Filmdom's Chucky, for one / SAT 2-6-16 / Its icon contains pair of quavers / 2004 film with tagline One man saw it coming / Swiss treaty city / Duran Duran frontman Simon / So-called commander of faithful / Redolent ring

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: LOCARNO (36D: Swiss treaty city) —
The Locarno Treaties were seven agreements negotiated at Locarno, Switzerland, on 5–16 October 1925 and formally signed in London on 1 December, in which the First World War Western European Allied powers and the new states of Central and Eastern Europe sought to secure the post-war territorial settlement, and return normalizing relations with defeated Germany (which was, by this time, the Weimar Republic). Ratifications for the Locarno treaties were exchanged in Geneva on 14 September 1926, and on the same day they became effective. The treaties were also registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on the same day. // Locarno divided borders in Europe into two categories: western, which were guaranteed by Locarno treaties, and eastern borders of Germany with Poland, which were open for revision, thus leading to Germany's renewed claims to the German-populated Free City of Danzig and mixed ethnic Polish territories approved by the League of Nations including the Polish Corridor, and Upper Silesia. (wikipedia)
• • •

A very Saturday Saturday. I had to struggle a good deal, but not in ways that I ended up resenting (the way I will when the fill is hyper-obscure or downright awful, or the cluing is suspect or downright awful, etc.). This one's got a nice variety of answers, from a broad cross-section of knowledge bases, and it feels very modern, which I always like (OK I don't *like* SELFIE STICKs, but I like that this puzzle *sees* them, knows they're there, and, I assume, sneers at them the same way I do). LONGING EYES felt wibbly-wobbly (WAWA-wobbly) to me. That is borderline Green Paint—[adjective] + EYES. Is there a famous instance of that exact phrase? BEDROOM EYES, I've definitely heard of. Also BLUE, LYIN', SNAKE, ITCHY WATERY, BEADY, CROSS, and BETTE DAVIS. When I google ["LONGING EYES"] roughly half the hits are for some hymn: "Jesus, Thy Church with Longing Eyes" by William H. Bathurst, 1796-1877." I doubt those were the kind of eyes the clue was going for. Anyway, that one prompted a squint-eyed suspicious glare from me. But all the other longer stuff seemed nice. I do hate DO TO A TEEEEEEEE (both that spelling and that phrase in general) and crossing it with HES? (8D: Drones and such). Ick. But there just aren't many moments like that. Mostly it's all ROSE CEREMONYs and MOONROOFs.

I had DISTRESS instead of ACID WASH right out of the gate (1A: Make look old, in a way). Same material (denim!), different words. I guess you can DISTRESS lots of stuff, but you probably don't ACID WASH anything but denim, right? Early '90s denim? So I was wrong there, but knew I was wrong when no Downs worked. Then I hit onto what is probably the weirdest opening solving pattern I've ever had on a Saturday. If I'd known RABIN Square (9D: ___ Square, center of Tel Aviv), I'd've had an impressively symmetrical, grid-spanning creature of some sort written into my grid:

It's like a one-armed guy waving hello. After this opening play, I figured the puzzle would be Easy. If I could cross the grid with virtually no effort, what could stop me!? (Plenty, it turns out). I know LUCERNE, but not LOCARNO, and they're both in Switzerland, and so,  yeah, with C and R in there, I went with LUCERNE, and that screwed things up. Otherwise, it was just tough. Normal tough. Saturday tough, with a few nice gimmes thrown in for me (Pau GASOL, ROSANNE Cash, Simon LEBON). If I have a relative named BOWSER, I am unaware of it (18A: Relative of Rex). BOWSER, call me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


RodeoToad 8:18 AM  

I finished and couldn't get the high-five from pencil guy. Found the wrong letter in SRS, where I had SRB. "Robe ceremony" made as much sense to me at the time. I was thinking sumo bachelor or something, I guess.

Ice milk cruelly fooled me many times as a kid. Never again.

I don't know what a basilica or a transept is. I guess I could look it up and satisfy my curiosity, but it would be only a temporary relief and then some other despair would set in.

"Bring it!" is great.

Dorothy Biggs 8:27 AM  

I actually liked this puzzle. I was very surprised to see the constructor was DS. The cluing seems to have gotten much better and the clue to answer relationships are far less obscure and, at least in my opinion within this grid, fair.

Can someone tell me how "Drones and such" = HES?

I also had distress before ACIDWASH. I don't care for DOTOATEE (like Rex). Speaking of Rex, did someone named "Rex" get a shoutout today? And speaking of that, I know that Rex, Bowser, Fido, Rover, Spot, etc., are all "common" names for dogs, but I have never known anyone with a dog named any of those things. I did have a friend who had a poodle named Fifi, (and someone with a cat named Mittens), but I'd like to know how those dog names came to be so iconic when no one names their dogs like that.

GILL I. 8:34 AM  

@Rex...King Koopa? Maybe on your dad's side?
Ooof. What a hard but enjoyable puzzle. One little slow letter at a time. I stared at my only LEBON (thanks to husband) for maybe the whole night and then I got up, and like any other sane person, poured myself another Zin and immediately got SELFIE STICK which was MADE IN CHINA.
You can ACID WASH copper which I did in my ARTSY youth. BATIKS and KNOLLS were my last entry because my piano goes genTLY. I should have known BATIKS right off the BAT since I must have made a million t-shirts using that labor intensive method.
Lots to like here except I've never ever heard of ICEMILK and I think I'd rather eat ELMERS glue than sip that WAWA stuff. What would you do if someone offered that to you for dessert after eating escargot?

Loren Muse Smith 8:38 AM  

David's name at the top of my grid – always a treat, and I really, really liked this one. Rex, I was expecting an "easy" rating since I was able to finish without a lot of trouble.

I gained entry pretty quickly with CORNEA/INN, but the northwest ended up being the last to fall. I considered "scruff up" as a way to make something look old – who wants to walk around in brand-spanking new sneakers – but I sensed it was wrong.

Struggled a bit until I saw the clue for 21D. Be still my beating heart. A vapid show that I watch actually featured in a NYT Saturday! Anyone who watches knows that last Monday, this high point actually did not happen.

Some goofs:

"season finale" for SERIES FINALE
"a tad" for ATOM
"Roseann" for ROSANNE
"Lucerne" for LOCARNO (tons of us on that one there, I bet)
"how are ya" for HOW'S LIFE
And, of course, "styes" before STIES.

ADD ING to Brit and you get BRING IT. Your day is now complete.

Upon reflection, I understand, and really appreciate, the clue for LONGING EYES. A teacher was passing around home-made Toll House cookies yesterday at a meeting. I sat and ate my tiny, joyless Jell-O sugar-free chocolate pudding. And hated everyone else.

Speaking of joyless desserts, boy does ICE MILK bring back the memories. Hi, Dad. We'd have our bowl of Fudge Royale ICE MILK, and then play a game of chess. Every night. Board on the footstool. Pushing our rook pawns first like idiots. Good times.

I liked the modern stuff: SELFIE STICK, I TUNES, BTW, IMO…

ice milk? omg, wtf!!! BTW, idk y, but, fwiw, the BLTs here are SRSly gr8, IMO. cu l8r. wbs

I imagine everyone'll say this was easy since I was able to finish. Hey, I'll still take it. Saturday Steinburg Success. Sweet.

Teedmn 8:46 AM  

I finished, no errors even, but there was a point where it looked grim. The SW is writeover city and the NW held me up plenty. Everything else was pretty easy. In my first pass, reading the across clues, I wrote to the side "MADE IN CHINA" thinking I'd tell you all that that's what I first thought of at 35A but it was soon evident that was actually the answer. RABBIT, INN, ONE LINER, ACNE, RAM, MARINE, IMO all plopped themselves in.

I knew road salt was made of many compounds so I didn't dare put in my initial NACL guess. I liked 1D ADDING and 5D WAWA and that the "Relative of Rex" was not dinosaur related. The SW was tough because I was convinced 53D Counter Letters was "BuT" even though the clue indicated an acronym. That made 56A end in uLS. MoguLS are rises.... I took out ACNE, IROBOT and SOFTLY (like @Rex, I was strongly considering LuCeRNe at 36D) and put them all back in. I really hate the clue for MOON ROOF. It's just clunky all around, IMO, and it didn't help that I was assuming it had to do with computer defaults of some sort. TAR was my savior, making the rest fall into place.

The NW was sticky also - like @Rex, I didn't like DO TO A TEE. GASOL was a total WOE even with GA_OL and the DR of 17A made me think the movie was about a doctor perhaps. I finally concentrated on 5D and DOG made it all come "clear auto option".

So thanks, David Steinberg, for the 40 minute workout. I'll now turn my LONGING EYES (??) to the Saturday Stumper.

Carola 8:53 AM  

Fun puzzle. I started off with two I was sure of: "fiRst oFicer" for "Pilot's opposite" (probably because I spent 3 of the last 6 days on airplanes) and RABBIT. The erroneous oFficer got me SELFIE STICK, but the rest of the crosses failed to bear fruit. Hmm. Remaining calm in the face of a possible crash and burn, I went on to RABBIT. Things did multiply from there, fortunately, with all of the Downs falling right into place and leading me on a clockwise sweep. A pleasure to solve, with BASILICA, ICE MILK, PYRENEES, HOW"S LIFE?...

I'm not familiar with "The Bachelor," and wondered about the ROSE CEREMONY - does he BRING IT in the SERIES FINALE?

LONGING EYES? NE'ER did hear of them. LONGING glances seems more like it.

Random amusement: old-time BLT parallel with up-to-date BTW.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

I did this 10 minutes faster than my average and I have no idea why or how. It felt tough but apparently wasn't. I also got the feeling that "selfie stick" was the one answer that this puzzle was built around. That plus a blatant shout out to OFL.

Nero A. Beggary 8:57 AM  

At one point I was on the verge of not opening a puzzle if I saw it was constructed by David Steinberg, but I think he has really improved over time. Even though the puzzle was a little heavy on pop culture and sports references I didn't know, I was able to finish because (most) of the crosses were fair. I had the most trouble in the NE. I got LONGING EYES, but I don't understand the clue. Overall, I liked it.

Smitty 9:18 AM  

@NCA President

Drones, as in male bees.

Yes Rex, this was very Saturday-y but hard for me. I even struggled with "shell occupant" even though I row racing shells twice a week.

So I guess it's me.

puzzlecrone 9:33 AM  

All drones (in a beehive) are male.

Mara_says 9:39 AM  

Drones and such. Male bees. Ick. Ick. Ick. Hit my head against the wall on that one.

Tim Pierce 9:40 AM  

And here I was hoping to learn that Rex's cousin BOWSER was the bass singer on Sha Na Na.

DeeJay 9:45 AM  

Eager for explanation of Drones and such as well...

Z 9:53 AM  

@Nca President - I'll probably be among the hoards to explain this, but think queen bee and her drones. Also, in case @Gill I's opening gambit is opaque to you, I think the Rex/BOWSER tandem is a Mario Bros. reference, not a dog reference.

Speaking of BOWSER, raptoR made the NE a challenge for me, while not remembering if it is ROSeaNn or ROSANNE slowed me in the central plains. In the NE parsing what kind of net (I started with Rod(?)) and thinking nail was a noun didn't help. Through the middle it was finally sussing SERIES FINALE that got me to the FINALE.

Redolent. Another word that doesn't look like what it means. My first impulse is always "lazy."

@Crossworder late yesterday - We all need the occasional reminder. Just don't ever ever EVER publish any Downton Abbey spoilers or neigh on the entire commentariat will be at your door with torches and pitchforks.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Medium for me. Started really fast in the NW and then slowed way down. Feel like the clue on BOWSER should have referenced Mario. A missed opportunity.

Salliwag 10:01 AM  

Maybe it's because I'm English, but I'm totally confused by WAWA. Can someone please tell me what it means and what is its connection with a tot?

Swamp Dog 10:02 AM  

Best name I ever heard for a dog: "Lips"

Z 10:08 AM  

More than anyone should want to know about Rex in Mario World

David 10:10 AM  

Breezed through most of the puzzle, but got almost hopelessly stuck in the SE. Even with GAINS__ in place for 27D, the tricky clue "Prepares to pass, perhaps" really stumped me. All I could think of was a QB dropping back to throw. If it wasn't for a pretty lucky recall of MCAFEE from past computer adventures, I would likely have had a DNF. The F gave me the LIFE (literally and figuratively) in HOWSLIFE, and the rest quickly filled itself in.

Thank goodness I had MOONROOF confidently placed before I saw the LOCARNO clue. I also thought LUCERNE - but the UO letter combo for the "Name of eight counties" clue was fortunately a non-starter, so I was forced to work around a Swiss city I've never heard of.

Fun Saturday puzzle!

Z 10:10 AM  

@Salliwag - Tot as in toddler. WAWA is how toddlers are believed to say "water," the "60%" in the clue.

cwf 10:16 AM  

Love the side effect of comment moderation where someone asks for an explanation of an answer (e.g. HES) and then, later, there are a slew of answers along with a smattering of duplicate questions.

David Steinberg pretty much never fails to delight; happy to see he's also a regular contributor to the Buzzfeed puzzle. Over at xwordinfo I was surprised to see MCAFEE was unique only to the Shortz era (as there was no such thing as virus protection even under Maleska), but it turns out the others were both WWII-era references to " Lieut. Comdr. of the Waves."

cwf 10:18 AM  

@Salliwag, the body is 60% water and tots have been known to pronounce that "WAWA".

Tom V 10:20 AM  

Salliwag - a tot is a small child, has nothing to do with rum.

Tom V 10:21 AM  

Salliwag - a tot is a small child, has nothing to do with rum

mac 10:24 AM  

Yes, real Saturday, and a good one, although I also think DOTOATEE is a blight on this puzzle.

The rabbit was one of the first to go in, with a wink because I didn't think it would stay. Ha! Hand up for Lucerne before Locarno. Seems to me I have done that before.

Today is the Westport Crossword Puzzle Tournament with Will Shortz, at the beautiful library. Very popular, always sold out with around 110 participants and plenty of onlookers. Good snacks as well!
Afterward 14 of my puzzle friends, including some Rexites, will come to my house to sit by the fire and have a drink, and to rehash the day. Dinner at a local restaurant after. Always a great day in February!

Louise 10:31 AM  

What does the red square indicate?

Norm 10:42 AM  

@Salliwag : WAWA is baby talk for water.

Hartley70 10:53 AM  

I believe ICEMILK was popular in the 1950s and I don't think I've heard of it since. It was an early attempt at eating healthy after a hearty meal of Bologna, macaroni and cheese and canned green beans in Campbell's soup. Low-fat and slow-churned have taken over the game. It lives on in the fading memories of geriatrics, except for David Steinberg of course.

I always seem to like a Steinberg puzzle. It's a great mix of old and new. Please Olivia, it is way past time for you to go, sobbing all the way. I got stuck at one last square and had to run the alphabet, the M in RIM/ATOM. I kept trying ATad although I knew BOWSER was correct. It was a nice change for "smidgen"!

WAWA made me laugh. It's hard to take it seriously as a cross"word" but it does communicate a tot's need quite well so I guess it'll fly. My oldest wanted Brie with his WAWA. He's still mad for cheese, not so much the water.

MI Nana 11:01 AM  

@Salliwag: wawa in US is baby talk for water.

kitshef 11:13 AM  

Hand up for LuCeRNe before LUCARNO, genTLY before SOFTLY (actually SOFTLY then genTLY then back to SOFTLY). Hand up for easy. Hand up for not understanding the clue for LONGINGEYES. Lots of hands today.

Entry was RABBIT/THROBS, which felt weird.

Overall did not like the puzzle. Nothing terrible about it, but it just all felt slightly off, like watching a movie where the sound is slightly out of sync. The odd clue (and green paint) of LONGINGEYES, the extra Es in DOTOATEE, DRUGWARS being plural (just plain wrong), the awkward clue for WAWA (@Salliwag, toddler's mispronounce water as WAWA), BRINGIT doesn't quite mean "You want to fight?!", and why does that clue have "!?" in it?

GILL I. 11:21 AM  

WAWA is a bit like TATA and GAWP. In other words, the little Tyke tot can't pronounce water so his mummy calls it WAWA and I guess 60% of it floats about the body.
Does that help?

AliasZ 11:43 AM  


The "Couple of star-crossed lovers?" clue for LONGING EYES caused an inadvertent "Gladly, the cross-eyed bear" moment.

Not knowing who Duran Duran's Simon was and having never watched "The Bachelor," the LEBON | ROSE crossing was a total Natick for me. At first I had LEBAN, but RASE CEREMONY made no sense, then LEBIN | RISE was I thought slightly more plausible, as was LEBUN | RUSE. This is what is wrong with crossing an obscure name with an equally obscure pop-culture trivia. What the hell is a rose ceremony anyway? The GASOL | ROSANNE crossing was not much better. I thought GASOL was a gasoline/ethanol fuel mixture: E10 for 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline.

No matter in what shape TOAT or TOATEE or DOTOATEE appears, no one will ever convince me to like it. It is junk fill, even if it's eight letters long. It is enjoying an unfortunately extended artificial life with the help of the best lexicological life-support equipment the GOCC (Guild of Crossword Constructors) has to offer. It is especially bothersome when it appears in a prime location, like the corner of 72nd and Central Park West.

Everyone, please take your SELFIE & STICK it. If you didn't like my saying that, BRING IT!

Enjoy this AIR and dance from "Ancient Airs and Dances," Suite No. 2 by Ottorino Respighi.

Chaos344 11:48 AM  

What Rex said. Nice crunchy puzzle in about my average Saturday time. Much appreciated after yesterday's blitzkreuzworträtsel solve!

@Swamp Dog: Best name I ever heard for a dog? Twice! When I asked his owner the obvious question, he replied, "Because he won't come if you call him once!

puzzle hoarder 11:49 AM  

After a long string of sloppy mistakes on relatively easy puzzles I came away with a clean grid. Give credit to the constructor it was the work it required that eliminated the slop.
I started in the NE. RABBIT,RABIN and ATTACH went in instantly, then ATAD slowed things down. This was how the east half of the puzzle went. Mistakes and over sights slowed me down more than the actual difficulty of the puzzle.
The west was the hardest half. I've yet to see a good explanation in any of the comments so far for what 36A's answer has to do with it's clue.
It would be great if the constructors had to give an explanation or a "for instance."
I never wrote in LUCERNE because a U in that spot for a common American place name was so unlikely. Even with ACNE (gimmie) the SW was hard. BATIK opened it up. The NW was last. Pardon the TMI it's just good to feel back on track.

jberg 12:00 PM  

@Salliwag -- it's supposed to be the way babies pronounce "water." Also a chain of convenience stores in the mid-Atlantic states, for some reason (that knowledge will come in handy in a later puzzle.)

Challenging for me -- it was all a matter of not guessing the right interpretation of the many, many double- (or triple) meaning clues. First I put in 'regina' for Rex's relative, then spent too much time trying to think of a six-letter Mardi Gras krewe; it was only when it occurred to me that they might have named a square for Yitzhak RABIN that I got BOWSER.

Things were not helpted by having geT right for "Nail," and norton for the security co. I could see the latter was wrong from ONE LINER, but the wrong letters sitting there still kept me thinking there might have been a battle of the SeinE.

I knew few of the proper names -- GASOL sounds like what I had to out in the tank of my old Saab -- and went with LuCARNO after I had enough crosses to think of it. (Also, until today, I would have guessed that Lucerne was the same place in French rather than Italian. So it was educational.)

Well, it looks like it's above freezing outside -- time to go see if I can get the frozen snow off the rest of my sidewalk. Got half of it last night, but I could feel the heart attack getting ready to strike, so I went to bed.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

nevermind, summer job. summer - one who sums. summing. adding. duh.

r.alphbunker 12:09 PM  

Puzzle report

Wrote in RAPTOR initially for {Rex's cousin}

This was an impressive puzzle. DS was clearly in control throughout and manage to get 11 words that have never appeared in an NYT puzzle:
LONGINGEYES {Couple of star-crossed lovers?}
HOWSLIFE {Friendly query}
ROSECEREMONY {"The Bachelor" high point}
ICEMILK {Low-fat dessert}
DRUGWARS {Subject of the 2015 film "Sicario"}
GAINSON {Prepares to pass, perhaps}
MADEINCHINA {Ubiquitous label}
MOONROOF {Clear auto option Clear auto option}
ACIDWASH {Make look old, in a way}
SERIESFINALE {Pilot's opposite}
SELFIESTICK {It may be held at arm's length}

@Teedmn BUT as in all BUT one?

Matt B 12:14 PM  

I'm stumped on ADDING as an answer for 'Summer job?' Can someone explain? Thanks.

Lewis 12:15 PM  

@z -- You're thinking "indolent".

David has such a complete game. He starts with a gorgeous looking grid -- look how beautiful it is! Then he fills it with an interesting mix of words with hardly any dreck; truly, this is David's m.o. Then he completes the trifecta with fabulous cluing. Today, for instance: CORNEA, ADDING, RABBIT, BOWSER, AIR, RAM ISLE, and SERIESFINALE.

When his puzzles first started getting published people complained left and right about the audacity, overeagerness, and too-current aspects of the teenager's puzzles, but Will kept bringing him along, and over time, those complaints have become fewer and fewer, and the praise continues to grow. Thank you David for your talent and work ethic, and Will for recognizing same.

Matt B 12:15 PM  

I'm stumped on ADDING as a correct answer for 'Summer job?' I had a DNF on the basis of inserting Acting, thinking there must be some actor named Summer I've never heard of.

jae 12:23 PM  

Medium for me too, but I am currently running a fever so it might have been easy-medium.

Knew LEBON did not know RABIN (as clued).

Also did not know GASOL.

@lms - your snack envy helped me make sense of the 36a clue, thanks.

Lots to like here... from SELFIE STICK to ROSE CEREMONY a very fine Sat.!

Spurs Fan 12:28 PM  

Spurs Fanatic
Wawa=water. Tot pronunciation and body 60% water

Questinia 12:29 PM  


Best Puzzle Of The Week.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Why is Summer job ADDING?

nick 12:43 PM  

Liked it a lot. A nice Saturday challenge where other than "ICE MILK", nothing felt too musty.

But help -- why is ADDING is a summer job?

Unknown 1:08 PM  

Ree-dik-i-lus (think Judge Judy). Just could not get more than even a SMIDGEn of where the clues were going, AT ALL (See what I did there? After this disaster, I have to laugh at something, even if it’s my own odd humor).

The disaster was my solve. WA! WA! The puzzle was “SRS,” (ref. the clue for that.) SRS (ibid) examples:

After much cheating of various sorts, I had _OWER and still could not figure it out. Yes I well know what a “shell” is besides being a home for what I first tried: “snail.” The “got it” (groan) was post facto to the cheat for the “R.” As well, could I figure out what the cross “Fix” meant to get that that “R”? Even after that was filled in I thought it lame: “Fix” >> ALTER. Weak. In fact I just now looked back at that clue/answer and AHA! (‘nother groan)

Big name in headphones? Audio guy, MOI, sez AKG. What? Rapper DRE is making headphones? Oh… “ ‘IN’ them as in…(groan…getting tired of doing SELFIE groans at some point.)

Opposite of “Pilot?” Who knew one had one (eschewing the singular, but tempting,“they,” Hi @ LMS)? Of course!, A man at a wheel (@Hi all you female navigators)!! It fit. literally (letter count) and (thought I) sorta figuratively.

“Relative of Rex?” Rex who? Some king? A ruler, a despot….?? Annabel? As I was staring at _OWSER. Checked the down and tried RABIN…yet again…and finally, AHA (with a now ubiquitous groan as I cheated my way onwards).

“Counter letters”? rpm? mph? mpg? I only do BLTs with local-grown Ts, that means summer and those five inches of snow out there from yesterday speaks very SOFTLY (ppp for you music lovers), if AT ALL. to summer fare.

Clipper >> SAILS? Well, OK. But I had “masts,” thinking of Waldoboro, ME, only a couple of miles distant: “The Home of the Six-Masted Schooner.” Clipper, schooner, whatever.

Lest I forget “Summer job?” Mowing? hoeing, sowing, (all woulda gone well with the dog and oarsman OWs), do temp, ? After it got filled, still moments of WA? WA? until, yup, yet another groan, ADDING in an OW! this time.

HOW’S LIFE? All that wrongness was making it tough.

These didn’t help either --


I’m one who “gases it” when prepping as a passer, ironically so I GAIN(S) ON the passee.

I so wanted to “pitch” something at myself for not thinking of TAR.

Peter “Norton” fit right in for a PC security guy’s name.

For some reason, I couldn’t spell BASILICA worth a d**n.

So, it went, with all that white space, with those long stacks every which way in and connecting to the middle!!

As I have postulated, what IMO are really well-crafted puzzles for some reason have few, if any, off-beat word juxtapositions. I only find DRUG WARS BOWSER as AT ALL clue-worthy, though it is a ho-hum answer to some odd clues, which is at least something. Maybe: “A canine potter?” “Cocaine canine?” “Hound of the cracker-villes?” “Buster with a collar?”

At some point early on, due to what I thought great looking clues (more rightly so after the finish but unsolvable at that point), I said to mySELFIE, and this is a direct quote, “Who constructed this thing!!!?” Saw the name and I think that’s when I emitted my first groan, as in, this could be a problem. And so it was. He said, “BRING IT” and I did have a fun time trying to STICK it mySELFIE. He got the better of me and it was ALL fair play.

@Swamp Dog 10:02 -- Two boxers: "Highball" and "On the Rocks." Guess what their owner liked to do?


old timer 1:09 PM  

Very hard indeed. I got BOWSER right away and MADE IN CHINA and the entire NE corner, and PYRENEES and SOMME and the entire SE corner. But it took forever to remember LOCARNO (wanted Lugano, 1 letter too short. For a long time I thought it was a "ring" CEREMONY. Didn't know the DRUG WARS answer either.

When I did figure it out, I got WAWA, one of the best answers I've seen in weeks. All tots want their WAWA, for a "t" sound is so hard to speak, at first. So is the "s" sound and the "r" sound.

SELFIE STICK was one of the last to fall, but it gave me SERIES FINALE and ACID WASH and thus endeth the puzzle.

Anoa Bob 1:28 PM  

Don't know any BOWSERs, but some friends of mine once had a poodle named Rover. Honest.

My go to LE BON (25A) would be Gustave. I still have my notes from his 1895 The Crowd that I read back in grad school. Timeless insights, like this:

"To exaggerate, to make use of violent affirmations, to resort to repetitions, and never to attempt to prove anything by reasoning, are methods of persuasion well known to speakers at public meetings."

How's that for a ONE LINER?

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Can anyone explain why summer job? Is a sensical clue for "adding"?

MetroGnome 2:19 PM  

Sorry, I still can't figure out how "eyes" are "lovers" and how "star-crossed" even remotely fits into the metaphor/joke (if it is one).

Crossed eyes don't usually imply love; in fact, they often imply the opposite (to "look cross-eyed" at something is to be nonplussed by it, isn't it?) --

MetroGnome 2:24 PM  


Hey, Swamp Dog -- best names for pets I ever heard: a friend of mine who's an audio expert (designs/builds high-end speakers) had a dog and a bird; named 'em "Woofer" and "Tweeter"!

kozmikvoid 2:27 PM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this one, despite "finishing" with that nasty BATIKS answer incorrect. TAR sorta makes sense now that I see it, but it didn't come to me. C'est la vie. I loved the SELFIESTICK clue, despite hating selfies and their annoying sticks...and anyone that uses them for that matter. Still though, I chuckled when I realized the answer. SERIESFINALE was also clued well. This was tough but fair, and a good couple of puzzles to close out what was an otherwise horrible NYT week.

Loren Muse Smith 2:52 PM  

The best name I ever heard for a dog is Dammit.

old lady Sheila 3:04 PM  

Has any one an explanation for the change in the grid. On my computer the numbers in the boxes have become larger which cuts into the letters making them hard to read.

Z 3:51 PM  

Summer - One who sums. Hey - don't throw your rubber brick at me, I'm just the messenger.

@Lewis - The redolent indolent summer has been known to confuse many people. Some things just don't add up, I smell a rat, but I'm too lazy to care.

@Louise - Your question and many others are answered on Rex's FAQ page, including the source of terms like "natick" and "OOXTEPLERNON."

Nancy 4:17 PM  

Because I'm posting so late anyway, I took the time to at least skim the comments first. And I'm surprised at how many people I normally agree with found this puzzle both easier and more enjoyable than I did. I struggled everywhere, and I DNF the impossible SW. I also had LUCERNE, which didn't fit with any crosses at all. I had no idea what kind of --NGING EYES we were talking about. I wanted MaiN Road or MaiN Ramp for 35D; I never heard of a MOON ROOF. (Is that anything like a sun roof?) I wanted maiNE county or duaNE county; I didn't know BOONE county. I've heard of BATIKS, sort of, but don't know what they are or that they have anything to do with wax. I don't like the "Rex" clue; I think relative of Fido would have been fairer. I don't watch The Bachelor and don't know what a ROSE CEREMONY is, but at least it was gettable from the crosses. Is there something wrong with a puzzle when my favorite answer is SELFIE STICK?

For a few months, I'd gone from hating Steinberg to really liking him. His puzzles -- once so full of arcane names and trivia -- had become more about wordplay and vocabulary. "Ah," I thought. "A constructor who actually listens to the solving community and alters his puzzles accordingly." But, alas, I guess, eventually, we all revert to type. He simply, unabashedly likes names -- MCAFEE???, LEBON????, GASOL????. Even a name that's not arcane, that's in the ether, is clued in such a way that it becomes arcane. I'm looking at you I ROBOT and I TUNES.

So while this was certainly Saturday-ish in its difficulty, there was too much about it that I just didn't like at all.

Nancy 4:21 PM  

@Hartley (10:53) -- Sounds like your oldest had all the makings of an epicure from a very early age. Is he?

Noam D. Elkies 4:47 PM  

Ah well, looking at the grid I was hoping 21D:ROSE_CEREMONY was clued by this key scene from Der Rosenkavalier:

Masked and Anonymous 5:36 PM  

*** M&A Help Desk dept. ***
1. ADDING is the summing up of a bunch of numbers.
2. One who sums up the numbers is a summer.
3. A summer, therefore, can have a job where he does ADDING.
4. I know y'all would prefer "Summer's job" as a clue. As the Steinbergmeister would no doubt comment: "no refunds!" or, if pushed, "bring it!"
5. I heard tell @009 was givin out a prize, for the 100th person to explain this clue. (Please pay in small, unmarked bills.)
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Endangered Vowel Refuge of the Day: ITUNES DRUG WARS.

Fun, semi-hard SatPuz rodeo. Had SOMME big trouble, in the SE. Didn't know my ancient kingdom security names, and that RAM clue was even weirder than it would have been if the answer had been SPATULA.

Juiciest weeject fruit: HES. SRS. [Patrick Berry Usage Immunity Score: Win 1 Lose 1]
fave babytalk: WAWA.
fave small town news: LOCARNO.
fave distillation of gasohol: GASOL.



DeeJay 7:02 PM  

Thanks, Crone. My thinking is so 21 St Century.

JMC 7:14 PM  

In math, a 'summer' could be someone who does 'adding' as a job, maybe?

Robso 7:32 PM  

LOL, whut???

Sarah 7:46 PM  

Summer job? had me stumped, too, until I thought about it for a while and realized that someone who sums is…adding. D'oh!

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

Summer= Sum-mer. Somebody who sums is somebody who adds. Yeah, I figured it was some rapper or actor named Summer that I'd never heard of. I knew it wasn't a six-letter word for camp counselor.

Anybody else, with total confidence and no crosses, plop down Final Episode instead of Series Finale? Anybody? Just me?? OK, then....

Tough, tough puz but I finished, no help. Thanks, DS, for a fun struggle.

Mohair Sam 8:54 PM  

Been busy as hell lately (just moved, big down-sizing thing) and come to the puzzle when we can for fun and relaxation. Come to this blog for the same reason.

Great reward from both David Steinberg and Rex today. Don't know if we enjoyed the challenging puzzle or Rex's commentary more. Our solving experience was similar to OFL's although we had no gimme at LEBON, and we did crash and burn with a dnf in the SE. Mostly because we see HOW'S LIFE as snarky.

Spent most of our dinner hour trying to understand why LuCeRNe didn't work. Fun groaners at WAWA, ADDING, ROWER (which we never got), BOWSER, and RIM.

Had a distant great-niece (twice-removed I think) come in third on The Bachelor show a few years back, still couldn't watch a full episode of the hideous thing.

Steinberg just gets better and better.

Z 9:03 PM  

@old lady Sheila - That sounds like something at your end. I just checked on my iPad and the numbers are the same size as they have always been.

OISK 9:09 PM  

After being triple Naticked yesterday, was very happy to finish this one correctly. It took forever, and I nearly gave up, never heard of Rosanne Cash, or Gasol, and Duran Duran is the guy who lost to Sugar Ray Sugar Ray...but I really liked this puzzle! Lots of really clever cluing, as usual from Mr. Steinberg- the clue for series finale was brilliant.

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

@Lewis- the most comfortable of all the creature comforts: indolence. I think that's Kierkegaard.

Diana,LIW 10:19 PM  

Living poets society in the future - you are cordially invited to an open house in the past.

We, the inhabitants of SyndieLand, are about to celebrate a poetic feat. Our own Burma Shave has been writing poems based on the daily X-Word for almost a year, and we will be celebrating his anniversary on Tues the 9th there in FutureLand (our Jan 5, in the land of Synders).

More than once I have thot of doing a "once a day" task like Burma Shave (AKA, BS) but have let my resolve go. BS, however, has prevailed. He does not BS. Barring the flu, an accident, or another calamity, he will soon have completed 365 daily poems based on our daily wordplay.

So please, come by. Bring a poem, a bottle of wine, and your favorite finger food. (I'll bring Nova and a schmear on a bagel ;-0 )

Our open house will be on the 9th, but for those of you traveling from far, you can come early on the 8th.

Hope this is a lovely way to toast a persistent SynderFella, and a way to encourage our dreams. Not to mention a way to link the past to the future.

All are welcome! Hey - maybe our fearless leader will say some words. After all, he is a word player.

So save the date - 2/9, or 2/8 if you can't wait.

Par tee! Par tee!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Carole 11:08 PM  

Looks like no one yet has explained LONGING EYES. I was hoping someone would have done it by now,maps I still don't get it. The question mark at the end of the clue seems to indicate that this is going to be a play on words. So the couple is the two eyes and are the eyes crossed? Can't make sense of this. Did anyone understand this??

kitshef 11:17 PM  

Still no explanation for LONGINGEYES clue. Anyone? @Lms?

Teedmn 12:01 AM  

Best dog name I ever heard was "Askim" because when the owner was asked "What's his name?", the answer was...

@r.alph, BuT as in counter-argument

Hartley70 12:10 AM  

@Nancy, he is the most adventurous eater I have ever met and his travels give him access to dishes that give this PB&J girl the willies. Cheese is still his true love though. The last time we talked he was making it!

Fred Romagnolo 4:38 AM  

I'm surprised no one mentioned WA WA as the clue to Annie Sullivan as to how to break through to communicating with Helen Keller in both the play and the movie. BRING IT on I could understand, but just BRING IT? Is LONGING EYES something from modern music, or just green paint? I'm with Nancy on David Steinberg, except I never had a period of thinking he'd grown up.

Leapfinger 7:29 AM  

Yeti more Summer explanations? Shouldn't let that ADDer BITE me. Guess a SOMMEr job might be SAIL(ING). Nonplussed why nobody has answered about 35D: MOONROOF = sunROOF + Glass

Is there a DOTOATEE in the room? I'm guessing a DOTOATEE is someone who's been
DOTOATEd by a DOTOATEr. If ever I catch up with a DOTOATEr, I'll be sure to hold his head under WAWA.

Also wish I had a SELFIESTICK to keep that clue for LONGINGEYES at arm's length. Pretty convoluted for David St Einberg , who's usually a GEYES' GEYE.

Old Mother Hubbard, she went to the cupboard
To get her poor doog a BOONE.

Mr Steinberg, Take a BOW, SER! Could have used a little more name-dropping, but will forgive much for the Great PYRENEES.

Deus ex MA{dein}CHINA

Bob Kerfuffle 11:57 AM  

Would not have finished - at the cross of RABIN and LEBON - without a little help from @imsdave. Fun puzzle otherwise.

Burma Shave 10:34 AM  


To the ROSECERMONY ALTER he brings his LEI,
And that DOLL with LONGINGEYES will SOFTLY say,
“When your SELFIESTICK THROBS, ISLE just grab it.”


spacecraft 11:32 AM  

I knew I was in for it when I saw the byline. Yep. I tried to start in the NW with EYELID for 2-down. Oh well. Abandoned that, and actually started with ARTSY and SOFTLY, leading to another gaffe, opeNROOF. So, if you're driving at night I guess it can't be a sunroof, can it? I know the daytime one, that's all. Yet MADEINCHINA was a huge aha! moment, so the ROOF got fixed (ALTERed?) right away. Me, I don't drive at night; I'd be delivering that not-so-funny ONELINER.

BOWSER's nearest relative in this grid is LEBON; both frontmen (remember Sha Na Na?). Make that muscle, dude!

Very tough was parsing GAINSON. I was thinking football, and I should have still been behind the wheel. Gee, I feel like I was on a road trip here.

HOWSLIFE, by itself, is uncommon to me. More usual would be ADDING "...treating you?" BTW, I love that clue "Summer job." Cousin of, say, Lidocaine as a "number."

This C- student of geography didn't know where Navarre is, but when you start PYRE____ there's not much choice. There was a lot of that, tons I didn't know but could fill in one way or the other. I count ANY Steinberg finished as a triumph, so I give an A-.

rondo 11:37 AM  

A fine puz today except for my inkfest again in the SW. That whole LuCeRNe thing really inked it up. Had the final O, but figured maybe it was the local spelling, and since die Schweiz has a whole handful of official languages, the possibilities were endless. But no, LOCARNO is a totally different city and one that only came to me by crosses. I will wear out my last Zebra Sarana 0.7 soon at this rate. Gotta find more.

Messr.s LEBON and GASOL were flat out gimmes. About 6 years ago the missus and I saw Simon LEBON heading up Duran Duran at a smallish club in Mpls. rehearsing their act before returning to BRINGIT to arenas. General admission, got there early enough to stand 10 feet from the stage, Mr. LEBON was fan-effin’-tastic. Mrs. rondo thought she had died and gone to heaven. Almost as much so as seeing Mariah Carey on Valentine’s Day in Chicago. Those 3 proper nouns in the last sentence are her favorite things, BTW.

A local radio station hosts a BASILICA Block Party every summer, in part to benefit the restoration and upkeep of the BASILICA of Mpls. It has become quite the summer-fest.

ROSANNE Cash gotta be today’s yeah baby. Picked up her Grammy award-winning CD “The River & the Thread” long before it won Grammies last year. You should too, fantastic, IMO. Yeah baby. Just put the CD on now. Wow! Did I ever mention I once played in a band that opened for her father?

Soon time for brunch and a LEI. Too GLIB? MOI?

Unknown 4:14 PM  

This one was tough and irksome. I guess DS is up to his old tricks after a brief period of mellowing somewhat.

Cutesy (WAWA), misdirecting (good, like RAM, ADDING, HOP but not much fun), misleading (LONGINGEYES??, ATTACH as nail?, ALTER as fix?), and obscure (LEBON, LIN) stuff all around.

I liked the long ones except LONGINGEYES.

Ended in the SE with a DNF because, after struggling through all the tougher fare, I stumbled over MCAFEE because my Norton-branded brain cells wouldn't let me dredge it up. Spouse helped with that one.

Diana,LIW 4:51 PM  

DOTOATEE and HES created my final, but not only, Natick.

My friend's grandson was in the car with us one day while we were discussing The Dick and Jane Readers of our youth. I explained the characters to Jeramiah (the grandson) who was about 4 at the time. Then told him about my cat named Spot. Good kid humor - he liked that. So was I surprised when, several years later, he got a white poodle dog and named it Puff. Kids are amazing.

WAWA reminded me of the tourism campaign some years ago for Washington State, "Say WA." That was it. "Say WA." Went over like a lead SONDE carrier. It was not another "I Heart New York."

I still don't get the LONGINGEYES clue/answer. Anyone? Anyone?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for an answer

rondo 10:11 PM  

@D,LIW - I didn't quite get the LONGINGEYES deal either. DS must've been channeling BS.
As I recall, the first word in our reader was "Look!" And the cat might have been named Frisky. I say that because I seem to remember that those of us who shared that reader experience in later years said, "Look!. See Frisky Spot Dick Jane." Nothing like a bit of bestiality in 1970 H.S.

Cathy 1:36 AM  

BOWSER. Long day with my Mom. ROSANNE Cash. Johnny stepped up. Amazing what music can do. @rondo, still impressed.

Bananafish 6:06 PM  

I solved this one from the middle out ... for a while, I had everything in the center but none of the corners ... each of the corners were tough, but with enough elbow grease, gettable.

I agree that LONGINGEYES was a clunky entrant, including the use of "star-crossed" in the clue. Without that adjective (i.e., "Couple of lovers?"), the clue seems equally as apt for the proposition that that lovers have a pair (a "couple") of eyes that long for the object of their love.

As established in Romeo and Juliet (described in the prologue as a "pair of star-cross'd lovers"), star-crossed lovers are those whose love is doomed by the fates. I am not sure what that adjective adds to the clue. Perhaps, realizing that LONGINGEYES was a bit of a GREENPAINT entry, Mr. Steinberg was attempting to justify the juxtaposition of the adjective LONGING with the noun EYES, and figured a star-crossed lover, being star-crossed, is more likely than an ordinary lover to be apart from the object of that love, and therefore more likely to have eyes that have to settle for longing for the other? I am not sure that logic really holds, and it seems there are other adjectives that would work better for that purpose (e.g., "Couple of unrequited lovers?").

Unknown 9:32 PM  

I'm doing fine here in Seattle WA WA. I completed my first Saturday puzzle using only one lifeline (I checked IMDB for the plot to Sicario). I guess I accomplished a ONELINER.
I may have graduated from crossword third grade!
Donald Trump's suits and ties are MADEINCHINA.
I liked ACID floating above DRUG.
GLIB is another one of those words that appear to mean the exact opposite of what I thought they meant. When I think of GLIB I think of maybe Bill Murray in Kingpin.
If anyone reads this in Syndieland, is there a time limit to post on this site? About half of my comments do not appear on this blog.

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