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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: none 

Word of the Day: CADENT (19A: Rhythmic) —
adj.
1. Having cadence or rhythm.
2. Archaic Falling, as water or tears. (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •


Woo hoo. Nice to end the week on a high note. Lots of lovely fill here, and that center section is really impressive—a stagger-stack of 11s crossed by a 3-wide block of 7s, and everything squeaky clean! That's just nice. The only thing that made me even half-grimace today was the weird word forms like CADENT and INCANT, which are much more familiar to me as *other* words (specifically "cadence" and "incantation"). But they're just unusual, not bad, and most everything else in this grid is either solid or sparkling. DIGICAMS feels like one of those neologisms no one actually uses. They're "digital cameras." That's how they're sold, that's what people call them. DIGICAMS sounds like your dad trying to sound with-it. Maybe I coulda done without so much definite article-ness. THE FEDS! THE BEEB! Two THEs is probably one past my THE limit. But at this point I'm actively *trying* to be a HATER, when actually I am a lover ... of this puzzle.


My time might've been much faster if I hadn't succumbed to frustration mulishness—this is when I know that I know something but can't remember it, but instead of moving on and coming back, I just sit there staring at blanks and getting angry at myself that my stupid brain won't work right. This happened right off the bat today, as I was certain I knew the mascot of Ohio University (1D: Ohio University player). I wanted FLYER ... and then something to do with tires or rubber, but that was some dumb Akron trivia interfering with my reasoning. So it turns out that Dayton (a city in Ohio!) is the FLYERS, and, well, Ohio University = the BOBCATs, and so ... yeah, I didn't know that at all, so my frustration mulishness was (as it always is) misguided. Once I let it go (finally), whaddya know, I got every single Down I looked at from TEN over to ZEDS and that NW corner opened right up. Could've saved myself some time and GRIEF if I'd just moved away from the Ohio U clue and let the rest of the grid help me out. But no.


Center was oddly easy to get into. Got both EGO TRIP and ENROBED off their first letters, and only MAJOR and DART gave me any trouble (had back ends of those answers, but needed help coming up with the fronts). SW corner was Tuesday-easy, but I screwed up turning the corner into the SE—couldn't get anything from the "T" at 50D: What suggestive dialogue may result in. Considered the dreadful and possibly not real TEHE (shortened tee hee), and semi-confirmed it with EBONY at 61A: Black piano key (G FLAT). But then nothing worked. Had to go and ride "EASY RIDER" down into that section, which then became much, much easier. Finished up in the NE corner, which, like its SW counterpart, was ridiculously easy (HATER AZERA ZAHN EPEE ... the whole thing went down fast).

Bullets:
  • 22A: Chaser of un trago de tequila (AGUA) — I wanted LIMA here (is that Spanish for "lime"?), and then I wanted whatever the Spanish word for "salt" is. "Trago" means "drink" (or "gulp," but not "shot," which is apparently "chupito," unless Google Translate is lying to me)
  • 44A: Writing form even more constrained than a tweet (HAIKU) — this is not nearly precise enough. How can you compare a letter-count constraint with a syllabic constraint? Apple, meet orange. 
  • 24D: Something only I can go on? (EGO TRIP) — man, I love this clue. Love it. 
  • 56D: "Wide-staring" one in a Wordsworth poem (OWL) — found out earlier today that Arden Reed, the professor who taught me Romantic poetry (including Wordsworth), died on Dec. 20 from an aggressive form of cancer. His criticism of my writing was invaluable, and his encouragement gave me the confidence to pursue a Ph.D. and become an English professor myself. I'm very sad that he's gone.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. there is a cluing error in Sunday's (tomorrow's) puzzle. A record was tied in the past week that turned a previously accurate clue into an inaccurate one. Apparently they didn't have enough time to fix the clue before press. Also, I'm told the digital version of the puzzle will look somewhat different than the print, though the difference should have no effect on solvability.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

97 comments:

jae 12:11 AM  

Top half easy, bottom half medium.

INtoNe before INCANT slowed down the bottom.

Lots to like here.

puzzlehoarder 12:25 AM  

Once again we have a puzzle with a tough SW corner. The rest was pretty standard Saturday level but that one corner pushed it into the challenging range. Thinking 44A was going to be another social media term was the biggest single stumbling block. Getting HAIKU really opened things up. This was a great puzzle.

@kitshef, thanks for the 2006 review link yesterday. Whatever happened that person?

Andrew Heinegg 12:29 AM  

Nice effort from Mr. Wentz; I bumbled into a aided completion or, to be truthful, a dnf from the SW after so much of the rest was inferable and satisfying. I couldn't get away from a bad decision to stick with digitals for the Kodak competition. Without that, I was kayoed. But, a good little exercise until I got knocked out.

Randall Clark 12:51 AM  

Guessed cAHN/AcERA, but knew that must be the problem when I got the Almost There message. Finally figured out the Z, but I'm still not sure why I hadn't heard of the Hyundai Azera. After a double Natick Thursday and a BOOb for BOOR yesterday, I was just very happy to avoid the DNF.

chefwen 2:11 AM  

Rex, are you high? Never have I seen you so pleased.

Loved DARE TO DREAM, loved the puzzle. Hate LITTER BOXES, have cleaned enough of those to last a lifetime. Here Kitty can roam free without predators so the little beauty does her business outdoors. Gotta love it.

Hillsborough 3:29 AM  

He would have panned it if it had been a pangram. Glad it wasn't.

Anonymous 3:58 AM  

Exactly my process, @RClark, with the c to Z. If you can believe it, lil chillun, this was the mood of the blog, I think, as often as not when I first started solving some seven or so years ago. Puzzles were a little better then maybe. I look forward to a question about the John clue so as I can shudder (uncharitably) at somebody’s NT illiteracy.

Sydney Joe From Kokomo 3:59 AM  

Pretty good Saturday puzzle, but there sure were a lot of spooky words: VOODOODOLL, INCANT, GRIEF, STRIFE, DARTGUN, ENRAGE, etc. You could write a short story around that right there, and have a Murder with a CAPITALM and involve THEFEDS. Now it's practically a movie script. Let's all write it together and we can split up the money 100 ways.
Did you know that in Southern Cal bowling, if you draw a firearm during league play it contravenes a number of the league's BYLAWs? It does so don't do it. Just say no to guns. I once saw a car that had a bumper sticker that said "Hugs Not Drugs" and I thought well why the heck not "Hugs AND Drugs." That has nothing to do with guns or bowling.
BRAKEFLUID is a nice word; also, that stuff is very useful.
Is that really how you spell WOOLLY? I'm not sure.
Did you ever see EASYRIDER? Phil Spector played the guy in the car. They did the drug deal at the end of a runway because nobody suspects a Bentley parked at the end of a runway it happens every day.
I'll get started on the script and then I'll IM you the details when it's your turn. Ciao babe.

Dolgo 4:03 AM  

LITTER BOXES and VOODOO DOLL were the most clever clues today. OK, yeah, CADENT, INCANT, ENROBED and a few others fit the definitions, but who ever uses such words in normal conversation? Sure, if you look them up, they are in the dictionary. Hey, gang, can't we be a be a bit reasonable? This kind of thing is getting to be almost too prevalent. It's almost like as bad as recycling words lie OREO with outlandish clues!

andrea carla michaels 4:40 AM  

Awful to lose a mentor, condolences :(

Love Pete Wentz puzzles... Tho DNF bec of DIGItals even tho I knew KATEY had to be right.
Couldn't get TVPG even tho I narrowed it down to A B C D E or F FLAT (is there such a thing?) but never considered G!

@Sydney Joe@3:59am There's a new doc on EASYRIDER's DP... Is that true about Phil Spector?! This kind of trivia is why i love blogs like this !

I had lugE before ÉPÉE which is always a fascinating Summer Olympic sport!

Thank Q, Peter Wentz!

Anonymous 4:45 AM  

C and f FLAT ain’t black.

Loren Muse Smith 5:00 AM  

Rex – exactly my “salt,” “lima” AGUA progression.

Love THE BEEB. Miss My Word and the brilliant Dennis Norden, Frank Muir, Anne Scott-James, and Dilys Powell.

@Andrew Heinegg – yeah. I wanted “digitals” first, too.

@Randall Clark - I went with “Cahn/Acera” and stayed with it since I solve with pencil and paper.

@jae – me, too, for “intone” first.

@ACME – your “luge” quip made me laugh!

“Wiper” fluid before BRAKE FLUID. My go-to break fluid is the darkest roast coffee I can find. I love that burnt flavor.

My avatar is that OWL, Martha, I’ve written about who is the head foster owl at a rescue center where my daughter worked. Sage said she does a great job fostering other owls and helping them learn owl skills so that they can be re-introduced into the wild. Sage says she’s a bit of a bitch. Not in the “female dog meaning,” but in the newer meaning. Just to be clear.

How can we not notice the O party with VOODOO DOLL? Think anyone sells VOODOO DOLLS DOOR TO DOOR? Then I remembered WALLA Walla Wa. Hah.

My biggest goof was misspelling MAJOR “lable.” Didn’t even notice it until the very end and was considering a weird movie, “Lasy River.” FWIW, I never can spell tassel, tinsel, or snorkel.

The clue for WALTZ is great. You know how you stare off and imagine yourself doing cool things that you’ll never really do? Besides playing the opening trumpet part for the William Tell Overture with the London Philharmonic, my next best day dream is wearing a flowy chiffon dress with feathers at the hem and dancing the WALTZ with George Clooney. But not to “Moon River.” Nope – gotta be the much more difficult, faster, more technical Viennese Waltz to the Blue Danube. It’s my plan to be play it a little bit haughty but still approachable. My life would pretty much be complete. Sigh. DARE TO DREAM.

I found this one pretty tough. In fact, early on, I thought I’d be decimated, but I did the math; 225 squares, 34 black, so of the 191 squares to be filled in, I’d have to have 19.1 blank to consider myself decimated. In the end, I just had 1 wrong square. So that’s not even 1%, barely unimated? (But actually, if I had had 19.1 squares unfilled before throwing in the towel, I truly would have felt decimated.)

TonySaratoga 5:44 AM  

Loved it. Challenging, fair, great middle stack.

Theodore Stamos 6:10 AM  

This one must have been on my wavelength because I solved it in my normal Wednesday time. A rare Saturday for me!

JJ 6:43 AM  

I thought I'd be the only who would have hurriedly filled in LUGE. Somehow I ignored summer. The only gimmes in the SW were KATEY Sagal crossed with the newsworthy Brit- KATE. It took forever to figure that one out. There are very few gimmes in life.

Lewis 6:48 AM  

@acme -- FYI, F flat would be E which is a white key.

DARETODREAM is a lovely lovely puzzle centerpiece. Peter, if you dared to dream for a rave from Rex, your dream came true.

WAFTS is a gorgeous word, and a puzzle rich in clever cluing (THEBEEB, EGOTRIP, LITTERBOXES, VOODOODOLL, WALTZ, ZEDS) is a gorgeous experience. I liked TAKEAIMAT by DARTGUN, and my "intone" for INCANT held me up for a bit. Overall, just what I love in solving: Huh's followed by oh!'s and oofs followed by ooh!'s. Great one, Peter!

Rex Parker 7:10 AM  

Thanks, Andrea (4:40)

RP

Hungry Mother 8:01 AM  

Very nice one today. (Of course that means I got it.) Finished it before my second cup of coffee was gone.

QuasiMojo 8:11 AM  

Sorry to hear of the loss of one of your favorite teachers, Rex. They play such important roles in our development. I had one similar to yours in college but I did not follow her advice to become a professor. I often wonder what my life would be like if I had. Not sour grapes, just curiosity.

FLITS before WAFTS (don't ask); MOVIE STUDIO before MAJOR LABELS; STEVE before KATEY; ORB before OWL; INTONE before INCANT; etc. Some nice misdirects. Loved the clues for Voodoo Doll and Litter Boxes. Nice plug for the Dreamers. Would love to visit RENO again. POWER LEVEL made me clutch my POWER BALL ticket. Fingers crossed.

One query, dearie, can't WE be on an ego trip?

mathgent 8:43 AM  

Very tough for me.. I needed The Closer again. Nine entries were either not in my mental database at all (PLINKO, AZERA, DIGICAM) or were there but in a dark corner (CADENT, INCANT, HUME,POWERLEVEL,BOBCAT,LENOVO). @puzzlehoarder (12:25): SW was my major roadblock, as well.

A wonderful puzzle. I think that I always like Peter Wentz creations. But Will Shortz and the gang should have come up with a better clue for JEER ("Foul call.")

Do park rangers really use DARTGUNS? To neutralize bears?

I Googled "British politician Hume" after I finished to learn what HUME we were talking about. But none of the answers have been in the news for a long time. I guess it refers to the TV journalist, Brit Hume. Nice clue. I saw him a few times on Fox News during the election. Very impressive guy.

SPORT reminded me of Gatsby.

Sorry for your loss, Rex.

John Child 8:45 AM  

DIGItAlS and INtoNE did me in - DNF after a long streak because I couldn’t find TVPG. This felt like a lot like the 90s themelesses I’ve been doing from the archives. That is most emphatically not a complaint. Themeless puzzles were harder then IMO and relied often on odd words like CADENT. They make good learning experiences.

mathgent 8:50 AM  

@QuasiiMojo (8:11): RENO is not the town it used to be. It's gotten pretty bleak and seedy. Many of the casinos have been shuttered.
They blame the California Indian casinos.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Thanks for sharing about your professor, Rex. Didn't know the Azera or Plinko. The East troubled me the most.

Thomaso808 9:01 AM  

Fun puzzle today and really good blog by Rex.

Sorry for your loss, Michael, and thanks for including that link to the Arden Reed article.

My favorite word today was PLINKO. It’s onomatopoeic in English, right? But it’s also got to be a play on the name of the Japanese game Pachinko. Which led me to look it up and sure enough, Pachinko is onomatopoeic in Japanese, too.

@Sydney Joe, funny stuff! Do you know @Bob in Accounting?

Mohair Sam 9:05 AM  

Agree with Rex and all y'all - this was one terrific Saturday puzzle.

I loved that CHICHI was in the puzz, great sound. So many good clues, but EGOTRIP stood out. No problem at all with the forms of CADENT and INCANT, it's a Saturday puzzle - you're expected to think a little. PLINKO a new term for us, but the crosses were fair. Tried "Mark" and "Luke" at 10A until Lady M joined the solvefest and laughed at me while entering ACTS. She saved the day with CAPITALM too - pairs solving makes things a lot easier. Outside of the philosopher I thought I didn't know any HUME, took a while to "aha" the newsman.

I saw "Easy Rider" when it came out and again a few years ago, didn't enjoy it either time - "Five Easy Pieces" should be the signature movie from that era. Conservative commentator and movie critic Michael Medved claims he saw "Easy Rider" while at Yale. His movie date? - Hillary Rodham.

As good as Saturday puzzles get, thanks Peter Wentz.

Z 9:10 AM  

Condolences, Rex.

I had a BOBCAT blockage as well, only mine was the Fighting Gobies of Case Western. Why my brain wanted to muddle OU and Case Western is just one of those neuronic mysteries we all endure while solving. Good advice, though, don't stop, go on and come back. Not thinking about it is often the quickest path to rightness. Or is that righteousness? Whatever.

Nice misdirect on Brit HUME. "Noted" in the clue had me pondering if I knew any four letter scandalous British singers. Adele and Sheehan both seem scandal free (unless you find Sheeran's popularity itself a little scandalous) and are too long. I got HUME from the crosses and the light finally flickered on.

A fine puzzle that left me wondering if G-NOMEs write all their music in G Flat.

kitshef 9:30 AM  

I’ve only heard cater-corner or sometimes catty-corner. Where the heck did kitty-corner come from?

Hmm … after some research, while there is a lot of overlap, kitty-corner seems to be more northern and midwestern. Growing up in Maryland, I’m pretty sure I never heard the kitty version.

The sound was originally the French 'quatre', so I'm guessing kitty-corner is either the most evolved or most debased, depending what spin you want to put on it.

Mostly easy, but spend a couple of minutes in the (according to Rex, ridiculously easy) NE worrying over some damn car I’ve never heard of crossing ZAHN, who I have heard of, barely, and had to think a while about AlERA/lAHN, kAHN/AkERA and bAHN/AbERA.


Vicky Smith 9:32 AM  

@LMS - You are the biggest reason I read this blog every day. Thanks for the laugh.

The Rhino 9:40 AM  

I loved this puzzle so hard I was afraid to come to this blog in case Rex was in a bad mood. Loved EASYRIDER, loved the clues for HUME and ZEDS and HAIKU. I used to be a vestment-wearing pastor so I loved ENROBED and, to a lesser extent, ACTS.

Sure it doesn't mean much yet, but still: Best puzzle of the year!

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

azera/zahn was a natick for me. I really, really wish constructors would avoid crossing two proper nouns.

Teedmn 9:46 AM  

Good GRIEF - here I was feeling all superior, that I zoomed through this Saturday puzzle with almost no write-overs about 10 minutes short of my average (just changed KATie to KATEY). I opened up Rex's blog and there was the Z that I had left as a C - I was just running on "common names" autopilot there - I have heard of Paula Zahn but not the AZERA. And for the record, I do not watch any TV news. Ever. So all I know of these celeb TV journalists is from crosswords or print news.

So I'm going along, reading the comments, and I see someone mention PLINKO - gah! I had PLINgO crossing ANgLES because every carpenter knows you brace the angles of the...ahem.

So I decided to write my comment before I found anything else I had to confess to :-).

@LMS, nice riff on "decimate". I have lately tried to quit using decimate unless I'm talking 10% damage but that's just my personal choice. I also stay away from saying something made me feel nauseous because I have a co-worker who will reply to that, "It's good of you to admit it". So I stick to "nauseated" and try not to be nauseous or noxious to my fellow humans.

I loved seeing WOOLLY caterpillars - wonder where they're hiding in these below zero temps (17 below here this morning but Sunday, it will be near 30 above, yay). Thanks Peter Wentz, nice Saturday puzzle.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Interesting.
Nothing clicked.
Must check my biorhythm chart...

Nancy 9:54 AM  

I knew her name wasn't cAHN or kAHN. Paula hAHN rang a bell. So I went with that famous high-end Hyundai: AhERA. Which didn't sound right, but I never thought of ZAHN/AZERA. You all already know that I don't know the names of just about any stupid car models. Well, I don't watch early morning television, either.

I also Naticked on TV PG/G FLAT. I had TV PA/A FLAT. I thought PA was for something along the lines of "Parent Alert" or "Parent Advisory". And all black keys are flats, right? Or are some of them SHARPS, only?

I might have also Naticked on the PLINKO/LENOVO cross, but I guessed correctly and didn't. For which I'm grateful. Two Naticks in one puzzle are more than enough.

Loved the clues for WALTZ (5A); HAIKU (44A); EGO TRIP (24D); EASY RIDER (35D) and VOODOO DOLL (54A). Love the word WAFTS (which gave me WALTZ, btw.) Like the phrase DARE TO DREAM. Think MAJOR LABELS is a ridiculous answer for 33A. I wanted MOVIE-something-or-other. Anyone else?

Mostly a lively, fun puzzle -- fairly easy except where it wasn't.



Amie Devero 9:56 AM  

Me too. DNF due to SE corner. Power level and g flat (got stuck thinking generally -- like sharps, flats, etc-- and couldn't snap out of it).

Roo Monster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
An easy SatPuz! Wow, that doesn't happen to me a lot. So that's how great puzzlers feel! Nice.

Just a few stumbles. That TVPG messed me up. Had TVma, thinking aFLAT was fine, but mOWERLEVEL looked odd. Got the "Almost there" message, hit Check Puzzle, saw the m-a crossed out (OOF M&A!), changed M to P, and still had to alphabet run to the G. Huh, like some of you said, when the ole brain doesn't want to work, it just won't come up with the answer. So a ratsa-fratsa DNF on an otherwise easy puz.

Writeovers, (@QuasiMojo 8:11) fliTS-WAFTS, ebony-GFLAT, mInICAM-DIGICAM, shotGUN-DARTGUN (maybe in a bad forest?), vaPID-TEPID.

Too bad Peter couldn't have squeezed a Q in somewhere. But a nice, no dreck, open puz! Feeling all ROSY about it.

The BOBCAT LEAD UP
to the WAFTS of THE FEDS COAT
The DART GUN was gone

Har, a little animal revenge HAIKU there for ya!

TEPID GRIEF
RooMonster
DarrinV

Thomaso808 10:02 AM  

@Z it’s Ed Sheeran, and autocorrect tried to change that to “Sheehan” for me, too, and then “She ran”. Grrr.

His song “Thinking Out Loud” was listed by Spotify as the #1 wedding song last year. I’m thinking out loud that his new song “Perfect” that you linked to is going to be the new #1 pretty soon. I have a daughter getting married in May so I’m trying to get prepared!

Bob Mills 10:03 AM  

Once I changed "LEADIN" to "LEADUP," I was OK. Really good puzzle to finish (guessed right on "LENOVO" and "PLINKO" cross.

Jonathan Alexander 10:13 AM  

Rex's observation about the haiku being syllabic vs. length made me wonder if you could actually create a haiku that could not fit into a single (140 character variety) tweet. Assuming you only use the longest monosyllabic words, you have 17 syllables total and sixteen spaces between words leaving your words to have to have and average word length of ~7.3 letters per syllable.

Anyone game?

GILL I. 10:20 AM  

My only OOF Was the damn Z/C. I forgot about Paula ZAHN.
I did have trouble seeing KATEY Sagal since we've never met. That whole little SW corner was my only hangup. The Chesterfield clue had me scratching the head. I kept wanting to put cigs in that slot. Then I went ahead and penned in sofa and, well, it was a mess. CHICHI saved my bacon. Erased everything as best I could and finished her up with the very clever Brit HUME.
@Rex. A shot IS a trago. Chupito might be a sip in Mexico or it might be a teething ring in Spain - although I think it's called a chupete. Just don't use cajon (chest of drawers) in Colombia. You think English is bad!
@mathgent. I watch the Price is Right all the time. When I go to our local gym, it's always on and I watch it doing my mile walk on the treadmill. I think Bob Barker said that PLINKO was so named because of the plinking sound the chips make while sliding down. That's my favorite game. The other one I like is when you roll the dice to win a car. HIGHER or LOWER? I amaze myself at the dumbest things that make me happy.
@Quasi. @mathgent is right about RENO. It's awful. Seedy doesn't even begin to describe what was once a fun place to visit and to eat good Basque food. Now, the drunks and the poor homeless occupy the parks and the closed casino doorways. It's filthy as well. ;-(
Love VOODOODOLL. I've told the story before but every time I see one of those things, I'm reminded of our maid in Caracas. She had one that looked suspiciously like my mom. She had a thing for my dad so she'd stick pins in the mom-like doll. It didn't work. Mom fired her.
Thanks for the ROSY puzzle, PW. You made me sing Moon River from start to finish. I'm not sure I'd WALTZ to it though.

Outside The Box 10:22 AM  

Fun puzzle! Best fill I’ve seen in a long time.

sanfranman59 10:24 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 5:00 4:03 1.23 88.3% Challenging
Tue 4:29 5:35 0.80 9.5% Easy
Wed 5:45 5:57 0.97 49.6% Medium
Thu 17:44 10:28 1.69 97.1% Very Challenging
Fri 14:41 11:42 1.25 79.4% Medium-Challenging
Sat 11:34 17:21 0.66 10.9% Easy

Peter Wentz usually slows me down and at one time, I rarely finished one of his Saturday puzzles. I was shocked to zip through this one until I was completely stumped by the PLINKO/ANKLE crossing where, like Teedmn, I went with PLINgO (thinking variation on Bingo) and ANgLE (carpentry) and then went looking elsewhere for a mistake.

Alexander Grimwade 10:28 AM  

Your outdoor Kitty IS the predator.

TubaDon 10:35 AM  

Started off with a bang at WAFTS and WALTZ. Came to a screeching halt at PLINKO and INCANT, which I'd never heard of before.

QuasiMojo 10:40 AM  

Thanks @mathgent and @gill for the sad news about Reno. I was there in the 70s. I guess it’s now like Atlantic City was in the 70s. Seedy and dangerous. Venice Beach used to be that way too. I am now living in a place that used to be down and out but is now a boom town. Go figure. Hopefully Reno will have its day in the sun again. Forgot to mention I had Kate before Hume. That was a fave clue too. I second the comment about 5 Easy Pieces. Oh, and I misread Precious as Precocious. Couldn’t squeeze in wunderkind. And isn’t beer a chaser? Oh and I’ve known a few misanthropes who were great LOVERS, too.

Nancy 10:42 AM  

Hey, @GILL (10:20) -- Now we've got all female barbershop quartet. @Teedman sings, and quite well. (I've heard her in person.) @Malsdemare spoke on the blog just last week about having a pretty fair voice. I sing. And now I find out that you just sang "Moon River" from start to finish. We can put that on the album. We will need some male voices, though. Any volunteers?

@Mohair (9:05)-- It's refreshing to find someone else of my era, more or less, who didn't like EASY RIDER. I felt it was shot in slow motion by someone who was strung out on drugs during the entire shoot, and that it was completely unwatchable unless you were high yourself. (Drugs have never been my thing and I wasn't.) Like you, I thought Five Easy Pieces was a much better film. (I think Nicholson trying to order toast in the diner is one of the great classic movie scenes.)

I see that my two Natick spots presented problems for a great many other people today. Misery loves company, and I'm therefore delighted :)

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

I'm guessing this was a morning solve for Rex. His attitude is so Rosy and pleasant. Even a personal appearance! Hi Rex.

I was part of the target demographic when Easy Rider came out but I didn't fall for it. I tried to watch it a few years ago but couldn't make it to the end.

Thanks for the Ohio Players video. Nice to see a group having fun and actually playing their own instruments.

Roller Coaster describes my solving today. Some ups, some downs, and lots of fun.

JC66 10:52 AM  

Standard Saturday for me...my biggest problem was throwing in LEvOnO at 41D at first.

@LMS I clicked on your Blue Danube link. planning to listen to it while I continued reading the comments, but couldn't stop watching the fabulous dancing. I highly recommend it.

@RP My condolences.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

I thought the HAIKU clue was fair. It is not just letters vs. syllables. Haikus have additional constraints that are much more constraining than a tweet (reference to seasons, juxtaposition). In short, it is much more difficult to construct a haiku than a tweet.

Just sayin'.

Birchbark 11:12 AM  

INCANT HAIKU to adjust VOODOO DOLL POWER LEVEL.

I live down the road from the William O'Brien State Park, so confidently went with blowGUN over DARTGUN. Rangers here use blowguns to counter the GNOME uprisings, which happen every few years when a deep cold spell combines with a waning super moon. I'm told that the element of surprise is crucial.

@SydneyJoe (any relation to @JoeBleaux?) -- nice Big Lebowski BYLAWS play. Throwaway lines from that film inform so much of everyday experience.

Jamie C 11:13 AM  

I plunked down "ENVELOPE" right away for the "gmail symbol." Clever me...

JJ_Rural_MO 11:20 AM  

Had to use the check cheat to figure out that it was ANKLES that used braces, not ANgLES, since PLINgO seemed as plausible as PLINKO.
Re: proper use of "decimate" - https://www.merriam-webster.com/video/is-it-wrong-to-use-decimate-to-mean-destroy
(sorry - couldn't figure out how to paste as hypertext)

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:22 AM  

I guess this is the new deal. NYT offers us mostly crap during the week, on Saturdays it's like "hey, I know, I'm sorry, look what I got you!" This was delightful to solve, almost perfect.

Almost all the entries feel fresh. When your most problematic crossing is AZERA/ZAHN, then you have done a very good job with your fill. There is a little glue, but that's very negligible given that the puzzle offers us a lot of substantial, 5+ letter stuff. The trickiness of SE was brilliant. "There surely can't be this many Os in an ans... VOODOODOLL! Sticking point!" See, you can throw some tricks the solver's way without resorting to proper nouns! BYLAW, HAIKU, WAFTS... I had no idea what PLINKO was, but it was gettable from the crossings. That makes for a smooth solving experience.

MAJORLABELS, LITTERBOXES, VOODOODOLL, BRAKEFLUID, POWERLEVEL... These are all amazing entries. Fresh with some high-Scrabble point lettters in them.

Oh, and all this is already enough but the constructors also cared about the clues! "Something good for Charlie Brown?" All smiles. "Writing form even more constrained than a tweet," "Noted Brit in the news," "Deal breakers, for short?" Good stuff.

Yeah, I think I'm in love with this puzzle.

GRADE: A+, 4.65 stars.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:30 AM  

Wait, I forgot to mention "Something only I can go on?" and "What suggestive dialogue may result in." Brilliant clues.

What a great puzzle.

CashPo' 11:31 AM  

"Ruin" like "decimate" is one of those words that has taken on, ahem, new meanings. :)

old timer 11:42 AM  

Total DNF in the SW. Even after I cheated to find KATEY Sagal. The only Sagal I know is Peter, host of Wait Wait. Never heard of DIGICAMS. Forgot a chesterfield can be a COAT as well as a couch, a cigarette, and a famous Earl. Never could have guessed INCANT. Certainly never saw that Brit HUME is literally an Englishman in the news (and shouldn't he speak with more of an accent?

I am in awe at those who found this easy,

QuasiMojo 11:48 AM  

I think he’s just Brit, not a Brit. @oldtimer. @Nancy, I can sing a bit.

Trombone Tom 11:49 AM  

Refreshing and fun. However I was DNF due to staying with DIGItAlS (Hi, @Andrew Heinegg). It didn't help that I had no clue about KATEY, either.

Condolences, @Rex.

GoodOldDad 11:50 AM  

Fun puzzle overall. Only stumble for me was not accepting the grammatically troublesome LOANOUT which, however, merely conforms to current usage where "lend" (verb) is often replaced by "loan" (noun). Nice Saturday.

Sir Hillary 11:57 AM  

Seeing a Peter Wentz byline always makes me smile. His themelesses deliver every single time, and this one is no different.

Had TVma at first, as I don’t know my piano keys, but mOWERLEVEL made no sense, so it was easily fixed.

For some reason, BRAKEFLUID is my favorite entry. It just looks cool. I couldn’t find it in my car if you paid me!

To me, MAJORLABELS is a little green-paintish. I thought it would be MusicLABELS. Small nit though.

CHICHI reminds me to watch “The Chi” starting tomorrow on Showtime. It looks great.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

FYI, "salt" in Spanish is "sal." No help.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

I got Naticked and didn't realize it. I figured ANgLES are a reasonable place to put braces, and I'm afraid my cultural literacy doesn't extend to PLINgO.

bookmark 12:07 PM  

@Rex, Thank you for introducing me to your late professor Arden Reed. I was intrigued by the article and found a fascinating talk by him on May 31, 2017, at the Chicago Humanities Festival on his recent book Slow Art: The Experience of Looking. You can find it on YouTube: Slow Art in the Age of Instant Everything. What a great loss to you and his students.

Anoa Bob 12:13 PM  

Not much of a tequila drinker---most of them taste like BRAKE FLUID to me---but I would think anyone chasing a tequila with AGUA would get a lot of SNEERS and GRIEF, maybe a JEER or two, from fellow drinkers. Lime with salt seems to be the go to chaser. (Maybe a regional thing, but hereabouts lime is limón and lemon is limón amarillo, i.e., yellow lime.)

Loved, loved, loved EASY RIDER!!!!! (Hi Acme!) I thought its rough, almost home movie feel gave it a raw authenticity that was very powerful. It had a huge cultural impact that probably would not be as EASY to appreciate by later generations.

My pick for Jack's best role would be in The Last Detail, where he plays the saltiest of salts, Billy "Badass" Buddusky.

Kimberly 12:16 PM  

Proud of the positivity.

My curiosity is piqued that love is inspired by the banal, but to each his own.

Odd Sock 12:17 PM  

I will stick to the morally superior high road of angles/plingo.
I am happier with not knowing the game show than avoiding a DNF.
What a snob I can be at times.

GHarris 12:20 PM  

Couldn’t believe how briskly I flew through the top and middle,congratulating myself on reaching a new power level. Then I went down South and I mean down. Ran into, among other things, the real power level and never recognized it. Started with ebony, hung up on digitals, had intone and didn’t spot the really clever Brit clue. Never heard of Plinko and the only Katey I know is a princess. Oh, and it didn’t help to have misspelled wooley.

Loren Muse Smith 12:25 PM  

@GoodOldDad – I used to think that LOAN’s usage as a verb was pretty recent, too, until a former stalwart contributor here (and current dear friend) @Bob Kerfuffle enlightened me.

I’ll be seeing @Bob this March, along with lots of other Rexites at the Stamford Marriott. I’m sure @Bob, @imsdave, me, and others will be hanging out in the hotel lobby (or bar) Friday right after lunch. Bob’ll be the one in the red parrot Hawaiian shirt. Dave’ll be the one smiling and being his affable self. I’ll be the one scanning the room for a Patrick Berry sighting. (I mean, you know, PB just might know how to do the Viennese Waltz…)

The ACPT is a hoot. Please consider attending, and if you do, please go to the trouble to seek us out. We’re not the snobby little clique we seem to play here on the blog. I swear.

And don’t be all afraid of competing; do sign up as a competitor. You’ll have a much richer experience that way. It’s so much more than “competing.” Out of 600 some odd people every year, I’m usually stinking it up in the bottom half. I don’t care. I’m there to hang out with word nerds.

GILL I. 12:34 PM  

@Nancy...Hah! Barbershop Quartet or Nonet? I'm not so sure about my voice anymore although I sing a lot. I started out as a Mezzo then went into Contralto mode and if @Quasi can hold the tenor part, I'll pick up the Baritone slot after a good shot of whiskey.
Funny about EASY RIDER. I saw it during a visit to New York City while visiting my brother. He was a very talented musician that thought pot brought out the best in him. He was stoned a lot but still managed to lead a very fruitful life - plus, he was loads of fun to be around. Franco had put the fear of death into me if ever I should be caught with the stuff so.....EASY RIDER was great for the stoners and down-right scary for the rest of us. I'd probably like it a lot more now that I live in California, The Sanction State and now Home of Happy Pot Heads lead by none other than Governor Moonbeam.

Monty Boy 12:41 PM  

Only one lookup AZERA, one misspelling (WOOLeY) and haven't heard of LENOVO computers. For me, that's a great Saturday.

Buggy Bunny 12:51 PM  

*a* black key is any *SHARP* (or FLAT, but that doesn't fit) note. that's a cheatin clue.

Battyink 12:58 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith - I just had a voodoo doll salesman knock on my door. Of course I refused but why do I suddenly have a splitting headache?

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Can someone explain the clue to 15D?

Carola 1:12 PM  

Not easy for me and a fun one to match wits with. Liked INCANT, CADENT, CHICHI, and WOOLLY ANKLES, more TEPID about MAJOR LABELS and CAPITAL M. DNF at A?ERA x ?AHN.

Buggy Bunny 1:17 PM  

"Can someone explain the clue to 15D?"

it's the description of the 10 ball in a pool set.

Jackie 1:26 PM  

I don't know . . . AZERA / ZAHN was a Natick for me.

Charles Flaster 1:46 PM  

Loved it.
DNF at ZAHN.
Great cluing as others have noted.
Rex—“A good teacher learns from his students”.
Thanks PW

lacarreno 1:48 PM  

@Rex "22A: Chaser of un trago de tequila (AGUA) — I wanted LIMA here (is that Spanish for "lime"?), and then I wanted whatever the Spanish word for "salt" is. "Trago" means "drink" (or "gulp," but not "shot," which is apparently "chupito," unless Google Translate is lying to me)"

Typical tequila chaser is "Sangrita," a tomato juice and spices concoction. "Lime" in Spanish is "Limón" ("Lemon" is "Lima," go figure). "Chupito" I've only heard it in Spain to mean a shot or a quick drink. As a Mexican, I would never use "agua" as a chaser. Maybe beer. Then again, I wouldn't "do" shots. Good tequila is sipped. Cuervo Gold tastes like gasoline, so yeah, you can just chug it. And then drink lots of water. You'll need it.

Thank you, Rex, for this blog. I'm still REALLY slow at puzzles, but I'm not as intimidated, and my English vocabulary is a lot better because of you :)

Masked and Anonymous 1:52 PM  

As themeless pups go, this lil nipper was hard to beat.
VOODOODOLLs (Stickin points) …

* AZERA/ZAHN. Pleased to meet U folks. I tried my best, with ACERA/CAHN.
* LENOVO/PLINKO. Beats m&e.
* KATEY/HUME. Guessed this one right, after a nanoseconds-fest worth of binge-starin.
* MAJORLABELS. LABELS? Like, record labels? I seem to recall a Warner Bros. record label. I think Peter Pull and Marry were on that.
* ENROBED/PDFS. har

staff weeject pick: LIU. M&A's first-entry word into this hide-beater. It was delayed several nanoseconds, becuz I thought "Moon River" was what U CROSS (in style, some day), which was off by wider than a mile.

fave fillins: DARETODREAM. BRAKEFLUID. HAIKU. VOODOODOLL. WOOOLLLY. EASYRIDER [got this one off nuthin but the box top number].
Nice EGOTRIP clue, too boot.

Thanx, Peter Waltz dude. [Nice try, but NED WHITEsales came closer.] But Holy Point-blank, Wentzman. U really lean hard on that there no-theme side of the border. 29 NYTPuzs, 25 of em themelesses. [U sure are mighty good at it, tho.]

Masked & Anonymo4Us

p.s.
Primo bullets, @RP. Sincerely am sorry about your mentor's passing. Great teachers are a precious thing.

Joe Dipinto 2:18 PM  

Yes it's usually performed in 3/4 time, but "Moon River" would have to be played at a pretty brisk clip in order to waltz to it. My first impulse was to put in CHA CHA, since the last track on the "Breakfast At Tiffany's" soundtrack is the "Moon River Cha Cha". Oops, not enough boxes. Too bad -- it would have made a nice visual counterpoint to CHI CHI in the southwest.

"Sport" as a term of address always reminds me of Jay Gatsby. Didn't he call Nick Carraway "old sport?"

I figured 16a had to be Paula Zahn, even though I never heard of an Azera. I kept waiting for THE FUZZ to show up, what with EASY RIDER making an appearance. All in all, not an overly difficult solve, and enjoyable to boot.

Luke 3:36 PM  

My stupidities: off the first O, thought "maybe Lenovo?" Got the V, "could it be Lenovo?" Got the N, "Might be Lenovo." Got the second O, "I'm still not sure. Maybe Lenovo." Also: Had AcERA and was finished with the puzzle, and went through the alphabet. Abera? Adera? At about W went "Oh, is it Azera?" Also: have many OU friends and could picture the logo. Wildcat and cougar didn't fit. Also: "What does Charlie Brown say? 'Oh bother'? That doesn't help."

Airymom 3:40 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith--after your waltz with George Clooney, I have the next dance. No waltzing...he and I will dance to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On". Don't tell my kids.

Two Ponies 3:55 PM  

@ M&A, You're in top form today.
Channeling you're inner Tony Bennett?
Between you and Sydney Joe I am officially in stitches.

Another sign of rosy optimism on the blog-
Rex and Andrea are on speaking terms again.

Big Jim 3:58 PM  

Had PLINgO/ANgLE instead of PLINKO/ANKLE in the southeast corner. Guess I should watch more game shows...

Chip Hilton 4:33 PM  

I loved this puzzle, but came here just to comment on the comments. Apparently a great puzzle brings out the affability in everyone. Nary a foul word spoken. Nice.

William Coddington 5:06 PM  

You, human being, are the predator.
Signed,
Kitty

Shelby Glidden 5:19 PM  

@Rex Parker, Jonathan Alexander 10:13 AM.
Mentor

One who shares
what he knows
without need
of acknowledgement
and a smile.

@Anonymous 1:01 PM The 10-ball of the set of 15 balls used in pool is white with a blue stripe.

OISK 5:28 PM  

I'm the lonely "nay" vote. I DNF at Zahn with Azera. Had I tried every letter, I might have gotten it, but AZERA ? A car model crossing a CNN anchor? (I admit I have heard of her). Brit in the news? I got Hume, but the only Hume I know is David, and he's been dead for over 200 years. Someone explain? Don't like TVPG crossing G flat, although I got it. A brand name, Lenovo, crossing PLINKO. What the heck is Plinko? I guess Moon River is a waltz...

Sorry. 26 across yesterday. BAH!

Masked and Anonymous 5:28 PM  

yo, @Two Ponies. yep. I am indeed feelin in better form -- just fixed up the swivel chair in my computer room so that its casters will spin free-ishly again. Chair had become a fight for me to move around in, and now it's my Huckleberry friend.

Ever wonder why that song waterway is called "Moon River"? Do boaters along there drop trou a lot? Maybe it's one of them metaphors for somethin else? A play on words for "Main Stream", or somesuch? Confuses the M&A. But, hey -- it ain't what's keeping m&e up nights. What spooks me while lie/layin (yo, @muse) there in the dark is the schlock flicks I saw earlier in the eve … or also, on other nights, the whole paradox of Infinity concept.

Livin in an Infinity situation just don't seem right … but here we are, splatzed right into the middle of this "Infinite" Universe. How does that work? The upkeep on that's gotta be staggerin. And … if the Universe ain't Infinite, then how's that work? Is there an El Trumpo wall at the border? Makes no day-um sense. M&A's theory: the actual answer to all this is Infinitely complicated, so we're all screwed -- even that DeGrasse Tyson dude -- as far as ever figurin out what's goin on. But, I digress.
Screw it. At least my chair works.

Two great shlock flicks to report, from last Fr-Nite's fest…
* "Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster". primo.
* "The Crater Lake Monster". har.
* Batman and Robin serial (1949) - first 2 chapters are lookin good. The bad (masked) guy is called "The Wizard", btw.

M&Also

infinitely screwy:
**gruntz**

OISK 5:56 PM  

OH! Brit Hume! Noted Brit in the news. Now I understand it, but that's a lousy clue. The "Noted" is a gratuitous adjective included only to mislead. "Brit in the news" would have been a fair clue. Add one more "Bah," to my 5:28 post...

Anonymous 5:57 PM  

@jae, "Top half easy, bottom half medium." Like your mom.

SandySolver 6:05 PM  

Sorry for your loss. Those folks matter much.

Randall Clark 6:33 PM  

For anyone considering entering the ACPT after LMS's invitation, don't go to Marriott.com to try to book a room at the Stamford Marriott for that weekend - it will tell you there is no availability. However, if you follow LMS's link to the ACPT, and then follow their link to Register Now, you will find a link to the group rate at the Stamford Marriott. Following that link got me not only a room, but a damn cheap rate.

Roo Monster 7:15 PM  

Genuinely surprised at the Non-PLINKO knowing. Even if you don't watch Price is Right, it's on the commercials for the show.
Just sayin. :-)

@M&A I think those Schlock-fests are rotting your brain. But interesting thinking about the whole Why-are-we-here enigma. Some of us just to piss others off, methinks.

Gonna channel @Fountains - Does anyone remember the Yugo?

RooMonster

Evan Jordan 7:25 PM  

Favorite puzzle in months. Loved CADENT and DARE TO DREAM.

Hartley70 7:44 PM  

The last three puzzles have been outstanding! I found this one the easiest except for the SE corner where LENOVO was tough, but VOODOODOLL was terrific once I saw it. POWERLEVEL was a bit of green paint to me but I'm not a gamer. I'm a happy solver this week.

Anonymous 8:11 PM  

With THE NFL playoffs now in full swing, I thought I'd be blue that there'll be no Wentz magic to enjoy. So I'm doubly pleased to have been blessed with a Wentz gem in the paper.
Thanks Peter, it was superb.

AW 11:25 PM  

@OISK No, you are not the only nay. I thought "sticking point?" was a dreadful clue for VOODOO DOLL. Doesn't a doll comprise dozens, if not hundreds, of points in which to stick a pin? And what the Sam Hill is PLINKO!? Or an AZERA!? Can someone explain how "deal breakers, for short" (plural) = DEA (singular)? Are we talking about Drug Enforcement Agents breaking up drug deals? (I have a bad feeling I totally missed the clue and am going to be completely humiliated by the answer.)

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