Crosswise on a ship / SAT 10-28-17 / 1950s politico Kefauver / Architectural features of Greco-Roman temples

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Constructor: Roland Huget

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: PAPETERIE (13D: Container for writing materials, such as fancy stationery) —
a box for holding stationery, especially an ornamental one.
• • •

Took one look at the grid and thought "ugh." Ultra-low word count puzzles are rarely any fun. They're often very hard, and the payoff slight or non-existent. This one ... I've seen uglier, but it still wasn't anywhere near enjoyable. At least it was easy—I finished in under 8 without really trying. How? Well, you know, you hack. Put the RE- in at the beginning of 2D: Prepare for a purchase return, perhaps; put the -IC at the end of 3D: Containing element #56; write in AFATE because it's a gimme (4D: ___ worse than death). That last one was crucial. I put in MOVIE for 5D: "M," e.g. (NASAL) (why is "M" capitalized there?), which could've hurt me, but once I had all those little answers / prefixes / suffixes in place, I saw 21A: New York's state motto. Hey, I live in New York state. I know that one. "EXCELSIOR!," I exclaimed, as I proceeded to destroy the NW corner.

But the thing about this kind of grid is that getting one corner is largely meaningless, in that you can't build on it. The tiny little escape hatches mean that every corner is essentially a new puzzle. Yet somehow all of them went down. AMO MOONIE SALTERS REAWAKENS COURSED CAT BALLOU went in without much effort. COARSEN dropped right down into the SE off just the "C" (37D: Make rough). I felt slightly bad about knowing crosswordesey crap like UGO (39A: Actor Tognazzi of "La Cage aux Folles")—feels like cheating—but you take what you can get, and I did, and the SE went down without a fight (in fact, I trounced it so bad that I'm only just now seeing the word ANTAE, dear lord, what? (46D: Architectural features of Greco-Roman temples). That make UGO look (u)good.

So all was left with was the SW corner, but I was not at all hopeful. I was gonna have to back into that corner off of just the very last letters in a couple answers. Unlikely. But then I had another dumb-luck moment: I had been reading about ESTES Kefauver just this morning, specifically about his role on the United States Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1953. So boom, ESTES goes in, boom INANE goes in, I infer the "S" at the end of MERCS, I infer the "N" before the "ESS" at the end of TRITENESS, that "N" gives me TITAN, and I fill that corner from the bottom up without much hassle. And thus, despite a daunting-looking grid, as well as a &^$%ing *euchre* clue (20A: Jack of the trump suit, in euchre) that I still don't understand and don't care enough about to look up, I tore this thing apart. Feels good. The success, that is. The puzzle itself didn't feel good at all.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. ridiculously bad to have PAPERY and PAPETERIE in the same puzzle

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Diana 12:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Barany 12:29 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for your review of @Roland Hugger's highly segmented low word-count puzzle. The chemist in me started out very sympathetic to the likes of BARIC and LYE, and I managed to worked my way mistake-free through everything in the puzzle but the northeast corner. Even with CAT BALLOU being a gimme -- no crossings required -- I got hopelessly bogged down trying to make either PAPER TRAY or ARIAL font type work. In the southeast, I enjoyed the wordplay in the clue for ESPYS (48-Down), which could also fit TONYS or EMMYS, and held my breath on TENT DRESS.

Funny that @Rex should mention ESTES Kefauer, since his name also popped up (rather tangentially) in a remarkable New Yorker article that I was reading just before tackling the puzzle. Actually, his name should be almost as well-known to regular crossword solvers as ADLAI Stevenson (or AES), since the Senator from Tennessee and the Governor of Illinois were running mates on the 1956 Democratic ticket.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

This puzzle sucked. Crosswords are supposed know, cross words. This was nothing more than 4 mini puzzles. Booooooooo!!!!!!

Anonymous 1:13 AM  

Struggled on this a bit. Got the NE in a flash (yay, CATBALLOU), then worked down into the SE and was able to get part of the SW. The stared at it, and stared some more.

Finally got going again when I realized EXCELSIOR has a C in it, so the word would fit after all.

Rex complained about PAPERY and PAPETERIE. But what about COURSED and COARSEN? Sharing a starting letter even.

Finished 30% over my average Saturday time.

puzzlehoarder 1:17 AM  

I really hate solving on my phone. The puzzle filled in by the usual Saturday time. I'd 'finished' in the SW and received the "almost there" and narrowed the problem down to the NE.

AGARE looked all wrong but BOWER was no better. The G was well supported by ABROGATOR and the R by PAPERIE. I know now that I actually had PAPERERIE which makes no sense.

I suspect a good portion of my spelling problem comes from a reading problem. I don't see letters or I make up ones that aren't there. Arranging letters vertically exacerbates it. I could have looked at the NE until dawn and not seen that extra E.

I was aware of PAPERY also being in the puzzle but I had to check with xwordinfo and prove to myself that ABROGATOR was correct and that there is no AGARE before I remembered that AGATE is also a size of type. At least PAPERERIE is a debut.

puzzlehoarder 1:21 AM  

I meant to put in PAPETERIE in that last sentence.

chefwen 1:48 AM  

@Diana - Looked more like a whirligig than a swastika to me.

I don’t time myself, but I do not recall the last time I filled a Saturday puzzle as quickly as I did this. I slowed down a little in the SE, but not for long.

Had to change shovels to SALTERS at 31 across and aerial to AGATE at 22A. That was about it, everything just fell into place. Just love a Saturday that I don’t have to agonize over, it doesn’t happen often.

Anonymous 1:49 AM  

BOWER is a term familiar to those who play the card game, Euchre. It’s a game known almost exclusively to Midwesterners (especially Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana).

okanaganer 2:06 AM  

Wrong answer parade: in the northeast, 12 down just had to be REKINDLES, which screwed everything up until a MOONIE saved the day.

In the southeast, 36D SUBTEXT with 43D WOUND (eww, the blood!) and 44D FIELD and 48D TONYS... when you start off with 4 wrong downs and no gimmes on the acrosses, you are in a deep smelly hole. Which to keep? Which to dump?

Theodore Stamos 2:22 AM  

The northeast put up the biggest fight for me. AGATE, BOWER, PAPETERIE. I agree with Rex: I'm not a big fan of puzzles like this where you are essentially doing four mini-puzzles.

Deep Mac 2:33 AM  

Diana, you are not alone. When I saw the grid, my first thought was, "Wait...what?? Why is today's New York Times crossword puzzle a swastika?! Gross." Not a shape I want to see in the paper, especially these days.

SailorSteveHolt 2:54 AM  

I hated this. Northwest? Easy peasy lemon sqeezy. I could figure out some of the prefixes and suffixes, so that helped. Aside from TRAPP (duh) and ESPYS (I knew he’d do something sneaky), I was at a loss for all the proper nouns; pre-90s references are almost guaranteed to be left blank. ESTES? CAT BALLOU? ...UGO? More like who-go. MERCS? Like, Mercury? It folded five-ish years ago. Not what I’d call “old.”

I know it’s a sportsball division, but, beyond that, no idea what the A.F.C. is. “Un examen” would be taken by an estudiante or estudo in Spanish and, in French, etudiant or ecolier (I love the cookies). But ELEVE? Is that a common French word? Why is subleased RE–doing-something? TAPELINES is a real term? Not blocking? How does a present participle (“sitting back”) yield a past participle (IMPRESSED)? And I’m sorry but AGATE is a crystal. (I took graphic design and typography courses in college and it was never mentioned once.) I also didn’t realize that the kind of clue phrasing for APPLE TART could refer to a specific fruit.

This is so whiny, and, from the absence of similar reactions, probably just my personal failure/ineptitude. But I’m also not usually annoyed enough to go on a detailed rant in a comments section. Well, other than on YouTube. And the NYT. Definitely not other games, though. Although I only play two.

Thomaso808 3:24 AM  

When I saw the grid, I said “impossible”. Five stacks in each corner. just like Rex, I had to use every solving trick there is, inferring a RE___ for 2D, a _____NESS FOR 29D, and writing in ____DRESS based on the 47D, 48D side-by-side plurals. That’s called grinding it out and it’s fun.

The NE was tough. With MOONIE as a gimme, and correct guesses on ABEAM and TRAPP, but wrong guess of radii instead of CARPI, I wrote in rATpATrol for 10D. And I think we just had CATBALLOU last week, right?

Like @Theodore Stamos, PAPETERIE was a WOE, along with weird obscure (for me) meanings of AGATE and BOWER.

The grid was definitely different, and that’s good - just not too often, OK?

Mike in Mountain View 4:00 AM  

Fastest Saturday ever. Didn't expect it, given the four-puzzle nature of the grid.

Does anybody say "Just A MO"? That slowed me down and made me question MOONIE, which had to be right.

fgillis 6:07 AM  

Before getting CAT BALLOU in the NE I had...


... and put in "IM A GENIUS" for 14D. (Sitting back and thinking "Wow")

Took me a long time to accept I wasn't.

Mohair Sam 6:58 AM  

Second day in a row where I second Rex's opinion, same solving experience.
Easiest Saturday in ages for us in spite of the unknown PAPETERIE - so many gimmes for the day. Maybe the tough grid layout encouraged Will to ease up on the cluing - maybe?

Having been born and raised in New York I learned EXCELSIOR in about the second grade. Seven year old mind thought it was the funniest word ever. Still do. I'm with @Mike in Mountainview, never heard anyone say "wait AMO". Nice misdirect on ESPYS (Tonys). Lee Marvin terrific in "CAT BALLOU" - love the scene where he, as a hired gunslinger, literally shoots at and misses the broad side of a barn.

Ben 7:37 AM  

Agree with you all, except that this is my slowest Saturday in about a year. Agate crossing Papeterie killed me and Brassware and Tent Dress really threw me off. Had a similar aha moment with ESPYs, which I loved.

Two Ponies 7:41 AM  

Daunting whirligig design but not much cleverness in the clues.

"Just a mo"? Our language continues to deteriorate.

In England Merc is a nickname for Mercedes and pronounced the same.

I'm surprised that Peter Lorre had such a great career after getting his early start in movies cast as a child murderer. Seems like a risky chance to take.

Rex Parker 7:47 AM  

I had MORMON at first.

With apologies to MORMONs, and possibly MOONIEs,


Anonymous 8:04 AM  

Moonie is a slur.

Ted 8:08 AM  

How can you throw an Easy-Medium on a grid (even a Saturday) with:

and... CWT

I mean for realsies. I know, they're crosses, but they weren't doing me any favors.

Ted 8:10 AM  


Those are not things that the average person tends to know.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

The clue for "Mercs" is misleading. " Some old Fords" as a clue should indicate a model of car, not a make. Mercury is make of car, as is Ford. Mercs are not old Fords. "Some old cars made by Ford" would have been an acceptable clue.

QuasiMojo 8:32 AM  

Funny that Rex gets all bent out of shape over words like GYP and AFRO but lets MOONIE slide without a moue.

REBOX, REVOICE, REAWAKENS, RELET etc, even RELEVANCE. Someone already mentioned the paper issue and coarse/course.

Easy Saturday solve with some degree of mental traction but it felt to me like it needed another run through the wringer before being published. Too many repetitions.

And that dig at crossword solvers... SPARE TIME? Hey, this is hard work, man!

evil doug 8:40 AM  

I had MOeNIE since I misspelled ABROGATeR and didn't catch it. I think they worship bathroom faucets....

Quinn the Eskimo 8:46 AM  

Yo, my man Sami the Lapp says you can't use Moonie.

Charles Flaster 8:52 AM  

Mechanically I had same experience as all the commenters above. But I liked the puzzle, grid, and the four in one mini puzzles.
Writeovers were:
MOONIE for MOrmon
TITAN for TexAN.

I was able to get a toehold in all four corners( hello Dean Smith) so the solve was very smooth.
Saw CAT BALLOU in theater in 1965-- Lee Marvin was outrageously funny but Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye stole the show.
Thanks RH

Rex Parker 8:57 AM  

"In more recent times it has also been used to refer to fans of the anime character Sailor Moon."

Maruchka 9:05 AM  

I like my APPLEs TART. Also like melanges. Gimme just A MO -:

*Low PPP count (who cares who was in a 2002 blockbuster movie?)

*Words of more interest than 'just fits' (ABROGATOR, RELEVANCE, ABRASIVES? Good stuff.)

COURSED reminds that Santa is coming soon: "More rapid than eagles his COURSErs they came.."

So I respectfully diverge. Thanks for the treat, M. Huget.

Mohair Sam 9:32 AM  

And oh yeah - @Rex - Nothing against Judy Garland, but it's a mistake linking any version of "You Go To My Head" that is not Billie Holiday's.

kitshef 9:32 AM  

Excellent. Just an AMO here and an UGO there from outstanding (and why on earth not go AgO/gOONIE and get rid of one of those?). Well, the REpetition (-BOX, -VOICE, -LET -AWAKENS, -LEVANCE, -EDS) wasn’t so hot, either.

Think I’ll stop overthinking it, and just stick with excellent.

Hand up for not even noticing ANTAE.

Stanley Hudson 9:38 AM  

Pretty easy. And a swastika? No . . . My god.

JHC 9:38 AM  

@SailorSteveHolt - I am a former professional stage manager, and no, TAPELINES is not a real term. You tape out the the outline of a set in the rehearsal room using long lines of tape, but it's not markings "on a theater stage." No self-respecting set designer will let you muck up their floor with TAPELINES. You mark the position of moving pieces and places for actors to stand with little ticks of tape, called spike marks or spikes.

mathgent 9:44 AM  

The thing I liked best about it was that it only had four Terrible Threes. That may be the minimum possible for a symmetric grid.

I liked the clue for ESPYS. Even though I follow sports closely, I haven't watched that show.


pabloinnh 9:49 AM  

I have lived in the snowy parts of the country for a very long time now and never used, seen, or even heard of a "salter". Nice to learn something on a Saturday.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

I saw all the white space and thought: how wonderful; there's going to be a real challenge today. Then I started to work on it and thought: how ridiculously hard; I'm never going to complete this. But with great effort and much "suffering" I did. A terrific themeless that forced me to use all my little gray cells.

CAT BALLOU would have given me an important toehold, but though I could see Lee Marvin's face in my mind's eye, I was having a Senior Moment and couldn't come up with the title. I'm a NY, NYer, yet had no idea what the state motto is (21A). It was one of my last answers in. My gimme was ESTES Kefauver which I'm sure no one younger than I will know. I started in the SW; then did the NE (was it going to be MARIA or TRAPP?). Had TONYS before ESPYS at 48D -- nice mislead, Roland. I can see how someone like @Mohair, with a few more toeholds than I had, might find this easy. But I found it harder than hard.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

My first post after reading for about 6 months. I was a daily solver for *years* starting in college when I got the puzzle delivered inside a bundle of smashed wood pulp. I restarted a year ago to compete vs. my sister.

Anyway, this was my slowest Saturday in 3 years of puzzles (I’ve been working backwards too). All the proper nouns except TRAPP fell into complete gaps in my knowledge.

Also I heard “Just A MO” all the time when I lived in England so that went right in. Even with gimmes like BARIC and LYE, this was rough!

Marco Polo 10:07 AM  

Thank you. I took one look and my my stomach turned.

DBlock 10:12 AM  

I was fine except SE where I fell into TONYS trap and refused to see ESPYS for way too long
And then rather than Sub anything also decided it must be Side...
A total mess until I erased the whole thing and began again using Stent and wiser as the anchors then it all fell into place but wasted lots of time
Cat Ballou one of my all time faves

Teedmn 10:14 AM  

Seems like most of the commenters here found this easy. I had a 36 minute old-timey solving experience. The NE fell in 9 minutes and I slipped down to the SE. SUBPLOT and TENTDRESS with "tonys" lightly penned in wasn't giving me anything. COARSEN went in but 50A was looking like it should be something like espresso or PeRegrino (yuck, with dessert?)( I was mistaking it for Pellegrino, oops). I was even beginning to question SUBPLOT and crossed it out. Perhaps "not the main story" was an attic or subbasement, some word that wasn't coming to me, anyway.

LYE led to STARTLE and a guess of TasTElESS made everything fall into place in the SW, with the help of RELET. TITAN, even I should have known that, after I realized the AFC was pro football and not some obscure-to-me college team. I did have to write RELEVeNCE/RELEVANCE in the margin - like @puzzlehoarder, I find spelling vertically can be a challenge.

2D, in my head, was going to be "box up" but I couldn't get any traction that way. Considering 3D might be BoRIC because I don't know my periodic table numbers and the A FATE gimme gave me ABRASIVES and the NW cleared right up. I wrote down my time that 3/4 of the puzzle had taken me ERE NOW,33 minutes, because I wanted to know how long I was going to have to stare at the SE again. Huh, I suddenly saw BRASSWARE (having put SUBPLOT back in) and the SE finished in 3 more minutes. Wow, IMPRESSED with how big a difference one answer can make. That misdirection of ESPYS was diabolical, I bow to Mr. Huget or Will on that one. LOSE steam held me up a bit also. So this was a great Saturday for me, not too easy in the least.

Z 10:19 AM  

I figured everything would have been said already (too easy, mini-puzzles, swastika, too esey) so not too much to add, but I do have one question...You drink? You spent time at a college or university in Michigan? YOU DON'T KNOW EUCHRE?!? Flabbergasted. Gobsmacked. Bewildered. I generally forgive any hole in one's knowledge (there's a lot to know out there) but this is beyond the pale.*

*Just in case you the reader are literal-minded - no, I'm not any of those things.

The Clerk 10:19 AM  

The first posts are always about how easy it is because they finished the soonest :)

geoff 10:23 AM  

Is it a coincidence that we have "Actor Tognazzi" and a swastika?

Airymom 10:25 AM  

I thought it was just me, thinking that I’m overly sensitive to that symbol, but it does look like a swastika.

Nancy 10:29 AM  

@The Clerk (10:19) -- To me, the first posts are always about how little sleep you need.

Wm. C. 10:32 AM  

Terrible puzzle. OK, Saturday's are supposed to be hard, but BOWER, AGATE, ANTAE, UGO, PAPETERIE, TAPELINES???

Also, I very much agree with Anon 12:41: this was four mini-puzzles, not enough connected-ness to enjoy!!!

Ellen S 10:33 AM  

I did finished three-quarters of this, thinking, gee, David Steinberg sure provides more clever clues and answers, this is four boring mini-puzzles, RELET, REAWAKEN, REmind me why I’m doing this?

After three of the puzzles I decided the blogs would be a better way to spend my SPARE TIME.

@SailorSteveHolt - I have also taken graphic design and typography classes, late in the last century, admittedly. We actually used points to describe size, but AGATE was mentioned. It’s littler than Pica or Elite.

@Nancy, yep — I’m ancient enough to remember Estes Kefauver without having studied him in ancient history. Wasn’t it Kefauver’s Senate investigative committee on organized crime that Bobby Kennedy was the chief counsel for? (What a mess of a sentence that was, but I’m too lazy to fix it.) JFK was also on the committee. I used to watch the hearings after school, those Kennedy boys were so good looking.

@Evil, thank you. Your faucet-worshipers made my day

DrBB 10:38 AM  

Yeah, I hate these "four-mini-puzzles, yippee!" grids. One thing they generally have in common is that, even though the "escape hatch" is usually something useless like an E or an S, if the constructor is playing fair at all each grid will turn out to be easier than it might look if you know your crossword-ese. As Rex says, inserting all the RE's and the like (don't think this one had any EST's, but that's the kind of thing) is a first step--I don't think of that as cheating at all, just the way the game is played. And, absolutely, relying on your knowledge of crosswordese for your guesses. Seemed to be at least one in every corner here. ESTES Kefauver is common as dirt (too many handy word-ending letters for constructors to resist). AGATE for "type of type" another. ARIL(S) almost as TRITE as "Jai--" ALAI. ELEVE, pretty obvious. Made this one an easy for me too--11 minutes flat in my case.

Birchbark 10:38 AM  

I'm in the minority with @Ben and @Anonymous 9:57 in that this was the most challenging Saturday I can remember (> 1 hour, where under 25 minutes is par for me on a Saturday). Waltzed easily through the Northwest and Southwest. Stumbled a little in a normal Saturday slow-down in the Northeast but no big deal. Then I went into a marathon death-spiral in the Southeast.

The correct answers in that quadrant were camouflaged by so many plausible but wrong ones that I couldn't get a confident toe-hold until everything fell into place via SUBPLOT at the very end.

Here's what I mean:
BRASSWARE -- tinplated (or _ _ _ peWter)
PORT WINES -- digestifS, espressoS
OVEN READY -- prEcooked
SUBPLOT -- Sidebar, Spinoff
GROOVE -- listen
SWARD -- FielD

To be honest, hearing the "Congratulations" music when I finally dropped the T in LOSE A STEP was an extraordinary relief. And on an appropriate answer given how many of you sailed on this one.

Carola 11:00 AM  

After I finished, I really did sit back, IMPRESSED with those four 9 x 5/6/7-square chunks. Nice! At the outset, I blanched at the limited access between quadrants, but I found I knew just enough, or could guess right enough, that each filled in without much trouble. Even my wrong guesses helped in getting crosses: STress [gets the blood flowing], even though it didn't fit, and SWAth. Hardest for me was the SW, where ESTES at least gave me a base and a very tentative ELEVE and RELET got me the rest.

I thought the Vikings might have been "maraudERS" but didn't write it in. My ancestry is Norse and Dane, and I have the typically Scandanavian blond hair but with this sort of weird red forelock. Viking raid in Ireland?

@George Barany, I'd also just finished reading that New Yorker article before turning to the puzzle and enjoyed the coincidence. I remember Kefauver from 1950s TV.

@Anonymous 1:49, I've never played euchre but I absorbed BOWER from the Wisconsin air.

Tita A 11:01 AM  

Missed chance for a cross-ref clue (we all love those, right?). EXCELSIOR is also a type of type. I did not know this. Of course. It was doing a URL hop while post-googling why AGATE is not only a stone and a marble, but a type of type. I didn't make that mistake, but I did have that feeling when I finally finished this puzzle without cheating, till I cMe here to see it rated ESy-Med.

@ED...spittake on MOeNIES. Woulda made a great xref.

mOrmon befor MOONIE and the popular REkindleS made NE puzzle hard to solve, but finally got past it.
For some odd reason, I really liked the aha moment around ARILS. A word I'm sure I remember only because I was just getting started with Maleska puzzles while taking biology on high school.
It was a staple back then.

But that corner was a cakewalk compared to the SE puzzle. oboeS and tonYS, and wanting to order espressos with my dessert made it a huge struggle.
But with my breakfast coffee, it finally broke. I had been racking my brain, looking for the word SWAth that I knew I had in there somewhere. I finally dug it out. Yeah, it was wrong, but that is what broke open the corner. Oh...and finally giving up the perfect Sidebar for SUBPLOT.

And to the no-easy-paths-into-all-grid-sections whiners...
That's the point of a Saturday!!! There are many devices to making a puzzle hard, and that is one of them!!!!

Merci M. Huget!

Cliff Robinson 11:11 AM  

Yeah - I also typically solve on my phone and often end up with typos from fat-fingering the keyboard.
I give myself credit for a solve if those are my only errors.

emily 11:17 AM  

I live on the west coast, so everyone posts earlier than me, unless I stay up late. And I don’t post often. But I wouldn’t say this was easy...Sward, antae, (autocorrect is messing me up) abrogator, CWT? WTF!

Cliff Robinson 11:18 AM  

I enjoyed the details of Rex's solving approach on this puzzle! I'd watch a YouTube channel with him narrating his thought process while displaying the grid as he fills it in.

Wm. C. 11:20 AM  

@Ms. Tita --

Yes, OK, there are many ways to make a puzzle hard, and hard is fine on Saturday, as long as there's not an excess of hard stuff. (Which IMO today there was.)

But my real point is that puzzles are also supposed to be fun, especially the more-challenging ones. And to me, four mini-puzzles on a Saturday is NOT fun.

Love, Your Whinership, Wm.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Agree with @Ted and wonder how the world of solvers as a whole would judge the difficulty level, precisely because of those words. Of course we'll never know. Unless the NYT gets creative and has installs a little "Rate the Difficulty" level button. How easy would that be?

I appreciate puzzles that I don't really get when I have head slapping moments (mos?) of "how could I not see that!" or "cool word ... I did not know that!" That didn't happen here.

Lewis 11:52 AM  

@mathgent -- Frank Longo puzzle (12/15/2001) made a puzzle with no word smaller than six letters.
@rex -- Nice to see you commenting here!

Some see swastikas; I'm waiting for those here who will see a snowflake.

Me, I see two ASSes and a MOONIE.
I liked STENT crossing TENT, and loved the clue for the former.

This was tough for me because there were nine answers out of my wheelhouse. My solve went something like @nancy's. Roland said the cluing was adjusted so that footholds could be had in all four quadrants, and that was considerate.

Yes, a puzzle like this will not be very Scrabbly and thus short on zing. But there is something to be IMPRESSED about, seeing all these letters melding together in such huge expanses of white, with only an ANTAE here and an ARILS there. And for me, it's a good feeling, solving something like this. I'm grateful to have puzzles like this in the mix.

Tita A 11:59 AM  

Was doing a BEQ puzzle yesterday, and a clue was "Gambia's only neighbor".

And just now, looking in a French bistro cookbook for a recipe for dinner tomorrow, saw a reference to the Café L'EXCELSIOR.
@Nancy - it's in Nancy, France...!

@Your whinership Wm C - chacun à son goût. I whine about anagram and ladder puzzles. Both are legit. Both will make some people whine.

Love, Your Whinership Tita.

fiddleneck 12:00 PM  

If revoice is a word, it shouldn't be. And if it is, it doesn't seem like an echo.

old timer 12:04 PM  

OFL knows in his heart of hearts this was a great puzzle, but nits must be picked or he would have nothing to write about. That said, why no complaint about ABROGATOR? That must be totally made up. Now "Roman censor" (which sadly does not fit) would have been accurate. But ABROGATOR? Sheesh!

I too was misled and put in "Tonys" before ESPYS. But those faucets, etc. could only be BRASSWARE. And I was thinking APPLE TART was way too specific. Then I remembered once going to a famous patisserie on the Rue de Buci in Paris, where they actually had such a tart, with other fruits arranged in concentric circles so not so bad a clue.

MERCS is perfectly fair. "Ford" in this case refers not to the Ford make but the Ford Motor Company, which made MERCuries and Lincolns too.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

If you live in a state where snow is frequent or roads become iced up, you will recognize trucks which spread salt as “salters”.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Excellent puzzle. Culture of complaint.

Alysia 1:18 PM  

@fiddleneck - I had the same thought until I recalled an alternate definition of "echo," as in echoing a sentiment.

Erik 1:18 PM  

How can NYT go from yesterday’s fresh and current puzzle to this dated stinker? The most current clue in this one related to MOONIES, which makes it at least 30+ years from being “Au courant”

Fred Romagnolo 1:41 PM  

I breezed the NE & SE; had to read the rest of the paper and come back for the rest (West?). Rex didn't mind Moonies because the Reverend Moon was a BAD person (read politically conservative). Same with the swastika see-ers; some people are looking to be offended. Once again the use of INANE to mean just about anything the puzzler wants it to mean. Wasn't TITAN in yesterday's puzzle? San Franciscans know nothing about SALTERS. EXCELSIOR is a 19th c. poem made magnificently ridiculous by James Thurber's drawings.

Joe Dipinto 1:51 PM  

I thought this was absurdly easy for a Saturday, though it did seem like four separate puzzles and solving it wasn't what I'd call a jolly good time.

More importantly, why is knowing who Ugo Tognazzi is "like cheating"? (*narrows eyes and glares at Rex*)

Joe Dipinto 2:01 PM  

Also, the arrangement of black squares does not resemble a swastika.

CDilly52 2:07 PM  

Right you are! My Ohio family played Euchre endlessly on the fromt porch in the summer. Often neighbors would join in and we would have multiple tables with the Dads betting lawn mowing or snow shoveling. I have yet to find players here in Oklahoma.

Frayed Knot 2:16 PM  

and ABROGATOR plus CARPI sounded only vaguely familiar or at least like they might be real words.

In other words: Lots of trouble

Considered and rejected TRAPP because I assumed the name was VON TRAPP. Wanted Maria, Leisl, or something else there.

ESPYS, however, was clever clue, not getting that one is on me.

On what planet is "M" a clue for NASAL?

CDilly52 2:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CDilly52 2:27 PM  

HAHAHA! Having grown up with the game a mandatory experience in my family from Ohio, I thought Euchre was simply part of everyone’s frame of reference until I moved to Oklahoma where they play dominos and something called Pitch!

Beauchamp 2:28 PM  


Joe Dipinto 2:38 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo -- we had the "Thurber Carnival" compilation when I was a kid, which included "Excelsior" -- in fact I still have it now, frayed binding and all. Truly hilarious stuff. The drawings are the best.

(My favorite story might be "The Breaking Up of The Winships", in which a married couple gets into an argument about which of Greta Garbo and Donald Duck is the better actor. But there are so many good ones.)

CDilly52 2:40 PM  

I misspelled PAPETiere and my hubris would not let me correct it, so the NE didn’t go until the very last when I decided that LAKES had to be right. Never heard of SALTERS unless you mean the teenagers forced to venture out into the bitter Ohio winter to remove snow and ice from the front steps by any means possible.

Unlike others I thought the COURSED/COARSEN cross was clever. Got that one immediately and it enabled me to correct the NE and breeze through SE.

But the SW almost slew me, even though I immediately knew ESTES Kefauver. Overall some very nice words, great clue for ESPYS (I had Tony’s), and a very clever if frustrating Saturday.

Joe Dipinto 2:47 PM  

@Frayed Knot


(of a speech sound) pronounced by the voice resonating in the nose, e.g., m, n, ng.

1. a nasal speech sound.

Trombone Tom 3:02 PM  

This is one of those puzzles where you nearly give up at first look, but upon further examination you begin to find ways in. @Rex's comments today were pertinent.

If your friend had a bull-nosed '50 MERC you would never say he drove a Ford, regardless of the manufacturer.

I like lychee nuts, but would not have guessed they are ARILS. That slowed me down a lot in the NW. Also tried poSiTS before ASSERTS. As a retired attorney I was thinking foundAtion before RELEVANCE, but too many letters.

We septuagenarians have an advantage when it comes to ESTES Kefauver. But not PAPETERIE; that was truly a WOE.

The swastika has been a motif of American Indians and others for centuries. I refuse to have a knee-jerk reaction to it despite its appropriation by those awful Nazis. The puzzle looked fine to me.

Joe Bleaux 3:09 PM  

Stopped cold in the SE. To an old newsman, working a puzzle in a newspaper, the answer to 36(D) is SIDEBAR, period. That's my story, and I stuck with it. @Rex: No, I don't know -- and don't call me a hack.

kitshef 3:15 PM  

@Joe Dipinto, @Fred Romagnolo

Thanks for the Thurber posts. Seems to me that reading Thurber used to be almost synonymous with being alive. It feels like his star has faded, and I don't know why.

TCProf 4:58 PM  

Those of you who saw a swastika in the grid should avoid taking Rorschach tests.

A mercury is not a Ford. It is a Mercury, albeit made by the Ford Motor Company. By the constructor's logic, a Dodge Charger is a Chrysler and a Volvo a Geely.

Joe Dipinto 5:22 PM  

@Joe Bleaux 3:09 -- It didn't occur to me as I already had several crosses in place, but SIDEBAR would've been a dynamite answer for 36d.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

Even if it was not intentional, this puzzle definitely had a nazi-era
subtext to it. Even though I did not see the hint of the swastika in
the puzzle design (which, yes, does exist); nor did I make the obvious
Nazi connection to Ugoś last name; I did think about Nazism early on in
this puzzle for the down clue about the official who could annul laws
and I had a B from the cross. Could the answer be some kind of Ubercommander,
I asked myself? Also, there is always the scent of nazism - even in the
most innocent sense - when The Sound of Music is referred. I admit my
thought about Uber... is a stretch, but as I look at the puzzle as a whole,
I am not surprised I made this connection.


Black Sun 7:26 PM  

You see what you want to see.

Shelby Glidden 7:33 PM  

lol...daily project 😬

Shelby Glidden 7:41 PM  

insightful... seemingly, they sit in the front row itching to raise their hands... i've considered chewing gum
(just to see if I can do it and think outside the box at the same time)...but, mainly, to see what my punishment would be from Rex...would he make me stand and recite: "in Hereford, Hartford, and Hampshire..." fast five times... 😬

Shelby Glidden 7:54 PM  

it was tri-ten-ese (i had misspelled estee) that did me in...I did try tennis about 40 years ago but never found it stale, only occasionally frustrating...🤔
Rex's grandmother could have straightened me out on my syllabic breakdown...😬

Shelby Glidden 8:19 PM  

what the heck is going on...? everyone was nice 😳 swastika is Sanskrit (Indian spiritual language) for "well-being". The Navaho used the symbol (clockwise) on jewelry but stopped when the Nazis began use of it (counterclockwise.) My mother (who was teaching 3rd grade in Colorado in the late 1930's) was berated for a piece of Navaho jewelry with the symbol (clockwise) and asked if she was a Nazi? Ignorance is not always bliss m. 😬 Is that a black cross i see, Black Sun? 😉

Evan Jordan 8:35 PM  

Nope. Not just you. Easy until The NE became a cheese milkshake spiked with enough Imodium to stop a freight train.

ChE Dave 9:05 PM  

Easy puzzle but not much fun. With the exception of papeterie and eleve, all the arcana was in my knowledge base for whatever reason. But all the crosses were gimmes. Pretty dull for a Saturday puzzle.

Anonymous 10:41 PM  

Enough, Shelby Glidden. Enough, enough, enough. Pleeeeease!

Unknown 11:20 PM  

Agree. Black squares look nothing like a Swastika. Those who think so are trying to create something out of nothing. Do they have any idea what a real Swastika looks like?

Hartley70 11:23 PM  

I was delighted to see these mini-stacks, since a stack is right up there with a rebus for me. I would just like to whine that it's been a very, very long time since a MAS puzzle appeared in the NYT, Will.

The first three stacks were easy and then I hit the SE. My first entry was ESPYS, but in the process I wasted time trying to make "Tonys and Obies" work. "Sidebar" was my choice, not SUBPLOT. I wanted "Aperitif", not PORTWINE because this isn't the 19th Century and I don't wear mutton chops.

Finally, I was looking for "Ready to Eat", not OVENREADY. If something is prepared food, I might zap it in the microwave to heat it, but then I expect to be able to stick a fork in it and eat. If I have to put it in the oven and cook it, I feel like I made it myself.

Julia 12:08 AM  

Did anybody notice "papery" and "moonie" together? hee hee.

Wasn't fond of the puzzle overall, but that was fun...

RL 6:59 AM  

NE corner just wouldn’t fall. A SALTER? That’s not a real device or I’d be able to buy it on Amazon (Just tried). Cross it with CATBALLOU. PAPETERIE. ABROGATOR. I never had a chance. First DNF in a while.

geoff 2:04 PM  

Lincoln-Mercury was a division of Ford.

Hungry Mother 2:41 PM  

Mea culpa, I had to look up element #56. Even so, the rest went very slowly. Definitely the hardest Saturday in a long while.

Agate Carpi Mercs 5:40 PM  

I was surprised that AGAtE, AGAvE, and AGApE are all plausible words, and as far as I was concerned, all plausible types! Guessed right due to sound but also thought PAPETERIE and PAPERY was a bit suspect in an otherwise wonderful puzzle.
Did it while visiting Land O' LAKES!

Ironically, SPARETIME was the hardest answer for me... I do crosswords in my "real" time...and everything ELSE in my SPARE time!!!
Plus neither leisuRE nor PRISON would fit!

@Julia 12:08
PAPERY MOONIE!!! that is the start of a great puzzle...
If you see this somehow, contact me as I'm having trouble finding your email at my full name at gmail.

Sam Field 8:39 PM  

The N wasn't a giveaway for TITAN, though, it could have been TexAN!

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spacecraft 10:48 AM  

A visually daunting grid: a 60-worder. How is that even possible? Use lots and lots of one-pointers. The "triumph factor" today belongs to the constructor for pulling it off without anything worse than PAPETERIE, ANTAE, and AMO. (Why wasn't that last clued as a Latin 101 word?) Solving it should have been harder.

Began with gimme CATBALLOU, co-starring DOD Jane Fonda. Laid waste the NE; that's when I noticed the severe compartmentalization of the grid. Okay, so four "runtpuz's." Didn't LOSEASTEP in the easy SE, then ventured into the NW to see if, for once, I wouldn't have to save it for last. It was a little harder (REVOICE?) but not much. The SW was a bit stickier; I was trying DISCOVERY for the necessity of admitting evidence. Then came ELEVE--but the V was in the wrong place. Soon unraveled, this AREA fell too, so I agree with the easy-medium rating.

The whole thing just felt...PAPERY. Par--upgraded to birdie for just finding four 9x5 blocks.

Burma Shave 12:13 PM  


it's INANE, and I'd be STARTLEd, yet IMPRESSED -
the RELEVANCE APPLIES if you don't LOSEASTEP somehow
due to the BRASSWARE under your TENTDRESS.


Diana, LIW 12:18 PM  

Had the same, slow, difficult solve most of you had. And the same misdirects to correct. But, wait AMO, just to be special, I had a PAPErERIE dnf. Bring back the etui!

Wanted "get off my lawn" for the NY motto, but it wouldn't fit, and we already had one rebus this week.

Now copy, save, de-robot, publish.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting to see what happens

rondo 12:38 PM  

I'm IMPRESSED, though it's 4 puzzles with little connectivity. NE a piece of cake in large part due to CATBALLOU (yes, yeah baby Jane Fonda) and the MN LAKES. The SW a piece of APPLETART, a bit harder. After *Sidebar* became SUBPLOT the SE took care of itself, leaving the NW. AFATE and SEAFARERS were awaiting the rest. Not being from NY I didn't know EXCELSIOR until a few educated guesses for crosses made it good. Et Voila, +/- 35 minutes.

ELEVE or slight variations seems to show up as a student in a number of languages, including Swedish.

My grandpa drove nothing but MERCS.

I had a second cousin that became a MOONIE and apparently became a big wheel in the following of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The rest of his avowedly Lutheran family pretty much disowned him. I am not micro-aggressed at the term MOONIE.

Wouldn't say I found this puz easy at all. And I did briefly fall into the tonYS TRAPP. Nice puz when you find the GROOVE.

rondo 12:48 PM  

One on MN's nicknames is "Land of 10,000 LAKES". In actuality there are closer to 12,000 LAKES of 10 acres or more. Our license plates do proclaim "10,000 LAKES".

Copy, wait, hope

rainforest 1:38 PM  

On principle, I will not copy, nor will I subscribe to become a "real timer". So there.

Feeling chagrined today because I DNF in the SE. I just couldn't come up with SUBPLOT (stuck with Sidebar) or REEDS (just couldn't see it). I had WISER even though I didn't think it fit the clue particularly well, and considered WINES, but REEDS wouldn't come (my bad). I was never going to get UGO.

Anyway, the rest of it was pretty good, in my opinion, and I motored through it with alacrity, har. So even with the non-finish, I liked it.

Here goes.

rainforest 1:40 PM  

No dice, even though my comment was brilliant. Not copying. Not becoming a real-timer.

Diana, LIW 1:55 PM  

@Rainy - thee must be patient and thy brilliance shall appear. OTOH - tis easy to copy. Anywhere in your post hit "control a" and the post will be highlighted, then "control c" and there will be a copy in your computer's memory or something where there be gerbils. If your comment doesn't appear in a minute or two, open a new comment form and hit "control p" and the copy will appear. (the commands are all, copy, paste)

Speaking of brilliance, tomorrow night is a super moon - full moon closest to the earth in its orbit.

Just had to say I just completed a puzzle in our local paper that crossed grayish-brown (DUN) with keep a low profile - 2 words (LIE DOGGO). Made today's puzzle seem eminently fair.

Lady Di

leftcoastTAM 4:23 PM  

No PPP (Patiencr and Persistence Pays) or DNF problems today, happy to say. It just took a lot more SPARETIME than usual, and it usually takes a sizable chunk on Friday and Saturday. (I'm in the process of swearing off Sunday).

Got the NW quadrant early without using much time, but the puzzle got tougher moving clockwise through the other three quads.

Some noteworthies:

*Is there really such an official called an ABROGATOR who has such powers?

*There are two BOWERs in euchre, the right and left. The right one is in the trump suit.

*ESPYS clue, best play awards, is cleverly misdirective.

*WISER people are not necessarily better informed if, say, your talking about latest Trump antics or sex scandals. And "better informed" people about such things are certainly not necessarily WISER.

Glad to have finished without cheats or errors, and don't care that I had a bunch of time-consuming writeovers.

(Now, will this post show up or not?)

leftcoastTAM 4:30 PM're....

rondo 8:15 PM  

@lefty - you are so correct about the BOWERs (which was a gimme). I used to play euchre a lot. It's almost as popular around here as cribbage, or at least used to be. Let's play if we ever meet!

@D,LIW - I just highlight and right click to copy. Actually have done that for a long time since losing a brilliant post long ago. Hope I never have to use it, but sometimes . . . At work I just use a Word doc and delete if it posts.

Highlighting and right clicking . . .

Diana, LIW 10:26 PM  

@Rondo - you are a mouser - I am a key stroke person. Same same.


thefogman 6:27 PM  

It took me all weekend but I finally conquered it. The SE corner was the last to fall. Tough, tough, tough. But done!

Scott McLean 1:00 PM  

Late again in syndie land, so I’m commenting into the void. But I like to comment, so...

Yeah, it’s totally a swaztika - not the black squares, but the remaining white space (no pun intended), if you ignore the plus sign in the center. I saw it immediately and couldn’t unsee it.

As for the puzzle itself, super hard for me. Every corner put up a fight. And I have to say, the end result was hardly worth the work. No answers that really sparkled, nothing that made me smile.

My best moment: correctly filling in PORTWINES with no crosses! Not that it helped much; I DNFed there in the SE with BRASSWoRk. oNTAE and kSPYS could have been right, for all I knew. Should have figured out ESPYS, I suppose, but I just thought there must some initialized off-off-Broadway award I’d never heard of and let it go. ANTAE, oNTAE - no friggin’ idea there.

Oh, and PAPErERIE. Made as much sense as the right answer, and my brain didn’t see AGATE by that point. There are lots of words I don’t know. AGArE could be one of them.


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