it, and KNOCKKNOCK came unbidden, having never heard of the episode, but based on some weird sense of how Joon 's mind seems to work, game theory and all.

But that corner with the weird languages rubbing elbows was indeed tough and I had a Natick at the corner of ALTAIC and STK.

But my struggles aside, I thought this was simply a gorgeous piece of constructing! I hope Andrea likes the scrabbliness level. And where was she when the Squirrel decided to change his Hungarian name upon immigration and came up with CZWXYXOVK or something as the improved version?

Michaela 2:00 AM  

CZOLGOSZ was a total gimme for me too -- I loved reading about presidential assassins as a kid. Also, I was a weird kid.

I filled in SENIORITIS very quickly with no crosses, but was about 60% confident that it would turn out to be something else. Then I remembered Joon is a physics teacher and my confidence on that one went way up...

foodie 2:03 AM  

Oh, not a squirrel.. A Chipmunk! That explains it...

Thanks, Rex, for the great write up.

andrea czolgos michaels 2:29 AM  

Yes, very excited about the Joonparty! that keeps on rolling...

Yes, loved the Scrabblyness.
TWO entries with FOUR Ks, and TWO with two Zs (ZANZIBAR, CZOLGOS)
I didn't know how to spell CZOLGOS but knew it was a crazy name with a CZ... with TSKTSK thrown in. I just love Joooooooooooooooooooooon.

My first entry was THO. I thought, "Hmmm, Le Duc THO, right?" And then realized I was once again talking to my cat (at best...)

Knowing the letter before Lima had to start with K, got me KNICKKNACK so things flowed flowed flowed.

I would rate this semi-easyish, BUT I finished with DEADbEAT, and altho I "felt" LOG, I left "It's bAsIC!" for "It's MAGIC"

Didja notice 43A "Places for cutters", for short and 56A "Cousin of a cutter"???
Could that be cuter?

I just love Joooooooooon....loved watching him DISARM his opponents, totally unSMUG, SAILed thru as a Whiz, and... and... well, I'll let @Joho fill in the rest!

jae 3:01 AM  

Medium- Challenging for me too, and an excellent Sat. from Joon, who is clearly on a roll! Same problem areas as Rex, DISARMS, SMUG, and UNCLESAM came slowly in NE (plus I never know if it's TSU or TZU). And, I had no idea about the assassin (chipmunk is right) and was surprised to find out I got him right. (HARANGUE also did not trip off my pencil). Nice double K bookends! This is what a Sat. should be.

andreaz czolgosz michaelz 3:21 AM  

Wow, I managed to misspell CZOLGOSZ THREE times in one, um, I guess it wasn't as easy as I thought!

Don Byas 4:11 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Really smooth. The difficulty level was consistent throughout. Took me 40 min, yesterday I was under 15.
Got ESCALATORS and HARANGUE without many crossings, but I had to chip away at everything else. I couldn't remember the meaning of BIBELOT.Confused it with bibulous. Had dead duck instead of DEADMEAT. Wanted GOP for [31a. House party?]

Mnemonic for ELIN Nordegren: Tiger with his harem in Egypt while ELIN sails away on the NILE.

Vishnus' Fish Stews!

tptsteve 7:56 AM  

Tough nut for me to crack, but I eventually found my way through- had the CZ ans SZs in Czolgosz, but had to struggle remembering the rest of the name.

Nicely done, Joon.

Le Duc THO is etched in my mind for declining the prize, which was also given to Kissinger, along with Tom Lehrer's comment to the effect that giving the prize to Kissinger was the ultimate in political satire

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

I usually have a lot of trouble with Joon's puzzles but somehow managed to figure this one out.

But can someone please explain LANCE (as opposed to any other weapon a mail carrier might use)?

Wade 9:27 AM  

You know a puzzle's tough when your only real gimme is McKinley's assassinator. I knew it, but I also knew I could trust myself to spell only the first four letters and after that I'd need crosses.

I went with GOBLE, them GOMEZ, then PEREZ,before getting to LOPEZ.

Another of those weird crossword coincidences is, just after I finished, I was reading Levon Helm's memoir, "This Wheel's on Fire" (Best rock memoir ever!, which is sort like being the best Mexican wine, I know, but it's really good), and there was a reference to Le Duc Tho (The clueless The Band was being grilled by Swedish journalists about the Vietnam war.) It's not cheating because it was after the puzzle was done.

Really good puzzle. I'd say the ALTAIC/STK crossing is not quite fair (I got it wrong and knew I was getting it wrong), but fair enough.

Z 9:29 AM  

@Evan K - Now I want to know the tune.

Prefer Chile con Carne and Chile Colorado to Chile Relleno. None of the dishes involve Doritos or CHEETOS.

Love baseball, hate the home run derby. So - TINO was not a gimme for me. In case anyone is wondering, there are 8 active MLB players with Martinez as a surname and 32 retired players. Tino is probably the most noted with a 4-letter first name. Neither Victor or Pedro would work, so it was a struggle.

Loved the puzzle even THO I HTG and still ended up with a DNF.

mitchs 9:33 AM  

@twangster: think knight. I convinced myself that NasSua was very probably an island and that the person who names chicken dishes was really impressed when Tso declined the Nobel.

jberg 9:38 AM  

@twangster - knights wear mail (at least, sometimes) and carry lances.

Really stupid DNF, because for some bizarre reason I never saw ONCE for 18A - so once I got MINISTER, I tried various contortions like ONiE, and finally gave up with that square blank. It didn't help that I had LAO TSE for 30A, then changed it to LAO TZU when I got GOES NUTS.

Tough all around - except for the incorrect vain for 11A, my first answer was ZANZIBAR - which saved me from the obvious George gObEl (who is this LOPEZ guy?)

CZOLGOSZ I knew, but not how to spell the middle part of his name, so that had to get sorted out. I liked the two Asian languages next to each other, though had to pick between PASHTO and PuSHTO.

Ditto for loving DEAD MEAT, AMEN TO THAT, and all those Ks and Zs.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

OK, let's try this again. Can someone please explicitly explain why the answer is LANCE? Thanks.

MountainManZach 9:52 AM  

The first thought I had was "wow, Joon and I really disagree on the definition of 'funny.'"

@twangster: mail carrier as in chain mail, referencing a knight or jouster, hence the LANCE

Leslie 9:53 AM  

Knights wear chain mail. Which is a way of carrying it around, on their bodies. They also carry lances.

35D was my last fill, entirely from crosses, and I cheated by putting [G/K?] at 55A, since both GNARS and KNARS looked plausible.

jackj 10:00 AM  

"KNOCKKNOCK. Who's there? KNICKKNACK. KNICKKNACK who?, KNICKKNACK means a lot of K words are needed to fill this grid."

And, unfazed, Joon cleverly fills that bill, from KVETCH to KRAUT, to PORK and TSKTSK, which launches a tough but delightful challenge.

Even for a Saturday, expecting solvers to blithely fill in CZOLGOSZ and then tackle the real toughies like HADON for "Wore", was asking a bit much but, crosswords call for crosses and that made it gettable, even as crosses begat curses.

This guy "Czolgosz" makes Al Capp's "Joe Btfsplk" seem like his long lost consonant cousin and it reminds me of my Army service when harried drill sergeants would rename anyone with a moniker like Czolgosz, "Alphabet"( and so it would be for that recruit for the next 8 weeks, at least).

As evidence that when you solve enough puzzles they prove to be fungible, Tiger's ex, ELIN, has become sufficiently familiar as a crossword entry to be a gimme but, XWord Info says this is the first use of ELIN in a Times puzzle. Huh.

Thanks, Joon, for a terrific puzzle!

chefbea 10:01 AM  

Great puzzle though I had to google a lot in oder to finish. Loved knickknack and knockknock.

And of course Pork chops sprinkled with a bit of zest!!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

Took an hour, but finished with just one write-over, 22 A, Get the best of, had GULL before CULL.

As did ACME, had THO as my very first entry.

quilter1 10:26 AM  

DNF as I had DEADduck crossing GOESNUke in the NE. I wouldn't let myself put in DENSE as I wasn't sure of my knowledge of this, and wanted map for LOG. I finally gave up. And I had been feeling so good about solving Joon's hard puzzle.


Have to hurry now and shampoo the dining room carpet before the football starts.

Lindsay 10:39 AM  

Really liked this with the exception of the STK TSK TSK crossing. Very chipper and fresh.

Although I did fritter away most of the morning in the SW. Didn't know LOPEZ (or CZOLGOSZ, and this after feeing very SMUG about yesterday's Vaclav Havel) so I didn't have the Z, which would have been helpful. Stuck with doriTOS for absolute ever. Then gave up on that and filled in trinIdAd at 41, even though I was pretty sure the chile dish started with an R. Never knew ZANZIBAR was an island.

Would probably still be staring at a lot of empty white squares if the hand of god hadn't come down and told me to fill in SUES at 62A.

Thanks Joon. Dont spend it all in one place.

Lindsay 10:41 AM  

TrinIdAd at 40A, I meant.

My writeover obscured the number.

SethG 10:54 AM  

SW was by far the easiest for me, and I didn't even know CZOLGOSZ. Next came SE, then struggled mightily. CHILI, NGO, TSE, TZU, GAS, ENSURES, RELAXES, I had each for a while. More than 3 times as long as yesterday's.

Joon 11:10 AM  

i can't really disagree with rex about george LOPEZ. my original clue had gone out of date in the time that this puzzle spent waiting for publication (i think it was {TBS late night host}). almost none of my other clues got changed, though the one i wish had made it was {Teller's skill} for MAGIC. but then, i'm a pretty sadistic guy when it comes to saturdays. the actual MAGIC clue was also plenty hard, but kind of less fun, no?

thanks for the kind words, everyone. it's been a pretty wild fortnight.

joho 11:11 AM  

Joon, this was the most spectacular Saturday puzzle I can remember in a long time!

I ended up with one mistake with CZOLGOSt ... I was thinking of a scratch test ... but don't even care.

Like @andrea czolgosz, I had DEADbEAT and bASIC but changed it when LOG became clear. And, @andrea, I loved your story, you should have gone on. Oh, I also love Joooooooooooooooon.

Great write up, @Rex!

What a way to start the day!

Tobias Duncan 11:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tobias Duncan 11:17 AM  

Too tough for me. Could not quite come up with CZOLGOSZ even though I read Sarah Vowel's Assassination Vacation a while back and loved it.

I have had terrible RELLENOS outside of New Mexico.Please try them here if you ever come through our state Z.They are often very very hot so try the tip first.

@twangster, glad you asked first...

JenCT 11:41 AM  

@Rex: "As for CZOLGOSZ, a chipmunk scurrying across my keyboard would've had better chance of getting that one than I did.". Hah!

Found the NE brutal; liked KVETCH and CAREENED (something about that word that I love.)

@andrea: thanks for recommending The Terrorist; what a beautifully-filmed movie. Finally watched it last night.

Tobias Duncan 11:42 AM  

@Joon Teller's skill is a brilliant clue, I wonder why Will nixed it.Would have been a gimme for me as I am a HUGE Penn and Teller fan, they are luminaries in the skeptical community.

Mel Ott 11:50 AM  

Definitely challenging for me, but finally finished with the right guess on ELIN/RELLENO.

While working thru it I thought the Scrabble folks would love this one.

Recently read vol. 1 of Morris's excellent biography of T. Roosevelt, which ends with McK's assassination, but stll needed those tough crosses to get CZOLGOSZ. All I could remember was unpronouncable, unspellable Central or Eastern European name.

Vaguely remember the old British colony Tanganyika merging with ZANZIBAR to create Tanzania.

The Asian language stack in the SE was brutal, but this is why I love Saturday puzzles.

LindaB 12:06 PM  

Think the "lance" clue would have flowed better with "maille carrier"

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

No real trouble until i got stuck on deadbeat/basic ...i finally thought of sail, but didn't make the jump to log....the rest of the puzzle was fairly easy for me...knowing things like tho, zanzibar, altaic, elin certainly helped....easier than most saturdays for me

archaeoprof 12:15 PM  

Very challenging for me, and I enjoyed every single minute of it.

Last letter was Z in CZOLGOSZ/ZEST, and I had to run the alphabet to get it.

Flat-out wonderful Saturday puzzle.

Thanks, Joon! (PS: talked with Katie Proctor yesterday and she speaks very highly of you!)

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

I knew THO and ELIN but was unfamiliar with Mr. CZOLGOSZ and admit to googling him, something I am unaccustmed to doing.

I also started with BURNS as CARLIN did not quite fit.

ESCALATORS was my first entry.

I agree with your OGRE assessment.

My main beef is with VAMPIREBAT. Any 10-year old I grew up with could tell you that vampire bats do not suck. They bite and lick up the blood.

Z 12:19 PM  

@ Tobias - Chile Rellenos have never been my favorite, but heat is never the issue. We go through bottles of El Yucateco's Chile Haberno sauce, McIlhenny's Tabasco Sauce, and Frank's Red Hot in this house on a regular basis. When I get to NM I will definitely try the local fare and compare it to home.

Here in the mitten the best Mexican and Tex-Mex food is found in the Holland/Grand Rapids area.

JaxInL.A. 12:26 PM  

I felt an odd frisson of vicarious celebrity when I saw that Joon had constructed today's puzzle.  Never met the fellow, but I (attempt to) solve his puzzles, I see his posts here and over at Orange's place, and now I've watched nearly four hours of his self-effacing smile and wide-ranging knowledge of both substance and trivia.  So we're sorta buds.  

Which might explain how I got through nearly 3/4 of this puzzle unaided, a Joon first for me.  My solve was much like Andrea's. 

I HTG that obscure assassin. Even with the first CZ and three other crosses in place, it was not gonna happen.  Thanks to Joon's post at the aforementioned Orange blog, though, I can pretend that I have seen or heard (my favorite composer Stephen) Sondheim's 2004 Broadway hit Assassins, and refer you here to Neil Patrick Harris singing “The Ballad of Czolgosz.”

Love that chipmunk, Rex, and I bizarrely shared your impulse to put in UNCLE Fester where SAM belonged.  Had to read here before realizing it's that LANCE-bearer is carrying chain mail, not postal mail.

I like the "Teller's skill" clue much better. "It's_____" is just bleh. No aha moment to choosing among "a girl" or "basic" or any of a number of random phrase-enders.

Thanks for a great Saturday, Joon!!!!

Matthew G. 12:40 PM  

Delighted by Rex's rating, because this was my second-best Saturday time ever. CZOLGOSZ was a gimme -- the guy killed a President of the United States, for crying out loud. Much fairer to expect me to know him than Another Random Actress or Singer From The 1950s.

Joon, this puzzle is a fantastic breath of fresh air. Full of awesome scrabbly letters (love the K K mini theme) and yet almost none of the proper names are pop-culture stuff I wouldn't stand a chance with. Up with history and geography!

Five stars.

Mailman Lance 12:45 PM  

My last to fill in? 32down, lobe? How is this a gray area?perhaps I'm missing something obvious.

Masked and Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Now that The Dood is a rich man of leisure, he can just sit back and crank out some really epic puzs. This is a great start. Thumbs up. Now that you got the free time, try and keep that U-count up a little.

Lucked out, thinking of MAGIC, UNCLESAM and CHEETOS right away, ahead of any wrong answers. Not sure Czolg-whatsit was in my school-learnin'. Got it today via "research". Clues for LANCE and VAMPIREBAT were extra impressive.

Lewis 12:57 PM  

Joon has now become a CELEB in this community, but his self effacing nature (as Jax pointed out) on top of his smarts makes him even more endearing.

A tough but fresh feeling puzzle, which I loved. I liked the misdirect clue to CULL, the clever clue to TETE, KVETCH and its clue -- in fact the feel of this puzzle was AMEN TO THAT.

Rex -- you were "funny Parker" today, got me smiling and laughing. Thanks!

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Tho was about my first entry. The sixties (and early 70's) were an extraordinary decade. For my money, there's been nothing like the sixties since.

But I kept trying to make the assasin Atzerodt. Off by 40 years or so and a few other measures.

At least I finished this challenging -- and satisfying -- puzzle. And it only took me a quarter of the football game I'm listiening to.

syndy 1:04 PM  

JOON is busting out all over!I had a happy feeling when I dredged up ZANZIBAR with no crosses but I got to the bottom and read the woodpecker clue my first thought was"HOW IN HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?" but then I looked back up at the top and I did know! I just trilled myself! which made up for having to google chipmonk boy.(I knew he was some slav with an impossible name. W/O's ELEN,DEATBEAT and TITO!and the sorta natick ATTAIC/STK but guessed right

Noam D. Elkies 1:08 PM  

Scrabblers can never use 1A:KNICKKNACK (in a standard 15x15 game) because it has one K too many! Even with both blanks you get at most 1+2=3. Likewise PIZZAZZ. Are these words in the Scrabble dictionary?

Cute pairing with 65A:KNOCK_KNOCK. Too bad 14D wasn't a two-Z word to mirror the remarkable 35D:CZOLGOSZ.


shrub5 1:08 PM  

Agree that this is one of the best Saturday puZZles EVER. NYT should pay double.

I started it last night and got the SE corner pretty well complete. Then decided to finish it in bed. Found it on the floor this morning. Maybe those ZZZZs put me to, I didn't have any of them at that point. No chipmunks to help me out.

Eventually came to a standstill so HTG the assassin and bibelot. Getting all these initial letters allowed me to finish it off. Of course I didn't know the side-by-side languages but got them correctly via crosses.

I had 'spent' before DENSE, 'map' became LOG but the goofiest thing happened in the NE where I had put Lao-TZU. That gave me UNCLE ZAM ??? which I thought might be a cartoon character, maybe a dog? (pointer?) Guess I had dogs on the brain -- I had 'grrrs' before GNARS and 'onion' before KRAUT on that other dog.

Had same thought as @RP regarding minotaur and OGRE. Hand up for George 'gobel'. Carlin wouldn't fit. Joon, your clue for 34D was much better. Save it for another time. Looking forward to the tournament on Jeopardy!

600 1:10 PM  

Add me to the list of Joon lovers. But I did not do well with this puzzle. That does not mean I didn't like it--I did, but I apparently was not into his head as others were--I had to Google so many answers I'm sure I'll miss some here--ZANZIBAR, CZOLGOSZ, ALTAIC, LE DUC THO . . . no need to go on embarrassing myself. This puzzle chewed me up and spit me out. I even had to use the dictionary to find out what a "bibelot" is. Not my finest hour, not at all.

I mostly hated that I could not pull out the assassin as, like @Tobias Duncan, I read Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation not so long ago and loved it.

The Minotaur is absolutely not an OGRE, but with so much going against me in the puzzle, why argue over that?

I loved the echo in KNICK KNACK and KNOCK KNOCK.

And I loved, loved, loved the write up today, from the no-Tho to the chipmunk and beyond. Especially the error on LOPEZ, empirically false, I will agree, but if it got us to the Gobel clip, it's okay with me. I'm still laughing about those brown shoes . . .

Oh, and thanks for yesterday's picture of A. J. Cronin.

@Sparky--thanks for the information about Lady Astor. I had no idea!

@Mailman Lance--think "gray matter" and a lobe of the brain.

nophyb--rap spelling for "no lie"?

Gill I. P. 1:29 PM  

@Matthew G. Of course, you are right. I think McKinley did something good for Hawaii? I would have preferred Guiteau since I can spell that one. ;-)

David 1:35 PM  

superbly fun and satisfying puzzle today, very happy to have finished successfully as it was definitely a Medium-Challenging for me. Top half was pretty easy, I took a real chance and threw in KNICKKNACK with no crosses even though I never heard of Bibelot. I had mental notes for the correct answers of KRAUT, NETTED, CAREENED and KTS, which suggested Ks and Cs, so I just went for it, and was rewarded with the whole top half.

SE was tough, SW even tougher. Got TSKTSK easily, and somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain I recalled ALTAIC, which gave me the mini-theme of the Ks at the top and bottom. That left the SW, which I just chopped away at before finishing with CZOLGOSZ, someone I have never heard of, but will not forget.

Agreed with others re: LOPEZ, as I was filling him in. I can't stand the guy, find him supremely unfunny. Watched his sitcom once, that was enough, viewed his talk show once, that was more than enough.

Anne 2:22 PM  

I am very very happy to join the Joon Party and even happier to see Rex's rating. This is the first time I have ever finished a medium challenging Saturday with no mistakes and no googling. And it only took about an hour and a half which is fantastic for me. I've been doing them almost daily for about three years now. Plus it was a fun puzzle.

foodie 2:37 PM  

Since solving this, I've had in my brain the words of Dr. Seuss' Too Many Daves... I would read it over and over to my son who adored it-- About Mrs. McCabe who wished she had not named all 23 sons Dave and was day-dreaming of more distinctive names for them-- He would start hooting at "Oliver Boliver Butt" and roll on the floor laughing with "ZANZIBAR Buck-Buck McFate". Thankfully, Dr. Seuss skipped CZOLGOSZ from his fanciful list.

And Joon, you know I love this, but there's touch of bloodthirstiness in here with the VAMPIRE BAT that ENSNARES, DISARMS, NIPS AT, then FEEDS ON PORK CHOP, DEAD MEAT, with great ZEST.

But speaking of food and RELLENOS (which I tasted for the first time in a dive in Santa Monica a million years ago, and they were terrific!) I really came back here to find out from the aptly named @Z about that Mexican food in the Holland/Grand Rapids area. Really? That's Great. Like where?

ksquare 3:02 PM  

CZOLGOSZ was not Hungarian but more likely from Poland where his name would be pronounced CHOLGOSH. He shot McKinley in Buffalo, NY on Sept 6,1901 and he died on my birth date, Sept. 14. Hence I became interested in its history. Czolgosz was executed in the newly adopted electric chair not long afterward.

Sparky 5:10 PM  

Able to complete only NW quarter. Had GNARS below. Gobel before LOPEZ. TSo thus out at 14D. Quit, brain not working today. Enjoy Joon puzzles even so. I'm a fan, too.

Great write up and comments today. Coming here is half the fun. As last week, the Sunday mag section calls from the coffee table.

quilter1 5:11 PM  

At the mail carrier clue I had a flash image of our Santa Claus lookalike mailman toting a long spear around the neighborhood, the better to poke at the yappy little dogs.

Got the rug clean before 11 and have spent the rest of the day putting together the 144 piece border for my new quilt. Now to finish my library book. See ya tomorrow.

I skip M-W 6:37 PM  

Back from my (our) honeymoon, in England,at odd moments doing some cryptic puzzles and failing at others. My first guess for bibelot was tschotchke, so was all primed for Czolgosz. (A poem by Mallarmé I wrote on in college includes line "Aboli bibelot d'inanité sonore;" hard to forget; so is Czolgosz.)
Was glad to see this rated medium challenging. Thanks @600 for explaining lobe. Thought it had to do with hair near ear.
Thanks Joon for good puzzle. I've heard of George Lopez, but no idea if he's funny.

michael 6:49 PM  

I liked this puzzle a lot and found it fairly easy for a Saturday. I sort of knew the assassin name right away, but spelling it correctly was something else. I knew that it started cs and ended with a z and that there was a g and an in there somewhere...

hazel 7:03 PM  

not only did i not remember/possibly ever know that McKinley had been assassinated, I have never heard of said assassin.

Way too sadistic for me, @joon - who just didn't have the patience on this beautiful fall day to stick with it. I did really enjoy your run on Jeopardy, and look forward to the ToC and future puzzles, of course.

My husband rates Mexican restaurants solely on the quality of their chile RELLENOS. if they're no good, we never return - regardless of the quality of their margaritas! ;~(

Congrats on the nuptials @Th- S!

Anonymous 7:05 PM  

I was annoyed to see the author make the common mistake of confusing CAREEN and CAREER. CAREEN means to lean over to one side (both intransitive and transitive). CAREER means to go ahead rapidly. A good mnemonic is that one's career goes forward.

Joon 7:22 PM  

oh man, anon 12:17 is right about VAMPIRE BAT. my bad. i had no idea (perhaps due to not being 10), so i went for the wordplay, but ... facts is facts. oof.

@archaeoprof, i'm a big fan of katie's as well. she's a classy champ and i was honored to share in her jeopardy experience, and to have her share in mine. and did you see her clean up in thursday's episode? you must have taught her well. :)

Stan 7:33 PM  

While (team-)solving this puuzle, it just seemed comically difficult. But looking back at it, I'm really impressed. Varied, familiar, in-the-language answers (with a few exceptions). Accurate (but puzzling) clues. Frustrating, but it's Saturday, right?

Joon -- congrats, and I hope you have a good accountant.

600 8:00 PM  

@Anonymous, 7:15--My dictionary shows career, with the meaning "to go at full speed; to move rapidly ahead," as a synonym of careen.

Dirigonzo 8:27 PM  

As a relative newbie to Saturday solving I was pleased to get within 2 blank squares (you know where), or one google (you know who), of completing this one. Loved the cluing which I thought was clever, bordering on diabolical (I mean that as a compliment). I'll be back next Saturday to try again.

Anonymous 8:34 PM  

Theatre Queen like me knows Czolgosz because he's a character in Sondheim's ASSASSINS. Though it took awhile to rememebr the actual spelling.

michael 9:00 PM  

hmm.. I see that I commented before that I"knew" the name of the assassin started "cs"...

mac 11:11 PM  

Another wonderful puzzle day thanks to Joon and Rex.
No more chipmunks in your house, please!
Too late to go into details, you've said it all.

Anonymous 11:17 PM  

@wordphan:l whose dog died( yesterday's comments) left you a message there on Fridays blog for you to read.

Anonymous 11:43 PM  

I found it easy for a Saturday. It helps that I remember Le Duc Tho receiving the Nobel Prize, and Zanzibar merging with Tanganika, or that my family supposedly had a connection to Leon Czolgosz (at least according to my grandmother, who didn't let facts get in the way of a good story): and no pop or sports stars to speak of.

I do agree, though, that the Minotaur was not an ogre: he was just a minotaur.

Z 12:06 AM  

@foodie - Su Casa first, Taqueria Aztceca second, and The Beltline Bar for great wet burritos. Casa Cantu and Sosa's closed long ago, both of which were better than these three IMO, but time marches on and small family-owned restaurants don't always get passed on to the next generation. There are many more I haven't had a chance to try since I've been in metro Detroit for 15 years, now.

Evan K. 12:17 AM  

Z: I'm going to have to ask my father about this. I can't find a reference to it anywhere. But for the life of me, I remember it!!

Z 12:29 AM  

@Evan K - Which "it?" Casa Cantu started as a family market then later opened a restaurant next door. It was on 15th or 16th close to the Heinz plant. Sosa's was a small place near the Holland Civic Center and VFW hall (and my aunt's house). I think that with the new routing of 7th, it's location is now street.

That's three for me, it's late, my Tigers lost, I'm out.

KarenSampsonHudson 1:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
KarenSampsonHudson 1:28 AM  

Football Saturday for me, so late to puzzle. Got waylaid several times in this one; my mind was on other things. Baseball can break your heart. See ya next year, Tigers. Playing in East Lansing felt like playing in Tuscaloosa--- Commentator Urban Meyer, who took early retirement after his health was ruined due to his stressful job in the SEC, knows dirty plays when he sees 'em. Coach Dantonio, we USED to respect you. There's no room in the Big Ten for behavior that we witnessed today.
Off my soapbox now---good puzzle, Joon.

andrea cheetos michaels 2:18 AM  

@anonymous 12:17 pm said:
"My main beef is with VAMPIREBAT. Any 10-year old I grew up with could tell you that vampire bats do not suck. They bite and lick up the blood."

Reason #2097035789 as to why I like this blog!

Also glad to see the unanimous outpouring of love for Joon! You won't meet a nicer man with cuter kids and a Harvard professor, no less!!! Why were they so reluctant to say that on J!?

sanfranman59 3:25 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:17, 6:51, 0.92, 19%, Easy
Tue 8:03, 8:53, 0.91, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:19, 11:50, 0.79, 8%, Easy (10th lowest median solve time of 119 Wednesdays)
Thu 17:31, 19:09, 0.91, 39%, Easy-Medium
Fri 21:31, 25:43, 0.84, 20%, Easy
Sat 29:13, 30:09, 0.97, 48%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:25, 3:40, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:15, 4:35, 0.93, 30%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:14, 5:51, 0.89, 27%, Easy-Medium
Thu 8:47, 9:20, 0.93, 43%, Medium
Fri 10:28, 12:43, 0.82, 21%, Easy-Medium
Sat 17:29, 17:11, 1.02, 59%, Medium

JaxInL.A. 3:39 AM  

@Andrea, I bet Jeopardy didn't want to say Joon teaches at [that non-Eli ivy] because it makes him seem like a ringer and unbeatable, or it makes them seem elitist for selecting him. Just a guess.

Clay C 5:28 PM  

Generally like Joon, but even after a fresh look today, it was a DNF for me in the SW. (Once I open Google, I've surrendered and consider it DNF). I agree that this one was just too ... Maleska. By the finish, I was waiting for some 1930's golfer to appear.

Senioritis baffled me briefly, as I was thinking of it as a synonym for 'senior moment' instead. (How very meta.)

I actually knew PASHTO - My beef is with factual inaccuracies : vampire bats don't suck, a lance is plainly never for 'defense' (indeed hardly a weapon at all, solely used for tourney jousting IIRC), etc. I instinctively rely on accuracy from WS, so I actually erased both HARANGUE and LANCE, then stuck in there far too long with FENCE for the defense.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Raised the white flag after wandering around aimlessly in the SW desert. I could see ENSNARES developing, and that would have been fine with "Catches". but "catches up" just thew me. I had GIST at 64a and I knew that didn't fit the clue very well, but without ENSNARES I was getting nowhere beneath the O.R. so I just left it alone.

The rest of the puzzle fell into place pretty well , though all I could picture at 13d was the evil monkey from Family Guy, so that threw me for a while.

I'm not sure GOBEL is any funnier than LOPEZ, though I haven't watched the clip yet. If the clip is funny that would make him at least one funnier than Lopez.

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

Spacecraft here. Tough one today, especially in the ENE. Good ol' Leon--how could you forget a name like CZOLGOSZ?--kicked me off in the SW, THO I'm still having trouble with the clue for ZEST: "You need only scrape the surface to get it." HUH??? Lucy and Joon, you got some 'splainin' to do!
Now to the NE. Some of the cluing here, too, is off the wall--to say the least. "Whiz" for SAIL? Let's see...well, I guess a frisbee could whiz--or sail--through the air...but really. That is one WAY far-out clue. Too far out for me. Also bad was "It"s--." That one didn't go far ENOUGH out. C'mpon, man, "It's--" could be followed by ANYthing! It's a girl/boy! It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! (Well, OK, that one won't fit.) It's raining, it's cold, it's not my fault/job/car. It's TOO MUCH!
Also at 60d "Don't--" could take any number of words: TRY, LIE, CRY, e.g. Course, my personal favorite is...Fear the Reaper, but that's another story.
Plus the SE Naticks that needed Googling. Still withal a very imaginative grid. Gotta hand it to the Joon man.

gatic: resembling a hood's gun.

Dirigonzo 6:39 PM  

Back in syndiland after my brief visit to prime time, to bring you the latest edition of RPDTNYTCY on this date 5 years ago:
- "Solving time: about 40 min (explanation below)"
- "Being distracted by the movie also made me totally lose focus in the far North of the puzzle (discussed below), where I stared at near-blankness for what seemed like forever (reality = 10-15 minutes) because no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many times I went Through The Alphabet, I just could not see what turned out to be a very ordinary, obvious answer. So I started doubting perfectly correct crosses and ended up with the inky mess you can see on my grid. And it turns out that only one of the words up there is particularly obscure or difficult. Ugh."
- " When I see "Big Twelve team" I think GIMME! But because I had Taxi Driver on in the background, and, more importantly, because I had that final "S" in Kansas first, I assumed (ASSumed) that the answer was a plural and was therefore the team name, e.g. Longhorns, Jayhawks, etc. Since neither 7D: Light (kindle) nor 9D: Harmful (noisome) would come to me, I had the following for 7A: "_ A _ S A S" - which, when you look at it, when I look at it now, screams KANSAS. But I believed the answer to be a plural, not a state name, and so I tried to remember all the teams in the Big Twelve, blanked on half, started throwing in teams from the SEC for some reason ... disaster. Even after I got the "N" from NOISOME, I was still lost."
- "I have no familiarity with the "Minor Prophets." I'm shaky enough on the Major Prophets as it is. But I do know something (however limited) about 1980s horror movies, and I know that the leader of the Children of the Corn was named "Malachi" (in the movie credits, it's spelled with a penultimate "A," but so what). I never saw that movie, or its sequels, because even the cheesiest horror films scare the hell out of me. But I appreciated the Children of the Corn ads for their camp value."
- "Sahra was awarded a Yellow Belt by her SENSEI this past Friday after passing her test, a moment that made her light up like a Christmas tree."
- "73D: Film company (AGFA)
Rejected corporate catchphrase #483: "AGFA - it's Pig Latin for 'Fag!'"
- "I love me some Captain Nemo. Screw that clown fish, this is the real Nemo...He is a great, imperious, enigmatic character, and one of the models for the antagonist in the greatest revenge movie ever made, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. "Khan!""
- There were 20 comments, 9 of which were by @RP himself. This one helps explain things: "What I love about this site is how I am shamed everyday by the exposure of my ignorance. ILOILO. Ugh. That one hurt.

Never thought an offhand mention of a character actor who wasn't really the topic of my commentary at all would lead to such a rich discussion of that actor's career. You're welcome, Mr. Astin."

Anonymous 4:03 AM  

one of the best nyt saturday puzzles i've ever had the pleasure of doing... though i agree with the OGRE complaints, and GNARS? - doesn't even sound like a real word...

@spacecraft: you've probably figured it out by now, but re: ZEST, think lemon zest or orange zest - you scratch the surface of the rind to get it

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