Michael who sang Im lumberjack Im OK / SAT 4-14-12 / Moliere contemporary / Singer in Odyssey / 400 Pennsylvania Nascar event / Locale in much-studied 1934 photo / Equivalent of ibidem / 1980s-90s Ford model / 1970s-80s NBA nickname

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: COX (30D: 1920 Democratic presidential nominee) —
James Middleton Cox (March 31, 1870 – July 15, 1957) was the 46th and 48th Governor of OhioU.S. Representative from Ohio and Democratic candidate for President of the United States in the election of 1920. [...] Cox's running mate was future president, then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. One of the better known analyses of the 1920 election is in author Irving Stone's book about defeated Presidential candidates, They Also Ran. Stone rated Cox as superior in every way over Warren Harding, claiming the former would have made a much better president; the author argued that there was never a stronger case in the history of American presidential elections for the proposition that the better man lost. (wikipedia)
• • •

Both smoother and easier (by five minutes!) than yesterday's offering. Not a lot of flash, but solid enough. Serviceable. Marquee answers are good ("THEODORE REX," JEAN JACKETS) (36A: 2001 presidential biography by Edmund Morris + 29A: Western wear), and there are some nice touches throughout (I esp. like UPDRAFTS and BAT PHONE) (1A: Skirt raisers? + 52A: TV hotline) [note: "TV" is already in the grid at 7-Down—seems like a cluing oversight]. The rest was fine, though there were some unpretty (however valid) moments, like APICAL and the FASCES / SEPTA cross, which I would've blown were not the "E" in SEPTA easily inferrable (from "septum") (47D: Walls of the heart). FASCES looks plural to me, so I figured the [Symbol of power] was a FASCIS. STEP FOUR is wicked arbitrary (31D: "Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves," in Alcoholics Anonymous). But everything else really does seem in good fighting shape.

First answer in was DR. J (23D: 1970s-'80s N.B.A. nickname). That was after the NW corner turned up absolutely nothing—nothing but a stray terminal "S" or two, that is. From that stray "S" and AID I was able to get SESSION (8D: Shrink time, say), then AMORE (26A: Subject for Enrico Caruso), then TV DRAMA (7D: Many an HBO show), and then I backed my way easily into that NW corner. Between TOSSES (35A: Discards) and NITE (gimme!) (28A: Kiss hit "Rock and Roll All ___"), I was able to get into the NE with little difficulty. Needed every cross for APICAL, but the rest was a cinch. Started with JEB (instead of JED, 29D: "The Beverly Hillbillies" role) and only "Dutch" came to mind when thinking of Edmund Morris presidential biographies, so it took me a while to see "THEODORE REX." Got into that SW by putting in STEP- and then easily getting PLOTS (46A: Puts on a graph, say) and EARN (40A: Pull down). Also knew SEED (51D: Ranked player), so the rest of the answers, even the odd anatomical PHALANGE, didn't stand much of a chance. Finished very quickly in the SE once I determined that it was the BARK and not the ROOT of the ELM that was a [Medicinal tea source]. Couldn't remember ALICANTE, but it hardly mattered, as the crosses readily took care of that answer (55A: Spanish port). By the way, that's "port" as in "city by the sea" and not "dessert wine."

  • 15A: Equivalent of "ibidem" (SEE ABOVE) — off the -VE. The "V" was crucial.
  • 18A: Parnassian (POETIC) — I do not know this word.
  • 21A: Marion ___, Emmy-winning actress on "Bewitched" (LORNE) — wow, who? Who was she on "Bewitched"? I'm assuming she didn't win her Emmy for "Bewitched" — Ohhhh, she was Aunt Clara, and yes she did win Outstanding Supporting Actress for "Bewitched." Trivia: she won her Emmy posthumously. She was nominated multiple earlier times for something called "Sally" and something called "Mr. Peepers."
  • 31A: Cousin of bridge (SPADES) — I know nothing about bridge. SPADES is a reasonably cardy answer, so it wasn't hard to uncover w/ a cross or two.
  • 41A: Michael who sang "I'm a lumberjack and I'm O.K." (PALIN) — from the Monty Python troupe. Nice PALIN choice. 

  • 56A: Classic Lorre role (UGARTE) — "Casablanca." Learned it from xwords.
  • 13D: Liqueur sweetened with syrup (ANISETTE) — off the -ETTE. Not a lot of alternatives.
  • 14D: Locale in a much-studied 1934 photo (LOCH NESS) — off the NESS. *Really* not a lot of alternatives.
  • 26D: Classical subject of a Velázquez painting in the Prado (AESOP) — had the AE- and still left it for a while because AENEAS didn't fit and I figured the figure would by mythological.
  • 33D: 1980s-'90s Ford model (AEROSTAR) — a van, I think. Just needed the "RO." 
  • 49D: With 44-Down, it had its grand opening on 10/1/1982 (EPCOT / CENTER) — part of the reason the SE corner went down so fast. Putting a couple cross-referenced clues in one section like this can either kill you or (as today) really speed things along. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:07 AM  

A very solid easy-medium for me also.

Liked the Marilyn Monroe image at 1a and highly recommend the new series Smash about the creation of a broadway musical based on her life.

Was sure FASCES (bundle of sticks with an axe in the middle) was going to be wrong and was pleasantly surprised.

SE was last to fall but went quickly once EPCOT emerged.

This is about what a Sat. should be.

Tobias Duncan 12:14 AM  

Bottom half was easy, northeast was brutal as I did not really know much up there.POCONO has gotten me before, I better figure out just what the hell that place is all about and where the hell it is.

Karl 1:25 AM  

Fasces, Parnassian, Alicante, Ugarte...phew...Lucked out and got them all using crosses...good puzzle in general after a somewhat disappointing week. That being said, when I do an LA Times puzzle I remember that a bad NYT puzzle is still way better than most of the others.

pk 1:35 AM  

@Rex - thx for the Lumberjack Song!

First things in for me were Petrol crossing Bruisers in the NW. Thought to self "Holy crap, I'm solving a Saturday puzzle."

NE was hard - really struggled with Apical - doesn't sound like a real word - and had no idea about Pocono.

Will have to go google Theodore Rex and see what that's about, other than a shout-out to you-know-who.

retired_chemist 2:20 AM  

Easy-medium here too. My PA NASCAR event was in EASTON, which got me to PANDA for the bear (wrong on so many levels). Meant a slowish slog in the NE.

PASS the hat (53D) slowed the SE but not as much.

Knew "Searching and fearless inventory" was an early STEP,so FOUR was earlier than five or nine. Worked. The U and a couple of other crosses gave me UGARTE.

HEMLINES (Skirt raisers) departed easily once PETROL was in.

In fact the story of my solve was the positing of wrong answer after wrong answer, replacing each when a cross seemed more likely, and then filling in a LOT I didn't really know from the resulting partials. T. REX, COX, RACINE, FASCES, ALICANTE, and ANISETTE came that way. Usually I stick with a wrong answer far too long - maybe I am learning.

Thanks, Mr. Diehl.

Anisette Coteries Michaels 3:20 AM  

I've taken to doing the Friday and Saturday puzzle in pencil, a first for me in 40+ years and it's helping! I don't make such a mess and am not as loathe to let go of some wrong stuff...

Like r_chem PASS...and @rex, I tried AEnas, rather than be put off that AENEAS didnt fit...like a hammered in jigsaw piece...
And if you aren't a drinker,
???ETT? Could be amarETTo...and STEPFOUR remains invisible till the end.
Happily REtolD was wrong but right enough with the R to eventually get FOUR.
And it's ironic, having never touched alcohol, I now live by the AA tenet QTIP (QUIT TAKING IT PERSONALLY).

One complaint...I had ??DRAMA but since their slogan was SPECIFICALLY that "it's not TV, It's HBO" I couldn't bring myself to write in "TV", plus TV being in the batphone clue!!! Harrumph.

Casablanca is favorite film of all time and UGARTE was super hard for me...but M wouldn't fit!

COx was hard for me (hi @dk, long time, no flirt!) I tried everything from COe to COc, thinking it might be
Calvin O. Coolidge.

Anyway, speaking of failed presidential candidates, thanks for going with Monty Python's Michael over Sarah.

SethG 6:55 AM  

If you know less, say, 17th century dramatic poetry, you may have to get lucky and guess that LORxx is LORNE instead of, say, LORCH. Otherwise, not too bad, though I did have ALCOTT and BAT CYCLE (and OWLET) at first.

Glimmerglass 7:48 AM  

Jut watched Casablanca again on TCM. Coincidence? Hmmm. Wonderful movie. Anyway, that made UGARTE a gimme off just the U. Had to infer the X in the COX/biography crossing. Didn't know either. COe is also a last name (and it could be initials), but REX is the only word that made sense in a book title. I had redPHONE for a time and was delighted when TIP O' gave me BATPHONE -- great clue and answer. This was easy/medium for me too, but lots of fun anyway.

Ulrich 7:55 AM  

My longest struggle was with the biography title. Thought first "Bill Clinton" (didn't he have a friend named Morris?) and tried to fit in THE ODOR EATER. When that didn't work, I changed JED to JEF (those Appalachian-Americans are known for dropping their end-fs) and the drug to VITALIN (now that's something I would take) to get THEO FOREVER, figuring that C.O.R stood for someone like Carl Otto Rumpole who lost something in 1920, way before I was born. With that accomplished, I went to sleep. But something kept nagging at me (wasn't Rooseveldt known as "Teddy"?)--I woke up and looked at the thing again--bingo! The scales fell off my eyes and I could put JED back inti his rightful place.

Speaking of Jed: Does someone remember the New Yorker cartoon showing two cowboys making coffee by the fire, where one asks the other, "Latte, Jed?"

Loren Muse Smith 7:58 AM  

SESSION, AID, and BATPHONE (fun!) ABCS, AGHAST, EGRET were my quick low-hanging fruit and then I came to a total standstill. I thought this was a lot harder than ya’ll. Wanted “airvenTs” for UPDRAFTS. Early on lightly penciled in “gorilla” for BRUISER and was thinking “JEANSand. . ..” for western wear.

THEODOREREX/RITALIN/COX /ALICANTE crosses were very hard for me, especially since I had filled in “Re” for RIPOSTED for way too long and of course was thinking fortified wine for port.

Hand up with @Rex – I’ve never seen the word “Parnassian” and flirted with “gaulic” for a while.

FASCES, UGARTE, APICAL. . . If there were a day between Saturday and Sunday, that’s where I’d rank this one. Nice puzzle, though. Fair enough with the crosses.

Lorre and lorry appearing in the clues was cute.

I played Spades every weekend in high school. One time, this really -smart -in -one -way –but- not- in- other -ways guy, Bentley S, went to the bathroom, and we stacked the deck so that he was dealt 12 (13 would have been too suspicious) spades. Watching his reaction upon seeing his good fortune is something I’ll never forget; he had no idea that it was a joke. Good times.

Oh, and I'm off to get the Too Big dress. Apparently it's in fact ok to wear white to a prom.

Geometricus 8:07 AM  

UGARTE was hard for me too, have only seen bits of Casablanca, so I wanted IGOR to fit. Didn't know FASCES so S-P-A was the last thing to fall for me, becoming SEPTA, which I should have known in retrospect.

@Acme, hands up for REtolD and AmarETTo, I only drink wine and beer, but I visited my brother in treatment, so I knew STEPFOUR. I do it every week before I go to confession. Keeps me sane and humble.

jberg 8:30 AM  

I was really slowed down by PASSing the hat - and then not knowing Michael PALIN's name (had to get that from a house guest). On the other hand, COX was my first answer - I teach political science, and at one point got into this simple computer game where you had to know the names of all the major Pres and VP candidates. He was nominated on the 44th ballot at the DNC. Those were the days! FDR was the vice-presidential nominee. Is there a book called Franklin REX?

I thought GMT at 48A was a stretch. I guess the idea is that if you are in Greenwich you set your watch to GMT, but I mean -- tortured. That was my last entry.

evil doug 8:42 AM  

Had no idea on fasces, but the apparent connection to fascism made it seem right.

Flew (unauthorized---supposed to be a couple thousand feet in trail) finger-tip formation in the C-130 with the RAF over Loch Ness---no sign of the gal....

My parents honeymooned in the Poconos.

Stuck with 'resisted' too long because I was so sure about 'pass the hat', but finally did the painful scratch-out that paid off.

Familiar with macrame, but no idea of the process. Elm bark (I think aspirin has something to do with willow bark?) seemed likely, so I almost tried knitters. Finally found and enjoyed bat-phone (thank God it wasn't some technical cable TV thingie---and didn't even notice the twin TV faux pas), then tip o', hence knotters.

Mr. Moto would fit nicely, and wrongly.

'Demurs' is a cool word. Also 'thresh'. 'Bruisers', too---vividly colorful.

Had to be 'Jed'---to rhyme with 'barely kept his family fed'. Want me to sing the rest? 'Cause I can....

Not one answer over 11 letters, no triple stacks, no fancy ego-satisfying tricks---and a truly fine little puzzle results.


jackj 9:22 AM  

Ah, Dr. Diehl, thankfully, this appointment only dealt with a cavity and a routine prophylaxis; no root canals today!

SESSION and APPT went in first and the upper right filled in quickly after offering up JEANJACKETS which was an excellent entrée into the rest of the grid.

This was one of those enigmatic puzzles that look difficult but end up making you feel good when you realize how many answers you actually had stored in that bit of gray matter where crossword answers lurk.

For me, a few of those answers included:

PALIN without Sara? --No problem, think Monty Python.

THEODOREREX? –Enjoyed an hour interview about it with Edmund Morris on C-Span’s “Booknotes”, (though not inspired enough to purchase a copy).

UGARTE? --From one of my favorite films.

ICERINKS? –As a passionate hockey fan, the wish was father to the answer.

FASCES?—Oops, never heard of it.

And then there are KNOTTERS which I’m almost embarrassed to admit went in to the grid without my batting an eyelash. The questions came later and were finally resolved in favor of KNOTTERS since, of course, KNOTTERS tie knots and macramé are patterns of knots so, no shame for me, but I hope Dr. D. is a little chagrined by his entry.

An excellent way to end an interesting week of puzzles. Thanks, Dr. Diehl.

Z 9:31 AM  

NE was easy even though I did the "really?" shrug at APICAL. SW was easy even though I did the "really?" shrug at FASCES. NW and SE were vast expanses of white. ATM CARDS and SESSION were the first entries in the NW, then TV DRAMA, but that was it until I googled Aunt Clara - and the annoying thing was I knew it had to be Aunt Clara but had no idea what the name might be. Racine is a city in Wisconsin in my world.

The SE was similar with ABCd and BRONTE giving me no help. As Rex said, cross referenced answers in a corner can either make the section really easy or just kill you.

I also liked the choice of PALINs, although I can easily imagine Sarah in Michael's part in the Dead Parrot skit.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:33 AM  

So two days ago we had a puzzle with a big "plus" in the center and today there is a little "minus" in the center!

Not a comment on the puzzle itself, though. Fine, easy Saturday.

And I had a hint on 21 A, Marion LORNE, because I saw "Mr. Peepers" starring Wally Cox (no relation to 30 D) back in the Stone Age.

kevin 9:48 AM  

Mr Peeper with Tony Randall along with Wally Cox. Many surprised to learn that Cox was a close friend of Marlon Brando.

GILL I. 9:49 AM  

A fine Sat puzzle which had me checking up on several words I did not know. Had FASCiS/SiPTA which made about as much sense as APICAL. Had KNiTTERS and TIPI the hat was probably some TV program I never watched.
I loved the batphone clue because my husband was hot last night and he knew that one and PALIN and PETROL and Kiss's NITE. Yay, for his attempts at the crossword.
I also had maids for 26D. I was thinking of Velazquez' "Las Minas" which means The Maids in English. While studying Art History at U of Madrid, we spent a lot of wonderful time on his works. AESOP isn't as well known and even his "Vieja Friendo Huevos" takes more of a center stage.
Casablanca is a movie I can watch a million times so UGARTE was popped right in. ALICANTE was one of my various playgrounds in Spain and I learned that RITALIN is not just for hyper kids.
Thanks Sr. Diehl for one good Sat. puzzle.

joho 9:51 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, I wish 30D had been clued for Wally because I would have known that COX. That square was my Natick here. I guessed the incorrect "t" as in RET, retired.

Got everything else and truly enjoyed it especially BATPHONE, BRUISERS, COTERIES and RIPOSTED.

Thank you, Mark Diehl, for a super satisfying Saturday!

M 9:52 AM  

Ugarte: You despise me, don't you?

Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

JC66 10:05 AM  


The cartoon seems to be from The Far Side.

Wood 10:21 AM  

Really clean grid! Only 8 three-letter words, and none of them are awful crosswordese. APICAL is a stretch, but inferable from "apex" maybe. Needed every cross for UGARTE. Thought it was JEAN bAsKETS for a while... that seemed unlikely though for the NYT...

This was a banner week for me, time-wise. Today was second-fastest Saturday ever since modern record keeping began. Personal bests this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. And, record average Mon-Sat time -- 16.6 minutes. Yay!

quilter1 10:25 AM  

Proudest moment when I threw down BATPHONE. Fun puzzle. I liked BRONTE instead of the cliche Eyre. RIPOSTED is pretty classy. Don't know about STEP FOUR being arbitrary. STEP FOUR is STEP FOUR. They aren't shuffled around.

GILL I. 10:28 AM  

That should be "Las MENINAS."
More latte, Jed.....

Mel Ott 10:44 AM  

I found this one fairly easy for a Saturday, but a very nice puzzle. Tough words like APICAL are gettable from the crosses.

THEODORE REX is an excellent biography of TR. It's the 2nd volume of three, covering the presidential years. Vol. 3 "Colonel Roosevelt" is sitting in my stack of books-to-read.

Didn't we have FASCES just afew months ago?

archaeoprof 10:51 AM  

Like @Glimmerglass, got UGARTE because I watched "Casablanca" on TCM last night. No commercials.

I predict it will be one of the great films of all time.

Don't know whether this will be one of the great puzzles of all time, but it was fun!

Tita 11:22 AM  
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Tita 11:23 AM  

Finished this puzzle clean! Oh sure, I had writeovers, but got my smiling Will Shortz when I hit "Submit" rather than the scowling Rex...

@Rex - how you wound me to the quick...
Port, the "dessert wine" as you call it, could never be referenced in any way as Spanish...
The Douro Valley is, in fact, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, and it is, in fact, in Portugal. I shall simply tell myself that your constructor's psyche was thinking of a particularly devious redirection of some sort, because everyone of course knows that Port comes from Portugal (they named the d@%n country after it, for heaven's sake!)

Yeah - that cross-ref in the NE nearly was my undoing - What? EPCOT CENTER? Who knows that, and who cares?

@Gill - thanks for that other Velazquez painting - beautiful!

@LOREn...figures you would notice the LORRE/LORRY pairing...nice!

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Please can someone explain Batphone? You all like it so much and I don't get it!

Tita 11:38 AM  

Oh - and The Seven Year Itch was on TCM two nights ago - with the famous 1A scene...

@Anon - the Batman TV show - the Commissioner had a hotline to Batman.

Sparky 11:44 AM  

DNF. Have decided to call a stop at some point rather than drag the paper around all day. That being said had a good time. Solved clockwise: SE, SW, NW and NE sliding home as it were. Couldn't parse 36A: brain stayed with THE something and lAy; CO?. Did not know RITALIN good for narcolepsy. Got 31D off the O.

We had an AEROSTAR; terrible shocks, shake you up. Oh, my; Mr. Peepers: Tony Randall, Marion Lorne. Rembmered her characters but not the name at first. And Wally Cox: Have no fear Underdog is here.

Good start for the weekend. Thanks Mark Diehl.

orangeblossomspecial 11:45 AM  

Parsing 36A differently would be a good clue for "pheromone": THE ODOR EREX.

@jberg, 8:30 am. My take on GMT is that it is the location of 0 degrees of longitude. After all, the world rotated around the British Empire at one time.

@Rex already got the musical references in the puzzle, except for Dean Martin's 26A 'That's AMORE'. Can't go to a wedding reception these days without hearing this song from 60 years ago.

GILL I. 11:47 AM  

@Tia: You sorta took the words (port) out of my mouth. In fact, you did.
My husband, the Brit, (by the way, it twas they who discovered it!) would like to thank all of you from the Douro.

Tita 12:24 PM  

@Gill...You're welcome! Yes, it was to make the wine keep better when shipping it off to England that it was fortified.
The Brits, having had a slight falling out with the French, had to look elsewhere for their wine. That's why the Methuen Treaty is aka The Port Wine Treaty...

Portugal and England also have the oldest still-intact alliance, the Treaty of Windsor.

Shamik 12:36 PM  

After tracking 211 Saturday puzzles, this one came out as third easiest. Almost a disppointment. But then BATPHONE made me smile as did JEANJACKETS.

And anything that inspires Rex to post the Lumberjack Song...well that just makes any day a happy one.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Didn't want to watch "Casablanca" again, for the gazillionth time, but got hooked...love when Rick hides UGARTE's letters of transit in Sam's piano! Why Bogart didn't get the Oscar is beyond me.

For Downton fans- "Titanic" mini-series on ABC tonite and tomorrow- written by Julian Fellowes. Saw a clip- very "upstairs, downstairs-ish."

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

You find fasces (sans axe) depicted on the seat of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.. Surprised to see it in the puzzle, but it immediately came to mind.

quilter1 1:34 PM  

I remember Marion Lorne from Bewitched and Mr. Peepers, but most especially as the doting mother in Strangers on a Train.

mac 1:40 PM  

I had a totally different experience than most of you: easy in the NW, NE and SE, impossible in the SW. Love riposted and coteries!

My Saturday evening: home cooking and AZ - PSV! AZ is practically the home team, so happy with the half time result of 2 - 1. First score for them by Altidore!

Lewis 2:47 PM  

The NE fell quickly for me, then the SW. I wanted WHIST for 31A, but it didn't fit, and I knew 31D was one of the STEPs (which helped my solve because it could only be step 4, 5, or 9). Googled three times; hoping to lessen that on Saturdays. Overall a bright solid solve and puzzle. Enjoyed it.

Doc John 3:43 PM  

I knew it would be a good day when THEODORE REX was a total gimme. @ Mel Ott- do yourself a favor and read Colonel Roosevelt (as well as The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt). A great trilogy, well-researched and vividly written. And no, he didn't like to be called Teddy.

I am not thrilled with PHALANGE- I don't know anyone who doesn't use phalanx as the singular and phalanges as the plural. But, the dictionary says it's acceptable so I'll have to accept it.

Just when I get used to orb or scepter as symbols of power, now I have to remember yet another one! Thanks, English language!

Have I mentioned that I hate captcha?

lawprof 4:22 PM  

After I had "_MORE" at 26A, the answer had to be AMORE, but...why is that a "Subject for Enrico Caruso"? Any more than, say, Richard Tucker? Is it simply the Italian connection? Am I just being dense today?

Jonpaul Guinn 4:30 PM  

For a long time while trying to figure out the SE corner I actually almost convinced myself there might have been a presidential biography called "The Odometer".

JenCT 5:22 PM  

I'm jealous of those who thought this easy! I struggled for too long, trying different letters until I got the Happy Pencil.

Then I stared at the grid, wondering

michael 5:46 PM  

Easy Saturday for me. I did the top half at Tuesday speed, the rest at Thursday/Friday speed.

First answer -- Cox.

sanfranman59 6:23 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:16, 6:49, 0.92, 17%, Easy
Tue 8:59, 8:52, 1.01, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:33, 11:49, 0.72, 2%, Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 145 Wednesdays)
Thu 16:26, 18:56, 0.87, 24%, Easy-Medium
Fri 21:28, 25:00, 0.86, 24%, Easy-Medium
Sat 21:05, 29:30, 0.71, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:40, 0.91, 12%, Easy
Tue 4:36, 4:35, 1.00, 58%, Medium
Wed 4:33, 5:52, 0.78, 3%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 144 Wednesdays)
Thu 8:33, 9:18, 0.92, 40%, Medium
Fri 10:03, 12:22, 0.81, 22%, Easy-Medium
Sat 10:40, 16:45, 0.64, 3%, Easy (4th lowest median solve time of 137 Saturdays)

retired_chemist 7:46 PM  

If you haven't had Portuguese wines you have a REAL treat coming.

Dirigonzo 7:51 PM  

I instantly put in UPDRAFTS at 1a just because it fit (and I like that MM image) and that pretty much gave me the whole NW section. AEROSTAR (33d) was just in the puzzle a few days ago in syndicationland, where I solve every day but Saturday, so that gave me a leg up in the SW. The NE resisted mightily but I finally prevailed there, too. But the BAgPHONE that the Secret Service agents always carry to keep the president in touch with other world leaders in time of crisis (at least in TV movies) kept me from bringing this one all the way home. Rats.

chefbea 8:09 PM  

Sorry I haven't commented. No time for the puzzle or to read anything. Too busy at the Azalea festival. See you tomorrow

zach 8:26 PM  

How do I put more than one letter in a box on the NYT puzzle? Anyone?

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

@zach Um, write really small???

Oh, wait, if you mean in Across Lite, hit the insert button.

Stephen 8:20 AM  

I don't often attempt a Saturday, but decided to bang my way through this one. Glad I did. Good fill, good fun.

The NE took a week to fall. Got PETROL and SESSION (both cute). But demurred on DEMURS (thought it needed an E on the end). Never heard of RACINE; wifey had to clue me in. SEEABOVE didn't come until I finally put in DEMUR. BRUISERS was nowhere until the very end. One thing that held me back was USEABLE... I saw that it fit in the grid, but refused to put it in because does not fit the clue (helpful). Microsoft Word rises to the level of being USEABLE, but it is so often unpredictable and annoying that it is often a paradigm of UNhelpfulness. The two words are talking about different properties!

Sharon NYC 5:28 AM  

Very smooth sailing through the top half. I confess: for SW, needed a trip to IMDB.com to look up the Lorre character name. I already knew Mr. Moto wouldn't work because the AA clue had to be STEP FOUR, FIVE OR NINE(the only three out of 12 that fit). Just couldn't remember the name of Lorre's character in "Casablanca."

By the way, was surprised Rex found the AA clue "wicked abitrary." I thought it was really clever. The possible answers were obvious, but you had to figure out which of the three it was.

Anyway, it was SE that killed me. I was felled by my certainty in the answer PASS the hat. TIP O' didn't even occur to me (now THAT one seems wicked arbitrary to me]. So, with my mistake etched in stone, I stared and stared...put it down for a day, then stared some more. To make it all the more pathetic, right off the bat, I'd figured STEEDS, BRONTES, RITALIN and ELM something, but the stupid PASS made them all seem wrong. I lost patience, came here, got ABCS and TIP O', and the rest was obvious. GRRRRRR.

Incidentally, I agree with @Stephen that USABLE is, at the very least, an inelegant answer to the clue "helpful." I got the answer pretty quickly through the crosses, but it irked me too.

Solving in Seattle 1:35 PM  

skipped reading the comments this morning in Syndieville cause I'm off to enjoy this PacNW beautiful day on the golf course.

I hurried thru this CW cheating like crazy with smoke coming out of the Google machine. Still, had some problems in the NW - last to fall.

liked the Lorre clue. When I lived in San Diego years ago there was a Pacific Beach bar that continually played Casablanca. Patrons would speak along with all the lines, sorta like the "Sound of Music" midnight sing-alongs.

Had pass for 53D until it became clear TIPO was the answer. Cheap. Better clue would have been "Former Mass. Speaker 'Neill."

Now off to yell FORE.

Capcha: otoryl lesgua. Prehistoric flying gecko.

Ginger 3:21 PM  

Is it possible to 'almost' finish? Of course not. Insisting on pass kept me off, as did entering the Ford model in 34-D instead of 33....and since I had the wrong Ford, ranchero, in the wrong spot, the SW took way longer than it should have. I feel pretty good that I was able to sort out the whole sordid mess, and on paper yet!

Shout out to OFL at 36-A

@stephen - Demure with the 'e' has a different meaning that DEMUR, interesting contrast.

Good Saturday workout, even though DNF, good deal Mr Diehl, Thanks

captcha itytec yadrti = ya dirty? rat?

DMGrandma 3:24 PM  

Seems I was ona different planet from most solvers. Everything flowed except the SW. Have never heard of the game SPADES, knew MRMOTO was wrong, but couldn't correct it, remembered FASCES only after I saw the answer here, and am embarrassed that I missed THEODOREREX after so enjoying the Morris interview, but I didn't recall COX, which would have helped.. I guess some days are just like this!
How does @Dirigonzo move from way out here in Syndiland back (forward) to the future? Must have a wormhole!
Now for the anti-robot words! Have paged through several variations looking for one I think I might be able to read! Will give it one try. See you, or not!

Lola505 4:16 PM  

Easy - Medium? Not for me! I thought this was HARD -- not many write-overs, but still there was lots of stuff I've never heard of: Theodore Rex, Cox, Fasces (WHAT?), Ugarte, Alicarte, but I did love Aunt Clara on "Bewitched", so that sweetened up the whole experience. Took me a long time to finish, what with interruptions for laundry loads, but I made it through. Whew!

Spacecraft 4:37 PM  

I have one gripe, and it's a biggie: To compare SPADES to bridge is like comparing the AEROSTAR to the Lincoln Navigator. How DARE you, Mark? Cousin of bridge, indeed. Not even a friend of a friend of a casual acquaintance.

The puzzle itself required--for me--much thought. It all came in, but none of it easily. Many places I threw something in there (well, it COULD be that--or a dozen other things) and it worked out all right. Cluing was Saturday level, no question.

A nit to pick was ICERINKS. Isn't that redundant? What's a rink not made of ice? Jett? No, wait; even HE was made of ice.

Got my Marions mixed up and tried craNE--till I remembered:: no, that's Norman Bates' shower victim.

Dirigonzo 6:31 PM  

I'm taking a break from the prime-time puzzle (which is currently kicking my FASCES) to see how my syndi compatriots fared today.

@Spacecraft, I seem to recall many years ago we used to head out to the rollerRINK on Saturday night to do some roller skating, so I give it a pass on that basis, although I think they call them rollerdromes now (if anybody still goes).

@DMGrandma - I'll thank you never to speak of my wormhole again!

See you tomorrow in syndi time.

Solving in Seattle 8:27 PM  

@Diri, welcome back from... ahem, nevermind. I remember roller rinks. Me thinks @Spacecraft may be too young.

Great day on the course today - 70 degrees, no wind, and I took $10 off my business partner. Another day in paradise.

Capcha: noregit demicati. Latin for "spit in the senator's soup."

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

So I came here nearly 6 years later to say that I liked this puzzle, but the biggest flaw is this: the singular of PHALANGES is not PHALANGE but rather PHALANX. I only learn this relatively recently when I fractured one of mine.

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