Deep-sea explorer William / SAT 9-27-14 / Name in 2000 headlines / One-man Broadway hit of 1989 / Who said I have wonderful psychiatrist that I see maybe once year because I don't need it It all comes out onstage

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith and George Barany

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: William BEEBE (2D: Deep-sea explorer William) —
William Beebe /ˈbbi/, born Charles William Beebe (July 29, 1877 – June 4, 1962) was an American naturalistornithologistmarine biologist,entomologistexplorer, and author. He is remembered for the numerous expeditions he conducted for the New York Zoological Society, his deep dives in the Bathysphere, and his prolific scientific writing for both academic and popular audiences. (wikipedia)
• • •

Seems like I've seen this exact grid, or something very close to it, for many central quad-stack puzzles. I guess the heavy segmentation, which results in a puzzle that plays like three separate puzzles, is kind of inevitable when you have a giant stack in the center. It all felt very familiar. A bit deja vu. I was less surprised or bothered by anything relating to the quad-stack than I was surprised and (mildly) bothered by the less-than-great short stuff up top and down below. I think TAWS OREN PACA TBAR TROP and PICAS are, as a group, worse than the short stuff holding the center together. They're certainly no better, and (the main point) they're far less explicable, since they come (down below) in much easier-to-fill areas of the grid. I enjoyed (and got thrown by) E-CIGARETTE (I had the back end and kept getting frustrated that CIGARETTE wasn't long enough…), but nothing else up top or down below was very remarkable. The quad-stack, on the other hand, has two wonderful entries ("I CALL 'EM AS I SEE 'EM" and "BREAKER ONE-NINER!"), and while ALOP and AMERE and "ERI TU" are no one's idea of a good time, they're certainly reasonable in a quad-stack situation. The strangest thing about my reaction to this grid is that I've grown oddly fond of the seemingly requisite ONE'S answer (today, IN ONE'S SPARE TIME). Some part of me feels like I should ding it, since it's kind of a cliché, but I find myself just nodding at it in acknowledgment, like "Hey, what's up?" or perhaps, even more enthusiastically, "There he is—up top!" [high five]. Perhaps this is because, as ONE'S answers go, IN ONE'S SPARE TIME is pretty dang solid.

Puzzle is redeemed in its weaker parts by some pretty nice cluing. IBEFOREE does not amuse me, but that clue, 1A: Start of a weird infraction?, is clever (note: "weird" violates the IBEFOREE rule…). Lots of "?" clues today (I count nine)—pushed but did not exceed my tolerance limit for that mode of cluing.  Hardest "?" clue for me was 18A: Mideast pops? (ABBA), as I had no idea ABBA meant "father" in Hebrew, and Really had no idea who William BEEBE was. In the end, I went with the "B" at that crossing because a. no other letters made sense, and b. ABBA Eban is a thing. A crossword thing. Person, actually. Not 'thing.' And he was Israeli, which explained the "Mideast" part of the clue. BEEBE looked hella wrong, but "B" was the best option I had there, and it was the right one.

Happy 11th anniversary to my remarkable wife. (And thus the crazy week of daughter's birthday / blog's birthday / wedding anniversary comes to an end…)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. [Country standard] is a great trick clue for NATIONAL AVERAGE. I was thinking "Country" = music. Then I was thinking "standard" = flag ...


jae 12:05 AM  

Easy-medium again for me.  Bottom easy.  Middle a bit tougher as I had SEE it before SEE EM plus IN ONES SPARE TIME took some time to emerge as I was thinking side dish.  NE also easy, but NW almost Naticked me at at the BEEBE/ABBA cross. Using Evan's rule about going with what you've seen before I went with a B (ABBA being fairly common in xwords).  Plus BEEBE seemed vaguely familiar.  

Like yesterday's solid with a bit of zip.  Excellent quad stack. Liked it.  Nice one MAS and George!

wreck 12:12 AM  

After today's "dust-up" in the comments, I chuckled when I saw the authors!! This was tough for me. I could never get a decent foot hold in the quad stacks and sort of gave up. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

The puzzle was better than I expected, but I'd implore MAS to explore different grid types. He's a talented constructor, but his puzzles always scream "look at me!" rather than consider the solver in the equation, if that makes sense. The enjoyment of the puzzle is ultimately in the hands of the end user, and since it's apparent that MAS can fill a grid expertly, I'm simply baffled why he constrains himself to stunt grids where, from the solver's perspective, it's more of a chore rather than amusement.

Look at yesterday's puzzle as a lesson to how themelesses should play. Trust me: it's much funner for the solver when we don't have to suffer through the dreck we had today just so you could pat yourself on the back that you could yet again accomplish this meaningless feat.

Mark 12:34 AM  

Very difficult for me (even though some words like ABBA came easily), but very enjoyable, especially since SENESCENCE is not only one of my favorite words, but one of my favorite things to do. I senesce millions of times every day. I'm doing it right now.

Carola 12:35 AM  

Agree with @jae on easy-medium, except for impossible at BEE?E x A?BA. After pondering every meaning of "pops" I could come up with, I decided it had to mean "dad" - but that got me no further. Threw up my hands and left it blank. Interesting that the Hebrew ABBA is JOINED by ARABIC. I liked ELABORATE ON mirroring MEANINGLESS; the JOAN RIVERS - SENESCENCE pair seems a little sad.

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

ANON: yes, my NYT puzzles do scream "Look at me". But (and this a very big but) the "me" is intended to be the puzzle,
and not me the constructor. For example, if all NYT
constructors used pseudonyms (as is the case in my home country,
the UK), I'd still be producing the same kinds of grids given the chance. Moreover, if we didn't have bylines, (which used to be the case under Maleska's editorship when I started,) I'd still want to make the same kind of puzzles. So yes, QUADSTACKS and similar puzzles, are brash, showy, and yes definitely "look at me", but that's the half the point. I've always loved solving puzzles like this, which
Is why I enjoy making them so much.



Moly Shu 1:11 AM  

Well, if this isn't the definition of hubris, I don't know what is. That so-and-so George Barany not only bombards us with his links, but now, he has the audacity to co-construct a NYT puzzle. I , for one, am humbled and grateful. Beyond difficult for me, but somehow struggled home.

Like @Wreck, I laughed out loud when I saw the constructors.
Thanks @MAS and @GB

jae 1:24 AM  

It's odd how Will was concerned about yesterday's  "Post office workers?" clue and yet today we get "Mideast pops?" 

Elle54 1:27 AM  

Abba = daddy in the Bible

Anonymous 1:33 AM  

MAS: When I say "look at me" that's clearly meant to mean that you're most interested in satisfying yourself rather than the solver. I don't think that's debatable. If it were, you'd at least have some non quads or trips in the last few decades worth of NYT puzzles. If Shortz had decent fill taste, no one would no who you were, so happy that he shares the same low standards that you do.

Anonymous 2:02 AM  

Well hey, I'm delighted you're so happy anon, 'cause I ain't planning on changing. So with any luck you can "enjoy" my puzzles from behind your anonymity for another 20 years.


Anonymous 2:14 AM  

Funny that you're smart enough to construct puzzles and whatnot, but not smart enough to figure out the whole commenting structure on Google. See the "Name/URL" option? That's were you can type in your name.

I won't, though, even though you'll pressure me to. It's sad -- someone who has a big impact on an artist's output can't due to to the pressure that the artist himself puts on his audience (Yes, MAS, you're an artist. You're just an unapproachable person who can't take any criticism of your work, which is really disappointing, as this kind of stuff is the peak of your talents. Patrick Berry shits this kind of puzzle in the middle of the night in a fit of dyspepsia.).

Anonymous 2:38 AM  

Duly noted anon (literally).


KFC 3:29 AM  

MAS - I love ya dude but what part of don't feed the f$&king douche bag moronic troll do you not understand?  Keep those great stacks comin and pass on the A-holes. 

Eat more chicken!  Now boneless!

Anonymous 3:45 AM  

Hey KFC, sometimes I can't resist. This guy was "out in four". That means it took him/her four posts to "out" himself.

Anyway, KFC, thanks for the nice words!


John Child 4:40 AM  

I've rarely enjoyed a puzzle more. Quite challenging for me - a bit over an hour - but complete and correct. I totally forgive the "dreck," especially as some of it helped me get the scintillating long answers.

Last answer filled in was 1A. I would have greatly preferred "exception" to "violation." Equally tricky and a better word, IMO.

Jim Finder 4:54 AM  

Totally enjoyed this one. When I finally saw 1A, I paused for a long sweet smile. And thanks for the music, Rex.

Gill I. P. 6:02 AM  

Wow, did I have to work hard and happy to finish this puzzle.
Came here all "pat myself on the back because I finished" and then took a pause to construct a voodoo doll for the @anonymy....Be very careful - they work!
Well, the only thing I had for a long time was CARNE snd ESPRESSO. Had ROUE before RAKE and I thought ELUCIDATE looked spiffy. Went downstairs then back to the middle where I got I CALL EM AS I SEE EM and boy did I do a happy dance. Kept plugging away, GAVE myself AN A and went back upstairs to finish
the poor SEAL SKIN which gave me the never-heard-of ERICK.
"Wake up Little Susie" was one of those first songs I heard when I came to this country. For the life of me I couldn't understand why Susie fell asleep in the first place. Then I imagined her Ma and Pa pacing the floor waiting for the moment to clobber the poor slob who drove her home.!
MAS and GB. Keepemcomin. Anything with BLOKE and SENESCENCE in my Sat. puzzle gets ten thumbs up by me.....

LHS 888 6:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
LHS 888 6:41 AM  

Well, this one beat me. Major DNF. I was good in the SE & NE, then... nothing (or very little). Started googling after an hour of stymieville (ERICK, DELAWARE, BEEBE, ERITU - yes, I should have known this xwordese). Finally had to do a check on A-Lite which uncovered several errors... too many to name. Probably biggest error was giveaReasON before ELABORATION. That mistake wreaked so much havoc I just couldn't recover. I put MARSHAL in and took it out so many times I would have worn a hole in my paper. Thank modern times and Apple for iPads!

ECIGARETTE was my first entry. Go figure. (Hi @Rex!)
Favorite answer was BREAKERONENINER. Fantastic!
Had @Rex's experience with NATIONALAVERAGE.
Hand up for the aha moment on 1A. Another aha at BEGEM (although not a word I ever encounter).
WOEs: ELIAN, TAWS??? (I looked it up and I still don't understand the relationship to the clue.)

I have some more learnin' to do before I will be up to the challenge of a MAS & GB Saturday, but I enjoyed giving it a try. Thanks!

Anonymous 7:20 AM  

a mate is a friend. a bloke is someone you just met in the pub. no connection AT ALL.

Glimmerglass 7:34 AM  

No one has grumbled about BEGEM, which I think is the ugliest of ugly fill. I liked the rest of the puzzle very much. Terrific quad stack (except for BEGEM).

Mohair Sam 7:55 AM  

Joyful puzzle weekend for us. PB Friday and MAS Saturday. It doesn't get any better. And seeing George Barany's name (of yesterday's dust-up fame) gave us a smile.

Had the ABBA/BEEBE experience Rex and most of you mentioned. And it was nice to see Rex letting a ONES go by, they ain't all bad.

Not getting it department: So my wife wrote in BEGEM for spangle and I seriously asked "beg 'em?".

Speaking of dust-ups - I always chuckle when the party of the first part (such as ANON 2:14) tries to insult the party of the second part by claiming to have examined a third party's poop.
Shooter McGavin: "I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast."
Happy Gilmore: "You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?"

I've said this before and I'll say it again - Keep stackin' 'em MAS.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Except is already in the answer. Exception can't be in the clue

Danchall 8:13 AM  

For one thing, it's an impressive construction. I also enjoy solving puzzles like this in part because the pattern of solving, getting help from crossers, is different from that of the more common puzzle without stacks. A change of pace is a good thing (for me). Even if I didn't enjoy stacked grids, if I saw ONLY puzzles of the type I've decided I enjoy best, I'm sure I'd be missing out. And my enjoyment of the overall experience (coming in part from some clues and answer I especially enjoyed) matters more to me than any negatives caused by a few less-than-beautiful short fill words. (WS has said something along these lines recently.)

RnRGhost157 8:41 AM  

i like George

Z 8:42 AM  

I like George also

mathguy 8:45 AM  

Quad stacks fill me with dread when I see them but I feel great when I'm able to complete them. I got the quad stack before the upper left and lower right and, as I was laboring on those two areas, I would pause and look at the completed middle with pride.

MAS: I'm sorry that you let the criticism by Anon 12:15 get to you but I admire your gutsy responses. I'm with you all the way.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Holy moly this was hard for me. I only got a little over half, and can often finish a Saturday. But it was fiendishly clever rather than absurdly obscure and arcane, so cheers to the constructors. I would have never understood ABBA if it hadn't been explained here. I could only think of the non-mideast pop group Rex linked to. Baba means father in Chinese if you spell it in pinyin. Is that clever or arcane?

Why have the captchas become only digits?

Whirred Whacks 8:50 AM  

Barany's the Best

R.alphbunker 8:51 AM  

Great puz, G!

AliasZ 8:53 AM  

Love ya, GeorgeB

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Well we KNEW Rex couldn't like 2 puzzles in a row. Pretty sure it's never happened.
This was fun and satisfying. My first guess for the comedian was Woody Allen. Figured it had to be some Jew. L'shanah Tovah to all of that persuasion, for whom "abba" should have been a gimme. Is one allowed to do a crossword on Shabbat? Guess it depends if it's work or play.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

In the skirmish between the anonymous, the anonymous who think a pseudonym is better than anonymous, and those using something like a real name, there's only one poster that I've seen using his real name and home address. That's the only person who could legitimately gripe about others being anon, but he doesn't. Good on you, Michael.

NCA President 9:15 AM  

I knew ABBA was father from my :ahem: more conservative days. Abba ostensibly means "daddy." So the clue as "pops" was appropriate in two senses: it means father, but more specifically it is a term of familiar endearment. As a born-again Christian you are able to cry "Abba-Father" to God, which means you are in like Flynn with the big guy...more so than those who must call him "Mr. Father."

I'm going to call shenanigans on BREAKONENINER. Back in the day of C.W. McCall, having a CB radio in your car was cool...the truckers hated it that there so many idiots breaking for a "10-36" or "10-100" or your "10-20." But when you spoke you'd say, "Break one-nine." I don't recall anyone saying Niner in that context. Ham operators may use "niner," but CB radio does not. I will say that clue/answer brought back all kinds of memories. It was a great way to stay up on speed traps or pass the time on long drives listening to truckers comment on other drivers.

Listen here! =/= EARPIECE either. Unless you mean EARPIECE! I'm calling foul on intentional misdirection by gratuitous punctuation. 15 yards from the spot of the foul and an automatic touchdown.

Otherwise, typically long and herky jerky solve to a Saturday puzzle.

LHS 888 9:23 AM  

One other thing that tripped me up was USENET. I (mistakenly?) always thought the term was usernet, so I just couldn't come up with a 6 letter word for "early online forum". Maybe I was alone in this one...

Leapfinger 9:30 AM  

Merry ChristMAS, but you do have the corner on hubris!! Am loving the bloggery as much as the solve. Any chance of a Quintstack in the offing? Maybe with a Dionne subtheme, to take the place of the BEEBE.

@Mo' Hair Sam, love your bit about the third-party poopery, but far as I know, dyspepsia don't have s!@# to do with it, sorry for testing the breakfast crowd.

Generic Solver 9:41 AM  

I'm sorry I missed yesterday's back-and-forth regrading today's co-constructor and the links he posts to puzzles on his site. I think this is more a symptom of a larger issue, which is that this blog, as well as several others I've frequented, has a very strong core of "insiders", namely the constructors and their tournament solver friends/acquaintances.

Rex, being an insider, is not going to tell another insider to stop posting links, so if that gets you bent out of shape, no one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to read the comments.

However, a more disturbing part of this "insider" phenomenon is that as an outsider, I know 95% of my comments will get ignored, even if they are well-thought out and pithy or witty. That's very disappointing, because I've been solving the Times puzzles for close to 40 years, and would love to be part of the interaction. But I suppose it is human nature to seek out your friends in any social situation, whether the situation is virtual or in-person.

Danchall 9:51 AM  

Anonymous 2:14 called Martin an "artist" and said he was talented. This praise seems a bit incongruous given A's comparison of MAS's work to the digestive processes of another constructor. A's choice of metaphor seems especially odd in conjunction with the criticism that Martin's work says "look at me" (12:15 and later).

I also can't relate to Anonymous's belief that his or her views are beyond debate (1:33). It is surprising to read an implied portrayal of a crossword as "art" along with an insistence that constructors do a better job of pandering to the preferences of the majority of solvers. (Pandering, satisfying, call it what you will.) While it isn't true that Martin has never published a non-stacked-fifteen puzzle in the NYT in the last 2 decades (I see over a dozen), the stacks have been his specialty. There's no conflict between producing art for a public and maintaining a specialty; for instance, Mark Rothko seems to have some strong support even though he had a similar sort of specialty. (No, I'm not comparing the relative statures of the two artists.)

Nancy 10:00 AM  

My kind of themeless, with imaginative phrases, rather than lots of names. Very few names, in fact. Medium--hard for me: the SKIN of SEALSKIN, crossed by RAKE and EENIE, let me in. Glad to see JOAN RIVERS' delightful quote. Loved the clues for I BEFORE E; E CIGARETTE; and EARPIECE. A lively, enjoyable puzzle.

DRATTY 10:07 AM  

@Anonymous (7:20am) - I was coming on solely to make the same point as you. "bloke" is the solution to "mate" only in the same way "animal" would be the solution to, say "mouse". BAD CLUING!!!!

Charles Flaster 10:16 AM  

HARD HARD HARD . DNF but learned and enjoyed.
Here goes my thinking;
Cane for TBAR
peas for TAWS
eenee for EENIE
balloonist for TOP TEN LIST
Needless to say I was on a different wave length.Pieced most of the stacks but could not nail'em.
Loved clue for NATIONAL AVERAGE.
Aybar is a complete ballplayer.
Thursday night senescence was a $2000 answer for 3 VOWEL WORDS.---Arthur got it.
As an aside--was at the Trop in AC last night.
Great place.
Thanks very much MAS and GB.

AliasZ 10:16 AM  

This was a rather enjoyable experience for me. I like it when a puzzle, among other things, is stacked. And this one was. I had to MARSHAL my forces of recollection to dig up William BEEBE, ERICK Aybar and where alcohol, our NATIONAL "B" AVERAGE, comes from.

For once, Daniel OREN was a total unknown to me. Turns out, he is the conductor of the Verdi Opera of Salerno, Italy, performing often at the Arena of Verona. His name spelled backwards is NERO which, viewing some of his YouTube videos at the Arena, reminded me of these lines from Satire X by the Roman poet Juvenal (cca. AD 100):

...nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses.
[ they restrain themselves and anxiously hope for just two things: food and entertainment.]

Much like today.

Upon further listening to a wide range of his work, Mr. OREN's relative obscurity I'D SAY is well deserved. I will not ELABORATE ON this further, except that I CALL'EM AS I SEE'EM. Certainly not on my TOP TEN LIST.

The good stuff in today's puzzle was de TROP. JOAN RIVERS, and the MEANINGLESS SENESCENCE however do stick out. True, there were some sub-PAR GROAN-SAT, AM'ERE, AL'OP, SEET-O, PACA and PICAS also floating about.

Why is PICAS so familiar looking to me?

For a musical contribution, I couldn't decide between Rossini's opera Le SIÈGE de Corinthe, or something performed by conductor KENT Nagano, so I decided to do both. Here is the overture to the former, and here, the latter conducts a fun piece titled Lollapuzzoola [sp?] by John Adams.

One final note:

Anonymous says...
It isn't enough that George Barany shamelessly promotes his lame puzzles here, now he has to rub it in with his collaboration with that other loser MAS in the NYT. When will it ever stop?

Don't. Feed. The. Trolls.

NCA President 10:24 AM  

@generic solver: I agree that there is a clique here...but don't you never mind, post away! There are lots of people who read this blog's comments section who don't actually post a comment, so by posting you are contributing whether the "clique" acknowledges it or not.

And one other side note, don't post anywhere on the internets expecting to be replied to. If you post, do so because you feel like you are contributing to the conversation and not expecting anything back. As a longtime poster to message boards, comments sections, and the like, I can say that if you expect to be replied to you'll be sorely disappointed often.

Elephant's Child 10:30 AM  

Very nice, Danchal.

joho 10:34 AM  

ICALLEMASISEEEM is brilliant! Just making sense of those three EEEs was worth the price of admission.

ECIGARETTE brought another hard won aha moment.

Lovely Saturday thanks to MAS and George Barany ... I'll be looking for more from both of you!

(And remember: Do not feed the trolls!!!)

RAD2626 10:37 AM  

Very very hard. No complaints about the puzzle, just out of my depth. Learned a lot of words.

r.alphbunker 10:38 AM  

This puzzle was an wow/ow experience for me. It had more than its fair share of great clues but I stalled 14 times, the longest for 8min 31sec until I saw AMERE. That was 10 words in.

The M of AMERE gave _C________SEE_M and I saw ICALLEMASISEEEM and the joy of that made me forget the stall. Wrote in NATIONAL off the first A but took a little longer to get AVERAGE. Needed _N_N_SSPARETIME to get INONESPARETIME. Getting INBIG (lovely) gave me the B that let me convert _R_A_ERONENINER into BREAKERONNINER and the stack was done.

After that I bounced back and forth between the top and bottom slowly squeezing the answers out of my brain. Needed to google ERICK and OREN to finish.

I am glad to get the opportunity to solve puzzles like this one. The experience is making me a better solver!

Hartley70 10:48 AM  

I'm raising my hand to be on the "I love George" team too. Links to more crosswordese stuff is always welcome, plus I'm a proud constructor groupie. Thanks for the stacks MAS and George!

Hartley70 10:52 AM  

Yikes "is" should be "are"!!! Also Shhhh about the numbers. God forbid I should have to deal with those f@$&ing letters again!

Elephant's Child 10:58 AM  


Is it de TROP to say that I, being somewhat Juvenal myself, make that as being 'bread and circuses'?

OREN the greater scheme of things, is that beyond the vale?

mac 11:00 AM  

Very good Saturday, George and Martin!

Medium to hard for me, mainly because of "I call "it" etc, and still having no clue what BREAKERONENINER is all about.

Rex needed to explain the weird/I before E connection, but that makes it the cleverest clue in the piece!

I like stacks, it's satisfying to fill in this long line through just a couple of crosses.

@Generic Solver: I can assure you, I read your comments, and I recognize your tag. I never, ever respond to anonymice. And, quite a few people I know personally through the blog call me MAC, even though they know my name.

dk 11:08 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

Tough when you have met the constructor (Hi George). This one teetered on the EDGE for me. But knowing George (sorta) and some of his quirks (err… traits) gave me some insight into the weirder fill. Martin I have never met so I was only able to intuit the George parts.

My issue was punctuation. Listen here! is more of a call to attention rather than a reference to a device. Same with High ranking? but that is far more of a quibble than the latter.

Finally I use um as in call um rather than EM and I put in sat instead of SCH. Also 29a should be clued as our worst President earned one with a C average: Just sayin!

GROANSAT aside this was a challenge and when I was done it all made sense except for 26D -- I had to look it up.

75 and sunny here in Western WI

Dirigonzo 11:11 AM  

I am in the camp of those who like stacked 15s and this grid was a wonderful example of the genre. The long answers were all obtainable with a few or several crosswords, and I thought the rest of the fill was fine with lots of fun clues (I'm also a fan of "?" cluing). I went down a rabbit hole in the NE where I stuck with unItED for JOINED too long, an allIn hid the heads of the 15s until INBIG came along. Thanks MAS and GB for an hour of fun on a fine Saturday morning.

@Rex - as a usually syndicated solver I almost missed the chance to wish you and Mrs. Rex a happy anniversary, and a belated happy birthday to your daughter and this blog. Many happy returns to all of you!

Hartley70 11:18 AM  

@GenericSolver you can still have fun in the cafeteria even if you're not at the cool kid's table :-) Your comment was well thought out.

Norm 11:24 AM  

MAS puzzles often chew me up and spit me out, so I started this one with some trepidation after seeing his name up top. This one was very enjoyable. Had NATIONAL ANTHEMS before NATIONAL AVERAGE [but knew the S was iffy], ENRON before ELIAN, and CAMS before TAWS, but most of the rest went pretty smoothly. Don't know where I remembered BEEBE from, but it was almost a gimme. Very nice puzzle.

Norm 11:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leapfinger 11:43 AM  

YEO, Guys, you have a great sets of quads there, all of them above the NATIONAL AVERAGE. Perhaps BEGUM Khan be USEd one day soon?

Every section had STUNning bits:

IBEFOREE: great entry, fab clue, came late
DELAWARE: the -WA- fooled me into OJIBWAYS
SEALSKIN: was fooled into thinking what else besides Anoraks and Mukluks
FALA: a change-up to throw in a too-easy
EENIE: hmm, NOT Eeny?
And, of course, I ROUE the day, but appreciated the switch from ELABORATiON to ELABORATE ON.

Will never eat FLUKE sushi, after that Invertabrate Zool section on Sheep's Liver FLUKE
UNIT one, I purl two
Kool crossing that JOINED KENT with E-CIGARETTE; my SiL is KEEN on Vapes, bought me a kit.

Aside: ignore the No SEE 'EM
Thought of 'drum major' before MARSHAL, but Ney, not so: too Nappy!

Poor PACA in a SNARE!
Someone's comment taught me that many words starting A/AL come from the ARABIC, so thanks! Maybe the Al-PACA is also ARABIC, rather than Andean.

Nice way to B-SIEGE, no GROAN SAT at this table where the demitasse ESPRESSO made a great finish to the feast.

Nothing better than a GB-MAS quadstack IN ONE'S SPARE TIME. USENET for a SNARE instead of a trap, and Thanks! for all the FLUKE.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Any puzzle that I can complete without Googling is a "good" puzzle, but I came here to say the same thing as Rex: why is the hard-to-compose middle relatively clean (apart from ALOP, can anyone explain that?), while the SW isn't.

ABBA was obscure, but "pop music" seemed like a vague connection and Beebe is a fairly well known surname. I still don't get TAWS. PACA was new crosswordese for me.

PS, in case the above comes across as critical, I just wanted to add my (anonymous) words of support for George. Ignore the trolls.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

PS, "niner" is standard in air traffic control. Maybe CBers borrowed it.

r.alphbunker 11:55 AM  

@Generic Solver

I know how you feel. Achieving genuine human communication in a blog is like getting a poem to fit into a crossword puzzle grid (on topic!)

FWIW, comments with an icon attached are probably more likely to attract the attention of someone skimming the blog.

I agree with @NCA President's comment. Your goal should be to post something worth commenting on while understanding that people will rarely be inspired to do so. And this is probably a good thing or else the blog would be filled with comments like "Good point".

In fact, programming blogs often request that you do not post "thank yous" to posts even if you are overwhelmed with gratitude for the information in them.

Beadola 12:06 PM  

Loved the puzzle - thanks guys. Took forever, but completed without Auntie Google, so happy.
Has anyone explained "taws" yet? The taw is the term for the marble you shoot with in a game of marbles.

Fred Smith 12:19 PM  


If you're referring to GWB's MBA grades, you've got it wrong. HBS does not use the "A, B, C" grading scheme.

However, I can attest that as a section-mate that it is true that his best traits were not in academic achievement. He was, however, a very nice guy, well-liked, and despite his family wealth and father's ambassadorial fame, very down-to-earth.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

I count 11 "?"s - isn't that beyond Rex's limit?

Fred Smith 12:27 PM  

DK --

Sorry, I can tell you with certainty that GWB did NOT have any "Cs" at Harvard Business School.

RnRGhost57 12:33 PM  

@RnRGhost157 and @Z: ditto

Anonymorph 12:44 PM  

@Mark, loved your habitual senescing.

So. What's nesce?

OISK 12:47 PM  

Happy New Year to those who were observing over the past two days! I really liked this puzzle, and loved yesterday's as well. Both played easy-medium for me, and both were easier than Tuesday's! No meaningless (to me) pop culture today, and only "Louie Louie" yesterday, and "Jarule" on Thursday, made for a nice holiday weekend. Happy to see the clue for "Abba" since I speak some Hebrew - a nice change from the usual pop group clue for the word. I really like quad stacks when all of the answers make sense as they did today. Well done!! (technically, it is OK to solve puzzles on Rosh Hashonah and Shabbat, but it is not OK to write the answers…)

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Great fun MAS! Ignore these supercilious and self-righteous simpletons who spend so much time accomplishing nothing. I always look forward to your puzzles because they goad these yahoos into impassioned excuses for their own ineptitude.

mathguy 1:19 PM  

Generic Solver, NCA President, Hartley 70, r.alph bunker: I enjoyed hearing your reactions concerning those of us not at the cool kids table. When I started posting, I was expecting to get more response to my comments. But now I think that I understand what the culture is, along the lines of what you all posted. If I am moved to comment, I now enjoy just being in the company of this admirable group.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Argh to TBAR. I've skied at more resorts (30+) than anyone I know and except for Whistler Blackcomb, haven't seen a TBAR since the 60's, maybe 70's. So the answer is as dated as wood skis, bear trap bindings and rope tows and should be couched as such. If you don't know your subject, do a Casey Stengel and "look it up".

bswein99 2:10 PM  

I could have stared at "Start of a weird infraction" for the rest of my life and not gotten it. For a while I had "Hug a tree" (which left me with TBs for the "hurtful outburst," which I KNEW couldn't be right). Had to google BEEBE, then got DELAWARE...
I'm finding my failure here more depressing than usual.

AliasZ 2:31 PM  


Of course it is "bread and circuses." I used "food and entertainment" under the veil of going for the meaning behind the words. Such are the hills and dales of a translator.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

Yes, this "community" is a clique and a cult of rex-worshipers. They feel good and smug and superior insulting "anonymice" (so clever!) and knowing solvers by name and shoe size. Bully for them.

Virginia 2:48 PM  

Have to say I found this one hard and pretty unrewarding. Some of the difficulty was just my own slowness, but between the answers I'd never heard of before (TAW, OREN, PACA), some dubious cluing (is OW "hurtful" by any definition?) and the answers that weren't actually words (BEGEM, ALOP), the whole experience was kind of irritating.

I will concede that I BEFORE E was clever, even though it was almost the last thing I got. Still, overall, not much fun for me -- but kudos to those who enjoyed it more!

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Strange insulting "kudos:" "Congratulations if you enjoyed this stupid puzzle!"

Virginia 2:57 PM  

Wow, Anonymous, nice way to take a well-meant comment and turn it into an insult. Allow me to clarify: I did not particularly enjoy this puzzle, but I am both happy for and impressed by those who did.

Casual Observer 3:01 PM  

There are some truly miserable people in this world!

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

AliasZ's standard response to being caught red-handed at some transgression or another is "of course ...", like the kid who falls off his bike and says "I meant to do that"

We all have a brother-in-law or co-worker or person-sitting-next-to-us-at-the-wedding-reception like that, but it's tough in real life to tell them what you think. That's why the internet is so gosh-darn fun.

Elephant's Child 3:18 PM  

Helas, @Alias, then I Mosby exposed as a Juvenal delinquent!

Aside: one knows how important shoe size is in sizing up a person, does one not?

Am enjoying the aftermath as well as the solve.

Z 3:25 PM  

At 8:42 a.m. I had just finished a 7 mile run that included crossing the Straits of Mackinac as the sun rose. So, while the comment itself was innocuous, pretending to be me is just a little creepy.

As far as anonymity is concerned, a complete stranger came up to me on a field 300 miles from home and introduced himself based on comments here - so, yeah, it makes a difference.

@generic solver - part of the clique thing is "voice." You would never mistake my posts for @AliasZ, for instance. I've never been to a Xword tourney nor do I construct, although I have exchanged emails with other daily posters, many of whom feel like friends despite never meeting to shake hands. I do read everything you post.

DNF on the puzzle, but it has been a great day.

Fred Romagnolo 3:37 PM  

@dk: worst prez was Buchanan. (a Dem.). Lincoln has often been apologized for by people who blame Buchanan for the situation he left Lincoln in (sound familiar?). @AliasZ: stick to your guns, Italians say "tradutore - traditore," somebody's always gonna criticize you. (translator - traitor). Did anyone but me Think of Alito for ELIAN? I got the LI first. I think TBAR is o.k. even if they're out of date. When I was a boy, Beebe was a huge presence in the world of exploration. Not knowing OREN I thought of SpARE as in bowling! Barenboim's the great Israeli conductor (and HUMAN BEING) in my book. Is there no exhausting the list of things DELAWARE is first in? P.S. I much prefer the use of numbers as an ID for responses, can't always figure out those skewed letters.

Leapfinger 4:12 PM  

@Z, I agree with you about the creepy -- it's almost like identity theft -- and about the 'voice' recognition: I wouldn't confuse you with SteveJ today as I once did, and more of the regulars become identifiable by voice every day. I also read 'em (hi, @dk) all, for the variety of perspectives and interesting nuggets that turn up. I know, I've probably been pegged as easily entertained.

@FredRom, nice one about 'tradutore - traditore'! It seems to me that the numerical captchas appear on some kind of schedule, but you can click on that circling arrow to the right of the box till you get one you can interpret.


Whirred Whack 4:22 PM  

The comment made by @Whirred Whacks at 8:50am about George Barany was not made by me, the person who has been using that WHIRRED WHACKS moniker for the past 2 months. I have no issue with George other than to say he has been supportive toward me in his comments in this forum, and I've also enjoyed going to his website.

Since I'm not using my Google/Blogger account (by choice) to make comments here, I guess if someone else wants to the Name/URL function to post as WHIRRED WHACKS, I don't have a lot to complain about. Seems sort of silly though -- kind of like high school, don't you think.

Challenging puzzle for me: triple and quad stacks are tough. I finally made it through but had to Google 4 or 5 items.

It's a beautiful day in Northern California, and we're having a baby shower at our house for my daughter tomorrow (my first grandchild)!

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo,

Yes, I also first thought of Alito. Then I remembered that Clinton was president for all of 2000 and GWB was not inaugurated until January 2001.

It turns out Alito did not join the court until 2006.

Fred Romagnolo 5:02 PM  

@Anon 4:41: I, of course, should have made the same connections in my mind; thanks for the refresher. Glad to see some anons who are serious and thoughtful and not name callers!

Fred Romagnolo 5:06 PM  

twimc, or who gives a darn: had a malignant melanoma removed Thurs. A great load off my back!

Norm 5:22 PM  

@Generic Solver: I think the conversations here skew East Coast and people who do the puzzle the instant it comes out. As a [northern] Californian [hi there, Whirred Whack/s!] and someone who likes to do the puzzle in the morning to wake up my brain, I find that most comments I might make have already been covered by the time I come here, and I usually chime in only when I have a very strong feeling (pro or con) about a puzzle -- especially when mine is a minority view. Given those constraints, I seldom expect a response. There are many people you can email on the side. I've had some nice "chats" of that ilk over the years.

sanfranman59 6:05 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 5:57, 6:03, 0.98, 42%, Medium
Tue 9:29, 7:50, 1.21, 90%, Challenging
Wed 12:32, 9:30, 1.32, 96%, Challenging (12th highest ratio of 247 Wednesdays)
Thu 19:34, 16:57, 1.15, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 14:55, 19:38, 0.76, 13%, Easy
Sat 27:09, 25:57, 1.05, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:56, 3:57, 1.00, 43%, Medium
Tue 6:25, 5:21, 1.20, 92%, Challenging
Wed 7:30, 6:12, 1.21, 90%, Challenging
Thu 12:36, 10:29, 1.20, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 9:49, 12:34, 0.78, 14%, Easy
Sat 19:12, 17:42, 1.08, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Bomaka 7:18 PM  

Clues were slipperier than SEALSKIN making for a great Saturday puzzle. Got ECIGARETTE off the terminal -TTE, having recently tried them. Severe trachiitis/esophagitis ensued. Ergo, not highly recommended from moi.

BREAKERONENINER was a gimme. When we moved to the "country" we listened to plenty of cowboy music in our SPARE TIME, before we finally got Sirius. Loved C.w.Mccall's Wonderfully rebellious "Convoy."

Rubber Ducky out!

Arlene 8:02 PM  

I never used to do Saturday puzzles, and 15er stacks used to scare me away. I'm a big girl now - so ventured forth with aplomb! I got most of it, with an occasional Google to keep things moving.

What I am enjoying - unexpectedly - is the post-"dust-up" comments today! I think we're all bonding, folks!

And, yes - I use my real name.

AZPETE 8:22 PM  

The C is referring to his undergrad cum at Yale. Wonder how many As he got at HBS since you need a B average to graduate.

Fred Smith 10:21 PM  


I can tell you unequivocally that GWB had zero Bs at HBS.

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

I haven't finished it yet; but, I have to say, this is 2014. Do you think you can find a way to start saying 'nation' instead of 'tribe'? Also, the treaty was with the Lenape. Delaware was Mr. Thomas West, aka Baron de la Warr.


Casco Kid 2:12 AM  

1;51. Clean line score from a MA-S SatPuz no less. Barany influence?

I spent 50 minutes in the SW. laos for EIRE started the fun. rope for TBAR. cognaC for ARABIC. coEN for OREN. WECARE came and went a dozen times. SNARE was a sad solution. I didn't want to keep it, but did. TAWS, OREN and PACA are totally new.

We saw a TENREC in Madagascar. Extremely funny looking rain forest rodent and excellent crossword material.

Ok. Jet lag. What to do? SunPuz!

Anonymous 4:42 AM  

Welcome back @Casco Kid

Leapfinger 5:52 AM  

Yes, welcome back, and thanks for the TENREC

Anonymous 8:44 AM  


I can tell you with certainty that GWB got neither any As nor any Bs at Harvard Business School.

Torb 11:29 AM  

Got all except for that evil NW. Abba? Beebe? Yeo? Dang it!

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Just because you get an A doesn't mean you've easily passed. I had a lot of classes I had to study very hard for to get an A!

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Count me in as liking the long stacks, but......For me this was a real challenge and my hat is off to anyone considering it easy/medium or even med/chal. If it weren't for my reference library I would have been doomed to the Hall of Shamefulmess. I'm liberal so I count this as A FWH (Finished with help).

Ron Diego 665= 8 ?

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

WEIRD does not break the spelling rule because the rule states, "I before E EXCEPT after C." If a person uses the complete rule, it works!

DMG 2:58 PM  

Struggled mightily,but managed all but the NW. My 1D guess was "maybe",so the navy folk were "ens"! Knew it didn't reall fitted the clue, but wanted 1A to be "malaprops" or,some such. That was stymied by the also wrong Roué. At any rate, I enjoyed the struggle. Surprised to learn this use of ABBA, thought puzzles had taught me it was a singing group, and didn't know FLUKEs are edible. So live and learn!

167 @RD, your draw beats me again!

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

I like quad stacks and was just a teensy disappointed this one did not have more. I also liked this puzzle. Never thought I would see a troll under this particular bridge. Also, trolls should remember, some of these clues are probably Will's, not the constructors.

rain forest 3:54 PM  

Just to demonstrate that everyone's experience is unique, my first entry, without crosses was IBEFOREE, because the clue was prescriptive, to me anyway. From there the top 2/3 of the puzzle went swiftly, but I bogged down in the S, particularly the SW. Running the alphabet to get TAWS, and cringing at WE CARE, OREN just came from crosses.

OK, enough about me. I'd say MED-CHALL is about right, and I liked most of the clues, and most of the fill, and really liked the 4-stack. That kind of construction is always impressive. Good finish to the week.

5109 No dice with these cards.

rondo 6:14 PM  

Found it to be quite the challenge, however finished w/o help. Looooong time asolvin'; spent foerver in the stacks across the middle. Even the IBEFOREE took some time. But no GROANSAT this puz, might even be on the Saturday TOPTENLIST.

Unreadable captchas for me so no play on the day.

spacecraft 1:57 AM  

Way too late in the day to be read by anyone, but at least I'll be on printed record.

I finished it--after putting it down, going out for the day and coming back to it while watching my favorite movie, North by Northwest, for the NTH time.

Broke through in the center with ICALLEMASISEEEM--fortunately a very descriptive clue--and the recently late, great JOANRIVERS swept me into the top. Wouldn't you know, the (North by)NW was the last to fall, after a gigantic AHA! moment at parsing 1a. Weird...of course!

In "Amok Time," T'Pau says, "The air is the air. What can be done?" I say, the fill is the fill. What can be done to accommodate all those 15s? Not a lot. EENIE?? Ickie. And though SENESCENCE is a fine word, it IS a ten-letter word that uses only four letters of the alphabet--three of them uber-common. Seeing it there, it looks like a gigantic crutch.

Not forgetting that it WAS a toughie and that I DID finish, IDSAY it's a B.

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