Sacred text of Zoroastrianism / SAT 12-5-15 / Colored sunfish / Daily show filmed in Burbank Calif / Role played by Richard Gere John Cleese / His first major screen appearance was in 1940 / Company whose name paradoxically means shelter with no walls / World's oldest one is in Tunisia

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


THEME: sort of PINOCCHIO / JIMINY CRICKET but not really (33A: His first major screen appearance was in 1940 + 15D: Partner of 33-Across)

Word of the Day: REDEAR (45D: Colored sunfish) —
The redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus, also known as the shellcracker, Georgia bream, cherry gill, chinquapin, improved bream, rouge ear sunfish and sun perch) is freshwater fish native to the southeastern United States. Since it is a popular sport fish, it has been introduced to bodies of water all over North America. This species of sunfish is well known for its diet of mollusks and snails. (wikipedia)
• • •
 
Not feeling this one. First of all—theme or don't theme. This in-between stuff is annoying. After the central crossing in this one, the rest of the puzzle feels like a (Giant) afterthought. You sometimes see these half-ass pseudo-themes in late-week "themeless" puzzles. It's like the constructor noticed that two answers could intersect or parallel one another in some way, but then ... hand no idea what to do beyond that, and so built a themeless puzzle around the stunted theme. It's an oops theme. Or a coy theme. "Is it a theme? [Wink!] I'll never tell." Blargh. Second, it's a highly name-y grid, resulting in a solving experience that felt overwhelmingly trivial. I count 12 names of people or characters, many of them taking up a lot of real estate. I mean, ["Be Cool" co-star, 2005]?? [Co-author of "The Yankee Years"]. That's a lot of "co-" and a lot of name and a lot of dull trivia cluing. Then there's the rank obscurity of AVESTA (!?!?) (42A: Sacred text of Zoroastrianism). And what is RED EAR ... REDEAR? (45D: Colored sunfish) Is that two words or one? Sunfish have ears? (yes: red ones—they appear to be this fish's distinctive physical feature). Looking over the grid, it's possible that it's not as bad as it felt while I was solving. My first answer into the grid was ATTU (double blargh) (6D: Island whose battlefield area is a U.S. National Historic Landmark), and that *may* have colored the whole experience a skosh.

[I.R.S.]

"Conan" is not a "Daily show." It's weekdaily. Somehow, this difference seems Very important. I take the clues seriously. Also, it's nightly, but that's another, lesser issue. I think the answer I liked (discovering) best was RFK STADIUM (52A: Field near the Anacostia River). I had noooo idea what / where the Anacostia River is, and the idea that a "Field" could be a STADIUM didn't occur to me at all. I had to jump into that SE corner blind in order to work out STADIUM, and then the "K" made the RFK part clear. Without that RFK part, I am Dead in the SW. CONAN, AVESTA, all the Downs, everything is impossible until I get RFK, which gets me APRILS (again!?!?! two days in a row WTF?) and IF NOT, which gets me LANCELOT. Even then, I struggle a bit to get the rest of that corner. Best / most ridiculous wrong answer is LEY for LEE (55D: Victor at Fussell's Mill). I just know LEY is some crossword general. I don't even remember what war he's from. . . oh crap, I'm thinking of NEY, who was Napoleon's marshal. Willy LEY was a science writer. Bob LEY is an ESPN anchor, most recently / notably for "Outside the Lines." I hope you enjoyed this lesson in crossword names. I know I did.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

75 comments:

jae 12:38 AM  

Tough for me.  My last entries were  changing MIleS to MINTS and Ped to PAS which gave me CONAN which made a whole lot more sense than CONel (cousin of MONTEL?).   It took a while to fix that.  My general rule for doing these things is that "if it looks wrong or seems like nonsense it most likely is and you need to find your error."   

NW and SE were actually fairly easy,

I liked it more than @Rex did, but I have to agree with his  "rank obscurity" and "dull trivia" issues. 

Thursdaysd 1:13 AM  

Hated all the names, most of which I didn't know. But surprised to see it listed as Medium-Challenging, as I finished it without help, whereas yesterday took two reveal errors. I think this is the first time I've finished a Saturday without help that Rex didn't rate easy, so that compensates for the names. (Attu?)

AliasZ 1:26 AM  


I didn't like this puzzle much. Here are my reasons:

1 - It was a super easy Saturday, maybe Thursday level with no rebus.

2 - The two isolated minipuzzles in the NW and SE corners were not invited to the party, except for one MEAGER entry each. Poor choice of grid design for a Saturday.

3 - The number of proper names (forgetting PINOCCHIO and JIMINY CRICKET), geographical names and brand names take up much prime real estate, making it more a trivia contest than clever, funny wordplay or vocabulary exercise with tortured cluing, as expected on Saturdays.

4 - DISHY is fishy, and ILLUSES (rhymes with calluses?) is super stinky. The latter should've been: I'LL USE "S" clued as "A perplexed crossword constructor's exasperated exclamation after s/he exhausted all other options to stretch a six-letter word to fit into a seven-letter slot." If the entry stinks, at least make its clue funny.

5 - BLUE LINE, RED EAR (or is it re-dear?) -- green paint much? Who outside Boston knows BLUE LINE? Maybe Gray LINE, a recognizable worldwide tour company.

6 - ACE TEN after yesterday's THREE TENS, then ATTU, OTO... Oh forget it.

Any Saturday puzzle in which the best entries are À LA MODE, MINARET, SHOT PAR, AVESTA, IN NO TIME, REENACT and FOLIAGE, is a rather poor showing in my view, plus ILLUSES wipes out at least two of these, if not three.

I got stuck at 50A for a sec, since the clue did not specify if what were endowed were well or frugally so.

A great disappointment after a great MAS quad-stack Friday. Which reminds me, try this other excellent quad stack. I guarantee you'll enjoy it.

Perhaps this tender and passionate excerpt from the RUSTIC Wedding Symphony by Karl Goldmark will soothe this savage breast.

ronathan 1:35 AM  

The only reason I got RFK STADIUM right away was because I live in the DC area. That's also why I knew what the Anacostia river was.

I thought that UMA THURMAN, PINNOCCHIO, JIMNEY CRICKET, and JOE TORRE were really easy to guess even if you didn't know the clue and the necessary trivia, just from the crosses. So, this puzzle was really easy, especially for a Saturday.

Anonymous 1:59 AM  

Rescued for me by the fact that I completed it -- a rare Saturday occurrence -- however even the glow of victory doesn't totally erase my annoyance at the parade of proper nouns.

Anonymous 2:32 AM  

ILL USES?? Anyone ever heard/used this questionable grammatical phrase?

Avesta Kedavra 3:30 AM  

Holy RAMROD! Proper noun hullabaloo: 20-plus of them, so almost a third of the puzzle. Blacken out the square at number 19 or the one to its left (and the symmetric partner square) and you have three unconnected puzzles. I thought that both loading up on proper nouns and highly-segmented grids were the sort of things that got puzzles rejected.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Picasso. Great quote, but it doesn't make looking at this painting a pleasure. YMMV.

madchickenlittle 3:39 AM  

This was a nope. Nope. Nope. I couldn't get any crosses until I Googled Avesta. Just, nope.

George Barany 7:25 AM  

I was quite tired when I tackled this puzzle, and had to pause several times before throwing in the towel with the NW section mostly blank. This, in addition to several errors in the SE section, precipitated by not knowing REDEAR (however that's parsed). Of course, my failings are on me, not on @David Kahn whose work I normally admire. Thanks to @Rex for articulating, far better than I could, some of the issues with the puzzle.

I was surprised, upon heading over to xwordinfo.com, to learn that every word in the puzzle has been used previously in the New York Times under the editorship of @Will Shortz, with the single exception of JIMINY_CRICKET, used in 1990 during the @Eugene Maleska era. This all reminded me of dialogue from @Woody Allen's "Sleeper" (one of the early, funny ones) in which he talks about "... the PINOCCHIO factor, which states that the square root of the proboscis is equal to the sum of the sinuses ..." Could this puzzle have extended its mini-theme by coupling FIB to the film that also foisted upon the world "When you wish upon a star"?

The puzzle also brought back memories of the fall of 1964, not all that long after his brother had been assassinated, when I caught a glimpse of RFK at a rally in Flushing, Queens as he campaigned to represent New York State in the US Senate. BOOMER memories, I suppose ...

Aketi 7:59 AM  

I liked JELLO, MINT and ROLO. Sugary treats outnumbered SPICE. Sadly, don't remember ever finding a MINT on my pillow at any RAMADA Inn.

I can see how the side effects of STRESS might lead to someone to take TUMS.

The FOLIAGE at the Bronx Botanical Gardens this fall was magically golden, like some elvin forest.

Even though I may be considered one of the BOOMERS, my MEAGER retention of trivia renders me inCAPABLE of completing name dependent crossword puzzles without the assistive device of Dr Google. It's also annoying that no loner pass EYETESTS with flying colors. The progressive glasses the optician insisted I would adapt to within a couple of weeks have clearly not helped my ability to spot the dramatic license autocorrect takes with my posts (most recently late last night)

@rex, I wish there was a mechanism for correcting typos without deleting and rewriting it all over again for those of us who hit the publish button too quickly. I'm sure, however, as a professor that your response would be that it's my own responsibility to proofread more carefully.

Hartley70 8:42 AM  

This was my fastest Saturday in a long time and the "people" helped me ZIP through it. JOETORRE and JANET were my first entries. MARYS gave me the J and Y and that's all I needed for JIMINYCRICKET and PINOCCHIO. That cross was a gift. HENNER and UMATHURMAN popped right in and I was off to the races. This was a nice change from my usual Saturday slog. I thought it was fun. Thanks DJK!

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Wouldn't mind doing Jello shots with Uma Thurman...

NCA President 8:55 AM  

I'm with everyone who thought there were a plethora of proper nouns in this puzzle. Everywhere. There was no hiding from them. I didn't see it as a trivia exercise as much as a song Mr. Kahn made up, found a hook he liked and then repeated it endlessly. I could be wrong on this, but the editor might be the guy to step in and say, "That's a nice melody, Mr. Kahn, but seriously...sing something else for a change." But alas, proper nouns abound. And two (2!) presidential initials!

Apart from the occasional smug feeling of getting a long answer with few crosses (UMATHURMAN, JOETORRE, RFKSTADIUM), this puzzle brought me no joy.

I'm also calling shenanigans on the clue "Fall ____" (39D) "...of man?," "of the Holy Roman Empire?," "...from grace?," oh, yeah...FOLIAGE.... Sounds legit. Clues like these give me hives.

For that matter, puzzles with a such string of names like this that take on a "word search" quality give me hives. If I had more time I could probably find and circle more names backward, diagonally, etc. (and et al.).

Glimmerglass 9:12 AM  

Mostly easy/medium except for the NW, where I struggled. ATTU was one of my last answers (I had OahU for far too long, especially after I'd guessed UMA THURMAN from crosses). Knew MOREY Amsterdam, or I would really have been fixed up there (loved the old Dick Van Dyke show). Tough (for me) cluing on RESUMES, ALA MODE, SANEST, AND DISHY (?). My educated guess on MINARET (from the R in MOREY) was probably what saved me. I liked the crossing in the center, and I think Rex is silly to complain about a "mini-theme." Geeze Louise, Rex.

tb 9:29 AM  

@George Barany actually saw RFK! Swoon. George, you are my hero.

Nancy 9:35 AM  

The second challenging puzzle in a row, but this one I loved. For me, this was actually a little easier than yesterday's (yesterday I had to cheat to finish, but not today) and I enjoyed every moment of solving it. Loved the clues for SHOT PAR, RESUMES, SANEST and EYE TEST. Although I don't normally like proper names, I loved PINOCCHIO crossing JIMINY CRICKET. Was almost done in for a while by having PLEAD instead of BLEAT and MISUSES instead of ILL USES. But everything eventually fell into place -- if not exactly IN NO TIME, then readily enough. Lovely Saturday.

Tita 9:42 AM  

Any Saturday that I finish with no help must be a good one, right? And top it off with. RexRating of M-C...hooray, right?
I finished this, though I thought I never would, no way, no how. So I did, in fact like it overall, in spite of agreeing with most of what's been said, esp. AliasZ.

Oh man, those names... Oddly, the only ones I was sure about after he first pass were MOREY and HENNER. (She's one of those super-memory folks...I could sure use a little of that.) And I guess I loved the Dick van Dyke show because they lived in New Rochelle, where I was born.

My hotel provided robeS for a looong time, and I was playing at RedSTADIUM. I led, not RAN. I did like learning that we had a Vice President with a Monty Python-worthy name.

Thanks, Mr. Kahn, for letting me win, though next time, let's have less of a you-know-it-or-you-don't puzzle and more of a mental workout.

Nancy 9:46 AM  

I've just been reading the 10 comments so far, and was interested to see how many people complained about too many proper names. That's usually my complaint, but I barely noticed them here. Why? There were plenty of crosses that gave them to me, and none of the names were obscure, once the word pattern became clear. So while I had no idea that UMA THURMAN starred in "Be Cool," I've certainly heard of her. Likewise with all the other proper names -- even Marilu HENNER (who I think used to play opposite James Garner and does skew old). Maybe I didn't mind the names because this is a BOOMERS' puzzle. And, of course as a tennis player, I knew ANA Ivanovic. So, once again, it's all a question of wheelhouses, isn't it?

Z 10:03 AM  

Oahu anyone?

UMA with THURMAN but no Yoko Ono or Brian Eno?

Two isolated corners, more names the white pages, and lots of "?" clues. Challenging Saturday here.

All daily shows are on five days a week except The Daily Show, which is only on four days a week, at 11:00 p.m. like CONAN.

GILL I. 10:05 AM  

I think @AliasZ pretty much said it for me. I don't know why, but I tend to freeze up a bit when I see a puzzle loaded with names. I got JIMINY CRICKET AND PINOCCHIO without too much trouble but I thought the clue was pretty ho-hum. Couldn't that have been SPICEd up a bit?
I hate seeing ROLO as a chocolate candy because it's mostly caramel.
Would anyone dare use Teuscher or maybe even Jacques TORREs instead?
I haven't been doing the crosswords lately so maybe I'm stale...
@Aketi...Are you making your comments from your iPhone? It's a pisser when you forget a comma or you ILLUSE the to, too, two and find out too to late that autocorrect chose the wrong one for you....!
Off to see the wizards of St. Mercy...

Robso 10:05 AM  

When I got JIMI, I was hoping for JIMI Hendricks. It was all downhill after that.

Nancy 10:10 AM  

@old timer (from yesterday). I have no idea what a "case 10" in poker is, so I went to two websites to look it up and they said it's the last card that is capable of improving a hand. But the 3rd ten of THREE TENS is the second-to-last card that can improve the hand; the 4th ten would be the "case ten". Right? Or wrong? (BTW, you sound like a very experienced poker player, @old timer. Hope you're in the chips, as they say. Assuming that is what they say:)

quilter1 10:11 AM  

My dad served on Attu and Adak islands in the war so those names are very familiar. I consider this puzzle to be themeless despite the insect/marionette crossing. At first I was thinking Abbot and Costello, but of course was wrong. I actually liked this with all the names, but maybe it skewed old.

Ludyjynn 10:13 AM  

This puzzle had a theme, Rex. It was the constructor's generous holiday gift to BOOMERS, starting with JIMINY CRICKET and PINOCCHIO. They used to appear together in a cartoon feature AIRED annually at my elementary school auditorium in the early '60s. Other BOOMER answers: MOREY, RMN, JOE TORRE, LANCELOT, JANET, EYETEST. I was sure you would detest this grid as a result of all the 'fogey' words!

Speaking of Lancelot, the one and only (for me) interpretation of the role was embodied by the late Robert Goulet, who came to prominence in the part and whose magnificent voice can be heard on the original Broadway cast album of "Camelot" which was played over and over by my parents, again, in the early '60s. Also featured Julie Andrews as Gueneviere (sp?).

My high school French, also from the '60s, came in tres handy for this solve. Merci, DJK.

Liked DISHY crossing UMA T.

No complaints about CONAN cluing. EVEN "The Daily Show" is only on 5 days/wk and yet its moniker implies it should be 7.

This will probably be the one and only time I found a Saturday puzzle easy and Rex did not. For that I am grateful, DJK and WS. JELLO shots are on me!



Tita 10:21 AM  

@Nancy...exactly why some people dislike puzzles crammed with proper names. See AliasZ bullet 3 for a more articulate example than mine posted just below yours.
Doesn't really matter if it is in one's wheelhouse or outhouse...it is just a glorified TV Guide puzzle.

Not dissing your opinion, just clarifying my own and I think a few others.

Enjoy this beautiful weekend here in the NE!

Oh...and me too for oahU, and also loved learning about RAMADA...

Ludyjynn 10:22 AM  

More BOOMER answers to add to my previous list: RFK and HENNER.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:27 AM  

Three puzzles for the price of one. Otherwise OK to me, played Medium.

Two w/o's, 5 D, NEWSY >> DISHY; 15 A, JOE BERRA (hey, coulda been Yogi's brother or something) >> JOE TORRE.

I saw Spamalot on Broadway, so I get it, but it was amusing to think of 57 A, John Cleese and Richard Gere having both played the same character, Lancelot.

John V 10:50 AM  

Nothing personal, but I have never solved a David Kahn puzzle, today being no exception. Just the way it is. Different wavelength.

Teedmn 10:51 AM  

Hi @Nancy! I thought I could count on you to not like this puzzle due to the names but I guess I'm just projecting my own frustration, 'namely' with the NE. I found the rest of the puzzle pleasantly sticky but the NE defeated me totally. While I would like to have kept this PRIVATE, I must own up to Googling the heck out of the NE and still not finishing. HENNER (which I think we usually see as the clue), JOE TORRE, ANA, etc. I had Georgia as far north as ESTONIA and on the other side of the Black Sea with either Romania or Moldova, or even Croatia. I still don't get OTO (no, I haven't Googled it, thank you) TOTE board was not a thing to me and the clue for REENACT was not sussable for me. So....

Oh well, I had a double dose of MAS puzzles yesterday so I won't complain. @John Child commented yesterday about a puzzle that's a collaboration between MAS and George Barany, so if you want to try another one similar to Friday's puzzle, you can get it
Here . I liked it a lot.

But David Kahn, thanks for drubbing. I do like a challenge and it has been a long time since I had to drag out my world atlas.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

@AliasZ - I'm afraid you aren't doing green paint right. BLUE LINE and RED EAR (REDEAR?) ain't.

Carola 11:09 AM  

After scanning the clues and seeing the number of names I was supposed to know, I almost signed in just to say Hi to everyone here and phooey to the puzzle. But stubbornness prevailed and I managed to finish, one difficult PAS at a time.

I liked the JIMINY CRICKET - PINOCCHIO cross, and if we have to have names, they might as well be UMA THURMAN and LANCELOT. Some nice entries that redeemed the name-heaviness for me: FOLIAGE, RAMROD, MINARET, DUB IN, DISHY, JELLO.

Paul Johnson 11:10 AM  

Ugh. I'm so tired of UMA showing up in puzzles. And this time we got the whole nine yards UMATHURMAN. Do puzzlers know another actress, and not STREEP? And then LEE was worked in via a battle only a Civil War nut would know. Still seeing three letters, knowing it was a victory of some sort should have, but didn't, tip me off.

MOREY Amsterdam was a gimme. Loved the guy and still think The Dick Van Dyke Show is the greatest sitcom ever - when you had to be funny, not just toss in sexual innuendos like the very lurid Two and a Half Men. Heck Dick & Mary even had separate beds. Refreshing.

But then there's "In" as ALAMODE. HUH? The only a la mode I know is ice cream with pie. Who know I was "in"? Plus enough French already. Not to be with TOUT DE SUITE. Go TOUT yourself. Lastly I read "What all answers to should be clear?" more than a dozen times and still can make a lick of sense out of it. Awkward. Very awkward.

Nancy 11:21 AM  

@Tita -- Actually, I was agreeing with you and @Alias in my 2nd post -- noting how curious it was that I, who almost always complain about proper names, barely noticed how many there were here. I wasn't defending the heavy use of proper names or saying it was a good thing to have them -- just saying that there seemed to be a real disconnect between my usual take on puzzles and my visceral reaction to this one. And that the only explanation I could find was that my BOOMER's familiarity with the names in this one freed me up to focus on the wordplay clues like SHOT PAR, RESUMES and such. I think I was trying to say that puzzles inspire visceral reactions that can't always be explained. At least they do in me. And also that sometimes it's a question of whose ox is being gored. But I certainly wasn't pushing for more proper names in puzzles. Not bloody likely, @Tita. Trust me.

Charles Flaster 11:40 AM  

Loved this EZ boomer puz. MOREY , JOE TORRE,HENNER and UMA THURMAN were in my wheelhouse and proud if it.
Has anyone mentioned ST MARYS crossing the other two movie stars?
Liked cluing for EYE TEST, SHOT PAR, and SANEST.
Very little CrosswordEASE.
Thanks DJK.

Aketi 11:47 AM  

@Tita, your coinage of a "glorified TV Guide puzzle" made my JELLO shot go up my nose, @nancy, forgive me.
@GILL I, I use an iPad but the comment box has letters that look like they are about pt2 font size. The autocorrect went much farther than variations of to, too, II, and 2. It changed "my niece" into "my circle". The other changed involved a comment on how PETA might object to the long term impact of edible bullets on possums and the change was so bizarre I cannot figure out what I originally wrote. Of course I'm hoping that M&A won't object to my impenetrably garbled response to his funny post yesterday. The new glasses cost more than the first used car I bought. I have to hold the iPad at a 45 degree angle away from my body and move my head up and down so ICANSEEFOR about six inches (not MILES).

old timer 12:01 PM  

Nancy, I haven't played poker for so many years that I forgot what "case" meant. I think what I meant was a 10 as your hole card. (40 years ago, I played quite a bit, back before Texas Hold 'Em became all the rage. I played lowball, which was pretty much everyone played in Northern California card rooms. But sometimes, regular poker. And I did go through a phase of watching poker on TV.

Most of today's puzzle was tough, but doable. ACETEN was a gimme, SANEST and therefore ATTU were obvious, which gave me UMATHURMAN and an entree into the rest of the puzzle (RAMADA -- amusing clue and who knew?) In the SW, BLUELINE and NEPTUNE were easy -- I've been to Boston often enough to know their lines have colors. Red Line to Harvard, Green Line to the ballpark, and I believe the Gardner Museum. RFK STADIUM was enough to get me into the SE.

The NE was the bonecrusher for me. Unlike many of you, I never heard of Ms. HENNER. Had to Google for it. Even then, though I remember JOE TORRE, his name did not pop into my mind. Unfortunately, I had "Sac" where OTO should be -- the Sacs and Foxes were allied tribes, I think. So it took me a while to finish the puzzle with SHOT PAR, the cleverest clue in the puzzle.

How is EVEN a synonym for "flush" I wonder?

pmdm 12:18 PM  

I have complained many times about proper nouns in crossword puzzles, so I'm happy to read some of the above comments. AliasZ said it best. It's more of a trivia contest than a crossword puzzle. And too many Times crossword puzzles of late are trivia contests more than crossword puzzles.

At least I got a laugh from the write-up. I find it amusing that anyone can get annoyed at "in-between" constructions. I understand, but really. Sometimes it's better to just lighten up and move on. To another trivia puzzle.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Hard for me because I kept thinking those had to be real actors' names crossing the center---it took me very long to get first "Jiminy Cricket" then "Pinocchio."

But to those who objected to "ILLUSES:" that's a fine answer. Just think "She was ill-used" and work through the grammar.

Campesite 12:55 PM  

Well, one answer made me smile:
At UCSB there was a bike tunnel from the student ghetto to the campus festooned with graffiti. Every summer, university maintenance would OVERLAY it with white paint, providing a blank canvas for the graffiti artists to start anew in the fall. But there was one long tidbit of spray-painted text along the bottom spanning the length of the tunnel that was never removed from the time my much older brother was a freshman until I graduated years later: I AM THE RAMROD OF THE BUNION SQUAD. Still not sure what it means, but I respected the maintenance guys for allowing it to stay.

jberg 1:00 PM  

This was really tough for me. I had to put it down and go visit my daughter in the hospital (she's OK) before I could come back home and figure out the West side.

It didn't help that I thought of the cannon loader as a person, who therefore had to be a RAMmer. That made the parish St. jAmeS -- not very likely for a Crosby movie.

You know you're too old to be a BOOMER when MOREY Amsterdam is the only proper name you are really sure of. I even tried hst before RMN, oddly forgetting that Truman had bumped Henry Wallace as FDR's VP. And my shots were for poLiO (which I had in my youth) before JELLO, which I needed ILL USES to get. I think that phrase is fine, btw -- I guess it's a back formation from the more common ILL USED, but I'll take it anyway.

Some of the cluing was a overly loose, to me. I mean Triton goes around NEPTUNE, but does that make the latter its "locale?" Is the earth the moon's locale? If someone asked you where the earth was, you might say 'in the Solar system,' but not 'at Sol.'

Well enough of my BLEATING, it's late in the day and time to move on.

Joe Bleaux 1:08 PM  

Had to suss out much of this tedious proper-noun fest. DNF the SW, 'cause by then I just didn't give a damn. For a Saturday puzzle, it diaappointed.

Chuck McGregor 1:12 PM  

Some fun (or maybe not) juxtapositions from today’s JIMINY-CRICKETS-it-was-tough-so-needed help-as-usual puzzle:

BLUELINE UNEASE (Feeling while looking at a "screen of death")

RESUMES CAPABLE (What you hope happens after you reboot from said BLUELINEd screen)

A LA MODE OVERLAY (The totally obvious vanilla ice cream on apple pie. Had a homemade piece last night thusly adorned. YMM and YMMV)

RAMADA SHOT PAR (Good to know he is back on his game)

ELICIT JOE TORRE (The “goal” of the 15a clue)

MOREY AIRED (Amsterdam crepitated [see Urban Dictionary])

MARY’S BL EAT (2/3 of 1/2 of a Carpenter’s sandwich, abbr.)

AVE STAIRS (Moving from a multi-story to a ranch)

REENACT BOOMERS (Remake “Hunt for Red October”)

SONAR SCARES (Especially if you’re on that enemy submarine being pinged)

RAM ROD (IF NOT, ram someone else)

DISHY MINTS (How they’re found at a restaurant’s cash register)

TOTE SLO REDEAR (Because you can swim faster)

UMA THURMAN EVEN (Gambling status for an actress with a Sanskrit first name)

SANEST IN NO TIME (I got nothing…)

DUB IN JANET (What they wish they could have done that for her infamous ”wardrobe malfunction”)

And speaking of that ---

PRIVATE FOLIAGE (I’ll just leave this one to your imagination]

Cheers from a RUSTIC part of Maine where they PEP up the SPICE in their JELLO
(OK...that’s a FIB...about the JELLO...not the RUSTIC part)

The Bard 1:19 PM  

XCV.

How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!
O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!
That tongue that tells the story of thy days,
Making lascivious comments on thy sport,
Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise;
Naming thy name blesses an ill report.
O, what a mansion have those vices got
Which for their habitation chose out thee,
Where beauty's veil doth cover every blot,
And all things turn to fair that eyes can see!
Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege;
The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.

Marcy 1:25 PM  

Do "up to" & "capable of" really mean the same thing? To me, "up to" is what you're doing now & "capable of" is what you have the ability to do sometime in the future. And there has to be a less purposely confusing way to clue 59A!

Vincent Lima 1:32 PM  

If Pinocchio was one "sort of theme . . . but not really," the other was CONAN in ARMENIA. Note this awesome episode from a couple of weeks ago: http://teamcoco.com/armenia

Incidentally, AVESTA was a gimme, which made this Saturday uncharacteristically easy.

Brett Maverick 1:43 PM  

@Nancy, think you're confusing Marilu Henner with Mariette Hartley.

nick 2:02 PM  

Tough for me, too. So much junky trivia. And when jello shots shots a movie that's 10 years old are your most modern references, then you've lost my good will. Challenging but not much fun.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Can anyone tell me what a "Fox neighbor OTO" is? Google doesn't return anything searching those two words together. And I was going to say the same about "TOTE board" but I guess that's a thing...

Fred Romagnolo 2:30 PM  

I was 13 when the war ended (the BIG ONE, as Archy Bunker called it) so what a lot of you called "old-timey" is parvenu to me. So, not only do I agree that there were too many names, they were harder for me than they were for most of you folks. I had to look up HENNER and ANA, which was the only way I could complete this one. I actually took the BLUE LINE, as a visitor in 2013. Quibble: Triton's locale isn't NEPTUNE, but the vicinity of Neptune. Attorney General through nepotism isn't the same as president, so only one president's initials were used.

Airymom 3:03 PM  

I thought the puzzle was easy, so I was surprised to see Rex's rating. Only issue, the entire day I've been humming, "She wants to dance like Uma Thurman."

old timer 3:31 PM  

Fred, you're a *real* old-timer! I was 6 months old on VJ Day. And I envy anyone who got to listen to so much radio, when radio was king. I am, however, old enough to remember MOREY Amsterdam, and young to have seen ANA play, on TV.

I hated RFK when he was a crusading lawyer. For pretty much the same reasons I hated Nixon in that role, or McCarthy's lawyer (Cohn?). But I was glad when his brother appointed him Attorney General, and though I didn't vote for him in the California primary, I was ready to support him as the nominee, had he not been assassinated. He had been a very good Attorney General, I thought. And would have been a good President, and probably gotten us out of Vietnam before Nixon did. If you ever visit the Vietmam Wall in Washington, you are struck (or at least I was struck to the very heart) by the fact that on one side of the wall you have all those who died before Nixon was elected, and on the other side, those who died in the next few years. In what the Vietnamese quite understandably call the "American War" -- as important to them as World War II was to our generation.

Mohair Sam 3:32 PM  

To use my mother's vernacular: Anyone complaining about a puzzle featuring a cross of JIMINYCRICKET and PINOCCHIO is a pill. Take that Rex. In-between stuff my foot.

Played easy/medium here, probably because we're boomers and the nouns came a little easier for us. Liked the cluing a lot, especially for SHOTPAR and EYETEST. Thought Fussell's Mill was kind of a stand-off that led to a siege near Petersburg that led to The Crater. Know where the Anacostia is so RFK filled on a few letters, another nifty clue. MOREY Amsterdam and St. MARYS are a Boomer's revenge for the occasional obscure rap artist.

I'm fine with an AVESTA and a BLUELINE on a Saturday, as long as the crosses are fair - and they were.

Wonder if @Rex ever complained to Jon Stewart that his show ran in the evenings and never on weekends.

Actually laughed out loud when I saw the clue indicating that Cleese and Gere had played the same role. Laughed even harder when it filled. Cleese played the more entertaining LANCELOT for sure.

Terrific Saturday David J. Kahn, thanks.

Mohair Sam 3:36 PM  

@anon 2:27 - Think Native American tribes (I'm guessing I'm of 10 telling you this)

Lewis 3:43 PM  

@rex -- Your writeups have been on point and very enjoyable (that is, witty and smile producing) lately.

The top half fell quickly for me; the bottom half felt like a typical Saturday. Like @nancy, I'm not a fan of putting lots of proper names in a puzzle, but I didn't seem to notice them very much in this puzzle, so I'm guessing they were crossed fairly. The "half-ass pseudo-theme" seems more like icing on the cake to me, so I guess I see it as half-full rather than half-empty. BLUE LINE is too parochial an answer for a national crossword puzzle, IMO (and yet I'm okay with the NYC subway clues and answers because I know them!). No UNEASE or STRESS over this puzzle, I enjoyed the solve, and I've noticed that my nose hasn't grown any bigger after having said this.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

Avesta is reasonable. I put it in by itself. These puzzles are supposed to have hard things, otherwise what's the point? Morey Amsterdam I could only get by all the crosses, so that's balance. I liked this puzzle. I had genuine pleasure from the theme, which was plenty theme for me. Nice, and very very difficult. Exactly right. Yay.

Z 5:00 PM  

@aketi - Put your thumb and index on the screen and then spread them apart. The font (screen image, actually) will grow. Helps a lot.

@marcy - Are you up to the challenge of doing a Saturday xword? Why, yes, I am capable of finishing one.

@anon2:27 - Indian tribes. OTO, Utes, and Fox all make appearances, although Fox more often as a clue than an answer since it has other cluing options and that X.

Nancy 5:36 PM  

@Brett Maverick (1:43 pm) -- I laughed out loud when I read your post just now, back from the park on this unbelievably gorgeous December day. You are SO right. Of course, it was Mariette Hartley! So who the hell is Marilu HENNER and why on earth have I heard of her? And by the way, Brett, I had SUCH a crush on you back in the day. Did you even know I was alive?

@Marcy (1:25) -- No one so far has answered your question, so: Are you up to walking 10 miles a day? Are you capable of walking 10 miles a day? An accurate synonym, I'd say.

Masked and Anonymous 5:57 PM  

Yo, @Aketi darlin - yep. Autocorrect. har. U think U got problems typin up a comment? Try writin like I talk, sometime. I feel yer pain.

I have absolutely no problemo with PINOCCHIO crossin JIMINYCRICKET in this themeless SatPuz. What the hey -- how many degrees of separation are required between each two grid entries?? What about REDEAR and BLUELINE? Too colorful? PEP and SPICE? Too exciting? RAMADA INNOTIME? Too Irish?

Thanx for the brain aerobics, Mr. Kahn. Very good job. I have some 45's on the IRS label, btw.

Masked and Anonymo6Us


**gruntz**

Brett Hendrickson 6:25 PM  

Basically agreed with Rex, though as a religious studies professor, my first entry was "Avesta." Nice to feel that what I teach is not totally pointless--good occasionally for crosswords.

The Ridger, FCD 7:22 PM  

If you're up to the task you're capable of doing it.

The Ridger, FCD 7:25 PM  

"A la mode" literally means "after the fashion" or "in the style", so it's "in" as in trendy.

OISK 8:50 PM  

Liked it a lot. Right in my wheelhouse, and I guess I don't mind proper names when I have at least heard of them. A whole Saturday puzzle without even a single ?? after the fill. The "case" ten , in stud, for example, is the last possible ten. It is a ten drawn when there are already three tens showing.

Nancy and I really do have the same wheelhouse!. I liked Friday's as well. Pretty good week as far as I am concerned.

kitshef 11:21 PM  

@Nancy - Marilu Henner played Elaine Nardo in Taxi, though I don't know whether that's your association.

Pretty tough getting started. First pass on the acrosses yielded MaurY (for Amstersam - remembered name but not spelling), then ANA and ARMINIA, then RMN and I crossed tAMper instead of RAMROD, then FIB and BOOMERS. All of those petered out, so had to start on the downs. Finally got to SONAR, which gave JOETORRE, and it was off to the races. Only other overwrite was oahU.

Paws up for enjoying the mini-theme, rather than being miffed by it.

Uncle Moishy 11:54 AM  

Janet Yellin is a very modern reference.

ghkozen 12:09 PM  

Actually yes. My mom uses it regularly.

Uncle Moishy 12:24 PM  

@Anon 227pm:
A tote board is the electronic board that sits in the infield of a (horse)race track and displays the odds on the horses before the race is run and the order of finish and payoffs after the race. Yet another entry in this puzzle that skewed boomer-ish because horse racing, now pretty much dying, was extremely popular when it and church bingo were the only legal avenues through which to gamble outside of Nevada. At one point, thoroughbred racing claimed to have the highest attendance of any sport in the USA. A gimme for this 58-yo.

Elephant's Child 1:08 PM  

DUBIN reminded me RE DEAR ANA DUrBIN. Now that's old!!!

spacecraft 11:30 AM  

@Robso: If you're really a Jimi fan, then you surely know his last name was Hendrix, with an X, not "Hendricks."

Well, @rondo, no shortage of yeah babies today--and they intersect! You take UMATHURMAN (finally, the WHOLE name!) and I'll take SPICY redhead Marilu HENNER. How about a double date, girls? I'll leave @Burma Shave to work RAMROD into the picture.

Typical trouble-filled Saturday, especially when "Headed up" was LED for quite a while before I had to DUBIN RAN. More headaches in the SE with misUSES before one of my all-time favorite treats, ROLO, came to the rescue. Then the NE, by far the hardest. Gepgraphy not being my strong suit, I tried eRitreA as the Georgia neighbor. That might be close--or EVEN right--or mapophiles may be laughing in derision. I have no idea which. Finally cured it when I got (DUH!) JOETORRE. It's embarrassing how long it took me to come up with that one.

So, medium-challenging; maybe it should've been medium but for the mental block at 15-across. I do not share OFL's distaste (one of countless, it seems, distastes of HIS) for the "half-theme." It's fine; nothing wrong with it. Geez, Rex, take a pill. The grid is, I'll admit, a little name-y today, but as Boss Hadley said, "A little contraband here, but nothing to get in a twist about." B+.

tom gillespie 12:33 PM  

Lighten up,Rex! A tough puzzle but a fun solve...

Burma Shave 2:04 PM  

ELICIT ILLUSES

JIMINYCRICKET! INNOTIME and with MEAGER UNEASE and no STRESS,
MOREY RESUMES HIS snooping, when he passes HIS PRIVATE EYETEST.

--- JANET REDEAR


@spacey’s challenge accepted

OVERLAY

UMATHURMAN is an ARTSy, IFNOT CAPABLE, nine or tenner,
but that RAMROD SECT SCARES me when it’s with Marilu HENNER.

-- LANCELOT RAMADA

rain forest 3:17 PM  

Hoo boy! Challenging for me. At first I thought "here's a dnf, for sure". I put in my few gimmes: ANA, ACETEN, MOREY, SONAR, MARYS, and RAMROD, then stared a lot. It took courage to just 'try' EDEN, EVEN, BLEAT, and ARMENIA. Then the entire North gradually came together even though I have no idea who Marilu HENNER is.
The big central cross came next, and I was once again flummoxed for a long time, and put the puzzle aside for an hour.

Coming back to the challenge, I was able to get the SW, but the SE was essentially blank, except for STRESS (which I was feeling). The key was IF NOT, which gave the stadium and I went square by square to the finish.

This travelogue has come to you free of charge, btw, and I promise to not do it again, but I felt proud to solve this one which I obviously found way more challenging than most-up to the level I like a Saturday puzzle.

Way to go @Burma Shave, in completing a poem commissioned by @Spacey. You have a way with words while I..not..have ..way.

leftcoastTAM 4:29 PM  

Found this a surprisingly easy-medium Saturday--with walking away from it a couple of times and a few writeovers:

-radar before SONAR
-blame before BLEAT
-ped before PAS
-shames before SCARES

I thought I knew about sunfish, but RED EAR is an odd name and new to me. Also new is AVESTA.

Live, do puzzles, and learn, I guess. It would be nice to think that all this trivia will someday add up to something....



rondo 7:55 PM  

Well, I needed those names. First time through I had yeah baby Ms. HENNER crossing JOETORRE, a mis-spelled then over-written MaurY, MARYS, and money babe JANET giving me JELLO and not much more. BOOMERS kicked in and more or less from the SE to the NW it filled in. Only other write-over was pLEAd.

Yes @spacey, if they wanna double-date I’ll be the wingman and “settle” for UMATHURMAN in her completeness. It’s like choosing 1A or 1B, nobody loses. And 1C for tennis yeah baby ANA Ivanovic – it just keeps getting better. And this BOOMER’S CAPABLE of PRIVATE ILLUSES IFNOT more.

BLUELINE should probably have been clued as a hockey term. The only reason I penned it in (from ___ELINE) is that the light rail in the Twin Cities also has a BLUELINE.

This puz took the better part of an hour, so maybe I’m SLO, but I liked it.

Diana,LIW 8:17 PM  

Diana,LIW
Surprised myself with how much I could suss out, but eventually a truly big DNF for me. Oahu ruined the NW. Florida vs. Armenia stalled me for quite a while. Too many names nowhere near my wheelhouse. Need to buy a book of "sports names, today and yesterday." OTO, enjoyed much of the wordplay (when I could get a cross toehold).
Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for CrossWords

Cathy 8:26 PM  

Yikes! Knew I was in trouble when I had to google Pinocchio. Kept thinking about a real actor.

I've often been confused about "DAILY" shows. CONAN is on at night. I understand that daily means daily, but there is evening news?
Ah, I'm kidding myself. I didn't finish.

Yay for tommarrows Sunday:)

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