Rough loosely woven fabric / SAT 3-26-16 / Mechanism for making things disappear in 1984 / Calligrapher's grinding mortar / Irish revolutionary Robert / Jimbo's sidekick on South Park / 458 488 on road / Fictional dog owned by Winslow family / Yellow-flowered primrose / Drug company founder of 1876 / Clusters of mountains / Fraternal patriotic org / Crooner with 1978 album You Light Up My Life

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: RATINÉ (28A: Rough, loosely woven fabric) —
A loosely woven fabric with a rough nubby texture. (
• • •

Fastest Saturday in a long, time. Under 8, and I stopped to take screen grabs, so ... yeah. Cake. The problem with lower word counts is, you're always gonna pay for it somewhere (well, mortals are, anyway), and today it felt like the price was a bit too high (word count: 64). There are a few great answers—MOM JEANS and MEMORY HOLE (34A: Mechanism for making things disappear in "1984") and TOTAL IDIOT (20A: Big dip)—but you get into some of those nooks and crannies and it gets pretty jarring. I was having a pleasant enough time at first. I saw straight through the "?" clue at 1A: Produces heat? (DRAWS), guessed the answers correctly, tested it on the "D" and guessed DRIFT (1D: Sight after a blizzard), and it all came together quickly. In less than 30 seconds, I was here:

Here, WILLA CATHER acts kind of like a fishing line: you're just trying to get Any of the crossing answers to bite. Luckily for me, CETERA, ASHEN and -STER all did. This is precisely when things started to go south. Latin plural ... ugly suffix ... I was hoping that would be the worst of it (not sooo bad), but then *directly* after that came the MASSIFS (?!) / SAR (!?!) crossing, and Enjoyment Levels took a nosedive from which they only partially recovered (29D: Clusters of mountains / 38A: Fraternal patriotic org.). If you keep looking at -STER over SAR you will become sad and your sadness will deepen and deepen until you avert your eyes. I recommend not looking. MASSIFS would just be one of those "Oh, huh, what an odd new word" words if -STER and SAR weren't stabbed right into its heart. As is, that corner is a Blot. After that, we get stuck in the rough terrain of -ERS-ville: a patch of roughly one bajillion plurals, most of them ending -ERS (or -ORS). You know the old expression: COVERS ROTORS, SAVERS DOTERS. You don't? Well, now you do.

Once I hit yet another French-derived nutso word (RATINÉ!?) and the never-welcome author abbrev. EAPOE, I got worried again. Then the TSETSES showed up and I was beginning to think this was SATAN'S own puzzle. Now, to be fair, there's a lot of meat to this puzzle, average words doing average things. But it fizzles out in a particularly, strangely weak SE corner and ... well, that's that. From a speed-solving, tournament warm-up perspective, I guess I'm elated. But the bumps were just a little too bumpy for me today—again, not unexpected when the puzzle plummets to sub-68 depths.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I was looking for the Rickie Lee Jones song where she actually sings "E.A. POE" ("Traces of the Western Slopes," off of the immaculate "Pirates" album). But then I found this and just watched it on repeat like 30 times.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Carola 2:03 AM  

I feel as though Rex and I did different puzzles. I found it pleasantly resistant in enough spots to keep it interesting, and replete with fine entries. I happened to love MASSIFS, along with IN CAHOOTS, MARMADUKE, CASTANET, MEDUSA, SAUCE PANS, SATIN SHEETS, COVENS, and, of course, WILLA CATHER and MOM JEANS. I liked COMETS x MEMORY - reminded me of learning the group dance to "Rock Around the Clock" back in the poodle skirt days. I hadn't known there was another flower named after an OX facial feature besides the recently seen oxeye.

jae 2:34 AM  

Easy-medium for me except for NE where I saw Irish and put in EaMon (which I've seen recently in a puzzle book) before EMMET. That made it hard to see MOM JEANS, TEX MEX, and IDIOT all of which I really wanted.


Nostalgia: Bill Haley and the COMETS

Not quite as smooth or as zippy as yesterday's but still worth a liked it.

George Barany 2:53 AM  

I struggled with @Damon Gulczynski's puzzle but stayed with it, eventually finishing in under half an hour of "run-time" (thank goodness for the pause button) without resorting to Google. Thus, I'm really in awe of @Rex (and others) who were able to complete the puzzle 4 to 5 times as rapidly, and I do appreciate @Rex's highly instructive window into his solving process.

Of course, having never previously heard of MOM_JEANS or MEMORY_HOLE was a disadvantage, not helped by instinctively entering MINYAN instead of COVENS, and TULIP ahead of OXLIP (crossing QUIT ahead of EXIT). MASSIFS had me STYMIED as well, and THAWS ahead of DRAWS made me FEEL like a TOTAL_IDIOT. The difficult INKSTAND and "LET_HER_CRY" were both inferable with some of the crossing letters in place, and eventually, it all worked out.

To those of you who plan to attend the ACPT next weekend, I look forward to meeting you for the first time, or renewing past acquaintances.

George Barany 7:32 AM  

I've commented earlier on today's puzzle. At the risk of offending one or two sitting United States Senators, it's a real privilege to share with @Rex-ites a politically themed puzzle entitled Green Eggs and Canadian Bacon, constructed in collaboration with @Craig Mazin who brought a unique set of credentials to the party.

Martín Abresch 7:36 AM  






Gawd, staring at the nonsense of this puzzle is driving me crazy. And I MEANS IT!

I liked the clue and answer for MOM JEANS.

Loren Muse Smith 7:46 AM  

Rex – your northwest story retraces my steps exactly. No fill-in-the blanks I knew, I went back and guessed DRAWS/DRIFT. Your description of WILLA CATHER acting like a fishing line is superb. That's just what I did, and when CETERA fit, I wrote her on in.

Some early goofs:

"saute PAN" for SAUCE pan (yielding Topeka Saving Time)
"castinets" - just can't spell.
"resin" for ROSIN. Forgiveable

The clue for COVERS is why I love Saturday puzzles. "Guards" as in covers the paint. Brice Johnson. What a blocked shot, man. Beastly. Helloooo Notre Dame!

But here’s the one that really had me stymied – "Boone" just wouldn't fit for MATHIS. Hmm. I mean, c'mON! I don't think I even knew Mathis sang that, because for me and my fellow crooners, it was all Debby, baby.

So many days, I'd sing in the mirror,
Waiting for someone to give me some props.
Curling iron-come mic, I sang with emotion;
My eyes were shut closed, my face all screwed up…

Look. I'm a sheet snob. I'd put using satin sheets right up there with ordering a Hennessy and coke or wearing a perfectly-matched tie and pocket square; they think they're coming across as all sophisticated and discerning, but they're not fooling those of us who truly understand good taste. Sigh. Let's see, who else can I insult here?

Nice puzzle, Damon!

NCA President 8:20 AM  

A little more difficult than yesterday, still under my average...which is well above the 8 minute mark some people can do...

Chow fun? Seriously. CHOW FUN? Yeah, no.

I am the opposite of a car guy. There are people who know models and makes of obscure car types, and then there are people who couldn't care less. 458 or 488 or 727 or P90x...people who drive Ferraris have way too much money, IMO.

I knew WILLACATHER because I grew up in Nebraska. She was sort of the Nebraska equivalent to Laura Ingalls Wilder as a woman who wrote about life on the prairie. They have a museum dedicated to her there in what is still basically prairie in Red Cloud, NE.

MOMJEANS and MORMON took awhile. And speaking of Nebraska, where the highest mountain is basically just a geological speed bump, we have no word for a "cluster of mountains." In Nebraska, growing up, we called those the Rockies...and driving west for our summer vacation in Estes Park, as those mountains would rise up on the horizon, not once did anyone in my car say, "Hey look! It's a massif of mountains! We're getting closer!" So yeah, that's a new word I didn't know about an hour ago when I woke up this morning.

Teedmn 8:40 AM  

I'm with @Rex on the easy. While I had to start in the NE with MEANS IT and slide down the staircase towards the SW, this gave me CATHER, making the NW fill right in. The SE gave me the toughest time. I have a MEMORY HOLE regarding "1984" which I last read in 1984 for a "1984" party a friend threw. So I put in Mind PolicE and had to dig out of that HOLE.

Compared to yesterday's puzzle (which I loved, don't get me wrong), this was a 19 minute Saturday romp. I live with someone who sees a lot of things as "fixed" so IN CAHOOTS is said often here at home which I meet with a sigh or "Riiiiggghhht" (cue eye roll). So I can't wait to show my husband the puzzle and ask him if he was IN CAHOOTS with Damon Gulczynski!

This puzzle did not make me FEEL like a TOTAL IDIOT but there's still plenty of time left in the day :-)!

Hartley70 8:45 AM  

I began just as Rex did, but I wasn't bothered by any of the fill. It was a fine Saturday.

There was a fair bit I didn't know, MEMORYHOLE, MASSIFS, LETHERCRY, LAMESA, RATINE, OXLIP, and INKSTONE, so I can't fathom why I finished this faster than usual for a Saturday puzzle.

I just have one nit that I imagine everyone will share. Of course, I thought the constructor was very unfair to Debby Boone. Or maybe even just as unfair to Didi, an excellent lip syncer in the film who got there first. How do I remember this? MATHIS has so many great hits that "Chances Are" there was a more apt clue. Duh.

Aketi 8:47 AM  

Hahaha, after a short IDYLLic period when there were a string of puzzles that were so in my wheelhouse,I was deluded into a a false belief that I was actually getting better at solving crossword puzzles. I definitely have felt STYMIED recently. I FEEL like all the constructors were IN CAHOOTS with each other to demonstrate just what a TOTAL IDIOT I am at solving puzzles. I'd have a glimmer that perhaps I had once upon a time known and answer but it just disappeared down some MEMORY HOLE my brain that had no EXIT,

Plus all the intricate discussions of grammar on the blog which make me want to shut my eyes and chant Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo which I tried very hard to understand and might have for a nanosecond before my brain let go of it and then tossed it in the MEMORY HOLE as if it were a grenade about to go off and explode the few remaining gray cells I have left. The grammar comments all seem so elusively astute when I read them. The lifespan of my thinking I understand the grammar discussions is definitely shorter that that of a TSETSE fly, more like the lifespan of a mayfly,

I felt a little better when today when I retrieved the LFC OXLIP out of a MEMORY HOLE and the puzzle was mostly in my wheelhouse, I started climbing use the MASSIFS that are ATILT from the southwest pausing briefly at LAMESA thinking it would have been great if it were and at MAXIMA thinking it should have been at the top.

Interesting cross of MOM JEANS and SAUCEPANs which reminded me of my five year attempt at being that smug parent that cooks wholesome food for their kid before I wore myself out and discovered Fresh Direct delivers ready to cook meals. I promptly delegated that responsibility to my husband so he could pat himself on the back for cooking.

jberg 9:19 AM  

First of all, let's hear it for DELLA Street, the creation of our old friend Erle Stanley Gardner!

Second, I'm not even going to try to count the cheater squares. I thought they gave the grid an interesting look, but I'm surprised @Rex didn't complain about them.

Third, despite my eating lunch in the eponymous pub about twice a week -- and it has a biography of the guy on the back of the menu -- I thought that Robert EMMETt spelled his surname with an extra T, which held me up in the NE for a really long time.

ETCETERA will always remind me of Yul Brynner in "The King and I," so I didn't mind the plural. And you can't spend any time at all in the mountains without hearing someone talk about some MASSIF or others, although pluralizing it is a stretch. RATINE, though -- I almost gave up ROTORS to put in bATIste there, except it was too long. And for a moment there I was willing to go with ATyLT/OXeye.

So it was a struggle for me, nothing like 8 minutes. But I enjoyed it, so thanks Mr. Gulczynski!

Anonymous 9:19 AM  


That unfortunate cross soured an otherwise great puzzle.

Z 9:22 AM  

A little crunchier here than for OFL. COstar before COLUMN certainly didn't help. Unlike Rex, I smiled at MASSIFS, a fine word. Lots of other good stuff, but there is an over-reliance on PPP here, partially another result of the low word count.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Products, and Proper Nouns as a % of answers

25/64, 39%. I predict struggles, especially in the north wher 4D through 10D are all PPP answers. The list:

IDYLL (as clued)
SATAN'S Mistress
MATHIS (@LMS - When Gibson wouldn't fit I went with "crooner" to get MATHIS - wrong wrong answer, wrong squared, here)
DELLA Street

EMMET Robert (or is it Robert EMMET?)
SAUCE PANS (as clued)
Bill Haley & the COMETS
Roger MOORE*
Daniel DAE Kim

*I hear he drives as Aston Martin, now, instead of a Chevy.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 AM  

Certainly a striking grid! Nice puzzle, too.

Had never heard of RATINE, but as a former skier, had no problem with MASSIFS.

Three w/o's: 13 A, RESIN >> ROSIN; 14 A, MAN JEANS >> MOM JEANS; and, 35D, OXEYE >> OXLIP.

DJG 10:07 AM  

Well, I'm glad to see a lot of the commenters enjoyed it more than Rex did. I thought it was a solid Saturday puzzle.

If you are interested in extended constructor notes, check out my blog:

PS -- Personally I think massifs is a very cool word.

Mohair Sam 10:11 AM  

Rickie Lee Jones and Bonnie Raitt from 1985! Thanks for the link @Rex, loved it. But you do know that if they were answers in this puzzle you'd be bitchin' about how dated the thing was. Dating yourself a bit there too.

Had identical experience to Rex starting in the NW, but built off CATHER much more slowly, and enjoyed the puzzle much more too. Fooled by the MARMADUKE clue, thinking of some snooty dog name to go with Winslow. Misdirect on MORMON cost us some time. Didn't help that I misspelled CASTANET for the longest time, Lady Mohair pointed out that there probably were no Sons of the Imerican Revolution.

As part of an SNL skit from the late '70s Debbie Boone was ostensibly kidnapped, the ransom being a demand for the destruction of all existing copies of the song "You Light Up My Life". The audience cheered mightily. Might even be the SNL episode where Rickie Lee Jones did her "Chuck E's in Love" live - you oughta YouTube that one.

Good Saturday - played medium here. Thanks Damon Gulczynski.

jsquared 10:23 AM  

The clue for 37 down is, "Any of Les Nations Unis." So shouldn't the correct answer be the singular "etat?"

Nancy 10:31 AM  

The NW came in so quickly, I thought I was in for an easy time. Wrong. I struggled through this puzzle with great determination and stubbornness, and I ended up with only one missing letter: a Natick at the -ETHERCRY/-AMESA crossing. I was initially both STYMIED and STUMPED -- and that's because I had STuMpED instead of STYMIED at 46A. Was CHAp a kind of latte? I knew I should have spent at least a few hours of my life in Starbuck's. I also had LILLe instead of LILLY at 36D, which prevented me from seeing ESPYS. (You certainly don't expect me to have known Daniel DAE Kim, do you?) And I had defOE before EA POE.

I liked MEMORY HOLE -- but because of my own MEMORY HOLE (for which Big Brother is not in the least responsible), I didn't remember it. I also liked MOM JEANS and the clue for SATIN SHEETS. But it took me forever to get CETERA at 27A. To me, a small "c" from the Latin will always stand for CIRCA. For me, there were too many proper names, but the puzzle was a worthy adversary and gave me the challenge I expect on Saturday.

Chaos344 10:41 AM  

It seems Rex, LMS, and I started the puzzle identically. Took me longer than 30 seconds. I can't even type that fast. I reached the same point in about 2 minutes. Like Rex, I thought this was going to be a really easy puzzle, but I got STYMIED in the upper central around the TEXMEX area. I had a few other minor snags, so ended up just a bit faster than my normal Saturday average. I agree with most of OFL's critique, but overall I liked the puzzle.

@George Barany: INKSTAND? Was that a typo in your comment?

@LMS: Reread the clue Loren. It says, "guards on the gridiron." Nothing to do with guards on the hardwood. No paint to cover. Football guards are to the right or left of the center. The guard's job is to protect (cover) the quarterback from the incoming defensive line and linebackers during pass plays, as well as creating openings (holes) for the running backs to head through.

Yeah, Like you, I thought of Debbie Boone first. She was a real goody-two-shoes. Her little sister Cherry? Not so much! Cherry was the Mylie Cyrus of the Boonies. Daddy had to keep a real close eye on her!

Thanks for providing the usual laugh, vis-a-vis your revised lyrics to You Light Up My Life. Belated props if you're still waiting for them. Who didn't sing in front of a mirror with a hair brush or something akin to it?

One last thing. So your a sheet snob huh? You'd never deign to use percale, would you? What's your poison? Egyptian seamless cotton/800 thread count or better? If you've never tried satin, don't knock it. Speaking only for myself, it was never about trying to appear sophisticated or discerning. It was always about the pure hedonistic delight of indulgence. From a strictly tactile point of view, there is nothing quite like climbing into a heated waterbed with satin sheets. I believe the experience is probably as close as one can come to returning to the womb. I used satin sheets exclusively for over twenty years. They come in a plethora of colors and thread counts. They do require fastidious maintenance, but not as much as silk. Of course, you should keep bath towels handy for "that special moment" as they say in the Cialis commercials!

Only six comments so far? Hope it doesn't take six hours to get the next batch of comments posted. Yesterday's gap was ridiculous.

mac 10:56 AM  

Enjoyable Saturday puzzle, but not easy for me. More a medium.

Mom jeans is funny. Plenty of good clues and answers.

I started of with maples for rotors, but things sped up when I took it out. Still
thought there would be another tree in that spot.

Pretty quick, so on to the Saturday Stumper.

Chaos344 11:10 AM  

@Z: Agree 100%. The PPP count was way high, and future comments will most likely bear that out. I was fortunate that I knew most of them, but I needed the crosses on many. Didn't know that there was a West Jordan Utah. I should have fired in MARMADUKE off the KE I already had in place, especially since I used to read that strip all time and owned a Harlequin Great Dane at one time. Just couldn't remember the name of MARMADUKE'S owners. Never heard of chow fun. Had to get LOMEIN and MASSIFS entirely from the crosses.


Hungry Mother 11:12 AM  

Easy for me as well, just over a half hour.

cwf 11:36 AM  

Hootie and the Blowfish!?!?!? Please. I had coincidentally been washing the dishes immediately before I started this and I was using, yes, lemon-scented AJAX. So that went in, then MOMJEANS and with a stumble here and there, proceeded clockwise quickly. There is, by the way, nothing wrong with MASSIFS. It's a perfectly cromulent word familiar to anyone who has ever climbed a mountain or read a Jon Krakauer book.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

If a fictional family had a dog, wouldn't it be, by definition, also fictional? So the clue should have been "dog owned by the Winslow family"

ASSHOLE & Me didn't fit, I went with Moore. Plus I actually saw the POS when it came out. Why I have no idea

Fortunately all I had to do for "458 and 488 on the road" was look in my garage. not.

And would have loved to have seen OBAMAS Mistress. A sure fire horror picture.

Fred Romagnolo 11:57 AM  

Indian laughs: INCA HOOTS

Joseph Welling 12:08 PM  

jsquared: what makes you think "any" has to be singular?

For example, "Any of you guys coming with me?"

For no good reason, DRAWS came to mind almost immediately, and the whole puzzle went like that for me. I was definitely on the same wavelength as the constructor this time.

Z 12:12 PM  

Reread and found two typos. I can't even blame autocorrect, so I blame Bond.

@jsquared - do you say "any is" or "any are?" I'm thinking, "Any members of the United Nations are 'states.'"

@Chaos344 - I see the Freep sports writers are in a panic over V-Mart and the backend of the pitching staff. I swear it is starting to be more and more like living in Philly or New York. Sports radio seems to believe that the way to better ratings is going Chicken Little before the first pitch. Fortunately, I barely listen to sports radio. Of course, it could be worse. I could be a White Sox fan.

Will F 1:20 PM  

Ridiculously easy for a Saturday (6:39 with no googling needed).

Maruchka 1:28 PM  

Currently rereading CATHER's "The Song of the Lark". So t'was the first fill-in and only gimme. Not easy, several googles, some do-overs: Blades/ROTORS, resin/ROSIN (doh), burlap/RATINE.

Fav of the day - CAHOOTS. Good mouth FEEL, no?

Agree with @LMS on SATIN SHEETS. Silly, slippery things.

COVERS made me crazy. Tarp, maybe. I guess it's allowable. Grr. And LILLY practiced frauds that probably had old Eli spinning. What is it with the drug companies these days? Sorry to see that Shkreli is an alumnus of Hunter, a senior public college in the great CUNY system. Fund it, dammit, Cuomo!

My MEMORY HOLE is expanding. Like the universe.

puzzle hoarder 1:51 PM  

I had a slow start in the NW. RODEO should have been obvious but just wasn't. Hitherto taken out of context baffled me. DFIFT, SNL and ROSIN Sat there unsupported until I came back in from the middle. Yes I felt like a big dip.
There was a lot of POP trivia in this puzzle. I handled it alright until the SE. That was the one part of the puzzle I couldn't finish. 35D could be tip, lip or hip. I chose the latter. My dictionary notes tell me that we just had 43D back in January. As enthusiastic as I am about solving, that kind of trivia doesn't make much of an impression on me. I guessed the much more common RAE. As for the street clue my thinking wasn't even in the ballpark. I really thought I should be looking for some obscure street associated with an obscure capital like an exotic version of Downing street or Pennsylvania avenue. Ironically I was recently doing some Googling on Erle Stanley Gardner and learned he was the source of Perry Mason. I've seen the character in a puzzle before it turns out. My Webster's has a note at the top of page 1166 telling me so. It's dated 7/20/10. I'm sure I haven't looked at it since.
@Z I think the PPP grousing has more to do with the obscurity of it's content than the overall percentage of the puzzle it represents. West Jordan is in the Geographical Names section of Webster's but until today I was unaware of it. Luckily it was out in the open with more crosses and it references a common word. Those corners are where trivia can really kill you.

Z 1:55 PM  

BTW - I recommend @DJG's link. Interesting metaphor and the constructor "pans" many of the same things OFL does. @DJG is with me, though, on MASSIFS.

David in CA 2:36 PM  

@Chaos344 : re. guards - been a long time since I paid attention to football, but I don't ever remember hearing "guard" in that sense. the Guards block, they protect, they guard (e.g. "against the pass rush"), but "cover" was always what was done against receivers.

@puzzle hoarder : re. PPP - gotta agree with Z, it is the percentage PPP not the obscurity. Every PPP answer takes away a possible piece of English language wordplay, which is what Xwords are about for me. A whole bunch of well known (to me) PPPs just make a puzzle too easy - like this one was for many (not me).

WILLACoTtER, LoMESA, and MATtIS all seemed like reasonable names to me - no way to puzzle them out.

Z 3:03 PM  

@puzzlehoarder - One person's obscurity is another person's gimme. AJAX would have been far easier for me clued in some Greek warrior fashion than as a lemony cleaner, but I got it. But when PPP are piled up like MORMON, EMMET, AJAX, NED crossing MARMADUKE the chances of someone being STYMIED goes up. Lots of solvers found this easy, but that's the thing with PPP, if you know it you can fly through the puzzle. What about people for whom Hootie is old school and Johnny MATHIS is a WOE? I'm guessing they aren't breezing through the SW. Personally, I like a puzzle that is tough due to word play or trickery, not puzzles that are tough because I am not familiar with suburbs like Edina or LA MESA. If some 30 year old DNFs in the SW I put that on the puzzle.

da kine 3:04 PM  

For once, I was faster than Rex! 7:20 or so. I liked most of the puzzles. SAR was rubbish, but MASSIFS is a great answer. TSETSEs is fine. I had no problem with all the ERS, either.

Vancouver Nana 3:44 PM  

As a HUGE Perry Mason fan, Street with an office was my favorite clue ever!

LindaPRmaven 4:00 PM  

I was in the MASSIFS most of the time and needed Google to find my way out. The ROTORS turned very slowly. But, appreciated the wit of many of the clues, those for FERRARIS, DELLA and CASTANET especially. RATINE, though, I find beyond obscure. Never heard it, seen it. Struggled with RATTAN for a while. That made sense to me.

Chaos344 4:22 PM  

@Z 12:12 PM: Agreed Z. Fenech and Windsor are just trying to fill space with all the Chicken-Little ink. I go to the FREEP first thing every morning, but only to read the Tigers news. V-Mart may be back Tuesday and there are no serious injuries in the pen. JV looked pretty good today against Philly, but not great. Looked like he was having trouble with the big hook? It wasn't breaking too well. Either that, or he was just tinkering with stuff?

@David In CA: I see your point and its valid. There is a lot of ambiguity in the clue as written. I believe its a matter of constructor intent or rather his somewhat inept attempt at misdirection. Does the constructor mean to use the word "guard" as a verb or a noun? If he is speaking of the actual position as in right guards or left guards, then blockers would be the correct answer. Having said that, the guards primary responsibility on a pass play is to protect the quarterback, or, put another way, "cover his ass" from charging defenders. As you know, guards are never used for pass "coverage." If he was using the word guard as a verb, the correct way to write the clue would have been "Guards against on the gridiron." Hence the ambiguity of the clue. One thing we know for sure though. The constructor definitely wasn't thinking of TARP! I'd like to see the ground crew that could roll that sucker out in a minute or less! ROTFLMAO!

I agree with your reply to puzzlehoarder in regard to the PPP factor. Its the percentage, not the obscurity.

George Barany 4:29 PM  

@Chaos344 -- good catch; INKSTAND in my earlier post was either a typo or autocorrect (not sure). I had STONE which seemed to fit the grinding mortar part of the clue, and INK seemed like a good guess for the calligraphy portion.

Principle of restricted choice, when two guessed crossing answers--neither of which one is particularly confident in--jibe with each other, then the likelihood that they are both correct goes up greatly.

Sonia S 5:28 PM  

Not bad for me (as in, I'm somewhat new to the NYT puzzle, and I was able to solve a Saturday at all, so waving my little flag over here), but IN CAHOOTS took me forever.

MATHIS bolloxed me for a good bit, but there's no path for me to a Saturday finish that doesn't involve a lot of guessing & erasing. I try to think of this as mental flexibility training.

Chaos344 8:07 PM  

@Sonia S:

Oi! Welcome aboard! Wave that Union Jack, or are you from "Down Under?" Irish? Being "bolloxed" is part of this whole Yank experience! Looking forward to your input in the future!

kitshef 10:04 PM  

Average Saturday. Which means, hard, but not demonically so. For a while I thought I might be heading to a major DNF when nothing was coming easily. The key was WILLACATHER from xIxmxCxTxxR (the m being from dEEm,which I had before fEEl).

I know nothing about WILLACATHER. Could not tell you what field of endeavour she was (or is) in, nor her nationality. But it is a name I've heard, and once that went in it was like tipping that first domino.

I loved the SE that @Rex so despised. ATILT is bad, but MEMORYHOLE, DELLA, ESPYS, DAE, OXLIP AND LILLY are all top-notch.

A ton of overwrites, of which my favorite was beethoven before MARMADUKE.

LAMESA/LETHERCRY were a pair of WoEs, but L seemed to be the only letter that could reasonably fit there.

Burma Shave 9:48 AM  


He’s CASTANET for DELLA’s butt, and now they’re INCAHOOTS as lovers.


rondo 10:19 AM  

I wouldn’t call it easy, especially with key write-overs at TOTALloser and the save/quIT/EXIT thing going on in the tuLIP/OXLIP area, notwithstanding RATtan. Those things had me STYMIED for a while, but still finished in +/- 45 minutes, which is acceptable for me. On Saturday. But what an inkfest.

Seeing LA MESA gets me wondering about Ron Diego. I miss his wit.

Seems like a dearth of yeah babies of late. Have to stretch for DELLA Street as portrayed by Barbara Hale. No MEDUSA she. Sorry WILLA.

FERRARIS? Nope. Maybe a Nissan MAXIMA, if I get a raise.

Sometimes I think my MEMORY DRIFTed into that HOLE and I FEEL like a TOTALIDIOT. But I liked this puz and now I will make my EXIT.

spacecraft 11:40 AM  

Okay, guys, I give up. Maybe I'm a TOTALIDIOT, but I cannot for the life of me see how "Produces heat?"--even with the "?"--leads to DRAWS. Somebody is gonna have to shine the light for me. Thus the NW did not fall so easily over here; still, crosses allowed me to get out of there unscathed.

Nor would I call any of the other areas "easy," and I once again rail against these ridiculous solving times. 8 what? 10-minute periods? Yeah, that's a lot closer to reality. Stop it, FL. Just stop it.

As for liking the puzzle, I do. Had to chuckle at the clue for CETERA; Mr. G. must have felt that cluing it via Peter would give us one too many rockers. Hand up for tuLIP.

@Rondo, how could you miss the luscious Demi MOORE, a Damsel of the Day if there ever was one? When she yells down that stairway, "Come back up here and finish what you started!", baby I'm climbin'! I also wouldn't mind a chance to INKSTONE on "Ink Wars." A-.

rondo 4:01 PM  

@spacey - good one for Demi. Musta been sleepin' instead of thinkin' of proposals indecent. As far as DRAWS - guns are sometimes called "heat", so if you produce a gun . . .

Diana, LIW 4:13 PM  

Had about 50% with no help except asking Mr. W (car guy) to verify the FERRARIS. Then, off to look up some of the names that refused to come to my MEMORYbank. Then went on to finish, but I cannot accept the finisher's t-shirt. Hope I can tomorrow!

@Spacey - By the time this is published you'll most likely have heard this many, many times. If you pack heat (wear a gun) you might draw (produce) it if you were so inclined. I shall do neither. I'm a lady. (BTW, you can always look up definitions on Bill Butler's NY and LY Times blogs.)

Speaking of Bill Butler, on his blog he states he had a Natick (he didn't use that word) at MASSIFS/SAR. AND he took 28 minutes. If BB can dnf, I don't feel too bad.

Off to the Convention Center to pick up my "race" number. More like my stroll number. Well, at least it's not a troll number.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 6:33 PM  

Thanks, @Rondo and @LIW. Was no way thinking about old westerns. "Heat" wasn't slang for guns back in that day. I'm reminded of Irving, Allan Sherman's Jewish folk hero, the "142nd fastest gun in the west."

"Now a hundred and forty-one were faster than he
"But Irving was looking for one-forty three!"

Gotta love it.

Handwoven Fabric 2:34 AM  

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