Model in a science class / SAT 4-18-15 / Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu who found sailing route around Africa / Graham old Kellogg's cereal / Foreign state with capital Panaji / Emperor crowned in 962 / Alternative to Beauvais-Tillé / Boogie Nights persona played by Mark Wahlberg / Like spectacled bear / Metal band with 1994 #1 album Far Beyond Driven / Hawaii Five-O imperative / Big Japanese chip maker

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Constructor: Damon J. Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ORRERY (46D: Model in a science class) —
  1. a mechanical model of the solar system, or of just the sun, earth, and moon, used to represent their relative positions and motions. (google)
• • •

This puzzle conveniently illustrates the point I made yesterday about How To Build A Themeless Grid. Actually, you can build them all kinds of ways, but if you build them in a way that leaves you with tons of short fill, your end result will likely be less than stunning. Yesterday's went with a half-dozen 15s and not much else in the 6+-letter length category, resulting in some decent 15s (maybe a 2/3 "hit" rate), and then a whole lot of dreck and otherwise forgettable stuff. Today's grid makes for a nice comparison because it's got some of the same issues, just less so. Highly segmented (I always think of these as "bullet-ridden") grid, more 3-to-5-letter answers than you'd really like to see in a themeless, and (thus) some yucky fill issues (I won't list them all—you can see for yourself). But, BUT, the grid is *rife* with answers in the 7-to-12-letter range, i.e. more meaty fill that allows for more wide-ranging, eye-popping, grabby answers. Virtually every 7+-letter answer is at least good, and OKELY-DOKELY, DIRK DIGGLER, BELIEVE YOU ME, SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN, HOW NICE, OH COME NOW … all these are really, really nice. THE CLASH symmetrical with the TEA PARTY! That's what you call running the cultural gamut. Anyway, you can see (I hope) how shifting the grid toward an emphasis on more marquee fill of varying lengths make for a more complex and satisfying themeless puzzle.

I had a little trouble getting started there in the NW. I think I didn't get much of anywhere until I found the NED Flanders clue, and then guessed FIREPLACE / ASH. It was FIREPLACE / LOG, of course—why would use a poker on ash? But FIREPLACE got me traction. Here's my grid early on in the solve (note the TIMERS mistake at 2D: Meet people—not sure why I was so confident, though, to my minimal credit, I interpreted "meet" correctly):

With NED in place, OKELY-DOKELY was a gimme (though spelling it wasn't), and I had a pretty fast solve thereafter. Had ESSE for ETRE, TLR for TSR (it's been decades, now, of seeing that damned D&D clue; you'd think I'd have TSR down pat). I had Louise RAINER starring in the "Phantom Lady" instead of Claude RAINES … oh, but it looks like that's not how you spell Claude Rains (also not how you spell Luise Rainer, btw). Looks like the RAINES in question is Ella RAINES, Whoever That Is. Dodged a bullet there, I guess. Finished with ORRERY, a word I've seen often enough, but never quite remember. Luckily, crosses didn't let me down.

Happy Record Store Day!
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. I wonder if anyone will go with DARK DIGGLER. I recently watched "Singin' in the Rain" and *still* couldn't have told you there was a LINA in it.

    [Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


    jae 12:12 AM  

    Medium for me, although there was a stretch in the middle when I wasn't sure I'd finish.   Got saved by DIRK DIGGLER and ELEANOR RIGBY.  

    Knew THE CLASH, did not know PANTERA. 

    Knew ECKHART, did not know LINA.

    Same problems as Rex with ORRERY and spelling OKELY.

    An excellent  Sat.  Crunchy and loaded with zip!  The Beatles, The Simpsons, Boogie Nights, OEDIPUS, Five O...a fine themeless debut.

    Zeke 12:13 AM  

    Big fat DNF for me. At one point I had D__K_IGGLER for 24D, and I simply refused to enter anything but DICKWIGGLER.

    Moly Shu 12:13 AM  

    Only came here for the inevitable CLASH video. Thanks for not disappointing, @Rex. I liked the puzzle, thought it was very difficult

    Whirred Whacks 12:14 AM  

    Got to drop "acid" twice this week. @Barany will like that!

    DIDOK reminded me of our good buddy DOOK.

    Favorite clues:
    "Checker piece, e.g." for OLDIE, and "The out crowd?" for GAYS.

    Best puzzle of the week? Bruce Haight's EIGHT-letter gem!

    Moly Shu 12:27 AM  

    @Zeke, now that's a porn name!

    retired_chemist 12:32 AM  

    DNF. HTG big time. Too much that was way out of my culture range.

    AliasZ 1:04 AM  

    I rarely dislike a puzzle as much as I did this one, so I'll keep it short.

    ARY. ALAR. ANAL. NOBALL. DIDOK (what DOOK used to be). TSR. OLEO. OTTOI. OTO. UTE. OOP. All this poop, and more, in a themeless? EKE!

    Oh, how I crave a clean, wide-open grid not pockmarked by random black squares, containing less junk fill and fewer pop-culture and cartoon character references.

    Well, maybe next week.

    John Child 1:47 AM  

    So interesting to see the wide mix of reaction from the early posters. I loved this puzzle - definitely POW in my opinion. A little harder than typical Saturday based on time, but a little easier than yesterday's puzzle, which was off-the-chart hard for me and a DNF because I had to cheat to fill the grid.

    The low point was surely OTO and UTE crossing OTTO I. It looks like the partial OR FOE instead of OTTO I with BROWN below it would work. But the rest of the puzzle was worth it for me, so no foul in the SW.

    JMellor 2:02 AM  

    This poster was tailor-made for me. The Clash is my favorite band. The Simpsons is my favorite show. I also like Pantera, Aaron Eckhart, Boogie Nights, and knew the Eleanor Rigby clue as a piece of Beatles trivia (it's the only one of their songs to which the clue applies). I suppose I cannot judge this objectively because it is so in my wheelhouse, but I was able to tear through it in no time at all, so two big thumbs up from me.

    Anonymous 2:32 AM  

    I certainly agree with the positive review of this one, as there were a lot of really good clues and answers, almost all of which fell into my wheelhouse. But usually on a Saturday puzzle, I expect to spend some time. On this one, I started it and was suddenly done. No sense of accomplishment I normally feel for a Saturday puzzle.


    Thomaso808 3:10 AM  

    I liked this puzzle. It illustrated the evolution of OK. At first I thought the right spelling of 3D should be based on the word okay, which would lead to OKaYLYDO..., but then I realized that the first evolution of OK was okeydokey so I finally arrived at the most evolved OKEYLYDOKELY.

    Evil Doug overload here with ANAL, DIRKDIGGLER, NOBALL, GAYS.

    I taught high school physics for several years, but ORRERY was a new one for me. PANTERA and THECLASH I knew, probably because I taught high school for a few years.

    Got stuck on oCKHART/oTRE for a while because otre seemed right. Eventually got the E.

    Anonymous 4:38 AM  

    How is rake a bunker implement?

    Thomaso808 5:17 AM  

    On a golf course every sand trap, or bunker, has a rake lying next to it.

    GILL I. 5:33 AM  

    I want to thumb a ride with @AliasZ...don't even care where we're going.
    OOF...what an unpleasant climb - and I wore the wrong shoes! About 21 proper names and I only knew 2 (DIAS and LINA) LINA because I saw "Singin in the Rain" about a million times... and DIAS because, well, because I read it somewhere.
    I will admit to liking the long answers. My kids loved the Simpsons and I knew NED's OKELY DOKELY because that was about the only thing he said. ORREARY? Is that the old lady who had a hot time in the old town?
    CRACKOS just about says it for me.....

    Loren Muse Smith 8:03 AM  

    I didn't get a chance to congratulate Mary Lou on her themeless debut yesterday. Yay! You're on your way to hitting for the cycle!

    I'm with @Moly, @John Child, @Zeke, and @retired_chemist – today's was one of the hardest Saturdays I can remember. I finished, but barely. Early on, I had way less than a third filled and almost just threw in the towel. In order to scramble and rationalize, I went and counted something like 23 proper nouns that I hadn't gotten yet. Waaayyyy out of my wheelhouse – DIRK DIGGLER, NED and his saying, ECKHART, PANTERA, LINA, CRACKOS… But the fact that I pulled off the finish is proof for me that the crosses were fairly fair.

    Some early wrong thoughts:
    "Ize" for the "custom" end, giving me a "_ ize" for my "meet people" verb. Right.
    "Bottom" for VULGAR
    "Sublime" for HOW NICE because of a wrong "Amex."
    "Was ok" before DID OK
    "Fedex" before E FILE
    Focused on the wording of the clue "all right" as opposed to "alright" and wouldn't accept any kind of OK…

    I erased LAP and put in "toy" for a while. I have never met any Maltese I would want on my lap. Those are some grumpy, mean dogs. I've met several unapproachable Maltese, but the two I knew the best were Killer and Mr. Cool – both males, so maybe their surliness was a result of the ridiculous bows my aunt Charlotte always put on their heads. Gimme a 185lb Newfie on my lap any day.

    And the two most massive wrong thinkings were "galaxy," again, off that "Amex" and "Ice cream…" instead of ICE COLD…

    For me, "put on" doesn't really mean WORE until I'm out the door. Lots of times, the stuff I "put on" is all over the floor and bed, eschewed for the final outfit I WORE. Mercifully, no one has ever helpfully announced to the entire party that my black belt doesn't work with my brown shoes. Thank. God. These people wisely keep their proper apparel rules to themselves and let me enjoy myself. It's a party, not a fashion show.

    I like clues like the ones for BABYSIT and RACERS, but there again, I'm a linguist, so I like ambiguity more than most people.

    However, my field was theoretical linguistics, so I had a dumb "etynym" before ETYMON. Sheesh, we have synonym, homonym, antonym, heteronym, eponym, acronym, pseudonym, retronym (anymore out there?)… C'mon! ETYMON sounds like patois. Enough already, mon!

    So, Damon, this is your themeless debut, too? Nice job – for me seemingly impossible at first, but I managed to lurch, stumble, and then crawl my way to the end.

    George Barany 8:07 AM  

    What a range of comments and reactions! Over at, @Jeff Chen gives this puzzle by @Damon Gulczynski (15 letters, BTW) his Puzzle of the Week award, and the constructor himself plugs a baseball trivia book that he recently authored. Pleased with myself for recalling CHET Lemon without having to google, and for filling in INNING without any hesitation, I ordered the book.

    On the other hand, I was kicking myself for failing to remember LINA Lamont, the quintessential dumb blonde played by Jean Hagen in one of my all-time favorite movies. The Donald O'Connor character says (of her): "Lina. She can't act, she can't sing, she can't dance. A triple threat. " She herself delivers this zinger: "What do they think I am? Dumb or something? Why, I make more money than - than - than Calvin Coolidge! Put together!"

    Other missteps: have never in a long career as a scientist/educator heard ORRERY; thought ICE_COLD_LEMONADE was just as reasonable as BEVERAGE; no clue on CRACKOS; and, sorry to say, the heyday of PANTERA overlapped with a period of my life when I did not listen to rock (I was able to suss out THE_CLASH, though, without ever having heard them). Even words that I got right, like OOP, ARY, IDA, DIAS, and SAY_NAY, among others, were filled in with no small measure of trepidation. As others have noted, the southwest corner was not the strong point of the puzzle, but figuring out SOUNDS_LIKE_A_PLAN and being up on Lerner's collaborator in musicals (not just "Gigi," but also "Brigadoon," "Camelot," "My Fair Lady," etc.) made up for OTTO_I and side-by-side three-letter native Americans.

    Cute clues for OLDIE, RAKE, ANAL, GAYS, and yes, LSD (recall that I panned the clue used just a few days ago when this psychedelic drug also appeared in the fill). Nice to see ELEANOR_RIGBY, a kind of echo to the Beatles-themed puzzle that started this week, and with a fascinating piece of trivia in the clue.

    Last, allow me to recommend this wonderful article by @Oliver Roeder, which provides an exciting, data-driven recap of the recently concluded ACPT.

    Nancy Klein 8:26 AM  

    Far too many proper names. I always complete a puzzle, no matter how much I hate it, even if it means googling to get it done. So I did, twice, to be done with this one.
    As a commenter said with regard to several earlier puzzles, a trivia test does not make a good crossword puzzle.

    jberg 8:37 AM  

    DNF-- Never saw EKE as a possibility, didn't think to run the alphabet on E_E/DIDO_. Maybe because I was so annoyed by FIREPLACE LOG. I mean, who says that? "Give that FIREPLACE LOG another poke!" Or "Better put another FIREPLACE LOG on the fire."

    I didn't mind the short fill -- putting UTE next to OTO is something of an achievement, actually -- but the obscurity of the cluing did get me. "Singin' in the Rain," OK, but "Phantom Lady?" Getting an Indian state from its capital? Beauvais-Tille? (Sorry, can't type the accent.) ETYMON? And while it's not obscure, it took me a long time to see NED Flanders. I knew him, but not Rod and Todd. If I'd watched a little more Simpsons I would have known who said 3D, so that one's on me.

    I got all those eventually, but the struggle left me too fatigued to see EKE.

    I did like the clue for OOP -- much better than some reference to object-oriented programming!

    DJG 8:51 AM  

    Good puzzle all-around -- right in my wheelhouse!

    I heard the constructor also thinks the bad short fill was a bit too abundant, and if he made the puzzle today he would probably try to get rid of some of it.

    I also heard he wrote a funny, informative book about baseball names that's available at Amazon.

    Lastly, ORRERY, WTF?

    Z 9:13 AM  

    This puzzle was half wheelhouse, half outhouse, so feel free to blame sour grapes for my reaction. There is a lot to like here, so the my overall take is this is a fine Saturday. Puzzle of the Week, though? Uh, no. Let's take a look at northern Cali. ECKHART/THE CLASH/RAINES/TSR/I ROBOT. Cramming that much pop culture into such a small section is not good. Sure, we have a wide variety of era and media, but when THE CLASH is the most timeless of five pop references the cumulative effect is excessive trivial trivia (I say this despite loving THE CLASH and I, ROBOT). Then there is the SW. A triple triple of SOL/OTO/UTE? UGH. And what justifies the triple UGH? OTTO I and LOEWE. UGH UGH. No, there are too many demerits to rave about this puzzle.

    Worst self-imposed problem - ICE COLD lEmonAdE. Just enough right to make it really hard to yank out.

    Teedmn 9:21 AM  

    This one started out hard for me, with tumbleweeds rolling through the white space. But like @jae, DIRK DIGGLER (I don't want to know what that says about me!) and ELEANOR RIGBY were gimmes and that gave me all the traction I needed.

    Someone here, re: Monday's puzzle, mentioned that SHE'S LEAVING HOME also had no Beatles playing instruments on it, but the liner notes on my 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' don't mention it (though somewhat interesting trivia included in the notes mentions that Mae West didn't want her image on the cover because she didn't think she should be associated with a Lonely Hearts Club but a personal letter from the Fab Four changed her mind.)

    Nice themeless debut, Mr. Gulczynski, and some nice misdirects today. "Bunker implement" had me thinking of Archie, or war, but not golf. "Checker piece" led me astray. "Quick move" might have been deke and I couldn't get "Be there" (as in "be there, Aloha") to fit in 45D. But I DIDOK!

    Happy Saturday, all y'all.

    Nancy 9:32 AM  

    The most beautiful day of the year is streaming through my windows, and here I am, wrestling with this irritatingly awful puzzle, which I want to throw across the room. Every time I think I have opened up a foothold, some heavy metal band or obscure cartoon name slams it thuddingly in my face. Meanwhile, it's the first day of the new tennis season AND I AM NOT GOING TO SIT HERE STRUGGLING WITH THIS POP CULTURE NIGHTMARE. (But I might take this to the park with me and wrestle with it some more there.) If I solve it, you'll hear from me much later in the day or evening. If not, I'll come back just to see how the rest of you fared. (I haven't looked at the answers or read any of your comments yet.) Bye.

    Dorothy Biggs 9:47 AM  

    I rarely really like a puzzle, but i really liked this one.

    Lots of music (THECLASH, ELEANORRIGBY, LINA from a musical, PANTERA, LOEWE, and even CABO, which reminded me of Sammy Hagar).

    My dad used to say BELIEVEYOUME all the time.

    I had UTE where OTO should be for a while...I get my basin and plains peoples mixed up.

    Just a bit of a jab at Rex, but seriously, how can you watch "Singin in the Rain" just recently and not know about LINA? She is a huge plot point, not to mention a standout cartoony character that is hard to miss. It would be a little like watching Star Wars and missing a character named Han Solo.

    ANAL. Will knows that this means, um, anal, right? Like having to do with the anus? Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's a fixation with poo that comes out of your butt. I know it's a cute way to point out someone's fastidious fixation with cleanliness, but I'm a little surprised this word gets used so often (seems like I've seen it recently in a NYT puzzle). I personally have no problem with the word, but I know there has been some push back lately with some of the more "crass" words in these puzzles.

    Ludyjynn 10:07 AM  

    @MathGuy, I keep thinking about Charleston and all the wonderful things to do there...the historic Charleston City Market is a hive of activity for artisans and craftspeople. You must buy a sweetgrass basket there to take home as the quintessential souvenir. Be very selective as some of them are crudely woven by inexperienced folks. The tighter the weave and smaller the knots, the higher the quality. Prices are negotiable. You will have several vendors' stalls to choose from. Also, at the Market you will find baked goods. My favorite is the benne wafer cookies, a local specialty. They let you sample the goods, so take advantage before buying!

    Another great market is the Farmers' Market, held on Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm at Marion Square between King and Meeting St. in the heart of the historic area. Food, arts and crafts, entertainment, people watching, you name it, it's there. Low key and friendly, as well.

    Have fun. Now to the puzzle.

    Lindsay 10:20 AM  


    I had DaRK nIGGLER crossing LaNA and rEn, rEn also crossing PAr TERA. Thought is was French.

    Lindsay 10:21 AM  

    Sorry for the typo. Thought IT was French.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:27 AM  

    I was hating this puzzle. I was cursing this puzzle. I was ready to quit trying to guess at all of the to me totally unknown rock bands, songs, actors, characters, books, casual sayings, etc.

    Then I had a phone call (not related to the puzzle.)

    I took another look at the puzzle, changed ICE COLD LEMONADE to ICE COLD BEVERAGE and ESSE to ETRE, recognized some patterns in the letters I had, and DID OK, finished correctly in Medium time.

    Not such a bad puzzle after all!

    mac 10:42 AM  

    Tough for me, DNF.....

    In hindsight I should have stuck with it longer, I could have figured out some of those clues.

    Yes, @Nancy, what a gorgeous day!

    Norm 10:42 AM  

    This was a trivia contest, not a crossword puzzle. Hated it.

    RnRGhost57 11:06 AM  

    Too many names and too much pop culture even though much of it stuff I'm familiar with.

    kitshef 11:11 AM  

    Some random thoughts on solving methods and the role of luck.

    My 'ideal' solve is to get 1A, then get all down clues that cross 1A, than get all across clues that cross any solved down clue, then get any down clues that cross any solved across clue, etc. A 'perfect' solve for me would mean never skipping. If I get stuck, my default re-start is to skip to the SE and try for the last across clue, and work up.

    Often the resulting order of solve profoundly affects my feelings about the puzzle. On Monday, the 8-letter puzzle, by chance I did not hit the revealer untilk I was 80% done, so for me that was way too difficult for a Monday and I had a lot of skips. Once I hit the revealer, and my range of letters became limited, it became Monday easy.

    So on Monday, hitting the revealer late meant slogging through a puzzling difficult and uninspired grid, then a smooth coast to the finish.

    On Thursday, the backwards puzzle, I happened to hit the revealer very early on. Had I not, my system of jumping to the SE would have made for an impossible task. Also, with fifteen rows there could not be a 'bottom half' ... would the middle row be considered 'top' or 'bottom'. Either way I was prepared to be outraged. When I realized the nature of that middle row, there was moment of pure delight, of the kind that makes puzzling worthwhile, even if you have to put up with the occasional uninspired slog (see Tuesday).

    Had I happened to hit the revealer earlier on Monday, I think I stil would have thought it to be sub-par, but would not have had the 'way too hard for Monday' reaction. Had I happened to hit the revealer later on Thursday, I might have had a half-empty DNF on my hands.

    I guess my point here is when evaluating a puzzle, try to take into account how it might work for someone with a different solving style, or if the luck of solve order had been a bit different.

    Finally, a question. People often refer to the puzzle title. Am I correct that titles only appear in onlive version, except for Sunday? I'm a paper solver and don't ever recall seeing a Weekday title.

    old timer 11:15 AM  

    As my pen name suggests, this one was Not. In. My. Wheelhouse. I think maybe I once heard of DIRKDIGGLER, but know nothing about any metal music. The Beatles I do know about, and it was nice to see Miss RIGBY again.

    I did finish it, with a little help from Dr. Google.

    But speaking of the Fab Four, I would love a puzzle with some of the characters in Beatles songs. Here's looking at you, Father Mackenzie! Which one of you is wearing a dress today, Desmond? Molly? "Comment allez-vous?" Michelle!

    Even with help, the puzzle was medium for a Saturday. I did like it, and with all those three-letter words forced by the grid, appreciated the clues for SOL, GOA. LOG and OOP. The reason I did not make Rex's mistake was that the first words I put down were at opposite corners: TROD made me want TRIBAL and RACERS, while ORLY gave me NOBALL, IPSO and SAYNAY.

    I do think it is a pity that a puzzle with BOOKEM has no Dan-o.

    OISK 11:30 AM  

    Not to worry, Nancy, I got the DNF Rex suggested. The name of a movie character crossing the name of a movie character? Not good. And not knowing either, why choose Lina and Dirk over Lana and Dark? Some rock group (the clash??) crossing a product abbreviation (TSR???) OK, guessed right. Pantera? Isn't that a brand of shampoo? (no, Pantene). And to get it I had to guess a cartoon character (Ned) At least I have heard of that Beatle song. Crackos? Another obscure product reference,(Acer is not quite as obscure, but one more brand name) an actor I've never heard of (Eckhart) from something I never watched "Thank you for smoking") I'm afraid that this one is a big "Say nay." I'm astonished that I finished this painful slog with but one error! But "hipper" folks will probably like it. "The clash" of cultures, perhaps...

    Cheerio 11:37 AM  

    I didn't make an effort once I saw how astonishingly much trivia / proper names this had. Not easy for people who don't rely on pure memory so much as working through the language. I enjoyed the word orrery. It's like seeing a new place for the first time - coming across a legitimate word that you have literally never encountered. It is a bit in the gear-head category, but I still liked it.

    Sitting Bull 11:53 AM  

    If something terrible happened and Eliz Warren was elected president, would that mean the bands would have to stop playing 'Hail to the Chief?'

    Z 11:53 AM  

    @kitshef - You make some interesting observations. I don't know that "luck" is the right term. "Solving strategy" and "solving pattern" seem more accurate. I don't think of it as "luck" since those are choices. I'm reminded of a killer puzzle that totally befuddled most solvers, but was extremely easy for "down's only" solvers.

    A couple of things. First, only Sunday NYT puzzles have titles. If you see a "title" during the week it has been assigned/deduced by the solvers. It is usually just a them descriptor. Second, be careful about discussing puzzles from other days of the week. Not everyone solves/reads Rex in order. A **Spoiler Alert** and/or vague language will be welcomed by the disorderly.

    Finally, welcome. I hope to read more from you.

    Lewis 12:11 PM  

    I got ORRERY only because I'm making a puzzle and have been deciding between that and "ornery" (and I went with the latter). I like that there is a word for a solar system model, and it's probably a word I'll remember.

    I did have to Google -- too much out of my wheelhouse. But I respect that different puzzles will appeal to different groups, and today wasn't my turn. With a few Googles, this felt like a typical Saturday -- satisfying to solve. Yet, given my wheelhouse, I enjoyed yesterday's puzzle more. (I also wish I took longer, and, like @LMS, I might have solved this anyway.)

    I like that TEAPARTY is literally on the right, and the clues for RAKE, RACERS, BABYSIT, OLDIE, GAYS, and SOL, and I love the two long downs. Much better than a HOWNICE!

    Master Melvin 12:21 PM  

    As soon as I saw that this one had about 28 proper names, brand names, etc., I knew that Rex would like it and I would hate it.

    DIRK DIGGLER? PANTERA? TRS? NEC? Gimme a break.

    mathguy 12:22 PM  

    I really like hard puzzles. This was one of the hardest for me. An MGI of 60, the highest (hardest) in two months. As Rex predicted, I naticked at DIRK/LINA. Not watching The Simpsons made it all the harder.

    Thanks @George Barany for the sparkling dialogue from Singin' in the Rain.

    Unfair clues are my only problem with hard puzzles. The only one I found today was SAYNAY for "Pass on a proposal." I could only find it in Urban Dictionary and it had a different definition there.

    From the comments here last week, I thought that the Beatles song in the Beatle-themed puzzle was the only one on which they didn't play. I was trying to remember that title. I thought that the downs would bring it back to mind, but ...

    Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful Charleston-Savannah recommendations. Very kind of you.

    GeezerJackYale48 12:31 PM  

    Well, being ancient and never much into rock groups, I had no idea what "The Clash" or "Pantera" was, but I feel pretty smug in saying I worked it all out! Have to admit, though, that I had "Dirk Dingler", having never seen "Boogie Nights" or heard of the state "Goa".

    Clark 12:32 PM  

    I DNF'd big time. I hate that.

    Put one's shoes on — I got stuck thinking the shoes were getting put on me somehow, rather than my shoes getting put on something else. It's easy to do for an angel — I got stuck thinking it was something for an angel to do, rather than something to be done for an angel. That should be a lesson learned. We shall see.

    I had trouble in the beginning, but the nice long DIRK DIGGLER hanging down through 2/3 of the puzzle got me off to a good start.

    nick 12:36 PM  

    @zeke: Oh thank you for that. All the ossified '80s trivia in this puzzle was getting to me and now I can't stop laughing.

    Ludyjynn 12:40 PM  

    What @Z said (first two sentences). And what @Nancy said about this being too gorgeous a day to spend one minute more on this puzzle. SOUNDSLIKEAPLAN to get outside and play in the dirt ASAP.

    You're welcome, @MathGuy.

    Clark 12:50 PM  

    If you like vindaloo then you should know GOA. Goa was a Portuguese colony on the Indian sub-continent. Vindaloo (vinegar and garlic) was part of the catholic Portuguese-Goan cuisine. The catholics ate pork, but if they were serving hindu guests they might have cooked duck vindaloo. Yum!

    Woof 1:01 PM  

    @teedmn @math guy … In addition to Eleanor Rigby and She’s Leaving Home, two other songs the Beatles didn’t play any instruments on are: Goodnight and Revolution #9.

    Anonymous 1:16 PM  

    Profoundly uninteresting. Sorry.

    Carola 1:21 PM  

    Mega-challenging for me because of the thicket of names, titles, acronyms:

    - Knew right off: Cabo, Eckhart, Otto I, Loewe, Oto, Ute, Oop, Alar, Sela

    - Needed some or many crosses to recognize the name: I Robot, Goa, Eleanor Rigby, Remy, Orly, Calvin, Raines, Dirk Diggler, NEC, Acer

    - No idea: Chet, Ned + okely-dokely, TSR, Pantera, The Clash, Lina, Dias.

    The many names, combined with tricky clues (e.g., the "angel" one - loved that) and "could be a lot of things" phrases (refreshment on a hot day) made it difficult to get a toehold and the crucial crosses that would jog my brain about a name.

    Anyway, even though I finished, I SAY NAY to puzzles that rely so heavily on proper nouns. I'd rather grapple with an ETYMON or ORRERY.

    Anoa Bob 1:49 PM  

    Seems like the NYT crossword puzzle editor is singlehandedly trying to keep psychoanalysis alive in the 21st century. Today's clues for ANAL & OEDIPAL might have had some credibility a hundred years ago, but psychiatry & psychology abandoned the Freudian myth by the middle of the last century for the same reason that other myths like phrenology or alchemy have been discarded. They have zero empirical validity.

    No reason not to clue ANAL the same way as, say, DERMAL or CRANIAL, i.e., as relating to anatomy. It refers to the terminus of the digestive system and everyone has one, even those who are less than fastidious. And it would sound so 21st century.

    If one is bound and determined to keep ANAL within the 19th century psychoanalytic framework, at least make it historically accurate and distinguish between ANAL retentive and ANAL expulsive.

    Maybe I'm cranky because of the either-you-know-it-or-not fest of proper nouns in today's grid. Most of them I didn't know.

    Lewis 1:54 PM  

    Factoid: Regarding ELEANOR RIGBY, "Father Mackenzie" was originally "Father McCartney." Paul decided he didn't want to freak out his dad and picked a name out of the phone book instead.

    Quotoid: "Gosh darn it! Am I that pre-diddly-ictable?" -- NED Flanders

    Anonymous 1:58 PM  

    I Robot was my favorite answer, great book and great quote.

    Lot of top notch cluing here, quite polished. Only the clean freak answer was amateurish and shouldn't have been allowed.

    Anonymous 2:21 PM  

    More like Trivial Pursuit than a clever word game....

    Steve J 2:22 PM  

    A tale of two puzzles for me. The bottom two-thirds filled in very quickly, making me think I was on my way to my fastest Saturday. But I bogged down in so many areas in the top third. Had FIREPLACE ash for a while (equally as green-painty as FIREPLACE LOG), misspelled the first half of OKELY DOKELY, even with having the second half correct (it felt to me like it should be spelled okley - I probably got sidetracked by memories of the actual sur/product name Oakley), couldn't see ICE COLD BEVERAGE at all.

    Didn't notice that there were so many proper names and the like in this one, probably because so many were in my wheelhouse (DIRK DIGGLER, Aaron ECKHART, THE CLASH, ELEANOR RIGBY).

    In the end, I liked this quite a bit, but I can easily understand why many did not.

    pmdm 2:39 PM  

    For those for excel in proper names, this puzzle was easy and had better than average fill. For those who don't, this puzzle was hard and had garbage fill. I know the blogmaster enjoys obscure proper names from previous dates comments, but today's praise of today's fill did make me gag. I rarely have such a strong reaction, but I see by many of the comments that others did not respond well to today's plethora of proper names. (Yeah to all of you.) To each his own. As it turns out, I am posting this comment even though I only have it 2/3 done, and I'm not sure if I will have the time to plod on.pmdm

    @ThatMikeScarz 2:53 PM  

    Yeah I dunno. Way too easy for a Saturday. It was cool seeing DirkDiggler, Pantera and the Clash all hangin out togther but; and Im not at all timid, I really HATE seeing anal in an NYT crossword. There's better ways to look relevant and 'with it'

    wreck 3:22 PM  

    It was still Saturday hard for me despite knowing many of the proper nouns. It wasn't exactly a great time, but not terrible either.

    Thomaso808 3:28 PM  

    Maybe to avoid the ANAL controversy. 15A could have been clued as "One of Sharpton, Bundy, or Roker".

    Hartley70 4:16 PM  

    It took me over an hour where I had to walk away for a bit periodically, but I found this ultimately satisfying. I made all the wrong guesses that the previous posters made, but DIRKDIGGLER was a given and I had ELEANORRIGBY when the BY appeared at the end. Hardest to fall was the NE. That little corner drove me nuts. The CLASH and PANTERA are not on my playlist so they were a mystery, but at least I had heard of the CLASH. PANTERA sounds like a sandwich shop. I had never heard of an ORRERY. What a great word! I've been sitting in the sun all afternoon and it feels glorious!

    Fred Romagnolo 4:42 PM  

    @Geo B: Lina said togither, not together. Liked yesterday, not today.

    Mohair Sam 6:04 PM  

    Usually am able to work through cultural references far from my wheelhouse - but not today - huge dnf, almost entirely finished from INNING down, mostly empty from at the top (how could we miss BABYSIT given the IT?).

    Came up empty on the exact cultural reference list that @LMS posted. But she finished, and we did not - proves the puzzle was fair. . . . .

    but tough.

    Anonymous 6:17 PM  

    It should be BOOKIM. They were usually booking one guy. IM. Not EM. This drives me unreasonably crazy.

    Arlene 6:38 PM  

    I took one look at the clues and understood that, for me, this was a "research" puzzle.
    And of all the songs, movies, actresses, etc. - the only one I knew was ELEANOR RIGBY - and the reason was that in 1967, I attended the recording session of Joan Baez singing this Beatles song. Memorable!

    Nancy 6:59 PM  

    So it was lucky I had this awful puzzle with me to wrestle with in the park, because the tennis courts (which were supposed to be open today for the first time since November) were NOT open and there were, consequently, no people to hang our with. So I did better than I had done at home -- actually, by my lights, I did very, very well, -- getting all the NON-proper name answers that had earlier escaped me. ICE COLD BEVERAGE came in, along with FIREPLACE and LOG(I had been looking for an answer involved with poker, the card game, so I had had POT for 12D). I even got THE CLASH on the other side of the puzzle, even though I had no idea who the hell they were.

    But I DNF because I Naticked, of course, on the crossings of all the Eastern proper names: 24D, 30A, 34D, 42A. AND I DON'T BLOODY CARE! @GILL I: May I join that car ride with you and @Alias Z? If it's a nice big car, there are several others who might want to join us -- including everyone who called this a trivia contest rather than a puzzle. And @OISK, how come you did so well? That was the biggest surprise of all. :)

    DJG 7:07 PM  

    I get the feeling people thought this had too many proper nouns. As the constructor, I wrote a quasi-rebuttal to the "too much trivia" criticism at my blog.

    jae 7:47 PM  

    @DLG - Your point about the non-trivia long answers being enough to open this one up is well taken. That was my solving experience. The only Naticky cross that I can see is DIRK/LINA, but hey, it's Saturday, it's supposed to be tough!

    okanaganer 9:51 PM  

    @DLG - I really liked this puzzle. OKELYDOKELY is pretty much my favorite answer of the last few months. One of my neighbors reminds me of NED, but in a good way... he is very straight and virtuous, and has two sons (home-schooled!, but not named Rod and Tod). And he has never said "Hidely-ho, neighbor!"

    Anonymous 10:09 PM  

    Reply to your blog post DG

    I thought your puzzle was trivia laden but finished which I feel says something good about your construction. It's also the case I pulled a couple of answers from I-don't-know-where so I may be biased in my evaluation. Bloggers like Amy and Rex may not be the best measurements for how much trivia is too much because they're pros and have a greater trivia knowledge base than most. If the solving public is telling you something I think you should listen.

    kitshef 10:30 PM  

    Loved it, loved it, loved it. NED, OKELY-DOKELY, I ROBOT, ELEANOR RIGBY, ANAL and OEDIPAL almost together.Loved 'em all.

    Only one issue, OH COME NOW. Oh, come on! would be OK. Oh, come on now! would be OK. I have never heard anyone say Oh, come now. Perhaps it's a regional thing (southern or western?), but I suspect it's - well not exactly green paint. I'll go with 'made up'.

    michael 1:14 AM  

    I had Lana and Dark Diggler.

    Stuck with ice cold lemonade too long.

    Aketi 8:21 AM  

    iDIDnotdoOK. Mostly an outhouse experience.

    Leapfinger 1:06 PM  

    @ AnoaBob, an ANAL man SOUNDS LIKE A cANAL PLAN. Pan it if you can.

    Kinda cute to have OTO abut UTE, but rather LOEWE to cross it into OTO-UTE-OTTOI. Only way to worsen would be to add an AUTO to OTTAWA. SOUNDS LIKE this was A PLAN; am not quite sure it was a SOUND PLAN.

    I've probably read every ROBOTische story of Asimov's, and can dredge up Robby, Elijah Bayley, R.Daneel Olivaw, Trantor, the Mule and neuronic whips, but never in 10 light-years would I have placed that quotation. Originally, I guessed it as "Lolita". I seldon harry a constructor, but I thought way too many clues were similarly obscure.

    I also ran the lemonade stand with Dean Martin, but my most noteworthy wrong'uns were in the NW. I was quite proud of [Meet people] = HOBNOB,which crossed so nicely with [Custom] JOB. Maltese had me first think of cats, and I agree with @Loren about the dogs. My niece's family got one (first pet) which remained unmanageable even after 2 weeks of training camp (for the dog). They finally gave it away. A $700 per pound holy terror.

    Congrats to all who went straight to CALVIN without first thinking of Luther or Hobbes. All y'all have good genes. (BELIEVE YOUME, a famous Scottish philosopher-sceptic also crept into into the grid.)

    I ended with a potential double Natick at 42A, which coulda been Ted, Len, Wes, or a dozen other perms 'n' combs of _E_ format male names. My severe case of hypoSimpsonemia and pop-music stats deficit was offset by the pleasing ETYMON (of Eathens) and ORRERY. I'd read of the latter in some Gothic SF, and temporarily had one in the house.

    Guess I DIDOK as much as I usually DOOK on a Saturday, and am psyched for when a Red Skelton context will ultimately give us DOODOK.

    Time to play outdoors. Enjoy!!

    Leapfinger 1:31 PM  

    "COME NOW" is neither green paint nor made-up. There are more phrases in this language than have cropped up in your experience, O @kitschef.

    Anony 6:17, me too for BOOK 'IM, for the same reason.Tu a raison.

    As has been said by @Nancy, @OISK and Aliae, this was doable despite major deficits in knowledge base, so the puzz must have been fairly constructed and clued. Whether it's similarly enjoyable is a separate issue.

    Personally, given what @Lewis and others have revealed about old NED, the only OKELY I'd support is Annie, and only if she promised to shoot 'im up.

    Anonymous 1:34 PM  

    I knew Rex would like this one -- almost 50% proper nouns and the author's basic assumption that we read the same books as him, watch the same TV shows and movies, and listen to the same music. Yeah, like the world revolves around YOU! THIS IS NOT A CROSSWORD PUZZLE!!!!! ("Dirk Diggler"? How would I know that? Truly depressing that this is what the NYT Crossword is degenerating into.

    Anonymous 4:27 PM  

    It took me this long! And I finished only because my daughter stopped bt and knew dirk digglar. I still don't know him and don't want to. But I knew Lina and Eleanor and Otto. Not bad

    Anonymous 10:02 AM  

    My favorite porn names are Girth Brooks and Laurence of Her Labia

    Anonymous 10:04 AM  

    My favorite porn names are Girth Brooks and Laurence of Her Labia

    spacecraft 12:02 PM  

    Way, way. WAY DNF. What's the diametric opposite of wheelhouse? I do not watch ANY TV cartoons; I never heard of...well, it's easier to list what I DID get. At the top, CABO, OLEO ANAL and (wrong) BACKING. Easy for an angel to do?? Oh, now I see it: easy to do for an angel. I went with the Broadway show financing angle.

    In the west, ETRE, CHET, RELO and ETYMON--yes, even that 75 cent word I knew.

    In the south, the gimmes IROBOT and BOOKEM. Ah, and in the SE, my #1 yeah baby SELA.

    And that's it. 32-down looked like OHCOMEON...but there was a space left over. Never thought of come NOW. Just didn't occur. Poker target? Couldn't get my mind away from my favorite game--but no. Not that kind of poker. And ALL of the rest of this I just simply did not know. Who knew that no Beatle played on E.R.? Not me, and I thought I was a fan. Grade: INC.

    And he says easy-medium. HOWNICE.

    Consolation prize: 369. Take that!

    rondo 12:20 PM  

    ICECOLDlEmonAdE kept me out of the NE forever until I reconsidered why I had nonsense there and that line must be the problem.

    SELA Ward, yeah baby, longtime crush on her.

    First correct entry was THECLASH, and thank god for ELEANORRIGBY or the south would have gone nowhere.

    Quite difficult I'd say.

    924 loses today

    Burma Shave 2:43 PM  


    LINA and I got ONTO some LSD.
    There’s NOBALL better, BELIEVEYOUME
    than when she cries OHCOMENOW, don’t you see?


    rain forest 4:03 PM  

    Challenging, but doable, and so I didable, but the Natick at the Dirk/Lina cross took a guess. I thought LaNA had to be right, but DIRK seemed better than DaRK, so I guessed the I.

    Yes, this was a pop-culture trivia game, but I liked it. I guess if you know the proper names, you like it, and if you don't, you don't.

    @Rondo and @Spacey-let's have a foursome with SELA in the bunker, you RAKEs.

    No numbers, just pictures, two of which were soup, of which I will have some. SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN.

    leftcoastTAM 5:42 PM  

    I finished about half of this puzzle, and felt much like @spacecraft: a little LOEWE. @Burma Shave's VULGAR poetry, as usual, lifted my spirits. @rain forest: NICE going.

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