Popularity boost due to certain TV endorsement / SAT 4-12-14 / Mythical abode of heroes slain in battle / Fur Traders Descending Missouri painter 1845 / 21st-century pastime for treasure hunters / Pungent panini ingredient / Collages novelist 1964

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Constructor: Mel Rosen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ASCI (47D: Sacs studied by 58-Across) —
An ascus (plural asci; from Greek ἀσκός "skin bag") is the sexual spore-bearing cell produced in ascomycete fungi. On average, asci normally contain eight ascospores, produced by a meiotic cell division followed, in most species, by a mitotic cell division. However, asci in some genera or species can occur in numbers of one (e.g. Monosporascus cannonballus), two, four, or multiples of four. In a few cases, the ascospores can bud off conidia that may fill the asci (e.g. Tympanis) with hundreds of conidia, or the ascospores may fragment, e.g. some Cordyceps, also filling the asci with smaller cells. Ascospores are nonmotile, usually single celled, but not infrequently may be coenocytic (lacking a septum), and in some cases coenocytic in multiple planes. Mitotic divisions within the developing spores populate each resulting cell in septate ascospores with nuclei. (wikipedia)
• • •

I liked this puzzle way more than I thought I would. Figured Mel Rosen's sweet spot would be somewhat far afield from mine, and while perhaps on other days that has been true, today: false. Or, rather, partially true, but in a way that still allowed me a pleasurable experience. Flummoxed by PYE DOGS, ALEKSEI, ASCI and BINGHAM (this despite living in Binghamton … no connection, I presume). But everything else was either reasonably common knowledge or slightly uncommon knowledge that I also happened to share. I took one look at 1A: Popularity boost due to a certain TV endorsement and thought COLBERT BUMP. Then thought, "No way. Too show-specific." But it fit so I wrote it in and went after the crosses. Astonished/thrilled when I got a few to work. Pretty timely 1A, I gotta say, what with Colbert getting the (future) Late Show gig just yesterday. I look forward to the inevitable on-air self-celebration caused by this "honor." Anyway, longtime viewers of his Report will be very familiar with the BUMP; others … I don't know. I guess you'll just have to fight your way out of that corner with a sharp object and gumption.

I felt like I kept lucking into answers. 1A was the luckiest, but … take SAFECO. I only learned just last week that SAFECO was an insurance company. Today, that info helped a ton with getting into that SE corner. I filed my taxes today, so I think I just saw that damned IRS logo. It seemed like I was either making lucky initial guesses or having just enough crosses to be able to make sense of some of the longer answers. I got GEOCACHING off the "G," and I'm not sure I would even  have needed that (27D: 21st-century treasure hunters). I spend a lot of time in the woods, and every once in a while you see people who look lost, or at least out of place. Geocachers, it turns out. This puzzle has some odd words, but overall it's pretty clean, laudably contemporary, and entertainingly varied in its range of answers. Its faults (there are a few, mainly in the short fill) are eminently forgivable.

Finished in just over 8, though I must've lost at least half a minute in pure Lionel Richie Frustration. I could not accept not knowing a 1987 Lionel Richie hit. "Truly" … "Hello" … "Dancin' on the Ceilin'" … COME ON! I do not remember SELA at all. I'm playing it now … barely registering. "Hit?" It's got a super reggae feel. I guess it beats yet another SELA Ward clue.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Mark 12:02 AM  

A few, like BACKBENCH, went in easily, but I did quite a bit of binging, including for BINGHAM. I thought the hell quote was from SARTRE, but it wasn't. I thought the departments were in PARIS, but pas vrai. How many solvers knew SELA?

Someone recently asked us plodders to post times to help forestall fainting from Rex's sprints. With the binging, I came in at 53:16.

wreck 12:04 AM  

A big WTH?? for me.

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

I'm not really buying COLBERTBUMP as a general crossword entry. Seems quite a bit too obscure for my taste. Something like TWERKING or GANGNAMSTYLE, which both has achieved significant popularity ,would be crossword-acceptable

jae 12:25 AM  

Easy-medium- tough for me.  Put in COLBERT BUMP out of the printer with no crosses and had the NW done in Mon. time.  The NE was a bit tougher but no long pauses there.  The SW and central were tough.  I've heard of GEO CACHING but it took a while to surface and I was blind guessing on ALEKSEI.  I was pretty sure of ALOE and BACK BENCH, but I like @Rex had no idea about the Richie song.  So, this was a cross my fingers and hope it's OK solve. Got lucky I guess.

gmt before ENG and never heard of PYEDOGS or ASCI. 

Any puzzle that starts out with the very trendy COLBERT has got my vote. When you add a more than a dollop of crunch and some additional zip ...HEELS, OTTO, DANGS, MAO SUIT... you can overlook some of the less stellar stuff.  Very nice Sat. Mr. Rosen!

John Child 12:34 AM  

I liked this a lot but DNF with the NW four by four block empty or wrong. Colbert, really? Piltdown man was a hoax, not a BRIT. Not a great clue, what? Nor do I see how a TROT is a "spring." Hu Jintao is much better known for his necktie than a MAO SUIT. There are ever so many other Chinese figures better suited for the clue.

But DOCENTS shedding light was wonderful, and AHAB as an answer with he white whale as a clue was fun. DANGS is a super alternative to shoots, and HAITIs départements brought a nice aha moment. Time for a pizza with BASIL and ONION. Sweet! (I mean DOLCE).

okanaganer 12:57 AM  

Wow...for a change, being Canadian actually gave me a gimme: BACKBENCH. (A backbencher is a representative who basically wields no power other than the vote they get due to their elected position). Even though it destroyed about four wrong crosses I had guessed at. But that was a good thing.

I couldn't believe that 4D "Piltdown man, say" wasn't HOAX. I was ever so sure!

One error for me at 51A / 53D where I had ACT and MYTOLOGISTS. Can someone illuminate for me what the heck the "Orange's org" clue means? Please tell me it's not a US college sports thing?

Jisvan 1:31 AM  

Waaay over my head, and I googled desperately to "finish" but I did learn a lot about mushroom sex and Piltdown man, and the VASCOs, both De Gamma and Balboa! Loved the stuff I was able to solve fairly, like HEATSENSORS floating above the ARCTIC OCEAN, GEOCACHING, DOCENTS, ASGARD and ASIAGO. 1hour 03 for me. Happy weekend all.

Casco Kid 1:48 AM  

Like Rex, I felt like Lady Luck was rolling my way today. 55 min complete grid with no googles and 3 subtle errors. lAFECO/lETSgo/ROOg. The glass was 69/72 full. lAFECO is as sensible as SAFECO as far as proper names go. lETSgO for [Gets started] is reasonable, and ROOg for [A cube has one] is no weirder than ASCI sacs. I figured a ROOg is the ratchety doohickey in the center of a Rubick's cube. If I'd stopped to question that, I'd still be questioning PYEDOGS and a few others.

Wanted PARKER for [Each if us bears his own Hell]. Dorothy or Rex. Take your pick.

I rate it EASY for a Saturday -- much, much easier than Thursday or Friday this week -- and DOABLE if your reflexes take you to SETSTO first. With just a bit more luck, I would have done it.

@okana Syracuse University Orangemen play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. For some reason Syracuse-Notre Dame is not an annual blood bath of a rivalry. Oh, I know. Americans don't know any history. Serves us well, eh? (EH!) ;)

@JohnChild Piltdown was a hoax AND a Brit.

chefwen 2:26 AM  

Certainly not easy/medium for me, more like medium to "I quit". 4D was easily HOAX like John Child and Okanaganer had was clearly correct, I wouldn't change it for love nor money. More fool me. I had so many mistakes when I threw in the towel, it was laughable. O.K. I did get ASIAGO, I Do know my cheeses.

John Child 3:21 AM  

@Casko Kid Yes, the fossil bits were discovered in England. I'm sure that if COLBERT had appeared I would have accepted BRIT with a groan. But Piltdown wasn't anything, so couldn't be a BRIT.

Man, those grapes were sour in that corner. But I did love the rest of the puzzle.

Danp 6:15 AM  

Piltdown is a place in East Sussex. Standard misdirection, but well executed.

Geocaching? Never heard of it. Somebody tell me it's more fun than looking for your contact lens. And maybe why.

Clue for HEATHERY struck me as a bit desperate. Sort of like, I don't know what heather is, but it is something from a heath.

And LII is a big UGH! Note to the Bard: Resist the urge. Even you didn't know which one it was.

Hartley70 6:22 AM  

Lesson to self- do not try the Saturday puzzle at 4am. Over an hour of agony marked by frequent googles has left me with a grumpy start to the day. Easy? Seriously?

Moly Shu 7:04 AM  

Difficult for me. 1:22 spread over 3 attempts. Way too many things I've never heard of. ROLAND, MYCOLOGISTS, ASCI, PYEDOGS, BACKBENCH, etc. Didn't really know ASGARD, SELA, DOCENT, or DOLCE, just knew I'd seen them before, and they looked correct. Don't watch COLBERT, don't think he's funny, so that was a whole other problem.

TROT for Arab Spring? I'm guessing has to do with the gait of a horse. Since ARAB's are a type of horse, when they TROT, they may have a spring in their step.

My solving experience included a sense of dread that was nagging at me. I wondered how @CascoKId was doing, thought "no way he's getting anywhere close to this". Ready to compare his post to a gory accident on the side of the highway. You don't want to look, but have to. Very happy to see that he did way better than me, and didn't have an epic fail. I think your getting the hang of it, @Casco.

The difficulty level numbed my enjoyment, but I'll put it in the like column. Just barely.

Clark 7:29 AM  

Big old dnf for me. I got everything except the whole NW to North Central. CELT to PYE was one big mess. Never heard of PYE DOG, or COLBERTBUMP. Figured Piltdown Man was a hoax or a scam. My Rio Negro becomes the Amazon at Manaus, Brazil. I was stuck on the wrong kind of diet and the wrong kind of Arab. Yikes. Someday I will puzzle with the grownups. For now I still sit at the kids' table.

Dawn 7:41 AM  

Medium-medium for me.

PYEDOGS? Is that due to unusual colorations from being mixed breeds? Will look it up.

Hardly ever see the name Roland. It was my Dads name. Very comforting.

When are the NYT puzzles designed? Was the Colbert reference on purpose?

Dawn 7:43 AM  

Also-DNF. )-:

Carola 8:17 AM  

My experience was like @jae's - easy/medium-tough, but for me it was the NW chunk that almost took me to the mat: hadn't heard of COLBERT BUMP, MR ROARKE or PYE-DOGS; had "I'm so SO SORRY...." Out of ROLAND, TSARS, and BOTS, I had to proceed by, "Let's see, what words could...."

I liked BACK BENCH for the BRIT and the nice international array of names: CHE, MAO, VIRGIL, VASCO, ALEKSEI.

My favorite BINGHAM painting is The Jolly Flatboatmen.

@Danp - Thanks for the Piltdown clarification. I totally fell for that "fake"-out.

Glimmerglass 8:36 AM  

For me, harder than the usual Saturday, because there were a half dozen words I'd never heard of. Some fell to crosses (COLBERT BUMP), but some didn't (GEOCACHING, BINGHAM). The long triple-stacks were relatively easy. A tip of my hat to those who found it easy. I finished with three wrong squares.

Casco Kid 8:50 AM  

@danp Geocaching is a GPS+hide-and-seek+social media game. The hiders put small canisters in singular places then report the whereabouts with lat-long on a geocaching server. Fine details of the singular location (under a fancy rock, on the "mossy side" of a downtown fountain, etc) are clued not unlike a crossword, i.e., to deliver a maximal aha moment for the seeker. The seekers find them and sign the logsheet and report their aha moments on blog sites not dissimilar to this one. And everyone gets to use their CB handles or AT trail names one more time.

Like most hobbies, the journey is the destination. I 've walked my home city with geocachers and discovered areas in the Old Port I hadn't known about. @cascodog thinks I should take up geocaching, specifically at the expense of crosswords.

Dawn 8:55 AM  


Originates from India. "Pah" meant outsider. A stray is an outsider dog.

Twangster 8:56 AM  

Why is "dot-dot-dot" ess? Thought it could be etc.

Found this puzzle challenging/impossible to finish because of ALEKSEI, GEOCOACHING, SELA. Also wasn't sure whether it would HINGHAM or BINGHAM and HEATHERY or FEATHERY.

Sam M 9:00 AM  

@Twangster - dot-dot-dot is S in Morse code.

jberg 9:26 AM  

Yeah, I should have noticed that the clue says "man," not "Man." That would have saved me several minutes of solving the Kenkens to give my mind a rest while trying to cross a druid with I'm so SO SORRY. Maybe not, though, because (being an old fogey) I thought 1A must have Oprah in it somewhere.

I used to spend a lot of time hunting mushrooms, so ASCII wasn't too much of a problem. FREON took longer than it should have, since I teach about the ozone hole at least twice a year. Aside from hoax before BRIT, other writeovers were Ensor before ERNST, Omar before OTTO (refreshingly clued, neither an emperor nor a comic-strip dog), and sLOE before ALOE.

But let's have some love for ROLAND, without whom Europe would have been part of Islam, and Otto LII would never have been Holy Roman Emperor!

Questinia 9:28 AM  

Found a GEOCACHING container by accident under a rock off the Appalachian trail a few years ago. Thought I found someone's stash. Disappointment.

Fun puzzle. An olio. It tended more medium for me because of Sartre before VIRGIL yielding an internal debate of whether both DaGama and Balboa were named VASCO. I've associated VASCO with DaGama since the 5th grade while Balboa is just plain Balboa. Held me up way too long.

Liked learning about PYE DOGS and COLBERT BUMP.

Excellent puzzle Mr. Rosen!

Howard B 9:38 AM  

Its a US college sports thing. Sorry. tough cross in that case.

AliasZ 9:50 AM  

I see many of us fell for the HOAX misdirection, but did anyone enter ROCKY for Balboa's first name?

Spanish explorer VASCO Núñez de Balboa (1475-1519) is best known for founding the first permanent settlement on the mainland of the New World, Santa María la Antigua del Darién in present-day Panama (1510), and for being the first European to reach the Pacific Ocean by crossing the Isthmus of Panama (1513). He became mayor of Santa Maria, and governor of the newly occupied coastal territory called Veragua, in present day Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. His life reads like an adventure novel full of intrigue, rivalries, accusations, arrests, a marriage by proxy, and death by decapitation with an ax. The main features: he married María de Peñalosa, daughter of Pedro Arias de Ávila, governor of Castilla de Oro (Colombia). The bride was in Spain, Balboa never saw her and never had a chance to consummate the marriage. In 1519 he was accused of trying to expand his power into new territories by building more ships and exploring further lands. On orders from his father-in-law, Balboa was arrested by a group of soldiers under the command of none other than Francisco Pizarro, tried, and executed by a gruesome three whacks.

On the other hand, VASCO da Gama (1460-1524) was a Portuguese explorer who traveled in the exact opposite direction of Balboa, and died of malaria. He was the first European to reach India by sea.

COLBERT-what? GEO-what? PYE-what? ALEKSEI-who? ASCI-what? I know ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) but not ASCI. Lots of WOES in this one. EVER SO SORRY, but I do not like WOES and culs-de-sac.

I love HEATHERY MR. ROARKE sitting on the BACK BENCH, HEAT SENSORS in the ARCTIC OCEAN and mushrooms on my pizza picked by MYCOLOGISTS.

ISITART: Ravi Shankar's instrument is in i-t.

Is ASGARD another name for rear protector?

I OTTO go now. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Z 10:02 AM  

I'm with @Carola - an Easy-Fail puzzle.

The COLBERT BUMP gets discussed quite a bit in the media. Unlike "truthiness," it originates outside the show: Authors who appear on the Colbert Report (silent T's for those who are in bed by 11:30) will see a sales bump on Amazon soon afterwards. With the recent news of Letterman's retirement and the naming of Colbert to replace him, the term has been in the ether for the past couple of days.

I had footholds in every section, but fell off the cliff everywhere but the NW. I started in hell with Sartre, tried Pirsig though it didn't feel right. I never got out of Africa for my French speaking country. BINGHAM is less famous than NC Wyeth in this household. Nehru jackets I've heard of, and a MAO SUIT is new to me - something I recognize after the fact. I didn't realize Mao had joined Nehru in the realm of dated geo-political-fashion nomenclature. Maybe if the clue had referenced Blofeld or Dr. No the image in my head would have helped. As it was, I spent more time considering the possibility that Hu Jintao was a ballet dancer than I did anything close to the right answer. HEATHERY looks made-up.

Roughest Saturday in quite awhile here.

tensace 10:05 AM  

Another clue for CHE would and should be Fidel's Executioner, certainly not Rebel in a Beret which conjures up hero-dom and romance. The monster murdered 1000s and that should be the legacy that is remembered.

MAO SUIT should be similarly treated. Though to be fair to CHE, MAO in killing 75 million made CHE look like a rank amateur.

I don't mean to get all political, but do meant to be historical. Both men were monsters.

Susierah 10:06 AM  

Totally impossible for me! A few answers here and there, only sw complete. Threw in the towel after 30 minutes. Terrible Saturday for me, just when I thought I was getting so much smarter. Yes, rocky balboa and hoax . I know who Steven Colbert is , but that clue was way out of my expertise. I am amazed Rex can call this easy medium and finish in eight minutes!!!

joho 10:14 AM  

@jberg, I'll raise you a "so" as I had sosoSOSORRY. LOL. I also thought the Negro was in aRg. DNF in the NW corner and blame it on Mel Rosen and his cruel hOax!

Actually, Mel, congratulations to you on a terrific Saturday puzzle. I am rarely so flummoxed. But I want know ... are you EVERSOSORRY? Are you?

Kim Scudera 10:19 AM  

Loved it, despite falling into any number of holes along the way. (And i was sure that 25A was looking for a Klingon reference, so thank goodness for the crosses. Except SELA. Mornin', @Rex!) A good friend is an avid GEOCACHer, so GEOCACHING went in with no crosses, saving my bacon big-time in the SW. Wanted MYCOphiles -- thank-you note going out to my high school Latin teacher! -- but it didn't fit, so MYCOLOGISTS got me into the SE. CHE went in off the beret. Loved HAITI instead of the expected France reference.

A wheelhouse day, for sure. And a very fun solve. And since we're asking, my time was 27:46.

Ludyjynn 10:21 AM  

AAARRRGGGHHHH!!! So close, yet so far. One lousy letter kept me from a perfect week of puzzle solving...I repeat, AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

'S'ela??? Give me a break. Lionel Ritchie surely did not sing that one at the LA Olympics ceremonies, did he? Jeez.

By the way, Rex, this was a medium-difficult puzzle, for regular folks like me, I am EVERSOSORRY to inform you!

Enough of my WOES, Taking the dog and reveling in the glory of Springtime blooms which literally popped out overnight in the garden. I feel better already. Cherry blossoms are peaking here this weekend; absolute beauty.

mac 10:26 AM  

Very enjoyable Saturday puzzle, with my downfall at the Mr. Roarke/dark stark area. I figured an alternative to "shoots" could be "hangs".... I thought the name would be hispanic for some reason, I don't really know Fantasy Island.

Loved the Colbert bump! How timely is that!
I really, really dislike ACC and the like, especially when the crossing is not a common word.

Nice combination, Asiago, onion and basil.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

DNF, total fail in the NW, for reasons well enumerated above. Did have 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 D correct, but never would have gotten the rest.

My one write-over in the rest of the grid was at 31 D, DUNKS before DANGS.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Easy-medium, ha ha.

This was medium-challenging to challenging, I thought. I had no idea about any of this stuff at all, or else it was so poorly organized in my brain that I needed to smack it out of there. Ouch!

40 Minutes, no cross-outs, I was pretty satisfied. On to the rest of my Saturday.


Nancy 10:42 AM  

Too beautiful a day to suffer over this any longer. Loved COLBERT BUMP, but never would have thought of it in a million years. Also had ARG for URE. Never heard of PYE DOGS (though I did have DOGS and, finally, had the Y. But thought I must be wrong. NW to first half of the Middle West was undoable for me. DNF and now I'm going out into the beautiful sunshine. HOW CAN ANYONE CALL THIS EASY????

Nancy 10:42 AM  

Too beautiful a day to suffer over this any longer. Loved COLBERT BUMP, but never would have thought of it in a million years. Also had ARG for URE. Never heard of PYE DOGS (though I did have DOGS and, finally, had the Y. But thought I must be wrong. NW to first half of the Middle West was undoable for me. DNF and now I'm going out into the beautiful sunshine. HOW CAN ANYONE CALL THIS EASY????

RnRGhost57 10:48 AM  


Z 10:49 AM  

@tensace - before declaring political figures "monsters" you might want to take a more historical perspective. How do the acts of Guevara compare to Bush or Obama? Or to Robespierre? Heck, do we even really know what Guevara did and did not do? How much of what we "know" is written by biased adorers or anti-communist propagandizers? We have governors in the US today who support executing criminals (the activity "Fidel's executioner" was engaged in). Is Rick Perry a monster because he approved 6 executions so far this year? Oh wait, Perry only executes "real" criminals. Personally, I think anyone who is 100% certain they are right is unfit for public service. That certainty is too easily used to justify all kinds of heinous behavior. This doesn't make them monsters, just human.

Pol Pot 11:10 AM  

@Z, hear hear !!!

OISK 11:22 AM  

Easy??? First DNF for me on a Saturday in more than six weeks. Colbert bump? With Bots? With Brit instead of Hoax? NW was impossible for me. Never heard of Geocaching; I thought perhaps "Docents" was spelled with the variant "Dosents" but I left it. Never heard of Asiago, but can't really complain about it. I don't like the rolled "ARS" not the dot dot dot "Ess" although I got both of them. I thought that Aleksei was spelled Alexey, but that didn't work. But the NW was ridiculous, with the absurd pop clue "Colbert bump" (don't watch him, can't stand him) crossing "bots" (short for robots?) and Mr. Roarke (Whom I inexplicably remembered) and "Hoax" making more sense than "Brit," giving me either So so sorry, or Oh so sorry…

Just a disaster. Ever so sorry….

dk 11:24 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons)

Ha! The only proper name that did not flow from my pen was OTTO. I am so cultured.

My college honors project on iconoclasm in 18th century american lit saved the day -- as well as being reared in a seafaring family (gramps). We knew the tale of the Essex well.

""The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them…"

There is a botanical garden in Arcadia with a little lagoon and beach where they filmed MRROARKE greeting de-plane and well parts of Jurassic Park, too.

Many little gray cells fired on behalf of this little gem.

MYCOLOGISTS are fungis

Dirigonzo 11:26 AM  

I was able to fill in most of the grid pretty smoothly, albeit very, very slowly, although I did spend too much time deciding between souTHERn and norTHERn before HEATHERY came along on the crosses. As to the NW, @Rex said, "I guess you'll just have to fight your way out of that corner with a sharp object and gumption." That would be me - I had the back end of the long phrases plus EVERSOSORRY so I just kept plugging letters in until LEGISLATURE bailed me out. A couple of hours enjoyably spent in the sun on the deck - what's wrong with that?

Jisvan 11:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
MetaRex 11:41 AM  

Had I'M SO SO SORRY w/ AMID and HOAX for long long long minutes. PEDRO for VASCO, COURTROOMS for CONSULATES (lost sight of the diff b/w chancelleries and chanceries), STOLE for HEELS, and AMAT for ERAT were lesser woes. Enjoyed the stuttering march through my gradually lifting, occasionally returning mental fog to the final harpooning of the puzzwhale...time was ~5x Rex...

Jisvan 12:03 PM  

EVER SO SORRY about my earlier misspelling of Da Gama. I must have been thinking of De Gamma, inventor of de Gamma ray, that I tried to put into yesterday's puzzle... : )
Had BAcon before BASIL and BACKsEats before BACKBENCH, and as others have said, the northwest was the last to fall. (If you can call it falling, more like failing after being Googled to death.) Liking the share-the-misery vibe here today. Off for a bike ride, maybe I'll find a GEOCACH. (We found one once under an old bridge in the mountains and left a power bar and a used bicycle tube in it, just to say "hi...")

Casco Kid 12:05 PM  

@tensace We are crossword puzzle solvers. Even the least of us (and that would be demonstrably me) is capable of managing conceptual complexity. In the spirit of same, would you kindly rephrase your statements on CHE and the MAOSUIT namesake to reveal something new and interesting that makes them somehow more crossworthy that, say, John Demjanjuk, who was uninteresting until, one day, he wasn't. (Or was he?)

Please realize that simplify-and-exaggerate doesn't play well with those of us who suss meaning for fun, however badly we do it.

And I checked: AHAB is just another king in Kings. So sayeth my retired priest friend/expert solver. JAMESI would be the Queen of Kings, he reports, in case that ever comes up.

Nick 12:15 PM  

A dreary slog through random trivia.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Naticked at SELA / ASGARD

Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:54 PM  

Wanted ALEX(empty)EI.
Really really liked the ROOT clue. Couldn't come up with the answer, until had ?OOT in place -- but was real anxious to get it, so I could see how they'd fooled me. All I could think of off the getgo was BASE. Lost valuable nanoseconds, stubbornly hoverin there. Curiosity killed the speed solver.

Wrong Again M and A Breath dept.:
* ETC instead of ESS. (Hi, @Twangster)
* HOAX instead of BRIT. (Hi, @almost everybody)
* BACON instead of BASIL. (Hi, @Nigel)
* ACCENTS instead of DOCENTS.
* DRESS instead of HEELS.
* ROCKY instead of VASCO. (Yo, @everybody except Vasco)
* BINGBAG instead of BINGHAM. Pitiful, but was somehow proud of it, as a placeholder.
* PYEDOGS instantaneously, on accounta considerin PYE for a runtpuz entry just lately. Had to research it. I learn so much, when I get desperate to fill mah grids.


p.s. Have read on yer book, @constructor Mel. Thanx U.

Gill I. P. 1:56 PM  

I tried...I really tried to complete this puzzle without Google. [sigh]..Didn't know COLBERT BUMP, PYE DOGS GEOCACHING nor ALESKSEI. Got my BASIL, ONION and ASIAGO though.
@OISK if you like Parmesan, you might also enjoy ASIAGO which I prefer because it tastes fuller.

My easy peasy recipe:

1 LB of grated aged ASIAGO
4/5 sage leaves finely chopped.
2 Tbs. chopped pine nuts.
Heat oven to 420 deg.
On a baking sheet covered with parchment place 6 tbs. mounds evenly in the pan. Sprinkle with sage and nuts.
Bake about 8 to 10 min.
Working quickly while they are still warm remove each with a spatula and drape them over a rolling pin and let cool. Move to a baking rack. Or, you can just leave them flat.
Fun to make and are DOLCE....

OK Mel Rosen - weren't you the coiner of "cruciverbalist?"

Steve J 2:00 PM  

@jberg: Thanks for pointing out that the clue was "Piltdown man", not "Piltdown Man". Very devious but fair misdirection. I held on to HOAX for a long time, discarded it when I figured TROT for "Arab spring", then put HOAX back in when I couldn't get anything else working in the NW.

That pretty much summed up my whole experience with this one. BAcon instead of BASIL, drop the bacon so I could get HEAT SENSORS in, drop that to try something else, etc. Figured 58A was going to refer to hallucinogenic mushrooms in some way. Had Sartre talking about people's hells rather than VIRGIL. And more.

Tough but fair throughout.

Lewis 2:06 PM  

Loved the clues for LEGISLATURE, TROT, ARS (awful answer but good clue), BRIT, DANGS, and ROOT.

ONHIGH is poetic like yesterday's FIRSTLIGHT. Never heard of GEOCACHING (and nice to learn about).

Eight words that make words when read backward, if you count NIN and OTTO and don't count OAF (as in FAO Schwartz), my favorite being ATOI.

Laurence Katz 2:09 PM  

Staring at Lionel Richie hit "Sela" and not remembering it at all.....until! It's "Se La," (pronounced Say Lah). Now I remember!
DNG because of the center where I put in "dunks" instead of "dangs" for "Alternative to shoots?"

Benko 2:34 PM  

@M&A: Regarding your query yesterday, I never got to do your latest runt puzzle. for some reason, the page wouldn't finish loading on my iPad. I tried a couple of times, but it just froze. Too bad, as I hear it was a hard one!
@OISK: I've been wondering--How is it possible to get internet access so deep in your cave?

barbara 2:34 PM  

Can someone explain how Diet leads to LEGISLATURE?

David Miottel 2:39 PM  

Like Rex I filled in COLBERTBUMP immediately, but doubted it. The crosses played out though and I was thrilled. Unlike some of the commentors I believe Colbert is absolutely crossword-worthy. The guy has 4 Emmys (for the Report), 2 Grammys, and a Peabody for goodness sake, what more does he have to do? Got hung up on BINGHAM and ALEKSEI (wanted Alexey and then thought maybe they were using his middle initial). Lucked into a few answers, and doubted a few correct ones that I jumped to out of the gate (ONHIGH, BACKBENCH). All in all it was a satisfying solve for me and finished in 36:33, which is an outstanding time for me on Saturdays. I have to doff my hat to this blog for upping my game. a couple of years ago I couldnt finish a Saturday to save my life, let alone finishing in (well) under an hour. Thanks Rex!

David Miottel 2:42 PM  

@barbara, Diet is another term for a legislative body. Think Japanese Diet, their legislative body.

M and Also 2:46 PM  

@Benko: Thanx. I'm told the xwordinfo runtpuz presenter software don't work on a tablet. Lucky 4 U. Try this one (on a different device -- many prefer using a shredder, I hear)...


@Barbara: "diet" means "legislative assembly in certain countries". If think I heard about it, re: Diet of Worms. Once U've heard about that, darn hard to ever forget. I wonder if they served a brunch, there; bet it was at most picked at. har

"Emetics Is Us"

David Miottel 2:49 PM  

One last thing; in Hawaii they call mongrels "poi dogs' tried to fit that in as well. That would have made my day, but alas. I also liked the white whale/Ahab connection.

Fred Romagnolo 3:09 PM  

At first I put in colbertpumps, because of clue word "endorsement." I'm just getting used to "bots" as a lazy way of saying robots. "celt" knocked out my "so so so sorry." I had to reference "Bingham," which threw out my "dental floss" for parts of some alarms. Saki, in "The Open Window," refers to pariah dogs, I wasn't familiar with pye dogs. "Dark stars" squashed "hangs" as an alternative to "shoots" King of Kings was a really tricky clue. Fantasy Island not in my ken, but answer was inferable. I have no idea what 30 Rock is. Only one reference and no google, so I'm not ashamed - certainly better than yesterday. The "Song of Roland" is one of the great medieval poem-sagas: it is comparable in importance to "El Cid," and the "Nibelungenlied."

crossvine 3:35 PM  

With the encouragement I received yesterday, I attempted today's puzzle. I slogged through it, but was surprised how much I could do on my own--starting last night and working on it on and off today. I came up with "RRS" for what Mexicans roll and still think that's way better than "ARS." It is the double RRS they roll. Not all Rs.

I resorted to Google 5 times and made a lot of head way with each Google answer. Though Google gave me Alexei or Alexey for the first space walker. No references at all to ALEKSEI. Who's right?

Had to resort to "check" and "reveal" for the northwest corner. LEGISLATURE would never have occurred to me. Though I did get EVERSOSORRY and I had BUMP but not whose bump.

All in all, though, I'm pretty pleased for my first Saturday attempt ever. Even though I didn't finish, I'm encouraged.

I will say that reading Rex's columns and the comments over the past few months have helped me improve my game a lot. And I thank those of you who encouraged me to try a Saturday.

Ludyjynn 4:09 PM  

Thanks, @LawrenceKatz for the SELA revelation.

@Crossvine, good job! Until I started reading Rex and the bloggers, I was a Sat. sissy. Now, I regularly solve 'em. My only suggestion is this: try not to make Google a habit; you'll improve on your own without it, faster, and with a great deal more satisfaction, IMHO.

mathguy 4:17 PM  

Can't agree that it was easy. I almost always complete the puzzle without Google, not today. The middle left defeated me with GEOCACHING, AHAB, SELA, and ASGARD. There were fifteen entries that I didn't know. Anything over ten makes the puzzle difficult in my book.

michael 4:25 PM  

Meta Rex wrote:

Had I'M SO SO SORRY w/ AMID and HOAX for long long long minutes.

I did too, but I never did figure out this corner. I just missed entirely the lack of a capital "m" in "Piltdown man." But even if I had noticed, I doubt that I would have gotten it.

OISK 4:33 PM  

@Benko - My "cave" isn't deep enough to prevent me from finishing about 95 % of the NY Times puzzles. My avoidance of Colbert, rock, hip-hop and texting slang is a matter of taste - I get out plenty - opera, Broadway, Carnegie Hall, ballet, the Philharmonic. I also avoid gratuitously insulting those whose tastes and interests are different form mine .

jomona21 4:46 PM  

Two of you actually put bacon on pizza? Yech!

LaneB 4:47 PM  

Since I'd never heard of the COLBERTBUMP and used sosoSORRY and hoax for BRIT, I was denied a rare Saturday finish by the mess in the NW corner. Still. For me, a decent day's work.

retired_chemist 5:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 5:21 PM  

Challenging but I finished, if slowly. Hand up for hoax for 4D and for liking the real explanation of the clue. Learned lots of stuff in solving this puzzle, which always makes it fun.

Thanks, Mr. Rosen.

Benko 5:40 PM  

@M&A: Good runtpuz, loved the theme! Very idiosyncratic.

Moly Shu 5:59 PM  

@OISK, my avoidance of opera, Broadway, Carnegie Hall, ballet, and the Philharmonic is a matter of taste. But I live in a cave.

jae 6:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 6:22 PM  

@crossvine - The 1965 Time Magazine cover had ALEKSEI LEONOV, on the other hand Wiki has Alexey. So, to answer your question - everybody?

OISK 6:23 PM  

@Moly Shu, LOL. But I think I was right to take some small offense at the suggestion, which I have seen before, that a preference for some types of art and culture and an avoidance of others, makes one a troglodyte.

Mohair Sam 6:28 PM  

Quality Saturday for sure - took forever. Naticked on LEGISLAToRs/PYs?URu. Very tough puzzle for the two of us, especially when we did Friday's this AM. Next time we lose a day we'll make it a Sunday or Monday.

Clue for Bay (44a) is a classic. Wife is from 'Cuse and I lived there for over 30 years so ACC was a happy gimme.

Loved GEOCACHING. Got a lecture on same from my sister-in-law just a few months ago, she's a GEOCACHING nut. Therefore a gimme here.

There is a better clue for COLBERTBUMP out there, but this is the NYT after all.

Benko 7:15 PM  

It wasn't the preference I was referring to, @OISK. It was a gentle poke at the fact that you seem to have heard of virtually none of the celebrities the rest of us are constantly inundated with. I don't know how you manage to avoid them all. Some of the people you don't know--you're lucky not to know.

Arlene 7:34 PM  

Now I remember why I don't rush to do Saturday's puzzle. Did not finish - even with Googling. But I did do Sunday's puzzle already - AND the Puns and Anagrams puzzle, also appearing in the Sunday magazine. Those were more my speed.

wreck 7:49 PM  

Two thumbs up for OISK!! Smart asses really annoy me.

mac 8:35 PM  

@Benko: you are so right. I certainly don't go out of my way, but a lot of this stuff is just all around us.

Gill I. P. 8:41 PM  

Hey @OISK...but do you like Parmesan?

OISK 9:00 PM  

@Benko - Perhaps the "poke" wasn't quite "gentle" enough for me. Ever so sorry. @wreck - Thanks.
@ mac, not even Rex knew "Sela". I HAVE heard of most of the "celebrities", although I don't know any of their songs; since many of the clues stem from their work, they are difficult for me. And @Gill - Not really, although I have been to Parma.

crossvine 10:20 PM  


I knew I should have saved my 1965 Time magazines. Dang! Or DANGS! Or, alternatively, SHOOTS!

I skip M-W 10:35 PM  

Almost finished, except for middle two letters of aloe. Clue was: cousin of AN agave. So I thought a ____.. Aloe is cousin of agave, not of any particular agave. Don't know anything about Lionel Richie, and never heard of geocaching. Otherwise good puz!

Anonymous 12:28 AM  

Well, I guess no other no DeGeneres fans here, because elleneffect also works for 1 Across. This was just one portent of disaster. A crazy, difficult Saturday.

Sagheer 1:49 AM  

Online Jobs of Data Entry, Copy Pasting, Add Posting, Clicking, Web Surfing, Website Visiting, Article Sharing, Data Sharing, Google Business Plans, Investment Plans, Genuine earnings from home.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:39 AM  

@M&A _ (Sorry, I was away yesterday) - KPK #118, 2 min 45 sec, very straightforward. By any chance, did this puzz go to MIT?

Paul Statt 10:52 AM  

Pedantry alert! An ARABIAN is a horse, but an ARAB is a person.

Peter Brooklyn 12:01 PM  

Actually, bot in this context refers to a computer program and not a physical robot, thus the difference and not merely a lazy abbreve...

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

I finished an hour ago because I refused to give up or google. If anyone is still there I'd be love to learn why/how an oar is an athlete. My son is on crew & noone has ever called him an oar. Had many of the same mistakes as everyone else, perhaps most troubling was etc for ess. Cannot believe that Rex thought this was easy. I thought Thursday &I Friday were easy.But certainly not Saturday- this was brutal

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

I finished an hour ago because I refused to give up or google. If anyone is still there I'd be love to learn why/how an oar is an athlete. My son is on crew & noone has ever called him an oar. Had many of the same mistakes as everyone else, perhaps most troubling was etc for ess. Cannot believe that Rex thought this was easy. I thought Thursday &I Friday were easy.But certainly not Saturday- this was brutal

Google 3:53 PM  

@Anonymous, 3:12 PM -


noun: oar; plural noun: oars

1. a pole with a flat blade, pivoting in an oar lock, used to row or steer a boat through the water.
synonyms: paddle, scull, blade
2. a rower.

verb: oar; 3rd person present: oars; past tense: oared; past participle: oared; gerund or present participle: oaring

1. row; propel with or as with oars.
"oaring the sea like madmen"

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

Why do people complain about a few clues that stump them? Is this stuff supposed to be easy?

kms 9:54 PM  

Wow - even w/ strategic googling and to bring my artist wife into the mix to get BINGHAM,& the very left field PYEDOGS, just too rough...AHAB is King of Kings? In Genesis, or something Old Testament? was trying to get BB's brother somehow! Too much esoteria for me. More like a puzzle to actually come away with new vocabulary, and these not so fun.

Z 10:18 PM  

@kms. - Perhaps because he is in the book 1 Kings...

Wiki article

lobsterkatie 12:49 PM  

@anonymous, @Google: I don't care what the dictionary says -- an 'oar' is not a person, anymore than a 'bat' is a baseball player or a 'club' is a golfer. I have rowed for the better part of 20 years, coached, worked at a boat club, gone to any number of conferences, and spent time with everyone from high school novices to national teamers... nobody, NOBODY calls themselves or anyone else an 'oar.' 100% bogus.

All that said, the NE was actually the first to fall. Ended after 90 min (and three solvers, plus random erudite hangers-on) with a big 'ol DNF in the NW. Bah.

DMG 2:19 PM  

Got COBERTBUMP and MYCOLOGISTS right off, but in between, a lot of misery! Just too many things I'm not up on, and having a BACKBENCH here and a HAITI there was not enough for me to fill in the blanks. Filled in maybe a third, and came to see why I was floundering. Felt a bit better when I discovered I wasn't alone. PYEDOGS, GEOCACHING, ASCI!!!!

The temperature has finally taken a turn for the better here in So Cal, and the fires are SLOWLY being contained. Our thoughts are with those who have really felt the brunt of all this. And with doing what we can to to be ready next time!

Four 5's. Maybe some luck here?

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

LobsterKatie..the expression "oar" Is used in Great Britain. I've never heard it here in the U.S.

It was a frustrating puzzle for me. Never heard of Colbert Bump or Geocaching. And what the hell are pyedogs??

My head covering is off to anyone who finished this one.

Ron Diego 11:30 AM PST

Dirigonzo 3:07 PM  

@DMG and @Ron Diego - I'm glad to see that conditions on the left coast are starting to return to "normal" and maybe the dangerous conditions are over for now? My heart goes out to those who suffered tragic losses.

I don't suppose you'll let me play the four nines I drew when I posted this morning, and the two pair I'm looking at now won't win the pot here.

Z 3:27 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo - my point was meant to highlight the "political" part of PC. CE/BCE is correct, proper, acceptable. I see now how one might think I meant "only." Using PC to describe the term comes across as insulting.

As far as Year One being the year Jesus was born, that's accurate as long as you are okay with a plus/minus of 50 years or so. There's lots of debate out there among religious scholars over that date.

rain forest 3:32 PM  

I was determined to not DNF two days in a row, so when I stalled in the NW, I went to the NE and sailed through that (I've heard the term OAR used for the athlete) and moved South where things just fell together. Moving back up the West, the G at the GEOCACHING/ASGARD crossing (haven't heard of either), got me back to the evil NW which I picked at via the downs, and finally finished, not knowing ROLAND or PYEDOGS.

A good Saturday, with some easy stuff, and some almost impenetrable stuff.

Three pair! Does that do anything for me?

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