Third Watch actress Texada / FRI 4-4-14 / Frank Loesser show tune / Sporting goods chain with slogan Get outside yourself / Chart in Cadiz / Love Death on Long Island novelist Gilbert / Songwriters hall of fame member who wrote April Love /

Friday, April 4, 2014

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith and Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TERNES (3D: Lead-tin alloys) —
1. (Metallurgy) Also called: terne metal an alloy of lead containing tin (10-20 per cent) and antimony (1.5-2 per cent)
2. (Metallurgy) Also called: terne plate steel plate coated with this alloy
[C16: perhaps from French terne dull, from Old French ternir to tarnish] (
• • •

I was tipped off that double quad stacks were coming, so I took a deep breath and resolved, right before  opening the puzzle, to love it. LOVE IT. That resolution lasted like 90 seconds. I'll never understand this obsession with stacking for its own sake. Stacks compromise fill, and today was no exception. A wholesale disaster up top. 1- 2- and 3-Down are utterly unknown to me. 14- and 15-Down are suffixes you never want in your grid even on their own—alongside one another … wow. TENTER is, let's say, weird (though some of my crossword constructor friends are having a gay old time right now making boner jokes on FB). TEN HOURS is just an arbitrary amount of time. The 15s up there mean nothing to me. Thank god I had some recollection of ADELAIDE, because 1- 2- and 3-Down would remain unsolved otherwise. REISIEIDIO is making me laugh. Seriously, the top half of this grid is an object lesson in the terribleness of quad stacks, or stunt puzzles in general. Always seems like the constructor has a. a tin ear for fill and phrases, and b. contempt for the solver (i.e. is showing off).

The lower half of the grid is marginally better. First two 15s, at least, are lovely. Too bad they had to got and stack those two on top of Two More. BUNS are "supplies"? I'D NO idea. SAMMY WHO???   (30D: Songwriters Hall of Fame member who wrote "April Love"). What is "April Love"? Hmmm. Looks like something Pat Boone sang 60 years ago. "Third Watch"? People watch that? People know who TIA Texada is? (37D: "Third Watch" actress Texada) There's this horrible perfect storm happening here, where I have contempt for quad stacks *and* I live nowhere near whatever cultural planet these constructors live on. The latter is just too bad for me. The former isn't. The former is a real thing. The compromises in the fill are just too much. Beyond the pale. The lower half is, in every way, better than the top. If the top half had matched the bottom, with at least two good long answers and virtually all acceptable crosses, I might have kept my original "Love-It" resolution. But of course that didn't happen.

Congrats to one of the constructors on using ANTS IN ONE'S PANTS for the *sixth time* in his constructing career (acc. to cruciverb's database). Two more and he gets a free sandwich.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I still have no idea what SAMS stands for. None. (1D: Some defensive weapons, in brief).
PPS Tyler Hinman tells me it's "surface-to-air missiles." I can sleep easy now.


jae 12:07 AM  

Bottom half easy, top half medium- tough.  Had to guess at the ADELAIDE'S/TERNES cross but I kinda remembered ADELAIDE from puzzles ( Guys and Dolls I believe).  The LANI cross might also be a problem. 

Erasures: abMs before SAMS and dukeIT before SLUGIT. 

Ok Fri., but, in addition to what Rex said about the fill issues, the problem with 4 stacks is it's hard to make them zippy and the answers are often fairly obvious (see bottom half).   So, is was on the meh side for me.

Steve J 12:09 AM  

Liked this a little better than I've liked other quad stacks, but not by a lot. I still find the fill compromises not worth the long accrosses (and, often, the long accrosses just aren't that good).

SACRIFICIAL LAMB was by far the best of the long answers, and AM I GLAD TO SEE YOU was also really good. Liked SATELLITE STATES, too.

No sense in pointing out the compromises in the fill, as Rex pointed out the bulk of them (although AIRE, IDNO and MILLI belong on the list, too).

Loved the clue for EXORCIST, and GASOLINE STATION got a good one as well. Those helped make this marginally more enjoyable than my norm, but I'm just coming to accept that this style of puzzle is just not my cup of tea.

wreck 12:21 AM  

I seem to have the reputation of "hating Rex" -- according to numerous "anons" here -- but I actually agree with him more often than not! Today, we are spot on in agreement as I had just about identical reactions to this puzzle as he did. The top half was one big???? and then I started to get some traction in the bottom. I thought I might start to enjoy it - but not so much. Does anyone really know "Adelaide's Lament" off the top of their head?

wreck 12:29 AM  

Oh yeah ............ got a kick out of Rex's explanation of "TENTER" -- would have been a better clue! Kind of BEQesque

Pete 12:32 AM  

I had the exact same dread (well, slightly different - quad stacks and (record low word count or record low number of blanks) as did Rex, and I too swore to try and overcome my preconceptions. Another life goal all shot to hell.

24A was just horrible - Horses have gaits (one of which is the pace, one of which is a trot) and they have pace. Gaits and pace are not interchangeable. Pace at ... would clue RACE, not TROT. I don't know if no one knew this or were trying to be cute, but failure.

EMI is not a sister of Virgin, because
a) There is no Virgin. There are a ton of Virgin [air, music, ...], but there is no Virgin, and
b) EMI friggin owns Virgin Records.

John Child 12:34 AM  

I filled In the stacks and their crosses successfully though with some struggle in the north. DNF though with ZEst rather that ZEAL. The incorrect crosses looked good enough to me, considering the other WOE answers in the grid. Rex could be predicted to SNEER AT a quad-stack puzzle, but today I agree that the 15s weren't fun enough to make up for the compromises.

George Barany 12:54 AM  

"Surface-to-air missiles" is correct for SAMS; the unusual clue was necessary because the proper name SAMMY_FAIN was elsewhere in the grid. ADELAIDE'S_LAMENT from "Guys and Dolls" (music and lyrics by Frank Loesser) is a fabulous and funny song, both stand-alone and in the context of the show, which more than 60 years after it was composed remains a standard musical that is frequently revived.

Many readers of this blog enjoyed "Stacked Dreck,," an April Fools' Day construction by Martin Ashwood-Smith with a little help from his friends. There was an interesting surprise along the central row. Also, the frequently criticized SCARLET_TANAGERS was used, intentionally so. Therefore, I found it particularly refreshing to see in today's puzzle as a down entry SCARLET_A, which brought back all sorts of bad memories of my high school required reading list.

Mark 1:01 AM  

Pat Boone was the biggest thing singing 50 years ago, and April Love, song and film, went along for the ride. But Sammy Fain? I would fain have known that answer.

Was delighted that SOVIET REPUBLICS and I'M HAPPY TO SEE YOU slotted in neatly, but was not so happy later when I had to recast them to fit crosses.

While I certainly yield to the opinions of Rex and others, may I nevertheless be delighted by 2 quad-stacks?

retired_chemist 1:32 AM  

Agree the quad stacks were good only if you ignore some truly forced crosses. 2D ADAIR, 3D TERNES, 30D SAMMY FAIN, and 37D TIA are truly potential Natick makers. 19A REI - no better. DNF because I had 41A EMe/37D TeA. Should have known EMI but I was hung up on the ADAIR/REI/TERNES area and checked all letters before fixing my error.

These difficulties got in the way of my enjoyment of the 15s. Did spend a bit of time trying to think what 15 letter term would be synonymous with pancreas for 62A.

ADELAIDE'S LAMENT is from Guys and Dolls, and while I can't sing it verbatim it was pretty close to a gimme with a few crosses.

Thanks, Martin and Joe.

AliasZ 1:32 AM  

MAS and JK, AM I GLAD TO SEE YOU! Loved your quad-stacks, MARINE INSURANCE and SACRIFICIAL LAMB being my favorites. I also liked how you innocently sneaked in MAS and (Kro)ZEAL. Cute!

I enjoy puzzles that push the envelope, be they double quad-stacks, 17-block grids, 60-worders, quint-stacks, ones with super-high theme density, or any other feature that makes their construction extremely difficult. I cannot separate my joy and satisfaction of solving puzzles from my admiration for the virtuosity of their constructors. They are one and the same to me.

And I truly appreciate Will Shortz's open-mindedness, encouraging constructors to let their creativity and hard work take them in new directions in order to continually improve and reinvent this wonderful word game we all love.

Anonymous 1:36 AM  

You're in the minority AliasZ.
99% of all solvers hate this kind
of verbal overlay crap that Shortz
seems to be impressed with.

Questinia 2:00 AM  

I'm with @ Alias Z.
I lurvs me some quad stack action. Couldn't care less about the so-called "less than optimal fill" in order to get them.
It's a very dignified and adult puzzle. So, nyeah!

NOTE to constructors (esp MAS): ANTS IN ONES PANTS. Guys, guys, didn't you know you'd get crap over this one? I mean, come on.

Jisvan 2:07 AM  

I start to think I'm really getting this crossword thing, after a year of daily practice, and then something like this comes along and I'm back to square 1, across or down, doesn't matter, I don't know either one. So it was nice to read Rex's rant! You tell 'em! I did enjoy the bottom where I caught some patterns after an hour and put together the stacks but the top remained a giant mess! (My backpacker was a renter, that's how bad it was!) Still, I enjoyed the battle. My brain hurts, but hopefully it's a good pain...

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Saw the quad stacks, saw the constructors and thought "what the hell let's give it a try", test drove it around the block a few times and decided that life was just. too. short. Threw in the towel and am a lot happier for doing so. I agree whole heartedly with everything that @Rex said. Not fun!

Thomas 2:31 AM  

Does a quad stack puzzle really push the envelope in new directions if it's the only type of puzzle its constructor ever makes?

Moly Shu 3:33 AM  

DNF for me at the ARM/MAPA/ARIOSE nexus. Had atm/mapo/otiose. Looked reasonable enough. Knew it probably wasn't right (otiose means something else, right?), left it in anyway. EXORCIST was my first entry, thought that was great. Mostly enjoyed it other than what has been said about the top third.

Understand @Rex's complaints and general dislike for this sort of thing, but I think I'm in the @AliasZ and @Questinia camp on the quad stacks. Impressed with the construction even if the fill suffers.

loren muse smith 4:56 AM  

I, too, had a (facebook) heads-up that today was a double quad stack by MAS and Joe. And I was looking forward to it for the challenge.

For me, GASOLINE STATION felt the most unnatural. Does anyone say that? Maybe ESSO costumers?

@John Child – me, too, for "zest" and I kept it for the same reasons you did.

Rex' points are well taken on the compromises to get a double quad stack. I get that those two suffixes right next to each other are rough. SAMMY FAIN, ADAIR, TIA . . .huh? But, hey, I drink from a thermal REI coffee mug every morning. And fwiw - I'm much more likely (even though I always regret not just saying "dialect") to say IDIOlect than RIMY. That word just looks funny. Can a gin gimlet be too limy?

Had a great moment when I finally saw the cool word order in AM I GLAD TO SEE YOU. I bet like many, off that _ MI, I kept trying to have some kind of "I miss. . ."

From yesterday - @Bob K and @Mark – loved the COOP exchange!

@Tita – Now I won't be able to see the word "coax" as just one syllable. (We can all handle words like Oahu, oasis, koala, anoa, boa, but I was right there with everyone else in seeing "goat" rather than "go at.")

I'm with @AliasZ, @Questinia, and @Molly Shu today. The part of me who stares out of the window imagining phrases like "bamboo ooze," "taboo oolong" and "carefree eel" enjoyed this.

I like me a good envelope push. Fun Friday fare, you two!

Anonymous 5:40 AM  

I saw the constructors and I knew that Michael would have his usual quad stack rant. I personally enjoyed it for its artistry. De gustibus...

JTHurst 5:46 AM  

I am a Monday thru Thursday puzzle solver and saw the stacks and said OK, do any of the 8 crosses jump out at you. Nope. How about the downs. Some did. So I got about 8 answers not enough to break open any of the stacks. So I knew I was done. When you have five or six words completing one answer the odds are fairly high against you in trying to guess if you don't have any crosses.

I did like my pewter answer for 3d, though pewter doesn't have much lead in it. One of the easiest answers for me was 24a 'pace at Pompano Park'. I believe that is a trotter racetrack therefore 'trot'.

I liked the opportunity to do stacks but the constructor must give us neophytes easier nibbles in the crosses. Still better than any rebus puzzle.

If the the clue for 55d was Snappy Sammy. I would have gotten it easily. Shades of my hippie comic book days.

SAMs were those cheap Russian missiles given to the NVA which they wheeled into the bush and shot down our F-14 Tomcats during the Vietnam conflict.

Danp 6:21 AM  


Taring means allowing for or subtracting a preweighed amount. It doesn't mean preweighing per se.

IDIGIT and "Cool, Dude" are different generations. Might as well have been clued "Well done".

MetaRex 7:37 AM  

Didn't know old-timey pop when I started doing the puzz in the 80s, don't know it now...enjoyed being reminded of my enduring ignorance and struggling to get ADELAIDE'S LAMENT and SAMMY [KAHN?] [CAHN?] FAIN...v. nice to have the Shortzian stackmasters unite their split halves w/ Maleska music...

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

MetaRex for the Win! :)

-Martin Ashwood-Smith

Sir Hillary 7:57 AM  

This one didn't float my boat at all, basically for the reasons @Rex mentioned. Both constructors have produced far better stack puzzles than this.

Unlike many others, I solved top to bottom. Hands up for dukeITOUT. Last letter in was SHA/HEX because I never equate HEX with mojo.

SACRIFICIALLAMB and its clue are both excellent.

One thing I don't get...How are RTS activists' concerns?

George Barany 8:10 AM  

I try to limit posts to a handful per week, and maximum one a day, but there is a thread here that cannot go unrefuted. Martin Ashwood-Smith is one of the most creative and productive constructors of the past quarter century. As reveals, he had 7 puzzles in the Maleska era, and this is his 67th puzzle (all but 7 of them solos) during the twenty years that Will Shortz has been at the New York Times helm. Martin has debuted an amazing 518 new answer words/phrases over that time span, more than 90 of which have been reused by other constructors.

While it is true that the majority of Martin's NYT puzzles have been Friday/Saturday with triple or quad stacks, he has also constructed approximately 550 puzzles, just about all themed and rated as relatively easy/medium, for the CrossSynergy group that currently fills the Washington Post crossword pages.

evil doug 8:42 AM  

Sorry, George. You can try to spin it with all the MAS history you want, but this puzzle sucks.

Which brings to mind the words of the great Vince Boudreau: "If a man builds a thousand bridges and sucks one dick, they don't call him a bridge-builder... they call him a cocksucker."

Can't wait to see these guys thank the critic....


Glimmerglass 8:43 AM  

About quad stacks: It's perfectly fair that some of the four- and five-letter downs are obscure. Rex says that today 1D, 2D, and 3D were unknown to him. So what? He had 12 letters of each of the 15-word crosses! Even ADELAIDE'S LAMENT ought to dredge up with all but the first three letters. 15-letter words or phrases are usually pretty easy after one gets 2/3 of them, let alone 4/5.

Gubdude 8:43 AM  

I'm just never on Mr. Ashwood-Smith's wavelength. Gave this a go for about 15-20 minutes and just couldn't get any real footholds. I'm guessing I'll see a similar puzzle in 2-3 weeks so I'll try again.

Hopefully tomorrow brings me better fortune.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Hey Evil, that's assuming everyone remembering him are homophobic jerks. However, the story is an old one... your version is one of the tamer ones I've heard. I guess that makes you the-lesser-of-two-evils Doug.

- Martin Ashwood-Smith

Peter Phillips 9:01 AM  

I am a fan of triple- and quad-stacks and I bought Mr. Ashwood-Smith's book of them so I could have more of them. I admire them, as George Barany just said, because they demonstrate creative mastery that seems almost supernatural.

But (you knew this was coming) these kinds of puzzles will be admired more by constructors than by solvers. The pleasure comes in retrospect rather than in the moment. In order to get the thrill of throwing down a fifteen-word answer you have to slog through a heap of groan inducing fours and fives.

On balance the outcome is positive but the minor slog is undeniable.

A nit: SAMS is clued like a Maleska. There had to have been a better way.

Norm C. 9:02 AM  

@Sir Hillary. RTS is, I guess, "Rights" as in civil rights. I've seen that abbreviation used for Routes, or maybe even (this is a stretch) for right turns, but this clue was just plain silly IMO.

Z 9:05 AM  

ADELAIDE is our new street, hopefully no LAMENTS will ensue.

I now follow MAS on Twitter, so knew the joint effort was coming. The stacks were fun to figure out, most of the fill was okay. But, as is often the case, some of the fill made me wince.

Virgin had me flying, so EMI was a WOE until I came here. Gilbert ADAIR and TERNES are not going to stick (or is it ADAIR Gilbert?). I.D. NO. ain't much better. Still, the only weakness in the stacks themselves is one ONES.

Beer Rating - Atwater Vanilla Java Stout. Not for everyone, but if you are among the 1% (I love made up stats, @anon 1:36am) who like this kind of thing you'll love this version of it.

Casco Kid 9:10 AM  

How bad was it? I saw, nay I *studied* the Brando/Simmons/Sinatra Guys and Dolls just this Wednesday night. My goal was to remember everything that might be in a crossword puzzle: HAVANA SGTSARAHBROWN TIMESSQUARE LUCKBEALADY LOESSER MANKIEWICZ PAULREVERE CANDO SITDOWNYOUREROCKINGTHEBOAT. 24 hours later, there was this false gift from the gods. I had nothing for ADELAIDESLAMENT as I hadn't studied the *actual program*. Sigh.

2 hours. 6 googles after the first hour. 6 cheats after the second hour.

Pewter, then solder, for the tin-lead alloy. What's TERNES? Ugh.

RFA for the start-up helper. Let me tell you: the SBA is no help for start-ups. You have to be a fairly mature small business with excellent cash flow before the SBA loan guarantees become useful. RFAs, on the other hand, are better than investors for actual start ups. Buts that's the kind of high resolution domain knowledge that will only get you into trouble on cross words.

Sol-> LAS. I don't get that. So-la-ti-doe, I get. Is it something you have to study the lyrics for? Gimme a break.

And much much more...

I have no idea how anyone of you could have sussed these out. Challenging-undoable for a Saturday.

RnRGhost57 9:16 AM  

Dozens of times have been a "hiker," a "backpacker," and a "camper" (though not always a happy one), but never realized I was also a "tenter."

Mohair Sam 9:19 AM  

@AliasZ and several others - You are so right on stacks. We really enjoy them, I think maybe they're tougher solves for those who race the clock and they get annoyed.

We got naticked at TERNoS. Never heard of REI but it must be common because I see no complaints here. Hung up for too long by ZEst for ZEAL.

I'll have to stop reading Rex on days with stacks, they seem to cloud his reasoning. I'll give him his "bad fill" on ENCE and STER, but there are 30 words crossing the stacks and I'm hard pressed to find more crap (maybe IDNO), that would be a good count in any puzzle. ESSO is fine because it ties to GASOLINE STATIONS (actually worked as a clue for us). And what's wrong with TENHOURS? It's a typical long shift. And with a large family we always took a supply of BUNS on picnics.

As much as we loved ADELAIDESLAMENT we hated ANTSINONESPANTS (again??). EMI not really sister to Virgin. Don't see SBA much in puzzles, and I've lost some cash at Pompano Park, so TROT was a gimme. Tip of the cap for ARIOSE, all those useful letters and you don't see it much.

All my complaining about Rex - yet I chuckled at his Phil Collins connection. Nice catch. On the other hand, he must have missed all Flight 800 news and the last 50 years of war coverage to not know SAMS.

Moly Shu 9:26 AM  

@Evil, I just spit out (probably not the best choice of words considering your quote) my morning coffee!! Thank you.

Hartley70 9:28 AM  

Wait! So forget TGIF and we're going straight to Saturday now, right? I tried this after midnight and got nada, zip, zero. This morning the cells were on all cylinders and the top half was doable. But the bottom was a beast and forced me to cheat like crazy. Gosh remember how hard that was before google? It was more work than the puzzle itself!

Casco Kid 9:36 AM  

Re SAMS, I had patriot missles in mind for 1D. They defended Israel from SCUD attacks in the first gulf war, as we all distinctly remember. But I think you have to be military to know Patriot missles are also known as SAMS. I had sdiS and pAdS for my defensive weapons -- when I was bold enough to have anything at all.

Debby Weinstein 9:37 AM  

I couldn't disagree with Rex more about long Friday stacks. Maybe the constructor is "showing off" as Rex accuses, but I don't care, because Friday is always my day to show off. I can almost always get them with very little help from the crosses. It's not that the constructor disrespects the solver. The puzzle requires a different kind of intelligence from the kind that Rex relies upon - and that pisses him off.

Questinia 9:39 AM  

@ Casco~ The clue is "Sol mates" so the answer LA needs to be plural.

@ JTHurst~ Don't give up on stacks. I was stack-struck too once. Suss out empty spaces with rules of grammar, spelling, and syntax. For example in this puzzle many endings of the stacks could be sussed out because they were common pieces of words -tion,-ment,-ates, ants. And, evidently, if it is a puzzle by one of the constructors and you see -ants you may plop down ANTS IN ONES PANTS with a fair degree of statistical confidence.

chefbea 9:47 AM  

Too tough for me. Got a few words then quit. I did finish yesterday's but had no time to come here and talk about it. Busy day and such beautiful weather - had to be outside most of the day.

Kim Scudera 9:57 AM  

@CascoKid: today's puzzle is a great example of how the practice of learning everything you can about the world we live in is essential for solving crosswords of a typical Friday/Saturday level ( and not a bad way to live, IMHO).

Today's puzzle featured:

1) Random popular culture knowledge: ROZ, SCARLETA, TIA, ADELAIDESLAMENT

2) Random current (or not-so-current) events knowledge: LANI, SMOOT, SAMS

3) Random sports lingo: TROT, RAH, PACTEN

4) Random foreign languages, often Spanish, French, or German: SIE, MAS, LIS, MAPA, TIA ( as more typically clued), NEZ, AZOV

Get used to ESSO and AMATI(S): useful letters, here to stay.

Hope we never see TERNES again, but we might, so we'll add it to our knowledge base of Random Physical Science facts.

Meanwhile, we'll get to enjoy fun fill like SACRIFICIALLAMB, HEX ( and its clue "Mojo" -- can't see that word without thinking of Austin Powers (the first movie only), AMIGLADTOSEEYOU, and SLUGITOUT. And we'll get to enjoy (or not) construction feats like triple- and quad- stacks.


Kim Scudera 9:58 AM  

And what @Questinia said!

Ludyjynn 10:02 AM  

Initially, I was pessimistic that I would get traction, since first run-through only yielded LANI,STAYIN, REI, ROZ, ORG and two of Rex' plaints, ENCE and STER.

But I found that reading and re-reading the bottom four stacks' clues was a revelation and the answers materialized out of thin air.

The top four stacks were tougher, but opened up after TROT and IDIGIT showed themselves.

Call it wacky, but my approach to solving stacks is a lot like playing Hangman or Wheel of Fortune; it really is a game of fill in the blanks coupled with context. If I'm lucky, like I was today, it ends well.

But I have to agree with Rex and others that the process can be somewhat excrutiating. It helps that I am not a speed demon because for me, at least, there is no way to successfully rush through this type of construction w/out errors.

Bottom line...simply because I finished, I liked it!

Ludyjynn 10:11 AM  

And what @KimScudera said!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:13 AM  

Fun puzzle for me. Love them quad stacks, and if they leave a few odd letter combinations crossing, OK as long as they have a shred of plausibility.

Appropriately (?), first of the 15s I filled in was the SACRIFICIAL LAMB.

Agree that a better clue might have been found for RTS.

Sorry not everyone liked it, but sometimes an April day will suddenly bring showers. Hope that is rain that grows the flowers that bloom in May . . . .

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Totally loved it, and love stacks, which make me feel powerful. Sorry, Rex.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

For more on Guys and Dolls try this crossword;


Mohair Sam 10:47 AM  

@debbieweinstein - I think you nailed it. Wish I'd said that.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

I have to strongly disagree with Rex on this one. I thought all 8 long answers were lovely. Got SATELLITE STATES and GASOLINE STATION right off the bat. With a couple of googles was able to get the other 6. And then the rest of the puzzle falls in place
I don't understand Rex's lament on ADELAIDE'S LAMENT and SAMMY FAIN and SAMS. Just because Rex does not know these entries does not make them less legitimate than entries I encounter on other days that are more obscure than these.
Being able to construct a puzzle with quadruple stacks is quite a feat and I for one am willing to forgive the constructor for that.

Greg 10:50 AM  

Did you take a survey? You sure of 99%? You don't have to justify your opinion by including everyone else. Please don't use the royal "we".

John Child 10:52 AM  

"Maleska music" for sure. So how on earth can one of the constructors be proud of that?

Bisch 11:01 AM  

Where ADAIR meets REI seemed like the only true Natick. Everything else is inferrable. 18-Across and 62-Across strike me as phrases that no one would actually ever say. "After we sing together, shall we stop by the gasoline station?" There's a lot of beautiful stuff here, too, but it gets drowned out by the lousy stuff. Both of these guys are beasts--MAS's CrossSynergy puzzle yesterday was a lovely, clean, breezy puzzle--and I would love to open the NYT puzzle one Friday or Saturday and see a clean, wide-open puzzle from one (or both) of them.

Arlene 11:08 AM  

I guess everyone's take on these quad stacks differs. It's all part of the crossword experience! I look at them - sometimes I can get going from the down crosses - but today's was obvious that it was an exercise in Googling. So the challenge was if I could finish with a little help from the internet. And YES, I could. This isn't my favorite way to solve, but it's not a bad thing to experience something a bit different. Lighten up, folks!

Greg 11:10 AM  

RTS = rights

Dumb 11:13 AM  

@arlene is right. Not the end of the world. Just a reminder that the next time I see MAS as the constructor I need to dig into the archive for an alternate puzzle to solve.

JTHurst 11:19 AM  

@Casco Kid SAMs are a whole category of the surface to air missiles and while Patriot missiles are in the surface to air category, no one would call them SAMs. That was a name strictly used for the Russian missiles in N. Vietnam surrounding Hanoi. The Russians had over 20,000 missile technicians training local cadre during the conflict to maintain their SAMs.

To get the breadth and scope of these types of missiles look at Janes Pocket Book of Missiles.

John V 11:22 AM  

Well, this is weird. I found this to be something like Tuesday easy. I don't recall ever finishing either a MAS or Joe Krozel puzzle, but nailed this one. Finished, had one niggling mistake at amatEs. Reminder to self: check work; will pay off at ACPT next year.

As I went along, I saw the sort of fill issues that have been raised, particularly RIMY, but everything seemed fairly crossed. The stacks were particularly easy.

I give credit to the the zinc supplement I took with my yogurt this morning. Yeah, that's it.

AliasZ 11:47 AM  

Is it in Canada? I GUESS SO.
It takes TEN HOURS to get there
Limoed like a million-AIRE
While slurping some soup by Progresso.

Here is a challenge, a dare:
Learn more about Gilbert ADAIR.
He's nothing to SNEER AT
Like when you see a rat.

His best piece, or work I meant,
It was his fine translation
Of that abomination
E-less Georges Perec creation.

Are you an RV'er or TENTER?
Not me. A tent I'll never enter.
As I was just sayin'
I prefer to STAY IN.
ANTS IN my PANTS? I'm a resenter.

If you are not ELIGIBLE,
Climb aboard a dirigible,
SLUG IT OUT with SUMO wrestlers
Or that son of Mrs. Whistler's.

Key to diplomacy is tact,
This puzzle, like my ex, is stacked.

mathguy 11:49 AM  

Loved Evil Doug's quote. When reading an article about a well-known person, I often feel that the writer is being unfair by highlighting a negative about the person and sliding over a multitude of positives. I don't know a word for this unfortunate practice but I think that I will remember the quote.

I like stacks because I usually get a kick when I can see the long entry with only two or three letters entered from the downs. I've learned to look for junky stuff crossing the stacks. Not too bad in this one: ADAIR, TERNES, LANI, TENTER, TARED, TENHOURS, IDNO. Mostly on top.

Only five entries I didn't know and four or five really cute clues. Liked it.

Carola 11:54 AM  

Liked it, found it on the easy side for a Friday. Thought most of the 15s were good, especially SACRIFICIAL LAMB. One RAH subtracted for those tired ANTS.

SINGING TOGETHER - that was me 'n my friend Paulette in her basement rec room, bottles of Tab in our hands, and "April Love" on the record player (when it wasn't "Love Letters in the Sand"). Today I thought, SAMMY cahn wrote "April Love"?! No.

@Rex's noting TENTER coming up on Facebook - kinda goes with AM I GLAD TO SEE YOU (thinking of Mae West).

Blue Stater 11:54 AM  

Rex, as usual, put his finger right on it. This puzzle, like too many end-of-week puzzles in the WS regime, showed contempt for solvers. These constructors were showing off to other constructors. The result was a long and pointless slog (I managed to finish it in 19 minutes, somewhat to my surprise), as usual riddled with errors, as has been documented above. NYT readers and puzzle-solvers deserve better than this, and have for a long time.

Joel 12:03 PM  

SAM is a generic term for any Surface to Air Missoe

evil doug 12:11 PM  

Highly recommend "The Truest Sport: Jousting with SAM and Charlie," by Tom Wolfe. Navy carrier pilots in Vietnam.

OISK 12:14 PM  

I don't mind stacks. Got all eight of them, love Guys and Dolls, but this is my third DNF in three days, after 4 weeks with none. I hate product clues - never heard of REI, and although I am a chemist, "Ternes" are a bit of metallurgy outside my experience. (and I misspelled "Adalaide" it looks SO wrong now..)
Guessed right on Adair, never heard of Tia Texada- there are much better ways to clue "Tia" - "Tac" for "middle square"? Sorry. Good stacks, unpleasant puzzle. I agree with Rex on this one.

Laurence Hunt 12:20 PM  

OK. This puzzle is out of my league. However, on my cultural planet, both satellite states and surface to air missiles came right away, and perhaps Rex didn't grow up in the 50s, but SAMS have been a fixture of my world lifelong. Eligible and tenter also came easily, perhaps in part because I am a member of REI. After that, however, I was lost. So I have to credit Rex for his generalized crossword acumen, despite his lack of expertise in SAMS.

Lewis 12:23 PM  

@rex -- great writeup. When you get righteous you can be very very funny.

The dreckiness is definitely there, but there was enough in my wheelhouse to pull this one off. Does anyone say GASOLINESTATION rather than gas station? AMATIS is pure crosswordese. IDIGIT feel stale to me. I'd like to see an "I" before GUESSSO (though I do like those three esses in a row). And RIMY is slimy.

But I must say I like solving the quad stacks; that's just fun to me. I will put up with a lot more dreck in a puzzle like this than usual. When I saw who the constructors were, before I even saw the grid, there was a smile on my face.

I love the word SMOOT, may this become crosswordese so I may see it again and again. I also liked SACRIFICAL LAMB, as well as EXORCIST and its clue.

Fred Romagnolo 12:37 PM  

@mathguy: the word is "fellatio," and I suppose, by extension, fellationist (er?). I got it started with "am I glad to see you"; then the whole bottom fell into place. "Adelaide's Lament" gave me the top. I had to guess ternes (didn't know REI).

Michael Hanko 1:12 PM  

Fellatio is not IMO an unfortunate practice.

But that is off topic. Loved the puzzle, most of all for ADELAIDESLAMENT and SINGINGTOGETHER, in the same stack, no less.

Looking at things that are challenging to construct gives me a similar frisson to considering an elegant proof.

Susan McConnell 1:14 PM  

I like the stacks. I am always taken aback when I first see all of that white space. It is visually jarring. And then sooo satisfying when I have filled it all in.

I think it's valid to point out less than optimal fill. I am more willing to forgive it for the thrill of the stacks than Rex is. I also think it is valid to point out that a constructor tends to favor them (not that I think that is a negative thing). Different strokes for different folks. If we all liked the same things all the time, it would be a very dull world.

When my niece was little and didn't like something someone cooked for her, she would make a face and say "YUCK!" We taught her to be honest, but tactful and say, "Thanks, but it's not my favorite."

I know Rex doesn't like quad stacks, so I was expecting the bad review. But when I feel like he crosses the line from validly criticizing the puzzle to berating the constructor, I just lose respect.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

My best LOL mistake today was "marine ambulance". I thought, how sweet, there are ambulances and EVTs to rescue those poor ducks!

Favorite use of the word "smoot" was at a ski lift ( actually a T Bar) going to the peak of a very steep couloir. The sign at the bottom -- crayon on cardboard -- read: "do NOT take this lift unless you are prepared to seriously SMOOT."

Thanks for the fun. I guess I seriously "smooted" today.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

For me, the second "e" in "ternes" crossing REI was pure Natick. Got the rest reasonably easily: for those who did a high school production of Guys and Dolls -- reportedly half the population -- Adelaide's Lament filled in with a few crosses.

A word of support for Sammy Fain, who I know has the unforgivable flaw of being old (in fact, dead), but who wrote any number of hugely well-known songs. In addition to April Love (a number one hit in 1957), he turned out Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella, I'll Be Seeing You, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Secret Love, and You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me -- the latter Maurice Chevalier's signature tune, which the Marx Brothers memorably sang trying to use Chevalier's passport in Monkey Business.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

SAMS are Surface-To-Missiles, used for antiaircraft defense. But I agree, this was a dog of a puzzle. Ternes? Las as mates of Sol? It wasn't all that hard, just supremely irritating.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

sorry. meant to say Surface-To-Air Missiles in that previous comment.

Benko 3:13 PM  

@Peter Philips: Over on Amy's blog, MAS mentioned that he originally clued SAMS as referring to "Sam's Club", but Will changed it. Probably because the name SAM is too close to SAMMY.
@metarex: I had the exact same experience with SAMMY Cahn/Kahn/FAIN.

OISK 3:24 PM  

Some obscurities are clearly worse than others. Never heard of Gilbert Adair, but if you have ADAI_, Adair is a reasonably likely last name. However, an answer like REI is impossible to guess if (like me) you haven't heard of it; every letter could be absolutely anything. Cross that with "Ternes" and it is Natick time. Same thing with EMI and TIA, but EMI is a far better known company than REI (at least it is to me). Product clues are bad enough, but when the answer is a set of initials (as I assume REI is), they really should be avoided.

wreck 3:30 PM  

REI is really not that obscure - they have over 130 stores in 34 states.

Gill I. P. 3:46 PM  

You know, every time a MAS appears, and by extension, JK, I know I'm in for an interesting blogorama and most likely a treat.
I mean, I already know @Rex will hate it, @Evil will have his day in court and there will be about 50% who hate it or 50% who love it. should be in seventh heaven with all the attention you get. You clearly have a sense of humor and some tough skin on your back.
I always thought of you as that "British sounding bloke" but now I come to think of you as "The sparks that keep on giving kind of chap."
Ok, having said that.... THIS WAS THE MOST DISGUSTING, VILE, HORRIBLE stacked puzzled ever. Where is Maleska when you need him. And seriously where in the world did you come up with ANTS IN ONES PANTS and why the hell do you keep using that phrase? I mean who says they have BUNS at a picnic and really, can any one please tell what SAMS mean? ;-)

Mark 3:54 PM  

REI stands for "Recreational Equipment, Inc.," or at least that's what one web site says. A bit bland and hard to remember at best. Fortunately for me, the huge impressive downtown Seattle incarnation of that happy store stands tall just a couple of miles down the road.

mac 3:56 PM  

Felt pretty easy except for the REI/Adair/Ternes corner.

Satellite states I got without crosses, but my favorite was the sacrificial lamb, followed by "Am I glad to see you".

I didn't know Sammy, but the crosses were fair.

A wrute-over at Big Ten/Pac Ten. I was proud to think of the Ten at all.

Atlantasolver 4:00 PM  

Can I start up an old debate once again? I just don't see how using Google to find answers is much different from just looking at the solution the next day and filling in the grid that way. Give me some justification, please!

Bob Kerfuffle 4:09 PM  

@Atlantasolver - By looking up things on Google, you have a good chance of learning something, and a better chance of remembering than if you just glance at a completed grid.

Not all crossword solving is a competition. There is almost never a prize, so you aren't cheating anyone by looking things up. If looking up some obscurity allows you to finish a puzzle, why not do it?

Z 4:16 PM  

@wreck - There are three REI stores in my general neighborhood, still never heard of them. I tend to buy the kinds of items they sell from local small businesses rather than big box retailers. Adding to my ignorance is that all three of their "local" stores are in outer suburbs of Detroit, none in the inner burbs, none outstate, so they really have a very small footprint in Michigan. What may be most damning is that they seem to be oriented towards outdoor sports but aren't located near the best locations in Michigan to engage in these activities (he says not really being in tune with that world - maybe they are the bee's knees of Outdoor Sports Stores).

So, yes, big enough to be crossworthy, but still a double-natick at ADAIR/TERNES.

@Gill I.P. - It's a good thing that the Dynamic Duo didn't try to use PANTS IN ONE'S AUNTS, I suppose.

adicecream 4:28 PM  

I love quad stacks. And I finished this puzzle in a reasonable amount of time, while watching a baseball game in TV. A good day all around!

And I truly believe googling is cheating. But once in a while when I have given up....I do check one answer and then can solve the rest of the puzzle. That's my rationalization at least.

Arlene 4:37 PM  

@Atlantasolver - regarding using Google. It's not the same as looking up the solution the next day (or on this blog). What should happen is:
1- The Google answer(s) is enough to allow you to fill in more of the grid, or all of the grid.
2- You might learn something - as @Kerfuffle says above. And it's most likely to be something you've never come across before.
There's a life lesson in there somewhere too!

Casco Kid 4:58 PM  

@Atlantasolver, There are many puzzles that can't be googled. This was one. TERNES was absolutely unget-able without all of the crosses, or without being savvy enough to know that pEwtEr and soldEr aren't the only tin-lead alloys. (The smart money stayed away from those two rabbit holes and solved the quad stack without them. I'm famously not so smart.)

Google is a crutch, and not a particularly dependable one. You can't google for TIC or LAS or HEX. You'll either know them, get them with crosses or you'll be dead. So there is still plenty of drama left in a world when you play with a google handicap. I try not to google until I've put in an hour of toil. And I'll always report the number of googles and either errors-on-submission when I manage to fill the grid or cheats, when I don't. A zero-google/zero-error day happens once a week, usually a Monday or Tuesday. That's the way I roll, it seems.

Crossword databases (often found with google) are, however, cheats. I only patronize those when I've given up all hope, as happened today.

Susan Miskimins 5:01 PM  

I'm with Blue Stater on this puzzle. In my opinion it does not even appeal to 1% of solvers. No fun for the rest of us.

wreck 5:11 PM  


When I used to travel to Detroit, I would usually stay in the Livonia/Novi area. REI's are on the "high-end" scale of outdoor equipment and apparel - I think they be "member owned."

sanfranman59 5:13 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Fri 22:26, 21:38, 1.04, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 14:50, 12:57, 1.15, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 6:02 PM  

"USM" as an abbreviation for "United States Marine Corps" yesterday and now "idio" (OK, I got it: idiosyncratic, idiopathic, etc.- I'm literate, I've been to college and grad school) after "REI," "Tia" as an actress's name who is NOT Tia Carrere (at least I've heard of her; the first "Wayne's World movie), "terne" c/w REI, Sammy Fain. Really, is Shortz working to alienate his traditional solver base? Puzzles, even if difficult, are SUPPOSED to be enjoyable, and something of a friendly dialogue between solver and constructor; has Shortz and his current stable of sado-cruciverbalists forgotten that?

Atlantasolver 6:32 PM  

Fair enough, Kerfuffle and others. I guess you might add that the constructors often seem to have Googled in the first place.

JFC 6:41 PM  

OK, I’ve read Amy and Deb and Rex and many of the comments and, Joe and Martin, I am sad to say this is no Easter present. I would say there are three legitimate expressions (maybe one more) in those eight stacked quads and the rest are strained, forced, unnatural or just plain unknown. I liked SATELLITE STATES, SACRIFICIAL LAMB and GASOLINE STATION. Aside from all those odd looking four letter forced fills up top and on the bottom, that middle looks like the Kasserine Pass after Rommel’s Afrika Korps batterd the U.S Army's II Corps and the British 6th Armoured Division. REI, SIE, IDIO, LIS, ROZ, RAH, EMI, TAC, AZOV, MAPA, LAS, RIMY, etc., etc., etc. are like strewn bodies in the aftermath and all those black squares look like cavities in the ground from the barrages from tank and cannon shells. The good news, though, is that I worked it while drinking vodka, so that mitigated whatever pain I might have felt.


Z 7:46 PM  

@wreck - Based on their locations, I would guess you are right, they are trying to be a chic outdoors store. Maybe that is even how they started out. But I won't be going out of my way to shop there. I will probably get REI immediately the next time it appears in a puzzle, though.

@atlantasolver - A great philosopher once said, "None of us will report you to the crossword police, I promise. What you choose to live with is up to you. You will find the whole array of google use commented upon here; Never, Only Post-Solve, Only Once I've Given Up, When I Get Stuck, In Order to Get Started (usually only for Friday and Saturday puzzles). Personally, if I google I consider it a DNF, though I may not bother to mention it here when I do. I do try to google to verify "facts" before I embarrass myself by saying something wrong here."

Norm 7:51 PM  

Don't love stacks; don't hate them. Was pretty sure Rex would not like the puzzle. I'm ambivalent. I don't how I managed to finish without Googling: the ADELAIDESLAMENT row had the final blanks, and _ _ EL _ IDESLA _ ENT wasn't too hard to figure out by that point. Can't say I enjoyed it though. LAT made me smile more today.

Gill I. P. 8:24 PM  

@JFC...Here's the thing. All of those three letter words are pretty much in the vocabulary - at least to me. It's when you start using words like orientated, diaphoretic and recoinnoiter that I balk because really, does anyone utter them? Well, maybe.....

Eather Henry 9:27 PM  

SAMS are surface to air missles

Robso 9:47 PM  

Rex, I believe you're officially off the MAS Christmas card list.

JFC 9:56 PM  

@Gill, I do not agree. It's that simple. And it's not just the individual entries. It's also the collection of what can only be viewed as ugly. Even the grid is ugly. I have no predisposition against quad stacks but this really is a mish-mash of ugly.

Allow me to say what Rex was saying without saying it. Had this puzzle not been constructed by these two but by a couple of unknowns, Will Shortz would have turned the application into a paper airplane and flown it across Times Square.

In sum these two constructors should have known better in the first place and Will shouldn't have let it go through.


sanfranman59 10:09 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 6:04, 6:12, 0.98, 38%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:09, 8:32, 1.07, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 10:57, 10:19, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:16, 18:33, 0.72, 7%, Easy
Fri 23:07, 21:38, 1.07, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:02, 3:58, 1.02, 56%, Medium
Tue 5:39, 5:11, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:51, 6:17, 1.09, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:40, 10:44, 0.71, 4%, Easy (10th lowest ratio of 223 Thursdays)
Fri 14:29, 12:57, 1.12, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Tita 10:17 PM's not just famous people or @Rex targets.
In my plebian career, I've always heard, and seen, "it only takes one 'oh shit' to wipe out a whole bunch of 'atta boys'."

And what's up with the vitriole against Maleska? Fine, we have a new age in puzzles. I'm ok with that. I cut my teeth on late Maleska, then Weng. Styles come and go. In 20 years, will Rex's followers be deriding the Shortzian era? I bet they will be.

Just like the interior decorator who tells you how 'dated' your kitchen is.
All that word means is that you followed a decorator's advice 5 years ago.

EMS is my go-to sporting goods chain. I know REI only from puzzles.

This puzzle? I agree with Rex on the wince-inducing dreck, and wound up with 3/4 of the puzzle done before having to google, but don't have a strong opinion for or against the stacks.
Like 'em when I can get them, like the south, SNEERAT them when I cain't, like the NW.

Thanks, anyway, to the constructors, and 'night, Rexville.

Anonymous 10:18 PM  

JFC: You are saying that Will does not treat all submissions/constructors equally. This is completely untrue... both myself and Joe have received many rejections from Will... he doesn't play favorites. If Will likes a puzzle he accepts it, if not he rejects it (or asks for changes). It's that simple. I'm sorry you didn't like the puzzle. But the fact is that both Joe an I did, and obviously so did Will. Criticize the puzzle all you want, it's a free country, and I have a pretty thick skin. So seriously, I have no problem with your opinions or Rex's for that matter. But please don't say that there is favoritism going on, because that is untrue.


Martin Ashwood-Smith

Norm 11:22 PM  


I think there is a difference between "play[ing] favorites" (which I don't think is what JFC was saying] and not being as critical of known & respected constructors (which was how I read his comment).


michael 12:00 AM  

Didn't find this particularly hard, liked the puzzle, knew what Rex would say.

Mayaleo 4:31 PM  

A person could develop a cold!

RastusFB 1:50 AM  

A week or two ago I complained that Rex's site has become just about ripping puzzles, rather than solving them. Today I stand with Rex in just ripping this monstrosity. Gad, what a piece of crap.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo. The "half empty" cuppers have had their field day. The nitpickers are in rare form. The negatators are in full bloom.

Personally, I DNF because of REI and TERNES, but I had a great time with all the rest.

So thanks very much Messrs. Ashwood & Krozel. I usually disregard the comments of the Pedant who runs this show.

Ron Diego 9:45 AM PST 5/9/14

spacecraft 12:37 PM  

Let's face it: stackers make you use a different muscle. When the ball comes to your left, better have a decent backhand. So, comparing these to "normal" puzzles is apples/oranges. The fill is GOING to suffer; accept this going in.

I hope somebody can explain to me 42a. I had TAC locked in on crosses, so just stared at it and shrugged. Was that right? GUESSSO (clever way to sneak in the ol' triple S, guys!).

Since I had ESSO on top, I started the bottom with EXXONGASSTATION. But the X's wouldn't, er, cross. Turns out I simply needed to STAYIN the generic mode. That, and changing IDeO to IDIO to accommodate AMATIS, were my only w/os.

Can you have TENHOURS and PACTEN in the same grid? Is that flaggable? Just wonderin'.

ADELAIDESLAMENT evokes for me a nice memory, recalling the time I appeared opposite the great and lovely Viv Blaine in summer stock. I can't resist just a couple of lines from that ditty:

"In other woids, just from wondering whether the wedding is on or off, a poisson can develop a cough."

So, thanks for the memories, guys. Keep on doing your thing. Every serious player needs a good backhand.

Best I can do today is trip 4's.

ctdwag 2:04 PM  

Not that cock sucking is a bad thing. Ahem.

ctdwag 2:24 PM  

@spacey: TAC might be the middle square in tic tac toe (42 across)

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Lani Guinier is not an obscure clue. She was all over the news in 1993, when President Clinton nominated her as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, and then withdrew her after Republicans went berserk over some of the stuff she had written.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

I liked it. Hey Mikey!

DMG 2:57 PM  

While I admire the ability needed to create this type of puzzle, I shudder when I see them, Too many unfamiliar words. Still, did better than expected when I saw all that white space, but, of course, DNF. The NW was a mess because I had no idea about the first three downs, not helped by damagEINSURANCE. Even ELIGIBLE didn't help me fix that. Elsewhere, don't know REI, SBA, AZOV, and HEX, which I think of as a spell. The rest finally worked out, tho I still don't know what airline EMI represents. Short for Emirates? Know them cause they sponsor a lot of tennis.

Loved the Adelaide quotes!

Pretty good house, 88899.

Solving in Seattle 3:50 PM  

I had the same reaction to TENTER as did Rex - "naw, couldn't be." @Spacy, pull that hanky.
GUESSSO looks snakey.
Had "paid" before AMAN for 57D. Tried to fit availaBLE in 4D. Finally got it right despite having no idea about 2D & 3D, or 5D.
Love SCARLETA's flute concerti.
This puz took me awhile, but I decided to SLUGITOUT and eventually finished despite all the proper names.
I don't know why, but don't you like SMOOT BUNS?

@DMG, EMI is a music business that Sir Ridchard Branson owns along with the Virgin brand.

Two pair. Fold. Have good weekend.

Dirigonzo 5:01 PM  

I absolutely love watching the grid-spanners come into view as the crosses go in, and each one providids its own OHO! moment when the full phrase comes to mind. Alas, in the end a rookie mistake doomed me as I had SNEERED in place without re-reading the clue to see that the tense was wrong, so SAMMY and TIA eluded me. That's too bad because "April Love" was the first song to ever tug a my budding heart strings and I enjoyed being reminded of it.

Who knew @Gil I.P. did satire?

Still hot at the table, though - eights full of fours.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

WTF? Hated this puzzle, even my cat wouldn't sit on the newspaper for this one. What a bunch of Smoot!

sdcheezhd 7:23 PM  

OK I guess I'm now educated that Sammy Fain is worth knowing. But Sammy Cahn is much better known and having 7 of the 9 letters the same made Fain look even stranger.

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