Broadway inspector / SAT 7-5-14 / Old Pokemon platform / Farm painter 1921 / Part of Roman empire in modern-day NE France / Greek city where Paul preached / Magister Ludi writer / Neckwear slider

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Theodore BIKEL (13D: Theodore of "The African Queen") —
Theodore Meir Bikel (born 2 May 1924) is an Austrian-American actor, folk singer, musician, and composer. He made his film debut in The African Queen (1951) and was nominated for an Academy awardfor his supporting role as Sheriff Max Muller in The Defiant Ones (1958).
Bikel is President of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America and was president of Actors' Equity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Partners for Progressive Israel, where he also lectures. His autobiography, Theo, was published in 1995. (wikipedia)
• • •

I have to give this grid credit—considering how low the word count is (62), the fill is quite strong. But I didn't enjoy solving this one, and rarely enjoy puzzles that venture into super-low word count territory. The cluing today seemed both brutal and dull, with ordinary fill (e.g. MIRO, HESSE) clued in ridiculously unidentifiable ways, or clued very vaguely. There was no point where I thought "ooh, good clue" and only one point at which I thought "ooh, good answer": BIKER CHICK (25D: Woman in a leather jacket, maybe) (though it's worth noting that if you google image search "biker chick," you don't see many leather jackets, or non-leather jackets, or clothing period). Actually, I like GENDER BIAS too, though I don't really like the clue (9D: Male issue?), largely because the clue itself is gender-biased. Not that men don't often have that issue—there's just something irritatingly ingratiating about that clue, as if it should be followed by "amirite, ladies!? [wink]." FAKE IDS over DIVE BAR is, in retrospect, a lovely little juxtaposition. Actually, you can throw JIM BEAM into the equation too (27A: Big brand from Clermont, Ky)—a perfect triple stack for a BIKER CHICK to drive through. But I think I just don't enjoy the challenge in a challenging puzzle coming from the white spaces being so open that I can't get any footholds, and then finding out that the thing that was holding me back was SCARF RING (wtffffff?) or GEAR OIL or GARDENA or BIKEL or some other thing I've barely or never heard of.

I killed myself today in a couple of places, most notably at 29D: Dot preceder, where I wrote in SITE NAME, and so much of it was confirmed that I left it in for far, far too long. That one, dumb error kept me from really opening up the middle for a good long time. I also had SGT where NCO was supposed to go, and YOUR HEAD (and then ONE'S HEAD) where COOL HEAD was supposed to go. Table-turner up there was finally seeing RAN IN (6D: Took for booking)—little phrase, big difference-maker. Struggled to make much headway in the SE until I stuck the -ICK down into it. Then it rolled over pretty readily (before that, it was SALLE and SUN GOD and a whole lotta nothing).

Puzzle felt like three puzzles—the NE-to-SW middle part, and then the two fat and isolated corners. That's another feature I find off-putting in puzzles: hyper-segmentation. There's just that one little square's worth of passage into either of the corners, so you have very little opportunity to build off of stuff you've already got. This is all fair, but it makes the experience less enjoyable for me. Still, as I say, the grid quality is truly remarkable.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


wreck 12:13 AM  

Rex really hit this review out of the park! I think I preferred David's past puzzles that relied too heavily on proper names and rappers. The middle of the puzzle was solid, but I really struggled in the corners. Maybe it was that my mind was a little addled after a few holiday pops - but this wasn't much fun.

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

I found this puzzle very satisfying to solve, not outrageously difficult, and full of fresh material. Given the large number of long and longish words, there were only two that were unfamiliar, BOMBE and OVIFORM, but both were fairly easy to figure out. Perfect Saturday puzzle for me.

Casco Kid 12:30 AM  

Well. Five googles. Seven cheats, all in the SE where my only point of entry was the sure-fire, can't-fail, all-time most famous Biblicsl verb there is: begaT, which begat deklerk, which gave me the early 20th C painter dega which gave me date____ for the outing. Ok, dega is spelled wrong, and I knew it, but something is better than nothing if only to kick the gray cells into gear.

BTW, you'll find CANST all over in Shakespeare. Save for some Bible only words like begat, Is Biblical the best clue when we mean King James era English, after all?

3 googles in ithe rest of the puz: STROM, JIMBEAM, and PERES, which were credible points of entry, simply beyond my ken. With them, the rest was gettable. But the SE was hopeless, even with a google for MIRO knocking out deklerk and forcing MANDELA (how fitting) which cleared begaT.

chefwen 12:36 AM  

BOMBE was about the only thing I WAS sure of. After yesterdays stroll in the park with Mr. Berry I knew we were going to pay the price today, and pay it we did! After Googling whatever was Googleable, which wasn't much, we got it about 7/8th done, when I decided that we had wasted enough time and tossed in the proverbial towel.

Looking forward to tomorrow. A nice long Elizabeth Gorski would be great. We will see.

SenorLynn 12:36 AM  

Pah, I mean Bah. . .
I chewed on this one for 1:15 , had to google Theo BIKEL & Shimon PERES just to get a toehold in those corners.
Had BINGEate and Adlai for STROM slow me down.
What is DIVEBAR? A dive is (usu) a bar, no?
I could have a SCARFRING hit me in the mouth, & I still wouldn't know it.
GEAROIL & BADAREAS=green paint.
I did like minor doc's & male issue clues.
I guess it's as hard as a Sat should be.

jae 2:23 AM  

Tough Sat. for me too.  NW was last to fall.  Putting in SCARF finally opened it up.  

I was sure ALSATIA had a C in it somewhere.

Had SADAT before PERES only off by 16 years.

Had GALa before GALE.

A goodly amount of zip...BIKER CHICK tops the list...and lotsa crunch,  what a difference a day makes.  Liked it!

bad hair day 4:16 AM  


Dan 7:08 AM  

I had DINgS for DINKS, which seemed just as plausible crossing Mr. Natick there...

Danp 7:24 AM  

BIKERCHICK, GAMEBOY and GENDERBIAS also make a nice vertical stack.

Jim Walker 7:33 AM  

Either I am getting younger or Mr Steinberg is rapidly aging. 30 minutes for a no-cheat Saturday is a record here. Liked it more than Rex but no aha moments at all. Had Anaheim for GARDENA cuz of Knotts Berry Farm. Used to go there as a kid before it was a theme park. Don't even know if it is still there.

RAD2626 7:42 AM  

Very hard. SE fell first and then the middle thanks to BIKERCHICK and JIM BEAM but all I had in NW was EATS, DDS ,and INGE which made for lots of staring. FRITOS guess did not help much either. Finally had to Google TOLERANCE which led to a cheating 1:13.

Hard but fair with lots of clever stuff.

Muscato 7:58 AM  

For once I disliked a puzzle almost as much as Rex; this just seemed somehow joyless, despite the BOMBEs and FAKEIDs, normally such harbingers of joy, however temporary.

On the other hand, it's always interesting to be reminding of things such as STROM once being thought presidential material. Times change, often for the better...

r.alphbunker 8:03 AM  

If, before I began the puzzle, I had been shown the following four word pairs and asked which pair best fits the clues {Producer of cheap shots?} and {Broadway inspector} I am sure I would have chosen the correct one.


DI[K]EBAR (sorry)



Unfortunately, I got the correct answer on the fourth try.

I will be a better solver when I can reliably do this sort of alphabet run at the end of a long puzzle.

Until then, an alphabet runter has been added

Curiously three of my four guesses were roman numerals

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

bad hair day said...

In volleyball, a dink is a gentle tap that just clears the net. It is especially effective when the other team is expecting a smash.

Mohair Sam 8:31 AM  

We found the puzzle easy-medium today, otherwise it's that rare day when we agree with @Rex verily - especially his GENDERBIAS comments. I had tENDERnesS there, btw, until my wife insisted on JIMBEAM (no, not for breakfast) and we had to rethink. Only real holdup in the puzzle for us.

That's two Steinberg's in a row that we've completed, certainly a record.

Nothing else to say because Rex nailed it.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one, particularly his explanation of what's wrong with GENDERBIAS.

Not a terribly hard Saturday for me, but just kind of annoying because of the cluing.

Susierah 8:48 AM  

I was all excited and proud that I finished this!!! And in 46 minutes. A big deal on a Saturday. Then I came here and realized I had a dnf. Dings for dinks, thinking of a car smash up, and Bigel just as believable as Bikel. I thought it was a satisfying solve, especially that I stuck with it without googling.

Glimmerglass 8:56 AM  

Very hard for me. I finished in about an hour and a half -- about as much as I usually spend on a tough puzzle. I got no sure answers in the NW or SE. Then I got going in the SW and rolled up to the NE, where at the end I bombed with BOMBE. I had BOssE, sANTI (seemed reasonable) and sITEL (who?). Later the other two corners finally and satisfyingly fell correctly. I liked the puzzle because 1) it was hard and 2) I got it right except for two letter.

Casco Kid 9:11 AM  

@mohair Sam @glimmerglass @Susierah what were your points of entry in the SE? Any false steps? It was particularly treacherous here.

Susan McConnell 9:13 AM  

Agree with Rex, except for BIKEL, who is one of those "I knew it right away but have no idea why" kind of people.

Found the puzzle hard but not overly so. Have to say that while it may be well-constructed in terms of number of words, etc., its entertainment/pleasure value was very low for me.

joho 9:23 AM  

I join @Dan and @Susierah with one wrong letter at DINgS. BIKEL smickel!

I am still proud of myself for getting all the rest. And in the end I marveled at David's ability to put this together ... quite a construction feat!

chefbea 9:25 AM  

Too tough for me DNF. Never made a bombe but I love Miro.

Don't like's scotch for me. Speaking of which..what ever happened to the guy who drank scotch and his avatar was a glass filled with scotch? was it Tinbini??

joho 9:34 AM  

I just looked up DING and read "To hit or strike: was dinged on the head by a ball." Seems to me that either G or K is the correct answer there which makes that cross rather unfortunate.

Robso 9:40 AM  

As a former boy scout, I can salute "scarf ring." But as a speaker of English, I have no respect for "dinks" as an answer to "hardly smash hits," especially when crossed with "Bikel" (????). I had "dings." Theodore Bigel? Why not.

imfromjersey 9:43 AM  

I guess I got lucky as I finished in 20 minutes with no Googles. Knew Bikel, my parents had an album of him singing folk songs in ther collection (vinyl).
Had I NAILED IT before I CALLED IT, SADAT before PERES, and took forever to see BOMBE. I think vague cluing is perfectly fair for a Saturday. Scarf Ring just looks wrong though. Overall, I enjoyed the puzzle.

Conrad 9:47 AM  

@Casco, like @Rex the -ICK was my entry into the SE, along with a lucky guess on BAH. Then I Googled MIRO and got the HOT part of 32D. Really wanted shalT for the Biblical verb, but that didn't work because of the Mh factor. So settled for CANST, which gave me the incorrect CUddle at 36D, but that was enough to give me SUNGOD at I was off to the races.

Oldactor 10:04 AM  

Bikel was my first entry. When I joined Actors Equity he led the orientation for the new members. I remember he said that producer David Merrick, who was considered an evil tyrant, and Abe Lincoln had a lot in common. We were shocked. Then he added that both would be shot by an actor.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

After a couple years of steady crosswording, I have finally solved a Saturday puzzle (without lookups or errors) that Rex rated Challenging!

On the first pass I put down MANTIS and BIKEL, slowly worked through the center to the SW, figured out the SE from BIKERCHICK and ARSONIST, and finally finished the NW after letting go of yourHEAD, my very first answer. I am elated and amazed!

Considering that less than a hundred years ago, women couldn’t vote in the US, and in other parts of the world still can’t legally drive without a man in the car, I think the gender bias thing has always tended to tilt towards the male side, guys.


Benko 10:05 AM  

Toughest NYT in a while, I think. Cluing was tough, the division between the three parts of the grid was tough, the DINKS/BIKEL crossing was tough. Probably a lot of DNFs today. Personally, I like this kind of challenge sometimes because it helps me to sharpen up my skills. But I can see why some didn't like it.
@Robso: I also thought of my Scouts scarf ring, which helped me out there.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:06 AM  

Nice Saturday puzzle; Medium for me.

Two write-overs: With Rex, 2 D, YOUR HEAD before COOL . . ; 38 D, Wrong Foreign Language, SALON before SALLE.

Casco Kid 10:08 AM  

@conrad I also had ICK, but that wasn't really an entry, not that I didn't try to force ItoLdyouso, which was too long by 1. I agree that MIRO was the only unambiguous point of entry as deklerk had 50% chance of being wrong. Part of the game is finding that singular entry rather than guessing, however credibly.

NCA President 10:13 AM  

Not. A. Steinberg. Fan. At. All.

I say this every single time I do one of these puzzles, but it feels like, to me, he just goes through a thesaurus or a dictionary and picks out words that no one actually uses e.g., SCARFRING, KNEEPANTS, ALSATIA (isn't this actually Alsace?), and BOMBE. Not that any of these wouldn't show up in puzzles elsewhere, but there is some kind of balance missing.

Check out BEQ puzzles...he uses words like these too, but somehow the experience is 1000 times better.

I keep bringing this up about DS puzzles because I experience this sensation every. single. time. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but I believe there has been only one of his puzzles that I've done where I didn't become ridiculously frustrated, then check out who created the puzzle, and then go, "Ah, so. Steinbergian."

He obviously has a unique style, and maybe that is what I am reacting to. But honestly, whether it be the cluing or the answers themselves, I find them way too frustrating to enjoy. For me, my favorite puzzles are the ones where I wrestle with them for a while and end up with a win or a draw and feel like I've had a really good workout. The other end of the spectrum isn't that they are too easy, it's puzzles like this that are too hard for their own good. I finish and I'm not only frustrated (...can you tell?) but exhausted.

I suppose Will (and others) have a love affair with this constructor because of his age, but someone should help him along with balance. Add in your thesaurus answers, but balance it out with a reasonable clue elsewhere. There is no virtue in being difficult/impossible for its own sake.

It should be like a dance between solver and constructor, NOT a solo. You give here, you take there. Ebb and flow. Balance.


jberg 10:56 AM  

I solved this one with no errors, but you'll have to take my word for it. If I showed you my grid, all you'd see in the NW would be a mass of black where I wrote over, wrote over, and wrote over again. Deprived, then Bereaved, before STRAPPED; enduRANCE before TOLERANCE; crisps and then trixes (ugh) before FRITOS; 'boa string' (??) before SCARF RING (which somehow sounds like kinky sex to me); and much more.

Further down, I fell for the obvious 'Harry' before STROM (4 significant candidates, 3 of them with 5-letter first names). Also CUddle before CURL UP, which until I got MANDELA made me thing GARDENA (really?) was a rebus for Pasadena. Maybe he meant this for the LA Times, where solvers might be expected to know this place.

Hint for those struggling with 34A -- a 4-letter painter is very likely to be either MIRO or Dali, so just try a few courses. That's what really gave me the SW, with first ARSONIST and then goeST (oops!)

Yeah, GEAR OIL. NO MERCY in this puzzle.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Loved it.

Joseph Welling 10:58 AM  

ELSE is not a command.

Joseph Welling 11:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moly Shu 11:04 AM  

Challenging DNF at BOMBE/BIKEL, just gave up. Got going at NORTE/NOMERCY/CORINTH and moved NE until the top. Begin before PERES, the different HEADs before COOL.

@Casco, my SE went ICK (which didn't help) then BAH. That got me HOTDATES and ARSONIST. Had to be some kind of GOD, and finally saw BINGEDON and that was it. Before all that tried doest, begat, and CANST, but discarded them all, and tried elsewhere.

I'm going to agree with the ultimately frustrating vibe. There were fleeting moments where I began to enjoy it, but too many " oh, that's a poor clue" for me.

Susierah 11:07 AM  

@cascokid. About the se corner. Being from middle georgia, biker chick was one of my first entries, along with arsonist. Then k something pants. I know Sadat (wrong one today) and Mandela for peace prize winners. Then struggled around " I something it" until I got it. Really liked dive bar and fake id. Is there a pattern here?

Moly Shu 11:09 AM  

Almost forgot, had ignoRANCE before TOLERANCE, and thought "that'd be really cool if she said that, but it can't be correct, can it?"

Gill I. P. 11:10 AM  

There are two things I really want to accomplish before I depart from this earth. One is to finish a David Steinberg puzzle without Google and the other is to be able to open up a brand new box of kleenex and grab just ONE little piece of tissue instead of the 20 that pop out unwanted.
I agree with @Rex and his take on the cluing. The answers themselves were great and I'm grateful for no unspellable rappers but I, too, wanted an AHA and all I got was a BAH.
Tons of mistakes:
no shame/ NO MERCY
coveralls/KNEE PANTS
I actually considered BIKER BITCH since we're getting all 21st century but glad is was the CHICK who won out.
I'll keep tryin David - maybe one day my wish will come true.
@Maruchka[tini] from yesterday:
I sent a smile your way last night. The wonderful fun family sitting next to us during the festive fireworks display had a huge container of pina coladas in a jug marked GATORADE....! They insisted on sharing with us.
@Leapy: Ha! I re-read my post....If you lend me some hyphens, I'll make you a martini!

Z 11:14 AM  

So much to love in the middle puzzle, but the corner puzzles gave me fits. I still don't know what CEN has to do with 800's (unless it is the 9th CENtury - in which case yuck, yuck, YUCK).

Four letter artist - ERTE! A bit of illumination is one CANDLE! SGTs are drill experts! RUNNING ON! Maybe OLGA Korbut was in Young Frankenstein! Who knew that Alsace was ALSATIA back in the day. I wonder if AGRICOLA was ever the governor there. Yeah, I generally don't like mini-puzzle grids for exactly the reason Rex says; The wonderful middle gives the solver no access into the corners.

As for GENDER BIAS, don't confuse it with sexism. Sexism is the reason "men's " work generally earn more money than "women's" work. GENDER BIAS is when the same behavior is "leadership skills" in men and "bossiness" in women. Another way to think of it is that BIAS is what individuals do/have (often unconsciously) and "-isms" are the systemic results of those biases. It's a useful distinction to remember.

Master Melvin 11:16 AM  

I'm not going to bother looking it up, but I think the Roman province was named ALSATIA, a region now known as Alsace.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I grew up in Gardena and never once heard it called "Berryland." It once was called "Strawberry Park" but that's about as close as it got. As a result, I tried Anaheim at first as well, and was shocked when my home town showed up as the solution!

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Excellent tough Saturday, nothing to complain about. I love it when my first pass seems hopeless, but little by little I get it done.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Loved this one although it was crazy challenging. All I could think of at first was Begin and then Rabin, but neither one worked.

Also briefly wanted buNtS for DINKS.

But hey, how about BADAREA? Anyone remember "Repo Man"? "Kid,you want to make ten bucks? We gotta get my wife's care out of the BADAREA."


Fred Romagnolo 11:23 AM  

@NCA pres pretty much spells out my reaction to this guy's (DS) clueing. In the past, I called him a name, and had to apologize for doing so. I stick to the apology but @NCA Pres has a classy way of saying the same thing. @Casco: for me it was SALLE and SUN GOD. @Conrad: me too for cuddle. I had Lutetia (ancient Paris) before ALSATIA. I knew BIKEL, being an old movies fan, but still question DINKS. I have never heard anyone say DIVE BAR, instead of just dive, that's made-up green paint. I had to go to my almanac for the Peace Prizes, how I admire anyone who has them all in his (her) head! GEAR OIL is another green painter; they're worse than naticks. I completed the middle before (long before) the corners.

r.alphbunker 11:31 AM  

CEN could have been clued runt-style as {Middle of last century?}

Had idcarDS instead of FAKEIDS for a while.

@Joseph Welling

I agree that {Computer programming word} would be a better clue for ELSE. However, anyone who has written a compiler will see a GOTO lurking in every ELSE statement. Had caSE for a while which could be justified in the same way.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Strom was James Strom Thurmans middle name.

Numinous 11:38 AM  

When I opened this one and saw David Steinberg's name, I said to myself, "Oh, (really bad word)!" I wasn't wrong.I had to google for PERES, MANDELA and JIM BEAM.
EATS, BIKEL and ARSONIST were the first entries. Still a DNF. I got everything but DIVEBAR.

As I recall from my Boy Scout days it was called a neckerchief slide. After my first year as a scout I never used one. I tied a trick knot that the senior scouts used that looked like a four square checkerboard because our neckerchiefs were half blue and half gold. I wasn't supposed to do that because it wasn't "uniform" but they told me if I figured it out I could use it. It took me days at summer camp to get it and the seniors were ticked when I did but a promise is a promise.

I have to agree with @Rex on this one, I just had very little pleasure solving it. COOL HEAD was my first thought for 2D but it took me forever to actually put it in. BIKER CHICK was the only answer that almost made me smile, almost but not quite.

Mohair Sam 11:40 AM  

@casco on SE question. Yes to "ICK" but gave us no toehold. SALLE a gimme for this four years of French guy, MIRO (a good guess by wife) gave me ARSONIST, and somehow she filled HOTDATES off the "O". Hence SE quickly fell

As I've said before, you have no idea how much easier the puzzle is when you solve with two.

Fred Romagnolo 11:41 AM  

For yesterday's @Anon 9:06: thanks for the honorific Sig. I appreciate it.

Andrew Heinegg 11:51 AM  

Unfortunately for me, I find Mr. Steinberg's efforts both excruciatingly difficult and joyless. One should be careful about carping about a puzzle that you did not solve without a number of peeks but, in general, I find the cluing for his puzzles to be obtuse rather than clever and his answers to be forgettable. E.g., yes, I remember Strom Thurmond's running for president in 1948 because he gave a lecture at the college I was attending. I believe they had him come and speak at a northeastern college to make a statement to the effect of: 'we let both sides of the story be told'. The mini biography promoting the speech mentioned the run for the presidency. But, this answer is, to me, an illustration of the difference between trivia and minutia, this answer being minutia.

AliasZ 11:53 AM  

These were the best three David Steinberg runtpuzzles in recent memory. My newly-acquired expertise in solving undersized puzzles by @M&A, @LMS, et al. helped me get three toeholds in this one and then went to work on all three of them.

The SE runtpuz came easiest. The only entry I didn't get: how or why does one Bing on anything? I could see Googled on, but BINGED ON?

In the NW puzzle SCARFRING was unknown to me as an actual haberdashery item, although it was easy enough to infer. Luckily my COOLHEAD prevailed and I managed SCARFRING this one down without choking on it.

I also learned that ALSATIA in was the name of a London neighborhood in the 15th-17th centuries that was sanctuary for prison escapees, and refuge for the perpetrators of every grade of crime, debauchery and offense against the laws. Sort of like modern-day Washington, DC.

The oblong runtpuz with 45° tilt to the right in the center was the coolest of the three. It was the BOMBE. Although, DERBIAS and BIKERCH were new to me, and GEAROIL had a touch of green paint smeared all over it, it was a squeaky-clean, pleasant runtpuz chuck full of well-clued, fresh entries.

I recently discovered a DIVEBAR in my neighborhood where they do not ask for a FAKEID. It specializes in showing on all large flat-screen TV's all the Oscar-nominated dives of the current FIFA World Cup tournament.

But seriously folks, it would be high time to add one more law to Margaret Farrar's time-tested rules of modern crossword construction: NO ISOLATED SECTIONS THAT ARE CONNECTED TO EACH OTHER BY LESS THAN THREE ENTRIES.

How about it, Will Shortz?

I would like to finish with two lesser-known BOLEROS:

Spanish Dances for Piano Duet Op. 12, No. 5 by Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925) and Soirée dans Grenade, second movement of Estampes by Claude Debussy.

Enjoy your weekend.

Numinous 11:56 AM  

@Gill, I beat you. Just before starting this puzzle I opened a box of Kleenex™ and extracted a single tissue. No luck on the puzzle though.

@Susierah, sounds like you live "just down the street" from me. I'm up near Atlanta.

@Casco, CANST was my first thought for 36A. SALLE fell readily and that gave me SUN GOD. Googling MANDELA verified CANST for me.

Z 12:21 PM  

The youngish not too thin woman in front of me at the ball game had jumbo nachos, a purple daiquiri, a sausage, a giant bag of cotton candy, and, in the late innings, a large Mountain Dew to wash it all down. I believe this to be an example of SCARFRING.

mathguy 12:29 PM  

I feel good about the puzzle because it was hard and I was able to get it without help. The SE was the hardest for me. I stared at it for a long time until CELLULOSE popped into my head. I'm a little annoyed at the clues for CEN and GARDENA, especially since I read here that a Gardena resident had never heard it called Berryland. If CEN is short for century, shouldn't the clue be "800's," using an apostrophe?

Questinia 12:32 PM  

Superb review by Rex.

I just *knew* it would be Steinberg today after Berryland yesterday.

Had DImE BAg before DIVE BAR for producer of cheap shots. What can I say? I make louche associations.
Had Obovate before OVIFORM. BIKEL was unknown to me but got it from the crosses. Had ones cool=> ones HEAD => COOL HEAD.

Many "alternate" answers possible because of vague cluing. Glad I don't solve in pen anymore.

Agree with @ Gill I.P. re BIKER bitch. Maybe beeyotch?

Lewis 1:09 PM  

For some reason, I'm usually on David's wavelength and today was no exception. Not that I didn't have to Google a few times, not that I wasn't Naticked at the corner of BOMBE and ELSE. I do like his cluing, and the puzzle just opens up in dribs here and swaths there.

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP): One other puzzle answer belongs with these three -- DRAFTEE, COOLHEAD, and RELATES. Which is it?

If you post the answer, just post the word's second letter so as not to give it away.

Mark 1:14 PM  

Very challenging but very enjoyable, over five sessions with brain-rests in between, and a few helpful pages from bing (i.e., some answers were BINGEDON). Struggles: would it be PERES or RABIN? Would it be STROM or the more obvious HARRY? Fun seeing a new clue for EATS. Complaint: MIRO occurs in more than his fair share of puzzles.

Masked and AnonymoUUs 2:02 PM  

First puz in recent memory, where just layin my eyepits on the grid scared the shineola outa me. Eventually figured out all three Steinberg runtz (good eye, there, AliasZ) out. Whatta construction! Hats off to the Kid.

How do U even construct a beast like this?!?! Do you just type a few churse BINGEDON-like entries into Crossworld Compiler, select the old "62 words or less" option, and then mash the "Create Masterpiece' button? And then come back, a few days later, when the timer goes "ding"? Different universe from M&A construction, dude.

But this here NYTPuz (along with that primo AliasZ comment) did inspire old M&A to cook. Sample on this meth, @BobK et al...

"Two Runtpuzs Are Better Than One"

Nick 2:04 PM  

The "SALLE / SUNGOD" and "BIKEL / DINKS" crosses were blatantly unfair and led to my only two errors. For the first one I had "HALLE / HUN GOD" (if you don't speak French, it's reasonable to assume that 'halle' means 'hall', and sure, maybe the Huns had gods and one of them was Apollo); for the second one I had "BIGEL / DINGS" because nobody knows who the hell Bikel is and 'ding' is just as valid as 'dink' in that context.

Kathryn 2:16 PM  

I loved this puzzle--it was my best Saturday in a long time! Perhaps it was residual confidence after an easy Friday. Only two googles: BIKEL and MIRO. I loved many of the fun and interesting answers and the lack of garbage fill. Despite being a SoCal girl, I got to _A_DENA before I could figure out GARDENA, so I can only imagine how horrific that one was for people who don't live in this area.

My suggested clue for DINKS (which i guessed when I got it down to D_NKS) would have been along the lines of "childless working couples" (Dual Income No Kids = DINK).

Leapfinger 2:39 PM  

Shoot. Had I not been, um, ditzing around all morning, I'd have gotten DIMEBAG in before @Questinia.

Seems I was the anti@Z on this solve: found the corner triangles easier than Diagon Alley. But there's a gold star for the BIAS vs sexism distinction: individual bias cuts, systemic sexism bludgeons. Well put,@Z.

@Gilly, better fix a pitcher of tinis. I have for you a slew of hyphens, lowphens, moorphens and fenphens. Don't forget to chill them glasses. No, wait! I may decide I want to stay piqued by the image of you running on short legs, like a peke.

@Fred Roma, prego! That was me, in mufti.

@Alias, as usual, @least one laugh per paragraugh, esp sly on the DIVEBAR. Runts on steroids, though.

What else? Let's see if I can get some of that shrapnel out of my brain...

NW fell pretty smoothly, only had to reorganize my [Drill specialists], and remember to think like DS.

I still have some BIKEL on vinyl from my folkie days, so Diagon Alley had BOMBE-BIKEL up top, associated with a sort-edit-ELSE sequence. No fitting in SERAPH. The bottom earned a quick HESSE, though I read it as "The Glass Bead Game", and I would have preferred STROMboli, either the food or the volcano.

The SE took a fair amount of triangulation, to see what would fit with either DALI or MIRO, and I'm just glad I didn't think of ERTE, though the title seems unlikely for him. I had enough trouble with ROT up top, not to mention my great but temporary pleasure at entering PLUSFOURS, 47A. Then the rabid recycler in me thought of SECONDUSE 45A. I sure CALLED IT, didn't I?

Sequence is all; by the time SALLE and Ms Check saw me through the SE, the blood-loss was appreciable, and not even the BIKERCHICK could resuscitate me to deal with the center. Couldn't exorcise that DIMEBAG, thought of only racehorses in Kentucky, and would never think of OILing only a single 'tooth' on a GEAR. Never heard of JAVERT, and don't care.

So. Finished with red flags of shame, revealing three words.

I'm now in the market for a praying MANTIS to put in young David's cereal bowl.

okanaganer 2:42 PM  

Agree with @Joseph Welling's nit pick; that ELSE is not a command. It is part of a "control structure" which determines which commands to execute: IF (this is true) THEN (do these commands) ELSE (do these commands).

I agree this was a satisfyingly tough puzzle, marred by that BIKEL / DINKS area. For quite a while I had DENTS (you know, fender-bender vs big crash) but just in time decided OVEFORM couldn't be correct. Then I had DINTS (plausible) but BITEL sounded wrong. So I finished with the BIGEL/DINGS Natick.

LaneB 2:44 PM  

Knew it would be a DNF as soon as I saw the STeinberg name coupled with the shape of the grid. So I was pleased to slog thru the lower 2/3with a bit of google help. However I came accrpper in both the NE and NW spacing on GEAROIL and thinking of teth and gums (ginge..?), thereby making AVAIL,OVIFORM and MANTIS (clever clue!) even more impossible. Likewise didn't know ALSATIA and PERES (should have googled here) notwithstanding filling EATS and DDS. PROTON escaped me, too. Not awful for a "challenging" Saturday.

DigitalDan 3:06 PM  

I was a scout, too, but that neckware slider? It was, and still is, called a neckerchief slide. I suppose there are scarf rings, too, but in a different part of the fashion world, no doubt. Dewey beats Truman? No help.

Arlene 3:10 PM  

I Googled. I finished. It took a while, too.
But for Saturday, that's still a good outcome.

I had no idea Strom Thurmond ran in the 1948 election. So I learned something too.

mac 3:19 PM  

Very challenging! Wanted so much to put Edsel somewhere in 47A, and no HEART for no MERCY.

Loved the workout. Mantis at 12D was very cute.

Mette 3:44 PM  

Had to Google for PERES, MANDELA, TOLERANCE, BIKEL and JIMBEAM. Well, Maker's Mark and Jack Daniels did not fit. Wanted the woman in leather to be a dominatrix, which led to x-ray ---TS for outmoded clothing, which actually could have been zoot suits. Tried bolo something for SCARFRING. Got those messes cleaned up, but had a bunch of white space left in the NE.
Agree with @Rex that the grid is maddening. Looking at the completed puzzle, it falls into place, but the cluing made it impossible for me.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:55 PM  

@M&A - Wow!

Numinous 4:27 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, I have to agree.
@M&A, what Bob Kerfuffle said.

M and Aper 4:40 PM  

Boys... boys...
I gotta admit, I saw another puz, many moons ago, that did something "somewhat" similar...

But, mucho thanx, anyhoo.


Lewis 4:41 PM  


What DRAFTEE, COOLHEAD, and RELATES have in common is that the last letter comes immediately after the first letter in the alphabet. The only other answer to do this is NCO.

@M&A -- You did it! You have more U's in the puzzle than all other vowels combined. U need a U-haul to move this puzzle. Clever execution, by the way...

Leapfinger 4:43 PM  


That was very 'through the looking-glass'. I think I met myself coming around the corner more than once.

Nebraska Doug 5:10 PM  

I didn't think I'd ever finish this one. But I plugged away on it, bit by bit, all day. Finally finished while watching the World Cup. Satisfying to finish a puzzle this difficult without an error or google.

Nebraska Doug 5:11 PM  

I didn't think I'd ever finish this one. But I plugged away on it, bit by bit, all day. Finally finished while watching the World Cup. Satisfying to finish a puzzle this difficult without an error or google.

Leapfinger 5:13 PM  

Steinberg clues do seem to be differ from other constructors'. Wondering whether WShortz doesn't edit them in his usual way.

Some residual marginalia:

CANST: One block over from cannery Row
SUNGOD: The final number in "Rehab: The Musical" [Apologies if too noir]
CORINTH: Temporarily unrecognized without his given name, Ian
PERES: Unfair conflation with Meres, Rosie Perez, Perez Hilton, others
TOLERANCE: Ability to portray Charlie Chan
There is no I in GARDENA

Hit a definite High Point when I finally figured out the 'deck-lurk' of whom @Casco was speaking. Oh, you Kid!


Craig 6:29 PM  

The GENDERBIAS clue reminded me too much of Mr. Steinberg's talk at ACPT on the Pre-Shortzian Crossword Project, where he related his science project in which he "proved" (ha!) that there are fewer female constructors in the modern era in the NYTimes because woman don't get into technology as much.

It was a terrible talk then, and I think that if it weren't for his awful delivery - and frankly most of us being too bored or stunned to challenge him, he'd have been laughed off the podium.

But for whatever reason, Will Shortz has a blind spot for this kid, and it's not good for the future of the NYTimes Crossword in my opinion.

CaseAceFos 7:00 PM  

Why, pray tell me, was just about everyone Thumping Theodore,of the African Queen, as if they were in a bit of a BIKEL for his having made an appearance in the puzzle?

Dirigonzo 7:00 PM  

I feel like the marathoner still limping along the route long after the ribbons have been awarded, the media have left and the course is deserted. I had to sit on the curb to get my bearings in the NW quadrant, where I discovered I had taken a couple of wrong turns so I had to go back over that whole section. Then, with the finish line in sight, I stumbled and fell in the NE, where BOMmE/mIKEL seemed completely reasonable. I would have quit much earlier but I hate to give up on a David Steinberg creation (even though the young whipper-snapper consistently kicks my a**).

sanfranman59 7:12 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 5:59, 6:02, 0.99, 45%, Medium
Tue 7:33, 8:33, 0.88, 17%, Easy
Wed 9:06, 9:31, 0.96, 42%, Medium
Thu no data
Fri 11:42, 21:03, 0.56, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest ratio of 235 Fridays)
Sat 29:31, 25:25, 1.16, 86%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:23, 3:55, 1.12, 88%, Challenging
Tue 5:00, 5:21, 0.93, 24%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:32, 5:58, 0.93, 31%, Easy-Medium
Thu no data
Fri 7:52, 13:03, 0.60, 1%, Easy (2nd lowest ratio of 235 Fridays)
Sat 20:46, 17:09, 1.21, 86%, Challenging

Anthony Cumia 7:25 PM  

I can't say anything nice, so

loren muse smith 7:43 PM  

I very rarely finish a Saturday but dispatched this one on the plane before takeoff. (I'm in Maine now.) Ok – I, too, had "ding," but still. At first I thought I would get nothing, but before I knew it, boom. Done. I have not one, but two SCARF RINGS in my jewelry box. I've heard KNEE PANTS (had to erase "zoot suits.") I've used the expression DIVE BAR. I got CANST off the T. I got CURL UP off the P. . . This was a reasonable grid in my opinion.

@NCA President I'm really glad you made it so that your reaction to David's puzzles is personal. You said –"For me, my favorite puzzles are the ones where I wrestle with them for a while and end up with a win or a draw and feel like I've had a really good workout." That was precisely my experience this morning. I had a great workout and was enormously pleased that I was able to finish with one error *and* finish quickly. And I'm not among the elite Saturday solvers here.

@Craig – "Will Shortz has a blind spot for this kid somehow. . ." A "blind spot" because you don't like his puzzles? I happen to like them and look forward to more. Oh, and I missed that talk at the ACPT, but I take my hat off to *anyone* (let alone a teenager) who has the gumption to speak to a group of people. Period. Public speaking takes practice and experience, and I'm happy to see David starting so young. I don't know what you hoped to accomplish by being so nasty about his talk. I'm a big weenie here and rarely confront anyone, but I sure wish you had taken a page out of @Anthony Cumia's book.

David – I really enjoyed the workout and thought the grid was terrific.

michael 8:16 PM  

The combination of David Steinberg and Saturday made me think I was really going to struggle. Much to my surprise I breezed through in one of my fastest Saturday times ever. And I was even more surprised to see Rex rate this challenging and to see the comments.

Very odd, because otherwise I'm not feeling particularly sharp today.

Anonymous 8:40 PM  


Dirigonzo 8:54 PM  

@loren muse smith - welcome to my home state, and I do hope you enjoy your stay. The weather should improve remarkably now that Hurricane Arthur has departed the area and I hope you get to enjoy some ideal Maine summer conditions, i.e., warm days and cool nights. Don't hesitate to contact me if you need some info on the local scene while you're here.

Sir Hillary 9:08 PM  

This puzzle was a fabulous Saturday workout. I get that DS's style is not for everyone, but I happen to like it.

And Craig, you embarrassed yourself with your post. Grow up, dude.

JPM 9:16 PM  

Hey @Craig I'm a constructer and I go to the ACPT, and if you were man enough to say what you said about David Steinberg to me I'd kick your sour grape eating ass.

JPM 9:21 PM  

Constructor, and I'd still kick your ass

r.alphbunker 10:36 PM  

Nobody commented on these answers:

ALLSORTS 3D {A little of everything}
ARENA 41A {___ rock}
BARTERS 25A {Eschews money, say}
BORERS 35D {Orchard menaces}
CASH 39D {___ crop}
DOMINOS 33D {Company with a game piece in its logo}
FILENAME 29D {Dot preceder}
INGA 7D {'Young Frankenstein' girl}
PHOTON 22A {Bit of illumination}
RATEDR 21D {Rather violent, perhaps}
ROLLINGON 17A {Continuing in its course}

Logo clues are usually tough for me and it took a while to get DOMINOS. Also was puzzled why anyone would eschew money.

@M and A
I either liked your latest runt or I didn't

David Fink 10:40 PM  

Blanked on everything for a good ten minutes. Dove in with draftee and plodded along. Held on to scout ring far too long. Chuckled when biker chick popped into my addled brain. Made my puzzle. Then there was dents for dinks. I'm 55 and still scratching my head over knee pants. He's kidding right? It's been a long time since I used a fake ID on a hot date in a dive bar. Laughing. Loved and despised this Saturday gem.

Anonymous 10:40 PM  

@JPM, you obviously have a well-developed streak of knight-in-shining-armor, but I think you're a bit off, Ain't no self-respecting ass will eat sour grapes.

Little David kicked mine today, but I still love him because he's fresh and inventive, and also because I know a bunch of people are going to say very bad words when they see his byline.

Plus, I find it hard to believe DS said he 'proved' anything of the kind, mainly because it's hard to say anything definite about causality. Anyway, you'd need (1)aggregated data for several years before and after the technology became popular to see any change or difference in trends; (2) individual-level data that captured previous experience, mentoring, and competition for time; (3) probably should look at equivalent data for submisions, to make sure there isn't a GENDER BIAS operating at that level.

Without that kind of info, there isn't much can be said about why constructors break down by sex as they do. And if David has it, he could possibly knock a dissertation out of it

BTW, does Bernice Gordon construct by hand?

Mohair Sam 10:58 PM  

@loren muse smith. I second your motion (emotion?) on the 7:43 post. Well said.

@DS - Your work is growing on me, keep 'em coming.

OISK 11:50 PM  

I got off to a very slow start, but finished, and was pleased to have done so. DS's puzzles have improved steadily; it was a pleasant surprise to see the almost complete absence of hip hop, pop, computer slang, and the one company name (Domino) was cutely clued. Very happy to see Theodore Bikel's name pop up. I own three of his folk song recordings, as well as a version of The King and I on which he sings the title role (and very well!) It is very pleasant, when you have stared at the puzzle for several minutes and filled in absolutely nothing, to suddenly find a foothold (SE for me this time) and walk through to the end. That was my experience this time. Well done, Mr. Steinberg!

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

I was pleased to see Theodore BIKEL in the grid, though I know him only from the biographical movie Cry Freedom.

Anonymous 5:45 AM  

I liked DIMEBAG, been watching old 'Sopranos' shows so seemed ok to rate it 'G'. Violence? Sure let the kids learn about life. Bada bing

Hartley70 6:56 AM  

Well I finished without googling but it took me 24 HOURS! What a bear. Loved it!

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Mohair Sam 6:36 PM  

@Hartley70. I nominate your post for one of the best ever here. Loved it!

Charles Flaster 10:49 PM  

Put this down with half filled in.Then completed Sunday. Now just picked up again and finished in 6 more minutes for a grand total of 42 minutes.
Very surprised to finish but very satisfied.
Loved 42 A and 47 A.
Great puzzle DS.

Randall Clark 11:17 PM  

Wow, I feel such a connection to Rex, because I also started with yOurHEAD, then tried onesHEAD, before finally finding COOLHEAD, after I figured PHOTON. (Had eLemenTS for 3 down "a little of everything" for a while, which messed me up) But unlike Rex, it took me an hour and 45 minutes to finally wrestle it down. There's nothing like the feeling of finally conquering a tough Saturday!

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Maruchka 11:26 AM  

Easy-Medium for me.

OK, 2 days late and a few dollars shorter, but - I'm liking DS more and more. Bad memory for dates meant one google apiece for peace prize winners and third party candidate (thought it was [Henry] Wallace, but that didn't fit. Did anyone remember [Strom] Thurmond?

Lightly inked DDS in 8D, then saw the 28A clue, switched and knocked out the NW fast. Liked GEAR OIL ARSONIST, NO MERCY clues the best.

Fireworks on the East River were fantastic this year. Hope yours were, too.

crossgeek 12:17 AM  

I was having trouble answering this. It was, as you have said, quite challenging. Of course, I would not be so hypocritical to say I did not get any help. Mordo have helped me quite a lot of times for this one. I was determined not to look at yours till I finish but I couldn't be patient enough! Haha!

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ecanarensis 1:15 PM  

@oldactor --(if you ever see this). I just finished rereading Haywood Hale Broun's "A Studied Madness," one of my favorite books & the only place I've really seen the name David Merrick. HHB mentions him several times, but neither the tyrant nor shot by an actor things. Great book. Interesting you had that interaction with Bikel (whom I've never heard of).

hated this puzzle, FWIW.

spacecraft 1:31 PM  

You see, David? You CAN build a perfectly decent grid without resorting to new pop culture like rappers and tech names. And such a grid, I can solve! ICALLEDIT!

Challenging to be sure, with long periods of frustrated thought punctuated by short bursts of "Well, let's try this...okay, that works." Had to put it down several times to let the ol' brain rest up, so real-time, about three hours. Took a flyer on BIKERCHICK to get going. Okay, that worked. SE, then NW, then NE.

For some reason it took me forever to see DOMINOS (duh!). If I have one nit, it's DIVEBAR, a greenpainter if I ever saw one. It's a dive. It's a bar. But it's NOT a DIVEBAR. A near flag-throw, but I didn't have the heart to ruin such a great puzzle. A!

174 on the 4th try. Oh well.

eastsacgirl 3:05 PM  

After breezing through Friday, knew I'd be in for it today. Officially DNF but still a good workout.

Waxy in Montreal 4:00 PM  

As a computer programmer in my distant past, have to agree with those who've taken issue (male or otherwise) with ELSE as a standalone command. Also, my DIVEBAR was a DIMEBAR making the Broadway inspector JAMERT.

But no complaints about this effort put forth by our young constructor who's basically just out of KNEEPANTS, I believe. May even still have to resort to FAKEIDS for all I know to gain entry into his fav DIVEBAR.


rain forest 4:21 PM  

A superbly constructed and challenging but doable puzzle which I managed to finish with BOMBE/ELSE being the last to fall. Got a little lucky by getting DOMINOS, GEAROIL, ARSONIST,and CELLULOSE with no crosses (hey, you need some luck with one of these). That diagonal section of nine 7's was brilliant, I thought.

Nice feeling of accomplishment today. Now, Baccarat.

2767 - no joy, again, but I would have taken no card after the first two.

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

Did ok in northwest, but for the rest,
Color me googlified!

Dirigonzo 7:47 PM  

It's always fun to check in on Saturday to see how my fellow syndi-solvers fared five weeks later. It's also fun to see how many spammers found their way here in the intervening weeks.

Interesting that two players had naturals after the first two "cards" only to be done in by additional numbers they would have refused at the table. Maybe we need to refine the rules?

Andrew 6:07 AM  

Just gotta echo the comments of a few others (several weeks late). I love this type of puzzle. Got barely anything on my first pass but after persevering (across multiple sessions) the 4 quadrants all fell one by one, ending with the NE. Tough but fair (aside from DINgS).

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