Japanese for finger pressure / SAT 4-11-15 / He struck Caesar like a cur / Big letters in bowling alleys / Mauritian money / Rule ending in 1947 / Renowned 1920s raider / 1990s collectible

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Easy

[You can see where I wrote "CARAN…, up top, in my bid to parse CAR ANTENNA (5D: One getting the show on the road?) … you can also see that I wrote "Wow!" for that clue, as well as for 25D: Fitting entertainment at an arcade? (TETRIS)]

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Bandar SERI Begawan (35D: Bandar ___ Begawan (Brunei's capital)) —
Bandar Seri Begawan /ˌbndə sɨˌr bɨˈɡən/ ba(h)nd sə-ree bə-gow-ən (Jawiبندر سري بڬاوان ; Malay: [ˌbanda səˌri bəˈɡawan]) with an estimated population of more than 200,000 (in 2014), is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Brunei. (wikipedia)
 [Not sure what red line indicates—cruise? pirate adventure?]

• • •

I always (and I mean Always) forget where Brunei is. So the map is for me than it is for you. I mean, you can look at it if you want, but my principal edification target is me. I solved on paper today for some reason. I think I just got sick of screens. Sometimes it's nice to be able to look back over a grid and really See where you screwed up (erasures, write-overs, etc.). Or where you got annoyed / aggrieved (note all the little :( faces and "?"s and what not on my grid). I missed the ACPT this year, so I haven't had to solve on paper in a long time, but I'm headed to The Indie 500 Tournament in D.C. on May 30, and since tournament solving is always done on paper, I kind of need to get back into paper-solving shape. It really is a different beast in a lot of ways, though the harder the puzzle gets, the less important the difference is between on-screen and paper—on-screen is much faster when you're dealing with easy puzzles. But ANYway… paper! I like making little marginal annotations as I go. I usually do this after I print out a completed puzzle, but it's kind of nice to record my notes as I solve, rather than retrospectively; more … authentic, somehow.

[18A: Like many 911 calls]

I thought this puzzle was fine. As quadstacks go, totally average. It has all the usual infelicities in the short fill, but somehow today these are not offset by charming / interesting stack-answers. BEATING A RETREAT has a bit of life, but the rest are common-letter-heavy snoozers. I thought SALES ASSISTANTS was a joke among constructors, as it is oft-used and saturated in 1-pt Scrabble tiles. Maybe I'm thinking of a different phrase, but SALES ASSISTANTS is close. *All* those "S"s enable soooo many plurals. Makes filling a grid like this soooo much easier (not easy—but easier). ALTERNATE ROUTES has about as much charm. NO INTEREST LOANS. Seriously, these are all phrases from a tedious business meeting where people sit around a conference table and vie to impress the CEO w/ business speak jargon. What did we NET? How do we lower our TAX liability? Do we still have that fleet of SSTS in Bandar SERI Begawan or did we sell those? CAN TEEN consumers get their parents to say YES to buying them this year's hottest fashion, "UTE RAGS"? Where's PAT? Get PAT in here. She'll want in on this." ETC.

Here's a recent New Yorker cartoon with (yet another) bullshit grid.

Have you noticed how incapable advertisers / cartoonists / all humans are of depicting American crossword grids accurately? Dear editors: here are the Basics: 1. all-over interlock (i.e. no unchecked squares) 2. no answers of fewer than three letters 3. rotational symmetry (or some kind of symmetry). Please share with any friends you have who are or might some day be responsible for the visual representation of American crossword grids. Thanks!

Here's another bad one:

["MYSTERY" is right …]

And another:

[Now *that* is a terrible theme]

So at this point, it looks like I'm a collector.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


wreck 12:13 AM  

Looking at MAS's notes at XWORDINFO, he offered an alternative clued puzzle for "dummies." I should have done THAT one!! This was out of my league. Too many "cheats" to mention!

jae 12:18 AM  

Nice to see MAS back with a stack.  Medium  for me.  Top half went quickly after I corrected my spelling of MADEIRA.  The bottom was a tad tougher, but the stack took a while.  Partly because I had aLleN PA. on a river which it's nowhere near and partly because it was hard to BITE on NABS for cops.  SERI (had SEtI at first) and OLEAN as WOEs didn't help. 

Nothing all that exciting here, but a pretty smooth grid with some Sat. crunch, or what Rex said.  Liked it.

George Barany 12:18 AM  

Amusing writeup, @Rex, and thanks for sharing your collection of wacky grids.

Regular readers to this blog are surely aware that @Martin Ashwood-Smith (aka MAS) is a friend of mine, so I've been privy to some behind-the-scenes information about the creation of today's puzzle. To make a point about the fill, MAS also created this version with the identical answers, but Monday/Tuesday level clues. I believe it to be quite instructive.

Finally, I'm pleased to tell those of you who have not yet had their fill of quadstacks today that we have just posted a companion puzzle, entitled 4 Play. Enjoy!

Zeke 12:22 AM  

Damn, that cartographer is going to get an earful from the grammar nazi. Poor bastard.

When I solve a puzzle I have very narrow vision, I start at 1A and stick with it. I was actually excited to be doing a MAS without the quad 15s (there having been no reason to look below the 6th row at that point). Excited until I got to EDATE.

Very little to get excited about here.

r.alphbunker 12:38 AM  

Unusual solve pattern for me as indicated by my image which shows that I filled the top and bottom before getting to the quad stack. Finished with PLEASESIt/tEXES instead of PLEASESIR/REXES. Never heard of the cat but in hindsight I guess that you don't really appeal to someone to sit unless maybe at a movie theater.

Thomaso808 1:45 AM  

Interesting cross of BEATEN and BEATINGARETREAT. It never occurred to me that you have to be BEATEN before BEATING! Actually, that sounds really bad.

Medium for me but started out pretty tough with only LOTTOS on the first pass. On the first pass I don't look at the grid to see the number of letters. Second pass I looked at the grid and got INB over CEO, then RUED. SW fell, then NW with RAJ / RUPEE, the NE with HEX / XENO. Chipping away!

I thought the grid was great. I have never tried to construct, but a four stack usually has me awe. Plus all the threes were really pretty good. Fun puzzle!

Dean 2:11 AM  

Can someone explain how Opportune is PAT? I can see APT, but PAT is something either you or a cow has down.

Google search 2:30 AM  

Definition of PAT :  in a pat manner :  aptly, perfectly 

Related Words for opportune: appropriate, apt, fit, fitting, meet, pat, proper, suitable; pertinent, relative, relevant; fortunate, lucky, propitious; anticipated, expected; prompt, punctual

chefwen 2:31 AM  

Just the opposite of @jae, got the bottom third done first, top second and just chipped away at the stack. I was just happy that there was only one and not three or four as MAS in wont to do. I also spelled MADEIRA incorrectly at first, Jon fixed that and also gave me NO INTEREST LOANS which was a HUGE help in "the stack". There is something to be said about double teaming.

Gotta love a weekend that one can finish smoothly. Doesn't often happen in this little corner of the puzzle world.

Thanks for taking it easy on us MAS. Stack away, you don't scare me anymore.

John Child 2:54 AM  

Good fun, and spot-on Saturday time for me. The re-clued version is very instructive. Not exactly easy, but a great way to show how much difference clueing makes: two people named Rex versus an obscure breed of cats. And also illustrative of where you can't clue something much differently: OLEAN for example.

Thanks for going the extra mile Mr Ashwood-Smith!

chefwen 3:51 AM  

Aloha @ Thomas808, Mahalo for your support yesterday.

Chefwen aka Wendy.

Thomaso808 4:38 AM  

@chefwen sorry there's really no Hawaiian word for you're welcome, so you're welcome! It's nice to know there's someone else in the same time zone on this blog. Shoots den, seestah!

GILL I. 5:55 AM  

MAS used to scare the pants off of me. After you do a lot of his quads, you kinda get into his quirky mindset. His cluing is always a head scratcher but after a while, you figure out what he's been drinking.
Strangely, I got the 15's just off of NABS and OLEAN. What gave me the biggest fit was CARANT ENNA. seriously, I could not see plain ole CAR.
ONE AT is my least favorite but that's about all.
I'm glad Will went back on his promise not to publish any stacks because I love them and MAS is the MASter.

Charles Flaster 5:57 AM  

Wow-- a fabulously constructed quad stack.
Like most quads if you persevere you can progress.
My only miscue was my last entry--SATAl for SATAY.
No crosswordEASE pour moi.
Talking about Chicago, I think White Sox have one of the better teams in AL-- so what gives? It's early I guess.
Also the MAS puzzle George B talks about in his
comment today---4Play, is another great solve.
Thanks MAS.

mac 5:59 AM  

Medium for me,too. Rewrites were Print/paper, back to print, and levees for lottos.

Full disclosure: when I was 2/3 done, I googled Seri, then finished the rest quickly.

Hlinak 7:51 AM  

I had ALI for jungle swinger. That was a much better answer.

Mohair Sam 8:32 AM  

Always enjoy stacks from Martin Ashwood-Smith, and this one was no exception. Lots of fun, although it played easy for a Saturday.

Misspelling MADEIRA at first (hi @Chefwen) and ACERBIC, left me wondering for a bit just what the hell a seRANTENNA was. Didn't know SATAY nor REXES so the SE corner was tough for a while - but IMAGE wasn't too tough to guess and the crosses were easy enough.

Particularly enjoyed @Rex's comments today as well. Maybe solving the dead-tree version tickles his funny bone.

Keep stackin' them MAS, another beauty.

Billy C 8:42 AM  

Barany is using this space to promote his puzzles again.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

Help. Please explain 29D.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

ONE AT? WTF? Sorry, I just don't get it.


George Barany 9:07 AM  

To Anonymous @8:48 AM

The clue is "Leader for a time?" and the ? indicates it is a tricky clue. The answer is ONEAT.

To parse, think: "ONE_AT_a_time."

Billy C 9:07 AM  

In "one at a time," (go in single file, say), "one at" leads "a time. "

Loren Muse Smith 9:23 AM  

Rex – I'm a pencil/paper solver and nothing messes with my head more than being forced to solve online. Funny how we all have our systems. Even if I'm still up and print out the puzzle at 10pm, I will not even look at it until the next morning. Ever. That would totally discombobulate me.

@mac – me, too for "paper" and "levee" first. But I never relinquished "paper" and hence had a dnf because of that bottom part. Looking back at it now, I'm kicking myself. We were both thinking of "levy," huh?!

I also had "Alger Hiss" before ELIOT NESS and I'm here to admit it to the world. Dates, schmates. It fit.

I think my first two entries were BITES/FRANTIC. And then I sat there for a while, frantic that nothing else was obvious. I think I got RUED next and crossed it with "dam," really, really pleased for those little furry gals that they get to be called that. Seriously. I was. I was already picturing myself going downstairs to Ms. Bunch's room, a room with two pet hamsters, and deftly fitting the word into a conversation. And then I immediately dismissed the idea, fully aware that, just like pointing out grammar mistakes in a milieu where the focus is elsewhere, throwing around esoteric words that no one knows will pretty much label you a total asshole, too.

I always admonish my students, my students who are slowly getting when it's John and I and when it's John and me, just to keep their traps shut in other classes if a teacher or administrator errs. I've learned the hard way that there's not much that can catapult you faster to pariahdom than correcting someone's grammar unsolicited. Well, maybe handing out Amway business cards could be worse. Or these words, "Hey – wanna see what I just blew into this Kleenex? You won't believe the color, man."

Anyhoo, SIR right over DAME. Nice. And anything ACERBIC BITES.

I was in serious danger of not getting even half until I gave up " _ _ _ _savants" for those counter intelligent sorts. Rain Man and all that.

DOE reminded me of this article about a hamster – a FRANTIC search was involved.

Harry the Hamster

MAS – I always enjoy your stacks immensely. I was looking forward to this one, and it didn't disappoint. Well done and thanks.

Dorothy Biggs 9:37 AM  

Is it me or were there a lot of "?" clues today? That vague impression is probably why I didn't really care for the puzzle. I'll check out the "easier" cluing to see how that feels...but overall, the answers seemed okay, it was the clues that wore on me.

Add music notes to "Things Advertisers Have No Idea How To Draw." Backward flags, imaginary notes (I'm looking at you half-note-eighth-note), and don't even get me started on clefs. I mean seriously, can you not just take a quick glance at actual music?

Today's puzzle was, for me, on the easy-ish side and maybe skewed to the challenging only because the stacks were intimidating at first.

Also had jujiTSU at 57A because I was sure that people who practice jujitsu use their fingers to gouge your eyes out or something. Turns out, not only is that not the case, but it is NIE the case.

German. Finally, a language I know.

Dorothy Biggs 9:43 AM  

Oh yeah, and I smugly filled in sauteRn as the alternative to port. Oh, yeah...it's sauterne. I knew Madeira, but really, now I want a sauterne in all of it's sweet buttery goodness.

Nancy 9:47 AM  

This was a bear for me and I'm amazed at the people who found it easy, or even almost-easy. Like @lms, BITES let me in, but not as paired with FRANTIC, In my case, it was paired with ACERBIC. I was thrown off for a long time by 15A, where I had reD wIne for MADEIRA, making it impossible to see even such an easy answer as RENTS. I didn't know Daphne was a DAME, didn't know REXES were cats and didn't know TAX appears on two Monopoly squares. I don't know what TETRIS are. And I thought that "Sim" sounded like a "to be" construction such as "I am", Had no idea it was YES. Bet the real linguists on this blog -- @GILL, @Leapfinger, @Aketi, et al (Am I right about whom the real linguists are?) -- didn't make this mistake.

With my final guess at the X of the TAX/REXES cross, I finished. I enjoyed
The answers
More than
The clues
The clues were
Very terse
Very terse
Is something that
I'm not.

John Child 9:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 9:50 AM  

The boys ever so briefly collected POGs, so why did I want Pez? Probably the same reason that reading "Forbidden Kingdom" had me thinking "Forbidden Planet" and wondering how I was supposed to know the stars of old science fiction films. Not that I knew who starred in "Forbidden Kingdom," either. I was looking at Jo-L-/oTo and said, "must be JET LI/UTE." JET LI led to CHAN to RUNS ACROSS. The N in CHAN finally, finally, helped me dredge up ANTHERS from 8th grade science class. the A in LOATH was my last letter in.

Slow Slow Slow start until AMF gave me enough to suss out the Dakotas. Thank you branding. I bowl maybe twice a decade, but remember the red triangle with letters from when I was a kid.

I'd object to the SALES ASSISTANTS/SSTS cross, but I had fun so I won't even mention it. A fine Saturday challenge here.

John Child 9:54 AM  

@Billy C, what are you using this space for?

Your comments on the puzzles recently have been interesting and most welcome. Even our grammar Nazi will find a receptive audience for comments that are on-topic and civil.

Today Dr Barany offers another MAS puzzle for the gang. Ignore it or solve it as you like.

AliasZ 9:56 AM  

The ELIOTNESS of J. Alfred Prufrock is surpassed only by the Joyceness of Leopold Bloom.

I was happy to see the nicely stacked foursome. The added row is necessary with a quad stack in the center in order to maintain conventional grid symmetry, because four into 15 doesn't go. Only L|R mirror symmetry would work in a 15x15.

I liked all the 15s, my favorite of which is now BEATING A RETREAT in favor of NO INTEREST LOANS. How do money loaners profit from NO INTEREST LOANS I'll never understand, unless they are also the purveyors of the goods for which the loans were obtained. But that's a question for another blog.

I was especially ENCOURAGED by the fact that each of the six long downs RUNS ACROSS not only the quad stack, but also two additional 10's. And PLEASE SIR, throw ELIOT NESS into the fray. They sure make the the wide four-lane (not forlane, the Italian folk dance) highway nicely connected to both the highlands and the nether regions -- ATALL order indeed -- and it ATTESTED TO the unobstructed flow and ease with which my solve proceeded.

It seems MAS got just a touch obsessed with BEATING it, either HAND BEATEN or BEATING A RETREAT. But I'm glad he beat it, meaning his fear, into submission. Apparently he ANTHERS to a higher authority. Therefore I won't touch EDATE (or SERI or SSTS). I keep wanting to pronounce ITALIANICE to rhyme with Italia Nitzsche, and CARAN TENNA seemed kooky at first.

MAS, this puzzle is definitely a passer of the stack test. In fact, I would call it a TRÈS PASSER.

To maintain the French mood, let us listen to the Kyrie, Gloria and Credo of "Messe de Nostre DAME" by Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377). Mesmerizing!

@Billy C, you are becoming an embarrassment to all self-respecting stalkers.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:00 AM  

Very good if easy puzzle.

Hand up for spelling MADEIRA wrong the first time through; other write-over at 45 D, CASIO before CASCA (I'll have to watch out for that one in the future!)

I'll admit to being uncomfortable by the equivalence of PAT and "Opportune," but apparently correct as explained in an earlier comment.

mac 10:02 AM  

Forgot something: I picked Oto instead of Ute for a little while, so with JO... put in Jolie, which made Chan Pitt.

Acerbic Acme 10:19 AM  

I am creating a puzzle and cluing the fill found in 51d as: rambling rants about crosswords.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I sometimes perform SHIATSU on my shitsu (var.).

Carola 10:24 AM  

A rare "easy" for me for an MAS puzzle. Unable to do anything with RAJ, I went on to ACERBIC, confirmed it with RENTS, and went from there on an enjoyable ramble to the bottom of the grid.

The layout helped me a lot - the four long Downs SONNETEER, CAR ANTENNA, ENCOURAGED, and HAND BEATEN opened up the center stack, and then ITALIAN ICE and TRESPASSER provided inroads to the lower tier. I had to pause to run the alphabet at TAX x REXES and came here to find out if it was right. YES!

I liked TETRIS and RUNS ACROSS going in their proper directions.

Name that tune 10:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:26 AM  


Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Is OLEAN anywhere near Natick?

Name that tune 10:38 AM  

I had a few drinks before writing my blog last night. To wit, even though I still damned this puzzle with faint praise ("I thought this puzzle was fine"), and I managed to review it with an air of indifference and mild disdain, I avoided my usual ACERBIC approach and actually had some interesting things to say about solving. I also had a nice and humorous aside about fake crossword grids in cartoons and ads. I avoided repeating myself twenty times, and I managed to avoid my cloying overuse. Of. Periods. You see, I can be a kind, interesting, and funny person who offers some insight into the crossworld if I so choose. I just mostly don't choose. Come to think of it, I should probably drink more often.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Did anyone else have ONEAD (1 a.d.) for "leader for a time?" You know, the first year of the common era? I thought I was very clever, until I was proven incorrect.

mathguy 10:41 AM  

The lower right had me staring at the grid. I called in The Closer and she got DAME. I guessed YES because sim is like si and Portuguese words are like Spanish words. That gave us SATAY instead of kabob and we had it.

Very crunchy for me. An MGI of 41, above average for a Friday.

Even though it seems to be technically correct, I don't like PAT. I never use that word to mean opportune. Nor have I read it where it has that meaning.

I complained to The Closer about AXE meaning "Jungle swinger." I know that the constructor wanted us to think APE, but I think he went too far. She has never met a clue that she didn't like and she blithely explained that axes are used to clear away underbrush. In what movie?

Thanks to @Alias Z for pointing out the six long downs crossing the quad stack. Nice.

Teedmn 10:47 AM  

Would you all quit saying this was easy?!!! I struggled for 65 minutes on this. But it was a blissful struggle (because I solved with no help, yay).

A la @LMS, I printed the puzzle at 9 PM last night (CDT), noted the constructor, looked for my fave stacks (yay) and averted my eyes as I carried it to the kitchen for my morning solve. And it was everything I'd hoped for. Thanks, MAS!

INB, NET and the N for NIE were my only early write-ins. HEX gave me the far NE but could I see BEATEN from the B in INB? Not for a long time. Held off MADieRA for the longest time, worrying it might be MArsalA. Had AMc so didn't see FRANTIC, instead wanted cRANk something.

But the over-write winner of the day was Paper for PRINT. Most of my solve time can be attributed to that error, aargh. And sim, I groused to myself that for some here (@Tita, @GILL I), 65A was a gimme ( :-) @Nancy) whereas I had a cute little travel dictionary in my library where I could just take a peek... But I have a self-IMAGE to uphold so I did not succumb to temptation.

Sad that it' over already, but also relieved. Have a great weekend, everybody.

Billy C 10:47 AM  

@John Child--

I find the Professor's use of this blog for self-promotion quite annoying. He is free to use Rex's constructor's list on the right side of the blog to post his name as a pointer to his puzzles, as I've suggested before; but no, he prefers to highlight his work in this space. You find my complaints in this space annoying; complain or ignore them, as you like.

AliasZ --

An embarrassment to all self-respecting Stalkers? Wow, I consider that a high compliment!

Thanks for the attention, guys. ;-)

Your friend,


joho 10:50 AM  

I like that @GILL I dubbed MAS as the MASter of stacks simply because he is. I never get sick of seeing his name at the top and always anticipate the challenges he creates. Today's was a bit on the easy side but that in no way made this puzzle less interesting or entertaining. I thought the cluing was top notch today.

Also there wasn't a ONE in any of the stacked answers! Bravo!

grammar nazi 10:51 AM  

Hey look, there is someone more reviled in the eyes of the (maybe) real John Child (resident scolder) than I! Billy C, I thank you.

jberg 10:54 AM  

I groaned a bit when I put in the gimme RAJ at 1A, but that was my downfall. Starting with that bit of crosswordese made me fall for the misdirect to ApE 1t 16A ("jungle swinger"). I couldn't give it up, couldn't see EXIT at all, so figured EP IT must have some special meaning. (Or maybe E pIT? or Epi T?) Thus finished with an error.

Hand up for CASio, too, @Bob_Kerfuffle. That CASCA was a calculating person.

What really held me up (besides Paper at 46D) was seeing 5D down and figuring that carnivals and circuses traveled in CARAvans. I didn't write it in because I couldn't figure out what the extra letters would be, but I was looking for a vESSy raider at 24A.

This puzzle is a good example of how you don't really have to know much to solve tough clues. 3-letter rule? RAJ. Currency staring with R? Either Rial or RUPEE. 3-letter author? NIN. 3-letter female mammal? sow or DOE.

But enough about the puzzle. How 'bout those REXES? Worth looking up. You've got your Cornish REX, your Devon REX, your Selkirk REX, your Oregon REX, and many more -- and not all even related to each other. There's a bit of scandal, though -- the Cornish Rex breed apparently originates from an incestuous pairing between a mutant male and his mother. But I don't want to get catty about it.

Billy C 10:58 AM  

@Mr. G. Nazi --

For shame. "...than I"

An embarrassment to your name. ;-)

Maruchka 11:05 AM  

MAS (alongside DS and PB) are my go-to guys for AHAs. Not today, alas. Agree with @NCA Pres that it seemed there were too many ? clues, and a certain flatNESS, clue-wise (hi @Nancy).

Oh well, the sun is out, and so go I (hi @LMS).

@Rex - Really enjoyed seeing your handiwork, after first freaking out that it would be unsussable.

grammar nazi 11:07 AM  

@Billy C: wrong. I hope you are joking, but I fear your are not. "Than I" is correct. The only thing worse than a grammar nazi is an incorrect wannabe grammar nazi. And here I thought we were forming an outcast bond. :(

Name that tune 11:10 AM  

@Maruchka, why are you calling @Nancy flat? I happen to know better.


Billy C 11:26 AM  

@Mr. nazi --

"Than I" is an attempt at a preposioal phrase, "than" in this instance being a preposition and "I" purportedly the object of the preposion; but "i" is subjective case, not the objective "me."

Sorry to all other readers who find this more than they care to know.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

This is priceless. GN and Billy C duking it out.

Leapfinger 11:37 AM  

Alert! Ancillary comment, close brushes with spoilers!


Oh YEAH! I could look forward to a SECond MA-S puzzle every day! I s'pose the "4 Play" refers to the quad stacks, but it does muddy the waters to throw in the RUT. Particularly nice that several grid-spanners and long 'uns could be filled different ways, though I can't quite explain how I came up
with "button-holed".

Kind of cute that the main MA-S has ELIOT NESS while the back-up apparently has has his cousin --- The Thin Man, yes? (Trying to avoid a major spoiler there.)

Was relieved that mold wasn't being passed off as a plant, but would you please tell MA-S that he ms-spelled MAMMAL?

OXOXO for the double-header. Enjoyed immensely.

grammar nazi 11:48 AM  

Billy C--It's nice that we, the most reviled of blog commenteriat, are providing entertainment for the huddled masses, but you continue to be incorrect. "Billy C is more reviled than I [am]." The "am" is implied, "than" in this sentence is a conjunction and NOT a preposition, and "than I" is correct. "Than me" is common in informal language, and some might even consider it acceptable, but it is grammatically incorrect. Your claim that "than I" is incorrect is clearly incorrect. This is quite different than saying "everyone on the comment board reviled me," which is, I fear, a sentence all too accurate for both of us.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Agree with @NCA President - ten "?" clues seems excessive...

An IRS Agent 11:56 AM  

One and all, please be warned that there is no such thing as a "no interest loan". You may be told that there is no interest, but interest must be charged. We calculate the industry standard interest and impute it as a gift on the part of the lender. There are exceptions, your "no interest for 60 months" car loan has to have a balancing option for a $500 rebate. The "no interest if paid within 12 months" is a payment plan, not a loan.

We take this very seriously.

grammar nazi 11:58 AM  

Billy C: You should stick to barating Barany (see what I did there?) and leave the grammar to I.

Ludyjynn 12:03 PM  

I half expected a comment from @Evil re HANDBEATEN...

AMF and RAJ were my entrees into this med-chall. adventure. Disliked PAT and had to correct MADEIRA spelling like many of you. Also had 'kabab' before SATAY.

DAME Edna was an answer on "Jeopardy" last night.

What an interesting way to spell ELIOT. Usually see two ls and/or two ts. I liked NESS Nabbing TRESPASSERs.

I am in the midst of a FRANTIC search for my bracelet which somehow detached itself from my wrist this morning. It is somewhere in the house or upper yard, but so far, no luck retrieving it. Must cut this short to resume the hunt.

Thanks, MAS and WS.

Billy C 12:04 PM  

@Mr. Nazi --

You're right that "than" is a conjunction, not a preposition, in the usage "...than I am."

You claim the "am" is implied, which would make you correct. I claim that the "am" is not there, making "than" a preposition.

@Professor Barany -- As the clearly most-erudite member of this board, can you make a ruling, please?

grammar nazi 12:10 PM  

Billy-- read this:


We are both correct, but I am more correct. Your stubborn claim that my construction is grammatically wrong is becoming embarrassing.

MDMA 12:14 PM  

Every time I really struggle across the finish line, I just know Rex will have rated the puzzle "Easy". Never fails.

Lots of bizarrely clued short fill. Wanted "apt" instead of PAT, wanted "hit" instead of HEX, and "ape" instead of AXE. Never heard of a POG. Still don't get ELLS, or why an IRIS is a flag.

I don't think axes are very useful in tropical jungles, actually. The wood is too dense and the trees are too packed. If you managed to chop down a tree, it would probably be held in place by vines and neighboring trees instead of falling. If you want to clear an area you have to burn; if you want to hack your way through, a machete is much more useful.

The corners were toughest (except for southeast). I actually finished the quadstack in the center before any other section was completed. Looked scary but really wasn't.

I thought the "easily clued" alternate 1A was tougher than the actual puzzle, where RAJ for British rule of India is extremely common crosswordese, and one of the few gimmes today (SHIATSU, NIE, and PRINT were the others, for me).

Unlike some of you, I never solve on paper. For some reason I just perform much better with the app. On paper I rarely finished Saturdays; with the app, I almost always do. Can't explain it, must be psychological.

old timer 12:24 PM  

Let me recommend the new book by Mary Norris, "Between You and Me". The author is a long-time copy editor at The New Yorker and knows whereof she speaks.

I personally think it can go either way. So do the editors at Merriam-Webster, who have a very uncharacteristic discussion, at the word "than".

As it turns out, a great Robin and Linda Williams song has been running through my head recently, "Across the Blue Mountain." In hat song, a young girl runs off with a married man. Her mother objects, and points out, "There are young men aplenty / more handsome than he. / let him take his own wife / to the Allegheny."

"Him" would be just wrong there.

Lewis 12:33 PM  

Not easy for me, but fair. It was a fairly clean grid and must have been tough as hell to create. There were answer that felt like they would never come, so it was a struggle, but I'm glad to have gone through it. The puzzle seemed to have MAS appeal to this crowd!

Ellen S 12:38 PM  

@grammar nazi -- I enjoy your posts. @Billy C, not so much. And regarding this current argument, my mother, a mere schoolteacher, gave me the hint about "...than I [am]", easy to remember, none of that "preposial" stuff. She had a similar trick for avoiding mistakes with "him and me" "he and I" -- just leave one person out of it and you'll see whether to use "I" or "me" -- "It was good enough for me/ It was good enough for him" gives you "It was good enough for him and me" and you'll never again say, "It was good enough for he and I" unless you're trying to be fancy and prove you're not.

Regarding the original scold, I enjoy @George Barany's posts, just as I enjoy @AliasZ's.

I didn't enjoy this puzzle so much. I filled in four non-intersecting words and could go no further. Actually, one of the words was ApE, so I filled in three correct words and one wrong 'un. I came here to report a DNF (or even start, really), but spotted UTE on @Rex's post and decide to see what that one big cheat would give me. Turns out it gave me, I don't know, confidence maybe, but off I went. Finishing with Ape still in place, but a lot better finish than I started with.

Like everyone, I didn't like PAT, but it reminded me of Richard Nixon's two campaign bumper stickers for his second term. One said "NIXON'S THE ONE" which I agreed with, and the other was "I CAN'T STAND PAT" which I thought was meanspirited.

old timer 12:39 PM  

Now for the puzzle. I thought it was a great one, and far better with the touch cluing than the Tuesday-level alternate. Gave me a workout, but I only Googled *after* completing it, to see who Jet Li might be. I note that MAS could not find an easy clue for that one in the Tuesdayish version.

I salved all of the top except the JETLI part quickly. It did not take *too* much thought to write in HANDBEATEN. I always hand-beat egg whites and whipping cream. That and LOTTOS gave me LOANS, and I planned to add NOINTEREST, but waited for the crosses, which never came. So I went to the bottom, guessed PLEASESIR, wrote in "paper" before SHIATSU and ANTHers gave me PRINT instead, and stared for a long time at the quad stack. ITALIANICE and TRESPASSER broke the logjam. Though I did think "counter intelligence" deserved its question mark. Kind of depends on where you shop. Where I live, the old pros at Penney's are often more aware than the young helper's at Macy's.

Ended up deciding that PAT was the only possible choice for 17A, which led me to the inscrutable Mr. Li.

Billy C 12:49 PM  

@Mr. Nazi, sir--

Your reference to the grammar journal has its editor ending his discussion of this issue with : Sentences like "I'm taller than he." sound too formal in a casual setting.

Surely you'll agree that we're in a casual setting.

Point, set, and match to Billy. ;-)

pfb 1:07 PM  

I found this challenging but ultimately doable. I certainly did not feel it was easy. Some clever cluing and misdirections.

GILL I. 1:18 PM  

@grammar nazi, ...or is it nazi grammar? (I always forget) If you would take that talent of your's one step further and add more humour to you're post's, I might look forward to reading you.
@Billy C on the other hand, is like the proverbial turd on a birthday cake.
@Ludy....I too was frantic when I lost a beautiful gold bracelet my husband gave me. Guess where I found it? In the garbage can... sitting right on top. Hope you find it!

Noam D. Elkies 1:23 PM  

You forgot "4. the white squares form a connected piece". To be fair each of these rules is broken on occasion. Anyway the New Yorker cartoon looks like a cryptic grid (though it's not quite that either), which makes sense because a lot of "crypt" stuff is classified. The "mystery" one would have been perfectly legitimate, den with the customary symmetry, except for the stray block in the east.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:25 PM  

16x15 off-square puz, due to center quad stack. Soo, even with 71 words, the grid still has a lot of breathin room. Breathin room = tough space to fill, and later to solve.

This SatPuz must have been relatively easy, as old M&A was able to use the Brute Force solvin technique: fill in the top third (plus CHAN, due to a schlock flick crossref), then fill in the middle, then fill in the bottom. Then spike the cinnamon roll.

Had a pleasin experience throughout. Very few sputters or snags, along the way. Luv-ed the ? clues. Always gravitate to tryin those out first in each area, becuz I seem to think weird like them. Agree with @63* on the CARANTENNA clue: Wow.

@BobK: I spelled MADEIRA balls-on correct, with hardly any crosses. Think I had the M & I. Total dumb luck. Did offer up CASCo for a first volley, tho, down low. I blame a certain @Kid.

Real Embarrassed to admit I wrote in SONNETTERS. Wrong again, M&A breath. But I was all over CARANT????, no problemo. And yet served up ONEAT as ONEof, in round one (at). Win some, lose some.

Thanx, MAS (no &'s).


** gruntz **

Lewis 1:30 PM  

Factoid: Before it was the ARC de Triomphe, the space there was almost dedicated to a giant elephant. Pre-Napolean, French architect Charles Ribart proposed a three-level, elephant-shaped building that would be entered via a spiral staircase that led up into the elephant's gut. Ribart was all set to start building, but the French government ended up denying his request to erect the giant pachyderm.

Quotoid: "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." -- Anais NIN

Chim cham 1:49 PM  

Personal fave NIN just evaded my brain today making me overlook HArDBEATEN. Turned a 30-35min solve with no lookups into a 60min second-guess-fest of looking up everything I'd already entered. Finally came here for the cheat finish. Oh, the shame. Fun puzzle, though!

Wood 1:57 PM  

Got totally stuck on 40-across... somehow could NOT parse it even with only 3 squares blank; B_ATINGA_EATRE_T. Two of the blanks from obscure geographical clues, and the third from the (brilliant) ONE_T. Was desperately trying... BOAT IN GATE AT REST??? Wound up having to reveal, so DNF. But other than that a satisfyingly crunchy Saturday solve.

Arlene 2:04 PM  

Finishing a Saturday in any way possible (except peeking at the answer grid) is still a triumph for me. And so I'm a happy camper today - and figured (correctly) that whole bunches of you probably found this easy.

Z 2:42 PM  




Nazi (see definition 1.1)


As I have quoted before, language has an ineluctable desire to change. Nevertheless, if one is going to pose as a pedant one ought to be especially perspicacious about one's usage, a perspicacious pedant pose (please don't spit).

Hopefully I have never reviled anyone here, though I do exercise my option to ignore you if your comments are mean or continuously irrelevant.

PuzzleCraig 3:03 PM  

I was actually stunned to see Rex refer to this puzzle as easy. It was readily my worst Saturday puzzle in a year. I just couldn't get a toehold anywhere. Then again, maybe I tried solving it too late at night.

Steve M 3:23 PM  

Medium rare

Ludyjynn 4:04 PM  

I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. Just found my beautiful bracelet outside on the ground next to bird feeders, where it got mixed in w/ seeds/hulls and only showed itself to me on my third pass. @Lewis, your wonderful NIN quotoid applies here!

Between that and finishing this puzz., a good day!

foxaroni 4:08 PM  

It was undoable for me. I got the upper right (Maine) corner, handbeaten (funny, that), and Madeira. At that point, I was done.

Anyone remember The Limelighters' song, "Have

foxaroni 4:10 PM  

Some Madeira, My Dear?" Heck, does anyone remember The Limelighters, period?

Sorry for the interrupted post.

Leapfinger 4:15 PM  

Not easy, nor even medium, but definitely within the borders of Saturday-possible. Am LOATH to call any part of it RUED, but I did do the ape/AXE, the kebab/SATAY, the Little one/UNS, the CASCo and [being true to myself] went with the JDATE. Couldn't see the LOTTOS for the LOTTery. I CAN'T, E'EN now, forgive that [Dead-tree] wasn't PAPER (hi there, DeadTreeSolver!) Although I knew du Barry was a Lady and du Maurier was a DAME, my first impulse was to go with 'Dead'. Oh well, the ANTHER'S blowing in the wind.

Leader for a time? I could not get away from 'Once upon...'

Noticed that yesterdays' NATE the Great returns today to ALTER NATE ROUTES.

Still wondering whether BEATING A RETREAT is the same as REBEATING A TREAT but I hereby promise not to REBEAT myself.

The old songs spelled rescue for me again with "Have Some MADEIRA, M'dear".
However, it seems the NO-INTEREST LOAN MADE IRA Wrath in some cases. For those who didn't care for the NO_INTEREST LOAN, there may be more value in the NO_INTEREST kOAN. In this one, Nansen cuts the cat in two... Its' possible that he turns a REX into REXES.

@Alias, I heard that ITALIA NICE was quite the Übermensch; as I'm sure you've heard, NIEtzsche was Peachy.

MA-S, this was SERIously good. PLEASE SIR, can I have Some More?

weingolb 5:19 PM  

Relatively new to these puzzles. I tend to look forward to Saturday to learn a lot — today is no exception (IRIS, REXES, EDATE... though I'm not sure I want to learn the word EDATE).

I get the sense that in order to make Saturday cluing more difficult, puzzlers also have to unlearn some things while they are learning new words, which seems like a cheat to me. I am alone here or did no one else buy "Checks for letters"? Shouldn't it be "Checks from letters" or "Checks for letting" to actually have RENTS make sense? Obviously that prevents the clue from misleadingly suggesting the act of looking for new mail.

"Firm cheese" and "Leader for a time" are both clues I hope to forget! (As another comment mentioned ONEAd makes more sense than ONEAT. Great work anonymous at 10.41am!)

Ellen S 5:48 PM  

Hey, @foxaroni, I remember the Limelighters, but I only ever heard Have Some Madeira M'Dear done by Michael Flanders & Donald Swan. But I see YouTube has the Limelighters doing it as well.

@Gill and @Ludy, I'm glad to hear the jewelry is safe.

Hartley70 6:14 PM  

I'm with @Leapy. More MAS, more MAS, please and por favor!

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

More MAS in the pipeline!

Thanks for the comments folks!


Ludyjynn 7:01 PM  

@Gill, at one point in my bracelet search, I feared I might have lost it down the in-sink-er-a-tor. Fortunately not! So your garbage can incident doesn't surprise me. Close, scary call, though, esp. since your bracelet was from a loved one.

Thanks for your and @Ellen's input.

Robso 8:31 PM  

Dear MAS--I thought this was a great puzzle. It took me about an hour, but it all came. Thanks.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:48 PM  

@weingolb -- Consider the words "employer" and "employee." The "letter" is the one who owns the property and rents it out; the "lettee" is the one who pays for use of the property. Hence, RENTS are checks paid to the "letter," or "Checks for letters."

Unknown 9:19 AM  

Hello everyone, My name is Morgan Jackson, a citizen of USA; am 42 years of age..we got married for more than 11 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Brave for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 1 week my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still live me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that he Dr Brave casted on him that make him come back to me today,me and my family are now happy again today. thank you Dr Brave for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact Dr Brave ,if you need his help you can contact him through his private mail: bravespellcaster@gmail.com or you can contact him through his website http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/ and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.

Unknown 12:06 AM  

Hello everyone, My name is Morgan Jackson, a citizen of UK, am 42 years of age..we got married for more than 11 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Brave for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 1 week my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still live me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that he Dr Brave casted on him that make him come back to me today,me and my family are now happy again today. thank you Dr Brave for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact Dr Brave ,if you need his help you can contact him through his private mail: bravespellcaster@gmail.com or you can contact him through his website http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/ and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.

spacecraft 11:03 AM  

OK, finally, a puzzle that belongs on its published weekday. This was Saturday-tough, never mind the rating at the top. I had to guess at a lot of this; luckily mostly educated guesses, and it turned out right.

There must be 150 ways to clue PAT: "Opportune" has got to be the 151st. Also, "Cops" is not NABS. Cops nab. Have you ever heard of anyone nabbing a plea? These two clues are far enough "off" to induce the yellow hankie.

It's a wonder I finished this ATALL with clues like that and obscurities like SERI ( although "Golfer Pak" would have gotten me there) and SATAY. And only the single-letter writeover: I knew the eggs and rugs were BEATEN, but I first thought of HArD. Checking the across I had rIN, but since the clue referred to a writer rather than "Precursor to a pair of Tins," I figured it had to be our old xword buddy Anais NIN, thus HANDBEATEN. Of course. Duh.

Just one more thing (sorry, guys, I've been watching reruns of "Columbo" on METV): WOE is a POG?? That was a collectible?? Ne. Vah. Hoidofit.

I'll conclude this period piece by grading the puzzle on its merits, the flags cancelling out the I-thought-I'd-never-solve-it-but-did factor. Crutchy and uninspiring gridspanners, but some toothy fill that was not too bad, considering. Let's call it a B.

663, I see a pattern here: 9,8,7,6...uh-oh.

spacecraft 11:05 AM  

P.S. 51 down: OFL going bald???

rondo 11:42 AM  

Yes, I remember “Have Another Madeira, M’dear”, (Tony Randall recited it to Johnny Carson) but I still spelled it MADieRA to gum up the north for a while. SE corner last to fall with the X in the plural of OFL the last square filled. And it wasn’t easy for me, medium to challenging I’d say.

My wife and I met via an EDATE service, back when it was more uncool, I think. You’d get “that look” if you told someone how you met. Almost a decade later we are both very happy. So there.

Robert Stack as ELIOTNESS, classic TV.

I just brought up Edna St. VM the other day as a jazz age yeah baby, and here she appears!

A toughish puz for me, but liked it just fine.

3930 OK

Burma Shave 11:57 AM  


The adult store SALESASSISTANTS must LOATH me as a cretin,


DMG 2:17 PM  

Well, I thought I had mastered (torturously solved) this one successfully, only to come here to learn my eggs should not have been HArDBEATEN. Wondered at the time who rIN was, but shrugged it off. At least I didn't put in my first choice of Poe! Actually I'm pleased to have done as well asI did. First pass through left me only with an "s" or two, a lonely SHIATSU and wonderment that I knew that word. Hardest for me was giving up ONEAd, it just seemed so clever. Did learn here why ONEAT worked! Something new everyday.

But not a winning hand! 148

rain forest 6:44 PM  

Late to the party and didn't get to the puzzle until this afternoon.

I'd say it's medium-challenging, and the stacks went down pretty quickly.

@Spacey - POGs are milkcaps from Hawaii (originally) that kids played some kind of game with in the '90s.

Couldn't get JETLI until CHAN appeared at the bottom.

Liked it a lot.

leftcoastTAM 4:18 AM  

RUED the clues and LOATHed the ANTHERS.

The frumious Bandersnatch 2:10 AM  

Need a mnemonic?: BRuNei is on the island of BoRNeo, (sharing it with with Malaysia and Indonesia.)

Dr Purva Pius 5:36 PM  

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Priyatamil 12:20 AM  

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