Villainess Vanderwaal of TV's Pretty Little Liars / SAT 7-4-15 / Actress Cadranel of TV's Lost Girl / Married supersleuths of 1970s-80s TV / musical set on island of Kalokairi / Musician who's great-great-grandnephew of Herman Melville / Treat with polar bear in logo

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TYSON GAY (19A: He became the fastest sprinter in the U.S. ) —
Tyson Gay (born August 9, 1982) is an American track and field sprinter, who competes in the 100 and 200 meters dash. His 100 m personal best of 9.69 seconds is the American record and makes him tied for second fastest athlete ever, after Usain Bolt. His 200 m time of 19.58 makes him the fifth fastest athlete in that event. He has since received a 1-year ban for doping. (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle was what I would call "aggressively youthful." Right on the edge of Trying Too Hard. But Sam is in fact aggressively youthful, so the puzzle probably felt just right to him. The difference between an aggressively youthful and an aggressively olde-timey puzzle is that we all have access to the present, so even though the contemporary TV clues here are almost laughable in their obscurity, historical flimsiness, and almost certain ephemerality (I don't even know what "Lost Girl" is), I generally liked the poppy and sassy nature of this puzzle, and prefer a puzzle like this to one that prefers to live in a world where time stopped right about the time Reagan was first elected. I can't get that mad at the pop culture today, anyway, since it was the source of most of my outright gimmes. After flailing around in the NW for a bit, I finally ran into a no-brainer (for me) in the east: "MIAMI INK" (27A: Former TLC reality show set in a Florida tattoo parlor). Pretty sure I just had a conversation with some constructors about whether this show, or its companion "L.A. INK," was a viable answer, and for how long. Anyway, here's what my first bit of traction in the grid looked like:

That TOMS was a total guess (12D: ___ River, N.J.). Not generally fond of puzzles that force me to rely on total guesses, but the crosses *seemed* (and ultimately were) solid, so I moved on. "MIAMI INK" + NICKI Minaj + AT THE ZOO were all gimmes, so I went right through the middle of the grid, and then down JEDI MIND TRICK into the SE, where KLONDIKE BAR (another gimme) opened everything right up. Surprised by NIRO—that's a name partial that I was once asked (by the editor of a "lesser" puzzle) to edit out of one of my grids (many years ago). This led me to believe that nobody puts NIRO in a corner ... I mean grid. Nobody puts NIRO in a grid. DENIRO, sure, NIRO, no. But here we are. Good thing NIRO is one of the few ICKY things about the grid (I'd add MOR to that list, and that might be all that I'd add).

["Nobody puts BBS in a corner!" That was the joke. Just sitting there. Oh, well. Next time.]

So, out of the south I rode the GLOW-IN-THE-DARK express up into the NW.

Or, rather, I threw that answer up there, but then moved over and dealt with the SW first. I weirdly mildly enjoyed being forced to remember "HART to HART" (46D: Either of two married supersleuths of 1970s-'80s TV) ("When they met ... it was murder!"). No real trouble down there. That just left the NW, which ... well, thank god for that terminal "J" at 13A: Staple of Mediterranean cuisine, because I never heard of TYSON GAY until [looks at watch] 15 minutes ago. I thought USAIN BOLT was the fastest, and he is, but, crucially, he's not from the U.S. So BABA GHANOUJ to the rescue. But dear lord I just guessed on the spelling. And nailed it. Dumb luck.

Once that went in, none of the answers up there had a chance. Clues on MOBY and INGA were virtually impossible without all the crosses, but luckily those crosses weren't hard to come by. Oh ... MOBY. I just got that (8D: Musician who's a great-great-grandnephew of Herman Melville). I've known who MOBY is for 20 years but the connection to "MOBY-Dick" never occurred to me. Weird.

Finished at WHIMS / HANGS. And ... scene.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Whirred Whacks 12:04 AM  

Fun and breezy for me. I seemed to be on the same wave length as the constructor for many of the longer answers -- which is very rare for me on a Saturday.

Nice to see TYSON GAY as an answer. Also liked AM I RIGHT (though I usually see it as "amirite" on Twitter) and JEDI MIND TRICK.

REQUEST: I'm writing a short article on ambiguity in the creative process. The piece is not about crossword puzzle solving, but since ambiguity is important part of good clueing, I'd like to include some particularly clever crossword clues.

For example, one of my favorites is: "Man known for his double-take." [The answer is NOAH.]

Do you have some favorite ambiguous crossword clues (and answers) you could share with me? Either include them in today's comments, or email me:

roger [at] wisefool [dot] net

Many thanks!

jae 12:08 AM  

Medium for me. Got off to a rocky start with BudS before BROS.  Put in JEDI...but really wondered about the J.  The alternative spelling of GHANOUsh was a total WOE along with @RexTYSON GAY.  After that it was pretty smooth sailing. 

Liked it a lot.  Scrabbly stuff, plenty of zip, minimal dreck, a very fine Sat!
Nice one Sam.

Evan Jordan 12:17 AM  

This was my fastest Saturday with no look-ups. Rex is obviously not wrong about the youthful bent to the clues. At 31 years old, it was helpful at times, but the TV actresses from current network shows... please; unless one becomes a star in the future, ephemera is the indeed the word.
Loved the inclusion of BADDY. Reminds me of the first time I heard it in a That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch about nazi soldiers in a trench. One is uneasily musing to another on the peculiarly evil-looking uniforms, regalia and trench-art handicrafts around them. After much beating around the bush he looks up dejected and asks "Are we the baddies?"

MDMA 12:22 AM  

Another all's-well-that-ends-well for me, a bit faster than average.

Never heard of SAL SODA. The Wikipedia article on sodium carbonate lists several common names, but not this one. Per Wikipedia, it's not the same as baking soda, which is sodium bicarbonate.

SAL SODA has potential Naticks with BABA GHANOUJ and TYSON GAY, which itself has a potential Natick at INGA. There's another potential Natick at MOT / TOMS. But it's not a Natick if you know one of the two crosses, so at least that worked out OK for me.

Good thing I've heard of Nicki Minaj, so I can avoid the ire of the mean-spirited geezer-caller-outer anonymice. (I should probably rephrase that sentence to make "ire" a verb, as per good crosswordese). Also heard of Moby... you know, the guy who turns 50 this year and whose last big hit in the US had a music video with a cameo from Kato Kaelin of all people, but whose name is somehow supposedly a poster child factoid for young turk with-it-tude. I've even heard of "Lost Girl" for fortuitous small-world reasons... but as far as actor clues go, that's pretty darn obscure. Still, if you're stuck with INGA as short fill, at least that name's the top entry that comes up when you type it into IMDb search.

SARDI'S is eyerolling New York -centrism, but gettable from crosses.

Steve J 12:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 12:43 AM  

Found this extremely easy for a Saturday. Maybe I was just on Sam's wavelength, despite the fact I'm no longer youthful, aggressively or otherwise (I go for passively middle-aged these days).

There were a few rough spots - I swore SAL SODA was an error, but all the crosses checked; and there are a couple clues that tried so hard to be cute they flirted with inaccuracy - but the long fill throughout the puzzle was so good I didn't much care about those MICRO-issues. Enjoyable, if quick, Saturday puzzle.

Meanwhile, every time I see TYSON GAY's name, I can't help but think of the hilarious/pathetic story of the hate group American Family Association's automated changing of gay to homosexual in any article it reprinted resulting in a story about Tyson Homosexual qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Lydia 12:49 AM  

Only one I had to look up was LOFGREN, which I had first as LunGREN, then LinGREN. I assumed there was some punny way that football players were STiCKY that I wasn't getting, and just went with it.

Also I originally had MonoLITHIC, because, I don't know, that's a word too. No idea what a MOT is but got it anyway. I found it an easier than average Saturday because of the very guessable long answers.

Music man 12:55 AM  

This didn't really feel like a Saturday to me. I'm young though so maybe it reflected my knowledge base well. First two answers were KLONDIKE BAR and GLOW-IN-THE-DARK. Everything else fell shortly after. Liked the clues for BIBLE and SPELLING BEE, oh and 47a, cute. Funny to see what other peoples "gimmes" are when they struggle on my "gimmes" and I struggled on theirs.

JFC 1:03 AM  

The difference between an aggressively youthful and an aggressively olde-timey puzzle....

Fun and breezy for me....

Medium for me....

This was my fastest Saturday with no look-ups....

Another all's-well-that-ends-well for me, a bit faster than average....

Found this extremely easy for a Saturday....

Only one I had to look up was LOFGREN....

This didn't really feel like a Saturday to me....

Today must be Monday.


Moly Shu 1:12 AM  

Like @Lydia, Mono before MEGA and whaLE before BIBLE ( and I thought I was so clever ). I prefer my singular anti-heroes to end in IE, not Y. BADDY just doesn't look right. AM I RIGHT or ...? Also didn't care for DLIST. Lots of good long answers and just enough gimmies, for me, to make this less than challenging. I'm looking at you, NICKI LOFGREN, MOBY, TYSON, Yoda, and the HARTS.

I liked it, but I fear my fellow cave dweller @OISK is gonna struggle mightily and be less than happy with it. Maybe SARDIS will help him. HOLLA back.

Hartley70 1:44 AM  

Loved all the "Youthful!" aggression! This skewed easy for a Saturday because I knew the television references, no trouble with the rave accoutrements, would do a lot for a KLONDIKEBAR right about now, HOLLA to MOBY and NICKI, remembered MAMMAMIA locale. I only stumbled on my last letter. The I in ELI. Even running the alphabet didn't help, although I liked the clue for IPASS. Fast and fun IMHO.

MDMA 1:49 AM  

Lots of adjectives in this puzzle: STOCKY, NOSY, RAPT, HAZY, ICKY, DRY.

gin halted work (know death girl?)
indict dim jerk
a bolder kink
legible pens
gay sex monk
lithe magic
scream talk
that ooze


AliasZ 1:56 AM  

HOLLA, everyone.

Will, how does BARF pass your widely publicized breakfast test? Please mansplain to us.

This one was fun in places but totally unreachable in others. I came away with an unsatisfied, frustrated feeling, and surprised that such shoddy work made it into a NYT Saturday issue. It was so loaded with ridiculously obscure pop-culture WOEs, that half way through I couldn't care less if I finished it or not.

- You watch reality shows about tattoo parlors regularly, AM I RIGHT or AM I RIGHT? Yeah, me too.
- After the HALEN partial-name fiasco yesterday, we get NIRO today. Really?
- D-LIST: is there such a thing, or is this another MUWOC (made-up word of convenience)? May have as well been F-LIST (I do have one of those myself) or any-other-letter-LIST.

The NW was uninferrable for the most part, having no idea who INGA Cadranel or "Lost Girl" is, who MOBY or TYSON GAY is, or what SAL SODA is, and how to spell BABA ganoosh. Wikipedia says: "Baba ghanoush, also appears as baba ganush, baba ghannouj or baba ghannoug." The one spelling conspicuously missing is BABA GHANOUJ. The totally unknown INGA and MOBY crossings constitute the classic definition of double Natick pour moi.

I did enjoy MEGALITHIC, IDIOT BOXES, RECORD CROWD, and I wish I had a KLONDIKE BAR in my freezer right now, however these were nowhere enough to overcome the arbitrary obscurities scattered all over the grid.

Yesterday's and today's puzzles were a disappointment, sorry to say. On to Stan Newman's Saturday Stumper.

Unknown 2:46 AM  

First time poster. For whatever reason, the long ones just jumped out at me today. It didn't help me finish any faster than usual, but it sure made it easy to believe what I got was right. Only guess was at Mot/Toms and Mot seemed right.

Matt C 2:48 AM  

I'm the unknown at 2:46. Forgot to set up my name on my blogger acct.

chefwen 2:51 AM  

What would you do for a Klondike Bar? Don't know, never had one. Glad a don't have some in my freezer as they would have melted like every else in there. Damn thing broke down today and most everything is thawed and or will be soon. AAARGH!

Puzzle was easy/medium for me. Knew Babaghanouj right off, but had no clue how to spell it other than BABA????? So that was a look up.
Had solvent in at 4D BEEP!

Loved NICKI crossing ICKY, seemed apropos. Nuff said about that.

Fun Saturday!

Mike in DC 3:08 AM  

@Lydia: MOT is French for word. A "bon MOT," literally "good word," is a witticism. A "zinger" is a witty comeback.

Now someone is bound to correct my etymology.

I enjoyed the puzzle.

travis 3:33 AM  

I've seen every episode of Lost Girl, and still had no idea who Inga Cadranel was. I thought perhaps she was Kenzi, but no. On seeing her character name, I still had no idea who she was. And remember I've seen every episode. She has actually been in more episodes of Orphan Black which is perhaps a more popular show. Perhaps there should be a rule: in order for an actor/actress to be clued in relation to a show without even giving the character's name, they have to appear in at least a third of the episodes in at least one season.

Anonymous 4:02 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyable Saturday! I'm 69 and had little trouble with modern language/references. Lots of great stuff in this grid. A little on the east side fir a Saturday, but ultimately a very satisfying solve.

jae 4:27 AM  

@travis - I've seen every episode of Orphan Black and had to IMBD INGA (@MDMA she did come up first) to come up with her character which I still didn't recognize. So, I wikied her and, sure enough, she was in season 1 and scheming against Sarah/Allison early in season 2, which I now vaguely remember. Bottom line is I whole heartedly agree with you. Yes, it's a Saturday, but if you've actually been a fan of the show and still have no idea who the actress is it may not be the best clue. Maybe INGA Swenson from Benson...?

Danp 6:09 AM  

@Steve J - AFA actually had several headlines and articles referring to Tyson Gay as "Homosexual", including "Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials." Apparently they didn't consider their language filter program as a bug so much as a feature.

John Child 6:55 AM  

INGA, MOBY, TYSON GAY double-Natick here too. I might have sorted that out if I'd been more creative about ways to spell BABA.

Hard, hard, hard for me, but fun for 95% of the trip.

Z 7:04 AM  

@jae - INGA Swenson!

NW struggles again, even with the groan worthy spelling of BABA GHANOUJ(sh). Not fond here of alternative transliterations to cram Ina terminal J. I have to wonder if an aggressive JEDI MIND TRICK was used to get that through. Coming up with GAY's first name was an exercise in creative wrongness, mYrON -> bYrON -> TYSON. Other if hold up was thinking South Pacific rather than Greece for my musical island. Finished at MAMMA MIA and wondered WOE MOR is. Still wondering so off to the Google.

Z 7:18 AM  

Ahh, MORocco. Having forgotten that Western Sahara was a place in and of itself, I was trying to come up with someplace south of the Sahara Desert. D'Oh.

Muscato 7:20 AM  

The whole thing deffinitely left me feeling like An Old, and I admit to have to look up these, to me, totally unfamiliar actresses. Also thrown because the Egyptian spelling of that tasty dish (a favorite at our house right about now, as it's Ramadan and the husband fasts - and then eats all night) is BABA GHANOUSH. Still faster than usual for a Saturday...

Howard Flax 7:52 AM  

I blew through this one like it a Wednesday. Pretty easy, but fun! I was happy to see Sam's name when I printed this one out. I try to do his puzzles weekly on his Grid Kid blog. There were a few things I didn't know, but I was able to infer them correctly.

Joseph Welling 7:55 AM  

I think Rex's assessment of this one must be off. I'm an old fart who usually likes the classical type of thing that Rex often decries and who usually dislikes a lot of contemporary references. I also rarely finish a Saturday (Googling=DNF to me), but I finished this one in 21 minutes. That's more like Thursday time for me.

RAD2626 8:03 AM  

Thought this was really good puzzle with lots of fun longs: JEDI MIND TRICK, IDIOT BOXES, KLONDIKE BAR, etc. Always interesting how some people's WOES are others' gimmes. My first sure thing was TOM from their success in the Little League World Series. On the other hand, I cannot spell OXeGyN and had BABAGANOUh for more time than I care to admit, which slowed down what would otherwise have been a quick solve.

Rex Porker 8:13 AM  

I am old beyond my years, so, even if puzzles and clues should be in my wheelhouse, I accuse them of being "aggressively youthful." I'm fine with the obscure youthful clues with which I happen to be familiar, like MIAMIINK, but other than that gem (a gem because I knew it), the others are obscure and ephemeral.
Here's the thing: In a late-week puzzle, there are pretty much always proper names I don't know from the clues. So it really doesn't matter than much if it's "12th king of Norway" or "her first appearance was in "Oklahoma!" in 1943, or "star of "Freebie and the Bean", or "she was the first woman to find gold in The Yukon," or "rapper who first used the word HOLLA." Part of what makes a solver a good solver is the ability to figure out the name from context and crosses. The fact that I WHINED about obscurities and ephemera in a late-week puzzle is another demonstration of my level of burn-out.

However, I feel the need to demonstrate that I am on a first-name basis with constructor "Sam," so I am amused by and forgive his youthful indiscretions. Talk about condescension and damning with faint praise: "...the puzzle probably felt just right to him."

Now you kids get off my lawn.

Jamie C. 8:15 AM  

I am shocked by Rex's "medium-challenging." I thought this was the easiest Saturday in a long time.
Now I'm going to devour some HOLLA french toast.

r.alphbunker 8:17 AM  

I have never heard of MIAMIINK but the clue {Former TLC reality show set in a Florida tattoo parlor} and the crosses helped me figure it out. "Florida" gave me MIAMI off of MIA and "tattoo" gave me INK off of IN.

Learned that a DLIST is the lowest rating on the Ulmer Scale, and it is often used to describe persons whose celebrity is so obscure that they are generally only known for appearances as so-called celebrities on panel game shows and reality television.

@Whirred Whacks
It sounds like an interesting article. When it is done, could you post how to find it here?

FYI, I generated a list of all clues that end in ?

Bruce Springsteen 8:24 AM  

In honor of today, possibly the greatest 4th of July song ever written, with The Boss featuring Nils Lofgren. Hope it's not too aggressively youthful for the crowd here (it's from 1975):

4th Of July, Asbury Park [Sandy]

Casco Kid 8:24 AM  

At 1:15 this was a fast Saturday for me, too. I did need 5 googles as proper nouns INGA Cadranel, ATTHEZOO, MONA Vanderwaal, TYSONGAY and MOBY weren't gettable from crosses. Indeed they had to be the crosses from which the other entries were gettable. Puzzles are designed with a few unambiguous entries, and if you don't just know them cold, then the remaining cluing had better be transparent. Not the case tiday. I'll cop to one cheat: MOBY's clue wasn't googleable without a direct pointer to Rex's comments, so that was bad. Otherwise, two errors: NIkKI/IkKy. I really thought her name was NIkKI Minaj.

The overall quality of cluing is much better today than last couple of days. But it will be much much more fun without googles. Someday maybe...

dk 8:27 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns) Solid challenge.

My inner 12 year old chortled at BARF. My outer old guy winced at BADDY and MISDID.

14 & 15d along with 56a gave this puzzle a Saturday afternoon at the movies feel.

56A was my favorite although I have Skinny Cows in the freezer.

Happy Fourth. I will be in Wanderoos WI for fireworks in a field tonight.

Glimmerglass 8:28 AM  

The younger solvers had fun commenting on this one. I can't make clever comments about the contemporary pop culture clues and answers, because I never heard of them. You see, I am 2 1/2 times 31, and probably twice whatever JFC is. I struggled. I did finish correctly by knowing non-contemporay references (HART, for example) and second-hand knowledge (NICKI Minaj is in a commercial for something or other). So while I believe those who say they found it too easy for a Saturday (Amy at NYT crossword blog, for one), I agree with Rex's rating of medium/challenging.

Sheila Bell 8:29 AM  

Don't understand how English professor doesn't know Moby?

Haiku Nerd 8:30 AM  


NCA President 8:34 AM  

If you want to know what my grid looked like near the finish, just take a look at Rex's early solve grid and then completely reverse it. I had the entire grid filled except for that eastern seaboard section. Almost exactly the opposite.

I love that one of the benefits to having kids is that it keeps me young. It isn't that they know (or would know) a lot of the "younger" entries here, but they've pointed me in directions where I'm in a position to know much of this stuff. I hope I never get to that age where I give up on what is "current." Not that it matters, and it isn't that I actively look it up, but I do think it keeps my view point a bit more malleable. I could be wrong I suppose...

I really liked the puzzle today. I didn't find it "aggressively" was what I would call "fresh." But not just fresh. Unlike many of the younger constructors who go out of their way to find bizarro clues/answers, this one was fair top to bottom with just a couple of hitches (MOT/TOMS, INGA/TYSONGAY, MISDID, etc).

Apart from getting hung up on the MOT/TOMS corner, I also had NIkKI for a long time...which held up ICKY...which held up seeing MIAMI which...ok, you get the idea. I also had GuM at 18A (because I'm old) and erased that to write in MonoLITHIC. Let's just say there were a lot of erasures, groanings, and grumblings. But here's the deal: when it fell into place it was a genuine "aha" moment rather than the sometimes "ugh" moment. And for that, I thank it.

This is a good example of what puzzles of the future ought to look like. And not one pun to be found...

Aketi 8:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:42 AM  

I last went to the movies in 1962, back when there were real stars. Never heard of this "Star Wars" thing people keep talking about.

Aketi 8:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:50 AM  

@Bruce@ 8:24: GREAT song. But Nils LOFGREN joined the band in 1984--your video features the great Steve Van Zandt.

Steven M. O'Neill 8:51 AM  

I'm sort of embarrassed that I tried HALTERTOPS before IDIOTBOXES. I'll be okay though.

My favorite part was the -J mini-theme.

The Hollies 8:51 AM  

It's better by us.

George Barany 8:53 AM  

Happy Fourth of July to all! Like @Rex, I too know @Sam Ezersky. TOMS River, N.J. was a total gimme, because I remembered their Little League World Series (baseball) championship. Google then tells me that was in 1998! Oy, am I getting old ...

jberg 8:57 AM  

I haven't had a TV for 15 years, but then I didn't know HART, either. But it was all gettable, once I a) realized that your lists could go lower than B, and b) that 'fancies' did not have to be a verb. That last one took me a long time while I got irate about the singer crossing the sprinter. Even with WHIMS, the Y was just based on plausibility -- unlike @Rex, I didn't see the significance of the whale. So, in the end, this puzzle was not MISDID.

Nancy 8:58 AM  

ODE TO A PUZZLE: "How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways." Awful! Rex says "aggressively youthful" and I guess that's it. But really! Certainly even the youngest people care about more than pop musicians. Don't they?

I was so infuriated by this puzzle that I cheated. Not only cheated, but I (gasp!) Googled. The way I was spelling BABAGANOUSH just wasn't working and it's not in my dictionary. So I looked for a Middle Eastern menu in my menu drawer, but couldn't find one. (Analog cheating always seems slightly less cheatsy than digital cheating.) When I finally did Google, I found out that BABAGHANOUJ could be spelled a whole nother way. That enabled me to fill in the NW section, but did nothing for the rest of the puzzle.

Did I Google to find all those musicians? Surely, you jest! I don't WANT to know the names of those musicians. And I don't want to finish this puzzle. So there, puzzle!

Also don't like the clue at 17A, although the answer did come in. I don't think you "build" characters in a SPELLING BEE. You might "identify" them. Or "pronounce" them. Or "remember" them. Or "string them along". But not "build."

I guess I shouldn't be too mad. Thursday and Friday boasted really great puzzles. Even TY whatshisname (19A) doesn't break a world record EVERY day.

jberg 8:59 AM  

Forgot to add that I once had a roommate from TOM'S River -- without that, which confirmed MOT for me, the puzzle might have been much harder.

jberg 9:01 AM  

@Nancy, nice tmesis!

Three and out.

Billy C. 9:14 AM  

@jberg --

Well, I learned a new word today (tmesis). You've certainly got a fan-friggin-tastic vocabulary, Professor. ;-)

Aketi 9:15 AM  

@Grammar nazi, there must be a better way of correcting typos than copy, delete, repost.

@Musacato, I'm in your camp. I was foiled by the J. I also didn't find it to be aggressively too young. HART, TWAS, SARDIS and JEDIMiNDTRICK seem a little old.

Since Ramadan is in the summer this year it dawned on me that it must be harder for those who live in the more northern latitudes because the hours of fasting are longer.

TMI alert for the who have TSK TSKed and or WHINED about a body part that shall not be named, READ NO FURTHER!
The clue for IDIOT BOX, just always makes me laugh. My son's second grade teacher once caught the boys straying from the online research project on birds, to googling the unmentionable body part. The boys wouldn't have won a SPELLING BEE and as a consequence they weren't able to find the images they had attempted to google.

@ Stephen M O' Neill, I like your answer better. In my field the answer would have been DUCTS, no fun at all.

Happy Fourth of July

PS While I love proper British high tea, in light of the AVE MARIA yesterday, Bloody Marys somehow seemed like a more appropriate choice. Glad to have been welcomed by one of the lovely peanuts.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

@Nancy, what a disheartening comment.
Your "I don't know this stuff and I have no interest in learning it" is just another form of willful ignorance. Knowledge of the world is always a good thing, and good solvers are always eager to broaden their repertoire. Your views are the equivalent of a toddler putting their fingers in their ears and yelling "I'm not listening!" Kind of disgraceful.

Carola 9:21 AM  

I had to rely on previous puzzles (MOBY, MIAMI INK) and reach into my "have vaguely heard of" storehouse (TYSON GAY, LOFGREN, NICKI, SAL SODA, KLONDIKE BAR) to finish this one.

What I found I couldn't rely on was my knowledge of Star Wars: having misspelled BABA GHANOUs, I had Obi Wan's skill looking like this: SE_IMIN_TRICK. From doing acrostics, I'm used to writing in a G after -IN, but I wasn't sure the rank of lists of minor celebs went as low as G. Anyway, I finally saw "MIND" and then realized I needed that J.

@jberg - I had a dorm-mate whose boyfriend was was Tom's River. :) Yes, definitely came in handy today.

Billy C 9:21 AM  

@Professor Berg --

Oops, forgot to mention -- Toms River, NJ has no apostrophe in "Toms," though I admit it's an easy mistake to make.

I'm not sure whether this issue falls into Mr. Nazi's bailiwick; if so, I'm happy to beat him to it. ;-)

Carola 9:23 AM  

Ugh, "was from" Tom's River.

Nancy 9:47 AM  

In echo of Aketi -- Yesterday was a day for Bloody Marys, not for high tea, and I enjoyed the libation, the setting, and the company as well. Moreover, the Bloodys were extremely Bloody at the Central Park Boathouse, and that was much appreciated. (Although I couldn't quite understand, as I climbed the hills back to the tennis courts very late in the afternoon, why I felt so dragged out and why I was perspiring so profusely when it wasn't at all hot.)

BTW -- I was warned I was going to hate this puzzle in an earlier email, but unfortunately didn't read the email until after I'd suffered through the puzzle. If I had known in advance, I might have tried to fortify myself with a Bloody Mary before I tackled it.

Guess what, Anon 9:19? I've just given you even more ammunition. Now, in addition to calling me a willfully ignorant pop culture ignoramus, you can call me a dipsomaniac, too. Glad to have made your 4th of July a truly happy one.

Steve M 10:25 AM  

A firecracker for the 4th

mathguy 10:27 AM  

@Whirred Whacks: I'd also like to read your article. I can't remember the specific devilish clues, but one used "flower" to refer to a river and another used "number" to refer to an anesthetic.

@Steve J: I agree with your comment that some clues "tried so hard to be cute they flirted with inaccuracies."

A lot of aha moments but my enjoyment was deadened by not being able to finish. I needed several contributions from The Closer and I looked up INGA. Some of today's posters found it not very difficult. I can remember puzzles that some of these excellent solvers DNF but which I had no trouble with. As the Warriors proved in the NBA playoffs, it's all about match ups.

Happy to learn "tmesis."

Roo Monster 10:31 AM  

Hey All !
I found this to be on the easy side myself, for some reason the answers were coming to me. For which I will call clues clever, not obtuse! However, like @NCA Pres, got stuck in that itty bitty NE corner! MOT a definite WOE, had EXO, but couldn't for the life of me come up with GYM! Figured the MEGA part might be correct, but that GY? was really throwing me off. To get the whole SatPuz and be stuck on a few boxes in a small corner? Torture! Had to break down after a good 15 minutes and hit Check Puzzle, for which everything came up correct! Then started trying letters for MOT, and after finally uncovering the T, the lightbulb came on and remembered TOMS, which gave me GYM and the hardest head slap ever! GYM... if only I'd ran the alphabet for that, I would've figured out TOMS on my own and been very happy! But nooooooo, a DNF on two squares! Do you feel my bitterness? :-)

KLONDIKE BAR also a gimmie for me. Had LonGREN for a while until BARn wasn't making sense for [Yecch!] so took it out and saw the F. Had Rnr for REC, started to put television in for IDIOT BOXES, but wouldn't fit. Had ???ALIstIC for a bit, til the TMI I had taken out ended up being correct, so changed to ???ALITHIC.

Overall, nice puz, nice clues, pissed off on my two square DNF! In case you hadn't heard....

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Don't get in too much trouble today!


Nancy Klein 10:31 AM  


As always, your comments are spot on!

quilter1 10:38 AM  

Love BABAGANOUJ but didn't know how to spell it. I once read a true crime story featuring TOMS River so that came easy, but most of the newer stuff and TV shows did not. But I finished though it was challenging.

Ludyjynn 10:51 AM  

I MISDID some of the NW corner after an otherwise pain-free solve. BTW, MISDID is just butt-ugly, IMO. So is the J at the end of 13A. AMIRIGHT?

I saw "MAMMAMIA" when it played on the West End in London. The show was a hoot, and the RECORDCROWD refused to leave at the end, so the cast did encore after encore, inviting all to join in. Great fun.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Washington Monument (in Baltimore), the first monument built to honor the country's first chief executive. There is a big celebration in historic Mt. Vernon, the surrounding neighborhood. Hopefully, the rain will not put a damper on the party.

Thanks to all for the b-day good wishes yesterday. I had a wonderful day.

Thanks, SE and WS.

Casco Kid 10:56 AM  

Wrongness today:

clemons for LOFGREN Shame on me for that one!
HARas for HARRY.

Which brings up the point: a few days ago we had ENROL when ENROLL or ENTER was clued. The casual dropping of a double letter ending seems to set a nasty precedent. Did anyone else enter HARas based on what I imagine could be called redundant-letter Shortzing?

Z 11:00 AM  

@9:19 - I actually have several areas of willful ignorance: Sex kittens posing as pop stars, wide swaths of classical music, Adam Sandler's oeuvre, any 19th century literature I didn't already suffer through, any movie that thinks gore=drama or entertainment, any Rapper besides Tupac, Eminem, and cross friendlies Dr Dre or Ice-T, anything "Metal" beyond Metallica or Jethro Tull (har), -stans, football players after 2013, Taylor Swift's exes, anyone else's exes, etc, etc, etc. Feel free to make a case how knowing any of these items will make my life fuller and happier. We're all curious. I will then happily defend the lasting social significance of Hogan's Heroes and Gilligan's Island.

Teedmn 11:09 AM  

After spending yesterday on the lake, lots of sun and beer, then going to bed at 2 AM, I was feeling rather dull this morning and my solving experience shows it. The official time after throwing in the towel with a couple of ??s in the NW was 1hour and 35 minutes. This includes going out to get the Strib and reading the comics, which is my usual cure for crossword block. So maybe @Casco Kid's time of 1:15, all told.

Really a classic (and I mean 'old') kind of solve where I was using partials (guessing INK and CROWD and AM I and BOXES) to figure the rest of the answers. But I would say a good portion of my time was caused by palS crossing pic at 1A/1D. And MISDID? @Rex didn't call that one out? [Yecch!] Never heard of SAL SODA, so much for my chem classes. I don't know why I suddenly took out palS and put in BROS. That crossword gestalt we all experience sometimes, I guess. But then it almost all fell into place. It has always been Ganoush for me so that J was a WOE. When I went to do my 2nd solve in AcrossLite, all I was missing was SAL _O_? One use of the Check button on ADMeN vs ADMAN so an official DNF. And to come here and almost everyone except @Nancy found this Wednesday-easy. As my husband always says, "Some say la vie."

@Chefwen, I can totally sympathize with you on the freezer conking out. Husband and I came home from a weeklong trip to find our refrigerator had been making wheezing noises for a reason. Everything in the freezer compartment was thawed and the fridge stank. Not knowing how long it had been out of commission, we threw all the condiments out. In the name of responsible recycling, I aimed to clean out all the jars, bottles, etc. but after a jar of tahini took several gallons of water to clean, I drew the line at sticky gunk and tossed the whole container. Sigh.

Thanks, Sam Ezersky, nice puzzle.

Dansah 11:14 AM  

Hope you're kidding

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@Z nobody said these things were culturally significant or that you should like them. They are saying broadening your breadth of knowledge is, in general, never a bad thing, and in specific, it can be really useful if you want to become a better solver, rather than pouting and taking your ball and going home. If it's more important to you to avoid knowledge of such things than to get better at solving puzzles, then you will continue to be an inferior solver and you probably shouldn't be doing them at all or you will become like REX, who whines about pretty much anything in a puzzle he doesn't know.

mac 11:29 AM  

Crisp Saturday puzzle, which I now discover I had a mistake in. Toby for Moby. Love that Melville factoid, by the way.

Nice aha moments at AMIRIGHT and GLOWINTHEDARK.

Happy 4th to all of you!

John V 11:31 AM  

Nothing here for this older, non TV/pop solver This was a total non starter.

Questinia 11:36 AM  

Job Holder? tItLE
Get within range? tAKE

Ambiguity is *opportunity* to actively create sense, meaning, and form. Clarity renders us passive and obedient, algorithmically ordering our responses.

I got all the long answers easily yet still managed to DRAG on this one. MonoLITHIC and the new field of strictly oxygen-based life forms or OXObiology coupled to the above kept me in a state of ambiguous non-resolution as indicated by no "Congratulations" --- you took the ambiguity and took it with clarity.

Never mind that nYM and RtI aren't things, I suppose. I created nYM to mean a brand of New York-based sports shoe and, well, RtI I just threw into the general void.

This puzzle was on fleek: I really liked it for all the ICKy-INKy-IKey-ITTy-ITHI-'s in it.

The intersection of young and old is open-mindedness. A creatively wondrous place to stay and marvelous for the complexion.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Today I woke up and walked the dog in the park. Then I ate some toast. Multi-grain, with butter. Then I went for a run, showered, and met some friends for lunch. I had pasta salad and a beer. I believe it was an IPA. I was tan in color. It was a gray day here but I think the rain will hold off for the fireworks. I might take a nap this afternoon, or maybe take a little hike in the woods. I plan to gill some burgers and dogs later, perhaps with some melted swiss. I prefer my burgers medium rare. I'll be back later to let everyone know ho w the rest of my day goes.

grammar nazi 11:54 AM  

anon@11:29: "Broadening your breadth?" Maybe "increasing your breadth?"

nick 11:58 AM  

Really liked this one, even though that odd spelling of 'ganoush' tripped me up. And I'd much rather struggle with answers to contemporary pop culture clues than musty and dispiriting junk like the names of Jetsons offspring.

Jlb 12:01 PM  

Didn't know (baba) ganoush could begin with gh and end with j. For some reason this old (nearly 80) person had no trouble with the parts y'all are calling young. I liked the puzzle. But then, I like crossword puzzles. Period.

Lewis 12:06 PM  

@questinia -- "The intersection of young and old is open-mindedness"... perfect!

I like the intersecting CK's at NICKI/ICKY/THICKEN.

Sparkling cluing in this one: SUE, MICRO, BIRDS, SPELLINGBEE, BBS, DLIST, HAT, BIBLE, RBI, SMARTALECK. (@WW -- some fodder here for you.) I mean, when you just look at the finished grid, it's mostly a group of pretty plain words, but the cluing here brought this to life. Sam has had nine puzzles in the NYT and over the past couple of years, I've become a fan.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Well, I probably got three or four squares wrong, but I can't remember a puz with more stuff I have never heard of before that I finally pieced together into a convincing whole. This is not a puzzle for an eighty year old who never watches TV. But.... I done good because I have had sixty years of practice.

Leapfinger 12:16 PM  

Oh well.

I pulled off a good start yesterday with WHITECAPS, and thought I might have a repeat with BLACKOLIVES (love those oil-cured ones!). Had a lengthy HANGup there, as it fit sooo well with BBS, which also let me stray into having [Mates] be BEDS, a bit surprising, but eminently reasonable, in a MOT, pour moi. TMI? Basically, I mewled, bawledand whined in the NW till JEDIMINDsomething showed me the error of my ways: not many edibles end in J, no matter how you spell 'em.

Had a similarly tough time in the NE. Somehow I came to think OXYGENMASK clue would end in -SMELL, all I know is it seemed worth pursuing at the time. Almost as reasonable as sticking with GUM shoes. AM I RIGHT?

Other problems: Remembering CONEY as some small beast that might resemble a badger, and misremembering Minaj as NIKKI, HOLLA as HOLA. BADDY pales compared to the array of BABA Ghannoujim, and the assorted lights of stage and screen way outside my lexicon.

SMARTALECK: a shout-out to Vratsanos?
The idea of MIAMI Mink. Ladies who lunch, you know...
THICKEN, as a sly reminder. Thigh of contentment.
If MOBY is related to Melville, perhaps TYSON GAY is related to Tenzing Nor GAY.

Also liked the BIBLE as [Job holder]. I still have the full set of "J.B." on my RECORD-CROWDed shelf.

A tough solve for me, but I got 'er done. Reprise that thigh of contentment.

"Play MISDID for me"

Lewis 12:24 PM  

Factoid: Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays because the only two accounts of birthday parties in the BIBLE resulted in murder. (The Bible, incidentally, is the most shoplifted book in the world.)

Quotoid: "Dogs have boundless enthusiasm but no sense of shame. I should have a dog as a life coach." -- MOBY

Mike D. 12:31 PM  

@Anon @ 11:52: Is your name really @Nancy? Or @Aketi? Or @ Ludy? All of the above? Hilarious.

Leapfinger 12:32 PM  

Come on over. I have KLONDIKE BARS in the freezer and SAL SODA in the laundry room.(Sometimes I call it SAL cola or SAL pop.)

@Z, I agree that location didn't sound Greek to me. I was in the Indonesian Archipelago.

@Questinia, the intersection of young and old is somewhere between the amygdala and the sacroiliac.
Just want to axe you: do you glow in the dark?

Whirred Whacks 1:00 PM  

@Lewis @Questina @MathGuy @Davis Klaia Thanks for your comments and suggestions regarding ambiguous crossword clues.

@r.alphbunker Many thanks for the link to the mother lode of ambiguous clues. Great stuff.

More specifically, I'm working on a book chapter based on an epigram from Emile Chartier: "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it's the only one you have." I'm providing examples where it's important to look for the "second right answer" in activities such as problem-solving, humor, crime detection, oracle interpretation, etc. Because ambiguous situations force us to go beyond the apparent "first right answer" to figure out what's going on, I thought that ambiguous crossword clues would demonstrate how we have to move from one matrix of thought to a different one in order to get an answer. This is the basis of a lot of creative thinking. Fun stuff!

Again, if any of you can remember a favorite ambiguous clue from the past, I'd love to hear it.

old timer 1:18 PM  

Pop culture == not in my wheelhouse, and I generally watch sports on TV (Tour de France and baseball, both in the early morning here on the West Coast). I googled a lot and *still* thought I would not finish. And technically, I didn't, because I had "sec" and "hast" for REC and HART. Isn't there some measure of work that involves seconds? Oh well.

I've been to New York often enough to know SARDIS, so that went in right away. Had rent "acar" before the ice cream led me to ACOP. The SE *was* easy other than that. Not so the NW -- I had to google for Mr. GAY. He gave me SALSODA, which I have heard of, and made it clear that MISDID belonged where I had the prosaic "missed". And really, MISDID fits the clue better. That's why OFL did not complain about it. Finished by figuring out MEGALITHIC, therefore EXO and MOT. But really, MOT is not a "zinger" to my way of thinking. It is, of course, a common bit of Irish slang for a girl or girlfriend, the kind you would take to the Zoological Garden in Phoenix Park -- if you know that song, you will get my drift. I doubt Mr. Shortz would ever allow MOT to be clued that way.

I really could have gotten NICKY on crosses, but her I googled as well.

Jyqm 1:23 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle but knew that I would enjoy even more the usual complaints from folks who think that pop culture ephemera somehow don't belong in a crossword puzzle (what's more ephemerally pop cultural than a newspaper crossword puzzle itself?). At 32 I suppose I'm relatively young for this blog, but that doesn't mean I knew all of the supposedly "young" answers. No idea who INGA and MONA are, for example. But the nice thing about crossword puzzles is that you don't have to actually know all of the answers; you simply have to be able to deduce them from crosses, and the crosses today were more than fair for a Saturday, whatever your age and cultural wheelhouse.

Is MOBY and INGA crossing TYSONGAY a Natick? I don't think so. You don't need to know who INGA is to figure her out. I suppose Inge is also a possible name, but GAY is a more likely last name that Gey, and anyway Inge would almost surely be clued as the playwright. Nor do you need to know who MOBY is -- the Melville reference in the clue should make the answer clear (just as the clue on MIAMIINK makes the answer easy to infer with a few crosses, even if you've never heard of the show). And maybe you've never heard of TOMS River, but I hope you're familiar with the concept of a bon MOT.

Some folks seem to think that saying "I had to Google" is a knock against the puzzle. It's not. It's a knock against you, or rather an admission that you have room to improve in your crossword solving skills (as do we all!).

r.alphbunker 1:25 PM  

@Whirred Whacks

Emile Chartier would probably have liked this recent New Yorker cartoon

I vividly remember the first time I was tricked by an ambiguous NYT clue. The clue was {Modern art} and the answer was ARE. Checking xwordinfo, reveals that it might have been Randolph Ross's 1996 Friday puzzle. However, the date is about right but I doubt that I was doing Friday puzzles at that time.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Sheila Bell, read Rex's write up a little more carefully. He has clearly heard of Moby Dick, he's just never thought about the connection between the present-day singer and Melville.

In general, all you "I can't believers" should try honestly sharing what you don't know every day. You're aware that academics specialize within their disciplines, right?


Anonymous 1:32 PM  

@Nancy...I'm with you--hated the puzzle. DNF. Heck, the only answer I was able to enter the first time through was "At the Zoo." @Anonymous 11:29--I'm glad to know that my solving experience has been enhanced by leaning the name Inga Cadranel. I will try to drop her name into a conversation today. So, was today's puzzle solve for you?

Whirred Whacks 1:40 PM  

@r.alphbunker Great cartoon.

Here's another one with a similar idea from the New Yorker from late last year:
There can be no peace until they renounce their Rabbit God and accept our Duck God.

Matt 1:45 PM  

At 20 minutes, this was possibly my fastest Saturday ever. A lot of the long answers, such as GLOWINTHEDARK, JEDIMINDTRICK, KLONDIKEBAR, and the consonants of BABAGHANOUJ, were gimmes that provided a good skeleton for the rest of the puzzles.

joho 1:52 PM  

@Questinia, now I just have to work "on fleek" into a grid. Maybe by the time the puzzle runs everybody will know what it means. Or not. Regardless, is it fun to say. I agree with @Lewis, too, nice comment about open-mindedness.

I've been gone all day so very late to comment. All has been said. I will offer that I loved this puzzle. Thank you, Sam, for an entertaining and not too challenging Saturday. Not a romp but not torture, either!

Happy 4th everybody!

r.alphbunker 1:55 PM  

@Whirred Whacks

That is one picture that is worth a million words! DUCK/HARE could be the seed for a Schroedinger puzzle.

Jamie C 1:57 PM  

@Jyqm--very well put, amen, +1, etc.
This was an easy puzzle, and no knowledge "pop culture ephemera" was necessary. The only "obscure" pop answer I had ever heard of was MOBY. All the other clues could have been "insert a name here," but the crosses were fair and sussable, making this one of the easiest Saturdays ever. Rather than get flustered and whine about "obscure" clues, I trust a constructor to help me out. Today he did, in spades.

Carola 2:00 PM  

@Whirred Whacks - I remember the moment during one of my first attempts at solving a Saturday puzzle when I was confronted with the clue "Cover." No tricks involved here, just lots of possibilites, as a verb (protect, coat, extend, traverse, describe, finance, comprise, disguise, understudy) or a noun (lid, coat, blanket, wrapper, front). It was a moment when I realized that Saturday puzzles weren't necessarily difficult because they required arcane knowledge but because seemingly simple clues could be ambiguous and thus some of the hardest.

Nancy 2:08 PM  

Oh, @Whirred, if ONLY I had a memory! There have been so many wonderfully ambiguous clues in the Times puzzle over the years and I remember precisely none of them. But I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I have a lot of Will Shortz/NYT puzzle books and I haven't thrown away the ones I've completed. (That's because, with my lousy memory, I don't want to buy the same book twice.) I'll glance through them and see if any cleverly ambiguous clues jump out at me and then send them to you. Your article about ambiguity sounds novel, instructive and intriguing and I can't wait to read it. Please let us know how/where to find it when it's finished. Also, have you thought about including any of the great Agatha Christie whodunit denouements in the article. (Just asking; they may be entirely wrong for what you're working on.)

FWIW, I tried my hand at creating a cryptic crossword a while back and this is my favorite clue. (Admittedly, it's a wee bit long). But can you figure it out? "Bum tip: It is useless to do the latter to a horse that is the former." (8 letters.)

Elihu Yale 2:15 PM  

Harvard motto: "veritas"
Yale motto: "lux et veritas."

A Harvard student is just an ELI who hasn't seen the light.

Tita 2:21 PM  

Finished!! Yay me!
A real struggle, and maybe a technical dnf, as I revealed wrong letters to see that it was not an N, which gave me the dope-slap moment with MOBY.

Ugh - first hit for SALSODA is, noting how great it is for removing flesh from skulls. That woulda been a better clue, no?
That gave me a hard time - never heard of it - heard of ash soda, or club soda, for cleaning...

I think of a cuisine 'staple' as a discrete thing...olive oil, eggplant, bulgur... Not a finished product. So that took forever too.

@chefwen - sounds like time for an impromptu party to use up everything that thawed!

Thanks, Mr. Ezersky, for a rough-and-tumble Saturday.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

@nancy --

A bum can be a deadbeat, but what does tip have to do with it?

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

@NCA President,

I don't know what the flying flange-lip you think a pun might be, but a healthy proportion of misdirective clues are exactly that by virtue of punishment.

Open your mind; let some light and fresh air in.

And have a wonderful Fourth.

Lewis 2:30 PM  

@jyqm -- well put

Nancy 2:42 PM  

@Whirred -- Found you some! And it took less than 20 minutes. Hope these help:

Half-serious run? (Answer: AEIOU)

It may be found under an umbrella. (Answer: MAI TAI)

Joining-of-hands period. (Answer: NOONTIME)

Have a cow. (Answer: OVEREAT)

Remains on the shoulder? (Answer: ROADKILL)

Mars to mars, say. (Answer: ANNEE)

Exciting drive? (Answer: HOLE-IN-ONE)

Film attacker? (Answer: SQUEEGEE)

Hope these are helpful, @Whirred!

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Never knew you could spell babagenoush with a "j". Otherwise, did not seem too challenging and was able to complete in a reasonable time period.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

@Anon, that's nice, but you certainly can't spell it with an "e."

Masked and Anonymous 2:55 PM  

Crossing ?-clues (@BAKE&BIBLE)! This SatPuz was takin no prisoners. (Got BAKE off just the K. Had much more trouble with BIBLE.) Double-crossin ?-clues almost = double-?? clue. Ezersky is breathing down the neck of runtpuz-like glory.

Learn soooo much, from these young pup constructioneers…
* MOBY. Known only to M&A when Graped or Dicked.
* BABAGHAOUJ. Which, interestingly, happens to be an anagram of AGHA BUN JOB.
* TYSONGAY. I am really behind, on my sprinter groups.
* MIAMIINK. Seems like a ThursPuz LSD flashback dealy.
* NICKI. I was somewhat close, on this. Saw her on SNL once, I think. Defective M&A brain wanted MICKI.
* HOLLA. A holla victory, for the Ezerskymeister.
* Rave accessories. M&A does have several shave accessories. Band-aids, e.g.
* JEDIMINDTRICK. Wanted something with "force" in it. Hey -- doin the moonofEndorwalk could be an old JEDIMIMETRICK… But, I digress. Anyhoo, admired this entry's schlockiness.

* MEGALITHIC OXYGENMASK ATHEZOO. These were solidly in my mask-house. Bless U, Ezerskymeister.

One U, in that there BABA-U-ANAGRAM stapler unit.

"Random Roman Candle Enthusiast"

@WWhacks: I applaud yer search for the perfect headbanger clue. Some personal M&A faves:
* {Member of a pit crew?} = OBOE.
* {Fifth element?} = RYE.
* {Call from a really grown-up black chick?} = CAW.

There are also a wealth of double-?? clues to be reckoned with, in this search. Random sampling…
* {One who's met with order issues??} = EMT.
* {Zone behind E's, C's and M's??} = PST.
* {Old-style tsk tsk??} = YOREBAD.
* {Era of extreme screw-ups??} = MESSAGE.

Leapfinger 3:12 PM  

Please note:

In researching the spelling of BABA and cetera, @Nancy 0858 quite properly consulted a Middle Eastern menu. The usual references assign this BABA dish to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria; a variant, with variant spelling (which we sorely need, right?) is indigenous to Egypt. While these countries might loosely be called Mediterranean, the term 'Mediterranean' encompasses a much larger area, chiefly Southern EUR and North Africa. All this is by way of justifyng black Olives in place of BABA kung foo, I hope I'm not too Eurocentric in overlooking Medjool Dates.

That's my small grouse with the clue. That's all there is; there ain't no MOT.

OISK 3:13 PM  

Ugh. Nancy pretty much summed up my feelings (as usual), but I DID finish this correctly. I knew "Moby" only because it has been in the puzzle fairly recently. Never heard of him otherwise. Never heard of Tyson Gay, but that is my fault, it is certainly fair crossword game. But Miami ink? Lofgren? I know that there was an Estreet band only from crosswords, although I have heard of (but never listened to ) Springsteen. "Mona" from Pretty Little Liars? "Holla'? (which is what this puzzle made me wish to do) D List? Maybe the clue could have said "Very faint stars"? Nicky Minaj? At least there were no product clues.

As to the criticism of Nancy (and by extension me) for not even WISHING to know some of the pop trivia, we all have our own tastes. I liked Friday's puzzle but not this one. I agree with Rex that it was "aggressively youthful." Some folks enjoy that; I have never called a puzzle "Bad" because it was loaded with unfamiliar pop trivia that doesn't interest me. Saw the second part of Wolf Hall on Broadway last night, "The Audience" "The King and I," and "Skylight," last week. "Cinderella" at American Ballet Theatre" tonight. Glad I had heard of the "Jedi", though - had no idea how to spell Babaghanouj!

jae 3:15 PM  

@joho -- BEQ beat you to it a few weeks ago. I was corrected by my 16 yr. old GD when I asked her if she'd ever heard the term. I pronounced it "fleck" as in fleck of dust. Turns out it's flique as in sleek. She says it is used mostly with eye brows?

Evan Jordan 3:20 PM  

Doubtful if this is what they were going for, but Enrol is the name of an entry completion search tool licensed out to different software companies. It's short for "enhanced records lookup". However, if this is what they had in mind it's far too tech-y and obscure for a crossword.

One who actually reads the comments 3:26 PM  

@Billy C,

Without denying Professor Berg a thing, Ms @Loren Muse Smith had a f-f-tastic vocabulary a few days ago.

Arlene 3:51 PM  

I know TOMS River - it's Exit 80 on the Garden State Parkway.
I didn't know lots of other stuff - and did not finish, even with Googling. I guess I'm just the odd person out today, considering the other comments.

Masked and Anonymous 3:52 PM  

Rat fudge. Incorrect BABAGHAOUJ in prev. msg. was, obviously an auto-correction of BABAGHANOUJ.
This in turn really messed up M&A's anagram idea, since auto-correct, of course, also extracted a random letter out of the anagram, just to show who's boss.

How'bout another primo double-?? clue, as a consolation prize…

* {Investigative org. that's partly "not sober"??} = _ _ _ _.

(left to the reader as an exercise)


old timer 4:13 PM  

Nils Lofgren was pretty well known in rock circles even before he joined the E Street Band -- he played a lot with Neil Young back in the day.

HOLLA was pretty guessable. As the great Eddie Cochran used to sing, "I'm gonna raise a fuss, I'm gonna raise a HOLLA. (OK, he did pronounce the "r" in "holler", but isn't it nice to thing of "Summertime Blues", the best summer song ever -- and one covered by pretty much everyone you ever liked, even Blue Cheer, the loudest band I ever heard live).

Melodious Funk 4:34 PM  

For the Fourth:

Bitter irony.

Having said enough 4:35 PM  


BARF: Comment by Dawg who moved two notches up from the DLIST
DLIST: One who believes in light Dexro- and Levorotation.

Not familiar with that DIKEBAR as presented.

Fred Romagnolo 4:41 PM  

@Oisk: KLONDIKE BAR; it was one of the (very) few things I knew. I'm (as usual) with @Nancy on this. We have a Bay Area Congresswoman named LOFGREN. MISDID was terrible. Awful lot of @anons today giving the rest of us the benefit of their advice on how to live our lives; especially us older folks; you know: the ones who aren't afraid to have some form of identity.

wreck 4:57 PM  

I read about the new "immortality" drug that should be ready to test in about 2 years, so the "age" debate may become moot soon! ;-)
I'm 56 - I hope I'm in the "open mind" stage!
This was about 5 minutes faster than my normal Saturday time - so I hope I'm trending younger!
Any Saturday I can finish cleanly must skew to the easier side.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

@Fred: nobody is telling you how to live your life. Just stop whining so damned much and drop the smugness. You are a caricature of yourself.

Moly Shu 5:47 PM  

My man! Glad you finished. I immediately think of you (and by extension, @Nancy) during the solving of this type puzzle. Now, as to the items you mention near the end of your post, Broadway, ballet, the king and I, I have no idea what your talking about. If those items are referenced in a puzzle, mark me down for a big fat DNF.

Mohair Sam 6:08 PM  

Liked this one an awful lot although it skewed a few decades younger than us. The current and pop culture TV stuff we didn't know was mixed nicely with gimmes like KLONDIKEBAR and SALSODA, and not overly difficult longs like IDIOTBOX and SPELLINGBEE (great clue, btw) - leaving it a fillable Saturday for my generation. Lots of fun.

When I first heard of MOBY I wondered aloud why these idiot musicians pick such names. Got to laugh at myself today, my apologies Mr. M.

Surprised so many of y'all didn't have a gimme with TYSONGAY.

Love to cook, but had to fill every single letter of BABAGHANOUJ. Learn something every day that I oughta have known.

Great Saturday San Ezersky - keep 'em coming.

LindaPRmaven 6:18 PM  

Since I'm on Pacific time and like to do my puzzles mostly in the afternoon day of publication I don't know if anyone will actually read this comment, but here goes.

This puzzle was medium-tough for me but did bring smiles. AT THE ZOO and GLOW IN THE DARK got me started. The NE was the tough part - had EcO AND GuM. Loved the clues for SPELLING BEE, BIBLE and MOT. But have you ever heard anyone use the word MISDID? Ugh. MIAMI INK seemed like a theme answer more than a real tv program and made me laugh out loud.

Leapfinger 7:17 PM  

Another voice from behind the curtain, eh? You probably said what you did because you thought it sounded cutting and clever. You're wrong, Shortstop: @FredRom is one of the least cartoonish persons on this roster. He has all his dimensions working.

@LindaPRm, don't worry. There are always late readers, whether you hear from them or not. I used MISDID today for the first time ever, and it wasn't easy.

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

Good crowd-sourcing, @WhirredW. Like Barkus, this group is willing.


Music man 7:21 PM  

Anyone else surprised at the lack of MOBY knowledge? Who doesn't know MOBY? Don't much care for his music, but he was a pretty big time name at one point.

Herman Melville 7:48 PM  

MOBY without Dick is like a whaler without a mast.

Nancy 7:53 PM  

@Leapfinger -- Amen, amen to your much-deserved praise of Fred R, who is surely one of the most real and delightful people on this blog. Fred wouldn't know smug if he tripped and fell into it. Who are these Anonymous gutless wonders, anyway? I love, love, love Fred's embrace of the people here who "aren't afraid to have an identity" and I love your "voice from behind the curtain" line. The Anons are all so pleased with themselves and they are all so loathsome and universally reviled. My question: If you can make friends on this blog (or anywhere else), why on earth would you choose to make enemies? (Now, watch, Anon 5:07 will be coming after me in just a NY minute.) But we all have to stick together against this scourge of nastiness, right?

AliasZ 8:37 PM  

@ Leapy, Nancy, FredR, et al:

The only time anonymice ever return and get even more personal and offensive is when one of us engages them. Like real mice and cockroaches, if you leave food out, they will return, become more brazen and harder to get rid of.

Best policy: do not leave food on the table. This is often hard to do, but if you ignore them they will go away.

Mohair Sam 9:05 PM  

@Nancy - Ya know - 5:05 was way too nasty, and you and @Fred are two of my favorite reads on this site - but the older crowd was just too sour on this one.

Sure, modern TV references are tough given the plethora of choices these days, but it is a Saturday after all - and rapper free. How can we complain about a modern day track star? Or TOMS River (home of Al Leiter and location of McGinniss' "Blind Faith", btw)? And there were lots of near gimme long answers in this one, along with Simon and Garfunkle, and Nils LOFGREN (he's in his '60's and widely known for years and wildly talented).

We're gonna get one that skews young now and then, no problem. This one did, it was tough, it was Saturday, and it was fair imo.

And yeah, I'm probably older than you and I enjoyed it.

Michael 9:56 PM  

My first entry was Toms. I knew that going to high school in New Jersey would pay off some day...

I thought I had the whole puzzle right, but was wondering about "glow en the dark." I thought this was some sort of rave terminology I wasn't familiar with. But it never occurred to me that "missed" was wrong, not having any idea about the stain-removing compound.

I'm way out the age range for this puzzle but it didn't really matter. The crosses were gettable. Liked the puzzle.

Hartley70 10:06 PM  

@Yalie, thanks for the en"light"enment. Head smack. I'll have a burger at Louie's Lunch in your honor!

Anonymous 11:06 PM  

I'm sorry, but MISDID is not a word...

Anonymous 12:35 AM  

Famous one that comes to mind is " Army threats?"

Anonymous 1:02 AM  

33 years in restaurant biz, dry refers to toast(no butter) Martinis(no vermouth these days) or white wine(not sweet). Toppings are add-ons, ergo i wouldnt order a cheese pizza and then explain to the kitchen that I want it "dry." They make a cheese pizza and if i wanted pepperoni, onions gummi bears etc ,then i would tell them that. But in a busy environment redundancy is not welcome nor tolerated. Anything needing to be "dry might be ordered as " no sauce," but no self respecting chef would let anything leave their kitchen "dry" unless it was an aged steak or their Mother-in-Law.

Burma Shave 11:14 AM  

Dear BROS, IPASS this along in hopes that some SMARTALECK will find it more interesting than watching a SPELLINGBEE ATTHEZOO.


They drew a RECORDCROWD down at the KLONDIKEBAR,
was MOR than BADDY nuff to make Mike TYSONGAY.


The first contestant to BARF in his/her OXYGENMASK loses. Swear on the BIBLE. AMIRIGHT or AMIRIGHT?

rondo 11:33 AM  

This was a bit more than med-chal I’d say. Yet I only had three write-over squares with MISseD and NIkKI. Don’t like that MISDID much, nor NICKI for that matter.

Within today’s group of musicians there’s only one with any real talent, IMHO. And he worked for The Boss. Gimme.

Doesn’t RECORDCROWD seem a bit green-paintish?

INGA Cadranel, an obscure yeah baby. There must be a better clue for INGA. Unless we’re striving for too much hip, now, and wow. NICKI, definitely not my type.

OTOH, MONA Robinson as played by Katherine Helmond; I always wanted her to cougar me, before it was called that.

I’m sure many WHINED at this puz, but I finally finished with BABAGHANOUJ, mostly on crosses. Still had to look back to check the SPELLING.

John W in Minnesota 1:54 PM  

Out here in syndication land, so I don't think she'll ever see this, but I just had to respond to @Nancy. I find your comments both unsupportable and objectionably judgmental and elitist. For the unsupportable argument, see @Jyqm's 1:23 comment. It is spot on-- nuff said. For objectionable, everybody has different areas of interest and knowledge. I accept that you know much that I do not and would not be so presumptuous as to judge the worthiness of your interests. But when you make statements such as "I don't WANT to know the names of those musicians" and "Certainly even the youngest people care about more than pop musicians. Don't they?" you strongly imply that you are the arbiter of what is "worthy" and that you are superior to those who possess knowledge outside of those areas. You also seem to be saying that familiarity with pop musicians precludes knowledge of other topics (which just doesn't even make sense). I don't think people are objecting to your dislike of the puzzle so much as your obvious contempt for those whose interests do not coincide for your own. Surely someone as erudite as yourself can find better ways to define yourself than by diminishing others.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

For me this was more than Med/Challenging. I'll take age as an excuse. Babababawhatever was new to me so that was a look-up. Thank goodness I had the Baba for a start. Finished with Jediminitrick so definitely a DNF. Have a whole pack of Klondike bars in the freezer so that was a gimme. Didn't know Tyson was gay so that's interesting. Heehee.

All in all I rate this one DH for Dam Hard, even though I got most of it, with a little peek at Wiki here and there. Yes, I'm a cheater and I rationalize by knowing the constructors have to lookup things also. No one has all this obscure info at the tips of their tongues.........except maybe Sheldon Cooper. So there, put that in your bong and take a long drag.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where all the street signs are in seven languages so as to be politically correct).

leftcoastTAM 7:35 PM  

Is there really a Hollywood D LIST of "faint stars"? I've always thought the b LIST was faint enough.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP