Florida community with portmanteau name / SAT 2-27-16 / Crumbly mideastern dessert / Bomberman console / Czar known for his mental instability / Dinner serving in prodigal son parable / Dwarf planet discovered in 2005

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Constructor: Julian Lim

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: HALVA (30D: Crumbly Mideastern dessert) —
Halva (halawa, alva, haleweh, halava, helava, helva, halwa, halua, aluva, chalva) is any of various dense, sweet, tahini based confections of arabic origin, served across the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Malta and the Jewish diaspora. // In global, popular usage it means "desserts" or "sweet", and describes two types of desserts:
This type of halva is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina. The primary ingredients are clarified butter, flour, and sugar.
This type of halva is crumbly and usually made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are nut butter and sugar.
Halva may also be based on various other ingredients, including sunflower seeds, nut varieties, beans, lentils, and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, yams and squashes.
Halva can be kept at room temperature with little risk of spoilage. However, during hot summer months, it is better kept refrigerated, as it can turn runny after several days. (wikipedia)
• • •

Pretty straightforward Saturday fare. Did it right upon waking, at a leisurely pace, and finished about three minutes faster than yesterday, but not so fast it made my head spin. It was easy in the main, with a number of little KNOTty parts that required me to exert effort. Those ended up being the interesting parts, as the marquee answers, while nice and smooth, just didn't grab me that much, and there was definitely an ouchy bit here and there in the shorter fill. Seemed pretty clear from the jump that 1A: Anchor line meant "anchor" in the sense of television news anchor. The clue pretty much screamed "I'm trying to trick you, heh heh heh heh [sneer] [wring hands] [twirl mustache]." Classic misdirection language: clue looks nautical, but both its words have different potential spheres of meaning, and thus it's probably not nautical at all—this is how I think on Saturdays. But what do anchors say? "Dateline ..."? "And that's the way it is ..."? "Our top stories now..."? No idea. As usual, I used short stuff to get me going. Today: SEL (4D: Frites seasoning), but only after completely misreading the clue and writing in ÉTÉ. My brain registered something like "season when you fry in France." After I fixed that, I took an odd series of big steps down into the middle-right of the grid.

UTTER was an obvious guess, confirmed by R-ATA (who knows what spelling you're gonna get?), and then the next few answers after that were obvious. HALVA was such a weird throwback for me. I have a very location- and time-specific memory of HALVA: the San Francisco of my childhood. I remember when we'd visit, there were delis and other shops that would have HALVA bars out where "normal" shops (i.e. shops back home) might have the candy bars (home was Fresno, just to give you some idea of context here) . So I thought, "Sure, I'll try this." And found it both unusual (to my unsophisticated palate) and delicious. But I don't ever remember having HALVA anywhere else (in my entire life) except then and there. And yet, the name, somehow, I remember. Weird, considering it's a pretty damn common dessert and HALVA is surely available in most cities across the country now. For all I know they actually had HALVA bars in Fresno and I just never noticed. Anyway, that is my weird and largely uneventful HALVA story.

Had so much trouble parsing 35D: A host that even with -LEWS filled in I didn't get it. I was taking "A" as some kind of symbol or name or something, not as an indefinite article, and "host" can be understood a ton of different ways, of course. So there was some struggling there, but not much. The only other trouble spot was at the crossing of POWHATAN and SOWED, where I had to run the alphabet (and run it almost all the way—stupid "W"!) to get SOWED, which just did not occur to me at all for 45A: Set in motion. In fact, just looking at SO-ED, I couldn't think of *any* letter that could go there. PAWHATAN I just don't know. Maybe I've seen it before. Probably. But it's a jumble of letters to me, largely. There were other things I didn't know or couldn't remember (THAYER, IVAN IV, TAMIAMI), but crosses made them non-issues.

LEO and LEOPARD in same grid ... thumbs down. Liked freshness of HATERS (2D: No fans) and AIR BnB (48D: Website for budget travelers), but most other fill doesn't shine or surprise or delight that much. This is just a solid, workmanlike Saturday. A fine morning diversion.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 8:00 AM  

Saturday. Julian Lim. Deep breath. And, boom. Done. Is Julian "mellowing" (my first entry for "showing age) on us?

Ok. Not quite done. Rex – I actually I had a dnf because of POWHATAN/SOWED/STAMP. I ran the alphabet for SO_ED and missed that W could work. I also ran the alphabet twice and didn't catch STAMP. I gave up, figuring it might be "scamp" album – just another thing I was unaware ofSo I feel kinda dumb.

The coolest aspect of this puzzle IMO is the first 1A and the final 66A. I imagine thousands of solvers pounce on the puzzle at 10pm – THIS JUST IN – solve from the northwest to the southeast, and finish with AND SO TO BED. How elegant.

I always have to wait until the morning to solve because not doing so would turn my world upside down. And I don't start with 1A. A while back I read somewhere that Matt Gaffney suggested starting with the fill-in-the-blank clues first. Man oh man, what great advice. Instant toe-holds. Today mine were SINE and then TASK.

SHOED feels a lot better to me than SHOD. Al just shod a horse up there in the barn. This announcement could be quite startling.

I like that we've beverbed RSVP. Bet AIR BNB is next. We didn't spend a lot on hotels; we air bnbed it. I spent a week one night (hi, @jberg) at Quinn's Mill in Atlanta err B&Bing it. Hideous hangover.

I adore Julian's puzzles, especially the themed ones. The themes speak to me in a way that I can imagine him* saying, "Hmm. What can I dream up for Smith?" I've mentioned several times here how I still think about his Sunday with all those vowels in a row. There's also a Wednesday whose themers had ALL WISE.

Excellent fare this morning.

*@jberg again - no possessive there for me, buddy!

GILL I. 8:12 AM  

This is the fastest - sans Google - Sat. puz I think I've ever done. Less than 45 min. and yet it didn't really satisfy me like, say, a good chicken tandoori with a misspelled NAN and some HALVA from @Rex's San Francisco.
I liked starting with THIS JUST IN and ending with AND SO TO BED. I also liked ROMANIAN and POWHATAN (both unknowns) because I was determined to get these two puppies spelled correctly and I did.
JILL is unpronounceable in many countries. In Latin America, I was Jew. In New York, I was Joe. In California it's "what's your name again?"
Oh, I also liked TAMIAMI because the trail ends in Little Havana and I go to eat at all the Cuban restaurants and can't get enough lechon asado or picadillo or platanos verde or yuca al mojo.
I want a food puzzle tomorrow....

Teedmn 8:27 AM  

Buna Ziua!

The NE and NW of this puzzle were so easy compared to Friday's that I was wondering what was up? Guessed CALF would be right at 11A and that would give me COSTA. Looking for confirmation before writing in, I saw 'Stick in the refrigerator' and thought, "Hah, you don't fool me for a minute, OLEO!" A slight writeover, mELLOWS before YELLOWS and I had two thirds of the puzzle done. From SPEAK down to LAIT, was mostly open, with SHOED and PARISIENNE in place and I just slowed down to a crawl but a few ahas and I was at @Rex's spot, running down the alphabet at SO_ED and the W finally dropped in.

But a stupid DNF at the SIMI/STILE cross. I had SIMa and was wondering if there was a special word for the Metro entrance, like that crosswordese word for a mine entrance that I can never remember (Google tells me the word is ADIT and I swear I've never seen it before). When _TaLE became STaLE, I just shrugged. Silly Wabbit!

I may have seen the clue before, but "One spotted in tall grass" made me smile when I spotted the LEOPARD.

Nice puzzle, thanks Julian Lim.

Old Lady 8:31 AM  

Saturday puzzle done with just over two cups of coffee. Easy for a Saturday. NE corner the last to finish. Smooth puzzle.

Hartley70 9:04 AM  

I think I would have known POWHATAN anyway, but they were part of the mystery in the Syfy series "Haven" that ended recently. I'm thinking Mr. Lim may have been watching it, and if so I wish he would make some sense out of that mishmash for me.

Like Rex, I had trouble with SLEWS at the end. Unlike Rex, I got the letters but still don't understand why they amount to a host.

I thought this was pretty tough but it was faster than yesterday's "hardest Friday ever" experience.

OISK 9:29 AM  

Much better than yesterday's Roboto-Ronde cross. Smooth, and appropriate, although I still DNF, two days in a row! But this time, completely due to my own carelessness. I had IVANOV and EROS, but ERIS has appeared many times, and I know that the Czar's were named IVAN. I thought Halvah was spelled with that second H. At least, isn't that how MAD Magazine spelled it? Moxie with Halvah?

@Old Lady...maybe I just needed a second cup!

Chaos344 9:33 AM  

WTF? I'm not even going to say how fast I finished this puzzle. I don't keep track of my best times in any kind of a file or written note pad, but I pretty much know when a completion time for any given day is probably my best time for that day, or within a minute of it. Today there is absolutely no doubt. I have never finished a Saturday NYT puzzle this quickly. This is the second puzzle this week that was totally "wheelhouse." What are the odds of that?

There are only four comments posted as I type this, and three of them seem to corroborate my contention that this was an exceedingly easy puzzle for Saturday. I'm betting that number will increase tenfold before the comments are done for the day.

Absolutely loved your puzzle Julian!

Z 9:37 AM  

Doing Russians use RRNs? No? Whole different alphabet you say? Then !@&#^@% F*&)@#& RRNs shouldn't be used with Tsars. Or Czars. Just saying.

Did most of this way too early (when the 14+ year old dog wakes up early you either take him outside or clean up after him) and it went relatively easily except for the NE. Didn't reparse "Will with parts" or "Trade rights" correctly so was stalled out. I put the puzzle down and did other things. When I picked it up again suddenly IT'S A SNAP.

It always slightly unnerving when something like THAYER pops into your brain and you know it's right. LFC knowledge is the lowest level of knowledge, isn't it?

I spent 2 decades living in one of the largest Arab-American communities in the country and I can't say I've ever noticed HALVA. Of course, if it was sweets it was from Shatila, not something pre-packaged. It is entirely possible that if you had dessert at a Mediterranean Restaurant you've had something from Shatila. I know the last time I was at Munjed's in Syracuse, NY their desserts were from Shatila.

@LMS - I have received an email with the phrase, "Should we just AIRBNB it?" It has been beverbed.

PPP is just 23%, although there's quite the cluster in the NW downs which might be problematic for some. There's also the COSTA AL PACINO double in the NE. I guess that helps explain why the North played harder than the south. That and the fact that "'Ocean's Thirteen' co-star" doesn't really narrow it down much.

Wm. C. 9:45 AM  

I live right on the Tamiami Trail, and still struggled to get the Florida portmanteau! Aw-w-w-k!

mac 9:49 AM  

Well, my head spun! Only half a cup of coffee! By far the fastest Saturday ever for me.

I liked it a lot, plenty of in-the-language expressions and some cute wordplay.

Now what? I guess I'll go do the stumper!

Carola 9:50 AM  

tt was the short stuff that LET me IN to this fun puzzle: IVAN, SEL, YEN, ACHE, ERIS, SIMI, TASK, ILE, AVE, RTE were the little stones over which the long answers could then cascade their way to the bottom. Add me to the alphabet runners at SO?ED; fortunately the W jogged my memory of POWHATAN.

A beautician at a SPA? Hm. In my world, a beautician would be found at a regular old-fashioned salon or parlor, whereas a spa would employ a "stylist." Same work but costs more.

quilter1 9:54 AM  

Not too hard for Saturday and made me smile. Can't ask for much more than that.

Jamie C 10:09 AM  

Today was significantly easier than yesterday. It took me about half as long (same as Rex, I suppose, since he said today's was 3 minutes faster--for him, that's probably cutting his time in half...)
Still trying to think about how I feel about "Aural OMG." EEK seems more verbal, but I suppose anything verbal is also "aural", sort of, maybe? AND SO (back) TO BED for me.

Kimberly 10:25 AM  

I was thinking I had recovered from my Friday case of the stupids when I breezed through this one significantly faster than my usual Saturday solve-time, but then I ran to Rex upon solving (as I always do) and saw he rated it easy-medium. My intelligence is still under suspicion, I guess. Had a few minor false starts (who the heck ever says "and so to bed?" "Im off to bed" unfortunately sat there a few minutes, making me scratch my head, until I just erased "im off" and focused on the downs. Over all, this one went really well for me, and more than a few of my first wild-stab fills paid off. I love when that happens. The "NYT Xword is psychic" answers today were two-fold: we are staying at an airBnB even as I type this, and our travel group was having a long-winded debate about the fickle identity of Pluto (as one often does when properly lubricated... What, you don't?) and Eris came up.

kozmikvoid 10:33 AM  

As I was solving this one, I stopped about 3/4 of the way through, sat back and thought how really good the Saturday puzzles have been lately. This one was certainly easier than yesterday's puzzle, but I really enjoyed it.

THISJUSTIN was a great opener. Liked the clues for LEASHLAW, APRIL and STAMPALBUM. Had Jack instead of JILL but that was easily fixable.

This would've been in the 15-20 minute range but I made a mess of the SE. I wish I had taken a screenshot, but I had goingTOBED and found a way for it to work for a while. I thought haG was a great answer at 61D and artISIENNE fit at 64A. It wasn't until I saw DERMIS crossing with APRIL, which confirmed LEOPARD, that I dug myself out of that hole.

Oenophiles (fancy word for alcoholic) like myself I'm sure were disappointed to see SIMI clued as the California valley instead of the wonderful Sonoma winery of the same name - if you're not familiar with it, try it...today. Great value at $20.

Put your dorky hand up if you liked seeing SINE wave.

puzzle hoarder 10:34 AM  

This was like last week. The Saturday was much easier than the Friday. Today's solve was a steady 27 minutes. I did make a half assed attempt to guess 1A. Moving right along CALF and COSTA came up immediately. The NE was Monday easy. MELLOW before YELLOW was my only write over. Unlike @Rex I have no idea why HALVA is familiar to me.
The SE did slow things down for awhile. PARISIENNE was the first long answer to go in. STAMP was hard to get. The connection between 54D's clue and answer is weak. A dipsomaniac is a lush not a moocher.
For some reason I went back to the upper half of the middle and from there went into the NW and down to the SW without much trouble. RSVPS was the only real hurdle.
This was a great puzzle despite the easiness. It's good to have a clean grid after yesterday's spelling fiasco.

jberg 10:35 AM  

TSK, @Loren, am I tarred forever with the "gerund stickler" brush? Ah well, there could be worse things. As for SHOED, my reaction was the opposite to yours, a big groan and extreme reluctance to write in that E. At least it wasn't crossing REATA. Good grief!

I had a hard time with TAMIAMI, too, as I thought it was only a highway. Apparently it has a second life as a Miami suburb, but I had to turn to Google Maps to confirm that it could be right. Also HALVA -- I knew only the flour-based, gelatinous kind, so the 'crumbly' fooled me. I kept trying to cram baklava in there.

And ... NANS? British grandmothers?

Hardest part, though was that it took me forever to see that 1A ended in JUST IN, not JUSTIN.

@Loren, at 72, I much prefer your first answer to 40A!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:36 AM  

Nice puzzle, but felt Very Easy (for a Saturday.) No w/o's.

Started in the NE with gimmes at 11 D/16 A, COSTA/OLEO, had a smile imagining 11 A as CROW, then moved fairly smoothly clockwise around the grid.

Like Rex, I had to see quite a few letters before deciding which line the anchor was saying. And yes, I let R_ATA await the cross.

Dare we say, with respect to 29 A, ". . . but no Oscar this year"?

Nancy 10:46 AM  

One of the easiest Saturdays I can remember. This puzzle had none of the challenge or flair of yesterday's. Like Rex, I ran the alphabet to get the W in SO-ED and I think that "Set in motion" is a really odd clue. Other than that, no problems at all. Perfectly OK, but no more than that. This could have been a Wed, as far as I'm concerned.

Sir Hillary 10:53 AM  

THISJUSTIN: When Sir Hillary DRINKSTOo much on Friday night, he wakes up SEMISober, with a nasty headACHE and barely able to SPEAK. The Saturday puzzle thus becomes quite a TASK. EEK!

Nice crunch today, self-inflicted wounds aside.

-- Love THISJUSTIN as a beginner and ANDSOTOBED as an ender.
-- ATALLTIMES, FORKEEPS...set this puzzle in stone.
-- Fantastic clue for SPAR; had me thinking NAFTA until the very end.
-- @Rex: LEO and LEOPARD is a problem, but LEO and OLEO is okay?
-- It was fun entering ROCK and waiting for the rest...star?...band?...icon?...IDOL!
-- I thought POWHATAN was a person, not a tribe. Guess I was wrong.
-- Too much French today...SEL, LAIT, PARISIENNE.
-- @LMS: Nice call-out on mELLOWS / YELLOWS...as clued, another for the Schrodinger archive.


Nancy 11:13 AM  

@Hartley (9:04): A host of and SLEWS of both mean lots of.

@Puzzle hoarder (10:34) Right on in your DIPSO clue protest. I was planning to say the same thing, but forgot.

Andrew Heinegg 11:26 AM  

Yes, it was easy but, most importantly, it was fun. Probably should have been published on a Wednesday but that is not the constructor's fault; The enjoyment of the solving experience is far more important than whether the puzzle is day appropriate. Nicely done, Mr. Lim.

Leon 11:28 AM  

Podcast in Times Insider features an interview with Will Shortz. Mentions at around 24 minutes into the recording that he is grateful for Crossword blogs. Only mentions Deb Amlem.

Little Running Bear 11:31 AM  

@Sir H, POWHATAN was indeed a person; he was father to Pocahontas.

This otoe have been learned by everyone when they were still utes Call it semi-noledge.

kitshef 11:37 AM  

Good puzzle. Good writeup fro @Rex. And yes, very easy. Was taken aback reading @Z's comment on THAYER, as I did not remember that being in the puzzle. Turns out I never saw that clue having gotten all the crosses.

Extended before ECONOMIC, imoffTOBED before ANDSOTOBED (puzzle answer is way better), sPelL before APRIL, mELLOWS before YELLOWS (ah, Donovan).

That bottom set of STAMPALBUM, PARISIENNE and ANDSOTOBED is to die for.

old timer 11:38 AM  

Delightful and easy. Yesterday was Natick City. Today, gimme after gimme. The entire NE. In the SE, the Easy ROMANIAN sent me right to SIMI Valley (folks, get to know this place, for it often appears in xwords).

My only hard area was the SE, because I put in "star" where STAMP should be, at first, and thus did not see DERMIS until the end. I used to collect stamps, and many that I put in my ALBUM were profiles of kings and queens.

I always thought SMITE meant to hit or strike, and not necessarily to kill or "do in". Looking it up, I'm right, and Shorz goofed. I would like to see "do in" as an answer to the following partial: "And maybe we'll _____ a squirrel or two".

Carola 11:41 AM  

@jberg, I'm a gerund stickler, too, but I've been afraid to tell @Loren.

@Loren, I hope you felt the smile at the end of the above.

Lewis 11:45 AM  

I loved so many answers: HAVEITMADE, ITSASNAP, FORCEPS, ANDSOTOBED, DREAMUP, THISJUSTIN, and PARISIENNE. My favorite clues were for SMITH and SLEWS. There were a couple of stumbles (i.e. I had "news jockey" for 1A for a while), but other areas filled up in floods. I like the rhyming cross SPEAK/EEK.

I usually come into Julian's puzzles with trepidation, but today's solve went smoother than usual, though I wouldn't say ITSASNAP, and I loved the tussle. What an enjoyable high-quality solve!

Chuck McGregor 12:28 PM  

Unfinished business (just to be clear, yes, I AM poking some fun at you [and you’ll know who you are] and certainly me all the way…)

Yesterday, re the PA (ma) BARKER clue/answer, this perfectly sums up my final thought about my MACH ONE rant (edited to suit):

I'm in agreement with those who believe it to be incorrect, but also think that's just fine, since it's so obvious once you get whatever it took to see MACHONE.

On that note, these are puzzles. That the maker of one (crossword or otherwise) messes up a piece(s) of the puzzle is in one sense irrelevant. A puzzle is made as something to solve. You either can or you can’t.

In my youth, a very smart friend was insulted by a test he had to take. So he answered every question not only incorrectly but each was the precise opposite of the correct answer. (They figured it out and he got a 100 for the test.)

So, it is theoretically possible to construct a crossword partly or entirely in the same fashion. You might hate it, but in the end it’s down to mano a mano -- either you can solve it or not. If you can’t or won’t, the maker, no matter how bad the puzzle or parts thereof might seem to you and/or whether they seem fair or not, “wins.” As the old TV show said “If you decide to accept this challenge….” (ending with “this tape will self-destruct” etc.).

Now I have a new warning.

Re my MACH ONE rant, someone (and I did smile when I read it) told me to get a life :>) Rather than cite the imaginary number debate as a retort to any of my future rants considered “out there,” I am now going with yesterday’s rants about the Barkers. Someone said they were actually “seething” about that answer? I thought it worthy of essentially no discussion. Come ON people!! A long debate about PA juxtaposed (historically) next to an (in)famous MA? Easily inferred and “solved” with crosses? Ma >> PA?? Seriously?? :>)

Just to refresh my MACHONE rant was about a legitimately, non-existent mathematical equality between clue / answer rather the merely questionable existence of the name of a very clearly existent husband / father. Merely questionable? Read on.

My thought. Do any of you actually KNOW that not one of his four sons or Ma herself never, ever called George "PA"? If any did, I think it’s a 100% legit answer. I also think it more likely than not. And just because you can’t find this on the all-knowing Internet is proof that wasn’t the case (looking at @Rex)? You might say well maybe “Pa” was not common and "Ma" was back then.

Wiki: “Many scientists believe that 'ma' and 'pa' were among the first syllables that humans spoke [50,000 or so years ago]” and this apparently cuts across almost ALL languages. It's a plausible theory.


That the “world” knows him as George in no way means he wasn’t a “Pa” to family. If he was to any of them, the question is then, who “rules” for someone’s name to be legit? The world or their family?

Personal note: sis and I often called our parents Ma and Pa, starting in the mid-1940s.

So, (IMOH) most all who commented about this (some 1/3 out of over 60 did when I checked) “need to get a life” and I mean that in the nicest possible way :>) :>) :>)

I found it a most amusing debate but, sadly. I now have to include myself amongst the foregoing group. So, going off to try and get a life, I say….


PS I’ve lived in both MA and PA.

Donkos 12:44 PM  

Funny I made the same mistake as Rex with ete in lieu of sel. Had to re-read the clue after asking, " do they really only have French fries in the summer? That doesn't seem to make sense...

AliasZ 12:44 PM  

Fun puzzle, Julian.

However, in ROMANIAN "hello" is bună ziua. It actually means "good day" (see "buenos días"). The "ă" sounds quite different from the "a", the breve has the power to change the meaning of the word. We know diacritics are ignored in crossword grids, but they shouldn't be also ignored in clues. It may be a typo, a sign of carelessness, or worse, laziness.

The IVANIV|ERIS crossing puzzled me. IVANIV, LEOIV, and any number of royal members of the IV league rub me the wrong way, not to mention that IVAN already starts with IV. IVANOV (Chekhov play, e.g.)|EROS would have been a better choice, IMO.

Repetitions always bug me: LET IN, THIS JUST IN, IN TUNE, DRINKS TO, AND SO TO BED, AT ALL TIMES, AT SEA, HAVE IT MADE, IT'S A SNAP. This is why I think multi-word phrases, while they add color and variety, can be overdone if not careful. Too many ITs, ATs, TOs, INs, etc. can taint an otherwise dazzling puzzle.

TAMIAMI reminds me of the Turkish word "tamamı" for "complete."

Let's hear a brief excerpt from the ballet Gaîté PARISIENNE" based on music by Jacques Offenbach, arranged by Manuel Rosenthal.

Encore: a brief sample of the Caucasian Sketches by Mikhail Ippolitov-IVANOV.

Chuck McGregor 12:57 PM  

One last food for thought re Ma / Pa, e.g. and et al:

Ma Pa, Mom Pop, Mom Dad, Mama Papa, Mommy Daddy, Mother Father, even the plurals used as singulars (Hi @ LMS!) Moms Pops.

I’ll conjecture they are usually and have been paired like these are by their offspring. Intermixing, most just don’t sound right to my ears.

Exceptions? Of course.


Hartley70 1:08 PM  

@Nancy, thank for the rescue! I was waffling between a dinner party and the communion rail. "Wafer" was my initial choice and I didn't even go to Catholic school.

Fred Romagnolo 1:18 PM  

@Kimberley: Pepys said it a lot. I wanted Geer for Smith, but letter count didn't jive. Ivan the III, the "Great" was the first to formally assume the title "Tsar," his grandson, no. IV, is more familiarly known as "The Terrible,"which is really a mistranslation of "Grozny," or "The Dread." My San Francisco grandfather (from Baku) always pronounced it HALwA, but he also said Wolga and Wodka. To me EEK has always meant "a mouse!"

jae 1:40 PM  

Yes, quite bit easier than yesterday's.

Erasures: LiOness before LEOPARD and gps before RTE.

The AIRBNB guy was on The Daily Show this week so that was a gimme off the A in AWAIT once I erased gps.

Solid, but not as much fun or as interesting as yesterday's. Liked it, but too easy for a Sat.

Mohair Sam 1:58 PM  

Fun and clean Saturday for sure. Played easy/medium in this house, but not Wednesday easy as @Nancy and a few others seemed to think. Loved the clue for SPAR (Trade rights, say) - and hand up with the group whose last letter was the W in SOWED, even though the POWHATAN tribe rang a bell the second the W went in.

"Casey at the Bat" is locked in this brain, every word, I just love it. Ernest THAYER? - not so much - had to fill every letter from crosses, go figure.

@jberg - Voting with you on shod over SHOED. I've been on the front end of more than a few horses while the were SHOD, if it was while they were being SHOED - well, nobody told me. Maybe it's a regional thing.

Tip of the cap to Julian Lim for a great Saturday effort. And a respectful bow for the delightful ANDSOTOBED closing.

jberg 2:06 PM  

@Loren-- on further thought I think I was wrong about SHOED. Shod is the participle, I guess.

Chaos344 2:07 PM  

@Chuck McGregor: Heartily agree with both your posts! What did everyone call Mammy's husband? He was born Lucifer Ornamental Yokum, but everyone called him Pappy!

Masked and Anonymous 2:07 PM  

themelessthUmbsUp. Neat blacksquare gridart pics of sprinklers or water pumps or long-necked deers, at the top and bottom. Fun, feisty solvequest with lots of pleasant fill surprises.

Only humble suggestions:

* TAMIAMI = {Astonished remark from an amnesic novelist Hoag, a la Dr Seuss??}
* DIPSO = {Tip from an artsy-fartsy dance instructor??}
* SLEWS = {What knights dos tos dragons??} … Why not SLAWS/AVA?
* POWHATAN = {Voila! Har! Your spray-on face coloring is fini, M. Trump! (??)}
* IVANIV = {Tsar with an ICU hookup at both ends??}
* HALVA = {"I've ___ mind to revenge-vart!" (??)} [partial of the day]
* LEOPARD = {Texas buddy for 62-D??}

Thanx, Mr. Lim.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Masked and Anonymous 3:10 PM  

Ahar! Nope: M&A stands auto-correctible …
* SLEWS. Has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity (PBUI). SLAWS does not. Good call, Shortzmeister. M&A is not worthy.

Dipso M&A

@Z beast, from the recent Comment Gallery archives: yep. Like it … Could maybe start an online vacation advisor agency, called M&A & P&A Kattle et Al's R&R Q&A? Top vacation picks:
1. Jeb! re-purposed Super Tuesday hotel reservations. Numerous once high-dollar sites available.
2. M&A's back forty pewit-watchin getaway. Comfy-snug shed accommodations.
3. First Annual Runtpuz Tournament. Once shed frees up.

Alby 4:41 PM  

Quicker solve than Friday. I always find the multisyllabic, phrasal answers easier to figure out (i.e., longer isn't necessarily tougher).

Chuck McGregor 4:48 PM  

Trying to get a foothold early on with 34a:

No proble
Easy as AB
Easy as pi
Piece of c
Duck soup (well at least that fit and I have used the phrase for years)
“So easy a caveman could do it” [GEICO ads] Fits the clue, certainly not the puzzle.
No sweat
A breeze
No braine
A kid can d

Finally got it with NAP in the downs. (sigh)

What makes you you? Three letters?

Tough, quite a few write-overs*, but only 3 letter cheats. I did finally have to do a puzzle check after filling all, revealing I had one letter wrong. Apparently I was concerned more about the stYle of a STILE than how to spell the damn the word. Why doesn’t the online version have a spell check as you type!!? Jeesh! (Kidding, though it would be a boon for those who don’t care about unaided finishes.)

* including “now the news” for 1a. At least, being a life-long sailor, I quickly dismissed the nautical misdirect and was sure this was a news anchor.

The last 4 letters of 66a spent their life being “tired” for a long time and finally crashed TO BED.

Liked STAMP ALBUM, mine being the reason I got that famous person GOMPERS with no crosses the other day.

As a bassist I always try to play IN TUNE.

I never did it, but I learned most all the fine details of SHOEing a horse from an old, life-long horse guy who actually grew up in gen-u-ine cowboy bunkhouse. He was a bona fide horse whisperer. I saw him do it many times. It was uncanny what he knew about them.

Scintillating fact (not): A B & B a couple of miles up our road was sold this past year. It used to be “Brannon Bunker,” now named “Hawk’s House.”

A stick of OLEO? Not in my fridge!! There’ are only sticks of Kate’s Butter (superb stuff which I’ve lauded before, made in Arundel, ME)

Can’t DREAM UP anything else to UTTER, even about cream or butter….from an udder (sorry couldn’t resist. Provably should have. Too late.).


jae 4:50 PM  

@Nancy & Puzzle hoarder - That guy's a real lush, he drinks like a sponge.

Mohair Sam 5:18 PM  

@jberg - Guess I'm hanging out there alone after all. You've run rough-SHOED over me.

Dick Swart 5:28 PM  

Faster than Friday, but still not a breeze for me. NW in spite of good crosses still left me with Romanov and Eros. Well, if it is not Eros, it should be. Eris is 'ero, eris, erit'. Or does 'it will be' fit this replacement for Pluto?

Chronic dnfer 6:41 PM  

Knew Powhatan from reading Cheaapeake by James Michener. It's terrible what the Jamestown settlers dos to the poor peace loving powhatans. Great book btw. Dnf'd at dip so o know a sponge is a drink but never heard of dipso. Neither does my spell check. Screwed up at stamp because I wrote in star. Got 95% which is very good on a Saturday. No googling. Ever.

Z 7:04 PM  

Everything I know about TAMIAMI I learned from Alan Arbesfeld, Will Shortz, Rex Parker, and friends in the Commentariat. LFC, the lowest form of knowledge.

Once a Math nerd 10:42 PM  

Residual question about 9A. What makes you you = IDENTITY

No surprise, right after DNA my next thought went to HEREDITY, though I knew that Ri/EATA wouldn't allow it. When I worked my way to IDENTITY, I figured it was based on the definition*, and was less impressed with the entry than with the clue. Now I'm wondering whether it was a clever play on the concept of mathematical IDENTITY, ie, U=U

Any thoughts?

*the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

puzzle hoarder 10:59 PM  

@jae l thought of that phrase , but it's really drinks like a fish. I've always known the word sponge to be used in reference to people's neediness or ability to absorb knowledge.
If you can post a good reference that would be great.

jae 2:25 AM  

"To drink like a sponge" is one of the most popular expressions for heavy drinking in many languages.

Random quote off the inter web.

spacecraft 11:15 AM  

When I look at a puzzle and think "How am I ever going to get any of this?" and then I wind up somehow solving it and think "I'm so tough I scare mySELF!"--and then I see an easy-medium rating...well, then's when I become one of the 2-downs. How can you put the word "easy" anywhere NEAR this?

This was a series of wild stabs in the dark that turned out to be right. Out of despair I guessed STAMPALBUM, which at least fit with a probable SPA and LEO--and that much just sat there. Went to the SW where KNOT, SIMI and TAIL gave me DRINKSTO, but it still took a while for me to dream up DREAMUP. ROCKstar-->IcOn-->IDOL; that area is one inky mess.

ONCE again the NW is where I wound up. I don't quite know how you make the leap from "Without stopping" to ATALLTIMES, but the prize for most diabolical clue has to go to "Gets back (to)" for RSVPS. And OFL says ITSASNAP. Grrr...

At least I knew ALPACINO, which made the NE TASK easier. You might call this easy-medium, smartypants, but I'll still give it full triumph factor and an A. ANDSOTOBED.

Burma Shave 11:30 AM  


It’s an ACHE and a YEN,


rondo 12:23 PM  

Hand up for mELLOW, but that was the only write-over in today’s fairly easy puz. Almost plunked down “musician” where the ROCKSTAR was the subject, but held off, saving a potentially terrible inkfest.

Newsflash: THISJUSTIN Beiber crap must stop.

I’m no constructor, but this puz could have gotten a bit more literary and sexy at the same time if we’d have had IVANoV cross ERoS. And it eliminates the RRN after IVAN.

HALVA seems to be very popular at the Russian market we frequent. Have only tried it once. Yum.

Not a yeah baby to be had, unless it would have been clued JILL St. John, yet another Bond girl.

As someone above mentioned, not only LEO and LEOPARD, but also OLEO. And two answers ending with IN. Is that some kind of SINE? It might COSTA partial letter grade from @spacey.

ANDSOTOBED . . . wait, I’m at work today so there will be no napping. Need the OT to ease the ECONOMIC situation.

Torb 12:24 PM  

After a brutally tough Friday puz, this was the easiest Saturday puzzle ever! Filled it in w no problems.

rain forest 2:11 PM  

Just like yesterday, I lucked out with a couple of semi-gimmes: THIS JUST IN (off the s and j), and PARISIENNE (off the p and the first e). The solve then went pretty smoothly, and I thought this was an excellent puzzle both for many excellent entries and for some great clues, eg, 'trade rights'.

Stupidly, I misread the dessert clue and was trying to think of a "desert" that was crumbly. Negev? Nope. When I finally got SMITH, it was head-slap time. Jeez.

During our tour of France for 4 months, my girlfriend and I stayed almost exclusively in Airbnb accommodations, one of which was a gorgeous villa in Provence for one month. The cost? About 40% of a low-level motel. I have to say I didn't feel sorry for hotel owners decrying the loss of tenants.
Of course, out of the 20 or so places we stayed, 3 of them were'dogs', but even they had beds and kitchens.
I will NOT use Airbnb as a verb.

Good Saturday.

leftcoastTAM 3:10 PM  

This was a nice challenge, couldn't say ITSASNAP, and liked it a lot.

NW was the last to go; THISJUSTIN opened most of it up.

Alternative spellings of RiATA/REATA kept me guessing for a bit.

Favorite answer/clue: SMITH as "Will with parts."

diana,LIW 4:53 PM  

Enjoyable Saturday. Liked starting with THISJUSTIN and ending with ANDSOTOBED. I'm sure there's a story in between. I'm sure BS will come up with the story, in poetic form. Today, Wayne Williams' puzzle was harder, for me. Ya never know...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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