Historic residential hotel in Manhattan / SAT 11-29-14 / But in Bonn / King of old comics / Onetime host of CBS's Morning Show / Boxer who won 1980's Brawl in Montreal / Principal lieutenant of Hector in Iliad / Nickname in Best Picture of 1969 / Masks Confronting death painter 1888

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: THREE-LETTER WORD (32A: Something not found in this puzzle's answer) — not a theme, really, but since this sits right across the middle of the grid, and refers to an overall quality of the grid, I'm calling it a 'theme.'

Word of the Day: ANSONIA (51A: Historic residential hotel in Manhattan) —
The Ansonia is a building on the Upper West Side of New York City, located at 2109 Broadway, between West 73rd and West 74th Streets. It was originally built as a hotel by William Earle Dodge Stokes, the Phelps-Dodge copper heir and share holder in the Ansonia Clock Company, and it was named for his grandfather, the industrialist Anson Greene Phelps. In 1899, Stokes commissioned architect Paul E. Duboy (1857–1907) to build the grandest hotel in Manhattan.
Stokes would list himself as "architect-in-chief" for the project and hired Duboy, a sculptor who designed and made the ornamental sculptures on the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, to draw up the plans. New Orleans architect Martin Shepard served as draftsman and assistant superintendent of construction on the project. A contractor sued Stokes in 1907, but he would defend himself, explaining that Duboy was in an insane asylum in Paris and should not have been making commitments in Stokes's name concerning the hotel.
In what might be the earliest harbinger of the current developments in urban farming, Stokes established a small farm on the roof of the hotel.
Stokes had a Utopian vision for the Ansonia—that it could be self-sufficient, or at least contribute to its own support—which led to perhaps the strangest New York apartment amenity ever. "The farm on the roof," Weddie Stokes wrote years later, "included about 500 chickens, many ducks, about six goats and a small bear." Every day, a bellhop delivered free fresh eggs to all the tenants, and any surplus was sold cheaply to the public in the basement arcade. Not much about this feature charmed the city fathers, however, and in 1907, the Department of Health shut down the farm in the sky. (wikipedia)
• • •

Fell asleep before the puzzle came out. Then woke up in the middle of the night and solved it. Since I was woozy with sleep and it was Saturday (i.e. the toughest day of the week), I went slowly. Methodically. Poking away. This is all to say that I finished in my normal Saturday time, but the puzzle might've been easier than a "Medium" difficulty rating suggests. I never got significantly hung up, as I sometimes do on Saturdays, though there were a couple of areas that felt threatening for a bit. This is one of those highly segmented jobs that plays more like five mini-puzzles than one large one—these can often be deadly. You get caught in one of these (roughly) 7x6 or 8x7 sections, with no THREE-LETTER WORDs to grab on to, and the white space can just eat you alive. Luckily for me, the grid-spanners were fairly forthcoming, meaning that I was able to get a good decent preliminary toehold in every section. Got I CAN'T SLEEP AT ALL rather easily (it turned out to be I CAN'T SLEEP A WINK, which is why the SW was briefly harrowing). After the west was won, just a little tinkering in the middle allowed me to see THREE-LETTER WORD. Then I got very lucky, and with just the -WD- in place, got WEEKEND WARRIORS. After that, the NW (with HORSE already in place from the 52A cross-reference) played like a Tuesday, and then it was just a matter of fighting through the I/E dilemma at ERMAS, and finally fighting through the NYC provincialism of ANSONIA (!?). And I was done.


All things considered ("all things" being the relatively low word count and the four big chunks of white space in the corners), this puzzle felt pretty clean. The "theme" is mostly trivial, but that center answer neatly describes a feature of the grid that makes it hard both to fill and to solve, thus giving it a nifty meta-puzzle feel ("meta" in the sense of its being a puzzle about a puzzle, not "meta" in the sense of there being another puzzle to solve after you complete the grid … unless I'm missing something … it's the middle of the night, so who knows …?). No 3-letter words, but (not surprisingly) the four-letter answers do groan a little under the strain of the construction. They are almost always the worst thing in any section of this puzzle. Two long Downs are lovely, and none of the 5+-letter answers made me wince, so overall I'd say that's a victory.


OBAMANIA feels weird to me. I don't remember seeing it in '08, and I'm finding it hard to say. Awkward. It wants to come out OH'-buh-MAY'-nee-uh or oh-BAH'-muh-NEE'-uh, neither of which sounds like anything you'd use, given the high likelihood that your conversation partner would respond to you with "What?" I don't doubt the validity of the answer—it's one of the more interesting things in the grid. I just can't manage to say it in a way that sounds reasonable. I don't know who EVE BEST is, but then, until last year or so, I didn't know who "Wallis Simpson" was either. I saw Michael DORN on screen earlier in the evening; wife and daughter are working their way through "Star Trek: TNG," and today I sat on the margins and ate leftover birthday cake and occasionally asked dumb questions or offered commentary, "MST3K"-style (especially during the smooth jazz sequence where fake-Picard asks Crusher to dine with him in his chambers…). Anyway, Worf was in today's episode. He eventually agreed to mutiny against the fake captain. Everybody lived.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    81 comments:

    chefwen 1:56 AM  

    Looks like everyone overdid the leftovers and went to bed early.

    A little on the tough side for me. Got the east coast without a problem, but fell apart on the west coast. In hindsight, I don't really know why, it just stayed blank for way too long. Also fell short on 51A as I'm not up on my historical residential hotels in Manhattan and filled n Astoria, thinking that felt a little more hotel like. BZZT, wrongo!

    Anyway, love Elizabeth Gorski puzzles (I know, I've said that before, but it's worth repeating), and this one was right up there.

    jae 2:26 AM  

    Medium for me too. NW and middle easy, SE medium, and SW and NE tough, so...medium over all.   SW was tough because @Rex I had ...SLEEP At all for too long.

    @Chefwen - me too for AstOrIA at first and liking Gorski puzzles...and Rex posted late. 

    Silas DEANE was how I found Rex.  When I first started doing crosswords over 10 years ago I used a crossword dictionary coupled with Google.  I was trying to come up DEANE in late 2006 when this blog came up....and the rest is.....

    As I said I liked the puzzle.  The grid design alone puts this in the plus column, and then there's the dearth of 3 letter dreck. 

    Moly Shu 2:28 AM  

    Stared at nothing for a long time then tentatively entered AMEBA only to take it out and put it back in 3 or 4 times. Tried HORSE, thought of STERNO which got me AGREETO and the NE fell. Then, stuck. EVENODDS guess got me going again and slowly finished. The ENTO, ENSOR, ERMAS area gave me the most trouble. SIgnSIN before SINKSIN, zAhn before PAAR and cAtAlAN before MALAYAN. Didn't know DEANE, EVEBEST or who or what King AROO is. I think I also tried OBAMitIs, although that may be more of an affliction. Maybe @WhirredWhacks can enlighten.

    When I finished, I really liked it. Challenging in a good way, and as usual, cool grid art. Thanks LG

    George Barany 2:33 AM  

    Looks like the holiday (and the accompanying tryptophan surge) is playing havoc with most everyone's sleep-wake cycle, @Rex included.

    Fun puzzle today by one of the best, @Liz Gorski. Out of 62 words in the grid, a full dozen are Shortz era debuts. Adding to that any number of clever and playful clues, several far from the usual, and the I_CAN'T_SLEEP_A_WINK crowd will be more than satisfied.

    Regardless of one's politics, it must be admitted that the incumbent vowel-rich president (and his two daughters) have been a great gift to the crossworld. According to xwordinfo.com, the 5-letter last name has been used 41x, and there are 16 additional uses, spanning 8 words or phrases, that incorporate the name [and clearly can be clued no other way, by contrast to a name/word like FORD].

    Anonymous 3:32 AM  

    Anybody else cross out "untrutH" for 8A HOGWASH?

    ENSOR was nearly a double Natick, but somehow it sounded better than ENtoR or iNtoR.

    Questinia 5:29 AM  
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    George G 7:14 AM  

    Great puzzle except DRIP for DRIB, never heard of BLINDER, and it was a double Natick at E/I-n-D/S/T-or. A little frustrating to breeze through a puzzle in 10-15 minutes and then get stuck by random obscurity that doesn't need to be there.

    Anonymous 7:15 AM  

    EVE is a 3-letter word.

    Susan McConnell 7:56 AM  

    Medium sounds about right. At first I was intimidated by all that white space, but I was able to plop down I CANT SLEEP A WINK and WEEKENDWARRIORS with confidence and took it from there. Hit a couple of snags along the way (DRIp and iRMA, among others) but no googling. Any time I can say that about a Saturday, I'm happy. Thanks, Ms Gorski!

    Doris 7:59 AM  

    Sheer coincidence, I'm sure, but the ANSONIA is written about and pictured in tomorrow's Sunday NY Times Real Estate section, which you can see online today. Many musical and other cultural celebrities have lived there over the years.

    Susan McConnell 8:09 AM  

    Almost forgot....it is impossible to see or hear the word DRESSAGE and not think of the hilarious Stephen Colbert bit.....I would have bet money a screen shot or link would have shown up in the blog.

    Here you go:
    here

    Loren Muse Smith 8:17 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Loren Muse Smith 8:19 AM  

    Aw, man. I guessed correctly at two personal Natickious crosses: AENEAS/DEANE and ASTER/BEST (Since she's unknown to me, "Eve Bost" would've worked, too, and I can never get the Aster/Astor thing straight.

    (Also, didn't Eve Nodds play Brooke Aster in that movie about the Waldorf Ansonia?)

    Anyway, I guessed wrong and had ENTOR/ANTONIA.

    @jae – I can't remember when I discovered this site, but I remember lurking for months, thinking it was a kind of salon with wicked smart people. In. Tim. I. Dat. Ing.

    Rex – I tried several times to say OBAMANIA out loud to figure out where the stress would go.

    "Teats" before TWITS, but it was kind of half-heartedly filled in; I knew it would be coming out. So which group would you want to join – TWITS or MENIALS?

    HORSE, DRESSAGE, BLINDER. . . I always feel bad for horses with blinders on. And falcons with those hoods on. Also - a spray you pin on a dress (after a gazillion tries with that long pin) should be dressage, right?

    My husband committed a sink sin recently when he poured some chicken grease down the drain (we're on well and septic), insisting it was ok because he used a lot of really hot water and a lot of detergent. Hogwash.

    Elizabeth – I did a quick check when I saw the grid to see if it was one of those magic square tricks you did a while back. I liked this one! What's @M&A gonna do with no weejects? (I guess note the sole U?) Nice job, as usual.

    Smitty 8:20 AM  

    @GeorgeG - me too. BLINDERS are on cart horses. Racehorses use BLINKERS.
    Today was easy for me b/c guessing went the right way for a change.
    ...except for ANSONIA (had ASTORIA) which was painful, even for a native.

    Anonymous 8:29 AM  

    Excellent puzzle. Something for everyone. Geography, languages, redirects, religion, meta/micro, NYC trivia, idiomatic expressions, science, fictional characters, a blast from TV's past, musicians, and who doesn't love a puzzle that includes the word "sterno."

    Like Rex, I have noticed over time the puzzles have leveled off. It's nobody's fault, and this isn't a criticism. I think a lot of it has to do with the computerization of the construction. Need a 7-letter word for the ancient lost city capital of Rextolia? Easy! Just look it up.

    In a way, eliminating the three-letter words raises the bar on the quality of the puzzles. So here's my idea. The "later in the week" puzzles could be "no 3-letter words" just as the puzzle itself is "no 2-letter words."

    Thoughts?

    Zippy.

    NCA President 8:45 AM  

    I have a herky jerky system when it comes to solving late week puzzles...but I know that a foothold is a foothold, so I look for plurals, comparisons (-ER, -EST), past tense verbs, etc. But every once in a while I get a long answer as from a vision. I hear a choir and see bright lights. 4D was one of those times. I just knew I had it. Well, sometimes those miraculous moments are wrong. IhaveSLEEPApnea fits perfectly. After filling that in I had that smug feeling you get when you feel like you've outsmarted the xword puzzle gods and catapults firmly into the upper 10 percentile of xword solvers. I held on to that answer for a very long time. What's more, I had real life corroboration: I have a friend who just had a sleep test done and she was diagnosed with apnea and she had been sleeping terribly.

    My second "I have it!" moment that turned out to be wrong was sEquOia instead of REDWOOD. That, too, I held on to for a very long time.

    My third "I have it!" was AstOrIA...I mean it's famous because it has a salad named after it, no?

    That said, I finally finished in a normal Saturday time, for me...but it was slow going in some places.

    Loss of wonder 9:07 AM  

    @Zippy (anon 8:29) Years ago, I too, had problems completing many puzzles. Now, with the lowering of quality over the Shortzian Era, I too can complete almost all puzzles unaided.

    Danp 9:10 AM  

    Like @lms, I wrote in TEATS though I couldn't imagine Liz Gorsky going there. Somehow, when the E turned into a W, I never revisited the constructor's sensibility.

    chefbea 9:32 AM  

    Googled a lot and finally finished the puzzle
    Hand up for Astoria!!
    And do not understand 23 across - quads =sibs???

    johnnymcguirk 9:32 AM  

    Imagine, New York City provincialism in a NYTimes puzzle. Might as well decry American provincialism for the Continental Congress delegate clue.

    Sir Hillary 9:43 AM  

    I found this one really crunchy, but what a great puzzle it is. RATSO led me to make pretty quick work of the center, but each corner took a while after that.

    Wonderful clues for ORDAIN, DEICERS and VETO.

    EVENODDS is one of my favorite oxyTWITS.

    Tita 9:54 AM  

    Aaaw...y'all mean that I'm not getting smarter, the puzzles are getting dumber?

    @lms - John Jacob AStOr was from Waldorf, Germany, and made his fortune with beaver pelts - not by selling ASter CORSAGEs.
    Next time you're in town for the ACPT, take the 6 line to the AStOr Place station in the Village - the subway tiles there have beaver bas-reliefs!

    Don't the plurals HAGS and SIBS count as three letter words with PoCs?

    I liked this puzzle plenty, having a rare bout of not SLEEPingAWINK.

    Partly because of the syncronicity of learning about the ANSONIA (I have lived in the NY area most of my life and had never heard of it), since on Tuesday my visiting Portuguese cousins treated my sister and I to a limo ride through Manhattan. I pointed out the Dakota - everyone said 'Where, where?" I said "There, there", pointing to the building that until that day I had thought was the Dakota. On Tuesday, all I learned is that it is not. Today, I learn what it is - and that it is much more interesting than the Dakota. Thanks Liz & Rex!

    And...Bring back roof-top farming!

    Casco Kid 9:57 AM  

    97 minutes. 10 errors. As remarkable as it was that I could even finish this puzzle, it is more remarkable that I could finish complete-grid with 10 errors.
    DRIp/pLINDER (credible guesses)
    REveLING/RAvE/ERvAS (ERvAS not worse than ENTO)
    ANtONIA/ENtOR (good guesses)
    AENEid/DEiNE/INdO (my bad, here)

    And some odd looking rightness:
    [Inner opening?] ENTO? As in entomology? But not ENdO as in endoscope, endocytose, endoplasmic reticulum? Hmmm.

    [Spray on a dress] CORSAGE? Deet didn't fit.

    To Elizabeth's credit, the puzzle was Berryesque insofar as the next answer never felt more than one moment of clarity away. But PB1's clues are much more carefully hewn. These clues spray inference like buckshot.

    Anonymous 10:01 AM  

    @chefbea. Quads like twins or triplets are siblings. I did not understand MASC for Italian "bread".

    Really thought puzzle was great. Fun solve all around. Unlike @LMS or @Danp, I went with TataS, also knowing it would never work. But it made me smile.

    Danp 10:06 AM  

    @Anonymous - bread in Italian is pane, which is masculine.

    JC66 10:07 AM  

    If you go that route, other 3 letter words:

    HOG

    ILL

    RED

    SIN

    SIT

    INK

    END

    RAT

    AGE

    ONE

    I apologize if I missed any.

    joho 10:14 AM  

    @chef Bea, quads like triplets or twins are SIBS.

    I crashed and burned in the NW. Actually had waItERS before DEICERS at one point!

    Great puzzle, Ms. Gorski ... ss usual!

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

    Felt Medium for me.

    One write-over I didn't see anyone else mention: At 30 A, "Cry at a revival," I had I'M CURED before I'M SAVED.

    And, alas, finished with one wrong letter, EVE BOST instead of BEST. I'll attribute that to carelessness, since ASTOR looks good if you fail to check the clue.

    (Sorry, @Tita, we won't be using the NYC subway at this season's ACPT. It will be held in Stamford, CT.)

    joho 10:20 AM  

    FWIW, the only way it sounds right to me is OBAMAMANIA.

    AliasZ 10:26 AM  
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    AliasZ 10:29 AM  


    Sir Edmund Hillaby and Tenzing Nobgay were the first to Mount EVEBEST (1953).

    I can barely DEAL WITH all the REGALING I endured for the last couple of days. My brain is functioning at 38.79% capacity, thus this was tough going at the beginning. My first entry was ABER, because I was hesitant to enter GREENER, GREEDIER, AGREE TO in the NE. It seemed out of character to see the cluster of GREEs up there, plus SEEKERS and WEEKEND. HOGWASH was the word that came to my mind.

    In the SE it was AGE: RAGE, DRESSAGE, CORSAGE, in the NW it was two ADM's crossing, and a cluster of I's. But then during the process of deconstructing some of the wicked clues in DRIBS and drabs ('Giant with a big trunk' my favorite), I started to enjoy the pulse of these rhythmically repetitive letter patterns more and more.

    I find it funny that ODD EVENS doesn't make any sense, but EVEN ODDS does.

    Did I dislike this puzzle? No. Am I sure? I am sure. I SAID NO, didn't I? In fact, I loved it despite AMEBA, AROO, ERMAS, SSNS, ONEI, MASC and ENTO.

    James ENSOR (1860-1949) was a fascinating Belgian avant-garde artist, worth checking out.

    Once a residential hotel, The ANSONIA is an historic landmark of the NYC skyline. Its residents included Arturo Toscanini, Igor Stravinsky, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Enrico Caruso, Feodor Chaliapin, Ezio Pinza, et al. In the late 1970's its basement was home to the notorious Plato's Retreat until Mayor Koch shut it down in 1980. Let's celebrate its history with this collaboration of two of its one-time residents in the ballet Petrushka.

    Elizabeth Gorski, I ADMIRES you.

    Whirred Whacks 10:33 AM  

    Always nice to see AENEAS as an answer (with a Saturday-caliber clue: "Lieutenant of Hector in the Iliad").

    Rex: OBAMAMANIA was a real phenomenon six years ago. The media especially bit hard led by Chris Matthews. He here is (with Keith Olberman):
    "I felt this thrill going up my leg."

    [ Disclosure: I didn't catch it. :-) ]

    Enjoy your weekends! I'm looking forward to the much-needed rain in NorCal.

    Z 10:36 AM  

    Let's see - NE was easy, NW and central were easy-medium, SE was challenging and SW was challenginger.

    Getting WEEKEND WARRIORS and OGRE were enough to make the NE acrosses obvious. I didn't come up with DEANE, but once he appeared he was obvious, too. It was the "Connecticut" that threw me off. If you had asked me before the solve, "Silas DEANE was a delegate for which state?" I would have offered Pennsylvania or New York.

    With the NW giving me -RW- and 2008 giving me an O from my guess at OBAMA---, THREE LETTER WORD seemed obvious. Hand up for AstOrIA, having no clue on ENSOR, and wondering why, of all the ERMAS in history, we get a deep cut clue of Aretha's late sister. I worked that out, but this family's resident insomniac says, "I CAN"T SLEEP." Boxing? Joe Louis, Ali, and Joe Frazier pretty much is it. "Giant" had to be sports, "little purée" had to be a sauce. My church had pastors, not fathers. So even with DORN, EVEN ODDS, MOPE, and I SAID NO all being there from the first pass I had to take a DNF and google the Brawl in Montreal. Having takeS IN did not help, since it made me doubt BLINDER.

    A fun Saturday tussle.

    Anonymous 10:49 AM  

    How is the ONE in ONEI not a THREELETTERWORD? I get that it's not a three letter _answer_ but surely it's a word, right?

    This genuinely threw me for a bit. Am I being too literal? Missing something?

    Mohair Sam 10:58 AM  

    Learned today that sequoia and REDWOOD are both 7 letter words.

    Only gimme was RATSO. Stared at that for 15 minutes, mentioned to my wife that the puzzle had a lot of white space and, by gosh, no THREELETTERWORDS. Everything grew from there, steadily, corner by corner. Played medium - might have been on the easy side if sequoia had an extra letter.

    Some horse people might argue that a BLINDER is tack, not harness. Some will argue otherwise. Best named piece of horse equipment is the "can't-see-back" which is a more open blinder (or blinker, btw) which stops a horse from seeing back.

    Great Saturday Ms. Gorski, thank you.

    Maruchka 11:01 AM  

    On the boobs question: I was hoping for TATAS.

    Great to have Ms. Gorski on an overcast Saturday, loved the whiteness. ADMITS TO before IT messed up the NW awhile, and wanted Sequoia for REDWOOD, but the Q was not working. Also had Chelsea for ANSONIA - scratch out..

    "THREE LETTER WORDS, oh what I'd give ... to hear those THREE LETTER WORDS"...

    Fave of the day - DRESSAGE.

    @LMS - Love HORSEs, hate BLINDERS, too. But they're not nearly as bad as the mouth bits and reins used in training.

    @CascoK - You pinpointed the Berry/Gorski duality for my favorite puzzlers. Thanks!

    @Leapy - Re: yesterday. Persimmons are heaven-sent, I think.

    Masked and AnonymoUs 11:13 AM  

    It's a weeject.
    Nothin but no weejects.
    Hits U when it's too late.
    Hits U when the U's are down.

    It's a fool's game.
    Nothin but a pewit's game.
    Standin in the cold rain
    Feelin like a clown.

    It ain't right with desperation to share
    When you find they don't care for U.
    It ain't wise to weeject every one
    Of the lil darlins 'cept for one of them U's.

    Oh, it's a weeject.
    Nothin but no weejects.
    Love em til yer arms break,
    Then they let U down...

    M&A

    **themeless gruntz with U's & weejects**

    retired_chemist 11:15 AM  

    Using an old laptop with a window side that kept clues and answers from both being visible at the same time (I am sure there is a fix but I didn't find it yet) slowed me down a lot. Can't really tell how easy/hard this was but it felt kinda medium.

    Lots of fun answers, no c**p IMO. Bravo, Ms. Gorski.

    retired_chemist 11:18 AM  

    zoom out works but the print is pretty small. bah.

    mathguy 11:36 AM  

    I called in The Closer in the early innings and she came up with WEEKENDWARRIORS and ADMITSIT. That set it up for me.

    The clue for MASC is one of the worst I've ever seen ("Like Italian 'bread' ...).

    I never thought about it before, but I suppose that Rex is correct in saying that three letter words make solving easier.

    @Susan Mc Connell: Thanks for the Steven Colbert clip. Hilarious.

    Bill Butler had a quote from Jack Paar's NYT obit. Something like "Jack Paar divided late-night television into two eras, Before Paar and Below Paar."

    Here in San Francisco, a group of demonstrators harassed shoppers and broke windows in the Union Square area last night. The front page of the Chronicle has a picture of one of the leaders. It shows a black man yelling into a bull horn. He identifies himself as belonging to the Revolution Club.

    Nancy 11:40 AM  

    A lively and challenging puzzle that I liked a lot and finished, though I struggled a bit with the NW. No obscure facts, just a bunch of accessible words and phrases, cleverly clued. A few nits though. To me, LIKING and ADMIRING (see 1A) are two entirely different things. You can like something you don't particularly admire (Project Runway, say) and you can admire something that you don't particularly like (vegan diets).
    I also (as an insomniac) wouldn't say I CAN'T SLEEP A WINK. I would say I DIDN'T SLEEP A WINK or I CAN'T FALL ASLEEP. But still a real nice puzzle.

    Teedmn 11:47 AM  

    Wow, this puzzle whipped my butt - in a good way - footholds were long in coming, I fell for most of the misdirections and double Naticked at ANSONIA/ENTO/ENSOR. I haven't worked this hard on a Saturday for ages. The only gimmes were ONEI and SSNS. 50A seemed to need NO at the end so that gave DORN, then REDWOOD. This made SIGNSIN look wrong which lead to SINKSIN. Now we're getting somewhere.

    4d became mostly obvious but couldn't decide, is it I CAN'T, I WON'T or DIDN'T? This uncertainty left the NW in flux for a long time.

    Had MiNIonS in for MENIALS several times and just couldn't make it work but OBAMANIA fixed that. (Hands up for muttering that to myself a few times to no avail.) I Had my best Aha moment with CORSAGE. Several Googles, at DEANE and one to confirm MALAYAN. Had PlowERS for DEICERS when 4d was I WoN'T, which made 1D spillSIT.

    dolTS became louTS, became TEaTS. As I was changing TeaTS to TWITS, it transformed briefly into an even less NY Times-friendly word which made me laugh. This puzzle is the kind of mental workout I always hope for on Saturday - thanks, Ms. Gorski.

    mac 11:55 AM  

    Medium for me too, and the West harder than the East.

    I noticed an awful lot of esses as I went along, but also plenty of great words. Horse above dressage is nice, but I don't like blinders much either.

    Another old and renowned residential hotel is the Chelsea on 23rd St. I think it's being redone, I wonder what happened to the longterm inhabitants.

    Anonymous 12:03 PM  

    Nice puzzle. Especially liked the "Kings of Leon" clue ( where is your music video of the band?) and the lack of typical crappy three letter xword fill.

    Easy for a Saturday.

    Rex, you are getting grumpier and grumpier about every puzzle, even the good ones.

    evil doug 12:12 PM  

    Spray on a [blue] dress?
    splooGE.

    Clintonmania!

    Evil

    Anoa Bob 12:13 PM  

    Aren't POCs versatile? Want to claim there's no THREELETTERWORD in the grid? As @Tita points out, just tack on an "S" to HAGS & SIBS. Oh, and there's also ERAS & SSNS. (SSNS & SSTS are in the POC Hall of Shame, not only for being plurals themselves, but also for providing the final esses for up to three more.)

    dls 12:43 PM  

    Funny, I'm surprised that Rex liked this as well as he did. I'm not normally as grumpy as Rex but I just hated this puzzle.

    First: why are you giving the puzzle a pass for having "I CAN'T", "I SAID", and "I'M" in the same grid?

    Second: the fill in the SE corner is dreadful. Intersecting NIAs next to intersecting INGs next to intersecting AGEs, plus another 'AGE' in RAGE, plus the proper name intersections of ENSOR with ERMAS and ANSONIA (the latter obscure and totally unexciting).

    Third: the NE is pretty lame too, with five double-E's and both GREENER and GREEDIER.

    Fourth: the NW is not quite as bad as the other two, but there's not a whole lot to love with SSNS, ERAS, SIBS, ITAL, plus a pair of 'ADM's emanating from square 1.

    Finally: the EVE of EVE BEST is most definitely a three-letter word, so the theme is not quite correctly executed.

    Way too many compromises to make this worthwhile.

    Dls 1:01 PM  

    Also ONE I: a second 3-letter word and a fourth I!

    Dirigonzo 1:10 PM  

    Somehow I managed to get all three grid-spanners with very few crosswords in place so then I just cruised along plugging in the shorter stuff, mostly going bottom to top. VETO was my last word in and favorite clue/answer. In the end, though, I chose wrong on iRMA and ANtONIA and so came up short. But hey, it's Saturday so getting even close to a perfect finish is close enough for me.

    Z 1:32 PM  

    @dls - Normally I'd be right with you, but those -INGs and SSNS and heavy vowel words were footholds in lieu of the more typical THREE LETTER WORD footholds.

    As for the whole "I found a THREE LETTER WORD" thing, I have but one three letter word response: CMI.

    John V 1:46 PM  

    Saturday's don't get any better than waking up to Gorski AND Chen. Life is good.

    Arlene 2:07 PM  

    Personal best Saturday for me - finished with no Googling and only two incorrect squares (names). I'm thrilled, but not that surprised, as it's a Gorski puzzle, and my brain likes her clues.

    Mette 2:10 PM  

    Really liked it, though a DNF. Confused White House adviser Vernon Jordan with someone named Block, so my comic was King AROn. This, after changing ICANTgettosleep. Got ENSOR off the first letter due to Tyler Hinman's AV puzzle this week (which I recommend), though the They Might Be Giants lyrics were not helpful. Actually, ENSOR crossed VETO. Duh.
    Thanks @Susan McConnell. Will never be able to watch dressage again without hearing the Beach Boys.

    Ludyjynn 2:15 PM  

    When I saw Liz Gorski's name atop the puzz., I said, I'MSAVED! on a Saturday. Alas, my vulgar answer for 21A was TWATS, which I should have known wouldn't make the cut, but lately there have been some pretty racy words...so a technical DNF by one letter, RATSo.

    Lots of writeovers: Tyson before DURAN, dawnson before SINKSIN, waiters before DEICERS, all resolved eventually by crosses.

    Who the hell is ERMA Franklin?
    @Z, what does CMI mean?

    INSO many words, thanks, ECG and WS.

    Ludyjynn 2:21 PM  

    Never mind, just Googled her...no surprise, Aretha's sister; duh.

    Lewis 2:34 PM  

    Oh my gosh, I loved this one. The most important determinant of a puzzle's likability to me is "How did the solve go?" This was one of those where I just went on faith that if I didn't succumb to cheating I would solve it, and it worked me hard, but strained nothing. It was a total joy. The cluing was such (for me) that there were just enough toeholds, and then in DRIBS and drabs, more became clear. Aren't those the best?

    I loved the clues to VETO, CORSAGE, MASC, STERNO, SIBS, and ORDAIN. As lively answers, I liked IMSAVED, ICANTSLEEPAWINK, HOGWASH, EVENODDS, RATSO, WEEKENDWARRIORS, AND REGALING.

    Mini theme of words that end in O -- eight. Second mini theme of words with double E's -- seven. And you can equally see ERAS as a dressed up three-letter word, or simply a four letter word, so why don't we give Ms. Gorski the benefit of the doubt here, for heavens sakes! Hardly anything current, yet the puzzle doesn't feel rusty.

    Bravo, Elizabeth!

    M and Also 2:39 PM  

    p.s.
    Was ultimately soothed a bit, by the desperation of...
    * ERMAS. Known as OTRAS, to Spanish friends.
    * MASC & ENTOnymous. All to save ENSOR & ANSONIA, in that SE corner. Primo.
    * AROO. Pretty funky, but I really like the sound of AMEBAROO. Have a 9-month old grandnephew that sorta moves like one of them.
    * SSNS. Plural abbr. of convenience, and honorary weeject emeritus.
    * ABER. Solid, but better clue would hafta be: "Singer McEntire making a comeback??" New Years Times resolution: use the double-?? in at least one clue per month. Ease er in, dudes.

    M&A

    p.p.s.s.
    thUmbsUp to hedgin it on the themed/themeless vibe, and for HOGWASH. Thanx, Lizabeth darlin.

    OISK 2:54 PM  

    Well, after exactly 5 weeks, I get a pop culture DNF. Never heard of Erma Franklin, and on a 50-50, lost out by writing Irma. Bad guess, though; Ensor just looks better than Insor. Otherwise, not bad, but with Eve Best, Michael Dorn, Erma Franklin, there was just one too many… Glad to see that many others also Naticked on Irma-Erma...

    Z 2:56 PM  

    @ludyjynn - How soon we forget Monday's dreck. With less Obtusity - In CrossWorld CMI is a three letter word for 901 while SIBS and HAGS are four-letter words. People who's nit is that there are three letter words in this puzzle are at significant risk of having their CrossWorld Visas revoked. AMANDA, Natick Chief of Security, has been notified. A few U-Rhos's under the table have been known to persuade AM&A to look the other way, though.

    Lewis 3:03 PM  

    Factoid: DRESSAGE is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet"; it's sequential training system has changed little since the Renaissance. (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "The REDWOODs, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time." -- John Steinbeck

    Lewis 3:06 PM  

    @m&a -- loved your clue for ABER

    Leapfinger 3:40 PM  

    More to give thanks for -OR- More for which to give thanks! This was a fun set of Quads, eg., but sadly, the centerpiece revolved around a THREELETTERWORD, and was therefore mostly sub-PAAR. Only La Gorski could make such work so well,along with the likes of the ABER, the Georger and the Alexander we find on the GREENER folding money. I must say that in the past few days, I've seen some young ladies who looked as if they did, in fact,'spray on a dress'. We've had both WEEKEND WARRIORS and WEEKEND Worriers, what with delayed arrivals,unscheduled early departures and changes of venue, yet somehow we muddled through from feast to feast.

    Note: Sir Edmund H. was ever grateful to Tenzing Nobgay for ascending himMALAYAN.

    re the solve, it probably helped that I had just been the DEICER of a massively froze-over windshield; and I'm sure a discussion on how to pronounce "My ANtONIA" helped ANSONIA to emerge.

    Favourite Quad to solve was the SW, which I also started with SEQUOIA. The interesting thing is that, even though it was wrong, it led to MUESLI (which my mom used to make for me) and to EVENODDS, and thus opened the section. Isn't it clever of La Gorski to clue so that even mistakes help the solve?

    Also like that ORDAIN, a 'transition to fatherhood', was not about BEGETting, but a return to priestification. One more way for ECG to SINK SIN...

    WoMENIALS liked the total absence of MOPEry, whether THREE-LETTERe or no.

    Last Silver Sinker 3:43 PM  

    @muse: I'm gonna hafta give yer hubby special discompensation, on his sink dumpin choice. A lil chicken fat mixed with warm, soapy water oughta slide right on thru, in theory. Einstein's First Law of Sink Relativity, darlin.

    Top things to dump down the kitchen sink for the holidays...
    * Toy stuffed animal. My neighbor had grandkids that would do this once every visit. I think they specialized in powder room toilets, tho. Put the day-um plumber's son thru college.
    * Budgie. Actually, this was kinda more a comedy-of-errors accident. But... will really clean out the sink trap, before comin back up (rather indignant like) for air.
    * Tater peelins. Forms a primordial ball, down there. Balls are known to grow big enough to spit Drano out with a snarl.
    * Celery stalks. Now, here you'da thought the fiber would be kinda cleansin...? Ow contray-ur, Pierre. Allow m&e to show U my extensive display of celery string knots, sometime.
    * Completed crosswords. Here, results vary, dependin on fill.
    * Eyeglasses. Especially awesome, if occurs while disposal is chuggin away. First time ever for seein sparks laced with mac & cheese.

    See, @muse? Musehubby's experiment, tho a nice modest first attempt, is surely not Nobel prize material. Ease up, girl.

    But, I digress.

    M&A

    Carola 5:48 PM  

    Wonderful puzzle and comments. Challenging for me, came together in DRIBS and drabs. Moment of false pride: the Chelsea Hotel (Hi, @Maruchka), which I felt so in the know about after reading Patti Smith's Just Kids about her and Robert Mapplethorpe's residing there. Moment of wounded pride: seeing that I didn't know how to spell AENEiS (so why isn't it The Aenead? Just kidding.)

    Roo Monster 6:03 PM  

    Hey All !
    Wondered wny so many POCs ay first, ah, no THREELETTERWORDs.

    Neat puz.

    Short-N-Sweet.

    RooMonster
    DarrinV

    mathguy 7:26 PM  

    @Lewis: Loved your Steinbeck quote. What a poet he was!

    Zeke 9:09 PM  

    @Lewis DRESSAGE has changed a great deal since the Renaissance. The horses used, excepting the Spanish Riding School, have changed greatly in their ability to perform various moves, and thus the specific movements and relative importance have changed with them. A significant proportion of the Renaissance dressage movemets have fallen by the wayside.

    I doubt anyone involved in DRESSAGE would recoginize the term PASSADE, other than historians of the sport. There is only one movement in the current FEI or USDF tests which approximates this, the Halt, Rein-Back, Walk, Halt. You know what people call that? The Rein-back. The don't call it the PASSADE. PASSADE is a huge anacronism which is unknown to what I would guess was 99.9% of DRESSAGE riders.

    ZenMonkey 12:01 AM  

    More Fridays and Saturdays like this one please.

    In fact can we just permanently assign Berry to one and Gorski to the other?

    SPCA Prez 12:43 AM  

    I've seen the Lippizanner Stallions, and absolutely despise that horses have been trained to do something so blatantly unnatural,just because some effete taste has deemed that desirable.

    I rank that with the choice to breed dogs and cats with snouts too flattened for normal breathing, or a pelvis too narrow to deliver young. Animals shouldn't be sacrificed on the altar of Style.

    Anonymous 8:30 AM  

    Plopped down DEICERS and MALAYAN and the entire grid started to fall into my hands with little hang-ups...DNF after the oddly clued MASC then ANSONIA/ERMA/ENTO/ENSOR seemed rather Natickulous.

    Zeke 9:16 AM  

    @SPCA Prez - Every single move the Lippizanner Stallions do is perfectly natural. These are moves they would do in the wild, in a herd. They're just trained to do them on command.

    I agree with the abomination of breeding animals unable to survive naturally, but the two activities are not comparable.

    jberg 11:47 AM  

    I woke up in Provincetown, and didn't find the paper with the puzzle until about 9 PM when I got home, so I'm commenting pretty late.

    I liked this puzzle a lot, but I liked it even more before I finally gave in and put ONE I in for 46D. I mean, ONE is a three-letter word. I guess EVE is, as well, but I thought of the name as all one thing. Knowing that there were not three-letter words helped me see that it was I CAN'T SLEEP A WINK and not ... AT ALL. If it had been no THREE LETTER ANSWERS, or something like that, I wouldn't have minded. But that would be too long for the grid.

    sEquoia before REDWOOD; ORDeal before ORDAIN (why do I know of priests?), stingIER before GREEDIER.

    What I learned today: ENSOR was about 50 years earlier than I would have guessed.

    pb 4:32 PM  

    SE corner was a problem; did not know Ansonia and had reveling for regaling. Otherwise, I was challenged enough to feel good about solving the rest.

    Sorry to comment so late; I am usually a few days behind in getting the puzzles.

    spacecraft 12:38 PM  

    Right back on the HORSE! After numerous brainfarts in recent days, I said "IMSAVED!" upon doing this one.

    Not without a double-natick guess, though. Was it ERMA or IRMA? ANtONIA or ANSONIA? ENSOR ENTOR INSOR INTOR???? I finally decided ENSOR looked a tad more like a real name than the other three. (Whew!) A double-natick with a triple-obscurity. Oh, don't get on me about a Grammy nomination. I haven't followed music at all after 1990. Slim pickin's from then on. Anyway, a regrettable flag for that, and I'll toss in SSNS gratis, so I can say the rest of it was "as cool as the other side of the pillow."

    Gotta love a grid with the DORNster. And WARRIOR even appears!!

    196: Ptach!

    rondo 2:09 PM  

    I asked for it, and I got it. A puzzle with no THREELETTERWORDs for answers. NOT easy nor even medium, probably more than an hour of solving bliss, and worth every minute!
    Remembered my German "but" and with the plural SS got the theme and the WEEKENDWARRIORS and spread out from there. Had Atall for AWINK until the aha moment came with REDWOOD.
    @spacey - I also had your same dilemma(s)and solution.
    Really, really, really liked this puz. Imagine it will be a loooong time until the next one with no 3s.
    Hope this SINKSIN to other constructors.

    Captcha = nonsensical jumble

    rondo 2:13 PM  

    My comment box gets jumpy and even deletes some stuff. With the R from ABER and the esses I got DRESSAGE, then on to the theme . . .

    DMG 2:26 PM  

    This one was a real brain teaser for me. Think I hit every wrong answer experienced by others. However, by DRIBS and dabs, and a few "oho's" I finally put in that E and finished! Real hold-ups along the way were untrutH, sequOia, and not really knowing where Brunei is. Oh, and also deciding MASC was the only word that fit! Sometimes you just luck out!

    Someone needs to explain again how these photographed house numbers solve deciphering thing.

    185. yuk

    Waxy in Montreal 4:51 PM  

    Despite an ENSOR, ENTO, ANSONIA DNF in the SE, thought this was a fair Saturday offering spoilt by some weak cluing and fill. The lack of three-letter words unfortunately left us with many less-than-stellar four-letter ones: MASC (terrible clue), AROO, SSNS, ENTO, ITAL among others.

    Also, DRIPS and PLINDERS seemed fine at the time as did MINIONS rather than MENIALS and had the STINGIER, STRONGER and STURDIER triumvirate before GREEDIER.

    And who's EVE BEST anyhow?

    House number = 4040 which in my programming days just meant blanks.

    longbeachlee 9:11 PM  

    Why is bread in Italian "bread" in quotes? Completely misleading imho.

    Joe in Montreal in syndication 5:53 PM  

    Is it pane or lire? The latter would explain the quotation marks. In either case I agree, the worst clue I've ever seen.

    Gregory Schmidt 2:53 AM  

    Three Naticks for me. REYES/MALAYAN, DEANE/AENEAS and of course ERMA/ENSOR. Yeesh.

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