Hindi for palace / Arabic patronymic part / SAT 11-19-16 / juris of legal age / His gravestone says simply PLAYWRIGHT

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Trent LOTT (32A: Former minority whip in both the House and Senate) —
Chester Trent Lott, Sr. (born October 9, 1941) is an American politician. A former United States Senator from Mississippi, Lott served in numerous leadership positions in both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate. He entered Congress as one of the first of a wave of Republicans winning seats in Southern states that had been solidly Democratic. He became Senate Majority Leader, then fell from power after praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist Dixiecrat presidential bid. (wikipedia)
• • •

This feels pretty half-hearted. OK, you've got the latticed 15s, fine, but they are an uneven collection at best—ULTRA-FASTIDIOUS?—and there's really nothing else of interest. Glut of short fill means glut of tired stuff (PSST ISON IBN IPO IHOP ERGO TTOP UHOH UFW SUI SRTA SETI SETTO and on and on and on). And then there's the smarmy self-regard of the answer THE NEW YORK TIMES (11D: It sold for a penny at its 1851 launch). Blargh. Also, NO DAY AT THE BEACH ... is a phrase (I googled it), but NO WALK IN THE PARK is so much better. Doesn't fit, but it's so so so much more the answer to that clue (3D: Hardly a piece of cake). I don't really get NO DAY AT THE BEACH. At least walking in the park is an act, so it makes sense as an easy thing. But a day at the beach isn't an act. It's just ... nice, I guess, if you like beaches (a day at the beach would be NO DAY AT THE BEACH for me, frankly). Dunno. Just don't like it. It's like NO PICNIC. More "unpleasant" than "not easy." More legitimately unlikable is that SE corner. Crossing NOBLESSE with ESSE is grosse. Bad form. ESSE is terrible enough fill on its own. Here, it's got that terrible going for it as well as the added terrible of being a dupe of the last four letters of an answer it crosses. You gotta do better than that. (See also TINGE / INGE)

Here's how I got in:

Tried a bunch of wrong things at 1D: Inclination, like TILT and LEAN. Also tried TETON for 4D: Name on a range, I'm not even joking. But by running all the short Downs up top (and toggling from TETON to AMANA), I was able to see ANOMALIES (14A: Blips). It wasn't too long after that that I got the answer that broke the whole grid open:

Now I've got it spelled wrong here (it's KERRY, not KERRI), but that hardly matters (8D: Lead actress on TV's "Scandal"). Getting a central grid-spanner very early is a huge solving boost. The grid's structure was such that the grid-spanner allowed me to make short work of all the short fill in the middle and bottom, and from there, expanding out into the rest of the grid was a walk on the day at the park beach picnic, for real.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:15 AM  

On the easy side of medium for me. the ALL before NBA ALL was it for erasures. I've never seen Scandal but KERRY shows up in the entertainment section of the newspaper and on talk show with some frequency.

Names whose spelling I memorized because of crosswords:
Katy SAGAL aka Peg Bundy
E.C. SEGAR - Popeye Creator
Pete SEEGER - Folk guy
Bob SEGER - Silver Bullet Band guy

Some fine15s, liked it a lot more than @Rex did in spite of the fill issues.

Mel Torme 12:23 AM  

We say NO DAY AT THE BEACH all the time in my family. Especially when something bad happens when we're at the beach. "Whew - that was no day at the beach" we say.

Trombone Tom 12:46 AM  

Agree with @jae that this was on the easy side; I seemed to be in tune with Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen.

I'm with @Rex in that "no walk in the park" is more familiar than NO DAY AT THE BEACH, but I have heard the latter.

My only hangup was my near inability to come up with MADAME even though I know that the South Korean PRESIDENT is female. Also wasn't sure about Ms. WASHINGTON's first name. Crosses made both clear.

Anonymous 1:54 AM  

This was the 2,504th NYT crossword I've solved on the iPad since I downloaded the app 18 months ago (I've solved them for years on paper before that but never had statistics, except that I've always been pretty good).

Here are my best times:

M 4:09
T 5:16
W 6:25
Th 8:00
F 9:10
Sa 11:13
Su 15:50

Plus, I've read this blog after solving 99% of them. Once, after I learned that Thursday was a theme, I did every Thursday puzzle sequentially back in time until the debut of this blog. It was like a time machine. Rex transforms from a crotchety old man to a fresh faced youngster full of hope and dreams and loving everything about it. It was actually a pretty cool ride, and I learned a lot.

Rex, at your next pledge drive I figure I owe you $0.02 per puzzle I've solved. That's $50.08 as of today and counting.

John Child 2:54 AM  

Never Have I Ever:

Cooked RAMEN in a microwave
Spent a DAY AT THE BEACH willingly
Seen a LUGE relay race
Heard of "Scandal"
Used STYLI on smart devices

But none of that slowed me down much. The fill didn't bother me either - Hey I needed some of the crosswordese to make progress at times.

Larry Gilstrap 2:54 AM  

See, I complain about OFL's morning solves and he throws a bone to us Left Coast night owls. Don't dismiss those six latticed theme spanners! ANAL always bothers me, sorry. From now on those people, you know who you are, will be labeled ULTRA FASTIDIOUS. I'm trying to eat here!

This Saturday effort from the beleaguered poster child of the MSM, THE NEW YORK TIMES, touched all the bases. Challenge SANS dreck.

Time for Shakespeare's As You Like It, the guy is worth studying. "Brush up your Shakespeare, start quoting him now..." is good advice from Cole Porter heard in Kiss Me Kate, but I digress. As the melancholy Jacques extends the stage as world metaphor in his Seven Ages of Man soliloquy, he begins in the stage of "mewling and puking" and he ends up at an AGE I've yet to reach: "That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, SANS teeth, SANS eyes, SANS everything." Whoever wrote this stuff is good.

Father Mapple 3:11 AM  

"But soon the sea rebels it will not bear the wicked burden, a dreadful storm comes up, the ship is like to break, the BOS'N calls all hands to lighten her." Why not just toss Jonah overboard!

Anonymous 3:56 AM  

Anonymous 2504 Puzzles Solved Guy again:

I also read all the comments, and I've commented myself maybe 5 or 6 times. Nothing special, usually very short.

But I know all the commenters here, even ones who haven't commented in years.

I've never met any of you. But if I met you I could pick up a conversation right away. That's pretty cool.


Nickyboy 6:53 AM  

Not to be too nit-picky, but 29 Down ("Mrs.,abroad/overseas") should not be the whole German word "Frau". If the clue uses the abbreviation "Mrs.", the proper abbreviation for Frau is "Fr."

Loren Muse Smith 7:05 AM  
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evil doug 7:05 AM  

I bet the clue for 17A changed just over a week ago....

Had YANk and reb for a while....

Isn't ULTRA FASTIDIOUS redundant?

A lot fewer STYLI out there since the Samsung Note 7s kept exploding and got recalled. I'm on my trusty Note 3....

Loren Muse Smith 7:07 AM  

I prefer "no walk in the park," too, but NO DAY AT THE BEACH works for me just fine. The complaint that the latter is not an act surprised me since its clue, "no piece of cake" isn't an act, either. So I would argue that NO DAY AT THE BEACH is actually a better fit for the clue.

This expression is called a litotes. I've learned this from playing QuizUp Grammar. I'm number one in WV, and when I find myself facing the number one from some other state, I get very serious, very fast. Turn down CNN. Sit up. Zen focus on the screen. Deep breath. It's so corny – I feel like I'm representing the whole of our state, and am over the moon when, say, Mr. Prisspot Number 1 in Grammar in New York loses to me and then keeps asking for a rematch and keeps losing. I realize this is coming across as braggy, but I mean it more in the spirit of being smug when someone underestimates me because of my state. And heck, maybe he's not underestimating me at all and I'm way overthinking this.

I would happily chew on a rusty bolt than participate in Black Friday, but I thought of all that mayhem when I filled in for my "tap alternative" (53A) "push" before PSST. Maybe I have the right spirit and should brave the lines (with their ultra-fast idiots) for my big old TV for $59. Watch for me in the headlines.

It took me a while to see RAMEN for the microwave dish. In grad school, we heated our water in a percolator and poured it over the noodles. I think I've said before, I also made grits in this percolator after a night out as I was wont to "toss back" rather than SIP.

"Alar" before PCBS.

When I see clues involving a launch and an obscure date, my crosswordese-spotter goes on full alert and I look for stalwart four-letter entries. So I kept checking that a ridiculous "the new Oreo cookie" or "the new Atra razor" might work. I really did. Dumb.

LOTT is the only whip whose name I know. Maybe he was ultra whippish or something. I have managed to win over a student in second period who is an inventive, gifted, devoted Troublemaker but has emerged as our Class Whip. If I just get quiet when people have started talking while I'm teaching, he'll usually come to my rescue and yell at the class.

@Johnny – long time reader. I always like hearing that some people read the comments, too, as mostly I suspect we commenters, in the world that is Rex Parker, are pretty much unheard, down here going about our business in our private little Whoville. You should start commenting regularly, and I say your nom-de-blog should be @Horton.

MADAME PRESIDENT – Mary Lou, Jeff. How could you? Go ahead, rub our noses in it. But, hey, I imagine this was submitted before November 8. (Hi, @Evil) Wonder if that clue was changed. "Bad feeling," ACHE, UH OH.

evil doug 7:09 AM  
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Oscar 7:18 AM  

Not sure why you're so ANAL about repeated letters. If they're not related etymologically, it's not an issue. Sometimes you seem to be reaching for something to complain about.

Glimmerglass 7:44 AM  

I'm often surprised that @Rex, who in real life in an academician concerned with language, is often so narrow-minded about common expressions. Certainly he is personally not a fan of a day at the beach (sand in his food and intimate areas? getting sand kicked in his face by a bully? fair skin and sunburn?), but for most people, A DAY AT THE BEACH is a vacation, a time when life is easy. I agree with the commenters who found it a better fit than "a walk in the park"for "a piece of cake."

Johnny 7:45 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith

I shall be Johnny!

John is actually my real first name.

evil doug 7:53 AM  

Until you redid your post, Loren, you had me beat by a matter of seconds on the MADAME dealie. I gotta get up pretty early in the morning to ace you out. And *I'm* the one who should be upset--my write-in for Kasich didn't put a blip on the radar....


r.alphbunker 8:13 AM  

Getting THENEWYORKTIMES delivered to me from _H_NE_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ set the tone for the puzzle. I had only 3 stalls of about a minute each. Details are here.

mathgent 8:22 AM  

There's something wrong with collaborative puzzles even when the excellent Jeff Chen is involved. They lack soul.

This puzzle is a good example. The entries fly in from every direction. They don't reflect a unified taste.

Take ERGO for "Logical connector." That's technically correct in the sense that ERGO "connects" an argument to a conclusion in a theorem. But I don't think that Chen would have used that in one of his solo puzzles. He's knows programming and he probably thinks of "logical connector" in the Boolean algebra sense where the two basic logical connectors are "and" and "or."

Nothing really wrong with the puzzle. It just wasn't much fun for me, as I've tried to explain. A straight B.

Unknown 8:25 AM  

Filled in pretty quick, but didn't get the bell until I realized RANARInK (Skated on thin ice) isn't a real phrase.

BradKimmel 8:28 AM  


Too soon!

Dorothy Biggs 8:29 AM  

I agree with Nickyboy...the clue for FRAU was an abbreviation, so either the clue needed to be "wife overseas" or the answer needed to be an abbreviation of a word for wife overseas.

i knew that 62A had to do with an all-star game, but there is no reason to believe it's plural, and of course there is no reason to believe it isn't...but still.

You don't cook RAMEN in a microwave. You boil the water, then you take the water out of the microwave and put the noodles in the water and wait for about 3 minutes, then you add the seasoning. This hardly counts as cooking ramen in a microwave.

SLAW is made with cabbage and has mayo in *some* kinds of cole slaw...not all kinds. There are the vinegary sorts. Aioli is "made with mayo," slaw has mayo in it.

Trust. If you're going to get jiggy with the clues, you've got to build our trust that the clues are fair and accurate. If there are enough of them that violate your trust, then how can you trust any of the other clues? Spoiler alert: you can't.

So answers like RANARISK or NODAYATTHEBEACH or NOGOAREAS become just a little more doubtable, not necessarily because the answers are a bit off the norm, but because the groundwork has been laid that you don't quite trust the puzzle.

And I didn't know that LUGE races had relays. Interesting to know.

Anyway, my time on this puzzle was comfortably under my average, but it felt much longer because of the reasons mentioned above.

Elle54 8:32 AM  

Did anyone else have "a day at the races?" Somehow that came to my mind before BEACH. I liked your post @Johnny.

Generic Solver 8:32 AM  

@r.alphbunker 8:22 AM

Funny you mentioned it, as a programmer, my first instinct was to put "NAND" in as the only "obvious" four-letter logical connector, but then LUGE seem likely enough to cancel that idea.

evil doug 8:33 AM  
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evil doug 8:41 AM  

Talk about anal, NCA....

Oh, and I do cook ramen in the microwave. I got a little tub the inventors sold the Shark Tank crew. Drop in the noodles, add water to the line, heat 4 minutes, season and Viola! A $.20 lunch! (They also now sell ramen prepackaged in a throwaway tub--same instructions.)

Glad I could help you get rid of at least one of your anal nettles, NCA. We'll work on your other issues on your next visit....

Lobster11 8:44 AM  

What a weird solve this was for me. Got my first traction in the middle-east, and then flew across the center backwards as I pieced together ULTRAFASTIDIOUS from right to left and expanded northward and southward. Throw in a smattering of miscellaneous answers across the top and bottom and I have the grid about 2/3 to 3/4 full and I haven't broken a sweat. I'm wondering if it is Tuesday. And then, suddenly.... I slam face-first into a wall. Full stop. Nothing. Just staring.

Part of the problem, as is often the case for me, was too many proper names that I just didn't know, all located in exactly the spots where I needed just one answer to break open an entire section. I've never heard of "Scandal," much less its lead actress, nor AUEL, SEGAL, or "J.M. Barrie's Mr. Smee." But the biggest problem turned out to be some unlucky errors: I refused to give up "seine" (for the clue "Net") given that I had the first and last letters -- which just happen to be the first and last letters of the correct SNARE -- in place. I refused to give up "less" (for "Minus") because I had the final S -- which just happens to also be the last letter of SANS -- in place. And of course the obvious four-letter answer for "Program whose prospects are looking up?" is "nasa," right? It seemingly took forever, but once I fixed those I was off to the races again.

Until the very end, which was a DNF because of the crosses of SETTO/SUI and IBN/BOSN. Ack.

Overall, then, I have to call it both "easy" and "challenging," but it was never for a moment "medium."

Unknown 8:45 AM  

Anyone else struggle with BOSN and SAGO crossing nOgOAREAS. I struggled there for the longest time having never seen either of the downs.

Unknown 8:52 AM  

I solved today's @Mary Lou Guizzo / @Jeff Chen collaborative puzzle last night, and stayed up just long enough to read @Rex's take on it.

Now that quite a few comments have appeared, let me just offer that Trent LOTT has been all over the news recently. Click here for a relevant article from THENEWYORKTIMES -- he's the one with the solid red tie and the following quote:

“Trump has pledged to change things in Washington — about draining the swamp,” said Mr. Lott, who now works at Squire Patton Boggs, a law and lobbying firm. “He is going to need some people to help guide him through the swamp — how do you get in and how you get out? We are prepared to help do that.”

Zwhatever 9:00 AM  

Having grown up in West Michigan, home to some of the best beaches in the world (Still salt free and shark free), we tend to be BEACHES, not parkers.

Hand up for assuming 17A's clue was changed. I'm still wondering how that schadenfreude is holding up. Part of the original logic of the electoral college (besides appeasing the slave states) was to protect the Republic from mob rule. I keep wondering if there are 10-15 electors who will fulfill this duty. Sadly, electors are selected for party loyalty, not morality or intelligence.

@Evil Doug - re:Panama - Nicely done.

@Johnny - That's a lot of puzzles to do in 18 months. Good thing you're quick.

Mohair Sam 9:11 AM  

Wow, this puzzle was NO DAY AT THE BEACH if you didn't know KERRY WASHINGTON and insisted on PutT thinking "tap" meant "tap in" as in a golf shot.

We use the "BEACH" phrase all the time around here, surprised @Rex isn't terribly familiar with it. Agree with @Evil Doug on the implicit ULTRAness of FASTIDIOUS. Also agree with him that the clue for 17A was probably different two weeks ago. I read half of one of Jean AUEL's books.

@mathgent (8:22) makes an interesting point about collaborative puzzles.

I was hesitant to drop in LUGE at 37D because the mental picture of a relay in that sport is absolutely frightening - those people are flying, and it appears they cannot see ahead. Yikes!

Michael Hanko 9:13 AM  

This is the second puzzle I've done recently (the other not from the NYT) featuring the grid spanner: MADAMEPRESIDENT. But isn't the honorific correctly *Madam* President? When I google "Madame President" the search engine reports that it is "showing results for madam president". Is the version with the E widely accepted?

As long as we are on the subject of feminine honorifics, "Mrs." is—despite the period—not an abbreviation. Sometimes it is rendered "missus" or something like that, but the word is actually spelled "Mrs." It's a wonderful weirdness of our English language!

GILL I. 9:29 AM  

I've never heard NO DAY AT THE BEACH - I'm a no walk in the park kinda gal. I managed to get the NO DAY AT but I had PEACH. UHOH.
I also thought ALI was the Thrilla in Manila. Did not know he was the Drama in Bahama.
This may have been a record Saturday for me. It took over an hour but I didn't have to Google. Had the same LESS/SANS mistake but it was easily fixed with PRESIDENT.
The YANG YIN SKA UFW SLAW was the hardest section for me. I agree the mayo clue for SLAW was a huge stretch. I make it a lot and I don't use mayo. Boo.
Didn't know KERRY WASHINGTON or SAGAL but they were both gettable with all the fairly easy across answers.
I like my Saturday cluing to be on the fiendish side. I didn't get that feeling today. The clue for PANDA and CUBIC was blah and so easy, that it opened up that whole peanut gallery section in the south.
@evil. I laughed at your first post because I KNEW someone would question whether the clue had been changed....!

QuasiMojo 9:42 AM  

This puzzle proves the NYT isn't worth a penny, even today. What a godawful mess. First off, anal is not informal. It's a psychiatric term, albeit offensive when used incorrectly as it is here. Whoever has used the expression "ultra-fastidious"? Ridiculous. Never heard of Scandal or any of these non-all-stars that populate this grid. Too much junk fill. I had PUTT before PSST so I guess it got me there. But otherwise a very unpleasant solve. In fact it felt like a walk at the beach (which usually these days means encountering a lot of garbage strewn about.)

Teedmn 9:46 AM  

First in - misreading 28A as belonging to 24A, assuming the answer was OAS which fit with my "lesS" at 18D (hi @Lobster11) and "nasA" at 15D which did give me the correct SLAW, leading to LSD. So that's how my day started.

But SKA got the west side opened up and pretty soon I had KERRY _____NGT__ and almost everything west was filled in (not GUFF or FRAU as 39A was still empty after ULTRA). Katey SeGAL went in, then came out when I decided 66A was NO GO zones. When I finally decided that was a NO GO and that NOBLESSE was correct, I saw the NYTIMES and finished up. I'll go along with thinking ULTRA FASTIDIOUS is not an answer one would expect in a grid-spanner. It's a description but not part of the language, per se, in my opinion. (Thanks, @LMS, for the ultra-fast idiots!)

One error I did not make but considered heavily was molD in at 25A. I figured 13D would probably be OPTED and I wanted a tricky answer for "It's a must". Must, I thought, if something is musty, it's "molDy". Sometimes it's good to not give in to one's over-cleverness!

So 31 minutes for me today (nice solve, @r.alph) for a Saturday challenge. Thanks, MLG and JC.

Nancy 9:58 AM  

I have probably spent 20,000 times as many days in my life walking in the park as going to the beach. Yet I have never said about something difficult or unpleasant: "That was no walk in the park." Never. Nor can I remember anyone ever saying it to me. As for NO DAY AT THE BEACH, I've said it occasionally and I've heard it fairly often. Maybe the idiom depends on where you live?

I cook (mostly reheat) many things in a microwave. RAMEN is surely not one of them. Ugh.

Loved the "Aha" moment that came when MADAME PRESIDENT came in. Wonderful clue and answer. But sad, very sad, too.

Despite never having heard of KERRY WASHINGTON, all 15 letters of her came in readily enough. And there wasn't too much other PPP to contend with.

I found some of this challenging, but most of it I zipped through fairly quickly. Can you believe I had a blind spot with THE NEW YORK TIMES of all things??? I had to run the alphabet to get the TI of TIMES.(!) Maybe it's because I can't conceive of the NYT ever having cost just a penny. Not even in 1851. Plus the fact that the word "launch" in the clue (11D) threw me off. I was looking for a ship.

I enjoyed this more than many others here. But I didn't love it and I think it was a lot easier than yesterday's puzzle.

JC66 10:11 AM  


It's been said before, but just because you're not familiar with it ((NO DAY AT THE BEACH) doesn't make it bad.


I think the correct psychiatric term is ANAL compulsive, therefore informal works for me.

Dorothy Biggs 10:17 AM  

Thanks, @Evil Doug. Always a pleasure. It's good to know there are people who are honest about their lack of civility, you sir, help to restore my faith in humanity.

Tita 10:20 AM  

@lms has it spot on re: BEACH/park/cake.

Kerfuffle about Mrs. /FRAU got me thinking... We sound out 'mister' when we encounter Mr., but we sound out 'missuz', not 'mistress', for Mrs. And where that leave Ms.? Ms. doesn't *abbreviate* anything. Just approximates the sound we make when we elide Mrs. even further, while serving the noble purpose of leaving out a random data point about women that was deemed unnecessary to know about men.
Well, at least we don't need to deal with Exma. Sra. D. for Excelentísima Senhora Dona. Hi, @Gill from yesterday...they had the right idea.)

What...why am I here? Puzzle...was tough, and a DNF...started so auspiciously...got YANG/YIN off just the A and I. Felt so victorious, since I hate those totally circular clues. Felt awesome too knowing AMANA without a cross. Our neighbors had the first AMANA RadaRange.

Too many names, but ultimate mistake at GaFF/aFW. Dumb.

I really wanted something about Fifth Avenue for the where east meets west clue.

Welcome, @Johnny.

QuasiMojo 10:32 AM  

@JC66, thanks for the reminder. I think "anal retentive" might predate that use, although I must confess I haven't used it in to describe someone in many "anos." :)

Churlish Nabob 10:45 AM  

Wah! Wah! Wah! Wah! I hate NO DAY AT THE BEACH!
Where's my afternoon milk?!

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Wouldn't madame with an e at the end only be used in the case of a married woman? The leader of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, has never been married, so I think that Madam President is the correct form of address for her. Michelle Bachelet of Chile, on the other hand is married and could be called Madame President.

Zwhatever 11:29 AM  

@anon10:49 - You are correct regarding common usage, although MADAME/MADAM is a little bit of a bastardization of the French to begin with, so I don't know what would be correct when using it as part of a formal title. After all, in French an unmarried woman is a "mademoiselle" not a "madam." And then there is the whole "prostitute" connotation for "madam," although I think you can find that meaning both with and without the terminal E. What I found in online dictionaries fell in line with a Mrs/Miss distinction. Yet, somehow, calling a country's leader the equivalent of "Miss President" seems vaguely insulting. All a long way of saying that I think you are technically correct but that MADAME is probably still right enough.

jberg 11:31 AM  

I went to the International Political Science Association in Santiago in 2009, and heard Michelle Bachelet deliver a speech. Her talk was witty, eloquent, and filled with literary allusions -- policy aside, a striking contrast with our president at the time. However, I knew she had left office in 2010, and somehow had missed her return in 2014; so that one was harder than it should have been for me.

But what really made it hard was maID instead of ENID. Apparently, Tennyson spliced her story into Arthur's. It did bubble into my mind eventually, but wow, did it slow me down.

My other big mistake was to break the well-known crossword rule, 4-letter playwright = INGE. I put in Shaw, another big cause of delay.

So this one was NO DAY AT THE BEACH for me. (@Z, I grew up in Door County WI -- was that you I used to see waving across the lake?)

@Michael Hanko -- pretty sure Mrs. began as a contraction of 'mistress.' The meanings have diverged since.

Well, it's getting late and I have to go bone up on memorizing the state mottoes.

Carola 11:36 AM  

Agree with @Rex on the easy rating and the "glut of tired" entries, the attempt to disguise them by Saturday-level cluing availing naught: e.g., for 21A, I thought the clue might as well read [Insert INGE here]; similarly for 6D, ILE and 26A, SKA.

Happenstance once brought me to a course-side spot for LUGE racing in the Alps. Tiny sled, narrow chute, precipitous slope, terrifying speeds, no sound but the blades against the icc.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Why does @Z get a pass on the gratuitous cheap shot political post?
I thought politics was off the board.
Besides, wasn't he the gasbag who mansplained how the Republicans would be sent packing?
Jeez, enough already.

G. Harris 11:40 AM  

Had putt for tap. This prevented me from getting Sagal who I never heard of until I resorted to Google..

old timer 11:45 AM  

Puzzle was NODAYATTHEBEACH for me. I was not on the constructors' wavelength. I did kind of think there would be a PRESIDENT up there but MADAME is atrocious. Could only be used in a French speaking country, and in that case an article would be required: "Madame le President" or more likely, "Madame la Presidente". NOBLESSE was I think atrociously clued. Needed an "A" before high class.

Anyone else put in "astr" before SETI?

Lewis 11:56 AM  

This was a serious solve, that is, very little wordplay in the cluing. It gave me plenty of resistance, especially in the SE, and I enjoyed the fight. I learned SETI. Had to chuckle at the cross of UNHIP and THE_NEW_YORK_TIMES.

Julia C 12:06 PM  

Jesus wept, @NCA Prez, aioli isn't made withmayo; aioli is made like mayo. I'm referring to real aioli, not the pale crudescence you seem to allow into your universe.


Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Alternative clues: Bullet we dodged: MADAMEPRESIDENT and It sold for a penny in 1851 and has the same net worth today: THENNEWYORKTIMES.

Alysia 12:46 PM  

I'm writing just to say that "ultra whippish" may be my new favorite thing.

Unknown 12:47 PM  

Last night, I attended an exciting women's volleyball match, in which the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers bested the Michigan State Spartans in five sets.

Today's local paper, in the sports section, has this headline: "Volleyball home stretch is NO_DAY_AT_THE_BEACH" (capitals added by me). The author is @Patrick Reusse, and the text is found here (the online headline at that link is not nearly as elegant).

Thanks too to @Michael Hanko for your comment about MADAM_(no E)_PRESIDENT (14). Also, I agree with @Jordan Silverstein that RAN_A_RInk crossing nIP is almost as good a fit to the clues as the actual answer with the letter S.

Malsdemare 1:12 PM  

Oh shoot me now. This was NO DAY AT THE BEACH. I didn't know the nut or rocksteady or how the other half lives, and I had EXTRAFASTIDIOUS, so I was NOT GOING TO FINISH. I don't know the point of the smug NEWYORKTIMES thing; seems like it should be there for a reason. How is it you can clue a French word without any hint (SANS)? I got it, but still . . . Really liked MADAMEPRESIDENT, deeply wish it could have been clued differently. Liked STYLI, had to Google Ms. SAGAL, and purely guessed at KERRYWASHINGTON. But it was a good way to spend some time drinking coffee and waking up.

Now to read comments. Sorry if I'm repeating what others have said ad nauseum.

Numinous 1:15 PM  

Wow, just plain WOW! I DNFed at SLUM putting in aLUM thinking that How the Other Half Lives was some TV show I'd never heard of. I had to look it up and found out it is possibly the very first example of photojournalism ever. Made approximately between 1877 and 1890, it does indeed document the SLUMs of NEW YORK. There is an eight or so hour reading of the text here, downloadable text here, and a list of the photographs with links here. The photographs are well worth a look. They call to mind the BBC show, Copper, set in the 1860s in Little Five Points, New York. I can't say I had no idea how things were 120 + years ago but seeing the photos from then really brings it home. Life for those folks was NO DAY AT THE BEACH.

I'm not going to bitch about any mismatch of Mrs. And FRAU, Cup of Noodles has already been mentioned. I did think the clue for NOBLESSE was a little bit wonky but crossing ESSE didn't really bother me.

I guess I didn't find this puzzle particularly difficult other than my one mistake. Everythig was ultimately getable from crosses. It's just that the whole puzzle has been overshadowed by my discovery of How the Other Half Lives.

Fred Romagnolo 1:48 PM  

U. S. History teachers have always used Riis' book, especially the photos, to emphasize the appalling conditions in New York faced by the poor in the late 19th c. The sufferers were almost exclusively Eastern and Southern European immigrants: Slavs, Jews, and Italians e.g. SLAW made with vinegar and olive oil is terrific! I'm with the "Mrs." isn't an abbreviation crowd. And yes, the clue for NOBLESSE should have been preceded with an "a."

GILL I. 2:19 PM  

@Numi...those pictures are terrific. Now I know why I love watching Boardwalk Empire so much....

Tom 4:06 PM  

Started with UFW, who will all be deported because we don't have a MADAMEPRESIDENT. Instead, if he doesn't resign before the inauguration, we'll have a Mad Damn President, Darnold T. Rump.

Read more at:


Hey Anonymous 12:25, afraid to use a name? We might discover who you are and that you're truly only 7 years old! Hah! Odds are 2 to 1 at Ladbroke's that Lyin' T. Rump won't last 4 years...

kitshef 4:52 PM  

Had absolutely not idea what the clue for SKA meant, so finished with cOLA for my nut and kLUM for my book subject.

Also, found it very difficult. I was sure I must have an error in AUEL, but that turned out to be correct.

Otherwise, I didn't like it at all.

No comment 4:53 PM  

@Brad Kimmel - my thoughts exactly. Knife in the wound, much?

jae 5:16 PM  

Also good to know for crosswords is AUEL's protagonist AYLA.

Zwhatever 6:02 PM  

@jberg - People used to claim that with the right conditions you could see Milwaukee from Ottawa State Park. I never experienced those conditions. Door County would have been just a wee bit too far north, though, to see me waving.

OISK 6:16 PM  

Happy to finish after missing jcole yesterday. I found this one difficult, but ultimately solvable. Never heard of Kerry Washington, but I am extremely unhip.
I don't make political comments here, but I do mention gambling, so when Tom mentioned the 2 to 1 odds that Trump won't last four years (it is now 9 to 4) I wanted to clarify that the odds FAVOR his lasting the full term. Two to one was what you would get betting against him.

Mr. Grumpypants 6:51 PM  

I think you have it wrong, OISK, although I am not a betting person. A 2-1 favorite in the Derby, for example, is favored to win. You have to specify how the wager is phrased. If the bet is that trump will NOT last, then 2-1 is against the full term. If the bet were that he would, then you would be correct. That is, two to one odds that he will not last versus two to one odds that he will. You bet $5 and win $10. The "1" is the short end, no? Fell free to correct me with your greater gambling knowledge.

Zwhatever 7:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zwhatever 8:53 PM  

Also not a gambler, so I looked it up. 9/4 odds means betting $4 will return a $9 profit. So, if I bet $25 million dollars that Trump will not finish his term and he doesn't then I get my $25 million back plus another 56.25 million in profit. Not that we have 25 million reasons to suspect that Mr. Trump would ever commit a high crime or misdemeanor. What I found interesting is that the odds are working both ways, ⅓ that Trump will last his full term but also 9/4 that he is impeached or resigns. So whatever you believe about him the oddsmakers will offer you favorable odds based on those beliefs.

Numinous 10:14 PM  

@Malsdemare (who won't read this) check your Merriam-Websters. SANS is listed as being from Old English by way of Anglo-French via Latin. It's an English word and has been since the 14th c.. Probably most commonly seen as the term for this font, SANS Serif.

Leapfinger 7:14 AM  

Almost had a DAY AT THE pEACH.

Others that made me crINGE: sass/GUFF and a merry-go-round with a his/hers YIN/YANG, mlle/SRTA, less/SANS. All too UNHIP to teeuP they were.

This FRAU also ACH'ED at the SLUMgullion of RAMEN SLAW T-TOPped with D-DILL; would need more than SIPS of KOLA to down that dish. otoh, the wedding of Taj MAHAL and Katey SAGAL would be very STYLIsh.
[His Cakewalk Into Town can cure anyone's blues.]

Nice that @LarryG got his golden BAAL, and @Lewis got his NOBLES in the SE.

Overheard [long ago] on the set of Forrest Gump:
"We CAN'T shoot that scene, Lieutenant Dan isn't here!"
"AU, EL"
(door slams, and... LO, G. SANISE!)

Impressive cross-hatched gridspanners and a lovely solve; and we're spared the ULTRAFAST IDIOtS.

Big Steve 46 8:56 AM  

Good definition of anal: "someone who times how long it takes him to do the NYT crossword - and keeps a running record of it."

OISK 4:18 PM  

Again, from someone who actually DOES make bets on politics....the odds favor Trump lasting the full term. To bet on him to last, you need to LAY odds. This is expressed as 1 to 3, but it oddly means that you need to lay three to win one. To bet on him to NOT last four years, you GET 9 to 4.

When a horse is "odds on" the odds would be, say, 3 to 5. This means it is seen as having a better than even chance to win. If a horse is 9 to 4, it is seen as having a less than even chance to win. Is that clearer?

Joe in Newfoundland 9:47 AM  

Syndication posting here. Agreed. And - would it be better to make the clues "timeless"? Syndication gives us the luxury of remembering that "title for the leader of Chile or South Korea" is very ephemeral, and does not really make this puzzle available for a compilation.

Unknown 10:35 AM  

Hi, @Joe in Newfoundland. I have it on deep background that the clue for MADAMEPRESIDENT was changed very late in the production process. Have a look at the publication date of the puzzle, and think about what happened on the second Tuesday in November ... something that in the weeks leading up to it, few pollsters, pundits, and/or crossword editors had predicted.

rondo 12:20 PM  

28 minutes of pleasure for me. Two w/o squares where I had only the plural S entered at first, but they were foiled by DICTA and STYLI. S wins out most times.

@George B - I've been reading and listening to Pat Reusse for 40 years. Got to meet him once when he came out here to see one of my friends' sons play in a H.S. ALLSTARGAME. Sorta got snubbed; I suppose he was ruminating on the content for his column.

NODAYATTHEBEACH is perfect IMHO. Though more often the missus and I do go for a walk in the park. We're surrounded by 'em.

Vikes vs. Pack today better not ENDINATIE un less for household harmony.

No doubt about yeah baby KERRYWASHINGTON.

Today's offering is a good example of why I like THENEWYORKTIMES puz.

spacecraft 12:52 PM  

Easy, he says again so smugly. Grrr! Well, maybe it would've been easier if I knew what name went in front of WASHINGTON, but not being a Scandal fan, I didn't. ERGO, yet again finished in that accursed NW!

At first sight, I objected to the set of clues (22- and 24-across) that referred to each other. Normally you shouldn't do that, but when I unearthed YANG and YIN I understood.

My way in was PANDA, the ampersandwich that wasn't! (Here there's a law firm called Peters and Associates; guess what their logo is?) The SW followed shortly, but unfortunately I had NODAYonTHEBEACH. This made for some teeth-gnashing in the west. "Rock Steady" I know, love the song, but I had no idea about "rocksteady" or its precursor. Running the alphabet for _LUM I finally came up with SLUM, so we had S_A. Rerunning it I concluded it must be SKA--partly because KOLA sort of looks like a nut.

That knot untangled, I fell into the LESS trap, which yielded MLLE for 20-across. Yeah. But then after getting the NE (agree about INGE/TINGE: really, you two, you're better than that), I had the long title ending in -IDENT, so that area looks a mess.

In the meantime, the SE wasn't that hard to fill--but oh my! NOBLESSE/ESSE? Is there an echo in here? I consider myself-elf to be the luckiest man-an...OK, enough of that. No-fly areas, sure. I have never heard of a "NOGOAREA." Also didn't expect 62-across to be in the plural; maybe the clue should read "Events where East meets West." That's pretty generic anyway: Pro Bowl, NHL All-0star Game, etc. That corner is also beneath the skill level of Mr. and Ms. Constructor. C'mon, man--and woman!

I call this medium-challenging. The triumph factor, while not Wow! status, is enough to save par. Katey SAGAL will have to do for DOD, though screen daughter Christina Applegate is the real hottie on that set. Perhaps some day she will visit this page; the sash is waiting.

Diana,LIW 1:19 PM  

Easy! Hah! A DNB for me. Had to look up some PPPs to even get started, and then didn't finish.

Just not in my particular ballpark. Wheelhouse. Backyard. Beach.

If you knew much of the PPP names, I suppose that would bring the difficulty way down. An if you gave a rat's (pick a rat part) about the NBAALLSTARGAMES - which is where I finally died.

Merry Christmas Eve to all Syndielanders and late-reading Futurelanders - now do that last-minute shopping, or sip some nog.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and Santa

Burma Shave 1:34 PM  


and with THE STYLI try a LOTT to reach.


leftcoastTAM 2:55 PM  

This was "easy", I guess, only because I finally finished it without error. Took time, patience, and a little help from the spouse.

Slow getting started, but once crosses helped reveal the grid spanning downs and acrosses, things fell into place.

Some extra time was spent on STYLI, SKA, and MAHAL, which seemed easy after seeing them.

The SE was last to go, with the SAGO, SAGAL, and SEAS crossings with NOGOAREAS (never heard them called that before).

I would have paid more than a penny for the NEWYORKTIMES, if only for the puzzle if they were run, in 1851.

rondo 4:40 PM  

@D,LIW - Lambeau, not Lambo, not good for MN. Hope Santa Claws brings Lambo, not Lambeau, what he wants.

Anonymous 5:18 PM  

Not an easy puzzle. Filled with answers that I had no clue as to what they were, or who would possibly know even when revealed - sui? ska? anise in sausage? foreign words? a book about slums? Rejected.

Tita 6:15 PM  

Merry Christmas, syndilanders!

Diana,LIW 6:26 PM  

@Rondo - Lambo gets a visit from Sandy Claws every day. He's dreaming of catnip mice as I write this. (Sorry about the other Lambeau.)


leftcoastTAM 7:58 PM  


Way, way above, and much, much earlier, and not, not, likely to see. Otherwise, for those who do: Fascinating photos of late 19th century life in NYC with several levels of meaning. Thank you.

leftcoastTAM 8:07 PM  

I'm not a believer, and Happy Holidays seems to me a bit lame, so let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.

centralscrewtinizer 11:05 AM  

Southeast was a no go zone because I had all-stars game and not all-star games. I blame poor clue.
Say, does anal retentive have a hyphen?

Unknown 9:25 AM  

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Blogger 11:54 AM  

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