Parsons of old Hollywood gossip / SAT 3-17-17 / Rotating part of tape recorder / Official on Segway / Epitome of completeness / Belbenoit noted escapee from Devil's Island

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Constructor: Roland Huget

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "LE CID" (46A: Massenet opera) —
Le Cid is an opera in four acts and ten tableaux by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Louis GalletÉdouard Blauand Adolphe d'Ennery. It is based on the play of the same name by Pierre Corneille.
It was first performed by a star-studded cast at the Paris Opéra on 30 November 1885 in the presence of President Grévy, with Jean de Reszke as Rodrigue. The staging was directed by Pedro Gailhard, with costumes designed by Comte Lepic, and sets by Eugène Carpezat (Act I), Enrico Robecchi and his student Amable (Act II), Auguste-Alfred Rubé, Philippe Chaperon and their student Marcel Jambon (Act III), and Jean-Baptiste Lavastre (Act IV). The opera had been seen 150 times by 1919 but faded from the repertory and was not performed again in Paris until the 2015 revival at the Palais Garnier. While El Cid is not in the standard operatic repertory, the ballet suite is a popular concert and recording piece which includes dances from different regions of Spain. It was specially created by Massenet for the prima ballerina Rosita Mauri. (wikipedia)
• • •
Well that was oddly easy. Tons of white space—the part in the middle looked particularly daunting—but those 15s were easy to get from just a few letters, and gave you (I hope) a foothold in every corner of the grid. Those highly secluded corners (really hate that in a grid design) can be terrifying, but again, the 15s always gave you something to work with. The problem with a grid like this is that, beyond the 15s, nothing was very interesting about it, and a few of those answers, esp. the technical ones (SHEERED?) were kind of unpleasant. It's a pretty clean grid overall. Acceptable, solid stuff. But after the 15s, which were fun, the rest just felt like work, though admittedly the work was pretty light.

Got started in a semi-weird way, I think. Took one look at 1A: Official on a Segway, maybe, and, after ruling out some intensely dumb indoor sports thing (POLO REF?), I thought "Oh, it's some kind of COP. Put in COP, bam, Down goes CLEO, OED *and* PRIORENGAGEMENT (!!).

[so weird, I stopped to take a picture]

Then "What kind of COPs are there ...? MALL!" And sis boom bah the NW corner is done and I'm zooming across the grid with the next 15! (Do not come at me with '90s-era k.d. lang, crossword!)

LOL that I'd remember the name of the captain in "Billy Budd" (VERE), but the crosses were fair, so whatever. I slowed a teeny bit in the center, largely because of DIETETICS, a word I almost never see and definitely could not parse. Had _I_TETI_S and was baffled at how a "science" (21D: Nutrition science) could end with "-I_S." It was only when I realized the first part had to be DIET that DIETETICS (which sounds too much like DIANETICS for me to take seriously) became clear. The reason I had those particular gaps in DIETETICS? I thought the "honor" in 20A: It's an honor (ODE) was an OBE (this is your brain on crosswords); I didn't know if the thing about changing course "at sea" was SHEARED or SHEERED; and I was not parsing "LE CID" at all—thought "LE-ID" was one word (one usually encounters "LE CID" in his infinitely more common Spanish form). But again, done fairly quickly, and 15s again gave me the escalator / elevator help I needed to ascend / descend into the remaining parts of the grid.

It was only the technical stuff that stalled me in any way. CAPSTAN, not a familiar thing to me (8A: Rotating part of a tape recorder). TUMBLER ... I know it *is* a part of a lock, but I honestly couldn't tell you *which* part ("a pivoted piece in a lock that holds the bolt until lifted by a key." ... OK). My favorite part of the solve was getting KNESSET off just the "K" (nice clue) (40D: Mideast diet). Only had a few moments hesitation at the dumb "letteral" clue of the day (where the clue literally points (via a jokey "?" clue) to a letter of the alphabet): 59A: Depot's terminus (SILENT T). Those corners could've been brutal, even with assistance from the 15s, but they just rolled over. I'm not disappointed, exactly. It was all just a bit anti-climactic. 15s good, rest meh. But solid and clean, so that's something.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 5:56 AM  

For a Saturday, it was pretty easy... had almost no roadblocks rubbing through this one. Did like DIETETICS and then "diet" showing up for KNESSET.

Unknown 5:56 AM  

make that "running" through.

Harryp 6:06 AM  

This was the best puzzle all all week. Like @Rex said, the long 15's gave a purchase in the right areas, and at 20Across, tried dso, dsc, and obe, before PRIOR ENGAGEMENTS and CAREER CRIMINAL set me on track for ODE. Liked the NYT Clever Crossword Clues, Mideast diet, Court order, and Keeper of logs. Thank you Roland Huget.

BarbieBarbie 6:08 AM  

Very easy, but enjoyable. Liked the clueing for KNESSET because I am easily fooled.

Anybody else notice the Mini grid shape was complementary?

@Z, thanks for the book recommendation. I have Kindle congestion, but I love squeezing more in!

American Liberal Elite 6:12 AM  

I had PRIOR COMMITMENT and REPEAT OFFENDER. It did not go well.

'mericans in Paris 6:19 AM  

Ha! Finally, I get in early, rather than LATER ON.

What a nice, clean, beautiful puzzle! But a weird combination of easy and a struggle for us (well, mainly me).

Strangely, I guessed at (correctly), MALL COP as my first entry, assuming at least the MALL part would eventually change. That didn't but a whole lot else did. I, too, popped in an answer for 7D, but my initial one was PRIOR commitMENT. Got in ALTERNATIVE ROCK with only a few downs, but then made my big mistake at 8D, conidently entering foRmER pRIsoNerS. That answer screwed me up for a long time, as did "captaiN" for 13D.

Mrs. 'mericans had a bit of a SLEEP IN and then, while enjoying her first coffee, helped complete the NW, and a bit of the NE, but then had to run off to do errands.

For 31A, I stared at CONS cAN'T PRA_ _ _ G, and thought. "Oh cool, a song about CONS crossing "foRmER pRIsoNerS". Finally the light dawned and I changed the "c" to a "T".

Ironically, I had entered ADHERES early on, but had erased it because it didn't fit with "pRIsoNerS. Once I convinced myself that the only answer could be ADHERES, I saw PHIL (clever cluing for that), and I was off to the races.

All total: 1.75 hours. My excuse: it's cold and raining here. A good day for indoor LEISURE.

Carolynne 6:30 AM  

I also had PRIOR COMMITMENT but I corrected that once I saw the kd lang clue. Easy Saturday for me. Nice way to start the weekend,

Lewis 6:32 AM  

Gorgeous looking grid, whether blank or filled in. Just gorgeous. I did not know CAPSTAN, CONSTANT CRAVING, and LOUELLA, and had I known just these three words, the puzzle would have bowed quickly (for a Saturday), instead of being as tough as it was for me. I loved the toughness and grinding through it, actually, and the ping of joy at figuring out the clues to ETAILER (Merchant with tiny shopping carts), ODE (It's an honor) and KNESSET (Mideast diet?).

I love EGG crossing NOG and the sweet heartwarming feel of TANGERINE smack dab in the center.

Loren Muse Smith 7:02 AM  

Rex – I loved your write-up this morning. This is your site, so I do my level best to read every word you write before I post my comment. Sometimes it’s negative to the point that I feel uncomfortable and just want to look away. But write-ups like this morning have me going back for a second reading. Is your “letteral clue” a new coinage, or have you used it before? It’s terrific. As are all letteral clues imo.

Until this morning I would have sworn it was "medivac." So I see now. MED EVAC – helicopter… MEDI VAC – liposuction machine. Hah.

@American Liberal Elite - me, too for thinking “repeat offender” first. But I didn’t write it in.

@Michael Petrie – I appreciated the “diet” in KNESSET’S clue and then filling in DIETETICS. It crosses CONSTANT CRAVING. Pringles, Ben and Jerry’s, Rice Krispy Treats, Tater Tots, Tootsie Rolls, Fritos. Those are mine.

Also cool to have ALL RISE right over SLEEP IN. I’m always with the former guys. I always mention my not sleeping to doctors at check-ups, but they never offer meds. And I would feel guilty and drug addicty if I asked for help.

Rex - I keep going back and seeing not LE CID but reparsing it as some adjective, LECID. No, Louella didn’t have a prior engagement; she said she was feeling kinda lecid and decided to stay home and catch up on Vanderpump Rules.

@Lewis – good catch on EGG/NOG. I totally missed that.

Nice job, Roland. As @Lewis said, gorgeous grid.

Starting the ACPT countdown… looking forward to seeing a bunch of you Friday! I’ll be the one with dark circles under my eyes, carrying a can of Pringles.

JOHN X 7:27 AM  

On my first pass through this puzzle I had nothing but blank squares until I got to the bottom third and then suddenly *POOF* the whole grid was filled in. One of my fastest times ever.

I wonder what the Venn diagram looks like for (a) people who know all of k.d. lang's songs and (b) people who know what a capstan is and does.

lacarreno 7:42 AM  

Can somebody explain 51D (Man's nickname in a metropolitan orchestra?), please? I get the Philharmonic part. But "Man's nickname"? Am I missing something?

Gretchen 7:49 AM  

Easy for a Saturday, but fun with those 15s. Worst mistake I made was confidently putting in Thais early on for Massenet opera

Dolgo 8:00 AM  

PHIL short for Phillip? Maybe the sometimes used usage as in "New York Phil" was what threw you.

Dolgo 8:03 AM  

Boy! Kinda screwed that sentence up!

lpkatzen 8:04 AM  

For opera lovers Vere was a gimme...we remember that beautiful aria "Starry, starry Vere" from Benjamin Britten's great Billy Budd.

mathgent 8:04 AM  

Enjoyed it. Felt smart when I got KNESSET. I also liked DOTTEDI.

I went to a Jesuit high school. At the top of all of our papers we would write "A.M.D.G." for "Ad majorem Dei gloriam." For the greater glory of God.

Dolgo 8:05 AM  

Cute design was a bit intimidating at first, but I agree that it was pretty easy for a Saturday.

QuasiMojo 8:08 AM  

Definitely the best crossword of the week. I managed to complete it without having to google anything and for that I feel HONORED. My big mistake was proudly typing in THAIS for the Massenet opera because I thought the ending S would come in handy with the clue coming down. Wrong! So then I tried MANON. No go. Finally LE CID fell in. I actually own a copy of it. LP. Not one of his best works, hélas.

My other stumble was putting in STREET CRIMINALS and then REPEAT CRIMINALS (since SHEETED sounded like something sailors do) before figuring out CAREER.

Wanted ROLFINGS for rough administrations (I'll never forget the time I got rolfed by someone and he reached or shoved his hands under my ribcage. I moaned and groaned and asked WTF are you doing and he said he was massaging my liver. Well, that put an end to that pretty quick.

Speaking of which, PERVS seems a bit too trashy for the NYT (but adds a new twist to the song "Don't Walk Away RENE."

I've never seen a MALL COP but we have police down here on SEGWAYS, not to mention scores of tourists zooming along sidewalks without any clue how to stop the damn things. I'm amazed more innocent bystanders haven't been MEDEVAC'ed. I actually CRIED out to one before that they call it a sideWALK for a reason!

Two Ponies 8:13 AM  

As @ Lewis said, Gorgeous grid. Very eye-catching.
Played an enjoyable medium for me.
Letteral is a great description Rex. I also liked "dotted I".
Sheered was new to me. I considered Sheeted thinking sails.
I don't get the cleverness (if there is any) in the clue/answer for Knesset.
Thanks for the k.d. lang Rex. What a soulful voice she has.

George 8:22 AM  

I loved CAPSTAN because I normally think of a CAPSTAN as the giant spindle which rotates to raise or lower an anchor, and it tickled me to realize it is the exact same think in miniature version in a tape deck. I also remembered CONSTANTCRAVING with a fond recollection of the early 90's. Not sure if I would fit into @ JOHN X's venn diagram since I don't know all of kd lang's oeuvre, but I especially like her early country/rockabilly work.

Especially liked that several wrong answers fit into the grid to make things more interesting 'spindle' for the aforementioned CAPSTAN, 'serialoffenders' for CAREERCRIMINALS.

Karqa 8:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Birchbark 8:50 AM  

Right out of the gate, blasted MALL COP-MEDEVAC-PRIOR ENGAGEMENT-ALTERNATIVE ROCK-repEat offenderS (momentarily tearing out ALTERNATIVE ROCK). Smugly convinced of my own Saturday-is-nothing-but-a-Monday-to-me genius -- but the the goof at 8d brought me back to earth. I finished on the easy side of a Saturday.

I join the CAPSTAN and TUMBLER fans.

"At the penultimate moment, his words, his only ones, words wholly unobstructed in the utterance, were these -- "God bless Captain VERE!" Syllables so unanticipated coming from one with the ignominious hemp about his neck -- ... syllables too, delivered in the clear melody of a singing bird on the point of launching from the twig, had a phenomenal effect, not unenhanced by the rare personal beauty of the young sailor spiritualized now through late experiences so poignantly profound." -- Melville, "Billy Budd, Sailor."

Suzy 8:57 AM  

NOT EASY for me— thank goodness for Google today! Oh, well—

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Didn’t know LOUELLA and plopped in estELLe, not remembering exactly who that was (obviously). I always appreciated her work on Roseanne, and found the character refreshingly sympathetic. Reading the comments here I feel very fortunate that, having few crosses in place, I was able to get all the 15's correct AT ONE GO—i.e., on the first ONE. Although I read its clue early on, I’m only now seeing DOTTED 'I' at 17A. It’s a nice companion to the, presumably crossed, SILENT 'T.'

RooMonster 9:13 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with the "easy for a SatPuz" crowd. But, full disclosure, I made ample use of the Check Puzzle feature, so a helping hand/technical DNF for the purist people. :-)

We get a DOTTED I and a SILENT T. Almost the famous saying. Nice clean ridiculously-hard-to-fill-cleanly middle of puz. 5's, 7's, 9's, 15's, oh my! We have MALLCOPS chasing PERVy CRIMINALS. Someone CRIED NOT IT! NOG with RUMS. And a TANGERINE REGIME. Har. SLEEP IN next to LEISURE.

Two nits, AT ONE GO, REWORDS. Gotta have a nit...


Charles Flaster 9:18 AM  

Easy schmeazy.
Loved grid shape.
Just like many others, KNESSET was my favorite clue.
I remember reading aloud in class (1953 ?)
and pronouncing the T in depot.
Thanks RH.

Mac 9:19 AM  

What playground declaration is "not it"?

kitshef 9:19 AM  

Aah. A puzzle with some real challenge (for me, at least). PRIOR commitMENT fit in just fine, as did repEat offenderS and later repeat CRIMINALS.

And of course an ObE is an honor, and Radiohead was going to be stadium something or maybe albuM something, and I love a nice cannoLI.

And bIomETRICS sure sounds like a thing (and fits with ObE), and I liked ikE for my prez.

But eventually it all came together, after a long and lovely fight.

Nancy 9:34 AM  

I'm so, so happy to have a challenging puzzle after a week of softballs, that I won't complain about the two longest Across answers hinging on knowledge of pop singers. Which made this puzzle -- which I guessed as I was doing it would be easy for many -- a real struggle for me. It was way out of my wheelhouse.

What a lovely, lovely clue for DOTTED I (17A). That wouldn't occur to anyone right off the bat without some crosses. I did see SILENT T (59A) right away; I made a vow recently not to let the silent letter clues zap me anymore. Someone else here made the same vow; I think it might have been @Carola. Saw the tricky KNESSET (40D) right away, too.

My biggest mistake and the one that caused me the most grief was OBE (for Order of the British Empire) as the answer to "It's an honor" (20A). Omigod, it's ODE! I finally realized, as I was trying to make bIomETICS or bIoTETICS out of what was actually DIETETICS. And I wanted Manon instead of EL CID for the Massenet opera. But I hung on and solved without cheating on the pop singers or anything else. I'm feeling proud.

TubaDon 9:35 AM  

Had to do all the corners first, then PRIOR got me started on the middle ocean. Got stuck for a while like Rex did wanting OBE for the honorwhich suggested BIO-- instead of DIET-- but TANGERINE finally bailed me out. Still have no clue what STE is supposed to abbreviate.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

STE = standard abbreviation for suite.

mbr 9:45 AM  

@Mac: someone would claim "not it" in the game of TAG
@Two Ponies: a diet is a legislative assembly

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

@Mac - I think in some, maybe all, versions of the game “tag,” things start when the player so charged wends among the players dubbing some or most of them “not it”—then finally selecting one to be “it.” All others scatter after this designation.

Two Ponies 9:53 AM  

@ mbr, Thanks. The only diet I have heard of is Diet of Worms. Because of that I expected a capital D. I'll file this away for next time.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Since I can remain anonymous, I’ll admit that my first answer for Mideast diet was...knishes.

Unknown 9:56 AM  

A plow thru and finish it kind of puzzle. Feels daunting when you first see the grid then quickly reveals itself. Loved knesset and capstan.

Aketi 9:57 AM  

@Mac, playing tag.

I’m surprised no one noticed CONSTANT CRAVING crossing DIETETICS. The TANGARINE crossed it too, but a TANGARINE isn’t enough to save me when I have a CONSTANT CRAVING for food.

FYI, I think of as a clinical field that draws from the findings of nutritional sciences. You can be licensed and/or have a degree in DIETETICS without being a scientist. And one can have a degree in nutritional sciences without becoming licensed or fully immersed in DIETETICS. Mine is in international nutrition with a heavy emphasis in epidemiology and program evaluation.

Sundays are my SLEEPIN’ LEISURE days.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

Looks like @kitshef had my ObE/bIoMETICS problem and @Quasi had my Manon problem, though I never wrote Manon in since it didn't work. It's always interesting when others go awry the same way you did.

I first heard the term SLEEP IN from my sister-in-law when I was in my 30s. Growing up, I had only wanted to SLEEP LATE. Everyone I knew as I was growing up SLEPT LATE. Now, I'm hearing SLEEP IN all the time. It's always seemed like a very peculiar phrase to me.

@Joe Dipinto (from late yesterday) -- My brother gave me "Finishing the Hat" as a birthday present a number of years ago. It's one of my most prized possessions. Not only does Sondheim make you privy to his unvarnished views of other lyricists, but by supplying his worksheets, he allows you to peer over his shoulder as he writes his own lyrics. It's a bit like a Master Class, and fascinating.

Aketi 9:58 AM  

Also liked that the other kind of DIET was used as a clue.

John Child 10:00 AM  

This grid felt hard, but I finished well below average Saturday time. The thing is, there are four interesting answers in the puzzle. That’s just not enough for a Saturday offering.

cristiano valli 10:00 AM  

Tortoni is not a real thing. how can they perpetuate year after year these kind of things? no one ever told them?

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Shout, “Who wants to play tag?” at a playground and you’ll have your answer.

Teedmn 10:03 AM  

Total wheelhouse today as I own the k.d. lang album and I love Radiohead. Better than CONSTANT CRAVING is the song, Barefoot, which I find chilling in a good way.

It wasn't all smooth sailing since I committed to the wrong thing in 7D like so many here, PRIOR to CONSTANT CRAVING clearing that up. Nice that the MENT part stayed the same, so it wasn't a big hitch.

I, too, was thinking bIo at 21D. After I realized it was DIETETICS, I still didn't change my thinking about ODE. The O.D.E., another one of those British honors, I thought. Sheesh.

And with just the A of 35D, I had my drone returning to the Anthill. But Googling post solve, I see that drone Ants don't do any work and are purely for reproduction so they wouldn't have left the NEST in the first place. BEBOP and SLEEP IN cleaned all of that up and I ended up with a sub-18 minute solution. Actually, I was surprised it took that long - it moved along very smoothly. Thanks, Roland.

And @LMS, me too with the MEDi-VAC thought. See you next Friday in CT!

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Everyone shouts “NOT IT” and the last shouter is IT, running off to tag someone else.

hatton-man 10:13 AM  

Hi. New here.
I have to ask...
Am I the only person to drop "three time losers " into 8 down with near certainty (18,20, and 24 crossed just fine) ?
It was easy - after I had that pried away from me.

Beautiful puzzle.

Z 10:14 AM  

75% easy. 25% impossible. And that’s the challenge posed by isolated corners. If CAPSTAN and ABALONE aren’t coming easily and Italian desserts are something you generally eschew you risk hitting a dead stop. REWORDS is not something I think to do when I edit text, usually it’s more deleting words for brevity (now now, no raised eyebrows of disbelief). Toss in that I thought the playground declaration was going to be in the too common “are so, am not, did so” ilk and not the much less trite Tag ilk and I was dead in the water. A SLOOP in the doldrums.

K.D. Lang put out an album with Neko Case and Laura Viers not long ago. Good stuff, although Case/Lang/Viers is a pretty boring title for such a talented trio.

GILL I. 10:17 AM  

Not THAT easy but very, very enjoyable. I want another one just like this.
I'm not even sure where I started - it might have been with 4D LITRE and a gimme ENERO. Moved over to ABALONE and then I sat for a while.
Could not remember what recidivism meant. I'm a bit OC when it comes to solving my puzzles. I want to finish in a fashionable order. I already had much of the top west and wanted to complete the top east so I consulted with Webster's. Since I don't know any person who re-offends, I scratched the noggin. I had the AR so thought maybe PAROLEE. Crawled further down and knew...just knew CONSTANT CRAVING had to be right. (I love k.d.lang and her voice). So I went back up and CAREER CRIMINALS was it. Yes, it was, thank you very much. I let out a whoop. Opened up the world for me.
PRIOR commitment damn you. Fouled me up, but see, k.d. came to the rescue once again. CONSTANT has the N in there....commitment doesn't, but, by jove, AGREEMENT does... and it fits! Another loud whoop.
Little by little, letter by letter, words popping into my head, clues giving me AHA's left and right, remembering LE CID, finally seeing ALTERNATIVE ROCK and knowing who RENE Belbenoit was and not being fooled by KENESSET diet nor SILENT T. Man, I really loved this puzzle.
It's a smart one. It's clean and it treated me like an adult. Not an ADORBS in sight.
Thank you Roland Huget (Love your name) for the enjoyable Saturday puzzle.

ArtO 10:19 AM  

Again, a somewhat rare (but becoming less so) appearance on Saturday. But, of course, an "Easy" rating to deflate my ego.

Oh well. For others like me, it is some consolation to know that a Saturday can be conquered every once in a while - even though it's easy for you mavens.

A quick entry for MALLCOP got me off and "walking" ...not "running" like most of you.

Nancy 10:20 AM  

Is that your kitty cat with a TANGERINE?????, @Aketi (9:56). I broke out in a wide, wide grin when I saw your avatar just now.

"KNISHES" is a great answer, @Anon 9:56! You certainly don't have to remain Anonymous because of that!

Chris 10:22 AM  

Easy for me--just off record. Like Rex, found the long ones easy with a few letters. Wanted SPUMONI for TORTONI, but that didn't last long.
Hand up for MEDiVAC--that was the change I had to make to get the happy music.

Z 10:28 AM  

I’m feeling less bad about not knowing TORTONI. It definitely was a thing but apparently isn’t so much anymore. But, hey, the NYT published a recipe in 1898.

Dan 10:33 AM  

Had CO for 31 Across and confidently wrote in COME TO MY WINDOW before realizing that it was both (a) one letter too short, and (b) the wrong 90s lesbian rocker.

cristiano valli 10:34 AM  

@Z I can accept that Tortoni has been a thing in Paris and in America, but you can't put "trattoria" in the clue. I'm quite positive no trattoria ever served a Tortoni in history.

FrankStein 10:39 AM  

Anyone else see a visual TANGERINE dead-center in the puzzle?

I've always thought a TORTONI was a chocolate-covered ball of ice cream sold at pizza places. Apparently I've been wrong all these years. It's a pudding. What is the thing called that I'm remembering?

cristiano valli 10:42 AM  

@FrankStein Tartufo

BarbieBarbie 10:44 AM  

Forgot to mention I really liked the 51D clue for Phil- like a Cryptic Crossword clue or maybe Times of London. The “man’s name” in this case is “in” the **answer** to “metropolitan orchestra.” Constructor is not speculating on a nickname that might be used for a male instrumentalist who is some guy in the orchestra, like maybe a percussionist getting called Tim (can’t think of any others, sorry for the stretch). So, a new kind of misdirect. Love it.

FrankStein 10:58 AM  

Grazie Cristiano! any relation to Alida Valli? :)

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Longtime speed solver here, and this was my second record in the past THREE DAYS. And this on the heels of a dreadful Monday.

What a week!

JJ 11:16 AM  

I lost time with 8 down. Was very happy with myself plunking in PAROLE VIOLATORS. Ugh!

GHarris 11:18 AM  

Couldn't get le cid and had steered for sheered which left channel hanging as ct something or other. Otherwise a complete triumph. Really, felt pretty good about my relative success on a Saturday.

kitshef 11:23 AM  

I went back and looked at Mr. Huget's puzzles since I started solving. The early puzzles tended to have unforgivable flaws The last three, including today, have been excellent Also, his grids have a unique look to them. For anyone interested, the most recent were on 18 March 2017 (a flawed one), 3 June 2017, and 28 October 2017.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Note the grid, on this St Patrick's Day, is a pretty good rendition of a Celtic Cross.

Sir Hillary 11:30 AM  

Great puzzle. Easy on the solve, and certainly on the eye. Remarkably clean fill given the massive amount of white space. Everything I didn’t know (VERE, LECID, SHEERED, VER) was fairly crossed. Superb work!

k.d. lang’s voice is a gift to us all.

Anyone know if the constructor pronounces his surname with a SILENTT?

old timer 11:41 AM  

I'm old, so LOUELLA went right in. So did CAREER CRIMINALS, which caused many of the extra-long sentences that we in California have tried to dig our way out from under. Most of the puzzle was Easy for a Saturday except for the NE where I almost gave up. CONSTANT I had but CRAVING was something I had to deduce. I too know CAPSTAN but not in a tape recorder context.

"Take a turn around the CAPSTAN heave a PAWL" goes the humorous forebitter -- a song sung by sailors when not a work, hence not a shanty or work song, though shanties often accompanied the process of raising an anchor using the CAPSTAN. So I rally wanted "PAWL" there, and finally found PAWN which gave me NOTIT and the wonderfully clued ANDIRON. My job as a boy in the winter was to arrange logs in the ANDIRON and add kindling and newspaper so we could have a nice fire.

(BTW, a PAWL is the piece of metal you insert into the CAPSTAN to prevent its running backwards, which it would do instantly when raising an anchor otherwise -- once raised, the anchor had to be secured to the side of the ship (or on deck) to remove the pressure on the CAPSTAN.)

Masked and Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Did seem easier than dreaded, for a SatPuz. Nice constructioneer job of grid-fillin.
Grid is fine by m&e … Each sector has at least two entrances/exits.

Nice selection of 12 weejects, the staff pick of the litter of which is: VER [Feminine form = VERE]. Cousin of NER, M&A's all-time fave weeject.

Best stuff I didn't know: VERE. LECID. Best stuff I semi-knew: ANDIRON. TORTONI. SHEERED.

Neat PHIL clue. Coulda almost rated a double-?? punctuation award.

Thanx, Mr. Huget. I'da let U keep AMIBEAT in there [see xwordinfo comments]. Unless any U's woulda been harmed in the production, of course. [More V's than U's, as is.]

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Anonymous 11:52 AM  

@FrankStein - Tartufo

JJ_Rural_MO 12:00 PM  

This was a good Saturday puzzle. Though for some reason I was stumped in the NE for probably 75% of my solve. Had REviseS for REWORDS, CAssete (I know) for CAPSTAN, was embarrassingly stumped by puppet (with my REviseS providing an errant V - _ _ V_) and kept thinking NOTIT had to be some version of Am Not/Is Too/Are So etc. Finally convinced myself ABALONE had to be right, figured out REWORDS and finally had an aha with PAWN and finished out the corner. Got my money's worth on this.

jb129 12:12 PM  

Struggled with At One Go altho I had it but couldn't figure it out. I loved this puzzle - kept me busy!

Malsdemare 12:16 PM  

It didn’t go as easily for me as it did for Rex. After ten minutes, I was still staring at a lot of white space. Sure, I got CLEO, SLOOP, and LITer and then I had to head south for some sunshine. In fact, that area filled pretty steadily; and every once in while I’d head north again to see if my crossword brain had kicked in yet. And so I stutter-stopped my way through, correcting that famous Radiohead ??????loVEsOng to its rightful title, finally cleared hARdenedCRIMINALS (which wouldn’t fit) out of the my head and gave them CAREERs, filled in CONSTANTCRAVING because, what the hell, why not. Got TANGERINE with nothing, kept hoping the lightbulb would blink on. But wow, so much easy stuff that was just out of reach: PORE, EARNEST, MALLCOP. Still, I finished in a better-than-average time, a fact I have trouble believing.

A really great Saturday; I finished without help with time to spare to go wine shopping for the St. Paddy’s day dinner we’re having here. Just to be clear; guests are bringing the Guinness.

puzzlehoarder 12:48 PM  

I'm not surprised so many people found this easy. All four corners were like shooting ducks in a barrel. The only grid spanner with any hesitation was the K. D. Lang song. The SHEER volume of white space to fill was about the only reason this was pushed into the low end of late week time. That and like many people I wanted OBE before ODE. With that unknown song mixed in with SHEERED and LECID the center provided the only real puzzling.

VERE is an outlier too but until I went over the xwordinfo list (after solving) I didn't know it was in the puzzle . That's what the corners were like. VON, PAWN, ABE, PIPE and SIS all went in off the crosses without the use of their clues so I never really saw them.

The E of ATONEGO was the last letter to go in for the congrats. I had to do this on my phone (another time suck) at a different firehouse last night. I'm at my own firehouse today but I haven't been able to comment until now. Damn work. The good news is all 48 hours are overtime. @ lms, unions rock.

Z 1:02 PM  

@cristiano valli - You might not find TORTONI in a trattoria in Italy, but you will find a trattoria in New York City, so the clue is fine.

Matthew G. 1:06 PM  

Wow. I just straight up did not know the word ANDIRON. Now that I google images search it, I know exactly what it is, but I ... did not know that it was called that. My grid was correct, but I was sure I had a crossing wrong because I stared at it and said “ANDIRONS?” Those aren’t a thing.

Not often that I straight-up learn a non-proper noun from the puzzle. But it happened today!

Cali Marie 1:15 PM  

I have Constant Craving for SLOOP John B.

Aketi 1:32 PM  

@Frankstein, yes.
Awe @Nancy, calling Charlie a “kitty cat” sounds so cute. Our other cat, Faith would object. She thinks the TANGERINE monster is a total CAREER CRIMINAL PERV who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word no. Despite the fact that he outweighs her by almost 7 pounds, he never succeeds in his endeavors because she’s faster and more agile than he is.

Space Is Deep 1:38 PM  

Very easy Saturday. MALLCOP went in immediately and it was off to the races. Though, I've never heard of KNESSET. only got it because of the crosses and then I had to look it up because it didn't look right.

'mericans in Paris 1:39 PM  

@ Cali Marie -- Aw, thanks for the Beach Boys video. I always liked SLOOP John B., too. Letting YouTube keep going, it loaded up a video of Brian Wilson and Al Jardine performing the song at Capitol Studios ... in 2016, some 50 years later!

JC66 1:45 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Mills 1:46 PM  

REWORDS? Don't like it. "I think you'd better reword that..." sounds OK, but not "an editor rewords it." Very hard puzzle. I almost finished it (90%).

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Puzzle was so good except for the NE corner, which dragged the average down to meh. Should have been reworked.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown 2:43 PM  

Somehow, knew everything. PR for a Saturday. Had STEERED, changed the CHANNEL. El fin.

Outside The Box 2:55 PM  

This was a shocker for me. It solved as easily as a Monday. Never finished a Saturday puzzle so quickly (even though I never time myself).

greg 2:59 PM  

This puzzle was in my wheelhouse, having engineered in a recording studio/worked in the music industry for several years as well as having had worked with locks a few times. CAPSTAN, TUMBLER, CONSTANT CRAVING, ALTERNATIVE ROCK, as well as MALL COP and a few others dropped right in without much in the way of crosses. I’ve only been doing the puzzle with regularity for about a year, so I was able to set a personal Saturday best, which made it super fun for me.

RooMonster 3:07 PM  

@Anony 2:02
Don't you mean, "Should have been REWORDED?" Har.

Knishes, yum. Used to work in an in-store deli, we got Knishes in pre-made, used to nuke them in a bowl with butter. Good stuff.


Phil 3:17 PM  

DNF on the MEDiVAC.

But an easy fun puzzle otherwise. MAILCOP CAPSTAN BEBOP/PIPE AND of course PHIL made all the corners quick
Manon went in quick too but was easy enough to fix

Phil 3:22 PM  

Quickly, sorry I have to correct my grammar or I’ll never shed the old habits

Carola 3:42 PM  

Not easy for me; rather, my favorite kind of Saturday, with...
1) the first look at the Acrosses yielding only a sprinkling: ENERO, PORE, NOG, IOU, VON, and SILENT T (hi, @Nancy - yes, it was me :) ).
2) those Acrosses then satisfyingly revealing enough Downs to complete a quadrant (e.g., ENERO-->LATER ON, LITRE, CLEO...)
3) felicitous mistakes that were more help than hindrance: ObE, PRIOR commitMENT. (The exception was frO for back, masking MEDEVAC and AT ONE GO.)
4) serious brain-racking required to complete the center section (I had no idea about k.d. lang or Radiohead.)
5) and just the je ne sais quoi of a beautiful grid and pleasure-producing entries.

I liked the maritime air of CAPSTAN, SLOOP, SHEERED, Captain VERE, ABALONE, and hints of pirates with their RUMS and faint echoes of a hornPIPE.

Cheerio 4:09 PM  

Like others , found it easy except for the NE. May have to try to make tortoni now that I have heard of it.

gloriosky 4:24 PM  

Started out with REPEAT OFFENDERS (for career criminals) - amazing how many answers fit in that space! But still managed to correct that and finish - my first Saturday puzzle finish ever! So I'm pretty pumped. Of course it was deemed "Easy" - but had it been otherwise, I would have been left in the dust. Love that k.d. lang song (as did Mick Jagger, apparently.)

sanfranman59 4:39 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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 4:32 4:09 1.09 74.8% Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:02 5:12 0.97 42.2% Medium
Wed 5:03 6:00 0.84 21.8% Easy-Medium
Thu 11:23 10:01 1.14 71.9% Medium-Challenging
Fri 7:58 11:42 0.68 13.0% Easy
Sat 15:48 16:08 0.98 49.6% Medium

For some reason, seeing both DOTTED I and SILENT T in the same puzzle bugged me a bit. It was a pleasure filling in CONSTANT CRAVING with only 4 crosses (and I wouldn't have needed those had I read the clue earlier). I'm guessing I'm not the only one who tried spindle before CAPSTAN at 8A. LE CID was tough to suss out. I don't drink NOG from a bowl (does anyone?), so that little word was annoying. I really wanted 12D to be cannOlI since I was just telling someone last night that I learned to love them in the North End of Boston (ah, memories). I was steadfast about ObE over ODE for far too long. I'm just realizing how much of a problem the 3-letter entries were for me in this one. I needed all of the crosses for both VER (33D) and VON (43A) also (unfortunately, English is my only language). My other WTFs: VERE (23A), SHEERED (28A), LOUELLA (36D), RENE (47A). Groaner of the day: PHIL (51D).

Joe Bleaux 5:17 PM  

Quasi, I think the song's message is "DO walk away," but I haven't had my old Left Banke (am I wrong about that e?) album out in a while.

Joe Dipinto 5:19 PM  

Three ridiculously easy puzzles in a row to end the week. STARR went in first, then ALTERNATIVE ROCK, then LOUELLA...the other three 15-ers went in in short order, and it was smooth sailing until finishing up in the NE. I had REVISES at first, but I wanted SLOOP and once I got ANDIRON that got fixed and voila! Done.

Good puzzle but I look forward to hunkering down for a good challenge on Saturday. Alas, this passed too quickly.

jae 5:26 PM  

Yes, easy. Yes, ObE. Yes, liked it.

QuasiMojo 5:39 PM  

@Joe Bleaux, you are SO right. It's "Just Walk Away" -- my bad. I guess I got it mixed up with "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast." lol

Trombone Tom 5:39 PM  

The grid was handsome and, at first glance, very intimidating. I dropped in at the NE and worked my way clockwise around the outside. CAPSTAN, SHEERED, and ABALONE had me looking for an ocean theme. The center was harder to get traction in until TANGERINE revealed itself.

I was able to finish unscathed after a detour through acE and ObE to ODE. Kudos to the constructor/editor for the KNESSET and DOTTEDI clues. Rated this sort of easy with flashes of brilliance.

Joe Bleaux 5:42 PM  

(I learned the word "andirons" almost 30 years ago in Memphis while ... yup, working a crossword puzzle.)

CDilly52 5:49 PM  

Right there with you my friend! I am always astonished at the number of times a puzzle is easy for so many and diabolical for me (as today) or vice versa. I started exactly as did OFL then tossed in REPEATOFFENDER thinking the day was going to be a breeze and stalled out. Chipped away and finally finished. Enjoyable, clever clueing but easy? No.

Joe Bleaux 6:14 PM  

As my devoted fans know, I love it when I scan the clues for a toehold, don't see how I can possibly even play, then finally find a way in and actually finish, without cheating, well before nightfall. Mr. Roland Huget is always good for that. Like @Rex, I tried to start 8D with "repeat" criminal, which prompted me to talk myself out of CAPSTAN (which I actually knew). So, quickly finding a couple of confirmations (tanGerine and reGimes) in the crossings for PRIOR ENGAGEMENT, I popped it in and cruised neatly through the whole Western half. When CAREER became evident, I revived CAPSTAN, and viola, there goes the East! Really nice grid, and PTWFMM (puzzle of the week, for my money ... try to stay up on your BCSAI {blog comment section anagrams and initializations}). One nit: Editing is *not* rewording, no way, no how. @quasi, Wow ... been a long time since I was reminded of "Daddy, Don't You Walk So Fast" Thanks!

Joe Dipinto 6:20 PM  

@Quasi and @Joe Bleaux -- I can't believe I didn't see the references to "Walk Away Renee" earlier, one of my favorite songs (we've talked about it on this board before). Yes, it's "just walk away", and yes, it's the Left Banke, with the "e" on the end.

@Nancy -- I should have guessed you'd already have the Sondheim book. After I posted I was leafing through it again last night -- really great inside details about the process of getting a show completed. And his evaluations of other lyricists are bonuses (even if a little snobby on occasion).

Alyce 6:53 PM  

I hear you! Until this morning I thought that it was Medivac!

Chip Hilton 7:04 PM  

MEDiVAC, dang it. @LMS, I would’ve missed my error had I not read your comment.

I struggled to get going. Somehow TUMBLER came to me and unlocked (ahem) the SW. After that, smooth sailing. CONSTANTCRAVING held me up, only because I was convinced it was Sweet Surrender. Wrong artist and a letter short.

Highly enjoyable Saturday puzzle.

TomAz 7:44 PM  

I am currently on day 4 at SXSW and the synapses are not fully firing any more. I didn't get to the puzzle this morning, so I finished it during a rest stop before I wander out one more time. It's a marathon, and we're on mile 22. (Not that I would know what actually running a marathon would be like.)

This puzzle would have been a "yeah, ok, that mostly works" but dropping in k.d. lang and Radiohead was enough of a 'hell yeah' moment in my music-saturated universe right now. CAPSTAN and TUMBLER I both knew, eventually, with a couple crosses. The clue on KNESSET was a winner. No idea about VERE or SHEERED but for the crosses.

Hungry Mother 7:51 PM  

I guess easy and Saturday don’t mesh with me. Two minutes faster than my glacial usual. Always just happy to finish a 50K ultra or a Saturday puzzle. I’m always impressed with the rest of you that breeze through these things.

cristiano valli 7:52 PM  

@Z I could object that whatever they call themselves, there are no Trattorie in NYC [I mean, not a critique, Trattorie are the worst].

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

That creep Rex is trumpeting Ken ken on Twitter. Hypocritical douche.

Mohair Sam 8:57 PM  

Wasn't going to comment today but saw Anon (9:56)'s error of Knishes for KNESSET for Mideast diet. Best mistake ever - Anon is right and Roland Huget is just wrong. And yes, I could live on a diet of knishes.

The puzzle? Clean, easy for a Saturday, and fun. Cannoli before TORTONI cost some time in NE, should have tried knishes there too.

floatingboy 9:07 PM  

Amazingly, I first got PRIOR COMMITMENT and REPEAT OFFENDERS right off the bat. "Amazingly" in that both fit but both are wrong. Having REPEAT OFFENDER. instead of CAREER CRIMINATL made me put REEL___ instead of CAPTSTAN, although luckily my sound recording background gave me the guts to move to CAPSTAN and figure out what a better 8-down should be.

BarbieBarbie 10:14 PM  

Anon@8:44, there’s nothing wrong with loving KenKen.

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:35 PM  

A solid effort, but the North was not as easy as it was for others. When I feel that the fill is not gonna be exciting, my brain stops working in protest. SHEERED, CAPSTAN/ABALONE/ANDIRON, ETAILER/ENERO/VERE were not the most pleasant clusters. So yeah, even though the cleanliness of the fill deserves applause, it was definitely not the most exciting Saturday fill. The esoteric clues for that section also didn't help its case. "Little sweater = PORE" is pushing it a bit too much, I think.

I mean, it definitely wasn't unpleasant, and was a nice workout at times. The longest answers were a great foundation for the puzzle. But in the end, this is a puzzle where a mostly boring fill meets a boring set of clues, Sad, because it seemed to have a lot of potential.

GRADE: B-, 3.2 stars.

Anonymous 11:19 PM  

@phil phil 3:22
Quick is an adverb all by itself, as are fast, near, close, and lots of other really wonderful English words that are being ruined by the kind of "grammarists" that are featured in another of this weekend's puzzles.
There is no need to say or write "quickly" - the idea that all adverbs must be marked by the suffix -ly is a sorry development of ill-informed grammar-fascists of the past 100 years. You can go along with those types if you like, or you can stand up for English, proper English, spoken well.

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

@anon 1119 sorry wrong. Quick is an adjective. It describes [noun] that [verbs] quickly. You should try reading.

Burma Shave 9:36 AM  


DERIVED long AGO, so EARNEST and subliminal:
She ADHERES in her LEISURE to behaving


rondo 10:03 AM  

Wow, that was fast, 15 minutes with one of OFL’s write-overs having ObE before ODE. MALLCOP and CAPSTAN fell right in and it was off to the races, even taking time to write “HAR” in the margin for the clue “Chit in a pot”. Think about it. Can’t believe it went unnoticed by the commentariat. Do you have a pot to chit in?

There is a RPR of sorts with NOTIT, spelled by the DOTTEDI and SILENTT, which from which IT is DERIVED, just the T isn’t SILENT.

Edwin STARR a gimme in part because on Friday A.M.s 89.3 The Current (which does play a lot of ALTRNATIVEROCK) has a feature called “Song Wars” using as a theme song “War”, by said Edwin STARR.

Since I saw the re-make of The Thomas Crown Affair last night, I will co-opt the given RENE into yeah baby RENE Russo.

A fine puz, but that’s the end of my LEISURE as I couldn’t SLEEPIN today due to a PRIORENGAGEMENT at work. Write at you LATERON.

spacecraft 11:13 AM  

For me it was quite a different experience: easy, easy, easy, easy--and the NE. But the NE was enough to carry this all the way to challenging; I came within a whisker of throwing in the towel. The area looks like it was hit with ink bombers. Had SPUMONI for the longest time. And having to deal with another stupid RPR didn't help. CAPSTAN? If you say so. I had to get that one on crosses. Nothing fit until I at last I made my third or fourth change to 18-across: all I had to do was REWORD it! OK, a puppet is a PAWN. A stretch, but...yeah, OK.

Outside that nightmare corner I have only the extra-letter gripes already mentioned; last letter was the second E of RENE. I second the motion for Ms. Russo as DOD; all in favor: aye. Motion is carried. Birdie.

leftcastTAM 2:48 PM  

Seemed to be off to a fast start by plopping in PRIORcommitMENT as first entry. Trouble ensued. Looked that one up to get out of the trouble. So, DNF.

With that, ahem, little fix, most of the rest fell into place, and it was fun but not easy.

VERE, VER, and VON made a neat little trio.

ANDIRON and KNESSET cleverly clued.

Five fairly independent small puzzles ATONEGO.

rainforest 3:15 PM  

If you don't count my write-overs at PRIOR commitment, spumONI, and ObE, this was relatively easy for a daunting-looking grid. But I had to work hard to fix those, especially the Italian dessert. If I'd looked at the kd lang clue early, maybe I'd have avoided the big down w/o.

Anyhoo, it all turned out fine, and no TANGERINES were harmed during the solve.

CONSTANT CRAVING is an amazing song. kd has an amazing voice.

Before I got KNESSET, I hesitated to put in DIETETICS because "diet" was in the clue for that one. However, totally different "diets", so OK.

So, easy NW, SW; a little harder SE and a tough NE for me. I'd say more but I have a 7 D.

Diana,LIW 8:29 PM  

Spectacular dnf - just so many errors and brain burps today. Maybe I need a new brain diet? OK - I'll blame a late night last night - saw West Side Story with a live orchestra - songs still going thru my head.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, Having a Busy Week

centralscrewtinizer 5:25 PM  

Hard until it wasn't. Started in the SW with LOUELLA dishing on SOREN and worked out from there. Finished in the NE after a hard time with numerous clues, the playground, the little sweater, just everything. Wanting NOG very badly finally led to NESTEGG, but it still put up a fight with the K being the last letter after changing it from m.

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