Patron of barristers notaries — SAT., Sep. 26 2009— Axiom producer / Momentous 1960s convention / 1971-97 nation name / Cousin of catnip / Hindu maxim

Saturday, September 26, 2009

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Constructor: Joon Pahk

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: KAON (54A: Particle named for a letter of the alphabet) — n. (Abbr. K)

Any of a subgroup of unstable mesons that consist of an electrically charged form with a mass 966 times that of an electron and a neutral form with a mass 974 times that of an electron, produced as a result of a high-energy particle collision. Also called K-meson. (


A tough and thoughtfully filled puzzle, with a mess of Scrabbly letters and vibrant words and phrases. There is a big difference between a themeless puzzle that is crafted and one that is simply churned out. Compare today's puzzle to yesterday's to see that difference, vividly. This is a standard themeless grid — one that opts for medium-sized and potentially brutal corners over huge white spaces and/or multiple grid-spanning answers (other common late-week grid features). The upside of a more modest grid like this is that it can be filled, really, really cleanly (as it is today), while the multiple nooks and crannies have the potential to create lots and lots of trouble spots, so the difficulty level can stay relative high. You aren't apt to build a momentum and blow through a grid that is shaped like this and clued Saturday-tough. Speaking of cluing, today's cluing was almost over-the-top in its trickiness. There must be a dozen or more clues that either have "?"s on the end or rely on really effective misdirection via wordplay.

I wanted to start the puzzle with VERO (23A: _____ Beach (former home of Dodgertown)), but couldn't confirm any of the letter, so moved on. First real foray into the grid came with CHERI at 6D: Dijon darling. That was wrong, but quickly replaced with my next guess, AMOUR. The "R" there reminded me that my RED SOX used to be the Americans (25A: Team known as the Americans until 1907), so I went AMOUR, REDSOX ... then up to IN A MOMENT (15A: "Hold your horses!"), Down with IT IS SAID (9D: "According to some ..."), and back Across with SANS SOUCI (17A: Carefree). That pretty much had me on my way to downing the entire NW.

Puzzle had exactly three trouble spots for me. First, the NE. RADIX was not coming (wanted INDEX)(10D: Base of a number system), didn't initially pick up the "punches" meaning of "socks" in 21A: They may come with socks (shiners) [technically SHINERS come *after* socks, but whatever...], and never would have thought to call a gemstone a "symbol" (13D: May symbol => EMERALD). Also, had no way of getting KILL from 31A: Take out until I came back around and picked up the "K" via KARNAK (31D: Egyptian temple complex near Luxor). Wanted DELE. Then wanted it again at 18A: Takes out (dates).

Next trouble spot was the upper SE, specifically where DIABOLO (44D: Game involving spinning a top on a string) comes together with KAON. Now that I look at them, there is an eerie, vague familiarity to the pair, but I really had to hack my way to that last square via all the crosses, and then make an educated (but extremely probable) guess at the "A." "A" made a word that at least looked like the Spanish word for "devil," and I figured that if you pronounced "KAON" as "KAY-on," then that would make sense as a particle named after a letter. I had TOMBOLO and MUON in their places at some stage of the game.

Hardest part by far, for me, was the SW, where -AT-N as the answer to 60A: 1-Across topic resulted in SATAN (1A: Momentous 1960s convention => VATICAN II). Bad, bad mistake, because I ended up with a grid where all entries looked like real words except one: FIRESIT? (39D: Romantic, perhaps). I sort of knew something was off when I came up with TARE for 56D: Flag, but I knew TARE was a word with multiple meanings, and I figured I just didn't know one of them. But FIRESIT? That's absurd. Sounds like something that would be better clued [What FDR did?]. That *has* to be wrong. Only by (eventually) tearing out FIRESIT *and* TARE was I able to see another possibility at 60A: LATIN! Then I had FIRELIT and TIRE and I was done.


  • 28A: Axiom producer (Isuzu) — criminy, the new car models just keep coming. I wanted something like OLD GUY or QUIPPER.
  • 30A: Enjoyed London or France (read) — Jack London, Anatole France
  • 32A: Patron of barristers and notaries (St. Mark) — read it as "Patron of barristas ..." and thought "they had those in biblical times?"
  • 34A: Swing set players? (big bands) — the clue cuteness just keeps on coming as well.
  • 36A: Capital of East London (Rand) — "capital" as in currency. East London is in S. Africa.
  • 39A: Domain of Paul Bunyan (folklore) — ah, a figurative domain. Really wanted something like BACKWOOD(S).
  • 48A: Pope who excommunicated Martin Luther (Leo X) — Knew it was LEO somebody, so, since it was Saturday, I tried "X" — XERXES slipped right into place at 49D: Victor at Thermopylae, 480 B.C.
  • 43A: Author of the controversial kids' book "In the Night Kitchen" (Sendak) — "Controversial?" Why, 'cause you could see the kid's penis? O, man. That's sad. I'm quite excited to see the Spike Jonze movie adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are" next month.

  • 50A: 1971-97 nation (Zaire) — HA ha, I just considered putting this in a puzzle I was constructing without realizing it wasn't a "nation" any more. I guess if I'd kept it, I would have found out while cluing.
  • 55A: Nathaniel Hawthorne story subtitled "The Bosom-Serpent" ("Egotism") — man, I thought that serpent was "jealousy" or "envy."
  • 57A: Part of an Avignon address (rue) — never saw this clue. Seems surprising in a puzzle that took a good deal of thought/work.
  • 59A: Do without much daring? (bun) — I don't know ... I couldn't make a passable BUN if I tried, so it takes more "daring" than I've got. Plus ... they can be kind of hot, I think.
  • 66A: Where the owl and the pussycat went, in a poem (to sea) — and not, as I found out the hard way, KOREA.
  • 67A: Cell organelle with microtubules (basal body) — OMG blah blah blah science get crosses and guess something. For being gibberish to me ... wasn't that hard.
  • 2D: "In the Mood," e.g. (anapest) — unstressed unstressed stressed. A metrical foot. Think the opening of "I Feel For You" by ... Chaka KHAN ... Chaka KHAN ... Chaka KHAN Chaka KHAN ...

  • 7D: Like it (neuter) — "it" is neither masculine nor feminine in gender, hence NEUTER.
  • 22D: His #14 was retired by the Mets (Hodges) — Gil HODGES. Third baseball clue of the day, nicely intersecting RED SOX.
  • 24D: Location of the Boston Mountains and Buffalo River (Ozarks) — so ... not Boston or Buffalo, I'm guessing. I started with OREGON.
  • 29D: Territory east of Ukraine on a Risk board (Ural) — never played, but this was easy enough to guess.
  • 35D: "And a Voice to Sing With" memoirist (Baez) — had no idea, but again, easy to guess with a cross or two.
  • 40D: Cousin of catnip (oregano) — nice tie-in with 45D: Like a cat playing in catnip (aroused).
  • 41D: Figure of speech like "no mean feat" (litotes) — good day to be an English professor. ANAPEST and LITOTES are just part of the professional jargon. LITOTES is simply a means of expressing something by negating its opposite.
  • 42A: Gigayear (eon) — "Gigayear?" Is that a real thing? That sounds made up.
  • 46D: Successor to Powell on the Supreme Court (Kennedy) — easy to pick up off last three letters, which were already in place when I first looked at this clue.
  • 53D: Hindu maxim (sutra) — at least the Hindu Maxim wasn't a car model.
  • 58D: N.B.A. legend Monroe with a signature spin move (Earl) — "the Pearl" ...

  • 63D: Bath suds spot? (pub) — Bath as in the English city. Suds as in beer.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Retired_Chemist 8:53 AM  

I figured I was in trouble when 1A wasn’t WOODSTOCK but VATICAN II. Actually, to me that represents a strength of this challenging puzzle. The clues were delightfully full of ambiguity and the connections to the answers were clever once you saw them.

Was proud of getting RADIX and LITOTES with very few crosses. Racked my brains until XERXES and KARNAK appeared - the former told me which LEO it was, and the latter gave me the whole SE. Went through MUON and PION - hey, Joon didn’t say which alphabet and I was into cagey cluing by then. Surprised I needed _ODGE_ @ 22D to get HODGES – oh yeah, he was a DODGER in real life. NOT in the HOF, which is a travesty.

Well done, Joon. Thanks!

imsdave 9:02 AM  

Well, at least I got the word of the day right.

2+ hours for me, and well worth the effort. Medium? Not for me. Glad I solve in pencil.

JannieB 9:02 AM  

Definitely a challenge for me - did it two sittings and still had an error. Last letter I filled in was a "C" at the Karnak/Kaon crossing. (Even the explanation in the "word for the day" makes no sense!!!) Either would have worked for me - a personal Natick, I guess.

The cluing made this puzzle incredibly hard - I just wasn't on the same wavelength. Took many many passes to get it done. Vero opened the NW (MIL lived there!); southern hemisphere was pretty easy, the NE and Mid-Atlantic were the last to fall.

Great workout for a Saturday. Thanks!

VaBeach puzzler 9:05 AM  

This was like "Jeopardy!" on steroids. BASALBODY, RADIX, KAON, LITOTES, ANAPEST -- at what point does a challenging puzzle become a Mensa trivia game? Methinks the tassel just fell off my graduation cap... I don't mind tough cluing but I do object to words known only to math or chem majors.

Orange 9:24 AM  

Want a second opinion from another Dr. Crossword? This puzzle was tough. Tougher than medium. The sort of gnarly and erudite Saturday challenge we haven't seen much of lately. I do like a puzzle laden with pop culture, but a hardcore scholarly crossword is good to sink the teeth into, too.

Elaine 9:26 AM  

Oddly, I kept getting bits of the puzzle, gradually filling almost everything in. The ONLY gimmes were SENDAK (read the book, never saw the film) and TO SEA (in a pea-green boat) plus 24D, as I live in ARKANSAS--though I had to segue into OZARKS as the more accurate answer did not fit.

I finally Googled Hawthorne's short story, EGOTISM, (which was hardly fed by this gruesome puzzle!) I had INDEX for 10D even though it sounded wrong, until I saw SHINERS. Had I waited, might have gotten RADIX on crosses, but I was ready to move on to other puzzles!

I thought this was more difficult than Medium, if only because of the clever, misleading clues, even though I solved almost all of it without help.

RADIX is my new word of the day. I refuse to learn words like KAON; that was just mean!

Hobbyist 9:35 AM  

I thought this was REALLY hard and similarly clever. Started with the "gimme" of Sparta being the victor at Thermopylae but after a good hour I emerged the victor. Whew! Quite the battle.

fikink 9:43 AM  

I did so poorly on this puzzle, I can go back, wipe out the grid and do it again as a new puzzle AFTER reading your explanation, Rex.
Missteps all around, TALL TALE, then YOSEMITE for Paul Bunyan's milieu, and never figured out "Like it," although I had NEUTER as the fill.
Coincidentally, I put in EMERALD but had just filled it in in another puzzle yesterday (anyone?) and so I thought I was confusing my puzzles.
I could go on...I won't.
Joon, you moitilized me, but what a lovely defeat. Superb!

edith b 10:04 AM  

When the clue Like it immediately connotes NEUTER and Bath suds spot, PUB, you realize that you are on the constructor's wavelength. I enjoyed this puzzle no end and the word "Intelligent" springs to mind and aptly describes this puzzle.

In the past, I thought Mr. Pahk's puzzles suffered from an overreliance on obscure vocabulary words, like an SAT test on steroids, but today, it all came together, in my mind, to create a nearly flawless puzzle.

I started in Texas with the LEOX/XERXES cross and got FOLKLORE by way of the terminal E from EON. I knew the Hawthorne work, and as a result, the SE fell into place. Once I saw LATIN, the IA clue became clear. Talk about working backwards!

This puzzle was full of neons and educated guesses and once the NW fell, I was able to work diagonally into the SE and up the East Coast to a solve. This is my selection for Puzzle of the Year.

Congratulations, Mr. Pahk on a job well done.

Jeffrey 10:05 AM  

Difficult, excellent puzzle.

I was unable to correctly solve the SENDAK/KAON/KARNAK/DIABOLO crossings. Not surprising, since none of those are actual words in the dictionary of my brain.

Karen from the Cape 10:05 AM  

I'm voting for tough also, for both the clues and the answers. I mirrored Rex's experience with OREGON and LEOX; unfortunately I never got a literature degree, and cell chemistry was too many years ago to remember BASAL BODY. I think of Carson in a turban when trying to remember KARNAK and forget if he spells it the same or different (different--he's Carnac). My favorite aha moment was when JUXTAPOSE jumped out of the grid. Nicely done that I got stuck in all four corners, and the center, of the grid.

More pahk, please.

Leslie 10:09 AM  

Whew! I agree, this puzzle was not medium. Not that I didn't enjoy it hugely--it truly was meaty, beaty, big and bouncy!

I had "one moment" for IN A MOMENT, "forestry" for FOLKLORE, and "dreidel" for DIABOLO. Even when I realized it was "diabolo," which I had heard of, it turns out I'd heard it wrong ("diablo") and had troubled with that next-to-last O.

How close did Joon Pahk come to a pangram today? He's got X and Z--is only the Q missing?

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

I found this one super challenging/impossible. I figured out many of the punny clues, but there were just too many factual clues I had no chance on. A few times I would come up with an answer and expect that would break it open, but it never did, and I had to resort to massive googling.

ArtLvr 10:16 AM  

Nearly KILLed me! Part of an Avignon address (rue) that Rex didn't see -- could have been MME. And that Particle, ha. Now if you'd just said K-meson...

My word of the day would have been LITOTES, I suppose. I thought Romantic might be someone's idea of Fine Lit, at least a genre thereof... Finally figured out that LATIN was required, went back to fill in VATICAN II, VIS A VIS and SANS SOUCI. Zut, alors!

Never heard of the DIABOLO game, and since kids around here shout "Marco Polo" at the pool, which I don't understand, I thought maybe this was a DIP POLO game and the Do without much daring was a sneaky PUN, almost like nose-in-the-air PLANES.

Joon, I swoon. Transfixed with admiration.


Greene 10:18 AM  

@IMSDave: Today was the anti-Friday, no?

@Orange: I concur with your assessment, doctor. And how...

What a lively struggle this was. It's everything I like about Saturdays. It took me two sessions, but I finally got the thing licked. Like @Retired_Chemist I started 1A with WOODSTOCK. Man, could I have been more wrong? Talk about nothing working. I finally took it out, but pouted about it. TUT led me to COST, while RED SOX (a total guess) and READ got me NEUTER and AMOUR. I was then left with ***ICAN** which I parsed as I CAN. I CAN what? Argh!

Bigger mistake in the SE where I had 67A as *****BODY. Well, this just had to be GOLGI BODY, right? Again, stuck for the longest time with the wrong answer, but so sure I was right. Finaly saw DREAM JOB and out went the GOLGI. Thank God for XERXES. I would have never remembered BASAL BODY without that S.

And so it went. Thanks Joon, for an awesome puzzle!

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

"A tough and thoughtfully filled puzzle", "brutal corners", "over-the-top in its trickiness", "really effective misdirection".... ok, I need to stop or I'll be copying and pasting your whole right-up.

This puzzle was the toughest I've seen in months.
"Medium"? I' don't think even you believe it.

Smitty 10:26 AM  

totally undoable for me - first in a long time.

Meg 10:32 AM  

@Smitty: What you said. Usually the Saturday's come eventually, but this one just refused.

I did get PLANES, with a nice "Aha!" but there were just too many words I didn't know. I had LITOTES and figured it was wrong, as it looked like a plural.

This was not a mean puzzle, just very, very hard.

bigredanalyst 10:37 AM  

I'll agree with everyone's comments that this was more challenging than medium.

But I thought it was fabulous, exactly what I hope for on a Saturday.

I quickly got the SE when JUXTAPOSE and OVERRULED fell after very few crosses.

But then NOTHING.

After a long -- but satisfying struggle -- the rest of the grid slowly filled in until like @CrossCan I got stuck in the KAON/DIABOLO/SENDAK corner.

Congratulations to Joon for producing a near-perfect Saturday gem.

Rex Parker 10:46 AM  

Good lord, another anonymous asshole. I said "Medium" and meant it. 16-ish minutes. Maybe a shade higher than avg, but only a shade. Gotta be over 20 for me to even begin thinking about calling it "really hard." It was hard. Saturday hard. Thus "Medium." I appreciate that others found it more difficult than that. But I don't lie about my sense of a puzzle's difficulty. Or anything, for that matter.


Denise 10:56 AM  

It was challenging -- in a good way -- I started and had difficulty, but then wiped the slate & started over, and went through fairly easily. My husband helped by supplying the shortstop (OMAR).

I am working on a project that relates to patron saints -- saints have been "assigned" contemporary duties (there is a saint for computers, jet planes, cell phones, etc.). I suppose there is a commission in Rome, or a nutcase somewhere on the internet.

Google "saint" and a category & you will see.

joho 11:06 AM  

This was defintitely challenging to me ... actually it had me struggling. But, as others have already said, it's exactly what a Saturday should be ...the kind of puzzle we wait for.

I had NEUTER but didn't get it until I came here. I misspelled KARNAK with a "C" so never got KAON.

There was something I thought odd in the cluing. 40D & 45D both had "catnip." 30A & 55A both had "bosom." And 56D & 47A both had "flag."

Joon ... to quote, @Crosscan: A+.

HudsonHawk 11:08 AM  

Challenging, and then some. But not in a typical Saturday way. Usually, when I have a tough time on a Saturday, the entire grid is nearly blank for a long time, and I'm just trying to get a toehold somewhere. Then it comes tumbling down.

Not today. I actually had a lot of good fill in each section of the grid. But like Rex said about the construction, I never got the momentum to connect the sections.

Hand up for INDEX, DELES, and OREGON. I was not confident about IT IS SAID, with those terminal "I"s for the long crosses. Didn't help that I couldn't get past the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago for 1A.

Having recently seen 300, I thought about PERSIA for 49D, but couldn't come up with a pope name ending in P. Then XERXES hit me.

Rex, I believe you, but I'm also glad Orange kicked it up a notch. And I liked it.

Norm 11:30 AM  

Very hard. Even by Saturday standards in my opinion. If you're not a Red Sox fan, for example, one of Rex's toeholds was not there for you. Apart from 27A SAE (which didn't really lead to much), I had to wait for 50A ZAIRE before there was an answer I was sure of (with the 35D BAEZ cross) and work from there. Thought a few of the more twisted clues could have been ramped down a bit, but it was one of those puzzles that in retrospect was quite fun -- despite the many WTF moments while solving.

Stan 11:30 AM  

What a high-quality puzzle! I couldn't get anywhere with it myself, but just reading the answers was fun.

JC66 11:39 AM  
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JC66 11:39 AM  

I'm neither an English major nor a scientist so *Massive Googling* says it all for me.

Ulrich 11:40 AM  

Orange said "sort of gnarly and erudite Saturday challenge we haven't seen much of lately", and I wholeheartedly agree--took me two sittings, but finished it w/o help, even if I never heard of certain terms or words (basal body, the Bunyan guy, the Hawthorne story). You feel good when these answers finally emerge through crosses.

Been to Karnak, which produced my starting gimme, and Sanssouci is a Schloss (residence for nobility) Frederick the Great built near Berlin in Potsdam (my first guess at the conference--I think there was a Potsdam II, no?)--a must=see for anybody visiting Berlin.

All in all, a fine Saturday work-out--now let's see if this post will last...

nanpilla 11:42 AM  

Definitely challenging for me - just what I look for in a Saturday puzzle.
Thanks, Joon!

poc 11:50 AM  

Excellent puzzle and a worthy Saturday. Quite challenging but fair and well thought out. Let's have more by this guy :-)

toothdoc 11:51 AM  

Thank you Joon and Will for a great Saturday morning of fun. I got 90% of the puzzle with educated guesses and working out some crosses then got stuck but loved every minute of it. This is what I pay for. I agree with Rex this was a Saturday medium but seems like many recent puzzles have been full of pop-culture so seemed a bit harder when I had to rely on clasical knowledge.

fikink 11:56 AM  
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fikink 12:02 PM  

@Ulrich, this is for you:

Bunyan's birth was strange, as are the births of many mythic heroes, as it took three storks to carry the infant (ordinarily, one stork could carry several babies and drop them off at their parents' homes). When he was old enough to clap and laugh, the vibration broke every window in the house. When he was seven months old, he sawed the legs off his parents' bed in the middle of the night. Paul and Babe the Blue Ox, his companion, dug the Grand Canyon when he dragged his axe behind him. He created Mount Hood by piling rocks on top of his campfire to put it out. [Wiki]

I guess the dragging of the his axe is what led me to YOSEMITE... ya know, as long as he was out West. ;)

mac 12:07 PM  

This fantastic puzzle wasn't just challenging for me, it beat me to a pulp in the N and SW. Agree with Orange's comment, loved my (lot of) time spent on it.

I think I erased "it is said" three times, tried They Said and As Is Said. Thought romantic might be idyllic. I had no business filling in basal body and Hodges, but I did! Had index and deles as well.

Nice cross of Sans Souci and vis-a-vis. I messed up the SW for a while with verbena. I didn't remember "to sea", although I saw "The Owl and the Pussycat" in the English Theater in Hamburg, where people were falling of their seats laughing.

Thank you Joon and Will (he must have been reading the blog) for a great Saturday work-out!

Hard for me to say I'm sorry, Peter, et cetera 12:18 PM  

Man, it's like Bizarro world here today. I thought his was the mediumest Saturday in ages. It was medium personified, maybe even extra medium. Any Saturday I finish correctly in one sitting in under a half hour doesn't (on my scale anyway) qualify for challenging.

It's a beautiful puzzle, I think. What opened it up was getting LATIN off the _A_IN (after wondering if people might have been protesting any Palins in the sixties) and then immeiately getting Vatican II from that (and "vis a vis" vee-ing off from that quite nicely.)

Doug 12:24 PM  

I liked the clever cluing most of all. Unusually for me, I got about 90% done, and only through a couple of lucky breaks and perseverance. Oh, and Google. :)

An old boss was from East London, and I think that was my firt break.

Superb job, Joon, you're the man.

Two Ponies 12:38 PM  

Even though I nailed some of the clever clues and figured it was Vatican-something from Latin this one gave me a real set of shiners. First puzzle I have not been able to finish in ages.
Litotes? Kaons?
Oh well, it was fun trying even if I crashed and burned. No serpent in my bosom today!

Leslie 12:47 PM  

@mac: I had no business filling in basal body and Hodges, but I did!

That just reminded me to come back and rejoice in the fact that I finally knew some sports answers! I got Hodges (from what corner of my brain I have no idea) AND Earl "The Pearl" Monroe!! That never happens for me--I was so happy (obviously).

And to those who somehow wanted to stuff "Woodstock" into 1 Across, I ask: Did you also try to figure out some way to put the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention in that spot? I was stretching and pruning and just couldn't make it work.

@Orange: My "101 Cryptic Crosswords" arrived yesterday. I read the intro, did the sample puzzles, and am struggling away on Puzzle #1 this weekend. I think it's just a matter of getting accustomed to working a different part of the brain for those clues, yes?

Babs Lesley 1:02 PM  

Hard for me. NE segment was a loss. Still don't get "bun" or Rex's explanation. Too much science.

Hobbyist 1:08 PM  

Orange, my cryptic book came on Wednesday. Am easing in.
You should get a referral fee or something. A fun diversion whilst I work for Travelers' Aid at National Airport.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Been lurking so long that I seem to have forgotten my password. What to do? Actually, I'm Miriam B. I must chime in, however, to the chorus of bravos (bravi?) for this elegant puzzle. I enjoyed getting my teeth into it, though initially I had trouble disabusing myself of the notion that "In the Mood" was a STANDARD. The ambiguity of the clue, which led me finally to ANAPEST. set the tone for me. It was hard enough to distract me from drinking my coffee.

I'm a bookish person with scientific background - if a bachelor's in chemistry qualifies - but a sports and pop culture dummy, so this puzzle had its rough spots. I persisted and enjoyed every minute of the solving process. Thank you, Joon.

Leon 1:30 PM  

Thank you Mr. Pahk. It was hard but fun.

I knew TUB was wrong for 63D and I smiled when PUB emerged.

miriam b 1:30 PM  


Susan 1:32 PM  

This puzzle was a major owie for me (not a pussycat).

1A I wanted PORT HURON (and then my 60A was DRAFT)

For Paul Bunyan I wanted BIG WOODS and stuck with it for a long time, even after I saw LITOTES and knew it had to be wrong (it just felt so right...)

I googled my fingers to the bone and it still took me nearly an hour. Thank goodness for ZAIRE; it was about the only thing I knew to start with. It has been a while since we have had one this hard. Great fun!

Ulrich 1:33 PM  

@fikink: Thx. But what an uninspired name for a mythical figure--did he get bunyans on his feet from all that hard work?

BTW I also wondered, like Rex did, why "controversial" had to be added to the Sendak book. Was it done to head off any protests from the professional offense-takers out there? Does it mean we now get "controversial" added whenever a certain ex-governor from Alaska is being referenced? Or the present president, for that matter? (not to speak of the former...)

Elaine 1:34 PM  

@Babs Leslie
A "do" (hairdo) that could be associated with something like a Fundamentalist sect or just a prim old maid would be a BUN. It's not imaginative or necessarily flattering, just practical. Sometimes these clues click, sometimes they don't.

I am one of the Chicago convention people for 1A....but I had to give it up. Even though I got the entire NW, it was gradual, so no AHA for me.

Um, @Denise
OMAR is in the puzzle? (I lived in Cleveland a lot of years; still a fan even though he went to Seattle.) I still don't see a shortstop clue.... but occasionally I get mixed up when I work multiple puzzles. Did that happen to you? or have I been struck blind.

Gee. Easy, big fella! I don't think Anonymous was accusing you of lying!
A lot of us found this difficult, esp non-English-professors, non-scientists. I'm truly wow-ed by your time on the puzzle, but some other impressive solvers agreed that it was more difficult than that... We don't all agree on the best baseball teams, either, eh?

miriam b 1:35 PM  

I think I'm back, but the route was circuitous.

Clark 1:41 PM  

This puzzle takes me back to pre-blog days when Saturdays were just too hard for me. Oh well. I've heard of protons, electrons, neutrons; and muons, taus, neutrinos, quarks (up, down, charm, strange, top, bottom); and gluons, photons, bosons, gravitons; and even positrons. Is that enough for a Saturday? No sir.

I didn't even get VATICAN II. Sr. Bonaventure would be quite disappointed.

I got totally faked out by "In the Mood". I have it in my ear as the song with an accent on IN and MOOD, so ANAPEST is the last thing that would have occurred to me.

fikink 1:43 PM  

@Urich, now don't you go casting a Paul on one of my heroes!

Three and out.

Martin 1:47 PM  

Why did the Sendak clue say controversial?

Because it's hard to find a reference to the book without that word. It doesn't seem odd or defensive to me.

Leslie 1:57 PM  

Martin, WOW!! How did you do that "Let me Google it for you" thing? What fun!

Three and out.

fergus 1:57 PM  

I, too, was tempted by SATAN. And agree with Orange about the toughness. Of course, it took me the better part of an hour, but getting it all yielded more gratification from a NYT puzzle than in quite some time. It would have been a real bear if there were lots of answer possibilities that had the same amount of letters, but that didn't seem to be the case very often today. As Rex said, the Clues really lived up to Saturday snuff.

fergus 2:05 PM  

"Loggin' North Dakota" is now stuck in my mind, since that K in the Paul Bunyan Clue seemed to be insisting upon it.

Clark 2:10 PM  

@Ulrich --

"According to historian James Stevens, French Canadians gave birth to the [Paul Bunyan] tales during the Papineau Rebellion of 1837, when they revolted against the young English Queen. This would probably explain the origin of Bunyan's last name since "Bonyenne" is a colloquial French-Canadian expression of surprise and astonishment meaning 'Good Grief' or 'My Goodness'." (Wikipedia)

Somewhere up in Keweenah County (Northern UP of Michigan) there used to be a giant log chair on the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. (That's the middle of nowhere relative to a place that is already the middle of nowhere. Like challenging on a Saturday.) I remember going there with my older sister and my dad, when I was very young. My Goodness! I found a picture of it. Paul Bunyan's Chair (second picture at this link).

It would be in the spirit of the Paul Bunyan tales, to tell about the time that Paul Bunyan, with the help of Babe the Blue Ox, removed a giant bunion and this led to the creation of . . . .

Ulrich 2:19 PM  

...the Rocky Mountains--I get it!

Glitch 2:26 PM  

I was going in order and my first confirmed answer was 33D (KNOLLS) --- did not bode well.

Midway, CELL was the only thing that went with Basal in my mind, but knew by the cluing it couldn't be.

KAON, final answer, "felled" the SE, and I was done.

Great clues, answers, and fill. One of the most challenging puzzles I've been able to finish in a long time.

(If I can't finish on my own, it goes down as a learning experience and doesn't count).

@Martin -- I'm impressed with your link technique.


PS: It's easier to figure out the WOTD than what will hit the Parker snark button.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

Am I beating a dead horse again?

Is there any way that 4D "Contacts 21st century-style" not be clued or at least hinted as an abbr.? Especially when it is pronounced EYE-EMs? Are the abbr. expectations documented anywhere but in our collective unconscious?

BTW, that clue should read "Contacts 21st-Century style"! (Two errors, IMO (abbr.). :-)


Larry, the (Cal) Bear

GO BEARS; munch on the Ducks!

still_learnin 2:56 PM  

A tough one for me. I wanted Femm Lit for FIRELIT. Never heard of LITOTES -- that I now of. Had GREAT JOB for DREAM JOB. VATICANII only came after considering the Chicago Convention and Woodstock.

Belated Happy Birthday!

chefwen 3:10 PM  

Crashed and burned says it all for me, even with the help of Google I still couldn't pull this one out of the fire. Showed it to my husband, thinking maybe he could fill in a couple of holes. He handed it back untouched and said "is this guy bragging, or what?"

Looking forward to Sunday

Mike the Wino 3:23 PM  

Awesome, difficult, fun puzzle that required help from outside sources a few times. I've always liked Mr. Pahk's creations....thanks, Joon!

For all those wondering how to do the "Let me google that for you":

But I don't have a clue how Martin renamed the URL!

christina 3:26 PM  

Awesome workout...tough puzzle! The RED SOX/TUT/SHINERS proximity made me smile esp. after last night's game. Go Yankees!!

slypett 3:31 PM  

Unless someone else has said it: Whew! This was a mutha of a puzzle! I was in trouble from the opening bell, (even with much coddling from Auntie G.) right through to the end.

One nit. I've enclosed many SASEs, but never an SAE.

Half a nit. Does the University of Virginia style itself as UV or UVA?

Elaine 3:45 PM  


I agree! Thought it, but didn't say it: send just the SAE and you'll never get the MS back! Only now, I think most people submit electronically, eh? Someday a solver will complain about horse-and-buggy-days clues about SASE!

Three and out,
Elaine in Arkansas

Martin 4:23 PM  

Mike the Wino,

Just hover over the url that lmgtfy creates and a tinyurl button appears. You don't even have to go to snurl or tinyurl manually, although those are valuable sites to bookmark on their own. Either one is great when an url is too large or contains special characters that interfere with the page you want to embed it in. Or for hiding a surprise.

jae 4:29 PM  

Great Sat. workout, thanks Joon!

Yes to very tough.

Yes to two sittings.

Yes to getting hung up in the SENDAK, DIABOLO, KAON area and needing my bride to give me SENDAK to get me out of there.

And yes to feeling tentative all the way through this one. Seems like I was guessing a lot and getting away with it (almost).

John Reid 4:30 PM  

Joon, this puzzle was a real treat - thank you!

For me, it was the hardest Saturday in recent memory, but that may say more about my memory than anything else... Sure seemed like a killer though!

Keep 'em coming!

Martin 4:31 PM  


You justified it yourself. An abbreviation, which must be signaled, is a word that is normally replaced with the full word in speech. We read "Thu." as "Thursday," never "thoo."

An acronym or other initialism may or may not be signalled, whether it is pronounced as a word ("SCUBA") or as letters ("IM").

Some editors always signal initialisms, but Will Shortz tends to do so only early in the week, and even then somewhat randomly.

foodie 4:58 PM  

Rex and @martin, wow is that why this book is controversial? I came here to tell about my coincidence... My son and his family including my 2 year old grand daughter are visiting and they have this book with them, which I could not recall seeing before. I started to read it, and I was quite unhappy with it... because I thought it would be too scary! A little kid falling in a batter, about to be cooked in an oven! Except my grand daughter loves it! She can literally recite every page, and does it with great glee. Her parents said it is empowering for kids. So, when I saw the clue, I assumed the controversy was about its potential scariness. Shows what I know...

I sailed through the North of this puzzle, and made educated guesses that turned out right through the heartland and south. But the SW, below FOLKLORE stumped me. May be if I had an hour or two to spend on it, it might have emerged... But I totally agree that it feels like a classic. Thanks Joon!

And thanks Rex both for the thoughtful analysis, and the LOL comment: "Good lord, another anonymous asshole"

@Miriam B, I've wondered about you! Glad Joon brought you back.

Randy 5:13 PM  

Challenging for me, and for Rex too, judging by his commentary. Wonder why he opted for "Medium"?

Glitch 5:39 PM  


See RP's 10:46am post for both an answer to your question and a reason to tread carefully re: ratings ;-)


[Posted as a public service to all who said nice things yesterday ;]

Oscar 7:36 PM  

Brutal. Had GREATJOB which didn't help.

Now to put some oleo on my wounds...

Susan 8:09 PM  

@XMAN, Absolutely and exclusively, the University of Virginia is UVA. (Wahoo-Wah, anyone?)

miriam b 9:16 PM  

@foodie: Thanks for your concern. All is well, but I'm not a creature of habit and I tend to come and go as I please, shifting my focus among various kinds of Schwärmerei. Maybe it's ADD?

The puzzle did indeed bring me back into the visible blogosphere. I can't recall a puzzle I enjoyed more fully. Joon if you're warching), I hope to see more of your work soon.

PlantieBea 9:31 PM  

Difficult puzzle for me! I could do the S, but crashed in the N where Woodstock was the only convention I could think of. Beautiful puzzle but ultimately a crash and burn.

Retired_Chemist 9:52 PM  

@ Leslie - the 1968 Democratic convention was the first thing I thought of. Dismissed because I couldn't make anything 9 letters out of it.

Orange 10:31 PM  

Alright, I figured it out. Rex is a scholarly type and a sports fan, like Joon, so the puzzle landed right in a couple of his wheelhouses. Ergo "medium." I always forget words like LITOTES and other rhetorical devices, having never taught an English class, and I'm way less of a sports fan than Rex or Joon. Ergo "challenging" for me.

foodie 11:15 PM  

Where is our data guru to tell us where this landed?

@Orange, I agree that Rex and Joon probably overlap well in a couple of areas-- English, Sports. I thought having a scientific background would help me but BASAL BODY took a long time to come. What helped me is knowing KARNAK and XERXES.

@miriam b, I know what you mean. Not it's not ADD... It's good for you : )

I liked Joon's comment on Orange's website. Take a look!

Clark 12:32 AM  

@foodie --

I believe our data guru said he was off to somewhere, was it North Carolina?, for a week or so. So we're on our own, and without the help of data we cannot be sure that we aren't imagining everything.

andrea overruled michaels 3:34 AM  

I think SFman59 went to Michigan, so he should be in your neck-of-the-woods.

Two sittings for me and then gave up...but I wanted to read the blog, so I gave it one more try and it does pay to keep at it. Peer pressure?

Loved all the X's and Z's and K's.
KAON I knew from Scrabble, not Science. Anagram of KOAN.
And I love that FIT and FLAG can have 23 different definitions.

I think I got KARNAK from Johnny Carson and my favorite word was JUXTAPOSE.
Didn't understand "bun" till I saw Rex's picture.

Again one of those puzzles that I didn't understand anything I was putting in, yet got all the answers, so sort of an out-of-body experience.
Like, I'd put in VERO Beach, even tho I don't know who or what that is, but it was in my brain...
I would say 93% of the puzzle was like that for me...

It reminded me of that article on Salon or Slate who wrote about crossword folks...and he was totally horrible yet he hit home, in that I filled in Sendak with never having read Sendak...
got Hodges and Vero Beach and Earl the Pearl without ever having watched or read about sports, knew Anapest and litotes, from godknowswhat...

So this puzzle makes me feel like an idiot-savant.
@VaBeach puzzler
Joon was on a college bowl team.

STMARK, LATIN, VATICANII, where's the love for Jews during this holy week?

liquid el lay 4:55 AM  

RADIX was the one “give me”. It gave me the whole NE. After that it was hard work. ISUZU was an I-can-not-believe-this revelation that was both infuriating and funny as hell. FOLKLORE had a similar, though less intense, bump to it; man. RAND brought some joy.

The northern hemisphere was correct, but things got wacky in the south for me. SATAN remained brooding in the SW abyss, and caused a bit of trouble.

To the east KARNAK SENDAK DIABOLO and KAON created a critical mass of interwoven obscurity that I did not overcome. But I could have. Eventually I would have seen KENNEDY, remembered SENDAK, and built the rest. So it’s a fair puzzle, and a very good one, I think.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

Hey rex,
Anonymous asshole here....
My point was that you yourself said the puzzle was difficult.. again and again in your posting, and that hardly seemed consistent with your rating. Not even a little. Congratulations for never lying. And for your arrogance. You truly excel.

Rex Parker 11:01 AM  

If "not lying" = "arrogance," then I plead guilty.

You appear to be one of the people who don't / can't / won't grasp the concept of "relative difficulty."

Not sure you're the asshole I thought you were, though. A real asshole would know how to wield sarcasm a little more deftly, I think.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

I get it Rex. I do/ can/ will grasp the concept..
You're very smart, and sometimes a puzzle that's hard for me isn't hard for you. I imagine that happens every day. It's not a problem. I'm okay with it.
You say a puzzle was medium for you? I trust you that it indeed was. Okay? Feel better now?

I Wasn't trying to be sarcastic.... and I certainly wasn't trying to attract you personally.

You, on the other hand were, on both counts it would seem.

You wield your sarcasm very deftly.. I kneel in your shadow.

Stan 1:54 PM  

from Monty Python -- Pirhana Brothers skit:

Vercotti: ... Well, I was terrified. Everyone was terrified of Doug.

2nd Interviewer: What did he do?

Vercotti: He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious.

Presenter: By a combination of violence and sarcasm, the Piranha brothers by February 1966 controlled London and the Southeast of England.

Joon 10:40 PM  

miriam b: welcome back! glad you enjoyed the puzzle. that goes for everybody else who enjoyed it, too. the clues on this one turned out to be especially fun, i think, although several of the most spectacular misleads (ANAPEST, BIG BANDS, SHINERS, PUB, PLANES) weren't my brainchildren, much as i might like to claim credit for them.

as for the fill, well, i'm not going to apologize for who i am, but i suspect this is the most extreme case of my own personality coming out in a puzzle. (at least so far!) if you didn't like it, you probably won't like any of my puzzles, but i doubt the next one will be quite so extreme. i suspect at any rate, it won't be quite so hard.

chris 1:59 AM  

Tough but fair. Don't know a ton of old timey baseball trivia, but any pro sports clue that goes back to the early 1900's has to be about baseball, and Red Sox fit nicely.

I do know a good deal of biology, but that was possibly more of a hindrance than a help for the BASAL BODY clue. My first thought was centrosome, then centriole, but when that conflicted with Earl the Pearl, I mentally recounted everything I knew about microtubules, which unfortunately didn't include anything about flagellar organelles. Had I been completely ignorant on the subject, I would've skipped over that clue until I had enough crosses to make an educated guess, which is what I ended up doing anyway.

I was reading Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" a few weeks ago, and he had some harsh words for LITOTES, or at least litotes of a certain form:

"[I]t should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence*...

*One can cure oneself of the not un- formation by memorizing this sentence: A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field."

He didn't use the term litotes, which isn't surprising given that one of his other goals is "to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence" (in fact, that's the very next clause in the above excerpt).

Anonymous 10:49 PM  

The good lord here...

I've given it some thought, and I think you need you need to go fuck yourself

william e emba 8:52 AM  

Sorry for this late response (Yom Kippur and all) but I just want to chime in that I thought the puzzle was easy. This was about my third or fourth fastest Saturday, only a few minutes longer than Rex's time.

The science and lit clues were almost all gimmes and on top of that I actually have heard of Gil HODGES.

Although it was a weird solving experience. I kept tripping on misdirections, thinking I was taking forever, thinking the puzzle was difficult and challenging, but ultimately as every logjam broke scads of white space filled up in an instant to make up for it. I have to agree with Rex 100% about his objective style of rating and his frequent use of "difficult" in his write up. The puzzle was both.

As for 1 Across, when I noticed that "Chicago" didn't fit, and neither did "First Texas Symposium in Gravitational Astrophysics", I needed a few crosses (not just the V from the gimme VIS-A-VIS) to get VATICAN II.

As for "controversy" vis-a-vis the SENDAK book, his Where the Wild Things Are was considered "controversial" in its day. It was frequently banned and pilloried. Heck, even The Cat in the Hat created controversy.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:16 PM  

Just did this puzzle today (10/17), catching up on what I missed. Got it done with one write-over (ONEMOMENT before INAMOMENT), but had to come to the blog to find out why "In the Mood" was an ANAPEST. Thank you, Rex, and thank you, Joon, for an excellent puzzle.

Minnesota solver 1:13 PM  


Very late to the discussion out here in syndication-land-- but I think what anonymous "asshole" meant was this:

Usually, if I were to read your comments without looking at the rating that you had assigned to a puzzle, I would have a pretty accurate guess at your rating. Today, if I read the comments alone, I would have guessed your rating to be harder than medium-- even accounting for the relative difficulty scale. On this point, I'd have to agree with "asshole." This is a valid observation that in no way questions your honesty.

By the way, I also loved this puzzle. Agree that it's a candidate for puzzle of the year so far.

Waxy in Montreal 4:22 PM  

In a puzzle so riveting, thankfully for a baseball fan there were a few gimmes such as VERO, HODGES and REDSOX. Also ZAIRE & VOTESIN. Thereafter, how DIABOLOc. Next time a Joon Pahk appears, I'll begin by praying through intermediaries STMARK and LEOX - in LATIN - for divine inspiration. Or maybe I'll just review my VATICANII notes.

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

Also in syndication land. I enjoy reading this blog for the education I get. I think the system of Rex rating puzzles by their difficulty to him should be abandoned. People get very defensive when someone is a better solver than them and then labels a puzzle they thought was difficult "medium". Resorting to name-calling is childish and takes away the pleasure of reading the blog. When sanfran man posts the actual numbers, that is more valid than some arbitrary rating.

Unknown 12:10 AM  

Ordinarily I don't comment (as another syndication-land resident), but it looks like I was the only 1968 Chicago convention fan who tried MCMLXVIII. It was the right length and it even fit with the trailing II. Didn't last long, though.

I also wound up with GREATJOB, which made the Hawthorne book EGOTIST (sounded plausible) and East London money RANG. That sounded odd, but I didn't know where East London was anyway.

Anna 2:51 AM  

For 15A I tried "NOT SO FAST" but when that didn't work, put "IT'S COMING" (as in "When's dinner?" "Hold your horses, it's coming!"). This gave not 2, not 3, but 4 correct crosses: I,O,M,& N, so I kept it (almost) forever... And then at 34A, expecting (rightly) a misdirection, I took the clue as "swingers/mate swappers" and so put BIGBABES. With 6 of 8 crosses correct, I hated even more to give this one up, but had to after I got EMERALDS. So "swing set players" has three different meanings! Wow. Excellent puzzle, no matter how it's rated. My favorite in many a moon.

ADayLateAndFiveWeeksShort 1:59 PM  

I'm sure this puzzle was medium for Rex, when you do in Across Lite and can look at the answer, but for REAL solvers (those who use pencil and paper) this was tough -- too tough, if you ask me. Too much 'you know it or you don't' crosses. That just doesn't make for much fun.

Rex Parker 2:11 PM  

No one will see this, but a clarification. You Cannot See "Answers" when solving in AcrossLite any more than you can see them when solving pen/paper. They are not available. Anywhere. This seems to be a widespread misconception, as I've heard such accusations before.

Solving in AcrossLite isn't easier (tho' for speed solvers it can make you a little faster if you type faster than you write). Just different.

Singer 2:07 PM  

Very late (on Monday) post from syndication land (see Rex, someone did see your last comment).

This thing was hard for me - don't know east coast baseball trivia, not an English major. Had to use Google 5 times to solve, which irritates me and tells me I don't know enough trivia. Did complete it in about an hour, but the use of Google takes away the validity of the solve for me. Thought it was a really good puzzle, though.

WilsonCPU 11:42 AM  

One more from SyndicationLand...
1. Yes, I also read your comment
2. Yes, I understand your response to Anonymous A-hole (and agree with your evaluation of him/her!)
3. Yes, I agree a tough puzzle, but that's what Saturday is for... the Semi-Puzzle Wife and I did it in about 40 minutes... we really liked "Like it"! Clever and concise... (unlike this note!)

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