Susan's family on Seinfeld / SAT 9-21-13 / Oo la la jeans informally / Areas next to bull's eyes / Spotted hybrid house pet / They adhere to brains / 1980s Olympic star with autobiography Breaking Surface / Preceder of John Sebastian at Woodstock

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ALENÇON (43A: Delicate needlepoint lace) —
Alençon lace or point d'Alençon is a needle lace that originated in AlençonFrance. It is sometimes called the "Queen of lace." Lace making began in Alençon during the 16th century and the local industry was rapidly expanded during the reign of Louis XIV by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who established a Royal Workshop in the town to produce lace in the Venetian style in 1665. The purpose of establishing this workshop was to reduce the French court's dependence on expensive foreign imports. The local lacemakers soon modified the Venetian technique and Alençon emerged as a unique style around 1675. // Though the demand for lace went into sharp decline following the French Revolution, it recovered some of its popularity during the Second French Empire before entering terminal decline at the end of the 19th century with changes in fashion and the development of cheaper, machine-made lace. // Lace making survived on a small scale and the technique was preserved by Carmelite nuns in Alençon. In 1976 a National Lace Workshop was established in the town to ensure that this lace-making technique survives. There is a permanent exhibition of lace and a display showing how it is made in the Musée des Beaux Arts et de la Dentelle, located in the town centre and adjoining the Workshop. The workshops themselves are open to the public only on certain days of the year. // UNESCO recognised the unusual craftsmanship of this lace and added it to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2010. (wikipedia)
• • •

Unless your name is Patrick Berry, 58 words is probably out of your depth. There is not a lot here to like (well, maybe to like, but not to love). Always impressive when anyone can fill a grid like this with legit material, but the material here is mostly dull and weird and often awkward. Lots of "Wheel of Fortune" letters (RLSTNE). There's nothing terrible (except perhaps RESEE and SONDE), but nothing particularly memorable or dazzling, either. I was headed toward a very normal time when I hit the last two squares, --ENÇON. Figured 37D: Shop keeper? was CLAMP (that's a Horribly forced clue, btw), and I wanted an "L" to make ALENÇON, but that left me with ROOLER, which made no sense. Only after I checked all the letters in ROOLER did I realize ROUGH ROAD could be TOUGH ROAD, and then TOOLER (not a winning answer, btw) fell into place, and Mr. Happy Pencil was achieved. Particularly galling to have to struggle with junky stuff like a foreign-named lace and whatever TOOLER is. Liked LOUGANIS (30D: 1980s Olympic star with the autobiography "Breaking the Surface") and SOLO HOMER (38A: Round trip for one?). The rest was OK at times, but mostly a chore to get through.


Forgot PIA MATERS was a thing (not sure I've ever seen it in the plural—see also AMNESTIES). Had KNEE and wanted BRACE. Totally guessed INNERS and was startled to find it right. Not pretty.  I guess 39D: ___ Lucy" (old sitcom) is supposed to make you want "I LOVE," but if you bit on that one, you haven't been doing puzzles long. No way the puzzle would serve up that big a gimme on a Saturday. Never heard of "HERE'S Lucy," so that answer came entirely from crosses. Except the "S"—never heard of SONDE, so had to infer that "S" in "HERE'S" (not hard). Got an easy start in the NW with SASSONS (16A: "Oo la la!" jeans, informally), URBS, ADSORBS, and SPLITTERS, but then stalled trying to move out of there. Rebooted easily in the NE section with BCS (biggest gimme in the puzzle, probably—that, and ALMODOVAR). Not much else to say. How is a BENGAL CAT a hybrid? (29D: Spotted hybrid house pet) According to wikipedia, "Bengals result from crossing a domestic feline with an Asian leopard cat (ALC), Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis." So there you go. 

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Wade 12:38 AM  

Au contraire! I've been doing puzzles for about 17 years and I fell for I LOVE. Because what the hell else was it supposed to be?

Painful puzzle for me too. I had to sweat over every square. I was surprised to finish it and even more surprised by the time reading of 17:36. It felt like it took a lot longer. I finished with a wrong letter--the N in SAMISEN/SONDE was an I in my interpretation, because I don't know either of those words.

Wouldn't have known "pia maters" is two words if you hadn't told me. Good to know. I guess.

Looking at the grid now I think it looks pretty good and could have been more enjoyable with funner cluing. (I didn't get "Shop keeper" until just now.)

wreck 12:45 AM  

Wow -- had to cheat to finish this one. Not enjoyable - no sense of accomplishment. Hangs head in shame. If there is no theme -- I expect a puzzle to have witty clues. This puzzle did not have that. SE portion came together somewhat hard but solvable -- rest of grid was excruciating for me.

jae 12:55 AM  

BEQ's Monday message partly describes my experience with this one.  I was sure I wouldn't finish it, but after a very long time...

Lots of erasures but the most damaging one was SHA NA NA for SANTANA (NE was the last part I filled).   KNEE brace was a close second.

Huge WOE: PIA MATERS and plural to boot!

This was the toughest Sat. for me in quite some time.  I love (@Wade me too for 39d) a challenge, but I'd like a little zip with it.  All this delivered was fear.  So, it seems like I'm with @Rex, Wade, and wreck so far.

Anonymous 12:56 AM  

". . . junky stuff like a foreign-named lace . . ."

My mother is a lacemaker, so ALENÇON was a gimme.

Clark 1:06 AM  

Long-haired cat yesterday; spotted hybrid house pet today. The cats are having a good run. Obi, the guy in my avatar, is a Bengal. First time I've seen that in the puzzle.

There was no way I was going to get the ALENCON/NES cross, or SAMISEN/SONDE, so I don't even feel bad about NFing. And having INshORt instead of INAWORD gave me no end of trouble in the NW. But I almost enjoyed it anyway.

Questinia 1:12 AM  

This was completely in my wheelhut.
Music, anatomy, tatting and ALMODOVAR

PIA MATERS is definitely a POC <= only criticism.

Not a sublime puzzle but a lot of fun.

Unknown 2:43 AM  

I too fell for I love Lucy, and briefly thought, "old??," but quickly conceded that, and thought "ok." Typical talk-myself-into-a-wrong-answe thought processr. Sorry to hear that "BCS" (group of football games played at the beginning of Jan) was the biggest gimme, because even though I got it with crosses, I still have no idea what it means.

John Child 3:33 AM  

58 words, 48 WOEs. Yuck.

jae 3:58 AM  

@Unknown - BCS = Bowl Championship Series. Something to do with college football.

Just checked, SHA NA NA preceded Hendrix, so clearly I wasn't paying enough attention 45 years ago.

Almodovar Conga Magi 4:53 AM  

Hand up for Sha nA NA!!! So many similar letters, I couldn't finish the whole NE corner... BLAST IT!!!

Had everything from BATTALION down, but had to Google ROSSES to get the whole NW. Held on to
RagtimeS too long :(

Too hard for me!
And with BCS and SPLITTERS to sportsy. At one time I had Sea oTTERS, for all I knew of baseball slang!

acme 4:55 AM  

ps My dim recollection was that HERES LUCY was after she and Desi were SPLITTERS.
It was when she worked for Mr Mooney at the bank.

Danp 5:44 AM  

Never heard of ooh la la jeans. Google has, but doesn't find "sassons". Is this a word wolves use when they see foxes wearing them?

Urban Dictionary has the only reasonable definition for tooler: "a tool who uses the word tool."

NYer 7:06 AM  

So many, POCs (PsOC?), I thought that was the theme!

Loren Muse Smith 7:56 AM  

Like Rex and @jae, I wanted KNEE brace, too. And, Rex, your "biggest gimme in the puzzle" was my biggest woe! Hey, @unknown. Also, it took every cross for me to get AL MODOVAR.

@Wade – I immediately smelled a rat at the Lucy clue. I didn't even consider writing in "I Love." Besides, I did watch HERE'S Lucy back in the day. Weren't there one or two more shows that were sort of spin-offs? I just checked – there was also The Lucy Show, which I watched, too, until Mom got wise and gave us a limited daily TV time. Then I chose very carefully, probably saving up for Lost in Space and Gilligan's Island instead. And you didn't know "PIA MATERS was two words if you hadn't told me"? I wouldn't have known it was anything at all. Huh? Morning, @jae.

@NYer – I like your instinct to change POCs to PsOC. I'm going to chew on that one today.

Like Acme – northeast was my downfall. Seeing the clue "lures" as only a verb was my demise. I was certain of AMNESTIES and SETTLE ON, so I wanted Jon Somebody for SANTANA and, mysteriously, "mettle" for FETTER.

I kept considering only "shakuhachi" or "koto" for my geisha. ShAMISEN on me. So I had the ridiculous "dea"'s arms being not solid. Sheesh.

Big personal Natick at the ALENÇON/NES cross. Because of the word "tricot", I had "alencot/tes.

Because of yesterday's BALINESE, I had "Bengalese" for a while 'til I wised up.

I had "embark" for UNDOCK and it took forever to sort that corner out.

Acme – loved your "sea otters" pitch! I had "change-ups" very early on, feeling pretty happy with it.

I *love* ragtime music with its syncopation, and, like Acme, couldn't let go of "rag" in the TWO STEPS answer. When I was supposed to be practicing Grieg's Piano CONCERTO in A Minor, I instead worked on this one, but I never got really any good at it.

Maple Leaf Rag

Only 58 words - impressive. But alas in the end, this was just out of my wheelhouse. Really cool-looking grid, by the way, Tim!

Norm C. 8:06 AM  

Is it OK to have "Scott" in a clue (19A) and as an answer (5D)? I thought that was a no-no, so put off filling in 5D for the longest time. The whole NW killed me -- a real TOUGH ROAD.

C. Ross Word 8:39 AM  
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Rex Parker 9:09 AM  

Go easy, guys, or you'll hurt the constructor's database's feelings.


Lindsay 9:15 AM  

I left a blank and didn't feel bad about it SAMISE?/SO?DE. Like @Clark said. Couldn't bring myself to care. Unfortunately, I found a flat-out error when I came here. eLMO DOVAR was wrong. And PIAMeTERS, which I thought might be a measurement, possibly related to phrenology, though "adhere" seemed an odd description.

Also, I fell for "I love" Lucy because the corner was empty and I had to start somewhere. Not like I was going to drop SAMISE-whatever in without crosses, or RESEES for that matter.

Glimmerglass 9:17 AM  

Several WOEs for me. I also needed every cross for AL MODOVAR (or ALMO DOVAR, for all I know). I too guessed wrong with the final N in SAMISEN (never saw SONDE). I can't spell SASSONS (Sasoon is the hair product?). Pretty typical Saturday for me (long time, two wrong letters). Definitely a challenge.

Sir Hillary 9:39 AM  

Great grid, and good fill considering the constraints. The five central down 9's are especially good. Wasn't very much fun though. SAMISEN/SONDE and ALENCON/NES crosses are brutal, for me at least.

Can someone help me with:
-- LDS for "Temple inits."
-- A SEA has arms?

Carola 9:43 AM  

A TOUGH ROAD for me but I enjoyed every STEP. Dismayingly empty grid until I saw MAGI and then SAMISEN x SONDE. Crawled into the rest of the white space from there.

So much to like: FEVERISH, LUSTFUL COME ONS, CONCERTOS with their PRESTOS and the lively TWO STEPS. SPLITTERS and SOLO HOMERS. And the TOOLERS have their CLAMP right there at hand.

Do-over: SwifT (talked myself into it) before SCOTT. Should have done over: ALENCOt/tES (Hi, @loren) - I wrote in "-COt" as my entry into that quadrant, thinking it would be similar to tricot and never went back to look at it.

GILL I. 9:55 AM  

@Sir Hillary - Latter Day Saints. They pray in Temples.
Can't help you with SEA
Lordy this was difficult and not very rewarding. My first entry and only for a looong time was ALMODOVAR. (accent on the second o) He's an internationally well known Spanish film director. His movies tend to make my skin crawl though. If you like Banderas (and who doesn't) and P. Cruz, they tend to be in a lot of his movies. "Talk to Her" is considered to be one of his best films.
The rest of the puzzle - just crazy. For some stupid reason, I wanted Lieutenant colonel's charge to be BUGLE BOYS so that whole damn middle didn't go anywhere. A Google here and there got me going in fits and starts. I have never heard the phrase "Dog it" BCS was no gimmee and like @Rex and others didn't know ALENCON nor SAMISEN nor SONDE nor about 80% of the puzzle answers. Waaaa...

Z 9:57 AM  

Definitely more WTFs, not WOEs. SPLITTERS aren't fastballs. ALENÇON? PIA MATERS? (Any relation to PIA Zadora?) How do you spell LOUGANIS? SASSONS not Calvins? The order of appearance from 45 years ago? I didn't stand a chance.

And before anyone cites Wikipedia to me, it is just wrong. There is a two-seam fastball and a four-seam fastball. All other "fastballs" are off-speed pitches so aren't actually fastballs. This is the reason that "fastball" gets dropped from the name and they become known as "SPLITTERS" and "cutters."

jburgs 10:02 AM  

I knew that Lucy had other series but couldn't recall any of the names. I had lightly penciled in ILOVE but wasn't surprised that it wasn't the gimme some might think.

I think Rex was too kind in his review.Someone mentioned the word excruciating and for my level of skill I fully agree. Had to cheat a lot. Too much obscure and awkward stuff in both the clues and answers for me. But I learned some things so that was good.

Paul Keller 10:13 AM  

I agree with REX that while there is much to like here, not everyone gracefully executes a puzzle in this format. When I do a Patrick Berry puzzle, no matter how hard, when the answers do come they "hang", meaning that I get a sense of certainty and satisfaction about their being right. I got that with Jeff Chen last week too. Here, puzzling devolved into a painful process consisting mostly of guesswork.

I maxed out the timer. My mistakes were

and I wouldn't have bet a nickel on

UNDOCK seems forced. I liked most of the clue/answers for the long nines.

FearlessKim 10:29 AM  

Yes the fill is full of Wheel letters and the SAMISEN/SONDE crossing is one heckuva Natick, but still: all those interlocking 9's in the center of the grid, and nice chunky corners all around made for a challenging construction and a very attractive grid.

My split personality loved all the science clues ( PIAMATERS, ADSORBS, EGESTED) and the music mini-theme (TWOSTEPS, CONCERTOS, PRESTOS). I still couldn't really stomach TOOLERS, speaking of egesting ...

And speaking of the PIA MATER, I love the poetic naming of the membrane that cradles the brain: "tender mother". Even anatomists have their soft side.

jae 10:30 AM  

@lms - embark was my third most damaging erasure.

jae 10:30 AM  
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Benko 10:33 AM  

I had the same reaction to this puzzle as @NY--
Oh so many PsOC! This puzzle is a stunning example of the overuse of plurals in making a grid workable. PIAMATERS/INNERS was a particularly noticeable crossing. And PRESTOS sure feels wrong.
Tough puzzle made tough primarily by its awkwardness rather than good wordplay and vocab, in my opinion. One of my least favorite NYTs in a long time.

mathguy 10:34 AM  

Very tough for me. Not much fun but felt good that I was able to do it. Seven words I didn't know. A lot of the difficulty came from what I consider bad clues. "Areas next to bulls-eyes" for INNERS. "Shop keeper?" for CLAMP.

By the way, what do we mean by POCs?

elitza 10:36 AM  

Our house's BENGAL CAT is currently giving himself a bath and looking at us like we're crazy for doing this puzzle.

He's a smarty-pants.

Nancy 10:40 AM  

After 15 minutes, I was torn between I Love and HERE'S in the Lucy clue (so I didn't write down anything)and I had nothing but MAGI and TSARS which didn't help me at all. I came as close to giving up as I ever have. A guess at LOUGANIS, which gave me CONGA, which I had sort of suspected earlier, started unraveling it. For the longest time I had Calvins for SASSONS and rough ride for TOUGH ROAD. For me this was a very TOUGH ROAD indeed!

Mohair Sam 11:21 AM  

Never agreed more with @Rex, except I was OK with CLAMP, kinda liked it.

We thought we had finished but forgot the "L" space in ALENCON - since we had rOUGHROAD we may never had gotten the mysterious lace, so we concede to a DNF. Rats.

Did like some of the clues a lot - round trip, outstanding character, the Lucy trap, the ShaNaNa trap. Particularly liked Fast parts.

Like many here we are unhappy with TOOLER, and a difficult journey is a rough road, or a tough row to hoe - not a TOUGHROAD, in our humble opinion.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

"By the way, what do we mean by POCs?"

Supposedly "Plurals of Convenience", but I think the talk of POCs is ridiculous. There were, however, a lot of plurals in this one, about 30% of the entries.

Though I think talk of POCs is silly, a lot of plurals in a grid is not desirable.

ksquare 12:05 PM  

You win some, you lose some, so when I reach an impasse I come here to borrow a few words and then try to finish. I do the puzzles to test my own vocabulary and if it is insufficient I'm glad to learn something new.
If you don't enjoy doing them stop annoying yourself.

quilter1 12:05 PM  

Very hard and no fun. I don't mind hard if it is fun, but this one wasn't. Lots of things I didn't know. I loved Lucy and never questioned it. Had INshORt and ragtimes. Just never could get a foothold anywhere so I gave up. Try again tomorrow. I think I'll have some real fun and clean out the attic.

jberg 12:28 PM  

Really tough for me, I had to come back to it three times, once after a two-hour break (this morning was tne annual plant giveaway at the Arnold Arboretum, and you can't be too late or everything will be gone.) very satisfying to finish, except that I came here and dound I had errors. I didn't know the jeans and never watched Seinfeld, so I went with the misspelled hairdresser, SASoONS (same error in the label of the video @Rex posted, so I don't feel that bad) crossing ROoses (less forgiveable, esp. since the correct answer is my daughter-in-law's name). And I was so sold on the idea that wolves had LeSs FUr than foxes that I never saw LDS, even after my last minute writeover of IN A WORD for IN shORt.

On the other hand, SAMISEN and SONDE were gimmes for me (though I did take the latter out momentarily for I love). Just goes to show you.

I didn't mind CLAMP, but TOOLER?

Whoever asked - sure, one frequently hears that this or that body of water is an arm of the sea, or an arm of some particular sea.

But what is a KNEE PATCH?

Time to go plant those free plants.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

I admit it, I fell for the ILOVE even though I know it couldn't possibly be that easy on a Saturday.

What about UNDOCK, though? Is that even a word in crosswordland?

Hard, hard, hard. But I finally killed it.


Masked and AnonymoUUUUs 12:31 PM  

Tips fer beginners doin the SatPuz:
* don't
* if you do, read all the clues, and find somethin you know. Example: "___ Lucy". Gimme. ILOVE. You're in.
* Look for fill in the blank clues, which are usually easier. See last example. Gimme. You're in (deep do-do).
* Pepsid Complete.
* Look for somethin short-ish, near the puzbottom. For some reason, these are more friendly, and have more common letters. Probable cause: desperate constructor. Example: RESEES. See? Friendly. Common letters. Desperate.
* Assume word does not contain any U's. Boy, did that ever work, yesterday.
* Do research. How much research? However much research you reckon that the constructor had to do. Fair's fair. For. SatPuz, figure on every third entry.
* Ready 4-Oh's blog, then do the puz. You may not get much more, but you'll be armed with some great snarky phrases, to hurl at the grid.

M&A, xpert xword flailer

syndy 12:35 PM  

a rOUGHROAD and quite a challenge.ALENCON lace was my gimee balanced by BCS being a complete wtf.I agree that much of the difficulty lay in some rather unacceptible clueing. INNER?RESEES?TOOLER? accually there was no good way to clue any of these dogs-they sucked !The N in samesen/sonde was a lucky guess.but I finished if I count mr pencil not liking ROUGH/ROOLER

OISK 12:47 PM  

Bah. I dislike product clues, (NES was a pure guess) and rock clues, (I have heard of Santana; is that a person or a group?), missed a few squares because I didn't change rough road to tough road, which would have given "tooler" which I don't like at all, and alencon, which is completely unfamiliar to me. On the other end, also missed samisen and sonde, the "n" being a perfect Natick for me, and I guessed wrong. Resees is pretty contrived also, although I got it. Three incorrect squares means DNF - this one was certainly "challenging" in my book (after a 10 minute Friday), but not a bad puzzle. Saturday is allowed to be really tough, but I usually do finish them.

Sandy K 12:50 PM  

Took me forever to finish- I was ready to CONCEDE, but after a lot of re-writes, eg. embark, calviNS, rOUGH ROAD, tETher, and PeAMAssES. Aarrghh! (There's the pirate clue)...

I finally found my INNER PIA MATER
(S)? and UNDOCKED my calviNS for SASSONS, TURNed rOOLER to TOOLER, and finally came to RESEE FETTER.

Some really TOUGH cluing, and SONDE/SAMISEN was almost a Natick, but a good Sat workout.

Lewis 12:54 PM  

First of all, what a gorgeous grid! Loved the clues for LUSTFUL, SLATEROOF, CONGA, and especially MEDIATE. Not happy about TOOLER (who says this?). Learned SONDE, ALENCON, SAMISEN and PIAMATERS (if I'll remember them is another story). Love the word SPLITTERS. I think the clue for KNEEPATCH should have been more specific (Remedy for a leg scrape, maybe).

EGESTED just looks ugly to me. Always has. I have two nephews, brothers, named Scott and Ross, so happy to see them next to each other.

Saturdays are never easy for me, but this felt easier than a typical Saturday. I just stuck with it and things came to me. Ultimately, how a puzzle comes off is an individual thing. To Rex, Tim overreached. To me, I enjoyed the struggle and solve.

Ray J 1:00 PM  

Thought I would never finish. Started with URBS, LDS, SANTANA, CONGA, HERE’S and MAGI. Got PIA MATERS, SAMISEN and ALENCON entirely from crosses. I misread the clue for NES as “Wii accessory” to the bitter end. I was kinda surprised to see the happy pencil when I finally finished.

@Z –I agree that a splitter is really an off-speed pitch; however, I do hear announcers call them split-finger fastballs sometimes.

I owe M&A an apology. A few weeks ago he suggested fixing up a TuesPuz by changing STER to DEER, resulting in RESEE. I kinda sorta told him he was nuts. Well, sir, today you have your vindication, in its plural form no less. Please accept my humble apology.

Questinia 1:14 PM  

If one does the electronically archived Saturday puzzles one will eventually find words like ALENCON and SAMISEN. Of course it's a needle/haystack but overall it is great training!

A Saturday puzzle a day keeps the Naticks away.

Steve J 1:18 PM  
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Craig Richard Nelson 1:23 PM  

PLEASE HELP! Having a brain cramp trying to remember the term frequent solvers use to for a clue/answer that's basically impossible or too difficult.

Steve J 1:23 PM  

@John Child: Pretty much my reaction (although, like @Z, it's more WTF than WOE).

Agreed with @Lewis that the grid looks great. That was pretty much the end of my enjoyment of this. Too much arcana, too little in the way of clever clues (24A was the only one that gave me a grin), no fun fill.

Speaking of @Z: Agreed that a SPLITTER is really an offspeed pitch. But, since in its 1980s/90s heyday that's what the pitchers who threw it and the managers who were big on it (particularly Roger Craig) called it, I think it's a legit clue. One of those things where common usage trumps technically veracity.

@Danp: Sasson jeans commercial. These played incessantly on daytime TV when I was a kid in the early '80s, so that jingle is permanently seared in my brain.

ahimsa 1:23 PM  

@Danp asked about the jeans. "Ooh la la" (sp?) was the tag line for some of their cheesy commercials, see for one example. I actually remembered the name but thought it was SASoon or SASsoon - figured it out eventually. Knowing ALMODOVAR (e.g., All About My Mother, Volver) was helpful but again spelling that name was a problem for me.

I got most of it, somehow (and very slowly), but I had to cheat to finish the SW corner. I fell for the same trap mentioned by @Rex -- rOUGH ROAD instead of TOUGH ROAD. So I could not figure out that cross of ALENCON and TOOLER.

So, DNF for me. And even before I cheated this was one of the hardest and longest Saturdays for me in a long time. In fact, I was sure that something in the area around PIAMATERS was wrong and came here to find out what. Nope, it's correct. I thought of brain membranes, and I've even heard of meninges. PIA MATERS is a new one for me.

I liked that top line -- LIARS! BLAST IT! And I liked SOLO HOMER as clued even though I'm not at all a baseball fan. And BENGAL CAT is a cute entry (I somehow already knew that they were hybrids). Hmm, cats two days in a row. (BALINESE yesterday)

ahimsa 1:26 PM  

Sorry for the duplicate link to the link to the jeans commercial. I was still typing/editing when @Steve J posted his message.

Benko 1:30 PM  

@jberg and @lewis:
My take on the KNEEPATCH entry/clue was that it was referring to a patch of cloth sewn onto a "bad leg" of a pair of pants.
SANTANA is a person, Carlos Santana, and the name of the band he leads. One of the few bands named after the guitarist rather than a singer.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

"Tooler" (word that hardly exists) crossed with "tough road" (an expression that does not exist- "tough row (not road) to hoe" which usually refers to a task or job, rather than a "journey," or "rough road"). "Blast it"- an expression completely made up by Croce. I vaguely remember an adventure-comedy in the '60s that featured gap-toothed Brit Terry-Thomas as the villain saying "Blast" (NOT "blast it") whenever one of his devious schemes failed. "Sonde"- never heard of it, but got it because I know what a "samisen" is. "Knee patch"? I'm a former marathoner and I never heard that expression. Had heard of "Here's Lucy" (along with "The Lucy Show," etc.) as one of the successor sitcom series following the end of "I Love Lucy," but it's obscure. Croce makes up words and expressions to suit his puzzle, which is a stupid and unclever and unrewarding puzzle, and Shortz lets him get away with it.

I skip M-W 1:40 PM  

Scott was my first answer, even though I usually avoid historical novels and certainly the author of the Waverley ones, known because Bertrand Russell in A History of Western Philosophy argues about whether Scott and taoW can be considered to be referring to same person.

Love Almodovar films, Samisen was a gimme, sonde, as in radiosonde pretty much so, Pia mater took me a long time to accept. Needed a couple of crosses for Alencon, but then not hard. Had vaguely heard of January games, tried CBS for College Bowl Series, but doubted. Tried Sasoon/ rooses before Sasson/ Rosses. Always enjoy finishing hard one like this despite pluralities of plurals

Steve J 1:45 PM  

@Anon 1:40: Think pants leg, not your leg, for KNEE PATCH. My mom had an ample supply of them when I was a kid, as I always seemed to tear through the knees of my jeans.

Chad Montgomery 1:52 PM  

". . . an expression that does not exist . . ."

The usage is interesting as representing a misconstruction. To me, 'rough road' and 'tough row' are correct and neither swaps well with the other. 'Tough road' grates, but the expression very much exists. It isn't surprising that these two phrases have been jumbled, especially in speech. From there the battle is lost.

sanfranman59 1:56 PM  

Has anyone been able to solve the puzzle online the past two days? I'm able to download and solve in Across Lite, but can't get the puzzle to come up with the "Play against the clock" link. I'm not seeing any solve times either (hence, no stats). Is it just me?

jae 2:10 PM  

@Steve J & Benko -- That was also my take on KNEE PATCH.

@Craig R. Nelson -- Natick?

Knew SAMISEN from Memoirs of a Geisha.

obertb 2:13 PM  

My first two entries in the NW were INSHORT (at 2D, for "Not at lenghth"--incorrect as it turns out) and ADSORBS (at 3D). That left 16A, "Oo la la jeans" as _SS_ _ _ _. And I thought, ASS_ _ _ _! Could that be? ASS something? Tight jeans certainly feature one's ass prominently, but in the NYT crossword? No way. There was no way, of course, but that didn't stop me wanting that to be the answer. Didn't give up until I changed INSHORT to INAWORD, though.

Lewis 2:26 PM  

@benko -- regarding KNEEPATCH, what you said makes perfect sense! Thanks for that ...

Mohair Sam 2:52 PM  

KNEEPATCH. @benko has it right. In today's throw away world younger solvers have clearly never heard of a knee patch, and naturally assumed damage to a leg involved skin. Places like FW Woolworth used to sell knee patches in little packets, people actually repaired damaged clothing because clothing wasn't cheap.

I guess that as long as we can find sweatshops overseas to make our clothes for peanuts we'll never have to worry about knee patches. Ah progress.

Blackeyedsusan 3:14 PM  

Alencon lace junky? Hardly. I guess Rex wasn't a devotee of the Sunday bridal announcements..."the bride's gown had a sweetheart neckline outlined with alencon lace." Enough to bring on a swoon in a young girl. NY Times doesn't do that an more, but check out the New Orleans Times Picayune. Southern belles live on.
Too hard for me but loved clue for LETTERMEN probably because It was one of the few I got. Learned a lot though reading all the comments. That's the path I'm on.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

I was proud of myself when I hopped over "I Love Lucy", and immediately knew it would be HERE'S … and then stepped right in the middle of a pile of ShanANA.


joho 4:24 PM  

Getting here late so sort of skimmed the comments but was glad to see so many found this to be hard. I found it to be impossible!

@Acme, SEAOTTERS! Funny!

Amazingly I got ALENCON and BENGALCAT (at first I wanted Dalmation) I wonder what happens when you cross a BALINESE with a BENGALCAT?

This one was just too much for my brain and its PIAMATERS.

I am so looking forward to tomorrow because Will said there is a contest to be entered!

Craig Richard Nelson 4:29 PM  

@ jae: thank you thank you! Natick did the trick!

Michael 5:08 PM  

Never heard of pia maters. I had piam...and still had to google before finishing the puzzle. Never heard of samisen either but got it from crosses.

mac 5:42 PM  

Well, I started out with a field of esses. Then I worked from the bottom up. Oddly enough sonde and Alencon were gimmes, the latter was also mentioned by a friend who's going there soon.

The NE didn't happen without my peeking at Blast It! This was a tough one. Did it late after my first-ever Bar Mitzvah of a friend's son. And after a big lunch. Did not help at all.

John V 6:13 PM  

Skunked two days in a row. Nice way to start fall. Grrrrr

Anonymous 6:20 PM  

@Sir Hillary

Don't know if u got an answer but
LDS= Latter Day Saints

M and A also 6:43 PM  

Full disclosure dept.

PuzEatinSpouse did 50% or so of today's puz. But she did seek M&A's help, from time to time. Asked m&e for suggestions on the 9-Down "Chews in the end" clue, or instance. My answers convinced her that I was on a different wave length.

On a different wave length dept.

So,... hey maybe that would make a cool puz theme. Clues use homonyms of what they should, to get their grid answers to come out right. Example...

Clue="Pears and such". Answer=POKERHANDS.

har. Far out. Probably need a revealer, to get away with this kind of theme. The million dollar ideas just keep gushin in, folks. Like a sewer pipe without a check valve...

Last Silver Bullet 7:34 PM  

Hey, @Ray J ... No problemo.

yep. RESEES is the clear daily double winner, today. Really needs somethin exta, to get the coveted trifecta award tho.
Maybe RESEERS. Or UNRESEEN. I'm kinda partial to goin all out, with, oh, say... REPEWITED, or somesuch.


GILL I. 8:05 PM  

Hey @Anonymous 6:20. What am I, chopped PIAMATER?

Z 8:31 PM  

Yeah, I know the clue was legit. The split-finger fastball was once called a forkball, but part of Jack Morris' Schtick was to intimidate, and "split-fingered fastball" sounds harder to hit. But it still ain't a fastball.

stone 11:50 PM  

@Craig Richard Nelson
Yes , I agree with you. "Having a brain cramp trying to remember the term frequent solvers use to for a clue/answer that's basically impossible or too difficult."

Unknown 10:29 AM  

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Dirigonzo 7:34 PM  

I quit last night with the grid about half empty and when I got up this morning the puzzle fairy (aka WPP) had corrected a couple of mistakes and filled in a few squares. I picked it up throughout the day (Sunday) and plugged away, finally reducing the grid to a couple of empty squares and a couple of wrong ones. Now that I've read everyone else's comments, I don't feel too bad about that.

Tita 10:56 PM  

Too late, too little time...
Major was mostly blank.

@lms...I thought I was clever by adding that t when all I had was CO...
There's triCOt, piCOt...

Hand up for liking SOLOHOMER.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

It is SO obnoxious when the cry baby doesn't like a word because he's never heard of it. If sonde is in merriam Webster, it's the most unarguably fair game possible.

Unknown 6:25 AM  

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spacecraft 12:06 PM  

Challenging to challenging-impossible. This was all just plain brutally unfair. I mean, I guess there was a time, maybe the first year, when I Love Lucy was called something else, but really. Come on now. If you want to clue HERES, how about "MCword?"?

And the only thing to go in 19a is RAGS, but that's four letters too short. Maybe PIANORAG, but the clue expressly specifies plural. To call these works "TWOSTEPS" is ridiculous at best, and a great insult to Joplin at worst.

Couldn't get going in the NW, NE, or SW; most of the entries were either I-have-no-flippin'-ideas or that-could-be-anythings. And guess why I couldn't get anything to work in the SE? There sat ILOVE, absolutely immobile. Of all the possibilities, I KNEW that one was RIGHT.

Guess there were no spellcasters to help me today. --NO! NO! Don't bring them back! I was only joshing!

On to Sunday. Go Eagles: beat the Giants!

Solving in Seattle 2:58 PM  

Syndies, I can't thank you enough for paying the ransom. I was in a casted spell for just a few hours, but it was horrible. And we thought Dr. No was a villian. And regretfully @Diri, I was forced to reveal my capcha-deciphering expertise.

As for today's puz, I kinda agree with OFL. Some real groaners and forced clues.

I've sailed for years, but have never UNDOCKed a boat. I was also a weatherman in the USAF and had to get 49A on crosses. There was such a thing as a dropsond, which was a package we dropped out of a high altitude plane over North Vietnam to get the weather data. Never heard someone say "lets send a SONDE over the target area. But, I'm not going to get too FEVERISH over it.

I also wanted KNEEbraCe. Never heard of TOATURN or ALENCON. When I got BENGALCAT on crosses I wondered who has one as a housepet? Oh, yeah, how'd that work out Siegfried?

Can someone explain the clue for LETTERMEN?

Agree with @Z that SPLITTERS aren't fastballs.

Off to the golf course to celebrate my freedom.

Good clue for "Like wolves vis-a-vis foxes."

Capcha: liedcat. Either related to a Bengal or a hip German singer.

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

From Syndication Land
@ Solving in Seattle
If you have seen a letterman's jacket...the "character" of the school...or the school letter...stands out. That's the way I interpreted it anyway.

DMG 4:48 PM  

Another member of the DNF club here. Struggled everywhere. Took forever to give up a misspelled "enbark" for UNDOCK. Smiiled when I got FETTER, and again when I figured out SOLeHOMER!!! One smile too many! In the long run the NE was pretty much white squares when I quit. January games- must involve a bowl? Woodstock? Only could think of Gutherie and the girl who later ODed. The one Bette Middler played in the Rose, Janis Joplin???? Wondered if the brain clue had something to do with fans of Mensa types, and can't even parse the movie guy when I see it written out as one word, or is it two? Maybe tomorrow?

@Ginger: did catch your last comment yesterday. I always check the comments before starting a new post.

rain forest 6:01 PM  

DNF and DNL. Also I am being spammed to death and I'll be lucky to get this in. Time for a tune-up for my laptop.

UNDOCK, RESEES, TOOLER - ARGH Normally I have a high threshold for these sorts of words, but today, they just annoyed me.

I agree with @Spacecraft about the Joplin answer. His songs were rags. No one calls them two-steps.

Dirigonzo 7:19 PM  

@SiS wrote, " When I got BENGALCAT on crosses I wondered who has one as a housepet? Oh, yeah, how'd that work out Siegfried?" I nominate this for comment of the month. (And welcome back from your abduction - were there any probes involved in the experience?)

Ginger 2:47 AM  

Busy day so started the puz after dinner guests left. Shouldn't have bothered. Got a BCS here, and a LOUGANIS there, and a few others, but even with Google couldn't get to first base. I hate to give up, but no amount of patience and guessing was gonna help me today. My hat's off to all of you who got close to the finish line. And I was feeling so good after yesterday's romp. AARRGHH

Mark DeGraffenreid 12:25 PM  

Very tough...toughest time I have faced in a long while. I did ultimately triumph, with an * (I didn't realize 'SASSON' was two S's, one O...I guess I was thinking of Vidal Sassoon...and have never (ever) seen the word 'ROSSES'), but otherwise (somehow) managed to get everything else right. I love a challenging puzzle (even if the cluing/answers are a bit odd here and there), and I thought 'Like wolves vis-a-vis foxes' was absolutely brilliant! I struggled with that forever, wanting some form/derivative of lupine. When 'lustful' finally appeared, I was floored/amused. Actually, now that I think about it, I am maybe a bit miffed about the lack of a standard, winky-winky '?' at the end of that clue...

SharonAK 1:59 PM  

Had to read a long wy through the comments to find some acknowledging what had drawn me into trying to solve a Saturday. The grid looked fabulous.

I couldn't do it. Got the center secton on my own but cheated for half the rest. then started trying to guess what Emily Cureton would have drawn if she were still doing drawings of the puzzles. That grid just wanted to be used in a work of art.

RCTID 5:41 PM  

Took me two days to give up and come out here to see how many errors I had. I can't believe undock/sassons/adsorbs/twosteps/splitters/piamaters, tooler/alencon, and samisen/sonde were all correct. This isn't my first Saturday victory, but it might be the toughest I've ever finished 100% correct with no googles. I am positive that not just practice, but reading this blog and comments every Fri-Sat-Sun for the past few years gets a lot of the credit. So, thanks Rexters!

Anonymous 4:12 AM  

I will concede this wasn't zippy, but it was just tough enough to be barely doable for me. Given the choice between snappy and tough I'll take tough.

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