Hannibal's men / SAT 4-29-17 / Fictional spy who first appeared in Call for Dead / Writer with given names Robert Lawrence / Capital for King Zog / Brisk competitor / Augmenting old-style

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: GEORGE SMILEY (36A: Fictional spy who first appeared in "Call for the Dead") —
George Smiley is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Smiley is a career intelligence officer with "The Circus", the British overseas intelligence agency. He is a central character in the novels Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People, and a supporting character in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Looking Glass War and The Secret Pilgrim. (wikipedia)
• • •

Whole lot of nothin' at first, and then I went on this weird loping excursion across the grid (unusual—very unusual on a Saturday):

 [note the humiliating misspelling of ABATTOIR]

Aside from that cluster in the North, the first answer I was sure of was ABATTOIR, which luckily I at least partially spelled correctly. Filled some stuff in around its tail end, and bing bam boom I'm way down in the SE corner. From this point on, I generally had enough leverage to work my way through the grid without much trouble. SE corner filled up pretty fast, and once DEAD GIVEAWAY (21D: It's pretty obvious) floated up, that fat, open center became far more tractable, far less daunting. Took me a while to get MARILYN MONROE (15D: Famed Pop Art subject) because I (very) wrongly assumed 13A: Hannibal's men ended in an "S," which gave me the wrong initial letter for the MARILYN answer. I knew -SMILEY (read "Smiley's People" a couple years back) but totally forgot his first name, so getting into the SW corner was a little tricky. Had SUMMERED for WINTERED at 11D: Spent a season in the sun? for a bit, and needed nearly ever cross for NATANT (18A: Swimming), an actual word that I've never seen used anywhere. Biggest problem spot of the day was easily the NW, where [Hannibal's men] ("THE A-TEAM") just destroyed me, and --ART- sent my pattern recognition program straight to ECARTE (3D: Trick-taking card game). Like HEARTS, ECARTE is Also A Trick-Taking Game. Ugh. But at the end of the solve, I was a little bit under 9 minutes—very average for a Saturday. Maybe even a hair's breadth faster than usual. I quite liked this one. The center came out really very good. Connective tissue is mostly strong, with DURA/ITSA being the only weak spot.

I think I mentioned that erstwhile crossword plagiarist Timothy Parker was back publishing puzzles for Universal (a widely syndicated crossword). I thought you'd like to see his latest creation, which is ... notable? ... for two things. One, its theme—the title is "Initial Sandwich"; see if you can figure out why. And while you're at it, please admire the second notable feature—a truly stellar clue (in the blue strip, up top) for SNOB:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


aaron 12:09 AM  

Fun, tricky puzzle. I love when Saturdays go all out with stuff like OOSPORES. The last two across clues (YES AND) create an accidental improv reference.

jae 12:15 AM  

Mostly easy for me except for the NE. NATANT crossing ABATTOIR (unlike @Rex a WOE for me) was rough, and SAN was not obvious. Fortunately (unlike @Rex) I've run across NATANT before in crosswords. Other than that, cake.

LOESS is another only from crosswords answer.

A fine Sat. with a zippy center, nice one MAS!

Charles Flaster 12:21 AM  

Excellent offering from a very talented creator.
Loved cluing for TEX and CRAB.
Similar to Rex in that DEAD GIVEAWAY opened up the entire puzzle.
The four corners were easy to get.
Knew NATANT from "natatorium".
Lawrence of ARABIA is in my top five all time movies with the most haunting of scores.
Thanks MAS

John Child 12:31 AM  

Fun from MAS. I really liked this one but wanted more as I finished in just half of average Saturday time, faster than either Thursday or Friday this week. Dropping MARILYN MONROE off the R in GIRD sent me off with a bang. NATANT was new, but I knew that a swimming pool is a natatorium, so it made sense.

Brian 12:41 AM  

This was a fun one. Took me a while to find a foothold until I got to the SE, and then MARILYN MONROE opened up the center. I had the same trouble in the NW as REX, and that's where I finished - I had no idea on EKING and who M. Poirot was, and I initially had dOuLAS for KOALAS, which tripped me up on getting CAPITALISTIC.

Completely blindsided (in a good way) by THE ATEAM until I had just a couple letters left, and felt dumb for racking my brain on military history.

Really great balance on things I wasn't familiar with but were doable through crosses and/or educated guesses, especially EAU DE VIE, OOSPORES, TIRANA, ABATTOIR, and GEORGE SMILEY.

puzzlehoarder 12:47 AM  

This was easier than yesterday's puzzle but that's partially due to being at home and solving on paper. I started in earnest in the NE and got DILLYDALLIES immediately. The other long crosses were slower. I filled in the SE first and that made MARILYNMONROE obvious. So two of the six long answers were first guess material the other four made me work. I had to come up with MEACULPA before I could finish off CAPITALISTIC. The NW was the last section to fill in. My blindest moment was having the HEA of 3D and never having HEARTS crosses my mind. I actually had to work around it. This was a nice steady solve to a clean grid

Robin 12:53 AM  

Scanned through the clues and somehow ended up starting this one off TIRANA. Worked from SW up to NE, then filled in the SE and finished off with the NW. Finished in half my average Saturday time.

Somehow I knew what 36A was going to be even thought I'm not aware of that particular story, so once I had the initial G, I just wrote that one across. There could only be two possible answers for famed Pop Art subject, and CAMPBELLSSOUPCAN wasn't going to work.

Every Tear Becomes a Rose 1:00 AM  

Too easy c'mon Will don't dumb it down. NYT Saturday is supposed to be challenging.

Johnny 1:06 AM  

Boy the center and NW of this puzzle held out like renegades, despite having lots of correct crosses.

I too had put a "helpful" S at the end of 13A (Hannibal's men) and that just killed me: I had S_R_LYNM___OE and I still couldn't see 15D. That S seemed to really obliterate pattern recognition, which to me is always a little weaker in the downs, and that LYNM just seemed like mush. Once I got the OE I finally saw that the S might be wrong. The MARILYNMONROE answer just opens up everything else.

Erik 1:16 AM  

Too much croswordese and today little payoff for my tastes.

This one was for the Old folks, who WINTERED someplace warm, reminiscing of the early 1960s

Anonymous 1:33 AM  

Another fine Sat put from the NYT. I liked what everyone else liked, and i liked what they didn't like, too.

Guess we're seeing a new target for the wrath of Rex. Possible reason to change the title to "Rex Parker Does the NTY Crossword Puzzle and takes potshots at the Universal Puzzle."

I say, "give it a rest."


Dolgo 2:21 AM  

Yeah, I thought this was pretty easy. The only comment I have to contribute is something a genealogist said when Nixon was elected. He was supposedly twelfth in line for the Albanian throne if King Zog (still alive then, but in exile after WWII) died. I've always regretted not following that up.

Dolgo 2:33 AM  

Oh. Here's one more fun fact you'll probably never get to use at a cocktail party. King Zog (formerly Ahmed Zogu) was one of those generals who declared himself monarch after a military coup, like the Shah of Iran's father. The only Albanian-Americans of note I know of are John and Jim Belushi. The pedant in residence thought you'd like to know.

chefwen 2:41 AM  

David Steinberg on Friday, MAS on Saturday, normally I would have retreated to a corner whimpering and whining, but they were both very kind and fair. It took two of us, but we knocked them out.

Puzzle partner put in bridge at 3D, which I thought was a little too easy for Saturday, but I left it in, really messed us up in the NW. MEA CULPA set us on the right path.

Hopeful that Sunday's puzzle will offer the same amount of entertainment.

Larry Gilstrap 2:52 AM  

What's not to like about this Saturday effort? I expect some push back late in the week and, guess what? I'm no constructor, but not a lot of black squares in this grid. That's a good thing.

Somehow, I came up with DILLY DALLIES and got the crossing MARILYN MONROE, who is the icon of feminine beauty in American culture, and has been for decades. LOESS just drops in as good earth, and I don't know why. CAPITALISTIC is now a competition. He who dies with the most toys wins! Still dead, but winning. So many units of explosive capacity prefixes, and I tried them all until GEORGE raised his head.

Birding is big in the desert, not a lot of trees to block the view. We have had a Great Horned Owl boldly setting up house in a palm tree smack dab in the middle of Club Circle Condo Complex. A delight to watch and not included in HOA fees. The joys of nature for free. Many snow birds WINTERED here this season and loved it, but are now back in WA, OR, ID, BC, and Alberta. See you in the fall.

Anonymous 3:22 AM  

Thought I was struggling, but then surprised by a time that was two-thirds my average. ScOpES before STOVES. I thought Zog might be Biblical, but that's Og! I have to Google LOESS now. (Should we tell @Dolgo about the Kardashian's?)

joebloggs 4:32 AM  

Mother Teresa was born to ethnic Albanian parents.

joebloggs 4:37 AM  

How is acne in and of itself an explosion? Only when a pimple is popped can that possibly be considered an explosion. I think that's quite a stretch for that clue...

Muscato 5:41 AM  

The Zog family were/are a colorful lot. I've always liked that his consort was Queen Geraldine, a former typist the King apparently met in, if memory serves, Budapest. Later, when times got bad, the family escaped TIRANA in the royal station wagon, with the newborn crown prince and, supposedly, much of the Albanian treasury in the back seat. Later in life, the pretender (Lek? Forgotten his name) married a nice South African girl who became Queen Susan. I always recall a rather catty magazine profile that said that the couple were united principally by a shared love of guns and chain smoking...

sf27shirley 6:29 AM  

Why is "San" a title of politeness?

Hartley70 6:41 AM  

This MAS beauty was right up my alley and I got huge boost when my first two answers were MARILYNMONROE and GEORGESMILEY. Meeting GEORGE there was like bumping into an old friend at rush hour in Grand Central. So much to remember with so little time.

That is not to say that any puzzle that contains LOESS and OOSPORES and King Zog could be considered easy. I had my troubles in the SE and SW corners. The SENSE/import connection was difficult and I've never heard of Brisk. Of course I'm not sure what NESTEA is either, although I'm familiar with NEScafe. I'm guessing instant tea granules, but isn't a tea bag pretty instant all by itself? I've never gotten into the tea/coffee experience which has made me a bit of an outlier nowadays, but saved me a lot of dough once Starbucks changed the landscape.

I'm still not grasping GEE as "the right way". All that came to mind was Tom Gee who was a year ahead of me in high school. He was a model student, but it wasn't a help.

My favorite entry was the delightful DILLYDALLIES. It's familiar yet silly and I'm thinking now that it may be falling out of use. I hope not, but I can't recall hearing my children use it. I'm going to sneak it into a conversation today to do what I can to keep it alive.

Thank you, Mr. Shortz.

Brad 6:46 AM  

It sure is in Japan

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

I agree with Rex. A fine Saturday puzzle brought to us from MAS and Mr Will Shortz.

Thomaso808 7:13 AM  

Gee is right and haw is left -- a very enduring dog sled event from Jack London's The Call of the Wild. I think it generally also applies to oxen, horses, etc. in plowing and such. Good puzzle.

Glimmerglass 7:17 AM  

Nice review, Rex. This one went easier for me than for you, and before coming here I was afraid you would dismiss it as too easy (I was feeling clever and smug). ASH crossing HEARTS went in smoothly right off the bat. I enjoyed reading about your troubles and successes. I loved the clues for THE A TEAM, SAN, MEA CULPA, GEE, TIRANA (I was looking for a comic book king), SHEESH, and TONE. There was some misdirection in the clue for SDS. The New Left was new in the 1960's.

Mike in Mountain View 7:42 AM  

Thanks, MAS. Fun, clean Saturday puzzle. It was a bit on the easy side, but not ridiculously so, and there's a fine line between easy and hard in a puzzle like this where once you get a long answer across the middle it all falls together.

I like the initial sandwich, Rex, because PB&J. Agreed that it's a paper thin theme and that the clue for snob is hilarious.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Alt-Left was born during the last eight years.

BarbieBarbie 7:50 AM  

@joebloggs, each pimple is called an eruption. Not because it explodes, eewww.
Like others, felt medium but finished fast. Lots of do overs. And I kept staring at 15D and wondering how to fit Campbell's soup cans in there. At least I had the right painter.
@sf27shirley, I would be Barbie-san in Japan. Well, actually I would probably be Mattel-san, but at least my boyfriend would be Ken-san.

evil doug 7:55 AM  

Far superior to those (in)famous quad stack puzzles. This grid had more rhythm, more pace, than those tiresome edge-to-edge blocks he seemed to settle for in order to erect his stacks.

Fell in love with spAdeS--worked with MEA CULPA, and the incorrect 'jade' green.

ABATTOIR is one of those odd words that has stuck with me. Defenestration,too. Maybe because they sound so much more sophisticated and fancy than what they mean....

Remember when halfback Tom MATTE had to play quarterback for the Colts?

Not that hard, I would think, to get SMILEY to fit in the grid. GEORGE? Maybe a touch more challenging. But to get this literary star's whole name in there? That's nice work.

evil doug 7:57 AM  

Far superior to those (in)famous quad stack puzzles. This grid had more rhythm, more pace, than those tiresome edge-to-edge blocks he seemed to settle for in order to erect his stacks.

Fell in love with spAdeS--worked with MEA CULPA, and the incorrect 'jade' green.

ABATTOIR is one of those odd words that has stuck with me. Defenestration,too. Maybe because they sound so much more sophisticated and fancy than what they mean....

Remember when halfback Tom MATTE had to play quarterback for the Colts?

Not that hard, I would think, to get SMILEY to fit in the grid. GEORGE? Maybe a touch more challenging. But to get this literary star's whole name in there? That's nice work.

Space Is Deep 8:32 AM  

Fun and fast. Easier than the Friday puzzle. Unlike Rex, The second A in ABATTOIR was the last letter to go in. Favorite answer was DILLYDALLIES.

Eric NC 8:59 AM  

@joebloggs. I'm sure many teens who suddenly have an explosion of ugly spots in their faces would agree to explosion.

Tita 9:01 AM  

@Hartley...love your Grand Central at rush hour analogy...

@Larry G...I tried meGA, toyed with kIlo, finally realized GIGA.

Thought King Zog reigned on Krypton, so didn't bother trying to wrest the name from my memory banks.
As dumb as that made me feel, reading all the great information posted here makes me feel even dumber.

@MAS...I think your most diabolical misdirect today was the clue for AAA. Only well after solving do I see that it refers not to a chemical bond.

Picking up my mom today to work on a smocked romper for her great granddaughter hoping to get it to her while it still fits. Ever notice how fast babies grow?

Hungry Mother 9:02 AM  

One letter short of victory today.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Oh, the pain Rex must have suffered to choke out the mildest of compliments for this gem.

Nancy 9:25 AM  

Loved it! I had to wander over to the teensy tiny little BBC at 4A to get a toehold. I was thinking of the Hannibal-with-the-elephants way, way back in the day, so never would have gotten THE A TEAM from that clue (13A). I have absolutely no idea who this Hannibal is, but it doesn't matter because the answer came in.

Who here had SIR before SAN at 7D? Everyone? But, fortunately, there's no such place as iRABIA.

I had USeful before USABLE at 26D. But the wonderful DILLY DALLIES straightened me out.

At 2D, we had one of @Loren's favorite words. It's not a word I've ever said or heard in real life, but thanks to Loren, I filled it in, based on only the final H from EHS. Thanks, Loren. I really, really needed it.

Very enjoyable. And while I certainly wasn't especially speedy solving it, it was still over too soon.

QuasiMojo 9:26 AM  

Touché to Martin Ashwood Smith for a solid Saturday. Some great stuff in here. I started out in the SW with "emoted" and "eau de vie" and then up into the thick of it. The NE had me flummoxed for a time as I insisted on keeping JADE for green too long. Also I have never seen The A Team, so I had no idea there was someone named Hannibal in it. I wanted Hannibal the city (isn't that where Mark Twain was born?) but that didn't fit. I even tried Miss Team, in a fit of desperation. But then it all fell into place. Speaking of Hannibal, I also tried to squeeze in "cannibalistic" for "competitive." (I saw Silence of the Lambs the other night as a way of paying tribute to Jonathan Demme. I didn't think it held up very well. Mea culpa...)

I loved seeing R. J. Stine in the puzzle, as well as "abattoir" (only the French could come up with such a nice word for such a horrible place.)

"Belg" for Poirot seemed a bit overly curt. I imagine he would curl his lip at it.

As for George Smiley, all I can say is if you ever have insomnia watch "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" with Richard Burton. It's like watching green paint dry.

Mr. Benson 9:38 AM  

Some self-imposed difficulty today. I resisted BBC at 4A because I thought the "C" stood for channel, which was a word in the clue. (I see now that it stands for corporation.)

Still finished, but I would call this one challenging for me -- never heard of GEORGE SMILEY, never heard the word NATANT (had to go through the alphabet for the SAN crossing, which gave me my last letter), needed crosses for the likes of STINE and EAU DE VIE, etc.

RooMonster 9:39 AM  

Hey All !
Put me in the camp of not-as-easy-as-y'all-said. I found it quite challenging. As a not-much-into-books person, GEORGE SMILEY was a WOE. Did puz online today, so use of Check feature... um, featured alot in my solve. Helps with writeovers, as the meGATON to GIGATIN answer.

NE toughies, NATANT, ABATTOIR, SAN. SE toughies, EAUDEVIE. SW toughies, TIRANA, ODESSA, SENSE (as clued).

Agree with the nice misdirect of Hannibal clue. Thinking of the actual Hannibal. Then THEATEAM pops in. Har. I guess he found them. (Joke from intro of TV show... in case you think I've lost my mind!) Had bridge for HEARTS, then thought of spAdeS.

OOSPORES was cool. Anything starting with OO is neat. Had the __SPORES, and knew it could only be OO. LOESS is a big WOE. BTU also as clued.

Overall, a nice SatPuz with nice crossing stagger steps. Dreckless, well, maybe ATMFEE, but we get @Lorsns SHEESH! Cool.


Karla 9:43 AM  

George Smiley had a limited role of The Spy who Came into the Cold.

Played in the movie by Rupert Davies with very little screen time.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

@Tita -- I, too, wanted megATON and kilATON before GIGATON. GIGATON is the biggest explosive force, right? It's the most recently developed explosive force, right? It'll blow the earth to kingdom-come a lot more explosively and completely than the other two, right? Sigh. And double sigh.

@Dolgo and @Muscato -- I found your tidbits about King Zog extremely colorful. @Dolgo -- you can be my "pedant in residence" any time.

@Larry Gilstrap -- Where do you live? I'm frustrated I can't find it on your blog profile; it sounds like a beautiful place to WINTER.

"Social media" rant coming; skim or skip as desired. I went to two blog profiles just now -- @Dolgo to find out just where his "pedantry" lies and to @Larry G. to find out where he lives and where I might possibly want to WINTER. In both cases I was blocked out because (I think, but am not entirely sure) I'm not, myself, on Google +. And I'm asking myself Why the bleep should I have to join some social media site I don't want to join in order to see information that an individual has posted on the Internet? What gave Google + (or Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or any of them) the right to set themselves up as gatekeeper? They've got some colossal nerve, that's all I have to say! End of rant.

GILL I. 10:03 AM  

Quiero MAS y MAS. Que fun, but a bit easier than yesterday's.
ABATTOIR is a beautiful sounding word isn't it @evil? I'm guessing the word-smith's had to make it sound like the little piggy is going to piggy heaven instead of becoming bacon.
Why, I don't know, but I thought maybe a KODIAK carries a baby on its back but I like @Brian's DOULAS better. It didn't last long because the Kennedy mistress filled herself in beautifully.
My biggest trouble was with GIGA TON and @Nancy's USEFUL SIR. Just take another sip of coffee and move to another room and the problem is solved.
EAU DE VIE is certainly the water of life - especially after a steak DIANE. CAPITALISTIC society - private ownership - the only way to go.
@Hartley...TEA...! My husband the Brit and his entire family got me to enjoy TEA in the late afternoon. We have it at 4:00 just about every afternoon along with a cake or tort of some kind or maybe a cookie - something sweet. Never use tea bags. Loose English TEA, please and let it steep for a good 12 minutes. It becomes addictive - I promise. Try it someday while you sit outside by the pool!
GEORGE SMILEY makes me SMILE but I don't think a CRAB whines...do you?
Thank you Canadian sounding name, for this delightful Saturday puzzle. YES.

Happy Pencil 10:04 AM  

Great puzzle with some fun answers: DILLY DALLIES, SOUNDING BOARD, MEA CULPA, DEAD GIVEAWAY. Some lesser stuff too, including RATA, BELG, AND, and YES, but I guess that's the price you pay. Was thinking French for "swim" ("natation"), so that helped me there. GEORGE SMILEY popped up, even though I don't think I've ever read one of the novels.

I don't see that this one necessarily skewed older. Seems like a good mix to me, with RL STINE, Andy Warhol, GIGATON, and other answers that just require a degree of basic knowledge. You don't have to have been alive in 1962 (I wasn't) to know Lawrence of ARABIA.

@Thomaso808, thanks for clarifying the GEE clue. I was lost on that one as well.

Teedmn 10:06 AM  

I love @Rex's pointing out the Universal puzzle's "snob" clue for SNOB. Is that not the best misdirection ever? SHEESH.

And I don't feel quite as dumb as I did a bit ago, after finding out I share my ignorance of King Zog with @Tita. I was thinking he might be from Oz, oops!

This puzzle played easy but not fast. I had a very clumpy, lumpy solve with BBC/BTU/BELG/GIRD and a suspicion of ACNE. Then a CRAMP/RATA/MATTE/TEX followed by a ITSA/GAP/ASONE/NAST. Putting all these pieces together was helped by getting MARILYN MONROE off the first R and second O. GE_R_E wasn't screaming GEORGE (GErRiE?) even though I had the SMILEY. But like @LarryGilstrap's experience, GEORGE finally came in from the cold.

And then there was the staring contest in the NE with SA_ facing off _ATANT. After two alphabet runs, I finally thought of the Japanese SAN and was done. But surprisingly, 30 minutes had passed (I blame it on the fact that I eat breakfast on Saturday's while solving).

When I did my one and only dogsledding stint in northern Minnesota (hi @LMS!) we were told to use GEE and haw for right and left but I was never convinced they meant anything to those crazily energetic dogs. The only command they seemed to respond to was HIKE.

Thanks, MAS, it's good to see one of your puzzles again, even if it isn't a stack :-).

Mohair Sam 10:07 AM  

Well 15D said "Famed" so it had to be either MARILYN or Campbell's Soup (same letter count). So I ran the crosses and there was good old GEORGESMILEY and R.L. STINE, and that'll be THEATEAM, and ain't I smart, and I'm almost done!

But Whoa! OOSPORES? TIRANA? ABATTOIR crossing NATANT? The war was on. And how embarrassed am I to tell you how long it took to realize TEX and CORE? And how much time did we lose thinking that the Seneca might have something they call a palace for the Iroquois Nations? EH? (btw, I'm the one who joshed @Quasimojo about overthinking).

Just a fun Saturday, played medium/tough for us. Loved the cluing. Yeah, it was easy in spots - but some great misdirects (Hannibal anyone?) and a nice mix of nasty Saturday stuff.

My first SMILEY book was "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" which I hold is by far the best Cold War spy novel - and I read tons of them.

@Evil Doug - Yup, My grandpop mentions Tom Matte from time to time. And I'm with @Tita in pining for the days when we measured explosions in mere Megatons.

Thanks MAS and Will - great puzzle.

Happy Pencil 10:07 AM  

@GILL I., I assumed it was a reference to a CRABby person, not a crustacean. I've certainly heard lots of crabby people whine -- some even here on this comment board! : )

Two Ponies 10:12 AM  

The Belgian detective I knew, the spy? Not so much.
Thanks to @Dolgo and others re: King Zog. Sounded like a fictional person to me.
Nice Sat. puzzle as I was hoping for.
Useful before usable was a big roadblock to a critical area for awhile.

r.alphbunker 10:14 AM  

Very well done puzzle.

Details are here. (I wish that Rex would give us this level of detail about his solve).

Norm 10:30 AM  

ECARTE was almost a fatal mistake, and I had a had time letting go of it, which is hard to understand in retrospect since I played lots of HEARTS in college, but -- CATEAM just was not going to cut it. MARILYN MONROE was my first entry in the grid as I struggled to find a place to start, but I didn't get much traction from her. ABATTOIR and NATANT (remembered the natatorium just outside Ambleside in England's Lake District) finally got me started, and SHEESH was my final entry. Really liked TONE as an answer since NOTE was oh so close to right.

Leapfinger 10:36 AM  

This was moerr or LOESS what I hoped for when I saw we were to have the treat of a MA-S Satpuzz, a fun construction that makes you think, but falls gracefully before your advances.

Like @Rex, my first toehold was BTU x BBC, then BELGno,maybeBALD? noBELGbecauseGIRD. The R in GIRD was the signal for Ms MONROE because, like @JohnChild, @Robin and other perspicacious artful cognoscenti, I saw straight off that CAMPBELLSSOUPCAN'T. Continued down the diagonal, noting how DALLIES changes when it follows a DILLY. It might have been GEORGES Simenon that made me anticipate 36A would be GEORGES quelqu'un Francais, but the up-side to that is I now have GEORGE SMILEY Cyrus to add to my Horatio Alger Hiss folder.

Re 10D: As an undergrad, I was arty enough to attend the film series that McGill offered, and remember one particular B&W short titled L'ABATTOIR. The image of that butcher in his rubber apron and boots, wading through ankle-deep blood and singing La Mer at the top of his lungs still comes back to me after 5 decades. Despite that, I had to stop and figure out whether ABATTOIR had 2 Bs or 2 Ts.

'smother wrong wants:
possums before KOALAS
LOamS before LOESS
DEAD to rights, just because it fit

Wasn't mad for EHS, but then, you know, Canadian, eh? And then there's 23A. This probably didn't put anyone else's nose out of shape, but for a Chanel No.5 competitor, I was expecting a Guerlain (L'heure Bleu/ Mitsouko) or at least a Lanvin (Arpege/ My Sin). No disrespect to ESTEE Lauter, who was a great businesswoman and of Hungarian extraction to boot, but Youth Dew just doesn't have the same snoot appeal. And that's my two scents' worth.

So, a satisfying if dentition-sparing Saturday solve, but seriously, Martin, do you really know anyone who'd rather WINTERED over Spring Peas??


thursdaysd 10:37 AM  

Was sure Rex would rate this easy as I finished in 21 minutes with no help and I'm a slow solver - I work all the across clues and then all the downs at least once and usually twice. So nice to see it rated medium.

I got off to a fast start with ASH and ATM___ although TunisiAn for the Hannibal clue only lasted until I started on the downs and was pretty sure it was the iconic Marilyn. Also helped by having been to TIRANA, where there is info on King Zog in the main museum, and Odessa, where a funicular runs alongside the Potemkin steps so you don't have to climb them if you don't want to. (Given a choice, go to Odessa!)

Stanley Hudson 10:54 AM  

A fine Saturday puzzle, made even better by a strong and cold Bloody Mary and a bit of wake 'n' bake.


jberg 10:55 AM  

I used to know an Albanian-American guy. He had two pet peeves: prominent Albanians in Boston who pretended to be Italian, and people who thought that Armenians (e.g., the Karsashians) and Albanians were the same.

Anyway, a very nice puzzle. Some of the short fill was a bit forced, but the long answers all fit beautifully.

@Nancy, me to for Sir before SAN.

As for the other Parker, I finally figured out the sandwich part just as I was writing here that I didn't get it. But please, please tell me -- what was the clue for 5A, TAWSE????

The man has to turn out a puzzle every day, and now that he has to construct them himself, I can understand a few oversights - as in writing in the word he had to clue as a reminder, then forgetting to do it. It's a hard life.

Carola 11:02 AM  

Like others, I found the puzzle fun and easy and started out at BBC X BTU + BELG. That quickly opened up the tripart central column and then the three-layer crossing slab, offering lots of opportunities to send out exploratory probes into the corners.
I liked the swimmer's CRAMP crossing NATANT and the mirroring of the two movie sites ARABIA and ODESSA.

QuasiMojo 11:04 AM  

I never said George Smiley had a large part. Just that the movie, in which he appears, however briefly, is a bore. :)

@Leapfinger, I agree about Estee. I was looking for something equally iconic and popular. As for your Horatio Alger Hiss file, how 'bout "Germaine Greer Garson"? You can add Kanin at the end if you like. Haha.

Malsdemare 11:09 AM  

Oh, this was fun. Just the right amount of known answers to help me figure out stuff like DILLYDALLEY, ESTEE, EAUDEVIE, and TIRANA, which almost did me in. OOSPORES was not in my wheelhouse and I've no idea who King Zog is/was (thought he was a comic book character-- Hi, @glimmerglass) so the R was pure guess. What makes this puzzle so wonderful in my view is that almost everything is gettable; looking back, I say "Self, why did this take you so long?" But the solve was deliciously slow as I put in and then took out BRIDGE, doubted ACNE, fretted over SMILEY's first name, wondered about KOALAS. I, too, put that S on Hannibal's men, but loved it when MARILYN showed up and fixed that error. Thanks MAS; good fun.

@QuasiMojo, in my opinion Richard Burton is one of the most over-rated actors of the 20th century. After watching "Becket," I could totally understand Henry's wish to rid himself of that meddlesome priest; the sole question is why he waited so long. Other than "Who's afraid of Virginia Wolff," Burton's movies bore me to tears. But Le Carre's books are gems.

@Andrew from yesterday, thanks for the kind words.

Now to read the second half of the comments.

Hartley70 11:19 AM  

@Anonymous 3:22am, believe me when I tell you I do not want to know this, but the Kardashians are Armenian, not Albanian.

@Muscato, thank you for that hysterical rundown of Albanian rulers. I'm going to remember Queen Geraldine and Queen Susan whether I want to or not.

Nancy 11:29 AM  

@Quasi and @Malsdemare -- I agree that "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold" is one of the most boring movies ever made. But Malsdemare's right -- the book is just fabulous. I always wondered how they could make a movie that bad from a novel that good. I don't think it's Burton's fault, especially; I'd blame the screenwriter and director.

Mals -- the only movie I ever liked Burton in was "Beckett". But that's probably due to the brilliance of both the script and Peter O'Toole. O'Toole is sort of the Fred Astaire of actors: he could perform with the coat rack and make the coat rack look good.

Gridhead 11:29 AM  

Had puTASIDE and threw down peaNutgalleRy for the cross.

Phil 11:35 AM  

MARILYNMONROE fell right in and then I stuck in off the 'N' Ungrounded mic for source of feedback

Malsdemare 11:46 AM  

@Nancy, I agree that O'toole is amazing and he makes the movie work. But Burton is, in my opinion, his usual wooden self.

This discussion of O'Toole has me lusting after a good movie. Hubby and I may need to watch "My favorite year" tonight. I think he DOES perform with a coat rack.

old timer 11:51 AM  

Slow but steady wins the race, as old Aesop said. The cluing was intentionally very difficult. To make things even harder, the puzzle was very segmented. But I will say, "well done" to MAS.

Oddly, my first foothold was TIRANA and the rest of that corner filled in nicely, though I put in "megATON". Only replaced it when I remembered SMILEY's first name was GEORGE. In the SE, hands up for writing "note" before STEAM turned it into a TONE. Hands up for misspelling ABATTOIR at first, too. It's not that charming a word because I assume it comes from the French "a bas" which means "down with" as in "A bas les CAPITALISTes"

I had HEARTS right away. It's what we played as a break from bridge, when I was in high school, and there are few greater thrills in any card game than shooting the moon.

Joe Bleaux 11:51 AM  

That MA-S is a delight. Although a scan of the clues made me think there'd be no point in even starting, I finished in just over ... never mind ... and didn't miss a lick (except I was uncertain of NATANT, which I thought may be natEnt). Quickly abandoning the NE, where I wanted 17A (Fault line?) to be WHODUNIT, and tried not only JADE (hi, @evil doug) but also LIME, MINT, and NILE through 'til ATM FEE eventually set up the correct FERN. I entered instead in the NW, on the easy (because lower-case c in cowboy) TEX, with LATEXES stretching out the corner, to CORE, then on to the excellent DILLY DALLIES. Hand up on first looking for Warhol's soup can before Marilyn emerged. The rest fell steadily (not, mind you, easily). Excellent cluing, couple of fun misdirects, minimal crosswordese (well, LOESS, where LOAMY was expected) -- whaddaya want on a Saturday morning? (Even those who fret over Rex's CRABby attitude didn't have much to work with ... they must've missed the primitive frowny-face hidden in his intro.)

Mohair Sam 12:00 PM  

@Nancy (and @Mals) - Great call on "Spy" - Great book, awful flick. Burton ruined it. Watched him in "The Sandpiper" last night on TCM (for as long as I could stand it), he was terrible there too. Only time I really liked the guy was in "Virginia Woolf."

Back to LeCarre. He seems difficult to put on film. The BBC did a nice job with "Tinker, Tailor, . . . ." in a 1979 mini series starring Alec Guinness as Smiley. But beyond that effort I don't think his books have translated well to screen.

QuasiMojo 12:01 PM  

@Malsdemare, O'Toole is amazing in "The Ruling Class," I recommend it if you haven't seen it, but it's not for everyone. Burton's grim stiff act worked pretty well in "Night of the Iguana."

GHarris 12:03 PM  

Was congratulating myself for finishing a Saturday until I noticed I had left one box empty, the n for natant , so obscure I had to override autocorrect just now to write it. I like to believe I would have gotten it from the cross with SAN but who knows. Yes, evil Doug I remember when Tom Matte had to switch from running back to QB after Johnny U went down. As I recall they put in a lot of running plays to cover for his lack of passing ability.

Leapfinger 12:03 PM  

Is there anything that could make all TIRANA sore as Rex? Anything? Anything at all?

Albanian Kardashians, Hah!!

mathgent 12:14 PM  

Wonderful puzzle. Nineteen red plusses in the margins; the record is twenty.

My only hangup was the NW. The Closer had to come in to see THEATEAM. Is FERN really a shade of green?

Reviewing the clues just now, I agree that it skews old. THEATEAM is the most recent reference. Even though I'm a geezer, I would welcome some more recent stuff. Learning about the current pop culture Is one of the reasons I like doing these things.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

CAMPBELLSSOUP before MARILYNMONROE almost did me in. Medium-hard for me, but I liked it overall.

pwoodfin 12:31 PM  

Eruption. Not explosion

1820 Stone Colonial House 12:40 PM  

Played hard for me because I could not accept that the double O at the beginning of 35 down was correct until SPORES emerged in the southwest. Of course, it didn't help that I boldly threw in ABRILLOPADBOX off the RIL for 15 down.

Unknown 12:53 PM  

Loved the video! Thanks!

Masked and Anonymous 1:04 PM  

@RP: Like that SNOB clue, a lot. It'll no doubt be Universal-ly understood. The PeaBeJay theme seemed a bit moo-cow-easyish for a SatPuz; did U call attention to it, becuz the NYT has perhaps done it before? If they did, bet they didn't use them particular themers, tho.
Four U's, btw.

Clearly yer T.Parker namesake was attemptin a tribute to today's NYTPuz. Obvious similarities:
* 15 x 15 squares.
* Black squares peppered, throughout.
* 4 U's.
* EMS vs. EHS. staff weeject picks!
* Reuse of IN [EATSIN vs. ALLIN].
* French stuff {LYON vs. EAUDEVIE].
* NES mini-theme [NESS vs. NESTEA & OWLSNEST].
* Both puzs have a finale Across entry that starts with an "A". Now, that cannot just be sheer coincidence.

Congratz on a primo themelessthUmbsUp SatPuz, "ASH". [Way to immediately establish yer territory on a grid!] Thanx for the fun workout.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


cwf 1:31 PM  

Been looking forward to this since MAS noted yesterday it was dropping today. I know he (at least sometimes) reads these comments so I'm just here to thank him for a lovely puzzle. Thanks, Martin!

Liz T. 1:57 PM  

Thank you Thomas! According to Wikipedia, the first use of "gee" was in 1620, and the first use of "haw" was in 1777. I love the idea that for 152 years, no one knew how to make animals go left.

Marcie 2:04 PM  

Loved the puzzle! Thanks MAS. Seeing "sheesh" made me think of LMS. I can't remember anyone else using that exclamation.

Anoa Bob 2:24 PM  

There seems to be some controversy over the clue for 39A GEE, and from no less of an authoritative source than Chubby
Checker's It's Pony Time

It's pony time, get up
(Boogety, boogety, boogety, boogety, shoo)

Now ya turn to the left when I say GEE
You turn to the right when I say haw
Now gee, ya ya baby
Now haw
Oh baby, oh baby, pretty baby
Do it baby, oh baby, oh baby
(Boogety, boogety, boogety, boogety shoo)

zephyr 2:42 PM  

Yes. A person wo is crabby does whine. Too much usually

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

I had a PB&J sandwich for lunch yesterday because the food offered at work was worse than that Friday puzzle from Parker. The applet stinks too.

This Saturday was tough for me but enjoyable. Took a long time to get a foothold anywhere.

Dick Swart 3:42 PM  

A very satisfying xword with three very redolent references ... at least for me:

1. Abattoir. Franz Doblin's 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' 1929. The descriptions of the process in the abattoir and the references to the Weimar and Berlin life.

2. George Smiley. I read the trilogy every two years just for complete enjoyment (Tinker Tailer, Honorable Schoolboy, Smiley's People). LaCarre's writing is impeccable.

3. Marilyn Monroe. Icon! Andy Worhol's print show at the Portland Art Museum was fantastic.

This is what makes the xword enjoyable beyond the solving. ... the quality of the fill!

Andrew Goodridge 3:54 PM  

Did anyone else learn the word "abattoir" from Dr. Marvin Monroe's self-help tapes?

“Let's build your vocabulary. A -- Abattoir. Slaughterhouse. The cow was slaughtered in the abattoir.”

Larry G's Neighbor 4:04 PM  

Larry, don't you dare tell ANYONE where we live!

Rob 4:07 PM  

I hated this way more than most of you. Didn't like some of the answers, and didn't like some of the cluing:

- TEX: What exactly is this supposed to mean? Is it short for Texan? There's no indication that it's an abbreviation. I assume there aren't many Cowboys players *named* Tex. I wanted TES here, although there's again no indication that it's an abbreviation.

- LOESS is some BS.

- Zero indication in the cluing for SAN that it was non-English.

I don't understand SENSE for Import or GEE for Go the right way? --

Never heard of EAU DE VIE or NATANT, but fair enough I suppose. LOESS I maintain is garbage. THE A-TEAM has a pretty good clue, but thumbs down to answers with THE in them.

Johnny 4:09 PM  

I learned "abattoir" in the early '80s from Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album, where it was the name of a "glittery L.A. nightclub."

Larry Gilstrap 4:18 PM  

@Nancy - My desert home is Borrego Springs, CA. It Googles very nicely. Always room for one more.

Foamfollower 4:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael 4:33 PM  

I liked this puzzle, which I thought was easy for a Saturday. It helped that I was able to fill in Tirana right away and know the Loess Hills in the west of the state where I live (Iowa).

Foamfollower 4:34 PM  

This Old Fart, who spends every season in the sun, was glad today not to have to guess at the latest #1 hit or the latest synonym for "friend"...dawg? bro? homey (homie)? BFF?

Temitayo W. 4:51 PM  

The snob-snob puzzle ran in the Washington Post Express yesterday. The Express is mostly meant for commuters so it doesn't come out on weekends, but I'm waiting to see if they say anything about the clue on Monday. (I'm also convinced there was an error in the Friday Scrabble Grams, but I guess I'll find out soon enough...)

Dolgo 5:07 PM  

Yes, but, of course, she was not an Albanian-AMERICAN!

Dolgo 5:09 PM  

Great addition to my post! I think you're wrong about "lek, though. That is the name of the Albanian currency.

Dolgo 5:12 PM  

Aw, shucks (blush!).

Dolgo 5:17 PM  

I've been to Odessa. Read a travel piece by Peter Ustinov on Albania years ago. I've always wanted to add it to my list. I saw a movie set there recently and put it at or near the bottom of my list.

ChE Dave 5:21 PM  

33D messed with me. I started with humus, but once I filled in the NE, dillydallies became obvious so I went to loams, which I didn't think was right as a plural even though it fit with sounding board and steam. It took the central long down clues to make me come to my senses!

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

Does it bother anyone that Lawrence of Arabia won Best Picture in 1963, not 1962?

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

Hi all, MAS here...

Thanks for your kind comments :)

Re ABATTOIR: yes, a previous commenter is completely right. I too, first learned of the word decades ago, in a the Monty Python "Architect's Sketch".

Presented below is the full sketch. If you like John Cleese, his monologue/rant is absolutely classic:


-Martin Ashwood-Smith

CFXK 5:56 PM  

@Anonymous (5:36): Oscar are awarded in the winter/spring following the year the movie was release. So the Oscar ceremony held in 1963 honored movies released in 1962. Lawrence of Arabia won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1962 in a ceremony held in April 1963.

Masked and Anonymous 5:58 PM  

@5:36PM Anonymous: The year 1962 is correct; that's when the flick was in theaters; they always pass out the Oscar the followin year tho … sooo … confusion ensues.

M&A's [not to be confused with MAS] confusion was more tryin to figure out the setting for 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbrd", which I just assumed was the best pic pick for that year.

But, M&A's best pic picks have often come out wrong. F'rinstance ...
1960: The Apartment
1961: The Hustler
1962 To Kill a Mockingbird
1963: Tom Jones
1964: Dr. Strangelove
1965: Doctor Zhivago
1966: A Man for All Seasons
1967: The Graduate
1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey
1969: True Grit
M&A was only 3 for 10, in the 60's. Y'all of course know which ones were correct, right?

M&A Film Institute

Mohair Sam 8:26 PM  

@MAS - Loved the Python link. Amazed you retained ABBATOIR from that. Nothing quite matches a John Cleese self-righteous rant (even a Tony Jacklin reference no less). Next puzzle we fully expect something from Basil Fawlty.

Teedmn 8:56 PM  

@MA-S, thanks for the visit and the link. My co-worker is currently reading John Cleese's memoir and he has been regaling me with tidbits from the book. It explains a lot about Monty Python (and perhaps, abattoirs).

Elephant's Child 9:01 PM  

@M&A: The GradUate, The HUstler, and TrUe Grit?

Love the Pythons, love the Fawlty Towers. To anyone who appreciates humour in that unrepentant vein, will recommend without reservation A Fish Called Wanda, one of the funniest movies ever made.

Will have to look for the Ustinov book on Albania; he's as good a writer as he is a raconteur.

Mohair Sam 9:07 PM  


David in CA 10:08 PM  

@Rob: To each their own, so fine to not like a puzzle. But most of your criticisms are not reasonable for a Saturday puzzle.
Appears you misread the TEX clue - it refers to "cowboys" not "Cowboys". A crucial difference.
Don't think that there is any rule that every foreign word HAS to be indicated in the clue, especially for something as basic as the title SAN. (I missed that one - major head-slap when I read it in the comments here.)
LOESS is not BS, it is a perfectly valid English language word. I think I 1st saw it when reading the Clan of the Cave Bear series in my youth. Certainly a little specialized knowledge, but hell it's a Saturday.
GEE is pretty standard crosswordese I think - I believe it refers to commands for a horse maybe? I forget what the corresponding word for left is - I always need to get them from crosses.
THE A TEAM was the name of the group - you would never refer to just "a team" in that sense, so "the" had to be included, what's the problem?
As for SENSE for import - I haven't got the foggiest on that one, but I'm sure an on-line dictionary can clear that up if I feel the need.

So maybe don't get like Rex and turn every "I don't know that" or "I didn't like that" to "That was terrible!".

Nancy 10:24 PM  

@M&A (5:58)-- I guessed The Apartment; A Man for All Seasons; and To Kill a Mockingbird. So two out of three ain't half bad, right? But the fact that The Graduate didn't win is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Oscar history. Maybe the greatest!

@Larry Gilstrap (4:18) -- I Googled. That CA desert looks like an absolutely gorgeous place to live. Nature at its most completely unspoiled. I envy you. I might have some difficulty walking those mountainous areas, however. There's no mountain goat in me and there never was -- not even when I was young. I'm addicted to terra firma and tend to demand very good footing when I climb up and especially down anything at all.

@MAS (5:37) -- Thanks for a terrific puzzle and for the enjoyable Monty Python link. Even more than Monty, though, I love Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. I saw them on stage on Broadway in Beyond the Fringe and in An Evening With... Believe it or not, a skit that I saw at least 40 years ago can be found on You Tube: The Frog and the Peach. Take a look:

Michael Moroney 11:14 PM  

Can someone please explain the snob clue?

JC66 12:02 AM  

SNOB is both the clue and the answer.

Michael Moroney 10:51 AM  

And why is that clever?

dm3000 12:28 PM  

My junior high had a pool, and the sign on the door read Natatorium. Came in handy today.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

It's not. It's an example of shoddy editing.

(It has no direct relevance to the NYT puzzle, if anyone's wondering)


kitshef 11:25 PM  

Easy, except where it was impossible, and I'm amazed nobody has complained about the SDS/YES cross. SDS is an obscure initialism, and YES could have easily been YEA or YEH.

EAU DE VIE is also a Woe for me, so I have basically a three-letter initialism starting with S and have to guess at the other two letters. I went with Sla/EAU lE VIE/YEa.

ahecht 4:55 PM  

Took me a while to figure out what "Beans we rable for" meant...

Tarheeled 2:13 PM  

Easiest Saturday I ever had. I got Marilyn Monroe with just the first R. The length of the answer was a big clue, too. Good, tough clues, but I waltzed through them!!

rondo 9:42 AM  

Woulda been ultimate yeah baby MARILYNMONROE’s 91st birthday day before yesterday. A little game we play at coffee break, guessing celebs’ ages. And did you know tomatosoupcan has the same number of letters as MARILYMONROE? And that wrong answer made for a good jamUP. Indeed. Got a LeCarre book right here and GEORGESMILEY came to the rescue. You can’t imagine the inkfest. Or maybe you can. Tomatosoupcan.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been to ODESSA, Ukraine a coupla times. Scaled the Potemkin Steps which is the exact site of the massacre in the film. Those steps are probably the most well-known landmark in ODESSA. A special thanks to Natasha I and Natasha II and Elena for showing me around.

Found this one tough and learned ABBATOIR. Quite the workout today.

Burma Shave 10:26 AM  




spacecraft 11:23 AM  

My start was like OFL's: BBC/BTU--where the B in square 4 stands for the same thing in both directions!--plus BELG/GIRD. But then, off just the -UL-, I slapped down MEACULPA on a flash of inspiration. I used to play HEARTS all the time...when I should have been studying, MEACULPA! Ecarte I know only from crosswords. So the NW, for a change, proved doable, if not quite a DEADGIVEAWAY.

No, it was the SW that gave me the most trouble. Import-->SENSE?? Well, I suppose, in a *ahem* SENSE. WOE TIRANA didn't help, but I eventually got it all straightened out.

I liked it. Nothing any less fair than that "import" clue, and some different content--most notably including the full name of our no-contest DOD: MARILYNMONROE. Any grid with her in it deserves at least a birdie.

spacecraft 1:57 PM  

Okay, for some reason my post didn't take. I hope it's not because I finally said I LIKED something. Come on, I'm not OFL. Yet.

I started as he did with the double-B(ritish) from square 4, and BELG (a rare ugh!) and GIRD. But a flash of inspiration, just looking at that -UL-, gave me MEACULPA and made the NW doable. No, it was the SW that weirded me out: "import" for SENSE? Well, I suppose in a *ahem* SENSE I can see it, but man, what a far-out clue! Unknown TIRANA didn't help, but I got it done by inference.

I didn't DILLYDALLY long in the middle; most of that was a DEADGIVEAWAY, including the unchallengeable DOD MARILYNMONROE. So overall, maybe on the easy side of medium for Saturday. Not much flotsam; BELG is about the worst, and that's at least original. I liked it; there, I said it. Birdie.

Now let's see if this one takes. YES! AND...

Diana,LIW 2:49 PM  


These were among my first answers. See why I like pencils?

Although that got cleared up nicely, the NW being one of the corners I completed. I stumbled and fell in the SW. Zog? OOSPORES? Forgot poor Mr. SMILEY's first name. And EKING. Is that today's ekeing out a living? Eek!

Today and yesterday were joys to play with - all the misleads and writeovers. (In my case, erasures.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Pink Pearl

leftcoastTAM 3:23 PM  

Interesting and fun.

Long downs and acrosses were accessible and helpful. MARILYNMONROE fairly jumped out at me, and the others followed.

The R in the TIRANA/OOSPORES crossing was revealed by the SPORES, which seemed likely.

The SAN/NATANT cross was a Natick. Didn't get the Japanese connection and guessed bATANT (sounds like something to do with floating, or does it?).

Might add a nit-pick: Gridlock IS a TIEUP; a "consequence" of gridlock would be a delay or some other vexing result.

Like yesterday, another one square dnf. MEACULPA.

rain forest 3:27 PM  

This was a puzzle that seemed unfathomable at first, but gradually yielded after a couple of toe-holds, namely, BBC/BTU, and EATS IN/AND. Tenuous, yes, but enough to start rocking and rolling. A very enjoyable romp through the grid ensued. Write-over at kilo/meGA/GIGA, and a long sideways glance at OOSPORES which just had to be correct. SENSE as "import" escapes me, but another one that had to stay.

The entire middle section is scintillating with nary a clunker in there. I was proud to get DILLY DALLIES off the D, and I marveled at how GEORGE SMILEY appeared. And. of course, MARILYN. Aah.

I too misspelled ABATTOIR at first, but that was quickly fixed.

Nothing else of "import" to say. Most of the puzzle made SENSE. Say what?

Diana,LIW 4:31 PM  

Rainy - IMPORT - as a noun, is the sense or meaning of something. Oh, now I get the import of that clue. (from same root as "importance")

Lady Di, Etymologically Speaking

done already? Is it Saturday? 2:45 AM  

too easy. I'm really disappointed. I want Saturday puzzles that make me sweat. All week I see easy puzzles. I need something intimidating. If Alex Honnold can climb El Capitan without ropes we can handle a harder Saturday solve.

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