Violinist Kavafian / SAT 1-21-17 / Bulbous perennial / Xmas for Jimmy Buffet / First name in infamy / Dumb Dumber drive destination

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Constructor: James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TARPONS (33A: Prized game fish) —
plural noun: tarpons
  1. a large tropical marine fish of herringlike appearance. (google)
• • •

This was pretty enjoyable. Had to wrestle with it A WEE BIT, and fell into many traps along the way, but in the end it was slightly more tractable than your average Saturday fare, I think. Couple of nice long Downs, for sure, and then a very solid, serviceable grid, with little in the way of junk. I'd call EDESSA junk (it's certainly high on the list of 6-letter crosswordese), buuuut it really helped me solidify traction in the north, so I'll just give it a polite nod and move along. The proper nouns are a little dated at times (NEVE over BOYER!) but then there's Paul RUDD and BIG PAPI, so maybe things balance out. Oh, ANI. ANI is not good. You can clue it however you like (Skywalker, DiFranco ... some violinist ...), it's always gonna be crosswordese. But the overall state of the grid is strong.


How many holes did I fall into? Let's count
  1. Had the -OW at the end of 2D: Words of understanding and was *certain* that answer ended in KNOW.
  2. Had the O (from YOKO) and U (from RUDD) in the answer for 27D: Works of a lifetime and *confidently* wrote in OPUSES.
  3. Opened the puzzle with an amazing run of Downs (KTEL! BOO! ADREP!) and then, after getting the -UM part ... PODIUM!! (8D: Oration location). 
  4. I don't even feel bad about the MARLINS-for-TARPONS mistake, tbh. I'm only human.
  5. RYE before ALE ... never fail?
  6. Aaaand my favorite wrong answer of the day: for 57D: Appropriate answer for this clue, I had: ANS.
That'll do for today.


Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  
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jae 12:10 AM  

Easy-medium for me too. NW and SE easy. First thing in was the KUMBAYA/KICKBALL cross. In the SW @Rex Opuses before OEUVRE was my major problem. NE was also tougher partly because I read the "Oh Yeah" clue with a ? instead of an !.

Still too easy for a late week puzzle, but very smooth with excellent 15s, liked it.

Steven M. O'Neill 12:19 AM  

For "appropriate answer" I thought for sure it was ESP. I don't even know why END is appropriate, tbh.

Steven M. O'Neill 12:24 AM  

Oh, haha, duh. It's the last clue.

Andrew L. Rice 12:34 AM  

I actually knew violinist Kavafian seen her play even....Ani and she sister Ida. That one caught me.

John Child 12:40 AM  
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George Barany 12:42 AM  

@James Mulhern's puzzle challenged me more than it did @Rex. I had actually heard of the violinist in 23-Across (click here to hear her play) but that didn't really help me in the Northwest ... really embarrassing, to be honest, since a more crossword-centered clue to USATODAY could have made a huge difference [full disclosure: that particular shop has been cleaned up ever since @Fred Piscop took over the reins, and it has been my privilege to have several puzzles published there over the past four months].

What else to say? I considered NOT_EVEr at 13-Down before seeing AS_EVER at 58-Across, and BMWS seemed a plausible answer to the "Imported wheels?" clue. For those uncertain of how to spell the Mexican state and/or being unfamiliar with mid-country county seats, the crossing of 54-Across with 55-Across would qualify as a Natick. Today's "Looped in, in a way" to clue CCED was evocative of "Loops in, in a way" used less than two weeks ago to clue BCCS.

John Child 12:42 AM  

Apple's autocorrect on iOS is reason enough to change brands...

I think OAXACA and meXico was a trap. I evaded that one, but the puzzle overall was too difficult for me, even with liberal cheating. The. North half absolutely ate me alive.

George Barany 12:48 AM  

@Andrew L. Rice ... you posted while I was composing my post ... thanks for reminding me that I had originally entered IDA before changing to ANI. The younger sister, IDA, gets about 31,000 Google hits, while the older sister, ANI, garners 26,000. Here is an article about the two sisters performing together:

puzzle hoarder 12:55 AM  

This took what is probably an average Saturday time to come away with a clean grid. Of all things BDAY was the biggest speed bump on the west side. Having Xmas as a BDAY must really make a kid feel cheated. This would explain why he's been getting back at the world with his music. The baseball player was the overall worst hold up. This had enough tough spots to make it interesting.
KICKBALL is a debut entry. Go figure.

Mike in Mountain View 1:08 AM  

I was so very proud of myself to see that 57D: Appropriate answer for this clue, was "apt."

Wasn't an easy puzzle for me, but only A WEE BIT tougher than average. Top right first, bottom left second, bottom right third, and finally figured out the top left, where I have no idea why it took so long to see KUMBAYA.

Carola 1:15 AM  

Definitely not too easy for me, in part because of my missteps:
The incorrect IONe and podiUM masked the crossing EDESSA as E?iSSe.
That same podiUM along with ADREP led to a guess at the news source as (something) raDio.
I thought 1D's "camp" was meant in the style, not campfire, sense, and wanted the name of a song or movie.
My boxing ring producer was tkos (indefensibly plural, but it gave me the same "kNOW" that @Rex had).
I misremembered the movie archive as the n(ational)FI.
So lots of erasing and (pleasurable) hair-tearing. At last I thought PREVAIL would be my word of the day, but no: I never corrected IONe, so ended up with EDESSe.

I solved the two long Downs from opposite ends and spent some time brain-racking how they'd end, or start: I HOPE YOU Rot in hell? Didn't fit. On the other hand: what kind of REFLEXES? Hair-trigger? Lightning-fast? I needed almost every cross for CATLIKE.

On the names front:
Knew on my own: ANI, BOYER, UMA
Remembered from previous crosswords: NEVE, BIG PAPI. Not remembered: EDESSA.

Trombone Tom 1:21 AM  

A lot harder for me. Got off to a wrong start after putting in ___Radio off AD REP. Compounded my situation by choosing Ida before ANI and podIUM before LYCEUM. EDESSA was WOE. I also had a hard time getting from "Oh, yeah!" to WOOHOO.

I finally got rolling with YOKO and made it to the END. I then worked my way back to KICKBALL and USATODAY.

A well-crafted Saturday offering by Mr. Mulhern.

Daryl 1:36 AM  

Easy for me though I really dislike the EDESSA / IONA cross - I don't care if either word is in the lexicon of "crosswordese solvers should know", puzzles should be solvable without having to know that corpus.

Gregory Nuttle 2:33 AM  

Played really easy for me except for the NW, where it took me forever to parse that ANI YOKO AWEEBIT block. Good puzzle, though, I enjoyed it a lot.

AliasZ 2:45 AM  

The overabundance of proper nouns killed this puzzle for me. ANI, IDI, BOYER, EDESSA, YOKO, NEVE, RUDD, OAXACA, DE SADE, BIG PAPI, AVA, etc. How many of these are too many? ELLE's BELLs.

Otherwise I enjoyed the down grid spanners and many of the longer (7+) entries. My favorites
today: LYCEUM, OEUVRE, METEORIC, ÉGALITÉ and KIND EYES, plus the aforementioned 15s: lovely. Given the heavy French accent of this puzzle, I fully expected 39D to be LAMÉ. Wasn't that LAME of me?

The SW was rather boring. PREVAIL/PRELOAD, RELEASE/REFRY: LAME re-echos.

-- TARPONS: "Rain delays at baseball games?"
-- [Knock-knock] "Who's there?" "Woo." "WOOHOO?"
-- [Knock-knock] "Who's there?" "BOO." "BOO who?" "Hah, I made you cry!"
-- B-DAY: European toilet that shoots out water.
-- KICKBALL seems a rather painful combination of words.

Enjoy your weekend.


Loren Muse Smith 6:14 AM  

Well heck. I had a dnf because I thought “looped” could be “cued.” Dumb.

I liked the opposite responses to that politician in the LYCEUM – BOO or WOO HOO. Sigh. Oh, and he was wearing a “power tie” as his accessory before LAPEL PIN.

@George Barany, @Gregory Nuttle – me, too, for that northwest.

@Mike in Mountain View – it took me forever to see KUMBAYA, too. And I was always right there at church retreats, singing so seriously, going in for the harmony, thinking I was a better singer than Tricia T., gearing up for Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore.

@Carola – me, too for some kind of “radio” before USA TODAY.

I didn’t make the “opuses” mistake, probably because I was already channeling the langue of BOYER and DE SADE: LIEU, EGALITE, ELLE, et donc, OEUVRE.

Of course, I had no “dogs” before NO PETS. What other pets do you take to the beach?

@AliasZ –
Knock knock
Who’s there?
I sound just like an owl hoo…

A “WEE” BIT – so yesterday I was tapped at the last minute to chaperone a rewards field trip to, of all places, a trampoline park. Hah. So I’m standing there with another teacher, watching these kids bounce, flip, fall, shriek… and the music teacher was standing next to me. My mind was elsewhere, so I wasn’t really paying attention. Wah wah wah McDowell County wah wah wah army wah wah concert wah wah wah… and then Ever since the snake bite, I have no bladder control. Hello. Now that kind of sentence will flat wake you up. I looked over (and down until I caught myself) and backed away a fraction. I’m sorry. Could you repeat that? He did. So many things going through my head. Snake bites affect your bladder? Or maybe it depends on exactly where the snake bit you? (@AliasZ – I’ll see your painful KICK BALL and raise you one.) That one’s gonna go in my sentence hall of fame, right under @Hartley’s startling bat/closed patio umbrella stunner.

Nice Saturday, but I’m definitely with those who found it hardish.

I am not a robot 6:19 AM  

Everything that @alias said, although the names didn't quite kill me, and I liked kickball. Oaxaca is just nasty.

Theodore Stamos 7:07 AM  

Huge Paul Rudd fan. He's from my home town (Kansas City). Us kansans don't have a lot to brag about, so we take what we can get!

r.alphbunker 8:30 AM  
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r.alphbunker 8:32 AM  

Had to google and check to get out of NW

Another "appropriate" answer
25D. {Common beach policy} NOPETS from NO_E_ _

Details are here.

Charles Flaster 8:42 AM  

Easyish save for three writeovers -- USA TODAY for USA raDio ( George B-- love your creative offerings in that newspaper), OEUVRE for OpUses, CHEEPS for wHooPS.
Creative cluing for SIT INS, OHARE, ASPEN( hysterical scene in the roadside cafe),BELL, and CATLIKE REFLEXES( most of us used to have them).
Thanks JM

DeeJay 8:42 AM  

Thanks, Loren, for that quotation. Sounds like it could be the refrain of a new song by an over-60's retread rock band.

Considering I had podium and Mexico before lyceum and Oaxaca, I did OK. My thinking at the time was that Mexico was too easy an answer for a Saturday.

My dear wife can say "Oaxaca," but not if she's looking at the word....

Lobster11 8:46 AM  

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the nasty "Pacific demonstrations" trap in the NE: I dropped in _TESTS (not being sure if it began with A or N) without hesitation, and it never even dawned on me to question it until I had tried tearing out a half dozen other (correct) answers to no avail. I saw through all the other traps pretty easily, but I think I was just lucky to have had some key crosses in place at the right time.

DNF because I was stymied by the SEGO/EGLITE cross. I probably should have remembered SEGO from seeing it in crosswords, but I'm really lousy at remembering crosswordese answers that I have no use for in any other context.

Z 8:51 AM  

Hand up for opuses and meXico. I still managed to break 18 minutes, which is easy Saturday range for me. Agree with Rex that this was mostly a clean and fun solve, even if I didn't know the violinist.

@Alias Z - 33% or so. I'll count it up after I post.

@puzzle horder - I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but your "getting back at the world" comment once again reminded me of one of favorite days in Detroit. I live three short blocks from Comerica Park, four blocks from Ford Field. One fine summer day Ford Field was hosting a convention of Jehovah's Witnesses while Comerica was hosting a Jimmy Buffet concert. The first, dressed for church, were leaving as the latter' fans, drunk and in their parrothead finery, were arriving. A more surreal traffic jam has never been recorded.

@Daryl - Uh, good luck with that. A city like EDESSA is just too chock full of useful letters to not end up in a puzzle. It could be worse. EDESSA at least has some historical significance. Enid, Edina , Orono, Orem, beyond that some nice people surely live there no good reason exists to have them in a puzzle.

kitshef 9:05 AM  

I think there are two James Mulhern's out there. One of them produces tough weekend puzzles that you enjoy struggling through. The other produces LAME puzzles like this one.

Actually, they are both on display today. The right-hand side was comically, Tuesday-ish easy and full of awful clues and answers (NOTEVEN, Oh yeah, How ya holdin up, KIND EYES, and a truly terrible grid-spanner.

The left side was much tougher and much better, with great answers like METEORIC, KUMBAYA, OAXACA, and of course the grid spanner.

QuasiMojo 9:06 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle and did it in less than a half-hour which is good for me on a Saturday. I did not like "Cat-like reflexes" however. That is just a lot of words strung together. It's not a phrase I hear bandeyed about very often except perhaps cat burglars. I also was a tad miffed by the PREvail/PREload corner. I think the constructor could have tried a bit harder there. And I know a lot of men who read ELLE. Anyone else in NY remember that subway ad campaign "Give 'em Elle"? Didn't run for long. I was "beet red" when my first answer for the beach policy was "No Mess" because I stupidly had "Salmons" first before "Tarpons." As for the No Pets policy, I don't know what beach this constructor goes to but the ones I visit seem to be overrun by dogs. As is this entire country it seems. Since when did owning a pet become de rigueur? Which brings to mind something that happened to me last night. I was at a poetry reading. The venue has a no-pets policy. But some lady brought in a dog as a service animal because it keeps her "calm." I'm glad she has found a way to alleviate her anxiety but where on earth does this stop? What if everyone were anxious? And felt the need to have a service pet with them? Someone might bring their pet leopard next time.

Z 9:08 AM  
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Janet Hanks 9:13 AM  

Fell into the PODIUM hole and just about lost it. It added TWO MINUTES to my love time because I just couldnt believe it wasn't right.

Susierah 9:18 AM  

What a great Saturday! For you newbie solvers that think you'll never finish, hang in there and keep trying! Three years ago I would have nothing after thirty minutes, and would start googling to finish in an hour. Now I regularly finish in 30-45 minutes. I remember the happy day I finished a Saturday with no mistakes and no googles! What a feeling. So keep solving and you will get better with experience!

Z 9:27 AM  

Pop Culture, Product Names, and othe Proper Nouns as a percentage of puzzle answers. When more than 33% of answers are PPP some group of solvers will struggle

24 of 70 for 34%, and I didn't include KUM BA YA. Even when PPP is balanced (ANI Kavafian to BIG PAPI) if it gets over 33% of the puzzle someone will struggle. Please, no "Everyone should know" comments.

On other notes:

Anyone else wondering if DE SADE had KIND EYES?
@QuasiMojo - CAT LIKE REFLEXES is something I've heard in relation to athletes, but apparently my iPhone has them, too. As for pets, like children, only people who want them and are willing to care for them should have any. And, like children, shouldn't be taken out in public unless they can behave themselves.
@Lobster11 - Pacific Ocean is a MTW use of Pacific. Peaceful is the FS meaning of the word, n'est-ce pas?
@LMS - A whole new meaning to "being snake bit." Thanks for that, I think.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

Woo boy, this one wasn't fun at all.

jberg 9:30 AM  

I was struggling with this one, so I was grateful for what looked like a gimme with IDA Kavafian. Never heard of her sister. Doh! Then I put in Skopje because it's the only city in Macedonia I've heard of. And, of course, NO dogS and SaGO. And ink before PEN, though I was doubtful of that one. So I was really struggling until PREVAIL gave me the whole SW quickly, then I slowly worked my way around clockwise. KICKBALL took out podiUM, which let me see METEORIC, and the crosses gradually switched Ida to ANI.

I would have sworn that the plural of tarpon was TARPON, though, whatever Google says.

At least now I know the seat of Douglas County!

Teedmn 9:54 AM  

Relatively easy solve today - at least on the West side. KICKBALL off KTEL and BOO and I was off. I didn't even see the clue for 23A and that never happens on Saturday. In fact, that's something I love about Saturday solving - since I'm usually jumping around the puzzle, trying for a toehold, I am not going down the list of clues methodically. I'll be stuck in some spot, frantically going back and forth on the clues, trying to jump-start my brain into some sort of gestalt, when I'll suddenly see a clue I hadn't even seen before! This doesn't always lead to a I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY moment but it often makes the difference in unblocking my logjam.

3D was CAT-LIKE REaction for a while. My friends and I used to go carp fishing in the Mississippi (my husband still does) and when one of the ungraceful, lumpy fish got a bit eely, we would have to use "carp-like reactions" to keep it from getting off the hook. But I didn't let that REFRY my SE.

And was 41D EGALITE or liberTE? 46A as "iris", which isn't actually a bulb, it's a tuber, gave me liberTE but luckily it did not give me death, as BEET RED just seemed the only answer for 40A and then I saw the SEGO. And I needed that HAM to give me the SWISS and open up the NE. So only sitU in LIEU of the actual answer was holding me up at the END but TARPONS to NO PETS let me finish in 24:08, which is 1448 GRIDSECs.

Thanks, James Mulhern.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

I'm with Alias Z -- way too many names! And I fell into the PODIUM/ELISSA trap (hi, Carola). And I wanted some kind of BArs at 1A, though I never wrote the R or S in. BOO and ADREP remained my only fill-ins in the NW until the very end.

I hated the pop slang/jargon -- both in the clues and the answers: "Oh Yeah" = WOOHOO??? "Far less than that" = NOT EVEN??? "Nice going jerk" = I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY??? And who says "Nice going, jerk" anyway? Is this a result of the rude and unpleasant insult culture spawned by the Internet?

The "camp classic" could have been anything at all -- and 1D is such an important place to get a foothold. BDAY and CCED are LAME. I didn't know ANI or AVA (as clued here) or KTEL. In 10 years, neither will anyone else. In the END, I finished, but not with much pleasure. I compare the fill here with the lovely and smooth fill from yesterday -- and today's comes up way short.

Teedmn 10:20 AM  

@Quasimojo, the New Yorker had an article about where the service animal line was going to be drawn, here.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

@puzzle hoarder
As one with a Christmas Eve bday, I'll tell you it's all about the parents when it comes to feeling cheated, or not. My parents always made sure I had a birthday equal to my four siblings. Interestingly enough, my late wife shared that bday with me. And our children and grandchildren have kept the birthday party tradition going now that I'm into my mid-70s. I love seeing the calendar roll up to 12/24 every year.

Tsar Peter 10:38 AM  

Too much really, really dump stuff in here today. LAME is an understatement for this awful puzzle. DOMINOS is not a restaurant in any real sense of the word. The play on Pacific stinks (Q for Z, what does MTW and FS stand for ?). WOOHOO and CHEEPS should have been relagated to the trash bin as well. More stench from OEUVRE and LYCEUM. I'm surprised that Rex was so kind to this dud of an effort. Anyway, Will - I HOPE YOURE HAPPY at least.

Norm 10:39 AM  

Too many names makes it a trivia contest rather than a crossWORD puzzle. Never a fun solve -- and that was definitely true today.

GILL I. 10:44 AM  

Very Frenchy today (hi @LMS) and I never say "Nice going, jerk" I use the derrier part so HOPE YOU GO TO HELL screwed me royally.
Hand up for TKOS and having IMP instead of TOT. PODIUM did not want to change to LYCEUM even though I begged him to. Had to Google that upstairs attic area to even get started. The basement was a lot easier except for not getting CHEEPS because CCED looks so bad and so wrong.
Didn't care for all the names. I know who they are (except for RUDD) but BIG PAPI YOKO BOYER were no-shows today.
Never even considered Mexico for the Zapotec (Cloud People) home. OAXACA is the only answer because, well, that's where they're from!
@Quasi...NO PETS. Here in California everyone takes their pets to the beach - at least the ones i go to. Carmel, especially, invites you to bring the pups along. Service dogs rock....
Yesterday's puzzle brought me, not so much.
I NEVER thought I would beg for the rain to go away here in drought ridden California but I'm drowning in wet and wind. Knocked all my potted plants down with 60 mile winds the other day. I'm beginning to turn green around the gills.

Hartley70 10:48 AM  

This was no easy-medium for me. If it weren't for UMA. NEVE, and PREVAIL, I'd still be looking at a blank grid. There was an "Ant-man" movie? Seriously LAME!

As it was, I had to start at the bottom and work my way to the top and it took me every minute of my usual time, plus eleven more. Looking at the finished puzzle, I can't imagine why, except to say this is exactly how I imagine the competition puzzles to be, and my face to go all BEETRED in frustration.

@Loren's overheard "snake bite" wouldn't have fazed me, but the mention of his loss of bladder control would have made me step smartly to the side. I'm still traumatized by the first day in Miss Grady's kindergarten class, when the girl in the next seat had that sort of accident. The school was old, the floors uneven, and to my horror the puddle rolled neatly downhill under my desk where it stayed for the remainder of the morning. It was the penultimate kindergarten badge of shame and I wouldn't want history to come full circle.

Nick Danger 10:59 AM  

@John Child, or you could turn off autocorrect if you don't like it.

John Child 11:08 AM  
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John Child 11:09 AM  

I probably should, Mr Danger.


GHarris 11:15 AM  

Thought Rex had to be kidding when he called this easy to medium. Then I read the response of others who echoed his assessment. I made the same missteps as Rex except I got "end" for 57 down but never could fully recover even with resort to Google. I guess I'm not as far along as I had begun to believe I was.

Lewis 11:24 AM  

Gritty and witty; excellent solving experience. Yes, lots of proper names, and some that I didn't know, but they must have been fairly crossed, at least for me. I'm running off to a protest march, but I just wanted to thank you, James for this high quality puzzle!

Big Steve 46 11:25 AM  

One of the "everyday" commenters,at one point said "What else is there to say?" How about saying nothing? Some people seem to feel the need to comment on every single puzzle even if they really don't have anything or useful to say. Trust me, we'll all get all fine without you for a few days.

And "Apple's autocorrect on iOS is reason enough to change brands.."How about buying a newspaper every now and then? That "brand"always works just fine.

QuasiMojo 11:27 AM  

@Teedmn thank you for the link. Quite a funny article, although I must admit I couldn't tell if it was completely tongue-in-cheek or not. Glad to know I am not alone in questioning the issue.

old timer 11:27 AM  

Well over an hour for me, even though I googled for Mr. RUDD and for NEVE and for the sister violinists -- the latter was no help at all as it turned out, since both have 3 letter names. The SE is where I got some traction, since I was sure SEGO would be right, which confirmed EGALITE (Liberte would fit, too). My big mistake was writing in "Bard" which I've heard of, for IONA, which I haven't. We considered Bard for my eldest daughter, but she really hoped she would get in to Middlebury, a place we had often visited, since her grandparents and aunts are Vermonters. (She did).

Since I do know how to spell OAXACA, I got REFLEXES early. But what kind? CATLIKE was an inspiration.

I really wanted HAM's partner to be "eggs". And for a while I had the fish as "tarpors" but TARPONS and NOT EVEN worked better I thought.

RAD2626 11:38 AM  

Think these have been really good Friday/Saturday combo. Long down answers really great. Fell into same traps as many. Had Ida in right away so having IYA in 1Down did not trigger KUMBAYA and the lone K in 1Across did not trigger KICKBALL either so NW took awhile. Agree that USA TODAY clue was of marginal help. And I guess beach signs don't say NO eaTS very often. Had a friend who when playing Family Feud answered the question "Name something you would see on a sign outside a motel" with "Beds". I would hope so.

CHEEPS went through my own personal word ladder of sorts. CHickS (which made me doubt BIG PAPI which I was pretty sure was right), CHirPS, CHEEPS.

Fun solve all around.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

@Big Steve, you didn't really have much to say.

Moly Shu 12:06 PM  

What I hate. Falling into the podiUM/LYCEUM, meXiCo/OAXACA holes and then seeing right through the imported wheels clue and entering edam. The result is me telling myself "you think you're smart, but no, you're a dumbass"

Big Steve 46 12:14 PM  

Re: anonymous 11;52 AM - you're right, of course, but at least I only say it once every ten days or so.

Mohair Sam 12:23 PM  

Loved it. Challenging in this house because of the NW. If EDESSA is not in your crosswordese file, and you just knew podiUM was good, and your puzzle partner said Ida Kavafian was a gimme (thereby killing KUMBAYA), and you had ADREP - well "nprradio" was obvious at 15 across - and you were fried. Deep fried, refried.

So we gave up, moved go the NE - guessed BOYER, gimmed NEVE, guessed PEN and built slowly and steadily around the grid from there. Great clues, filled letter by letter, word by word, just like a good Saturday should. Great clues for ELLE and DESADE, he was our first guess. Anyhow, when we returned to the NW we applied Wite-Out to all but ADREP, threw in KUMBAYA and were done within a minute.

@John Child - Problem with auto correct is deciding whether you get more mistakes from yourself or the machine. Personally I shut mine off and still blame it for mistakes.

Lotsa fun, thanks James Mulhern.

Nancy 12:32 PM  

Everyone -- Whatever else you read or don't read on the blog today, don't miss @Teedmn's 10:20 link to one of the funniest New Yorker articles I've ever seen! In fact, I dropped it -- not quite finished --in order to get here in a timely fashion to tell you all about it. (Then I'm headed back, of course). It's by Patricia Marx, a really funny lady who, like the late Nora Ephron, always makes me grumble: Now why didn't I say that? This piece -- about "emotional support" pets -- is an absolute howl. I saw Nora and Patricia interviewing each other at the 92Y a number of years ago. It was, hands down, the most delicious interview event I've ever seen there, and I've seen many. Thanks, @Teedmn, for providing this article and thanks, @Quasi, for drawing my attention to it. Now back to the article.

Masked and Anonymous 1:24 PM  

There were some kinda cerebral crossins here and there, that slowed m&e down a few (precious) nanoseconds. LYCEUM/EDESSA. OAXACA/AVA. NEVE, EGALITE and TARPONS weren't quite as obstructin, as they had friendlier crossers. For some odd reason, got OEUVRE off just the OE+ part; probably becuz it's been in another puz more sooners than laters.

Gettin to the bottom was tolerable easy, once U had the top half polished off, due to primo CATLIKER+ and IHOPEYOU+ grid spanners goin down.

Admire the symmetric AWEEBIT+BEETRED pair. Also the grid layout is real noteworthy, with a "+" in the middle, and two mutant "+" signs nearby, diagonal-wise.

First entry was at: BOO then ADREP then UMA [fave wee-today-ject] then ????BALL then KTEL then KICKBALL. Then confidently plotzed NFLTODAY in at 15-A, and was off dreamin up kinds of KNOTs to mess up 1-D with.

[Lotsa typical SatPuz thrashin around ensued.]

Last entry: OAX?CA/?VA. Guessed right.

Feisty but fun. A few more ?-clues today, which are always entertainin to groan over. Thanx, Mr. Mulhern.

@muse: M&A found a small rattler under some rusty yard "decorations", once several years back. Only caused a temporary (albeit spectacular) bladder problem, tho. The M&A fam has many more long-undisturbed yard "decorations" now, in that there snake's honor.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

EDESSA. Constructioneer constrictor?


QuasiMojo 1:35 PM  

You're welcome, @Nancy. I loved her take on visiting the Frick. Lucky you to have heard her and Nora live (and in person!)

Before I forget, did anyone else put in NELL Campbell before Neve? I did. Rocky Horror fan from way back. :)

Z 1:39 PM  

@Tsar Peter - MTW=Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday while FS=Friday,Saturday. I use R=Thursday at times. Also, I agree about DOMINOS. Definitely an arched eyebrow clue.

@GHarris - When there is high PPP it often becomes a wheelhouse or outhouse question. ANI was my only WOE, all the other PPP was either in my wheelhouse or crossed enough to be easily inferable* (filled in DE SADE with only three crosses even though the quote was new to me). It's not just you complaining though, so it is probably just that the puzzle is more in your outhouse than wheelhouse. Even though I liked this puzzle, word play is always better than trivia.

@Big Steve 46 - Hm, I just ignore those people I find uninteresting, not that I'd ever mention it to them.

@Mohair Sam - If auto-correct didn't exist we'd have to invent it to take the blame for our poor typing and spelling skills.

*Spellcheck insists it should be infer-able. Who is correct, the computer or me?

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

TARPONS is BS - "tarpon" is the plural of "tarpon"

Ugly, stupid puzzle; took me twice my usual Saturday time.

William Coddington 1:51 PM  

Hah! Your comments were more entertaining than the puzzle, which revealed my ignorance of two languages, French and that of small cranes.

William Coddington 1:57 PM  

I did finish in about 30 minutes though, in spite of the unshakable impression of Herr Trump orating at the PODIUM yesterday.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

In my library the author is "Sade", and not "de Sade". Anyone else share this idea?

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Adding to my comment, it would be like calling the Earl of Sandwich "of Sandwich "!

Numinous 2:20 PM  

Wah! I can't read the article from the New Yorker. They've cut me off because I've read too many this month. Oh well.

My condolances to @Puzzzle Hoarder. I didn't see that until late last night when it was far too late to post. I'm sorry for your loss.

I fell into almost every trap everyone else fell in. PodiUM and all the rest except OEUVRE. I'm ashamed to say I didn't remember that "Liberte, EGALITE, Fraternite, was the motto of France. I knew it from the French Revolution but not that it had become the official motto of L'Etat. EDESSA gave me fits too. PodiUM was throwing me off so I had a look at the map. I found the bottom half of this puzzle much easier than the top. Then the NE before the NW. Before KUMBAYA I was thinking something like s'mores. I rather enjoyed this workout. It took me a long time to do so this was what I predicted for yesterday.

@Loren, your snake bite story reminded me of this little ditty from Australia in the 1970s.

@Larry Gilstrap from yesterday. In spite of common American usage, a plaid is not a TARTAN. A TARTAN can be a plaid but not the other way round, you see, in Scottish, a plaid is something more like a blanket and not a pattern. I know, I know, it's a minor and pedantic point but when I saw that answer, I wondered.

JC66 2:41 PM  

@ M&A

Luv ur posts & Runts but as an old Jew, I think you've misused the word plotzed.

Trudy Morgan-Cole 2:55 PM  

Brutal for me today as I fell into both the OPUSES and PODIUM traps which, along with a lot of proper names I didn't know, had me tied up for a long time. Technically a DNF as I had to go to Google to solve the final AVA/OAXACA section.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

@Big Steve, when Google started picking up steam back in the day, I said something to a friend about a goofy habit I had. She told me, google it (although it may not have been a verb yet) and you'll find a million other people who do the exact same thing. Of course she was right.

And that's when I realized I wasn't the only weirdo walking around. So when I come here and see the "me too" entries that are what I also thought, I get a kick out of seeing so many people go through an identical thought process.

I'm not special, the internet said so. Good.

Masked and Anonymous 4:14 PM  

@JC66: yep. U may have somethin there, re: "plotzed".

M&A official unofficial dictionary lists three meanings for plotz:

* To flop down wearily. [This is sorta what M&A was going for, but not in the sense reflected in the other 2 defns.]
* To faint.
* To fall down dead.

Sooo … the plotz thickens! M&A clearly was going more for: plopped down, only more scruffy and desperate-soundin. May need to invent a new word, to achieve the appropriate aura.


swamp the drain!

puzzle hoarder 4:15 PM  

@Numinous, thanks you for the condolences. I just read the latest comments myself so thank you to all who who offered support.

Crane Poole 4:28 PM  

I'm with @Anonymous Susierah. A year ago, completing a Saturday or Sunday NYT puzzle was not possible. Now I'm a daily solver and frequent finisher. When talking puzzles with friends now, I get exactly what I used to say... "Maybe a Monday or Tuesday but that's all I can do". And I say, "Nope, you're smarter than I am. It's just a matter of revisiting the clues and thinking sideways a little."

Eventually it all worked out today, several write-overs. Most unfortunately I had 'not ever' for NOT EVEN crossing TARPONS and spent 10 minutes chasing it down. And the SEGO/EGALITE cross was a braintwister.

All else was fair. 'Hooters' before DOMINOS!

GILL I. 4:59 PM  

@Teedmn... Priceless....My favorite is the turtle.....!

Z 5:19 PM  

@anon1:46 - Even if Merriam-Webster didn't say that either tarpon or TARPONS is acceptable as a plural, there is always the species escape clause (since their are two species of TARPONS you could argue that "species of TARPONS" is correct even if a school of them would be called tarpon).

@Anon2:00/2:04 - While your point makes logical sense, your talking about a title that has been imported into English to signify a specific individual. So referring to Donatien Alphonse François as DE SADE is legit. Why? English. We do the same thing with Dutch and German names (and probably names from other languages - I'm just more familiar with Dutch and German examples).

@Crane Poole - Hooters is a Wrong Answer Hall of Fame nominee. I wonder if the mighty masked one can work it into a runtz puzzle... What am I saying, of course he can.

JC66 5:21 PM  

@ M&A

First yenta to the other yenta: when I saw the size of the engagement ring, I almost plotzed.

Mohair Sam 5:38 PM  

@Teedmn - Thanks, great article. Spent several summer evenings a couple of years back sitting a row behind a perfectly healthy lady with a nasty little dog wearing a "companion animal" vest at the local minor league baseball park. Didn't know which was more annoying, the dog or the owner. Now I know the blasted beast had no right to be there.

We solved the problem by moving our partial season ticket plan to a spot behind home plate, better location to harass the ump - "Hey Blue - you're missing a great game!"

Fountains of Golden Fluids 6:22 PM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

GHarris 7:17 PM  

@Z thanks for your comforting comments. Sorry my response is so delayed. Had some marching to do today, amazing!

Sherm Reinhardt 7:23 PM  

evil. evil. evil.

Anoa Bob 7:57 PM  

Late to the party but wanted to say I thought this was a very fine puzzle. The grid is wide open and allows for a seamless solve once a beach head is established. Mine was in the SE.

If you can put LYCEUM, OEUVRE, OAXACA & ÉGALITÉ in your grid, you have won me over.

If you need a foolproof, unassailable clue for TARPONS, look no further than my home town of Port Isabel, TX*. The high school mascot is the TARPON, and the various teams are called the TARPONS. Here are some Lady TARPONS soccer players.

*Locals call it a coastal drinking village with a serious fishing problem.

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

@Janet Hanks love time as love to solve time? Or an auto correct problem?

Arden 10:43 PM  

Did this late in the day as I was out demonstrating in the NYC women's March. That was fun! Many great signs and lots of great chants. Also lots of pink pussy hats. Very challenging and crunchy puzzle. Got kumbaya immediately but lots of misdirection. One mess up: this NYC gal doesn't know from tarpons or blocks.

Curleegirl 8:26 PM  

Just finished since I worked early yesterday. But I didn't want to put "pout" in even though it seemed reasonable because of the cross. Can anyone PLEASE tell me how "blocks, e.g." is "stat?"

evil doug 10:47 PM  

Basketball STATistics include points, rebounds and shot BLOCKS.

Addison 3:42 PM  

Thanks to @evildoug for explicating blocks -> stat. I looked all over the Web before finding this page, and now it makes sense.

Burma Shave 10:16 AM  




spacecraft 11:45 AM  

Hm. For appropriate answer I thought of GET; all ya gotta do is turn the final schwa into a long A. But I didn't write it in, thus saving another inkblot. The first one was misspelling BIGPoPI--which I really thought was right but I guess not.

Ah, but the major mess occurred--where d'ya think?--in the NW! Oration location, 6 letters ending in the M of DOD UMA, we are ALL going to enter podiUM. I mean, ALL. What city in central Macedonia? You mean, besides Odessa, there's really an "EDESSA??" Well, ADRoP makes no sense, as clued, but still...NOTEVEN after I finished the whole thing did I think I had it right. I logged on here expecting to confess to some sort of DNF--but WOOHOO! It WAS right!

KINDEYES is a good example of what I call WOF phrases: Wheel of Fortune that is. In other words, UNfamiliar ones. They do that all the time on that show, especially for the final puzzle. Can you imagine having ten seconds to suss out KIND EYES even with the start __N_ E_ES? Not gonna happen. It's Not a Thing People Say.

One more quibble: I'd hardly call DOMINOS a "restaurant." I've never seen one with any seating area; it's strictly pickup or delivery, at least in my experience.

These difficulties aside, I have to admit to an enjoyable solve INTOTO. There was nearly some more ink spilled for meXiCo off the X of REFLEXES, but OHARE forestalled that one. Gotta love KUMBAYA. Triumph factor high because of being right when I thought I wasn't, rather than any overall difficulty. It averages out to medium for a Saturday. Oh wait: UMA's had the title so many times...let's give the DOD to ELLE McPherson this time. I wouldn't KICK either one out of...etc. Birdie.

BS2 11:57 AM  


Some DESADE would BEETRED, and RELEASE black and BLUE,
and PREVAIL in the END, and NOTEVEN say, "BOO."


BS3 11:59 AM  


Those LAME ASPEN SITINS are riots in the USATODAY,
do Trump's POUTS and LAPELPIN make you FEELOK?


rondo 12:27 PM  

West side story? Easy-ish, with my KTEL KICKBALL giving me CATLIKEREFLEXES in a jif. The east didn't OPENUPTO me for quite a while until I looked into crossing BLUE EYES and things really started to fall. +/- 40 minutes and NOTEVEN one write-over.

Looking back, there are really a lot of names in this grid. I haven't read many comments but the PPP must be high.

There's one name in particular, yeah baby NEVE Campbell, that makes me FEELOK.

Most folks probably won't care, but I knocked out the latest Harper's puz which is always cryptic and this time partially encryptic. It took several sittings and probably at least four hours INTOTO, but I got it all correct even though the grid construct had two mistakes as printed and LAIDOUT. Golden stuff there as far as puzzles go.

Not so long ago @George Barany emailed me a coupla puzzles he had published in USATODAY. Good stuff there, as well.

I was deliberate ASEVER with today's puz and in the END, Prevailed.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Not "easy-medium". A more accurate rating is a cesspool of pissers.


Diana,LIW 1:40 PM  

Too many PPPs that I either didn't remember or totally didn't know. After some lookups I finished it, but the dnf was already clearly in place.

BIGPAPI? EDESSA? And lack of sports/pop knowledge did me in again.

Diana, LIW

Damn robot finder!

leftcoastTAM 1:55 PM  

Rex's Law: If the NW starts on the easy side, the puzzle will follow, if not.... Today it was on the easy side, and happily the rest did follow.

The grid-spanning downs were helpfully visible with a few crosses, STAT and UMA have become regulars, and there were several gimmes like USATODAY, SITINS, and ELLE. Old enough to remember the suave Charles BOYER and still enough with-it, maybe, to know of and admire NEVE Campbell.

Harder to see were EDESSA, TARPONS, and OAXACA, but crosses uncovered them.

END was not quite appropriately at the end, but close enough.

rain forest 3:27 PM  

Interesting how the order in which you enter answers affects whether or not you fall into traps. E.g. I had 1A and 15A before I looked at the "oration location", and so avoided the podiUM error. Also PRELOAD came early, so OAXACA was almost a gimme. CATLIKE REFLEXES pretty well LAID OUT the NW.

The whole east side, OTOH, was the most challenging part of the puzzle, at least for me. I missed the "eg" on the midnight clue, so I was thinking "time" rather than colour. LAPEL PIN was sort of "green paint", and wasn't obvious. For the French motto, I needed a couple of crosses to choose EGALITE over "liberte". For a while I mused whether a sliced finger would be ASEVER, in some convuluted crossword clue.

The NE came last, and when HAM and EGGS wasn't going to work, it took some sleuthing to get that section. But I managed it, and no w/o's. Liked the whole thing, as I love both SWISS and BRIE.

@leftcoastTAM I think END is appropriately the answer to the last clue, ie, the END.

The END.

leftcoastTAM 4:24 PM  

@rain forest: Right. Mind fixed on SE corner edges of grid, not on last-numbered down clue.

sdcheezhd 3:09 AM  

NW was hard, the rest was easy. NPR has a For the Record Feature so ADREP and PODIUM gives you that, like Rex the NOW gives you ---KNOW, from there you get TKOS (which ring the boxer's bell?) KTEL fixes that all but I didn't know that and had the S at the end anyway and I wasn't going going to get rid of NPR for BOO. And I never heard of EDESSA before. Ugh.

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