Onetime Toronado informally / SAT 6-21-14 / Cigar with clipped ends / Xenophobe's bane / Game in which top trumps are called matadors / Strategic port raided by Sir Francis Drake in 1587 / Sierra Nevada evergreen / Kramer vs. Kramer novelist Corman / Onetime capital of Mughal empire / Onetime resident of White House with cleft palate / Handy talent

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Constructor: Brad Wilber and Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: W. C. Handy (22A: Handy talent? => BLUES) —
William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a blues composer and musician. He was widely known as the "Father of the Blues".
Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music.
Handy was an educated musician who used folk material in his compositions. He was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which frequently combined stylistic influences from several performers. (wikipedia)
• • •

Ooh, a supergroup. Can a supergroup have just two members? I say yes. These are two of my favorite constructors, so when I say it was slightly weaker than I expected, keep in mind that I expect Amazing when I see either of these constructors' names. What I got was solid and entertaining—a nice Saturday challenge—but tepid in places (namely the whole big SW quadrant), with this one odd answer that's irritating me like an eyelash in my eye that I can't get out. That answer is RIS (32A: ___ d'agneau), an answer so … bad? I wanna say "bad" … that I feel like virtually all other alternatives in that "R"'s place would've been better, even ones that result in partials, abbreviations, unlikely plural names, etc. So I've never heard of this lamb dish (clearly). I've also had 7+ years of French and have no idea what "RIS" means unless it means "smile." Is the lamb smiling? Something tells me no. Here's the wikipedia definition:

Sweetbreads or ris are culinary names for the thymus (also called throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) or thepancreas (also called heart, stomach, or belly sweetbread), especially of the calf (ris de veau) and lamb (ris d'agneau), and less commonly of beef and pork.
Still not sure exactly what "RIS" means, but I think it's a. French and b. not widely known outside specific culinary contexts. I'm torn here, in that the dishes are real things, so "RIS" is clearly a thing (though autocorrect has now turned it into "rid" half a dozen times so far during this write-up). But I'm deeply opposed to not-commonly-known foreign words. Maybe if the clue on OLDS were clearer, I would've simply forgotten about RIS. But it wasn't so I'm talking about this stupid little three-letter word instead of everything else the puzzle has to offer. And I guess this is my point—the last thing you want is to have something off, something rankling, in the connective tissue of your grid. It is apt to leave solvers with a bad taste, and take attention away from the worthier parts of the grid. NONI (also not a great answer) doesn't bother me nearly as much as the crosses are all clear, i.e. that one word, NONI, is not going to keep me from getting any of the crosses. But I had OLD_ and I looked at the clue, 19D: Onetime Toronado, e.g., informally, and I had no idea at first what was even meant. "Onetime" means that OLDS is no longer a brand name? If that's so, then the phrasing seems off. It didn't used to be a Toronado and then become something else or enter some new state of being. I wasn't even sure the thing in question was a car. Was worried this was a historical or a sports clue and the answer was going to be OLD [some letter]. But I took a flier on the car and it worked out. And still I am talking about this little section. . . Gah!

Really liked the NE—in fact, the whole eastern side of the grid is pretty nice. I'm much cooler on the west. NADERITE gets my vote for Most Original Answer of the Day (36D: Voter with a Green button, once). Crosswordese muscle memory helped me get DIONE (44A: Moon of Saturn) and ISERE (45D: River bordering the Olympic host sites Grenoble and Albertville). I wanted SOVIET ERA before STALIN ERA (29D: Setting for "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"). I got Dennis confused with what's his name, the prince … Prince Herbert, the guy who doesn't want to marry, doesn't want to inherit his father's land, but just wants to … sing!

So I had HEIR and even SIRE before SERF (33D: Dennis in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," e.g.). Dennis, you'll recall, is the "Constitutional Peasant"— a Marxist avant le lettre …

["Oh 'king', eh? Very nice."]
["King of the who?"]
["I thought we were an autonomous collective"]
["I'm your king." "Well I didn't vote for you."]
["You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!"]
["Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system!"]

    TAD LINCOLN sounds like a heartthrob, but I'm guessing he wasn't (18A: Onetime White House resident with a cleft palate). Oh, he died at 18. That's sad.
      Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


      wreck 12:19 AM  

      Just when I think I'm getting better at Saturday puzzles, one of these comes along and puts me back in my place! A gaggle of googles helped, but still kicked my CABOOSE. Oh well, I still learned a lot!

      Pete 12:40 AM  

      Just for giggles and grins, look at the downs starting in the top row, and compare them to yesterday.

      Questinia 12:58 AM  

      Ris de veau or ris d'agneau, French cuisine is fair NYT's puzzle material. Just read any NYT's French restaurant review from the 1950's. Be grateful it wasn't quenelles.


      retired_chemist 1:26 AM  

      Agree - ris is fair game. I started with rac, thinking rack of lamb, but that;s nor even a French word AFAIK (carré d'agneau is apparently how it is said).

      Medium-challenging but a heckuva lot of fun. Just no c**p IMO. All the cluing is good, answers interesting.

      East easier that west. Got AGRA and CDC quickly, then the long downs followed easily, and ANTHRACITE was clear with a couple of crosses. In the west, sOccer mom/dad @ 30D slowed everything down - gave me reg instead of IRR, and a whole lot of head scratching.

      abe and ToD LINCOLN before TAD. Thought OLDS a bit off so it didn't go in until late.

      Was working on ST. ALI_EtA, a mythical town, re Ivan Denisovitch, and my last square was changing the t in tENDERS to an R. Luckily I had NONI instead of the phonetically allowable tONI or lONI for 50A at that point and Mr. H. Pencil appeared. Oh, STALIN ERA. D'oh!

      Thanks, Messrs. Wilber and Walden.

      AliasZ 1:39 AM  

      Handy-dandy little puzzle, not too tough for me. I expected it to be more challenging when I saw the byline, but hey, we all have our off days.

      I resisted TOLEDAN for the longest time because I was sure it should be Toledoan. Not being a cigar smoker, CHEROOT was unknown to me, I wanted Ed McMahon for ED MCBAIN (who?), and NONI may have as well been clued as "Random letters". Short of these little hang-ups, the rest fell fairly easily.

      The NW has a cluster of (unintentional?) keister-related words besides CABOOSE: ASSURED, B*SIDE, and ASKAN (portmanteau of two keister synonyms).

      11D was an easy gimme. The SONG CYCLE Les nuits d'été was composed by Ettore Berlioz on six poems by Théophile Gautier. This one is called Le spectre de la rose.

      E-LEARNING joins the ever-growing E-words we all love so much. What is the test on an E-LEARNING site called, E-XAM?

      Rex failed to provide this quintessential W.C. Handy song, so please allow me to do so here: St. Louis BLUES.

      The plural of sanctum is sanctums, M-W lists SANCTA as an also-ran. SANCTA could have been clued as the feminine form of sanctus as in SANCTA Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus... There is a beautiful oratorio composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams titled SANCTA Civitas (The Holy City).

      How or why do you need to soft-soap a COAX cable?

      Outside of NONI, ASKAN and AVERYS, this was a very clean and crud-free puzzle, but less than totally engaging or super-interesting for Saturday.

      Happy weekend to all.

      jae 4:15 AM  

      Solid Sat.  Medium-tough for me.  Got hung up in SW because I parsed "Helicopter-parent" as a noun which made HOVER OVER hard to see.  I also had EtrAiNING before LEARNING.  

      And, SKATERS before SKI TEAM (B SIDE fixed that).

      Liked this more than yesterday's, but still not much zip.  NADERITE maybe but that's about it.  Nice and crunchy though and definitely not clunky (RIS was OK with me as OLDS was a gimme).  Not bad guys. 

      Danp 6:28 AM  

      Elearning is ridiculous. Does the University of Phoenix specialize in "learning" kids to read online?

      If I were the constructor and absolutely could not find anything to replace it with, I would have clued it "memorizing an eye chart".

      Susierah 6:58 AM  

      Back to yesterday's puzzle. I threw down clear ones throat immediately, knowing it was mas and that rex was going to slam it. To us relatively new (2 years) solvers, these challenging Friday triple stacks are a learning experience. Spending 45 to 50 minutes on a Friday, and really trying to analyze and figure things out, has made me a much better solver. Two years ago, I would just stare and go straight to google. Now, most Fridays I can finish by myself, or with only a few errors or Googles. So Rex, while this sort of puzzle may not be gratifying to you, for others, it deserves more respect!

      Blue Stater 8:05 AM  

      First time in the recent WS era that I was able to finish Friday *and* Saturday. Both were tough but fair.

      jberg 8:28 AM  

      Another Latin POC! Somebody should nip these things in the bud before it's too late.

      I struggled a lot with this one, but it all came through in the end. I wanted Bess TrumAN for awhile, and both ACTive and TRAnsitive before IRRegular. DryADS, too.

      I had a RIS de veau last month in Paris (Trumilou Bistro, I highly recommend it), but didn't know you can get it in lamb. Basic rule of bistros: go for the organ meats.

      It was hard to get started. Finally AGRA gave me AREA and CHEROOT, and the whole East side filled itself in from there. But it was really hard to move into the West, especially since my connectors were the aforementioned Bess T. and the ISERE ROODS area (both of which took me a long time to get.

      So how did Slammin' Sammy come to win the LPGA? Some golfer must have this story, surely!

      loren muse smith 8:29 AM  

      I printed this off last night and saw only the grid and the names at the top. I went to sleep thinking how cool it would be if their seeds were something like BLACK WIDOW, BUBBLE WRAP, BARBED WIRE, or BROKEN WING. Alas, no. But these two bigwig boy wonders certainly delivered a toughie, and two of their tens were utterly unknown to me: TAD LINCOLN and SOURCE CODE.

      Agreed – the whole east was a bit easier, and I finished almost all of that side with little trouble, especially once I revisited the clue for 36A. C PLUS remained a mystery, though, and then I went and changed CHEROOT to "sheroot" to put that S in front of the P.

      I don't know Handy, so BLUES just wasn't gonna fall. I had "mimes," marveling again at their appeal and wondering what I'm missing there.

      I'm really disappointed that I didn’t see B SIDE or C PLUS – entries that are common enough and hence disguised with baffling clues.

      My major problems in the west:

      "taxis" for CASTS and so
      "xgamers" for SKI TEAM
      "Lori" for NONI
      some Russian location word for STALIN ERA. Xорошее горе!
      "hover mama" for HOVER OVER. (morning, @jae) Yeah. That guess stank it up.

      I had to stop and hover over HOVER OVER over five minutes. Cool phrase, that. Reminds me of "on key monkey" that I've been contemplating. Seriously.

      @retired_chemist – me, too, for wanting "rac" first.

      @AliasZ – good catch on the northwest bringing up the rear, as it were!

      @Leapfinger – next time I'm in Raleigh, let's grab lunch and concoct a plan of action for that diet!

      @M&A – loved your song!! Sorry about the lack of U's. I hadn't even noticed. Oups.

      Brad, Byron – please team up again soon! I want another shot!

      Sir Hillary 8:50 AM  

      Nice crunchy Saturday. Yeah, the whole RIS/IRAS/AVERYS linkage is unfortunate, but despite that (and a few too many POCs) I really liked this one.

      Both the NE and SE are really good corners.

      Lotsa good Scrabbly stuff. Cs and Ks and Zs -- oh my!

      Hands up for SovietERA.

      Dropped SEAN in first, and immediately wondered if maybe julieNixoN had a cleft palate. Never wrote it in though.

      Wonderful clue for ATTACKADS.

      Muscato 8:55 AM  

      Well, I've had a thing for Anika NONI Rose ever since I thought she was the best thing in the film of Dreamgirls, so that was a gimme for me, and I had just enough similar quck fill to take me through this one. Seemed to me a perfectly fine Saturday, especially as it left me thinking about riding as a kid in my grandfather's vast old OLDS. I do like how crosswords send the mind off on tangents like that...

      Glimmerglass 9:10 AM  

      Fun Saturday! I'm disappointed in myself that I missed the CPLUS/BLUES cross. Almost perfect is good enough for me on a tough Saturday.

      I Usually etcetera 9:10 AM  


      Indeed. I had a grin when I read the 4D clue [Xenophobe's bane] and straightaway thought of you. Then had a giggle @myself when PIGNOLI had to turn into PINENUTS.
      "Ça IRAS"; sometimes CHEROOT for me, sometimes not.

      C'est la guerre, Pierre!!

      Carola 9:16 AM  

      Verrrry nice! When I saw the two names at the top, I thought "Double trouble!" - but in a good way. A medium Saturday for me, ID EST, slow going but no moments of despair.

      My starters were TOLEDAN and IODIZES, followed by a crawl up the East side; then worked up the West side from ARGYLES.

      Much erasing in the CPLUS, OLDS, MCBAIN area. I changed the C in CHEROOT to an "s" (Hi, @loren), thinking 79 could be a sPLit in bowling. With N - - -N in place at the end of 18A, I wrote in NixoN, crossing the onetime Toronado, an x-man, the "n" of which gave me the lamb dish "Ron d'agneau," as shorthand for "rognon." Yes, desperate. Abandoned the area and followed my first instinct that CASTS rotated on Broadway. That got me TAD LINCOLN and soon cleaned up the central disaster area.

      I'd heard of RIS de veau but didn't make the connection with agneau until the end. Also taught for 30 years but didn't see CPLUS for ages. The last light bulb to go on was understanding that Handy referred to a person. Fun.

      I'm skeptical of E-LEARNING - maybe I'm just cynical but I think of it as e-paying-for-a-degree.

      Bob Kerfuffle 9:17 AM  

      Medium-Challenging for me. Worked it all out eventually, but with a very slow start and proceeding very slowly from there.

      One write-over (29A): My saw's home started as SHOP before becoming a SHED.

      REQUEST for technical help: Several mentions yesterday of a puzzle at George Barany's website. But for at least 24 hours, I have been unable to connect to the site. I've been there many, many times; in fact, I have it bookmarked. And I've tried clearing cookies etc. But I still can't get to connect. So is it a problem at their end or at my end? Any help would be appreciated.

      Susan McConnell 9:19 AM  

      Gotta agree with Rex. This was a nice chewy Saturday, and with the exception of RIS, pretty flawless. I like RIS even less after reading Rex's research on it. I have no idea why I know Anika NONI Rose, but I do. @lms, I never ever noticed the BW team!

      r.alphbunker 9:38 AM  

      @Bob Kerfuffle
      This works on my browser (Chrome)
      Barany puzzle

      retired_chemist 9:41 AM  

      [rant] Not a fan of E-LEARNING for the most part (I mean what U of P does, not the answer 31D). Education is about interaction, bouncing ideas off colleagues, having someone show you where you messed up, and moving ahead step by step. it's not a linear process. You NEED to be there with fellow students and instructors to get the most out of an education.

      E-learning may be fine for rote learning and other stuff which is not complex. Not a way to produce thinkers IMO.

      Our governor is big on E-learning because - surprise - it's cheaper than paying professors. I strongly suspect his view of education is that most college cheerleaders (which he was at TAMU) or athletes share - you're not there for improving your mind, you just need the credits for whatever reason. [/rant]

      r.alphbunker 9:51 AM  

      Five punny clues today
      DYED 35D {Like roots, periodically?}
      SHED 29A {Saw home?}
      BLUES 22A {Handy talent?}
      LEASE 40A {Home pages?}
      ARGYLE 59A {Legs' diamonds?}

      In previous NYT these answers from today's puzzle had punny clues
      CEL 55D {What framed Roger Rabbit?}
      HEN 9D {Chick magnet?}
      MAR 38A {Just scratch the surface?}
      AREA 10D {Side by side?}
      MENU 38D {Restaurant lines?}
      SERF 33D {Underclassman?}
      BSIDE 3D {Backing vocal?}
      CASTS 1D {Character sets?}
      CABOOSE 1A {Limited end?}

      @M and A, @Leapfinger, @Loren, @AliasZ
      Do punny clues cheapen a puzzle or make it better?

      NCA President 9:56 AM  

      Did not like.

      "Home pages?" = LEASE?

      TOLEDAN? Seriously? Are some Toledans also Ohions?

      KAYAK(.com)? I've used Expedia, Orbitz, and PriceLine, in addition to Travelocity. A) we don't need another one of these discount sites, and B) anyone here use Kayak? Can it possibly offer anything that the others do not offer? is the only real airline site you need, IMHO.

      SANCTA? Nothing like an outlying latin word to spice up a Saturday.

      CHEROOT? Don't smoke, it causes cancer.

      "Handy Talent" = BLUES? How?

      EDMCBAIN. Random name with lots of consonants in a row.


      Norm 10:08 AM  

      Finished with DOPER for 47D "Sleepy sort" rather than DOZER. Heck, IODIPES sounded like something you might use to treat goiters. Nice puzzle. One of those that was baffling at first, but once you get a foothold you can make it all the way. Thanks, guys.

      Gill I. P. 10:16 AM  

      This was tres difficile n'est-ce RIS?
      I must have stared at the puzzle for an hour before I got something....SHASTA finally came to me along with CHEROOT and I finished that E-side after half an hour or so.
      Yikes,,,what a way to clue poor little TAD LINCOLN. Wasn't he the rambunctious child?
      Every time I hear "I Will Survive" a big grin forms and I want to boogey just like Kevin Kline did in "In&Out."
      Well, this was a Saturday work-out and in the end not really much fun for me. Maybe if I could remember to spell SNEAD instead of SNEED -which I do every time, I wouldn't be scratching my head with OUTLeNDERS.
      GO USA!

      Norm 10:24 AM  

      ANCA President: Ed McBain's police procedurals were classics. This was a pen name for novelist Evan Hunter (I think). Rex explained the Handy clue. Very clever, although "Handy specialty" might have been more accurate. Are Claro and panatela barred as well? Inner sanctum is a well-known phrase; sancta is not an outlier. Yep, we use Kayak all the time. These Toledans are Spaniards, but you knew that. I thought "Home pages" was a GREAT clue for LEASE. Would work for "deed" as well.

      Leapfinger 10:25 AM  

      @ r.alph

      Cheapen? Clues like that make a puzzle priceless. Thanks for a great list, they're lovely

      I'm always and only in favour of: the Punic Wars.

      Norm 10:26 AM  

      @Gill I.P. -- Judge Joseph Sneed ("not Snead" was one of the first things you were told upon coming to work for the court) was a long-time judge on the 9th Circuit (a nice man although a Nixon appointee). Remembering him is the only way I remember how to spell the golfer.

      chefbea 10:49 AM  

      Too tough for me though I found it easier than yesterday. Liked all the foodie things..pine nut, menu, ris, shasta, zests.

      Why is soft soap - coax???

      Loved the clue for shed!!

      Casco Kid 10:51 AM  

      90 min. No googles. 9 errors. Compound Natick at EDMCBAIN/RIS/NAIAD/OLDS and a few other minor errors. This is the kind of puzzle MA-S can't construct. It pulled me through almost all the way. Great solving experience.

      wAshINgtON before TADLINCOLN
      tItan before DIONE.
      foreignERS before OUTLANDERS.

      Hartley70 10:56 AM  

      McBain's given name was Salvatore Lombino, I see. I was a fan of his crime fiction and he lived one town over. I've never seen him in a puzzle and it was a nice gimme for me. I found the Northeast to be the hardest. I loved the smeared spot clue. It took me a while to get harbors because it's a perfect summer day and I kept thinking boats. I don't eat ris but I've seen it on menus. I just assumed it was rice. Super glad I didn't order it! It was a pretty perfect Saturday puzzle for my taste, no ris needed.

      Ellen S 11:07 AM  

      @Norm, as Evan Hunter he wrote Blackboard Jungle and other novels, very different in style from the McBain 87th Precinct books, even when in related genres. @Hartley70, thanks for the biographical tidbit! I didn't know that!

      Fun puzzle, only two Googles. I was almost stumped at the java file clue, 52a. I thought it was going to be something I never heard of, and me a computer programmer my whole life, and if I didn't know it, how could anyone?? Oh, SOURCE CODE. Doh.

      Leapfinger 11:16 AM  

      Well, I felt my years weigh heavy when the first NW pass yielded only SNEAD. But then NAIADS-IRAS-RIS-OLDS-CPLUS gave me enough to back into that corner, as it were. Just to be a little different, I found the NE and SW to be the easier quadrants.

      btw, @Alias, I um, briefly tried a groan-worthy PATOOTY for 1A; UrbanDict agrees that is also hindsight. Scantily. PLUS, I thought Ettore Berlioz was a small Vittorio for our side (not the B-side, but the xeno-side).

      Was fair certain Abe LINCOLN had no cleft palate, but did entertain ToD. Had not known about TAD L. IN COLN; that journey to Germany was news bei mir.

      Got SHASTA because no Mt. Nehi in Calif. That I know of.

      As with several others, thought of a place-setting rather than a time-setting for Denisovitch, therefore 'gulag' and such. Heaven help @Rex should a clue with Solzhenitsyn aRISe, it would be RISible.

      Had quite a time river-running in France...I ticked off LOIRE, MARNE, SAONE, knew it wasn't SEINE; was really quite aMEUSEd.

      An early brush with Vonnegut bethought me of TITAN (Sirens of), but Ian Fleming helped me with "You only DI ONE time" [sorta]

      Other thoughts:
      NON-I: Have only heard of NON-U
      CO-AX: A logging team -or- Lizzy Borden had help
      IODIZES: Reminded me of 'Thyroid ENgland' from a recent puzz. Ties in with @Norm's goiter...
      TAU-TEST: I know only of T-TEST, CHI [sq]-TEST; any statisticians out there to help?
      Really like H(OVERx2)

      @Lorena, re Raleigh, you'll have to pick the place and lead me there; I only get to the Vet School with any reliability (they have a wing named after me). I always end up on the wrong side of the Beltway, have circled the city long-way round hundreds of times. (Yes, I have a GPS; in my hands, it functions largely as a paperweight.)

      ARGYLE Sunday came a day early [with a great clue, btw]. No AGRAvation here, just A VERY Sweet Saturday from the Double UUs.

      Danke schoen and Spasibo.

      mac 11:18 AM  

      Fantastic puzzle! So many different subjects, a little science, some latin and some French food. The ris were a lot easier for me than Noni!

      In the end the BWs got me: I don't know Handy and didn't look hard enough at 7D, so I had clues instead of blues.

      No tennis?

      I'm feeling good after solving this puzzle.

      r.alphbunker 11:21 AM  

      @Ellen S

      Similar experience with SOURCE CODE. Had SOUnd track for a while and I am glad that it wasn't the answer.

      The clue would have been more natural to my ears if it had read {Dot java file, e.g.}

      Leapfinger 11:26 AM  

      Ha! Here's a snippet I just found for the trivia buffs.

      re ARGYLE Sunday:
      The origin of this radio series was a 1904 Broadway production, Sunday, which starred Ethel Barrymore. This play was the source of the catchphrase, "That's all there is, there isn't any more."

      Also, from ARS, an ARGYLE is a double-sided teapot; hot water in the outer compartment keeps tea in the inner compartment hot longer.

      Who knows? These may prove useful one day.

      chefbea 11:43 AM  

      A neighbor just came over and he and my husband are reminiscing about when they were going up. All of a sudden he said...I remember buying shasta soda for a dime!!! So of course I showed him today's puzzle

      Dirigonzo 11:44 AM  

      I have no idea how I knew Stone coal is ANTHRACITE without any crosses, but that gave me a toe-hold in the SE corner. When that was filled in I climbed back up the grid so most of my solving was done by seeing the endings of words and figuring out the beginning - it went surprisingly well (but not fast). I needed an epiphany in the SW to read "Helicopter-parent" as a verb and produce HOVEROVER. In the end I guessed wrong on ySERE, so OWS. Happy Summer Solstice!

      joho 12:10 PM  

      Briefly I had buttOck/bulbS. I also confidently wrote in foreignERS before I got OUTLANDERS. Fixing those mistakes and others along the way gave me lots of aha moments ... just what I want on a Saturday.

      Loved the clue and answer for HOVEROVER.

      I spend all morning solving this and enjoyed every minute of it.

      Unfortunately I ended up with one carelessly wrong square. I had ToDLINCOLN. I thought it a cute spelling of Mary Todd's name. I think if I'd looked at it closer I would have seen ASKAN engineer made a lot more sense!

      Regardless of my DNF I loved this puzzle ... thanks, Brad and Byron!

      Anonymouse 12:17 PM  

      @Dirigonzo, I remember meeting ANTHRACITE pretty well. That would have been grade school geography class, where we learned the major natural resources and exports of the countries. If I remember right, peat is the softest, anthracite the hardest in the hierarchy of coals. For some reason, I also remember bauxite as a major Canadian export.

      I'm getting better at recognizing words from the back end; that used to be a big problem for me.

      Love your lab progression; I've known pups like your Meth Lab!

      jdv 12:18 PM  

      Med-Challenging w/one error. CHERiOT. Guessed wrong again. Whatever. This puzzle was a welcome relief after yesterday's Frankenstein. I really liked the Sam Snead trivia. Where do you find this stuff? I thought ris=rice, but it's actually riz. I didn't like helicopter-parent as a verb; feels too forced. Had MARINA before SANCTA. I finally remembered EDMCBAIN. This is what a Saturday should be.

      I'm poor, but not so poor that I have to eat garbage 12:26 PM  

      I didn't get RIS because, well, I don't get eating offal.

      Steve J 12:38 PM  

      Always interesting to see how different people's knowledge bases can be. OLDS was one of my first entires, because to me Toronado is either a great beer bar in San Francisco or an Oldsmobile, it was an obvious answer for me (especially with the "onetime", since Oldsmobile stopped existing in 2004 - although I'll grant that the clue is grammatically awkward, with "onetime" modifying Toronado rather than the answer).

      Meanwhile, @NCA President: Not only do I use Kayak, it's always the first thing I search. It searches hundreds of travel sites - the majors like Orbitz and Expedia, the airline sites, the hotel sites, and a bunch of other ones - and shows you the best prices it aggregates from all of them. Big time saver over searching multiple sites yourself for the best prices.

      As far as the puzzle: Definitely several things to like, but like @jae said, seems to be missing just a little something. Cluing felt a little straightforward for a Saturday from these guys, although the clue for ATTACK ADS was very nice. Just didn't have a lot of "wow, that's clever" moments that I love to see from themelesses. But solidly constructed nevertheless.

      Steve J 12:40 PM  

      Forgot to add: Info on Sam Snead's LPGA win. TLDR version: He was the one man in a 16-golfer invitational, and he won.

      mathguy 12:45 PM  

      I'm delighted that I was able to solve it. I needed some key contributions from my darling wife (DYED, RENDERS, SNEAD), but I was able to get it correctly without any other outside help. Which was a long shot since the first time through all I had was CEL.

      The cluing was very high quality and fair (except for "Home pages?" for LEASE, sorry @Norm).

      Bill Butler's blog has an explanation of how Sam Snead was able to an LPGA tournament.

      It took me over an hour to get the SW. I hadn't heard the expression "helicopter parent" before and hadn't heard of Avery Corman or Anika Noni Rose. And the clue for LEASE was totally opaque to me.

      Andrew Heinegg 1:01 PM  

      There is no arguing with taste and this puzzle left a very sour taste in my mouth. To be brief, I thought E-learning, lease and song cycle were all crap answers and the puzzle was neither amusing or educational although I agree with Rex that this was a less than stellar effort from two fine constructors.

      Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:20 PM  

      [various just woke up sounds]
      [involuntary stretch]
      [blink blink]
      [squeakin eye focusin noises]
      [scratchin] [U don't wanna know noises]
      [cinnamon roll munch]
      [vodka slurp]
      [paper rustlin and pencil noises, mostly erasin] etc.

      Man. Overslept. Up way too late. Got an unusual late start on the schlock movie festival, last night. "Chandru the Magician" and "Dunwich Horror". "Mandrake the Magician" serial episode. rodeo.

      Geez looeez... "Medium"? Medium sadistic, maybe?
      B & B ganged up on me, I guess. NE was doable. Did ungainly dive into SE off ANTHRoCITE, but landed with a go-nowhere splat. Limped back up to the NW and finished up the cinnamon rolls. Wondered aloud what ASKAN was short for... ass can? Lost valuable nanoseconds.

      Tough lineup of entries, today... EDMCBAIN, DIONE, TOLEDAN, ASSCAN, RIS, NAIADS, AVERYS, NADERITE, SONGCYCLE, ISERE, NONI, TAUTEST. day-um. I learn so much, when bein throttled. At least the clues were hopelessly sneaky...

      @r.alph: Love punny clues. I am a human pun.
      @muse: U-count neednt be too much, for the runtpuz. There are two U's in rUntpUz; good sorta guideline.

      [unidentifiable noise]

      Leapfinger 1:29 PM  

      I've had RIS de veau; no idea whether it was thymus or pancreas, but it is soft as butter and just delicious. I agree with @jberg about organ meats, but generally Americans seem to avoid them. @not poor enough to eat offal makes my point perfectly, although much of the standard US diet is much more offal. I do kind of draw the line at kidneys; it's hard to have enough time and buttermilk to address their innate character.

      @ret_chem, I've developed the suspicion that the PTB are changing the character of education in this country, esp in the ELHI area. It seems that the goal is no longer a critically thinking citizenry, as much as it is a trained workforce.I may be wrong.

      @Alias: one more for your list, appropriately placed near the bottom, Saturn's moon.

      BeWare the Jab-BerWock, my sohn!

      JC66 1:32 PM  

      Salvatore Albert Lombino aka ED MCBAIN was born and raised in NYC where he attended Evander Childs high school and Hunter college. Ergo: his pen name Evan Hunter.

      JC66 1:34 PM  

      @ Steve J

      Thanks for saving me the time to straighten out
      @NCA President on KAYAK.

      Gill I. P. 1:44 PM  

      @Norm - Hey - thanks! I guess you could make it into a mnemonic?
      A before E
      When he's a golfee?
      @Diri: If my puzzle experience today is any example of how far off the mark I was, I read the clue as "Stone cold" and I thought how is ANTHRACITE something dead. It does sound a bit like a disease though.
      If you're a stack and MAS fan like I am, got to @George B's site and download his puzzle. I liked it better than Friday's. Just go upstairs to @R.alph at 9:38 to get to his site. I think I'll have a 1A...!

      Lewis 1:53 PM  

      Post Puzzle Puzzle (PPP™) -- There are two answers that are like senile felines, in a way. Looking at these two answers, when you cancel out the letter pairs, what two letters are left?

      M and A at the PPP(tm) 2:01 PM  

      @Lewis: CK?

      Senile Cat

      Anonymous 2:07 PM  

      @Lewis, am I right in assuming the two answers have to be the same length, ie like senile feline?

      Tell me if I'm overthinking this.

      Davidph 2:10 PM  

      @chefbea: soft soap, think sweet-talk, blarney.

      Lewis 2:23 PM  

      @anonymous2:07 -- Actually, not thinking quite enough, and it's not like senile feline, it's like senile felines.

      @m&a -- I do believe you found the two answers, but maybe got muddled at the canceling out part. If this is correct, it's at least a CPLUS.

      Lewis 2:29 PM  

      I kept looking at TOLEDAN and asking, what the heck is a TOLE DAN? I've heard of SOURCECODE but have no idea what one actually is; still got it. This one was medium/challenging for me. I don't know my moons, my spirits, my cigars (though somehow I did pull CHEROOT out), or Ms. Rose. So I needed a couple of Googles. Nonetheless, it was just the tough workout I love, with aha moments and tickling areas of the brain that have been ignored. I greatly enjoyed this.

      Lewis 2:31 PM  

      @anonymous2:07 -- Oh, to answer your question, they don't have to be the same length.

      Melodious Funk 2:38 PM  

      Turns out that El Greco's name is a solecism. Correct me, but El is Spanish, Greco is Italian. And he was Greek. He did live in Venice and Rome, then in Toledo.

      Just a curiosity. Why Ohio, I wouldn't know.

      I wonder who or what was responsible for creating his name? He signed all his later Toledo paintings with his full Greek name.

      OISK 2:55 PM  

      Loved this one. Difficult for me, but ultimately rewarding, and I spent a pleasant hour or so working on it. No errors. I think I have read every 87th Precinct novel, and most of Evan Hunter's other work. He liked puns, and one of his really enjoyable books is called "All the crooks and nannies." I had "Titan" before "Dione" and Tod before Tad. Love the clue for "argyles." For once Rex and I agree - really fine, clever, well-constructed, varied, just about as good as a Saturday puzzle can be.

      Karl 3:59 PM  

      I found this one to be very tough. Finished with an incorrect letter. Like Rex, did not like the clue for OLDS. Some excellent fill like SANCTA, SOURCE CODE, and SONG CYCLE mixed with a small amount of dreck like RIS and IRR. Overall, I enjoyed it despite struggling.

      ANON B 4:12 PM  

      Pete @12:40

      I compared the Downs in the
      top row with yesterday's and
      didn't see anything.
      Please explain.

      Last Silver Senile Feline 4:26 PM  

      @Lewi, I suspect I just have different PPP-er words, than U do. Hell, I dunno. Took me until about now to fully wake up. Just realized T-A-U-T-E-S-T ain't TAU TEST.

      Anyhoo, here's a nice, wide-open, free-range runtpuz...

      Construction fact: thought the black squares were symmetric, until I sat back and admired the finished product.
      No refunds, tho.


      Not awake yet 4:27 PM  

      Lewis, not Lewi.

      Anonymous 4:33 PM  

      I just saw Lewis CK and I still don't get it.

      I TOLE DAN and I TOLE DAN; "DAN, I sez to him, I just don't think like this Lewis fellow. I'm starting to feel like Alice Through the Glimmerglass... And don't call me @Carroll, @Lewis.

      JFC 4:39 PM  

      Rex wrote:

      TAD LINCOLN sounds like a heartthrob, but I'm guessing he wasn't (18A: Onetime White House resident with a cleft palate). Oh, he died at 18. That's sad.

      I can't quite put my finger on it but there is something sad about Rex's comment.

      I enjoyed yesterday's more than today's. As Rex might say, that's sad....


      PS. We miss you at Wordplay, Leapy.

      Bob Kerfuffle 4:44 PM  

      @M&A - Surprised myself by refusing to quit; completed latest runtpuz in 8:18, no help. Mayhaps I will do better in the future.

      Arlene 5:00 PM  

      I finished but had to google a few. I almost had CHEROOT, close but no cigar!
      Loved 79 at CPLUS. That's the grade I would give myself on solving this puzzle. ELEARNED some good stuff though.

      Outlaw M and A 5:00 PM  

      @BobK: 8:18 well wasted.

      Norm 5:26 PM  

      @chefbea -- See if your neighbor remembers "It hasta be Shasta"! In the 50s & 60s, my grandparents (actually dad's mom & mom's dad in different units of a triplex that parents bought for them while we were living here & there on assorted Marine bases) lived on 21st Street in Sacramento (CA), and there was a Shasta store about five or six blocks up the street. Grandparents used to compete over who could give older brother and me money to go up and get something. I believe that's where I first discovered the wonders of a strawberry soda. I can see the counter now. I swear the soda was probably a quarter -- and that was a big ticket item. Usually got a cone for a dime.

      Borgia 6:11 PM  

      Hardest this year IMO.

      Agree that e-learning is pretty horrendous.

      Don't like Stalin era either (spent years trying to make labor camp work)

      And lastly ski team isn't really like a Winter Olympics group. Slalom team or downhill team would make sense but the idea that all Olympians for a country mass into one big ski team is really stretching it.

      Oh and Avarys is just a cruel thing to name your kid. Something that could end a marriage.

      Lewis 6:20 PM  

      Post Puzzle Puzzle (PPP™) answer:

      "Senile felines" is a palindrome, and there are two palindromic answers in the grid, KAYAK and CDC. When you cancel out the double letters (K,A,C) you are left with DY, the answer.

      If you got a different and justifiable answer, I'd love to hear it!

      michael 6:21 PM  

      About average difficulty for a Saturday for me. I had to google Noni (I had No_i) because elearning just didn't come to me. For good reason -- I think. Is this a word? Can you add e in front of just about anything these days that ends ing? eteaching, ereading, ewriting. Maybe not eeating...

      michael 6:21 PM  

      About average difficulty for a Saturday for me. I had to google Noni (I had No_i) because elearning just didn't come to me. For good reason -- I think. Is this a word? Can you add e in front of just about anything these days that ends ing? eteaching, ereading, ewriting. Maybe not eeating...

      mac 6:33 PM  

      @Melodious Funk: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I had "italian" at 34A first.

      adicecream 7:00 PM  

      Usually I solve my puzzle, read the blog and your comments, chuckle a bit and move on. Today you made me scream!! Noni -the Tonys were last week; how not obscure can that clue be. Ed McBain is not a list of letters; he is a prolific and fairly well known mystery writer. Olds Toronado....took me a while too, but it's reasonable. El Greco moved to Toledo. Avery Korman wrote Kramer vs Kramer. Elearning - why not?

      Some days' clues are rappers and Kardashians. Some are for the rest of us.

      Charlene 7:16 PM  

      How not obscure? To someone who has never been within a thousand miles of New York and is barely aware of the existence of the Tony Awards, pretty darn obscure.

      JPM 7:30 PM  

      Nice challenge, nothing to nitpick about. Thanks BW^2.

      sanfranman59 7:41 PM  

      This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

      All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

      Mon 6:36, 6:04, 1.09, 83%, Challenging
      Tue 7:54, 8:46, 0.90, 20%, Easy-Medium
      Wed 8:35, 9:40, 0.89, 25%, Easy-Medium
      Thu 18:06, 17:32, 1.03, 60%, Medium
      Fri 20:16, 21:06, 0.96, 43%, Medium
      Sat 25:17, 25:21, 1.00, 51%, Medium

      Top 100 solvers

      Mon 4:26, 3:55, 1.13, 91%, Challenging
      Tue 5:07, 5:21, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
      Wed 5:46, 6:08, 0.94, 34%, Easy-Medium
      Thu 11:23, 10:40, 1.07, 61%, Medium-Challenging
      Fri 14:44, 13:26, 1.10, 67%, Medium-Challenging
      Sat 19:12, 16:56, 1.13, 77%, Medium-Challenging

      Pete 7:42 PM  

      @ANON B - The downs today were of much higher quality than yesterday. I just brought this up, as yesterday when I pointed out how bad the first row of downs were I was met with some resistance.

      PPP(tm) - View from the Cheap Seats 7:44 PM  

      CASTS and SKAT. Cuz they were both messed-up cats.

      Z 8:08 PM  

      Haphazard DNF, between flowers and River Days and futbol and dinner I never really got a chance to spend much time with the puzzle. Finished about 75% but only had SNEAD, OREIDA and ---LINCOLN in the NW when baseball time came around. A fine puzzle, but pretty tough for me.

      TOLEDAN was a gimme. @Melodius Funk, I think you are over thinking it. El Greco is just Spanish for "The Greek." Since Spanish and Italian are both romance languages, I'm going to guess there is a common Latin source word.

      Z 8:23 PM  

      @Pete - How, exactly, are SANCTA and ID EST better than SOHNE and THES? Or do you want to ignore the foreign language issue and focus on just downs? Today for downs we got a partial - ASK AN..., a brand name doubling as an abbreviation - ORE IDA, whatever C PLUS is, an "E" noun, a Cross River - ISERE, and a Latin phrase - ID EST. Is ED MCBAIN any less obscure than ETTORE Bugatti? So you must have hated this puzzle just as much as yesterdays.

      Melodious Funk 8:42 PM  

      @mac. And I had Iberian! Talk about a solecism.

      And the name El Greco is indeed an intended one.

      Lewis 9:34 PM  

      @M&A -- Bumps you right up from that CPLUS to the ether. I can't argue with your reasoning -- an elegant and beauteous solution.

      Pete 9:36 PM  

      @Z - I can't remember where I said (i.e I didn't) that SANCTA was better than SOHNE, or that ID EST was better that THES, but here goes: SANCTA is word in the English Language, SOHNE - not so much. Id Est is used all the time by everyone. See, I did it just above. Note I've not used THES. I'm not even convinced that the plural of The is THES

      I mentioned the first row of downs yesterday simply because they are what were dictated by the quad stacks, the were easily identifiable and all in a row. Just to point out what compromises in those entries were dictated by the quad stacks. Todays comparable set are much better, given the relaxation of the requirements that quad stacks imposes.

      It's Usually Me 10:00 PM  

      @Pete 7:42pm

      (lol) You were met with some resistance? OHMMmmm


      Z 10:04 PM  

      @Melodious Funk - Ah - you're right.

      @Pete - Yes, the French do use "s" to make plurals. Sanctum is a Latin word used in English, not quite the same as being an actual English word, but close enough if you pluralize it with an "s." Pluralizing it with an "a" is so very Latiny, though (har). But enough nits. Your point is that the quad stacks caused the compromises. My contention is that, no, building crosswords leads to compromises. There are many compromises today. However, since they are spread out in different sections of the puzzle you (and Rex) can't blame them on a constructor's stunt. NAIADS appear far more often in puzzles then they ever appeared in Bullfinch's. Why do we get ORE IDA but not Green Giant in puzzles? Why ESSEN but rarely Dresden and almost never Berlin? RIS? Well, one person here likes the "organ meat."

      This isn't to say that a lot of people don't agree with you. They do. I'm just not one of them.

      Z 10:05 PM  
      This comment has been removed by the author.
      wreck 10:52 PM  

      @ Z
      well said!

      retired_chemist 11:08 PM  

      The most famous/infamous popular reference to SOURCE CODE relates to the "no reasonable expectation of privacy" statement in the source code for the ACA web site. Check the video out - hilarious if you understand what it was really doing there. This link explains it. Clearly neither the questioner nor the HHS administrator on the stand does.

      retired_chemist 11:13 PM  

      Oops - you need a link to the video. And she was a contractor, not an HHS employee.

      LilKittie 3:59 PM  

      @Steve J, I can recommend you the chain as well, I use them for NYC - Cheap hotels in NYC and never had any complaints.

      Fred Romagnolo 6:48 PM  

      @Leapfinger: It's simple, my Gramma said boil them three times. They really do make a delicious breakfast with eggs. Sweetbreads are also good eating. In my book, 79 was a B minus. Or was I just an easy grader? This is Sunday evening, so I hope you'll see it.

      Cheerio 9:18 PM  

      I think KAYAK is mis-clued. It is an aggregator of information only. You can go there to see if Orbitz or Expedia has the better offer but you can't purchase a ticket from KAYAK.

      spacecraft 12:31 PM  

      Had to bow out of this one; got the bottom half, but then ran into a brick wall. I know what a xenophobe is; he fears foreignERS. Or outsiders, which takes care of SHED--but is unfortunately one square short. OUTLANDERS, though legit, just simply never occurred. And I just couldn't break into the north anywhere else. Oh well.

      1217; the hot streak is followed, as usual, by a slump. Trouble is, the slumps last MUCH longer--AND, there are more of them. :(

      DMG 4:29 PM  

      As usual, too any names I don't know kept me from a successful finish. When changing deodaR to REDFIR gave me almost all the East, I thought I was off and running, but it was not to be. Too many stumbles in the West including wanting the Russian thing to be a location, and El Greco to be a TOLEDoAN, which doesn't fit. Where did that second O go? Dropping it changes the whole sense of the name. Sadly, I seem to be getting worse, not better at these late week posers, so, on to Monday!

      168. No comment!

      rain forest 6:03 PM  

      In order, SEAN, CABOOSE, CASTS, OLDS,BLUES, ANTHRACITE. Yes, CABOOSE was a shot in the dark which worked, but those first answers really helped to finish the puzzle.

      E-learning is simply buying your Masters Degree, I suggest. American C-pluses are richer than in Canada where 79 will get you a B. Honestly obtained, though.

      Overall, this was challenging for me, but I eventually got it. Didn't enjoy it as much as yesterday's though.

      LEASE = home pages??? Was this ever explained?

      Dirigonzo 6:46 PM  

      @rainy - I'm thinking the pages of your LEASE contain the terms for renting your home? Convoluted maybe, but it's all I got.

      107 - can that possibly be good enough today?

      Steve J 6:47 PM  

      @rain forest: If your home is one you rent, the LEASE is several pages governing your home.

      Waxy in Montreal 8:21 PM  

      TOLEDAN huh? Thought El Greco painted in Italy so that didn't happen even with TOL in place. SANCTA & KAYAK (in the travel planning sense) not in my bailiwick of expertise. And I held on to SKATERS at 16A for much too long. Else quite a straight-forward Saturday puzzle.

      @rain - when I taught, 79 was good for a BMINUS, at best. Grade inflation must have set in.

      423 = 9. Do I win?

      Wiko Handy 4:59 AM  

      Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one ...

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