1996 Rhett Akins country hit / SAT 4-5-14 / Cro-Magnon orphan of literature / Debut Peter Tosh album rallying cry for pot smokers / Internet traffic statistics company / Fictional home five miles from Jonesboro / Singer with 1996 triple-platinum album Tidal / Historical figure aka Marse Robert / Lodging portmanteau / While all artists are not chess players all chess players are artists

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Constructor: Ashton Anderson and James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (also possibly anywhere from Medium to Challenging, depending on possible pop culture potholes) 

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ALEXA (9D: Internet traffic statistics company) —
Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com which provides commercial web traffic data. Founded as an independent company in 1996, Alexa was acquired by Amazon in 1999. Its toolbar collects data on browsing behavior and transmits it to the Alexa website, where it is stored and analyzed, forming the basis for the company's web traffic reporting. As of 2013, Alexa provides traffic data, global rankings and other information on 30 million websites, and its website is visited by over 8.8 million people monthly. (wikipedia)
• • •

Ah, a nice, palate-cleansing 72-worder with delightful, fresh fill. I needed this. I think this one skews somewhat young, somewhat slangy, and therefore somewhat might annoy somewhat people. Somewhat. But I really liked it, and despite some pretty tough patches and tricky cluing, I managed to move through it with no significant snags. Worst hold-up was probably in the MA BELL / ALEXA section of the puzzle, there in the NE. MA BELL is very toughly clued (8D: Parent company?). And ALEXA … Well, in retrospect, I have heard of ALEXA, but while solving the puzzle, I had no idea. Also, I mysteriously had AYLA as AYER (?), so thank god for I GOT YOU and LILT, which were the only things I could throw up into that section at first, but which ended up being just enough for me to see "LEGALIZE IT" (16A: Debut Peter Tosh album, and a rallying cry for pot smokers). Very nice to cross that answer with REEFER, by the way. Less nice to cross REEFER with FER … but we'll let that slide (mostly).

Taught a lot of sonnets this semester, so at 17A: Scheme for the start of a sonnet, I was like "Well, it's ABBA or ABAB … AB-something, so just write in AB-." And I did. And that was enough for me to get HABANERO (2D: Certain chili), and off I went. I have a Gay TALESE book on the shelf right behind me (I once directed a thesis on the New Journalism), so no problem there. I wanted 32A: U.S. Open champion whose last name is a toy to be one name. One last name. Also, a tennis player. But KITS was a gimme, and TOM KITE came soon after. Got stuck at the exact halfway point (with everything north of the central diagonal filled in, up and around to ROTH / LORNE). Looked at timer and it said 4-something. High 4s. But I couldn't get any crosses, so I was faced with jumping into the abyss. Figured I wouldn't break 10. But then I got AEROBE straight off. Then ORR and ENRICH, and then I was off again. Biggest problem toward the end was unpacking "LUCKY ME," which seemed to take forever. Getting PATTY CAKE (great clue—44A: It involves hand-to-hand coordination) made getting into SE easy, despite my having no idea what CONEYS are (besides rabbits) (45D: Carnival items served with chili). Finished in the mid-8s, without even seeing the clue for PEELINGS (37D: Some kitchen detritus).

[She solves crosswords too. For real. "That's usually how I write a song. I usually have the hook or the chorus before anything else, and I don't know what it's about. And it's like doing a crossword puzzle for however long it takes, trying to figure out the theme of the puzzle.”]

Despite never having heard of CONEYS or "SHE SAID YES," and despite half-forgetting AYLA, I fared pretty well. No need to know or even be familiar with all the pop culture in a puzzle in order to take it down. If people had trouble with this one, I'm guessing it was in and around FIONA APPLE, or in and around PRIMAL URGE (which had a hard/ambiguous clue—5A: Drive to drink, e.g.). Lastly, big ups to the clue on DOOFUS (41D: Tool). I don't think of those words as precisely synonymous ("DOOFUS" implies a kind of affable idiocy, where "Tool" implies at least a soupçon of dickishness), but still, discovering that "Tool" was idiomatic made me laugh.

Check you later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Mark 12:02 AM  

Tough and fun.

Mark 12:04 AM  

Picking up on the topic broached late yesterday: in my opinion, googling in order to "solve" the puzzle is a travesty, an abomination even. I much prefer binging :)

jae 12:07 AM  

Just about perfect for a Sat.  Crunchy but doable with a boatload of zip.  I mean the NE alone has LEGALIZE IT over DOBE crossing REEFER.  With due respect to M&A, I'm all FER it!   Unfortunately "In my humblE" fit 18a so I did a lot of staring until I GOT YOU surfaced.   So, NW easy, NE tough,  and the South easy-medium,  medium over all, maybe?   No 15 stacks, no real dreck, nice challenge, liked it a lot!

Did not know ALEXA, did know FIONA, and I have a daughter Rex's age and this one skewed just fine for me.

Moly Shu 12:16 AM  

Wow, this was great. Anything with Peter "The Hardest" Tosh in it I'm gonna like. Of course LEGALIZEIT went straight in as did YING and KENOBI and Jason Kidd's school. Had two-alarm for the chili which caused some problems. Sorted it out with INERT and Mr. Kite. Really liked the 2 "the end" clues

Legalize it
And don't criticize it
Legalize it
And I will advertise it

WHOA!!! That was awesome

Steve J 1:30 AM  

Absolutely loved this. Lively, fresh, contemporary, zippy, and a great sense of fun and playfulness. After yesterday's slog, this was a very welcome change of pace.

Found this to be easy (I'm still at a point where not having to resort to Google on a Saturday is rare, and I didn't have to do so today), but there were still plenty of points where I really had to work my way through. CALIFORNIA and UC BERKELEY have the same letter count, so that threw me for a moment. Could not see ANATOLIA or PEELINGS (weakest bit of long fill, even if it did get me to sing "peelings, nothing more than peelings" for a moment) for a while. But the NE was the longest in coming. One, I could not get MIND-BOGGLINGLY ANNOYING to fit for "Like Tickle Me Elmo". Two, I had cOnan (off the O) instead of LORNE as a big name in late-night TV. Three, even though I dropped in LEGALIZE IT uncrossed (despite the fact I loathe reggae, I've known that was a Peter Tosh album for decades). Finally PRIMAL URGE came together - with its fantastic clue - and I was able to piece together the last corner.

Brilliant crossing LEGALIZE IT with REEFER.

In addition to all the sparkle, this was clean as a whistle. There are really only 2-3 entries I'd question (ABAB, IST, AYLA), but they're unobtrusive and certainly don't distract from all the wonderfulness here.

Jisvan 2:27 AM  

Dropped "four twenty " into space for LEGALIZE IT, and of course nothing followed, but there's another themer for you stoner constructioneers! And the date's coming up soon!
Liked a lot of this one: MAKE BANK, PANOPLY, HABANERO, even the goofy DOOFUS. And I did not know SAKS shoe department has it's own zip code! That stirs a PRIMAL URGE to shop...

jae 2:39 AM  

@Steve J - Me too for Conan briefly. I erased it when I realized I'd botched spelling ETERNE (dyslexia has it's draw backs).

chefwen 2:53 AM  

A lot more fun that yesterdays puzzle. Still have to claim a DNF due to a couple of Googles, but all of my little squares were filled in. FIONA APPLE???, TOM KITE??? (Jon should have gotten that one) DUCHAMP??? Anyhow, it was fun!

Sunday, here we come, make it good!

Groovey Cleveland 3:36 AM  

I'm always happy when I get at least a quarant on a Saturday. Today, I managed far better. But, LUCKYME, I knew a few of the answers out of the gate.

According to Alexa (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com), Rex's site ranks as the 79,611th most popular site in the States. Who are we edging out?

Anonymous 4:20 AM  

@rex: a CONEY refers to a Coney Island hot dog

Hartley70 6:08 AM  

Feeling out of it since I've never heard of Peter Tosh, Jason Kidd, or Rhett Adkins. Fiona, Rhianna and Sharon are in my world. Thought there were some fun clues. Loved oral exam, patty cake and doofus!

Danp 6:24 AM  

My pop-culture knowledge is so limited that when I finally got Lorne, my first thought was, "Really? Bonanza?"

Questinia 6:30 AM  

Puzzle, easy. Resisting @ Jisvan's suggestion to shop at SAKS, hard. PRIMAL URGE indeed. Must not GIVE IN.

What a pretty NE made even more so with @ jae's observation of DOBE. LEGALIZE IT indeed.

Fun puzzle. Fresh fill. It can be done.

John Child 6:53 AM  

I think I would have finished successfully if I had ever heard of FIONA APPLE or even seen her name before. Despite several crosses in that area I had to ask for help on her name. The NE would have been a lot easier if I had spelled BELeiVE correctly: I stared at REi_ER for a long time.

Hand up for inmyhumblE and Bonanza. A CONEY is a rabbit to me, and MAKE BANK was unfamiliar. I tried "rob a" first.

Digression: CONEY used to be pronounced to rhyme with honey or money. Etymology and discussion here: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/81085/coney-and-rabbit-whats-the-difference

Questinia 7:52 AM  


Anonymous 7:56 AM  

"Tool" in my slang lexicon comes from my college experience and refers to someone unpleasant who works too hard in order to succeed while at the same time being a kiss-up, kick-down kind of person. Hardly a doofus, which connotes clumsy and goofy but likeable. Knew not a single cultural reference in the entire SW. Not a Natick for me, more like a lost continent...

AliasZ 8:17 AM  

Having been an avid crossword fan for over 50 years, I have seen and solved thousands if not tens of thousands of them. One thing that drove me to the NYT puzzles since Will Weng was their sense of classical timelessness. I mean, you can take a 40-year-old NYT puzzle and solve it without much difficulty. I am not sure if this one could be solved 40 years from now with equal ease. Jeff Chen @ xwordinfo clearly noticed this aspect of the puzzle and voiced his opinion in his usual genteel and polite way.

What prompted these thoughts was the obvious attempt of the constructors to make much of this puzzle edgy, fresh and up to date, and mostly ignore solvers over the age of, let's say, 50 or 60. Messrs. Anderson & Mulhern, I GOT YOU. Judging from previous comments, your attempt was utterly successful, and hopefully it goes a long way towards recruiting a new, younger generation of solvers. But it left this one in the dust.

Rhett Akins who? Never heard of CONEY with chili, except for David Cone and the cone heads. The CONEY/YING crossing was a total Natick. YING sounds like it should be paired with yang. I heard of FIONA APPLE, but I prefer golden delicious. Jason Kidd's school must be common knowledge to everyone who attended UC BERKELEY. Never heard of KENS salad dressing, my favorite is Newman's Own. But LUCKY ME, I know about Marcel DUCHAMP (1887-1968). Never heard of AYLA either, but found out that it's a common Turkish feminine name meaning "halo of light around the moon." That is so pretty. It also ties in with ANATOLIA (Ἀνατολή), the ancient Greek name for Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey.

However, there was much to like here. I loved the PRIMAL URGE / SHE SAID YES(!) symmetrical pair. In ales, I do prefer AMBERS to blondes, but the occasional brunette will do just fine. My favorite words: PANOPLY and ANATOLIA.

Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914) was a Russian composer whose best known work perhaps is the tone poem Kikimora, Op. 63, based on a legendary female house spirit in Slavic mythology. But instead, let us listen to the utterly enchanting and beautiful Eight Russian Folk Songs, Op. 58. I strongly URGE you to spend the 14 minutes and listen. I DO BELIEVE it will ENRICH your day.

Have a great weekend.

Glimmerglass 8:25 AM  

I found this challenging (I'm old) but doable, eventually. I had the most trouble in the NE. I'd heard of Peter Tosh, but didn't know any album titles. I put in RED and guessed PLIE and UZI -- but then, nada. I got lucky with 8D. I guessed MAtELL (a game company, but misspelled). Wrong, but with enough correct letters to get PRIMAL URGE (nasty misdirection) and LEGALIZE IT (2nd part of its clue). Eventually corrected MA BELL without ever getting the joke. All that along with Li'l Abner's FER, got me 12D, 13D, and 14D. The only late-night LORNE I can think of is in old movies and Bonanza reruns.

The Bard 8:44 AM  

Macbeth , Act III, scene II

MACBETH: O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.

LADY MACBETH: But in them nature's copy's not eterne.

Muscato 8:56 AM  

Add me to the list that's never had a coney (which to me is only British slang for a rabbit, per Tolkien), but my real obstacles were that I don't especially consider Rihanna a SEX SYMBOL - sexy, I suppose, but not a figure along the lines of Sharon Stone or Lollobrigida (Geez, I am turning into an Old) - and that i had a truly shocking blind spot about REEFER (which I suppose speaks well for my general law-abidingness, but also points toward that old thing...).

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Did anyone besides me hear a Walmart ad while reading Rex's blog today?

angry old man 9:06 AM  

Stupid kids! Get off my lawn! Grrrr...get out of my crossword.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Actually, older folk, myself included, should have no beef about pop culture. Marley's album is circa '76, so that's more like "Pop's culture".

Sir Hillary 9:32 AM  

Wow, fantastic grid. Mostly in my wheelhouse -- mostly.

I got 3/4 of the puzzle in record time. Dropped in WHATISIT, HABANERO, LEGALIZEIT, FIONAAPPLE, and UCBERKELEY right away. Not sure I've ever had that many long gimmes. NW, NE and SW fell just like that.

Then, the SE stopped me cold. Absolutely nothing. Some of this was self-inflicted -- first had liT and then fiT instead of CUT. But mostly, I just couldn't figure it out, despite having NAE, MOTEL and KENOBI. MAKEBAgs? MAKEBooK? uNiTOrIA? KENl (thinking Milk Bone instead of Wish-Bone). There was one?

Finally, I realized the Manhattan zip code was there to help, and help it did (I live in Westchester). Then my daughter came through with CUT, and the rest fell quickly. But I spent way more time in the SE then the other three quadrants combined.

What a blast this was -- thank you, guys!

Z 9:38 AM  

OFL spent time in Ann Arbor and never heard of CONEYS? WTF was he doing? American, Lafayette, Leo's, National, Kerby's, Zeffs,... You can't walk around the block without running into a Coney Island restaurant in Metro Detroit. Ann Arbor has Leo's, Uptown, and RJ's pop up the first page of search results. And then there are all the Mom and Pop places. My problem with the clue was the "carnival" part of it. We don't have "carnivals," we have fairs, and the decadent food of choice is some variation of fried dough with powdered sugar on it, not CONEYS. Maybe it's a New York thing? Can you get CONEYS at SAKS?

There is actually very little about this puzzle that is "fresh." That SW corner is full of references from eighteen years ago. Basic Instinct is debuted twenty-two years ago. LEGALIZE IT, SNL, and Star wars are forty years old. Marcel DUCHAMP died nearly fifty-five years ago, New Journalism was "new" around the same time. Clan of the Cave Bear is either 35 OR 18,000 years old, depending on how you look at. So all you "youngsters" are older than you think.

DNF - I played Whack-a-Vowel at ALEX-/AYL- and lost.

John V 9:56 AM  

Hand up for pop culture pot hole. Not even close. Pretty heavy pop slant, Will.

Loren Muse Smith 9:56 AM  

WHOA. I finished a Saturday. This one was way, way hard for me, and that A in AYLA/ALEXA was a total guess. So much I have never, ever heard – LEGALIZE IT for me began as "Let's Inhale." Sheesh. AYLA, DUCHAMP, THEO, TOM KITE, FIONA APPLE, SHE SAID YES, TALESE, MAKE BANK, CONEYS, NES. . .all of those I fought tooth and nail for but got'em in the end.

@Steve J and @jae – yeah – "Conan" first.

I resisted the unknown PANOPLY forever because I was thinking it would be "panopoly." Never seen that word. I just poked around and I see it has a different suffix from "monopoly."

Kinda cool seeing LEE so close to TARA.

AMBER feels to me to have more yellow than KHAKI.

SAKS – what a huge store *that one* is, I tell you. A few summers ago I was there in that very shoe department – really just cutting through – wearing decidedly un-STYLISH Rockport sandals (exactly like my avatar, but black). Hey – I'm relieved not to be a slave to fashion anymore. A very put-together clerk glanced over at me, at my shoes. I stopped, walked over to him, and said, "I have a lot of nerve wearing these things through here, don't I?" He smiled and said, "You sure do."

Someone shared this a while back, but it's always fun to watch. They kinda have a LEGALIZE IT/REEFER feel to it.


Messrs. Anderson and Mulhern – I'm in the group of solvers who immediately think LORNE Greene, but I was able to wrestle this one to the ground. Nice job!

Bill from FL 10:07 AM  

I guessed "I" for the AYL_/ALEX_ Natick, so DNF. Otherwise, it was pretty good. I liked the LEGALIZEIT/REEFER cross. I also liked seeing FIONAAPPLE--I was fan years ago.

Unknown 10:10 AM  

Doable with 14 googles. Without them I was building a completely different solution.

pupS for KITS
wHeat for KHAKI
fine for LULU
safe bet for ROTH IRA
still for INERT
wing for KENS ( I don't get KENS??)
bull for HARM
mAcy for SAKS
note for KEYS

Original answers that survived the google correction : THEO SEXSYMBOL AEROBE NAE WHOA ÉLAN PLIÉ

I had a warning things weren't going well. Lots of skipping around. Only a few crosses. Some funny letter combos, then gridlock after 45 minutes.

10 wrong, 7 right before google. Net score -3. A blank grid was closer to being right than my "regress." Ugh.

I would enjoy watching @Rex's (or any one of your) time lapse solving process. In Rex's case, it wouldn't even need to be time lapse.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

To Groovy Cleveland at 3:38 a.m.: I found your "Who are we edging out?" comment very funny.
This puzzle: fun and do-able, though I didn't know ANY of the pop culture references, such as LEGALIZE IT and SHE SAID YES. But they all came in. I found I solved it in almost exactly the same manner that Rex solved it, BTW.

quilter1 10:18 AM  

Despite so many people I've never heard of I finished. As others have pointed out CONEYS refer to a coney island hotdog. Even here in Des Moines we have several coney island restaurants. So sad @Rex has never had one. Now I have a craving.

mathguy 10:26 AM  

I found it extremely challenging. In fact, I had a mistake. TEST instead of TEXT gave me ALESA instead of ALEXA, which I hadn't heard of anyway. Ten entries I didn't know but only a couple were because of my not being young: MAKEBANK, YING (although I guessed it quickly), ALEXA. Twelve of the clues were quite opaque to me. On my first go through, I only got NAE for free.

Since I hate the cold so much, I never complain about it being too hot. Since I hate mindless-fill-in-the-squares puzzles so much, I never complain about one being too tough, as long as the cluing is fair. I feel good about nearly subduing this bear.

Danp 10:28 AM  

Humphrey Bate and the Possum Hunters are 80-90 years ago, but they are still pop culture. And they are as unknown to me as Rhett Akins or Patty Cake.

Smoked but did not inhale 10:38 AM  

My biggest challenge was the NE but I came up with a rather humorous answer to the Peter Tosh record even though I never wrote it in. I had the G, the first I, and the T, and thought that the first letter probably was L, I thought of "Light it Fat."

joho 10:38 AM  

There are so many fun phrases crammed into this beauty of a puzzle: WHATISIT, LEGALIZEIT, GIVEIN, LUCKYME, MAKEBANK and IGOTYOU(under my skin) .. I loved it.

Great, tough cluing, too. @Rex, my favorite was for PATTYCAKE.

Remarkably I didn't have many writeovers, one being faD before RED for Elmo.

I'd like to think my MUTT is not only STYLISH but also a SEXSYMBOL, a real LULU of a dog.

Thanks Ashton and James for an entertaining Saturday morning!

WA 10:41 AM  

Which is the sex symbol on my keyboard?

Ma Bell? Did he write this on an Eastern airlines flight?

Scott Thomas 11:06 AM  

NE was the tough part for me, in that I tried various options for 18A -- IDONTTHINK, for one -- before arriving at IDOBELIEVE. Which, by the way, could contain a homonym for doobie, age-old slang that makes another nice cross for REEFER.

Wow, man.

mac 11:08 AM  

Tough. DNF. Just a few blanks I didn't want to guess at.

I had amber for khaki first, then had to rethink it when I found the ale clue up North.

At 18A I actually wrote it: IN MY HUMBLE as and opinion leader, feeling very clever. Not.

Saks was a gimme, I could work at the information desk at that store. Which does not mean that I buy a lot!

Mark 11:13 AM  

For us who find it hard to think of Rihanna as a sex symbol: she was officially declared sexiest woman in the world by Esquire Magazine in 2011. Who are we to disagree with such authority?

Carola 11:13 AM  

"Drive to drink," and how. This one almost took me to the mat. I managed to get the names I didn't know from crosses but messed myself up with...
- rAKE it in for MAKE BANK, giving me ArP for the chess-playing artist;
- caVE IN, which made URGE impossible to see
- guessing LiGht... where LEGAL should have gone.
Erased vast swaths, finally got REEFER and MA BELL and finished.
Thanks to previous commenters for pointing out the many grid felicities. Terrific Saturday.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:36 AM  

Another hand up for CONAN before LORNE, my only write-over.

Generally Challenging for me, took almost an hour. NE was the hardest for me, PRIMAL URGE the last to go in, but what a pleasure to *get* it!

Cheerio 11:51 AM  

I had to laugh after staring at KELEY for the longest time thinking what university in the US has that name ending? I spent many years in that awesome school getting my
PhD. At least ORAlEXAM was a gimme for me, ;-)

wreck 11:53 AM  

I'm pretty sure I saw Humphrey Bate and the Possum Hunters open for Bob Marley many, many years back.

Dirigonzo 12:14 PM  

I was well on my way to ignominius defeat when I decided to take a break and check fb to see what's going on in the rest of the world, and there was a post by one Rex Parker which included a couple of spoilers. Since I couldn't "unsee" them I resumed solving armed with my illicit knowledge and finished surprisingly swiftly. I know it's cheating, but it was accidental, honest, officer!

OISK 12:16 PM  

After 3 DNF in a row, am mighty pleased to have finished this one . I live in Brooklyn, home of Nathan's Coney Island hot dogs, and I have never heard them called "Coneys". Since I never heard of Ying Yang, I got it only after trying conels, conems and coneps. Never heard of Fiona Apple, Rhett Akins,or the brand name "Kens", or Ayla, or Alexa or Peter Tosh. Still, it is gratifying to be able to complete a puzzle with this much pop culture. I just wish constructors would avoid product names (kens) when there are many available alternatives. A fine Saturday puzzle, despite my personal cultural preferences.

Mark 12:25 PM  

Have been doing the puzzle almost every day on the iPad app for several months. It's fun, but without this blog it would be about half as much fun. So I dropped a few coins in the PayPal tin cup.

Mohair Sam 12:25 PM  

Very challenging here, but a lot of fun. Struggled mightily in SW until I thought of theONAAPLE, and was saved by good old DOOFUS correcting me. Hated "Clan" book, but remembered Ayla, but we were otherwise stymied in the NE. I went to take a shower and my wife whited out my gimme "cOnan" and quickly finished the NE which had been blocked out by Mr. O'Brien. Victory.

Certainly not in our wheelhouse, but certainly enjoyable - thanks Ashton and Jame.

@Z - Good point about "freshness" that averages about a quarter of a century old. Still, we had fits with the pop culture stuff - '90's is too "fresh" for us.

Never attend a movie without smuggling in a $1.00 box of DOTS - yet my wife had to fill 34d for me, go figure.

@Rex - next time you head north on 81 type "Hyde's of Liverpool" into the GPS (just north of Syracuse, just off the highway) and order a CONEY. They've been serving franks and CONEY's in the same spot for almost 100 years. Great lap food on a trip.

Ludyjynn 12:53 PM  

I want to thank all of you. A year ago, there was no way I could have solved this puzzle. I would have given up after SAKS sat there, alone and miserable, for an ETERNE. But then came ABAB and KENS and a few odds and ends, here and there. Decided to take a break and read the rest of the Times. Lo and behold, The Arts Section ran a stellar review of yesterday's one night Carnegie Hall revival of "Guys and Dolls". Great cast, including a rave review of Megan Mullally's stirring rendition of ADELAIDE'S LAMENT. How timely! Then I made a snack, played with the animals and re-attacked the puzzle. It took the better part of the morning, but I did it, mainly through sheer perseverence.
What is the old saw--How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

So, the moral of the story, @CascoKid, is this: Do not give up! Try not to Google(unneeded crutch, IMHO)! Don't worry that Rex did a 2+hour effort on my part in 15 minutes or less! Believe that you can do it and you will! Even though this was one of the worst slogs of my life, I finally did it!

Off to plant some pansies.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:06 PM  

fave weeject: FER. (Yo, @jae)
fave vowel presentation: LULU.
fave clue: "That's crazy, dude!" Honorable mention to: "The end?", for IST. M&A woulda fired up the double-??, there.
fave rallying cry: LEGALIZEIT.
fave constructioneer story: SHESAIDYES. Evidently JamesM. proposed to his honey, today. Fortunately, her answer weren't "That Ain't My Truck" (only single by Rhett that I knew of and own).
fave fillins: PANOPLY. REEFER. UCBERKELEY. Walked around that pretty campus, several years ago, after ridin the Bart out to it. Had a neat record store across the street, to boot.

themelessthUmbsUp. Played slightly easy, for a SatPuz, but lots of fun. Good call and primo writeup, @63. U stayed on yer bike.


p.s. Made my first quadstack runtpuz, yesterday. Took a good while. Looked pretty solid, after two or three beers. I can feature why constructioneers might like makin em. Don't think they do it to torture solvers; more to present them with a unique work of art, spiced with some choice accents of desperation. QED.

Numinous 1:43 PM  

I finished yesterday with no problems and felt confident going into today's. Hah! I despise country music and have always ignored Raggae. Hunter Thompson wouldn't fit so I googled for SHE SAID YES, TALESE, and LEGALIZE IT.

I grew up a block from the south gate of the University of California, Berkeley but I've never thought of CAL as having athletes of note. I finally got it from the crosses that gave me R, K, L and Y. Most of the rest of this was a struggle for me but I finished, after an hour and a half, right where I normally would in the Magmic scoring. Guess this wasn't all that easy for the rest of the iPadders.

I've eaten at Nathan's in Coney Island and still don't equate that with an all beef hot dog. I prefer Casper's on the west coast where the casing snaps when you bite into it. Be that as it may, @Rex knowing CONEY as a rabbit and nothing else is surprising as he included the cover of a pamphlet by Robert Greene in which a CONEY is not exactly a rabbit. In Elizabethan England, a CONEY was a mark, appropriate, in a way, for carnivals but I don't believe carneys serve up the marks with chili.

One year, I used the text from that very pamphlet along with others by Robert Greene to create a guild of thieves, whores, cozeners and rogues at the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire. We even memorized and used all the terms in Greene's glossary of Rogues' Cant. Among other things, we put on purse cutting shows at ale stands that drew good crowds and sold a lot of beer. I never understood why the Oh-so-wholesome RPF never sanctioned my little group of thieves and whores, we represented an undeniable element of life in Elizabethan times. Thanks @Rex for the reminder.

So, I finished this with my tail between my legs. Without the googled answers, I probably wouldn't have.

GILL I. 1:43 PM  

Loved it. Yes, it felt fresh and playful.
I had my first CONEY dog along with my first REEFER at Coney Island. Both made me laugh with joy.
I remember reading Clan of the Cave Bear about a hundred years ago and thought what a fantastic novel. Also wondering who would play AYLA in the movies (it turns out Daryl Hannah got the SEX SYMBOL spot)
Anyway, several years ago my husband and I were vacationing in Vallarta and it was raining and I wanted to read something. Someone had left a copy of Clan of the Cave Bear behind and since that was it, I started re-reading the book. After about 20 minutes I thought to myself that this was the stupidest book I've ever read.
Hey, don't pick on Tickle Me Elmo.
Thank you Ashton and James for another Google free Sat. and for including FIONA APPLE.

I ski pM-W 1:45 PM  

I'm too old to have watched Bonanza much, so eventually guessed right Lorne. I live in Berkeley, and have taught at UC but know nothing about basketball, so Jason Kidd clue took forever to fill in. Duchamp was a gimme, along with peelings and peeped. Not much else.

Proud of finishing correctly despite magmic going into downloading mode about five times and partially or totally clearing my fill each time. Grrrr.

Took forever, but that just increased pleasure at the end. The kind of Saturday I relish, looking hopeless for a long time but then having it all fall into place. Icould do without the magmic foul ups though.

Lewis 1:57 PM  

@stevej -- I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but your "peelings" made me laugh.

Some parts were quite easy, others tough. Some clever clues. Just about right for a Saturday.

Freddy Murcks 2:03 PM  

I liked today's puzzle. It is, in fact, the first time I have ever solved a Saturday without significant cheating. The top 1/3 was a lot easier than the bottom 1/3.

While I got the answer straight away, I thought AEROBE for Oxygen User was a bit too obscure. I was surprised that it was actually the right answer.

Robot captcha: Increase teststin

Freddy Murcks 2:16 PM  

@I ski pM-W - I am pretty certain that "LORNE" refers to Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

Don't know why Rex would say this puzzle skewed young. This 66 y/o (never a speed solver or googler) slogged steadily through it with no write overs due to fair crosses and general knowledge. Easiest Saturday yet.

Fred Romagnolo 2:43 PM  

Ditto Anonymous 7:56. I did like Tara with a cross with "Rhett" in the clue. Falstaff refers to "coney-catchers". Primal urge clue was the worst in weeks. I, too, connect Lorne with Greene. Had to google about a third of the puzzle. Not a day for people past 80.

retired_chemist 3:03 PM  

Liked it - medium-challenging since some of the answers were so NOT in my wheelhouse (bah) and some of the cluing was deliciously devilish (5A, I am talking to YOU!)

"Tool," at my college, meant nothing pejorative. We referred to ourselves as "Tech Tools," meaning we worked hard and were used by the Institute to further its own end, which was to turn out the best engineers and scientists it could. At least that's how I read it.

I too was surprised when Berkeley (another school I got a degree from) got a world class basketball player and he got drafted by the NBA - my Mavericks, no less! He didn't stay - Dallas traded the promising Devin Harris and some others to the Nets for him - but he did come back. Actually he is now back at the Nets coaching, and Devin Harris is back with the Mavs and doing very well.

But I digress. Hand up for cOnan, for jeté @ 5D (don't know ballet as well as basketball), and for ABba with a willingness to switch to ABBA @ 17A.

Thanks, Messrs. Anderson and Mulhern. Well done.

Leon 3:14 PM  

As a native NYCer who went to college in the Midwest and travelled extensively throughout upstate NY, I can state NYC natives call them Hot Dogs or Franks. If meat is put on it, it is chili. Sabrett's sold by carts are called Dirty Water Dogs, the dirty water is usually caused by Worcestershire sauce.

A Coney Island Dog is a slight variaton of a chili-dog served mostly in the Midwest. They usually use chili sauce.

A coney is also a "White Hot" in Syracuse, made famous by Liverpool, NY's famous Heid's.(@Mohair-I agree with you except for the spelling of Heid's)

Mohair Sam 3:49 PM  

@leon. Ooops - nice catch. Lived in Liverpool for 25 years, raised 2 kids on Heid's dogs and now I misspell? Sheeeze.

michael 4:52 PM  

Got most of the puzzle without problems (good thing I knew Duchamp right away), but then got stuck in the northeast and had to google the Tosh song. I kept thinking the it should be "light it up" (which of course doesn't fit), Primal urge seems strange to me for drink but perhaps I'd think differently if I were more interested in alcohol.

michael 4:54 PM  

light bulb goes on - drink as in water...

Dirigonzo 4:56 PM  

In a bit of synchronicity today's page from the NYT puzzle-a-day calendar was a Joe Krozel construction from 10/9/2010 that included the clue, "Drive to drink?" with the answer being ANTIPROHIBITION.

Milford 6:31 PM  

Late to comment, but I was surprised to learn the regional nature of the CONEYS. I ate at one of the restaurants @Z mentioned just today for lunch. But I would never eat one at a carnival - it would more likely be a corn dog. CONEYS seem to require a knife and fork for me.

Fun puzzle, skewed hard for me, due to the entire NE region.

Unknown 6:44 PM  

A pretty darned perfect Saturday puzzle, I'd say. I thought more people would have trouble with KENS...I thought it was just a New England brand, having originated at the old Ken's Steakhouse in Framingham (right next door to our beloved Natick).

Anoa Bob 7:06 PM  

Singers smoke it,
And players of instrument too.

Doctors smoke it, nurses smoke it,
Judges smoke it, and even the lawyer too.

LEGALIZE IT, yeah, yeah
That's the best thing you can do.

Z 7:06 PM  

CONEYS are a Michigan thing. And, as @Milford pointed out, require either a knife and fork or a Bib and a big mouth.

Debby Weinstein 8:05 PM  

I thought "theist" was brilliantly clued. One of the best of many great things in this puzzle. And I didn't see it. My partner did. We call that "getting Shortzed".

Anonymous 9:02 PM  

These are becoming more and more uninteresting because of references to people I've never heard of and songs/albums I've never heard of.

Tita 11:20 PM  

What?? No ochre or ocher before KHAKI?

ALEXA was actually a gimme - the pop stuff, not so much.

@lms - thanks for the PATTYCAKE link - that was hilarious, and I had forgotten about it.

However, what made the puzzle for me, was remembering the PATTYCAKE scene in Roger Rabbit...
"OK, but this time take off the hand buzzer..."

Thanks, Mssrs Anderson & Mulhern,

spacecraft 11:00 AM  

DNF; never got off the ground. thought I had something going in the NE with PLIE and RED, but fatally had Itsonme instead of the never-heard IGOTYOU. Who says that when buying? Sonny and Cher? It (or this one)'s on me, pal. THAT's what you say.

Most of the rest of this is too obscure for me. KENOBI/KEYS could not lead me anywhere, nor could ROTH IRA. Racked my brain trying to think of the toy golfer, but TOMKITE (headslap!) just wouldn't come. I guess it plain wasn't my day.

I have never heard of DUCHAMP--either as artist OR chess player--and man, I thought I knew ALL those guys. I used to push some wood, back in the day.

Lessee, what else...LORNE? Big (?) name in late-night TV?? Uh, whodat? Or do you mean the late-night channels that rerun old "Bonanza!" and "Battlestar Galactica" episodes?

Enough. too much. I fold.

Steve J 1:48 PM  

@spacecraft: LORNE = Lorne Michaels, the creator and still-executive producer of Saturday Night Live.

DMG 2:41 PM  

Got the NW, then as I tried to move on the "pop culture potholes" showed themselves. another word or three here and there, as I approached the SW. One look at the clues, some singer's album, some sports guy's college, some country hit...???? Decided this one wasn't for me, and, like @spacecraft, I folded, with no regrets.

Fold my two tiny pairs, also.

Joshua 3:09 PM  

In addition to Saturday Night Live, LORNE Michaels is also executive producer of Jimmy Fallon's and Seth Meyers' late night talk shows.

Unknown 4:15 PM  

I thought ABAB was the cluing scheme for the bottom four rows in the SW, where A=Sports and B=Popular Music. I thought it would have been better with a little more variety. ORR and FIONA APPLE could keep their clues, with the other three horizontals changed to something like "The brother with two ears", "60's anti-war hotspot", and "New fiance's happy cry".

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