Anchovy sand eel / SAT 1-14-17 / Topper for Chaplin's Tramp / Obviously Catholic person in snarky rhetorical question / Bond seen in Wayne's World / Tools descended from alpenstocks / Game with official called stickman / Mock wedding setting in Shakespeare

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Constructor: Andrew Kingsley

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SPRAT (19A: Anchovy or sand eel) —
noun: sprat; plural noun: sprats
  1. a small marine fish of the herring family, widely caught for food and fish products.
    • any of a number of small fishes that resemble the true sprats, e.g., the sand eel. (google)
• • •
SPECIAL MESSAGE for the week of January 8-January 15, 2017

Hello, solvers. A new year has begun, and that means it's time for my week-long, once-a-year pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. In making this pitch, I'm pledging that the blog will continue to be here for you to read / enjoy / grimace at for at least another calendar year, with a new post up by 9:00am (usually by 12:01am) every day, as usual. Despite my regular grumbling about puzzle quality, constructor pay, and other things that should be better in the world of crosswords, I still love solving, I still love writing about puzzles, and I love love love the people I meet and interact with because of this blog. Well, most of them. Some I mute on Twitter, but mostly: there is love. The blog turned 10 in September, and despite the day-in, day-out nature of the job, I can't foresee stopping any time soon. The community of friends and fellow enthusiasts are all just too dear to me. You can expect me to be here every day, praising / yelling at the puzzle—independent and ad-free. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

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Now on to the puzzle!

Like yesterday, this was phenomenally easy. Unlike yesterday, this wasn't terribly interesting. It just has manifestly lower overall fill quality—the highs aren't very high, and the lows (CERT OPCIT TOATEE) are lower than yesterday's lows. RETROCHIC is probably the nicest thing in the grid (nicely positioned at 1-Across—where marquee long answers belong on Fri and Sat) (1A: Back in). HARE-BRAINED also has charm (22D: Cockamamie). The rest is quite bland—not terrible, just bland. Longer answers like WEED-EATER (?) and WEEKENDER and GRASS STAINS are largely there to provide lots of convenient letters. OPEN SINCE is terrible as a stand-alone answer. And everything else is ... everything else. Adequate, but not sizzling, not funny, not entertaining. I've seen BROMANCE too many times now to credit it with novelty (38D: Bond seen in "Wayne's World"). It's had its moment, and should probably be shelved for a few years, at least. Except for the thrill that comes from crushing a Saturday, I can't imagine this puzzle providing solvers much in the way of enjoyment. It will do ... but "it will do" should not be NYT-standard.

The only difficulty today came in just getting off the ground, i.e. in the NW (where I start every puzzle). RED (4D: Like the lower half of Haiti's flag) and ONES were gimmes (how many three-letter flag colors are there? And [Georges] seems very clearly a plural and very clearly related to money, a la Benjamins and occasionally, though suspectly, Abes). But SPRAT (19A: Anchovy or sand eel) and CERT. (9D: Warrant, e.g.: Abbr.) and especially CRAPS (as clued) (6D: Game with an official called a stickman) were beyond me, so I had to hack around to get those Acrosses in the NW to come into view. But after the NW was sorted, nothing else in the puzzle put up a fight. Having HARE made BRAINED obvious. Having STAINS made GRASS obvious. THE POPE off the TH-, TOATEE off the TO-, and then all the SE Acrosses from there. TORRID pace, without even speeding. Just over 6 min. without trying. Not all easy puzzles bring joy, unfortunately. There's just not enough that's original or bold or risky or ambitious or artful here. It's not that it STANK, it's that more brio or elan or one of those words was NEEDED. How does a puzzle with TORRID SEX and RAW MEAT manage to be tepid? Weird.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hartley70 12:01 AM  

Just hanging around waiting for Rex to post on a Friday night. I saw the puzzle was available and took a quick look, only to realize this was one easy Saturday. I finished in half my usual time, just as I did yesterday. However, I found Friday's puzzle a much livlier experience. I hadn't heard of some long answers but had fun figuring them out. Not so much figuring was NEEDED today, and NEEDED is a boring answer.

Today's puzzle only gave me a kick when I saw the clue "Time Lords", and my enthusiasm fizzled with the answer. To describe "Time Lords" as an ALIENRACE is to describe a tornado as a wind storm. At the very least the answer could have been "THEDOCTOR", but maybe I'm just a little biased. I miss you David Tennant.

I can't blame the constructor for my disappointment. This would have made a wonderful Tuesday or a passable Wednesday. No, this is all on Will today.

jae 12:08 AM  

Easy-medium for me, but it would have been easy if I hadn't gone with HAirBRAINED before HARE. The result was that I erased TORRID...alas, the lost nanoseconds (hi M&A).

The whole east side was almost Monday easy.

Other erasures: GRASS Skirts before STAINS and norm before STAN (I have no idea why).

Easier than yesterday's and not quite as interesting or what @Rex and @Hartley70 said....sorta liked it but...

Unknown 12:26 AM  

Today marks @Andrew Kingsley's sixth New York Times puzzle since making his debut less than nine months ago, so obviously something about his cruciverbal sensitivity must resonate with @Will Shortz and his team.

I was amused to see DERBY crossing BERET, and considered SEED ahead of SEMI, only to see SEED elsewhere in the grid. RED and BLUE were lucky guesses on flag colors, and much as I like seeing my first name pluralized, I couldn't help thinking of Chopin's French lover, the singular George Sand, instead of the uninteresting ONES (which just three days ago had the controversial FITB clue "___ place").

The high point for me was puzzling out HATRED from the 7-Down clue, a useful reminder that this coming Monday, we as a nation will honor the life and legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Ever since mid-November, I've been wearing a gold button with maroon lettering of the word HATE, crossed out like the more familiar "No Smoking" logos. Click here for an image, and here for additional context.

kitshef 12:48 AM  

Soooooooo not easy for me. Ten minutes in, had everything but the NW. Ten minutes later, no further progress. Finally took out everything from that section, including things I was sure about like MCS, RED and lAmEBRAINED, and then was able to make progress when I saw my typo of ReDE for RIDE.

Even then, slow going. Almost every one of those NW downs was inscrutable. The two REDs, (with and without a HAT) were the only ones that went in without extreme effort.

So a nice Saturday challenge for me, and a pleasant solve, other than the ridiculous OPEN SINCE.

Thought @Rex would go off on BAHT, after all the LEK rage.

Nice to see THE POPE, even without his mobile.

Zoltan, Destroyer of Puzzles 12:55 AM  

I crushed this puzzle. I mean I walloped it. I grabbed it by the nose and kicked it in the ass. I punched it in the teeth and then choked it for good measure. I stomped on it, repeatedly jumping up and down on it while singing happy old show tunes, then I picked it up and cleaned it up and apologized until I gained its trust and then I stomped on it some more. Except for when I had birdBRAINED before HAREBRAINED, that little part I didn't demolish as hard as the rest, of which I baked a beautiful birthday cake and gave to the puzzle except the candles were actually sticks of dynamite and wow was that something and right after that I ran it over with a steam roller while I played a ukelele and whistled happily in complete self-satisfaction at how awesome I am.

And it only took me eleven minutes and change.

Anonymous 1:18 AM  

Backed into finishing this one. Did the NE first, then the S, and then linked the two via the SE. Worked up into the NW and got stuck for a few minutes. I had the right idea for what "back in" meant, but RETROCHIC was beyond me and I couldn't figure it out despite having all but 2 letters. Finally got it all when I realized a warrant was a CERT rather than a PERM.

If it hadn't been for getting a bit stuck finishing off the NW, I would have called this an easy Saturday.

chefwen 1:21 AM  

Fastest Saturday in recent history, got through it before I wanted to. I like to savor my puzzles.
Got SPRAT with an educated guess, probably from watching Brit cooking shows. Like @George B. Seed before SEMI.

Took me about half an hour, so I guess Rex polished this off in about one and a half minutes.

Trombone Tom 2:10 AM  

This was truly a fast Saturday. I'll admit freely that I made a few fortunate guesses along the way, but most of this was easy peasy.

I liked the stacks of Across answers in the NW and SE.

Last to fall was CERT. I was looking for wriT, but that certainly did not fit.

After such a great Friday, I'm inclined to believe Saturday was doomed to appear feeble. I agree that Will should have consigned this to a Wednesday.

Greg 3:04 AM  

If I can knock out a Saturday in under 15 minutes it's not just easy, it's phenomenally easy.

Unrelated, if you haven't seen Patrick Berry's "Four-Letter Words" contest puzzle in the WSJ from yesterday, I highly recommend it. It's the most fun solve I've had in I can't remember how long.

Larry Gilstrap 4:11 AM  

Cool write-up by OFL. Not sure OPEN SINCE appears on a sign or plaque in any business I have ever frequented. Run cluing SPATE is efficient.

This puzzle went down pretty easily, but I don't blame it. Can't I just bask in the power of my solving skills. Ok, wrong day Will! Give up the ping-pong and whip this enterprise into shape! Not really.

Full disclosure, I love women, but at this time in my life I confess to being an active participant in more than one BROMANCE. Sensitive, intelligent, and self-effacing men in my life make me feel very rich.

During a phase of my academic career, I strove to be a Shakespeare scholar. I have seen a majority of the 37 plays in production, some multiple times. Studying his plays is the most efficient use of brain activity I can imagine. As You Like It features courtly characters outside the court, in fact, they're in ARDEN Forest.

I watched the civil rights struggles of the 60's from afar and felt indignation at the systematic injustice that existed, particularly in the South. HATRED is an emotion I try to exclude from my mind, and from my vocabulary. It's not CHIC, it's not yogic, and it certainly "paralyzes life." Today, I saw a picture of MLK, Jr. walking arm in arm with his supporters into an obviously hostile situation and I could see in their eyes the realization that in an instant they could have been killed. Talk nicely to each other!

Jack SPRAT could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean...licked the platter clean. Synergy.

I am not a robot 4:37 AM  

That's it, I'm a genius. I'm on a one- week run of nearly perfect solves and no lookups. Couple dumb errors on Tuesday (carelessness, mind you) but apparently something has changed and I'm going to say it's me.

Nevermind that little struggle in the SE corner where I thought Friars was spelled with an E and the cross had to be relic something. That was just a harebrained moment.

Which reminds me of another genius, Bugs Bunny, who starred in an episode called The Hare-Brained Hypnotist. He was one of my role models as a child. The Rabbit Of Seville as a musical high has never been exceeded.

Phil 5:39 AM  

2records for me Tues and Fri. And I didn't catch the Georges but did no CRAPS. However that just gave me partials of Retrace or retract something ot other.
Rex hated LEK but no comment on BAHT???

TrudyJ 6:05 AM  

Very easy Saturday for me but I still don't understand how FRIARS are "Roast figures"?

Muscato 6:30 AM  

Because, being both superstitious and hypochondria, I use the puzzle as a vector for whether or not I'm retaining my faculties in anticipation of the inevitable onset of dementia, a Saturday on which I more than halve my usual time is welcome. That said, this one didn't really make me feel like I'd earned the nine-minute solve-time; it was just kind of handed to me in an "Oh, look - I'm done..." sort of way. And now I'm wondering what kind of dish involving SPRAT and BRINE one might spend some BAHT on while on a WEEKENDER...

Unknown 6:33 AM  

@Trudy Morgan-Cole, the clue "Roast figures" applies to both MCS and FRIARS. Click here for an example of Groucho Marx serving as master of ceremonies (MC) of a Friar's Roast of Johnny Carson (numerous other examples readily found on the internet).

One more thing (hi @jae), STAN Van Gundy has a brother JEFF, also an N.B.A. coach.

Loren Muse Smith 6:36 AM  

*kitshef – thank you. Me, too, for that northwest corner. Thinking that “x factor?” clue would be “yin,” I was wanting that ever-mysterious “rugby” for the game with an official called a stickman. Once I gave that up, I finally broke through.

But that was after a ton of mistakes up there: “reordered” and “reshelved” for RETROCHIC…” odds even,” “raw beef” “Weed-b-Gone” . . .

@jae again – I laughed at your “grass skirts” mistake. But it could make total sense.

@Trudy Morgan-Cole – I hesitated about FRIARS, too. Must have to do with The Friars Club?

I liked the yoga clue for INHALE. Hi, @Lewis. The time I did yoga, it wasn’t the inhale deal that turned me off; it was the admonishment from the instructor to audibly exhale that embarrassed me. I’m sorry. I’m a silent exhaler. Doing it so other people can hear is really, really uncomfortable for me. No idea why, but it’s that one factor that kept me from going back. Sigh. (But you didn’t hear that; I hit my mute button first.)

Liked RITUAL crossing USUAL.

And I had a brief ridiculous thought that “like some extreme diets” was NO “food.” Yeah – I did that maple syrup-cayenne pepper cleanse once. Dumb. I’ll keep my insides uncleansed, thank you very much.

@Gregory Nuttle – thanks for the heads-up on the Berry puzzle.

@Lindsay Sturm from yesterday – I was thinking along your “twitter handle” line, too, at first.

Of course like @jae, I misspelled HARE BRAINED. Again. And like so many others, I toyed with “birdbrained,” too. There was a big green bird, Mosa, at the hotel where I stayed for my training. I was irresistibly drawn to her whenever I had the chance. She would whistle. I’d whistle back. I felt like we made a real connection. Mentally. I’ve read that some birds can imitate appliances and such, so I kept doing my spot-on imitation of that tube that hangs over your lip while the dentist works in your mouth – you know that thing, right? It keeps everything dry and stuff? To execute the gurgle-some sound well, I have to tilt my head way back, so I was careful to do this when no one was around. I think I got her attention, but she never played along and did the sound back. She probably just wanted me to leave her the hell alone.

Funny that I'm not willing to exhale out loud, but I will stand in front of a bird cage like a lunatic and make gurgling noises with my head tilted back.

And speaking of the velum (yes, I was) - why is there no "g” sound in SLINGER or singer, ringer, and stinger, but it’s there in finger and linger? Inquiring minds want to know. I’ll go sip some ginger tea while I wait for an answer.

Aran Canes 7:29 AM  

This may say more about the difficulty of the puzzles this week than my solving ability, but after reading Rex's blog daily for 7 years this is the first time I've solved Sun-Sat without any help from Google or Rex. Minor accomplishment, to be sure, for those who solve the Saturday puzzle in under ten minutes but, if nothing else, this gives some indication that Will may need to turn up the difficulty level a notch.

mathgent 7:38 AM  

Out here a plaque in front of a restaurant might read "Since 1968," not "Open Since 1968."

Jeff Van Gundy is a former NBA coach. He is now an excellent NBA television commentator.

Besides being too easy, there was something off on this one. The personality of the constructor didn't come through to me.

I suppose that the rhetorical question is "Is the Pope Catholic?" Among themselves, Catholics might substitute "Is the Pope an Argentinian Jesuit?"

The best thing about the puzzle was only 8 three-letter entries. I had only two plusses and six minuses as I went through the clues and entries. No better than a C.

mathgent 7:47 AM  

I just read @Gregory Nuttle (3:04). I agree that the PB crossword in Friday WSJ was excellent. The NW had a couple of nice misdirects. Did you also figure out the meta? I'm drawing a blank.

Glimmerglass 7:51 AM  

Yes, too easy for a Saturday, even though the NW gave me some trouble, too. It's the corner where I always start, and today it was where I finished. The only other snag was writing halvED instead of PEELED (a better answer IMHO).

Passing Shot 8:04 AM  

Must have been easy because this was a record time and a first Saturday with no look-ups. Or maybe, just maybe I'm getting better at this silly pastime. "neAl" before STAN, "tArtare" before RAWMEAT.

Teedmn 8:07 AM  

I ended up with a typical Saturday time of 31:40 today. It started out so easy in the NE but after working clockwise from there, I had this lAmE-BRAINED idea (hi @kitshef) that MCS and HATRED were wrong so I took those out and stared at T--mID for a long time at 30A. TurmID? Finally put MCS back in, guessed at MEAT. Still, having RETRO and ALIEN did not make the second halves of those answers drop in but CHIC ICEAXES got me to the finish.

When considering tiny orbiters, I pondered my experience with deer flies (yes, I checked, it didn't fit at 2D). They are just one more reason I don't spend as much time outside in the summer as I would like to (sunburn, TORRIDity and mosquitoes being others). If I go running without putting a bit of DEET around my head, I will have one, sometimes two, deer flies orbit my head for the entire distance. I used to amuse myself wondering if you could predict where they would be using Schrodinger's equations. (Doing math problems or composing sentences in Swedish are great ways to take one's mind off of the chore I call "running"). I could exclude where my neck was in guessing the position of the flies but otherwise where they would be was up for grabs. Except you can't grab them! Occasionally, if I looked down at my shadow and didn't see the fly's shadow, I would hit myself on the back of the head and sometimes one would fall dead, but usually, just swatting wildly, I couldn't so much as graze one, let alone grab it.

You can tell I had too much time on my hands while working on the NW! Since that section gave me my NEEDED Saturday crunch, I will not complain. Thanks, Andrew Kingsley.

Dorothy Biggs 8:09 AM  

Easy for me too...nearly half my average time.

My experience was similar to Rex but yet different...I saw a three-letter color of a flag and thought RED immediately, but it's Saturday and that was just too easy, so I put off filling it in thinking it had to do with something else...surely not just "RED." Then I got the BLUE part, and just went with RED. Way too easy...especially with BLUE in there too clued so closely together.

I had _A__BRAINED and went with HARE, but held out for the possibility of lAmeBRAINED.

Like @George Barany's SEED/SEMI, for "Roast figures" I had MCS at 18A but wanted emceeS also at 41A. Again, since it's a Saturday, I wondered if there could be two MCS/emceeS or if I was just wrong. I erased emcee...

Also for 62A I wanted "foundedin," and it fits. I actually like it better than OPENSINCE. And right below it for 64A I wanted daytripper...but it doesn't fit, obvs, so no.

All of that to say, it was a tale of two puzzles for me, the right one and the one my brain would have liked.

I didn't care for the clue/answer at 21A "Fix permanently" --> ETCH. Is etching "fixing" something? That's a bit iffy.

Probably the biggest hold up was Carpaccio crossing Time Lords. I know neither. At all. So while I busted through the puzzle, I could have finished much earlier except for that NW corner. ETCH didn't help matters...I kinda wanted "spay" in there.

Otherwise, I didn't think the puzzle was as dicey as Rex seemed to think it was. It was OK.

r.alphbunker 8:12 AM  

Sometimes luck plays a role in solving. I had SPAY for 21A {Fix permanently} ETCH but that didn't help with 22D {Cockamamie} Y_ _ _ BRAINED so I erased it and wrote in HARE with nothing crossing those letters. I feel fortunate that I did not think of LAME or BIRD which would have been hard to get rid of.

Details are here.

Z 8:17 AM  

10 minutes for everything else, 15 minutes for the NW not including the pause for walking the dog.

Lately I've been hearing "Is a bear Catholic?" paired with "Does the Pope shit in the woods?" Don't ask me why, but they seem strangely fitting updates for our times.

@LMS - the G is still there when I say SLINGER but it is a subtly different G than when I say "finger." I blame Obamacare.

Pretty much what's been said. A nice if not especially memorable puzzle. As I flew down the east coast I noticed the triple S sequence in GRASSSTAINS and thought to myself "that feels like cheating."

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

10 down doesn't feel right to me. Contact with grass can turn knees green, but the grass stain is the result, it's not the cause of the green knees.

Elle54 8:23 AM  

At first it felt like Monday, but then the NW got me

Z 8:28 AM  

@QuasiMojo yesterday - This won't take much time to watch.

Tita 8:38 AM  

No luck in the NW...spiraled around pretty quick, filling in hilly-Willy till I got back to the NW. Was positive I'd never 5 through 9 down, even though it was on this second pass that I finally realized what kind of RETRO was needed. Giving up tEn and reluctantly trying SEX made the rest finally fell.

@Aran...congrats! Don't let the releative easiness of these two weekdays diminish the accomplishment for you. Bragging rights are still yours. an ecotourism lodge in the amazon, their resident parrot adopted me. She would sit on my lap, roll over to get belly rubs, but her most endearing trait was her laugh. She would do something adorable to get you to laugh. Then she would laugh. Then you would laugh harder. Then she ... well, you see the pattern. Those of you who know Phil know his barreling laugh. Good thing we were the only people at that lodge for those 3 days! your quantum fly story!

I bet BIOGAS is a debut. I toyed with pItGAS for a bit.

Annette 8:50 AM  

What day is today?

Way easy, wow easy, half-mug of morning coffee easy, quite a let-down after Friday's puzzle.

Cleared2Land 9:01 AM  

A Saturday where the comments here are infinitely more entertaining than the actual, far too easy puzzle.

@zoltan,d.o.p. : Thanks for the laugh. The ukulele and steamroller were the icing on the (exploding) cake.

@teedmn : Same experience here w/ the orbiting deer flies. Any summer jog is bound to be hijacked by those annoying little buggers. And once one or two of them start following you it's game on until they either get all the flesh they came for or they die a sweaty, squashy, blood-smeared death.

@lms : once again, your post was a gem. I'm betting that bird has been practicing the gurgle and is waiting for you to come back, just so she can show off...

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Timely MLK clue. Rex and his acolytes might want to consider that.

Lobster11 9:59 AM  

Easy for a Saturday, but that's okay with me. I need one of these every once in a while to feel smart.

Speaking of puzzles making me feel smart, thanks to @Gregory Nuttle for pointing us to the PB puzzle. Somehow PB puzzles always make me feel smart. I even figured out the contest answer!

I wonder if I'm smart enough now to correctly reprogram my thermostat....

Steve M 10:03 AM  

Birdbrained not harebrained please 😔

GILL I. 10:06 AM  

It's official...I'm no longer a virgin. Less than 30 minutes - on a Saturday date - didn't need any help - wanted a cigarette after I was done. I wish it was TORRID SEX but all I could think of saying was IS THAT ALL? I know IM EASY BUT I want my RETRO CHIC WEEKENDER back.
The only little hang-up I had was with that anchovy eel section. I had SALTY then SPINY and finally got the correct SPRAT from from MLK's HATRED.
I have a Korean friend who eats Kimchi every single day. When she comes to visit me I have to leave all the windows open because it smells like BIO GAS. She knows it stinks but she doesn't care and makes incredibly funny jokes about it - usually in a restaurant and usually very loudly. You need to BRINE it with Napa Cabbage...the same thing that gives you cow manure.
@NCA...ETCH in stone? permanent...!

Nancy 10:13 AM  

In most places, I couldn't write fast enough, so agree that this was ridiculously easy for a Friday. But I had a hard time in the middle of the north. I had RETROwhat?; ALIENwhat?; WEED EdgER and SmelT in that section. Worse, the G from EDGER gave me REGRET rather than HATRED at 7D. (Well that's something that MLK certainly could have said, isn't it?) And REGRET gave me TORI instead of DEMI at 27A, since no one's ever said that I know my celebrity couples. Neither their affairs, nor their marriages, nor their divorces -- acrimonious or otherwise -- am I remotely familiar with. Anyway, I spent more time in this one tiny little section than in all the others combined. But it did provide some "crunchiness" for me, whereas most of y'all, I gather, had none. I thought it was less breezy and colorful than yesterday's puzzle, but for me, it was also harder -- at least in part.

Andrew Goodridge 10:17 AM  

*Sigh* ... every time I finish a Saturday without Google, I immediately come here and see OFL and the commenters noting how abnormally easy and un-Saturday the puzzle was. I feel like Joey on the episode of "Friends" where he reads the V volume of an encyclopedia so he can sound smart in front of his friends, but eventually realizes he has no business in an intelligent conversation. Oh well. Happy Saturday to all!

Mohair Sam 10:25 AM  

So our first entry was BLUE which quickly led to LATHE and USUAL. And so we zipped around this easy-for-most-of-you Saturday clockwise in what seemed like seconds. This led us rapidly to RedMEAT, ELECTRON, TIESCORE, and RED. She guessed SEX, I guessed HATRED (close your Freud, wise-ass). And we were cooked. You see, dEED something or other makes perfect sense for a "border controller"(16A). Man, we wasted a ton of time. Finally RETR had to be RETRO and ONES made total sense and we finished. Phew.

Well-timed clue from Dr. King, and a great one - but few will listen. Like many NBA fans here I held up on STAN until I tested the crosses. Cleaned up at the track on a big bet on horse named TORpiD many decades back, ever since I've mixed the word up with TORRID because he was so damned fast - although "torpid" means just about the opposite. Your odds against the house are better at CRAPS than roulette, but your chances of meeting a James Bond at the CRAPS table are much lower so relatively few play.

Think we liked this more than most because it played tougher for us at the very end.

evil doug 10:27 AM  

I thought Georges might be going for some Frenchie, like Seurat. Maybe a Notal King....

Michael: "WEED-EATER(?)" Don't they still make WeedEaters - - those trimmers that use fishing line fed from a spool?

"Control the border..." Just read that 2/3 of applicants who take a lie detector test as part of applying with Customs and Border Protection - - including a career Marine pilot with a top-secret clearance who flew Bush, Cheney and Biden around - - fail it....

jberg 10:33 AM  

I feel all TOATEE after solving this puzzle; I mean, I'm just AROAR with enthusiasm. I think I'll go for a SLED RIDE to celebrate.

Seriously, though -- is a TOATEE what you get when you train the hair on your foot into a beard-like shape?

I agree that this one was pretty easy -- but two factors did slow me down. First, answers such as those above, which aren't really things. (Well, AROAR is something, just trite -- but did you ever go for a SLED RIDE? I don't think so.) Or RARE FIND, as clued. "What did you just dig up?" "I think it's a FIND, and a rare one at that!"

Second, ridiculously vague clues, such as Shh!, or the one for OPEN SINCE - could just as easily be here SINCE, or many other things.

So I didn't think much of this one. But it was educational; I learned that the plural of BAHT is BAHT, and that EOS had kids.

@Loren, there is a G-sound in 'singer' -- that's how you can tell I'm not saying 'sinner' -- it's just different from the one in 'finger.' Same sound as prong. German has them all like that -- no hard G after an N.

Actually, I guess it's hard, you just don't vocalize at the end, or something.

RooMonster 10:40 AM  

Hey All !
Seemed easier than YesterPuz. Two writeovers, abo-KIN (anybody else fall into that one?) and RedMEAT-RAWMEAT.

Not sure who BARR is. Anyone?
Clue for SEX is odd. I can see whee it's coming from, X as in XXX, ratings for "adult" movies.

Wasn't Rex fast, but pretty quick for a Saturday. Wasn't SAD AT this puz. THE POPE is popular lately.

What bading men have?

Malsdemare 10:49 AM  

I agree with almost everyone. But sadly, I DNFd at lOCARB (for some reason, no idea what, MAl didn't seem like a bad substitute for "wow") so technically I'm a failure. I battled that whole RETROCHIC / WEEDEATER / ALIENRACE section and once I got it, figured I'd fought the puzzle and won. Schade! @George Barony, after the election, I dug out all my political buttons and hung them on a ribbon in my office as a tribute to how far we've come and what we have to lose. The first one is a dime-sized black button with a white equal symbol on it. I may have to RETROfit it to hang on a chain.

Lots of great comments today, which takes the sting out of the a too-easy puzzle on an icy morning.

QuasiMojo 10:53 AM  

I wonder how people in Europe during one of those annoying Roman numeral Medieval years we see so often in the NYT puzzle would have reacted to "Is the Pope Catholic?"

Like @George Barany, I had "seed" before "semi." Which seems physically impossible in an "X factor"-obsessed world.

So we ended up with "semi" and "Demi" but where was "hemi"? I quaver to think about it.

Something that is "back in" is "retro." "Retro Chic" is a fashion term for a style in general.

Mr. Kinglsey's royal effort was efficient but ultimately a bit too facile for a Saturday. And I agree "open since" is pushing it. Most signs say "Est. in..." or just "Est."

I also wonder if the expression "hare-brained" has something to do with the little creature (although some of them are quite large) being "brained" as in whacked on the head before being fitted into one of those awful-sounding "jugged hare" concoctions we had in a recent puzzle.

RooMonster 10:56 AM  

Oh, and all of @Loren's G examples have the same sound tome. Finger, singer, slinger, flinger, bringer. All grrs at the end, no? Signer, silent G.


Nancy 11:03 AM  

Right on, @Cleared2Land (9:01) -- the comments today are much better than the puzzle. The comments today are really interesting.

@Larry G (4:11 a.m.) -- What a wonderful, sensitive post. I betcha lots of women here went to look up your blog profile. I did, but was informed that "the search ends here" or some such, because I'm not on Google + (or on any other social platform, for that matter). Quelle disappointment.

@I am not a robot (4:37 a.m.) -- When I finish here, I'm off to look up "The Rabbit of Seville." Never heard of it and am quite curious.

@Teedmn (8:07) -- Loved your deer flies story and you're entire description of the "chore" of running. Once again, I am made aware of the real advantages of not being in the wilderness. But then I read @Tita's enchanting resident parrot story (8:38) and realize there are some absolutely wonderful experiences that cannot be duplicated in the Big City.

@lms (6:36)-- Re your yoga exhaling story. For me it's not embarrassment -- it's function. Breathing is one of those things no one should ever have to think about. Breathing is one of those things that should come naturally. Every time someone asks me to "focus on my breathing", I get short of breath. Every single time.

Nancy 11:06 AM  

Your entire description. Sorry. There was horrendous noise right above me -- on a Saturday, yet!!!!!!!!! -- and I got completely spooked.

Greg 11:08 AM  

@mathgent Yes, I did eventually figure out the meta and that is the part that makes it so brilliant. It was a really good, solid puzzle anyway, but the contest solution makes is unbelievable. I won't reveal or clue it since the deadline isn't until tomorrow, but I promise it's worth sticking with it.

Norm 11:10 AM  

Another easy puzzle, but my feelings about yesterday's and today's are the opposite of Rex's, since the "modern" stuff he adores is crap that I loathe.

AliasZ 11:14 AM  

-- Was RETRO CHIC going to be @Rex's favorite answer? Is THE POPE Catholic?
-- If "coffee" is the person upon whom one coughs, then TOATEE must be the one toted.
-- TIE SCORE is the number of ties they find in a dead man's closet. Mine will be 28.
-- "Jack SPRAT could eat no carpaccio" -- from "Decameron" (Boccaccio).
-- RIDE next to DERBY, and DERBY crossing BERET: neato! But then, I'M EASY.
-- BAHT is coined by someone who doesn't know how to spell BATH, let alone take one.
-- CRAPS is the solid manifestation of BIOGAS.
-- GRASS STAINS can be easily replicated by green paint.

Here is my USUAL RITUAL, this time the "RITUAL Fire Dance" from the ballet "El amor brujo" by Manuel de Falla.

Enjoy your weekend.

old timer 11:21 AM  

Was this an Easy puzzle for a Saturday? Is a bear Catholic?

That said, I promptly started to put in "reelected" in 1-Across, then thought better of it thinking that Georges must be ONES. Which is silly, You hear Abes sometimes or Benjamins, Never Georges.

Still, I pretty much raced around the puzzle, with one snag in the SE (had "fool" before SNOW). Nice to see our old friend TOATEE again. Favorite clue: "Game with an official called a stickman." If you have played CRAPS in a casino, you've seen him. Probably the toughest job in any casino, too, running the CRAPS table. I always bet with the house, unless it is my turn to throw the dice.

Joseph Michael 11:24 AM  

DEMI Moore opened the door to this puzzle for me. From then on, it was a relatively quick solve until I worked my way back to the stubborn NW which took a little longer due to that Jackless SPRAT crossing that warrant abbrev.

The puzzle even says I'M EASY so no further discussion of its difficulty level is NEEDED.

Liked the fact that I could finish both a Friday and a Saturday this week without a single Google and enjoyed fill like WEEKENDER, BROMANCE, GRASS STAINS, and RETRO CHIC.

BHAT I did wonder what the question was when I saw the denial NOT AL KING in the grid. Then realized it wasn't a reference to the comedian Alan.

Thanks, Andrew, for a fun puzzle.

Andrew Heinegg 11:28 AM  

For me, this was almost exactly what Rex said with the exception of the NW, as others have noted. I made the mistake of filling in ten for 23a and that made the time for finishing that section longer than the rest of the puzzle put together.
But, I got through it after realizing that there was no game called crapt.

You get a sense of puzzle anxiety when you whip through most of a puzzle and come to one corner that you fear will give you the dreaded dnf. If it was a challenging puzzle, it is not that you would feel okay about dnfing but, you wouldn't feel as bad as you do when you dnf after mumbling to yourself all the way through the solve that it is not an interesting puzzle or it is too easy. Of course, you do have to keep in mind that it is not the composer of the puzzle's 'fault' that the puzzle was too easy for the day of the week it ran. I do like electron, ice axes, raw meat and grass stains but, I didn't think those were enough to save open since (never seen those words together; I have seen 'established 1987' or 'serving you since 1987' but not the puzzle phrase), sled ride, aroar (please retire this).

I cannot help but wonder what the atmosphere is like when Will Shortz and Mr. Sharp are in the same place at the same time. Coldly professional courtesy, outright hostility or something else?

Andrew Heinegg 11:36 AM  

Barr is Roseanne Barr of TV sitcoms. And, your misspell of (balding) in your little pun just might make the pun a little funnier.

Crane Poole 11:47 AM  

Even I halved my time - still nothing to write home about. Struggled in the northwest like many of you. SEMI again, in fact SEMI & DEMI. Appreciate the legitimacy of SADAT and SPRAT over two-word fills (second word AT). What are the odds on a POPE three-peat?

Slow Motion 11:49 AM  

I'm with the crowd who thought this ridiculously easy, but still nice, like a tough Wednesday. I liked it. But today's 6x6 KenKen is tough!

I had a minor roll-my-eyes moment with "tiny orbiter." Electrons don't orbit, as far as we will ever know. They're just -- somewhere. Oh, quantum theory.

@LMS, re: missing-g-sound words (like slinger and ringer) vs hard-g words (finger and linger): My first thought was, because English. But there is a pattern. All the missing-g-sound words are 'one who' does something. Slinger: one who slings. Ringer: one who rings. Singer: one who sings. But the hard-g words are their own words. A finger is not one who fings, and linger is not one who lings. I don't know if that explains anything, but it works as a nice pattern.

I have one for you. As a teacher, some days you just have to wing it. When someone asks what you did yesterday, what do you say? "I winged it"? "I wung it"? "I wang it"? As someone who wang it frequently, I'm curious what the grammarians did.

Stanley Hudson 11:49 AM  

Hand up with "spay" for 21A "Fix permanently." That mistake, combined with lameBRAINED instead of HAREBRAINED, lent an air of BIO GAS to my solving experience.


Fountains of Golden Fluids 11:50 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Lewis 11:58 AM  

@zoltan -- Bravo! Great post!
@lms -- Well, try exhaling out loud at least in the shower. It actually feels good!

So, yes. Maybe too many footholds for a Saturday. Probably a better Friday, but that's not on Andrew. Still enough resistance to make my brain feel like its tummy was being rubbed. I did like the answers TORRID and IMEASY, and would have liked some more clever Saturday wordplay cluing. Nonetheless, there were some fun things to catch. The mini theme of double E's (7). The HEMI and DEMI, which brings to mind the glorious HEMIDEISEMIQUAVER (a 64th note). The appropriate cross of RITUAL and USUAL.

And finally the magnificent cross of THEPOPE and BERET. I am still having a gleeful time picturing that!!!

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Apparently the clue for etch was taken from a thesaurus: To produce a deep impression of:
engrave, etch, grave, impress, imprint, inscribe, stamp.
It is hard to find "etch" in the usual dictionary definitions of "fix". I also had 'spay' as my first entry to that clue.

I took "X" as being like a sex chromosome, as in "X and Y" so don't think it has anything to do with XXX.

The sounds you hear in finger are the "ng" (look up on phonetic chart for correct symbol) followed by a "g". In slinger, the "ng" sound is not followed by a "g". From a phonetic standpoint, you would not say that the "ng" contains a "g" sound. It is a completely different phoneme.

Robso 12:07 PM  

DNF, as I threw down TEN for "X factor" and was sure it had to be right. Am I wrong to think that would be a good answer for that clue?

I am not a robot 12:26 PM  

Thinking about the puzzle again and "sprat" crossed my mind (Jack, etc.). So in the nursery rhyme, Jack is lean and his wife is fat," (my mind wandered, I banged my shoulder into the door frame), "and herring and eel are skinny little fish so did the English refer to skinny people as sprats?"

Onward to google, etymology of sprat: small European herring, 1590s, variant of sprot (c. 1300), from Old English sprott "a small herring," according to Klein related to Dutch sprot and probably connected to sprout.

Then, was there any history behind the Jack Sprat rhyme? Here's one version:

"The Jack Sprat alluded to in this English poem is reputed to be King Charles I (1625-1649) and Henrietta Maria, his Queen (1609-1669). Apparently, when King Charles (Jack Sprat) declared war on Spain, parliament refused to finance him (leaving him lean!) So his wife imposed an illegal war tax (to get some fat!) after the angered King (Jack Sprat) dissolved Parliament."

There are others (too lazy to type html code):

Hope you enjoyed the opera @Nancy!

Kath320 12:32 PM  

"Unpeeled" like bananas in banana splits. Also like bananas in EVERY other conceivable recipe, amirite?

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Anchovy or sand eel...SPRAT?? No, no, no. A sprat is a fish in the Family Clupeidae. Anchovies are in the Family Engraulidae, and sand eels are in the Family Ammodytidae. Niether is a sprat. This was the last word to fall for me in the puzzle; I had S_RAT and kept thinking this can't be SPRAT. Oh, shit, it's SPRAT after all. Wikipedia should not the the ultimate go-to source for your clues, constructors, particularly science- or taxonomy-based clues.

Masked and Anonymous 12:43 PM  

yep. Musta been an eazy-E SatPuz. Even tho M&A had to infiltrate the NW corner from below, it all worked itself out in a nanosecond count that woulda probably made a Time Lord sing "Lawdy Miss Clawdy!" Assumin I know what a Time Lord is, that is. One of those time travel dudes from Doctor Who that look overdressed, right? Either that, or the editors at Time magazine, I reckon.

SatPuz is usually kinda cool, on account of its purity. No theme. No tricks. Just U against the words of the universe and some really feisty clues. U need yerself a big wheelhouse, tho. Time Lords and Carpa-CIOs, man. The knowledge need is all over the map. Plus U sorta have to think like these constructioneers and Shortzmeisters. Run into a lotta word-twistin weasels, on a SatPuz trip.

Limited weeject action, on most SatPuzs. Gotta take what U can get. Today we got SEX, tho. Sooo … ok.

Wanted SLED RACE at first. Got all the Haitian flag colors quick, tho. Really admired the ELECTRON entry, for some M&A-strange reason. Sounds like an election influenced by the Time Lords, or somesuch. Learned somethin, on SPRAT. Seemed like a lotta clues repeated themselves, or M&A just got disoriented while wanderin around the grid at a trans-Time Lord pace. har

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Kingsley.

Masked & AnonymoUUs
"U-Lord of the Universe"


puzzle hoarder 1:26 PM  

Super easy Saturday. My 23:50 as USUAL makes me one of the slow boats. I wasted some time trying to get RE-ELECTED to work. The NE was where I started. CHIP was my guess for 10A. 11D could be HAZING. That Z did nothing for 17A. Still thinking CHIP I started writing with PEELED and INHALE. This gave me LATHE. BLUE was obvious and everything started to fall in place. I didn't bother looking north of DEMI because going clockwise through the SE was so easy. I stalled after DERBY and BERET and wasted some time looking north and south. I went back to DEMI and got HATRED instantly and ICEAXES with a little reflection. The NW fell right into place. Even with HAREBRAINED I had to read all the clues to get the SW. To really put the easiness of this puzzle in perspective I average about 10 minutes on a Monday.
@lms I loved your bird story. We know a couple who had to give their pet bird away after their son was born. It became jealous and learned how to imitate the smoke alarm, perfectly.
I think the constructors conveniently conflating the terms ODOREATER and WEEDWHACKER puts the WEEDEATER entry in the same category as OPENSINCE. They fit with everything else but don't quite ring true.

Churlish Nabob 1:32 PM  

@Anonymous 12:33, that's useful and interesting info, said no one ever.

Carola 1:36 PM  

Like yesterday's puzzle, this one hit the Goldilocks "just right" sweet spot for me, offering some nice nuggets of resistance without any jolts of despair. I liked the science column of ELECTRONS over AMPERE and the Ashton echo from yesterday. Do-over: slicED bananas. Toyed with sythES before ICEAXES.

Re: the yoga class directive: a few years ago I was reprimanded in front of everybody by the instructor for violating an apparent NO-TALKING rule in the few minutes before class even started. MAN, did that make me mad! All the INHALing in the world couldn't calm me down.

gifcan 2:19 PM  

Searched for a starting place. Got a GRIP in the NE and then solved clockwise. Pretty smooth until the NW where I struggled.

Bird BRAINED, then lame BRAINED, finally HARE BRAINED.

I like great puzzles. I like mundane puzzles. I like most puzzles. This was a good puzzle.

I always look forward to comments on this site. I particularly like @lms, a budding linguist who blossomed beautifully.

gifcan 2:19 PM  

Searched for a starting place. Got a GRIP in the NE and then solved clockwise. Pretty smooth until the NW where I struggled.

Bird BRAINED, then lame BRAINED, finally HARE BRAINED.

I like great puzzles. I like mundane puzzles. I like most puzzles. This was a good puzzle.

I always look forward to comments on this site. I particularly like @lms, a budding linguist who blossomed beautifully.

GHarris 2:41 PM  

I, too, was thrown by Georges thinking of a French painter. I put in Ines. Turns out I was thinking of George Inness, an American. When I got retrochic I had the o and ones though I still didn't connect the answer with dollars, thinking It was still an artist. So I had s-rat but couldn't come up with sprat without resort to Google. Should have gotten the p from craps but just didn't see it. My bad. Otherwise I agree, a relatively easy Saturday.

RooMonster 2:50 PM  

@Andrew Helnegg 11:36
Thanks for that! 1) Was thinking of a male BARR. (Shame on me for being SEXist.) 2) I USUALly don't proofread my posts, and end up with many typos. Bading indeed...

@Anony 12:00
Ha! I'm sure that's what was meant by the clue. Shows ya where my ole brain goes first.

Random Nonsense for ya -
What the knot is? TIES CORE
Mr. Pauls campaign slogan? ELECT RON
Certain Womans club headwear? HAT RED
Words starting with the 16th letter? PEE LED
Australian asking for a guitar accessory? AMP ERE


Tom 3:01 PM  

Yay! My second Saturday ever! OF course the self congratulations faded a bit with finding out (as I suspected), it was the easiest Saturday ever, but I don't care. I'm not looking this particular gift horse in the mouth.

Z 4:25 PM  

@AndrewGoodridge and @Tom - If you don't typically finish a Saturday puzzle than "medium" is a DNF and any finish will be, by definition, an "easy" puzzle. That is how this scale works. Have no fear, though, the day will come when you finish and you come here to find a "medium" rating and then even a "challenging" rating. Even amongst the commentariat there is a wide range of normal.

@Carola - I hope you never went back. I don't mind the "no talking" rule, I would mind the public chastisement. That's not very yogic.

@Anon12:33 - How about the Oxford English Dictionary? I think you will be a lot happier with crossword clues if you reverse your mental construction: Don't look for only scientific or taxonomic uses in crossword clues and answers. Crossword clues often stretch the language (until, of course, you assume the clue is stretching the language and it really wants a narrow taxonomic answer).

@Anon12:00 - Check out definition 5. That is the usage being referenced in the ETCH clue, I believe.

OISK 4:25 PM  

Smooth week for me. I had trouble with "Georges" as well - good clue. This was easy for a Saturday, but very pleasant, with no reliance on acronyms ( op-cit is pretty fair, I think) hip-hop slang, and the other entries I have too often complained about. It is just a good, old-fashioned crossword puzzle. Perfect. Retrochic, in fact!

Carola 5:22 PM  

@Z - Never. That was it for me. And I agree - it wasn't the rule itself, it was the (unnecessary) public mortification.

Malsdemare 5:29 PM  

So based on strong recommendations, I did the WSJ PB puzzle AND I DON'T GET IT!!! Could someone either give me a hint or pm me? I ma always so clueless when things get obscure.

GILL I. 5:47 PM  

While you smarty pants are at it...can you clue me in as well?
Here I thought I was the cats MEOW today...

Lewis 6:03 PM  

@aliasz -- Great post! Had me laughing.

Nancy 6:17 PM  

Re: Tomorrow's (Sunday) puzzle -- Don't worry, no spoilers: Although I always get the Sunday puzzle on Saturday, via NYT Home Delivery, I always save it for the next day. After all, why should I eat all my cake today (Sat and Sun puzzles) and have nothing to look forward to tomorrow? But then the snow started to fall, circa 2:30 p.m., and there was the Times Magazine on the floor next to me, and I thought, well, I'll just take a teensy look, and then maybe do a tiny portion of the puzzle, and what do you know? I couldn't put it down. I found it very entertaining and pleasurable -- in a way that those of you who know me will understand. Have fun tomorrow, everyone. I think you will. I'll discuss this more on Sunday.

jae 8:42 PM  

@Nancy - you know, if you had read my comment from late yesterday you might have gotten DEMI...or maybe not?

Nancy 9:45 PM  

@jae -- Not. I went back and re-read your comment, and I know why it didn't register. It's because I have no idea who Ashton is. I do know who DEMI is, but I don't know anything about her love life. I used to be much better at this sort of thing -- I assiduously followed Liz and Mike, Debbie and Eddie, Liz and Eddie, Liz and Richard back in the day. But now I really don't care. Which reminds me: I watched Nicole Kidman on Times Talks yesterday promoting her new movie. She seems like a terrific person. Is she the one who used to be married to Tom Cruise, poor thing? Or am I confusing her with someone else?

Leapfinger 10:56 PM  


I thought it was RETROCHee, so I tried to [easier to do than re-dactyl, anyway]:

Prithee, why so pale, fond solver?
Prithee, why so pale?
Will, when solving fast don't happen,
Solving slow prevail?
Well, I gesso...

Seems I misanticipated the linguistic topic du jour would involve the STANK and STUNK AXES. Can't always swing that harbinger thing, nor the harbringer, geez...

EXtra bonus in the comments, with such A-rated reading among the general BIOGAS.

Point of interest: there's a Tioga in New York State, and another smaller Tioga in North Dakota. So two Tiogas at least, with likely untapped potential South of the border.

Had one comment evanesce; this is what I remember.

Andrew K, hope to REFIND you soon.

jae 11:05 PM  

Hi @Nancy - A ha, that explains it! and yes, Nicole was married to Tom who went on to marry Katie Holmes. She and their daughter Suri show up in crosswords from time to time. Her ex ASHTON is currently married to Mila Kunis who also inhabits crosswords on occasion. And that's probably much more than you really wanted to know : ) .

connie 12:19 AM  

So here I am on the west coast in syndiland, but wanted to respond to one of the above comments about great anagrams. Here is one of the best:

"To be or not to be: that is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

Anagram: "In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten."

I have more, if anyone is interested. Hopefully LMS and Acme will see this since they really get it!

Burma Shave 11:02 AM  


ONE'S good for a RIDE in bed,the other an AMPERE or two.


BS2 11:38 AM  


we INHALE RAWMEAT and PEELED SPRATs as victuals.
But GEENA said, "NOTALKING, IMEASY and neater."
So with TORRID SEX as NEEDED, we decided WEEDEATER.


rondo 12:21 PM  

I NEEDED just over 20 minutes to finish this, which is much faster than USUAL for a Sat-puz, for me. Solved clockwise from the GRASSSTAINS in the NE and have to admit knowing STAN Van Gundy and the crossing hats (sounds like a band name?) saved it down there. And of course, ultra yeah baby GEENA Davis.

As long as we got THEPOPE, it's too bad we couldn't work in something about a bear.

In the mid north there's SEX on top of yeah baby DEMI crossing a MAN. SAD AT not being in on it. IMEASY.

No SLED RIDE today. +/- 60 degrees is melting the SNOW. I'm going to get things done outdoors, but I probably won't fire up the WEEDEATER.

spacecraft 12:44 PM  

I had almost exactly the same solving experience as @anon 1:18 above. Got a good GRIP in the NE, and the entire east was filled in short order. The SW resisted a bit, but once I reasoned out BIOGAS that corner said "IMEASY."

Then (again! Why does this happen so often with me?) came the NW. As I look out my window right now I see a chilly rain: NW weather! Remind me never to move there. None of the fill that I'd seen so far--unlike OFL--was objectionable, until AROAR. That's one of those words that elicit a groan from me. Yeah, it's a real word, but nobody talks like that. At first I thought 1-down must be RedMEAT--but then what would a 3-letter color be if not RED? "Back in" must be RETRACE...something?? The Georges thing threw me. The border control was DEED...something. No wait--DEEP WATER! But what color ends in P? The key that unlocked everything was suddenly seeing ALIENRACE (duh!). Got it all straightened out, but oh! those NWs!

So, easy except for you-know-where: overall easy-medium. Very clean fill save AROAR, and the fact that a truly NOCARB diet cannot sustain life--even if it were possible. I myself am on a low-carb diet, and have lost 30 pounds so far. Carbs = fuel. No fuel: the car (body) dies.

DOD competition today is TORRID! Whom to choose between the sizzling DEMI and GEENA, surely the comeliest archer ever, whose arrow hit me square in the heart when I first saw her? Yet note the word just atop (!) DEMI. Ach! What to do? well, they've awarded duplicate Oscars for a TIESCORE; why not this? Congrats, ladies, you both win.

I like "the two REDs, with and without a HAT:" har! Birdie.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Very easy sections, and then the pisser infestation. Couldn't make sense of some of them, even with the answers, and never heard of some others.


5wksltr 2:39 PM  

When I was a child, all the kids on the block would go to the store Saturday morning to get ice cream cones. My favorite flavor was chocolate. My sister's was peach. Every week one of our friends, Foofer, would jam his ice cream in his mouth in a race to see how fast he could eat it. We laughed and laughed.

rain forest 2:46 PM  

Well, I had written a wonderful, humourous and insightful comment but apparently I did something wrong in trying to post, and it disappeared. So, the wonder, humour and insight has evaporated. You can't recapture those magical moments, and thus:

At first seemingly difficult, once I got a GRIP, this puzzle just sort of laid down for me, like I wish GEENA would. Going clockwise from top right, I just wrote in the answers. Smooth and competent puzzle, with only AROAR causing a wince.

Yes, easy, but very enjoyable.

Diana,LIW 3:17 PM  

I wouldn't say easy, but doable. And I had done it. All of it. Except for one letter. You probably know which one. Hint - I guessed based on a famous rhyme about a slender man and his curvaceous wife.

Imagine my joy when I came here and saw that Jack SPRAT had truly saved the day. Yes!

Imagine my desolation when I saw the X factor was not an arithmetical "set," but the SEX factor. No! Nae! Nyet!

Other than that, all I can say is too bad Roseanne didn't become president. Hey - she tells it like it is, and is a domestic engineer to boot. "Mother of the wind gods," that would be AROAR.!

Peace, out.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 3:25 PM  

Working from the bottom up, thought this was fairly easy for a Saturday. Finally, the NW.

RETROCHIC, unfamiliar to me, was put out of reach by clever, elusive clue "Back in". And SPRAT was a total unknown. The oddly termed "official...stickman" (especially the "official" part) for CRAPS iced the dnf.

End of story.

Longbeachlee 4:02 PM  

Count me in the staring at the NW lamebrained crowd

BS3 9:24 PM  


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