Silent dramatic performance to Brits / SAT 8-5-17 / Mace-wielding DC Comics superhero / Word on bouteille de vin

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: NOE Valley (9D: San Francisco's ___ Valley) —
Noe Valley (/ˈn.i/ NOH-ee) is an affluent neighborhood in the central part of San Francisco, California. // Roughly speaking, Noe Valley is bounded by 21st Street to the north, 30th Street to the south, Dolores Street to the east, and Grand View Avenue to the west. The Castro (Eureka Valley) is north of Noe Valley; the Mission District is east. (wikipedia)

• • •
Look, except for -URE (er...) and PANTO (lol no), there is nothing wrong with this puzzle. Fill is clean, many answers are lively, or livelyish. So why did it leave me so cold. I had neither positive or negative feelings. It was just 7+ minutes of time spent filling in boxes. No laughs, no groans, no joy, no wincing. Something about it feels ... like a facsimile. Like a simulacrum of a puzzle. Like a sample puzzle, maybe in the background of a sitcom or something, and totally feels plausible and real, but ... you don't really care what's in it. It doesn't move you. Like books in the background of remote TV interviews. Whose books are those? Where are these people? Staged libraries? Their own offices? What was I talking about? Oh yes, the totally believable puzzleness of this puzzle. ESTE ENOKI NIGER SNORE. I feel like that stack of words is about representative of the Excitement Level I felt while solving. Lots of "?" clues, all of them fine, none of them great. Several colloquialisms, all of them fine, none of them great. Nothing very marquee about any of the longer answers. Stuff like NTH POWER and EAR DOCTOR feels like it should be NTH DEGREE and OTOLOGIST (or ENT). This puzzle was smooth, polished, somewhat antiseptic. Like a well-maintained Ramada Inn.

Nice clue on PEACE SIGN (1A: Double-digit figure?). Happy to learn (and undoubtedly immediately forget) "pogonologists" (51D: Things studied by pogonologists => BEARDS). My former student Libby Cudmore wrote a mystery novel that revolves around a MIXTAPE (available here). I miss MIXTAPEs. Took me forever to understand clue on BITES (52A: On-line jerks?). The "line" is a fishing line. Also took me a while to understand 53A: Draft picks? (OXEN). Had the "O" and wanted ... OLYS, to be honest. Do they have Oly on draft? In the NW, maybe? Does Oly even exist any more. Not sure. Dumbest thing I did with this puzzle was get JAPAN and then immediately jump over and write in ... [drum roll] ... SUMO. I had already seen the clue and misremembered it as saying [National *sport* of 10-Across]. And SUMO is correct for that imaginary clue. Just not for the actual clue. Only other major muff was HORA for HULA (?) (30D: Dance with strong percussion).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Trombone Tom 12:07 AM  

Still working on this after enjoying a crunchy gem from Liz Gorski over at WSJ. Carry On (!)

jae 12:08 AM  

Easy for me, I had more problems with the Fri. LAT (the NW corner was tough!)

My only erasure was Ent before EAR.

HAWKMAN was a WOE but the crosses made it pretty obvious.

The NIGER River was part of a recent meta, which was helpful.

PEACE SIGN and PET SOUNDS...'60 rock and roll is still unmatched.

Some good stuff here, liked it.

If you are looking for a more challenging Sat. I would recommend the July 14, 1997 puzzle by A J Santora from the NYT archives. I did finish it but it took a very long time.

Brian 12:28 AM  

I was flying through this puzzle until I hit the SW. Didn't get the clue for BITES until reading Rex's explanation. I was pretty sure HAWKMAN couldn't be right (so DC has Hawkman and Marvel has Hawkeye?), but it worked. ENOKI was 100% crosses.

The clue on PANTO is a mess, a Brit would think of something almost entirely opposite a "silent dramatic performance" if they heard the word.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:37 AM  

I will take a Saturday puzzle with clever wordplay over one with obscure/dated references anytime. I enjoyed this. I agree that it may not be memorable, but hey, it was smooth, it made you think (but not super hard), and was mostly crosswordese free. That's a good Saturday in my book.

thursdaysd 12:48 AM  

Pretty smooth, and I was happy to make it through a Saturday with no help.

BUT the clue for PANTO is flat wrong. A Britiah PANTOmime is a loud, raucous, Christmas entertainment for kids. Aside from a flimsy plot based usually on a fairy story, there is music, dance, jokes and audience participation. This is lazy cluing and/or lazy editing, and it slowed me down because I couldn't think what the clue was getting at.

Trombone Tom 12:50 AM  

I enjoyed this smooth one from David Phillips, but it didn't come easily as I got hung up in the NE. I had a hard time making the transition from scratch to RASP.

A couple of WOE's: pogonologist could have referred to Walt Kelly for all I know. And no clue about the enemy captain in Star Trek. But the crosses were fair.

I liked the clue for AD LIB.

Unknown 12:54 AM  

For the record, my original clue for PANTO was [Bit of Christmas theatre, briefly]. My definition of PANTO (i.e. the modern-day definition) is based upon this Christmas special of the Weakest Link:

thursdaysd 1:10 AM  

@David Phillips. My apologies. In that case the error is on the editor.

WhoisMark 1:28 AM  
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WhoisMark 1:29 AM  

I went for OTOLOGIST in ink with no crosses and had to pay the price doing repair work in the SE.

Larry Gilstrap 1:41 AM  

I'm back after a week of camping at the beach. I got sand in my everything, even my string cheese. Fortunately, not so much in my swim shorts. Avoid that RASH at all costs. Exhibit A: my seven year-old nephew hobbling back to camp with a pitiful look on his face.

I graduated from high school in '66, yeah Tartans! The Beach Boys were part of the soundtrack of that era, but for some weird reason I misread the clue and was looking for the title of a Rolling Stones album. PET SOUNDS is a great album filled with pop songs written from the perspective of kids living in an adult dominated culture. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" if we were older and could sleep together without those cultural restrictions keeping us apart. Does this type of innocence still exist in popular culture, or even in real life? Netflix and chill!

Remember a few weeks back when folks on this blog were belaboring the whole CRU thing. Hard to refute the way it is clued in 63D, but I'm certain one of you can find a nit.

I'm genetically programmed to be hirsute. I had nothing to do with it. Sometimes, I've heard folks say, "Oh, you're growing a beard." No, technically I'm just not shaving, I'm always growing a beard even when I'm clean shaven. Ask any pogonologist that you meet at, say a cocktail party. On a tangent: "I have met the enemy and he is us," should probably be "...he is we." @Walt Kelly.

Robin 2:40 AM  

Like others, I thought the SW was a pain. Since it was a Saturday, I suppose I can't complain too much, but if it wasn't for all the crosses, I would have never have gotten ENOKI.

Other than that, some interesting clueing. Doing an initial scan through the clues, I think PANTO was the first answer I filled in.

Mike 2:55 AM  

One of my fastest saturdays ever until the SW. I knew ENOKI but I just couldn't see ANAIS NIN despite four crossing letters. Sigh. Eventually the light turned on and I was done.

chefwen 3:09 AM  

Really wanted ales for 53A, didn't even work for a minute. Loved the clue for PIÑATA, had me fooled, I was looking for some Frat boy.

Started out tough, went to easy and then back to tough. Liked it, thanks David.

Loren Muse Smith 3:30 AM  

Finally – a Saturday I managed to finish. @chefwen – my goof that stayed in the grid until the very end: “ales” for OXEN. Great clue, that.

The only fill-in-the-blank I didn’t know, so I had the rare experience of having 1A as my first entry. I agree with Rex - nice clue, but I saw past it. I also really liked the clue, “Reform?” for MORPH.

With total disregard to “Stones” in the clue, I wrote in “The Stones” before I finally got PET SOUNDS. Now there’s a weird album name, huh? When I go for a walk in the woods, my dogs get euphoric. (They lounge around all day near the house, the woods right there for their enjoyment, but then never go on their own.) So yesterday, as they’re jumping around waiting for me to lace my boots, Molly, (my avatar) as usual, kept making her Excited Sound. And I, as usual, kept telling her she sounded like Chewbacca. It’s our little thing.

Fun to learn not only that there are people out there who study BEARDS, but that they’re legit because they’ve been assigned an official name. I can’t even. I googled it, and mainly I just got dictionary definitions. No cool site expounding on exactly what these guys do. What is there to study? I can’t let it go, found these two NYT entries from waaaay back:

POGONOTOMY Shaving: Humor. (1954) no idea about that “humor” part.
POGONOTROPHY Beard growing (1962)

It would follow, then, that a barber shop with a good pogonotomist does a lot of business situated in a place where pogonotrophy is the norm. So if there’s a contest for the most startling beard, does s/he get a pogonotrophy trophy?

(I tend to have a bit of a peach fuzzy werewolf thing going around my jowls. Ok – you can’t really see it unless the light hits it just right, but I deal with it. Your day is now complete.)

@Larry G – hirsute is a most excellent word.

Like that acoustic southeast corner with SOUNDS, EAR, LISTEN. I’ve always noticed that you can say either LISTEN or look for “now see here.”

Listen, you better shave that beard before you put your dress on.
Look, you better shave that beard before you put your dress on.

I agree that this is a well-made puzzle. That southeast is a really nice corner. And I appreciated the CAT/LEFT ALONE. Well, yeah. Duh. Actually, our cat was pretty affectionate. Sad CAT Diary

Lewis 6:28 AM  

Enjoyed the clues for SPEEDREAD, PINATA, and JIM, noticed an ATE in, and that LEFT indeed is. Loved the cross of PINATA and SLAMMER.

One of the best crossword experiences is setting a word down after a sudden realization of what it is and then, in one swoop, filling in a whole section, seeing word after word. This happened to me three times in this puzzle -- when even once for me is rare on a Saturday -- and left me positively giddy. Thank you for that, David!

Z 7:17 AM  

Oly is no longer brewed in Olympia, but the brand still exists, owned by Pabst I believe.

Glimmerglass 7:26 AM  

Donkey before PINATA. Probably one of my fastest Saturdays, but I still wouldn't call it easy. Some nice, tricky misdirection. I have a hard time with @Rex's dislike of a puzzle with nothing wrong with it. Huh?

File as fog 7:35 AM  

It's actually June 14. I know coz I just looked it up. Trying it now - thanks for the reco!

Jon Alexander 7:39 AM  

Puzzle felt like a HASBEEN - okay quality, just not a star quality

tkincher 7:46 AM  

Pacific NW checking in, Oly on draft is a thing, but not necessarily a good thing. Tough but fair puzzle, I thought. Forgot what a loonie was.

"The Big Rewind" was a good read! I picked it up before a long work trip last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Johnny 8:02 AM  

I had a DNF and as I pointed out after my last DNF this simply never happens to me ever.

My first pass through and I had almost nothing. Then I guessed at ADLIB and the whole puzzle collapsed before me like a house made of popsicle sticks constructed by small children with short attention spans but no glue. It just fell and fell and fell . . .

. . . until I got to the SW. Then I got nothing. Just nothing. After staring at it for what seemed like a gazillion lifetimes I finally peeked here, and realized I would never have gotten those answers in twelve thousand centuries.

I feel the blame lies with our permissive society.

Two Ponies 8:14 AM  

Interesting quote from Ms. Nin. Nice to see her entire name for once.
Great clue for oxen.
Learned what a pogonologist is. Walt Kelly indeed.
The best part of this solve was getting to see what album had such a high ranking from Rolling Stone.
As expected, I disagreed.

Dean 8:26 AM  

@David Phillips Thanks for clarifying. You were dead right, your editor flat wrong, and I hope you will pass that along for me. Having attended many a panto during my years in the UK, that clue threw me badly.

Annette 8:35 AM  

If it wasn't for Harry Potter, I wouldn't have a single toehold; all Quidditch positions end in -ER, and that was enough to get me in. Loved the puzzle, though insisting on "crash" for ADLIB held me for quite a while.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

It ranged from ridiculously easy (NW) to ridiculously hard (SW). And in addition to the PPP (more about that in a minute) there were three wrong answers that caused me much grief. Two were next to each other. I had CAN YOU GO instead of WANT TO GO at 37D and at 36D, I "got" einsteIN off the last two letters. Between the two of them, along with not knowing the superhero at 35A (can we stop with the superheroes already?) nor the Quidditch position (ditto!) nor the mushroom, everything was a hot mess down there.

Not quite as bad, but not good either, was the NE, where I kept trying to shoehorn some form of, and spelling of, PERENNIAL where PER ANNUM should have gone (12D.) And was there any way I wouldn't know one of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"? (57A). Yes, Dear Reader, there was. I never heard of the damn thing and it sure doesn't sound like music to my ears. Maybe I should get an EAR DOCTOR.

All the "crunch" for me in this puzzle was the wrong kind of crunch. It had some very good stuff in it such as PEACE SIGN and SPEED READ and EAR DOCTOR, but the parts that annoyed me really annoyed me. I did end up finishing. But not nearly as entertaining, nor as challenging, as yesterday's.

Teedmn 9:33 AM  
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Teedmn 9:37 AM  

Easy and PB1 smooth - thanks David Phillips!

My only writeover today is rethinking TECH. I wrote it in, then read the "Darn it!" clue. Aha, says I, it is one of those imperative clues where the answer has to be "sock", which would wreak havoc with TECH. HECK, I then said, let's not go there.

I solved this working clockwise so I ended up in the SW through natural progression rather than difficulty. I used @Annette's technique for 46D, filling in the -ER. A five letter mushroom in an Asian dish had to be ENOKI (I love the way they look but they don't have the flavor of shitakes or oyster mushrooms, at least to my PALATE). So SEEKER it was at 46D.

I didn't have to FERRET out much here, though I just noticed a second writeover which didn't leave a black ink trail. I had to re-read 8D to notice that I should have GENESES rather than -IS. I only noticed because I couldn't think of many words that started with Yi (YIP comes to mind). Changing an I to an E is a subtle change especially since my handwritten grid is definitely SANS SERIF.

Lots of fun today, no SPEE DREAD or PETS' OUNDS. (And "pogonologists" has me hearing Paula Poundstone asking "Who starts these studies, Peter?"). It makes me wonder if there's a group that studies "breads".

Amie Devero 9:51 AM  

Thanks for this explanation. I filled it easily, but only because i am an American who lived in UK for many years -- so did a kind of meta-interpretation. Ergo, the clue left me complaining like Trombone T, despite getting it.

Tita 9:53 AM  

@Glimmer...same here with donkey.
Near natick at SEE_ER/ENO_I...guessed right with alphabet run.

Puzzle started off really easy... Was ever so proud at getting 1A with no crosses. ALFAROMEO was a welcome gimme...I had a Fiat 850 Spider that looked much like the Alfa.
But then it got hard. Cried foul at YEAHoKNOW with IMOKAY in the grid. My bad. That reinforced donkey, and held me up a good long time.
@Lewis' description of his solving journey is exactly how things went for me too.
That always makes for a great Saturday challenge.

Thanks Mr. Phillips.
(Oh...cANTO held me up a good long time...even though it made no sense with the 'silent' part of the clue...)

Amie Devero 9:54 AM  

Overall, this was fun because it was smooth, well-clued (with some very clever plays) and untaxing. But that is to say it fell short of the challenge I expect on Saturday. Felt more Wednesday-ish.

DrBB 9:58 AM  

Ten minutes for me, unusually fast for a Saturday (my target is 15-20) which is kind of a disappointment. I WANT my Saturday workout. Hardest thing here was believing it was as easy as it was. Sometimes you just go with your first guess on a long fill just for fun, but that risk almost never pays off on a Saturday. So when ALFA ROMEO worked it suggested that this puzzle was aimed at Wednesday-level difficulty and I just went with it. Could have gone even faster but I kept expecting to get jammed up somewhere--a NYT *Saturday* puzzle after all!--but it never happened. Only bit that held me up a little was 38D/53A. I've been so trained to expect ALES for "Draft picks" and my memory for ST movie villains is too fuzzy to be sure it wasn't something ending in A, so I couldn't see it right off. But the rest of the corner fell so easily it wasn't much of a delay.

PANTO was the only one that grated on me, not so much because the clue contained an error but b/c it strikes me as a crossword-ese abbreviation that no one actually says. Never heard any of my many Brit friends refer to it as anything but "pantomime" but maybe that's just me. POGONOLOGISTS was a treat: you want a Saturday to be at least a *little* recondite don't you? As was PETSOUNDS though more because it is an absolute classic--the opposite of recondite, or should be (McCartney credits it for inspiring the Beatles to come up with Sgt Pepper, f'r goodnessake).

(how can anyone not know the Beach Boys/Brian Wilson's greatest album, credited with spurring the Beatles to answer with Sgt Pepper???)

RooMonster 10:02 AM  

Hey All !
Apparently this was an easy puz, as the timer says 27:13. That has to be a record for me. I'm usually over an hour on a SatPuz (and that's with cheating!).

Few writeovers, Youbetcha-YEAHbuddy-YEAHIKNOW, Onea-OXEN, aOrta-NODES, bestofs-MIXTAPE, china-JAPAN(Har).

SW, thought it was NIGER, but didn't commit at first, luckily had enough to see ANAIS NIN (known from doing crosswords!), which got me ENOKI. No real hangups anywhere else. Didn't feel INEPT doing this one! Luckily know cars in general, so ALFAROMEO a good first entry. Not as big a fan of DC as Marvel, but HAWKMAN was still a woe. Every time I see a clue Luke 34A, Cult follower?, I think it should be a ?? clue.


mathgent 10:07 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one. Some nice things in it. Good crunch, three or four clever clues, learned something, but ...

I got stuck in the NE last night and handed it over to The Closer. She got NTHPOWER almost immediately and we finished it off. What does that have to do with "High degree of proof?" I inquired. She took it to be a synonym for "nth degree." I don't know what it has to do with a proof. The degree of a polynomial is the highest power of x it contains. And polynomials appear in proofs. I suppose that if you stick a question mark into a clue anything goes.

I expected someone to complain about ANA crossing ANAIS.

Enjoyed looking up Ana Ortiz and learning that she is the charming actress who was in Ugly Betty.

I suppose that Loonies having eleven sides must mean something to Canadians. The number of provinces?

The article Rex quotes calls Noe Valley an affluent area. Not really. Solidly middle-class. Lots of quaint little restaurants.

AW 10:08 AM  

How does a coin (2D loonie) have ELEVEN sides?

This one was a DNF for me. ADLIB, SINE, PETSOUNDS, ANA, NOE—nope, all blanks.

And SRA (59A) for a queen? Anyone who called the Spanish queen "señora" likely would have been felled on the spot for gross impudence. Look what happened when a pol tried to call Queen Elizabeth II "Mrs. Windsor":

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

I liked this one though relatively easy. My only struggle was 11-down because nobody I know wears anoraks.

Bill Feeney 10:20 AM  

Saw Brian Wilson this past spring on his "Pet Sounds" tour. He had Al Jardine with him. It was sad to see how he had to be escorted on and off the stage. But it was still a thrill to see a musical wonder as we were informed how he had written all the musical parts to the songs. As someone mentioned above, the album was a trigger for "Sgt Pepper". Because neither could hit the high notes any more, Al Jardine's son was there and the similarity to the original sound was uncanny.

Birchbark 10:21 AM  

Knew nothing of the 36 down quote, but with only second "A" in place knew it had to be ANAIS NIN -- the duct tape of Crossworld.

I misdirected myself, if that's possible, on SANS SERIF. Had the SANS, but assumed "Unembellished type" meant type of person. I thought, "The only SANS I know is SANS SERIF, but I've never seen it applied to a type of person." So that stayed blank until the crosses brought it home. It pays not to overthink the clues.

Like @Loren and @DrBB, I had ALES as draft picks until the crosses fixed it. DrBB, I actually threw down SGT PEPPER for PET SOUNDS, knowing it was wrong but remedied it pretty quickly.

Stanley Hudson 10:26 AM  

A stiff Bloody Mary helped move this puzzle right along, the pleasure enhanced by a rare August rain here in NorCal.

Hard to believe PET SOUNDS was released over a half century ago. Still holds up nicely.


Alison 10:45 AM  

Thank you, David Phillips! Thoroughly enjoyable!

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Nice. Using pornography to illustrate a peace sign. You have the morals of a goat. Worst of all you don't even see your error.

GHarris 10:51 AM  

Peace sign came to mind immediately and I thought "wow, I've reached a new level of puzzle solving ". Moved rather quickly through the rest until I got to the SW. Thought I remembered the Japanese mushroom as etoki. To make that work I invented a sister for Jane Austin (sic) named An and a new class of online trolls known as butes. All in all I enjoyed the puzzle and am satisfied with my performance.

Jett 10:51 AM  

It's a crossword puzzle, Rex, nothing more nothing less. Maybe you just have too much invested in being Number Nine to appreciate the simple joy of the diversion.

puzzlehoarder 10:56 AM  

This was more fun than a barrel full of monkeys and a perfect antidote to the late week puzzles from '94 that I was doing yesterday at the firehouse. Doing this on paper at home enhanced the enjoyment. The only delays I had were at the choke points with the shorter entries. Many of the longer entries such as PEACESIGN and SANSSERIF were gimmies. In the NE corner I actually found PERANNUM easier to come up with than JIM, weird. I didn't stay up last night to solve online because those old puzzles tired me out. A Saturday from 2/19/1994 was particularly tough and when compared to today's makes a perfect example of the difference between the old school style of construction and the new.
I always check the xword clue lists after I solve. Today I noticed that SPEEDREAD has appeared only once before. It was in the Maleska era and the two different clues are an excellent contrast of the different editor's style of cluing.

Mohair Sam 10:59 AM  

The ideal Saturday solve for us - we were actually kind of pissed off at first with PPP that was obscure to us (DC comics, Quidditch positions, a Star Trek we haven't seen, and arbitrary album rankings - I don't even remember the names of albums I owned). Then we got the gimme at SNORE, figured it had to be the NIGER or Congo above that, then ESTE, and guessed a long down from that and began to slowly build around the puzzle. Fun clues, clever misdirects, a couple of aha's - what more do you want from puzzling? Good stuff.

Played medium here. Great clues for ADLIB, PEACESIGN, and SPEEDREAD. Had "Onea" for OXEN for a long time (Draft picks?), cost a ton of time. Had SAKE not filled before we got to the NE and made JAPAN a gimme we might have dnf'd - tough corner. People are getting paid to study BEARDS? Not with taxpayer money I pray (don't tell me). Isn't good old ANAIS NIN just the greatest sounding name? Lived in England for three years and I too was ready with a PANTO complaint - thanks for chiming in Mr. Phillips.

Bought a used Fiat Spider dirt cheap in the early '70s. Never had a car rust out so fast (Syracuse winters), but never had a car so quick and nimble either - just a blast to drive. How'd ALFAROMEO get the label?

Excellent Saturday workout David Phillips - thanks.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Filled in the whole thing, then got the "almost, not quite" message. Rechecked everything. Finally gave up and asked to be shown the error of my ways. Note to self: "sake" not "saki".... sigh.

As someone who can't spell, I quite enjoyed the puzzle.

Joe Bleaux 11:07 AM  

I loved this puzzle, especially after yesterday's debacle of a performance (mine, not the constructor's). I felt, by turns, pretty damn good (getting SANS SERIF on only the SE) to pretty damn stupid (having A_A_S_IN in front of me without seeing ANAIS NIN.) Got off to a good start by having the @Lewis experience in the SE, where SPEED READ broke it open. From there, backtracked to the SW, which I finally left partially solved before moving on to the NE (you too with ALFA ROMEO, @Lewis?), then SAKE led to JAPAN and a steady fall of the SE before my return to finish the tough SW. I wonder if David Philips set a record (I stopped counting at 10) with all the mostly very clever "?" clues. The BITES clue was exceptionally good (as Brits might say "Mind the Hyphen"). Can't ask for a better Saturday puzzle, says I. @old timer (from yesterday). You're right about the demise of afternoon newspapers being at the heart of that "quaint" qualifier. I'm guessing your moniker is apt.

jae 11:17 AM  

@File is Fog - Sorry about the month error. The tough Sat. is June 14, 1997. Dyslexia is frustrating.

Joseph Michael 11:25 AM  

Best puzzle of the week

GILL I. 11:37 AM  

In some ways, I agree with @Rex. Someone upstairs likened the puzzle to a PB1 and I sorta agree except it was lacking some jelly. I should have jumped for joy when I immediately got PEACE SIGN and I thought the clue was clever in a Snidely Whiplash way, but that was it.
Never heard of a loonie but what else but ELEVEN would fit? ALFA ROMEO - easy peasy..(I loved those pieces of caca cars...Looked great - fell apart lickety split) and then on to NOE. Noe is affluent? Not really. You want affluent you gotta go to Pacific Heights or Russian and Nob Hill. It's nice, though..
Am I reading the PINATA clue wrong? Not all of them are animals like, say, a donkey. Along with the PANTO clue, I wasn't crazy about the PINATA clue.
@Larry G....I was the insistent AH on the CRU business. Someone emphatically stated that CRU did not mean vineyard and I basically told him/her to go buy une bouteille de vin and shove it up the Loire region.
PET SOUNDS and BEARDS...All the men in my life (son, daughter's boyfriend, husband - who has finally shaved) have BEARDS. Am I now the Mother of all Pogonologists?

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Since when is a hula a dance with "strong percussion"? Really?

prandolph 11:46 AM  

Puzzle was medium for me, no problem with SW, got held up in SE before it all came together. Had crunch, liked it.

Lewis 11:47 AM  

@joe --It was PEACESIGN before ALFAROMEO for me in the NW...

Nancy 11:49 AM  

I'm enjoying the comments more than the puzzle:

@Mohair (10:59) -- Even a dyed-in-the-wool liberal like me doesn't want my tax dollars going to people who study BEARDS any more than you do. Great comment. Oh, and I also think that your ONE A is a much better answer to 53A than OXEN.

@mathgent (10:07) -- If math expert You didn't see NTH POWER as a sensible answer to "high degree of proof", then I feel much better about saying: I didn't *get* the clue, either.

@AW (10:08) -- I had the same thought when I saw Queen Isabella called a SRA. I loved your comment. Felled on the spot. Absolutely.

DeeJay 11:57 AM  

Tons of good clues and answers in this puzzle. Tons.

jberg 12:17 PM  
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jberg 12:18 PM  

I finished the puzzle at 9:20 and had to leave the house 10 minutes later, so no time to comment. Everything I wanted to day about PANTO, SRA,and how I knew what ENOKI are but couldn't remember how to spell them.

I will add, though, that IMO the national drink of Japan is green tea, hands down. Not that they don't drink SAKE, but it's not the same.

And if you don't think the clue for PANTO is not wrong, all I can say is "OH YES IT IS!"

Here's proof.

jberg 12:19 PM  

Oops. I meant Here's proof.

Lee Coller 12:19 PM  

Went easy for me until 36D crossed with 41A and 60A as well as 46D with 60A. Didn't know the mushroom, the Actress Ortiz, and the only Harry Potter is what I know from crosswords, for some reason I recognized it as a Harry Potter clue, but had no idea what it was. Once I got 36 down by running the alphabet I looked at it and thought "who is Ana Isnin"? As I didn't know the quote. It wasn't until I googled it I realized it was (as described above) the Ducttape of Xwords, Anais Nin. I don't think I've ever seen the name fully spelled out in a puzzle, It's almost always clued as Essayist Nin, or Essayist Anais, etc.

Carola 12:36 PM  

Easy and enjoyable. Did a clockwise sweep from ALFA ROMEO x ELEVEN around to ANAIS NIN x ANA. Favorites: PEACE SIGN, SLAMMER, HAS-BEENS, MIXTAPE.

For fans of PET SOUNDS, I recommend the documentary The Wrecking Crew, about the studio session musicians who played on the album (und on many, many more hits). Super movie!

old timer 12:41 PM  

I thought calling a queen SRA was INEPT for sure.

DNF here. One pitfall of solving on paper is there is no Happy Pencil to say you are right. So I replaced "ales" with "axes" and must have thought "sodes" was a word. Too bad, because had I gotten the correCt OXEN I would have smiled at the clever clue.

For the longest time I wanted "mister" to follow "Now see here" and therefore "admit" instead of ADLIB. I suspect that was in the original draft of this puzzle because "Now see here" is not a very good clue for LISTEN.

When I started practicing law "joint" was the usual term meaning state prison. SLAMMER was seldom used but if it was used it meant a lockup or county jail, never "prison".

Masked and Anonymous 12:57 PM  

So, CAT is the new Monopoly token, huh? What did they get rid of, then -- the lead pipe? M&A doesn't get to play many board games, anymore. Do play "pictionary" with the kinfolk, on some of the big holidays.

Really, about all the contents in this SatPuz grid was pretty easy-ish. Some of the clues tried real hard to mess U up, tho: Quidditch positions and pogonologists, f'rinstance. Even auto-correct thinks Quidditch and pogo+ look suspect.
Also, lotsa single-? clues ... 8 of em, approximately. Can there be such a thing as clue desperation? Speakin of fishy: that BITES clue had some nice bite to it.

staff weeject pick: URE. With appropriately desperate clue, thanx U. ARE, ERE, IRE, ORE, … URE! Way to barge in there and plant a flag where U ain't welcome, lil vowel darlin.

Sooo … some people study *beards*? That sounds kinda like one of them obscure government jobs. Other similar jobs:
* Study the history of Monopoly tokens.
* Study of Quidditch stats.
* Study of weejects.

Agree in total with @RP: miss the MIXTAPEs. Musts for the M&A mixtape that alas never will be …

* "I Got a Rocket in My Pocket" - Jimmy Lloyd.
* "Wedding Cake Island" - Midnight Oil.
* "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw" - Jimmy Buffett.
* "Babalu's Wedding Day" - The Eternals.
* "Theme for Young Lovers" - The Shadows.
* "Can I Get a Witness" - Marvin Gaye.
* "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" - The Seeds.
… + a few hundred more.
But, I digress.
@RP: Would a CD do?

Thanx, Mr. Phillips. Double crosses in yer crossword grid design. Primo.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Sunnyvale Solver 1:04 PM  

Seemed like every other clue had a ? - too many, though most were fair.

PET SOUNDS was the highlight.

Best clue: "Spider maker" - took me a while to figure that one out.

Only real complaints are PANTO and being asked for a Star Trek enemy captain. There are so many better ways to clue NERO.

Mohair Sam 1:52 PM  

@M&A - Interesting MIXTAPE. Just a tad eclectic. Did you know that "Babalu's Wedding Day" was bastardized into the theme for the Big Bob Lewis (Bob-a-Loo) Show, a New York DJ about 50 years ago?

The Buffett song always touches the sentimental side of each of us, a universal top tenner.

CDilly52 2:03 PM  

Thanks for weighing in Mr. Phillips! Editor's error. The clever clues made this a very enjoyable Saturday. The lack of dreck coupled with the very fair crossings in the difficult places (for me the Star Treck captain, HAWKMAN) resulted in a very polished puzzle. And learning a new word (pogonologist) is always a bonus. Hand up for thinking Walt Kelly on that one, @trombonetom! Enjoyed it.

Joe Dipinto 2:51 PM  

I found this to be a piece of cake. My point of departure was PET SOUNDS and then I travelled clockwise around the grid till I arrived in JAPAN. No pauses or lulls along the way. I liked the fill.

"The band members of the various GENESES are all HAS-BEENS."

"YEAH I KNOW. But they're playing tonight (tonight (tonight)). WANT TO GO?"

"What time?"


"Nah, that's too LATE. I'M OKAY. I'd rather be LEFT ALONE so I can LISTEN to my HULA MIXTAPE."

OISK 3:07 PM  

I seldom have nice things to say about a puzzle that defeats me, but this is the exception. I had "ales" for draft picks, and never changed it. How would I know the captain wasn't Nera? Miltape seemed strange, but I am out of touch with that lingo. Sodes? At that point I should have known what aled me. Fine Saturday puzzle.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 3:16 PM  

Panto was the first answer I got. They do say that in England .

Joe Dipinto 3:20 PM  

"I think I'll SPEEDREAD something that's printed in a SANS SERIF typeface. Maybe the new book ANAIS NIN just wrote."

"She's dead, JIM."

Joe Bleaux 3:42 PM  


Hungry Mother 4:02 PM  

My usual slog, but I got through it unscathed. I ultimately knew all of the answers except understanding BITES. I thought it took forever, since I started at about 5:20am and finished at about 3:40pm. Meantime, I ran a 5K race, went shopping, had lunch, and go my gear ready for another 5K tomorrow. My official time was 1:02 (over an hour, not under two minutes). It was well under my Saturday average, but I can't fathom why I couldn't have got it faster. Do I think slowly? Do I lack a good strategy? Anyway, It was fun.

TCProf 4:30 PM  

Does anyone else think a Loonie has two sides (heads and tails). It has 11 edge angles or facets or whatever, but only two sides

RAD2626 5:18 PM  

Challenging but fair. Made the same donkey mistake as some others and stalled on SANS SERIF because I had kEEpER in for the Quidditch player. Also had the NDS so tried BookeNDS even though I could not believe it was right and it was a letter short. Pretty weak effort on my part. Finally confidently put in PERiodic on the strength of the first three letters. At least that had the right number of letters. Not sure NTH POWER needed a ? Liked the puzzle a lot.

Phipps44 12:33 PM  

I agree, fun puzzle.

OwenKL 7:41 PM  

If you like a villanelle, check out LAT Crossword Corner comments today.

kitshef 10:44 PM  

Some nice clues, but overall just not enough trickery for a Saturday.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

So poetic! And spot on to boot.

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

The clue wasn't "national drink." ... "spirit."

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5wksltr 10:13 AM  

Why did the puzzle leave Rex so cold? I dunno, but maybe because it's an inconsequential word game we all love but has zero effect on our lives. Or perhaps because after decades of solving we remember maybe half a dozen puzzles where we wondered "How in the world did the constructor manage to put this together?" or thought "Cool!" the first time we saw a puzzle with rebuses or the elision of letters in answers.

And apropos of nothing, anyone else about ready to strangle the people who use the word "crunchy" to describe puzzles?

Burma Shave 10:55 AM  




rondo 11:13 AM  

YEAHIKNOW, crunchy not my fave, but I get it. One w/o word where my draft picks were at first alEs.

I made a few MIXTAPEs back in the day. Nothing from PETSOUNDS was included. I was REMISS.

I WANTTOGO with ANA Ortiza as yeah baby.

IMOKAY with this puz, surely not a SNORE.

kathy of the tower 11:24 AM  

I whipped this baby out during my first two cups of coffee. Wild guesses were right, things just kept falling. HECK and BEARDS surprised me, but that's what fit.

I always choose the top hat as my token in Monopoly, but if I play with a new set I'm gonna grab the cat.

spacecraft 11:47 AM  

YEAHIKNOW, those ELEVEN loonie sides bothered me, too. I mean, six letters, first letter E...what else you gonna put? But David, you got some 'splainin' to do on that one.

Lots of WOEs, including one for me that probably was a flat gimme for most. Among the categories that leave me farther behind than just LATE, such as timelines, is album titles. I know maybe...three. Filled the last across on crosses, then looked it up--'cause I couldn't have told you for my life who cut it! Oh, the Beach Boys. OKAY, if you say so.

Started with JIM-->JAPAN-->PERANNUM-->SAKE and did fine from there. In the SE, I had ADLIB, SINE, SRA, LISTEN and INROAD: so BEA___ for the pogonologist thingy. Yikes, spellcheck doesn't even like that word! But just visually, BEARDS would give three nice endings: -TOR, -EAD and -NDS. So that was intuition. Had to come here to learn the explanation for BITES. And really, STRONG (emphasis mine) percussion for the HULA????? More 'splainin', dude.

Despite these WOEs I managed to finish correctly, guessing well on the SEEKER position. It took forever to watch NTHPOWER emerge. For a while I thought I'd messed up somewhere in the NE. The lovely ANA Ortiz will do very nicely as DOD. Good, tough Saturday; birdie.

You know, I bet that HULA clue was a single-letter misprint: STRING percussion fits perfectly!

Diana,LIW 2:04 PM  

Sometimes my errors are my favorite part of a puzzle - they are so ridiculous. Like OnEs for my draft pick (you know, 'one a") leading to the ever-well-known "mint ape." Of course. And major Natick in SW, knowing neither the mushroom nor anything about Quidditch. Is it a game? A movie? An app? A monster? A breed of cat? It certainly is not Nova lox.

But had fun filling in all the squares, especially getting PEACESIGN right off the bat. Wanted "donkey" before PINATA became obvious. Loved that the puzzle was heavy on wordplay instead of trivia. (Almost said trivia dreck, but that's just my personal opinion and bias.)

@Spacey - look up the Loonie coin on line and you'll see the eleven sides. I think I've seen reference to the uke being called a percussion instrument before, though I wouldn't think that.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 2:39 PM  

@D,LIW - Quidditch is a ball-chase game played on flying brooms in the Harry Potter series.

leftcoastTAM 3:12 PM  

The North was relatively easy; the South, challenging, not just relatively but more like absolutely.

A tricky link between them was PINATA (wanted donkey), which provided PANTO (unknown) to finish off the North.

Hold ups in the tricky-sticky South: HAWKMAN, ENOKI, SINE, and BEARDS. Opened the way to the finish line in the South.

Most satisfying entries: SANSSERIF and PETSOUNDS.

Much time and persistence. Worth it? Have to say so.

rain forest 3:36 PM  

I really liked this puzzle even though I started off wondering if coKE is the national beverage of nePal. Feature that.

ELEVEN (Canadian, eh?), ALFA ROMEO, PANTO, AVE, ENOKI, and PER ANNUM were gimmes. I struggled in the upper half, but suddenly the brain came to life in the South. PET SOUNDS had to be the album, though I really disagree. I made quick work of the SW, and once I got MIX TAPE, the SE came together.

In a matter of nanoseconds, PEACE SIGN and JAPAN (D'OH) happened and then it was just mop-up work.

Very clean puzzle and I liked several of the clue/answer combos. Still smarting over my Nepal gaffe though. Dorkish.

Joe in Canada 6:15 PM  

Syndication land here. Seems to me a loonie has either 2 sides, or 13 sides, but not 11. It has 11 sides on the edge, and an obverse, and a reverse.

thefogman 7:12 PM  

I finished this one with relative ease for a Saturday. This puz was much easier than yesterday's. Not much pizzazz or crunch to it though. Pleasant enough but not thrilling. A nice light snack. Fluffy not stuffy?

thefogman 7:21 PM  

To Joe in Canada. The Canadian one-dollar coin (aka loonie) has eleven sides - if you count the flat sides which compose the circle you will discover it has eleven sides. An eleven-sided polygon is more specifically called a hendecagon. The loonie is one of a few coins which are listed as hendecagon shaped.

thefogman 7:23 PM  

Sorry Joe. I read your post too fast and now I see your point. Cheers!

thefogman 7:35 PM  

More on this...The loonie is a strange bird. It is not a regular hendecagon but in fact it is a Reuleaux polygon with eleven sides. So in fact the eleven sides are actually a set of eleven circular arcs - which calls into question the logic of the clue for 2D

Diana,LIW 8:57 PM  

Glad to see that @Foggy eventually agreed with me that our Canadian @Joe was correct, tho I think both answers are legitimate.

Lady Di

strayling 9:07 PM  

I have only one thing to say about the PANTO clue:

"Oh no it isn't!"

leftcoastTAM 9:50 PM  

@Lady Di--I'm with you on the @fogman-@Joe issue, as most of us should be.

thefogman 12:01 AM  

Interesting video about the loonie, polygons etc...

Amazing property of the Canadian one dollar coin you didn't know aboot

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