Violent sandstorm / SAT 5-25-13 / German granny / Cylindrical menu item / Epsom's setting / Dynasty founded by Yu Great / Jezebel's lack / Old TV show hosted by Ed McMahon / Product named for its round clock protection

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: HABOOB (11D: Violent sandstorm) —
haboob (Arabicهَبوب‎ "blasting/drafting") is a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current. Haboobs occur regularly in arid regions throughout the world.
They have been observed in the Sahara desert (typically Sudan, where they were named and described), as well as across the Arabian Peninsula, throughoutKuwait, and in the most arid regions of Iraq.[1] African haboobs result from the northward summer shift of the inter-tropical front into North Africa, bringing moisture from the Gulf of Guinea. Haboob winds in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Kuwait, and North America are frequently created by the collapse of athunderstorm, while haboobs in Australia may be frequently associated with cold fronts. The deserts of Central Australia, especially near Alice Springs, are particularly prone to haboobs, with sand and debris reaching several kilometers into the sky and leaving up to a foot of sand in the haboob's path. (wikipedia)
• • •

Yesterday we got THE SAHARA DESERT, and today, the inevitable HABOOB. Fitting that my one moment of real struggle in this puzzle happened in the middle (literally, in the middle) of a blinding HABOOB. HABOOB HABOOB HABOOB. OK, I think I got that out of my system. My issue with HABOOB was the first "B"—a letter that felt like a guess, since I couldn't (can't) see how [Blacks out] gets you BANS. They seem only vaguely metaphorically related. But aside from that moment of awkwardness, the rest of the puzzle seemed both solid and delightful. Thorny, but in a way that allowed for consistent progress. Got a little worried in that SE corner, since I was not able to drop *any* answers down into it at first. Guessed RBIS, which allowed me to finally see that the EGG was in ROLL form (42D: Cylindrical menu item). I was imagining cylindrical omelets. Also, EGG creams. Got back ends of all the long Acrosses down there, and then PATSY CLINE slid into place and I had a clear path home from there (63A: "So Wrong" singer, 1962).

I find the whole self-referential thing (which constructors pull from time to time) a bit off-putting, and today is no exception, though I have to say, putting your *entire* name in the grid, all fourteen letters of it, is admirably ballsy, in a way (26A: Stand-up comic known for irreverent sermonettes = DAVID STEINBERG). Is Jeter really called "Mr. November"? (8D: Longtime teammate of Mr. November = A-ROD) Ugh. Stupid name. There's one Mr. [Month], and that's Reggie Jackson. Why would you want to be some kind of ersatz Reggie? I saw Reggie Jackson at a restaurant in Monterey last year. I probably told you. That was thrilling. Seeing Jeter ... wouldn't be. But I'm middle-aged, so this makes sense.

Took me what felt like ForEver to see PHRASE at 44D: What outer space is that cyberspace isn't? It's a great clue, but my first answer was [drum roll] — THREE D! Best wrong answer I've had in a while.  Somehow the tune of "all in my brain" sprang up in my brain instantly, but it kept looping and not getting me to the words I needed (i.e. "PURPLE HAZE") (1A: What's "all in my brain," in a 1967 rock classic). What kept coming up instead? JUNGLE LOVE. Which is driving me mad, making me crazy, and fitting in the allotted space, but is not, sadly, all in my brain. Other screw-ups: SCAR for SLIT (40A: Operation creation). CRT for LCD (5D: Monitor option, briefly). OPA (?) for OMA (58D: German granny). I think that's it.

  • 11A: Dynasty founded by Yu the Great (HSIA) — really glad I'd heard of this dynasty; otherwise, that HABOOB would've been way more destructive. 
  • 21A: Preakness, e.g. (HORSE) — I knew it was a HORSE *race* ... but not a HORSE. Really, really didn't trust that answer, even when all the letters fell right into place. 
  • 1D: Labor leader's cry? ("PUSH!") — nicely done. Probably my favorite clue of the day. 
  • 12D: Old TV show hosted by Ed McMahon ("STAR SEARCH") — ouch. Do *not* like it when staples of my youth are called "old," but I supposed I'd better just get used to it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:03 AM  

Dang ! Deja vu.  Very easy puzzle with one tricky corner.  This time NE and this time I (educated) guessed right.  HABOOB/CHAOS/HSIA could reside in Natick.  The rest was no problem.  Saw that PUSH worked for 1d, put in PURPLE HAZE off the P and just kept going (except for NE).   Did it help that the answer to 26a was at the top of the page?  Not me.  I remembered his routine and only noticed the connection post solve.  Is putting your name in the puzzle a theme?

A qualified liked it.   A bit of zip with Prince and PATSY CLINE and HABOOB is an excellent word, but still too easy for a Sat.

okanaganer 12:13 AM  

A couple of clues I really liked today. "No-strings declaration" for I'M A REAL BOY! was cute.

"Circular stack" for FLIERS baffled me; I really had to think to get it even after it filled itself in from crosses. And nearby is "Cylindrical menu item"...both those clues really made me want to write in PANCAKEs somewhere!

jackj 12:28 AM  
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jackj 12:31 AM  

A fun puzzle from David Steinberg, doppelganger of DAVIDSTEINBERG and trickster of note who gives us one of the more vexing clues and answers in memory as he asks for “Preakness, e.g.” that arguably, as a Saturday stretch could be PURSE but the only answer that fits is HORSE and, just as the solver decides to let David and Will have it with both barrels blazing, past challenge experiences whisper, “Check it out first” and lo and behold, a HORSE named Preakness won the first stakes race held at the then new Pimlico Race Track in 1870 and as a bonus, a new Stakes race, The Preakness, was launched in his honor and so the clue stays and of course, as a Daily Double with HABOOB, one might argue it’s a natural that should have been obvious, anyway.

(Phew, time to come up for air).

If one wants to understand what Will Shortz has done to make crossword puzzles such contemporary delights, look no further than today’s One down.

A check on the Shortz clues show most refer to things like David’s “Labor leader’s cry?” and provide us with remembrances of Lamaze trainers teaching shell shocked husbands to cry PUSH, while in the pre-Shortz, (Maleska), era all the clues are straightforward “Door sign” or "Shove" types.

Vive la différence!

Finally, in a PENSIVE peek back at the puzzle, looking at SHAME, LIED and IMAREALBOY, with just a couple more clues and answers David could have given us a surefire Cliff Notes version of the Pinocchio classic.

No matter, a terrific puzzle from the junior David Steinberg, (though clearly not the lesser DAVIDSTEINBERG).

JFC 1:01 AM  

Enjoyed your comment, Rex....


Brian B 2:12 AM  

Got PUSH right away, but PURPLE RAIN eluded me till late; my mind kept bouncing between "I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain" (Beatles) and "The lunatics are in my head" (Pink Floyd). Needed the Z in ZEN to pull it out.

jae 2:32 AM  

Did I say Prince? I meant Jimi. Confused my PURPLES.

Benko 2:38 AM  

Liked the puzzle except the vain and obscure DAVIDSTEINBERG taking up so much space. Ugh. Ruins it for me.
Opa is German for Grandpa, Rex. They both are the same in Dutch, which is my second language.
PURPLE HAZE was great and a gimme for me. Love Jimi.

chefwen 2:54 AM  

I tried to leave a comment using my newly acquired I Pad (I'm not allowed too many toys) got the whole thing done, did something stupid and erased all my efforts. I guess that's why a have few toys. Ah well, back to the Big Boy Computer.

Thought the puzzle was super easy for a Saturday. Got a little hung up in the LIED/DINER/ANGLO area. Had EEL in and out a couple of times, Hi Ellen S., tried to figure out how I could squish Attila the Hun in at 27D, wasn't happening, slip OUT OF SIGHT at 43A. Finally unraveled that area. RAged at 29D I thought was a perfect fit. NOT!

Loved I'M A REAL BOY and DINER for building with many sides. Geodesic domes kept popping into my head.

Not sure I am going to like the PURPLE HAZE running through my head for the next couple of days.
Ah well!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to all.

Anonymous 2:58 AM  

"... the vain and obscure DAVIDSTEINBERG taking up so much space"

Love him or hate him, the comedian was pretty famous back then: enough to have his own network TV show.

Davis 4:32 AM  

Easy peasy. The H in HABOOB was the last letter I filled in, but (a) I had already narrowed down ?SIA to either tSIA or hSIA, and (b) there was something vaguely familiar about HABOOB.

Normally I like my Saturdays to put up a fight, but this one feels like an apology for last week. And regardless, this was a fun puzzle—lots of nice "Aha!" moments for me as the entries came together. Thanks David!

Danp 7:54 AM  

Not sure I like the clue for Anglo-Saxon. My recollection is that England was invaded by Saxons and Angles. They didn't become one until well after the invasion.

Paul Keller 7:59 AM  

I found this one challenging, with lots to puzzle over. Had to check for wrong answers before I could finish. Cluing HORSE with "Preakness, e.g.?" struck me as brutal, but it makes sense that the well known race was named after a once well known horse. I'm calling it fair game. Liked the puzzle enough to dig up David Steinberg's other puzzles through XWord Info.

Joe The Juggler 8:17 AM  

Run batted ins?

That must be like my two brother-in-laws who like to drive 100 MPHs.

Z 8:18 AM  

Excuse me while I kiss the sky....

Ballsy is spot on. I noticed the shout out to OFL as well. STEINBERG was frequently on The Tonight Show back before DAVID was born.

Loved the DINER clue and the general well-roundedness of the puzzle overall.

HABOOB was in the news recently, somewhere in the America. SW. I am off to look for a pic.

Z 8:20 AM  

HABOOB over Phoenix

Michael Hanko 8:25 AM  

"Roll" in the clue for EEL made me doubt for a while that EGGROLL could be correct, especially as they both refer to menu items in Asian restaurants. (Theme?)

Which reminds me that I tried ASIA for the dynasty in the NE until I just couldn't rationalize AABOOB even to myself. (Besides, that looks more like a bra size.)

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

A-Rod is Mr. November, so Jeter would be HIS teammate. Thanks for the posts with your solutions

Sir Hillary 8:27 AM  

The first time I ever saw a puzzle by this constructor, I thought of the comedian and wondered if he would ever use his own name in a puzzle. Bravo!

A very clean, tough-but-not-too-tough gem today. Some fabulous clues at 1D, 21A and especially 61A.

The Preakness and Epsom references got horse racing spinning through my mind. While racehorses can be named just about anything, for some reason I love the idea of UNDECLARED, HABOOB and IMAREALBOY storming down the stretch at Pimlico.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Wouldn't something banned be blacked out? Still the B was also my last letter

joho 8:47 AM  

The only thing I remember about DAVIDSTEINBERG is a hilarious bit where he played a psychiatrist in a white coat who brushed an imaginary something off his shoulder shouting, "Get off!"

Loved the juxtaposition of Jimi's PURPLEHAZE starting the puzzle with PATSYCLINE taking us out.

HABOOB is silly and fun.

I thought this was very easy for a Saturday but am happy about that as I'll start my day's duties quicker than ususal.

Thanks, DAVIDSTEINBERG! (You egomaniac, you!)

Carola 8:49 AM  

Lots of fun, great clues. In the small moments of triumph category: remembering HABOOB from a previous puzzle and getting PHRASE after being faked out by the broccoli bits. Small moment of despair: not understanding I'M A REAL BOY! - thanks, @Jackj, for explaining.

Like @chefwen, I wanted Attila. It even crossed nicely with the incorrect ahi. That was when my DINER was a Dacha.

Yesterday a THESIS STATEMENT, today an UNDECLARED major. HANDED IN also reminds me of my days in the classroom.

Loren Muse Smith 9:13 AM  

All of you who thought this was easy – I take my hat off to you! A really hard dnf for me. I did get far enough to fill in DAVID STEINBERG, which pleased me enormously. Sorry, @Benko – I had the completely opposite reaction to that!

The northeast got me. Because of last June 29, “derecho” is firmly in my dialect, but not HABOOB. So a big Natick at that HSIA cross. “Turned” IN for HANDED IN and not knowing HORSE just did me IN.

@chefwen and @ Carola – yeah – I kept revisiting “Attila” there and just couldn’t make it fit. And @Carola – I, too, was happy when I got CEES and PHRASE!

@Gareth – I watched Bonanza as a child (I had a wicked crush on Pernell Roberts) and never realized that HOSS was a form of HORSE, but I think you’re right! The best man in my brother’s-in-law (morning, @Joe the Juggler) wedding had the nickname HOSSfly.

@Joe the Juggler – you really would prefer RsBI? I’ll have to chew on that one.

DAVID – I don’t think I’ve ever finished one of your themelesses, but I’m getting better. Thanks for the workout. Excellent puzzle, especially those 10 stacks: SHARP, SHARP, SHARP!

Horace S. Patoot 9:21 AM  

I think the clue for HEXA (Decimal starter) should at least have a question mark, since decimal and hexadecimal are quite different things. To me, it's like:

Sine starter. CO
Six ender. TEEN

Fun puzzle, though the SW slew me with MOLT for SHED, the clueless SHARP/ING combination, the desire to fit ATTILA in there somehow as a fifth century, and the aforementioned complaint.

CBCD 9:49 AM  

Derek Jeter was called Mr. November because he was the first player to hit a World Series home run in the month of November. This happened when baseball games were delayed after 9/11.

It was kind of a joke, and the nickname never stuck.

But Yankee fans know who Mr November is, don't we?

barbara 9:56 AM  

YES! CBCD, Yankee fans know who Mr. November is, even if we haven't seen much of him lately.

chefbea 10:09 AM  

tough one for me. DNF

Is it really memorial Day weekend??? Was in the 40's this morning. At least I have my red, white and blue sweater to wear.

dk 10:39 AM  

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) And IM still AREALBOY.

Back from Texas and OK. Bit of a busman's holiday. Love driving through Kansas and Missouri as it was the old west.

Another LACOSTE lob with a GRAF return. Sports, humorists and rock and roll this puzzle has it all.

The afore noted HORSE, HABOOB and BANS had me going but the rest made me feel Saturday-smart.

High of 62 here in the Shire. @chefbea I am unpacking the down coats.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:52 AM  

I hope this puzzle puts to rest any complaints about the occasional appearance of an ACME or REX in puzzles. ;>)

All in all, a fine Saturday offering. Especially when I had been planning for months to make my first trip to the beach today, but woke up to 45° temperatures, rain, and wind!

jberg 10:55 AM  

Really tough for me, I'm surprised I finished. Much of the trouble is that I had IT'S A deal before DONE, and misremembered teh HSIA Dynasty as SH'IA, which is not a dynasty at all. And I wanted COST saving as a result. I really don't know how it all got sorted out -- I guess it was finally giving up on Attila (he was too late, anyway) and Alaric, putting in EEL just on general principles, and therby seeing ANGLO-SAXON. I don't care if it's wrong, it at least let me solve the puzzle.

Thanks to @jackj for clarifying PREAKNESS.

Oh yes, also ashe before GRAF, and navE before APSE (thinking Yu might have been the first CHIN).

So for me, it was a big challenge -- kudos to those who found it easy!

LR 11:03 AM  

Lots of you would be screaming about broccoli bits and CEES, and HSIA/HABOOB, were David Steinberg not one of the golden-boy constructors who can do no wrong here. Grump!

Oscar the Grouch

JC66 11:06 AM  
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Golfballman 11:07 AM  

WTF Yu the great founded the Xia dynasty!! Someone please explain Einsteins death tod.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:09 AM  

@Golfballman - In German, "death" translates as "Tod."

Sandy K 11:22 AM  

OUT OF SIGHT puzzle today!
Clever clues for I'M A REAL BOY, PUSH, DINER, STYE, etc.

@chef wen @Carola @LMS- tried to maneuver in Attila. And @LMS- definitely wanted Adam not HOSS!

Trouble spot- HABOOB/BANS crossing, almost put in tANS...but HAtOOB sounded worse than HABOOB. So lucky guess...

Tho I wish EEL would DROP OUT OF SIGHT, I liked that DAVID STEINBERG made his POWER POINT- Well DONE!

Despite the EEL

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

That Mr. October, Mr. November nonsense always reminds me of when Steinbrenner started calling Dave Winfield Mr. May.

Ellen S 11:29 AM  

See, now, @jberg, if you'd read Pillars Of The Earth (thank you @Gill I.P.), you'd know that cathedrals are built in the shape of a cross (everybody knows that, though, right?) and the long part of the "upright", starting at the main entrance and facing toward the altar, is the nave, while an APSE is a dome built out of the chancel; the chancel being the short part of the upright. The two "arms" are the transepts. Where they cross is the crossing. Sometimes there is a kind of lobby when you come in the main door, before you enter the nave -- that's a narthex. And that's all the cathedral architecture you're likely to encounter in a puzzle.

APSE was also just about the only answer I got without cheating. I filled that in, and BIB, and then a few that were wrong (RAged, Attila, etc.), and then nothin'. I turned to Mr. Google, but this puzzle was so cleverly clued that Google didn't really help much. Gave me the EEL, which by the way didn't offend me at all -- Caterpillar Roll requires you to know something, unlike "little wriggler", or "what's caught in eel-pots" or "who is buried in Grant's Tomb".

Still staring at a lot of empties, I just looked up some (okay, lots of) answers on Rex's post and limped on home. Got DAVID STEINBERG after a few letters filled in from my cheats. Steinberg the Elder and I were at The University of Chicago at the same time, friends in common, saw him at Second City a few times, but the only thing that came to mind was the Noah routine which was of course Bill Cosby.

Very clever puzzle. I enjoyed reading the answers even when I couldn't get them myself. Loved "IM A REAL BOY" (which I got "all by myself" after Googling PATSY CLINE and SURREY).

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Hey, could we please STOP giving Will Shortz credit for clever cluing and clever theming? Just because Will encourages such things does not mean he's the author. Puzzlemakers have been writing wonderfully clever clues since the 1970s and THEY should get the credit. Maleska was a reactionary out of step with the times, so even a Tea Party conservative would have been a step up. Only an idiot would have changed the PUSH clue. David wrote that and Will did what any normal, intelligent person would do - he didn't lift a finger to stop it. But let's stop equating "not lifting a finger" to writing great clues and give credit where credit is due - to the constructor, David Steinberg.

CG 11:50 AM  

I don't understand the SHARP/ING correlation

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

@CG: in music, the key of G Major has one sharp (F sharp), so a piece that is written IN G has one SHARP.

Amelia 12:42 PM  

Yes, it was 2001, when the post-season was delayed for obvious reasons and it went into November. But the game itself was unbelievably exciting. Yankees Diamondbacks World Series game #4, 10th inning. Jeter hit an opposite field walk-off home run on a 3-2 count, and some clever fan held up a sign that said Mr. November, which made it Yankee magic. Yes, Jeter was the first player ever to hit a homerun in November. But it was the game that made it special. Michael Kay (and the scoreboard) announced at midnight: Welcome to November baseball. I remember it like it was yesterday. The rest of the series I forget. :-)

mac 12:57 PM  

I liked this Saturday, medium for me, athough the SW and the NE gave me a lot of trouble. Pieced it all together.

Attila resisted being erased for a long time.

Gutsy to put your whole name in a puzzle you construct!

Miserable weather in CT, I feel sad for all those summer guests moving into their expensive rentals this weekend.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:07 PM  

[Off-topic from the puzzle, just a bit: Just listened to another episode of NPR's "Ask Me Another". New? Re-run? Who can tell?

[Two of the contestants were a young fellow named David Steinberg (author of today's puzzle? Don't know.) and a Mike Nothnagel who sounded a lot like the puzzle constructor Mike. And one of the credits for puzzle-writing for the show was David Levinson Wilk, whom you will remember from yesterday.

[Clearly a show that should be on the radar of crossword people!]

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

@Anon 11:35 - Nice rant. It prompted me to try to figure out what caused it. The nearest I could come up with was JackJ's comment re Shortz' clues vs Maleska clues. The fact that JackJ pretty clearly meant Shortz era vs Maleska era takes some of the imperative of your rant away.

North Beach 1:34 PM  

Yesterday's ROSIE was catapulted to fame after her appearance on today's STARSEARCH.

mUSH before PUSH!

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Enjoyable puzzle, really liked the writeup.

My only peeve: "blacks out" is a horrible clue for "bans." Other clues were awesome, like "labor leader's cry."

Had to guess on Hsia and Haboob, but got it. I'd never seen either word in a puzzle to my recollection (though HABOOB had a ring to tit) and I've been doing the puzzle every day for a long time. I must have missed some along the line if these are known X-words.

Milford 2:17 PM  

Fastest Saturday to date for me, must have just hit the right wavelength. Basically the opposite experience as last Saturday.

Not to be lazy, but I had the same (albeit slower) solving experience as @Rex - that HABOOB area was a bit of a snarl. But unlike Rex, I thoroughly enjoyed DAVID's name emblazoned across the middle. Heck, I would do it if I could.

Loved the great clues that have been mentioned, plus the one for LUNG.

syndy 2:49 PM  

Hand up for Adam and Attila and Patty Paige!And Naticking out at HABOOB/BAN but at least I knew that Ol'PREAKNESS was a horse (of course)anyway if Anglo Saxon was good enough for the Venerable BEDE and Alfred the great it's good enough for me.

Thoracic 2:50 PM  

Shout out to me!! Lung ( thoracic- it's what I do)

Unknown 2:58 PM  

This was tough for me, but after this week's puzzles I was ready for a nice challenge. I knew HABOOB, but needed crosses for HSIA. Loved a lot of the clues (for DINER, IM A REAL BOY, EGGROLL). I forget who said it but the bookends of PURPLE HAZE and PATSY CLINE were nice. I always think of the comedien when this author comes up, but seeing his own name in the puzzle took a little away for me. I like when there are fun little hints here and there (I vaguely but fondly remember some BEQs, or something like that), but the whole name just didnt do it for me.

Unknown 2:58 PM  

Why is CEES the answer to BROCCOLI BITS
I'm not sure what the connection is!

Anoa Bob 3:04 PM  

I once got my name in a puzz, but only by way of a clue. For the entry AVERY, I used "New York City's ___ Fisher Hall". But David got in his whole name, and in the grid? And it's totally legit!? Wow! I'm totally impressed.

Anon@11:35: How to decide whether to praise or to blame the constructor or the editor for a clue has been clearly and succinctly explained by yesterday's guest blogger, Tyler Hinman. To paraphrase: If I'm the constructor and you like a clue, give me credit; if you don't like a clue, blame the editor.

retired_chemist 3:07 PM  

Some really great clues but some not to like. Likes: 1D, 41A, 48A, 61A, 34A/49A, 20A, and more. Ouchies: 18A (still don't see it), 21A (OK, I leaned something but who knew?), 24 A (ditto), 8D (you gotta be a long-time Yankees fan to know that).

Finished* but slowly, partly due to the NE. Suzanne LENGLEN instead of Rene LACOSTE @ 35A was another speed bump, especially when NOTE seemed to fit 37D (although nothing else did).

Unwillingness to believe DAVID STEINBERG as an answer in a D.S. puzzle - another speed bump.

*Finished with one error: Remembered TOT (dead) instead of TOD (death) @ 20A. Didn't catch it until an letter check. That made 8D A-ROT, which as a more or less Ranger fan I rather liked.

Bad joke alert: 32A seems like a Tuesday clue.

From Discordian wiki: "Chaos is the father of Eris, and some say the source of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Those who claim that 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything are heretics and thus 'pretty cool dudes,' according to Chaos."

Thanks, Mr. Steinberg. Quite a challenge here but there were enough bright spots and learning experiences to make it all worhtwhile.

Anoa Bob 3:08 PM  
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Lewis 3:09 PM  

Woo HOO! Rex called it delightful and that fits it perfectly for me. Had a sparkle that still has me smiling. The cluing had wit. Loved the clues for PUSH and PHRASE especially. Had a callout, yes, to David, but also to Michael (SHARP). The stacked 10s up and down were solid. Bravo, sir!

chefbea 3:12 PM  

@sally wood..there are 2 c's in the word broccoli.

Anoa Bob 3:13 PM  

@2:58, think ELS as the answer to "Sally bits".

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Don't care much for artists/performers/creative types who toot their own horns, or feel a need to explain in fine detail just how great/original/"irreverent" they are. Bob Dylan, Pablo Picasso, Jimi Hendrix- they were all originals. They didn't need to explain to us how they broke the rules and created masterpieces. They didn't need to tell us how "irreverent" they were. Their works spoke (or, in Dylan's case, speak since he's still with us and just had his 72nd birthday) for themselves. "Irreverent" how? With the collapse of most institutions, including organized religion, what exactly is Steinberg "irreverent" about? Somebody tell him it's not 1962, and making fun of bourgeois middle class Americans and traditional religion ain't news, it's over. I'm not into self-reference in c/w puzzles either. There is more than enough narcissism, or perhaps I should say overweening self-regard, on parade already in popular culture on a daily basis.

Questinia 3:24 PM  

I only knew the Xia dynasty as that. I vaguely knew a word for sandstorm but my brain kept burping "burnoose". Had to go through the alphabet and cross my fingers after my final fill in that my iPad would say "hooray".

GG 3:34 PM  

Rex: reference your comment "Do *not* like it when staples of my youth are called "old,"..." As a child of the 60s and one who doesn't know any rapper names, all I can say is .... you *better* get used to it!

David Steinberg 4:19 PM  

Thanks for the write-up, Rex, and for all the comments, everyone. I built this puzzle when I was 14, and many of the clues—including the awesome "No-strings declaration?" for I'M A REAL BOY and "Labor leader's cry?" for PUSH—were written by Will. I thought he did a particularly outstanding job editing the clues for this puzzle.

Unknown 4:57 PM  

Very easy Sat. on my scale. Quality fill all around-minimal junk. Very nice.

Interesting that Rex never actually says whether he liked the puzzle or not.

I liked the moxie of DS putting his entire name in the grid. As long as it's a legitimate answer (and it is), what's the problem? I think there's a little bit of "look at me" in every entertainer whether they're an actor, singer, writer, or crossword constructor. Sam Donaldson must be next?

Tita 5:52 PM  

DNF - tArS for BANS, and not a clue for HABOOB (i'll remember it now!).

Liked IDEE crossing PENSIVE.

Thanks for stopping in, Mr. Steinberg. I see nothing wrong with getting yer name in. Like @joho, he who was clued - and that bit - is who I always think of when I see you as the constructor, so it was fun to see the comedian referenced.

michael 5:53 PM  

It rarely happens that a commentator's reaction to a puzzle is identical to mine. Milford 2:17 and I are on the same wavelength today.

sanfranman59 6:01 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 7:18, 6:14, 1.17, 96%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 179 Mondays)
Tue 9:09, 8:09, 1.12, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:47, 10:00, 0.88, 24%, Easy-Medium
Thu 13:26, 16:53, 0.80, 15%, Easy
Fri 16:05, 21:35, 0.75, 12%, Easy
Sat 23:58, 25:19, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:21, 3:46, 1.16, 94%, Challenging
Tue 5:23, 4:49, 1.12, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:10, 5:45, 0.90, 25%, Easy-Medium
Thu 7:58, 9:49, 0.81, 15%, Easy
Fri 9:50, 12:19, 0.80, 18%, Easy
Sat 14:48, 15:08, 0.98, 45%, Medium

Questinia 6:39 PM  

Can someone please relieve my blind spot and explain "No-strings declaration?" and "I'M A REAL BOY"?

LaneB 6:45 PM  

Also amazed and admiring that many agreed with the "easy-medium"designation. Not me. Even with plenty of Googling I could not finish the SW corner where HEXA, SHARP [what does that have to do with 'having one'?] and PHRASE [ a clever clue, indeed, but tough on us novices.] Also found CEES a bit too subtle and had to stare at the d24 clue before picking up the 2 Cs. Glad to get as far as I did.

Tita 7:04 PM  

@Questinia - Pinnochio, a puppet who wanted to be AREALBOY, lost his strings when his wish was granted.

Dirigonzo 7:11 PM  

I laughed at the clue for 1d and put in PUSH without a second thought - that gave me the whole NW corner and I said, "This is going to be fun!" WPP joined me to complete the grid and we had several laugh-out-loud moments as we worked through the grid. It's hard to believe that a 14 year-old constructed a puzzle that goes from PURPLEHAZE to PATSYCLINE, but we loved it, despite ending with one blank square (OBS?): the _SIA/_ABOOB cross did us in. Still enjoyed it despite the DNF.

@Questinia - if nobody has answered your question by now, think "Pinnochio" and you'll see the connection.

Questinia 7:38 PM  



Tita 7:58 PM  

3rd and out...

Letting y'all know that I've finally updated the Hall of Fame...
@Ret_Chem - I'm looking at you!

@OFL makes it in there today too with his THREED.

BTW - it is by no means a Hall of Shame - it takes real creativity to come up with these answers!

Were there any others I've missed recently?

@Gill - I can't find your drawing...where did it go?

chefbea 8:38 PM  

So David Steinberg constructed this puzzle when he was 14!!! How old is he now??

Pete 12:13 AM  

I know Evil Doug said he was going to take a hiatus from commenting, but I fear he died. Or maybe is in a hopeless coma. If any puzzle could have caused him to break a voluntary hiatus with a screed (legitimate this time) against constructor narcissism it was this.

I wish his family well.

Anonymous 7:01 AM  

I'm still not getting "Einstein's death," I was even trying to reverence Doc Brown's dog in "Back To The Future" and I still got nuttin'. Nor have I "sharp" and "ing."
But who am I really .... ?

Werner Heisenberg 7:14 AM  

@Auntie_Lukers - You do read English, do you not? Others have already noted that Herr Einstein spoke German, and the German word for death is TOD, and that in musical terms a piece "in G" is SHARP.

Ja, who are you indeed?

pdplot 9:07 AM  

I'm almost 80 years old. I needed my daughter to help me with this one. Never heard of purple haze. What do I know about pop culture?


spacecraft 12:52 PM  

Well, what do you know. A Saturday NYT puzzle with a ten-letter GIMME at 1a! I thought, this is gonna be a good day, and polished off the NW lickety-split.

The rest of it? Not so much. Scar instead of SLIT cost me a lot of time; I had to finaly get WELD and hit on the awkward TWOTO (Dorothy's dog's twin?) to get that mess straightened out.

More troubles in the SW: I had ____OUTOFSIGHT but for some reason didn't think of DROP. I tried Dart--and that led me to Mr. SHARP's THREED. I, too, was smug at having "gotten" that one, heh heh. While some say they liked "Building with many sides" as a clue for DINER, I found it rather mean-spirited. I have trouble thinking of a place that looks like a converted trailer as a "building." Buildings are...well, NOT diners. I actually almost DNF, this area gave me so much trouble. Couldn't think what a D--d deal was. Dead deal? Deed deal? Should be DONE. Then we'd have THREEE---ah, but "outer space" and "cyberspace" both contain only two. Tweaking the corner left me with "tHRASE," and at last the bulb came on, I changed Dart to DROP, and finished.

DINER. Side DISHES. Yeesh. So, our wunderkind has some fun with his namesake. Cheeky? Hey, youth is all about cheek. Get to my age, we're talkin' jowl. So use that cheek while you got it, kid. Way to go.

DMGrandma 2:12 PM  

NE corner got me, although I now remember hearing of a HABOOB somewhere in the US this winter, it sure didn't come to mind. Add little knowledge of Chinese dynasties, and the unheard of, by me, ION beam, and a four square DNF this time. Otherwise enjoyed the challenge of this puzzle, even if I did have to dredge-up some out of my era music lore. As someone noted, the older you get, the more the "modern" stuff become ????

@Chefwen: I love my IPad, but it has it's idiosyncrasies. One of them is losing your comment. So, once you've written one, Copy and Save before doing ANYTHING else! Then, if it disappears, and it well may, all you need to do is Paste it back. To copy, press your finger above the comment square until a bubble appears, and follow the directions therein. Hope this helps. I have an "ancient" original iPad, so maybe some things have changed.

rain forest 3:38 PM  

I loved this puzzle and not just because I was able to correctly complete it. The original David Steinberg (and he was original), is a Canadian and very funny.

PURPLEHAZE off the Z of ZEN, ANGLOSAXON off the NG, all helped a bunch. The NE was the trickiest for me, and I came to think that BANS for blacks out refers to TV shows, or football games that are not telecast, hence banned. A reach, but not bad. Never heard of HABOOB, and was very unsure, but I didn't think any of the crosses could be changed. Tada!

Waxy in Montreal 9:52 PM  

As per many others, the HSIA/(HA)BOOB intersection made me feel like one, forcing me somewhat reluctantly to use Google to finish up this superb puzzle.

Fought hard to avoid entering HORSE at 21A (had STAKE) and was quite surprised to learn the PREAKNESS is actually named after its first winner. (By the same measure, Wiki informs me the Kentucky Derby could be renamed "Aristides" and the Belmont Stakes "Ruthless".) Had TENDERED before HANDEDIN which helped keep my pace along this track at a trot, certainly not a gallop.

One minor quibble - I'd describe POWERPOINT as an Office program rather than a feature.

UNDECLARED major chutzpah from our young constructor managing to include his doppelganger's full name in the puzzle. SHAME he didn't include a MICHAEL to accompany the SHARP as a similar shoutout to our Rex.

If this puzzle is truly the creation of a 14-year old, then there's certainly more than a glimmer of hope for humankind. Wow!

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