Roman consul who captured Syracuse in A.D. 211 / SAT 1-2-16 / Mass master in brief / Alternative to Goobers / Jamaican jerk chicken seasoning

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: none 

Notable crosswordese: 
  • ACERB (32A: Sharp) (like "acerbic," only ... with fewer syllables)
  • OCTAD (not OCTET, as you originally thought) (47D: Snow White and the dwarfs, e.g.)
  • SRO (49A: "Packed" letters) (stands for Standing Room Only)
  • ARIE (22A: Part of Die Fledermaus") (never seen this cluing before (German word for "aria," I presume); clue is usually [Singer India.___] or [Indy racer Luyendyk])
  • ANAS (8D: Santa ___ (weather phenomena)) (usu. seen in singular form)
Notable recent pop culture:
  • "American Dad" on TBS (40A: "American Dad!" airer)

Word of the Day: NESSES (19A: Promontories) —
noun
1.
  1. (archaic) a promontory or headland
  2. (capital as part of a name): Orford Ness (dictionary.com)

• • •


Another wickedly easy themeless to help us ring in the new year with a sense of power and accomplishment. Found this one both rougher and more interesting than yesterday's, but only slightly tougher. Saturday really should fight back more. I unlocked this one with YALE (wink!). I didn't go to YALE, but my cousins did, and my ex-girlfriend did, and the editor of the BuzzFeed crossword did, and on and on and on, and YALE is easily the most crossworded-about U. there is, so I know far more than I should about cheers and mascots and what not related to that place. "Light and truth"? Lux et veritas? Just hand me the answer, why don't you? Once I had YALE, KOALA was a cinch (15A: One with a pouch), as was I WILL. And so SKIN TIGHT went boom and then TBS and GRECO-, which made POWER GRAB go boom, and that NW corner was done inside 90 seconds or so. The only thing that gave me pause (and the pause was Considerable) was NESSES. Yeesh. That and ARIE were like shin-kicks of terribleness, especially brutal because the rest of the grid was really quite smooth. Anyway at the 2 min. mark I was here:


The potential Wow effect of HATERS GONNA HATE (37A: Message to critics) was significantly blunted by that same answer's having appeared in a NYT grid just six weeks or so ago. The answers I really noticed were ones that made me stumble a bit. I have never heard someone call a LEFT TURN a "Louie" (9D). I was thinking army ranks, Canadian coins (that's a 'loonie' actually) ... not turns. Not knowing that and not knowing ARIE made the NE by far the hardest section to get into and bring down. But even that wasn't too hard. I balked (and remain balking) at ADEN, YEMEN (62A: Where the U.S.S. Cole was attacked in 2000). I don't think you can just put any city, country pairing in a grid, or city, state, for that matter (I'm looking at you ERIE, PA ... what the hell other ERIE is there!?). But I recently put LUCKNOW, INDIA in a puzzle, so I probably shouldn't judge (in my defense, my answer was thematic, and thus had what I like to call "Thematic Dispensation").


Took me a while to figure out -EST and how it made sense, given the clue (21A: What most adjectives end in?). The "?" tells you some wordplay is afoot, so ... "most" here indicates superlative adjectives, e.g. "most" fat = fattEST, "most" tall = tallEST, etc.). Superlative adjectives end in -EST. I hope your New Year has been superlative. I will see you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. NYT's fact-checking appears to have been godawful today. MSN couldn't have "launched" Hotmail in 1996 since it didn't acquire Hotmail until 1997. And MARCELLUS captured Syracuse in 211 BC, not "A.D." World's Best Puzzle! (thanks to readers for pointing out these mistakes)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

77 comments:

jae 12:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me. SilentEST (not really sure that's a word) before STEADIEST was my only erasure.

@Rex NESSES also gave me a large pause (thinking DNF) but the crosses were solid. Strange word.

Bruce WILLIS was recently on Colbert and staged a very funny physical fight with the host.

Nice 15 and some very solid 9 stacks, liked it.

TomAz 12:11 AM  

MSN did not launch Hotmail. MSN acquired Hotmail on December 31, 1997, a full year and a half after its launch.

Unusual to find such a blatant factual error in the NYT xword.

Carola 12:20 AM  

Pleasantly challenging for me, was happy to finish.  I worked my way outward from ADAGES, the G being enough to remind me of the previous crossword's HATERS GONNA HATE.  
Apart from the NW, which yielded relatively quickly, each corner gave me something to rassle with.  In the SW, I struggled to place the USS Cole in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Yemen, or Arabian Sea; for a while, Snow White did indeed belong to an OCTet, and my chocolate with RItter.  
In the SE, I had to piece together the unknown-to-me MARCELLUS, WILLIS, and NILES and disabuse myself of the notion that the red menace had something to do with roSES.  
In the NE, I confidently wrote in Obama's mother's name as Sue: in addition to leaving me SHAMEFACED, that was effective at keeping me from seeing AVALANCHE, NINE HOLES, and NBA for a crossword eon.  Last in: ESSEX (which went in and out a half-dozen times) x ARIE, when I realized that German was needed.

Great cluing, I thought.  My favorites were those for SWIM (nice cross with DIVE) and JS BACH.  I liked the little joke of the EST adjective ending reappearing in STEADIEST.

kozmikvoid 12:20 AM  

I found this to be one of the most enjoyable weekend solves in quite some time. Granted it was probably a bit on the Friday side, but I thought the fill was solid. I still don't know what ARIE or CARET are from the clues, but they were obtainable from the crosses so I don't care. NONAME again, which wasn't great, but I thought the SE was fantastic. I didn't struggle much in the NE mostly because the downs were simple-ish and the NBAFINALS came to me quickly. NINEHOLES was clever. I have heard of a uie and a louie, but I was stuck trying to connect the clue to the Louis CK show...-URN made it impossible so I gave up and realized LEFTTURN shortly thereafter. I finished in the SW, though looking back it certainly doesn't seem the hardest. I thought of TAKEADIVE right away but didn't see immediate crosses so left it for the end. My only true lament is that 52A wasn't clued as a reference to the late, great Hunter S Thompson. Seemed like a perfect opportunity for a Fear and Loathing monogram clue. Other than that, I feel like an early bar was set for 2016 with this puzzle. Kudos.

Austin 12:49 AM  

luckily my dad taught me "Ralph" and "Louie" for right and left turns.

this was my fastest Saturday. good puz. only real hangup was putting TIGHTKNIT in at 1D for a bit.

Sian 1:33 AM  

Easy my a$$! Took me an hour. One day I'll discover I've solved a Challenging one - come on Rex, please cut us some slack once in a while!

George Barany 2:50 AM  

An extraterrestrial visitor, upon inspecting the first two New York Times crossword offerings of 2016, might justifiably conclude that they are all written by young Californian men named David.

I'll agree with @Rex's "easy" rating ... never even noticed NESSES enough to be bothered by it, but do appreciate the explanation of how the EST answer works. The latter was a headscratcher even after I figured out the two ?? in LEF??URN [click here for the Urban dictionary definition; not one I've ever heard before].

We've used a variation of the ARIE concept before (see 36-Across), and I suppose that Die Fledermaus is as good an example as any of a German opera, especially given its association with New Year's Day festivities [link is to the famous overture, but here is another one to an aria, sung in English translation; start at 1:38].

I thought the clue for STEADIEST (hey, that ends in EST!) was very clever; ditto for NET_LOSSES, though it might have been amusing to refer to the 2009 professional basketball team that started their season with 18 consecutive defeats.

Anonymous 3:21 AM  

When I got my licence in the early 80's, hang a louie or take a louie was very common, just as uie was

Anonymous 4:07 AM  

Most frequently as in the phrase "hang a Louie."

Dolgo 4:08 AM  

Some of these clues are really getting pretty far out there! Can't we get back to challenging knowledge instead of just trying to throw everyone off by really obscure plays on words?

Charles Flaster 4:17 AM  

Liked this EZ one and also agree with Rex.
Write overs were STEADIEST for STEADfaST and TJMAXX for Target which really slowed me down .
Enjoyed cluing for STEADIEST, HAIRLINE, AVALANCHE and VIBES.
Clue for TESTS needs a plural.
ADEN, YEMEN was tough to suss out!
Thanks DP

GILL I. 7:06 AM  

I don't understand STEALIEST for still the most? and I never heard of NESSES nor ARIE and I thought Elihu was all about YALE. WILLIS and NILES were not ready to pop into my head and neither did MARCELLUS so guess what?...a big DNF for me. That usually happens anyway on a Sat. but I usually like to dance a samba or two when I get the right answers.
I WILL WILLIS TAKE A DIVE A DEN YE MEN YEN...

Z 7:06 AM  

Wanted "Stanley" when I read the Dunham clue, but not enough letters. This was more medium for me, mostly due to a couple of errors, sOs before TOE and Target before TJ MAXX. Not knowing anything about MARCELLUS other than the show-offy -ELLUS ruins a perfectly good name didn't help, either. My going "fish of some sort" on the "surf" clue meant I wasn't going to finish the NW in 2 minutes. Still, a fine solve.

Many echoed support for @Diana, Lady-in-Waiting. I think today's puzzle supports the counter argument. WILLIS? I didn't even realize it was Bruce until this second, let alone remembered that he co-starred on that 1987 rom-dram. I'm sure some here will have popped it right in, but culturally memorable? Fo shizzle not. The "American Dad" clue was easier to suss out not because I watch it (I don't) but because I finished off the letter string -IGH- with a T and the plural at 3D suggest a B between T-S. Actually knowing the pop culture makes the solve easier, but isn't really necessary, any more than I need to know anything about Die Fledermaus to pop in ARIa. As for MARCELLUS, I'm as likely to know the Michigan village as one of the seemingly innumerable Marcus Gaius MARCELLUSes. Yet, I got it, filling in the middle ELL because it looks right.

Which points out the only real pop culture reference I ever find uncrossworthy, Rapper names. These are often intentionally spelt non-conventionally. This is fine for the art, but makes their names largely uninferable. It's bad enough when one has to guess a vowel, but when the unknown letter could be any of the 26?

xwordnut 8:03 AM  

SE slowed me down I give it a medium, agree its a nice puzzle can't buy easy

Jonathan Alexander 8:03 AM  

When I got my license in the early 90s we used "Louie", "Uie", and "Ralph" to describe left, u and right turns, so that cluing is fair game IMO (although my brain was stuck on the comedian/tv show so it needed the -URN part for me to figure it out). Easy overall puzzle, got SKINTIGHT and KOALA right off the batt at finished the NW in about 90 sec and swept down into the SE. NESSES was a ugh prompting moment along w ARIE but overall a really smooth, if not too easy Saturday.

Emma Mellinger 8:06 AM  

According to Wikipedia, Marcellus took Syracuse in BC 212, not AD 212. Anyone else scratching their heads over this?

Greg Winton 8:08 AM  

There were two today. Syracuse was captured in 211 BC, not AD (34D).

Z 8:19 AM  

Doncha just hate it when you see your posted comment and two typos leap out at you like flashing neon lights?

@Gill I. - STEADIEST make more sense? Or was it like my TOE?

@Sian - ratings are relative. I've moved from "easy Saturday" means I finished to I've broken 22 minutes. No need to shoot the messenger. Keep plugging away. What will really make your day is when you come here expecting "easy" and see "challenging." There will be one that is in your wheelhouse that gives OFL fits.

@Dolgo - As one who will, on occasion, rant against trivial trivia, let me say, "Don't be that guy." Word play wins over Roman consuls in my world.

Loren Muse Smith 8:28 AM  

@Austin -on the way home from North Carolina the other day, my husband told my daughter to "hang a Louie," and she had no idea what he meant. So we taught her our stalwart "hang a Louie" and "bag a Ralph."

ESSEX – the beginning and end of spandex. Has Richard Simmons moved to ADEN YEMEN?

My first three entries boom boom boom were GRECO, TORQUE, and ALL SPICE. I once tried to make this Chicken Souse I had in the Bahamas and misread the recipe, putting in a full cup of ALL SPICE rather than the one TBS. Talk about your RUNS. Sheesh.

Why does everyone have to say it was easy for a Saturday? I blew though this one like a bat out of hell and concluded that it was still beastly hard but that I'm just getting really, really good. Right. Reminds me of the time Mom complained in Cherry Grove, NC that the mirror in the dressing room was a trick mirror that made us look thinner in our suits. I told Dad that it was the first &^%$ mirror I had encountered that gave a true reflection.

NILES is always "Nigel" first. Both guys in my mind know how to tie a proper Windsor knot and never, ever use a tie bar or tie tac. And they manage to say, "shed*joo*ul" without seeming all sanctimonious and stuck up.

I laughed at POSIES crossing PASTA. Both kids are on this health kick, and I swear since they've been home, we've bought almond flour, buckwheat flour, bulgur, food-grade flea killer, chia seeds, quinoa pasta, naked quinoa, and ethical chicken that has fed on only quinoa and spelt scones. Next, probably, is to seek out posy pasta. We'll serve it with SPRAYS of IGNITED HAY.

David Phillips – smooth puzzle with four impressive triple nine stacks, ADEN YEMEN nothwithstanding.

Smitty 8:40 AM  

Easy except the parts where it wasn't... Cluing was clever and I liked this one a lot. Ribbons and shells PASTA was an aha moment.

@Austin, I learned it LOUIE for left, ROSCOE for right. Another aha moment.

seastate5 8:48 AM  

Not sure if this was present in the print version, but the iPad version is clued incorrectly. Syracuse was captured in 211 BCE, not 211 AD. The Roman Republic still existed, so the consuls, who had real power, were credited with victories. By 211 AD, the Empire had struck, and consuls were mere honorary titles.
As an aside, the capture of Syracuse was also marked by the murder of Archimedes by Roman soldiers, in rather cold blood.

jackj 9:01 AM  

YALE may be "the most cross worded-about U" at 319, (total of Shotz era, variety and pre-Shortz era cluings per XwordInfo), with ELON the apparent runner-up at 239 uses, but for schools, none comes close to ETON at 776 uses.

NCA President 9:01 AM  

@GILL I.: I'm sure there will be a dangerous fall of replies to your post, but the answer is STEADIEST with a D, so that "Anothe attempt" (50A) is REDO...not RElO. I actually had the same problem and I caught it when rescanning the grid after I got it completed. A "relo" is, I guess, another attempt at a job or a house or a place to see a movie in a theater.

This puzzle reminded me a lot of what would happen if, say, a small group of fighter planes tried to take out a planetary destruction device located deep inside of a planet. There would, for instance, be a struggle at first, then an explosion here and there, and then, after an heroic, if not accidental effort, a tipping point would be reached and a lone fighter would find his way into the breach and blow up critical spots with impunity. And in the aftermath, the planet..er, puzzle...would begin to cave in and finally explode like a, I don't know, sun. That's what this puzzle reminded me of.

It started in the bottom and gradually worked it's way to the top. Where there were no answers before, suddenly they just appeared one after the other.

What is weird is that it started with two of the worst entries: STASHAWAY and ADENYEMEN. Stash away sounds like a quote from "The Night Before Christmas" and Aden, Yemen sounds like someone I might have gone to school with.

TESTS was so obvious I put it off for a long time. Does ARIE sing arias?

Pretty easy relative to other Saturdays, as my time showed. I think I liked this one better than yesterday's puzzle.

Teedmn 9:10 AM  

This took longer than 'easy' for me but it felt easy. I had a few hang-ups which turned it into a half hour solve. The NW filled in after RAISINETS and GRECO went in and ANN made the NE easy also. I was leery of entering HATERS GONNA HATE since it was seen so recently but I bowed to the obvious and it gave me HAIRLINE.

My little hole in the center due to not knowing what a "Louie" was and having nOS for COS was finally filled after I got 55D and guessed JS BACH. But a good percentage of my time today was caused by my absolute certainty that the Crane brother's name was NIgEl. With sLES on the end of 37D, I could only picture 'Red menaces' as having to do with measLES. I finally crossed out the g and l of NIgEl and fixed everything there, finishing up with the SW.

I really liked the clue 'Still the most?' for STEADIEST and the ambiguity of 'Travel like a ray' where I debated if it could be a solar ray or not. The HAY horse course got an eye roll from me and seeing TORQUE was fun.

Thanks, David Phillips. (And thanks, @George Barany, for the idea that visiting ETs would be checking out the crossword puzzle first) :-).

phil phil 9:25 AM  

Why shouldn't the answer to the county in N.J. be an abbr.

The Santa Ana winds, a weather phenomena, are often referred to as The Santa Anas. So i don't know what Rex is talking about. The clue wasnt referring to a county or region but a weather phenomena?

Also
Bobbalouie and ruby was what i learned in my youth.

Lynn 9:25 AM  

Wasn't there another factual error in this one, too? Didn't Marcellus capture Syracuse in 211 B.C.--not A.D.?

Sargetron 10:19 AM  

Dolgo, I respectfully disagree. The obscure, clever wordplay is what makes the NYT puzzles so great! Try doing a Chi Trib puzzle and you'll be bored to death!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:22 AM  

Nice, easy Saturday.

I was going to note the appearance two days in a row of the same six-letter entry, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers, not name it, but it has already been done, so please forget it.

Laurence Katz 10:54 AM  

Not easy. "Arie." "Octad." "Stave." "Nesses." "Caret." "AdenYemen."
I died in the southwest.

Questinia 11:16 AM  

Alas the raison d'etres of RAISoNETS.

kitshef 11:35 AM  

Very hard getting started, but fell quickly once I got going.

Started with SPume, quickly corrected thanks to RAISINETS. Congratulation ,Madison Avenue - your jingle sticks with me four decades later. Then, nothing until MSN, which gave me no crosses. Finally got going with WILLIS-HAIRLINE-NILES, then home free.

NESSES is ridiculous, but fairly crossed. Other than SPray, only other overwrites were Ymca before YALE and anitA before CLARA.

Really a nice puzzle. The junk answers are nicely clued (SRO, HST, HAY), and 15 of 17 long answers and many mediums are solid (but STASHAWAY and ADENYEMEN not so hot).

LOUIE and rooey for left and right.

GILL I. 11:42 AM  

@Z...It was like your TOE!
@NCA President. Thanks also. RElO kinda makes sense, no?
@Loren. Coffee out the nose syndrone. You CANNOT imagine what I pictured seeing an ethical chicken eating spelt scones.
Well, I just had to look up when that MARCELLUS dude captured Syracuse and I got 214 B.C. Gadzooks there sure are a lot of smart folks here. How on earth do you remember those A.D or B.C. dates?
I have never heard the expression Louie nor Ralph. Why those two names?

Chuck McGregor 11:42 AM  

Not much to say today as I’ve a rehearsal for a choral concert shortly. Of course I will be playing BASS (@ yesterday) with my scores all being written in the F-CLEF (@yesterday) which (as I have mentioned) is also my license plate “number.” Sadly, there is no J.S. BACH in the program.

The puzzle was hard, but I liked it a lot. After finishing with some cheats I could see that it should not have been hard, so that’s on me!

In the NW I had “Kanga” for KOALA (I know, why?), “incited” for IGNITED, and thought “Surf stuff” meant something about roaming the Internet. This led to some cheats as did having squat to get me going in the SW. I wanted “headfirst” for 6a and somehow “ninety seconds” (boxing round) for 16a. And so it went.

Most people who stay in these parts for the summer own their own “cottages,” (A cottage in Maine means it’s a 3-season place.) Summer rentals being in the vicinity of $1,000 per week doesn’t attract too many “in town for the summer” folks!

Time to SHAKE a leg, TAKEADIVE into the shower, make a LEFTURN out of the driveway for the TRIP to my rehearsal, and hope I will have IGNITED some “good” musical VIBES..

Cheers


Tita 11:46 AM  

Ha ha, @Dolgo - one man's poison...
I do puzzles precisely for hte word play (like CARET), and am completely uninterested in the trivia-fest that lots of pop culture (I'm lookin' at you, NILES) can bring, though I do enjoy feeling terribly superior for the millimeter-deep knowledge that lets me confidently throw in MARCELLUS.

Now the knowledge that made TORQUE a gimme on the misdirect for Force on a nut happens to be at least a foot-and-a-half deep, so genuine automotive superiority on display there...

And as for STAVE - once. not that long ago, existed the Cape Cod Cooperage. They were barrel and bucket makers. After people starting taking defective STAVES, unsuitable for waterproof barrel-building, and painting scenes on them, together with the downward-spiraling demand for handmade barrels, began making STAVEs purely to sell for crafts.
Everyone who knows my mother has at least one STAVE with a painted scene on it. Had my mom been a whaler, she would have been the most prolific scrimshawer ever. If you stand still long enough within a brush's length of her, you are likely to wind up painted.

Thanks for a quick struggle, Mr. Philips. Starting the New Year with a Friday and Saturday I can complete is awesome!

Lewis 11:54 AM  

Line four -- NESSES EST ARIE! -- looks just right for "Happy New Year!" in some language I don't know.

@rex -- Lots of smile-inducing wit in your writeup. It's one of the reasons I read your blog.

I love that NW vertical stack with SKINTIGHT, POWERGRAB, and RAISINETS. It's SE cousin is as drab as it is lively. Great clues for HAIRLINE, JSBACH, CARET, PASTA, and EST, and excellent answers as well: SKINTIGHT, TORQUE, POWERGRAB, AVALANCHE, TAKEADIVE, NONAME, and HATERSGONNAHATE. On the easier side of Saturday, but still plenty of bite, and lovely cluing and answers made this solve a pleasure. Isn't that the bottom line of how good a puzzle is?

And, a day late, wishing all... NESSES EST ARIE!

Ludyjynn 12:15 PM  

Marshalls, TJMAXX and HomeGoods are my shopping holy trinity. I never set foot in Kohl's. This morning, as I checked out with all my discounted Valentine's gifts at TJ Maxx, I asked the cashier if Kohl's is "competition" and she laughed derisively. Me too.

@Z, I bet you remember the name of WILLIS' female "Moonlighting" co-star. She still looks pretty fabulous, BTW, despite denying having had any plastic surgery.

This was my easiest Sat. solve ever UNTIL I hit a wall in the SW quad. I fell into the OCTet trap and had 'oil' for YEN for way too long. I also had trouble with STASHAWAY because if you watch any of those train wreck hoarding tv shows, those folks do not put their stuff away. Rather, the crap takes over their whole home and destroys relationships. However, the answer has motivated me to finish packing up the last of the Chanukah decorations into Rubbermaid tubs in the spare bedroom. OTOH, maybe not! I'll just shut the door.

Best clue: plugs can move it forward.

Thanks, DP and WS.

gpo 12:18 PM  


This was pretty easy for me except for the SW, where OCTet for OCTAD had me stymied for a while.

I actually had two cross-outs today, wanting AlERt instead of ACERB so badly that I spent several minutes wondering what kind of facial hair a JStACH was (does it improve your chance of connecting on JDate?) and what it has to do with Mass.

gpo



Z 12:18 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - Cute. Reminds me of America.

Speaking of yesterday, what was I saying about trying to catch Shortz in an actual error? And today he blesses us with two. Two!

Doc John 12:22 PM  

Also the fact that "final" was both in a clue and and answer.

old timer 12:24 PM  

OFL not only reads the early answers on this blog, he sometimes uses them to make a correction or two. Well done, @Rex!

I always say, to do well on the NYT puzzle, it really helps to be fluent in French, to have at least a tourist's knowledge of Spanish and German, and to know enough Italian to read signs and notices while walking through Rome or Florence. And the first thing you pick up in Italy is that masculine nouns ending in o have their plurals in i, and feminine nouns ending in a have their plurals in e. "lira", the old unit of currency, becomes "lire", hence more than one aria is ARIE. (How old am I? When I first went to Rome at the age of 19, a Coke was 100 lire or 16 cents American. So was a beer, but the wine was better (and cheaper), as was the coffee.

The whole W side of the puzzle was Easy. The only writeover there was OCTAD for my original "octet", and I got that because ADEN YEMEN. I thought that was a great answer, one designed to knock us seniors for a loop, because when we were young, YEMEN was a country and ADEN a British crown colony. They became a single country relatively recently, and with disastrous results.

In the SE, I wanted "final" for TESTS, had to Google for NILES Crane, and was very grateful for CARET to give me NET LOSSES, thus confirming that WILLIS was correct. In the NE, I decided, correctly, that every five-letter completion of "Santa" is CLARA in a NYT puzzle. Since I remembered that when I was in college, I hung many a Louie, and knew ANN was the mother of Barack, I finally figured out that the June sporting event involved a basketball tourney and not a horse race.

P.S. Nice story about ALLSPICE, LMS, but I don't believe you added a whole cup of that spice to your recipe. Few people even *have* a whole cup of ALLSPICE in their kitchen. I bet you added a tbsp instead of a tsp.

muskox 12:32 PM  

Second Punic War, definitely before the time of the Caesars. Also "master of masses" is a poor clue for J S BACH. He wrote only one well-known Mass (Lutheran church, not Catholic!). "Master of passions" much better, since he wrote four (though only two survive), all genre-defining!

muskox 12:48 PM  

Fled remains is actually the Met broadcast opera for today. Coincidence? Or conspiracy?

Mohair Sam 1:10 PM  

Jeez @Rex, we were hoping you'd do us the favor of calling this one medium or maybe easy/medium so we could feel smart on just one Saturday. We found the NW, your meat, the tough part of the puzzle - YALE being unknown to us. Yeah, we've got our YALE connections too (we've dined with friends at the YALE club in Manhattan about once a year for the past few decades - wonderful place, btw), but who the hell looks at the walls and reads the motto?

We had AlERt for ACERB (just as good an answer) which gave us JStACH, so we thought we had discovered a new mustachioed rap artist for a while. Big chuckle when we corrected to BACH.

@Z - There's a MARCELLUS in Upstate NY too, not far from Syracuse - kind of a podunk but famous for caskets; and I think maybe it's the source of the name "Marcellus Shale" for all the friggin' frackin' going on in the East, but not in New York. Go figure.

@Z(II) - Well spoken counter-argument, I couldn't agree more. The logic of the Diana, LIW crowd escapes me. The world changes folks, keep up - and if you can't keep up hope the crosses are fair. I know I do.

Is HATERSGONNAHATE becoming crosswordese?

Music Man 1:41 PM  

I hang Louie's all the time, just so you know :)

And wasn't it 214-212 B.C.?

Lewis 1:43 PM  

@jackj -- Good to see you! I miss your insight here...

Numinous 1:45 PM  

One mystery got solved, by Rex, before I got around to looking it up. I was puzzled by the notion that a consul could do anything militarily in the third century A. D..

I had a hard time remembering T J MAXX in spite of the fact that there used to be one in the same shopping center as KOHL'S, right up the street from us.

ADEN, YEMEN is fair, I guess, but it just looks so awkward. WILLIS went in right away but NILES eluded me for the longest time. I never watched that show anyway, it just wasn't on my "she-joo-ul". When I lived in Los Angeles, the Santa ANAS were unpleasant. A hot wind blowing in off the desert to the east, very oppressive. Santa CLARA always gets to me because I used to live in Santa CLARita, to the north and a little bit east of LA. SKIN TIGHT and KOALA were the first entries for me. I should have known that the rest wasn't going to be that easy but I still finished in a decent time.

Nice to see the puzzle youth leading of the New Year!

Z 2:12 PM  

@Ludyjynn - Who is Kathleen Turner? If that's not right, oh well. I absolutely refuse to google it. I've already crowded the storage unit with Marcus Gaius MARCELLUS, that's enough for one day.

@Mohair Sam - MARCELLUS is near Syracuse? I've heard that visiting upstate New York can be like going back in time, but I was thinking they meant the 1800s, not 211 BCE.

Fred Romagnolo 2:47 PM  

Santa Anita has another 5-letter word following Santa. The Syracuse clue was really shameful, but crossings made it obvious (even if WRONG). NESSES is too archaic to be fair. Saturdays should be hard, but not an opportunity for the puzzle-maker to show off his (her) esotericism. @Oldtimer has it exactly right on Italian plurals, ARIE is the plural. I'm not aware of any TJMAXX stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the provincialism of NYT crosswords has been remarked upon.

Wednesday's Child 3:09 PM  

Was raised in the Santa Anas of California but now live in the Chinooks of Alberta. Local climate is always a wondrous thing.

POSIES seems awkward. I think of arrangements and bouquets but not posies. Is this a regional expression?

SKINTIGHT looks good on some, baggy looks better on most.

DNF but fun.

OISK 4:00 PM  

Despite several visits to Germany, did not recall "Riesen" Immediately wrote Ritter, since I had the RI. Ritter Sport is very popular. Riesen??? OK, I fixed it. Knowing German did help with "Arie," as did knowing that the county could not be essax.

Thought this was a suitable Saturday, perhaps a touch easier than usual, but fair, and solvable.

I really dislike the phrase "Hatersgonnahate." It is used to discredit perfectly reasonable opinions.

AliasZ 4:05 PM  


Short of David Phillips's marquee grid spanner, I liked this puzzle. That center 15 was like a smeared dead bug on a pristine windshield. Call me a hater, but I hated that entry when I saw it a little over a month ago, and I hate it even more today. An ugly phrase that is commonly used and over/mis-used not a desirable crossword entry makes. Will, can you please not allow any more occurrences of this hateful phrase again? Thank you.

My first entries were ESSEX and TORQUE and the grid filled itself pretty smoothly thereafter.
Hang a louie, or hock a louie -- I can never remember which is which.
Favorite entries: POWER GRAB, MARCELLUS, TAKE A DIVE, HAIRLINE and SKINTIGHT.
But NONAME two days in a row and ADE NYE MEN were unfortunate.

J.S. BACH is always a welcome sight. Let me pay it forward by offering his Cantata for the first Sunday of the New Year.

Happy New Year to all.

jae 5:11 PM  

@Z & Mohair - I'm with you on keeping up or at the minimum hoping for fair crosses. The puzzles would be pretty boring with out a reasonable sampling of current culture. Plus, how else are you going to attract the next generation of solvers? Does it really take that much time to read the entertainment section of what ever medium you use to stay informed?

Ludyjynn 5:33 PM  

@Z, nice try. I'm disappointed you don't recall Cybill Shepherd, who won 2 Golden Globes for "Moonlighting" and another for her follow up tv show, "Cybill" (opposite the always wonderful Chirstine Baranski). Apparently, she and WILLIS loathed each other by the end of production, which she addressed in her autobiography, which BTW is very juicy reading.

@Wed.Child, POSIES is from England and is used in America (at least the East Coast) as well. Colonial Williamsburg even sells a needlework pillow depicting "posies". I learned the word as a child via the nursery rhyme: Ring around the rosie, pocketful of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down. The rhyme has several conflicting attributions, definitions and wordings, discussed in detail on Wikipedia if you're interested.

Chaos344 5:36 PM  





Great puzzle. I'm with Rex and George Barany as to the difficulty factor. Both today and yesterday seemed like tough Thursday level puzzles, sans the usual Thursday gimmickry.

@dolgo: I'm with you for the most part amigo. I've been following the ongoing conversation started by @Diana-Lady In Waiting, vis-a-vis the contentious issue of pop-culture cluing. I'm strongly in her camp! Eugene Maleska would be spinning in his grave if he could see what passes for the current cluing and fill at the NYT crossword. Yes, I know that much of the knowledge gleaned from puzzles of the Maleska era was arcane or of little use in every day speech. After all, who among us would ever refer to common ants as pismires or emmets? Still, I'd rather have that knowledge than knowing the name of Eazye, Kanye, or Marshall Bruce Mathers III. The Thin Man debuted in 1934, but I didn't see that many complaints about the recent NORA Charles fill? What about Asta or Fala, and who doesn't know the name of Beaver's brother? Also, a quick perusal of the Wiki entry for the TV show Moonlighting will reveal the significant milestones it achieved. Let's see who remembers the aforementioned rappers 82 years from now! As a matter of fact, go to any current high school senior and ask him or her who Marshall Bruce Mathers III is? I'll bet most would give you a blank stare!

Having said all that, I used to always look forward to learning something from late week puzzles. That doesn't happen too often anymore, but today, one of my last fills was nesses. So, I learned that a ness is a promontory. Without looking it up right at this moment, I'm guessing it is safe to assume that Loch Ness derives its name from that definition. If so, I'm just Wuthering weather it is also safe to assume that Eliot Ness is akin to Penistone Crag? If Eliot Ness in Untouchable, then perhaps Penistone Crag is equally "hard" to access?

@LMS on your early WP post:
A big smile at your perceived self-deprecating image as a musher. A hearty laugh at admitting your dogs can't distinguish a LOUIE from a HAW. Haws aren't always that easy to recognize. In certain breeds of dogs, (and cats) they appear as a third eyelid. In the human species Haws are usually identified by 5 inch stiletto heels and mini-skirts, but that's a discussion for another time. Also, thanks for the great link to Cookerly.com. The neologisms were priceless. My favorite was the severe affliction known as Osteopornosis, but then you probably suspected that, right?

@LMS in regard to your late post at Rexs' yesterday:

"@Chaos – it wasn't too long ago that we had some people who delighted in pointing out our grammar/usage transgressions." [End Quote.]

Au contraire mon petit papillion! No one hates the grammar Nazis more than moi! I would never deign to denigrate someone who used "it's" in lieu of "its", or "your" instead of "you're." If you're referring to my recent comment about a certain lady who posted that she "had sex from the bottom up" before solving, or made a similar comment in that regard, you are comparing apples and oranges. I specifically used the word "egregious" when opining that only the most blatant grammatical errors should be pointed out. I commented on the post in question only because I considered it a true Freudian slip worthy of eliciting a humorous response. There was also the omission of a key word that changed the context and potential interpretation of the whole post. It wasn't my intent to cast aspersions on the poster. If she was like-minded, she would have laughed at my observations as well? Capisce?

Numinous 6:18 PM  

@Fred, there are at least seven in the SF Bay Area including Daly City and on Harrison in SF.

Norm 6:25 PM  

I have to come to the defense of NESSES. It's a tad archaic, but derives from good old Middle English, and I doubt many of you use BRAE or words of that ILK in your daily speech either.

Numinous 6:28 PM  

While ARIE may be Italian for arias, I feel the need to point out, repetitively, that since Der Fledermaus is an opera in German, it contains at least one ARIE (German for aria).

weingolb 6:51 PM  

While trivia is not the way to go, @dolgo makes a point. Clues like "Dangerous fall" sound like someone literally translating AVALANCHES into English from a foreign language. Not ideal. Clues can be challenging without being intentionally awkward.

On that note, "Good or bad things to pick up" is a bit better. But if you want VIBES as your answer, it seems to try too hard. That's my sense, maybe @dolgo's too.

Other clues were brilliant. But then NESSES in the solution takes it down another notch.

@phil phil - I'd say that some abbreviations in the cluing are just standard style: U.S.S. Cole clue and the (incorrect) A.D. clue don't signal an abbreviated answer. I guess N.J. might be harder to identify as normal style. Might be a tricky one.

Chaos344 7:35 PM  

Just getting around to reading the second postings approved by OFL. I started my original post nearly 5 hours ago, but between all the interruptions and the tide, (which waits for no man) I'm just catching up. The late afternoon produced two fat black ducks, a handsome drake mallard, and one hen gadwall. I shall ear heartily next week!

Having said all that, let me comment on one or two of the later posts:

@Chuck McGregor:

$1000.00 a week? That's chickenfeed! Try renting anything bigger than an outhouse in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York for less than $5000.00 a week from Memorial Day to Labor day! True indigenous locals call the influx of summer Manhattan dwellers, Citidiots! They are rude,and they can't drive an automobile worth a f**k! The cost of their vehicle does not equate to their driving proficiency! You will never find a more more self-absorbed, arrogant, self-perceived privileged class of people in America, except perhaps in Hollywood?

@Tita: Great post!





kitshef 8:12 PM  

@Z 2:21pm: Cybill Shepherd (lucky for me, I blanked on her name at the time).

LindaPRmaven 9:06 PM  

The west fell fast but the east was a struggle. Easy-challenging schizo here. Bracing end to a breezy crossword week.

old timer 9:19 PM  

Thanks, @Numinous for the German explanation for "ARIE".

And double thanks to @AliasZ for providing such a lovely piece by JSBACH. I bet I am not the only regular on this blog who goes back and back during the afternoon and evening to see what gems have cropped up. And Mr Z's musical contributions are at the top of my personal list.

Now I will sign off for the night, having had a modest supper of brown California rice, with a lovely and large piece of baked chicken from Mary's Chicken -- and of course a glass or two of Sonoma County wine. There are some advantages to living in Northern California -- the disadvantage being I am 3 hours behind a lot of you.

Nancy 11:53 PM  

I found this very hard, but maybe because I was having someone over for dinner and was doing food prep most of the day. (You notice I said food prep, not cooking, but serious food prep takes me as much time as actual cooking does other people.) Oh yes, the puzzle. I almost gave up just now, but kept at it and ended up solving. What, pray tell are NESSES? Had to change NIGEL to NILES. Had to change CHUCK to SHAKE. But my biggest question is this:

WHY WOULD ANYONE CALL A LEFT TURN A "LOUIE"? Or a right turn a "Ralph," as two of you pointed out. Isn't fast reaction time really, really important when you're behind the wheel? Why have cutsie terminology you have to think about, rather than a simple word like LEFT or RIGHT that you can react to automatically? I don't want to be anywhere near you LOUIE/RALPH people on the highway, thank you very much.

I'm sure this would have been much easier if I'd been focused on it all day. But I wasn't focused until just now. And now it's time forime for bed. Good night, everyone.

Daniel Whitney Smith 3:08 AM  

I'm glad you claim this puzzle is 'easy', even with its factual errors. I'm an intermediate crossword solver, and it took me at least 3 hours—on amd off—to solve it.

Daniel Whitney Smith 3:11 AM  

Wow! I'm glad I'm not the only one who misremembered Fraiser's brother as 'Nigel'. That mistake caused me the most delay on solving this puzzle. I figured 'netlosses' had to be 36-down but struggled to reconcile it with the rest of the lower-right quadrant.

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

Am I really the only one who disputes "Mass Master" as an accurate definition for J. Sebastian Bach? A master of something by definition implies that he did that thing repeatedly at a high level of skill. JS Bach composed one mass - millions of other works, but one mass. How does that qualify him to be described as a "Mass Master"? Sure it's a masterpiece, but that describes everything he ever wrote. Why not "trio master" or "prelude master" or "solo cello master" or any of a million other ways? (Best would be "cantata master, he composed over two hundred of them.) Completely inaccurate definition because it implies that he specialized in composing masses, which is insane. Giovanni Palestrina yes, Josquin des Prez yes (although he also composed great secular music too). I'm having difficulty thinking of any composer who is best known for his masses. Victoria and Byrd also composed great motets and liturgical music; Mozart composed operas, songs, concertos and chamber music though his masses are pretty good. You see my issue? By this idiotic definition, anybody who ever composed a great mass would suit the answer in this puzzle just as well as JS Bach -- say, Guillaume Machaut (1 mass), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1 mass), Igor Stravinsky ( 1 mass), just to name a few. Awful awful clue, unless the answer is "Palestrina", the only famous composer I can think of who is known primarily for his masses.

BobWhite 7:39 AM  

Take a Louie, take a Ralph
Common directions growing up on Cape Cod in seventies and eighties

spacecraft 10:48 AM  

I really don't like the expression spanning the grid today. That's not to say I "HATE" it; I just think it's stupid and negative. And this is not the first time I've encountered it. Please, constructors, don't turn it into another one of your cliche ADAGES.

Someone must have said to today's contributor. "Bet you can't fit TJMAXX into a puzzle!" Well, take that, Someone. Here you go.

It was interesting; can't go with the "easy" rating, though. Medium bending slightly toward challenging. I was stalled getting into the SE...still can't figure out why CARET is "Input signal?" "Right" could mean 1,000 other things as well as ETHICAL. But eventually, after hitting on HAIRLINE, that was filled in.

The SW features two intersecting greenpaints: SUNSHADE and STASHAWAY. Well OK, SUNSHADE is a real thing; it just sounds greenpainty. But it's all good; just let me polish off my PASTA with some RIESEN and I'm happy. (The SHAKE doesn't belong; that's another meal.)

NINEHOLES is about all I'm good for any more--on a cart. Oh well, at least I parred this one. B.

rain forest 1:56 PM  

DNF.
This is one of the occasional puzzles which took advantage of my not being American. I just didn't have a clue as to what/who Goobers, Raisinets, TJ Maxx, or "Louie" is/are. My effort wasn't helped by my insistence on ACute, walk-on (star's opposite), AOL instead of MSN.

Oddly, I got the whole west side, without knowing NESSES and RAISINETS, and the grid-spanner. Then came the Eastern side. Now that I look at it, I might have sussed a couple things out had I persevered, but I just lost interest in what may be a pretty good puzzle which was not on my wavelength. Not to be today.

Burma Shave 2:10 PM  

ESSEX RUSE INUSE

SHE’ll TAKEADIVE and a SWIM in her SKINTIGHT suit
and with POWERGRAB him, her QUEST or RIESEN is moot,
with the STEADIEST motion, SHE’ll SHAKE him for a minute,
RAISINETS her notion, and SHE’ll ACHE when he’s INIT.

--- CLARA WILLIS

leftcoastTAM 2:28 PM  

Not knowing "Louie" (TV show, I thought) as a LEFTTURN was my undoing. Had LEFT but not the TURN.

Didn't know NESSES but crosses fixed that. Made a good guess for the I at the RIESEN/POSIES cross. (Didn't know that florists created them.)

Clever clue for EST.

Medium for me, except for that errant TURN.

rondo 2:52 PM  

This puz was anything but easy for me. Only write-over was AlERt aher it needed to be ACERB, but I was being really cautious while filling. Better part of an hour for sure. Really liked it, but that gridspanner is getting old already.

“Hon, I called Elliot and told him to bring the missus along.”
“Yes, dear. Always nice to have the NESSES over.”
Huh?

Hockey, golf, and hoops in that NE niner stack. (Colorado AVALANCHE).

NONAME here evokes a yeah baby. I dated an ANN once who looked great in SKINTIGHT duds (and out of them) – she ran for St. Paul Winter Carnival Queen of Snows one year. Yeah baby!

@D,LIW – I’ve been to and through Spokane many times, most recently August 2014. Used to have an aunt and uncle there living on West Crown (Drive? I think). Seemed to never rain during summer vacations there. Big crush on the next-door neighbor girl when we were both about 13. First girl I ever went SWIMming with. Here’s where I must STAVE off the ACHE and YEN.

WILL IS starting the real-time new year decently.

Longbeachlee 3:35 PM  

Rain Forest - my admiration. I can't imagine taking on an NYT puzzle if I were foreign born.

Diana,LIW 3:52 PM  

Ahem. Any time I complete a Saturday puzzle in about 3 hours, slow and steady progress, knowing in my heart of hearts that I will be successful, I also know Rex will call it easy. But "wickedly" easy? What, pray tell, is that? I am so glad that many of the others here did not feel the same. One moment I'm the 582nd smartest person who ever lived, next I'm a dolt, then I finally end up as your average Joe (or Joanne).

Got SKINTIGHT right off the bat, which led to KOALA and then off to the races. Well, like the tortoise in the race. Haters revealed itself early, too - that part did seem easy to me. I don't mind the phrase if it's applied to someone who is ALWAYS critical. No matter what you say (the sky is blue - Macy's is having a sale) they come back with "Oh, I don't know" or "No, that's not right." Just oppositional on everything. That's my take, could be wrong.

@Spacey - CARET is the little ^ thingy an editor uses to indicate you should "input" another word or phrase in your exposition. I love wordplay and misdirects - they make you THINK. (Whereas unknown names are just unknown names that will never come to you during a walk around the block.) Agree with all who thought STASHAWAY was not a good description for hoarding, a quite green around the gills.

GOOBERS - did anyone else use this word to name something else (think nasal creatures)?

OK - par tee on the 9th - how apt, for our NINEHOLES today. Anyone traveling a distance could start early on the 8th. I'll bring the nova and bagels. (You'll get that joke in a week or two. In Futureland.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 4:13 PM  


"Ralph" and "Louie" clearly correspond to right and left (R and L) respectively. But why substitute for perfectly good terms? Imagine confirming directions given: That was a left, right, at the corner? Another term is called for.

Diana,LIW 8:49 PM  

@Rainy - agree with Longbeach that I'm in awe of your "non-native" X-ing ability. Where are you - or are you from?

@Rondo - true fact - it almost never rains in Spokaloo in the summer. Summer is what a perfect summer should be - 75, dry, sunny, day after day after day after day. AAAAAHHHHHH. When friends ask why we don't move permanently to PG, I cite Lake Spobegone summers.

“Hon, I called Elliot and told him to bring the missus along.”
“Yes, dear. Always nice to have the NESSES over.”
Huh?" THis reminded me of life with my extremely hard-of-hearing husband. Some day I'm gonna write a sit-com about our life in communication land. Fave story - one day we were outside and I put on my sunglasses even tho it was overcast. We were near the ocean, and the reflection gave my light-sensitive eyes the conniption. Husband laughed - "Sunglasses today?" I said, "Hey, I don't laugh at your hearing loss." After a pause (pun there, wait for it) he looked down at his hands and sad "Fuzzy paws?" Since then we have referred miscommunications to as "fuzzy paws."

Diana, still waiting for puzzles

Bananafish 3:01 PM  

I guess I am the only one who thought there was some Korean War politician or general from Korea with the surname HSU ... Had to Google it even after seeing the answer was HST to figure out the clue referred to Truman.

Also put in ATENYEMEN for the USS Cole attack site and had SHAVE in for "get rid of" rather than SHAKE for quite a while.

After zipping around the rest of the grid, you can probably tell the SW gave me fits.

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