Strong Chinese liqour / SAT 11-4-17 / automaker with slogan wir leben autos / island on which mount obama is highest point / Annual music film festival founded in 1987 briefly

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Constructor: Michael Shteyman

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: STRETCH THE TRUTH (54A: Exaggerate ... or a hint to five nonconsecutive letters in 20-Across, 36-Across and 7-Down) — T R U T and H appear in (non-consecutive) order in each of the three themers

Theme answers:
  • THROUGH THE YEARS (20A: Over time)
  • BUTTERNUT SQUASH (36A: Garden fruit that tastes pumpkin-y)
  • "DON'T ARGUE WITH ME!" (7D: "Because I said so!") 
Word of the Day: AHMAD TEA (11D: Alternative to Twinings) —
Ahmad Tea is a tea company based in London, England. The company produces a range of tea bags, loose teas and gifts including: black tea, green tea, flavoured teas, and herbal teas. They opened a new eco-friendly office in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire in 2010. // Ahmad Tea distributes to over 80 countries on six continents, where it can be found in selected restaurants, hotels, specialty shops as well as some chains. Ahmad Tea’s headquarters also contains a tea museum, which attracts local guests. In 2015, it was awarded with three Great Taste Awards for various blends. In 2012, in partnership with U Support charity, Ahmad Tea donated its range of teas to Chariteas, a branded tea room in Hampshire, whose proceeds go to supporting disabled children. In 2013, Ahmad Tea was awarded the ethical investor of the year award for its charitable initiatives in the UK and support of orphanages in Mali, Russia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. (wikipedia)
• • •

Why would you do this? And by "this" I mean a couple of things—why would you think this was a good theme (non-consecutive letters?!) and also why would you put this on one of the only reliably Good days of the week? Why would you take away the joy of a true Saturday themeless, only to replace it with this!? Run this thing on Wednesday (with different / easier clues) if you really must publish it. Ugh, non-consecutive letters that allegedly spell things = non. events. NONEVENTS. Watch: TRUST THE PROCESS! Boom! 15, non-consecutive "truth," check please! Do you see how this "theme" is an objectionable nuisance?! "DON'T ARGUE WITH ME" is both the only good answer in this grid and the thing I will say to you if you object to my claim that it is the only good answer in this grid. What on god's green earth is AHMAD TEA. Thank god those AHMAD crosses were fair, because yikes. I have never heard of this alleged tea until Just This Second. Does it even exist in the States? Rough. MAOTAI, also rough (1D: Strong Chinese liquor). At least I remembered TENERIFE exists (38D: Largest of the Canaries).

 [When AMAHL Met POLA]

AHMAD AMAHL AMOUR is the new amo amas amat. Speaking of AMAHL, I have done so many damned puzzles that I just take it for granted that that was a gimme for everyone else too, only ... there's no reason it should be. Both AMAHL and its silent movie crossing POLA are names I learned from crosswords. I have since seen POLA's name in other places, as I've become more of a movies fan over (not through) the years, but crossing those two seems dicey. I know OLIN because daughter is in full-on college application mode, and OLIN was definitely on her radar. I think she determined that they were just too small, but ... I mean, she's applying to Harvey Mudd, and their entire student body could barely fill a movie theater, so I don't really get her objection to OLIN, but it's her life, her business. We have been told quite emphatically to stop talking about all of it, so I guess she'll just tell us sometime in April where she's gonna be next year. Could very well be UCLA. Or not. We'll see.

[the only acceptable clue for THROUGH THE YEARS]

OK bye now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


mathgent 12:08 AM  

Rex said it all. What a disappointing Saturday.

Unknown 12:10 AM  

AMAHL POLA a definite natick for me, but I correctly guessed the L. Didn't know MAOTAI, and initially had fAA for big tower letters, thinking (control) tower noun, not tower verb. Didn't think MAOTfI looked right, but what do I know about Chinese?

Sue T. 12:16 AM  

I LOVE tea and drink it every single day, so when I saw "Alternative to Twinings," I figured it would be a gimme. Then I ran through every tea brand I could think of, to no avail. So no, I have never heard of Ahmad Tea either. I also thought Mao Tai was pretty ridiculous -- couldn't they have changed 17A somehow so it would be the much more common MAI TAI? I solved it pretty quickly, but yeah, annoying.

TomAz 12:28 AM  

I agree with Rex: this theme is utter dreck. If you're going to stretch a word don't the letters stay in consecutive order? seems like the truth was both stretched and mangled. And then you're supposed to suss out the nonconsecutive letters of the "stretched" and jumbled word? That premise is awful. I can't think of a worse Saturday puzzle in recent memory.

Fortunately, I didn't need the theme to complete the puzzle, and I finished on the fast side.

I'm surprised by people struggling with AMAHL. I dropped that right in and I don't think it's just from xwords that I know it. POLA, on the other hand...

Never heard of AHMAD TEA and thought I had an error there when I filled it on the crosses.

As a themeless this would have been OK, but man oh man, that theme.

TomAz 12:36 AM  

I recant the "mangled" bit. I see now the letters T, R, U, T, H do actually appear in that order. (Emily Litella "Never mind!")

I still don't like the theme at all.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

Nobody going to comment on AAHED? What a pile of garbage.

puzzlehoarder 1:36 AM  

Printing out this puzzle I noticed all the grid spanners and how they cut through every stack. My first thought was how this constrains the choices for those stacks and how tough it would be to maintain a challenging solve. Still the lack of difficulty was a little surprising.

There were only a few minor glitches from easily fixed write overs. Just as much delay was generated by a somewhat haphazard pattern of solving. There was so much easy material I didn't know where to start at times.

AHMADTEA being a debut doesn't surprise me as I've never heard of it. What is a surprise is no one else has used LOUCHE . It's not that rare of a word and it turned out to be the key to the SE corner for me. That was the one section I hesitated at getting into. Given the player's name not getting ISLAM off the IS reminded me of how dense I can be.

Questinia 1:56 AM  

Perhaps this would have been better appreciated as a *silent* themeless with simply *exaggerated* as the clue for STRETCHED THE TRUTH. Then somebody, say like @Lewis, or another pattern-oriented individual might have detected the stealthy, disjointed TRUTH in each of the long answers. We would have all thusly been amazed at the couth of the constructor instead of having no ruth for him.

So, I've decided that it was a covert themeless, @Lewis declares his discovery, and instead of CARP we then AAHED.

That being sayed, any puzzle with the phonetically oxymoronic LOUCHE is aces.

Robin 2:04 AM  

No problem on the AMAHL/POLA crossing, although I wasn't sure how to spell AMAHL. But certainly I know POLA.

Good to see comments here from tea drinkers that AHAMADTEA was new to them, because I had no clue. Good thing for all the crosses.

I was pretty "Meh" about the theme, but some good clueing here and there. Only thing that bothered me was STN as an abbreviation for station rather than the usual STA.

Nevertheless, finished in half my usual Saturday time.

Unknown 2:13 AM  

Full disclosure: @Michael Shteyman is a good friend and we've published some collaborative puzzles. In his mind, today's puzzle was targeted towards mid-week. However, with its four seemingly unrelated grid-spanners (the vertical one of which cuts neatly through the three horizontal ones), and with the clues made suitably tougher, think of this as a themeless "plus."

AHMAD TEA stumped me, especially since we had just seen ASSAM TEA a little over a week ago. I had a momentary hiccup in the middle bottom section, with TRIG crossing GREEN, readily changed to CALC crossing CLEAN when other crossings weren't working out.

@Rex, thanks for your thoughts on OLIN. Based on a fortune in the chemicals business, there are OLIN Halls on numerous campuses throughout the USA, and now (since 1997) a complete college as referenced in the clue. Does anyone else remember the "Sack Exchange" when the JETS had a fearsome PASS RUSH? Finally, the OSLO clue includes a sly wink to our constructor's birthplace.

tbd88 2:19 AM  

I drank Ahmad tea from the local British import shop(pe) for several years, but apparently I'm the only one. I've switched to PG Tips. I played this puzzle like it was a themeless one and felt all the better for it. Still not a rave review, but not as horrid as trying to figure out an extremely vague theme.

Larry Gilstrap 2:29 AM  

A rabbit has disabled my car and I'm feeling like Elmer Fudd. I caught him red-handed, assuming cotton tails have hands, and the towing fees and repair costs are spiraling up in a blossoming gyre. Fighting grumpiness here. And then my printer pukes out this Saturday effort. First world problems.

On a positive note, there's some fun stuff included: geography, classical mythology, and stuff that is sorta hip. Faint praise.

To STRETCH THE TRUTH is to lie. I hate when people lie. It is intolerable.

An alternate theme should have been a tribute to the greatest baseball player of all time: Babe RUTH. Fans were AAHED by his presence on the diamond. What a sentence that was. He batted and threw from the LEFT and LIMBO could have been Bambino with some more careful editing. Little known fact: his favorite beverage was AHMAD TEA to wash down numerous hot dogs. Ok, I'm lying. Annoying, isn't it?

Easily offended should read no more. Years ago, my students used the phrase: hack a LOUCHE. It had something to do with spitting. I know spell check wants loogie, but that is not the term they used.

Kareem and UCLA in the same puzzle bring back pleasant thoughts.

Shylock 2:34 AM  

You, that did void your rheum upon my beard and foot me as you spurn a stranger cur over your threshold...

Dolgo 2:34 AM  

My usual response to whining is, "If you can Google it, it's fair." I think I'm just a little bit tempted to whine about AHMAD TEA and MAOTAI myself, though. They're right there in Google, but I'm trying to think of an occasion for me to ever have heard of them.

But come on, gang. POLA NEGRI?? Doesn't anybody ever watch silent movies any more? Along with Theda Bara she practically defined " vamp." Unforgettable!

I agree. The gimmick (which belonged on Thursday anyway) sucked big time!

Mark 3:01 AM  

AHMADTEA??? MAOTAI??? Luckily I knew AMAHL and POLA Negri, but, strangely, I used to attend operas in a small city, and, weirdly, I once met the ghost writer of P.N.'s _Memoirs of a Star_. I had to wonder how many scholars or leaders of Islam would agree with Kareem's definition. I did like the clue for RUTH.

Alan Wrench 3:47 AM  

This was a challenging puzzle but I got everything, at least through crosses. Until I got to the NE corner. The 10 square was the last to be filled; when I put a "C" in there I had no idea what would happen. Well surprise surprise surprise I got a "Congratulations" screen.

CREEL? Is that like a C-Reel or something fancy on a rod? Never heard of it. And what does "Cavil" mean and why is it CARP? Are you bitching about something if you cavil? Is it a fish? Do you catch a Cavil with a C-Reel? Look how many question marks there are here.

I saw the theme only after I was finished, and I was like wow who cares I'm done now. Oh well. Mostly it was a pretty good puzzle and I guessed right on that 10 square so I guess that makes me the champion.

Joseph Brick 4:20 AM  

Wow! A two-Natick puzzle! If PO*A/AMAH* isn't enough for you, there's TENER*FE/OL*N to tear your heart out.

Makes me want to submit a puzzle. Mine will have five Naticks.

I'm guessing there's some serious table tennis going on somewhere.

mmorgan 5:12 AM  

I didn't hate it as much as most of you but I was utterly baffled by how 8D could possibly be RUTH even though it *had* to be RUTH. I've never before encountered the word used in that sense. (As for POLA, no prob!)

Loren Muse Smith 5:28 AM  

I’ve gone on record saying I like a themed Friday or Saturday from time to time. My favorite one is still the one by Peter Collins on September 14, 2012 – (link is the solution). @Questinia – that one was one of your covert themes. There was no alert about the funny business.

So when I noticed that there was a reveal, I was happy.

I had forgotten the lessless RUTH (Hi, @mmorgan). Hah. Some people have neither truth nor ruth.

If you HAIL someone, has it really moved into “rapturously” territory? I would say a HAIL is done warmly, enthusiastically… but rapturously? My dogs, yes. So my first thought was “lick.” “Bark.” “Jump.” Up on your legs getting your skirt muddy and running your hose. That’s rapture. My dogs are the only ones who “get” me.

The cluing was brutal for me. And my dnf was because of the two crosses TENERIFE/OLIN and AMAHL/POLA. No biggie. Hasn’t ruined my weekend.

Rex – your AHMAD AMAHL AMOUR - good one.

mikeametrics 5:43 AM  

MAOTAI is etched forever in my brain after some Chinese colleagues insisted we try some of the paint thinner equivalent in celebration of Chinese New Year. Apparently it's quite the delicacy in China -- you can get bottles for in excess of $1,000... who knew.

POLA/AMAHL is a cruel joke, plainly spoken... ergo DNF

Robso 6:01 AM  

One more problem, the clue states “or a hint to five non consecutive letters,” and in two of the three answers . . . THE “T” AND THE “H” ARE INDEED CONSECUTIVE.
Okay, maybe not the end of the world, but still slightly annoying.

American Liberal Elite 6:11 AM  

Olin is in Needham, which is next to Natick.

Johnny 6:14 AM  

I'm a little baffled at how many commenters were thrown by POLA and TENERIFE. POLA Negri was a big star of the silent era and more importantly she seems to show up in the puzzle at least once a week. Now TENERIFE in the Canary Islands is a bit tougher but it was the site of the deadliest crash in aviation history in 1977; it's not obscure. If you only know one air crash site this is the one to know. This is Saturday folks it's the big game ya gotta know this stuff.

Thomaso808 6:25 AM  

Isn’t it wrong to refer to 53A “Bed Peace” as a 2011 film? I see it was put on YouTube by Yoko Ono in 2011, but the clue just seems like a cheap way to get ONO to look current. Was there another film in 2011?

DNF on the POLA/AMAHL cross, like many others.

RUTH with that meaning was a new one for me. Thanks, @LMS for that lessless line. Made me look twice and think even more!

I can’t say I enjoyed this one. Too much weird fill for me, with LOUCHE, TENERIFE, MAOTAI, AHMADTEA, etc. My preference:

Tricky clues for fill that you know, before straight clues for fill that’s a WOE.

Whitey 6:27 AM  

A Korean friend here in Korea was just telling me about the AHMAD TEA brand just the other day. She lived in Singapore for a while, for what that's worth, so she knows her TWG from her AHMAD TEA.

It's fair. It's Saturday; expect to be challenged.

Lewis 6:44 AM  

@Q -- Thank you, but I'm not sure i would have got that. Maybe.
@rex -- I second @lms's praise of your AHMAD AMAHL AMOUR quip. I also was thinking this could have been a Wednesday, especially if the C of CARP had been an A, but that tea and Chinese liquor would still have been tough.

A new ONO clue!

I guessed to glory in the high NE, not knowing CREEL, the tea, and not sure of RHEA, and so I learned CREEL, which now I see I should have known, as it has been used often in NYT puzzles. Okay, that one I'll remember. AHMAD TEA in quotes gets 1.4 million hits on Google, so I guess it is a thing. I did not mind the theme and was quite impressed with how DON'T ARGUE WITH ME cut through the three horizontal spanners. The theme didn't help with the solve, but often themes don't. (It's great when they do.) There was not a lot of joy in the solve, but it fired up my synapses, made me work, and I always like that.

It wasn't like trudging through the mud, more like stop-and-go, onward to the destination. And I'm glad for having done it.

Thomaso808 6:49 AM  

@Johnny, you made me check because of my DNF. The last use of POLA was in 2014 and the last use of NEGRI was 2011. For POLANEGRI you have to go back to 1985. So I think to say she “seems to show up in the puzzle at least once a week” is to STRETCHTHETRUTH. ;)

I have no problem with crossing a silent film star with an opera title name — it’s a Saturday puzzle, after all. Just not in my wheelhouse and I’m used to that. But don’t tell me it’s something I should know because it’s in the puzzle every week when it isn’t.

PG Bartlett 7:22 AM  

It's been a long time since I could say this, but I found today's puzzle quite challenging (32 minutes!). And because of the challenge, I enjoyed it immensely.

Had halve/volT instead of INTWO/WATT for a long time but oNTIGUA was staring at me and the NW corner remained otherwise empty - so I finally caved in. The SE went down but only with a huge fight. (LOUCHE? wtf...)

This was my first DNF in a very long time. And my first double DNF in, like, forever.

Trey 7:27 AM  

Ruth = opposite of ruthless

QuasiMojo 7:32 AM  

Fun puzzle. I didn't mind the theme because I ignored it. I didn't find anything to JEER AT here. Lighten up folks!

AMAHL and the NIGHT VISITORS is a Christmas staple across the country. It also is historic since it first aired live on TV. Just because you don't know it does not make it a Natick. Or unfair fill. I've never heard of Pass Rush but I am not about to scream that it crossing RHEA whom some may not know is a Natick.

Pola Negri is an iconic star of the silent screen. Again, not someone everyone may have heard of but neither is Kareem Abdul Jabar.

A creel is a wicker case that is used to hold fish (I guess the wicker lets it breathe.) Very common.

I'm amazed by the complaints on this blog and elsewhere apparently that people don't know certain things and therefore it's unfair. The other day I did the LA TIMES puzzle which is usually very easy but I came across the word LIEF and the day before SKOSH. I had never heard of either of these terms but that didn't make it unfair. It made it all that more enjoyable because I learned something for my troubles.

Trey 7:35 AM  

Similar to PGB, I had halve/volT but then wosenened it wit oneup - made a mess of the long across

Challenging for me. Long Saturday time - worst in awhile. Although there was dreck, I like being chalenged. The long answers and theme made the drexk tolerable

Can someone explain Spelling and MOJO to me? Thanks

QuasiMojo 7:36 AM  

haha. just for the record, above, I meant the creel gets to breathe (as in air out) rather than the dead fish.

Anonymous 7:38 AM  

Love Ahmad Tea and have it sitting on my counter right now. Right here in the good old US of A. Rex, just because YOU never heard of something doesn't mean none of the rest of the world has. Quit your bellyaching!

QuasiMojo 7:41 AM  

Thanks for deleting my comment. Well, that's it for me. That's happened too many times. Sayonara baby.

Two Ponies 7:48 AM  

Way too easy for a Saturday and a crappy theme.

Well, it is unusual to see a string of S's along a left border of a puzzle grid versus the convenience of the right or bottom edges.

Wasn't sure about louche/Ono. Could have been leuche/Eno but a film with that name sealed the deal.

Did not know Hiawatha was Mohawk.

In two crossing One up caught my eye.

Cadre of warriors? Thieves or other bad guys seems like a better fit.

@ Larry G., Rodents seem to love plastic wire insulation, the little bastards. Good luck.

Unknown 7:59 AM  

Hi, Trey

A mojo is a bag of charms for casting voodoo SPELLS.

Black Sun 8:09 AM  

Finding your own space? How? By eliminating the infidels? Sure, then you'll have lots of room.

Jon Alexander 8:11 AM  

I don't know how any constructor/editor could look at AMAHL/POLA and say "Yeah, looks fair." If you are going to cross two names at least make either one of them easily inferrable from the letters or at least draw upon a knowledge base that is less crossword arcana. I want my solving experience, especially when I screw up, to be "Ah, I get it!" rather than "Wha? WTF is that?!"

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Trey, the spelling clue concerns a witch casting a spell. To me AAHED is the worst answer I've seen this year. I had LET ON with Aahet. I knew Aahet was wrong and literally spent 20 minutes trying to come up with a sensible answer! I can't believe that the answer was AAHED !!! Ugh

ghthree 8:13 AM  

"Still, perhaps it would be wise
Not to CARP or criticize
For its very evident
These intentions are well-meant."
(W.S. Gilbert, Pirates of Penzance)

W. White 8:30 AM  

It could have been worse. Amahl could have had acne.

But still the end of western Civilization as we know it. A THEME on Saturday!!!


I guess what I would want to say is to look on the bright side. First of all, nobody on the ground was killed. And that-- I mean, an incident like this over a populated urban center-- That right there, that's-- that's just gotta be some minor miracle, so-- Plus, neither plane was full. You know, the-- the 737 was-- was what? Uh, maybe two-thirds full, I believe. Right? Yes? Or maybe even three-quarters full. Well, at any rate, what you're left with casualty-wise is just the 50th worst air disaster. Actually, tied for 50th.
There are, in truth, 53 that are just as bad or worse-- Tenerife? Has anybody-- anybody hear of Tenerife No? In 1977, two fully loaded 747s crashed into each other on Tenerife. Does anybody know how big a 747 is? I mean, it's way bigger than a 737. And we're talking about two of them. Nearly 600 people died on Tenerife.

Do any of you even remember it at all? Any of you? I doubt it. You know why? It's because people move on. They just move on. And we will, too. We will move on, and we will get past this because that is what human beings do. We survive. We survive, and-- and we-- we overcome.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

“Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth.” - Lycidas

DrBB 8:52 AM  

I didn't even realize there was a "theme" until working my way (pretty easily) down to 54A, and then it was so lame that I still can't figure out why the constructor bothered. Almost like the cross came first and then somebody noticed, hey, T-R-U-T-H, waddya know, and clued it that way. Coulda clued it differently, left us all blissfully ignorant, and just stood as a themeless--if w-a-a-a-a-y too-easy-for-a-Saturday Saturday puzzle. I agree: this was a Wednesday at best. Big disappointment for my Saturday a.m.

Scott Thomas 8:53 AM  

If you've seen one Night Visitor, you've seen Amahl ...

Forsythia 8:57 AM  

Close to fastest time. Knew Amahl (children's TV Christmas special)and have seen Negri Pola in many crosswords. Never heard of LOUCHE and wonder if the original was dOUCHE! No idea on the tea but crosses worked. Big guess at SXSW. Liked the AAA clued tower. Just spent much time planning a Canadian Rockies train trip with AAA yesterday to _AA popped easy despite no idea on Chinese liquor.

Happy not to have a DNF since it seems lately I have had one letter wrong which I can't find, and hunting ends up eating up time. The puzzle was NOT a Saturday (EKESOUT in the center????!!!).

Birchbark 9:12 AM  

Nothing wrong with a puzzle anchored on BUTTERNUT SQUASH crossing DON'T ARGUE WITH ME. But that's more of a Thanksgiving week quasi-themeless, what with RANTS over THROUGH THE YEARS conjuring up nostalgic memories: here and there around the table, some latently STRETCH THE TRUTH about how they're positioned vis-a-vis the future. The ELDERs appreciate the gesture. After dinner, that new guy continues his meet-the-family charm offensive -- he brought a box of AHMAD TEA and a bottle of MAO TAI back from his junior year abroad, covering all the bases. Some CLEAN up, some recline in triptophan LIMBO. It goes on this way for quite some time.

kitshef 9:19 AM  

Very easy here. A few rewrites: kREEL before CREEL, eRoS before ARES, grEeN before CLEAN, ooHED before AAHED. None led to any serious delays.

Never heard of AHMAD TEA, nor AMAHL, MAOTAI. Agree that the theme is powerfully weak.

Probably helped along a bit by getting TENERIFE from just the T. Back in ’95 we went there for a winter break. Our hotel had a nice ocean view, but unfortunately was maybe 100 yards from a karaoke bar. Every evening at around sunset, they would kick off the evening with what I guess was the owner doing a heavily-accented, off-key version of When I’m Sixty-four. And that was about as good as it got. To this day I shudder when I hear Can You Feel the Love Tonight.

This was in the days of the beach chair wars between the Brits and the Germans. The Germans would get up early, go put their towels on the beach chairs, then go to breakfast and come back much later. The Brits, tired of finding all the chairs ‘reserved’ but empty, took to smuggling beach chairs up to their rooms the night before. Eventually, there were fistfights.

Hartley70 9:32 AM  

@W. White 8:30, it's an age thing. I remember the TENERIFE collision quite well, also we always flew Pan Am.

AMAHL was also a gimme if you watched the production on your black and white tv every Christmas in the 1950's.

I didn't find the fill easy until I got the themers and that was a bit late in the game. My time, however, was very fast for a Saturday because the themers took up so much space. TRUTH didn't help at all, but the tone of the themers was so similar that solving one unlocked them all tout suite.

I don't think BUTTERNUTSQUASH tastes like pumpkin.

I'm wondering if the antler is still attached to the beast.

k 9:34 AM  

Leo Carax's POLA X would have been welcome

Mohair Sam 9:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Outside The Box 9:41 AM  

Amahl, Ahmadtea, and Aahed in the same puzzle? Puh-leze!

I still don’t get 8d; Ruth????! I mean I got it but I don’t get it, if you know what I mean.

Axel 9:46 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mohair Sam 9:47 AM  

@Scott Thomas (8:53) Nice.

@Kieth M (9:34) - That is one fine lookin' dog.

Tita 9:50 AM  

My fishing experience ended at about the age of 8. It involved a piece of bread on a line tied to a branch. Yet, I owned a CREEL. From my fleamarketing days. Thankfully, I sold it to another non fisher woman in a garage sale.

My dear friend is wildly enameled of AMAHL and the Night Visitors. Mother! Mother! We saw a production at the SUNY Purchase theatre...I do believe we were the only audience members not related to the cast or production folks. It was a wonderful production.

So I didn't have that natick. Nor at Tenerife. That was a gimme off the T___R... Remembering the name gave me a feeling of dread, but I had to Google why. Then I remembered that crash, and the only reason I knew the name.

I kept ooHED and greeN, so I had an overlooked bumbling mess in that section, and dnf'd.

While AHMAD tea was not forthcoming, once it went in,mi thought to myself..."I bet I have some in my tea cabinet." Checked. Yup. I do. An Earl Grey tin. But that's not surprising. I probably have every known and obscure tea in that cabinet. My tea-loving cousin organized my tea cabinet on her last visit. Categorized by tea type, then by geography. It took about 2 weeks after she left for it to return to its usual state. Aha, entropy.

I'm happy to see a theme on Saturday, as long as the puzzle is overall still really hard, and the theme is great. The fact that 2 of them had the TH consecutive blew it for me though. It was a weak theme to begin with, and then it just STRETCHed THE theme till it snapped. (Hi @Robso)

As a themeless I admired this more.
Thanks, Mr. Shteyman.

Cook 9:51 AM  

Completed while drinking my second cup of Ahmad Ceylon tea! Really good tea available from our friendly neighbourhood Amazon grocery store.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Re: OFL's posted solve times:

A few posters have commented lately about this, expressing wonderment (and, a few times) skepticism.

I'll concede that he's well-above-average-smart, and that there are people whose brain-wiring is well set for crossword solving. A past co-worker would amaze me by doing the NYTXW strictly sequentially across, then sequentially down, completely succeeding always early in the week, and sometimes late in the week. He was a bright guy, though no off-the-scale genius; I assume he was just well-wired for XWs.

Anyway ...

Has anyone seen OFL competing in live XW Tournaments? Did his results jibe strongly with the times he posts here?

Nancy 10:01 AM  

I had -ET at 43D and ran the alphabet before allowing myself to write in SET for "fix", since I certainly didn't know SXSW. Then, when I changed LEER AT to JEER AT (3D), I was able to figure out MOJO at 1A. And thus my two chances to not finish were vanquished. PHEW! (Which I assume is right, because there's no such place as RUwP Arena, right?)

When I had DON'T A--------- at 7D, I immediately wrote in ASK, which screwed me up with both ANTIGUA (where I had a K) and BUTTERNUT SQUASH. And I had SINAI before SHEBA (51D). I was a bit taken aback by AMOUR at 6D. You can't be an out-in-the-open-for-everyone-to-see AMOUR? An AMOUR is always hidden away "undercover"? So sad.

I thought the theme was ridiculous and not worth a moment's thought, but I didn't especially mind the puzzle. It had a fair share of garbage and crosswordese, but at least it made me think. It would, however, STRETCH THE TRUTH to call it a CLEAN puzzle.

kitshef 10:10 AM  

@Two Ponies - rabbits are lagomorphs, not rodents, but they, too, love to chew.

@ W White - I don't know what the first part of your post is concerning, but I do remember the TENERIFE crash - both at the time, and there were articles about it earlier this year (it was forty years ago).

Tita 10:10 AM  

@Scott Thomas...very funny...!

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Hey Johnny 6:14, STFU.

Jim2 10:12 AM  

Never posted before but had to applaud LMS’s avatar today.

Lacking ruth and truth indeed.

Alpha-Data 10:14 AM  

I almost threw my iPad across the room at "aahed"!

Lewis 10:18 AM  

@tita -- My fishing career ended at about the same age when on a backswing the hook hooked my belly so that its barb was sticking out apart from where it went in. Soured me on the whole enterprise.

Norm 10:19 AM  

Tres louche ...

Norm 10:21 AM  

Anonymous @9:59 : You can find past results from the NYT tournament. The answer to your question is yes. He's a fast solver -- and those are very tricky puzzles.

mathgent 10:21 AM  

@Scott Thomas (8:53): Love it.

I'm reminded of the old line about the motorcyclist who went for a ride with his girlfriend perched precariously on the back seat. He hit a bump and ride on ruthlessly.

I love being reminded of words we know primarily from where they have "less" tacked on. I watched some of Noel Coward's Present Laughter on our local Public Television channel last night. The magnificent Kevin Kline played the lead role. He admitted to his secretary that he had been behaving rather fecklessly lately.

Bob Mills 10:24 AM  

Easy for a Saturday, presuming one pays no attention to the silly theme. For once I agree with Rex.

Stanley Hudson 10:25 AM  

What Nancy said: “I thought the theme was ridiculous and not worth a moment's thought, but I didn't especially mind the puzzle. It had a fair share of garbage and crosswordese, but at least it made me think. It would, however, STRETCH THE TRUTH to call it a CLEAN puzzle.”

Too bad it was a Saturday, which is normally a weekly highlight.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

@American Liberal Elite (6:11) -- Love your comment. @Scott Thomas (8:53) -- Also love your comment.

@Questinia (1:56) -- I must be missing something. Can you please explain why LOUCHE is "phonetically oxymoronic"?

@Robin (2:04) -- I've been bitten too many times. Now I write in just ST- and wait to see if the third letter will be an A or an N.

I have a low threshold of tolerance for silent movies and am sure I've never seen POLA Negri on screen even once. Nevertheless, she used to appear quite frequently in crossword world. That would have been in the Maleska days or one of those other pre-Shortzian days. You could say she was big; it's just the crosswords that got small.

Teedmn 10:29 AM  

I saw the clue for 24A and thought, "Crosswordese, I'll get that with a couple of crosses". When I was down to PO_A, I ran the alphabet and was surprised that I wasn't certain about any of the 26 - stuck in L as the most likely and got lucky.

@Scott Thomas, nice!

@Hartley70, good question on the 46D ANTLER. Sounds like a mistake Mr. Magoo might make.

A fine puzzle for some day other than Saturday. Perhaps the constructor was anticipating the CARPing about its easiness with VENTS and RANTS (nice clue for that BTW) both in the grid. Thanks, Mr. Shteyman.

Mohair Sam 10:37 AM  

It amazes me how most of y'all had no problem with the crossing of a small New England school and a Canary Island (we dnf'd with an "e" there) and had fits with our gimme AMAHL - differ'nt strokes I guess.

Didn't know POLA - If a silent flick doesn't feature Harold Lloyd or Clara Bow (the It Girl) I turn off TCM. "Fancy Woman" wouldn't fit at 15A so we went with the inferior answer AMOUR. I pulled a recipe off the 'Net the other day and made a BUTTERNUT SQUASH soup - that stuff is goood. Thanks to @Loren and others for teaching us that there's no RUTHless without RUTH.

Learned LOUCHE, AHMAD TEA, and the MAOTAI liquor today. So I looked it up -
MAOTAI is not named after the Chairman, it predates him - although the Communist Party gladly adopted the drink as its own when he took power. MAOTAI was used as a cure for all kinds of diseases and wounds on the "Long March". Nixon partook of the stuff and then toasted with it on his historic 1972 visit to China. Beat that Jack Daniels.

Jonathan Brown 10:39 AM  

For the football fans among us, a pass rush is not a tactic.

Robert A. Simon 10:46 AM  

All I know is I just added "Taste Maotai" to my bucket list, which also includes "Meet George Barany and Loren Muse Smith in person."

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Besides the boring obscurities in this puzzle, the five letters are NOT nonconsecutive.

Suzie Q 11:08 AM  

@ kitshef 10:10,
Boy, you must be the life of the party.

GILL I. 11:08 AM  

I usually rave about a puzzle - especially if I sail through it on a Sat. The only razzle dazzle I got was picturing Hop-A-Long Cassidy tossing his ten gallon on top of Bambi's ANTLER in the den.
I like the word LOUCHE and I like the never heard of AHMAD TEA AND MAO TAI. Yorkshire tea is my favorite.
I'm baffled by some of you Saturday solvers who have never heard of AMAHL nor POLA. Why? I'm also baffled about not knowing TENERIFE. It's like not knowing ENTEBBE. Maybe @Hartley is right and it's an age thing?
@W.White. I well remember the "deadliest crash in aviation history." When I lived in Spain, I would often vacation in TENERIFE. Like @kitshef, I would watch the Germans steal all of the beach chairs but unlike the Brits, we simply removed the towels and took our chairs elsewhere. I stopped going to TENERIFE because I don't like tourists - especially those that refused to speak Spanish.
I knew 6 people who were on the Pan Am flight. Because they were in the travel industry, they had been up-graded to first class. It was those few passengers in the front of the aircraft including the cockpit crew who survived. One of the survivors was the owner of a very large wholesale tour operation. His wife didn't make it but he walked away..... never to fly again.
I would never go back to TENERIFE. Close to 600 people died because of fog and because the KLM pilot did not understand the control tower commands. Stupid and avoidable mistakes. After that disaster and the KLM blame game, rules were changed. It happens every time there is an air safety problem. Some things you never forget.
Well, puzzle...See what you made me do?

jberg 11:12 AM  

This must have been easy, judging from the number of comments before I got here. I was going to define CREEL, give that Milton quotation, and point out how close Needham is to Natick (I don't think they are really adjacent -- you have to go through Wellesley) -- but everyone's done all of those things already.

What I learned: apparently "AMAHL and the Night Visitors" is no longer on TV every Christmas. Thanks, @Hartley70! Anyway, Menotti's "Help, Help, the Globolinks" is more fun.

@Loren, "Ave atque vale" (hail and farewell) certainly doesn't convey a sense of rapture. But in other senses, I guess it's OK.

Kareem 11:12 AM  

Of course I need my own space. I'm 7'2".

Frank3038 11:14 AM  


Carola 11:31 AM  

Agree with @Rex.
After writing in AMAHL and POLA, I had no hesitation in writing in the equally crosswordy snElL for the fishing gear.
It was a jolt to see TENERIFE (horrific disaster) after yesterday's ENTEBBE (fantastic rescue).

I edit copy for a chamber music festival, and you wouldn't believe how many artist bios begin, "HAILed as...." My practice is to RUTHlessly delete all HAILs for a just-the-facts presentation, which is impressive enough.

Passing Shot 11:32 AM  


old timer 11:43 AM  

My Natick was not knowing the RUPP Arena. I had "Ruwp" instead. Like many of you I saw that AMAHL show every Christmas back in the '50s so no problem there. No problem with CREEL though. There is a ribald song from the North of England that involves a CREEL and a crab and a woman who was not wearing panties (and when the song was written, panties did not really exist).

OFL is right today. This would have been a fine Wednesday with easier clues.

John 11:58 AM  

“aahed” at 59 A is nonsense, has anyone ever said “we aahed at” anything. We all said aah. All I could was aah. Or some such. Very annoying.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Horrible theme, horrible cluing (and answers!). just all-around awful puzzle. "Undercover lover"=amour? Really?? "Rants" and "vents"?? I agree with Rex, I cringed on filling in "aahed." Really weak effort today.

evil doug 12:08 PM  

"We have been told quite emphatically to stop talking about all of it, so I guess she'll just tell us sometime in April where she's gonna be next year. Could very well be UCLA. Or not. We'll see."

Then I presume she's writing the check, too....

Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Hey -- It was sure hardass enough to be a SatPuz, at our house ... It was downright RUTHLOUCHE, in places. AHMADTEA and LOUCHE were nasty long-balls. The {Need to sleep, maybe} clue for QUIET drove m&e nuts. The rest was somewhat friendlier, but still took some time to open all the boxes. Nice desperation touches, with AAHED and RCPT.

fave entry: SXSW. Been to Austin in the spring and done that. Be sure to eat yer breakfast at The Omeletry (sp.?) Part of a Tarantino shlock flick, with whatshisVanillaSkyname in it, took place there, btw.*

I got no big problem with a bonus theme mcguffin, since the puz put up a Sat-level fight and met the requisite 72-word max. Coupla totally-neighborly-liked-it-anyway complaints, tho:

* Themers don't stretch "THETRUTH". They just stretch "TRUTH", Tarzan-style.
* TRUTH don't get stretched very tolerable good, in THROUGHTHEYEARS. Got a louchey loada EYEARS left over. This does get points for desperation, tho. Sooo … sorta ok.
* Constructioneer's name is too short to qualify, this weekend. Needed to collab with a celebrity with a 4-part name.
* Like for other Comment Galleryers, revealer clue seems way too moo-cow-esque, for a SatPuz. Better 54-A clue: {What the Shortzmeister would be doing, if he called this a themeless puz?}, or somesuch.

staff weeject pick: STN. This is the THROUGHTHEYEARS-equivalent of a compact STATIONWAGON. har

Thanx, Mr. Shteyman. Intersectin grid-spanner themers with a low word count. Primo construction work. Double-digit U's! De-loUche-ous!
… Not yer fault, where it landed in the week (on @RP's toes, evidently).

Masked & Anonymo10Us


Kurt Russell, "Death Proof". M&A had to grunt for a spell, to get it.

Adam 12:29 PM  

Didn't know TENERIFE, had GREEN for CLEAN and TRIG for CALC; couldn't move forward from there. MAOTAI? Really? Crossing AAA? It could almost be any letter. I agree with @Rex except I found it exceedingly difficult because of those - and I did not find the clues or crosses helpful. Very disappointing Saturday, my first DNF in a very long time. Feh.

Tim Aurthur 12:47 PM  

Learning that there's a MT. OBAMA made this puzzle worth doing.

MichGirl 12:51 PM  

This was my stumper, too.

Fred Romagnolo 1:02 PM  

@Scott Thomas: I join the discerning others in HAILing your clever pun. @Math Gent: I couldn't get past the opening of "Present Laughter" because of that incredible display of Junior High School level really bad acting by that horrible girl at the very beginning, so I missed the rest. @Nancy: your It's the crosswords that got small was brilliant! AMAHL was eventually broadcast in color, Teresa Stratas was magnificent. POLA made a movie in the 40's, with Dennis O'Keefe, so not strictly a silent star. I drink tea instead of coffee, but never heard of AHMAL TEA. Lao Tse:"Heaven and Earth are not RUTHful;/ To them the Ten Thousand Things are but as straw dogs. Tao-te-ching, 5. Tr. Arthur Waley. LIMBO is not a BAD state to be in, it's indecisive.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Evil Doug @ 2:08 ~ My reaction, exactly. UCLA is not particularly suited to snowflakes, though. Weather wise, I mean.

Fred Romagnolo 1:06 PM  

@Nancy, thanks for the tutorial on italics and Boldface. I should have closed quote above on "dogs."

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

@Anonymous 9:59 - find the Twitter page for Lollapuzzoola 2017, which has a link to the standings from that tournament. Rex is listed by his irl name, Michael Sharp.

@W. White Tenerife comment replies - The post is a direct quote from an episode of "Breaking Bad," i.e., not entirely serious.

Joe Bleaux 1:32 PM  

Advice to newbies: Post EARLY, or be content to comment precious little beyond
"@ ___. Damn you! I was gonna say that," and "@ ___. Hand up on, me too," and "@___. You're really full of it." Then you can babble something about good puzzle, challenging, couple of writeovers but finished, blah blah, theme, but @Rex, terrible clue, and so, blah.

Trombone Tom 1:43 PM  

What @Rex said!

Apparently AMAHL TEA started out in Iran, became British, and has one outpost in the USA. Certainly have not heard of them in CA.

Puzzle was not my cuppa for a Saturday.

Trombone Tom 1:46 PM  


Two Ponies 2:01 PM  

@ QuasiMojo (7:41),
If you are still reading, I don't know what happened with you
and your deleted posts but I hope you rethink your adios.

Joe Dipinto 2:03 PM  

POLA and AMAHL we're gimmes for me. (I damn well oughta know AMAHL & The Night Visitors; I used to work for the company that owns the copyright).

I agree this would have worked as an earlier-in-the week entry, though I still wouldn't have been crazy about the theme. When I saw the constructor's name, I PERKed up, since I usually enjoy his work, but this wasn't one of Mr. Shteyman's most sparkling efforts, imo.

Are bass solos really that common at rock concerts? At jazz performances absolutely, but as a rock concert staple BASS SOLO seems a bit of a, um, S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

Austenlover 2:05 PM  

AMAHL and POLA were gimmes, got stuck on SXSW and MOJO crossing MAOTAI was a Natick. The original NATICK was not a Natick, because we used to live next door in Framingham.

Unknown 2:12 PM  

Agree that non-consecutive letters that spell a random word is not a theme. By the way, Ahmad Tea is available at UK Gourmet in Bethel, CT.

Joe Dipinto 2:14 PM  

@Questinia 1:56 -- I think your idea is spot-on: the "revealer" aspect of clue 54a was overkill and unnecessary. It would have been better left out.

Bax'N'Nex 2:30 PM  

Thank you for that...was going to ask myself

Bax'N'Nex 2:31 PM  

Well, not literally ask myself. I wouldn’t have been able to answer.

Meant “I also was wondering”

Bax'N'Nex 2:34 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bax'N'Nex 2:36 PM  


Bax'N'Nex 2:41 PM  

Thank you for the highly educated, insightful smear of all Muslims. I once read of a “christian” who shot and killed an abortion doctor. So by your steel-trap Logic, ALL christians are murderers. This is why Drumpf is your president...

Bax'N'Nex 2:42 PM  

(Had a typo in my first, now deleted post, y’all)

Maruchka 2:46 PM  

MOJO can refer to a magical amulet used to enchant and seduce another. ''Got my MOJO workin', but it just won't work on you" per Muddy Waters, famously.

Bax'N'Nex 2:47 PM  

Man, I feel stupid. Seems the majority felt this was pretty easy. Why didn’t #notmyfearlessleader regale is with his time wasted on doing this puzzle?

I didn’t get the clue for mojo until I came here. Never heard of the liquor or tea. Could not get away from green instead of clean. Didn’t know the Canary island name. Many tough spots. But, as always, am appreciative of something to do while atvthe car wash...

OISK 2:49 PM  

SxSw has been in the puzzle at least twice before, but I STILL could not remember it. Had _xsw, and wanted T for Texas. Fortunately, the down clue gave it to me. Similarly, ENO or ONO for director? Louche looked better than Leuche. Amahl - easy for any opera lover, Tenerife - I love geography clues, really nothing for me to carp at. I don't really care about the "theme." It was a decent puzzle without it, AFAIAC.

Bax'N'Nex 2:50 PM  

Agreed. Had drum solo

Kimberly 3:10 PM  

Someone bring Rex a fainting couch, he has been betrayed.

Rex clutches his pearls and sways. “Why would you DO this,” he says, his voice catching as his lower lip begins to tremble...

BarbieBarbie 3:19 PM  

@Evil, my rxn too, until I thought about all the reciprocal tuition agreements for faculty children.

I can’t believe my two comments have not already been covered. First one: when the answer is VENTS, don’t use pENT in the clue. Second one: what a cape does is JUT. It JUTS, sure, but what it does is JUT. Two edit-fails.

@Rex: Harvey Mudd looks like an awesome school. Hope she chooses it. She’ll be an engineer but have to write a liberal arts thesis, so she’ll get an education and not just a training. UCLA, not so much. Nice campus, though, if you’re blonde.

Joe Dipinto 3:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oldflappyfrommississappy 3:52 PM  

Hay Joe Bleaux, where ya goin with yer dick in yer Hand?

Joe Dipinto 3:53 PM  

In the establishment I'm patronizing at the moment, "Scorpio" by Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band just played on the music system. Now that does have a kick-ass bass solo.

RL 4:42 PM  

RANTS clued without reference to OFL is just an opportunity missed.

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

@ Davis Schinnerer, Get a grip on how to post man. A cluster of senseless posts look like you're talking to yourself.
Who do you think you are, Shelby Glidden? Took him awhile but even he figured it out.

Girish 5:09 PM  

what flavour...? is it charitea...?

Girish 5:15 PM  

If there is space
for a black sun
then there is space
for everyone.
- Burmashave

Tita 5:15 PM  

@Lewis - that makes for a very fashionable piercing now. You were ahead of your time...

@Stephen Delligatti - and Maynard's Wine Gums too!

Anoa Bob 5:18 PM  

With _ _ UCHE already in place at 45D, I confidently Dropped in GA, thinking that GAUCHE was Saturday-close-enough for "Disreputable". When LOUCHE final emerged and exposed my error, I was glad to learn a new-to-me word. My trusty Random House tells me it first appeared around 1810-20 and came from the French, where it means cross-eyed, and originally form the Latin luscus, meaning blind in one eye.

Like M&A, The clue for 39D "Need to sleep, maybe" didn't seem to match the answer, QUIET. I was thinking TIRED or some other 5-letter word for needing to sleep. Then it finally dawned on me that the clue should be read as "a condition that some people need in order to sleep".

Girish 5:19 PM  

don't be mean... 😬

Girish 5:20 PM  

how many daughters, dougie...? 🤔

Tita 5:28 PM  

@Fred R -
I think you're referring to my "tutorial", which @Joe DePinto was able to implement quite nicely!

I only mention this so that I can interject the following:

Blogger is absolutely pathetic, and that is why it forces ordinary people to know hypertext markup language in order to post.
And why it doesn't automatically convert hyperlinks to live links.
Except for sometimes on some platforms.

It is for that reason that newbies, though no specific fault of their own, merrily hit "Reply" on comments.
They should not have to know that because Blogger is Google's red-headed stepchild, and has not kept pace with - um - the march of time, we developed this depends-on-your-point-of-view wonderful convention where we a) Make one post in which we reference all the other blogger comments (kinda like I did just above) using the @, and 2) we try really hard to limit ourselves to just 3 posts per day.

You're welcome. (Happily, there is no such agreed-upon convention limiting length of posts!!

Oh -- and @Joe DP, @Fred R - ha ha and lol - I notice that my laboriously typed tutorial from yesterday appears directly below the comment box!!!!!

Girish 5:35 PM  

Re-Measuring Roosevelt's Schtick
Spare the rod,
no rule of thumb.
Old white men
aren't dumb.
Bomb from the bunker.
- Anonymous

Girish 5:37 PM  

think it's usually in a jazz group

Girish 5:43 PM  

at least David's posts are interesting and relevant,

RooMonster 6:00 PM  

Hey All !
Had to triple-check that it was a SatPuz. A theme on Saturday? Wowsers.
Agree with everyone about the bad stuff. :-) (Hi, @Joe Bleaux 1:32)
The TH was together on two of the three themers. Huh?

MOJO LIMBO (either way...)

Joe Dipinto 6:08 PM  

@Tita A -- your tutorial was perfect. :-)

Worth noting for future reference: in my deleted response at 3:49 above, I had used the italics formula in one spot. The post had an error I wanted to correct so I copied the text, deleted the post, and reposted with corrections at 3:53.

The copying of the original text did not pick up the italics keystrokes, which I didn't realize until afterward.

No big deal in this case, but if someone wants to perform the same copy-delete-repost operation and retain the italics (or bold or whatever) you must re-enter those keystrokes before publishing the corrected entry.

Carola 6:08 PM  

@BarbieBarbie, I appreciate your JUT comment. I actually first wrote in JUTt (which happens to be the last name of a friend, but I think I must have unconsciously been trying to make the syntax work). Changing that t to an S caused a little flinch of "Really?"

W. White 6:29 PM  

@ anonymous 1:20 PM Not serious??? I AM THE DANGER!

Otherwise, thanks for being the only person on here who got it.

Fred Romagnolo 6:36 PM  

@Tita A: apologies for the error; incidentally the picture you post with your blog indicates that you're a very handsome person and way to young for some of your autobiographical stuff IMHO. Unfortunately the system doesn't work on skype or my e-mail system, but my son says it does on Apple-mail.

Fred Romagnolo 6:37 PM  

that's "too" for "to," I'm a bad proofer

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

@w. White - yo that's how I roll, bitch.
-- J.P.

Nancy 6:50 PM  

@Fred R. -- I'm glad that @Tita stopped by to take credit for her italics/boldface tutorial. I would have been happy to pass along to you the knowledge that someone here was kind enough to impart to me a while back, but I think I perhaps wasn't around when you inquired Or Joe Dipinto did; I forget. I was coming around to give Tita her rightful attribution, but she beat me to it.

It's only taken me 9 years to figure out how to do italics in my email account which is an entirely different process from the Rexblog. There, you simply press Control and i at the same time, then press them both a second time when you want to end the italics. Much, much easier.

Joe Dipinto 7:05 PM  

@Anon 4:50 -- re your last sentence: are you sure about that? - lol

semioticus (shelbyl) 7:08 PM  

I was not happy with yesterday's puzzles but oh God what an abomination this was. Naticks, stupid themes, unheard of proper nouns, you name it we've got it!

Jeez. I mean, why would you tinker with the one thing that has actually been good consistently? WHHHHHYYYYYY

Anonymous 7:15 PM  

@ Joe Di, Apparently not! Wishful thinking.

foxaroni 9:25 PM  

I don't understand the answer for 20A: THROUGH THEY EARS.?????

Matthew G. 9:54 PM  

Totally agree with Rex today. If this had run on a Wednesday, I probably would have liked it. On a Saturday it just left me feeling cheated of the Hard Themeless I was expecting.

Joy2u 9:57 PM  

Combination of 'LOUse' and 'douCHE' ?? (Disreputible)

kitshef 10:32 PM  

@Anon 1:20 - Thanks for that. Missed it completely (but never seen Breaking Bad).

@Suzie Q - NO! Quite the opposite.

Anonymous 11:24 PM  

@Shelby 5:15 pm
That's not a Haiku. It's a nice poem, but a Haiku is 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Like -
Not sure if I spelled
Syllables correctly here
But at least I tried.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Hi...I am missing how "AAA" is the answer to "Big tower letters." Can someone explain? Thanks

mbr 10:31 AM  

For me, Brenda Lee cannot be forgotten due to the ever-present (& annoying) Christmas song:

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

I also knew OLIN from daughters' college lists. Mine are also aiming to be Mudders in 2019. FWIW, a degree from either is prized over Caltech or MIT in the get sh*t done and done well world of electronics/hardware design and prototyping in SV. (I wonder if grandma will know who posted this when she reads it in six weeks :-))

Teedmn 11:02 AM  

@Anon 10:22 You call Triple A to get your car towed.

Cheerio 11:07 AM  

Agree with Loren Muse Smith that Hail doesn’t seem like a rapturous thing to me unless maybe it’s Hitlers Heiling masses. With Caesar wasn’t it more of a required statement of subservience? It’s bad enough to be required to salute - worse to have to pretend to be rapturous about it.

I did love learning that RUTH was a word. Can’t believe I have never thought about the nature of ruthless as a word. That was an AHA moment almost as fun as watching a friends child ”get” the black-white-red all over newspaper joke for the first time yesterday. Thanks!

Kath's Yarns 11:51 AM  


Kath's Yarns 11:52 AM  

Tenerife. Seared in memory as the sad site of the largest plane crash ever.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Teedmn @ 11:02 AM: Aah! "Toe-er" instead of Tower. Got it. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

muskox 1:16 PM  

Since when is Bed Peace by Lennon and Ono a 2011 film? It was released in 1969, at least according to the IMDb. Or am I missing something here?

Girish 3:41 PM  

Translation (even one mind to another) can be tough. Was trying for the 17 syllables (5+7+5).
The Japanese language (the little i understand it)
as well as the alphabet is quite imagistic, with little focus on phonetic rhyme. Thanks for your kind thoughts and suggestion (3 lines). 😀

AW 5:14 PM  

Sorry, but AAA does not tow cars so it's not, not, NOT a "big tower" (23A). You call them when you need to have your car towed and AAA calls the big towers and they tow your car. Phooey! If you're going to be clever with your cluing, at least be accurate. And "amazed by" (59A) doesn't jibe with "aahed at." One is in the passive voice, the other active. Shouldn't clues be parallel?

Diana, LIW 7:58 PM  

@Spacey - How do you access the blog? Tablet - phone - PC??? I've noticed you say you have trouble with accessing the blog when the Syndie Button is off kilter.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 11:10 AM  

AHMADTEA a gimme since it is the TEA of choice in this household. AMAHL also a gimme, especially at this time of year. POLA shows up every year or so, a yeah baby back in her time. The only thing I have to CARP about is that my split down the middle was *halve* making my joule/sec a *volT*. Musta forgot my electricity THROUGHTHEYEARS. I had all the themers in before getting to the reveal. I really hope to get to SXSW in Austin one of these next years. Half an hour of a decent puz and almost all CLEAN.

Burma Shave 11:45 AM  


nor JEERAT the New York JETS,
their PASSRUSH EKESOUT a PHEW attempts for RUTH
and THROUGHTHEYEARS ain't got it YET.


spacecraft 11:54 AM  

@Diana: PC. Thank the Tron gods it's fixed (SET??)--for now.

I finished on a pure guess at 1-down. I just put MAOTAI in there and hoped that it refers to a Mai tai Chinese style. PHEW!!

The rest if it was actually easy. Crosses for AHMADTEA were fair enough, as they were for LOUCHE. The AMAHL/POLA cross was a flat gimme. I ran into SXSW once before in these pages, so that one slid by.

I'm not really bothered by themed Saturdays--if the theme were something catchier than culling a word out of nonconsecutive letters in a long answer. He'd have done better to simply reduce the 54-across clue to the first word and throw it out as a themeless.

And what have we in a marquee central position? EKESOUT! EEEEK!!! There's some good stuff here: I learned a new word (LOUCHE) and a new fact (that Hiawatha was a MOHAWK). But without a serious DOD and with that awful 41-across, not enough to avoid a bogey.

thefogman 12:26 PM  
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thefogman 12:53 PM  

I was one square away from victory, but alas another DNF. I had AMAHi/POiA knowing zippo about either. I was also unfamiliar with MAOTAI (and how expensive it is) but in spite of that I did guess correctly. It's also spelt MouTAI by the way, but just not in this puzzle.

Now I need a drink. Might I have a MAOTAI Mai Tai?

thefogman 12:59 PM  
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thefogman 1:03 PM  


It was odd to see AAHED (59A). I certainly was not awed.


Please unbug this buggy blog.

Diana, LIW 1:19 PM  

@Spacey - if the Syndie button isn't working, say on a Sat you're still getting Fri's puzzle, below the "post a comment" notation (with underline) is "Newer Post" with underline. Click on newer post and the next day, Sat, will appear. Walla! That's one way to easily navigate when Rex forgets to set the synderland locale.

As to what happened to the correct Thursday puzzle, your guess is as good as any I can come up with. It was a fun puzzle, and I liked my post, so pllgghhh! I fear we shant get to see it in Syndieland.

I had nOLA, and wouldn't give her up. Yes, we have seen POLA before, but I just don't remember her. And I couldn't make that N work. So dnf.

Odd, because the long answers practically filled themselves in.

@Foggy - give it time - the post often appears in a couple of minutes. Refresh the Syndie button a few minutes after getting the Google error message.

Diana, Waiting for Real Tech Support instead of me ;-(

rainforest 2:02 PM  

A few observations.

Some people are way emotionally involved with their crossword puzzles to a point where I almost can't believe it.

If 54A had just said "exaggerate", this would have been a fine themeless.

Another thing I had trouble accepting was how many people didn't know TENERIFE. Non-US geography seems to baffle some.

For 62A, I tried to fit "Alabama" in.

On that note, were there to be a Mount Trump, I'm sure it would be a volcano.

Overall, despite the wonky "theme", this was an OK puzzle and fun to solve. AHMAD TEA was the beverage my Dad favoured after he discovered it in a British tea shoppe in Victoria. Never heard of SXSW, but eventually got T-REX. I'd call this a medium, and not too shabby.

leftcoastTAM 2:48 PM  

A bit surprised to see a Saturday themed puzzle. Got all the themers, including the revealer, but decided not to go back to find the STRETCHed T R U T H.

Also didn't recheck my puzzling spelling of TEaERIFE, having taken STa as a given, instead of STN. So, a double dnf, and coming close doesn't count.

Would add some "noteworthies", but don't think I've earned taking up any of Kareem's or anyone else's space today.

leftcoastTAM 3:14 PM  

@rain forest--I must plea carelessness rather than ignorance for not rechecking TENERIFE. That terrible crash on the runway some years back is hard to forget.

William Heyman 3:20 PM  

I'm almost eighty years old, so Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Pola Negri, I have seen. Normally DNF on Saturdays, but I just do it for pleasure (no timing) because six years ago my doc said to do the NYT cross-words to see when I get dementia. So far, so good. I don't mind if there is something I do not know (Hi Ruth!)and the comments are interesting too!

spacecraft 4:43 PM  

Thanks @D-liw. And welcome to the blog, Mr. Heyman! At 77 I am your contemporary, and also subscribe to the "use it or lose it" philosophy. Well...some things you lose anyway--but that (as Irma La Douce's bartender said) is another story. Never saw POLA on screen, but met her in crosswords before. As to AMAHL, for a while there it was standard holiday TV fare, right alongside Rudolph. To see that there are people who don't know that makes me feel really old. Keep posting!

thefogman 5:31 PM  

Remember the good old days when stretching the truth was frowned upon?
Sadly, now it's the new normal.

leftcoastTAM 6:09 PM  

@fogman--I'm not sure about that wasn't the case in the good old days either, but am sure in these days that you're absolutely right.

Anonymous 4:29 AM  

The theme did not seem that unfair. Though some of these answers were on the obscure side. AMAHAL,POLA,etc. Still solved it without hints despite a few errors. The aforementioned POLA,I had as PONA. And RINGS instead of RANTS. Like the other fellow I put STA instead of STN. And last HOJO. Never heard of MAOTAI. A Saturday without hints,despite a few errors, is not a bad way to end the puzzle solving week.


Bananafish 8:44 PM  

I did not mind the theme, but wow, there was a lot of dreck in this one. I am stunned I had no letters wrong. LOUCHE, RCPT, AAA, POLA/AMAHL, EMTS, CREEL, AAHED, MAOTAI. And the cluing was not much better. Even something as innocuous as PASSRUSH is just full of wrong - that is not a defensive football "tactic" ... a QB goes back to pass, and defenders try to tackle him before he can pass the ball ... that is not a tactic. A tactic might be a LINEBACKERBLITZ, or a PREVENTDEFENSE, or even a STUNT. Not PASSRUSH.

Michael Leddy 3:20 PM  

I was surprised to see AHMAD, but not because of alleged obscurity — any international foods store in the States is likely to have it. But it’s difficult (for me anyway) to think of it as an alternative to Twinings, which is likely found in any old supermarket.

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