Rescuer of Princess Peach / SAT 3-22-14 / One of Leakey's Trimates / High rollers in casino lingo / Three Stooges creator Healy / Did entrechat

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Constructor: Greg Johnson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: GREBE (44D: Diving bird) —
grebe /ˈɡrb/ is a member of the order Podicipediformes, a widely distributed order of freshwater diving birds, some of which visit the sea when migrating and in winter. This order contains only a singlefamily, the Podicipedidae, containing 22 species in 6 extant genera. // Grebes are small to medium-large in size, have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, although they can run for a short distance, they are prone to falling over, since they have their feet placed far back on the body. (wikipedia)
• • •

Very smooth but not very snappy. It's admirably clean (as any 70+-worder in the NYT ought to be) but the only real zip is in the answer ZIP DRIVE (18A: Obsolescent storage device). Even with the Scrabble letters, I can't get that excited about a tepid phrase like ZOO EXHIBIT (22A: One often behind bars). I really think themelesses should offer some pizzazz, something fresh and fun, and this puzzle—while expertly made and without obvious defect—is just workmanlike and adequate. Stuff like ALTERANT and RENTABLE just clonk. They're words, but not good ones. Still, there is very little in the way of bad stuff, and some of the clues showed cleverness and thoughtfulness, so while not wowed, I'm something close to satisfied.

Speaking of FLEW BY (1A: Passed in a blur), this puzzle did. I had worked the whole thing down to just the tiny SE corner in just over 6 minutes (!!!). But then, clonk. Derailment. Free fall. Other metaphor signifying stoppage. See if you can guess the problem. Actually, you probably can, because it probably happened to you. I had GRAPE and wrote in JUICE. Then I *confirmed* that answer by crossing the "J" with JUMBO. Then I got UPPED and ABLAZE and OAF … and yet all the 6-letter Downs remained peskily unsolved. I invented a plant part—the CUPOLA—at 39D: Protection for flowers in bud (SEPALS), but that didn't help much. So after a minute or so of this, I did the professional thing and took out JUICE. If the "J" works, I reasoned, then maybe … JELLY. And that was that.

I found the puzzle very easy, even with that SE corner hiccup. But others, clearly, did not. So I'm curious about where people struggled. I felt like I couldn't miss today. Got PLUS / MINUS off just the "P". The NE corner may as well not have existed. Once you get ZOO EXHIBIT and the stuff beneath it, GAZEBOS and ELIXIR are obvious, and every long Across goes in bang bang bang. I kept waiting  for the hammer to drop, and it did, I guess, a little, in the SE, but overall there was very little resistance for me. I'd like to thank crosswords past for teaching me what a GREBE is. I have no doubt that knowledge contributed significantly to my quickness today.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:18 AM  

Easy-medium again for me.  Only erasures were putting in the wrong HORDE (HOARD - dyslexia is not fun) and the wrong LENNON ( I ).  Never heard BORAX used to describe shoddy stuff and did not know PRES.

Got to be tough to follow even an average BEQ, so while this was low on zip it was a pretty solid Sat.   Only ALTERANT seems a bit cringy.  So, kinda what Rex said, a mild liked it.

retired_chemist 12:30 AM  

A slow Saturday for me. Proper names NOT in my wheelhouse, lingo I did not know, several answers which had multiple correct possibilities (19A, 38D, 44D, I'm talkin' about YOU!). Fun but a bear all over.

Semi-seriously had Zebra HInIe @ 22A at one point. But that would be stripes, no bars....

Thanks,Mr. Johnson.

August West 12:30 AM  

Easy, wicked fast Saturday. Continuous typing from NW to SE. Only knew BORAX as a commercial cleaner, and OMAHAN caused a slight pause, but everything around and through them was so overtly apparent that the former "had to be right" and the latter prompted a V-8 forehead slap on emerging. SASS/SYDNEY made GRAPEJELLY the only way to go there, so I was able to avoid Rex's pitfall. Agree with the "workmanlike and adequate" description. Smooth, no real junk, but no, "Wow, that's clever!", either.

wreck 12:45 AM  

A very satisfying Saturday for me as I finished in under an hour with VERY minimal googling. I too had "GRAPEJUICE" for a long time as the J as in JUMBO had me convinced it was right! I wanted PORTSIDE instead of HOMEPORT -- which also cost me some time.

wreck 1:00 AM  

stupid side note: I always remember port as "left" because they both have 4 letters! ;-)

Wade 1:33 AM  

SPED BY instead of FLEW BY, the JUICE/JUMBO thing, JOY BEHAR instead of O'DONNELL, which was doubly discouraging because it was not only wrong but made me realize I knew the name "Joy Behar," doubting ENOLA and GAZEBOS for a long time after I put them on the first pass because they weren't yielding squat, FOSSIL instaed of FOSSEY because I guess "trimates" reminded me of tribolites or trilobites whichever I can't remember, putting in YORICK for the gravedigger because he was in a grave, thus making me wrong and dumb and misspelling it too, getting DRIVE but no ZIP, EXHIBIT but no ZOO, but feeling smart when I got LEAFLET off just a couple of letters and resenting having to know La Bamba co-stars, wanting 20A to be Texas but convincing myself we had only two libraries (forgetting the first Bush), knowing nobody is reading this but feeling better getting it written down--this puzzle turned me very which way but I finished fair and square after over half an hour. I liked it.

Carola 2:10 AM  

Challenging and enjoyable. GRAPE JELLY gave me my start (I checked the crosses for Juice, rejecting it because of ALPHA), and I nibbled my way through the diagonals from there. Got stuck in the corners and around the edges, needed two "leave it and come back with new eyes" breaks in order to finish.

Like @Wade (I read it all!), spEd BY slowed me down. Also assumed "eta/d" for ARR, never heard of BORAX with that meaning, resisted believing people get married in GAZEBOs, didn't know ZIP DRIVES when they were au courant, much less obsolete. Liked GRIFT.

Some pairs: FLEW BY - RAN ALONG, RED-HOT - ABLAZE, HORDE - LEGIONS, LEAFLET - SEPALS, and, with a slight cheat, TAXI - DRIVE.

Moly Shu 2:56 AM  

Hand up for spedBY at first, but WHALES fixed that. JELLY went right in, didn't even consider juice. Medium-difficult for me, the SW being the main culprit. MARIO got me started in the east and the rest flowed. Liked the clue for SEEME, although I always dreaded that meeting. I knew how the conversation would start " You're not applying yourself ..."

@LMS, you ever write SEEME on a paper???

Liked this one, thought it said Saturday to me.

chefwen 3:16 AM  

I has a 8th grade teacher who used to make up stories about Gazaboo and Gazabet, never forgot them. Gazaboo is never far from my mind.

I'm agreeing with medium. Zipped through it quite quickly until I landed in So Cal. 52A caused the most problem because I couldn't get "Starship" out of my head. Had ABLE in place, but the light bulb was staying unlit. TIGHTEST wasn't kicking in for BFF'S either. A DNF in the southwest. AHH ME! Better luck tomorrow.

Danp 4:56 AM  

BLEWBY before FLEWBY. TYPEAS before ALPHAS. AFLAME before ABLAZE. BLING before BORAX. GRAFT before GRIFT. HOMEBASE before HOMEPORT, Pen before pencil. WTF before DNF.

AliasZ 6:09 AM  

Come on people, a good Saturday puzzle should not have isolated mini-puzzles in the corners with only one word connecting them to the rest. This is a themeless for crying out loud, there is no need for such early week annoyance. Get rid of those 4 dangling single blocks and work it out. It's worth it.

Otherwise this one worked for me much faster than yesterday's. I was surprised how easy some of the clues were. I got WHALES, GAZEBOS, SEE ME, SYDNEY, LEAFLET and a few others right off the bat, not much challenge there. In fact, the whole puzzle wasn't much of a challenge.

However, I still enjoyed it maybe precisely because I zipped through it unimpeded. Made me feel good about myself. For that, I thank Greg and Will.

Favorite clue: "Where to look for self growth," and I love GRAPE JELLY. Who doesn't?

Let me leave with this, the most often heard bit from the opera L'elisir d'amore (The ELIXIR of Love) by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848): Una furtiva lagrima (a furtive tear - whatever that means) and move on to Stanley Newman's Saturday Stumper. I am sure that one will cut me down to size.


PS. What's up with all the plurals today?

Susierah 6:23 AM  

My second completed Saturday with no googles, but I guess it is a dnf because I spelled elixir wrong and didn't catch it. Hand up for sped/flew by and hoard before horde. Last to fall, opaque/minus/plus crossing. I knew Esai had to be right but I couldn't get heliport out of my mind!

Susierah 6:29 AM  

Forgot to say, I think yesterday's and today's puzzles should have been switched. If you did not know Bessemer and between the ferns, you were doomed.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

Got PLUS / MINUS off just the "P".

And therein lay the problem for me. Not knowing French, I couldn't get PRES to save my life. Without the "P" in PRES, PLUS (and MINUS) remained completely OPAQUE.

Lucy 8:03 AM  

@AliasZ - I don't understand your first paragraph. Could you explain what you mean, please? Thanks

Glenn 8:22 AM  

Got stuck in NW because I had "Bride of Frankenstein" in my head and couldn't figure out how James Whale could fit (JWhale? Was there an extra letter I forgot in Whale? Etc). Once I realized my mistake it all fell into place, though like others I have never seen that usage of "borax"

evil doug 8:33 AM  

If you feel the need to time yourself (I don't), then Michael's benchmark is probably a helpful measurement with which you can (silently) compare. But nobody cares what time the rest of you clock-watchers come in at.

And if you have to Google, offering your elapsed time tells us what? That you're a fast Googler? Irrelevant. And laughable.


Sir Hillary 8:38 AM  

I can't help but feeling that, if today's constructor were Patrick Berry, our host would have emphasized the smoothness over the lack of pizzazz, rather than the other way around.

This is an excellent piece of work, distinguished by its complete absence of junky fill. To me, the prevalence of JQXYZ is zip enough. And no, not in pursuit of a forced pangram, as the missing (Louis) CK might point out.

@Lucy -- @AliasZ is referring to the fact that the only way in/out of the NW and SE corners is through a single entry, which is not considered "best practice". FWIW, that didn't bother me at all, but the point is still valid.

Unlike @Rex, the PLUS/MINUS was completely OPAQUE to me. In fact, those three words were the last in. I don't like cross-referenced entries that cross each other.

@wreck -- I remember port/left exactly the same way.

Good stuff -- thanks, Greg.

Susan McConnell 8:56 AM  

Actually, I find peoples finishing times fascinating, since I doubt I could even copy the answers into a puzzle in the time that some of these smarties are able to finish. I find unnecessary snarkiness much more annoying.

This one was just ok for me. I also liked the clue for INWARD. I held off on putting in GRAPE JELLY, suspecting it might be a total curveball of a clue, but eventually GRAPE had to be GRAPE, and having the Y from SYDNEY pretty much sealed the deal.

Z 9:04 AM  

My OMAHANs were briefly ORPHANs leading to tUrBO before JUMBO. Hand up for spEd BY, too.

What killed me, though, was not knowing anyone on The View, let alone that Rosie O'DONNELL was on it for a season. I have seen one episode of Between Two Ferns, so know far more about it than The View. Being Saturday, LEAr jET seemed perfectly reasonable and somebody's name ending in -LJ is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Ergo - DNF here.

The mini-puzzles weren't too bad today, but agree with @Alias Z that it is bad form. Considering that BORAX is clued in a new way, having that X being the connector for the NW is especially poor. The J in the SE isn't too bad since even the best wrong guess (juice) still gives you the connecting J.

@evil doug - Lots of different types of solvers stop by here. What is laughable to you is useful to others.

C'mon Man 9:13 AM  

@Evil "I don't care" does not equal "Nobody doesn't care". Unless you're the most narciscistic bastard alive.

Also, how is the endless recital of things that annoy you any different than people talking about their times in terms of pointlessness, other than giving you the opportunity to tell others that you find them annoying?

Please die.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

@evil doug

Do you somehow think people find it funny when you make disparaging and insulting remarks to people you obviously consider to be of lesser intelligence than you? "Heh Heh. That Doug is right, a bunch of morons on here". Not at all. Actually, get a life.

Casco Kid 9:19 AM  

I started with 1A spEdBY, and confirmed with EDWOOD and YTD then REDHOT. An hour later I googled for the LENNON quote and started over. Meanwhile, I had ZIPDRIVE, GAZEBO, ELIXIR and MEGS. Then came monogRam for TAILORTO, so I ripped out ZIPDRIVE and I was ASEA in NE. GRAPEJELLY came easily, and so did Ganet, the sea bird. One n Ganet is a variant spelling. pEtALS, not SEPALS meant pASS was a sharp word? Well, ok. RENTAlcar not RENTABLE.

I quit after 90 hard minutes and a dozen googles and half blank. Only the NW was right. Thanks to googles.

I rate this medium-challenging undoable, noticeably harder than the average Saturday.

NCA President 9:25 AM  

I struggled in the SW...I don't speak enough Spanish to know that AQUI is a thing. I also could not see OPAQUE, the HOME part of HOMEPORT and HERALDS. I had EPISODEI from the beginning, but just couldn't get those last few to drop.

I also had a bit of a hiccup at ALTERANT.

But here's the deal. I actually got ALTERANT before that pesky SW...and for me, when a word like ALTERANT shows up in a grid I am having difficulty with, then solving unfilled squares becomes exponentially more difficult. I perceive a word like ALTERANT to be made up. In fact, as I type this, Google Chrome is saying that isn't a word. So, when I get to a corner like the SW (more like NoCal-ish), my mind thinks the answers there could literally be anything. at. all.

So there I sit, some kind of Spanish thing, a PORT that could be anywhere, and something hard to grasp (read: hard to see through). And quite honestly, the answers weren't eye-opening to boot, which made me not like the puzzle.

HOMEPORT is made up...along the lines of bluesky or anything where two obvious words are slapped together. OPAQUE is hard to see through, like a lead wall. Not, to me, hard to grasp. At least I don't use it that way. And HERALDS is to me, more like a verb less like a noun. The HERALD angels of the carol is an adjective. Those angels HERALDed the birth of Jesus. I suppose you could call them HERALDS in and of themselves, but I don't think of HERALDS as a noun. Meh. Whatever.

I got to the end of the grid and got that old familiar, "I don't care" attitude and DNF.

TL;DR: was not fun for me.

Hobbyist 9:42 AM  

zoo escapee ruined me.

jberg 9:42 AM  

Like @NCA PRES it was the SW that held me up - a lot (to respond to @Rex's question). Not because of HOME PORT's being made up though - it's a real thing, every ship has one, with its name emblazoned on the stern. Rather, because of some mental block that kept me from thinking of either OPAQUE or HERALDS, both of which should have been easy.

I got GRAPE JELLY right away (do people really drink juice from Concord grapes? Ugh), but had FOSSil until SYDNEY fixed me up on a blind date with Dian.

I'm surprised Rex didn't praise the pangramlessness of this puzzle. After the XZQ, I spent way too much time searching for the C.

@Evil Doug, don't let the haters get you down. Hey, folks, think about the first word in his name, which connotes a certain amount of irony, and get over it.

loren muse smith 9:43 AM  

Wow. No one is talking about the two big missteps I had here, and I thought everyone would.

Biggest problem: how the heck to spell ELIXIR. In my margin, I had "elixer" and "elixor" and decided the former looked correct. Looking at the two words typed here, I feel stupid. This one goof cost me the northwest ("_ ibet" for EXHIBIT) and hence dealt me a dnf. I did have ENOLA, LENNON, and ENDS, so there's that. . . @AliasZ has a good point – if that corner had been a little less isolated, maybe I could have had more of a chance.

Bigger biggest problem. That GRAPE stuff. I had Fanta. I had Crush. I had "drink" but cleverly saw its greenpaintness. Finally lurched my way to "juice/JUMBO and felt happy. Erased "snitch" and put SLEAZE and then, get this. I changed "juice to "jello" and never questioned it. Had a personal Natick at that bottom right square. "Sodne?/Fosse?" Sheesh.

I quickly erased 15A "on fire" erased when I saw clue for 53A.

@Danp – me, too, for "blew by" before FLEW BY. Thank you. Finally. And your whole post made me laugh!

@August West -OMAHAN seems to be the new grid darling. And they all eat acai berries for snack in elhi.

@Molly Shu – yep. Many times. The most memorable one, though, gives me a chance to be all judgmental and sanctimonious. @Z – are your ears perking up?! Seriously, though – this used to be the second biggest issue* I had with my kids' teachers when they were in middle and high school. When I taught at Carolina (expert, know-it-all, perfect teacher that I was), I assigned homework covering the new grammar every Friday. They turned it in Monday, I returned it with comments/corrections on Wednesday, and everyone got credit, regardless of its correctness or incorrectness; in my opinion, it was their first stab at the new stuff. We covered the points again during a Thursday recitation, and every Friday they had a grammar test. Once, this one student, McFarland-san, totally bombed a test. He was a wicked-shy guy, and I felt really bad for him - asked him to come SEE ME. We went over his mistakes and yada, yada. He never said much. A week later, I found the homework he had turned in that week – totally botched because he had not grasped the concept – that I had accidentally not returned to him; it had gotten stuck/misfiled somewhere in all my stuff. So the poor guy had had to take the test still not really understanding the material. Of course he failed. I asked him to SEE ME again, and I apologized and made it right for him. I forgot what we agreed on. Anyway – in high school, my kids took tests on material all the time covering stuff that they had worked on for homework, but the homework had still not been returned by test time. How can you not know where you're weak if you haven't seen how you did on your homework? @Z? I know there's another side here that I'm not seeing.

@Alias Z – "where to look for self-growth?" I had "scales" immediately. Then played around with "mirror" and then put "scales" back in, smiling. Well, grimacsmiling, actually. I hate scales. Speaking of scales, I keep seeing TIGH TEST. I have this pair of jeans that I have check every now and then to make sure still fit. . . .

*Anyone interested in hearing a diatribe on my biggest issue with my kids' teachers can email me.

Greg – Fine job. I enjoyed the workout.

Dirigonzo 9:53 AM  

"workmanlike and adequate" is all I ask of a puzzle since that also describes my solving style, so I liked this just fine. I actually liked ALTERANT as a fresh, new word (to me, anyway); on the other hand, I didn't know ZIPDRIVE had become obsolescent - I'm not exactly on the cutting edge of technology.

Donkos 10:00 AM  


I got grape jelly off the y in Sydney so didn't fall into that trap. I struggled in the southwest but mostly because there is no way I was going to know any of the hosts of the view. Like @retired_chemist, I found the proper names to be a little too opaque for me.

quilter1 10:01 AM  

FLEW BY went in first then I slowed way down. The SW defeated me and DNF but felt proud of what I got. Somehow I just wasn't in the groove today. Liked/disliked much as everyone else.

joho 10:12 AM  

Even with ___PORT, HERALDS, EPISODE1 POL, RENTABLE and TIGHTEST in I couldn't see OPAQUE, PLUS,MINUS,HOMEPORT, PRES* or AQUI* for the life of me.

*Being only English speaking was a stumbling block for me today.

I was pretty sure of ESAI but RANALONG never entered my mind. I was thinking "remaining."

Now I'm kicking myself for not sniffing out the "Q," the only missing letter from the pangram.

While I DNF I liked this a lot more than @Rex ... well done, Greg Johnson!

Questinia 10:13 AM  

The only thing that makes this puzzle have resistance is @ Alias Z's first paragraph observation. I had nothing but HIBIT for a while because of those dangling blocks, grokking it must be EXHIBIT but thought "what kind of junk ends in an 'X'?". BORAX!? "Gwen's pearls are pure BORAX". "You're full of BORAX".

But BORAX is not BORAX. A fine cleanser indeedy. From the Arabic meaning "white" būraq (بورق) it is a salt of boron. However somehow it has come to also mean cheap merchandise, especially "tasteless furnishings" that are meant to be showy. For that knowledge I thank you Mr. Johnson. I simply can't wait to use it at Gwen's next Junior League Luncheon honoring Joy Behar.

Debby Weinstein 10:46 AM  

A super-fun first for us. My husband and I usually work together, but this week we were stymied on both Friday and Saturday. Googling and checking Rex both taboo, so this morning we simply worked separately and kept passing the puzzles back and forth every time we slowed down. Took very little time to finish them off and give ourselves a high five. Two people, one pretty good brain.

Z 10:53 AM  

Warning: Pedagogical Discussion having nothing to do with the puzzle to follow:
@lms - I have heard the other side, usually when, after doing my very best to defend the indefensible to an irate parent, I had to have a heart-to-heart with a teacher. Feedback is one of the most critical responsibilities for anyone who wants to call themselves "teacher" and if a teacher isn't returning homework I have to wonder why it is being assigned. We once denied tenure to a teacher over this very issue. If you had been my teacher your Friday to Friday routine would have gotten one suggestion from me. Monday could have been "compare your work - mark any disagreements and discuss with your partner" for six minutes. This makes assessing for you way easier, let's them learn from each other, and helps develop soft skills. I have even seen teachers walk the room checking that everyone is done - no need to hand back the homework since they still have it. One of my goals was to help teachers spend less time grading and more time assessing.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:00 AM  

Tended toward challenging for me, but certainly a good puzzle overall.

Same bumps others have mentioned: SPED BY/FLEW BY, ET(A/D)/ARR, and of course GRAPEJUICE/JELLY; and this use of BORAX is new to me.

alice 11:05 AM  

Putting in lear jet for flyer in stead of leaflet gave me a lot of grief.

Steve J 11:26 AM  

Big hangups were in the NW and SW. Didn't help myself with a couple false starts - spEd BY, LEArjET - and misspelling ELIXeR. Even if I had spelled the latter correctly, I'm not sure I would have caught ZOO EXHIBIT. I'm assuming most zoo exhibits are colored with green paint.

Agreed that I would have liked to have seen zip beyond ZIP DRIVE. This was definitely clean and polished, which is always welcome, but some zing and cleverness would have made a good puzzle better.

MetaRex 11:28 AM  

Got whupped by this googling but finished in exactly twice the time of my better tushnet...had PRIDE for "Large pack" and PARIS for "Location of three presidential libraries" for long long long minutes...will be discreet on the number. Yep, I love timing myself and seeing my handle up on the NYT board, even on a day like today when I'm in the bottom third of the (not too) large pack...

AliasZ 11:33 AM  


I was merely objecting to the fact that the NW and SE corners were isolated mini-puzzles, having no connections to the rest of the puzzle except for two entries: ZOO EXHIBITS in the NW and GRAPE JELLY in the SE. While this still satisfies the letter of the "no unchecked letters" law, it gives a disjointed feel to the whole. If you get stuck for some reason in either corner, there is no other way to get in. For instance, if I had GEM or ART instead of ZOO, I would be stuck. No other access into that corner to set me straight. Thank goodness for FRIEZE (as at Yankee Stadium) which gave me the Z for ZOO. [See also the second paragraph of Jeff Chen's notes at xwordinfo.]

Now if the constructor decided to remove at least the two black squares following the words ENOLA and GRIFT, if not all four (following ENDS and TEAM as well), it would have made the whole grid more open and free flowing. You can see these options here. True, with every block removed, construction difficulty increases exponentially. It would have made it very tough to construct a 66- or 62-worder with an additional 4 or 8 clean and snappy 9-, 10- & 11-letter entries, but it has been done. Patrick Berry, Joe Krozel et al. have done it many times.

For a Saturday it is almost expected.

This is of course only my opinion. I still liked the puzzle for what it was: clean and mostly cringe free.

Doris 11:34 AM  

Well, this kind of pedantry would be acceptable only on a blog like this. BUT: An ENTRECHAT is NOT a leap! A leap is a type of jump in which one vaults from one place to another. An ENTRECHAT is a jump straight up into the air (from Fifth Position, to those who are au courant with ballet terminology), in which legs are quickly crossed and beaten from one to several times.Then one lands in exactly the same spot whence one took off. So it's NOT a leap.

(A lifetime of classical ballet training and still go to class several times a week. So there.) Whew! Got THAT off my chest!

Nancy 11:40 AM  

Didn't fill in 1A for the longest time because I couldn't decide between SPED BY and TORE BY (I was thinking of a motorcycle,) WHALES came to me very belatedly, finally giving me FLEW BY. I never heard of BORAX in that usage, either, which made that corner of the puzzle all but unsolvable. Like Loren, I misspelled ELIXIR with a final E, ending up, like her, with HIBeT, so didn't see EXHIBIT for a while. Hated ZOO EXHIBIT, because of the "One" in the clue. You can find a monkey often behind bars, but a whole exhibit???? Never heard of a ZIP DRIVE. Early fill-ins: TEXAS, TEAM, ALPHAS, SEE ME, RAN ALONG. Then I really, really struggled. But I finished. Liked the challenge of the puzzle more than the fill.

Ludyjynn 11:45 AM  

Midwest caused a DNF here after a strong start. Really enjoyed SEEME, ENOLA, EDWOOD, SEPALS, but was stymied by HERALDS, OPAQUE, PLUS and MINUS. For the longest time, had GARY (Busey) instead of ESAI, but even w/ that corrected, could not crack that Midwest nut, even though I had HORDE.

Oh well, you can't win 'em all! Had a good time trying. Thanks, GJ

mac 11:51 AM  

Loved this one, easy-medium Saturday.

After the first read-through I had pres and aviatior at 36D. That last one stayed in much too long, because I thought 54D might be "most dear".

At 44D, Concord concoction, I firmly stayed in the Massachussetts Colonial area, trying to think of a historical fact or happening. Oh, and there is Gazebo as well. Still in the BEQ mode.

@jberg: isn't it amazing, a 70word English language puzzle without C??

Nancy 11:53 AM  

It's me, again. A message to ALIAS Z:
I found your crossword diagrams fascinating and enlightening and I thank you for taking the time to provide the demonstration. I never think about puzzle construction, as I'm not a constructor and my focus is completely on solving. I am always thinking about words and phrases, not diagrams, but your demo made crystal clear (one picture being worth 1,000 words), that the reason I found this puzzle so difficult and frustrating was actually more about the construction than the clues and answers. I now understand what an "open" puzzle is and why they are fairer and more fun. Thanks.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Hung up in the NW because I did not know BORAX from that clue. "20-Mule Team ---" would have given it to me. Even "Reagan was its pitchman."

mathguy 12:48 PM  

After it was done, I looked back to see why I had so much trouble with it. Only four entries I didn't know and they were short. Out of the 70 clues, 29 were either straight definitions or close to it. It shouldn't have been that hard. Perhaps it was the isolation of the NW and SE. Anyway, I might still be staring at it if my wife hadn't jumped in with some great gets. I'm with you, Debby Weinstein. She got ODONNELL, EPISODEI (great one!), GESTATES, ENVISION, STETSONS.

As Steve J says, it was very clean but could have had more zip, although EPISODEI and FOSSEY were sweet.

Fred Romagnolo 1:00 PM  

you could not have grown up in the Mission District of San Francisco without seeing store window signs saying "aqui se habla espanol." This was before the district being taken over by Hispanics, making such signs unnecessary; ironically they are now being dispossessed by the Siliconers. That gave me the Colorado section. As a former altarboy I knew sexton, which gave me the Virginia section. the word "bars" in the clue for zoo exhibit led me to work on a construction with prohibition, and it was the only entry to the NW. Realizing "frieze" saved me. Haven't had to google for four weeks now.

Gill I. P. 1:00 PM  

@Rex...your CLONK word made me look it up and while I was there I looked up GRIFT - never heard of these words!
Had tons of write-overs. The two that had me crying in my Jesus juice were AUDIE instead of ENOLA and for what reason I can't figure out had ORPHAN for many a worker at Union Pacific (Hi Z).
@LMS hand up for ELeXIR and my sharp words were jAbs. Ay, ay ay - que mess.
Although AQUI was my only entry for a long time and I made a ton of mistakes, I really enjoyed the workout Mr. Johnson.
Oh, I think oxygen does have an odor. I can't describe it but when I'm given it, I know what it is.

DigitalDan 1:40 PM  

@wreck: The sentence "RED LEFT PORT" both pins down which is PORT and which color light represents it. Very useful.

Mohair Sam 1:48 PM  

Played medium here and really enjoyed. Thought it was very scrabbly with absolutely no f'ing - impressive.

Wife got GRAPEJELLY off the PE so the SE, which bothered some, fell quickly for us. We had the whole puzzle filled except for a near total blank in the NW caused to no small degree by artEXHIBIT. Our visiting son came in last night from Vegas and when he came down to breakfast we asked the "high roller" question, got a quick WHALES in reponse, hence ENOLA, hence EDWOOD, hence finished puzzle.

It seems like only last month when having a ZIPDRIVE put you in the vanguard of micro-computing. Sigh.

@DebbieWeinstein - We're a solving team too, never tried the way you did today - but we're gonna give it shot when we're stymied sometime. On the rare occasion I solve alone it's not nearly as much fun.

@Doris - Thanks for the lol and the ballet lesson.

btw - If you haven't seen "The GRIFTers" you should rent or stream it.

Lewis 1:51 PM  

Can someone explain LEES: Remains after the aging process?

Never knew this meaning of BORAX and don't plan on using it any time soon. For 36D I had _EA_L_T. All I could think of was SEASLUT. Oh I know it's not a word, but I like the look of it.

The puzzle gave me a great workout, and though I had to stoop to conquer (two Googles), I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kim Scudera 2:18 PM  

@Lewis: from LEES : the sediment of a liquor (as wine) during fermentation and aging : dregs

Kim Scudera 2:32 PM  

Nice to come here and see my experience reflected in others': hi, everybody (well, except for @Rex and @August West: blazing fast I was not!)

Biggest difficulty/slowdown was the isolated mini-puzzle problem expressed by @AliasZ. I had all the corners and none of the diagonal.

Next problem: mistakes everywhere!

INside before INWARD
AdaptiNg and AdaptANT before ALTERANT (which auto-correct is flagging, BTW)
BORA_ before long dead time-eating pause before BORAX
ET_ before ARR
TyPeaS before ALPHAS
AfLAmE before ABLAZE

Love @Debbie Weinstein's team solve approach! Thanks for sharing it with the blog!

Thanks, Greg for an entertaining puzzle!

Carola 2:38 PM  

@Alias Z - I was interested in your comments about the minipuzzles with just one way in: my thought was, "Ah, yes, it's Saturday = hard." In other words, I'd thought of this kind of construction as fairer on a Saturday than other days.

@Doris - Thanks for explaining "entrechat." Belatedly, I'd also like to thank you for the lovely DAMASK quote from some puzzles back.

@Mohair Sam - Agree about The GRIFTers - Anjelica Huston - fantastic.

Phil 3:04 PM  

Can't believe no one but me had left/right for a stickler.
Especially with an easy 'i' cross letter.

Did finish before sundays and saturdays usually were all weekers for me.

But my spanish speaking wife and my house in France helped (that's right and I still don't understand French)

Why google. I don't check answers even if I DNF.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 3:13 PM  

Big ker-clonk bogdown spot for us, was in this here western search area:

It was the corner we painted ourselves into, today. Always seem to get one of those, on FriPuz and SatPuz days. Am I right?

I say "we", because I turned this puz over to the PuzEatinSpouse, in forlorn desperation, at the three and a quarter cinnamon roll milemarker. (Standard cutoff point) Lost valuable nanoseconds, passin the paper, passin the pencil, and whimperin sympathetical-like.

Probably part of el problemo there was the "Opposite of xx-Across/Down" clues, for crossin answers. Cool, but nasty, touch. Would make a neat Kpool Krossword theme...

@muse: Don't recall many SEEME's from my teachers. Had to switch assigned seat location several times, in junior high classes, tho. Was a record-holdin legend, at that. One teacher said it was eventually like solvin a puz, findin the next spot to park m&e. Heck, the way I looked at it, I just started way at the back, and near (pres) always ended up positioned at the head of the class.

Fun, feisty puz.


p.s. When in Albuquerque, be sure to visit the New Mexico Natural History Museum. Primo dinosaurs. Seismosaurus! Coop-da-gracie, tho, was the "Grossology" Exhibit. This is no joke, people! Had great displays on "Snot", "Burps", "Gas Attack", and my personal fave: "Urine: The Game". U. Cannot. Miss. Out. On. This. Please.
But I digress.

Anoa Bob 3:27 PM  

When I bought my sailboat I came up with a list of potential names for her but none really LEAPT out and grabbed me. One day while doing an xword I came across the clue "Gentle breeze" and the answer, Zephyr, immediately became my little boats name. I painted that along with her HOME PORT, Port Isabel, TX on the stern.

On the PLUS side, I liked SEXTON, ELIXIR and the SLEAZE FRIEZE.

On the MINUS side, the NW and SE were almost mini-puzzles unto themselves and there were a bunch of POCs, including double POCs (where a Down and an Across share a letter count boosting ess at their ends) at 4D/25A, 7D/28A, 14D/34A, 20D/30A, & 27D/36A.

I'm guessing that EPI SO DEI (31D) is middle Latin for some kind of Gregorian chant, right?

M and A Episode II 3:56 PM  

It has come to my attention, that there is also a web site:
Has a recipe there for makin fake barf! day-um.
I mean, what would U people ever do without m&e. (List makin assignment, there.)


Lucy 4:18 PM  

@AliasZ Thank you for your lengthy explanation. I had no idea that there were such extensive rules for puzzle construction. I knew about the symmetry requirements, but that's about it. Personally, I didn't notice the mini puzzles, nor did they prevent me from solving. One can still refer to across and down clues to complete the other squares within the mini puzzles, so I am sorry to say that I don't fully comprehend the issue with them. However, I thank you for your time and effort in responding to my question.

Erasures Inevitable 4:21 PM  

DNF today. This puzzle made me feel really stupid in a couple of spots. Had _OOE_HIBITS at 22-A and figured this could not possibly be a word or combination of words. Something had to be wrong with the crosses, but I was pretty confident in them. Sure enough, I come here and find out you have to Scrabble-f*** that sucker to finish it.

Had TI_ _TEST at 54-A and couldn't divine the the GH because I convinced myself there was some host on The View named ODaoNEaL.

Had tyPeAS at 40-D so that screwed me for a few minutes. I hated this puzzle until I came here to see the solution. I realized that hatred stemmed more from my own obliviousness than the puzzle itself.

jae 5:02 PM  

@lms, Steve J., Gill I.P., &? After reading Loren's comment I realized I too do not know how to spell ELIXeR and had failed to check/correct EXHIBeT which I sorta do know how to spell. So, DNF here also.

More pedagogical discussion:
I never ceases to amaze me how a small percentage of teachers fail to grasp the basics of what they are supposed to be doing. My granddaughter's physics teacher believes the he is not doing his job if he gives too many As and as a result constructs tests that go beyond the material being taught. It's not nice to fool students!

Lucy 5:20 PM  

@AliasZ - Okay, now I get it. I had neglected to "see" the problem. Thanks again.

sanfranman59 6:01 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 6:01, 6:15, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 12:39, 8:20, 1.52, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 223 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:17, 10:13, 1.01, 55%, Medium
Thu 16:47, 18:41, 0.90, 29%, Easy-Medium
Fri 21:23, 21:24, 1.00, 49%, Medium
Sat 24:55, 27:52, 0.89, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:59, 0.99, 36%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:56, 5:11, 1.53, 100%, über-Challenging (highest ratio of 223 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:26, 6:14, 1.03, 59%, Medium
Thu 10:31, 10:44, 0.98, 44%, Medium
Fri 13:50, 12:39, 1.09, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 16:23, 17:32, 0.93, 36%, Easy-Medium

loren muse smith 6:05 PM  

@jae, Steve J, Gill I.P., et al – glad to hear it wasn't just me (@Bob K – er, wasn't just I) on spelling ELIXIR.

Speaking of problematic words, how do you spell that egg white stuff on top of a lemon pie? Quick! And you can't look it up first!

@M&A – I've had the student you were in many manifestations over the years. Moving a digesting disruption is effective, even if it means moving his/her desk to the corner facing the wall. I recently had this conversation:

Me: "That's it, Tyler. Move over here now."
Tyler: "What? I didn't do anything!"
Me: "You burped. For the third time. I have a Three Burps and You Move policy."

I had him again yesterday and he good-naturedly reminded me of this. Hey, but he behaved.

My inner 12-year-old made me check out your site. Cool! You may like this site – I used to buy stuff all the time from this place

good stuff

@jae – My kids had teachers like that, too. Sheesh it made me mad!

Tita 6:19 PM  

Oof...a train platfORm is a regular embarkation location for commuters. THat and more caused a train wreck for me.
We often drink Life to the LEES around here. Well, we drink our wine to them, anyway. Though we rarely by wine of high enough quality to even have any.

THe word in Portuguese is pé, which means foot. If I ever gave that word any thought, I would just think it referred to the fact that the sediment is at the bottom of the bottle.
In thinking about it some more, I fear that it might have to do with grapes being crushed by foot...

They don't do that any more, right?

Never heard "Trimates" before - glad to have learned it now. It was inferable, and one of my few toeholds.

Didn't we just have TEXAS and GAZEBO?

Anyhow, liked the puzzle. though I shoulda done more walking away for a bit before giving up and googling.

Than you Mr. Johnson.

michael 6:42 PM  

I was zooming along thinking this was easy for a Saturday. But then I couldn't crack the northwest and had to google twice before finishing. And looking back, I don't think "I should have known 'Ed Wood' and "Lennon." Just didn't know them and didn't get the crosses until I did the googling.

But overall a nice smooth puzzle.

Tita 6:46 PM  

@AliasZ - tried to comment below your link - don't think it let me.
Anyhow - so clear and simple - thanks for helping me ENVISION that.

To all the PORT mnemonics pushers out there - can you explain why I almost always mix up right and left, but never, ever, mix up port and starboard?

Thanks @Doris - another fun thing I learned via the puzzle.

syndy 7:04 PM  

I bLEWBY this fairly easy saturday PLUS or MINUS an OPAQUE HERALD or two! HERALD being definitely a noun-very important medival personage and the Angels were being Heralds!heralding being to do a Heralds job! the King is coming make a hole!

Masked and Unanimous 7:19 PM  

@muse: nice site!
"Remote Fart Machine #2" -- admired the "#2" part. I want me one of those. "Be the hit of yer next blogsite".

Here is a puz that, in theory, should "attract"...

Three burps and out.

Dirigonzo 7:20 PM  

@Tita - Right and left are inherently confusing - your right or mine, whose left do you mean? - but port and starboard are always relative to the bow of the boat. This is why time spent on the water is always less confusing, and more enjoyable, than time spent on the hard. See you on the water (if winter ever ends)!

Bob Kerfuffle 7:57 PM  

@M&A - Gave it my best, tried what I could for 15 minutes, actually filled in a few correct answers, then started revealing short words, shocked to find a few were correct, made more guesses, some correct, "finished" in 25 min 38 sec.

Thanks again!

Gill I. P. 8:12 PM  

@Tita @Dirigonzo. I don't know about a left/right mnemonic but a boyfriend of long ago who had a sailboat (and nothing else) taught me "star light, star bright, starboard is to the right." Tres intellectual don't you think?
@syndy....You're back!! I missed you and your Ipad.

Dirigonzo 9:31 PM  

@Gil I.P. - If he had a sailboat what else would you need?

Outlaw M and A 11:31 PM  

@Bob K... Sorry. Too hard for human consumption.
o <-- tears of remorse.


Jackie 12:14 PM  

This was by far the easiest Saturday I've ever solved. And the only Saturdays I've ever completed with no mistakes (as per the little smiling guy who popped up on my Across Lite screen).

Tita 12:24 PM  

@Gill, @Diri - wonderful!!

kms 12:52 PM  

Easy until I got blown up by SE - HOMEPORT and OPAQUE killed me, and really bad because I'm bilingual in Spanish, to miss coin a kids phrase these days...My Bad! otherwise great stuff on Saturday, 2 in a row w/ STPAT, and very much liked OMAHAN

spacecraft 12:28 PM  

How could OFL be confused by GRAPEJuice? Wasn't the #1 gimme SYDNEY? Mine was, but I didn't see much farther there, so I RANALONG to the NW, where WHALES came right away (I live in Vegas). Done with that corner, I had BORA_ and ZOOE______. Nothing.

Back to SE. The J crossing then hit me, and that corner was gone. From there I slowly wormed my way around to the SW. ObtusE almost scuttled me. My extremely thin knowledge of the Romance languages left me in the dark as to PRES and AQUI, but I finally parsed EPISODEI and OPAQUE became, uh, transparent.

Perilously close to a DNF, but I pulled through. Nothing medium about this one, though: challenging all the way. I agree with OFL on the ODOR of 16- and 52a, but the rest of it was clean and satisfying. Mr Johnson has constructing chops, for sure.

9's full today. Any good?

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Nifty puzz for a Saturday. I was giving myself kudos (only googled once Esai) until I noticed I had Kegs instead of Megs. Boo Hoo I will atone by skipping the Sunday puzzle, which I never do anyway.

As far as "completion time" is concerned, I couldn't care less. With me, it's too many interruptions, like making coffee, feeding cats, answering phone, bathroom, etc. Sometimes I finish the puzzle late in the day when all is calm. Hey, it's a fun exercise not an obligation of any kind.

I sure enjoy most of the comments from the regulars, even Evil D.

Ron Diego 9:30 AM PST 4/26

Solving in Seattle 2:39 PM  

spEdBY before FLEW. WHALES corrected that mistake. AfLAmE before ABLAZE. JUMBO corrected that error. pEtALS before SEPALS. SYDNEY was a gift from Greg and helped with the SE.
TRALLS and GREBE both totally on crosses. Natickville for me. With the exception of 16A, the NE section was elegant. EPISODEI was almost impossible for me to parse.
I don't watch The View, but I really wouldn't have watched it if Rosy ODONNELL was on it.
I enjoyed solving this satpuz.

Four twos. Sorry Spacy.

Dirigonzo 2:58 PM  

Just stopped by to ante up and try my luck at the poker table but I should have just stayed away - 3 eights.

I do want to add an Amen to Ron Diego's "Hey, it's a fun exercise not an obligation of any kind."

DMG 4:31 PM  

Enjoyed this one, but found it a real test of my vocabulary. How often does one use words like GESTATES and ALTERANT? At any rate, my vocabulary stretched so far and then quit. Got the right half, and sputtered around in the NW. Toyed for a moment with the idea that somehow tIBET was behind bars! Even guessing LENNON left me with spaces in that corner. BORAX-really?

Then there was the OPAQUE SW. Don't know French, haven't seen The View or La Bamba, thought Enterprise was the name of some science fiction vehicle, and would never use HERALDS as signs of something. Thus, with nothing but GREBES and TRILLS in place, I didn't have enough to hang any guesses on. so it goes somedays! (Most Saturdays.)

Wonder what's happened to @Ginger. Hope she's well.

Had a good hand but it just switched to a loosing three 3's. Pot seems to belong to @SIS.

Waxy in Montreal 7:15 PM  

@DMG, similar difficulty with the SW, especially AQUI and ESAI. And with FRIEZE & ALTERANT up north. Swallowed the GRAPEJUICE too. Otherwise a not too challenging Saturday puzzle, maybe on a par with this week's Tuesday.

Non-numeric captcha. Can't compete.

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