German-born photographer Barth / SAT 1-24-15 / Hungarian liqueur sold in green bottles / Traditional Japantown feature / Ancient Moorish palace in Granada / Meaningful language unit / Ohio university nicknamed Big Red

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Easy



THEME: none

Word of the Day: UNICUM (17A: Hungarian liqueur sold in green bottles) —
Unicum is a Hungarian herbal liqueur or bitters, drunk as a digestif and apéritif. The liqueur is today produced by Zwack according to a secret formula of more than forty herbs; the drink is aged in oak casks. During Communism in Hungary, the Zwack family lived in exile in New Yorkand Chicago, and Unicum in Hungary was produced using a different formula. Before moving to the US Janos Zwack had entrusted a family friend in Milan with the production of Unicum based on the original recipe. After the fall of communism, Péter Zwack returned to Hungary and resumed production of the original Unicum.
Unicum is regarded as one of the national drinks of Hungary. The production facility offers tours which include a tasting session of the three different varieties (Unicum, Unicum Next, and Millenicum). Though Millenicum was a special edition, it can still be found at a few retailers. It is somewhat stronger than the original, with a slightly sweeter aftertaste. Zwack Frissitők is a pineapple-based version of the drink. According to the manufacturer, the original Unicum is no longer distributed in the US, having been replaced by Unicum Next (a sweeter, thinner-bodied drink with a more prominent citrus flavour), re-branded as "Zwack". (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow, this one was easy. Wicked easy. I was going to track my progress through the puzzle, with periodic grid snapshots, but no interesting patterns emerged because my solve was smooth and very nearly unbroken. I can describe it very simply: start in NW and get everything but fail to move into the center because STUDIO??? and HOME … GAMES, maybe (no). So restart with ALA / AWE, and from there, just finish the whole puzzle in one big swoop—across the NE, down to the -HIRT in LOSE ONE'S SHIRT, which lets you pick up STUDIO SET (aha) and HOME MATCH (a haha), and then DETECTIVE WORK and KIDS THESE DAYS become unmistakable, then LED ASTRAY and DIVE INTO down into that SW, then SEDATIVES and SWAN'SNECK, maybe (yes), down into that SE corner, which is done in about ten seconds (not much exaggeration). Never even saw the nutso clue on UTA (42A: German-born photographer Barth). Speaking of nutso, UNICUM. In a supremely easy puzzle, that thing is a crazy outlier. Definition (as clued) didn't even show up on a straight-up google search of [UNICUM]. Apparently there are *other* definitions of UNICUM that google thinks I want to know more (including Urban Dictionary's, which … you don't want to know; let's just say it involves unicorns…). I had to add "Hungary" to the search to get this alleged "liqueur." Not great answer with obscure clue, which is weird, because a. it didn't make the puzzle much harder at all, and b. the rest of the grid is not only filled with much more familiar terms, it's just much better overall. This is a very clean, non-gunky grid. Had we ditched the UNICUM and toughened up the cluing quite a bit, we'd be in near-ideal Saturday territory.


It all starts from ALA / AWE, though. When I look back, it's that moment that propels me into the grid. Not sure where I'd've gotten into the grid if not there. Hard to imagine a path not taken. Maybe ELLY / SKYLIT. Maybe EVA / DIVE INTO. But neither of those crossings is positioned for maximum grid leverage. ALA / AWE sits at the front ends of a bunch of words in that quadrant. Got WELD and ETHEL immediately and then swoosh, off I went. Wouldn't have been able to push off with the same force if I'd started other places. My first entries were actually, as I said earlier, in the NW: HAS / YENTA, weirdly enough. That gave me MY WORD at 1A: "I swear …", which was fantastically wrong, but the "O" was right, and it gave me ON CD, which confirmed STUDDED, so MY WORD didn't mess me up for long. Only other errors I had were DEFACER for DEFILER, a misspelled VELURE ("velour"), and … yep, that's it. No, wait, I did have HOME GAMES before HOME MATCH. But IMED (one of the few less-than-great answers) set me right.

["Lithuanians and Letts [!] do it …"]

Hope those who normally struggle with Saturdays had some success today. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

112 comments:

jae 12:04 AM  

This was definitely a mix for me.  SW and NE easy, NW and SE medium and the center tough because it took me a while to let go of HOME games and see LOAVES and DEVOTES.  Growing up in Ohio and having a friend go to DENISON (I'm a Kenyon grad), on the other hand, helped.   So, medium over all?

Only WOE was UNICUM so remembering GAIUS also helped.

Really wanted ONE D(imensional) for 4d but then I'd have to start yelling at the kids on my lawn.

BY GOSH a fine Sat.  Liked it!

Nancy Klein 12:13 AM  

Once again, the complete opposite of Rex. Yesterday's was very easy, today's quite hard for me.

Charlene 12:45 AM  

Torii? What does that have to do with whatever a "Japantown" is?

Uni Cum 1:02 AM  

Greetings fellow Earthings!

I am UniCum!

Perhaps you've heard of me... Quite the Superhero I am indeed!

Oh, I know you all get sidetracked by Batman and Superman and yada, yada, yada... But let's think about that- Batman- what's his superpower? NOTHING! He has toys and a silly costume! Superman? He freaks out at a silly green substance! Kryptonite schmiptonite I always say!

Anyway, I'm delighted to be making my debut here in the NEW YORK TIMES! I know you're just as excited as I am- or not- to be honest, I can only remember being this excited only once before.

It was epic.

So many lives were saved... and created...

But I digress- I was just going to tell you about my superpower after living so many years in the shadows and I-

Wait, what?

They clued me as a Hungarian liqueur?!?!?!

Shit.

Google! 1:10 AM  

Searching the internet for the meaning of a word usually works pretty easily.

Fert Felony 1:34 AM  

I should probably lighten up, but this puzzle was very very hard for me and frustrating and then I come over here and Rex can't say enough times how easy it was. I am filled with hate and rage.

The clue for IMED - "Reached quickly, quickly?"

What does that clue even mean? I know what IMED is but that clue is infuriatingly stupid - am I missing something?

Also, HOME MATCH. wtf. I was sure it was HOME FIELD. I've never heard HOME MATCH ever EVER and I'm a sports junkie.

This puzzle just made me mad, and I can usually finish Saturday. Thx Rex for making me feel worse.

Uni Cum 1:41 AM  

@Fert Have no fear, I'm also feeling a bit dejected at the moment.

U.C.

Casco Kid 2:07 AM  

ZWACK! Total shutdown here. Rather like yesterday, I was 30 mins in and staring at a handful of solutions. Ohio college: oberliN crossing NUTS, so it had to be right. [Red state? ] Broke. [Hungarian liqueur] zwack...k ? zwaeck? zwacke? It's ZWACK_, dammit, with an empty box rebus.[ Begin eagerly] haVEatit. [Like motorcycle jackets] leather.

How does [Brace] mean TWO?

[Cushiony fabric] velcro, then fleece, then VELour. I have no idea what VELORE is.

[I swear] BYjove or BYGOd with another empty rbus box.
[Dazzle] AcE

I had far less confidence in ADMIX than in any of the wrong answers above.

Final tally: 31 errors in 90 minutes. I used CheckPuzzle a dozen times and had to reveal 3 answers as running the alphabet with CheckPuzzle seemed inefficient. This is my worst performance in over a year, and probably ever.

AliasZ 2:16 AM  


I know at least one person besides me whose first entry today was UNICUM.

As it so happens, I was having a few sips of it while solving the puzzle, and am finishing off the last drops as I am typing this. What delightful liquor, and what a delightful puzzle! This entry alone raised my spirits (pun intended) to a level of enjoyment I rarely get from puzzles. Maybe the liquor had something to do with it. Original, genuine UNICUM is hard to track down in the USA, but luckily I found a source -- in Brooklyn, of all places.

Many lovely entries today: LED ASTRAY, SWAN'S NECK, KIDS THESE DAYS, etc.; and some technical or esoteric ones (for some): LEXEME, SONANT and UNICUM.

In my world it is called HOME game. I don't think I ever heard HOME MATCH, maybe KEN TISH refers to a football game in SE England that way. Who the heck is KEN TISH anyway?

DEFILER was DEFacER and VELURE was VELvet at first, both quickly corrected.

- Where exactly does a STAREAT when she gets hungry? In a star STUDDED bistro?
- DEFILER feels a bit clunky, but is a fun way of sneaking yesterday's EFILE into the puzzle.
- Oh BY GOSH, by golly, it's past the mistletoe and holly season... So sad.
- I wonder if that NOBLE FIR is Duke FIR, Prince FIR a Day, or Count FIR Nothing.

My second entry was ALHAMBRA, which brings me to Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) and his "Recuerdos de ALHAMBRA", a beautiful, genteel song with a melancholy opening, resolving into a smiling mood at the end. It will absolutely melt your heart.

Enjoy your weekend.

Andy 2:21 AM  

Yeah. It was an easy puzzle today.

I really liked the Watching the Detectives video. I hadn't heard that version of the song before

GILL I. 6:31 AM  

@Fert....I feel your pain.
I wonder what @Rex would have thought of this puzzle had he not known UNICUM, IMED, LEXEME, DENISON or SWAN NECK.....Sheesh, Dang it!!!!
I wanted POLYGAMY and VELOUR and neither fit. TORII is for that damn doughnut and SEVEN UP is a fizzy drink.
Can someone tell me why a Brace is TWO???? There ought to be a STATE LAW with some Saturday clueing....
Waaaaah! (clue that as a KENTISH Brit)

Glimmerglass 7:09 AM  

A brace of game birds (quail, pheasant) is TWO birds. I think brace can also be used metaphorically to mean TWO of anything (a brace of pretty girls, for example).

I. C. Fekete 7:18 AM  

What, I ask yew, what are the odds?

I askew.

Anonymous 7:20 AM  

See Dictionary.com definition 10 - "a pair". I actually know the word from Lord of the Rings where Sam cooks Frodo a brace of conies (two rabbits) in Ithilien.

- Jim C

Leapfinger 7:44 AM  

@Mo' Bettah Hair Sam

Glad you liked 'ipsilatral'; me too. I think anything with that prefix has a leg up. Just imagine if yesterday's fill had Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti!

Candy is dandy
But liquor is quicker to tipsi.

However, it's all for naught if @SteveJ don't see it.

Hope you got your snowblower spewing right.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

How does Blend lead to ADMIX ?

evil doug 8:34 AM  

ADd In-->
NOeLE (sounds Christmasy)-->
ALHAdeRA-->
LEnEME

But pretty proud to grind out the rest in under 2 hours.

90s music could have been "shit", except it was even worse than that....

Evil

Dshawmaine 8:43 AM  

I'm with Casco Kid and Fert Felony - absolute misery for me. Thought the cluing was tough and gave up after 30 mins with maybe ten entries filled in, including Rex's jump-off point at AWE and ALA. Three-letter word for "Brace"? Yuk. And always spelled VELURE as "velour" -- though received some validation from my dictionary app that says "few English speakers are familiar with [velure]".
Another DNF Saturday. Someday.......

r.alphbunker 8:47 AM  

Was completely certain that ALICE Roosevelt Longworth was the daughter of Teddy Roosevelt. Took a half hour to get rid of it.
Other wrong guesses:
{"Sounds like a plan"} wEllDOIT --> LETSDOIT
{Blend} ADdIn --> ADMIX
{Ohio University nicknamed "Big Red"}clemSON --> DENISON
{Gives} DonaTES --> DEVOTES
{"I swear ..."} honeSt --> BYGOSH
{Slanted coverage} itAlic --> LEANTO
{What you can never win going away} lOvEMATCH --> HOMEMATCH

Caryl Baron 8:52 AM  

This is the second day in a row that the clues just didn't speak to me. And then I, a textile maven, was completely stumped by VELURE. Such misspellings should not be allowed.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

I didn't like this one at all. Admix? Velure? Homematch?

Roo Monster 9:09 AM  

Hey All !
Easy, ha! This was next to improbable! Had a few entries scattered about the puz. Took lots of time to suss out most answers. Ample use of Check feature to delete the answers I had in! Then try to figure out the correct ones! Had to Reveal Word a few times, as was getting frustrated! Never would have gotten LOAVES as clued. Never heard of UNICUM, is it good? I thought Absinthe at first, but that's green liquor, not sure if the bottle is green. Thanks to @Glimmerglass for Brace, also never knew.

ADMIX? Ouch! And anyone notice both HOYT and HOYA? How odd to end up with both those in one puz.

Easy? I want to be able to do a SatPuz and call it easy when I grow up. :-)

NUTS
RooMonster
DarrinV

chefbea 9:20 AM  

Easier than yesterday but still had to come here to finish....I agree admix, velure???

Aketi 9:27 AM  

@ Fert felony
I'm feeling your pain as an unrepentant googler for trivia that never sticks in my head. Rex really did rub it in today. I take satisfaction in the few things I do know, such as all the African countries and their capital cities since I worked in many of them.

I also have started to fantasize about the weird words used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that would make impossible fill like OMAPLATA and KIMURA or the more amusing REAR NAKED CHOKE HOLD.

I have tried to put Rex iin the same category as April Parks, the women's world champion blue belt in the light weight division. She was warming up on the mat at the first all day jiu jitsu seminar I finally dared to attend. She was so intimidatingly bad ass that I almost left. But I didnt. She is a star athlete (and actually also a very nice mom of four). I just do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu recreationally as I do the crossword puzzles.

So, in light of yesterday's SELFIE, I want to challenge Rex to do a GoPro SELFIE of one of his four minute solves (set to a music of his choice). Not because I don't believe him, I just can't envision how someone can write that fast. With the right background music it might be as fun to watch a star crossword puzzle solver zip through the solves as it is to watch April Parks triangle her opponent into submission.

Casco Kid 9:28 AM  

INRE ZWACK: I recall it is anis-flavored, like ouzo, but with a jagged edge. The little green botles are shaped like the earliest hand grenades, and the shrapnel goes down pretty hard. No doubt an acquired taste. My taste for ouzo is situational: hot day + ice cold + after dinner + a view of the Aegean. Then, and only then, ouzo is quite nice. Not sure what the ideal ZWACK setting would have to be... @leapy?

@dshawmaine, I bagged my first SatPuz after 14 months of daily solving. Hang tough!

mathguy 9:34 AM  

I got nothing out of Rex's write up today. All he said was that the puzzle was easy for him.

In his blog, Jeff Chen said that he found it the hardest Saturday in months. My MGI index was 79, the highest since I started calculating that personal stat.

VELURE almost spoiled it for me. That corner was hard enough with SKYLIT, UTA, SWANSNECK, and TORII, without throwing in an obsolete word with no warning. Why not "obs." or even "var." ? The clue could have included the word "once."

Except for the lower right corner, it was very enjoyable.

Teedmn 9:55 AM  

Loved this puzzle. I DoVEINTO it at AWE/ALA which made my aha of ALHAMBRA reasonable. Actually had NOBLE pine first, got to the bottom of the NE and....creak, creak, the sound of the screen door swinging in the deserted house. Nothing. Nothing.

Oh, there's ELL of ELLY Mae. I didn't dare commit to the "Y", it might be an "I". Move to the SW. Could 40d be ENOLA? With the help of TITHING, got up KID and saw that nice long across, which also fixed pine to FIRS.

Creak, creak. Hmmm, thought 20D should be DonaTES. Had already guessed WORK would finish 33A, so I see that one. I work my way up the NW, loving the LOAVES, LEANTO, etc

SE, grrrr. VELour first. I'm thinking ECLAIR was the only thing that would work in 53A, but "lightning"? I mean they're good but not like "struck by lightning" good. (I have since looked up the reason behind it - not convinced.)

So I don't get the Happy Pencil. I "know" TORII is wrong. So I'm so surprised when the "check" tool says it is good. No, it's my ONeD/UNIeUM cross. After all, one expects odd spellings from Eastern Europe. Glare at 4D again. Oh, ON CD. I only own about 650 of those, so obscure!

So yeah, 45 minutes of sheer teeth-grinding bliss (not /sarcasm!)

Thanks so much for the lovely Saturday puzzle, Kevin G. Der.

Twitter.com/imfromjersey 9:59 AM  

This one had several clues in my wheelhouse - I have been to Hungary and brought back some Unicum - that stuff tastes like cough medicine mixed with dirt, nasty, but I guess some like it. A friend's daughter is currently a freshman at Denison where one of the parents also went to school. Had a lot of trouble with the NW, had BY GOSH/BLUSH was one of the last to fall. Then I finally fixed my error with TORII (a much harder clue than "Twin Hunter")

Bill from FL 9:59 AM  

I had nothing but HOYT until FAA, which gave me FIRS. I figured any linguistic unit would end in EME, which gave me MARK. The rest fell pretty smoothly until the SE, which took a while because I had to convince myself that VELURE and TORII could possibly be right. I came here hoping (with little confidence) that they were.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Also the complete opposite solving experience from Rex. Normally Saturdays are easy, but this one came hard. The obscurity of Unicum was for us an exemplar, not an outlier. Abundance of strained "?" clues and vague open-ended clues made this what I call a Hobbit Riddle puzzle: "What have I got in my pocket?"

Charles Flaster 10:01 AM  

Opposite of Rex as per others. Thrown by ADMIX, UNICUM, VELURE( need var.).
Rated medium except for those three.
Liked cluing for LEANTO, ANTS, and TIRE MARK.
Teddy Roosevelt twice this week--ok by me.
Vandal is nickname of a college team--good clue for a constructor.
Our 1950's sports stars are leaving us slowly and sadly. Ernie Banks was a true humanitarian and I tried to see him play when he came to Polo Grounds or Ebbets Field. RIP.
Thanks KGD.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:08 AM  

Liked this puzzle 25 D, LOTS; Medium for me. Took my time and finished with a clean grid, no write-overs.

17 A, UNICUM, took me back about 50 years, when I was a Jersey high school kid who would go to movies and cafes in New York's Upper East Side, catching little French and British films and eating in places with names like "Wine and Apples." (As I remember it, that was the name, and that was the entire menu.) I must have tasted UNICUM then, hated it, and have never tried it again!

Do hip (not that I was ever hip!) kids still go to the Upper East Side? I kinda doubt it. 34 A, What's the matter with kids today?

Rex Parker 10:08 AM  

I love that Uni Cum has a google account and everything. Please come back, Uni Cum!

RP

John V 10:13 AM  

Not easy. Nope. Got the NE pretty quick, bits here and there, but just a big old DNF.

joho 10:14 AM  

I guess this was easier than some Saturdays, but definitely not easy. The NW was the most difficult due to UNICUM. I also was sure the jackets were leathEr for too long. And my "red state" was going to be related to anger. When I got BLUSH it almost seemed too straightforward. The YENTA actually brought that corner together for me with the "Y" giving me the "B."

Other missteps: raTS before NUTS and VELvet (Hi, Alias Z!) before VELour finally to the strangely spelled VELURE.

Today I learned a new word: LEXEME. LETSDOIT? No, LEXEMEDOIT!

Nice Saturday puzzle which I did not to STAREAT for too long. Thanks, Kevin!


jberg 10:21 AM  

First I want to join the chorus of pro-velour advocates. Never heard of the other, went with velvet first, forced out of it by USUAL.

Second, little surprised by all the queries about TORII. That's the big flat-topped red arch that you see (in Japan) in front of a shrine. In the US, where I don't think there are any shrines, they're put up in Japantowns (like Chinatowns, only Japanese) to let tourists know where they are. Here's a link to the famous Torii in the sea at Miyajima..

As for the puzzle, I'm on the found-it-hard side. Got the E side from ALA/AWE, ALHAMBRA, LET'S DO IT, and working down, but didn't get the central 13s right away, and found the W side harder. Finally came along, though. Now to go find some UNICUM.

Whirred Whacks 10:32 AM  

@Uni Cum
Cum again!
--------------

This was a grind-it-out slogan Saturday for me (but finished with several googles over two sittings).

Liked the misdirect (for me) clue of "Washington Athlete" for HOYA (Georgetown)

Also liked "Requirement of Mormonism" for TITHING. (My first thought went to "magic underwear")

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

ADMIX? UNICUM? SEVENUP? I think Rex was paid off to praise this one. A hard puzzle and no fun.

Mohair Sam 10:53 AM  

Jeez @Rex, say it "hit my sweet spot" when a puzzle fills this fast for you. Telling us it was super easy leaves a lot of egos battered, in this house anyhow.

We got it (guessed right on natickable UNICUM/GAIUS crossing) so I won't hit the challenging button, but Medium/challenging for us anyhow.

Try this baby when you put in oberliN (hi @Casco) because NUTS makes sense, and then you've never heard of SEVENUP (the game), SWANSNECK, TORII, UTA, UNICUM, or IMED. Add to that the fact that you spell VELour the way everyone should. Wicked tough.

Enjoyed it though, kept me busy after battling my snow blower for 3 hours (2.5 in repair, 1/2 hour blowing the white stuff) - we had 8 inches last night.

@Leapfinger - I'm gonna try my hand at puzzle construction just so I can include Kalamazoo, Ypsilanti, and ipsilatral in three separate stacks. Can't think of a theme however.

Gabe Tuerk 10:54 AM  

I too am IN REVOLT over the lack of variant form for VELURE (sic). I also feel discussion is warranted regarding TIREMARK which I find to connote a marking made on a hard surface as opposed to TIREruts which are more likely found on dirt roads.

KIDS THESE DAYS...

HP 11:10 AM  

Ahhh Uni Cum there you are. We have found you at last. Let it be know that our lord Master Debater's vengeance will be swift and painful. You have long eluded our grasp, killed our agent Mary Five Fingers and now taunt us with your "post excitement."

DEFILER! I, Harry Palms, (you may have seen me in a the 8mm classic "Lust for Life") will avenge our lord. Uni Cum your wad is spent, your rod forfeit.

Best regards,

HP

ps. Milk came out of my nose as I read your post.

Tita 11:11 AM  

@jae...me two, for ONED!
Of course, thought immediately of our Hungarian Rexvillians...

Good friends live in KENT, CT...must listen for the dialect.

@r.alph...your answer for 6D is far apter!

@Whirred - about 7" at Lake Candlewood.

Loved the puzzle, in spite of 2 errors...@jae's ONeD, and UmA/mORII. How could I not know TORII?!
ALHAMBRA was first entry. A lovely, serene place.

Thank you Mr. Der

Tita 11:13 AM  

@aketi...last time you mentioned wanting to watch @Rex solve, someone here posted the video, found via a quick google search. I think you can also find others, of some ACPT luminaries, too.

I had the intimidating fortune to sit face to face with one of the winners of the Westport tournament during the solves. It was mind-boggling!

I'm on my tiny tablet, or I would try to post the linnks myself.

dk 11:18 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

lose for LOST, addin for ADMIX and WTF for HOMEMATCH put my solve time right up there with Evil Ds.

Egads, I even did part of my internship in ALHAMBRA.

Alas, read this am that in addition to not being able to see the original Danish and Swedish versions of detective shows we now are being deprived of British Chocolates… you know the chocolates with cream as the first ingredient as opposed to sugar or some chemical variant. A sad day,

dk 11:20 AM  

Mohair Sam… try UP as a theme

old timer 11:31 AM  

I almost always finish the Saturday puzzle. Not today. It started off very easy, because I intuited LETSDOIT and the two, eventually three long acrosses in the middle. The SW and NE were a snap. SE not so much, because I never knew VELURE was a word (started with "velvet" and changed to "velour" but was stuck. I've been to several Japan Towns, but if I've seen TORII I don't know it.

Didn't fill in the NW at all, because I forgot that old Caesar was a GAIUS kind of guy. And was unwilling to let go of "leather"or at least "patched" for the motorcycle jacket. Since when are such things STUDDED?

Rex was just lucky today, that's all. And I know his motto:

"Solipsism is the only ism for me"

Fred Romagnolo 11:34 AM  

I knew Alice, didn't know ETHEL. I had to choose between Alice and ALHAMBRA, and I made the wrong choice. DNF Also HOMEgames threw me. So, even if I switched to ALHAMBRA it would still have been DNF I'm assuming THETA is a "member" of the Greek alphabet. Otherwise the clue doesn't make sense. I expect I'm going to be nervous the next time I see Mr. Der's name. BTW google lists SWAN'S NECK as a deformity of the fingers, and the first 2 pages on "high-low-jack" don't list SEVEN UP.

Malsdemare 11:34 AM  

I finished, with two googles (Gaius and Uta Barth) in 56 minutes and I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. I rarely finish a saturday without tons of reveals and cheats (I consider Google research, not cheating!) Alhambra was the first to go in. My grand kids got the game Alhambra for Christmas -- tons of fun-- and so it was sitting right there in my brain, waiting for the right synapse.

But I made lots of false starts: put in ENOLA, took it out for paree, donates for DEVOTES, did the velvet to velour, defacer for DEFILER. Definitely not easy and while I am loathe to criticize the man whose blog brings us all together, I winced to see him repeat how quickly it fell in place for him.

Here in central Illinois, we can actually see the sun. It's been awol for weeks.

Ludyjynn 11:38 AM  

I'm with you, @NancyKlein, @FertFelony, @GillI, @Dshawmane, @mathguy, @JohnV, @JBerg, @MohairSam. Easy?????!!! Not even close, Rex. This makes me feel so much better that I found yesterday's puzz. a slam dunk and OFL did not.

Biggest irk which cannot be overstated was the (mis)spelling of VELURE over which I remain IN REVOLT!

That said, there was LOTS to like, but I am GLAD to be done. Thanks, KGD and WS.

Fred Romagnolo 11:40 AM  

Have I missed an explanation of IMOD, is it I'm overdosed?

Nancy 11:40 AM  

The comments here never disappoint. I was expecting irritation with VELURE instead of velour, and it was everywhere. I expected most people to find the puzzle hard, not easy, and so most of you did. From UNICUM to UTA Barth crossing VELURE and TORII (don't understand that clue at all!)to LEXEME to NOBLE FIRS (which firs are noble? Pines? Spruces?) to the Ohio Univ. I never heard of -- this was a real slog. I had SEVEN AP, for the card game I never heard of (a card game played on an IPhone?) because I had RATS instead of NUTS for 41A as well as the wrong answer for that obscure Ohio U. The deep SE, I didn't finish at all. I suppose I shouldn't complain: Saturday is supposed to be hard. But this wasn't in my wheelhouse at all.
Rex really found it easy???

Fred Romagnolo 11:43 AM  

oops! I meant IMED. Sorry.

LudyJynn 11:50 AM  

@Fred, Instant Messaged.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Reached quickly = sent an instant message (instant messaged). Quickly (shortened) = IM'ed.

Z 11:59 AM  

I plodded along taking probably three hours from start to finish, but that included breakfast, checking tools, a trip to the hardware store, putting in some drywall patch, and getting laundry going. I'm guessing 90 minutes of actual solve time, which is on the slower side for me. However, we had the late game last night and I'm always a little slower the next morning, so Medium Challenging here. Except for the time element, my progress was similar to OFL's.

@Fert Felony - "Reached quickly, quickly" has a BRACE of parts. "Reached quickly" is the clue for "Instant Messaged," while the ", quickly" is the clue that an abbreviation is wanted, so I.M.ED.

@Casco Kid - An einstein - Knowing the American brand name stymied you.

VELURE seems to be specific to hats, and so not exactly the same thing as velour.

"Education standards, e.g." - I wanted "complete and utter bull shit" but it didn't fit.

Z 12:03 PM  

Japanese TORII.

Z 12:06 PM  

Not necessarily Japanese tori or toruses.

J. D. KaPow 12:14 PM  

This was the most Naticky of all possible puzzles, and it killed me. Not in a fun way, either. Just, "Oh, okay, I'll never fill in that square because I have never heard of either word that crosses it and any one of six different letters could work there." Yuck.

Doug Landman 12:25 PM  

right on!

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

I don't understand this whole "Acme" thing. Would someone care to explain? I think this blog has lost too many interesting commentators.

Doug Landman 12:43 PM  

Velure is obscure and obsolete

Numinous 12:50 PM  

I knew off the top of my head that Octavian and Little Boots were both named GAIUS. I got LEANTO from that but putting in aLarm for 1D. screwed me up for the longest time.

ENOLA came easily after AWE and ALA. The NE was like using a shoehorn, everything slid in easily. SE was different. USUAL made sense but VELour wouldn't allow it so I rattled around in that cage for a long time.

I figured that 17A wsa going to be some sort of Hungarian rip-off of Jägermeister (we drink Jäger at room temp in this house) but had to google to find UNICUM a total NATICK for me.

LEXEME (I'll admit to thinking phoneme first but it wouldn't fit), SONANT & SKYLIT came easily as well as LOST ONES SHIRT. I probably googled about as much as Jeff Chen who, it seems, found it as hard as I did. Took me almost two hours but WTH, I have a cold so I'm excused due to fuzzy brain. Anyway, today's grueler slowly gave up its secrets with some rather fun AHA moments: KIDS THESE DAYS, LOAVES, INREVOLT (I had goingOuT at first).

I have to wonder how much Kevin Der may have spent in the UK. HOME MATCH. is certainly not an American term and who among us who hasn't been abroad has any familiarity with KENTISH?

@MDMA asked me about the 10-25-15 puzzle yesterday. I did it last night and was blinded by the red diagonal slashes through every letter so I guess the verdict is that it still doesn't work.

The Bard 1:00 PM  

From The Taming of the Shrew Act III Scene 2

BIONDELLO

Why, Petruchio is coming in a new hat and an old
jerkin, a pair of old breeches thrice turned, a pair
of boots that have been candle-cases, one buckled,
another laced, an old rusty sword ta'en out of the
town-armory, with a broken hilt, and chapeless;
with two broken points: his horse hipped with an
old mothy saddle and stirrups of no kindred;
besides, possessed with the glanders and like to mose
in the chine; troubled with the lampass, infected
with the fashions, full of wingdalls, sped with
spavins, rayed with yellows, past cure of the fives,
stark spoiled with the staggers, begnawn with the
bots, swayed in the back and shoulder-shotten;
near-legged before and with, a half-chequed bit
and a head-stall of sheeps leather which, being
restrained to keep him from stumbling, hath been
often burst and now repaired with knots; one girth
six time pieced and a woman's crupper of VELURE,
which hath two letters for her name fairly set down
in studs, and here and there pieced with packthread.

Carola 1:13 PM  

Tough! Satisfying to finish. Not too hard to fill in the blouse area, but ran into trouble at the waistline, with only spotty coverage in the nether parts. Went off to make French toast, returned to find DETECTIVE WORK pop into view, which let me DIVE INTO the lower tier with renewed vigor. Had to clean up cornISH (why do I always get directions reversed?), Udo, and VELour.

Because of the incorrect raTS, I initially rejected DENISON, even though it remains seared into memory as the site of a horrible blind date (me: dorky Oberlin freshman, so no doubt horrible for date also).

I thought SWANS NECK and ALHAMBRA were lovely and liked BY GOSH, KIDS THESE DAYS, and IN REVOLT over STATE LAW. Could have done with a few fewer ? clues.

Sir Hillary 1:26 PM  

Snowstorm held up my paper today, so only just got to this one. As a fledgling constructor, these low-word-counters with acres of white space always astound me. So yeah, impressive as hell.

UNICUM? Okay, fine. Very gettable via crosses. VELURE? Yuck. Shame that's how I finished, with that taste in my mouth, because aside from VELURE, I liked this one a lot.

@Evil - I disagree with you on 90s music, but great comment nonetheless. Best laugh of the day so far.

Leapfinger 1:57 PM  

Hard to pinpoint my first entry, since I was triangulating on the NE as a unit: how YENTA would fit with BY(something), and how HAS would then support BLUSH. It was at that point I read the 17A clue, laughed and said 'Not possible!'... But it was. Not sure about finding the real Unicum in Brooklyn, since my source is Danish. @CascoK, my ideal place for imbibing would be a balcony overlooking the Duna, across from the Buda Parliament Buildings, just remember that Zweck doesn't = Unicum.

After that serendipitous start, I would even have enjoyed LIVE ANT-STUDDED NUTS, but besides the LURE of VE, the only thing that Grrrrew on me was the TIRE'MARK' and the HOMEbATCH,-cATCH,-hATCH,-lATCH,-MATCH.

Was LEDASTRAY much as @r.alph was, and was sorely tempted to fill 9D Teddy's daughter E___ with EDSEL;
[Like] was AS A? AKA? A LA!!
Whenever I think ALHAMBRA, Philip II's Escorial always comes along, not sure why the two are ADMIXed in my mind.
ADMIX itself was not a problem since I've come across ADMIXtures; in both cases, however, the AD- is entirely gratuitous.

Mary URE's half-brother VELVEL, known to his friends in the shtetl as "VEL" URE. Unlikely? No more so than the clue as presented.

Wooden it be hard to deciduous between NOBLE FIRS and PINESOL, lol?

Nothing terribly disSONANT, and ECLAIR was epatant.
Another High Point for the day: @HPalms and his [I assume] Ex Nose Lacto...

Am left with the residual question of how SE DATIVES differ from NE DATIVES? Or from SE ablATIVES?

Our "-ER Watch List" now grows with the addition of DEFILER; we should probably add Kevin D-ER also.

Just lovely, KGD.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:58 PM  

Liked havin both ANTS and a younger SON ANT, all in one great SatPuz. Great, but not easy. Not even "relatively" easy, for a SatPuz, in my book...

Bullets:
* Had to build quite a few longish answers from start to finish, due to lack of M&A knowledge. Succeeded, with UNICUM (alien that only mates once in its lifetime) and eventually...

* DENISON (Wanted CLEMSON, which is "relatively" close to Ohio). Also bashed out...

* KENTISH. Better clued as: {Like a superhero's secret identity}. Now, for the problems...

* A la @Evil, finished with ADdIn ( far better answer) and, my primo choice for fave Christmas trees' name...

* NOeL-U-FIRS. ALHAwhateverA and LEXnotdoit both just laid there, and were never of any help, whatsoever.

* fave weejecta: Not much to choose from, in a day-um smokin 64- word grid experience, but I'll go with UNI. And CUM. WELDed.

M&A

MDMA 2:05 PM  

Some links from Wikipedia and dictionary.com:

UNICUM,
ALHAMBRA,
IMED,
LEXEME,
FAA,
EVA,
SONANT,
NESTLE,
UTA,
PINE-SOL,
VELURE,
HOYA,
YENTA,
GAIUS (Augustus), GAUIS (Caligula),
ETHEL,
NOBLE FIRS,
DENISON,
SEVEN UP,
SWAN'S NECK (see "swan-necked pediment"),
HOYT,
KENTISH,
ENOLA,
TORII,
GLAD,
ELLY,
TWO (British "a pair, two, esp of game birds: a brace of partridges)

mac 2:12 PM  

Well, my first entry was the S at 27D. After several minutes I got skylit and Elly, guessed Pinesol and then it started to come together, although my last letterwas the R in velure.

Ha, spell check doesn't like velure either.



OISK 2:12 PM  

Got it all, but very tough for me. Velure held me up for a long time. My big nit to pick, though, is Washington athlete. It should say D.C. Athlete. I follow the Big East, so Hoyas are familiar to me, but the fairly obscure name of a college mascot should not be made more difficult by a misdirected place name. I kept wondering "do the huskies call themselves the Husk for short? "

Steve J 2:16 PM  

Surprised at how many people feel personally slighted when they find a puzzle harder than Rex did. It's reflective of his experience, not an objective rating.

For me, this was definitely tougher than easy, and I don't feel shamed by that in the least. Other than UNICUM (@Alias Z: it was also my first entry. I first experienced years ago on a visit to Budapest and loved it. Now I usually have a bottle on hand) and LEXEME, nothing came to me on my first couple passes through the puzzle. I finally got the SW to fill in, and then I proceeded to fill this in from the corners to the center. And the center is ultimately where I finally got stuck. Couldn't see DETECTIVE WORK (I couldn't get past a mental block of trying to work some form of defense in there, as in the defense attorney), couldn't jog SONANT from my linguistics coursework ~20 years ago, and I'm not familiar with the card game under either name. And I really couldn't grok the clue for 23A, although once I did get that filled in, it was a nice aha moment.

Mostly enjoyable, with KIDS THESE DAYS and LOST ONE'S SHIRT standing out. HOME MATCH rung a little weird, as it's primarily outside of North America where match is preferred over game, and VELURE was dirty pool (I also had VELvet and VELour there, as I'm sure thousands of others did). But a good Saturday challenge overall

Lewis 2:19 PM  

See? Rex DOES read the comments!

This played medium for me. There are eight question marked clues, which seems very high to me. A question I had was why are LOAVES early morning risers as opposed to risers any other time of day?

I liked the clues for LEANTO and ENOLA. Overall, for me, good puzzle quality weekend.

MDMA 2:27 PM  

@Fert Felony
@Fred Romagnolo

"Reached quickly, quickly?" = IMED = IM'ed = instant-messaged (similar to texting)

Reached = got in touch with, contacted
quickly = right away, without delay
quickly = a quick way of saying something, i.e. an abbreviation
? = a warning that interpreting the clue is a bit of a stretch, and it may use puns or wordplay

Lewis 2:36 PM  

Factoid: VELURE gets 336,000 Google results, and Wikipedia's only article on it is about a band with that name, while "velour" gets 14.1 million results (and the Wikipedia article with no mention of the alternate spelling); Merriam Webster calls VELURE obsolete.

Quotoid: "Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant TWO times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays." -- Henny Youngman

MDMA 2:42 PM  

This was the hardest Saturday in a while. Especially the SE corner.

Per Wikipedia, ETHEL Roosevelt Derby was instrumental in preserving yesterday's SAGAMORE Hill.

I had "awning" for a while instead of LEAN-TO. Tried DEFacER for DEFILER.

@old timer, LEATHER can be ruled out right away for 19A "Like many motorcycle jackets" because it is way too easy and obvious for a Saturday puzzle.

HOYT Axton starred in the movie Gremlins.

Thought about UmA for UTA, but turns out it's not a German name at all. Uma Thurman was named after a Hindu goddess.

Merriam-Webster says VELURE is obsolete.

I think SONANT and "surd" are outdated, you'd just say voiced and voiceless nowadays.

I knew about TORII, but not the name for it.

"Brace" was a thoroughly obscure Britishism, but the crosses didn't admit any other possibility than TWO.

Benko 2:46 PM  

According to Crossword Fiend, VELURE is more closely related to "velvet" than "velour".
As @Z and @Jberg have pointed out, TORII is not the same as "tori". A TORII is the "gateless gate" usually found at Japanese temples and gardens. I'm sure you all would recognize it by sight.
UNICUM tastes much the same as Jagermeister, being a similar blend of botanicals in liqueur. I had it in Budapest last year. Not bad if you like botanical liqueurs, but if you don't you're better off staying away from it.
I thought the puzzle had a lot of chewiness, but I also thought many of the answers were easily intuited despite their difficulty. I did it while watching TV so I didn't put my full focus on it, so maybe that helped me just fill without thinking too hard.

MDMA 2:48 PM  

@Anonymous at 12:28 PM,

ACME was two puzzles ago. It's a straight dictionary definition: acme: the highest point; summit; peak. The clue "Apotheosis" means the epitome of something, the highest or best example of a thing.

Z 3:05 PM  

@MDMA - Based on the context, I don't believe that was @Anon12:28's question.

Obsolete? I wonder if milliners would agree.

MDMA 3:05 PM  

Can I register a vote against the recent trend of "Here's how I solved the puzzle" with blow-by-blow explanation?

Everyone has different areas of knowledge, different strengths and weaknesses. We all find different initial footholds, and work from there. One person's step-by-step path to solving will provide very little help or insight to another.

For me, ALHAMBRA and ECLAIR were the only two gimmes, and based on those I got ALA, SAFE and USUAL in short order. But so what? I doubt anyone else did it in a remotely similar way.

It's useful to mention, for instance, "Hey did anyone else try Cockney at first instead of KENTISH?" Something like that might at least be a common experience. But not a word-by-word Dem Bones litany ("knee bone connected to the thigh bone, thigh bone connected to the hip bone, etc etc etc").

raittd 3:23 PM  

I'm firmly in the Not Easy crowd.

Ended up with a DNF at UnA/nORII. I had no clue on the photographer and Norii sounds more Japanese to my ear than Torii which sounds vaguely mathematical.

It was actually a split puzzle - I did all of it except for the NW in a fast Saturday time (with the error noted above) but completely foundered in the NW and ended up with old uncle Google helping me out.

Not A Control Freak 3:35 PM  

@MDMA: You mean, like the blow-by-blow solving explanations used by Rex? So, should he instead just offer up votes on what others should and should not talk about?

I vote to let everyone talk about their own solving experience and reactions, in whatever manner they prefer. Because I enjoy reading about them.

NACF.

wreck 3:39 PM  

For me, it was easy for about 75% of the puzzle, but the other 25% was excruciatingly hard. I had to google DENISON, didn't know LEXEME, ALHAMBRA, and had the same reaction as everyone else on VELURE.

BillyC 3:58 PM  

@Anon12:24 --

Re: "...this Acme thing?"

MDMA may be right in addressing your question, in suggesting that acme was fill in a recent puzzle.

Another ACME of crossword note is a famous constructor named Andrea Carla Michaels (née Eisenberg). She was a regular here until some event several years ago, I think, that drove her away.

mathguy 4:04 PM  

When tennis clubs here in Northern California compete in a USTA league, they typically play each other club twice. One is an away match and the other is a HOMEMATCH.

AnonyMama 4:06 PM  

@Z 12:06

Why all the pictures of pessaries? Instead of 'his' tori, 'her' tori?

Thanks fer the set-up.

Tita 4:29 PM  

The description of UNICUM reminds me of Cento Herbe - which I was offered by my Italian colleagues in Latina. It was green, and VERY strong. I wonder - can a 100-herb liquor be markedly different from a 100-herb liquor?
Have any of you tried both?

(I've been to Budapest twice, but never tried it.)

While we're on the subject of Hungary, tomorrow I'll be going to one of my favorite restaurants in Danbury - Goulash Place - it's in the owner (and chef)'s house. He hasn't changed the menu in 40 years - and the prices seem to be stuck back in time too.

I wonder if I should ask him for UNICUM?

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

I can pretty much always bet that if Rex says it is hard, I breeze through easily. If he says easy, I'm probably not going to finish. I am almost always opposite whatever he says. Go figure.

Leapfinger 4:41 PM  

Hungarian RexVillains, Tita?

Go for it, @Mo'Hair! Adding the LatinISH ipsilateral to Kalamazoo & Ypsilanti...well, the theme could be "GAIUS avec, M'chiganer!"...No more of a stretch than some, is it?
I'm looking forward to that solve!

@FredRom, as I know it, you found a SWANNECK deformity (no postrophe-S): hyperextension of the proximal joint, flexion of the distal. If you add 'architecture' to your search phrase, you'll get at least some images of the pediments. Forget the IM(ed)-pediments.

@Numi, I only realized after sometime that your late yester-comment was in answer to my question. Hope the code ib your doze and the secondary brain-fuzz resolve soon.

Fred Romagnolo 5:04 PM  

Thanks to all for the IMED explanation. I actually use it when the sound fails when I'm skypeing my son. (skyping?) Spellcheck doesn't like either.

Fred Romagnolo 5:06 PM  

For anyone wondering about my cap, it's the logo for the SF Giants, in case you care.

GILL I. 5:10 PM  

@Fred....I care....I also love the 49ers.
Viva Hungary!

Hartley70 5:43 PM  

It's all about Brooklyn now.

LaneB 6:39 PM  

After 20 minutes ,DNET(did not even try). Ok in NE
Corner, but thereafter zilch. "Easy" designation makes me feel dumber than usual. And that's quite dumb (not in the mute sense of the word,either).

Mr. Benson 6:59 PM  

Well, I finished, but I can't say it was super-easy, what with so many things I'm not familiar with, like UNICUM and ALHAMBRA and LEXEME and SONANT and TORII (not clued as baseball's Hunter) and UTA (I tried various German names that started with U, like Uwe and Udo) and SWANSNECK and whatever the heck VELURE is (I too had VELour after also considering VELvet and even VELcro). That last one still doesn't look right -- and Firefox spell check agrees with me.

Definitely a scattershot, keep-trying-until-things-work effort on my part.

Norm 8:13 PM  

The Alhambra has many mosaics (understatement) that demonstrate the various forms of symmetry (rotate 90/rotate 180/flip on up or down/flip on diagonal/etc.) that you might see in a given puzzle. Thank you Reed College math professor whose name I don't remember (might have been Joe Roberts?).

chefbea 8:45 PM  

Have finished Sunday puzzle...when will Rex post it. Guess I'll wait until tomorrow

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

@LaneB

No reason to feel dumb or be mute. Sometimes the old brain just isn't in the same tiremark as the clueing. There's always another puzzle around the corner.

Hartley70 11:28 PM  

I started in the NW and it was Saturday easy because UNICUM showed up via the crosses. The rest of the puzzle fill was crazy tough because of all the reasons previously mentioned. The longer answers were fine, but too many obscurities for my taste. My taste is getting tickled to learn about Goulash Palace from @Tita.

Dave 6:14 PM  

Had ALERT for 1D and HOPSCOTCH for 6D so things didn't end well. The rest of the puzzle fell into place.sasn't until I filled in 44D with alert that the nw became clearer.

pfb 9:35 AM  

Pretty fast solve for me although I had to guess on TORII, not knowing what it is and assuming BARTH was UTA. I do not see why ENOLA is GAY's partner. It was the ENOLA GAY not the ENOLA and GAY. "Gay Leader?" would have been better cluing and more clever (IMO).

Anonymous 9:20 PM  

"Brace" is commonly used with dueling pistols, which come two-to-a-box. They would bring the box to a duel to ensure both sides had equal weaponry. You probably can buy such braces at antiques shows. "Unicum" is a standard term of musicologists for a work that survived because of only a single copy in its own era. You'd be surprised how many famous musical pieces of medieval-renaissance music survive in only a single manuscript! Plural is "unica".

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

"Velure" sums up this puzzle for me.
I hated it.

rondo 9:28 AM  

Easy my @$$. Hardest puz this year IMHO. Thought about quitting because nothing was coming. Put it down for a while just to change the attitude. It surely took an hour plus in two sittings. Had to guess, put in plural s, get LOTS from crosses and cross-guessing. Holy smokes!!

@Spacey - Flags for VELURE and HOMEMATCH?? 15 yards apiece I'd say. What's a NOBLEFIR??

Maybe TORII Hunter, who's coming back to the MN Twins would be better?? When they play in Mpls will it be a HOMEMATCH? I think not.

Lots of things on dirt roads. Tire track maybe, but not TIREMARK. A TIREMARK might show up on a hit-and-run victim.

I think there are plenty of flaws in this puz. If it's going to be an epic struggle it should at least make sense. I finished, but am infuriated with some of the clues/answers. Sheesh!

Burma Shave 11:14 AM  

Tale of the ALHAMBRA DEFILER

ENOLA GAIUS on the STUDIOSET
with his USUAL STAREAT his bottle of rum
said to ETHEL, “We’ll NESTLE and pet,
and LETSDOIT until both UNICUM.”

---VELURE E’CLAIR

Teedmn 11:28 AM  

@Burma Shave, that's a classic!

spacecraft 12:29 PM  

Here we go again, another "easy" (???) puzzle that I only half-finished.

I have played virtually any card game you can think of, including "high-low-jack"--which I knew as "cinch" or "pitch--" but have never heard of SEVENUP as a card game. Never. And for me, that's saying something. You'd almost have to hide it from me on purpose. I know every card game there is. This must be EXTREMELY local.

And how about that well-known DENISON? That's a university? What, NCAA Div. III? Gimme a break.

I did the eastern half; even had LOSTONESSHIRT rolling out there, but could go no further than LEDASTRAY and NESTLE. Just not enough to go on anywhere else. [Correctly, it turns out, I rejected LEATHER as not being a Saturday answer to "Like many motorcycle jackets."] Thought about STUDDED, actually, but couldn't see any continuation.

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow...

eastsacgirl 2:37 PM  

Eh..... a lot fell quickly but parts were definitely NOT easy. Ended up with a DNF for three squares. I'm ok with that.

@Fred... I care! Love my Giants.

DMG 4:44 PM  

What can I say? My jacket was "fringed", making me misspell GAuiS. Also, my generous soul was a Donor, my tree a NOBLEpIne. And my crunch came from KITKAT, Anyone else hate their commercials? I could go on and on. In the end I got most of the East, but, other than, LOSEONESSHIRT, the rest is pretty blank. Sigh!

rain forest 5:33 PM  

So ALA and AWE were the "key" to this puzzle? What a fatuous comment. This was challenging for me, and I had to chip away at most of it. My only gimmes were ALHAMBRA, HOYT, and YENTA. Actually I guess SEDATIVES was, as well, but I thought that was too obvious. It came down to just throwing down SWANSNECK, ECLAIR, and misspelling VELOUR. Turned out to be lucky.

As a Canadian, DENISON and ETHEL had to come on crosses.

Agree with Z that '90s music and education standards are "crap", which I almost entered for 4D.

I'm pretty sure that if SanFranman were still publishing his results, this would be challenging, Rex bedamned.

rondo 6:04 PM  

@rainforest - as a U.S. citizen, agree, agree, agree, and agree.

leftcoastTAM 6:30 PM  

@rain forest, I applaud your finish. For me, this was a tough, tough puzzle and a big DNF.

@MDMA, thanks for deciphering IMED (and your other apt comments.)

Seeing RP's rating of "Easy" was tough to swallow, but other commenters have put that into perspective. Thanks for that, too.

Bananafish 1:19 AM  

I sure do miss SanFranMan's timing data - could really settle whether this one was easy or not.

It was very tough for me ... had a whole bunch of writeovers. "DREW" for IMED (thought reached quickly was drawing a gun old West style, and quickly because it was just one word rather than "drawing your gun"), RATS for NUTS, PINEWAX for PINESOL, HONEST for BYGOSH (and it's still a much better fit for the clue), GRAPPA for UNICUM (the foreign drink), WINDSOR for DENISON (obscure college), BANAL for USUAL (Routine), FLASH and SHORT for ALERT (News ___), and I was sure that "Something done on a case-by-case basis" was referring to wine and so ended up putting in CORK at the end once I got the ORK.

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