1990s TV cartoon produced by Steven Spielberg / SAT 3-14-15 / Diamond Trucks bygone company / Subject of Hoyle treatise / Text interpreting technology used with PDFs / Online heads-up / Hip-hop's Kendrick / Art of sly wit

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Constructor: James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SHAMWOW (35A: Infomercial product said to hold 12 times its weight in liquid) —


  1. (trademark) A brand of absorbent cloth  [quotations ▲]
    • 2009, John C Bieber, Angels‎
      You might as well buy a couple of ShamWows and least you get your money's worth.
    • 2010, Scott Adams, Dilbert comic strip "Use this Shamwow to absorb someone else's soul while you suck on the other end" [1]
    • 2009, G. B. Trudeau My Shorts R Bunching. Thoughts?: The Tweets of Roland Hedley‎ - Page 25 "From now on, will soak up her briefings like Shamwow"
    • 2008, Jeff Zahratka, Sweepers Sweepers Man Your Brooms: An Enlisted Man's Story‎ - Page 167 'He had sincere ambition, and he would soak up information like a "ShamWOW" sponge.' (wiktionary)
• • •

Wow. If you want to understand why I found yesterday's puzzle so disappointing, just look at this one. *This* is what I expect NYT themeless puzzles to be: brimming with current, vibrant, interesting fill. MONEY TALKS, and this puzzle is money. It's definitely heavy on the pop culture (singers, movies, commercial products, whatever the BAHA MEN are, etc.), but it wasn't terribly obscure. In fact, I'd guess "ANIMANIACS" is the only proper noun that was legitimately obscure to a good chunk of the NYT solving set (15A: 1990s TV cartoon produced by Steven Spielberg). But it's not obscure. I've seen articles on it in my social media timeline recently, and I'm not sure why. Let me check. Hmmm, looks like Denver Comic Con will be hosting an "ANIMANIACS" celebration with the original cast in May. Maybe that's what I saw. Anyway, that show ran '93-'98, so if you were a grown person by then, you might've missed it. I was an only-partially grown 20-something, so I knew it. In fact, it was part of my opening gambit, which was super-strange: I can't remember ever opening a Saturday by getting two long, adjacent answers, one after the other, with no help from crosses. And yet … this:

I was semi-stunned when those answers ended up being right. It's true the puzzle was right in my knowledge sweet spot, but it's also just objectively better than yesterday's puzzle. Freshness, greater. Cleanness, greater. Even its abbrevs. are greater, in the sense that they are current and not TIRED. Loved seeing NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) in the grid, and I've known what OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is since the time "ANIMANIACS" was on the air—another nice, digital-age abbr. Well, maybe not "nice"—I wouldn't call OCR "good" fill. But insofar as I haven't seen it a million times and it is younger than the dinosaurs, I like it fine.

I was really disappointed in the TAYLOR SWIFT clue (5D: Singer/songwriter whose name anagrams to ART OF SLY WIT), in that there are infinite ways to clue her and you go with an inapt anagram? Anagram? She's the most famous pop singer in the world right now and you think we need an *anagram* to help us out? Bah. Also probably wouldn't've crossed EATEN (ALIVE) and ATE (IT) if I could've helped it (ditto WOODSMAN and BAHA MEN), but that seems a pretty minor issue. I liked seeing FIST because it reminded me of the Loretta Lynn song "FIST City" (which features prominently in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter," which I watched earlier this evening).

Didn't run into many snags today. Had HUNTSMAN and GAMESMAN (!?) before WOODSMAN (14D: Savior of Little Red Riding Hood), and that NE corner (consequently) was the toughest of the lot for me (still not tough). Favorite corner was probably the SW, with its WHAC-A-MOLE and HARRUMPHS. I had weirdly joked earlier this week about "whackamole" (sp.) being a word for bad guacamole, and then bam, I run straight into the dang thing. I told you this puzzle and I were on the same wavelength. The one thing I did not understand, though, was the clue on OMAN (23A: It's found on the toe of a boot). It was only after I was done, and after I'd searched [define oman shoes] that I realized "Oh … it's the Arabian Peninsula that's the 'boot.' I thought only Italy got to be the 'boot'? Oh well, live and learn (about boots)."
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:08 AM  

    Easy-medium for me too with NW the toughest area.  My last entry was changing BINGs to BINGO (that could be a tricky cross-- two proper nouns...). Never heard of ANIMANIACS but that's what it had to be given the crosses.   I'm with Rex on this one including the disappointing clue for TAYLOR SWIFT.  

    Only other erasure lbS to WTS.

    There's a lot of very good stuff here...BAHA MEN (got it off the B, annoying gave it away), SHAMWOW and most of the rest of the SW corner, SHELL GAME...liked it a lot! Delightful!

    wreck 1:28 AM  

    Once again I started REALLY slow, but this time it stayed slow for a very long time! The only "gimme" on the first pass(I'm embarrassed to admit) was SHAMWOW. I usually do the Saturday puzzle on Friday night - I think my patience for a solve that will take me longer than an hour is what gives me problems. I tend to quit early. That is my problem, not the puzzle's.

    Carola 2:17 AM  

    Agree with @Rex - super puzzle. But very tough for me and DNF (= "didn't need to fail," as well as "did not finish": I should have thought of REOs as trucks as well as cars but instead guessed wrong at LAMAn (L.A. MAn? - sounded rapperish to me) x nEO.

    The whole thing was like pulling teeth. Besides LAMAR, I didn't know ERIC BANA, SHAMWOW, ANIMANIACS, RENO, TAY, BAHAMEN, or OCR. My HARPISTS started out as violISTS and then cellISTS, and ST PETER began as a cheaTER (you know, those couples in bed where a spouse walks in).

    I liked the glee of BINGO! HAHA, CARTWHEELS, and REVEL and loved HARPISTS x ST PETER - all those harp-playing ANGELs.

    chefwen 3:26 AM  

    The mosquitos here are so small that you can't feel them land and you get EATEN ALIVE before you know it. In good old WI they feel like a bird has landed and there is time to swat the little suckers. Damn I hate those things.

    SHAMWOW was slow to come because I mute those commercials before the guy even opens his mouth, talk about obnoxious. Almost as obnoxious as the the Kirby sales team that knocked on my door today and I was dumb enough to let them in, one of my bigger mistakes in recent memory. That's three hours that I will never get back. I was doing CARTWHEELS when I finally booted them out, sans a sale. This is a warning to others that have yet been victimized.

    George Barany 3:51 AM  

    I have to admit, there was stuff in this @James Mulhern Saturday puzzle that stumped me, so I appreciate the lucid explanations and interesting links from @Rex.

    On this "super pi day" (3/14/15), my friend @John Child is back with another puzzle: Paws to Consider. It is Sunday-sized and has a "stealth" theme, but no specialized knowledge is required to solve it. I was planning to wait until 9:26:54 a.m. to tell you about it, but concluded that might be unfair to insomniacs, night owls, and those in Pacific and Asian time zones who might be chomping for another cruciverbal challenge. Enjoy!

    pfb 6:14 AM  

    Not knowing ANIMANIACS slowed me down, and I have seen the SHAMWOW infomercial enough that you'd think I could absorb something. Had BONUS for BINGO, and rappers are almost always a dead end. Take those few items away, and it was relatively easy for a Saturday.

    smalltowndoc 6:53 AM  

    On some posts in this forum, I see the acronym WOE. What does that mean?

    Question about one of the clues from yesterday's puzzle: what's a "Reuner"? Someone attending a reunion, perhaps? Couldn't find it in any online dictionary.


    GILL I. 6:57 AM  

    OOph...not easy for me either. I guess I live in a cave because I've never heard of ANIMANIACS, SHAMWOW, Hoyles WHIST, NSFW, OCR or PRU.
    I had to take a few breaks for the juices to get flowing...and they finally did.
    I really wanted to know where the K went in WHACAMOLE and why HET is fired up.
    The only way I remember how to spell Nastase's name is I LIE. That was my only easy entry.
    Even though I had to work hard, I really like this puzzle. Yes, it does feel fresh and with a little patience, everything is doable
    Good job JM.

    Danp 7:11 AM  

    I never would have guessed that the Vikings were into Acid Tests.

    Russell Long 7:41 AM  

    Someone must have let the dogs out again. Yesterday's WSJ puzzle also had Baha Men as an answer. When do tickets go on sale for their reunion tour?

    Z 7:41 AM  

    Rex is ruining the grumpy old man narrative today. I'm so mad I'm never going to read him again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.!

    A Tale of Two Puzzles here. The West was a Monday, the East a Saturday. I started with LAMAR/MONEY TALKS/RIATA and went from there. The east, on the other hand, had ERIC BANA (learned from crosswords)/WOODSMAN/EATEN-----. Everything else had be figured out one letter at a time. Even the threes were the WOE PRU (What On Earth is with all the WOE questions lately) and indecision between HET and HEp.

    Again, I mostly agree with Rex. As for TAYLOR SWIFT, she may be the most popular bellybuttonless pop star out there, but an anagram is the only way I'm going to get her on minimal crosses. Even with the anagram I had TAYL--SW--- before I filled it. At any rate, the anagram was fine as far as I'm concerned.

    Anonymous 7:46 AM  

    rex is too ridiculous for words. Yesterday's fill was god-awful, but today's OCR, PRU, INN, SRI, REO, are all the stuff of genius. I suppose Mr. Mullhern is a personal friend, or lover, or something.

    Anonymous 7:53 AM  

    lol INN as bad fill. Remainder of opinion disqualified.

    What's that old saying about remaining silent and being thought a fool and speaking and removing doubt.. time to stop talking (both of us)

    Anonymous 7:59 AM  

    Yes, and EEL and ERR are excellent fill as well. I mean, if they're in 25% of all crosswords, can they really be considered that clever? That's the point, isn't it? One man's bad fill is another man's genius. But saying it is lazy and sloppy one day and saying how original and brilliant it is the next shows some serious arbitrariness and makes rex look like a petulant child.

    Roo Monster 7:59 AM  

    Hey All !
    Happy Ultimate Pi Day!!!!!

    This date 3.1415 only happens once a century! Tell your friends, tell your family! Go out and celebrate!


    Anonymous 8:03 AM  

    Fun puzzle. I always thought of NSFW as "not safe for work" rather than "not suitable..." Like yesterdays's puzzle, with it's BREST, and AREOLA, and REARAREA, and LOOSELIPS. Todays was rated G. Also, did anyone else have LASer before LASIK?

    Anonymous 8:04 AM  

    Suggesting Rex is having sex with the constructor, on the other hand, makes you look like Ghandi.

    That's it, no more pellets for you, troll!

    Z 8:11 AM  

    @anon7:46/7:53/7:59/8:04 - Is that you Vlad? Get back to running Russia, people are worried.

    Rhino 8:14 AM  

    I liked this puzzle a lot, but, as a child of the 90s myself, I thought Tiny Tunes first, before ANIMANIACS. When it didn't fit, I became confused and cheated with google which took me down a nostalgic wormhole. I learned all about Tiny Tunes (they used several different animating studios, some good, some terrible - and they had a drinking and driving psa in which all the characters died) before coming back to the puzzle. So that was fun.

    Rhino 8:19 AM  

    Also, and I'm clearly the lone voice crying out from the wilderness - but I think pi day should be next year.


    If we are only going to five digits, we should round up to:


    That said, math nerds must have gone crazy on March 14th of 1592.

    Elle54 8:25 AM  

    "who let the Dogs out? Who, who ,WHO!" Baha men! Hahaha! Happy PI day (and my birthday!)

    Anonymous 8:44 AM  

    It seems that hyperbole is not recognized by some as a legitmate literary tool. Tool.

    NCA President 9:00 AM  

    I am a dad of kids 19 and 14, we used to watch the ANIMANIACS. Smarter show than you would think. Google Animaniacs and US capitals...my kids know every US capital because of that song and the advent of YouTube, watching and re-watching hundreds of times.

    No googling today and no cheats, but I had the usual Saturday struggles (OkR and LAMAl) which, after completing the puzzle and failing to get my little jingle, hid from me for a while. I think WHACAMOLE is less desirable than WHAkAMOLE...and WHACk-A-MOLE is best.

    A couple of answers I did not know but filled correctly because of crosses: TAY, ERICBANA, and WHIST.

    I'm going to go get another cup of coffee and watch this comments section for posters complaining that Rex liked today's puzzle and not yesterday's. When he likes a puzzle, it's because he's in tight with the constructor. When he doesn't like a puzzle, it's because he's a grump. Always entertaining.

    And completely apropos of nothing, the reason why ANON posters are different than anonymous NAMED posters, is that, while all of us are anonymous here, if you post without a name, you can post entire conversations with yourself, posing as different posters each time. Whereas, I, as NCA President, am tied to a particular name. Granted, I could go on as an anonymous poster and agree with myself (anonymously), but that takes way too much effort.

    So there you go...that's why names are better than just being "anonymous."

    Generic Solver 9:04 AM  

    Brimming with current, vibrant, interesting fill, or pop culture gone overboard? I found it to be the latter. Usually Rex pans puzzles for this, but I suppose if the pop culture references are things you are familiar with, that makes it a good puzzle!

    Anonymous 9:07 AM  

    I completely agree with NCA President! That man's a genius!

    Anonymous 9:21 AM  

    Joh Child's puzzle ends with "SSSSS." It also has a completely incorrect clue, thnking "ALGA" is plural. And we're touting it on another crossord blog site? I guess at least it reminds us how good NYT puizzles generally are.

    Sir Hillary 9:24 AM  

    Yeah, this one rocked. A complete pop culture "sweet-spotter" for me (LAMAR, ANIMANIACS, TAYLORSWIFT, THEINSIDER, SHAMWOW, BAHAMEN) so I tore through it.

    I also learned some new things:
    -- The Arabian peninsula is referred to as a boot. Thought it was just Italy.
    -- "Litmus" comes from NORSE.
    -- Hoyle wrote about more than bridge.

    Clues felt really fresh to me -- Mobbed by Mosquitos is wonderful.

    Only bummer in the whole thing was the TAYLORSWIFT clue. Why??

    Fabulous Saturday!

    AliasZ 9:26 AM  

    This was a mixed bag that I just could not warm to.

    I feel BSS, PRU, NSFW, OCR, NNW, ETC. unworthy of a Saturday themeless. I also feel that sparkling fill is as important, if not more so, as a "fresh" rapper's name, a group that produces the most annoying song, a product peddled by that even more annoying screaming guy with the lazy eye, a mediocre actor no one knows, or what he even looks like, a cute-enough singer-songwriter whose name can be remembered only by using an online anagram maker, and won't be remembered at all in ten years, and a TV cartoon that almost no one remembers. Especially on Saturday. One man's "fresh" is another's HARRUMPHS.

    Today we have clunky fill piled on top of pop-culture trivia of questionable NYT crossworthiness. On Saturdays I prefer PB-esque classic elegance or MAS-ian quad-stacks or Joe Krozel-ish envelope-pushing grid design, and above all, Saturday-tough clues. My very first entry was MONEY TALKS. Much as I enjoy the term, I expected a little more resistance than a simple, straight-up synonym for a clue.

    I loved WOODSMAN, MACHINE WASH, SCIATIC MITOSIS, and ST. PETER with ANGEL HARPISTS surrounding him, as well as MONEYTALKS, SHELLGAME, EATEN ALIVE and a couple more, but not enough to do CARTWHEELS.

    On BALANCE, I didn't think LOBSTERBIB provided enough protection from the splattering of LAMAR, ELHI, ONONE, TAY, SIMP and WTS to stain my lapel.

    I was considering ANGEL Romero's fine guitar playing as musical contribution, but let us instead listen to what a FINETUNED (well-tempered) piano is supposed to sound like.

    Off to play some WHAC-A-troll, and then to the Saturday Stumper. Cheers all.

    Generic Solver 9:33 AM  

    @NCA President: Which is worse, anonymous posters agreeing with themselves, or forums where people can "like" their own posts?

    jberg 9:40 AM  

    Curses! I fell for that SMEE/SnEE confusion, thought glop might be InKY, and so went with BaS. I'd never heard of that show- my youngest was 14 by 1990, but anyway we'd put the TV upstairs so the kids could watch it without bothering us. Had I but known.

    Whoever commented on John Child's puzzle, don't do that! Some of us may want to try it.

    Back home to Boston today. I hope some of the snow has melted by now.

    Casco Kid 9:43 AM  

    medium challenging. 93 minutes. 3 errors: ANaMANIACS/BaNGs/REs. That's a 3 way Natick here. Totally unsussable. At best I could have guessed the I ins BINGs/ANIMANIACS. But REO is just too obscure for me, and getting BINgO from "Ding ding ding!" ? Gimme a break.

    the rest was sussable with a lot of guesswork and therefore substantial and perisitent wrongness.

    cutS for LOPS
    fwiW for NSFW (both work for the clue.)
    faRoE for NORSE (required by fwiW)
    PArt for PACE
    and many, many more

    The only gimmes: SRI, NNW, PRU. everything else was one flavor of Hail Mary or another. I was lucky to get as close as I did, and I honestly believed I had solved it, he HARRUMPHED.

    Really, I'm not NCA President. 9:44 AM  

    @NCA President is the BEST! Everything he says is a pearl of wisdom that changes my life for the better. (No WAY this could have been posted by the guy who calls himself "NCA President" because he is NOT anonymous.)

    evil doug 9:51 AM  

    I had a three-way in Natick once.


    Anonymous 9:57 AM  

    BINGO did not ring a bell with me.
    Had BINGs/REs- so a dumb DNF- liked the rest except for HET- isn't that old-timey?


    BillyC 10:02 AM  

    There goes Barany again, promoting a puzzle -- this one that he edited.

    joho 10:04 AM  

    What a wonderful Saturday puzzle!

    The entire east side fell quickly but I struggled in the west. The struggle was well worth it as HARRUMPHS, SHAMWOW and WHACAMOLE, MONEYTALKS and LOBSTERBIB revealed themselves.

    @anon 8:03, yes, I had LASer before LASIK. I also had god before ORB and wanted knitterS before I got HARPISTS.

    I also wanted hoOVErED before SHOVELED ... don't even know if that's a term.

    @jberg, I too, had BaS parsing it ANIMANIA CA as in California. So there's my one wrong square!

    This puzzle was definitely FINETUNED, a true delight which I could REVEL in ... thank you, James Mulhern!

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:05 AM  

    Good puzzle, which is to say, I thought it was going to be impossible (so many of the pop culture answers were outside my wheelhouse), but finished OK in Medium time.

    Three write-overs: FWIW before NSFW; LASER before LASIK (as asked about above); and, no excuse, ELIE before ILIE.

    My very first entry was ST PETER. I'd like to say that is because I read the New Yorker (which I do), but in fact I've seen that clue/answer combo in crosswords before.

    John V 10:10 AM  

    Way out of my domain. Not even close to easy. Bit too heavy on poo to get a toe hold.

    Liked yesterday much better than today.

    John V 10:11 AM  

    That would be pop, not poo. Or poo, if you prefer.

    Hartley70 10:13 AM  

    This was really tough for me. I've never heard of SHAMWOW because I like to sleep in the middle of the night. Come to think of it, I've never heard of ANIMANIACS, OCR, LAMAR, REO, NFSW, or the TAY Bridge either. Oh and I spelled LASIK with an x. Not my finest hour.

    Numinous 10:14 AM  

    First probing of the NW gave me mr. SMEE and the gaucho's REATA (la REATA is where we get the word lariat). Those downs confirmend my very first thought, LOBSTER BIB. ANIMANIACS was also a gimme because a guy I had worked with at Hanna-Barbera had come over to the Warner Bros. lot to work on that show while I was working for Lorimar there.

    @chefwen. In Sydney, Australia, the mozzies are so bad you need to sleep under a mosquito net and burn mosquito coils to keep them at bay. They are only rivalled by those in Alaska: There, they will tell you that the smaller ones sub-contract to carry air freight.

    Throwing another log on the fresh and modern fill fire: none of the loggers I worked with in Mendocino county would ever have thought of themselves as WOODSMeN. Apart from in Little Red Riding Hood, I've never ever heard the term WOODSMAN.

    @GILL I., some of the anonymice here regularly get all HET up over Rex's remarks and some of the regulars here get all fired up over them.

    Took me a while to see BAHA MEN partly because I want to spell it BAjA. I also wanted TAYLOR SWItT before SWIFT (I don't listen to that kind of music so she's basically a nobody to me). The NE was the last to fall for me because I only had WOODSMAN for a gimme and I wanted some form of accuracy for "Well-calibrated". I finished this one in under an hour with no googles.

    ***NO SPOILERS*** re yesterday.
    @Casco – I reckon you've hit middle school. It wasn't so long ago that you would not have been able to solve a Friday puzzle at all. Celebrate by giving yourself a pat on the back, a double martini and a promotion. My inner 15 year-old sniggered at the potentially lascivious answers (as pointed out) yesterday. Thank you, @Muse.
    I wrote a long post which got deleted from the comment box before I could post it and was too tired to write it again. In it I had embedded links to the Sugarland song (which I enjoyed looking at without particularly liking the song) and to a Cheryl Crowe song (that has a rather bland vidwo while the song is full of visual imagery) with a title that sounds similar to Sugarland's. I said no spoilers (no direct ones at least) so I won't post the links again.
    G'bye G'rth and the rest of the Anonyrats abandoning us. Nice to see your 57 A's as y'all depart.

    off to see the wizard 10:20 AM  

    Apparrently the tin guy from the Wizard of OZ was a woodman, not a WOODSMAN. Who knew?

    If It Makes You Happy 10:23 AM  

    Are all you people spelling Sheryl Crow's name wrong on purpose just for spite?

    Anonymous 10:26 AM  

    @John V @1010: It can be really hard to get a toehold in poo.

    Loren Muse Smith 10:27 AM  

    I agree with @Z - west was pretty easy but the east was pretty hard.

    Some mistakes:

    "Brad Pitt" for ERIC BANA. I don't know how many times I erased BARN.
    "Did some wash" for MACHINE WASH, having me marvel that some "nori" out there was from Bolivia. Who knew?
    "hot" for HET, obviously
    "Hindi" or "Greek" for NORSE
    "laser" for LASIK. Devious, that
    "fwiw" for NSFW – hey, @Casco
    "Pampers" fwiw, can hold over 15 times its weight. Ok – maybe an exaggeration, but still.

    Other mistakes I didn't make because they wouldn't fit:

    "Ed Asner" for the Hector portrayer. But I had this thought only briefly. I mean, c'mon - the man is becoming quite the toast of the grids recently.
    "Starship" for BAHAMEN. "We Built This City" gets so much hate.
    "Balanced" for FINE TUNED.
    "Brevity" for the journalistic ideal. And I didn't want to note that because everyone will call me out on the treatises I post here.

    Am I the only one who liked the clue for TAYLOR SWIFT? Wonder if James considered for 1A's clue, "Maine restaurant freebie whose name anagrams to 'slobber bit.'"

    You know what really brought me up short? Who was it who saved Little Red Riding Hood? I stared out the window panicked. I. Could. Not. Remember. Did she save herself? A deus ex MACHINa? Did Ed Asner come storming in? When MAN emerged, I made it WOODSMAN and was ridiculously relieved. (Rex – didn't think to consider "huntsman" or "gamesman.")

    I know I'm predictable. So. . . . Go Heels.

    James – can't shake my Dukes at you today – great fun. Like your last name! Irish?

    Charles Flaster 10:31 AM  

    Medium with the old three way natick.
    Really thought Kendrick would be LA Man as opposed to SF Man or SD Man.
    Felt I really should have associated REO with trucks especially with the huge hint.
    Rex is right on again in his review.
    Enjoyed puzzle a great deal.
    Have not thought about MITOSIS since 1963 -- Brooklyn College-- Doctor Wheeler.
    I did not turn CARTWHEELS after that experience but he was impressive in a Kingsfield way.
    Attended Maxwell Football Awards last evening where honors are given based on football and off field activities.
    Not a dry eye after Jim Kelly's speech.
    Really impressive evening!!
    Thanks JM.

    Anonymous 10:39 AM  

    Yeah if Barany really did edit that other puzzle he should be embarrassed. "Unwanted pool visitors" as a clue for ALGA? I'm just a beginner, but isn't the answer supposed to be plural if the clue is plural? Het, maybe I should edit crosswords. Seems easy.

    Casco Kid 10:39 AM  

    @billyc Hey, did you do that puz that George recommended the other day? Didja? Didja? Get back to us when you've done it. ;D

    Teedmn 10:44 AM  

    Nice puzzle, Mr. Mulhern, even though a DNF for me. The NW knocked me out of the running for a clean solve. I'm totally with @Casco on the BINGO with the LAMAR/REO Natick.

    I had fwiF at 11A at first so 11D was faRSi. Like @LMS, I wanted BARN but took it out several times. First in was WTS/FIST because I guessed SHAMWOW but didn't want to commit. Favorite error was WeRES before WIRES. I couldn't imagine what were-animals were doing sending messages, but eLIE looked so right.

    Anagramming one's name is all the rage these days - on the NPR show, "Ask Me Another", they use anagrams of their names during the end credits. Unfortunately, my name doesn't anagram to anything cool :-(.

    Happy Pi day to all. The blog had a late visit from Judge Vic yesterday (didn't seem like a fake anyway.) if anyone figures out if he was joking or not, comment on that post, please. I can't suss facetiousness in comments.

    r.alphbunker 10:46 AM  

    Searching cartoonbank.com for "st peter" produced 72 results.

    I think the clue for 57D should be {Natick, MA to Green Mountain National Forest direction}. In fact I propose that all three letter directions originate at Natick.

    I wish Rex would give us something like

    Casco Kid 10:51 AM  

    @Numi The terms for promotion to second grade are pretty strict: 7 unassisted, error-free solves in a row. No "social" promotions in Rex school. Retards have to repeat the grade. If I don't get it by June, I have to go to summer school. Then if I don't get it by August, it's first grade all over again. Sigh. But thanks for the kind words. I am able to summon more patience these days than even a few months ago. Doing @George Barany's puzzles as extra homework has helped a lot. His standard for fairness of clues and entries is higher than Will's. I don't think we'd see E=MC or ARIZONIANS from him. So when I go back to NYT, I have to loosen up a bit and expect a certain amount of randomness, as with the uncrossed FIRE_rebuses this past Thursday. (Yes, I finally got the schtick, but during the solve they were uncrossed rebuses.)

    OISK 10:56 AM  

    Ugh. Horrible. I did solve it, but didn't know until I checked that I guessed right on Lamar?? and Reo? Which contained Animaniacs? Two pop cultures and a corporate name together. Awful. Then there was Eric Bana?? and Bahamen? one over the other. Role for Ferrell on SNL? NSFW ?? Taylor Swift?? ( I do think I have heard that name) No cartwheels for me - what do unhappy people do?? Rex likes this kind of stuff, and I don't. So I liked Friday's and disliked Saturday's, the opposite of what he enjoyed.

    No criticism of the constructor is implied; these are matters of taste. But when there are a great many answers that mean nothing to you after you solve them, and will mean nothing to you in the future, it diminishes the joy. ( also, and I absolutely do NOT wish to offend my gay friends, (or anyone else) it seems to me that the rainbow flag signifies "pride" in much the same way that the U.S. flag signifies "pride." One is gay pride and the other patriotic pride, but the clueing there just bothered me a little.)

    Nancy 10:56 AM  

    Had the same solving snags that @Carola, @GILL I and @Harley 70 had. All those pop culture clues and cyberspace acronyms. Grrrrr.
    But the awfulness of the names and titles thing was somewhat offset by the terrific non-proper-name clues and answers: MONEY TALKS (my first entry); HARRUMPHS; EATEN ALIVE; WHACAMOLE; MACHINE WASH. Kudos also for the misleading clues to LOBSTER BIB and CARTWHEELS.

    There were so many opportunities to Natick in the Northeast and Mideast and I almost gave up. But I persevered...and was rewarded with a lengthy but complete and correct solve. I imagine OISK will hate this one a lot.

    Nancy 11:00 AM  

    I see that OISK did in fact hate this. We posted our answers at the dame time -- seemingly to the nano-second. Great minds not only think alike, they sync alike!

    mathguy 11:05 AM  

    First time through, I only had one letter. The B in BSS. That suggested that 1A might be some kind of bib. Then I figured out the anagram for TAYLOR SWIFT and I had a toehold.

    The Closer and I had both seen THEINSIDER but couldn't remember that Pacino was in it. Thinking more about it, did he play the 60 Minutes reporter?

    Very tough. Feel good that I got it with only one cheat (SMEE).

    I'm having a problem with the captcha.

    Crux Logger 11:10 AM  

    Anagram fan -- gives added topography to solve.

    Notsofast 11:12 AM  

    WOW! Gritty, fresh, smile inducing. Great job.

    defender of "Natick" 11:33 AM  

    Sorry to pretty much everyone who has commented on this particular aspect of the grid, but BINGO in this context is an exclamation, NOT a proper noun, and therefore in no way qualifies as part of a Natick. LAMAR AND REO definitely do qualify, as they are relatively obscure proper nouns/brand names. Once again: when we use "Natick" to mean "any word I don't know" it loses its meaning.

    Norm 11:34 AM  

    Did not like. Some interesting fill, but too much pop culture trivia. And, SHAMWOW? What? Just too annoying for me to warm to the puzzle.

    Anonymous 11:41 AM  

    Add: ORB, BSS, ENT, ETC. Rexrants are full of passionate intensity, but they are also boring and predictable. He's obviously a bright guy, but his petty jealousy and small mindedness have made him almost unreadable. I feel sorry for him; a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

    Craig O'connor 11:59 AM  

    "Ding ding ding" means bingo? Whoever wrote that clue just got a one-way ticket to Fist City!

    Ludyjynn 12:01 PM  

    THEINSIDER was a gimme and went in first, opening up the entire South. This was a brilliant film by Michael Mann, w/ wonderful performances by Russell Crowe, who should have won the Oscar playing the Big Tobacco whistleblower, Jeffrey Weigand, Al Pacino, playing the "60 Minutes" segment producer who got screwed over by CBS upper management, which was in the throes of a buyout and feared litigation over airing it as originally filmed, and Christopher Plummer, doing an inspired Mike Wallace impersonation. I used this film repeatedly when teaching Business Ethics at Hopkins. Great steppingstone to discuss corporate malfeasance on so many levels! Students agreed.

    This puzzle is for me the epitome of why this blog, as in RexParker's baby, is invaluable and why all the blithering anonymice can go to hell. There is simply no way I would have been able to finish it a year ago w/o all I have absorbed (by osmosis?) from Rex's critiques and observations of cruciverbalism. I would still rate it as medium-challenging, but back then it would have been unsussable. Thanks, Rex!

    Loved LOBSTERBIB, and am now drooling over the thought of my fave crustacean for dinner.

    Thanks for the workout, JM and WS.

    old timer 12:03 PM  


    NNW is fine because it has become a crossword convention that three-letter directions can be used anytime. I think ETC is lame, though I suppose sometimes inevitable. BSS is just Awful. Or at least Awkward, while with BAS or ABS you don't mind the omitted apostrophe. The others? Timely and amusing NSFW, OCR, very much in the language, and PRU (the Boston landmark) is certainly not overused.

    Being somewhat older than Rex, the puzzle was not at all in my wheelhouse. 0h, some things were. Back in the Bad Old Days, I once visited 42d Street at midnight, and was lured into a SHELLGAME. Made money, too, because I was not Born Yesterday (yes, a reference to George Ade), and knew he would let me win the first few times. As I walked away, a couple of onlookers wanted to play, so I suppose the shell-game man ended up making money that night.

    I liked the clue for TAYLORSWIFT and *needed* it to guess her name. LAMAR and ANIMANIACS were a potential Natick that wasn't. Never heard of either. Had heard of REO. But I don't remember ever seeing one of Mr. Olds's trucks.

    I thought the SW was a delight, especially when I found HARRUMPHS. I had to Google for ERICBANA. After I did, I should have figured out MACHINEWASH -- I was looking for something laundry related. But I didn't, until I Googled for THEINSIDER, a movie I had long ago put out of my mind.

    old timer 12:05 PM  

    P.S, Hoyle never wrote about bridge. He was alive over 200 years ago, I believe, and therefore wrote about WHIST. I knew it would be either that or "cards" which also fits.

    Lewis 12:06 PM  

    Bravo, Sir James. This was one fine puzzle. I thought all the pop culture answers were fairly crossed. There was clever cluing -- MITOSIS, LOBSTERBIB, MACHINEWASH, GUM -- and the long answers were terrific. A good number of the longer answers came with just two or three letters in, making for some good braingasms.

    Eddie 12:23 PM  

    Finished this in about 2 hours, newsprint edition, paper and pen. No help from the web at all. In my book that's crazy-easy. Disappointing, even. Normally the Saturday puzz takes me 2 days (laugh if you will, just an average solver here, King of nothing) and I enjoy that weekend-long challenge.

    This one fell like dominos in an earthquake. Taylor Swift clue was interesting but silly-- giving the letters away in an anagram? For a Saturday? That's Monday simplicity, imo.

    It's only noon and I'm done. I can only recall that happening one other time in the past ten years.

    Lewis 12:23 PM  

    Factoid: The infomercial for SHAMWOW initially claimed that the product held "20 times its weight in liquid". Later, that was changed to "12 times its weight in liquid", then again to "10 times". Consumer Reports did its own test on the product and found that it does indeed hold 10 times its weight in liquid but no more. (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "I haven't reported my missing credit card to the police because whoever stole it is spending less than my wife." -- ILIE Nastase

    Nancy 12:24 PM  

    Thanks @old timer! I learned something valuable from you today -- something far more vital than knowing the meaning of NSFW or SHAMWOW. If I ever see another SHELL GAME in NYC (which I probably won't), I'll know to play a few rounds, since the con artist "always lets you win" the first game or two. Something I didn't know, actually. Imagine all the money I might have made...

    Roo Monster 12:26 PM  

    It's time! (At least in the Pacific time zone) Ultimate Pi Day time, 3.14.15 9:26:53! Raise a glass.


    Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:30 PM  

    Har! Rumphs.

    Agree with @63 on a whole passle of stuff:
    * SatPuz thUmbsUp.
    * OCR was the weeject that caught my eye. Better clue: {Roc after a crash landing??}
    * Easier than snot solve, but fair (...& BALANCEd).
    * SHAMWOW was easy, at my house. Someone handed these out at a recent Masked family reunion.
    * NSFW was not easy. Looks like letters on a deterioratin weather vane.
    * TAYLORSWIFT clue was different. I like different.
    * fave clue: "Like glop". First reaction: OINK.

    PuzEatinSpouse is makin pies for Pi Day. No way is M&A gonna try to explain the whole concept further ...


    ** gruntz **

    Steve J 12:35 PM  

    Excellent Saturday. Challenging, but with enough give where things became clear with a little work and thinking.

    Agreed with others that the west was easier than the east, but both had the characteristic of having an answer that would finally come into view, causing a whole corner to fall. HARRUMPHS (great word) brought the SW together, MACHINE WASH gave me the SE, TAYLOR SWIFT unlocked the long crosses in the NW.

    Lots of fun fill, some fun clues. I can see how this would be a bit pop-culture heavy for some. As @Oisk said, it's a matter of taste. (What I don't get regarding pop culture is the visible contempt some others display. Yes, a lot of pop culture is ephemera. But it's still part of the world we live in. And today's classics all started off as yesterday's pop culture.)

    The various banter with trolls - multiple anonymice (or one with multiple personalities), Billy C, etc. - reminds me of something I came across the other day on the futility of engaging with trolls: "You're not the jackass whisperer."

    mac 12:47 PM  

    Good, hard Saturday, with just too many expressions I didn't know. You've seen the list.

    I had everything South of the diagonal plus a few down answers, then had to piece the rest together. Still ended up with a few empty boxes (simp/shamwow, icky/animaniacs). Not my wheelhouse today, too bad.

    @John V: I was certain you created a new term for pop culture clues!

    Anoa Bob 12:49 PM  


    Anonymous 12:51 PM  

    Yes @ Craig @ 11:59: "ding ding ding" as in "eureka!" as in BINGO! Little bells going off in your head as occurs in an AHAMOMENT.

    M and Also 12:53 PM  

    I vaguely remember a coupla St. Peters cartoons, from the New Yorker*:

    1. St. Peter is askin some dude, prior to entry to the pearly gates, what the make of his first car was.

    2. Long line waitin to see St. Peter. Off to the side, a buncha angels streakin thru, in the Express Pass lane.

    fave NYer cartoon: Two beavers have completely gnawed thru a tree, but it's still standin there, upright, like nothin's happened. One beaver is waddling off, sayin, "I'll go see what's holding things up!". har.

    But, I digress.


    * First thing I do, when we arrive at the inlaws, for Thurs Hello Fresh night, is to find their NYer mag and check out the cartoons. Then rub the dog's belly, since he is already lyin there patiently, belly up. Then I say "yo" to the sis&bro inlaws.

    Master Melvin 12:55 PM  

    OCR is one of the crappiest pieces of fill I've ever seen, but Rex likes it!? I guess crappy fill is OK if it's contemporary crappy fill.

    And it crosses a box that could be C or K or both. Sorry, that's just bad.

    Leapfinger 12:56 PM  

    WHIST now, Macushla, and here I thought a SHAMWOW was some kind of mountain goat like an ibex!

    Count me as one who liked the the long fill, although HARRUMPHS were audible over the Nokay WHACAMOLE. Personally, did not think that the entries were passe/Trite/TIRED; otoh, OCR and NSFW just SMELT bad. It was plain ignorance of the subject matter that tried Ed Harris for ERIC BANA, LENO for RENO.

    Was not able to get to the puzzle last night, because ACC Tournament. Can't say the Cavaliers were Well-tempered at day's end. Seems they put the CART before the HEELS. Shall have to see if those Fighting Irish (WHIST, Macushla!) will cry UNCle tonight.

    Best Wishes to @Elle54! Are you now Elle55?

    Oh, and @Teedmn, thanks for yesternight's stellar start with embedding links! Your Anosognosia is much appreciated.

    I'm being circumspect 1:04 PM  

    Does Mrs. Evil know about that?

    (I know, I know that's a set-up. Jes' wunderin')

    Evan 1:13 PM  

    @Casco Kid:

    "Retards"? Seriously? Please find a different word next time.

    Andrew Heinegg 1:16 PM  

    There is no hope for the Rex hater you are justifiably taking to task. His routine is mechanical. If Rex doesn't like the puzzle, it is because he is a worthless human being. If he likes it, it is because Rex has a relationship with the constructor. The Rex hater has what I
    would term a pathological envy and the first step to treating any problem is to recognize you have a problem. Part of this person's pathology is thinking it is Rex who has the problem!

    Ludyjynn 1:16 PM  

    Mailman just arrived. Nestled among the magazine and bills was a $25 voucher for my next Pottery BARN purchase. Weird, huh?

    Wood 1:18 PM  

    Funny how different peoples' solving experiences are. I found the east much easier than the west at at about 20 mins had the whole east filled in and the west almost completely blank.

    Anybody else think the clue on 1 across was unfair? I had ___STERBIB and was determined that it had to be a verb phrase, so thought I must have had something else wrong. If I'd gotten it I would have cried foul. I didn't get it so I'm crying foul even louder. DNF due to 9 blank squares in the NW. Gah!

    Nancy 1:24 PM  

    Hi, @Steve J: Your comment:
    "Today's classics all started as yesterday's pop culture" was thought-provoking, so I ruminated on the subject. Back to my 1950s childhood. And what I came up with was the other side of the coin, i.e. "But not all yesterday's pop culture ended up as today's classics." I scrupulously picked out '50s hit songs that I actually remember, as opposed to the scores of songs I don't remember at all. But for people under the age of 55, maybe even under the age of 60, how many of them will have ever heard of the following -- all VERY BIG in their day? Take this test down Memory Lane. (My lane, but not yours):
    I'm playing perfectly fair, here, since I can still sing all of these. They were all on Your Hit Parade, many at #1. And, though they were pleasant enough diversions, they have all faded into much-deserved obscurity, no?

    On the other hands, there were some pop songs from that era that did become (minor) classics. I think younger people may know some of these:

    My problem with the pop trivia in many recent crossword puzzles is that I don't think most of it will be remembered ten years from now, much less 50. Thoughts, anyone?

    nom nom nom 1:27 PM  

    I simply love all the meta-(and self-contradictory) responding to trolls. "Don't respond to trolls." "You're not the jackass whisperer." "Don't feed the trolls." "Ignore the trolls." Fail.

    OCR FTW 1:31 PM  

    OK, OK, all of the defenders of rex are correct: OCR is an excellent, creative, and hip crossword puzzle answer. Our bad for criticizing it, for the great and powerful rex can never be wrong.

    demit 1:41 PM  

    I'm oddly disappointed that I finished in half the time a Saturday puzzle usually takes me. I should be elated! But even though I harrumph at how sometimes Saturdays are nearly impossible, I get more satisfaction when I finish. Oh well.

    My only complaint is the clue for BALANCE. I don't think that should be a journalistic ideal, and I'm pretty sure it didn't used to be. It used to be objective truth.

    Steve J 1:46 PM  

    @Nancy: Agreed that not all of today's pop culture makes it as tomorrow's classics. I'd say most doesn't. That's what i was getting at in saying that most pop culture is ephemeral.

    It's tough to say now what's going to stick around. TAYLOR SWIFT probably still will be well-known 10 years from now. The largest-selling artists of an era tend to be. Fifty years? Who knows. Some of today's stuff will hang on that long. I'm not going to even try to predict what will.

    As for your list of songs from the 50s, I recognize "That'll Be the Day" and "Mambo Italiano" (and I may recognize others if I heard them). On your classics list, I don't recall "I Believe" by title only. For reference, I'm in my mid 40s.

    But the larger point is that the fact that most pop culture is throwaway, not all of it is. And even if it's not to our individual tastes, it's not deserving of universal dismissal or, worse, contempt.

    Bird 2:44 PM  

    A good workout, but the fill (OCR, TAY, WTS, ETC) and clues (5D) could be better for a Saturday.

    bush before RENO
    Omaha before ON ONE
    god before ORB
    LASer before LASIK
    ashe before ILIE (A before I, no?)

    Mohair Sam 3:14 PM  

    What a wonderful Saturday puzzle. Seemed hard to us, but we finished it fairly quickly - so we'll agree with Rex's rating. There was stuff we had to fill (LAMAR, ERICBANA), Lots of stuff we didn't know we knew until the aha moment (ANIMANIACS, NSFW), and lots of clever cluing - what's not to love?

    We fall in with the yes voters on OCR - nice and uncrosswordy to us - and very much in the language for over 20 years. It is a Saturday after all, and I bet it passes the 25% test.

    Took @Nancy and @Steve J's advice from yesterday and just glanced at Rex's comments before hitting the comments - it worked! But as I read I realized that Rex liked this one. He always seems smart and fair when he takes my point of view.

    Great puzzle James Mulhern, thank you.

    MDMA 3:14 PM  

    20 Across has its own Wikipedia article: "The Tay Bridge Disaster", by William McGonagall.

    Full text of the poem, a disaster about a disaster

    Thomaso808 3:23 PM  

    @Wood I agree that 1A was wrongly clued. The clue "tie one on..." clearly calls for a verb. "One tied on..." would have been a correct clue. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe you sit down in a Maine restaurant these days and exclaim, "LOBSTERBIB me!"

    beatrice 3:32 PM  

    The mathematician Steven Strogatz says in the New Yorker, "The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity in reach". Similarly, the genius of Papa Haydn allows us to experience the creation of our cosmos. Here are Days I and II; at the end of Day II, the ANGEL Gabriel sings

    The marv’llous work beholds amaz’d
    the glorious hierarchy of heav’n
    and to th’ ethereal VAULTs resound
    the praise of God,
    and of the second day.


    Pi to Hayden 4:28 PM  

    Worst. Segue. Ever.

    Nancy 4:34 PM  

    @Steve J: Here's the original version of I BELIEVE, from the '50s, sung by Frankie Laine. (Didn't realize you were so young, Steve. You're a veritable baby!)

    Z 4:38 PM  

    If you're going to criticize Rex for what he writes you'll look less like a fool if you demonstrate that you actually understood what he wrote:
    "Well, maybe not "nice"—I wouldn't call OCR "good" fill. But insofar as I haven't seen it a million times and it is younger than the dinosaurs, I like it fine."
    Exactly. Not an eel eating ern's IIIrd off-spring, but a modernish initialism that hasn't been beaten to death, yet.

    @Natick misunderstander - this is a couple of days in a row where you've posted inaccurate info about what a natick is. Please go to the FAQ page and read the definition carefully before you "defend" natick again. I agree that BINGO is not a natick, but because enough people parsed the clue without any problem, making it a fair enough cross for both ANIMANIACS and REO.

    michael 5:00 PM  

    Although pop culture is not my strong point, I found this one of the easiest Saturdays I can remember. Got the pop culture stuff from crosses without significant problems.

    Agree with Rex about Taylor Swift -- surely there was a better way to clue this (anagrams are usually gimmes for me).

    beatrice 5:07 PM  

    @Pi to Haydn

    You are too kind

    Anonymous 5:17 PM  

    @Thomaso808: "Tie one on..." is a cluing format that used to be much more common than it is now (hence the clue threw me at first). If you come across reprints of 1970s NYT puzzles you will see that type of clue a lot.

    Carola 5:22 PM  

    @Thomas808, @wood - Following up on Anonymous 5:17 above, I saw this clue as in the same category as "verb + it" clues (verb phrases like "hoof it", where the phrase seems to call for a verb but actually wants a reasonable noun to correspond to the "it." So "beat it" instead of wanting "scram," say, would want something like "carpet" or "egg." Not the greatest example of its kind, but I can't come up with a better one right now.

    r.alphbunker 5:52 PM  

    RE OCR

    The Puzzazz app uses OCR to recognizes your handwritten letters.

    Colby 6:01 PM  

    Puzzle of the year caliber.

    Anonymous 6:58 PM  

    Amazing. I guess each to his or her own. Really hated this puzzle. Ding ding meaning bingo? Animaniacs? Lobsterbib? Utterly boring with absolutely no zip or aha moment. Like reading Hoyles treatise on whist! ( does anyone still play whist?) yesterday's puzzle on the other hand was terrific ! Best of the year, with the fire in the hole theme leading into the word fire being attached to sixteen clues. Great on so many levels!

    Tita 7:00 PM  

    That extremely rare beast - A Saturday that I finish on Friday!!
    And a Friday/Saturday no-google bifecta.
    I AM feeling superior today.

    My expat parents, rather than sending boring home movies of we kids waving at the camera back to the family in the old country, would produce "real" movies - one was called The Medic, a story they came up with, and another, their remake of Little Red Riding Hood, starring yours truly in the title role, my brother as the HUNTSMAN, and our dog Agapito as the wolf.
    You get 3 guesses as to who won Best Actor.

    Loved the puzzle, not only "just because I could ace a Saturday, but for all hte reasons cited above.
    Thanks Mr. Mulhern!

    Questinia 7:03 PM  

    "Ed Asner" for the Hector portrayer". With Sonia Henie playing Helen @ LMS

    "Excellent Saturday. Challenging, but with enough give where things became clear with a little work and thinking" @ Steve J

    "and with a little patience, everything is doable" @ Gilli

    ^ ^

    Even extricating a Kirby salesman can take three hours but it eventually gets done!

    @ chefwen, I hope you got all your carpets really clean!

    mathguy 7:09 PM  

    @Lewis. The credit card gag is Henny Youngman's. At least, I've heard Henny tell it. He predates Nastase.

    David from CA 9:03 PM  

    @Rex. How can a puzzle that is supposed to be the most difficult of the week but lets you start with 2 10-letter "gimmees" be so enjoyable?

    Personally in the really disliked it crowd myself. might be a fine puzzle for some venue, but not a NYT slot where "WORDPLAY" I thought was the key. This was so largely about knowing names that it wasn't any fun at all.

    And thought the anagram clue was great, as it helped subtly by eliminating some wrong crossing guesses. If it had just been another specific proper name clue it would have been just another "know it or don't".

    OISK 9:25 PM  

    @Nancy, I could sing ALL of the songs you cited except ricochet romance. (and I never owned a recording of any of them. In those days( 1950's), "pop" was an all-encompassing genre) And I am pretty sure that I could not sing a single line of ANY of whatever are considered the top hits this year.

    Still living in the past - most of my favorite music is pre WW II.....

    Lewis 9:35 PM  

    @nancy -- I recognized all those oldies, including ricochet romance. Did you ever hear one called "Cross over the Bridge"?

    Nancy 11:05 PM  

    @Lewis: Hope you get this tonight:

    Cross over the bridge,
    Cross over the bridge,
    Leave your wicked ways behind you,
    Cross over the bridge,
    Leave your wicked ways behind you
    And true romance will find you--
    Cross over the bridge.

    I know it isn't easy
    To resist temptation's call,
    But think of how your broken heart
    Can hurt you when you fall...
    Etc. (It's late. Enough typing.)

    This is all from memory. My mind's a steel trap when it comes to remembering songs from my youth, every single lyric included. On the other hand, things I hear now can be impossible to memorize. But it once was absolutely effortless. You, too, it seems.

    Tita 11:06 PM  

    From yesterday - @Hartley- be still my heart - you DO know your way around a Buche de Noël!
    Maybe we can work something out - once I get back from Hawaii!!

    Elephant's Child 11:58 PM  

    'Change your reckless way of living,
    Cross over the bridge.
    Leave your fickle past behind you
    And true romance will find you.
    Brother, cross over the bridge.'

    "I don't want a ricochet romance,
    I don't want a ricochet love.
    If you're careless with your kisses,
    Find another turtle dove.'

    Yup, that part of my brain's still intact!

    The odd thing is, I can remember from childhood the Buche de Noel in all the detail: the fork-scored bark, the meringue 'shrooms, the stumps of branches, the candy-sprinkle moss and little dwarfs... all these details of appearance,but I don't remember anything about the taste!!

    oldbizmark 3:19 PM  

    loved this puzzle - and not just because i finished it quickly (or at all) for a saturday. good cluing, great fill. doesn't hurt when you get 1A off the bat. NSFW also helped. A "J" in BA(H)AMEN slowed me down a bit but other than that, pretty smooth solve. Sunday's is another story altogether...

    rondo 10:11 AM  

    This puz was soooo much easier than yesterday for me. Maybe that’s why OFL liked it, probably a near-record time for the speed solvers. Two write-overs for me at LASer before LASIK and datED for TIRED, so not much ink wasted today. The top row went in as if on auto-pilot and it was clear sailing on most of the downs from there.

    Actually knew Kendrick LAMAR; have heard a song or two on our local public radio station 89.3 The Current (stream it, easy to find) They do throw in the occasional rap song, but usually the Beastie Boys and that’s when the channel changes in my world. And LAMAR was on SNL semi-recently. But that’s about as far as my hip-hop knowledge goes. Except BAHAMEN and letting their dogs out.

    TAYLORSWIFT, need I even say it? Yes, I must – yeah baby. ERICBANA the equivalent for the ladies?

    Does anyone play whist anymore? My grandmother tried to teach me about 50 years ago, but I remember nothing of the game.

    Decent puz today, good BALANCE I thought.

    rondo 10:24 AM  

    BTW - still waiting for the day that HAHA is clued "Packer Clinton-Dix". And didn't we just have DIX the other day?

    Burma Shave 11:06 AM  


    she has such BALANCE, on that we PRIDE her,
    She’s fit to be EATENALIVE,
    and she’s as FINETUNED as any a soul.

    I’d do CARTWHEELS to find the right angle
    to go one ONONE with her and be THEINSIDER,
    but MONEYTALKS and that ain’t no jive,
    so I’ll make HARRUMPHS and just WHACAMOLE.


    today’s TIRED verse SHOVELED out in ABCD ABCD,
    do not MACHINEWASH

    spacecraft 11:58 AM  

    @Burma? TMI, dude.

    Well. Today we have quite a different review from the top. I am mystified as to what makes these entries "fresh" while the past two days' were "dull," except that it's heavy on tech jargon. Stuff like NSFW (OMAN, I thought SURE that was wrong but everything else worked) and OCR seem to be FINETUNED toward USERS of the internet. Is that what it takes to satisfy OFL? Techbabble? Rappers? NOTHING else can be fresh? Bah.

    I struggled through this, finishing with no errors by a lot of lucky guesswork. I don't even know how I got started in some areas. Most of it I didn't know. Sorry to say, I don't recall THEINSIDER at all, despite its many Oscar nominations. Last letter was the P at 48. What in the world is a "rainbow flag," and how does a flag mean PRIDE??? However, PRU seems short for Prudential; I guess their HQ is in Boston.

    The twin biology answers, MITOSIS and SCIATIC, were helpful gimmes, but mostly it was just guess and hope. I do agree that anagramming clues sets a questionable precedent; though I am fairly decent at unraveling them, I don't think I'd like crossword cluing to go off in that NNW.

    I didn't enjoy it as much as recent puzzles, but I have to admire the finished grid. I can still hear that huckster: "But if you act right now--'cause we can't do this all day--". What a HAHA.

    WHIST is a forerunner of the modern-day game bridge. There was no bidding; the dealer simply gave everyone thirteen cards, putting his own final card face-up; that suit became trump. And there was no exposed "dummy." Tough game.

    Despite my relative discomfort with some of the content, I have to give props: A-. Thus endeth my HARRUMPHS for today.

    eastsacgirl 1:45 PM  

    Not a bad day. One wrong letter. LOBSTERBIBS fell in right away as did the SE. Bought a SHAMWOW at the fair years ago.

    Anonymous 1:46 PM  

    Medium Challenging for me today. Never heard of Whacamole so left it as "What a Mole" which I've never heard before. OCR is way out of my league. I'm no techie, so there. The E fell fast and the W was a struggle. But, overall, I liked the puzz. I abstain from commercials so the Shamwow was a good guess.
    When you've gone through Sciatica once, you'll NEVER forget that nerve. I crawled around on all fours for 2 days before being driven to the ER. I remember the Dr. saying the only worse pain is giving birth. Believe me, a monthly visit to the Chiro is well worth it when you're over 70.
    He keeps me fine-tuned. And I have much more respect and empathy for the birth-givers in this world.

    Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

    DMG 3:05 PM  

    Confiidently penned in LOBSTERBIB and ground to a halt! This puzzle was way out of my wheelhouse, but then I!m about twice as old as Rex. Clawed my way through guess after guess. Who is ERICBANA? What is SHAMWOW? NSFW? OCR? Husbnd walked through about noon and said "Still at it?" And I was. f
    Finally accepted the strange spelling on the MOLE thing, and SRI is a title for anyone from India, and decided I was done. Amazed I ended up with only two bad squares, both resulting from BaNGs. Not bad considering I've never heard of the cartoon or the trucks. And still don't understand why BINGO works! Time for a lie-down!

    401-can't win here either!

    DMG 3:11 PM  

    Why is it no matter how any times I proof read, my entries always have some glaring composition mistake! Really came back to tell @Ron Diego that, having experienced both, I think sciatica can be worse. You get TLC and pain deadeners when it's baby time!

    leftcoastTAM 5:29 PM  

    I could not, and still cannot, connect the "ding ding ding!" clue with BINGO, so ended with BaNGs and a big DNF in the NW.

    Shoulda, coulda, woulda sussed out REO....

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