Comedian Paul / SAT 9-13-14 / Montreal eco-tourist attraction / Source of conflict in antiquity / Italian after-dinner drink / Anchors of some malls / Classic storyteller who wrote under pseudonym Knickerbocker

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Paul MOONEY (41D: Comedian Paul) —
Paul Gladney (born August 4, 1941), better known by the stage name Paul Mooney, is an American comedian, writersocial critic, television and film actor. He is best known for his appearances on Chappelle's Show and as a writer for the comedian Richard Pryor. (wikipedia)
• • •

Three quarters Easy-Medium, one quarter free-fall. I spent as long on the little SW corner as I did on everything else. I don't even remember the rest of the puzzle. I guess it was OK. It looks OK. But it didn't give me any real trouble. After some flopping around in the NW, I changed 17A: When bars close in Boston from AT TWO to TWO AM, and then got "DOWN HERE!" off that "W" and the final "E" (from DEC., the only flat-out obvious answer up there). Things came together from there. After getting SINE, I had first two letters of all those Downs in the middle, and that was enough to get all of them reasonably quickly. Lucked into the NE corner by guessing IN BETA from the terminal "A," then getting ITEM and TEXT ME. With the exception of a SET-for-LOT error (8D: Universal area), nothing up there was too tough. CPL and ORE were, in fact, gimmes (no such gimmes in the grid's SW counterpart). LEMONGRASS was a piece of cake, and with GRAPPA and GRIMM going in very easily, it didn't take long to bring down that SE section either. That just left the SW…

Ugh. The SW corner left me feeling more exasperated than satisfied. More my bad luck than anything the puzzle did wrong, though I wonder if this corner wasn't markedly harder on some objective level. That is, I have no way of knowing if this corner is consistent with the difficulty of the rest of the grid (in which case my stumbling was an idiosyncratic glitch) or if the corner really is clued in a way that radically separates it from the rest of the grid, difficulty-wise. First problem, for me, was 40A: "Gotcha," in old lingo (I'M HIP). Just had the -P, and could come up with nothing. This was due to not understanding At All that "Gotcha" meant "I understand you." All I understood from "Gotcha" was "I tricked you," "I nailed you," "I nabbed you," etc. Maybe those all have exclamation points, i.e. "Gotcha!"? I don't know. But (horrible, trite, overused, wish it would go die) I'M HIP never Ever occurred to me. I probably should've gotten CINEMAS, but I've only ever heard of retail stores being mall "anchors," so CINEMAS was nowhere on my radar. Wanted REISER for the [Comedian Paul]. MOONEY was rough. When I googled him (after I finished), I recognized him (from "Chapelle's Show"), but I sure didn't know his name. Never considered the "long race" was an election (TUE). Good clue, but trickiness there just hyper-brutalized an already brutal corner.

Never considered that the "bridge" at 58A: Something on either side of a bridge was anything but a … well, a bridge. You know, with cars and stuff (had CROSSSPAN there at one point … is that a thing?). [Kind] was too vague for me. [Fair] was too vague for me. Thought [P.E.I. setting] was CAN or ATL. LYRIC, no hope … not for a while, anyway (46D: Words that are rarely spoken). If I think of that word, it's usually in the plural. Despite considering NOUN and AOK at various points, the only way I finally cracked that SW corner was by forcefully, somewhat desperately putting down TENACIOUS for 56A: Like bulldogs. That worked with AOK and made me try out LOCO at 49D: Unscrewed (instead of BATS or NUTS, which had been in there before). Then that "K" from AOK really looked like it needed a "C" in front of it … and bam went LYRIC. Then it was all over but the shouting. But I didn't really care. End result: hard, competent, forgettable. No terrible parts, no sparkle, no charm. CHEESEBALL, LEMONGRASS, and "DOWN HERE!" are winners. I wish there were more. Clues were better than fill today—special commendation for [Chase scene producer, for short]. An SNL clue that's not only new, but clever? Much appreciated.

Another weekend, another two themelesses by men. The gender divide is widest where themelesses are concerned. Cannot remember the last time I saw a female constructor's byline on one. I miss Karen Tracey, is what I'm saying. I just googled [Karen Tracey Rex Parker] and THIS is the first hit that came up. Just read that first paragraph—that's some effusive praise from young Rex Parker. Come back, Karen Tracey!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:06 AM  

Pretty mixed bag for me.  The East side went quickly, so easy.  

The center and NW took more effort, so medium.   Had to change seA something to ANAGRAM.  

The SW was tough for me in much the same way it was tough for Rex.  Like Rex I read "Gotcha" as tricked you (google a certain ex governor for context) so IM HIP was the last thing I put in the grid.  Also IgnITE before INCITE and Reiser before MOONEY didn't help.  For a long time I just sat there staring at TENACIOUS and AST.  Seeing LYRIC gave me EYE SOCKET and opened it up.

Missed opportunity:  Cluing 56a with Jack Black


Solid Sat.  Nice workout with some zip. Liked it!

r.alphbunker 12:14 AM  

Why is COIN capitalized in 21A {___ COIN} INSERT?

I thought the cluing was wonderful. I classified over half the clues as interesting.

A stall of 9 minutes prompted me to google MOONEY to open up the SW. That gave me TENACIOUS which gave me AST and AOK which made EYESOCKET and INAMORATA apparent. I was then able to fill in the rest of the SW as fast as I could type.

r.alphbunker 12:31 AM  

Some clues for ANAGRAM from previous NYT puzzles
Live for evil?
Twist of phrase?
Horrid glances from Charles Grodin?
Antes up for peanuts?
Hated to death, say?

Lee Coller 12:31 AM  

SW was toughest for me as well, I had IMHIP right off due to an incorrect "ignite" for 40 down, but those clues obscure. Noun was a gimme as well which forced me to concede that ignite wasn't right. I then got incite, eye socket and tenacious. Then running the alphabet got me "Tue" but didn't understand it until I read Rex's right up.

wreck 12:37 AM  

Pretty much the same experience as Rex, jae, and r.alphbunker. Also had Reiser first, wanted IGNITE and struggled with "Gotcha."
I am now expecting "SNL" to be clued as "crossword synonym for eel."

wreck 12:49 AM  

Oh yeah........ what is an eye socket?" I thought the scientific name was "eye pit."

Questinia 1:03 AM  

That SW was one of the most difficult parts of a crossword I've encountered all year (I only do NYTs so whatever).
Also had Reiser which jibed with some form of assignation (51A, party to a tryst) ... assignate? Lack of MOONEY nearly killed me but ultimately the *A* in AST finally yielded INAMORATA after about an eternity.
Really good Saturday puzzle.

Anonymous 1:03 AM  

Anyone find the NW too much with eris, kern, peahens, 12/ (no idea what that was)adept as pro (really?) and then the virtually archaic cheese ball?

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

Hey Jae. Have you ever liked a puzzle you couldn't finish?

Ellen S 1:23 AM  

Well I won't even tell you how much cheating I had to do to finish (I count it as finishing), but just want to say, it's the acronyms (or monograms) that kill me. Yesterday I got RWE on crosses, but couldn't figure out who it was until just before coming to the comments. I'd have died of shame instead of just cringing at my dumth (sp?) if I had gotten to the Concord Hymn before realizing who belonged to those initials.

Today it was P.E.I. I got the answer from crosses, but didn't know where the initials referred to And again, I should have known. I do know Prince Edward Island was where the Acadians lived before being ethnicaly cleansed by the Brits and my mother referring to the Longfellow poem at every opportunity.

I'm glad the rest of you are smart. Actually, that's how I found this blog in the first place -- googling to find out what the heck did that answer mean.

Oh, something I do know, KERNing is a fancy typography word for letterspacing. But I tried everything else first: bold, ital, size. I don't believe KERNing settings are in the font menu in Adobe InDesign or Word. Or at least not what I would call the font menu. But it's something you do with a font. (If it's lead type, you shave off some of the edges of the slug of type in order to get the letters closer together. No menus required.

Ellen S 1:24 AM  

I think that should have been "ethnically". Blame it on the keyboard sticking.

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

I see that adept means expert so a pro. Knowing that would've made the NW much easier as downhere and attacked become simple.

jae 2:46 AM  

@Anon 1:08 - Wait a minute I need to think about that....oh yeah, go back and read what I said about Thursday's puzzle... "actually I kinda like (sic) it"

Ggit 3:13 AM  

NW was toughest for me. I think the SW totally hinges on whether IM HIP hits you, based on the P alone, or maybe I___P if you guess INCITE.

Jonathan O 3:52 AM  

I quite liked this puzzle, in large part due to the clues -- ANAGRAM, EYE SOCKET, and MOSES, in particular were great aha moments. I also fell into the IGNITE trap, but MOONEY came quickly after throwing in I'M HIP. I had an enormous problem with the SE, as GRAPPA was an unknown to me, and though I figured it was some kind of ---SPACE and some kind of ---SALES, I couldn't get a foothold up top for the longest time. I think it's one of the tougher puzzles I've done lately.

chefwen 4:18 AM  

Hand up for ignite. Like @jae east side fell rather quickly, well, a hell of a lot quicker than the west side. Actually, the west side didn't fall into place at all, but I fell on my keister sp? in the SW and pulled a big 'ol DNF. Oh Well!

Laiki just started chewing on one of my puzzles in my stack of finished ones. Guess which one she chose, you got it, Thursday! Smart kitty!

Gill I. P. 5:44 AM  

Fresh feeling puzzle. Difficult in some areas puzzle. It felt like five different puzzles.
Can we use PEA HENS and INAMORATA in one sentence? Toss in BAD GIRL and CHIA...?
See, now I look at GRAPPA and think of LMS and just know she's got a story lurking.
AOK sums it up for me.

Danp 6:39 AM  

In my world, AIRSPACE is something between the ears, or where airplanes fly. What is it in NYC? A rooftop, perhaps?

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Whoever heard of "Tag Sale" being plural?

John Child 7:48 AM  

@anon 7:29 Saturday is the best day for tag sales.

@Gill I.P. The PEA HEN'S INAMORATA is a pewit?

The grid does isolate the corners, especially NW and SE. I thought that added to the difficulty. For me the SW was not so hard. I got stuck in the NW though and had to ask for help in The Tempest clue before I could fill it in.

I've never seen KERN in a menu, but I thought most of the other clues were wonderful.

evil doug 7:49 AM  

A blessed and happy 100th birthday to our National ANTHEM tomorrow....


chefbea 8:08 AM  

Too tough for me. Did get grappa and lemongrass. But don't understand 28 across - sine???

Mohair Sam 8:22 AM  

Had a hard time in NW because of KERN and wanting ERoS instead of ERIS (learn something every puzzle). Saw The Tempest a couple of months back and still had fits with TOSEA. Agree with Rex that the East was easy for a Saturday.

A special thanks to former co-worker Al who, back in the eighties, slept with about every woman in our office. We called it his INAMORATA of the Month program. Hence a big gimme in the SW confirmed by AOK and AST (or AdT) - guessed NOUN which gave us CINEMA and the dreaded corner fell.

Thought the puzzle was cleverly clued with some fresh words. A fun medium Saturday solve for us, thanks Josh Knapp.

Entomol COLUMNIST 8:24 AM  


Bug World (Fashion Section) says that ANT HEMS are going up this year, but then they're always pretty short.

John Child 8:29 AM  
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John Child 8:31 AM  

@Evil: That's 200, no?

O! Say can you see,
My eyes? If you can
Then my hair's too short.

evil doug 8:34 AM  

Oops. Quite so, John. Math in public: never a good idea....


Glimmerglass 8:36 AM  

I also found the SW by far the hardest. This was a Saturday-level corner; the rest, maybe a Thursday without a gimmick. In the SW, I began by confidently putting a river bank on either side of a bridge, but if a bulldog is TENACIOUS, the downs are impossible. IgnITE instead of INCITE caused more problems. Never thought of TUE as the end of a campaign until Rex explained the clue. An article doesn't refer to a NOUN; a pronoun does that. Etc., etc. I prevailed eventually, but the corner gave me fits. I loved it.

evil doug 8:37 AM  
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evil doug 8:42 AM  

The Cowsills! Glam rockers!


dk 8:50 AM  

OOO (3 mOOOns)

Everything Rex wrote except on the SW. My challange there was spelling gave 41d and 56a an A instead of the correct E.

Evil and John thank you so much for the earworm from Hair.... Or should I say hell.

39 degrees must chop wood.

NCA President 9:33 AM  

SW was my Waterloo as well. Didn't particularly care for EYESOCKET. I am not sure why except that maybe I just don't personally like the word "socket." For some it's the word "moist," or "gristle," for me it's "socket."

I also take a little bit of issue with BADGIRL. Again, not sure why but it seems vaguely sexist, patronizing, condescending, and presumptuous. I don't hang around with "biker chicks" a lot, but I've found many of them to be anything but bad girls. Plus, (and I could be wrong on this), but "bad girls" seems to me to be more of a sexual label these days rather than some kind of vague prejudice against women who enjoy riding on the backs of Harleys.

TUE was a stretch too.

joho 9:39 AM  

My solve was very similar to @Rex's with the SW also being the last -- and most difficult section -- to fall. IgnITE was a hard misdirect to correct. But NOUN saved me there and gave me CINEMAS.


Ugly word in grid: EYESOCKET!

I thought this was a fine Saturday puzzle and enjoyed it very much, even the struggle in the SW. Thank you, Josh!

851 9:42 AM  

Oh, goody, my buddy Doug is back, 3x even. Makes my day (not).

Davidph 9:42 AM  

@chefbea : a sine function (in math) has values between -1 and 1. Tricky clue even for a math major.

AliasZ 9:54 AM  

Perhaps it would be easier to count those who did not enter IgnITE at first. Misdirection is the SINE qua non of Saturday puzzles. To wit, MOSES, who had a headache requiring two tablets, and the eyepits sitting on either side of the bridge over the river Kwai. These were my two favorite clues today, closely followed by the anemone to name one. On the other hand, COLORTV, GRIMM, GRAPPA and IN BETA were gimmes. All this adds up to an overall superbly balanced puzzle. Just enough gimmes to get footholds in each of the five isolated mini puzzles, and plenty of misdirection for a terrific mental workout.

ERIS, Greek goddess of chaos and strife, (Lat. Discordia), opposite of Harmonia (Lat. Concordia), did not come to mind as easily as it should have.

I am surprised to read the note from Will Shortz at xwordinfo:

"One tricky answer to clue here was BAD GIRL (34A), as almost any clue could be seen as sexist. BAD GIRL has a negative connotation that BAD BOY does not, which seems unfair. The clue I ended up with, "Biker chick, perhaps," was my attempt to be neutral — which I think it is." Will, here is another: Admonishment to a Shih Tzu.

For MESCAL I entered its original MEZCAL spelling at first, which gave me ZERO instead of SINE. That held me up in the center puzzle, and not knowing Paul MOONEY slowed me down in the SW. Outside if these two nits, this was a very clean and satisfying puzzle for me. Thank you, Josh Knapp.

@Gill I.P., let me give it a try:

Once I visited a farm that had a prized peacock ruling over nine hens. He had a choice of any of the PEAHENS as his INAMORATA, but he always picked one called CHIA, his favorite BAD GIRL.

Here is hoping that Harmonia (Concordia), and not ERIS, will always rule our lives.

chefbea 10:12 AM  

@davidph thanks for explaining

Whirred Whacks 10:14 AM  

Agree with @Gill I P that the puzzle's shape made it feel like five small puzzles. The Joel Fagliano "mini-puzzle influence"?

Loved having INAMORATA as an answer!

Also liked @r.alphbunker's listing of some of the previous NYT clues for ANAGRAM

"Some clues for ANAGRAM from previous NYT puzzles:

-- Live for evil?
--Twist of phrase?
--Horrid glances from Charles Grodin?
--Antes up for peanuts?
--Hated to death, say?

Would it be a fun job making up crossword puzzle clues? Even more fun than constructing the puzzle itself?

Nancy 10:18 AM  

Have no idea what happened in the world today, but finished this puzzle! It kept me very busy, interested and entertained and I'm feeling very, very smart right now. Like @Anon 1:03 a.m. and Mohair Sam, I found the NW hardest. The SW actually gave me the early toehold; I saw NOUN, INAMORATA and HUMANE fairly quickly. Aye for AOK threw me off at first. But as soon as I had the T, I saw TUE.
I was also thrown off by SINE. I had ZERO first and then NONE. But I guessed BIODOME, so figured it out.
Loved the clues for ANAGRAM, LYRIC, and SNL. Really enjoyed this puzzle.

jberg 10:18 AM  

Just the opposite of @Rex, and of most people, it seems. I couldn't get anywhere until I got to the SW, where NOUN kept me from ignite, that gave me CINEMAS (not real anchors, I agree, but what else could it be), then TENACIOUS< AOK, and EYESOCKET (easy once you have the K). Then you unscrew the eyes from those sockets, driving yourself LOCO, and Bob's your uncle.

The NW, on the other hand, was a big DNF. I had ERIS, ---EBALL, and AM (I live here, some bars close at one), and was just stumped. I wavered between ital and bold for the font menu choice; never thought of KERN (it is on the Word menu, but you have to click on 'advanced' to see it). Tempted by the obvious 'analytic' for 3D (much more accurate than ESOTERIC), but that clearly wouldn't work. Nor would 'quorum' for the standing order. So I stared at the grid for half an hour, gave up, and came here.

I liked it though, because of 44A. Like to see more of that!

quilter1 10:23 AM  

DNF, the SW defeated me with the same woes as @Rex, except he figured it out and I couldn't. Tough Saturday for me but I liked the 3/4 of the puzzle I got.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

KERN is very deep in the menu layers where I hardly ever venture. I managed to escape the temptation to iGNIte in favor of iNCite by getting NOUN first.

@Ellen S. I prefer to think of "cheating" as "time management optimization" or "preserving space on my hard drive". As it is I have too much clutter in the hard drive of my brain to try to cram in more trivia for puzzle solving. I already crammed in and had to delete far too much for my P(ermanent) h(ead) D(amage)..

I much preferred this puzzle to Thursday's puzzle even though I immediately discovered that the middle letters of the crosses "changed" with my first two solves.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

Nice puzzle.

Started at 38 A, COLOR TV, worked around from there, was ready to call it Easy until I got to the SW, which really slowed me down, so call it Medium.

No write-overs, but took a lot of thought and partial crosses before I got Paul Rubens (spelling?), aka Pee Wee Herman, out of consideration at 41 D (sorry, never heard of Paul MOONEY.)

59 A reminded me of this old song I learned at camp. (Warning, may not pass your breakfast test.)

jdv 10:51 AM  

Challenging. Filled in the SE first, then worked my way to NE. The other side of the grid was the most difficult with the NW being the last to fall. Biggest problem I had with the NW was the 4d 'elaborate courtship' clue. I wanted NBA__ something. PEAHENS (whatever those are, were the furthest thing from my mind). Biggest problem in the SW was BOX for BOP, which made IMHIP impossible to see. IGNITE for INCITE didn't help either. Really good Saturday puzzle.

Horace S. Patoot 10:55 AM  

I surprised myself by finally finishing this one. One nit: I don't believe taxicabs are on the CB frequencies. Dispatchers would have a difficult time of it if they were constantly interrupted by the general public.

This band was made for you and me...

Donald Trump 10:56 AM  

@Danp - This excerpt from Wikipedia explains why 36D, AIRSPACE, is valuable:

"For example, some counties allow air rights to be transferred to the surrounding buildings. Thus in a dense downtown area, each building in the area may have the right to thirty-five stories of airspace. The owners of an old building of only three stories high could make a great deal of money by selling their building and allowing a thirty-five story skyscraper to be built in its place. To avoid the loss of historically interesting buildings, the government may instead choose to permit developers to purchase the unused air rights of nearby land. In this case, a skyscraper developer may purchase the unused 32 stories of air rights from the owners of the historic building, allowing them to build a skyscraper to a total height of 35 + 32 = 67 stories. This will allow the historic building owners to make almost as much money, if not more, without demolishing their building.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

KERN[ing] is on the Advanced pane of the Word Font menu.

Leapfinger 11:16 AM  

Recently, my MO has been to start in h middle and branch out, esp if the NW seems recalcitrant, which in this case it did.

This approach worked pretty well, but for the fact that I expected the Agave ---AL thingy to be packed with Qs and Zs, an expectation unfortunately supported by the possibility of ZERO @28A, tho that seemed just too damm easy for a Saturday. Admit to thinking of HABITAT before BIODOME, because that's in line with when I lived in Mtl; also, tho not noticeably a Trekkie, I thought StarLOG-I befoe MAGI.

SW was a recipe for success: MINCE some LEMONGRASS, throw it in some GRAPPA, and see if your CAT or CHIApet will find it IDEAL; jBERG, I suspect, will thinks it's GRIMM.

Nice to see Isao AOKi when he was still just a little guy, there in the SW, but PEI caused trouble, with me making it an ISL or putting it in the ATL. Also, I thought LOGIN is rarely spoken. Bit by bit, it all came together without anything igniting.

Favourite clues were for MOSES & GRIMM, and I liked being reminded of a beautifully illustrated "Song of Solomon" that I have: 'Thou art comely, my bride...'

So. Does anyone know a good story about MOSES and IRVING and the CAT in the LETTERBOX?

CHEESEBALL raised a point about the English language for me, but gotta LET IT GO for now. In LOCO parentis for the weekend.

r.alphbunker 11:18 AM  

@whirred whacks

Is it possible that you have to be an engineer to build a grid and a poet to make up the clues?

Since all the clues used in NY Times puzzles are freely available online along with the day of the week that the clue was used, it would be possible to modify Across Lite or some other crossword program to let the solver choose the level of difficulty of the clues for answers that have previously appear in a NYT crossword puzzle. Let's hope that somebody does this.

For example, consider the answer SET
Mon. {Sink, as the sun}
Tue. {Encyclopedia from A-Z, for example}
Wed. {Part of a gig}
Thu. {Collector's desire}
Fri. {Fix}
Sat. {Shooting spot}
Sun. {___ for life}

If such a crossword program existed, @RP could solve a Monday puzzle using the most difficult clues available (use Saturday if one existed, otherwise use Friday and so on)

As a public service, maintains a list all previously occurring clues that end with a ? for words in the current puzzle. The list is here

Leapfinger 11:21 AM  

Forgot to say: pretty cool alignment there, of NURSING C-BRA.


[captchas need to up the wattage]

J. D. KaPow 11:21 AM  

Okay, the only answer I'm still stumped by is Rex's "flat-out obvious" DEC for 12/.

J. D. KaPow 11:23 AM  

Horace: It's not referring to the cabs of long-haul trucks, not taxicabs.

Norm 11:29 AM  

All you constructors, isn't the "TV" repeat in the clue for 18A and the grid entry at 38A a foul?

Mohair Sam 11:36 AM  
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Fred Smith 11:36 AM  

J. D.

12/ is the beginning of a date. F'rinstance, Christmas this year is 12/25/14, and the "12" indicates December, abbr. "Dec"

Carola 12:22 PM  

W-a-a-y too hard for me, but I enjoyed the part I could do (everything east of MESCAL)

@Leapfinger - re: the 11 D alignment - the concluding "DIO!" is nice, too (it was the only time I ever had a chest).

Old Timer 12:24 PM  

Like many, I confidently put down MEZCAL and therefore ZERO in the NW, and wanted IGNITE in the SW. The SE was easy -- had to be some sort of SALES, and TAG was the only choice. We call them Garage Sales or (more accuately) Yard Sales around here.

Once I figured out that ZERO did not work, SINE was a gimme. The NE seemed pretty simple, too. So like Rex, I was stuck in the SW. I knew there was some word ending in "ATA" that I wanted. When I remembered "INAMORATA", the rest came quickly

I thought it was an excellent Saturday puzzle, and no need to Google for any answers.

Z 12:38 PM  

@wreck12:49 wins the comments today.

@Evil - thanks for keeping up. Best response yet on that immortal query, "What is Glam?" I am now trying to imagine the Evil Duck circa 1972, wearing bell-bottoms, at a Cowsills show near an AFB in Texas (?) with a guest appearance by the Thin White Duke. Seems just a little unlikely. (which reminds me, I hope all is well with the grandkid. Last I remember things were going well - but that was a long time ago)

We've seen this type of grid arrangement before, five runt puzzles with the barest of intersections to create a single puzzle. I'M HIP/CINEMA was my downfall, but LEMON GRASS/Washington IRVING is sure to get someone else. I'm not overly fond of CHEESEBALL/MESCAL either. I'm putting my quarter on @Sanfranman59's stats will show slow times.

I see from my email that people are STILL hating on Thursday's puzzle. Take Mr. Knapp's advice (32d) and LET IT GO.

Lewis 12:47 PM  

I'd been away a couple of weeks on vacation, but noticed since I returned (Wednesday) that the OFL Judgemental Alert Level has been LOW. Keep that up, sir!

The SW was also hardest for me. I loved the clue to ANAGRAM (bravo, Josh!). Liked CHEESEBALL, INBETA, and even PEAHENS. Can someone tell me why TUE. is the end of many a long race? For me, "hard" and "competent" are usually enough to make a puzzle worthwhile. A good base to build zip on, but usually a good solve.

Factoid: The offspring of peacocks and peahens are called peachicks.

Quotoid: "Metaphors are much more TENACIOUS than facts." - Paul de Man

Benko 12:52 PM  

@Lewis: Think Tuesday Election Day and political races.

Leapfinger 1:01 PM  

@Carola, you reminded me of a long-ago frat party I went to with a friend (not a member, he just roomed there). No big surprise that conversation turned to physical attributes at one point, and someone's date, who was not only generally attractive but also very well-endowed, kind of assumed the role of the female voice. At one point, she sighed prettily and summed it up: "It's SUCH a responsibility!" I still have no idea what the hell she meant by that.

All I know is, at some point in my teens, my future as a runner kind of um, fizzled. Not to worry, however: over time, it all becomes a bit of a drag.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 1:10 PM  

Very nice, solid SatPuz.
Entered the fray at:
CPL. Followed immediately by ORE, PRONOUNCE, SCORER. Then listened to the old grandfather clock tick quite a while.

fave interlude: Comin up with a record number of wrong answers* to "Dude", at 35-A. Honorable mention to the wrong turn enabled by "It's between -1 and +1", at 28-A.

Closed out at:
SW corner. Progress about the same pace there, as elsewhere. But had no idea on the comedian, other than wonderin if Paul Lynde had an exotic last name spelling, like LYNNDE, LINDDE, or whatever. Also was not real familiar with crosser INAMORATA, so a near guess on its N.

[See 52-D.]



evil doug 1:11 PM  

Z: Bell bottoms were unfortunately not an option with my AFROTC uniform my senior year. Military haircut a peculiar contrast with tie-dye tees and elephant bells with peace sign inserts when not parading the young cadets as corps commander. Had a thing for Mom Cowsill, sadly unrequited since she and the kids didn't visit Des Moines. 2.5 grandsons, all is well, thank you. E

Charles Flaster 1:14 PM  

Same exact feelings about lower left as Rex. Took 45 minutes. Had humble for HUMANE,none for SINE and box for BOP.
Loved clues for MOSES, BERG,LYRIC and LOT.
Usually do not finish JK Saturday so I felt proud yet humble.
Thanks JK

Z 1:19 PM  

I forgot to mention that page 2A featured 2 crossword related corrections. One regarding the missing zero in the DOST clue the other day, the second with the answer to last Sunday's puzzle in this week's Sunday Magazine.

@E - .5! Congrats again. I hear grandparenting is much easier that parenting. I wouldn't know, none of the 3 seem even remotely interested in fatherhood.

Dirigonzo 1:25 PM  

I was able to piece together the NE and SW corners without much trouble, the NW provided a little more resistance. The complications in the central and SE sections were of my own making but once I changed zero to SINE, fans to MAGI, and Aesop to GRIMM it all came together.
Not a bad way to spend an hour or so on a Saturday morning.

Leapfinger 1:41 PM  

Hi @Lewis! For some reason, I spell peachicks 'banzogars'. Must be a peabrain thing.

@Z, same going on at WPlay, now pushing 340, about 25 more than same time yesterday. But now there are also constructors joining the fray, pleased to be off the hook for the most divisive puzzle ever. Seems PB's reputation is assured for a long time.

mac 2:40 PM  

Tough one for me, but also mostly in the SW.

Hand up for "none" instead of sine, and steno for Moses.

Not sure if the clue for 47D is right; I know them as the Brothers Grimm, plural.

Arlene 2:50 PM  

Now I remember why I didn't do Saturdays until relatively recently. This was tough - and I know I wouldn't have had a chance at solving this even a few years ago.

I can't even explain why I put in certain answers - it's sort of a second sense that enables Saturday solving - like putting in TENACIOUS and sort of knowing it had to be right.

Unlike most of you, I got the SW early on, and it was the NE that went in last.

Lewis 2:53 PM  

@benko -- thanks!

Gill I. P. 3:12 PM  

@John Child and @AliasZ...Hee hee! Like two PEAs in a NURSING BRA?

Maruchka 3:13 PM  

Late night yesterday made for delayed solving today. 3 do-overs, 2 googles, 1 cheat (thought Reiser, too).

ARES for ERIS, ZERO for SINE, FEROCIOUS for TENACIOUS. The only clean quadrant was the SE. I've had GRAPPA - nasty. The only thing to do is pair it with a cheroot to kill the taste.

Fav of the day - CHEESEBALL. Love to eat 'em, but never knew the corniness connection.

Good clueing, a bit Gorski-with-a-difference, yes?

@ Ellen S - As an ex-desktop publishing slave, I agree that KERNing is more format/layout than font associated.

@ Gill IP- I was a biker chick, briefly, and it was BAD, GIRL! Loved it.

RooMonster 3:39 PM  

Hey All !
Never got a toe hold on this one, I guess I failed to click my brain into clever mode, as after I came here to put answers to clues decided that a good chunk of clues were really clever! (How's that for a run-on sentence! )

Had some rights fills, but a large DNF. Oh well, on to Sun!

@Marushka, groan!! :-)


TrudyJ65 3:41 PM  

I wonder if anyone else in Eastern Canada, like me, found AST (Atlantic Standard Time) the first easy gimme of the whole puzzle? "Setting" with a place name so often seems to mean time zone. Didn't make that corner much easier though.

Oscar 3:44 PM  

Not an original clue for SNL, but it hasn't been used in the NYT since 2006 (and 2004 and 2002 before that).

Dirigonzo 4:10 PM  

@TrudyJ65 - Every now and then someone proposes moving Maine from EST to AST so that was a semi-gimme for me, too(after atl was no longer possible).

@Oscar - I so wanted that clue to have "formerly" in it.

Fred Romagnolo 5:11 PM  

Hands up for MEzCAL - zero crossing, which made it a DNF for me. Never heard of Mooney, and BAD GIRL does seem sexist and/or degrading. I thought TAG SALES were held by commercial enterprises, we call them garage sales here (S.F.). I wasn't familiar with the word CHEESEBALL as a synonym for super-corny. I did like this one.

Jim Finder 5:37 PM  
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Jim Finder 5:48 PM  

Glad to see SINE (28A). Math is way more important in real life than rappers and sitcoms.
Let the flames begin.

Hartley70 6:04 PM  

Let's hear it for the Northern lights behind the NYC skyline once you open the NYT crossword app with an iphone. Whoohoo!

sanfranman59 6:26 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 5:28, 6:02, 0.91, 10%, Easy
Tue 7:28, 7:54, 0.95, 33%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:38, 9:39, 1.00, 50%, Medium
Thu no data
Fri 15:38, 19:45, 0.79, 15%, Easy
Sat 31:42, 25:49, 1.23, 94%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:57, 0.94, 17%, Easy
Tue 5:18, 5:24, 0.98, 41%, Medium
Wed 6:29, 6:12, 1.05, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Thu no data
Fri 10:31, 12:52, 0.82, 21%, Easy-Medium
Sat 22:44, 17:17, 1.32, 93%, Challenging

Yet another low-water mark for the number of successful solutions submitted through the "Against the Clock" applet (163). I didn't even bother recording data for Patrick Blindauer's Thursday puzzle this week since there were only 80-some online solvers (vs. a Thursday mean of 267 in 2014). The numbers for my tracking spreadsheet just keep dwindling.

FWIW, I record constructor names in my spreadsheet and the last Saturday female constructor I have is Dana Motley (8/18/2012). The last Friday constructor was Elizabeth Gorski (12/6/2013). They're definitely few and far between on Saturdays. Until this year, they were at least a little more frequent on Fridays. Ms. Motley also had a Friday puzzle published in 2013 and Paula Gamache had two.

I'm somewhat appeased to see today's Challenging ratings since I had a DNF. Unlike Rex, the SW was the second section to fall for me. It was the SE that was my downfall, although looking at afterwards, I don't quite understand why. Maybe it was that last Smithwick's at the Plough and Stars last night (my local watering hole).

Josh Bischof 6:28 PM  

I hate when I come to the site and read reviews like this. Rex quickly dismisses the puzzle as "hard, competent, forgettable. No terrible parts, no sparkle, no charm." One difficult corner stymies the 63rd Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe and suddenly a ridiculously well constructed puzzle gets dismissed as merely competent.

This blog spends so much time criticizing early-week puzzles for their preponderance of bad fill but does not bother to mention how Berryesque this puzzle is in its cleanliness. Not a single partial. Not a single non-word. Only a handful of abbreviations to hold together the big corners.

Yes, the puzzle lacks a marquee entry, a first-time-in-a-puzzle dazzler. But it's so expertly constructed, so wickedly clued, and so full of great words and phrases, who cares?

Anonymous 6:59 PM  

@Jim Finder, I right beside you, fire extinguisher in hand. People oughtn't beallowed to get away with saying 'Oh, I 'm no good at math'. It's a learned skill like anything else, and eminently teachable.

@r.alph, interesting idea about combining the engineer and the poet: right brain and left brain togethe.

@sanfranman, just so long as you had a good time.

@ Josh Bisch, On the money. It was a beautiful construction, and a pleasure to solve throughout. A first-rate mix of cluing and a bodaceous word list

IRVING, not Berlin

Ludyjynn 7:25 PM  

@MohairSam, your "INAMORATA of the month" memory cracked me up and made me recall a similar character from the past.

My former next-door neighbor, about 10 years ago, took in a roommate to share expenses. Both were attractive single guys, teaching in a private high school. The homeowner was in a monogamous, long-term relationship, but the roomie was another story... different BADGIRLs(?!) every month. Well, along came Valentine's Day, which fell over the weekend that year. I witnessed three (3) different women between Friday and Sunday eve. being escorted in and out of the house by His Horniness. I ran into the homeowner Monday and amusedly commented to him what I had seen, asking whether there had been any overlap w/ unintended consequences! He rolled his eyes and said the roomie had managed to romance all three w/o anyone of them becoming aware of the others. From that day forward, we referred to this feat as The St. Valentine;s Day Massacre. I'm still awed by his nerve and his timing!

Puzz. was a challenging DNF, but well-constructed and clever. Thanks, JK and WS

Zeke 7:28 PM  

@John Bischof: DEC TUE CPL AOK TWOAM TOSEA ERIS AST. The puzzle had its fair share of unfortunate necessities. Thus, it wasn't cited for remarkable cleanliness. I don't see the problem with that.

Evan 7:49 PM  
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Evan 7:50 PM  
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Evan 7:51 PM  

@Josh Bischoff:

For my taste, though there were some clever clues and though I have a lot of respect for Josh Knapp as a themeless constructor, I didn't think this was his best or cleanest work. @Zeke mentioned these, but I'll reiterate that ERIS, DEC., TUE., and AST are all less than ideal answers, and I think it would have been better to go with I'M HIT instead of I'M HIP. That's not a huge number of small glue entries to hold the grid together, but there aren't that many bold, exciting long answers to balance them out. For an example of a Knapp puzzle that's both fresh and clean, I highly recommend his Washington Post Puzzler from a few weeks ago.

My question for you: why should it bother you that Rex wasn't wowed by the puzzle? Why does his being underwhelmed by it mean you shouldn't like it for yourself? It just looks like you're using your comment as an excuse to lament the fact that he's often critical of the Times puzzle, rather than pointing out what you liked about it.

Evan 8:02 PM  

Correction: I meant @Josh Bischof. Too many spelling errors in my now deleted versions of that last comment that I missed that one.

Josh Bischof 10:10 PM  


Big fan of the Devil Cross. I'm looking forward to doing the themeless you posted today.

I did that Knapp puzzle. Somewhere along the line the Post Puzzler has become my favorite weekly themeless. Nothing but clean, wide-open spaces with great fill by great constructors.

Yeah, I might have flown off the handle too quickly to notice TOSEA and ERIS sitting there. (Though I wouldn't count TWOAM or IMHIP against the puzzle's cleanliness.) I liked the puzzle for those big, cleanly filled chunks of white, some really great cluing, and what I think are mostly good long entries.

It doesn't bother me that Rex wasn't wowed. Different strokes. What is frustrating about the review--and many others--is how it dismisses the quality of the construction because of (what seems to me) some frustration with the puzzle, in this case that hard but (I think) fair SW corner. I think you'd agree as a constructor that this puzzle goes beyond mere competence.

Either way, I should have taken a deep breath and moved along.

Todd Trimble 10:23 PM  

I'm no speed demon, so the fact that it takes me more than a half hour upsets me rather less than it does a lot of people who write here. (My pleasure consists more in completing it neatly on paper with pen and without making a mistake.)

That being said, I actually found this one easier than I do many Saturdays, although it was the SW that hung me up as well, as I also got stuck thinking "ignite". It also wasn't clear to me for a while that 40 across wasn't going to be "I'm hep" (which would make it *really* old lingo). But looking back, I like the construction; the only cluing I didn't like so much were the two 34's ("bop" to me is more playful than an actual punch, and I share the misgivings about stereotyping "biker chicks").

Evan 10:38 PM  


I appreciate that. Hope you enjoy my puzzle.

Okay, but I don't think Rex was saying that the mere difficulty in solving a tough corner diminished the puzzle's quality. He even mentioned that his trouble in the southwest corner was more on him than anything the puzzle did wrong. I think his main point was just that there were few answers that really stood out for him, and that would be true regardless of how tough the puzzle was. You can have a corner that has a huge number of sparkling, fresh entries but still tough as nails to solve, and I'd bet most anything that Rex would be more positive about that. Conversely, even if the clues were much easier in that corner, I doubt his reaction would have changed much.

It sort of reminds me of an argument that some have raised -- and which I'm simplifying here -- that speed solvers will dismiss a puzzle if they get really slowed up in solving it. I know that's not the case. A couple of years ago Rex was very critical of a themeless Joe Krozel puzzle that he deemed to be really easy, and his criticisms really boiled down to the quality of the fill.

I do agree that today's puzzle is for the most part pretty cleanly filled, and that it did have some clever clues. But I'm with Rex in that it didn't have the wow factor that I normally like in my Fridays and Saturdays. Which is actually a compliment to Josh Knapp, because normally I find his themeless puzzles to be great.

Z 11:42 PM  

@Evan and @Josh - Hey - let's look at what Rex wrote. "I don't even remember the rest of the puzzle. I guess it was OK. It looks OK. But it didn't give me any real trouble," and "The SW corner left me feeling more exasperated than satisfied. More my bad luck than anything the puzzle did wrong, though I wonder if this corner wasn't markedly harder on some objective level," are the key points of criticism I think (probably because I think they are spot on). Was it awful? No. But was it memorable? No.

@Todd Trimble - There are some speed solvers here - but most of the commentariat does the Saturday puzzle somewhere between 20 minutes and 60 minutes. I do it with the EPL on, so I don't bother to track my time. EPL free best Saturday time would probably be between 20 and 30 minutes for me.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle very much and thought it deserved to be a Friday, certainly much more appropriate the that one they used this Friday. Only one piece of pop culture, Paul Mooney, who I never heard of. "I'm hip" jumped out immediately, very 1960s. Lots of disguised and vague clues that made it rough going because the clue could go in different directions. I had to keep putting it down and going back to it, which for me is a sign of a good puzzle. SW corner as we all agree was the real hard part. "Eye socket" for something on either side of a bridge (bridge of the nose) was brilliant. I could finish that corner, part due to never having heard of Mooney, part due to having put down (like many of you) "ignite" instead of "incite". Great puzzle, I thought, thank you Mr. Knapp. Sorry Rex, no rappers today!

DigitalDan 2:49 PM  

Backing up Horace P.: I don't believe any legit taxi in the US ever used CB radios. Cab companies, prior to cell phones, were one of many trades who licensed specific radio bands for their exclusive use. Citizens' Band (CB) was a latecomer, introducing a free-for-all radio jungle into which anyone could jump, without license or training. I for one am happy those days are largely gone.

bswein99 3:19 PM  

The SW corner was just brutal. The NW also took me awhile, but once I got ANTHEM, the rest fell into place (even tho I had never heard of KERN or ERIS--wanted EROS). But the SW corner was the first in weeks that I just couldn't get, even with CINEMAS and INCITE. EYESOCKET seems a stretch, and I never would have made the "Gotcha"/I'M HIP connection.

LHS 888 2:57 PM  

Well I always knew y'all were smarter than I, but this puzzle proved it. I was able to dispatch the NE quickly, then... next to nothing. Other than BIODOME, COLORTV and CHIA (and oneAM) it was all a mass of white space where I could get no traction. I didn't bother with googling 'cause I knew that wasn't gonna get 'er done. I declared "Uncle!" & came here to get the answer & see what you guys had to say about it.

quilt 3:00 AM  

Wonderful site! Glad I come across here it carries good data all in favor of readers actually, I was searching online articles that I can benefit.

spacecraft 11:45 AM  

DNF. After an hour and a half of hard, HARD work, I managed to get first the center, then the NW with the aha! ANTHEM, and finally the NE when I corrected callME to TEXTME and LETTERBOX came roaring in.

But the south? No. I had guessed COSTCOS for the mall anchors: fatal error #1. Then in the SE I went with guy/yardsale--can you blame me? I suppose maybe if I'd taken a break and come back fresh I might've unraveled it, but hey! I'm retired! I don't w*o*r*k* any more! This puzzle was way too much like work, and nobody's offering me any money for getting it done. It just ain't worth it.

The hardest clues of all are the vaguest. "Fair." "Kind." Not too many entries fit those: only a couple hundred. @Rex, you take the "medium-" off that rating right now!

123, like 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea. A good start...

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

For my comments, see Spacecraft @11.45. Completely finished everything but the SW, even though I had incite and noun. Too much time & work. If I had known Paul Mooney maybe......

Ron Diego, La Mesa CA


DMG 2:49 PM  

Just couldn't do the NW. Got TWOAM, CHEESiest (!!), and DEC, but that was it! Then with the wrong CHEESE ..., and MEzCAL (which gave me the "zero" error) I had a mess in the midsection. No problems with the rest, including the much noted SW, so,I guess it's the old "different strokes for different folks" thing. Still don't know how one gets ANAGRAM from anenome. I sure can't make anything of it! Another Saturday, another DNF, but I enjoyed the challenge!

14626 All that for a mere 1!! 3:06 PM  

24.: Anemone, to name one: ANAGRAM
“Anemone” is a anagram of “name one”.

DNG 3:16 PM  

@www.nyt... Thanks. How dense I can be! Maybe I need to take two tablets?

eastsacgirl 3:33 PM  

Hand up for SW corner. Rest was pretty easy even though never heard of TAGSALE. Not bad for a Saturday.

rondo 3:49 PM  

DNF due to SW - REISER and LATIN for Mooney and Lyric was killer. Nearly fell in SE as well with 35A as GUY making 35D GOES DOWN and 37D YARD SALE; they had to be right! Until they weren't.

Words on captcha - no play today

rain forest 5:50 PM  

Seems superfluous to comment this late, but I just want to say I liked this puzzle despite the fact I DNF'd due to MOONEY(??) and I'M HIP. I was totally fixated on the latter's meaning as 'fooled 'ya', which I could not sort out.

After going through the *entire* grid, my first entry was MOSES, and then I worked upward diagonally to the NW, over to the NE, and then tackled the SW which I eventually gave up on. How many times must one run the alphabet?

292, I guess, which also is my Baccarat hand, which is also a fail.

Anonymous 12:47 AM  

HaHa. I was using really old lingo, I had IMHEP in that answer before I realized it was wrong.

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