Peddler of religious literature / SAT 5-27-17 / Great Trek figure of 1830s / Notable 1973 defendant / Dickens character with dead lull about her / Spring's cyclic counterpart

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Easy-Challenging (Easy, except for SW corner, which is not)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: COLPORTEUR (28D: Peddler of religious literature) —
Colportage is the distribution of publications, books, and religious tracts by carriers called "colporteurs". The term does not necessarily refer to religious book peddling. (wikipedia)
• • •

Sometimes just an answer or two can ruin a whole puzzle for me. And I don't just mean ruin as in "ruin my time." I mean "bring the mood crashing down" or "make me wince in a way that never quite leaves my face." Today's puzzle was mostly excellent, I think. Lots of fresh and lively fill, incl. THROW SHADE and FLEXITARIAN. Fairly polished, wide-ranging. There were some dicey bits, like ETTAS (?) over IATE (??), but in the main, things were pretty ship shape. I am not sure I believe there is such a thing as a FLORIDA TECH (?), but I'll take the puzzle's word for it. Don't mind BOSOMY as a word, I guess, but coulda done without the ogley "centerfold" reference (43D: Like centerfolds, typically). But still, like I say, I was largely digging it. But then: two problems.

Just because a word *technically* exists doesn't mean you should try to pass it off as a legit crossword answer. 999 out of 1000 people are gonna say PRE-NATAL. 1 out of 1000 is going to say ANTENATAL (8D: During pregnancy), and that person is possessed by the ghost of a 19th-century country doctor. Just as you would never say PREBELLUM, you would never say ANTENATAL, no no no. I mean, I'm no doctor, but no. Looks like ANTENATAL might be Australian-speak. That's what google is indicating. But, yeah, I don't live there. So no. You don't take ANTENATAL vitamins, you take prenatal vitamins. You know it, I know it, the Carthaginians knew it. Prenatal. But that was just an eye-roll, frankly, *This* on the other hand, was a hard middle finger:

So much wrong here. First, yes, I *do* enjoy learning new things. But I do Not enjoy inelegantly made grids. This answer is the *only* way into a tight corner. So basically, you get COLP-, and you (if you're like me) go "Huh ... that's the start of no word ever. I must have an error." Then you think, "Wait ... is it MALE BLUE DOT?" Then you dive into the SW and you actually know the pitcher (though aren't sure about ABBOTT v. ABBETT) (39D: Jim ___, one-handed Yankee who pitched a no-hitter in 1993) and you know BOER (44A: Great Trek figure of the 1830s) and you know TERRY, but ... the rest stump you. Oh, you guess NEARER (41D: Like Mars vis-à-vis Jupiter), but ... still stuck. *Two* "?" clues down there? Come on. And that 28-Down, yeah, that still looks like gibberish. I still somehow managed to finish this thing in under 7 minutes, but the last two of those were spent just in that tiny stupid corner.

To end on a word that obscure, that uninferrable, that ... ugh. It sapped all the good vibes. All I was left with was this crappy jerk-word, which I would've been "happy" enough to learn, I guess, if a. it hadn't been such a sore thumb standout compared to the rest of the grid, and b. it hadn't been completely blocking the only entrance to that small corner. Solver experience, not considered. AGAIN: just because a word exists doesn't mean you should pull the trigger. Use some judgment. And for god's sake, don't ruin your otherwise lovely puzzle with obscure clunkers.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:13 AM  

Medium-tough (because @Rex SW) for me. I got into trouble in NW when I went with natl instead of ASSN because I misremembered Jennifer's last name. I've seen her name in previous crosswords and, much to my chagrin, I've read the book and still had recall problems.

I also tried pesca before FLEXI.

COLPORTEUR (@Rex and Twitter) was also a major WOE so the SW was on the tough side when you throw in the ANNOTATE/Gloss pair and a one armed pitcher, but it didn't diminish the puzzle for me.

Terrific Sat., liked it a lot! Plenty of zip and I had to work for it.

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

COLPORTEUR is evil. Just pure evil.

Brian 12:23 AM  

Flexitarian? Same as a regular eatanythingarian IMO.

Moly Shu 12:27 AM  

I'm with @Jae. Liked it a bunch. I didn't have a problem with COLPORTEUR (never heard of it) because ABBOTT NOOGIE and FLATECH were gimmies and gave me all of the surrounding areas. I can already sense the "@Rex doesn't know it so it must be terrible fill" brigade warming up.
SLOTS getting me warmed up for a Vegas trip in a couple weeks. @Roo, wanna meet me at In-N-Out and go all FLEXITARIAN???

AW 12:31 AM  

Ugh, what a miserable slog, crowned by the impossibly obscure and unknowable COLPORTEUR. WTF?! Who the hell is WADE (26A Notable 1973 defendant)? 14A Stoked is not AGOG. When you're stoked you're excited about something, keen--not in awe. 16A was so convoluted a clue that I couldn't parse it, never mind solve it. 50D 9/SEPT. Who writes a date that way? DIETETICS? FLEXITARIAN? Are those even words? Phooey!

Steve Reed 12:34 AM  

But what about Anything Goes? Night and Day? De-lovely?

ColoradoCog 12:59 AM  

@AW WADE was v. Roe.

Robin 1:01 AM  

SW was pretty much the first area I filled in. COLPORTEUR I pretty much got by filling every single cross for it.

The area that gave me the most trouble was the S central. Probably spent five minutes running the alphabet on a couple of the squares down there.

Finished slightly over my average Saturday, which means a lot over over my Saturday average in recent months.

puzzlehoarder 1:07 AM  

Great puzzle with late week resistance. The NW corner was deceptively easy. The center section really put me off. I had to go around knocking off the little sections one by one. For whatever reason this proceeded counterclockwise. Each little sections had a couple of easy answers, like BOER and NOOGIE, that would open each one up. Hats off to COLPORTEUR. I think every Saturday should have about ten of those. Would love to see our host throw his laptop.

puzzlehoarder 1:16 AM  

Computer won't let me type a comment and the phone just sent my first comment into the ether. Great puzzle though. The little sections in the top and bottom tiers made it doable.

George Barany 1:38 AM  

Thanks for the review, @Rex. I'm generally a big fan of @Damon Gulczynski's puzzles, but am also not averse to using the "check" and "reveal" functions at, let's say, 15 minutes into my solve. Glad to see that I'm not alone in my befuddlement at COLPORTEUR, a @Shortz-era debut which previously appeared in 1966 under the editorship of @Margaret Farrar.

The puzzle's highlight for me was the reference to @Jim ABBOTT, having relatively recently read a very inspirational essay about the pitcher within an anthology focused on the New York Yankees. Blanking out on the exact reference, but have sent SOS e-mail to my in-laws in the hope that one of them will come up with it and I can share further. In the meantime, I do have a reference to @Damon's very entertaining book of baseball trivia; click here.

Also, please allow me to give a plug to the upcoming Minnesota crossword tournament, which will be held on Sunday, June 11. More details found here. Hope to see some of you there.

Loren Muse Smith 2:20 AM  

@George! You’re back! Glad to see you, buddy.

I tell you, when I finally “finished” (dnf – “road/colpordeur/abrott”) I felt so triumphant. Shoulda been more chary about that southwest. Rats.

Kept trying “antefab” but it just didn’t fit.

It has never occurred to me to look at how many hits my name gets on google. I mean, I’ve looked up my name before out of curiosity, but that’s it. So I just looked - my married name barely gets any hits, but my maiden name gets 26, 200. Thanks, Harlan Coben.

THROW SHADE is terrific. I like how the expression embodies the sneakiness of it:

Loren, I really admire the fact that you refuse to be a slave to fashion.


That dress has always looked so good on you.

Nice to have DIETETICS crossing FLEXITARIAN. And there’s I ATE OREIDA tater tots. Don’t get the generic ones. Trust me.

I also noticed the TOP SHELF BOSOMY, well, pair.

@jae – thanks so much for the heads-up about David Sedaris. I taped it. David’s the one who first introduced me to the term FLEXITARIAN – someone “who eats meat if not too many people are watching.” When I read this, I sat there thinking how telling it would be if we could see what some people eat when no one is watching. There’s a real dietetic study there, boy. One of my many confessions would be a few weeks ago when this kid spilled some of the gummy bears he had won in a guess-how-many contest on the cafeteria floor on his way to the bus. Yes. This ends badly. I brazenly scooped’em up and told the other teachers on bus duty that I’d go throw’em away. I went around the corner and ate every damn one of them. Hey – I was starving, and they had just mopped. I survived.

DLG – a plum of a puzzle. Nice job. I’ve looked into the word CHARY to make sure I can pronounce it right and plan to take her for a test drive today. Cool clue.

chefwen 3:19 AM  

@George B. Welcome home, we've missed you.

I knew I would pay the price after yesterday's easy puzzle, this pup turned into a Google Fest. Unknowns were COLPORTEUR, FLEXITARIAN, ABBOTT, THROW SHADE, CHARY, etc. That's a lot of empty white space that needed filling.

On to Sunday's puzzle.

Brett 3:52 AM  

It finally pays off to be a historian of American religious history. One of Flannery O'Connor's short stories, "Good Country People," features a colporteur.

Larry Gilstrap 4:04 AM  

That was a hard nut to crack! I am so dogged, I amaze myself. Really very little in my wheelhouse, and those corners, and that chunky stack, and that idiomatic grid spanner. I love COLPORTEUR. "Kiss Me Kate" was my gateway musical. I've read Carl Sagan, unfortunately not PALE BLUE DOT, and he pulled no punches. Imagine if he were alive and had a Twitter presence. He would do a lot more than THROW SHADE at the science scoffers.

I have visited Hopi Land and attended a dance at a Pueblo. Truly one of the strangest experiences of my life, and not in a bad way. I truly felt as if I were an alien being in an alternative universe. I have stories.

I taught Ninth Grade for many years, so Miss HAVISHAM from Great Expectations came easily.

Jim ABBOTT began his career with the California Angels and I lived in Orange County and followed the team. I watched him on TV and thought it was cool that a guy with a disability could play baseball at the highest level. Wrong! I attended a game, had good seats, and watched him pitch. One of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed watching him move from pitching hand to glove hand seamlessly in an instant.

After yesterday's puzzle, I had a nightmare involving my driving a car with Loren, Hi @LMS, as a passenger. Too much for me, even if she were in the trunk. Let's walk to dinner instead.

Anonymous 6:06 AM  

A portmanteau for Michael Sharp and Eric Clanton: Sharpton.

Johnny 6:24 AM  

I did this on the red-eye from LAX to BWI, napping occasionally in the process. And COLPORTEUR killed me too. I had to come here to see what I was doing wrong, so I had a DNF, and I never DNF.

Henry WADE has an interesting/notorious story. He was the longest serving district attorney in US history; as Dallas district attorney in November 1963 he was a central figure during Lee Harvey Oswald's custody in the media chaos of the Dallas police headquarters, and would have prosecuted Oswald for the murders of President Kennedy and Officer Tippett; instead he prosecutes Jack Ruby for Oswald's murder. As district attorney he was named as the defendent in the court challenge case involving abortion rights; and he was DA for the prosecution of Randall Adams, whose death penalty conviction was thrown out due to the Erroll Morris documentary "Thin Blue Line," which exposed a policy of conviction at any cost and indicated many more false convictions.

Johnny 6:28 AM  

Also, I love BOSOMY. It's such a warm, friendly word.

Make of that what you will.

mathgent 6:36 AM  

@LMS (2:20): Loved your examples of THROWingSHADE.

Today set the record for the most red plusses in the margins, 27. Eleven of them were words or facts I didn't know.

@Nancy doesn't read Rex's commentary any more. Today's is an excellent example of why.

From the crosses it had to be FLORIDATECH but has any non-Aussie ever heard of it before?

I knew Jim ABBOTT, but had forgotten that he pitched a no-hitter.

I found it very hard. The pleasure came from the satisfaction of solving it without cheating and learning a lot, not from the solving itself. But no doubt about it. A wonderful piece of work from Mr. Gulczynski.

Dolgo 7:45 AM  

Well, this was certainly a challenge for me. Seven minutes, @Rex?! No way! I really had to struggle. Good for my insomnia, though. I nodded off about half way through and then finished when I woke up, as I usually do, at about three am.
I got the SW pretty early, with a guess on ABBOTT (you all know by now that sports is one of my bêtes noirs, along with pop music after about 1979). I had to guess at some of unfamiliar stuff--THROW SHADE, FLEXITARIAN. Even PALE BLUE DOT was new to me, but came through quickly by logical deduction or Naticking. There is, of course, nothing to whine about according to my prime criterion, i.e., if you can Google it, it's fair game.
So. That leaves COLPORTEUR. Pretty damn obscure, most of us seem to agree. I would be interested to know if anybody among us ever heard that one before. But it was fun to learn the etymology. It comes from the French "col," meaning neck. The idea that tract floggers carry their wares in a tray attached with a strap around the neck. That gave me a perverse kind of pleasure. I am, after all, Pedant in Residence!

QuasiMojo 8:08 AM  

Hi, George!

I'm beginning to think that Alan Alda has been in every film made in the last thirty years. I've never seen The Aviator so I struggled. I thought maybe ALBA. But I also had that as my region of Spain. lol. This was a fun Saturday challenge.

Melbourne, by the way, IS in Florida.

AGOG means stoked? I thought it meant amazed. Or stunned. Go-Go means stoked, I think. It's been a while since I saw one dancing. Which reminds me, centerfolds in Playgirl were definitely NOT BOSOMY. My first guess was STAPLED, but that did not fit. Then SHAPLY, but misspelled. LISOME? Nope. Okay, Bosomy it is.

Am I the only one getting tired of all these restrictive foodie categories? Flexitarian? Grow up and eat what's on your plate.

I sussed out COLPORTEUR from the TEUR part. I agree however that the SW corner was tres difficile. Somehow I pulled a ABBOTT out of my hat. I remember watching that game. And I'm not a sports fan!

Unknown 8:11 AM  

Um, Roe v Wade!

BarbieBarbie 8:24 AM  

I gave up on 28D after spending some time trying to remember which ones the Watchtower guys are. But I got it from the crosses, so didn't have to go back. Loved the Melbourne misdirect. No problem with ANTENATAL because it's opposite POST and has the right number of letters- lighten up, Rex. Love the idea of Ore-Ida being a portmanteau; I never thought of it that way because it doesn't feel like its own word.
Lots of great words here that kept me going round and round until finally only the NW was whiteish. Then, TOPSHELF fell and I could finish. Never thought I would. DONT THAT BEAT ALL.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Ooh, somebody had a slow time.

AW 8:35 AM  

I am humbled: Roe v Wade, of course. Duh! I should know better than to post stuff at 12:31AM in the heat of the moment. Lesson learned.

Two Ponies 8:48 AM  

Nice fun puzzle that taught me some new things like the relationship of Aztec and Hopi.
First impulse for 48A was boat and I felt so proud except it did not help me row myself out of that corner.

@Quasimojo, "Eat what's on your plate." Love it!

SouthsideJohnny 9:02 AM  

It's Saturday, so I can only dabble. Still don't understand the clue for 16 Across: wwary --> CHARY ? ? Help !

Suzy 9:03 AM  

The real Cole Porter is rolling over in his grave! Totally agree with Rex on this one! Welcome back, George!

Dean 9:05 AM  

COLPORTEUR... eezn't he ze one who wrote "I Get a Kique Out Of You"? I'm surprised to see people liking THROW SHADE which, in half a century of life split between living east and west, I have **never** encountered except as done by a tree. I hit a speed bump in the NW, thinking "No... he wouldn't really clue ERECTS as "establishes"...??? I did enjoy the "knuckle-headed" clue for NOOGIE, though.

r.alphbunker 9:10 AM  

Really wanted WATCHTOWER for 28D {Peddler of religious literature} COLPORTEUR even though I couldn't think of it while I was solving. Had to google the one armed pitcher to finish the SW.

Details are here.

Horace S. Patoot 9:12 AM  

Southsidejohnny, I had the same problem. The clue wants us to replace the first two letters with a single "w": chary -> wary.

Glimmerglass 9:23 AM  

I may have set a new personal record for perserenance (perhapse perSEVerance): 2:45. Yes that's 2 3/4 hours! including eating breakfast. I usually give up after an hour and go to @Rex and WEB, but for some reason I hung in there. Tons of words I never heard before, plus some other problems (misspelled HAVISHAM, for example). Even at the end, I was sure COLPORTEUR must be wrong, but kiss my Kate, it was correct! I knew none of the middle triple stack, but ERECTS and PREFAB, confirmed in other ways, gave me just enough leverage to guess parts of FLEX------- and FLORIDA (not Australia). -ALE BLUE DOT I got entirely from crosses and guessed correctly the P. I never heard of THROW SHADE (it still makes almost no sense to me), but lots of college nicknames end in TECH. So this was a satisfying, if ridiculous, achievement. Did I like it? Of course, as each corner finally gave up its secrets. Was it a fun solve? Well not when I was frustrated, which was most of the time, But at the end, YEAH!!!

ColoradoCog 9:27 AM  

I didn't find any bit of this one easy, but I managed to grind through it at about 120% of my regular Saturday time, and thoroughly enjoyed it. (Although maybe my opinion was colored by finishing while watching my Rockes score 8 in the 8th over the Cards. Go Rox!) Great puzzle. Yes there were outrageously hard ones in there (I'll jump onto the COLEPORTEUR dogpile) but this is a Saturday, isn't it? I don't understand @Rex's criticism of this one. If a Saturday doesn't put up a fight, where is the fun? But it was a completely fair fight. Show me a single Natick in here. There are none. There were many that I could only get through crosses needing crosses needing crosses, but isn't that what a Saturday puzzle should be?

Mohair Sam 9:53 AM  

How could I forget Jim ABBOTT's name? And the BOER's Great Trek? DNF'd therefore. Got locked in on "lock" instead of BOAT, took out NEARER therefore, but had all else down there. Jeez. Porter's best was "In the Still of the Night" btw. You oughta here it sung by Jane Monheit.

What's yer problem with ANTENATAL Rex? It's a Saturday and we hear Antebellum all the time, figure it out. THROWSHADE kinda nifty I thought. Great misdirect on FLORIDA TECH. Had to come here to be sure CHARY was right. I actually remember Sagan's PALE BLUE DOT series.

So I golf every Tuesday in a league at a nearby public course. After each round the guys gather in the clubhouse to insult each other's swings and scores and order dinner off the specials board which contains burgers and beef sandwiches and tacos and dogs. Most weeks I quietly ask the waitress (Meghan) to ask the chef to make me a cheese, lettuce, and tomato sandwich on white with mayo - thanks. Once every five or six weeks I'll grab a burger. Reliably Meghan will say, "I thought you were a vegetarian." To which I just as reliably reply that I only occasionally eat meat. "Why?" says she. I'd like to thank Damon Gulczynski for FLEXITARIAN. Once I give Meghan that word she'll hopefully leave me alone.

Scott C. Lucas 9:54 AM  

I don't understand how gloss is a clue for annotate

Tim Aurthur 10:05 AM  

What a strange mixture of old and new. COLPORTEUR pops up every now and then in 19th c. French literature (where it doesn't have a religious sense, just an itinerant peddler), and then there's HAVISHAM, which I had trouble accepting without the "Miss." Those guys mixed in the 2, 7 & 10D. That's Saturday for you.

Tim Aurthur 10:09 AM  

@Scott, a literary gloss is a marginal note or comment.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

No need to worry Dems. Tom Perez has got this under control.

Nancy 10:21 AM  

I am not worthy to comment on the blog today. I cheated. I cheated a lot. I had to. This was so far out of my wheelhouse as to be on another planet. Maybe on one that's a PALE BLUE DOT? Oh, wait, I think that's our planet. PALE BLUE DOT was my first cheat, and I was only missing three letters. I never would have seen the P, because that was giving me COLP------- at 28D. There's no such word, right? COLPORTEUR was my 2nd cheat. (I went to my Webster and looked up COLP.) My 3rd cheat was the one-armed pitcher. My 4th cheat was HANNAH. I don't watch Girls. That is more cheats on one puzzle than I normally have in an entire year.

Like @mathgent, I absolutely loved Loren's examples of THROW SHADE, a term I've never heard. It may be a generational thing. My generation's equivalent would probably be "backhanded compliment." But Loren's examples, so sharp and so funny, made it crystal clear just what to THROW SHADE means and how skillfully it can be done.

Did I enjoy this puzzle? It's hard to enjoy a puzzle that makes you feel dumb.

jberg 10:32 AM  

Welcome back, @George! We've missed you!

Really tough. After a long struggle, EmmY led me into theSE, fixed by NO RFILLS, and somehow that got me THROW SHADE (helped by our old friends the ERNES -- thought of them right away, but said, 'naw, that can't be it.') Fortunately, I had a vague idea that Zorro had some historical antecedent, or i'd have been stuck forever. TunES UP before TAKES didn't help, either.

So I had the entire East side filled in, but only DUH and BOER out West. And of course, I was wracking my brain (or is it racking?) to think of the names of Australian universiteis. McQuarrie didn't work, and most of the rest of them are named for cities, or something. It needed almost all the crosses, and then the rest took only minor struggle. I did like the ORE-IDA/flORIDA pairing.

It might have gone faster if I'd heard of LEEZA, in which case AZTEC would have gone in much sooner.

I'm left trying to think of another way to clue ATNO. I can think of all kinds of phrases like 'on no occasion' or 'in no circumstances,' but AT NO doesn't seem to work that way. Can anyone come up with something?

evil doug 10:45 AM  

You telling me there are no ogros in that game?

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

I'm from FL, and never once heard it called FLORIDA TECH; it's FIT. This clue is the equivalent of filling "University in Cambridge" with MASSACHUSETTS TECH :P I too enjoyed FLEXITARIAN and *loved* the contemporary "THROW SHADE." Did not care for most of the rest; lackluster and difficult in a way that was too contrived, in my opinion.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

@Tim Arthur,
You beat me to it. Rex has a pretty big gap in his knowledge of literature for a guy with a PhD in literature. He also has a lot of sand in his vagina.
But really, one problem at time.

D.L Moody

Bill Feeney 10:54 AM  

48A-bank to bank transfers- wanted ferry or pool player. Does anyone here have the same affliction as me? I read a clue, imagine an answer in my head, then look at the puzzzle. If the number of spaces does not fit my answer, I sit there trying to will the answer into the spaces allowed. I demand the puzzle have one more or one less space, because my answer is so right! BOAT, indeed. The answer is ferry.
Can't tell you how many times I have had to GLOSS over an answer because the constructor put in the wrong number of spaces.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Sometimes reading these comments is just depressing. Aussies you say?!

Ralph Phillips 11:03 AM  

Thank you I too was puzzled

Teedmn 11:05 AM  

NE, easy. What next? COPA in the NW, okay, ACEd that.

I flexibly put in FLEXITARIAN, confidently put in FLORIDA TECH off the FLOR. EverSHAM became HAVISHAM. DONTTHATBEATALL filled the middle bottom. PREFAB was ERECTEd easily though with NO FRILLS.

43D was Blonde before BOSOMY. Oops.

So I'm thinking to myself how this easy Saturday is following the easy Friday of yesterday when I hit the SW. SPY bounded by ________TATE was all I had there. What is COLP________?

elveS were a D&D race but gave me no traction. After erasing elveS, I had the sudden aha of NOOGIE and OGRES. Then NEARER. Hope sprang into my BOSOMY that I would pull this off. But I fooled around with eliOTT and AlcOTT at 39D before hitting the "check" button in AcrossLite. For some reason, I was thinking the Great Trek involved some trip to one of the Poles so I was wracking my brain for all the Arctic and Antarctic explorers I could think of. Byrd came to mind, ABBOTT came clear along with the DUH answer of BOAT. So a DNF due to the check button usage. The difficulty of that final sprint definitely made this Saturday-worthy. Thanks, Damon.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Why "NW" Spain? LEON is not an abbr.

Pete s 11:27 AM  

Is it legal to have three "ups " in a puzzle as in coverup, takes up and tie up

RAD2626 11:28 AM  

I could not have made more mistakes in what was a very hard puzzle for me. Sets up for ERECTS, TOP rated for TOP SHELF, stupidly Georgia for FLORIDA even though we have a home 40 miles from Melbourne, FL. Also had trouble with clues. Got NEARER but Mars viz a viz Jupiter means what? Nearer to whom? Us? Just a total bear. But not a BOER or bore. Great challenge.

Jim Abbott was an incredible athlete. @Larry Gilstrap I sat in the front row behind home plate a half dozen times when he pitched and never could figure out how he got the glove off and the ball into the bare hand to throw particularly when he was hit a ground ball. Just marvelous.

Carola 11:30 AM  

Pleasantly challenging for me, getting into the "Now, that's a Saturday!" range. I agree with others about the SW being tough: my way in was that thanks-to-previous-crosswords NOOGIE and a guess at NEARER, which meant it had to be BOER...and TERRY...and the rest.
But I actually finished in the SE: my mind was going in a PRE-cut direction (for putting up vegetables or fruit), so that little FAB area was the last to fill in.
COLPORTage is one of those words I've seen often enough to remember it, without knowing what it meant or bothering to look it up; I think I thought it was related to "portmanteau," both because of the "port" and not really understanding that word either (I've done enough crosswords, though, to get ORE-IDA right away).
For refuge from current events, I read a blog about the UK royals, in which commenters - all at least one generation younger than I, often say they don't mean to THROW SHADE on so-and-so, but.... - this will probably be my only opportunity to use the phrase myself.

Thank you, Damon Gulczynki - enjoyed it!

GHarris 11:38 AM  

@Dean Your quasifrench comment made me smile, a much needed respite from what was, for me, an undoable puzzle.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Anyone still donating to the Clinton Foundation? Clinton Global Initiative?

Alexscott68 11:52 AM  

Did anyone else put leARY in instead of CHARY at 16A? Never heard the word CHARY before, was stuck for a long time in the NW because of it. Finally figured out THROW SHADE, but ended up with wHARY and AwE.

At least with COLPATEUR, you knew it was going to be an obscure word early on. ANTENATAL is ugly but fairly easy to get with crosses. Agree with Rex this was a mostly good puzzle somewhat ruined by a few ugh answers.

howard a. brenner 12:02 PM  

absolutely agree with every word rex wrote

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Beep. Boop. Beep.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

ANTENATAL is totally a legitimate word. Many Md or Rn Fig.(s) and parents would recognize it because a lot of hospitals in the US have ANTENATAL Testing Units for people in the intrapartum period. COLPORTEUR, on the other hand, oof.

Trudy Morgan-Cole 12:26 PM  

Not only did someone here know it, i was either fortunate or unfortunate enough to grow up in a religious environment where COLPORTEUR was an absolute gimme. My only hesitation was wondering could it really be that because I've never heard the word outside church. I've never peddled religious books door to door myself, but I know plenty of folks who did (and a few who do to this day, to earn money to pay for church college. I can't imagine it's as lucrative a gig as, say, woeking for minimum wage at a fast food place).

But then I had to google ABBOTT and PALEBLUEDOT so ...

Tim Pierce 12:26 PM  

I loved almost every inch of this puzzle. #throwingshade

Anoa Bob 12:28 PM  

This one hit me in the sweet spot. When I dropped in THROW SHADE and HAVISHAM with only a couple of letters filled in, I let out a whoop and did a celebratory standing back-flip. Haven't done that in a while. After those beauties, the puzzle could do no wrong.

There was a time when I would be disappointed if a crossword puzzle did not send me scurrying to the dictionary to look UP a new word. So COLPORTEUR was a nostalgic throwback and a re-awakened this old word-nerd's delight.

That has changed. Nowadays it seems like the vocabulary is aimed at an 8th or 9th grade level. 40,000 new solvers every quarter, you know.

Carl Sagan was a major science hero for me, what I imagine Neil deGrasse Tyson is for the young and impressionable of today. I was transfixed, mesmerized even, by his Cosmos TV series. So seeing PALE BLUE DOT was a real TREAT. By the way, another science hero of mine is the 19th century science popularizer extraordinaire, and author of the first Cosmos (Kosmos), Alexander von Humboldt.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Linwood Kaine, Tim Kaine's son is aspiring to be Eric Clanton. Sad.

BethRK 12:32 PM  

I so wanted 28 down to be Watchtower. Sigh.

GILL I. 12:47 PM  

Agree, @Rex and your COLPORTEUR hard middle finger reference made me laugh. All I kept thinking of was some sort of Jehova's Witness or Seventh Day Adventist. They always dress so nicely.
Same problem in the SW as all of you. Wanted STOOGE for NOOGIE...wanted so many other words...Why wasn't ZORRO the fictional swordsman and who is HANNAH HAVISHAM? Google was my best friend today. Never heard of THROWS SHADE nor FLEXITARIAN. I'm an eateverythingarian. Just last night I was trying to explain to my sweet neighbor how she should try snails sometime. I went into great detail on how they are purged and that eventually they get put back into their shells and stuffed with garlic and white wine and parsley and then baked. She wasn't impressed. She said the only thing she likes about snails is how they sound when she squishes them.
Leon is quite beautiful. It's a perfect stop on your way to Portugal. Stay at the Parador San Marcos Hostal, eat the sopa de ajo and drink some Ribera del Duero. You can thank me later.
Quite a workout and too much cheating to be in awe of the puzzle. My bad.

Churlish Nabob 12:53 PM  

So who throws the most childish tantrums, Rex or Drumpf?

old timer 12:56 PM  

I cheated a lot too, for HANNAH, PALEBLUEDOT, and ALDA. Plus to confirm LEEZA, I guessed AZTEC but question if it is the actual name of a language. Thought it was Nahuatl. Oddly enough, I needed no help coming up with COLPORTEUR. Once I had most of the crosses it seemed to be the obvious choice.

And welcome back, Prof. Barany. You are much missed here.

Tim Aurthur 12:58 PM  

Just happened to see a picture of Wonder Woman, and it occurred to me that "Like Wonder Woman" would have been a better clue for 43D.

Stanley Hudson 1:11 PM  

@George Barany, good to have you back, prof.

Is EGOSURF a real portmanteau?

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Grid design is wonky and superb. It tries hard to avoid items of the weeject persuasion, nettin only 4 candidates, in today's competition. Of the 4, M&A picks DUH, as it kinda sums up his solvequest.

Things M&A did not know:

* ALDA was in "The Aviator".
* ERNES is related to kites.
* CHARY is a word.
* Roe vs. WADE was as recent as 1973.
* HAVISHAM darlin. What book does she live in?
* ANTENATAL. Married to UNCANATAL, I betcha.
* FLORIDATECH is in Australia.
* FLEXITARIAN is a word.
* PALEBLUEDOT by Carl Sagan. Sounds like a better read than 50 shades of gray. Assume the title refers either to planet Earth or that stuff already growin on our leftover pizza.
* DIETETICS is a science. Maybe I should study it, to learn how to keep them palebluedots outta my pizza. M&A suspects refrigeration would help.
* BOSOMY. But, got it, sooo … ok.
* Last, but not least: COLPORTEUR. Composer of "Don't Fence M&e In", ironically (yo, @RP). Also did "U Do Something To M&e" and "I've Got U Under My Skin", btw. Don't quite get the clue used in the puz, but, hey -- it's Saturday... "Anything Goes".

Only problem was some of the above criss-crossed themselves into trouble brewin for the M&A. "Just One of Those Things", I guess. Me? "I Get a Kick Out of U".

Got ATNO offa nuthin, tho. M&A's best minor conquest of the day. The runtpuzs have used every last day-um symbol on the atomic scoreboard, over the years (ask @r.alph), which made this puppy easier than snot, at our house. Well Did You Evah do a runtpuz? They're "Too Darn Hot" as snot for some solvers to handle, I reckon.

And … "DONTTHATBEATALL" shoulda been a COLPORTEUR tune, if it weren't.

Thanx, Mr. Gulczynski. "What Is This Thing Called LEON?"

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Aketi 1:35 PM  

@George Barany, welcome back.

@Nancy, you didn't cheat today, you LFCed today. There are training days when you LFC and competition days when you go for the gold star (which you actually get on the iPad). I consider Mondays and Tuesdays to be my competition days and the rest of the week to be my LFC training days. Since I am not crosswordinally gifted, my training is proceeding at a leisurely pace. Maybe in 5 years I'll add Wednesday as a competition day,

@Rex, in my line of work, ANTENATAL and PRENATAL are used interchangeably. Consider it an LFC. Like COLPORTEUR might be for me. ABBOTT, on the other hand, is more likely to be a FFC. Like that golfer guy with the same set of vowels mixed up in his four letter first and last names.

My version of FLEXITARIAN, includes eating bugs. I blame my love of palm oil fried termites in Peace Corps. Cricket tacos PALE in comparison.

@Anoa Bob, both are my heros. The latter, thanks to my son,

There is a video game called Cow Clicker that was developed to satirize FarmVille. The developer was actually shocked when it turned out to be very popular. All you did was click on a cow and it would moo. There are many apps on phones and tablets that don't do much more than that. Apparently, according to the Cow Catcher experiment I am not alone. I find such apps to be oddly soothing and addicting, like the Crossy Road app that I played for an afternoon before I realized that my chicken was always going to get run over so I forced myself to delete the app. After deleting that app, I'm finding newfound satisfaction in clicking on things I don't like and making them disappear.

Masked and Anonymous 1:55 PM  


Oh, yeah …
Hadn't heard of THROWSHADE before, either. Had forgotten that one, as it was kinda out there. Like, from out around Mars -- or France -- or somesuch. Well, hey -- it **is** symmetrical with the French spellin of COL PORTEUR, I'd grant.

Is this one of the 50 shades of throwrug?

M&A identifies more with the plural THROWS HADES form. Clue: {Spits out a juicy "hell no"??}.

Or the {Cast a singer??} clue answer version, of: THROW SADE. Too desperate? … hoped so.

THROW SHAD E. Say now, there's yer rodeo … clue: {Toss unwanted sprat relative toward the sunrise??}.

har. Actually, sorta fun -- throwin shade at/on THROWSHADE...


Rachel Weeps For Her 👶 2:29 PM  

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Joe Dipinto 2:48 PM  

The clue for COLPORTEUR should have been:

Composer of "I Love Paris", in Paris

Frayed Knot 3:15 PM  

When I -- someone who's the length of two Tiger Woods drive plus a Giancarlo HR away from being an expert (ask your sports fan friends if you don't get that one) -- can finish a puzzle in reasonable (for me) time despite having never heard of COLPORTEUR, FLORIDATECH, ANTENATAL, CHARY (still don't know what THAT is!!), or FLEXITARIAN, I can't complain too much about it being hard.

That I was able to piece together everything despite having the above (mostly) large holes to fill I think is a tribute to the rest of the construction.
Knowing PALEBLUEDOT AND ABBOTT right off helped a bunch.

Sir Hillary 3:38 PM  

I would sacrifice everything I've been paid
For the sake of seeing old Rex THROWSHADE
At a COLPORTEUR acquaintance not made
And he yells as a basic reflex:

"Don't you know, Will Shortz, you never can win?
Why not resign as editor?
Wake up, I'm your predator!"

But each time he spleens, something intervenes
And he stops before he can begin.
'Cause he's got Will under his skin.

scrollfinger 3:38 PM  

Just a reminder. When you see "Anonymous" begin to appear as you are scrolling through the blog, tap it (iPad) or click it (desk top) and the comment will disappear.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

@ Scrolfinger,
No. The comment doesn't disappear. It may not be visible on the screen you're viewing, but be assured, it is still there. Hope that helps.

Aketi 3:45 PM  

@scrollfinger, except if preceded or anteceded by "Masked and"

GILL I. 3:46 PM  

@Mohair...Your clubhouse sandwich brought a smile....Growing up, my dad never "allowed" white processed bread at the table. I never asked why because we always had some sort of baquette and that was fine by me. I was staying with him for a bit while my step-mom went back to France; keeping him company and cooking for him. It's a long story but I found out that he secretly would make himself a mayo sandwich with thinly sliced red onions on WHITE PROCESSED bread. He was embarrassed I found out and swore me to secrecy.
It's actually quite delicious. Best Foods Mayo rocks!

Mr. B 4:02 PM  

Ugh...that SW corner ate me up and spat me out. Despite getting TERRY and SPY...I was stopped cold at COLP_ _ _ _ _ _. Wanted elvEs in there... and couldn't remember the pitcher's name. My reluctance to use Mr. Google had me crying uncle. DNF... but I'm actually satisfied that I ACEd the rest of the puzzle. Surprised that CHARY and THROWSHADE were in fact correct.

Okay...Mr. win. I'll get you next time.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone...

puzzlehoarder 4:18 PM  


BarbieBarbie 4:27 PM  

@Sir H, that was magnificent. Loud applause from EDT. Please construct, if you don't already.
@Gill, me too on parental diet restrictions... And yet, the world's best sandwich is baloney and Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread. Individually, yeccch! Together, mmmmm [insert drooling Homer Simpson image]...

phil phil 4:37 PM  

actually had in t-rEXITARIAN. Seemed plausible

Norm 5:03 PM  

I liked this puzzle a lot and thought that Rex's rant was even more childish that usual. I have no problems with a weird word like COLPORTEUR (especially on a Friday or Saturday) if the crosses are fair -- and these were. ANTENATAL was no problem since PRE- obviously would not fit, so what else could it be? FLEXITARIAN was totally new to me, and I love it. I now have a word for my wife's eating preferences. Wonderful puzzle.

Oh, @Scott C. Lucas : Think "to put a gloss on" I thought that was a very clever clue.

Tom Faure 5:06 PM  

@joe dipinto nice one

Mohair Sam 5:12 PM  

@Gill I - Great stuff. I love how he swore you to secrecy. Fact is white bread does not mess with the flavor of the stuff in the middle, and does a great job of holding it all together - what more can one ask?

Nancy 5:58 PM  

@BarbieBarbie (4:27) -- I enjoy your comments and agree with you on a great many things, but I must beg to differ with you on "the world's best sandwich," which is certainly not baloney with mayo on Wonder white bread. Heaven forfend! The world's best sandwich is very rare roast beef on seeded rye bread, with cole slaw and Russian dressing.

Laurence Katz 5:59 PM  

I know she gets clued over and over this way, but Etta James -- who certainly could and did occasionally sing some jazz -- was not a jazz singer. R&B, soul, blues, yes. Jazz? Not really. It's like calling Paul Simon a comedian because he's appeared in skits on SNL.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

I'm the anonymous you jousted with last evening. I think you're dead wrong on the value of signed posts. But your judgment on sandwiches redeems you. And I'm glad, because I am a regular and a fan of you and Mohair and Evil Doug, et al.
Anonymous South Jersey

Paloma Vita 6:52 PM  

I personally know "colporteur" as a French word meaning travelling salesman, peddler. So, yes being French was an asset in this case and made this corner a lot easier to solve. I had an issue with "chary" because the clue is badly written from my point of view. It says, "... when its first two letters are replaced with 'w'" which to me means that each letter is replaced by a "w" and that made no sense to me! I would have rephrased to "...when its first two letters are replaced with one 'w'"! And I had never heard the word "chary" before so being French was not an asset in this case ;)

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

@ Nancy,
I'm anonymous you jousted with last night. I still believe you're dead wrong on the worth of signed posts. But your judgment on sandwiches redeems you. There is in fact nothing better than the Russian dressing /Cole slaw combo (obviously on rye!) roast beef sandwich. And I'm glad to acknowledge that truth because I'm a regular here, and I'm a fan of yours and Mohair a day evil Doug, et al.
South Jersey Anonymous

Dolgo 7:20 PM  

Oof! Too many COLPORTEUR/Cole Porter puns. Don't you all read others' entries?
CHARY is a perfectly good English word--definitely not French!
The PiR has spoken!!

dm3000 7:53 PM  

Not a sports fan, and still sussed out the SW. Damon rules!

Mohair Sam 8:01 PM  

@Nancy and @South Jersey - When I was a kid one of my older sisters owned a deli on Long Island. She roasted her own beef for cold cuts. The roast was so good that she was able to add a large fee to the price of the deli when she sold for the roast beef recipe (including the time, temp, and the spices for the roast). As a teen I would help out in the store and eat that roast beef for lunch (rare, sliced very thin) - no bread, no salt, no pepper, no slaw, no russian, no nothin'. Eventually Sis complained that I was eating the profits and told me to put the beef between bread slices. Hence to this day I use tasteless white and maybe a hint of Hellman's Mayo with roast beef. But I've never tasted RB that good since.

Nancy 8:24 PM  

Thanks for your charming comment, @New Jersey Anonymous. Peace! And why not be "New Jersey Anonymous" from now on? It makes you stand out from the crowd. It makes you a very special Anonymous, if you see what I mean.

@Mohair --When roast beef is that good, there's nothing better. I envy you your older sister.

BarbieBarbie 8:30 PM  

@Nancy et al-- you win. As a grownup I do love the sandwich you describe, especially with seeded rye. Unfortunately I am an actual flexitarian, and almost never eat beef (though always rare, on the few occasions). BUT take that same sandwich, including slaw and all, and sub in some blackened catfish... That is really good.

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

Ok asswipe; The Clinton Foundation gave a greater percentage of it's donations to needs of people than almost any charity. Meanwhile, Mr. Insane only promises to donate to charity but,somehow the charities never seem to receive any money. But, hey, at least he sexually assaults women because it is a privilege of his rank.

Anonymous 9:02 PM  


South Jersey Anonymous

Andrew Heinegg 9:06 PM  

Don't you think among the reasons you haven't tasted roast beef that good since is that with some exceptions, cattle are raised in penned herds and fed grains, hormones and antibiotics in massive amounts now and that also, your tastes will generally but not always become more refined or picky. It is one of the many tricks of our memories that what seemed bad at the time is now simply awful and what was good was the world's best. Or maybe you just did have the greatest roast beef of all time. I dunno.

Aketi 9:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 9:35 PM  

@Nancy and others, I had a vegan dish tonight from a restaurant that usually has good dishes but served up an epic fail. Your roast beef descriptions are leaving my mouth watering with unrequited desire.

@Andrew Heidegg, I only saw one pathetic skinny steer the whole time I was in Peace Corps and the Belgian nuns bought him in his entirety. So I don't know how he tasted. I can attest to the fact that those free range termite eating chickens I had to pluck were the best I've ever eaten. When I first returned to the States I could not stand the smell of store bought chicken.

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

Yeah, South Jersey hoping to tap into Nancy. Why not bro? In the publishing business in the 60s and 70s so I bet she can bang with the best of them.

Anonymous 9:47 PM  

Wonder if she blew Updike?

Anonymous 9:48 PM  

It's not a baby it's a clump of cells. And this includes you pregnant women who have been carrying these clumps of cells for 8.5 months . Seriously , anyone who thinks an 8 month fetus is a baby is insane.

Anonymous 10:05 PM  

Anyone ever spoke to an expectant mother who asked if you wanted to feel her baby and corrected by telling her it's not a baby just a clump of cells ? I gotta admit it doesn't go over well. The truth hurts. How dare she think an unborn child is a real person.

Anonymous 10:05 PM  

To all the stalwarts, even those I don't have much time for,I concede. Anonymity is poisonous.

South Jersey Anonymous

Anonymous 11:58 PM  

It's sad that this blog attracts such evil, nasty people. Naturally, they are all cowardly anonymice!

paulsfo 12:10 AM  

Every cross of COLPORTEUR is a common word. Yes, it's a word that few of us knew. So what?

Also, how can one (just RP, I guess) possibly complain about ANTENATAL (with easy crosses) in a Saturday puzzle?

I DNF, but I don't think I was cheated.

Joe Dipinto 12:42 AM  

@Tom Faure -- thanx!

Anonymous 2:28 AM  

For me the tough corner was the northeast. Had zorro for ATHOS and done for ONIT temporarily. Eventually I remembered ATHOS and got on track. Colporteur wasn't a problem for me, even though I'd never heard of it.
Enjoyed the challenge- thanks, Damon.

kitshef 9:13 PM  

Flew through the East, bogged down in the West, especially the SW. But where I hated a lot of the stuff I was flying through (THROW SHADE, EGO SURF - you know, the crap I only ever see in crossword puzzles), I liked the SW because I learned COLPORTEUR and a new meaning of GLOSS.

spacecraft 11:03 AM  

Easy nowhere; challenging everywhere--and in the SW, TOPSHELF-challenging. This time the NW was the "easiest," i.e. the least tough. Wanted FOUNDS instead of ERECTS; "establishes" is a lot NEARER the former. But FETE/FACADE threw that out.

Down into the wide open center, where I eventually let go of Australia for the Melbourne locale--after having FL_R_D. Thank goodness DIETETICS and PALEBLUEDOT were there: sorely needed gimmes. Then 7-down was a nightmare to parse. BE AT ALL? Rackin mah brain for I don't know how long before waking up to the idea that BE AT is really BEAT. And even then, I wrote wONTTHATBEATALL, creating my only, one-letter writeover.

I agree that preNATAL is by far more common, but I can (just barely) accept ANTENATAL. THROWSHADE, OTOH, was a total WOE for me; never heard that expression. Made the NE the second-toughest. I shouldn't have taken so long to remember Miss HAVISHAM from Great Expectations; I kept thinking of Mme. Defarge but luckily that didn't fit.

As for 28-down, it's all been said. Dude wrote chansons. After every letter was forced in on crosses, I still thought I was wrong somewhere. C'mon, there's no word like that! well, yeah there is. Ya learn something new every day.

Triumph factor stratospheric; yesterday was the calm before today's storm SYSTEM. DOD is the 43-down LEEZA: TOPSHELF for sure. I have to give at least a birdie on the triumph factor alone, but that total outlier blocking the SW entry takes eagle off the table.

Burma Shave 11:42 AM  


and VIES for cheerleading at FLORIDATECH basketball -
there's no COVERUP front, that's TOPSHELF protocol,


Diana,LIW 12:48 PM  

Hey - how 'bout them Mariners?

Not only was the paper late this morning, when it showed up it brought this trivia fest instead of a crossword. And a decidedly "guy-oriented" trivia fest. Not from my planet. I did recognize Miss HAVISHAM, even tho I didn't know the specific quote. Poor old Miss H.

I'm AGOG that a one-handed pitcher can perform such a feat, but my baseball knowledge is right up there with my ken futball or professional epee players.

Then throw in a few totally unknown actual words (looking at you Col and CHARY) and I came up with a big fat dnf. Can't believe I fell for "fall" instead of the crosswordy NEAP. Never played D&D. (Hey, I did play Myst. When is that going to show up?)

Glad to see George B back, and to learn that the constructor wrote a book about baseball "trivia," and called it trivia.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords (with wordplay)

rondo 1:30 PM  

Well, it went slowly but surely. Unlike OFL, the SW was a gimme zone with ABBOTT NOOGIE and really a gimme NEARER. Like @spacey a one letter w/o having FLEXaTARIAN before I studied up on DIETETICS; you know, L. Ron Hubbard's cookbook. Har.

Remember Jim ABBOTT well. And some years ago in our softball league a team also had a one armed pitcher (due to an unfortunate corn-picker accident) who had to do the same thing with his glove. But he also batted with one arm. Talk about forearm strength. Gotta admire such determination.

Didn't they call the Monkees the PREFAB Four?

ATNO time did I consider anyone but yeah baby LEEZA Gibbons for spot today.

Last letter in was the C in CHARY. Very nice puz IMHO. Now let's all sing some unknown COLPORTEUR songs.

Deb Ehnes 1:40 PM  

Great puzzle all around with new answers I've never seen before in crosswords. Definitely made up for yesterday's easy puzzle.

rain forest 2:56 PM  

Tough sledding indeed, but in a close fight to the finish, I won!

Starting in the SE with VAPE, that whole section was not too bad but I w/o lAceS UP, a harbinger of many other w/o's to come. I found the NE the least resistant, thanks to THROW SHADE, a phrase I've heard on Bill Maher. Got CHARY on logic alone (brag). Took a while to remember ALDA in The Aviator, and didn't know LEEZA (DOD? OK, if you say so, guys).

I didn't have the trouble in the SW that others had, thanks to ABBOTT, NOOGIE, and NEARER (once I got rid of closER). Learned COLPORTEUR like just about everyone else. Who is ETTA Jones?

Finished in the NW where I had to finally accept AGOG.

This solvelogue brought to you by rain forest. Yer welcome. Oh, I thought this was a great puzzle, even with AGOG.

leftcoastTAM 3:27 PM  

COLPORTEUR and THROWSHADE took me out of this one, even to the extent of giving up on some of their crosses as well.

As for BOAT, that seemed much too easy for this puzzle, and settled on punt instead, which is a much better answer, IMO.

FLORIDATECH in Melbourne? Who knew? ANTENATAL? Okay, I guess. And as for the long center 7D, had a hard time getting with the down-home grammar indicated in the clue.

This puzzle is the antithesis of yesterday's.

Congrats to fellow syndies who finished this one.

rondo 4:24 PM  

@rainy - ETTA James was a R&B, soul, blues and jazthe Northern Exposurez singer most popular in the 1960s. Most known song is probably "AT Last", Google it, it's probably on youtube. It was also on the NORTHERN EXPOSURE TV show soundtrack.

rondo 4:26 PM  

Sorry , need new bifocals. Etta Jones I'd have to google,

spacecraft 5:59 PM  

Now there was a series WAY ahead of its time. Gotta love that streetwalking moose! Unfortunately, by that time the sitcom viewing public had already been dumbed down, and NE soared far above the typical watcher's head, lasting only five years. Still, that was 40% longer than Star Trek...

leftcoastTAM 6:38 PM  

After spending too much time reading just about all of the comments from the very top-down, feel strongly reinforced in my belief that many of us are playing this game by quite different rules.

The basic difference is electronic and other help vs. pen/pencil and no outside help. Some solvers acknowledge the help but others don't or just take it for granted as a way of solving.

Not a big deal, but this does make it harder to assess how we're doing at this otherwise worthwhile game.

Diana,LIW 6:55 PM  

@RondoLino - L. Ron's cookbook? (DIETETICS) and PREFAB 4 - ah, I see you're mining the motherlode ore of pop culture. If you had new bifocals, you'd be faster than just the 4th-best solver in the known galaxy.

@Rainy - how did CHARY come to you thru logic? Enquirer minds want to know...(for the alternate fact news)

@Lefty - yes, BOAT seemed easy peasy for this bear of a puz. And I thought this puz sucked the "difficult" out of the last two puzzles and kept it for itself.

@Spacey - If NExp was ahead of its time, that means that there must be some good TV coming. 'Cause 92.7% of what has been on my paltry 750 channels since then has been crab. (crab - word that rhymes with poopy)

Lady Di, Waiting for good TV again

Teedmn 7:43 PM  

@rondo, L Ron Hubbard, good one!

strayling 8:31 PM  

Got badly beat up in the SW. No clue about COLPORTEUR, thought it might be some obscure Salvation Army fast food franchise, gave up and looked for crosses.

I ended up with an embarrassing DNF. Embarrassing because the only one I didn't get was BOER, and I have a South African friend who educated me (at length) about the Voortrekkers.

MaryPat in Oregon 10:33 PM  

@Quasimojo, "Grow up and eat what's on your plate."

I couldn't agree more! Perfect answer to all those special snowflakes who can't/won't eat this and that.

Still remember Mom and Dad enforcing their rule that you stayed at the dining room table until you ate ALL your dinner.

Mary in Oregon

Thomas Miller 11:18 PM  

I had PAMPHLETEER for COLPORTEUR. thought I was so clever. Also TOPNOTCH for TOPSHELF.

rain forest 3:00 AM  

@Lady Di - these are the cold hard facts, Ma'am. See, I had the H from THROW SHADE, a blank, the R from OREIDA, and the Y from SYSTEM. So, H-RY. I knew the "w" would replace the H, and a letter preceding it, from the clue. Thus, I was looking at w-ry. The only letter that could work for the blank was either "i" or "a". The letters that could precede H in the original word would be S, C, T, or W. So the possible answer would be replacing SHARY, CHARY, THARY, or WHARY (or SHIRY, CHIRY, THIRY, or WHIRY). Only CHARY is a word I know, and it is a synonym of "wary". Took a few nanoseconds to work that out.

And that is definitely not fake news.

@leftcoastTAM Sometimes you seem to to insinuate that some solvers "cheat" without admitting it. That may be, but I believe it is important to state that in my case, I do not cheat (use dictionary, Google, atlas, or whatever). It's a matter of pride. When I started doing the NYT xword about 1999, I did consult my fat dictionary, but after 2 or 3 years, I became better at looking at the crosses, moving to another part of the puzzle, visualizing a certain letter in a certain square, and flat-out guessing, and I ditched the dictionary. I had lots of DNFs, but I think I learned. I still have DNFs, but fewer and farther between. My main weakness is occasionally believing a certain word is absolutely correct and refusing to let it go, and then finding it was wrong. I hate when that happens. Let me say that if others do "cheat", it doesn't bother me in the slightest. To each his/her own.

Bed time.

Scott McLean 2:58 PM  

I pretty much agree with Rex on this one. Some good stuff, dragged down by some not-so-good stuff. Plus, CHARY? Wha????

I somehow managed to finish this without the help of my friend Mr. Google, but it was something of a Pyrrhic victory, as I was left in a worse mood post-solve than I was ante-solve.

Lisa H. 12:28 PM  

As an RN, I tried to put in perinatal, which is more correct...

Flexirexitarian 3:47 AM  

As a flexirexitarian I can't digest all of Rex's commentary. We've had too many easy Saturdays. Guy de Maupassant has a story titled THE COLPORTEUR. I've seen the word in other places. On Saturday I want to explore the ocean of words, no hugging the shore! let a hundred flowers bloom. Anything Goes!

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