Noted Civil War signature / SAT 3-4-17 / Longtime Cotton Bowl home informally / Website offering mentally stimulating diversions / Manuel German soccer star called sweeper keeper / Mercer originator of palindrome

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Manuel NEUER (57A: Manuel ___, German soccer star called a "sweeper-keeper") —
Manuel Peter Neuer (German pronunciation: [ˈmaːnu̯ɛl ˈnɔʏ.ɐ]; born 27 March 1986) is a German professional footballer who plays for Bayern Munich and the Germany national team. He is a goalkeeper and serves as vice-captain for Bayern Munich and captain of Germany. Neuer has been described as a "sweeper-keeper" because of his unique playing style and speed when rushing off his line to anticipate opponents; he is also known for his quick reflexes, excellent shot-stopping abilities, strength, long throwing range, command of his area and accurate control and distribution of the ball. [...] In 2014, Neuer finished third in the voting, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award. The same year, he was ranked the third-best player in the world by The Guardian. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hello. I am back from a brief but terrible (or terrible but brief) illness. I hear I missed two good puzzles. My bad luck apparently knows no bounds. Well, at least I got a pretty good puzzle to return to. There were some clunkers in the short fill (which caused me to reverse-TEHEE), but the six 15s more than held their own, and kept this thing more good than POOR. It was a weird solve, in that it put up no resistance *except* in the proper nouns, many of which were just outer space-ian to me. I refuse to watch any "Orange is the New Black" because any time a show has that much hype, I just dig in and refuse. Re, Fuse. Sadly (for me), crossword constructors have decided that every cast member (it seems) should appear in crosswords, even people with non-grid-friendly names like TAYLOR SCHILLING, whoever that is (3D: Actress on "Orange Is the New Black"). The German soccer star (57A: Manuel ___, German soccer star called a "sweeper-keeper") reeks of bought word list. Even the clue (straight outta wikipedia) suggests that constructor and editor didn't even really know who he was. I know a *little* about football, and I sure never heard of him (despite watching Germany in international competition several times). He's clearly football-famous, but it's hard to call NEUER good fill. And then VOS!? Yipes. I have a wonderful colleague with that last name. As the middle part of an Eliot poetry volume, though—not good (8D: "Ara ___ Prec" (T.S. Eliot poetry volume)). And what in the world is a LEIGH Mercer? I like my LEIGHs to come in Brackett and only Brackett form. Since when are palindrome creators crossworthy? (25D: ___ Mercer, originator of the palindrome "A man, a plan, a canal—Panama!") Blargh. So I tripped over allllll of those names ... and yet finished in a sub-Friday time. (Not surprising, really—so much short stuff makes getting toeholds very easy)

Started with the gimmes PIAF and YUL, and it was pretty easy to get going from there. Once the "L" from RELEE (ugh) gave me the LISTENING in "ANYONE LISTENING?," I got BIG D (13D: Longtime Cotton Bowl home, informally) and the whole NE corner, then slammed TRIPLE WORD SCORE down the east side (11D: Red square). After working the SW, I threw SHIRLEY CHISHOLM across the grid with an appreciative whoop (53A: First black woman elected to Congress, 1968). Nice answer. I grew up in California and went to Yosemite a few times and always thought it was in the Sierra Nevadas (39A: Yosemite's range). Had SIERRA and wanted WEST (or EAST?). How did "HIGH SIERRA" not get a Bogart movie clue?? The more I look at this grid, the more I'm noticing gunk in the nooks and crannies, so I'll just stop looking and say, I mostly enjoyed it.

Many, many thanks to Laura Librarian for filling in for me these past two days.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Peter Gordon is offering a new season (2017-18) of Fireball Newsflash Crosswords—20 very up-to-date puzzles with (very) current events-heavy fill. Get in on the action here (in the next two days!)

P.P.S. Harvard's radio station (WHRB 95.3) interviewed me several months ago re: crosswords as part of a larger segment on the NYT crossword's 75th anniversary. Here it hear. Just kidding, hear it here.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian 12:15 AM  

This was a nice one. No sections hung me up too much - it was one of those steady, chipping-away puzzles from start to finish.

As for NEUER, including any current soccer player beyond MESSI (which we got on Thursday) or maybe Cristiano Ronaldo is probably asking too much from an American audience, but Neuer is definitely on the next tier in terms of notability. He's been pretty universally considered the best goalkeeper in the world for the past few years and was one of the best on the World Cup-winning German team in 2014. Again, though, steering clear of the subject area completely is probably smart.

Unknown 12:23 AM  

@Mary Lou Guizzo's puzzle today marks the Shortz-era debut of SPORCLE, an addictive website that my daughter called to my attention five or more years ago. NEUER is a legitimate German word, but to clue it for a soccer player, hmmmm ... and in this regard, I would like to publicly apologize to my good friend @John Child for having ever doubted the crossword suitability of Lionel MESSI (see @Brian's comment above). It was good to be reminded of SHIRLEY_CHISOLM, whose name I filled in with zero crossings having tracked her pioneering political career in real time, nearly half a century ago (she later ran for President).

travis 12:27 AM  

NEUER was one my gimmes and I don't even follow the Bundesliga except for Dortmund/Pulisic. For all the random obscure names that appear in the puzzle, just let me have this.

Charles Flaster 12:35 AM  

Very easy for a Saturday as SHIRLEY CHISHOLM was my first long entry and the rest was pretty easy. Fortunately I was a resident of NYC when she was elected. ISLIP fell into place and I suspect that might present a Natick for some. Guessed at NEUER crossing SCUT.
They will both appear many times before NEUER.
My over writes were ILSA for rick and IN LUCK for IN LUxe.
Liked cluing for AWOL, PHI, and ART I.
Thanks MLG.

jae 12:35 AM  

Easy for me too. NEUER was a WOE but the only problem with the rest was figuring out the spellings of CHISHOLM and SCHILLING (I do watch Orange). Fun solve, quite zippy, liked it a lot!

Anonymous 1:55 AM  

Proper names were a bore but not a bad puzzle overall. I got a kick out of seeing sporcle in the grid. That is a great site and a fun way to entertain oneself. I especially like clicking on a blank map of the united states to find a particular state. It is a fun challenge! I do remember Shirley Chisholm and though I did not know a lot of the other proper names, I finished quickly through the crosses and a few educated guesses.

Dolgo 2:35 AM  

Except for the Neuer/scut cross, today's puzzle was, for me, anyway, even less interesting or challenging than yesterday's. Obscure puns, almost not worthy of the name, seemed calculated only to mislead rather than reward you with that forehead slap that often makes NYT puzzles fun to do. I know some of you get teed off at "high" culture references, but can't we mix opera and poetry in with rap music and sports references? It only seems fair to let us culture vultures in on the game!

Moly Shu 2:41 AM  

I have a few CAVILS to pick with this puzzle. Namely GINUP, NEUER, and TAYLORneverheardofher. Much consternation, those 3

Punctuated equilibrium 6:06 AM  

Never heard of Sporcle before, but have now spent several minutes on it taking quizzes ('name the rodent' being one category, whew!). Can't say that I loved this puzzle with all the weird short fill...ARTI? EPI? OCHS? VOS? Ugh. Is TEHEE even a word?

Loren Muse Smith 6:21 AM  

I think I entered the grid with RINKS/HACK. And then – just cricket sounds. I think next was ARNO. And then more crickets. So I gave the 15's a glance and whooped at 53A. What a gal. But it didn’t fit because I didn’t know that her last name had an H in it. @jae, my misspelling buddy, did you have trouble there, too? I figured there was some middle name initial I didn’t know.

Anyway, to steal from @Bill Feeney again, this was another no toe hold, okay one toe… HOLD ON! I can finish this!

The only constructing I can do now is collaborating with much better people and basically carry their luggage. If I ever extricate myself from the train wreck that is public education, I’ll have more time. And I’ll buy whatever word list I can. And maybe then I’ll understand the disdain for buying word lists. Is it considered a form of cheating? Like some Michelin-starred constructor selling his secret recipes? Maybe. Was ANYONE LISTENING on Chen’s word list? Then I’m definitely going to buy it, too, and take my licks if I ever get a puzzle accepted. (I’m sitting on two current, in-the-language phrases that have never appeared in a NYT grid. Constructors – for the right price, they’re yours. ANYONE LISTENING? Just kidding. Email me, and I’ll just give’em to you.)

HEAPED – O stone be not so!

REPS, THE PLOT THICKENS – No devil lived on. До свидания

NEUER – I, man, am regal. A German am I.

ARIE – If I had a hi-fi…

SGTS – Not a banana baton!

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM – Rise, to vote, sir. (well, madam.)

Mary Lou – I’ve said before that I’m protective of my Saturdays and want to feel I’m in good hands when I see the constructor. You have certainly joined that group. Nice one.

Final thought - Do geese see God?

Glimmerglass 7:23 AM  

I was patting myself on the back for solving a puzzle with lots of stuff I didn't know (SPORCLE, and a bunch of proper names). But @Rex tells me it was easy (for him). Okaaay. I thought it was normal Saturday difficullty, medium-challenging. My last letter was the G in GIN UP and SGTS, both of which I was skeptical about. "Gin up" to me means "improvise," and I don't think of procedurals as collections of persons. However, I went with G out of desperation. As I've said many times, challenging for me is a good thing, especially if I get lucky.

evil doug 7:32 AM  
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evil doug 7:34 AM  
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Lobster11 7:34 AM  

I'm giving 90% of this an A, and the other 10% an F. Brutal crosses, at least for me, at TREVI/VOS, SPORCLE/NECCO, and NEUER/SCUT. I'd also complain about PIAF/TAYLORwhatshername if the A in TAYLOR weren't easily inferrable. And speaking of TAYLORwhatshername, I'm sorry, but I just don't think she is worthy of a grid-spanner. First name or last name, okay, but not both together.

BarbieBarbie 7:53 AM  

Hard for me. Yosemite is on the Western slope, @Rex. The Eastern slope has more rugged places like Bishop. Worth a visit. @LMS, the H in Chisholm messed me up too. Had me wondering if maybe I didn't know how to spell Barbara Jordan. Total self-misdirect.. Today's question: is the LOO really the apparatus? I thought it was the room.

da kine 7:57 AM  

Are bought word lists the new Rex crusade? If you're going to question the constructor's integrity, have so sort of proof.

evil doug 7:57 AM  


Yo! Semite!

Went with TAtS for G.I. wear for a bit.

Good inbound vs. outbound misdirect on SFO (thinking maybe Tokyo). Also on Ilsa instead of Bogie....

I like BIG D, Loren, because "a slut nixes sex in Tulsa".

Average Joe 8:04 AM  

Okay puzzle, lots of odd stuff in there though.

My last square was the cross of NEUER/SCUT, and I had to run the alphabet (vowels anyway) and of course U is last...

I agree with everyone on TAYLORwhosit. Why not just use the constructor's neighbor in the grid? I wonder if TAYLORinsomedumbshow is really excited today about being in the NYT xword and then she reads this and she realizes that nobody cares and in fact are angry that her name was in the puzzle and then she goes from elation to despair in one fell swoop and so she starts hitting the bottle hard at 9:00 AM but the bottle breaks because she hit it too hard but she starts licking all the boozy shards covered in sweet precious alcohol and then she says "screw it I don't care" and graduates to heroin and goes on a rampage and shoots a night clerk at 10:00 AM while she is laughing and sobbing uncontrollably and the police subdue her with a spike strip even though she's sitting in a chair in the lobby of a seedy motel but they don't press charges because she completely missed the night clerk but broke a lamp and she has to pay for that and she does and then goes home and then sees the NYT and she relapses and it starts all over again except this time she is played by a more famous actress and some vampires are involved.

Unknown 8:17 AM  

Using TEHEE is like filing down stones on the pyramids so the dimensions fit some crazy theory.

r.alphbunker 8:20 AM  

Ironically one use of a word list is to identify less than ideal fill. Since I am not a constructor that is what I use Jeff Chen's word list for.

See details here. Answers in red that begin with a ! are not in the word list and are usually fresh or a wacky theme answer. Answers in red that are not marked with an ! have a score less than 50 in the list and are usually less than ideal.

Stanley Hudson 8:45 AM  

@r.alphbunker, interesting info. Thanks.

Wonder how many people in the Trump admin are consulting with LEGAL?


Anonymous 8:51 AM  

either I'm a better solver than I thought or this was a very easy puzzle!

mmorgan 8:52 AM  

Really enjoyed this, but I died on the ART_/B_GD cross. Just could not see the I as 1 (duh!) an didn't know BIGD. Shirley Chisholm came to my college and spoke in a very small room (memory says only about 50 people) when she was running for president. I felt that I was in the presence of history.

Hartley70 8:55 AM  

Whoa, TAYLOR does not deserve the shade! It may be a generational thing. Netflix is like NBC/ABC/CBS for the Millenials and Xers. They cut the cable cord long ago and watch tv on the internet. She is quite well known and this is a huge role. She is a FAIR entry in my world, certainly FAIRer for American solvers than NEUER. Think of Jerry Seinfeld and there you go.

I was defeated by PIAF because I was sure Cotillard won for playing Coco Chanel. I didn't actually see the movie so I have no basis for my certitude. Obviously I couldn't make it work and checked the answer. Once Edith went in, I finished it off and enjoyed the solve. The super long downs were so random but interesting to unravel.

How did I remember SHIRLEYCHISHOLM? I amazed myself. This puzzle is a nice mix of old and new. SPORCLE sounds great. Thanks to Mary Lou for the heads up. I'm going there right after breakfast. Once it's less than 20 degrees, it's a good morning to stay in.

RooMonster 8:56 AM  

Hey All !
Well, wasn't a one-letter DNF today ... wait for it ... it was a Two-letter DNF! Argh! Had correct NECCO in, but changed to NEsCO (thinking Nestle Co.) because didn't think a consonant would go before CLE in SPORCLE. And sINKS for RINKS (don't you drop curlers in the sink when you take them out?) giving me SPOssLE for the unknown web site. Really wanted RINKS, as for the sport Curling, but again, the RCLE didn't look right. Man, to get that close, after the tough-as-nails NE really rankles.

Yes, the NE was last to go, and toughest on the ole brain. PIAF and GINUP WOES. Took a long time to get off deTS for SGTS, but finally saw SPAYS and then YUL, took TAYLOR on faith and word-pattern recognition. So, got all that correct, to still get a DNF. To borrow a Rexism, Blargh.

Rest of puz went in slowly, but steadily. NEUER new here, but filled from crosses. Neat clues for LOOS, AWOL. Had cAmo for TAGS, goose-HERON, ARIa-ARIE.

Overall, nice SatPuz that didn't kill too many brain cells. Liked all the 15's. 45 minutes here, not too shabby on a Saturday.


OISK 8:59 AM  

Welcome back Rex. Your fill-in did a wonderful job the last two days. ( I also really enjoyed both puzzles.)

This one was OK, although I have never watched "Orange is the new Black," nor heard of Taylor Schilling, nor the crossing clue "sporcle." But given TAYL_R, only the correct letter came to mind.

I remember Ms. Chisholm very well, and although I didn't know Manuel Neuer, given NE_ER, a "u" made sense in German. ( Neuer means "newer.") I am sure I have encountered "scut" work somewhere. Don't know who Arie India is, but I do remember Phil Ochs, and I can sing "Draft Dodger Rag." (Consider my career, my sweetheart dear, my poor old invalid aunt, besides I ain't no fool, I'ma goin' to school, and I'm a workin' in a defense plant...)

Wonder how many people come here for political comments?

# Desist

(No offense intended, @ Stanley Hudson, and some folks enjoy political banter everywhere and always. I don't.)

Sir Hillary 9:02 AM  

Fun puzzle. NEUER was first in -- he's arguably the best keeper in the world at the moment, for those who care. Although neither he nor his national squad were great at last year's EUROS.

I use SPORCLE the same way I use puzzles -- as stress relief. I love the geography quizzes and can now name every world capital, which is of crosswords and SPORCLE, and THATSIT.

Sooooooo wanted Mr. Mercer to be named Recre.

QuasiMojo 9:02 AM  

Is NEUER a word? Nein. It's a person's name so I don't care it if it on a list or not. It works fine here. Hey that rhymes!

I grew up seeing Shirley Chisholm on TV. I always admired her. Great to have her in the puzzle today.

I finished this thing in less than a half-hour which is quite good for me on a Saturday. So I feel both proud and disappointed because now I have to vacuum the pad. Over too soon!

@Loren, best of luck with the constructing. I tried one and was surprised how challenging it really is. (Especially for someone like me without a printer and sans graph paper!)

Never heard of most of the stuff in this grid today but I managed to finish without any CHEATING. Now the question is do I click on SPORCLE or not? Or is it the mental cousin of CURLING?

Teedmn 9:12 AM  

Indeed an easy Saturday, but no less entertaining for that. I still had a DNF though. I don't follow college sports. At all. Not even my alma mater. So where the bleeping Cotton Bowl is played (doesn't cotton grow in Georgia? Ah, I see Texas wins for biggest producer, my bad) is not going to appear in my personal word list (Hi @r.alph). So I had ARTs crossing BsGD and that incorrect "s" was my last entry.

I laughed at my feeble attempt to put my new-found knowledge of Messi in at 57A. When I got the actual NEUER, it reminded me of the scene in Driving Miss Daisy in the cemetery (I'd post a link but apparently that movie isn't popular enough to have scenes on YouTube). Jessica Tandy asks Morgan Freeman to put flowers on a grave for her but he has to admit he can't read. When she determines that he knows his letters, she tells him to look for a name that starts with B and ends with R with some letters in between. Bauer.

I luckily knew NECCO so that helped me with the SPORKLE WOE. Once, on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", the singer Neko Case was the celebrity who came on for the "Not My Job" segment. She was asked about NECCO wafers.

Thanks, MLG.

Z 9:12 AM  

The way I read Rex on the word list issue is not that bought word list are inherently bad. Rather, that they lend themselves to obscurity in constructing. When a clue is a direct lift from wikipedia that certainly suggests that the constructor and editor don't really know their answer. The worst recent example was the "godmother of punk" clue that wasn't Patti Smith. If you recall, the puzzle answer had that sobriquet in Wikipedia, but it was poorly sourced. If you have to go to Wikipedia to clue your word list answer you might, just maybe, be better off finding an alternative. Don't display your ignorance.

I liked this. Mrs Z (not really, would you change your name from Smith to a hard to read/pronounce vaguely German looking Dutch name just because you married a guy?) has been watching Orange. I watched about 20 minutes and the dialogue was so contrived and inane that I now absent myself. She swears I picked the worst 20 minutes. I have a stack of reading which seems a better use of my time. At any rate, I recognized the name once it filled, but no chance of getting it on my own. The other five 15s filled with just a few crosses in place.

I didn't notice the short fill, much. There's plenty of it, so I'm not too surprised that it wouldn't hold up to close inspection. Still, I never found myself going ugh, so it doesn't seem to have gotten in the way..As for HIGH SIERRA, is it a mountain range or a nickname for a series of mountain ranges? The top hits are the movie and the outdoor equipment company.

diywriter 9:17 AM  

Song about the High Sierra:

Ellen 9:22 AM  

Probably a Saturday personal best (around ten minutes, and I'm a pen-and-paper solver) -- with SHIRLEYCHISHOLM I was off and running.

I never heard of TAYLORSCHILLING but she was inferrable from crosses, as was NEUER. My only real "you're kidding, right?" moment was the cross of ARTI and BIGD, which got my spouse a DNF.

Phil Schifley 9:22 AM  

The only scut I know is Scut Farkus. He just just did the grunt work of beating kids up.

Birchbark 9:26 AM  

As a non-constructor, it's not immediately clear to me why @Rex encourages constructors to use software but not wordlists? Both seem like external tools. I don't have a frame of reference to know why one is good, but the other breaks a rule. Thanks.

Mr. Benson 9:40 AM  

Rex says he missed two good puzzles. Not that I can always predict his reactions, but I think he would have hated Thursday. He would have ranted about the random-trivia aspect and how feats of construction (the double-dactyl clues) don't make a fun solving experience, most likely. Also, he would have said (and I would agree) that it was too easy.

Sherm Reinhardt 9:45 AM  

I guess this was "easy" as I got it in 30 mins., which is above average for me, but at the beginning there were so many ? clues and proper names and obscure geography that I was pretty sure it would be a DNF.

Some NITS:

Got ALEUT from UT, but knowing that the Aleutians were Russian at one time is pretty obscure.
Got NACL from CL, but for the life of me never heard of Deicer. My bad.
TEHEE should be spelled TEEHEE, right? Right? No.
In the US Senate, isn't AYE the normal affirmative? Nope, but there's a webpage that explains the difference. Google it.
I am Californian and no one in California in my knowledge ever called Yosemite's range HIGHSIERRA. It's the Sierra Nevada (there's even a beer from Chico named Sierra Nevada). When I say High Sierra it's always in the plural and used ironically to mean "up in the mountains."

Anyway, that one GINned me UP something awful.

John Child 9:47 AM  

The PIAF, SPORCLE, somebodySCHILLING corner was tough, but otherwise I sped through this. Good long answers barring, IMO, Ms Schilling, though she does bring the average age of the people included down a bit. Nice 60s thing going with PIAF, YUL, PHI OCHS, and SHIRLEY CHISHOLM running down the left side.

Seriously, who knew NHRA before they learned it from some puzzle? NHRA, you're no IHOP. I guess BIG D could be my hip-hop name... or maybe ERIE.ARIE.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

I almost forgot to look, that's how much I cared. Was it NEtCO/SPORtLE or was it NEsCO/SPORsLE? Turns out it was neither -- it was NECCO/SPORCLE. And so I had a [who cares?] Natick. Glad I wasn't playing for the $500,000 First Prize.

I got into this puzzle easily with PIAF to SPAYS in the NW. I immediately saw IN THE CROSSHAIRS from zero crosses !, but spent a lot of time looking for letters to confirm it. I knew SHIRLEY CHISHOLM, but not TAYLOR SCHILLING or NEUER. Why is HIGH SIERRA the one U.S. mountain range that I never seem to remember? I loved TRIPLE WORD SCORE. I had SCUd work before SCUT work. I liked the clues for AWOL and STUB.

My biggest NIT is ANYONE LISTENING. That's what you say when you already know you can be heard, but people are playing with their gadgets instead of paying attention to you. When you're not entirely sure that "this thing is on" you would instead say: CAN EVERYONE HEAR ME?

I could have done with fewer names and skipped the NHRA and NACL abbrevs. But challenging enough to be consistently interesting.

Wm. C 9:53 AM  

I had no trouble with NECCO. The factory was across the street from the main entrance to the MIT complex. No trouble with the TREVI
Fountain (I've been there), nor HIGH... (I've been to Yosemite. .. And if you haven't, Do it!).

Never heard of NEUER, TAYLOR... Had to resort to Mr. Google. Ugh!

Steve M 9:56 AM  

NE was hardest but nice Saturday

Maruchka 9:59 AM  

Surely, SHIRLEY CHISHOLM was my fav today - and tomorrow, and always. Brooklyn fighter par excellence. No jest.

All the PPP-ness was daunting, to start. Step by step, inch by inch, growl by growl, the fill began and was done. Had to look up OITNB gal, tho.

I did not know that the HIGH SIERRAs extend into Yosemite, where we went most winters and summers in my youth. Always thought they were farther south, nearer to Bishop (so right, @BarbieB) than Lee Vining. OK, I may be picking NITS, but had a huh? moment like @Rex's.

Going to check out SPORCLE now. Whee!

DBlock 10:01 AM  

Way too easy for a Saturday
Taylor Schilling (who portrays the least interesting character and as the show has focused on other characters gotten better over the seasons) and Shirley Chisholm (a moment to pause for greatness) plus lots of other gimmes made this fly by.

Nancy 10:05 AM  

So this may turn out to be the first Natick I love, in that it gives me info that might enrich my life. Like @Hartley and @Marushka, I'm on my way to SPORCLE now. I hope it's not a site that I'll need some sort of App to access.

Mohair Sam 10:06 AM  

@Z - Great minds . . . . . . . You beat me to it, and said it better than I might have. I'd add that over the years crossword puzzles have lost a certain rhythm in that constructors are more and more using words and clues of which they know little (and often nothing) about. I think smooth flow is part of the magic of constructors like Patrick Berry, he seems never to be cluing things he doesn't understand.

We had more trouble with this one than most of you, although we showed our grayness by leaping in at SHIRLEYCHISHOLM. I always link her in my mind with her NY Congressional contemporary Bella Abzug (such a quiet woman). I'm like @Rex in childishly getting my back up at "you gotta see it" shows so join the group in having not seen "Orange", hence 3d was the woe that made this puzzle tough for us. I always defend obscurities on Saturdays, especially when crossed easily - but LEIGH Mercer? C'mon. Although Wikipedia says he gave the British this:

"A dozen, a gross, and a score
Plus three times the square root of four
Divided by seven
Plus five times eleven
Is nine squared and not a bit more."

So there's that in his defense. Count your dactyls in that one Emily.

AZPETE 10:08 AM  

How bout de-icer?

thursdaysd 10:09 AM  

Had to sleep on this one. Then I reluctantly replaced sand with the boring ARTI and things went better. Except that SPORCLE/NECCO and ISLIP/ARIE were total guesses. Glad to hear Rex is recovering.

GILL I. 10:13 AM  

SPAYS YUL PIAF wham bang. Then I thought, oh no, please don't let this be full of names I don't know because then I'll hate this puzzle. I did a TRIPLE trip on SPORCLE LEIGH and NEUER, but my happy feet still did its dance. All gettable. YEA!
I got TAYLOR but had a really hard time with her last name. I could not get Piper out of my head. I watched Orange several times but then got bored with it and went on to eating up "The Walking Dead."
Via Magazine refers to Yosemite's range as the HIGH SIERRA although I'm more of the plural type.
IN THE CROSS HAIRS or fires? That is the question SHIRLEY CHISHOLM.
Nice puzzle Mary Lou. Did you ever listen to Rickey sing you a song?

Nancy 10:15 AM  

I'm back in a flash from SPORCLE. It's -- horrors of horrors -- a trivia website! It doesn't include brain-twisting-type puzzles, which is what I like. I'll leave this site to the trivia buffs on the blog; there's more than enough trivia in my life to be found on Jeopardy and in puzzles like this one.

puzzle hoarder 10:25 AM  

Not having really slept Friday night made solving this twice as difficult as it should have been. A good example is putting in YUS for YUL and not noticing. How that S got in there I have no memory and this is with paper and pencil. It wouldn't have helped with the last name for 3D but with the L in place TAYLOR would have been easy. As it was I just thought TAYS? and moved on. The SE corner was the biggest snafu. Like a number of people that second H was an obstacle. Somehow the previous 18x that ARIE has been clued this way have made no impression on me. I took forever to change SPACE to SCORE and to get the 48D clue. The most interesting misstep came from there being a town here in Illinois called Alsip. When the lightbulb went off for 47D I confidently put in ILSIP and it looked correct. I figured everything out in the end but it was an entertaining 47 minute slog. Then I screwed up the steps to publishing and lost the comments I printed up last night. One last nit, unless you're referencing the movie or a drink it's The HIGHSIERRA and the true high Sierras are down by Kings Canyon and Sequoia.

GHarris 10:31 AM  

I guess one's proficiency has really gone up when you can complete the puzzle rather easily even though it is riddled with unknown names. There were enough gimmes ( Piaf, Chisholm, Yul, Trevi, CSI and loo) to allow working through the tough stuff. Always a rush when I finish a Saturday puzzle but a bit deflating to have Rex and others deem it easy.

Exubesq 10:35 AM  

I am sore from patting myself on the back, having just posted an all-time best Saturday time. Knowing that Rex was going to rate it Easy only dampened my self-congratulatory high a tiny bit.

TonySaratoga 10:42 AM  

I'm with Hartley70 on Taylor Schilling (Netflix more relevant than NBC at this point and she's queen of a huge show). And I'm 48, not a millennial. Also, best goalkeeper in most popular sport on the planet equals totally fair game, if not a gimme. I'm with Rex on High Sierra. Sierra Nevada is the range, right? High Sierra is kind of a nickname and should probably have been clued as such.

GILL I. 10:43 AM  

Hey...I won at BINGO. @Nancy, try that one - it's fun and easy.
SPORCLE....Is that a sinful waste of time?

OISK 10:52 AM  

@Nancy - Not a fan of Necco wafers, I gather! I still enjoy them from time to time. They have also brought back ( the company that originally made them folded) Black Crows, and Turkish Taffy. I still enjoy the former, but not the latter. Chuckles are now made in Mexico! Good N Plenty seems the same as it always was. Charms lost the hard candy battle to Life Savers...

And they were all a nickel...

Mohair Sam 10:55 AM  

@Loren - God bless you for once again linking that Weird Al "Bob" video. I laugh uncontrollably each time I see it and have no idea why. This time I noticed that the guy flipping the signs is looking around casually as he does so. Who thinks of these things?

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

SPORCLE is a privately held data collection site that lures in contributors through trivia games. There's a reason it's free.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  


Im almost always with you, but not today. How in the world do you know whether Guizzo knew Reuer or not? Sweeper keeper is one of the most common ways to refer to him. By fans ardent and casual.
What break in flow did it cause? It crosses with scut, in the cross hairs, the plot thickens. All good stuff.
As I said, I'm fan of yours but I don't see it your way at all on this one.

Nancy 11:17 AM  

@OISK -- No, I didn't know NECCO, although now that you mention it, it sort of rings a bell. But I was probably thinking of either Nestle's or Nabisco or both when I chose the wrong letter on the cross.

@Anon 11:05 -- Many, many thanks for the heads-up. You've done this blog a real favor!

Bill Feeney 11:33 AM  

@LMS without a doubt you have the most interesting posts on this blog. Do geese see god was worth the price of admission alone. I'm an outlier on this one. Far too much I did not know. All the proper names for this Canadian were tough.

Carola 11:36 AM  

Easy here. Knowing almost all of the proper names made this a quick (and fun) diversion rather a Saturday workout. I wondered how big of a snag Manuel NEUER would be; I've been following the Nationalelf since 2002, when my husband and I happened to be in Germany during the World Cup. I'd never followed soccer before and got hooked. Proud possession: DFB Klose #11 shirt.

Lewis 11:44 AM  

As @Z said, I'm sure Rex is not denigrating word lists per se, rather not using them with intuition, intelligence, and discretion. I'm sure Rex has his own list(s).

For a Saturday, this puzzle seemed queasy (quick and easy), even though I didn't know TAYLORSCHILLING, SPORCLE, NEUER, ARIE, NHRA, LEIGH, or TAGS (just kidding on that last one). I just HACKed my way though it. It had spark, that indefinable quality that some puzzles have and other don't. I loved all the longs except TAYLORSCHILLING, and they were the anchors that kept the joy spread throughout.

No big NITS. Just played it LOOS, kept my focus INTHECROSSHAIRS, and nothings seemed to go ARIE. Loved it. THATSIT.

Trombone Tom 11:51 AM  

My opinion of this puzzle and order of solving almost duplicates @Rex's. The difference being that it was harder for me due to the names. And TAYLOR S was completely unknown, for the same reasons @Rex cited.

I started slow but finally chipped away at this one to a successful conclusion. Other than the proper name the 15's were challenging and rewarding. Thanks Ms. Guizzo for an enjoyable Saturday morning.

And, yes, put Yosemite on your bucket list. The view from Glacier Point is an awe-inspiring experience.

AliasZ 11:53 AM  

It is a disappointment to have full names occupy two of the six 15s in this otherwise pleasant enough puzzle. TAYLOR whatsername was a total unknown to me, so I needed at least 80% of its letters to finally get it, at which time I had a terrific "meh" moment. But I am old enough to remember SHIRLEY CHISHOLM as a candidate for the Democratic Party's nominee for POTUS in 1972.

I enjoyed seeing the River ARNO and the TREVI fountain, bringing back lovely memories of my visit to Italy in 1968.

I haven's seen HIGH SIERRA in a long time. Time to check if TCM has it available on demand.

Since I have been neglectful of late, let me make up for it with three musical links.

First, the TANGO by Igor Stravinsky.

Second, the previous piece reminded my of this gem: Scherzo à la Russe (a Russian joke) by the same composer, honoring this latest round of the "red square".

Last but by no means least: "The Red Priest" Antonio Vivaldi was born on this day 339 years ago. To honor him, here is one of his over 600 concertos: the Concerto Grosso in D minor. Happy birthday, Antonio!


Hal 11:54 AM  

ARTI does not make Sana'a forgiveable even on Saturday

Numinous 12:00 PM  

TAYLOR who? I watched part of the first season of Orange is the New Black, got bored and stopped. Orphan Black is better but I stilll quit that about three eps into the secocnd season. I'll confess, I had a hard time with this and ultimately a DNF on ARTs, totally missing BIG D. I was looking for the abreviation for some university.

Any Californian knows, or should know that SIERRA. Is Spanish for mountain range. The English translation for SIERRA Nevada is the Nevada Mountains or Nevada Mountain Range. So, really, Yosemite's home is HIGH Mountain range? I'm a fourth generation Californian; there aren't that many of us. By the way, don't call it Frisco either. Anyway, that was my main CAVIL.

I usually like Mary Lou Guizzo's puzzles but this one kept me engaged for too long. I have stuff to do today, like yesterday and the day before.

A comment on Thursday: Thursdays, I believe, are supposed to be trick or gimmick puzzles. They are supposed to have an unusual element to them. This past Thursday's unique quality was subtle but it was certainly there. Too bad if you missed it. Maybe you aren't trying hard enough.

I read yesterday's comments after midnight and had these irrelevant observations.
@Andrew Heinegg, I grew up with Best Foods Real Mayonnaise so Hellman's is the one for me too. They're the same company.
@Nancy, I remember my mother causing Russian dressing though I don't recall how she did it. She never used catsup, always used Heinz Chili Sauce. I use it too for everything except french fries. There 's something about all the sugar in Ketchup that compliments the salty fries.

Oh, and @John Child, NHRA? You must be kidding. You've never heard of the National Hot Rod Association? I remember NHRA decals for some of the model cars I built whan I was 14 or 15 over a half century ago.

Have a great weekend, y'all.

old timer 12:01 PM  

Medium puzzle for me. PIAF went right in -- saw the movie and loved it. Fortunately got THE PLOT THICKENS early. SCHILLING was inferable, but it took a while to guess TRIPLE WORD SCORE. My only writeover was changing "hee" to HAR.

I think of the HIGH SIERRA as being the country crossed by the John Muir Trail. Starts in Yosemite and ends at Mt Whitney. South of Whitney and north of Yosemite the peaks and passes are lower. You do get your best view of the range from Bishop, on the east side. Especially from that park NE of Bishop, Millpond.

Wm. C. 12:02 PM  

@Alias -- did you have a room with a view of the river? Heh, heh ....

old timer 12:09 PM  

@Numinous, this 4th generation Californian, descendant of those who came in the Gold Rush, knows that "SIERRA Nevada" means "snowy mountain range", because Nevada is the Spanish word for "snow covered".

jae 12:22 PM  

@lms - Yes, yes I did. That second H didn't look right.

mathgent 12:30 PM  

Not easy for me. I counted 26 proper nouns, some I knew but many (TAYLORSCHILLING) I didn't. I usually like a crunchy battle but not this one very much. I wrote 13 red plusses in the margins, a little low for a Saturday.

I enjoyed the comments more. Thanks @LMS and @evil doug for the palindromes. Thanks @Mohair Sam for the lovely mathematical limerick. I hadn't seen it before. Thanks @Average Joe for the Ballad of Taylor Schilling.

I liked seeing NECCO and being reminded of those tiny candy hearts on grade school Valentine's Days.

One of my red plusses was learning what a cairn is. I had thought that it was a cave.

I guess that I'm alone in not knowing the expression "scut work." It seems to be a hospital thing.

mac 12:33 PM  

Nice but easy-ish Saturday puzzle to me as well. It was very helpful that I got the long 5 and 9 down quite early.

We're all so different; Neuer was a gimme for me, but I needed almost every letter of Big D.

I really disliked NHRA and NACL, I always have trouble with acronyms, but every little box got filled correctly anyway.

Masked and Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Primo SatPuz by the Guizzomeister. Really admire all them interlaced grid-spanners, swirlin around each other like a pod of whales.
Some whales were friendlier to M&A than others:
* TAYLORSCHILLING. Had no earthly idea, once I saw it didn't end with a "-TRUMP".
* THEPLOTTHICKENS. Got it offa 3 or 4 letters; forget which ones.
* INTHECROSSHAIRS. One of my first fill in-the-grid toenail holds (yo, @Bill Feeney). Got er off the startin "I".
* The rest of em were typical wheel-of-fortune discovery jobs. Good to see Shirley in there.

ITSNOTFAIR: Wanted ITAINTFAIR. Cuz, what's SNOT got to do with anything?

Biggest trouble spot: SPORCLE/NECCO/RICO. Not in my word list. Speakin of which…

@muse: No no no, darlin. Do not succumb to the rule of the desperate word lists and auto-filler-programs. M&A goes commando. M&A is a dinosaur constructioneer -- fills his grids by chiselin words into blank rock slabs. Selects his grid entries based entirely on three+ fundamentals:
* If it fit, U oughta use it. Corollary: If U fit, go with it.
* If it looks kinda desperate, it probably is. [Based on M&A's gut extincts]
* Try to alternate vowels and consonants in yer words a lot. They work out better, for crossins.
* Never make a puz larger than 7x7. [A guideline, more than a strict law.]

Thanx, Mary Lou G. Put up a fun fight, at our house.
p.s. From yer xwordinfo photo, I see U have changed yer hairstyle.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

Only 8 weejects to pick from today. Sooo … When in doubt, pick the U-ful one: YUL.


Orange Is The New Black 12:45 PM  

Whoa! Can't believe OITNB isn't one of Rex's favorite shows. Its the perfect vehicle for the SJW diversity crowd. A veritable rainbow of ethnic colors and sexual preferences. Not much white privilege on display at this women's prison.

We have co-stars Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon, (the hot redhead who tried and failed to make a man out of Topher Grace in That 70's Show) in an on-again off-again love/ hate relationship. Lots of steamy sex in the shower and other prison hidey-holes.

Then there's Laverne Cox who plays an African-American pre-op transsexual. The fact that she actually is one in real life obviously helps a lot. She's pretty damned hot too!

Kate Mulgrew rocks as Galina 'Red' Reznikov who has ties to the Russian Mafia.

Then there's Matt McGorry playing John Bennett, a one-legged jail guard who knocks up Dayanara Diaz played by Dascha Polanco. She's rather zaftig, so attempted sex between these two leads to some hilarious scenes.

Lori Tan Chinn and Kimiko Glenn make up the token Asian contigent. Lori is also a Vegan. Can't forget them!

Other than that, the ensemble consists of women representing every possible country you could ever imagine. The cast list reads like an Hispanic phone book. Not to be out done, Blacks from Jamaica and Haiti are also included along with your run-of-the-mill African-Americans.

We have the token dentally-challenged redneck named 'Pennsatucky', played flawlessly by Taryn Manning.

Last but not least, sorry Rex but no Kiwis. One of the guards does have a wife that he imported from the Ukraine, but she hates his guts. 'Red' is trying to help him cope.

Or maybe Rex just refuses to watch this show because ever since January 20th, it reminds him that Orange Really Is The New Black?

Mohair Sam 1:29 PM  

@Anon (11:12) - Glad you posted, although I never mentioned NEUER in my post, and I would assume a constructor of Ms. Guizzo's stature would know his name whether or not she's a soccer fan. And I never mentioned a break in flow, so I suspect you've taken me for someone else. But you've given me an excuse to clarify - so . . . .

After I made my comment I reread and wondered if it would be interpreted as a shot at Mary Lou Guizzo. It wasn't meant to be, I was talking about puzzles in general - note that I made no comment about the diversity of cluing today, actually expect Saturday puzzles to cover a wide range. Mary Lou is one of those constructor names that puts a smile on my face when it appears on the byline - no offense intended for sure.

My intent was to point out that word lists and the internet have caused puzzles to no longer reflect the personality of their constructor, but rather what information is available in the entire universe which fits the grid, for better or worse. Comments by @Rex and @Z had jiggled this in the brain, not today's puzzle in particular.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

@LMS Speaking of geese, have you seen the great cartoon in a recent New Yorker? Two bald eagles are sitting in a tree and one says:

"Now when I go abroad I tell everyone I'm a Canadian goose."

Leapfinger 1:34 PM  

Very doable, if approached with an eye for trickery. Thought first of COCO Chanel, but noting the surname used in the clue scotched that; PIAF came from the P in SPAYS soon after. For unknown reasons, also thought it might be TAboO until TANGO dope-slapped me. Long entries all delightful, but too easily grokked with few crosses, so lots of real estate fell much too fast. Only residual problem was 3D: the TAYLOR end of it was sussable, but the first vowel in SCH_LLING could conceivably have been any one, including Y. With me thinking of the Hotel California Eagles, PHA, PHE, PHI, PHO, PHU and PHY all were equally opaque. Picking the Greek letter at random made the pencil happy, so I'm now guessing there's an team of Eagles in PHIladelphia.

You may think ITSFAIR, but ITSNOT (I know, we're talking Grade 3 now)
HACK'n'TACH: isn't that a city in NJ?
I'd trade a TAGS NEUER for a TAG HEUER ANY day
Clue [Drain away] for LEACH is good, but I would've liked [Grant, originally]. I think most solvers could Cary that off.

Stones in a pile are HEAPED; stones in a cairn are *stacked*
Nit de-nitified: I doubted that a HERON always flies with its neck in an S-shape, but I had to scan a whole lot of 'flying heron' images to find even one flying with outstretched neck.

Surely, the Old CHISHOLM Trail deserves a mention. Interesting that, after starting roughly 150 years ago, about 5 million head of cattle were drovered (driven?) up it from Texas to Kansas, and never once went near to the HIGH_SIERRAS. It was a pleasure to have SHIRLEY_CHISHOLM in the grid; I saw the lady holding forth on the tube this past week, and the old girl hasn't lost a lick. I'd be happy to have ANYONE LISTENING say as much of me some day.

Well, Hello, Mary Lou, way to go, girl!

PS. Agree ARTI is strange, and am glad I filled in that top-midsection without ever reading the clue for VOS. ANYONE who ever worked in a hospital will be familiar with SCUTwork.
PPS. Thanks @Average Joe!

Anoa Bob 2:50 PM  

I see folks on this board all the time blithely praising or criticizing the constructor for the quality of the puzzle's clues. Without first-hand knowledge, that's a risky assumption to make. From my very limited experience, the clues are where the editor/staff are most likely to make changes. As many as 50% or more of the clues might be changed. From the constructor's point of view there's kind of a scorecard mentality to it---see how many of your original clues make it to the final cut.

This is why I think long-time constructor Tyler Hinman's old dictum is so funny. He's using this ambiguity for comedic effect: "If you like the clue, give me credit. If you don't like the clue, blame the editor."

Woe be unto any constructor whose puzzle follows a PB1. Yesterday's grid was exceptionally clean, whereas today we get lots of stuff like SFO, VOS, ARTI, ARNO, ARIE, UTNE, SANAA, LOOS, etc. ITSNOTFAIR.

Mohair Sam 3:11 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Points well taken.

Numinous 3:17 PM  

@old timer, ya got me. I never knew about the "snow covered" part. So I guess that clue is fair after all. Live and learn. I think my great grandfather came to California as a child in the 1830s but that may be completely wrong. In any case, compared to the population of California, there ain't that many of us around.

Numinous 3:25 PM  

I did check google translator and it gave me nothing for Nevada except Nevada. However, it does give me snows for neva.

Faithful Canuck Reader 3:52 PM  

"Now when I go abroad I tell everyone I'm a Canadian goose."

@Anony 1:33, did the New Yorker cartoon really have that caption? For shame, I thought everyone knew that Branta canadensis is the Canada goose. It would be strange to call it the America eagle, right? Just remember it's NOT a Canadian but a Canada goose, same as it's a Turkey vulture and a Greece monkey.

MetroGnome 4:06 PM  

Love Edith Piaf but did't recognize "Cotillard" -- Never heard of dear Ms. SCHILLING either; Natick'd on "SPORCLE"/"NECCO" -- so the entire NW was a disaster for me.

I obviously recognize "NACL," but what the hell is a "Deicer"?

Space Is Deep 4:08 PM  

DNF. Too many proper names I've never heard of. Relatively easy otherwise, but I Natiked with all of the obscure names. And, SPORKLE! Never heard of it, but it does sound like a site I would enjoy, I've already bookmarked it.

MetroGnome 4:32 PM  

... Oh, yeah, also -- what's "SFO"? San Francisco Orchestra???

foxaroni 4:54 PM  

I'm late, I know. Doubt if many will see this.

It took me until just now to understand why PHI means "The Eagles." I was looking at PHI as a Greek letter.

I don't think anyone specifically addressed this: shouldn't the clue be "De-icer," since the answer is NaCl (salt)?

Soccer/football needs to go a long way before players' names are commonly seen in the wild. I read the sports pages every day, and Neuer was still a complete unknown.

The NHRA has national meets at a track in nearby Topeka. That's the only reason that was a gimme.

Really enjoyed the puzzle, Ms. Guizzo.

Rachel 5:02 PM  

I can always tell that a Saturday is going to be rated as "easy" when I'm able to finish it without any

For anyone stumped by Manuel NEUER, search "sweeper keeper" on youtube and you'll get a huge list of videos demonstrating how he's earned his (well-known among soccer fans) nickname. He's really fantastic to watch. And as someone who dreads all of the endless sports references from who knows how long ago, I was happy to see him in there . . . not just because I actually know who he is (lol), but he's arguably one of the top athletes in the world right now, which feels more relevant than a bunch of guys from 40+ years ago . . . not that the Orrs and Aras and such have to go away, but it's nice to see some updated sports references as well.

MetroGnome 5:07 PM  

"Deicer" is "DE-ICER"!? Aw, C'MON! Misdirection is one thing -- arbitrarily misleading folks by simply punctuating something incorrectly (and illegibly) is nothing less than playing dirty.

Unknown 6:29 PM  

Baffled that some thought this was easy. I'm still a new solver, but I've solved the last 5/6 Saturdays without that much trouble, and I didn't even come close on this one. It didn't just beat me, it destroyed me.


Helpless on all of these without crosses and never heard of either of the 15-letter proper nouns.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

Natick is a pretty famous town on Massachusetts. I prefer Keb Mo'd. Hey, we know what we know, Let's not be snobs.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

In, not on, but you knew that , just anticipating the supercilious crossword geeks

Z 7:07 PM  

Regarding word lists - @Mohair Sam and @anon11:12 - First, of course, we don't "know" how much of a Bundesliga fan today's constructor is. Rex wrote that the clue "reeks of" being from a bought word list because the clue looks like it is right out of the wikipedia article. Maybe Guizzo or Shortz just wanted a new way to clue NEUER or maybe the "sweeper-keeper" was seen as the fairest way to clue it. There are lots of possibilities, But (with a capital B) when I can call up a really bad recent example I become more likely to read Rex's post today and nod my head in agreement. I would contrast this with doing a Gareth Bain puzzle and seeing the veterinarian voice sneak in or a Judge Vic puzzle and "hearing" the lawyer. Or how about doing an ACME puzzle and realizing who made it when you see San Francisco and Beatles in the puzzle. In short, if you have to go to Wikipedia for your clue you just might want to rethink an answer.

@MetroGnome SFO is the three letter code for San Francisco International Airport. Also, no problem here with the hyphenless "deicer." I'm pretty sure I've seen it spelled both ways out in the wild.

Happy Pencil 7:29 PM  

Wow, I thought this puzzle was great fun, and I’m surprised to see so many negative or indifferent comments. Yes, there’s some bad fill holding it all together, but look at all those fantastic long answers: ANYONE LISTENING, IN THE CROSSHAIRS, THE PLOT THICKENS, TRIPLE WORD SCORE, and SHIRLEY CHISHOLM. I’m not a constructor, but it seems to me that sometimes you have to make a trade-off to get that many good long answers, and personally I loved every one of those. Never heard of SPORCLE or NECCA, so I would not blame anyone who was annoyed at getting Naticked there, but there was more than enough payoff in the puzzle for me.

On the word lists issue, I think Rex’s objection is to buying one from someone else, which I assume he thinks is lazy, not to the general idea of using such lists. Kind of like taking performance-enhancing drugs as a shortcut to a gold medal.

Hartley70 7:42 PM  

Odd the uproar about de-icer. It must be a product so named in the Northeast, or the complainers live in sunnier climes. It's a standard in the family's Christmas stockings in the various aerosol forms. We're a practical bunch in New England.

brainpercy 7:42 PM  

Rex, don't ever call it the Sierra Nevadas. It's singular! (Sure you grew up there?)

Punctuated equilibrium 8:05 PM  

De-icer as in for roads, so salt, NaCl.

Larry Gilstrap 8:22 PM  

The SIERRA Nevada is a big mountain range with big mountains. Driving from Pearsonville to Reno will not only offer mountain vistas to the west but also eat up most the day. My point being, it's a very large area and I'm certain people living in different areas in proximity to the SIERRA have characteristic names for their mountains. OFL is from Fresno and describes his thoughts about the clue, fair enough! I have close friends who are almost appalled when someone drops the plural SIERRA bomb. I've learned to be wary. It must be a regional thing.

SCUT crossing NEUER was a dark hole, particularly the former.

Lewis 9:52 PM  

@average joe -- Bravo!

Anonymous 10:06 PM  

Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant by, in effect, seconding Z's comments.
I'm still a little mystified about your ability to infer the real personality or ken of constructor by the puzzle he creates (yeah I know our author today was a woman).
Also, need to write Neuer in all capital letters; my typo was self evident as such. As you would say, note how I invoked a cross which used the correct first letter. Sheesh.

Blowjobs4multigencalis 10:42 PM  

@oldtimer and @numinous, thank you for californio insight.

nemo paradise 11:06 PM  

A nearly perfect puzzle, wonderful to solve.

Ryan McCarty 1:18 AM  

Apart from the grid spinners this puzzle was not great. Too much short, bad weekday-type fill. The reward didn't rise above the dreck. Also very very easy.

kitshef 11:38 PM  

Two near-Naticks added a cpoule of minutes: UTNE/ARTI and SCUT/NEUER. ARTI finally made sense, but SCUT/NEUER was yer basic educated guess.

kodak jenkins 11:20 AM  

Never heard of PIAF, SCUTWORK, SPORCLE, , etc so very hard Saturday for me.

TEHEE is terrible, it's teehee or heh heh or ha ha or har har or even hardy har har....

Seems like DEICER would be de-icer but I'm probably wrong.

Stones in a cairn are usually placed rather carefully and purposefully which leads me more naturally to "stacked" or "balanced" rather than HEAPED.

HIGHSIERRA is fine with me. I've been camping there dozens of times with friends who have devoted the last 30 years of their life hiking, climbing, living and loving those mountains and they usually call them "the Sierras". This flirts with the whole NevAda NeVAHda debate...

rondo 10:17 AM  

Rare DNF due to carelessly not rechecking at SCaT instead of SCUT; coulda figured the German name. Too much on the plate right now. Also guessed on the spelling of yeah baby TAYLORSCHILLING's first name. You never know these days and I almost put an E in for the O. Never heard of SPORCLE. might check.

Gotta go. Work today, ballet tonight. THATSIT for now.

Burma Shave 11:09 AM  




Unknown 12:08 PM  

Great story. You should write screenplays.

spacecraft 12:31 PM  

Wow, naticks galore. Got 'em down to two: S_TS/_INUP and AR_I/U_NE. Guessed G in the accursed NW, though the clue seemed arbitrary for a simple rank, and T in the NE because...I really don't know. Both right--which I liken to betting a bundle on a tie in baccarat and getting it. So, finished, but oh brother: GINUP??? This has got to be EXTREMELY local. ITSNOTFAIR!

There was so much I didn't know here it's a miracle I got it done. It feels like getting a par on the toughest hole on the course; you just take your par, breathe your sigh of relief and move on.

Fell into the Rick trap: he never said "Play it, Sam," let alone "again." He just said "Play it." It was ILSA who uttered the clue line. Funny how I'd forgotten that. Weird _E_EE pattern repeated symmetrically at 6 & 46-down. Three cheers for the PHI Eagles! Three more for groundbreaker and DOD SHIRLEYCHISHOLM. Like I said, par. *whew*

leftcoastTAM 1:21 PM  

Gettable grid-spanners helped a lot. Some of the shorter stuff needed more help.

Shifted back and forth between TAGS and ToGS and between AHRA and AHRo. Guessed wrong.

SPORkLE/NEkCO cross was another wrong guess, choosing the instead of the correct C.

Close, but this isn't horseshoes.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Too many pissers and bad clues to be enjoyable. Thoroughly unrewarding.

Diana,LIW 3:14 PM  

I was enjoying getting the long answers with a letter or two, but ended up playing horseshoes in the NE and mid east. Haven't played scrabble since I was a kid (my mom was a player) so I was thinking of every other red square in the world. Games. Towns. Whatev...

Well, Tara, there's always tomorrow.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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