Classic Northwest brewski / SAT 11-9-13 / Wishing Chair series creator / Eastern Woodlands native / Tandoori-baked fare / Breastplate of Athena / Nootropics more familiarly / Hognose snake / Cry frequently made with jazz hands

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Constructor: Michael Ashley

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SAC (20A: Eastern Woodlands native) —
[From wikipedia entry for "Sauk People]: The Sacs or Sauks are a group of Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands culture group. Their autonym isoθaakiiwaki, and their exonym is Ozaagii(-wag) in Ojibwe. The latter is the source of their names in French and English. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well it was all downhill from BUTT-DIALED (1A: Made a seat-of-the-pants error?), but it was still pretty good. Though it was going to be the easiest Saturday I've ever done, as I went from NW to SE with almost no resistance at all, but those other corners were much harder, so I ended up coming in fast but not super-fast. This one was easy to start because the 1- and 2-Down (BOTS, UNIT) were both gettable without crosses, setting up the initial BU- in BUTT-DIALED. The main problem here was coming out of that corner into the adjacent NE one. Everything broke down at SAC (20A: Eastern Woodlands native). I had SA- and couldn't imagine what kind of "native" fit the pattern. I thought maybe it was an animal, like a bird, but no letters seemed to fit. I *wanted* CONAN at 21D: TV show headed by a former writer for "S.N.L.," but SAC??? That's an anatomical structure, not a "native." I mean, look, I wouldn't have had any more luck with SAUK (never heard of this Native American tribe, ever), but SAC? People know that? Yikes. Also, what are VASTS (26D: Poetic expanses). I teach poetry—I have never taught of VASTS. VASTS have I encountered not. No VASTS encounterer, I. What the hell? Anyway, I eventually made my way into that corner via ENCOUNTERS (which were CLOSE at first, by the way), and despite JAW for GUM (11D: Where a canine sits?), managed to make the corner behave eventually.

Finished in the SW corner, where I had some friends (OLY, TROY), and some enemies (NANS!? DEBTEEEEEE?). Key to that corner was CAR DEALERS (28D: They use Blue Books), which ended up being a gimme off the CA-. I knew ENID BLYTON (29D: "The Wishing-Chair" series creator) from crosswords and from her depictions of golliwogs, a racist caricature I had never heard of until I looked into Blyton's work.

Enjoy your Saturday. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Hobbyist 7:43 AM  

Just want to be first but I found it to be quite hard. The Times puzzles are too pop culturing for me but I persevere.

Carola 7:50 AM  

TAKE A SEAT, MA'AM, and enjoy this LOVELY puzzle, where CASSIOPEIA meets ENID BLYTON, SMART PILLS are provided for those taking ESSAY TESTS, and the OLYmpic athlete is still IN ONE PIECE at the end of the BOBSLED RUN with its treacherous ICE. I liked this one a lot, from its poetic VASTS to the slangy NO SOAP.

Medium Saturday for me ( = finished; slow, but experienced no moments of hopelessness). BUTTDIALED was new to me, and I was slowed down by erasing NAan to write in "out of SORTS."

Yesterday's mood of CHOLER continues with IN BAD SORTS, SORE LOSER, IN A PET, and MOBS ON A RAMPAGE.

In the Memory Lane department, I remembered SCUT work from my husband's med school and internship days and SALOON from childhood evenings spent with Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty.

@Rex - I figured SAC would be hard for most people. It was easy for me as I happen to live near Prairie du Sac, WI (which is in Sauk County).

jae 7:57 AM  

Pretty easy for a Sat.  Easy-medium over all.  Zipped through the NW and SE, but had to work a bit for the rest.

Erasures: jaw before GUM which gave me wagS for 18a which I kinda liked.  Also, NAan before NANS (which I kinda didn't like)  and close and crash before BRIEF. 

Needed to guess again at the EGIS/SAC cross but this time a coin flip wouldn't help.  So, I went with Evan's "if you've seen it before" rule and it worked for EGIS.  I had no idea the Strategic Air Command was native to the Eastern Woodlands.

Fun Sat.  Any puzzle that leads off with BUTT DIALED has my vote.  Plus, it brought back memories of a '74 business trip to DC the week the Fanne Foxe/Wilber Mills TIDAL BASIN scandal hit the news.  So, liked it!

Milford 8:07 AM  

Thought I was sailing along pretty fast for a Saturday, but the SW bogged me down. Had CollEctoRS, before CAR DEALERS, and could not get the awkward IN BAD SORTS nor the ENID author. And I'm sure it's a legit variation, but NANS? It's naan.

Like @Rex, I had my canines in a jaw, which seemed perfectly fine with jIBE for a long time.

In the end I naticked at EGIn/nAC, making a wild guess.

BUTT DIALED and SORE LOSER were great, and I liked the Georg von TRAPP clue. They are making a remake of the movie for TV and there is no way on earth I'll be able to watch it.

Blue Stater 8:20 AM  

I taught English literature for 45 years and never encountered VAST as a noun. I would like to see one -- any -- citation of this usage.

OTOH I learned "buttdial." Hysterical. But this puzzle was just ooo-way-eee over the top.

Danp 8:20 AM  

Sacs? Heck, I never heard of the Eastern Woodlands.

Loren Muse Smith 8:36 AM  

Boy. I was sitting here waiting to see what Rex thought, hoping for a "challenging" rating. Talk about MEIN Kampf. Sheesh. Big ole dnf here. And I don't even regret finally googling to fill it in; I could have worked on this for days and never finished. Too many woes: CASSIOPEIA (seriously?), SMART PILLS, IN A PET, IN BAD SORTS (never heard that), TRAPP, UNOS, DENALI, ENID BLYTON, FREON, SCUT, ON SERVE, NO SOAP, OLY, DYS, EGIS, SAC, VASTS.

Plus my mind just wasn't being flexible, and on a Friday or Saturday, it needs to be able to let go of one line of thought and jump to a different. I could not get past:

"Dodge City" (which doesn't fit, but I bet I revisited that five times)
"in a bad mood" (fits beautifully)
"going crazy" (again – fits just fine)
"naan" ("fare" should've alerted me to the plural) Mornin', @Carola
"slalom" RUN (thinking maybe it's "slaalom" or "slalaam" because of salaam alaikum maybe?)
"test takers"
"diss" for GIBE (yeah, misspelled, I know)
"hugs" – I hate those awkward, anemic Forced Greet Hugs (@jae – loved your "wags!")
"grunt" work

FWIW, "accident reports" is a 15, and you can also stand "alone."

Think the PEP in PEPSI is the same PEP in dyspeptic?


So I was BRIEFly pleased to see "naan" and MAAM in the same grid. Oh well. That's probably why I was thinking slaalom.

@M & A – You can get a buddy for your pet pewit, Thucydides, and name her CASSIOPEIA.

@Carola – you are a master at seeing great pairs/ themes. I love your posts. They always make me think, "Wow. Why didn't I see those connections?"

Ok. I was all over the "50% nonunion" and loved it. Why is it that people complain when a word shows up in the grid as well as the clues? That never bothers me.

I can't bring myself to say BUTT DIAL. I always say "pocket" DIAL. I pocket dialed a friend once while I was driving, and she was treated to a performance of my harmony as I sang Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer." I always nail it, thank you very much.

Looking at the filled grid, I can agree it's LOVELY, (NANS notwithstanding). Nice job, Michael!

Over to The Stumper so Brad Wilbur can make me feel even more like an IMBECILE. . .

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Sac doesn't strike me as too obscure--the Sac and Fox Nation played a major role in Black Hawk's War, which in turn is remembered as the scene of Lincoln's only (and negligible) military experience before the Civil War. It doesn't seem any more obscure than knowing that Pontiac was part of the Ottawa Nation, which is something I've seen several times in crosswords. Indeed, I'd argue that the Sac are more famous in their own right than constructor-friendly groups like the Cree, Erie, and Otoe.

AliasZ 8:50 AM  

I have no idea what Rex said about this puzzle because now I intentionally avoid reading his write-up until after I submitted my comment.

Oh no, SEETO again?

Otherwise a great puzzle, tough but not unfair. I shot myself in the foot because I had "snub" for GIBE and "lavish" for LOVELY and was not about to give them up without a fight. That made a horrible mess of the NE corner until CONAN straightened me out. It was LOVELY of course, and GIBE.

I absolutely loved BUTTDIALED and BRIEF ENCOUNTERS but NANS, not so much. I also had NAan at first. My favorite was CASSIOPEIA. I am glad MEIN wasn't Kampf, but shouldn't the ENS clue be 50% of nonunion?

I never heard of ENID BLYTON, SCUT work or OLY, and had no idea that the anatomical SAC was native of the Eastern Woodlands.

@Carola, as always, love your comment.

On to the Brad Wilber's Saturday Stumper and Patrick Berry's Seven Sages in the WSJ.

Enjoy your weekend.

MetaRex 8:51 AM  

55 on the eseometer...SSNS and VASTS rated 3...mebbe I was grumpy to give IN BAD SORTS a 1.

More ESE this FRI and SAT than last week.

Enjoyed getting messed up trying to spell CASSIOPEIA...

August West 9:00 AM  

I guess there's always something to nitpick about, and y'all will be quick to remind that I'm certainly, um, fain to emptying all six right between the eyes now and again, but to say that this puzzle "was all downhill" after 1A is utterly ridiculous.

This is a masterful construction, with four triple stack 10's, a center grid-spanning arch piercing two of them, sparkly answer after sparkly answer, several grin-inducing clues, and remarkably clean fill considering the constraints. RETD/DYS/SSNS did take some of the shine off the SW, but considering what it supports, and the whole of this work being so much more than the sum of its parts, all I can say is, Bravo, Mr. Ashley! Bravo!

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

"Bqhatevwr" was one of the several nonsensical tweets that former senator Scott Brown blamed on "pocket tweeting," a close relative of butt-dialing, which is how the concept entered my consciousness. He claimed it was not drunk-tweeting.

Cascokid 9:09 AM  

Isn't France made up of VASTy fields? Henry V Prologue. With the V finally in place, VASTS was instantaneous.

Mohair Sam 9:15 AM  

Third day in a row with one letter wrong. Aaargh. The only beer we drink is Yuengling, and never heard of old ENID so we guessed an A at the end of 51A. Oh well.
Knew DENALI so SAC wasn't a problem. But shouldn't the clue end with (var.)? Sauk is correct, but SAC is acceptable.

Loved 1A, a modern day problem for sure. Lost a ton of time with outofSORTS, probably a better answer to the clue btw. And I thought CASSIOPEIA was Onomat's mother, who's this Andromeda?

With @Rex on VASTS. Where'd that come from? But hey, the puzzle was a good Saturday test - we really enjoyed.

Sir Hillary 9:31 AM  

Great puzzle, completing a very strong Thu/Fri/Sat sequence in my opinion.

Very proud to have finished this one unaided. I learned a bucketful of new things -- SAC, SMARTPILLS, NOSOAP, ENIDBLYTON, SCUT work. Unlike @Rex, the NW was actually the last to fall for me. Last letter in was the S at 20A -- I went through the alphabet twice before seeing an imaginary A above 9D, and (A)EGIS is a term I know.

Thank goodness for yesterday's PETS to help with today's INAPET.

NAan for NANS held me up for quite a while in the SW.

As someone who grew up in the west when many beers were more regional than they are today, I loved the OLY reference. "It's the water...and a lot more."

Question for the group...Does the clue for 54A really need a question mark?

@August West...FWIW, I read @Rex's "downhill" comment to be about his solving speed, not the puzzle itself.

Captcha number is 237...can't see that figure without thinking of The Shining.

Steve J 9:48 AM  

Tough for me to gauge this puzzle, as I made a complete mess of it. NE was the worst. Had JIBE instead of GIBE, which gave me JAW instead of GUM. WAGS instead of MOBS. Which led to BIG SLED RUN at 13D, which had me prepared to hate this puzzle for having quite possibly the worst description of a Winter Olympics feature ever. Having gibberish at 12D and a famous Greek pizzaeria (ARIS) at 16A finally got me to realize I'd totally bolloxed up that corner. (I also had SPOT work instead of SCUT work for a while in that region.)

SW was problematic, too, given that I had NAAN instead of NANS (I hate that spelling). Didn't want to believe that DEBTEE was a thing, and I found 64A to be a case mismatch with the clue (one person fills out one job application, and one person has just the one SSN). Never mind that CAR DEALERS fit in just fine with my missteps there. Actually, that happened in both corners, where key long answers worked just fine with my mistakes. I don't know if that was an intentional misdirection, but it was fiendish nevertheless.

I don't know whether to be happy or sad that I can now drop in IN A PET without batting an eye.

I probably could have gotten SAC had it been spelled in its other form, sauk. There are two towns in Minnesota named after the tribe (Sauk Rapids and Sauk Centre - which, coincidentally, is where Sinclair Lewis is from).

My struggles aside, there's a lot to like here. BUTT DIALED is fantastic (and one can go downhill from there and still be in a good spot; go downhill from the peak of DENALI, and you're still really high up a really impressive mountain), and ON A RAMPAGE was great, too. Liked the twin blue book clue/answer combos.

Good long fill, tough cluing, the wrecked hull of my puzzle sitting alongside the road smoldering away. Yeah, that sounds about right for a good Saturday challenge.

thursdaysd 10:24 AM  

Enid Blyton did not invent the golliwog character. See and especially

Don't know about VASTS but I inferred it from Shakespeare's "vasty deeps".

jberg 10:34 AM  

I thought we were going to have a mini-theme with BUTT dialed and BRIEF encounters, but I can't fit SMART PILLS into it. (Btw, I hadn't heard of them -- are they pills to make you smart, or are they pills that are "smart" in the way they target release of their active ingredients).

@Loren, I'm pretty sure the answer to your PEPSI/DYSPEPTIC question is yes. I think the name of the soda is supposed to imply that it's good for your digestion, whether or not there is any actual pepsin in the recipe.

@SteveJ, we used to stop in Sauk Center MN for a break while driving from Boston to Montana; it always amazed me that they took pride in being the model for Gopher Prairie, a town Lewis didn't seem to think much of.

I hated NANS, vut VASTS is OK with me -- I'm sure I have encountered the word, and in a poem, at that, though I'd be hard pressed to name the poem.

My canine, to my embarrassment, was sitting on a rUg for some time -- until jIBE made me see that that was wrong. Since by then it was too late to put in jaw, I figured it out.

I spent the last two days in Akron, where the NYT is not readily available (at least, nowhere near the City Center Hotel, where they put us up.) So it's nice to be back!

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

This was a LOVELY (or in my case superb) puzzle.
Got BUTT DIALED off of BOTS and was so amazed I had to put the puzzle down and pour myself a glass of Zin.. Then I plunked CASSIOPEIA right in that downtown corner and had to take a deep breath and another sip. Went over to visit the West and by golly ENID BLYTON invited me into her fold. By this time I was getting pretty high so I put this to bed.
Finished this puppy up and thanked both my baby sister for the BUTT DIALs she always does and for my brother boring me to tears as a young un with his constellation and Greek mythology stories.
I did rather have my canine sit on my lap instead of GUM and I would have loved to have seen 22A clued as "Who to use to piss off Merkel."
Nootropics and Zin...yeah!

Norm 10:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Norm 10:45 AM  

VASTS was disconcerting, but Anonymous 8:36 is spot-on about SAC. This is another instance when Rex rants solely because of his own ignorance. I don't think SAC is any stranger than the obscure (to me) rappers who appear with some frequency. I'm pretty sure the Sac were bad guys in one or more James Fenimore Cooper novels (or maybe I'm thinking Ernest Thompson Seton). Enjoyed this puzzle a lot, especially the repeated Blue Book clues. Memories of law school and buying used cars. What fun!

Anonymous 10:51 AM  


Man, this was hard for me. It took me 55 minutes. I couldn't get started inthe NW event though none fo them were that hard. I wanted 18-Across to be "wagS," pretty bad, but not half as bad as I wanted 1-Down to be "jaw" and 27-Down to be "outofSORTS." That right there got me well into my second cup of coffee before I could declare victory.

I hate to quibble, because I can't make these, but shouldn't NANS have been clued as a girl's name instead of the alternatives spelling of "naan"? I've never seen that.

But I have seen "Into The Vast," Blue Stater:

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

This puzzle sucked... Nans? Debate? Gibe? In bad sorts? Please....puzzles like this put me in bad sorts. And that is the first (and last) time I'll ever use that phrase.

AliasZ 11:16 AM  

Notes on the margin:

- If those PILLS are so dang SMART, let them take those dang ESSAY TESTS.
- Auto pour un Royal ou un Ange, pour exemple: CAR DE AL'ERS
- Opposite of the subtractor is the ADDER
- Ball supporter on its introductory appearance at a gala: DEB TEE
- Accept food served on Scandinavian airline: TAKE SAS EAT
- A Chilean simpleton is called an SA LOON
- Orientation meetings and coming face to face with men's underwear

And now, from the ridiculous to the sublime. Let's listen to Cantata No. 199, "MEIN Herze schwimmt in Blut" (my heart swims in blood) by J.S. Bach. Let it play in the background while going about your daily activities. It is the saddest piece of music I know, but if you listen to it, you'll feel better about your life and the world around you all day long. Trust me.

Now you SIMI, now you don't.

Mohair Sam 11:16 AM  

@steve j: Fun post. Had the same problem in Northeast, but fortunately I always solve with my wife. When she came down to breakfast I told her I was off to a pretty good start on the puzzle. She looked over my shoulder and said, "If you're spelling gibe with a 'J' your start probably ain't all that good."

Saved a ton of heartache.

Glimmerglass 11:16 AM  

Medium Saturday for me. The NE was the lst to fall, for resons listed by others. I was also held up for a while by the wrong 37A I had enough of the downs to be sure the answer was going to be insurENCe claims. Ah well, it got fixed eventually. (That's why I work in pencil.) Loved seeing BUTT DIALED (a very modern error!), but I had to have several crosses before the light dawned.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:17 AM  

Fine puzzle, which I found to be rather challenging, I really wanted 11 A to be SNAP* but didn't put it in, so my only write-over was at 27 D, OUT OF SORTS before IN BAD SORTS.

*My favorite snap is, "Your mama's so old, she sat behind Jesus in the third grade." For more on the subject, I reluctantly and with forewarning refer to The Urban Dictionary.

Evan 11:22 AM  

A tale of two puzzles for me: Ridiculously easy for about 75% of it, ridiculously hard for the rest of it -- specifically the southwest corner, where I think I spent 3x times as long as I did everywhere else. After I put down RETD., DYS, SSNS, and SALOON, I wrote in OUT OF SORTS, and that stopped me cold for a long, long time. Tried both CLOSE and TENSE (?) before BRIEF ENCOUNTERS. Tried NAAN and URDU (?!!) before NANS. Had no idea on what Blue Books have to do with CAR DEALERS. ENID BLYTON I've heard of, but couldn't name a single book she's written. OLY was a total mystery.

I only got out of the jam by seeing FREON and figuring that it had to be BRIEF at 37-Across. But damn, that was frustrating. Both IN BAD SORTS and DEBTEE gave me a "Seriously?" reaction, as did VASTS and EGIS in the northeast. Doesn't EGIS require the dreaded "Var." in the clue? It's AEGIS, no?

I'll join others in loving BUTT-DIALED, though. I think today's smartphones are supposed to prevent that from happening since you have to "unlock" them first when you turn them on. Of course, it'll never be a problem for me because I put my phone in my front pocket, not my butt pocket. @Loren, do you do the same?

Gwinns 11:29 AM  

Also came down to the crossing at EGIS/SAC. Correctly guessed the S because I knew EGIS and SAC were both words, and putting any other letter there to make those two answers even *more* obscure would be unforgivable.
Thankfully I was right.

retired_chemist 12:05 PM  

Nice puzzle, but a bit harder for me than usual.

The SE was the hardest part. DEBTEE? Really? 37A was close ENCOUNTERS. Hand up for NAan. IN BAD SORTS is an odd turn of phrase to my ear. The one I expected, and kept too long, was out of SORTS. FREON compressor jars somehow. FREON is the working fluid, used by the compressor to effect heat transfer. That said, Google indeed thinks there are such things, so who am I to question?

BUTT DIALED was my favorite answer, as well as everyone else's. We seem to have had a lot of MORONS, IMBECILES, and IDIOTS lately. In the grid, I mean......

Thanks, Mr. Ashley.

Sydney 12:06 PM  

Someone asked for an use of vasts..
"Across the azure spaces
Athwart the vasts of sky"
Clinton Scollard

Z 12:40 PM  

In reading the comments my first thought is that a whole bunch of us need to learn how to read. Rex's "rant" on SAC is not a rant, it's an observation like many of us make in these comments. Rex didn't know SAC, @LMS didn't know CASSIOPEIA, @AliasZ didn't know ENID BLYTON. It slowed down Rex's solve the same way my ignorance slows down my solve. Jesus F Christ people, observations aren't complaints, aren't rants, aren't insults. Learn. To. Read. I get really tired of people complaining about Rex when they clearly are reacting to their own prejudices instead of actually reading what the man writes(see - the above - that's a rant).

Anywhoo - NANS and the A-less EGIS both slowed me way down. Also tried printER before STAPLER.

If anyone ever wonders why people adore Elvis Costello, it is that the guy who teams up with The Roots to make Wise Up Ghost, wrote the bitterly political Tramp the Dirt Down and the heartbreaker Alison is also the guy who can record a song like Chewing GUM. "Take that chewing GUM out of your ears."

Beer Rating - OLY, of course.

Anoa Bob 12:41 PM  

"MA'AM, thou LOVELY VASTS of sinewy, sensuous thighs,
have put my BOTS ON A RAMPAGE.
Cleave to me now my love,
lest my SAC languish IN BAD SORTS."

Yup, VASTS is a POC (plural of convenience) for the ages, but it is E Pluribus Unum in this puzz. The others are less grating on grammatical sensibilities, i.e., they are plausible as free-standing plurals, but they accomplish the same thing---increasing letter-counts to make it easier to fill the grid.

Some that stood out to me were BRIEF ENCOUNTERS, CAR DEALERS, SITCOMS, and the two-for-one helper-square S's at the ends of ESSAY TEST/EN & EAT/SMART PILL.

I've never seen nor constructed a puzzle without a POC or two or three in it. For me it's like with abbreviations, partials, etc. A few are to be expected, but too many can adversely impact the overall quality of the puzzle and the pleasure of the solve.

Unknown 12:57 PM  

Mary On Easter Morning

Woeful nights, the pure gold of Mary's faith
Blazoned the brighter for the stillborn dread
That roiled inside like a nether wraith.
That golden dawn, purled sunbeams rayed the way
God's gleam lights Mary's face: From end to end
Of colour's spectrum. It was a Sunday
When death and doom were destroyed and the rend,
Wrought by sin, was grafted over with gold.
Sunrise in Mary's heart arrayed splendours
Across the vasts of space. Now as of old,
The Spirit of Wisdom richly renders
The Easter bonanza in Eucharists,
Sun-gilded morrows and scintillant mists.

James Mullaney

Charlene 1:01 PM  

WTELF is a Unos???

Unknown 1:09 PM  

Pizzeria Uno.

Steve J 1:11 PM  

@Charlene: UNOS = Pizzeria Uno from Chicago, which also has a chain of licensed restaurants in much of the country. It's commonly known as "Uno's".

@Z: Great rant.

Unknown 1:11 PM  

Uno Chicago Grill, or more informally as Unos, is the title for a franchised pizzeria restaurant chain under the parent company Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation. Ike Sewell opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943. Wikipedia

Rex Parker 1:17 PM  

Oh, Z, you beautiful, hopeful, naive bastard.


dk 1:17 PM  


I was in a good mood as I penned in a a bad mood for 27D. My new astronomer app resulted in a gimmie for 60A. STAPLER was a puzzler as I had an a for the e in IMBECILE (stupid is as stupid does).

INAPET is a LOVELY phrase I have not used in some whiles and VASTS while strained was not a shock.

All told a great use of 35 minutes on this gray Saturday here in Western WI.

Off to SEETO a hike in the woods.

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) Thanks Mikey.

Z 1:24 PM  

@Rex Parker - I have Dutch and Spanish in my heritage. Tilting at windmills is in the genes. But "beautiful?"

Aegis Cardealer Minnesotas 1:24 PM  

Hand up for JAW and misspelling GIBE.

And ows (one wrong square...ows!) for OLe, as I should learn to drink while reading racist writers, I guess.

Mess of CASSIOPEIA spelling as my REEL was gape, then Rapt.

Was in SAuk Rapids this summer, didn't realize it was a native American name, which makes sense for this Minnesota gal 40 yrs later!
In my head, i jumped to the conclusion that SAC must be where SACramento comes from...but in the light of day, I see it must be SACRAMENTo. I always am taken slightly by surprise when I realize that names like Corpus Christie (sp?) and Sacre Coeur and San Salvador and Santa Fe are religious in origin.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think everything is from a bastardization of an Indian dialect.

Those of us whose names start with A are frequent recipients of BUTTDIALing...that was a super fun way to start!
But(t) superhard for me to see as I had ..TTD... And assumed I had an error.

Those stacks were magnificent, I loved the two Blue Book answers (@Evan, if no one has explained, Blue Book is where you look up the value of a used car... Watching Judge Judy three times a day occasionally pays off!)

Anyway, there DOES seem to be lots of SCHNOOKS, IMBECILES, IDIOTS, CHOLER, INAPET etc things back to back. And I always blame that in part for unconsciously setting off Rexrants.

Thanks for the pep-py explanation!

Totally cool and classy to go from BUTTDIALED to CASSIOPEIA. Sums up the exact reason I love the puzzle!

Questinia 1:25 PM  

☆ SAC ☆

~ *NOT* EASTERN but MID-WESTERN~ (i wiki-ed).

Otherwise liked the puzzle a good deal.

Two final areas of Natique: Y in BLYTON and S in ☆ SAC ☆. Flipped the sou and was Vegas lucky on both.

Had SOAP for 56D Apothecary Item and for Uh-uh had NOnOno, then NO DOn't then NOnOno again, before getting 56D VIAL and the puzzle's subsequent reply of NO SOAP.

I think @ Loren is spot on. One must have a flexibility of mind (e.g. VASTS) unless it's about...

☆ SAC ☆

~ *NOT* EASTERN but MID-WESTERN~ (i wiki-ed).

NB: I'd gladly stand corrected

GILL I. 1:34 PM  

Oh good lord...The comments are priceless today...
@Z - Your rant is "l'un d'un genre."
@Anoa Bob. I'm going to frame your poem and give it to my husband!!!
@Rex. I'm still giggling!!!

Unknown 1:37 PM  

"Eastern Woodlands" is more of a term than indicator of geography. The Sauks are from Wisconsin, which is in the mid-west, but they are a part of the "Eastern Woodlands" cultural area, as defined below.

The Eastern Woodlands is a cultural area of the indigenous people of North America. The Eastern Woodlands extended roughly from the Atlantic Ocean to the eastern Great Plains, and from the Great Lakes region to the Gulf of Mexico, which is now the eastern United States and Canada.[1] The Plains Indians culture area is to the west; the Subarctic area to the north.

You're not wrong, but you're not right either 1:39 PM  

The Eastern Woodlands included what is now called the "mid-west."

DigitalDan 1:57 PM  

Got through it, but too many fouls for me to consider it easy or even medium:

You wouldn't say "breads." I think of Nan or Naan as a collective noun. Foul.

With Retired_chemist on Freon Compressor. Nobody really says that. Ever. Despite the few Google results whose exceptions prove the rule.

"In bad sorts?" That one puts me out of sorts.

Ugh. But I like 'em all.

Lewis 1:58 PM  

Had to come back to the puzzle a couple of times, but as they say, [times][times][times] is the charm.

So putting "brewski" in the clue is enough to indicate that the answer is an abbreviation?

Felt solid to me today, a quality Saturday puzzle. Tough cluing, with the tough answers having enough untough crosses.

I skip M-W 2:12 PM  

DNF because of gum. Don't eat pizza, so didn't think of Uno's, nor mob. Otherwise, sailed through, knowing sac, as in sac and fox — algonquian so originally eastern — (major discovery on Wikipedia: Sauk language has only 14 phonemes. x-word in it would be interesting, but hardly anyone knows it now, it seems. too bad. ) also got butt dialed, enid blyton, cassiopeia, etc. fun.

okanaganer 2:16 PM  

Probably like @Z, I come here hoping for an entertaining writeup from Rex about some detail in the puzzle. "No VASTS encounterer, I. What the hell?" makes me chuckle. Plus, the Firefox spell checker doesn't like "encounterer", which is also funny. Rant on Rex!

Loved BUTT DIALED. I came home once to an extremely long message on my answering machine: my brother and his girlfriend in their car, discussing the hike they had just done, plus some intimate personal comments. I called him and had a lot of fun quoting word for word from that conversation. Took him about ten minutes to figure it out.

Questinia 2:30 PM  

@ Everett Wolf, @ You're not wrong, but you're not right either

Thank-you. It was that capital W in Woodlands that indicated a specifically defined entity that I saw but semi-ignored.

Norm 2:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Norm 2:43 PM  

I will now go impale myself on a sharp object (see what I did there?) for having the audacity to refer to Rex's "complaint" about SAC as a rant.

I appreciate his critique of puzzles. I think there is a difference between his insightful critiques of structure, clues, and the like, on the one hand, and his gripes, on the other. Rant/complaint. Tomato/tomato.

Happy Saturday all. Maybe Cal can win today. Not likely. End of non-rant.

Mette 3:19 PM  

One of the reasons I enjoy reading Rex is that his mind is on a very different wavelength than mine, so his experience is interesting.
My Yankee was a Dutchman who became a Union man and gape or gawp (!) made for some work in the SE. Loved the clue for ONSERVE. Felt good about getting ENIDBLYTON from the crosses and moved north to work with diss (hello @Loren), trying ski-something and wondering what nuns had to do with blue books - Sister? So, like @Sir Hilary, I finished in the NW and BUTTDIALED was one of the last to fall. Truly LOVELY. Misread the Woodlands clue, so plopped in the S as my final entry assuming SAC was some sort of plant.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Maybe it's just me, but shorts has been throwing crappy curves lately.

Essay tests do not use blue books. Test takers do.

No soap? Give me a break.

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

Essay tests use blue books the same way SAT tests use bubble sheets.

Unknown 4:19 PM  

Med Saturday for me. I made two mistakes that took a bit of time to sort out. closeENCOUNTERS at 37A and IOO PERCENT at 12D (which worked at a few of the crosses)

Intersting fact to no one else but me - The financial statements that insurance companies are required to file with the states that regulate them are color coded depending on the type of insurance the company is licensed to write. I work at a life insurance company and we have to file what is commonly referred to as the 'blue book'. Used to be that everyone would have a copy on their shelf. Of course, now, filings are done electronically and actual blue books are rare to see. But even the electronic files are still referred to as the blue book. So, there's a third blue book.

@Sir Hillary - 54A does not need a ?. I had the same thought.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Learned of Sac and Fox tribes in jr. High Iowa History years ago.

Mike Rees 4:41 PM  

There's nothing as disheartening as slogging through a puzzle that I DNF, coming here to see what Rex thought of it and finding it rated "easy-medium". I consider myself an intermediate solver, and this was by NO means "easy-medium". EGIS, DENALI, SAC, GIBE, UNOS, as well as the NE downs being impossible for me with none of those crosses to draw from. Didn't finish, although I was pretty satisfied with getting the rest of the puzzle with no errors.

DeeJay 4:42 PM  

I misspelled gibe as jibe. Big mistake. Grew the northeast off of that error, including mis-entries JAW, BIG SKI AREA, SWANKY, REMOTE. Thank goodness I use a pencil on Saturday.

DeeJay 4:45 PM  

Cal was looking ok until ten minutes ago!

michael 4:47 PM  

I kept jibe and jaw to the very end and had wags for too long. Ended up wondering what wobs were and why I had never heard of a pizza place called anos.

Matthew G. 5:10 PM  

Had a triple-error for a long time in the NE: I had JIBE, JAW, WAGS, and was basically sure all three were right. Eventually saw the error of my ways, though.

But nothing could help me at the crossing of ENID BLYTON and OLY. First tried OLU and BLUTON, then settled on OLE and BLETON. Totally uninferrable Natick in an otherwise LOVELY puzzle.

ANON B 6:31 PM  

Am I the only one who has never
heard of nootropics? I couldn't
even pronounce it until I looked
it up.
And by the way, my spellchecker
doesn't think it's a word.

Blue Stater 6:44 PM  

@Anonymous, 10:51 a.m.:

I should have formulated my observation more carefully. And I should have googled VASTS first. However, even Scrabblefinder and other cheat sheets kind of fudge the question of VAST (which as your citation shows can occur as a literary noun) versus VASTS, which can be formed according to the rules of English word construction but, as far as I can tell, anyway, doesn't occur in the language. That's another WS habit I don't care for. Just because you can form a word doesn't mean it actually exists. I think this is another flaw in a puzzle that had quite a few (almost but not quite redeemed by BUTTDIALED, I am bound to say).

Anonymous 6:54 PM  


Just because Z is carrying water for you doesn't make him beautiful. He's kind of a creep and certainly way too full of himself. So are you.

Dirigonzo 7:04 PM  

I absolutely crushed this Saturday puzzle (in relative terms that apply only to me). Started out by filling in all of the downs in the NE with no crosses whatsoever and cruised in leisurely fashion through the grid in more or less clock-wise fashion to finish with the EGIS/SAC cross as a total "Hail Mary". Hey, it's Saturday - I'll take my victory any way I can get it.

sanfranman59 7:11 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 6:18, 6:07, 1.03, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:56, 8:15, 1.08, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:03, 9:44, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Thu 20:50, 16:44, 1.25, 85%, Challenging
Fri 20:49, 19:17, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 26:24, 26:51, 0.98, 46%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:58, 3:46, 1.05, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:12, 5:09, 1.01, 53%, Medium
Wed 5:32, 5:37, 0.99, 45%, Medium
Thu 12:15, 9:45, 1.26, 83%, Challenging
Fri 11:29, 11:12, 1.03, 56%, Medium
Sat 16:35, 17:01, 0.97, 41%, Medium

Prayers and positive thoughts to the victims in the Philippines and vicinity.

Robso 8:09 PM  

Easy/medium? Haw haw!!
Had "naan" for "nans." Did not finish that corner. Enid Blyton?? She's right up there with Margot Bargeton, am I right?
I only liked the two blue book clues.
I must be an imbecile.

LaneB 8:17 PM  

Did pretty well for a Saturday but still took a DNF because of a JAW/JIBE cross and never havIng heard of either BUTTDIALED or BOTS? BUTTDIALED? Horsehockey!!
Nice to get most of it, however.

Elle54 8:34 PM  

Don't the canines come from roof of mouth, not the jaw? So then Gum has to be right. Or are there lower canines?

600 10:21 PM  

I so apologize for asking about yesterday's puzzle today--but I'm a day behind, almost two days behind. I'm so late I'm afraid no one will come to my rescue.

Usually someone else has asked my question by the time I get to the blog, but not today, which makes me feel really stupid. I can't figure out what the heck DOASIDO is. If it's Do si do, the square dancing instruction, I can't find DOASIDO as an alternate spelling anywhere.

But if that's what it is, okay, I guess, but where does that spelling come from?

Anyone out there?

Milford 10:30 PM  

Not a silly question, @600. It's DO AS I DO, as in a demonstration that requests one does the same thing as the demonstrator is doing it.

Hope that helps.

Milford 10:40 PM  

@Elle54 - we mammals have both upper and lower canines - you may just be thinking of the upper ones because they can be more pronounced. And I guess it depends on your definition of jaw, but the maxilla is often called the upper jaw.

retired_chemist 11:02 PM  

@ Anon 6:54 - Making anonymous snarky comments about people is WAY creepier and fuller of your anonymous self than anything Z or Rex said.

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Anonymous 8:46 AM  


Thanks for your thoughts. Did you mean making snarky comments anonymously? Or did you think the comment was anonymous?

pdplot 8:57 AM  

Inapet? I thought we were through with crossword puzzle words. Did anyone you know ever use that phrase? I'm 80 years old & I never heard of it.Loved buttdialed though. I can just see it.

600 9:02 AM  

@Milford--I don't know how to thank you enough! I got it in my head that it was a demonstration of square dancing and I could not for the life of me parse DO AS I DO.

I got up this morning to check this blog immediately, and there was the answer. I can stop obsessing. Thank you again.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Could someone explain the 50% nonunion answer to me? I still don't get it. Thanks

Bob Kerfuffle 3:15 PM  

Half of the letters in "nonunion", or 50%, are the letter "N" or "EN"; thus "ENS."

Milford 5:08 PM  

You're very welcome!

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

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Phil 5:20 PM  

Went down the garden path in NE corner:

JAW for GUM,

No joy!

Unknown 12:43 AM  

air compressor dealer
Thanks for sharing informative blog.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I'm gonna have to agree with the folks complaining about Michael's "rants." I can just picture him at a small schoolhouse in the West with a long switch in his right hand: The Village Schoolmarm.

Ron Diego 9:40 AM PST 12/14/13

spacecraft 12:43 PM  

DNF, the natick at 51a. I have no idea who ENID BL_TON might be, nor, not being from the "northwest," what classic brewskis might be quaffed there. I just put in an A.

OK, we get it, a "PET" means being upset. Enough already. And what in the WORLD is "SCUT" work??

My ENCOUNTERS were close before being BRIEF. INBADSORTS?? Who ever said that? Out of sorts was a lock-in for me, till I just couldn't reconcile it with the long across. For a while there I thought it might be thIEFENCOUNTERS; certainly there are enough pickpockets around to justify that. Come to think of it, INBADSORTS is so bad it deserves the spacecraft flag.

The other writeover was in the NE, with jIBE, jaw and wagS. I thought: Big ski RUN? Finally, please explain to me what ANOS has to do with a "Popular pizza place," formally or not.

DMG 3:07 PM  

Some of this was a fun solve, pleased to work out STAPLER and BUTTDIALED, and smiled when I figured out CASSIOPEIA. On the other hand, I joined those who were frustrated with the SW corner. Tried "angry" and "close" ENCOUNTERS, but never got the right one. Not helped by NAan, a writer I've only briefly heard of, and the awful INBADSORTS. Who says that? Also made the jIBE/jaw error, which left the NE looking frazzled, but never sorted it out. Probably should have gotten MOBS, but aNOS sounded as good as anything for the pizza place.

Captcha: donsoc, do that enforce donning shoe.

@Ginger. You know a lot more about this than I do, but, even though i got it, I doubt this use of ONSERVE. I tried looking it up, but couldn't find anything relevant. Help.

DNG 3:11 PM  

BEFORE donning shoe! Spell check master struck again!

Papa John 4:52 PM  

@spacecraft - I don't know what ANOS has to do with a pizza place either, but the answer to 16 A is UNO'S.

Mama John 4:56 PM  


scut (plural scuts)

Distasteful work; drudgery.  

(slang, medicine) Some menial, common unfinished task left for medical students, or some clinically useful training.

Solving in Seattle 7:27 PM  

I gotta say I get a kick out of this blog's comments. My only neg are the snipes from Anonymice.

@DMG, loved your capcha definition!

I was outofSORTS before I was INBADSORTS, which I've never heard before.
Also, my nootropics were first SMARTdrugS. Got PILLS on crosses.
I was NOtgood before NOSOAP.

The two long "Blue book" clues were almost givens w/o crosses. The Kelly BB was the used car bible and I wore out a million blue books on essay tests in law school.

I knew of four people fired for what they said in their rental car after leaving their CEO's house after dinner. Someone BUTTDIALED his number (last number called on the way to his house to get directions) and he listened in for their ride back to their hotel. A strong case for a clam shell.

Seahawks at NY Giants tomorrow. Go Hawks!

Capcha: ousicgeu. A really bad Greek dish?

Dirigonzo 8:51 PM  

@SiS - that's a great BUTTDIALED story. Someday I'm going to write the full story of the time my van called home to rat out my older son for having passengers in violation of his probationary licence, alluded to in this post on my blog.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

A good puzzle, but the clues could have been better. 1-A and 47-A were particularly clever, but like many people, I had problems in the SW and NE corners. I've never seen "naan" spelled with one "a" or "Sauk" spelled "Sac", and either of these could have had clues based on different meanings. There are no Unos in my state, so 16-A didn't help me. I went with "jaw" for 11-D which led to "wags" for 18-A. I did like the use of the same clue for 14-D and 28-D, but that's about the only thing I got in that quadrant.

Anonymous 1:40 AM  

yeah, pretty racist puzzle, all in all... Charlie's land? Gimme a break!

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