Feminist author Millett / SAT 6-20-15 / Chicago-born choreographer / Service begun in 1947 for short / Country created by Treaty of Sevres 1920 / Social media debut of 2010

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Constructor: Kyle T. Dolan

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Brienne of TARTH (10A: Brienne of ___, "Game of Thrones" protagonist) —
Brienne of Tarth is a fictional character in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fireseries of fantasy novels. She is a prominent point of view character in the fourth novel, A Feast for Crows, and a main character in the television adaptation. (wikipedia)
• • •

Need to wrap this up quickly, as I'm kind of at Peak Summer Cold right now, and also it's "Summer of Noir" on TCM so Friday nights are Always Something Good On nights, all summer. Nice to have illness dovetail with film noir marathon (and that is literally the only "nice" thing about this summer cold). I didn't love this one. Its marquee answers seemed not marquee enough—straining to be hip and relevant, but landing somehow just off the "Wow" mark. WIN AT LIFE is a phrase, I guess, but it left me cold, as did the '90s-era-Bud-ad "WASSUP!" and whatever SPANDRELS are (got that answer entirely from crosses).

[phase 1—tried "WHAT UP?" initially]

Really started to sour on this puzzle when I hit the truly hackneyed, seen-only-in-crosswords ICEAXE.

I've seen that answer a million times, and I doubt I've ever complained about it, and it's an actual thing, but it's … well, with SOG already in the books, it seemed to herald mediocrity. AMINO ACID, too, felt limp. Not bad. Just so-so. Didn't help that I immediately followed ICE AXE up with ENDO. ENDO is slang for pot. Just FYI, in case that ever shows up in a clue, which, in the NYT, it probably won't, but such a clue would almost make ENDO interesting. EMONEY will never be interesting unless someday there is a rapper called E MONEY. Or unless you clue that answer [How "Two Tickets to Paradise" singer signs his checks"]. The NE didn't liven things up much.

TARTH wants you to think it's fresh, contemporary fill, but it's not. It would be fine if it were necessary to hold something good together, but as a gratuitous "hey I watch GOT" reference, in a corner where we have to suffer through EASEIN and HENNAED, no, TARTH isn't good. Rest of the puzzle was too easy to be terribly remarkable.

[I have a crossword friend who *hates* seeing any reference to David Ortiz, aka BIG PAPI, in puzzles, so all such clues/answers make me laugh imagine his ire]

I almost like HAVE A BEER, in that I like having beer, but the clue (60A: Kick back while watching the ball game, say) struck me as odd. First, you HAVE A BEER as a possible addition to kicking back. You'd kick back *and* HAVE A BEER. You can certainly kick back without one, and I have been in plenty of baseball-watching, beer-drinking situations where I was not at all kicked back (if it's a tense game, I'm often standing and "talking" to the screen, decidedly unkicked back, possibly frightening my dogs and causing them to leave the room). Also, if that's your clue, then apparently any clue will do, e.g. [Relax after work], [Celebrate the end of the work week], [React to thirst], etc. It's weird that I find myself disappointed by beer, but here we are. Maybe STEAK RUB was supposed to be an exciting answer? It's acceptable, for sure, but like most of the rest of the grid's "highlights," it just didn't do much for me. Not a bad puzzle overall, but I'll forget about it as soon as I post this.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


jae 12:11 AM  

Easy for me too.  Once I replaced el al with USAF all the tough stuff was done.  Probably helped that my bride is a PINTEREST user/fan.   TARTH, however, was a WOE, I've never seen the show...VEEP and Silicon Valley are another story. 

Smooth and breezy but Rex has a point about missing the wow mark.  Mostly liked it, except for the too easy part.

John Child 12:57 AM  

Not easy for me. Several seriously wrong initial guesses made for many rabbit holes.

elAl -> USAF (Hi @jae)
SALon -> SALAD (Huh?)
duxelles -> STEAKRUB (I thought I was so clever)
border -> OREGON
edna -> KATE (Edna St. Vincent Millay, not Millett)
mbA -> CPA (deceptive clue)
lEmoN -> PeCAN

So even though I filled the NW and the swath down to the SE quickly, it took a long time to dig out from the errors and finish correctly.

ICE AXEs are commonly seen on mountains as well as in crosswords.

STEAK-RUB - Specialty shiatsu technique?
TEA ROUT - Timely and effective attack on British troops?
SPANDRELS - Cousins of elands?

okanaganer 1:37 AM  

Went very fast for a Saturday. I thought this was a dandy puzzle with none of the stuff I hate (eg stupid abbrev's, US college sport trivia). Odd that Rex would complain about EASE IN... it's not exactly scintillating, but nothing bad about it.

Once again my experience in architecture leads me astray on an architecture clue. I instantly put in KEYSTONES for 17A but none of the crosses worked. The definition given for SPANDREL is technically OK, though nowadays 99% of the time the term refers to a panel that covers the edge of the floor slab on a high-rise.

Anonymous 3:15 AM  

I think "indo" is slang for weed, not ENDO. Wikipedia, however, notes there is a Puerto Rican rapper named ENDO. So there's that.

Anoa Bob 3:22 AM  

I was watching an episode of "Man vs Wild" yesterday. Bear Grylls was in Greenland, I believe, scampering around on a glacier. He called it a GLAH-see-err. He was definitely wielding an ICE AXE (7D).

Another climbing aid that appears in a grid now and then is the PITON, a sharp metal spike that is driven into rock crevices like so.

DARWIN (32D) stopped in Northwestern Australia during his nearly five-year circumnavigation on the HMS Beagle. He was favorably impressed by the aborigines he met there and wrote about them in his Voyage of the Beagle. He was in the fourth year of the voyage and, by then, a seasoned observer.

WIN AT LIFE would be a good title for a self-help book or for a motivational speaker series.

I hope that some later commenters will show how to use SOG (19A) in a sentence (without sounding silly).

Silly Rabbit 4:58 AM  

If you pour too much milk on those Trix you'll have a totes SOG.

Danp 5:24 AM  

HAVEABEER/Kick back... Incrediby awful clue!

Danp 5:29 AM  

Urban dictionary shows INDO and ENDO both as types of pot, but they're not interchangeable.

MDMA 6:16 AM  


axioms fidget
racecar imposes peril
odes hop eagerly

r.alphbunker 6:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
r.alphbunker 7:02 AM  

There were a lot more speed bumps than yesterday. The red lines are stalls of 60 seconds or more between correct answers. The longest stall was 2min 20sec near the beginning.

My first entry was 21A {Gently enter} which was a nice way to EASE INto the puzzle. During the solve:

1. was convinced that the EE of BEER belonged to fEEt because feet can kick.
2. had koalA as the {Wooly bear} instead of LARVA.
3. half-heartedly entered saiGON instead of OREGON for {Fifty-four forty or fight}

Z 7:27 AM  

@okanaganer summed the puzzle up, " it's not exactly scintillating, but nothing bad about it."

I was looking at the C in AMINO ACID and the N in the wrong "rink" and thought to myself, "it's a xword puzzle so it has to be ICE AXE." So I totally and completely agree with Rex even if he is being mildly hyperbolic.

My sons thought I'd like GoT; I like Lord of the Rings, I enjoyed reading Harry Potter to them, I like politics, I like history (I hear you can find The War of the Roses comparisons), it seems likely I'd like these books. I read the first four or five chapters and shrugged a mighty "meh." TARTH had to come from crosses.

I have OPEN TABLE, but not PINTEREST on my iPad. I'm not a reservation type, but once or twice a year I find the app useful.

Wrote in HORiS, saw that GiLL is a word so didn't double check its clue, so an OWS DNF. I hate when that happens.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

Boring...what did constructors do before they could slap an "e" in front of everything to make a word? Today it's "e"money, others are emag, etail, enote...eieio!

NCA President 7:49 AM  

I got hung up at SAfE..."Untouched." I just watched Vandy make it into the CWS championship series last night so baseball was fresh in my mind. I was absolutely positive it was SAfE. Of course, that left DAfIELS. I live in Tennessee...you'd think I'd know better. But, for all I know, Jack DAfIELS could be some French artist/author/scientist/character in a book. So, I was stuck there until I did the spell check for the puzzle and found out...well, it wasn't SAfE.

I don't like SOG...unless you make it SOGgy.

I don't care for STEAKRUB.

I had pACECAR at 12D first...and quite honestly, I don't know why I changed it to RACECAR, because TARTH could just as easily be TApTH.

Dondraper 7:54 AM  

Can someone explain to me how "untouched" means "sane"

dk 7:54 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

Most ICEAXE users have blackened fingertips from repeated frostbite. And, when in an ice cave the echo of a DRIP may spell PERIL.

Like ice climbing this one was tough and left me cold. Two major blunders on my part. I had Canada before OREGON and thought no way is it STEAKRUB. I cycled through every rub I could think of before GULL and FOSSE saved the day when I moved to the downs.

I solve in a liner and pedestrian way moving across and then down in order. Yes order, WASSUP with that… oh yeah I am anal.

Gentle rain here in The Dairy State - perhaps a doughnut is in order.

Is flesh still a Crayola color? Is the sharpener still on the box?

Gotta go

Michael Fuchs 7:57 AM  

Agree with Rex on easitude of puz. My fastest Sat ever! Fifteen and change!

I'm also with @Anon on "e" prefixes. What's next? Is the newly announced robot which can read emotions an epal? Is Rex an eguru? (Which sounds like a type of sushi. Maybe that is a good name for the next version of the Japanese robot, which will actually give advice.)

SueOpp 7:57 AM  

Do I detect an evolutionary biology mini-theme? We have amino acid, Darwin, and spandrels. "The Spandrels of San Marco" (no, it's not about architecture; it's a metaphor), by Stephen J Gould and Richard Lewontin, is one of the most famous papers in the field. So I started with amino acid and sog, guessed wassup, then got spandrels right away. Just goes to show that what's obscure for one person can be right in another's wheelhouse.

I totally agree about money though.

r.alphbunker 7:59 AM  

@George Barany

M&A has created a runt puzzle that may just be the missing link between chemistry and cruciverbalism. Check it out at www.xwordinfo.com/Solve?id=15965&id2=751

A summary of the chemical compostion of previous runt puzzles is here

Rhino 8:08 AM  

Like Rex, my back is often unlicked when watching sports.

NCA President 8:12 AM  

@Dondraper: When someone is "touched" they are often one bean short of a burrito.

Dondraper 8:18 AM  

Thank you @NCA President

jberg 8:18 AM  

Drat, I had the SAfE error too, and didn't realize it until I read the comments. @Dondraper, it means that if you are not "touched in the head," then you are sane -- too convoluted for my liking, but I guess it's Saturday.

We generally eat salad at the end of the meal rather than the beginning, so that one took a while. And of course I had no idea about TARTH, had made the mbA mistake, and so figured that answer for wander must be rammble, or something like that. I was willing to believe that the Brits called a level a RulE. Finally saw RACE CAR, and just when I was about to give up and come here TRAIPSE popped into my head fully formed. So I was triumphant until I read about SANE. Alas.

Glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

@dondraper Touched (or in dialect "tetched") can mean crazy- -"touched in the head."

Sheila Bell 8:21 AM  

Rex is right! But puzzles have been Boring for long time! Not NYT quality. Anything goes?

Generic Solver 8:32 AM  

@NCA Pres 7:49

I also had PACE CAR/TAPTH. RACE CAR seemed too mundane of an answer for that clue and TA_TH was a total WTH? to me.

Hartley70 8:40 AM  

The initial gimmes of NIAGARA, TARTH and PINTEREST opened things up nicely. Brienne is my favorite GofT character, so EAGER to do the noble thing and so able to whup the guys, kind of a very large @Aketi!! I was 10 minutes faster than my usual Saturday time, so for me it was on the easy side. Rex was way too harsh, however. I know it's daytime Rex, but swig some Nyquil. It works like a pretty colored Jack DANIELS, and your RexWorld will have a rosier view.

Roo Monster 9:03 AM  

Hey All !
Wouldn't exactly classify this as easy, but also not gut-wrenching like normally happens on a SatPuz. Actually completed about 75% before resorting to Check Puz button! But after the Check click, found some wrongness. Had OPENhousE for OPENTABLE, lEmoN for PECAN (couldn't get off apple or lemon), cId for VIC, SpiceRUB for STEAKRUB, pEelOUT for TEAROUT. Misread 8D clue as crowd, wondered how FILLING fit! Fixed all the wrongness, but then ran into SW corner, which kicked my butt! Had to Reveal a coupla letters to finish. Eh, still not too shabby for me!

How bout this for "SOG" - I forgot about my cereal today, when I got back to it, it was a total SOG. Yes? No?

FIDGET is a fun word. No HBO here, so no GOT, TARTH from crosses. Had HENNAED in, then out, then back in. Didn't know you could -ed that word. Hard to believe the Air Force has only been around since 1947. Huh. The things you learn from Crosswords!


Ian 9:17 AM  

Is pecan a pie flavor, or ingredient

AliasZ 9:21 AM  

This puzzle was the low of the week after yesterday's high. I had two diametrically opposite experiences back-to-back: on Friday each new answer yielded a new pleasure, today a deeper frown and another quizzical look that said "Really? If you say so..." As I progressed with my solve, it elicited yet another shoulder shrug if not outright disbelief. The only thing common between the two was ENDO. It is a sad situation when the best words in the whole puzzle are FILIAL, QUAD and TRAIPSE.

It is a matter of judgment I guess. At xwordinfo Mr. Dolan proudly tells us that HAVE A BEER, OPEN TABLE and PINTEREST were his inspiration as seed entries. Wow. I'll take one Sacagawea dollar over all three of these combined, plus WASSUP, HENNAED, EMONEY and SPANDRELS. I won't even attempt to analyze my feelings about WIN AT LIFE. You may WIN AT belching, thumb wrestling, a coin toss, solitaire, Russian roulette, competitive eating, rock-paper-scissors, etc., but only those who never die WIN AT LIFE. All others lose.

Isn't GENDER ED the same as sex ed?

And STEAK RUB. For the fun of it, I typed in [* RUB] at onelookdotcom to see what pops up. STEAK RUB was not among the 135 results. Dry rub, spice rub, alcohol rub, a good back rub or a belly rub. @Rex, you need a Vicks VapoRub. As Hamlet said, "To sleep, perchance to dream; aye, there's the rub..."

To put it simply, this was a DRIP of a Saturday puzzle. It sogged. Thanks, Kyle T. and Will.

George Barany 9:23 AM  

Re today's puzzle by @Kyle Dolan, you had me at AMINO_ACID!

Re @M&A's runtpuz pointed out in @r.alphbunker's 7:59 AM post, thanks! I solved it very quickly and then had to step back to appreciate its elegance. Would rather not say more about the runtpuz at this time, in order to give others an opportunity. Chemistry-minded @Rex-ites might then enjoy trying Seeking Chemistry at a Singles Bar, which @Michael Shteyman and I created a number of years ago for Games magazine, or Molecular Crossword Puzzle which was a treat for my University of Minnesota students after they completed their final exams.

I would also like to thank the numerous kind comments from this community in response to my post yesterday. Today's the big day when I walk my beloved daughter down the aisle, and it was sweet to learn that others will be feeling this same joy today with their beloved ones.

Finally, in response to a particularly churlish post yesterday, and in anticipation of a similar one likely to come today, may I implore on said individual on this special day to take comfort in Club Rex, rather than annoy me and the rest of this kind and supportive community.

Ludyjynn 9:41 AM  

I'm always happy to see my friend, Jack DANIELS, show up at an OPENTABLE or a puzzle. OTOH, FILLING enGENDERED a feeling of unease, as I have two upcoming crown repairs.

Writeovers: 'braising' before STEAKRUB, 'butts in' before IMPOSES, 'feminine' before GENDERED, 'peach' before PECAN, 'MBA' before CPA (but I just knew it was too easy for a Sat.).

USAF was a gimme, as my dad served in the "Army Air Force" during WWII. ANN and Nancy Wilson are still rocking their 'hearts' out!

OVerall, I enjoyed this very smooth Sat. Got a kick out of learning that FOSSE, known for the show, "Chicago", was actually born there.

Thanks, KTD and WS.

Z 9:46 AM  

@Alias Z - I am reminded of the demotivational poster with the line, "He who dies with the most toys is still dead." Personally, I'm more of "the end of learning is gracious living" type.

chefbea 9:54 AM  

wasn't going to do the puzzle today but then I saw all the food items and decided to give it a try. Small work department...A new store is opening today in Wilmington and of course we are going. They sell many different kinds of STEAK RUBS. Will report back later

Billy C 9:54 AM  

After laying off for a while, @Professor Barany has started using this space to promote his puzzles. C'mon, George, ask OFL to put your link with the others on the right side of the page.

Your contributions to the blog are very good, and would be better without the self-promotion. Just a thought ... (Again, and again.)

Matt 9:54 AM  

SpiceRUB and pEelOUT doomed me.

Nancy 9:55 AM  

Here's a rant that will apply to only some of you -- the pencil and pen solvers. My first and only gimme, in what was for me an extremely hard puzzle, was NIAGARA at 3D...which I promptly wrote in, in the heaviest ink imaginable, at 2D. Although I saw my mistake immediately, and put in the answer at 3D, I was left with the oh-so-visible NIAGARA at 2D for the entire solving experience. You cannot imagine how much that prevented me from seeing word patterns in the entire NW and how much it slowed me down in what was destined to be a very slow solve at best. If I do this to myself at the Lollapuzzoola tournament, I'll slit my wrists. (End of rant.)

After slowly wrestling this bear of a puzzle almost to the ground, I was left at the end with an unsolved SW. I had S--O--S at 38D and knew I could solve if I cheated on this geographic clue -- the only kind of cheat I ever allow myself (with an atlas, not with Google). I could not for the life of me come up with a 3-letter word for "binge", btw. So what did I do?

Dear Reader, I cheated. And therefore a DNF. Even so, I thought the puzzle was great!

Your Friend Billy 10:00 AM  

Whoops, @George, forgot -- Tnx for the shout-out. ;-)

Carola 10:05 AM  

Easy until the SW, where I was stymied. It turns out I didn't understand what "on tenterhooks" means (I thought "anxious") or what "Fifty-four...." referred to (I couldn't get Seward's Folly and Tippecanoe out of my head). Only my one iota of knowledge about Egyptian gods (one that has 5 letters) got me HORUS, and an alphabet run on possible dock figures got me GULL, so that I saw OREGON and then the rest.

Liked SPANDRELS, TRAIPSE, FILIAL, FIDGET, LEAVEN, PERIL HENNAED, and the clue for SECRET. No idea about BIG PAPI or TRENT. Around here, SOG as a verb needs "out."

Teedmn 10:19 AM  

Cleaner British exclamation: "Oh, sog it!". ??

This puzzle was quite easy for me, though it didn't go "fast" at 30 minutes. But lEmoN was my only real writeover. I did think HAVE A BEER and WIN AT LIFE were blah, but I liked the clues for NIAGARA (which was an 'aha' for me, not a gimme @Nancy :-) ), TAPAS BAR, PLEAS, SANE and FIDGET. I don't think 'on tenterhooks' equals EAGERLY but I will have to look up the definition. If you are EAGERLY awaiting something, you can be 'on tenterhooks' but... Just a nit.

TARTH was my first entry. I've been reluctantly watching the series, mainly so I can rant with a co-worker on how they are mauling the books. And this past season, they have gotten far off track. I say, read the books if you have any (P)INTEREST at all and then don't ruin it by watching the series. I was certainly surprised to read that GofT has become HBO's most watched series. I thought 'The Sopranos' would be more popular, though I never got into that one.

Thanks, Kyle Dolan and WS, for a non-frustrating Saturday start.

JC66 10:22 AM  

@ Roo Monster

The Air Force was part of the US Army until 1947. The Army Air Corp started in 1926, later changed to the Army Air Force prior to WWII,

Roo Monster 10:33 AM  

Aha, thanks JC66. Thought it was a bit odd. One more thing to try to cram into the memory banks! I be gettin more smarter each day! :-)


kozmikvoid 10:35 AM  

It is now official. If I like a puzzle, Rex will hate it. And if I hate a puzzle, Rex will love it. I've noticed the trend over the past few months, and this week has proven my suspicions. I thoroughly enjoyed solving this, pulling my (little remaining) hair out trying to figure out an "edge" word starting with N-vowel-vowel. SE was fun and easy for a Saturday, NW was fun and difficult, SW was tricky but manageable with good fill, and NE was clearly the weakest section. All in all, a fun 45-minute Saturday for me. Highlights were 31A, 3D, 54A, 1A and 8D. Have a great Father's Day all! Don't let Rex's negativity bring you down.

Haiku Nerd 11:02 AM  


Elle54 11:07 AM  

Any Saturday I can solve I like! I had APANDRELS so I did get that letter wrong

Gene 11:16 AM  

If you read mountain climbing literature, as I did often when I was younger, you will see ICE AXE often (as well as Piton)

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I was surprised at the gimme "glutamine, e.g" for AMINOACID. This was Tuesday level cluing at best. I mean, the "amine" is right there in the clue. How about "it might be essential" or "protein builder" or SOMETHING more creative than just naming an AMINOACID? Shocking for a Saturday NYT crossword.

Michael S. 11:31 AM  

Thanks @Barany for pointing us to more great puzzles.
Billy C is fast becoming this board's most hated contributor, which I suppose is his goal. I didn't think anyone could take that honor away from the grammar nazi, but he's done it.

Casco Kid 11:31 AM  

Close, but no cigar. DNF at [Untouched?]SAfE/ [Jack ___]DAfIELS. Damn damn. But I see I'm in good company with @NCA Prez and @jberg. (BTW, @jberg, as your annual ESTIVATION approaches, shall we expect your license plate to grace the byways of our fair state again this year? Alas, you'll see my license plate in your estimable commonwealth quite a bit this summer. BASSACKWARDS, I know. )

Lots and lots of persistent wrongness today:

SpiceRUB for STEAKRUB, supported by pEAlOUT
eAt for JAG
bAwL for WAIL, fixed by BIGPAPI
gargoyleS for SPANDRELS, as an initial guess to get into the NW
ANg for ANN, off gargoyleS
BULL for gULL, thinking of BULLs bossing longshoremen around
dARe for LARK, off the e in SpiceRUB
lEmoN for PECAN. I hear PEach popular wrongness.
unit for SERB, in re: Tesla
truE for RASE
mbA for CPA. I consult part-time for the Harvard B-School. Guess how many CPAs emerge from HBS every year, perhaps? NULL, perhaps, is the right answer. (Indeed, at HBS, CPA means Centre de Perfectionnement aux Affaires, a French B-School that was an early adopter of HBS's case method.)

gAmElAn for RACECAR, off lEmoN. You might find a gamelan in an orchestra pit, especially on a Saturday. Yes, gamelan was clued, and yes, I went there. Seriously. But I spelled it gAmElon. WINATLIFE!

FILIAL and SpiceRUB were locked in mortal combat. It was the only reason I kept SpiceRUB in play.

I had to get these off the (mostly wrong) crosses (somewhat shamefully) OREGON, DARWIN, HORUS, IRAQ, KATE, ODES, TRENT. It would have been a different puzzle if I had simply known these!

I had to get these off the crosses, with no shame: ANN, WASSUP

Random character string (with an actual clue!) : TARTH

Favorite clue-entry pair: NIAGRA. Took forever to suss and was worth it.

I held off on FILLING for a long time as an unlikely entry.

Deep and lucky pulls: DRIP NULLS

So, if you thought this was an easy puzzle, how many of the afforementioned rabbit holes did you go down? And how long were you down there?

Billy C 11:36 AM  

@Michael S ---

Hurtful! :-(

Billy C 11:42 AM  

@Michael S.

Also, each time I've protested about his self-promoting posts, I've suggested that he have OFL put his link along with all the others on the right side of the page, so you wouldn't have to miss any of his "great puzzles." Or any of the hundreds of others linked by constructors of considerable greater repute than The Good Professor.

Nancy 11:42 AM  

@Hartley 70 (from last night). Re: ARLENE DAHL as "both panelist and guest" on "What's My Line?". I'm with @mathguy and @Ludyjynn: Don't think she was ever a panelist. (You had to be very smart and very verbal. Was ARLENE DAHL smart and verbal? That's not exactly how I remember her, but I could be wrong.) As for guest: EVERYONE was a mystery guest at one time or other. All you had to be was famous. I Googled and could not find DAHL as a panelist. As for the very smart, very verbal ARLENE FRANCIS: Was there ever an episode on which she was NOT a panelist?

mathguy 11:58 AM  

@Alias Z: I agree with you completely. Your destruction of WINATLIFE was great. I read it to The Closer and she loved it too.

It took me a long time. I printed it up at 8:30 and was playing with it during the Giants game and a rerun of Hawaii 5-0 (please don't ask why we watch that crappy show). It was almost 11:30 before I finished it, without any lookups. A lot of the problem was the borderline-unfair clues, a lot of which have been mentioned above. Let me add "With 61-Down, grazing locale" for TAPAS BAR. I think that there should be a question mark with the clue. (The Closer disagrees with me. She says that grazing is a synonym for eating.).

I usually like puzzles where I learn new words. I learned nine new words or phrases, but I don't consider them valuable additions, like TARTH, GENDERED, STEAKRUB, ...

So I got the job done but it wasn't much fun.

r.alphbunker 12:06 PM  

@Casco Kid
unit for SERB: Geography 1, Physics 0

My path to SERB was as follows (there are gaps between each step)
EMONEY --> AXIOMS: _ E _ _
AXIOMS --> ODES: S E _ _

Getting EMONEY early on made all the difference. Luck must play some role in solving a puzzle!

Loren Muse Smith 12:16 PM  

Easy one for me. Hand up, though, for also having a dnf owing to "Tapth/pace car." My daughter is visiting from college, and I asked her before looking whether it would be "Tapth" or TARTH. She said if she truly had to commit, she'd go with "Tapth" but since it's British (?) and has no R sound, it's hard to tell and she doesn't pay that much attention to it either way. Can you imagine I have spawn who do not ponder such things? Then she went back to sharing a Lab Failure Story with my husband about not activating some membrane before transferring the western blot.

I am alone here, people.

Here's how big the chasm is. I couldn't even type this until found out if it's Western Blot, Western blot, western-blot, heck, it could even be West Turn Blot. I didn’t even ask her because they had already moved on to sequencing. FILIAL schmilial. I don't speak her language half the time. I gave up when my husband double checked to make sure it was indeed a western blot and not a northern blot. I asked if back in the '80s there were a bunch of SERBs who were really good at eastern bloc eastern blots. Blank, unappreciative stares. I tried one more time to pipe in and, ya know, Talk the Talk. I said, "Wasn't Will B. really, really good at DNA sequencing?" They stopped and looked at me. Sigh. "He was good at sequencing AMINO ACIDS" with an (unintended air of just go and lie down before you hurt yourself). I felt like David Sedaris the first time he was in France and knew only two words: ashtray and bottleneck. My arsenal is "sequencing" and "protein purification for structural studies."

Anyhoo… this one was worth my price of admission simply to admire the words FIDGET and TRAIPSE. PINTEREST, like Twitter, is something I've TRAIPSEd around several times, probably opening various accounts, realized I had no idea how any of it worked, and then just wandered off in some other direction.

SPANDRELS is a funny word, huh? Looks like something a, ahem, GENDERED person would struggle into to make her QUADS look smaller. Man, I got me some thunderthighs goin' on. Gotta pick up some SPANDRELS next time I'm at the mall.

@NCA President – I adore those "touched" euphemisms. My two favorites are

Her elevator doesn't stop at every floor
He's out there where the buses don't run.

I also get a kick out of the prefix E, so E MONEY was fine by me. (What a lost opportunity when they named Snapchat or Instagram. Coulda been something like Epic Epics.) If you get an evite, do you send your egrets?

Kyle – I enjoyed the diversion. Nice job.

GILL I. 12:20 PM  

After yesterday's gem this felt a bit OK. Not bad, just missing my
looking forward to HA, OOH, and a loud YESSSS!
I looked at the grazing clue at 10D and all I could think of were some sheep eating grass. TAPAS BAR! - well, maybe some saute a bit of turf and then add surf.
Didn't know a Woolley bear was LARVA - I wanted panda. Didn't know about the Treaty of Sevres but then Kyle gives us FIDGET and Jack DANIELS so, I'm happy there. (I can't stand bourbon but my husband insists that we have DANIELS in the cupboard just in case a guest asks for it!)
The only time I've seen tattooed hands is on chef Aron Sanchez. He looks like the Wolfman or maybe someone suffering from terrible frostbite....He makes good tacos though.
@Billy C. (sigh)

Nancy 12:26 PM  

@r.alph (2:06)-- It's so interesting how different people solve in such radically different ways. You got AXIOMS from the M in EMONEY. I got it from the X in ICE AXE (plus the O in ODES.) The I in AXIOMS moved me away from seaLaNt at 8D and gave me FILLING instead. And that G led me to GENDERED and that F led me to WIN AT LIFE (instead of WIN AT -ISE.) So a very different route to ultimate success. (Well, for me, almost success. But success in that section, however.)

Masked and Anonymo4Us 12:27 PM  

"Prove U Ain'ta Robot" is askin m&e to pick out pics of steaks. Next, they asked me to copy in some long bunch of gibberish, which my iPad can't copy. Rub Me, @The Blorg! snort

Anyhoo, some really really fun stuff in this easier than snot SatPuz. Bullettes:

* FIDGET. Not many words built like this. WIDGET and MIDGET. BRIDGET and GIDGIT. Hey--more than I thought!
* WASSUP. Am now looking for somebody in this here pus that I would say "wassup" to… TARTH. "Wassup, Tarth?"
* BIGPAPI. Him, too.
* STJOHNS. Hardly any vowel irritation, here.
* QUAD. Primo clue. Tight, yet questionmarky. thUmbsUp.
* HENNAED/GENDERED. Has that ohso pleasing bouquet of subtle desperation.
* STEAKRUB. Excellent gourmet choice, in the menu of [pick yer fave meat]RUB. Would also accept WIENER or LOIN. Oh, yeah… and TURKEY BREAST.
* SOG. Wow. Weeject gold. It's… so… G.
* EMONEY. From outta the EATM.
* FILIAL. Wonderful sound to this. Even better: FILIALLED!
* ICEAXE. Ok, but, I dunno… kinda makes the grid feel a bit too "choppy" …

Thanx, Kyle T.

"Brienne of Haveabeer"


Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Autocorrect roundup, for today:
pus = puz
pleasing = pleasin

Lewis 12:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 12:41 PM  

I propose that anyone with a child getting married on a particular day get immunity from any negative comments on that day. Any ayes?

So this puzzle has a palindrome, a famous one actually, so I won't mention what it is. But more interesting to me is that it lacks a semordnilap -- a term ("palindromes" backward) coined by Martin Gardiner in 1961 that means a word that becomes another word when read backwards, like "stressed" and "desserts", or "mug" and "gum". It is very rare to find a puzzle without one, and every puzzle usually has at least a handful. The closest I could find in this puzzle is SECRET. A "terce" is a thing, but so uncommon in our language that I would like to discount it. But maybe I missed another.

I found the puzzle itself a good mental drill and I'm grateful for it; even with no big wows in the answers or clues (some sparkle in the cluing might have made a big difference), the overall quality was good.

Casco Kid 12:42 PM  

I'm impressed how you didn't just drop in [Tesla, e.g.] "unit" as easily as you dropped in [Bitcoin, e.g.] EMONEY, which could have just as easily have been iMONEY, Ebrand, dotorg, or rsakEY. My expert solver buddy tells me to go for the most obvious answer first. I think we have daily evidence that my sense of "obvious" is at odds with the crossworld.

I did consider Tesla's nationality. Swiss? No. Austrian? No. (I really thought he was one of those.) Swedish? No. Polish? No. Hmmm. "Nikola" Italian? No. Slav? No. Other 4-letter things that Tesla may be an example of? Well, there's: male, bald, euro, wasp, thin, rich, etc. etc. etc.

But, frankly, 'unit' was the odds-on favorite. Really. So it was much more sensible to put in unit and go for confirmatory crosses, which didn't happen, of course.

I had to give up on the "obvious" and the "possible" and wait for the non-obvious to emerge. It worked. This time.

How does anyone go through the process seventy-some times in less than, say, 90 minutes? For those of you who solved in under an hour, all I can say is WOW.

Lewis 1:08 PM  

Factoid: About 20% of the drinking water in the United States goes through and over NIAGARA Falls.
Quotoid: "The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be AWARE, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." -- Henry Miller

Old timer 1:14 PM  

A good puzzle not a great one. I agree ice axes are a common tool for those who climb which includes some friends and relatives

Is there such a thing as a tapas bar? I did guess it. And put in peach where PECAN should be

Liked the clue for SANE

Z 1:29 PM  

I'm glad pACECAR didn't occur to me since a TWS DNF is exponentially worse than a OWS DNF.

@LMS - I spewed Pewit juice at your egret pun.

@Casco Kid - lemoN for a longish while, mbA for two heartbeats. I also went rink before OVAL and sAlAd BAR before TAPAS BAR, making SALAD the longest malapop I can remember. Just under 30 minutes, firmly medium time for me. As to how? First, lots of clues take mere seconds. TEAR Off gave me TEAL, JAG, and OREGON in six seconds, then I took out off because ST JOHNS made Nf and Sf look implausible. So, even though my gimme was wrong, it was right enough to let me knock out most of that corner lickety-split. Other times it is a little luck, like guessing ICE AXE from its insubstantial clue or not thinking of pACECAR.

@Lewis - I didn't realize my name was a semordnilap.

GILL I. 1:29 PM  

@Old timer. Good gravy...YES siree there are TAPAS BARs everywhere. You've been to Spain, no? Every third building is a bar serving what I call Pinchitos Morunos.
In Sacramento we have a ton of them.....;>)

Longtime Lurker 1:43 PM  

@Casco I seriously entertained "e-car" for Tesla. SERB was a relief.

Teedmn 1:52 PM  

@Lewis, I see your palindrome, but didn't know it was famous - kept looking for Madam I'm Adam or some such thing. I think ESPIART should be a semordnilap - definition: one who finds art serendipitously?

@M&A, gotta love getting bitcoins out of the EATM. Makes me think of those foil covered chocolate coins (really bad chocolate IMO). Get 'em out of the EATM and eat 'em.

Billy C's troll 1:57 PM  

@Billy C,

You are still an asshole.

chefwen 2:28 PM  

@ian -both
@Nancy - Wite Out anf Liquid Paper were invented for errors which you encountered. My puzzle today was covered with the stuff. I had too many write overs to count. I finished, but it wasn't pretty.

Tita 2:31 PM  

Woolly bear is my favorite LARVA! The ratio of orange to black predicts winter severity, and they freeze solid over the winter, emerging again in spring. In the arctic, where not-winter is short, they actually refreeze themselves for up to a dozen winters!

I blame @JenCT for the fact that I even know this. She raises butterflies, and ever since she brought over a monarch chrysalis that emerged before my very eyes, I have to run and google every new caterpillar I find in the garden to see if it is going to turn into a gorgeous creature or if it will simply eat all my lettuce and green beans.

Anyhow - google the Woolly bear, and then google spicebush swallowtail - one of the most surprising caterpillars out there...

I liked the puzzle, mostly because I finished it...!
Lots of pop names was tempered by words that enGENDERED interesting tangents.

I fell into lots of the traps y'all mentioned, and then some...
pesetaS and asseS for STJOHNS and NULLS.
The SALAD malapop.
idiOMS for AXIOMS.
And yes, I thought Tesla was hung. (Apologies to our resident Hungarians...)

And, because I was chemically altering some glutamines with some LEAVENing action this morning - that is, I was baking bread!

Thanks, Mr. Dolan!!!!!

P.S. Oil City PA tried to deplace Punxatawney Phil as the winter weathernman - it didn't work.


Casco Kid 2:32 PM  

@Z pEAlOUT for me. (But now I see it is, properly, pEelOUT. I thought it was pealOUT on account of the sudden thunderous sound a bell might make.) TEAROff was the better wrongness. No question about it.

@lurker ecar! Good one! You win the [Tesla, e.g.,] wrongness sweepstakes. Yesterday I went with KcAR for [bump on a log] but ecar did not occur to me today. There's no accounting for it.

Tita 2:34 PM  

@Hartley from yesterday - you're right - my mom is always the belle of the ball. She loves an audience for her desserts and for her stories.

Alan 2:35 PM  

This one played easy for me right up to point when it didn't. I had LARK crossing SALAD, but that conflicted with SpiceRUB crossing pEelOUT, and guess which one I decided to dig my heels in with? Finally decided to jettison pEelOUT to try JAG, which led me to guess STJOHNS and then the remaining dominoes fell smoothly. Easily more than half the time on the SW and its curling connection to the bottom of the NW.

MDMA 2:46 PM  

Nancy (@ 9:55 AM),

What you describe (re: NIAGARA mishap) is exactly why I only solve puzzles on computers or apps anymore. Wrong letters really screw up visual pattern recognition, so it's essential to be able to cleanly restore them to blanks. And correct letters tentatively entered are a big help. When I started using the iPad app, I started being able to solve Saturdays. Your mileage may vary.

Fred Romagnolo 3:17 PM  

Maybe in the South PECAN pie is common, but not in the West. It exists, sure; but apple, lemon, berry, and peach wipe it out. I refuse to watch a T.V. program so I can solve a crossword, but if you can get the answer through crosses, it's O.K., but TAPAS BAR as a grazing locale is really pushing it. It was after the war (as noted) that the Army Air Force and the Navy Air Force were combined into the USAF; was there a Marine Air Force or Coast Guard Air Force? @Billy C: I know you're basically a nice guy with a sense of humor, and you actually respect the Good Prof, but you're really turning people off; I just can't see why you're hung up on what others don't mind at all - please give it a rest - you've become so predictable that even the Prof anticipated you today. Even though we can all pretty much figure out the "e" beginning for anything computer-related, I agree that it should be retired from anything but junior-high level crosswords.

Fred Romagnolo 3:24 PM  

I mentioned it long ago, but a refresher - for us paper-solvers: try entering your answers in red ink, corrections made in blue-black are easily discernible. And it's patriotic to look at (with blue).

wreck 4:22 PM  

I'm making great strides on Saturday puzzles, but most still require me to Google one or two times to get a foothold. TARTH being the culprit today.

Back in my paper solving days, I used a pen, but very lightly wrote in answers I wasn't sure about. I would darken or change squares as I became more sure of their validity. It wasn't overly pretty, but worked well for me!

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

Steak dinner tonight, prepared with a MARINADE.

mathguy 5:00 PM  

I just did the LAT Saturday by Barry (Smooth As) Silk. Harder than this one and more fun. More fun even though I got naticked in the SW and DNF.

Nancy 5:15 PM  

@wreck and @MDMA -- I solve in pen (the easier to see you with, my dear) and find it a huge help to write in the answers I am sure of darkly and the answers I'm not sure of lightly. (And, btw, I recommend that approach, in pen, not pencil, to ALL analog solvers.) The problem with NIAGARA today: I was very sure of my answer; hence wrote it down darkly -- but I put it in the wrong PLACE. And there's no cure for that, other than the liquid paper that @chefwen suggests. Thanks, Chef -- I actually may try that in the future, if needed.

Magic Eraser 5:23 PM  

@Pen solvers...
Not for nothing, but - pencil? It won't emasculate (or efeminate) you - honest.

wreck 5:24 PM  

@ Nancy
The type of "pen" you use, makes a big difference in how well that works. You don't want to use a "sharpie" or the like!

Nancy 5:35 PM  

@wreck -- Yes, of course. It CAN'T be a pen like a Sharpie that always writes exactly the same way, no matter how much pressure is applied. For what it's worth, I use a cheapo BIC ballpoint.

@Magic eraser -- 1)I have trouble seeing pencil; 2)Pencil often smudges; and 3) When I erase a fragile piece of paper like a newspaper, it usually tears. But, hey, whatever floats your boat, -- even (gasp!) GADGETS.

jae 5:58 PM  

@lms - My experience with Twitter almost exactly.

@Nancy et. al. pen solvers - I'll stick with my PaperMate Clear Point 0.05 thank you very much. No smudges or write overs. I prefer my grids pristine.

@Casco - almost none of those rabbit holes. If I can't get at least one or two confirming crosses I leave it blank (again, pristine is the key word here).

@M&A - Same deal with pick the salads/steaks and paste the text robot test which doesn't seem to be possible on my IPad one. Different robot test on my bride's IPad two.

Casco Kid 7:26 PM  

@jae I guess emptiness is better than wrongness.

Right now, as I tackle the SunPuz, I feel both empty and wrong. Tough, tough, tough SunPuz. Vague clues. I'm having to stretch really, really far to put the clues and (my) entries in an agreeable context. Mostly, I'm not closing the gaps. And the trick remains illusive after an hour. I can usually get it in 45 minutes. Prepare yourself for a tough one tomorrow. (Actually, you are probably already working on it.)

Anonymous 8:42 PM  

Since Vicks Vapo-Rub has already been offered (I do hope you feel better soon, Rex) all I can add is that I thought it was sort of nifty that "Fifty-four forty, or fight" was clued at FIFTY-FOUR across. Nice touch :)

paulsfo 10:12 PM  

I really can't understand the anger at Billy C. He's pointing out that someone is, in his opinion (and mine), abusing the open nature of this comment space.

paulsfo 10:15 PM  

btw, crosswod fans, i'd suggest that all buy your next car at Honda of Frontenac, in St Louis. I don't know anything about it but it's a cool name.

Oh, and if this post annoys you, or delights you, please give the credit to George B.

Kate Mark 2:38 PM  

Am here to testify what this great spell caster done for me. i never believe in spell casting, until when i was was tempted to try it. i and my husband have been having a lot of problem living together, he will always not make me happy because he have fallen in love with another lady outside our relationship, i tried my best to make sure that my husband leave this woman but the more i talk to him the more he makes me fell sad, so my marriage is now leading to divorce because he no longer gives me attention. so with all this pain and agony, i decided to contact this spell caster to see if things can work out between me and my husband again. this spell caster who was a woman told me that my husband is really under a great spell that he have been charm by some magic, so she told me that she was going to make all things normal back. she did the spell on my husband and after 5 days my husband changed completely he even apologize with the way he treated me that he was not him self, i really thank this woman her name is Dr Aluta she have bring back my husband back to me i want you all to contact her who are having any problem related to marriage issue and relationship problem she will solve it for you. her email is traditionalspellhospital@gmail.com she is a woman and she is great. wish you good time.

Burma Shave 11:04 AM  


“WASSUP?”, asked Danica as she HOPped out of her RACECAR
as she EAGERLY TRAIPSEd with STYLE to the BAR,
“Let’s go on a JAG or at least RASE your glasses and HAVEABEER.”
As I FIDGETed with my Jack DANIELS she whispered a SECRET in my ear,
“If you want to WINATLIFE, you must YIELD to some PERIL and sin,
LEAVEBE the old AXIOMS, the best way TODO me is not to EASEIN.”


spacecraft 11:36 AM  

Lots of trouble with this one. OFL starts in the NW--and puts SOG in right away! Folks: SOG is NOT a WORD!! Yes, soggy is, of course, but there is no back-form. At least you'll never lay down "SOG" on the Scrabble board with me. I'll win the challenge. Which does not mean WINATLIFE. What an absurd non-phrase! So, did I spin my way into Millionaire Acres? Woo hoo, I won at Life! Gimme a break. A steak break, with a STEAKRUB??? No, there are rubs; they are identified by their principal ingredients, NOT by the meat. This is another non-phrase. It's raining yellow hankies down here! I'm not even gonna mention HENNAED. Oops, too late! Henna a verb; who knew?

Despite all these PERILs, I managed to get it all right. Started in my comfort zone: sports figures BIGPAPI and TRENT Dilfer, now an ESPN reporter with the amusing feature "Dilfer's Dimes," in which he highlights exceptional pass plays. To the SW via FIDGET and FOSSE, whence I TEAROUT EAGERLY upward with DARWIN and SALAD. There I stalled, having, of course, SAG for the cereal thing.

Picked up again in the NE with AWES/AWARE. So my pie was lEmoN (ugh), then PEach (yum!), before finally becoming PECAN (oooh yeah!). I thought EASEIN had to be wrong, because...HENNAED??? But nothing else worked. Naticked at sq. 10; No clue about anything Game of Thrones-related. EARTH seemed OK, but EAPAS didn't. Dimly I seem to recall something about TAPAS as some kind of Tex-Mex snack (I could live my whole life without ANYTHING Tex-Mex), so I went with that. Whew!

Finished in the NW and looked at the grid: IMPaSES. Can't be right. Oh wait: IMPOSES (duh!)...but then SOG? I changed the letter, but I looked it up. Just as I thought. Not there. This was decidedly NOT easy, with all that non-language stuff. A grid riddled with penalty flags, but a difficult finish, so true to my word, I can't go lower than C.

rondo 11:46 AM  

Didn’t read any other posts since I’m short on time. A lot of the clues really had me turned around. And the one big write-over area in the SW. At first had “dollars” for STJOHNS, capital, right? And after fixing that SpiceRUB slowed things. But a pretty decent puz all in all.

Was ANN Wilson the better looking one? Don’t recall.

Must run to a funeral, then probably HAVEABEER. Later.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

What a great day to run to a funeral and have a beer. :) Apparently the deceased was not that close.
This puzzle had my little gray cells turning to slate. But I persevered with only one look-up (Big Papi) and finished in the NE corner after guessing Tarth and Hennaed. Would never have thought that was a word. I still don't see the connection with Henna and tattooed hands but apparently Spacecraft looked it up so I'll take his word. Sog is not a word, period...so Mr. Dolan's head was a little soggy on that one. I liked sussing out Vic. Nothing else worked. Spandrels is new to me and I had keystones for a short while. Also had amalgam for 8D which slowed my usual 30-seconds completion time. haha Truth is I stare at the empty grid for at least 60 seconds before I begin.

I did like the puzzle because it was a real b-buster in spite of its shortcomings. So, thank you K.T.Dolan. One look-up for a Saturday is pretty good for this old timer.

Thanks DMG and Spacecraft for your respectful advice. Onetime I had a listed screen name and I sorta blasted the Reverend R. Parker. My somments were deleted so now I use anon. I hope I am not the cause of all the scrolling from day to day.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where "Wedgies" are allowed on all public transportation).

eastsacgirl 2:21 PM  

Pretty easy peasy for a Saturday. Beautiful day here in Sacramento. Think I'll HAVEABEER at a TAPASBAR followed by a ribeye with STEAKRUB and a SALAD. Go Giants!

leftcoastTAM 5:20 PM  

No brain freeze like yesterday, but nonetheless found this slow-going. I had to use an ICE AXE to chop my way through the NE and SW. I don't watch "Game of Thrones" so TARTH was tough, and ST JOHNS surfaced slowly.

I got an extra kick out of anticipating some of @Burma Shave's poetic words for the day, but as usual he outdid my expectations.

DMG 5:57 PM  

This was a big DNF for me! Don't know the capital of Barbuda, what's over an arch, any name from Game of Thrones. Also like lEmoN pie! Just not my day. Now to go look up Barbuda-don't even know where it is!

@M&A: How did you get past the Robot gibberish. It's had a permanent hold on my IPad for a long time. Fortunately it has yet to undermine my newer IPad Air, tho I probably shouldn't tempt it. I'd love to go back to the original device, the new one has so much going on it confuses this octogenarian. So if you read this and have a hint, please pass it on. I'll award you all my U's for the year!

Teedmn 9:29 PM  

Per the HENNAED hands, it is a thing. HENNAED is used like dyed or colored in this case. A friend, born in Morocco, got married last year and for one of her pre-nuptial activities with her close friends, had wanted everyone to get their hands HENNAED in the intricately whorled, temporary designs you sometimes see on women's hands. I think it is more of a Middle-eastern thing than Muslim, but not sure.

Nice one, @Burma Shave.

paulsfo 11:04 PM  

@Teedmn : I know that Indians (the ones i know of were Hindu) also all do this. I've been hennaed at work myself. :)

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