Noah's predecessor / SAT 5-6-17 / Play movie about noted 1977 series of interviews / Doktor Faust composer / Japanese import that debuted in 1982 / One asking for Ahmed Adoudi / Herb of PBSs ciao italia / Urban lab transporter

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Bovarism (26A: Bovarism => EGO) —
n. a conception of oneself as other than one is to the extent that one's general behavior is conditioned or dominated by the conception; especially :  domination by such an idealized, glamorized, glorified, or otherwise unreal conception of oneself that it results in dramatic personal conflict (as in tragedy), in markedly unusual behavior (as in paranoia), or in great achievement ( [1900-05; < French bovaryisme, after Emma Bovary, a character in Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary] (
• • •

Highly enjoyable Saturday. Right about where I like them: consistently tricky, but not painful, and loaded with juicy and highly varied answers. There was one scary moment where an obscure proper noun felt like it might be undoing—honestly, the worst thing that can happen in crosswords—but then the "K" from KAPPAS gave me BEER KEG (25D: Center of a blowout, maybe) and BUSONI (!?) was no longer the lethal threat he (he?) appeared to be (25A: "Doktor Faust" composer). Obscurity of BUSONI was more than offset by the giant gimme that was "An INNOCENT MAN" (27A: 1983 7x platinum Billy Joel album, with "An"). That is a Monday clue. That "7x platinum" part should tell you that. That album came out in the heart of my music-obsessed adolescence, and though I was not obsessed with *that* album, the ubiquity of its songs meant that even 34 years later, I remember it well. I think that was the album with "Uptown Girl" on it, where the video had his then-wife Christie Brinkley in it, and at the end these kids start popping (to a Billy Joel song!?), and it Totally blew my mind. I didn't care about the song or the bulk of the video, I just sat there waiting to see the kids.

LAP was the obvious starting place here (22A: It disappears after rising). That helped me start working on the ends of those Downs in the NW (-ES after the "L"; ON after the "P"), and then SENTRA / LIRA / LOOP / SHIMON went in pretty quickly thereafter, and I came back at the NW corner from the back ends of the long Acrosses. HAD IT and the Billy Joel album got me into the NE, where PREP for GRAD was my major screw-up (besides simply not knowing BUSONI). KAPPAS took me into the SE, where the "P" got me PET-something and the "S" got me the obvious STEWART (45D: Noah's predecessor). (STEWART crossing STEW, btw, not great). MARK O'MEARA and ANTI-VAXXER went straight in, based solely on their terminal letters. Ended in the SW, where PRANK for CRANK in CRANK CALLER held me up a bit ("prank call is the more preferred term, by a good margin"), and where I totally bit that "Herb" was some guy in 38D: Herb of PBS's "Ciao Italia" (OREGANO). The end.

One note re: FEMS (19A: Partners in many lesbian couples). Yes, some lesbian couples do have a gender role binary thing going on (though I'd say "some lesbian couples," not "many (?) lesbian couples"). My bigger concern with FEMS is ... well, here, I'll let google predictive text explain:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


evil doug 7:42 AM  

When Hillary and Tenzing were ascending Everest, one fatigued step at a time, they happily discovered that the next step would be down, not up--they'd reached the summit.

So it was as I slowly fought for every handhold I could find, nearly surrendering at several junctures, but grinding for one more letter, one more answer--until suddenly, as I scanned for my next battle, there were none to be had; the grid was complete.

pAleSTine? No, GAZA STRIP.
pRep school? No, GRAD.
__punISHEd? Nope, WASH DISHES.

Had to love the Ahmed Adoudi gag. I was looking for a mideast ruler. More ACNE? I'm starting to buy into the recent conspiracy theorists on Will purposely running consecutive zit puzzles.

Great Miami stack with OMEARA, ANTI VAXXER (well-clued) and SCAM ARTIST (ditto). Clever little misdirect on SOAP, too. And with AA--I searched for a problem drinker issue.

So a very tough climb here, but happy to stake my flag.

three of clubs 7:54 AM  

I am so done with ACNE. Think I have had it longer this week than I did as a child.

Hef 7:56 AM  

Had Subaru for Sentra that threw me for a loop!
Great saturday

Hef 7:58 AM  

Can we ban acne eta/d and Ernie Elis for ever please!

Conrad 8:03 AM  

Really, Rex? You watched a video with Christie Brinkley so you could see the KIDS?!? I bet you used to read Playboy for the articles.

Glimmerglass 8:06 AM  

@evil doug speaks my mind. This one wasn't "easy" for me, but "medium" (for a Sarurday) is about right. Herb was my biggest hold up, and even when I had all the letters of OREGANO, I was wondering, "There can't really be a host named Herb Oregano, can there?" It didn't help that SCRAPES was beside OREGANO. I think of SCRAPES as "tight spots" or "difficulties" rather than "set tos," but one can get into a scrape with someone. And SOAP was a briliant misdirection. The SW was a hard corner for me, but there were many little Saturdayisms throughout. Fun puzzle!

Carola 8:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 8:27 AM  

Previous comments - tough acts to follow, but here goes. My rating: the most pleasurable kind of can-I-finish-it? AGONY. I got off to a good start with FROSTNIXON x DOT and a quick sweep through the NW. The slow-down began with the me-too pAleSTine confirmed by ACNE, BUSONI, and TROn (seemed right at the time). Anyway - KAPPAS got that area straightened out. Then on to the unplowed ACREAGE of the bottom half, the struggle with which I'll spare you.

Resisted: Vandal = HUN - come on, two completely different marauding entities. And, as @Rex, FEMS
Loved: the fake-outs of CRANK CALLER and OREGANO; would have loved the AA one more if I'd heard of THE BIGS
Grateful for: the recent ANTIVAXXER - saved my life in the SE
Needed an alphabet run: ACREA?E - just couldn't see it.

@Rex, one solver's BUSONI is another's INNOCENT MAN - never heard of it.

Phil Schifley 8:37 AM  

Felt forced. Soli, hake, bel are all crossword specific. Fem felt forced, trying to hard to be current, and I've always heard femme anyway. Even my auto-correct flags fem. Wasn't too hard, just a bit grindy.

Unknown 8:39 AM  

Have no idea who the Noah/ Stewart pair are - anybody?

r.alphbunker 8:46 AM  

39D {1981 and 1988 World Series-winning manager} LASORDA: Could see him, could see Kirk Gibson hitting the homer but it took a while for his name to come to me

And 37A {They're not complex numbers} SOLI I now realize is the plural of SOLO.

Detail are here

Sir Hillary 8:48 AM  

Not much time today, so stopping by only to say that I really enjoyed this puzzle. Also the CRANKCALLER clue made me laugh harder than any clue I have ever read -- I was totally thinking Arabian Peninsula.

@Clyde Aniano - Jon Stewart was succeeded by Trevor Noah as host of "The Daily Show".

Teedmn 8:51 AM  

I usually eat breakfast while solving on Saturdays but today I decided to see how fast I could solve without the distraction of putting food in my mouth. I picked the wrong week, I think. This seemed very easy. Since I was going for time, I thought I'd look for a partial but the only one was "____ Sleeps Over". No dice. 57D caught my eye and I was in! SEXT confirmed the reappearance of ANTI-VAXXER and I had little trouble easing through (though not speeding through - this still took me nearly 25 minutes) the rest of the grid.

SkinARTIST at 63A was fixed by LILKIM (what, a RAP ARTIST saved my skin?)

I agree with @Carola, thinking HUh? at HUN as a Vandal.

I circled the P in pRANK CALLER to remind myself that it might be CRANK, which helped me see SCRAPES. For some reason, I did not fall for the misdirect at 62A though I thought it might be "gold" instead of SOAP. 23D's Italian bread and 25D's Center of a blowout both got their clues circled in appreciation though I didn't get confused by those either. The RSA (random sports arena) of the day had me with RCArena (RC Cola, anyone?) but an INNOCENT MAN fixed that and saved my BUSONI on 25A also.

A nice themeless puzzle, JDP, but it probably would have played harder if ANTI-VAXXER hadn't been a gimme.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

What am I missing with Lap as "disappears after rising"?

kitshef 9:04 AM  

Very difficult for me. Top was pretty easy, but twice ground to a halt in the bottom and feared a major DNF. Both times, bailed out by sports clues. MARK OMEARA somehow emerged from the depths of my brain to save the SE, and LASORDA needed to replace LArussA before I could get anything in the SW. (also CRANK needed to replace pRANK for my CALLER).

FWIW, PRANK CALL is the only term I ever heard for this until maybe fifteen years ago, when CRANK CALL started working its way in. I've always assumed people who say CRANK are just tragically unhip - well, even more so than I.

Cathy 9:06 AM  

When you sit (have a lap) and then stand up (rising, no lap)

Cathy 9:07 AM  

Would some explain The Bigs answer to the AA clue?

evil doug 9:11 AM  

AA is a baseball minor league level two below the majors (big leagues-->BIGS)

Loren Muse Smith 9:12 AM  

@ED – terrific account of your experience. Same for me. So many times I almost threw in the towel, only to see another answer, then another, then bam – move over, buddy, so I can stake my flag next to yours.

My biggest hold up was distractedly filling in “Sentry” for SENTRA. Sheesh. I guess it could work in some dialects: Jimmy Ray bought hisself a Sentry offa Hoss Fly, but he done tore that sucker up. (“Hoss Fly” was the best man in a wedding I attended in Tennessee several years ago.)

@Glimmerglass – I agree on the clue for SOAP. Like @Teedmn, I was kinda considering “gold.”

@Kitshef – I always said CRANK CALL growing up and occasionally wondered why the heck I said that and not “prank.”

Other goofs:

“Atlanta” for ALBERTA
“fret” for STEW
“rest” for RELY
“Eminem” for LIL’ KIM
“deltas” for KAPPAS
“waivers” for WAFFLES

At one point I was so desperate, I actually considered erasing “Atlanta” and filling in “MR T Sleeps Over.” Now there’s a startling title.

And with the balding clue, my thoughts went straight to hair for the blowout center. Some kind of part in your hair. Dumb.

I liked THIN ON TOP crossing PART. The elephant, ahem, in the room notwithstanding, I just don’t get those “parts” directly above the ear for the ridiculous comb-over. Maybe I’ve just never seen one done well. And if you call me out for coloring my hair to hide the grey, I totally deserve it.

Oh, and fwiw – I like the Occam’s razor theory proposed last night on the pesky recurring ACNE.

Nancy 9:24 AM  

The SW took me 5 times as long as the rest of the puzzle put together. And I'm cursing that they've put the PPP baseball manager (39D) right next to the PPP Italian chef (38D). It's not that I don't know LASORDA, mind you; it's just that I never remember what team won what World Series. I'm thinking that Hartley 70 will also be cursing over the baseball manager, but she's good at PPP and might know the Italian chef. Imagine my surprise and delight at the deception, when Herb turns out to be herb, and the "chef" turns out to be OREGANO. (!) Lovely!

A CRANK CALLER (46A) asks for "Ahmed Adoudi"? Really? Why? My CRANK CALLERS don't do anything of the sort.

Again, @Hartley -- I;m sorry you had to deal with MARK O'MEARA, a gimme for me with just a few letters. But I had to deal with LIL KIM, INNOCENT MAN, and TROI, so we're even.

PREP before GRAD at 11A led to PALESTINE before GAZA STRIP at 11D. But I didn't like PALESTINE -- which I thought would cause quite a few YAWPS. DESTINY (14D) straightened me out.

ANTIVAXXER again? ACNE again, again again, again???? What is the world coming to? Still I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, once I had raced through the NW, thinking it was much too easy. It turned out instead to be quite "crunchy".

QuasiMojo 9:30 AM  

As a old school music buff and Faust fanatic, BUSONI was my entry point.

I had a rough time with this but eventually managed to fill it all in by trying many different words until the bell finally tolled for me.

For instance I had LISP before HISS (warily, I might add, next to that curious lesbians clue.) I agree that FEM feels wrong. I've usually seen it as FEMME. But its usage here seems especially gauche.

Since we've had a rash of acne lately, I was sure Blemish was going to be ZIT. But Mar is much nicer.

Was sure Billy Joel was an ORDINARY man, but INNOCENT, okay. Whadevahyasay, man.

Forgot about SENTRAs so I had XTERRA in there far too long. We had a Datsun when I was a kid so that shouldn't have been that hard to suss.

Never heard of Herb Oregano, but it made me laugh. Nor Mark O'Meara but getting ANTIVAXXER helped there. I'd never heard the term until the other day when it appeared here in the Times. Was that last Sunday?

Things I liked: Action Hero; Thin On Top; Destiny; Hexapod; Waffles; Crank Caller.

Things I ALMOST did not like: ALBERTA. Olympics are usually noted for the city in which they take place. CALGARY. Of course ATLANTA fit there too. But that was 96.

Fun struggle. Kudos to Mr. DiPietro.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I went to parting my hair directly in the middle since thinning on top. I began with a comb over but got grief for that. However, parting in the middle doesn't work great either. It looks better but your hair basically has a typical way that it will fall into place---it wants to go one way or the other. So changing where you part results in uncooperative hair. Personally, I would prefer more of a shaved head look or else very short hair but the wife doesn't go for that. I can't call you out LMS for dyeing your hair as I do that as well. It does help us feel younger when we don't look like we are way past retirement.

I thought there were too many proper names in this puzzle. I had to google on the Simpson's clue since I never watch that show. I could not resolve "prank" to "crank" so had a DNF.

Tim Aurthur 9:39 AM  

Great cluing, especially 15 & 61A. And I agree that the puzzle needs to see a dermatologist STAT.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

My entry to puzzle was BUSONI but too many proper names.
HOMO or INDI before ENDO.
A lot of SOLI are complex - just listen.

jae 9:46 AM  

Medium-tough for me. I had the same problems as @Rex et. al...cRank, prep, Subaru... plus lisp before Hiss and eon before ERA and the same gimmes...the Billy Joel album, the reappearance of ANTIVAXXER, MARK OMEARA.

My kinda Sat., crunchy with some zip! Liked it a lot!

Tim Pierce 9:53 AM  

Great puzzle (and not just because I beat the pants off my spouse on a Saturday for once). A couple of whines:

* RCADOME crossed with ZAGS, HADIT and BUSONI was extremely rough. RCADOME/BUSONI is almost a Natick, ZIGS/ZAGS is ambiguous and HADIT required careful parsing to make sure it could not be HASIT. Any one of these three crossings would have been okay, but combined? Awful.

* Is a PET TAXI actually a thing? I got ---TAXI early but was hung up for a long time trying to figure out what the first three letters might be. (DOG? LSD?)

The fake-outs on "It's often picked up in bars" and "Herb of PBS's 'Ciao Italia'" had me gnashing my teeth, but in the best way.

Two Ponies 9:53 AM  

I thought I was so clever to think that Bovarism might be MOO.

Nancy 9:58 AM  

@Anon 9:32 -- I'm so in your wife's camp! There was Yul Brynner, and then there's everyone else. Why do men going THIN ON TOP feel that shaving their heads will make them look better?Thought for the day: Some hair is better than no hair. Much better. Other than Yul, I've never seen an exception. That includes Telly.

Forsythia 10:11 AM  

DNF since dk Ahmed..., had ScRAtaS instead of SCRAPES, thinks tRANs something. Had to use Check Puzzle to finish.

No idea on LIL KIM, nor Mark O Meara nor BUSONI or INNOCENT MAN but got the crosses. Not sure on Lasorda.
47 minutes, ugh. Even with daughter's help. It's been a long time since I got this stuck.

Unknown 10:13 AM  

I agree with both Anonymice: too many proper names. With puns and twists and multiple-synonyms, continuing to play with the clue is fun. With proper names, really, it's just trying random letters looking for something that could be the name. Arenas, rappers, Star Trek characters, managers, and Billy Joel hits are not the kind of thing that occupies my increasingly-full mental file drawers... That is NOT fun--in fact, it's like a taunt against those not similarly-culturally engaged, shouting "you're not really one of us!"
Please, I see no reason for defining KAPPAS as "some sorority women." "Greek letters" would have been just as helpful, since either way you have 24 to choose from....
Also, in my world "rows" defines SCRAPES only for the spelling-challenged. I considered it again and again always to reject it. SCRAPS are rows. Unless DiPietro wants me to think of planting rows as the result of scrapes by a rake or something. Similarly, "hinge upon" brings up RELY only after a lot of other better (and more orthodox) synonyms have been considered.
I suppose it's my own fault that I've never seen ANTIVAXXER in print and so was hung up for too long contemplating A N T I V _ X _ _R. I admit to trying T and E before it occurred to me that the X might be doubled.
And, last, while I have known a number of Prank callers in my time, and I am aware of a lot of those potty-pun names, I also know how to pronounce "Ahmed," and it's nothing like "I made," which meant the joke totally eluded me as a clue. Didn't even think PRANK, let alone CRANK.
So I could not finish the grid without a few glances at your much-appreciated solution. I wish your ratings included a word of comfort: "Easy to Medium, but heavy on the culture terminology" or something.

Lindsay 10:16 AM  

I worked from the SE counterclockwise (to contradict Rex, STEWART crossing EDT was "the obvious starting place") and met no resistance until I hit the section under SENTRA.

You know, the corner where I didn't know Herb's last name, or remember who managed the Yankees in 1981. (My freshman roommate was from Queens, so I was dead certain the Yankees were involved in 1981; I had forgotten they lost.)

Eventually figured it out.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Unknown 10:30 AM  

Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah, hosts of The Daily Show.

Steve M 10:32 AM  


Steve M 10:33 AM  

Thanks 🙏

Mohair Sam 10:40 AM  

@ED - You said it first and best - It apparently was an Everest to conquer for all of us, and it definitely was a lot of fun. Don't think I've ever seen so many regulars enjoy detailing their solve as I have today.

@Teedmn - Yes, we too were amazed that a rapper (LILKIM) was critical to our success.

@Loren - REst before RELY too, but I tried gAmmAS before KAPPAS. And a big "Yikes!" on your MR.T thought.

A special thanks to David Feherty of the Golf Channel for interviewing MARK OMEARA a week or two back, made 57A a vital gimme. LASORDA went right in for this baseball nut - then I turned to puzzle partner after we finished puzz and asked her why I'd never heard of the slang drinker's term "THE BIGS" (sigh).

One Across brought back memories. In the military I pulled four consecutive weeks of KP. I ran the "clipper" - a gigantic dish washing unit. Twelve hours a day. Don't ask.

Fabulous Saturday puzzle Joe DiPietro. Thank you.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

I rarely am able to complete a Saturday puzzle, but I found this one much easier than most. (I thought that it was a lot easier than yesterday's Patrick Berry puzzle). Within a few minutes I had WASHDISHES, FROSTNIXON, INNOCENTMAN, LASORDA and ANTIVAXXER (only because this clue appeared so recently). My favorite clue was "two steps away from AA, informally."

Clara Sill 10:58 AM  

I have spent a lifetime trying to eliminate ANCE, but it keeps rearing its ugly head. I would ask us all to be a little more proactiv.

Clara Sill 10:59 AM  


Katzzz 11:10 AM  

Enjoyed overall, but I found the reverse placement of "the" "bigs" to be awful.

Lewis 11:10 AM  

Terrific solving experience. The highlight for me was the clever cluing -- SOAP, OREGANO, ACTION_HERO, SOLI, PART, INN, and STEWART. Thank you for all you put into this, Joe!

I also liked LAP next to the backward POOL. And I was especially struck by THIN_ON_TOP crossing AGONY -- Oh, how I remember those days.

Trombone Tom 11:11 AM  

@ED, well said! And I'm also noting @RP's even-handed treatment.

This was a fair Saturday workout with some nice mis-direction and other clever clues. Like the one for the reappearance of those ANTIVAXXERs.

Plopped in pRANKCALLER before the correct word. Considered a few celebrity chef's names before I got the right herb.

Thank you, Mr. DiPietro.

John Child 11:24 AM  

The Ahmed clue nearly wrecked me. No idea at all, with five (four, it turned out) proper noun crossings. Sheesh.

I could have done without ANGINAL, but otherwise good stuff all around.

old timer 11:24 AM  

I had the exact same trouble areas @EvilDoug had. And a big DNF here, because I had pRANK CALLER and never thought at all about CRANK. Leaving me with the question, "What are sprapes?" The puzzle was so very hard I basically gave up at that point, with a blank space at 37A.

It did not help that I wrote in "Palestine" instead of GAZA STRIP. But the KAPPAS made Palestine impossible, so in the end I figured it out and changed "prep" to GRAD.

I am kicking myself for not getting THE BIGS. Talk about a misdirect. Of course I was sure it was something to do with an alcoholic condition like the once-ubiquitous DTs. By the time I got it on crosses, I was not interested in finding out what THE BIGS was. Took it on faith.

ALBERTA is every bit as good as "Calgary" though. At least I assume the mountain events took place outside the city limits, quite a ways outside as I recall.

mathgent 11:26 AM  

Delightful! I had 18 red plusses in the margins, well above the Saturday average.

We have a long-time local news anchor who faced the thinning-hair problem. Do nothing and become Matt Lauer? Or get a rug? He went with the second option but went a bit too far. His hair is now longer and curlier than it was ten years ago.

I was pleased that I got LILKIM. Not that I know her work, but I have heard about her, maybe just in these puzzles. Rap seems to have become a viable and enduring part of our culture, so I would like to know more about it. Are there some songs that I should hear (or read)? Ones which are not simply about racism.

Elsie 11:39 AM  

Confidently wrote in moO for Bovarism.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 11:43 AM  

Billy Joel sucks.

jberg 11:43 AM  

Humiliating failure for me, although I don't blame myself for not knowing LASORDA. I confidently put in pAlestine/Prep school, confirmed by ACNE although troubling because it didn't work wigh Gounod. I finally figured that one out -- I knew BUSONI, but not that he wrote opera(s). I think that tussle used up all my energy, so I just couldn't figure out the SW. I got pRANK CALLER crossing uproarS, then wrote ENDO in over that, and by then was just to stymied that I gave up. I did think of the herb trick near the end, but by that time I'd decided that just bit might be a 'skit,' and that blocked OREGANO. I was kind of mad about the two proper nouns at 38 and 39D, but now that I realize there was only one the fault is all mine.

I got both of these, but just to complain:

a) while an appeals court may sit en banc, a jurist in the singular sits on the bench; and

b) I really do not want to believe that PET TAXI is a real thing, but I suppose it probably is.

Stanley Hudson 11:44 AM  

A very enjoyable Saturday puzzle, enhanced by strong mimosas and a wake-and-bake fattie.

mathgent 11:47 AM  

Once in KP, two or three of us were assigned to the potato-peeler. It was a tub about six feet across with corrugated sides. You would throw in a few sacks of potatoes, the tub would rotate very fast, the potatoes would bounce against the corrugated sides removing the skins, a water jet would wash the skins down the drain. After a short time we were to empty the peeler and bring the naked potatoes to the cooks. We were fooling around and forgot about it. When we turned it off and went to empty it, the potatoes were the size of marbles.

Unknown 11:53 AM  

Stand up and you won't see your lap

Charles Flaster 11:54 AM  

Same exact feel as yesterday with PB. Challenging clues but very doable. Really enjoyed this one.
Creative cluing for:

Writeovers--HAKE for piKE and ENDO for iNDi.
Would not have had such an easy time without the recent ANTIVAXXER which was also a beautiful misdirect. As Miss Beck, seventh grade history would preach (1957),
"The more you study the luckier you get".
What is up with ACNE????
Thanks for the enjoyment JDP

Erik 12:05 PM  

Finally! A really enjoyable NYT.

Perfect difficulty level for me. Challenging but solvable. Witty and clever.

Hopefully the rest of my Saturday will be as enjoyable as this was.

bswein99 12:20 PM  

Like many others, I had PALESTINE first for 11 Down. But I KNEW that the NYTimes wouldn't allow that. In other words, I knew it had to be wrong, but not because it wasn't right or didn't fit. Still, didn't think of GAZA STRIP until I got the "p".

And yes, please, no more ACNE.

Mohair Sam 12:26 PM  

@mathgent - Loved the potato peeler anecdote. When I was stationed at Griffiss AFB the Food Service chief fired the automatic potato peeler because of the tremendous waste and put G.I.s back on the job. That wasn't your fault was it?

AZPETE 12:32 PM  

Thx for explaining. Wanted NAP!

QuasiMojo 12:38 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith, loved your thinking of "Mr T" as the sleepover guest. I also thought of Mr T today, equally absurdly, for 20A, the guy who made the quote about politics. :)

@Nancy, I envy those shaved head dudes. They never get hat hair!

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

FEMS. UGH. After reading the clue, I mentally ran through every characteristic I could apply to my wife or myself (PHDs?) or our circle of friends (MSWs?)and then needed every cross before FEMS dawned on me. It's not that it's offensive. It's just a disappointingly tired stereotype. We get so little air time, why can't it ever be fun? Put the puzzle down after that.

Masked and Anonymous 12:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Malsdemare 12:56 PM  

This was HARD! Holy bovine, it's been a long time since I spent this much time doing a puzzle and not throwing up my hands in despair. But somehow, micro-inch by micro-inch, I managed to make my way through some really tough spots. Sadly, I had to google for Mr. O'Meara's first name and for that d&@$! rapper. Usually, I can get those guys from the crosses but not this morning.

Amazingly, I knew LASORDA, figured out that the Ahmed Adoudi clue wasn't testing my knowledge of the Middle East, loved discovering that my total failure of ever watching TV wasn't going to keep me from identifying the correct herb. I, too, was trying to figure out how to describe, informally, being two steps from needing Alcoholics Anonymous, but got THE BIGS once the G showed up. Yay me!

I didn't know the children's classic and ONAKICK was invisible, so that section took forever. In fact, I spent a very pleasant hour working my way through this one. Gotta agree with whoever wondered about REX watching Uptown Girl for the boys. By the way, my initial google for the rapper was "hard core." I don't recommend doing that, especially at work. Just the titles of the Google hits had me stunned by their explicitness.

@mathgent, start with Hamilton; it'll give you a real appreciation of the art form.

And about balding? How about just keeping your hair short? One ex son-in-law shaves his head but I think he's going for the Bruce Willis look; he has an ego the size of New England. The other ex SIL just keeps it very short and even though he is not nearly as handsome as SIL #1, I think he looks much better. It's those long, single strands that get so entertaining in the wind that I object to. But I'll admit that I'm pretty sure losing my hair would be very upsetting for me so I try not to be too judgmental.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

You're easy to please,RP. "Uptown" with its tired Four Seasons rehash along with its creator & his new bride marked the dénouement of MTV as a cultural vanguard. "Popping" 'kids' (really?) notwithstanding. A clever puz, tho. OREGANO a superb misdirection.

Masked and Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Ahmed Adoudi … primo sequel to the MISDO-DORAG-DODO puz. Beats bein ONAKICK with ACNE, any old day.

Luved the INN = {Overnight letters?} clue. Especially next to the {Feature of only two letters} one. Really psychs a masked dude out.

RESOAK. har. An enterprisin constructioneer could have a puztheme made up of all extra-creative RE- words, sometime. Examples: RE-LYE. RE-SIN. Overly runty thinkin? … thought so.

EROO. Coulda sworn this entry was dongin the death knell for this puz, RE: the @RP write-up. It is a tribute to this well-made grid with its cool words and clueins, that @RP was all thUmbsUp over it, anyhoo. Mighty well done, Mr. DiPietro.

BUSONI and LILKIM. Didn't make things any easier. Overalls, the puz played pretty tough, at our house. Had some overturned furniture. PuzEatinSpouse was startin to call the creator "Joe Dip". She'll hold a grudge, like that, sometimes…

Hey, thanx for the fun and feisty challenge, Mr. DiPieteroo. (Sorry. Compromise nickname, at our house, today only.) But … U MAS. U MAS.

MASked & Anonymo1U


John 1:41 PM  

The more complaints about acne, the more likely that Shortz will make sure it's in every puzzle from now until the end of time

Charley 2:36 PM  

Fem is indeed misspelled. Beyond that it's stereotypical and offensive.

Geophany 2:36 PM  

FEMS is tone deaf. Tried very hard to make it be something else. Reclue for MOMS? Just say no. So easy to avoid--FEDS FELS FEES..... ick.

Aketi 3:00 PM  

I almost put ZIT in at 59 down, but remembered ACNE was already in the puzzle.

Mr. B 3:39 PM  

Gosh...the SW section was the last to fall. Spent way too much time there...
As a Giants fan...oh yes, I know that LASORDA guy very well.
But it didn't help that I had KAt and just didn't see my misspelling of AcOst.
Wanted iNDi to be there too. I was cursing at the PBS guy whose name i didn't know...
and was wondering what the hell the scientific name for going bald THIN ON TOP was a real
headslap har har...

It's my personal goal is to do these puzzles without Mr. Google's help because it just feels like
a great accomplishment afterwards...but am just a bit battle-fatigued right now...whew!!!
Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

This one was a punishingly tough slog. I hate sports stuff and this one was stuffed with it. Who remembers or cares where all these interminable, indistinguishable bloody Olympics took place? What the heck are THE BIGS? I knew LASORDA from hearing my dad complain about him, but OMEARA? Don't know, don't care. No clue what SOLI is, who BUSONI was, and on and on. Felt stupider than usual and frustrated. (Please, please, please: no more ACNE and no more rappers. Ugh!)

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

LASORDA--for one of the great profane monologues listen to Tommy on You Tube as he discusses that @#$%&%$# Bevaqua. Priceless. Lasorda's claim he never ordered a pitcher to throw at a batter is right up there with Drysdale's comment that he never intentionally hit a batter.

Cheerio 4:01 PM  

This was very hard for me. Two words I've never read before: bovarism and sibilate, so that was fun.

Joe Bleaux 4:27 PM  

@Nancy, we might have passed one another somewhere way out on I-40 -- I spent a LOT of time in the SW today, too. No complaints, though, as this was a dandy Saturday puzzle per all the reasons already cited. . @LMS (et al), I also went with "crank" without blinking ... a regional thing, maybe? Now the hard part: Admitting that I don't get something. What's LOL funny about Ahmed Adoudi? "I met a dooty"? Is that a Bart-calling-Moe call (a la @Anon 9:32 reference to a Simpson joke)? If anyone will spell it out for me, I'll be grateful. Maybe a pet peeve here: Should the "lab" in the 43D (the PET TAXI I'd never heard of) have been "Lab," in general agreement with the capitalization rule on dog breeds (e.g., Yorkshire Terrier)?
PS -- Anyone else think "just maybe" on Irish War Cry in the Derby?

Unknown 4:34 PM  

Late to the party, don't know who'll see this. After 1h and 38 min., I finished. But... I don't get Ahmed Adoudi, and it seems I'm the only one in the universe who doesn't. Also I'm trying to understand Rex's criteria for a good puzzle. This one he likes. I keep reading about the mustiness that pervades the current crop of puzzles but this one he likes. Here are the clues: 1977, 1983, 1982, 1998, Old, Former, 1981 and 1988, 1988, and a rap album from 1996. Why is this a good one and others badly showing their age? Perhaps I'm just grumpy because it took me so long, but I thought the puzzle would get ripped for all the references to the past.

Joe Dipinto 4:53 PM  

I think this may qualify you as a "crank poster". ��

It took me awhile to get the "I made a doody" sense as well, which I would consider more an element of a prank call; to me a CRANK call implies that it contains a complaint or rant, or possibly something more sinister. But apparently the two terms are relatively interchangeable.

puzzlehoarder 4:55 PM  

I'm late because today's blog wouldn't show up on my phone until this afternoon. I did this puzzle on the tablet last night and it was a real slog. It was almost twice the time as Friday's exactly. As always the tablet slowed me down and it had been a busy day at the firehouse but mostly it was completely falling for clues like Sly, Herb, Ahmed, and AA. I don't care if Billy Joel sold a billion albums I wouldn't know the name of any of them. That golfer I only know dimly from puzzles. Completely forgetting ANTIVAXXERS from last week was the worst. Still I got it all. A reason for this was that some potentially difficult entries were first guess material. Good examples were WASHDISHES, WAFFLES and GAZASTRIP. It was feast or famine but in the end satisfying. I'm still at the firehouse so I'll be solving Sunday's puzzle on my tablet too.

Joe Dipinto 4:56 PM  

Well that thing that's showing up as question marks on my phone was supposed to be a "wink" emoji. Hope that's what others are seeing.

Hungry Mother 4:56 PM  

Usual long Saturday slog, but got it. Funny to use ANTIVAXXER so soon after learning it in a puzzle. Glad to see someone else who took around an hour and a half.

Nancy 4:59 PM  

This is why I come to this blog. I could have gone to my grave thinking that THE BIGS was something unspeakable that happens to drunks. Drunks who richly deserve it. I never thought of the big leagues. Let me remind everyone though, that in "Bull Durham," the major leagues are referred to as The Show. Since the screenwriter of BD labored in the minor leagues for a time, I assume that The Show is a lot more accurate than THE BIGS. But mostly, I'm more relieved than I can possibly say that I can have that extra glass of wine -- or even vodka -- and not develop THE BIGS, whatever they are.

@Malsdemare (12:56) -- I love your son-in-law anecdotes. Still, I hope SIL#2 doesn't read this blog.

@Two Ponies (9:53) -- Your Bovarism = MOO is the funniest thing on the blog today!

Joe Dipinto 5:24 PM  

@Nancy and @Two Ponies -- I love MOO as well! Totally hilarious!

jae 5:36 PM  

@mathgent - if you are interested the underpinnings of rap I'd recommend "The Get Down" series on Netflix. Using a fictional love story, it chronicles the emergence of the genre in New York City in the late '70s.

I'd also recommend the movies "Hustle & Flow" (which won an Oscar for best original song) and "Straight Outta Compton".

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

That anyone can be offended by fem or any other word in crossword puzzle is very funny. It's kind of like people who whine about cultural appropriation. Get over yourselves.

Rob 6:11 PM  

It took me 45 minutes to get through this, a big chunk of which was that evil southwest corner. Good puzzle though.

GILL I. 6:21 PM  

Getting Ahmed Adoudi "I made a doodie" made me thank my adult children for always putting on the Simpsons when they come to visit.
I LOVED this puzzle. I was so bummed by my lack of enjoyment yesterday, I needed this pick-me-up Di Pietro.
I worked hard...I laughed...I could not figure out the BEER KEG...but my favorite was trying to figure out AA's THE BIG S. Although I've never been to a meeting, I figured that final S probably had something to do with the shakes. Thanks @evil for setting me on the straight and narrow. I will poor myself another, thank you.
I love this Sat. cluing....all of it - especially "Italian bread that's become toast?" Was I looking at you crostini? Was I also looking at Mr. Herb OREGANO? This puts me in a good mood.
@mathgent. Couldn't you have made little dumplings?

Jared 7:28 PM  

Had ADAMANT for 1D, DESTROY for 3D and TOYOTA for 29A and it just totally threw off my game today. NW corner was hard has heck because of that.

Agree with Rex that it was a good puzzle overall.

Malsdemare 7:28 PM  

@Nancy, it's EX-SIL2 and he can eat my shorts, as the phrase goes.

Rabbi Michael Bernstein 10:04 PM  

I also was very bothered by FEMS. I put in MOMS (which would have been a nice answer I think) and then refused ti change it when it became obvious where the puzzle was going. So I ended up wit WAFMLES and ACROAGE and stubbornly left it that way. Having been a proplific crank caller once, I could have used one that didn't hinge on making fun of a "foreign" sounding name. YMMV.

L 10:36 PM  

ACNE, it needs to stop.

Hartley70 2:00 AM  

Picked this up and down today and I'm finally defeated by the SW. I can't go on. This was a bear for me. There were too many stumpers for me to handle..a baseball manager, an unknown composer, Master's winner from the distant past, an Olympic venue before the last few, Noah Schmoah, a flipping HEXAPOD, and an old Colt home. I think that last one is football but who can be sure, and I've never heard of the PBS program. I fell for the tricky Herb clue and thought he must be a tv chef.

There was some nice misdirection going on but the longer answers were just too far out of my general knowledge base. My bad. Congrats to all who found this a breeze!

Thanks for the pity party, @Nancy. You know me too well.

Leapfinger 2:30 AM  

Agree about having a run of excellent puzzles, and how nice to have an upbeat review!

@mac & @teedmn, you're right, Huns aren't Vandals, but could be considered vandals. Turns out it's a capital clue. Heh heh.

I was pretty busy in '98, so had aucune idee who won the Open and the Masters. It may have been Ben Stiller's Mom playing with my mind, but I tried every MEARA I could think of: MARJO, MARLO, MARNO. Finally remembered LI'L KIM...
Then, just to balance the score, I did the same as @Glimmerglass, regarding Herb O'REGANO... Dang names; have to go RESOAK my head.

Am I right that a PET_TAXI is an L.A. SORDA thing? Haven't come across those on the East Coast.

Got a kick out of the pair of 'sticks in the water' clues, way better than 'sticks in the mud'. Also had to laugh at @Malsdemare's 'eat my shorts', not sure why.

Hillary scaled Everest? What a dame!

evil doug 4:03 AM  

Yeah, made more sense to campaign up there instead of Wisconsin, I guess....

pauer 4:19 AM  

STEWART and STEW is fine, imo.

andrea carla michaels 5:42 AM  

Waaaay late to this party bec it took me two nights to finish this! Hung up on West side
Till LASORDA seeped thru
(I had SOng for things picked up in bars!)

I'm impressed how few black squares and had fun parsing things out, but MAN this puzzle is one of those hyper masculine overly sports crosswords that feel just this side of alienating.

SO much space given to RCADOME, MARKOMEARA, LASORDA, THE BIGS and unnecessarily giving ALBERTA yet another sports clue but the most final straw was making EDT about the Red Sox! Really?

Throw in BEERKEGS and an INNOCENT MAN and I felt like I walked into a noisy sports bar on a Friday night with a couple of KAPPAS sorority girls on the side.

And tho I agree it should be FEMME I guess there weren't too many other ways to define FEM (other than the opp of MASC) but gosh this was unwelcoming.

Even pRANKCALL had a puerile boy vibe to it. I like Joe and I think I generally like his puzzles and I love the challenge but this one felt (to me) like one of those boy tree house clubs with a scrawled sign that says "girlz keep out!"

hmmmm about STEW/STEWART... I'd have to go with not ideal... Except it helped me unconsciously finally get the Jon Stewart connection...
I went all biblical and was trying some variation of ShEm??? whom I think was one of Noah's sons.
(The GAZA STRIP/SHIMON Peres pairing
could be a starting point for huge discussion so I'm glad no one went there.)

The ACNE five days out of 7 is just plain weird.

And too bad the nice ANTIVAXXER entry was pre-empted by that fabulous DOSEQUIS puzzle last week with all those double XXs.
Outside the grid, re:ANTIVAXXERS...Apparently, there is a serious outbreak of measles among Somalians in Minneapolis as a result :(

@Loren Muse Smith
MR.T comment made me laugh... kvelling over your puzzle with Tracy Gray Thursday! Hope you are still celebrating!

Chris 7:25 AM  

My predictive text on "doms and fe____" turns up "fems" before "femmes". That they are similar graphically is possibly an underpinning for the spelling. And while some (many?) in the lesbian community would probably prefer there be no labels at all, these are not disagreeable any more than "butch" or "femmes", it seems.

Melissa 1:02 PM  

I was also put off by FEM. As someone who identifies as femme in a butch/femme relationship, the clue and answer were both pretty confounding. I was so baffled by what the answer could be that when I got F_ _ _ I actually for a millisecond wondered if the answer was the gay slur the begins with the same letter, so impossible did it seem that the answer could possibly be FEM. In all my decades identifying as and pondering the identify of what it means to be femme, I've never seen it spelled that way.

Much more galling is the use of "many" in the clue. Historically, butch/femme couples were marginalized within lesbian communities for being too derivative of traditional heterosexual gender roles, not sufficiently lesbian. There's a very real sense also that butches (and therefore femmes) in the age of trans are vanishing--some--notice, I'm not going to say "many" even though I think that might be correct--of those who would have identified as butch twenty years ago are now transitioning. The casual, tossed-off "many" in the clue therefore seems ignorant.

I'm not suggesting Will Shortz/crossword puzzle contstructors should be versed in the cultural conversations around gender queerness, but I do expect that as a New York Times joint the puzzle would be more nuanced. It's not a matter of being "offended" as the commenter above sniped. The NYT puzzle is where we expect each clue to hold up to the most surgical of dissections. We praise modern constructors for cleverly referencing the current cultural conversation, for not falling back on crappy fill for short answers. The clue and answer here seem outmoded, almost embarrassing. I agree with the commenter above that the racist clue for crank caller was also disappointing--in the same puzzle with FEMS this one makes me wish there were a public editor for the crossword.

Concerned Bystander 9:58 AM  

Sometimes when Me lissa, I think it only appropriate that U lysses also.

'I'm not suggesting...'? I'd say YesYouAre. Lighten Up, dear heart.

Lee 12:03 PM  

Don't understand the INN clue, can anyone help?

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Could someone please explain EDT. Rex six setting.

Anonymous 10:07 PM  

Excuse typo. Red Sox setting. EDT?

ShortShrift 2:19 AM  

@Unknown 12:03, Think of letter as one who has rooms "to let".
@Anon 10:07, the Sox play their home game in Eastern Daylight Time.

Burma Shave 10:01 AM  




rondo 11:14 AM  

Not exactly easy since my SENTRA was originally a SubaRu with a pRANKCALLER for good measure and Eon at first for ERA. Had to put on THE thinking cap in those areas. Tiger Woods has THE same number of letters as MARKOMEARA and they were best buds and neighbors; didn’t go with Tiger and MARKOMEARA showed up from THE famous Roberto Duran “No MAS” and the R from gimme ADHERES. Sports knowledge also saved me at RCADOME because Baltimore sure didn’t fit. Loved THE BIGS as an answer; Field of Dreams or Bull Durham type answer. LASORDA managed in THE BIGS for quite a while.

Couldn’t remember who was first, FROST or NIXON. Crosser DOT came in handy there.

BUSONI? If you say so. BEERKEG was easier for me.

Seems we still have a bad case of ACNE. Do you suppose Will is stringing these together on purpose? Starting to feel awfully pimply.

AGONY to my ears when she performs, but LILKIM can get a yeah baby nod, at least from what I recall from 20 or so years ago. Or you-know-who from DESTINY’s Child.

Soon off to meet @Diana, LIW and friend and @teedmn for a day of pre-MN Xword Puz Tourney diversions. Good thing for all the sports connections in this puz, otherwise I mighta HADIT.

spacecraft 11:33 AM  

Easy-medium? Hardly. And I do mean HARDly. This one is certainly day-appropriate, with a lot (DESTINY: har!) of convoluted clues that bend a brain fairly out of shape. It did not help to include a rapper--though in this case I've actually heard of LILKIM once it was filled in. BUSONI? No way. And had not the horrendous ANTIVAXXER appeared recently, I'm sure I would've DNF'ed this baby. BTW, y'all can take that weird word and retire it, for my money.

Had to laugh at myself in the toughest-of-all SW when my "Herb" turned out to be lower case! All clues begin with a cap, and sometimes constructors take full advantage. Herb, indeed!

Took me a while to make sense of the last clue across, what with "Mark" appearing just a couple of lines up, but then I recalled that iconic line from "The Sting:"

"You can't treat your friends like marks."

After all these cerebral ZAGS, I didn't want to RESOAK my brain trying to come up with a DOD; I'll let @rondo do the honors today. As Tommy Lee Jones once said to Harrison Ford, "Y'know, I'm glad it's over. I need the rest..." Birdie.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Puzzle so overloaded with pissers that only the potheads could imagine it enjoyable.

rain forest 6:20 PM  

I found this 3/4 easy, 1/4 impossible, to the point I did the puzzle in two stages, leaving the SW virtually blank for a couple hours. Came back and eventually, painfully, letter by letter finished it. Talk about your triumph factor.

Shoulda known the baseball manager right off, but was hung up on Larussa, not remembering which team won those Word Series. SCRAPES was my last entry, primarily because I've never heard of ENDOgenous.

ON A KICK/IRA was also tough. Just amazing how difficult one section of the puzzle was for me compared to the 3 easy sections. Overall, I liked it but that SW was verging on sloggishness.

sdcheezhd 8:50 PM  

I think this has it right:

Maybe you can find an excuse to use crank call. But at bottom it's just wrong.

kathy of the tower 8:51 PM  

@rondo,Diana,LIW,teedmn: I'll be at the Minnesota Crossword Tournament tomorrow. I'd like to meet you all. I'll be wearing a white tee shirt and blue pants, I wear blue glasses. I'll be by the first pillar on the observer side with a sign, though I intend to
compete. Hope to see you there.

Busoni 5:20 AM  

The BUSONI piano transcription of the Bach violin Chaconne has a pivotal role in "Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication, and Music" by James Rhodes. I just read it. (you should too!) —if only for the listening recommendations. At least listen to Rhodes play the Bach-Busoni Chaconne on YouTube!

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

I had no idea what bovarism is, but your comment made me chuckle!

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