Elvira's love in opera / SAT 12-10-16 / Ambassador sent by the Vatican / Gogol's Aksenty Poprishchin per title / San Antonio-based refinery giant / Island home to Sleeping Giant mountain / US city whose name looks like form of poker / Middle Karamozov brother / Comedian who voiced lead in Secret Life of Pets

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TESORO (45D: San Antonio-based refinery giant that acquired Arco in 2013) —
Tesoro Corporation (NYSETSO aka: "Tesoro Petroleum", or simply as "Tesoro") is a Fortune 100 and a Fortune Global 500 company headquartered in Texas at San Antonio, with 2013 annual revenues of $37 billion, and over 5,700 employees worldwide. // Tesoro is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products, operating seven refineries in the Western United States with a combined rated crude oil capacity of approximately 845,000 barrels (134,300 m3) per day. Tesoro’s retail-marketing system includes over 2,264 branded retail gas stations, of which more than 595 are company-operated under its own Tesoro brandname, as well as Shell, ExxonMobil, ARCO, and USA Gasoline brands. (wikipedia)
• • •

Got a little frightened by the byline, as Byron Walden puzzles can be brutally hard (ask anyone who was there about Puzzle 5 at the ... 2006? ... American Crossword Puzzle Tournament—that thing broke even expert solvers in half). But this ended up being very tame. I realize now, though, looking over the puzzle, that I can say that only because these pretty obscure answers like "ERNANI" and NUNCIO (31A: Ambassador sent by the Vatican) are well known to me from decades of solving. Like, I couldn't tell you one thing about "ERNANI," but it slid right into place when my brain saw "opera" in the clue and looked at the terminal "I" in the answer. Bam bam. And NUNCIO I had seen before. Dumb luck. I don't know how widely that word is known, generally, but I had it in my back pocket, so I was able to fly through this thing based on what feels to me like specialized crossword knowledge (which, honestly, often feels like it doesn't count—like I got through it not via skill, but via a kind of inside-information scam). I did get bitten by an unfamiliar name, though: ETTORE! (13D: Automotive pioneer Bugatti) (in Arthurian legend, she's a she, so that's weird) (update: whoops, in Arthurian legend, the woman I'm thinking of is ETTARRE ... nevermind!). And then semi-bitten by TESORO, which I didn't know but was able to guess off the TES-.

SNOCKERED? (28A: Three sheets to the wind) I was favoring KNOCKERED or KNACKERED (which I think means "tired"), but ... SNOCKERED? OK. The more I say it to myself, the more plausible it sounds. There weren't many answers I *loved* here (except SLEEPER HOLD), but it held together pretty well. I had STAND NEAR TO for a bit, which is odd. I have never ever heard the phrase PET HATES (7A: Bugaboos). That was, oddly, harder to take than ETTORE. Not knowing an answer is one thing—getting it and feeling like it's phony, that's a much worse thing. But then I notice that the grid also contains "I'M TOO SEXY" and I find myself appeased. Weird how that works.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Kdunk 12:13 AM  

Really wanted sh*tfaced. Shame.

Trombone Tom 12:16 AM  

Agree with @Rex that this was on the easy side for a Byron Walden puz.

TESORO fell into place as my youngest daughter works at their Golden Eagle refinery in nearby Martinez.

Knew NUNCIO but not ERNANI, but crosses resolved the latter.

What's not to like about SNOCKERED, LOUIECK, and I'M TOO SEXY

jae 12:16 AM  

Easy-medium for me too with the top half a bit tougher than bottom.


boasT before GLOAT, wane before COOL

Semi-educated guesses: ERNANI because exactly what @rex said plus I had the I, BAEZ off the Z in SCHNOZ (which seems to be lacking a letter or two) because singer ending in Z, HARVEY and KOS because I read the clues right, and EBENEZER which IM TOO SEXY helped me spell right.

A fair amount of zip and a bit of crunch, liked it.

TomAz 12:36 AM  

@Kdunk: I wanted SH*TFACED too. First thing that hit my brain and it wouldn't leave. I mean I knew it couldn't be the right answer but still. I wonder if that was intentional by the constructor.

Otherwise, yeah, ok, this was fair enough. Well below my Sat avg but I'm not sure why.

puzzle hoarder 1:29 AM  

NUNCIO doesn't get half the use of ERNANI but it came up almost immediately. ERNANI went in by the crosses. My theory is ones an actual word whereas the other is the kind thing you have to learn because it's such good filler. Somewhere on the back of an old puzzle I've got an xwordinfo.com generated listing of all major opera see categorized by composer. One of these days I'll have to study it. My only mistake was changing EDS to EDT because I'm not familiar with TESORO and I thought the T looked more natural. I may not have made a clean grid but this provided the kind of puzzling I expect on a Saturday

puzzle hoarder 1:34 AM  

That was supposed to read "all the major opera ese", Damon spell check. Yesterday I caught it changing billet-doux to billet-douche.

Elle54 1:47 AM  

So THIS happened .....

Unknown 1:57 AM  

I'm not nearly as gifted a solver as @Rex and many of the commentariat, but I did smile at @Byron Walden's clue for Arturo (6 letters)--who, as I'm sure all opera aficionados realize, was Elvira's love in Bellini's "I Puritani" (and no worries, I'm also well versed with Verdi's ERNANI, so that was a relatively easy fix).

It was nice to be reminded of one of the Minnesota Twins--Chief Justice Warren BURGER--who wrote the pivotal decision leading to release of the Watergate tapes (the other Minnesotan on the Supreme Court at the time, Associate Justice Harry Blackmun, is best remembered for writing the majority decision in Roe v. Wade).

Joan BAEZ is still going strong ... at one point, she was involved with Bob Dylan and at another point, with Steve Jobs.

Many other fine clues ... will leave it to others to sing their praises. Time to get a GRIP and put a SLEEPER_HOLD on myself.

Anonymous 1:57 AM  

Pet hate is not a thing. That and Ettore made the NE pretty tough for me. Nuncio appeared from the recesses of my brain, but not Ernani, but it didn't hold me. I would have enjoyed this but pet hate just leaves me cold.

Larry Gilstrap 1:59 AM  

Now, that was a Saturday puzzle that offered a bit of resistance. I'm seeing lots of proper nouns, but most of them are in the realm of something smart people might know, or certainly wouldn't discount.

I did spend a few hours, seemingly, staring at that NE corner. Never heard PET HATES, ever. And that "Leader in a suit" clue was not steering me to EXHIBIT A.

I'm not quite sure why the adjective form Sri LANKAN is called for, just off of a partial. I have wonderful vivid memories of KAUAI, certainly one of the most beautiful spots in these united states.

I have spent many years living and toiling well behind the Orange Curtain and in close proximity to the Big A near the 57. I once saw Nolan Ryan at the Walden's Books at the Orange Mall, so the Angels were local. I understand that he who pays the piper calls the tune, but I don't understand what Moreno is going for with that whole Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim thing. Match this! I witnessed the Los Angeles Angels play in their first season in the American League, yes, 1961. They played one season in Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Phil Wrigley owned a lot of things, including Catalina Island.

Adonais 2:08 AM  

"Or go to Rome, which is the sepulchre,
Oh, not of him, but of our joy..."

Dolgo 3:21 AM  

Oh, come on. If it has to do with an opera in a crossword, it's likely to be Ernani, just like you're likely to find Louis CK, and a Keats quote is likely to be from "Grecian Urn" or, in this case, Ode to Autumn. I wish they'd go a little further afield--like maybe Tosca or Eve of St. Agnes. That being said, the Gogol reference was a nice change. Still too easy to be of much use for curing my insomnia.

Amortize Cool Madman 3:41 AM  

Who could ever hate their pet???!!
I'MTOOSEXY for this puzzle but I lovvvve Byron!
3 xxx 2 zz and LOUISCK ...COOL!

three of clubs 4:46 AM  

Got myself hung up with CHYRON instead of the far more reasonable TICKER.

SNOCKERED seems like a made-up word.

Didn't find it as easy as some people, but hey, it's Saturday. Appreciate a light dose of Keats ... always nice to have a reason to return to a poem one has not read in forever.

mathgent 5:56 AM  

I've been complaining this week that the puzzles lacked sparkle. This one had it in spades. I counted 13 bright entries, including that wonderful word NUNCIO. An A for sure.

Phil 6:28 AM  

Tesla was a croatian. Many famous people are listed as jewish-american or italian-american, african american so on. So maybe one could say he was serbo croatian in spite of the animosity. The Serbs keep this going but he was croatian born.

As to the crossowrd puzzle...put in cadDIE for tour schlepper...reasonable No?

Dorothy Biggs 7:19 AM  

The NE was my PETHATE/bugaboo. So, let me get this straight, what makes a puzzle "hard" or brutally hard is just to put in ridiculously obscure proper nouns? ETTORE? ABE? or even more obscure phrases where you just kind of make it up? PETHATES?

Like Rex, after doing these things long enough you get some of those obscurities logged into your database: NIOBE, ERNANI, NUNCIO, etc. And you get a sense for the outside the box stuff: PEDXING, ESTHETE, EXHIBITA or KNEADERS.

So where does that leave you? A constructor has to bypass all the stuff that's already been done, I guess. And so ETTORE! TESORO! PETHATES!

There seems to me to be a very fine line between outfoxing those who know the game really well, and just saying "F*ck it...they'll never get this." The NE was that to me. Between PEDXING, EXHIBITA (as clued), ABE (as clued), ETTORE, and PETHATES it was just a giant finger to solvers everywhere.

If making a puzzle difficult relies on stuff like this, well...yeah, it's difficult and I'll get it eventually...but I'm not going to like it.

And while I appreciate the effort, most of those crosses were not particularly fair. The NW with PARTYBUS/NUNCIO/ESTHETE were manageable through inferring. But when you throw some wrenches in there you also have to throw a lifeline in there too...ETTORE/PETHATES/ABE along with the non-word words PEDXING and EXHIBITA was not "brutal," it was just a corner of the puzzle where you had to know ETTORE, ABE, and allow for PETHATES.

PET anything apart from "peeves" is just making it up...and there's nothing wrong with making it up so long as you allow us to know you're into that kind of thing.

LOUISCK, OTOH, is great. It has a string of letters that don't go together...but there's a lifeline there in the crosses that help you out. Even TESORO has that.

I love a challenging puzzle, just like I like challenging music. But you gotta let me (us) in on the joke/conceit, or else you're just gratuitously pleasuring yourself. It's like winning at solitaire. No one cares.

Glimmerglass 7:20 AM  

Didn't know or recognize TESORO. Went with EDt, because "listing" is singular. I agree that PET HATE is not a thing, but PEDXING, as clued, is clever.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

Elvira's love will always be be me, as Elvira will always be the lovely Cassandra Peterson.


Loren Muse Smith 7:49 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:50 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:51 AM  

Hard for me. I just couldn't crack open that northeast (hi, @NCA President) even with so much in place. Knowing ETTORE might have given me the nudge to see EXHIBIT A. I dunno. Maybe not. I was totally committed to some kind of fancy Latin term or comic book hero for the "leader in a suit." Also just looking for some kind of Italian person instead of language didn't help.
The southwest was hard, too, especially since I had

"surveil," "Bono," "It's So Easy," and "Emannuel" (sic) in place

Hey. That mangled Emmanuel looked just fine in the grid coming down. I was pleased with that one.

SNOCKERED is definitely in my language.

"Send" before LEND. But before that, I was wondering if those summer joys are "anoint" by use. In some kind of fancy schmancy poetry turn of phrase.
I also had "asthete"34A before ESTHETE. This was after abandoning some kind of "art _ _ _ _."

I loved EIEIO and KAUAI. You could sing, " There was a pig farm on KAUIA, EIEIO." All those vowels in a row make me shiver. Hah. Oh my gosh, is that real Kauia eau? Oui. Aeolus reportedly drank it daily.

No memory of what an "endomorph" is. I was so desperate I was considering "grebe" or "Swede."

Directors of a firm handing down punishments is a board METING.

Loved PARTY BUS. Ride with us! Get snockered and spread your stupid all over town!

PET HATES looks funny. Johnny finally gave her a ring with emeralds and pethates. Or Niobe briefly dated Hercules and his no-good half-brother Pethates.

I've sat here trying to pick my number one PET HATE. It's hard. It might be listening to the bajillionth person telling me, looking around as though this is a ground-breaking, nodding sagely, "I'm a pretty good judge of character." Yeah, buddy. Aren't we all. I suppose your family/coworkers/roomies are a "pretty crazy bunch," too? And lemme guess - bet you're "pretty stubborn," too. How. Interesting.

No idea why just got all nasty. Anyway, another on of my pet hates is cherry jelly beans.

Byron – serendipity – I thought of you last night when I heard a phrase on NPR. I knew it could be a nice seed for a themeless and counted it out on my fingers. Twice. I kept thinking that you wouldn't need your fingers. It's a 16, though, but no one has used it.

evil doug 7:58 AM  

Since the "X" in "PEDXING" reads "cross", the presence of "cross" in the clue seems wrong. Shame, because "Sign of the cross?" is a clever clue.

What's become of this commentariat? "Shitfaced" was the first thing I thought of, too....

Vincent Lima 8:48 AM  

As an American journalist in Iran in maybe 1958 or 59, my dad showed up in shirtsleeves for his first cocktail party. Everyone else was dressed to the nines. No one would give him the time of day - - except the papal NUNCIO. My dad probably told me that story once, thirty years ago (maybe when I was debating what to wear on some occasion), but the word stuck in my mind and went straight in!

DIALECTS, GRIP, GLOAT, ESTHETE, LOUISCK, LANKAN, BAEZ, NCIS, and BURGER also yielded on the first scan of acrosses, promising a doable Saturday. (On Saturdays, I'll go through all the clues to see what toeholds are on offer, whereas in other days, I'll solve by quadrant. Does everyone change approaches when a puzzle is meant to be really hard?)

Glenn Patton 9:25 AM  

PETHATES ... c'est ma bête noire!

Z 9:31 AM  

Anyone else imagining Keats as lead singer on I'M TOO SEXY?

Eric 9:46 AM  

So WHAT happened

Hungry Mother 9:59 AM  

I can't believe I didn't get the tada because of such a simple error: "Estheta" instead of ESTHETE, giving "abenezer" instead of EBENEZER, where I've been. DOH!

Teedmn 10:03 AM  

Only a hail mary guess of ABE helped me finish in the NE (come on, three letter prime minister ending in E and where the heck ARE the 2020 Summer Olympics being held? I mean, now I have to remember Olympics that haven't even happened yet??)

But I actually finished in the NW after a sudden aha at ORNAMENT. I had taken STAND out of 19A, thinking 3D was going to be a Christmas "evENT" (yay for NUNCIO going in painlessly) when I suddenly thought of a different kind of "ball". 21:11 for a Saturday is not a ROUT for me but nothing to GLOAT about either.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:04 AM  

I initially thought I had a toe into this because of Elvira's love -- but Don Giovanni didn't fit. Ernani is an opera I still haven't seen. Crosswordese is weird. I dislijed quite a lot of this puzzle. 'So ___ happened' is THAT? KNEADERS as a job category? Bakeries are that specialized these days?

Mohair Sam 10:04 AM  

ETTORE Bugatti produced some of the fastest cars in all of Europe in the 1920s. ETTORE was slow to adopt the new hydrolic braking systems however, and when customers complained about the brakes on his cars he famously said "I make cars to go, not to stop."

Absolutely terrific Saturday puzzle. Did what a Saturday should do - we had a couple of gimmes to open the door (SHESGONE, EBENEZER) and then stared at the thing and nearly declared defeat. Finally guessed that SPOILT sounded like a Keatsian word, and IVAN was Russian enough off that, then HARVEY from the H--V (great clue, btw) - and off we went, bit by bit, letter by letter, word by word. Remembering things we thought we didn't know and learning new-to-us words along the way. Excellent cluing. Great stuff.

"IMTOOSEXY" not being selected the number 1 One-Hit Wonder defines the term injustice. Will I ever learn that AMORTIZE has only one "M"? Got LOUISCK off the "L" although I haven't seen the movie, he's everywhere lately. We've had EIEIO a lot, but never clued better. And yeah, the first letter I got for 28A was the "S" and I had the same thought.

Back to our friend ETTORE. Legend has it then when he learned a customer had brought a vehicle back to the factory three times for repairs Mr. Bugatti confronted the man and told him "Do not let it happen again!" - My kind of guy.

Nancy 10:09 AM  

This gave me the brain workout I hope for on Saturday, so I enjoyed it. Probably because it was chock full of names I didn't know, it was far from easy for me. I thought I knew knew all the oil and gas companies: Esso. Exxon, Hess, but I never heard of TESORO. Maybe it refines something other than oil or gas? Didn't know the two Italians, ETTORE and ERNANI; didn't know the two song hits, SHE'S GONE and I'M TOO SEXY. But HARVEY was my first answer in; I got BAEZ off SCHNOZ (I love that word; it makes me think of Jimmy Durante; remember him?). Like others here, I never heard of SNOCKERED for drunk. Never heard of a SLEEPER HOLD, but it sounds like a very benign wrestling hold that I wouldn't mind being put in nearly as much as a CHOKE HOLD.

I hate/hate/hate the comedian LOUIS CK -- so much so that I misspelled his name, calling him LEWIS CK. Giving me KAWAI at 30D. That took a while to straighten out. My last answer in, and my absolute favorite, was the very crunchy EXHIBIT A at 16A. In short, a very interesting puzzle -- but once again with too many proper names for my liking.

Imfromjersey 10:09 AM  

What a fun puzzle - started easy then got harder, though when I looked at my time it was relatively easy for a Saturday for me at 16:45.
I initially had REDFACE for 7D and thought it was a clever clue, until I figured out PEDXING which was much better. Overall a fun puzzle, maybe my ease was helped by doing all those Byron Walden AVCX puzzles.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

The absence of hate here for ETTORE, as compared to a rap star with a similar letter salad of a name, is telling though not surprising.

QuasiMojo 10:20 AM  

Snockered was my first entry. Haha. I enjoyed this puzzle and always like Byron Walden's efforts. Agree with @Nancy about the dread Louis CK. Call him a "pet hate" of mine. My only real "bugaboo" today was "Sri Lankan" which seemed like cheating, but only a tad. Otherwise a fine solid amusing Saturday romp. So many fun words and some real bite.

kitshef 10:20 AM  

I was feeling pretty good about just finishing this one, with its ERNANI and NUNCIO and TESORO and ETTORE - four solid six-letter WoEs. Then came here to see 'easy-medium and felt a mite discouraged.

HAmlEt before HARVEY, arTisTE before ESTHETE, and tough cluing for SPOILT, PARTY BIS, ORNAMENT, plus the aforementioned WoEs made the NW alone like a stand-alone tough puzzle.

On the other hand, SNOCKERED went in of the _____R_D, so there.

Nancy 10:25 AM  

@Mohair (10:04) Your two very funny and delightful ETTORE Bugatti anecdotes took what had been nothing more than an annoying stumbling block of a proper name for me and brought what must have been a really colorful guy vividly to life. I'll never think of ETTORE Bugatti the same way again.

mathgent 10:33 AM  

@LMS (7:51): Brilliant!

Tim Pierce 11:01 AM  

I found more to love in this one than Rex, I guess: not just IM TOO SEXY and SLEEPER HOLD but SCHNOZ, EXHIBIT A, PARTY BUS, LOUIS CK. Nice Saturday clue for EBENEZER, which would almost certainly be a gimme in any other day with A Christmas Carol themed clue.

Is it accurate to refer to IBEAMS as "building supports", given that the beam is a horizontal element of construction and not vertical? I don't know, it just seemed off-kilter to me.

I found 53D and 54D pretty cheeky: two identical clues that use "subway" in exactly the same way. Was expecting one of them to be HERO or, I don't know, METS or something like that. Surprised that Rex didn't call that out. But maybe clueing them exactly the same way is Byron's way of staring me in the face and saying, "yeah, whaddya gonna do about it anyway?"

ArtO 11:01 AM  

A rare week where I even ventured Friday and Saturday yet wound up "almost" finishing both. You experts have no idea of the pleasure such a semi-accomplishment gives to the hoi polloi who are probably the majority of those who work at these brain stimulators every week.

What vs. THAT happened was a woe as was SNOCKERED.

Churlish Nabob 11:03 AM  

I love Louis CK.

@NCA Prez, was your afternoon milk warm? Grumpy, dude.

Time to go get SNOCKERED, a word used a lot when I was a kid growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s-70s, though "schnockered" was often used as well.

r.alphbunker 11:04 AM  

In order to get out of the NW, I had to google {Hall & Oates hit that asks "What went wrong?"} SHESGONE to get the SHES. It was a nice aha when I realized that play was a noun in 15A {Play with an imaginary friend} HARVEY.

Wanted 1A {"Summer's joys are ___ by use": Keats} SPOILT to end with ED.

Details are here.

jberg 11:05 AM  

Unlike everyone else's case, the NE was the first to fill for me (though I started with HARVEY). I didn't know ETTORE, but it's an Italian name ending in ORE, and there aren't that many choices for the first three letters. Plus EXIT POLL and PED XING were there to help -- and ABE, I have to say. I mean, the guy is Prime Minister of Japan right now, so not exactly obscure.

Me too for being stuck on the Elvira in Don Giovanni -- though he is hardly her 'love.' I sort of transposed her with Donna Anna, but I couldn't remember her beau's name, and I finally got enough crosses to see ERNANI -- an opera I've heard on the radio, but never seen.

I've had the chance to visit a couple of hospital ERs in the last few months -- only, they aren't ERs anymore. They've grown so big that they've been renamed "emergency department," or ED. Pretty soon they can be clued as "bygone medevac destinations.'

As for HARVEY -- if you think he was imaginary, you didn't get the point. That's like thinking Hobbes is a stuffed animal.

kitshef 11:32 AM  

I was surprised PET HATE seems so little known, as to me it's interchangable with PET PEEVE. A little Googling reveals it is primarily British, which explains it.

Leapfinger 11:38 AM  

Frankly, I'M TOO SEXY to want an ESTHETic for surgery or DIALECTicals that EXHIBIT A PET HATE where I want a PET peeve, a SCHNOZ where I'd put a SCHNOZZ, and a TESORO where I have nothing but WOE. Any plans of being TOO SEXY have to reLANK AN old bod getting a bit OBESE on holiday cheer. These were the entries that made me a minor CAVILEER.

I also couldn't remember all the Bugattis, and when it came to the Karamazovs, all I was sure of was that wasn't Smerdyakov. Couldn't get a GRIP on the half-dozen or so operatic Elviras' lovers, so just picked ERNANI out of my hat, where he'd been hiding since the other day when ER_NANI was an indecisive au pair. I suspect one of the Elviras teamed up with a NUNzIO, though probably not a papal one.

Anyway, it all gradually worked out, and the only real problem was staying with Impart=TELL too long. My imaginary friend HARVEY was a big help in cracking that empty corner.

For any who are interested, the PARTYBUS (in the Orient, anyway) was known at least as early as the 15th Cent.

@r.alph, I love whenever a final ED turns T. Doesn't that tempt you too?
@Nancy, any thoughts I may have about LOUIS CK are informed by his association with Tig Nataro at a critical time. Look her up, and catch some of her shows if you can. Radio is fine.

Anyway, despite all the above CAVILEERING, I found much was outstanding enough to make I BEAM: EBENEZER, NIOBE and even the SPOILT ROADIE HARE-BURGER. Whatever floats your GLOAT, eh? and Byron spawned a lot of good stuff. You, Sir, are an ORNAMENT to your profession and it's always fun METING you.

Mike Rees 11:41 AM  

I feel like I got double-naticked in this one. Would someone please establish a standard for the spelling of OTOS vs OTOES and be done with it already?

Or better yet, stop using it entirely. I bet that makes the top ten most-used clue/answer combos.

Anyway, rant aside, I went with UTES and was satisfied with that, having knowledge neither of papal emissaries of any kind, nor of NIOBE at all.

Hand up for shitfaced, especially having entered fade for COOL, with the opening 's' it kinda jumped out at me.

Also hand up for PETHATES not being a thing. It's not a thing. Anything no one says cannot be a thing.

Hartley70 11:41 AM  

Thank goodness for the SE! I didn't think I would ever get a start on this toughie. It was sorely needed after an unusually easy week, and since I finished only one minute over my average time, I'm ending on a high note.

I didn't know MADMAN, ETTORE, ERNANI, or SNOCKERED, but everything else was floating around in my head and I just had to tease it out. Easier said than done in this case. Thanks for the workout, Byron!

I thought LouisCK's cable half-hour show was great. I hope there's another season.

I had one of my best vacations ever on Kauai. We were booked into a Waikiki hotel for a week, spent one night and decided we needed to head for the real paradise on KAUAI. It was an excellent decision.

mac 11:41 AM  

Medium Saturday for me, but as usual I enjoyed Byron's work. At one point the whole right side was filled in, and the left blank. Lots of piecing together!

Teedmn 11:51 AM  

@r.alphbunker, seeing your wHAT in at 9D reminds me that I considered that answer, which would make 7A M&A's favorite bugaboos: PEwHiTES (variation) but I held off from that :-).

old timer 12:11 PM  

I knew NUNCIO right off, also BURGER and ROADIE, Had subway "tile" before LINE and all sorts of stuff in mind before MAROONED, but I was able to the bottom and middle, though Dr. Wiki was needed to give me LOUISCK. and SPOILT. My fave clue was the one for PEDXING, which as a kid I always thought was XING PED. Second fave: HILO. I think it is pronounced "hee-low" but in whaling songs it is always "high-low".

TESORO was a bit of a WOE. I remember when BP bought Arco. So my first guess was "Sun Oil" or "Sunoco", but TESORO became clear on the crosses.

CDilly52 12:51 PM  

Pet hates is bogus. Bugaboos, at least in my aged lexicon are persistent pesky stumbling. blocks. Other than that, this was a delightful mix of crossword trivia and spicier current entries.

My granddad always said anyone we would, today, immediately identify as sh*faced was " was snockered so that fell easily and opened up that portion of the grid. Nice Saturday in what has been a pretty easy week.

Greg 12:55 PM  

Got hung up on ETTORE/MERE cross. I had put in METE for "just", as "it is mete, right and salutory". ETTOTE didn't look right, but you know, another proper name... Of course now I'm remembering that it's not METE, but MEET in the Lutheran Liturgy. Sigh.

floatingboy 1:05 PM  

Personally found it pretty difficult. Took the better part of an hour to finally solve. NW was the killer but SW had me stuck for a bit too until I finally got BAEZ. That was the key into the rest.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Interesting and well composed for the most part as is expected from BW but for a couple of what are to me crossword only words; never heard of pet hates and kneader may be a job but, I have never seen or heard of it outside crosswords. But, besides those, the proper noun answers in this puzzle are renowned enough that they had a certain ring to them after filling in from the crosses.

I remember hearing I'm Too Sexy on the radio back in the day. But, I almost never heard the entire song because I would change the station. It was a one hit wonder song although I wondered how it ever got even that far.

Everybody should have a Harvey when he/she is needed. You do not have to worry about offending them as they will always 'come back '.

Masked and Anonymous 1:14 PM  

SPOILT?! Great to see that Keats liked to talk like M&A, I guess. Did he have any neat quips with POOPT in em?

Had absolutely no trouble makin start-up entries into this SatPuz. Did have a problem makin **correct** start-up entries, however. First accidentally correct entry was: ERS [ergo, fave weeject, just from a sigh of relief perspective] at 20-D, followed directly by GRIP. Then got EXITPOLL off the P, and my bronc was outta the chute.

Nanosecond guzzlers/pethates, during the ride:
* ERNANI. Is almost INANER, backasswards.
* TESORO. Wanted one of the OCOs known to mortal M&As: SUNOCO, TEXOCO, CONOCO, ROCOCO, GOLOCO. [In increasin order of desperation]
* NUNCIO. Chief Information officer that wears a habit. Had no idea, yet it sounds vaguely familiar.
* "Greatest VH1 One-Hit Wonders of the 90s". Talk about yer SLEEPERHOLDS. [kerzzzzonk]

So … that above list is pretty (yo, @musepethate) much what @RP foresaw as "trouble brewin", for us so-so-solvers.

LAA: My immediate reaction to this "word" is always a scenario involvin an opera singer, in the process of warmin up, that suddenly starts to fall off the stage, or somesuch.

Nice EIEIO clue, tho.

Thanx, Mr. Walden. LANKAN good. Kept m&e away from vacuumin, even longer than I could've ever hoped. ["Ooooh… I'm too sexy for my Electrolux …"]

Masked & Anonymo3Us


I'm Too Stupid for this Puzz 1:23 PM  

No way, but I have great respect for anyone who pulled it off.

Maruchka 1:24 PM  

When stuck, I usually move on to do a bit of the Sunday puzz, delivered as a section on Saturdays. This maneuver can spark me brain on return. It did.

Still, too many googles - SHES GONE, ERNANI (thought Don Giovanni, but no 6-letter lover there), ETTORE (nice stories, @Mohair). Do-over for what/THAT (which yielded PEw HATES - bad church seats? smelly dislikes?).

Nice to see GRIP and ROADIE together. Get on the PARTY BUS!

@Nancy - thanks for the Jimmy Durante memory. The SCHNOZ-zola! Loved the end of the shows, him walking through spotlights into the dark. "Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.." Sweet.

@TromboneTom - MARTINEZ, CA? Rode by the old John Muir house many a time. Sleepy little county seat, back then.

Looking forward to getting slightly SNOCKERED over the holidays.

GILL I. 2:02 PM  

Like @jae I was a wane before a BOAST. Actually I was a lot of things before light bulbs began to flicker on.
I love all of Byron's work, but he doesn't really like me. I will say, though, that this was my best of his. I never once thought of SHIT FACED because I'm a lady and when IM TOO SEXY for my own good, I get SNOCKERED. Two times in my life I've gotten that way and I swore it would never happen again. The first was when I was hired as an interpreter for a film called "The Valley of Gwanji." Harryhousen was the visual effects director and in order to make the TRex look real, he needed full sun for the outdoor shoots. It had rained for days and everyone was bored to tears because we were in the middle of nowhere. James Franciscus was the lead actor and he was a bit of an imbiber when he thought no one was looking...Anyway, we were all in a bar and he said I should try this elixir he was drinking - said it was smooth and would take away my pains. That was my first and last time I let anise touch my lips. I think I had about 10 shots before I fell off my bar stool - really! Lord what a handover. I smell that stuff and I get sick even though it was years ago. I'll tell my second SNOCKERED another time.
Oh, Bugatti is one fine automobile. I only saw one in real life in Rome. There were lots of billboard ads though. As much as I loved that car, I could not remember ETTORE. First Google. Had SHOP and HERO for the subway thingies but by golly I got NUNCIO and ERNANI and SCHNOZ and all the other fantastic words.
I finished with very little help but it sure took me a long time.
METING is really a word? I wish TESORO had been a Spanish treasure.

Trombone Tom 2:31 PM  

@maruchka my parents considered buying that monstrous Muir home back in the 1950's. It would have been a money pit as there was so much deferred maintenance. But I really liked the attic room with windows on all sides giving a glorious view.

TESORO owns the old Avon oil refinery a few miles from there on the east side of 680. It was built in 1913 and run by Associated for years (Remember them? Flying A)

Fred Romagnolo 2:31 PM  

[Don Ottavio was Donna Anna's lover. ETTORE is the Italian version of Hector. I've used PET HATES all my life. "She was a mere girl"= she was a just girl? I can't make it work. How about "she was just a girl?" But that's not how it's defined. Shouldn't there be another Z at the end of SCHNOZ? SNOCKERED is another word I've always been aware of; that other word would hardly appear in the NYT. NIOBE was turned to stone in eternal mourning for her sons and daughters who were slaughtered by Apollo and Diana because Niobe dared to compare them to the deities. Berger was more than a justice, he was the Chief Justice.

Unknown 2:47 PM  

Lol. Thought the same. Great minds.

DESievers 2:50 PM  

Big boo for pet hates. Ped xing dubious at best concerning crossword protocol. The subway entries were ho hum. Kneaders don't "make" dough - they knead it. And likely don't make much of the other kind of dough. Party bus was the best. Cavalier being synonymous with supercilious is dubious in my lexicon. I liked She's Gone, even if the tune is now stuck in my head.

Gabe Tuerk 3:14 PM  

Having never seen the secret life of pets (but *did* endure the previews for one full year leading up to the release) AND not being a fan of Louis CK, I was wondering to myself "who the hell is this Lou Isck guy?"

Snockered fine but I had Dead Drunk first and then plastered and then snookered

PedXing I didn't much like. Thought Harvey was notable and clever - my imaginary friend on my bus commute is this puzzle

kitshef 3:19 PM  

@Gill I. Yours is the comment of the year.

The Valley of Gwangi is one of my favorite movies. Unlike a lot of movies I loved as a child, it has stood up to repeated viewing. In particular the final scene in the collapsing, burning church is mesmerizing.

Sure, I'm a sucker for anything involving dinosaurs, but Gwangi is a rare gem.

FWIW, my other favorite dino movies are the original King Kong and Jurassic Park III.

Nancy 3:44 PM  

@GILL -- What an interesting life you've led! I knew you were in the travel industry and that you've traveled a lot, but I didn't realize that you were a participant in a Real Hollywood Movie, hobnobbing with Real Hollywood Actors. How glamorous! But the best they had to offer you was anise? That stuff that smells and tastes quite a bit like cough medicine? I've never been SNOCKERED by it, and yet I feel a little green about the gills (pun intended, sort of) whenever I smell it, too. Next time you're offered anise, maybe you should ask for the Chivas or the Grey Goose instead.

@Marushka -- So glad you remember Durante. He was a true original, very much of his time, with (I thought) a goofy kind of charm and very limited talent. He probably wouldn't last five minutes in the entertainment biz today.

Sian 3:52 PM  

Did. Not. Finish. Complete mess in NE. Which is ironic because I use the phrase "pet hate" a lot. I'm still discovering words and phrases I had no idea Americans aren't familiar with, even after 16 years stateside.

GILL I. 4:34 PM  

Nothing to do with the puzzle alert:
@kitschef.....OMG you actually watched Gwangi...!!!! I too, loved that movie but boy did it get lousy reviews. That last scene with the burning church was actually filmed at the beginning in a town in Malaga. It took about 5 days to make. I've never had so much fun (other than that shitty hangover) in my life.
Did you perchance ever see "House of a Thousand Dolls?" It was with Vincent Price and Martha Hayer. I think it was called the sleaziest movie AIP ever made. If you want to see me in my IM TOO SEXY for my own good days, you can go to Google and open "Images for the house of a thousand dolls. The third frame shows me in a green silk dress on the bottom right. I think I was smoking something not legal in those days.
@Nancy...When I was in Spain, lots of Hollywood films were produced there because labor was cheap. I had an in because I was bilingual and I knew the right people....The best summer jobs a poor student like me could get. Lets just say I had lots of fun!

Nancy 4:55 PM  

Wow, @GILL! (4:34) And double wow! You really were TOO SEXY for your own good!

QuasiMojo 5:13 PM  

Just got a look at @Gill's comment. Sounds like a helluva good time. Malaga is or was so beautiful. I haven't been there since 1979. I too was an extra in a movie once. Stateside. My boss wouldn't let me go to the screening however since it was during work hours. But I caught it later and I had maybe less than a second of film time. :) Helas!

As for "anise," James Franciscus's acting always gave me a hangover. Sorry, I know that sounds cruel. But he was such a ham.

And I just realized that my first thought for Elvira's lover was "Ottavio" (which I know is dead wrong and wouldn't fit) but perhaps I had a psychic flash since he is best-known for his aria "Il Mio Tesoro"!

kitshef 5:47 PM  

House of 1000 Dolls has now been added to Xmas wish list. C'mon, Santa!

Malsdemare 6:16 PM  

@B oarschland Tourist Board from yesterday. You know that Bloom County is back, right? On Facebook. Funnier and more perceptive than ever, which is saying a lot.

Puzzle was HARD! Wanted SchNOCKERED, didn't know Elvira or her lover, or the comic, and what I did to I'MTOOSEXY shouldn't happen to even a no-hit wonder. I finished, no happy tune, and couldn't begin to find all my errors. I'm a good fallen away ( isn't that a fabulous descriptions? You can see be slowly sinking into the mists, right?) Catholic so I got NUNCIO, after first putting in bishop (well, it fits). The clue for OTOS said tribe, so I had OTOe there, and with bADMAN, the one-hot wonder was amazingly full of vowels, accounting for it's poor status. I had to google for ETTORE, but misspelled KUwAI so my comic was incomprehensible. But I got SPOILT! Hooray for me!

Thanks to everyone for fun comments; they distract me from the ignominy of being too stupid for my shirt (yup, stealing it!)

okanaganer 6:25 PM  

Easy-medium? That's a joke, right?

Having never heard of either Tesoro or Aksenty whatsisname, I had EST for "Masthead listing". You know, "Est. 1883".

And for anyone who says "really, you should know whatsisname", consider this: if I search on Google, every single hit except one links to this crossword clue!

Malsdemare 6:48 PM  

Oh crap, proofread, girl. One-hit wonder and "its poor status."

Unknown 10:28 PM  

Pethates is ridiculous
otherwise a fun puzzle that I--mostly--knew

Unknown 12:15 AM  

Pet hates is my new pet peeve.

Tom 7:53 PM  

Late to the party again, busy Christmas shopping, but ETTORE was a gimme for me. Not very many car people who solve puzzles based on the number of complaints. I mean, the guy is responsible for building some of the greatest cars in the world, and his name is currently on one of the fastest (and most expensive) cars in the world. Lots of crying over a name that has significant history. A lot better known than ERNANI, I bet!

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

I always remember NUNCIO because I seem to recall General M. Noriega hiding at the Vatican embassy before he was arrested.

muskox 4:08 PM  

I thought the whole point of the play is that Harvey is NOT an imaginary friend, but a real invisible and quite formidable friend, a pookah?

Ho 10:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
spacecraft 11:44 AM  

Just about easy-medium for a Saturday. I seem to recall a series of "mini-aha" moments as my PARTYBUS rolled through. I get an image of a ROADIE chomping a BURGER as he STEERS the amp into the GYM. The NW was *almost* last again, but NE wins today. Some tough, nearly unfair stuff there, led by "So ____ happened." Okay, there's no "?" but still. I nearly went with PEwHiTES--mayhap a variant of pewits. And what a clue for ABE! No doubt about it being Saturday! Luckily I had enough of a framework with HILO (one of my little ahas), gimme TICKER and the overused crutch SASSED to come up with PET/space/HATES and finish. EIEIO and OTOS are also not lovely, but they pay for SCHNOZ, and that's something.

NUNCIO didn't faze me; Dan Brown has taught me more than I ever wanted to know about the Vatican. The iconic IMTOOSEXY, most memorable in the equally iconic "Grumpy Old Men," was worth the price of admission. Why in the world those guys didn't have more of a career is truly a (one-hit) wonder.

Casting about for a DOD. Here's an indirect one--and a name I've been itching to award the honor to: I LUUUV me some Abby Sciutto of NCIS, so Pauley Perrette, doff the goth and don the sash; you're it!

EXITPOLL: birdie. The eagle putt lipped out with SASSED.

P.S. Congrats to Justin Thomas, who 59ed yesterday. WTG!

Jaime 12:21 PM  


leftcoastTAM 1:40 PM  

I'd have to say "easy" for Saturday, and happy to do so. Haven't had a chance to say that for a long time. Felt in tune with constructor nearly all the way. Let me GLOAT for a while, please.

Despite some unknown PPP's like ERNANI and ETTORE, many helpful apt crosses like PEDXING and EXITPOLL, along with the string of three INGS down the staircase, helped a lot.

Many good long entries like IMTOOSEXY and SLEEPERHOLD.

Liked the HILO-KAUAI Hawaii pairing. Have been to all the islands several times, in part because they were always the places to go during Alaska's winters.(Lived there for many years.) Didn't know that KAUAI was called a Sleeping Giant, though. Sounds a bit ominous now.

SNOCKERED evokes long ago childhood days when one or another relative imbibed too heavily and were upbraided by a stern mother or grandmother.

I can drink to this puzzle and Mr. Walden.

rain forest 2:54 PM  

Easy-medium is about right. SWomehow I just *knew* SPOILT, and that made the NW almost a lay-down, NUNCIO included. Maybe it's a Canadianism, but I have always thought that three sheets to the wind was SNOggERED. Still do. However, the puzzle word is pretty descriptive.

Only write-over was cadDIE, which I thought was a gimme, until the crosses fixed it. However SHES GONE was indeed a gimme, a song from the only Hall and Oates album (Abandoned Luncheonette) that I liked. Such great songs, driven by the vocals, unlike most of their later stuff. I think Hall could have written IM TOO SEXY, so in love with himself he became.

Nice puzzle with some excellent clues (loved the baby boomer Aussie clue), and wide-ranging subject matter. Btw, I like Louis CK.

Burma Shave 3:12 PM  


THAT you're METING us EXCEEDS what's COOL.
DIALECTS lovers, GLOAT like a fool.


rondo 4:37 PM  

Got MAROONED in the NE for a while having tHAT for WHAT and marKEt for TICKER. Took a while to straighten THAT out. For the shortest time I was stRandED in the SW before I was MAROONED.

Took a gal from work to see Hall & Oates +/- 15 years ago, we got a bit SNOCKERED after the concert with some Petron while on her couch, she started making out with me and never said, "STOP THAT!" How COOL! Shortly thereafter she started to EXHIBITA type of nerve disorder, lost her GRIP, went on disability, and since then SHESGONE. Maybe IMTOOSEXY? Or a MADMAN?

Sing it to me Joan BAEZ. Yeah baby.

IGIVE puzzles like this HI scores not LO.

Diana,LIW 7:44 PM  

You guessed it - another dnf. I blame the state of chaos in my house. Naw, I blame my own lack of PPP intelligentsia. But then there are days I have a "gimmee" when Rex and others say "WHA?" (as we've recently seen.) It's all fair. Onward to Sunday.

Enjoyed the reminders of those one hit wonders.


leftcoastTAM 7:50 PM  

No, rondo, you're not a MADMAN, but appear to be just a narcissist.

Bananafishie 5:24 PM  

The East half went in easy, the West half not so much, at least until AMORTIZE finally dawned on me.

Loved seeing LOUISCK in there, the George Carlin of our time.

Bananafishie 5:25 PM  

Oh, also wanted SH*TFACED ... and I had S------ED when I got to that clue ... had to talk myself out of dropping it in.

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