Riders on Direhorses in Avatar / SAT 2-2-13 / Tribe whose name means those with many tattoos / Sega mascot / Name for T rex at Chicago's Field Museum / Unit of magnetic flux density / Skating gold medalist of 1928 1932 1936 / Upward-flowing plant vessels / Machine part connecting to gearwheel

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Constructor: Gareth Bain

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Hal ASHBY (25D: "Shampoo" director) —

William Hal Ashby (September 2, 1929 – December 27, 1988)[1] was an American film director and film editor. [...] As Ashby was entering adult life, he moved from Utah to California where he quickly became an assistant film editor. His big break occurred in 1967 when he won the Academy Award for Film Editing for In the Heat of the Night. Ashby has often stated that film editing provided him with the best film school background outside of traditional university study and he carried the techniques learned as an editor with him when he began directing. // At the urging of its producer, Norman Jewison, Ashby directed his first film, The Landlord, in 1970. While his birth date placed him squarely within the realm of the prewar generation, the filmmaker quickly embraced the hippie lifestyle, adopting vegetarianism and growing his hair long before it became de rigueur amongst the principals of the Hollywood Renaissance. In 1970 he married actress Joan Marshall. While they remained married until his death in 1988, the two had separated by the mid-seventies, with Marshall never forgiving Ashby, along with Warren Beatty and Robert Towne, for dramatizing certain unflattering elements of her life in Shampoo. // Over the next 16 years, Ashby directed several acclaimed and popular films, including the off-beat romance Harold and Maude and the social satire Being There with Peter Sellers, resuscitating the career of a brilliant actor who many felt had lapsed into self-parody. Ashby's greatest commercial success was the aforementioned Warren Beatty vehicle Shampoo, although the director effectively ceded control of the production over to his star. Bound for Glory, a muted biography of Woody Guthrie starring David Carradine, was the first film to utilize the Steadicam. // Aside from Shampoo, where he was by all accounts a creative adjunct to Beatty and Towne, Ashby's most commercially successful film was the Vietnam War drama Coming Home. Starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight, both inAcademy Award-winning performances, it was for this film that Ashby earned his only Best Director nomination from the Academy for his work. As Voight had reportedly been difficult and uncooperative during production, many feel that it was Ashby's skillful editing of a particularly melodramatic scene which earned him the nomination. Arriving in the post-Jaws and Star Wars era, from a production standpoint Coming Home was one of the last films to encapsulate the ethos of the New Hollywood era, earning nearly $15 million in returns and rentals on a $3 million budget. (wikipedia)
• • •

Took one look at the grid and thought, "this'll be on the easy side." With so many shortish answers, there's likely to be lots and lots of places to get (and re-get) your grip on the grid. And in fact it was on the easy side for a while, but eventually I got slowed right down by most everything in the general vicinity of singular CAPITAL GAIN (23D: Amount of appreciation, maybe), and so the difficulty level ended up feeling pretty ordinary for a Saturday. I was surprised, given the amount of shortish fill (which often leads to dullish fill), how lively and interesting the grid was. I was especially stunned when I got to TIMBALAND, whom I'm very happy to see, but whom, I'm guessing, the majority of NYT solvers will never have heard of (35D: Hip-hop producer for Jay-Z, LL Cool J and Missy Elliott). He's a big-time producer, but history has shown that NYT solvers are not, in the main, big-time hip-hop fans. He took his name from the Timberland boots that were, at one time, a key element of hip-hop style. Anyway, he stands out here as the Answer Most Likely to Befuddle. The other longer answers are pretty good as well. I especially like APOLLO CREED (11D: Fictional boxer a k a the Count of Monte Fisto) and the defunct COSMO GIRL (23A: Bygone TEEN fashion magazine).

As I say, this played Easy at first, with LIEU, ACNE, and YTD all coming immediately (and, luckily, all being right). The one tricky bit up there (plural clue for singular-sounding XYLEM) (7D: Upward-flowing plant vessels) was easy to get around. Went with NORTHWARD instead of NORTH POLE at first (21D: Top of the charts?). "The charts" seemed so general that the very specific location of the NORTH POLE didn't occur to me at first. LA MER was a gimme, and got me into the NE. I instantly knew WIMOWEH (18A: Title under which "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" originally charted, in 1952) but was in no way certain of how to spell WIMOWEH, so I put consonants in the places that seemed right and waited around for the vowels. I took A STAB at 32D: Have ___ at (A SHOT), but MENLO set me straight. SE was briefly hard to get into, because E--L was doing nothing for me at 52A: One going to court? (EARL), but once I got LEVEL HEAD, that "H" gave me HAUNT, and I was into that section and done with it in no time. That left just the W and SW, which I fumbled with for a bit (W was by far the hardest). It's my own damn fault for not being able to get ASHBY from the "B." Should've been easy. Instead, I doubted the "B" and even guessed LUMET at one point. Bah. Between GITA and RTS I managed finally to get PATIENT (60A: Job-like), and then rode CAPITAL GAIN up into that pesky western part, which was no longer pesky. ASSAI (25A: Musical intensifier) is an answer (like PAWL) (12D: Machine part connecting to a gearwheel) that I know only from crosswords—familiar when I see it, but not likely to come to mind on its own.

Last letter I got today was the "T" in STEAM (26D: Tick off).

  • 19A: Name for the T. rex at Chicago's Field Museum (SUE) — is this a known thing? Is there an punny or funny or otherwise clever bit of wordplay that gave rise to the name? Seems an awfully random way to clue SUE.
  • 28A: Mythical predator of elephants (ROC) — gimme. Mythical, enormous, and three-letters = ROC.
  • 36A: Skating gold medalist of 1928, 1932 and 1936 (HENIE) — really should've gotten this instantly from --N-E. But didn't. Only when the "I" dropped in did I see it.
  • 43A: One of 100 in un siglo (AÑO) — and, so, I guess "un siglo" is a century. Inference!
  • 49A: Genre of the double-platinum box set "Songs of Freedom" (REGGAE) — a career-spanning box set by Bob Marley and the Wailers. 
  • 31D: Unit of magnetic flux density (TESLA) — Off the "T." Not that I had any clue what "magnetic flux density" was. I've just done plenty of crosswords.
  • 53D: Riders on Direhorses in "Avatar" (NAVI) — I'm surprised, considering it's an "I"-ending four-letter word from a phenomenally successful movie, that this word doesn't appear in the grid more often. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Kristin 2:04 AM  

Never heard of WIMOWEH. Wasn't that that African guy who didn't get paid for the song rights?

SUE really is a t Rex skeleton. I've seen it having visited in 2000.

Good puzzle overall. Gee Rex, you're up late!,

Anonymous 2:34 AM  

Took one brief tour through the clues and knew this was one of those puzzles where I could either make myself miserable for hours and then cheat, or just say to hell with it I'm not going to figure it out so let's just cheat right away. Opted for the latter. Glad I did. No gimmes for me in this puzzle. Didn't know Wimaweh or YTD or anything else obvious to Rex so I was dead in the water. Oh we'll that's Saturday for you.

Arapaho Ching! Menlos 2:44 AM  

Fabulous puzzle...enjoyed squeezing out every clue, dredging things up from a million years ago.

Like I could hear "A wimoweh a wimoweh" as I had that record as a child...but zero idea where to start to spell it.

I think that will be lots harder than TIMBALAND that people may know from "Bringing Sexy back", bec he and Timberlake's names were so similar.
That's how I knew him, in any case...not from hipness so much as the funny linguistic coincidence of their names.

I think my only gimmes were REGGAE, HENIE, SONIC, ACNE and narrowing down between estes and MENLO.
So was thrilled to get this puzzle step by step by step.

It hit a sweet spot.
And it was very musical:
REGGAE (thanks for the nice video of Bob Marley!)

Had a ton of fun trying to guess "I ____"
Tina? Claudius? Don't Know? Before E?
Seems like you could do an entire puzzle on "I ____"
(Wanna, Gareth?!)

I coulda sworn Beatty directed "Shampoo" and it looks like from Rex's WOD that he sorta did.

I like when you hold this afar, it's harder to parse...
Ted dies of what?
(I had to change pajamas into TEDDIES, that was one of my longer STRETCHES)

Favorite fun fact from the vet Dr. Bain: that crazy thing about TORTOISES biting but having no teeth!
You freak!

Anyway, loved it!
Hope the crossworld is having a blast from Westport to St. Paul!

David Barnhouse 2:48 AM  

I rarely let Saturday puzzles attack me, but I couldn't sleep tonight so had a go at it. One advantage of being 84 is that 36a HENIE was perhaps the easiest answer for me.

acme 2:58 AM  

"SexyBack" was number one at some point so if you saw the ubiquitous videos of them, or on "Letterman" you would know TIMBALAND.
I remember it was like, who is that guy singing with Justin???

So for those of you curious about Timbaland, he's this dude

jae 3:31 AM  
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jae 3:37 AM  

Got lucky with this one and made at least three correct guesses.  The A in ASHBY, the N in TIMBALAND (who was a total WOE for me, ((Rex is right about NYT solvers and hip-hop)) tried Kanye at first), and the second H in HEHs (could have been an E, but I vaguely remembered a biblical place ending in H).  The W in PAWL was also iffy, but it seemed familiar.   

Erasures: ani for DAW, RAg for RAP, me too for "a stab," Estes for MENLO, Opening for ORIFICE (which caused me to erase ROC)  plus a couple of rerights for SHEA.

One other WOE:  ASSAI

All this to say it was a medium-tough Sat. as it should be.  Two fine puzzles in a row.  Nice one Gareth!

loren muse smith 5:23 AM  

Yeah, Gareth! Congrats on your Saturday!

I progressed pretty far, for me, for a Saturday, but got stuck and finally after looking up ASHBY and TIMBALAND, I had the traction to “finish.”

Classic Gareth with the fauna TORTOISES, (right, Acme – who knew???), SUE, and ROC, and even the flora TENDRIL and XYLEM. . .

But my first answers were ACNE, TEEN, COSMO GIRL, and PLAYTEX. When TEDDIES fell, I found myself remembering a NICE N EASY (Clairol) he had in a grid once and wondering yet again, “Where does a twenty-something veterinarian in South Africa *get* this stuff??!!” Terrific!


Two weird spellings: WIMOWEH (crossing the quizzical OHS? – certainly my reaction) and then NINEVEH crossing HEHS – like it’s a private joke!

Best part – 1A PLAYTEX and 63A TEDDIES with 1D PRVTS and 55D, again, HEHS!

Really, really nicely done, Doc!

Ellen S 6:32 AM  
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Ellen S 6:33 AM  
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Ellen S 6:35 AM  

Really fought against AVIATOR for "Post, e.g." Only just this second realized Dr Bain musta meant Wiley Post. Doubly tragic because at least for me his death eclipses "Wiley Post, the first person to fly solo around the world." Which I didn't even know until I looked him up just now. For my whole life (and then some) I've thought of him as "that guy who was flying the plane that killed Will Rogers."

Scott Thomas 7:15 AM  

Managed to get 35D correct, but does it count if I read it as TIM BALAND until seeing this blog?
I'll take THE RAPISTS for $200, Alex ...

Anonymous 7:18 AM  

Sue is pretty much a celebrity in Chicago.


Milford 7:23 AM  

Liked it, but it wasn't easy to complete. Lots of words/places I just simply do not know: PAWL, GITA, DAW, CHING, NAVI, NINEVEH. Some showed up with good guesses, some not.

Did know of the T-Rex SUE, visited her in Chicago. There is some reference to the Sioux, as she was found in the Dakotas (I think), so maybe that's the connect?

Could not figure out how being PATIENT was like having a job...d'oh!

Nice Saturday!

Gill I. P. 7:39 AM  

Well, yes, I was completely befuddled by TIMBALAND. APOLLO CREED hornswoggled me as well.
Like @Anonymous 2:34 I too cheated right away. Once I got a footing, it seemed to fly right by. Loved WIMOWEH. My sister and I would sing that song at the top of our lungs. NORTHPOLE clues *always* fool me - also wanted I TINA but IRISH derby took care of that.
I did finish, I did love this puzzle and I did learn that to jump the broom you WED....
Thanks doc.

MetaRex 7:45 AM  

Got beaten up badly in the NE by WIMOWEH. A big part of my prob was that I couldn't see LAMER as LA MER. I find the endless revelations of one's puzzle stupidity to be kinda fascinating...one of the key reasons I enjoy doing 'em...

The combo of TIMBALAND and APOLLO CREED on the right gives the puzz a nice implicit mini-theme of pop black names.

Missed the symmetry of PLAYTEX in the NW corner and TEDDIES in the SE...another implicit theme...thx, Loren, for pointing that out.

More at On to Westport!

Mohair Sam 8:16 AM  

Cultural clash! Exact opposite of Rex here. I got Capitalgain off the "C" and the "I" in Henie (Hey Rex, if it's on skates before 1950 it's always Sonja Henie). Along with Apollocreed it opened up the entire puzle for me. But I still haven't gotten Timbaland - I had Tim Balard, assuming there is a biblical city named Nireveh.

Great puzzle in that it gave different people different challenges.

FearlessKim 8:18 AM  

Loved PLAYTEX crossing XYLEM, ARAPAHO stacked with WIMOWEH, TIMBALAND buddied up with APOLLOCREED!

PAWL, DAW, NAVI, ASHBY: thank goodness the crosses came through!

Writeovers: NumberOne before NORTHPOLE, opening before ORIFICE, "take one" before HAVEONE, shalt before BEGAT

Required knowledge from everywhere! science, art, music, business, literature, history, geography...

Just about a perfect Saturday puzzle. Thanks, Gareth Bain!

-- FearlessKim

Glimmerglass 8:30 AM  

Never heard of TIMBALAND -- I got the xIM part first and tried TIM-something, which gave me STRETCHES. Later parsed it TIM BALAND or maybe TIMBA LAND. There's quite a story about SUE the T-rex. There was even a court fight over her, as I dimly remember. Got beat by the Greek plural in XYLEM. Should have worked it out from COSsO GIRL.

jackj 9:08 AM  

When the puzzle’s constructor is a South African Doctor of Veterinary Medicine it is wise to expect a smattering of clues and answers that relate to animals and other living things so, when it is learned early on that a TORTOISE needs a tooth implant, it comes as no surprise.

The upper left filled in immediately and then things came to a rather rude halt, (including not knowing the aforementioned TORTOISES, since with just TORT filled in it was first looking to be jalapeno-laced TORTILLAS), until remembering that “Harold and Maude” director Hal Ashby had also directed “Shampoo” and the race was on in earnest.

Some things just filled in easily, APOLLOCREED of Rocky fame, the Chinese classic text I CHING and from a different corner of the Universe, “Journey to ERNIE”.

I doubt that Gareth claims SONIC the Hedgehog as a PATIENT but, there he is for the taking, sniffing around the connecting BAITSHOPS looking to snarf some grubs, I suspect.

Likes in the puzzle included ORIFICE and a particular favorite, HAUNT for “Frequent” and learning that “Jump the broom” wasn’t a Boer-ism for jumping the shark or the southern hemisphere’s anti-limbo exercise but instead meant do this and you’re in the marital way, WED.

The upper right filled in nicely until it was time to expose WIMOWEH and then, only by silently running through rounds of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was I able to dredge up a memory of the Kingston Trio singing the sought after word over and over and over as the song’s chorus and DAW, PAWL and LA MER (still semi-guesses though) filled in to settle the score.

Thanks, Gareth; you did good!!

Sir Hillary 9:09 AM  

This one actually played easy for me.

Having teenage daughters = TIMBALAND as a gimme.

Almost put GOSPEL in at 49A, thinking freedom songs, freedom march, MLK, etc. But then I started humming "Redemption Song" which is where the lyric "songs of freedom" comes from, and realized it was REGGAE.

Had no idea the Y was based in Geneva. I assumed it was based in the US. Guess that's a bit...XYLEMphobic, is that the word?

Oops, wife needs this computer...over and out.

Pete 9:33 AM  

Brutal for me. Too many FITBs which gave me no shot. "I ___" could have equally clued CANTSOLVETHISPUZZLE as CHING. In my head it's AWEMOWEH, so I couldn't even cram that in. Crossing a minor character from a movie I've never seen with the location where a minor character preached in a book I've never read didn't help. Gareth could have at least thrown in 'Sexy' or 'Provocative' before nightware at 63A. It probably wouldn't have helped me with solving the puzzle, it just would have spiced up my night.

Micki 9:39 AM  

Had WIMOWEY and OYS. Didn't even realize that was wrong until I came here.

Carola 9:41 AM  

Nice Saturday! On the challenging side for me. A first pass yielded 5 "for-sures": SUE, LIEU, ACNE, WIMOWEH, LA MER, but I was PATIENT and continued to DO LAPS around the grid, picking up a couple of squares on each round.
Previous puzzles helped me with XYLEM, PAWL, HENIE, MENLO, TEDDIES.
Unknown to me were APOLLO CREED and TIMBALAND - had to get from crosses.
Do-overs: A Stab-->A SHOT, ascot-->IRISH, HAVE a go-->HAVE ONE.

A great collection of 7-letter and longer entries, especially liked TENDRIL and NINEVEH.

SUE is named after Sue Hendrickson, the paleontologist who found "her."

@loren - I saw the PLAYTEX + TEDDIES ensemble but not the PVTS: awesome!

@Scott Thomas - Me, too, on Tim Baland.

Elle54 9:56 AM  

Had to google in the SW to get GITA and CANNES. Then I was done. Spelled WIMOWEH wimoweY. This was fun. First answer I got was WED.
yes, SUE is famous in Chicago and I think the woman who discovered her back in the 90's or 80's is named Sue.

Susan McConnell 10:03 AM  

Easier than usual Saturday for me. Loved WIMOWEH, wanted Beatty for ASHBY, other than that, things plopped in fairly smoothly.

B. Donohue 10:07 AM  

Tried a Saturday NYT for the first time...and didn't even get close. I got a few answers here and there, but no blocks. It seemed light years harder than a Thursday or Sunday. Though, scanning the answers, 80-90% of them seem generally accessible, part of everyday vocabulary, etc.

I liked CHING and WED. I feel as if I've seen SUE, HENIE, and COSMOGIRL previously. Perhaps by 2014, I'll get some more Saturday traction.

Thanks, Rex!!

mac 10:27 AM  

Great Saturday puzzle, but I had to give up. Can't remember a puzzle with so many unknowns for me. I think this confirms my theory that just before a tournament we have extremely difficult puzzles to scare us.

Will Shortz is the emcee in Westport. He arrives with his stationwagon holding the huge easels for the final. What a sport. Great fundraiser for the library.

wordie 10:33 AM  

I did not like the puzzle, unlike most of you. I worked away for a while, but felt the number of obscure proper nouns was excessive. I finally cheated and still felt dissatisfied. Also unlike many who've commented, I thought LIEU could be sItU, and ACNE could be zits. Also I had number one for NORTH POLE. I also wanted the TORTOISE to be a box or other kind of turtle off the second t. Yuck. I'm glad other folks enjoyed it.

evil doug 10:35 AM  

Okay, the very first clue for most of us: 1A. A chance to grab our attention and hold it. Do you clue it, "HanesBrands brand"---referring to some vague corporate monolith---or do you go with "______ bra"? Which one makes you go, "Oooooh, that's an interesting image for starting my Saturday off right!"

And in general I found the cluing weak---too wordy, lacking in imagery, lacking in energy. "Geneva-based org. encouraging healthy living". "Word appearing 39 times in the King James Version of Matthew 1". "New York Jets home from 1964 to 1983". "Name for the T. rex at Chicago's Field Museum." I found myself dozing off just trying to plow through the clues, for payoffs of a four-letter abbreviation, five letters, four letters, and three letters? Punch it up a little. Light a fire under its ass.

Some of the answers are fine: Victory, tendril, wimoweh, Cosmo Girl, teddies, Playtex, stretches. But there isn't much to shout about in 'do laps' (I swim laps), 'nth', 'level head', 'patient', 'Menlo', 'Gita'(?), 'tree', 'ohs', 'hehs'....the whole puzzle needs a shot of 5-Hour Energy or something.

And, c'mon: I struggle to try to keep up with the rappers and hip-hoppers. Okay, that's my problem for not often choosing that genre for my listening pleasure, and it's fair game for the puzzle. But to be expected to know a hip-hop producer? I listen to a lot of tunes, but the only producer I could name would be George Martin of the Beatles. Seems like Timbala N.D. is getting a little too far into the gnat's ass for legitimate consumption.

Bottom line: If a vote is taken on Friday's grid vs. today's, it's Ronald Reagan over Fritz Mondale in a landslide.


Notsofast 10:37 AM  

Like yesterday's great puzzle, this one was a little tough to crack. But Sat. is supposed to be tough. So, good! I misspelled NINEVEH NinevAh and couldn't figure out what a TRAE diagram was. Loved WIMOWEH and TIMBALAND! A tough, fun puzzle! A

joho 10:50 AM  

This was way more challenging than medium for me but unlike many Saturdays it was also fun. I mean how often are you hummiing WIMOWEH while scratching your head, struggling to find the answers?

By far the hardest section for me, and the last to fall, was the central west. Once I realized food was BAIT I got CAPITALGAIN and saw ASHBY.

I thought TIMALAND was an alias for TIMberlake so got it right for the wrong reason!

Loved this Saturday, thank you, Gareth ... good one!

Sandy K 11:29 AM  

I messed up on DOLAPS! Soo STEAMed at myself- I had reLAyS!!

Got all the hard ones, and screwed up DO LAPS?? Knew rAW, eRIFICE and yAWL looked LAME...but in my haste, and unJob-like way, I didn't bother to STOP and EVAC them...

So no VICTORY for me, but good one for Gareth!!

Shamik 11:34 AM  

Loved this medium-challenging puzzle. Worked it, worked it, worked it from NE to SW to SE, filling in the middle. And then there was the NW. Complete and utter stop. Thought of walking away, let the brain rest and then return. But just looked at it and threw letters in and finally my OHS became ahas.

Also parsed it as TIM BALAND.

600 11:59 AM  

I'm one of those hip-hop challenged NYTimes Crossworders--well, I'm familiar with Jay-Z and maybe Puff Daddy (Is that his name these days?) but that's about it, so here's a HUGE thank you to @acme for the video of Timberland and Timbaland (whose name I did not know. Timbaland, I mean.) That was a real treat! And while I'm at it, thank you, Rex, for the Missy Elliott. I'd never heard any of her stuff, and I really liked the beat of that piece. (I'm a rock 'n roller. That makes me geriatric, I know. But maybe some of this "new" music IS worth listening to!)

Found the puzzle difficult but fun. I especially liked the misdirections, well, after I figured them out, I liked them. Post for AVIATOR, Job-like for PATIENT, and Amount of appreciation, maybe, for CAPITAL GAIN. I think misdirections are my favorite part of doing crosswords, and these were genius!

And here's something: As far as I can tell, no one is unable to figure out what any of the clues mean. At least so far. No questions like yesterday's about ID tag (I'm still smarting over that one) or RANDR. I'm thinking that means this puzzle is really clean in a way not many Saturdays are. Nice going, Dr. Bain! (Not that I know you. I picked up that Dr. stuff from other commenters. I can't quite call you by your first name.)

Oh, and like @Arapaho Ching!, I could hear "A wimoweh" in my head but could not spell it. For one thing, I thought it'd start with A. But I'll be humming it all day.
Good one indeed. Two days in a row.

retired_chemist 12:23 PM  

This would be my favorite puzzle YTD except for yesterday's. This one just clicked in the same way.

ARAPAHO means "those with many tattoos?" Who knew?

APOLLO CREED took me a few crosses but I smiled when I saw it.

TIM Burton was my first thought for TIMBALAND but crosses set me right. Hand up for having no idea how to parse it - TIM BALAND? TIMBA LAND?

Also hand up for thinking Beatty directed Shampoo, for PAJAMAS @ 63A (but almost sure it was TOO obvious, a good call), ANTENNA for TENDRIL, ASCOT or EPSOM (when KENTUCKY wouldn't fit) for IRISH, considering MALT SHOPS for 39A, and for not knowing the idiom "Jump the broom."

Terrific puzzle, Dr. Bain. Keep them coming.

Lewis 12:27 PM  

It's a good Saturday if I can complete it in under a half hour, and I did. I started pretty slow, with some wrong answers, but then things started flowing well. Never heard of TIMBALAND, and liked many clues -- like the one for TENDRIL.

Two fine puzzles in a row. Thanks, Gareth!

Elle54 12:37 PM  

Not an idiom, more of a custom. At some weddings, the couple actually jumps over a broom. See recent episode of Grey's Anatomy, or the movie, "Jumping the Broom."

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

To B Donovan: Shortz tries to make a Sunday puzzle less difficult than a Friday puzzle but more difficult than a Thursday puzzle, so your remark is appropriate.

With the overabundance of proper nouns and/or foreign words, I found the puzzle uninteresting. Yesterday's puzzle was much, much better. Shows you one can construct a hard puzzle without overly relying on obscure names.

syndy 12:54 PM  

While it was a little cruel of Doc Gareth to make us try and spell WIMOWEH my spelling of BHAGAVAD GIdA was all my own fault.TIM BALAND was a hard name to dredge up but the crosses...EXcellent saturday but If you are gonna sleep in a TEDDY you better be a very unrestless sleeper.

Franny 3:07 PM  

Sue was named for the person who discovered her, Sue Hendrickson.

retired_chemist 3:17 PM  

@ Elle54 - thanks. My wife also explained that to me.

bigsteve46 5:13 PM  

I also think being supposed to know a hip-hop producer is a little too-too. What's next: "Rappers' preferred bail-bondsman?" I'm sure they've all got one (or more.)

Melodiousfunk 5:23 PM  

Can someone tell me why Composure=LEVELHEAD?

Shouldn't that be ALEVELHEAD? Seems the part of speech in the clue doesn't match the solution.

Very impressive puzzle nonetheless. Took an old guy a few hours, pereserverance pays.

lawprof 6:32 PM  

Tough Saturday - as it should be. Had to put it down and come back to it to finish, and still ended up with one error. Natick at 35D/61A crossing, where I had TIMBALArD/NIrEVEH. Didn't know either and guessed wrong.

The whole mid-Atlantic region was an inky-gooey mess. Double write-over at 38A,epsom/ascot/IRISH; hand up for estes/MENLO. Other fixes: sgTS/PVTS; ani/DAW; peEve/STEAM; bORES/GORES; RAg/RAP; ani/DAW.

Lots of worthy fill everywhere you look; just one consonant too tough for me today.

LaneB 6:45 PM  

Couple of big mistakes did me in. Numberone for NORTHPOLE and Takeone for HAVEON

sanfranman59 6:59 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 8:03, 6:12, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)
Tue 8:44, 8:37, 1.01, 56%, Medium
Wed 9:24, 11:33, 0.81, 9%, Easy
Thu 19:38, 17:05, 1.15, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 20:59, 20:59, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Sat 25:19, 24:55, 1.02, 65%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:32, 3:39, 1.24, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)
Tue 5:00, 5:01, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Wed 5:40, 6:29, 0.87, 17%, Easy
Thu 11:52, 9:37, 1.23, 83%, Challenging
Fri 12:14, 12:07, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Sat 15:34, 14:36, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Chris Kearin 6:59 PM  

As we learned in high school botany, "XYLEM up and PHLOEM down." After nearly forty years this is the first time I've used that particular bit of knowledge.

Dirigonzo 7:06 PM  

You know what else means "Top of the charts"? NUMBERONE, as in the musical charts - that took a while to straighten out. I spent an enjoyable hour working through the grid but ultimately DNF because I did not know TIMBALAND and I had a couple of wrong answers, e.g. tAkEONE instead of HAVEONE, that kept me from seeing the answers I should have known. A great Saturday puzzle but this puzzler was not up to the challenge; thanks anyway, Dr. Bain - and I loved TORTOISES!

Dirigonzo 7:10 PM  

@LaneB - Apparently you posted while I was composing, but it looks like we had a similar solving experience (you just summed it up more succintly).

Evan 7:57 PM  

@Evil Doug:

TIMBALAND is probably most notable as a producer, but that's not all he is -- though one may not know that from today's clue. He has collaborated and been a vocalist on several pop and hip-hop hits, including Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" and Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River," and all three of them teamed up to do TIMBALAND's "Give It To Me" in 2007.

@B. Donohue:

As I tell everyone who takes a Saturday on for the first time -- keep practicing! Only a few years ago, I would never have touched the Friday and Saturday NYT puzzle out of fear that it would be too hard. Now, I do them all the time, and always finish them (sometimes with a mistake or two, yes, but I always fill in the grid completely). You might get only a couple of answers now, but with time, you'll start getting ten answers, then twenty answers, then half of the puzzle, then the whole thing. Keep at it and you'll be solving them eventually. Trust me on that!

Evan 8:07 PM  


I realize you may be joking, but in general, I think it's unwise for people to make such a casual association between rappers, rap music, and crime. Obviously some rappers make crime a theme of their lyrics, and some have no doubt committed crimes themselves. But I don't see why "they all" would have "one or more" bail bondsmen -- it strikes me like a stereotype about a genre whose artists are predominantly African-American. Would you have said the same about all popular rock artists, or all indie rock musicians, or all movie stars?

bigsteve46 10:27 AM  


Res ipsa loquitor.

jberg 12:28 AM  

We were in Vermont for the weekend, but I forgot to stop delivery on the NYT, so here it was on my porch tonight. I'm just posting this to keep my string going. I finished with ToM VALAND and Have A SpOT at, giving the nonsensical oRISp Derby - figured it was some obscure village in Engalnd. Oh, well. I think I got Sunday - have to read the blog now.

Ellen S 12:59 AM  

@bigsteve46 what exactly are you saying? That because some rappers and hip-hop artists are or have been in prison, all are criminals? The "complete list" seems to consist of 57 entries, 58 people counting the single entry of Capone-n-Noreaga as two people. Assuming it's even correct. Yeah, there's probably more rappers in prison than Bank CEOs, but that's not because a higher percentage of rappers are criminals.

Spacecraft 11:59 AM  

Finished correctly with only one writeover (HAVEago for HAVEONE), but I still wonder how. Every letter of TIMBALAND went in on crosses. The cluing was Saturday-tough, a couple of them really mean. "I_____" is ridiculous. Yet when the answer comes to light I can see why it was clued that way--but it sure is discouraging to look at "I_____" and try to figure out what that is. Then there's "Post, e.g." which uses the convention of beginning every clue with a cap to hide the fact that your first word happens to be a proper name. Mean, mean, mean!

I despair for my solving future if constructors are going to continue infesting their grids with rap and hip-hop references. That is just going to leave me behind; I belong to another era. And glad of it.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Dear Mr. Spacecraft, I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph. The ultimate hell to me would be descending into Hades and listening to "Rap" for eternity. It's not music in my book. It's cacaphonus poetry in its lowest form.

DMGrandma 2:39 PM  

Like @Milford, I found this one "full of words/phrases I just didn't know." But with perseverance and guesses (some of which I just had to accept), I finally got it all except the central block on the W. Outside of HENIE, a gimme, and BAITSHOPS which I hoped was right, nothing came in that section. The only name I associate with Shampoo is Beatty, which clearly couldn't fit. Was looking for some UN entity to be in Geneva. And so it went, or actually didn't. What kind of word is ASSAI? That final "i" almost made me dump the TORTOISES, or at least figure it was another one of my original spellings! At any rate, I enjoyed the challenge.

DMGrandma 2:52 PM  

Like @Milford, I found this one .full of words/phrases I just didn't know. But with perseverance and guesses (which I had to hope were right), I finally got it all except the central block on the W. Outside of HENIE, a gimme, and BAITSHOPS which I hoped was right,nothing came in that section. I wanted some UN entity to be in Geneva. the final "i" in 25A made me wonder if I had invented a new way to spell TORTOISES. and so it went, or, rather, didn't. ASSAI? Never heard of it. At any rate, I enjoyed the challenge.

Now I'm going to see if the robot master will accept more than just my tag this time. Good thing I make a practice of copying my comments before trying to post!

Ginger 6:41 PM  

Tough one, but it was fun searching out and gleaning for esoteric answers that when found, weren't so esoteric after all. False starts Pfcs/PVTS, epsom/IRISH, and venn/TREE. Love the misdirects of Post and Job, that I got it is pure luck. Never heard about jumping a broom. Didn't know that PLAYTEX was made by Hanes. (Stretching it a bit?) I believe there is a chapter of Matthew called 'The Begats', which is where the lineage of Jesus is documented. Interesting about tortoises!

Wonderful puzzle that covers so many spectrums. Thanks Doc,
Enjoyed it.

BTW fellow Syndilanders, also known as SynCity, (see yesterday late posts) set your clocks ahead tonight.

Dirigonzo 7:17 PM  

@Ginger - Thanks for the reminder re DST. I actually set my clocks ahead this morning before I went to work, just so I wouldn't forget.
I hope you are feeling better?

Now back to the Saturday puzzle in real time, which is currently kicking my butt - the bottom third of the grid is filled in with only scattered answers above. I may be posting very late on this one. Regards to all my friends in SynCity!

Waxy in Montreal 7:29 PM  

Started on the wrong foot with SITU for 2D causing a long search for a Hanes product starting with PS (PSALTER?)! Once the ship of state was righted, not too difficult except the ASSAI/SONIC cross & TIMBALAND. Mrs. Waxy and I briefly entered our second childhoods singing a The Lion Sleeps Tonight duet figuring out WIMOWEH.

Loved (Wiley) Post as a clue for AVIATOR and Top of the Charts? for NORTHPOLE. Very clever.

Pleasant puzzle to end the week in SynCity.

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