1997 role for Will Smith / SAT 4-3-14 / Sociologist Mannheim / Organized crime enforcers of 1930s-'40s / Film featuring Peter Sellers as matador / Moderator of tribal councils on TV / 1971 song that was CSI NY theme / Watson big name in deli meat / Bygone publication subtitled America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "The BOBO" (16A: Film featuring Peter Sellers as a matador, with "The") —
The Bobo is a 1967 British comedy film starring Peter Sellers and co-starring his then-wife Britt Ekland.
Based on the 1959 novel Olimpia by Burt Cole, also known as Thomas Dixon, Sellers is featured as the would-be singing matador, Juan Bautista. A theater manager offers to give him a big break if he seduces the beautiful Olimpia (Ekland) and spends an hour in her apartment with the lights off. The plot centers around Juan's attempts to woo the woman and famously includes Sellers covered in blue dye as the "Blue Matador." (wikipedia)
• • •

One of the hardest Saturdays I've done in a while, and one of the very hardest 70-worders (that's a pretty high word count for a themeless, and higher word count puzzles tend to have more opportunities to gain footholds, hence they tend to be easier than their lower word count counterparts). The harder a puzzle gets, the more I expect from the payoff, and this one was just OK for me. Didn't have enough "wow" or "aha" power to offset the annoyance of being presented with (to me) obscure stuff I had no shot at like DIETZ & Watson (is this regional?) or "The BOBO" (I've never heard of this, and I mean "never" literally—it is clearly a movie that exists in the world, but it sounds totally made up, and if you'd presented me with the above summary of a hypothetical movie an hour ago, I would've sworn you were just making sh*t up—completely implausible sh*t). To be clear, the grid is perfectly well made. Fill is just fine. But it was more slog than joy.

I really should've gotten a couple of the longer answers earlier than I did. Very embarrassed not to get MURDER INC. til quite late despite having MURDER- in place (!) (7D: Organized crime enforcers of the 1930s-'40s). And ALASKA KING CRAB (35A: One with long, luscious legs) didn't surface til quite late either, largely because the NE and SW sections (extending all the way to that central answer) were sooooooo much harder than the other corners, which I was able to knock off in Friday-like time. Something about the idea of MAMA as a "MILK producer" just feels kind of creepy to me, despite its technical correctness. To be clear, breast-feeding doesn't creep me out at all. Far from it. But somehow the clue puts me in mind of dairy cows, and MAMA seems to encompass so much more than just lactation. Anyway, I considered MAMS (is that an abbrev.??) but never MAMA. I don't really know what HEELERS are (44A: Many party hacks)—they make people fall in line, somehow? Never ever heard a kid "cry" "I'M IT" (59A: Cry that makes children run away) —"You're it!," sure. People don't usually claim "It," and when they are "It," they don't cry it out. Also, I thought GEDS were primarily for non-college-bound / non-academically successful kids. The home-schooled kids I know are invariably stellar students. So GEDS … never crossed my mind. PSALMIST, tough (31A: David, e.g.); AGENT J, ridiculously tough (I assume that's from Men In Black, but … people remember their agent letters?) (30A: 1997 role for Will Smith).

I didn't like the cheap gimmes, either. Always depressing to have your only real toeholds coming from pop culture, i.e. (today) FALCO, PROBST, CLYDE, and ESAI. It was as if the rest of the puzzle had been clued too hard, so there were these occasional Tuesday/Wednesday-type clues thrown in as life preservers. Less than satisfying. Last letter in the grid was the "Z" in DIETZ / ZIG. SINEW was just wicked hard to get—had SIN-, couldn't figure it out. Thought blue jack was TUNA, but that's skipjack, I think (34A: Fish also known as a blue jack => COHO). WIIMOTE is probably my favorite thing in the grid (26A: Hand-held game device), and I got it very very late. Overall, it's a nicely put together grid—it just lacked an admittedly hard-to-quantify fun factor. At least for me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Benko 12:26 AM  

Also found this tough, although I was a bit distracted while solving. The BOBO I've never heard of wither, despite having seen many Peter Sellers movies and a movie about Peter Sellers' life. Assumed off the B and the clue it would be "bull". Never heard of DIETZ, although I'm a vegetarian and found it inferable. I've heard the term "wardHEELERS" but never HEELERS on its own. I knew it would be AGENT J or K, but didn't know which. So an awful lot of stumbling blocks, but I'm glad the Saturday puzzle is difficult this week--it keeps us sharp.

jae 12:28 AM  

A medium Sat. for me.  A nice amount of zip....ABOUT THAT, SAY HEY KID, MURDER INC...mixed with some fine Sat. crunch.  Great 35a clue, needed a lot of crosses for that one.  

My biggest problem area centered around @Rex 21d ZIG.  Did not know DIETZ off the top of my head (although now it looks familiar) so initially had ess (for turns) then eIs (German for ice) and finally ZIG when I realized the J in JOB was MIB AGENT J (D'oh).

I did know BOBO.

Liked it a lot, nice one Sam!

okanaganer 12:32 AM  

I too found this a bit challenging. Once again I had to guess a letter, so finished with one error at 20A DUETZ crossing 8D ESAU (I've never heard of either of the correct answers). It seems to be a one-wrong-square kind of week. Damned obscure names!!

I really really dislike 31D: "Boston, Chicago, or Kansas" = PLACE NAME. (My first thought was ROCK GROUP, which I was sure would be correct.) I guess it's a hard answer to write a clue for, but this is just dumb. It's like having a clue of "Peter, Paul, or Mary, eg" for an answer of HUMAN.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

Gave up with nothing but the NW and, after seeing the answers, was glad I did. Nothing but obscurity after obscurity. Yuck.

ZenMonkey 12:44 AM  

Nice workout. Will Smith has played AGENTJ in three movies; it's not unreasonable to assume many people would know it.

Moly Shu 1:10 AM  

Challenging for me also. Had arc before ZIG which prevented me from entering the NE until I finally accepted SPOT and ABS. I think ALASKANKINGCRAB is a much better grid spanner than yesterday's 538, so disagree with @Rex there. Loved the clues for FETUS and GLUE. The phrase OPERAMUSIC seems odd to me. Makes OPERA seem less sophisticated.

@OISK, a puzzle we both can enjoy. You with the OPERAMUSIC and me with the SLAMDANCING. I wonder if the two have ever been performed together ???

wreck 1:14 AM  

Very tough - even for Saturday, but it wasn't really all that boring to me. I googled a bit and it helped me get a foothold, but I finally threw in the towel. If I wanted to spend another hour or so, I could have probably tackled it. I was watching the Mavs and Spurs - when the Mavs pulled it out, I couldn't concentrate! Not the puzzle's fault - mine.
I will say this - I'm impressed with yet another young constructor who breathes fresh air to the puzzle world. If crosswords are to survive, we need to get the young people creating puzzles that relate to a younger crowd.

Benko 1:21 AM  

@Molyshu: There is a whole subgenre of opera/metal hybrid music, based mostly in Germany and somewhat Wagnerian.

Questinia 3:29 AM  

Gas stations, cold cuts, Will Smith, baseball, frat names............. not a wheelhouse I care to hit a DIETZ and Watson salami in.
This puzzle *truly* did not grab my attention and I aborted the solve. Can't remember the last time I did that, particularly on a Saturday.

It felt like a melted blue Slurpee found in a filling station restroom. With a piece of bologna in it.

John Child 4:25 AM  
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John Child 4:31 AM  

PC HELP and PLACE NAME were weak; SLAM DUNK has what, exactly, to do with concerts? Never heard of PROBST or FALKO. I suppose if I watched television some things would be easier, but I fear that the brain rot from doing so would outweigh the value of the mental gymnastics that puzzles afford.

I enjoyed the top half of the puzzle and the center grid-spanner, but disliked the south.

George Barany 4:32 AM  

We pause our analysis of today's Sam Ezersky puzzle to pay our respects to EFREM Zimbalist, Jr., son of Sr. the violinist and ALMA Gluck, the recently discussed Stan Newman's(April 24 puzzle) opera singer. The obituary also teaches us the names of his son, III, and his daughter, Stephanie.

mac 4:51 AM  

Challenging but enjoyable Saturday puzzle. Needed my husband to come up with Say Hey Kid: he thought it cruel, while I thought it was one of the best clues/answers in the grid.

Didn't we just recently hear about the CSI:NY theme?

I'm going to be near Gouda today: we're visiting Delft.

GZA 4:59 AM  

I thought PLACE NAME was great because of the double misdirection it gave me: immediately recognize they are places, but it's Saturday so expect they are band/rock names, but nope it's just places.

And I got DIETZ with no help. I know my ham. It may be regional--mid-Atlantic?

Thanks for 20 minutes of fun, Sam!

jberg 8:08 AM  

My PLACE NAME is Boston, and I see DIETZ & Watson in my local market. That didn't help me with this puzzle, though -- I gave up with about 40% of the grid blank. The HUHs badly outnumbered the I SEEs for me. Missed some things I should have got -- kept going back and forth between CRT, LED, and LCD, and while I thought it might be another kind of monitor, I was thinking more Legion of Decency (do they still exist?) than FCC. I never thought of the crabs; if I had, I'd have thought ALASKA rather than ALASKAN, but I probably would have figured that one out. And, as @Rex said, no one ever cries "I'M IT!.

Maybe if I wasn't up against the grading deadline, with a lot of papers ungraded, I'd have spent a couple more hours and sussed it all out, but instead I gave up and came here.

Glimmerglass 8:17 AM  

Challenging! Worked through most of it, with great difficulty (I don't Google). Solving the crossings of PSALMIST, SAY HEY KID, and ALASKA KING CRAB was very satisfying. But the 10 X 3 SE corner defeated me. I got TEAPOT DOME, but the other two 10s did not yield to crosses. Ah well. I figure that if I solve every puzzle I try, I'm trying too many easy puzzles. ("If you make every slam you bid, you're not bidding enough slams.")

Russell Long 8:26 AM  

Good challenge. Really enjoyed solving this one. But dnf due to carelessness. Thought Mannheim was SAUL. Got the rest of the SE through the long crosses and didn't go back to notice that SIND and CUE EM didn't make sense. After Mr. Angry Pencil popped up, I saw my mistake right away. I'm use this as a cautionary tale sent to my son and all other college students taking final soon (including those in Rex' classes): CHECK YOUR ANSWERS before handing in the test paper!!!

Danp 8:54 AM  

BABAORILEY is tough because there is no obvious connection between the title and the lyrics. But I liked the idea of Teenage Wasteland over SLAMDANCED. Far from BOYSOPRANO and OPERAMUSIC.

I wish Chicago, Kansas, Boston had a '70's Rock answer. PLACENAME is just so much green paint.

Mohair Sam 9:17 AM  

Hand up as one of the 1/10 of 1% to have ALPHASIG as a gimme. That gave us ALASKANKINGCRAB and we should have zipped through. But like almost everyone we ended up calling this one Challenging.

Munched DIETZ and Watson ham with eggs over breakfast while solving (SE Pennsylvania). Never heard of BABAORILEY - the first "B" was our last letter (and a guess) because we watched "Survivor" only once about a decade ago and we're still wanting that hour back. PROBST? We had wanted PRieST.

Reviewing this puzz I can't figure why it tortured us - SCOTIA nearly a gimme (thank you Nova), as was TEAPOTDOME, MURDERINC, and SAYHEYKID. Still, we struggled as we should on a Saturday - and really enjoyed.

All these years I thought they were ward healers. Learned something today.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Does anyone else run into problems posting comments form an iPhone? It's been a problem for me even on previous releases of the system. The keyboard inevitably freezes up after some amount of typing, and when I go to preview, the comments are erased completely. Not sure if it is a problem with iOS or the web site, but the problem exists using both Safari and Chrome.

Z 9:28 AM  

Hand up for Rock Group - I guess if your answer is of the green paint variety you might as well mess with people with your cluing. Even with NAME in place I was still searching for some sort of 70's arena rock adjective.

I don't time on Saturday (too embarrassing) but this filled in so more medium here. I filled from the south to the north, finishing at MOBIL. I fill up at the Marathon around the corner, so I took a shot with Shell to start (would have been cute with ALASKAN KING CRAB). Dietz and Watson is sold in metro Detroit, so it can't be too regional.

I was pleased in typical male fashion that Castrato didn't fit for 17A, especially with 39A in the same puzzle. PSALMIST, palmist, whatever.

Re: GEDS and home schoolers - I encountered a far different type of "home schooler" from Rex, parents facing truancy charges who suddenly start home schooling their children. So, GED went right in for me.

A TAD of a work out, but SPOT on in the end.

NCA President 9:33 AM  

Wanted some kind of "band" for Boston, Chicago or Kansas...at least something musical.

I grew up hearing The Who on the radio and know a lot of their songs but, come to find out, I have no idea what the titles are. BABARILEY I've heard a thousand times...but I couldn't tell you the title.

I wanted David to be nude or a statue or a...something else than PSALMIST.

HEELERS?? SLAMDANCED...I don't think those are "performed," per se. Bass drummers, percussionists, even headliners "perform" hits at a concert.

I take exceptional issue with the OPERAMUSIC/BOYSOPRANO connection. Boy sopranos perform all kinds of music, and quite honestly (I'm not a big opera buff, so please correct me if I"m wrong), but I know of very few, if any, operas with boys in them apart from Carmen.

And that is only the start. Clearly this was a hard puzzle for me, but with Google I finished it. So there's that.

loren muse smith 9:34 AM  
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Jim Walker 9:36 AM  

I thought this puzzle was perfectly constructed. The proper names, such as PROBST and DIETZ were completely inferable, as were the pop culture references. The 14 year old boy in me laughed sheepishly at the TASSLE, MILK, and MAMA juxtaposition. Sorry to be such a BOBO. Loved the reference to Willie Mays, who along with Hammerin' Hank was a home run hitter who was a complete ball player, not some Andro-juiced imitation of one.

loren muse smith 9:37 AM  

Agreed – pretty tough. I had a dnf because of the southeast; those five proper nouns were too much for me – BABA O'RILEY, KARL, FALCO, CREEM, and CLYDE. Yes, I should have known CLYDE. Oh well.

I had a great time with this, though, because of the knock-down-drag-out I had wrestling the northwest to the mat. And I did! When I finally gave up some kind of "piano" for 17A, (which made no sense anyway, but that P _ A _ O was just too, too sexy. . .), and when I gave up some kind of icky food, drink, or medicine for 1D, it all fell into place.

I always wrassle with the hassle of spelling TASSEL. They guy who invented English must have been on Quaaludes when he hit those __ssle and __ssel words.

I briefly entertained "three" for A POSE.

ABOUT THAT. I think usually when you hear this, a bit of bad news is next. "Oh, right. Yeah, um, about that. Well, there was a bit of a problem. . ."

I'm with Wex – wuved, wuved, wuved WIIMOTE. I had no idea you called it that. Elmer Fudd and all that. And, I agree, if you agree to be IT, you say, "I'll be IT," which smacks of resignation.

@okanaganer – I agree with @GZA - I think PLACE NAME was clued precisely for the Saturday misdirect. Kind of like a cousin to BEQ's "sooner or later" clue yesterday. Take two or three words that seem related and clue'em for their part of speech. I love those!

"touch and go" VERBS
"hook, line, and sinker" NOUNS
"high and mighty" ADJECTIVES

BOY SOPRANO – There's this beautiful short animated Christmas work, The Snowman, and the only words in the whole thing are a song sung by a boy. Haunting and beautiful.


All in all, a fine Saturday, Sam. On to the Stiga Stumper.

Carola 9:37 AM  

DNF. NE = MAKES A MESS due to erasing with one of those annoying pencil erasers that makes a black blur, leaving me with a blotchy quadrant of smears, white space and wrong letters.

Appreciated the rewards of BOY SOPRANO, PSLAMIST, SAY HEY KID, TEAPOT DOME, SLAM-DANCED, and the ward HEELERS. Also liked HUH? as appropriate to that NE area: I also guessed Bull, had no idea about the MOTE part or what the AGENT letter was, and wasn't smart enough to get MECCAS off the E and second C - the first C might have gotten me COHO....

Sir Hillary 9:42 AM  

Crunch, crunch, crunch!

I like this one better than yesterday's. I can't really say exactly why, because I admit that it has shortcomings pointed out by @Rex and others here. Ah well, horses for courses on this Kentucky Derby Saturday.

I was held up for a long time by an absolutely inexplicable brain cramp (for a sports nut like me). I wrote hAnkaaron instead of SAYHEYKID. Of course, Hammerin' Hank is ahead of, not behind, the Sultan of Swat. I might as well have confused Washington and Lincoln, so fundamental was this error.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:48 AM  

Tough one for me, too, though ultimately doable, and enjoyable.

Bunch of write-overs: If 25 D made Rex think of cows, I, working off the MA__, at first put in MARE! Also, 39 A, COME LATE before COME LAST; 53 D, MILD before KIND; and, I hope most excusably, 48 D, CREAM before CREEM.

Actually like most of the odd cluing, but must agree that I'M IT is something a player would hide, not proclaim.

AliasZ 10:07 AM  

OPERA MUSIC? Sounds like a phrase a person never exposed to anything but pop culture would use to describe music he does not know, for instance, on seeing a TV commercial with a Vivaldi or Mozart piece as background. Would you call this BOY SOPRANO accompaniment OPERA MUSIC?

ABAA, ATAD, ZIG, APOSE, DIETZ, GOTAT, NETH, ASKOF, PCHELP, COMELAST: partials, FITBs, convenient of-the-wall proper names, abbr.'s, and phrases that appear to have been made up for the purpose of puzzles, always give me an unclean feeling about a themeless, esp. on Saturday.

The four stacks of 8+ entries, plus the two 9's running down the middle across ALASKAN KING CRAB however were all wonderful, except for the aforementioned OPERA MUSIC.

PC HELP and PLACE NAME appear to me a bit green-paintish. To wit:
Detective notebook entry: date, time, PLACE, NAME, etc.
PC HELP: Web site dedicated to giving advice on being politically correct.

Favorites: SAY HEY KID, ABOUT THAT and TOP HONORS. Having 18 NYT debuts is an amazing feat, although I am sure HEELER (singular) has been used before.

From M-W:

HEELER noun \ˈhē-lər\
1 a: one that heels
b: Australian cattle dog
2 a: a henchman of a local political boss
b: a worker for a local party organization; esp.: ward heeler.

Enjoy your weekend.

JDipinto 10:14 AM  

@NCA President -- when you slamdance you are slamming your body into other people, hence you are performing "hits."

Moly Shu 10:17 AM  

@JohnChild, it's SLAMDANCED not dunked, though looking back at the puzzle, I can see where it all fit.

@NCAPrez, Slamdancing is basically people hitting each other with their bodies at high rates of speed, and it's usually performed at a concert.

Enough of the moshpit/slamdance lesson for today. I need to get a life. Sheesh! Hi @LMS

RnRGhost57 10:24 AM  

As someone who went to a lot of arena rock in the 70s, my first thought for "perforned hits at a concert" was SMOKED DOOB.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Weirdly this was only a medium for me -- by which I mean, lest you get the wrong idea, it only took me 25 minutes instead of my usual Saturday 45.

I thought "heeler" was pretty common. In the "The Last Hurrah," the ward heelers are in charge of getting out the vote. Maybe nobody reads that anymore.

You wouldn't present Vivaldi or Mozart to the masses as opera music, though. If you wanted to convey that trope you would order up Caruso singing Ridi Pagliacco or some such, with a big fat guy weeping into his handkerchief, right?


Elle54 10:43 AM  

Googled a bit. I got BABAORILEY so I checked to see what it was. Wow! I've heard that a million times too!
I think DIETZ must be regional, cuz never heard of it here in Chicago.
And I agree with Rex, homeschoolers I know are very successful college students.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:48 AM  

Almost forgot: Although I never came close to putting it in, when I first saw the clue for 33 D, "Email attachment?" with its question mark, I had a hard time getting OBSESSION out of mind!

Arlene 10:56 AM  

I'm not usually a Saturday solver, but did pretty well today - albeit with Googling. Getting those CRAB legs was so satisfying! The SW corner did me in - had no idea about HEELERS, etc.

Dirigonzo 11:15 AM  

This is the kind of puzzle I wouldn't even have dared to start not too long ago but I've reached a level of semi-competence whereby I can actually finish with a lot of persistence and a lucky guess or two (hello, PROBST). I actually thought Will Smith played Agent M, but DOTHEmOB just didn't seem right.

Charlene 11:16 AM  

BOY SOPRANO was hard for me because boy sopranos generally aren't used in opera - they're mainly used in choral and sacred music.

Ludyjynn 12:01 PM  

DIETZ went in immediately; it is an omnipresent brand in MD grocery stores. For me, the South was easy, the rest was medium.

I have a new technique to assure Sat.success: start the puzzle over coffee, then leave for a well-deserved mani-pedi at your local nail salon, making sure your nails are dry before resuming (don't want to MAKEsAMESS). With a fresh perspective, voila! The stuff you couldn't see before magically appears!


Thanks, SE and WS. I am now craving seafood for dinner. Shall it be ALASKAN KING CRAB or COHO?

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

I liked the mini-theme of MILK, MAMA, and FETUS. Also MAMA brings to my mind pig, bear, duck .....

jdv 12:39 PM  

Med-Challenging. I really, really liked this puzzle. It's a great grid and the cluing was spot on for a Saturday. Favorite clues were "Performed Hits at a Concert" and "Large Magnet". Missteps were 38a BETS for LAYS; 40a ITHELP for PCHELP; 47a LCD for FCC. Didn't know BOBO, DIETZ, HEELERS, KARL Mannheim.

Regional Penna Resident 12:42 PM  

DIETZ is an excellent case study in how people think a thing they dont know is obscure.
the company is based in phila and yet i never see it here because i only buy boars head at the deli.

the only time i actually see D&W is when i am travelling with the family and forced to buy food at a grocery chain. it is sold nationally at costco as well as large regional chains pretty much everywhere (like piggly wiggly or meijer or jewelosco or weis) both at the deli counter and prepackaged. regional to every region i guess.
this was the only word i had in my first run through.

Hartley70 12:50 PM  

Anonymous at 9:28! Yes to the IPHONE issue! That keeps my posts very short. When it freezes I find if I hit done and then start typing again it works. Frustrating as heck.
So many unknowns today! Babaoriley being the absolute worst. Annoyed by placename as I kept trying MLB cities, or ALE cities not that I know anything about sports obviously. No googles and I slogged thru but the NE and the SW were the toughest for me.

DJana 12:51 PM  

We're not in the same league as commenters on this space, so se have to brag that we got ALASKANKINGCRAB on a blank puzzle. Go figure.


Anonymous 12:57 PM  

For some reason didn't find this one all that hard. Got stuck at the end, never having seen "Men In Black," on "Agent J," which makes sense if you remember that "cut it" is a term, like "hack it," that means "to make the grade." Loved "Baba O'Riley" and I've never even seen "CSI." Figured out "Dietz" from zigging and zagging though never heard of it before. Saw the Sellers movie a long time ago and loved it, but couldn't remember it at first. On the whole, not a very tough puzzle for me.

Penna Resident 1:03 PM  

i should have said the only correct answer that i had...
a bit for a tad, gig for leg, rice with teriyaki.
unfortunate that holl can cross all, and even after changing this to neth/she, the e crossed tape instead of glue. then 31D had me thinking of seeing kansas in 1980 so 60A was smoked dope. ironic since a couple years later i was slamdancing at black flag (and many obscure straightedge bands - we should remember from last month that black flag is not obscure).

gave up quickly today.

bigsteve46 1:18 PM  

I always get a kick out of the "I-never-watch-TV" types who then whine about not getting the tv-based clues. If you never go to a baseball game, or listen to a rap song - obviously you're going to have a problem with those kind of clues.

What you need to solve crossword puzzles is a range of knowledge that is like what - many years ago - someone described as the range of Richard Nixon's popularity: a mile wide and an inch deep!

Dave 1:28 PM  

Biggest snag was MAN of steel, once I figured abs the NE fell in, the sw was tough.

I think that home schoolers get GED degrees because a diploma from the school of your parents isn't widely accepted, even if it does bring to mind dropouts going back to school.

Didn't like milk/mam just because not many formulas are "based on" breast milk. I was thinking along the lines of "tomato based" BBQ sauce....

Still a fun and challenging puzzle for me.

Andrew Morrison 1:51 PM  

Same experience as RP, except DIETZ was a slam-dunk for this native Pennsylvanian. I felt like a dunce struggling through this puzzle. I was happy to read that Rex had the same problem.

jazzmanchgo 1:52 PM  

Spillover from yesterday:

Because I did not recognize "FIVE THIRTY EIGHT," a few folks decided to make snide ad hominem comments, insinuating that I'm some kind of uninformed boob who "doesn't follow politics and sports." Well, 'tain't so. I subscribe to the NY Times and the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as several major newsmagazines. And yes, I am very familiar with who Mr. Silver is. In fact, I consider myself very well-informed about the issues of the day.

The fact the I don't recognize a website has nothing to do with the depth or breadth of my political or intellectual interests. I guess it simply means that I'm not "cool and trendy" enough to pursue those interests by spending my life staring into a screen.

Sorry 'bout that. I certainly won't be staring into THIS screen anymore.

joho 1:53 PM  

I bit on every misdirect especially "Boston, Chicago or Kansas."

Loved the clue for MAKESAMESS.

There was just too much I didn't know and the crosses were not KIND. So in the end my first answer for HUH which was dUH is exactly how I felt!

Cool-And-Trendy 2:12 PM  

@Jazzmanchgo, good riddance.

Susierah 2:46 PM  

Way too much for me! Got abs, Probst, falco, teapot dome, slap danced (wrong). And that was it! Defeated after 40 minutes. But hey, it's Saturday, and it is supposed to be challenging!! Didn't even bother to google!

Z 3:04 PM  

@jazzmanchgo - I certainly didn't intend to be personal. My only point was that it wasn't a "random" website. I re-read my last two comments and do not see "snide" (which I can be) or "ad hominem"

Norm 3:15 PM  

I'm calling a foul on 32D. Willie was not "Say Hey Kid"; he was THE Say Hey Kid -- just as Babe was THE Sultan of Swat. You include the one "the" in the clue; how can you omit it (or not note the omission -- as in 16A) for the answer? Not that it made this 1960-present Giants fan have any problem with the answer (as opposed to the movie-related portions of the puzzle, since my knowledge [hi there, bigsteve46] is about an inch wide deep on those points), but it annoyed me.

Mette 3:20 PM  

Loved it. Hand up for mIlD for KIND, so it was embarassing how long it took to fill in C-Y-E. Was looking for some obscure Beatty movie like The BOBO. Having Kappa Pi for a frat made those crab legs tough to see and made the political hack a poller. So, so satisfying to work it out. And it felt very fresh.

Gill I. P. 3:21 PM  

I too, could not get into the groove of this puzzle. I like difficult Saturday's but so much of this was beyond my ken. That BOBO COHO BABA area made me throw my TIARA into the PCHELP basket.
For some peculiar reason I'm having a craving for a blue slurpee filled with bologna.

Fred Romagnolo 4:07 PM  

Ultimately gave up; I didn't bother to google because I thought the total obscurities in this one weren't worth it. If anybody read my comment yesterday (I'm a West Coast latey) it goes for this one too. @Z may not have meant to be "ad hominem", but @cool-and-trendy certainly did. NOT cool and I hope NOT trendy. @NCA President: Tosca has a boy singer, so does "Amahl and the Night Visitors." @jazzmanchgo: don't go, there are those who can appreciate your point of view. I'm sure @Z meant no personal offense (and he does take the time to apologize, he's done it with me). And we all have Sunday to look forward to!

Melodious Funk 4:19 PM  

Correct me if I'm wrong. COHO is salmon, blue jack is mackerel. I don't believe there is a blue jack salmon.

And Norm seems right to me. It's THESAYHEYKID. It's an appellation said by others. "Hello, Mr. Say Hey Kid?" Don't think so.

But who's quibbling? Great puzzle. I got exactly 80%, no suss-out in the NW. 2 hours of fun.

The Free Dictionary 4:28 PM  

Noun 1. blue jack - small salmon of northern Pacific coasts and the Great Lakes
Oncorhynchus kisutch, silver salmon, coho, coho salmon, cohoe

Consider yourself corrected.

OISK 4:30 PM  

@jazzmanchgo - I never heard of five thirty eight either. I usually take some flak for my ignorance of pop culture, not of politics, but I'm still here. @ Moly Shu - thanks for the thought, but one opera reference doesn't quite make up for Creem, Baba O Riley, Slam Danced, Agent J (??) and WII Mote. I finished it. Never heard of "Probst", either. Didn't like it. I've said this before, but just because the pop references are annoying to me, doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the puzzle. It was a rough, unpleasant slog for me, but Rex apparently has watched "Survivor" (if that is what the reference was) and has listened to the Who. (Who? OK, I have heard of them. I also knew that they wrote the Theme Song for the original CSI; my wife told me…) It's all a matter of what we choose to watch, listen to, and absorb. Good, solid, Saturday puzzle, but not for me.

chefwen 4:35 PM  

Avatar is a HEELER and one of his many names is BOBO.

Re. puzzle - HUH?

Lewis 4:40 PM  

Good critique, Rex, well stated, and at the end you said it was just your opinion.

I disagreed with your assessment of "I'm it!", however. I seem to recall yelling that in my youth.

For "Performed hits at a concert?" I knew it was wrong, but actually put in SMOKEDDOPE. For "Cut it" I had DOTHEJIG at first and it made me smile.

I did Google several times, and as a result, this was a fun solve.

Lewis 4:42 PM  

Oh, I know I'm late here, but can someone explain TIMESTAMP? Thanks!

Casco Kid 4:45 PM  

hAnkArron, who followed Ruth as the HR leader, fits.
spiders hang on threads and fit. Brides wear Trains, which fits. WIIgrip is the name of the hand held gaming device, and it fits. I was ampED up for strike threE. And rockgroup, etc.

2:10 until I through in the towel. A dozen googles, including one that reveal the Peter Sellers movie to be Waltz of the Torreadors, and another that defined the blue jack as a fish known as the Jack Dempsey.

Worst clue in my year of daily solving goes to [Big magnets?] MECCAS

I learned in the post mortem: ward heelers. The are called ward captains where I'm from.

Meanwhile, I'm back in my place in Rex's kindergarten class. Rumors of my promotability were exaggerated.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  


emails have Timestamps, which indicate time and date e-mail was sent.

Casco Kid 5:07 PM  

Threw in the towel, naturally.

DigitalDan 5:12 PM  

If you are home schooled, you need a GED to stand in for the high school diploma that can't be awarded. Nothing to do necessarily with remedialness.

Doc John 6:06 PM  

Well, I'm always happy when I come here and find that Rex has rated the puzzle as harder than I thought it was. I managed to make it through the whole thing in one sitting- rare for me on a Saturday- so I'll give it a medium rating. I guess I just got lucky on some of the clues. ALASKAN KING CRAB, for one.
I had a malaplop early on when I put in "amped" instead of KEYED, only to find that AMP really went in three spaces later.
When I was a kid, I caught the very end of "The Bobo" on the Late Movie but they called it "The Singing Blue Matador." All I really saw was Mr. Sellers being forced to take a bath in blue dye and then we were supposed to believe that it permanently dyed him blue. Next, he sang as a bull charged him and it ran away. The End. Very strange movie, to say the least!

Melodious Funk 6:21 PM  

I will consider myself corrected about blue jack. I was going from memory, you're one up with the free dictionary.

I was never really a fisherman anyway. I only listened under the table when my daddy spoke.

sanfranman59 7:47 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 5:47, 6:04, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:20, 8:32, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:41, 9:54, 0.88, 23%, Easy-Medium
Thu 22:19, 18:08, 1.23, 85%, Challenging
Fri 20:33, 21:06, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Sat 30:01, 26:36, 1.13, 83%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:55, 0.94, 18%, Easy
Tue 5:52, 5:11, 1.13, 82%, Challenging
Wed 5:35, 6:11, 0.90, 25%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:41, 10:44, 1.58, 95%, Challenging
Fri 11:58, 12:15, 0.98, 44%, Medium
Sat 22:34, 16:39, 1.36, 94%, Challenging (14th highest ratio of 214 Saturdays)

michael 8:14 PM  

The only way I could ever get the babaoriley/probst cross was by googling....

jae 9:19 PM  

I think what made this one medium instead of tough for me was knowing BABA O'RILEY.

kms 9:18 AM  

Can't believe I flashed on THE SAY HEY KID, my favorite player of all time (and probably most everybody else's)...a problem of knowing too much, Sultan of Swat, homers, looked up list to find a name, and not the nickname. But hit me like a ton of bricks and glad for that moment!

Luscious ALASKAN KING CRAB,pretty weird clue. Had to look up spelling on BABA ORILEY, but here again a favorite song of mine and brothers & sisters - 1st 8 track tape I ever got, along w/ keys to family car on bday. great thing here was classic Sunday morning wakeup to new thinking on TOPHONORS, FCC and luckily watching MIB II w/ my daughter yesterday to get AGENTJ

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

@NCA President at 9:33 a.m.

I'm late getting to this, but as I can't see that any of the other classical music geeks here responded to your question: the only one I know of -- but it is an important one -- is that of the Trio (Terzetto) of boy singers in The Magic Flute (of course, properly a Singspiel, but generally referred to as an opera, I think). Per Wiki, the ranges of the voices are 'treble, alto and mezzo-soprano'. Were I a computer geek as well, I would embed something from YouTube. But worth checking out, if one is of a mind to do so, as is, of course the entire thing.

As to puzzle, had to enlist puzzle aids, so a great big DNF and a great big DNE.


Maruchka 11:03 AM  

35A came fast - ate a ton of LUSCIOUS LEGS at friends' Vancouver BC wedding.

I saw Henry Aaron (my favorite player - I recommend his bio, I HAD A HAMMER) break Ruth's record! Could not suss SAY HEY KID, though. Sorry, Willie.

Liked the BOY SOPRANO/edieFALCO diagonal.

TEAPOT DOME came easy. Love it when the long A's are intuitive and correct. But I always thought it was wardHEALERS? Huh..

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spacecraft 12:01 PM  

DNF in the SE, mainly due to the fatal error of mIlD for "Clement." Stormy weather is inclement, so...couldn't make sense of 60a; don't know what "SLAMDANCED" is. Who "performs" this, the performer or the audience? I have no clue. When I went to concerts, most of us were zoned out (already, or at any rate soon after getting there) and just sat back and enjoyed. In fact, at one James Gang gig, we were all so unresponsive (overtly, but inwardly we were tripping) that the drummer, Jimmie Foxx, threw his sticks down and stomped off the stage, ending the concert. But I don't know from SLAMDANCE.

CREEM? Now that I see it in the answer, it seems to jog a memory cell or two, but just couldn't come up with it. And Mannheim--yeah, right. Mr. Obscurity of the Week. KARL, eh? If you say so.

I'm familiar with the Who hit, but the title is something I never knew. I have no clue what "Out here in the field" could possibly have to do with BABAORILEY; maybe the guys were tripping then, too.

The rest of the grid I got, though the SW looks like a dog's breakfast after inking in the OBVIOUS gimme for Boston, Chicago and Kansas: ROCKGROUP. Talk about your classic misdirect! A goof like that really MAKESAMESS. Also had ATAD of untidiness in the NW with OrganMUSIC (y'know, the boys' choir?) instead of OPERA.

That is all. On to next week. Again, no hand.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

Thanks but no thanks on this one. Too much for me and too little time.
A mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in obfuscation.

Ron Diego 10:20 AM PST

ctdwag 1:31 PM  

Amahl and the Night Visitors by Giancarlo Menotti

rain forest 3:26 PM  

Funny how some solves go...my first two entries were LED and ISEE, so Id could only be MOBIL, and that pretty well made the NW fall down. I took off down the W side, got 35a right off and the SW corner was no sweat. I noticed that the clue for 32d said "the Sultan of Swat", so SAYHEYKID, without a "the" was perfect.

Most of the entire E side was a roadblock, so I took a break and came back after about an hour, and things loosened up.

Last to go down was that SE corner. I almost gave up but put in KARL on a hunch, CREEM was dredged up from who know where, and finally finished.

Definitely challenging, and I must go and look up TEAPOTDOME, because I have no idea. None, even though it revealed itself from the crosses.

DMG 3:30 PM  

Way beyond me. Got the NW, but the rest is a few words, some right, some wrong, scattered here and there. Threre's obscure and there's obscure. Someone's fraternity!! Spotted it was two cities and a state but by that time I was too rattled to figure out what they had in common! 'Nuff said .

I note the captchas are back to addresses which obviously don't deter the long-winded! Someday I suppose I should look to see what the aliens are selling!

Waxy in Montreal 8:33 PM  

Fun puzzle very appropriate for a beautiful Saturday's solving. Ended up googling BABAORILEY and AGENTJ but otherwise found this X-word relatively KIND to me. And speaking of X-words, my first inclination for 1D was to enter EXXON cuz ON THE RUN is affiliated with ESSO up here. Would have made for amazing 15A and 17A X-words, maybe XYLOPHONES at 15A...

Loved the SULTANOFSWAT clue for SAYHEYKID, a gimme along with TEAPOTDOME. Never heard the term WIIMOTE but it makes sense in context. Hoped the BOSTON, CHICAGO, KANSAS clue was misdirection referencing the rock bands of those names but sadly twas the more prosaic PLACENAME.

No longer getting poker-friendly captchas so TOPHONORS will elude me - in fact, sure I'll COMELAST.

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

Eeeewwwww : p

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

I can only reply as anonymous, and have had comment freeze on iPhone too

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

My dad always checks in with me for the music clues. He got Creem himself (he remembers I subscribed to it as a teenager) and asked me to approve Slamdanced. I gave him Baba O'Riley and explained why people always get the name of the song wrong. We took a break to sing the gunfighter ballads he taught me as a little girl. I twitted him for not getting the Sultan of Swat follower--he is in charge of all sports questions--and then let him down by guaranteeing Chicago Boston Kansas would have a music answer. Like the person above, I sought hard for a 70s rock adjective.

What fun!

Steve J 11:14 PM  
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