Old city in Kyrgyzstan / SAT 11-12-16 / Lachrymatory agent / Precept about idol worship / Dirty snowballs to some astronomers / 6 11 Kanter of NBA / End of match in rugby / Common database system program

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: comma — in center square: as punctuation mark going Across, spelled out going Down (not actually a theme—more a feature)
  • "NEW YORK [,] NEW YORK" (33A: Sinatra/Bennett duet on the 1993 album "Duets")
  • SECOND [COMMA]NDMENT (15D: Precept about idol worship)
Word of the Day: OSH (46A: Old city in Kyrgyzstan) —
Osh (Kyrgyz: Ош) is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country and often referred to as the "capital of the south". It is the oldest city in the country (estimated to be more than 3000 years old), and has served as the administrative center of Osh Region since 1939. The city has an ethnically mixed population of about 255,800 in 2012, comprising Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Russians, Tajiks, and other smaller ethnic groups. (wikipedia)
• • •

Saw the constructor name and knew it wouldn't be a straight themeless. Turns out it's also not themed, really. It's just got the comma thing going on there, in the center. I don't mind that kind of throwaway, decorative trick, I guess. Wasn't too hard to uncover. It's a bit sad, though, to see an idea that clever but to have it expressed only once. Half-hearted. Weak. Seems like you might've saved it for some puzzle where you could built a coherent theme around it, instead of just dumping it in a Saturday puzzle. But no matter. It's cute for what it is. The rest of the grid, though, is pretty dull overall, and the fill way too creaky. Also, this puzzle should've been D.O.A. with a grid that has both ESTATE and TESTATE in it. That's ridiculous. It's one thing to replicate letter strings (you usually don't do it for strings longer than four letters). But that's practically the same *longish* word. Just put a "T" on the front. It's like ESTATE is wearing a really bad fake mustache and going, "What do you mean this is my second time in the grid? Why, that's preposterous, sir. How dare you!" Really, really bad form. The rest of the bad fill is just bad fill (OSH ASLOPE HET RIDA ROOS ASRED (ugh) REGNAL ORONO EXE  ... and then ENE *and* ENES? Oy).


I stumbled into this grid, moving from one answer to the next via crosses, but somehow not staying put in one part of the grid. This is my opening gambit:


Normally I don't meander this much. Stay put. Work crosses. Make steady progress. That's my m.o. But sometimes you just gotta let the flow take it where it takes you. You can see here that I thought DARN (like a sane person) and figured out the REG- part of 27A: Monarch-related but really didn't know what to do when REGAL wouldn't fit.


I'M GLAD there are some good parts, notably the hilariously incongruous TEAR GAS / SEX SCENE stack in the NE. That's like the answer to the question: What is the least sexy kind of SEX SCENE? Didn't really have any trouble with this puzzle at all, except with the DERN clue, which ... ugh. Come back to the present, little Sheba! I've seen "Dad-blamed" soooo many times in crossword clues. And. Only. In. Crossword. Clues. DERN is an actress. And an actor. It is not a hick form of "darn." That is insane. A gaggle of AMYS shopping for RCAS coulda told you that.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

69 comments:

kitshef 12:12 AM  

Yesterday I gave the phrase-heavy puzzle a free pass, due to the familiarity and evocativeness of those phrases.

Today, the opposite. REPORT GENERATOR is terrible. GET INTO TROUBLE is pretty bad. NO REASON is middling at best. IM GLAD is terrible.

And there is lots of other D-league stuff: ORONO, ENE, ASLOPE, ASRED, ENES spring to mind.

Or perhaps I’m just grumpy because my program considered my solution was ‘wrong’ due to using the comma, rather than the rebus COMMA.

No, that's not it. It’s just a crummy puzzle. OSH two days in a row?

High point was childhood memories of lying down across the REAR SEAT as we drove home after some event, hearing my parents chat, enjoying the darkness and the cool night air … an experience now lost to our children, thanks to safety seats and responsible parenting.

Daryl 12:13 AM  

Agree with you that it was all a bit meh. Though AMYS reminded me of the great DC pizza place Two Amys.

steveo 12:14 AM  

I thought it was a fun puzzle. Fun to find the comma. I always enjoy a good grid spanner.

Also, I never heard of Osh before, but they have streetview, and I found an interesting scene there.

https://twitter.com/shadow/status/797305849060491264

Daryl 12:15 AM  

@kitshef - the iOS crossword app accepted the comma, so I guess it depends on the platform. Comma chameleon, you come and go.

Daryl 12:17 AM  

Also I read the strawberry cross from TEAR GAS SEX SCENE as ASS RED and thought the NYT was getting way too risqué.

jae 12:17 AM  

Medium for me with the North slightly tougher than the South. Tried Edu before EXE thinking that would be where a college application might go. Also, ESter before ESSIE (just guessing around).

WOEs: ENES and NO SIDE and the spelling of OPUSES kinda, but what else could it be?

Liked the 15s and the rebus, so liked it better than @Rex did.

@Rex, thanks for your diligence, it's appreciated.

George Barany 12:18 AM  

Thanks @Rex for the review. @David Kahn is one of my favorite constructors, but this particular puzzle wasn't really up my alley. Then again, it could just be the lachrymators.

I'm never particularly fond of random directional clues, though I'll grant the majority of the crossword community would look disapprovingly at a chemistry clue like "Organic compound with a double bond" for ENE. BTW, that same clue could be pluralized for ENES, a basketball player I was not previously acquainted with.

Second day in a row for OSH, which is particularly amusing because @Damon Gulczynski specifically discussed how this word should be clued at his own blog. Yesterday's @Rex blog discussion had numerous moving comments about Veterans Day, which I would like to acknowledge and salute.

Johnny Vagabond 12:22 AM  

Love the mustache comment for testate. Hit me quite funny. Still laughing. Must have needed the catharsis. Thank you.

Jyqm 1:14 AM  

@jae - you're absolutely right to raise your eyebrow at "opuses." The proper plural of "opus" in a musical context is, of course, "opera."

jae 1:31 AM  

@Jyqm - thanks, good to know.

Anonymous 1:42 AM  

Look for Asra Nomani (a Muslim) conversation with Anderson Cooper.

Larry Gilstrap 2:36 AM  

Wow! Let's talk about the puzzle. Not ready to google, but who said "The art of making a point without making an enemy"? Maybe a blind guessing game could be fun. I'll go first; Dr. Johnson? Dick Cavett? Anderson Cooper? I know Bartlett's has a large section crediting Anonymous. TACT seems appropriate in tempestuous times. That'll be the day.

I was trying to squeeze in SECOND AmeNDMENT, but I yielded to a higher authority. Idolatry of a weapon? I guess in some circles.

I haven't visited Mayberry R.F.D. in years, but, correct me if I'm wrong, I only remember one little kid, so OPUSES is superfluous. We, grudgingly, have gotten used to "anal" as describing a personality trait, can REGNAL be far behind? Dear Santa, I want a red velvet cloak with an ermine collar.

Loren Muse Smith 5:09 AM  

I can't believe I didn't get the COMMA deal. Maybe I just gave up too fast. I filled in every square except that middle one.

Rex – I agree with @Johnny Vagabond - your ESTATE/TESTATE riff was hilarious. It reminded me of this Kristin Wiig scene from Bridesmaids. ESTATE enters 8 seconds in, and TESTATE enters at the 2:13 mark.

@kitschef – I disagree! I loved NO REASON and thought the clue ("just wondering") was terrific. Felt BEQsome in its spot-on accuracy.

@jae and @Jyqm - I was going "etudes" before OPUSES. Didn't know the plural info.

"nap" before TEN
"hot" before HET
"sis" before SIB

Liked NO crossing NYET.

My favorite TACT quote: Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.

David Kahn – I sure wish I'd been more tenacious. I love little tricky gimmicks on a Saturday!

Scott Thomas 5:13 AM  

Delighted to see, as Rex's lead art, the rainbow comma that is a symbol of the wonderful United Church of Christ, THE most progressive Christian denomination. Why a comma? It comes from a letter Gracie Allen left for George Burns after her death, which said in part, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma." That is, God is still speaking. The rainbow, of course, extends the UCC's welcome of affirmation LGBTQ people.

Hartley70 5:21 AM  

@kitchef, I loved your summer night car ride reverie. That cool night air in your face felt divine before you returned home in the days before air conditioning. Today, we'd be strapped in and the windows would be hermetically sealed to keep the cool air in. If it was warm enough we wouldn't even leave home at all.

The comma was cute and unexpected. I liked both those crosses. A single rebus is better than no rebus at all in my opinion.

The rest of the long entries were very straightforward and perhaps a little too easy for Saturday. Unlike Rex, the short fill didn't bother me. At the moment it's long suffering Uma and Oreo that drive me nuts. I suppose TACT was my favorite answer, but I think yesterday gets my Puzzle of the Week prize. The tricky cluing put it over the top.

ZenMonkey 6:08 AM  

Damn, darn, durn. But not DERN. Never ever. Awful.

The comma was fun.

pauer 6:09 AM  

Fun one, DJK!

ESTATE and TESTATE are unrelated, so I wouldn't call that a dupe even though it looks like one. (Estate is from "state" and testate is from "witness") I would've avoided the "top" repeat in TOPHAT and the CAPRA clue, though. ONE is also in the grid and the TOPHAT clue, but I'd leave that alone since "one" is such a common word (see also: "and" and "the").

@kitshef: You can also just use the first letter for a rebus square, at least in Across Lite.

Glimmerglass 7:05 AM  

Easy, my eye! I really struggled with this one. It took me forever to see the comma [ndment]. I had just about decided to give up on the NE, when SEX SCENE, um, emerged. By the way ESTATE and TESTATE are not at all the same word.

Leapfinger 7:23 AM  

Here's how one GETS INTO TROUBLE:

Last fill: Literary terror
First thought: OFL

Carola 7:32 AM  

Yeah, @Glimmmerglass, no kidding. I was going to start out by saying, "I'm glad this was easy for some people.". First pass, I was looking at USA and COMETS with zero yield on crosses. The Downs at least got me ROOS and NYET, which allowed a guess at NEW YORK and then a slow crawl to the finish. I backed into the central COMMA from the East, when there wasn't enough space for a word between the two NEW YORKs.

Interesting (to me) cross of SEX SCENE and GETS INTO TROUBLE, which in my youth meant "Get pregnant."

Today's departments:
Mistake that helped: Writing in the entire commaNDMENT, thinking there might be a Roman numeral at the top.
Small moment of triumph: Getting NO REASON from the ON. Loved that one.
One of these times I'll get it right: OctetS-->OPeraS-->OPUSES
Learned from previous crosswords: Flo-RIDA
Forgotten from previous crosswords: OSH

@kitchef - I loved your REARSEAT memory!

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

MW11-OPUS, pl. OPERA, also OPUSES.

The Rhino 8:08 AM  

I was very confused - I'm of a Lutheran bent and we number the commandments differently (I'd say correctly but maybe we don't need a religious argument today). 1. No false idols and 2. Don't take The Name in vain.

Overall too tough for me. Had to cheat early and often.

-the rhino

NCA President 8:11 AM  

This puzzle started out challenging and ended up being easier than usual. Not sure why except that once I got a few squares filled, it just sort of filled itself in. Weird.

Only a couple of groaners: Overnight "letters" and Pacific. In retrospect they seem fair enough, but while I was solving, they were just groan-worthy. Actually, more specifically, they seem to be outliers to the rest of the puzzle. I could be wrong...it's still early.

I got the rebus early enough, but it threw me because, Saturday! and also it made me start looking for rebuses elsewhere. So part of the reason I got off to a shaky start was because I kept looking for another trick. There was none. Mkay.

Random City Directional Coordinates™ (RCDC™)...ugh.

I'd give it a B+...above above average, just south of slightly superior. Minus those two outliers and the RCDC™ I mentioned, it might have got an A-.

evil doug 8:17 AM  
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evil doug 8:30 AM  
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evil doug 8:31 AM  

jUdO instead of SUMO. With all the foreign players finding their way into the NBA, "Enej" seemed possible. "I'd GLAD" wouldn't have, had I noticed....

My least favorite sex scenes involve the testate gland....

Z 8:42 AM  

Two days in a row ending at an a/e whac-a-vowel. At least @JoePancake now knows why he got the clue he did, b'gosh.

@steveo - How appropriate considering 13D. Here it is as a link.

@Scott Thomas - A good thing to remember, thanks for sharing.

Agree with Rex on just about everything. @pauer - I don't think Rex called TESTATE/ESTATE a dupe. I think he said, "(you usually don't do it for strings longer than four letters). But that's practically the same *longish* word." Note "practically" and "(letter-)string." Besides ENE/ENES, EDENIC also made me groan. I'm half surprised we did get a whacky letter clue for "ens" somewhere.

Writeovers included probATE, telEPHONE NUMBER, and number GENERATOR (was briefly thinking we were getting some sort of number theme). Decent puzzle, but I'm not AWED.

Nancy 8:52 AM  

I seem to be out of lockstep with the group over the last two days. Everyone loved yesterday's puzzle, but it didn't do all that much for me. Now, today, lots of people are putting down this puzzle, which I think is terrific! Loved the comma! As Hartley says: a tiny rebus is better than no rebus. And on a Saturday! What a wonderful surprise. I also loved how impossible it was for me at the beginning -- it seemed like I read dozens of clues before I found a place to enter. And then, happily, I was able to work my way back. I had started quickly with TEARD at 7A, expecting to write in TEAR DUCT, but then realized it didn't fit, erased the D and left the TEAR. 54A was a real shock to me: in my old-skewing demographic, HOME PHONE NUMBERS are given out readily -- and not only for an emergency. It's the cell phone number you don't give out, assuming you even have a cell phone. (I didn't have one, btw, until the @$#%$ Verizon nightmare of a few months ago.) But NEAT at 50D made me realize that it couldn't be CELL PHONE NUMBER.

I loved the clues for SEX SCENE; GROG; PLAN A and TESTATE and COMETS (That's what they call them?). A delightful puzzle. If it weren't for my Trumpsomnia, I'd be feeling EDENIC right now.

Phil Schifley 8:53 AM  

Dern is a Bruce or a Laura. Not an exclamation. I hate it when the NY Times Crossword tries to phonetically talk like a hillbilly.

William Hill 9:15 AM  

@Phil Schifley: Dang! You're so right.(Guess what I entered first.) The least they could've done was get the durn spelling right.

Brian 9:49 AM  

Many still write New York, NY even though USPS changed that to NEW YORK NY. After 1963 though.

GILL I. 9:57 AM  

EDENIC SERENE CALMED DREAMT SEX SCENE some NEAT words. TOO BAD we have to see OPUSES...DERN.
Me too for loving DJK puzzles and I loved this one. Twernt so easy though. First pass yielded nary a thing so I went looking for plurals so that I'd have an S of a go. Nope. Put her down girl, and go get yourself a nice glass of Pinot Grigio. Nope. Boy did I stare at that NEW YORK,NEW YORK square. I knew it was the song. Maybe another glass? Nope. Off to bed
Amazing what a good night sleep duz. I just kept telling myself not to over analyze the clues - so yay me, INN was my first entry. @Rex worked the left coast while I was finishing up the right - lickety split.
Figured out the comma and that's when I decided I loved the puzzle. Only Google was NO SIDE and ESSIE.
ORC ORC and away.

Teedmn 10:05 AM  

This was an easy puzzle, in retrospect, but the 43 minutes it took me to fight my way through the COMMA area belies that.

Pay attention to tenses: "Conceptualized" should never have led to MapouT at 31A (I was still pre-COMMA conceptualization at that point) but that led to guYS being considered at 28D, BraN (?) for 23D, ALpo (?) at 24D, etc.

Like @Carola, I was considering a roman numeral start to 15D but it would have to be II and I knew the false gods commandment was the FIRST!! Now I see that Catholics and Lutherans so deem it but it's the SECOND for everybody else who follows the biblical text.

I liked the clue for INN (it was my first entry). Like @Evil Doug, I thought a Bball nickname ending in J wasn't such a stretch, though luckily I didn't put jUdO in. I knew COMETS were "dirty snowballs" but couldn't think of any _ _ M "lions" until the G showed up. And I would have considered it idyllIC if that had worked at 44D.

@Nancy, in HR, we need our employees to give us "emergency contact info" and until recently, a HOME PHONE NUMBER would be the norm. For so many now, the cell # is the home (and only) number so there's no distinguishing between the two anymore.

I wouldn't say this was David Kahn's best DERN OPUS(ES) but I do find my eyes drawn to SEX SCENE GENERATOR (the porn industry's new CGI cost-cutting tool?) and it provided good entertainment so I pronounce it KOOL, even if it did keep me ASLant for a while.

Teedmn 10:12 AM  

And here's my favorite version of New York, New York

Alex 10:20 AM  

Not easy for me, at all. I think my brain is still reeling, as I feel thick and stupid in general. I needed to go back to my methods when I restarted playing the NYT Crosswords, after a break dating back to the Maleska era. Meaning heavy Google use. I didn't need to resort to crossword-clue sites. I was pleased when I figured out the comma.
Maybe I will recover some day, and my brain (and spirit) will begin to work again.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:25 AM  

My trusty globe is too small, it does not have OSH on it. Just Bishkek. I thought it would have to be Kyzyl, in three letters, my, that would have been an interesting rebus! But it turns out that Tuva, of which it is the capital, is not even ON my globe. I really need a bigger globe. Anyhow, speaking of Tuva, listen to this https://youtu.be/qx8hrhBZJ98

Mohair Sam 11:00 AM  

We're with @Nancy, really enjoyed this one. It was one of those days when we had fun with the puzzle (played medium here), came here and saw Rex's complaints, couldn't argue, and didn't care - we still loved it.

How 'bout that comma gimmick? Neat stuff. I vote with @LMS on NOREASON clue ("Just wondering"), thought it was a gem. Also memorized her definition of TACT. @Larry Gilstrap - his TACT is the reason Anderson Cooper is one of the few host/commentators on either side of the political aisle I can watch without shouting at the TV. Once programmed in something called REPORT GENERATOR II for an IBM machine and still had to build damned near every letter in 16A. Big fans of Amy Adams' acting and Amy Grant's music - good choices David Kahn, no misdirect for us.

We may be the only folks here with family pictures in OSH. Our middle son was stationed in Kyrgyzstan a few years ago, shortly before the US base there was closed. He spent time in OSH, liked the city and its people a lot. 18A (ENE) a gimme here - looked up location of Burnley while watching a soccer match on TV a few weeks back and noted that it was pretty much equidistant between Leeds and Liverpool. Given that, AFR, and OSH - SUPERBOWLCHAMPS went in quickly. Talk about luck.

A fine Saturday puzzle, thanks David Kahn.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

@GFRCP&J, if that's the throat singing, I'm passing. Makes me go all squiffy.

Sam Clemens 11:14 AM  

If you read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you'd know that DERN was used widely at one time. Oh I forgot; you only read 20th century pulp fiction, and comic books.

Malsdemare 11:21 AM  

I'm too lazy to go back and forth ackownledging all the great comments today so you'll have to find yourself in this mess. I thought the puzzle was hard. I had it maybe a fifth filled in but stuff was all over the place (such as NEWYORKonmymind 'cause it was obvious NEWYORKNEWYORK wasn't going to work, Kent). Just random very wrong answers. So I hit check puzzle, erased a load of crap and started over. My errors? hOOBoy, onSIDE, AlLOPE (don't ask), and so on. Put in and took out our gal ESTEE, was totally frustrated by what I knew had to be a commandment until I caught the comma trick, which I found quite clever and led to my forgiving Mr. Kahn for everything else. I didn't catch the alternate numbering of the commandment though now that it's been mentioned, I realize that as once-never-future Catholic, I learned it as the first. It reminds me of the very first episode in West Wing when Martin Sheen hobbles into a conference room to announce in a commanding voice: "'I am the Lord Thy God, Thou shalt have no gods before me,'" and then adds, "Boy, those were the good old days" or something like that. As a parent, I could, and can, relate.

Another, totally unrelated, childhood memory. Last night leaving a restaurant, my companions and I noticed a line outside a nightclub in downtown Champaign, Illinois. College students, all in t-shirts (men) and strappy tops (women). We were shivering in our coats and wondering what was WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE, when one member of our group asked, "Do remember ever being cold when you were young?" And to a person, we sat silent. Of course as former profs we knew WHY they were half-naked, insert alcohol, drunkenness, SEXSCENE here, but we also realized cold seems to be a gift we get as we get older.

Temps down into the 30s at night so maybe soon I can take the flea collar off my dog. Hello. Winter? You coming?

Mohair Sam 11:30 AM  

Oh dear, before one of you old tech people jump on me - the language was RPG II, REPORTprogramGENERATOR II. Typed too quickly.

jberg 11:36 AM  

I like to start at 1A and work from crosses. Using this method, I managed to get the last E of ENE, took a guess at AFR, but was basically stuck until DODGED. So many vague, obscure, or tricky clues! I should have known ORONO, just as a 5-letter college town, but that took longer.

The comma was my last entry -- looking for a Roman numeral, like everyone else, until I had REPORT G and figured it must be GENERATOR. I could see that it involved overlapping COND and COMM, but still didn't get it until I saw the K in KEY CARDS. (Tried NEW YORK NEW YORK much earlier, but it didn't fit.)

I liked learning NO SIDE, and enjoyed the struggle generally.

But I'm very embarrassed to say that I have no idea which commandment is which.

Trombone Tom 11:48 AM  

Unlike some of you and OFL, I thought David J. Kahn's puzzle was great.

As to DERN, c'mon, aside from Mark Twain and others, there has to have been a thousand old oaters with DERN and/or dad-blamed uttered alongside a plethora of consarns.

This started tough for me and I had a hard time getting traction. Like @Rex I was all over the place until RIDA and DODGED opened up the center. Then I drifted SE and up and around the grid without too much difficulty. So, hard start and easier finish.

I, too, had jUdO before SUMO and tried exPORTGENERATOR.

Wonderful use of vague clues in a fun puzzle.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

I took the dog for a walk and he was on the ESTEE right away. Memo: look up eponymous!

Also Ugh: OPUSES, yeah, and all those TOPHAT(s) in fancy supper clubs (1930s maybe).

Oh DERN!

Masked and Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Extended COMA!

When I came to, got the whole thing done, tho.

@RP. ESTATE & TESTATE. har. Two different STATEs of grid matter, I reckon.

First of all, great SatPuz. Secondly …

dern staff desperation picks:
* REGNAL. M&A got sooo desperate, he wanted REEGAL.
* GENE/ENES + ENE. Sounds like some sorta weird-ass mutation.
* ASLOPE. Coulda been worse. Mighta been AINCLINE. Or ATESTATE.
* EDENIC. Worthy of its "ic", homophone-ic-ly.
* ASRED. Pretty dern wobbly, asread.
* REARSEAT. Kinda seat Uncle Cletus had, until he fell off that two-story ladder.

fave weeject: EXE. Better clue: {Exec without his rear cee at there??}.

Thanx, Mr. Kahn. Real sneaky Kahma trick.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


**gruntz**

mathgent 12:19 PM  

The first time the puzzle defeated me in a long time. I needed a couple of cheats to fill in all the squares except the middle one correctly. And then I was trying to make sense out of NDMENT without thinking rebus.

I vaguely remember a rebus from the past with only one rebus square. I'll go back over the comments to see if anyone identified one.

I thought that it was an excellent puzzle. It would be sour grapes if I gave it anything other than an A.

Leapfinger 12:32 PM  


HaHa! Y'all thought you were getting a SEX_SCENE, but that's a hold-over from the dropped (IT)'S puzzle, so 'SEX-SCENE is anything that ends up on the cutting-room floor.

Have to say this Saturday TESTATE my lunch, at least till I got past that central meridian. That early -CO- also had me thinking it might be II COMMANDMENT (hi @Carola, Teedmn etal!). Once I figured out the punctuation, I was much more KOOL  and CALMED.

I'm AFRaid I wasn't thinking of land masses, so I plunked in the ATLantic O, which is also West of the Indian O. And with that I closed FIRE. Also tried RUMS before GROG (yo ho ho) and JUDO, of course.

We could've settled that OPUSES/OPera hash by clueing to Berkeley Breathed; FOR NO REASON, I used to save some of his more amusing  strips, and had more than one OPUS tucked away.

Kind of grim to see the NARC trapped between the ENE and the SE.
Kind of nice that DREAMT joins the ranks of spelt and leapt
Kind of sneaky with some of the PPPs:
GENE AWEDry
SERENE Williams
Our choice of Lennon OR ONO
TOO BAD REGiNALd lost his I.D.
Those PPPs, whether ESSIE or ESTEE, their name is LESION

Nobody does punctuation better than Lucretia Borge's descendant Victor, but it's hard not to be tempted:
Didn't we just recently have RICO in a puzzle? I believe the RICO Law had something to do with [eering].
If you have a spare COMMA or two, have a go @ this: James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher
If you're looking for character class, ASCII shall find:  [][!"#$%&'()*+,./:;<=>?@\^_`{|}~-]
If you think all punctuation is TOo  PHAT, just take a peek at what some Frenchman dreamed up

I was happy with the short fill in service of the greater good, and was tickled (yet again!) all the way from my leapy fingers down to my comma toes.

Lewis 12:39 PM  

I love the single COMMA rebus; it is unusual to have the letters mean one thing one way and another thing the other way, and having it only once really accents how special it is.

I had trouble in the NW, but overall, this steadily filled in, sometimes with aha's, other times in swaths. The tricky and clever cluing overcame (I almost used the T word) any weakness in the fill for me. The cluing and the triumph over it gave me smiles, which have been far and few between this week. Thank you for this, David!

QuasiMojo 1:21 PM  

Dern it! I had "durn" too for the longest time. And didn't get the "comma" gimmick since I wrote in "Second Amendment" (but misspelled it) thinking the rebus was "AMEN" -- not having heard the Duets version of that crappy old song "New York, New York" -- hell I thought they threw in an "Amen" just to appeal to a wider audience. Haha.

Which reminds me. I once was the victim of "tear gas" at the Met Opera in NYC. During a performance of "Dialogues of the Carmelites." We were all evacuated. There was a very long break while they cleaned the place up, then finally the curtain went up again. This was in the days when management didn't cancel performances at the drop of a hat (or of ashes.) I usually love David Kahn's puzzles but this rebus in the middle defied "comma sense."

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

"Saw the constructor name and knew it wouldn't be a straight themeless."

No, you didn't. David J. Kahn has constructed loads of straight themeless puzzles for the NY Times.

"Half-hearted. Weak."

It is pathetic that you consider your opinions about crosswords worthy of inflicting on the public. You have absolutely no appreciation of what makes a good puzzle like this good, and no real experience with puzzles. You just foist your blather on the blogosphere.

If you had the faintest discernment on this subject, you would be deeply embarrassed at the profound lack of any understanding of crosswords that your blog posts reveal day in and day out

But you don't, so you won't.

r.alphbunker 1:45 PM  

What a year. The Cubs win and a rebus shows up in a Saturday puzzle. I knew a rebus had to be in that spot but needed to google the duet to see that it had to be a comma. Tried SECOND[ame]NDMENT out of desperation but the [ame] didn't work for NEWYORK[ame]NEWYORK. Details are here.

Rita Flynn 2:06 PM  

The comma rebus just irritated me. If you're going to do something like that's why not make it a theme and put in some other punctuation based clues? Also dern. I had darn for the longest time.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

That's the first commandment. Period.

foxaroni 2:27 PM  

Hmmmm...I thought the plural of OPUS WAS OPII, pronounced OPIE.

Guess I've learned my LESION.

puzzle hoarder 2:35 PM  

NO SIDE as clued is a Shortz era debut. That term hasn't been used in 30 years! I had to start with TEARGAS and worked my way around clockwise. I did leave out the K of KEYCARDS (just couldn't see it) until NYET went in and knew what 33A was. I didn't figure out the comma thing until I had filled in the top of the puzzle. Mopping up that south central are a was how I finished. Until I read @Carola's comments I didn't get the obvious FLORIDA thing. I guessed SIDLED before DODGED. This is a recurring late week phenomenon where I'm thinking long and am blind to the obvious short stuff.

Numinous 2:41 PM  

Another good Saturday. I really liked the [,] in the middle of the puzzle. I liked that it worked differently in each direction. I also notice that the the iOS app accepted the [,] or [COMMA] in that square @kitschef.

I hade to google for ESSIE and ENES. I don't believe I know Ah Wilderness and I've never heard of E. Kantar (my autocorrupt just tried to replace that with Kangaroo). Speaking of ROOS, when driving outside of cities in Australia, there is a real danger of hitting one and shoving the engine back into the front seat beside you. My car, a Mini Moke, had canvas sides and more than once I was afraid that a ROO, bounding along beside me, would decide to use the side of my car to make a sharp left turn.

I had to chide myself for forgetting ESTATE wagons but in Oz, utes (small pickup trucks) were more common. Speaking of Australia, if you have a subscription to Hulu and would like a look at a slice of life different from ours, I highly recommend McLeod's Daughters. It's about five sheila's running a cattle station (ranch).

I rather liked this puzzle and most of @Rex's complaints didn't bother me at all. Okay, ENE and ENES was a little bit tacky. DREAMT was a bit of a surprise. Merriam-Webster lists it as equal to DREAMed but when I use it in a sentence it seems more like past perfect to me: "I had never DREAMT of such a thing" vs. "I never DREAMed of such a thing." I'm probably wrong but that's the way I view learnt and spelt as well.

Thanks David Kahn with a [HOOK] iin the middle.

Blackbird 2:56 PM  

Tact quote is from Isaac Newton. Also, definitely First Commandment.
Dreamt or dreamed. Both are past participles, dreamt is more "poetic", but that doesn't make it a deal-breaker as an answer in the puzzle.

tkr 3:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
tkr 3:54 PM  

Since when are rebuses acceptable on a Saturday? New York New York was obvious early but I couldn't believe there was a comma there.

The rest of the fill was horrific as well.

Nancy 5:04 PM  

@tkr (3:45) -- I think it's a custom and not a hard and fast rule. And isn't it much more "puzzling" when the rebus comes as a surprise? Isn't being surprised always a good thing in puzzledom? Add to that the fact that for many of us there is no such thing as too many rebuses (Hi, @Hartley) though I fully respect the views of those who feel differently. And this rebus -- even though it only affected one square -- was a real beauty.

OISK 5:17 PM  

Enjoyed yesterday's a bit more, but this was fine. Rida was totally unfamiliar, but it was easily gettable from the crosses. Last "aha" was "sib," which gave open fire,, which forced me to write "opuses, " and change Darn to Dern. Bruce playing the flute? Dern tootin.

Marty Van B 6:10 PM  

The center square was a nice cherry atop of a challenging puzzle. Then again, were I writing this blog, nearly every Saturday post would rate as challenging.

My only mistake was at DERN where I had DaRN and thus OPUSaS. In my brain, an opusa seemed like it could easily be found in a botanical conservatory... perhaps some orchid-esque flower with Medusa, tendril like petals.

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

Lots of Bruce Dern talk. His family was very connected politcally. Kind of a shock that he became an actor. Worse, he went to Penn!

Paul408 6:44 PM  

Also annoying:

- both ESSIE and ESTEE in the grid

- 1A and 1D both phrases starting with NO

beatrice 6:55 PM  

Wow, some strong reactions to a puzzle that I found, while not completely satisfying, put up enough of a fight to be reasonable for a Saturday. But I'll take it, I'll take it. Didn't care for DERN (auto-correct doesn't either), of course wanted DuRN, but as @Sam says above, he used it, and to be honest, it seems like a better phonetic transcription of the southern pronunciation. But ugly it is. Like OPUSES. Unfortunately this is used - perhaps more in non-musical contexts? Don't know, don't care that much. Don't plan to use it myself.

Before I forget - @Leapy and @Tita - thank you both for your nice responses to my post on post-election night. If you listened, I hope you weren't disappointed!

So to my PMR of the day - since TEARs are still a fitting subject, a simple search yielded a composer quite new to me, Antonio Cebrian (born ca.1520), not surprisingly, since almost nothing about him shows up web-SIDE, and only two pieces, one being 'Lagrimas de mi consuelo', or 'Tears of my comfort' (apparently). I think it's gorgeous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSRZ9fGPzQU

And, for NO_REASON other than we deserve it, a re-post of one of my favorites, 'Un sarao de la chacona', with not a TEAR in sight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkkBUaASKY4

And, because you owe it to yourself if you like this stuff at all - a video of a performance (1:46:42) of Catalan renaissance music, w. Jordi Savall in command.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYEveIBHMS0

MattG 6:57 PM  

For awhile, I actually had TEAR GL& in the top right corner, thinking it must be part of the theme.

jae 7:00 PM  

@tkr. & Nancy - I've been doing the Sat. puzzles from the early years of the Shortz era ('94 and '95 so far) and have encountered a few rebuses in my grids.

catadromy 3:53 AM  

I can't with 'opuses'. I was taught that the plural of opus is opera.

I refuse to recognize the bad grammar of this clue.

So there.

Tita A 9:25 AM  

Loved getting snookered by a Saturday rebus. A technical DNF, but my cheat was of the mildest form...removing all the wrong squares allowed me to finish. Goofs like roomkeyS, APeaRing, made this so tough,
Thanks, Mr. Kahn.

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