Tin Drum boy / SAT 7-9-16 / Jazz great Montgomery / Unconventional and hippielike informally / Hockey sticks in cards

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: The Lost Battalion (38A: Where the Lost Battalion got lost (ARGONNE)) —
The Lost Battalion is the name given to nine companies of the United States 77th Division, roughly 554 men, isolated by German forces during World War I after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Roughly 197 were killed in action and approximately 150 missing or taken prisoner before 194 remaining men were rescued. They were led by Major Charles White Whittlesey. On 2 October, the division quickly advanced into the Argonne, under the belief that French forces were supporting the left flank and two American units including the 92nd Division were supporting the right flank. Unknown to Whittlesey's unit, the French advance had been stalled. Without this knowledge, the Americans had moved beyond the rest of the Allied line and found themselves completely cut off and surrounded by German forces. For the next six days, suffering heavy losses, the men of the division were forced to fight off several attacks by the Germans, who saw the small American units as a threat to their whole line. // The battalion suffered many hardships. Food was short, and water was available only by crawling under fire to a nearby stream. Ammunition ran low. Communications were also a problem, and at times they would be bombarded by shells from their own artillery. As every runner dispatched by Whittlesey either became lost or ran into German patrols, carrier pigeons became the only method of communicating with headquarters. In an infamous incident on 4 October, inaccurate coordinates were delivered by one of the pigeons and the unit was subjected to "friendly fire". The unit was saved by another pigeon, Cher Ami, delivering the following message:
Despite this, they held their ground and caused enough of a distraction for other Allied units to break through the German lines, which forced the Germans to retreat.
• • •

This is perfectly acceptable and completely forgettable. Familiar shape, familiar answers, smooth, fine. CHILLAXED is old hat by now, and everything else seems tame. Not bold. Again, it's technically proficient. Just somewhat flavorless. I like more daring from my themelesses. I will admit that my slightly negative feelings are undoubtedly, at least partially, the result of a NYT puzzle website screw-up, which resulted in an ERRONEOUS puzzle download. To wit, I tried to download the puzzle in .puz (AcrossLite) format, as I always do, but even though the file had the correct name, it was actually the Mini puzzle... that's at least two kinds of disappointing right there. So I whined audibly (i.e. on Twitter) for a few minutes, but I don't have all night so I had to go in and solve on-site, and yuck ugh boo I don't like the interface. I have a system and a time frame and when that gets thrown off, blargh. NYT got the file problem fixed pretty quickly, but not quickly enough for me. This is all to say that I wasn't in the Greatest mood when I started in on this puzzle. Still, even now, having taken the time to breathe and look at the puzzle objectively ... it seems a bit tepid.

  • 14D: Heaps (LOTS) — few things are more annoying, solving-wise, than being confronted with the familiar LOTS v. TONS dilemma. Since neither IDOL (11A: Treasure hunter's loot, maybe) nor SYST (18A: Way: Abbr.) was very clear, that little NE corner took me somewhat longer than it should have. 
  • 26D: Sphere of control (FIEF) — I keep looking at this and it keeps looking like not-a-word. Somebody call a dom.
  • 27D: Org. in "Patriot Games" (IRA) — never saw it. Thought the International Olympic Committee might be involved. Also, as far as I knew, the Last Battalion were something from the Star Wars universe, so ARGONNE took some doing.
  • 52D: Land on the Gulf of Guinea (TOGO) — forgot this place existed. Adjacent clue 53D: Project with a lot of momentum (HURL) also very tough (needed 3/4 before I got it). Since these two answers provided the first two letters in all the long Acrosses in the SE, that section took a little longer than it should have, but, again, I'm gonna blame the dumb / unfamiliar-to-me interface and my mild annoyance. The crossword was, objectively, easy. And solid.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

Easy-medium for me, mostly because apeSUITS before FATSUITS. I'm kinda with Rex on this one, solid but a bit tepid, liked it though.

I think I saw Bon IVER on the Colbert Repot a while back. Anyway the name stuck and I've seen it in previous puzzles.

ZANZIBAR is a fine entry!

Tyler 12:16 AM  

New Saturday record! Broke my old PR by over 10 minutes, so this must've been really easy somehow.. (~24 min to ~13)

George Barany 12:24 AM  

Good mood or not, @Rex, you're a far faster and more accurate solver than I am. We who live in Falcon Heights Minnesota are still reeling about the horrific incident in our neighborhood the other day, which dropped commenting on crossword puzzles a notch or two on our priorities. So, I'll try to keep this TERSER than usual.

@Josh Knapp's puzzle has shoutouts to @ACME and PIRATESHIP, from earlier in the week (and don't forget @Barry Silk's mention of ANDREA yesterday).

To me, ARGONNE conjures up a National Science Lab in Illinois, TO_GO makes me think of Chinese takeout, and IRA has to be George's brother the lyricist to "The MAN_I_Love," ahead of a terrorist org. Today's science lessons are restricted to AXON, ZINC, RNA, and TESLA_COIL -- no problems there, I_HOPE.

Finally, the clue for ACTING, pegged to Katherine Hepburn, reminds me of the classic putdown from Dorothy Parker: "Miss Hepburn runs the gamut of emotions for A to B."

Zed 12:26 AM  

Biggest "Huh?" Moment was ARm(can't be y with the S already there) to ARmS to ARES (reading it as more than one ARE) to "D'oh - God of War."

Are there ALGAE that aren't green?

Is BOHO still used? I hear a lot of discussion of the hobo lifestyle from my twenty-something off-spring. BOHO not so much.

PIRATE SHIP, SHORE LEAVE, HOME MOVIES. Nice short short story.

Otherwise, pretty much what Rex said. Competent and smooth but nothing that really sparkles.

Dr. Bunger 3:17 AM  

I constantly worry about Rex's mood. so on this Friday night on the west coast of this continent I went out with a gorgeous younger woman, ate, drank, spilled my guts, and set down to solve a Saturday puzzle. I struggled, until, mysteriously, I was done. Those damn graffiti people are putting green paint all over the rocks, I heard. The east coast is definitely superior to California for boating. Our harbors open on big ocean, immediately. Few bays, inlets,OUTER BANKS, or sounds unless you head way north. TREE LINES are a real thing in the Sierra. Don't ever say "the Sierras", it hurts to even type the name. BON IVER sings in a falsetto which I have heard is easy on the vocal chords, illogically. In this part of the world, beer is hoppy, not so much MALTy. Dr. Barany needs to comment on how the Lost Battalion disappeared in a gas. Help!

Trombone Tom 4:54 AM  

Hmm. Easy for @Rex but dnf for me. Threw out IknoW for 1D and never got the NW back on track. I just knew it had to be PIRATE SHIP but couldn't come up with PSHAW. Also never got to HOME although I had the MOVIES part.

Everything else was smooth. Some great clues like the ones for 23A ZINC and 60A GREEN ALGAE.

Unknown 5:09 AM  

You're coming off just a teensy bit whiny here, FYI.

Anonymous 5:32 AM  

I usually agree with OFL, but not today. I really enjoyed this one. NW was the last to crack for me.

60A "Film about rock groups?" was brilliant (I literally LOL'd) and 15A "Stay off the water?" was also very good.

Vincent Lima 6:34 AM  

I'm glad @Rex acknowledges he was in a mood because "Project with a lot of momentum" (HURL) was a joy to me, rather than an "issue." I also enjoyed black-and-white standard, though it was easy. Not so much juvenile record, which was not an especially bright bit of misdirection.

And we had to have MANLY, clued as rugged, to know Shortz is not ceding an inch....

Fat Bear 87 7:08 AM  

For those who needed a little help with Bon Iver, they won best new artist in 2012, not 2011. Bad enough I had to go for help (I know, breaking rules all over), but to suffer the double humiliation of not finding it...I am ashamed.

Glimmerglass 7:37 AM  

@Rex, I guess there's nothing you can do about your mood, but it seems to me that a reviewer, a critic, a judge, an umpire -- especially when dealing with an intellectual realm -- should be able to make judgments *not* based on his/her own mood. This review comes across as mostly silly. One section took you longer than it should have, yet the fault was with the puzzle? Despite your list of struggles, the puzzle was objectively "easy"? I had plenty of struggles, but I eventually prevailed. For me, that means a good, challenging puzzle. If one clue could have two or three possible answer, then I have to try to keep those possibilities in mind as I consider the crosses. That's not "annoying"; that's challenging. I thought the clue for HURL was a brilliant misdirection, and I laughed when I finally got it (maybe the constructor had the meaning "vomit" in mind). Yet @Rex finds it only an annoying shortening of his time. Speed-solving is great for contests, but it makes for lousy reviews.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  


Zed 8:03 AM  

@Fat Bear 87 - Your error is so frequent that FAQ 16a specifically addresses the whole Best of Year X or X+1 question.

Dorothy Biggs 8:06 AM  

@Z, Yes, there are red algae.

I don't know about the tepidity of today's puzzle. Seemed on the easy-ish side, but challenging enough to make it a decent fight/solve. I got a couple of the longer acrosses right away: CHEEZIT and OUTERBANKS. Those were guesses that paid off.

I haven't seen AXON in a while. I only know it from xwords.

I'm a huge ELO fan, but I'm getting tired of seeing them in the xwords.

Some of the clues seemed a bit precious. "60A Film about rock groups?" being chief among them. Probably not technically incorrect, but wow...that's some tortured twisting for "film" and "about" and "rock groups."

I didn't quite understand the MALT reference to Colt 45 and Mickey's. I know they are malt liquors, but the "like" invites an adjective, right? MALTy? MALT is a noun.

Speaking of the mini puzzle...does anyone here do them regularly? Today's was larger than usual. I do them because they seem to have some personality. Today's was okay, there have been better ones, but Rex mentioned the minis like they were bad things.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

Hmm. For me this was VERY easy by Saturday standards and my fastest finish of the week since Tuesday. 8:40, which was my new Saturday best and 7:46 faster than my Saturday average. Maybe it was just dumb luck that I knew the items that were possibly obscure for some. To be clear, I liked the puzzle a lot. The longer answers were quite clever and the puzzle was well-constructed. For me it was possibly not really at a Saturday-level difficulty, but perhaps I should just be happy I did well and happened to get a puzzle with no stumpers for me. That's a relative rarity!

yozboz 8:42 AM  

Well said sir.

GeezerJackYale48 8:49 AM  

Hey George Barany, I like your Dorothy Parker put-down. It made me think of her comment : if all the girls that attend the Yale Senior Prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

I left out quotation marks because I can't guarantee the exactness of the words.

Yes, one year I was there, but, er, uh, didn't participate in the quote.

DBlock 8:51 AM  

Terser two days in a row???
And Fatpants before fat suits slowed me but definitely skewed easy

Carola 9:01 AM  

One of the rare Satruday ROMPS for me, after a bit of a stutter start when I thought that 1A had something to do with a Photo?SHoP. Once I had that straightened out, the grid quickly knit itself into place.

I liked the idea of PIRATE SHIPS having a SHORE LEAVE policy. There seemed to be a maritime breeze wafting through the puzzle, with ZANZIBAR, OUTER BANKS, OARS, and GREEN ALGAE.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

You have to be in a different universe to consider "memorable" as a quality attached to crosswords. For all the pleasure ( and pain) they result in, they are, after all, ephemera.

Unknown 9:02 AM  

@Rex DO YOU MIND!?!?!? Two comments:
1- I hope you can shake your bad mood and get back to your normal writing style, which is typically enjoyable to read after solving. 2- Who says PSHAW?!?!?

Hartley70 9:25 AM  

This puzzle solved faster than usual, so I suppose an easy Saturday rating is appropriate, but I think the excellent cluing raises it up a notch. I totally enjoyed the humorous misdirection.

I found the stacks to be more obvious than the NE and SW corners where I got stumped for a while. I have never heard anyone use CHILL AXED so I had better listen when autocorrect insists that it is two words.

I'm delighted to learn about the ARGONNE and the Lost Batallion from a crossword puzzle. Such deeds should not be forgotten. Thanks, Josh.

It took me forever to see CHEEZITs. I don't even like to think about those poor nasty things. Anyone who has ever tasted a Cheese Puff must know what I mean. You can't ever go back.

I was determined to see NOSEGAY work because I love the word. Why did it ever fall out of favor? Everything French is not better...only cheese and wine and perfume and pate and......

Charles Flaster 9:47 AM  

Medium pour moi and thought I had it perfectly solved but I never changed FAn SUITS to FAT SUITS which I don't completely fathom.
ZINC and HURL were my favorite answers.
Momentum was an answer in last Tuesday's trivia night but my team finished 3/10.
Writeovers that slowed me down were IDOL for swag intersecting LOTS for GoBS.
Thanks JK

Mohair Sam 10:00 AM  

Well we had only two gimmes in this puzzle: CIA at 27D and EARVIN at 44D. The "A" worked for answers across in both so we were off and running, and clung to those two answers stubbornly. Yup, this baby played challenging for us - but we eventually got it when FATSUITS and OUTERBANKS became obvious and our early gimmes fell.

Liked this puzzle a lot (although not as much as I enjoyed reading @Rex's stumbling excuse for his bad mood) - great misdirection clues, some current stuff, and a little history (ARGONNE). With all that the LOTS/tons sin is to be forgiven.

15A, "Stay off the water?" is a better clue without the "?", imo.

Some folks complaining about Rex's "Issues" section - I'm thinking that he meant that he had issues in solving there, not that he had issues with the puzzle quality at that point. That's how I took it anyhow.

Linda 10:04 AM  

@NCA President, In "malt liquor," "malt" is an adjective modifying the noun "liquor."

GILL I. 10:10 AM  

It wasn't THAT easy. I started late last night and only had WES Montgomery and CHEEZIT. That's all..! Got up early and started whittling away. A little snip snap here and there got me my favorite PIRATE SHIP and I was able to fill in the rest of that upstairs western area.
23A ZINC...gaaah that took the longest because it doesn't make any sense to me. I knew ZANZIBAR had to be right for the spicy island but unless you clue ZINC with a Linus Pauling reference...then I don't get it.
The cluing today was the best I've tasted in a long while. Really clever and Saturday fun. GREEN ALGAE ...yowz! Duck faces are POSES? not POSTS?
Hey I spelled NEIL correctly and I got KAREEM off the K. Yay me.

JD 10:27 AM  

Hung on to "I know" for 1D and that was a huge problem. Finally broke and Google and then things rained down from the top until 45A where I suffered ultimate defeat. From there, I drew a blank on everything except axon. I didn't even get mani because I kept thinking perm (does anyone even get those anymore?) I got Argonne, although the cluing seems off. I don't think I've seen it referenced without 'the' or 'forest.' Really, I'm sure I have not.

jberg 10:35 AM  

I liked the IDOL to IDLY progress, and I loved NOEGAYS -- what a great word! And I guess it was easy enough as long as you a) knew the difference between CHEEtos and CHEEZITs, and b) knew that Macarthur didn't start with Mc. ZINC had me stumped for too long, even when I had ZIN_. Suddenly HAIRCUT popped into my mind (rather than something like toss OUT, e. g. by the referee from a basketball game).

But IT GIRL? I thought that was Clara Bow, forever, not something that changed every year.

@Z, @NCA Pres -- also brown algae, blue-green algae, and (new to me) golden algae.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I thought it was too easy for a Saturday. Either that or I'm getting better. I've been doing a lot of Chronicle of Higher Education puzzles lately, and that Hepburn quote was in one of those I've recently done.

But Vincent Lima beat me to the punch to say something like "begin petty whining about cluing RUGGED as a male attribute in 3, 2, 1..." ;-)


Tita 10:36 AM  

I woke last night to see concerned faces fanning me and putting smelling salts under my nose.
They looked at the time on my iPad, and said...she fainted from finishing a Saturday in just 11 minutes""

Well, maybe I exaggerate a tiny bit, but...I think that I knocked this off in less than 12 minutes. Even the easiest Saturday easily takes me 20 or 25 minutes.

I liked it a lot, of course! Maybe not because of how fabulous a puzzle it was, but at how insanely smart I have become. [Chuff chuff]

Guessed PIRATESHIP asap, and having that in place made the top half a walk off the plank.
Was just in the OUTERBANKS, so another gimme.


@Nca Pres... I don't like clues that try to hard to be cute... But... I liked how 60A had a misdirect at Evry. Single. Word.
I knew I had to honk differently about rock groups, but never considered the others.

Thanks, Mr. knapp, for putting together a Saturday puzzle so worthy of my intellect.

John V 10:44 AM  

Alas, just could not get any traction with this puppy. Big time DNF. It happens.

Norm 10:50 AM  

Nice puzzle. Far from easy for me -- even by Saturday standards. MAP and PEEL were fine, but wanted WEASEL rather than SANDAL. Had TINNITUS rather than BLACK EYE for Boxing ring. And so forth. Finally got a foothold down in the far southeast corner and climbed back up. Cannot agree with any of Rex's complaints.

old timer 10:59 AM  

Super easy for a Saturday. In the NWa, IHOPE and ROMPS made that corner easy. In the SW, MACAARTHUR meant that as soon as I remembered little TOGO I also had the SE. HURL I got on crosses, and admired the clever clue for it then. In the NE I put in OHSUSANNA, but it is hardly a folk song. It is, however, a song most American children learned in my day. When the politics was a bit less "correct" and minstrel-show music was part of our American heritage. Written by the great Stephen Foster, so definitely not a folk song except in the fact that most folks know the chorus.

Struggling 11:14 AM  

Why can't women be rugged Manly was the last answer I thought of

Nancy 11:14 AM  

While far from the hardest Saturday I've ever done, this one provided enough challenge to make it consistently interesting. PSHAW at 1D made it hard for me to get into the NW, and I didn't think of PIRATE SHIP right away, either. Liked the clues for SHORE LEAVE; LAMA; TREE LINE; BLACK EYE and HOP. Fun to solve.

@George Barany, I am quite familiar with Dorothy Parker's "from A to B" quote. But @Geezer Jack -- I DIDN'T know the "laid end to end" quote. It's wonderful. Thank you for that.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Did not find the puzzle that easy and really enjoyed some of the clues. i would put the feeling of accomplishment on this one in the 60th percentile. Appreciate your blog, Rex, even when you are in a not so great mood!

Joe Bleaux 11:35 AM  

As usual, easy for Rex is medium to challenging for me. This was an enjoyable puzzle, in that sweet spot that's neither romp nor slog. Cluing was outstanding, I thought. My only toe stub was in the SE, where I didn't immediately get "Duck faces."

kitshef 11:35 AM  

Medium-challenging here. Most of the puzzle was average Saturday, but the NW was brutal. Amazed at all the easy/record time comments.

And the puzzle deserved a way, way better review than it received. Look at those stacks: PIRATESHIP-SHORELEAVE-HOMEMOVIES and OUTERBANKS-GREENALGAE-OLDMASTERS. Look at those clues for SHORELEAVE and GREENALGAE. I loved this puppy.

POSES needed every cross as I'd never heard of duck faces used that way.

I don't understand why war force = ARES.

Unknown 12:17 PM  

Hi Rex, I do the NYT puzzle daily and used to read your column but got brought down by your constant negativity. Recently I came back to it and find your are still consistently grouchy. Have you ever thought of getting help? You see so unhappy. Just today you say you were in a bad mood. Are you in a mid-life crisis? Have you had losses in life that have built up? Are you unhappy in your home life? Is someone putting you down? You probably won't allow this comment in, which is fine with me, I really mean it just for you. Please do what you can to help yourself. Even if you think you are happy being unhappy that too is a symptom. I hope for your sake, and all of ours, and for those who are close to you and love you, that you make the effort. With all good intentions, Julie

Calaveras Jumping Frog 12:17 PM  

@Dr. Bunger: have lived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas for nearly 30 years and have never heard them referred to as "the Sierra." It's _always_ "the Sierras." You're like one of those people who say that natives never refer to San Francisco as "Frisco." Except that some do.

Dorothy Biggs 12:25 PM  

@Linda: so in "rice pudding," rice is an adjective?

SB 12:34 PM  

Way to easy for a Saturday. Enjoyable enough, but I flew through it when I was expecting a challenge.


SB 12:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 1:08 PM  

Was super easy for a Saturday I thought, especially after Friday's puzzle kicked my butt. Would have had a personal record but had SANZIBAR for a while before I face-palmed and finished. MANLY was slightly annoying I must admit.

Numinous 1:22 PM  

Is there an Echo in Here?

ARES is the Greek God of war, @kitshef. Mars is the Roman one.

This took me somewhat longer than usual and I had to google three proper nouns. I'd never heard of IBSEN's last play, Don't know who Bon IVAR is but now I know he got a 2011 Grammy in 2012, and I never read The Tin Drum. Should I have?

•POW? It appears Jill Denny's husband and I have different standards.

I never thought of Duck faces as a POSE. I still don't. To me it is the perfect expression of Miss Hepburn's clue (pun intended).

I don't believe I've ever seen an orange CHEEZIT. Usually, they are more beige or Saltine colored. So, I just googled and maybe half of them are orange. However, the ones I usually eat, White Cheddar, Mozzarella, Baby Swiss, Italian Four Cheese are not. It would seem that where my head is today is someplace color couldn't be seen anyway.

Sorry you had interface problems last night, @Rex. I have a problem with Across Lite all the time. It won't read an external keyboard on the iPad version. I asked about that a year ago and they said they were working on it but didn't want to make it so legacy iPad users coulcn't use it. WTF??? Who's never heard of "Update early and often"? How does reading keyboard input via Bluetooth inhibit anyone from using the lame alphabet keys arranged in sequence down either side of the screen? Puzzazzz should accept an external keyboard too since it hates my handwriting. /rant

Have a nice weekend y'all (and yeah, I'm telling you what to do, wanna make something of it?)

MattG 1:25 PM  

My fastest Saturday ever, at 12:50. I thought this was quite a smooth puzzle; CHEEZIT, ERRONEOUS, and the rest of the 9's were all pretty good and nothing was as obscure as some of yesterday's trouble spots. Rex, I'm sorry you had to wait a couple extra minutes to do your puzzle, But if that ruins your whole experience, maybe you should take a break from all this?

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

I liked the cluing today.

OISK 1:46 PM  

Ares was the god of war. I get a silly one box DNF just due to carelessness. I was looking for 1 across to end in "shop" (as in "Old DVD shop" for black and white standards) . Once I got Pirate shop I didn't remember to change it - never heard of "Iver." But that's on me. Very fine Saturday puzzle, that I found very challenging. Could not get a foothold for the longest time, because of wonderful, misleading but clever cluing. (some juvenile records!!) Also had "Range" (as in driving range) for "swinging joint," but soon corrected it. Some great cluing makes up for WTF answers like "BOHO" (???) - short for Bohemian? Who has ever said or read that? Cheezit? Product names are always tough for me. Never heard of Wes Montgomery - I guess "Craven" has been used too often. Never heard of Neil Gaiman either, but it's certainly a fair literary reference.

I'd have thought that "fief" was a very common word - apparently not. For me, it was pretty easy to catch a fief. Certainly not an easy puzzle for me, but a very good one.

Lurker Librarian 1:49 PM  

Thought TESLA COIL was plenty sparkly and enjoyed seeing the longer answers emerge. Put me in the camp that loved the clue for GREEN ALGAE. Not knowing the Grammy winner, I was giving PIRATE SHoP a lot of side eye (one of those stupid specialty places you see at the mall, maybe?) until PIRATE SHIP occurred. Doh!

Rina 1:56 PM  

No way was this "easy". Yer all fibbin'. Actually, I first got HURL of all things. Duck faces was first POUTS, then POSTS, no harm done. ARGONNE reminded me of my first boss. He burned out three machine gun barrels one day there, and an old friend claimed to have shot down a plane with his rifle.

Anyway, I liked the longs, once I got them, one by one. There was almost a maritime theme there.

PIX 2:00 PM  

ARES = Greek god of war

newspaperguy 2:16 PM  

I used to read this blog to check Rex's witty comments about crosswords and more. Now I check in to see what he's pissed off about today.

Gabe Tuerk 2:26 PM  

Like - treeline, blackeye, nosegay, lots more

Old Masters has made two recent appearances

Dislikes - boho, zinc

Cakewalk for a Saturday, finished with home movies . Wanted that to be something related to sealed

Aketi 2:27 PM  

@carolla, I too liked the maritime theme.

@NCA President, i knew about the red ALGAE thanks to red tides, but I did not know that the SEA HARES from Thursday actually eat Seaweed which is but one type of ALGAE. Not only does the color of ALGAE influence the color of coral, it also influences the color of the ink that SEA HARES squirt out as part of their biodefense. FYI, SEAHARES are hermaphroditic.

@Hartley70', I cannot unsee the sinister gap your autocorrect added to CHILL AXED..

My teenage son and his friends think MANIs are just as MANLY as anything else they do. I don't know if they have tried PEELs yet.

There is a hidden flower in the puzzle wiIth BLACK EYEd and an embedded SUSAN. I literally was a BACK EYEd SUSAN twice in my life thanks each time to a blow to the NOSE. It wasn't the least bit GAY either time.

As for SANDAL, I have not gotten over the change in the language from when I was a girl and a thong was a flip flop instead of an item of clothing that is wedged into a space where it doesn't leave a panty line. Flip flops do have thong between your big toe and your other toes, but not all SANDALS do.

Joe Bleaux 2:29 PM  

(Re ARES: Roman god of war, I think)

Joe Bleaux 2:34 PM  

Wups! @kitshef, in my reply re Ares, I shoulda said Greek god, not Roman (which would be Mars). Sorry

Unknown 3:27 PM  

This fell orrery easily for me. The highlight wa reminiscing about the animated show from the early aughts--HOME MOVIES. In particular, the episode SHORE LEAVE:


Hungry Mother 3:45 PM  

Very easy Friday for me. I struggled more with the LAT today, usually the opposite happens.

Chip Hilton 4:16 PM  

If this had been my first visit here, I'd have thought Rex was eleven years old.

Loved the GREENALGAE clue as well as several others. Nifty puzzle, Saturday tough.

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

Quick replies:

Yes, other colors for algae beside green. Red, e.g.

BOHO clue includes hippies so much need to be up to date in the lingo.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Dear Rex,

TOGO/Gulf of Guinea, ARGONNE/Lost Battalion, and IRA/"Patriot Games" prompt you to "never saw it," "something from the Star Wars universe," "forgot this place existed"? Your bubble is showing.

nick 4:52 PM  

Knew it had to be easy as I finished without a google or even a persistent blank area. Happy to see Neil Gaiman.

kitshef 5:41 PM  

@Numinous et al. I know who ARES is - I don't get why he is a war force.

Johnny Vagabond 5:55 PM  

Your last paragraph brought the only smile I've had in some days.

old timer 5:59 PM  

It may well be "the Sierras" in Jumping Frog County, on the West side of the range. On the East Side, it is "The Sierra" I know because I have a very MANLY daughter there. OK, she is also very womanly, and is the mother of a lovely little boy, and as far as her husband is concerned is every inch a woman. But all the same she lived in overalls and pants when she was in school, loved doing the things boys like to do (I think one of her favorite songs was Peggy Seeger's "Engineer" song, which begins, 'When I was a little girl, I wished I was a boy").

There really ought to be a word other than "tomboy" to describe someone who regardless of sex has all the qualities that are admired in men, and detests being "girly". (Her next younger sister reveled in girliness, loved to wear dresses, spent time on her hair and her makeup -- and obviously I love both of them and their children).

Zed 7:47 PM  

@NCA Prez and @jberg - Didn't mean to be taken quite so literally. Did a quick search for ALGAE images and scrolled through the first 100 that came up. 96 were GREEN, 4 were some other color (2 purple, a blue and a yellow). I thought the clue was great, the answer was almost literally GREEN paint. I would say that the only time a modifier is needed for ALGAE is when it isn't GREEN. Knapp had this great clue but didn't want to waste it on a five letter answer, apparently.

@NCA Prez - nouns can operate as adjectives, as in MALT liquor or rice pudding.

Wondering of we all read the same review. "..technically proficient. Just somewhat flavorless." Not a rave review but hardly a pan. Some commenters make it seem as if Rex ripped this puzzle apart. Having done a fair number of Knapp's puzzles, this one is not his best. Saying so is hardly damning.

SDY 8:34 PM  

Did someone say that Bon Iver was actually the 2012 winner not 2011?

Zed 9:33 PM  

@kitshef - If you don't know how the WAR GOD, the personification of WAR, is a WAR FORCE I don't know how to explain it to you. Think of it this way, if ARES hadn't been influencing Dubya we'd have never invaded Iraq.

22 1/2 years late PPP Analysis
November 1993 spoilers ahead

Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns as a percentage of Puzzle Answers

Recently an observation was made about the PPP level in early Shortz era puzzles, so I've gone back and taken a look at 4 from the first week in the archive. I had a couple of DNFs on early week puzzles specifically because of the high PPP. Only one of the four broke the 33% line, but all 4 are right at it and much of the PPP is dated (although Ms. OLIN did an appearance). The Friday puzzle was something else entirely.

T - 27/78 - 35%
W - 25/28 - 32%
Th - 24/76 - 32%
F - 24/78 - 31%

Friday was something to behold. Three Latin "themers", a total of 14 Latin words or Phrases for answers, and another 12 answers in a language other than Latin or English (and one Britishism and a French Départment capital). Not counting the last two, that's one third of the puzzle answers not in English including a 15 and two 12 letter answers. I did not count the capital of Manche because the answer is crosswordese, so you could argue that it is actually 36% of the puzzle that is in a foreign language.

I strongly doubt such a puzzle would fly today. "Hey, I studied Latin in HS" does not a good puzzle make.

BTW - I finished the Friday puzzle even though I didn't know what Hindu Gods drink.

Linda 11:33 PM  

@NCA President, What @Z said - they're nouns functioning as adjectives.

Babs 12:09 AM  

It's KathArine. As spelled in the puzzle. She hated that too-frequent and careless misspelling. You've got the Parker quote wrong, too. It was she RAN, not runs, as it was about a single stage performance. Your tense shift makes it sound as if Parker had been complaining about the great Katharine Hepburn's entire career.
I liked this puzzle, esp seeing Hepburn and nosegays and old masters.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  


Anonymous 11:55 PM  

Mars is Roman god of war Ares is Greek

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

" I love a good martini.
Two at the very most.
Three I'm under the table.
Four, I'm under the host."

Miss you Dorothy!

spacecraft 10:20 AM  

I've decided: though never having met OFL, I don't like him. We could never be buds. Oh well, it is not required. First, this was NOT easy--and sometimes I think he just says that to piss us off. Second, what could you want for more flavor? SHORELEAVE right under PIRATESHIP (is that when they bury their treasure?); DOYOUMIND? Okay, GREEN paint--I mean ALGAE--is a bit weak, but still. Fine stuff. ZANZIBAR, baby.

Come on, who didn't have CHEEtos at first? You want orange, you GOT orange with those. That was my only MISFIRE, soon fixed. But getting started was a bear. Finally took a huge flyer with AXON/CHILLAXED. The duck faces clue still beats me. I tried to put BILLS in there. WOEs BOHO, IVEA and that NEIL guy kept things tough.

Gonna give this one a birdie, just for a "So there!" to OFL.

Burma Shave 10:42 AM  


it’s ONUS TOGO do something BOHO and groovy.
I’ve got ITGIRL! IHOPE you’ll PEEL to just SANDALS on,


rondo 11:55 AM  

I think the quality of the cluing alone was worth the price of admission. Some were clever and sometimes verging on obtuse, but pretty good over all IMHO, not BOHO, which was the one that got me started. Only w/o was lOtS instead of TONS, otherwise no MISFIRES nor anything ERRONEOUS. Having been to the OUTERBANKS made that area go quickly.

Bon IVER (Justin Vernon) gets plenty of airplay on 89.3 The Current and his second annual music festival is this weekend in Eau Claire, WI. Wish I coulda made it.

Wasn’t Clara Bow the original ITGIRL? Yeah baby. From a film named “It” if my memory about such things serves.

OHSUSANNAH is about the only tune I can play on my harmonica. And maybe Amazing Grace. Wish I could figure out the blues.

Just got back from a HAIRCUT and IHOPE it’s time for brunch, after which beverages of MALT and HOPs may be consumed.

@spacey, yeah, I don’t imagine I’ll be having a brewski with OFL anytime soon. I liked this puz and will not give it a BLACKEYE.

Sailor 12:51 PM  

Absolutely loved the comment from @Lurker Librarian: "I was giving PIRATE SHoP a lot of side eye (one of those stupid specialty places you see at the mall, maybe?)..." Been there, done that! Just not today, thankfully.

With PIRATESHIP, SHORELEAVE and OUTERBANKS I was definitely looking for a nautical theme, but alas, twas not to be. Arrrr. So that slowed me down some. Enjoyed the clever clues, even if some of them felt a bit forced.

rain forest 4:01 PM  

I'm in a bad mood because a tech glitch stopped me from being able to speed solve in my usual manner, and so how could I give this puzzle its due? Puerile and tepid review.

Nice comments today, though. A nifty puzzle that certainly wasn't easy for me. My first thought for 1A was "barber shop", and I was thinking that the poles are red and white, bozo. Hah! PSHAW got me on the right track and so the North came (relatively) easily. Lot of devious and clever clues here. Did not know BOHO or Duck faces as POSES, and had to use crosses. I can intuit BOHO, but "duck faces" eludes me. Sounds like yoga positions of the face. Also, what is MACARTHUR a reference to?

CHEEZITs, eh? Never had 'em. If you want a cheezy snack that has actual cheese in it, you must come to Canada and try Hawkins Cheezies(tm). Very satisfying, and superior to Cheetos or cheeze puffs.

Liked this one, and, it may actually become memorable. Ask me next Wednesday.

Diana,LIW 4:14 PM  

Lots of puns and misdirects, so I was happy. Not that happy with some of the PPP, but I persisted, and rose to this CHALLENGING puzzle.

Of course, my pencil was working just as well as yesterday, so I was in a good mood.

Thought 1-A was going to be some kind of police vehicle. PHSAW didn't help with that wrong guess.

ZINC and GREENALGAE were pushing their luck.

@Rainy - Lifted from Bill Butler's blog: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards a MacArthur Fellowship to 20-30 individuals annually who show extraordinary originality and dedication in their field. The amount of the prize is $625,000, and it can be awarded in any field and has “no strings attached”. The MacArthur Fellowship is sometimes referred to as the “Genius Grant”.

I'll probably be off "the grid" for 10 days or so - going to the (many) car shows in California, all leading up to the Pebble Beach Concours. No Bellinis, but lots of Bugattis.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Car Week

leftcoastTAM 4:34 PM  

Well, yeah, looked kinda easy after finishing, but not at all in the doing.

In the NW, IVER and HOMEMOVIES. In the SW, AXON, NEIL (again), and IDLY. Otherwise, ITGIRL seems awfully dated, while InGIRL seemed to fit the clue better. But the resulting FAn didn't fit the FATSUIT.

BLACKEYE for "Boxing ring?" was cute, I guess, while the amusing Hepburn quote was vintage Hepburn.

A worthwhile Saturday struggle, for me at least.

leftcoastTAM 6:42 PM  

I still don't get POSES for "Duck faces." Anyone?

leftcoastTAM 6:55 PM  

@Glimmer Glass, real time, way above, makes some good points worth noting.

Waxy in Montreal 7:42 PM  

@leftcoastTAM, according to Wiki,"Duck face is a trend of photographic pose, which is well known on profile pictures in social networks. Lips are pressed together as in a pout and often with simultaneously sucked cheeks." Never heard of it myself but there you go.

Diana,LIW 8:29 PM  

@Lefty Oddly enough, Duck Faces were mentioned on today's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on NPR. When I heard it, I felt soooo hip, fresh, and up-to-date.

Diana, Lady in the Know

Longbeachlee 12:40 PM  

My worst dnf ever. Chillax, cheezit, way out of my wheelhouse. Was looking for Loren Muse Smith for validation. Maybe she hated it so bad, she refused to weigh in?

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