Gymnast who won all-around gold in Rio / SAT 1-5-19 / 1972 hit with lyric you can bend but never break me / Lord Byron notably in his personal life

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Challenging (I got annoyed and kind of bored and walked away at one point, so my time's pretty inflated) (10:34)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: XERISCAPING (28A: Design of park land requiring minimal water) —
Xeriscaping is the process of landscaping or gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation. It is promoted in regions that do not have accessible, plentiful, or reliable supplies of fresh water, and is gaining acceptance in other regions as access to irrigation water is becoming limited. Xeriscaping may be an alternative to various types of traditional gardening. (wikipedia)
• • •

Didn't find any of this very enjoyable. Nowhere near my wheelhouse, and full of weirdness like TROOP as a verb and M-RATING ("rated M for Mature" is the phrase from ads—M-RATING just looks wrong). SYSTEM ERROR, I.T. TEAM, ADSITE ... it's all pretty boring to me, and despite SIMONE BILES plastered right across the middle, and the not-at-all-helpfully-clued "I AM WOMAN" in the NE (16A: 1972 hit with the lyric "You can bend but never break me"), it felt very boy-y. XERISCAPING is a cool enough word but apparently I am just now learning how to spell it—I swear I thought it was ZEROSCAPING, as in "we use zero water on our landscaping." Most of the puzzle was either techy or technical, with pleasure or joy or cleverness coming only rarely. Loved SHACKED UP, for instance. But SYNFUELS? (32D: Petroleum substitutes) Again, didn't know that was a thing. Had BIOFUELS. Also not interesting. Oh, I like "I CAN SEE THAT!" even though it took me a while to get, though not as long as TRAIN MASTER (19D: To whom a conductor reports). I had the MASTER and was still like "????" I thought something like "stationmaster" or "depotmaster," thinking it would be an equivalent of "harbormaster." But no. It's just TRAINMASTER ... which sounds like some model train enthusiast's twitter handle / secret identity.


Got started, after much flailing, in the SW, of all places, where I was just throwing anything at the wall to see if it would stick, and finally some of it did. ARF and ESTE (crosswordese to the rescue!) then, tentatively, HOSERS, confirmed by a couple of crosses including HER (49D: "Death Becomes ___" (Meryl Streep film)). From there I got the whole bottom portion, but then, nothing. Just couldn't get back up over the middle. Even with MASTER and THAT and eventually BREAD in place at the ends of all those longer central Downs. Why is GARLIC BREAD a [Pasta dinner staple] my god how many floury carbs can you eat in one meal? Bread as a lead-in to pasta sounds insane. I'm not denying it's common, it just seems wrong. What also seems wrong: the word ROUE. ROUÉ? roo-AY? I despise this word, largely because no one actually uses it because if you did, people would go "what?" at you. And it's French and I get it confused with ROUX, which is a thickening agent, I think. It's also antiquated and stylized and ick. Totally valid word, but I just have viscerally negative responses to some words and this is one of them. No idea who ANIL is. Had ICE SHORE and ICE SHELF before ICE SHEET. Found the clues on ALARMS and LAW entirely beyond me. I mean, I get them now. But I had A-AR-S for a bit and honestly didn't know where I was gonna go. I also got very confused earlier on the EMT clue (29D: Pre-hosp. childbirth aide, often). "Pre-hosp." was the confusing part. I thought it meant "before there were such things as hospitals," so I was looking for something olde-tymey, like, say, ETHER. So, yeah, EMT was a surprise.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld (Twitter @rexparker / #NYTXW)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

96 comments:

Calman Snoffelevich 12:45 AM  

So if NRA shows up in a puzzle we get a blog entry devoted entirely to that "terrorist" organization. But when an actual terrorist organization shows up (31D), we get...nothing?

jae 12:57 AM  

On the tough side with many of the same issues @Rex covered. Not as much fun as yesterday’s but I liked it a bit more than @Rex did.

puzzlehoarder 1:10 AM  

This was faster than yesterday's solve. Not because it was any faster once I got started but because I didn't waste nearly as much time getting started.

I knew four answers in the NW right off the bat but it wasn't quite enough to start writing. Schmerz means pain but I couldn't come up with anything related to pain that started with an E.

ANON and NATO were what got the ball rolling. The solve never stopped after that. I knocked 6 minutes off yesterday's time and once again no answer was questionable.

ANIL and KAREN were unknowns but they hardly amounted to SPEED bumps. Getting CIPRO off the C was a nice break in the SE.

The grid is cool. It looks like a figure eight with wings but not much in the way of difficulty.

chris b 1:12 AM  

GRANARY, XERISCAPING, ROUE, SIROCCO: all new words for me. Thanks for the vocab lesson, NYT.

Sue T. 1:42 AM  

I wonder how many people are like me and learned the word roué from "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" in "The Sound of Music"? "Single young lads, and roués and cads..."
I had ----OMAN at 16 across and filled in PIANO MAN. Soon realized that it was wrong.

bg 2:03 AM  

This moved right along for a Saturday once I got a toehold in the SW. Knee problem often = ACL.. Ice shelf became ice sheet. Xeriscaping is 'green' conscious these days and shacking up is almost quaint. Knew none of the NW but a stab at ennui helped collect the I in spiral which helped break the logjam there. Not as fun or interesting as yesterday's brilliant entry.

Brookboy 2:36 AM  

Wow, hard for me to believe that I even came close to Rex’s time. (OK, I have to admit that an hour or so either way might not really be all that close to his time, but still...)

I found it tough, even for a Saturday. Never heard of XERISCAPING, and I’ll bet I say the same thing the next time I encounter that word, in maybe 20 years.

I thought GARLICBREAD was pretty nifty, even if it isn’t really an Italian dinner staple. I now realize that as much as I love, love, love me some garlic bread, I have been turning it down for most of my adult life, simply because I don’t want to detract from the main course, whatever it might be. It’s the same reason I don’t eat the bread and other appetizers whenever I dine at Peter Luger’s, the great steakhouse in Brooklyn. As yummy as the bread is (and it really is yummy at Pete Luger’s), I am there for their terrific steak. So there.

Good puzzle, pretty stern review, IMO.

Anonymous 4:52 AM  

A fairly joyless slog, but I got through it in the end in about double my normal Saturday time. Also wanted MOTHER for KAREN. This would nave been impossible for me without remembering SIMONE BILES.

Z 4:55 AM  

Yeah, this puzzle was far too “educational” to be much fun. Way too much trivia and not enough word play. Then there’s the trivia disguised as word play like SIROCCO. It’s a word I filled in after getting about 4/7ths of the letters, but not a word I could have told you the meaning of if you had asked me. I love that each of the 8 major compass points have Mediterranean Winds named. Mistral I know, SIROCCO I’ve heard, the other 6 would all be WOEs.

Thomaso808 5:20 AM  

It sure helped that in the 70’s I saw all the Volkswagen commercials for their car model, the SCIROCCO, in which they explained what the name meant. It also helped to have been a homeowner in Southern California where the water department is constantly pushing XERISCAPING. Almost gimmes for both.

Hartley70 6:09 AM  

I flew through this in half my usual Saturday time. The SW was my easy entry point. SIMONEBILES and SHACKEDUP opened the basement door. My last letter was the R in ROE because XERISCAPING makes no sense to me and I can’t wrap my tongue around it.
This ballet lover had POINTE as my first entry in the attic but things jammed up as I insisted on AARP as the group that “tours” for way too long. I’m wondering if the M in MRATING stands for “maniac” or “monster”. I’ve ruled out “mommy approved” or “mature”.

Dawn Urban 6:15 AM  

Well, I was lost at sea from 1- down. The grid had pluses and minuses, and I believed the theme was the HIV-AIDS epidemic!

Then, tried to fit stone garden, sand garden, or rock garden for XERISCAPING.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

Well now. This is just how I love my Saturdays. Stare at the white. Stare at the white. Get an aha -- stick it in. Repeat until the white, faster and faster, diminishes, but never so fast as to yield resistance. Meanwhile, running across smile inducing clues (ARF, LAW, ALARMS, CARS), unknown words totally reliant on crosses (MRATING, XERISCAPING, CIPRO), all leading to a most satisfying journey. With those crossing triple stacks, this had to be hard to make, Andrew, but, at least in my case, wow, it paid off!

'merican in Paris 7:09 AM  

My experience was like @Lewis's, except that I had to Google two answers. I don't have all day, so if I've already spent an hour on a 15 x 15 grid, and am stuck, I start looking up PPPs. In this case it was SIMONE BILES and CIPRO. French TV, like that of most countries I suspect, focuses on the Olympic sports in which their country excels, and gymnastics isn't one of them. (Plus, I had bioFUELS at 32D for far too long.) And the antibiotic brands here for the most part carry different names than those in the 'States.

Otherwise I have high PRAISE for this, with its fresh fill, and yummy treats, like ONIONY bagels and GARLIC BREAD (crossing GRANARY). Clever cluing for TOE, too.

Fun fact: LYME is the town that gave its name to LYME disease, which is now in Europe and in more than one form, and doesn't always create a tell-tale bull's eye rash.

@LMS and Montey Boy from last night -- I'm not saying they're equivalent, but a "digital" prostate exam can certainly be pretty unpleasant. Apologies to those who have already heard this true story from me:

A few years ago, as a guest at a High Table dinner at Oxford University's Green College, I was sat next to a medical student from Austria. We started talking, and I asked whether he planned to specialize after graduating.

"Ja," he said, "I want to become a proctologist!"

Searching around for a way to respond to that, I said, "Oh, good for you! You know, I've often wondered how a young man might react the first time a doctor tells him that he is going to administer a digital exam of his prostate. Won't he be in for a surprise when he realizes that it has nothing to do with computers!"

"No, no computers involved," he laughed, "except when you write up the report." He paused for a moment and then blurted "but you have to type it like this!", miming a typist's hand positions, but with the index finger raised.

OffTheGrid 7:21 AM  

We have 4 B2 bombers in the grid, and not a single CON, let alone a trail.
I liked a lot of this puzzle, slow start and well...pretty much just slow.
My only quibble is ALARMS. Almost any place has alarms. Seems weak.

Scott Thomas 7:47 AM  

As a newspaper copy editor around 1980, I once used the phrase SHACKING UP in a headline, thinking nothing of it. There was hell to pay -- readers grousing that it was just terribly-terribly offensive. Seems like a quaint kerfuffle now, given what passes for civil discourse today. But I learned that words and phrases have often unexpected resonances in segments of the public.

pabloinnh 7:58 AM  

SIMONEBILES, a gimme, went in first, and then got GARLICBREAD from the B. The rest of the puzzle was somewhat more challenging, but still faster than most Saturdays. Remembered the "xeri-" is the "dry" prefix, yay, and my first impulse for the lyric was IAMWOMAN, which turned out to be true.

In short, the kind of Saturday that makes me feel like I'm good at guessing, so I liked it more than some seem to have.

nitram lepok 8:00 AM  

Totally flustered. One gripe- cipro is a shortened word for ciprofloxacin. It’s not a brand. It wouldn’t have saved me anyway

Loren Muse Smith 8:06 AM  

Yeah, wow – pretty techy stuff here and there. Especially timely were SYSTEM ERROR and “what a jam is packed with.” I couldn’t print out the puzzle ‘cause my printer kept telling that there was a paper jam. There’s no paper jam. %$#@ printer.

Rex – I’ve had the same thought on the requisite bread with a pasta meal. “My god how many floury carbs can you eat in one meal? Bread as a lead-in to pasta sounds insane.” I could eat a whole week of meals featuring only floury carbs. GARLIC BREAD, especially that abomination of American fakey fake fluffy nothing bread, sliced, garlic buttered, wrapped in foil, and served warm… it’s sinfully delicious. And if food is fuel, and our version of bread is fake, well, then it’s SYNFUEL.

“arisen” before RESTED
“tic” before ASS

@Hartley – loved your “aarp” thought. My mom regularly tours with The Golden Disciples. Last trip was to Pigeon Forge.

@’merican – great story! This is another funny story, but most of our more delicate-leaning readers here will not appreciate it. It’s yuckier than MRATed stuff.

Never heard of a TRAIN MASTER. You could also call the maid of honor the TRAIN MASTER. She has to rearrange the bride’s train during different parts of the ceremony to make sure it’s perfect. Right @imsdave?

@Carola from yesterday – loved your “soft underbelly” grid description. It certainly was the case for me this morning. I entered the grid with HER and with ACL TEAR and HOSERS just worked my way up.

@Gregory Schmidt from yesterday – I agree with @Suzie Q - your “twitard” coinage was brilliant.

@whatsername from yesterday – thanks for the book recommendation. I'm on it!

John Hnedak 8:08 AM  

With all those errors and misdirections I don't see how Rex can get that time.

I liked this one because of the "aha" moments for "law" and "alarms", the inclusion of "xeriscaping". "Troop" is just fine as a verb (I put down "swarm" at first). Lots of other good answers.

But Rex, how could you possibly ever throw down "ice shore?"

I think you really over-reacted to this puzzle.

'merican in Paris 8:23 AM  

@LMS -- I laughed out loud! (Really. And I hope you'll appreciate that I DIDn't abbreviate that.) A good lesson, indeed. I should think that the lesson could be a metaphor for other situations as well.

Ted 8:23 AM  

Rex and Will, man...

You guys need to get out more.

You don't think GARLIC BREAD is common when eating pasta dishes? It's like... required by law or something. It's got 100% coverage.

TomAz 8:23 AM  

Like @Thomaso I got SIROCCO almost immediately -- in fact it may have been the first word in the grid -- because of the old VW ads. XERISCAPING also easy except for having an O where that first I goes. SYNFUELS new but easily inferrable.

It's weird starting a puzzle in the SW, but on a Saturday one takes what one can get I suppose. The rest of the puzzle fell in bits and pieces. Winced at STADIA -- no one says that. I remember when Jimmy Carter made a reference to "SHACKing UP" and my mother was so shocked that a man running for President would talk like that. Man, were she alive today..

NW was last and hardest to fall. POINTE took forever to come to me. Didn't know that Asok was an INTERN. PISTIL very cleverly clued, I like it! I wanted ONIONY earlier in my solving but I didn't trust it. No idea about LYME.

But I got it done. I found this one of those 'hard but rewarding' puzzles. Liked it tons more than Rex.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

“Why doesn’t Mother fit for 43D?”

I’m dying. Brilliant.

QuasiMojo 8:37 AM  

I’m still getting that ghastly Beastie Boys video in Rex’s post. System Error? Or Terror?

How is the source for the name of a dreadful disease a “fun fact”?

Garlic bread is a “go-with” not a “lead-in” to pasta. Sometimes I wonder how parochial your world really is Rex if garlic bread is some kind of strange thing that offends your sensibilities. And you dislike the word roué? Why? Because it’s not in your wheelhouse?
It’s a perfectly charming word. And good crosswordese. I’ll take it any day over CIPRO.

The puzzle was tight and somewhat of a challenge but lacked a little je ne sais quoi. I felt a bit of ennui when it was over.

albatross shell 8:40 AM  

Sirocco is not only a VW it is also a Bogart movie. Even suspect I saw over 50 years ago on Million Dollar Movie. Or maybe The Late Show. Ahh, the Sycopated Clock.

Baffled 8:44 AM  

My husband is Italian (actually Sicilian), and I can attest that he wants as many carbs as possible at every meal. Pasta, bread? Heck yes, Bring it on!!!

Amy Yanni 8:46 AM  

Hand up on how I learned ROUE, Sue T. Also learned "ken" from the song. Interesting note Scott Thomas about the '80s. The phrase is a trifle harsh. XERISCAPING is new to me and that's fine. Simone was a gimme, loved her being there. Good challenge for a Saturday. Now time to get outside!

Teedmn 8:56 AM  

You will get no OUTCRY from me regarding this puzzle. I thought it was great fun, and pretty easy to boot. While I didn't blow through it like a SIROCCO, HER to HOSER to PARIAH got me going and only a slight hitch in the NE kept me from a perfectly smooth solve.

I was admiring the crossing of PIERCE and PiNS (skewers). And "I AM a rock" before ANON reminded me of I AM WOMAN. And RAMADANS had me changing GRANeRY and PiNS "fast".

Looking back at when I AM WOMAN was a hit, I realize that in the back of my 12-year-old mind, I was wondering why anyone had to sing such a song. Yeah, so what? Boy, was I naive! 46 years later...

Are those who are SHACKED UP living on SYN FUELS?

Thanks, Andrew Zhou.

Odd Sock 9:00 AM  

I grew up in the Midwest so every town in Connecticut seems historic.
@ Calvin S. 12:45, Good point.
I thought it was Villa d'Este.
Pluralizing Ramadans is rather questionable.
Spaghetti without garlic bread? Not at my table.
Xeriscape very common and common sense in the SW.
I got this done but instead of a feeling of triumph I just was glad it was over.

T Hunt 9:04 AM  

How is no one discussing 29D (“EMT”)? Yes, EMTs may aid childbirths, but “often” isn’t just unlikely - it’s statistically inaccurate. That one made no sense to me even once I knew the answer had to be “EMT.” I appreciate the effort to change up the clue but it should at least still be fitting...

Whatsername 9:09 AM  

@Brookboy - I too love garlic bread and like you, always used to forgo it in anticipation of the main course. However, with the wisdom of age I have learned to enjoy the bread - garlic or otherwise – while it’s fresh and hot from the oven, then take the rest home to enjoy a second time. That’s why God invented take out containers. It’s nearly impossible to duplicate the fresh quality of the bread by reheating, but put that leftover steak in a skillet with some hot bubbly butter, and it is IMO even better the second time around.

Oh, and if you’re ever in southern Missouri, near Sikeston or Ozark, take the time to stop at Lambert‘s Café for a meal. It’s the official home of the “throwed rolls.” Besides a heaping helping of delicious down home dining, they bring out a bushel basket of the fluffiest tastiest hot dinner rolls on the planet. Raise your hand and the server will toss you one or half a dozen. Feast on them with butter and molasses and all you can eat of the “pass arounds” and take your entree with you when you go. It may not be the place if you’re worried about “how many floury carbs you can eat in one meal,” but it’s worth the indulgence. In any case, enjoy!

@‘merican - Never heard your procto story before. Good one.

Hungry Mother 9:16 AM  

Quick one today although I’m suffering with a bad cold, which is screwing up my running training.

kitshef 9:16 AM  

Significantly easier than yesterday’s, so not sure why the days were not switched.

Another reminder that often the things Rex loves most in puzzles (like I CAN SEE THAT) I can’t abide.

@nitram – CIPRO is one of several brand names for ciproflaxin.

pabloinnh 9:17 AM  

PS-
Thanks for the clarification about LYME CT being the origin of Lyme disease. Those of us here in LYME NH spend a lot of time explaining this. Even better than seeing our home town get a shout out was seeing my granddaughter's first name and surname appearing in the same puzzle a few years ago.

Suzie Q 9:22 AM  

Coming in on the heels of yesterday's great fun puzzle this one had its work cut out for it. It was tough but lacked pizazz. I think Erica Jong had a name for this sort of thing. She called it a "zipless f&#@".
I had cop before EMT.
Roue has been in lots of crosswords. Why it is an issue today?
Rex, I am offended by your snobbish attitude about calling your wife mother. It once was quite common. My grandpa referred to my grandma this way.

GILL I. 9:26 AM  

Well...This is how it went for me: POINTE was my first entry. I didn't even have to take a breath. For a Saturday, that's a wow from me. Then I started wandering into my memory phase and remembered my first pair. Pink silk is gorgeous for a 6 year old. By the time I reached ten, I was told I would never have a career in pink POINTE shoes.
Wandered over to the ALARMS and GRANARY area. I knew they were right. So I look at the 14D clue and I had the G in place so without hesitation I penned in GIARDINIERA for that pasta dinner staple. It took a loooong time to change it to GARLIC BREAD. Funny, because during all my travels throughout Italy, never once was I served that stuff. I think it's an American/Italian invention. My mom was a terrible cook but she could slap together some of that stuff on a baguette with real butter and real garlic and some paprika and made it mouthwatering. I would eat that instead of her spaghetti .
I'm going to agree with @Rex on the blandness of today's. Some of it was fun (SHACKED UP) and some just ungettable and forgettable (XERISCAPING SYNFUELS).
Speaking of SHACKED UP....what's with the love nest? My senior friends call it sharing expenses.
SIMONE BILES took me forever to remember and that made me mad because when I saw her perform I thought she was something else. She's has an unforgettable name and she's cute as a button.
I'm also mad that ANIL wasn't clued as indigo dye just like god intended. I saw "Slumdog Millionaire" twice and I still couldn't tell you the names of any of the actors. So Boo, Hiss.
My dad always called me his little chestnut because of my hair color. Now I find out it's akin to the color of a baked potato.
I AM WOMAN, IYAM.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Had “_A_ _OMAN” in for 16 Across and immediately penned in “Machoman”. Had to do a 180 there.

Brian 9:37 AM  

Rare when Rex says challenging I got easy. (60% of my Saturday average.)

David 9:45 AM  

Actually TomAz, many people use correct Latin and Greek plurals and abhor using English plurals on those words, myself included. Until quite recently, the NYTimes used correct plurals in their news coverage. It's longer ago that the NYTimes puzzle used correct plurals (maybe as far back as the days when they also clued you into the fact that an answer was 2 or 3 words). For Will, the rule is, "use correct plurals when they work, use English plurals when they work". It is a maddening editorial rule; he should make a choice one way or the other.

I like the word roue, and roux is a combination of butter and flour which is cooked together before adding liquid to create sauces in classic French cooking. It's also the base of many Cajun dishes (with oil rather than butter), the big difference being that in French cooking one only lightly cooks the roux before adding other ingredients while in Cajun cooking the roux is cooked much longer to achieve different tastes. As the flour cooks it goes through fascinating stages from white to red to brown to black. Paul Prudhomme called this type of roux "kitchen napalm".

Garlic bread with pasta dinner? I guess at the Olive Garden and other such "Italian" restaurants.

I also found troop and m rating to be weird answers, but having been a computer/electronics geek since the early 70s, IT Team, system error, and adsite were easy (well, first I had "Adware" which is a much more common annoyance). And given the Greenland Ice Sheet has been in the news for its alarming retreat each summer, that seemed a gimme to me.

Mr. Grumpypants 9:59 AM  

Pretty sure that Xerox [insert little TM if you like] had a Greek derivation from "dry" -- which, for those of us old enough to remember, distinguished the process from those messy old mimeographs -- so that eventually came clear. Very nice Saturday puzzle, and another review tainted by Rex's complaints about things that HE does not know.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Acequias more than xeriscaping in SW. Trainmaster is official railroad terminology.

Rube 10:08 AM  

This is an accurate assessment. ANIL kapoor is a big time Indian actor. I use ROUE in conversation occasionally. And when I am challenged by a puzzle i don't walk away...i try to solve it. Isn't that idea?

Rob 10:20 AM  

Oof this was tough for me. PISTIL/LYME was very hard for me, as SAS XERISCAPING/ROES (I had DOES at first, but I suppose does aren't actually antlered. I also had RAKE FOR ROUE. I only know that word from crosswords, although my wife apparently knows it from The Sound of Music.

Nothing really WRONG with this puzzle, it just wasn't to my taste. Or anywhere near my taste.

I only ever remember KAREN Pence's name because of the mocking coverage of her Towel Charms "invention." Hey! That's MY towel!

Amie Devero 10:28 AM  

I love this puzzle. I got xeriscaping and pointe immediately. I guess working in smart cities and being a former professional dancer helped. I disagree with Rex that it was very boyish. Although I was pretty locked out by 32d, but got it through crosses. Geuss it really touched on lots of areas that I happen to have knowledge about and was much more accessible to me than ones that are laden with pop culture references, or proper names that I never know. 11d was my only major complaint. It was such a distortion of the actual rating system that even after I cheated and googled the system I had no clue. So despite really enjoying the puzzle, it was a DNF.

Z 10:31 AM  

Some thought provoking comments today.

@T Hunt - I didn’t even pause as I solved, but you’re right. Three deliveries here and nary an EMT to be found. Not even for the one that happened while Grand Rapids was under a fairly treacherous ICE SHEET. I think the whole EMT/cop helping with an emergency delivery is a comedic trope that has little to do with hardly anyone’s actual experience.

@kitshef - De gustibus non est disputandum. Which is why I am always amazed when someone reads Rex as having taken “offense” (looking at you @quasimojo). I didn’t much like what Rex didn’t much like. I also didn’t see the charm in the colloquialisms today either. But that is just him expressing his opinion.

@Mr. Grumpypants - Interesting way to get that answer. The things you learn from the comments are a great reason to read them. Thx.

@David - Screw correctness - STADIAPODES!!!

Nancy 10:51 AM  



Met stiff resistance -- almost to the point of despair -- at the entry point. Asok, the unknown (to me) INTERN, along with NES (whatever that is), along with wanting TOE SHOE where POINTE is (I had no idea that POINTE was spelled with an "E") all kept me out of the NE until much later. This despite getting ENNUI right off the bat. And because I wanted ONION, not ONIONY, I didn't write that in either.

I wish the museum had installations that were more...artistic than ALARMS.

LYME is "historic" because of the disease?

I've heard of an R rating, an X rating and an XXX rating. But what's an M rating?

I knew ACL TEAR from very few crosses. Many of my tennis playing friends have had one. Wish it weren't so familiar.

It could have been a SALAD and it could have been a SAUCE. GARLIC BREAD (14D) was a nice answer.

I was so sure I wouldn't be able to solve this when I began. I did, and I'm feeling smart. Loved the tough cluing of this puzzle; the fact that there was so little PPP (though all of it was in the most inconvenient place; isn't that always the way it is?); and the challenge it provided. Nice job.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

David,
You may want to retthink your snark. The oldest continually oleratin restaurant in the ckuntry is a South Philly joint called Ralphs, its more Italian than Garribaldi. They serve every iteration of gread athe table including garlic bread. A bLock away at Dante and Luigi's--- where Little Nicky Scarfo, son of the Philly Mobs capo di tutti capi, was shot 6 times. There ws blood and bread all over the table.

Z,
For a guy who talks about the motor citys car bona fides, you seem oddly and profoundly ignorant. The VW sirocco was a quite a little sensation upon its US arrival. The Maserati ghibli is another famous model named for Saharan winds.there are others but sonce youre the hot air around here ill let it go.

Rex,
I beat your time. I never have before, I doubt I ever will again, but today I am anonymous, hear me roar.

TomAz 11:21 AM  

@David 9:45a:

STADIA is the "correct" plural in Latin, but I am not speaking Latin, I am speaking English. "Stadiums" works just fine. Using STADIA feels more like a marker for social class than an actually useful rule of grammar.

JC66 11:24 AM  

Why wouldn't an EMT often be a pre-hospital child birth aide?

@Gill I

you hair color comment made me Laugh Out Loud!

Tita A 11:36 AM  

@Mr. Grump...right you are!! Xerography, or "dry printing" is the derivation for the company name.

Happy New Year everyone! I've not been doing puzzles lately (started a new job!),but yesterday did all puzzles from Jan1.
This morning sat down to Saturday, scared that I had lost my touch I finished in record Saturday time (for me), and waved to see how Rex rated it, figuring it had to have earned an MRATING... M for Mindless.
Was so delighted to see "Challenging"!

I still got it!!


Hope all is well in Rexville. I'll try to decide to resolve to do the puzzles every day again.

Cheers!

TubaDon 11:36 AM  

Filled in the NW in nothing flat, then came to a screeching halt. Made my share of blunders, including misspelling XERESCAPE and guessing MISTRAL, which took me an hour to correct. My visit to Greenland on an eclipse expedition included rashly swimming in an unfrozen pool in the ICESHEET. Brr. Sorry, but OLD LYME is more historic town than LYME by far, and is also the origin of the disease name, according to Wikipedia.

newspaperguy 11:39 AM  

I read through all of Rex's blog and then readers' comments and found not a word of OUTCRY about the pejorative word HOSERS. As a Canadian I am dismayed that we apparently do not qualify for defense by the politically correct police. I feel like I just got hit with a BEANER.

Nancy 11:43 AM  

Go grab yourself a name, @Anon 11:09, so we'll all know you in the future. "I am anonymous, hear me roar" is a terrific line!

@kitshef (9:16)-- Funny, but I found today's puzzle considerably harder than yesterday's. Yesterday's was lively and it certainly had challenge, but at no point did I think I might not finish it.

@GILL (9:26) -- Sounds to me like your mother "the terrible cook" wasn't all that terrible. I'm salivating right now for her homemade GARLIC BREAD, made with real GARLIC. While I'm not a huge bread eater, I do love garlic bread. When I order in takeout and the order includes the restaurant's bread, that bread is seldom that great. I "doctor" it, by heaping lots of butter on it, pouring a generous amount of McCormick's Minced Garlic on top of the butter and popping it in the microwave on medium for about 15 seconds. It's not the real thing, but it makes mediocre bread taste really good. Highly recommended to those who, like me, are not cooks at all -- even terrible ones.

JC66 11:50 AM  

Oh, and @LMS

In the middle of the last century, my high school chemistry teacher pulled the "switching fingers" trick on us using some disgusting liquid. I can't recall which liquid, but I sure remember the trick.

Roo Monster 12:06 PM  

Hey All !
Well, I did use Check Feature today, unlike YesterPuz. When faced with a challenging SatPuz, it helps me to root out wrongness, otherwise I'd be staring for hours and would never be able to figure it out. I'm not that patient! :-)

That said, it turned out to be a medium-tough solve. arenes first for STADIA, which when I Checked, got me off that and helped move things along once I changed it. Wrote in _CLTEAR, waiting in the cross for the A or M. SYN was alt-bio-noN-SYN. grOuP-TROOP. CIPRO is widely used? OK, if you say so.

MRATED is usually stated in the ads as RATED M for Mature.

This ROO is no ROUE. :-)

ONIONY HOSERS
RooMonster
DarrinV

VictorS 12:18 PM  

While ciprofloxacin has long been generic the brand name when introduced was Cipro

JOHN X 12:38 PM  

Well this was definitely a good Saturday puzzle. "Challenging" is right, as it should be.

It was tough but everything was ultimately gettable. The trick was that the puzzle was in a language that looked a lot like English but wasn't quite. Figuring this out was the real solution to the grid. Ingenious.

In honor of that, here's Homer Simpson's female doppelgänger singing "I Am Woman" in English and Italian.

Teedmn 12:47 PM  

Yay, @Tita A. Welcome back and congratulations on the job. I look forward to reading your comments again.

CDilly52 12:57 PM  

I am like @Lewis. Stare at the white, stare at the white...drink coffee...repeat. Took as long to get started as to finish. The ACL and TRAINMASTER got me started. I thank my dear and alas recently departed husband for schooling me about railroads. He was a model train enthusiast and a train enthusiast. This was just plain hard for me in the NW and NE. Got POINT shoe immediately, having purchased several hundred pairs while my daughter danced but after that, I had nothing and I mean nothing until my toehold, after which, everything fell except the tough NW. I did get the NE from the bottom up. And I @SueT, I also learned ROUE’ from Sound of Music. I sing the “16 going on 17” song in my head for a couple days every single time that word shows up in a crossword! Good Saturday toughness but it lacked humor and cleverness (unlike @LMS who gives me a laugh almost daily). So who am I to say something like that-what an ego! As if I could construct a puzzle and get it published...sheesh! Apologies to our successful constructor.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

To borrow a phrase from Jed Clampett, “W-o-o-o doggies!” That was a tough one. Thanks very much for the challenge, Mr. Zhou. Whew!

Banana Diaquiri 2:18 PM  

@newspaperguy:
not a word of OUTCRY about the pejorative word HOSERS.

well... this is what a couple of Canadians call themselves; it seems the term originated with them. it's not a pejorative (if it really is) imposed by Others. let's here it for Doug and Bob McKenzie, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_and_Doug_McKenzie

Big Steve 46 2:29 PM  

I am surprised that no one else seconded or commented on entry number one, as to the acceptability of PLO and the abhorrence of NRA. I don't think too much of either organization but find both perfectly acceptable crossword puzzle answers. But if one of those is taboo, the other has got to go, too. Outside of blatant obscenities and smears, I think it better to just look at words in the puzzle as comprising the correct letters to fill the box, as the constructor designed it. (Although I would rather have an NRA guy living next door than a PLO guy.)

Carola 2:32 PM  

Medium here. After a promising start (I thought) with ONIONY x LYME + TOE x ??TEAM, I could make no further progress up top. So, thank goodness for SIMONE BILES, whose crosses unlocked the rest of the grid for me.

GARLIC BREAD - up through the years of my early married life (1970s), serving it with spaghetti with meat sauce when you had people over was the height of sophistication. Also delicious. Great for mopping the plate, too.

@TomAZ, I've been thinking about your comments regarding vocabulary as a social class marker - remember also LETHEAN from a while back? My. first impulse was to argue against associating knowledge of such vocabulary, or plurals like STADIA with an elevated social class, given my own background in a lower middle-class family. As a child and teen, I practically lived at the public library and read my way through the shelves picking up all sorts of vocabulary along the way (the mythology section giving me LETHE, for example). But, basically, it turned out I was reading my way into college and thus eventually up some rungs on the social class ladder. So, for me the association is in fact there, although in an after-the-fact sort of way. Sorry for the ramble; I just wanted to let know you that you've made me think about this.

@Tita A - Great to see you back!

Ellen S 2:33 PM  

@THunt - I wondered the same thing about EMTs. “Often” assisting at births seems wildly improbable.

In other news, it took me three tries to get XERISCAPING spelled correctly. I knew XER- was correct (like XEROX machines = dry copying), but first had XERE—- and when that didn’t work I tried XERO— which didn’t look right but Puzzazz seemed to like that choice, until it didn’t. And I didn’t. Running out of vowels, XERI— did the trick.

Anoa Bob 2:38 PM  

I had a small lawn care and landscaping business many moons ago, so got XERISCAPING went right in off of the X in 22D SEXIST.

Once tried to put together a themed puzz with different names for winds being the theme, so SIROCCO was in my back pocket. Also remember the VW with that name. There are a number of names for winds out there but I was not able to get matching letter counts. Maybe I should have used a plural of convenience (POC) or two to make it work.

Speaking of which, if you are still working toward your POC merit badge, there are three (almost four) two-for-one POCs in the grid, where a Down and an Across share that ultra handy, letter-count boosting S at their ends. Find them, write your solution on the back of a C note and send it to me. If you haven't heard back within a couple of months or so, it's probably because of some SYSTEM ERROR.

Masked and Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Great themeless grid design … most of its black squares "travel in large numbers".

M&A's solvequest started out pretty darn sparse: a TOE hold here, an ANON/NATO there. The precious nanoseconds traveled out the rear window in large numbers. But, finally, some stuff saved my SatPuz bacon …
* INASPIRAL. Got this off pure nuthin. I was desperate, at the time. And kinda lucky.
* TRAINMASTER. Got this off the startin TR-. Owe in all to my dear departed father-in-law, who was a conductor on the Santa Fe RR for many years [yo,@CDilly52].
* GARLICBREAD. Well, at least the GARLIC part. Wanted GARLICPRESS, at first. Becuz I ate at the Olive Garden last night, who mainly serve the BREADBREAD.
* SHACKEDUP. I think I got it off the starting S-.

On the other side of the wall, encountered significant government-shutdowns, in the spheres of influence of:
* XERISCAPING. Learned some new scapin terminology, here. From Greek xeros, meaning "dry". Either that or the whole thing was invented by a xerox repair dude.
* SIMONEBILES. Knew she would sound familiar, once I had most of her name already spelled out. Had no problem, once I got to SIM?NEB?LES.

Cool PISTIL clue ahar moment.
staff weeject pick: HER. She traveled in a large number (well, three) of fill-in-the-blank clues, all wadded up together within a themeless [weird].

A little Ow de Speration here and there, but nuthin heart-stoppinly above an M RATING.

Welcome the heck back, @Tita darlin.
Thanx for the feisty distraction, Mr. Zhou.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


**gruntz**

JC66 2:43 PM  

@Ellen S

Not to beat a dead EMT, but the clue for 29D reads "Pre-hosp childbirth..."

JC66 2:48 PM  

Yes! Welcome back, @Tita.

The guy in Nampa 3:14 PM  

Add me to the "nope. Didn't like it" column.

GILL I. 3:42 PM  

Hey @Tita...Can't wait to hear the name of the new Company you're working for... ;-)
Glad you're back. You've been missed.

Lurker Librarian 3:48 PM  

@JC66 The objection isn't to do with whether an EMT might assist--it's to the "often" part of the clue. EMT assistance is quite rare. Early labor can go on for hours. While I do know a couple of exceptions to this, most women have ample time to get to the hospital or summon their midwife or whatever. TV and movies give a skewed impression because emergency births are dramatic or comedic and no audience would want to watch six hours of walking in the hospital hallways to "try to get things moving. "

Other than that, enjoyed the puzzle. Mostly in my wheelhouse for once.

Lewis 3:59 PM  

@tita -- Yay! Happy that you're back!

Rampart General 4:17 PM  

Nine years as a paramedic assisting with two births that happened at the scene.
It didn't happen often but it was always memorable.

Banana Diaquiri 4:32 PM  

so, newspaperguy, if Bob and Doug didn't spontaneously invent a meme, where did it come from? and wherever it came from, it isn't on the same level of various ethnic/racial slurs I won't type out.

JC66 4:36 PM  

@Lurker Librarian

It may very well be rare, but I read the clue as the birth occurring before (PRE) the hospital was reached.

It is Saturday.

Terry 4:55 PM  

My father worked for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad so I threw down trainmaster and thought of him. He was an old timer so he also said “shacked up” to refer to unmarried cohabitation back when it was not common. Easiest Saturday ever for me.

Nancy 5:07 PM  

I wondered where you'd gone off to, @Tita. And for so long. Glad it was all in a good cause. Welcome back!

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri (sic)

Who made you the judge of what is and isn't a slur?

Gregory Schmidt 5:42 PM  

Faster than average for me. Had one mistake. I always forget that PISTIL is not spelled PISTOL, so had ONASPIRAL, which didn't look right, but figured it was just the constructor being sloppy with the idiom. I guess INASPIRAL is moderately better.

Gregory Schmidt 5:45 PM  

"...how many floury carbs can you eat in one meal?"

How many Italo-American family dinners have you been to, Signore Parker?

Banana Diaquiri 5:50 PM  

@anon/5:08 -

no one made me the judge. I don't assert such. however, the history of a term *is*. and the history of HOSER, so far, is that it isn't a slur on CANADIANs. it's just another, CANADIAN, way of saying LOSER. it doesn't refer to all CANADIANS in any way. it doesn't refer to some subset of CANADIANs in an ethnic/racial sense. it was coined by CANADIANs about some CANADIANs. it might, by a stretch, be similar to Redneck or Effete Eastern Intellectual. that newspaperguy or you would assert that it's a slur, i.e. in the sense of the N-word, fur instant, is ridiculous. if it is, offer some evidence more than personal assertion, which is all that you and newspaperguy have on offer. that way be Trumpian.

adopting the mantel of repressed minority (which is what slur expresses), without justification, is Trumpian.

if it's a slur, which is to assert on the level of the N-word, offer some proof. not just personal blathering.

Lois Lane 6:14 PM  

@banana: Pretty sure the guy was just playing you (and Rex and the rest of the language Nazis).

CG 6:48 PM  

Does I CAN SEE THAT make sense to all of you? Don't we say "I can see that" when something wasn't obvious, but now that the other person mentions it, it makes sense? Am I thinking about this wrong?

Renita Jenkins 6:49 PM  

Hahaha that’s how I know it! (To be honest, any history I retain comes from musicals.)

CG 6:55 PM  

OK...I get it. Like someone with an afro now has a buzzcut ("I got a haircut." "I can see that.") I could not at all read it any other way than like, "She's thinking about moving to Paris." "Diane living in Paris? I can see that."

Very frustrating. This puzzle was not easy for me.

JC66 8:33 PM  

Anyone still reading these comments who hasn't yet done tomorrow's CC offering, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

Mike E 8:37 PM  

Just to put in one more musical reference, I know ROUE not from The Sound of Music but from Pippin. ("No Time At All" Great song.) . Enjoyed the puzzle overall because I finished it without Googling anything. Even afterwards.

burtonkd 8:37 PM  

Was watching arrested development last night and a very quick amyl nitrate joke went by. Thank you xword puzzle for having that in my consciousness.

Chronic dnfer 9:01 PM  

Couldn’t recover from mistral.

Tita A 9:05 PM  

Thanks, @Everyone! Reading through all the comments feels like coming back home - I knew i missed all y'all - but I forgot just how much! @lms put it very well a year or so back - I too feel like so many of you are real friends - whether we've met in person or not...

@Newspaper & Bananas - my new company is based in Ottawa - next time I'm there, I'll show them the HOSER-related kerfuffle and get their input. They're all so nice and pollite - I haven't heard a single pejorative out of them yet...

@Gill - Slice Labs, since you asked. Small startup in Fintech/Insuretech. I"m having a blast.

Unknown 10:11 PM  

My first time.

Z 10:24 PM  

Regarding HOSERS, you can look it up. There’s even more at the wikipedia page for it. And if you don’t know the difference between insulting someone for who they are and insulting people for what they do people will conclude that you’re a a racist bigot. I guess it could be that you are just unaware, but most people are still going to conclude you’re racist. Let me suggest that you learn the difference so nobody mistakes you for a racist.

Brooklyn, NY 10:43 PM  

To Z, Banana and anyone else who thinks that guy was really offended by hosers: Bridge For Sale

Yam Erez 2:49 PM  

I contend that shacking up does not equate to "lived in a love nest". Just because two people cohabit doesn't mean they're constantly going at it. In fact, they could be constantly at each others' throats, or hate each others' guts; but they're co-habiting, ergo, they're shacking up. Strictly a dwelling classification; does not require love.

Anonymous 9:24 PM  

It's "Eager young lads, and roues and cads..."

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