Ancient collection of Sanskrit hymns / SAT 1-30-16 / Hungarian hunting dog / Great magician floating lightbulb / Shorts popular in 1920s '30s / River of myth where one drinks to forget / Prize at top of maypole / Sackers in sack of Rome 410 AD / Clothing company whose mail-order catalog debuted in 1905

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson and Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: RIGVEDA (38D: Ancient collection of Sanskrit hymns) —
The Rigveda (Sanskrit: ऋग्वेद ṛgveda, from ṛc "praise, shine" and veda "knowledge") is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is one of the four canonical sacred texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas. The text is a collection of 1,028 hymns and 10,600 verses, organized into ten books (Mandalas). [...] Rigveda is one of the oldest extant texts in any Indo-European language. Philological and linguistic evidence indicate that the Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, most likely between c. 1500–1200 BC, though a wider approximation of c. 1700–1100 BC has also been given. // Some of its verses continue to be recited during Hindu rites of passage celebrations such as weddings and religious prayers, making it probably the world's oldest religious text in continued use. (wikipedia)
• • •

A little too precious for me. Definitely way out of my wheelhouse. Technical terms (BRACKEN?) and magicians I've never heard of (BLACKSTONE) and not just the Vedas, which I have heard of, but RIGVEDA, dishes I'd never eat (VEAL MARSALA), maypole activities (?!) (WREATH), a Puffin relative that looks diminutive but somehow isn't (?) (AUKLET), a stock term I don't know (DAWN RAID), something called CREPEY ... so much of it was arcane to me. This was surprising, as I got the NW instantly—every first answer I thought of was right (well, I went with PAPA before MAMA BEAR, but I went in to the Downs very prepared to change that one).

So I thought it would be easy, if not terribly exciting. But then it got a lot harder, and somewhat more exciting, but not much. I didn't have any experience of "ooh, cool answer." All of the longest answers seem dull. Except VISIGOTHS—that's flashy. I don't know ... it's well made, just not to my taste. With the exception of SIPPY CUP and ME TIME (28D: What isn't working?), this feels more Maleskan than Shortzian in its general sensibility.

[10D: Shorts popular in the 1920s and '30s]

Do people know VIZSLA!? I used to pore over dog breed books, back when I had dog-ownership fantasies, 10+ years ago, before I got my first dog, Dutchess, a husky/shepherd mix we got from a shelter in northern PA, and well before I got my second dog, Gabby, a purebred chocolate lab I got because my friend was like "we're getting a chocolate lab puppy and there are unclaimed female puppies in the litter—you want one?" I mean, really. "Do you want a chocolate lab puppy?" What was I supposed to say??? Where was I? Oh, right VIZSLA? The  *only* reason I knew it (and I had to struggle mightily to bring it to the surface) was because I had gone through those dog breed books cover to cover, and I'd taken those online tests What Dog Is Right For You, and the VIZSLA frequently came up near the top. "How exotic-sounding?" And I haven't seen the name since. Until today. Sounds like a car, not a dog. "Come Experience ... the 2017 Ford VIZSLA!" (because "VIZSLA: It's Everywhere You Want To Be" is too spot-on)

I spelled MASSAD thusly and didn't check the cross and so ended with a PORTA / MASSAD error. I don't like  that cross, but I should've been able to infer that "O" from the clue, 43D: ___-Novo (capital on the Gulf of Guinea). Otherwise, it was fast, then slow, then done, with very few pleasure points. Clean, well-crafted, not for me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 7:59 AM  

Man, oh man, I came so close to finishing this, and that's a big deal for me whenever Brad's name is at the top. He is such a mean-spirited, hateful man. And of course I'm kidding; Brad is one of the nicest, most affable constructors out there. That this was tempered with Sam's gentler touch made it much more accessible to me.

Rex – VISZLA went in off the Z because I'm a dog-book-pore-overer, too. Nice-lookin' dog, by the way.

No doubt like thousands, I had "hard" for HOOD. Finally accepting that this had to go, POOL materialized, and all was cleaned up there.

But they dealt me my death blow in the northeast. I was certain that those bench players needed "pedals," and I questioned my IBISES several times. But I wanted 9D, with its ID end, to be some kind of "bid." And for 10D, I was going for some kind of "leg" or "gag."

So in the end, BRACKEN, OUR GANG, AUKLET, and LETHE did me in.

Kept considering PAS for CHA, having already forgotten I had it for 53D.

"Saggy and crinkled." Sigh. Where does someone my age even start with such a gem? Too much sun, not enough exercise, kids in college… It all gives me the crepes.

My first thought on the toddler's handful was "cheerios, though I can close my eyes and imagine virtually anything in my son's fat, sticky little fist. ALPO, MOSS, bewildered AUKLET.

I picked up on a WORN DOWN MAMA vibe: MARE, SIPPY CUP, WIPED out, DAWN RAID (finger poking in ear – you awake, Mom?), ME TIME…

My daughter got a STYE three days before her prom, googled STYE, saw worst-case pictures, and became instantly and magnificently hysterical. Heads-up to moms of prom-aged daughters – it all boils down to this: Instagram and Facebook pictures. That's it. The hot compresses did the trick. Post hoc ergo propter hoc and all that.

Hey, Sam and Brad – I look forward to more collaborations. Your byline could be Sally Mae Drube. Off to tackle Lars G. Doubleday's Stumper now. ;-)

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

i thought this was one of the cleverest puzzles i've done in a long time. a continual surprise. it made me smile.

The Rhino 8:21 AM  

I found it impossible. The NW alone had four down answers where I needed all the crosses (DAWNRAID, OURGANG, BLACKSTONE and ETHAN). So I cheated all over the place and got my 'Congratulations' but I don't feel good about it.

chefbea 8:22 AM  

too tough for me ...Though I love veal marsala. Went to see Blackstone the magician when he was performing at a theater in St. Louis. Think I was in the fourth grade.Have loved magic ever since.
Thought Vizsla would be WOD

Imfromjersey 8:27 AM  

We know Vizsla, and in fact we have friends who gave two of them. They are fantastic dogs, very sweet. I had a hard time with crepey, thought maybe it was crepit (is that even a word?) and found this kind of Chellenging for a Saturday.

Beanrage Orgy 8:43 AM  

I'll bet the Ole Perfessor knows VISZLA.

Teedmn 8:44 AM  

I succeeded with this puzzle with a Friday time so of course I liked it! Opposite of @Rex, I finished in the NW. In the NE, the DOUBLE gimme of DOUBLE and UKE was an auspicious beginning but a mix-up of clues, thinking 12D was the "shorts" clue gave me BeACh something at 12D for a bit. And the D_W of 9D had me thinking of DoW for soMETIME (WREATH was a gimme also, having seen the Swedish maypoles with their wreaths of wild flowers at the top, though I've never seen the celebration. It's actually a midsummer thing, not May Day).

VISIGOTHS off just the O (couldn't remember any of the other Rome-sacking groups so 'whew') helped as did ordering clothes from the SPIEGEL catalog back in the '90's. CREPEY sounds CREepY. The constructors must be tired because there's WIPED plus WORN DOWN crossing ERODES. I liked seeing WIDE-EYED emerge. I was sure of VEAL and SPIEGEL but W__EE___ for innocent wasn't obvious until the CREPEY gave me the EYED. Nice.

I thought the TENOR of this puzzle was PB1-esque, SNAPPY clues, one I can SAY YES TO. Thanks, SAD and BW.

George Barany 8:48 AM  

Very tough collaborative puzzle by @Sam Donaldson and @Brad Wilber--the latter being one of my favorite people in the crossworld.

Like @Rex, I breezed through the Northwest corner (the clue for ACNE being particularly funny), but unlike @Rex, I have eaten VEAL_MARSALA and heard of the magician BLACKSTONE (the most crossword-friendly combination of letters in any 10-letter magician). Given the fact that I was born in Hungary, I kind of recognized the structural arrangement of consonants in VIZSLA, but the exact spelling was a real challenge (wonder if they sell ALPO in Hungary).

OUR_GANG and DAWN_RAID were both fun to suss out, although the crossing of LETHE and BRACKEN gets into Natick territory. My first impulse on 41-Down was SPEEDY, but that would dupe SPEED_DATING, so fortunately SNAPPY emerged.

One of my favorite @Wilber puzzles was co-constructed with @Matthew Sewell, and can be found by clicking here; read this and this after solving.

Z 9:10 AM  

When I changed RIGViDA to RIGVEDA and saw that CREPEY was correct I creped. Not what I expected to find in this puzzle.

So many WOD nominees today, AUKLET, SPIEGEL (we had these in the house when I was a kid, but it's been 40(?) years since I've seen one), PORTO-Novo, VIZSLA (I got 33% of those letters from my wife as she walked out the door to go swim - she's the one who has read all the dog breed books), BLACKSTONE (the name rings a very faint bell). All of these, and more, falls into the trivial trivia category. The only smiles this puzzle generated here were the cluing for ME TIME and the shout out to yesterday's "one please" with today's DOUBLE. Tomorrow we should see a shot and a beer in the puzzle.

You know how some people react when MAO or CHE appear in the puzzle? John Wayne is starting to have that effect on me. More creepy than CREPEY.

Hartley70 9:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 9:24 AM  

Mostly easy except for NE which was tough ( HarD not HOOD). Had to infer most of that corner. Did not know OUR GANG were pants, DAWN RAID was completely unfamiliar out side of a military context, BRACKEN was a WOE, AUK yes AUKLET not so much...saved by DOUBLE, UKE and LETHE.

@Rex - VIZSlA was also a WOE.

Solid, but again, a bit tepid. Liked it though.

@Z - I agree with your list from a couple of days ago, especially Paul Simon.

@Leapy - Just saw your comment from Thurs. - Re in-laws: As with much of life, there were ups and downs over the decades (they have both passed). It didn't help that her mother was, to put it politely, unstable.

NCA President 9:30 AM  

"Precious" sums it up perfectly for me. Just too too for my blood. Back in my formative piano playing years, my teachers would use that term for any time I would take a little too much time finessing a passage. Turns out, there's "finesse" and there's "precious." It's a fine line...and this puzzle crossed it with all of the ? clues and way out of the blue words: PIPET, VIZSLA, BABEL (as clued...ugh), BRACKEN, TENOR (as clued...ugh 2.0), and AUKLET.

Other "precious" clues include the ones for SPEEDDATING, WREATH (May Pole...? who does that anymore?), MARE (oh, that dam), and ONPATROL (does an officer "follow" his beat? or walk/drive it?).

VIZSLA sounds like one of those Hungarian composers from the mid to late 19th he might have written an opera or two.

CREPEY? Is that something that's erie?

Completely random, but several years ago my then-wife and I went out on a date night. She ordered the veal and I, the lamb. It took a few minutes to dawn on us what we'd done. From that moment on I decided to never order anything cut down in its prime again. Now that I'm vegetarian though, I do eat baby spinach. So, there's that.

Anyway, I completed the puzzle in just under what the NYT site says is my average. Felt like forever.

Mark 10:10 AM  

@jae OUR GANG isn't pants. Shorts, like short films.

Ernie Kuvasz 10:24 AM  

I'll bet the Ole Beanrage Orgy can't remember VIZSLA from VISZLA.

Sucz a zsame.

Robert Kern, Jr. 10:25 AM  

Thought it was a great puzzle. Medium-Challenging, as a Saturday should be.

One w/o: 36 A, ROBE >> POOL.

All those Hungarian and Sanskrit words filled in nicely from crosses.

(Wouldn't affect my opinion, but have I mentioned that I sat next to Brad Wilber at Lollapuzzoola last August? ;>))

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:29 AM  

What's a marketEER? A buccaneer of marketing? Trying too hard for twee clues.

kozmikvoid 10:32 AM  

I gave myself a pat on the back after finishing this doozy. Half the fill was breezy, the other half was brutal. The NE took forever to materialize, mostly because I saw TENOR, but had no idea how that fit with the clue. So I resisted, and played around with things like HarD for HOOD and wifi for POOL. Finally gave in and tried TENOR and the NE fell in line. Then the SW, that hauntingly difficult SW. It's filled with things I've still never heard of, so I'm not quite sure how I escaped. I know Newport is a common city name, so guessed at PORTO. Really guessed at CREPEY, which simply shouldn't be a word. And with those in place, I threw up a Hail Mary and guessed that SPIEGEL looked the most right. Toughest Saturday I think I've ever completed.

Which brings me to a mini-rant. I'm fairly new to commenting here so perhaps this isn't a new discussion, but I read so often commenters say "I completed the puzzle with only a few Googles." That means you didn't complete the puzzle, Google did. Looking up answers to finish a puzzle is like cheating at solitaire - what's the point?? I say this not to mock or belittle, but to encourage people to try and finish the damned puzzle on their own. The gratification of sticking with it and deciphering the puzzle without help is well worth the aggravation. Trust me, I was a Googler once, too. And I'm a much better and happier solver now that I've stopped.

Teedmn 10:42 AM  

@NCA President, "hah" on the baby spinach. It will grow back, but stay away from those baby carrots! (I'm a pescatarian, myself).

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

@NCA_Prez, could you potentially be eating eggs?

Ruth 11:07 AM  

I still don't think "vessel" is an accurate description of a pipet. The P crossing WIPED was my last letter. Given the overall difficulty level, they could have used a more obvious clue for pipet and it still would have been hard.

Hartley70 11:07 AM  

MAMABEAR was my very first guess and I had the trattoria dish as VEALMarango or VEALMARSALA, either of which I'm likely to order when on the menu. Then zip for quite a while. I found this puzzle tough although my time was faster than usual. I'm not sure how that happened. It was out of my wheelhouse too, but I really liked it. It felt like a brain twister.

BRACKEN felt very Wuthering Heights to me and CREPEY skin is something I'm vaguely (ahem) familiar with, unfortunately. I had no idea of BLACKSTONE and RIGVEDA, AUKLET or John Wayne's ETHAN. They were too obscure for me. Thank goodness for crosses.

Laurence Katz 11:08 AM  

Pretty much an opposite solving experience for me than that described by Rex. Got almost nothing but "double" and "Bana" first time through, but bit by bit made progress until I was left with a blank northwest. Almost gave up, but then saw "bad deal" and the rest fell into place. And for the first time ever I finished a puzzle that Rex messed up! Didn't expect that to happen....well, ever.

Carola 11:08 AM  

Lovely puzzle! At first I thought it was going to be a BEAR, as going through the Acrosses yielded me only WREATH, EER, VISIGOTHS and OBAMAS. But the Downs came to my rescue, with MAWS and ALOP giving me the crosses I needed to get going on criss-crossing my way to the bottom.

LETHE was interestingly juxtaposed with ETHAN Edwards, who refuses to forget.

The VISIGOTHS were at the front of my mind, as I've been reading Mary Beard's history of Rome, SPQR, which I recommend.

CREPEY - Gee, guys, did you have to remind me? Every time I look into that SPIEGEL....

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Nearly done in having thought I had a breakthrough with BALLANTINE . . . evil.

archaeoprof 11:16 AM  

Very fine puzzle from the best Saturday tag-team on earth. Loved SAYYESTO and AUKLET, which I got only because of the old movie "October Sky" where the boys name their first rocket AUK, for a bird that doesn't fly.

old timer 11:21 AM  

The brand-new 2017 Ford VISZLA! Nice one, @Rex!

Tough but doable. All my Googles were just to confirm what I had already written in. VISIGOTHS I knew, and PORTO Novo. Took a while to see that the dreaded ALOP was up there. Had "hard" before HOOD. Wanted VEAL piccata at first, but OMNIA had to be right, so MARSALA it was.

ABSTAINERS was a lucky guess, and a fortunate one as it prevented me from writing in "whilst" where AMIDST is. And I've definitely heard of BRACKEN. It's part of the landscape in one of those unbelievably sad Scottish ballads.

Question: How many dance *routines* begin with CHA? When I was taking dance lessons six decades ago, you took two steps *before* doing the cha-cha-cha triplet.

GILL I. 11:22 AM  

No joy in Mudville today. I wouldn't use the word precious to describe it neither. Just looking at AUKLET, (after I cheated for the twentieth time) made me cry. Oh, then rub some salt in all of my wounds by having a VIZSLA and RIGVEDA.
The first thing I thought of was Maleska and the very first NYT puzzle I attempted. I huffed and puffed all over the place but I managed to finish. No Google in those days - just your trusty dictionary. I bet CREPEY is a made up word.
Gorgeous pups, @REX...! that's a frame in your study picture...

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Terrible, terrible puzzle.

Crossing "auklet" and "bracken" with "dawn raid," Our Gang," "Blackstone," "Lethe," and "Ethan"? Not to mention crossing "Spiegel" with "Rigveda" and "Vizsla"? These leave most reasonable people with no hope of completing the puzzle. Those are arcane pieces of information from arcane subjects, just silly.

It's one thing to have suspect fills like "crepey" or "babel" cross with legitimate fills, but crossing do-or-die fills with each other just spoils the fun.

Karl 11:30 AM  

I didn't mind the obscure fill until I hit CREPEY. CREPEY! I did get the happy pencil, but I am sad to live in a world where CREPEY is in the dictionary. CREPE-Y, maybe...

Alysia 11:33 AM  

I finished this, but only slightly. NW corner came last, last, last. And even though I've finished, I don't under stand ALOP. It's driving me ALOPping crazy! I looked it up, and I still don't understand. Will somebody please explain ALOP to me?!!?!?

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Too much obscure stuff. I'm not a fan when a puzzle comes down to whether you're lucky enough to know arcane things.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

SE was nearly a killer especially w/ veal piccata firmly in place. Finally saw the error of my ways and voila. tough, obscure stuff but finished.

Morton Downey, Jr. 12:00 PM  

Bygod, if I want to Google an answer I will. Commie.

Andrew Heinegg 12:17 PM  

I liked this puzzle in the main but, I have a few nits to pick. 35a spent is an incorrect clue for wiped. Tired would have been fine and that is what I originally filled in. It would need to be wiped out to be correct, in my view. I have never heard said that someone was wiped if they were dead tired. Nor have I ever heard it said that someone was wiped if they had spent all their money or lost all their poker chips.

I liked Massad, Visigoths and Cooper. Like many others, I could have done without crepey, lethe and bracken. When you complete a puzzle and there are some obscure words in it like the latter threesome, my quality test is: do I want or care to look up those words or remember them? My answer to the question in terms of these words is a fairly emphatic no.

mac 12:18 PM  

I loved this one. Several words I needed to get entirely from the crosses, but it was a worthy workout. So many threesomes in children's lit, I had visions of blind mice, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

Oh, and crepey. Yes, it's a thing. A very cruel person once told me to put a SPIEGEL on my table, right in front of me.

The pipet went right in, then came out for a while. Nice term, dawn raid, something I learned.

Nancy 12:32 PM  

I am so proud of myself for finishing this! What a challenge -- but absolutely fair. (Well, maybe except for CREPEY). There were just as many things I didn't know today as yesterday. but unlike yesterday, THEY WERE NOT ALL PROPER NAMES. Since I'm so late to the puzzle, I thought I'd skim all of you first to see if you had the same big early mistake as I did, but I don't see it. At 15A, the answer CIRCULAR went in and there it stayed. It had to be right, because the U fit with Bum DEAL and the C fit with ACNE. But it was wrong, and I sensed it was wrong, since I really wanted ERODES at 6D. But I couldn't think of another geometric shape with no sides that had the R I was looking for. What great misdirection on "sides" for ALA CARTE! Therefore, the NW was the last to fall.

Loved the clues for SPEED DATING, PIANOS, and OUR GANG; loved the answers WIDE EYED and DAWN
RAID (which I never heard of btw.) All you constructors out there who put in as many names as you can at every opportunity, take a gander at this puzzle. Very tough, but with no

@Kozmikvoid (10:32) -- Amen! (Great blog name, btw.)

Nekelleher 12:32 PM  

We had never heard of a vizsla either, until we got one. Hungarian pointers, also known as the Velcro dog, love being right next to you. As I type this, our Tully is in my lap. That he weighs 70 pounds is of no consequence.

JaxInLA 12:36 PM  

If you like magic you really should know about the floating lightbulb, a trick that was originated by Harry Blackstone, Sr., who was the one known as "The Great Blackstone." The trick was built for him by Thomas Edison and performed to enthusiastic audiences throughout the vaudeville circuit. Harry Jr. donated the original to the Smithsonian in 1965 on the 100th anniversary of his dad's birth. He kept doing the floating lightbulb trick with other equipment for years, though. It's very impressive.

I had the great pleasure of meeting the dynamic Harry Blackstone, Jr. when I was in high school. He inherited his dad's tricks, including the one where he uses a giant circular saw to "cut" a woman in half. His son, Harry III, was in my class (Redlands HS, class of 1977) when his dad may have been near the height of his fame. Our Harry played the lead in our production of Carousel. He had a great voice and all of his dad's charisma. He was really handsome, too. I sighed over him along with all the other girls in the chorus, and we all harbored dreams that he would take us to The Magic Castle in Hollywood, a famous restaurant that requires membership to enjoy, but which features great table magic and tricks everywhere, or so I hear (never did manage to get there). Harry Jr. created illusions for touring rock shows including for Michael Jackson, and he had some great tv shows, too. His wife and on-stage assistant, Gay, is still around, and I'm proud to say that the theatre at the new, neighboring high school in Redlands has his name.

I very much regret to say that Harry III died in an auto shop accident at a very young age, not long after we all graduated. It still makes me sad, but today's puzzle gives me a chance to honor a wonderful family of magicians who should not be forgotten, and to remember my classmate.

Glimmerglass 12:39 PM  

@Rex. Looks like this one beat you up pretty badly. Thanks for sharing your ignorance. I found it hard, but delightfully fun. Just because a puzzle spoils your time or even (God forbid!) gives you a DNF, that doesn't make it a bad puzzle. I never eat veal, but I still recognize MARSALA (my first guess was piccAtA). I do look at menus and food sections of newspapers. I remember goths and VISIgoths from highschool history (the VISIGOTHS were actually holograms, I seem to remember). How can you remember VEDA and not RIGVEDA? An AUKLET is not a baby auk just a smaller species. I wanted *blin(c?)ken* at 1A. My skin may or may not be CREPEY, but I've heard plenty of women my age complain about theirs. HI-Ho. Better luck next week.

Mark M. 12:40 PM  

Harry Blackstone was a very famous magician, as was his son, Harry Blackstone, Jr. Sr was performing in the mid part of the 1900s and Jr in the 70's and 80's but these were the days before the big names and Vegas shows came about, so their names are often forgotten. I would gaurantee that the Blackstones would be cited as an influence by Penn & Teller, Copperfield, Burton, etc. Google the trick in question, it really is pretty cool.

Z 12:48 PM  

@kozmikvoid - There is a wide range of normal. I know we've had commentators argue that an incorrect finish was still a finish. Others consider finishing by any means necessary a finish. Others eschew the Internet but dead tree resources are okay. Others solve in pairs with spouses, friends, or offspring. Others are okay with asking a person but not looking anything up. Some argue that googling is okay, but just coming to Rex to see the solution is a DNF. Each person's solve is their own. I consider any outside help a DNF now, but that's me. Whatever gets you through the night and all that.

@jae - I thought the comment didn't make it, I'll have to go double check. I think Simon is a bit forgotten recently. I'm also one of those people who wish he had written a few more albums for Artie's voice. I would have added the Motown hit writers, but their names weren't at the tip of my fingers.

Anon10:48 - Chicks would work, but if you think eggs are in the same category as veal I have to wonder what you consider sperm.

@Anon11:22 - Are you saying people who can solve this puzzle are unreasonable?

Z 12:54 PM  

@jae - it was a later comment, the one where I checked off the email box, that was lost. Lots of good comments I hadn't seen later in the day, including the heartfelt thank you from @LF for Nena. Anytime, @Leapy.

Chuck McGregor 12:56 PM  

After some footholds the NW and SE got filled in along with a couple in the opposing corners. That left this huge swath from NE to SW that was looking grim, even with VISIGOTHS and IBISES in place. Too much stuff where nothing clicked in the old (literally) brain.

Though determined, I finally had to cheat. I try to sort of minimize this by picking squares that aren’t “key” like the beginning of words. Failing that, I move on to key squares. Failing that, it’s on to revealing words. Near the end, I got to the latter “level” one time, revealing PIPET. I so wanted “pipette” as the answer, but obviously it didn’t fit. I couldn’t think of any other lab “_I___” vessel. Now I know it can also be PIPET.

As a sports fan, I had nothing for the bench thing. I forgot I also have and play the piano. If I look directly over the top of the lap top I see a piano with its bench. So, with the “P” revealed, I went back to 29a. You can figure out the rest. I’ll just say my forehead is red (and so is my face).

CHA > “Many a dance routine”” is a CHA CHA? When I knew I had to enter it, having the C and A, I said out loud, “Oh no. It can’t be!”

I had a similar “can’t be” reaction to SIC EM. Who teaches their dog that kind of command, except maybe to chase “varmints” (squirrels, rats, et al)?

Minor quibble with 53d PAS. The thing is a “PA system.” A “P-A” is also a thing. “The announcement came over the PA [or the PA system].” The letters P-A are Public Address “for short” -- when used with “system.” Used stand-alone “it” is a noun. So the answer to 53d “for short” when “spelled out” is Public AddresseS? Ergo, I think the “for short” should not have been nor needed to be included.

That said, a lot of clues and answers to like. Others have already agreeably chimed in on most, if not all, of the ones I would list.

SATARIZES TENOR (doesn’t Bugs Bunny do this in some of his cartoons?)

OBAMAS’ PIANOS (didn’t know that had one, let alone more)

MAMA BEAR DOUBLE (Sarah Palin, at least that what she claims)

WORN DOWN WREATH (by tradition around here, left up until 1st day of spring)

OUR GANG THERAPY (group hug)


SPIEGEL ONE (that first catalogue in 1905)

AMIDST SHREDS (how my pen / paper solve often appears)

MARE* ABSTAINERS (equinophobiacs or Jacques and Antoine don’t like to get their feet wet)
(*Fr.: pond)

ACNE ME TIME (puttin’ on the Clearasil)

PIPET LOSS (“See what you did? You broke it!” or the missing letters from PIPETTE)

SAY YES TO the MOSSAD (personally, something I would do, but that’s just me)


Nancy 12:56 PM  

Re: VIZSLA -- So on at least 3 occasions, as I was lying on the grass near the tennis courts in Central Park, reading the Times, I was blindsinded by something big and playful crashing into my right hip. She then snuggled up against me as though she would never leave. It was Tisha, the incredibly affectionate VIZSLA owned by a lovely woman named Molly, and Tisha had adopted me from the get-go. If Tisha is typical of the average VIZSLA, then this breed is as indiscriminately loving as any Golden or Lab. Apologies, Tisha, for not being entirely sure of the 4th letter of your breed, because your breed rocks.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Anonymous @ 11:22 - 100% agree.

TonySaratoga 1:01 PM  

Tough, tough, tough, and pretty fair. Loved crepey. I question CHA. And my RAWDEAL error made the NW a comedy of errors for me. No idea how METIME answers "What isn't working?"

Dolgo 1:10 PM  

This one was a challenge for me. I finally had to look at Rex's solution for "wideeyed/crepey." It was the y that got me--I got all the other letters. I usually don't complain about such things, but I have to say that I've never used "crepey" nor have I ever seen it in print. That being said, I should have been able to get it with "wideeyed," but the double "e's" got me! My bad! I enjoyed the challenge, though!

Happy Pencil 1:18 PM  

After the satisfaction of solving this puzzle (needed some time off in between, to see the answers I wasn't getting), I was hoping to come here and see a challenging rating. I'm surprised Rex rated it a medium, given all the areas he said he struggled with. I would say there were some easy parts, but overall it was hard but doable.

@Andrew Heinegg, have you really never heard someone say, "Whew, I'm wiped!"? I hear it all the time.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:35 PM  

Two technical questions:

(1) Can you get follow-up comments without posting a comment your self?

(2) How did I mess up this morning, so that my comment was posted under my real name rather than my Google Account name?

Dolgo 1:36 PM  

Veal Marengo. Supposedly concocted after the battle of the same name by Napoleon's cook.

Joe Bleaux 1:37 PM  

ALMOST more creepy than crepey :)

Dolgo 1:43 PM  

PS. My comment to all the whiners--if you can Google it, it's not unfair to put it in a crossword puzzle!

jae 1:55 PM  

@Mark - Those kind of shorts, of course, D'oh! I was partially mislead by thinking the OUR GANG movies were from the 30s and 40s, not the 20s and 30s.

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

Got this because I guessed "Lethe." Wanted "Visigoths" but kept getting hung up on the down clues. Viszla?!?! GMAFB.

Tim 2:35 PM  

DNF at RIGV_DA / CREP_Y. I wanted 38D to be RIGVaDA, but "crepay" obviously wasn't right, and I just could not see what that last letter is. I hereby declare that "crepey" is not cricket.

This one took me forever, in part because I kept guessing wrong. With M_TI__ filled in for "What isn't working?" I confidently added "MuTIny", which is probably the most clever wrong guess I've ever made. But it held me up in that quadrant for a long time.

Other bad guesses: HarD for HOOD, achE for STYE, D_____bID for DAWNRAID.

Great cluing: "Mixing and matching?", "Lacking any sides". Also loved "Drift" for TENOR.

Lots of sticky wickets. I'm going to be pleased I got as many right as I did and call it a day. Other than CREPEY I found it to be a fair puzzle overall, and not Medium but Hard (but uneven difficulty to be sure).

AliasZ 2:45 PM  

What's not to like about a puzzle that debuts VIZSLA? The VIZSLA is royalty among hunting dogs, in fact it was the dog of choice of Hungarian kings and nobility for centuries, its first written mention dating back to 1357. It is a super elegant dog, almost catlike in its cleanliness and is virtually odor free. The VIZSLA alongside other Hungarian breeds, like the Puli, Komondor and Kuvasz, are fairly common participants at Westminster dog shows.

First entries today: _A_ABEAR, VISIGOTHS, VIZSLA, RIGVEDA and OMNIA. The rest came with some difficulty in places. My least favorite entry is always a proper name that no one is expected to know. Today that infelicitous role fell on poor BLACKSTONE The Great. What the heck did Mr. or Ms. BLACKSTONE ever do to deserve a NYT crossword entry? One never knows, do one?

-- The SNAPPY|SIPPY crossing was zippy, I also loved the parenthetical clue pair.
-- WIDE EYED seemed to be a partial without its bushy tail.
-- "Things bench players need?" was the worst clue today. It is akin to cluing BULLS as "Things red cape wavers need?"

You may enjoy a brief section of this lovely work by Gustav Holst called "Choral Hymns from the RIG VEDA".

Enjoy your Saturday.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Just right for the recently old like me. BLACKSTONE a dim bell from before my time, SPIEGEL a staple AMIDST 70's game show prize lists. I kinda balked at the arbitrariness of CREPEY before coming here and being reminded of the skin connection. (@Loren Muse Smith in fine form today.). Yikes! CapCHA, that's not a waffle, it's a cobra!

Tita 3:08 PM  

@lms...agree with you on Toddler's handful clue.

@old timer...thanks for explaining why I thought the dance step answer was going to be "one".

Loved clue for ALACARTE.

I'll take the bait...eggs sold in supermarkets are unfertilized. Their only potential is omelets.

I'll also take kozmic's bait...
First of all, it's a play how you want.
2nd, it's a game. So it should be fun.
Sure, you will get better by putting it down and coming back an hour later, and by reading this blog, and by doing puzzles every day, and I appreciate your motive in suggesting that people shouldn't give up so quickly, but wow...
Unless you're at ACPT, rules don't apply.

Also, when you "cheat", you are learning much more important stuff than how to ace a crossword.
You learn details about ancient Sanskrit hymns, or music, or politics, ... ... ...

I attach degrees of cheating...
3rd degree is asking a family member/friend.
2nd degree is having the app blank out wrong letters.
1st degree (most egregious) is google.

Thanks, oh worthy constructors.

Btw...I had a 3rd-degree DNF today. The middle of the west slayed me. Asked my sister. (Though full disclosure...she had committed 1st-degree cheating before she got to my house...!)

Annette 3:51 PM  

Finished in well under my average Saturday, which is usually pitiful, so I'm happy. Auklet was a gimme since puffins are my family's mascots. Writeovers HARD before HOOD, ACHE before STYE, TUTTO before OMNIA, VYING before AT WAR. Truly loved this puzzle.

puzzle hoarder 5:29 PM  

Late to the table today. I'm back at work and the morning is a bad time to solve. There's too much going on. This marks the first time I've seen a mistake admitted to in this blog. What really surprises me is I recall him writing about studying African capitals.
This puzzle started out easily through the top third. After that it was a real workout. Vizla is completely new to me so I had to work around it's COOPERS make barrels so that went in slowly. I've always thought of BRACKEN as an alternative to underbrush not a particular plant. I wrote in BOSS before LOSS. I need to brush up on parenthetical. That's what was great about this puzzle, it often felt like I was out of my depth but I kept on coming up with answers n Ironically my one mistake was in the NE. I had started putting in ouzel for 16A not knowing how the spelling of it ended. UKE stopped that but I never checked 16A aging. DoWNRAID looked odd but not completely wrong. It was getting late for commenting so I went to the blog as soon as I finished. When I saw AUKLET in the text I realized my oversight but it was too late.

Chronic dnfer 5:49 PM  

Had vishla hard circular and whilst. Hence a Dnf. Oh well. On to sunday

Anonymous 5:50 PM  


@NCA_Prez seemed concerned about the future life potential for the young of the breed; I was simply taking it back one logical step in consider eggs. I wouldn't be too concerned about my um, eating habits curtailing the life potential of sperm until I start seeing them show up on the grocery aisle.


OISK 6:16 PM  

Difficult but doable for me. Was completely stumped in the SE until I went into Therapy, then On patrol, and I was home free. Veal Marsala is fine, although I usually order Francese...and omnia ( as in "Amor vincit..." went in early. A nice challenging Saturday.

Norm 6:16 PM  

Ah, puzzle.
With apologies to EBB:

How do I loathe thee
Let me count the ways

Know what?
I won't bother.
This one is definitely in the running for "worst puzzle of the year" in my books.


michael 6:24 PM  

I thought this was just about right for a Saturday. Challenging, but possible. I was able to guess a few things I didn't know (auklet, Ethan, crepey, bracken). I was stuck with "circular" for a while but "a la carte" is a much more Saturday-like answer.

"I'm wiped" is a common enough expression.

The two answers that broke up the puzzle for me were speed dating and says yes to.

Masked and Anonymous 7:09 PM  

Like the two dogs in the blog pic. @009: Anyone who considers all dogs as lapdogs is OK by me. thUmbsUp for the RexWorld dog shelter.

Like the two dawgs that made our SatPuz. SW corner definitely put up a fight, at our house. Overall, thUmbsUp snarl and bite rating.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

p.s. "Snowpiercer" is a primo schlock flick!

**gruntz with 0 Down clues!**

Pete 7:30 PM  

Just yesterday I was scanning the local shelters adoption lists, one of which had a VIZSLA mix. It reminded me of the name, but was no help with spelling. In other dog news, today we drove 1:15 to an adoption center - they had several beagles, which are of the size and temperament we are looking for. We found a dog, not a beagle, we wanted.

So, if we pass the background check re our personal character, our vet vouches for us, after bringing our current dog in mid-week for a meet and greet with the new pup, bring the plat of our 10 acre farm in, show photographs of the fencing, then maybe, just maybe, next weekend we can fork over the $450 to buy the stray.

Now I love dogs, and believe finding good homes for them is god's work. But somehow this whole "rescue" thing has gone way past reasonable.

Mohair Sam 7:31 PM  

One of our worst crashing and burnings ever. Our experience was similar to OFL's but yet worse. Zipped through the NW and then just hit a wall. Came back to the puzzle off and on through the day and SATIRIZES and VEALMARSALSA helped us plod along, but we eventually died a horrid death in the NE.

Spent the first half of my career working for Wall Street firms but never heard of DAWNRAID, don't know BLACKSTONE, nor LETHE, watched "The Searchers" for maybe the fifth time a few month's back but forgot ETHAN. Across we were dead on AUKLET, unaware of what topped maypoles, and just couldn't think of BRACKEN. Payback for all those puzzles that hit our sweet spots I guess.

No complaints, great Saturday test. VIZSLA and RIGVEDA wicked but gettable from crosses. Hand up with the MaSSAD crowd. CREPEY? Well, nothin's perfect.

Posting real late because I watched my hapless Sixers scare the hell out of the Warriors. Curry had to play the entire fourth quarter!

@Rex - Fine looking dogs.

Wednesday's Child 8:55 PM  

A really rough weekend. I thought Friday was tough but today was brutal. Not that I'm complaining, I'm okay with keeping my ego in check. But I won't really know if that's the case until next weekend. For all I know my mind is deteriorating. This could be the beginning of an inevitable decline.

Andrew Heinegg 10:05 PM  

No, I never have (honest!).

kitshef 11:32 PM  

Loved it. Really, really hard, but fair, and no garbage.

cees before ACNE, ache before STYE, but what really bamboozled me were words that I put in, got nowhere with, and took out, but that turned out to be correct (AMIDST, BADDEAL), and somehow filling in WIDEyeED for WIDEEYED. When I finally caught that error, I initially breathed a sigh of relief and it did get me VEAL, but my absurd CREP_E just became CREP_Y, which seemed equally absurd. I kind of assumed I had failed somewhere in my solve, what with nonsense like CREPEY and RIGVEDA and VIZSLA in the grid, but all was well.

BRACKEN is the most widely distributed fern in the world, and probably all of you have seen it. It grows head-high, is broadly triangular, and will take over your yard if you let it as it spreads quickly. It is one of the three ferns that everyone in the NE should know on sight (along with Christmas fern and New York fern).

Rob 4:26 AM  

DNF for me, even with help from my fiancée. (My personal rule for myself is no Googling and no help from anyone Googling, but if I'm stuck, an answer a friend knows offhand is fair game. And on the weekends the two of us do them together anyway, which is often a boon since she grew up watching tons of old movies and TV. We recently discovered that she had seen 97 of the AFI Top 100 films.) I was annoyed when changing to the web app to finish yesterday somehow lost me my streak, but apparently I needn't have worried, since I wasn't going to get this one anyway.

After finding out some of the ones I missed, I'm less annoyed with myself and more annoyed with the NYT. CREPEY? You have got to be kidding me. INST is BS as well. I hadn't really thought about it, but on reflection, I agree with @old timer that the clue for CHA is inaccurate.

BLACKSTONE is before my time, but as a kid my parents gave me a Blackstone-branded magic set. I nailed that one despite not knowing his signature trick -- like Jeopardy!, the clue giving me multiple possible ins is nice -- and was excited to see it. I liked the clues for A LA CARTE, SPEED DATING and OBAMAS. Didn't know VIZSLA, but it's fair enough.

Horrendous cluing for INST, which is atrocious fill to begin with.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:50 AM  

@kitshef - I think I know where those yard invaders come from: Wasn't there a movie a year or two ago with some evil Greek yelling, "Release the BRACKEN!"?

Eric Weber 12:41 PM  

Made the same M(a)ssad, Port(a) mistake, also had tired instead of wiped, got wide-eyed and never rechecked wired, which, of course, made no sense. very hard puzzle for me. liked metime, sippycup. love your anatomy of the puzzles. thx.

Burma Shave 9:20 AM  


it SATIRIZES LOSS and how WORNDOWN ONE will feel.
So SAYYESTO a drink,
and give METIME to think


rondo 11:03 AM  

First DNF of the syndicated new year. That whole VIZSLA RIVEDA CREPEY area combined with tIrED did not come together. Maybe if I’d looked at it longer, but I still had OFL’s PORTa error, so it still woulda been DNF. I did like getting the rest of it though.

Used to watch OURGANG shorts as a kid. Seems they were also called The Little Rascals. There’s an old joke involving Darla when Buckwheat was asked by the teacher, Ms. Crabapple, to use the word dictate in a sentence. You figure it out.

Was familiar with LETHE as I have a T-shirt with Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion plastered across the front. The original painting is in the Saint Louis Art Museum. Quite fantastic.

Did anyone else notice the DOUBLE letters in some multi-word answers? Like SPEE(DD)ATING, SA(YY)ESTO,WID(EE)YED, BA(DD)EAL. It’s like I DYED twice.

And not a yeah baby in sight. Total failure for me today. Soon time to hit the SIPPYCUP.

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

Gotta confess to a DNF. While I did NOT fall over any wrong spelling of MOSSAD, nor would any NCIS junkie, I did have enough WOEs to block my eastward progress. I should've known about the VISIGOTHS, but forgot. And the fatal error was the inability to let go of HarD for tough. Yeah, now that I see it I know that "tough" is a noun when referring to a HOOD. How I was supposed to get there is beyond me. The clue is SO misdirected as to be declared unfair. I so declare. INC.

leftcoastTAM 3:07 PM  

Liked this one, a lot more than yesterday's, and got a few chuckles as bonuses along the way.

OURGANG was one bonus; was my last entry in the NE, which was the last section to go. Another was PIANOS, which bench players surely would be lost without.

Outliers included CREPEY, which, you know, was kindasorta crappy. Another, of course, was RIGVEDA.

My mate helped with BRACKEN, which, by my own strict rules, makes this a technical DNF for me.

Cathy 3:17 PM  

Was sailing along (on a Saturday, yay) till RIGVEDA VIZSLA area. Wha wha wha...plop.

My cats encouraged me to google and get it over with. Yep. Their the culprits in the finished/did not finish battle. They got their tuna treats. I learned new things. Win win.

I'm thinking of rafting down the LETHE river with a few beers, in shorts and a tank top. Time has taken a toll...:)

Diana,LIW 3:25 PM  

Sometimes HOW you know something is stranger than WHAT you know. And I did not know a lot of these answers, so I admitted to the dnf early on, looked up some WOEs, and proceeded to play with the rest of the wordplay clues. Cheating? Yes. But also learning new things, and honing skills for the day I graduate puzzle third grade.

Happened upon an infomercial the other day with Jane Seymour (there's your yeah baby, Rondo) shilling for a magical cream called "Crepeerase" so crepey came easily. Knew the Visigoths from a Maggie Smith line in "A Room With a View."

I, too, noticed the double letter words, and wondered (since DOUBLE was in the puz) if that was a bit of a theme.

I enjoyed finishing it up, but can't say I finished this puzzle off.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for answers I've never heard of

BS2 5:28 PM  

@Cathy - SAYYESTO METIME after time. Not ONE,TENOR more.CHA.

leftcoastTAM 7:28 PM  

@kozmicvoid (well above, real time):

Yes, this issue has been raised before by others (including me), but it does require raising from time to time. I think there are many who "finish" or "solve" with help, but are reluctant to acknowledge it.

Yours is well stated.

D_Johnson 8:38 PM  

CREPEY was the very last to go for me, but I made the same mAssad mistake that Rex did. I didn't know VIZSLA, but the crosses got it for me. A good straightforward puzzle.

Diana,LIW 9:09 PM  

Just a PS or two:

After completing (or not finishing) the puz, I often show some of the best/worst (in one's opinion) clues/answers to Mr. Waiting. He does not do puzzles. He often groans, or says "bad...bad constructor." Today, he did not know RIGVEDAs - go figure. Then I showed him the clue for bench players. Without hesitation he said "pianos." He said, Oh, they went with the obvious answer." Have I created a monster?

@Cathy - I find it really annoying when my cats cause me to cheat. It's all about them, ya know? "Get that d*** puzzle off your lap when I should be there." OTOH, they must be obeyed. Or your sofa will be in SHREDS.


rain forest 11:45 PM  

I've heard the 'wheelhouse" statement before, and I now know what it means to not be in one. Hungarian dogs?? Sanskrit hymns?? Early blocks of stocks??
I tell you, DAWN RAID floors me. That clash of consonants for the dog, and the complete unknown for the Sanskrit stuff were all in areas where I have little or no knowledge. So, a massive DNF, although I got roughly 3/4 of this puzzle. A moral victory, if not a Pyrrhic one.

So, a bear of a puzzle for me, but I enjoyed the challenge. The whole West side was pretty good, although I thought CREPEY was a crappy answer.

Anyway, I'll live to fight another day. I must go read a translation of the RIGVEDA. It's probably riveting.

Longbeachlee 6:24 PM  

I was so sure on this one, and surprised that no one else realized immediately, that bench players need Beano.

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