Half-filled auditorium to Frost / SAT 11-15-14 / Illness affecting wealthy / First video game character to be honored with figure in Hollywood Wax Museum / Author who was title subject of Best Picture 1937 / Home tech product discontinued in 1987 / Loser in 1970s-'80s war / Bristol's partner in pharmaceuticals

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Sir Richard STEELE (38D: Literary contemporary of Addison) —
Sir Richard Steele (bap. 12 March 1672 – 1 September 1729) was an Irish writer and politician, remembered as co-founder, with his friend Joseph Addison, of the magazine The Spectator. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've never seen a Saturday puzzle embarrass the rest of the week like this. I mean, the quality gap between this and the next best puzzle this week, let alone the average, is Grand Canyonesque. This was clean and delightful from front to back. Beautiful short-fill management—largely inoffensive and, due to the fantastic longer fill that dominates the grid, inconspicuous. I think YOHO is the only answer I actively dislike. Maybe XKES. I have to try hard to work up consternation, is what I'm saying, and if I have to work at it, it's not authentic, so: raspberries. I liked the stuff I got easily (AFFLUENZA), I liked the stuff I struggled for (MOON WALKS) … I just enjoyed myself. Would've been nice if the puzzle had put up a bit more of a fight on a Saturday (Saturday night being, as they say, alright for fighting), but when a puzzle is making me smile at virtually everything, right down to the clue for LOS (21D: ___ Pollos Hermanos ("Breaking Bad" restaurant)), I can't complain. I can only admire.

Here's something else that's great about this puzzle—it feels fresh despite not being drenched in up-to-the-minute slang or pop culture. It's got a huge range of answer-types: colloquial phrases, sports slang, ordinary words, animals, meats … but none of it is generationally exclusionary. It's colorful *and* accessible. I really enjoyed the literariness of the puzzle, with the great Frost quote up top, and then T.S. ELIOT talking to EMILE ZOLA about STEELE down below. I did struggle a bit in parts. I had most of KNEE PATCH (all but 2 letters, I think), before I realized what the clue was going for with "extender" (15A: Pants extender?). I wanted SMACKED for 32A: Hit as well as MINCES for 40A: Chops meat. This created a late-stage clusterf*** in the SE. But STEELE was a gimme, and it helped change MINCES to MUTTON, and things began to look up from there. I don't think I knew a HONEY BEAR was a real thing. I know that Pooh is a HONEY BEAR (right?), but … he's also fictional, so … yeah. It all worked out. Finished with the "M" in MILER. Then (literally) slow-clapped my appreciation.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:07 AM  

    Medium for me.  Ran into a bunch of trouble in the upper SE where I went from whaCKED to CraCKED to CLOCKED.  I also held on to @Rex Minces before MUTTON for way to long which lead to a brief flirtation with O' Neill for 38d.  In NW orATE before SKATE and berg before FLOE resulted in some staring.  SW OTOH was easy.  So, medium over all seems right.

    Random observations:  
    We are  enjoying ZOLAS The Paradise on PBS.  Worth watching.  
    I've seen LOS Pollos Hermanos T-Shirts recently. Amazing show!

    Crunchy with a bunch of zip.  Like it a lot.  Nice one Peter!

    Questinia 12:09 AM  

    Totally agree. Easier than yesterday and the cluing was more fun.

    Moly Shu 12:25 AM  

    Same experience as yesterday. Didn't think I'd get anything, then slowly but surely finished. berg before FLOE, hi @Jae. smaCKED before CLOCKED and iron before WORKHORSE. Somehow, remembering CHI gave me traction. Amazing how a 3 letter entry can provide so much assistance. Liked it best of the week also, @Rex.

    Whirred Whacks 12:37 AM  

    Many fun and zippy words!

    Turner Classic Movies ran a day of Paul Muni movies several months ago (which I recorded and watched), and so ÉMILE ZOLA was easy for me.

    The clue for 10 Across is a bit deceiving. The IBM PC product was replaced by IBM's PS/2 line in 1987, but the generic IBM PC name stuck around for many years after that.

    Who can look at the clue for 19 Across "Drudges" and not think of this?

    If my memory is correct, I believe that STRAIGHT (7 Down) is the longest one-syllable word in English (8 letters).

    I thought 22 Across might be ETA, but when I recognized the Greek ETAS (22 Down), I wrote in ETD.

    Anonymous 1:33 AM  

    I don't get the clue "A little night music" for 27A TAPS. Eine kleine Nachtmusik and Taps played on a bugle? What am I missing? What's the connection?

    I did get 1D Kings and Senators hockey teams, and 26D = three capital Greek letters "eta", which look like capital Hs.

    I finished this surprisingly quickly, and it's a nice clean grid as Rex said.

    Ellen S 1:44 AM  

    TAPS is the final bugle call of the day -- the signal for "lights out." The clue is just graceful misdirection.

    jae 1:44 AM  

    @Anon 1:33 - There is no connection. TAPS is played at dusk Reville is played at sunrise. Dusk = prelude to night.

    And that should have been "ZOLA's The Paradise"...

    jae 1:46 AM  

    @Ellen S - Great minds...

    mathguy 1:49 AM  

    Felt proud of myself for having solved it without Googling (even though The Closer filled in WAN and YALIE). Admire Rex once again for finding it easyish. If @sanFranMan is still doing the stats, I'll bet it ranks medium or harder.

    chefwen 1:52 AM  

    Started of on the slow side, but picked up steam throughout. Northwest was the final frontier. SO THATS IT was hard to suss out, as was KNEE PATCH, couldn't get suspenders out of my head. Anyhoo, cute puzzle that I struggled with, but eventually won.

    Onward to Sunday.

    Ellen S 1:53 AM  

    This must have been easy -- I finished it with minimal cheating, in fact less than earlier-week puzzles (I'm having an ethical debate with myself whether checking if a letter is correct is more or less of a cheat than googling. The former can only be done within an electronic solving platform, and the latter could be done with published reference books. But checking letters gives only the information that the tentative answer is wrong, and googling gives the answer (in the case of movie casts and horse races and the like).

    Though I'm clearly morally putrid, I enjoyed this puzzle same as the others. Some of the clues/answers I thought were questionable, but not so questionable that I made a note of them. Aside from who am I to question anything, there just weren't any groaners. Good Work Mr. Wentz.

    John Child 2:12 AM  

    Medium time here, and a LOT of fun. What @Rex said about the vast difference between this puzzle and the rest of the week.

    I'm with @whirred that the IBMPC clue is off, though I had I mind that at $1500-plus and given that it was from IBM, it was more a business item. Apple, Atair, and Commodore were the home tech toys.

    @Ellen S, I think there is a sliding scale of "cheats."
    Is this completed grid correct or not?
    What letter(s) are wrong, or is this letter correct?
    "Hey honey, what's the name of..."
    Pre-digital reference check
    Google or equivalent on-line lookup
    Reveal Word

    I accept the first as a successful solve if the error was just a typo, but all the rest are DNF, IMO, unless "honey" and I were doing a team solve.

    Anoa Bob 2:15 AM  

    Tried CHECKMATE at first for 52A "Endgame".

    @Whirred Whacks, "strength" is another single-syllable, 8-letter word with the added distinction of having only one vowel.

    Paper Purist 4:36 AM  

    @John Child - Much of your sliding scale disappears if you solve on paper.  No Mr. Happy Pencil, no letter check, no reveal word, you either solve it or you cheat.  The only quasi-defensible  "sliding scale" cheat option left when doing it on paper is  "honey what is/how do you spell/have you ever heard  of...?  You're still not playing by ACPT rules, but at least unassisted human brain power is responsible for the solution.

    LHS 888 5:38 AM  
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    LHS 888 5:41 AM  

    Typical Saturday for me. Too difficult to finish without cheating. Right answers were fighting with wrong answers and losing in a couple of key spots. STRAIGHT and CLEANSED were both in and out so many times that I would've worn through the paper if I didn't solve on an iPad. ICEberg kept me from PILEON for way too long. Similar problem with COLORIST - wanted it but wrong stuff in the area kept me from putting it in there.

    On the bright side, I was proud of myself for figuring out the NW, SW, and lots of other tricky clues on my own. I'm definitely improving even if I still have a long way to go.

    Googles: SEAGODS (suspected but didn't trust), GMC, TSELIOT

    orATE > SKATE (thinking King was MLK)
    ONlsd > ONPOT
    onrye > NOOIL
    Minced > MUTTON
    ICEberg > ICEFLOE
    INFLUENce > INFLUENZA (shoulda known)
    kia > GMC
    ahoy > YOHO
    ribs > LOIN
    enl > LTR
    gangster > TAXCHEAT

    I'm torn about WHATTHE. I like the expression, but it looks awkward to me in the grid.

    Nice Saturday puzzle. Thanks, PW / WS!

    GILL I. 5:44 AM  

    Yes....!So in agreement with @Rex. What in the world will the BOO HISS crowd have to PILE ON about today?
    MOON WALKS! Brings to mind that little washing machine Philae probe grasping for a toe-hold on a comet!
    Fun, fun, puzzle, you HONEY BEAR Mr. Wentz.

    LHS 888 6:09 AM  
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    LHS 888 6:13 AM  

    @Ellen S & John Child - I consider googling (or equivalent) to be a lesser cheat than checking square(s). One can google and still not be sure a word is correct. "Check" removes all doubt. I will say that, for me, following a link to a Xword site like @Rex is a Bozo no-no and is equivalent to "Reveal".

    Loren Muse Smith 7:14 AM  
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    AliasZ 7:15 AM  

    What a HONEYBEAR of a puzzle!

    Since life is rushing along TOO FAST, I find it helpful at times to slow it down just a little by staring at a crossword grid trying to figure out what letters to enter. I should have CLOCKED myself but I don't on Fri.-Sat.-Sun. I want to stretch it out as long as I can and forget the troubles of the world for a few minutes. For this, today's gem by the Wentz/Shortz duo is much appreciated, although it could have taken a little longer. It was over TOO FAST.

    I fell for a few misdirections: what a King or a Senator does (not orATE), good ones that never get cracked (not codES), extending the life (not the length) of jeans, Grant presenter (not doNoR), a little night music (not crickets), something fallen of a shelf (not a book), and a few others. Great cluing all around. I haven't heard AFFLUENZA until today, but it is a great portmanteau word. I also liked the unrelated (and unintentional?) clue/entry pair "Muted"/MUTTON, and the TEPID/TACIT pair. NOOIL, YOHO, LAST MOVES, ONPOT (on drugs, on spot, etc. are more natural sounding) seemed a bit contrived, but I don't want to PILE ON negatives because I loved the puzzle. No BOO-HISS anywhere in sight.

    SO THAT'S IT for today.

    Except for a little night music (not TAPS).

    Enjoy your weekend.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:22 AM  

    I love a Saturday I can finish. Favorite clue – the one for TUB.

    Hand up for "minces" even though that pie doesn't have meat meat, right? "My grandmom's mincemeat pie is da bomb because she doubles up on the LOIN." Nah. Just pass the pecan pie.

    The word TACIT pleases me enormously.

    My line of thinking for ICE FLOE was worse than anyone's so far: I actually kept convincing myself that "reef log" was a real thing. As in "The sea gods, on pot, were clocked by an errant reef log."

    @Anoa Bob, @Whirred Whacks - how 'bout making it "strengths" - ??

    Look, I've never really watched the show (mysteriously, as I love, love, love vapid shows), but did anyone else squint and see HONEY BOO HISS in the grid?

    Ok. So Rex' site made its Calhoun County High debut this past week. We've been discussing pronouns – why languages have them, what they do... So I couldn't help myself. Thursday I wrote on the board,

    "Oh look. Someone left their phone under the desk. Hope they don't need it!"

    We established that lots of pedants would boo hiss this usage of their/they, but that we liked it a ton better than any alternative.

    I next showed them Wednesday's puzzle, the THEIR, its clue, my thought when I filled it in - "Hoo-boy, there's gonna be a big flap today on the blog," and then some of the comments. @Casco, @Glimmerglass, and others - I have to thank you, because the vehemence of your comments ("ignorance," "stupid," "moronic," "lazy," "offensive") - made my students sit up and take note. I think they were pretty surprised that people felt this way. FWIW, every class decided to use the singular their/they, when necessary and appreciated, @Zeke, for arming them with the ammunition you provided in that terrific article. They're ready to point to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Carroll, et al if they have to defend any moronic "their" to a future English teacher.

    @Carola brought up an excellent point a couple of weeks ago on this issue. The singular their/they, becomes much, much more problematic when you have to use it reflexively.

    "Oh look. Someone hurt themselves. See all the blood?"

    Ick. I bet we make up (or probably it's already here) a new word, themself. Yeah. Now that I think about it, I'm sure themself (and of course theirself) is being thrown around as I type.

    Peter – excellent romp this morning. Perfectly clued, imo. Some solver may scratch their head for a minute or two, but then* boom*. They'll whisper, "So that's it!"

    Glimmerglass 8:05 AM  

    Great review, Rex. I agree with everything you said. I had Mince for 40A, but I knew STEELE had to be right for 38D, so that was self-correcting. I thought you'd object to WHAT THE and SO THAT'S IT, but I was wrong. @Loren Mused Smith: I loved the double meaning of TUB -- a TUB is a fat person, but also one of the containers in the showcase.

    Unknown 8:09 AM  

    Extremely challenging. Quit after 50 minutes. Managed to fill SE with one google for ZOLA. I'd guessed onEill as the contemporary of Addison, which made Zola invisible. No traction anywhere else.

    Wrongness: minces meat, ahoy heard on the high seas. Bibs found in ice cream parlors. Senators and kings orate.

    This is just about the worst I've ever been shutdown.

    Deborah 8:25 AM  

    Can someone please explain how minces is mutton?

    Davidph 8:28 AM  

    For 3d Muted, I had .epi. where the last letter had to be a or d. My brain came up with sEPIa and wouldn't let go. Sepia tones are muted, right? I stared and stared, and just couldn't figure out 1a Eureka from sosh..sit. So DNF.

    DBlock 8:44 AM  

    As in mutton chops

    easiest saturday for me ever although not quite sure why--just flew by

    Mohair Sam 9:06 AM  

    Really enjoyed this easy/medium Saturday solve. Agree with @rex totally - and agree with @LMS on TACIT - great word.

    Benefit of solving with spouse: TSELIOT agreed to. Off the "S" she says "That's STEELE." I ask "Who?" Off that "E" I say "That's EMILEZOLA." She asks "Who?"

    So much easier to do the puzz with two, more fun too.

    Great Saturday puzzle. Thanks Peter Wentz.

    Unknown 9:21 AM  

    I've gone back and used the reveal button for about 20 entries. Request for a hero NOOIL? Is that supposed to be kinky? Reminds me of the Ambiguously Gay Duo from old SNL. Heroes. Without oil. Seriously, NOOIL?

    With CLO____ in place for [Hit] I went straight to CLObber during the cheat-solve. That's what kind of solve it was.

    Anonymous 9:30 AM  

    Hero as in sandwich.

    John Child 9:31 AM  
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    Davidph 9:31 AM  

    @Casco: think sandwiches.

    John Child 9:33 AM  

    @Casco - If I wanted a sub or a grinder with mayo but NO OIL, would that make more sense?

    dk 9:52 AM  

    🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

    Not as enamored as others. Fill like ONPOT seemed strained.

    On the issue of NOOIL we used to order guinea sandwiches from D'Amaitos for my mom with NOOIL. The propritor who was sweet on my mom in High School would often comment: your mother is still trying to resist a greasy italian.

    Honeysmom 9:54 AM  

    Agree with Casco Kid. Challenging for sure, not easy-medium. Have a feeling Rex removed some cussing comments. Am SO impressed with all you geniuses who just whiz through stuff like this!?!

    Unknown 9:59 AM  

    Enjoyed seeing Rex like an intelligent puzzle!

    Carola 10:05 AM  

    Really enjoyed grappling with this one. Had a real struggle getting started - thanked the crossword stars for those XKES that got me rolling. I wonder if I'm the only one who had an ICEiclE between the -berg and the -FLOE.


    WHAT THE?! mirroring BOO HISS!
    The TOO FAST - CLOCKED line (as in mph)
    The literary conclave TS ELIOT x STEELE x EMILE ZOLA.

    Unknown 10:08 AM  

    100% in agreement with RP. I had the exact same thought when I finished, namely, that this one was so superior to the rest of the week's offerings. Also fell for minces for the longest time, figuring a bib was a common sight in an ice cream parlor. Finally got MUTTON and it all came together.

    Great puzzle!

    Charles Flaster 10:10 AM  

    Challenging due to three answers I could not discard--the Dow, iceberg and clobber.
    Ten minutes for 75℅ of puzzle and forty minutes for the rest. Once I got to THE FED the rest broke quickly.
    Disagree with Rex's review. Too many arbitrary (IMO) answers.
    Isn't it Yo ho ho? SO THATS IT? WHAT THE?
    Just seemed blah!!!
    Did like SKATE, ETD, LOIN crossing MUTTON.
    Nevertheless thanks PW.

    quilter1 10:26 AM  

    @LMS, original mincemeat had real meat, stewed beef. It was a way to preserve meat through winter. I have my grandma's recipe. She was named ZOLA, after ZOLA.
    My first pass through I didn't get much, then found a toe hold in the south and persisted from there. Finished in the mideast. Liked this way more than the rest of the week, though I always found something to like.

    mac 10:31 AM  

    Yes, me too, completely agree with Rex. What a class puzzle! enjoyed every minute of it.

    I wanted gummy bear and bib, and I LOVE boo hiss and What the....

    Now to try the Saturday Stumper.

    mac 10:33 AM  

    Mince is the normal word for ground beef in England, mincemeat is the lardy cake stuffing.

    I've watched some of "The Paradise", and was amazed it was based on a work by Zola. They must have really sugared it up.

    Cheerio 10:34 AM  

    I'm also in agreement with Rex. I finished on the L in MILER. I was thinking it could be MIXER or MIMER, but as Emile emerged, the L dawned as the perfect fit.

    That's what I love about the NYT puzzles. The clues are edited so that you know when the answer is right. You can submit to puzzly misdirects with the confidence that you will know when the answer is right.

    When a puzzle doesn't have that - well - it takes me back to a course in differential equations that I took in my last semester of college. On the take-home final, there was a question that did not have a gettable answer (based on the tools that we had). When I complained to the assistant professor in charge of the class, he told me that I had best not go on to graduate school (my plan) if I were not willing to bang my head against the wall to no avail. I am still annoyed that he was not remotely apologetic - though he turned out to be right about the graduate school part, :-).

    Unknown 10:35 AM  

    @JohnChild. Got it. Thanks. I seem to be a literalist these days. How daft of me.

    As I look over the clues and answers, I see I've missed a very clever puzzle. Damn.

    Cheerio 10:35 AM  

    OH, and great puzzle!

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:39 AM  

    Great puzzle, indeed; Medium for me.

    Write-overs at 11 D, CORE before BORE; and 38 D, STERNE before STEELE.

    (Apologies to LMS et al., but:) With regard to the longest one-syllable word, can gays and STRAIGHTS agree that there are STRENGTHS and weaknesses to the claim that the answer is 9, not 8?

    joho 10:41 AM  

    I felt like a kid in a candy shop solving this one ... finding more and more sweet answers, one after the other, as I moved around the grid. It doesn't get better than this! Thank you, Peter Wentz!

    @Rex, one of your best write-ups ever!

    Most difficult part of the puzzle for me was the SW because I was sure WORKerbee was right. For some reason I also remembered Bristol Mayer instead of MYERS. Got it all, though, then just sat back in admiration.

    (@LMS, your students are so lucky to have you! You will one of the teachers they never forget.)

    joho 10:43 AM  

    be one

    Teedmn 10:46 AM  

    I really enjoyed yesterday's puzzle so I don't think the gap with the rest of the week is as large as Rex would make it. This puzzle was equally enjoyable and just that much more difficult to make it Saturday worthy. Though the chest cold I've had this week migrated up into my ears and my brain feels all cottony so that could account for why this took twice as long as Friday's for me.

    WAN, CLEANSED, ONPOT, EDEN, MYERS, APPLETREE were all gimmes even though I also took CLEANSED out at least once, fell for Minces, tried CLObber, ICEberg. hHH means Hubert H Humphrey to me so I flirted with sTAS for a while ( isn't an airline terminal sort of like a station? No, that's just the cotton in your ears talking). So I got that slow, evolving solve that I cherish for a Saturday.

    Like @EllenS, wasn't sure if my brief foray to Google to see if HONEYBEAR was a real thing was "cheating" but I can live with an official DNF if I feel it was still my own brain that came up with answer.

    @LMS, I literally laughed out loud at your reef log. And love your use of the blog as a teaching device!

    Thanks Mr. Wentz for the fun puzzle.

    RooMonster 10:53 AM  

    Hey All !
    Yea for me! I actually trudged through the puz without any "Check" button pushing, and without Google! I finished it and got the Congratulations message! WooHoo! Took me 1:34, but the mindset of twisting the brain to Saturday clueing worked!

    The puz itself was pretty well filled. First entry was APPLETREE, truly believing I would have to change it! After the XKES, I managed to get the W center and SW, turned my attention to the NE, which fell next. Had cORE in first, but after parsing INFUN, saw the IBMPC. Had ___LUENZA for a long time. Finally got ICEFLOE, figured my THEFED and PILEON were right, so then finished up that area which led to getting NW. SW last to fall. Alot of possible Naticks with the three names down there. Hand up for MINCES. Wanted HONEYBEAR, but kept the bear at bay to see what would happen. Had ShElly for STEELE first, deciding twixt LTR and enl, but the GROVE down there helped, finally got MARIO, and all was well. Again, a SatPuz with no cheats! (Pats myself on the back)

    So nice to read a LMS post! And also she is sharing our "wisdom" with her class! Way cool!

    Good clean puz, no dreck! Had yin for CHI shortly, but took it out. Good workout!


    Nancy 11:03 AM  

    Loved this puzzle, which I finished by starting at the bottom and working my way up. I, too, had minces for MUTTON at first but STEELE sorted it out. (I should know that answer; "Addison Steele" was my pseudonym for the book I wrote back in the day (1978), titled "Upward Nobility".)
    Was tempted initially to cheat on the ZOLA answer, but am glad I didn't, as I was able to solve without any cheating at all. @John Child: I love your sliding scale of various cheats and your humor about the "honey" one. I agree with you that it's ALL cheating, in just about the same order that you specify. @Paper Purist: I too solve on paper, don't know what in hell a Mr. Happy Pencil even is, but still agree with John Child's list. @Glimmerglass: Didn't see the double meaning for TUB until you pointed it out. Anyway, a wonderful puzzle.

    Unknown 11:11 AM  

    Easy for me. I finished in under 30 minutes, and my standard Saturday is DNF. I think the generational stuff was on the mark for me.

    Just in case this hasn't been clearly answered:

    "Can someone please explain how minces is mutton?"

    The clue did not say "minces". In the clue "chops" is a noun used as an adjective (meaning "the type of meat used for making [lamb] chops"), not a verb.

    Ellen S 11:28 AM  

    @Nancy, as a confirmed cheater, I agree also about @John Child's list. But there are subtleties and nuances Addison and STEELE could not have imagined. If you ask the right question and the clue wasn't a misdirect (then Googling gives you the answer. E.g., "Best picture of 1937", although it might have been a 1936 picture, in which case you're no better off, and you will go to a "half full auditorium" all for nothing. I mean, if you're going to commit a mortal sin, you might as well get something out of it. But maybe that's why @LHS888 gives Googling a less status than Reveal Letter.

    But Reveal Letter isn't the same as Check Letter, unless you use it to run the alphabet. Which I resist... But Googling is no help with the wordplay clues, and Check Letter doesn't help much with the names you've really never heard of (e.g., the eponymous NATICK).

    What about when you put a word in (HONEY BEAR) and google to see if there is such a thing, and there is? Shouldn't that be the same level of cheat as when you put in a word and hit Check Word and no letters are erased? Hmmm, no I think the Google is a bit lesser, since you could still be wrong if you had fallen for a misdirect, where Check Word is unequivocal.

    As for following links to an xword site like this, which @LHS 888 deprecates as a "bozo move", that's how I found this in the first place, when I was solving the syndicated puzzle on paper, six weeks later. Rex himself almost never explained the answers I had gotten but didn't understand, but the commentariat always did. Now I think of the puzzles as my ticket to the blog.

    Oh, one more thing -- @LHS 888, it's AFFLUENZA. A disorder caused by having too much money and too many things. There's a movie of that name.

    RooMonster 11:44 AM  

    Test 1 2 3. This is only a test (to see if I figured out how to actually blog through Google). Computery type stuff takes me a long time!


    RooMonster 11:44 AM  



    Maruchka 11:49 AM  

    I'm with @CascoKid today, got lost in WHAT THE ?land. It is a sweet construct, lots of resonance, if I only had a brain..

    Too many do-overs to count, too cocky at first (SW). Then on to the Great Slog-fest. Cheats, googles aplenty :-(

    Fav of the day - TACIT (Hi @LMS, it's good to see your tag).

    Question: Is 'drudges' a real verb?

    Hero chime-sters - I kept scratching for a three-letter word, OIL never crossed my mind. Thanks.

    OISK 12:08 PM  

    I never Google, but just occasionally, my wife will ask "Got a clue for me?" - she gave me Bloomberg instead of Lieberman a week ago - but I tell myself I would have gotten it eventually anyway.

    Liked this puzzle, especially since it completed a perfect three week run, which is very rare for me these days. Product references annoyed me as usual, but XKE has appeared so often, and IBMPC, Bristol Myers, are far from obscure. "Terrain maker" gave me trouble - I just don't know my car models!

    This was one of those rare cases where nearly all of my first guesses were correct -Skate, Arles, honey bear, apple tree, Emile Zola, (Paul Muni, right?) so it went very smoothly for a Saturday.

    Nice work Mr. Wentz!! (and for once, I agree with Rex! As usual, I agree with Nancy)

    old timer 12:11 PM  

    Googled for Mr. Zola. Know who he is of course, but there is no way I could have known what the Best Picture for 1937 was. So that solved the SE. Knew I wanted STEELE, so the rest was easy down there.

    Knew I wanted APPLETREE too and KNEEPATCH. That forced me to abandon "orate" for 1D and substitute SKATE.

    But the puzzle has a fatal flaw that Rex did not mention: YOHO is simply Not. A. Word. Not in the dictionary. There is, believe it or not, a Yoho National Park somewhere in Canada. But "Yoho" is not a cry heard at sea. "Yo ho ho" (and a bottle of rum) is part of a sailor's song. And "Yo Ho" (the pirate's life for me) is a song from a Disney movie. But still, not a phrase you'll hear on any actual ocean.

    Steve J 12:13 PM  

    I'm not quite as effusive about this one as most, but this was definitely a solid, good-quality puzzle. Especially liked the contemporariness of AFFULENZA, plus SO THAT'S IT, MOON WALKS, HOLE IN ONE and BETAMAX.

    But there were a few parts where things seemed to be a bit strained. NO OIL, LAST MOVES and PIZZA PIES. I don't buy the POC concept, but there's something about tacking on a whole additional plural word to get something to fit that struck me as a bit of a stretch (I'm willing to bet that 99% of people would say "let's order some pizzas", not "let's order some pizza pies").

    Those were relatively minor issues - especially compared to the frequent tortured fill we've seen this week - in what's a good, WORKHORSE of a puzzle overall.

    (Oh, @Loren: 1. Good to see you back. 2. I've used "themself" in that context for years.)

    Leapfinger 12:13 PM  

    My APPLETREE FROZE last night (along with everything else in the yard), and my driveway is an ICEFLOE, so this was a perfect way to stay in and wait for the warm! Devilishly clever clueing that potentiated similar entries like orATE/SKATE and whaCKED/CLOCKED. BOOHISS for also thinking 'Chops meat'=Minces, which made TUB look like 'bib' and STEELE look unlikely; that blocked the whole SE for a while. Until I exposed the year at the end of clue 49A, I wondered how ErInbrokovich would shoehorn into that space. SO THAT waS IT, all IN FUN. Great FUN!!

    Liked the nod to the comic strip industry, with Li'l ASNER from KNEEPATCH, USA. Also there's MUTTON Jeff; nothing personal, Mr. Chen.

    On a more serious side:
    A person may contract AFFLUENZA by way of a corporate STEELE or by an aggravated TAXCHEAT (sometimes called a loopHOLE IN ONE way or another). Some disgruntled folk say he TOILS not, but only took advantage: 'The HELL with him and the WORKHORSE ERODE INON!'. However, we should LOIN not to be TOO FAST to PILE ON. Most sufferers from this condition are generally so thoughtful of others as to quarantine themselves in gated communities and isolated mansions, just to prevent transmission to the uninfected. With only their XKES to comfort them...

    HONEYBEAR with me! From Wentz cometh the best puzzle in ages!!!

    LHS 888 12:21 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    LHS 888 12:22 PM  

    @Ellen S - your HONEYBEAR paragraph is exactly why I rate google as a lesser cheat than Check. BTW I also found @Rex by googling for answers back when having a complete grid was a personal victory no matter how it was accomplished, and for that I'm grateful. Subsequently, following y'all on this blog has raised the bar for what I consider a win. So now if I must resort to cheating my cheating order is a) look up in reference library, b) Google (no links to Xword sites), c) check letter, d) check all, f) come here and find out how I could be so clueless. Any of the above result in some form of DNF. So be it. At least when I google I usually learn something new.

    And, yes you're right about AFFUENce > AFFLUENZA which was a typo here in the comments that I didn't make in the grid. I guess I was bleary-eyed earlier.

    7d5a9b1 12:23 PM  

    Come on, “Rex,” you’re just not trying. Look again at that fill. NOOIL? “Oil” isn’t an option to be declined where you get your heroes, is it? ETD XKES CHI EDEN GMC LTR is ultra-common dull stuff. Does anyone call them “Pizza pies” anymore? Isn’t it time to retire Ed Asner from crosswords? And “Yoho”—don’t just mildly dislike it, “Rex,” make fun of it, in your “Rex”-ish way. Has any sailor, tar, or yob ever used the phrase “Yoho” without that additional “ho”? Maybe ten men on the dead man’s chest give us just “Yoho,” but the requisite fifteen give us “Yohoho” AND a bottle of rum. And the cluing here is too cute by half. Patches, while they may extend the usable life of pants, don’t extend the pants themselves. An ice floe breaks off a shelf, it doesn’t fall. All this stuff strains credulity.

    Fred Romagnolo 12:36 PM  

    In agree that "googling" is cheating, but I have no reservations about using reference works (books, maps, etc.) because that's what they're for. In my eighties, after a life of teaching, I naturally accumulated many, many reference works. I could throw them all out and use Google, but what if the electricity goes down? It often does in my neighborhood (never on Nob Hill, or where Diane Feinstein lives, except after quakes). Besides, the exercise of going to my library and hefting tomes like Webster's Third, is good for me. After walking my dogs (3), and gardening, it's my next best form of exercise. So, to sum up, googling is a DNF, but referencing non-electronically isn't IMO (I'm not humble). I got started on this one with ZOLA & STEELE and eventually did finish (no google), but I still have to admire you folks who rated it (and yesterday's) easy or medium, sure wasn't for me. I wanted tritons for SEAGODS and clobbered for CLOCKED. Also HHH will always be Hubert Humphrey to me (Hube the Cube).

    Steve J 12:36 PM  

    @7d5a9b1: I look forward to the day where Rex notes that water is wet, and you stop by to go on about how wrong Rex is about the obvious dryness of water.

    Lewis 12:37 PM  

    I loved this puzzle. If @rex panned it, I was ready to argue back. I agreed with Rex on everything except that it was head and shoulders above all the puzzles, because I also liked yesterday's a lot as well. And I didn't find STEELE to be a gimme.

    Especially loved the clues for ASNER and TAPS, and loved the answers SOTHATSIT, PILEON, WHATTHE, BOOHISS, and HONEYBEAR. There are 13 double letters, quite high, and it's nice to see the east COAST.

    Except for LTR, the grid is squeaky clean. I thought this puzzle was upper echelon. Bravo!

    Lewis 12:53 PM  

    Factoid: A sheep in its first year is called a lamb; and its meat is also called lamb. The meat of a juvenile sheep older than one year is hogget; outside North America this is also a term for the living animal. The meat of an adult sheep is MUTTON, a term only used for the meat, not the living animals. (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome." -- T. S. ELIOT

    Maruchka 12:57 PM  

    @Fred R - Thanks! Remembering 1964, when HHH's train rolled into Richmond CA, we were fighting the good Goldwater fight (civil rights, no war). Ah..

    7d5a9b1 1:04 PM  

    Steve J misunderstands me. Such is often the fate of irony. Let me ever so laboriously explain myself. For my part, I enjoyed this puzzle. I thought it was great. I never said otherwise. But I was disappointed in "Rex"s failure to attack it, as he does most of the other puzzles I enjoy, for this and that--picking out fill that looks bad on a list, turning some niggling detail into a subject of mockery, imposing his often crazy literalism as a standard. No puzzle has ever been created that cannot be attacked in this way. "Rex" just didn't try this time.

    Teedmn 1:10 PM  

    PIZZA PIES, that's amore.

    Masked and Anonymous 2 U 1:17 PM  

    Had PETS/SHEGODS (well, may-urd, @muse... THEMGODS wouldn't fit). WANTED SMACKED, then CLICKED.

    faves from a very smooth fill: WHATTHE YALIE. NOOIL (perfectly legit and desperate, all in one package). BOOHISS. MOONWALKS stacked with PIZZAPIES. ONPOT. (@muse: how'bout a collab next summer, with MOONWOK as a seed themer?)

    Great, funky clues.
    XKES was the plural weeject of the week. Sounds sorta like TSKS, while sneezin or worse.

    Hauntingly strong themelessthUmbsUp. But where did all the U's wentz?



    Anonymous 1:22 PM  

    I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.



    mathguy 1:24 PM  

    Bravo, @Leapfinger!

    Dirigonzo 1:31 PM  

    I loved the puzzle but I hate the fact that AFFLUENZA has successfully been used as a defense to minimize the criminal responsibility of spoiled rich defendants who feel entitled due to their wealth. To them I say, BOOHISS. But I loved the puzzle anyway and of course as a retired T-man I enjoyed seeing Al Capone being labeled as a TAXCHEAT.

    Leapfinger 1:32 PM  

    @7d5a (may I call you that?), I have a complaint about the fill for you. @Bob Kerfuffle mentioned it in passing, but I thought 11D was just plain wrong. BORE [unless it's an overlong pedantic rant] is a long and narrow drill-hole, that's awl...while 'Hollow out' removes everything but the shell, and that's CORE.

    @CascoK, things will get better!

    @Roomie, nice to see you! I looked you up and left a message but didn't see how to send it. Maybe you have to go read it, maybe it'll just languish or disappear. The vagaries of Google-Plus.

    @Loren - Wow! that was worth waiting for. Your kids must have a Hell of a lot of fun to loin theirselves in your class! You are the mother of invention.

    Leapfinger 1:53 PM  

    [last one]

    Thanks, @mathguy! As you probably figured out, AFFLUENZA was new to me, and I found it intriguing in a sociological-economic-epidemiological way. I still haven't quite recovered from that $6000 shower curtain, and that was many years ago. I just played in a different way than @Dirigonzo.

    Teedmn 2:20 PM  

    @Leapy, SOTHATSIT, in a fit of AFFLUENZA, you splurged on the $6K curtain, leaving you with a HOLEINONE pocket and ERODEd your buying power. You've had to become a WORKHORSE a, delivering PIZZAPIES which is better than being a TAXCHEAT (BOOHISS) chased by THEFED.

    Soon you will be CLEANSED of your TOILS a because it was all INFUN and you'll be able to SKATE STRAIGHT out of this HELL. You have STEELE-girded your LOINs, got off the CLOCKED and it's all a MOONWALK in the park from here. HONEY how could you BEAR to trade in your XKE for a crummy Not-TOOFAST GMC?

    I could PILEON more but I GROVE TEPID so I'll COAST out of here.

    Hartley70 2:26 PM  

    Never heard of AFFLUENZA so it is hands down my favorite of the day. Like nearly everyone I loved this and was sure that minces, iceberg and bib were correct...until they weren't. Here's my question which I'm sure has been asked and answered before, but hey I'm fairly new here...Who exactly is Peter Wentz and does he rock and roll as "Pete"? That would be awesome! Either way, he gave us a fun puzzle.

    Benko 3:26 PM  

    @LMS: I use "themself" sometimes, but I've never had a problem making up words to suit the occasion. One of my favorites is "pointful" as a sarcastic antonym of "pointless"...as in, "Yeah, that's pointful..."

    Z 3:26 PM  

    ICE FLOEs do not fall off of Ice Shelves, ICEbergs do. Is an iceberg an example of an ICE FLOE? Anyone? To me an Iceberg results from glacial calving, while an ICE FLOE is not related to a glacier. Am I wrong?

    I have to agree that Rex over-rated this one and under-rated the rest of the week. Still, I really liked this one. However, "this," "that," "one," and their ilk should be avoided at 1A. Ughly start IMO. Add in the Random Commercial Initialisms (IBM PC, GMC, and XKES), two Greek letters (one hiding behind an oriental clue), another ETD(a) appearance, and LTR and you'll not convince me that there is a huge quality gap between today and yesterday 's offering.

    Anonymous 3:33 PM  


    The actual clue for 40A MUTTON is "Chops meat". Typical misdirection, it turns out that "chops" is to interpreted as a noun rather than a verb.

    As for "minces", it's just an incorrect guess that many people mentioned. So there's no connection at all between "minces" and MUTTON.

    evil doug 3:51 PM  

    I don't consider apes to have been astronauts, any more than I considered kenneled dogs in my 767 baggage bins 'pilots'.

    And not fond of 'Y athlete' as a clue for "Yalie", since it gives us the first letter of the answer. Good clue for Eli's, or Bulldogs.


    Dirigonzo 4:01 PM  

    @leapfinger - this is what caused my consternation at AFFLUENZA.

    GILL I. 4:38 PM  

    @Diri...I was trying to remember where I first heard that word. Amazing isn't it? The chutzpah for even uttering it as a defense.
    @ED. APES was a bit of a stretch now that I see it. I guess next we'll see German Shepherds?

    Alan 4:43 PM  

    Squeaky clean puzzle and a super-fast Saturday time for me. First entry was orATE, last entry way SKATE, after circling all the way back. I had APPLE____ before APPLETREE, and enjoyed how the finding GROVE and the cross-reference trippped the TREE part for me.

    evil doug 4:47 PM  

    Yeah, Gill. I had "AcES"--many of the early guys were fighter pilots with wartime aerial kills--until 29 Down nixed that....


    Noam D. Elkies 5:25 PM  

    Yes, just a nice misdirection, though it so happens that the famous opening of Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik is sort of reminiscent of 27A:TAPS (notably the opening 9 notes are all drawn from the same four notes of the 5-note bugle scale that sound in Taps).


    Lewis 5:28 PM  

    @benko -- "pointful" -- good one!

    Ludyjynn 6:01 PM  

    Speaking of cheating, I made no comment yesterday because the puzz. stumped me 3/4s through. I don't google or ask my four-legged live-in companions for help, so when I know I'm stuck, my cheat is to check Rex's finished posted puzzle, a line at a time, as needed, to get the brain in gear again and fill in the blanks. For me, yesterday was still a bear (NOT a HONEY!)

    Today's experience reaffirmed my 'walk away from the puzzle' technique. Started it in the morning w/ some success in the S, and here and there, but maybe got a tad more than halfway done when a social engagement called me away for several hours. Maybe it was the delicious oysters we ate at lunch or the wishful window shopping at a jewelry store (not suffering from AFFLUENZA, I could not afford the one-of-a-kind 18k, ruby and diamond bee earrings that spoke STRAIGHT to my heart), but when I picked up the puzzle again, I nearly shouted Eureka! as the LASTMOVES magically appeared.

    Thanks, PW and WS. Very clever misdirects.

    Crosswords Viewed thru a Mask 6:03 PM  

    Don't get me wrong. I really really enjoy outstanding themeless puzs like this one.

    But which puzs do U remember, long term? I honestly don't have many themelesses at all in that category. Maybe one: the Patrick Berry themeless that had every letter but an E. Which, in a gimmicky way, was a kinda unstated theme. I do remember that certain people make great themeless puzs, tho: Barry Silk, Patrick Berry, Karen Tracey, Manny Nosowsky, BEQ, and now Peter Wentz.

    I remember specifically oodles of great themed puzs, don't U? The one about wardrobe malfunctions. Or the one with the flying black U's in the grid design. Or the one that "cracked ME up". Or that one that couldn't decide whether BOBDOLE or CLINTON won. har. I may not always remember who did them, tho. But, I do remember several great constructors of themed puzs, too.

    So I think he, she & they who say that the fill is everything in a crossword may be way oversimplifying. Depends on what trips yer trigger, in my book. I just wanna say that I think the Shortzmeister does a darn fine job of supplying an arsenal of puzs with lotsa different triggers in em. And pull-chains, for old @63.

    But I digress.


    michael 6:35 PM  

    Just about an ideal Saturday puzzle. Right degree of difficulty (hard, but doable), fair, nicely-phrased clue/answer combinations.

    I got stuck for a while with orate instead of skate for 1down. For some reason, I knew the Zola answer, which helped a lot.

    Spokeswoman for American Females 6:46 PM  

    Dear Anon 1:22 - Please continue to do what you do. Buy a Philipine bride, or a Russian hooker, or whatever tickles your pathetic little fancy. Men like you are of no interest to intelligent, powerful women. We appreciate your leaving us alone.

    SpokesBeing for Bikes 7:26 PM  

    Aw geez, I can't believe someone felt an answer to Anon 1:22 was in order!!! But thanks for the effort, @SWfAF!

    Filipina Brides? Me, I'm on the lookout for a Horse Groom!

    Anonymous 9:01 PM  

    An APPLETREE was also found in EDEN.

    Don't Respond To Trolls Or Phishing 9:30 PM  

    Don't respond to trolls or those ridiculously long posts about girlfriends /wives/ relationships etc etc etc. Please. Just skip them and let the REAL posters get on with the blog.
    Oh, don't respond to the trolls and phishers, just in case I wasn't clear.

    Leapfinger 9:38 PM  

    @Tee'dmn, what's the story, Morning Glory? You sound like a woman after me own 'art! You obviously have away with words, but let's keep things straight, the one who cleansed behind that shower curtain was Dennis Kozlowski, former TYCOon, whose purchases included a $445 pincushion. Quite the little shopper, he.


    btw, that STEELE-girded LOIN thingy sounds suspiciously chased to me. Will have to think further abelt that.

    Andrew Heinegg 11:14 PM  

    Please do not dignify mentally ill people with responses, no matter how right you obviously are.

    Bob Kerfuffle 7:15 AM  

    Catching up with a day's worth of comments after a night on the town. Always great to learn something new from others' observations:

    @Lewis at 12:53 PM said, "The meat of a juvenile sheep older than one year is hogget; outside North America this is also a term for the living animal." That gave me a shock of memory, and I had to check - sure enough, the farmer in the movie BABE, about a sheep-herding pig, is named "Hogget," a little joke that I had not been aware of before!

    Anonymous 8:35 AM  

    I enjoyed this puzzle; struggled
    some with the SE corner and was off base with the two meat clues (stuck with minces far too long). Overall, felt good to finish and thought it was one of better puzzles in some time in terms of consistency of cluing.

    Medium seems fair for an overall evaluation of the difficulty.

    rondo 12:05 PM  

    Really liked this one! Biggest hang-up was in the mid-south with barretT crossing biB, but solving pretty much counterclockwise and to the middle cured me of that.
    Also some trouble with smaCKED, whaCKED, CraCKED, etc.
    But I'd never call this puz EZ.
    Funny to see BORE today after my AWL tirade yesterday.
    Lots of 70's stuff with IBMC, MARIO, and BETAMAX.
    I've actually had a HOLEINONE, nearly 20 years ago now. Cost a fortune in the clubhouse.
    STEELE a gimmee for OFL? Not so for me.
    Long time since I've heard, and wish I suffered from AFFLUENZA.

    Let's see about numbers for today . . .

    spacecraft 12:16 PM  

    @7d9a5b1: If any deli refuses to honor my NOOIL request (which I always make; I prefer mayo), I can assure you they won't be in business long; they certainly won't get any more of mine.

    This one didn't play easy at first; I finally wedged in with MYERS, EDEN and TEENS. Then XKES opened the rest of the SW. Was held up getting into the center trying to figure out the rest of WHA____. Revisited the NW and found SKATE and APPLETREE. Hand up for berg, but FLOE was on my mind as I found THEFED, hence AFFLUENZA, and the NE was history. Finished in the SE with OFL's last: the M of MILER.

    A satisfying do. If I picked, it would be at nits. THE is never good, but THEFED enjoys super-acceptance in the real language, so no BOOHISS there. PIZZAPIES sounds a bit green-paintish; PIZZAS is enough, really. But again, in the language.

    It seemed that twice in this puzzle, high scrabble-count entries greatly eased progress--almost to the point I wish they hadn't been there. I'll call it medium, but the lack of fill junk is positively Berryesque. YOHO notwithstanding, I give it an A.

    3722. WHATTHE...

    rain forest 3:16 PM  

    Medium, but oh so smooth, here. I liked this a lot, but two wrong slamdowns - ICEBERG, and WORKER BEE, held me up too long. Once those were fixed, the rest went smoothly and was tres enjoyable.

    Today's and yesterday's were a good end to the week, and any quality gap is not as large as @Rex would have us believe.

    WHAT THE, BOO HISS, and SO THAT'S IT, were great, as were the longer entries.

    I don't see why some had an issue to 52A. In the endgame, you are down to the LAST MOVES.

    Apparently, I may never get to play baccarat again.

    Anonymous 4:31 PM  

    Said the latent homosexual mysogynist

    KariSeattle 4:38 PM  

    Wow! Rarified air in here! I have Never solved a Sat puzzle without a google fest, but don't consider it cheating, I'm improving my vocabulary, and keeping my humility in check! : )

    leftcoastTAM 6:49 PM  

    Enjoyed the puzzle until my brain FROZE in the NE because of NO OIL. Also stuck much too long with cORE, not seeing BORE.

    I think that looking at any source outside of the puzzle itself to find or check answers is "cheating" to one degree or another. Granted, I may be too much of a stickler about this, but I do think such "cheaters" lose bragging rights.

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