Fine dandy old slang / SAT 5-19-18 / Geological feature of Zion National Park / ES game company that produced Yahtzee Bingo / Fruits also known as bottle gourds / Slight upward curves as in roads beams / River of central Germany

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (w/ solve-upon-waking difficulty rating adjustment) (8:45)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SLOT CANYON (1A: Geological feature of Zion National Park) —
slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. Some slot canyons can measure less than 1 metre (3 ft) across at the top but drop more than 30 metres (100 ft) to the floor of the canyon.
Many slot canyons are formed in sandstone and limestone rock, although slot canyons in other rock types such as granite and basalt are possible. Even in sandstone and limestone, only a very small number of creeks will form slot canyons due to a combination of the particular characteristics of the rock and regional rainfall. (wikipedia)
• • •

Trying to figure out why I found this one so flavorless. Possibly because some of the answers meant nothing to me. In fact, the first two long ones are things that maybe I've heard of ... but not really. I ended up inferring them from their word parts (starting from the "Z" that I got from my one gimme up there, AZARIA (6D: Voice actor Hank)). But as far as their being actual things ... I mean, IF YOU SAY SO (best answer in the grid, in my humble as well as honest opinion). OKE was oke-ward but also something I got because of the olde-timey crime fiction that I sometimes read. BRAE I got because I solved crosswords in the early '90s when crosswordese reigned (and rained!). So there's some stuff I just don't know that is also somehow not exciting to learn (you bait hooks with worms ... oh, those WORMS are RED? You don't say ...) (24A: Common bait for fishing). And then the trivia. E.W. LOWE!? Sure, OKE, why not? (18A: E.S. ___, game company that produced Yahtzee and Bingo). This would all be more tolerable if there were more exciting moments, or much much much more entertaining cluing to give the puzzle some spark. As it is, the "spark" (if you want to call it that) comes from the ejaculatory imagery at 14D: One making deposits in a bank? (SPERM DONOR). I have no problem with that answer, but the clue getting cutesy with jacking off, that I'm less fond of. Also why does that clue even have a "?" on it? Are they not officially called "deposits," is that it? It's a sperm bank, you leave your semen there, right? Is this too much? Had your breakfast yet? Anyway, the clue doesn't need the "?" and isn't particularly clever in the first place.

But mostly the grid is fine, actually. It just doesn't do anything for me. CALABASHES? (25D: Fruits also known as bottle gourds) Again, I think I've heard of those, but I can't even picture them. Clearly I'm just having wavelength issues today. I found most of this puzzle pretty easy. Got all knotted up in the NE with ODER for EDER and thus TOTTER for TEETER and all kinds of RED fish (shad! sole!) before WORM. Oh, look, the ODER *is* a German river—so I'm not totally insane. What the bleep is EDER??? Aha, it's just a different ... German ... river. Man, crosswordese is delightful. Note: Leon EDEL wrote a five-volume of Henry James, and trust me, some day, you will need that information. EVEL Knievel, I assume you're already familiar with. Had DOES before ROES (44A: Some deer) and NO IDEA before NO CLUE (41D: "I haven't the foggiest!"), so that made things somewhat rough in the SE. But overall, pretty breezy. Just not nearly zingy or WACKY enough.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 8:19 AM  

This played really tough for me. I look forward to Saturday puzzles and definitely prefer that they be difficult than easy (and lately they’ve been pretty easy). I’ve been going back and doing puzzles from the archive (they have them going back to 1993!) and in general the fill in those older puzzles are more clever. But today was tough and I don’t mind. Go Nats! Go Caps!

michiganman 8:19 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. Calabash is great. "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are" is classic sign off from Jimmy Durante. Reportedly Mrs. C was his late wife, Jeanne Olson. I did not know it was a fruit. Thanks to Rex for pointing out the uselessness of "?" for 14D. In fact "?" is used far too often generally. Fishing-CASTS REDWORMS. PHOTO....crossing SHOP.

puzzlehoarder 8:25 AM  

This came in at a medium time due to a slow start. That top tier froze me out on first pass. APPS was obvious but I tried to support the A with ACRES. BRAE was my first actual write in. I almost got a real start there but ELKS was the spark that really got things going.

Once I'd put in REDWORM and WATER POLO all sense of mystery vanished and answers went down like dominos.

I guessed IFYOUSAYSO from a few letters without looking at the clue. That entry and ATABADTIME are generic filler. The NW stack was my favorite in spite of it's glue.

Once started the puzzle was easy but as I said the slow start made it medium.

Space Is Deep 8:33 AM  

Easy puzzle for me. About 20-30 minutes. Got a good start in the SE and worked my way up and west. Finishing in the NW. No idea what & & & was about.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Really good puzzle.

Kendall 8:38 AM  

AIRBAZOOKA seems like some nonsense retrofitted into the puzzle accidentally to me. I had never heard of such a thing so I looked it up and the more clearly defined product name is Airzooka by a mile, even being described as an air vortex cannon. I suppose that makes AIRBAZOOKA technically correct but again I’m pretty sure that’s not an answer the constructor started with and got pretty lucky on. For some reason that entire NW section took me forever and I’m pretty sure it’s mostly because of that answer.

Lewis 8:40 AM  

For all those stacks, the grid is remarkably clean -- tough to do. I like YOKE by OKE, the PHOTO/SHOP cross, and the cross of SPERM DONOR with LOIN. I also liked the colloquial vibe: IF YOU SAY SO, AT A BAD TIME, MONSTER HIT, NO CLUE.

This well-crafted puzzle did the trick as a finally-yielding tough nut to crack -- just what I'm hoping for on Saturday. Thank you John!

Teedmn 8:42 AM  

YOKE OKE, this was no jOKE today. While most of this flowed as smoothly as the EDER (now I need to know 100 mile long rivers, eek!), 11D and 13D DOUBLE TEAMed me. The last four letters in the NE took me over five minutes to fill in. PO_E_ ELITE (is that a thing?) crossing an unknown to me game producer and a RED _O_M bait. It didn't help that for most of my solve, I had AcrEs in at 11D. When SHOP filled in at 16A, I started thinking "Lots" might mean "many" but the real mystery is why the word WORM never occurred to me as a kind of bait. I do a fair share of fishing and we usually use leeches or minnows as bait but WORMs are very, very common, good grief what was I [not] thinking?!

This was a nice Saturday puzzle, not a lot of WACKYness in the clues, though "Novel ideas" for PLOTS and SPERM DONOR with the "banks" misdirection were fun (and I swear I never once thought of "jacking off" while solving). And it had CALABASHES, ABSTRACTS and AIR BAZOOKA (my brother had one of those, a really, really loud toy.)

Thanks, JG.

Tom 8:51 AM  

Sardine before REDWORM, dOES before ROES, NOidea before NOCLUE, & & &. Eventually got 'er done four minutes faster than average. Favorites that saved me: AZARIA (R.I.P. voicing of Apu Nahasapimapatalan), WATER POLO, AIRBAZOOKA, which I enjoyed shooting as a kid at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Oh, and JOneS before POORS. Lots of misdirects, but all gettable from crosses. Good one.
God save the Queen!

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

You must not overlook the cleverness that Zion's most famous SLOT CANYON is THE NARROWS, which also fits and thus slowed me down.

Olivia Stephen 9:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brad Guck 9:05 AM  

Sherlock Holmes was famous for his calabash pipe...

Jon in Saint Paul, MN 9:15 AM  

Anyone else spend any time thinking there might be a person called a "DOBOT"? As in do-bot? As in, they do and do and do things in a robotic way, without thinking? Couldn't see ROES, so DOES seemed like it must be right. Technically a DNF since I had to check the grid to find the error. Oh well. I'm going to start using DOBOT. Quit trying to make DOBOT a thing!

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Liked NETHER (as in regions) crossing SPERMDONOR

QuasiMojo 9:16 AM  

No problems here. I liked it. Very little pop stuff and the range of the few proper names sprinkled around was amusing: REID/LANI. Also @Lewis, I imagined POWER(s) BOOTHe in there too. EMIR coincidence?

I had HOCK before BOCK (as I eschew beer/ale/stout etc.) But BOCK is OKE, IF YOU SAY SO.

My only other TEETERing moment was putting in STORM DRAIN before Sperm Donor. I was thinking of river banks. My mind is always in the gutter.

BTW, FWIW, IMHO semen and sperm Rex are not the same thing. And I don't think you have to perform those onanistic acrobatics in those places anymore except in cheesy movies. But TBH it's not something I know much about!

I've decided not to be just another NATTERING NABOB of NEGATIVISM from now on. I'm only going to say nice things about puzzles from now on. I tried doing a new one the other day. I had NO CLUE.

Stanley Hudson 9:18 AM  

Semened fine to me. Wouldn’t say I solved it ADEPTLY, but I finally put it to BED.

Wm. C. 9:25 AM  

Like OFL, I went with ODER as the German River (never heard odd The EDER). The ODER is well-known to history-lovers as the northern part of the Oder-Neisse Line, the post-WWII boundary between set up by some commission as the boundary between East Germany and Poland. The Neisse River rises in Czechoslovakia and runs north into the Oder, which then empties into the Baltic Sea.

Also known to history buffs, this area was one of the most militarily-contested parts of the world in the second half of the second Milleneum (and probably ever-before, as well), with the Poles generally getting the short end of the stick.

mike colt 9:37 AM  

Trade you an o for an e.

Jay 9:39 AM  

I rarely finish a Saturday on my own but I came close on this one. So this qualifies as easy on the Rex Parker Scale..
Problem galore on the NE corner. Had oDER instead of EDER. Therefore guessed TotTER instead of TEETER.
I cringed at the image of a SPERM DONOR being a bank depositor. But otherwise liked


Harryp 9:39 AM  

First to fill was the Northeast, then worked clockwise the the Northwest, AZARIA. This played easy for a Saturday. The only time I heard OKE was in the Frank Sinatra song The Lady Is A Tramp, back when women were referred to as dames or broads.

mathgent 9:44 AM  

A very pleasant crossword. But, as Rex comments, forgettable.

I got a chuckle out of @Lewis (8:40) pointing out the crossing of LOIN and SPERMDONOR. We get a lot of comments here about the juxtapositions of unrelated entries in the puzzle. I suppose that they come from solvers who do metas, like the Friday WSJ contest puzzle..

I, too, remember Jimmy Durante signing off by saying, "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are."

dls 9:50 AM  

@Jon, you aren’t the only one who finished with DO-BOT.
Also dnf’d in the northwest, unable to fill in the 2x2 square with the LO of SLOT and IR of AIR.

Siouxsie Q 9:59 AM  

Good fun for me.
Kissing in a photo booth may lead to becoming a sperm donor but not in a bank!
If you don't fish then all worms might seem the same but red worms are small and skinny versus those big juicy nightcrawlers.
That striped giant pylon at the end (or beginning) of Rte. 1 in Key West must be in a gazillion vacation shots. I know I have one.
Ham/camera was also a cute pair.
Thanks John G.

Z 10:07 AM  

I always feel just a slight tinge of guilt when something like BRAE goes right in, even more guilt than I feel for solving in pen. Yeah, I do know a lot of arcane stuff (anyone want a disquisition on why POWER ELITE is an oxymoron?), but BRAE I know only because I do puzzles. It's the kind of opaque minutia that looks impressive from the outside but is really just a word with useful letters that you acquire as you do more puzzles. That it was my entry into the NW somehow cheapens my solve. I feel much better about knowing AZARIA than BRAE, but I still needed that R to see it was Hank.

All the common stumbles, plus my WORMs were Raw before they were RED, making my river the EwER, which actually looks like a plausible German river. I also wasted precious nanoseconds pondering STRODE. The inherent pride in the word, the MEEKEST never STRODE, making it so much more visual than "walked confidently." The odd feel of that past tense which is still better in the mouth than "strided." How it shares tense formation with ride/rode. Just a funny word if you think about 3 nanoseconds too long.

@Mohair Sam yesterday - You know me, always mildly amused when someone embarrasses themselves without knowing they are doing it. I figured less was more. I did stop and ponder for a second how many constructor's sexual preference I was aware of... at most 2 and both mostly because of Twitter... because it was such a fanciful notion that anyone might intuit that from someone's obscure TV show clue. I don't know about anyone else, but one's sexual preference is of exactly zero interest to me unless you get caught being politically hypocritical about it (which is why Newt offends me more than Bill). I do love good roasted asparagus though.

HEY MODS - Who let the spellcaster through? Tsk Tsk.

Norm 10:08 AM  

BRAE is a perfectly good Scottish word that does not deserve being denigrated as old crosswordese, but I suppose Rex has never sung or heard The Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond. :)

GILL I. 10:13 AM  

Yeah, me too on STORM DRAIN. But I know the eggbeater is WATER POLO so I had an O I there. Took a while for the swimming SPERM to appear, so finished that little section lickety split.
Pause....Go back to watching the Royal Wedding. Harry is lucky. Got himself a fine, beautiful, smart woman.
Back to puzzle. Glad it was going fast because I wanted to see the wedding gown. Simple, gorgeous, back to a bit of a boring puzzle.
Had all the middle section done then went back upstairs to straighten out that BAZOOKA fiasco. 4D was ETA and 9D was OLE. Left it because AIR TAZOOLA sounds like a cannon noise.
Went on down and got CALABASHA just off of ATOMS LANI. This is too easy! IF YOU SAY SO, without blinking an eye.
Back to the wedding. Cute kiss, Harry. You're both obviously in love. I hope you two can change the world. Pay back some of the wedding money so that my husband's pension doesn't keep going down. Got to shore up the British pound, folks.
I have never kissed anybody in a PHOTO BOOTH. I'm missing out on life.
P.S. If you didn't read the blog late last night, go back and look at @Hungry Mother's post. He has some wonderful photos and a great tale of his Venice trip. I'll make you want to go if you've never visited.

Nancy 10:25 AM  

Worked hard at this. Liked it. Lots of erasures today: ODER before EDER, leading to TOTTER before TEETER. MUG before KEG. PRICE (as in Price Waterhouse) before POORS. And very very briefly, FLAKY before WACKY. It proves once again that, at least for me, filling in wrong is much worse than not filling in at all. But if I didn't solve this puzzle all that ADEPTLY, at least I solved it.

What on earth is a SLOT CANYON? Better go back and read Rex. Didn't know CAMBERS either. Pulled AZAREA out of my NETHER region. Two challenging themelesses back to back, I'd say, though I did find yesterday's livelier and more colorful.

Hungry Mother 10:27 AM  

I was up early for a 5K race in the rain and didn’t think I was going to make much headway before I left the house. However, when I got BAT, it all fell together in a relatively short time.

Nancy 10:36 AM  

Oops. DNF. Why, oh, why did I have REeD instead of REID -- someone I really, really know? AZAReA is more forgivable; there I had NO CLUE. (And, btw, that's one more erasure I forgot to mention: I had NO IDEA before NO CLUE.)

You use leeches as bait, @Teedmn???!!! Now that seems really WACKY. Remind me not to go fishing with you anytime soon :)

Monica 10:57 AM  

The sperm donor clue/answer didn’t bother me. The write up made me want to hurl. Thanks Rex.

Roo Monster 11:10 AM  

Hey All !
Un-breakfast worthy SPERM DONOR. That that was allowed is awkwardly. TEETERing on bad TASTE. IF I SAY SO myself.

Managed to get whole puz except that NW area. NO CLUE on LILT as clued, so had many white boxes up there until I finally relented and cheated for LILT. Was able to wrangle it from there. Had pesTERED for NATTERED, making ____AReas for FLEA MARKET. Plus wanted meld or weld for 8D Join. Ended up with that whole section correct. But, still a DNF, as has PHOTOBOOks and wEaKEST in, making nonsensical wOkTO for MOTTO and NETsER for NETHER. Dang it.

If you really want to get 11 year oldish, a bunch of crosses seem apropos with SPERM DONOR, WORM, BED, WATER POLO, LOIN, NETHER. Har.
YOKE OKE could be nickname of YOKO ONO.
HIHO, HIHO, it's off to work I STRODE.
Eye rhymes - REID-RETD, TBA-TAE, CAMERA-CAMBERS. Your eyes may vary. :-)

Ugly clue for 52D. OF A piece. Huh?

Funny line from Lion King movie,
"Do you have a MOTTO?"
"What's a MOTTO?"
"Nothing, what's a MOTTO with you?"


jberg 11:18 AM  

Tough for me, in a fun way. NO CLUE about AIR BAZOOKA, and although I've heard the name Hank AZARIA, I didn't know he was a voice actor, so the tell-all Z was slow to fill itself in. Also Elbe before EDER, Wrestling before WATER POLO, and I'll go along before IF YOU SAY SO. Not to mention, after I'd dropped wrestling, toSses before CASTS (not noticing that I'd left out a letter-- I actually had toSeS.)

I still have no clue about what's a BRAE and what's a burn, but we'd had the former recently, so I went with it again.

LANI Guinier is an activist, true, but more essentially a legal scholar, so cluing her that way always grates a bit, but it's not a problem for solving.

Gotta rush off, got A SLEW of things to do today.

TomAz 11:19 AM  

I also had ODER which made me fill in Toddle instead of TEETER.

I also had DOES and thought maybe a DOBOT could be a thing. (A bot that does things? Or maybe an automated hairdressing robot?)

I also had NO IDEA but I knew BOCK so that went away pretty quick.

I don't like the clue for CAMERA. Yes I guess people do ham for the camera but they can also ham in other ways, and also not-ham for the camera, so I don't see how it's a "go-with".

The DOUBLE TEAM / IF YOU SAY SO / TASTE TESTS stack is pretty cool. All in all I thought this was pleasant enough.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Then you should've been delighted withyourself Thursday. You know, answering question for the mods. Talk about bei g red wormed, er, red faced.
Do us all a favor, stay in your lane chief.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

TBA? TBA??? TBD, sure; and I guess "TBA" is "to be Announced," but still. Parts of this one fell right into place for me (proper names like REID, LANI, AZARIA), but some of the fill was awful. ADEPTLY? Really? In an adept fashion, one was adept at solving, but adeptly? Not a great puzzle, but that seems to be the trend lately. On to Sunday...

'mericans back in Paris 11:47 AM  

Hi all! I checked in, figuring I was way, way too late for the party, and see only 28 comments so far. Perhaps a sign that the puzzle wasn't so easy for most people?

Took us about 50 minutes to complete most of the puzzle, and then another 40 minutes to get the NW. I had SLOTted in _ _ _ _ CANYON very early on, crossing NORAD, and also entered NATTERED. But that's all we had to work with. Mrs. 'mericans guessed SAFE, but I kept wondering whether the clue ("On base") had something to do with soldiers. Starting "join" with a "Y" also perplexed us. But then YOKE popped into Mrs. 'mericans noggin and the rest fell quickly.

I'm surprised that nobody else complained about the clue for 13D: "Corporate, military and business leaders, collectively". Can somebody please explain to me what is the consequential difference between a corporate leader and a business leader? My guess is that Mr. Guzzetta meant to say "Political, military and business leaders", but the editor(s) didn't catch the error.

I was a little bothered by the clue for SPERM DONOR (though great that the answer crosses LOIN). I guess that they exist, but much if not most artificial insemination doesn't pass through any bank. My older brother was briefly an anonymous donor during college in NYC*, and it was never banked. At the time, he was allowed to deliver his, er, donation in a vessel that was clean, but not necessarily sterilized -- little instant-coffee jars, for example -- in a brown paper bag. His preferred glass receptacles? Why, empty bottles of Chock-Full-of-Nuts and Tasters' Choice, of course.

*About five years later, I sent him a Fathers' Day card signed with the (faked) scrawled signatures of about 30 kids.

old timer 11:48 AM  

Perfect Saturday, tough but doable in the end.

The Oder used to be a river entirely in Germany, but the price of our collaboration with Stalin was that he got to keep the eastern half of Poland, which required creating a new more westerly Poland (with Warsaw still the capital) which required seizing A SLEW of territory that had long been German. There was mass migration as Poles were moved west and Germans were dispossessed. You remember the song that was written not long after the war, the Merry Minuet. "The French hate the Germans the Germans hate the Poles. That would be true, though since what became East Germany was occupied by the Russians, and Poland was soon Communist itself, the East Germans had to pretend to like the Poles.

Anyhow, since I knew the Oder was the boundary with Poland after the war, I knew I had to put in EDER.

GHarris 11:53 AM  

Got it all except the NW and I claim foul. Safe is in no way the equivalent of on base. One gets on base if called safe. One asks “how many on base?” Never,”how many safe?” Also, stalls along a road may be fruit, vegetable, flower or pie stands not flea markets which, invariably, are clustered in a field or parking lot that one drives into, not drive by. Phoey

jp flanigan 12:07 PM  

Yes..took me 10 minutes to figure out that DO-BOT wasn't a correct. I mean, it looked pretty dumb, but DOES had to correct, right? UGH!

'mericans back in Paris 12:24 PM  

I agree with @GHarris about the bad cluing for FLEA MARKET: "along the road" is just wrong. He or she is right also about the cluing for SAFE.

Love writing in CALABASHES, however. Just rolls off the tongue!

Peter North 12:34 PM  

My favorite answer was SPERMDONOR.

Masked and Anonymous 12:38 PM  

We still need to go to Utah, to score visits to all 50 states. Nice to know Zion has a narrow canyon filled with slot machines, when we finally do. Those 10-stacks in the NW & SE were primo. Only desperate price paid for them appears to be OKE, OFA, and GMOS.

OKE gets staff weeject pick. OFA gets Weeject of Mystery credits, tho ... OF A piece? What The Fleamarket?!?

REDWORM. har. Better clue: {Deworm again, informally??}. Speakin of RE-words, check out RETD. Better clue: {Score the six, after it was previously called back for holding??}.
For RE-completeness sake, we also had a REMIT appearance, but that puppy don't bark desperation, at all.

@sanfranman: @RP murked things up, difficulty-wise, with the old "sand was in my eyes" excuse, but I'd rate this about a Medium. Clues were extra-friendly, but 10-stacks with CALABASHES and SLOTCANYONs are always kinda non-OKE for the nanosecond usage charges.

Thanx for the themeless fun, Mr. Guzzetta.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

solid biter:

Birchbark 12:50 PM  

First DNF of May. Call it what you will, but lost out at AZAReA/REeD.

"Dad, I'm gonna take Georgie for a walk."
"Okay, where do you want to go?"
"I was thinking down the hill by the river."
"There were some decent-sized mosquitoes in the swamp yesterday -- better take the vortex cannon, just to be safe."

Lewis 12:50 PM  

Seeing all these Oder-Eders in the comments makes me smile; good advertising for a certain product.

GeezerJackYale48 12:52 PM  

I agree. Safe is not on base. And I put farm market in and refuse to change it. So there!

nyc_lo 12:55 PM  

Medium-tough for me. Normally Rex is about three times faster than me, today almost four. Northwest nearly did me in, as SLOTCANYONS over AIRBAZOOKA were both terms utterly alien to me. HANKAZARIA saved me as I reluctantly filled in BAZOOKA. And I’d heard the phrase “That’s OKE” in old movies, but always imagined it as “oak,” like “That’s solid.” Live and learn. Definitely a Saturday workout for me.

Jamie C 12:58 PM  

I calabashedly enjoyed this puzzle.

michiganman 1:13 PM  

I think SAFE is equivalent to being on base. If you're not safe then you're not on base. If you are on base you are safe. I would like to see your point but can't. An exception would be when two baserunners end up on the same base. One of them will be out (not safe) and will no longer be on base.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  


Reasonablewoman 1:30 PM  

Being on base is SAFE in the sense that you cannot be tagged out.

C. Wright Mills 1:44 PM  

@Z, please expound on why POWER ELITE is an oxymoron.

GHarris 1:51 PM  

Safe, out, fair, foul, strike, ball are calls, being on base is a status. If you take four balls you walk. You’re not a walk. If you are walked you are on base as a result. One need not be called safe to get on base. When you get a hit or reach on an error you are on base. Usually no call by the umpire is required.

Matthew G. 1:53 PM  

I wasn’t aware that LILT could mean a type of music. I only know that word as a term referring to a light, cheerful tone of voice. I also had FOOD MARKET instead of FLEA MARKET because I had TBD instead of TBA for the schedule abbreviation. So that NW corner absolutely destroyed me.

Mohair Sam 2:01 PM  

@michiganman - I think they might be non-baseball fans envisioning a military base. Maybe not.

@Lewis (12:50) - Nice.

@jberg - Agreed on LANI Guinier. Brilliant woman, classy. She should have been Clinton's Attorney General - far more qualified than Janet Reno.

@Z - You handled it well, brevity is the soul of wit - I would have been pissed and written a ridiculous screed.

Had a ball with this one. Impressive stacks - four of them, and every answer clean and fresh. Played medium/challenging for us because we had to learn SLOTCANYON, AIRBAZOOKA, and that Hank AZERIA was a voice actor (apparently we're the only Americans who don't know that) - he shoulda been clued as "Brockmire" for chrissake, now that show is funny and (happily) with no redeeming social value.

Wondered if it was "Foodstands" or Farmstands" at 17A, so we spent longer than forever in the NW. Carousel music doesn't make me think LILT, but I lost that argument to Lady M. fortunately. Who can't love the word CALABASHES? And I too remember Jimmy Durante's sign off.

Awesome Saturday Mr. Guzzetta.

TubaDon 2:30 PM  

Had some problems with this, but liked it. Ended with one goof. Didn't know how to spell Hanks last name and REED sounded good for the senator. Again I had to slog from the bottom up.

Airymom 2:34 PM  

Where's Loren Muse Smith? Did she get an invite to the wedding?

Hungry Mother 2:36 PM  

Some photos of Zion here. The mile 0 sign on U.S. 1 in Key West is one of my favorite spots. The runners pass the sign with a bit over a mile to go in the Key West Half Marathon. It gives me new life as I go by.

Airymom 2:39 PM  

I know when I read the answer, I will feel idiotic, but, can someone explain "ham"/"camera"? Thank you.

William Coddington 2:43 PM  

It’s actually an says Amazon, the definitive consumer site assimilating us all.

William Coddington 2:44 PM  

The VGK’s will make you sad.
Vegas Vic

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

Being a non-baseball kinda guy, I was thinking of playing tag so the safe/on base thing was no problem for me.

Mark 3:58 PM  

Now that the question of ? has arisen, I would like to start my campaign to remove it from clues. If I remember correctly, crosswords used to help with "2 wds" or some other indication of two words. Sometimes I wish there was a "two-word" hint, and so I must be remembering correctly. Anyway, in a similar way, get rid of ? because unnecessary, insulting to our sense of humor, and provocative of arguments over appropriateness.

Lewis 4:19 PM  

@jamiec -- Hah! Good one!

Dick Swart 4:33 PM  

I think Rex is tired of crosswords.

Marian. the Librarian 4:54 PM  

I don’t think Z understands that oxymoron is a rhetorical device in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect. For example, sweet sorrow, cruel kindness, and bitter sweet, It is not simply a contradiction in terms.

White Rushin 5:01 PM  

SPERM DONOR?????? What's next, JACKING OFF? Will, buddy, reject, not eject.

Masked and Anonymous 5:01 PM  

@ Airymom 2:39PM -
{Ham go-with?} = CAMERA, in that some people like to ham it up, when they in front of the camera.

In other news: If U are on base, then U is SAFE from bein tagged out, right?

M&&&A Help Desk

Moly Shu 5:36 PM  

@PeterNorth, har

@C. Wright Mills, please, don’t egg him on. Obscure court rulings and salted street discussions will soon follow

I started with AZERIA and TEETER, so the river ended up being no problem. Lucky I guess.

@GHarris, SAFE doesn’t always mean on base, but sometimes it does. If you're stealing second and you make it to the base before you get tagged, you’re called SAFE. I’ll give the combo the old “in the ballpark” immunity.

Anoa Bob 5:50 PM  

I would call this grid POC (plural of convenience) Assisted. I count seven two-for-one POCs, where a Down and an Across share an S at their ends. The S helper/cheater squares are at the ends of ORE/ET, CAMBER/ATOM, RATE/ABSTRACT, CAST/ELK, PLOT/ROE, POOR/SET and GMO/TASTETEST. That's A SLEW of POCs.

Each of those seven S squares could be change to a black square and nothing of interest or value would be lost from the puzzle. You could say that although this is a 26 black square grid, it is essentially equivalent to one with 33 black squares.

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

ELKS is not a plural use of s. It is a name. For the animal elk, elk is also plural. POOR(')S does not count either. The S is not for plural. Otherwise, good point!

Anonymous 6:19 PM  

Only on stage. In the stories he smoked only a briar and a clay.

Teedmn 6:23 PM  

But @Nancy, leeches are so much more cooperative than worms. They fasten themselves to your finger so you can get the hook through them. Worms just writhe around. (They aren’t the same leeches as “bloodsuckers”).

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

You cant tell Z anything. Hell he cant even understand who a question is addressed to. Anyway, back to the Minuet in G Minor.

-Some small timer
Gary Conservancy class of 04

jae 6:59 PM  

Medium for me. I was iffy on the @Anoa POCs CALABASHES and CAMBERS but the crosses were fair. Nice stack in the NW but I agree with @Rex not quite as interesting as yesterday’s. Still a solid Sat., liked it.

@Mohair - Yes, Brockmire is one of the funniest shows currently on TV and there is absolutely nothing redeeming about it. AZARIA does a number of voices on The Simpsons.

Harryp 7:15 PM  

Anonym 2:39, Think D.J. Trump in front of a camera.

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

Re 25A, Camera

In the Vulgate, Ham, as in Shem, Ham, and Japeth, is written Cham, often spelled Cam in Latin manuscripts. Thus the period or culture initiated by that son of Noah could be called the "Ham era." But this sounds like a dietary eccentricity, so it is better to call it the Cham era or Cam era.

So the "Ham go-with" is what is associated with Ham, a son of Noah, or the Cam era.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

ps: yes, of course this is nonsense, but ... hey!
pps: very good, tough puzzle, IMHO

sanfranman59 7:52 PM  

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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 3:46 4:24 0.86 10.3% Easy
Tue 5:24 5:26 1.00 48.1% Medium
Wed 7:49 6:07 1.28 84.6% Challenging
Thu 9:03 9:42 0.93 37.4% Easy-Medium
Fri 13:31 13:01 1.04 57.4% Medium
Sat 14:15 15:59 0.89 40.8% Medium

@M&A, my stats support both your and Rex's assessments. I have it at the Easy-Medium/Medium cusp.

I had a furrowed brow for much of this solve. There's a fine line for me between a fun challenge and a frustrating challenge. I can't really put my finger on why, but this one felt like it ended up on the wrong side of that line for much of this exercise.

There were a good number of write-overs for me: AIR Blaster came before AIR BAZOOKA (15A), which made me try 'usafa' at 7D before eventually getting to NORAD (the US Air Force Academy is also outside Colorado Springs, so maybe that was an intentional trap set by the constructor?). It was Weird before WACKY at 31D (thinking I'm not alone there). I oglED (hmm) before I CASED (34A). I prefer credO to MOTTO for the 38A clue ("Words to live by"). MOTTO seems more apt to me for countries, states and organizations than individuals. For some reason, I spelled it BOCh before BOCK (46A ... dumb).

My first brow-furrowing came with OKE (9D). That's a joke, right? E.S. LOWE (18A)? No. I don't know fishing, but are RED WORMs really more commonly used for bait than others? How is CAMERA a "Ham go-with?" (25A). Please tell me it's not because some folks like to ham it up in front of a camera. NETHER (41A) gave me trouble, but that's on me. I didn't know it was a formal term relative to the earth's surface.

CAMBERS (5D) and CALABASHES (25D) are two things that I didn't know I know. SPERM DONOR (14D) surprised me and spiced things up a tad.

Z 8:28 PM  

@Moly Shu - but my fans...

@Marian the Librarian - You omitted the classic “jumbo shrimp.” Hmmm, two words, often used in synonymous ways, but here I am suggesting that, no, they are “two opposite ideas being joined together for rhetorical effect.” Imagine that. Whatever could I mean? Hmmm, that might take some investigation into the subtler definitions of “power” and how it is wielded and, oh, look, everyone’s eyes are glazing over already. Tell you what, here’s an article that suggests how exerting power may be indicative of not being a part of an elite. You might also pick up some of Thomas Sergiovanni’s work on moral leadership or Ethics for a New Millennium.. I could go on and on and on and on but @Moly Shu is right, we’d soon be arguing about obscure court cases about the proper way to salt a street and nobody wants that.

Ando 8:35 PM  

Yet another DOES/DO-BOT here. I think DO-BOT could absolutely be a thing we never knew about, a person who takes care of whatever task is in front of them without dithering. I wish I was more of a DO-BOT.

ebtobiassen 8:48 PM  

I knew it couldn't be "Oder" because the clue said central Germany and the Oder was always in eastern Germany,, even before 1945. But I assumed the crosswordese word was Elbe. The crosses gave me Eder.

Anonymous 10:56 PM  

Hand up! Had already dreamt up a marketing campaign around the “Honey Do-Bot” before roe finally showed.

sanfranman59 11:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 7:23 AM  

The SPERMDONOR clue is so dumb, it literally just thinks cum is funny. It's so lazy. Sperm banks are very different from blood banks, which the clue thinks it's riffing on. The clue has no idea the difference between the two, it just is like, think about sperm!

Unknown 7:50 AM  

My daughter is half made of DNA from a SPERMDONOR at a sperm bank. I'm not outraged because of it, I just think it's outrageously stupid to make jerk-off jokes about sperm banks, when you clearly don't understand what they are.

Maruchka 8:38 AM  

SPERM DONORs scaredy-cats: Please meet my charming step-grandson, who would otherwise never have been born. Thanks, you generous guys.

kitshef 8:34 AM  

Hand up for dOES/dO_BOT, which sure feels like it could be a thing. Herein lies the problem with allowing slang into puzzles. If beer o'clock can appear, why not do-bot?

SyndicatedBOP 10:06 AM  

Five weeks late but:

POWER ELITE is an ugly formulation. I might want to be powerful or elite, but I would shudder to be in the Power Elite.

SPERMDONOR is just corny and dumb, not offensive to me.

Ham did no go-well-with CAMERA. AM my last fill.

Burma Shave 11:04 AM  


The PHOTOBOOTH owner CALLEDIT a crime:


spacecraft 11:29 AM  

Thank goodness "CAsABASHES" and "dOBOT" made no sense. 33-across was a brutal NHO. I doubt if three of these intelligent bloggers ever saw the name. And the deer thing? Either/or. But the only answer down, ROBOT, has a BIG problem in the clue. That would be the word "who." A ROBOT is not a "who," it's a "that." People--or at the very least, living beings--carry the pronoun "who." Compare Twain's "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg." We see by the very title that the corrupter is not really a man. In a sea of very tough Saturday clues, this one was just plain WRONG. A fling of the yellow hankie for that one.

Hand up for NOidea before NOCLUE. When I see the quote in the clue I always think of the iconic moment in "The Bridge on the River Kwai," in which Colonel Saitu asks Nicholson:

"Do you know what will happen to me if the bridge is not finished in time?"

"I haven't the foggiest."

Fun stuff. A hard puzzle, with attendant triumph factor. The only real gimme was Mr. AZARIA, though cluing him as a "voice" actor does him a grave disservice. Check out his "Guatemala-ness" in "The Birdcage."

A lot of interesting answers here; I enjoyed it. No DOD....oh wait, there's Alicia KEYS. She'll do. Birdie.

rondo 11:36 AM  

25 enjoyable minutes and no YOKE on me, nary a write-over. 3X OFL's time is about as fast as I go. The EAST half seemed easier than the west and LANI's L came last.

We had a low-tech AIRBAZOOKA of sorts as kids. Two silver cardboard tubes with one fitting snugly over the other. When you forced the outside one down over the other, the air pressure you generated shot the mini Mercury space capsule 50 feet or more into the air. Didn't take much to amuse us out on the farm.

Today's yeah baby is Mrs. CALABASH, wherever she is. Or Tara REID. Or Alicia KEYS.

I guess I CALLEDIT easy. Does SPERMDONOR pass the breakfast test? IFYOUSAYSO.

eastsacgirl 12:21 PM  

Puzzle more of a medium for me with a slow start but filled in the bottom half rather quickly after that. Even with the z in bazooka still had a hard time feeling in the northwest.

rainforest 3:57 PM  

Like yesterday, the NE was the toughest part of this puzzle for me, but overall it was a lot tougher.

Gimmes to start were SAFE, ETS, AZARIA, CAMBER, and YOKE, and so bye-bye NW. Even though there were no w/os, progress was almost square by square for much of the solve.

I think we've seen CALABASHES before, but I had to shake "casaba something" before entering anything. OF A piece is a good partial if ever there was one.

Disagreeing with a few real-timers, "on base" screams SAFE to me.

I had all my problems in the NE where I wouldn't know Pandora as an app if I opened its box, and POWER ELITE is new to me, even though it makes sense, I guess.

Until "President Trump" came along, the ultimate oxymoron, a la George Carlin, is "military intelligence".

Diana,LIW 4:51 PM  

NW did me in - never heard of SLOTCANYONs, but they make sense. Proud of what I did get - not bad for a Saturday.

Diana, LIW

leftcoastTAM 4:59 PM  

Would have to rate this medium, since I all but got it on a Saturday. Of course, "all but" means a DNF.

My downfall was not in any of the fine long downs and acrosses in the four spacious corners. It was, of all things, the REDWORM. I CASED it out before I checked it in. Can't explain why I did that.

Just too impatient, I guess.

jake brand 12:18 AM  

Marshall Tucker Band--"I'm goin' down to the river; got a cane pole in my hand. Got my red worms in a Maxwell House coffee can. Gonna sit by a river bank under a shade tree and let the cork bob away my blues" that I, personally, get from Michael Sharp being such a ...

thefogman 12:21 AM  

Late to the party. DNF for me. The NW corner stumped me. It was like playing WATERPOLO on horseback. Lots of effort but little success.

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