East of Eden girlfriend / SAT 4-8-17 / Bonehead to Brits / Fictional mariner also known as Prince Dakkar / Gordon Gekko Rooster Cogburn / First century megalomaniac / Component of pigment maya blue

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: NETIZEN (30A: YouTuber or eBayer) —
noun: netizen; plural noun: netizens
  1. a user of the Internet, especially a habitual or avid one. (google)
• • •

Ugh. Another day, another 62-worder, another whiff. Why do people still do these low-word-count affairs? I mean, Patrick Berry, OK, I can see him giving it a go, but honestly, your best-case scenario is usually something like this—adequate, dull, gunked up in places with crappy fill, and lacking in anything you'd call a stand-out / marquee / original answer. Or, I don't know, maybe WWIIVET is original in the strictest sense of the word, but it's not good. And there's so much bad fill, and then a few sad attempts to dress up the bad fill in a frilly frock and pass it off as something besides bad fill. ABRA will never, ever, ever be good, no matter who you say she (?) is (46D: "East of Eden" girlfriend). Nope, still a fragment of a magician's incantation. And DEADHEAD means what now? [Ineffective pill]? I know *two* meanings of DEADHEAD, and that ain't one. NE-O 1 and NE-O 2 are here, as well as ANIL and DONEE and other over-familiar faces (and whatever AERI- is). There is much here that is sturdy, that holds up, that does the job, but only if you consider the "job" to be "appearing crossword puzzle-like" and "not being a total face-planting disaster." It's mainly a snooze.

"XKCD" is here solely to get internet nerds talking on the internet about this puzzle (first thing I thought when I got it, and not fifteen minutes later, the internet nerds had already come out with whatever the equivalent of "First!" is these days, happily spoiling the puzzle for their handful (or tens of thousands) of Followers). But that's also a crowd that probably thinks "spoilers" are for olds or luddites or something. Anyway, it's a fine comic, but the blatant bid for internet attention here seems sad ... although I would hope that same crowd that reads "XKCD" would *jeer* the stupid, dated NETIZEN. Somebody should jeer it. It's jeer-worthy. It's '90s chic, i.e. not chic at all.

So this was much easier than yesterday's (finished in just over 1/2 the time yesterday's took me) (told ya so), largely because OPED NERO ETA, all side-by-side, were all gimmes. I had OH HI and PSST at 1D: "Hello ... I'm right here" (AHEM), but once I got the triad of gimmes, one little wrong answer didn't hang around long. Had a little trouble in the SE in and around ABRA (bec. WTF?) and EAT A SANDWICH I mean ROB A BANK (?). SW was the hardest for me, as I wrote in FILLMORE off the -ORE (instead of THEODORE) (40A: President between two Williams). NEMO was the gimme that got me out of a jam down there. FOLK ART and LEST helped as well. Make themelesses Enjoyable again! That is all.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Sorry, back to NETIZEN again. That clue—eBayer, really? For your eHeadache? eNo.

P.P.S. Updated, 1:13pm just gonna leave this ... here:

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:11 AM  

Slightly tougher than yesterday's but still in the easy-medium range for me. My only erasure was spelling DWEEZIL with an eL instead of an IL.

DEADHEAD as clued was a total WOE. This was an ISSUE for me because XKCD was also a major WOE. D seemed to be the best choice but T or L could have fit. And, when I Google DEADHEAD pills do not pop up in the definitions on page one.

More interesting than yesterday's, liked it.

puzzlehoarder 12:38 AM  

Jeff Chen's comment on yesterday's xwordinfo site about "overanalytical/anal constructors" struck me as aimed at someone we know. Judging by today's review it would seem that
I'm not the only one to get that impression.
While a bit on the easy side this was a perfectly good puzzle that I enjoyed solving. I started with ANTIHERO and ODE. It was steady work from there. My only write overs were DWEEZEL/DWEEZIL and CASHBAR/CASHBOX. My favorite aha moment was when I put TIESCORE next to BITPART then saw the WW and the V of WWIIVET appeared as if on their own.

Mike in Mountain View 12:49 AM  

One of my fastest Saturday solves, and an enjoyable one. I barely noticed ABRA in my admiration for a puzzle in which only four squares are not part of an entry that is seven letters or longer.

Thanks, Jeff.

aaron 12:56 AM  

I can see the very bottom right square being a natick for anyone not familiar with the webcomic, because the DEADHEAD clue doesn't make sense and for all I know DEAD HEAP is some kind of pharmacist slang

Brian 2:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marty Van B 2:32 AM  

Dug this a lot more than Rex. It's the kind of challenge I'm looking for a late week puzzle. I also love open, flowing grids rather than sections that get quarantined with only one or two ways in or out. The downside to open grids, though, is that they tend to fall really quick once a few answers get written in.

As far as indie puzzles go, I'll still take the NYTimes over just about all of them. It may be more constrained in what it can do but it does it really well almost everyday. There's always room for improvement and I love that there guys out there giving the country's paper of record a run for a money.

Howard B 2:45 AM  

The DEADHEAD clue was an absolute mystery here; other than that I had a great time with this one. Even with comments on some of the fill, for whatever reasons I enjoyed working my way through this one. That's personal preference, but for a low word count puzzle, this one was pleasant to me.

Robin 2:54 AM  

Slightly slower than my Saturday average, which means that a few years ago I would have been elated to finish in the time that I did. Given how jammed up I felt when I first looked through the clues, I guess I'm happy with my time on this one.

I had no problem with the XKCD mention (and thanks for the reminder to check it out, been a few months since I last did). I have sworn off of social media (keeps the blood pressure down), so I don't have to worry about the geekarazzi excitedly taking note of the mention.

I have no idea of the clueing for DEADHEAD. I'm also tired of NETIZEN — does anyone actually use that term? WWIIVET was simply weird, but I might have gotten it quicker if I had been doing the puzzle somewhere with better light and could see the word "Iwo". Was Rooster Cogburn really an ANTIHERO?

Liked the clues for ROOTBEER, THEODORE and CASHBOX.

I'll give this one a grade of B.

jae 3:00 AM  

....I did see a definition about a certain type of sex act with a corpse...

Dolgo 3:56 AM  

Well I think "East of Eden," is the only place you'd find the name Abra, but if you saw the movie, Julie Harris is as memorable as James Dean.
Do they still have be Hires root beer?
Most of the rest was no pretty be obvious​, if you ask me!

Golden Shower 3:58 AM  

Laughter: Does anyone remember that? Anyone? Bueller?

Moly Shu 4:12 AM  

Hmmmmm. A puzzle by @JChen and @Rex hates it. Big surprise. This really is getting tiresome. I get that OFL is a critic, but it seems like 95% of these reviews are negative. Objectivity, what's that? DNF on ArIL cuz I can't keep ANIL and ArIL straight and cuz OrEHORSE looked just fine. Couldn't see ONE.
ROOTBEER, initial foothold, only clue I saw right through.

Loren Muse Smith 4:37 AM  

What a pretty grid. Cool beans. I felt lots of trepidation getting started, but I trust Jeff as much as PB1 with any puzzle, any grid, any word count.

I have to agree, though, that the DEAD HEAD/XKCD cross is rough. Coulda been “heap, heat” (Hi, @aaron)…

@Moly Shu - I also struggled to distinguish my “anil” from ARIL and fortunately went with ONE HORSE instead of “ore horse.” Hah. As a jerkwater denizen, I didn’t know that term and immediately pictured instead some kind of Jamaican cooking deal. Ridiculous.

GETS DOWN made me smile. I pictured dances from my middle school years, Tommy R in his platform shoes and putty-colored leisure suit with shiny polyester shirt patterned with skyscrapers and I’m not making that up. Top teeth biting lower lip, bopping head, scanning the room for an indication that people were digging his get-down moves.

Very early on, I lightly penciled in “your turn” for NUFF SAID.

I liked QUARTETS right next to DUET.

First thought for the “tender spot” was some place on the water, anchored. Selling ground beef, cigarettes, beer, weighing salmon, repairing the broken hydraulic brailer, practicing a bowline, trying not to stare at the Russian gill-netters who never, ever smiled. Ever.

The misdirect on the clue “sitter’s charge” reminded me of my first job as a house sitter in Chapel Hill. I was living in the graduate dorm with no ac, nasty bathroom, wild suitemates… I went to meet the lady, Pearl P, who lived in a lovely house right on Franklin Street, ac, big kitchen, nice cat who wasn’t all stuck up and mean, bathroom like a hotel… She said, “So I was thinking maybe $40 a day?” I was so surprised at my good fortune. I told her I could definitely afford to pay that. And I wasn’t being a smart-ass. I really thought I was to pay her $40 a day to stay there. Sometimes I think back, astonished, at how much I didn’t know about life when I was in my 20s. I have two 20-something kids now and just say silent prayers all the time that they’re not as dumb as I was.

This is what I hope for in a Saturday. I’m with @jae, puzzlehoarder, Mike in Mountainview, Marty Van B, Howard B, etcetera who liked this.

(My two cents on MARMITE – I would absolutely try it, just to see if I like it as much as I like Bovril. Love. That. Stuff.)

Anonymous 5:53 AM  

Make America Great Again. On it.

John Child 5:54 AM  

Usually five-for-the-price-of-one is a great deal, but when it's five mini puzzles in a highly-segmented grid, no thanks. It seems so hard to make a puzzle with no long words interesting even if it's not chopped into small pieces.

XKCD no thanks either, in a puzzle or on screen. The crossing words were OK, though two of the clues were awful. I don't object the Natick potential so much as I think it's not cross worthy.

I Am Sanjay 6:13 AM  

Solve to puzzle in time! Look for blog to Rex as is in this also! Greatly lucrative! Therefore… I nevermore search what I ask for. Much far more ideas and much even more nonconformity… a comment, I will actually do this.

bucktail 6:22 AM  

This was an easier Sat. puzzle but what's not to like? I had fun doing it and that's what's important.

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evil doug 7:50 AM  

GET DOWN, get funky!

Pretty easy here once I broke the CODE. Normally i just crank her up in a corner, but no luck there today. But i struck oil in the creamy Oreo center with DWEEZIL, SEVILLE (big cartoon fan once), ROOT BEER, and--once I had the odd "II" combo, WWII VET. Then I spiraled around the nether regions pretty smooth lahk oleo....

DEADHEAD to a pilot means ride in back to get positioned to operate a flight. A lot of that going on for Delta this week as that Atlanta storm led to 3000-odd cancellations all over the system.

I think Mike Nesmith of The Monkees was called WOOL CAP because he insisted on always wearing one.

I remember Faye Dunaway in the movie proudly proclaiming: "We rob banks!" So I had to adjust my original plural answer. Like that LOOKOUT, too.

They never run out of examples for AREOLEs,do they?

Small Town Blogger 8:01 AM  

I had trouble understanding Deadhead too - when I googled it, one definition given was a "boring or ineffective person" so I guess ineffective pull sort of makes sense, buts it's a stretch. The Rabbit of Seville had the theme music running through my head all morning!

Kdunk 8:01 AM  

I briefly thought Jerkwater was a derogatory description of an big jerk. With nothing but the H from THEODORE down there (in the wrong spot), I was tempted to write SH*THEEL. Oops.

Otherwise I found this challenging and then rewarding as each mini-puzzle fell in turn. The last stumper fell as I gave up on which language the name IPHIGENE would be in.

Tita 8:03 AM  

Yes, only knew DEADHEAD from what cabin crew do. Thought naifART was the output. Thought TEASERcD was a thing. If nerds can have whatever XKCD is, then why can't the Brits have that?

But seeing Bugs Bunny in Barber of Seville made up for my fails.

Hey...did anyone notice how similar today's grid is to yesterday's?

@lms...great story.

Glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

Wow! I found this much harder than grumpy @Rex, who found it boring. This was harder for me than yesterday's, which I thought was only medium, and @Rex found unfair. There were several minutes when I was ready to give up today (only the NE came easily), but I'm stubborn on Saturdays. Perhaps because I was successful both days, I liked both puzzles very much; @Rex, not. I guessed DEADHEAD from the "pill" in the clue (a party pooper, dull, boring, prig). The "ineffective" modifier suggests medicine, but I had nothing there. I don't know XKCD or webcmix in general, and couln't remember ABRA's namr, so the SE had to work mostly from acrosses. I was glad to see some old friends here and there. For example, ANIL is an xword cliche, though the clue struck me as fresh. Ditto for NEMO. I needed both to get the downs. @Rex and several posters found this easy, but luckily for me, I didn't.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

On 2 Down: I believe that herbal cigarettes coontain no nicotine, but will produce tar when burned.

Trombone Tom 8:35 AM  

Big surprise! I liked this a lot better than @Rex did. While I agree with some of OFL's criticisms I felt they were easily overcome by the imaginative cluing.

It was hard for me to break into this but I finally got going in the SE with CODE and ABRA. Who could forget Julie and James! Hand up though for starting Bonnie and Clyde's actions in the plural.

I've always heard of DEADHEAD in transportation-related use or in respect to my old friend Phil Lesh's band. Never relating to pills.

And as usual I learned something new: XKCD. I'll have to check that out.

Maybe not quite as crunchy as Friday but still a great run for the money. Thanks Jeff Chen.

Rob 8:41 AM  

I'm no master solver and this seemed awfully easy for a Saturday, even with zero comprehension of the DEADHEAD clue or what "jerkwater" meant. Yesterday was nearly impenetrable for me, so I'm surprised to see anyone thought this one was harder.

I'm with Rex, not terrible but not much really noteworthy. I did like GETS DOWN.

DeeJay 8:45 AM  

An excellent puzzle. I had to look up the xkcd and had Fillmore for Theodore. In fact I think I made nine mistaken entries in the SW before getting it right.

Z 8:47 AM  

@Moly Shu - I beg to differ. Rex is critical 95% of the time, but the notion that critical=negative seems a might overly sensitive. Let's look at the crux of Rex's write-up: "adequate, dull, gunked up in places with crappy fill, and lacking in anything you'd call a stand-out / marquee / original answer." What is there to disagree with? The only really interesting aspect of this entire grid is the rotational symmetry. After that? ANTI-GONE and ANTI-HERO? WWII VET? DEADHEAD? No, Rex is spot on. This is "adequate" and really nothing more. Now, if I thought that calling something "adequate" was being negative I could buy your 95% thesis. But I don't. I think calling something that is adequate "adequate" is perfectly fair, even expected.

Space Is Deep 8:49 AM  

Easy/Medium for me. Never heard of XKCD. The DEADHEAD clue was a complete mystery. I put in the D and came here to see if I guessed right. Now back to trying to finish the Friday puzzle. I'm getting close. Only two letters missing and one word that makes no sense at all.

Teedmn 9:00 AM  

@Tita, the grid similarity to yesterday's puzzle is the first thing I noticed when I printed this out. I thought, "Ah, PB1 and Jeff Chen are puzzle DUELISTs this week".

And I was pretty sure the Friday and Saturday puzzles had been switched at birth when today's started out so easy. (Hey, it wouldn't be the first time puzzles had been mixed up by Will Shortz - a la the ACPT this year :-). ) OPED went in first, after I decided the lack of an abbr. indicator ruled out "ital". Then NERO and ETA like @Rex. Everything flowed smoothly downward from there and over to the NE quadrant. I did consider "cuts a rug" at 5D and with the SH in place at 45A, thought a raSH of some sort might create a "tender spot".

But then the SW happened. The CAN'T FAIL entry of fALl as a counterpart of "rise" for 41D turned my very fast Saturday into an average 26 minute solve.

In fact, I pondered putting in "moSUl" in as a problem to address for 50A because I couldn't think of any other words ending in SUl. I figured this all out but the D of THEODORE was my last entry.

Is "eBayer" an online DEAD HEAD?

Thanks Jeff Chen, NUFF SAID.

Unknown 9:19 AM  

Wow. One of the biggest gaps I've seen between what Rex thought versus almost everyone else. Fun puzzle. Especially for those of us who savor puzzles and don't care about our times. Well constructed, Mr. Chen.

Nancy 9:21 AM  

ANTIGONE (the crosses of which I quickly checked) enabled me to gallop through the NW, so I anticipated a "too easy" puzzle for a Saturday. The midsection was pretty easy too. Then I hit the SW, where I had nothing but LEST. So had to re-enter in the NE with WATT. I ended up finding this Medium. Although ANTIGONE gave me OP ED (6D) right off the bat, the clue is wonderful. Other great clues for TIMELESS; DUELIST; BIT PART; CASH BOX; WOOL CAP; ROOT BEER; and ONE HORSE. Didn't know that an ineffective pill is called a DEADHEAD. Never heard of XKCD. Struggled forever to think of what kind of 4-letter ART Grandma Moses painted. Had DUELLER [sic] before DUELIST, and was grumbling about the 2-L spelling. (ANTIHERO enabled me to correct.) Pulled NETIZEN out of my you-know-where. (It's one of the few Internet coinages I like, btw.) While I didn't "suffer" quite enough to love this puzzle, I liked it a lot. Why can't all contructors clue like this?

QuasiMojo 9:29 AM  

I liked this puzzle despite a few clumsy clues. You can't go wrong by starting with "Antigone." I dislike the word "donee" but it's not as bad as "tutee" which really isn't a word. "Duelist" was fun as was "Gets Down." This puzzle did have some life to it. I also threw in "Fillmore" only to realize as I did that there aren't any Presidents named Williams. Not yet. I thought the clue for "Timeless" was clever and I loved seeing "jerkwater" turned into "onehorse." I usually use "deadhead" as a verb. My only bugaboo today is that "Tie Score" for 50-50 makes sense but it would only happen rarely. Pooh. Bah!

kitshef 9:34 AM  

We lost the farm, thanks to @Rex's reckless advice yesterday, although it was close.

Tore through this like a Monday until I hit the SW, which took longer than the rest of the puzzle combined. Among my adventures there:
fillmORE before THEODORE
spa before COT
NEMO went in, came out, went in again, came out again, and went in to stay.
fALl before DALE
ArIL went in, came out, went in came out, went in, and finally, as the last square of the puzzle, got changed to ANIL.

Because 80% of the puzzle was a challengeless blur, I got no pleasure out of it. I did enjoy the struggle in the SW, overall, I have to agree it was not a good puzzle.

I would be happy to have learned a new meaning for DEAD HEAD, except that this seems to be an utter fabrication.

RooMonster 9:49 AM  

Hey All !
Found N easier than S. Had CASHier for way too long mucking up the SE. That SW was nasty, but looking back now, not sure exactly why. Actually had to cheat for NEMO, even after seeing "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" countless times. There is a weirdly odd clue for TIMELESS, though. And agree with all the DEADHEADs. WTH?

Was looking for the pangram after the Q Z W V center, but no J or Y. (Odd on the Y...)

Had pOOLCue first for WOOLCAP, and was "scratching my head" about how that was correct! Other writeovers, likEThat-ETCETERA (side Rant, when people abbr. ETCETERA as ECT. it really ticks me off), wEbIZEN-NETIZEN, CASHier-CASHBar-CASHBOX, fALl-DALE. Never heard of XKCD, but don't watch any kind of Web-based shows.

LOOKOUT, CANT FAIL (famous last words...)

Passing Shot 9:50 AM  

Liked it, perhaps because I was able to finish a Saturday for once with a minimum of cheating (had to check ANIL). Several clues seemed a bit off -- DEADHEAD? MAKES DO? -- but the cluing for OP ED, ROOT BEER, and CASHBOX make up for that ISSUE.

mathgent 9:54 AM  

Another 62-worker with only four Terrible Threes. Bravo!

Very nice puzzle but somehow it felt a little flat. But still I enjoy Jeff Chen's solo efforts over his collaborations.

BBA 10:12 AM  

re XKCD: I'm guessing that yesterday's PENNYARCADE was originally clued as a reference to the online comic, but was rejected as too obscure.

Tim Pierce 10:14 AM  

And DEADHEAD means what now? [Ineffective pill]? I know *two* meanings of DEADHEAD, and that ain't one.


Definition of deadhead
1 : one who has not paid for a ticket
2 : a dull or stupid person

Now you know three! :-)

Norm C. 10:17 AM  

What? No mention of POOHBAH?

PhiskPhan 10:18 AM  

This was one of the easiest puzzles I've ever done. My time was my best ever, and I just flew through it -- I think because the clues for the non-Einstein stuff had no "trickery" to them at all. What a disappointment.

Brian 10:20 AM  

ABRA could be viewed as A BRA and clued as such. 'Half a two piece" or some such.

David L. 10:21 AM  

Enjoyed this one. Had Netuser before Dweezil changed the s to a z. Had Nodule before Areole. Figured jerkwater would be the word of the day - do people really know that term?

Tim Pierce 10:24 AM  

Some nice clues here:

* 13A: Sitter's charge, maybe -- I was taken in by the dual meanings of "charge" for a while.
* 15A: "You get the idea" -- great way to clue ET CETERA, which usually gets a much more staid tone
* 21A: Hires for a float? -- With the EE from gimmes SEVILLE and DWEEZIL, this wasn't that challenging but brought a smile to my face.
* 28D: Jerkwater -- I don't recall ever seeing "one-horse" presented as an adjective by itself, but the clue is both perfect and non-obvious.

I also found plenty to give me pleasure to offset some of the unfortunate fill, like ONE HORSE, CANT FAIL, NUFF SAID, POOHBAH, TEASER AD. ET CETERA.

As for DEADHEAD, that was not even slightly a challenge once DE---EAD was in there. :-)

Hartley70 10:31 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle until I-Could-Not-Get-The-SW. I had THEODORE and I had naifART. Finding NEMO wasn't happening. I'm assuming this is not the cute fish here. I was looking for an African sailor.

ANIL and AREOLE needed crosses. I finally gave up and googled Maya blue which gave me "clay". Hotels charge for COTs? What a total rook. Just bring a sleeping bag.

This might have made me cranky, but then I read Loren's sweet story of innocence and I felt much better.

The Clerk 11:01 AM  

Very enjoyable solve. SW was tough but fair. Kept wanting ---K-RT to be a gokart ridden by the elderly lady.

turkmurphy 11:16 AM  

Cluing inffective pill with a Grateful Dead fan was cute

Phil 11:25 AM  

@LMS That was a great confession, made me chuckle.

pmdm 11:33 AM  

Brad Guck: I noticed the difference also. Moly Shu suggests there is some personal jealousy at work. I suspect not, but I guess it does get you thinking. Z's response to Moly Shu makes a good point. Mr. Chen seems to say in his comments about today's puzzle that he understands that a wide range of solvers exists and he tries to make his puzzles please in part all of them. Perhaps when you try to please everyone, most will find the puzzle as merely adequate. Based on the comments so far, I think I counted only three negative, which to me would suggest that the puzzle is a bit more than adequate and certainly is not dull. I guess it's like a radio program that broadcasts a wide variety of musical styles. A given program will air stuff you like but also stuff you don't like, and you'd probably not call it a great program. I guess trying to be inclusive does have its problems.

The Rabbit of Seville is a classic. I hate to say, but they don't make cartoons like it any more. I love the 2D drawing that pulls me into the alternate world of cartoonland. I wish WB (or whatever the company is called these days) would restart the animation studio. But without Chuck Jones et. al. I wonder if it would be that good.

TimJim 11:36 AM  

I thought the puzzle was fine,, except for the bottom-right Natick that others have mentioned. Thanks, Jeff!

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

I still don't get DEADHEAD from ineffective pill. I know, and knew, that a deadhead could be a person or employee who doesn't carry their weight, but where does pill come from? A pill is a "a disagreeable or tiresome person" (Merriam-Webster), but how is that relevant a DEADHEAD?

Lewis 11:42 AM  

@rex -- Yep. Changing FILLMORE to THEODORE opened up the whole SW for me.

Solid and enjoyable for me. There were lots of answers I liked -- MAKESDO, CANTFAIL, DWEEZIL, TEASERAD, and BITPART, and some clever cluing (BITPART, TIMELESS). It was a little easy for a Saturday for me, but it wasn't easy, due to cluing made with care. I always get the feeling that Jeff puts lots of time and effort into every square, and it pays off. This was not a "whiff" for me, Jeff, and I look forward to your next 62-worder!

Phil Schifley 11:51 AM  

Gordon Gekko isn't an anti-hero. He's the villain in Wall Street. Greed is not good, and nothing about that character is redemptive. And if this is referring to the sequel I never saw that, and that's analogous to calling Darth Vader the good guy because of the last 15 minutes of the 3rd movie. Guy's a schmuck and that's that

old timer 12:04 PM  

"I know Rex despises Jeff Chen," I said to myself, "So I wonder what insane drivel he will write about this excellent puzzle?" But on reflection, about half the criticisms are spot-on. DEADHEAD, it seems, is not used to describe ineffective pharmaceuticals. Or, IMO ineffective people. NETIZEN wasn't that amusing when it was first used, and is super-outdated now. And I hope I never see Ms. ABRA again.

OTOH, OFL's criticism of XKCD is maybe the silliest thing he ever wrote. If he reads the comments, he must know that all of us regulars, or almost all I'm sure, go right from the finished puzzle to read the pearls of wisdom on his site. We don't look at other sites, hence are in no danger of getting an answer from our comix friends if we have any. I know, OFL has Twitter. I bet most of us don't. It's useful for him of course, and amusing for us when he quotes the tweets. But if I had Twitter I would not check it before coming here, for fear I would be upset by some new inanity from the President.

Yesterday's puzzle was a bit harder and IMO much more fair and satisfying to finish. Personally I thought the SW was the easiest segment, with THEODORE crossed by LOOKOUT and lots of easy short fill. In the SE, I took surprisingly long to suss out ADRIATIC but once I got that the rest was Easy. However, in the NE I only had DUELIST and the very incorrect "Quarts". QUOTAS finally set me straight. In the NW, OPED and NERO and ETA made the segment Wednesdayish, as was the SE for me. But it occurs to me that some solvers probably can't recite their Presidents in order. I knew William Howard Taft and soon remembered the other William, the one whose war made THEODORE famous throughout the land as Colonel of the Rough Riders.

Nancy 12:09 PM  

For those of you who get the NYT Sunday Mag (or who can get it online), don't miss "Marching Bands" -- the Variety puzzle by Joel Faliano. This one's easier than some of them, because it's much fairer, with virtually no proper names. Doing them is always a bit like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. They're such fun.

Wonderful anecdote, Loren! It's hard to believe that anyone was ever that innocent. Would such a thing even be possible in today's "seen it all, if not in real life then at least online" youth culture?

Which brings me to the wonderfully delightful RABBIT OF SEVILLE. A kids' cartoon that draws on a knowledge of opera in order to appreciate the wordplay! Wow! But that was then and this is now. Today's kids' cartoon character would probably be based on some ghastly textspeak pun. Sigh.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 12:15 PM  

Oh Rex, another 'strongly disagree' from here. But nothing anyone says can spoil my good mood when I finish both Friday and Saturday without help/cheats. 28D was my favorite because it is the closest the place of my birth will ever come to crossword (or any other) recognition.

cwf 12:18 PM  

Yeah, I liked this one a lot more than @Rex did. And I take umbrage at the venom directed at "internet nerds." What, are we in junior high school again? (And this coming from someone who has run a blog on the internet for over a decade.) Seeing XKCD made me smile and I didn't even spoil it for my one hundred and three twitter followers.

GILL I. 12:27 PM  

Yesterday was the elegant stand-by black dress, today this felt like some comfortable Manolo loafers. Adequate? Of course it is. This felt fresh and alive. When ROOT BEER is your seed entry, how can you not smile. And then you have Grandma Moses....! I bet most of you have received a Christmas card with one of her quaint countryside depictions - you know, kids holding hands, skating on ponds with puppy dogs, the milk man delivering your fresh produce from a covered wagon....She was the queen of naive/folk art. I believe she died in her hundreds and I know for sure, God let her through his pearly gates.
I spent about 30 years of my life being a DEADHEAD. Like @evil, this word is common for airline personnel. We never paid for a ticket in our lives....and we're cheap and we always want to be put in first class...
Had TWAT for PRAT, SONYA for SONIA, PSST for AHEM but all of these was very easy to fix.
I like ANTI GONE and ANTI HERO as well as NERO NEMO.
DWEEZIL...Ah yes, when it's so much fun to saddle your child with your own angst. Let's see, we have Blanket, Moon Unit, Diva Thin Muffin and Stalone's Sage Moonblood. I think Kanye should name his next child NUFFSAID.

Bill L. 12:37 PM  

Much easier than yesterday for me until I hit the SW corner where I stalled. Tried hard to turn the only-know-it-from-crosswords yegg into a 7-letter word for the heist crew member. FOLK ART finally cracked it open for the finish.

In the pumping world, pressure and head are synonymous. A pump is DEAD-HEADed when the discharge is closed by a valve or other blockage causing liquid in the volute to heat up until it flashes to vapor, and usually results in damage to the bearings and seals, if it doesn't totally destroy the whole pump.

Anoa Bob 12:41 PM  

The video game bomber silhouettes from yesterday have picked up some wingmen. Looks like a fighter & a tanker flying along side each one, off to destroy the evil-doers of the world.

Liked CASH BOX on top of ROB A BANK.

Thought DEADHEAD was someone who followed the Grateful Dead around to all their concerts.

Again a gentle reminder to fellow Rexites that giving credit or blame to the constructor vs the editor for clues, without first-hand knowledge, is tricky. Clueing is where editors are most likely to do some, erm, editing. Having as many as half of the originally submitted clues changed by the editor before publication would not be uncommon.


Mohair Sam 1:04 PM  

Fun Saturday, have no idea what's buggin' OFL lately. Two quality themeless efforts in a row from two top constructors. I'm not quite sure why Rex is mad at the XKCD entry, and I guess NETIZEN is too old (sigh). Lots of clever cluing and nifty misdirects. We might have crashed and burned in the SW but Lady M pulled AREOLE (yes @Evil, a thousand clues) out of the air to join THEODORE and we survived.

Didn't Al Gore brag about once having been a DEADHEAD? I prefer my politicians into Springsteen or maybe U2, if you know what I mean. Don't do caffeine in this house, so I'm a ROOTBEER aficionado - anything you need to know, I'm here. Fillmore is a last name, you should never have fallen for it! Speaking of that clue, recently read a book entitled "The Imperial Cruise" which paints old Teddy as quite the racist.

Read recently that "East of Eden" was Steinbeck's favorite Steinbeck. Mine too.

@LMS - Please. I have tried Bovril, and it's fine. And yes, I understand you like living on the edge. But this MARMITE thing may be a bridge too far. I have been to that particular Hell, do not do this to yourself.

OISK 1:27 PM  

Have no idea what a Dweezil is, but I know that for most here, "Zappa" means something other than a device for killing insects. That it crossed "Netizen," a word that I didn't think existed, made it an informed guess for me, but a fair one. No complaint. My big complaint, and I guess many are tired of hearing this from me is "XKCD". I have no idea what that stands for, but when EVERY letter could be ANY letter, the crosses have to be unambiguous. And that means that the clue for "dead head" needed to be a lot less obscure than "Ineffective pill." I was tempted to try "dead heal," ( a pill that doesn't work, right?) but fortunately did not, giving me a clean weekend.

While I am nit-picking, I love geographical clues, but Croatia is a fairly large country. Its capital is nowhere near the Adriatic. Cluing "Adriatic" with "Croatia is on it " would be like cluing "Atlantic" with "Argentina is on it." So much better would have been "Split" is on it, or Dubrovnik, or Bari...

Joe Bleaux 1:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Gilstrap 1:48 PM  

This turned into a pm/am solve for this sleepy HEAD. The SW quadrant just sat there throughout the night and even into dawn's early light. I was barking up the same wrong trees that many have mentioned. "Guaranteed-to-fly" resulted in surefire/spa and FillmORE sure didn't provide relief. And then in the other corner, a CASHBar is a spot for a bar tender, and the clue for 47D offered no help. DEAD HEAD is what shuttled flight crews do. It's Saturday, after all.

Does Bugs Bunny mispronounce "Figaro"? Off to you tube.

Masked and Anonymous 1:49 PM  

First entry: ROOTBEER. Last entry: DEADHEAL/XKCL, which was my best guess, based on that DEADHEAD woulda been clued different. Wrong again, M&A breath.

This SatPuz played out slightly feistier at our house than yesterday's -- I'm thinkin because of the slightly sneakier clue selection, plus the DEADXKCDHEEL. Three ?-clues yesterday, five of em today, if I counted right. Really admired today's WOOLCAP clue, btw. Had a lotta trouble spellin out DWEEZIL [MOONUNIT is easier].

14 7's and 20 8's. And 4 little weejects. And everything else fallin in-between, on word-length. Sorta makes yah wonder what the theme-dry seed entries were. M&A votes for ROOTBEER, but is biased. Hope it weren't XKCD, like @RP kinda thought. [Don't make me come down there, @Chenmeister.]

staff weeject pick: XCD. Proposed future runtpuz entry, with clue: {Almost anagram of XKCD}. fave fill ins: WWIIVET. POOBAH. Har-ful desperation points for: ROBABANK and CANTFAIL. There's yer RAD-eo.

Thanx, Mr. Chen.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Rug Crazy 1:56 PM  

Had POOLCUE for head scratcher , then gave up

Hungry Mother 2:08 PM  

Slooged it out. Haven't thought about "netiquette" in quite a while. Don't read comics anymore, so I had to get DEADHEAD as is.

Happy Pencil 2:18 PM  

Wow, I'm surprised by all the affection here for what was for me a serviceable but ultimately forgettable puzzle. I'd be curious to know what those of you who liked it so much see as the liveliness or creativity in it. ROB A BANK? NETIZEN? NO-TAR? I SEE NOW? I mean, they're all fine, but I really doubt anyone's going to be saying, in a few days' time, "I really loved that Jeff Chen puzzle with the clue for BIT PART?" It's just dull all around.

And sorry, but when WWIIVET is not something you're forced to resort but is actually your seed answer?! Well ... NUFF SAID!

Crane Poole 2:19 PM  

I'm not on your level. I've got to fight for every answer, and change that word and rethink and stare, the ahas followed by the droughts, drop it and come back, another aha and more rethink. Repeat. And then whaddya know? Slew the Saturday in 70 min on the clock - and for me that's a big deal. I have no complaints. Whaddya want, Rex? Whaddya want?

okanaganer 2:29 PM  

@OISK -- Croatia is on the Adriatic like white on rice. Look at how it hogs the eastern coast; the other countries are scrounging for leftovers. Poor Bosnia and Slovenia!

Joe Bleaux 3:22 PM  

I don't recall ever seeing or hearing TUCKER as a present-tense verb. It's always been "tuckerED out," but since no one else flagged it, I guess that's just me. Hand up (and probably 20th thumb down) here on DEADHEAD. And I, too, first went with FILLMORE, but when the crosses ruled it out, I remembered that Mr. Chen tipped me off with the first names in the clue. I finished (barely), in the tough (for me) NW.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

A puzzle like this'll tucker you out....

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

Easy for Saturday - and I liked it.

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

Cool! Another good puzzle. I only do Fri/Sat and it's been a while since we had two good ones like this in a row. I don't understand OFL resentment or dislike of low word count grids - personally I prefer them...

A bit easy for a Saturday though, but a nice bone and enjoyable solve.

Babsy 5:47 PM  

I liked it, but definitely took me longer than yesterday. Fall/vale/dale (finally!) loosened up that crazy, crunchy SW.

Whitey 7:07 PM  

I liked it, too. I couldn't finish; the lower right had some blanks.

So many good WRONG answers here:

DIE YOUNG for "Emulate Bonnie and Clyde"
CUTS A RUG for "Tears up the dance floor"
I BLEW IT or I KNEW IT for "Words accompanying a head slap"
ATM SLOT for "Tender spot?"

Tom4 7:20 PM  


Matthew G. 11:05 AM  

Can't agree with Rex at all on this one. It was great stuff. Jeff Chen is a great clue-writer, and if the fill had weaknesses, I didn't notice them because of the fun clues.

I do not understand why throwing in references to pop culture is supposed to be a good thing but including what is probably the most famous webcomics today is a weakness.

Dragoncat 11:11 AM  

Loved this one but SPLEENY? Really? Very very bad.

rondo 10:31 AM  

Half an hour to get to that very last square, so is it DEADHEAt or DEADHEAD? Got it right, but DEADHEAD means other things to me - plucking faded flower blooms, a certain music fan, or to truck back home without a load. Terrible clue, IMHO. So only one square of write-over this week, must be a record for me.

@spacey is sure to have something to say about WWIIVET, double letter start followed by a RRN followed by a kind of abbr.

Read the book but ABRA is a body shop to me.

With just the T in place, almost jotted in TwopiecE, but held off for TESTSITE. Indeed.

I saw Tanya TUCKER perform live at the Cabooze in Mpls in the 70s wearing black leather pants and a glittery mini-tube top. Yeah baby.


Burma Shave 11:37 AM  


it CANTFAIL and is TIMELESS somehow,
a DUET of AREOLEs I saw,


Anonymous 12:46 PM  

The only definitions of DEADHEAD that occurred to me at the time were 1. (noun) fan of the Grateful Dead, and 2. (verb) to remove spent blossoms from a plant to encourage the growth of fresh ones. Thanks for reminding me about air crew members riding a plane free of charge to an assignment in another city (a sense recently in the news due to the Dr. Dao incident). "Ineffective pill"? Never heard of it; an ineffective pill is a PLACEBO, but I knew right off that wouldn't fit

spacecraft 12:48 PM  

Well, not being a NETIZEN (daily trips to here aside), I had no idea about 47-down, but when that unlikely conglomeration of letters forced their way in there and everything else worked, I just crossed my fingers and hoped. I was thrown off in that corner anyway: Parker and Barrow didn't just ROB "A" BANK--they did it again and again, so the answer should have been ROBbanks. Inkblots ensued.

Actually, the WWIIVET clue led me right to it, it made sense, and somehow I didn't mind it. Go figure. But gimmes were few and far between in this one. Honestly, I'm mystified as to what would make OFL sing a puzzle's praises; I know it's happened (blue moons happen) but I'm glad my job isn't to please him. I'd rather clean out the Aegean stables. For me it was a very challenging and rewarding experience. Triumph factor in the stratosphere.

Entirely missing Ms. TUCKER, I awarded the DOD sash to Julie Harris, who was fetching as ABRA in the James Dean classic. Jeff is rapidly acquiring a PB1-like reputation: CANTFAIL. Birdie.

Diana,LIW 2:28 PM  

When I don't understand an answer and @Rex doesn't explain it, I head over to Bill Butler's site. Fantastic misdirect on DEADHEAD - the "pill" is a "person" who is dull or ineffective. Ha!

I found this much harder than yesterday's lovely PB offering. So did Bill Butler - his time yesterday was about 17 minutes vs. 45 for today.

Enjoyed what I got, but did have to check some of my (wrong) answers, so not a clean solve for me today.

Did get ROBABANK - the clue indicates one is emulating B&C this one time. Me thinks. ROOTBEER was a fav. WOOLCAP was a headscratcher for me. And having "dolt" for PRAT messed me up in that corner.

I wonder what OFL's reviews would look like if he didn't know the constructor's name when solving. Dare ya, @Rex! You might actually like something.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 3:05 PM  

First thought when seeing the grid: "hey, this looks like yesterday's puzzle". Indeed, almost the same pinwheel pattern. Wonder if PB and JC conspired.

My first entries were OPED, NERO, and ETA, followed by AHEM. I liked that "ekes out" was a clue, and in fact liked the whole puzzle. A lot tougher than yesterday's for me. American Presidents and judges are not my forte. However once I sussed out THEODORE, causing me to w/o fALl with DALE, and then corrected CANTlose, the SW was done. Nice clue for TIMELESS.

The SE was the really tough section with the consonant mash-up for some sort of net comic. CASH BAR had to be written over, but ADRIATIC helped a bunch. The only DEFs of DEADHEAD I know have to do with the Grateful DEAD, plucking expired blooms off of rhododendrons, and empty trucks.

Nevertheless, a really nice puzzle, two in a row in fact.

centralscrewtinizer 4:19 PM  

Surefire DNF due to SW despite having THEODORE, FOLKART, and LOOKOUT in place. Having DAwn instead of DALE made me bounce around like a pinball from doubt to doubt.
Even had I finished there, DEADHEAl would have killed me.

Anonymous 6:28 PM  

A stinking pile, loaded with incomprehensible pissers. Rejected.

strayling 8:06 PM  

DEADHEAD seems to me to be a straightforward cryptic:

Dead = ineffective
Pill = head (outdated slang)

It was a bit surprising to see it in the NYT puzzle. Pleasantly surprising.

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Question for Rex - why do you spend time doing these puzzles if you don't enjoy them?

chipschap 5:18 PM  

Rex continues his negativity streak. Maybe he'd be better off with whatever is today's equivalent of the TV Guide crossword.

I thought this was an enjoyable and good puzzle although I too question 'deadhead'. I liked things such as 'wwiivet' and 'robabank'. Several clever multi-word answers in this one.

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