Farmhand in Wizard of Oz / SAT 10-14-17 / Half of 1997 telecom merger / Britt real name of Green Hornet / Eponym of North Carolina city / husky voiced singer jezebel of jazz / Hit TV series based on Colombian telenovela / 2015 #2 hit for rapper Fetty Wap / Neighbor of Twelve Oaks in fiction

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (very challenging for me, but I am an idiot who forgot that AMMAN, Jordan exists...)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: NYNEX (9D: Half of a 1997 telecom merger) —
NYNEX Corporation /ˈnnɛks/ was a telephone company that served five New England states (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) as well as most of New York state from 1984 through 1997. [...] NYNEX merged with Bell Atlantic on August 14, 1997, in what was, at the time, the second largest merger in American corporate history. Although Bell Atlantic was the surviving company, the merged company moved from Bell Atlantic's headquarters in Philadelphia to NYNEX headquarters in New York City. On June 30, 2000, Bell Atlantic acquired GTE to form Verizon Communications. (wikipedia)
• • •

I messed this up every possible way, starting with AXEL / LAHR at 1D: Spin out on the ice? / 19A: Farmhand in "The Wizard of Oz" and then over and over again after that. I confuse HERON and EGRET so I botched 2D: Symbol of the National Audubon Society too (apparently a lot of people confuse them—when I google "egret," "egret vs heron" is one of the predictive search options ... dear god, I hope that's because people confuse them and not because people make them fight). Unsatisfyingly, the only way I got started was by kinda sorta being sure of TYPEA (4D: Ambitious and high-energy) and then also SATS and ATEST. So a bevy of less-than-fun words got me my first traction. I did OK after that, bumbling along in a vaguely counterclockwise fashion. Always fun to deal with the DODO vs. BOZO dilemma ... and then I somehow put in PLACE instead of ELECT (48D: Give a seat). But eventually I got the whole bottom and came back up through the center and handled the NW and then ... things really got ugly.

As you can see, I thought there was something called NYNET. The "NET" part really, really felt plausible, both because it feels very telecommy and because that "T" ended up preceding a "W" in the Across, which felt like kismet—those letters go great together! Ugh. I abbreviate "crossword" as XWORD not infrequently on social media, but NYNET kept me from having any idea that that was the answer. But the worst problem up there was my incredible blanking on the [World capital once known as Philadelphia]. I mean, I even knew that that was going to put me in a Middle Eastern part of the world and I *still* couldn't retrieve AMMAN. I stared at A--AN and the only thing my brain would allow was ASWAN. Not a world capital. ASWAN. ASWAN. ASWAN. It just wouldn't let other possibilities in, except occasionally even stupider possibilities like ASLAN. Eventually, after being dead stopped with the above grid for what felt like ever, I ran the alphabet at the second blank in A--AN and eventually hit "M." And that was it. AMMAN to LOGARITHM (argh) and "US AND THEM" and it was all over quickly. From huge empty spaces to done because I was able to get the two "M"s in AMMAN. The gap between failure and success is very often that narrow.

Grid is nice, though the proper noun pop culture stuff is awfully heavy—and stacked in the NW. "Dark Side of the Moon" bores me (listened to it front to back for the first time this summer) and I couldn't name a song on that album but "Money"—"US AND THEM" just seems awfully obscure for a longer answer. It wasn't exactly a hit. And putting it next to the Green Hornet's "real" (LOL) name, ouch. I'm guessing tons of solver had never heard of "TRAP QUEEN," but as the clue says, it was a legit hit (unlike, for example, "US AND THEM"). I didn't groove on this too hard, but it's pretty alright. The fill is only wobbly in a few places (please somebody drive a stake through the heart of REUNES!), and the longer answers are mostly very interesting and contemporary. Good thing I knew ANITA / O'DAY—would've been a bloodbath without her (27A: With 33-Across, husky-voiced singer known as the Jezebel of Jazz). I might still be solving.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me with the top half a tad tougher then the bottom.

No erasures. TRAP QUEEN, US AND THEM, and BAJAN were WOEs.

I had none of the problems that @Rex had. It helped that I've recently seen the exact clue for AMMAN in a 1998 Sat. puzzle. It also helped that my sister lived there for a while.

To blatantly steal a phrase from Jeff Chen, this was "chock full of goodies.". Liked it!

Casimir 12:12 AM  

Medium for me as I whizzed through, filling in lotsa proper nouns I'd never heard of, most if which OFL identified. It's been that way all week for me, just getting lucky on wild guesses with a few letters only filled in. Then I hit the NE, convinced the quote about reaping the whirlwind was from Homer, despite it's biblical cadence. Nearly doubled my time from easy to average level. Deleted the -mer then saw Hosea, then the rest fell. I enjoyed the puzzle!

Robin 12:31 AM  

Finished in a hurry. Possibly my fastest Saturday ever but if not then within a minute of it.

Pretty much started in the west, filling in TARA and building counter-clockwise off that. Some easy stuff in there such as PINA_COLADA and TYRA_BANKS that only required a letter or two to cue the rest.

The LUTZ/TRAPQUEEN/FLAKE/ZEKE crossings were the last things I filled in. Tried to write pEtE rather than ZEKE and then figured that was going to work.

(Egrets are herons. The great egret in the Audubon logo is also known as a great white heron.)

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

Us and Them was the second single released off of one the top grossing albums in history, which just so happens to have spent 16 years on the Billboard charts. And, oh yeah, it’s also the name of the second highest grossing tour of 2017. Us and Them is obscure? You write a crossword puzzle blog. You’re obscure. And amazingly ignorant. In your wildest dreams you couldn’t write anything half as moving as this song. But, yeah, you’re’s boring. Try reading the lyrics, BOZO.

Mike in Mountain View 12:36 AM  

LOGARITHM was a gimme. US AND THEM is an earworm; those of us of a certain age will now have it playing in our minds for days. ". . . and after all, we're only ordinary men." "Classic" rock.

I would bet that the overlap between solvers who know TRAP QUEEN and US AND THEM is close to a null set.

I had SonS instead of SIBS for awhile, but ATTICDOOR cleared that up. Wanted "rev" or "revs" instead of AMP or PEPS.

Good, solid Saturday. Played medium.

Mark Barrett 12:37 AM  

I also had the Homer fill which kept me from seeing HOSEA for some time. That error was compounded when I had Andra (thinking singer Day) instead of ANITA making the NE more trouble than needed.

After it was all straightened out I discovered my worst error of all as I had cword as the abbreviation for the puzzle instead of, of course, duh, wake up dummy, XWORD.

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

Wow, Anonymous Pink Floyd fan, easy there. You'll give yourself a "bummer trip."

Anonymous 1:13 AM  

Anonymous Pink Floyd fan is indeed venting more spleen than is advised, but he/she (we all suspect "he" right?) is correct . "Us and Them " is one of two singles off one of the best selling albums ever. Per Wikipedia, "One in every fourteen people in the US under the age of 50 is estimated to own, or to have owned, a copy" of Dark Side of the Moon (as of 2007, I believe.) Plus it's a gettable title "Us and Them" being in the language. Point to Anonymous Pink Floyd Fan.

mathgent 1:27 AM  

I just heard that AMMAN was once known as Philadelphia in another puzzle recently. Strange. I'll have to check it out.

ANITAODAY used to come into San Francisco every year or so. Near the end of her career, I saw her sing and play piano at a small bar before maybe a dozen of us. She was still wonderful.

Loved the puzzle. I have no idea how I knew that EGRET was the symbol of The Audibon Society. Pulling things like that out of my brain is one of the joys of doing these things.

Twenty-one red plusses in the margins, above average even for a Saturday..

Tom Rowe 1:30 AM  

I was troubled by 1-across. "Left brain" is not a real thing. I am a neuropsychologist and there is a left hemisphere, but not a left brain. Furthermore, the clue is bogus because you cannot separate function like the clue suggests. You have one working brain that integrates function across hemispheres and the idea that you can separate functions like thinking brain or feeling brain is just pop psychology. It just makes me want to go Gah!

puzzlehoarder 1:59 AM  

The NW section of this puzzle was particularly difficult for me. I had it in my head that 1A was TESTTRACK. LUTZ took forever to show up, weird how that happens. with that UGLYBETTY popped right up.

I had a feeling this was a glitch on my part. I'm not in top form tonight. I was about to print out the puzzle when a friend called to say that another friend had been shot dead just this evening. She was caught in a drive by. She and her husband were just out walking a block from their apartment. Shit like this happens all the time here in Chicago but when it's someone you know it really hits home. She was one of our sons teachers and a good person. My wife just went to see the Cubs with her on Wednesday. I spoke to her on the phone on Tuesday and now she's dead.

Sorry to bring this up in the puzzle world but Cynthia did not deserve to die and she shouldn't be forgotten. I feel guilty doing a puzzle but they're like comfort food they take me away from the real world.

chefwen 2:07 AM  

"Ordered in" fit in beautifully at 7D until nothing worked off of it. Damn! Thought I was onto something.

Fetty Wap? Seriously?

Had to consult my big Uncle Google to get the upper left finished, then the rest kinda filled in, slowly.

Got an order for a PINA COLADA cheesecake a couple of days ago.

Never heard of a CHOCO TACO, but I think I would like one.

chefwen 2:12 AM  

@puzzlehoarder - Just read your comment. So sorry that you lost a friend to such a senseless, violent crime. My heart goes out to you, your wife and her family.

Hartley70 2:27 AM  

@puzzlehoarder, don't apologize for sharing your loss with us. Thank you for making this miserable gun violence personal in Rexworld tonight. If this story makes just one person change his mind and favor strict gun control laws, you've honored your friend. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Larry Gilstrap 2:28 AM  

Solving after a night on the town, admittedly a small town. My favorite time to solve is mid-afternoon. How about you? Hi @syndiland! OFL bares his soul, and I find that quality endearing. I'm a birder, so it pains me that someone struggles to distinguish a heron from an EGRET. Not really! And then we recently had that whole sloppiness with state birds. I would struggle to distinguish an axel from a LUTZ, neither being birds.

56A has to be clue and answer of the day. The sonnet is IAMBic pentameter and fourteen lines and the math gives me 70. That is elegant!

"Dark Side of the Moon" is one of the most prolific albums ever; look it up! I saw it performed live more than once in the early 70s. Right place, right time, I guess. A few years back, an acoustic version of US AND THEM inspired me to buy a guitar, take lessons, and try to learn to play. Osteoarthritis passes spell check.

I stream music, so I love an algorithm, but a LOGARITHM has something to do with math resulting in glaze over. I have trouble with numbers not preceded by dollar signs. 10X10x10= 3? An EGRET is white, a heron is not.

So far, my LEFT BRAIN and the other side seem to work pretty well. As a result, friends seek me out and actually listen to what I say. I am easily distracted, but I have actually uttered the phrase: WHERE WAS I? Drum roll: my friends actually cued me back to my train of thought. Lucky me.

Senior moment: Dave Garroway ended the Today program with the benediction: PEACE!

Paper Gangsta 2:33 AM  

This is the first Saturday puzzle I've solved (used to be too intimidated by them to even try).
Am I the only one who thought the editor misspelled TAMAGOCHI? Or that there was a singular word TAMAGACH? 😂

Hartley70 2:42 AM  

The puzzle was a perfect Saturday for me. It was moderately challenging as I worked counter-clockwise until I got to the NE corner and it became a head banger.

LOGARITHM didn't occur to me because honestly I can't remember what one is, if I ever knew. I had ShUsh before SLURP. I wanted something Greek for AMMAN. I flailed around for a Shakespeare character before HOSEA. Pink Floyd was never my thing. It was fun but time consuming to unravel my errors. I was lucky to know EGRET, UGLYBETTY and ANITAO'DAY (my Dad was under her spell) right off the bat.

Nice one!

Dolgo 2:48 AM  

I think if you're troubled by "pop" reductions of things you know very well, you're gonna be pretty unhappy doing the NYT Crossword. I'm a retired English literature proof and an avid opera fan, and I often have to keep my temper under control. Though LEFT BRAIN may be anathema to neurologists, it's pretty common usage for non specialists. I suggest lightening up just a bit.

Dolgo 2:51 AM  

Pretty easy going for me, though I had to Natick most of the pop stuff. I found it just the thing for my insomnia. Night, all!

Dr. Colossus, MD 2:56 AM  

I thought this was a really well balanced puzzle with a little something from everywhere. There was even a riddle.

However, if you thought this was too easy and you want a challenge, try the Saturday, November 11 2006 puzzle, if you have access to the NYT archive. It's tough.

Dolgo 3:09 AM  

PS A good example of what I'm talking about in this puzzle is the IAMB clue. Since Shakespeare was a fine sonneteer, he rarely if ever wrote them in strict iambic pentameter, almost always varying the pattern to avoid a sing-songy effect. For example, you'll often find the second line beginning with a trochee. Also there are a considerable number of "feminine" endings of lines. So the number of syllables in his sonnets often does not add up to 10 X 14 and the number of iambs do not always add up to 70. But I found the clever clue gave me great pleasure!

Jyqm 3:53 AM  

“Close” to a null set? Specifically among NYT crossworld solvers, maybe so. But this 35-year-old is quite familiar with both, and I know plenty of other people who are, too. Not sure why crossword solvers, of all people, tend to assume that others’ knowledge is so narrow and compartmentalized. (That’s nit at all meant as a slam against you, Mike, just a general observation having read this blog for years.)

Unknown 3:56 AM  

Stunningly easy for me, which I know because I actually finished it, which is rare for me on Saturday. One of those puzzles where the clues just seem to synch with your given areas of knowledge, which probably means that it skewed young, since I am. My biggest problem was writing HOMER instead of HOSEA, which messed up a lot. (I also had VIOLINIST for Nero just off the N – figured out pretty quickly that it didn't work, but I still like it.)

evil doug 4:59 AM  

Huh. Learn something new every day. Trap Queen only made it to #2? No justice, no peace....

Theodore Stamos 5:26 AM  

Never heard of Trap Queen, so the NW was tough for me. I'm a little surprised that someone Rex's age could be so unaware of Dark Side of the Moon. It's a beautiful song and one of the greatest albums ever. Oh well: different strokes for different folks, I guess.

bucktail 5:54 AM  

Always fearful of Sat. puzzles but nailed this one in nanoseconds.

Lewis 6:15 AM  

@puzzlehoarder -- What a tragedy. My heart is with you.

This puzzle fought me left and right, and that is how I like it. There were six answers nowhere in my wheelhouse, not even that place where answers exist that I had no idea existed there, and that made for a formidable gauntlet. In a way, even though the puzzle has a contemporary AURA, it felt old-timey, in that there was an emphasis on either-you-know-it-or-you-don't clues/answers.

I loved the battle. I loved the reference to my hometown of Asheville. Maybe I'm not a MOB, but I'm a fan!

Andrea Ojeda 6:32 AM  

I hear you. You're not alone. None of this is ok, yet, as long as guns remain the only thing our lawmakers are dead set to protect in this country, people will continue to die senseless deaths.
I'm very sorry for your loss.

Maybe Add Some Weed 6:41 AM  

Rex and I are the same age and, for the most part, I can tell we share same tastes in music, that is why I'm appalled at his comment about DSOTM and US AND THEM. Pink Floyd and this particular album was a fundamental part in everybody I grew up with life's soundtrack. Boring? I mean....anything but.

Cliff Robinson 6:46 AM  

I agree with your sentiments completely, Jyqm. I'm 51; TRAPQUEEN and USANDTHEM are both in my wheelhouse. So was LOGARITHM. I'm always surprised when posters seem proud to be uninformed about huge areas of knowledge, culture, society (science, math, rap music, sports). I think crosswords reward a broad knowledge base, and I certainly don't understand blaming a constructor or editor for one's own ignorance.

Lobster11 8:16 AM  

I often find myself wondering how, if I were to meet the Man Behind Rex, we would get along. Sometimes I get the idea that we'd hit it off and have great time together; other times I think I would find him insufferable. But now, without a doubt, I know the answer: If he thinks The Dark Side of the Moon is "boring," we cannot be friends. We just can't.

QuasiMojo 8:18 AM  

Despite the multitude of pop clues I found this a dazzling puzzle with something for everyone, from GWTW to the MAGUS of OZ and on to someone named TYRA BANKS and PINA COLADAs, plus a bunch of stuff I've never heard of but which was all sussable thanks to the clever construction. I was sure that the Jezebel of Jazz was Diane what's her name but I'm glad it turned out to be Anita O'Day because I actually like her work.

@puzzlehoarder, thanks for sharing your loss and for making the current crisis in gun violence real to us all. We in America are definitely living on the DARK SIDE of the MOON these days. No joke.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Oh, the things I learn through the NYT crossword puzzle:
TRAP is where drug deals take place. “Fetty told Maxim the “song doesn’t have anything to do with love, really…” It’s about a girl who “learned how to cook crack, and she kind of did it so good that she made enough for the both of us,” he says. “She knew how to stretch that shit.””

evil doug 8:29 AM  

I'm like hey, wassup, hello
Seen yo pretty ass soon as you came in the door
I just wanna chill, got a sack for us to roll
Married to the money, introduced her to my stove
Showed her how to whip it now she remix it for low
She my trap queen let her hit the bando
We be counting up watch how far them bands go
We just selling dope, talking matching lambos
Got 50 60 grams prob 100 grams though
Man I swear I love her how she work that damn pole
Hit the strip club we be letting bands go
Everybody hating we just call them fans though
In love with the money I ain't never letting go

And I get high with my baby
I just left the mall I'm getting fly with my baby, yeahh
And I get right with my baby
I be in the kitchen cooking pies with my baby, yeahh

And I get right with my baby
I just left the mall I'm getting fly with my baby, yeahh
And I get right with my baby
I be in the kitchen cooking pies with my baby, yeahh

I hit the strip with my trap queen
'Cause all we know is bands
I might just snatch up a Rari
And buy my boo a Lambo
I might just snatch up a necklace
Drop a couple on a ring
She ain't want it for nothin'
Because I got her everything
Bitch you up on the bando
Ride with me where I can't go
Remy boys got extendo
Count up hella bands tho
I'll fuck in your benz hoe
Fetty Wap I'm living fifty thousand
K how I stand tho
If you checking for my pockets I'm like

Birchbark 8:31 AM  

I liked the play-by-play foibles in today's review. I can relate (sort of -- guessing @Rex still finished in six minutes or so). I had ALPHA for 4d, which made for a long stare down in the NW.

ZEKE + US AND THEM: If you watch the Wizard of Oz with the sound off and play Dark Side of the Moon, starting both at the same time, the album tracks with the black-and-white portion of the film, ending when Dorothy arrives in Munchkin Land and things go from Kansas to color. This was a sort of urban legend that I put to the test many years ago. The dreamlike angst at the beginning of the film weaves really well with what's going on in the album, with occasional moments of goofy profundity.

EGRETS and herons aplenty in these parts.

Two Ponies 8:33 AM  

@ puzzlehoarder, So sorry.

The rest of you who are using this tragedy to spout your own political agenda should be ashamed of your selfishness.

Teedmn 8:36 AM  

Nice puzzle, but way, way too easy for a Saturday. 13:55 on the computer = about 10 minutes on paper for me - a definite personal record for this day of the week. They needed to AMP up the clues, by far.

My first entry was ZEKE. Not that I remember the farmhand's name from Wizard of Oz but I knew 1D had to be "axel" or LUTZ and ZEKE seemed like the perfect Kansan name (definitely not HOSEA).

After that, everything just flowed onto the grid. Don't know the name of the Pink Floyd song? Off USAN______, and knowing something about the album, I guessed the rest correctly. I loved the clue for 11D but it made LOGARITHM pretty easy to see, though I spelled it LOGARyTHM for a bit.

AMMAN as clued (Philadelphia, what?) was a total WOE but I didn't need to know a single letter as it filled in totally from crosses. TYRA BANKS off the T? Too easy.

Once again, my encyclopedic knowledge of Gone With The Wind came in handy at 30D and helped me change 29A from a "sonic" boom to the you-know-what.

I chuckled when I saw white snow in Argentina. I was expecting an unknown-to-me Spanish word that meant "rare". Though Google tells me that southern Argentina does indeed see snow in August so I realized something geographically today.

Some PPP (I'm looking at you, Britt REID) but otherwise this was a very nicely constructed puzzle but I miss my Saturday challenge. (Just read @Rex's rating - shocked!)

The Wicked Grape 8:38 AM  

Re: null set
Same thoughts here, Jyqm! I am 13 years older than you.

Today's was easy for me, but it wasn't boring.

Two Ponies 8:38 AM  

@ evil doug, Thank you for sharing those beautiful lyrics with us. I'm guessing that is from Trap Queen. I can't wait to add that to my playlist. A true classic sure to stand the test of time.

Z 8:40 AM  

@puzzlehoarder - I am sorry for your loss.

mathgent 8:59 AM  

@puzzlehoarder: What a tragedy. Life is a cruel crapshoot sometimes. Even though I don't really know you, I feel some real pain.

The papers are full of news about the fires in Wine Country north of here. They talk about acres in the tens of thousands which have been ravaged. As a city boy, what do I know about acres? I know that an acre is about the size of a football field. And I just looked up that 640 acres make a square mile. They should be measuring the devastation in square miles. It's like saying that San Jose is 86,000 yards south of here instead of fifty miles.

John James Audubon 9:06 AM  

Perhaps the reason people confuse EGRETS with Herons is that Egrets are Herons.

Z 9:11 AM  

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of puzzle answers. Anything over 33% will cause some subset of solvers to struggle with the solve.

25 of 70 answers are PPP, a high 36%. Beyond the answer count, six of the ten 9-letter answers are PPP, accounting for large swaths of grid space. The PPP is from a wide swath of American culture (HOSEA to Fetty Wap has to be a diversity maximum for a NYTX), but this puzzle gets its difficulty as much from its trivia as from wordplay.

— — — — -

@Pink Floyd lovers - Please, not us too. What percentage of the estimated 22 million DSOTM owners could name any track besides Money? The album was #1 for one week in 1973, meaning the 16 year olds who bought it then are entering their 7th decade (and most of us were listening to Shaun Cassidy sing Da Do Ron Ron more than Pink Floyd). US AND THEM is a fine Saturday answer, but please, please, please spare us the canonization of a pop culture phenomenon just because it’s part of our generation. It’s okay if someone doesn’t like what we like. You don’t have to like Fetty Wap just because it was #1 as long as DSOTM, either.

@Evil Doug - We are all waiting for the home video of you doing your best Fetty Wap impersonation... Are rap lyrics replacing Seinfeld quotes?

Tita A 9:32 AM  

It's not lost on me that it took @Robin to teach us about herons and egrets.

to my sister, a SLURP is not just impolite, it is painful. She was thrilled to learn that there is an officially recognized syndrome for people like her. Woe betide you should you delicately sip the hot soup from the spoon, make the lisghtest noise while trying to keep your ice pop from melting too fast, or crunch down on that potato chip.
There was an article in the Times a couple of years ago that named the condition. She felt pure vindication...

While my initial error was NYtEl, I fixed that right quick. But forgetting that I needed to wait on _TEST, I threw in an h, which meant I ended with HeP/eAGUS. Oh...and TRiPQUEEN. Still not a bad performance ( for me, for a Saturday), considering the high PPP count.

Thanks, Mr. Ezersky.

ColoradoCog 9:34 AM  

I'll raise my hand for being in the "null set". Intimately familiar with USANDTHEM, but although aware of Fetty Wap as an artist, I don't really know his work, so TRAPQUEEN had to come from crosses.

But that's fine. That's how it should be. The crosses were all completely fair, and now I know a little more than I knew before. That makes me happy.

And now excuse me as I rant: Describing USANDTHEM as obscure is absurd. It's one of the most memorable tracks from an absolute classic album. From Wikipedia: "The Dark Side of the Moon has appeared on rankings of the greatest albums of all-time.[123] [...] In 2012, The Dark Side of the Moon was voted 43rd again on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[126] In 2006, it was voted "My Favourite Album" by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's audience.[127] NME readers voted the album eighth in their 2006 "Best Album of All Time" online poll,[128] and in 2009, Planet Rock listeners voted the album the "greatest of all time".[129] The album is also number two on the "Definitive 200" list of albums, made by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers "in celebration of the art form of the record album".[130] It came 29th in The Observer's 2006 list of "The 50 Albums That Changed Music",[131] and 37th in The Guardian's 1997 list of the "100 Best Albums Ever", as voted for by a panel of artists and music critics."

As others have commented, we need to stop calling whatever we don't know "obscure". There are times I'll hit Google to check on an answer I don't know, and decide it really is obscure, like some inconsequential 16th century monarch who ruled for 3 years, but more often than not, I have no problem admitting that it's just a gap in my knowledge. Not long ago, Laura Nyro appeared as an answer. I had no idea who she was, so I checked out her music. Now I can't stop listening.

Saying you don't know a song like USANDTHEM is fine. There's no shame in that. Calling something like that "obscure" is dismissive and marginalizing to the (large) number of people for whom it's a gimme.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Common trivia answer--the 3 farmhands were Hunk,Zeke, and Hickory. Unfortunately I filled in Hunk, which slowed my progress down the yellow brick road

Tita A 9:37 AM terrible Thank you for sharing that here. You bring to light in a tragically personal way how we need to be outraged every single day, not just for Las Vegas or Sandy Hook.

kitshef 9:49 AM  

Jeez-o-peet, where has the crunch gone from the NYT puzz? This was basically a themeless Wednesday.

It did take a while to get started – XWORD was first in, confirmed by NYNEX, but from that point on, never really slowed down. Even with two long entries that were complete WoEs (TRAP QUEEN, CHOCOTACO).

Literal, dull, forgettable. I do love me some PINA COLADA, though.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

I could rant against the misogynistic racist lyrics that do nothing but support existing stereotypes, but I need to stay consistent in my hypocrisy. - Rex

Blog 10:06 AM  

What a horrible story. I am so sorry for your loss.

kitshef 10:12 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap - despite years of watching figure skating, I still have trouble telling the jumps apart, except for the axel which is the only one where they jump while skating forwards, rather than backwards.

@Teedmn - loop or flip would also fit nicely at 1D. Whenever I see one of those, I wait for a cross and hope it's not an 'l' in the first spot (lutz or loop) or a 'p' in the last spot (flip or loop).

David Schinnerer 10:13 AM  

I loved this puzzle, sorry, haters. Probably because I actually finished a “not up to the cools kids standards” Saturday. But I love going through the grid going “I know, like, three of these answers, geesh “ then little by little they start to come to me. I love sitting on the couch and taking my time, savoring the quiet time. Rushing through trying to get your “personal best time” has to take all the enjoyment out of it. Just click “reveal puzzle” and your time will be phenomenal! I have my tea and spend some time with my friend, the xword.

And has “crunch” always been an adjective related to crosswords? It’s on my list of most annoying trendy words. Crunch...Really? Oh brother.

Anyway, thanks to the constructor (I never look at their names, sorry) for providing me a fun Saturday morning before the honeydo’s start.
I, of very few, appreciate your efforts towards my entertainment and relaxation.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

@puzzlehoarder, how awful. My sympathies. I live in the city (Boston, not Chicago) and have had shots fired from my yard, but so far I and mine have escaped being hit. It's always sad to thing about.

I didn't know either US AND THEM or TRAP QUEEN, nor that particular meaning of FLAKE, so I guessed. Got it right--a little more plausible than TRiP/FLiKE, but who knows?

I didn't remember ZEKE, and don't know from figure-skating, so I started with axel/luKE, but eventually I saw UGLY BETTY, so that fixed that.

10A is ethnocentric; in Japan, it's very polite. In fact, if you suck a noodle from hot broth without slurping, you will burn your lip.

No V, alas! I was hoping.

Alison 10:17 AM  

Tragic. So sorry to hear your story

David Schinnerer 10:23 AM  

And @lobster11... wondering about hanging out with Mike is like wondering what it’s like to fly to Europe with a screaming baby in the seat next to you and the airline ran out of alcohol...I shudder at even being in the same room...nay, state...with him. Such a sad, hateful, negative, pompous ass.

Sorry to pull my punches...maybe someday i won’t hold back. :)

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Multiple posters: please stop with the "off of". The word is "from". There is no off of.

Jamie C 10:26 AM  

Gotta agree with this. Well said, 12:33 anon.

Mohair Sam 10:28 AM  

Wonderful Saturday challenge. Terrific cluing. As good as it gets.

Once had to key in a LOGARITHM table to get an RPG II language program to do some advance math I needed, talk about tedium - still LOGARITHM took forever to get here, repressed memory I think. Like @Rex we would have crashed and burned without ANITA ODAY. @Z (9:11) has it just right on Pink Floyd. @Doug - please stick to Seinfeld. Never heard of CHOCOTACO, but I want one.

@Puzzle hoarder - Don't know what to say. Thoughts and prayers.

Sir Hillary 10:29 AM  

Seems like we’re more interested in commenting on each other’s comments than on today’s puzzle. Bummer.

Very hard for me. Good stuff though — nice mix of oldish and newish.

I’ve heard of Fetty Wap but couldn’t name any of his songs until today. Never heard of a CHOCOTACO but I love it.

Thought about viOliNIst for Nero, but luckily never wrote it in.

My only real gripe is a couple of clues. A LUTZ is not a “spin”, it’s a jump. Yes, the jumper rotates, but no one calls it a “spin”. And how is a PROM a “moment”? The fact that both of these clues are meant to be cute (evidenced by the question marks) makes them all the more annoying.

Mike D 10:31 AM  

Wow dougie is cutting and pasting again. What a talented 3rd grader! His mommy must be very proud.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Fuck "thoughts and prayers."

Charles Flaster 10:36 AM  

Perfect Saturday-- Loved it.
DNF as I never changed LUdZ and wrote
dRiP QUEEN which sounded like a poorly made spigot-- seemed reasonable.
My anchors were LOGARITHM and CHOCO TACO which is a popular ITEM on the Margate NJ beach.
Loved cluing for PEACE and the misdirect for TEA SET.
Well done SE.

RAD2626 10:38 AM  

@puzzlehoarder. My sincere condolences. Chicago is such a wonderful city but it seems of late to have become a war zone. Way too much random violence.

Liked the puzzle a lot. Had same issues as Rex in the NW made even worse by putting in hYPEr off the YPE. Glad I remembered UGLY BETTY. Also was convinced that 1a had to be some kind of Lab since I had 1d. Only other slowdown was putting baNAna in off the NA For the tropical drink. In the end pretty average Saturday time because NE and SE went in pretty quickly. Liked different clue for BBQ.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Looks like that's what you just did @ two ponies.

Wm. C. 10:41 AM  

@Ms. Ojeda --

Re: lawmakers at fault for gun violence:

Well, that's true. But go to the root cause, because lawmakers are just their instrument.

Few if any lawmakers will go against the NRA, because its policy is to stop at NOTHING to unseat opposition to the slightest step toward gun control. In my mind, I lay the blame for these senseless deaths to the NRA.

Well, I guess this does not make me popular with the NRA readers out there. I can only guess that they blind themselves to the costs of doing nothing to put controls on the purchase and ownership of handguns and much stronger ones on automatic weapons or rifles that are easily modifiable to automatic fire with simple bump stock adapters.

A Martin 10:47 AM  

Comforting to me that Rex and I ran into the same difficult area (NE) because I am of an older demongraphic and frequently the pop culture references are lost on me. I had to look up TrapQueen and UsandThem but other long answers fell into place as I slowly got a handle on the crosses. I thought of lutz rather than axel but didn't put it in until I crossed with Zeke.

MI Nana 10:51 AM  

@puzzlehoarder, my sympathy for your personal loss to senseless gun violence. My heart aches for you, and all who grieve your friend Cynthia. How many hearts have to break before we make systemic changes that enable these events?

Nancy 10:53 AM  

Yay, me! My hard-working LEFT BRAIN overcame all the PPP I didn't know in this PPP-laden XWORD and I didn't cheat once. This despite not knowing UGLY BETTY (although I've heard of it); TRAP QUEEN; US AND THEM; CHOCO TACO; BAJAN; SACHS; and the "Spider alternative" that gives us MIATA. Another stupid car, I presume.

Don't laugh, but I had Nero (31D) as a violiNIST (!) If it hadn't been for good ol' PINA COLADA, I would have gone down in flames in the SW. I guessed at the "A" in CHOCO TACO (62A)-- another NAME BRAND I don't know -- because I liked the rhyme. (Certainly not because I knew BAJAN.) Is CHOCO TACO a perfect IAMB?

Lots of suffering today because of the PPP -- not all of it enjoyable. But I did like the difficulty and challenge after yesterday's too-easy Friday. And I feel smart!

evil doug 10:59 AM  

Wm. C.,

I blame all drunk driving deaths on GM, and knife murders on X-Acto.

Not a gun owner nor an NRA member, but I think it's time we place culpability where it belongs--especially in the gang mess that's going on in my old home town.

Puzzlehoarder--can't begin to imagine your anguish.

Nancy 11:02 AM  

@puzzlehoarder -- I'm so terribly sorry about your loss. I feel guilty in having written my comment today before reading yours. Another stupid, senseless, unnecessary death in a country that is just reeling from so many of them. Please accept my deepest sympathy.

DeeJay 11:03 AM  

And, the clue didn't call it a hit. "Longest song" implies it was not a hit.

And anyone who remembers when AT&T was broken up should be able to recall NYNEX.

Whitey 11:20 AM  

I had not heard of Anita O'Day before today. There is a good selection of her tunes on Spotify that I enjoyed listening to.

"Us and Them" is my favorite track on that album. Related to that, a friend once asked, "Did you ever go through a period of getting really into Pink Floyd? No, wait," he corrected himself, "everyone has gone through that period. When was yours?"

I've not gone through a period of getting to know the "Trap Queen" singer's songs, and I don't think I will, now that I've seen the lyrics. Thank you, evil doug, for posting those.

I finished this puzzle and enjoyed it. Congrats to the first-time Saturday solver who posted above. I know that feeling. I also agree with the poster who, like me, likes to relax with a puzzle rather than focus on completion time.

I enjoyed reading the comments today. Thanks.

P.S. I have lived overseas for some time. I had not seen a Choco Taco. What a surprise. I encourage my fellow Americans to get off the sweet stuff. It's like the crack cocaine that the Trap Queen is cooking up.

Questinia 11:25 AM  

What @jae said.

Masked and Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Man … this sucker dredged stuff outta the M&ABrain that I didn't even know was in there. Philadelphia = AMMAN. Sorcerer = MAGUS. Pink Floyd tune = USANDTHEM. Jezebel of Jazz = ANITA+ODAY. Farmhand = ZEKE. Hornet Dude = REID [Altho thought REED, at first]. Did not no-how know TRAPQUEEN, tho.

Started out by gettin in at BWAY/XWORD. Seemed like an appropriate entry. Exited many many nanoseconds later, in the BAJAN CHOCOTACO [burp … pardon] area. Tough solvequest, betwixt all the weird names of things and the extra-crafty clues. Did lotsa FLAKE-ing out, along the way.

One out-and-out gimme: LOGARITHM. LOGs are like powers of some base number. Usually, in the math classes I took and taught, the base was either 10 or "e". [When asked, I always told students that the "e" stood for "eerie".] Sooo … 1000 is 10 with an exponent of 3. Or, as math dudes/darlins would say it: log 1000 = 3. [Sometimes they write a runty 10 as a subscript, right after the "log" wordlet.]

staff weeject pick: GEN. Sorry … was only 5 choices to choose from. Honrable mention to BBQ, which got M&A's hopes up for a pangram. But it was only a noVangram.

fave fill: SIBS. Better clue: {*Opposite* of dowbs??}. har

Thanx for the feistier-than-snot fun, Mr. Ezersky.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


BarbieBarbie 11:32 AM  

I was in love with ChocoTacos while carrying my son. Years later we vacationed in Mexico and he became enamored of that country’s super-chocolatey cereal CocoPic. Coincidence? Or epigenetic miracle?

@puzzlehoarder, how awful for everyone. You must be in shock. I’m so sorry. Yes, mindless tasks like puzzles can really help you through the numbness.

@mathgent, homeowners and farmers can think in acres.

Puzzle seemed easy but I loved the grid, so thumbs up.

@neuropsychologist, I once had to do a Whole Brain exercise at work, so I feel your annoyance. We got extra dimension of the same nonsense. The way to score 100 in any radial direction on the analysis plot was to think 100% like the control group, a bunch of GE executives. Perfectly whole-brain-balanced was perfectly GE-executive-like. It was really, really stupid.

abalani500 11:40 AM  

My fastest Sat ever (heck one of my only Sat finishes). USANDTHEM was an absolute gimme (boring??? Come now). And adding in a Wizard of Oz clue is apropo - some of you may know about how that movie syncs up with DSOTM (google and try it - it's pretty cool...imagine Great Gig In the Sky during the tornado scene). A lot of unknowns but all fairly crossed or easy to deduce. Really enjoyed this one. Now I'm gonna play me some Dark Side.

Carola 11:41 AM  

Tough for me, happy to finish. I'd wondered if @Z would offer a PPP anaylsis; I'd come up with 21. For me, anything over high teens crosses the line into "too many." At the same time, It was TARA that gave me my wee toehold. My Area of Greatest Resentment was the NE corner where 3 of the 5 Downs were names and one a math problem that instantly made my LEFT BRAIN freeze up. My first thought about Philadelphia was Cairo, but the crosses looked too unlikely, so I didn't write it in.

@puzzlehoarder - I'm horrified and so sorry.

GHarris 11:45 AM  

The Green Hornet crossing the whirlwind was my undoing. Had to google for both. Otherwise a tough but fun workout. My condolences.

Bob Mills 11:48 AM  

The NW killed me. I had "AXEL" instead if "LUTZ." Got everything else, so I give myself a B+

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

@anon 12:33am: I have to agree with @Rex about Dark Side of the Moon: it’s boring, it’s banal, and if it continues to “move” you beyond the age of 14, you’ve got a real case of arrested emotional development. (Frankly, I find people who look for some kind of profundity in 1970s pop lyrics to be pretty skeevy individuals. Blech.)

jb129 12:01 PM  

When I saw that Rex found this "very challenging" I almost didn't give it a shot.

But I did & did very well too! Got stuck on Amman too so I guess what's easy/medium/challenging & very challenging for Rex, isn't always for me.

And don't let him scare you off!

Stanley Hudson 12:03 PM  

@Puzzlehoarder, very sorry for your loss.

Nancy 12:05 PM  

@BarbieBarbie (11:32) -- So let me get this straight. The ideal, the paradigm, the ultimate goal of "whole brain-ness" is to think not like a Ghandi or an Einstein or a DaVinci or a Plato or a Shakespeare, but like a bunch of GE executives????? Yes, Barbie, I would have been annoyed, too. Very very annoyed. I might have been so annoyed that I would have walked right out of that test before answering a single question and without a backward glance. It's sort of like an SNL spoof, isn't it?

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

@anon11:54, that’s quite a haughty rant. You must be a blast at parties as you spout off.

Nancy 12:08 PM  

Gandhi. Sorry.

boomer54 12:13 PM  

Green Hornet's last name was a gimme ...since he was a descendant of the Lone Ranger ...John Reid ...

Masked and Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Wanted to do this separate … Not really about today's SatPuz.

@puzzlehoarder: Sure sorry about your tragic news. Death sucks, but senseless death is as low as it goes. After years of all this senseless bloodshed -- if we ever get to vote on it, I'd go for strict weaponry controls, in a heartbeat. [And I've shot off everything … from M-16s to M-60s to M-79s to M-somesuch howitzers to M-y big M-outh.]
Maybe re-design a few random unauthorized bullets, so they start homin back in on their firin source?

And yep, keep on doin yer puz, no matter what others may say or do. Sounds right to me.
Mainly, just wanted to say Thanx for speakin out.


Alex L 12:51 PM  

Us and them
And after all we're only ordinary men
Me and you
God only knows
It's not what we would choose to do
Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died
And the general sat
And the lines on the map
Moved from side to side
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who
Up and down
And in the end it's only round 'n round
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside

[spoken] "I mean, they're not gonna kill ya, so if you give 'em a quick short, sharp, shock, they won't do it again. Dig it? I mean he get off lightly, 'cause I would've given him a thrashing - I only hit him once! It was only a difference of opinion, but really...I mean good manners don't cost nothing do they, eh?"

Down and out
It can't be helped that there's a lot of it about
With, without
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?
Out of the way
It's a busy day
I've got things on my mind
For the want of the price
Of tea and a slice
The old man died

—"Us and Them," Roger Waters and Rick Wright

evil doug 12:52 PM  


"... I'd go for strict weaponry controls, in a heartbeat."

1. What does that mean, specifically?
2. Would it have prevented Las Vegas, or gang deaths in Chicago, etc?

I'm serious. I'd love to hear specific, doable proposals that bridge the gap between the 2nd amendment and outlawing guns for anyone. I'm for thorough background checks - - if the government could be trusted to do it right (a big if - - lots of stories of people being put on the no - fly list in error).

So I hear a lot of broad, vague laments - - and no workable details. I'm persuadable; persuade me....

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Can someone please get over to @ Evil Doug's place? He's off his meds.

Aketi 1:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 1:10 PM  

@Puzzlehoarder, any death hurts but particularly when it is senseless. I've had a colleague/friend murdered and others killed by terrorists. I'm so sorry that you lost your friend in such a senseless way. I long for a world that strives towards PEACE rather than inflames divisions. Tired of the US versus THEM attitudes. I wish more policy on violence and murder prevention was based on solid research because there are differences levels of violence in different populations and under different conditions. That means humans can actually work towards descalating it, rather than accepting it as normal. We might never get to zero, but we could get to less.

Between the continued fires and your news today, I'm just too sad to comment further. Going to spend a moment remembering and cherishing the memories of those who gave their all in both international development and as first responders and thinking of you today.

Trombone Tom 1:27 PM  

@puzzlehoarder, my heart aches for you. Such a senseless loss.

This was a great puzzle with something for everyone. I was really tempted to google because of that NW corner where I, too, fouled up by dropping in axel, instead of LUTZ. Took me forever to straighten that out, but eventually UGLY BETTY opened the door. No clue at all about TRAP QUEEN.

On the other hand, ANITA O'DAY pretty much eased the way into the center of the grid. CHOCOTACO was an unknown and doesn't sound appetizing. On the other hand a good mole is very appealing.

Also slowed down by misreading 55A clue as flush. And smizing was a WOE. Heck I only a year or two ago heard about twerking.

The winds in Wine Country picked up again last night and the Sonoma area is threatened with more destruction. A friend of ours lost her home in Kenwood. Calistoga is still on full evacuation notice. Fortunately the fires have so far spared our vines in St. Helena. The first responders are nothing less than heroic.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Lutz is a jump not a spin... Skating Dad that spends way too much time at the rink - at least I’m doing crosswords while battling the cold...

Joe Dipinto 2:10 PM  

I liked this as a Saturday puzz. When I first stared at it there was nothing I immediately knew, other than that the W of Oz farmhand was either Hunk or Zeke (I certainly know Anita O'Day but have never heard that sobriquet for her). But I got going with ATE AT HOME and then everything fell into place quite smoothly, even with a fair number of new-to-me answers (TRAP QUEEN, CHOCOTACOS, US AND THEM). My one writeover was perpetrated by having filled in BLANCO at 46d before getting down to the 64a clue.

All in all, this was as crunchy as a Klondike product!

Joe Dipinto 2:48 PM  

Just remembered to go back and read Rex's complaints. Wow, he really effed this one up. Hard to believe; for me, it was the best kind of solve: seemingly difficult at first glance, but a toehold yielded continuous "ah, yes!" moments all along the way. Brilliant work, Sam Ezersky (and no, I don't think you're an egomaniac and yes, mojitos are preferable to pina coladas).

@puzzlehoarder -- wow, what to say? Really heartbreaking.

JC66 3:03 PM  


That's awful. Hang in there.

Masked and Anonymous 3:29 PM  

**Spoiler Alert: Nuthin to do with the SatPuz. Mostly for @evil doug**

Yo, @evil doug.
And, yep -- there's the rub. Writin legislation/rules that makes a healthy majority of we the people at least semi-happy. Real hard to do that anymore, I'd grant -- for much of anything. Heck, maybe it always has been hard, and that's why we now have several messes on our hands that our founding fathers might not have been able to foresee, and current pols [aka we the elected people] don't wanna tackle.

"Bullets" [more suggestions than pearls of persuasion, tho]:

* Guns don't often kill people. People don't often kill people. Bullets kill people. Actually, it's more kinda a team effort, but … Perhaps they oughta control the ammo somehow? No amendment on ammo yet, as far as I know.
* I for sure like your suggestion for extremely thorough background checks -- for *all* sales; no loopholes.
* I'd go back to restrictin the use of semi-automatic weapons again. Also, weapons more potent than those, such as machine guns and bazookas and death stars. Big problem: dealin with all the death stars and such, that are already out there.
* I'd probably also go for stiffenin penalties for possession of unregistered firearms, other than maybe antiques, like the old wonky shotgun that's been handed down thru my family for generations. Maybe that's already the case for antiques? I don't claim to be an expert on all the laws.
* Actually, I'd personally tend to interpret the second amendment more along just the "militia" wording lines, than many folks would; but that's just m&e. Think there oughta be a separate clarifyin amendment, for personal equipment. Probably wouldn't fly, at the Court of Supreme Beings, tho.
* Did Congress recently make it easier for mentally deranged people to buy guns? That's so weird, it's surely gotta be fake news. But if it ain't … repeal and replace their asses!
* I absolutely don't claim to have all the day-um answers. If my bullets don't seem specific enough, it's probably becuz I don't know much more. But, U asked, so there it was.

M&A Help Desk and Bullets Arsenal

Hungry Mother 3:30 PM  

I loved this puzzle too, but only after I was finished. It played very hard for me even though I was 20% faster than average. This Mathematics Ph.D. waited far too long to get LOGARITHM. I guess I’ve been retired too long.

Rick 3:35 PM  

Please do not post The Pina Colada Song ever again. Please. No.

Specific solution 3:45 PM  

Anyone who wants one gets a musket. Every thing else illegal.

Anoa Bob 3:54 PM  

When I went to live and work in Japan in the 80's one of the first things I learned is that table manners there are quite different from ours. Whereas we think any noises made while eating, such as a gulp, lip smacking or a SLURP is a sign of ill breeding, they think eating silently is an insult to the host or meal provider and that making noises while eating is a compliment to the chef, the more the noise the bigger the compliment.

So I did as the locals did, and, to my surprise and pleasure, I found that food tastes better when you chew with open mouth and lots of SLURPing. I think it's because the air being drawn in while eating thusly more completely circulates the flavor molecules throughout the mouth and nasal passages and enhances the dining experience. I was glad, however, that my grandmother didn't see me doing this. She would have suggested that I go out and eat with the other pigs at the slop trough!

SLURPed down many a bowl of noodles while watching a SUMO MATCH on TV.

I also learned to keep both hands on or above the table while eating. If you ate with one hand while keeping the other off and below the table, as is considered polite here, they would laugh and ask if you were playing with yourself!

Tons of sea and shore birds hereabouts in deep south coastal TX. Somewhere I read or heard that while all EGRETs are herons, not all herons are EGRETs. Still on the lookout for an erne, but so far I've only seen one in an XWORD grid.

Normal Norm 3:54 PM  

@ M&A, Just about every gun except a revolver is a "semi-automatic."
That concept seems very hard for most folks to understand. I think they like to use that word because it sounds scary. People should not legislate about things they don't understand.

Linda Vale 4:10 PM  

"There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it's all dark.”

newspaperguy 4:14 PM  

@evil doug
Why is that Americans don't even know what the 2nd Amendment actually means? If you don't know, stop referring to it. Your ignorance is stunning.

evil doug 4:17 PM  

Seems like the Supreme Court took care of that. Or do you know better?

Masked and Anonymous 4:22 PM  

@Normal Norm…
Oh. Thanx for yer "semi-automatic" clarification. I was aimin more for a "burst mode" [or whatever it is called] restriction, in my previous msg. But I missed.
(Wrong again, M&A Breath.)

Outlaw M&A

Doug 4:29 PM  

This wasn't that bad for me, but I'm not happy that "Idol group" is a clue for MOB. Just seems a bit of a stretch. Overall, I enjoyed it though and it didn't trigger any of my deeply held political or religious beliefs. And boy, I give props to any constructor who can fire off simultaneous debates about guns and Pink Floyd and Shakespearean sonnets and Japanese eating etiquette.

Nancy 4:48 PM  

@Anoa Bob (3:54) and Anon 10:17 -- So SLURPing is polite in Japan. You learn the most interesting things on this blog. I had no idea. I also had no idea that in this country you're supposed to keep your non-eating hand under the table and completely out of sight. I know to keep my elbows off the table but that's about it. I'm sure my non-eating hand has been visible much, if not most of the time when I've eaten. I apologize to anyone I've inadvertantly offended.

Good anecdote from one of Irving Berlin's daughters that I heard in a talk a number of years ago. Her mother had rebuked her when she was a child for putting her elbows on the table. "But Daddy puts his elbows on the table," she protested. "Your father's a genius," said her mother. "He's allowed to put his elbows on the table."

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

@evil Doug:
Yes, but cars are designed (and overwhelmingly used) for transportation, just as Xacto knives are made & used mostly for crafts. You could probably kill someone with a pound of margarine, too, if you used it to obstruct their airway. Handguns and semi-automatic and automatic weapons, on the other hand, are designed and used to kill people. Period.

Two Ponies 5:22 PM  

@ Alex L. 12:51, Thanks for lyrics. Seems to be our day for it and they are appropriate.

@ Nancy, Funny quote.

There used to be a guy who put out some pretty funny videos named The Kid from Brooklyn. In his priceless accent he talked about how they used to give everyone free bats at certain ball games. He segued that thought to plane hijacking saying that he bet that would never happen in every passenger on the plane had a bat!

Aketi 5:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 6:01 PM  


Well said.

Aketi 6:38 PM  

@Nancy, I think I need to send my husband to Japan where his talent for SLURPing just about everything that he eats would be warmly embraced. Instead, I give hime three SLURPs per meal before my auditory tolerance level is exceeded.

@M&A and @Evildoug, ***** anyone else can skip and they can too if they feel so inclined ******
In the field of public health nutrition, reducing the risk of death from many nutritional problems from obesity (which is not my specialty) to vitamin A deficiency (which was my speciality) requires more than what we labeled a "magic bullet" approach. The causes are multifactorial and therefore you cannot reduce the risk of death by just adopting one intervention alone. You need to build complementary interventions. For vitamin A deficiency, that required a mix of social marketing, legislation, training of health care workers and gardeners, educations, as well as supplements in situations where availability of vitamin A rich foods was limited. Well run programs start with pilot projects and build up a set of complementary interventions. Some pilot projects will fail and that's to be expected. You often do get a tipping point when you get the right mix. Even with that you need to adapt those successful pilot projects to different areas and different populations. What works in Bangladesh will not necesarily translate directly to what works in Niger.

Taking a step back and looking at gun death, the situation is at least as complex. Depending on the media outlet, video games, heavy metal music, mental illness, religious affiliation, economic status, availability of high powered rapid firing guns are but a few of the targets the media blames. If our public health institutions were not censored from studying gun deaths we might be better able to understand how to approach the various different situations in which innocent people are killed. There are accidents, suicides, homicides, mass shootings, etc. The strategies for reducing deaths would likely be different for each. There are also many differing motivations between the perpetrators of last three. The lessons already about gun deaths learned in Australia might be challenging and perhaps impossible to adapt to the US and lessons learned in New York City might be challenging and perhaps impossible to adapt to a rural town in Arizona and vice versa. Solutions always need to be tailored to the environment.

I personally don't think anything will change unless there is campaign finance reform and a radical change in the attitudes towards basing policy on evidence. I actually think both are just about impossible. People like to feel their own opinions are right and experts are merely elitists snobs. When have politicians ever listened to anyone other than their financial supporters? I have seen some Ministers of Health gradually change their opinions and seen it result in reduced death rates but that took a lot of coordinated efforts from many organizations over a long span of time. Currently we live in a world that expects "magic bullets" or to use another term "instacures."

Teedmn 7:14 PM  

@puzzlehoarder, what a horrible and senseless way to lose a friend. I am so sorry - my heart goes out to you.

@M&A, I could get behind all of your bullets (I certainly wouldn't want to get in front of them).

After reading all the comments about US AND THEM, I checked out the song on YouTube. Of course I know the song well, I just didn't know the title (even though it comes from the first three words of the lyrics, duh.) I'm quite sure that I will never know TRAP QUEEN as completely.

MetroGnome 7:38 PM  

Guess I'm a member of Mike in Mountain View's "null set," because I knew "US AND THEM," and while I wasn't familiar with the song title "TRAP QUEEN," I do know that "Trap" is a rap/hip-hop subgenre (and a "trap house" is a drug house, at least in Chicago) . . . so it wasn't too hard to figure out.

But on the other hand -- How on earth does "Idol Group" = "MOB"?!?!!

CDilly52 7:48 PM  

Have to admit my heart wasn’t in it, but it was a good Saturday effort. My daughter and son-in-law live in Santa Rosa and have had to evacuate. They both teach and have kids and families who have lost loved ones, property and businesses. School has been out for a week and the teachers go back Tuesday for a planning day to insure that the schools have adequate support services for the children and families touched by this horrible tragedy. So very sad.

As for the puzzle, I started off poorly and went downhill from there. Threw in Brand Names and was certain it was correct followed by: Belch for SLURP, Punk for THUG, Sonic for ATEST, and Stand for ELECT. Sheesh. I did know NYNEX, UGLY BETTY, and LUTZ which gave me LEFT BRAIN and that made the NW a snap, followed by the rest which was decidedly . . . Not. Finally finished after working intermittently all day! Good Saturday workout. Here’s hoping the wind stays calm and the fires get contained.

OISK 8:07 PM  

It is satisfying to correctly finish a puzzle that contains as much "pop slop" as this one. Never heard of Trap Queen or Fatty Wap, (who I hope is not Italian), nor Choco Taco, (@Nancy - the way I pronounce it is trochaic, ) nor "Us and Them," Dark side of the Moon nor any other song or album associated with Pink Floyd. I don't know who Anita O'Day is either, but that is one of those names that I must have seen somewhere, that stuck with me. Of course I have HEARD of Pink Floyd, and understand that they are a rock group. I also know that they contain Roger Waters, whom I absolutely loathe.

Clean week for me, but this was not enjoyable for me. Also, I have never heard of an econmajor. We called those folks eco-majors in my day. Perhaps the "n" was added to avoid confusion with "Eco" as in ecology.

Chance 8:37 PM  

This was a really tough head-scratcher for me, but not complaining about the quality of the clues. Well, maybe only a few. Zeke? Like I say on my blog, he doesn't even merit a page in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz wiki!

Shelby Glidden 9:33 PM  

Anonymous, how would you describe someone
who hides behind a computer and behaves in a way that he would unlikely behave in different circumstances?

Unknown 11:38 PM  

Major mistake (at least to a real figure skater like me): the Lutz is NOT a spin, but a jump. It's named for the guy who invented it, Alois Lutz. Were it not for its obscurity, "Alois" would make great crossword fill -- all those vowels packed into such a short word! BTW, for you trivia-lovers, the Lutz is one of only three figure skating jumps that are, properly, capitalized, being named after people: the (Ulrich) Salchow and Axel (Paulsen) being the other two.

And this has been your figure skating lesson for tonight :)

Casimir 11:46 PM  

I did not find this puzzle super easy as I said earlier, but I took Dr. Colossus's advice @2:56 a.m. to try the November 11, 2006 puzzle. He was right, it took me 3x my average Saturday time and 2x what the Saturday Stumper takes me. That was a great puzzle. Thanks for the tip Dr. C!

jae 12:08 AM  

@Unknown - Thanks, I did not know that.

Beauchamp 6:16 PM  

Hah! Right, Shelby and Anon #1.
So, Anon #2, can we get your take on the banality v. profundity of, um...Fetty Wap? I know better than to feed the trolls but, lest any reading this are of Mr. Pissy Pants ilk, I must make a short rebuttal.
I’ve been listening to Dark Side of the Moon regularly since it was released and it, unlike YFL’s ill-informed hissy fits, it NEVER gets old.
Hopefully, your broad stroke dismissal of 70’s lyrics doesn’t include John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Grateful Dead, ad infinitum. Why, in 1970 alone we had the Beatles last album, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, CSNY, even the song Lola by the Kinks will outlast the twattle being dropped on us today, and which I assume you find “moving”. It “moves” me in a much more anatomical way.
We just saw Roger Waters last June and ‘Us and Them’ was the highlight for us (along with the floating pig with the face of The Donald.)
And, yes, I was in the film Zabriskie Point...

Daniel van Hemert 12:02 AM  

I'm with you! It took me two days to finish, but I did it (except for cword instead of xword) and I was proud and happy to have gotten through it. Thanks for keeping it fun and humble.

Beauchamp 12:10 AM  

Righty, right.

Ray Yuen 2:34 PM  

It's been said but I need to say it again. Dark Side of the Moon is one of the greatest albums from one of the great bands of all time. If you think "Us and Them" is an obscure answer, that's your fault--you're sheltered and unaware.

"Money" is the most commercialized song on the album, but far from the best. It's so sad that you know so little about something so great.


That was my image of your high maka maka smugness.

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spacecraft 10:12 AM  

Way, WAY DNF. Hopeless. If you're gonna throw #2 rap hits at me...well, that's the same as the first part of this sentence without the words "rap hits." And how on Earth am I supposed to know that UGLYBETTY--or any "hit" TV series--was based on a (come on now, really?) Colombian telenovela??

I got REUNES and NAMEBRANDS, and XWORD and BWAY, and then guessed at ATEATHOME. Th-th-th-that's all, folks. A Tyra Banks fan DOD for sure), I have NEVER heard the word "smizing." Of course, where she's concerned, ears are not my primary sense organs. Anyway, I hope this guy has a day job.

rondo 10:52 AM  

Didn't really time it today, but somewhere just over 15 minutes; maybe a Saturday record. One w/o with BdwY first.

Speaking of a record, USANDTHEM a gimme, though it's hard to tell where some of those songs start and end, and Brain Damage and Eclipse didn't fit. Bought DSOTM before pretty much anyone else knew what it was; on CD I still anticipate the pause where the 8-track changed to the next track, as it was put on tape to be listened to from start to finish. No messing with the content of one of the best and best-selling albums of all time. So @Z, @Mohair, @Rex and others of like mind can just put a sock in it. So can Fetty Wap; the only QUEEN I care about had Freddie Mercury on vocals.

Gotta go with the complete yeah baby TYRABANKS.

Have to rate this verrrrry easy for Saturday, hardly even ATEST.

rondo 10:59 AM  

Oh yeah, almost forgot, how did anyone not knowing the LOGARITHM clue/answer ever pass high school math?

rondo 11:03 AM  

Also forgot the split up yeah baby TARA REID, things went so fast.
3 and done.

thefogman 11:19 AM  

No cross words for this XWORD, only praise. The puzzle was quite ATEST for my LEFTBRAIN - and my whiteout tape. It was sinister and at times it was pure evil. But the kind of evil you kind of enjoy. Like Thomas and O'Brien plotting their next scheme as they puff on their smokes outside the castle. PEACE!

Burma Shave 11:29 AM  


reciting LOGARITHMs from his LEFTBRAIN stem.
His IDEA was to AMAZE like a MAGUS BRAINiac,


thefogman 11:46 AM  

IAMB sure to AMMAN you are all curious.
To see a closeup of my LEFTBRAIN just click on my avatar.

Diana, LIW 12:01 PM  

Fetty Wap? Weawwy? Even after I cheated and looked up the song, and had _R_PQUEEN in place, I had to go back and look it up again. So I looked up the song on Google. I shall not be humming that tun any time soon. Wap. Why?

But all the (many) other mistakes I made were on me, including the nefarious BDWY. GRAD instead of PROM. You get the picture.

CHOCOTACO? Never heard of that, either.

There was more. A lot more.

Gotta go take a walk.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 1:33 PM  

Challenging here. I salute you @rondo if you found this easy.

My last letters were the "A" and "K" of FLAKE. Never heard the term, and TRiPQUEEN seemed as plausible as actual answer, but pure guess there.

I actually had no write-overs, but it took a long time to get there. Should've been a little quicker, but there were many "possibles" I balked at entering, and I eventually just went for it, and, tada!, they were all right.

Tough puzzle with an enormous triumph factor, a la @Spacey. Good end to the week

leftcoastTAM 4:35 PM  

My axel had to be BENT into a LUTZ, but my LEFTBRAIN had already FLAKE[d], and TRAPQUEEN remained a total unknown.

So had to cheat to make my way out of the North, both NW and NE.

The South was like a separate puzzle. Mostly on the easy side, relatively speaking. Main problem was CLIMBS/BAJAN cross where the B square remained BLANCA. Just couldn't put anything in it that made sense to me.

Very impressed by fellow syndies who were able to finish this XWORD without error.

BS2 7:47 PM  

Substitute English for ECON and you have you-know-who.

Diana, LIW 8:07 PM  

Gee, @BS2, could it be MS?

But, as I have said, I think he is a persona. And probably pretty nice.

Lady Di, Defender of Lewis Black look alikes

Michael Leddy 9:10 PM  

@Hartley70: My dad, too, was under Anita O'Day's spell. Her voice is one of my earliest musical memories. But "The Jezebel of Jazz" seems like a real stretch for a clue, the kind of thing that someone who doesn't know much about the music might pull from the Wikipedia article (where, sure enough, it's prominent).

O'Day is the subject of an excellent documentary, Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer. It includes her performances of "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Tea for Two" from the documentary of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, Jazz on a Summer's Day. Unforgettable.

coeval 1:53 AM  

easy SATURDAY. This should have run as an average FRIDAY puzzle.19 minutes. Much faster than my average in the NYT archives. Rex merely had an off day. is there a website that ranks all the NYT crosswords by difficulty?

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