Postwar German nickname / FRI 1-22-16 / Viking girl in How to train your Dragon / Chuck who advised Nixon / Winter wear resembling overalls / Old sandlot game

Friday, January 22, 2016

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: NANETTE Lepore (22D: Fashion designer Lepore) —
Nanette Lepore (born January 1, 1964) is an American fashion designer based in New York City. New York magazine has said that "her gypsy-influenced designs are feminine and youthful. The looks are full of bold colors and bright prints, with ruffles and lace that manage to look good-time-girly but not overly frilly." (wikipedia)
• • •

Finished with facility, aka EASE. Despite the fact that there were a bunch of names I didn't know, and the puzzle seemed to be anchored in a past I never lived in (i.e. that misty time of my ELDERS, when DER ALTE squared off against Chuck COLSON in a rousing game of ONE O'CAT ...), the puzzle proved remarkably tractable. This was largely because the long answers were so easy to get. Got all the long Acrosses with somewhere between zero and three of the answers' first letters. When you can walk across all levels of the grid that easily, there's probably not going to be much that can slow you down. The whole thing felt pretty tepid, for the most part, though I really liked GLUTEN-FREE PASTA, both because it's a modern answer and because the clue was intriguingly inscrutable. [Rice elbows, e.g.] —> "elbows" definitely had me thinking pasta, but ... I was also imagining the elbows of Condoleeza and Jerry and the Owls of Rice U.

Very rare to have a themeless puzzle constructed by a woman. I don't know what the stats are, but I feel like, out of the ~104 themeless puzzles each year, maybe 5 are constructed, in part or in total, by women. I don't know if it's a coincidence (it probably is), but there seemed to be a Lot of women's names in this puzzle: ASTRID, NANETTE, BETSEY, CLARICE, and EVA. Women outnumber men as answers, which ... again, I have no idea how often this actually happens, but I want to say "not often." Wait, no ... looks like there are six men, if you count DANTE (plus DER ALTE, KEL, SWEE PEA (swee' pea was a dude, right?), Lance ITO, and that COLSON guy) (shoulda made that answer COLSON Whitehead, one of whose many virtues is being alive now). Oops, also STAN LEE. So I take back the outnumbering part. But the fact that five women's names *feels* like a lot—the fact that I noticed—tells you something about how low the Expectation Bar has been set. Not much else to say about this one except INATREE will never be not terrible, unless the clue is something involving "K-I-S-S-I-N-G."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:41 AM  

Yes, easy again. BEQ's medium Thurs. was tougher than this. That said, it's a pretty solid Fri. Had old men before ELDERS and acurAS before TESLAS, but that was it.

No idea what PENTANE is...according to wiki it's used to make foam.

Nice set of interlocking 15s, liked it.

AliasZ 1:14 AM  

Sorry to say, this was not my favorite Paula Gamache puzzle by a long shot. The number of people's names, brands, skibibs and edates killed it. Not knowing many of the names made it impossible for me to get much enjoyment solving it, even when, after running the alphabet, the answers were accepted. The result: an unsatisfied shrug -- not unlike when eating GLUTEN FREE PASTA.

Of the long entries I liked DANTE'S INFERNO and BACK IN THE SADDLE, the rest, rather lukewarm.

Soprano ASTRID Varnay was born in Stockholm to Hungarian parents (née Ibolyka Astrid Mária Várnay). She had a 55-year illustrious career that started at The Met in 1941, as replacement for Lotte Lehmann -- with little rehearsal -- in Wagner's Die Walküre. Here she is Lady Macbeth.

TGIF -- enjoy it.

Carola 1:49 AM  

Easy, with the somewhat irritating name-heaviness offset by the enjoyable cluing. My anchor was the C in COLSON x CLARICE, the L of which led me to GLUTEN-FREE PASTA and the many opportunites that opened up. Favorite moment was when the complex devices I was envisioning with roTATing somethings turnied out to be POTATO PEELERS. Interesting to see Judge ITO BACK IN THE crossword SADDLE again.

puzzle hoarder 1:55 AM  

Yesterday's puzzle was roundly trashed for being too easy. Today's should fare much better as its a handsome well made puzzle albeit an easy one. Started with Teslas and everything else fell in place. Colson was from memory the other "old" things that were mentioned are shop worn answers. I was briefly hung up in the NW thinking that 1D was singular and had 2 tees. That and 3D is new to me. Even with that this was only 7 minutes longer than yesterday's.

Dolgo 3:50 AM  

I agree with most of what Rex said. It's interesting that the longer answers are so much easier than the shorter ones, even when they're fairly obscure (gluten free pasta). Even though it was fairly easy, it was fun! I'm embarrassed to say that the hardest clue for me and the last one finally to SINK IN was "registers"!

Anonymous 5:16 AM  

Some good entries but too much trivia.

Anonymous 5:31 AM  

Small trouble in the sw corner with pentane and one o'cat and Betsey. Otherwise, very entertaining 15 minutes or so.

Speaking of one o'cat, wondering if it will stir the outrage recently seen here regarding the missing tilde in el nino. Hope so. That was so enjoyable.

I saw this in a Will Shortz interview in the NYT from 2001:

By convention, diacritical marks are ignored in American crosswords, so don't worry about that tilde in "nino."

Unknown 6:14 AM  

Must have been'easy', my first time finishing a Friday Times crossword.

Hungry Mother 7:00 AM  

Whew, long answers were easy, but some of the shorter ones were puzzling.

Phil 7:05 AM  

Why would they call a boy swee(t)pea.

Had substitutePASTA for awhile but all the longs were easier than usual as per Rex.

SERA baffled me till the bitter end and don't know TESSERA. Had madonna for the byzantine art bit for as long as i could.

Enjoyable puzzle but tough enough for me.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

Keenan, sarcastically (in recent anti-millennial sketch on SNL) "oh, great. We're talking about gender again." The longs were all delightfully unforced and natural. Which part of rice is the elbow?

Loren Muse Smith 7:22 AM  

Yeah, Rex, I noticed all those names, too, but not the fact that they were men or women, just that I didn't know so many: COLSON, STAN LEE, ASTRID, NANETTE, BETSEY, EVA, REA, KEL. . .But I got'em with the crosses, so fair enough.

Some missteps:

"signs in" for SINK IN
"tees" for SERA – bet I join a CAST OF THOUSANDS on that goof.
"cravat" for ASCOTS. I love it when the clue disguises a plural.
"elk" for EEL because I just couldn't believe it was EEL. Plus, there was this one time in Innsbruck when I grabbed and elk by the tail, and, well, it still took hours to catch him.

GLUTEN FREE PASTA – so, so current and in the language. And tough to cook without ending up with a big, cantaloupe-size sticky glob of ick.

I don't think I ever thought of LARD as a verb. Would a DEFENSE ATTORNEY LARD the discovery documents to try to bury all the damning stuff?

I had an Austrian boyfriend who was gobsmacked by POTATO PEELERS. Thing is, he always accidentally called'em "potato healers." Bought several to take home to his willage in Steiermark.

SINK SIN – trying to put the peels down the disposal. Just don't, unless you have a plumber on speed dial.

Gotta replace the ink cartridge and print out a bunch of old themelesses in case I lose power. Good luck, everyone, if you're about to get pummeled with snow.

Brett Hendrickson 7:26 AM  

It took some doing, but I finally got this one. Trouble spots were the cross of ONEOCAT and BETSEY (didn't know either of these) and KEL and SINKSIN. Never heard of KEL and so had SINGSIN for "registers", because that also sort of makes sense.

GILL I. 7:27 AM  

I didn't think this was EASy at all. I guess I was proud of myself for getting the long answers but everything else around them made me wince a bit - or at least frown in frustration.
The clue for SWEEPEA...Comics tyke? was a bit out there. I mean Pogo and Little Orphan Annie fit the category as well. Really, SWEEPEA was the illegitimate son of Bluto...just say it!
Did like the FRACTAL clue and CAST OF THOUSANDS was primo. Stan Lee deserves at least a mention of his MARVELous comics.
Some really nice answers after I Googled a lot because I couldn't get ASTRID (though I saw the film with the kids) nor did I remember CLARICE of fava bean fame and how could I forget Chuck COLSON?...but I did and for the life of me I can't figure out why a SERA is a shot putters' need.... Que sera sera?

Z 7:50 AM  

Hmmmm, I liked this less than Rex. I counted 16 trivial trivia answers (17 if you count DANTE, part of the old white guy canon that nobody actually reads thanks to Spark Notes), three awful answers and two more OMFG NO answers (EDATES and ONE O'CAT). Unlike Rex, I count GLUTEN FREE PASTA as terrible on at least three levels: if it's rice it's not PASTA, GLUTEN FREE is one of those really annoying diet fads (unless you are one of those people who actually has celiac disease), and it uses up 15 squares (which is fine when the answer actually sparkles rather than reminding me that people will believe all kinds of nonsense). I'm also not sure that FRACTAL is a shape. Circle, square, triangle, those are shapes. A FRACTAL is more of a recurring shape, but the actual shape can vary, one FRACTAL may look nothing like some other FRACTAL. Hmmmm. Unless a mathematician comes in to correct me I'm adding that to my terrible answer list.

Solved it, but more like a Saturday to me and very sloggy.

Unknown 8:12 AM  

I found it hard (especially the NW corner) but enjoyable. I like the clue/answer to GLUTENFREE PASTA but I do not respect your gluten allergy nor do I understand why it has to ruin all the pies at Christmas.

Unknown 8:12 AM  

I found it hard (especially the NW corner) but enjoyable. I like the clue/answer to GLUTENFREE PASTA but I do not respect your gluten allergy nor do I understand why it has to ruin all the pies at Christmas.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:24 AM  

Another super-easy puzzle. As I completed the first four lines or so, I thought it might be some kind of joke, with mostly proper names, most of which I knew. I could imagine the screams from those who prefer improper names.

Hand up for SIGNS IN >> SINKS IN.

Liked it.

Charles Flaster 8:46 AM  

Agree with Rex.
Very straightforward especially the longs.
Loved SERA( best misdirect in a long time.
Is STAN LEE becoming a part of CrosswordEASE??
Thanks PG.

Unknown 8:55 AM  

Sera? Can someone explain this?

Mischa Harple 8:58 AM  

Ugh. Too many names, brands and trivia. Outside of the trivia which I didn't know, it was too easy. Not a fun puzzle.

@Loren Muse Smith: I put my potato peels in the disposal with impunity. I've never had a problem.

Sir Hillary 9:00 AM  

Yeah, a bit heavy on proper names, and EDATES is just the worst. But, cool grid shape, only 64 words and it put up a fight, so I count this one as a winner.

My snowboarding daughter mocks a SKIBIB as something only ELDERS wear.

Short-lived mess-ups: SIgnSIN and tensOFTHOUSANDS. Nice clue on the latter.

Good stuff -- thanks, Paula!

shari 9:02 AM  

I stll don't get sera, unless it refers to fluid used for injections by a shot putter?

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Think syringe putter.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

I never really enjoy a puzzle that's this name-heavy -- even when some of the names are in my wheelhouse. DER ALTE, ITO, and COLSON were gimmes; and even though I avoided "Silence of the Lambs" like the plague (not a Nancy movie), they kept showing that awful fava bean scene on TV, and therefore the name CLARISE is in the ether. But ASTRID and BETSEY and NANETTE and KEL and ASDELCO (am I right, or did I Natick on the last two?) -- fuhgeddaboutit! DANTE'S INFERNO let me into the puzzle, and CAST OF THOUSANDS and BACK IN THE SADDLE were long answers I liked a lot. But mostly, I didn't like this much at all.

Steve M 9:23 AM  

Right up my alley for a wonderful Friday

Wm. C. 9:25 AM  

@Gill I --

Hands up on not getting why "Sera" filled in on the crosses for "Shot Putters' Needs." Until I Sussex out that a nurse that gives you shots in the arm needs a good serum supply. ;-)

Ludyjynn 9:30 AM  

If we have to see EEL in a puzzle, this was the best ever clue for it.

STAN LEE went in first. He was just featured on "CBS Sunday Morning". He seems like a lovely man who is still mentoring others.

Overall, I enjoyed this one, which fell medium for me. I guessed right at SERA, but still don't get it. Anyone?

Now I'm off to solve yesterday's puzzle. Paper was not delivered til this morning due to weather snafu at DC distrib. ctr. I spent too much time yesterday yelling at so-called customer service reps. to waive the digital puzzle subscription fee for the day since it was their fault I didn't get my paper puzzle. BTW, the digital NYT is free to paper subscribers, w/ the exception of the puzzle. I could not get a rational explanation from anyone why I should have to pay extra for the puzzle on line, when I'd already paid for it on paper. They would revert to scripted non-responsive BS. I am awaiting a call back from some unnamed higher up. Like that will ever happen. May write directly to CEO or say screw it. Looks like I won't be getting the Saturday or Sunday paper/puzzles either, since the media is hyping the upcoming snowstorm this evening as another "snowmageddon".

Gotta fill all the bird feeders before the onslaught.

Thanks, PG and WS.

thfenn 9:50 AM  

So, after labouring through yesterday and trying to get a grip on better detecting themes I run into a themeless. But, I managed to complete it with relatively little googling and sneak peaks here, so that's a win. Enjoyed seeing COLSON, what with Watergate and the Ellsburgs more or less defining my formative years (All the President's Men - with that line about Colson having that Teddy Roosevelt quote on his desk - "when you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow" - is to this day still a favorite movie of mine).

Was relieved, and pleased, that the long downs and acrosses fell into place so easily, whether worthy of a Friday or not. QUELL before SITON slowed me down for a bit. And still no idea how SERA becomes "shot putters' needs?".

Trombone Tom 9:52 AM  

Pretty much what @Rex said. This was very easy and straightforward for a Friday. Liked POTATO PEELERS and BACK IN THE SADDLE. Sympathy for those having problems with SERA as that was the last to fall for me. Very good misdirection on that clue. (Think of someone giving hypo shots.) Tried SWAmpED for SWATHED. Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle Ms. Gamache.

Lobster11 9:53 AM  

Agree with all those who said it was mostly "easy," as well as those who complained about it being too name-heavy.

Unfortunately, everything I didn't know, including many of those proper nouns, crossed something else I didn't know, leaving me Natticked in several places: ASTRID/TESSERA/DERALTE, CLARICE/COLSON, ONEOCAT/BETSEY. I was able to guess most of those missing letters correctly, but I don't like to have to do that much guessing.

Hartley70 9:56 AM  

@The Rhino, so you have one of those in the family too? Would that it was "just" the pies at Christmas! Try nearly every bloody family favorite item on the menu. I'd like a doctors note please.

I liked this one. POTATOPEELER was a fun surprise. FRACTAL is such a meaty sounding word that I'd like to give it a couple of dozen meanings so I could use it more often.

My time was a little faster than usual, but it didn't feel easy. I had very little as a gimme at the beginning, just CLARICE and COL--N because he was just stuck on the tip of my tongue

The last to fall was the R in SERA and the K in SINKS because I wanted signs. Oops, Ace of Base "ear worm of the day" has been triggered.

Maruchka 9:56 AM  

A modest, yet respectable, Friday. I'm also averse to proper names, computer lingo, celebrities, But this was inoFFENSive and fun. Loved POTATO PEELERS (after visualizing that they indeed swivel) and BACK IN THE SADDLE. If I had @Alias Z's chops, there'd be a link here to Gene Autry.

Haven't seen FRACTALs in donkey years. Vaguely recall a TV show or movie where they loomed large..

Oddly, we had many 'Silence of the Lambs' resonances at cocktail hour last night. Is he back???

Thanks, Ms. Gamache.

@Nancy - Yeah, it's CLARICE. Knew DELCO, but not the AC. I guess it's a battery thing.

@Brett H - SINGS IN for register is brilliant!

Z 10:07 AM  

@Nancy - It is CLARICE/AC DELCO in natickville.

One who puts a shot in your arm or cheek is a "shot putter." Not to be mistaken with Ernie Els, who oft is a putter not a putter. And it is sera as in serum, not as in Que Sera Sera.

@LMS - I've never had to call a plumber post POTATO PEELERS use. I just call it a peeler, since I use it to peel all sorts of non-potatoes, and whether carrot or tater or turnip, the peeled remenats all go into the disposal.

@Gill I - I always assumed Popeye was the Pa.

@Anon7:06 - I think it is connected to rice's humerus.

Tita 10:15 AM  

I came of political age during Watergate, and lapped up every word being written about the investigation and about Nixon. That name was completely new to me!

I really liked this puzzle...I *almost* finished last night...but the NW was seriously intractable.
Had T___SA_D_, so threw in ACASTFTHOUSANDS while still too bleary-eyed to know what I had done.
Made me erase my early RET at 4D.
Don't know the Dragon show.
cravaTS ad encasED nailed that corner shut.
But this morning over some Joe I was able to see the light.

(Couldn't see all 5 planets this morning, though. Trees and light pollution hid all but Mars, Jupiter and Venus. I'd like to say I also saw Saturn, but that would be wishful thinking. Fuggedabout Mercury. And just stop thinking about Uranus, for once.)

Loved all the long acrosses. Oddly, I like ONEOCAT, which I learned from Shortzian-era puzzles.
Liked learning that Audobon was born in Haiti - will read up more on that later.

Thanks, Paula!!!

archaeoprof 10:19 AM  

So this was easy for a Friday. So what?
Have worked with ISRAELI students and faculty from Bar-Ilan University. Good people.

Unknown 10:26 AM  

@ Nancy 10:03 AM yesterday: “I had hoped to go through my entire life without once seeing a Twitter message”

A most lovely lady is Nancy,
But computers are not her fancy.
Neither at tweets will she look,
Nor be friends on Facebook.
Says Nancy, “It's just schmancy necromancy.”

(You might have to work the rhythm on that last line. Hint: don’t accent the ‘just.’)

Weird (why isn’t it ‘i’ before ‘e’? Don’t see no ‘c.’) thing about me. The urge to write a limerick about someone more or less just pops up on fairly rare occasions. A little voice just says, “This needs a limerick.” And, no, I didn’t know that last word before I started, but it fit the thought I had exactly. Seems a fine xword word…lots of letters to like…. but maybe for a Saturday. Also, I have often used the ever-so-redundant phrase “fancy-schmancy.” Both words were gimmes to include somewhere.

Re: Her Twitter thought….me, too!

WELL!! Today made up for yesterday’s easy romp. Four grid-spanning answers flanked by six and seven letter ones plus the two thirteen letter ones slicing across the grid’s center.

Going through all the across clues, I had firmly written in ITO. That’s it. For the downs I had namesake Chuck COLS(e?o?)N, but nothing else I could be sure of enough to pen in, though I had several guesses. So I fired up my laptop to get ready for some serious cheating with the on-line NYT grid. I thought I was really up A TREE (IN A TREE being one of my guesses with no crossing help).

Speaking of serious, I then got serious about more carefully reading the clues along with my initial relatively pure guesses. STRIPER was one of the latter (used to fish for them). Looked at the 53d clue, parsed it (incorrectly) with my ancient (as in studied a long time ago) Latin and (correctly) decided the clue meant daytime. 37d was a plural so liked STRIPER and in it went along with DIA.

Worked the upper downs to see if my DANTES INFERNO guess might be right and decided it probably was.

Little by little I similarly dug around my brain to come up with more stuff. That along with some good guesses, and to my surprise, I eventually got it all. I only did one letter check that I was quite sure of anyway and was correct (the P in 33). My only write-over was changing ‘sign” to SINK for 10d. (My hand is up!)

Staring at the finished puzzle, I will not be puzzled if others say they finished it with EASE. Apart from the fact I love any puzzle I can finish nearly or completely on my own, I really liked the challenge (for me) this one offered. Crosses made several unknown proper names fair. (What else could a female Viking name with A_ _R_D but ASTRID? But I don’t know what she GETS AT.)

I agree with @jae 12:41 AM – “Solid,” and @Dolgo 3:50 AM – “It was fun!”


Mr. Benson 10:29 AM  

Am I alone in thinking this might well be the least Scrabbly grid I have ever seen? The puzzle wasn't hard overall, but the preponderance of what Rex has called ANTLERS letters made it difficult for me to find traction in places.

Mr. Benson 10:31 AM  

@Patrick Riley: SERA = plural of serum. "Shot putters" in the clue are people who put shots into other people.

Bronxdoc 10:38 AM  


Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Funniest scene I witnessed. Chinese restaurant In queens ny that had tanks with live fish chosen for dinner. A Waiter netted a good sized eel which escaped and slithered under tables as patrons yelled and stood on chairs. I almost never can do a Friday so this was really easy or I'm really old.

LaurieG in Connecticut 11:23 AM  

thanks for the print out suggestion!

Andrew Heinegg 11:23 AM  

When you see a familiar name as the author, Berry, Gamache, Chen, etc., you tend to judge the puzzle by the standard(s) of past efforts by the current puzzle constructor and other 'professional' constructors. By that measure, this one is a little too vanilla for my taste. But, that said, it did provide some answers that I did not know or remember and was able to get through crosses, e.g., Tessera, Colson and oneocat. And it is not often enough remembered in evaluating puzzles that getting an answer that you do not know or cannot figure out from the clue is one of the true pleasures of crossword solving. So, kudos to you Ms. Gamache, whose name always makes me think of ganache. That is not a bad thing to think of!

puzzle hoarder 11:31 AM  

Sera is related to the word serum the fluid portion of blood which can be centrifuged out, very similar to plasma. It's not something you'd normally mix in a syringe with medication so I was a little confused by it too at fist. I was looking for that 3rd letter of 25A. Once I figured out the Ist letter was S not T sera popped up immediately and went in IVP (intra venous push).

Lewis 11:39 AM  

Did our constructor sneak her initials in with RATEDPG???

So, as the snow blanket is thickening outside, it has been nice to work through this one. There were 11 answers I didn't know (ASTRID, CLARICE, DERATE, FRACTAL, BETSEY, SKIBIB, PENTANE, TESSERA, NANETTE, EVA, and STRIPER) but they were fairly crossed, except for my Natick of EVA/NANETTE. Starting at a disadvantage like this and still successfully completing the puzzle leaves me with a good feeling. Thank you Ms. Paula.

There's a mini-theme of double E's (7). I loved all the 15s, plus UPATREE and SWATHED (what a gorgeous word!). Lovely clues for GETSAT, ONTAP, IDEFENSEATTORNEY, CASTOFTHOUSANDS, and SERA. Let's call this one Snowed In And Satisfied.

Leapfinger 11:47 AM  

Let's see can we silkify the sow's ear of too many names.

ASTRID: The lovely sound of ASTRIthe, bathed and SWATHED in Sotheby's clothing, and maybe wearing Louisa May ASCOT'S.
CLA-Reese: can never separate out from HLecter's sibilance. CLARICE elbows EVA OR NATE with impunity. And a nice Chianti.
No No NANETTE Lepore -- Cute, but EVAh so pricey
SWEE'PEA?? Does this pass the Taste Test?
ELDERS' ADAGES: My mind GETS AT the gestalt of DER ALTE -- his narrow gaze had seen it all -- but I HAITI can't picture Chuck COLSON, though I know he had a big start in Pay Per View.
I picked up some archeology from my neighbour, a Classicist, who worked on digs in ITALy and ISRAEL. The years they lived next door were(was?) the TESS ERA.
Nicki Minaj A TROIS. E-Nuff of that.

Hey, I recycle my impunity, but POTATOPEELs always disposed of nicely. Just don't try it with Artichoke Leaves, the choke will never leave.

Ian: "What's your favourite body part and entree?"
Ian: "Why GLUTE?"
Dean: "Ever try to GET SAT BACK IN THE SADDLE without 'em? It'll bother you no END."
Ian: "Why FREE PASTA?"
Dean: "I just HAITI got TOuPEE for ITAL, Ian."

Enjoy all y'all's wintry mix; so far some ice, no Olive 'r Twist

Leapfinger 11:50 AM  

Let's see can we silkify the sow's ear of too many names.

ASTRID: The lovely sound of ASTRIthe, bathed and SWATHED in Sotheby's clothing, and maybe wearing Louisa May ASCOT'S.
CLA-Reese: can never separate out from HLecter's sibilance. CLARICE elbows EVA OR NATE with impunity. And a nice Chianti.
No No NANETTE Lepore -- Cute, but EVAh so pricey
SWEE'PEA?? Does this pass the Taste Test?
ELDERS' ADAGES: My mind GETS AT the gestalt of DER ALTE -- his narrow gaze had seen it all -- but I HAITI can't picture Chuck COLSON, though I know he had a big start in Pay Per View.
I picked up some archeology from my neighbour, a Classicist, who worked on digs in ITALy and ISRAEL. The years they lived next door were(was?) the TESS ERA.
Nicki Minaj A TROIS. E-Nuff of that.

Hey, I recycle my impunity, but POTATOPEELs always disposed of nicely. Just don't try it with Artichoke Leaves, the choke will never leave.

Ian: "What's your favourite body part and entree?"
Ian: "Why GLUTE?"
Dean: "Ever try to GET SAT BACK IN THE SADDLE without 'em? It'll bother you no END."
Ian: "Why FREE PASTA?"
Dean: "I just HAITI got TOuPEE for ITAL, Ian."

Enjoy all y'all's wintry mix; so far some ice, no Olive 'r Twist

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

I'm with @phil phil --- I had TESSELA (back-formation from "tesselation" or so I thought) for a long time, because SERA didn't come to me; how is "Shot putters' needs" a valid clue for SERA, anyway? I didn't reject SELA outright thinking it might be some Greek word for stone ball. I had to drift pretty far before I thought of a medical interpretation---doctors don't "put" a shot!!!

"Snowflake or crystal" made me enter HEXAGON, which interestingly (or not) has the same letter count as FRACTAL---grrr. But I admit FRACTAL is a gem.

All in all pretty easy for a Friday, up to my block in the NW.

Master Melvin 12:07 PM  

Chuck Colson had a sign on the wall of his White House office that read something like "When You've Got Them by the Balls Their Hearts and Minds Will Follow". He found Jesus just in time to go to jail and begin a new career as a right wing prison evangelist.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

@LMS: the trick is to have the disposer running and the water at full force when you feed the peels into the disposer, and feed them in slowly. If you dump them all in at once and then start the disposer, you're pretty much guaranteed to clog things up.

Joseph Michael 12:09 PM  

Too many proper nouns (27% of puzzle), but I liked the puz in spite of that. The long entries were good and there was very little LARD. Really liked GLUTEN FREE PASTA.

Got stumped by the clue for SERA. Thinking of a nurse with a syringe as a "shot putter" is stretching it, to say the least.

Robso 12:12 PM  

So "sera" for "shot putters" is the plural of "serum?" Hmmm. Remind me to get my flu shot put . . . on my arm.
Anyways, overall I liked this. Thanks Paula Gamache!

OISK 12:33 PM  

Happy to have finished it - no DNF for me since last Friday. But I don't like the NE, with two product names, both pertaining to cars, AC Delco and Teslas, right next to each other, and crossed by Clarice Starling (who???) Can't blame anyone for spelling it Clarise, but i had some vague recollection that it was AC and not AS Delco, and I was spared. Never heard of Chris Rea, Kenan's partner Kel, (??) Astrid the Viking girl, Eva Green, Nanette Lepore... just too many obscure (to me) proper nouns to make the solve pleasurable. But it was constructed well enough to make it solvable anyway, and no hip-hop, rap, or rock lyrics, so I should be grateful...

An OK Friday, as far as I am concerned. Now to "Google" "Kel" Kel???

Masked and Anonymous 1:02 PM  

@muse: hand up for the potato peelins down the disposal problem. Best wishes to U, @Lewis, and all other good folks in the path of that real big snow. Some runtz at can now be printed off as Across-Liters, which could serve to use the last dab of yer old ink cartridge. As long as power stays on, recommend binge-watchin "Longmire" on Netflix.

Liked the crossin grid-spanner answers, in this one. Also, kinda cute grid design. KTS was fave weeject POC desperado-combo. Played medium-level difficult, for m&e, mostly becuz of names that I had to construct out, as I went along. Especially ASTRID and BETSEY. fave fillins: STANLEE. RATEDPG. ACDELCO. SKIBIB. We now have a neck-and-neck winter NYTPuz race between SKIBOB and SKIBIB, at 2 appearances each, with none by PB1.

FRACTAL! har. yo, @Q.
SIGNSIN, before SINKSIN. yo, @almosteverybody.

Thanx to Ms. Gamache, for the brain-o-cat exercise. The U-crew did not get much of a workout, tho.

Masked & Anonymo1Us

**chainsaw plumbing gruntz**

Tita 1:26 PM  

@Rhino - lol...
Though I am grateful for the craze, because it has caused a huge spike in the number of establishments that carry hard cider, which has always been a favorite of mine. Only down side is that all the small cider mills have been gobbled up by the giant beverage conglomerates.

Hand up for the popular tees before SERA, which also contributed to the difficulty in the NW.
And also loved INATREE (I learned to read with Charles Schultz) and GLUTENFREEPASTA. In fact, fun enough to make me forget about the too-many names.

@Gill - "Que sera sera?" Priceless!!!!

@Ludy - I would be happy to send you the puz or pdf, as it is obvious you are entitled to it. Just email me...

Z 1:29 PM  

Machiavelli pretty adamantly argued that no matter how much you squeeze the balls the heart and mind don't follow. History is on Nick's side. Does explain a lot, though. Nixon is often described as Machiavellian. He and his coterie of fools actually behaved, though, as if he'd only read the Cliff Notes version of The Prince. I also subscribe to the idea that The Prince is best understood if you imagine that Jon Stewart or John Oliver wrote it. Read it in their voice and see if it doesn't make a lot more sense.

Teedmn 1:38 PM  

I kept being distracted while solving this over my lunch hour so that's what I'm blaming for the three-DNF finish today. DER ArTE/COrSON? I was 7 years old when Konrad Adenauer died and for some reason I don't remember COLSON at all amongst Nixon's cronies. Then there was my breakthrough on 1A when I decided the A, R and D stood for ASgRID (too many crossword grids, I think) even though I've seen the movie and the sequel. And I left the R in SERA blank by accident. Humph.

I had a Ewe in at 30D because it was the only three letter animal starting with E that I could think of. But now I realize that although the 30D quote starts with "An", indicating a vowel in the next word, it wasn't until I started this sentence that I realized Ewe would be precluded as an answer for that very reason since Ewe doesn't start with a "vowel sound". Hah! PEELERS fixed that anyway.

A rather odd Friday puzzle with all the long grid crossers but not in stacks. I agree it had a lot of pronouns but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Thanks, PG.

And good luck to all in the snow - what little we have is melting today so I'm almost envious!

Greg 1:54 PM  

Had never seen TESSERA, so SERA was a facepalm when I finally "got it". This one played hard for a Friday for me.

Tita 2:00 PM  

Sorry - couldn't resist - sitting in the waiting room, saw this tidbit, and thought of @Nancy and @Anoa simultaneously...

The French cultural minister is at it again, wanting to scrap the AZERTY keyboard:

"And accented capital letters require manoeuvres of which, according to the ministry, most people are unaware." (@Nancy)

"So symbols like the tilde (the squiggle on a ñ)...all need to be readily available."(@Anoa)

John V 2:48 PM  

Easy, but SERA/TESSERA cross was hard.

kitshef 3:52 PM  

Don't like SERA crossing (tes)SERA or EEL crossing (potatop)EEL(ers).

Fairly hard for me, and quite enjoyable. Don't quite get the clue for CASTOFTHOUSANDS. Never heard of DERALTE. Wanted Divinecomedy and when that didn't fit had no plan b.

I recalled ONEOCAT only because of the discussion thereof herein last time it raised its ugly head.

Hand up for CLARICE/COLSON as my entry point.


LindaPRmaven 3:59 PM  

Very pleased to have gotten all those proper names without Googling. I guess - per @Rex - this puts me in the ELDERS category, though I have plenty of FIRE without benefit of SERA. Note: Dick Pound would definitely disapprove of SERA ONTAP.

Blue Stater 4:04 PM  

OT, but if you want to see an example of NYT puzzles as they ought to be, check the one by Elizabeth Gorski linked off the Times web page today, in celebration of the 20th year of the paper going online. It's a Monday, and so quite easy, but nonetheless poses intellectual challenges, is factually and linguistically accurate, and not a trick or a swerve in sight. Beautiful. If only we could have these back -- even if it's only one end-of-week day.

beatrice 4:14 PM  

No TRA las in these madrigals (well, they're ITALian, there wouldn't be), but there is some ORNATE writing in one of them; but I'm thrilled to have come across - completely by accident - another madrigal by the same composer which is a setting of a text from DANTESINFERNO. Fewer than twelve texts from Dante were set by renaissance composers - I was aware of none - whereas just about all of Petrarch's poems were. I don't know Italian, and I've wondered about this - is it the sound and rhythm of the poetry itself, the subject matter, both..? I would love to hear from anyone here has read the originals and has an idea about this...

Subject one: Despair and Anguish (DANTE) --

Subject two: Love and Joy (ORNATEness) --

Oh yes, the composer is Luzzasco Luzzaschi (c.1545-1607). Anyone interested in 'women's issues' and cultural history might like to read about the 'concerto della donna' ('consort of women') at the court of Ferrara, for which the second piece was written.

P.S. AliasZ and G.Barany - wanted to say I enjoyed your recent joint puz - very nice (except, perhaps, for - well, you know the one)!

Ludyjynn 6:26 PM  

@Tita, Thanks for your kind offer. I tried to e-mail you, but am not sure it went through. Please advise if you still need the ISP.

Boswell 6:33 PM  

@Master Melvin,

In April 1774, Samuel Johnson stated "'Patriotism' is the last refuge of the scoundrel". We have advanced since that time, to where 'religious patriotism' is the last refuge of the political scoundrel.

[Ed.: Single quote marks are added to indicate the original's intent to address a false, self-professed patriotism. (lf)]

jberg 7:05 PM  

We were in Arlington, VA, for a conference and had decided to come to Old Town Alexandria for the weekend aferward -- so we are sitting in the Lorien Hotel, expecting to spend all of tomorrow indoors. Meanwhile we grabbed the afternoon for our chance to walk around Old Town before the snow picked up -- hence my very late completion of the puzzle.

As it turned out, also an incorrect completion, as I had SENDS IN for 'registers,' (you know, you send in that card) and CLAReCE seemed fine to me. No idea about this Kenan person, so dEL was as good as (and more plausible than) KEL. Otherwise, it was fun.

@Loren, you really grabbed an elk by the tail? Pictures or it didn't happen! They don't even have much of a tail.

I was a little put off by 24A -- if you want to cue that it's Spanish, some Spanish-speaking islands would seem to be in order.

Also, I thought that when you LARD something you stick some fat in it to keep it from drying out while you roast it -- not superfluous at all -- so I resisted that one.

Enough of that -- off to eat in one of the few restaurants open on the eve of the blizzard.

Alby 7:14 PM  

Got so caught up in the EE pseudo-theme (EEL, POTATOPEELERS, GLUTENFREEPASTA, KNEE, INATREE, STANLEE) that I entered SWEEPEE and lost about half an hour seeing what I'd gotten wrong elsewhere in the puzzle.

gifcan 7:19 PM  

It's the absence of the tilde in ano that is more worrisome.

Chronic dnfer 7:28 PM  

I had ore illy and models. I don't think Ac Delco exists anymore. My spellcheck agrees.

gifcan 7:32 PM  

. . . something involving K-I-S-S-I-N-G cracked me up. Thanks Rex.

Swee'pea may very well have been transgender.

Liked this puzzle.

Michael 7:50 PM  

Very easy for me. I'm the right age, do well with proper names, and usually don't have problems with Gamache puzzles. But I was completely wrong with my guess about what Rex would think. Usually I can predict his reactions fairly well. I though he would really dislike this one (skews old, a fair amount of crossword cliche fill).

GILL I. 7:56 PM  

@kitschef.....Go back to that disaster of en epic "Cleopatra" and the thousands of extras that were used for hours on end for the pure hell of a chance to get a free lunch and a chance to wear a toga or two. "They" were the CAST OF THOUSANDS...Unlike, say, "The Hobbit" and all the other Tolkien movies that employed very talented (and probably twelve year old) kids who could make it done digitally. think of all the sandwiches they've saved....

Nancy 8:50 PM  

@Tita -- (1:38) -- We haven't been hit in NYC yet, and I don't know how much snow we're going to get, but please don't be envious because your snow is melting. I promise you this: Whether we get 6" or 26", you can have ALL of mine. Every single flake.

@Tita -- Delighted that the French foreign minister is looking out for me. A man of great perspicacity.

@Z -- I just love your Nixon/Cliff Notes comment. I'll probably need to re-read "The Prince" in order to understand your Jon Stewart comment. It's been a very long time...

BigWool 8:53 PM  

Easiest Gamache puzzle I've ever seen.

John Hoffman 8:59 PM  

Comic book writer? I thought Charles SCHULTZ. That was my mistake. But I'm celebrating anyway, because this is the second Friday I've been able to complete.

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

@Melvin - with God all things are possible.

Joe Bleaux 10:03 PM  

I think it's "shot" as in injection of "sera" (plural of serum) with a needle. Bit of a reach, right?

Tita 1:11 AM  

Hi @Ludy...indeed, I see no email from you, not even in my spam folders...

My email is tereza at treacy dot net. I stand ready to supply you with puzzles throughout the storm.

Though hopefully, by now, you have found another source...

@Nancy - you meant @teedmn up above... ;)

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

Swee'Pea was a baby. From Wiki:

Swee'Pea was portrayed as being in the care of Olive Oyl, although it was unclear whether he was her own child. In the feature film version, Swee'Pea is found on the doorstep of the Oyl home where Popeye lives as a boarder. In earlier accounts from the comics Swee'Pea is depicted as royalty. After Swee'Pea's birth father is killed, Swee'Pea is made the Crown Prince of Demonia. As he was of royal birth, he needed protection from an evil uncle who wanted to eliminate him and take control of the country. Swee'Pea's mother left him on the doorstep of the Oyl home knowing the trustworthy sailor would protect him. Popeye proposes the name Swee'Pea for the child; Olive objects, saying it sounds ridiculous, and he retorts "Well, what were you going to call him? Baby Oyl?"

spacecraft 10:30 AM  

@Chuck McGregor: No reason--except that this is English, where exceptions litter the rulebook no END. The mnemonic ditty goes:

I before E, except after C--
And when sounding like A, as in "neighbor" and "weigh;"
But there's always the WEIRD exception.

Maybe Shakespeare started it, with his WEIRD sisters. Toil and trouble indeed. On to the current offering.

I used to let gridspanners daunt the hell out of me, but no more. They are our friends...when we get them. And most of the time, as today, they are pretty readily gettable--despite the serious misdirect of calling a kitchen utensil a "tool." Fair enough, it fits the definition, but I'm out in the garage looking for it.

The other clue WOE: you're seriously going to call a person who administers an injection a "shot-putter?" That's not clever misdirection, it's forced and awkward. No flag, but a definite frowny-face for that one. More brow-wrinkling with ACDELCO, EDATES and RATEDPG (*sigh* looks like the letters are here to stay).

Yet in spite of these distractions I liked it. A nice smooth Friday, sort of a day off from "challenging." As Dr. Lecter put it to CLARICE: "The world is more interesting with you in it." Ditto this puzzle. B.

P.S. Thanks @Rainy for the kind words. Let me entertain you, let me make you smile...oh no, now I'm channeling Gypsy!

Burma Shave 12:08 PM  


In a CASTOFTHOUSANDS, EASE into the battle,
For EDATES of three
it SINKSIN that NANETTE and ASTRID won’t tattle.


rondo 1:50 PM  

I’m not seeing any write-overs, so it couldn’t have been too tough. Yep, those long ones really help when they fall, got CASTOFTHOUSANDS from the S in EASE and the others in similar fashion, maybe a couple more letters. Last word sussed was the much talked about SERA.

Any problem cluing her as ASTRID Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking? Would have been easier for me. And it’s all about me.

Bond girl yeah babies always top my list and EVA Green is no exception, she could SITON my lap anytime. Apologies to all the other ladies named in today’s puz. And STRIPER is one P short.

What do you get when you combine frequent xword bands ACDC and ELO – ACDELCO!!!

And I’ve come down with a terrible case of the singing cowboys with “BACKINTHESADDLE Again” rolling around in my head and not falling out.

TESSERA – TESLA(S); make your own Charlie Chan joke.

Nice puz today. Must be time for a Stella ATROIS [SICS], if that’s what they have ONTAP.

leftcoastTAM 2:23 PM  

More medium plus than easy for me.

The long entries showed themselves fast enough after a number of crosses.

Shorter crossing entries were tougher:

TESSERA/SERA (clever clue, and my last entry)
FRACTAL/LARD (good and definitely not a gimme)
SKIBIB/INATREE (never heard of a skibib, and
doesn't the tree ultimately eat Charlie's kites?)

I enjoyed this one. I'd RATE PG a very good constructor.

Diana,LIW 4:10 PM  

I smiled. I frowned. Longer answers were fun. And a lot of unknowns, for me. Maybe I just don't get out enough. But only a couple of cheats led me to the rest of he "solve." And lots of the clues, as others have noted, were fun.

And we have our fashion design theme BACKINTHESADDLE.

Diana, LIW

rain forest 5:17 PM  

This played medium for me, and like for others, the shorter answers provided more resistance than the long guys. DANTES INFERNO came off the NO, in fact.

Next time I go for a medical test, I will ask the technician, "Are you the shot putter?", and I will report the response to you.

Except for the NW which provided the greatest challenge until I worked out THEN and NANETTE, this was a very smooth puzzle where at almost every slowdown, the crosses came to the rescue, kind of the hallmark of PB 1 and 2.

Hey, @Rondo, would you classify PG as a yeah, baby, or is that question too non PC?

Diana,LIW 6:55 PM  

Just wondering. Did anyone else notice that rice kernel sidled on over to our friend the ever-present EEL, elbowed him in the side, and said, "hey, I bet you won't get caught, nudge, nudge."

Mr. Waiting went to the store to get cookies (he's got a sweet tooth). He complained that they tasted bland. I pointed out he had accidently purchased the GLUTENFREE "treat." Then I started pointing out to him how everyone, everyone is putting "gluten free" on their obviously non-wheat products. That's the biggest joke of all in this craze. Hey! Kale - it's gluten free. So is milk! And water!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 8:19 PM  

@rainy - Nuttin' is too nonPC for me (see Chan joke ref above)If you mean PG, today's constructor, I'd say you go girl and a great big yeah baby as well for pullin' off a themeless. And it don't hurt to be hot. I used to be the sex symbol on my city council. I always loved my constituents, given the chance.

Cathy 10:11 PM  

Nuthing. Nothing. A few Esses. Oh good god, am I that bad? Like Charlie Brown's kite, ultimately. On the ground! Smashed on the ground. Yeah I know, 7 letters. Okay it's not Lucy with the football. On the ground!!! I'm hopeless.

Roxy 1:08 AM  

@Gill The shot in this case is a hypo, as in hypodermic needle and sera is what's being injected.

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