Indie rocker Case / SAT 5-24-14 / Merrie Melodies sheepdog / Certain beach phony / Surrealist known for self-portraits / Field fungus

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: NEKO Case (8D: Indie rocker Case) —
Neko Case (/ˈnk ˈks/;[2] born September 8, 1970)[3] is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her solo career and her contributions as a member of the Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers (wikipedia)

• • •

As I predicted, I finished this well under the time it took me to finish yesterday's. An average Friday time for me, whereas Friday's was an above-average Saturday time. Crazy. I'm always so happy to see a Wentz byline. I mentioned yesterday the Patrick Berry Themeless Ideal (PBTI™), which is kind of like the Zipless Fuck, in Jongian terms (keep in mind I have very little idea what I'm talking about, as I have never read Erica Jong, or Karl Jung for that matter).
The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one. 
Yes. That sounds like an apt comparison to me. PBTI™ is kind of a Platonic ideal of themelesses, with the difference being that Platonic ideals don't actually exist, whereas Patrick Berry, I'm told, does, as do his puzzles. My point is that this puzzle is amazing. Clean. Close to flawless. Crammed with great fill, and not just the lovely central StaggerStack™. EYES FRONT, RECKON SO, LOW COMEDY, TAX FRAUD, all nice. Even THE WOMB and ON TOAST, which kind of look like partials, somehow work with their given clues (note: do *not* order THE WOMB ON TOAST. You will be very disappointed).

Stutter-stepped a bit in the beginning because I couldn't accept ISAAC Singer without the intervening Bashevis. Never seen a Bashevis-less ISAAC Singer. But once I gave in, MACAW and ANISE got me going, and that NW corner was over pretty quickly (though not before I convinced myself that there was some Olde Englishe tradition of giving a child a (fig?) NEWTON for Christmas. I think the clue on BUMS is kind of mean. I mean the very category is kind of mean. [Asks for and receives, as a cigarette], maybe, might've felt better. But I'll get over it. I learned ERGOT (32D: Field fungus) from crosswords and don't really like it as fill but it's hard to argue against crossing JIMMY SWAGGART with a destructive fungus. Which reminds me, I had completely forgotten JIMMY SWAGGART existed before this puzzle. Had the -AGGART part and at first wanted nothing except possibly TED HAGGART (which is not how you spell his name, but you get the idea). I have never seen the name TOM HOOPER before, and that could've killed me, except (as with all well-made puzzles) the crosses made that answer ultimately gettable.

This was just a hugely enjoyable puzzle. That is all. See you tomorrow.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:05 AM  

    A fine medium- tough Sat. for me.  NW was the last to fall, hence the tough part.  I was looking for some version of scold for 1d and had MynAh (which gave me fInE WORK) for too long.  The rest was mostly medium, but dOODLE before NOODLE caused problems...dICK???   The off center center stack is excellent.  

    I also briefly tried slapstick for 5d.

    @Rex - Me too for ERGOT from crosswords.

    Did not know TOM HOOPER.  I should start paying more attention to directors. 

    Has KIDDO ever been clued using Kill Bill?

    Nice one Peter, liked it a lot. 

    Unknown 12:30 AM  

    Bras are not measured in cups.

    I understand the clue was trying to be cute and deceptive, but as worded, it's just wrong.

    mathguy 12:46 AM  

    We just got back from Maui where we saw a banyan tree which spreads over a full block in Lahaina. It has like ten trunks. A sign said that the banyan came from India. It was the first entry I made.

    I didn't think that there was anything easy about the puzzle. Had to work for every sector.

    Moly Shu 12:48 AM  

    Like @Jae, MynAh first which caused all the trouble in the NW. Put RAMBLEDON in and took it out at least 3 times. Also aRGOT before ERGOT which gave me THE WHO'S aLL OUT. Correctable, but difficult to track down. Kill Bill-KIDDO would be a great clue (@Jae, again)

    Liked TAXFRAUD and LOANSHARK, didn't like NOODLEDAROUND so much. Does anyone say that?

    Anonymous 12:55 AM  

    Are you aware of how almost everyone cares zip about how long it takes to solve a crossword?

    Mark 1:26 AM  

    Although was my friend, I thought this was one of the easier Saturdays of this year so far.

    Anonymous 2:15 AM  

    Anonymous said...
    Are you aware of how almost everyone cares zip about how long it takes to solve a crossword?

    From Rex's FAQ page (

    "6. Why do you talk about your solving times? You must think you are So Superior. I think I enjoy the puzzle more than you because I savor it blah blah blah x infinity...

    I like to time myself on occasion, especially on early-week puzzles. I'm always in a kind of low-level training for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (again, above link). I don't care if you are faster / slower than I am, or if you don't care about timing at all. More power to you. Everyone does the puzzle differently. There are solvers of all different speeds who read this site. There's no reason for anyone to feel defensive / self-conscious."

    So yes, he's aware, and no, there's no reason to feel defensive/self-conscious about it. Just because you don't care about it doesn't mean he's going to stop writing about it. Rex Parker, love it or leave it.

    chefwen 2:55 AM  

    Thought this was a tad bit easier than Friday's fare, but we still had to struggle with it. Had TSK TSK in/out and in again. CUBed and dOck before CUBIC and COVE. Had the same trouble with that damned bird at 3D, also wanted Mynah. South east almost done us in, KAHLO was the big ? down there. Googled that and we were done, a DNF but we sure had fun with the rest of it.

    Jisvan 3:13 AM  

    Loved this one, and though I couldn't get it all before turning to my friend Google, I came a lot closer than yesterday. This one had a nice flow, maybe because there was just enough easy stuff to climb on top of before jumping off into space for the longer pearls. A delicious start to the holiday weekend, and to the whole summer season! Also, a great write-up, Rex. Always loved the zipless quote. Kind of hoping death will be like that, no NOODL-ing AROUND, just becoming one with the cosmos, like the BANYAN tree, or THE WOMB... Or maybe I will just be ON TOAST! Happy Memorials, Rex World.

    George Barany 5:38 AM  

    It's always nice when a puzzle is not totally populated by material already in a solver's wheelhouse, and one actually comes away from the solving experience having learned something new, even if that new knowledge is not exactly earth-shattering. Today's puzzle provides at least two quirky examples of the phenomenon.

    First, "The King's Speech," starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, won the *#$%ing Academy Award for Best Picture a few years ago, yet very few of us seem to have honed in on the film's director whose name (TOM HOOPER for those keeping score at home) has never before graced a New York Times grid.

    Second, if you had asked me a day ago who NEKO Case was, you would have been greeted by a big ??? Yet there she was, whoever she is, near the top of my Facebook "trending" feed since Friday morning for calling out Playboy magazine on how they described her, and now here she is, as a debut word in the Saturday New York Times.

    Are Peter Wentz and Will Shortz prescient?!

    Ted Cole 5:42 AM  

    OK, once I came back from going down the "slapstick" road.116

    AliasZ 6:38 AM  

    Is NEW TOY a thing? Or new car, new iPad, new shoes, new toaster? How about THE WOMB, the NEW TOY, the car, the iPad, the shoes, the toaster? If it appears in a NYT puzzle, I RECKON SO.

    What does the KID DO with the NEW TOY? Breaks it.

    The BUMS and THE WHO, now they are (were) a real thing. Imagine THE WHO performing in a TV commercial. I can see the Billboard headline the following morning: THE WHO SELL OUT.

    Is it a coincidence that HOMO and HO DAD are crossing JIMMY SWAGGART?

    These were just some random thoughts flashing through my mind as I worked on this fine Peter Wentz puzzle. I will RAMBLE ON no longer.

    UP NEXT, this rare footage of IGOR Markevitch conducting The Rite of Spring by IGOR Stravinsky without a score (!). That is akin to a trapeze artist performing without a net.

    Neither of these two IGORs had a hunch.

    Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.

    John Child 7:49 AM  

    What @chefwen said, pretty much word for word.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:01 AM  

    I had yAMmerON right out of the gate. I wanted that to be the answer so badly.

    I thought OVERLORD was a little heavy handed vis-a-vis "boss." I suppose if your boss is dictatorial you might call him/her that, so whatever. If I work for someone who is dictatorial, I call them something that starts with A and ends with an E.

    Got ODEON because I've heard they used to cost only a little nickel and you'd put it in and then...oh, never mind.

    Kawasakis used to let the good times roll on motorcycles too.

    JIMMYSWAGGART...compared to the new versions of his ilk, he was a pussy cat. FWIW, Fred Phelps is [heavily] rumored to have come out as gay on his death bed which, according to his son, accounted for his last days excommunication from that church. At least Swaggart was consistent and, as far as I know, stayed out of the political/scientific arena. He could play B3 though...

    retired_chemist 8:09 AM  

    @ Chefwen and @ John Child, I am there with you. CUBed/dOck, MynAh. TSK TSK in and out with Tch Tch.

    ERGOT - knew from real life as a chemist, => ergot alkaloids.

    NICE WORK, Mr. Wentz. Thanks.

    Leapfinger 8:15 AM  

    Was appalled @self for not knowing TOMHOOPER, but Ms Case (Canadian though she be) will receive no invitation to my house.

    Spent a long time on the Kate and Michael pages, elicited much. Nagyan sep.

    Glimmerglass 8:23 AM  

    Not as hard as yesterday's and not as much fun, but by no means "easy." This took me a normal amount of time for a Saturday, which I would rate as "medium-challenging." A fine puzzle with interesting blind alleys. I wanted "the Word" to be someone like John Ciardi. I haven't thought about JIMMY SWAGGART for years, thank God. I'm not a musician, but I think NOODLE AROUND is something purposeless you do with piano or a guitar. "Fiddle" is an excellent clue.

    Robso 8:32 AM  

    Finished this--did not finish yesterday's, so I am with you, Rex. WILL SHORTZ ARE YOU READING THIS??
    Also, confused "mortgagee" with "mortgager" and thought that a person who didn't pay her mortgage during the great recession had been referred to as a "loanshirk." This would have been unfortunate, since it wasn't her fault, but funny nevertheless. Maybe this new term will now have a life!

    Loren Muse Smith 8:43 AM  

    @jae, Moly Shu – me, too, for "mynah" first.

    @Joseph Welling. I don't understand how they're not measured in cups. My only problem with the clue was that I was certain it was too easy to be BRAS. I tried to convince myself it was "teas." Funny that BRAS crosses FRAUD. Thanks so wonderbras, I bet there are some surprised guys out there.

    Personally, I "yammer on" a lot more than RAMBLE. Morning, @NCA President. But I really tend to be pretty short-winded myself. Reminds me of this story. . .

    @chefwen, retired_chemist – great minds, and all that: I had "cubed/dock" first, too.

    @AliasZ – Overheard at a music festival: "This is gonna be great. Did you hear? THE WHO's on first."

    Other holes I dug myself into:

    "curly" for TIE ON
    "apple" for ANISE (in my mind, Jagermeister and apple schnapps are one in the same)
    "lob" for LAB, thinking some kind of easy question for an interviewee
    "neos" for BUMS, feeling all political and smart

    But the real coup de grâce for me – "Daniel Webster" hosting that word show. My only thought was, "Who knew they had shows back then. Hmm. Town halls?"

    So obviously I didn't finish, but I'd say I got about 80 percent. I'd agree this was a little easier for me than yesterday's. Wonder if David's Z fest ran on a Friday so more people could see it? Do fewer people solve Saturdays?

    I could tell even with the blank spots that this was a gem, Peter. Terrific grid, – so elegant *and* six K's to boot. Nice work, kiddo.

    Unknown 8:44 AM  

    Good puzzle. Lots of white space on my first run through, so I thought it would be a struggle, but ended up finishing in just over half of my average Saturday time, so, yeah, easy for me too. Easy, but very enjoyable. I, too, have never heard of NEKO or TOMHOOPER, but thank goodness for crosses.

    evil doug 9:05 AM  


    I thought the same thing--and even figured somebody had coined 'loanshirk' as a clever twist. From Google:

    "The suffix "or" is used to denote the person who performs an action; while the suffix "ee" is used to denote the recipient of that action.  Since the buyer/borrower is pledging the property, he/she is "mortgaging" the property and in known as the "mortgagor".  The lender is the recipient of the pledge, and therefore is the "mortgagee"."


    Burt Offerings 9:12 AM  

    What the zipless fuck is a "hodad?"

    evil doug 9:15 AM  

    A poseur surfer.


    Carola 9:23 AM  

    Following yesterday's drubbing, I fairly SWAGGART when I finished this one in 15 minutes - a very fast Saturday for me. It took me a lot of reading through the clues to get started, though - I had to go all the way to KAPLAN x JETSKIS, and then TOM HOOPER led me into the center and beyond. One write-over: ord to SFO. Enjoyed the many grid treats @Rex mentioned - NICE WORK and how.

    I had the same feeling as @Rex about ISAAC but couldn't think of any other Singers. Speaking of which, I learned NEKO Case from a BEQ puzzle and figured she was probably one to remember.

    @Glimmerglass - Yes! Off the J, I even started counting spaces for John ciardi even though it obviously wasn't going to fit.

    @loren -Me and BRAS FRAUD - busted!

    PeterTK 9:24 AM  

    Started out at 5-down with "slapstick". This threw me off for quite a while, but finally gave up on it when I realized 16-across had to be "nice work" which seems almost a mantra of soccer parents these days. Smooth sailing after that.

    Leapfinger 9:29 AM  

    Ditto Bashevis.

    I may still have been in OVERLORD from yesterday's Steinberg, but this seemed SOMME easier than expected. What I didn't know outright usually had somme association, eg, "Under the spreading BANYAN tree, the village dhotis dry". Naturally, there were writeovers --- as mentioned, MYNAH-FINE WORK, CUBED-DOCK, also HEMAN'HODAD and WWhitman conned me into YOWPS (var).

    Had good memories of the old L'ODEON theatre and the SF mag ANALOG; also wondered about the Nashery of the 2-L LLOUT.

    LOW COMEDY is rather like porn, you recognize it when you see it, but what is High Comedy? Brit drawing-room humour? PGWodehouse, Noel Coward, Oscar Wilde?

    Last December, no NEW TOY, but a pair of Frida KAHLO socks. Now I can walk around with a unibrow over each malleolus.

    THE WOMB: Being born is everyone's first experience with eviction.

    I used to be a scatterbrain, but then I GOTAHEAD. SERBS me right.

    I raise my eyes unto the Heels; from Wentz cometh my help. My cup runneth over.

    A lovely weekend to all.

    Sir Hillary 9:30 AM  

    This was SOMME kind of great puzzle.

    Yep, MynAh. Almost wrote in KAfka, puzzled that I didn't know he was also a painter.

    Love THEWHOSELLOUT. Makes me laugh thinking of the album cover with Pete Townshend using the oversized underarm deodorant.

    My solving pattern had me thinking for a minute that perhaps Jerry Springer hosted a different kind of show than I associated him with.

    HODAD is completely new to me. Urban Dictionary asserts that they were definitely not POSEURS (from yesterday) -- so hmmm...

    Did this one make me happy? RECKONSO.

    joho 9:32 AM  

    I crashed and burned again in the SW. I convinced myself that it was tOODLEDAROUND so even when I thought "handle" had something to do with a name, I didn't see it. Fiddles don't tOODLE! What does? A flute?

    I also didn't know TOMHOOPER but sure knew his movie. Must read up.

    There's a huge BANYAN tree down in Key West, too. They really are something.

    I had OVERseer for a bit but did get that corner fixed.

    Lovely puzzle, Peter Wentz. Your grids always feel like a pangram even when they aren't. NICEWORK!

    evil doug 9:33 AM  

    Try a real dictionary....

    Steve M 9:54 AM  

    Best nyt puzzle in weeks

    Leapfinger 9:56 AM  

    Once read a sort of psychobabble article about the effect of a person's name, along the lines that Richard Speck because he felt insignificant. Along those lines, JIMMY SWAGGART contains SWAG and SWAGGAR (var). I refuse to concede the ART.

    Love your stuff. I had an aunt, a fabulous lady of the old European school, probably the most solipsistic person I've known, but I'm certain that's what had her survive the camps. She ultimately passed away in her late 80s, in bed one night, with an open book. I'm putting in a request for ditto.

    Anonymous 9:57 AM  

    BRAS, ECHO, ODEON, SERBS, INN are just about the only answers I got before I had to resort to some serious Googling. With those in place I was able to uncover most of the other gettable answers.
    Almost finished but still DNF.
    Hugely enjoyable puzzle despite all that. Thanks, Mr. Wentz.

    RAD2626 10:03 AM  

    Totally agree that BUMS was non-PC and very unlike NYT. How about British posterior?TAX FRAUD and IGOR great clues. JETSKIS big help in SW. Thought SE was hardest even with LOAN SHARK and HAITI gifts. Had real trouble seeing RECKON SO. NEW TOY sort of a stretch. Fun puzzle. Challenging but doable.

    Dirigonzo 10:04 AM  

    Heman/HODAD, solId/CUBIC, hOWLS/YOWLS, OVERseer/OVERLORD, all easily fixed. Not so having "Command to pay attention" be listenup which fit perfectly until I discovered I had written it in the wrong space (where my favorite answer, TAXFRAUD, eventually wound up); that took a lot of straightening out.

    Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and please remember to take time out to honor those who gave their lives in defense of our nation.

    Zwhatever 10:07 AM  

    So close and yet so far... Looking at TOM HO-PER a P seemed reasonable. I never grokked "brum" as being pronounced like broom until post-failure, so looking at S-P brum I figured StP brum must be something for German cars. This left me with dICK tAME for "handle." Uh - okay. Ran the alphabet a couple of times to see what elst that D or T could be, never considered HOOPER. Maybe I'll enter a definition in the Urban Dictionary for dICKtAMing and be all set.

    I have seen NEKO Case live - outstanding singer, but she hasn't even played a mid-sized venue in in the Detroit area, yet, so I was a little surprised that she is crossworthy. I missed the playboy flap, but I am not surprised by her response. NEKO on Letterman or singing Maybe Sparrow. Her earlier solo work has more of a country twang to it, but The New Pornographers and her later solo work are much more mainstream pop.

    Norm 10:17 AM  

    Started with YADAYADA and then had to reboot and work my way from BANYAN down and around clockwise. This one was not in my wheelhouse but played very fair. A great Saturday puzzle. My sense of the Friday-Saturday progression was the opposite of Rex's so I was very satisfied.

    Unknown 10:46 AM  

    UPNEXT, the newest installment of our continuing series on how to do crossword puzzles wrong, deeply wrong.

    Grueling. 2 hours. 5 googles. A dozen or so cheats courtesy of my expert solving buddy here to clear away solid, if wrong, answers.

    Lots of places for wrong entry. The rabbit holes came early and went deep.

    [1A. Talk,talk, talk] yAdayada and yAktyyak
    [5D. Pie-in-the-face scenes, say] slapstick
    [16A. "Good going!"] welldOne
    [17A. Words before many a commercial] ournew
    [2D. Sharing word] heRe
    [13D. Down, in a diner] ONplate
    [28D. Certain beach phony] HemAn
    [39D. Doctor's orders] StAtS
    [47A. Having depth] tUBIC
    [35D. Kawasaki products] J_biKeS
    [25A. Italian title] sgr

    I should have mistrusted all of these answers, but then I would also have mistrusted MOTHS, SERBS, COVE, EGO, ANISE, and a dozen more that were just as precarious, but -- as it turned out -- right.

    After an hour with only about a third of the puzzle populated, I reread recent advice from @SteveJ @JAE and @LudyJynn to give up on what doesn't work and move on. KAPLAN was the only answer I had > 75% confidence for, so I was ready to pitch the whole puzzle. I decided to google for TOMHOOPER, NEKO Case, JIMMYSWAGGART, THEWHOSELLOUT, BANYAN. I tried googling "Brum" but got nowhere there. The googles knocked out a lot of wrong answers, finally saw LOWCOMEDY, and ground to a halt with 80% of the puzzle complete and still lots of surviving wrongness, and I could not tell which.

    tOODLEDAROUND kept NICKNAME invisible, which kept ECHO, TKO and SNO invisible.

    SNO Brum and HODAD are new to me. TKO clue was subtle enough to be ungettable until I was staring at T_O having gotten JETSKIS from a kibitz.

    And to give you some calibration here, let's take [1D. Took downtown]. This was probably a reference to being arrested, taken for questioning, collared, booked, sent up the river. It was also aware that it could also mean asked on a date, shown the lights, but much less likely so. I had _ _ _ I _ after giving up on 1A. yAdayada and yaktyyak. It took me 10 passes to suss the five-letter RAN IN. How many of you just dropped it in? Everbody? (Ergo, Easy-Medium.) In better times, I may have to. For some reason I need lot more patience these days: 1-2 hours before I call it quits.

    I've never not DNF'ed a Sunday, but I've been close many times. Maybe I'll catch a break? Here's hoping.

    mac 10:55 AM  

    Very good puzzle, medium-tough for me and definitely easier than yesterday's.

    I too started with slapstick, after I had discarded Lori(e) Singer.

    Never heard of Ho Dad, but it appeared through crosses. Loooved Eyes Front!

    Have a good, tasty Memorial Day weekend, everyone! Now I return to the kitchen....

    GILL I. 11:13 AM  

    NOODLED and two new words...
    NEKO sounds like quite a colorful broad. I'll bet she'll be the NEW TOY in crossword puzzles.
    The P in KAPLAN/HOOPER was the last to fall. I went and got out my copy of "The Kings Speech" hoping his name would appear....It did! Yay me for finding a new way to cheat.
    The clue for IGOR and HOMO made me laugh...HODAD KIDDO!
    NICE WORK Peter Wentz.
    Have a safe Memorial Day all you folks. I can already smell the black angus hamburgers being grilled and I just know there will be three kinds of potato salad...! The start of summer, woo woo...

    Anonymous 11:16 AM  

    Did anyone else have MinAh instead of MACAW?

    That gave me fINE WORK and a big DNF. TSK TSK.

    And what's with all numbers in the captcha? Feels like I'm tracking a package...

    Anonymous 11:21 AM  

    Agree with Rex about relative difficulty this week. Today was my fastest Saturday on the Magmic app! whereas yesterday was a rare DNF

    Nancy 11:21 AM  

    Also had MYNAH at first, along with RATTLE ON instead of RAMBLE ON. But eventually finished the NW. Wanted either BONSAI or BAMBOO for the tree of India. But eventually finished the NE correctly too. JIMMY SWAGGART coming in on one Y and two Gs helped enormously with the remainder. But then came the SE. I was pretty sure it was TSK TSK instead of TUT TUT, but not 100% sure. And not knowing KAHLO was a disaster. I couldn't find anyway for GOT AHEAD to come in. And KIDDO???? Sorry, Mr. W. but I hate, hate, hate that clue and answer. Not to mention yet again another obscure song/album title. Is there no end to them, Will? Almost every day this month. Anyway, a toughie for me.

    Hartley70 11:33 AM  

    Really good Saturday since I struggled for 40 minutes before I got it all. All my first pass seat of the pants answers were wrong. When I turned from the clues to the grid it was a mishmash of a jumble! Like Casco Kid I had to work for every answer except of my childhood BFF as an aside.

    Carola 11:36 AM  

    @Casco Kid - Contributing to your RAN IN poll. When I first read the clue, with nothing written in that part of the grid, I first thought of basketball - shots taken from downtown - though the wording didn't seem quite right. But once I had ISAAC, I figured it was "[something] IN," and that's when the police connection occurred to me. RAN then helped me a lot with RAMBLED, ANALOGUE and NICE WORK.

    Responding to the rest of your post - like you, the only entry I was confident of was KAPLAN, so that was the first thing I wrote in. Luckily, I found it easy to build from that, as I live where there is plenty of SNO in the winter (had never heard of the "Brum" but surmised it might be along the lines of Sno-Cat), and there are plenty of JETSKIS racing around our lakes in the summer. And then I was able to confirm those two with crosses. Basically, I'm a very conservative solver - I almost never write in anything unless I know it for sure or can confirm with at least one cross.

    John O'Malley 11:36 AM  

    I don't get "Horace man?". Anyone?

    The Answer Man 11:43 AM  


    The Answer Man PT. II 11:47 AM  

    Ecce Homo

    Anonymous 11:49 AM  

    Horace=Quintus Horatius Flaccus.
    Roman poet.
    Latin for man= Homo

    Andrew Heinegg 11:55 AM  

    Horace was an ancient Roman writer and wrote in Latin. Homo is Latin for man.

    Dick Swart 12:03 PM  

    I faced the Saturday puzzle beaten from my Friday degaussing experience. How could I take more humiliation on Saturday?

    But Thank You, Peter Wentz! A challenging crossword with many fun answers that were tauntingly clued, yet a part of the popular argot when revealed!

    What a puzzle should be: Difficult, possible, fun, and after finishing - reaffirming you Ayn Rand-like belief in your 6 down!

    Mohair Sam 12:10 PM  

    Very difficult for us, but we managed to finish taking full advantage of our tag-team approach - what I don't know she probably does and vice-versa. Might have naticked on the "O" on NEKO, but got it right.

    Didn't hate this puzzle, but didn't enjoy as much as most here. The puzz was fine technically, but the challenge was filling unknown (to us) nouns, as opposed to enjoying any "aha" moments. And we're with @ALias Z on NEWTOY. It could replace "green paint" as an example of green paint.

    Hands up for blowing it on the obvious gimme slapstick. Finally gave up on it when remembered SWAGGART, although I wrote in JAMES at first. Also suffered the mortgage "ee" and "or" confusion and took too long for LOANSHARK.

    Lived in Syracuse for 30 years and never heard of SNO Brum, always good to learn new words in the crossword (so long as they fill!) - added NEKO, SOMME, BANYAN, and HODAD to our vocab.

    RnRGhost57 12:12 PM  

    Great puzz, made even nicer by The Who and NEKO Case entries.

    Leapfinger 12:31 PM  

    @Casco Kid: God love your persistence

    UP NEXT, SOMME words on ERGOT, apparently not familiar to SOMME solvers.

    BOTANISTS know it as 'rye fungus'
    Cattle ranchers know it as something that can decimate herds.
    Salem knows it as the possible source of hysteria associated with witchcraft.
    Trippers know it as LSD.
    Pregnant women since the Middle Ages know it as something that empties THE WOMB.
    People with migraine know it as Midrin.
    I've seen a patient with ergot poisoning. Several fingers and toes necrosed at the ends and needed partial amputation. She also lost the tip of her nose.
    There will be no test, this is only a RAMBLE.

    Think I'll trade in my Rublk Cube for a CUBIC Rube.

    Ludyjynn 12:32 PM  

    What a difference a day makes...sort of. Enjoyed this one much more than yesterday, but DNF, again, in the SW corner, due to boneheaded refusal to let go of a stupid answer (I won't tell you what it was; it was that dumb). See, @Casco, it is easier to give advice than to take it!

    Very clever clueing for the main, as others have noted. Esp. liked IGOR and HOMO. HODAD is new to me, but gettable via crosses, as was NEKO.

    A challenging, fun outing. Thanks, PW and WS.

    UPNEXT, digging in the garden on this gorgeous holiday weekend.

    Unknown 12:34 PM  

    From Downtown, it's @Carola with THREEEEEEEE. Nice basketball tie-in, or should I say, TIEON. I hadn't thought of that one.

    Norm 1:01 PM  

    Forgot to say that I wanted HOMERED for TOOKDOWNTOWN ...

    jdv 1:10 PM  

    Easy-Med. Just looking at the grid and nothing else, I would have guessed this was a Patrick Berry puzzle because of the Staggerstack (I don't know how to attach the TM).

    I liked this as much as yesterday's puzzle, but this one started out very challenging with scattershot answers here and there after the first go around. It came together, but caused much more despair than yesterday's.

    NOODLEDAROUND is outside my language and I think I'll keep it that way. I don't call my Buds KIDDO; that wouldn't go over too well. I had OVERSEER, which is a much better answer than OVERLORD. I've always regarded INN as a hotel and a PUB as a place to drink beer. Finally, I really think it's time to retire HODAD; I've never heard anyone called that. It's one of those only in crosswords thing.

    evil doug 1:29 PM  

    Hodad's: World class burger dive in Ocean Beach, near San Diego.


    Unknown 1:38 PM  

    TOUCH-EM-ALL, @Norm! Yet another "Took downtown." How'd I miss these?

    OISK 1:53 PM  

    Grrr. Found out I have a DNF when I came here. Didn't know "Ergot" (although I should have remembered it from crosswords past,) and since I don't know The Who from the what or where, (nor have I ever heard of Neko, but that was gettable from the crosses) I had argot and "The Who's All Out" which makes as much sense as "The Who sell out." Finished yesterday's perfectly, and enjoyed it a lot more. But notwithstanding the personal Natick, this was an apt Saturday puzzle. Broke another short winning streak for me, due to the usual pop culture ignorance…I join the others who did not like the clue for "bras" but I got it immediately. No need to ramble on...

    Mette 1:57 PM  

    It took awhile, but I finished yesterday. Today, not a prayer in the NW. Fell for mynah and my sharing word was each rather than OURS. Old COMEDY. Also wanted yammer. But the killer was not seeing the mistake in hOWLS. What kid would not want a yoh-yoh for Christmas?

    Lewis 1:59 PM  

    Rex, that was one great writeup. You were happy. You were funny. You were witty. And insightful. Bravo!

    @jisvan -- death on toast! Good one!

    Like someone earlier, I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, but yesterday's was more fun. They were of about equal difficulty for me. Two different kinds of wonderful.

    I would appreciate an explanation of "Having depth" for cubic. Thanks!

    Carola 2:05 PM  

    @Lewis - I understood it to mean that a cube has 3 dimensions, as opposed to, say, a rectangle drawn on a piece of paper that has only 2 and thus has length and width but no depth.

    Steve J 2:15 PM  

    I'll join the chorus of others singing this puzzle's praises. Great example of how to construct a tough-but-fair themeless.

    Had scattered entry points, but the SW, NE and center came together first for me. Had scattered bits in the NW, but couldn't decide between RAttLE ON or RAMBLE ON. LOW COMEDY came into view thanks to crosses in the center, and that finally fell.

    SE was tough for me. Like @Robso, I thought "mortgagee" meant the person to whom the money was loaned - and I also tried LOAN SHiRK at first (which I could totally see having been a term used in certain circles). For some reason I didn't associate surrealism with KAHLO, so I couldn't see her name forever. Finally got going with IGOR and his fantastic clue, and the (crossword) gimmee TEC.

    @Casco Kid: A year ago, I didn't even attempt Saturdays. Today, I had one where I was able to piece things together steadily from a few entry points (some of which matched with things I already knew: I'm a huge NEKO Case fan, for example) and finish with minimal help (I looked up ERGOT to confirm it was right). Progress may seem slow, but it comes, sometimes in spurts. I admire your persistence, and it'll pay off.

    Arlene 3:05 PM  

    Everyone seems to love this puzzle - but I didn't know the two long answers - 30A and 35A - so that makes me a little crabby.

    I'm insecure about Saturdays anyway - having avoided them for years, opting to skip right to Sunday which gets delivered the same day.

    But chiming in here is fun - so I'll just say that I finished it (albeit with Googling), feel triumphant that I'm now a Saturday-solver. And let that suffice.

    Evan 3:24 PM  

    I agree with others that this was a good, clean puzzle. It took me a little while to get a toehold, but I found it with TKO, ECHO, and NICKNAME, and then it was a pretty easy puzzle from there, with OVERSEER before OVERLORD being my only trouble like others had. I was a little worried for a while that 53-Across was going to be GOT AN A ON, which would have been kinda ridiculous and yet maybe silly enough to get me to appreciate it more in retrospect -- but fortunately it was GOT AHEAD.

    I've just posted a tough 66-word themeless of my own over at Devil Cross (with a grid shape that's fairly similar to this one), as well as my list of bad fill I try to avoid. There's room for debate over what makes bad fill, but I'd say there's very little stuff from my list in Peter's puzzle today.

    Fred Romagnolo 3:29 PM  

    I knew ERGOT having suffered from cluster headaches in my 40's. It had to be taken at the very first sign of the headache coming on. As a San Franciscan, I never heard of SNO Brum. HODAD was new to me, too. EYESright held me from the obvious BRA for a while. I'm with the people who confuse mortgagees and mortgagers. Like Rex, I think of ISAAC Singer to be akin to Andrew Weber (sans LLoyd), because Bashevis didn't have a famous cellist as a brother whose last name made it clear. I'm also lukewarm on KIDDO.

    Mohair Sam 4:02 PM  

    FENNEL yesterday, ANISE today. Think I'll buy some licorice at the flick tonite.

    Had to gronk out ANISE because we had never heard of Jagermeister. Just went to the liquor store (state store here in PA) to buy some vodka and opened the door to a huge sign saying "Jagermeister Special". Learn something everyday, and got to teach the store clerk that Jagermeister contains anise.

    Leapfinger 5:03 PM  

    Good one, @Evan. You got me with ROMPERS and IN REACH. Liked your 7 E clue

    jae 5:17 PM  

    @Casco - Yadayada was my first thought for 1a, but I'm also conservative (@Carola) and a quick check of the downs showed it wasn't going to work...MynAh (which turned out to be wrong) and EGO, plus no "sharing word" starting with D.

    For future reference, a five letter flavor/ingredient of ________ is often ANISE, a very crossword friendly word.

    Dirigonzo 5:27 PM  

    @Mohair Sam - I always learn something new from doing puzzles but I seldom get to use it almost immediately as you did today. In fact I usually forget it and have to learn it all over when it shows up in another puzzle.

    sanfranman59 7:10 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 7:57, 6:04, 1.31, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 229 Mondays)
    Tue no data
    Wed 11:16, 9:54, 1.14, 81%, Challenging
    Thu no data
    Fri 25:12, 21:15, 1.19, 83%, Challenging
    Sat 21:15, 26:31, 0.80, 11%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:59, 3:57, 1.26, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest ratio of 229 Mondays)
    Tue no data
    Wed 7:21, 6:11, 1.19, 89%, Challenging
    Thu no data
    Fri 16:53, 12:39, 1.33, 89%, Challenging
    Sat 14:09, 16:35, 0.85, 22%, Easy-Medium

    Fern 7:35 PM  

    Missing M & A....and u count, desperations, and runt puz
    and numinous too

    Unknown 10:38 PM  

    Loren said:

    "I don't understand how they're not measured in cups."

    As far as I know, they all come with two cups. If "cup" is a unit of measurement, I've never heard of it.

    It was easy enough to get, but that doesn't mean it was right.

    Anonymous 12:55 AM  

    Yesm @JosWelling, bras all come with two cups --- of different sizes --- just as all athletic supporters come with one cup. I think I'm correct on that.

    Perhaps the problem is that with athletic supporters, the cups are all the same size.

    Anonymous 8:55 AM  

    not the expert you all are but a fan nevertheless. MORTGAGEE is NOT a loan shark. This is just plan wrong. It's the sub-prime MORTAGOR who's the shark.

    KMS 11:27 AM  

    finished yesterday at a major league game (air conditioned for the 1st time which narrows down where, but just not the same), and as others above, NW came last. BANYAN, got me started, which begot EYES something, then BUMS, which glad we can still say..ISAAC came from deep, ill-defined memory, and was forcing NAGAT, before MACAW hit, then ANISE, NICEWORK, etc. agree w/ Mr. Parker, Steinberg's reach on Friday, made this Saturday that much more enjoyable.

    Steve J 12:52 PM  

    @Joseph Welling: Bras are measured two ways: Chest circumference and cup size, such as 34B. So, yes, bras are absolutely measured in cups (A, B, C, D, DD, etc.).

    @Anon 8.55: Actally, "mortgagee" is the one who is lending the money, not the one receiving the loan. The clue/answer is absolutely correct, although it tripped up many (including me; I had the same thought that "mortgagee" was the borrower, but a quick google showed I was wrong).

    Lee 2:46 PM  

    No we can't say "bums" in the context of the clue. Imagine a NYT story with a photo of people in a poor part of town collecting spare change. The caption would never refer to them as "bums"? Why would standards of human decency be lower in a crossword puzzle?

    Charles Flaster 11:30 PM  

    Just finished----no help. Three quarters of puzzle done in 12 minutes.Upper left took another 30 minutes until I got RAN IN. Then it flowed.Loved RECKON SO AND EYES FRONT as my favorite teacher always said it.Never heard of LOW COMEDY.??
    Loved the puzzle.

    Anonymous 4:32 PM  

    Hi Hum Hodad!
    : o

    Anonymous 4:37 PM  

    HoHum, Hodad!
    : o

    spacecraft 8:49 PM  

    I tried posting earlier, but got sidetracked to a sign-up page for G___le mail. I hope this is not a permanent condition; if it is, I'll have to say Sayonara to you fine folks. Nobody is going to force me into accepting a service, even if I might want it.

    Though now too late to be read, probably, I still want to comment on today's puzzle, which for me was anything but wasy. Casting about for a foothold, I saw ISAAC, but as I could not confirm that with any of the crosses I left it. Same thing with HAITI.

    Finally started in with the very promising UPNEXT/TAXFRAUD cross. I know lots of diner lingo, but "down" for ONTOAST is a new one on me. Got there on crosses.

    A true natick stared at me at NEK_/S_MME; never heard of either one--and judging by the extremely foul mouth of the former, I'm glad of it. I guessed O, correctly, and thus finished this Gordian knot without error. I had to work very hard all the way around, taking well over an hour to do it, but I got 'er done.

    Reading over this blog, it occurred to me that because I'd mentioned that I didn't have to G___le anything, the appearance of that word might have triggered the sidetrack, so from now on I'll never spell that word (You know, competitor of Bing) again.

    2529=18=9: a natural!

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