Mediterranean to ancient Romans / SAT 11-11-17 / Polymathic Isaac / 1964 role for Honor Blackman / Whose tears create morning dew in myth / Eponymous weapon designer

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Constructor: George Barany and Michael Shteyman

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: ELEVEN / ELEVEN (i.e. VETERANS DAY) — today is 11/11. There are 11 11-letter answers in this grid

Theme answers:
  • VETERANS DAY (34A: Time for remembrance)
  • ELEVEN (60A: How many letters are in the longest answers in this puzzle - or how many of these answers there are)
Word of the Day: RIN (35D: 1/1,000 of a yen) —
a money of account of Japan, the thousandth part of a yen or the tenth part of a sen. (
• • •

I need people to understand that this is not a theme. Having eleven 11-letter answers, none of which bear any relation to each other, is called being a "themeless" puzzle. I can't begin to say what a fraud this puzzle is. It is not a thing, not a feat, not hard, to fill a puzzle like this. It is 70 words. It's just a themeless grid, with two answers that are pretending real hard that they are a theme, but no. I see you, and no. So you gunk up yet another lovely themeless day with a fake-ass "theme," a., and then b. it's not even about VETERANS DAY. How does this celebrate, honor, or even vaguely refer to veterans. Please don't point to ARES, because that is bull. IKE? Come on. He's in like half of all puzzles in some form. GUADALCANAL? OK, that is a war thing, but still, there is nothing here cohesive enough to qualify as a theme, and what *is* here does nothing to actually honor veterans. You wanna do a VETERANS DAY theme, do a real VETERANS DAY theme. You wanna do an ELEVEN theme, well, unless it's based on "Stranger Things," I'm not interested.

While some of the longer fill is pretty sweet, the amount of garbage is kind of startling. SEPTAL? RIN? And the pièce de réstistance, AWS!? (41A: Comments like "Yer joshin'!") What the af? I'll give the 11s this: they are solid. NETIZEN will never not be crud, but QUEEN BEY and ROBERT STACK liven up any party. I didn't have any trouble with this at all. I guess I forgot the NOSTRUM part of MARE NOSTRUM, and that ate up some time. Oh, and I couldn't come up with the DRAFT part of DRAFT ANIMAL. Had MOVIE in there before FLICK. But these were all minor bumps. I should probably rate this one Easy, but I feel like I need to beat 6 minutes for a Saturday to qualify as truly Easy, and I was mid-6s, I think, so ... just easyish. AWS!? Sorry, I'm still smh over that one. Oh well, that's all for today.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kitshef 12:08 AM  

Okay, someone needs to explain AWS to me. I spent at least a minute with two final blanks to fill in – the crosses of AWS and AMICO with WECARE. WECARE seemed right, and AMICO seemed possible, but AWS? WoE? Was hoping Rex might have an answer, but no.

I was really surprised at UGANDA. I would have guessed one of the -stans.

Did we really need the year for 57A? Is there a person in the world who knows who Honor Blackman is, but would have blanked on that one if not for the “1964” in the clue?

Honor Blackman is still alive, by the way – 92 years old.

S King 12:30 AM  

"It" is a horror story. Or a horror novel.

Not that I'll fail to cash the checks from the movie though.

Mike in Mountain View 12:42 AM  

Congratulations to George Barany, loyal commenter on this blog, and Michael Shteyman on a clever Veterans' Day puzzle. I have no idea why anyone wouldn't enjoy this, unless perhaps they wanted a tougher solve. I don't know Queen Bey but didn't need to. Interesting coincidence that Veterans' Day has 11 letters.

Thanks, George and Michael.

TomAz 12:45 AM  

A little harder than average for me, but I enjoyed it. Some cool answers. Didn't flinch at HORRORFLICK or any of Rex's other objections.

What I don't understand is this need (?) for a hard distinction between themed and themeless. This puzzle is not about VETERANSDAY, not really, but it does include a tip of the cap that way. Why is that bad? It's a false dichotomy, this restrictive themed/themeless choice.

It seems constructors often have a different solving experience than the rest of us. (Or at least, than I do). I suppose 'different' makes sense. But the presumption that a constructor's solving experience somehow trumps (hehe, I did that on purpose) a 'regular' solver's experience, that it somehow carries more authority, is inane.

I once had a musician tell me that his opinion of music was more valid than mine because he was a musician and I wasn't. (There may have been alcohol involved). This premise is silly and easily disproved by a simple counterexample: Somebody played bass on Billy Joel's records.

Anyway, I liked this puzzle, and dammit, I'm a people too.

Anonymous 12:49 AM  

AWS stands for As We Speak, so perhaps the example — “yer joshin’l — relates to spoken English as compared to written English (“yer joshin’ “ as opposed to “you are joking”)? That’s my best guess, but it’s pretty weak...

A Man Called Don: Accountant 12:54 AM  

I'm a veteran and I thought this puzzle was great. There was a theme, and it was eleven letter words. What else do you need. Plus it has PUSSYGALORE and I must be dreaming. ROBERTSTACK is also awesome because every single moment he's in Airplane! is hysterical. All the heavies are serious but he is serious, and he pulls off some of the greatest lines because of it: "Christmas, Ted, what does that mean to you? For me it was a living hell. Do you know what it's like to be down, in the mud, and kicked, in the head, with an iron boot? Of course you don't, no one does, that never happens. That's a dumb question, skip that." On a related note do you know your TIREBALANCE? It's the fourth most common cause of stalling. So please, take care of your car and get it checked. Give me ten bucks and I will tell you a nuclear submarine engineroom story and it will be best f*****g nuclear submarine engineroom story you ever f*****g heard.

Robin 1:00 AM  

The theme was weak, but yeah there was some good clueing here and there. As Rex notes, ROBERTSTACK and QUEENBEY were good. The theme aside, I liked PESTCONTROL, MARENOSTRUM and GUDALCANAL, But to be honest,I could write in PUSSYGALORE without any crosses (was Honoré Blackman in anything other than Goldfinger?).

Finished in half my average Saturday time, slowed down a sash with tracking down a bad letter.

Honestly, though, I don't know where Rex comes up with having to beat six minutes on a Saturday for it to be easy. I mean, WTF? If finishing the Saturday puzzle takes less time than a tall latté, someone needs to find something else to do in life.

Trombone Tom 1:07 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyable Vet's Day puzzle from our friends. And it even has eleven elevens! I didn't find much to quibble about, but that is OFL's job.

If you would like something a tad more challenging with what I feel is a pretty unique theme, check out the Saturday WSJ puzzle by Randolph Ross.

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

There's a ton of garbage in this puzzle. Too much garbage. It took all the fun out of it. SSR? AWS? Blech. But at least Isaac ASIMOV showed up. He'll always be welcome in a puzzle. With a few exceptions, most of the rest can rot.

puzzlehoarder 1:09 AM  

I don't think there is an explanation for AWS. After looking over the clue list at xwordinfo the best I can come up with is that it's kind of an AW shucks statement in the clue. I guess you could put AW in front of any number of cornball statements but does that make them AWS?

The puzzle came in right on the nose for my average Saturday. I think its actual difficulty was a little under average and I was just a bit slow on the uptake while solving tonight. With this puzzles' layout there's really no going clock or counterclockwise. It was just left to right and top to bottom.

A slight coincidence was the use of NOTABENE in a new Tracey Letts play my wife and I saw at Steppenwolf Theater last night. The character even gives an explanation of it "note well!"

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

I forgot to mention Mr. Nixon. Much like DJT, I'd hardly describe his initials as presidential.

Ando 1:23 AM  

This took me 45 minutes and I felt pretty good about that since like many Saturdays it looked bleak at the outset. I'm beyond amazed that people can do puzzles like this in under 7 minutes.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

@Anonymous @ 1:12 - RMN might have been trying to subvert the Constitution, but at least I wouldn't worry about leaving my daughter alone in the same room with him.

chefwen 1:55 AM  

Got a couple of long ones right out of the gate, TAKE A NUMBER, DRAFT ANIMAL and puzzle partner got PUSSY GALORE ( of course he did) that gave us a big head start to the puzzle.

I always thought Aws were reserved for puppies, kittens, and babies. Maybe with an extra a or w. I don’t think I’ll ever be up to date with twitter and text speak.

After Dear Old Dad passed away a couple of years ago, as I was sorting through some of his memorabilia and ran across a letter from ISAAC ASIMOV (41D) dated April 17, 1984. Apparently, dad sent him some limericks, probably a little bawdy, knowing dad. The letter says, Dear Mr. Frommer, Thank you for the limericks and here is one for you: There was a young man named Hans Frommer. Who screwed a young woman all summer.
She said (come the fall)
Someone wise will now call!”
And he muttered, “Oh hell! What a bummer,”

He also received return letters from Charles Schultz and Hank Aaron, I had them all framed with the envelopes.

Really wanted Sake for 7A, one of my favorites, but it was not meant to be.

jae 2:22 AM  

Too easy for a Sat.

Add me to the WOE is AWS???

Yeah there were problems (see above), but PUSSY GALORE, ROBERT STACK, QUEEN BEY...gotta like it.

Loren Muse Smith 4:26 AM  

@TomAz – I liked your explanation: this was a tip ofthe hat to VETERANS DAY.

Re clue for 2D -some of you long-timers here remember those days when Agatha used to comment here and call out Rex.

As usual, this was harder for me than what’s being reported. I was going “steeds” before SPEARS, and I didn’t know MARE NOSTRUM.

1D was tough. I mean, c’mon. What string of letters worth its salt begins with SHTE. (Just kidding, George and Michael.)

Lovely that y’all got BRO right smack dab next to SIS.

I’ve told the story here that for a couple of weeks, I mistook NB on a traffic alert sign in Charleston, WV as NOTA BENE. Someone later explained to me that it actually stood for North Bound.

I had a puzzle rejected once where I had removed the F’s. So I had HORROR LICK – you know, when your dog comes straight to you for kissy kisses right after noshing in the litter box.

NB – there is no apostrophe in VETERANS DAY. I’ve looked into this issue on several occasions.

Mother’s Day
Father’s Day
Valentine’s Day
New Year’s Day

April Fools’ Day or (April Fool’s Day)
Presidents’ or (President’s Day)
All Saints’ Day

Daylight Savings Time – check again. you’re not technically correct. There’s no S there, so there’s no apostrophe decision. I’m powerless to say it without an S, though. Saying it with the S is more AWS. (I never knew that AWS=As We Speak.)

Who got to decide all this? What a mess. I say we lose all the apostrophes with holidays and move on.

(And of course, there are all the Christmas cards being signed and addressed right now with stuff like The White’s Wish you a Very Merry Christmas!)

I’m with @Mike in Mountain View, @jae, @TomAZ, and @Trombone Tom - I enjoyed this.

To all Veterans today – thank you from the bottom of my heart. Speaking of Kiss, here’s a Military Tribute.

Mr. Fitch 4:29 AM  

This was the sport SUV of crossword puzzles: trying to be theme-y, but still being themeless, and winding up as an incoherent blob. Do a themess or do a theme; this middle ground involves too many compromises on both sides.

Katapult 5:42 AM  

I've been lurking here for years and finally want to comment. I thought this was a very clever, plenty challenging puzz, but really want to comment on it because this day is special to me beyond Veterans Day (or Armistice Day, as we say here in London). It's my dad's birthday. He would have been 84 today. I got my love of the NYT puzzle from him. and he would have appreciated this one.

As a military history buff, Dad would have been horrified at how long it took me to get GUADALCANAL. I had -CANAL, and could only think "Erie, Suez, Panama"? I had to stare at the answer for a long while before I remembered the existence of such a thing. Sorry, Dad, and veterans everywhere. And there were so many things I didn't know: Pussy Galore, tire balance, Queen Bey, Robert Stack -- although thank you, Accountant Don, for reminding me of his role in Airplane! Made me laugh out loud.

I did know MARE NOSTRUM, although it took me a while to retrieve from my tired brain. "Our sea." Oh those Romans and their imperial arrogance. I was happy to plunk that in, and NOTA BENE which I thought was cleverly clued. Then, because I was getting nowhere on the puzzle, I consoled myself by whispering "nota bene" to myself since it has such a wonderfully sonorous quality. That, and "shtetl,'" kept me amused until I finally cracked open the puzzle, bit by painful bit.

Happy birthday, Dad. I wish you were here to enjoy this puzzle with me.

Two Ponies 6:00 AM  

What's tested at the auto shop?
My patience.
My gullibility.
My financial solvency.

Thank you to all of the veterans.

Lewis 6:52 AM  

@katapult -- Very moving post, please visit more often!
@amancalleddon -- That was one terrific ramble.

Funny how personality comes out in puzzles. Yesterday's Berry and today were about equal in difficulty for me, but they just felt so incredibly different. Both lovely solving experiences, but so different.

It is remarkable how much went into making this puzzle (it's been in the works for seven years) -- read George's account on Xword -- terrific effort and dedication. He said that he and Michael are both naturalized citizens and they wished to honor "our brave men and women in uniform on the annual federal holiday that honors their service and sacrifice". And, as a mini-theme, certainly bringing the day and holiday to mind to solvers, plus with the answer WE CARE, I think they succeeded.

I was thinking ERRATA rather than ERRAND as something to run, and thinking REAGAN for those initials. And speaking of personalities, I'm guessing the clue for STOLEN ("Like home, on rare occasions") was George's. It just sounds like him. I'm sure he'll pipe in later in any case, and let us know what AWS was all about, and more.

The solve was terrific, a beautious Saturday tussle, and thank you that and for all you put into this Michael and endearing commentariat member George!

Unknown 7:15 AM  

This is a fine puzzle. My wife and I enjoyed solving it, liked the two-part clue to the theme revealer. Totally indifferent to the arbitrary artificiality of Rex's themeless/ no themeless distinctions. Also SMH at the unnecessary rant aimed at a loyal and generous blogger here.

Conrad 7:30 AM  

What @Katapukt said, and let me add my congratulations to George and Michael. Good job, guys!

sf27shirley 7:51 AM  

Your dad must have been quite a character!

Gerry Kelly 8:04 AM  

Explain that bass part!!

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Rex says "I need everyone to understand this is not a theme". What a spiteful egomaniac.

I don't need everyone to agree with me, but I liked the puzzle, and 11 11's is very clever.

I know the name Honor Blackman, and I can't imagine why.

I recognize George Barany as posting here often, and he's probably keeping quiet today as he's a co-author, but if you're lurking here, could you give a definitive explanation to the "AWS" answer please? Was it from from the "aw"thors or Will?

Congratulations to both of you on a great puzzle!

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Thank you all veterans for allowing me to be a snowflake.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

As a Vietnam veteran, I appreciate the "hat-tip" of eleven-eleven on 11/11. But then, I just do these puzzles for fun - not to see how p.o.'ed I can get about them.

QuasiMojo 8:34 AM  

Nice one @George Barany and pal. Rex seems to want every puzzle to be about him and his pet interests or his preferred way of constructing puzzles. Well, sometimes it's nice to have something less contrived for a change.

I remember IT as a horror novel, a horror TV mini-series, a horror remake, even a horror farce, but "flick" was the last thing I thought of it as. It was fun figuring that out.

Never heard of Queen Bey, but I suspect she is similar (in pop fame) to SPEARS.

Pest Control was ill.

I've only ever seen it as DRAUGHT animal but DRAFT is cool considering the theme.

A toast to my Dad who was a hero in WW2.

Suzy 8:41 AM  

Agreed! Who cares if it doesn’t live up to OFL’s standards for themes? Very clever puzzle for Veteran’s Day!
Thank you, George and Michael!!

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

How is “are” the answer to cost.

Birchbark 9:01 AM  

@Anon 8:24 and others: IMHO, AWS = "Aw, shucks" type reactions to compliments, like kicking the dirt and saying "Quit yer joshin'."

Blunders and overthinking today brought this in in twice-normal Saturday time -- I had polymath Isaac NEWTON instead of ASIMOV, which ruled out ELEVEN in the revealer but allowed tweNty. I then miscounted the long answers at 10 and figured there was some sort of meta-doubling of the long answers. Thus convinced that this was a mathematical wormhole posing as a crossword puzzle above my ability, the neural processors began to melt. Eventually I recounted the longs, wrote in ELEVEN and collected myself, and solved the rest in pleasant mode.

@George Barany and Michael Shteyman, thanks for a very good Saturday puzzle. NOTA BENE cluing among my favorite crossword laughs of 2017. And I like the resonance of TAKE A NUMBER with the overall theme (yes, theme).

gcedwards10 9:05 AM  

I don’t understand how Rex has missed the VETERANS DAY connection to ELEVEN. It is always on 11/ honor of the signing of the WWI armistice, on the ELEVENth day of the ELEVENth month (at, I believe, the ELEVENth hour). Call that out as inadequate if you like, but to say it doesn’t even vaguely refer to veterans is astonishingly clueless.

Sir Hillary 9:08 AM  

Thanks to all veterans for their service. All of you have my most profound gratitude.

Thanks to @George Barany and Michael Shteyman for an apt tip of the cap to Veterans Day, right down to 11/11 answers. Yes, there are some ugly entries in here, but I'm sure you know that already. And, whether or not the puzzle is deemed to be "themed" matters not a whit to me.

Thanks to @Rex for providing this platform and, today, for providing a perfect example of how not to behave. You have shamed yourself today, with the most mean-spirited and petty commentary I have ever seen from you. You may feel like you're on a high horse, but in reality you have sunk to depths I didn't think possible, even from you. Please don't stay down there too long.

Lawrie 9:11 AM  

Thank you to Michael and my friend George for a lovely Saturday puzzle.

Unknown 9:15 AM  

How does cost=are?

Nancy 9:18 AM  

Not easy for me. First of all, I had a DNF. QUEEN BoY at 11D seemed perfectly sensible to me in this age of transgender. You really expect me to know the names of any pop icons, other than Bette Midler and Madonna? Keep dreaming. Nor did I know the Chicago Center (31D), but I thought I remembered ArN from a previous puzzle. Well, I didn't. And so I obviously couldn't derive NOTA BENE from NRTABONE (33A). What a mess.

But I had troubles elsewhere, even though I solved them. For the life of me I couldn't think of a 4-letter hot beverage (7A) other than "sake", which didn't work. And then I'm thinking HORROR novel. Or HORROR movie. Or HORROR story. Or HORROR title. Then what do you want me to check on my TIRE? Buoyancy? Tread? Air. How the hell do I know? I don't drive. What in heaven's name is TIRE BALANCE anyway?

I thought this was a very crunchy puzzle, well-constructed, and with a timely theme. Happy to see, George, that you've been awarded a Saturday slot, and I think that you and Michael pulled it off very well. And what a fabulous puzzle week this has been -- one of the best I can remember.

NRAnia 9:22 AM  

@David Fink et al, "How much are those doggies in the window?" means how much do they cost. Or "How much do those automatic bumpstocks cost?" Answer from trade show dealer: "They are pretty cheap."

Sir Hillary 9:24 AM  

"Going to the movies is expensive -- tickets [cost] [ARE] as much as $17!"

Shafty 9:25 AM  

I don't understand AWS but got it from crosses. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. I've long appreciated George's contribution to this blog and, upon seeing his name attached to this puzzle, expected a fun solve. He didn't disappoint.

Thanks, George!

Shafty 9:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mbr 9:27 AM  

For those not 'in the know', Queen Bey is Beyoncé....famous enough for this graffiti spotted on a wall in the Marais (Paris): "Liberté, Egalité, Beyoncé".
On another note, I used to work with a man whose middle name was Armistice, having been born on November 11. I thought that was very cool.
Note to Loren Muse Smith: Have just finished reading Harlan Coben's 2008 novel Hold Tight, where one of the characters is named Loren Muse. Coincidence or friend of author?

cwf 9:32 AM  

Nice puzzle, @George and Michael. I'm not sure I agree with @Rex that for a theme to exist it needs to dominate the grid. This is essentially a themeless with a little twist added.

The Metrograph, a fairly new theater here in NYC, is showing This Is Spinal Tap tonight at a special time also hinted at in this puzzle (11/11 11:11).

kitshef 9:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 9:35 AM  

I’m leaning more Rexian on this one. Nice that we get a “hat tip” to veterans on VETERANS DAY, but I’m more of the “either do it or don’t do it” mind set. The answer that really bothered me both in the context of the puzzle and the context of the current cultural zeitgeist is PUSSY GALORE. Old James Bond movies are fine fun as long as you don’t think about them too deeply. But a terrorist attack on Ft. Knox foiled by the sexual prowess of a British spy “converting” a lesbian from her criminal ways? Yuck. Toss in both that we have an admitted sex criminal as a president and all the shit hitting the fan from decades of not believing women and that answer is just not something I want attached to my VETERAN DAYS tribute. And that’s the problem with going half way on a theme like this, PEST CONTROL, TIRE BALANCE, HORROR FLICK... all fine answers for a themeless. Even PUSSY GALORE would normally not get much more than an arched eye brow from me. But these ELEVEN letter answers are hardly worthy of the weight of remembering the men and women who have died protecting our country.

I see why others appreciate and like the puzzle, but for me either do a full tribute theme or just stick with a themeless.

Nancy 9:39 AM  

@Loren (4:26) -- Are you kidding me? Agatha Christie used to comment on this blog???!!! Why wasn't I here? Why wasn't I here? Sob. (See my blog profile, everyone, and you'll understand why I weep.)

@TomAz (12:45) -- What a profoundly wise and beautifully stated comment. I agree with every word of it. Apropos of your experience with the musician, I had a very similar one. In the first few months of college, I had made friends with someone destined to be a music major (straight A's) and, ultimately, a music professor. She would walk out of the living room when anyone played Joan Baez, because she couldn't listen to someone with "absolutely no shading in her voice" or something like that. She asked me on one occasion who my favorite classical composer was. "Tsaichovsky", (sp?), I said. "Of course, you would," she said. "He's very easy to understand." That we actually became friends is something I regard as a small miracle.

Teedmn 9:44 AM  

I love that the four 11-letter down answers form elevens 11/11, nice extra. This is a great tribute puzzle with a lot of thought and hard work involved, thanks @GeorgeBarany and @Michael Shteyman.

@LMS, good catch on the SHTE in the grid and the constructor.

@TomAz, I feel the same way about Billy Joel, funny.

I was IN A PANIC at the start of this puzzle. I considered SHTETL and POIROT in the NW but couldn't commit and then I wandered looking for a toehold. I tried the fill-in-the-blank method but the only one in the puzzle was "Chicago's ____ Center" which I never remember. The theme answer ELEVEN was literally my first entry, confirmed by ASIMOV. After that, it went smoothly, a tad below my average Saturday.

The only answer I groaned at was HINT for the rather elaborate clue for 8D. And I did squint funny at AWS. "As We Speak" would have been a better answer, IMHO, but I didn't know that text-ese until today so it would have been a WOE.

MARE NOSTRUM is new to me. I guess it isn't surprising the Romans thought of it as "Our sea" since they did pretty much own the whole thing at one point. Still, it does rather smack of arrogance.

GUADALCANAL was a gimme off the CANAL. For some inexplicable reason (I'd really like to find the person who made this decision and say, "What. On. Earth?"), many of the streets in my city are named after battles or battle areas or war references. So you have Alamo, Harper's Ferry, Coral Sea, Dunkirk, Okinawa and GUADALCANAL. The worst one is Bataan. Who on earth wants to live on Bataan St. Ugh.

Thanks, M&A, for my knowledge of xerosis :-).

ColoradoCog 9:47 AM  

@Anonymous @David Fink, I suppose cost=are as in “How much ARE those doggies in the window?” But I think that one might have been stretched too thin.

Overall, for some reason, I found this much harder than most of y’all, but I did complete it, albeit at probably 2x my normal Saturday time. I guess I just wasn’t on the same wavelength. The 11’s I thought were great, but the fill around them, for me, made some of them tough to crack. The quality of the 11s made the overall experience pretty good. I had to grind it out, but isn’t that what a good Saturday should require?

There was a time when I felt there must be something unsophisticated in me, that my standards weren’t high enough, if I enjoyed a puzzle more than OFL did. I’ve gotten past that. I wouldn’t call this one a Hall of Fame puzzle, but it deserved much more credit than it received.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Great puzzle. Thanks. Very challenging (for me) and enjoyable.

As for YFL’ s comments, I think they’re a little contrived and lean toward the puzzle-constructing community and not the general puzzle solver. I mean, really, “It’s not a thing, not a feat, not hard, to fill a puzzle like this.” Maybe not, but... that ‘s not why most of us are here. We’re here to solve a crossword puzzle and discuss the puzzle solving experience.

Thanks again for a great Veteran’s Day puzzle.

mathgent 9:58 AM  

Gotta love a puzzle with eleven elevens. Congrats to George for another Saturday appearance.

jackj 10:02 AM  

Why the struggle with the answer AWS?

1) From the on-line dictionary:
aw (ô)
Used to express sympathy, tenderness, disapproval, or disbelief.

2) From the Dictionary of Interjections (includes AW):

words that have no grammatical meaning, but just signify emotions

3) From a personal remembrance:

As Joe Palooka would often comment, after decking his latest dastardly opponent, “Aw shucks, I didn’t mean to hit ‘em that hard!

4) And, best of all for wordies, from a Scrabble dictionary look-up of the word AW comes the answer: Yes! That's a valid word.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

George is a regular here. George, this was an awesome puzzle! And I loved your discussing on the Times blog.

Rex, once again, shows himself to be a classless, egomaniacal jerk. (And, yes, all you Rex defenders can point out it's his blog. But to go out of your way to insult a regular commenter like this is vile.)

Matthew G. 10:18 AM  

I normally hate any attempt at a theme on Saturday, but this was pretty good! I loved the long answers, anyhow—particularly MARE NOSTRUM. The short fill was not so good, but with the exception of the absurd clue for AWS—which I am still not sure I fully understand—easily overlooked.

Saltcreekct 10:28 AM  

If nothing else, I hated ARE for cost...

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Great puzzle, lots of fun, cool theme.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I personally hated all the 3's. Not fun for me when there are so many of them.

Trombone Tom 10:37 AM  

Too much hate in the blog.

@Bruce F. Singer and others, whether you like it or not, pomegranates ARE 2 for $5 at Safeway this week. It's somewhat of a misdirect, but it is definitely in the language.

Robert A. Simon 10:37 AM  

@Teedmn: You wouldn't happen to live in Battleboro, TN, would you?

r.alphbunker 10:38 AM  

Good job George! May I suggest another way that you could have revealed the theme? You could have made it an Easter egg and revealed it when you posted here. Or it could have been a meta with the question what year does this puzzle refer to (1918).

AWS sure looked familiar to me when I finished and now I remember why. It is the acronym for Amazon Web Services ( In a runtpuz it might have been clued as {Ripped saw??}

Details of my solution are here.

Hartley70 10:39 AM  

George and Michael you gave us a terrific end to a stellar puzzle week!

I did not find this easy. From QUEENBEY to MARENOSTRUM we were given a smorgasbord of entries. I wonder how many solvers were familiar with xerosis and use VASELINE to cure it. I never know what to do with that big old jar of petroleum jelly. Perhaps if VASELINE would dump the word "petroleum" it would seem more appealing. I think it's possible to overdo the truth in advertising. (Think medical ads during the network news!)

I was delighted to see VETERANSDAY acknowledged and several other entries support it. ELEVEN entries of eleven letters made the grid more enjoyable than usual since I prefer fill that has some heft to it. PUSSYGALORE was my only gimme and why do we all remember her above all the other Bond girls? She wasn't the most beautiful. My answer is that It was a risqué name for the time (and didn't have the word "petroleum" in it).

I don't think Rex has to hold his tongue because George is a beloved long time regular here, although personally I wish he would. I would appreciate it, however, if he would try to make some sense and not deliver a nasty screed on a puzzle that doesn't deserve it.

Larry David 10:47 AM  

"Thank you for your service."

kitshef 10:56 AM  

Given the absence of an abbreviation in the clue, I think AWS meaning As We Speak is unlikely - George is a much more careful constructor than that. I think @jackj 10:02 has it, specifically (and only) with his point 1. Though I can't recall hearing AW used to express disbelief, and most dictionaries do not give that use, some dictionaries do. Here's hoping GB will check in at some point and confirm this.

Dr. Von Maximus 11:00 AM  

@Z 9:35 AM

Wow, Z, you usually say some pretty stupid shit but you're actually an idiot savant today. I wanna watch Goldfinger even more now! Of course 007 converts PUSSYGALORE (or POOSAY as he says it) from her evil yet hot ways because she wants to be converted. Sure, Auric Goldfinger has funded her dream of a flying harem in tight tight sweaters and they all have long and deep group hugs and shower together and sleep in one huge bed on Goldfinger's estate wearing just the tiniest of negligees and who wouldn't want that? but POOSAY knows that this is the dark side and she wants to - no needs to - bathe in the healing light of James Bond's sexual prowess and the democracy it stands for because she has been thinking about him ever since he showed up and she caught herself writing his name in her flight log book with little hearts and she even wrote "Mrs. Pussy Bond" there as well so when they get in the judo match in the barn and start tossing each other in the hay you know exactly where this is going and another Sappho has been brought to her senses by 007 because that is his job and the world is a richer place for it.

Arden 11:05 AM  

Enjoyed the solve. Perfect crunch for Saturday. NW corner took the longest. Russia? Poland? Shtetl!!!

Betty Danger 11:08 AM  

I no longer bother to read the actual blog posting because I'm pretty sure it'll be nasty and boorish. I can get the gist of @Rex's tone from the comments, which I enjoy. Thanks, George and Michael, for a nice Saturday solve. I don't time my puzzle-solving, but I finished this one before getting a second cup of coffee, which is very unusual for a Saturday.

BlueMan 11:14 AM  

She was on The Avengers, so was wondering if they were trying to trick us and avoid people writing out Pussy with whatever her character's name was on that show

Robert A. Simon 11:16 AM  

..and everybody, let's cut Rex some slack. He was probably up all night writing the final exam for his comics course at SUNY Binghamton (which is to higher education as gyros are to cuisine) because last year half his students failed this one::
1. Who is Charlie Brown's dog?
a) Snippy
b) Snotty
c) Snoopy

2. Charles M. Gould wrote...
a) Moby Dick
b) Dick and Jane
c) Dick Tracy

3. When comics are made into movies, more often than not they are...
a) Annotated
b) Annihilated
c) Animated

4. Andy Capp wears a ____ on his head
a) Turban
b) Bowler
c) Cap

5. Brenda Starr, Reporter, was a...
a) Model
b) Nurse
c) Reporter

evil doug 11:26 AM  

Honor Blackman preceded Diana Rigg in the old "Avengers" series. Honor was okay, but Diana might be the hottest babe ever....

deerfencer 11:27 AM  

Fun, challenging puzzle, from PussyG to QueenB. Nice work!

Chris 11:28 AM  

Nice puzzle. Love love the 11/11. Didn't like AWS and ARE.
Played hard for me, even though I got most of the long ones readily.
Thanks, constructors.

Bob Milla 11:49 AM  

What does "NOTABENE" mean?

Nancy 11:56 AM  

It's been a week of terrific puzzles. Does anyone know which one was awarded Puzzle of the Week by Jeff Chen? I just went to his blog but couldn't find a reference -- probably because I didn't know where to look. Thanks for your help.

@Robert A. Simon (11:16) -- Very funny!

Hartley70 11:57 AM  

Yes, @Nancy 9:39 AM, there is a Santa Claus. I feel your pain as evidenced by my own profile, but the dear, macabre, old biddy died in '76. Where do you suppose Rex was then?

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

I know I enjoyed solving George's puzzle - and i disagree with Rex today

Fred Romagnolo 12:02 PM  

I agree that OFL's unpleasant treatment of the good professor's (and his partner's) work was churlish, to say the least. I didn't know that Beyoncé was also known as QUEEN BEY. I was also surprised to find that UGANDA had that large a population (especially in light of the large scale mass murdering that took place while Bill Clinton did nothing to help)

thursdaysd 12:06 PM  

Where I grew up 11/11 was Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, when the dead of (initially) WWI were honored with two minutes of silence, wearing (artificial) poppies (Flanders Field), wreaths of poppies at War Memorials, and church services. See: - so yes, Rex, 11/11 IS RELEVANT. Did you bother to read the back story on the NYT crossword blog? Do you even know WHY it is held on 11/11?

Of course, a great many more British (and other Europeans) than Americans died in WWI, so perhaps it is not so surprising that in the US it is Veterans Day, honoring those who survived more than those who died, but it is still 11/11.

I thought this was a perfectly fine tribute puzzle, and Rex's rant ridiculous. It did not "gunk up" a themeless day - you could solve it as a themeless if you wanted to. Personally I much prefer themeless to themed, but I don't complain about having themed puzzles three/four days a week.

Carola 12:13 PM  

For me, the "too easy for a Saturday" was more than offset by "fun to solve." I thought most of the ELEVENs were great, especially MARE NOSTRUM and its opposite side of the globe complementary island GUADALCANAL, DRAFT ANIMAL, and HORROR FLICK. Plus I got to reminisce about ROBERT STACK again (after Frank NITTI the other day). Apart from the fun, thought: from SPEARS to UZIs - millenia of war HORROR.

In the ways to go wrong department: Familiar with xeriscaping from visits to Los Angeles, I thought xerosis might refer to the plant world and be relieved by "watering," which happened to fit. When I had VASE..., I thought, "Treated by putting flowers in a vase?"

@puzzlehoarder, I'lm looking forward to Steppenwolf in a couple of weeks, having barely squeaked in before "sold out."

Fred Romagnolo 12:16 PM  

@BonnieB: in reference to yesterday's blog, I'm 99% sure you were being satirical, but just in case; Uffizi is Italian for "offices." The great Florentine museum occupies a building that was once an office building. As for today's tribute to veterans: thanks to the constructors!

old timer 12:19 PM  

OFL could have been kinder. Barany always is, on this blog. But I agree a lot of crap was put in the puzzle for the sake of having 11 11-letter words.

I had "movie" before FLICK, which did not help. Does anyone ever say FLICK anymore?

Geophany 12:33 PM  


Stanley Hudson 12:36 PM  

This was a solid Saturday puzzle. Thanks to GB and MS.

Wonder if Sharp’s department schedules meetings at times they know he can’t attend?

I’d like to honor our veterans, excepting the asshole who shot up the church last Sunday, and also honor the memory of my grandmother who was born 114 years ago today.

Joe Bleaux 12:38 PM  

When the answer isn't ARM, as in "It'll cost an arm and a leg."😉

George 12:40 PM  

Not an hour before doing this puzzle I was talking about PUSSYGALORE with my fellow pilots/flight mechanics who just flew back with me from UGANDA yesterday. I even did an imitation of the Fort Knox soldiers falling unconscious after PUSSYGALORE sprayed them with a sleeping drug from her formation of cropdusting Piper Cherokees. That coincidence makes the puzzle a gem, although what the hell is NOTABENE?

Joe Welling 12:50 PM  

David Fink: As in "How much are these?" and "Those are two for a penny."

Joe Bleaux 12:50 PM  

Bravo, doctor!

Joe Bleaux 12:58 PM  

Will someone please address @Bob Milla's question for him? (I, of course, could answer it, and even use notabone in a sentence, but I don't want to look like a smarty pants.)

Hobbyist 1:04 PM  

George Barany always presents himself as a perfect gentleman with nary an unkind word for puzzles.
I hope Rex didn't hurt his feelings with his scathing words.
I've learned a lot from Rex but fear that his ego has gotten in the way of his analysis and teaching of solving approaches.
I guess it's chalkable to a certain degree of "fame" and human reaction to same.

jberg 1:06 PM  

I really enjoyed this one, thanks to Mssrs. Barany and Shteyman. The NW was tough for me, as I wanted 8D to be a 'date' and IT to 'sex appeal,' as in Clara Bow. Fortunately, that was too short.

Second hardest part is that I wanted to spell is VASoLINE -- that would have been a real black eye for me.

@Nancy, it wasn't really Agatha Christie who commented here, it was @S.King pretending to be here.

@Fred Romagnolo, you're probably thinking of Rwanda, the neighboring country. Uganda actually played a significant role in ending the genocide, through its support for the rebel army that ousted the killers. (Of course, that helped trigger the Congo Civil War, in which millions more died.)

@Robert A. Simon, wasn't that Chester Gould, rather than Charles?

The Clerk 1:11 PM  

Did anyone else plonk down WINEDARKSEA for MARENOSTRUM, same length?

Malsdemare 1:16 PM  

First, thanks to all the veterans out there; I'll echo whoever thanked them for allowing her to be a snowflake. My dad was a doc who, even though he had a thriving practice and three kids, volunteered for the army, served WWII on the west coast treating the wounded. It's not like landing at Normandy, or being shot at in the sea of Japan, but he saved a lot of lives and his family was damn proud of him. So thanks, dad. Wish you were here so I could give you a hug. (He died at 52, when I was ELEVEN; not a happy number for me.)

This puzzle was hard! I'm on prednisone these days to keep pain at bay and I think it's rotting my brain. I needed help for SHTETL (wanted Israel), blanked on MARENOSTRUM, took forever before I saw TIREBALANCE, even with TIREBI. Embarrassed to report I had no trouble with PUSSYGALORE or ROBERTSTACK, but NOTABENE was a long time falling. I did get GUADALCANAL pretty early, and VETERANDSDAY went in with almost no help. I had to reveal QUEENBEY, and, I'm blushing, FLUNK. Dang!

I interpretted the AWS as what one says before "y'er joshin'" As in "AW shucks!" But it does seem pretty lame.ILL is new but I knew NETIZEN.

I really liked the puzzle. Thanks, Mr. Barany and friend.

Austenlover 1:19 PM  

@Nancy, I think LMS was kidding — I know OFL has been doing this blog for a long time, but Agatha Christie died in 1976. I don’t think he’s been blogging for 41 years! Christie was a very interesting person and would have been a great contributor. I just read her Autobiography, which is well worth reading.

Mohair Sam 1:27 PM  

SHTETL? Oy vey!

Good one George and Michael, OFL is full of crap - it played like a fun themeless (easy/medium here) and had a friendly mini-theme nod to the day. All the elevens were awesome - very well done, this Vet thanks you. We opened here with the 'sorta' gimme ELEVEN and landed on GUADALCANAL from that and just built around.

No problem with ARE as clued, don't understand the kerfuffle. Interesting discussion on AWS - does George tell us which AWS they intended? We learned A.W.S. here today.

I have never enjoyed reading the posts here more. Highlight had to be @Z's inexplicable rant about PUSSYGALORE (somehow invoking Trump) followed by the cool examination of said post by @Dr Von Maximus (psychiatrist to Don from Accounting I suspect). Or maybe the picture of @Nancy pulling up to the pump and asking the man to check her TIRE Buoyancy (they're a 4 out of 10 Ma'am - I'd get them refillibrated). The real @Don the Accountant brings back delightful memories of ROBERTSTACK in "Airplane!". And @chefwen's Dad's letters from Schulz and ASIMOV and Henry Aaron - how cool is that? Hell, everybody was on their 'A' game today.

@Evil (11:26) Hear Hear!

Great puzz Messrs. Barany amd Shteyman, thanks.

thursdaysd 1:28 PM  

More on how 11/11 is remembered around the world:

Mohair Sam 1:30 PM  

@old timer (12:19) - I say FLICK more often than movie. Of course I'm ancient, so I'm probably a sampling error on your survey.

Malsdemare 1:35 PM  

@Mohair Sam. I'm an older white woman in a very red district in a flyover state who is a very liberal democrat (in case y'all were wondering.) I think I shall refer to myself as a sampling error from here on out. Beats crackpot or snowflake. Thanks!

Masked and Anonymous 1:51 PM  

I submit to the jury of U peers that a themed themeless puz is much better than a themeless themed puz.
Cute 11-Elevens idea, and a nice little shout-out to VETERANSDAY.

staff weeject pick: AWS. And yo, @r.alph: primo spot-on [downright awsome] double-?? AWS clue.

fave 11-ball fillins:
* MARE NOSTRUM. Learned something sorta new, there.
* HORROR FLICK. Schlock movies should usually properly be called FLICKs, IMHO.
* PUSSY GALORE. To semi-quote 007, when he wakes up to her "Goldfinger" intro: "I musta died and went to heaven."
* TAKE A NUMBER. As in: We'll take 11, today.
Also really enjoyed the VASELINE on xerosis clue (yo, @Teedmn).

Thanx, GB & MS. And special thanx to all the vets for their service and sacrifice.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Kimberly 1:56 PM  

It’s sad to see someone spend so much time on something they hate so much. Much like “eleven” is not a theme, a “curmudgeon” is not critic. It’s just bitterness.

And I don’t imagine the constructor was going for a theme. It feels more like a cohesion. Not every crossword needs to fit into a binary themed v. themeless label.

I challenge Rex to spend one week focusing on the positive in every puzzle. Who knows, it might bring him a dash of joy.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Vietnam Nam Vet and a jazz guitar hobbiest...don't understand the reference to bass player in Billy Joel's band, obviously he might be a musician also...what's the point? Imho whatever music you like is the best music, I love old standards for the complexity of the chord progressions and key changes and I hate country because it usually has the same three or four chords but If you like it is subjective after all. No sense being a snob about it. bTW favorite classical composer probably Mozart although Beethoven is probably the Master.

Lewis 2:07 PM  

@nancy -- It was Wednesday's by Joel Fagliano and Sam Ezersky.

Joe Dipinto 2:12 PM  

Whew, that was...ridiculously easy for a Saturday. ROBERT STACK and PUSSY GALORE were immediate gimmes. A few more acrosses and GUADALCANAL went right in. I figured 34a was going to be VETERANS DAY, just wanted to get V for VASELINE first to clinch it. Finished up in the NW, as is usual for me.

Minor nits: Cost as a clue for ARE is kinda wretched. And ELEVEN should never be clued other than in reference to "This Is Spinal Tap". (Though I will allow an exception in this case since it ties into the theme-that-Rex-considers-a-non-theme.)

Unknown 2:15 PM  

It was Emma Peel and she was great

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Tickets to the show ARE $20

Unknown 2:22 PM  

As in ‘the apple plus the pear cost $1, and the apple and the pear are $1.
Please explain opposite if dirty as wash

Joe Bleaux’s Minion 2:26 PM  

@Bob Milla, Nota Bene is Latin for “note well” used to advise a reader to take special notice of a particular point being made. Sometimes just a N. B. is used to make a side comment or to alert the reader to some aspect of the text that is being addressed.

Two Ponies 2:26 PM  

@ Dr. Von Maximus, Glad you dropped by. Please don't ever step out from behind the curtain, at least for a long time. The mystery only added to the hilarity.

@ Austenlover, I just started Agatha's autobiography and I'm hooked.
Already it seems clear that the writer Elizabeth Peters based a main protagonist on her.

Thomaso808 2:38 PM  

Eleven elevens is most definitely a theme in itself, and a good one. A little on the easy side for a Saturday, but that’s OK. Thanks, George and Michael!

@Mohair Sam, I liked your summary of the comments today. I agree today’s posts make for a pretty good read.

@Shelby Glidden, great post yesterday with the Yeats reference, and you made a @(name) comment! Yay! Welcome to the commentariat!

WillGH 2:56 PM  

I thought the themeless theme of eleven elevens with a few WWII clues was fun. Somewhat difficult, but then Saturday’s usually are for me.

I didn’t really understand ARE for cost. What am I missing?

Adam 2:57 PM  

To dirty. Opp: to wash. “He dirtied his face, then thought better of it and washed off.”

Georgia 3:00 PM  

Queen Bey is Beyonce.

Joe Dipinto 3:02 PM  

@Nancy 9:39 -- read the 2d clue again and picture Agatha Christie commenting here on Rex as such.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

@Robert A Simon: your comment betrays a profound ignorance of Cultural Studies scholarship (and of much else). I don’t know if/where you attended university, but my own experiences with higher education have not included multiple choice tests... Stick to commenting on an academic discipline you know something about and you’ll appear less foolish next time.

Anonymous 3:37 PM  

Anonymous @3:34:

Pot, Kettle, Black.

Nancy 3:44 PM  

Thanks so much @Lewis. I was dying of curiosity and I'm delighted with Jeff Chen's choice. It would have been my POW, too, though there was some fierce competition.

Thanks to all who told me that Loren was kidding and that the real Agatha Christie would have been long dead by the time Rex started this blog. I certainly should have known that, since I was running Mystery Guild in 1976 when A.C. died and when Dodd Mead took CURTAIN -- written decades earlier by Christie in her prime -- out of their vault where it had been secretly kept for years, and sent it to me. I'm so gullible -- why on earth did I think for a moment that Loren was serious? Also, I'm glad I amused you, @Mohair, on the whole TIRE thing, but I was actually quite serious about buoyancy. I had the B and would have put it in if it had fit. What I don't know about tires would fill a very large SUV. Or even a bus.

OxfordBleu 3:49 PM  

Great puzzle and a nice subtle nod to 11/11. Thanks George Barany & co. @Rex your “fame” has turned you into such a bitter little man.

And Hornor Blackman was Catherine Gayle on “The Avengers” prior to Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel role.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

@Robert (aka anonymous 3:37):
Ass, space, hat. (No need to capitalize common nouns that follow a comma.)

Wow 4:08 PM  

Fuck off and die

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

Anonymous @ 4:03:

Nice deflection.

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

@anonymous 4:26: How so? If you have something to say, it’s best to get it off your’ll sleep better.

Space Is Deep 5:16 PM  

Rex, I'm ashamed of you. I've always taken your curmudgeonly attitude with a grain of salt. But today was too much. Do you insult your friends so directly? Do you have any friends?

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

Thanks for the puzzle George. You’re always such a gentleman on this blog and you definitely deserve a kinder review from Rex. He may find fault over certain elements of this puzzle, but it seems he went out of his way to be a d@%k! I hope it made him feel better but he could have been critical without being mean spirited.

Rcav 5:33 PM  

That was Diana Rigg.

Chim cham 5:37 PM  

Amen. Baraney is one of the kindest and most dedicated posters on this blog. I wouldn’t want to see Rex pull too many punches, but to use his (perfectly enjoyable) puzzle as a punching bag was gross. I hope he doesn’t feel as miserable as he comes off sometimes.

Rcav 5:38 PM  

And it seemed to me an unnecessarily vulgar and sexist entry in a grid intended to honor veterans (yes I know it's ironic; I have a sense of humor, but why here, today?)

Chim cham 5:58 PM  


Fountains of Golden Fertility 7:26 PM  

Does anyone remember condoms?

semioticus (shelbyl) 7:30 PM  

I liked this more than I did yesterday's. I can understand the frustration that some have with some of the short crosswordese answers, but this one didn't have a natick-y corner. If you didn't know who DELARENTA was, you were in for trouble. No such corner today. That's my priority for weekend puzzles, or for any puzzle I guess. Don't give me stuff that I won't be able to figure out without some obscure knowledge.

Maybe it doesn't feel like a Saturday, but it wasn't probably supposed to be one. It's a Veterans' Day special, and should be evaluated in that sub-category. How was this compared to other "special day" puzzles we've had? I think it was way above average. So yes, I quite liked it.

Larry Gilstrap 8:17 PM  

My brain has been chewing on a response to this review and the comments related to it. Eleven elevens on 11/11 that appears on a Holiday Saturday? I'll call it a theme. Let's stop the killing on something as arbitrary as 11:11 am, November 11. Absurdity is an element of war, or so I have heard.

While I am at it, ever notice that most of those who regularly post on this blog treat each other with respect? Back and forth is usually civil. Rex's review was subjective and concerned the puzzle's merits as he sees it. It was not a personal attack, but it still bothered me.

Paperback Writer 9:17 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle fine, but I am baffled by one thing. In both this puzzle and Friday's, some of the white squares have black dog-ear-ish corners (or at least the versions in both the Times crossword app and on the website do). What do these marks indicate?! I can't find any meaning in them and they aren't referenced at all in Rex's reviews. Thank you in advance!

Fred Romagnolo 10:36 PM  

@TheClerk: "wine dark sea" Homer, Greek; Mare Nostrum, Latin, Roman

Danchall 11:32 PM  

There are so many ways people can like or hate a puzzle, judge a puzzle, or not. Rex spelled out his reasons for disliking this one, mostly coherent and concisely put. And the criteria for judging the puzzle are not new; there's nothing surprising here.

But FRAUD? I must have overlooked the meta-reveal that said "creating this grid was a notable accomplishment based on its super difficulty, signed and attested to by the constructors." Likewise I could not find "this is an official THEMED puzzle that should be held up against all other themed puzzled and judged accordingly." Where's the fraud? I can't imagine any false assertion this puzzle could possibly be making.

(I enjoyed the puzzle, even though I thought the plural AWs was nuts. Stuff like that never affects my enjoyment. I do not criticize judgments based on different criteria.)

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

Is OFL pronounced "awful" or "offal"? Is that the title given to the king of the culture of complaint?

Hartley70 12:51 AM  

@Paperback, it means you have used the check or reveal function on those letters. You've cheated a little (check) or a lot (reveal). Trust me, you're not alone!

Anonymous 3:22 AM  

Agree with Z. Inappropriate answer or clue for Honor Blackman. Could have reworked the construction of that section.

Said misogynist in chief was heard using a word in that answer in the infamous Access Hollywood tape. Enough said.

Paperback Writer 7:20 AM  

@hartley70, no these marks were there before I started the puzzle -- I assumed they functioned sort of like circles, but I guess they were just a glitch? Anyway, thanks!

Unknown 10:16 AM  

Didn't finish until this morning (and even then I had to "cheat", checking to see what was wrong). I had never heard of ROBERT STACK, MARE NOSTRUM, SCTATL, or NOTA BENE, so things were tough. Boyfriend knew GUADAL CANAL and changed my misspelling in VASoLINE to put in STEAKS--I guess he has more experience with black eyes than I do. Thanks for QUEEN BEY for those of us in the under forty crowd.

Despite the challenge, I loved the tribute to veterans and hope to see more from these constructors.

BrucieK 11:03 AM  

Q: Bartender, how much are these beers?
A: They are 5 dollars apiece?

BrucieK 11:15 AM  

Just hilarious.

Nancy 11:38 AM  

@Kathryn (10:16 a.m.) -- I never heard of SCTATL either, and I'm trying to figure out where you put it. At 1D, where SHTETL should be? At 32D, where SEPTAL should be? I'm stumped. But wherever you put it, it's wrong. Why not check Rex's completed grid?

Peamut 1:56 PM  

Fine puzzle. Would love to get comments from George B.

TCProf 4:01 PM  

Thanks to Rex for enforcing the theme/themeless rule. Some may find this arbitrary, but I think OFL was too lenient. He apparently forgot the following deviations from iron-clad, anything-but-arbitrary construction rules:

Three of the corners have consonants and one a vowel. On odd-numbered days that occur on weekends, all corners must contain consonants. Obviously.

When 1A contains a name of a vegetable, that becomes the theme, trumping (sorry) any other possible themes, and must appear in the grid at least 11+11+17 = 12 = 1 + 2 = 3 times. Not rocket science for Rex's sake.

Any answer that can be purchased at Starbucks requires the constructor to include a clue for "overpriced and pretentious" somewhere in the grid.

Any answer that contains a vulgar term for part of the female anatomy must be clued with a ? (Asimov does not count).

If the answer is "take a number," there must be a missing number in the grid.

So Rex was going easy on thoday's constructors. Fraud? Hell, this was a crime against humanity.

spacecraft 11:07 AM  

Ah, the AGE of taking offense. Here we go again. How better can you honor vets than by snuggling them up with no fewer than three premier DOD candidates, including sendoff Britney SPEARS? Of her, QUEENBEY and Goldfinger's sidekick, I give it to Beyoncé.

As to the puzzle, it's a remarkable engineering feat, unfortunately necessarily marred by some RATTY short stuff. Great and AWSful; easy and hard side by side. Same with clues: compare "Obliterate" for ERASE with the diabolical "Opposite of dirty" for WASH. Yeah, I know, dirty can be a verb, but sheesh.

Then there's ELEVEN. The quintessential gimme. Hello, can you count? Doesn't belong in a Saturday grid. I sailed through UPTO the dreaded NW. Since "it" was not capitalized in the clue, I had a great deal of trouble there. There's a hot drink called CHAI? Who knew? Eventually got it all, helped by Mr. STACK. For a puzzle that was never medium, its average strength comes out to...medium. For a score that was never par, you guessed it: par.

Diana, LIW 12:12 PM  

A fine Vets Day puzzle theme IMHO. TCProf's post was the funniest part of the puzzle today. At first I thought he was going to be serious, but I got over that quickly.

A cat is staring into my eyes, and eying my keyboard, so I must go.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 1:03 PM  




rondo 2:36 PM  

There ARE some days that I wish I hadn't read the comments from OFL and his number one apologist @Z. Today is one of those days. I liked this puz plenty.
PUSSYGALORE a gimme for any Bond fan and ROBERTSTACK very familiar. 1d and 2d went in without even thinking and it was off to the races.

I think that yeah baby QUEENBEY should exercise some PESTCONTROL and lose that TWIT Jay Z. What's he been UPTO lately? Does he even babysit? I mean parent.

Good puz @George and @Mike. Today OFL and @Z are the ONEs who FLUNK.

thefogman 2:46 PM  

I finally finished this one and found it ridiculously - at times unfairly - difficult. Definitely not in my wheelhouse.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Come on - why is "are" the answer to "cost"? Inquiring minds want to know!

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

Anon: Good question. Answers are ten buck apiece. <---

leftcoastTAM 5:10 PM  

With the ELEVEN freebie and much familiar and recently appearing fill, this indeed was easy-medium for a Saturday. And those ELEVEN-letter answers for the most part were good ones.

NE was more challenging. QUEENBEY and NOTABENE stood out there, as did some three-letter nettles QBS, URI, EOS, ARE and outlier AON.

The stickiest was ARE clued by "cost". Okay, these dishes cost (ARE) X dollars apiece, but this set of dishes COST (IS) X dollars more, maybe, with a multitued of examples of this sort.

I dwell on the "cost" clue only because I probably looked at that clue and answer longer than any others in the puzzle.

Oh, never mind. Found the puzzle to be a good one and fun.

thefogman 5:15 PM  

EDIT - I spoke too soon. DNF for me. One square killed me. I had NeTABENE instead of NOTABENE thinking this was some kind of cool tech (net) lingo. As for AON, when I use the Google all that comes up is information about an insurance company. That AON Center in Chicago was way outside my wheelhouse.

Diana, LIW 6:32 PM  

@Lefty - that's what I thought ARE meant - how much ARE those doggies in the window?

Lady Di

thefogman 7:02 PM  

Those tax cuts ARE too much.

Rose Mary Woods 4:39 AM  

Was i the only one who tried 2d. POL POT instead of POIROT? Agatha died in 1976, so she would have known of him.
Don't Maleska my puzzle!!!
I like excruciatingly hard Saturday puzzles, but if you have to use RIN then: ___TIN TIN.(you'll just have to have other ways to demonstrate you're hipper than the TV Guide crossword!
I like that ERASE is above RMN.

arsene 2:19 AM  

2011 song hits list pop danthology

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