Longtime comic strip queen / SAT 2-20-16 / Single-speed two-wheeler / Old TV channel that aired XFL games / Cry after Freeze on 1980s TV show / Defendant in 1963 obscenity trial

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Constructor: James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SHIH-Poo (58D: ___-poo (designer dog)) —
The Shih-poo is a small domestic dog. It is a crossbreed between a Poodle and a Shih Tzu. The name Shih-poo is a portmanteau of the two breed names. // Legitimate breed associations such as the AKC, the UKC, and the CKC, do not recognize the Shih-poo, or any other designer cross, as a breed in its own right. However, some major kennel clubs do accept registration of crossbreed and mixed-breed dogs for performance events such as agility and obedience. (wikipedia)
• • •

Pretty much a textbook Saturday. Normal Saturday solving time, normal (satisfactory) Saturday fill, grid shape, etc. At 72 words (the max), it would've been great if the puzzle could've come in a little cleaner and sparklier. PER SE over ALETA (16A: Longtime comic strip queen) made me kinda sad, as did ESE in a puzzle with MALTESE. But, as I say, it's fine. Just fine. It feels slightly dated, in a specifically "I was an '80s/'90s adolescent" kind of way. Maybe when you were a kid you had a FIXIE BIKE (a concept I grasp, but not a term I ever used or ever hear, despite having one as a kid)* and then as a teen in the '80s maybe you start watching "MIAMI VICE" and "Remington Steele" (starring Pierce BROSNAN), and then OFF YOU GO to college where you get into the music of Kurt COBAIN, buying "Nevermind" on USED CD because, well, you're a poor college student and Napster doesn't exist yet.


There were several proper noun gimmes today, which was lucky for me, because I really needed them. Thought 1A: Lives the dream was ___S IT ALL, but IDI helped me put the "IT" in the right place, and thus really got things moving in the NW. Erich Maria REMARQUE, gimme. Never read "All Quiet," but I own a vintage paperback copy, and his name is just really memorable. Kendrick LAMAR (18A: Hip-hop artist Kendrick ___) just won a bunch of Grammys last week, I think (I find that particular awards show, and ... well, most awards shows, actually ... unbearable). His "To Pimp a Butterfly" was a huge critical and commercial hit last year. You'll see him a lot in the future. Not as much as ADELE, but more and more, for sure.

I have heard of internet addiction, but not INFOMANIA (45A: Facebook-checking fixation, e.g.). Seems to have some currency, but as with many MANIA-suffixed words, it's hard to tell if it's supposed to be bad or awesome (see WrestleMania, Obamamania, etc.). Is the "sack" in [Salt sack?] supposed to be a bed? Like ... a sailor (salt) sleeps in a BERTH? Might've been a little too cute for me. But again, overall, just fine. My only real problems were EAR PIECE for EAR PHONE (still think EAR PIECE is better answer) (14D: Bit of Secret Service attire), and SHAR-poo for the damn dog. At one point, I seriously (seriously) considered SHIT-poo. Rhymes with SHIH tzu better than SHIH-poo does, that's for sure. Plus the double-scatological angle just felt right.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*[update: I did not have a FIXIE BIKE, it seems. I had a simple one-speed, which you stopped by pedaling backward. A FIXIE BIKE has no free wheel ... no coasting ... I could coast on my childhood bike, but there were definitely no brakes. So mine was single-speed, but not "fixed gear." Look, if you want to know more, go here. I really don't get it or care]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:17 AM  

Easy-medium for me. HEFNER and FIXIE BIKE were gimmes so NW went quickly. Unfortunately, FIXIE BIKE was a gimme because a kid was recently killed in San Diego on one. Apparently, they have no brakes.

Biggest problem was Out YOU GO before OFF which had me staring at REu knowing something was awry (my rule of thumb is that if it doesn't make sense it's very likely wrong). INtO MANIA, on the other hand, sorta made sense. DIKTATS was suspect but turned out to be right.

Loads of good stuff here, liked it a lot!

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

Initially I thought "Still in the box, perhaps" was "Dead," which I still think is a terrific answer. Have at it constructors.

Minor quibble with the clue for "FIXIE BIKE," as the defining characteristics of such contraptions is the lack of freewheel, which is otherwise standard in the many, many other types of single-geared, two-wheelers. Your kid might have a singe-geared BMX, or you a single-geared beach cruiser, but they're no fixies my friends.

Fixie riders literally can't stop pedaling if their wheels are turning, no gentle coasting for them. They stop by unweighting the back tire and slamming back the pedals to lock up (sometimes with the assistance of front brakes). I think they're suicidal enough on flatland -- once saw some nuts tearing down the Marin headlands on a pair. Huge skids to slow down.

Anyway they're standard issue among the hipster set.

Otherwise a solid Saturday that helped ease the pain of Friday.

bad hair day 1:15 AM  

Totally agree with you on shit-poo and EARpiece. Liked GUAC, too, both in the puzzle and on my plate.

Unknown 1:37 AM  

I googled the Second Viennese School, and it turns out both Schoenberg and Berg from yesterday's puzzle are in that group.

mac 5:49 AM  

Medium for me, too.

I had the most trouble with the NW, because I didn't know the bike name and thought the Trivial Pursuit pie wedges were eights.

Satisfying Saturday, all in all.

Loren Muse Smith 6:38 AM  

Rex- the only word in my margin this morning is "shit." I have a friend who has such a dog, and she refers to him as a Shit-poo. I had EAR piece, too. Bet the solving world is teeming with "piece" guys this morning.

MALTESE is another mean little dog you can mix with a poodle – Maltipoo.

I felt pretty smug when I had XIPHOID as my very first entry. Ok. I misspelled it "Xyphoid," but still.

I confidently put in "nabob" before MR BIG and thought 13D would end in "duds."

Just last night I read about PER SE's latest review. Ouch.

And just yesterday in class I suggested the title "Ode to Eau de TOAD" to a student who couldn't think of something to write about for a poetry assignment. She was not amused. Sheesh. Lighten up, why dontcha.

So then things got sillier. We're going to compose different kinds of poems and paper the hall with them for poetry month and were imagining that it'd be so cool we'd be invited to go on Ellen. To explain why our odes don't follow a standard formula, we practiced looking subtly imperious and saying, "We didn’t want the constraints of a classic Pindaric or Horation ode, so we opted to write paeans, which afforded us much more creative freedom." We had to look up how to say "paean." Shayla W could deliver the line the best, so she'll field that question when Ellen calls us out.

Never heard of a FIXIE BIKE. I had a "spider bike" that I bought off S Sizemore for $25. I made it all striped and cool looking with mechanical tape. The handle bars fell off shortly afterwards, and I had a nasty wreck. On the street. No helmet. Sgyr fell mvent on dkekkkkyt ht my lipqwtt head ahkk.

Two grades in the grid: A MINUS and DEE. You get the A MINUS, James. (The minus is for that *&^%word DIKTATS! I mean it really – can you imagine writing that word on the board in front of a bunch of 10th grade boneheads?)

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

Another fine Saturday puzzle. All what Rex said. My guess is he didn't have a fixie as a kid. A fixie is the same as a track bike. No brake and no freewheel. You turn the rear wheel and the cranks turn. The rear wheel, chain, and cranks are "fixed." More likely he had a one-speed, or a push-bike, or a single speed bike with a coaster brake in the rear hub.

I once saw a guy ride a fixie from Sausalito up to the Golden Gate Bridge and then up to the top of the Marin Headlands. That's a money ride.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

Harder than medium for me. Never heard of a Dixie bike in my life. Meh.

BigMistake 7:53 AM  

Fixie is now a common term amongst the cycling community. Of course, they would never use fixie bike as it is redundant ... but is definitely modern

Dorothy Biggs 8:08 AM  

TIL: Italian has the same number of letters as MALTESE.

I read the article on FIXIEBIKEs. Wow. The article mentioned that front brakes are added in some places just to make them legal. Where I live, I can't imagine riding one. The hills are crazy...and you'd be pumping like mad to get up a hill and then the spin of the pedals going down would be even madder. I don't know if I've seen anyone riding one around here. The tell-tale sign must be how they're handling a downhill. I just can't imagine a bike that can't coast...

Lots of words I didn't know today: DIKTATS, INFOMANIA, FIXIEBIKE, LAMAR, and REMARQUE. Interesting trivia about ELGAR, HEFNER, BROSNAN, and the MALTESE language's similarity to Italian.

I put my toothpaste on my toothbrush...not on the BRISTLES. And RENTROLL sounds like what happens when you click on a link on the internets for cute kittens and instead see Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up." Can you get RENTROLLed?

Weird solve for me today.

GILL I. 8:09 AM  

@jae - first paragraph - Yes! That's how I knew of FIXIE BIKE. Pretty sad way to learn a new word!
I love all the poo dogs. We have two doxiepoos and they own our lives.
Agree with @Rex on the oldyish feel to the puzzle but I still enjoyed it. It took me a while to get on JM's wavelength but our favorite hated despot IDI and the "this is on you reading list" REMARQUE, gave me a few entries upstairs.
Bob Hope fits for "Peoples Sexiest Man Alive of 2001."
I thought the works for the Second Viennese School was called "ATONALity." Same mistake with out YOU GO and of course Italian would never be clued so easily on a Saturday - grazzi very much.
@Leapy...Was XIPHOID your first entry....? It does cross BONEHEADS!

Unknown 8:15 AM  

Third grade and A minus is one of the cheesiest riddlepun clue-answer combos I have ever seen. Amost as poor as salt sack and berth. A decent clue has to be a little more accessible and connected to reality than these random mental flickers.

AliasZ 9:00 AM  

Holy SHIH-tzu, is the English vocabulary so slim that we have to resort to making up words and phrases that nobody ever uses or hears anyone else use? I dunno, it seems arbitrary and unnecessary. INFOMANIA seems a cutesy enough derivative of nymphomania, made up by some bored journalist describing internet addicts, and APTS to describe an all-too-widespread phenomenon of our information age. I for one, would like to become more webabstemious and less infogluttonous. FIXIEBIKE on the other hand is a desperate reach, not worthy of the gold standard of crosswordom, be it a Britishism or not.

I was thrilled to learn the name of that stone arrowhead-shaped (BONEHEAD) protrusion at the bottom of my sternum: XIPHOID process -- what a nifty name! -- from the Greek xiphos (ξίφος) meaning sword, also called an ensiform process from the Latin word for sword.

BEE and DEE, ESE and MALTESE, ALETA atop LAMAR and GUAC were not pretty. What up with GUAC? A GUAC GUAC here and a GUAC GUAC there, here a GUAC, there a GUAC, everywhere a GUAC GUAC.

Just after yesterday's SCHOENBERG/BERG pair comes ATONAL today. That's cool. I also loved IDLE HANDS, OFF YOU GO, STARTUPS, HAS IT MADE, EARPHONE, and a few other normal English words and phrases. Why do so many German men have Maria for middle name: Carl Maria von Weber, Rainer Maria Rilke, Erich Maria REMARQUE, etc.?

RENTROLL -- Lessor's rapid-fire knocking on your door on the first of each month.
DIKTATS -- Needle art on the male anatomy? (Ouch!)

Enough enigma, pomp and circumstance, let's get down to some serious ELGAR here.

Enjoy your weekend!

Unknown 9:03 AM  

Rex - Please read All Quiet. Arch of Triumph also great!

Z 9:14 AM  

@jae - Yikes.

@LMS - I am imagining angry moms storming your door because their bonehead sons snuck off and got DIKTATS and when asked, "Wherever did you get that idea" they all said "Ms. Smith's class."

ALETA/REMARQUE, a new couple just moved into Natick.

PPP Report

Teflon clue
MALTESE (debating whether a language fits, although it is a proper noun)
Trivial Pursuit clue
BAJA Fresh

18/72, 25%

Teedmn 9:21 AM  

The NE was good to me again today. Kendrick LAMAR having been on the front page of the NYTimes for what seems like a week made 18A my first entry. TARP and BERTH (wanted "hammock" first) cemented that corner and GUAC let me slide back into the NW.

I guess I've never actually played a game of Trivial Pursuit - just used the questions for fun, because "pie wedges" in connection with the game was a WOE for me. And I have several friends who own a single speed bicycle (give me my 27-speed every time) but FIXIE BIKE was only vaguely familiar.

The bottom half got stickier when I couldn't bring to mind Pierce BROSNAN and my Big Cup purveyor was Wendy's. XIPHOID sounds like the Greek version of typhoid and I was thinking it would have something to do with the collar bone which I was mixing up with the scapula. Just so many wrong ways to go today but no DNF.

A fun Saturday, taking just a few minutes longer than yesterday's challenge. Thanks, Mr. Mulhern.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:50 AM  

Good puzzle, Medium for me.

One w/o, 3 D, EIGTHS (oh, dear!) >> SIXTHS.

Don't have time to read everything now, but never ever heard of a FIXIE BIKE, and from what I have seen here, I wasn't missing much.

Gotta run.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Medium for me too, some nice fill. But am I the only who hates the recurring clue of People's Sexiest Man of whatever year?!

chefbea 10:06 AM  

Too tough for me. Just had to come here to say I thought I was going to BEE at 44 across

Airymom 10:29 AM  

I had trouble with 49D--Cobain. It is not "wrong", but it is inaccurate. "Nirvana" was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, not Kurt Cobain himself. Yes, he is a member of a group which was inducted, but the Hall makes a clear distinction. Thirteen artists have been inducted twice--as part of a group and as a solo--among them Paul McCartney (Beatles and solo), Lou Reed (Velvet Underground and solo), Michael Jackson (Jackson 5 and solo). Eric Clapton has the distinction of being inducted three times (Cream, Yardbirds and solo).

If you haven't visited the Rock Hall, go. It's fantastic.

Sir Hillary 10:31 AM  

Hard to muster any enthusiasm for this one. It's a perfectly fine, challenging, fair Saturday puzzle, but it wasn't very much fun. No doubt, I was due for a letdown after loving yesterday's so much.

-- Nice Scrabbliness without being forced.
-- Never heard of FIXIEBIKE, ALETA or XIPHOID, but all were very gettable via crosses.
-- Man, DIKTATS just continues to look ridiculous to me, especially chasing yesterday's FIAT.
-- Smiled at ATONAL following yesterday's Austrians.
-- Hands up for EARPiecE.
-- Couldn't sleep earlier this morning, so went downstairs and stumbled upon "Shattered", a 2007 film starring Pierce BROSNAN and Gerard BUTLER. Didn't look too good, so I moved on to "SportsCenter".
-- Yesterday's banter had me thinking of "What's Opera, Doc?" the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon short ("Kill the Wabbit" sung to Wagner). Writer of that cartoon? Michael MALTESE.

Tim Aurthur 10:44 AM  

Tried to fit Ginzburg or Eros in 1D. That was a really famous obscenity case around that time. I don't remember the HEFNER case.

Alison 10:45 AM  

Tough but fair. Not much sparkle for me though

Unknown 10:51 AM  

Never heard of a "fixie" bike so that caused me a moment of pause. But most of the answers could be inferred from the clues. Just what I like. Yay me for finishing a Saturday! That's a rarity.

Nancy 10:55 AM  

Was Homer's bulwark a person or a mountain range? I guessed right, and so I finished: AJAX crossing XIPHOID (huhhhh???) rather than ARAL crossing LIPHOID. Whew!

For me, this was enormously hard, but rewarding, as opposed to yesterday, which was enormously hard but annoying. Very few of my problems were caused by unknown proper names, although there were the baffling ALETA and LAMAR. PER SE to REMARQUE to STATUS QUO let me in, as the NW, with its completely unknown FIXIE BIKE was impenetrable. Even though I had HAS IT MADE from IDI and TEEM. I had forgotten about HEFNER'S obscenity trial, I was looking for NEESON rather than BROSNAN, I didn't know TEFLON was a resin, didn't know MIAMI VICE from the clue. But it was fair and I prevailed -- without Googling. Liked it.

Aketi 11:04 AM  

I have vague memories of having to back pedal back to brake with my first bike. Don't think it would qualify as hipster FIXIE BIKE. It was purple with butterfly handlebars and a leopard spotted banana seat. Since I lived at the top of a hill in Marin, I was only too happy when I graduated to a 10 speed which made it easier to ride back up the hill to get home.

@jae, that is so sad. My husband almost did himself in on roller blades in San Diego because he hadn't learned how to brake despite my nagging, We were there visiting his sister and he previously had only roller bladed on relatively flat roads. As he was veering out of control down a hill when he was going far too fast for effective braking I kept yelling at him to head off road into a nice patch of sanda sandy patch but he didn't hear me, After he recuperated from the concussion that resulted from slamming into the back of a parked car he learned how to brake really well and still roller blades.

@z and LMS, as the mother of a teenage son, I now have to clean the coffee off my iPad screen.

XIPHOID was my first entry because it's where you place your knee in your opponent in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

cwf 11:07 AM  

As a Brooklyn resident who commutes to Manhattan on a bicycle, I am all to familiar with FIXIEBIKEs (a no-cross gimme). Those idiots careen down the bike lanes on the bridges with their feet propped on the drop bar so their pedals can freely spin. Of course that means they are barely in control of their vehicles (they brake by reaching a foot around to drag on top of the rear wheel). What for? Who knows?

Hartley70 11:07 AM  

I'm the wrong generation for a FIXIEBIKE. Never heard of it, although it seems like I have a barn full of other exotic two wheelers left behind by GenXers. For me, bike Nirvana was coasting along on a blue and white Raleigh with silver handlebar streamers. Those were the days!

This took me longer than usual because I got hung up in the SE corner. I never watched MIAMIVICE, way too busy in the 80's. I didn't think smiley faces had NOSES. Mine don't. XIPHOID process is so cool to learn today! How do I drop that into a conversation?

This was tough but satisfying and that's what one wants on a Saturday, Mr. Mulhern.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:26 AM  

Not a LOB job by our old PAL James Mulhern, as it's never MINT to BEE on a Saturday in the NYT's! All TOAD it was light years away from being neither LOUSY nor SEEME, simply because it somehow managed to avoid having a Falcon MALTESE soaring about! Although risking having ALETA LAMAR in the grid didn't seem to cause that much harm,and despite the BUTLER not having done it, I still gave it a rating of TEEN..."Who steals my PERSE" PER SE!

Warren Howie Hughes 11:38 AM  

AliasZ, You could've excluded from your otherwise sterling REMARQUEs the following quibble, because it seems you have a pressing problem mit German males having die namens of Maria, und why ist that Mein Herr, afterall, "Alles the schoenin sounds of DEE Welt in eine single wurden, Maria, Maria, Maria...:-)

Carola 11:58 AM  

Tough for me! It took all I had to rassle this one to the ground. It was one of my faster Saturday START-UPS as PER SE, REMARQUE, and EARpiece (yes, me, too) went right in, and I thought "OFF YOU GO!" But noooo! That remained the STATUS QUO for ages, as I just couldn't see how to go on and I felt consigned to the BONEHEADS, sitting there with paper and pencil in my IDLE HANDS. Finally getting BERTH opened the way to the rest.

About rasslin' it to the ground - coming here I see that actually I didn't: TEaM x FIXiABIKE.

Andrew Heinegg 12:05 PM  

I keep getting dnf'd by my lack of knowledge of TV shows and movies that I never saw. In this puzzle, I somehow never found appealing the idea of a police detective with an alligator named Elvis chained to the detective's boat and able to scare off bad guys. I also did not find it credible that a police detective could be driving around on the job in a Ferrari. Go figure.

Chaos344 12:06 PM  

Excellent puzzle. I'm in agreement with Rex on the "medium" difficulty designation. Also agree with his critique of the puzzle and with his reasoning on Shit-poo.

@LMS: Your best post of the week so far! The last paragraph was "coffee through the nose" material.

Loved your description of a MALTESE. Although I love dogs more than most people, I call all types of the Maltese, Shit-poo, variety "Football dogs." Draw your own conclusions as to my thought process for that. It seems all these little breeds or cross-breeds ever do is Shit-poo indiscriminately, bark incessantly, and try to bite your ankles. All their names are DAMMIT, and their owners invariably think the aforementioned behavior is "Cute!" The saying goes,"there are no bad dogs, only bad owners" and I'm a firm believer of that assessment. Unfortunately, I can't explain the nexus between small, ill-mannered, poorly trained dogs, and a preponderance of bad owners? Wass up wit dat?

As for the SALT SACK=BERTH thing, how many old salts here remember the ubiquitous "ditty bags" affixed to every bunk bed in boot camp? Ah, the good old days!

Lewis 12:19 PM  

Despite the recent change to Playboy Magazine, I still think the HEFNER/EPIDERMIS cross has a natural ring to it.

We have a mini-theme of double EEs (six), and both a SLOWS down and a CALM down. I liked the clues for TARP and STARTUPS, and the answer OFFYOUGO. This was slow going for me; it put my brain into its highest gear (my brain is not a FIXIE), with each square filled in a major victory.

When my father played golf, he'd be cursing after almost every shot, he would ruin at least one club a round by thwacking it against a tree, he'd be sweating and cursing hole after hole. And at the round's end, he'd break into a smile and say, "Man, I had a great time!" That's kind of how I felt with this puzzle.

kozmikvoid 12:26 PM  

We scientists like evidence before considering something fact. Theories are great, but as the name suggests, not facts. I had a theory, so I did some quick calculations, and it turns out...fact.

My 2016 solve percentage before getting skunked: 96%

My 2016 solve percentage after getting skunked: 57%

Fact: Skunk spray makes you stupid.


Pre-skunk brain would've looked at ALiTA/RiMARQUE and at least given pause to consider the 'E.'
Post-skunk brain had everything else right and never gave that cross a second thought.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  


Cassieopia 12:39 PM  

I'm a road biker so def knew the FIXIE clue. Those bikes are oh-so-hip and scare the bejesus out of me, not sure what the attraction is beyond they are dangerous to ride. Give me a coaster over a FIXIE any day.

I *adored* salt sack. Gave me an extra smile on this gorgeous Saturday.

jberg 1:01 PM  

Almost a DNF, but fortunately my daughter dropped by this morning and told me about the XIPHOID process. I had the whole grid except for that P. I guess I'd have got it -- had to be P, T, C, or S, and once I'd run the list I would've seen it was APTS, not AmTS on that RENT list -- er, ROLL. But it might have taken a lot longer.

I'd heard of track bikes, but not FIXIEs. After reading up, I guess the latter is the more general term -- track bikes have specific modification (e.g., higher pedals, so they don't scrape on the turns) specific to their use in velodromes. Entirely from crosses, and if HEFNER didn't seem so likely I would have gone with the dIXIE BIKES thing.

Further research also disabused me of my longstanding belief that Erich Maria REMARQUE's real name was Kramer, reversed and respelled to make it seem more exotic. Not so, he was entitled to the name by both.

I had trouble with 45A, INFOMANIA, ad I really wanted the too-short FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), a better answer in other respects.

No Z. Sigh.

OISK 1:06 PM  

Found this extremely difficult, and got beaten by it in two places. Both completely my own, lazy fault, failing to correct entries that no longer fit. Not knowing about "UPN" hurt a lot also, because it would have caused me to change ear piece to ear phone. (who calls it that ???). So I had BERTI and Statusque, and just lost patience, never changing it. Status quo, a fine answer, never popped into my muddled mind this morning. And, for balance, I messed up the SW as well. I actually had "Ed Asner" for sexiest man alive, until the clues gave me Brosnan. ( I had the "SN" first). Fixed that, but never fixed "Out you go" to "Off you go," So had "intomania", which of course, made no sense.

This was a fine, apt, suitable Saturday puzzle, and I just mangled it. And I can't even blame pop culture; I got Lamar (???), aleta, Cobain, (know the name, not who he is...) from the crosses...

Worst personal performance of the year. And the year is still young...

The English Avocado 1:12 PM  

You liked today's puzzle, and didn't spout any venom at lava temperature. What a pleasure to read an essay free from venom.

old timer 1:27 PM  

It occurs to me that one disadvantage of doing the puzzle in pen and ink is that I am unwilling to write in any but the most obvious answers until I can see the crosses. Thus I had BRISTLES and RENTROLL but was unwilling to write them in. If I solved with an app, I would write them in and probably see the acrosses more easily.

The result was I needed a lot of help from Dr Google to finish this one in any reasonable time. I was happy with the result -- as OFL wrote, this was a pretty solid puzzle all in all.

M and Diktats 1:28 PM  

Was toolin along pretty smooth. Envision, if U will: M&A's solvequest progress as he pedals furiously along, makin sloooow but steady progress, on a runty tricycle. Now behold the whole shebang suddenly floppin over sideways, upon him hittin the FIXIBIKE/DIKTATS intersection.

Nephew once considered buyin a "signed" Kurt Cobain CD, at a Chicagoland neighborhood record store. M&A was a witness. Only thing on it was a handwritten "F*ck". Was priced way too high, but could tell he really wanted it.

fave weeject: LOB. Mainly cuz of that {Alley-oop starter} clue, which conjured up almost as many M&A ideas as the {Screw feature} one did.
First want, on the former = 1BC? First want, on the latter = 2SUM?

Fun but hard. Hey! Second and third wants, on the latter! har

Masked & Anonymo6Us

Alby 1:35 PM  

Healthy mix of Scrabble letters and misdirection. Had EARPIECE for EARPHONE, thought STARTUPS could be SHARPDUDS or something similar, thought STATUSQUO could end with QUE (some variant of Que sera sera) or ESQUE, had OUTYOUGO for OFFYOUGO. I've only ever heard FIXIE, not FIXIEBIKE. Still don't get BERTH. A well-fought puzzle. Now the weekend can begin.

Fred Romagnolo 2:00 PM  

I've always considered MALTESE to be a dialect of Italian, like Sardinian, or Sicilian. ALETA of the Windy Isles finally married Valiant and is (was?) the mother of Arn. Since TEaM was as good as TEEM, I ended with FIXIaBIKE (never heard of them). Don't know BMI, and thought cONEHEADS too non-PC, but ended with it. Isn't the crossing of RENTROLL and INFOMANIA green-paintish? But they weren't OLD SAWS when Franklin coined them (or were they?) How come all the hostility to small dogs (or is it really a cover for hostility to dog-owners)? I didn't know that factoid about Elgar, but he was the logical choice for an answer. I also learned XIPHOID, which I will promptly forget. I should have mentioned yesterday that SCHOENBERG had an early quite listenable-to period before his descent into twelve-tones. Gurrelieder is a good example (spelling?) Quite Mahlerian!

Fred Romagnolo 2:10 PM  

Also, from yesterday, I challenge anyone who claims not to know OFFENBACH, to hear the Barcarolle from the Tales Of Hoffman and say they never heard it. EARPHONE came easily to me because I have Obama-like ears, and need them because I can't get those little things to stay in.

puzzle hoarder 2:58 PM  

I'm a little late today on account of being at work. Other than the NE I'd slant this puzzles' rating toward easy. 12D was the hardest name to come up with even having the last four letters PERSE made it obvious. I spent about half of yesterday's time on this solve.
Parts of the puzzle were Monday easy . 1A went in on first guess. 1,4,5 and 9D all went in just as fast. Then you get FIXIE BIKE and DIKTAT. The latter looks like Russian. No NAME, AJAX and XIPHOID went in one right after another. Strangely enough NANA was harder to get
My strangest write over was entering IALTI for 39A. I had the ALT from the crosses. I read the 39A clue and thought "Oh Italian". And started filling in the missing letters. It was only after the second "I" that I realized something was wrong. I have a habit of unscrambling or scrambling letters to fit what I'm thinking without noticing. Nevertheless MALTESE went in the very next thing.
This was a fun solve. I just think the editor should have swapped it with yesterday's to keep the difficulty progression in order.

dick swart 5:13 PM  

For the few who might be worried about stopping their FIXIE short of jumping off:


I didn't have this problem my Raleigh 3 speed Sturmey Archer in-the hub-gear and Brooks leather saddle.

Rabi Abonour 6:16 PM  

NE crushed me. Still don't get the BERTH clue.

FIXIE BIKE is pretty weak. "Fixed-gear bike" and "fixie" are both legit cycling terms, but FIXIE BIKE is something you would have only heard from some wannabe hipster trying to buy a track bike in 2007.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

Wish I had had you for an Emglish teacher: the riff on ancient Greek prosody was my kind of intellectual snobbery

Leapfinger 12:04 AM  

Like @Sir Hillary, found yesterday's beauty a hard act to follow. Then there was INFOMANIA (PER SE, and with regard to the clue), RENTROLL and the inexcusable GUAC, all of which made me BRISTLE. Had no idée FIXIE_BIKE till the very end, either. Aside from that (ans a moue for MR_BIG), I thought the clues and entries good, with Saturday-worthy head-scratching, and way cool to see the Second Viennese School after yesterday's theme.

@Gillster(num), I solved by segments and got to the XIPHOID area fairly late, but did think the X in AJAX might start XIPHOID even before reading the clue. I still have a pretty good HEAD for BONEs, all the appendages and the vertebral spine,from the atlas -- first -- to the cocc-SIXTH.

@AliasZ, Loved your Obiter DIKTAT. An Owie for sure, but what fun to think of the perfect design!

SHIH-poo in the puzzle reminded me of seeing the Toy category in the Westnminster earlier this week. It always drives me round the bend to see these little experiments with Nature that are nothing so much as a STYLE statement, and that live in constant danger of being TROD upon. I don't think that every breed has to be BIG, but would REMARQUE it's sound Genetics to RE-CUR.

Late hours; Time to head for Tierra del OFFYOUGO.

Leapfinger 12:30 AM  

@kozmikvoid, the part of your brain above the cribiform plate is probably still pulsating and shrieking silently in pain, so the rest of your brain has huddled against the back of your skull in an effort to escape its agony. This reaction will gradually subside. Your brain didn't get stupid; it's just in sensory overload.

@FredRom, I'll put it on my calendar to email you monthly and remind you: XIPHOID, XIPHOID, XIPHOID. Next up: Manubrium.

Phil 2:43 AM  

Yes EARPiecE was better But i put in phone because 2 down already had a PIECE.

Greg 3:20 AM  

Thanks for the ALETA/REMARQUE Natick.

Unknown 7:25 AM  

I agree with Rabi about Fixie Bike. By the way, they are usually known as track bikes, as others have noted, and that's really where they should be used. They are lousy for hills, as any single-speed rider can attest. They don't have brakes, but they can be slowed... poorly.

Incidentally, every child's tricycle is, technically, a fixed-gear bike!

kitshef 9:57 PM  

DNF. There were just too many crossing WoEs, and no way I was going to hit them all. Guessed correctly on ALETA/REMARQUE, FIXIEBIKE/DIKTATS and ELGAR/RENTROLL, but died on REu/INtOMANIA/OutYOUGO.

Also, RENTROLL? Yuck. And its partner APTS stinks, too.

Burma Shave 10:59 AM  


It ELATES me to REMARQUE, those HOES gave me DIKTATS in bed,
for APIECE in the dark, each one NOSE where my BONEHEADS.


spacecraft 11:41 AM  

FIXIEBIKE???? I thought sure I had made a mistake somewhere, but everything else fit. Sounds like a term only BONEHEADS would use. I certainly never dreamed such a thing existed. Same with RENTROLL. Is that what Stimpy calls his PAL during an argument? No, that's the roll of bills you need to pay the rent any more. OTOH, XIPHOID was familiar to this anatomy student.

A few of the clues seemed determined to derail the solver. Chief among them is "Orders" for a very specific set of "orders:" for a defeated country already war-torn. "Salt sack?" for BERTH is another.

I did get it done, a rare Saturday with no errors and no writeovers, even. I just had to trust that the SHIH part of the "-poo" came from the shih tzu. So it couldn't be any worse than medium. Lots of studlies today but nary a yeah baby in sight. Watch those IDLEHANDS! B. OFFYOUGO to Sunday.

rondo 11:49 AM  

Kind of odd my first entry was LAMAR? He has gotten some airplay on MPR’s 89.3 The Current. But a rapper as the first fill? That’s not usually my STYLE. My neck hair BRISTLES.
This was a weird solve in that I pretty much had the whole east side filled (except for _IPHOID) and nothing on the west. A bell rang, I dropped that X in there, and that’s how the west was won. But FIXIEBIKE? Huh? Never heard of it ‘til today.

@kathy of the tower – Welcome! I do often make MN references (see above). It will be nice to have another who can relate. Or put up with my drivel.

Only fictional yeah babies as clued, but of course EVA could have been my favorite desperate housewife.

A Phillips screw does not have a SLOT as a feature. But other screws might have a SLuT as a feature. I was kinda torn at that answer. And DIKTATS crossing on the MRBIG EPIDERMIS?? No thanks, PAL.

This puz had the makings of a DNF until that X fell in. Been to the desert on a horse with NONAME . . .

Diana,LIW 2:56 PM  

Had quite a few smiles for the longish answers, but even more smiles - and laughs - from the comments today, from Rex on down.

ALETA is clued as a comic STRIP queen, but my tiny bit of research seems to reveal her as a comic book character - no? So I'm thinking Kathy, Cathy, Blondie, even Little Orphan Annie.

Learned about FIXIEBIKEs, and don't like the idea of them. Seems like every day I add to my list of driving dangers - road rage, tail gating, DWI, distracted driving, and now bikes that can't stop. Hey, folks, same road same rules - that includes working brakes.

Never heard RENTROLL. When I was a Lessor I had a Rent Book.

Laughs at myself category: 1) Clue for PERSE had me thinking of some kind of pill (take with water on an empty stomach), and couldn't get away from that idee fixee. 2) And I learned that ATONAL is not a type of Vietnamese food, as I was misreading the Viennese clue.

Hi Towering Kathy - welcome to Synderland!

Diana, Waiting, but not-yet-ready-for-prime-time Crosswords

rain forest 5:50 PM  

When I was about 10 years old, I got to ride a FIXIE BIKE, and lemme tell you, that is a hard thing to do, not to mention scary. I think Olympians ride them when they are in the velodrome in those arcane races.

Speaking of arcane, this puzzle was a hybrid of the arcane and the seemingly made-up, to me. I was helped tremendously by knowing FIXIE, and by putting in STATUS QUO with no crosses, and stumbled along from there. Though I had no write-overs, I found it challenging. RENT ROLL definitely is made up, but what the heck, eh? Stupidly almost put in AhAb before I realized, Homer, and then that bone was revealed.

Not as much fun as yesterday's, but almost as challenging, and of course I did finish this one.

kathy of the tower 12:48 AM  

I was a CPR instructor for about 20 years. Anyone who has taken a CPR class has heard of the xiphoid process. Take a class, it can save lives and you don't have to do mouth to mouth breathing anymore, just chest compressions.

Thanks for the welcome, syndielanders.

Unknown 2:02 AM  

Don't ever get a pants leg caught in the fixie gear. I was going fast, pants and skin torn to shreds, fell hard. That's when I learned to use pant-leg clamps (or whatever they're called).

Tor Anderson 4:52 PM  

Wholeheartedly agree on the "inaccuracy" however I'd go further; its wrong.

Bananafish 8:25 PM  

Has PARSE for PERSE (figured parse is when a word is "taken alone"), ABETA for ALETA (figured it was from a viking name from Hagar the Horrible or something). That gave me ABATES instead of ELATES, which makes just as much sense (e.g., when pain goes away - i.e., abates - it lifts a lot).

Never heard of a FIXIEBIKE before. Rex is right for once - don't really care either.

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