Citrus fruit from Japan / FRI 10-9-15 / Old English letter / Former NBA coach Kruger / Candy bar with crown logo / Former cave dweller informally / Subject of XXL magazine / Risk territory west of Siberia / Automaker that originally sold sewing machines

Friday, October 9, 2015

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SAR (35A: Patriotic org. founded in 1889) —
The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Inc. is a Federally Chartered Corporation located in Louisville, Kentucky. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation that describes its purpose as "maintaining and extending the institutions of American freedom, an appreciation for true patriotism, a respect for our national symbols, the value of American citizenship, and the unifying force of e pluribus unum that has created, from the people of many nations, one nation and one people." Sons of the American Revolution is a patriotic organization. Its members are male descendants of people who served in the Revolutionary War, or who contributed to establishing the independence of the United States. The society is dedicated to perpetuating American ideals and traditions, and to protecting the Constitution. Constitution Day, Flag Day, and Bill of Rights Day were established through its efforts. The society was founded on April 30, 1889. Its official name is the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. It has members in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico,. Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Its national headquarters are in Louisville, Kentucky. // The organization should not be confused with the Sons of the Revolution (SR), a separate organization founded on February 22, 1876 by businessman John Austin Stevens and members of The Society of the Cincinnati. SAR Founder William Osborn McDowell disagreed with the Sons of the Revolution requirement at that time that all societies were to be subordinate to the New York society. (wikipedia)
• • •

I haven't disliked a Steinberg puzzle in a long time, but this one made me wince a lot more than it made me smile. First, it feels like a major step backwards in fill quality. Grid seemed both dullish (with a few notable exceptions in the longer answers) and shaky. When 1-A was RATA, I thought "???" and then when I hit EDH before I even got out of the NW, I knew something was just off. OOHLALA is tired as longer fill goes—especially in a non-themed puzzle, where you have so much latitude. Nothing is locking you in. There's no theme to restrict you, so you can keep at it til you have a super-smooth, super-interesting grid. But here, today, many concessions were made. Too many. There's nothing particularly horrific going on; it's just ho-hum.

I've never heard of SATSUMA—total unknown, making that answer seems like a very strong outlier, familiarity-wise. Not surprisingly, the area around that answer provided the only real difficulty of the day. Specifically, I could not make any sense of 43A: Spray source. This is partly because I wasn't certain of the "U" from SATSUMA, and partly because I had DINGS for 44D: Sharp knocks (ZINGS). No one says "ZINGS." ZINGERS, maybe? I would've clued ZINGS as a verb—certainly makes more sense that way. But no matter; once I took out the "D" in DINGS, the "Z" eventually became clear. [Spray source] is accurate enough as a clue for UZI, but something about instruments of mass killing makes me find jokey clues not so welcome. I guess [Spray source] isn't really a joke ... but it's got that misdirection/wordplay thing going on ... and I'm in no mood for violence dressed up as "clever."

 [Huh. Reallllly looks like an orange. Or maybe a clementine]

See also (much moreso) the outright jokey clue on OSAMA (29D: Former cave dweller, informally); to me, OSAMA is where this puzzle pretty much comes apart. There's a major construction fail there. Clearly that answer should be OBAMA (BAR > SAR by a country mile), but BAR is already in the puzzle at GENIUS BAR, and so we get ... SAR (the worst answer in the puzzle, esp. as clued) (yes, worse than EDH). When that happens—when you opt for terrorist + stupid abbr. over president + actual word simply because of a dupe (in this case, BAR), then the only reasonable thing to do is tear down your SW corner and start again. The combination of crappy fill, terrorist fill, and jokey clue on terrorist fill, makes that little section an out-and-out disaster. I don't understand how that corner wasn't torn out and rebuilt. It's fine if you don't share all my objections there, but OSAMA/SAR is indisputably, objectively worse than OBAMA/BAR, and on the basis of that alone, the grid should not have been allowed to stand as is. It calls attention to its own substandardness in a pretty loud voice.

Here's what my path through the grid looked like. Easy enough opening in the NW:

From there, I hopped right over to the N and just ran the Downs, getting most of them—more than enough to fill in the long Acrosses with no trouble at all.

As you can see, I used that POEM cross-reference clue to go down and pick up an easy IDYLL. But I didn't build off it. Instead, I went back up top and just worked my way down. Here you can see how I went with SATSUMI at first, making it hard to see the TOPLESS DANCERS:

After that, the only thing that awaited me was the ugly OSAMA / SAR cross. That "S" was the very last letter I put in the grid. Not a great way to wrap it up.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

Mostly easy except for the @Rex UZI/ZINGS/SATSUMA crosses.  SATSUMA was a WOE and D, P, T, R were all within the realm of possibility for heading up INGS. So, what Rex said.

LYIN Eyes is a close second to Hotel California for best Eagles song.  And, if you haven't seen the IFC series "Documentary Now" Eagles parody, it's worth a look.  Actually, the whole series is excellent. 

I liked this much more than Rex did.  I knew SAR (family history) and if EDH and SAR are your main problems, that's pretty light on the dreck. 

I found this fun, edgy,  with ample ZING. Liked it.  Nice one David!

wreck 12:09 AM  

I thought Rex would be in a better mood since the Astros won! OSAMA/SAR was my last stiicking point as well, but I found this pretty quick and fun. Oh well!

Steve J 12:10 AM  

i wasn't thrilled with this one, either. Very clunky, in the various spots Rex noted. And there wasn't much strong fill to balance things out. LABOR POOL was nice, and PLAYBOY MANSION and its clue were good, but beyond that Inge fell flat (even with TOPLESS DANCERS trying to liven up the joint).

Also way too easy for a Friday. The upside of that was that I didn't have to spend too much time with this one.

George Barany 12:27 AM  

Two days ago, we had RABBIT_HOLE, yesterday RABBIT_FOOD, and today, the PLAYBOY_MANSION ("bunny habitat") with its presumed bevy of TOPLESS_DANCERS. I ran into the same SATSUMA/UZI/ZINGS problems described by @Rex. In fairness to @David Steinberg, he wrote this puzzle as a high school junior, when he was still polishing his skills at crossword construction.

There's one other thing that feels a bit off: GUS Grissom was one of the original Mercury astronauts, and responsible [as brilliantly recounted in "The Right Stuff"--both the Tom Wolfe book and the Philip Kaufman film] for introducing the phrase "screwed the pooch" into the American lexicon. Then, along with Gemini veteran Ed White and NASA rookie Roger Chaffee, Grissom died in a horrific fire 10 days before Apollo 1 was set to launch in early 1967. This tragedy was a low point in the space program ... the clue "Grissom aboard Apollo 1" (italics added by me) creates the impression that this was just another flight in the series. Please correct me if I am being over-sensitive.

jp flanigan 12:36 AM  

Enjoyed it. Nothing gave me trouble until I had two boxes left. Sat there staring at what ended up being UZ-i for an extra 2 full minutes. Just couldn't see it. I have never heard of SATSUMA so that U could have been any vowel. Otherwise would have come close to my fastest Friday solve.

woolf 12:46 AM  

Welcome to the NYT Friday After Dark, featuring PLAYBOYMANSION, TOPLESSDANCERS, ASTI, AIRHOCKEY, um, an UZI, METHLABS, OSAMA... boy, that escalated quickly. Never mind! It's edgy! It's contemporary (comparatively)! It's OOHLALA! It's not yesterday!

Once I found traction in the south, I finished fast (phrasing? Are we still doing phrasing?), though I forgot a crucial bit of crosswordese when I went ETH and meant EDH. The OSAMA/SAR business is clumsy, but given all the good stuff here (and the general lack of abject garbage), I'm happy with it.

SATSUMA was a given for me, having a.) lived in Japan (where this was one of three affordable fruits) and b.) grown up in south Alabama (where there is a town called Satsuma; you're not missing much).

chefwen 12:54 AM  

I confidently entered DAR for 35A making my cave dweller an OdAMA. BZZZT! Try again.

PLAYBOY MANSION went in right away which made the top half very easy.

Never been to a TOPLESS bar, but I've never associated pole DANCERS as necessarily being topless. I'm pretty sure you can be a pole dancer without getting all naked. Time for @Evil Doug to chime in, where is he by the way?

Never heard of SATSUMA oranges. According to my Food Lover's Companion most of the canned manderin oranges on the market are satsumas.

One of the easier Steinberg puzzles, I'll take it.

John Child 12:57 AM  

Awful clue for UZI. I would have had a clean and fairly easy solution but for the DNF at SATSUMA / UZI / ZINGS. The U isn’t inferable, and P or D work better for _INGS. (I was thinking engine knocks.) A better clue for UZI would have made that all OK, or it could have been UPI (United Press International).

I hate to see terrorists / murders / despots in a puzzle.

Dr. Google says that TOPLESS DANCERS has appeared 174 times in the NYT, starting in 1967.

TokyoRacer 1:32 AM  

I live in Japan and my wife is Japanese. No one in Japan calls a "mikan" (tangerine) a satsuma. Satsuma is the old word for one of the prefectures, where they do grow mikan, but no one refers to satsuma mikan. The common word using satsuma is the small potato, called a satsuma imo, so common that it is pronounced as one word: satsumaimo. I told my wife the answer to the clue for Japanese citrus fruit was satsuma and she said, "What?!".

Anonymous 2:11 AM  

About a year or so ago there was much discussion about women constructors, particularly of themelesses, and the lack thereof. Anna Schectman wrote an article suggesting that perhaps the editorial "male gaze" (a phrase Shortz rejected from one of her puzzles) has an influence there. Shortz claimed that that had nothing to do with it, but my god, I feel the male gaze all over this puzzle with PLAYBOY MANSION and TOPLESS DANCERS as the two marquee answers.

I don't know whose breakfast test this is passing, but I generally like a little less female objectification with my morning cereal.

Chavenet 4:29 AM  

The NYT puzzle generally ignores Portuguese as a go-to language, sticking to Spanish, French & German. In this case that's a good thing because there are 2 rude Portuguese words here: RATA (which means "pussy") and broche (the clue for 38 acr.), which means "blowjob".

Anonymous 5:09 AM  

I find this write-up very interesting for what it says about crossword criticism, the receptions of crosswords, and the potential limitations / possible future of the form and its critics.

Rex dings Steinberg's puzzle for having "jokey" clues about terrorism and violence. Fair enough. Me, I really liked the OSAMA clue -- I'd nominate it for clue of the year. On the other had, I loathed the UZI one, and the connotations / associations of UZI as a tool of mass killing had something to do with it. There's room for difference of opinion on these things. Not everybody likes every shade of black humor, people have different ideological views regarding / comfort levels with jokes / "lightness" about things like murder, war, genocide, etc. More fundamentally, people just have different senses of humor, really. Some people are offended by "The Producers." Some find it grating and not funny.

But you won't find any critic approaching the Producers, or any other film (or novel, or play, etc.), with a fixed aesthetic principle that joking about serious stuff automatically equals bad. The review here seems premised on that proposition, and the notion that it is part of a larger body of "standards" shared by, and enforced by consumers of crosswords: the latest iteration of Shortz's disclaimed breakfast test, essentially.

Paul Rippey 6:22 AM  

I tried DINGS, TINGS and BINGS before finding ZINGS, which gave me UZI and with it a tremor of distaste at the image of one SPRAYing bullets. Is that necessary? Overall enjoyable and easy enough for me, who often DNFs Friday. It gives me hope for keeping my streak alive through the Saturday test of fire.

Loren Muse Smith 6:48 AM  

I can’t believe I never considered OSAMA. I also had "upi" for the spray deliverer. On Fridays and Saturdays, there's still usually something I didn't know, so I figured "spray" might be some kind of news media thing.

@chefwen – me, too, for "dar." Hmm. Wonder if the Sons of the American Revolution all wear red sweaters to their chapter’s Christmas party, too. I tell you what – I realize everyone wears a red sweater to their office/club/organization Christmas party, but the three (semi-feuding) DAR chapters near Charleston, WV take the Red Christmas Sweater Look to a new level. Here’s a piece of advice from someone who has overseen 300+ Christmas luncheons and dinners in a country club – wanna stand out in the group shots? Wear an ECRU sweater.

I didn't know SATSUMA, either, and shame on me I guess. Lived in Ise for a whole summer. Wonder if you can get a SATSUMA-ADE from one of the gajillion vending machines. Oh yeah – there it is, right next to the Pocari Sweat. (Wouldn’t you think someone at this company would have first run the name idea by his cousin who lives in Akron? Is this the same guy who then moved to China and was behind ordering professional signs that say “Please Close Door Omnivorously”?)

If you've never eaten a SKOR BAR, run buy one today; it's a game-changer if you're a sweet-tooth person. The Heath bar will just be a faint smudge in your rear-view mirror.

I can't be the only one with "fled" before BLED, right?

Took me a bit to see HIP HOP with that center PH there. I kept trying letters haphazardly until I finally head-slapped – "Oh! The PH is not an "f." Dopey me.

I’m with @jae. Well, except I’ll vote for “Peaceful, Easy Feeling.”

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

Liked it overall--the long answers alone made this quite genius!

The Rhino 7:55 AM  

Like many others, I got hung up on SATSUMI/UZI/ZINGS crossing. I would have had a rare cheatless Friday, but had to google to get that U.

Otherwise, I enjoyed this one a lot. I like Fridays that are on the easier side and the answers felt fairly fresh and of the 21st century.


joho 8:00 AM  

Is David Steinberg now in CAHOOTS with TOPLESSDANCERS at the PLAYBOY MANSION? Yikes!

My last letters in were the UZ in UZI. "ZING, ZING, ZING went my heart strings ... " Am I remembering those lyrics right?

Sometimes I wish Will would run puzzles in chronological order so that we can really get a feel for how a constructor is growing. This one seems like a peek into David's past.

I still enjoyed the solve because it was easy with just a little bit of resistance at UZI which I happily got right.

Cute clue for ARGYLES.

Karen Bruce 8:00 AM  

This puzzle apparently annoyed me enough to make me comment for the first time. So, hi. I started doing the NYT crossword a month ago, and am now up to 3-4 a day.

I'm an Anglo-Saxonist by training and profession. I saw the clue on an Old English letter, saw it was three letters, and assumed it was a gimme. I confidently wrote in "eth," which is what that letter was called in every class I took and every article I've read. But, no, it was a variant spelling that I have never seen used by any Anglo-Saxonist.

Once I figured out my mistake, I was just grumpy, and the rest of the puzzle hit a sour note for me. Between the topless dancers, the Playboy mansion, the icky cutesy clues for Osama and Uzi, it just seemed 2edgy4me.

Thankfully, I saved the Fireball as a palate cleanser!

Mike D 8:23 AM  

Rex's ignorance of reasonably common items never ceases to amaze me. Never heart of SATSUMA? Really?! Mind boggling. I guess we know who the real cave-dweller is.

AliasZ 8:26 AM  

David, get your mind out of the gutter. METH LAB and TOPLESS DANCERS doing HIPHOP at the PLAYBOY MENTION?

Nothing in this puzzle is endearing, TRATTORIA and HELLION being exceptions. The first two down answers are proper names, as is the last across, then we have LON, SELA and ESTÉE (not from ASTI), not to mention OSAMA, GUS Grissom, EDNA, AHAB, EDH Sullivan and SAR. It is perfectly fine to call Will and ask him to not use a puzzle submitted in your salad days when you wanted to be oh-so edgy and "today." "Today" becomes "yesterday" all too soon. It's better to stay classic.

Because of so many proper names clued so that they are not gimmes, they had to be easily inferrable from crossings, which makes the whole puzzle too easy, not to mention boring.

GENIUS BAR was "geek squad" at first, which coincidentally shared the G, E and A in the right slots. Never heard of SATSUMA, SKOR, or most of the people used in the clues for the proper names infesting the grid.

LYONS: "The correct spelling in French is Lyon but the spelling LYONS is sometimes specified in English, particularly in newspaper style guides." -- Wikipedia. Oh, those LYIN' LYONS!

An odd, unpleasant affair for me. Here's hoping for a better Saturday.

Kim Scudera 8:27 AM  

I'm a great admirer of David, so I can only hope that the clue for UZI is either a) not his, or b) the product of his high-school-junior self. The Z was my last entry in the grid -- I wheeled around it for a crossword eternity, not wanting to accept the outcome, especially given the news from Arizona this morning. Too d#%* many guns out there -- even a crossword staple like UZI doesn't meet the breakfast test for me today. And this is in a pUz with TOPLESS DANCERS and the PLAYBOYMANSION!

chefbea 8:42 AM  

Pretty easy for a Friday for me. Knew genius bar and playboy mansion right away. Loved the clue for topless dancers. I thought the answer was going to have something to do with santa and the elves..or voting

nyestreet 8:45 AM  

In the 70's when I was a stoner we'd say ZING!! when someone in our presence got playfully insulted.

Mike 8:49 AM  

Breezed thru, surprisingly. SATSUMA/UZI/ZINGS was where I finished, but I have heard of all three, so it wasn't a struggle.

Z 9:08 AM  


Agree on OBAMA/BAR>OSAMA/SAR by about an order of magnitude or three. Toss in LON via Coach Kruger and OPEL via sewing machine salesman (I'm guessing the 3rd paragraph of his wiki bio - Nope, the 4th sentence) and I'm feeling a little grumbly.

On the plus side, hey things that indicate that we've made it to the 21st century, BITCOIN, ADELE, METH LABS. Not sure how long this was in the pipeline, but we've seen better from DS.

optionsgeek 9:09 AM  

No theme? Sounds like Mr. Steinberg likes to party with INTIMATE TOPLESS DANCERS and assorted HELLIONs in the basement METHLABS at the PLAYBOY MANSION. Themeless, indeed!

Loren Muse Smith 9:20 AM  

Hey, @Mike D - greetings from the cave.

Sheik Yerbouti 9:24 AM  

6:30 for me. Fastest Friday in a long time. EDH and SAR are pretty bad, but I liked a lot of the puzzle.

The Friendly Ghost of the State Theatre 9:26 AM  

Between playboymansion and toplessdancer I definitely had UTI as my spray source and a question mark until I came here to check

Lewis 9:28 AM  

@karenbruce -- Very nice post, and welcome!
@rex -- Good points, especially when you talked about OSAMA/SAR vs. OBAMA/BAR.

So today we have sex, drugs, and hip hop, with some violence thrown in. A good reflection of David's high school junior HELLION mind, I suppose. The NE filled in so quickly, I thought David was just mailing this one in, but the South and East had me solving in fits and spurts. GENIUS BAR would be a good name for a chocolate treat, no? I did like the answer CAHOOTS, and the excellent clues for ONRED and IMITATE. Not happy with the graphic clue for UZI, I'd prefer for that to be saved for the news side of the newspaper. This puzzle gave me the tussle I like, it had spark, felt anything but bland from this talented constructor.

Jamie C 9:30 AM  

I lived in Seattle for a while, and it was a big deal when the SATSUMAs showed up at Pike's Place and other produce markets around Thanksgiving. A true harbinger of the holidays, they are a succulent and delicious fruit. You could buy them by the box or the bag, and I'd eat a minimum of 5 a day as long as they were available. For those of you (it seems like most here) who have never met them, thank Joel for the introduction, and I'd advise you to find some to sample in the coming months.

quilter1 9:31 AM  

Dropped SATSUMA right in after my first sweep of the clues. The info about the fruit in Japan was interesting and made me wonder if this renaming was a marketing move, like calling rapeseed oil canola oil. Shared distaste for OSAMA and UZI, but enjoyed the long answers.

APHC 9:47 AM  

from A Prairie Home Companion®

Q: What's green and tastes like red paint?
A: Green paint.

From David Hubbard, Baker, West Virginia

(Pretty Good Joke of the Day, for 10/9/15, from A Prairie Home Companion.)

NCA President 9:48 AM  

The puzzle was okay. Typical DS.

I agree that there are some interesting choices by WS or DS as answers in today's puzzle. I object to UZI spray on different grounds. To me, UZI is tired as AOL, ASTI, AHAB, ALA, and URAL...and so cluing it cleverly is just a ruse. UZI's do indeed "spray" the clue is technically accurate. It doesn't have to spray bullets *at* people (though that is what it was invented to do), but as machine gun, it sprays. Still,

I usually think of LASERPointers...not pens. I usually think of dINGS, not zINGS. And contrary to what @Mike D might think, SATSUMA oranges are not, at least in my world (any more than Rex's), commonly known.

Could someone explain ONRED to me, please?

jberg 9:49 AM  

First, a big welcome to @Karen Bruce -- hope to hear from you again!

Like @Loren, I had fLED before BLED, and never saw OSAMA -- I was wavering between Daughters of the American Revolution (last Saturday I was at the national gallery and saw a photo of Marian Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial after the DAR had banned her from their Constitution Hall) and the Grand Army of the Republic. I guess the revolution had Sons as well, and if I hadn't left Louisville when I was two, I might know about them -- but as it was, DNF for me.

I'm with @Rex, and many others, on the spraying UZIs. Too much of that around here.

I'm not sure I'd call an ONION ROLL "piquant," but it made me like the puzzle!

Laurence Katz 9:52 AM  

My easiest Friday ever. Also easiest Steinberg ever. So I forgive osama/sar, et al. But no problem with "uzi." Hard to fathom such delicate sensibilities among Rex and other complainers.

Maruchka 9:55 AM  

Pretty smooth, except that DAR yielded 'Odama'(?) and Ooolala 'Edo' (where one can find lovely SATSUMAs, I presume). Should have known better. Very excellent clueing, especially knowing (thanks, @GeorgeB) that DS constructed it in high school.

Big LOL for 23D. Hah! Learned to drive in rights allowed ON RED California. Moved to NYC, where there's no such thing.

RE: UZI, GUS and OSAMA - Yes, these words can sadden, anger and hurt. But I've never seen clueing here that's unduly sensational. I'm affected, but not offended.

Roo Monster 9:59 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with the off-kilter-ness of this puz. Finished, but had two blank spaces, guess where? Yep, UZ of UZI. Also had (the correct?) EtH. Otherwise, this was surprisingly easy for a Friday DS. Am thinking the NYTXW is getting risque of late with so many, uh, risque answers.

My most recently rejected Themeless had STREAKIER and RED START as answers that Will said (through Joel) weren't lively enough answers to the quality of Themeless's they've been getting. Also had APPLECORE at 1A (clue: iPad innards?) and DEADHEADS as the last Across. Some nice downs as well, of course that's my opinion! :-)

Wanted billiards before AIRHOCKEY (enjoy either one), wanted bono for RATA, sPc->CPL. Had a heckuva time in the NW corner, my bono (:-P ) holding me up, didn't know RALPH, finally sussing out HELLION, and then finally seeing ARGYLES (great clue on that, even give props to Will if that was his.)

Me and some friends used to wear ARGYLE socks in HS all the time! Along with our Chuck Taylors, we thought we were neat and unusual! But, we were just a bunch of nerds!
I have since renerdified by going back to my Chucks! I explain to people it's my mid-life crisis! Hey, cheaper than a sports car.

Odd block pattern for a themeless. Could've taken put the blocks after ASTI/before ERGO, opened it up a bit. Just sayin.


Nancy 10:11 AM  

Naticked at SATS-MI/ -INGS. (I had SATSaMI/dINGS, giving me ADI, instead of UZI). Had no idea what ADI was, but I never thought of UZI. Was less than thrilled when I came here and found out. Like Rex, I think ZINGS is ridiculous. I was torn between DINGS and PINGS.

With that one exception, I liked this puzzle for the challenge. PLAYBOY MANSION, which I saw right away, then checked a few crosses before writing down, let me into the east side of the puzzle. Never heard of AIR HOCKEY (WTF?), but it came in from the crosses. (I had wanted Billiards, but nothing fit.) Someone will tell me, please, what ODAMA is at 29D? (Or is that wrong, too; I forgot to look.)

Liked the clues for METH LABS and ARGYLES. A nice puzzle, with one real problem section, at least for me.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:11 AM  

Medium for me - felt super-easy on top, got more difficult toward the bottom.

Thank you, @George Barany et al, for pointing out that this was an early construction by David Steinberg. Of course, this puts greater weight on the editor for keeping/using the more distasteful clues/answers.

Robso 10:13 AM  

Had "DAR" for "SAR" because I didn't know there was a "SAR." This left me with "ODAMA," which I didn't even realize because how could "DAR" be wrong?
PLAYBOY MANSION? TOPLESS DANCERS? It's Friday, David Steinberg! Go out tonight and get some, you rascal!

GeezerJackYale48 10:14 AM  

AliasZ, you got it right: too much unpleasant stuff. Didn't like the same entries as you, plus was less than thrilled with the "Ural" clue, "obgyn" being obvious but not clued as an abbrev, "D/Sar", "Uzi", and "busier". No fun at all. Usually finishing a Friday makes me smile; today I just grimaced.

GILL I. 10:28 AM  

Hand up for DAR. My grandmother was a proud member....@Loren, the Go Red for women is in support for awareness of heart disease. We have a lot of pink awareness for breast cancer....
I like DS now but his earlier puzzles leave me in the HUH! arena. This felt slightly BOYish. Nothing wrong with that, it's just that the answers were predictable for moi.
I love candy and especially chocolate but never heard of SKOR. My source for a spray is UDI (Uncontrollable drip inhibitor)and SATSUMA looks so incredibly made up....So, Boo!
What do OSAMA and Fred Flinstone have in common?
They both look out of their caves and see Rubble.....

Billy C. 10:30 AM  

@NCA Prez --

Unless there's a "No Right on Red" sign, it's legal in most places to make a right turn (after first stopping) at a red traffic light.

Pete 10:32 AM  

It could have been worse, the oxymoronic gentleman's club could have been a third 14, completing the 1950's male chauvinism trifecta.

I was working outside yesterday afternoon while my neighbor's teenage son had some friends over without parental supervision. I got to listen to them have a paintball game, gleefully spraying rapid fire at one another, yelling Die! Die!. When they ran out of paint balls, they started discussing which girls had the best/biggest boobies in their class. I despaired then, I despair now.

Arlene 10:49 AM  

I always get a sense about the puzzle constructor's mindset by the words in the puzzle - and PLAYBOY MANSION, TOPLESS DANCERS, GENIUS BAR, AIR HOCKEY, and METH LABS all tell me we're looking at a teenage male. No harm in that - it just shows that puzzles do reflect the lives and thoughts of the constructors.
I did know the term SATSUMA, but as a type of Japanese pottery - it's really quite lovely.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Felt off to me too, especially on a complete Friday gimme, the name is just tossed in there as if he were a guinea pig being launched into space. Fine puzzle. Horrific, ez, Friday puzzle.

Z 11:09 AM  

@Laurence Katz - "delicate sensibilities?" Not so much. The issue isn't with UZI, it is with the "cutsey" cluing that implies mass shootings. I have a very dark sense of humor but this clue is insensitive and Tone Deaf. With idiots like these in the world it's hard to find any humor here.

@Anon2:11 - I don't have a problem with the "male gaze" per se. It is the dearth of any countervailing perspective that is an issue. I just went back over the past month. Ms. Burnikel had two puzzles. Every other puzzle was constructed by a male. If the comments here are representative of solvers in general there is no real difference between xword solvers and the population as a whole. So why are there so few puzzles constructed by women being published?

@LMS - I'm in the same cave with you. Can't find OSAMA anywhere, though.

Mohair Sam 11:10 AM  

@LMS - Mrs. M and I join you and @Rex in the SATSUMA cave, but we're curious as to what Rex thought DiNCERS worked at?

First Steinberg we haven't enjoyed in quite a while, David's a favorite in this house. Learned here that he put it together when he was sixteen, and we're not surprised. Lighthearted UZI and OSAMA clues just don't do it for me - Will Shortz is the grown up in the room, he could have made the obvious "b" change as noted by Rex.

Leapfinger 11:27 AM  

@Friendly Ghost - URI would've worked also, but your UTI made me 'spray'.
Many good comments today, including @TokyoRacer, @chavenet and several @Anonymi that I wish would've named up.

To distract into a lighter direction:

Today, the LEAP is vindicated.
On Monday, with COCA and OPEL in the grid, I suggested that Chrysler's Lee IaCOCA bought out a German auto manufacture to develop the OPEL-Cola. Just for pure interest, an extra snippet I threw in let gentle readers know that OPEL started out first manufacturing sewing machines in a German cowshed, before moving on to bicycles and later to cars. For anyone who had the brass and fortitude to actually read and retain that, 5A would have been a glorious gimme today. Just be prepared: you never know when that German cowshed might slip into a clue.

That started me off liking the puzzle, but agree it was sub-Steinberg in the smoothness we've come to expect, and sub-Friday in difficulty. That didn't stop me from the doing the fLED/BLED EtH/EDH DAR/SAR dING/ZING AETNA/CIGNA/AETNA waffle to the point of aggravation. I also DRUG in the METHLABS. Obviously, I had not been snacking on a GENIUSBAR last night.

SKOR me as another who thought the PLAYBOY_MANSION TOPLESS_DANCER duo as rather self-consciously edgy. Once we moved to territory with the UZI and PALESTINE partition, it all became more double-edged.

Mane likes:
The LYIN' LYONS HE-LLION (the 2-L LLION has a great mmane, get it?)
LABORPOOL: That +/- newfangled thingy that has deliveries done underwater. Not sure if it doesn't require OBGYN scuba certificatION.

For decades, the Higgs boson was well-accepted in theory but so elusive, it might have been dubbed the HELL_ION by some. It was ultimately observed in the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), a 17-mile circular tunnel in Switzerland; there, super-conducting magnets make protons whip around this course at nearly the speed of light. ...'. At such speeds, the protons whip around the tunnel about 11,000 times each second, and when directed by the magnets, engage in millions of collisions in the blink of an eye. The collisions, in turn, produce fireworks-like sprays of particles, which mammoth detectors capture and record....'[Smithsonian]

I appreciate those sprays more than I did the UZI clue.

Am calling it for the "Procession of the SAR-DAR" today, but now need to go write a letter to my good friend IMI TATE.

Y'all be good, now.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Enjoyed it for the most part. Trying a little too hard to be edgy and sacrificing fill in some places to that end.

Hartley70 11:36 AM  

Foiled by the dAR and I never saw the evil OdAMA, and my week was going so well if you ignore the fact that I'm laid low and suffering from what must be the plague. It's highly contagious and spread by brides, so beware women in white ALA Wilkie Collins.

Joseph Michael 11:46 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle until I got to OSAMA and UZI and left with s bad taste in my mouth.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

@laserpen When I think of " high tech" My mind conjures up , say, a probe landing on a comet, not something you buy in a Walmart check-out line.

Andrew Heinegg 11:47 AM  

OK, as a Seattle area person, I too am used to eating a lot of Satsumas. They are California grown and come to market, as has been noted, in late November. If you see them in your area and have not tasted them, wait until around Christmas time as it is between then and the end of January that they are at their peak. They are the easiest orange to peel and have wonderful flavor. I find it hard to believe that NYC does not get a ton of them because everything good (and bad) in the world is available there.

The puzzle does seem a bit puerile and single minded. But, knowing it was constructed by a teen male tells you why it is that way.

Heather F. 12:23 PM  


Anonymous 12:41 PM  

am wondering if this got thru... second attempt --
>I feel the male gaze all over this puzzle with PLAYBOY MANSION and TOPLESS DANCERS as the two marquee answers.

Not to mention male menopause. And/or an underlying misogyny.

Sad to me that the editor thinks that publishing a teenager's puzzle with this particular twinned fill for this audience/venue makes him (the editor) look like he's somehow on the cutting edge. Because that's how it came across to me. The editor accepted the puzzle more than a year ago. Is there a law that says he can't change his mind? It's not like the constructor's financial (or creative) future hangs in the balance... My point being, of course, that publishing this well-crafted, mostly freshly-filled (if ultimately sophomoric and kind of unpleasant) puzzle reflects more poorly on the editor than it does on the constructor.

Am just glad that tomorrow is another day.

old timer 12:58 PM  

It wasn't a *bad* puzzle, but a double DNF for me. Never saw UZI, wrote in "dings" and figured an "udi" was just something I had never heard of. Wrote in "DAR" and saw no reason to change it. No one has heard of the SAR.

OBGYN and GENIUSBAR made the puzzle look easier than it turned out to be. Though there must be many solvers who have never been to an Apple Store and would not know that answer right away. I also put in "eth" where EDH belongs. I think "eth" was the usual spelling years ago. That's how it's pronounced, and it's a mystery to me that an EDH is not part of our alphabet. It would be useful to have a letter for the "th" sound.

I wrote in LYONS and winced, because the "s" was dropped decades ago, as it was for Marseille.

Why'd they throw those esses in the trench?
It's nobody's business but the French.

mac 1:18 PM  

Easy Friday puzzle, but in the end I got in the NE: I could not see "bloc", and CDR did not help me out.

Masked and Anonymous 1:20 PM  

Mostly a fun solve. OSAMASAR: no problemo. EDH: noh problemo & fave desperado weeject.

SATS?MA/?INGS/??I: M&A joins the ever-growing club of Japanese citrus spray knockers. That was M&A's last stand, in this FriPuz. Two squares away from glory. Started with DINGS. Several reminiscences of the alphabet later, went with PINGS. Thenafter, with many precious nanoseconds already down the drain, and pressure mountin, M&A had some "spray source" candidates …

1. EPI. Do they make an epidermal spray? What do they use it for? M&A not know.
2. SPI. This seemed the most logical, using a sorta Ben Carson rush-the-uzi-shooter sorta logic. SPI could be justified as "stopping in mid-SPIt".
3. UPI. Figured maybe they send out news bulletins, with flowers delivery as a backup business. Since the puz only had 3 other U's, this seemed like a good, solid "respectable" choice.
4. API. American Petroleum Institute. Maybe they have to go out and spray "trade secret" chemicals on all them oil spills? Seemed logical, in a trickle-down-economics sorta way.
5. RABBITHOLE. This was the approach M&A ultimately opted for. Aiming the sharp business end of his sometimes-puz-solvin-pencil, he carefully punched a hole in the grid printout paper, through almost the entire square numbered "43". Zing!

"When in Doubt, Rush the Constructioneer"


OISK 1:48 PM  

First thought of OBAMA (since I had all the letters except the "S"), but chuckled at the hugely racist even hint of a thought about cave dweller, slapped myself, and got Osama, even though I never heard of the SAR. Sons of the daughters, I suppose. Never heard of a "genius bar," which reminds me of David's earlier, more annoying (to me) puzzles that frequently had Apple references unfamiliar to me. Never heard of SKOR, Satsuma, join others in really disliking the (clever) clue for UZI. Loved the clue for "on red" though, one of the "AHA" moments that I look forward to in a puzzle.

But I finished correctly, and generally liked this one despite the few objections.

Elephant's Child 1:58 PM  

@jberg, I'm with you on the piquancy of the ONION_ROLL. Now, can we talk about bialys?

@Maruchka, nice distinction between being affected vs offended

Teedmn 2:07 PM  

My DNF of the day (it seems like there always is one) is having smokeless tobacco SkOL in my candy bar (yes, SkOal, I know). I started with UlAn at 60 A and when IDYLL filled in, I didn't check 53D again. No perfect SKOR again.

I first wanted FTD (the florist company) for 43A but SATSF wasn't happening for a Japanese citrus fruit. BITCOIN was a gimme so that turned my fLed (a la @LMS) easily into BLED (nice clue there on 40A).

With ST in 30D, I started writing in PAkiSTaN in but it didn't fit. But it was pretty close. Nice clue on METHLABS, PLANKS and ON RED.

Some kinks and kinkiness but overall good puzzle. Thanks, DS.

Penna Resident 2:17 PM  

loved the clue for 23D, but why no ? there.
its obviously a pun on right.

the animals in 46A obviously pointed to copycat (no correct letters), which i thought was cute, and it gave me cigNA, so if you start that corner with this it is difficult to fill. it was SATSUMA that finally made me erase it.

i usually have trouble with steinberg puzzles, though i like them. finished this one having no idea what an OdAMA was.

Gareth Bain 2:46 PM  

The idea that people exist who don't know what a satsuma is blows my brain. Next you'll be telling me you haven't heard of a banana either...

travis 2:52 PM  

If you know the Japanese alphabet, the only letter that is possible to follow 'ts' is 'u'. If other alphabets are fair game, than the 'u' is inferable. Never heard of SATSUMA, but got the U on that basis.

GILL I. 3:22 PM  

@Anonymous 12:41....Wow...Hmmmmm!

Nancy 3:26 PM  

Here's what I love about Hartley 70 (11:06 post today), whom I have the great pleasure of knowing off-blog. She's always funny. She's funny even when she's hosting a wedding overlooking the water (of all places) in the midst of a minor, but exceedingly unpleasant and badly-timed hurricane. She's funny even when she's just come down with God-knows-what-virus or germ and is feeling rotten.(I should call her, but will she be well enough to answer?) She's simply always funny -- and there are times in life where that's just not so easy for most of us.. Hope you recover soon, you wet and windblown mother of a wet and windblown bride!

Roo Monster 4:55 PM  

@Gareth Bain, 2:46 PM

Is a banana that thing thats tropical and orangy?


Plantains, however...

Jackie 5:16 PM  

Agree 100% on the OSAMA and UZI bits. I hate getting UZI at any time, but especially in the context of a joke. "Oh, a spray of *bullets*. And here I was totally thinking of water fountains and little flower bouquets, LOL." Actually not so much.

But I loved the rest of the puzzle! Come on, we've got TOPLESS DANCERS, a METH LAB, the PLAYBOY MANSION, and shout-outs to 1980s top-40 radio and Moby Dick?!? I thought it was mostly super fun.

Anonymous 6:35 PM  

Me too.

Teedmn 7:09 PM  

@Old Timer, thanks for the sideways 'They Might Be Giants' reference.

@Leapfinger, I read but did not retain re: OPEL Cola and sewing machines. CAHOOTS on your LASERPEN sharp mind.

@George Barany, you left out the bunny HIPHOP tie in.

I'll stop now as I don't seem to be on an ONIONROLL.

kitshef 9:51 PM  

I think I'm turning into @rex. Exact same sticking point at SATSxMA - xINGS - xxI, same misgivings about OSAMA and UZI levity. OTOH, Igave up on the NW and got my first foothold at the odious big NATE, then worked pretty much anticlockwise. Oh, and the clus for ENS and CPL were simply baffling.

Kathy D. 9:58 PM  

Agree with comments about the puzzle, could have lived without the verging on sexist topless dancers and playboy mansion. Definitely a male perspective, seemingly young or middle-aged yearning for youth.

It was fairly easy, didn't have to google anything.

Obama wouldn't have worked instead of Osama. Obama a cave dweller? I don't think so. Would have had to substitute another clue.

gringa 10:26 PM  

Come on, guys! Satsuma is what the Brits call a tangerine. I read it in Harry Potter for goodness sake. And apparently in days of yore if was a REAL luxury TREAT during the Christmas season. Goes to show how times have changed what with everybody buying boxes of "cuties," easy peel tangerines at Trader Joe's like they were nothing.

gringa 10:26 PM  

Come on, guys! Satsuma is what the Brits call a tangerine. I read it in Harry Potter for goodness sake. And apparently in days of yore if was a REAL luxury TREAT during the Christmas season. Goes to show how times have changed what with everybody buying boxes of "cuties," easy peel tangerines at Trader Joe's like they were nothing.

gringa 10:30 PM  

I was trying to pull a more difficult citrus out of the hat. Yuzu which is an ingredient in Ponzu sauce. Prevented me from seeing the obvious SATSUMA

Anonymous 11:30 PM  

Oh, in case anyone missed it, PLAYBOYMANSION is zippy and current - this coming week Bill Cosby's being forced into a deposition about having sex with an underage girl at the Playboy Mansion. Yup, zippy and current.

Joel Blashka 1:37 AM  

Didn't know that SATSUMA was a Japanese fruit, but knew it as a Japanese type of porcelain that was generally made for the export market in the late nineteenth century. It fit and turned out to be correct.

MDMA 2:11 AM  

Reading all the comments, most people are saying "huh?" to SATSUMA while a handful consider it an obvious common word. It seems clear that it's some kind of regional term, perhaps in Seattle and environs (but not in Japan itself, apparently). The rest of the world knows it as a "mandarin orange" or "tangerine" or other term.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

The clue for satsuma was off, which is the problem. It should have been followed with a question mark, "a Japanese citrus?" There is no fruit actually called, "Satsuma" (sorry Seattlites) - it's a Satsuma tangerine. It's a variety (cultivar) of tangerines. It's not a type of fruit. Just as there are different types of apples, such a Macintosh apples or Golden Delicious apples (which might be referred to as just Macintoshes, etc.). Satsuma does not mean tangerine and in Japan no one calls tangerines Satsumas.

Cheryl Lynn Helm 11:47 AM  

It's LYON not LYONS.

Jane B 10:43 PM  

The photo pictured is not the Japanese fruit of the puzzle. The Satsuma is a persimmon. A lively juicy fruit, it has a smooth skin like a plum, and a deep burnt orange color on the onside, inside pulp lighter. They grow in California.

Joe Bleaux 11:04 PM  

One last try. Am I posting yet?

+wordphan 11:06 PM  

Makes me nuts! Why have an "editor"? Shortz, do your job!

Joe Bleaux 11:08 PM  

Oh, please, please let me post, at last, for the first time. I've jumped through enough hoops, haven't I? I just wanted to say I didn't like Uzi, either.

Anonymous 11:10 PM  

NO! NO! neither osama nor uzi should EVER be allowed in xword puzzles which should be fun. These are words of terrorism on hostility. Should NEVER be allowed. And certainly not with pun cues.

Joe Bleaux 11:10 PM  

This is my first post, if it works: I didn't like Uzi, either.

verbatim 1:39 PM  

We talk a lot about the "breakfast test" when contemplating themes, fill and clues. I also include "My Kid" test when I solve with him or when I create for others.

Was anyone a little surprised by PLAYBOYMANSION, METHLABS and TOPLESSDANCERS? Especially the last.

I was just a little surprised that these appeared in the NYT, rather than one of the more mature-audience puzzles.

(Sorry, David)

Burma Shave 10:32 AM  


but the LABORPOOL was BUSIER having fun, OOHLALA they were working hard!


spacecraft 11:20 AM  

Lots of never-heard-ofs in this one. Seems as though our wunderkind was bending over backward to please "Uncle Michael" this time.Very heavy on the "hi-tech" (at which phrase my eyes glaze over immediately) stuff. First N-H-O: GENIUSBAR. Well, all but the last letter was in, so I went with R--hoping that another tech thing, CDR, might be short for CD-ROM. Gee, and he could've clued it as US Navy O-5. Why not; it'd fit the pattern.

SATSUMA, of course, was the next N-H-O. I DNF here with UpI/pINGS, and I throw the penalty flag for it. A ZING is definitely NOT "sharp." Perhaps he just wanted to work "Uncle Michael's" name into the clue, but that is plain wrong. And the across? "Spray source???" For UZI??? Because it "sprays" its ammo? How innocuous a word is "spray;" one imagines oneself out in the back yard, watering the plants. Oh, no. THIS time I'm out in the back yard killing my neighbors. No thanks, David.

And finally, who in blazes is "Big NATE?" In the COMICS?? What comics? Ah, must be those underground ones. The ones that never actually make it to syndication. What with the timbre of the rest of this puzzle, I shudder to imagine what "Big NATE" does for a living.

Even my beloved SELA, my #1 yeah baby, can't save this one. F.

rondo 12:07 PM  

OOHLALA, a “theme” I can get behind! Those long acrosses are full of yeah babiness, and at the bottom we get one of my all-time faves in SELA Ward, yeah baby. Slight write-over problem at dAR and “meantT” for GOTAT, and of course fLED. Otherwise, I’ve got no real issue with answers like UZI and METHLABS – they are real things, like the OBGYN and the MANSION and the DANCERS – I just don’t jump to some of the associations that other solvers feel they must.

TRATTORIA DaVinci recently closed in DT St. Paul. A shame as I always liked it.

GENIUSBAR came all on crosses as I have none of their devices. SATSUMA on crosses too as I avoid fruit that squirts.

Perhaps not DS’s best effort, but as usual it started like “How am I gonna finish?” and ended up as “Hey, it’s done!”. So no complaints from me.

Longbeachlee 1:33 PM  

@Nancy Pings over dings, and both way over zings, I'm with Loren on the UPI spray. They sure spray news all over the world.

leftcoastTAM 1:57 PM  

Not often that I can say I'm with Rex on this one. Looked at the SATSUMA/UZI/ZINGS crosses for a long time, but got them in the end.

DNF'd at the OSAMA/SAR crossing because I was fixed on dAR and at the OOHLALA/EDH crossing because O-O-o LALA sounded just right while EDH was gibberish to me. EDo wasn't; perhaps an echo of the old name for Tokyo.

Spray source and Former cave dweller were very clever clues.

Overall, I enjoyed it.

Longbeachlee 2:47 PM  

@Loren, I took your advice and ran to get a SKOR bar. In the words of Larry David, prettttty good. Actually I was in CVS to pick up a prescription, and there was the display of every candy bar known to man, and your words were ringing in my head, and the rest is history.

rain forest 3:47 PM  

I too enjoyed this one, including the UZI clue (never thought about killing people), but ultimately DNF at ODAMA/DAR because, American.

Lots of slowdowns in the centre where I just went square by square seemingly until it all came together, and quite cleverly too.

Impressive that a high school junior constructed this one. Actually, just about any puzzle is impressive to me.

dirigonzo 4:52 PM  

It should be noted that a pioneer among TOPLESSDANCERS passed away recently - RIP, Carol Doda. https://l.

leftcoastTAM 8:57 PM  

@rain forest: "Just about any puzzle is impressive to me."


Respect 12:15 AM  

Flippant entries concerning UZIs and OSAMA leave me cold, especially given what's happening in Paris tonight. And I share the comments from primetime concerning the tragic demise of Virgil "Gus" Grissom. And CDR, SATSUMA and CDR? Shame!

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