Maude's cousin on 1970s TV / SAT 5-23-15 / to the stars autobiographer / Mork's supervisor on Mork & Mindy / Led Zeppelin's final studio album appropriately / County of Lewis Carroll's birth / Hollowed out comedic prop / It's not for me to say crooner / Form of xeriscaping

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium (leaning toward the easier side)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: STEM fields (31D: ___ fields) —
STEM is an acronym referring to the academic disciplines of science,[note 1] technology, engineering, and mathematics. The term is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy. The acronym arose in common use shortly after an interagency meeting on science education held at the National Science Foundation chaired by the then NSF director Rita Colwell. A director from the Office of Science division of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists suggested the change from the older acronym SMET to STEM. Dr. Colwell, expressing some dislike for the older acronym, responded by suggesting NSF to institute the change. (wikipedia)
• • •

Nice work from Mr. Wentz, full of all kinds of traps and potholes, but ultimately very solvable. Fill is fantastically polished (except ONEHR, wth?), and the grid is teeming with good-to-great longer answers. It was a light workout, but I'll get my heavy workout (probably) tomorrow with the Newsday Stumper. This one fought me hard enough. I made many mistakes, but none of them fatal. I like a scrappy puzzle that isn't dickishly hard or full of rank obscurities. Here's what my opening gambit looked like:

[Me, after getting 17A: "Is that racist?" Answer: "No, not really"]

Solving this puzzle felt a bit like solving a maze, where I kept going down routes that turned out to be dead ends, then backing out and finding the right way again. Lather rinse repeat. It was a strange experience, being so often wrong but never having the feeling of being frustratingly stuck. How many mistakes did I make? Let's count. So ... I wrote in THIEF for 1D: Member of a den (HYENA). At some point I wrote in ARIA for 19A: "O Sanctissima," e.g. (NOEL). Had YEAH, I'LL BET for YEAH, I'M SURE (15A: "A likely story ..."). Then ENTIRE for EN BLOC (25A: All together). Further, EBAY for ETSY (30D: Modern collection of vendors). Must've had several varieties of wrong answer just trying to find the correct plural at 51A: Swedish coins (KRONOR). I moved over EXIT RAMPS before EXIT LANES (33D: You might move over for them on the highway). And between RAMPS and LANES, I made my last and greatest mistake—a twofer that involved SCARFS for SNARFS (46D: Gobbles) *and* MERCER for LERNER (48A: "My Fair Lady" lyricist). So, how many genuine mistakes is that? [1, 2, 3 ...]. I count nine. Nope, whoops, left one out. I had AGA and ALY before A LA (62D: Lead-in to a chef's name) because I misread the clue. Can you guess *how* I misread it? Yeah, you probably can.

Hardest answer for me to get was, oddly, OINK (39D: Word repeated before "here," in song) ("SONG" is in the grid (14D) ... but we'll just let that slide). This is partially because I misread the clue (yet again), and was thinking not "repeated before" but "before and after. Wanted OVER here... then thought maybe O, I AM here ... you gotta get pretty deep into "Old MacDonald" before you hit "with an OINK OINK here ..." It's not exactly a definitive lyric. Hence my struggle. So, yes, many traps, but still not too much difficulty. Fine weekend fare.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. we're just one week away from the inaugural Indie 500 Crossword Tournament in lovely downtown Washington, D.C.  Solve six puzzles by some of the top young constructors in the country! Hang out with dorks just like you! Realize you have no hope of winning and realize also that you don't care because that's not why you go to crossword tournaments! (That last one applies especially to me). Also, there will be pie. I have been promised. The puzzles will be good and the vibe will be loose and fun and if you've ever been tourney-curious, this will be a good place to start. All the info you need is here. Hope to see you there: Saturday, May 30, D.C.

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


jae 12:07 AM  

Tougher than yesterday's but still easy-medium for me.  

@Rex EbaY before ETSY, GnP before GDP, @Rex rampS before LANES and no WOEs. 

Saw George TAKEI  in Allegiance when it opened here at The Old Globe.  A moving experience.  Reviews were mixed but IMHO it's worth seeing when it hits Broadway. 

Solid  Sat. but light on zip.  A workman like liked it.

Bill McKinley 12:18 AM  

To my knowledge, I've never "snarfed" anything. I have scarfed on a fair number of snacks. And maybe it's just a product of my particular age, 35, but when I think of Snarf, my mind goes to the cowardly animal creature from Thundercats which happens to be what Google also thinks when you type in that search query. The dictionary definition is only the 4th or 5th result. Tie that in with my total dearth of knowledge of Broadway lyricists, and I was okay with having Lercer stay in the gird. Guess that means I technically scored a DNF but this is the second Saturday in a row I've finished and someone who is far from an elite solver I'm digging that trend.

AliasZ 1:12 AM  

There are so many great clues possible for STEM, it baffles me why an acronym (that I didn't know) was used. Just because it was never used before? Poor excuse. I never heard of THE CURE and SCOTCH EGG either, and perhaps deservedly so.

MAN HOUR and ONE HR? No, no, no, should not be. How about ONE HOUR and MAN HR? Does the abbreviation of a word already in the puzzle absolve it from breaking the sacrosanct rule of no repetitions? Would the word MOUNTAINS be also allowed?

I wasn't enamored of the center oblique swath of threes and fours either: AHAS, OOF, SHOO, PDFS, then MFAS, MTS, TSKS, TKOD and GDP. ETSY reminded me of Betsy Wetsy, and STOOD ON never stood on its own. IS TO and BEST BY? Really?

I do not consider such gibberish good fill worthy of a Saturday themeless. It's a real shame, because most of the long entries were real nice, and pretty enjoyable to figure out. But all the junk sucked the enthusiasm right out of me.

Sorry Peter, this one was a rather poor effort in my view. I have seen much better from you.

To make up for it with some good music, here is lovely Swiss soprano EDITH MATHIS, singing some Mahler with Lenny and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Enjoy the long weekend.

r.alphbunker 2:00 AM  

The SE was the last to fall because I had eigHt for {Common show time: Abbr} instead of ONEHR. Note to self: RTFC!

I finished with an error. The prime suspects were STEM field and OVER bet. The crosses on STEM were rock solid but I did not trust the R of OVER because it came from THECURE which I had never heard of although it sounds like a plausible name for a rock band.

Finally I asked for the culprit(s) to be highlighted and saw that the map abbreviation MTa and the modern collection of vendors ETaY was wrong. I had written in ETaY early on (its the red square at the right edge of the halftime grid) and had rationalized that MTa was on a subway map which I have been using a lot lately as I get around London and Paris.

Here is what wikipedia says an OVER bet is:

An over–under or over/under (O/U) bet is a wager in which a sportsbook will predict a number for a statistic in a given game (usually the combined score of the two teams), and bettors wager that the actual number in the game will be either higher or lower than that number.[2][3] For example, in Super Bowl XXXIX, most Las Vegas casinos set the over–under for the score of the game at 46.0. A bettor could wager that the combined score of the two teams would be either more than or less than that number. Since the combined score of that game was 45, anyone who had bet on "under" won.

Moly Shu 2:06 AM  

Agree 100% with @AliasZ. MFAS, TKOD etc. is the kind of stuff that @Rex usually blows a gasket over. What gives? The long answers were above average, but the crud was beyond cruddy. Now to go find out what ETSY is.

Dean 2:17 AM  

As one who lived in the UK for over a decade, I'm calling foul. Show me one pub that has Scotch eggs on the menu board. You find Scotch eggs in bakeries and supermarket deli counters, not pubs. And they're a finger-food snack eaten cold -- hardly anybody's idea of a "dish."

As for "deep-fried pub dish" ... in Britain, that doesn't exactly narrow it down.

John Child 2:32 AM  

I'm with Rex today. I agree about the technical quibbles - SONG and song, HOUR and HR. TSKS and TKOS are unfortunate fill. But I was having fun, and none of that mattered. It was challenging, There were, as Rex says, plenty of rabbit holes, but none very deep. And finding the longer answers was rewarding over and over. Thumbs up from me.

chefwen 2:57 AM  

Loved it, had a little hitch in the NW. 1 and 15A were slow in coming, but they finally appeared.
I love Scotch Eggs and have seen them in many pubs, here and abroad.

A real workout here, I will blame my two hour lunch with my friend. Not much good will come of that except a lot of laughs and a little gossip, always a good time.

Super Sunday coming up.

Queen Gertrude 3:07 AM  

AliasZ doth had a DNF, methinks

Anonymous 4:00 AM

Carola 4:04 AM  

I thought it was a fine Saturday puzzle. Tough for me, and enjoyable to grapple with. I generally made slow but steady progress except where the grid fought back in the STEM x TOX x CODA area; I also had to RENU my entries EcOLi and OlSON.

I liked the combination of YEAH I'M SURE and YOU LIE and the lively array of compound words: HATCHET JOB, ESKIMO KISS, SCOTCH EGG, CLOWN CAR, ROCK GARDEN, SCENE SHOP, EXIT LANES, FREECLIMB, SANDPAPERS (and, okay, the less lively MAN-HOUR).

Anonymous 4:11 AM  

Bonde Do Role - 'Office Boy' (2007) - YouTube

Loren Muse Smith 6:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 6:37 AM  

I guess this is the second Saturday in a row I wasn't able to finish. Like Rex et al, I had "Mercer" and "scarfs" in addition to "odds" (for OVER) and THE "Cars." And I don't think I would *ever* have gotten SCENE crossing STEM.

I loved the clue for OINK, and it was actually one of my earliest entries.

@Carola – at least MAN HOUR is livelier than our recent MAN YEAR.

Among my other goofs:

"field" for FLOOD
"mast" for PROW. Dumb
"poem" for NOEL
"Erkel" for TAKEI, but I didn't write it in. Just kept considering it
Clue redirects –

"you might move over for them on the highway" – CLOWN CARs. Well, wouldn't you give them a pretty wide berth?
"what fruit bats can carry" – JUICE and few crackers if it's gonna be a long trip.

All in all, a fine puzzle. Just too hard for me. Have a great long weekend!

May we all move over to the EXIT LANES in our EGO TRIPS of life. Actually I'm carried bodily every day by my students. OOF.

mathguy 6:44 AM  

LERNER was a gimme for me, I've read his delightful autobiography. Its first line is "My daddy was rich and my ma was good lookin'" His father was the owner of Lerner's, a successful chain of department stores at the time. His mother was his father's glamorous second wife. I think that the line is from a Broadway musical and I just tried to remember which one. Dr. Google wasn't able to supply the answer.

Very tough for me. Didn't know a lot of entries including STEM, TOX, SCENESHOP, RENU, ETSY and a lot of clues were devilish.

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

That line from Lerner's biography is from Summertime from Porgy and Bess (Gershwin). Nice quote!

Jon 7:20 AM  

I usually think of SCARFS for gobbles, with SNARF meaning to suck up and choke on a fluid (he snarfed some water when he jumped into the pool)

Billy C 7:55 AM  

@Ellen S. --

Continuation from yesterday's discussion ...

Right you are, and wrong Andrew and I were ... Doug Flutie was born in Maryland (though he only lived there for 6 years), not Natick.

However ... I maintain that Natick does have a partial claim on him as a "native son." * Not only has he lived there for decades now, but he also spent his entire high school years there before moving down the street to BC.

* Dictionaries vary on the definition of "native son." Some say it needs to be your birthplace, others that it simply refers to one whose primary lifetime residence is there.

GILL I. 8:05 AM  

I'm going to mosey on over to the fasT LANE with @AliasZ. Then I want to agree with @Rex on my several varieties of wrong answers. I won't bore you with all of them but damn, STU just had to be the chefs name....OINK.
@Dean: You'll find SCOTCH EGGS here in the USofA at anything remotely akin to a pub. The Foxes and Gooses seem to always have them on a menu. I'll eat eggs anyway they can possibly be cooked. My sister-in-law dared me to try one and actually like it. I did! The secret is using Farmer John's sausage pork links (and don't over cook the eggs!)
Sacramento is having its Musical Festival this week-end and so we're off to enjoy music and keep away from anything on a stick. Drink warm beer, it's good for you.....

Jim Walker 8:16 AM  

Half an hour with one mistake: ETaY for ETSY. Never heard of it. Didn't mind SNARFS since the Acrosses were locks. A bit on the easy side for Saturday, but some nice phrases. Not a gem, but not a waste either.

Z 8:18 AM  

Did you know that CrImEANS spent pesos and that O Sanctimonious was a pOEm? Of course, what do you do with H-EpA then? Anyone else never pause and consider Y or Z much when you are running the alphabet a half dozen times trying to figure out what you have wrong? DDNF this morning.

@Bill McKinley - Just between you and me, lots of us here aren't "elite solvers." Just people having fun talking about crosswords and whatever else tickles our fancy.

@r.alph - RTFC is some top notch solving advice. Also made me laugh with the "been there-done that" chuckle.

"Deep fried pub dish" is redundant.

Favorite crossing crooners, MATHIS and THE CURE, EMO lyrics by LERNER. It would be a great SNL skit.

Rhino 8:18 AM  

They have scotch eggs at Brits pub in Minneapolis. I liked them all right and didn't immediately have a heart attack. So it was a win.

I agreed with everything rex said, including the brief hesitation over Eskimo kiss (isn't that racist? I guess not).

Excellent Saturday puzzle.

Casco Kid 8:45 AM  

90 min. Started googling at 60. Finished with 3 errors: KRONeR/evEHR/TUvA. Not sure how I could have gotten those right without a google for KRONOR, which I didn't think I needed, or TUvA, which could easily be Japanese whatnot.

Unsussable. But I tried. Wanna see the wrongness? Sue you do.

Before googles:
[reputation ruiner] fAlserumOr off AESOP and ORSON
[O Sanctissima] pOEm
[All together] uNisOn, iNsynC for ENBLOC
[Docent degrees] Mlss for MFAS
[Ascent without assistance] soloCLIMB

STEM fields? Wha? STEM just isn't clued. RENU? Also a random character string. Puzzle gets a lot harder with unclued entries.

Medium challenging. Unsussable. Largely googleable.

ArtO 8:50 AM  

@mathguy, the song is "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess. "Your daddy's rich and your ma is good lookin".

Casco Kid 8:55 AM  

@mathguy Summertime, Gershwin

@Z hand up for crimean!
@R.alph hand up for eight, but then I did RTFC and finished with evEHR.

5/5 this week. Good week. Hopeless SatPuz.

Generic Solver 9:02 AM  

Without knowing ARGO, I found the extreme NE corner impossible to infer. Guessed AVID for AGOG and my goose was cooked there. I'm guessing Rex considered ARGO a gimme, and it's the literary clues that often skew his ratings IMO.

jberg 9:34 AM  

Wow, this was tough! I did finally get it, so I'm happy. But I was looking at puBLiC crossing rev up (for power) for a long time, which made it tough. Also eigHt at 53d. And soloCLIMB (@casco) -- which in retrospect, doesn't mean the same thing, so that one was my fault.

Then I thought that the reputation killer must be some kind of tomB, too. Amazing that I struggled back to completion.

It was less of a problem, but I had a colonoscopy yesterday (fun!), which had me thinking of a completely different kind of test at 29D.

@Rex, I read the clue for ALA right, but once I had the AL_ I thought I must have been wrong, as I couldn't think of a chef named ALi.

What I did misread was the county of Carroll's birth. I was saved from that one only because the crosses started to point so clearly to CHESHIRE, which is certainly not a country.

MexicAN before CHILEAN, of course -- almost did Spanish, even though they're in the Eurozone.

I never heard of CODA either, but with C--- and the clue, it seemed likely.

All in all, a nice struggle. Harder for me.

Mohair Sam 9:38 AM  

Voting with @Rex that this was a good Saturday puzzle. Tell ya why . . . . I'm betting that those of you who had gimmes or got CODA and THECURE off one or two letters had trouble with EDITH, MATHIS, and LERNER. And vice-versa. Hence that portion of the puzzle is both difficult and fillable for all. That's good work.

How about CHESHIRE for a gimme? I knew you'd be impressed. Dated a girl from Cheshire when I lived in England who proudly bragged that she lived near Lewis Carroll's birthplace.

When I was a kid the album covers for "Oklahoma!" and "My Fair Lady" leaned against my mother's stereo in the living room for years. The names LERNER and Loewe are burned into my brain. Could never make the mERcER mistake.

A nod to the grumpy @Alias Z - AHAS/SHOO/OOF packed tightly is pretty poor fill, but the puzzle was otherwise so much fun we didn't mind a bit. As far as the STEM complaint - It's a freaking Saturday for Heaven's sake, whataya want ____ cell? Sheeze.

Tried an ESKIMOKISS on Mrs. Mohair when she came down to breakfast this morning. Would advise others not to try this with a sleepy spouse.

Fun Saturday solve Mr. Wentz. Thanks.

Andrew Morrison 9:39 AM  

Wow. Much easier than last Saturday's brutal slog. There was a surprising amount of junk but the overall puzzle was enjoyable. The CLOWNCAR hint was a bit weak - hollowed out? Sure they take oit the seats, but hollowed? No matter.

Doug Flutie not originally from Natick? If you tuned in for any of the Flutiemania in the 80s and 90s it was all Natck, all the time. Nobody in MD uttered a peep. So, once again I learn something from the blogosphere. Or, in the blogosphere.

dk 9:40 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

Had scarfs and stared at 48A mumbling something and Loewe, something and Loewe….

The rest was just what i thought the fill would be. Except for 1A -- thought it was backstaber (sic).

I have stopped (mostly) second guessing myself. Adds another level of fun to dk's world of puzzlement.

Finally, when friends arrive from Colorado and offer you a small piece of chocolate: Just say no.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

When I hit the SW, I thought: If I Natick over one more rock band crossing one more product name, I'M GOING TO SCREAM! (Hi, @OISK) Nor did it help to have never heard of an "OVER" wager, whatever the hell that is. But I didn't Natick. I guessed right on all three clues and I solved. Yay! What an EGO TRIP.

Will someone please explain to me why "part of a countdown" is a SONG (14D). Please! I got SONG from SCOTCH EGG, which I never heard of, but was easy to figure out. But I still don't get SONG at all.

For the 2nd day in a row, I found the puzzle much more challenging than other people here. I originally had EBAY instead of ETSY (ETSY????); ECOLI instead of EBOLA; and KRONAS before KRONOR.

But like @mathguy and @Mohair Sam, I was helped by LERNER, which was a gimme. @mathguy: I didn't remember Lerner's great opening line from his autobiography, but I remember how great the book was. The title, if memory serves, is ON THE STREET WHERE I LIVE and it's the 2nd best theater memoir ever written, Moss Hart's ACT ONE, being the first. For those who haven't read either and who have any interest in theater at all, put both on your reading lists. You'll thank me, I promise. (This reminds me that I haven't read either for a long time and should probably re-read both.)

Anyway, despite ETSY, RENU and THE CURE, I enjoyed this puzzle a lot.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

Excellent puzzle, Medium solve for me, with several write-overs along the way:


30 D, EBAY >> ETSY


36 A, WAIST (!) >> WRIST

And I shared a smile with @jberg, mis-read "county" as "country" several times, and though I never put it in, seriously wondered if Lewis Carroll had been born in Scotland!

GeezerJackYale48 10:26 AM  

Just can't figure Rex out. "Medium, leaning toward the easier side". With STEM and ONEHR and ETSY? Alias Z, Moly Shu, you got it right. While I'm RANTing, AGOG for keen? What? Not even close. Yes, I finished, but had to guess some things that I still don't know or want to know. Took a lot of the fun out of it.

Norm 10:27 AM  

Ugh. Liked some of the fill -- e.g., ESKIMO KISS, FREE CLIMB, and HATCHET JOB were very nice -- but there were too many proper names for my taste. EDITH, CODA, MATHIS, LERNER, and THE CURE all crammed into the same section? Did not like at all.

Nancy 10:33 AM  

Just want to direct your attention to two very funny blog comments, in case you missed them: @Mohair's ESKIMO KISS comment (9:38) and @jberg's 39D misread test comment (9:34).

mathguy 10:47 AM  

Thanks to those of you who identified the daddy-is-rich line as from Summertime in Porgy and Bess. @Nancy: I love Broadway memoirs too. Besides the two you mentioned, I also remember the one by Arthur Laurents. Did Sondheim write one? I read an excellent book on his life.

Johnny Mathis and I are the same age and grew up in the Richmond district of San Francisco, near Ocean Beach. He went to public high school George Washington and I went to the Catholic schools. As a senior he set the high jump record, which in 1952 was 6-0.

Generic Solver 10:51 AM  

@Mohair Sam @9:38

I hate to blow your theory away, but precisely the first five answers I got were MATHIS, CODA, LERNER, EDITH and finally THE CURE in that order. Four of those are musical clues, so a serious musician could conceivably know all of them, and the Maude spinoff from All in the Family is pretty well-known.

Nancy 11:01 AM  

@mathguy -- Sondheim recently published two humongous volumes, mostly comprising his lyrics, called FINISHING THE HAT (Vol I) and I forget the title of the 2nd. My brother gave me the first as a present. Tried to read it in bed; it fell on my chest and damn near killed me. After that, I read it sitting up, in a chair. But it has some "don't miss" features, in adition to the lyrics. 1) some of his worksheets, showing early drafts and changes to his lyrics. Fascinating. Also his unvarnished views of other lyricists and why he feels that way. Also fascinating. He is scathing about LERNER (for which I cannot forgive him, as I strongly disagree) but even when he's wrong (say I), his opinions are lively, specific and insightful. Don't buy the books. Rent them from the libe or get them on Kindle.

Ellen S 11:06 AM  

@Billy C - thanks for the acknowledgment. Clearly Flutie's heart is in Natick, and Maryland is just a technicality.

@AliasZ, thanks for the musical link. It was lovely. Great way to start my day.

I was thrilled to finish a Saturday puzzle with only modest cheating (a few "check words" and only twice did it show I was wrong). Took a lot of tries to get some of the answers, but eventually they appeared. Most Saturdays are more like a colonoscopy prep (hi, @jberg).

So, what I want to know is, is there anything @Rex can do right? When he rails against partials, abbrs, FITBs and all like that, the commentariat rails against him for being too hard on it. When he thinks a puzzle is fun (and I thought this one was, though I'm not so sure ESKIMO KISS isn't racist), the commentariat rails against him for being too easy on it. Hardly anyone ever agrees with him. Anyway, I like enjoying the puzzles more than finding reasons to dislike them. So thank you, Peter, for a fun Saturday.

joho 11:09 AM  

I considered KRONas, KRONes, and KRONen but never KRONOR. ONEHR was no help and I was unable to get RANTS.

Was pleased to get the rest because this was challenging for me.

Good Saturday solve, Peter, you got me! OOF!

Doris 11:17 AM

Many of you must have seen this (NYT Saturday sports section), but just in case you didn't!

Roo Monster 11:27 AM  

Hey All !
Typical SatPuz hardness here. Lots of misdirectional clues. Answers that could've been one thing or another. Online solve for me today, and for some reason just not that much into solving it. No heart in it today, it seems. Plenty of Check Word usage. Have to admit that I even cheated on two and hit Reveal. Oh well, these things happen!

SCOTCH EGG was a WOE, guess I don't hang out at British pubs.

Strange clue for CLOWNCAR. Lots of love in these puzs lately. SWAK yesterday, now EK today!


old timer 11:40 AM  

A perfect, perfect Saturday puzzle. Minimum of dreck. Every clue was gettable, though maybe it helps to be old enough to have SNARFed ones food as a teenager and saw some works by LERNER and Loewe when they first came out. Old enough, too, to have drifted off to sleep in the late Fifties listening to the Top 40 Countdown of songs (really the top 10 songs, played in order from #10 to #1). STEM I got only on crosses, but it really is a Thing, as I remembered when Rex made his comment.

My only writeovers: Kroner for KRONOR and mtn for MTS. I knew "Ebay" could not be right because WRIST and later OFFICEBOY.

Having spent many months in England when I was 20 and 21, I wrote in SCOTCHEGG at once. Tasty treats, but not so popular today. My local pub in the States tried to put them on the menu, and got few takers, though sausage rolls remain popular.

My AHA moment: OINK. Very clever, Mr. Wentz.

Andrew Heinegg 12:12 PM  

I agree with many of the critcisms and praise for this effort. Although I got it, if you were in a high school English class and the teacher asked for a synonym for keen and you answered agog (a terrible crossword answer anytime), the teacher should say No! I did not get or like scene shop. Huh? I only got ETSY because the missus is always surfing the site. But, the rest of it was a fine little exercise.

Z 12:56 PM  

@Nancy - I don't think anyone answered your question, yet. A Top Forty Countdown will count down the SONGs from #40 to #1.

Ludyjynn 1:16 PM  

Writeover city, but I finally finished error-free. Of course, that means I loved the puzz!

So Josh Duggar just did a HATCHETJOB on himself. YEAHIMSURE
his sisters have forgiven him for molesting them when he was fourteen. His actions were allegedly much more intimate than an ESKIMOKISS. Yet he never even got a slap on the WRIST. Sorry, I couldn't resist! I get AGOG when the self-righteous implode. I'm sure AESOP has a moral to this vile story. RANT over.

All of the musical clues were gimmes for me thanks to my dad, who imparted his very eclectic musical tastes to his kids. So was EDITH Bunker, played memorably by the late, great Jean Stapleton.

@Nancy, think Casey Kasem's weekly Top Forty Countdown for SONG.

The AHA moments made this solve worth the ONEHR+ time and effort for me. Thanks, PW and WS.

demit 2:01 PM  

Nobody mentioned that RECON is an abbreviation that the clue ("Drone's work, maybe") didn't signal. Also, "threw in the towel, maybe" for TKO'D. I thought "maybe" always implied a play on words. Does it sometimes signal an abbreviation or acronym as well?

Hollis French 2:02 PM  

Geeze. Rex's review could have been written by me 'cause everything he did,I did, too. It was about 30 minutes on paper. Not bad for a Saturday, and a nice challenge that I really liked. Not often that I totally agree with Rex, but I did today!

Hartley70 2:09 PM  

This was a slightly faster finish than my usual Saturday time, but so many of the answers were a little left of center for me that it felt like a boot camp puzzle workout. Aside from STEM, the answers and proper names were all fair and a few were very easy...ETSY, LERNER, SCOTCHEGGS. As for HYENAS, I loved it but a little more specificity is in order here in the cluing! What I really appreciate is the density of the meaty fill. Good Job!

Mette 2:42 PM  

Thank you Mr. Wentz. Even with three errors, it was fun. Really enjoyed seeing STEM fields. Thanks @Rex for the wikipedia entry. SMET??
The Gage in Chicago (across from Millennium Park) serves a tasty SCOTCH EGG with mustard along with other good pub food.

Matthew G. 2:47 PM  

Very nice puzzle. Definitely on the easy side, although SCOTCH EGG was a new one on me. Don't eat enough British food, I guess.

My only stumbling block was my own doing -- as a lawyer I wanted EN BANC, not EN BLOC. Should have realized the former was too jargony to appear, at least without a law-based clue.

Lewis 2:57 PM  

@Nancy -- The title to the second Sondheim book of the set is called "Look, I Made A Hat". I enjoyed the first book, as you did.

I am still away, will return on Monday. Happy weekend, all!

Fred Romagnolo 3:03 PM  

I knew Summertime, but otherwise I'm pretty much with @mathguy; btw I went to Mathis's high school (Washington) and my first teaching job was at his Jr. High (Roosevelt). I don't think CODA and THE CURE are giveaways to "serious" musicians; Mozart, and Beethoven would be. Why do people get so cautious about not being politically correct whenever an ethnicity is mentioned? Would you shrink from saying ESKIMO pie?

OISK 4:35 PM  

I am learning to enjoy puzzles even when there is an impossible cross resulting in a one square DNF. Had one yesterday, but at least (T ten instead of D ten, with misspelled "Sabato") it was gettable if I thought harder. Never having heard of "ETSY" I had no shot, because the abbreviation could have been MTN, or MTR, (for meter, sometimes used on the "key") I went for ETRY, which made more sense than ETSY.

But aside from that, and the usual annoyance (as for @Nancy) with too many pop song references, and disliking "Get___" as a clue for "him" although it is certainly valid, and "keen" for "agog" - still, a good Saturday workout. But "ETSY"?????

wreck 5:08 PM  

Hand up for the ETnY - MTn confusion. I wanted errandBOY before OFFICEBOY, and TAKaI before TAKEI.
It was a nice workout, but have to agree on some clues being a tad off.

Warren Buffet 5:13 PM  

ETSY has been a major story in the financial news. It's April IPO nearly doubled in value and the stock recently took a nosedive after a poor Q1 earnings report. It's a good idea to read all of the newspaper.

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

ok, HELP, why is CODA "appropriate" for Zeppelin?

weingolb 5:39 PM  

HAdtHEclap for "Reputation ruiner" ... what, no one?

Well, I know you all were thinking it, if not penciling it in.

And I was surprised that "Words before a date" was only six letters. Your place or mine is 15.

Maybe it was just my mood because I also was certain through most of the solve that "You might move over for them on the highway" was seaTmAtES.

Still, I don't think you can get gonorrhea from that.

Then I realized that this good puzzle was made less good when I had inadvertently created better fill for it. Not really... good job Peter Wentz.

If it is deemed cleaner fill than most, is it also slightly greener? YEAHIMSURE, YOULIE and BESTBY all seemed like stand-ins. Yeah I bet, or I'm so sure; you liar; best before, or sell by... aren't these what people say? And I can't remember the last time anyone said FLOODLIGHT rather than FLOODLIGHTs during sporting activities.

But the process of solving it was the greatest thing because it knew it was playing with you, and it was mostly playing fair. The peso trick, the dent thing, I had sUIts before JUICE to represent power.

Liked the mirroring of APIECE and ENBLOC. Liked EBOLA getting in there with a topical science clue. The "Lead-in to a Chef's name" was pretty brilliant, I thought.

I hope SNARF leaves the dictionary as quickly as it entered in the 1960/70s. It's devoid of meaning other than what SCARF already conveys. But that's not this puzzle's problem.


STEM being a initialism is just as bad as bad fill... the fact that it's cluing doesn't make it elegant. And equally inelegant is the clue for ONEHR — as if the fill wasn't bad enough — misusing the word time when it meant length!

@demit Good question. I've asked it. Crossword construction is already a dark art and I think it gets darker and darker as you go deeper into the week.

mike253 5:45 PM  

Loved the long ones, but had a kind of awful time with this one (as Saturdays often go for me). DNFed badly with four wrong in the bottom center.

Started with a confident nAstyrumOr in at 1A. Wound up erasing it pretty quickly, but I found enough wrong answers for the early downs to make my NW a real struggle (TutS for TSKS, forCE for JUICE, rEnTBY(?) for BEST BY - didn't realize how close I was when I considered nemoy for TAKEI, but remembered his autobios are (wonderfully titled) I am not Spock and (twenty years later) I am Spock). I finally got a foothold with SNAG/KRONOR/TUNA and finding the SE opaque moved up through the center to the NE.

Per @Mohair: CODA and THECURE were fine (as was ETSY, if we're going to be generational about it), but I'd never heard of EDITH, MATHIS or LERNER. LERNER, in fact, wound up with two wrong squares thanks to ScARFS (SNARF just isn't a word) and ?EoON for 50d. Kept trying to make the drone musical and finally figured it was time to throw in the towel. Wanted something to listen to on that ROofGARDEN.

Didn't like the cluing for STEM. Had STar [fields] for most of my solve, and not knowing EDITH and MATHIS almost left it at that. With EGOT??? I wondered if 44d could be EGOTing before realizing that that didn't make any sense.

Like many others, fave clue was OINK

michael 5:51 PM  

I think this was an excellent Saturday with the right level of difficulty. It helped that etsy and stem were easy for me (for reasons not worth going into). The only problem for me was the renu/the cure cross, but I was able to guess it.

Leapfinger 6:37 PM  


Is a 'STEM field' what's left after a reaper has grimly threshed off all the grain heads? Thought that one a bit of an OINKer, though that's neither here here nor there there. As an offset, I liked my start with ESKIMOKISS, esp after yesterday's SWAK and my recent brush with a Butterfly KISS. I now notice that MATH IS the M in STEM, but if that's a hint, it's a subtle one...

I'm with @MoHairSam for no way I wouldn't know LERNER, Hel-loewe!! But I only lerned today why Lewis Carroll's grinning cat wasn't a LeicesterSHIRE Cat, f'rinstance.

SHOO OOF LIE and A PIECE of PIE don't bother me.

@r.alph, thanks for RTFC. Where were you when I dropped the 'not' from 'together' to come up with UNISON? Add that to whElp-akElA-HYENA, avid-AGOG, KRONeR crossing nicely with EIGHT (the usual show-time, both on and off-Broadway), and assorted others. Was dead sure sets were built BACKSTAGE; that SCENESHOP just sounds like a place Drama Queens go to for some inspiration.

Bits I liked:
FREECLIMB, because I have, in the Canadian Rockies. Way cool to discover that, with the right boots, it's possible to stand firmly with only the toes of your feet on a 1" ledge of rock. Not as cool should you happen to freeze up, cuz then you're on your own till it passes and you can move again.

Some good advice: If you LIE ON your WRIST all night, you'll wake with a numb hand, and might end up with Carpal Tunnel.

Remembering that, years ago, a friend who had lived in Thailand for several years told me the women are beautiful, but they're old at 35. Now, I've recently come to know a woman from Thailand who is just gorgeous; I thought that she might be 40 at the most, and was flummoxed, hornswoggled and a few other things to find out her age is 67. Her name? RENU.... So. Ask me what's in a name.

Now I have to find out why those fried thingies aren't SCOTtish EGGS. I thought only the liquor was SCOTCH.

Enough with all de TOX. From Wentz cameth a pretty fun solve; I'll say it sure took a bit of PROWess.

Billy C 6:43 PM  

@anon5:20 --

Coda is LedZep's last (appropriately named) album.

Anonymous 6:53 PM  

@ Billy C

still not seeing it - is there something about CODA, that relates to Zeppelin? or I guess last album?

Billy C 7:30 PM  

@Anon6:53 --


Anonymous 7:57 PM  

Billy C: Way to repeat the clue and the answer. That really clears things up.

Mel Torme 7:58 PM  

Johnny Mathis--Not my favorite KRONOR.

Nancy 8:32 PM  

If you read this blog carefully, you can't help but pick up fascinating things about the solvers here. And today I learned something about @Leapfinger that will remain indelibly on my mind forever.

She FREE CLIMBS. Meaning that, "with the right boots", she is able to "stand firmly with only her toes on a 1" ledge of rock." And I once thought that @Leapfinger was a woman not so different from me. I now think: not so much. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR BLEEPING MIND, @LEAPFINGER? Just thinking about standing with only my toes able to be accommodated on a 1" ledge of rock gives me vicarious vertigo and makes me break into hives. DON'T DO IT, @LEAPFINGER!! We've come to love you; we don't want to lose you! Put your faith and trust in terra firma (as I have done my whole life.) Terra firma will never let you down!

Google 10:08 PM  

noun Music
noun: coda; plural noun: codas

the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the basic structure.
the concluding section of a dance, especially of a pas de deux, or the finale of a ballet in which the dancers parade before the audience.
a concluding event, remark, or section.
"his new novel is a kind of coda to his previous books"

dick swart 12:10 AM  

@Dean and scotch eggs.

Sorryto make this entry so late, been out since early am.

Dean, you must be very young. Scotch eggs were a pub staple when there were still a lounge and a bar, clearly delineated by class.

When a pint and a pie were lunch. When a Ploughman's was a real snack with plenty of Branston's.

In fin, when a pub was a pub with beer, booze (Afore ye go), and no fear of breatholator road tests by the patrons. And you could stand the publican a round.

Now the two sides are gone and pub food has been upgraded into haute because alcohol profits are gone and the pubs need the old bar/lounge to make room for dining tables.

So long to scotch eggs, now sitting chilled under cello-wrap at Tescos!

mellisa lopez 7:12 AM  

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Unanimouse 8:53 AM  

'... not long ago around may 2015 my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand...'

Umm. Considering today's date, I'm a little perturbed about Melissa Lopez' (or is it Melissa Jefferson?) concept of exactly how Time works, and her orientation to Time, Place and Person, in general. All things considered, it's probably wise that Ms Melissa steer clear of the banking industry, at least for the present.


P. Katz 9:17 AM  


I would have been pleased to recommend your Cori-Collio-Friulano diatribe, were I a FB/Twittterer.

Friuli appreciated the 'waxy nose' after several years' familiarity intime with the Kacenpij varietals.

ps. I thought that neon color would make it Weingelb, no?

paulsfo 3:56 PM  

@weingolb : I agree that cluing ONEHR as a "time" is simply wrong. In the same vein, SANDPAPERS can't "takes" the edge off anything; it would have to be "*take* the edge off." Finally, "AHAS" are exclamations or adverbs; I don't think it can be a noun.

Also, SNARF's *main* definition is eating, in my experience, so it must be an age thing if someone didn't know this.

Elephant's Child 4:46 AM  


In this case, SANDPAPERS = verb, not noun. So SANDPAPERS = 'takes the edge off', in a punny sense.

I hope this adds to your list of AHAS. (I hope you're keeping one.)

spacecraft 11:51 AM  

Don't thank ME, Elizabeth. The only thing I read on your post is "Thanks for reading," and even that was only by accident. Have you not yet figured out that precisely ZERO responses are coming to your spellcaster testimonials from this site? Zero. Now and forever. Please, please, GIVE IT UP!!

I, however, owe thanks to all who wished me a happy b-day yesterday. My friend once told me "Don't get old." Well, at 75, it's (a) too late, and (b) a sight better than the alternative.

Today I finished despite a passel of WOEs.ETSY, STEM fields, RENU...and, do they really call it a SCENESHOP? My dad, a la Harrison Ford, was a set builder for our community theater; as far as I know it was called a set shop.

SNAGs included soloCLIMB--I guess I was thinking more about human assistance than equipment--and the slightly less dangerous EcOLi.

Head-scratcher: so, just a single FLOODLIGHT? Don't you need, like, a bank of them for a night game? Just wonderin.'

Medium Saturday for me. ESKIMOKISS was a pleasant kick-start, the twin gimmes MATHIS and LERNER, which led to CHESHIRE (not actually known, but inferred on account of that strange cat), also helped. Was stuck in NE for quite a while before abandoning "solo" in favor of FREE. Once again it seems that OFL puts some of his loudest RANTS on the back burner for...well, my paper has a different constructor listed: ASHISH VENGSARKAR. As dear old dad used to say, "If you do, you'll clean it up." Whoever it is, I'll give him aB.

Burma Shave 1:05 PM  


YEAHIMSURE that YUOLIEabout that CHILEAN miss,
Did you get APIECE, or just an ESKIMOKISS?


rain forest 2:19 PM  

I think this was/is about the perfect Saturday puzzle. Challenging (for me) but doable, a couple of entries which came only from crosses (STEM, ETSY), a guess which worked (CHESHIRE), and some good wordplay with little in the way of weak fill. I liked it.

Regarding the FLOODLIGHT answer, @Spacey, it reminds me of a joke, for some reason:

A priest, a doctor and a mathematician are on a train going from Glasgow to Edinburgh when they espy a black sheep. The priest says, "I guess Scottish sheep are black". The doctor says, "Well, some of the sheep in Scotland are black". The mathematician says, "In Scotland there exists at least one sheep, one side of which is black".

So for a night game, you need at least one floodlight, but it had better be a big one.

My last square was the second "O" in KRONOR, after trying all other possibilities. Still looked unusual.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

Couldn't complete this one, just in one section. I had Fast Lane and then Left Lane but never got Exit Lane. And I never heard or saw Stem Fields so that didn't help. Oh well, I'll start again next Wednesday. I'm giving myself a C for trying hard.

Ron Diego La Mesa, CA :(

rondo 3:05 PM  

Just the right amount of complexity for a Sat-ouz, IMHO.But I may never have gotten going without TSKS and ORSON of all things.

Big shout out to the Swedish KRONOR and the correct plural ending as it is in their language. For a while I was afraid it might be Americanized, so I only put in KRON for starters.

Didn't remember EDITH and Maude as cousins as I rarely watched either show.

New word to me in xeriscaping, was afraid it might have something to do with a copy machine.

MATHIS a subject that I did well in school.

THECURE and CODA were easy for this music fan.

Even without a yeah baby this was a nice puz.

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

Rondo, as I see it you DID Mathis while in school. Well, I wouldn't kiss and tell like that.

DMG 6:29 PM  

Got tangled up in this one, as I had to transition my "golfcaddy. Into an OFFICEBOY, and my "ambulance" into an EXITRAMP.'
No easy task! Finally got it down to not knowing enough crosses to get YEAHIMSURE- T?kei, E?O, and thinking Mork's boss was maybe OlSON were more than I could conquer.

Johnny MATHIS is the only true celebrity I've actually been introduced to, It was backstage at the SFState talent show where he gave what must have been his last amateur performance before flying off to NY the next day to become a star! Learned from @math guy that we all grew up in the Richmond-small world!

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