Hit radio comedy about bridge--playing couple / SAT 2-7-15 / 1980s MP nicknamed old crocodile / Queen who rallied Dutch resistance in WWII / First noncanonical psalm / Soloist on Green Hornet theme / Moniker after lifestyle change / Red cabbage juice in chemistry class / Cavaradossi's lover

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "EASY ACES" (7A: Hit radio comedy about a bridge-playing couple) —
Easy Aces, a long-running American serial radio comedy (1930–1945), was trademarked by the low-keyed drollery of creator and writer Goodman Ace and his wife, Jane, as an urbane, put-upon realtor and his malaprop-prone wife. A 15-minute program, airing as often as five times a week, Easy Aces wasn't quite the ratings smash that such concurrent 15-minute serial comedies as Amos 'n' AndyThe GoldbergsLum and Abner, or Vic and Sade were. But its unobtrusive, conversational, and clever style, and the cheerful absurdism of its storylines, built a loyal enough audience of listeners and critics alike to keep it on the air for 15 years. (wikipedia)

• • •

From one of the easiest Thursdays I've ever done to one of the hardest Fridays I've ever done to this: a beautifully Saturday Saturday. Many answers I didn't know, many traps I fell into or mistakes I made, and it was all quite pleasurable and entertaining. Cluing was not convoluted or tortured, and even the obscure stuff was clued and crossed in a way that made it ultimately inferable or otherwise fair. Grid shape also minimizes chances you'll get cornered—with the exception of the NW and SE (both relatively small), you can come at the answers in this grid from multiple angles. Always at least two escape routes. Not surprisingly, I had the most trouble at the beginning, scratching for traction, but after I got the NW settled (this took some doing and redoing), I was able to head up to the NE and then swing around and down, completing the puzzle in a fairly consistent clockwise manner. I was lucky to have that NE passage available to me, because I was *not* getting into the SW from up top. LEVI'S Stadium was a total unknown to me (I had LUCAS at one point), and I couldn't get WAVERED from -RED, and so all I really had was ATRIA. So north through the BROUHAHA I went, despite the dauntingly unfamiliar radio show (!) about a bridge-playing couple (!?!?). At least the constructor *knew* it was obscure and gave you a clue that helped you out a little.

So my stumbles. Yes, they were plentiful. Let's start with the odd procession of answers I had at 1D: Producer of a cough and shivers (GRIPPE). Well, at first, I had nothing. Actually, at first, I had this: first the Across, then the Down, bam bam:

["Be in—rule on!"]

When EDT and AL HIRT came pretty easily, I was feeling pretty good about my chances. Then I wrote in CROUPE at 1D. It's possible that just before that, I had written in CRABBE (!?!) at 1A: Ameche's "Moon Over Miami" co-star, 1941 (GRABLE). Buster CRABBE is an actor, right? Yes! And a swimmer. From the right era, too. Just, in this case, super-wrong. So I had the CRABBE CROUPE (a terrible, grid-stymieing affliction). After further forays into the grid, I fixed some things and ended up with CRABBE CRIPPE. This meant that Wimbledon had to be played in BON- … BONHOMIE? Who could say? Complicating things was my poor knowledge of chemistry. I had [Red cabbage juice, in chemistry class] not as a PH INDICATOR but as a PH INHIBITOR. It fit, and it had a whole bunch of correct letters (got me SNOOD and YOUR, it did!). This mess led to many ridiculous things, like BAYED for CAWED, and (most convincing and thus most wounding) ENGINEERS for ENGINEMEN (6D: Some Navy specialists). Fact that I couldn't think of any [Disco fabrics] ending -EES caused me to rethink ENGINEERS. But real breakthrough when I decided to take out all the letters in PH INHIBITOR that weren't confirmed by crosses. Persistent stuckedness usually means something's wrong. At that point, you need to pull out stuff that looks right. And so I did. And zoom, off I went.

Whole east side was a piece of cake. I was helped mightily by TRIBAL NAME (which I got off the "T") and then HOBBS and HILITER and "WE CAN Do It!" and (jackpot) DESI ARNAZ, JR, the last of which ensured that the SE would be done lickety-split. Last real hurdle was working up the western seaboard from the bottom. ALTAIR IV (?) (30D: The planet in the sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet") made this difficult, but not at all impossible. Finished up with the "I" in SIM (43A: ___ card). This one deserves praise for its overall smoothness (esp. considering the fairly low word count) and its playfulness. Seemed designed to challenge and delight. Seemed designed with solver pleasure in mind. More of that, please.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:09 AM  

    Mostly easy for me and definitely easier than yesterday's.   Came to a dead stop in SW because, like Rex, I had ENGINEers instead of ENGINEMEN.   This made ELEVEN, LAMES, AERA, and LEVI'S impossible.  It finally occurred to me that the clue was asking for a Navy enlisted rating and I finished.  I did not have any of Rex's other missteps but I'm pretty sure he finished about 3x or 4x faster than I did.

    There was nothing really zippy here but it was a lot of fun to solve.  Partly because of the stuff I didn't think I knew but did...ALTAIR IV, RUCHED, BOTHA and partly because the WOEs...EASY ACES, HI LITER...were easy to suss out.   Having seen all the movies was also helpful .  A solid smooth Sat. , liked it.

    Whirred Whacks 12:20 AM  

    Much more fun than yesterday -- and half as long!

    Always nice to see the I CHING as an answer.

    And the "Ball boy?" clue for DESI ARNAZ JR was delightful.

    Lots of rain where I am (Santa Cruz Mtns west of Palo Alto): 2.3" on Friday, with more in store through Monday!

    AliasZ 1:06 AM  

    Holy s**t already with the proper nouns! Is the English language so short on common words that people actually know and use, or is the constructor's vocabulary so poor, that he has to resort to a large number of names to make a decent crossword puzzle? Five or six of them in a 15x15 is usually the upper limit of my tolerance.

    Let's see: Betty GRABLE, AL HIRT, Louis BOTHA, BOB KERREY, Roy HOBBS, Mike DITKA, Queen WILHELMINA, DESI ARNAZ JR (the clue for which was so clever, it was a gimme without any crosses) and Paula DEEN. Then TOSCA, Mr. PIM, LEVI'S, KAY'S, MAZDA, ALTAIR IV. Ignoring LONDON, did I miss any?

    This one did not coalesce for me despite some fine entries: COALESCE, EMBALMS, GRIPPE, WAVERED, WEAK SPOT, SEA GLASS and a few others. But VERY MILD lacks sharpness, RUCHED is a WOE, LONDON AREA is generic enough to include a lot more than Wimbledon, LAMES a bit lame, ICHING caused some itching, MARSHY-YEASTY and RAZZES-PIZZAS were somewhat MONOTONE, and I never enjoy arbitrary Romans.

    The one thing I did like in the puzzle was its wide-open construction, and its much easier solve than Friday's misery. Sorry Byron, this is the first one of your puzzles that left me cold. There was not much music in it for me.

    John Child 1:26 AM  

    I struggled for a while, erased everything, and then got through pretty steadily until PHINDIC Acid and E _ _ _ ACES.

    I didn't think much of the vocabulary as I solved - some of the same reactions as @Alias Z, but then I saw how many of the words were first-time appearances for the NYT: BE-INS, PH INDICATOR, PIZZAS, RAZZES, VERY MILD, and more. Eighteen of them in all!.

    For my taste ALTAIRV and RUCHED could have stayed in DISUSE, but it's remarkable to have such fresh (if not scintillating) fill.

    Bei mir ist es schön! Thanks Mr Walden.

    GILL I. 3:44 AM  

    WILHELMINA just resting on top of DESI ARNAZ JR just makes me want to GRABLE TOSCA HOBBS DITKA by the throat and EMBALM that old crocodile BOTHA with PIZZAS......
    Yikes...I counted ELEVEN times that my PHINDI CATOR went off. Each time, the AORTAE went BROUHAHA and I asked myself..."Is this really a Byron Saturday?"

    Trudy 6:48 AM  

    This one turned into a Queen Wilhelmina vs Betty Grable cage match for me (c'mon, you'd pay to see that). When I was stuck and had no idea where to start, WILHELMINA was they gimme that opened up the SE and eventually the whole puzzle .... except the NW where I remained stuck till I broke down and googled GRABLE. Lovely puzzle despite me having to resort to Google to finish that last section.

    Anonymous 6:53 AM  

    Engine men next to London Area?
    No thanks

    Danp 7:07 AM  

    On another day @Rex might write, "Since when are pizzas always cut into eighths? And how does that make a PIZZA a holder? And a moniker is something that people call you. Nobody, and I mean absolutely no b-o-d-y ever calls someone else NEWME. EASYACES was a hit? Apparently, it 'wasn't quite the ratings smash... [as] Lum and Abner.' Who?! Apparently these Aces weren't ELEVENS."

    That's the @Rex I wanted to read today.

    Dave in California 7:17 AM  

    "Ball boy" was one of the best clue/answers in a while--loved that. But BEINS? Come on...

    Susierah 7:39 AM  

    I love any Saturday I can finish without googling! This was hard work but very satisfying. I got ruched and rule on on my first pass, then that area just sat there for fifty minutes!

    Finally changed my "me in" to the correct "be in", and things fell together. I was dying to google to get one across and am so glad I worked it out by myself. I was unsure about the Altair Iv because I was parsing it as one word. Never heard of that.

    56 minutes of fun!

    Anonymous 8:08 AM  

    Ummm ... Mr. Shortz? Psalm CLI IS canonical in a large segment of the Christian religion. An editorial lapse on this clue ...

    Glimmerglass 8:28 AM  

    I love. Rex's comment about his joy in working though a tough puzzle. This kind of thing happens much more often for me than for Rex, judging by how often he grumbles about the constructors' (and especially WS's) choices. I had no traction in the NW, but the SW fell easily enough, and I worked counterclockwise until .....LAD gave me PERSONAL AD, which told me signalMEN was wrong and broke me back into the NW. Fun puzzle.

    dk 8:30 AM  

    🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns) and many moans.

    Time and time again I realize my first thought is often correct. I WAVERED at 18a & 28a to my detriment. My spelling of 41a was shall we say creative and Harry Winstons is sometimes HW but never KAYS.

    I would have like 39d clued as Niece's rotund white Guinea Pig -- full name Mr. Marshmallow -- side note we found out he was a she cue "Take A Walk on The Wild Side."

    Everything a Saturday should be… TRIBALNAME reminds me of the joke where a young man asks about his name and is told a child is named after the first thing seen postpartum. The tribal elder then queries… why do you ask two dogs…..?

    Hartley70 8:40 AM  

    I'm happy to see we're ending the week in a reasonable manner. It's been as if Will tossed this week's puzzles in the air and assigned each day in the order he picked them up. The lack of weekly structure has disturbed my order of things! The sun rises. It snows in February here. And the NYT gets progressively harder each day of the week and delights me with a twist on Thursday. I need these things. Okay, maybe not the snow.

    What to say about the puzzle besides "Phew"? It was fair and fun and I only got stuck in the SE because I was fixated on pirates which I blame on STARZ and "Black Sails" (dreadful, don't bother) advertising.

    Favorite Answer of the Day: I miss hearing "The Grippe". It's a great throwback to childhood and I don't think it's ever used any more. It's much more fun than influenza, trust me. I've had both.

    Anonymous 8:47 AM  

    Once again, Rex and we are ships that pass in the night. Hard for us, with not a single piece of trivia at hand -- ALTAIRIV finally developed out of the memory murk, but everything else came by embattled crosses. Also, not really happy with Will Shortz's ideas of fair clueing. Tortured puns involving abbreviations, unfathomable misdirection, and hints so vague as to be green paint do not make for a happy solving experience. LONDON AREA? EDT? GENL? Answers like that make me fell had, not rewarded. DESIARNAZJR the only bright spot.

    Jim Walker 9:06 AM  

    Finished with one mistake Had NEWMs crossing AORTAS. Never heard NEWME used but a divorced woman could be a new MS. I really liked the puzzle.

    DShawMaine 9:06 AM  

    DNF due to the SW, but a very enjoyable puzzle nonetheless. Loved the DESIARNAZJR clue, loved coming up with RUCHED and SNOOD, loved getting EMBALMS right off the bat. I did not love the two tennis clues (24a and 5d) for the reasons mentioned above (answers are not specific), and also had ENGINEeers for a long time. I overthought the cluing on GRIPPE - "why only 'a cough' instead of 'coughs' - must be a something to do with a prostate exam." And thought it was PHIN DILATOR for awhile - I dunno, sounds like something in chemistry.
    This was fun.

    OldCarFudd 9:17 AM  

    I needed three sittings to do these, and finished with an error. AORTAs crossing NEW Ms. I've had a lifestyle change; meet my new Ms. Acceptable alternative, I think.

    Wasn't it called LA GRIPPE?

    Ludyjynn 9:21 AM  

    WECAN do it! went in first, inspiring me to rise to the occasion. Did anyone else notice the '40s WWII era mini-theme? WILHELMINA went in next, bless her soul. And for all the nay-sayers that the puzz. skewed 'old', this era was prior to my existence, but easily sussed.

    What a difference a day makes, eh? I feel like a NEWME! Like Rex, I had to work my way around the world, here and there, but it eventually COALESCEd. Love that word. Any criticism I have is VERYMILD, not worth pursuing.

    Clever cluing was fun all across the grid, ENHANCing the solve.
    GRIPPE, EMBALMS, GENL, DESI..., TVDINNER were my faves. No WEAKSPOT in this puzz.

    Thanks, BW and WS. YOUR puzzle was ACES.

    evil doug 9:24 AM  

    "crAckPOT" vice "weak spot" for a while. Thought that "k" then became a "key" card.

    Had to like the odd zj combo in Desi the Younger, with the wedge of 3 zees from pizza and Mazda.

    Also nice "enginemen" and "boilers" duplex.

    Lame? Great clue.

    Very fine.


    Anonymous 9:34 AM  

    I wanted the red cabbage juice to be some kind of acid. Got stuck in multiple places. Took me way longer than it should have. Thoroughly enjoyed myself. Great puzzle!

    Elle54 9:36 AM  

    I also had New Ms. I liked this one. Wonder if I should go back and try Friday again, couldn't get anywhere with it.
    Beins was my first answer

    Oscar 9:39 AM  

    SW was crappy, but otherwise OK.

    Roo Monster 9:48 AM  

    Hey All !
    Apparently I'm the only one who found this challenging! Had to shamelessly cheat! Couldn't get a toe hold anywhere.

    On to Sunday!


    Liz 10:02 AM  

    Em dash??

    Nancy 10:19 AM  

    My toehold was exactly the same as Rex's...only wrong for a while. I had BEINS crossing votE ON instead of RULE ON, but GRABLE turned me to the right answer.

    AORTAs instead of AORTAE gave me NEW MS instead of NEW ME for "Moniker after a lifestyle change." Can I be forgiven for thinking the reference was to a sex change operation? (I haven't read the comments yet. Did others make the same mistake?)

    Corrected mistakes: At first ENGINEers for ENGINEMEN; ALpiRT for AL HIRT. Uncorrected mistakes: LEwIS for LEVIS; AsTAIR IV (the dancing planet)for ALTAIR IV. These led to EsEwEN instead of ELEVEN for Ace high. I looked up ESEWEN in my handy dandy Webster's, but there was no such word, so I knew I was in trouble.

    Found this very hard in many places, as you can see. Not as much fun for me as yesterday, although, to tell the truth, I don't know why.

    Z 10:27 AM  
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    Steve M 10:28 AM  

    Good n tuff

    Z 10:29 AM  

    I got started in the SE with MAZDA and -NAME and WE CAN. It took awhile to pull BOB KERREY out of the DISUSEd part of my memory, taking me up the Atlantic coast. This left me with a completed eastern half from EMBALMS up top and DEaN down below, and PERSONAL AD and PRICE CUT providing seemingly strong toe holds into the west. The SW fell eventually but my ignorance of GRIPPE, RUCHED, and BE-INS did me in in the NW.

    I really don't like the clue for RULE ON. To decide a motion is to vote on motion. The Chair can RULE ON many elements of the motion or the process, but the deciding is done by a vote.

    Now, where did I put my LAMÉ LEVIS?

    bwalker 10:34 AM  

    I thought this was as hard as yesterday's puzzle. Harder since I had to Google red cabbage, and I fell for the NEWMs/AORTAs deke. If Bruce Jenner can make such a bold lifestyle change, why doesn't this play? @Elle54, @OldCarFudd, and @Jim Walker (hello, cuz), I know how you feel. Liked the clue for DESIARNAZJR. I had rIgLEASE for a long time, but it wasn't OILy enough for American cheese.

    Maruchka 10:37 AM  

    Sweet! Agree with @Rex's rating. Could have been more like EASY ACES, except for misses - AL H(u)RT, ENGINEME(s), TRIBAL (ho)ME. Anyhoo, it all COALESCEd.

    Really liked BE INS crossing I CHING and seeing both BOTHA and Mandela in the SE. Wanted 'radiators' for SEA GLASS, as I knew a woman that made beautiful jewelry from them.

    Fav of the day - SNOOD. Wish I still had my red one with the fringe on top.

    @Whirred - Great to hear that the drought may finally be done.

    @Ludyjynn - Didn't grok the WWII but now I do, thanks to you. V for verily!

    joho 10:43 AM  

    @Rex, love your blow-by-blow write-ups with pics included! It feels like we're right there with you in your solve.

    LOVED this puzzle! It took all the sting out of yesterday's fail and provided just what I was looking for in a Saturday.

    So many beautiful words, great clues and fun aha moments.

    Oddly I only had two write overs at votE before RULE and WEAKness to WEAKSide to the correct WEAKSPOT.

    Thank you, Byron, more please!

    Carola 10:52 AM  

    Much harder for me than yesterday's. Needed two sessions to wrestle this one to the ground. Thought Wimbledon might be in East Anglia. Thought Susan might have appeared in some sort of sALAD (you know, like images of Satan appear in a dinner roll or something -yes, I was desperate). Thought the note-taker might have been a mILIpEn, a tiny writing implement with word play on millipede. Erasing all + new eyes did the trick.

    Gracie H 10:55 AM  

    Awkward use of plural AORTAE, since clue contains singular tree (albeit plural components). Also, doesn't one just hilight text with a HILITER? I know I'm old fashioned, but I thought pens, pads and perhaps laptops were used by note takers.
    Liked ICHING and PHINDICATOR. RULEON is a fine use of the phrase, if the decider is a judge rather than a committee.

    Anonymous 11:14 AM  

    Yesterday was a killer, and for once, only once, I had to look something up. The Star Trek name ref. Today was delightful. My originalk missteps were "vote on" instead of "rule on"; "classified" instead of "personal ad" and "engineers," but instinct told me to try "ruching" and then it all fell into place--rule led to grippe, and so forth. NE was a breeze after I guessed brouhaha. Made a mis-guess with "inures" instead of "braces" which led to some temporary stumbling. But I knew Wilhelmina, Bob Kerry, and when I got "in jest" I also got Desi Arnaz Jr. Last a area of error, in SW, was "weakness" for "weakpsot," and "Dean" for "Deen," but I had "We Can," "Very something" for American chese, and then when I got "oil lease" it fell into place.
    Unlike American cheese, this puzzle was nuanced, sophisticated, and it had a nice tang with no rank aftertaste!

    Sir Hillary 11:17 AM  

    I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as yesterday's. Nothing at all wrong with the construction, but the oldish stuff (GRIPPE, EASYACES, PIM, RUCHED) was way outside my wheelhouse and made it a slog.

    Of course, this sequence didn't help: deALS begat TeSsA begat cleANsER. Thinking blue jeans (perhaps influenced by the Niners' stadium?) for "Lee", I didn't look askance at the resulting dENL until finally the Civil War dawned on me.

    VERYMILD and OILLEASE feel green-paintish to me, but I am open to being talked out of that.

    Can someone help me with how MARSHY is "good for rushes"?

    I recall a lot of protests a few weeks back when BOTHA was clued as de Klerk's predecessor, so am surprised at the lack of commentary on him today.

    On the bright side, I learned a lot of new terms, and both the entry DESIARNAZJR and its clue are just stunning.

    Sallie (FullTime-Life) 11:23 AM  

    Yes please! What Rex says at the end. In case Will Shortz is counting comments here, this lurker is coming out to vote for more end of the week puzzles designed for the pleasure of the solver, instead of to show how clever the constructor is.

    beatrice 11:40 AM  

    Here's Marilyn Horne singing an aria from Handel's opera seria 'A(GRIPP)ina'

    Those of you who are interested can find two live performances on YouTube for 3 and 31/2 hours of Baroque entertainment.

    MetroGnome 11:41 AM  

    What's a "SIM CARD"?

    Steve J 12:06 PM  

    Most of this puzzle felt like it was best targeted to a different generation than the one I occupy: 1941 movies, 1950s sci-fi, radio dramas. The things that were familiar - Desperately Seeking Susan, DITKA, HOBBS, disco - dated mostly from when I was a kid. The only things that felt contemporary were SIM card and Paul DEEN.

    Not the puzzle's fault; I just wasn't on its wavelength.

    I'm assuming the flavor of green pain is VERY MILD.

    @Z: A judge can RULE ON a motion (e.g., a motion to dismiss) in court. I thought legislative as well (as having votE ON for the longest time attested), but the clue works when you change venues to a courtroom.

    @MetroGnome: SIM card.

    Norm C. 12:07 PM  

    @Sir Hillary - Rushes are plants that grow well in marshy soils.

    @MetroGnome - SIM cards are placed in your cellphone to hold your phone number, contacts, etc.

    Hartley70 12:09 PM  

    Think Moses and the bullrushes.

    Hartley70 12:12 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Hartley70 12:18 PM  

    Hartley70 said...
    It's in your cell phone. Take it out asap if you're in trouble with the cops or the bad guys. It lets you be tracked. I only know this from fiction of course

    Delete Comment

    Z 12:18 PM  

    @Steve J - D'Oh. I was also wondering if Carl Icahn had an "E" at the end of his name, so that corner was just a general cl^#&#*ck for me; no big surprise that I didn't click over from a Board Meeting to a Courtroom.

    Anonymous 12:19 PM  

    If I can finish without Google - it's EASY.

    old timer 12:27 PM  

    I am pleased. Rex is pleased. Of course he didn't Google. I did. Had to.

    Like Rex, I had a hard time getting a GRIPPE on the puzzle. BEINS was my first entry ('cause I went to the Human Be-In in San Francisco). WILHELMINA came next. Followed by LEVIS ('cause I'm a Niners fan).

    Note that those gimmes were widely scattered. I soon got most of the SW, with WAVERED and (as I thought) WEAKness. The SE came in only thanks to Papa Google, who remembered it was BOBKERREY that dated the lovely Debra Winger (turns out he was Gov. of Nebraska, she was in Nebraska making that baseball movie). That soon led to the wonderful DESIARNAZJR.

    I was totally misled by Banquet offering, thinking, you know, of actual banquets. And while I thought London would be part of the Wimbledon answer, LONDONAREA is lame. W is not in the "area" of London, it is an actual Borough of London.

    Lewis 12:32 PM  
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    Lewis 12:34 PM  

    No not easy, but I was smiling all the way through, due to the variety and wit. Lots of answers stuck in my subconscious needing to be coaxed out, and they successfully were. Answers I don't know are sometimes wonderful gifts when they end up popping out of my head anyway -- what a great feeling.

    I loved ICHING crossing BEINS -- what a 60s flashback! Some wonderful tricky cluing (EDT, PIZZAS, DESIARNAZJR, TVDINNER), but overall right-on-the-mark clues that ensure an aha with the answer. I think MILD would have been sufficient and the VERY was superfluous. WILHELMINA over DESIARNAZJR looks terrific.

    Bravo, Byron!

    Anonymous 12:45 PM  

    Had Kezar Stadium instead of Levi's, fouling me up for a while. Downside of excess information in the brain.

    jberg 12:47 PM  

    @Roo Monster -- me too, this one totally wiped me out. I was a little hampered by having dOBBS at 34A and never questioning it, but even then I should have, but didn't, thought of Mike DITKA, which would have given me KERRY (already had the BOB).

    Slight complaint: you use HI LITERs because you DON'T want to take notes. I got 'desk pad' instead, (off the D in dOBBS), which made me doubt WILHELMINA. So the whole South was just a big mess.

    As for 46D -- I gather from the comments that a noncanonical psalm is one that isn't in the canon - i.e., not considered a psalm by many? Doesn't seem like it should have a number, in that case, but I guess that's the convention. Anyway, I was guessing maybe a lot of psalms (which are songs, after all) were canons in the musical sense (like that Pachelbel thing), which made me want an X as the first letter. Seemed plausible at the time; 'stimulus' seemed plausible for 45A, too, but M seemed much too large for that psalm.

    And I really wanted an atM card; then I really wanted WEAKness. WEAK area let me keep my card, but that area got grabbed by London, so I was stuck there, too.

    DNF, errors TMTC. Rabbitholes galore. And the worst part was that most here found it relatively easy.

    To cheer me up, here's Miss Adelaide singing about la GRIPPE.

    Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:49 PM  

    M&A must learn not to prejudge the puz. Took one look at this 64-worder, and judged its grid thusly:

    * Thin on weejects. This was true, but ATH and CLI gave us quality over quantity.

    * Thin on U's. Actually, 3 ain't too bad. Been stuck on a count of 3 for many days, now.

    * Desperation! Not near as much as I'da hoped for. I've seen lotsa runtpuzs that were more desperate than this. Musta had to spend more than the usual twenty minutes, to construct this grid. At least I got tossed a small bone, with GENL. There were a coupla longish Down fills that had a slightly wet green paint smell, but nothin to make a pewit blush.

    * Low scrabble score. Upper half: yes. Lower half: went nuts.


    Fun solve. Slow but steady progress. satpUzthUmbsUp. Thanx, Byron.


    ** gruntz **

    Rastus Watermelon 12:58 PM  

    DEEN in this puzzle just a week after COON - now I don't mind calling a spade a spade but come on you racism spotters!

    Ira Goldstein 1:03 PM  

    ... and Hiliter is dangerously close to Hitler

    Raymond Numeral 1:04 PM  

    Can anyone tell me what a Cli is please

    RnRGhost57 1:09 PM  

    More Googling than usual but a terrific puzzle. @Hartley70, great Huck Finn reference.

    NavySeal 1:17 PM  

    Anon at 6.53am - huh?

    NCA President 1:25 PM  
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    NCA President 1:25 PM  

    Not enjoyable. Nothing personal, just didn't like it.

    At all.

    Leapfinger 1:29 PM  

    votE ON
    ...and so it went...

    It just rubs me wrong to have a Hebrew Psalm expressed as a Random Roman Numeral.

    ATRIA and AORTAE, but no Ventricles. Without feeding fodder to Anoa Bob, I'm taking the position that it's one AORTA to an 'Arterial tree'. You want AORTAE, you're gonna need more 'trees'.

    Anon0934, the red/blue/purples in vegetation come from anthocyanins; I wanted like the devil for that to be --ANTHOCYAN. Later was trying to justify PHeNoIC Acid or some such, till an alternate parsing dawned on me.

    @Gilly, Wilhelmina atop Desi Arnaz Jr sounds like a set-up for a charge of aggravated cougarism. Wonder whether @Questinia also thought of Wilhelminthes.

    I honestly think I had way more fun with the brain-twisters than with the ones that came easily.
    ByronW can be my PERSONAL LAD any day of the week.

    Mette 1:29 PM  

    Truly a thing of beauty. At least the cabbage acid gave me the letter a for EMBALMS. At Wimbleton, they play in proper tennis attire, so I really wanted LONgskirts or LONgshorts. Never heard of PHINgICAcid. This was one revelation after another.
    Many thanks, Mr. Walden.

    Slow Motion 1:33 PM  

    I really liked this puzzle, and got through it without Googling, unusual for me on a Saturday. I'm a Democratic baseball coach chem teacher from Chicago, so BOBKERRY, HOBBS, PHINDICATOR, and DITKA were all gimmes. Wheelhouse! Thanks Byron!

    @Whirred Whacks: I've enjoyed my Ball of Whacks for years! I have a few in my classroom, too.

    foxaroni 1:35 PM  

    Maybe it's just me, but it seems the overwhelming number of people who claim a puzzle is"easy," sign in as "anonymous." C'mon, if the puzzes are so @#$%& easy, tell us who you are, so we can give you the accolades you "deserve."

    Just as an FYI, I found yesterday's puzzle impossible, and today's puzzle almost as hard. I've been doing the puzzles daily for three or four years. I am no closer to solving Saurdays than I was when I started. Very discouraging.

    M and A Help Desk 1:41 PM  

    Amazin but true, NYTPuz debut word: PIZZAS.
    Less amazin debut: WECAN.

    @R. Numerals dude: Top CLI definitions:
    * Partially messed-up lick??
    * Clipped clip??
    * High PHINDICATOR reading.
    * High Psalm reading.
    * "I'm falling off the ___!" (mountain climber's unfinished lament).
    * Caesar's SAT score. But he planned on retakin it, pre-ettu.
    * Spaghetti western actor Eastwo.
    * Suffix with MMM.
    * Odd parts of a collie??


    mathguy 1:53 PM  

    I usually like tough puzzles, but not this one. I agree with the criticisms of @anonymous 8:47 a.m. And the overall feeling of @Alias Z.

    I needed two lookups. GRABLE- I only had the B and the only old-time movie star I could think of was Deanna Durbin. And WILHELMINA because I didn't know how to spell it. But even with that help, it took me a long time to solve it. And after that struggle, what did I have to show for it? RUCHED? A property of red cabbage juice? The name of a planet on a forgotten movie? One of Debra Winger's ex-boyfriends?

    Changing the subject, I liked Lewis's description of one of the joys of solving. Coaxing answers out of our subconscious.

    Teedmn 1:57 PM  

    Any time I go visit my Dad in S Minn, it means a very late night out singing karaoke. With 5 hours of sleep and solving while reminiscing with Dad, this started out VERY slowly. AL HIRT crossing EDT first (was wanting denguE first but didn't put it in) then EMBALMS and SNOOD. By the time I hit the road to drive the ninety miles home, I had everything LAMES and above in the W and OBBS and above in the E along with WILHELMINA, MAZDA and PIZZAS. I wanted IN JEST but couldn't imagine any Ball boy with a "J" second to last letter.

    Arriving home, I opened the puzzle and DESIARNAZJR jumped out. Yay, I've got this, I thought. WAVERED fell, as did ELEVEN and WEAKness. And that was it. HILIpen and WEAKness plus my complete block on a different Banquet left me Googling ALTAIRIV. I got the rest and then found a secondary DNF in the NE when I realized why I had never seen SEA GrASS in jewelry.

    And I was so pumped from yesterday's victory, too :-( .

    Thanks, Byron Walden, for a fun, but ultimately sad-for-me, puzzle.

    Wood 2:06 PM  

    Struggled in every sector but wound up finishing in 94 minutes. Had some very wrong things that looked very right... CLOSEOUT for PRICE CUT, ALPERT for AL HIRT, MICHELLE II (??) for WILHELMINA. Goes to show you, don't get married to your first guesses on a Saturday!

    Most pleasurable moment was seeing DESI ARNAZ JR. for 'Ball boy?'

    Lewis 2:07 PM  

    Factoid: While Goodman and Jane Ace, the writer/performers of EASY ACES, got inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1990, a Canadian television sitcom, The Trouble with Tracy, which was adapted from the Easy Aces scripts in the early 1970s, was labelled by some television critics as one of the worst TV comedies ever produced.

    Quotoid: "The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team. As a coach, I play not my ELEVEN best, but my best eleven." -- Knute Rockne

    DigitalDan 2:10 PM  

    Google City for me on this one. Practically nothing clicked. Wondering how long it's been since a chem. lab ran out of phenolphthalein and had to substitute cabbage juice? Knew Levi's, though, since it's right down the street, more or less. (So is Google, for that matter.)

    Fred Romagnolo 2:20 PM  

    Talk about screw-ups! I knew WILHE_MINA, so wondered why it didn't fit. Green-painted VERYsoft; hi, @SirHilary. WEAKness didn't help. hi,@Jberg. No good with oldGLAss. I got Shula from the A instead of DITKA. Was looking for something involving sports for "Ball boy." Didn't know MAZDA, hi, @Oisk. @Hartley 70: check out @Jberg's reference to Adele's Lament, you'll love it. Boy did I DNF! I did know Grable, what boy in the 1940's didn't! But I was a bit too young for the EASY ACES.

    Fred Romagnolo 2:31 PM  

    I'm with @Foxarony on the bragging anon's. @Math Guy: far from being forgotten, Forbidden Planet is considered one of the greatest Sci-Fi movies. It had Leslie Nielsen before he turned to wackiness.

    Fred Romagnolo 2:36 PM  

    @Mathguy: Bob Kerrey was not only a governor and a Senator, he became the president of a University; he was an honored veteran who lost his leg, fighting in the U.S. forces - who's Debbie Winger?

    Teedmn 2:52 PM  

    Thanks, @M&A for turning my :-( to :-) with the mountain climber's lament!

    OISK 2:59 PM  

    pH indicator - well, I am a chemistry teacher, but the tennis clues were not easy aces. The clue for "EDT" is just too contrived, but once I got a grippe on the NW it fell into place. Actually (Betty) Grable was the final answer for me, with "Be Ins" (oh, come on!) and "ruched" (??) Tosca and Hobbs, and Ditka, and Wilhelmina right in my wheelhouse - Lames and Levis, not so much. For a sports fan, I am pretty ignorant of stadium names. Forbes Field, Crosley field, Briggs Stadium, Shibe Park...those ring a bell. Now I can't associate the sponsor with the club or the city.

    I assume that some company called "Banquet" puts out TV dinners, that Mazda makes an MX 5, and the fact that I have heard of "Kays" doesn't make the reliance on product names any less annoying. But enough carping. This is the new me.

    I solved yesterday's and today's correctly. ( I never Google until after I am done). Both yesterday's and today's were challenging for me, and seemed at some point impossible, but they were rewarding solves. Perfect week! On to Sunday's puzzle.

    Ludyjynn 3:43 PM  

    @Foxaroni, I feel your pain about mastering late week puzzles. I used to feel it was not in the cards for me, either...until one day, I solved one! The more I did, the more I did. Of course, there is still the occasional big fail, witness yesterday! But I find @Lewis' observations above, @12:34 pm to be true. Keep at it and you will prevail. Rex's process and many comments here have helped a great deal. (Love your cat photo).

    @FredR, since you asked, I'll respond, she is no BOB KERREY, but Debra Winger is an accomplished actress. Think "Urban Cowboy", "An Officer and a Gentleman", "Terms of Endearment" (filmed in part in Nebraska, where she met Kerrey), among others. The late screen icon Bette Davis told Barbara Walters, " I see a great deal of myself in Debra Winger". Nice compliment.

    Anonymous 4:12 PM  

    Rex's Optometrist

    "a beautifully Saturday Saturday. Many answers I didn't know, many traps I fell into or mistakes I made, and it was all quite pleasurable and entertaining."

    This is subjective nonsense, Rex. The puzzle was a trivia quiz. Take a look at the grid again, this time with some objectivity. Wow, you're pretty lost my man.

    Anonymous 4:13 PM  

    Oops, meant to say I'm Rex's optometrist. Ah, whatevah...

    Mohair Sam 4:16 PM  

    Second challenging puzzle in a row for us. But we finally whupped this one. We had decided that RUFFED is something a bridal gown may be (and we were indeed correct in one sense) and that Herb ALPERT must have done the Green Hornet thing - how many trumpeters can start with AL and end in RT, ummm, two? All this after making the cRouPe error in one down. What a mess.

    Put the puzz aside until after lunch and the High School chemistry lesson was resurrected somewhere in the gray matter - hence PHINDICATOR became obvious and the puzzle fell.

    PERSONALAD and HOBBS and TVDINNERS quick gimmes, but we never got traction in the NW because our wrong assumptions in 2d and 3d were right with the ER (if ya know what I mean). Great puzzle however, very much agree with OFL on this one.

    As for the great Winger/BOBKERRY debate: Everybody is right - Ms. Winger is one of the finest actesses ever, and a class person. Former Senator KERRY is one of the finest Senators ever, and a class person. If the Democrats had nominated him for President in 2000 I would have gotten involved in politics for the only time in my life.

    OISK 4:28 PM  

    a@ Mohair Sam, of course you meant Senator Kerrey, and not Senator Kerry. I agree with you that Senator Kerrey was a fine Senator, and is a class person. Senator Kerry - not so much...

    ghkozen 5:18 PM  

    I just can't comprehend how you possibly thought yesterday's was too hard and that there was anything obscure about ORGANA and praise this dreck. This was one of the least pleasurable puzzles I've done in months. Awful, will skip this constructors future puzzles.

    Whirred Whacks 5:28 PM  

    @Slow Motion 1:33
    Thanks for the kind comment. Best wishes!

    Anonymous 5:50 PM  

    I'm 90% sure that that "WE CAN DO IT!" lady is not Rosie the Riveter.

    Cynthia Garcia 5:51 PM  

    I'm with @old timer about TV DINNER. Actually it was the food related answers that seemed a bit iffy - I knew American cheese wasn't going to be 'inedible' but I wanted 'versatile' to fit which of course it didn't. VERY MILD? Hmm... And I have never heard a roll be described as YEASTY. Still had fun with it though even if the SW never quite got there for me. DESI ARNAZ JR alone made it all worthwhile!

    Casco Kid 6:13 PM  

    Here I am, bringing up the rear again, in every sense of the word.
    80 minutes. 13 googles. 5 errors.

    I decided not to suss very hard this time. Recently, sussing has given me a myriad of wrong answers. So after 15 minutes, I had MAZDA and Scalp for SNOOD and WECAN. That's it! That was my puzzle. Done. Finis. I could have kept going, like I did yesterday, wedging in bits of stuff from rationality and memory, but I learned a big lesson yesterday: don't do that! No guesses! Yes, Scalp was wrong, but that was as wrong as I wanted to get. Googling commenced after 15 minutes, and the create part of my solve largely shut down. So not much entertaining wrongness to report this time.

    So, after googles either for/about the clues, I had the following

    I was able to work out most of the rest. I had to check my results near the end to clear an error for artGLASS and WILHELMeNA, which allowed me to see PIZZAS and work from a firm foundation in the NE to finish up.

    Not that much fun. More fun when I can figure it out, but there were lots of facts just not in evidence today. I'm ashamed for not knowing BOBKERREY off the top of my head. DITKA should have been sussable, but I don't remember SuperBowl XX. (Oh. That one. Yes, a forgettable superbowl.) Roy HOBBS I just plum forgot. DEEN and PHINDICATOR really should have been within reasonable reach. TOSCA could have been a late solve pull.
    GRABLE and ALTAIRIV were zero-chance susses.

    Lee Label was an effective misdirect. I didn't think of R. E. Lee until I had GENL from all crosses. At GE_L I was still thinking of labels on jeans.

    Seems that BOTHA was a Big Crocodile when he was in power, and an Old Crocodile at the end of his life. "Old Crocodile" was a fruitless google. I did finally get him from the crosses. ICHING also came from the crosses as googling "change is certain" gave me ehcarr, which fit for length but supported 0 crosses. Glad I didn't bite.

    So. Here we are. To suss or not to suss? After yesterday, I think I'll keep holding back for a while.

    Casco Kid 6:19 PM  

    @Anonymous 5:50. Rosie is 1 of 2 clues I got right without help, so I'm afraid you're 10% doubt just won the day. Sorry. Here's your proof.

    Z 6:37 PM  

    @Nancy 5:32 - What happened to your comment? I got it in my email but I don't see it here, not even a "comment deleted." At any rate, BOB KERREY was no Gary Hart.

    Steve J 6:47 PM  

    While most people associate the We Can Do It! poster with Rosie the Riveter, it's actually not (assuming Wikipedia has its facts straight, which I'm assuming they do since this one's pretty well-sourced).

    Anonymous 6:51 PM  

    Why is Ace high? answered by eleven?

    And why does no one complain about '"ace" used in a cle and answer, that's sloppy.

    Liked the zzz but way too many proper names.

    Teedmn 7:33 PM  

    @Casco Kid, I think you would be a diabolical constructor - "scalp" as an answer for "hair holder" seems like a Saturday level clue/answer. I'm often thankful that my mind doesn't go the same direction as yours because it would increase my DNF average, but that doesn't mean your self-misdirects aren't brilliant - just not where all of us NY Times-trained solvers go. So you can continue trying to regiment yourself into the rat's maze or continue your over-the-wall method. If the former, your comments will become more pedestrian; if the latter and any constructor starts mining your brain waves, I'm in trouble. :-)

    Nancy 7:49 PM  

    @Z -- I haven't a CLUE where it went to, but thanks for noticing. I spent a lot of time typing it and certainly wouldn't have bothered if I'd known it wouldn't appear. I also have no idea why it ended up in your email, but I'm glad it ended up somewhere. I hope this isn't the beginning of a long line of missing comments.
    Let's see if THIS one makes it!

    Nancy 7:54 PM  

    Oh, and @Z, was it Gary Hart who philandered on the MONKEY BUSINESS? If so, my bad. Thanks for the correction. Luckily, no one but you saw my post.

    Z 7:54 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Z 7:56 PM  

    @Steve J - "Poorly edited" would be more accurate (how can you document "never?"). Far more likely is any WWII image of a female factory worker was (and now most definitely is) regarded as Rosie the Riveter. How else do you explain these search results?

    OISK 7:57 PM  

    In blackjack, the value of an ace is either one or eleven. So "eleven" is the high value of an ace, the answer to the clue, "Ace high." At least I think that is the explanation. I don't like the clue, especially since 11 can be clued so many ways. (number shared by Phil Simms and Mark Messier. Also shared by Duke Snider as a Met. Or "YO" at the dice table)

    Z 8:02 PM  

    @Nancy - the benefits of having a Google account are getting an avatar picture, having a link to your profile, and getting later comments emailed to you. The only reason I didn't make the Gary Hart mistake is that the name was too short, he was my first thought, too.

    Here's Nancy's comment:

    @Fred Romagnolo 2:36
    @Mohair Sam 4:16
    @OISK 4:28
    Re: BOB KERREY, Debra Winger and me. Otherwise known as the dreaded Senior Moment strikes again! OMG, did this clue drive me crazy! Because it's MY era and I'm a political junkie and I remembered that there was this handsome Senator who was going to run for President and who dated Debra Winger and who was caught philandering on a boat -- I even remembered that it was called (I think) MONKEY BUSINESS -- and I was pretty sure it was Bob-something-or-other, only I couldn't for the life of me come up with his @%@*&$ last name. Then I actually got BOB and I still couldn't come up with his last name! When I finally got the K from DITKA (to go with the E from WILHELMINA and the R from DESI ARNAZ, JR.) it all came rushing back to me! KERREY! Yes!!! That's it!!!
    Senior moments can be so... deflating.!

    Doc John 8:05 PM  

    So nobody is bothered that clue for 33 across also contains a word that is part of an answer?
    Usually Rex picks up on stuff like that.

    Steve J 8:37 PM  

    @Z: I explain search results like that by pointing out that Google ranks roughly by commonality, not by accuracy. Just like you can find dozens (if not more) examples online ascribing "that is something up with which I shall not put" to Churchill, even though odds are very strong that that's apocryphal.

    Click through the citations in the article, and you'll find quite a few sources that point out what was referenced as Rosie the Riveter at the time, and what wasn't. And while you can't prove never, it's a strong hint if you can find no proof. I'll point you to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which I'm guessing you're familiar with.

    All that said, most people associate the poster with Rosie the Riveter (and I'm part of "most"; the idea that it may not be is one of my newly learned things for today). And, in a sense, as of today, it is. While Rosie and the We Can Do It poster have appear to have separate origins, I think the clue was fair and accurate for its purpose.

    Darling Husband 8:44 PM  

    Hard, but fun. DNF

    Casco Kid 8:54 PM  

    @Teedmn Thanks for the kind words, and funny you mention cluing and construction. I spent part of the afternoon writing witty clues for an easy themeless. And then the MN-based constructor killed. them. all. Awww, man! Well, being a kid (in this community, relatively speaking) I respect my elders, so I swallowed my pride, and thanked him for his wisdom. But his cutting room floor is lousy with pearl(-sized) droppings of my Saturday afternoon mischief.

    Lewis 9:26 PM  

    @teedmn -- great post and right on

    Tita 9:36 PM  

    Tough! Got 3/4 done, then had to reveal a couple of letters to finish.

    Scalp>SNOOD (Hi @Casco), swampY, cruSTY, WEAKness, saladbaR>TVDINNER...
    Only gimmes were HOBBS & BEINS.

    Only thing I know about red cabbage juice is that it will dye eggs blue!

    31D was the worse...tasteless wouldn't fit, nor would saran-wrapped...VERYdull?

    Thanks, Mr, Walden. Tough, but fun.

    Today was the Westport tournament - great to see everyone and catch up with my Rexville friends.

    pfb 8:41 AM  

    NEW MS for NEWME threw me. SE corner came first and pretty fast and if I hadn't stuck with ATM instead of SIM, I would have gotten through the SE faster. My friend never have me the Friday ARTS section, so I did not experience the misery to which others have referred.

    rondo 2:33 PM  

    South and east = hard; North and west really hard. Probably spent as much or more time on this one as yesterday's, though the first half-hour was at the hair salon waiting on the wife. Alot harder than medium in my book.

    First sure answer was down at HOBBS. Followed by DITKA.Then BOTHA due to botha those others.

    Betty GRABLE, perhaps the original yeah baby?

    I think that Rosie the Riveter phrase was a recent answer on Jeopardy; maybe there's some "unintentional plagiarism" going on. Ask Pharell or Sam Smith for advice.

    I love these challenges; keep 'em comin'.

    DMG 3:03 PM  

    FIrst run through left me with a bunch of "s" and "ed" fills, so I was amazed when I realized I had somehow managed to complete this one. Then I came here to discover NEWMs made it another DNF!!

    But I had fun along the way. Grable gave me a questionable ALpeRT who finally morphed into ALHIRT. La GRIPPE always summons the wonderful, sneezing Vivian Blaine to mind. Knew the Queen, but given my spelling foibles, she started out as Wh......MINA, and had to spell herself. Also, only SF stadium I knew back in the day was in The Park (Golden Gate, that is) and I recalled it beng named Ksomething. Keaser, Kaiser,?? Happy memory of performing there once in a May Pole dance, ballerina skirt and all. Do they still do that? All in all, a fun DNF!


    Burma Shave 3:06 PM  


    nearly put me into BRACES.
    They found a WEAKSPOT in the law –The RULEON gambling places.
    Their GOALS to have a blackjackdraw,

    --- DEEN SNOOD

    Anonymous 4:25 PM  

    Hard enough for me today but a whole lot better than yesterday's diabolical conundrum. Finished fairly quick except for NE. I had upholds for 7D instead of embalms. That, Mr. Walden was one lousy clue. The next time I decide to keep a letter, I'll embalm it. Really??? All in all, a good puzzle with my personal rating of B+

    Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

    Montreal Xword Diva 6:25 PM  

    I loved this puzzle - fresh fill and clever cluing...got personal ad right off the bat and never looked back. Thanks Mr Walden.

    Anonymous 3:57 AM  

    I'm Rex's proctologist and on his last visit I found his head! Lol jk

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