Animal called stubbin by locals / SAT 10-5-13 / Dresden decimator of 1945 / El dia que me quieras others / 1 Infinite address of Apple's headquarters / Webby Award winner who accepted saying please don't recount this vote / nascar stat that rises under caution flags

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SKOPJE (13D: Macedonia's capital) —
Skopje [...] is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Macedonia. It is the country's political, cultural, economic, and academic center. It was known in the Roman period under the name Scupi. [...] Skopje is located on the upper course of the Vardar River, and is located on a major north-south Balkan route between Belgrade and Athens. It is a center for metal-processing, chemical, timber, textile, leather, and printing industries. Industrial development of the city has been accompanied by development of the trade, logistics, and banking sectors, as well as an emphasis on the fields of culture and sport. According to the last official count from 2002, Skopje has a population of 506,926 inhabitants (wikipedia)
• • •

I psyched myself out on this one. A few minutes of fumbling left me with very little, and I had that horrible free-fall feeling that I sometimes get at the beginning of Very difficult puzzles, the "I'm never going to get anywhere" feeling. Byron's name only solidified this feeling. Few people write puzzles as hard or clues as devious as he does. But I got a little traction. Then stopped. Then finally saw ESPRIT DE CORPS, which gave me the "D" I needed to see KOMODO DRAGONS, and then, *then*, the puzzle started to feel about right. Saturday-esque. Made slow and steady progress the rest of the way until I was done. Finished up at AIM, ridiculously clued as [Second in command?]. Not even gonna tell me what kind of "command" is at issue here? No? OK then. (It's the AIM from "Ready, AIM, fire!" I assume).

Soooo much stuff I just didn't know in this one. I've probably heard "I'M YOURS" (54A: Jason Mraz song that spent a record 76 weeks on Billboard's Hot 100), but I couldn't hum it for you now if I wanted to, and I needed most of the crosses to get it (I do like that both Mraz and BRNO are in this puzzle). Also needed crosses to get the other song, "DO YOU WANNA DANCE," a song I *can* hum but I don't think I knew was a Beach Boys song. Sounds older and more generic than most of the songs I know of theirs. Not convinced "OH MY MY" is an actual expression, but we'll let that one go. A mob is apparently a group of kangaROOs (29A: Mob member, informally). Didn't know that. Didn't know SKOPJE, though I've heard of it. Frankly, I'm not even sure I could find Macedonia on a map. Balkan ... ish? I'm guessing. No idea who Teddy Roosevelt's VP was (15A: City named for Theodore Roosevelt's vice president = FAIRBANKS, ALASKA). Speaking of VPs, AL GORE. The "Webby" part of the clue threw me—really seems like I should've nailed that answer straight away (18A: Webby Award winner who accepted saying "Please don't recount this vote") ("accepted saying" seems like very, very poor clue phrasing). Names of TANGOS and titles of lesser ASIMOV works, likewise elusive.

[OK, yes, I know this song]

Started with MOOR / MIND, only one of which was right (the bad thing to lose turned out to be MOJO). Then time passed. Eventually I guessed RAMP and RCMP, and that little center-right diagonal stretch from MOOR to SEWER came into view. Key to finally taking off was looking at -ECOR- and somehow realizing, after much time, that those letters weren't all part of one word (like "RECORD"), but broke in the middle somewhere (like "DE CORPS"). My only true gimme was DAHL. I started with MOOR, so I guess that counts too, but somehow that one didn't feel so certain. Oh, and ENS. I got that no problem (7D: Nissan bumpers?).

Yeah, so, I liked this. It ate me up a little, but it's Saturday, so disaster is not terribly out of the ordinary.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 12:11 AM  

Had an experience similar to Rex's.   Went over the NW after printing it out and got no where.  Then filled in a couple of things in NE (e.g. MOOR and ESPRIT DE CORPS) and took a break for dinner thinking it was going to be very tough.  Came back to it and finished fairly easily.  So, medium for me.  I've been staring at a Walden puzzle from one of Peter Gordon's NY Sun books for several days now and have three entries one of which I'm sure of.  So, maybe I was more intimidated than I needed to be.   It helped that both songs in the SW were gimmes. 

@Rex:  Me too MOOR/Mind

Mini theme:  European cities with weird spellings.

No WOEs, a bit of zip, and some fun clues...liked it!

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

Liked the fill except for BRNO and SKOPJE and the cluing was so Saturday NYT. Liked it until the clue for TANGOS made me want to RAMP someone's HASP. Never woulda' finished without my spouse.

wreck 12:23 AM  

I still have to google a bit on Saturdays - but less so each week. 15 letter clues fell relatively quick for me. I really liked this puzzle over all.

Questinia 12:28 AM  

Same initial wallow as @Rex but then a toehold at BRNO => BRIT => ESPRIT DE CORPS => KOMODO DRAGONS. That large cross yielded an armature.

A mini-swoon at 34D (tip used for icing= SILENCER... OH MY MY).

AmiABLE is Wednesday's version of Saturday's AFFABLE which I used to clog FAIRBANKS/FREE ASSOCIATION for a while.

NE was hardest with that Nascar clue crossing the Macedonian capital. But it all made sense. All gettable and pleasingly so.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) gave me the final R in ROO which, after my huzzah, I googled and got the mob of kangaroos reference.

Lovely cluing. LOVES it. Byron has MOJO.

John Child 12:41 AM  

Sadistic clueing made this very difficult for me. Putting in dIaGramS for 3D, "draws," led me badly astray in the NW.

Finished with help, so not really a success. But it was an excellent learning experience.

Chad Montgomery 12:47 AM  

I had a really tough time getting into this grid at all.

First thought of BODY BAG for "It may provide closure in a tragedy, but it seemed very unlikely in a NYT.

BEARDED DRAGON didn't work out.

Finished at BRNO / BRIM / AIM

wreck 12:59 AM  


I had to laugh at your BODY BAG comment! ............ would make a good answer in a BEQ puzzle!

Clark 2:15 AM  

Nothing frustrates me more than having two out of three letter and not being able to see the third. So I elicited the help of semi-puzzle partner (who is becoming a formidable puzzler—I may have to drop the "semi") who came up with ROO. Together we put this baby to bed. I'm not sure I would have succeeded on my own. Seemed like a solid puzzle though.

The thing about the Webby Awards is the acceptance speech can't be more than 5 words. So What someone says in accepting is what is interesting, making "accepted saying" very, very good clue phrasing it seems to me.

Mark 2:50 AM  

I must be getting better; this Saturday was my easiest ever, despite the false start with " California Girls." I've always wondered how some of the long answers pop up in solvers' minds so easily; miraculously, many of them did for me today.

chefwen 2:50 AM  

@Clark - Just thinking the same thing about my "part time puzzle partner" might have to elevate his title also.

Started off with a mess by putting FAIRBANKS ALASKA in 17A instead of 15A and California Girls at 50A. None of that seemed to be working for me, so, like LMS, I hate a messy puzzle and just printed out a new copy and started over. Much better results the second time around.

The top half was a lot easier than the bottom half, for us. Just looked at 19A and 11D and had to laugh, didn't catch it at the time, but that was pretty damn funny. I thought "why is a MANX CAT stubborn". Oh I get it now! Sometimes you gist have to hit me up the side of my head with a 2 by 4.

Loved it - Friday and Saturday put to bed. Yes...

Danp 5:15 AM  

All those hours watching Dudley Do-Right finally paid off. Tough but fun puzzle.

Robso 6:46 AM  

I had two quick gimmes: PLASMA SCREEN for "Large monitors" which crossed with CALIFORNIA GIRLS for "1965 Beach Boys hit."
Somehow I did not finish . . .

jberg 8:43 AM  

I found this one slow but steady -- but mostly slow. I had no idea about AL GORE and the webbies, but who else would have said that? So that was my first answer, crossed with FREON (now banned, I hope!) and it went on from there. I had Mule before MANX, misunderstaneing 'stubbin' as a regional accent, rather than a description. OutCAST before OFFCAST, and JUDah before JUDEA, out of sheer stupidity. Remarkably few writeovers, probably because this was so hard I hesitated to write in my first guesses. (Oh yeah, me too for losing my Mind.)

I already had MANX and ZULU by the time I got JAWED/JUDEA, so I expected that U to be preceded by a Q in 49A, but he resisted that temptation. No one can resist a SKORT, though, I guess.

My biggest problem was that I was sure that William Howard Taft had been TR's VP - but no, he was Secretary of War. Eventually, crosses showed me the way.

Not the toughest Saturday ever, but a very nice solving experience, with mostly wonderful clues. But didn't Watson create IBM, rather than the other way around?

Loren Muse Smith 8:52 AM  

I was hoping to come here and see that other people made the same fatal mistake I did: ESPRIT DE coeur." (Rex – I wish I had had that R off MOOR in place. Maybe I wouldn't have gotten it so wrong.) But, no, so far I'm alone in that beaut. Oh well. Also, I was so pleased with myself to get "ACT five" and lose "face."

So my final "r" in "coeur" made me think that the "tip used for icing" was some kind of "rose" thingy that made flowers on cakes.

So I got most of the north, KOMODO DRAGON and SKORT but tanked below ESPRIT DE CORPS.

Seeing all of you who managed to finish and are saying it's medium does nothing to, uh, palliate my dismay at doing so poorly!

I would love to live in FAIRBANKS, ALASKA. Liked KABOOM and CLAMORS in the same grid as SILENCER and of course DO YOU WANNA DANCE and TANGOS.

@jberg – I looked for the Q, too. I just can't help myself.

Byron has another gift – you can say any word or phrase to him and he can instantly tell you how many letters it has. I tested him at the ACPT with "high maintenance." He answered immediately, "Fifteen." I swear.

Byron – one of these days, I'm going to be able to finish one of yours. I'm just not there yet. Looking at the finished grid, I see it's a beautiful puzzle. I agree with @Questinia - you sure have constructing MOJO!

Off to the Stumper. It has to be easier, eh?!

First time, long time 9:16 AM  

I've loved this blog since I first found it several years ago. I started doing the crosswords in 2005 or 2006 (I don't remember when I graduated to NYTimes). This blog has been invaluable in developing my appreciation of the puzzles beyond a time-kill, or as I used them, as a measure of my cognitive capabilities.

I started them in a rehab, half physical, half psychiatric, after an automobile accident in 2004, an accident which, until 15 minutes ago, I had no recollection of. I ran into a bridge abutment on a dry road, no traffic, no discernable cause. With my history the only reasonable conclusion was that it was a suicide attempt. I never believed that (I was doing well at the time), but since I had no memory I couldn't dispute it.

So, I've spent 10 years putting my body, my psyche and my intellect back together. It's been a long, slow process, but puzzles have been a big help in measuring my intellectual progress. I never thought, until today, that they would fix my psyche.

See, I clicked on the Jason MRAZ song, and had a flash-back. That very song was playing on my car radio that day. After fifteen seconds I tried to turn the radio off, but in my panic I broke the volume knob, then the tuning knob. I had no choice but to run into that bridge abutment, did I? How else could I have stopped it?

Mohair Sam 9:18 AM  

@Rex. You are correct: DOYOUWANNADANCE is a Bobby Freeman hit from the '50's. I was out of the country when the Beach Boys released their version, I have never heard it, and do not want to.

Good puzzle, not overly difficult for a Saturday - although there were a couple of tough fills - SKOPJE and BRNO.

Somewhere in my past I learned that FAIRBANKSALASKA was named after a Veep, and 1A (tragedy) was going to be ACTFour or ACTFIVE - so we had a real nice head start on this one.

Liked the cluing a lot, except for the snubbing of Bobby Freeman.

C.J. from Green Bay 9:19 AM  

Smooth fill led to a pretty smooth solve. Started with a peppering of ALGORE, RAMP, HASP, NOLO, AAHS, IBM and BRIT. Built up from there, and finished over in the SKOPJE region.

False steps along the way included: OHMAMA and WISE (for SAGE). And couldn't spell KOMODO.

Not much here in the mysterious category. Didn't know IMYOURS. SKOPJE looks familiar, but you could've fooled me with various creative spelling permuations.

Clues were fun fair and feisty. AIM clue was on a plane of its own, but proud to say I got it off just the I.

Great Saturday puzzle. They don't get much better.


elitza 9:19 AM  

Got ACT FIVE immediately, which gave me FREONS, IBARS, and VASE. JUDEA and DAHL were gimmes. Wanted wise rather than SAGE, loop rather than RAMP, and AhHS over AAHS (?!). MOOR another gimme, as the partner is a Holmes fan (and also is from an area that's full of them). Googled the Central Europeans of BRNO and SKOPJE. Bleah.

GILL I. 9:22 AM  

I think if your name is Byron Walden then you're expected to have lovely words like BRNO, ASIMOV, SKOPJE and my favorite MOJO.
FAIBANKS ALASKA and KOMODO DRAGONS were my first entries. I was so surprised my JAW dropped. ESPRITDECORPS went in off the D and R from MOOR. Wow, I was full of BEANS
and almost wanted to FAINT with all of this knowledge...
DO YOU WANNA DANCE took the longest. Weren't all of the Beach Boys hits in 1965?
Despite wanting to stretch my arm all the way around my body to pat my back, I had a DNF. ROO, AIM and LID did me in...waaa!
Even so, I so enjoyed this puzzle. The clues were so damn good I wanted to go off and DANCE a few TANGOS.

Z 9:31 AM  

Okay - Someone please explain to me how ESPRIT DE CORPS answers the clue "Morale." I see it in the Wikipedia article on Morale (the one flagged for needing citations or revision) but they are two very different phenomenons as I understand them. ESPRIT DE CORPS is closer to "camaraderie" in my mind, a sense confirmed by a quick look at online dictionaries.

For example, a bunch of people in a company might feel great about their employer and their jobs (high morale), but have no ESPRIT DE CORPS.

BTW - puzzle kicked my ass today. I'm blaming the Tigers.

Blue Stater 9:43 AM  

I'm surprised no one picked up on 47A, "Watson's creator," IBM. Butbutbut IBM was [Thomas] Watson's creaTION; it wasn't his creatOR. What am I missing here?

I'm never on Byron Walden't wavelength, so this was a frustrating Saturday for me.

GLR 10:25 AM  

@Blue Stater,

"Watson" is IBM's supercomputer that beat the all-time champions on a special Jeopardy tournament (among other things).

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

@Blue Stater Watson is the program IBM developed to play Jeopardy

Today was a DNF because I had QUIT for PUNT. Of course QORT made no sense but it's slight resemblance to QWERTY made me think it might be an obscure computer term.

Lindsay 10:36 AM  

Not feeling very smart. For one thing, I was sure the capital was some place in NebrASKA, despite having spent a summer in Fairbanks many years ago. And that was up in the easy part.

Had to put the puzzle aside before finishing the bottom. For one thing, I thought a Store would be behind a grate divide, and hound would be HAssle.

I actually know the song, and know it's the Beach Boys, but couldn't see it with the bad crosses, and when I did see it entered DO YOU WANto DANCE instead of DO YOU WANNA DANCE, which I now notice for the first time is missing a "t" & so is obviously wrong. Sucks 2b me.

Have a good weekend.

Unknown 10:44 AM  

This was tough for me. Started with FREONS and AL GORE, and just pretty much slogged my way through it. I knew the Mraz song, and somehow called up SKOPJE, but needed crosses for (and still don't much like) OEO and OH MY MY.

it was a good Saturday struggle.

Paul Keller 10:49 AM  

Great puzzle. Lots of clues that were more clever than ambivalent. AIM was tough, but you've got to admit the clue is kinda cute and you pretty well know you've nailed it when finally drops.

My first real headway came in the NW with 1D-4D eventually dropping. That led to the long crosses and the NE filling in. Similar in the South, with the SE downs followed by the long acrosses and then the SW. Sorted out the BRIT, BRNO, AIM dilemma only to DNF on the ROO-RCMP crossing :(

@FTLT, yes that was in bad taste. Yes, I laughed.

Norm 11:23 AM  

Definitely challenging for this camper. Threw down ACT FOUR (I'm obviously no Shakespeare scholar) and FREONS immediately, and then took them out in preference for SQUAT where BEANS would eventually appear. Thought of MOJO off the bat but lacked the courage to put it in even tentatively. Finally got started with DAHL and JUDEA and slowly worked my way back to the NW where I was happy to see my old friend FREONS reappear. DO YOU WANNA DANCE brought back memories of junior high dances, and now I can't get HELP ME RHONDA out of my head. Thanks a lot, Byron.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Plow into led me straight to Hotel California and on to some major backtracking after that. Oh, my.

Ellen S 11:34 AM  

Well, this is the first time in a long time that I have finished the puzzle before the next one comes out. "Finished" in the sense of lots of cheating and still DNF because I ended with SKOsT for 39A. I thought that was going to turn out to be some kind of Macedonian concoction you put on salads, but when I googled it I came up with diddly so I had to check my answers again. I'm willing to forgive myself for checking for wrong letters, but what can I do if I check and miss the error?

At least I got all the proper name thingies without googling. I did try to Google that Jason Mraz person but he has recorded too many songs. None of which I have ever heard of.

Fun puzzle, Mr. Walden.

retired_chemist 11:46 AM  

Medium-challenging, meaning on Saturday that I could do it without Googling but it took quite a while. Devilish cluing, but that made it all the more fun. NYT times are LOOONG, so I think challenging will end up as the rating.

The entire E side seemed easier and gave me my foothold on the long acrosses. Saved me some of the grief described above, especially since I wanted CALIFORNIA GIRLS for 50A.

Agree the clue for ESPRIT DE CORPS is a little off. Never saw a HASP on a shutter - tried a camera answer (IRIS) first. Failed.

BUDS seemed strange too - taste BUDS sense taste, flavors make it.

This was a solid puzzle with strong cluing and interesting answers, some nitpicking aside. Thanks,Mr. Walden.

Captcha Ethena - wise goddess of unsaturated hydrocarbons.

joho 12:48 PM  

I got all the top but was killed on the bottom. I actually said, "Uncle" out loud.

It didn't help that I was sure that the "Mamas and the Papas" sang "DOYOUWANTtoDANCE" which didn't fit anyway with my spelling. Do with DANCE in place I asked my husband about the "Beach Boys" song and he immediately said "dancedanceDANCE." Well, there was no recovering from that correct song title and completely wrong answer. "Uncle!"

I got a new name for you Mr. Walden, from now on you're my Uncle Byron!

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Freon is a trade name, therefore by definition an adjective. Adjectives in English do not have plurals. Therefore, Freons cannot be a valid word.

mathguy 1:00 PM  

@first time, long time: Great story. Happy to hear that you're doing so well.

I'm in awe of those of you who thought it was medium. It was the hardest I've seen in months. I was about to bail and look up the largest city in Macedonia when my wife saw that ASIMOV fit. That did the trick. She had previously saved me by getting SAIDHI and DOYOUWANNADANCE.

Why so hard (for me)? Only three gimmes, ten unknowns, seven totally opaque (or unfair) clues, and seven delightfully-misleading clues.

syndy 1:06 PM  

First I lost my Cool,then my Mind and finally my MOJO.Luckily for us Byron has not lost his!FREE ASSOCIATION was the ticket today-it led around a few Loops but eventually up the right RAMPS.I stupidly misspelled ESPRITDECORPe which left me eI?ENSER as my icer.I was almost gonna go with the ex-disney chief when I spotted my error. WHOO! WHOO! all done NOLO google!

John V 1:10 PM  

Got the bottom just fine. Got my bottom kicked by the top.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

anonymous@1:00 "Freon is a trade name, therefore by definition an adjective." What? Xerox is an adjective" STP is an adjective? Not. Where do you get this BS from?

Oh ... retired_chemist: I think you win the captcha of the year award.

syndy 1:11 PM  

Macedonia is or is not a region of Greece,depending on whom you ask.Apparently the Greeks and the ex-Yugoslavs are biting thumb nails at each other pretty seriously about it!

Doug E 1:12 PM  

Really didn't like this until I really did. Exactly what I wanted on a Saturday. Started with "MOOR" and worked my way slowly out from there, with many missteps. It finally fell into place with ACTFIVE and I uttered an audible "Aha!" when I filled in "SILENCER." Enjoyed this one a lot.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Eh ... I stand (sit) corrected. They are called adjectives. My apologies. But they're used as the subject of a sentence: "Coke is my favorite drink." That's not an adjective. And, they can be pluralized. "How long is the movie? Shall I get two Cokes or only one?" That said ... Freons may be beyond the pale.

Norm 1:21 PM  

There are two Macedonias [Macedoniae?]: the region of Greece and the new post-Yugoslavia country, which calls itself "the republic of" and which is officially referred to by many as "the former Yugoslav Republic of". It's a very big deal in that area. Wars have been fought over less. Hope not this time.

Ray J 1:52 PM  

Agree with Rex about the difficulty/deviousness of Byron Walden’s creations. I’m working my way through the NYT archive and his puzzles are consistently some of the hardest for me.

Initial correct answers were FREONS, IBARS (kinda can’t believe this one stayed), OSCARS, MOOR, RAMP and most of the SW. Had rice before FLAX, OH MaMa before OH MY MY and [ctrl]-Alt-[del] (command for stopping an infinite LOOP) before AIM. OH MaMa helped me see HOMELESS SHELTER early, but really gummed up the works for the two songs. Finished up the bottom half in decent time and finally saw the central cross, which got me going in the top half where I struggled for each entry but finally finished almost two hours after I started. Challenging for me.

20A made me curious so I did a little research on Wikipedia. Sprint Cup cars get 2 to 5 mpg at race speeds and 14 to 18 mpg under caution.

Upside of NASCAR going electric:

• AAH, the serenity of almost-silent motors. Serenity is what NASCAR fans want, right?
• 8-hour pit stops for recharging – pit crews can chill a bit while changing the tires.
• Increased beer sales due to above.
• Increased fan *participation* due to above.

Downside of NASCAR going electric:

• STP harder to clue in puzzles.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Yell first and then think. Repeat: trade names are adjectives. Ask retired_chemist. It's a fact that "Freons" is an incorrect usage of a trademark. So is "Cokes."

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

I still don't get this "trade names are by definition adjectives." Whose definition? Do you have a citation or a link? (What about Dumpsters?)

jazzmanchgo 2:18 PM  

"SKORT"?! What the FRIG is that????

Didn't get "ROOS"/"RCMP" until I saw it here (but that's partly because I always, consistently, and perennially get thrown off by abbreviations and acronyms) . . .

. . . and yeah, "FREONS" didn't set well with me either. We do make plurals out of brand names that have segued into becoming generic common nouns ("Give us two Cokes and a few Kleenexes to wipe up afterwards"), even if it's technically not proper to do so. (And, of course, for commonly used things like cars and clothing, we do it all the time ("They're having a clearance sale on Subarus today, and all the salesmen are wearing Izods") -- But I'm not aware that the brand name "Freon" has crept into everyday vernacular in this way.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

See item two of:

jae 2:35 PM  

@joho - You are correct! The Mama's and Papa's covered DO YOU WANNA DANCE on their "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears" album.

@FTLT - The only minor problem with your tragic story is that the song didn't start showing up on the radio until 2007/8. Maybe this version of I'm Yours will help your recovery.

MetaRex 2:37 PM  

So many things to love in CWPs...of them the one I love best is the feeling of one's vast ignorance giving way to one's latent knowledge...

Knew today wd be a toughie w/ Byron W. constructing and my better tushnet coming in at over twenty minutes.

Lots and lots of ignorance to start...saw nothing at all for a minute or so...then mirrored OFL and others in starting with MIND not MOJO along w/ MOOR. I then made a little chain of error w/ JONES for LOVES, JEST for LOOP (like my DFW meets Steve Jobs answer better, but hey it's wrong), and EXIT for RAMP.

Finally it all came clear. FAIRBANKS ALASKA was the high point...knew from the beginning I'd heard of TR's Veep and would know that one when it emerged. Wound up only 11 seconds behind tushnet....the last area to be unveiled from the mist of error was the MOOR-MIND chain I'd started with...aah...aah...wonderful.

Mette 2:52 PM  

So glad @Rex did not write that he tore through this.

Don't tragedies sometimes end in revenge (which would come before the body bags)? Since Solomon is wisE, my grate had a wedge (of cheese) and I was thrilled that Byron and Will could not outfox me. So my catchy little tune was "DO YOU, do you DANCE". Cleaned all of it up except qUiT and could not convince myself there was anything informal about that, so DNF.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

There are a bunch of Freons, each with a different but related chemical structure. When you talk about them as a group, naturally you will call them Freons.

Another retired chemist.

ANON B 3:06 PM  

I have to give up Fridays and Saturdays. If I have to know Jason Mraz and Beachboys songs and that
blended dressing is skort, then
I am obviously in the wrong league.
And those Capchas only add to the

Evan 3:08 PM  

Okay, so, for some reason that I don't understand, I did this really fast. Like, in my top 5 fastest Saturday times on record. I usually expect Byron's puzzles to kick my ass. This one didn't. I just hit on everything with no erasures, like getting BRNO right off the O and FREE ASSOCIATION from only a couple of letters. It took a while for me to accept OH MY MY as answer, but I thought everything else was smooth.

@First time, long time:

I'm glad to hear that puzzles have been such a positive influence for you. Please chime in more often.

DigitalDan 3:09 PM  


A true classic. You had me all the way.

Z 3:14 PM  

Since no one else has mentioned it, MANX CAT is today's AHI TUNA.

Oh look, a government agency using the pluralized FREONS. Remember our rule of thumb - don't feed anonymice and trolls.

One mild agreement but no fuller exposition. Dare I say it? I think the clue for ESPRIT DE CORPS is wrong. Not like Frankenstein, yesterday, but unequivocally not the same thing, not synonyms, not technically correct through evolved popular usage, but just wrong. I'm sure someone will show me the error of my ways, some text or source somewhere where the answer is used in such a way that "morale" works just as well to convey the meaning. Anyone?

ANON B 3:25 PM  

And the usual nit picking. Who
cares whether Freon is a noun or an adjective or whatever?
A miracle just occurred- an
easy Capcha. I'm quitting
while I'm ahead.

dk 3:28 PM  

One time I heard the Cowboy Junkies cove of DOYOUWANNADANCE and David Lindley does a nice one as well.

This as berg notes was a slow solve. I would make some lame comment about savoring each fill but really it was just slow, not unpleasant, just slow.

Got the big ones first along with ROO and IBM and that gave the support to wrap this puppy up. Sadly then I realized I was late for the class I was teaching and had to race out the door before I could:

🌟🌟🌟🌟(4 Stars) Just a great way to loll about on a rainy Saturday morn.

FYI: Considering a Maine Coon cat, similar to a MANX and often "stubbin."

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

Excuse me, Z, am I more anonymous than you?
and see item 2 to verify that trademarks are adjectives. There is no Coke. There is Coke® cola. "Freon®" is a trademark, an adjective, and has no plural.

Unknown 3:32 PM  

Outstanding cluing and the perfect degree of difficulty for a Saturday. Loved this one. In case August West reads this today, I had a great time at Furthur last night - front and center on the rail. Shame they're going on hiatus.

Carola 3:50 PM  

AAH, so satisfying to finish this one. I also felt intimidated when I saw Byron Walden's name, justifiably, given my very slow start and halting progress. Needed two sessions to finish.

Loved the cluing! Similar to others, I began in the RAMP area, and got major help from the ESPRIT DE CORPS/ KOMODO DRAGONS cross. Still those outer reaches remained shrouded in mystery for a long time.

Can not believe how long it took me to get DUPING after the XEROXED discussion the other day.

How did I go astray? Let me count the ways:
- "stubbin" = "stubborn": wrote in "jack ass," then changed it to Mule _ _ _
- had a Shred (I grate a lot of cheese - HI, @Mette) on the other side of that divide.
- because of Mind, rejected ASIMOV
- misread "Hit hard" as past tense, wrote PLOWed in
- the incorrect HAssle led me to ohsO (low).
- couldn't get past baking or hockey for the icing until the very end. Terrific clue.

Byron Walden, I'M YOURS.

No one in particular 3:56 PM  

1. lists morale as a synonym for esprit de corps.
2. It’s a clue not a definition.
3. It’s Saturday.

DuPont™ Freon® refrigerants include R-22 and R-23 among others. DuPont may want us to call them by their proper trade names but they can’t make us. Neither can Coke® stop me from saying “there are five cokes in my fridge.”

Librarian grammarian 3:59 PM  

(Further hair-splitting with regard to Freon/freons. if you're not interested, skip this comment.)

Seems to me that both sides have a case. Gregory Guillot's guide (thanks for the link) is more brand-protection best practices than guide to general usage. If you're a brand owner, you should never use your trademark as a noun, lest your Kerosene-brand fuel become plain old kerosene (see - item 2). That's why Band-Aid inserted "brand" into their jingle: "I am stuck on Band-Aid brand / 'Cause Band-Aid's stuck on me." The old version of the jingle didn't have "brand" in it (and it scanned better). The stratagem will protect its brand, but it won't stop the rest of us from saying, "Damn. Got a paper cut. Where did you put the Band-Aids?"

okanaganer 4:01 PM  

It is just bizarre how my brain works. I got KOMODO DRAGON instantly from the clue (how????), and SKOPJE was a gimme cuz I was there 25 years ago, which gave me _______K_____K_ for the "city named for VP". I somehow instantly saw ALASKA would fit, and presto: FAIRBANKS. All in about 30 seconds.

Of course the rest of the puzzle took me another 49 minutes.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

Thanks for the last two thoughtful comments on the trademark issue, not the poster. I only wanted to point out that correct usage depends on context. Zipper made the transition from adjective to noun and was lost as a trademark. Freon® has not.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

Because I live in tornado alley, I first wrote in SHELTER for "It may provide closure in a tragedy"....I close the door of my underground SHELTER and wait for the tornado to PLOWINTO my house (What a tragedy!)

Norm 4:54 PM  

Just to chime in on something I know nothing about: "Freon, (trademark), any of several simple fluorinated aliphatic organic compounds that are used in commerce and industry. In addition to fluorine and carbon, Freons often contain hydrogen, chlorine, or bromine."

If it's good enough for the Encyclopedia Britannica, it's good enough for me.

Z 5:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 5:34 PM  

@No one in particular - Thanks. Buried pretty deep, and I won't use it as a synonym, but I really didn't think Shortz had it wrong. One can always hope, though.

@anon3:31 - Yes.

@Librarian grammarian - Yep.

Three and done. Sorry for the repost.

Michael 5:56 PM  

I was wondering what TSC was. Kept wanting to try TSA but that didn't work.

Other than that, I was pleased to get all of what was not an easy puzzle (even for a Saturday). Nice clues..

retired_chemist 6:07 PM  

Oh, gimme a break. There are several Freons. Really. "The most important members of the group have been dichlorodifluoromethane (Freon 12), trichlorofluoromethane (Freon 11), chlorodifluoromethane (Freon 22), dichlorotetrafluoroethane (Freon 114), and trichlorotrifluoroethane (Freon 113)." (Encyclopedica Britannica).

As used, Freon is an adjectival noun. No reason IMO that it cannot have a plural.

sanfranman59 6:14 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 6:45, 6:07, 1.10, 87%, Challenging
Tue 9:17, 8:15, 1.13, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:38, 9:44, 0.99, 47%, Medium
Thu 20:05, 16:30, 1.22, 84%, Challenging
Fri 15:50, 17:34, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium
Sat 29:40, 26:51, 1.10, 81%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:12, 3:50, 1.10, 85%, Challenging
Tue 5:21, 5:10, 1.04, 60%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:55, 5:36, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 11:50, 9:27, 1.25, 83%, Challenging
Fri 9:16, 10:00, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium
Sat 18:32, 17:01, 1.09, 71%, Medium-Challenging

I somehow managed to channel my inner Byron Walden with this puzzle. Of the 5 Saturdays by Byron in my spreadsheet, I've only finished one other (that of 7/13/2013) and that one took me over 44 minutes, more than twice my 21 minute Saturday average. In fact, when I saw Byron's byline, I decided to download the puzzle and solve it with Across Lite so I had the option of pausing the timer and coming back to it later. But I ripped through this one in 16:21, my 16th fastest Saturday in the 4+ years I've been recording my solve times. Strange. I wish I could bottle that success.

Mr. Benson 8:13 PM  

I loved this. I don't think I've ever rocked a medium-challenging Saturday as thoroughly as this one. I knew it was tough, and yet I killed it. I don't know how I did things like pull SKOPJE out of the dim recesses of my memory off the K alone, but I did. Fun, fun exercise for me.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Took a while but I finally got this one done with one mistake.
Had "LPD" for "LID".

My father was a US Navy Captain, and once had command of an LPD (Landing Post Dock?) that I probably misremember having a large "Flat Top" area on the back where helicopters could land.

This gave me "SPLENCER" which I assumed was a tip used by cake decorators (which my ex and her mother were).

Ya gotta laugh.

Nancy 1:04 PM  

If I hadn't cheated by looking up TR's VP and gotten FAIRBANKS, ALASKA, I would never have finished this puzzle. I barely would have started it. But I didn't Google the info; I looked it up in the encyclopedia. If I can't cheat via analog methods, I won't cheat at all. I am an honorable Luddite cheater!

Affable Carlease Mojos 1:08 PM  

Day late to the party (is it still on?!) but it took me three days to finish!!!!!

Stumped in the whole SW but wrote to Byron to congratulate him (LOVE him and his puzzles) and as I was writing, I suddenly got KABOOM and myMYMY
soon to be corrected and KABOOM! Done!

In addition to myMYMY, I tried dancedanceDANCE!

HOMELESSSHELTER started to look like HelterSkELTER

Yikes on NAPALM, did not know that, I associate it only with that terrible picture of the girl running in Vietnam.
Recently saw the uncropped version with casual soldiers standing by, etc even more disturbing.

Actually spent a day in SKOPJE, back when folks who needed to renew visas for another 3 months in Greece would take a train there, spend the night and come back in.
I'm sure I've told this story before, but post-earthquake modernization by Tito, it was farmland I gather. I saw Albanians with goats on two story escalators...and the theater was a grand facade, walked thru and it was folding chairs outside...
playing Jaws 2 with the sound turned down, no subtitles.
Oddest film experience in my life!

Loved all the Ks and the J and Z and X totally helped me solve!

Oops, that reminds me, running off to Scrabble tourney...hoping for better racks than BRNOMRAZ
(Hey, that's almost BRUNO MARS!)

Dirigonzo 2:23 PM  

After an extra-late (even for me) start last night I amazed WPP with my puzzle genius by dropping ACTFIVE into the grid at the outset - sadly, that was about the last thing I was able to do before retiring for the night with grid largely blank. As sometimes happens I awoke this morning to discover two things: (1)that the puzzle fairy had filled in the long answers at the bottom of the grid; and (2)I'm a lot smarter when I'm well-rested and sober than I am when I'm dead-tired and half in the bag. Building on WPP's contributions I was able to work my way back up the grid without much trouble at all. As the song says, "I get by with a little help from my friends".

Dolgo 3:08 PM  

I got it OK, but I still don't get "ens."

Dirigonzo 4:07 PM  

@Dolgo - NissaN, so the two ens are like it's bumpers, I guess?

dls 5:05 PM  

OH MY MY? Oh hell yes.

Dave 5:21 PM  

Started with Funeral/Forward for 1A/1D, then got to 15a and had to do some serious overwriting! Made it tougher than it really was, although it was on the Challenging end for me!

Anonymous 8:42 PM  

Terrific puzzle but very difficult. Finally finished and it is Saturday again!

spacecraft 11:48 AM  

Gotta count me among the DNFers today. BRNO, really? BRNO? How would a human mouth even SAY that? I have seen obscurity before, but OHMYMY. --Hey, shouldn't that be MY OH MY? With _RNO, I had no idea which vowel (!) to put in there, but I can tell you, I could have stared at that puzzle for ten years and never tried a B. Ridiculous. So I had _R_T for Dover soul; BRIT never occurred because of the "impossible" B. And with second in command, I miscounted and thought he was going for ANM. I see now the point of the clue for AIM, on the fringe of fair but uber-brutal. I guessed ARNO, leaving me with ARNT. Didn't make sense to me, but then neither does BRNO, so I just left it.

I wish DOYOUWANNADANCE had been clued via the original artist, Gene Chandler. I hate covers. Of all the great original stuff the Beach Boys did, it's a shame they had to be represented by a cover.

This one was tough every step of the way. I had the same starting point as OFL, with MOOR and RCMP. An ASIMOV fan, even I can't possibly know all the reams of stuff he wrote, "Gulliver" being one of those. But if I wanted LOVES, it pretty much had to be good ol' Isaac.

Most original two-way use of the J I've ever seen; that's a fun cross. I wish I'd gotten that left center section right. So close!

Old Al 2:10 PM  

I just have to join the FREONS debate. It seems to me that everyone's missing the point. It is the same as "less" versus "fewer." All of the examples quoted supporting the use of the plural refer to countable items: Cokes, Band Aids, Xeroxes. You can have fewer of these. But it seems to me that you can only have less Freon. (The references to the "bunch of Freons, each with a different but related chemical structure" seems a little esoteric even for the Saturday NYT.)

DMG 2:51 PM  

Well, I got the top 2/3 except for the capital of a place I probably couldn't find on a map, not helped by losing my Mind. But the bottom was a real no show. Lot of empty spaces. Just don't know the music that seems so well known by everyone else and thought the advisory group was the NEA. 'Nuff said! It's a beautiful day, so I'm off to,enjoy it!

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

Great puzzle, Mr. Walden. I found it easier to work from the bottom up. And, I would rate this a "challenge" in anybody's book. Thanks again.
Ron Diego 2:35 PST

Solving in Seattle 5:35 PM  

Wouldn't you say that there is a ton of ESPRITDECORPS in Rexville? Just asking.

When I filled in the NW and saw FREEASS--- I knew I was going to LOVE(S) Byron's puzzle. I was on his wavelength this Sat.

The clue for 34D just threw me. Asked Mrs @SiS what the tip for icing a cake was called. No help. Then SILENCER appeared. Doesn't get much better. And with TANGO in the puzzle, no less. Just watched "Assassination Tango" the other day. Such a good flick.

Nit: I didn't care for OHMYMY.

@Spacy, you crack me up every day.

If anyone can explain the clue and answer to 27A to me, IMYOURS.

Go Hawks!

Capcha: apedyin. I hope not!

Dirigonzo 7:36 PM  

*SPOILER ALERT* This comment refers to a clue/answer in the syndi-puzzle 5 weeks in the future - if your memory is sufficiently unimpaired that you might actually remember a comment that long, please do not read further.

@Old Al - Given your objection to the plural usage in this puzzle, you'll like the clue for FREON in the 11/9 puzzle better, I think (but of course there were some objections in the comments). It's great to hear your thoughts on the puzzle - I hope you'll chime in often!

Waxy in Montreal 7:38 PM  

@SiS, I think it refers to alternative ways of describing a country's residents such as IRAQ-I or CHIN-ESE. Pretty obscure though.

Must be on the same wavelength as constructor Byron Walden as I was able to race through this one. Started with gimmes JAWED, JUDEA, IBM and FAIRBANKSALASKA then it was off to the track. Probably had more trouble with the MANX/FLAX intersection than anything else. Clever clues for PORT and SKORT.

captcha = ngicapp, just how I pronounce nightcap after having one or two.

Solving in Seattle 8:02 PM  

@Waxy, thanks, that makes sense to me. Just couldn't suss it out.

For your ngicapp, try my Dynaiti. You'll get high.

Bananfish 12:26 PM  

A tough one. Really wanted DIAMONDVISION for "Large monitors". Just a 'Q' short of a pangram incidentally. Probably could have forced a 'Q' in at the 'B' in BUDS with minimal rework. QUDS, QUIT, AIT and BUNO would have done the trick, for example. QUDS is even topical these days, and BUNO is a type of Filipino wrestling.

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