Shield decorated with head of Gorgon / SAT 1-23-16 / Wife in John Le Carre's Constant Gardener / British port from which John Cabot sailed to New World in 1497 / Player of green alien in guardians of galaxy blue alien in Avatar / City called old pueblo / French city once held by William Conqueror / Real life New York hospital sometimes seen on Law & Order SVU / Stark half brother of Jon Snow / Mythological subject for Leonardo Correggio Rubens

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Constructor: Kameron Austin Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ZOE SALDANA (21D: Player of a green alien in "Guardians of the Galaxy" and a blue alien in "Avatar") —
Zoe Saldana-Perego (born Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario; June 19, 1978), Zoe Saldana (/sælˈdænə/ sal-DAN), is an American actress and dancer. Following her performances with the FACES theater group, Saldana made her screen debut in an episode of Law & Order (1999). Her film career began a year later with Center Stage (2000), followed by a role in Crossroads (2002). She first gained some prominence for her role as Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). // Saldana's breakthrough came in 2009 with the roles of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek and Neytiri in James Cameron's Avatar (2009). The latter film received widespread acclaim, and is the highest-grossing film of all time. Saldana continued her successful career with films such as Colombiana (2011), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). (wikipedia)
• • •

Kameron Austin Collins (KAC) is just so good at this. His puzzles somehow manage to be high and low (check out his biweekly themeless crossword, entitled, fittingly ... "HIGH:low"), smooth and crunchy, peanut butter and chocolate, all at once. The puzzle will be too poppy for some; as someone who has never seen "Avatar," or "Game of Thrones," or a single episode of "SVU," it was almost too poppy for me. But it wasn't. That's the point—I'd get into scrapes, but then crosses would get me out. Miss a TV question, get a basic vocab word, or some slang, or a Renaissance-era exploration answer, or PERFIDY, or what have you. I feel like I can rely on KAC's puzzles to dip into all manner of current things (shows, language, topics, etc.) but not relentlessly. The puzzle roams wide, and is full of surprises. It pulses and breathes and darts. Like the sourdough starter I've been cultivating for the past week or so, It's Alive! Not moribund, the way crosswords have a reputation for being—the way they can, on occasion, still be. There's a reason the American Values Club crossword recently made KAC one of its two new constructor hires. Old school craftsmanship + 2016 woke-ness.* One of the best constructors around, and he's only just started. Look out.

"AH, BLISS"—who says that? I feel like it's a phrase I recognize to be real, but that I can't really place? It feels so mannered and strange. Anyway, I found it hard to parse. Didn't help that I tried to run 4- through 6-Down and only got one of them right. BOY ICER JENNY is all kinds of jacked when what's actually called for is LAD ICER SHREK (you might've thought SHREK's "mate" was Fiona, not Donkey, but ... different meaning of "mate" here...) . At least I knew enough to ditch those answers and try again. Was pretty sure it was SITZ bath (20A), and the "Z" immediately gave me ZOE SALDANA. Without the "Z," I would've struggled to call up her name; with it, boom. Once I built up the NW from there (which took a little doing), I didn't have any major snags the rest of the way, though I did have some ridiculously good guesses. TESSA off the -SA. ROBB off the RO- (despite never having seen "Game of Thrones"). PERFIDY off the P-. LEDA off the -A. There was some awkward over -ING-ing with the KNELLING / EKING crossing (ing ing ing) in the SW. KNELLING in particular was hard to see, given the plural clue (24D: Passing sounds?). And there are at least three plausible four-letter ST-- answers for 42A: Check. I went with STAY. Then STOP. Ended with STEM. Literally ended, in that that "M" was the last thing in the grid. I think the cluing (-ING!) in this puzzle could've stood to be more playful and clever. But the grid is Tight. All in all, a delightful romp. More more more.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*"The phenomenon of being woke is a cultural push to challenge problematic norms, systemic injustices and the overall status quo ..."—Raven Cras

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

Third easy one in a row for me. ZOE SALADANA was a no crosses gimme as was NASCAR so I had toe holds on both sides. SIGNEr to SIGNEE and very briefly @Rex Jenny were my only erasures

Great grid pattern!

I've never watched Game of Thrones, but ROBB was my first, crosswords?

PERFIDY is a fine word in the same way mendacity is.

Lotsa lively answers, liked it a bunch, @Rex called it!

kozmikvoid 12:28 AM  

This was zippy in both time and cluing. Enjoyed it immensely. Filled it in 12 minutes and got the wa-wa close but no cigar message. Floundered around for 5 minutes trying to figure out what I missed: turns out I thought her name was Zoe Saldano. Fixed that for a really quick Saturday time for me.

Loved seeing Tessa. Got it immediately because that was one of two finalists for the name of my daughter (1 year ago next Saturday). And The Constant Gardener heroine would've been her namesake had we chosen it. Read the book of you haven't. It's life-changing, and I was lucky enough to read it while traveling through Kenya (also recommended).

I particularly like KNELLING. No issue with the pluralized clue, as you would say the ringing of the bells for a funeral regardless of whether it was a passing sound or sounds.

Seemed more of a Friday difficulty, but I enjoyed it too much to care.

madchickenlittle 12:43 AM  

Loved this.

zoobee 1:08 AM  

Isn't GASES supposed to be GASSES?

Carola 1:24 AM  

AEGIS + HAUL IN --> EARACHES x BRISTOL, then AH BLISS and it just kept going. Over very quickly. I'd have appreciated a little more Saturday crossword PERFIDY.

Anonymous 2:45 AM  

Fastest Saturday ever! Utterly charmed by the puzzle. Not so much by the, to my ear, overly arch neologism "woke." There is such a thing as self-righteousness, kids, so, as the Beefy-2’s song puts it, "Beware!"

Phil 3:22 AM  

My best time in spite of filling in the error of my TENspot with crosses and not liking it. Do people call them TENNERs.

I got AHBLISS but felt it was worth a Rextribution.

Dolgo 4:05 AM  

I agree with most of Rex's cavils. I certainly would never think of Zoe unless the puzzle needed a "z." And why is it always San Remo? Such predictability gives crosswords a bad rep!

George Barany 4:48 AM  

AH_BLISS! Lovely puzzle by @Kameron Austin Collins, and pleased to see such a positive review by @Rex.

I'm going to put on my Professor hat now, and comment on chemistry as well as some areas outside of my expertise. The GASES clue today meets my approval, indeed all of the elements in the rightmost column of the Periodic Table are GASES at STP (standard temperature and pressure) and we have a fairly good understanding of why that is so. At one point, they were called "noble gases" and "inert" ... until in the mid-1960's, chemists at the University of California at Berkeley and at Argonne National labs near to Chicago independently showed that element #54, xenon, could indeed enter into covalent bonding.

In yesterday's themeless puzzle by @Paula Gamache, PENTANE was clued as "It's named for its five carbon atoms." That clue also gets an A. The first four alkanes, methane (1C), ethane (2C), propane (3C), and butane (4C, two isomers, normal and iso) have what are called "trivial" names. However, starting with 5C, the prefix is the same one, derived from Greek, that would be used for geometric figures. Thus, pent = 5, hex = 6, hept = 7, oct = 8, non = 9, dec = 10, etc.

Back to today's puzzle, I loved working out GOSSAMER, nestled going down between NASCAR and FAMOUS_AMOS, and crossing REAGANOMICS. A Google search of "on gossamer wings"--which I KINDA_SORTA knew, led me to this poem, which starts with "my soul has taken flight // from the bonds of earth ..."

So I thought, here is an opportunity to make a connection to one of the great speeches of all time, albeit at a tragic time, by the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan (the speech itself was written by Peggy Noonan). Click here to watch or here for a transcript. Alas, though the language is similar, it's not an exact match, and certainly no gossamer.

BTW, another poem with gossamer wings is by Walt Whitman. Perhaps @KAC can enlighten us further ... after all, he is in the graduate program in English at Princeton.

ultramet 4:58 AM  

Solid puzzle. Par for Sat. AhBliss was a bit weak but other than that very nice.

Loren Muse Smith 5:37 AM  

What a beauty! Man. I gained entry with GASES/GOSSAMER, and then it was a steady solve until my last letter, the B in OBTRUDE. Penultimate letter – the R in FORE, finally changing "eject" to ERECT; FAMOUS AMOS took forever to see.

@M&A. We have about a foot of snow so far. Thanks for the well wishes! May all your GASES be GOSSAMER this weekend.

I found the cluing beautifully deft for a perfect Saturday challenge. "Pitch, mate, realize," all so ambiguous, so aha-moment inducing. And the clues for KNELLING and TALENT that had me dutifully filling in a final S.

Rex, what with your pseudonym and internet presence, you could be an E KING.

Loved, loved, loved the clue and answer: "ish" and KINDA SORTA.

I didn't have a lot of goofs, but I did question ICER when I really wanted "guard" RAIL first. Also toyed with "dog," "boy," and "elk" before LAD. ;-) (@jberg – anything I mention that happened in Innsbruck is just me being a smart donkey. And, yeah, me being, not my being. If I'm going to be on board with the singular they, then I'm totally ditching that possessive there that I think you still like.)

And I was thinking "act" or "get" RUDE until the very end. OBTRUDE. Sheesh. A few days ago we had unobtrusive as a vocabulary word, and for the rest of the class, I walked around here and there leaving a small candy on students' desks as they worked. Totally unobtrusive. Ninja candy- placer teacher.

I really like the way SEA AIR looks with all those vowels in a row. I still remember Julian Lim's Sunday that had entries with five vowels in a row. How 'bout seven in a row? Limited edition Sequoia Ouija Board.

KAC – one of the best themelesses in a while. You have a GOSSAMER touch. I loved it.

GILL I. 6:26 AM  

KAC? I'm not sure I'd use that abbreviation because this puzzle was anything but.....
Very enjoyable,if only because it was doable even though I didn't know ZOE SALDANA nor GASES and a few other gems.
PERFIDY is one of those English words you see in a novel and you don't know what it means so you look it up and then can't wait to use it in a very intellectual conversation and then the topic turns to Nixon or Chuck and you brilliantly slip in the word PERFIDY but you mispronounce it and no one takes notice...
Speaking of "Oh, that's brilliant!" That phrase actually goes beyond NICE IDEA. My sister-in-law says that all the time. She's even been known to call a hamburger brilliant...
KNELLING doesn't look like a word even though it sounds NICE.
Remember, a SITZ bath doesn't require a doctor's prescription and you get a clean perineum. What more can you ask for?

Robso 7:12 AM  

I think they say, "O bliss, o rapture," in a Gilbert and Sullivan play (HMS Pinafore maybe). Besides this, no one else, ever.
Before FAMOUS AMOS came in, I had LA MOUS AMOI . . . that well known French Canadian potato chip maker(?).
I liked this one!

Lewis 7:21 AM  

And there it is. The rare and wonderful Rex rave...

It's a gorgeous grid design, with many sumptuous answers (AEGIS, KINDASORTA, OBTRUDE, GOSSAMER, PERFIDY), and squeaky clean. I wanted EjECTS for "Pitches", but ERECTS is just as legitimate, and a lovely AHBLISS/SEAAIR cross. The cluing was tricky enough to make some areas thorny, but other areas filled in in splashes. I would have liked more playful-in-a-Saturday-way clues,like the one for KNELLING (which I found myself kvelling over).

This is one fine Saturday puzzle, the perfect springboard to some serious snow shoveling.

Z 7:24 AM  

No paper yet, so did this on my iPad. Pretty much what Rex said; I'd be in a spot, groping for a toehold, and then boom, done.

The last letter in was the F of FORE, at which point I finally parsed FAMOUS AMOS. Gotta love the total pointlessness of adding the year to that clue. "Here, have a piece of useless trivia that will in no way help you find the answer unless you cheat and Google and then won't you feel guilty." Yep, random clue years, giving clues existential angst since Søren first appeared in a puzzle.

jberg 7:29 AM  

What Rex said. I had no idea about either SHREK or ZOE SALDANA, but got them from the crosses; in fact, when I came here and saw SHREK in the writeup, I thought that I had put in SHREw -- but fortunately no, KINDA SORTA had fixed that without my noticing. (Shrew didn't make sense, but at least it was a word!)

I've never seen Game of Thrones either, and had jeBB at first -- again fixed by crosses. So my major difficulty was in allowing myself to believe that KNELL could be a verb, and therefore have a participle. But i put it in, finished the puzzle, and checked, which confirms that it can be. Medium for me, because of the proper nouns, but fun.

Geometricus 7:56 AM  

Hooray for KAC! Have done at least one HIGH:low puzzle and enjoyed it immensely. This one went clockwise for me around this pretty grid. EARACHE was the first thing in but GUIDERAIL was the last. Played rather easy for a Saturday, but maybe I was just a lucky guessed. Not a Game of Thrones guy, but love me some ZOESALDANA in GotG and in the Star Trek reboot as Uhura.

This puzzle evokes so many brilliant colors for me: blue for MR.FANTASTIC and the sky of the SEAAIR, green for SHREK and alien ZOE, the golden wrapper of FAMOUSAMOS cookies, the silver SARDINECAN train, crossing the shiny SMELT pulled out of the Great Lakes.

Also sounds jump out at me, the noisy BARKER, the sharp jarring squawk of the MYNA, the hiss of escaping GASES, the ominous KNELLING crossing busy BELLEVUE in NYC. Somebody loan me a TENNER to enter the Hamilton lottery!

Unknown 8:03 AM  

Wasnt John Hancock a signER of the D of I?

Dorothy Biggs 8:13 AM  

I didn't like it but mostly due to my own shortcomings. I've never seen Game of Thrones. I've seen Avatar and Galaxy, but didn't know Zoe's last name, nor do I care. I don't watch Law & Order, so that's why Beth Israel didn't fit, I guess. And I'm not a big enough Marvel fan to suss out -r---as--c. I guessed at "MR" but even after getting it, I don't know who that is. I've heard of the Fantastic Four...related?

I think sardines come in a tin.

On Wheel of Fortune you lose a spin...which is more specific to that game than just losing a turn. In Monopoly you lose a turn, in WoF you lose a spin.

Please tell me how Hancock is a SIGNEE? Is he the one being signed? I had the ever awkward "SIGNEr" since, you know, HE'S the one doing the signing...and if it means that, by using my "John Hancock" to sign a document, it makes him a "signee" then, ugh.

"Oh that's brilliant" =/= NICEIDEA. One is hyperbole, the other is just a mild pat on the back.

There was more that I didn't like about it...but I'll leave it at that.

John Child 8:15 AM  

@zoobee: Argon and neon are gases. Amy gasses up her truck when she puts fuel in it.

Not easy for me. MR FANTASTIC was never going to show up with the crosses I had in place. With that cheat the rest went down smoothly. I had inert and trickledown in the NE early (and bitched about the poor usages) before sorting out that problem.

LAT today by blog regular George Barany and Martin Ashwood-Smith, a quad stack. Good stuff! 1-A {Actor in four "Planet of the Apes" films}

Ena Gasbox 8:45 AM  

Very fun challenge. The NW gave me fits, and it was the last section to fall. I wanted SITZ from the beginning, but never heard of ZOE SALDANA. AH BLISS, GUIDERAIL. Oof.

Love perfidy. Perfidia is the Spanish word for perfidy and is also a very beautiful song

Also speaking of Spanish, I live in Puerto Rico and have been struggling to learn the language. So I was struggling with 13 down and had AMOUSAMOS and I couldn't parse it because I kept seeing USAMOS, which means "we use." Even after getting the F from 13 across, it still took me a moment to come up with FAMOUS AMOS.

I could put on my didact's hat here and launch into a disquisition on the vagaries of Spanish grammar, but being a gentleman, I won't.

Brett Hendrickson 8:53 AM  

The puzzle was going so fresh, I actually had AWWYISS for AHBLISS for a spell.

Also loved the grid pattern.

Max Sherer 9:07 AM  

Awesome puzzle. Just want to point out that there are only 5 plural answers in the entire puzzle. Amazing.

Rob 9:20 AM  

Greetings from the frozen Mid-Atlantic. Hope everyone is staying safe.

Really enjoyed this puzzle. Like Rex said, some stuff I knew and some stuff I didn't, but the construction of the puzzle meant the stuff I knew gave me the stuff I didn't.

Maybe I'm still sleepy, several cups of coffee in, but I'm not sure I understand how "Pitches" is ERECTS.

Teedmn 9:25 AM  

I loved looking at the grid with its little pyramids on the walls and the stair-step middle. But I thought it was easy for a Saturday, and two of the ? clues, rather than inducing a forehead slap, left me saying "oh, ow" (EARACHES and KNELLING). On the other hand, SHREK was the best misdirect I've seen all week. ICER was good also but it went right in so not really tricky.

I'm with @LMS on having put "dog" at 4D right away ("There's a good 'dog' [pat, pat]) and patting myself on the back at how sharp I was this Saturday.

I put Bran in at 38A with no crosses because I forgot ROBB had two B's so I put in the other four-letter-named Stark brother. I was expecting "ish" to be a synonym for "ick" so I scratched my head a bit at KINDA SORTA. There was my head slap for the day. PERFIDY and GOSSAMER definitely upped the vocabulary level today. And for someone who literally EATS FAMOUS AMOS cookies for lunch every day at work, it was ridiculous how long it took me to see it. So my last entry was the R of FORE.

Thanks, KAC, for a wide-ranging Saturday.

@Nancy, I'm going cross-country skiing tomorrow so I'll take every inch of your snow, thanks for the offer, even if it was to @Tita :-).

And everybody, go do the LA Times crossword today. It is a stack puzzle collaboration by MAS and @George Barany. (On my iPad, the LA Times crossword app makes you dig to see the contructors' names, wonder why).

Blue Stater 9:27 AM  

Outstanding. This is what NYT puzzles used to be like -- and, I hope, will be again. No tricks, no swerves, no bizarre back-formations and other linguistic ephemera. Instead, what was needed was a high level of factual knowledge and insight. Challenging and *fun*! It can be done....

Annette 9:30 AM  

I don't know how it could have stretched me, yet I turned out my fastest Saturday ever. Just brilliant. And loved smelt/sardine pairing.

Seth 9:58 AM  

If you don't know who LEDA or ZOE SALDANA are (like me), that cross was a total guess, and the last thing I put in. I tried O at first. Then A. But unless you know, there's no way to know. It could probably be any vowel.

Still, great puzzle.

JC66 10:04 AM  


Hartley70 10:04 AM  

I took a gander at this beautiful puzzle grid before I started and decided correctly that I was in for a treat. What a lovely start to a snowy Saturday! It was a very fast solve, but clever enough to leave one feeling quite a small piece of very expensive chocolate.

REAGANOMICS over KINDASORTA was my first move. GOSSAMER and FAMOUSAMOS (OH BLISS!) came next, followed by BELLEVUE, and I was off to the races. My last entries, and a bit of a snag, came at the MYNAS/STEM "M", where I had to cogitate a bit before I saw it.

Just perfect, Kameron. Thanks!

MattG 10:07 AM  

Probably my fastest Saturday ever, right in the wheelhouse, with Reaganomics being an especially key gimme. My favorite mistake by far was when I accidentally transposed the Donkey's Mate clue to its neighbor and penciled in SHE-ASS for SEAAIR.

Z 10:23 AM  

Signer/signee are synonyms. Lessor/lessee are not. Why? English.

John V 10:30 AM  

No luck here. Too poppy for this senior solver. Not on Collins'wave length.

Unknown 10:40 AM  

@George Barany 4:48 AM: AH, ‘covalent bonding.’ Reminds me of my high school chemistry course. The curriculum was a very new thing at the time called “The Chemical Bond Approach.” Thus, I certainly recall covalent bonding, but have long forgotten what it is. I still have the book so I could look it up :>)

@Seth 9:58 AM: Jaffe’s precept: “There are some things that are impossible to know -- but it is impossible to know what these things are.”

@Rob 9:20 AM: When I go camping, I pitches me a tent.

I loved the look of the grid and what others have said about the quality of construction..

Two answers came to me without crosses, but I had no clue as to why or how I knew either of them or what the context vis-à-vis the clue was. I just somehow was quite sure they were correct: AEGIS & LETA (initially LETo, but still…). Odd.

Also in with no crosses was something I could have happily lived life without: REAGANOMICS. 40d? Been there, done that, so well-knew it was ”seemingly” like a SARDINE CAN. It fit, so I boldly and (turns out) correctly penned it in all by its lonesome.

Had to finally reveal that ZOE player. Had the ZO, but the reveal revealed I knew her not. In retrospect I should have been able to get it with the crosses. What can I say? I panicked!

Yikes! Get RUDE? Out RUDE? But OBT RUDE? Oh!! OBTRUDE. Thanks @LMS. Seeing it in your post elicited the headslap.

FAMOUS AMOS: A favorite of mine in my past life from the office vending machine.

AHBLISS: Isn’t that one of those tall things the ancient Egyptians used to build?

Hope you folks under that HUGE blob over the mid-Atlantic states on the current weather radar (as I write) are sate and faring OK!!


Steve M 10:48 AM  

Well done and solvable Saturday

Black Eyed Susan 10:48 AM  

AH BLISS. The first time I ever finished a Saturday. Sitting here snowbound savoring the feeling. Thanks to all you folks who have taught me so much (and entertained me so well). Do you remember your first time?

Unknown 10:52 AM  

AHBLISS oblige: "The inferred responsibility of happy people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less happy."

Nancy 11:00 AM  

First of all, thank you, thank you, New York Times, for delivering my paper this morning in the midst of a blizzard! Thanks to you, I have today's wonderful puzzle -- done! -- and all the Sunday magazine puzzles waiting for me. Either it's not quite as awful out there as it looks from my window (it looks just ghastly) or you have gotten hardier in your old age. (As I have not.)

I really enjoyed today's puzzle. Very few proper names; some lovely clues like the ones for EARACHES and TALENT; and some lovely answers like KINDA SORTA and SARDINE CAN. having written in TURN IN instead of HAUL IN at 2D was lousing me up in the NW, so I started in the SW and worked my way North and East. (Sort of like the storm outside my window.)

I haven't gone back to yesterday's comment section, but I gather, @Teedmn, that I put @Tita's name in instead of yours on the snow comment? I'll go back and look, but good job in picking up on it, and my apologies to both of you. I would never confuse you two, but I was very tired last night and had also had some wine to boot. Maybe I should post when I'm wide awake and sober? Anyway, enjoyable puzzle.

Tim Aurthur 11:01 AM  

Had KINDoflike before KINDASORTA, which is vastly better.

Hungry Mother 11:15 AM  

Took me a while and had me sweating on this chilly day, but I stuck with it and finished with FORE. Nice puzzle.

Unknown 11:18 AM  

Archaeoprof here, using my wife's computer here at home after the snowstorm.

So the noble/inert GASES aren't noble/inert anymore?? At least good old Vasco da GAMA will always be the first to sail around the horn of Africa. Wrote a report about him back in the fifth grade, when the noble gases were still noble.

@Rob 920: PITCH a tent...

mac 11:36 AM  

Very good puzzle, but an odd solve for me: Reaganomics and icer went right in, then gossamer, and the whole upper half followed. A little more trouble in the bottom. I thought there was an O in Zoe's last name.

Enjoyable solve by a great constructor. He sends me his puzzles by email, lots of fun. Congratulations on the new job!

AliasZ 11:49 AM  

Great puzzle today by KAC, I thoroughly enjoyed it from Ahbliss to sitZ.

However I never pegged @Rex for a personality cult advocate. All that smarmy gushing... gees, Louise. OK, it's a great puzzle, but KAC is not a beatification candidate just yet. Some of his previous ones were rather pretentious and of questionable merit, in my view. One puzzle not a Patrick Berry makes.

One way to achieve a very low word count is to turn large sections of the grid into blocks. Today there are 24 cheater squares, which removes large chunks of space where letters ought to be. The real challenge is to achieve similar quality without so many cheater squares. Very few people can do that. Joe Krozel, the constructor of some superb stunt puzzles with lowest block count (17) and lowest word count (58) comes to mind, in this 60-word 18-block puzzle, as an example.

Of course, using cheater squares is an entirely legitimate tool to achieve quality fill. My personal favorites today were GOSSAMER, PERFIDY and OBTRUDE. Solid, beautiful English words.

Yes, I too had signer before SIGNEE. A guy with a plaster cast on his leg, or rather his cast, is the SIGNEE, the people signing his cast are the signers, n'est-ce pas? Which reminds me of COFFEE: the person upon whom one coughs.

Loved your puzzle, Kameron. More like this, please. Let me express my gratitude with some music from the time of Vasco da GAMA (c.1460s–1524) by his compatriot, composer Padro de Escobar (c.1465–c.1535). And here is also some music for viola da GAMA.

Have a lovely, snowy Saturday in NYC.

Tita 11:55 AM  

The Donegal in-laws say "Brilliant" all the time. Love it - what a sparkly word.

Answers I put in very hesitantly, not believing they could be right:
But I was so desperate - first pass through had my compatriot GAMA on his SITZ bath as the only 100% gimmes.
Loved the second Portuguese shoutout at SARDINECAN. Go figure - I hate anchovies, love SARDINEs.

And today we have our SMELT, which was very popular in the comments section after that wonderfully fishy puzzle.

Once again, the NW threatened to do me in...ArGoS>>AEGIS, boy>>LAD, onS>>ILS, reinIN>>HAULIN, with SIGNEr and REtro____ threatening the NE.

Thanks Mr. Collins. Great Saturday that I finished on Friday - with a real struggle, because none of Rex;s gimmes were things I ever heard of. Not ZOE, not ROBB.

A mere inch down here in CT. We should miss the onslaught that y'all Southerners are getting. Stay safe, stay warm.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Pitch a tent, erect a tent

old timer 12:07 PM  

Personally, I think this puzzle SMELT. Too many answers were just not in the language. You never hear of SIGNEEs of the Declaration of Independence, only signers. You never *hear* KNELLING. KNELL is a good word, but what you hear when someone dies is the biggest bell *tolling*. And a GUIDE RAIL seldom keeps things on *track*. The flange on the wheels is what keeps a train or streetcar on track; a center GUIDE RAIL is used in some transit systems to help a car or train switch to a new track -- or, where rubber tires are used, as on some Paris Metro lines, a center guide rail keeps the train in its proper position, but then, with a rubber-tired train of cars, there is no *rail* at all.

I put in REAGANOMICS right away, and LADING, and figured there was some sort of RAIL. and "signer" was easy, though wrong. While the rest of the NE was easy, I really objected to NOSIREE. It does not always, or even usually, mean "absolutely out of the question." If you asked, "Have you ever seen SHREK, I might say NOSIREE, I suppose, but who knows? I might rent it one day.

Needed help from Dr. Wiki to get ZOE SALDANA, of whom I've never heard. That, with BELLEVUE and therefore REVEAL, led me to a correct guess of MRFANTASTIC. Before I looked up ZOE I had "arrest" for HAUL IN and therefore "les" instead of ILS, but ZOE gave me SITZ which I had wanted from the start.

Didn't get AEGIS at all, except on crosses. According to Wikipedia, an AEGIS or shield for a goddess does not necessarily have a gorgon's head on it, though I suppose most do.

Masked and Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Im' kinda sorta far north of middle age, I reckon. But had a solve quest similar to @009, albeit a little bit more in slow motion. Knew everything except TESSA, ROBB, and MRFANTASTIC. Cool grid layout (yo, @jae): 45 black squares and only 60 words. Fun pus. themelessthUmbsUp.

@muse: Glad U still have blogpower. Do they plow the country roads in yer territory? In my southern-ish town, they only have equipment enough to clear interstates and main drags. Keep it safe, anyhoo.

A mere 10% weejects. fave = ILS. French … so, more of a frave, actually.

Thanks, K.C. U need to come back any old time, and keep @009's digestion more cheerful.

Masked & AnonymoUUUUs


nick 1:14 PM  

Oh the joy of 'perfidy' and 'kindasorta' in the same grid. A google for 'Bristol' led to a site that told me Cabot and his men had lots of DVDs on board to while away the tedium, so all around this was a hooray-it's-the-weekend win.

TonySaratoga 1:17 PM  

Super fast for a Saturday. Makes third day in a row that the puzzles felt a day late.

dick swart 1:23 PM  

A great Saturday morning:

Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen,
The clouded sky is now serene,
The god of day — the orb of love,
Has hung his ensign high above,
The sky is all ablaze.

Pinafore, but not 'oh bliss'.

"Oh bliss, bliss and heaven... Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh... Alex in A Clockwork Orange.

Bob Newhart ... NASA interview. Other ways to get to the moon - Gossamer wings ... didn't work, just one of those things.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:56 PM  

Marvelous puzzle!

Even though I finished, on paper, with 34 A as REMI (no excuse) and 38 A as RONB (hey, never have seen Game of Thrones, and any show with dragons is likely to have unusual names!). INTRUDE/OBTRUDE . . . Who's going to notice when the outside world is disappearing under the snow?

Hand up for SIGNER >> SIGNEE.

Thanks, @Tita.

bswein99 3:11 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle but it was way too easy for a Saturday. Given that the weather outside is frightful, I was hoping for something that would keep me amused for several hours, not several minutes.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

@Nancy, don't do it, not when your tired&schnockered comments come out so fun!

@dick swart, when I was in college, 'Oh joy oh rapture unforeseen' was a favourite sarcastic catchphrase in our group for quite some time. That's the kind of blase pipsquawken nerds we were.

btw, a third nephew is following two older sibs to Williams.

@Gillyfleur, loved your perineum. What more can I say??


UMGBlue 3:50 PM  

Pitch as a tent.

Martha 3:53 PM  

I really liked this one. But much quicker than the typical Saturday for me.

lrwlady 4:05 PM  

Well, it may have been too few minutes for regular Saturday solvers, but for me, it was a perfect snow day activity that I was excited to finish in under an hour with a little resort to the check feature, but no googling, while watching a mediocre action movie.

Always check your grid 4:54 PM  

@Chuck McGregor - If you had LETA you had an error.

Aketi 5:14 PM  

AHBLISS, nice puzzle and beautiful soft snow, neither too soggy nor too icy. Perfect texture for sledding or cross country skiing. Might go out and make some snow angels smack in the middle of Broadway. My niece writes for Marvel so she will be proud of my acing the Marvel clues today.

Loved SARDINE CAN which made me hungry for SARDINEs on crackers right now but I'm pretty sure the stores are closed. The restaurant in our building, however, isn't. They don't even have to go outside to deliver to our door, just take a short cut though the laundry room.

puzzle hoarder 5:20 PM  

Time is precious. This is my third attempt to comment. This may just be technical difficulties. Most people found this easier than I did judging by their reactions. It was a great solve with just the right amount of effort. I really appreciated the low three letter count.

victor 5:23 PM  


Unsolicited advice from an avid baker (and devoted crossword solver and reader of your blog): the absolute best book on baking bread is Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread. Great photos, great recipes, great will be turning out beautiful bread in no time...

Please post pics!

Thanks for your blog!

Leapfinger 5:24 PM  

It takes an educated PALLET to appreciate the BELLE VUE obtained from atop a SARDINE CAN. Mr Kameron has that vision.

Surprisingly, it seems some MYNAHS that don't talk learn how to SIGN; anyway, that MYNAH'S SIGN was a real Plus, but the Rite kind of KNELLING could take a BRIS TOL. O yes.

Wondered whether Dr Pepper's peccadillo had any effect on MR FANTA'S TIC

Had SIGNEr (of course) and 'cliENT' before TALENT; also wanted exTRUDE, probably on account of the plastics extrusions gone haywire scene in Jacques Tati's "Mon Oncle", seen decades ago, but still a lurking delight in memory.

If nothing else, this was a puzzle to make your neurons sit up and fire off salvos. Had a 21-gun salute going for most of this one. ENCASE you didn't already know, this is the kind of TALENT that keeps a body coming back for s'more.

Just don't take any SITZ baths in the EARACHES Canal.

TENNERS, anyone?

Dolgo 7:31 PM  

Yeah, that bothered me, too!

Dolgo 7:35 PM  

Just Googled it. "Signee" seems to be a synonym for "signer."

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

Oscar the ____
Winnie the _____
Vasco de _____

Too weak for a Sat, IMHO.

Dave 10:54 PM  

As a Game of Thrones fan, I must point out that there is widespread belief that Jon Snow is not half brother to the Stark kids, but from a different line. So not a very good clue. I don't do spoilers, but you can Google "Jon Stark's mother" if you wish.

spacecraft 11:16 AM  

@NCA President: Your "lose a spin" point is valid; still, the actual writing on the wedge is "LOSE A TURN." Ergo no quarrel here. Anyway, "turn" = "spin," n'est ce pas?

My spin around this grid was punctuated with a surprising number of gimmes for a Saturday. Exotic yeah-baby ZOESALDANA hopped in, giving me SITZ and SARDINECAN. Just as helpful were REAGANOMICS (the ultimate gimme; what else could it possibly be?) and the aforementioned LOSEATURN. A few of the entries were KINDASORTA iffy; AHBLISS and NICEIDEA get across the sentiment in the clue, but I wouldn't say they're "in the language" as familiar sayings. This is the KINDA stuff that they sometimes put up for the final solve on "Wheel of Fortune." A "phrase," or a "thing," that leaves you wondering, "Who SAYS that?" These are easily enough inferable from crosses, and serve to take today's puzzle out of the flat-out "Easy" category into "easy-medium."

Despite 47-across, KAC will be EKING out a good grade from this corner. While I won't gush a la OFL, I'll just say "NICEIDEA." I'd like to buy a vowel: A-.

Burma Shave 12:12 PM  


on MRFANTASTIC, RAY, or FORE some other guy.
She’d REVEAL her TALENT and BEARER bottom,
then ROBB the LAD, ERECT’S how she got him.


rondo 1:45 PM  

KINDASORTA exactly what @spacey said, and said so well. Two write-overs nET not GET and SpraT for SMELT. What was I thinkin’ there? I’ve been to the shores of Lake Superior to HAULIN SMELT in NETs. What a hoot! Old fishing joke – Sven and Ole had some bad luck at Lake Superior. They picked up two gals and one SMELT.

Saw the first SHREK movie on a flight from Vienna to New York. I’ve been shirking my SHREK ever since.

As @spacey mentioned, ZOESALDANA is the yeah baby today. Even when they’ve got her all painted up. It would be a NICEIDEA to dress her in GOSSAMER. Talk about a BELLE VUE. AHBLISS.

If you drive in NASCAR you’d better not LOSEATURN.

Seemed like a lot of space taken up by those stacks-o-black which OBTRUDE along the edges, but NOSIREE, this was a really good puz.

leftcoastTAM 3:34 PM  

Got in trouble quickly at the NW corner start. AEGIS didn't come and AHBLISS, when it did come, seemed corny and stilted.

The South that betrayed me, or I it. MRFANTASTIC was an unknown pop-comic name, and NICEIDEA seemed much too low-key for the "Oh, that's brilliant!" clue.

So, needless to say, but I'm KINDASORTA obliged to say it, DNF.

Cathy 4:34 PM  

After my disastrous attempt yesterday, I was determined to finish today. Voila!

EARACHES (canal problems) flew right in and it was KINDA SORTA bam bam bam. (I had to google ZOE SALDANA and BELLEVUE).

Fun Saturday.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

The old standard song "It Was Just One Of Those Things" has a line that goes "a trip to the moon on gossamer wings" which is how a senior citizen like myself is familiar with the word gossamer.

Diana,LIW 6:48 PM  


@Cathy - when I saw your post yesterday I immediately thought "we all have our own wheelhouse days." Yours was yesterday, mine today. DNF But still enjoyed it. Y'all know why.

We all have days when we say "easy!" and Rex complains of crunch and a fight. Then when you can't get those final four or five holes, Rex says "a 2-year old banana could do this!" Today, I bow to the banana.

Diana, not a banana (or a robot)

rain forest 7:05 PM  

My paper wasn't delivered until this afternoon, so, late.

Medium for me, and nicely put together, although I didn't have quite the love as @Rex for is--more like a lot of like.

For 16 A, I had Group forever, because the clue said that the rightmost column was an e.g., and that column is indeed an example of a Group on the Periodic table. Eventually, after the rest of the puzzle was done, I had to succumb and put in GASES, even though it is the one and only column of the PT that contains only gases, so it's not an example.

Aside from that nit, which made that NE section a bear, the rest was smooth and sparkly, and even though I didn't know ZOE's last name, and have never watched G of T, I finished.

@Loren Muse Smith - you seem to be getting sloppy in your usage. Mostly I agree with some relaxation, but a gerund always requires the possessive. It just does. Sounds vaguely inarticulate otherwise. I hope you aren't annoyed at my pointing this out.

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