Land 1954 Kirk Douglas sci-fi role / SAT 8-20-16 / Colorful ornamental with trunk / Dark brown quartz sometimes sold as gemstone / 52rd state quarter locale

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Capriole (53A: Capriole => LEAP)
1. An upward leap made by a trained horse without going forward and with a backward kick of the hind legs at the height of the leap.
2. A playful leap or jump; a caper. (
• • •

This is all very competent and also dull. AZALEA TREE METAL STAMP ADJECTIVE NOUN. There are several longish answers that feel very improvised and iffy: SAY YES TO, ONE IN FORTY, IN THIS WAY. There's virtually nothing current here—not the proper nouns, not the slang. Not many GROANERs, I'll grant you that, but mostly this feels like a very professionally made placeholder of a puzzle, one that could just as easily have been published 10, 15, 20 years ago. The cluing is appropriately tricky—puzzle was on the easy side, but not by much. But ... I just can't get excited over SMOKY TOPAZ. Again, adj / noun, stone I've never heard of, shrug. ART BOARD! (20A: Backing for a cartoonist) It's a thing, but .. not an exciting one. Maybe my failure to be terribly entertained is AGE-RELATED. Maybe if I'd lived in the era of RUMBLE SEATs, with ANSON Williams and Ron Howard and the gang at Arnold's, I might feel differently. (Note: I probably meant Potsie and Richie, not ANSON Williams and Ron Howard) (Note further: RUMBLE SEATs were already dated by Potsie and Richie's time)

24A: ___-on-Thames (regatta site)

Some of the clues are pretty clever (1A: Like a Navy seal => WATER TIGHT), and some seem to be trying a little too hard (30A: Girl's name in which the last three letters are equivalent to the first? => IONE). Some were way too easy (25D: Four-for-four Super Bowl-winning QB) (43D: Edmond ___, the Count of Monte Cristo), but mostly things were just ... OK. Here's how you blow a Saturday corner wide open without even trying: get a high-value letter at the beginning of a long answer (today, "J" from JOTS), and then use that letter to plunk that long answer right down into the middle of the formerly empty quadrant (JOE MONTANA).

From there I got RAHS (wrong, it was YAYS), TMI, STONE AGE, INFANT. Usually it just takes one long answer in a quadrant falling for that area to turn from tough to easy. As you can see from that last screen shot, I had ISSUED for 39A: Came (from), which was easily the thorniest thing in the whole grid. With --SUED in place, ENSUED didn't even occur to me. Those initial two letters were the last things I filled in / changed.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Noam D. Elkies 12:16 AM  

Thursday EDMOND, today DANTÈS. Also, the constructor reveals that the corners were preset as WXYZ!

jae 12:16 AM  

Easy-medium for me too, with SW the medium part. I had rAhS before YAYS for way too long, did not read the clue for INFANT carefully enough, kept wanting ONE fortieth but it wouldn't fit...slow corner.

Never heard of SMOKY TOPAZ, but Janet NAPOLITANO went from Homeland to head of the UC system so she show up in the LATimes with some frequency.

At Xwordinfo Mark says one of his criteria was W X Y Z in order in the four corners.

I'm with @Rex, solid but bland, yesterday's was more fun.

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Note to Rex from an old guy: Rumble seats were the coolest thing ever.

George Barany 1:03 AM  

So, @Noam Elkies and @jae have already supplemented @Rex's account of @Mark Diehl's puzzle with fascinating information ... but wait, there's more.

Back on April 1 of this calendar year, it was our privilege to distribute He's So Shy to attendees of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Compare the two grids ... and draw your own conclusions!

Larry Gilstrap 1:33 AM  

Solving late evening while being slightly impaired; what a great idea! I worked so hard to make ONE IN Fifty work that FORTY seemed quite a stretch. I dragged out the calculator, and I'll be damned. Tried to resist METAL STAMP for the longest time. My dad was a machinist and I still use his old tools stamped with his name "MAX." So, I'm guessing that DTEN is a thing in the BOARD game Battleship, but after thinking about my dad, not sure I care. I like that government types are fleeing to academia. NAPOLITANO runs the University of California system and I'm sure she is as happy as a clam, and Secretary Rice is across the bay at Stanford. I thought NED was a character in an old primer. I remember the first time I got stymied on that nasty hidden AND phrase gambit. RANDR for down time. You will see it again.

Loren Muse Smith 3:18 AM  

Rex – I had TMI, INFANT, and ANTE in place, so I kept thinking Eli Manning, whose last name fits with that M_N__N_.

I don't speak car, so my first thought for 57A RUMBLE SEAT was "crank shaft" off the final T. Cars probably still have those.

Entered the grid with ANSON. Used to have a wicked crush on Potsie. I think from there I drifted up the the northeast and then slowly solved all but the southwest, which ultimately had the dnf-blow – the HONDO/DANTES cross. I knew I had seen the name last week, but, oh well. I never guessed at that cross, but I probably would've gone with "Honno/Nantes" for some reason. Maybe "Honto/Tantes."

TARN. Now there's a word.

@jae - I keep meaning to congratulate you on your anniversary. That's a big deal.

@Noam D. Elkies, @jae - I never would've noticed the WXYZ corners. Cool.

@George – thanks for sharing that puzzle. An entry in that one reminded me of a joke a student who's obsessed with trapping told me. He delivered it beautifully, deadpan; I never saw it coming.

Evan - Mrs. Smith, wanna know how to trap a polar bear?
Me: Oh, man – people trap those, too? How on earth do you know about this?
Evan: - it's not too hard. You get an ice saw and cut a hole in the frozen water. Then you set out a bunch of dried beans around the edge of the opening.

I've completely bought in at this point.
Evan – when he climbs out to start eating the beans, you kick him in the ice hole.

GILL I. 6:26 AM  

@Loren...Good gravy, girl. I should tell you my RICE A RONI joke.
Well, I'll start by saying this was a very nice and very quick little romp in the park. But "Not another bite for me" always makes me say say IM FULL....Thank you TESLA for the IM DONE and the $7,500.00 federal tax credit that I will never see because who in the hell can afford your cars.
So Alzheimer's is now referred to as age related? Awful disease.
NAPOLITANO just sitting above SMOKY TOPAZ. She should have stayed in D.C. smoking something. She and Linda Katehi deserve each other.
My mother's birthstone was the beautiful TOPAZ. My dad loved buying jewelry, and for my mom's birthday or for Christmas, he would buy her a beautiful TOPAZ something or other. I don't know how, but he could tell the difference between a quartz and a topaz. Actually, a good quality brown quartz can fetch some big bucks. Just make sure your jeweler is as honest as Lochte.
@LEAPster....YOU are an EPI_TOME and most assuredly the DILLY hateur of HOT AIR....and by gum, you make me laugh!

kitshef 7:42 AM  

Too easy. Somewhere north of a typical Tuesday/Wednesday, but south of a Thursday/Friday. Lends credence to the ‘beginner week’ theory.

Liked seeing NED land, but the rest is poor. There is absolutely nothing to justify fill like DTEN, METALSTAMP and IONE. Well, I did enjoy the aha! when I finally parsed XANDYAXES.

Did not notice the corners but did notice it was a C and a Q short of a pangram.

Hand up for isSUED before ENSUED, IMfull before IMDONE. Also walton before HENLEY, INTHatWAY before INTHISWAY. Tried like heck to squeeze in ONEfortieth at first.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

I-ONE is as good a Battleship guess as any.

Glimmerglass 8:10 AM  

I had I'M full before IM DONE, which reminded me that my grandmother regarded both IM FULL and IM DONE as impolite. She required, "No thank you. I have had sufficient." And my grandchildren think I'm old.

Leapfinger 8:26 AM  

Sure enjoyed having JOE MONTANA keeping company with DANA MERINO. Then there's JOTS and Y. AY. Tittles...

SMOKY TOPAZ is STONEAGE_RELATED. It's a pretty rock, looks quite like a champagne diamond, and much less expensive. As might be expected, I think anything multi-faceted rocks.

Having RAHS in there (like so many others), led to plunking in a FIFTH in place of FORTY; WAFT was nicer than WART, but that (R.L.) STINE_AGE gave me Goosebumps.

It all kept me so engrossed, I never even saw LEAP. I think I misinterpreted 'capriole' for 'cabriolet'. Cabri, Ole?

@GILL, HOT_AIR, moi? I'm in the midst of 106 index; all I do is blend in.

@Loren, sorry, I don't speak TARNish. Also don't know what RUMBLES EAT. Borborygmi, perhaps?

@GB, eerie about that WXYZ Affair. Hope it doesn't lead to an undeclared WAR(T). On the positive side, you gave us a second good puzzle to solve.

I may be somewhat inSENSATE, but some of these SUPERS TORE me a new one in at least three areas today. NEEDLES to say, I never MET A L-STAMP I didn't like. I know, GROANER.

Cheers all around. And I finally get my car back today.

NCA President 8:28 AM  

Fairly easy Saturday. The WXYZ thing is an interesting organizational idea...not sure why it follows that particular'd think it would go clockwise, but it has that zig in there. Things that make you go "hmmmm."

Yesterday I put "Random Playground Retorts" on my Most Disliked Clues™ list. Random Battle Ship clues, if they become a thing, will definitely make the list. Thank gads IONE was a crossreferenced RBS clue also.

I kinda laughed and cried a little at the inclusion of MERINO with JOEMONTANA. It's sort of indicative of his career. So close, and yet so very far away. Putting Montana in there like that and misspelling Dan's name, brutal.

And why people like GROANERs is beyond me. They're called groaners for a reason. You groan when you're disappointed, or if you're in pain, or if you lose your wallet on the subway. I can't think of any time when groaning is a good thing. Ever. Including when you hear a pun. I know today's clue was a meta-pun about groaners...but still. Another thing that makes you go "hmmmm."

I guess I'm feeling a little Arsenio Hall today. Not sure why.


Anonymous 8:38 AM  

Had rAhS for YAYS for far too long (61A), and for some reason confused planes (jUMp??SEATS) with cars (RUMBLESEATS)(57A). Didn't help that BOK was completely unknown to me.

AliasZ 8:54 AM  

My feelings about today's v. yesterday's puzzle was the exact opposite of @Rex's. We both can't be right, can we? Maybe it's AGE RELATED.

Not only did we have DANTÈS today to last week's EDMOND, but MERINO also returns from Sunday. TO is also repeated in SAY YES TO and WISE TO. Is there an echo in here?

IMELDA and HONDO make such a nice couple. HONDO is actually the masculine version of Honda.
IONE to me looks like an interstate highway sign for US Route I.
NAPOLITANO reminds my of canzoni Napoletane rather than Judge Andrew or Janet.

X AND Y AXES, WATERTIGHT RUMBLE SEAT, SMOKY TOPAZ were wonderful entries along a few other winners, although I'm not sure rumble seats are watertight. METAL STAMP and ONE IN FORTY on the other hand seem made up to fit those slots. I can imagine trying to lick a metal stamp to affix to an envelop. Better than a one-in-forty chance you'll cut your tongue.

@LEAP, this one's for you: Capriol Suite by Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine).

Enjoy your weekend.

Teedmn 8:59 AM  

DNF at HONDa/LEaNE. IN THIS WAY, I often shoot my solves in the foot, which for all I know, HONDO did to himself also. One would think I could suss out LEONE but don't BET ON it!

BrEtt favre fits in at 25D but since I first had orTS at 25A, I didn't put that in. In fact, the SW was the only place this puzzle put up any resistance. I did think, in the SE, what in TARNSation is a four letter word for cabriolet (hi @Leapy)? Coup, cart, dray.....but the crosses were all very firm and I had no need for a LEAP of faith there.

I'm on board with the "New Solvers Week" theory. I hope next week to resume my Sisyphean effort to become better at solving. Meanwhile, it was like the season break where everything is in RERUNS and you have to work a little harder to get your entertainment. That's not a judgement on any of this week's puzzles, just on how hard they were for the day of the week.

Thanks, Mark Diehl, for a clean, dreck-free Saturday.

Rita Hayworth 9:16 AM  

Alsheimer's disease isn't always AGE_RELATED. Scary, that.

@NCAP, I've heard GROANERS that were definitely pleasure-related. How about you?

@AliasZ, thank you. ;)

mathgent 9:34 AM  

I think that Rex's B- is too generous. There were a lot of clunkers here. TAPE for "Stick with it." (It should be "You can stick with it."). METALSTAMP. (Metal stamping is a process. A quick search doesn't result in my finding a common tool with that name.). ENSUED for "Came (from)." TODAY for "Something to live for." WISETO for "Seeing right through." (Why the "right"?). ART BOARD.

Are we supposed to be impressed with WXYZ in the corners?

There weren't enough clever clues to counterbalance the sloppiness. (The clues for XANDYAXES and WASP.)

Today's WSJ variety puzzle is a Patrick Berry. I'm ready.

Tita A 9:37 AM  

Random RUMBLESEAT story... Shortly after moving to the US, my folks took a road trip to Maine. They borrowed an old car from a friend. It had a RUMBLESEAT. My mom insisted on sitting back there.

Once my dad got the heap up over 30, my mom's beautiful new straw hat went flying off. She frantically pounded on the back window, waving and pointing at her head. Dad checked the rear view mirror, smiled and waved back, and kept on driving, happy to know she was having such a good time.

Back at the dawn of recorded history, the era this puzzle commemorates, all you needed to play Battleship was 2 pieces of graph paper and 2 pencils.
(@NCA Pres - heaven forbid - at least with RRNs you've got a subset of a mere 7 letters to guess - Random Battleship Clues, like Random Sports Team Abbvs or Random TV Channels, can be anything.)

Since I know I have not gotten dramatically smarter yesterday, I gotta say this was an Easy Saturday.
Oh - I did freak out for a while, after entering embryo at 48A. "What a hailstorm this is going to incite!" is what went through my mind.

That SW was tough, as JOEnamath is one of the few footballers I recognize.

Z 9:38 AM  

DX anyone? See, it could be worse.

As I wrote in IMELDA I was wondering why I can't remember her husband's name. It's not there to be retrieved. IMELDA and her shoes, though? Imprinted with a METAL STAMP in my memory.

I was up late doing a little Fall League prep and had Love, American Style playing in the background (not on TVLand, but some station similar). Richie, Potsie, Mrs. C (with actors I didn't recognize playing Chuck, Joanie, and Mr. C) appeared. Weird synchronicity to see ANSON Williams appear this morning.

The term "Homeland Security" always reminds me of Ben Franklin's Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

"Placeholder puzzle" is an odd descriptor, isn't it? It seems to imply that "professionally made" and "appropriately tricky" isn't good enough. Guess what - the world operates because of people doing tasks in professional, appropriate ways. I generally agree with Rex, but that phrase I could do without.

mathgent 9:41 AM  

As a life-long San Franciscan, I feel compelled to twit those who gave serious consideration to BRETTFAVRE or ELIMANNING as four-time Super-Bowl winners. Brett one, Eli two. JOEMONTANA is the man!

Brian 9:45 AM  

Proper name HONDO crosses 3 proper names • JOEMONTANA • DANTES • LEONES
One name crossing is bad, 3 is unheard of.

Carola 9:47 AM  

Nice puzzle, and nice and easy on my virus-challenged brain. WASP got me going, and I criss-crossed my way apace down to rAhS...except it had to be IN THIS WAY, so I changed it to YAhS (acceptable to a Scandinavian); it took me a while, well, two alphabet runs for HO?DO, before I saw ONE IN FORTY.

My heart LEAPt up at TARNS, one of those words for which I feel an unaccountable affection....a mistily romantic dark pool surrounded by larches and cedars... I liked IMAX over MEGA, enjoyed writing in RUMBLE SEAT, and wondered about the cross of ONE (IN FORTY) with IONE (since the "ONE" part is emphasized in the clue.

Mohair Sam 9:52 AM  

Kind of in agreement with @Rex's take today. Played just a little easier than we like a Saturday, but maybe that's because we had a good guessing day, and some of the PPP fell straight into our wheelhouse.

Read "Two years Before the Mast" just a few months ago (ignore the silly movie, it is an amazing piece of non-fiction - oh how different the world was), so DANA a gimme. As were DANTES, JOEMONTANA, AMELDA, HENLEY, NAPOLIANO all gimmes. And TESLA, HONDO, and RUMBLESEAT accurate guesses. How tough could this one be?

Hand up with the gang with rahs before YAYS. Even tried to squeeze ONEfortieth in there somehow to make the H in rahs work, but HONDO forbade that.

@Leapfinger - Nice catch on the NFL Quarterbacks, especially Y. AY. Tittle. Great memory for old 49er and Giant fans.

DTEN? We're going to have Battleship locations in the NYT puzzle? Jeez that's random as all hell. You'd think Will Shortz would at least demand something off the chess board. King's bishop four counts out to fifteen letter you know, or KBIV - at least it sounds snooty.

Nancy 9:52 AM  

Loved it. I loved the misdirection of WATERTIGHT (1A); INFANT (46A); TEETH (10D). I was very cautious -- perhaps too much so -- but since I couldn't confirm either GROANER OR TEETH with the crosses, though I thought of both immediately, I wrote in RERUNS at 5D and then went straight to the NE. MEGA to AGE RELATED were my toeholds, and ARTBOARD got me back to the NW.

I needed the JOE to get JOE MONTANA. Surprising, because he may have been my favorite QB of all time -- even though he played for a non-NY team. But I've always loved the 49er uniforms, what can I say? Call me superficial. But he was such an incredible passer and he had real charisma, not the smarmy, fake charisma of the obnoxious Tom Brady. (There, I've said it.)

Like everyone else, I was frustrated when ONE FORTIETH wouldn't fit -- and only when I changed RAHS to YAYS did I get the answer. Was that a deliberate trap? How about it, Mark D? A very good one, if it was. And a very nice puzzle that I enjoyed solving.

Like everyone else, I had RAHS before YAYS

Nancy 9:57 AM  

Every once in a while, a sentence that I've typed in one place, turns up hidden at the bottom where I can't see it, and, therefore, I can't return it to its proper place. It only becomes apparent after I click on Send. I have no idea why this happens. Sigh.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Definitely! Granddad had a new Cadillac and an older Ford w/rumbles eat. Guess which one the grandkids wanted to ride in?

Tim Pierce 10:13 AM  

How can anyone not like SMOKY TOPAZ? No, really, how? Hey, I've never heard of this particular stone either, but it's hardly news that some gemstones can be "smoky", and the phrase is just so evocative. Sheesh.

QuasiMojo 10:19 AM  

Like Nancy, I enjoyed this puzzle. Some clever cluing and fun, fresh answers. I liked seeing Smoky Topaz. What's not to like? Rex didn't complain about the adj/noun issue the other day when all we had were those, and some real groaners. At least these make you think and you might even learn something. Rumble Seats are a delightful fixture of old movies. I wish they had not gone out of fashion. I doubt you'll see one on a Tesla. Only annoyances were "Ione" (who on earth or outside of Racine has that name?) and "yays." The word where I come from is "yea" or "yeah" -- but I still give this puzzle a thumbs-up!

Hartley70 10:28 AM  

I never met an AZALEATREE. They're bushes in my yard and most of the time they're snacks for the deer that wander through.

I tried Joe Namath and Eli Manning first.

I started collecting those state quarters and boy am I sorry now. This holder I have wants Denver and Philadelphia mint for each and my excitement waned before I filled all the little holes. It's all those islands and territories that were issued last that did me in. Oh and did I mention that I did two sets? One for each "kid" in their thirties now. All this before the demise of coinage. I only shop with plastic today. I may go on a wild spending spree at the dollar store or buy the rest on eBay. It's up in the air.

I can't call this easy because it was right on my usual time. I think it's medium and very smoothly done, albeit without much sparkling humor. That's okay with me today. Solid B for "Good".

G.Harris 10:46 AM  

I,too, assumed that Azalea was a bush for a long time. I finally,and reluctantly changed it to tree. However spelled tases with a z which prevented getting superstore and could not finish NW without peeking. Same in the NE because I didn't know Dten. Pretty much got the rest which accords a fair measure of satisfaction.

Molson 11:18 AM  

Upon reading the clue for 8D, I immediately entered "DAD JOKE." Then thought, wait, that's too current for the NYT and (correctly) removed it.

Lewis 11:40 AM  

@gill -- That is one terrific/hilarious post!

My favorite clue was the one for WATERTIGHT, and I just love the way the three longs at the bottom (RUMBLESEAT, NAPOLITANO, SMOKYTOPAZ) roll off the tongue. There's a mini-theme of words ending in o (6). Which leads me to the two answers ending in TO (WISETO, SAYYESTO), which I thought was something constructors were supposed to say no to.

A smooth solving experience for me, smoother than usual for Saturday. I don't say this enough -- I am grateful for the time and effort constructors put into making puzzles for pennies, to put some smiles on our faces, satisfying workouts for our brains, all coming from the love of crosswords.

IONE Skye 11:40 AM  

A pleasant if harmless Saturday morning diversion.

Numinous 12:10 PM  

@Carola, I also enjoyed writing in RUMBLE SEAT but nowhere near as much as I enjoyed riding in a RUMBLE SEAT. The one time I did it I must have been three or possibly four years old. I got to sit by myself in the back with my mom and a friend who was driving. The memory is vague but I recall the wind in my face as I sat behind the convertible top. The only other RUMBLE SEAT I recall seeing was rusted out springs and moldy upholstery shreds on a battered old car we decided not to buy.

I was thinking oleS but didn't enter it. IN THIS WAY settled that question for me. I DNFd on SMOKY TOPAZ, having SoOtY instead. Guam is the 53rd state? OK, OK, the 53rd quarter representing states and territories. I also thought dan MERINO for a moment but since the sheep was already there. . . I reckon dOT would have worked for JOT, it is, after all, only a tittle.

Don't ask why because I have no idea but HENLEY just popped right into my head. It was the first answer I just knew was correct. I've never been there and I pay more attention to ROSHAMBO tournaments and "World Poker Tour" broadcasts than I do to regattas*.

With googling, I think this would have been very easy which is why I'll include it in my "Newbie Week" assessment. I'd actually encourage newbies to google for PPPs. I think that is a great way to learn. How many here used to google a lot and no longer need to? I'll bet plenty.

And, again, I want to thank all of y'all for the kind wishes and sentiments for my step-daughter, the soon to be Midshipman. As of yesterday, she is an E5. I'm cutting and pasting all of it and sending it to her.

*Meaning something like zero minus ten.

JC66 12:10 PM  

@ mathgent

Plus Bradshaw & Brady


What @Rita Hayworth said about pleasurable groans.

pmdm 12:26 PM  

No, Mathgent, I don't think we are supposed to be impressed. The constructor simply related to us his first "seed" for the puzzle.

The constructor also tells us that Smoky Topaz was not the first name for the entry for 62A, but Will Shortz absolutely forbids use of that particular name. The original clue was "Man of many words." Can you guess the name?

old timer 12:31 PM  

I thought it was suitably hard for a Saturday. I got through all but the NE corner before seeking help though -- my help was with IMAX after which the rest of the corner was done, with many writeovers.

I think ONEINFORTY is a fine answer, So is ART BOARD. Only demerit is for METAL STAMP. I've seen JOE MONTANA on TV and in person. And have ridden in a RUMBLE SEAT because my live in babysitter when I was 5 or so had a Model A, and in dsys of yore there was nothing wrong with letting a kid ride there with no seat belts either.

mathgent 1:15 PM  


Thanks. I just looked it up. Brady also won four Super Bowls, but he lost two. Bradshaw was four for four, like Montana.

Nancy 1:39 PM  

@pmdm (12:26 p.m.) -- Please, please don't keep me in suspense. What was the original answer for 62A? What is the name that Will S. won't allow? I went to Wordplay blog and looked at the constructor's comments, but nary a word was uttered about any of it. Curiosity is about to kill this cat. Or, if @pdmd has fled the coop for the day, does anyone else know?

Numinous 1:46 PM  

The name he won't allow is WILL SHORTZ. Think about it.

jberg 1:48 PM  

I've often touted the virtues of solving in the paper -- but there can be drawbacks, such as when for some reason, or perhaps for no reason, the paper doesn't get delivered. They finally redelivered it at noon, so I am here quite late.

As a 72-year old, I think I found something a little offensive about 13D. Can't remember what, though.

@pmdm, take a look at the puzzle @George Barany linked to.

This was pretty easy for a Saturday, but I did get held up in the NW because I put in 'bleu' instead of AZUR and _man (going for either g-man or t-man) before WASP. AZALEA TREE fixed all that, and then the rest was easy.

I never noticed the corners thing, though.

Nancy 1:58 PM  

@Numinous (1:46) -- Thank you so much. The suspense was killing me. But other than that final Z -- which seems to have been very important to Mark Diehl, but not in the least to me -- there is not one single letter in common between WILL SHORTZ and SMOKY TOPAZ. Which means that if WILL SHORTZ was nixed, Diehl would have had to completely redo -- I don't know -- a third of the puzzle? Half the puzzle? I am so, so glad that I don't construct crosswords. Something like that would make me slit my wrists.

JC66 2:30 PM  


Check out the puzzle @George Barany linked to

Dick Swart 2:39 PM  

Rays Far Fart for me in SW corner.

Much more interesting!

GPO 3:30 PM  

Medium to medium-hard for me.

I truly do not understand the criticism of today's puzzle. "Improvised" is a bad thing for a crossword puzzle answer to be? How the hell could it be anything else?


Nancy 3:55 PM  

Thanks, George B and thanks JC66...I think. I not only linked to that Mark Diehl puzzle, but I solved it online, cursing at the computer screen the whole time. I was putting in Across answers where I was trying to put in Down answers, and vice versa and I could not for the life of me control the process. Grrrr. But at least George made it possible for me to solve online in the first place, which usually doesn't happen with online puzzles, so for that I'm very grateful. It must have taken me a full hour to solve, hunched over tensely and sullenly at my desk, and erasing more letters than I was putting in because of my enormous difficulty manipulating the tech. I see the marked similarities to today's puzzle, but it was still mostly very different. And I thought it was much, much harder than the puzzle today, though I'm wondering how much of it was due to the frustration of the process. I DON'T KNOW HOW ANY OF YOU CAN SOLVE PUZZLES ONLINE, I REALLY DON'T.

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

@All - I think I've decoded @Nancy's true identity: she's Delia Ephron.

Nancy 4:23 PM  

@Anon 3:57 -- That's too funny! This morning, I found Delia's email contact info and wrote her a letter of commiseration of a sort -- telling her that she had it easy, that she only lost her Internet connection, whereas I lost both my Internet AND my landline and that I had no cell phone and no way of communicating with the outside world. I also told her that I had filed a blistering complaint with the NY State A/G's office, for all the good it will probably do. Wonder if Delia will get back to me?

I might well have written a Letter to the Editor at the NYT instead of writing Delia directly, but it turns out I already have a Letter to the Editor -- on a totally unrelated subject -- appearing early next week. You can only get one letter in the paper every six weeks, so it would have been pointless to write again at this time. I really, really hope, though, that Delia's Op Ed will goose other people who've had horrible experiences with Verizon to chime in. The more light that is shone on their outrageous operation, the better!!!

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

OK. That's your 6th comment. Turn off your computer now.

OISK 4:32 PM  

Very tough for me. I just stared at the NE for the longest time. Just came home from 2 weeks upstate, where the only NY papers I could get were the News and the Post. Two lovely weeks, but where did The Times go? (I only solve on paper). Enjoyed yesterday's a lot, and found it easier than this one.

For one thing, my sports fan persona overpowered my inner scientist, and for "Lightning in his hand" I was looking for a pitcher, or a tennis player. I don't like the clue for IMAX, "tall tale producer"? Because it is a tall screen? Boo! Had I not been familiar with Henley, I don't think I would have finished. Metal stamp? Art board? I don't like the clue for Bet on either. Believe in? Bah! How about "Support," or the easier "Back in Vegas"? Sure, it is Saturday, and I understand that "You can bet on it" justifies the clue, but iI don't care for it at all.

But I finished!! B-

Dolgo 4:54 PM  

Why do similar clues often show up in ensuing days--viz. "merino"?

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

Solved entire puzzle with my daughter. We put with great confidence ELI MANNING for 25D as the first. Then we tried to force DAN MARINO only to finally realize that JOE MONTANA fits the bill. Shows you how much I know about football. I liked the puzzle very much. Lots of aha moments when you get the answers.

Ken Portnoy 5:17 PM  

"La mer" is feminine, while "azur" is masculine. The correct answer should be "azurE"

Nancy 6:24 PM  

Sorry, Anon. When someone here goes to the time and trouble to offer me advice, sympathy, a delightful joke, a compliment, a puzzle they think I'd like, or any other friendly, good-natured banter, I think it's only polite to respond. In fact, I think it would be rude not to. That's just the way I was brought up. But you're in luck. I'm running out to dinner now, and I am turning off my computer. Enjoy the rest of the evening.

Leapfinger 7:10 PM  

@jberg, 72? Forget about it, you're still a youngster!!

@AliasZ, the Warlock capriccio (?) was bewitching, if somewhat marked by athetoid movements. Perhaps they were expressing the musical mood IN THIS WAY. I hope @Fred Romanogla caught the CarUSO TOUR: I remember he's a very big fan. I'm fond of the Neapolitan myself -- you get not only the vanilla, but the strawberry and the cioccolata too!


Z 7:27 PM  

@Nancy - They get the appellation "anonymouse" for a reason. Here's the thing, if I discover that someone's posts consistently don't appeal to me I manage to skip right past them without anyone knowing I did so. As far as I'm concerned, you're fine. Now, if Rex takes umbrage, that's a different story.

Diana,LIW 9:51 PM  

@Lefty from yesterday - One of the things I appreciate about Syndielanders is their honesty about completion vs. dnfing.

Lady Di

Burma Shave 11:44 AM  


TODAY I’m WISETO the fact that I’m WARTy,
IMDONE taking NEEDLES that I’m portly.
are those that I SAYYESTO,
it’s APT that IMAX out at ONEINFORTY.


spacecraft 11:45 AM  

A couple of pleasant memories ENSUED from doing today's puzzle. While in England with the service, a friend and I decided to ride a train to Wales (absolutely beautiful!) and return via a boat ride on the Thames. Oh, not, like, a guided tour: he said we'd have no trouble finding an old rowboat, people were always leaving them sitting around. I'm still amazed at the things I let myself get talked into in those days. Anyway, we "found" (cue J.J. Evans) one and actually rowed right through HENLEY, and visited Windsor Castle (again, enchantingly beautiful). Quite a weekend.

The other memory--and man am I dating myself!--is a ride in the RUMBLESEAT of a Buick Roadster when I was a kid. All the openness of a motorcycle on four wheels! YAYS!

Had a little trouble with 1-across until I noticed that "seal" wasn't capitalized. Heh heh. And that "Usual Suspects" thing eluded me for way too long: it was just MEN, DUH! The Dutch krONE had to become LEONE (?), I guess something newer, never heard of it. And SENSing went to SENSATE. So I wouldn't call it easy-medium, maybe just plain medium.

I don't understand OFL's criteria for "exciting" fill, except that it has to be current. I think perhaps he's terrified of growing old, and is bent on freshness in everything. It's all AGERELATED. Sorry, dude, you're turning into us. It will happen. The alternative...well, we won't discuss that. Anyway, for me, fill is exciting if it jogs good memories, so on that score I have to call this one a rousing success. Touchdown--but he bricked the extra point: let us not play Battleship on our crossword grids, please. We have exotic beauty IONE Skye for the DOD. See ya tomorrow.

rondo 12:33 PM  

Inoffensive enough puz TODAY now that IMDONE with it, but there’s probably enough green paint to do a house, partially (har). And the eastern seaboard takes the XANDYAXES all the way from ATOZ. Harmless enough though.

ODESSA always conjures memories. The first time I was there the closest thing to a SUPERSTORE was a large-ish building filled with individually run stands and kiosks, much like the MN State Fair Grandstand building. Everything ATOZ, TVs to cosmetics (which I purchased for Natasha #1, who would then SAYYESTO about anything and pleasure ENSUED). The shopping situation has since ELEVATED and the last time I was there they had a good sized mall on Derebsovskaya Street, but no SUPERSTOREs.

I would’ve clued 54d as yeah baby and former desperate housewife DANA Delaney.

Nothing really “wrong” here, just seemed kinda plain, but I’m fine with it all. IMDONE.

rondo 12:46 PM  

@spacey - nice call on IONE Skye

leftcoastTAM 2:45 PM  

Went from easy to medium to challenging to a DNF.

Committed to "issued" at 39A, and trouble ENSUED. Thought issued was better answer than ENSUED for "Came (from)" clue. Then MERINO/NED cross eluded me too. All this in the middle.

Next and last, the SE. There, didn't know BOK/SMOKYTOPAZ and blanked at NAPOLITANO (whose name I've read and heard countless times).

A fair and gettable puzzle, given available opportunities of helpful crosses, but not my day.


rain forest 4:57 PM  

I coulda been a contendah today, but AcAciA TREE held me up for way too long. I won't tell you about silly non-words I tried to shoehorn in there, but it was only once I saw that "seal" wasn't capitalized did I get out of the NW. I spent more time there than on the rest of the puzzle, which I enjoyed, despite the very-close-to "green paint" answers (ART BOARD, METAL STAMP).

Yeah, yeah, Terry Bradshaw won 4 SBs too, but there is only one J0E MONTANA. At the risk of some raspberries, I would suggest that Tom Brady is close.

Just wondering: up here in Canada, we have large supermarkets called Superstores - that's their name. Are there large emporia in The States that are actually called Superstores, or is that simply a descriptive name?

Diana,LIW 7:08 PM  

Grrr. No paper delivery today, even when I called them at 7:30 am. Bought one at the store, not yet done.



leftcoastTAM 7:10 PM  

@rain forest--No Superstores, commercially named, that I know of in Oregon or anywhere else for that matter, but I live way up here in the PNW, too, so you'll need a larger sample stateside.

sdcheezhd 8:15 PM  

NEEDLES and ANTE were easy so that means STEVEYOUNG fit so that had me screwed up for a long time.

rondo 9:25 PM  

@rainy - I read the clue for the QB and immediately thought Bradshaw, which of course did not fit.
No brand name of SUPERSTORE, but the MEGA versions of places like WalMart or Target call themselves SUPERSTORES. I try to avoid.
HONDO rhymes with @rondo, so I'm almost there.
ITT not clued as an Addams cousin? Unheard of.

Aviatrix 12:46 AM  

Azur ticked me off. How does that get in? I was writing down all the things la mer can be: bleue, mouillé, profonde, agitée ... I knew it couldn't be too fancy, because how many French adjectives can an American audience be expected to know? And then it's the masculine azur. It says right there in the clue: la mer, so you know it's feminine.

Thank you, Ken, for knowing.

Sonny 3:35 AM  

I tore through this puzzle, but the NE beat me up. TEETH, ARTBOARD, HENLEY, TESLA, XANDYAXES, and IMAX wore me out. I finished in 55 minutes. Usually i can knock off a Saturday in a half hour.

Blogger 4:55 AM  

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