Spanish compose Isaac / SAT 7-11-15 / Alternative to Pantene / Star close to Venus / Jordan was part of it in 1984 / 1970s-'80s Olds / Served with sauce of mushrooms tomatoes olives oil wine / Yossarian's Catch-22 tentmate

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (but I did it first thing in the morning, before coffee, so ... it might be easier)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Isaac ALBÉNIZ (2D: Spanish composer Isaac) —
Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz y Pascual (Spanish pronunciation: [iˈsak alˈβeniθ]; 29 May 1860 – 18 May 1909) was a Spanish pianist and composer best known for his piano works based on folk music idioms. Transcriptions of many of his pieces, such as Asturias (Leyenda), Granada, Sevilla, Cádiz, Córdoba, Cataluña, and the Tango in D, are important pieces for classical guitar, though he never composed for the guitar. The personal papers of Isaac Albéniz are preserved, among other institutions, in the Biblioteca de Catalunya. (wikipedia)
• • •

Saturdays are the worst ones to leave til morning. Morning brain is in total rebellion against ... cleverness, wordplay, etc. Brain say "This clue nonsense. Me quit." If I could have a normal morning, where I get up and take the dogs out and make coffee and generally warm up for about an hour, and *then* hit the puzzle—no problem. But me, I go straight from bed to desk to get this write-up done, so I'm like Frankenstein's monster solving this thing, all key-mashing and frustration and confusion. Still, this one managed to endear itself to me, after the gnashing and flailing had subsided. Look, put SERENA and LISA SIMPSON in your puzzle, and I'm basically yours. You could probably throw a OES or an- IEST in there and I'd barely notice. Luckily, this puzzle had nothing so horrid in it.

 [Don't try me, puzzle!]

SERENA was my first answer in the grid (16A: Star close to Venus), LISA SIMPSON took longer (my only problem with that answer is its clue, which is kind of corny and utterly non-iconic; Lisa has said a billion better things; but whatever) (24A: TV character who said "I learned that beneath my goody two shoes lie some very dark socks"). Despite SERENA and a few more answers in the NE, I couldn't get the corner to work, largely because of MARENGO (?) and LOGJAM—I had the "J" and still couldn't put that one together. Wanted my speechless one to be a MUTE. So ... I tried to get into the SE via MEESE RISE EXP, but NEX- made me want NEXIUM. Is NEXIUM a thing? Ah, yes. A heartburn pill. Probably not great for your hair. NEXXUS, ugh. That answer would have to wait for the very end.

So where to? Threw down NBADRAFT with no help (17A: Jordan was aprt of it in 1984), and that jumpstarted the whole northern section. Finished off the NW and, from there, put enough pressure on the NE (via LISA SIMPSON and TITLE SONG) to finish it off. But no hope getting out of NW via the bottom because ALBENI-... was a mystery. Now that I see the "Z," I know I've seen the name before. But today, no DICE (which is almost the answer I put in for 35A: Game for cats). Without the "Z," couldn't see EZPASS, so ... stuck. Rebooted in SW, which proved very, very easy, as ORS (actually ERS) led into the surprisingly obvious YENTAS (66A: Members of the meddle class?) and extremely literal ACIDITY (39D: Nonbasic property), bang bang.

After cleaning a few things up back in the NW, I moved over to the SE for my last stand, which was almost a disaster. I blame NEXXUS. I got all the longer Acrosses in the SE, no problem. But I got None of the Downs. -UNT, -ACE, -TER, nothing. STARTER I really should've gotten, since that was the person I was imagining in my head from the moment I read the clue, but FrankenBrain had no idea what that gun-firing race guy was called, so pfft.

Got ORR (gimme) (58A: Yossarian's "Catch-22" tentmate), then figured 45D: Unspecified quantity had to be something something-AMOUNT. Hey, XAMOUNT, OK. But ... but ... stuck. Stuck on a single letter. UN-RACE (!?!?!?!?) (46D: Free from tension) and M-A (55A: What a suit may hold). It's only because all the surrounding fill was indisputable that I didn't tear things out. I actually ran the alphabet once, but FrankenBrain either forgot "B" (classic FrankenBrain) or didn't recognize it. I was thinking "suit" = cards, not bizness. Anyway, FrankenBrain took a second (non-EZ) pass at the alphabet and finally got UNBRACE. Sad to end on the very worst stupidest stupid word in the grid, but ultimately I just thought back to SERENA and LISA SIMPSON and I started feeling better again.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


RAD2626 7:51 AM  

Started with NBADReam thinking "team" would show up somewhere as a trick but soon realized it was a regular themeless and got DRAFT from the crosses. Had noserS for YENTAS which slowed the SW. Otherwise thought pretty smooth sailing for a Saturday. Also put in MutE with Rex although thought that would not pass the breakfast table test. Clever cluing; comparatively easy for third day in a row. Also agree UNBRACE is an oddity.

Glimmerglass 8:12 AM  

Finished (at last) in the SE. I was thinking, "Rex must have hated this." UNBRACE means to remove support. Tension is only incidental to the support; if you unbrace something, it may sag. PANT leg is clearly "green paint." MBA may wear a suit? Okaaay. Worst of all is XAMOUNT. After i finished, I was sure that my solution was incorrect, and I was almost disappointed that it was not, my answers were so silly. Well, like Rex I found the rest of the puzzle clever, even witty; so I can forgive an unclever, inane corner. This corner aside, I found the puzzle challenging and fun.

Hartley70 8:18 AM  

The B in UNBRACE was my last entry also. This was some puzzle! The cluing was terrific and every interpretation I saw at first, turned out to be wrong. I was not on the right wavelength so this was nearly double my usual time, but I loved the cleverness. There were no gimmes this morning, exactly what a Saturday should be!

r.alphbunker 8:23 AM  

{"Same here} ditto, metoo, asdoI, SOAMI. Did I miss any?

At the end I was looking at ILLI_/_EXXUS. Focused on ILLI_ and decided N looked best.

PURINA was used a couple of days ago. This is unusual because it only has been used 8 times during the Shortz era (and because its a brand name, never before). On the average it is used every 3 years or so. More analysis of usage frequencies is here

Billy C 8:40 AM  

Illin? => Me too, don't get it.

Clever, "workplace with many stats, for short". => ERs

Where is everyone this morning? Sleeping in?

Roo Monster 8:49 AM  

Hey All !
Whoa, Rex, late start, hot date last night? :-)

Typical SatPuz for me with ample use of "Check" feature. Never would get a toehold without Checking. Lots of initial wrongness. 6D same as @r.alph, ditto, metoo, andMe, SOAMI. Had SE first, DID SQUAT was nice, got NW next, made my way to SW, finished with the NE looking once more for the pangram. Only missing the J,W,K (before getting the NE). Found the J and W, but alas, no K! I found a place for the missing K. The MICE/EUROS cross. MICk/kUROS. KUROS being Greek for Lord. Missed opportunity, that was.

So, challenging over here. Wanted atpeACE for UNBRACE, gEmiNi for SERENA. Appropriate to see Marvel's ANT man, as movie comes out next week, I believe.

Thanks for the brain mashing, JD, next time get the pangram! :-P


George Barany 8:53 AM  

Getting ready to watch SERENA in the Wimbledon finals. That's pretty auspicious timing! Nice clue, @Joe DiPietro.

NCA President 8:56 AM  

I think Jeff Chen's write up about the puzzle at xword nails the heart and soul of this puzzle. The clue misdirection is's all fair...which made the solve very satisfying when I finished.

ALLINall (ALLINONE), nOdeAl (LOGJAM), MutE (MIME), rockopera (TITLESONG), franc (EUROS), GRAMma (GRAMPS), and on and on. I found I really had to be on my toes...nothing was a given even though it looked like it.

Only nit is UNBRACE. I don't think that's really a word.

MARENGO looks like it ought to be one of those Latin dances from Brazil or something ALBENIZ would compose.

Factoid: As for "Hair" being a rock isn't, technically. It is a musical about the pop culture of the time that included songs in the style of the hippy culture. So while the music is "rock and roll," it's only because the show is about rock and roll...from the outside in, if you will. On the other hand, Jesus Christ Superstar is a true rock opera. First, because there are no spoken lines so it is truly operatic, but second, the music is rock and roll from the inside out. There is no meta reason for it to be R&R as in Hair.

Bonus Factoid: JCS is considered the first of its kind even though Tommy predated it by a year. Both started out as concept albums, but JCS was staged a year after its release, whereas Tommy wasn't staged until 1992 (the movie was in 1975). I could be wrong here, but I also think the JCS concept record was released specifically to raise money for the staging, whereas Tommy was just a Who record that seemed stageable. If you've seen Tommy, you probably know that it's a really loose story that feels far more like a concept album than a stage production.

MDMA 9:02 AM  

SERENA was a gimme despite the supposedly misleading clue. A planet is never near any star for long.


Of all the GM brands and former brands, why is it that only Oldsmobile seems to have had crossword-friendly model names? There's the Chevy Nova, but it's usually clued differently.

After I finished the puzzle, I tried to look up Gramps brand soda on Wikipedia. Oops.

Writeover: aCreS for SCADS ("Lots")

Rex could have linked this Adam Ant video from the golden age of overproduced music videos.

PS, this is off-topic but I just have to share it: per,
FURNITURE has been used only once in a NYT puzzle: back on April 19, 1954! Can someone verify this, or think of an explanation?

joho 9:04 AM  

LOVED! Clever clues and really interesting answers. I finally finished in the NW when I realized Jordan was a person not a country and changed ALLINall to ALLINONE.

I also fell for the misdirection of "Pop maker?" and wrote in GRAMmy before GRAMPS.

Joe, you outdid yourself today ...thank you!

Mike 9:33 AM  

Went SW, NW, SE, NE. Got Nexcus because my dad uses it, I believe. NE tool entirely too long.

Norm 9:58 AM  

Bottom half pretty easy; top half not so much. JEWISON? MARENGO? ALBENIZ? Give me a break. EZPASS must be an east coast thing; we have FastTrack. And, a DEB goes to a ball, not a party. I found the cluing annoying rather than clever. I half expected to see that I'd misread the byline and that the puzzle was actually by Bob Klahn.

Billy C 10:12 AM  

@Norm. --

Re: Jewish, Marengo, Albeniz --

No problem, that's why God invented Google! ;-)

Billy C 10:14 AM  

Darn spellchecker again!


dk 10:26 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

Cheeky little puzzle.

Had the whole thing except the upper left. Went with the force and typed in NBADRAFT. Stared at the missing first letter for 1a &1d for far too long. Then the little gray cells were ASTIR and I could C the light.

The miss clueing was a stretch at times. I was mentally reviewing the periodic table for 21d and trying to think of some enigma related response to 48a. Alas I was over thinking again.

A good time. Thanks Joe.

jberg 10:29 AM  

After working through all the acrosses, and trying but failing to find crosses from each, I had MIME (changed from mute), NILE, NEO, YENTAS, and SEA ANEMONE. The only thing I was really sure of was SEA, with a little confirmation from the MIME/ANEMONE cross. Then I stared over with the downs and came upon ALBENIZ, a gimme. (Not bragging, just you either know it or you don't.) That gave me ALL IN all, and eventually helped me to change vIsta to SIGHT. But this was one slow puzzle for me. If my brain hadn't spit up an image of a lot of NEXXUS products in the window of a salon, I'd still be pondering this one.

And then I wasted another 10 minutes looking for the K and the V.

Oh yeah, I did have one other entry I was pretty sure of: alEro! Aside from the Alpha-Romero, are there other cars named for Greek letters?

I did like the puzzle after I was done, but what a struggle.

Carola 10:30 AM  

First in: a misspelled ALBENeZ (since I've only heard the name on classical-music radio) x EZPASS and SERENA x OER. Then....nuthin'...until a very hesitantly pencilled-in PANT...and then an oh-wait-a-minute Norman...JEWISON. Chip-chip-chipped away at the ORR (sorry) to finally disclose all of the gems. Excellent Saturday.

In the "pride goeth..." department - I was so smug about getting SERENA immediately but then was totally faked out by the French Christian: Huguenot was definitely not going to other sect....

@Glimmerglass - I think it's the other way around: an exec (suit) may have an MBA.

George Barany 10:40 AM  

Norman Jewison is not a member of the tribe. But check out his directing credits, which include "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Moonstruck" -- in addition to "In the Heat of the Night" which was the film in the clue.

GPO 10:47 AM  

A challenging but pretty speedy, for me, Saturday, about 30 minutes in all.

Likewise, the "B" in MBA was the last sqyare I filled in; that is, until I remembered that I had left the "O" in MARENGO, the better to enjoy my last-minute wild-ass guess.

One minor correction to NCA's erudite post above: not only did the Who perform Tommy in its entirety several times in 1969, which I say counts, but also the Seattle Opera staged a full production in 1971, with Bette Midler as the Acid Queen. Hey, it was the 70s.

Teedmn 11:07 AM  

My LOG JAM today was the NW.

First in was MICE crossing RAM and SEA ANEMONE. Had weasel before GRAMPS but with MIME being obvious from ANEMONE, that didn't last long. All of the SW and most of the SE were in but I had to finish the NE and come back down to get NEXXUS In order to get UNBRACED. I don't like the word as an answer but I thought it was well-clued - I had atpeACE first but, really wanting MBA. I wrote out _ _ B _ ACE out on my paper and ran the alphabet trying to decide what the letter after the B would be. R seemed the most likely but emBRACE didn't fit the clue so as mentioned before, I had to wait for the NE to fill in.

But DNF in the NW due to sEe GAIN. Even with ENROL, SOAMI (which was SOdoI for a while) and INFEST, with that 'e' at the end of 17A, I couldn't see DRAFT. I had the IDE of 1D and first put in "farsIDE", considered 'rawhIDE'. Went to AcrossLite and the check button showed me my error in 8D. Then it was all over but the dope SLAB. (I had fLAtTOP for a while too, doh!)

Nice puzzle, Mr. DiPietro!

Sir Hillary 11:18 AM  

Wonderful puzzle which played really hard for me. I had a brutal time in the SE, where atpeACE and then inpeACE led me to a cpA wearing a suit and a non-specific accOUNT. That sure felt strange, but it took me forever to go from knowing it was wrong to actually correcting it.

Just finished watching SERENA win yet another Grand Slam title. As I told my 19-year old daughter earlier this week, someday she will be telling her grandchildren that she got to watch SERENA play. Ms. Williams is simply the greatest female tennis player of all time, and one of the most amazing competitors in any sport ever.

jae 11:27 AM  

Delightful cluing and zippy answers, liked it a lot.  Medium for me.

@Roo - me too for atpeACE before UNBRACE.

A fine Sat. Joe!

AliasZ 11:28 AM  

- "UNBRACE my heart, baby let me go..." is a very nice Ray Charles earworm.
- I, like most people, fit my legs in one PANT at a time.
- I wonder if an ANT can fit its legs ALL IN ONE.
- A visual that will be hard to unsee: GRAMPS hard at work making pop.
- Archie Bunker in front of his TV: "Hey Edith, come watch this, the JEW IS ON."

I'M NOT SO SURE I liked all those IN phrases: CASHES IN, ALL IN ONE, IN CASE, IN FEST, IN T, PUR IN A, NOM IN EE, ILL IN, NETGA IN -- what's a NETGA? Then there is ONE: ONE OUNCE, ALL IN ONE again, and ANEM ONE. On second thought, all this repetitiveness gave the puzzle a bouncy rhythm and a touch of charm, so in the end I didn't mind it.

But then there were few Joe DiPietro puzzles I ever disliked - actually none that I can remember. I rarely have this much fun solving a puzzle. At every turn there was another unexpected surprise or clever misdirection -- at times made me feel like a lab rat in a maze. The MICE and COUGH DROP clues and the Caesarean section were precious. SERENA had me stumped for a few seconds also. But LISA SIMPSON DID SQUAT for me. I wouldn't want to watch her do that anyway, whoever she is.

One of the most beautiful pieces by Isaac ALBÉNIZ in my view is Córdoba from the suite of five works for piano titled Chants d'Espagne (Cantos de España), Op. 232, played here in a transcription for three guitars by a trio of exceptional bimbos. Sorry that sounds so wrong, let me rephrase it: a trio of exceptional sex kittens. No, no, no: a trio of exceptional YENTAS. Still wrong, try again: a trio of exceptionally talented young women. Now isn't that much nicer?

Joe Di, thanks for the fun.

pmdm 11:50 AM  

Fun puzzle today. I haven't started it yet, but get set for a good puzzle tomorrow, since it's one by Patrick Barry.

NCA President: One of the priests in residence at the small college I attended knew either Webber or Rice (I forget which one), so he was able to get permission to stage their works when nobody else could. He put on Joseph and the Technicolor Suit in spring 1971 (as verified here: http: and Jesus Christ Superstar the next year. While neither Weber nor Rice believed in the divinity of Christ, Father Buckley wanted to include that Christian belief in the play. During the closing music, he projected on a back screen a face that was apparently the face of Christ as he arose from the dead. Very similar to what FItch did during the New York Philharmonic staged production of Pucinella - projecting the doll's face looking down at the stage during the closing moments of the ballet. Which gives rise to an interesting question. Is Jesus Christ Superstar an opera with rock music or more a staged oratorio with rock music? The Philharmonic's last concert this season, a staged version of Honneger's Joan of Arc Oratorio, demonstrated the latter could be the case.

Marymom 11:54 AM  

I can't believe that Sir Hillary just totally screwed up my anticipated pleasure of watching the Wimbledon Ladies Final. I had been carefully avoiding any sites that would have reported the score.

As a tennis fan rather than a basketball fan, it seemed possible to me that Michael Jordan might have once been on the "NBA Dudes" team. But luckily straightened that out.


Tita 11:54 AM  

Aaw Rex, truly you're toying with me...a consecutive Friday and Saturday that you call med-chall, that I was able to finish? You are really enabling my smug superiority complex.

@r.alph yesterday and today - cool to see the frequencies and proximities...
What is "shortest reuse" - the days elapsed between uses? The most interesting ones are those with lowest Total Appearances and lowest "Shortest Reuse".
Oh - thanks!!

Feline theme today - I count one extra with 16A. That clue threw me - like @MDMA, figured it was a celestial misdirect - but it was funny that this clue came just after a rare conjunction of Venus and Jupiter last week, and, that my cat is names Venus, and her co-star is Marz[ipan]. (That's him as my avatar.)

And yes, I do have a TUNACAN or 12 in my pantry.

This was a struggle, with me ripping out vast swaths whil staring blankly at the blank swaths. It took 3 sessions - late last night, over breakfast, and after farmer's market.

Agree on greenish hue on that PANTS leg.

Alphabet run on _ _ _ASS *finally* made me see EZPASS when I got to _ _ PASS, and that opened up the NW - a Spaniard ending in IZ? Has to have an ENIZ... - and phew - I CASHESIN!

Thanks Mr. DiPietro, and Rex for the ego boost 2 days running!

Lewis 12:02 PM  

This puzzle shows the power of cluing. Look at the grid answers - what haven't you heard of, except maybe NEXXUS, ALBENEZ, ILLIN, and maybe UNBRACE. So the crunch doesn't come from lack of knowledge, it comes from the wordplay and misdirection in the cluing. This was great fun for me, with the upper half harder than the lower. But the solve was rife with aha's and smiles, what a grand old time! My favorite clue was that for DIOR, then GRAMPS. This puzzle shows that you don't have to have super long answers for a puzzle to be interesting. Great one, Joe!

DigitalDan 12:16 PM  

Too much into politics these days to get the Jordan genre right -- was looking for a war or something.

With NCA President on "Hair." Whether it really was or not, it was called a ROCKOPERA. Is quite literally a title song, though, a veritable paean to the subject.

Lewis 12:23 PM  

Factoid: In the mid 1990s, the mayor of Bogota, Columbia, replaced the Traffic Police with 420 MIMEs – who followed and shamed jaywalkers and poor drivers by publicly mocking them. Amazingly pedestrian traffic compliance increased from 26% to 75% within 2 months, and traffic fatalities fell by 50% over a longer period.

Quotoid: "STRIP away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you'll find the real tinsel underneath." -- Oscar Levant

old timer 12:28 PM  

Well, I thought I would finish this one, when i changed "sur" to QUE (Spanish for "what?" giving me the GASMETER I wanted and the lovely DIDSQUAT. I certainly had STARTER -- in fact, I used a starter's gun once or twice at my daughters' high school swim meets. In more serious meets, an electronic starter is used, but the gun is available in case of need, as are stopwatches. But no. Never, ever heard of NEXXUS and never could accept UNBRACE. Still can't. Also had "fess" for RISE, though the clue there was perfectly fair.

My favorite answer to my favorite clue: LISASIMPSON. Most refreshing answer: SEA and ANEMONE -- I was seeing myself out on the coast, where it is always at least mildly interesting to toss a mussel into one and watch nature at work. The flower-like critters are always grateful for a free meal.

I pretty easily got TITLESONG. I've seen "Hair" once or twice. Also seen "Tommy" but not as a "rock opera". Heaven forfend! If you put on an *opera*, the royalties are enormously high, and not covered in the standard BMI or ASCAP contracts venues for music have to sign. But Bill Graham figured he could pay The Who to peerform each song from "Tommy" in order, with no staging, no unsung words. That set of performances at Winterland in San Francisco were among the best ever put on there, and you can believe every single ticket was sold that weekend.

mathguy 12:43 PM  

@Lewis: Excellent point, as usual. As you've pointed out before. It's all about the cluing.

The Closer and I dripped a lot of sweat before getting it. We got naticked at the intersection of ALBENIZ and EZPASS. We call our transponders FastTracs.

A lot to like today. Learned some good stuff -- MARENGO, ALBENIZ, EPSOM (that there's a college there), NEOcortex. Several aha moments. But hard to say that it was enjoyable because it took so much time.

I agree that Serena is great but she could be a lot better. She makes too many careless errors.

Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  

@009: Primo review of a themelessthUmbsUp puz with 6 U's.

@r.alph: I also tried ASAMI.

Spent valuable extra nanoseconds on {Hit from the '60s?} clue at 9-D. Had ?S?, and would not quit it, til I came up with the answer. Weejects clued with ? clues do that to M&A. Like waving a red flag in front of his nose. snort.

day-um. Just lined up EZPASS in my sights with its symmetric bro NEXXUS. Seedlet entries?

Fun solve. Thanx, Joe. More desperation next time, please. UNBRACE helped a little, tho.


Joe 1:29 PM  

Attn: XWORD constructors

EZPass is a *regional* driver's convenience. This is the NYT, so, fair to assume your readers have heard of it, if the NYT audience is just regional. If not, you look provincial, assuming everyone knows your regional products and services.

Steve J 2:56 PM  

Took me forever to get going with this one, but once I did things fell together steadily. Except in the NE, where I stupidly didn't notice for minutes that I had missed a letter and dropped CUC(u)MBER at 13D, which made me think that THE SUN indeed fit at 16A. I didn't help myself by not unlatching my brain from Norman Mailer as the director of In the Heat of the Night (never mind that he's not a director). Eventually had to google JEWISON to get me to notice that I'd made a mess of that corner.

Enjoyed the cluing on this in several places, especially for COUGHDROP and GRAMPS.

@glimmerglass: Suits is common slang for executives, many of whom have MBAs.

@MDMA: "A planet is never near any star for long." Eh? Are you forgetting about that whole solar system thing?

uickly 2:59 PM  

I really liked the cluing and got through this one quickly for a Saturday. But the Nexxus/illin cross did me in. I knew it was something like "illim" but kept trying "illit."

Penna Resident 3:27 PM  

EZPASS is used in about a dozen states representing a large portion of the US population so it seems fair - especially compared to many other obscure regional references. im biased, of course, because the penna turnpike was a founding member of it. it still evaded me til the end.

@jberg: look no further than oldsmobile. delta 88.
alero is frequently clued as the end of the olds line, so it couldn't have been in the 70s.

RnRGhost57 3:40 PM  

What @SteveJ said in his first sentence.

Nancy 3:53 PM  

Very, very late solving today. Took a quick glance to see if others loved it as much as I did, and I see Hartley 79, joho, jae, and Lewis, among others, loved it too and for the same reason I did. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CLUING and the cluing here is unbelievably misleading! Just brilliant! NBA DRAFT, GRAMPS, DIOR, COUGH DROP, MBA, DIAL -- every single one of them clued in a way that's entirely fair, but ungettable without at least some crosses. THIS IS EVERYTHING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE SHOULD BE! No arcane trivia and all wordplay. Mr. DiPietro, you can construct my puzzle every day of the week, that's how much I enjoyed this.

Fred Romagnolo 4:19 PM  

DNF because of NEXXUS. I'm not up on modern slang, so ILLIN wasn't there. It was the N. I was otherwise able to work everything else out. I'm surprised we haven't heard from one of the chefs on chicken MARENGO, one of the best examples of serendipity in cuisine. Good example of a Saturday puzzle, hard, but (in my case - almost) doable. Giuseppe Dipietro, congratulations!

wreck 4:31 PM  

I had to google a few times, but have to agree on the quality of the cling. The few times I had to google really opened up the rest of the grid. Another enjoyable puzzle -- great week over all!

wreck 4:33 PM  

... The cling was indeed great, but the cluing was nice too!

mathguy 4:39 PM  

I've been taking two 20 mg capsules of Nexium every day for GERD for a few years now. Quite effective but I still have to supplement with Tums often. It recently went generic and my HMO gives it to me as Omeprazole..

Nancy 4:51 PM  

SERENA is one of the 2 reasons I was so late to the puzzle today. (The other was trying to swim this a.m. ahead of the masses. Lotsa luck in THAT, Nancy!) But I'm gratified that today's match got the attention it did from the people here. And while I normally agree with @mathguy on just about everything, I don't agree in his comment on SERENA. It's Sir Hillary (at 11:18 a.m.) who I think got it absolutely right: that someday his granddaughter will say: "I saw Serena play!" I have a great many tennis friends, acquaintances and former partners from over the years and I would venture to say that a majority were rooting for the young challenger today. I know many recreational players who don't especially like Serena and who find her arrogant. But I am always aware, like Sir Hillary, that I am in the presence of greatness and that we won't see her like again anytime soon. And I'm someone who saw Billy Jean, Martina and Steffi in their primes.

Slow Motion 5:03 PM  

Yes, gotta love a good cling!

Really nice puzzle, tough but gettable answers, tricky but not unfair clues. Loved COUGHDROPS (Hacker's aid). This was just what a Saturday puzzle should be.

Berry tomorrow? Can't wait!

MetroGnome 5:35 PM  

No idea what either a "Pantene" or a "NEXXUS" is.

JFC 5:49 PM  

@Mathguy, if your HMO is giving you Omeprazole, it is not giving you the generic for Nexium. The generic for Nexium is Esomeprazole. Omeprazole is the generic for Prilosec. Nexium/Esomeprazole is stronger than Prilosec/Omeprazole, so you should ask your HMO why it switched, especially since you are having to take Tums in addition to it. Nexium and Prilosec are acid reducers (meaning they prevent the formation of acid in the stomach) whereas Tums is an acid neutralizer (meaning it neutralizes acid already formed in the stomach).

Slow Motion 6:02 PM  

Pantene and Nexxus are both brands of hair care products.

mathguy 6:07 PM  

@JFC: Thanks. I'll check with my MD.

Arlene 7:35 PM  

Finished puzzle - a few Googles - read some comments - agreed with most.
On to Sunday.

OISK 8:11 PM  

Enjoyed Nancy's comment about Serena. @mathguy wrote that she could be a lot better -makes too many careless mistakes. True. And Babe Rugh would have been a lot better if he didn't strike out so much! Apt comparison, IMHO, Serena is so far and away the greatest female tennis player I have ever seen.

Liked this puzzle, and finished it, even though it did contain a few of my" betes noires" obscure (to me) product name - Nexxus, less obscure - Purina, old car models - Omega, Hip-hop slang - "illin" . But these were balanced out by so much clever cluing!

A really nice Saturday workout for me. One of those where I had to stare at it for several minutes before I got a single answer (acidity), and then it slowly opened out. Thanks, Joe!

Anonymous 9:58 PM  

I remembered Nexxus from tv ads (I guess), but my immediate association with Nexxus is the evil spirit/representative of the evils of industrialization (played by Tim Curry!!!) from the children's animate movie Fern Gully, which I watched with my (young( kids innumerable times in the early to mid 1990s. The shampoo line pales in comparison! Liked this one a lot all in all (NOT all in one).

ChrisP in Ann Arbor MI

kitshef 11:15 PM  

@Nancy - as a lad my father took me to see Pele play at RFK stadium. At the time, it didn't mean that much to me, though it did to Dad. Now, Dad is gone, Pele is ancient, and it means a lot to me. Apologies to all for not knowing how to make the accents on Pele.

Wonderful puzzle, slightly marred by the pair of XAMOUNT and UNBRACE. I agree that it was really, really hard to get started (ANT was my opener), then you could steadily chip away until, miraculously it was done.

Seems like the B in UNBRACE was the last square for lots of people (or folks, if you prefer). For me, it was the R in UNBRACE.

metoo before ASAMI, winwin before LOGJAM, rockopera before TITLESONG. lepan before EUROS.

Love having both MEESE and MICE.

Kevin Kneuer 8:25 AM  

Am I the only one who put in OLYMPICS instead of NBADRAFT??? Jordan was on the 1984 Olympics basketball team. It took me a night's sleep to finally realize that it was wrong.

Thought it was a great puzzle; very clever.


Leapfinger 9:20 AM  

@Nancy, I'm no grammar nazi, but it seems to me that 'in their primes' doesn't need pluralizing. Am willing to entertain opposing POVs.

@mathguy, good thing you weren'ttreated with Prilosec, or you mightn't have had a clue.

@FredRom, I also expected the @chefs to dance with MARENGO, but myself had to wait foe a few crosses; you see, my chicken of choice is piccata (easy) and Kiev (ridiculously complicated).

Another vote here for kudoing the cleverness. The best part was that sometimes you got the cling, sometimes the cling got you. Got the 'hacker' off the -DRO-, but stuck on Venus despite yesterday's schedule. DIOR was the TEASER with the most style: as @Carola mentioned, it was hard to get past the Huguenots. Like others, was misdirected by Jordan into the middleEast; when I got back to Mike, it was obvious: 1984, he was in the TARHEELS, right? ... no idea what 'iN BAD RAFT' he'd been boating... Loved the mute/MIME MICE (or MEESE) and the GAUL of 'Caesarean section'. I had just recently read something about Heat of the Night,so JEWISON was right there; it also reminded me of one of Lewis Black's most JEWI, JEWI lines.

The significance of the NILE RISE centerpiece was not lost on me: most of Egypt's history and culture is related to the annual RISE of the NILE in flood. My new snippet of significance in that area is that the flooding (first stage of the cycle) was called Akhet

IM NOT SO SURE that one ANT in a PANT is enough to make ONE STRIP, but an INFESTation of MEESE will surely cause one to UNBRACE and drop DRAWER.

I'LL save my BAD RAFT story for another day.

Loved your Saturday, Joe diP. Will you be MIME?

Leapfinger 10:16 AM  

"UNBRACE me, my sweet UNBRACEable ewe"

@Alias, I needed a couple of crosses to come up with ALBENIZ,as I'm not on a first-name basis with many Spanish composers. I was surprised to learn that everything I'd ever heard of his had been transcribed to classical guitar, originally written for piano.

Does 'Athenaeum' imply those are three Greek talented young women?
In how many places is it possible to try sticking an AE into Athenaeum?

Tita 2:44 PM  

@Leapy - great ANT story!!

@jberg from Friday... to continue on my pluralistic quandary from Thursday, you bring in yet another interesting (only to word geeks) twist, about which word is actually being pluralized...though still doesn't explain why some folks might say "2 *foot* of snow" like @NCA Pres.

So, Quid/pounds, aircraft/planes, stone/pounds will have to suffice for my synonyms-with-different-plurals list.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

It took a little extra at my dyslexic LOGJAM created by LISASIpmSON, which gave me GRAMMS, which I could buy, but pEESE? Doh! Got it fixed.

IMNOTSOSURE what he'll SEA in that TEASER, has she GAUL to drop DRAWERs and STRIP for the geezer? INCASE she DIDSQUAT for XAMOUNT,ORR CASHESIN ALLINONE account,she gave RISE to GRAMPS for those EUROS that please her. ILLIN OER DEB by SERENA JEWISON.

Looks like I,m the NOMINEE to GOLAST in the shower this A.M. Too much puzzling.

rondo 11:42 AM  

Took me quite some time to finish. Some clever clues and head-scratchers for answers. Maybe too much hot tub last night?

SERENA is not my type, but probably a tennis yeah baby for that set. Set, get it?

OER and ORR for today's homonyms.

IMNOTSOSURE that bs didn't sneak one in today, somehow got an EZPASS.

Wife is anxious for mountain biking, INCASE I don't survive, the pleasure's been all MIME.

spacecraft 12:57 PM  

DNF in the NW. Didn't think I was going to get any of it, till I saw ANT Man. Surprisingly, the south fell rather quickly off that, but I built myself a major roadblock with atpeACE for "Free from tension." Sounded perfectly good to me. ILLIN and MEESE forced me into NEXXUS (I think Joe made this whole puzzle just to get that name in print). Strange clue for LOGJAM, but I knew my director guy was JEWISON. MARENGO, a WOE, went in on crosses. SIMPSON was in, but as I'm not a follower (what!?! Yes, folks, there are still a few of us who aren't) I had no idea which one. Bart makes 5-down end in B; hardly right. My final roadblock--and fatal error--was ditto for "Same here." Could not come up with the Jordan thing...have I mentioned my horribleness at timelines? I thought of him as well as the country, but blanked. The downs? CANDIDE? Didn't know. And that Spanish dude? NO ONE knows. @Alias Z claims knowledge, but I bet even HE had to Google that guy. As a crossword entry? Yougottabekiddingme. SLABTOP: is that a thing? Never heard of it. Even that little HID hid from me; "Withheld" is another strange clue. It works, sort of, but strange. Missed it. Just the whole section was too tough. INC.

leftcoastTAM 5:24 PM  

Like others, it took me a while, but finally it fell with my last entry, Z, in the ALBENIZ/EZPASS cross. I think (hope)I've learned my lesson that when I need to run the alphabet, I go all the way to the end.

The ILLIN/NEXXUS cross was also a puzzler, but changing the tense of RoSE to RISE made that middling area decipherable.

@rondo: Yes, Anon is surely BS, but of course we want to keep him HID.

Longbeachlee 4:18 PM  

Got a great start with Rock Opera, as if it wasn't hard enough.

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