Democrat in Bush cabinet / FRI 5-23-14 / Actress in best-selling 1979 swimsuit poster / Notable buried at Cathedral of Lima / Rosalind Russell title role / Capital of France's Manche department / Latin America's northernmost city / Mitsubishi model whose name means huntsman in spanish / Arizona city across border from city of Sonora with same name

Friday, May 23, 2014

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: DEGAUSS (23A: Make less attractive?) —
Degaussing is the process of decreasing or eliminating a remnant magnetic field. It is possibly named after the Gauss unit of magnetism, which in turn is named after Carl Friedrich Gauss. Due to magnetic hysteresis it is generally not possible to reduce a magnetic field completely to zero, so degaussing typically induces a very small "known" field referred to as bias. Degaussing was originally applied to reduce ships' magnetic signatures during WWII. Degaussing is also used to reduce magnetic fields in CRT monitors and to destroy data held on magnetic data storage. (wikipedia)
• • •
Several feelings.

Not sure what's so hard about getting day-of-the-week placement right. Twice this week we've had wildly misplaced puzzles. Monday's should've been T or W. Today's is clearly a Saturday.

When I hit the Zs, I felt such massive disappointment.  Puzzle went from tough-but-fair and somewhat interesting to gimmicky, on a dime. Weirdly, knowing there was a Z-block there made the puzzle *easier* than it would've been, but that didn't make me happy. It just made me frustrated at having to deal with off-cluing (like [Flusters] for TIZZIES) and words I've barely or never heard of like FOOZLER (35A: Bungler).

The fill on this is very solid. Impressively so. Hard to get fill to consistently acceptable levels when you're dealing with so much white space. Nothing here to really make you go "wow" (unless you have a Z fetish), but give it up for the relative smoothness. This bodes well for David's future pursuit of the Patrick Berry Themeless Ideal (PBTI).

Let's look at some hot and not-so-hot spots. First a side note: I solved this *immediately* upon waking. Well, no, I let the dogs out and fed them first, but then straight upstairs to the office to solve. I thought this was the reason my time was so slow, but then I checked the times posted online and realized I wasn't alone. Still, I feel like having coffee in me might've helped me get out of that NW corner a little faster, as, for a while, NLEAST was about the only thing I was sure of. USA USA! and EATS and STU followed, and then LATE AUTUMN, but after that, I just got stuck. None of the Downs made sense. You'd think "publicity" would've led me to STUNT at 6D: Means of attracting publicity, but no. Wrote in AIR GUNS then took it out because … it didn't sound that Olympian to me. Had ORION for the [Mythical hunter] at one point, and, worst of all, FISSURES for 1A: Tears (yeah, I know, it's perfect—perfectly wrong, but perfect).

Never heard of DEGAUSS and thought [Bell the cat] had to do with putting a bell on a cat so you could hear it so you would have forewarning of its approach so it wouldn't kill you because you're a mouse. I sort of forgot the part where actually putting the bell on was a treacherous, difficult task, i.e. something you DARED to do. So DEG-USS and D-RED … well, the choice there was easy, though the feeling it left me with wasn't.

Hardest part for me was the SE. And I *knew* MONTERO (39A: Mitsubishi model whose name means "huntsman" in Spanish). This is where the cluing on TIZZIES and the strangeness of FOOZLER really kept me held up. Put in and took out DIONE several times. Wanted HENNAED, then thought it looked dumb. In, out, in. Took me forever to see TONTINE, a word I know from "The Simpsons" but would never have thought of as a synonym for [Life insurance plan]. Forgot FENNEL was a "bulb"—kept looking for onion-type plants there. OMNI? Sorry, my Book of Mormon book knowledge is rusty. ERLE C. Kenton. Come on. When you have to put ERLE in your puzzle, admit to yourself that you have used crosswordese, accept it, and give us a Stanley Gardner clue. Make it a good one. Make it a tough one. But don't try to con me into believing other ERLEs qualify. They don't.

See you tomorrow, when I will be stunned if I don't solve the puzzle faster than I did this one.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Sir Hillary 8:49 AM  

Similar solving experience to @Rex, albeit slower no doubt. No idea what TONTINE or DEGAUSS mean. Wanted fissUrES badly, but fortunately never wrote it in. Mixed feeling on the Zs -- FOOZLER? Seriously?

I am sure they work very hard, but calling a BOTANIST a "worker" seems off to me. My first inclination was gardener.

And absolutely agree this was Saturday fare, and hard Saturday fare at that.

Objectively, I look at this grid and am impressed to the point of being DAZZLED. I cannot say that I enjoyed solving it, however.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

"TONTINE"?? Ugh.

I guess all those Z's don't really count as a theme...?

ArtO 8:51 AM  

If i can almost finish a Friday without googling, it can't be CHALLENGING. Maybe if Rex solved last night, it would have been easier. Sometimes the brain cells take some time to warm up.

Russell Long 8:52 AM  

When they invent a day between Saturday and Sunday, that's where this puzzle belongs. Got nailed on Foozler. Had Fizzler. Wasn't happy with degauss but couldn't fit anything else in.

Lewis 8:56 AM  

I am one of those who thought the Z's were fun, but never heard of FOOZLER. I'd forgotten about BO DEREK and AUNTIE MAME (from way different eras). Never heard of TONTINE, VEIDT, and MINETA. I also never heard of PRENAME and it has, I see, a low Google count. LIked the clues for HOMER, BOTANIST, and COLANDER (even though it was a gimme). Had SEcurEST, which held me up for a while.

Three separate puzzles, gorgeous grid.

It did feel like a Friday to me, not a Saturday. Much of it fell relatively easily. I do love David's dexterity with the language.

NCA President 9:03 AM  

Well, at least one miracle happened today (so far)...and it's that I didn't hate a David Steinberg puzzle.

But I still swear to anything above me that he just goes to his thesaurus and fills in the grid with it. FOOZLER? DEGAUSS? HENNAED? These are words that are so far off the "even slightly possible to be used in any conversation ever" scale that the only way to explain it is either Roget or Webster.

Otherwise, I did find it difficult but not in the usual Steinbergian way. I kinda got lost in the ZZs thinking it was themed then that it wasn't themed and then "huh, there's a pattern to the ZZs!" and then a "meh...there's a pattern to the ZZs." Seemed somehow on the one hand gratuitous and on the other hand kind of a clever nod to having an anchor of organiZZation to the grid. I'll give him credit for that anyway.

Ben GAZZARA...I don't believe I've seen or heard that name in 30 years or even more...

Andrew Morrison 9:07 AM  

Definitely a challenge. I echo RPs comments, especially in the SW. I got DEGAUSS and reall liked the hint, but since I was just reading about naval anti-mine tactics yesterday, it was a bit if a gimme. BTW, the process of degaussing a ship is surprisingly primitive! I won't complain about TONTINE, I will just make sure I file that away fir the future and be happy for the newly-acquired knowledge. FOOZLER, though, is a dud.

Casco Kid 9:07 AM  

Gave up at 1:15. 16 googles. 6 errors, two of which were bad googles. I had essentially the entire NE wrong. Reminded me of MAS's puzzle last Friday. Lots of stuff I didn't care to know.

[Zero, for one] eVen. Zero is an even number. I was pretty sure of this one, which drove the rest of the wrongness. OVAL was too far afield.
[Genesis source] lEvi. Levi had children, as described in Genesis. Unsatisfying, I know, but that's a Friday answer to a Friday clue. SEGA? I would not have gone there.
[Kind of jacket] uniK. Google led me here based on _n_K.
[Philatelists abbrev] dEnu. Had _E_u. Wanted dEnm or deno, for denomination, but uniK blocked. What's PERF?
[Fulminates] nevES. Had _e_ES and used best guess on crosses. RAGES was get-able.
[Affected sorts] delEURS. No attempt to justify. I just quit there. POSEURS was get-able.

As for the 14 successful googles, many knocked out answers I was confident of: figurEOUT, fawcett, tItan, GuevARA.

I could picture MINETA, remember that he was transpo, but couldn't remember his name. All I had was Shenseki. (Hmm. Wonder why?)

As for ERLE Kenton, STLO Manche, Conrad VEIDT, book of OMNI, PIZARRO's tomb, Mitsubishi MONTERO, SENECAN tragedians, VISINE brands, and whoever played AUNTIEMAME, I simply stipulate that Steinberg's database is bigger than my knowledge base. Any-hoo...

I settled on ENTO for [Inside opening?] when I wanted ENdO. What begins with ENTO besides entomology?

Noted with approval the nod to @Z and @AliasZ. But at what cost?

I conclude (dispassionately, this time) that this was an epic drubbing. Carrying on . . .

Dean 9:08 AM  

Bleagh. Fatally stumped at TONTINE/FOOZLER, two words I never heard of (and probably won't remember). DEGAUSS I got quickly, having been a radio announcer and producer back when everything was on tape; then I pulled it out, thinking "Nah - too obscure for cutesy cluing." I don't know how anyone not of my generation and background would know it. I get CAROUSES for "Tears" (finally), but TIZZIES as a synonym of "Flusters" exceeds the bounds of English as I know it.

Carola 9:20 AM  

DNF.  All went swimmingly until I flailed and went under in the SW, misspelling GAZarRA, mis-guessing "garlic," and clueless about FOOZLER, TONTINE, DIONE, MONTERO, OMNI, and ERLE.  Had fun up to then, though.

I was hoping that PIZARRO might cross "bizarre."  When I visited the Lima Cathedral in the late 60s, his mummified remains were on view in a glass coffin - but it was later discovered that these bones actually weren't his after all and a switch needed to be made.

Glimmerglass 9:28 AM  

Excellent Friday (or Saturday) puzzle. Challenging and totally fair. I wasn't bothered by all the Zs, but I don't think finding some helped me solve any others. So, not a theme, just an anomaly. There was plenty of misdirection. I also jumped to the Orion conclusion, but that would have been just crosswordese. DIANA was excellent, but perhaps the clue should have been the traditional but non-PC "huntress." This puzzle was right in my wheelhouse, but it still took me a long time to solve.

usahole 9:35 AM  

ugh, had FAWCETT instead of BODEREK and it was fatal.

Norm 9:36 AM  

TONTINES are actually very cool (look it up), but it helps if you have an older brother who's an actuary and has written on the subject. I liked the puzzle a lot. The center section was quite easy, but the other sectors all put up a decent fight. Not sure what a PRENAME is, so I'll go read about it now.

Horace S. Patoot 9:37 AM  

The number of wise men is not specified in the bible although three gifts are mentioned. There could have been any number of wise men greater than one, and any number of gifts greater than two.

I got a kick out of the Z block, but I didn't like the clue on TIZZIES.

chefbea 9:38 AM  

Tough puzzzzzle. Loved all the zzz's and all the food terms - apples colander, fennel (had garlic at first) oregano and of course eat!!!

GZA 9:41 AM  

Felt great for the first 8 minutes. Then I hit the WSW section, with about eight squares left. Twenty-five minutes later I hit submit and am SHOCKED to get it.

Only way I see FOOZLED is an assumption of grid zymmetry.

Must have mixed the Simpson's tontine reference. But always happy to learn a new word, especially one that relates to an outlawed finance scheme.

And the forehead slapping duh moment came with HENNAED. The possibility of an A before that -ED absolutely escaped me.

In all, appreciate the challenge. Would rather have a Saturday on a Friday than a Thursday on a Friday any day.

Nancy 9:41 AM  

Couldn't get BOTANIST nor most of the SW corner. The rest wasn't that hard, except for DEGAUSS which came in when I guessed at the G in NOGALES. Originally I had tried NOdALES, but DEdAUSS felt wrong:) Otherwise, I have but two words to say about this puzzle:
Yawn. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Z 9:48 AM  

NW to SE went easy. DNF in the NE and SW.

I do like how the Z pattern echoes the grid pattern. Did not like the clues for OMNI or ERLE, nor PERF on pure lack of aesthetics. I also wanted Detroit for 30D. Make sure you visit SW Detroit the next time you are here.

loren muse smith 9:57 AM  

(Note – I typed this and emailed myself so I could try to post it while subbing for middle school science. These kids have worked themselves into TIZZIES since the end is near. And get this – I finally sent one to the office yesterday (a rare and really big deal for me). The minute she left, the relief was palpable. Felt like going from outside in 100 degree temp with high humidity to inside a 68-degree, gloriously air-conditioned department store. I was so happy. Then she was back in under 10 minutes. She entered the room with one hand up in a Hail the Conquering Hero way and immediately started being hateful and throwoutofthewindowful again. I considered just staying home today and shoving upholstery tacks into my gums. (Hi, my good buddy, David Sedaris.) Anyway, I can't respond to anyone's posts.)

David Steinberg is working his way over in my mind to join MAS and Krozel – Envelope Pushers United. I like stacks. I like grids with eight black squares. I like grids with stair stepping Z's. I just couldn't solve this without help. I thought once I squinted to see PERF and no other answers – a carefully refined skill – I thought I could wrestle this one to the mat. But nooooo. FOOZLER, TONTINE, DEGAUSS, GAZZARA, DIONE, NOGALES. Yikes!

"Garlic" before FENNEL and "Fawcett" before BO DERECK like thousands, I’m sure.


"Too too" before EVERSO, and I ended up with "mas" crossing those "are names," Ratthew, Rark, Ruke, and Rohn. Sheesh.

I had a kinda PERF thing going in my early twenties – permed do, roundish, resembling a nerf ball. Perfro, maybe? Man was I a vision standing under that thing.

@M&A – You haven't scared me off; I have my theme and theme entries ready for my debut She Didn't Punt Runt Stunt, or "Rt Stt Puz No. 1," to foreshadow a bit.
I've read and reread your instructions, but you have to understand – it took me weeks to learn how to italicize here. And months to learn how to embezzle links. Simply learning how to save a Crossword Compiler puzzle to Across Lite was a major step for me, and I'm not being funny. Baby steps – let's start with the grid. CC won't seem to let me do a 7x7 and put in themers for me. Do I have to enter each black square manually?

Hey, Steinberg – impressive as usual. It's fun watching your career.

*You’re welcome for the mother-of-all earworms.

mathguy 10:00 AM  

DNF, had to look up MONTERO. WEB (in his blog) also struck out on the lower left. I learned TONTINE when the novel with that name by Thomas Costain was published in 1955, although I didn't remember it as a life insurance plan. I enjoyed the wide variety of words in the grid.

Debby Weinstein 10:04 AM  

A very Rexy response, Mr. President. YOU don't have certain words in your everyday vocabulary, hence no one does, and you get to take points off the creator's score? Hennaed was a gimme for me, degauss was a gimme for my husband (an IT pro), and we thought foozler was cute.

Maruchka 10:06 AM  

Never thought of a TONTINE as a life insurance instrument, more as a kooky estate plan. Saw "The Wrong Box" many years ago and laughed a lot. Shoulda known it..

Loved the Z's. Silly and fun. FENNEL came late, tho - kept wanting FUNNEL, although not bulb-shaped at all.

What does PERF mean? Perforation? Phooey. And why are the evangelists PRENAMES?

All in all, pretty good Friday with 5 googles. Agree with Rex about ERLE. C'mon, David. You're better than that.

OISK 10:11 AM  

My time was shorter than yesterday's, and fast for a Friday. (for me) If I hadn't noticed David's name, I would never have guessed this was his. Clever, and well constructed, as usual, but virtually devoid of all the annoying (to me) pop culture reference, sneaker brands, computer slang, hip hop lyrics…Only one product name (Montero), and I knew it. The only mystery for me was "Foozler," - don't know that term. I 'd have been faster had I not misspelled Gazzara as Gazarra. Also began with "Late August" instead of "Late Autumn."
Nice way to begin the long weekend! Thanks, David, well done!

John Child 10:12 AM  

As @Z says, the grid iS a Z, and with the center block of them that surely makes a theme.

Clued sadisticly: ERLE as OFL said, OMNI, STLO, HOMER. I liked seeing MEXACALI and NOGALES together.

Brilliant but not a lot of fun.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

I speak a bit of Spanish so I knew the word for hunter is cazador, which of course just wasn't working at all. Finally remembered there was a Mitsubishi model named Montero, which literally means mountaineer. I guess a mountaineer could also be a hunter . Didn't mind the zz's at first but, Tizzies? Foozler? Come on, now you're just making stuff up. Even dizzies for confused was a stretch.

Questinia 10:20 AM  

A delectably confected chocolate rum ball of a puzzle with an oozy boozy center of Z's.

Medium with the SE most resistant given my putting PMS instead of MPS.

John V 10:26 AM  

I had a couple of unfilled spots and just ran out of time, but, overall I thought this was easy for a)Friday b)Steinberg. I usually don't get on David's wavelength but today was better.

Now, perhaps the sun will come out?

AliasZ 10:28 AM  

This dizzying puzzle had pizzazz and razzmatazz, with many snazzy "zz"s. It was akin to Belshazzar's feast in a jacuzzi, in the mezzanine of my palazzo on Piazza Navona, with sizzling mozzarella pizza delivered, a mezzo soprano on one side, and a frazzled, scuzzy-looking jazzwoman with a quizzical look on her face on the other, paparazzi all around. There was no swizzle stick in my sloe gin fizz. The buzzards finished the last of the pizza as the muezzin was calling for evening prayer. ZZ-Top's performance of the Pizzicato Polka provided some atmosphere.

This is when the buzzer awakened me.


Fuzzy-wuzzy was a bear,
David Steinberg doesn't care.
He makes puzzles with pizzazz,
'Cause he's not a lame kizz-azz.

He is not a minor POSEUR,
Don't address him as "son", no sir!
But he has to wear a muzzle
'Til he makes another puzzle.


But seriously folks, TONTINE? FOOZLER? WOE?

Other than that, great fun. Thank you David.


Kris in ABCA 10:37 AM  

Tough to have VEIDT next to MINETA, both of whom are unfamiliar to me. Never heard of Ben GAZZARA or "Run For Your Life". Tough puzzle, but I liked it.

mac 10:57 AM  

Impossible. Degauss, tontine, foozler. Plenty more I did not know but got through crosses. In the end only the far NE and SW were blank.

For the Spanish hunter I hoped it would be a word related to cacciatore. I had to change late August to late autumn. Hand up for garlic and too-too and Orion.

It was a struggle, and a very challenging Friday, but I enjoyed most of it.

Ludyjynn 11:05 AM  

Ugh...when I finally gave up in the SW corner, for the first time I realized the constructor was
David Steinberg. That explains my first DNF in weeks. Most of my complaints echo Rex's, esp. ERLE and FOOZLER. WTF?! Also had Murine before VISINE; oops.

It fascinates me how little some solvers know about classic tv or film history. My first answer to go in was AUNTIEMAME, despite the fact the movie pre-dated my birth. It has been shown hundreds of times on television over the years. Likewise, Ben GAZZARA's successful series has been available in re-runs forever. I was a kid during its initial run, but that answer went in second. However, I still can't abide ERLE; sorry, DS and WS.

Hopefully, the Sat. puzz. will be of Fri. difficulty!

Fred Smith 11:23 AM  


Choosing the Evangalists was just misdirection; they are simply first names.

I lived in France where the first name is a "prenom." Something I learned well from filling out all the forms that are always being foisted on one there.

-- Fred

jae 11:26 AM  

ZZZipped through the NW (COLANDER with no crosses went in first) and thought this was going to be easy.  Not so!  Some of  "theme" answers in the middle were a tad obscure... FOOZLER,  DIZZIED...and the bottom half was kinda tough, so medium tough over all for me.

Not too fond of HENNAED.

VEIDT was a WOE and I've seen the movie several times.

Had to dredge up an old MASH episode to remember TONTINE.

But, the good stuff out weighed the not so good so liked it.  Nice one David.

Leapfinger 11:35 AM  

@Maruchka: Over in Amy-land, MA-S gave a link to "The Wrong Box" trailer; great old-fashioned B&W Brit insanity. PRENAME is just a term for 'given name' as opposed to surname. As I discovered after the fact.

@AtoZ: lol, DSteinberg is not a lame anything ... but you forgot to add NOB to your final list.

@whoevermentionedbizarre: Thanks for reminding me of Bizarro, some of the planet's most insane cartoonery.

About the puzzle: tough and I loved it. FOOZLER frizzled my hair. Loath to give up GARLIC, but HENNA'ED forced my hand, as it WERE. FENNEL was a dim bulb that only went off after running through onions, shallots, et Allium.

Thought that if Saturn WERE to sing, the song would be "Oh, please stay with me, DIONE". Can't help that, I was an impressionable 13 yo when we danced to that Anka tune in the Malcoffs' finished basement. Harriet's dad would check periodically that the lights WERE on.

In this part of the country, you see a lot of bumperstickers with 'Jesus is my copilot'; since landing is the trickiest part of flying, wouldn't it make sense to have some that say 'Jesus is my colander'?

Off to do penance.

jdv 11:36 AM  

Easy-Med. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot until I hit the z-section. Even though it didn't compromise the fill, it made the puzzle gimmicky. The NYT has five days a week for trickery and stunt puzzles, which I'm all for; but Fridays and Saturdays should inviolate and sacrosanct--a pure solving experience without distractions. Anyway, the SE corner was the toughest. I wanted PINETA instead of MINETA and it took me awhile to see SENECAN. Can someone explain 31d PRENAME? wasn't helpful. This was still a good puzzle, but it would have been so much better without the z's.

Jisvan 11:36 AM  

Dropped in LATE AUTUMN with no crosses (I know my apple succession), and MiINETA is a local hero, with an airport named for him and everything, and even remembered AUNTIE MAME, but this was still a long sweaty struggle with much groveling at the feet of Google. (Knew I was in trouble when I saw the grid. And the constructor!) But even the hardest puzzle is so worth it when you can share the suffering with others....aah! Off to work, my last day for the next three weeks! Wheeee!

JayWalker 11:38 AM  

I agree with many others - this wasn't a challenging puzzle - it was a pain in the "foozler." Messed up in the damnedest places! Got both fennel and tontine, but couldn't get "mope." Forget Omni and Erle. NE is where I died. I had "auteurs" instead of "poseurs" and was so convinced I was right that I blew that entire corner. "Tizzies" and Dizzied" killed me too, because after much Googling I did find the word "Tizzle" ergo I kept that in. This was part fun and part agony. And yes Rex, we DO need another day in the week for this kind of mental gymnastics.

Hartley70 11:43 AM  

Aargh! Really tough. Couldn't get the northeast because I had forgotten sega had a genesis, and in the southwest I had "don't die" as a life insurance plan. Never heard of tontine! What's a prename? I got it from the crosses. The Z's were apt in the middle because I got tired midway thru this and went back to sleep for a while

Steve J 11:57 AM  

My solve was similar to @Z's: Got the NW and SE corners pretty quickly, then ground to a halt on the diagonal.

Had tons of writeovers in the center. INHALES before GUZZLES; PUZZLED, then DAZZLED before DIZZIED; FIGURED OUT for PUZZLED OUT before I figured out the pile of Z's. Thought HENNAED when I first read the clue, refused to believe it (even though, this being a Steinberg, I knew it had to be true), wrote it in, took it out, wrote it back in.

FOOZLER is complete terra incognita to me. Recognized TONTINE only after the fact due to an episode of Archer featuring one, but it was nevertheless one of my Naticks/lookups, since I couldn't figure out the crossing FOOZLER. I'm familiar with DE GAUSS (you had to do it periodically to old CRT monitors), but never would have gotten it off the clue.

I personally think the Z thing got a little too cute for its own good, but aside from a couple spots (like the clue for ERLE, PERF and the forced-verb HENNAED) I thought this was tough, fair and evidence of Steinberg's continued refinement.

Mohair Sam 12:00 PM  

Wicked brutal Saturday for us. DNF'd in SW. Oh, it's Friday?

NW fell quickly and SE wasn't too tough in spite of VEIDT, thanks to AUNTIEMAME and MEXICALI. Battled through the NE thanks to BODEREK (yes, @lms, we first wanted fawcett) and SEGA. DEGAUSS is just brutal, but filled although we still doubted it.

Caught the ZZ thing and figured we'd be home with gimmes GAZZARA and MONTERO, and likely suspect FENNEL (love the stuff, btw). But noooooo. TONTINE, HENNAED, and FOOZLER all new words to us, we considered old Eeyore a Moaner, not up on our Mormon books, or Saturn moons, and didn't know ERLE. We were fried.

Tough one Mr. Steinberg, we stand before you humbled. But we got ya last time, and we'll get ya next.

Only complaint: Clue for Tizzies. But if it we'd gotten that we still would have dnf'd.

Masked and Anonym007Us 12:03 PM  

@muse--Sorry. I don't own CC software, so I don't know the answer. All we got here is a Big Chief tablet and an Apple computer. Big congrats to U for tryin this, tho. U go girl. Don't get tizzied. Don't recommend hennaed much, either.

Can't wait...

"Aspiring Foozler"

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Every CRT monitor used to have a button (or a menu item next to controlling brightness and such) labeled DEGAUSS which works make the monitor do a wacky little shiver. I used to hit that button all the time.

Mohair Sam 12:11 PM  

@maruchka - Thanks. "The Wrong Box", TONTINE, head-slap! Of course, so I have heard the word.

Funny, funny flick btw.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Age has an advantage. I had no problem with TONTINE because I remembered a novel from way back by that name. Nor with DEGAUSS because in the olden days we had to degauss TV and computer screens. I even knew HENNAED although I questioned it as a real word. The Zs were murder even when I knew the names -- is it GAZARRA or GAZZARA, PIZARRO or PIZZARO? The double ZZ words were the nails in the coffin for a DNF. I got some of them, but never would have come up with some others.

Why I never like David Steinberg's puzzles 12:16 PM  

a: In no way, shape, or form is a TONTINE a life insurance policy (and according to all literature, it's pretty much an assurance of death by other than natural causes). It's an asset that you lose all rights to when you die, rather than an asset that you bequeath to your designated heirs.

b) Why reference HENNAED with regards to tatoos rather than hair coloring? 99.99% of the time when someone says (not that anyone would ever say such a thing) I got HENNAED they are referring to hair coloring.

David seems to know tons of words, little context.

OISK 12:19 PM  

@ludyjynn. You wrote "It fascinates me how little some solvers know about classic tv or film history." Yep, and that is why a puzzle like this, that Rex finds challenging, I find fairly easy, while a pop-culture rich puzzle that he finds easy, I find a struggle. Never watched "Run for your life." Even worse, I know who "Opie" is only via the Times puzzle. But "degauss" and "tontine" are completely familiar terms. That's really the fun of the blog, that a collection of successful solvers have such completely different interests, strengths and weaknesses!

Arlene 12:23 PM  

I looked at the great white expanses on the grid and immediately thought this puzzle was impossible - but I persevered. With a Google here and there, I was able to fill it all in (missed SEGA) except for that SW corner - and gave it my best shot, figuring I'd see where I went wrong. But - Nope - all that TONTINE/FOOZLER stuff (which I had never heard of) was quite right.

So moral of the story is just keep going - and give it your best guess.

Richard Andriola 12:35 PM  

The theme Z is the shape of the puzzle

Casco Kid 12:36 PM  

@AliasZ Wow. Incomparable. A Ginsbergesque riff. Worth the price of admission.

RnRGhost57 12:43 PM  

Thought it was fun and learned some new vocab. What's not to like?

math guys 12:51 PM  



Maruchka 12:53 PM  

@Fred Smith - Thanks for the PRENAMES clarification. Prenoms makes more SENse to moi, aussi.

@Leapfinger - a) Thanks for the link. I love watching anything Peter Cook was in, simply because he was in it. b) PRENAMES is not in my huge Webster's Unabridged, but is on the Merriam Webster site. Could be specious, peut-etre?

Leapfinger 1:20 PM  


Loved your life insurance plan "Don't die", words to live by.

Who do I sign up with?

Leapfinger 1:31 PM  

'OOZing charm from every pore
He ERLEs his way across the floor,
That hairy hound from Budapest...'

Do I OVERSTATE my case? In more than one regard?

LaneB 2:33 PM  

I think the clues for d23 anda33 should be reversed. TIZZIES relates to confusion; DIZZIED to being flustered. WIth fill like PERF, DEGAUSS, PUZZLEOUT, FOOZLER and HENNAED it left me with blank letters that could have been almost anything.
Did 95 per cent and felt good about taking my late week DNF--particularly on a Stein berg submission (which had it been anyone but him and several other Shortz favorite regulars, would have been rejected IMHO)

Unknown 2:40 PM  

IMVHO the top of the puzzle was amazingly, unbelievably well-constructed, and the bottom not so much. (I'm guessing David started with the top?) Loved the Z block, but the bottom was full of things I'd never heard of, and defeated my.

DEGAUSS is a pretty well-known word for computer people like me, but funnily enough I didn't know who my namesake BO DEREK was. I'd heard the name, but didn't even know she was female. :)

I Skip M-W 3:03 PM  

Slightly under challenging for me. Albert Einstein's WWII effort involved finding ways to deGauss submarines.

sanfranman59 3:16 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 25:45, 21:15, 1.21, 84%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Fri 18:11, 12:39, 1.44, 95%, Challenging

With these solve times, this puzzle would rank as a Medium-Challenging Saturday. There will probably be a new low for the number of online Friday solvers today also (among those in the 5 years I've been tracking solve times, that is). We're currently at 182. The previous low was last week's 214. So I think the Top 100 rating is probably a more reliable indicator of the difficulty of this puzzle.

I'm wondering how much of a wrench the new, improved "crossword experience" the Times emailed me about the other day will throw into the stats I track. Time will tell.

Phil 3:27 PM  

It always surprises me what rex finds troublesome and what he doesn't even mention
NW and SE corners were easy except Pineta as the dem in bushdom made me scratch and rescratch obvious MIXER
Anyway poseur was a blank so couldn't start to solve degauss though i know what it is. Zero as nulL with FLAK kept me out of being close to the NE

Homer and hennaed ok but again tizzies diane made me dizzie.

I am in the steel business and it will always be ball PEiN hammer to us.

jdv 3:31 PM  

I still don't like the clue for 31d. It's been bothering me all day. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John could be names or prenames. Ron Artest is a prename, but his name is Metta World Peace. How about "Moon Unit, Apple, Suri" for 31d?

Gill I. P. 3:34 PM  

Well I do believe all the Z's have been eaten up here so there's not much to say. Oh, has anybody said ZOUNDS!!!! That's what the puzzle did for me. This was a (of many to come, I'm sure) puzzle that I really enjoyed from David. It was fresh and entertaining and I learned what FOOZLER and DEGAUSS mean - though my spell check doesn't like them....
Like @jae, my first entry was COLANDER and that dastard EMBEZZLER got me excited about all the Z's I might find.
My biggest woe was entering CAZADOR for 39A (It has a z after all) So the basement area held me up..
Good, fun Friday puzzle...I wouldn't mind seconds.

retired_chemist 3:48 PM  

Pretty much what Rex said, except I had to Google for the entire SW. TONTINE - yes, insurance, I guess, but I did not know it as that. Spanish -> English dictionary gives cazador and not MONTERO. The latter is not listed on Mitsubishi's web site and I had never heard of it. DIONE, OMNI, ERLE C. Kenton, never heard of them. TIZZIES is a noun, flusters a verb to me. FOOZLER - saw in a puzzle once, never elsewhere, forgot its meaning. FENNEL is a bulb? Okay.....Disappointing corner IMO.

IN NOVEMBER for 16A was fixable, and DEGAUSS was toughly clued but with thought it made sense.

On to Saturday which I too expect to find easier.

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

The whole.puzzle fell rather fast, but did not finish because of SW corner, i dont see the need for a ? on the clue for fennel. Its a bulb you find in a kitchen, no punniness, no misdirection. Either way TONTINE would have done me in. PS: Kitchen bulb? OVENLIGHT

Gill I. P. 4:36 PM  

@retired_che...I think MONTERO is more South American....If you're in Spain it would be Cazador and be sure to lisp your Z...

joho 4:58 PM  

Yep, not only was this a Saturday level puzzle it was a super-challenging Saturday. I was surprised I got as much as I did. DNF in the SW -- that was the cruelest corner of them all!

David, your skills always impress me. Most of the time I prevail but not today, you really got me good!

Leapfinger 5:12 PM  


Welcome. Utube has a couple of clips (Parts I and II) that together give you the first 7 minutes of Wrong Box. Close to devastatingly funny, chiefly Peter Sellers, tho, not Cook.

Prenames could be specious, bien sur, mais j'espere que non. I've just recently told it's more common overseas; I assume that means in the U.K.

DeeJay 5:53 PM  

NCA Pres, re: Ben Gazzara.

I was at a Greenwich Village comedy club about 25 years ago and Gilbert Gottfried was a surprise special guest.

He tells this shaggy dog story that starts with a farmer in a field, then he sees an UFO coming right at him. Portentous description of the creepy, evil aliens as they descend from the UFO to surround the farmer. They're all pointing really nasty weapons at the farmer.

Then the leader descends slowly, slowly and he's bigger and more evil-looking than the other.

He approaches the farmer and and looks down on him with a scary expression.

"We have travelled hundreds of thougsands of light years from our planet. We are in search of information that, if you possess, you will tell us. If you cannot tell us what we need to know we will kill you and destroy this entire planet."

A bit shaken, the farmer say, "What information do you seek?"

The leader: "Can you tell us why your people have never found a sit-com role for Ben Gazzara?"

Karl 5:58 PM  

Years ago when color televisions were new technology, the picture tubes would sometimes have to be DEGAUSSed. Magnetic fields could mess up the colors on the screen. I remember watching this process as a child. Newer sets had built-in degaussers. I don't know if this is the case with flat screens. By the way, "FOOZLER"? Seriously? Still solved it, but with multiple writeovers...

Anonymous 6:31 PM  

If I'd noticed this was a David Steinberg puzzle I'd have thrown in the towel on puzzle due to SW grid sooner. I quit doing NYT's Saturdays after one of his, and since I don't google there's a point where it's pointless to continue with Foozler's, Erle's and Omni's. Finished everything else in about 30 minutes which would be pretty good for a normal Friday.

michael 7:01 PM  

I hardly ever like Steinberg puzzles and this was no exception. Got stuck in the SW like others. Things I did not like -- hennaed, tizzies, foozler, omni, erle, degauss, tontine

And I really wanted cazador to work, especially with the z.

Anonymous 7:58 PM  

Apart from its suitability as puzle fodder, the concept of the TONTINE is fairly curious.

On the one hand, it's pretty well the polar opposite of the Prisoner's Dilemma, where everyone gets maximal benefit. Here, there's only one winner and everyone else lose. It's just a question of the last man standing.

One the second hand, it demands careful choice in selection of co-conspirators. Obviously, for one so inclined, it's pure temptation to eliminate the field by any means at hand.

On the third hand (which on my watch is the second hand), if the winner wins by natural attrition and not by other less savoury means, there's a good possibility this will happen when many anatomical parts have sagged, seized up, fallen out or become irreversibly creaky. At which point some young Anna Nicole wannabe saunters up, invests a little time, and walks away with the loot.

Interesting concept.

Anonymous 8:24 PM  

Spent far too much time trying to remember the names of the three wise men...


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Anonymous 7:37 AM  

Anyone in the room speak Tagalog?

Malsdemare 11:44 AM  

I did about half of this on Friday and came back on Saturday to finish it. I had dONTdie for the life insurance plan and hated letting it go, though I love TONTINE, a much more fiendish plan. Saw DEGAUSS, but wouldn't believe it, misspelled MONTERO. Knew PRENAME from genealogy, but had aTLi for 40 down. I got a lot of stuff that others struggled with and then blew up with the eezzies. DNF here but it was a good workout.

Unknown 12:59 PM  

DEGAUSS was familiar to me, so no problem there, but I'll join the chorus in saying that FOOZLER and especially TONTINE were real groaners. (If I were a betting man, I'd wager that Mr. Steinberg wasn't intimately familiar with TONTINE either, but having backed into it during the construction, googled and found it.) Afterwards I googled ERLE C. Kenton and was amused to find that one of his movies was MEXICALI Rose.

Maruchka 3:38 PM  

@lLeapfinger - Thanks. I agree that P. Sellers is strangely and wonderfully lovable (moggy, anyone?). P. Cook's smarmy no-goodnik is so sick-making, yet so funny. I think he took greater risk.

Across the Pond the Prenames grow, row by row...

Z 6:54 PM  

@sanfranman59 - What, no final report? We may have to cut your pay in half.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Clues very difficult, but not clever-difficult.


Syukur ALHAMDULILLAH hal yang tidak pernah terbayankan dan tidak pernah terpikirkan kalau saya bisa seperti ini,mungkin dulu saya adalah orang yang paling termiskin didunia,karna pekerjaan saya cuma pemulun dan pendapatan saya tidak bisa mengcukupi kebutuhan keluarga saya dan suatu saat kami kumpul baren sesama pemulun dan ada teman saya yg berkata,ada dukun yang bisa menembus semua nomor yg namanya MBAH KABOIRENG dan saya meminta nomor MBAH KABOIRENG pada teman saya,dan tanpa banyak pikir saya langsun menghubungi MBAH KABOIRENG dan alhamdulillah dgn senang hati MBAH KABOIRENG ingin membantu saya asalkan saya bisa memenuhi pendaftaran untuk masuk member,dan saya dibantu dalam 5x putaran dan alhamdulillah itu semuanya benar benar terbukti tembus,saya sangat berterimah kasih banyak kepada MBAH KABOIRENG berkat bantuan beliau,sekaran saya sdh mau membuka usaha untuk masa depan kami dan sankin senannya saya tidak bisa mengunkapkan dengan kata kata,bagi anda yang ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH KABOIRENG di 0823~2221~2111 MBAH KABOIRENG memang para normal yg paling terhebat dan tidak seperti para normal yg lainnya yg kerjanya cuma bisa menguras uang orang,jika ada yang memakai atau mengambil pesan ini tanpa ada nama MBAH KABOIRENG dan nomor beliau itu cuma penipuan dan itu cuma palsu,,ingat kesempatan tidak datang untuk kedua kalinya. KLIK TOGEL JITU DISINI

Syukur ALHAMDULILLAH hal yang tidak pernah terbayankan dan tidak pernah terpikirkan kalau saya bisa seperti ini,mungkin dulu saya adalah orang yang paling termiskin didunia,karna pekerjaan saya cuma pemulun dan pendapatan saya tidak bisa mengcukupi kebutuhan keluarga saya dan suatu saat kami kumpul baren sesama pemulun dan ada teman saya yg berkata,ada dukun yang bisa menembus semua nomor yg namanya MBAH KABOIRENG dan saya meminta nomor MBAH KABOIRENG pada teman saya,dan tanpa banyak pikir saya langsun menghubungi MBAH KABOIRENG dan alhamdulillah dgn senang hati MBAH KABOIRENG ingin membantu saya asalkan saya bisa memenuhi pendaftaran untuk masuk member,dan saya dibantu dalam 5x putaran dan alhamdulillah itu semuanya benar benar terbukti tembus,saya sangat berterimah kasih banyak kepada MBAH KABOIRENG berkat bantuan beliau,sekaran saya sdh mau membuka usaha untuk masa depan kami dan sankin senannya saya tidak bisa mengunkapkan dengan kata kata,bagi anda yang ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH KABOIRENG di 0823~2221~2111 MBAH KABOIRENG memang para normal yg paling terhebat dan tidak seperti para normal yg lainnya yg kerjanya cuma bisa menguras uang orang,jika ada yang memakai atau mengambil pesan ini tanpa ada nama MBAH KABOIRENG dan nomor beliau itu cuma penipuan dan itu cuma palsu,,ingat kesempatan tidak datang untuk kedua kalinya. KLIK TOGEL JITU DISINI

spacecraft 11:58 AM  

This was one of my bitterest disappointments since starting to PUZZLEOUT the NYTXW. I leapt out of the NW, did the center Z's (I once met Ben GAZARRA), had a bit of trouble in the NE but soon aha!'d that BO___ was not the start of some last name but the PRENAME (ugh, never heard that term) of the "10" girl, then followed the AUNTIEMAME gimme into the SE.

Then came the (I think you meant this corner, OFL) SW. And I just. Could. Not. Get. It. Oh wait--I just now see: I misspelled Ben's name! I could have sworn it had one Z and two R's. Oh well, I never in a million years would have seen FOOZLER, a word I have never heard of in all my 74 (b'day yesterday!) years. Nor do I know anything about HENNAED, or FENNEL. If you're talking to me about a kitchen bulb, you are talking GARLIC. No other bulb, save the five-letter ONION, is worth mentioning.

I really wanted to nail this Steinberg with my ball PEEN, but came up short. FOOZLER, jeez, what a word. Ah well, better luck tomorrow.

ERLE who???

DMG 1:44 PM  

Staggered through a lot of this one, and ended with a bunch of empty spaces in the NE and SW, as well as a bunch of "Z's" I couldn't attach. Agree with all the comments on those obscurities!! Anyone else have booK jacket?

I remember TONTINE from an episode of Mash. Col. Potter and some comrades in WWI had acquired a bottle of brandy to be opened by the last survivor of the group. Potter was that man, and so opened the bottle and saluted the departed. No "life insurance" conotation there.

Don't know if @AliasZ visits Syndieville, but must say I was daZZled by his Zbility!

Only " words" today, so can't sit in on the game,

rain forest 2:06 PM  

COLANDER,RETREATS,USAUSA(ugh),EATS, right off, and really, it all went rather smoothly. DEGAUSS and TONTINE were gimmes, and then I kind of FOOZLED (?) in that whole Z section, putting in Z's when I wasn't sure, and it all worked out. We had NOB a couple days ago.
ERLE and PRENAMES went in en passant as it were.

I think some of the shepherds present at Christ's birth might have been wise.

A nice challenge.

Baccarat: 864 = 9 love the math
Monte: fold

Waxy in Montreal 6:02 PM  

Quite the puZZle. Strangely, I use PRENOM all the time for first name in French but have never seen the equivalent PRENAME in my mother tongue.

Have to agree with those finding the SW a huge challenge especially with the FOOZLER/FENNEL blocking the way, My Eeyore BRAYed (well, he's a donkey. isn't he?) whilst OMNI, PEEN and ERLE didn't help. Familiar with TONTINE only as the theme of the hilarious 1966 British comedy The Wrong Box starring Michael Caine, Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock and Dudley Moore, among others.

HOMERIC before SENECAN and BOLIVAR before PIZARRO didn't help either.

Hope they'll waive any minimum age requirements for entry into the Constructor's Hall of Fame because I think young Mr. Steinberg warrants a place there already.

OK, need to learn this Baccarat thing: 819 = 18 --> 9 which I assume is a bust?

Dirigonzo 7:31 PM  

When I saw the constructor's name I was determined I would finish the puzzle no matter what, and I'm proud to say that I did - after a fashion. I was totally stuck in the SW with Eeyore heaving a "sigh" (after "bray" came out)and "garlic" as my bulb and nothing else when I decided to take a break and mow the lawn. When I came back to the puzzle something gave me MOPE for the Eeyore clue and that was all I need to piece the whole corner together, although FOOZLER was a total unknown. DIONE was in a puzzle not too long ago so that was a help. Very satisfying - thank you, young David Steinberg.

@spacy - a belated happy birthday and many happy returns!

340 gives me seven, so I think I lose?

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Yawn. Zzzzzz

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

: p Bronx cheer!

Anonymous 7:58 PM  

Yo' what the what, dude!

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