Form of Japanese syllabic writing / SAT 12-26-15 / Traveling show with number Trading Taps / Mathematician with a hypothesis unproven since 1859 / Dermatological drug withdrawn by Roche in 2009 / Beijing-born star of Kiss of Dragon / His name was lengthened by God at age 99 / Half of rhyming candy duo / Cartoon friend of Dumb Donald Weird Harold / NJ home of ultimate weapon monument / Masonry-supporting rod / Mesoamerican language with 400,000+ speakers /

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Constructor: James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Bernhard RIEMANN (7D: Mathematician with a hypothesis unproven since 1859) —
Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann [ˈʁiːman](September 17, 1826 – July 20, 1866) was an influential German mathematician who made lasting and revolutionary contributions to analysis, number theory, and differential geometry. In the field of real analysis, he is mostly known for the first rigorous formulation of the integral, the Riemann integral, and his work on Fourier series. His contributions to complex analysis include most notably the introduction of Riemann surfaces, breaking new ground in a natural, geometric treatment of complex analysis. His famous 1859 paper on the prime-counting function, containing the original statement of the Riemann hypothesis, is regarded, although it is his only paper in the field, as one of the most influential papers in analytic number theory. Through his pioneering contributions to differential geometry, Riemann laid the foundations of the mathematics of general relativity. (wikipedia)
• • •

Made a key lime pie today, which was a first. It somehow came out perfect. Near perfect, anyway. I'd give it like a 97/100. I tell you what, America's Test Kitchen is not *%$#ing around. Even a talentless baking hack like me can conjure up deliciousness with their recipes. So with two slices down the hatch—and the lingering effects of an earlier Sazerac cocktail still playing in my brain—I sat down to this themeless puzzle. It opened easily, not to mention improbably. Jarring opening 1-2, as I crossed the father of three major world religions with ... a cheesy lad mag.

Crossing a (literal) Patriarch with a magazine that represents the worst of The Patriarchy as my opening gambit was eerily predictive of a very, very male-dominated puzzle. Only woman in this thing (besides the MAXIM pin-ups) is animated (ELSA). But you've got tons of men, as well as BATTLE / ZONE and "Call of Duty" and TROJAN WAR and TAE BO and REBEL heroes and on and on with the violence and militarism. You'd think that we could at least get some gender balance in the *cluing*, but no. Oh well. This grid is still exceptionally well made. No groan-worthy junk. Not much to ooh and aah at at first, but things heated up once I got down to CASUAL SEX. As it were.

Didn't know RUDOLF (3D: Diesel who invented the diesel engine) or "ETHAN Brand," and didn't recognize RIEMANN or Ira LEVIN until I'd gotten almost all of their respective names from crosses. Could not for the life of me understand how THAI was an [Indian alternative]. I think it's a food thing? Seems pretty arbitrary, but that's all I got. Trouble areas were FAT ALBERT (which I haven't seen in almost 40 years) (50A: Cartoon friend of Dumb Donald and Weird Harold) and ZAPOTEC (the "P" gave me fits, as I had REDO instead of REPO at first at 28D: Take back, in a way). Hardest part by far was the SE corner, because "RIVER...."???? I couldn't wrap my head around what "Traveling show" even meant. Haven't thought about ... wait, is "RIVERDANCE" related to Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley? It is! Haven't heard either name since the '90s. Anyway, I had to go into that SE corner blind, getting traction with TAE BO (speaking of the '90s...) (55A: Program with a "Get Ripped" version) x/w SCRIBE (42D: Journalist, informally). After that, it was over pretty quickly.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

On the easy side for me too. Only a few of erasures:  sec before BIT, tOrn before ZONE, and INdeEd before I NEVER. 

Every thing I know about Frozen I know from crosswords and John Travolta's  miscue. It's doubtful that I'll ever see the movie.  That said, we saw ELF for the first time last night and it was SO VERY charming all the way to the Zoey Deschanel-Leon Redbone duet  during the credits. 

I knew FAT ALBERT but he seems creepy these days.

Lots to like here from RIENMANN to CASUAL SEX, nice job!

Doc John 12:14 AM  

Fastest Saturday ever!
And, for the record, a lot of women do TAE BO, too.
Had no idea about CALI but took a guess at the A and the little pencil appeared. It's off to Google Land for me on that one.

Doc John 12:16 AM I suspected, it was a drug reference.

The Ear Worm 12:32 AM  

Easiest Saturday ever for me. Played like a Wed-Thursday. Somehow I just didn't hit any blocks until the SE corner, but finagled that without too much sweat.

Couldn't get FAT ALBERT, and in fact, since I was looking at FATAL__RT, when the BE fell from crosses, I wondered a bit who FATAL BERT was, but figured it was some kind of character in a PSA :)

Otherwise, on the strength of MAXIM and AFFAIR (where is my mind, you wonder?) I managed to stuff in FTDIX, FAUNA, and ILLUMINATI, and it was off to the races. Usually it takes me fifteen to twenty minutes just to get a toe hold in a Saturday, but by the end of twenty it was over.

The only clue that rankled was THAI for INDIAN. Umm c'mon, really? Yeah, you can get take out or delivery of both, but so could you Lebanese or Italian or Pizza or Gyro or ... I'd have been happier with a -- clue. Just as specific and less likely to rankle.

In each section though, for whatever reason, at least one long one just fell CENTERICE, ACCUTANE and WAITAsec (that was quickly remedied when I got to ZAPOTEC) SPECIFIC, CASUALSEX (see prior comment about my mind) WISH, WAVEto and a few others fell with no crosses or a single letter. So yeah, I guess a puzzle is fun when it's so smooth you can chunk right through it, though not sure it rated a Saturday placement.

Vincent Lima 1:02 AM  

Almost want to say Not themeless: TROJANs, CASUALSEX, DIVORCE. Someone may have been talking to a LIFECOACH!

Fairly smooth, though WAITAsec and Tsk instead of TUT slowed me down a bit. Plus silt instead of MOLD. RIEMANN was by crosses only. SINE was a gimme and SOVERY was so very....

jp flanigan 1:17 AM  

Found this pretty easy for a Saturday. Mis-steps on WAITA-sec and ATITSCORE instead of INESSENCE. Enjoyed this a lot.

Karl Bradley 1:33 AM  

Moderately challenging and fun for me.
Happy Holidays all!

George Barany 3:30 AM  

Today's contribution from @James Mulhern, a relatively young constructor whose 17 New York Times published puzzles are almost all themeless, had me at RIEMANN. What a thrill to see a reference to one of the seven remaining unsolved Millenium Problems. Throw in learned punny clues to biology (GENE) and chess (PAWN), some engineering trivia (RUDOLF) and high school trigonometry (SINE), and it seemed like this puzzle could well be ACED.

Yesterday, we had Karl, today Groucho MARX, who was well known for his CIGARS. Butt is there a subtheme here: CASUAL_SEX, AFFAIR, DIVORCE? Not to mention MAXIM, which went in and out and back in several times as I struggled with the relatively isolated northwest corner.

And is it just me, or have we been seeing way too many "Frozen" clues? Bring back opera, SPECIFICally, Lohengrin's bride ELSA [link is to one of the most recognizable melodies of all time]. How did that marriage work out?

The puzzle had SKATERS on thin CENTER_ICE with FAT_ALBERT, created and voiced by he who must no longer be named in puzzledom [see above two paragraphs, and click here if you're unsure of my drift].

Yesterday's CHRISTMAS_BIRTHDAY is followed by today's special day for another of my friends, one whose name all serious readers of this blog will recognize. We created this tribute puzzle a year ago, but it is in the nature of annual occasions that it still works today. Hope you like it!

Charles Flaster 4:35 AM  

Agree with Rex again except my delay was in the NW with two major write overs:
sEeS->REFS (was thinking poker) and
Liked cluing for ACED and GENE.
The fill was very appropriate here today although we have had the easiest Friday/Saturday in recent memory.
I recall studying the Riemann Integral in 1965!
Rex-- Have you ever baked an Important Lime Pie?
Thanks JM

DBlock 6:50 AM  

Easy Saturday
Could someone please explain 44Across, city famous for bad traffic?
I got it from the crosses but somehow feel like I'm missing the joke or pun or whatever got it a ? in the clue

Geometricus 7:10 AM  

My best time ever for a that because I'm a male and a math nerd? I love reading about the RIEMANN hypothesis because I am a prime number geek. I've even got the Prime97 program running in the background on two of my computers trying to find new undiscovered Mersenne primes (which are one less than a power of 2). MERSENNE would be a nice nerdy Saturday answer to a clue like "Prime number priest." Felt sheepish about needing most of the crosses for the SINE of 150 degrees. But that's because it was given in its stupid decimal form 0.5. Maybe if it was given as 1/2 I would have gotten it sooner.

So many other things in my wheelhouse: kids are always drawing the ILLUMINATI symbol on my board at school. Watched RIVERDANCE a lot in the 90's, and watched FATALBERT a lot in the 70's. Seemed like the clues were very straightforward for a Saturday.

Rug Crazy 7:15 AM  

Thought the Indian/Thai thing was one of the easier parts of this cleverly clued puzzle. Took me the alphabet to come up with the N in PAWN & aha moment.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

I thought this excellent puzzle warranted more of a rave. Did FATAL BERT kill Ernie?

Z 7:47 AM  

Would have finished with an error at ZAPOTiC/ACCUTANi except the app told me I wasn't done yet. In order, I'd say RRN>Rapper names>Drug brands. RRNs are the lesser evil because they make the solve easier. Rappers next because, while they make little sense to me, there is some sort of linguist/cultural underlying logic that makes sense. Drugs, though? What, exactly, do the various phonemes have to do with the skin? Is it ACCU as in "accurate"? "Accuse?" Your guess is probably better than mine. And what about -TANE? Popped in "TANE suffix" in my search engine and out popped something about Japanese honorifics, "butane," and a link to a wiki page on Turkish vocabulary. So Roche developed a drug that changed acne into combustible liquid? Or perhaps the unfortunate side effect was increased Odalisque cattiness? No wonder they took it off the market. Well, time for some Cialis. Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

BigMistake 8:08 AM  

Dblock - Cali, Colombia was huge center of drug trafficking in the 80's and 90's (and maybe today, but Mexico drug wars have us forgetting about Cali and Bogota

BigMistake 8:09 AM  

Dblock - Cali, Colombia was a huge hub of drug trafficking in the 80's & 90's (and may be now, but Mexico gets all the publicity these days)

AliasZ 8:18 AM  

I didn't sense a violent militaristic angle in this puzzle as much as a gentle, loving and warmly titillating one, what with AFFAIR, SIRENS STREWn all over, PATHOS, CASUAL SEX, TROJAN WAR (trying to rip the package open), WAIT A BIT... HEY NOW! But that's just me. I guess one projects what's deep inside one's soul.

The varied subject matter was rather enjoyable. I have no idea what a LIFE COACH is or why one is necessary, but it was easy enough to infer. I was surprised at the ease with which I got CENTER ICE and ILLUMINATI at first scan, making it one of the fastest Saturdays in recent memory. On the other hand, the second K in KATAKANA was the last square I entered after none of the preceding consonants worked. Luckily there are only seven. I have no idea what an IKE is as half of a rhyming candy duo. I know Pres. Eisenhower, Rev. IKE, and a few other IKEs, but not the candy. A stupid brand name is not worth Googling.

Emil ZAPOTEC* was the only runner to win the 5K, 10K and Marathon gold medals in the same Olympics while breaking Olympic records in each race (Helsinki, 1952).

On this second day of Christmas let me send you two turtle doves. Here is one of them, and here is the other.

Have a lovely second day.

*I know, I know.

Roo Monster 8:26 AM  

Hey All !
Not quite as difficult as most SatPuzs. Interestingly, got the longer NE and SW corners easier than the smaller ones. Hit a wall like typical for a SatPuz, so hit Check Puz and found my SE a mess, with HoldOn->HEY NOW and WAVEto. Also had esseX in NW. Fell for the REdO, and ZAdOTiC. So fanangled all the wrongness out, and managed to finish. Wanted combat for BATTLE, and looking for the pangram, but no Q.

Overall, nice puz, solvable! Happy Boxing Day in Canada! And Merry Day After Christmas overeating recovery!


Mike in DC 9:16 AM  

@DBlock: It's a reference to drug trafficking.

AnnaJoe Yocum 9:23 AM  

Easiest Saturday ever for me too. Finished in just over 7 minutes, shattering my previous Saturday record of 8-9 minutes.

Leapfinger 9:32 AM  

'STREW that I briefly thought of Jacob --> Israel first, but soon had ABRAM/AFFAIR to start the NW, though Mr Diesel tried to be Robert (then Rudyar-oops), and both FAUNA and FTDIX were tricky. I also had trouble trying to think of another finish for BATTLEground.

That kind of surprised me, because I always have more trouble seeing the start when I have the end filled in: it took a while to see what came before RICE, till the Canadian in me kicked in to realize what a great clue 'The puck drops here' was. Hockey, D'oh!! An even better example was 50A: I had -BERT filled in, with no reason to think of Ernie. Once I got the F-T-- in place, I had to decide even Weird Harold wouldn't have a friend called FuTon_BERT. Once I decided ELSA was more likely than EnSA (I still haven't seen "Frozen", and never will), I figured that FATAL_BERT had to be more likely than FETAL_BERT, and yup, that gave me the happy jingle. I'm still amazed how uncritical I was of that interpretation. It took so long for me to see that with new eyes that I almost think I owe Bill Cosby an apology.

'ATHOS. PATHOS and Aramis' was a GEM IN I fell swoop.
Katy, REBAR the door!

Overall, I thought this had lovely fill ILLUMINATed by plenty of unMOLDy cluing. I'm convinced we got an extra XMAS present with a SO VERY well-disguised theme: if you check the congruent placement, the message is clear: HEY NOW! If you're going to have an AFFAIR with CASUAL SEX, you had better a TROJAN WeAR. SINE of the Times, eh? Anyway, no going off half-cocked, today.

A Major DOMO Arigato to James Mulhern.

PS @Z, ACCUTANE has been around for ages, with the major caution not to be used if there was a chance of pregnancy, as it has alot of teratoGENic effects. I didn't know it was off the market now, maybe more teen pregnancies showed up affected. I think the name probably combined 'acne' and 'contain'. As you can See All Is clear now.

TonySaratoga 9:33 AM  

Fabulous puzzle. Tight. Intelligent. Great cluing.

Teedmn 9:44 AM  

Not an easy Saturday here, just that perfect challenge, the early panic that you will never get it, and for me, the daily DNF, today hosted by the REdO/ZAdOTEC cross. But considering how poorly I was doing before that, I'll take it with a sigh of relief.

SW, SE, to NW and ending in the NE. My favorite part was waiting to see if 21A was going to be gunk, cruD (the one i was rooting for), siLt or finally MOLD. PEON crossing PAWN, a TEX-SEX fusion, SOVERY looking slovenly in the SE with a birthday WISH (not "cake"). SCRIBE sounds like a journalist from back in the TROJAN WAR, perhaps.

Thanks JM for a puzzle for which I have absolutely no ANIMUS!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:56 AM  

Nice, easy Saturday.

One w/o: 34 D, CHAI >> THAI.

imfromjersey 10:00 AM  

One of my fastest Saturdays too! I read up on the Ultimate Weapon monument at FT DIX (now known as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, try fitting that in your 15 letter grid). Here is a bit of the history, it was built in 1959 out of old railroad ties and later restored after it fell into disrepair.

Ludyjynn 10:06 AM  

Rex, I've been told I make the best key lime pie this side of Florida. My dirty little secret is the recipe off the label of "Nellie and Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice" bottle, available locally in many MD stores, or on E-Bay if you can't get it in NY. Yum.

This puzzle was easy EXCEPT for the NW quad, which caused a DNF. I NEVER knew ABRAhaM as anything but til today. Since my MAXIM is to try to learn something new every day, I'm off to a good start!

ELSA made an appearance on "Final Jeopardy" last week. I blew it then, but not today. Thanks, Alex.

ACCUTANE cured the zits but could cause teenage depression. One kid flew a plane into the side of a building, as I recall, before Roche pulled the drug off the market. Oops!

I did not find this puzzle as skewing male. In my experience, CASUAL SEX is enjoyed by both genders. And A BIT of TLC never hurt anybody.

Thanks, JM and WS, for an ILLUMINATIng solve.

Numinous 10:18 AM  

Happy Boxing Day, y'all.

I couldn't think of anything other than Numea or Nuaru for places surrounded by water. I felt really dumb when NATO became evident when WAIT A BIT appeared. That got me to ACCUTA_E. The thing is, I actually had a typo that I stared at and stared at without realizing it. I actually had WAIT A BiT and couldn't figure out what a GEMt_I might be. Suddenly the "Oh, yeah, right!" Lightbulb came on, I fixed the I and saw the twins to end the thing half an hour faster than my average for Saturday.

There were a few things I noticed on the way past but never looked at later to see what they were after crosses filled them in. Take, for instance, CALI. When I saw references to it above I wondered where the heck that was on the gird. I went and looked, then smiled; cute clue.

It seemed to take me forever to get into this one and there were a bunch of false starts, Seems I went SW, NW, SE, NE. Once I got a toehold in a block they seemed to go fairly easily. CASUAL SEX got an audible, "You're kidding, really?!" Out of me. Methinks the Grey Lady blusheth as she trysts at 1D. One need almost say, "TUT!"

jberg 10:22 AM  

I enjoyed this one a lot, but found it harder than others -- maybe because I didn't know about God's changing ABRAM's name. Why did he want to do a thing like that? And although I wanted FAUNA, I wasn't sure it was limited to wild beasts, and thought there might be a pun on gnu somehow -- so I didn't put it in, even though I used the first A to give me BATTLE ZONE. And then once I got MAXIM, I thought the NJ town must be EsseX, so I just left the corner alone and went on.

Then I misread 18A as "The puck stops here," and put in the egregious HOCKEY NET. That works with ACED, but when I finally got to NOR I realized it was wrong. I had to work around to ___ICE before I read the clue again and found my error.

On the other hand, I have a ZAPOTEC rug, so that was the first real gimme for me. And I knew Mike 'n IKE from days cashiering at corner stores; never tasted it myself.

Cosby is seeking to rehabilitate his reputation, so I guess 50A is part of that campaign. I do like the FATAL BERT idea though-- something like when you see him you die soon after? Be a great comic strip.

I thought the THAI clue was pretty idiomatic, myself. Imagined dialogue:

"Want to eat Indian tonight?"
"No, I'm feeling like THAI."

It doesn't have to be the only alternative, just a common one.

kozmikvoid 10:22 AM  

"Finished" in a record 9 minutes, then got the (wa-wa) almost there message. Stared for 10 more minutes, then fixed the glaringly obvious ACCUTANi/ZAPOTiC error (that's what Z said). Other than that little miscue, found this very easy for a Saturday. I only know of TAEBO from a high school girlfriend that used to do it, so I'll disagree with Rex's male-oriented answers. Had SeVERe for a brief moment, but DOLTS and HEYNOW quickly fixed that one. Loved seeing RIEMANN and the clue for PAWN, disliked THAI (they're hours apart geographically, worlds apart culinarily) even though it was a gimme. I wonder if crossword puzzles are how Robert Ludlum came up with book titles: The ABRAM AFFAIR, The ILLUMINATI MAXIM, The RIEMANN PAWN, The GEMINI RHETORIC...that last one is pretty close actually.

mac 10:28 AM  

Doc John is back! Hi!

I had a tough time making a start, after that it rolled along. Tough clues and quite a few unknowns for me.
Smart puzzle.

cwf 10:34 AM  

Clean, sparkling, fun. ILLUMINATI made me consider breaking out my old Robert Anton Wilson (and Robert Shea) paperbacks but I'm worried that since I'm a long way from the marijuana-intoxicated 18 year old who first enjoyed them, I might ruin a fond memory.

Numinous 10:35 AM  

P.S. I was, for a time, a student of Japanesy stuff so I rebussed in HIIRIGANA and KATAKANA at 32D. At one point, I had even made flash cards for both writing systems, Hirigana for Japanese words and KATAKANA (カタカナ) for foreign words. Getting IKE settled the question for me. I've never heard of a candy called Ig anything but IKE and Mike came to mind. Having just looked it up, apparently it's called Mike and IKEs Candy.

I Am Dark But Comely 10:37 AM  

Glad that all the Francophobes who complain about ILS and MLLES got a taste of KATAKANA today. The Japanese alphabet consists of 99 sounds formed with 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, and u) and 14 consonants (k, s, t, h, m, y, r, w, g, z, d, b, p, and n). Since these can apparently occur in any combination of consonant-vowel pairs (generally from 2-4 pairs per word), just simmer down and know when you're well off.

As usual, @AliasZ indulges himself in furthering any erotic undertones that a xwp may offer in all innocence. Having read The Song of Solomon, I weren't fooled for a minute, but have to admit that was a lovely pair of doves.

Mohair Sam 10:41 AM  

Dude! Guy puzzle all the way, except for that girly RIVERDANCE thing. Easy for a Saturday, although we had to guess on the A at CALI (just not up to date on our drug cities).

JETLI our first gimme, and nailed ILLUMINATI off that "I" - hence ANIMUS, MAXIM, and I got far enough in math to remember RIEMANN. Moving along: REBAR, SINE, and FATALBERT gimmes for me - and Mrs. M knows her RIVERDANCE and wrote in CASUALSEX (I didn't ask). We were essentially finished with this puppy.

Think I'll grab a Cormac McCarthy novel, maybe watch a John Wayne movie. Hot Damn.

From yesterday - @Alias Z, thanks for the link to the Respighi cantata. New to us, beautiful piece. Merry Christmas to you too.

Chuck McGregor 10:52 AM  


Fairly random mix of words but they led to little nonsense-worthy juxtapositions STREWn about to WAVE AT. I’ve no ANIMUS towards the constructor.for this. I consider it a compliment.

The few I sort of liked, but a bit too literal:

FAUNA LIFECOACH (animal trainer)

NEWS SIRENS (the yeah babys on TV NEWScasts)

OF NOTE ZONE [typically] (where you put footnotes)

However, we do have the SO VERY ILLUMINATIng and SPECIFIC –


That’s it from close by Fort_William_Henry (less than a mile away but some pretty wet wheeling driving that route), originally constructed without REBAR long before FT. DIX.


Joseph Michael 10:53 AM  

Played relatively easy for a Saturday except for the NE corner where the combo of RIEMANN, ACCUTANE, JETLI, and ZAPOTEC -- all proper nouns -- did me in.

I don't mind being fooled by puns and misdirection in the clues but, when a puzzle is built around too many names, it takes the fun out of the solve since you either know the name or you don't.

Aside from the NE, I thought this was a very good puzzle with a lot iof clever cluing.

GILL I. 10:56 AM  

I woke up this morning at around 4 and downloaded this puzzle. Fuzzy head from much merriment last night. Stared at this thing for ages and the only thing I got was CIGARS and DIVORCE. So, it wasn't THAT easy for moi but I did finish it and that made me SOVERY happy. That word had me in pain. I had SeVERe. I also had sporatic where RHETORIC was resting its head. 2 cuppas later and things started falling together.
I didn't even notice the "manliness" of this puzzle but now that I look at it....oh, and ELSA was modeled after the cold-hearted Snow Queen.
ZAPOTEC is such a wonderful word. The people of Oaxaca and Monte Alban have come up with some of the finest cuisine this side of the world. Forget THAI, eat some chapulines with a couple of fried eggs and chorizo.
Will now go look up MAXIM which I never heard of. So wanted to fit in LIFE magazine. Didn't all the GI's have Rita Hayworth pinned up over their bunks?
This was a fine Saturday puzzle and now I must go start breakfast for some hungry people. I wish I had some chapulines....

old timer 11:01 AM  

I am in awe of people who can do a puzzle like that in under 10 minutes. I was grateful, however, that JET LI came up in a recent puzzle, as that plus CENTER ICE made the NE a breeze. In the SE, I wanted "name" instead of WISH. Easily corrected.

What gets me is the overwhelming sense of danger or regret in this puzzle. An AFFAIR so often leads to DIVORCE. I don't know if CASUAL SEX often causes ATHLETES FOOT but it can lead to STDs. Though if your daughter used ACCUTANE, she was required to also use birth control even if she engages in no sex, casual or otherwise. Birth defects were way too common with that drug.

And did you know that a conspiracy of the ILLUMINATI is what made RIVERDANCE so popular?

Jim 11:03 AM  

I can't help but wonder whether, had the grid been overloaded with feminine references, we would have read about the sexually unbalanced nature of this puzzle. Just curious.

Carola 11:35 AM  

Agree with @Rex except for having RUDOLF Diesel as my first entry and getting RIVER DANCE from the V. On the militarism theme, I wondered if the "Ultimate Weapon" at FT DIX had something to do with the ATOMIC bomb (Wikipedia told me it doesn't; the reference is to the statue of a soldier). Very tangential, but in the WAR context of the puzzle, FAT ALBERT also jogged my memory of the FAT man A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Interesting that the ANIMUS vibe also extends to the domestic front with DIVORCE. Thanks for other commenters for pointing the AFFAIR and CASUAL SEX.

I got a lot of help from previous crosswords, both SPECIFIC terms I wouldn't otherwise know (DOMO, ELSA) and recently or often seen crossword stalwarts: JET LI, MAXIM, REPO, ASU, FT DIX, TUT, REFS, EERO, TAE BO.

Tita 11:38 AM  

Happy Boxing Day!
Today was easier than yesterday, though probably had much to do with all the merrymaking...
Today we drove home, and after one week of dear almost-family staying with us, and family, are relaxing in our blissfully silent home.

Rex...great write up.

Great puzzle, thanks, JM.

And forgot to thanks Ms. Guzzle and Mr. Chen for a classy Friday tribute yesterday.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

What's the opposite of CASUAL SEX? Formal SEX? Dress-up SEX?? White tie and tails???

Enquiring minds want to know...

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Thai and Indian are both spicy cuisines which may be the intent or so I thought.

Joe Bleaux 12:06 PM  

Maxim ... Trojan ... Casual sex ... Affair ... Maybe you subconsciously had a theme thing going with A TIT SCORE ;)

Tita 12:06 PM  

My husband"s Irish aunt was in her late 90's when she went to see an early RIVERDANCE performance here in NY. She had danced with Michael Flately's grandfather back in Ireland. She went backstage to meet him and tell him about it. The next day, he had a dozen roses sent to her home..

Joe Bleaux 12:09 PM  

Cali -- Colombian cocaine TRAFFIC city.

Rabi Abonour 12:43 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I might not like MAXIM, but I don't find it so offensive that I hate seeing it in a grid. Some good long fill - I dug ILLUMINATI and CASUAL SEX. One of my favorite parts of the puzzle was that they went candy instead of president for IKE.

One embarrassing note: Until I read the blog, I was parsing the answer to 50A as FATAL BERT and was very confused.

OISK 1:11 PM  

Ah, not a bad puzzle but for one cross, and I got a careless DNF. It's almost always pop culture, or product names that get me. Last week it was eazy e with ozzfest . Today, the name of some skin drug?? With a Mesoamerican language? I finally decided on Zapotec, not Zapotic, and thought I had it. Nope. I had "Accutone" instead of Accutane, a skin product with "Tone" making sense. But REBAR is clearly better than REBOR. Shoulda had it, as I often say at Belmont Park.

Other than that one section, like most others, I breezed through this, and enjoyed it. Jet Li comes up a lot, doesn't he?

Andrew Heinegg 1:23 PM  

This was a reasonable effort. I should but cannot let Rex's encomium to America's Test Kitchen go uncommented on. While they occasionally offer a good tip or technique e.g., steaming potatoes for mashing rather than boiling them, their self-laudatory attitude and ummmm comment after tasting every dish drives me bonkers. IMHOP, if you are truly interested in cooking and learning truly helpful tips and techniques, you should watch Lidia Bastianich. There is nobody better for this.

Leapfinger 2:09 PM  

KALI is the ferocious and fearful Hindu Mother Goddess who liberates souls from the cycle of birth and death. She is commonly depicted as being blue and standing on one leg. She utilizes her many arms to direct city traffic.

You're welcome.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

You think the ancient Hebrews weren't male-dominated or patriarchal?!

KATAKANA crossing IKE almost did me in---I had never heard of Mike & IKE's, must be New York think; I presume these candies taste like decayed apple....

Music Man 3:33 PM  

I almost couldn't believe how easy this was! I did enjoy it though, fun puzzle

thursdaysd 3:42 PM  

Don't get the angst over THAI.Thought it was about the easiest clue. If you like spicy food and you're tired of Indian you eat Thai, or vice versa. Several proper names I have no idea about, but all gettable.

Happy Boxing Day (can't believe how many people are out shopping...)

Chaos344 3:48 PM  

Great comments all!

This might have been my fastest Saturday ever, had my brain not turned to mush in the NW. I started there, but when my crossword synapses failed to fire immediately, I moved on to the NE. That quadrant fell quickly due to instant entries at 6D & 6A. Also at 18A & 9D. From there it was down to the SE where RIVERDANCE went in off the crosses from 30,35 and 37 Down. That broke the whole corner open for me in short order. Over to the SW, where I fired in TEX right away. With only the X in place, CASUALSEX was a "gimme" for this solver. Does that sentence sound slightly redundant? Anyway, closed out that section with alacrity by immediately entering 31D,33D,34D and then 50A.

Then, back to the NW, where I had a huge brain fart that cost me an extra 5 minutes and most likely a "personal best" solving time. Drew a blank at 1A. Wanted the Person and not the Thing at 1D. Wanted SEES (Poker) not REFS at 26A. Didn't ponder the clue for 2D long enough and wanted some kind of abbreviation for "demilitarized." I couldn't remember the first name of 3D, nor could I remember a synonym for loathing that ended in S. MAXIM at 5D never entered my mind, although it should have. I've seen issues, but never bought one. That might be due to the fact that I own at least one copy of every Playboy published since May of 1960 to present. Probably over 1000 issues, since I have duplicates for many of those years. Most of the duplicate copies are in mint condition.

Finally got MHP when I accepted the noun at 1A as a "thing" in lieu of a "person." Sheesh! What a bunch of rookie mistakes for someone who's been a cruciverbalist for 50 years!

@Leapy: As usual, your post was absolutely "Coffee Through The Nose" hilarious lady! Loved the description of your personal minefield at FATALBERT! In the end, FETAL-BERT edged out FUTON-BERT as my favorite!

Naturally, your "HEY NOW! If you're going to have an AFFAIR with CASUAL SEX, you had better a TROJAN WeAR. SINE of the Times, eh? Anyway, no going off half-cocked, today." comment was right in my patently puerile and prurient wheel house. I swear Leapy, in the last 10 years, no other crossword blog poster has ever elicited as many belly laughs from me as you have. You are a gem!

Having said all that, my personal favorite for today's most humorous comment,actually goes to a poster at Wordplay. Its jocular nature is most likely due to a typo, (the omission of the word "In") but one could also opine that it was the perfect example of a Freudian slip, no?

Johanna writes in her last paragraph at Wordplay:

"It's also obvious to me that James Mulhern put a lot of thought and care into creating this lovely Saturday puzzle. Interestingly I filled this one in from the bottom up, getting CASUALSEX first ... that's when I knew I was for a good time." End quote.

ROTFLMAO! So, did Johanna get CASUALSEX before she started the puzzle? Also, if one were to make an inference from her comment, it seems she may have achieved some sort of epiphany by realizing that her whole purpose in life was to "provide a good time!" One can only wonder, but as Dr. Frazier Crane used to say, "Johanna, I'm listening!"

Now that I probably have OFL gnashing his teeth over my perceived lack of sensitivity toward the overarching issue of our time, i.e., misogyny, paternalism,and the woeful inequality between the sexes, I will finally STFU and bid you all a fond adieu!

Z 4:35 PM  

@Leapy 9:32 - I looked it up. Irritable Bowel Syndrome lawsuits caused ACCUTANE to be pulled from the US market. Not to be confused with Cranky Crossword Solver Rant Syndrome.

@oldtimer - one of the principals I worked for was of Irish descent. Imagine, if you will, a tall Dutch-American and a short Palestinian-American backing up a more than a little inebriated, rotund, and bare-chested English teacher doing his best Michael Flatley imitation at her retirement party. Fortunately, the young ladies who had done a wonderful performance had left much earlier.

@Jim - since the next time that happens will be the first time it happens we will just have to wait and see.

@anon11:39 - I belief the rules for business CASUAL SEX apply.

Mike Rees 7:16 PM  

Finished in 13:40, half my usual Saturday time and no Googles. Played like a Tuesday for me. Lots of the longer answers fell in place right away and turned out to be right the first time, so I was fortunate to be able to breeze through this in only half a dozen passes or so.

I liked the clueing for THAI. Mostly because it was my first thought and I left it out thinking it was too easy an answer. Adds some spice (?) to the puzzle to throw in some gimmes with the hard clues.

Mike Rees 7:18 PM  

I believe the opposite of casual sex is committed celibacy. ;)

Nancy 7:54 PM  

Like GILL, I had SEVERE instead of SO VERY. Never corrected it, so DNF. Like Leapfinger, I wanted Jacob before ABRAM. I looked up RUDOLF in the NW, which enabled me to finish that section. Nothing about this puzzle was easy for me. Among the things I didn't know besides RUDOLF: KATAKANA, ACCUTANE, ZAPOTIC, JETLI, DOMO. Even FT DIX stumped me. I've heard of it, obviously, but I haven't heard of the Ultimate Weapon monument. I didn't enjoy this especially, and I'm quite surprised that OISK liked it. Or maybe I just need a good night's sleep and shouldn't have done this right after arriving home. Don't think I would have found it any easier, though.

Nancy 7:58 PM  

Oh, I forgot. @Tita -- wonderful story.

phil phil 8:08 PM  

C'mon Rex, looks like you are taking your personal opinion to some righteous zone. If there were a lot of female oriented clue/answers would you judge the same. The sub-themery of macho male flavor is just that. 'Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.'

kitshef 9:14 PM  

Wonderful puzzle - or it would have been for a Wednesday. I'd like to see a higher level of difficulty on a Saturday. Perhaps Will is taking it easy on us day after Xmas.

And just in case there are people on this blog who don't remember the '52 Olympics and don't understand @AliasZ's asterisk, that was Emil ZAtOpEk who won the medals.

Diana,LIW 11:43 PM  

Rain Forest

It's 8;41 pst, and I have not seen a post for over 8 hours. Just letting you know. You are not alone. Or maybe, you are. Har.


Waxy in Montreal 11:34 AM  

Will must have taken pity on prime-timers who'd OD'ed on their Christmas dinners with this Boxing Day turkey. Wednesday-worthy at best. Only problem was a REDO/ZADOTIC Nattick.

And wasn't it just earlier this week we had PUSSYGALORE for breakfast? This morning its CASUALSEX, TROJANwar, an AFFAIR and a DIVORCE! The Old Gray Lady's gone MAXIM - well, INEVER! (WAITABIT, ah, must be on the ILLUMINATI.)

Burma Shave 11:47 AM  


INESSENCE, that PEON cowboy spoke in RHETORIC


spacecraft 12:06 PM  

WB @Waxy; where you been? This one, after some initial resistance, was easyish for a Saturday. Some stuff I didn't know: ZAPOTEC, KATAKANA, but crosses came to the rescue. That "City famous for bad traffic" CALI must be some kind of inside joke, one that I don't get. If CALI is actually a city I've never heard of it. Maybe it's in, say, Colombia or Mexico or somewhere, and the "traffic" is better left unmentioned. I liked SIRENS crossing CASUALSEX. 'Nuff said. A-.

rondo 12:28 PM  

Couldn’t have been too tough since there’s no hint of a write-over. Started at CENTERICE, filled in the east half, then with CASUALSEX went from bottom to top in this AFFAIR in the west. How’s that for a roll in the HEYNOW? @Diana I WAVEAT you.

MAXIM ANIMUS sounds like a really mad Roman.

If this puz was as gender biased as OFL would have it, there would be a yeah baby or two OFNOTE.

INEVER put the Sarasa Zebra 0.7 down and cruised right through this Sat-puz SOVERY cleanly. Maybe I’ll WAITABIT then break out one of those leftover CIGARS to celebrate.

@Diana,LIW - I have on rare occasions invaded the future with seemingly little or no reaction. There are at least a few real-timers who regularly check back. I think most don't care or bother.

Longbeachlee 1:20 PM  

Rebar supports masonry? Seems like stretch to me. It supplements masonry because concrete can't act in tension. Alex Scordelis, who taught Reinforced Concrete Theory at Berkeley way back when, is rolling in his grave.

rondo 1:40 PM  

@longbeachlee - re: REBAR. Thank you for saying something. Support is definitely not correct. Another answer could have been post-tensioned cables - but that only fits on Sunday grids - if you want to always be stressed in compression. I prefer to not be stressed.

Waxy in Montreal 3:23 PM  

@space, unretired so don't have as much time to comment these days - but always do the puz.

Diana,LIW 6:35 PM  

Anyone know the Zapotec word for "ancient Greek garden MOLD?" Too many WOES (pretty much the same as @Nancy) so I threw in the towel.

Knew what the clue for CALI was getting at (drug traffic) but didn't know the city. (Rome has the real kind of bad traffic!) Yes, Spacey, it's in Columbia. If you ever wonder about a clue/answer, Bill Butler also does a daily NYT and LAT puz blog. If Rex is the Lewis Black (ranter) of crosswords, BB is the Mr. Rogers. He carefully explains most of the clues and answers. "Can you say Katakana?"

Rondo - "I've seen the future, and it's a bald-headed man from New York!" - Albert Brooks in "Lost in America." I sometimes buy a NYT so I can solve in Futureville, and have noticed a few posters visit now and then. Like Teedmn, who pointed out my "mythed" opportunity yesterday.

Even tho I used to live near Ft. Dix, I never heard of the memorial. So I blithely wrote in Ft. Lee. That did not help.

I get my "hometown" paper (The Spokesman Review) in e-version, and write out the puz on graph paper. But Sunday my winter paper (The Monterey Herald) actually has the NY and LA times puzzles. Such luxury to look forward to tomorrow.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Tita 9:36 PM  

You wound me to the quick, @rondo!
I assure you that were I see you folks in real time, that I would make mention. You must've visited during my hiatus, as I'm sure I would have noticed and said hey.

I might also complain that on the even rarer occasions that I comment back here, I am rarely acknowledged. A sad commentary on the difficulty of maintaining contact across the divide?

Let me say in my defense, and perhaps others, that it is hard enough to remember a puzzle that I did yesterday, much less one that I did 6 weeks ago. So reading comments that only reference 13D...well, hard for me to relate.

Btw, I've asked here before...whatever happened to Dirigonzo, my sailing buddy? Haven't seen him in a dog's age.

As to D,LiW, I must confess to being thoroughly confused as to where you hang your hat.

Cathy 12:22 AM  

City famous for bad traffic? Knew it had to mean drug traffic. When CALI came through, was miffed there wasn't abbreviation. California right? Right? Compton? Oh crimmany, Cali Columbia. Never heard, doi.

Googled Fat Albert. So didn't have the fun of FATAL BERT. Was happy no snipes on Donald:)

And also never heard of ill um in a ti. ILLUMINATI. Back to second grade...

rain forest 12:28 AM  

@Lady Di - For the record I am a he (last time I looked), and am a bona fide Syndi. We've had a variety of such people over the years, but some have left (Dirigonzo, DMG, Solving in Seattle, and others whose names I'm ashamed to say I've forgotten). Ron Diego turns up from time to time, and it's nice to see @Waxy in Montreal here today. Moderation has taken away the occasional banter we would have back and forth, and I miss that. Also, frequently someone will say something that another syndi has already said, but one can't know because the comments aren't there for hours. I think I'll write @Rex a letter, but that will probably get moderated out of existence. Besides, He has said that this isn't going to change.

Nice medium Saturday puzzle today. Odd that I knew it was ABRAM and MAXIM right off, and a few other gimmes up top helped speed the solve, though I am definitely not a speed solver. I finished it this morning, but had to leave right after, and so didn't comment until now. Kind of self-moderation.

Anyway, a good puzzle.

Z 9:11 AM  

@Tita - Dirigonzo was blogging about the Premier Puzzle by Longo, but now all three of his blogs have been silent for months.

Bananafish 2:07 PM  

Isn't the opposite of CASUAL SEX loneliness?

Raising hand for REDO/ZADOTEC.

Diana,LIW 5:48 PM  

Tita - you think you're confused? Think what it's like to be me. Sometimes I wake in the night, walk into a door, and wonder where they moved the bathroom to.

Actually, I wear many hats. In CrossWorld I mostly live in the past, but take the DeLorean for a spin to the future now and then.

In the "real" world, I live in Spokane (civic motto, "Near Nature, Near Perfect") where flocks of wild turkeys roam the neighborhoods. In winter I follow the butterflies to Calif. central coast, where groups of deer roam the neighborhoods.

Don't know if you'll see this - it's Sun. afternoon and I need to travel to Jan. 24, now that the newspaper dried out and the puz is completed. Maybe I'll see you there. Or Monday. Oh it's so confusing...

Rainy - best of luck with the letter. I try to keep in mind that I don't know what kind of H*** Rex had to put up with pre-moderation. But who knows, maybe some day we'll have a few hall monitors...


Anonymous 6:39 PM  

Glad this site is still going strong. thanks.
Puzzle appeared Jan 30th here and I slept on it 2 nights before coming here to dig my way out.
Had SEVERE for extremely, knew I switches parts of speech but couldn't come up with anything else. The S, V, E, and R were confirmed.
No idea who "The Perfect Day" novelist was or what exactly Ea-a-asy indicated in normal speech.
I even looked up the sovery I saw here and no Google hit, but a suggestion that maybe I wanted 'so very'. That SE corner needed to "get ripped"

Thanks for your help.

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