Give up out of frustration in slang / SAT 4-23-16 / Pericles domain in Shakespeare / Panama paper revelation / Tomb Raider weaponry / Chocolaty treats introduced in 1932 / Intl org that was first to land probe on comet 2014 / Acronym in 1990s news

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (really really easy for me, but I think I lucked into some stuff...)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ESA (47A: Intl. org. that was the first to land a probe on a comet (2014)) —
The European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, with 22 member states. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,000 and an annual budget of about €5.25 billion / US$5.77 billion (2016). (wikipedia)
• • •

RAGEQUIT was a gimme (1A: Give up out of frustration, in slang). Couldn't get the "Q" cross straight away, but I got EDD and UNWED, so I knew it was right. That jump-started the whole solving experience. For the second day in a row, my time was ridiculously low. I wasn't even speed-solving (I rarely go flat out on Fri or Sat) and I almost broke 7. That's absurd. I broke 5 yesterday (even more absurd). This feels anomalous, as I struggled with both today's Newsday and today's LAT, so ... (OH) I DUNNO what's going on. Paolo Pasco is very very young. 15 or 16, I think. You can't really tell that from this puzzle, though RAGEQUIT does skew a bit young (it's a gaming expression). BROMANCE once felt newish, but now feels quite established (64A: Relationship in many a Seth Rogen film). TUMBLR's been around a while (18A: Blogging site owned by Yahoo). In short, we have a puzzle made by a young person that does not fell young, but that also does not feel tired, old, and dated. It's kind of in the Goldilocks Zone for the NYT. Just right. As with yesterday's puzzle, there's a little bit of cruddy short stuff, but not such that it interferes much with solving pleasure. ESA probably interfered the most, as I've never heard of it. Had no idea what it referred to. Took me several googles to track it down because [Define ESA] doesn't turn it up at all (lots of Spanish-related hits, unsurprisingly). So ESA shmESA SMERSHa. But anything else I might ding is just as small and far more innocuous. Longer stuff isn't mind-blowing, but it's quite solid.

This puzzle seems like it might turn on proper nouns. For me, the following were All gimmes: "LA BAMBA," Hermann HESSE, Portia de ROSSI, Jason SEGEL, and Edward SOREL (though I wasn't *quite* sure about the spelling on that last one). Oh, and despite never really having watched "Seinfeld," I knew ELAINE off just the "N" (65A: Sitcom character whose dancing is described as "a full-body dry heave")—her "I" gave me RABBI (48D: Black hat wearer) and helped me close out the puzzle, which was threatening (there at the end) to not cooperate. Anyway, if the above names or a good chunk of them are beyond you, you might've had slowness issues. I didn't know MARCO Island, Fla. at all, and as far as characters from "A Series of Unfortunate Events" go, I know only OLAF, so ESME took a little work. But nothing else puzzled me. I even somehow knew Pericles was from TYRE, with no help (Happy Shakespeare's birthday, btw) (yes, it's his death day, but by convention, it's also his birthday). Like I said, I got lucky today. I was in the PascoZone.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:08 AM  

Medium for me, with the bottom half on the easy side and the top half tougher. Like @Rex I knew most of the names which helped a lot.

Had to change GmT to GST because mORELY just seemed wrong.

TUMBLR, Tinder, Grindr...can be confusing if you neither date nor blog.

You might have a problem if you are iffy on spelling RAREBIT.

Paolo has a link on Xwordinfo to the 65a clue.

As delightful as yesterday's with a bit more crunch. Liked it.

chefwen 3:38 AM  

WOW! A Google free Saturday and Friday, life is good. I only wish that was the norm rather than the exception. From now on I will strive to make it so.

Had a wee bit of a problem in the NW. RAGE QUIT was a new expression to me. I'm more a "throw in the towel" age bracket. OH I DUNNO and SEND AWAY didn't come to me quickly. Had to rely on downs to help me fill that in. Like an idjit I threw in ironer at 9A knowing all to well that it was dumb and incorrect, but I put it in anyway. It did not stay there long. Puzzle partner gave me GYM RAT after the Wite Out did its magic. He also supplied SMERSH and ST. DENIS. After that we zoomed through the rest. Loved it!

George Barany 5:47 AM  

Bard-on the interruption, @Rex ... today is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death (see also later in this post). There is a wonderful Google doodle to that effect.

As for @Paolo Pasco's puzzle, I am as usual in awe of anyone who found this easy. Using criteria disclosed earlier, I got through about 2/3 of the grid before strategically using the "check" and "reveal" functions [it's not in my personality to actually RAGE_QUIT, so that phrase was new to me even though @Tim Croce and @Peter Wentz both used it in Saturday puzzles within the past year]. While I've finally figured out BROMANCE, you'll have to excuse me for not being able to keep track of sites like TUMBLR, TINDER, etc.

Having a Y instead of I in ELAINE sure kept me from finding RABBI, a word which was certainly clued in a tricky manner. The ESA clue was great, insofar as their landing a probe on a comet has to stand as one of the mind-bogglingly amazing achievements of human civilization of the past few years. ASBESTOS was a sad reminder of numerous disruptive renovation projects that I've had to survive.

@Bob Kerfuffle, what say you about today's IDES clue? As for TYRE, @Paolo clues it today for a Shakespeare play (how appropriate), while yesterday, @Robyn Weintraub had it as a British roller. @Robyn also told us, yesterday, to ORDER_ONLINE, while the day before that, @ Alex Bajcz has us go IN_STORES for stuff that is "not sold on TV or online." And so, another week of New York Times puzzles winds to a close, with interlocking arcs in themes, fill, and clues ...

Yesterday, those of us living in Minneapolis--and throughout the nation--had a purple mourning, but the day also marked an important centennial in music history that coincided with the first night of Passover. So, to all my friends here, regardless of race, religion, or politics, let me wish you L'Chaim!

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

Actually, it's Shakespeare's death day.

mac 6:38 AM  

Pretty easy Saturday, but an enjoyable solve.

My biggest problem was with GST, where I wanted GMT. Morely? More so? Finally saw the light.

Bromance is still new enough for me to make it seem fresh in a puzzle. Several odd spellings LaZboy and Tumblr, f.i. , but well known both.

Loren Muse Smith 7:33 AM  

Much harder for me than for Rex because of the northeast. After I changed "ginger teas" to GINGER ALES, three fourths of the puzzle just went in boom boom boom.

But with "nsa" and then sometimes "osa" for the international probe guys, (and being utterly unfamiliar with SMERSH), that ne corner took a lot longer. I kept thinking the pressing person could be an "ironer" (ick) and kept wanting "sci" for the still mysterious GST.

MAS could've been cross-referenced with BAS instead of PAS. Or with QUAD (stack). Hi, Martin.

And cool cross of DATA SET/STATS.

Hah – and I never noticed this before, but you could argue that they're SITARS and not "standars" for a reason, folks.

Back in the '60s in Chattanooga, G. Folk would RAGE QUIT every single neighborhood birthday party and run home crying after he lost both the Pin the Tail and Drop the Clothespin games. Hey – at least he avoided the chocolate cake with the requisite grape Kool-Aid.

Hey, Paolo – here's my personal Pasco's Wager - the argument that it is in my own best interest to behave as if I can finish the grid, since the possibility of failure outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise. I sure am glad I stuck with it long enough to tease out GYM RAT and SORELY. Great solve!

kitshef 8:04 AM  

I'm so used to @Rex damning puzzles I think are OK, that today came as a surprise. I say it completes the sandwich - yesterday's gem between two slices of ROT.

Knew RAGEQUIT immediately, and was tempted to throw the puzzle away in a fit of pique and forget about it, knowing that any puzzle with that at 1A was only going to irritate me further.

Kept at it, and am SORELY sorry I did. OHIDUNNO is terrible. I had INcans at one point, desperately hoping it would turn out to be wrong, only to find it's really the almost-equally-terrible INACAN. GINGERALES clue is terrible. BROMANCE is terrible. DATASET is merely bad.

Fairly easy overall, except for that NW where GYMRAT/GST/SORELY/TYRE were very hard to see. Not helped by having nyMET at first.

To give credit where credit is due, there were several WoEs today, all fairly crossed: EDD, SOREL, STDENIS, MARCHO, OREM, the spelling on SEGEL, and the clues for REBS and UZIS. So, I can see real promise for this constructor if he can cut down on the weak entries.

Dorothy Biggs 8:16 AM  

A bit on the challenging side for groans, so I liked it.

I did like (and was a bit surprised by) the clue for the Panama Papers. Those came out just a couple of weeks ago, right? I don't remember that many times when the NYT had a current affair that was, you know, "current."

I had trouble with the proper nouns...ROSSI, SOREL, HESSE (as clued, I know the name well from xwords, and got it from the double S crossing), STDENIS (again, I know this name, but the clue was not obvious to me), SMERSH (??), and a host of others.

I thought the IDES clue (10/15) was pretty dang obscure. It was the closest I got to a groan in the entire puzzle.

@jae: I also had "mORELY" and for a while, given the recent "skyey" I thought it was right. But when I finished and didn't get the happy jingle, that was my first change from M to S, and voila! jingle!

Mr. Cheese 8:25 AM  

3 words the first time through. 10 words the second and then breezed through is record time.
Am I finally getting good at Sat puzzles or are they getting easier?

Glimmerglass 8:25 AM  

@anon 6:31. No one knows for sure when Shakespeare was born. The only record is his christening. However, the tradition is that he died on the same date he was born. I found this puzzle very challenging. Never heard RAGE QUIT; didn't remember Portia's whole name; and the rest of the NW could have been almost anything. I worked all the way around the compass from there, finding only little bits until the SW. From there RAREBIT and some good guesses got me into the SW. RAN RAMPANT then got me up into the Middle East (off the PANT). Which gave me YOU HEARD ME and the NE. That also meant 44a had to be MAS, and OREM (a guess) revealed HOYAS and the inscrutably clued EYE LEVEL (contact??). Now O'HARAS finally revealed GINGER ALE, which opened the, for me, very difficult NW with ROSSI and RAGE. Whew! No gimmes for me. This baby was hard anf fun!

astroman 8:26 AM  

Unusually kind of you not to mention MAS PAS BAS.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:52 AM  

Fine puzzle, what a Saturday should be. Medium for me, with quite a few answers that had to come letter-by-letter, including RAGEQUIT. OTOH ESA was a gimme. But finished clean, no write-overs.

@George Barany - Yes, October 15 is a legitimate IDES, one of four in the year. I don't expect that any constructor will ever clue an IDES as the 13th of any of the eight months for which that is the case.

marysue 9:08 AM  

Grr. I also had GMT rather than GST and didn't catch the obvious error. MORELY seemed evocative of the awful SKYEY so I totally missed the error until morning. Grrr.

Unknown 9:24 AM  

If someone, anyone, had watched me solve this puzzle they would have concluded that it must have been the first one I ever tried to do. Almost nothing clicked. Massive cheating (25% of the letters) was required. To boot, almost all the PPPs were unknowns.

I had a few initial guesses, like ASBESTOS off the 3 “S.” However those were there only because the down clues indicated plurals. Nonetheless, confidence in those was even low enough I wouldn’t fill it in. As well “frowned upon” didn’t equate to its status as highly regulated.

I own a LA-Z-BOY. Think I could have even gotten that? Nope. I forgot how it’s spelled so thought it had to be something else. Loved LA BAMBA when it was on the charts in 1958/59. No clue from the lyric which I’d never seen in written form. And so it went, top to bottom and side to side.

As such, I feel unworthy to comment on most any of the fill, good or bad, except that I liked the clues for DÉCOR and RABBI. After the solve (a very poor description of what I did) I could see others will probably fare much better as the clues/answers seem quite fair.

That said, I thought it was a well-done Saturday puzzle. Just not for me for solving it and there was no “frustration” about this.

Enjoy the weekend!


Teedmn 9:37 AM  

I found this tough due to the (perceived, I'll let @Z tell me if I'm right) high level of PPPs. I knew ROSSI and LA BAMBA as gimmes but others which should have been gimmes (O'HARAS, NAFTA) were clued vaguely enough that I needed a goodly amount of crosses first. And eMERSH gave me a DNF, since sabermetricians probably need STATes as well as STATS.

Nice aha moment at ROLEXES. And I thank MR. Pasco for the easy SE, which allowed me to scratch my way out to the rest of the grid.

When I was younger, I was often the one who RAGE QUIT (I wasn't very athletically inclined) but now I shrug and say OH, I DUNNO.

@LMS, standars, nice. And @Leapfinger, from yesterday, loved the ioi's.

Carola 9:44 AM  

DNF, as when I was asked for Portia's last name, my response was "uH, I DUNNO." Still, I did like those two Shakespeare-related Downs bracketing the top: Portia (though not the one from Belmont) and Pericles from TYRE. That location I happened to know, having seen a wonderfully creative production of the play last fall at Oregon's Shakespeare festival.

I found the grid difficult to get seemed that just as I might be getting a start, I ran into a proper noun I didn't know. It took me a long time to reach the tipping point where answers begain TUMBLing into place. Favorite fake-out clue: "Look inside" - never suspected it wasn't a verb.

Lobster11 9:45 AM  

"This puzzle seems like it might turn on proper nouns." Yes indeed. And most of OFL's "gimmes" were WOES for me, so I wasn't able to finish without a couple of Google cheats.

I was able to complete all but the NW, getting the unknown-to-me proper names via crosses, but then it was over. I don't know why RAGEQUIT never came to mind, but without knowing either ROSSI or EDD I couldn't get a foothold anywhere and that corner, and not knowing SOREL kept me from getting there from the South. Also, I have gripes about two other answers up there:

First, I have to object to GINGERALES as a plural. "Ginger ale" is a thing, not multiple things. It is -- not "they are" -- a popular home remedy for various ailments. This prevented me from seeing GINGERALES even after I had -ALES in place. I wanted it to be WIVES TALES for the longest time, which I submit is an infinitely better answer for "Some home remedies."

My second objection is to "OHIDUNNO." I'd be fine with "IDUNNO," but adding that "Oh" to the beginning seems pretty random. Can't you add "Oh,..." to the beginning of any phrase?

Maybe I'm just feeling more Rexy this morning than Rex. I get grumpy when I come up short on a puzzle that I feel like I should've been able to finish.

Z 10:08 AM  

Nice clue on TAX EVASION. You can't get much fresher than that. I got started with HESSE (My copy was called Magister Ludi) and the entire Eastern seaboard fell in short order. I worked around counterclockwise, finishing at TOYOTAS/RAFTS/NAFTA. If I hadn't written in "single" at 7d in response to the 6d clue I might have been done even sooner. Clean, fresh, very little dreck (some of us follow space news almost as closely as we follow sports, so ESA was easy), a very nice Saturday. ESME and Olaf entertained my boys on many long car trips. A Series of Unfortunate Events read by Tim Curry also made those trips entertaining for Ma and Pa.

Which brings me to the PPP, which I started counting after a similar puzzle which I loved but several solvers railed against for having too much pop culture (PPP are Pop culture/Product Names/Proper Nouns). Today's puzzle, easy in my book, comes in with 33/72, a whopping 46% of the puzzle. If this stuff isn't in your wheelhouse this puzzle will play much harder than easy.
The List:


* indicates the clue is PPP

Finally, OWM analysis. We have same sex marriage and a Los Lobos hit. We also get a couple of literary women. This puzzle skews younger than usual, but still heavily white male.
BTW @skyey blue late yesterday - "LaLaLa" is not a counter arguement. Typical, yes, but basically an admission.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

I should have RAGEQUIT this puzzle, and I almost did -- many, many times. I finished with one letter wrong: I had pAGEQUIT, crossing pOSSI. Well, why not? It was this awful puzzle PAGE that I wanted to QUIT, and I have no idea who Ellen is married to. So many miseries here for me. Once again, the world of cars sabotaged me, as I wanted some sort of Scotsman at 8D. I didn't know this TOYOTA from all the other TOYOTAS. I don't get DATA SET at 25A; I was looking for some kind of beautiful wood like mahogany. I don't get the clue for 41A. What kind of contact? I know nothing about sabermetricians; nor Tomb Raiders; nor CSI; nor "Soy capitan." Isn't an episode from any fictional TV show a TALE? (53D). Why did I keep plugging at this, even though I wasn't enjoying it at all? OH, I DUNNO. Masochism, I suppose. Do I feel proud of my only one letter wrong finish in the face of such adversity? Not especially. I'd rather have the last hour back, to tell the truth.

Steve M 10:19 AM  

Ed Hall? Had no idea so that foretold a sloggy Saturday

Nancy 10:21 AM  

@kitshef & Lobster 11 -- Thanks for reacting to this puzzle as negatively as I did. Looks like we all have similar wheelhouses. Were it not for you, I'd feel like a complete outlier today. So many solvers here found this easy; and even @Teedmn and Carola, who may have been initially put off by parts of the puzzle, seem to have warmed to it by the time they finished. I fail to see how anyone could find this easy, but I guess if all the pop culture clues are gimmes...

Norm 10:25 AM  

Too many names.

cwf 10:37 AM  

Went backwards, from ASBESTOS to RAGEQUIT and had some pauses, but each time I got an answer, I knew it was right, a sign of a well-constructed puzzle.

But I don't say EVASION, I say "avoision." "It's a crime. Look it up!"

old timer 10:44 AM  

Yo no soy marinero
Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan, soy capitan!

The most charming performance of La Bamba was by some teenage girls in Peru on one of those Great Railway Journeys of The World episodes, which I saw decades ago. I love trains and rode several that had been on that show one wonderful day in Switzerland.

I also love Paris, so STDENIS was a gimme. So was MARSBARS. There is a marvelous filk song with that name -- look it up, you'll enjoy it.

STARGAZE was a little silly. Your chances of actually seeing a movie star in Hollywood are slim to none, unless a new star is being added to the collection on Hollywood Blvd.

My slow parts were up top. If it wasn't for having read about MRMET in previous xwords I never would have guessed GYMRAT. And I almost RAGEQUIT when I felt stymied at the end, in the NW. Had wanted "wives tales" myself. And had written in "castaway" instead of SEND AWAY which is what the clue called for.

So GINGERALES was my last answer. And for me personally, an accurate one. When I was growing up a GINGERALE was often prescribed by my mother if I had an upset stomach. Nowadays, I have a GINGERALE only on an airplane flight. Somehow it still seems comforting. But I've been known to also have an adult beverage or two.

I'm with OFL today. Very easy (for a Saturday) and very well done. Loved MAS and PAS. BAS was the only piece of weak fill, and EDD Hall was the only name I did not get except on crosses. The Hall of fame for people in my generation has to the Monte.

Robert Friedman 10:55 AM  

Why have the media forgot the 400th anniversary of the death of Cervantes? Would have been a nice week for a DON QUIXOTE clue...

Hartley70 10:58 AM  

This was Saturday tough for me. About the only gimme for me was RAREBIT and that's bizarre because I've never even seen the dish. It started off hard and ended the same way as I worked counterclockwise around the grid. I've not heard RAGEQUIT, the OH was superfluous and the NE was a killer where only TYRE came easily.

Do we have MARSBARS in the US? I thought they were a British candy bar. I've seen them in Bermuda so maybe they've wending their way across the pond.

LABAMBA was a surprise answer that elicited a smile from me. When my tots were 3 and 4, they became obsessed with it and began to screamed and danced with glee when they heard it on the radio or television. I had no idea why. It's a childhood mystery they've never explained. Once they saw the movie a little later, the obsession continued. As adults, it still gets a laugh from them, and a copy of the film has appeared among the Christmas wrapping more than once.

Hands up for ironer although GYMRAT is so much better. STDENIS could have been any town to me, so I needed the crosses. It was a good struggle in average time, and so the day begins.

Tita 11:33 AM  

Ha ha - I didn't fall into the GmT trap, because Miss Smartypants had ang (Angstrom), even though I should have remembered its abbv would be AU.

And that's why I eventually needed some very minor cheating, in the form of asking PuzSpouse if I should know 40A. He gave me enough of an answer to know that my initial guess of STDENIS was right. He went there by Metro last year, against the gasps of horror from our native friends. (It's a pretty sketchy neighborhood, and now infamous as home to the terrorists who carried out the Nov 2015 Paris attacks.)
The basilica where those monarchs are buried is considered to be the first gothic church.

Then I googled Highlander TOY dog to make sure they are a thing...well, the suggestions forced an unintended cheat...

Never ever heard of SMERSH in spite of watching (never reading) plenty of Bond.

All in all, I enjoyed this easier-on-the-bottom-then-on-top puzzle.

Grazie, Sig. Pasco!

GeezerJackYale48 11:34 AM  

I am with you, Lobster11. Ginger ale is a singular. I also had "wives tales" and still like it a lot better! So the northeast corner ate me up for the longest time, before somehow I worked out "ragequit" (an expression I had never heard, but I suppose I could have actually DONE). Being an ornery geezer, I persevered until everything grudgingly fell into place.

Lewis 11:37 AM  

Can you find the backward name in this puzzle of a constructor who has published 31 puzzles in the NYT?

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

WTF is GST---I thought astronomers use GMT.

puzzle hoarder 11:46 AM  

I haven't checked yet but I'm pretty sure we've had RAGEQUIT since I've been following this blog. My memory told me it was quit something or something quit. From QUAD it was easy to work down the middle divider and fill in the SE corner. The other three corners took some work. Most of the names @Rex mentioned were complete unknowns that I had to make up. There were others I knew but were difficult to recognize from their clues. The SW and NE were the hardest. I liked the pairing of brand names from different centuries which seem to be missing vowels.
This was just what I was looking for after yesterday's romp, a clean grid that I had to work for.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 11:53 AM  

I thought for sure it was Greenwich MEan Time and so I thought I'd see complaints here about "Morely" similar to the other day's "Skyey" . I felt just as bad about it ( should have stopped to think a little harder instead of rage quit). Enjoyed the rest of the puzzle ... And a Saturday with only one error and no Mr Google is not bad for me).

r.alphbunker 11:54 AM  


My a posteriori count was 34/70 (

And look at all the false starts I had in the NW
8D. {Highlanders, e.g.} TOYOTAS from _ _ _OTAS

1A. {Give up out of frustration, in slang} RAGEQUIT from [H]A[T]EQUIT

2D. {In the future} AHEAD from AHE_ _

3D. {Some home remedies} GINGERALES from GIN_ _RALES

23A. {10/15, e.g.} IDES from _DES

19A. {Lose support} SAG from _AG

1D. {Portia de ___ (Ellen DeGeneres's wife)} ROSSI from ROSSI

GeezerJackYale48 11:56 AM  

I also had no idea who EDD Hall was; just looked him up. Hmm, should have watched the late night shows when I was young enough to stay up that late. Now I just record Stephen Colbert and watch him at 9 PM the next eve before my bedtime!

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Way too easy for a Saturday. Finished it at breakfast, possibly record time for me. Same thing happened with yesterday's. Either I'm getting really good or the NYT's puzzles are getting easier.

skua76 12:09 PM  

I've seen GST in these puzzles before. Never thought it would be the correct answer here...after all the S in GST stands for std. which is in the clue. GST is more commonly Gulf Standard Time (GMT+4) or as I prefer, South Georgia Time (GMT-2), as I'll be visiting there in the fall. I don't think any astronomers refer to it that way though, they mostly use UTC.

Tim Pierce 12:12 PM  

Pretty medium-hard for me, and like some other solvers I landed with one wrong (mORELY for SORELY). Any other hands up for TAXEVAders before TAXEVASION?

Other places where I stumbled: in the NW, heAD for QUAD, wIvestALES for GINGERALES, and moveAWAY for SENDAWAY, making that whole corner all but impossible. I had to get a hint from the spouse to unwind myself from that.

In general I liked this one a lot: very fresh feel, and hard but fair (especially in that NW), but I crashed hard on 60D: Word that sounds like a letter of the alphabet that's not in it. The ambiguous antecedent led me to parse that as "a word whose pronunciation sounds like a fake letter of the alphabet" and I spent the puzzle racking my brain over words like RYE and AXE to decide if they sounded like they should be letters of the alphabet. I'm probably the only one who had that problem, but I wish the clue had been worded a little more precisely.

And, Rex, if you wanted to understand the clue at 47A (Intl. org. that was the first to land a probe on a comet (2014)) it would have been easier to google "organization that landed a probe on a comet" :-)

Mike Rees 12:21 PM  

I gotta call BS on the GST/SORELY cross. I had the M instead of the S, resulted in DNF for one letter. And really, after SKYEY, why wouldn't MORELY be a word? *sigh*

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

"GST" is just plain incorrect, and I speak as an astronomer. No astronomer has ever used it. The former standard time zone was GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), but this was switched to the (very slightly) different UT (Universal Time) a few decades ago. GST is not, and never was, a thing, and thus has no place in a crossword.

Z 1:26 PM  

Greenwich Sidereal Time has appeared before, so I got it right. This is the one time I can think of where I'd prefer taxes to science.

@Nancy - "table" as in how you organize your DATASET to make some sense of it. As for the "TALE" clue, Rod Serling often (always?) referred to the stories as "TALEs" in his openings. And, yes, you should feel proud when something this heavy in PPP is conquered.

Master Melvin 1:32 PM  

I also accepted MORELY because, as bad as it is, it seemed better than SKYEY.
Hesitated on LA BAMBA because for me it was a 1950's hit. By Richie Valens, nee Valenzuela, who I believe died in the plane crash with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper the day the music died.

TUMBLR = contemporary crap fill.

Dolgo 1:33 PM  

It was fairly common for English children to be baptized on the third day, but the symmetry with his death day and the fact that the 23rd is St. George's Day(England's patron saint) makes it an inevitable traditional day for his birthday.

OISK 1:45 PM  

You can count on me, @Nancy, to support you on this! I did finish it, but product or computerese like TUMBLR, Mars bars, Rolexes, LAZBOY, pop song lyrics ( I had "Caramba" before I got the "L") EDD Hall??? Rage quit is another of those expressions I have never heard nor used, but I have seen it in puzzles before. Jason Segel? Ed Sorel? OK, it is Saturday, but @Z had it right, just too loaded with pop slop and proper names. Oh, and "Twilight Zone episode" as a clue for "Tale," is just contrived nonsense. Really awful. More my style would have been "One may be from the Vienna Woods."

Speaking of which, I will be around the Vienna Woods for the next few weeks. Happy Passover everyone.

Fred Romagnolo 1:58 PM  

For those who aren't paper solvers, puzzle is on page C4, and if you turn the page you get to page C6, which has an excellent article on The Bard and mentions "Pericles, Prince of Tyre." Because most data from "olden" times comes from church records, we have dates of baptism rather than births, as with Beethoven, whose birthday has been settled by Charles Shulz in "Peanuts,"as December 16; there are eminent scholars who used to argue for the 17th (Wright Bros day). All in all I have to go with @Lobster 11, @Kitshef, and @Nancy as to the egregiousness of this puzzle

warren howie hughes 2:19 PM  

Rex, old bean, SORELY you jest! Your actually saying you happened to rely on a RAREBIT of luck to solve this Saturday offering from the mind of Paolo Pasco...IDES seriously doubt that! GEESE again!

RAD2626 2:47 PM  

@Lewis. Cute catch. Another famous Ed. But his name appears backward fairly frequently, no?

Enjoyed both yesterday and today. Liked edited clue for TAX EVASION. Current but news rather than pop culture. EHH, SEE, EYE (alt.), CAY, CUE, EWE all work for 60D although I never remember seeing that clue before.

Carola 2:55 PM  

@Z, thank you for the PPP accounting. I expected that it would be high today, but even so, I was agape at 47%.

In reviewing the list, I see that was able to write in only four without crosses: HESSE, the only one I knew for sure; BROMANCE and UNWED (nice pair!), which seemed pretty solid; and ST DENIS, a guess from the "Fr," abbr. in the clue + the only Paris saint I know.
I also wrote in gOREy, even though the clue didn't say "late" and even though I love SOREL's shaggy beasts.

@Nancy, yes, I was eventually won over, in part by nice entries (YOU HEARD ME), felicitous proximities (GYM RAT + TUMBLR), and happy associations with books I love (O'HARAS, EMMA) ...and then just being able to get almost all of it.

Lewis 2:55 PM  

@RAD -- I do believe it does, but I guess this is the first time I noticed the constructor connection.

Ryan 3:15 PM  

I may be losing it, but why is ASSES clued as "Yo-yo's"??

Anonymous 3:37 PM  

"...never having really watched 'Seinfeld'" Is that possible? How could Rex be in the socio-economic/education-level/age range demographic he is and not have watched "Seinfeld"? I think he's lying. If he's telling the truth, it explains a lot about his sense of humor.

Kimberly 4:28 PM  

I liked this puzzle quite a bit. It only made me feel slightly stupid, and when I entered the last letter and got the "Tada" instead of the dreaded "almost there" I felt like a genius.

I really got stuck on ROLEXES because my early morning Saturday eyes were sure these status symbols were banned instead of banded.

Loved RABBI. Really liked the clueing for DECOR. Northwest stumped me so I was happy to sail into BROMANCE and ASBESTOS in the southeast. When I checked the northwest downs, my past ownership of a TOYATA highlander saved me there. I liked that much of the tricky bits could be sussed out by logic... "Hey, this can only be this or that letter, does that trigger the cross? Why yes, yes it does."

Over all, it was a puzzle that felt "solved" rather than just "answered." Yay!

Clark 4:31 PM  

I see no problem with GINGER ALES. I can walk up to the bar and order two ginger ales and a coke. And if I tried curing my cold (or making myself feel better about my cold) with Vernors, Buffalo Rock, and Schweppes ginger ale, it would be perfectly natural for me to say I tried three different ginger ales.

Mohair Sam 5:29 PM  

Got to this one late. Fun, played easy/medium for us too (for a Saturday) - heavy on the PPP as @Z tells us, but crosses seemed very gettable for a Saturday.

RAGEQUIT, STDENIS, GST all learned fairly recently from crosswords, thank you. Can you get more current than the Panama Papers? I'm guessing Will moved this puzzle to the front of the line (he must have, if it had the normal waiting period it would have dated to when the constructor was in preschool). Saw a complaint about LABAMBA, but hey - that song was big in 1959 too, we got two shots at it!

My only beef is the clue for GINGER ALE. Home remedies to me are concoctions you put together yourself, not something you buy off the shelf. Yeah, yeah, I know.

When I was a kid my mother made a concoction she call Welsh RAREBIT. I loved it. Twice as an adult I ordered the stuff in restaurants, the food served had no relationship to what Mom made - yuck. With the birth of the internet I checked the recipe and found that the restaurants had been right and my mother wrong. Since Mom had passed before NetScape was born I never got to ask her what she served up, but it was damned good.

Paolo Pasco - I assume this is your NYT debut, if so congrats. Great work, we enjoyed. And keep 'em coming.

Z 7:22 PM  

@Mohair Sam - His third. Link is to Rex on the occasion of his debut.

@Ryan - I'm thinking just name-calling, although jackass is closer to yo-yo to my ear.

@Anonymous3:37 - I lasted three seasons before I stopped watching. At its highest, only 1 in 10 Americans watched it.

old timer 8:27 PM  

Oh, I grew up on Welsh RAREBIT, which in those un-PC days we called "Welsh rabbit", the implication being the Welsh were cheaper (or poorer) than the Scots. All it is is melted cheese over a half-toasted English muffin, but the cheese, properly, has an egg mixed in, a little A-I or Worcestershire sauce, and a dash of cayenne. As I've grown older, I've liked to add sharp cheddar (which is often white) to the yellow cheese, always Tillamook for we West-Coast folk. Beecher's is by far the best easily available American sharp cheddar, made in Seattle and now also in Manhattan, but it might be over-egging the pudding (so to speak) to use it in place of Cabot. Made in Vermont, but not at all pretentious.

Why did we have that dish so often? Raised a Catholic even though my mother wasn't, and in those days, no meat on Fridays, so it had to be either fish or cheese.

Nancy 9:38 PM  

@Z -- Thanks for counting up the incredible number of PPPs in this horror, and making me feel better about hating the puzzle. And thanks, too, for your nice compliment. But Z, I don't "organize" my DATA SET. In fact, I'm not even sure that I have a DATA SET. What exactly is a DATA SET and where does it reside?

@Hartley and @Mohair -- Welsh RAREBIT is one of the great human creations, and my deepest sympathies, Hartley, if you have never eaten it. I was not as lucky as you, Mohair, as my mother didn't make the dish from scratch. (Or even not from scratch.) But occasionally you could find a good version of the dish in an Irish pub. And for years, Stouffer's had a frozen, tasteless TV dinner version. And I, the hopelessly inept cook, learned how to doctor it. You heated it up, adding a very generous amount of flat, heavy (amber or dark) beer and some very, very sharp homemade Coleman's English mustard. You served it on white toast points. It was one of my faves for years, decades even, until I developed high cholesterol. Well, bad enough that I continue to eat cheese and crackers, but Welsh RAREBIT is absolutely the worst thing in the world for someone with high cholesterol, and so I gave it up completely 15-20 years ago. Sob. To those without a cholesterol problem, I say run, don't walk, to the nearest frozen food section and see if Stouffer is still making it. But remember -- the beer has to be completely flat; open it at least one day ahead.

@OISK -- I can always count on you to hate the puzzles that I hate. Have a wonderful time in the Vienna Woods.

Z 10:20 PM  

@Nancy - DATA SET, or "set of data," is just a compilation of related information. For example, you could save all your times solving the crossword puzzle with the day of the week for each time. Just having a running list of those times doesn't tell one much. But if you made a table with a column for each the day of the week then some patterns might be identifiable. My PPP list is a DATA SET which I identify in the puzzle than organize in a very simple table (in order with across first, then a line break before the downs). Although no one is really checking my counting (yet) I present the DATA SET as a check and for verification.

Nancy 10:28 PM  

Thanks, @old timer (8:27). Your comment hadn't appeared when I wrote mine. If it had, I wouldn't have inadvertently left the Worcestershire sauce out of my doctored RAREBIT recipe. It's an absolutely essential ingredient, along with the flat beer and extra-hot mustard, and mea culpa for forgetting it.

Rabi Abonour 12:13 AM  

As I was solving this puzzle, all I could think was "I love this." Then I looked at the constructor and everything made sense. Paolo is amazing. Great mix of modern and classic fill, and his grids feel so fresh and clean. Constructors 4x his age could learn a lot from him.



Burma Shave 10:26 AM  


I RANRAMPANT with a RAREBIT of information.


spacecraft 10:55 AM  

First, re my two(?) similar posts yesterday: I thought I had closed the first one instead of submitting. Somehow the message "Your comment has been saved"...etc. didn't appear. Or maybe it did and I was looking away. Anyhoo, it's the old "I'm not perfect" joke. I thought I made a mistake, but I didn't.

Sorry, but...well, I had to pad today's post out a little, because I had a monstrous DNF. The entire north was impenetrable--even with YOUHEARDME sticking up there. RAGEQUIT is part of the newspeak that I just never caught up with. GINGERALES seemed like it wanted to go in, but I thought: that can't be right. Not only have I not heard of that as a home remedy--and I've heard plenty--but how can you have more than one of it? Okay, I guess if it comes INACAN...

The whole mess was a mixture of I-have-no-flippin'-idea's and that-could-be-anydamnthing-at-all's. Epic fail. On to tomorrow.

rondo 2:15 PM  

So it seems that according to OFL’s mention of solving time, if I have a “good” day I’m about 4 to 5 times longer than him in solving time, probably longer sometimes. Maybe size (or time) matters. One w/o today, thought for sure it was GmT and that the constructor had “25d-ed”(remember skyey?) it with mORELY, until I read the clue again. Everything SW of that diagonal black line was in before almost anything NE of it. RAGEQUIT only by crosses. But again success in the end.

MAS and PAS and BAS, HOYA. How about No ___! and ___ de deux, and ___ relief? Oh yeah. And apparently constructors can’t get off their ASSES.

And OHARAS and TOGAS and TOYOTAS, more ASes. Plurals Galore – wasn’t she a character in a Bond flick?

Portia de ROSSI is a yeah baby batting for the other team. Wait a minute, I like women, too. Does that mean we’re on the same team?

RUM and GINGERALES? Might not be so bad.

Two weeks from today a mini-convention of Rex followers in St. Paul, then the MN Xword Tourney the following day. Gonna join us?

Any puz you can walk away from (successfully) . . . If I kept STATS this one would add to that DATASET.

Diana,LIW 2:45 PM  

Glancing thru the previous comments, I was extremely surprised that no one else mentioned that ESA (Rex's "unknown") is in just about every other puzzle in the NYT. Usually clued "Continental counterpart of NASA," or some such. It was one of my first gimmes.

Took me a while, and solved bottom up. Had ironer for GYMRAT and women for UNWED. (Ironer seemed apt for this "er" "ey" week, and I'm a bit of a GYMRAT.) Looked those up, and back to the solve. Then had to get ROSSI and GMT to finish.

Didn't know most of the PPPs, or at least they weren't residing at the top of my head. At least I didn't RAGEQUIT, tho I certainly considered it early on. Too much of a trivia fest for me to really enjoy it the way I did yesterday's puzzle. And too many clues were like that kid's game "I see something in this room that's blue."

Anon from late yesterday - enjoyed your response. One of my favorite lines ever in the Cheers Bar was when Norm says to Cliff(ey) "What color is the sky(ey) in your world?" Apparently mine is a brilliant azure, whilst yours is a softer, gentler, ephemeral colour.

Pressing on...

Diana, Not and Ironer

rain forest 3:59 PM  

First thought upon scanning the clues--"I'm looking at a DNF. After a closer look, I got 4 answers, but two of them were RAREBIT, and MARS BARS, which helped a bunch. Then came ST DENIS (hey, shout-out to me, but I ain't a saint) and SMERSH. Put puzzle down and came back an hour later, and then I remembered RAGEQUIT from a previous puzzle. So, gradually it all fell together.

Mom used to give me GINGER ALE when I was sick, so there's that, although as a plural, I don't know. TALE was weird. I mean, if asked to describe a Twilight Zone episode, I don't think TALE would do the job.

However, though I finished, "easy" doesn't describe this at all. Many proper names and other stuff that I basically don't know, and some things that I don't want to know. But, as always, pretty enjoyable.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

I wouldn't call this "in my wheelhouse" and yet thought it was both entertaining and pretty easy for a Saturday.

But it bugs me no end when matters in my area of expertise are clued erroneously, so:

@richandalice I'm with you all the way. GST could have been accurately clued as Goods and Services Tax, its more common use. When applied to timekeeping, however, GST = Gulf Standard Time.

Sidereal time, when referenced to Greenwich, is abbreviated GMST. It is abbreviated this way even in the Wikipedia article referenced by @Z (

The old standard for solar time, GMT, was long ago replaced by UT or UTC.

leftcoastTAM 4:36 PM  

Working from the bottom up, thought "wow, just like yesterday's, an easy one."

The NE disabused me of that. Specifically, GYMRAT, SORELY, and TUMBLER, ungettable because GST, MRMET, and TYRE eluded me as well.

Lesser troubles: SMERSH, because I identified it with Don Adams old TV comedy, but put it in because it fit.

Also couldn't come up with the "S" in the IDES/SOREL cross, because I didn't associate clue "10/15" with the calendar date and plain didn't know SOREL.

I didn't go into a RAGEQUIT, but felt a little burnt.

Julien Sorel 2:48 AM  

Final Jeopardy (11/21/2014)
Of the 5 cities mentioned in Shakespeare’s play titles, it’s the only one not found in Europe.

“Phoenician TYRE [now in Lebanon] an island city, wealthy due to colonies and purple-dyed textiles.

The European cities in Shakespearean titles are: Athens, Venice, Verona and Windsor.

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