Mercury's winged sandals / SAT 8-30-14 / Synthetic purplish colorant / Musical title character who made us feel alive again / Outlook alternative / London's onetime equivalent of Wall Street / Cloud Shepherd sculptor / Funky Cold Medina rapper / Beverage with triangular logo /

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TALARIA (57A: Mercury's winged sandals) —
Winged sandals such as those worn by Hermes and Iris as represented in Greco-Roman painting and sculpture.

[Latin tlria, from neuter pl. of tlrisof the ankles, from tlusankle.] (
• • •

This has some good stuff in it, but the marquee answer (ZZZQUIL) is something I've seen in puzzle(s) before (pretty sure BEQ did it first), and once you've seen ZZZQUIL once, the zing kind of goes out of it. How easily did I get ZZZQUIL? Here are the first two entries in my grid—and yes, I actually stopped solving to take a picture:

One, two. Bam, bam. As you can imagine, once you drop a word like ZZZQUIL in your grid, things get remarkably easy, at least for a little bit. Had no trouble with any of those Z-crosses. In fact, the momentum from that word propelled me all the way down the western seaboard until I hit the bottom, where I hit a wall (more on that later), and then easily across the grid into the NE and on down to the SE, where things got a little trickier. Across the whole top of the puzzle, I was entering answers pretty much as fast as I could type. The NE in particular just gave way. It was kind of disorienting, actually. On Saturdays, I'm geared up for resistance. Not finding any was bewildering. But I got a dose downstairs, first in the SE, where I couldn't get any of those Downs to work, except ATOM ANT, which I stupidly had as ATOM MAN. Never used AOL MAIL or been to a TRIPLEX (!?), wanted "If I HAD …" (as in "… a hammer …"). So there were problems. Also, the ROGAINE clue flummoxed me. I wanted something to do with styling gel. But JEAN ARP and ROSANNE Cash helped me eventually get it sorted.

The big problem was in the SW. Actually, that's where the problem had its source, but its negative ramifications extended up and over to the lower center of the puzzle. Faced with A-E at 47D: Aldous Huxley's "___ and Essence", I really thought the answer had to be AGE. That was the only word that seemed to pair sensibly with "Essence." But then I was looking at 50A: Ones with issues? being SAGAS, and try as I might, I couldn't justify that. Plus, I really wanted 50D: Worked with to be PLIED (spoiler: it was). But PAGAS … didn't compute. So I kept trying to find ways to make that answer work, and failing. Eventually, I put PLIED in definitively and checked all the other crosses. AGE was the only one I wasn't certain about. Pulled it, and voila, PAPAS became clear (though I can't say I was 100% certain of "APE").

That left me with The Guessing Square, id est TAL-RIA (57A: Mercury's winged sandals) crossing -NC (58D: Party concerned with civil rights, briefly). I figured it was a vowel, but honestly wasn't certain. I entertained DNC and RNC, even though they are parts of parties, not parties themselves. The only other "party" I knew of that might qualify was the African National Congress (or ANC), but [Party concerned with civil rights, briefly] seemed like such a phenomenally vague and narrow way to construe the party that had been in power in South Africa for twenty years (i.e. in charge of All Things, not just 'civil rights'), that I really doubted it could be right. But I was out of options. So cross fingers, brace self, enter "A"—and I got the Happy Pencil! Puzzle Solved. But that's not what I would call an ideal cross, and not a positive note to end on. Puzzle is mostly very solid overall, in terms of grid construction, but between the aftermarket ZZZQUIL at the beginning and the outright guess situation at the end and the astonishing easiness in between, my enjoyment was diminished somewhat.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Whoa, I just discovered the definitive history of ZZZQUIL in crossword puzzles. Who knew!?


jae 12:09 AM  

Easy-medium for me too.  Put in AFI, MOZILLA, and BBQ and was on my way.  

Like Rex I seem to recall that  BEQ had ZZZQUIL in a puzzle recently?   Ah yes, ON A DARE from Matt Jones according to David's comment on xwordinfo. 

 My only erasure was YOGa to YOGI. 

I knew YASMINE from Nash Bridges.  I've never seen Baywatch, but how many Bleeths could there be? 

Interesting grid design and beaucoup zip.   I could have been a tad more AL DENTE though.  Fun Sat. David!

Lee Coller 12:29 AM  
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Lee Coller 12:33 AM  

Okay, cross of Tonelac and Talaria was a natick to me. Can we ban rapper's names from puzzles unless they are inferable? I'm fine with DRDRE, SNOOP, and ICET, but Toneloc? Give me a break.

And could someone explain the
"Ones with issues" being "Papa"?

Lee Coller 12:35 AM  

By the way, this is a pangram.

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

David Steinberg: Savant or game show host?

Mike in DC 12:56 AM  

@Lee Collier: "issues" = "children" in this usage.

Moly Shu 1:25 AM  

Saw the byline, knew it was a Friday, and prepped for a struggle. But, something happened on my way through pop culture and proper name land. I knew em all. TONELOC, YASMINE, OZZFEST, GANGSTA, GATOR, ATOMANT, all in, no crosses. Made the puzzle easy for me. Even knew LAZARUS. Going to guess the "you kids get off my lawn" crowd might struggle with this. @Oisk and @Susan, I'm hoping you 2 got through this one somehow.

wreck 1:33 AM  

Remember when AOL had about 95% of the "internet" market?!? I'm amazed when I still see someone with an AOL email address!
I actually enjoy Steinberg puzzles. If not for the young constructors, the future of the NYT Crossword would be quite dim.
For me, this was on the easy-medium side for a Saturday. I got off on the wrong foot by penciling in FIREFOX instead of MOZILLA, so the ZZZQUIL did not pop in until late when I finally returned to the NW corner. I also had TOSHIBA first until FUJITSU forced itself on me. I chuckled at David describing a GOGO BAR as "lurid."
I enjoyed this one a lot!

wreck 1:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
wreck 1:50 AM  

I may have spoken too soon about "Go Go Bars" -- after googling it just now, it IS a little more "lurid" than I remember! I still think of
Go Go dancing as what we saw Goldie Hawn do on "Laugh-In!"

George Barany 1:55 AM  

David Steinberg provides quite a workout with today's New York Times puzzle, and I must confess that my experience was nowhere near as smooth as that described by Rex. For example, in the NW, my mostly forgotten high school French was stuck on A_TOI or A_MOI and didn't ever make it to A_LUI until a friend nudged me there. Thus, my familiarity with dye chemistry, which led me to suss out AZO..., and my leap of faith to LAZARUS [this after replacing the silly CONST--short for "constitution"--with the actual correct US_LAW], was still neutralized by my total unfamiliarity with either commercial sleep aids or heavy metals (clearly, not the kind my inorganic chemist colleagues study). Whew. Similar misadventures abounded in each of the other quadrants. It was a good learning experience, so thanks David and Will.

Changing gears, I know that there are many readers of this blog who admire the signature themeless constructions of Martin Ashwood-Smith, who just happens to have today's puzzle at the "other" Times. Not too surprisingly, it is an elegant quad stack. As previously hinted elsewhere, we are now pleased to share a bonus puzzle, a double quad called "Stack Options." After completing this puzzle, be sure to read Martin's "midrash" about it. Have fun!

Steve J 1:57 AM  

Setting aside the AgE/PAgAS issue that Rex noted (and that I didn't correct), I've never finished a Saturday this quickly. As in faster than I finish some Wednesdays. Everything just clicked.

This was mostly good, with the clue for ROGAINE being my favorite. There were some things that felt clunky and forced - hello, AZO BLUE! - but most of this worked well.

@Wreck, I had the same thought as you regarding "lurid" GO-GO BARs.

John Child 2:08 AM  

Perhaps Mr Steinberg is mellowing with age, or possibly I have now done enough of his puzzles to be more in tune with his clues. Whichever, this played just like a Saturday should for me: very little for several minutes, then slowly everything filled in. Good puzzle!

chefwen 2:12 AM  

I WHINED to @Gil I.P. (off blog) that tomorrow's puzzle was a David Steinberg production that I was sure would result in a DNF for me. Not so! Surprise! It took two of us, but we finished with one look up TALARIA.

Put me in the "liked it" column.

Anonymous 2:13 AM  

Wait - Rex, you've never been to a triple X movie theater? Seriously? God, I feel old.

Anonymous 2:31 AM  

Hah, didn't think "triple x" at all... had "- R - PLEX" and assume "triplex" was some arcane term for a three-screen cineplex.

Lee 2:39 AM  

I really don't like the PAPAS clue. If we're using "issue" in the sense of "offspring" or "progeny", then the clue should be "ones with issue" (singular). The plural is a bit of a stretch.

Anoa Bob 2:45 AM  

dayQuil @ 15A assured a dnf in the NW. Don't think I would have gotten AZOBLUE, MOZILLA & OZZFEST anyway.

A GOGO BAR is a "Lurid nightspot"? The earliest ones I remember were from '67 in San Francisco, when Carol Doda was all the rage.

Tittilating, yes; tacky, a tad; lurid, no. Have they morphed that much these days? I think the contemporary version is a "Gentleman's Club". Maybe I need to get out more.

Gill I. P. 5:09 AM  

Oh crap, I was a GOGO dancer in a Madrid boite during my MARY KAY heyday. Lurid? Not in my AZO BLUE thigh boots.
@Anoa Bob: That picture brought a huge laugh from me. I remember those SFO days. I think though that's a pretty tame picture of Carol Doda...
This puzzle by David S. was my best yet but still a DNF. Could not see the PLIED/PAPAS area. I blame it on @chefwen!
My sweet girl of song is always Georgia Brown or Adeline. Don't know this JONA gal but by GOLLY I got OZZFEST.
You're beginning to grow on me David Steinberg....

RooMonster 8:04 AM  

Hey All!
Tough S! I am actually writing this before I have completed this puz. Been staring at the blank S for too long! The NE for me was easy! Flew through it, then the NW wasn't too bad either. I see young David is the constructor today, hence the plethora of "recent" clues. Haven't read Rex's review yet, but I'm betting he liked it.

Am determined not to cheat on this one, so I will plod on and report back. The answer to 15A has me perplexed. Wonder if it's right...


RooMonster 8:21 AM  

Just got FUJI___, looks like he went with the pangram...


jberg 8:23 AM  

I'm in Washington for the Am Poli Sci Assn. I'm staying at a Kimpton, as I always try to do -- but woke up at 6 this morning, looked at Twitter, and saw that the main conference hotel had caught fire at 1:30 this morning, with the guests all huddled in the ballroom or out on the lawn. Arson, apparently; everyone seems to be safe, and things are starting up with a 2-hour delay. Today was supposed to be an experiment with 7:30 AM panels -- guess the experiment failed.

Anyway, I blame the excitement of following those events on Twitter for careless on my part. I had hOtMAIL before AOL, and forgot to change it when I finally got JEAN (aka Hans) ARP. I was perfectly happy with Ms. Einstein's being 'Etsa.'

I would have had an error anyway, though -- I went w/ TALuRIA and uNC. A really bad answer, but ANC is no better. I think 'civil rights' is pretty much a US concept; they talked about freedom, liberation, human rights, a non-racial society. (Could be wrong, though, I'm not from there.)

Liked the puzzle, though. ZZZQUIL was new to me, but inferrable. Probably next time I won't like it as much.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

@""Moly Shu"
Thanks, really appreciate the "you kids get off my lawn" slap in the face. As long as you realize that with a little good fortune, you too will be older some day, it's all good.

evil doug 8:35 AM  

Cross-pollinated Tone Loc with Mos Def and gave birth to Tone Def--which, when you think about it....

Lotsa g's up East with gogo, goggles, Integra, Gangsta--golly gee....


evil doug 8:41 AM  

... and yogi, Rogaine, Argo, sponger... If this is a pangram, which I could care less about ordinarily, I'll at least give him credit for pulling it off with so many g's clogging things up.


NCA President 8:44 AM  

I really should just read the byline and see who did the puzzle. If it's a Steinberg, I should just close it up and pretend I had a good time. Because the only thing that his puzzles do for me is piss me off.

Once again, I did the puzzle, I hated it, I came here and found out...oh yeah, DS did it. When will I learn?

From the obscure crossings of OZZFEST and AZOBLUE, to the aforementioned (by Rex) ANC/TALARIA crossing, to GOGOBAR (??). Seriously? GOGOBAR? To be fair it was an easy enough crossing, but it is a symptom of the greater problem for me. I swear to any god and all that is supernatural that these puzzles are constructed with a thesaurus and a dictionary handy and the fill is just random stuff gleaned from those reference books.

to me, as a solver, "difficult" or challenging puzzles are not just about trying to uncover fill like ANC or OZZFEST or trying to parse "Issues" into a PAPA, it's a lot more than that. I can't put my finger on it, and I apologize for that, but there is something about these particular puzzles that continue to leave me regretting doing them. Every. Single. Time.

I'm sure there are some of you here that like this constructor's style, and I don't always like other puzzles. But for me, I don't remember any time finishing one of DS's puzzles and liking it. I usually finish it, hate it, and then see that he did it.


evil doug 8:46 AM  

Hey, the crossword Simpsons is on. Grampa Abe to Lisa: "Will and Shortz; two things I'm not allowed to change by myself anymore...."


Anonymous 8:49 AM  

There he is again: Barany promoting his puzzles on this blog. Embedding it in some artificial content, since he has been repeatedly called out in the past for his more direct promos of his second-rate junk.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Ah, such a sheltered life I lead - never taken ZZZQUIL and never seen it before in a crossword. Or maybe I'm just blocking it, just as Rex apparently did - see his P.S. It's actually his fault.

The outer reaches of my gray matter thought it should be OZFEST, no extra "z" - but it fit. Good thing, AZOBLUE was a "no clue" for me.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

I was really hoping the Vicks product would be VapoRub. I can almost smell it now.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Hey, @Anoa Bob, I remember reading about Carol Doda in Time Magazine back about then. She supposedly measured 58" at max thoracic circumference. (That number does stick in mind!) The joke was that her act involved crawling out on stage and trying to stand up.

@NCA Prez, how can you conjure up so much bile? Have some hot cocoa.

One Anon anti-Baranyi countered by one Anon pro. At this point, it's a draw. Come on out where we can see ya.

Tita 9:24 AM is punishing me for telling them every street number on their planet is 42. Now that enough of us answered correctly they are forcing me to confirm that - no way around it. Give me a cut of the action that you'll be getting from selling that data, and I'll be fine with it.

Oh - the puzzle... got it "fairly" easily, until the SW, where I DNF.

Like ED, was pretty sure I had heard of TONEdef, but also knew it had to be SPONGER.
Wondered why UPClOsE was the answer to 63A, but it guaranteed that I would not be able to parse the UP- part of that clue as anything but the word UP.

I liked that cluster of Zs - a letter I'm partial to, having one in my name.

It was still easier than yesterday's train wreck - even major revealing of many letters did not help.

(by the way, you would be very surprised at who in our midst has an aol address...)

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

Another pro-Barany anon here.

Carola 9:33 AM  

Had fun with it - lots of nifty letter combinations to enjoy - but DNF as I guessed wrong at the TONELOC/ TALARIA cross.

WHINE Department: I felt that this puzzle represented a bit of backsliding on David Steinberg's part - over-relying on proper names because they're interesting letter-wise (Js, Zs, Ys, Xs).

@Anonymous 2:13 and 2:31 - Thanks for clarification - I also thought TRIPLEX referred to a small multiplex rather than another lurid venue.

Moly Shu 9:44 AM  

@anon8:33 reply, no slap in the face intended. Evidently, just a failed attempt at humor. I'm 50, which in some circles is considered old. And yes, I have told kids to get off my lawn.

Questinia 9:57 AM  

Carol Doda was a subject of Diane Arbus
Evidently her measurements grew weekly with silicone injections and we're talking '60's style silicone injections. So, lurid.

Lurid or not, for some reason my current aspiration is to go-go dance at a boite in Madrid with thigh high AZO boots. If not AZO thigh highs in Madrid I'd settle for Easy Spirits in Salamanca where they serve horchata and Pringles.

Casco Kid 10:01 AM  

Today's puzzle is an excellent example of how sussing by itself is just not enough. I finished the grid after 94 minutes with multi-solution susses in 3 of 4 quadrants.

[1D. "The Raising of ___" Rembrandt painting] off _ _ _ AsUS, I got pegAsUS

[2D. Annual heavy metal tour] off _ _ _ FEST, I got axeFEST

[1A. ___ Street, London's Wall St.] off _ _ MBARD, I got paMBARD.

[17A. Vicks product] off _ _ _ QUIL, I got geZQUIL. I wanted something with gel, vapor, oil, jelly. geZ was as close as I got.

[24D. Bleeth of "Baywatch"] off _ ASMINE, I got jASMINE, an actual name.

. . . which meant I had to be content with [23A. Have a dependency] sELj, which might be some drug culture thing I'm not familiar with. Not great, but all of the other susses felt pretty solid.

[47D. Aldous Huxley's "____ and Essence"] After wanting Art, I had A_E and went with AgE, for APE. Huxley lived during the Age of Anxiety, or at least the Age of "Age" in monograph titles. Good guess.

That gave me [50A. Ones with issues?] PAgAS, which might be a variant of pagan priests, who most certainly have issues.

[39D. "Funky Cold Medina" rapper] off TONE_Os, I got TONEmOs, as "Mos Def" is a rapper, so "mos" is an established particle.

This meant that I went with the perfectly credible TAmARIA for [57A. Mercury's winged sandals] and the blind UPsCODE over the obvious UPCCODE.

[62A. Cash in a country bar] off _ _ _ ANNE, I got ROxANNE, which mean that . . .

[55D. Wife of Albert Einstein] I wanted aLmA, and got ELxA, which was strange, but my own grandmother's name Erna was also rather strange.

So, lot's of apparently successful sussing (at least the results were credible) resulting in 10 wrong letters and 13 wrong solutions. Oof.

But no googles! Shoulda googled, eh, @Arlene? ;)

But the glass is way more than half full. Of the 56 remaining clues, I knew only about 6 of them cold, so I had 50 successful susses. A for effort? In Rex's first grade class you get an EFOREFFORT, a nap, but no cookie. Cookies are for the first graders who solve puzzles.

At least the NE unfolded without resistance.

Hats off to all of you who knew/could suss this "easy-medium" puzzle.

AliasZ 10:06 AM  

Yesterday we had tons of proper names, today we have lots of brand names on top of that. The proper names continue today with TONELOC (although I don't know what is proper about it), LAZARUS, GENA, ELSA, YASMINE, ROSANNE, JANE, JEAN ARP, Irene PAPAS, Carole LOMBARD, A. TOM ANT, Don BALER, AL DENTE (I never heard of this fellow) and GOLLY Holightly, heavily favoring the female of the species. The brand names are also overwhelming: ZZZQUIL, PLAYTEX, FUJITSU, MARY KAY, BASS ALE, IPAD APP, ROGAINE, MOZILLA, INTEGRA, AOL MAIL, GATOR Cases and GOGO BAR (I prefer a Hershey bar).

With all these names there is barely any room left for regular, standard, common English words and phrases. AFI, ANC, IDE, ALUI and GANGSTA don't count.

Tonecoc, tonedoc, tonemoc, tonenoc, toneroc, tonesoc and a few others were all reasonable alternatives to TONELOC, as were tacaria, tadaria, tamaria, tanaria, tararia, tasaria and a few others to TALARIA. I got it right at the third (OK, fourth) try, giving me a personal Natick -- this being a classic example of what a Natick is: two entirely un-inferable entries crossing each other. It is a high praise to Will Shortz that they seldom occur in the NYT, but this one got me.

SEERESS is so sexist.
Thursday there was a bra sale, today there is a BAS SALE.

Gotta go - there is a PLAYTEX bra sale at Macy's.

All those famous works by JEAN ARP
Shouldn't be considered JUNK ART
Unless done while guzzling BASS ALE
With Gable and Carole LOMBARD
And Bacall and Humphrey Bogart
At the yearly PLAYTEX bra sale.

And I'll leave it at that, but not before you listen to Five Variants of "Dives and LAZARUS" by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

RooMonster 10:19 AM  

Hey All (again)!
Well, I finished it! However, a DNF due to 4 wrong squares. Grrrrr...

Knew most of the modern-speak answers, the ones I failed on are the ones I never heard of, ala AZOBLUE (had AZOBqUE [?]), TALARIA, (had TALdRIA/dNC). Also, PAPAS was a bit of a bad clue, too hard to suss, had PAgeS (thinking magazines and such). The N was easy by comparison to that S, but overall played medium.

Writovers: thetick for ATOMANT (heard of the former, not the latter.) loZenge lightly put in for ZZZQUIL, but knew it had to be OZZFEST, YeGg for YOGI.

Starting to get to the "get off my lawn" era, but trying to hang on to feeling young! Where does the time go?


Casco Kid 10:26 AM  

Sorry, missed one [15A. Synthetic purplish colorant] off _ _ OBLUE, an filling with axeFEST and pegAsUS, I got exOBLUE, which sounds just about as credible as AZOBLUE. 11 wrong letters; 14 wrong answers.

relicofthe60s 10:30 AM  

Is no one else bothered by UPCCODE? UPC stands for universal product code so this answer is universal product code code. It's like saying ATM machine. Sure, lots of people say it, but that doesn't make it right. Seems to the clue could have at least acknowledged it, e.g., "redundant parallel bars."

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Oh Rexhole, you poor thing! To have your "enjoyment diminished somewhat" thus! However will you get through the day? Your life? Tragic that for the 8th (?) day in a row the arrogant, smug, an oh-so-brilliant self-proclaimed KOC couldn't be pleased by those whose only purpose in life is to create the perfect puzzle just for him.

mac 10:37 AM  

My experience was very much like @George Barany's, including the const. Medium hard at least.

An early job was with Playtex Benelux in the Netherlands. It's how I met my husband.

Moly Shu 10:46 AM  

@CascoKid, axeFEST? Awesome. I'd go see that before OZZFEST. Your landmine tours are always entertaining.
Now I'm done.

Horace S. Patoot 10:46 AM  

Got APE and Essence right away because I read it as an introspective young man in the 60s, and because I liked to quote this (impressing no one but myself).

But man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep.

(Measure for Measure, act II, sc. 2)

When I worked at the library a few years later, I knew of two other books that took their titles from this brief passage. Guess I wasn't the only one impressed.

Mohair Sam 10:49 AM  

Another Steinberg falls! Actually found this one easy/medium. Started with IKE/ELK and then the gimme GENA and likely OVARY and just ticked around clockwise until we had to do some major sussing in the NW (didn't know ZZZQUIL or OZZFEST or AZOBLUE) but LAZARUS a gimme and guessed AZO thinking azure - and everything fell.

Didn't know 47d, but - - Wife: "Can't be PAPAS, who would name a work APE and Essence?" Me: "Huxley."

On the Rap clue complaints: If I recognize a rap reference then it just has to be in the public arena an awful lot, I never listen to the stuff. Just fine with TONELOC and GANGSTA today.

@Gill I.P. - the Adeline/Georgia Brown rule holds for Monday thru Wednesday. At the week's end we have to recognize that every common female name has a song in which it is preceded by the word sweet. We started today's with MAry.

We seem to be enjoying Steinberg's work more and more - today's puzzle was thoroughly enjoyable. But @MolyShu can still keep her kids off my lawn.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

"It's like saying ATM machine. Sure, lots of people say it, but that doesn't make it right."

It might not make it right, but it's right for modern crossword puzzle to reflect modern usage. It's in the NYT spec sheet.

To be fair, easier puzzles usually add "redundantly" to the clue for a word like this. But this is a Saturday puzzle, and I suspect Will Shortz wanted to make the clue harder, by omitting this info.


Ellen S 11:09 AM  

Well, I DNF'd with one Google (to correct TONE def to TONE LOC) and a wrong guess at uNC/TALuRIA (so much for a lifetime of activism!). Other than that, I thought it was a fun puzzle.

Deeply disappointed by AOLMAIL -- I thought the answer might really be an alternative to Outlook. I'm not even sure the answer holds up, unless that cloud based Outlook thingy provides email addresses. My native Outlook is just a client for sending email from any email provider who supports POP3 or IMAP. I hate it, esp the 2013 version, but what's the alternative?

Hand up here for reading TRI-PLEX instead of TRIPLE-X. At least it was the right letters.

@Casco Kid -- your tale of woe (or WOE) was for me the best part of today's puzzle. It was simply brilliant, had me laughing out loud. Hereafter I live only to read your posts.

Maruchka 11:17 AM  

'Nuff said about this puzzle.

Fav of the day: ROGAINE (shout out to @Steve J)

@Gill & @Anoa Bob - Twist, shout and ole! Thanks for the old topless days memory. Many a SF coed made good (well, better) $ at GOGOBARs. And then there was The Committee...

@Alias Z - Haha again! Yes, SEERESS is a mess. Thanks for the link, as always.

Leapfinger 11:26 AM  

Kind of scary: I zeroed in on the same things as EvilD. Clusters of Gs in the NE after Zs in the NW had me expecting more clusters in the South -- Not to be.

Ditto for a first choice of TONEdef, maybe thinking Def Leper, but reasonable on several levels. Followed by TONEdOC, TONEmOC, TONErOC, sOC, tOC, wOC. Finally thought to put a LOC on it.

I believe that once I did come across mention of TALARIA, while looking at caducei and such, but I firmly believe that Steeinberg LUI-meme was aiming for MALARIA, just couldn't talk FUJITSetse into a retitle to FUJImSU, M'sieur.

If there was absolutely no choice but to go with TALARIA, the least DS could have done was clue to an operatic number by the Master Player from "AlChesste". G'luck to you if you could Handel it as presented. Me, I figure DS just wanted to PLAY TEX arcana.

@Quest/Gil, thigh-high AZOBLUEs and EasySpirits are fine; just don't try nuthin' in steel-toe Doc Martens. And tyvm for the Doda photo; Arbus could certainly catch the essence of her subjects. The first time I wandered all unsuspecting into an Arbus exhibit, I thought they were going to have to lock me up too.

@jberg, seems you really lucked out, didn't you?

re APE and Essence: It isn't exactly the Mayan calendar or BNW, but we have less than 100 years to go, better start preparing.

Enjoy your Labour Day weekend.

George Barany 11:38 AM  

To the best of my knowledge, triplex is a legitimate stand-alone word, next in a sequence from duplex, and certainly smaller than multiplex. Biochemists and chemists use these words all the time, and in some parallel universe,they have been found useful to describe the number of screens at certain movie theaters.

Maruchka 11:58 AM  

@ Bob K - Belated thanks for your REG idea yesterday. Better solve, mos def.

quilter1 12:24 PM  

DNF sigh. Too many errors (triplex being one) and too little information to fill in the SW. There is always tomorrow.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Just so the CascoKid doesn't think he's the only one steps in rabbit holes, I kind of wrenched my TALI on. Some that I remember:

1a. Doubted Downing St, thought about Curzon, Fleet St, even Threadneedle; left it;
15a. ANILINE went right in;
17a. VAPORUB, no question;
4d. BBQ took out 15, 17a; penciled in AZO
31a. HID AWAY looked good
5d. Considered AMOI, ATOI, but M/T unlikely after a B; settled on ALUI
That helped get AZOBLUE, but put me on track for DAYQUIL.
RELY helped see MOZILLA emerge, put me on track for Zs and Lazarus, but confused by prospect of ZZZQUIL; NYQUIL lets you stay awake days, NYQUIL lets you sleep nights; does ZZZQUIL let you sleep round the clock.?

NE looked like GOLLY-G territory, but wrote in GANGNAN, no excuses there.
UNIPLEX before TRIPLEX, a stab in the dark;
ROSETTA, clearly in brain-fry mode;
Issued TAPES before PAPAS, don't remember what I was doing with 50d;
Also tried climbing into the SW with ASTRITH, sounded about right with what I remembered of ____ Bleeth;
BY ONE before UP ONE;
Don't remember my path to FUJITSU and UPCCODE (brain-fry was pretty advanced by then)but it was painful; luckily, ANC and oxIDE were there to help get IPAD APP and SPONGER --- I had been trying to think of some specific parasite, after all this was Steinberg, right?

AGE/ALE/APE and all the variations on TONELOC x TALARIA already well covered; I ran 'em all.

It's like SETI sez: Weare not alone.

r.alphbunker 1:35 PM  

@Casco Kid

One of the best posts ever. It inspired me to retrace my steps through the puzzle to see why I had better luck than you did.

What I seem to be doing in many places is creating hypotheses of likely letters but not filling them in. These hypotheses then narrow down possibilities. So sometimes when it looks like I filled in several empty blanks it may have been the case that I had mentally filled in some of the blanks correctly. The fact that these hypotheses resulted in a plausible answer strengthened them.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Ah G, that first NYQUIL should have been DAYQUIL. See how easy it is to mix up meds?

Anyone else think JUNK ART was kinda GREEN PAINT?

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:41 PM  

This was my fave puz of the week. Was hopin for pangram, SatPuz theme, and the circles -- but will certainly settle for pangram in a neatly filled grid.

fave entry: JUNKART. As in a "Junk in a Box" gift competiton?

puzzling puzzle items:
* TAL?RIA/?NC. As thoroughly analyzed by @63. For me, can also toss the crossing TONELOC into that pot.
* JANE. Wasn't left hummin any particular song, as I walked away from that one. Whaaaa...?
* ALUI. Duck brother of... well, U know.
* PAPAS. M&A justifying this to self: "Must be rapper slang for newspapers". M&A justifying this to PuzEatinSpouse, when she asked "What issues?"... M&A proposed: "MAMAS?" Not sure she was amused.
* "Popular chip flavor" - Went with POT, initially.
* ""Cloud Shepherd" sculptor" - Don't know about U, but at this point I abandoned the puz, to go look up what that sculpture looked like. Lost valuable nanoseconds. Worth it. Looked like art based on someone's junk.
* "Like some projects, for short" - Was sure sure sure, based on personal experience, that this was DOA.
* FUJITSU - Now, *here's* a sweet name. Makes me wanna make a runtpuz, entitled "Runtjitsu". Speakin of runtz...

@63: U tempt me somethin awful, layin out these juicy 7x7 grid pictures in yer blog, like that. But now that ZZZQUIL/BBQ has already been spoken for, I must resist the red hanky U wave in front of me...


"Little Puzs with Issues Since 2013"

Steve J 1:41 PM  

Various comments on comments:

@Gill I.P.: Sweet JONA? Typo? Mistake in the puzzle you didn't catch? Joke I'm not getting? (Incidentally, "Sweet Jane" is one of those not-unheard-of but uncommon cases where a cover may be better than the original, although I love both versions.)

@Anon 8:49: You know what's even more annoying than someone posting links to their site all the time? Someone who can never let it go without commenting on it. If you don't like it, skip it when you see George's name. (For the record, I couldn't care less whether George posts links to his site or not.)

@Anon 9:14 a.m.: I thought of VapoRub right away, too.

@Ellen S: Outlook is indeed an online mail service now, as well as the desktop application it's been for years. A year or two ago Microsoft switched Hotmail to And while AOL's heyday is now well in the past, they still run an online email service, so the two do work as alternatives.

I also read it as TRIPLEX rather than TRIPLE-X.

@Maruchka: I hope the ROGAINE shoutout is because I liked the clue, not because of the hairline visible in my avatar. :)

OISK 1:55 PM  

I don't like product clues, and like "Rap" references even less. Count on Steinberg to ruin a perfect week. A couple of products - OK, but zzzquil, rogaine, Mozilla, IPAD, Playtex, Bass ale, (my favorite brew) AOL mail, Mary Kay, Kindle - sure, some were easy, but a huge over-reliance on one kind of material is not good. Never heard of OZZfest, but still slogged unhappily through most of this, getting hopelessly Naticked at Talaria and Toneloc. As others have pointed out, the problem with many rap names, is that TONE - OC could be anything at all, so unless one knows "Talaria," and I didn't, it is a pure guess. So my only DNF of the week, although missing only one square on a Steinberg puzzle should make me feel better. It doesn't. I respect David's ability, but his puzzles are not much fun for me. ( I also dislike the clues for YOGI and GOGOBAR)

Z 1:58 PM  

@Horace S. Patoot - "Most ignorant of what he's most assured." I hate when that happens. Great quote.

@Evil - Tone Def plays the OZZFEST every year.

TRI-PLEX theaters can still be found, haven't seen a TRIPLE X movie house in ages.

Hold up was the SW. Otherwise, a fine Saturday.

evil doug 2:06 PM  


Never understood the concept of strip clubs or XXX movies; what are you supposed to do if you get, um, aroused? With everything available for free on line--and I mean EVerything--in the comfort and privacy of your own home, I don't imagine any extant tripleX theaters will stay that way for long....


Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Count me in the anti-Barany anon camp. The companion MAS is pretty miserable, and was rightfully rejected.

Casco Kid 2:31 PM  

@molyshu I think we are both Year of the Rabbit. Happy Birthday, old man. Actuarially-speaking, we (should)have thirty years left in our careers. Better get on that!

@EllenS I'm glad to entertain. Truly. Nothing spells comedy like genuine pain! Happily, I don't take these things as personally as I did even a few months ago. I guess that's the difference between Rex's kindergarten and Rex's first grade. big BOYSDONTCRY. Notching one Friday, one Saturday, and two Sundays has helped me relax. Solving late week puzzles (which began on Wednesday this week incidentally) is now an exercise in fabricating correct answers the way clowns twist up balloon animals. So far, I'm making a lot of AMOEBAs. ("It's supposed to be a pony, Mom!") PAR for first grade.

Ideally, I'd get them all right and then be the droll sherry-sipping wit down at the deep end of the pool, but @AliasZ has the adult swim gig all sewn up! I'll content myself down here in the tub-deep end where the cool kidz wear pull-ups, and the water is preternaturally warm.

@r.alph Thanks for visiting the shallow end of the pool. You are always welcome. A characteristic of your solves is the relatively few red letters that appear. You are never far from the right solutions, and yet you make grand leaps on the long solutions. Wow. I strongly suggest everyone follow Ralph's link above and see his right/wrong solutions as they appeared. Scroll down the solution list (with the up/down arrows on your keyboard) and read his comments at the right. firefox was an early misstep for me, too! Dope slap: I had to get MOZILLA from the crosses.

@Anonymous1:22 I am inspired by your confident wrongness! In fact, I give myself another dope slap that I didn't think of anilinE. Yes, that had to be it! AFI was mpa(a) then AFt before I channeled Robert Osborn and pulled out AFI. ROSettE is such a pretty name! I knew I wanted ROGAINE, but had to wait for the brand to issue forth from memory. (Who can forget the sorta-bald guy saying "I'm not only the president of the company, I'm also a customer." That's a tag line so clever it kills memory of the brand.)

I considered rebuses with Sweet [carol]iNE and [MITS]UbIshi electronics.

Oh, and I've also figured out how to make special bubbles come up out the water here in the shallow end of the pool. Can you tell?

Martin 2:37 PM  

"Triple X Theater" is not a thing. It's always "XXX Theater." Triplex, with three screens, is unambiguous. If Will doesn't know that, David does. He's in high school.

Gill I. P. 2:40 PM  

@Questinia: Bring your Ramata T-Straps to El Asador de Van Dick and eat Farinato. You'll want to dance the Fandango, I promise....
@Steve J...You Eagle Eye you...No joke, I really had (and left) JONA. That name does sound sweet in a sister of Jonathan sort of way.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

Anonymous said...
Count me in the pro-Barany anon camp. The companion MAS is pretty terrific and was wrongly rejected.

Leapfinger 3:08 PM  

I also liked the MA-S quadstacks, Don't think I have to be A NONYM to say that.

His background material (that midrash thingy) also gives a link to Hitchcock's Rope, very cool.

Melodious Funk 3:12 PM  

It seems clear to me that we all need to petition Rex to allow CascoKid to sit in for him at the next opportunity.

The occasional blivit-comment is encouraged.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

Loved this. Played like a Wednesday to me, in under 30. I must be in the TONELOC generation.

pmdm 3:29 PM  

AliasZ and NCA President: Methinks you both are on to something. All these names, be they brands or proper nouns or whatever, are torture for me when concentrated as here. It does seem Mr. Steinberg prefers constructing this type of puzzle. I circle those types of clues (the ones I know I'll wind looking up with google) and today I have at least 20 circled.

AliazZ: Did you know Schubert composed an Easter Cantata called Lazarus. As with so many of his works, he never finished it. Here's an area from it sung by Hermann Prey. For me, like most unknown (or little known) Schubert, it deserves much more play.

Maruchka 3:33 PM  

@ Steve J - Indeed, it is the clueing. Altho ... oh, never mind. On to Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Tita 3:48 PM  

@Anoa - mind if I coin the label "RoC" - "Rapper of Convenience", based on your PoC term?
There is a nugget of truth in @NCAPrez's point - rapper's names, while on the one hand ought to appeal to us wordies because of their 'playfulness' with the fact, can be looked at as a desperate grab for a handful of letters that really have no business being grouped together.

@Gill - your birthday present story the other day was awesome. And your AZO boots story today - ahem - enlightening!

Do we think the ANONYMice realize that Rex skips anonymous posts?
DO we think that Rex skips anonymous posts?

Z 4:00 PM  

@Tita - Rex long ago stated that he skips anonymice. Before that he mentioned that he would try to think of them as one person. Based on the PPP incident and his post, I don't think he much follows the commentariat anymore.

Arlene 5:31 PM  

I'm late to the party here - I actually have a life! Started the puzzle early, but had to come back to it later in the day.

I saw the by-line and knew to expect rappers and computer talk. MOZILLA, indeed!

I finished a lot of this puzzle before going for Googling help - a lot of it was just to try out some answers to see if they fit - and they mostly did.

I really appreciated learning TALARIA today - I will definitely name-drop that at cocktail parties!

It also never occurred to me that TRIPLEX might be TRIPLE-X! I envisioned older "palace" theaters trying to convert their graciously large spaces into three substandard screening rooms. So sad!

Hartley70 5:33 PM  

Still have my aol address, and by the way, you might want to get off my lawn!

chefwen 5:34 PM  

@Anon 10:33 - You know what they say, don't let the door hit you in the ass. Can't speak for anyone else here, but I'm getting pretty sick of you.

M and Also 5:36 PM  

I forgot to mention the primo kind of symmetry that this puz is sporting. Spin it 90, 180, or 270 degrees. Grid layout remains the same. Even more importantly, as you spin it, the six U's (little darlins) in the puz all refuse to fly off like pieces of pepperoni. Elegant. Those in the know call this TRIP-LEX symmetry. U learn so much, here.

OK. So even plugging a new puz elsewhere is startin to annoy some folks. Here's what M&A's gonna do to help facilitate a no-gripe-left-behind info distribution system: from now on, when a new runtpuz is available, he will simply park a **Gruntz** flag, at the bottom of a comment. Just go to or, to dredge it up. Simple. Painless. Surreptitious. No one gets hurt. No crabon footprint.
(Gruntz = Go to RUNTpuZ, btw.)

Peace on Earth, Good will toward sneaky indy puzs.



Norm 5:39 PM  

I want to speak up for the TALARIA/TONELOC cross. As much as I hate rapper names as answers, I have to love crossing one with a classics reference. Odds are you know one if not the other. And, you ought to get the L from talus in any event.

Hartley70 5:51 PM  

This was way easier than yesterday! I enjoyed it despite the generational pitfalls..aaaahhh Vaporub. I could eat some! I got stuck on PAPAS. So annoying when you slap your forehead over ISSUE.

Nancy 6:23 PM  

Hi, OISK. Today I'm posting later than you and find myself totally agreeing with you, as you so often do with me. I HATED THIS PUZZLE and didn't finish. Left it unfinished until I came home this evening, thinking that maybe things would come to me later in the day. But TONELOC (huh???), TALARIA, MOZILLA and FUJITSU are not things that are going to come to me. Not in the a.m. Not in the p.m., either.
A big problem was A TOI or A MOI instead of A LUI. That left me with Z---OIL (never heard of ZZZQUIL, though I have heard of NYQUIL) and right above it either
A---TUE or A---MUE. So now I can't solve either the NW or the SW. Sigh. I feel no disappointment with myself for not knowing this trivia -- only irritation with myself for spending as much time as I did on this.

Leapfinger 6:49 PM  

@Norm, I know! I was kicking myself after the fact for missing the talus thingy! I guess 25 years in the field wasn't enough. Trouble was, at the time, I was picturing the FTD logo, so thinking calcaneus instead of talus. Major facepalm when I looked at the images later on.

So bottom line, I'm blaming it on merchandising, gonna talk to those truth in advertising johnnies about it.

sanfranman59 6:50 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:09, 6:02, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 6:48, 7:54, 0.86, 13%, Easy
Wed 13:44, 9:31, 1.48, 99%, Challenging (4th highest ratio of 243 Wednesdays)
Thu 15:37, 17:37, 0.89, 27%, Easy-Medium
Fri 21:56, 20:16, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 22:41, 25:41, 0.89, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:25, 3:57, 1.12, 88%, Challenging
Tue 4:32, 5:21, 0.85, 5%, Easy (12th lowest ratio of 245 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:11, 6:08, 1.60, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest ratio of 243 Wednesdays)
Thu 10:08, 10:56, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium
Fri 16:21, 13:48, 1.18, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 15:38, 17:13, 0.91, 32%, Easy-Medium

Just wondering 10:48 PM  

If you aren't interested in learning pop trivia and hate wasting time doing puzzles that contain it, which all most all of them do, why aren't you doing Sudoku instead?

phil lacy 2:40 AM  

Ir seems to me cluing a two word answer as a foreign single word is not fair

Bob Kerfuffle 11:40 AM  

How do you pronounce ZZZQUIL?

Dirigonzo 3:38 PM  

I hate to give up on a Saturday puzzle even if it takes me the whole weekend to finish it, but it's now Monday afternoon (Happy Labor Day!) and despite several attempts I am unable to make any headway from where I was when I set it down Saturday night. The top three lines in the NW and the bottom three lines in the SW are largely blank and no amount of staring and rethinking the clues has helped, so there's nothing to do but admit defeat and check the follow-up box to see how my fellow syndies do 4 weeks and 5 days from now.

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

Easy? Easy for a Millennial! 3D, 38D, 39D are gibberish to a Boomer. SW corner was hopeless.

spacecraft 11:34 AM  

Nope, too tough for me, at two squares. I have no clue about purplish colorants or that particular browser name. Seemed to me that "AZuBLUE," kinda short for azure blue, made the most sense; as for the down, it was pick a vowel, so U. (Cue the losing trombones of "Price is Right").

Then there was the one that gave OFL trouble. I wound up with an R in there, for PArAS, as in, medical motherhood designation. As for "ArE and Essence," well, ol' Aldous was known for substance abuse; his titles don't necessarily have to make much sense. (Trombones)

Major misdirect with Cash in a country bar. I kept trying to stretch Johnny in there, almost writing in JOHNNNY in desperation. ROSANNE Cash. Right. The one you all think of. Sure. Diabolical.

SPONGER threw me, too. Why not simply "sponge?" The R ending is strange to me.

Who the hey is "Sweet JANE?" And yes, I agree that UPCCODE is a foul ball. The C is for code. The proper nomenclature is "Uniform product code," or "barcode" for short, but of course bar was in the clue. Similarly, ATM machines are located in factories that make ATMs.

I was helped by recalling (with fondness) YASMINE, DELTOID and ALDENTE; pretty much the rest of it was a struggle. And he calls it easy-medium. GOLLY! I did get the ZZZ thing, after first trying DAYQUIL. Well, wouldn't you? Too much tech/rap stuff, and though I figured out OZZFEST, I never could get into that whole family. Just. Too. Weird.

3320: wish it was UPONE.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

I Gave up and swear never to do a David S. puzzle again!!!!!!!!!!

Ron Diego


DMG 3:36 PM  

Too many names in this one. You know them or you don,t! My (un)finished puzzle looks a little strange. Correctly filled everything except the first five vertical columns which have a couple of,(very) lightly penciled errors, 20but are, in essense, blank except for an "i" in sq. 20, the lonely looking MIX in the center, and an "a" in sq. 54. As I'm sure I've said before, I root for puzzles based on word play, not proper name recall, but it seems to be a losing battle!

Thought I'd won the hand when Captcha came up 414, but it was an illusion. The screen flashed, and the new deal is a paltry 201!

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

Sweet Jane is a haunting song about heroin addiction.
RIP, Lou Reed.

rain forest 6:47 PM  

Regardless of what Anonymous@5:24 PM says, I got JANE thinking of the line, Sweet JANE St.Clair from the Barenaked Ladies song, "Jane".

Because I DNF'D yesterday, I was determined to finish this one and managed it, with the last entries being the middle P in PAPAS, and the A in the TALARIA/ANC cross. Otherwise, it played easy for a Saturday, with MOZILLA giving me ZZZQUIL early.

I don't understand anyone having an aversion to a particular constructor. It just doesn't make sense.

Can't read the captcha. Try again. 208 No good.

Leo Anderson 3:50 PM  

It's interesting how one man's meat is another man's poison. I enjoyed Steinberg's last Saturday puzzle (July 5), which was disliked by most and rated "challenging", and thought it was only slightly more difficult than average. This one was a total train wreck for me: a DNF due to multiple lookups, especially in the SW (TONELOC, TALARIA, APE). For me it was the hardest Saturday in months, at least.

George Two Horses-Christensen 11:07 PM  

Agree with the "papas" but keep the rappers, tone loc is far less obscure than jean arp

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