Pop singer Goulding / SAT 7-23-16 / WW II landing site in Italy / 24-book classic / Biggest rival of US Foods / Year-end tradition since 1966 / Half of 2000s stoner-film duo / Longtime hair lightener brand / Alternative to Flix / Music genre for Miriam Makeba / Last name in funnies for nearly 50 years / First lady Barbara's Russian counterpart

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Constructor: Debbie Ellerin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: KIT CAR (37A: Do-it-yourself wheels)
Not to be confused with KITT.
For other uses, see Kit (disambiguation).A kit car, also known as a "component car", is an automobile that is available as a set of parts that a manufacturer sells and the buyer himself then assembles into a functioning car. Usually, many of the major mechanical systems such as the engine and transmission are sourced from donor vehicles or purchased new from other vendors. Kits vary in completeness, including as little as a book of plans, or as much as a complete set with all components included. // There is a sub-set of the kit car, commonly referred to as a "re-body", in which a commercially manufactured vehicle has a new (often fiberglass) body put on the running chassis. Most times, the existing drive gear and interior are retained. These kits require less technical knowledge from the builder, and because the chassis and mechanical systems were designed, built, and tested by a major automotive manufacturer, a re-body can also lead to a much higher degree of safety and reliability. // The definition of a kit car usually indicates that a manufacturer constructs multiple kits of the same vehicle, each of which it then sells to a third party to build. A kit car should not be confused with a 'hand built' car or 'special' car, which is typically built from scratch by an individual. (wikipedia)
• • •

I told you. Literally, I told you. The last time this constructor published a puzzle in the NYT, I thought that the theme was perhaps a little trite, but that the *execution* was virtually flawless. I then went on to write: "This puzzle doesn't excite me, but it does give me sincere hope for decent future work." Well keep hope alive, yes we can, etc., because here is the "decent future work" I was talking about. And a *Saturday* puzzle, too–way on the other end of the puzzle week from that last puzzle (a Monday). I just Enjoyed this puzzle. It had that nice mix of hard and doable, pop culture and vocabulary, and cleverly tough (or toughly clever) clues that make for a good Saturday work out. I had the feeling of struggling in many places, but I never got truly bogged down. Those corners are all pretty sequestered, and things can get a little frightening when you are in blind alleys, with no way out. But in the end it was like a delicious small-plate meal—I'm still kind of hungry, but what I ate was really satisfying. Maybe if I just have another drink, I'll be good. I might've lost the metaphor there. Now I'm thirsty. It's Really hot and we have AC in only room and that is not the room I am in. I'm gonna run and get water and then start another paragraph.

This one leans a little heavily on proper nouns, for sure, and while this mostly didn't feel excessive, I can see something like ELLIE (16A: Pop singer Goulding) over LIANE (18A: Actress Balaban of "Supernatural") being a real trouble spot for folks (I knew the former, but definitely not the latter—though I think the crosses are gettable enough that I could've blanked on both and still been OK). Names *definitely* helped me get started, as SEURATS was the first thing I plunked in (after inferring the terminal "S" at 1A: Those falling head over heels?). I then followed that up with AMY (Poehler) and "FAMILY GUY," and while that corner still put up a fight, I had enough of a toe hold to get moving. I had TRIMMED for SLIMMED at 33A: Reduced and then *wrongly* inferred the terminal "S" at 33D: Things that one is good at (SKILL SET), so the SW corner was probably the toughest for me. At first, all I had was IVS. But then 46D: Something to carve out seemed to be screaming NICHE, so I went with it, and things panned out. After that, I misspelled FAGAN (thusly) (41D: Charley Bates's mentor, in literature) and mostly guessed and fumbled at the letters in 38A: W.W. II landing site in Italy (ANZIO) (EZIO and PINZA and ANZAC were all shouting at me in my mind). But everything else went pretty smoothly.

I am outta here til August 2. My replacement knows more about crosswords than I do, so you're in good hands. He'll be taking over from Sunday to Sunday. Then it's an Annabel Monday. Then I'm back. See you back here in 10 days.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kitshef 12:09 AM  

Odd puzzle in a couple of ways. Unduly easy for a Saturday, even in the NE where spatS before rIFtS before TIFFS slowed things down, and you have the PPP stack of ELLIE, who I had a vague awareness of, and LIANE, who is a complete WoE.

Also, in most puzzles the focus tends to fall either on the longer answers, which tend to be interesting and/or fun, or the short answers, and whether they are junk or smooth. But this puzzle is all about the mediums: CRANIA, TIGHTWAD, SEURATS, KWANZAA, KOWTOWS, AUPAIR, INNARDS, RUFFIAN – that’s some great stuff. Meanwhile, the longs are meh or worse, and the shorts are so-so.

Thank you @Rex for the vid of the definitive FAGIN (hand up for FAGaN first), Ron Moody.

jae 12:11 AM  

Mostly easy again except for the NE which was tough! Bob Balaban I know, LAINE not so much. Same problem with ELLIE Goulding (Kemper would have worked for me). Plus I went through spats and todos to get to TIFFS. Also, Tote before TELL.

In the SW, Capp before KETT because I had LASIC at first.

Oh, and Chong before KUMAR, wrong decade.

Very solid Sat., liked it a lot, or what Rex said!

Constant Reader 2:06 AM  

Y'all have fun. Don't crossword in your sleep.

chefwen 4:13 AM  

Got off to a really slow start and handed it over to my puzzle partner with just a precious few words in place. Someone (I won't mention any names) put down angry man at 7D off the G in FAMILY GUY, it took even longer to sort that mess out, but once we did we seemed to pick up steam and finished without any cheating. A rarity for me on a Saturday, so yeah, we liked this one a lot.

Wherever you are going Rex. I assume it's on holiday, have a great time.

Martín Abresch 4:55 AM  

This puzzle and I got off on the wrong foot. FAMILY_GUY? Not a fan of that show. (It has its moments, but Its humor mostly comes from a mean place.) FLAME_WAR? Please, no. IPAD_MINIS? I'm an Apple guy, but even I'm tired of seeing each and every Apple product get a shoutout. Those were the first three longer answers that I got. Not technically bad answers. Just answers that didn't appeal to me.

Oh, and then there was 18-Across: Actress Balaban of "Supernatural." I'm only a casual "Supernatural" fan, but I have watched them all, and I could not recall her name. Even after looking her up I barely remembered her: she played a recurring character in a dull plot arc in the first half of a later season. Proper names get argued about all the time, but in this case I would be surprised if even a single commenter on this blog knew her name. On the other hand, the crossings were fair.

And don't think that I didn't notice you there, GO_I and FAGIN. Go back to your room and think about what you did!

I did warm to the puzzle. I got a kick out of some of the central crossings: KOWTOWS, KUMAR, and KWANZAA. Also SOBER_UP, TUBAS! There were a lot of answers that I enjoyed spread around the grid: AFRO_POP, KIT_CAR, TIGHTWAD, SEURATS, LIVE_A_LIE, and RUFFIAN.

It really is a nice grid, the more that I look at it. Too bad we got off on the wrong foot. I look forward to solving more of Debbie Ellerin's puzzles in the future!

Replying to a few comments from yesterday.

@beatrice - Thanks. I appreciated your discussion on "organism," and I find it interesting how the GREAT_BARRIER_REEF is defined in subtly different ways. Is it a structure or is it a living thing?

@Z - I enjoy reading your comments, but in this case we'll have to agree to disagree. I think that you try to interpret a rhetorical device literally, which is a misreading. While I can appreciate pure formalisms, sometimes the meaning of a text lies outside of the text itself.

RCooper 6:31 AM  

Enjoyed RAMA and LAMA(S). Just need DING DONG to completely make my day. Other than that, ditto to everything Rex said.

George Barany 7:19 AM  

@Rex, please enjoy your time off ... and looking forward to your return.

@Debbie Ellerin's puzzle, her second in the New York Times, introduced FAMILY_GUY (which I've heard of, never watched, fascinating factoid in the clue) and IPADMINIS (heard of, never used, clever clue) into the repertoire of Shortz-era words. SEURATS goes all the way back to 1975, and it didn't help to share word-length and two letters with RENOIRS. I was able to work out the SE corner but didn't know the proper names in the NE, and needed other help to complete the puzzle.

One word jumped out, though: STACK -- which allows me to segue to some unfinished business from yesterday. Thanks to so many of you--too many to single out--for your supportive comments, either expressed in yesterday's blog entry, or communicated to @MAS and me off-Rex. They mean a lot to us.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

Agree....whilst a tad easy, a very enjoyable puzzle. Nice to see a woman constructor....looking forward to more from her.

Trombone Tom 8:03 AM  

This one took me a while to find any traction at all until the SE finally gave way, first across and then vertically. Enjoyed working around the grid until I was brought to a dead stop in the NE with LIANE and ELLIE, both of whom were complete unknowns. Thankfully the crosses eventually let me finish. I am just not that up on pop culture.

Being a retired lawyer helped me with REMAND. Appreciated seeing my fellow TUBAS. Also liked FRENEMIES SKILLSET LIVE A LIE, and KIT CAR.

Took a while to get 29A as I was thinking karate BELTs.

Agree with what @Rex said and look forward to seeing more from Ms. Ellerin.

AliasZ 8:11 AM  

Has any word outlived its cuteness and usefulness as fast as bromance? Yes: FRENEMIES. In spite of it, plus the many unknown (to me) names, and the culs-de-sac in the NW/SE corners, this was a very enjoyable, clean puzzle. Excellent work, Ms. Ellerin.

As I was traversing the grid, at every turn a new sparkler revealed itself: LIVES A LIE, FLAME WAR, RUFFIAN, SEE STARS, TIGHTWAD, KOWTOWS, INNARDS, CRANIA etc., but I'm NOT SO SURE I like brands and products get free advertising. Like SYSCO, IPA...-whatevers. Then SUNIN after TANNIN on Thursday. IT'S A SIGN: all we need now is Coppertone.

How about a medley on TUBAS, including the William TELL Overture? What a wonderful world!

Enjoy your weekend.

Glimmerglass 8:24 AM  

Good review today, Rex. Happy battery-recharging. Get yourself unjaded (if that's a word).

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

@Rex - if I understand correctly what "cheater" squares are, it seems like the two here could have been easily filled with esses. Why wouldn't one have done so? Visual interest?

NCA President 8:26 AM  

Toughie because of two spots: TELL...can someone tell (heh) me how that is a game giveaway? I had TiLL...the till is like the pot, I figured. So in poker the pot is "given away," so to speak. I hope I'm wrong because either way that's a stretch.

Also, I had PARTi so KWANZAi, I guess. That little nugget was hiding in plain sight and it wasn't until I absolutely was sure of TELL that I scoured the puzzle and finally started to look at KWANZAi suspiciously. In a world where naan is spelled nan or kebab is spelled a thousand different ways, the "Japanese" version seemed plausible.

After I finished the puzzle, I looked back and like Rex, decided I liked it. And yes, those quadrants were like 4 different puzzles...a veritable Bento Box of xword.

I can't help but think 52A Picks nits wasn't a shout out to us commenters at Rexworld...since we're so often accused of picking the nits.

GeezerJackYale48 8:47 AM  

Wow. I am pleased that I worked it all out, but really lead too sheltered a life for this puzzle. Never watched "Family Guy", "Supernatural", "Weekend Update". Guessed what FLIX must be. Still don't know what the FLAMEWAR troll thing is all about. Never listened to AFROPOP (or heard of it, come to think of it). On the other hand, FAGIN, ILIAD, ANZIO and the other old stuff came easily. Oh, oh, I said OLD. So that's why I struggled!

Hartley70 8:54 AM  

It's a bird...it's a plane...it's a lady constructor on a Saturday! And a very nice job to boot. I suspected something was up when I saw SLIMMED. Could it be a TELL? I've only heard "SLIMming down" used in girl talk. Guys "drop a few", it seems.

I really liked KOWTOWS and INNARDS. They have some "Puzzazz"!

This played a TAD faster than usual and I only got snagged on LIANE and FLAMEWAR since I haven't heard of either. I really struggled to get them from the crosses. The multi-word phrases came easily. ITS A SIGN was especially nice.

Debbie clearly has the SKILLSET to be featured regularly here and I join Rex in looking forward to more from her.

seanm 9:08 AM  

this might have been my fastest Saturday, coming a day after my slowest Friday. literally less than half the time of yesterday. really surprised that these weren't switched.

pretty smooth grid, and I really appreciated that you didn't need proper nouns to get into any of the corners from the middle

Nancy 9:09 AM  

I finished this puzzle without cheating -- don't ask me how. What's the PPP ratio in this one, @Z? 60 percent? 80 percent? And almost none of it did I know: FAMILY GUY; KITCAR; SYSCO; Flix in the 30A clue; ELLIE; LIANE; AFRO POP (I had POP and I guessed at AFRO); SUNIN; I PAD MINIS. Leaving me with the very few I did know: AMY; ANZIO (which I got off the Z) and BARNUM (which I didn't know, but was pretty easy to guess at, since the song is exactly what the guy actually said); KWANZAA (though I had no idea how to spell it) and SEURATS (off the first S). I did like many of the non-PPP clues and answers: ACROBATS; FRENEMIES; KOWTOWS; FINAL BID; UMPIRE. I enjoyed wrestling it to the ground and beating it, but the huge number of really obscure pop culture names and products annoyed me no end. I wonder if OISK will hate it or if he, too, will emerge victorious and like it -- if only for that reason.

Karen 9:10 AM  

Easy for a Saturday, but I had to google to finish the northeast corner—I didn't know either Goulding or Balaban, and had SPATS for TIFFS. In the southwest, I originally had (Clark) KENT for KETT.

diabenese 9:17 AM  

For the past few weeks, my Saturday puzzle has been entirely different from the one reviewed here. I'm using my I-pad app. My Saturday puzzle is more like and expanded "mini". Anybody else having this problem?

Mohair Sam 9:24 AM  

Won't argue at all with Rex on this one, except we found it very easy for a Saturday. Held up for a while in the NE 'cause we didn't know ELLIE or LIANE, but the crosses were fair - and cleverly clued, btw (loved TELL and FINALBID).

Tinkered with the more famous "Oliver" before BARNUM, but the phrase belongs to old P.T. This is the third time I've tried to spell FRENEMIES FRiENdEMIES and lost time. I'll learn. Had "spats" before TIFFS as apparently many did. Misspelled KOWTOW with a "C" but KUMAR saved us. INsideS before INNARDS, but otherwise a clean sheet - rare for a Saturday.

@Martin A - Point well taken. Haven't watched the show in years, but I confess to having laughed at "Family Guy" a lot. You're right - that laughter often came from a part of me I don't like very much. Lady Mohair hates the show, speaks well for her.

@RCooper - Great catch on the RAMA LAMA!

@Rex - Enjoy.

Robso 9:41 AM  

As soon as I saw FRENEMIES I knew Rex would love it. I loved this too, because I had to set it down but could finish it when I picked it back up. Nice mix of clues.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

What is a flame war and what is the connection to a troll?

GILL I. 10:18 AM  

A very NICE puzzle. Unlike @Martin, I enjoyed it from the beginning wham bam thank you maam ACROBATS to the final PETNAMES. I did come to a big pause around the ELLIE/LIANE area and wanted all sorts of SPATS and RABIS in the NE section. Nothing another glass of Rioja couldn't cure. Well, maybe that last glass caused the total misspelling of COW TOES. I also can never remember how to spell KWANZAA.
TrIMMED before SLIMMED, GAMY before LEAN and I wanted Botox where LASIK was all nestled in. Like @jae, and without hesitation, I plopped in CHONG instead of KUMAR. I usually get all grumpy when I have to redo several sections, but not this time. It just gave me more time to enjoy the puzzle. Like @Rex, I didn't want it to end.
Yay Debbie Ellerin...Can we see you more often on Saturday?

QuasiMojo 10:19 AM  

Too much TV, pop, and product-placement junk. Filling out semi-famous people's names is not really that interesting a mental exercise. And the recurrent misuse of "ciné" needs to stop. Calling the magnificent Miriam Makeba's music "Afro-Pop" or however you spell it, is downright ridiculous. Did not like it.

Z 10:29 AM  

I don't time when I solve on paper, so no real feel on this one. I'm guessing medium. I didn't have anything solid until the power of two gave me EIGHT and NICHE to LEAN to LIVE A LIE and boom the SW was done. SLI and KIT did nothing for me, though. AFROPOP, DST, and UMPIRE were my anchors in the SE. Again, it was "I got plenty of nothing" to suddenly done. BUM took me a second to grok as an adjective (BUM knee) as opposed to a NOUN (the UMPIRE is a BUM). The south was done but I had only the smallest tendrils creeping into the north, the E of ELLIE, SYSCO, HRS, frets where TUBAS needed to be (thinking a bass guitar's brass), AU PAIR/PAO. Finally replacing AdanO with ANZIO gave me KWANZAA and got me into the NW. It is amazing how many animated TV shows and Stoner movies I'm vaguely aware of. Fortunately AMY Poehler gave me a Y--Y combo that had to be FAMILY GUY and enough to finish the NW. The NE I built from the bottom, WBA giving me WAR and BID and from there it was easy. I had to pause and consider DELT, thinking it was wrong until I realized that "press" wasn't the news media. This is the big reason I prefer print over computer. The app would have told me I was done even though I didn't know why DELT was correct. That feels vaguely like cheating to me.

All-in-all a fine solve. Rex is correct, though, to point out the high number of Pop Culture Names in the puzzle. I put the PPP at 24/70, 34%. Much of the PPP is very fresh, which is nice to see, and it also has some balance: AFROPOP and KWANZAA along side SEURAT and Exodus. Still, I expect complaints. SUN-IN?

I'm with @Martin Abresch on all the free Apple advertising. Do you think Apple purposely chose crossword friendly names for their products? BTW - My home is resplendent in Apple products, too.

@Martin Abresch - I can't say you're wrong. However, based on the text the same is true for you. You have taken literal text and interpreted it as a rhetorical device. You (and the vast majority of readers) have made a decision to interpret a text opposite its plain meaning. Absent the author telling us his intent you are as likely to be misreading as I. Candidly, I put it at 55-45 on "shade" for a variety of reasons, but I am quite comfortable with, "but I don't really know." I say this because I think we suffer from a shortage of "I don't really know."

Linda 10:31 AM  

@RCooper: Funny. Thanks for the laugh.

Teedmn 10:55 AM  

This was going so smoothly for a Saturday. I was excited when my first guess (though not my first entry) at 1A turned out to be correct. A small amount of chewiness in the SW when I had @Rex's trIMMED and off the "I" put in "I'm Seeing" as a prognostication proclamation but LEAN and NICHE sorted that all out. SE I had ReInA and I'M IN at 48D and 52D respectively but IPAD MINIS saved me there.

Then I was stuck. KWANZAA crossing ANZ with PAO and I couldn't move. Finally, re-reading the clue for 28D, I realized I wasn't looking for a hair coloring product. "SUN IN and SUNlight and you'll be blonder tonight" is now an ear worm, thanks! A girl in my class used the stuff on her long brown hair and she must not have had help because in the middle of her back, she had a big blonde blotch instead of the desired streak. I sat behind her in class and watched that splotch grow out slowly as the year progressed.

I'm avoiding talking about the NE, aren't I? Let's just say that WBA and SEES STARS weren't enough for me to see past the popular spatS. FLAME WAR is new to me and ELLIE and LIANE were total WOEs, at least until I Googled LIANE :-(.

Debbie Ellerin, a Saturday sophomore effort, IT'S A SIGN of great things to come!

G.Harris 11:29 AM  

I, too, had to google the NE because of the unknowable proper names and did not find the crosses "tell" and "flame war" to be fair and easily gotten. The balance was fun and, ultimately, gratifying.

jberg 11:57 AM  

I found this tougher than most (I usually do), but very enjoyable. The only proper names I knew were SEURAT(s), BARNUM, and FAGIN -- and the last was only a little help, since I did not know Charley Bates.

Starting at 1A and working through the acrosses, I had a blank grid until 30A TUBAS. I even questioned that because a) the s was superfluosu, and b) it blocked Salvage for 23 D (recover after being wrecked). I grew up in a Great Lakes port, and salvage was a big business. Then I saw TIGHTWADS, which brought me the NW, soon followed by the SE, with the two linked only by SOBER UP and KWAANZA. Well, you see the problem -- looking for a tough guy with a Z took way too long until I figured out the misspelling.

I predict before IT'S A SIGN, CombS and then CardS before CARPS (looking for literal nits to be picked there), but it all came together in the end.

@NCA President -- a TELL in poker is some habit you have that lets others know what kind of hand you got. Obviously, it's something you don't realize yourself. So if you always pull on your left ear which you fill out a straight, or grin manically when you're bluffing, that's a TELL. It gives away what you are holding.

Lewis 12:13 PM  

Clean and sweet. Lots of lovely answers, as others have pointed out: KOWTOWS, TIGHTWAD, ON_ICE, RUFFIAN, SKILLET, LIVE_A_LIE, and NICHE. And some excellent cluing; I especially liked the clues for AUPAIR, ENACT, and DELT. I learned FLAMEWAR and KITCAR. There are ACROBATS on high, and the puzzle prepares us for the Democratic Convention with a leftward LEAN.

The difficulty felt Saturday right, a brain-working trudge toward the light. Nicely done!

Numinous 12:23 PM  

I really dug this groovy Saturday morning POW work out. For some reason, I attack M-W puzzles full speed and get frustrated with things like the PPPs. Later in the week, I take a more contemplative approach. This I eased into with only three or four answers on the first pass. Almost everything else I figured out from crosses. Yeah, I put 'gamy' in before LEAN but that was obviously wrong and I managed to spell it KWANZAi because I thougt only of PARTi. The iPad app told me to check my answers and changed 'I' to A and I was serenaded with a finish well under my average time.

@diabenese, I suspect you are solving the 49 square "mini" by Joel Fagliano and not the actual puzzle. If that is all that is showing up on Saturdays, I'd suggest uninstalling the app and reinstalling it.

I've been a de facto feminist all my life. I was raised by a single mother who growth was stunted by the glass ceiling. I always thought it was unfair. I don't really keep score but I guess it's bonza that a Sheila has her name in on a Saturday. I too will be looking forward to further installments from her.

@Fred Romagnolo, it was not until years after his death that both Debussy and Ravel finally admitted to having been influenced and inspired by Erik Satie so, initially, what you heard is right, just not the whole story. Most of France had a really hard time with his music at first. His first attempt at Furniture (ambient) Music was met with the rapt attention of the audience which frustrated Satie no end. He would have loved Muzak.

Andrew Heinegg 12:25 PM  

I'm with Rex on this one except that it took me an embarrassingly long time to complete this so, I cannot claim any easiness to it. It was one of those puzzles where I literally knew almost none of the answers in the first glance. However, I had that feeling that sheer persistence would pay off. I thought it was well constructed, interesting and, unlike others, I thought it was Saturday appropriate. I too could have been much faster with the solve if I was pop culture savvy but, then I would not have struggled with the solve and isn't that part of the point for a Saturday solve?

Masked and Anonymous 12:42 PM  

@RP: Now *that's* what I'm talkin about, snarkmeister. Primo Constructioneer Encouragement. Good for U. Have an A-one layoff; may all yer getaway dreams come true, and include A/C in every room.

Wow is this fill ever clean. Tougher than snot, tho. My initial scanquest revealed a couple of 3-letter words, and a couple of false starts. Thought then to self: There is no RAM&A-LAM&A way (yo, @RCooper) you're gonna solve this puppy, grid breath. But, eventually M&A did it. There was considerable cinnamon roll carnage along the way, but … done and fun and over. Probably came down like that, due to the tough clues and clean fill combo. Really gave me a pride of accomplishment. Thanx, Debbie Ellerin (and Shortzmeister).

fave weeject: GOI. Only nod of the desperation hat I could unearth.

most challenging corner: The KETTCAR one, for m&e.


Masked & Anonymo6Us

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

did a puzzle on-line yesterday - really easy w/touch screen, but today took my folded arts section and cup of coffee to comfy sofa and enjoyed doing something that did not need computer (except when I need to cheat). really do love old school newspapers. how do you do yours?

OISK 2:08 PM  

@Nancy knows me so well! I almost had 3 consecutive one box DNF - I guessed on Lasik and Kett. No other letter (than the "K") sounded right. I actually thought the family name was "Jett", but LASIJ? No.

I was beaten by the Jar - car, Joe, coe. yesterday.

I was so happy to finish, that I almost forgot how annoying the string of completely unfamiliar proper names, and product names ( SUNIN???) was. Ellie, Liane, Amy, Afropop, Kumar (??) all a TAD out of my power zone. Never watched Family Guy either. But...my uncle landed at Anzio!

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

I've got nothing against @OFL, but all these comments about "recharging" during his time off struck me as odd.

Let's remember, he's a University professor and: (a) probably has the summer off; (b) has only about 26 weeks of classes during the fall and spring semesters; (c) quite likely has TAs to do much of the heavy lifting for him (as heavy as it gets, anyway); (d) is tenured, making it near-to-impossible to lose his job; and (e) for all this sweat probably has a yearly salary that's twice that of the average college-educated male with similar experience. University faculties have outrageous economic and lifestyle leverage.

I confess that I'm a bit ripped now about the costs in US higher education, and how their growth vastly outstrips virtually all other sectors of the economy. I just started and funded a 526 College Plan for our new grand-daughter, with the aim of having enough on hand in it to pay for her senior year tuition. To do this I had to estimate investment returns and go-forward tuition growth rates, which made me do some homework on past tuition growth. almost 10% pa in a low-inflation economy.

True, the most outrageous numbers are for the selective private colleges, whereas NY State at Binghampton is probably more restrained. Nonetheless, methinks Professor Sharp has a pretty good life indeed. Sorry @Rex, don't mean to be insulting, just blowing off a bit of steam.

Anyway, have a restful vacation. ;-)

Numinous 3:05 PM  

There was a point in my life when I used SUN-IN. Couldn't remember the name until the crosses gave it to me.

There was a time when this blog suffered from spamming trolls. There were also a few of the commentariat who would take pot-shots at each other. So now, Rex moderates the comments, preventing FLAME WARS.

Chronic dnfer 3:17 PM  

I think flame war has something to do with Twitter.

Masked and Anonymous 3:21 PM  

oooh … !

Better GOI clue: {Pokemon app original version designation, once the second release comes out??}.

Speakin of getaways…
M&A has been doin some small watercolor paintings, gettin fired up for an annual one-week seminar trip, later this summer. fave so far: Big glob of orange floatin on a pond, with lots of bubbles near the glob. Title: "Trump Walks On Water". [May sell it to help finance our move to Canada, if Hillary screws this election dealy up.] Did I already describe some of my paintings to U, earlier? I'm gettin kinda senile, tryin to remember which comments turn up, here. But, anyhoo … either way, I digress.

Can't help wonderin what the seed entries were, in this fine SatPuz. FLAMEWAR? FRENEMIES? KWANZAA? NOTSOSURE? … No, I'm not.

Least likely seeds: GOI. SUNIN. PAO.

Again, have a nice time, maybe checkin out them plan-T relocation spots in Canada, @RP. Let me know, if U find somethin major agreeable. We could end up bein neighbors! har


Z 3:26 PM  

@anon8:24 - Every letter has to be crossed. Changing TIFFS to STIFFS and TENET to TENETS would leave those added letters uncrossed.

@anon10:05 - In internet jargon a Troll is someone who inflames by insulting others. A FLAME WAR is what happens when an initial insult is followed by ever escalating insults. You can go to just about any unmoderated comment section and find a FLAME WAR.

MetroGnome 3:26 PM  

"Afropop" is a kind of catch-all term for contemporary African popular music. It's actually a marketing category; it doesn't refer to any specific musical genre. I fear that the constructors may be familiar with Miriam Makeba primarily because the syndicated radio show, "Afropop Worldwide," often plays her music, so that's why they came up with this clue. But actually, her significance (and her art) go much, much deeper than that. She was an "Afropop" artist to the same extent that Aretha Franklin is an "urban contemporary" artist; such working both trivializes the artist herself and misrepresents the term really means.

pmdm 3:35 PM  

To the Anonymous who asked about cheater squares: I don't think anyone yet has responded. In brief, you have a misconception about what a cheater square is. Every crossword grid contains a certain amount on entries. (I can't say words, because some answers consist of more than one word.) A cheater square is a black square that, if removed from the grid, will not result in a change of the total number of entries in the grid. (Removing most black squares reduces the number of grid entries.) By this definition, there are four cheater squares in this puzzle. The squares before 9A and 58A don't count, because removing them would result in an invalid grid pattern. So the two cheater squares you ask about the the squares after 1A and before 59A, and your question doesn't make sense when applied to these two squares.

There should be a way to explain that with a lot less words.

Arden 3:55 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot. Last to fall: Anzio, ruffian, Fagin.

Kathryn 4:01 PM  

This was much nicer and more modern than yesterday's painful slog (minus the lovely long answers), which involved extensive googling and still took twice the amount of time as today. The pop culture references (with the exception of KETT) were definitely skewed more towards those of us under 40 than normal--I got FAMILYGUY, AMY, ELLIE, and KUMAR without any difficulty. And FLAMEWAR, IPADMINI, and FRENEMIES were doable after getting a few letters. Never heard of LIANE or ANZIO, but the latter is probably more from not paying attention in history class than anything else.

Carola 5:07 PM  

At a lake house for the annual weekend with the grandchildren...who commandeered my iPad to have fun with a drawing program, so I'm late to the gathering. Wonderful puzzle! It was very tough for me to get a start, but the KWANZAA x KOWTOWS cross was enough to give me the crucial toehold. Lovely words to discuss with my second-grader granddaughter - TIGHTWAD, KOWTOW, TIFF, INNARDS, RUFFIAN.

old timer 5:48 PM  

FLAMEWAR is legit, but I didn't get it and did not think of TIFFS, so I was a DNF in the NE even though I did Google for the proper names. No quarrel with OFL's analysis, but it just wasn't on my wavelength this morning. Very early this morning as I could not sleep, and combined watching the penultimate stage of the Tour de France with doing the puzzle. Oh after the Tour I tried again but with results as above.

Have a great vacay, @Rex. Thanks for creating and maintaining this blog.

AskGina 6:39 PM  

It made me dig deep and enjoy remembering things I didn't realize I knew (aha moments of a different sort). On the road (not driving), hitting the puzzle here and there between Sacramento and Santa Cruz, CA in the backseat. Santa Cruz is sort of the land that time forgot. It's the 60s here if you change the modern fonts on some of the stores downtown. Not quite the 50s when there was song w the lyrics 'Rama lama ding dong' but I think the constructor was too young for that. Nicely done. Thanks

Michael 7:06 PM  

I got this, but not very quickly. Not so sure what slowed me down because the clues were gettable (well, I had to get actress Balaban and singer Goulding from crosses) , but it didn't help that I had "trimmed" instead of "slimmed" for a long time.

Agree that "Afropop" doesn't seem quite right for Miriam Makeba.

Joe Bleaux 11:16 PM  

Ironically, your poker association was a good bet: A player's unconscious mannerisms serve as a "tell" -- a "giveaway" as to the strength of his hand. Thus, if he habitually scratches his ear, say, when he's bluffing, or purses his lips when he's dealt a nice hand, an observant opponent may detect his "tell" and bet accordingly.

Paul Plotnick 4:26 PM  

Also had spats for tiffs. Never heard of Goulding or Balaban - googled them To me - that's not cheating. Looking up pop culture names if I can't get them by crosses is fair game to this 82-year old. This was an enjoyable puzzle. I start them before going off to sleep and finish them in the am - all except for the early-week ones that are too easy.

Grant Edwards 8:35 PM  

They aren't cheater squares...putting S's in them would work, except they would be single (unchecked) squares. Against the rules!

Burma Shave 11:30 AM  


and ITSASIGN this BUM’s a sinner,
but I’ll LIVEALIE and RAISA cup,
a BELT ONICE will calm my INNARDS.


rondo 12:13 PM  

Piece. Of. Cake. Probably a record time for a Sat-puz if I kept time. Don’t know if I’m going to INITIATE that, but I WAS looking at IPADMINIS and other IPADs on line the other day. Even Kindles and others. Advice @teedMN? I know you love your IPAD.

I listen to differing radio and check out Rolling Stone, so yeah baby ELLIE Goulding was my first entry, a gimme. Then I looked at the top row of downs and there was yeah baby AMY in plain sight. Yeah baby LIANE came by crosses, mostly the TELL (like when you smile when DELT(har) a good poker hand, for those who didn’t get the idea).

I used SUNIN on a March Florida vacation at the behest of a former girlfriend. It lightened my hair alright, but I swear that was the end of the brown and start of the graying. Coincidence? Maybe, but ITSASIGN to me.

I think the only BUM answer was GOI, the corners a TAD isolated but that turned out to be no prob. This one hit me right in my SKILLSET.

spacecraft 12:48 PM  

DNF by a long shot. Got the SE and very little else. One defect that will soon be corrected: my eyesight. I misread 27 as 37, so I had GOKARTS where KOWTOWS is, and GARTH for KUMAR. But cluing "tough" as a noun would probably have thrown me anyway. Never heard of SUNIN.

Racked my brain trying to think of a supporting strip that is also something "awarded." BELT just never occurred; I don't know if it EVER would have. I guess it's a "strip," sure enough; the clue's not unfair...well, it ain't no game giveaway, either. A BELT is a strip. Yeah, sure is.

The gavel thing had me trapped inside a courtroom...I just zigged where I should've zagged today. Can't wait till my new glasses come. That is all.

eastsacgirl 1:49 PM  

Super easy for a Saturday. Bogged down just a little in the NE. Had SPATS before TIFFS. Didn't know 16 or 18A. Enjoyed the BUM/UMPIRE cross. Finished before my second cup of coffee so wasn't surprised at the easy-medium rating. Nice flow and fun.

rain forest 2:45 PM  

This might have been easy-medium for me had I not written in something inexplicable at 31 A: AU Pere. I know what an AU PAIR is, and my entry sounds the same (there must be a name for that) and it's French, but it made the NE the hardest section of the puzzle. When I realized, finally, what I had done, I had to laugh quietly to myself.

For the rest, I was able to use several words that I either knew or lucky-guessed (eg. in the SW, TENET, SLICE, LASIK and IVS) to fill out the rest in each of the sections. Even in the NE, I guessed TIFFS right off, but FLAME WAR and the two female names were unknown, so I really had to work to finish off that section, and the puzzle.

It's nice to know that this puzzle and its constructor are harbingers for the rosy future of crossword puzzledome, which I didn't think was uncertain in the first place. It was a very good themeless, and I enjoyed solving it, but CMON.

Sailor 2:51 PM  

Terrific Saturday puzzle. Played harder for me than for many, possibly because of some PPP that skews young while I skew old. Enjoyed the brain-stretching clues (prognostication proclamation!) in any case.

No complaints from me today about the three-letter fill, because HRS, IVS, GOI, PAO and DST were my first-pass toeholds.

KUMAR I have at least heard of, although GARTH came to mind first. I appreciated that it was gettable from the crosses. FAMILYGUY, SUNIN, ELLIE and LIANE were unknowns. The latter two being stacked in the NE made that corner tough. It was the WAGs on those names that revealed TELL. Then had to come here to see whether those entries were correct. Yay!

leftcoastTAM 3:53 PM  

A stinging DNF; something like yesterday's but not quite as bad.

Main problems in the NE and SW, trapped in blind alleys. Never heard of FLAMEWAR, so settled on cyber WAR. In SW ITSASIGN eluded me, wanted wish list. Other errors followed.

Must agree that this is a solid Saturday puzzle, but certainly not "Easy-medium" for me. My SKILLSET clearly missing a couple of tools needed for the job.

Joe in St. John's 6:01 PM  

In syndication here, so 6 weeks late. How is 56) the power of two = EIGHT?

leftcoastTAM 6:26 PM  

@Joe in St.Johns--
2x2x2=8. 2 to the third power, I believe.

Diana,LIW 7:23 PM  

"Completed" last Sat and today's puz today. Both kicked my butt. Couldn't get a real toe hold due to lack of pop and other culture knowledge. Makes me feel like I'm coming from another country - or planet? Without some of those (gimmes for others) I couldn't get a clue.

But...after looking up a fair number of them, I DID get the wordplay. That's what counts for me, anyway.

I'm all caught up on comics and NYTPX. Still reading yesterday's news. Not sure I'm glad to read it - so depressing.

SUNIN. Wonder if that's the stuff that turned my hair orange in 10th grade? I was so upset, my mom couldn't even be angry with me.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Sunday and a superb solve

leftcoastTAM 8:47 PM  

@lady di: I hope the ratio of "superb" to "slog" is a positive one for you on Sunday.

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