SATURDAY, Jan. 3, 2009 - Peter Wentz (1986-93 war-themed Marvel Comics series / Cristiano symbol / Santa Claus player in a 2003 comedy)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Rex Parker here. Not supposed to be here. Supposed to be on a plane somewhere over this great country of ours. Sadly, United has sworn eternal vengeance on me and my offspring, or so it would appear, and so I'm stuck here in Carmel until tomorrow morning. As with the trip out, we were very lucky - this time, we hadn't even left the house yet when we found out we wouldn't get to SF for our flight. I checked online and the United site said "canceled" and my wife said "that's a joke, right?" and I said "I must have typed the numbers wrong." No. Canceled. I didn't even bother asking why. It hardly matters. It's really just a minor inconvenience. In fact, at this point, considering I am not sleeping on an airport floor, I can even see some comedy in the whole thing. My wife is not taking it quite as well as I am, but then again, I'm not the one who has to start work again on Monday. Assuming I catch my Sunday morning flight, PuzzleGirl will do the Sunday write-up, and I'll be back for Monday.

OK, the puzzle. It's really fantastic. Feels like it was written this century, which is what I like in my late-week puzzles: freshness. "I HEAR YA" (15A: "Comin' through loud and clear") and "YOU MIND!?" (18A: Curt comment to an ogler) give the grid a sweet, slangy quality ... puts you off your guard a bit, so that when the NAHUATL hits you, it really hits you (55A: Language of Central Mexico). "When the NAHUATL Hits" would be a good book and/or song title. Reminds me of Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks"

Started off the puzzle with a bang - a double name bang. Opening gambit = SCHLITZ (1A: Brewer Joseph) to ZADORA (7D: "Butterfly" star, 1981). Which raises the question - how much SCHLITZ would you have to drink before ZADORA's "Butterfly" became watchable?

There were some interesting callbacks today, with SEQ (47A: The following: Abbr.) appearing in almost exactly the same location as last week's fatal ET SEQ, and NEOJAZZ (20A: Hard bop, e.g.) echoing last week's FREEJAZZ (wait ... was FREE JAZZ in the NYT or one of Brendan Emmett Quigley's puzzles? Dang ... I forget ... nope, I'm right, it was Dec. 26 in the NYT, clued as [Bop alternative]). See also EVIL EYE (12D: Supposed bringer of bad luck), which returns in its entirety, fresh off its recent appearance last Sunday. I saw KIKI DEE (63A: Singer of the 1974 hit "I've Got the Music in Me"), with this very same clue, in a Frank Longo puzzle I did on the way out here (if I remember correctly, which it's always possible I'm not). His "Cranium-Crushing Crosswords" is a must-have, btw, esp. if you want to train yourself to get better at tough themeless puzzles like today's. The one negative review over at Amazon has the title "Way too cerebral!" That sounds like an endorsement to me, but to each his own.

There are some fantastic answers in this puzzle - ones that are making me feel real affection for it rather than simple admiration. Let's start with AMY ADAMS (8D: 2005 Best Supporting Actress nominee for "Junebug"), whom I love love love. She is like some adorable combination of Laura Linney and early Goldie Hawn. First saw her in a limited role as Jim's girlfriend on "The Office," where she played completely against the fresh-faced lovable type she has gained fame for in the movies (e.g. "Enchanted," "Junebug"). Next, we have "HEY MR. DJ" (3D: 1993 hit for the R&B duo Zhané) I didn't recognize the act in the clue at all, but got the answer quickly, and happily, from crosses. The tune is familiar, but the title is a phrase that's been in many, many songs, including one by They Might Be Giants. Here's the version mentioned in today's clue:

David TYREE (6D: David who caught a key pass in the 2008 Super Bowl) made the 2nd immaculate reception in last year's Super Bowl. He has a great last name that I hope shows up in puzzles a lot. DEMPSEY isn't spectacular, but the clue sure is (45D: "Honey, I just forgot to duck" speaker). DEMPSEY stands next to ED ASNER (44D: Santa Claus player in a 2003 comedy), who was quite good in "Elf" (the movie in question here). Not Will Ferrell good, but good. The puzzle's got both BOOZE (9D: Hard stuff) and MOCHA (30D: Latte variety), and this week I've had plenty of both. I've also been close enough to the ocean that LOW TIDE (43D: When some sea creatures are exposed) was a gimme. Ooh, you know how I said we saw otters at the aquarium? Well, this morning we saw them in the ocean, just floating on their backs and riding the waves ... until a gull went after whatever they were eating, and they turned and silently went under.

Speaking of going under - writer Donald Westlake died on New Year's Eve. Collapsed while vacationing in Mexico - apparent heart attack. He was my favorite living crime writer (up there with James Ellroy), and one of my five favorite crime writers of all time. He was a real working writer who Churned It Out. Wrote every day, all the time, and in the early days, he wrote in whatever genre he could sell (including softcore sex stuff - highly collectible, by the way). His prose is propulsive - lean, smart, funny, unpretentious, effortless. A born storyteller who never graduated from college. He wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Stephen Frears' fantastic movie "The Grifters" (based on the novel by another 20th century master, Jim Thompson). That movie brought noir style (and Thompson) back into public view, and back into style. In recent years, as I've tried to gather the discipline to write every day, he's been the writer I've turned to most often as a source of inspiration. He wrote my idea of the airplane or beach novel - entertaining, breezy, but not stupid or insipid or insulting to your intelligence. It sucks sucks sucks that he is dead, but his body of work is enormous, so I'm happy to know that I probably won't live long enough to finally get to it all. Next time you're in a used book store, pick up anything - literally anything - by him, and read it. You won't be disappointed.


  • 8A: "America This Morning" outfit (ABC News) - "outfit" makes me laugh. Like the consonant pile-up in this one
  • 16A: Region south of Silesia (Moravia) - I don't think I've heard of either of these; I know I haven't heard of "Silesia"; sounds fictional.
  • 23A: Clothing store bargain fodder: Abbr. (Irrs.) - the worst part of the puzzle, and it's just four letters long, so I hardly care
  • 26A: Greek goddess of youth (Hebe) - beware of her minions, the Jeebies
  • 30A: Like the Topoxte archaeological site (Mayan) - blah blah blah. Got it easily from crosses
  • 35A: Mistress of Charles II (Nell) - ooh, also a laughable 1990s movie staring the otherwise fantastic Jodie Foster, whom I just rewatched in the original "Freaky Friday"

  • 51A: Magellan visited it (Venus) - I can't believe I waited this long to discuss the part of the puzzle that did me in! See - it's the new, kind me, burying the griping six feet deep. The real problem was VALUE / MENU (51D: With 41-Down, cheap fast food offerings), which I entered as VALUE / MEAL, a far far more in-the-language phrase that I never for one second questioned, even after it resulted in VEAUS ... I just thought it was French. It also resulted in NAHLATL, and as you can see, that's hardly any more ridiculous than the real answer.
  • 58A: Noted Venetian army general (Othello) - yes, I noted him back in November. Great play.
  • 1D: It rejects the caste system and idolatry (Sikhism) - oddly easy. The "K" took care of things (that is its way)
  • 10D: Cristiano symbol (cruz) - The cross. And a Houston Astros outfielder from the 70s-80s.
  • 11D: 1986-93 war-themed Marvel Comics series, with "The" ("Nam") - "The NAM!?" I had to look that one up when I was done to be sure, but there it is. Well before my comic-reading time.
  • 26D: "Treasure Island" hero (Hawkins) - Haven't read it in 30 years, if at all. Got it mostly from crosses.
  • 32D: "Eldorado" grp. (ELO) - in three letters, and an abbrev.? It's ELO. It's not R.E.M., because that band's name is not Rapid Eye Movement, and therefore doesn't require a clue that signals abbrev.
  • 40D: Something great, informally (all that) - awesome, already dated slang. The phrase "ALL THAT and a bag of chips" was great while it lasted - as long as the chips didn't have OLESTRA - yuck (39D: Ingredient in some chips)
  • 55D: Giant, e.g., briefly (NL'er) - I assume this answer doesn't shock anyone anymore. The S.F. Giants play in the National League in baseball - hence NL'ER.
  • 56D: Patron saint of surgeons (Luke) - This is why surgeons are taught to "Use the Force"
  • 59D: Energy expressed in volts: Abbr. (EMF) - known to me only as a flash-in-the-pan early 90s band

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Unknown 12:46 AM  

Wow, a very entertaining write up and if air travel in the US were sane, we would have missed it. Since I had an error, I am going to say this was challenging, but I loved it. I forgot I had 'glanted' for awhile thinking irrg made sense and I didn't catch the plural hint in the word fodder. MORAVIA/NAM isn't easy either and I thought a mote would make you blink, right? NAHUATL...I can't even do an anagram with those letters.

qv 1:27 AM  

Well, I couldn't have finished this without the help of Uncle G for NAHUATL and OLESTRA - but it sure was a fun ride. And the Wikipedia entry for Silesia is most instructive.

But Rex, excuse me please, Ellroy sure, Westlake maybe, but who are the other three in your all time top five?

Unknown 1:48 AM  

I used up all the uncomplicated-travel mojo on my trip—our biggest delay ws having to circle O'Hare again because of strong crosswinds. Nary a cancellation to contend with. Sorry I used up your luck!

Schlitz and Zadora—that doesn't beg the question, it raises the question. "Begging the question" means something entirely different. Mind you, I can't explain what it means, I've just been told that it's altogether a different concept than raising a question. There is written material on this here internet about it, but my eyes glaze over every damn time I try to read it because it's too legalese-y.

jae 1:48 AM  

Great puzzle and much easier for me than yesterday's. I must be on Mr. Wentz's wave length. Immediately put in SCHLITZ and ZADORA and CRUZed from there. Only misstep was IREG (it made sense to me too Philly) until I reread the clue. Fun Sat., maybe doing the BEQ this afternoon (Fri.) was a good warmup?

Anonymous 3:21 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle!

I had an entirely blank right side for almost 20 minutes of the half hour it took to solve (half the time of yesterday's).
Then came one of those PFLATZK moments like an unclogged Ketchup bottle and everything falls into place.

ELO "is" an abbrev for Electric Light Orchestra, no?

I too left VEAUS/MEAL bec, until I came here, not only did NAHLATL make sense, so did AAHLATL as I don't know ALER from NLER.

There is the acceptable Scrabble word ATLATL ("a device for throwing a spear or dart" my Franklin mysteriously tells me), so that's what I was going for.

EMF was removed in the last dictionary cleansing and I want to play it once a tournament, so was happy to get to use it here.

This puzzle was the definition of Scrabbly, but it was shocking that once again a non-pangram!
A puzzle with 3 ZZZ, 5 KKKKK 2 JJ 1 Q but no X (fine)... but no G????

(Even yesterdaypuzzle had ING with the classy Mahler clue for the cheesy fill) No G!!! GO NO.

I loved that ALL the words with a kooky letter had at least TWO per crazy word:
QUACKS (my fave)!

One quibble:
HEBE is a derogatory word for a Jew, so a bit shocking to see. HEEB, a magazine for young, hip Jews, was a play on that name, a variation of the slur (like re-seizing Queer) so that it is transformed and EMPOWERS.

Other than that, perhaps a slight morose undertone:


(Insert "Diary of Anne Frank" JOKE here)

Anonymous 3:42 AM  

I'd injured my back pretty badly just before the Super Bowl last year and was spending essentially every hour of the day in bed for a few days, getting up only to eat and excrete. I got so excited after the Tyree Helmet Catch that I sprang out of bed much faster than I should have. I'm pretty sure it set back my healing a couple days. It was worth it, though.

I knew the Zhane clue right off the bat. I watched a lot of MTV in my youth, so much that I actually identified the obscure guest rapper on that video, or at least his group (without needing to see the sweatshirt). I think I horrified my second grade teachers one day when I said Bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay and my parents one Christmas when I asked Santa for Doggystyle and The Chronic.

In high school I took a class on Shakespeare, and at the end of the semester the teacher asked each of us what our favorite play was. I said Othello, to which the teacher responded, "It is a simple play." What a bitch.

Jeffrey 7:45 AM  

I HEAR YA, Rex. I hate flying in the winter and wish the ACPT weren't in late February. Last year I nearly missed it as I got stuck in Toronto in a snow storm with every flight to New York cancelled due to weather except one (which I guess flew in different weather than the rest). The crossword gods [THOR, LOKI, ARES] were smiling on me as I got the last seat on that plane. This year I'm leaving a day early; hope that's enough.

Tough puzzle. Thank goodness for KIKI DEE and Pia ZADORA or I may never have gotten started. Had several stretches of staring at the grid, completely stuck, starting to LOSE HOPE.

Last area was the NEOJAZZ triangle.
I don't know very many non-Orange AMYs and had DRAIN for ERODE. An a-ha discovery of JOKE finally opened it up.

NAHUATL is just 7 random letters to me, saved by crossings.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Not knowing Hebe and forgetting Hawkins, I had Dawkins and Debe.

JoefromMtVernon 9:05 AM  

@jae...It was faster, but like Andrea Carla Michaels and Crosscan, I stared at this thing for a while and wondered if I was going to get anything. I think there were more gimmes here than yesterday. I enjoyed it more, too.

It turned out the first clue I penciled in was the last one I got. I thought Joshua trees were in Israel, but erased that soon.

Missteps: Schmidt for Schlitz (well, until I saw Tyree, which then begat Zadora), allows to for empowers (nail site = paw took care of that), ireg for irrs (last section to fall) and Fay Adams/FoxNews until I got Cruz, then Morovia, then Amy, then booze.

@Rex: EMF is Electromotive Force. Its symbol is E, and it's a synonym for voltage (and I think we had this discussion a couple of months ago, now that I'm writing this).

Will now have Kiki Dee playing in my head all day.


Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Oh. My. Goodness. First time EVER to finish a Saturday puzzle without help! And Rex gave it a Medium! I'm feeling ALL THAT and then some. Figured out NAHUATL from high school - our school mascot was an Aztec indian, and every class had an Aztec name, so I got used to the "atl" ending. My class was Quetzalcoatl. Passed through the Mojave desert several times during that same period, so didn't flinch at MOJAVE. Anyhooo, so excited to have made it through error free! An omen for a good 2009!

evil doug 9:24 AM  

Friday's puzzle was not of medium difficulty---or at least it wouldn't have been a couple years ago. After yesterday I feared the standard had been lowered. Unlike Lake Wobegone, "where the children are all above average", it seemed like end-of-the-week puzzles were all heading below the old mean.

But this was indeed a challenge of medium complexity for Saturday, and if we continue to see this level of cleverness I'll take it all back, Will....

Schlitz: My first beer, and what we served on tap when I tended bar at Peggy's in Des Moines. I currently have Pabst in my refrigerator. About $6 a 12-pack, and sooooo much better than the various diluted light beers that my children prefer. Thought I raised them better than that.


Anonymous 9:48 AM  

I got the NW instantly and thought this was much too easy for a Sat puzzle.

But then I bogged down.

I'm surprised no-one commented on the combination of MAYAN and NAHUATL which were easy since I've spent a lot of time in that part of Mexico (friends live on Isla Mujeres, an island across from Cancun).

Also no comments about two different "hard stuffs" at 5D and 9D intersecting with "hard bop, e.g."?

But the rest of the puzzle was a slog.

I also fell into the DEBE/DAWKINS pit.

So all in all I think medium is an accurate rating.

Thanks for a pleasant start to a Sat, Will.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Unlike most, I thought this one was f'n hard, even though I saw SCHLITZ and SIKHISM right away. I had never heard of KIKIDEE or AMYADAMS, and I had almost succeeded in forgetting Pia ZADORA. And I'm a bit rusty on my NAHUATL. For a while I stupidly had ONEOR instead of EVERY. Even the ones I guessed didn't feel quite right. Fortunately, I stuck with OLESTRA and FRAMEUP until the SW started to fill. From there, I went generally clockwise. A great workout.

janie 10:06 AM  

one thing that *is* beq-like is the grid itself. but for the placement of the 3 black squares at either side, we saw this (terrific) grid friday a week ago. with its strong clue/fill combo, fascinating to see today's great variation on a similar theme. bravi to wentz 'n' shortz!

philly -- just to get the ball rollin', here're some nahuatl anagrams.

could definitely live well without the first one!



poc 10:13 AM  

Managed most of it w/o Google's help, but the SW was a minefield. Had SILICON for OLESTRA for ages, also RESTROOM for COATROOM. Hated IRRS, and thought ALL THAT wasn't quite On The Level since I've never heard of it. However it was in all an excellent puzzle.

BTW, I believe "HEBE" is pronounced "HE-BE", unlike the derogatory hereonym. There's a minor character called Hebe in HMS Pinafore.

ArtLvr 10:14 AM  

Wow -- I liked the puzzle too, though I had to look up AMY's last name toward the end rather than untangle that hod-shaped area topped by NEOJAZZ. I'd earlier managed to revise St Jude to LUKE without any trouble... though KIDIDEE looked fine to me at first.

WHILED was nice, but I had a minor quibble there as I think of PAWs as having claws, not nails. Good thing NELL SWAM up from a buried memory as I worked up from bottom to top...

Sorry to hear of Rex's further flight woes! Our drive back from Chicago allowed for a delightful detour for New Year's eve and overnight at friends' place in Sawyer, Mich. where they entertained the kids with fireworks and sparklers by the outdoor firepit despite near zero temps!

Oddly, a good part of the last day on the road was whiled away discussing SIKHISM, with my son's girlfriend safely returned from the Punjab!


Anonymous 10:16 AM  


I'm so glad I wasn't the only VALUE MEAL sucker. I've never heard of a VALUE a MENU doesn't seem like an offering, but a list of offerings (sour grapes here?)

NAHUATL made as much sense as NAHLATL so I never did catch the error.

And I also had Magellan visiting the Isle of VEAUS

Jackie 10:17 AM  

I don't know about Moravia, but Silesia is definitely worth a visit. Krakow and Wroclaw (Breslau, in German) are two of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. And the local beers are delicious!

Count me among those who chose Value Meals over Value Menus. Aside from that, this was an excellent puzzle -- and an excellent write-up, even with the travel headaches that accompanied it.

Jackie 10:19 AM  

Oh, incidentally: the TARTARS (aka Tatars, aka Mongols) ran roughshod all over SILESIA (and beyond) in the 1240s. I hope to see that in a clue someday.

Kurt 10:21 AM  

I had more trouble with this puzzle than I should have. I had the same VALUE MEAL issue as Rex and fell into the same DEBE/DAWKINS pit as bigredanalyst.

So I went on one of those biorhythm calculator websites only to discover that I am almost at an intellectual low today. And my physical and emotional cycles are even worse. Maybe that explains things.

I think I'll go have some rum drinks.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

For those of us still mired in the last century, would someone please explain what the connection is between "you mind" and "an ogler." I might be tempted to snap "you mind!" when my grandsons misbehave, but whatever their other misdeeds, they certainly aren't oglers.

Kurt 10:27 AM  

@Evil Doug

I'm with you on the beer. I enjoyed Schlitz and Pabst -- and even Carling Black Label. But I was always a Rolling Rock man myself. Still am.

I don't get all these light beers and foo foo imports.

janie 10:33 AM  

frances -- one might say to an ogler, [do] YOUMIND [not ogling...]?!


Glitch 10:36 AM  

In classic usage, Begs The Question = assume as proven what is [needs] to be proven.

The more contemporary mis-usage of *raises the question* is brought to you by the folks who put aint in the dictionary (thx u vry mch).


Rather polite comment to ogler might be an icy [Do] you mind [not staring]?

However, I had, based on my somewhat cruder haunts, Go Blind!, at first.


Ulrich 10:50 AM  

@janie: Yes, the grid is special: Like yesterday's, it has additional symmetries--two reflections about the diagonals (in yesterday's, they were about the center lines).

Silesia is called Schlesien in German, and that's where my family on my father's side (the Flemmings) comes from. It became part of Poland at the end of WWII.

As to the puzzle: I did the triangle above the NW-SE diagonal so fast that I thought "this can't be Saturday", only to come to a full stop in the other part, even with Othello pencilled in off the bat. I had the same hang-up like Rex et al. with Venus and the value meal--excuse me, menu. And I had forgotten all about Olestra from a while back b/c fat-free, to me, is the ultimate food turn-off: Life is too short to waste precious moments on 0% yoghurt. But I managed in the end w/o help and enjoyed it.

Greene 11:00 AM  

Ouch! This puzzle kicked me around all morning. My first time through the grid I got OTHELLO and nothing more. The next five minutes were kind of panicky as I scanned about and could not get one other entry. Finally guessed OLESTRA which led to FAT FREE and the SW opened up.

You can put me in the VALUE MEAL camp as well. I corrected VENUS quickly enough, but then stared stupidly at VALUE MEN* for a long time.

MAYAN, MORAVIA, MOJAVE...all difficult for me. I positively cringed at HEBE, and I'm Catholic. Oh, and NAHUATL? Really?

Got SEQ because of last week and then QUACKS because, well I am one. I really need to look up the origin of that epithet as it is just so comical and fitting at the same time. It never fails to get a smile when I use it in the office. I'll propose some plan of treatment to a patient and say something like "You're going to come back next week and think I'm either the best doctor you ever saw or the biggest QUACK who ever lived." It may sound strange, but being able to joke about one's abilities really helps to put people at their ease.

archaeoprof 11:32 AM  

First wrote "lolled" for 42A. WHILED away several minutes before MOCHA came to the rescue.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Had CAMEOED fro 38D so got really messed up on the Southeast for a long while....

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Thanks for the ELO/REM tip.

I'm not familiar with NEOJAZZ, and had to look up AMY ADAMS. I had hard time giving up TOE for nail site. I was pretty sure about ZADORA and nailed OLESTRA. The rest gradually trickled in.

I registered for the 2009 ACPT tournament yesterday, hope to see lots of you there.

Doug 12:38 PM  

@evil: PBR was my beer of choice growing up in Racine, Wisconsin. And I think it was the same price! The old Pabst brewery in Milwaukee has been shut down since 1997 and Miller contract brews for them. Interesting trivia: Pabst claims to be the largest American brewer since Bud was bought by InBev and Miller was merged with S. African Breweries. On BEQ's blog you can see him ambling with a PBR tall boy, so he's part of the counter-culture movement in parts of the country like Portland where PBR is the hip retro beer.

Puzzle: Was glad to get through a large chunk of it before googling. Maybe the stateside Brits can comment on "CHEERIO" which I've never heard used as a toast and only a dated form of "bye."

I wonder if Pia Zadora knows her career is flourishing in the crossword world? Like Spinal Tap "You're #1 in Japan!" or David Hasselhoff in Germany.

chefbea 1:29 PM  

Had to google a lot. Knew schlitz and Zadora. Liked the America this morning outfit. Was trying in the worst way to come up with some kind of clothing.

Greg 1:29 PM  

Ditto on Westlake.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Okay, I'm finally finished. It took forever and I googled a lot. At some point I will begin to notice the finer points that everyone talks about, but for now, I only feel relief. But don't think I'm punishing myself, it's great fun.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

My first thought for a curt comment to an ogler was YOU WISH. I still like it better than [do] YOU MIND [?].

evil doug 1:39 PM  


I like that: The Largest American Brewer. I'll point out to my kids that I'm ahead of the curve on this "hip, counterculture, retro" thing. That'll drive 'em nuts.

Some guy's buying up a lot of old Cincinnati brands/breweries like Hudepohl and Little Kings to recreate what was once a huge industry here.

Thanks for the info,

Other Doug

Bob Kerfuffle 1:53 PM  

I must have finally caught up on my sleep, because I found this to be an Easy Saturday puzzle.

I have never drunk beer, but "The beer that made Milwaukee famous" lives in my memory, and I was able to start a Saturday for once by confidently putting in 1 A.

From there it was no googles, no write-overs, mostly a steady counter-clockwise march around the grid in very good time. A few things I never heard of (all that pop culture and sports), but all revealed by crosses.

I hope next Saturday is harder!

treedweller 2:03 PM  

My first answer was ZADORA. I'm a little embarrassed by that. But it made SCHLITZ a gimme.

LOWTIDE was fairly obvious, but I had just ___TIDE for awhile until it was clear "ebb" would not work.

@ bill
I'm with you on You Wish. I held on for a long time.

I also had a hard time giving up silicon for OLESTRA (which LED to olio for MELD, which made me take out SLANTED for awhile, then wonder if it might be SLANT to), dry up for ERODE, toe for PAW. Before I found MOCHA, I tried a long time to make it work with No fat, then Decaf.

I considered Happy Meal for VALUEMENU, but oddly never considered meal again once I got VALUE. I suppose I got VENUS from the 'V' first, so it was more obvious to me.

Finally googled for HEBE, LUKE and NELL. It's surprising how little it takes sometimes to crack the last few answers. I'm liking these late-week puzzles more and more as I get better at them (Surprise!).

mac 2:07 PM  

What a nice, friendly write-up, @Rex! I think the California air is agreeing with you. And what a great puzzle; just like Ulrich I did the triangle to the right (E) first, penciled in -LER for 55D and Lily (Langtry, I know, too late) instead of Nell, and then got so stuck that I went out for a couple of hours. As always, the rest fell when I got back to it, without googles, but it took a fair amount of time. I just stared at that "other" and needed crosses to get "every". Didn't have the meal/menu problem because I had Venus first. Loved the quack, and, @Greene, there is a lovely little house on the Saugatuck River named Duck Haven. Right next door a big medical complex was built, which, of course, we all call Quack Haven!

@Glitch: you had me L-ingOL with your "Go blind", I mean, tears rolling down my cheeks!

The British terms are a bit weird these days. "Cheers" is used to mean "thank you", and
"cheerio" cheers. When I read the clue, I tried so hard to think of a Brit term for "dead"....

Doc John 2:17 PM  

A good puzzle for a Saturday. I stared at an empty grid for a while before finally filling in some guesses here and there. Got the whole right side filled in, took a break, came back and did the left (not a great cumulative time, though). I didn't fall into the Meal trap so got it all correct (I order from Taco Bell's VALUE MENU all the time!). Both late week puzzles done perfectly after mis-steps earlier in the week. Guess my new year will be OK after all!

Man, HEBE and QUACKS in the puzzle at the same time. It was almost enough to SADDEN me or even make me LOSE HOPE!

Does anyone remember this exchange from the movie, 10?
Loretta Swit: "You're a shyster." (or something like that)
Robert Preston: "A shyster is a lawyer. I'm a QUACK!"

Here's another clue-related quote from Dave Barry:
"I went to a car dealer and the salesman sidled up to me. Some of them have been known to SIDLE at speeds of up to forty miles per hour."

Somehow I knew that the Mexican language would either have an X or a TL (or both).

Finally, TYREE. There was a major character on a pretty notable episode of the original Star Trek with that name. Tyree was the chieftain of a society on an uncivilized world that Kirk visited in disguise to monitor its progress. During the course of the episode, Kirk violated the Prime Directive by giving them more advanced technology (a rifle).

edith b 2:29 PM  

I opened with two crosses SCHLITZ/ZADORA and ABCNEWS/AMYADAMS and moved Southward at a brisk pace until I reached the NELL SACK line.

Oddly enough, TSP opened up the SE. I kept trying to fit REAGAN at 45D but finally remembered that he was trying to quote Jack Dempsey that fateful day.

It seems I reach this same point on every late-week puzzle where I have one quadrent completely empty and I have to fuss and fuss over it for the longest time.

I figured that Mexican language clue was going to end in ATL and God-Bless-the-crosses for the rest. I guessed that here could be a U so I went with MENU instead of MEAL and, suddenly, the Texas region fell as VALUE made me re-think the Magellan clue and VENUS fell into place. I had L**E**** for 36D and saw that 38A was going to end in ROOM and LOSEHOPE appeared out of the mist. I went with what should have been obvious - NLER - and the Mexican language clue was solved!

OTHELLO swam into view at this point and, 20 minutes later, so did the puzzle.

Lots of historical and geographic clues today that a good solid Liberal Arts education really

A real toothy morsel, this.

Ulrich 2:41 PM  

@orange and glitch: "To beg the question" in the sense mentioned by glitch is part of any decent treatment of the so-called informal logical fallacies. For a long time, I cringed when I heard it misused in the "raise the question" sense. But I'm by now resigned to the fact that that sense has become part of the language--it's particular prevalent on TV news--even Rachel Maddow, who has a PhD from Oxford, I think, used it in that sense recently.

A propos "Hebe": When I saw the answer, I pronounced it in my head as we pronounced it in Greek class: Heh-beh, i.e. as a two-syllable word. If you do that, the resemblance to the racial slur disappears--just in case this may console some of you.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

@acme: "She's in the attic!"

Wonderful puzzle today! Great mix of scrabbly entries and fun clues.

RodeoToad 3:14 PM  

I think PBR gets some of its cachet from the famous Dennis Hopper line in "Blue Velvet" ("Heineken? Bullshit! Pabst Blue Ribbon! Man's beer.") Schlitz is famous (to me) as the one beer my dad wouldn't drink. It's one of the earliest things I remember knowing about my dad, and I still sometimes think of him as the guy who doesn't like Schlitz, even though he quit drinking 23 years ago. Not liking Schlitz in the early-mid seventies was quite a stand to make, since that was the day when only about five beers existed, six if you count the hoity-toity "Tonight Let it Be" Lowenbrau. Otherwise my dad, like me, would drink pretty much anything that ran downhill.

Hardish puzzle. I did all but the NW last night, then got up this morning and took a shot with Zadora, which got me through.

SethG 3:28 PM  

Why, you'd have to drink rather a lot of SCHLITZ (or SCHMIDT's for that matter) to make that movie watchable. But you should drink SURLY. CHEERIO!

Lots of the mis-starts mentioned by others. Also PERJURY, HEYxRDH when I mispelt the desert, more.

I didn't remember hearing of KIKI DEE either, though it turns out she didn't go breaking Elton John's heart so I'm sure I have. And this caused problems when I couldn't use her help for the crosses, cause I stared at COxxINS forever. I even thought about if COFFINS would fly. (And a few hours before I did the puzzle I spent a while explaining the rules for COUSIN numbers and removal ordinality to a friend. I also had an EVIL EYE talisman in my pocket while solving.)

The NAHUATL anagrams remind one of a purported side effect of OLESTRA, the FDA warning label for which did not pass my breakfast test.

Finally, I see it was a common problem, but I don't think the plural "offerings" in the clue works very well for a MEAL. (Though I had VENUS early or maybe I'd have also fallen into the trap...) Toodles!

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

@Swedish-sounding Doug
(For both the joke AND going with the new moniker!!! You make a comedian/namer proud!)

@doc John
great post! I totally get why Rex wants us to be briefer, but I'm digging all the asides!

I too tried Reagan...didn't know he was quoting Dempsey! You see, you live long enough...

I'm learning a ton today from everyone! I already loved the puzzle AND Rex's write-up but today's responses have been really edifying!!!!!!

I no longer have the Hebe Jewbies.
Danke! I'm really not THAT concerned... just thought I'd point it out, as my duty as the self-appointed oversensitive Jewess/blogger

joho 5:01 PM  

@andrea carla michaels: I'm very late getting in today, but was just going to agree with @ulrich that I pronounced HEBE like Phoebe, thus no slur involved.

I love this puzzle and thought I had finished with no errors, unaided, only to discover I did the same thing as @ArtLvr but didn't change it from Jude to LUKE and had nahuatj instead of NAHUATL. I can forgive myself for that but will remember from now on ATL for Mexican endings.

I also had ABC Team for the longest time until I got ABCNEWS.


My favorite clues were for QUACKS/COUSINS ... aha moments for me.

Again, great puzzle ... no EVIL EYE for you, Peter Wentz!

PuzzleGirl 5:21 PM  

Thank God Rex was available to blog this puzzle. It took me over and hour and I was pretty much a quivering blob of jelly once I finally finished it. Is Amy Adano somebody? Cuz I had oust for SACK and she seemed plausible for a really long time. Also wanted decaf for MOCHA and lolled for WHILED.

Sometime in the not too distant past an old high school friend told me the Kiki Dee/Elton John song always makes her think of me. I honestly have no idea why, but I now have fond, nostalgic feelings toward that song.

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

HoHum. I thought this one to be EASY and am no expert solver. Clues not that interesting but I should talk as my unfulfilled ambition is to set a really tricky X-Word about which the whole clan will be talking.
I am a third generation NY Times solver from a foreign country. Love this blog but am shy owing to my foreign roots.


jeff in chicago 6:27 PM  

Googles? Sure! Wrong answers? A couple. But this Saturday didn't frustrate me as much as some in the past have. I try to enter a state of Zen and plow along. (Zen may equal Nyquil-induced haze today.) Got SCHLITZ, ABCNEWS, KEYWORD and ZADORA right away and worked from there. It may take a while before NAHUATL and MORAVIA just pop into my head.

Agree with Rex that ALLTHAT, IHEARYA and (for me) VALUEMENU gave this a very current feel. MENU seemed fine to me. Wendy's, Taco Bell and Burger King (to name 3 I could find easily) use that exact phrase in their stores.

I saw "Othello in Mask" recently here in Chicago. Beyond awful. Cringe-inducing. Fortunately, my actor friend who was in it agreed, so I didn't have to hold back afterward and he was not insulted.

My dad was strictly a Genesee Cream Ale man. I prefer Harp. (@Kurt: Hope that's not too "foo foo"!)

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

Doesn't ELO stand for Electric Light Orchestra, thus requiring the abbrev. marker?

Anonymous 6:47 PM  

I suffered a fleeting twinge when I saw the word HEBE in print and, as a nice Jewish boy myself, I think I can see Andrea's point. You see that word IN PRINT it doesn't matter how it's pronounced. As a Jew, you get that feeling.

I remember back to my college days - 70s - that we had a discussion about racial slurs and a black kid said what white folks would never understand is that just seeing the country of Niger in writing would produce a tiny burst of anger that was immediately recognized as irrational but Hey - there it was!

So, discrimination does its evil work even it you are not aware of it happening.

As Neil Young said, Rust never sleeps.

fergus 6:49 PM  

Every so often a puzzle has no connection to what may be on my mind. For 39 Down SILICON, and from there on a Comedy of Errors, which wasn't redeemed by OTHELLO's remorse.

SACK was something I wanted the other day. To have no Clue, such as it was today, is a refreshing reminder of how complicated and creative the crossword art form can be. I'm enthralled, naturally, but with resolve can dispense with today's abject failure as easily as a smug fifteen minute Friday. I prefer a strut to the slump-shouldered vacancy, but I don't mind knowing both, as long as they're paired.

jeff in chicago 6:51 PM  

The ELO clue was "Eldorado grp."

Amy Reynaldo 7:08 PM  

You know what makes the fast food chains with a "value menu" smart? McDonalds has its Dollar Menu, which backs them into a corner when overall costs rise. The Double Cheeseburger recently departed from the Dollar Menu. Eventually the Dollar Menu will include a mini-hamburger or 20 French fries.

SethG 7:13 PM  

And "Dollar Stores" will only sell rolls of pennies. But who is Amy Reynaldo?

Ulrich 7:23 PM  

@acme: If I could come up every day with something that prompts you to come up with something like "hebe jewbies", I'd be a happy man--fat chance!

chefbea 7:54 PM  

@sethG who is amy reynaldo????? we all know and love her!!! guess you didnt recognize her because she wasn't an orange color

fergus 8:26 PM  

My sad entry for 51 Down in combination with 41, was HAPPY MEAL.

To see VALUE MENU there was too depressing.

Shanti11 8:35 PM  

There's a movie from 1999 called "She's ALL THAT", starring Freddie Prinze Jr and Rachael Leigh Cook. Yeah, I didn't see it either.

I had ANCHORS instead of ABC NEWS for quite awhile. It seemed to work.

As for the ogler rebuff, I had YOU DONE(?). I really wanted WHYDONTYOUTAKEAPICTUREITWILLLASTLONGER, but it didn't fit.

And excuse me but Alexander Keith's Pale Ale from Nova Scotia puts all your Pabsts and Schlitzs and Carlings to shame. To shame I say! "Foo foo import" indeed. Keith's slogan is aptly, "Those who like it like it a lot". Next time you're in Canada...

Here in Calgary we have a new casino/hotel that's trying to go for a southwest theme. Their restaurant is called "The Mohave Grill". That kills me.

Amy Reynaldo 8:59 PM  

If you have two Blogger identities, you can make six comments a day here. Rex will never be the wiser!

I have a couple other 7-letter ogler rebuffs, but they contain a word that the NYT prefers to bleep out typographically.

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

A good, Saturday-level possible that I didn't have too much difficulty with (perhaps because of all the geography, which I like). But then there was this mysterious newjazz/zadwra crossing...Felt fairly foolish after coming to the blog -- figured that zadwra was someone of interesting, unknown-to-me, ethnic background.

fergus 9:20 PM  

Go ahead Amy.

My now teen-aged son knows how and when to use profanity, or so he said. So rare ...

And while creative language might defray an Ogler, it is more likely that the cruder form of diction would work more effectively with that ilk.

jae 9:57 PM  

In the early 70s my beer of choice was Drewry's which had its origins in Canada. I was in grad school and the price was right, 3 quarts for a buck (USD).

mac 10:43 PM  

@fergus:...and that's why I liked //.!or whatever Glitch's answer!

@Amy Orange: good thought. I may be working on this. Who will I be, cam?

I'm not a beer drinker (red wine all the way), but every once in a while, with a spicy Chinese or Indian dinner, I like an Amstel Light.

Anonymous 11:09 PM  

I tried that, it doesn't work, he caught on...! For six posts a day, I recommend being anonymous now and then! Works for me! ;)

(Altho I think we get a special dispensation if we are still pathetically blogging late on a Saturday night!

I was supposed to go to an 80's hair band/head-banging party but have totally lost my voice and I have to be on the radio tomorrow night subbing on this Trivia show called "Minds Over Matter"! What's YOUR excuse? ;))

But I wanted to pop back in bec it occurred to me that it would have been super cool if Peter WentZ whose first answer was SchlitZ and was edited by Will ShortZ had done the SueZ, GetZ, AdZ puzzle!

Still giggling over YOUDONE? :)
(or would be, if I had a voice)
When I lived in Greece circa 1980, men would stare and I'd stare back hoping to intimidate them into minding their manners.
SO doesn't work there and I got into a lot of iffy situations.

@Chef Bea
SethG was teasing! He and Orange are carrying on an affair in Blogworld (Bolgistan? Blogesia?).
Just like PuzzleGirl and Rex, and me and my Uber-Ger-man.

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

Having read all of the above comments, I can say that clearly, this was a GREAT puzzle.

Much of it stumped me for a while, but once it came together, I only appreciated it more.

Andrea -- there's also Hebe (pronounced Heh-bay) de Bonafina of Las Madres of Argentina. Very different meaning and pronounciation.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

I'm Jewish, and I didn't even notice the derogatory side of HEBE. I suppose it's because the goddess referred to here gives me a smile. A certain lowkey wild and crazy classmate from my days at Prestigious U earned the adjective "hebephrenic" for his brand of behavior.

I read The NAM back in its day for about 10 issues. Neither good nor bad, just stories that reflected back on the war that I was too young to understand at the time.

Since I don't eat at fast food places, I had to guess at VALUE MEAL (I've heard of Happy Meal). But staring at VEAU- long enough, I just knew there was no way Ferdinand Magellan had visited such a totally obscure French island. So the switch to VALUE MENU occurred easily enough.

What kills me is I could not fill in the removed people CO--INS for ages, and even then, only when I finally identified the cross from SIN. (I was slowed down because I could not choose between SLOTH for "immovable type" which impossibly crossed SCENERY.

Why does it kill me? One of my favorite little stories, which I had an opportunity to share just last week, concerns a certain relative who had gone to Prestigious U back before I was born. On my application was the spot for alumni relatives, which Prestigious U is big on. I put his name down, and in the spot for relation to me, I filled in "Second Cousin, Once Removed, Twice"! Did this kind of pull help get me admitted? I wish I knew.

You see, once upon a time, my father's father married my father's mother. And so my father's father's younger sister and my father's mother's younger brother got to meet. And lo and behind, they too got married. (Actually, the weird relationships are all on my mother's side. Second marriages and more.)

Stan 12:26 AM  


At least, for once, this answer was not clued: "'Do Ya' group". 'Do Ya' was a (minor) American hit for The Move, who morphed into ELO, who continued to play the song and eventually re-recorded it as an ELO song. All fine and good. But in puzzles, it always signals ELO, rather than the original authors.

liquid el lay 12:57 AM  

I'm on the west coast, and I do the puzzle only when necessary, usually 2-3 times a week, in the evening, at a seaside bar.

so any commentary I make is generally going to be the last, if unread, word, on the puzzle.

this is not a responsibility I savor, but, I wanted to point out that..

EMF is exactly what it says it is, a force.. not an energy. better cluing might have been "it moves charges", "potential gradient expressed in volts", "impulse to ion", anyone?

really liked the cluing and placement of VENUS. surrounding across answers, all but one, have an ETy feel. evocative of Nimoy, Venice Beach.. a So Cal friendly puzzle, I think.






and the sublime, centered over VENUS,

Southern California, indeed.


Anonymous 3:05 PM  

Liked the puzzle - lots of stuff that I ALMOST knew but needed crosses for Decent total time for a Sat for me, 34:30, although I needed to stop short of finishing and sleep on the NE. 8A xxxnews needed some contiguity info, which 16A Moravia ultimately provided. Had to Google Silesia to find out where it was. 16A was Austria when I went to bed but I woke KNOWING that was wrong, and Moravia popped into my head. Knew it was E of Bohemia - voila! And so teh Ne succumbed.

Actually Moravia is mentioned in the Silesia wiki but At 2 AM that did not register consciously with me. However, that is probably why it popped into my head in the morning.

The M of Moravia was inconsistent with xxx = NBC or CBS, so voila again: ABC.

When Amy Adams (8D) has a glass of water is it called Amy Adams' Ale?

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

5 weeks later. I must be the only one, upon not knowing Hebe, went with Heje/winejar. It seemed to make sense at the time.

Jan C 2:34 PM  

It wasn't until I arrived here, that I realized it was Silesia, not Siberia.

I guess living in Alaska, in winter sub-zero temps, surrounded by darkness and looked like Siberia. I eventually ended up with Moravia even though I knew there was no Siberian connection.

The hard bop answer wanted to be Neo-Nazi for some unfathomable reason. I knew it made no sense. However, couldn't get it out of my head. Which blinded me to neo jazz.

I hear an echo as I write. The room emptied a month ago. Which is why I normally never comment on the puzzles. But cabin fever is setting in, so talking to myself no longer seems unusual.

Love this blog, Rex and the regulars.

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

Surprised I am that 5 weeks back ACME et al. didn't notice how close the puzzle came to a 2nd ethnic slur - just a letter short of KIKE was KIKI (DEE).


Sharon 3:25 AM  

@Jan. :) I know what you mean about the echo in the room. Since I'm almost a week later, having apparently been busy last Saturday I'm toyin eiht the idea of posting this on taodyas 5 weeks later blog. But I then I probably wouldn't be able to pull it up. Do you have trouble with eratic responses to Googling for this blog? Like is it in the air in Alaska? or in my computer? or my fingers?

Jan C 1:55 PM  

@Sharon I haven't had much trouble pulling up the blogs. I go to google, go to advanced, then put Rex Parker in the "all these words" search section. Then I use the "this exact wording or phrase"
search section and put in a clue that has appeared in the puzzle I just completed. It works best if I use an unusual clue or one of the thems clues.

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