Roman magistrate's attendants / SAT 1-12-19 / Onetime California fort / Nickname for Adrianus / Grammy-winning group whose name is an homage to the Monkees / Reader's Encyclopedia classic literary reference

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Constructor: Sam Trabucco

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:01) (personal record by over a minute)*

THEME: TEAM! — just kidding, there's no theme, but there are two TEAMs ... and lots and lots of sports, generally ...

Word of the Day: LICTORS (44A: Roman magistrate's attendants) —
  1. (in ancient Rome) an officer attending the consul or other magistrate, bearing the fasces, and executing sentences on offenders. (google)
• • •

Hello! It's the first full week after New Year's Day and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. As you know, I write this blog every. Single. Day. OK, two days a month I pay young people to write it, but every other day, all me. OK sometimes I take vacations and generous friends of mine sit in, but otherwise, I'm a non-stop blogging machine. Seriously, it's a lot of work. It's at least as much work as my day job, and unlike my day job, the hours *kinda* suck—I typically solve and write between 10pm and midnight, or in the early hours of the morning, so that the blog can be up and ready for you to read with your breakfast or on the train or in a forest or wherever it is you enjoy the internet. I have no major expenses, just my time. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog in any way beyond simply asking for money once a year. I hate ads in real life, so why would I subject you all to them. I actually considered redesigning the site earlier this year, making it slicker or fancier somehow. I even got the process partly underway, but then when I let slip that I was considering it, feedback was brisk and clear: don't change. Turns out people don't really want whistles and bells. Just the plain, internet-retro style of a blogger blog. So that's what you're getting. No amount of technical tinkering is gonna change the blog, which is essentially just my voice. My ridiculous opinionated voice yelling at you, cheerfully and angrily, about how much I love / hate crosswords. I hope that this site has made you laugh or taught you things or given you a feeling of shared joy, or anger, or failure, or even given you someone to yell at. I'm fine with that. I also hope I've introduced some of you to the Wider World of Crosswords, beyond the NYT. I am passionate about puzzles and I (mostly) adore the people who solve them—so many of my friends, and the thousands of you I've never met. I can't stop, and I won't stop, and I hope you find that effort worth supporting.

Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address:

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions (I. Love. Snail mail!) will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. This year's cards are illustrations from "Alice in Wonderland"—all kinds of illustrations from throughout the book's publication history. Who will get the coveted, crosswordesey "EATME!" card!? Someone, I'm sure. You, I hope. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

Wow this was easy. For me. Beyond easy. This was that-dude-playing-golf-in-the-rain-storm-in-"Caddyshack" easy for me—everything was just going in. I could do no wrong. Every clue I looked at turned into an answer. It's like it was written especially for me. I mean, The City I Live In Is In The Dang Clues. I wasn't even focused on going particularly fast, and I nearly broke 4 minutes. My Saturday record (since April '18) is now faster than my Friday record, that's how fast I went. I was within 11 seconds of my *Tuesday* time, that's how fast I went. I'M SPEECHLESS! Figuratively! It definitely helped to have some basic sports knowledge, and this puzzle will break hard along sports knowledge lines. Between two TEAMs (SKI and NFC, what the hell?) and THE ESPYS, and PUT ON A CLINIC and MIRACLE ON ICE, yeah, yikes, it's sports-tastic. But all those things were solidly in my sporty lexicon, and only PUT ON A CLINIC caused me even a moment's hesitation. Just when I was thinking I was getting slower and slower and would never approach a personal record again ... this happens. Completely unexpected and weird. I have many Tuesday times that are slower than this. But I know that we are all only one or two proper nouns or slang phrases away from total destruction on any puzzle, so your experience may be very, very different.

Got POGS and EVOKE right away, which meant ESP and SKITEAM and NOLA and ABLE and most of the NW very quickly followed. I had OVERRODE at first instead of OVERBORE (13A: Domineered). Other than that, fast work up there. If you didn't know GORILLAZ ... that's a generational thing, for sure (15A: Grammy-winning group whose name is an homage to the Monkees). I think of them as a fictional / animated band because of their first famous video from circa 2001, "Clint Eastwood." Maybe they are less fictional and animated now. I really haven't been paying close enough attention.

I went diagonally thru this thing to the SE, where "Y" in THEESPYS gave me SYSTOLE which game me TEAM, MATS, CCUP etc. Shot up through MIRACLE ON ICE (very easy when you've got ON ICE in place). Then PUT ON A CLINIC to VANILLI (way too easy) (9D: Music's Milli ___) and from there the rest of the NE went down, despite BENETS being (to me) not familiar (16A: ___ Reader's Encyclopedia (classic literary reference)). That just left the SW, where LICTORS was the only true "???" in the whole grid, and briefly prevented me from storming the corner. But then God sat in my lap with 50A: New York city west of Binghamton (!!) (ELMIRA), and that whole corner went down fast. Looked at timer. 4:01. Bonkers.

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

*personal record since I started keeping consistent records, April '18

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


puzzlehoarder 1:41 AM  

When I saw all the cheater squares I figured that they're there for a good reason. That would be shorter entries that produced some late week challenge. For me this puzzle delivered.

A lot of my time was generated by spinning my wheels on that NW corner. I put in NOLA and left it at that.

The NE corner was easy pickings but I couldn't move into the middle. The clue for 20A is a complete debut. The BR- at 16D only made me think of BRIDLE-something and how someone out there is trying to make JODPHURS work.

The SW was easy too and from there the rest went in steadily. I've never seen LICTORS before but that's one Scrabble bingo I won't have to learn now.

Back filling the NW proved to be easy and was my favorite section.

jae 1:41 AM  

Easy-medium. This is a mixed bag. Good: GORILLAZ, PUT ON A CLINIC, MS PAC-MAN... Not so good: PEP BANDS, TEAM twice, OVERBORE...

I have mixed feelings.

okanaganer 1:51 AM  

I thought Uranus and Neptune were GAS GIANTS.

For Oasis and that other band I don't know, had ROCK POP at first.

I was in college when the MIRACLE ON ICE happened. Here in Canada we had been shut out of the Olympic hockey medals since the 1950s and were crazy jealous of the unbelievable USA victory. At a time when the US was at a global low point... kind of like now?

Oh, and great puzzle.

chris b 1:54 AM  

A personal best for me as well. Everything just fell into place.

GORILLAZ-BRITPOP crossing was cute: Damon Albarn is the lead singer of both Blur and Gorillaz.

Larry Gilstrap 2:33 AM  

I want what Rex is having. His solve time is less than the time I spent erasing. Lots of staring at blank squares in the NW and rereading of clues. I actually have a BENET'S Reader's Encyclopedia looming over my right shoulder here in my book-lined study. Should be an accent over the last E, but it's getting late.

Thank heaven, I currently do not have a GLAND that is not secretive, to my knowledge.

Wow! Binghamton clues ELMIRA and I'm thanking OFL is getting trolled. Wait! Yesterday, he pimped Jeff Chen's new book? Is it detente with the NYT puzzle? Odds on seeing him at Stamford? I've had a cocktail or two.

Is it warm in here, or did I just mistakenly cross NFL TEAM with an L-CUP bra size? I've heard size matters, but putting PETTING in the same grid is nearly licentious. Oddly, LOTHARIO was my nickname in college, as I recollect.

The MIRACLE ON ICE was phenomenal. The USA was ecstatic because the Russians were viewed as the bad guys way back in 1980, as I recollect.

Growing up, my folks would drive my family from Southern California to visit their parents in the Ozarks, near Joplin and Neosho. Culture shock! I remember sitting in a diner in AMARILLO, TX and peering out a window pretty much obliterated by swarming insects.

I'll buy silver, or even gold, but a diamond looks that much better than a cubic ZIRCONIA because...?

DeeJay 6:08 AM  

Great puz, lots a fun.

Lewis 6:58 AM  

A steady drizzle of ahas requiring multiple revisits of areas, with the fill-ins steering the way to an eventual Filled In. Persistence leading to permeation leading to perfecto. So satisfying and enjoyable. I'll take a cup o' Sam anytime. Thank you, sir!

Evan Jordan 7:12 AM  

Personal best by a mile and a half as well as a very fun solve. The puzzle did not feel unchallenging — I had sticky moments — but vast swaths in between seemed to leap from brain to grid like magnetic sparks.

OffTheGrid 7:18 AM  

Lovely puzzle. Too bad it was dumbed down by using "?" clues. Inexcusable.

abalani500 7:52 AM  

A rare Saturday finish for me, and half my normal time (“only” 7x slower than Rex). ICOULDNT resist this great puzzle, though I needed my sixth of five to get the “o” in LICTORS/ORD. Most amusing observations for me:
VANILLI as far from SONG as you can get

Alicia 7:53 AM  

You don't sweat or make saliva?! Eek.

Z 7:59 AM  

Not 4-minutes fast, but, yeah, pretty easy here, too. NE, SE, SW, NW, Middle. Not knowing SCACCHI and not having used I’M SPEECHLESS ironically (I guess it is that you have to speak to say it that makes it ironic?) were my only real slow downs. Oh, Ft. ORD crossing LICTORS was only possible because the fort clue has appeared before. I guess an O’Hare clue is too easy for a Saturday.

Does anyone ever actually use OVERBORE? To me the adjective “overbearing” sounds right and the past tense verb seems a stretch. That and never realizing that GORILLAZ was a Monkees homage meant I needed POGS to get the NE going. POGS seem very 1995 to me. I can’t recall seeing them in the two decades since. Hand up for thinking of the NE as the Damon Albarn corner. I’ve been to a GORILLAZ concert. It was a lot of fun. I also have a couple of Graham Coxon albums, but somehow missed Blur the first time around. Maybe it’s time to put The Magic Whip on the (metaphorical) turntable.

Space Is Deep 8:08 AM  

Pretty easy, not Rex easy, but easy. And this is despite never having heard of Elmira, population 29,000! Heck, we have five cities in Nebraska bigger than that!

Unknown 8:09 AM  

Totally had to admit I was a few years too old to ‘get’ a lot of this puzzle. So thanks to a few ‘cheat’ with Rex, I managed to complete it. 85% my own work so not a good grade. But at least it is done and I can move on with the day

Amy Yanni 8:26 AM  

Thought of you Rex when I got to the Binghamton clue. It took me a while to figure out we had to spell "etcetera." Also had "stag" instead of "song" for too long, even though I knew Amarillo. I do ok with sports clues, but it seems I need to read more comic books and play some arcade games to become more skilled at xwords. Not complaining; not at all. Fun solve and I like Saturday to last a bit. And it did!

Robso 8:31 AM  

There are only a few time in life that being from Elmira has given me an advantage in life--today was one of them. Still trying to figure out how you get PERISH from "Pass on."

John Hnedak 8:40 AM  

I was killed from the start by an error at 13A, "overrode" instead of "overbore", which kept me away from "able" and "drama coach". So no traction in the NW, and no help from the critical placement of 7D. Never heard of pep bands, gorillas, Benets, put on a clinic (???!!), Miracle on Ice, and how the hell do you spell Scacchi? So the whole center was a dead zone until the very end, when I finally saw 13D and could correct the other mistakes.

And yet I found this very enjoyable.

QuasiMojo 8:41 AM  

Goodness me! Rex did this bear in 4 minutes? I am SPEECHLESS. I COULDNT. No MIRACLE here. And certainly no ESPY for speed solving. Maybe there is a Generation Gap. I had no idea what half of these things were. Pep Bands? POGS? Gorillaz? Brit Pop? Et Cetera. And no doubt Peter Cetera too. And that was just one corner! For the life of me I can never spell Greta’s last name. I always confuse it with Saatchi. Great actress though. I consider myself literary but I’ve never heard of that encyclopedia. Bartletts, Rogets, Brewers, Bullfinchs, Mrs Byrnes, and many others. But Benet? Good to learn something today. The double TEAM today really threw me so I erased Ski Team after seeing NFC Team. I also fell for Erte before Eero. And stuff like Jer and Arie seemed like true junk fill. The one thing I was sure of was Elmira. I’ve been there. I can scratch that off my bucket list! I managed to finish this in 24 minutes which is a bit longer than my usual time for Sat. But it was not a thrill. Maybe I’ll go listen to some Milli Vanilli. PERISH the thought!

Joe R. 8:44 AM  

This was a personal Saturday record for me too (at 12:07, a bit slower than OFL’s time), but that was despite all the sportsing stuff, not because of it. I started slow, getting only VANILLI and LARA in the top half, but in the SW I got HAM right away, and then MSPACMAN, and things started to fall. I bounced around the grid a lot, and was surprised to find I’d set a record when I was done.

Kdunk 8:48 AM  

How are we not talking about the Duplicate ICE answers? Not to mention that Elmira/Ord is a Natick (NY/CA edition).

Penalty Flag 8:51 AM  

In the spirit of the puzzle's "theme," I'm throwing a flag for the double mention of TEAM. 15 year penalty and loss of is under review to see if the constructor did it on purpose and to determine if he should be ejected.

It's no wonder that Rex did well (it is a wonder he did it in 4 minutes...I can't do many things at all in 4 minutes), this puzzle was silly easy. It felt like one of those co-constructor puzzles that the NYT does occasionally with celebrities. And, of course, the celebrity here would be some kind of football person. Maybe Al Michaels....? Why wasn't ARIE ( Luyendyk) clued as an Indy 500 champion? You also have COACHES, Mia HAMm, and SCACCHI ball...which I think they play in Italy. To the LICTORS go the spoils.

The true mystery here is how two TEAMs got by the editing staff? That's like xword editing 101. Hard to imagine why I pay money for this thing.

David 8:52 AM  

Pretty thoroughly enjoyable tho' not as easy for me as for Rex. Also Elmira. Yes. As easy to get as Taconic for a New Yorker. Wasn't Milli in a puzzle this week? Last letter to go in was the "o" in lictors as I had no clue about the fort. Just looked at "lict rs" and thought, Latin... must be an o. Done!

Only thing that irked me was "Mr Right"; such an antiquated idea that leads to many divorces. How about marrying somebody you like rather than a mythological figure? I've never met a spouse in a long term relationship who was the perfect ideal of a person, just people who truly enjoy, support, and respect each other.

Bob Mills 9:05 AM  

I got it from the crosses, but I have no idea what a "POG" is. Will somebody elucidate?

MickMcMick 9:17 AM  

Blew through this one save the NW.The Gorillaz thing is not my generation plus the use of team twice in this puzzle gave me pause. Greta Scacchi 💋

Wm. C. 9:20 AM  

@Robso8:31 -- @Quasi8:41 illustrated it, but ... "Pass On" in this case means to die.

@BobM9:05 -- a POG is a type of kid's collectible disc that are traded or competed with.

Z 9:23 AM  

@Robso - Pass On is generally something one does in their sleep while PERISH is something one does in a fire or car accident, but in the end one is dead either way.

@Bob Mills - I suggest Uncle Google. POGS were a fad in the mid ‘90’s, and like most fads are a little hard to explain.

Hungry Mother 9:26 AM  

Slogged it out, slowly and painfully. BRITBANDS was my last entry, but PERISH was the key to the finish. I always feel good about a Saturday solve, however sluggish.

GILL I. 9:30 AM  

Well, yeah, my experience was very, very different. Like funny @Larry G Mr. LOTHARIO, I spent @Rex's solve time just staring at a multitude of clues and answers. PUT ON A CLINIC LICTORS? SEZ who?
VILA /VANILLI got me started. Seems like MILLI and VANILLI are making the rounds. Comeuppance time?
Wearing britches instead of BREECHES didn't help. I used to wear those things but I always called them britches or better yet, jodhpurs.
Some stuff I sorta breezed through. I was scared to put in the answers because they felt too easy for a Saturday. Then I come to words I've never heard of. The surround music helped.
I got MIRACLE ON ICE with effort and immediately thought of Torvill and Dean and skating to Bolero. I guess it was a hockey game instead (sigh).
Is there such a thing as an NFB TEAM? I always thought a CCUP was in the larger area. What's with all the bra clues anyway? Just toss them; they're useless.
Easy part for me was the southwest. I don't really eat pizza because I don't like it but I'll tell you that the only pizza I could ever swallow was the Hawaiian HAM and pineapple. Go ahead and gag you pizza snobs - my son did, but it was the least greasy of the lot.
Thanks for the AMARILLO George Strait song. #1 son got me into Country Western and good ol boy George was one of my favorite honky tonk singers. I even learned a couple of those western two-step dances. Too bad, I didn't drink beer.
Speaking of husband and I took Route 66 as often as possible. AMARILLO has only one thing in it and that's the tacky Cadillac Ranch. Nothing else counts.
This is to my men friends who might think of buying a little something something for their inamoratas....Don't EVER think about buying a ZIRCONIA and passing it off as a sweet little diamond. It screams FAKE. I promise you. You'll always be remembered as being el cheapo. If you can't afford the real thing, then take her out for a lobster dinner and pay for hers.

kitshef 9:34 AM  

Once again, Saturday easier than Friday. MIRACLE ON ICE was such a huge giveaway. SCACCHI sure looked wrong, but all the crosses were fair. Ditto for LICTORS.

PETTING zoos are awful places. Smelly, dusty, filled with animal waste. Heavy PETTING zoos, on the other hand ...

GILL earlier this week, MUSE today. I predict QUASIMOJO will be a themer tomorrow.

Great clue for GLAND.

Teedmn 9:35 AM  

So Sam double-TEAMed us today. I didn't put in the obvious SKI TEAM for that very reason, which held me up in the NW, my final quadrant today.

I solved very sloppily today. I went with @Larry Gilstrap's L CUP - I had left the CUP size empty, wondering what was considered "average". When the NFl came along, I never looked back. Someone is probably looking for breast reduction surgery right about now. (We won't even mention being too big for one's BRitCHES).

_UTONACLINIC sat for a long time. Huh?

I loved! the clue for GLAND. That was such a great aha moment.

With MIRACLE ON ICE in place, the first name in design had to be cocO, sigh. I finally decided ET CETERA had to be right, and the solve went on.

Thanks Sam, you got me good today.

TubaDon 9:38 AM  

To get my solve times, you must multiply Rex's times by eight. Looking for long gimmies, SKITEAM went in first, then I tried IMGOBSMACKED ! but SYSTOLE got me out of that one. The AMARILLO/ELMIRA cross keyed the SW (once spent some vacation time in ELMIRA watching gliders and visiting the Twain sites). ZIRCONIA clued the SE, LOTHARIO the NE. NW was the stumbling block, with POGS (no idea what they are) being the final entry.

ghthree 9:39 AM  

@Bob Mills: POG is Passionfruit, Orange and Grape. My wife and I drank it on a flight between Hawaii (the Big Island) and Oahu.
@Robso: "Pass on" (or simply "Pass") is a euphemism for "Die."

pabloinnh 9:41 AM  

Thought this was a very nice Saturday, not a double black diamond but a blue circle cruiser. I don't do these for speed but sometimes after a reasonably quick solve I think, wow, I'm really getting good at these, maybe I should go to one of these tournaments, bet I'd do pretty well, and then I look at something like OFL's times and say, or maybe I'll just flap my arms and fly to the moon.

Had a son that was into the POG phenomenon. Totally inexplicable.

Thanks for the fun.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Re 16D. It's one thing to get a nice pair of equestrian breeches, but another thing entirely to convince the horse to wear them.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

barbara 10:03 AM  

Rex, cash or check by snail mail?

Rug Crazy 10:21 AM  

I had NFLTEAM (46A) and couldn't believe L Cup was a medium bra size

mmorgan 10:22 AM  

I dunno, I assumed two TEAMs and two ICEs would have caused an uproar.

Molasses 10:24 AM  

Not in my wheelhouse. Lots of sports, lots of pop culture from decades when I apparently wasn't paying enough attention. I remember POGS and even knew they were bottle cap size, but didn't know they were actually called caps.

Bob Mills 10:28 AM  

To ghthree: Thanks for the reply. But the clue said, "COLLECTIBLE CAPS." That can't mean passion fruit.

Bourbon Street 10:41 AM  

Years ago I worked with a lawyer who couldn’t stand to be mistaken about anything. One of the secretaries started calling him “MR. RIGHT, MR. Always RIGHT”.

@David: Another concept that needs to PERISH is the idea of a “soul mate”. I gag when I hear that term being used in a serious manner.

John Fischer 10:51 AM  

Never.ever.seen.POGS. Never seen the word, never heard of the loopy milk caps game. Complete matte-black ignorance. Slowed me down in the NW, but stilll got a pretty good final time.

Passing Shot 10:52 AM  

This was clearly a “boy puzzle.” Heaven help you if you don’t know sports, video games, or music groups from the 2000s. Or Seinfeld (never funny to me). And 2 TEAMs, 2 ICEs. Not much fun.

Sir Hillary 10:54 AM  

Haven't read comments, so apologies if I'm treading on old ground...

Really nice grid, just 62 words. I love all the intersecting longs answers -- very elegant -- and that wide-open middle is gorgeous. But it is way too easy for a Saturday. There seem to be only two kinds of clues -- cutesy "?" ones (which mostly work well) and basic-as-basic-can-be ones. I'm also not loving the TEAM dupe, although at least they are symmetrical entries.

Other thoughts:
-- Super sportsy -- PEPBAND, THEESPIES, PUTONACLINIC, MIRACLEONICE, both TEAMs. This contributed mightily to my easy solve.
-- I do like the symmetrical Zs.
-- Things I had never heard of: POGS, LICTORS, BENETS. All easy gotten via crosses.
-- Nice double for Damon Albarn -- one of BRITPOP's seminal figures with Blur, and the driving force behind GORILLAZ. Blur was far better than Oasis in my opinion, and to me their "Parklife" LP represents the peak of BRITPOP. "Feelgood Inc." by GORILLAZ has one of the most infectious bass grooves ever. Don't believe Albarn has ever collaborated with MUSE. :)

Nancy 10:57 AM  

It seemed like this was loaded with proper names and pop culture while I was doing it, but then, when I finally finished my long struggle and looked it over, I realized it wasn't as bad as I thought. And the non-GORILLAZ, non-LARA, non-MSPACMAN, ETCETERA stuff was terrific.
What a fabulous clue for MR RIGHT (18A), my favorite clue in the puzzle. And the GLAND (52A) and HOME CARE (23A) clues are great too. My favorite answer: PUT ON A CLINIC (27A). Some other thoughts:

Re BENETS (16A): Not all that "classic".

Re CCUP (48D): Not all that "Medium". To me, it's "Large." Or at least it used to be -- before the days of implants.

Re I'M SPEECHLESS (34A) -- Why "ironic"? DRAT -- we live in an age where everything is ironic. A little too much irony, if you ask me.

A really challenging puzzle -- very Saturday-worthy. I enjoyed it, the proper names notwithstanding.

Crimson Devil 10:59 AM  

I really hoped equestrian outfit part would be gauchos, just to stir some juices...but no.

QuasiMojo 11:02 AM  

@kitshef, lolol if they’d publish one of my puzzles if might! :)

Roo Monster 11:04 AM  

Hey All !
Had to Reveal Word for POGS, as the NW was at a standstill. Also had phOnE for EVOKE, Snow___ for SKITEAM. Once the cheating was done, got GORILLAZ off the G, which led to DRAMA, then SKITEAM, EVOKE, NW done. ABLE weirdly clued.

NE got me with LeTHARIO. Couldn't get off that E. So had _ACeB, and no Biblical name was coming to me. Looking at JER now, I wonder how I couldn't think of that. Just filled in random letters to get to the Almost! notification, went back to see my wrongness, and changed that E to an O, then saw JACOB/JER.

Rest of puz was on the easy side for a Saturday. The TEAM dupe kinda grated, and as someone pointed out earlier, there's an ICE dupe, although not as glaring.

Don't know who Greta SCACCHI is, but a great Crossword name. Laughed when I got EERO. Welcome back, MR. Saarinen haven't seen you in a while. I was looking for a designer at first. IZOD? Har.

Nice rotational symmetry, in case you didn't notice. Go on, turn the puz in any direction, all the black squares will be the same. Neat, huh?


'mericans in Paris 11:07 AM  

Mrs. 'mericans came home about when I was half-way done with today's puzzle, and then erased about a third of what I had entered. In the end it took us a combined two hours, which I believe is 30 times @Rex's. But at least we ABLE to resist resorting to Google, which is an achievement of some sort on a Saturday.

Liked it. Very clean grid -- not too ABSTRACT -- though seemed to have a few rather (to us) obscure PPPs, such as the crossing of VILA with VANILLI. I'd prefer also if ESP could be retired for awhile. Words I slotted in with one or zero letters: ABSTRACT, AMARILLO, and ABSTRACT.

As for 18D, at first I had __R_oLympICs, but once we got "ON ICE", the rest of the phrase fell into place. So I wasn't totally off.

Nice to see one of @LMS's names in the puzzle (24D). She'll be pleased from that standpoint with tomorrow's. I predict, however, that @Rex will have a conniption fit due to its low level of challenge. OVER-BORE would be a good description of it.

ktmtfl 11:15 AM  

Pretty easy for me but I honestly can't recall anyone calling Jerry *jer* on the Seinfeld

OISK 11:39 AM  

A careless DNF for me, because I had "britches, instead of breeches, which produced "home cart" which seemed plausible, and Arii, which did not, but I never went back to it. Nice puzzle, despite "pogs," Brit pop, and Gorillaz, which made the NW very trying for me.

First error since last Sunday, where an unforgivable clue for "neo" defeated me. (Matrix??? Not in a quadrant with moleskine and El Misti....!!) This time it was entirely my fault!

Didn't get to comment last Sunday. Easily the worst Sunday puzzle this year...

nyc_lo 11:48 AM  

Much more medium-ish for me, but mainly due to stubborn insistence on a couple wrong answers being right, such as ONEIDA instead of ELMIRA and SAATCHI instead of SCACCHI. Once I ditched those, pretty much smooth sailing. Except for trying to go through every hit by the Monkees in my head. Oh well. Guess now I’m a Believer.

CDilly52 12:05 PM  

AMEN on your solve vs. erase time!! This is absolutely one of those “wave length” days, and for me half easy, half nearly impossible but for the fact that I can usually guess we’ll just based on my knowledge of English.

Cassieopia 12:07 PM  

Great puzzle but ended up DNF in the NW. Sixth of five was my favorite - I didn’t get it on my own but still a fantastic clue.

JC66 12:10 PM  

No B52 comments today?

Adam Frank 12:10 PM  

Pretty easy, but LICTORS crossing ORD - if you didn't know either of those (as I didn't), you've basically got a 20% chance of being right. Maybe 25% if you eliminate LICTuRS/uRD. But I thought that was an unfairly difficult cross.

That said, it was the only really difficult thing in the puzzle. I started with VANILLI and VILA, then got stuck and started in the SE with SYSTOLE, SPF, FAINT, SPENDS, and I was off to the races, SE > SW > middle > NW and then back to the NE, where BREECHES gave me MR RIGHT and JER, and then the rest.

Overall I liked it. Never heard of GORILLAZ (I'm 54), but it was fairly crossed and fairly clued, I thought. I was surprised @Rex didn't raise more of a stink with NFC TEAM and SKI TEAM in the same puzzle, but overall I thought it was pretty clean and fun (and easy).

jberg 12:10 PM  

We're back from England, and I'm back here -- only to discover I DNFed. I had those horses kicking with their HIND fEet; fICTORS seemed OK, I'd fogotten that tONG didn't make much sense, and somehow never noticed the clue for GLAND, and I had a perfectly good word in there -- so there it was.

Aside from that, which didn't seem like a problem at the time, my biggest problem was gas GIANT (Hi, @okanaganer), which is actually correct -- at least according to Wikipedia, the 4 big planets are all GGs, but the outer two are called ICE GIANTs because they differ from the others in having water and other heavy substances mixed in with the pure gases. OK. I think that must have happened after I had already learned what astronomy I know (one semester, long ago). But I managed to fix that one from the crosses.

I did like the symmetrically placed Zs.

Well, I'll chalk today up to practice, and hope to be ABLE to solve them all next week.

Cynthia 12:16 PM  

POG: Passion, Orange, Guava (not grape). The term comes from Hawaii, where in the 50s and 60s kids orginated a schoolyard game using the small round lids of bottles (like milk bottles) of locally-produced fruit juices. Sort of a variety of marbles, where they flipped them at each other and the winner got to keep the loser’s POG. We had just moved there with our young kids in the 90s when it took off nationally, producing custom-made (not second use) caps.We still have a bunch.

CDilly52 12:16 PM  

This was crusty and simultaneously easy in spots. I was solid on the history-like answers...don’t think there were any LICTORS guarding Fort ORD, but without all my wonderful teachers through my K-12 years, I probably wouldn’t have known either.

What slowed me down as getting into the “fifth puzzle” - the middle. I’M SPEECHLESS that I knew PUT ON A CLINIC, but have all my young sports crazed colleagues to thank, and I shall. Would have been a DNF today for sure as the center just did not click quickly. Great Saturday though for all the reasons already noted. We are supposed to have to move on, come back, head smack, move on, repeat...on the weekends. Enjoyed the brain workout after my Saturday morning tai chi.

Gregory Schmidt 12:21 PM  

Got the finish with no errors, but only because I guessed the O correctly on the LICTORS/ORD cross. Seemed naticky to me..., had never heard of either.

Masked and Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Lotsa good stuff in yon SatPuz. Was sure no piece of cake solvequest, at our house, tho.

One hundred things:

* LICTORS? Sooo … what exactly did LICTORS "attend to", on them there magistrates? Did they do somethin to their TORS, mayhaps? The phrase "TOR AHS" somehow comes to mind.


* Did not know GORILLAZ, but it was deduce-able. And did not know SCACCHI, but all her crosses were fair, and they probably make an ointment for that.

* Like @RP and others, wanted OVERRODE for 13-A. Lost precious nanoseconds.

* M&A has close relatives that live real happily in AMARILLO. Best kept secret nice place to live. I tend to think of it bein along I-40 and I-27, more than on Route 66 -- but it does em both.

* staff weeject pick: JER. Pronounced JAIR, I reckon. Took a lot longer to get than it deserved.

* Only 62 words. Nice grid design with 4 jaws of themelessness. Lotsa the jaws and low word counts seem to ride together, at a lot of these theme-deprived rodeos.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Trabucco

Masked & AnonymoUUs

p.s. Well, not quite a hundred things; it was sorta like one of them White House "emergency" estimates U see … And M&A didn't want to OVERBORE everybody.


Pamela Jordan 12:28 PM  

41 Across should be "first name in architecture". "First name in design" is ERTE not EERO.

michiganman 12:34 PM  

I solved in 3/4 of a Rex. But that was the Mini. Tough Mini today, 3x my usual minute. This puzzle took 56 minutes and was very enjoyable. Double entries (TEAM,ICE) didn't ruin my day.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

I thougnt it was papaya.

True Grits 12:39 PM  

The clue for GLAND was inspired. And that’s about the only good thing I can say about this sports-bloated, esoteria-infested, double-ICE, double-TEAM, sorry sore spot of a waste of a Saturday morning.

Or do you want to know what I really think?

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

DOH! Sorry i posted prematurely. Ive been spouting off for years that it was papaya, orange and guava. Ugh, serves e right for being smug. I should leave that to Z.
Anyway, thanks for setting me straignt.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Eero Saarinen was a Finnish American architect and industrial DESIGNER noted for his neo-futuristic style. Saarinen is known for DESIGNING the Washington Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., the TWA Flight Center in New York City, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

Unknown 1:10 PM  

How I envy those who were ABLE to solve this quickly. After months of regular practice, my Friday and Saturday puzzle ability is still FAINT.

Suzie Q 1:14 PM  

This was nowhere even close to easy for me but I still loved it.
Favorite clue was Sixth of five.
Pass away is more familiar to me than pass on.
I have a lovely set of earrings and pendant made with gold and cubic zirconia. If you keep your CZs to a modest size they can easily pass as the real thing. If you buy the huge ones nobody believes you.
Ditto on britches before breeches and C-cup being on the large size only before the age of implants.
Rex is certainly over the moon about his time.
Even if you hate hockey that game is great to watch.
Miracle to be sure.

Mark 1:16 PM  

Jupiter and Saturn are the gas giants.

Hartley70 1:30 PM  

I can one up Rex, I actually lived in ELMIRA for two years not “big city” Binghamton, and I knew MIRACLEONICE because the USA team had BU players, my alma mater. That sadly wasn’t enough to make this a breeze.

MUSings: The CLINIC bit was a guess. ADRIANUS who? I knew Greta, but really wanted jodhpurs, which seemed plausible since I don’t know jENET from BENET. Who knew there was a feminist PACperson. I’m delighted. I think it was Elaine who occasionally called Jerry JER. BRITPOP and GORILLAZ were a fill in the crosses exercise.
I’m not proud of myself today. I used the check function in the end because a bloody hour is long enough.

Jillybean 1:37 PM  

Such a different experience here! Saturday’s are usually 15-20 minutes for me but this was over an hour! Ord/Lictors plus breeches not being britches we’re exceedingly tough. I do love a thorny solve though

bauskern 1:40 PM  

Either I'm getting smarter, or the puzzles are getting easier. This was by far the easiest Sat for me. Just didn't like LECTORS.

Andy Troy 1:43 PM  

Surprised no one has mentioned that, on top of the sloppy double-TEAM, 26A is just plain clued incorrectly.

LARA Croft is, of course, the lead in the decades-long franchise of "Tomb Raider" video games (and 3 movie versions). The character has been in some short-lived comic books, to be fair, but that's certainly not her place in the pop-culture pantheon. This clue is like writing in "___ Simmons, animated film star." Sure, KISS might have met up with Scooby-Doo once or twice, but that's not what anyone remembers Gene Simmons for...

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Excellent Saturday puzzle. A lot of fun. Thanks very much Mr. Trabucco!

old timer 1:46 PM  

DNF on several fronts. "britches" for the far more likely BREECHES. Looked up Mr VILA. (Tried to look up that band, too, no joy. But eventually guessed GORILLAZ.

I too thought of OFL when the clue for ELMIRA came up. And though I guessed it, never heard of BENETS as a reference. I could kick myself for not getting ORD right away. Would have gone there had I been drafted back in the day.

I was delighted with MSPACMAN. Decades ago I whiled away many an hour playing at my favorite bar, now long gone.

Oh, and I am pretty sure I've heard Mr. Seinfeld referred to as JER.

Whitey 1:54 PM  

Had "GAS" GIANTS originally, which I looked up just now and seems I'm not wrong? Can planets be both Ice Giants and Gas Giants at the same time? seems so

Had __T__A_LIN__ for "perform extremely well" and happily threw in ALL IN ON at the end and hoped it would made sense. That set me back a long time.

Also had "STAGE" COACH instead of Drama. Feel like that's the more common version of that job, no?

Joe Bleaux 2:16 PM  

Whee! I liked the puzzle, and I can post again.

pabloinnh 2:19 PM  

Forgot to mention dep't:

I always wonder where "pass on" and "pass away" came from.

As a retired school teacher, I find great amusement in a sentence like "Poor old guy was failing for months, but he finally passed."

Carola 2:21 PM  

Easy here, and fun to solve. VILA x VANILLI was my way in; then SKI TEAM x DRAMA COACHES and the neigboring BREECHES opened the way to the bottom half. Had to go back and mop up GORILLAZ x POGS.

Besides the pairing of MR RIGHT and MS PACMAN, I liked MR RIGHT's cross with Mr. Wrong (LOTHARIO)

Help from...previous crosswords: SCACCHI, THE ESPYS; ...having been there: ELMIRA; ...Art History 101: LICTORS (David's "The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons").

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

If LARA Croft was even once a heroine in a comic book, the clue is valid.

Anoa Bob 2:44 PM  

@JC66 did you mean B2?

There were enough goodies in this one to mitigate the above-mentioned warts and blemishes. Give me a SYSTOLE here and an ABSTRACT there, and I will even overlook the two-for-one POCs (plural of convenience) at the ends of DRAMACOACH/LICTOR and MAT/TEMPEST. Magnanimous of me, right?

In my mind's ear, I'm hearing Cosmo Kramer calling out "JER" to Jerry Seinfeld.

One of the first phrases we learned in Spanish 101 was "Yo tengo un lápiz AMARILLO." Yeah, the textbooks put the "yo" in front of the "tengo". After two years of Español, I worked my way up to "El elephante es muy grande."

How about "Ream excessively" as the clue for 13A OVERBORE?

Z 3:09 PM  

@Pamela Jordan and @Andy Troy - Welcome to Saturday Puzzling. An architect is a designer and six years with 50 issues is more than enough to qualify as a “comic book heroine.” Especially on a Saturday it is important to think of adjectives and descriptive phrases elastically.

Interesting that “britches” was a common mistake. To me britches are something your mom tells you not to get too big for, with just a hint of lower classness to the accent. Britches would never be associated with anything snooty like equestrian clothing.

The duplicate dupes (TEAM and ICE) did get some abuse from Rex on Twitter, today. I came back here to see if Rex updated his post or if there was an outcry in the comments. I must confess that I didn’t notice while solving, or else it would have irked me. I’m a little surprised they didn’t cause more complaining.

JC66 3:14 PM  


Thanks, I did mean B2.

Also, hand up for Kramer saying "Jer" accept when he was annoyed. Then I think it was "Jerrrry."

Joe Bleaux 3:32 PM  

This is my note-in-a-bottle: I can post ONLY by going to the web page, entering my screen name and e-mail address, and jumping through the “prove you’re no robot” hoops EVERY TIME. After this one, I’ll have to do it all again. If anyone can tell me how I can avoid having to start anew each time, please do — if not for me, for those who NEED those yawns I could always be counted on to provide, back when I could simply bring up the blog and post from my Smartphone. Thank you!
PS — “URL must include a host name” — what’s a host name?

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

This is the first time I'm commenting on a puzzle. I'm pretty slow at crosswords (my finish time was about 47 minutes). My favorite answers were ICE GIANT, MR RIGHT, and PUT ON A CLINIC. Best POW was GLANDS. Most of the rest of the puzzle broke down between trivia (you either know BRIT POP, SYSTOLE, and MIRACLE ON ICE, or you don't) and clues that felt very disconnected from their grid answers. PEP BANDS is just bad, and DRAMA COACHES is too specific for the clue.

Side note: I use the NYT crossword app and don't know how to find the theme/puzzle title. Can anyone help?

GILL I. 4:22 PM  

@pablo re the "pass away" discussion.....Here's one for you. My Scouser of a husband says " and so just popped his socks." I guess where he came from bloated bodies were left around until toes started protruding. Food for thought?
@Anoa B....The angst I live with: When you're saying I LOVE YOU in Spanish, leave out the "Yo", as the verb "amo" is already a first person singular. Te amo sans yo, please. "Yo tengo" can go either way. Sometimes you want to avoid ambiguity but other times you want to provide special emphasis. The "yo" is left koto your discretion...
Sorry I'm so ANO about this. It's my upbringing.....

JC66 4:35 PM  

@Anon 4:14

Only the NY Times Sunday puzzles have titles, Mondays through Thursdays have themes which may or may not be spelled out (pun intended) in an answer or clue. Fridays and Saturdays are usually themeless. @Rex was joking about TEAM being the theme today.

Dan Miller 4:52 PM  

Both are death synonyms. I don't usually finish Saturday but got this one in 22 minutes, to complete my first-ever one week streak.

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

Quite disappointed I couldn't have the same solving experience as everyone else seemed to. Never heard of "put on a clinic," "miracle on ice," "nfc team" (I knew the NFL, but what's NFC?), and have only heard of the espys in crosswords, so they definitely didn't jump to mind first. Also intentionally didn't put in "ski team" because "nfc team" appeared elsewhere, so I was disappointed when I finally put it in because I would have thought that wasn't allowed. vila/benets are new to me as well. Whatever.

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

It's a useful bit of fill but it's time to retire clues about breast size. Constructors are a clever lot, confident they can adapt to bralessness.

Banana Diaquiri 6:22 PM  

FWIW, 'Science Channel' runs 'How the Universe Works' and the S6E5 is currently airing: 'Uranus & Neptune: Rise of The Ice Giants'. but yeah GAS is the more common.

Anonymous 6:28 PM  

@Joe, have you tried using a different browser? I’m sure you have but give it a try.

Teedmn 8:24 PM  

@Joe Bleaux, another thing that helps is to be signed into Google when commenting, since you have a Blogger ID.

Joe Bleaux 10:38 AM  

Yikes! It seems to have worked! Thanks, all.

OlyL 6:01 PM  

I’m with Anonymous 5:51. You don’t see “jock strap” come up that often. This played as hard for me, although did finish. Seemed like a lot of 80’s - 90’s trivia, which is when I was raising my kids and trying to avoid their music. I did know Vanilli for some reason. Maybe because they were so onomatopoeic. I’d like to see that in an Xword!

spacecraft 11:04 AM  

NW was last to fall for me again. Is PEPBANDS a thing?? I mean, the rest of the puzzle I PUTONACLINIC, it was that easy. Square 1a was the last to be filled: not the ideal place for a Natick. POGS, eh? Okay, YOU collect 'em. It was other letter made sense to start _EPBANDS. I never heard them called that. The school has a band, sometimes called a "marching" band. That's it. I get that they play during PEP rallies, but no. No PEPBANDS.

Wrote over GORILLAs because "ses" makes no sense--but SEZ does. Also had StaG for single; a major misdirect but entirely within the spirit of Saturday. But those few glitches were like stoplights on the Autobahn. So...will MRRIGHT marry MSPACMAN? Tune in tomorrow. Sorry, Ms.P, you don't get the DOD sash, cute as you are. Neither, though much closer, does Greta SCACCHI. The honor goes to Angelina Jolie as LARA Croft, with honorable mention to Julie Christie as Dr. Zhivago's LARA.

Many mention the two TEAMs, fewer spotted the ICE twins. As to the MIRACLE, that word vaulted a journeyman "minor sports" announcer named Al Michaels into a stellar career. No question that was #1.

Except for that sticky opening corner, this was a romp that seemed out of place for the day. It's well put together, and for the most part kindly clued. I enjoyed doing it, so despite low triumph points will score it a birdie.

thefogman 11:10 AM  

Well I'm SPEECHLESS. I thought I COULDNT solve this one but I did it. Lots of ABSTRACT stuff outside my wheelhouse had me guessing with FAINT hopes, but I was ABLE to pull it off. I don't want to be a HAM or OVERBORE you, but to me it's a MIRACLEON paper. Now I'm singing a SONG FROM GORILLAZ and PETTING myself on the back.

Burma Shave 2:12 PM  


about what MS.PACMAN SEZ to Mario,


I forgot to mention that a week ago today was the fourth anniversary of BS verse. 1500 consecutive days coming up next month.

AlbuquerqueDave 2:29 PM  

Easy Saturday, but a possible DNF for me, which might be a judgement call. When I got to 16A, I looked up from my desk and across to the bookshelf where my copy of the Reader's Encyclopedia sits. My paperback copy has the spine title in bright white on black, but the word "Benet's" is smaller, dark red on black, and thus very hard to see from halfway across the room. So... I had to get up and take a closer look at the spine. Is this cheating? I mean, I didn't take it off the shelf or anything...

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

NW a disaster - multiple answers I had no clue as to what they were even after I had the correct responses. Rest of the puzzle no prob.

Diana, LIW 3:39 PM  

So very not easy for me. Lots outside of my "wavelength."

Lady Di

rainforest 4:22 PM  

Despite my suffering from the "world's worst cold" for four days, I sped through this one quite quickly, though I couldn't fit "Sidney Crosby's sudden-death overtime Golden Goal in the 2010 Olympics" into the space allotted in 18D.

Nevertheless, the NW and SE were easy, and the rest of the puzzle was un-Friday-like in its tractability. I care not if answers are dupes. Makes no nevermind to me.

Just typing this comment has taken its toll, so I'll just go nap.
Liked this one.

@Burma Shave - you continue to awe and inspire.

rondo 5:18 PM  

@AlbuquerqueDave - I will pay you one forward: A number of years ago I asked a similar question re: a DNF. My puzzle answer quandary was whether it was r.J.HEINZ or H.J.HEINZ. During the solve I had gone to the fridge to get a Re Bull and there sat the ketchup bottle, so I looked. A former Syndi-lander (@Ron Diego) who is no longer with us gave me a pass on that occasion. So I will give you a pass today. Pay it forward someday.

Started with SEZ which gave me GORILLAZ and it was off to the races. AMARILLO's in the SONG. Gimme.

ICOULDNT remember where the H went in yeah baby Greta SCACCHI's name, so several squares got re-arranged there.

PEPBANDS are indeed a thing, at least in H.S. I played in one and so did my daughter.

The letters in the four corners spell P-A-S-S, which this puz does.

thefogman 5:27 PM  

Yes indeed. Bravo to Burma! The xword people's champion.
PS - For what it's worth, I forgive you AlbuquerqueDave.

leftcoastTAM 5:35 PM  

East and middle were easy enough, and thought I was on a good run after getting the long SPEECHLESS and MIRACLE entries. But didn't find much of the rest of it easy at all.

The double SS, RR, EE, CC, and LLs , as well as the duplicate ICEs and TEAMs, which I first resisted, were helpful in moving things along.

Then to the wicked West. In the NW, POGS and PEPBANDS were stoppers, as was BRITPOP. In the SW, had POI(?) instead of HAM, MSPACMAN didn't show up, LICTOR was unknown, SONG clued as "single" didn't make sense, and the "secretive" GLAND was a sneaky one.

Need I say I dnf'd?

leftcoastTAM 5:41 PM  

@Diana -- Have you been able to get to Bill Web's web site the last few days? I haven't. Do you have any idea what's going on?

Diana, LIW 8:09 PM  

@Lefty - I've had trouble too. So I went snooping, and found this at his LA Times website for a Jan puzzle:

" Is Temporarily Unavailable

I am aware of the problem, and have been unable to fix it with my limited expertise. I’ve contracted someone to resolve the issue, and am hopeful that we’ll be back online shortly. I’m over in Ireland right now, for an unanticipated visit. Quite frankly, I’m a little overwhelmed with issues arising on both blogs, and real life can get in the way and makes things so much worse. I apologize for the poor service in recent months, and fully intend to get online with high-speed, reliable websites at both and just as soon as I can. I refuse to give up"

That's from Bill Butler. :-(

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting

leftcoastTAM 11:38 PM  

Thanks for the Bill Butler info, @Diana.

DXMachina 7:22 AM  

The Monkees clue made me sad since for me, this puzzle popped up a couple of days after Peter Tork passed away.

As a side note, the syndicated puzzle I get always seems to be from a week earlier than the syndicated puzzle that pops up here for a given day. Weird.

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