Noted jazz trombonist's nickname / SAT 2-13-16 / Neocon's target of derision / Charm City landmark / Arbiter of 1980s TV / Quaff at Three Broomsticks inn / Possible OMG follow-up

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SRSLY (58A: Possible "OMG!" follow-up) —

• • •

Played harder than usual for me, and Way harder than Wentz puzzles usually play for me.  I solved upon waking, though, and that's never (or rarely) a good idea, if being at the top of my solving game is the goal, so I adjusted difficulty level accordingly (back to Medium). The puzzle looks like something that should've been far easier than it was. I needed only a little help to get ERYKAH BADU, and no help at all to get JUDGE WAPNER and IGGY POP. And thank god for BUTTERBEER (50A: Quaff at the Three Broomsticks inn), or I'd still be sweating out that SE corner. Clues on EONS (38A: Mountains have grown over them), F-STOP (45A: Setting for Ansel Adams), MUST-DO (?) (48A: Critical assignment), MEL (I had BOB) (48D: Krusty's sidekick on "The Simpsons") and OTTERS (39D: Some pups) were all uncrackable to me. And I seriously could not bring myself to believe in SRSLY. I wanted only "ORLY?" And the short stuff down there was useless to me: three-letter TV station next to three-letter TV station? Ugh. But TACT + TET + BUTTERBEER eventually rescued me, allowing me to finish the puzzle.

I've barely heard of NOSY PARKER (srsly), and getting to IVORY TOWER from 14A: Neocon's target of derision was rough. I was like, "Why would they deride the IVORY COAST?" and then later, "Do they really deride the IVORY TRADE? That's ... weird." All the little Acrosses in the NE were hard. I had STAN (10D: Van Gundy of the N.B.A.) and still couldn't get any. STEM for SLAB (10A: Foundation piece). TAPE for TIVO (16A: Prepare for a later showing, maybe). Later, misspelled WOPNER (thus) and thought Rihanna and Madonna had -NOMY, like ... MONONOMY, only that wouldn't fit (they have ONE NAME, of course). Wish ANTI had gotten a Rihanna clue. That would've been a nice (timely) cluing twofer.

I should probably say that I thought this puzzle was first-rate. Hard, wide-ranging, clean. Everything good.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


O.R. Gagbeanery 8:02 AM  

Major DNF for me. In fact I gave up in disgust about two-thirds of the way through and let acrosslite solve it for me. Way too pop-culturey for me. Hated it. I wasted a good cup of coffee on this one.

Loren Muse Smith 8:03 AM  

Oh, man – I was so pleased to have "finished" this only to see now that I didn't. I had "Bidory" and "Erykah Bade" crossing "Babel." Haven't heard of either musician, so I never questioned "Babel." I did briefly entertain "Erika Jayne," but I imagine not too many here would have her on their radar screen, and that's kind of a compliment.

I figured this morning we'll have a rosy Parker; this is a good puzzle. AWK was my biggest woe, but, hey, you could caw the parrot section of the aviary the AWK ward.

Hey, @Chronic dnfer – didn't you find this one easier?


"mature" for EVOLVE
"boy" SCOUT
"Sachmo" (sic) for KID ORY, but only in my head.
"syst" for TECH
"fjord" for F STOP. But just for a nano sec
"boom" for BANG
"toile" for MOIRE. I don't speak Martha Stewart.
"slip" for SLAB. Yeah, I still wear'em; skirts just hang better. Srsly.

Liked OWNERS crossing WE CARE. Yeah, right.

Never tried BUTTER BEER. I did try this once. Nothing to write home about. (But it didn't make me wanno go "all "Cask of Amontillado" on its ass." You made me laugh out loud yesterday with that one, @M&A.)

All in all – terrific Saturday offering. Favorite clue: "in the pros." Thanks, Peter!

JayWalker 8:13 AM  

Personally? I thought it was a pain in the butt!! I don't mind the working aspect of a truly difficult puzzle, (which is why I question your "Medium" - don't believe it for a minute) but when said puzzle is impenetrable - i.e. the SE corner - then I cry "foul!!" In that entire corner all I got was 50A, 55A, 57A & 49D (and the corresponding downs). Srsly?? Who would know that?? Seriously. I haven't gotten actually angry at a puzzle in a long time, but this one?? Really pissed off.

GILL I. 8:18 AM  

@Rex...I usually have the same problem areas as you, but not today. IVORY TOWER and NOSY PARKER didn't seem to FAZE me, but STAN and ERYKAH (who?)BADU made me scream AWK!
I really enjoyed this puzzle. I usually don't like trivia (and this one had its fair share) but I seemed to be on the Peter Wentz wave.
TET was an easy guess because I recently saw a very silly sitcom for the first time that centered on a few cute but bratty kids who had relatives in China and they missed their flight on New Years and were all upset because they didn't get the red envelopes filled with money.
I recently tried BUTTER BEER that a very serious Harry Potter fan made for me. It's quite good if you add some rum to it. It tastes a bit like a root beer float...well, maybe.
How do YOU pronounce KABUL? I'm in the cobble camp.
@Martin Abresch from yesterday. Lincoln, the "great emancipator" now,filled with TACT.

Teedmn 8:24 AM  

A very easy Saturday for me. NOSY PARKER went right in after I confirmed it with AWK and TYPES so the NW fell in record time. I almost never get a foothold in the NW, so after turning the corner, I was kind of flailing; Where do I go now? The SE looks fun. FURLS and FSTOP kept the ball rolling but then I had ADDRESS BAR sticking out and BIT at the end of 44D. Could not see how an orBIT connected to a gas pump. I'M GLAD I took a chance at 32D which opened up the center and I was able to fill in my Milky Way swathe of whiteness SW to NE.

ZEE was cleverly clued as the slices of pizza. And my brain had to twist at 36A. I read the clue as "gardens of (Babur city)" and wondered in what Middle-Eastern country Babur City was to be found. But the U of BADU and the L of GLAD made me think KABUL and then it was obviously "(Gardens of Babur) city". Aah.

ADREP keeps catching my eye. It isn't an uncommon crossword answer but today it looks really DOOK-y. Maybe because it usually lurks in the corners rather than being more central today.

It's 10 below here at the moment and I wish I could just hide in my IVORY TOWER but I have to help my Dad move - a MUST-DO assignment. So thanks, PW, for a puzzle that left me feeling smart, and a great weekend to you all.

Louise Aucott 8:26 AM  

Once I had Erykah Badu, the rest was more cake-like, though certainly not a piece of cake. Moire came easily, due to a childhood fascination with fancy fabrics. Since I am one of a dozen or so people who never read Harry Potter, b**terbeer was evasive. And Kid Ory was a combination of straightforward across clues (36, 42, 46, etcetera) and not a show of familiarity with jazz trombonists. Tricky 8 down, one of two slices of pizza? Each letter is now a "slice"?
Very enjoyable for a frigid Saturday morning.

Ted Cole 8:38 AM  

Tried "greasyhair" @30D

kozmikvoid 8:54 AM  

This was pretty fun. Got practically nothing first time through. If not for the SE, I'd probably still be staring at a blank grid. But once I got a foothold, things dropped pretty quickly...except for that NE section. That was brutal. I've never seen NOSYPARKER. Nosy Nelly I've heard of, but not Parker. I'm sure it's a thing and valid for a Saturday, but I've never come across it.

Everything was great with the puzzle until I actually finished. I ended at the beginning: 1A. TYPES had already been there, than I got the E from Miss Badu. I figured xxMET, but I stopped and thought, "No way it's going to be that." But it was...and is. WEMET. Just look at it. Ugly, ain't it? We met. I know enough about grammar to know that tenses are a bit of a gray area at times, and "we met" might have a valid place in the world of English tenses. But it doesn't fit here. If the clue had an ellipsis indicating the sentence wasn't over, fine. But "we met" as a standalone sentence is...well, it's just not fair. I want to know where or when the speaker of 1A met that fine lady, and the constructor has left us all in suspense. Unless this whole puzzle is like "The Lady or the Tiger" and it's for us to decide.

It's very much like the following riddle: "How do you keep an idiot in suspense?..."

Ted Cole 9:02 AM  


Anonymous 9:17 AM  

I agree with O.R. Gagbeanery. Too much pop crap here. And too much vague, ill-conceived cluing: awk for a bird cry; tad and modicum are different creatures it seems to me; slab is too general for foundational. Is the slab of marble that comprises my kitchen counter foundational? No cluing that Amex would be abbreviated. Many more: mustdo, no deal, sporty, debit--all as boring as they are vague and general. Finished but regretted the time.

Will the NYT ever return to puzzles that ask you to know something of the past as well as the present?

AliasZ 9:19 AM  

Yesterday's and today's puzzles for me were the two worst weekend themelesses in a row in recent memory. Both featured highly constrained grids, and both relied heavily on pop trivia, knowing or not knowing of which potentially broke solvers' backs.

Today it was ERYKAHBAwho?, IGGYwhat? and KIDORY. The worst offender was ERYKAHBADU, whose full-name appearance is a debut in the NYT (no surprise there), but it is also the only entry connecting the isolated NW corner to the rest of the puzzle. If you didn't know the person (which I didn't), it gave you absolutely no help in the section below. These two areas became independent mini puzzles for me.

It was shocking to read Peter Wentz's comments at xwordinfo: "Once the central triple 11's and 7's were in order, it was easy enough to tackle each of the four, now contained, corner quadrants on their own. It's much easier to fill chunks without worrying how the whole grid is going to connect." He calls it "contained", I call it choked off. His statement betrays a lack of inspiration at best, laziness at worst. A good constructor tries to do exactly the opposite of what Peter was proud to achieve here. A great constructor actually does it, with class and sparkle. See any Patrick Berry.

The good: IVORY TOWER [my preferred clue: "Dwelling for a career politician?"], NOSY PARKER, I SMELL A RAT and CAMDEN YARDS. Maybe one or two others.
The bad: the aforementioned trio, plus ONE NAME after yesterday's ONE OWNER. Maybe that ONE OWNER was Cher.

Off to do STAN Newman's Saturday Stumper.

Glimmerglass 9:19 AM  

I don't think I'd dial back "challenging" to "medium" just because it "should have been easier for me than it was." Hard is hard. If sometimes an answer deserves a head slap, tip your cap to the constructor. I agree this was a good puzzle-- hard, clean, and fair. My headslap was at 35D. For "woman of mystery" starting with J, I confidently wrote Jessica [Fletcher]. Took me a long time to escape that quicksand.

Z 9:31 AM  

I am thinking this will play challenging for much of the Commentariat. Hey, Oh, ERYKAH BADU has appeared before, but I strongly suspect she's crossword only for many here. Likewise, IGGY POP. Add in a PotterWorld reference, the Simpsons, and text speak and this puzzle is much younger than many Saturdays. Personally, I liked it a lot.

I wonder if JUDGE WAPNER ever came close to Judge Judy money. I'm guessing she never shops at KMart.

Only three writeovers today, Fend -> FAZE, FoldS -> FURLS, and ADd?? -> AD REP. I got my foothold in the SE, then NE, SW, middle, then finished with NOSY Rex PARKER.

@Martin A - We need to teach you to embed. {Friday Spoiler Alert}

Jim F 9:31 AM  
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Jim F 9:33 AM  
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Lobster11 9:51 AM  

I'll call this "medium," in the sense that I failed to finish by about the same amount as is typical for me on a Saturday. I enjoyed most of the cluing -- apart from the clues for IVORYTOWER and ZEE, both of which I thought were too clever by half -- so that wasn't the problem. The problem was that, as so often seems to be the case, everything I didn't know crossed everything else I didn't know, e.g. NOSYPARKER crossing ERYKAHBADU crossing KABUL (as clued) crossing KIDORY. Yikes. I'm too old to know or care about ERYKAHBADU, and not old enough to know or care about KIDORY.

DBlock 9:55 AM  

There's a Jeff Van Gundy who has something to do with basketball
Held me up in NE for way too long

Adrian 9:57 AM  

Had the same "Babel" problem as Loren Muse Smith, and has anybody ever noticed that Fort McHeny has the same number of letters as Camden Yards? Grr....

John V 10:01 AM  

Never really got started, let alone finish. Brutal.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

I had exactly the same natick as @lms. ERYKAH BADe, bIDORY and bABeL. Wanna make something of it?

Naticks are what happen when you put this kind of arcana in a puzzle, and I'm not apologizing for my mistakes. I think PW owes US an apology, frankly. But I'm proud of myself of getting all the rest of it, as I thought it was very hard and unfair in places.

I was really put off by WE MET. No!!! It's WE'VE MET to anyone who speaks the English language even half good.

A neocon's object of derision is not the IVORY TOWER! That would be made fun of by a hard-nosed realist or pragmatist or a practitioner of Realpolitick or a successful hedge fund manager. What would a neocon make fun of? A dove, a peacenik, someone who favors diplomacy over war. Someone who wants to cut military spending. Have Cheney or Rumsfeld ever said a single word about the IVORY TOWER?

And SRSLY???????? I mean, seriously!

(I started another sentence, but it's disappeared below where I can retrieve it. It'll show up on the blog, I'm sure, and will look quite odd.)

I did like NOSY PARKER and BIODEGRADED. And JUDGE WAPNER was in my wheelhouse, even though it took a while to come up with him.

Sir Hillary 10:06 AM  

Typical great Wentz offering, although I can see how the pop-culture heaviness could turn some people off.

Nifty clue for ADREP.

Never heard of KIDORY. First thought was that maybe he was a Hun. Only from a post-solve Google did I learn that he was Edward "Kid" Ory.

Sometimes I feel like I am the only person on the planet who has never watched "The Simpsons". I assume MEL is a cartoon human, but as I solved I wondered IS MELL A RAT?

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

Good Saturday puzzle; Challenging for me.

But I took my time and worked my way through it (yup, BUTTERBEER was a great help!), only one w/o, 36 A, BABEL >> KABUL (hi, @LMS!).

And thanks also to a previous puzzle which taught me that Baltimore fancied itself "Charm City." A big help, at 34 A, after dismissing INNER HARBOR and FORT McHENRY, at getting CAMDEN YARDS despite my deficiency of baseball knowledge.

Suzy 10:13 AM  

@Rex-- if you conclude that this puzzle is "hard, first-rate," then why rate it medium?? Very tough, from my point of view!!

Vincent Lima 10:18 AM  

Fun solve. BUTTERBEER was a nice foundation piece, if not exactly a SLAB. I heard and enjoyed Icona Pop when they opened for One Direction (which I did not enjoy, but rather endured, for my teen), and was struggling to remember what came before the Pop, when IGGY filled itself out. Babel before KABUL. Meanwhile, WE MET was a gimme, as was JUDGE WAPNER, though I erased him for Boy Scout until I thought of CUB SCOUT. Oh, and SRLSLY was unbelievable. I left it there to come back to, and next thing I know, the app is congratulating me.

Jonathan Yardley 10:32 AM  

"Noted jazz trombonist's nickname" is a bad, misleading clue. The answer is "Kid Ory," but the trombonist's name was Edward Ory and his nickname was "Kid." A better and fairer clue would have been simply "Noted jazz trombonist." As it was I initially entered "Trummy," as in Trummy Young. Both Ory and YOung, BTW, were sidemen with Louis Armstrong, albeit at different times.

Tita 10:54 AM  

Big ol' DNF... Triviafest ruined the otherwise really good puzzle.
Ironic that the NE was too easy for a Saturday. SRSLY...that is a Monday clue for STEM.

After some staring, those OTTER pups we just saw jumped into my brain..
I was sure, especially with ZEE, that the Madonna and Rihanna clue was looking for twoenns, even though MOIRE andAMOK had to be right,

@lms...I'm with you on slips.

Thanks, Peter, for everything except all those people and tv channels.

da kine 11:10 AM  

That was a VERY clean grid. It was tough so I took some time off, watched some Six Nations rugby, then ripped through it. I had MOSUL instead of KABUL which fixed itself in short order but that was about it.

Steve M 11:18 AM  

DNf but I see the merits of this one just too hard

Drs B and S 11:26 AM  

NOSY PARKER is Dr Gilespie's (Dr Kildare's boss and mentor) for his nurse/secretary. Never heard it used anywhere else.

Carola 11:27 AM  

A tough one! Starting out: nope, nope, nope, nuthin' - I rejected WE MET as impossible, and ZEE, PRO, and LIMEADE as too easy for a Saturday. Apart from a sprinkling of MOIRE, TECH, and ATE, I had to descend all the way to BUTTERBEER to get a real grip on the grid and start clawing my way back through the squares. Very fun to solve and satisfying to finish.

Loved @Rex's first stabs at IVORY TOWER. I thought it was going to be "phOny" something.

Treat of the day: NOSY PARKER!

Disgruntlement Corner: I think WE MET is a partial. Either "We've met." Or "WE MET last year...."

Carola 11:30 AM  

@kozmikvoid,@Nancy - Have WE MET? I was writing while your posts were in the ether.

kitshef 11:33 AM  

Not a fan. Clue for PIZZA was very poor. Clue for TYPES was terrible. SRSLY is the second-worst piece of garbage I've ever seen in a puzzle (can't remember the worst, but I railed against it on this blog maybe six months ago).

But the biggest crime is that it plays as three separate puzzles. A trivially easy SE, a medium center, and an extremely difficult NE. The connections between the three areas are tiny.

The NW took me almost three times as long as the other two pieces combined. Thought maybe 'bit' for 15D, which made me think xxxliberal for the neocon target. Eventually had to pull everything out and start over, and got a little traction with AWK/NOSYPARKER, but then would up thinking it was xxxxxPOWER - greenPOWER? solarPOWER?

Still, I have to give the puzzle some grudging respect. Despite the poor clues, and the WoEs (AVIAS, MOIRE, KIDORY, ERYKAHBADU), I was able to finish as the crosses were mostly fair, and the cross of WoEs at AVIAS/ERYKAHBADU inferable.

kitshef 11:35 AM  

Oh, and I wonder if others fell into the Madonna/Rhianna trap of 'doublen' initially.

puzzle hoarder 11:38 AM  

I would rate this puzzle as challenging. 17A is something I've never seen before, maybe it's regional. I was able to finish but it took me just over an hour. Nothing went in until AMOK. That made ONE NAME obvious. 25D was a gimmie that nailed down MOIRE. 35A was the first of the middle elevens to go in. Luckily it just appeared in a puzzle last October. 34A is very familiar I just don't know why.
The SW was the first corner filled in despite 36D being new to me.
In the SE 50A being another gimmie was a big boost. I was just telling my kids last night how some of the older solvers hate "Harry Potter" clues because their kids were too old.
One of the big delays in the NW was the spelling of 4Ds' first name.
All in all a great puzzle. I always felt I was working just beyond my comfort zone. This is just what I look for in a Saturday puzzle it was solvable but it pushed the limits.

John Lydon 11:39 AM  

Iggy Pop is in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and was often referenced in obits and tributes to David Bowie when he passed a few weeks ago. The man ain't obscure folks.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Well-constructed, reasonable challenge, good fun. Nothing to whine and complain about - perhaps I'm in the wrong blog?

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Like many above, HATED it. Pop crap. Shame on you, Mr. Shortz!

Aketi 12:00 PM  

@ZEE fun to see you in the puzzle today along with BUTTERBEER which I'd rather drink after MNA training than Bullet Proof Cofee.
@ LMS, the member of our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lab favors ichiko, which I have to admit is pretty smooth. No one drink coffe before training for reasons I won't explain.

I thought the addition of BIO to DEGRADED was a TAD green paintish.

Enjoyed finding IGGYPOP.

old timer 12:08 PM  

Before talking about this puzzle, I need to mention yesterday's WSJ puzzle by the great Patrick Berry. He had "halfback" as the answer, for which "offensive lineman" was the clue. Any number of WSJ commenters pointed out that a halfback cannot be a lineman -- in fact if he was on the line at the snap, the ref would throw a flag. I'm thinking WS would have caught that if the puzzle appeared in the Times.

I was pleased to see that OFL needed "help" with this one. So did I, not knowing the first names of any NBA Van Gundys. Unfortunately I took the first name I found on Wikipedia, which was "Jeff". A new look at my "help" gave me STAN, therefore SLAB TIVO OWNERS.

The SE is where I got traction. FSTOP was a gimme, NODEAL came to mind at once and the rest was Easy. TACT and Bitter BEER went in next, but I had to change the bitter to BUTTER, and let me tell you this Muggle would much prefer a pint of bitter, thank you! JUDGE WAPNER was another gimme, and IGGY POP was a lucky guess. I sort of knew MOIRE as a thing, though I wanted "tweed" at first.

I actually availed myself of more help to get Ms. BADU, but in retrospect, I could have gotten it on crosses -- WEMET, SLAKED, AVIA and TECH were gettable, though I first put in "scis" then "math" before realizing only TECH would fit.

Z 12:12 PM  

ERYKAH, IGGY, KID, JUDGE, MEL, BUTTER BEER, and SRSLY. Seven pop culture clues hardly seems excessive. The NW and SE are pretty cut off, Really pretty easy, and all the Pop stuff is fairly crossed except for maybe the KABUL region. If the NeoCons hadn't pushed us into the Middle East quagmire maybe we'd all have gotten that more easily.

@Dblock - STAN is currently coach and GM of the Pistons. Brother Jeff is a former coach and current broadcaster. I waited for the crosses.

@kozmikvoid - Part of the reason I ended in the NW was that we've met wouldn't fit.

jae 12:22 PM  

Medium works for me. Most of the names were in my wheelhouse. Had elemS before TYPES (blood, of course, D'oh) and ReeK before RANK. Also, bob before MEL knowing I might need to change it. Sideshow Bob is by far the most infamous Krusty sidekick.

And then Kelsey Grammar shows up on Colbert tonight (yes, I'm one day behind).

BUTTER BEER was a WOE as I'm not a Potter fan (just missed a Potter question on Trivia Crack).

KID ORY I've seen idea where?

Excellent Sat., liked it a lot!

Lewis 12:35 PM  

Whew! Challenging and fair, with tricky and clever cluing, to wit: KIN, JANEDOE, FSTOP, EONS, OTTERS, and TYPES. IVORYTOWER is a terrific answer. First rate.

nick 12:44 PM  

Really enjoyed this despite the need for a google or two. Butterbeer? No problem. That Wapner guy? Srsly not in my wheelhouse. The rest was the hard but rewarding chipping away that makes a great Saturday.

Fred Romagnolo 1:01 PM  

Yesterday's letter to the editor about crossword puzzles in the NYT, by a respected educator, said it all - it applied to yesterday's puzzle and today's. If you have to depend on crosses like ERYKAHBADU then you shouldn't be constructing puzzles. Not only that, but it was a sole entry to the NW!

ChemProf 1:02 PM  

40% faster than an average Saturday for me, proving once again that difficulty is to some extent relative. :)

Chuck McGregor 1:05 PM  

It’s a Saturday so it didn’t FAZE me a bit to do some cheats here and there to get traction; a very few letters in each corner, but none in the middle. At the end, I kept getting the NYT ‘almost there’ message, After finding a couple o other errors, it all came down to the “natickal” crossing of 36a and 4d. Well, it had to be a vowel, so started with entering ‘A.’ Nope…and so on to the U-ltimate letter (Hi @ M&A) that got me “Congratulations” and the short, happy riff. Jeesh.

Can’t say anything really seemed “sparkly” to me as @Rex et al often rate things. However, I had lots of fun getting the 90%+ that I could. All was fair and all was good.

The only answer that really got my attention, one way or ‘tother, was TIVO. Tired, stale, out of date Do people even say “Why don’t you TIVO it?” or “I have it on TIVO” anymore? As Fortune Magazine put it, “It’s a shadow of its former self.” Interestingly, seems most of the posts on what seems the major TIVO users forum are all in an Asian language.

If I might be so bold, one way to have avoided TIVO: 10a FLAB (What you might get with a lot of 10d), 16a LILO (Stitch adopter), making 10d mmm, mmm good FLAN (___ [with no clue]) and 12d ALERTED (What you hope to be when 10d is ready?).

I’ve been to couple of Orioles games at CAMDEN YARDS, one in a skyBOX SEaT courtesy of PNC bank. The other was in the bleachers behind third base where I closely and unforgettably watched nine innings of the great Cal Ripken, 2 years before his retirement, manning said base. He was ready to play ball on every single pitch, hopping around in a “no way, left or right, is this guy gonna hit one by me” way. They did not that day.


Richard Primoff 1:13 PM  

One of the two letter zees in the word, pizza, or slices

Mohair Sam 1:14 PM  

Wickedly tough puzzle. Made tougher for us by Ms. BADU changing the spelling of her first name, I had heard of her as a Grammy winner but never seen her name in print - hence we threw her out as a possibility when the near gimme NOSYPARKER went in. Cost us a ton of time. Day was saved because I know Baltimore as the Charm City and have been to a few ball games there, and we remember old WAPNER, hence BADU had to be.

Had to fill every letter of BUTTERBEER with tough but fair crosses. Sedans for SPORTY slowed us down. Don't think I've ever heard an IGGYPOP song, but got him off the YP, what a name! Nifty misdirection on EONS and FSTOP.

@Nancy - Rumsfeld and Chaney aren't Neocons - they are lifetime Cons. Anyhow, It is my experience that all Cons find IVORY TOWERs targets of derision.

@everyone who naticked on the "K" at KABUL. You are assigned "The Swallows of Kabul" (2002) by Yasmina Khadra. It's a short book.

Jay Apking 1:23 PM  

Spell "pizza"
"z" is one piece of the spelling

dick swart 1:29 PM  

DNF ... an understatement! After seeing how many clues were for specific references to pop culture or clues non-specific enough to have me head-scratching, I attempted to find something to fill in just so I could say I tried. 'Anti' and 'yeti' worked. But I couldn't get the flag 'furl'ing v 'fold'ing at 'fstop'. Too 'f'ing hard for me!

Evan Jordan 1:30 PM  

Peoples' minds are so amazingly varied, even when it comes to a shared pastime. I'm not saying anything new, I realize; it's just fun to see all the different perspectives. It's a puzzle like this that reminds me that the value one places on a certain knowledge base is very personal and biased. I slogged through yesterday's puzzle for over an hour only to log in and see Rex and everyone splattering the word EASY all over. Phooey! Well, today was a pretty sweet treat, because for me it was SUPER EASY! Bwahahaha! Pop will eat itself, but we're it's appetizers!

cwf 1:33 PM  

Triple crossless gimmes: JUDGEWAPNER (he of the amusingly short fuse), IGGYPOP, and ERYKAHBADU. This made the center fall really quickly. Was stuck in the SE trying for the life of me to remember the foul, syrupy beverage my nephews always get at Universal Studios Orlando. Then I remembered it. Days Without a Harry Potter Clue, NYT Edition: 0.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Excellent Saturday puzzle. I had to google Charm City, but once I knew it was Balitmore Camden Yards fit the crosses, and the rest fell SLOWLY into place.

John M 1:56 PM  

Lovely puzzle, both in fill and cluing. Played hard for me, but a satisfying finish. A nit, perhaps: Woman of mystery should be Jane Roe, not Doe. I believe it's John Doe, Jane Roe in court documents, hence Roe V. Wade...

Masked and Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Was 99% sure that 17-A was gonna be REXYPARKER. Coulda swore I was picking up gravity waves on this.

Nice SatPuz, tho. Highlights, by word length:

* 1-2: See runtpuzs.
* 3: AWK. All us PEWIT-lovers simply adore the AWKword.
* 4: FAZE. Only thing cooler about this word would be if it was spelled PHAZE. Stretch goal.
* 5: SRSLY. Would be the M&A DMOTM (Desperate Moment of the Month) award winner, if it existed.
* 6: WECARE. Goes WEll with WEMET. Like this, as it close to my doctor's slogan: "Wee Care".
* 7: IGGYPOP: The Wrong Again M&A oldie useless trivia recollection was: IZZYPOP.
* 8: cUbscoUt: 5 of the lil darlins, today.
* 9: n/a.
* 10: ERYKAHBADU! day-um. Learned a new name, here. Might repress it, soon, on account of the "BAD U" vibe.
* 11: JUDGEW?P?ER. The Wrong Again M&A oldie useless trivia recollection set was: WOPPER. WAPPER. WIPPER.
* 12-15: They wentz elsewhere.

Other semi-crucial subjects:
* 24-D: Near uncomfortable discovery, of what both Madonna and Rihanna had only ONE of. ONELUNG? ONEKNEE? ONESONG? ONEFANG? Sounded like trouble brewin. ONENOSE or ONEHEAD woulda been ok, tho.

* LIMEADES. This answer always makes the M&A slightly uncomfortable. "Revolt of the Limeades"! Last nite's schlockfest lineup: "Revolt of the Zombies" (1936) and "Ferocious Planet" (SyFy Maneater series entry of 2011). But, I digress.
Other plurals that make M&A kinda uneasy (top 3):
* Casks of Amontillados.
* Puppymonkeybabies.
* SR'S-LY.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Rick 2:01 PM  

Just like at least two other commenters here, I went down with ERIKAHBADE/BABEL/BIDORY. Ugh.

OISK 2:05 PM  

Agree completely with Nancy, although I did finish it. Erykah? Iggypop? Srsly? Butter beer?


Anonymous 2:07 PM  

Man, so tough with all the pop culture. Erikahbadu who? SRSLY? For which I had SoSad and then SorrY; well, they could follow OMG, right? Oh, it's all text-speak? Okeydoke.

Thought I was so brilliant when I dropped in IVyleaguer (off the IV) for the neocon's target of derision...

Jamie C. 2:34 PM  

It's entertaining to read the plaints from the "skews too old" or "skews too modern" crowds. Either the puzzle is stale and musty, or it's esoterica designed for tweens who are into today's pop culture. SRSLY people??!!

Nancy 3:19 PM  

@Mohair -- Neocon point very well taken. I probably should have used Wolfowitz and Perle as examples instead of Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Z 3:33 PM  

I think too many are being unfair to this puzzle. To Wit:

ERYKAH BADU, among other awards, has been nominated for 19 Grammys and won four of them in her two decades as a performer.

IGGY POP is considered one of the fathers of Punk Music, a genre getting close to its fifth decade, as well as being note worthy for the reasons @Jon Lydon pointed out.

Harry Potter has been around for 18 years and is almost unavoidable (fans in Detroit are going ga-ga over the notion that there might be a Potter World School of Magic in Detroit).

SRSLY was first used in the 18th century. (Kids these days!)

JUDGE WAPNER was so huge he was used to great effect in Rainman.

KID ORY died when I was 12 and I still managed to recognize the name once I got the crosses.

This puzzle has Jazz, R+B, Punk, Politics, kid lit, TV, baseball, basketball, mythology, science, computers, meta-letter clues, two kinds of plastic, and a SPORTY convertible. This is a good puzzle.

Lewis 3:59 PM  

@kitshef -- I initially had FINAL_A.

Joe Bleaux 4:10 PM  

SW was a sweet starting place for a just-challenging-enough puzzle ... 'til I reached the top and the bottom fell out, thanks mainly to eryk-whoever (and awk). Never heard of nosyparker before, but that's my fault. Fun while it lasted, good for a B-plus.

Chronic dnfer 4:13 PM  

@lms. I worked on it on a and off for the better part of the day. Dnf'd at kidorj/jeti. So a MAJOR victory. No cadet here. And yes I thought easier.

Chronic dnfer 4:24 PM  

@dblock. I'm pretty sure Jeff coached the knicks at one time which makes it an evil misdirect for the nyt. Fortunately my girlfriend is a Detroit Pistons fan.

If it wasn't so cold out here in ct I would have quit right there.

Norm 4:24 PM  

Ugh. That's the nicest thing I can say. This one exemplified all the reasons I hope Rex never gets to take over the NYT puzzle, since we'd have this kind of crap every day in the alleged interest of being hip and modern. Ugh.

Masked and Anonymous 5:28 PM  

p.s. @Z: yep. I really liked this puz, even tho I hardly knew any of the stuff U mentioned. U are a mighty magnificent beast, bein able to recall all that cool info. I can't recall snot, anymore.

I did know Krusty's side-kick. Unfortunately, I coulda sworn it was BOB, so >>>buzz<<<.
I sorta know Harry Potter. Have seen about 79.5% of each HP film. (Always fall asleep, for a little bit in the middle of em.) Musta missed the BUTTERBEER.

Thought ERYKAHBADU was a mucho terrific answer, after some research. Tip of the M&A hat, to anyone who could spell that name, on the first gitgo. She played Queen Mousette, in "Blues Brothers 2000". Wonder why I never heard of/forgot her.

I'm a big fan of any constructioneer who can create a gridfull like this. Always a fun hoot, to try and piece a feisty beast like this together during one's solve. Made it thru this one, after a lot of piecin & hootin.


p.p.s.s. @BEQ: What gives? PUPPYMONKEYBABY is exactly 15 letters long. Can't believe its one-week absence from all the major crosswords. Srsly, dude.


Prof. Gary Weissman 5:44 PM  

Isn't the expression WE'VE MET, not WE MET? Or am I wrong here?

Young Turk 7:06 PM  

Is it possible we're taking all of this a little too SRSLY when we demand an apology from a crossword constructor? Why can't we all watch Netflix and chill?

Mohair Sam 7:15 PM  

@Z - Well said, tip of the cap. It's friggin' Saturday folks, your pop culture clue might not be Lucille Ball.

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

Huh. I found it to be super easy. Finished in under 20 minutes. I do enjoy the varied responses to this one!

Haveincredibly 10:01 PM  

Thank you.

Haveincredibly 10:14 PM  

"Pop culture" is just culture that's relatively current. Many here deriding "pop culture" clues are perfectly content with clues that reference songs, shows and films from half a century ago -- i.e., the pop culture of their own generations.

If you choose not to stay culturally current, fine -- but SRSLY, recognize it as your own limitation, not a limitation of a puzzle that (for a change) is friendly to people born after 1970.

Haveincredibly 10:15 PM  

It absolutely is.
I'm surprised how many people don't know Ms. Badu.

WA 11:40 PM  

Mine was a hot mess. Just because someone's name looks like a line on an eye chart and other names that were as unfamiliar after I figured them as before, does not make a good puzzle. And of course, a cute clue was need for biodegraded because that word appears as often ahs.

Martín Abresch 2:29 AM  

My experience was almost the exact opposite from Rex's. The SE was the first quadrant that fell for me, and I ended up with a faster-than-normal time (of course, my normal time on a Saturday is just under an hour).

Got JUDGE WAPNER without the crosses. Filling in long answers like that always makes me feel cool.

MEL was a gimme (for me), and F-STOP came easily. That gave me FURLS which gave me MUST DO which gave me OTTERS and NO DEAL. Though I have read Harry Potter, BUTTERBEER was the last word to fall there. Rather ticked off at myself for not recognizing the Three Broomsticks reference.

ERYKAH BADU was a great answer. Love her music. KID ORY was a famous member of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and played on some of the most influential recordings in jazz history. I really don't get people complaining about both these answers.

@Z I'll make sure to embed next time! Also, I very much like your defense of this puzzle (your 3:33pm comment).

Robso 8:34 AM  

This was a skull crusher. DNF

Tita 10:22 AM  

Don't forget the NBA guy.
And the two RTVCs (random tv channels)
I'm not including the Madonna/Rihanna clue, as that had absolutely nothing to do with knowing who they are.

@Z, @Mohair, @JamieC...
The point is not that there are too few/too many pop references from any given era - Before Musty / After Musty...
Rather, as others have said here countless times, and far more eloquently - lots of us look to Friday and Saturday as a wordplay challenge, and yes, perhaps testing the subjective "knowledge-worth -having" part of our brains.

A festival of names is neither. Some names are inferable. Others are not. (I'm looking at you, 4D, or any rapper.)

Don't interpret the plaints as a dislike of the actual pop culture that has been referenced, but as a dislike of that type of puzzle content.

SRSLY - I'm not saying that I'm superior because I know or like, or don't know/dislike, ERYKAH or MYA or IGGY or AMADEUS. That goes for Desi Arnaz or Clara Bow.

Gimme clues like 3D - "Navicella" at St. Peter's, for one. Not because I'm a snob and knew that with no crosses, but because it is inferable with a little bit of general knowledge. could be a piece of art, or a section of a church...I have M___I_ - it's MOSAIC!
Or a clever bit of wordplay (esp, for xwordese), like Got into a stew? for ATE
I didn't know that Lincoln said what he did - but I finally pushed it through my noggin that TACT could be the 4-letter word that fits, even with no crosses.


Tita 10:30 AM  

@Haveincredibly - yup - lookin' at you too. We don't hate those people/songs/movies/culture.

Loo at @WA's comment for a much more concise response.

If you read into that any dislike of the eye chart lady, then the problem is with you, not WA.

OISK 4:01 PM  

@tita - Perfect!

Z 4:19 PM  

@Tita - I agree with you on wordplay being preferred over trivia. Including STAN Van Gundy gets us to 7 pop culture clues. Without doing an exhaustive review of Saturdays, this one doesn't seem overly namey to me as compared to other Saturday puzzles. The difference to some, enunciated repeatedly throughout the day, is that these names aren't crossworthy because they are "too current." I counted at least a half dozen such claims. That's what I think is an unfair criticism of this puzzle.

phil phil 5:03 PM  

ISMELLARAT Was first to go in. Guess of KABUL the last for a finish.

Amazing how the long ones pop into your head so much easier than expected.

I use to do a small CW in the KC STAR paper back 40 years ago. It had 3 and 4 letter answers and one word clues. Very tough.

Tita 12:44 PM  

@Z - thanks for clarifying what might have been more evident had I read all comments more closely. (I probably skittered right across those dissing the puzzle for the reason you mention...)
Phew - what a relief - I would hate to think we disagree!

I maintain my stand against those who turn "I hate too much pop" complaints into "I hate pop" complaints.

Gregory Schmidt 6:02 PM  

Thanks so much for the ...BADU/KABUL cross.

Anonymous 6:25 PM  

As others pointed out, this isn't a crossword puzzle, it's a pop-culture quiz -- which of course if why Rex Parker thought it was excellent. Eight key squares devoted to a rapper? C'mon, I have a college degree, why would I listen to that S@*T? I'm only chiming in to respond to Rex's complaint that he never heard the expression "Nosy Parker". I'm not sure I've heard it on this side of The Pond, but it's an everyday expression on the other side. Watch Britcoms or British dramas (or even British soaps) and you're guaranteed to hear it sooner or later. In this country we'd say "Nosybody" or "Busybody". I probably would have clued it as British.

Diana,LIW 11:38 PM  

@Cathy from yesterday

I have seen Mr. Waiting shed actual tears twice. When his Dad was dying, and when we had to put our cat Freckles to sleep at our house. My condolences - we are better for our animal friends.

Diana, Waiting

Burma Shave 10:34 AM  


JANEDOE and I had NODEAL worked out yet,
IMGLAD she knows this ADREP’s no CUBSCOUT or CADET,
She said, “One thing you MUSTDO is BANG my BOXSET.”
So she WINSAT this TECH DEAL and IMGLAD to be in her DEB(I)T.


spacecraft 10:46 AM  

Oh, what different worlds we live in. OFL "needed only a little help" to get 4-down. Me? I looked at that collection of letters: ERYKAHBADU, and wondered NOW MANY mistakes I had made. Even after seeing it was (somehow) right, I couldn't correctly guess where the name split. I was thinking ERYK AHBADU. Trust me, that name would make every bit as much sense to me as ERYKAH BADU. Thank goodness I remembered KID/ORY at the last second, because I had bABeL for 36-across. No, I've never heard of the "Gardens of Babur" either. I was very lucky to finish this one.

Thrown off in the NW by wanting IVyleaguER, I skipped to the middle, and one of my favorite moments in one of my favorite movies: Rain Man:

"JUDGEWAPNER is in there making LEGAL HISTORY, Ray!"

So from there I kind of centrifuged outward. Not too tough a solve, except where obscurities met. I mean, IGGYPOP is bad enough, but that other guy...I mean gal, I guess, with the -AH ending--forget it. I wish I could. I did like that stupid contestant decision, turning down small fortunes: "NODEAL!" Then they open the big case, and wind up leaving with fifty bucks. Idiots.

Well, at least OFL gets a rare last-name shoutout today. B-.

rondo 11:01 AM  

Second puz in a row that I solved the bottom half first then work through the top. First entries were JUDGEWAPNER and JANEDOE and the south quickly fell. Last was NOSYPARKER who/whatever that is. Don’t really time myself, but this was about a half hour with no write-overs. I think that’s fast for a Sat-puz for me.

@Cathy – sorry about the former, maybe name the new mouse Keteer?

IGGYPOP just released a new album, yesterday I think. The advance single “Gardenia” has been getting airplay on 89.3 The Current (an MPR station). Kinda catchy, if a bit dark.

ERYKAHBADU is the musical yeah baby of the day. Better for me when she leans toward the blues; she was in the Blues Brothers sequel.

KID ORY was one of the early greats from NOLA and helped Satchmo get his start. They endd up recording together later. I read an Armstrong biography in college that was quite captivating regarding early jazz and musicians.

So, yeah, some pop culture here and a little geography, but IMGLAD to have finished without ERROR.

leftcoastTAM 3:26 PM  


Way too much obscure POP and not enough BANG for my buck's worth of space and time.

Just not a cando or MUSTDO puzzle today.

Seeya later.

Diana,LIW 3:38 PM  

My, my. Temper, temper.

The last two days I moderated my own comments and mentioned not only my dissatisfactions but also the good highlights. I enjoyed this one, even tho I Naticked on ERYKAHBADU and AVIAS. Live and learn, folks. Looked up Ms. Badu and she has been on the scene since 1994. I've heard her name but hadn't seen it written. Or, if I did, it didn't stick. (get so much of my pop culture from NPR)

All else was in my wheelhouse, and I took my time being patient as the answers revealed themselves. Oh...except for BUTTERBEER, which was Bitter Beer for a moment until I realized USA had to be the channel. Not a fan of HP - not that there's anything wrong with him.

So a 90% on a Sat is just about perfect in my book. SRSLY!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Civility

eastsacgirl 3:50 PM  

SRSLY! I'm flabbergasted I finished this puzzle. Never heard of 4D or 50A (though I figured it had to be some kind of beer or ale). Just consider myself extremely lucky. Finished the top half pretty quick and got just enough throughout the rest of the puzzle to slog my way through with no mistakes. Whew!

Longbeachlee 5:37 PM  

No one else got hung up on "nosy parent" as a viable buttinsky?

Cathy 6:25 PM  

Well I pretty much got the outer but boyscout for CUBSCOUT started my wreck in the center. As not being a texter, SRSLY seemed fine and thought it must be common. Not familiar with BUTTERBEER (filled with crosses) but now I'm craving a butterball turkey.

Funny @spacecraft- So this guy is offered 600 grand, sibs crying NODEAL. Mom whimpering deal. What's he do? NODEAL. Ends up with a dollar. Wonder how the family's gettin along these days...

Thank you @Diana,LIW and @Rondo for your thoughts. Keteer:)

Cathy 11:05 PM  

Hi @eastsacgirl and @Longbeachlee! IM GLAD your still around:) Where's Ron Diego?

Bananafish 1:43 PM  

I am quite shocked everyone found this one so difficult. Usually I come here and find yet another puzzle I found maddeningly difficult has been rated easy. This might literally have been my fastest NYTimes Saturday solve ever. And I mean ever. And it is not because I know pop culture better than all the other solvers here - never heard of ERYKAHBADU or KIDORY, did not know what Babur city or Charm City were. Everything here just fell easily into place. Admittedly, finagling KABUL in at the end took a bit of guesswork, but it was certainly inferable guesswork. I guess what I am saying is nananananana *bronx cheer*. Cannot tell you how satisfying it is to turn the tides on all you solving geniuses!

Scotsman 1:05 PM  

This was what you might call a slog.
I almost gave up a number of times, but every time I picked it back up I got one or two more before putting it down again, never dot on a roll of any kind.
Once I had B-A-D in place at 4 down, I figured it was Erycah Badu, but couldn't remember the correct spelling of her first name, so that was of limited help.
I didn't like how compartmentalized the grid was. Finally dropped in AWK and ZEE, thinking "NOSY PARKER? That can't be right. But I'm done with this." Lo and behold, it was indeed right. So I finished, but there was no joy in this solve. As I said, a slog.

Ken MacLean 11:03 AM  

Almost perfect...only error was BITTERBEER instead of BUTTERBEER...sigh...

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