Trigger to cylinder connection / SAT 1-27-18 / Title girl in 1961 Ricky Nelson hit / Pulpy refuse / Coconuts to maroon on island maybe

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: POMACE (20D: Pulpy refuse) —
  1. (especially in cider making) the pulpy residue remaining after fruit has been crushed in order to extract its juice. (google)
• • •

Wow, this was a lovely, brisk, bracing way to wake up. Usually if I'm up and solving before 6am, my solving brain is not fully warmed up and I stumble and slog through the grid in a most ungainly fashion, but I guess I gave myself a big enough pause between waking and solving—let the dog out, pet the dog, talked to the dog, made tea, read some stupid stuff online—that by the time I dug into the puzzle, I was on full alert. I usually don't try to *speed* on Fri and Sat because there are too many potholes and bad things happen and anyway it stresses me out a bit. But today I was like, "just try to pick up the pace a little." I mean, my walking speed is still pretty fast, but I wanted to try to Move a little today. And this puzzle was amenable to the experiment. Mark Diehl's stuff is usually pretty damn thorny (for me), but this one went down pretty easily. Not too easily—there were still some moments where I had to work for it—but much easier than most Diehls. More importantly, it was a delightful grid, with only a handful of clunkers and a ton of interesting fill, plus good clues. It was the kind of puzzle that was very satisfying to solve: clean, bright, and entertaining, sufficiently difficult but ultimately defeatable. A light, satisfying workout. Thumbs up.

How to start a themeless: for me, I attack the short answers, usually in the NW corner—good to start where you might get the *front* end of both Across and Down answers. Letters at the front of answers tend to be more revealing of the whole answer than letters toward the back (except when you luck into a terminal "V," say, which would sharply narrow all possibilities for the cross). Today, I threw down quickly the following: DINGER, MAC, DENT, CROW. Then I looked at the Acrosses. And despite two of those initial answers being dead wrong, the correct "D" and "C" tipped me to MID-MARCH (1A: When St. Patrick's Day is celebrated). I had looked at that clue with no letters in place and gotten nothing, which is how I know the "D" and the "C" were the key. I could somehow see the pattern through the gunk of the wrong answers. And I took off from there.

I resisted the BLOOD of BLOOD-BORNE because it seemed a little ... like it wouldn't pass the breakfast test (34A: Like the hepatitis B and C pathogens). NYT tends to avoid both bodily fluids and diseases, and this clue/answer has both. But I guess now that I've had to deal with VOMIT in a puzzle, anything goes. Anyway, BLOOD-BORNE is a perfectly fine answer that I can't imagine anyone's objecting to (unlike VOMIT). Two other answers were briefly perplexing, in different ways. I could *not* figure out what the castaway was doing with the damn coconuts (23D: Coconuts, to a maroon on an island, maybe). I kept thinking of how in movies people spell out "SOS" or some other message. I also misremembered Wilson (from "Castaway") as a coconut and so ... if your coconut could be your island companion, maybe it could also be your STEADY DATE?? Seemed kind of a dark, cruel place to go, but again I refer you to yesterday's VOMIT. And I won't be the only one, not by a long shot, to go with TEAM SPORTS instead of TEAM EVENTS at 55A: Curling and rugby, but not boxing, in the Olympics. Throw in URN for TUN (31A: Wine container) and TABU for TREF (46D: Forbidden, in a way) and that pretty much covers my mistakes. Finished with the first "A" in JANEANE, whose name I know well, though JENEANE also looks right (36D: Witty Garofalo). PAWL is not a word I know well at *all* (40A: Trigger-to-cylinder connection), but I at least knew it wasn't PEWL, so, success.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


k 6:38 AM  

Framboise/Scorn had me going for a second

Lewis 6:42 AM  

At times it felt like I was hacking my way through a thick jungle, and at others, it was like running free on a wide beach, soaring with answers. Two words nowhere in my wheelhouse: POMACE and JANEANE. Six words I had no idea I knew, but with one or two letters filled in popped right up (HEME, ZYNGA, TUN, MOZART as clued, PAWL, LIGATED).

TEMPEH got me rolling, as it is part of my STEADY DIET. To many, tempeh is gross, but to me it's delectable. As was this never-ever-boring puzzle. Thank you for this gem, Dr. Diehl!

Two Ponies 6:55 AM  

Easy for Rex but medium for me. At least I didn't have to pause, walk the dog, then come back to finish. Good fit for a Saturday.
Rex in the morning is very different from Rex at night.

Heme and blood-borne is a nice pairing.

Now I know where Isfahan and Thimphu are and the mixer for a Caesar.

Is Tet the only foreign holiday? You'd think so.

Open minded youngsters? Try to feed them broccoli.

Anonymous 6:58 AM  

Can you stop, already, complaining that vomit is a word in the English language, you pantywaist?

BarbieBarbie 7:13 AM  

Wow, FMSTEREO as a way to improve sound quality skews just a mite old.

What’s a TREF?

On the easy side of medium for me, and would have been easier if I hadn’t bunged in INSPRING for 1A. Took awhile to recover from that.

BillChas 7:16 AM  

Maybe it’s me, but I wasn’t a fan of LIGATED. 44 Across could’ve been changed to “Old English character” yielding ETH and LIGHTED. Then again, which is more banal and forced: ETH or ETA?

The Hermit Philosopher 7:27 AM  

Has OFL had a personality transplant?? A “thumbs up” from him plus no whining (other than VOMIT) for a couple of days?!

Sherman 7:38 AM  

TREF is a Yiddish word which means non-kosher.

QuasiMojo 7:45 AM  

Well, it's been a surprisingly decent week of NYT puzzles. No complaints here about today's. I also had TABU before TREF, thinking the "in a way" meant variation in spelling. I guess it pays to do other crosswords since either the LAT or WSJ had Madame Curie as the answer to a clue about two-time Nobelists. So that got me off to a rip-roaring start.

So much I did not know today but it never really held me up. ZYNGA? JANEANE? (I take your word Mark that she is in fact "witty.") Wanted SUTURED before LIGATED.

Someday I hope to understand the differences between the umlaut, diaeresis and trema.

My AAH moment was when I got STEADY DIET. I was guessing perhaps the coconuts were used to make a brassiere (think of Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian... alien vs. earthling?) in SOUTH PACIFIC.)

Glimmerglass 7:46 AM  

Good review, @Rex. It’s the difference between explaining your problems during the solve — and whin8ng about them. Your readers get similar information but with a different tone. I’m confident many of your readers like the whining, but not I. I found today’s write up as breezy and interesting as the puzzle itself.

Space Is Deep 7:49 AM  

I now have a desire for some Thimphu chicken at our local Indian restaurant. Medium puzzle for me, got hung up for a bit in the heartland of the puzzle.

BarbieBarbie 7:50 AM  

Thanks, @Sherman. TIL the word TREF and also that “maroon” can be a noun.

Alfred Kinsey 7:57 AM  

One day the puzzle might even have SEMEN or GONAD, or, God forbid, VAGINA, as an answer. All excellent crossword words. Pity the little children. Sacre bleu!

TomAz 7:59 AM  

What a mixed bag. Some cool stuff and then some wtf? stuff.

Complaints first: the clue to THINK YOUNG. ugh. Is this a thing, like a phrase that is used? (By other than smug young people, I mean?) Unless there's a joke here I'm not getting, this is just wrong. Googling makes it worse: "Positive Thinking Quotes for Staying Young & Beautiful - Free Postcards". Makes me stabby.

FM STEREO is "improved" sound quality? What is this, 1973?

CONG? c'mon. (but the puzzle is really low on glue, so I guess I should forgive this).

I didn't know PAWL and I'd forgotten POMACE, but those are real words well-clued so that's on me.

But big hoorays for: MARIE CURIE, ERRATA PAGE, ZYNGA, STEADY DIET, EARTHLINGS, DINGER, ANJOU, LIGATED. That's a whole ton of really cool stuff right there.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Nice puzzle, more people working real jobs, companies handing out hefty bonuses, stock markets and consumer confidence at record highs . . . life is good.

Carolynne 8:09 AM  

So many wrong answers but I solved it eventually.

FLAKES for BLOKES (the wrong kind of chaps)
Also spelled JANEANE and MARYLOU wrong (Jeneane and Marilou look more correct, yes?)

I’m Canadian, so loved the Shania and curling references. Woohoo.

Ed C 8:18 AM  

Bloodborne Clamjuice is going to be the name of my new band.

Seth 8:25 AM  

Favorite wrong answer: SUSTENANCE for STEADY DIET. Anyone else give that a try?

Conrad 8:34 AM  

@Seth -- I did. I had the "S" and confidently wrote in Sustenance, patting myself on the back the whole time. I eventually got that corrected, but I DNF'd where Ricky Nelson crossed the game company. MARiLOU/ZiNGA looked fine to me.

NonName 8:46 AM  

This? This is what makes you happy? Zynga, pawl, heme, tun, Megan Boone, FMStereo, Caesar cocktail? I've never heard a home run called a dinger.

Rust is a feature?

Car commercial, "The brand new 2018 Tesla Model 3 features rust for the lived-in look."

Don't even get me started on Team Event. Team Sport, Ok. But in what context would the term team event be used?

Teedmn 9:00 AM  

I got my first entry today at 12D thanks to the many vegetarian cookbooks I have perused. I've never actually seen TEMPEH in the wild, so I have no idea what it looks or tastes like but it saved my bacon today.

This puzzle had a little ZYNGA - maybe 10 minutes below my Saturday average, time-wise so not too hard, but some nice clues and some things to learn. UMLAUTS for Mötley Crüe highpoints, HUGGED for "kept close to one's chest". RUST on a jalopy because "rumble seat" and "running boards" didn't fit. I've never heard a home run referred to as a DINGER, I didn't know what countries residents of Thimphu or Isfahan called home. I had a good time trying out TEAM sports, TEAM Effort, but finally remembering how to spell JANEANE Garofalo's first name gave that answer to me, in any EVENT. Also @Rex's Tabu and Bela before BRAM.

Nice Saturday Effort, thanks Mark Diehl.

John Child 9:03 AM  

If you knew JANEANE and MEGAN you were OK, but both corners have multiple Natick possibilities. Dead fail on BHUTANI though. It’s not a thing. Bhutanese is the correct word for the people and the nationality, and is 25x more often seen by Dr. Google, who indexes errors with everything else.

But the 5 x 10-letter staggered stack in the middle is pretty good and perhaps worth the “oof” of Bhutani. Fun, easy puzzle overall. I would have run this as Friday and verse-visa; YMMV.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Let the good times roll.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:17 AM  

I could have sworn that the birds in The Birds were Starlings.

Birchbark 9:18 AM  

FM STEREO "improved" fidelity over AM as early as 1933, but according to the venerable Wikipedia, "it was not until 1978 that listenership to FM stations exceeded that of AM stations in North America. During the 1980s and 1990s, Top 40 music stations and later even country music stations largely abandoned AM for FM."

ERGO, DNF because even though hdSTEREO had to be wrong, I was trying to THINK YOUNG and figure out what the latest a two-letter abbreviation for UltraHD STEREO or satellite stereo or the some such thing might be. Long way of saying I agree with @BarbieBarbie and @TomAz.

So put that in your ERRATA PAGE and smoke it.

kitshef 9:22 AM  

I’d like to think the inclusion of BHUTANI today is a direct result of my comment yesterday about Jigme Singye Wangchuck. (Although as @John Child notes, BHUTANese is better).

Really wanted CrAbJUICE for 33A.

Stunningly good themeless, but should have run on a Friday.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Never got past "xd stereo". Dnf. Never heard of tref.
Oh well.
Figured it had to be "bram", but xmstereo (Sirius) didn't solve it either.
"Tref"... okay.
Think I'll go turn on my zenith fm radio...

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

BHUTANI? No. Just, no. I enjoyed the puzzle otherwise. It was very easy. 5 seconds from a PR for me.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

@NonName You are a fucking moron.

kitshef 9:29 AM  

@Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice - my first thought was gull, which was the first bird to attack. There were other types of birds, too - mostly I remember the gulls, sparrows and CROWs.

CashPo' 9:40 AM  

Anyone else think of "Anchovies" before Clam Juice for the Caesar cocktail? Either one is an EEK moment.

Jack M. 9:40 AM  

If you're going to call someone a $#@((/ moron, at least identify yourself, you anonymous Ahole.

Z 9:41 AM  

Haram I know. TREF not so much. I’d have gone with T-Rex and “Sirius feature” personally.

My first thought was MID MARCH, quickly confirmed by DINGER, RUST, and CROW, so I thought this was going to be early week easy. The stack in the middle brought me back down to EARTHLINGS status. My only in was BLOOD BORNE which was contradicted by “he-man.” TEMPEH and then UMLAUTS allowed me to whack my way into the stacks from the backside, getting MOUTH, PLANTS, JUICE, and finally my initial discarded toe-hold BLOOD BORNE. Once RAMBO went in the puzzle finally fell.

MARYLOU/ZYNGA is definitely a natick. MARiLOU is plenty plausible and software company names are as randomly spelt as rappers and brand name drugs. JANEANE/PAWL is only slightly better. I have to wonder if teenage JANEANE ever went to Ma and Pa Garofalo and said “Really? You couldn’t pick a semi-normal name that teachers could spell?” At least PAWL is a thing and not some randomly spelled metal band. Still, do more that a quarter of solvers know what a PAWL is? I doubt it, so natickville it is. Otherwise, no complaints and a fun solve.

RJ 9:47 AM  

This was relatively easy for me because tempeh, pawl (I know this from instrumentation I run), Janeane, Megan, and a bunch of others that just fell into place.

I have a couple of complaints like other, but my biggest one is the cluing for "think young". Does this constructor know any young people? I have young friends who are extremely thoughtful and open minded - but I also know others who are rigid and frankly, scary. There's a big difference between having an open mind and not having a clue.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

All fake news.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Not a bad puzzle, but pretty much trivia in a box

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

...right over a nation of laws, climate change, science, dreamers, decency, reason, truth...ahh what the hell, roll on indeed...

JJ_Rural_MO 9:57 AM  

@conrad, @seth - I too threw down Sustenance just off the S, and long resisted changing it and so losing my smug satisfaction. I learned some words today - TEMPEH, TREF. Re-remembered PAWL and POMACE.
Nice Saturday puzzle.

GILL I. 10:07 AM  

MARYLOU first in, CROW second in; the M&C gave me MIDMARCH and I was swinging hard for a DINGER - and I almost made it until I left the MO-ART/ _YNGA blank. I opted for MOM ART thinking why not.
So ANJOU is a fruit? I thought it was the name of a pear.
I kinda knew that Caesar was like a Bloody Mary. Celery didn't fit but grenadine did but nobody puts that in a Bloody Mary. The ANJOU gave me JUICE and so CLAM it was. I love steamed CLAMs but the JUICE is bit like TEMPEH. Meh.
SHANIA as clued was nice. My one and only Google today was JANEANE and for that fact, I was happy as a CLAM because it's rare for me to only have one on a Saturday.
Laughed at your STEADY DATE, @Rex. I'm in the sustenance bracket but the happy CLAM in the middle did me a favor.
My biggest HUH was 8D. I think of Palm as stealing. HIDE was it and now I know it means to hide something in the palm of your hand like an ACE or something. I'd get caught.
nice work-out Mark Diehl. I always enjoy your crosswords and I'm glad @Rex does too!

puzzlehoarder 10:07 AM  

Well hello MARILOU goodbye clean grid. That was my only mistake on very enjoyable puzzle. It's probably never spelled that way but if I ever get a pet caribou that's what naming it.

ZINGA's not bad for having only seen ZYNGA once in a puzzle over six years ago. Obviously I have no interest in video games.

The R of TREF was the last letter to go in. I knew I knew it but that one consonant was elusive. ERRATA settled it but that's why you need crosses. Looking at TREF's xwordinfo list after solving (almost) I was amazed at how common it is. Either I've missed a lot of puzzles or it should by now be a slam dunk.

Another high quality entertaining puzzle from my favorite constructor.

Mohair Sam 10:27 AM  

Jesus, in the battle to eat less meat I've finally gotten myself acclimated to the hideous tofu and now they come up with something called TEMPEH? God help me.

Clean as a puzzle gets and delightful cluing. But we made this one challenging by throwing in the gimmes MIDMARCH, MARYLOU, DINGER, TUN, and CROW. That led to ALIENS which gave us the gimme SUSTENANCE (hi @Conrad) which we held on to for dear life. Man did that toughen the middle of the puzz. Finally started working the corners which were also tough for us, TEMPEH, HEME, PAWL, POMACE, and TREF all new to us - and how to spell JANEANE (she spells it wrong of course) and UMLAUTS. Finally Her Ladyship said that it had to be TRASHMOUTH and we let sustenance go, and finished the puzzle.

Good thing they put "maybe" on the THINKYOUNG clue. When I was about 18 I had the most closed mind on earth. It was comforting to know everything.

Fine puzzle Mr. Diehl, we had a ball with it.

'mericans in Paris 10:29 AM  

Played medium for us, but DNF, because we got stuck in the NW. Thought of TUN, but I had only ever heard of that as a container of beer. Had I tried that (after the Mrs.' urN and my inN), I think we would have gotten the rest. Would have probably revealed the Z in MOZART, and made us think of MARY LOU. Meanwhile, I kept trying to work it towards toNkA where ZYNGA (never heard of the company) fits.

Interesting that several people entered "Sustance". We had "STapleDIET".

Would disagree with the definition for TWERP, though. When I was growing up (in a suburb of Miami), the standard definition for a TWERP was "Somebody who wanders down the beach squeezing farts out of dead seagulls."

As for BHUTANI, my younger brother and wife's first Big Adventure (in September 2014) was to travel to BHUTAN at the urging of a younger friend. Most of the trip involved a trek through mountains, where among the dangers were stampeding ponies that, if they came down from the other direction on a narrow track gave you the choice of being either trampled to death or thrown off the mountain. Another threat was big, horny yaks sniffing around their campsite. Fortunately, my sibling and sister-in-law survived.

A good puzzle, with some original answers. Such a Diehl!

P.S., We're on the Sunday puzzle on paper. No where near as pleasant a solve as Saturday's.

'mericans in Paris 10:35 AM  

P.S.: Thought of TRumpMOUTH before TRASHMOUTH.

pabloinnh 10:41 AM  

Well a four letter "first name in horror" is obviously BELA, which kept me from even getting "team" something, which had to be "sports", which, like "Bela", it wasn't. Sometimes I think these constructors are doing this stuff on purpose.

Unknown 10:42 AM  

In “Castaway”, Wilson was not a coconut. He was a Wilson basketball that washed ashore.

FrankStein 10:43 AM  

Bhutani seems to apply to a tribe in Pakistan not the country, so it does seem incorrect.

mathgent 10:48 AM  

Got stuck in the middle and SE. Handed it over to The Closer. When she lost interest and started watching Hawaii 5-0, I took it back. She had entered TRASH to make TRASHMOUTH which I immediately crossed out. I took a flyer on BHUTANI, which worked out and I was able to finish. The Closer gracously accepted my apology.

Another excellent work by Mark Diehl. Sparkly with some tricky hurdles to vault.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

I really enjoyed this one - it was difficult enough and had plenty of fresh fill. For me it was difficult, took me 14 min (I usually hover around 7-10) on a Saturday. I'd rather have a tough fill than breeze through it (which seems to be the trend lately on Fri and Sat). Anyway, all of you who found the puzzle easy, hats off to you!

Stanley Hudson 10:55 AM  

A challenging but enjoyable Saturday solve.

TREF? Oy vey, clearly I need to brush up on my Yiddish.

ColoradoCog 10:57 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot. It leaned more toward the “medium” side than “easy” for me, though.

I’m not one for calling names, “moron” or otherwise, but before declaring something to be not-a-thing I think some basic Googling is in order. I don’t need Google to tell me a home run is a “dinger”, I hear that all the time. But go ahead. Try it. Go to Google now and search for “dinger” and then come back and tell us that it’s not-a-thing.

And when you Google “team event” (Google tip: use the quotes in the search to find examples the exact phrase in use) you get, among other things, an article from (seems authoritative to me...) “WINTER OLYMPICS SET FOR NEW ALPINE SKIING TEAM EVENT”.

And since the clue for RUST referenced a jalopy, not a Tesla, and since feature means attribute or aspect in general, not necessarily a desirable attribute, the clue was perfectly fine. Again, if you need help understanding the terms “jalopy” or “feature”, Google is your friend.

So, @NonName, how about next time we do a little research. Not-a-thing to you does not always mean not-a-thing.

*And I’m perfectly happy to admit I routinely declare “Not a thing!” and then go to Google, only to discover that I am wrong. It has saved me from looking like a effin’ moron here more than once.

*And technically speaking I don’t Google. I Duck Duck Go.

Barry Frain 11:00 AM  

Wilson was a volleyball, not a basketball.

“Jack M.” is identifying yourself? More like “Jackass.”

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Ando 11:01 AM  

Missed it at the end only because I don't know what TREF is so had TREA -- AMSTEREO being an actual thing which did improve sound (but now mostly abandoned). I overthought that one a bit.

Shooty 11:11 AM  

I PeWL’ed the trigger.

Hungry Mother 11:20 AM  

Seemed impossible before I took my morning run. While I was icing my knees afterward, I got a foothold in the NW and slogged it out from there. More stubborness than braininess again.

Banana Diaquiri 11:20 AM  

since living requires water more than food, that coconut answer *had* to include some form of 'water'. alas, it din't.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Anon@9:28,9:49 and 9:55 assuming that you're either the same angry dickhead or a collective of shtwits, today's Shtwitty is your's or yours'. Congratulations.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

I'm pretty good with Yiddish, but hadn't heard of "tref." I thought the cross was "HD stereo."

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Me, too!

jberg 11:41 AM  

Well, BHUTANI may be wrong, but I was so happy to see IRANIAN rather than the incorrect IRANI, that I'll give it a pass. On the other hand, I hated MID-MARCH -- just seemed too vague for a holiday that falls on a specific date. Apparently I am in alone in not liking this, however, so I'll give that a pass as well.

I was fortunate in having crosses in place that kept me from TEAM sporTS and MARiLOU (I've never played Farmville, but the company's name was all over the place at one time -- in this century, even). But grenadInE more than made up for that. Obviously, I have no idea what a Caesar cocktail is.

I did know what TRF means, but somehow couldn't remember it until I got here, when it suddenly dawned on me. Fortunately, the crosses were all there.

I'd always heard "BEER belly," but Duck Duck Go (hi, @ColaradoCog) shows similar results for both.

So the conclusion is, I like this one a lot better after the fact than I did while solving. HEME was the only real stretch, and AHH could have been AaH -- but HEME was deducible from the blood connection. So, good puzzle.

Bob Mills 11:43 AM  

Good puzzle, but "THINKYOUNG" is a bad answer for "Be open minded, maybe." It suggests that older people are narrow-minded. As a 76-year-old, I reject that stereotype. And I'm not going to discuss the matter any further with you.

JC66 11:43 AM  

Never having heard either, Naticked at the HEME/TEMPEH cross (guessed i first).

Alison 11:54 AM  


semioticus (shelbyl) 11:57 AM  

This was my fastest Saturday! I solved the puzzle before I went to bed when I was really tired (I couldn't even find the strength to comment here), so maybe that's the way to approach puzzles from now on. Maybe I'm simply not a morning person, but too bad all the tournaments are held in the morning. Why can't we have a nocturnal society? Is that too much to ask for?

Anyway, enough about me. This puzzle, just like yesterday's, was very good except for a few spots. The triple-ish stacks in the corners are admirable, but the center is simply impressive. Well, except for BEANPLANTS, which took me a while to put my finger on. (Am I remembering EARTHLINGS correctly?) EMEND/HEAVE/ERRATA was another tricky part but it was fun tricky, not "WTF is this word?" tricky, which is appreciated.

The Mark Diehl puzzle in December also had a potentially interesting fill, but junk like ESTAB had pissed me off. Also, the clues were too esoteric for an already challenging puzzle. This one has found a fine balance. "Woe of a bar habitué", "Some high points of Mötley Crüe?", "Coconuts, to a maroon on an island, maybe" and my favorite "Kept close to one's chest?" are all good picks.

Overall, a pleasant fill, good long answers and fun enough, not frustrating clues with some zingers mean a very good Saturday puzzle in my book.

GRADE: A, 4.4 stars.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

@anon 11:23: um, no, you're not.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

@Jack M. 9:40: I assume that was a joke. Or is "Jack M." your legal given name?!

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:04 PM  

Best complaint in the comments award goes to @NonName for this entry:

"Don't even get me started on Team Event. Team Sport, Ok. But in what context would the term team event be used?"

Um, like the clue clearly states, the Olympics? The word event is very frequently used in the Olympics.

Austenlover 12:05 PM  

All you people who never heard the term DINGER must never have seen Bull Durham. Lovely movie about baseball and life and love.

old timer 12:18 PM  

"Rex is going to call this easy" was my first thought on finishing this gem. Not easy for me and I would still be trying to solve it if I had not looked up that capital of Bhutan. I was delighted with THINK YOUNG. It's what old folks have been advised to do ever since we old folks were young folks.

TEMPEH I had clean forgotten about, but I did remember it with help from the crosses. OTOH, HELLO MARY LOU is a song that has been in my head since the day it came out. I know as i solved other parts of the puzzle the answer would come to mind. Aah and AHH were both possible in the NE but i put in HEME because aeme made no sense.

I was looking for "winter sport" before TEAM EVENTS. Fortunately I knew TREF and wanted YAMS. If you grow up as i did in a half-Jewish neighborhood and bonded with the Jewish kids because they had more interesting things to talk about you pick up a fair amount of of Yiddish terms. My friends were not kosher and some did not go to Temple. But I remember one of them saying he just did not *like* bacon. Poor kid! Almost every non-Jew I ever met loves bacon.

Nancy 12:24 PM  

Easy, Rex????? You've got to be kidding. The entire South was an epic struggle for me, though I had to come here to make sure I didn't Natick on the ZYNGA/DINGER cross in the North. (I didn't.) Some big ERRATAs made my solve especially hard: BELA for BRAM at 47D, which caused complications you don't even want to know about. LeGATED before LIGATED at 36D (dumb, yes, I know) and I didn't know BHUTANI and refused to cheat. Didn't know POMACE. And I couldn't make sense of C--M-UI-E at 33A. I had no clue what the drink was, but the letter pattern looked a little like DRAMBUIE and a little like CHAMPAGNE but not enough like either one of them.

And in a million years, I wouldn't have gotten THINK YOUNG (39A) from the clue. For someone of my age, sure. But for a Millennial to keep an open mind, she'd have to THINK OLD, right? So I didn't have the K to give me BLOKES (32D) and I didn't have the L from BLOKES to get me CLAM JUICE. But somehow, stubbornly, I prevailed -- I'm still not sure how. Very crunchy and engrossing puzzle.

Unknown 12:44 PM  

A sport is an event in the context of the Olympics!

Carola 12:51 PM  

Medium for me, fun to solve. Favorites: EARTHLINGS and STEADY DIET. For the latter, I'm glad I never thought of "Sustenance"; I started writing in "Source of..." and quickly saw that wasn't going to work, so left it blank. I went wrong in the same places others did: Bela, TEAM sporTS (changed to TEAM EfforT before EVENTS), and Tabu but may have an original in writing in "potato" where DINGER belongs - happy that I could use one of my "learned from crosswords" terms. Only later did I think of tater.

Nancy 1:11 PM  

Ah, yes, TEMPEH. I wanted sEitan at first (12D), but it's all the same thing. Make- believe meat. Awful. Apologies, @Lewis, but I'm right there with @Mohair's distaste for the stuff, while also thinking @Teedmn should thank her lucky stars that she's never encountered it "in the wild" or anywhere else. I was with my beloved vegetarian niece a number of years ago and she suggested a high-end vegan restaurant near Union Square. I looked at the very limited menu, shuddered at all the ersatz meat dishes, and ordered what seemed like the least terrible option -- some sort of vegan pasta dish. (It was ghastly, but that's another story.) She had either seitan or TEMPEH in the most divine-smelling sauce I've ever smelled. It looked rich and reduced and filled with garlic and wine and other goodies and I was lamenting my own selection. "Would you like a taste?" she asked. I jumped at the chance. She gave me a small piece and the first thing I tasted was the sauce. Delectable. Then, unhappily, I got to the seitan or TEMPEH...

Do you remember the classic movie scene of Chaplin eating his shoe? That was my experience. That *small* piece of fake meat no longer seemed small, It got larger and larger as I chewed and chewed and chewed and chewed. I wanted to spit it out, but I really, really love my niece. So I got it down, I'm not sure how. And I have never gone anywhere near a soy-based fake meat product again. And I never will.

Not a Soy Boy 1:36 PM  

Don't you men worry about the estrogen from soy?

Whatsername 1:46 PM  

I agree the clue for 39A is a tad ageist. It implies - or at least it can be inferred - that being "old" equals not open minded.

EDC @ 08:18 - I love the name of your band, sounds like a sure hit. I will call mine the Trashmouth Beanplants.

Movie Trivia: "Wilson" in Castaway was a volleyball, not a basketball or coconut. There were several different types of birds used in The Birds. In brief research I found ravens, crows and gulls mentioned.

I found myself somewhat challenged today but increased my vocabulary by a few, and that's always a good thing. While I have been doing NYT puzzles for many years, I have always left Saturdays to the experts like the solvers who post on this comment board but just recently started attempting them as a way to improve my abilities. Today was interesting and fun while still a good exercise, so thanks Mr. Diehl.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

Entering STRICTDIET had me struggling for a while, then thought perhaps CHAMPAGNE was Caesar's drink, but worked it all out in due time. Fast solve (for me) for a Saturday. Very satisfying puzzle.

QuasiMojo 1:48 PM  

@Nancy, your experience sounds like the time I ordered a tofu pesto gnocchi dish at some mod health cafe. It tasted like something you’d use to spackle a yurt.

travis 1:50 PM  

I went with HELl for a place with a big wheel. I imagined someone strapped onto it and being tortured; it made perfect sense. TEMPEH was doing nothing for me, and beyond it being a vowel I had no real idea for the last letter of HEME.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood, Men in Tights." Ricard Lewis as Prince John, upon being presented with a wild boar from RH -

Geo 2:01 PM  

Came here to complain about this. The whole point is that *all* birds have turned against mankind. Crows, gulls, starlings, pigeons... The way this clue was worded, I assumed it was about Tippi Hedron.

John Hoffman 2:09 PM  

I never heard of TREF. Instead, i had T-REX. And the cross was XMSTEREO which I figured was a paid radio channel. Oops! An enjoyable puzzle. I love it when the Saturday puzzles aren't too hard. This one was a challenge but I mostly got it done!

Unknown 2:41 PM  

Any other video game people excited to see BLOODBORNE in the grid? No? Just me?

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

This is the first time I've ever gone an entire week without getting NATICKed somewhere along the way. From Sunday to Saturday, I solved everything without having to look up anything on Google. Part of that is luck; this puzzle had its share of stupid trivia (MEGAN Boone, I knew because I saw here on TV earlier this week, and ZYNGA but MARYLOU and JANEANE I had to get from the crosses but they didn't present too much of a problem). Felt like a mostly easy Saturday with a few minor sticking points. I really wanted STapleDIET for STEADYDIET, for example. But overall, one of the better Saturdays I've seen.

Headley LaMarr 2:51 PM  

That’s “Hedren, “ not “Hedron.”

Joe Dipinto 2:53 PM  

This played out almost exactly like yesterday's for me: I started in the SE with Janeane, moved to the SW, then up to the NE and finished in the NW. I was tempted to put in MARY LOU right off the bat but I thought that "Hello, ML" might be older than 1961, so I left that corner for later.

HEME as a shade of red was a new one for me. And I didn't know a marooned person was a "maroon". And what's up with THE bird in "The Birds"?! As other posters noted, various types of birds were seen. The first bird that attacks Tippi Hedren in the boat is a gull.

Joe Bleaux 3:10 PM  

One good thing about being a consistently late poster is that by the time I've read Rex and the comments, most everything I wanted to say has been said, so there's no call to bore everyone with rehashes. (Of course, I could still accomplish that with a rambling personal anecdote that has nothing to do with the puzzle, but I see no shortage right now.) So, thank you, Mark Diehl, for what @Stanley Hudson has finely described as a challenging but enjoyable Saturday puzzle. And thank you, @Bob Mills, for saying civilly what I thought of the offensively ageist 39A clue ("Be open-minded, maybe") and answer THINK YOUNG. Have a good weekend, everyone.

jb129 3:19 PM  

Glad you enjoyed it Rex... but it was not "EASY"

Unknown 3:37 PM  

Felt right, thought I was going to be on a roll today......I need something else to feed my ego I guess.

Michael Corleone 3:47 PM  

Damn my bowels are loose.

msue 3:55 PM  

A bit late in the day to share my idiocy, but for 11D, I had EMLAUTS. Obviously that didn't work. While looking for the error, I made a mental note to remember the word 'emlauts' for future puzzles, assuming that it was some German cousin of 'umlauts'. There may be some people (me) too dumb for puzzling. Argh.

sanfranman59 4:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 4:17 PM  

@RJ 9:47
"There's a big difference between having an open mind and not having a clue."
Finally, the best way to say the difference between Democrats and Republicans.
Democrats-Having an open mind.
Republicans-Not having a clue.

sanfranman59 4:21 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:14 4:08 1.02 60.7% Medium-Challenging
Tue 6:00 5:33 1.08 65.7% Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:34 5:54 1.11 70.0% Medium-Challenging
Thu 24:27 10:16 2.38 100.0% Very Challenging
Fri 11:02 11:37 0.95 44.6% Medium
Sat 20:11 17:21 1.16 76.5% Medium-Challenging

Unlike Rex, PeWL seemed as plausible as PAWL for me, so I submitted an incorrect solution. There was a time when I simply couldn't complete a Mark Diehl Saturday. So I don't feel too badly about having just one error in my initial solve. I had SustenancE for STEADYDATE and that sure didn't help things along at all since only the initial and terminal letters were correct. Like Rex, it was TEAM sporTS before TEAM EVENTS. And I had poP for RAP for 21A: A lot of Top 40 music. Trouble spots other than the aforementioned: MEGAN Boone (good ol' pop culture), HEME (though I had this somewhere up there), POMACE, TEMPEH(?!? ... can't believe this wasn't the Word of the Day)

Now that I have more years behind me than ahead, I wonder why it's open-minded when oldsters THINK YOUNG but not when youngsters think old?

RooMonster 4:37 PM  

Hey All !
I nominate today's comments as the best ever! I was laughing throughout reading them all.


Good puz. Great comments. - That's it. :-)


Larry Gilstrap 4:41 PM  

We've done enough of these to know that personal knowledge base determines level of difficulty. That being said, this was the opposite of easy for me. Lots if erasures from beginning to eventual completion including an all night sleep session. I just threw in too much wrong stuff. HEME crossing TEMPEH created a mess. Sustenance, begat STaple DIET, which became STEADY DIET, and so on...

I often listen to a streaming audio service from KCRW and every hour their ID mentions the phrase HD STEREO, which begs for VlAd and not BRAM; you get the idea.

I once heard a bunch of movie critics discussing "The Birds" and questioning the motivation of the attackers. It is an odd premise. Why did all the birds suddenly wage war? The answer: because Hitchcock wanted them to. We have a guy in town who regales birders with an informative lecture on the differences between a CROW and a raven.

I watched "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" and liked when Ricky became Rick and sang a tune during the epilogue. Remember when bands wore matching outfits? Notice the boys singing about MARY LOU are all sporting matching Pendletons, a perfect light jacket for a cool California day. I have a few and wear them often when weather permits. Certainly not warm enough for MID-MARCH in, let's say, Stamford.

kitshef 4:43 PM  

@Nancy - You may not believe me, but tempeh can be delightful. And it sure as shooting should not be chewy if prepared competently. One thing I find is the more people try to make tofu or tempeh taste/feel like meat, the worse the dish will be. It's not meat, so don't try to make it be meat.

@Geo, my recollection is that the lovebirds for some reason were not affected.

Outside The Box 5:12 PM  

Agree! This was not easy at all. Several words I’ve hear of. OK, I did finish, but to me this was medium-challenging.

Ilana 5:18 PM  

In case not mentioned before, re 13D: Today IS Mozart's birthday...

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

@whatsername 1:46 - Movie trivia trivia. The title of the film is "Cast Away" not "Castaway." Next time you watch the film, you might keep in mind that "Cast Away" is a phrase with two different meanings, "to throw something out" and "to set a vessel free to move on the water." The final scene of the film has a much deeper meaning when the actual title is in the viewer's mind. "Castaway" - a person lost or abandoned at sea - is not what the film is about, even though that takes up the whole middle of it.

pmdm 5:29 PM  

As you get toward the outer limits of where you can pull in an FM station signal, you can often improve the sound quality by switching from STEREO to MONO. At least that used to be my experience when driving between NYC and Chicago. The 57A clue thus makes me cry foul.

As one might guess from the time I posted think comment, I was not one of those who found the puzzle easy.

Maggie 5:29 PM  

I had Staple Food pretty early on, which ruined me for a bit.

jae 5:35 PM  

Top half easy, south side a bit tougher. Like others Bela didn't help.

...and what @Z said about Naticks.

A fine Sat., liked it a bunch.

DavidL 5:49 PM  

I'm shocked there aren't more complaints about TREF. I mean, I'm a member of the tribe and happen to know the word, but when I realized that's what it was going to be, I was shocked. It's not one of those Yiddish words that has crossed into the vernacular like "schlep." A previous post indicated that it has been commonly seen in puzzles before, but I have personally never seen it.

Anyway, my worst mistake was for the "Slice" clue, for which I tried "golf stroke." (Totally stupid, but because 80% of my golf strokes result in a slice it just made perfect sense to me at that instant.) Needless to say, that threw me off for a while. But got it back together eventually.

Nice puzzle, thanks Mark Diehl.

Joy2u 5:54 PM  

I'm only up to 9:30am or so in my reading, but if I don't ask now, nobody will still be around:
Am I the only one who, after yesterday's VOMIT, first tried, pottyMOUTH?

Linda 5:56 PM  

@Nancy – Seitan is wheat gluten. And I’m guessing that’s what you had, because I believe it can be chewy. Tempeh is a cultured soy product. I grew to like it on its own, but it's definitely an acquired taste. Crumpled up, it's got a texture like ground beef, so it's a great meat substitute in, say, chili. I suspect that if the divine sauce you had had been covering tempeh, you'd have liked it a lot better.

Linda 5:59 PM  

@Joy2u - Yup, I tried pottymouth first.

Nancy 6:15 PM  

@Linda 5:56 -- That's really helpful info, and I thank you. You, too, @kitshef. And you, too, @Quasi for reinforcing (in such a funny and colorful sentence) my impression that vegan pasta is also to be avoided like the plague. Thanks to the three of you, I now know what to order if I'm ever dragged kicking and screaming into another vegan restaurant. It will be the TEMPEH, surprise, surprise, as the least awful option. And, per Linda's suggestion, I'll have it in a chili dish, should that preparation be available.

Still, I hope never to be dragged kicking and screaming into another vegan restaurant!

Joe Dipinto 6:17 PM  

@DavidL -- I'm not Jewish but I've known what "tref" means for years. That was a virtual no-brainer once I had the T. (Then again, I'm a New Yorker. It's probably more obscure elsewhere.)

I also thought "slice" was going to be a golf answer, but I got the "a" at the end in there first, which is when golf started to seem highly unlikely.

Harryp 6:33 PM  

Yesterday the southwest defeated me, today the northeast. I will certainly remember HEME. Good puzzle, and will try to do better.

Aketi 6:47 PM  

@Quasi, your comment made my husband laugh even though he likes tofu. I personally would rather eat termites any day than tofu.
@Kitshef, I completely agree about tempeh being fine when they do try to turn it into imitation meat.

I don’t know how coconuts could become a part of a STEADY DIET if you were a maroon without a really good machete. I used to ask my neighbors to hack them apart for me when I was in Peace Corps, along woth chopping of the heads of the live chickens I bout in the market. I did learn how to pluck chickens but I did not have my grandmothers (both of them) skills on wringing chickens’s necks,

Aketi 7:05 PM  

@Two Ponies, the trick to getting toddlers to eat broccoli and other green vegetable# is to eat them while you are nursing because the flavors pass through to the milk. I ate a lot of brocolli and it was and still is my son’s favorite vegetable.

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

Hilarious! Thanks for a much-needed laugh between correcting lab reports!

Mohair Sam 7:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Castaways 7:43 PM  

Liar liar! Pants on fire!

Michael Corleone 7:45 PM  

Damn my bowels are STILL loose but more niggardly so than previously.

OISK 8:59 PM  

I was sure I would find someone throwing a tempeh tantrum - too obvious for any punster to resist! I found this puzzle very difficult in the NE, but solved it. Liked it.

Alby 10:02 PM  

Seems typically New York-centric to me. I had TREx crossing xMSTEREO. Seemed more plausible. (“That’s totally T-Rex, dude!” It could happen.)

lindsay 10:03 PM  

Did I miss something, or am I the only one who has a problem with ANJOU? Sheesh. Not only is it not a fruit (the fruit is a pear), but it's 'd'Anjou'. I thought I could name EVERY green fruit, but flunked at the one in Mr. Diehl's bowl.

And not easy for me either, since I'm not in your (Royal You) league at all, but I was thrilled to get the vast majority of it within my pathetic (s-l-o-w) time.

Keep up the good work!

Alby 10:09 PM  

Sounds like the worst kind of STD.

Courtney Luv 11:46 PM  

I’m so sick of my genital warts.

Kimberly 1:21 AM  

Sounds like Rex had a lovely morning and a lovely solve and that adds a little more joy to my day, too.

It was a little easier for a Saturday for me than usual. I’d like to think I’m getting better, but next week will probably humble me again!

Maruchka 10:13 AM  

@Gill - I'm two days late and a dollar short - damn flu! But JANEANE has some very witty stuff in her dossier. I've been trying to find a reputable DVD of 'Dogma'. Great cast, and an ultimately sweet fable.

spacecraft 10:52 AM  

I seem to have done this one in less than half a morning, so it does skew easy timewise, but it didn't feel that way while solving. Lots of WOEs, but the crosses were at least inferable: TEMPEH, POMACE, ZYNGA (struggled with 1-down thinking maybe something like "MOd ART?" before WAM hit. Gee, then we coulda had dYNGA crossing DINGER!) and finally, a non-word according to my Scrabble dictionary: ANJOU. Since OFL failed even to mention these, I assume he's familiar with them; an impressively WIDE vocabulary.

Hand up for sporTS instead of EVENTS. For once, gimme MARYLOU led to MIDMARCH--what else could it be?--and the NW was the first to go. Maybe OFL has something there: as 1-across goes, so goes the solve. Fierce competition for today's Damsel tiara: we have MARYLOU Retton, a "10" in more ways than one, plus songbirds Sheryl CROW and SHANIA Twain. And let's not forget MARIECURIE or JANEANE! SHANIA wins by a...nevermind. The clue for 39-across is problematic; I've seen some YOUNG minds that were anything but open. No matter; this one is clearly a birdie.

Burma Shave 12:58 PM  




Burma Shave 12:59 PM  




BS2 1:08 PM  

I am brain dead




Steven J. Wangsness 2:05 PM  

I must be developing early onset Alzheimer’s because I couldn’t finish half of this which everyone else found so easy.

centralscrewtinizer 2:24 PM  

This was a good Diehl harder than easy for me. DNF with dOB instead of JOB as Daneane looked like a name and never thought of JOB, which is of course more likely than date of birth on Linkedin.
Lucked out on ZYNGA x DINGER as I never heard of either.
Pretty good experience much as @Lewis described.

Diana, LIW 2:27 PM  

Well fear not - I didn't find it so eas.

But...2 days in a row I wanted to cheat. So badly.

2 days in a row I did not cheat.

2 days in a row I finished anyway.

Yea me.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 2:29 PM  

Well...apparently not without errors...

Lady Di

rondo 3:20 PM  

Like yesterday, no write-overs, but took a bit longer with staring and guessing in places like ZYNGA and PAWL; their crosses MEGAN and JANEANE have so many possibilities these days with all the doodling done with first names.

I am more open-minded than most YOUNG folks I know, so change that clue to THINKYOUNG and get off my lawn!

A combo of ORANGESODA, YAMS, TEMPEH, CLAMJUICE, and ANJOU pears would make me HEAVE.

Thank you yeah baby SHANIA Twain for adding a little glamor and sizzle to your genre.

I wouldn't TRASHMOUTH this puz.

rainforest 3:28 PM  

I wouldn't say this was easy, but I managed to finish with nary a write-over, starting with gimmes MARY LOU, MARIE CURIE, DINGER AND MOZART, which gave up MIDMARCH. So the NW was more or less easy. The rest was somewhat more difficult.

In Canada, we serve bloody Caesars, usually just called "Caesars,a concoction using Clamato juice, which I don't think is found in the US. Great summer drink.

Never heard of ZYNGA or TEMPEH, and not a fan of tofu, although it is a useful ingredient in a stir fry. Adds body, but no flavour.

Isn't the double dots above a letter just called an UMLAUT?

Considered, but didn't write in pottyMOUTH and TEAMsporTS. Finally, SHANIA Twain is for sure the DOD/yeah baby. From Timmins, where my girlfriend was born. Sacred town.

leftcoastTAM 4:00 PM  

IMO, solving one of these Saturday puzzles can be helped a lot from electronic aids.

I don't begrudge electronic solvers their finishes, but as a paper-and-pen solver feel somewhat at a disadvantage. (Yes, I know, could go electronic, but prefer solving without help.)

And will pay the price, which wasn't really high today, but had a DNF mostly OWING TO difficulties in the NE instead of an unusually easy NW.

Brenda 7:09 PM  

Sustenance held me up as well!

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

Solved the NW and SE mostly but hung up on a lot of the remainder. But getting closer to a Saturday finish, just not this time. For what it's worth agree with Michael that it was a clean one.

strayling 7:58 PM  


Same here about solving without electronic assistance. It isn't quick, but that isn't important to me. Admittedly, the newspaper does sometimes end up a messy palimpsest by the time I'm finished.

Hand up for MARiLOU/ZiNGA natick.

leftcoastTAM 8:25 PM  

@rondo -- a vomit-worthy combo, cleverly concocted.

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