Relatives of guppies / SAT 6-9-18 / Plate armor designed to protect thighs / Pianist Jorge / Viking poet / Descendant of Ishmael / Popular author most of whose work is written in anapestic tetrameter

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Constructor: Roland Huget

Relative difficulty: Challenging (9:49 ... though I was being bombarded by some kind of large flying insect the whole time, so it's possible the puzzle was actually closer to Medium or Medium-Challenging)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SKALD (19A: Viking poet) —
  1. (in ancient Scandinavia) a composer and reciter of poems honoring heroes and their deeds. (google)
• • •

Here's what I wrote about SKALD the last time I saw it—eight years ago: "Studied medieval literature in grad school and still never heard of a SKALD (3D: Viking poet). My "wacky medieval words for 'poet'" list begins and ends with SCOP (it's Old English / Anglo-Saxon, and if you haven't seen it in the grid, you will)." It's been seen only three times in the Shortz era, and before 2005 it hadn't appeared for *twenty-one year*. I hardly need to add: For A Reason. It's a super-arcane word. And there were just too many of those today for me. There are nice moments, but too much had to be forced to make it all happen. Again, I was trained as a medievalist and somehow never encountered either SKALD or TASSETS (?!) during my entire time in grad school, despite explicitly studying medieval romance, in which knights ride around in all kinds of armor. Played D&D as a kid—no memory of TASSETS (40D: Plate armor designed to protect the thighs). In fact, it's been s i x t y - s e v e n  y e a r s since TASSETS appeared in the NYT crossword puzzle ("only" twenty-seven since it appeared in singular form). Who is Jorge BOLET?? Been sixteen years since he's shown his face. For 5-letter pianists, after ARRAU, I'm out. Worst of all, I thought, was the "RIO RITA" (!????) / PLATIES (??????????????) crossing, which I flat-out guessed, based on having maybe possibly seen "RIO RITA" in a puzzle before. Just a horrible cross. Not terribly inferrable. And then some of the other fill is just kind of wince-y: CITS? SALUTER? AWACS? It's not working for me.

I like the bottom stack. The top one is OK, but AMERICAN CUISINE feels so broad as to be almost meaningless, and *LAST* THE DISTANCE?? It's GO THE DISTANCE or gtfo. You can LAST, or you can GO THE DISTANCE. You may not mix and match. I enjoyed BATPOLE. Plunked down BATCAVE and was oddly happy to be wrong. BATPOLE is just an odder, funnier choice (21D: Feature of Wayne Manor). I don't know how y'all got started on this one, but I did my standard work-the-short-crosses routine and again, despite many missteps, I managed to get enough correct letters that I could make out the correct answers of the long Acrosses. Getting the THE in LAST THE DISTANCE and the -CAN in AMERICAN CUISINE really, really helped. Normally, the fat, isolated central portion on a grid like this is going to be what gives me the most trouble, but I zapped it pretty quickly, with only the "RIO RITA" / PLATIES cross causing me any panic. Below, went CO- to COHABIT to BIOLUMINESCENCE in pretty short order, and finished up with AWACS / TASSETS, which is nonsense to my eyes and ears ... but the crosses were unimpeachable, so Happy Pencil, the end.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Brian 12:29 AM  

    Easy.• first time when Rex says challenging.

    Mark 12:39 AM  

    Turned out to be an easy Saturday: the long ones often came easy, and a few lucky letters gave me happy music when I wasn't completely sure I had succeeded

    Lars Hoel 12:46 AM  

    first nozze, then Bolet … someone needs to listen to more classical music

    jae 12:48 AM  

    @Rex’s solve and grid thoughts pretty much mirrored my thoughts and solve only my solve was quite a bit slower...i.e. tough puzzle with some really off the wall stuff..SKALD (I’m lucky xwords taught me how to spell MINARET), PLATIES, TASSETS, BOLET...WOEs to the NTH!

    Not quite as much fun as yesterday’s.

    puzzlehoarder 12:59 AM  

    The empty eye pattern was so striking that it took a second glance to notice the triple stacks at the top and bottom. As I expected those were easy.

    The center provided the only real Saturday level of difficulty. I got into it after filling the top tier. Skipping ahead to the bottom might have sped things up but I wanted to enjoy the middle while it lasted. Mostly I had to overcome BATCAVE and figure out if the E or the U comes first in SEUSS. I have no idea what a PLATIE is but RIORITA looked familiar.

    Up top I had to change ERTIE to ARTIE. Yeah, I initially spelled 1A SEPERATE. Coming out of the middle I had to change OLA to OYE. ASKANCE and AWACS took a little thought but other than that the bottom went quickly.

    ColoradoCog 1:25 AM  

    Huh. I found it kinda on the easy side for a Saturday. Go figure. I completely agree about the RIO RITA / PLATIES cross, though. That was brutal.

    turkeyneck 2:02 AM  

    Agree totally. It's GO the distance unless you need a four-letter word, which I'll be glad to supply in general. Tasset is plain old expedience at work. I also tried Batcave to begin with. And the obscure proper names and modern TV series references leave me nonplused but the long stuff became easy pickings thanks to the short verticals.

    Anonymous 2:57 AM  

    Ceremonial start? Are you kidding me? I think that was even dumber than platies.

    Larry Gilstrap 3:22 AM  

    When this thing crawled out of the printer, I realized it must be Saturday. Eight, count them, eight grid spanners. Result: some pretty funky fill, as per OFL. SKALD and TASSETS, have been replaced by the more modern scop and Spanx, or is it Spanx's because plurals matter.

    The clue about the glowworm resulted in my immediate response of BIOLUMINESCENCE. Wow! It works. In fact, most of the spanners felt right, eventually.

    Call me a Moby-Dickhead, but Ishmael is my soul brother every time I open the book. Abraham's son with his concubine Hagar fosters the ARAB population. At least, we can all share EVE as our great-great-great-great, etc. grandmother. She goofed, but I forgive her. She was pretty naive, after all, and who hasn't been conned by a smooth- talking snake?

    When I was a lad, my bedroom featured a bed, a clock radio, and a bowl of guppies. No TV, no computer, and certainly no access to telephonic communication. "Go to your room," was a consequence. But, had I only had some PLATIES. Alas!

    Nasty pranks? When I was a young teacher, the classroom teacher next door was not popular with the junior high crowd. Too often, after Nutrition or Lunch, his door knobs would be filled with SUPER GLUE. Those kids are now middle-aged. I hope they regret that cruel disruptive nonsense, or at least acknowledge it.

    Anonymous 3:23 AM  

    I agree with the LAST THE DISTANCE gripe. It just doesn't sound right. I managed to solve it in 7:21 (easily one of my best Saturday times), but some of the words held me up, especially TASSETS (I was positive the term for thigh armor was cuisses, but maybe there's a difference). Loved seeing BIOLUMINESCENCE, though. Brilliant entry, even if the clue was a bit straightforward.

    Loren Muse Smith 4:22 AM  

    Man oh man oh man I’m not the themeless beast that so many of you seem to be. This was really, really hard for me. Several times I almost just gave up with a ton left unfilled.

    Yeah – I went “batcave,” too. But my biggest dumb move was – sorry @Larry G, resident Dick-head. (Look. You went there first.) – I had “Ahab” as Ishmael’s descendant. Sheesh.

    And @Larry – two years ago I had to write up four senior guys for slipping out of the library computer lab, where we were working on PowerPoints, way before the bell rang. Like, 20 minutes early. They made it their mission not just to get revenge, but (as I’ve just recently learned) to get me to actually quit. Lots of nasty pranks. To name just a few: dumped food in my colored-pencil box, left pictures of private parts on my desk, regularly stole all the pencils available to the class, left nasty notes on my door, and AND let the air out of one of my tires. These. Were. Seniors. I know people read about it and stuff, but unless they’ve experienced being in the trenches, no one comes close to having any idea how hideously difficult, discouraging, demoralizing teaching can be.

    For some reason, I was confusing James Beard with Bill Neal. And Bill Neal isn’t nearly as famous (but if you’re ever in Chapel Hill, eat at Crook’s Corner). So I almost wrote in “southern cooking” for AMERICAN CUISINE.

    I guess since I’d say cohabitate, I was flirting with “codwell,” which looks ridiculous, and I was feeling pretty bad for Roland.

    Ignoring the truncation in the clue, I put in “bed” for the doc’s orders. That one really messed me up for a bit.

    So I did fairly well – triple dnf ‘cause of the TASSETS/AWACS, RIO RITA/PLATIES, and MINARET/SKALD crosses.

    This was in the end a supremely satisfying solve, dnf notwithstanding.

    (Tough morning. I was a huge Bourdain fan. And now remembering being bullied by those seniors, being nauseated, literally every day, before their class from October until mid May, has left me in a funk.)

    Mr. B 4:47 AM  

    BARBS are also another type of aquarium it was nice seeing PLATIES and BARBS COHABIT that central fishbowl area of the puzzle.

    Margaret 4:48 AM  

    Found it pretty easy. I’ve definitely seen Rio Rita in crosswords before - came to me immediately but have never seen it. The middle part was hardest - I’m not sure results oriented and practical minded are complete synonyms so that wasn’t a “shoo in.” Anywho I liked the clueing and quirky answers - more fun than most.

    Lewis 6:22 AM  

    This is a gorgeous looking grid design with gorgeous stacks (no side-eye for me at LAST THE DISTANCE, which was familiar enough for me). I kept skipping all over the grid while behind the scenes my brain was feverishly working, so I'd return to an area and suddenly blanks that had eluded me filled in (with the kind of flash you get when you figure out a word in Hangman). So it was one aha after another. I came into this puzzle, for some reason, with the faith that if I relaxed and stuck with it, I'd fill it in. So I took it easy and sipped at it like at a glass of luscious wine, and by the end, when the puzzle finally fell, I was rewarded with a most lovely mellow buzz.

    Anonymous 6:45 AM  

    Google suggests that LAST THE DISTANCE is simply less familiar, and I’ll buy that seeing as I didn’t start to balk until I got to the blog. Disagree with OFL about AMERICAN CUISINE, tho Emeril's inclusion seems to me to water down the precision of the clue. I easily remembered SKALD. What was the shin armor piece from a few weeks ago?

    May the following forestall any EVE-bashing:

    Nor had one apple taken been,
    The apple taken been,
    Then had never Our Lady
    A-been heaven's queen.
    Blessed be the time
    That apple taken was.
    Therefore we may singen
    Deo gratias!

    Anonymous 6:55 AM  

    Saw TWEET at the last moment and ran the vowels for the AWACS/ACTA cross.

    @Mr. B - ...that poor ELAND at the bottom of your fishbowl!

    Anonymous 7:04 AM  

    Never heard, or at least had no recollection of, RIO RITA, but the title seems eminently of the genre. Needed the T for the cross.

    three of clubs 7:09 AM  

    Think I learned SKALD from the Thor comics. We all get our edumacation from different sources.

    sf27shirley 7:10 AM  

    Maybe it was just a basketball hangover from the Warriors lat night but I found this puzzle delightfully difficult. Also appreciate that there were no gimmicks. Thank you Told Huget.

    mathgent 7:20 AM  

    I feel some pleasure in having been able to solve this monster but there was too much clunkiness here for me. SKALD. CEREMONIALSTART. AWACS. TASSETS.

    There were some bright spots, though. ASKANCE. TESTEDTHEWATERS. That Dr. Seuss wrote in anapestic tetrameter. ENCLAVE.

    Seeing the Warriors win the championship was enough joy for one evening anyway. I watched almost every game of the playoffs and I am in awe of LeBron's talent and spirit.

    Odd Sock 8:05 AM  

    Except for bioluminescence the long answers were pretty boring.
    I can't say this was a very memorable solve.
    So is everything in Wayne Manor a bat something?
    Hello! Come on up the bat stairs and in the bat door. Make yourself at home there on the bat sofa. Can I make you a bat drink? Need to freshen up? This way to the bat room.
    Sorry, couldn't help myself.

    pabloinnh 8:13 AM  

    Great to see BIOLUMINESCENCE in the puzzle as it brought back fond memories of swimming at night in Phosphorescent Bay on Vieques years ago and acquiring a neon looking covering. Hope it's all still there after Maria.

    @LMS-Yeah, there are pranks and there are mean-spirited crimes and misdemeanors. I turned my back on a class once to write something on the board and had a book thrown at me. Mr. "helpful" Principal suggested that I get an overhead projector so that I could always face the class. Thanks a lot.

    mmorgan 8:14 AM  

    Batcave, me too. Staring at PLA_IES/RIORI_A, I was sure it had to be a T. What else could it be? Tough puzzle, but many answers were not especially pleasurable or interesting.

    Hartley70 8:14 AM  

    I thought I was going to relax and enjoy this after whizzing through the middle section. It turned out it was more like the eye of the hurricane.
    The top half wasn't too bad except for that Viking dude sitting on top of Ishmail's son, but the bottom half was a killer. Unlike most, BIOLUMINESCENCE wasn't on the tip of my tongue and TASSETS was just cruel. Jorge might be a little broad. I'm still confused by ACTA, are we talking sports or judicial? While AWACS sounds familiar, I have no idea what it means. I love stacks, but sadly this was too tough for these old choppers and I have to take a cheat for using the check function.

    Matthew 8:30 AM  

    I was fighting an army of cassocks when I did the puzzle so it slowed me down to just over 6 minutes.

    Z 8:45 AM  

    Getting PESTLE first saved me from the obviously better goes THE DISTANCE. I think I actually winced a little as I put in LAST. AMERICAN CUISINE? What’s that? A quarter pounder, fries and a coke? A hot dog and a Bud? Seriously, anytime YELP! lists the CUISINE as AMERICAN the menu is some version of meat and potatoes., often just burgers and fries. And since when do SEPARATE INCOMES require separate returns? In short, I got the whole north section and gave every long answer the side eye.

    The middle was at least a little entertaining. PLUMP BATPOLE provides an interesting image. Hand up for being happy to discover my blind guess of PLATIES RIORITA was correct.

    The south was better IMO, with nothing other than the _______ plane clue seemingly odd. AWACS are planes, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the two paired to make a single “AWACS plane” construction. My magician was pulling a rabbit from a hat before SAWing their assistant in half.

    kitshef 8:47 AM  

    Man, there were some obscure words: SKALD, PLATIES, ARTIE, BOLET, TASSETS.

    Yet I was able to pull it all together (eventually), which always think is the test of a fair puzzle – you don’t have to know everything, because you have crosses.

    We complain about all the movies being remakes/sequels these days, but it’s been going on forever. The Laurel and Hardy RIO RITA was a remake of a movie that came out just thirteen years earlier, which in turn was based on a Broadway musical.

    CITS of course is terrible.

    Unknown 8:50 AM  

    Terrible construction, you'll never catch PLATIES if you put the BARBS at the top of the BATPOLE. Obviously not RESULTS ORIENTED.

    Stanley Hudson 8:51 AM  

    Pretty much what @kitshef said.

    Rita Flynn 9:07 AM  

    I always enjoy seeing my name in a crossword, so extra marks for that. BATPOLE drove me a bit bat sh*t crazy for a while, so d’oh! The stacks were easier than the fill, I was a couple of minutes faster than average.

    Nancy 9:07 AM  

    I took a wild guess on two different letters: The T of the RIO RI-A/PLA-IES cross and the L of the BO-ET/BIO-UMINESCENCE cross (remembering that LUMIN means light). Guessed right and so I finished.

    I thought I knew a lot about poetry, but I never heard of SKALD. I tend to like older, more traditional poets, but this Viking is a little too ancient even for me. I'll also have to chide my high school and college English teachers: Why did you omit the Vikings?

    Is SUPER GLUE anything like CRAZY GLUE?

    Wondered whether the magician's classic prop was going to be SAW or HAT.

    BAT POLE. I wanted BAT CAVE first. But I'm glad the BAT has all the comforts of home at Wayne Manor, wherever that is.

    My only nit is CEREMONIAL START. Green paint, anyone?

    A lively, challenging, fun puzzle.

    Gretchen 9:31 AM  

    In the 60s Jorge Bolet used to come to Ft Lauderdale every year to play with our symphony orchestra. I haven't heard of him for years. Fun fact:He was from Cuba but pronounced his name GEORGE BO LET, not Or hay Bo lay

    Teedmn 9:37 AM  

    A tisket, a TASkET, yup, I did AWACk job on that 40D-50A cross. And my guppies had invited their PLAnIES cousins to a screening of RIO-RINA (RITA seemed familiar after I saw the correct solution. At one point I considered RIO-RamA but I was saved by the CEREMONIAL START).

    15D SEE__ED. I could not think of who was descended from Ishmael. ARAm? ARAh? I couldn't rationalize SEEthED for the makings of a plot even though I've been known to rationalize worse. That one I finally did guess so I saved myself the triple DNF of yesterday's debacle.

    My favorite guess which didn't pan out was "haiku" in place of TWEET, 47D. And with S__UTER in at 1D, I put in ScoUTER but since the only word I know that starts OAS_ is OAST, and since OAST was unlikely to be in an answer for "Not fade", I rethought ScoUTER.

    So, a tough Saturday for me and I enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks, Roland Huget.

    GILL I. 9:41 AM  

    I wish I were a glow worm
    A glow worm's never glum
    'Cause how can you be grumpy
    when the sun shines out your bum?
    I loved this. It made me feel brilliant. I must be brilliant because I only had to Google one thing...PLATIES. I guess I'm the fool who wanted BAT masks. The P in SUPER GLUE finally gave me the POLE.
    AMERICAN CUISINE was my first tentative, scary, full of trepidation entry. It seemed too easy. Speaking of....RIP Anthony Bourdain. "Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life." I read sometime ago that chefs are prone to commit suicide. Evidently being "The Greatest" takes its toll. Michelin chefs have taken their lives because the pressure to maintain "Three Star" status is insanely hard. I cook because I love to and it delights me that something I invented tastes good. I'm into making bon bons now.
    I've heard LAST THE DISTANCE so not a problem with that one. I also knew Jorge BOLET because he's Cuban and I know my Cubans. OYE Como va!
    @Loren...I also had BED. I just stared at that little glow worm's BIOLUB and thought that wasn't very fair. The MED made SCENCE.
    I don't ever recall nasty pranks in school. Maybe because I went to an Anglican Church school for the first 12 years of my life and you didn't do things like that because then you'd be sent to Bishop Blankenship's office and he was one big mean dude. Amazing what fear does to you.
    Thank you Roland Huget...SKALD and all.

    Bob Mills 9:41 AM  

    "ACTA" for "court proceedings?" "AWACS"???? "CITS"? This puzzle had a lot of indecipherable stuff (undecipherable?) It's frustrating to get all the stacks correct and miss out on ACTA and AWACS.

    Amie Devero 9:48 AM  

    Took a DNF over ACTA/AWACS . Still clueless about ACTA. Cant get a hold of it, neither context nor parsing. SOS!

    TubaDon 9:55 AM  

         Daunted at first by those stacks, I surprised myself with finishing in under 30 minutes, a fast time for me on Saturday. Saved by some gimmies like BIOLUMINESCENCE, COHABIT, PARIAHS and RIORITA, I had to take BOLET, SKALD and ARTIE on faith from the crosses. One problem. I couldn't fit HOLA into 41A. Looking up on Google later, OYE translated as HEARS, which seems odd.

    FLAC 10:04 AM  

    I like the satisfaction of sussing out a long answer. So for me, the eight grid-spanners here more than excuse the short and questionable fill.

    @LMS, my son is an eighth-grade math teacher in NYC. He shares your pain, and your love-hate relationship with your occupation. Props to you for your perseverance.

    Phil 10:07 AM  

    Blanking the top went below and got bioluminescent as first entry and for the middle plunked down underwear for prank material.
    Gave me false STARTS of run for putting on mileage and MRI for Doctor order but in the end DNF with misspelled ARSENeL
    And PLebIES for guppies ya know like plebes noobs etc. And RIO RIbA like some arriba contraction.
    Like others grudgingly put in the last of THE DISTANCE.

    Like @LMS thought i would dnf with most of it blank when I started. Too few gimmies to build on...for me anyway

    retired guy 10:09 AM  

    I'm surprised that no one has complained about REROOTS (37D). No way it means "gets accustomed to a transplant." Perhaps it could mean "gets accustomed to being transplanted" (said of the plant). Or "transplants" (said of the gardener).

    On the other hand, nothing wrong with ACTA (50D) as "court proceedings". Merriam-Webster gives as its first definition the following:

    "recorded proceedings : official acts : transactions: the acta of the conference"

    Mohair Sam 10:18 AM  

    Excellent Satpuzz. A real battle for us, but ain't that the point? SKALD and TASSETS didn't bother us as much as it did Rex and others - obscure stuff is fair game, even welcome, on Saturdays (as long as it doesn't share a quadrant). And you gotta love a puzzle with BIOLUMINESCENCE.

    Discovered last week I have something called a "frozen capsule" in my shoulder, makes it painful to raise your hand - but hand up anyhow for "hat" before SAW, "bed" before MED, and "cooking" before CUISINE (hi @Loren). TCM fans such as Rex should know RIO RITA, it's a regular there. Get back in front of your television Parker - stop wasting time with work, friends, and family.

    Great clues for SEUSS, MINARET, and TWEET. And a huge thanks to Mr. Huget and Will Shortz for putting nothing in the puzzle that can be construed as political ( incorrect or otherwise) - a day of peace on the blog.

    Laughing about Rex's insect problem last night. I went through a minor eye procedure which has caused a few floaters. Those of you who have floaters will know that they can look like little black bugs at the periphery of your vision. I've been swatting at the nonexistent pests for a couple of days now (much to Lady M's delight).

    SUPER Saturday Roland Huget, thanks.

    Anonymous 10:19 AM  

    If ACTA is "recorded proceedings" in the dictionary, how does that become "court proceedings" in the puzzle? Are you suggesting that anything that's recorded takes place in a court?

    JOHN X 10:34 AM  

    Last letter entered was the "T" in the hated RIORITA/PLATIES cross, and I got a DNF warning. Shit! It was just a guess anyway so I ran the alphabet on that square but no luck! I looked at the grid and the first word up there was a misspelled SEPARATE with an "E" in the 4-spot and I always misspell that stupid word.

    Ukelele Ike 10:36 AM  

    When was the last time the Fed made an INTEREST RATE CUT?

    jberg 10:49 AM  

    Relatively easy for a Saturday, although I worked the writeovers like crazy. Saw the clue for 12D and told myself,"well, that's goona be either Paris or Tokyo," checked the crosses and thought maybe crossword fave Onan was descended from Ishmael. But 16A looked like it was going to be AMERICAN CookIng, so Osaka didn't work there. (@Z and others, James Beard's book American Cookery is a classic -- don't knock it if you haven't tried it! But then I saw multiple INCOMES at 1A, so it had to be OSAKA after all.

    I knew SKALD, but couldn't think of it because I couldn't get Snorri Sturlusson out of my head -- but I knew that K made sense, and didn't think it was SkKael, so I just waited it out. The waiting was further delayed by LAST THE Duration. So at this point I had the top three gridspanners and they were all wrong -- but only half wrong!

    The rest was easier, except for the obvious BAT cave and Ola. So the whole thing worked itself out without too much trouble.

    I'm hoping the complaints about AWACS will entice Evil Doug to come out of retirement. They're an advanced form of radar; back in the early 1980s the debate about whether to supply them to Saudi Arabia convulsed national politics for months.

    @Loren, I don't get out enough--I can never recognize the people whose pictures you put in your avatar. Pretty sure it's not Jorge BOLET, though, with all the hockey players behind him.

    Oh year, PLATIES. Complete plausibility-guess, mainly the plausibility of what might be a movie title for A & C. I was going to go with RIO RamA until I got the I.

    Tom 10:56 AM  

    Finished without using any crutches, but it took a while. Still below my Saturday average, but that guess on the T in PLATIES/RIORITA gave me the surprising musical tone at the end.

    @LMS, do feel a bit guilty about making my junior year algebra/trig teacher's life miserable at the Jesuit college prep school I attended. He was retired Air Force, but a terrible teacher. Didn't have a clue how to do the job. One day when he turned his back to write on the board, I hurled a softball-sized paper was in his direction and he turned in time to catch me. Sent to the vice-principal's office, where my choice of punishment was a few whacks with the infamous paddle or suspension until I memorized 100 lines of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Chose the latter, went home and memorized it in one night, recited it the next morning and never missed a minute of class (for which I would have had to serve triple detention). The class applauded when I walked in the next day. So some latent guilt about making Mr. Freiburg's life difficult, but he really didn't have a clue.

    Teedmn 10:58 AM  

    @Matthew 8:30, the vision of you fighting off a bunch of priests in cassocks made me laugh (Cossacks?)

    @pabloinnh, I was in Vieques in 2015 - the BIOLUMINESCENCE in the bay was wonderful but they no longer let you swim in it - we kayaked. But when I put my hand in the water, I felt like I was holding stars in my hand. And watching the streaks that fish below us made as they swam by was truly wondrous. I read the the bay has faded since Maria blew through - let's hope for a full recovery.

    Anonymous 11:11 AM  

    Acta Curiae. Acta Curiae (Latin meaning "acts of court"), are records of the proceedings in ecclesiastical courts and in quasi-ecclesiastical courts, particularly of universities. They are sometimes also known as Registers of the Chancellor's (or Vice-Chancellor's) Court. So I guess all court proceedings are acta but not all acta are court proceedings. Works for me.

    Anonymous 11:13 AM  

    Fought this for 1:49:18, but finally prevailed when I remembered awacs. Needless to say it was Challenging to get this Gold Star.

    pabloinnh 11:33 AM  

    @Teedmn--Sorry you missed the swimming experience, which was truly amazing, and also hoping for a full recovery as this is one of only a few places in the world where this occurs. Now I'm hoping for "dinoflagellates" to show up in a future puzzle.

    'mericans in Paris 11:44 AM  

    Have some guests visiting from Australia, so finished the puzzle too late to post the last couple of days. Mrs. 'mericans and I did it together, interrupted by bus rides and other distractions. But we LASTed THE DISTANCE.

    Impressed by the stacks of 15-wides, but like many others struggled with the PLA_IES - RIO RI_A coss, and took awhile to get SKALD, ACTA, and TASSETS. Yuck to CITS,

    ETE ICI, and I want to get back outdoors. Sorry, can't think of anything brilliant to say.

    Malsdemare 12:06 PM  

    My experience was much like everyone else's. I struggled with PLATIES, SKALD, and AWACS/TASSETS, misspelled MINARET, had AMERICAN Cooking before CUISINE. On the other hand, I felt brilliant when I got BIOLUMINESCENCE, LAST THE DISTANCE, SECOND INCOMES, and the other grid spanners. Hard, but I liked the challenge, as always, I didn't feel misled at any point.

    @Loren, your tale brought to mind those occasionally horrible teacher evaluations, the ones where you're the worst teacher ever, you should die tomorrow, you're stupid, etc. They stung then and, remembering, they sting now. Coupled with some scary, depressing news about sister #2, I'm now joining you in your funk.

    But "when the sun shines out of your bum" helps.

    Amelia 12:13 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Anonymous 12:17 PM  

    Goes the distance or went the distance...
    LAST the distance??

    old timer 12:26 PM  

    @'mericans and @LMS! my cup runneth over. Technical DNF because I forgot to put in AWACS and TASSETS but I would have figured out the first. A real DNF because I had to look up that character from Glee.

    I think it was a fair Saturday though, and suitably tough.

    It is hardly a surprise that that fellow from Cuba pronounces his name in Spanish, not French. The reason Spanish is easier for a high schooler to learn is that every letter is sounded just as she is spelt. After just a week or two of Spanish I you can pronounce every single word, even though you do not yet know what the words mean. French is more elegant and IMO has more worth reading. But Spanish has as much first-rate poetry.

    Speaking of poetry I frequently reread Paradise Lost, just to savor Milton's words, read aloud. Unlike my other love, Chaucer, you can easily pronounce whatever Milton wrote.

    Bree140 12:32 PM  

    "For 5-letter pianists, after ARRAU, I'm out." Never heard
    of Glenn GOULD, Rex? Or, if you insist on more contemporary
    references, all of the following highly-renowned and
    five-letter-surnamed pianists are currently alive and
    concertizing (which I assume would qualify as "showing
    [their] face", in your graciously-worded phrase): Richard
    GOODE, Stephen HOUGH, Igor LEVIT, Paul LEWIS,
    Maria Joao PIRES, and Andre WATTS.

    Anonymous 12:49 PM  

    Loved the flying insect excuse---no end of excuses why OFL's time is off. I got stuck in the "sea" and "reoccur" crossing since I had "interest rate cap". I finally googled the thigh protectors and all was bliss. I kept thinking of greaves but those are lower down.

    Banana Diaquiri 12:50 PM  

    LAST the distance??

    pretty much a guarantee that the talking heads will say exactly that when praising the winner of the Belmont.

    Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

    Cool, @RP: Sounds like U were visited by the Good Puzzle Fairy, late last night. She was relentlessly divebombin U, huh? Ooooh. Not a good sign. No quarter under the pillow, for U.

    This SatPuz was feisty but mostly fair, with several learnin opportunities. Toughest parts at my place were: CITS/SKALD and BATPOLE/Zaftig PLUMP/PLATIES. Knew RIORITA, for some reason; think maybe I considered it for a runtpuz entry, lately.

    RE-ROOTS. har.

    staff weeject picks: ETE EVE. Nice symmetric pair, in a nice E-W symmetry grid. Also, kudos for the weeject 5-stacks, in the N and S Central areas. They are the M&A gift that keeps on a-givin. They're kinda like SUPERGLUE, huh, dudes & darlins?

    @muse: Wow … U had some real outlaws in yer senior class. They really responded well to that there basic "actions have consequences" lesson. Have they managed to stay outta jail, since graduatin? … Or become Congressmen? … Or "fixer" lawyers?
    Anyhoo … Hang in there, for the future success stories U no doubt will also have.

    Better CITS clue: {Takes a ceat??}.
    Uglier than snot C-ITS clue: {REO C-CURs??}.

    Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Huget. U are a man of few (64) words, and many (7) U's.

    Masked & Anonym007Us


    Esmeralda Glockenspiel 12:56 PM  

    The clue for 10D is wrong. Nu is a vowel. Mu is the consonant.

    Adam 1:03 PM  

    AWACS was a weird answer, but I'm old enough to remember when it was a scandal that we sold them to the Saudis. I threw in enough short answers to get INTEREST RATE CUT, and never looked back. Easy-Medium for me; I enjoyed it.

    nyc_lo 1:07 PM  

    Only 1.93 Rexes this week, so skewed to the easy side for me. Which is not to say the answers were easy, but I got enough opportune fill to keep me rolling. Only “boo” from me is on CITS. Pretty bogus. Otherwise good, clean fun.

    Anonymous 1:29 PM  

    You "explicitly studied." Dude, thats a worse usage than anything ever in the pjzzle. LOL, your hatred of Marvel comics made Skald obscure.ypu must have had one piss poor grad program to not know Skald.

    mathgent 1:55 PM  

    Cute problem in WSJ puzzle page today. Which of these two numbers is larger? The number of seconds in six weeks or ten factorial.

    Masked and Anonymous 2:03 PM  

    @Esmeralda G. (12:56 pm) - Sorta yep. Callin NU a vowel or a consonant is a tricky-ass business. Apparently, NU is lingo-istically considered a consonant, but then within that broad definition, it is sub-categorized as a "semi-vowel". Talk about yer alternate facts …

    Probably woulda been safer, for the Shortzmeister not to have taken on this highly controversial subject.
    Better, safer NUS clue: {African mammals with a silent and invisible starting letter??}.

    But, hey -- it's pretty much all Greek, to m&e.

    M&A Help Desk

    Hungry Mother 2:17 PM  

    Easy up to the NaTick. DNF!

    Lewis 2:29 PM  

    @mohair -- Most frozen shoulders get better on their own, says the Mayo Clinic, but it might take a year or year and a half. (I looked it up, because I've heard that they usually get better on their own, but I wanted to confirm it.) May your recovery be more speedy!

    Anonymous 2:31 PM  

    M and A
    Give it a rest.
    Planet Earth

    LT Gary Johnson, AWACS pilot 2:43 PM  

    AWACS was my favorite answer. I think we all would like to see more answers related to the various command and control infrastructures and capabilities of our modern, global Air Force.

    Anonymous 2:44 PM  

    Complaining abojt bwing a teacher. Teaching is a joke. Tne tea hers union is all plwerful in many places. Ill grant one point to tne teachers: school administrators are worse. And school boards worat of all.
    But c'mon teaching in tne US is a sweet gig.

    Robso 2:46 PM  

    Tassets + platies + Bolet / batpole =
    “Holy Eugene T. Maleska, Batman!”

    Banana Diaquiri 3:25 PM  

    But c'mon teaching in tne US is a sweet gig.

    really?? 50% of entering teachers leave within 5 years. it's so easy:

    and that's pure white Utah. imagine elsewhere.

    Anonymous 3:34 PM  

    Nice racism banana.

    Banana Diaquiri 3:54 PM  


    lots of data correlate teacher retention and student performance with race and income. just the facts.

    Anonymous 4:01 PM  

    Correlation aint causation,slick. Oops, i mean racist .

    bookmark 4:15 PM  

    re: anonymous 2:31 PM. Don't ever give it a rest, M&A. We love you and your M&A help desk.

    Anonymous 4:36 PM  

    Correlation aint causation slick. I mean racist.

    Mohair Sam 4:41 PM  

    @Lewis - Thanks. The good news is I've got an excuse to beg off damn near all hard work around here for at least 12 months.

    Aketi 4:46 PM  

    Pretty hard to slide down that BATPOLE with BARBS at the top and SUPERGLUE in the middle. But the reward of BIOLUMINESCENCE at the bottom of the BATcave is LIT

    @LMS, that’s rough. My sister and my cousin could definitely relate.

    Somehow my post yesterday afternoon went AWOL. I was too tired to retype it because, for the first time I ever, I had watched an event at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night with pretty much most of the dojo to root for one of our instructors.. I was also disheartened by the morning news about one of my role models for BJJ (only a year older than I am). I watched him compete live two years ago at a spring open tournament. And yes, I loved the fact that he thrived on eating almost any CUISINE in the remote corners of the planet.

    Aketi 5:16 PM  

    @GILL I, thx for the poem. :)

    I totally missed the TKOS in the puzzle. One of the best surprises at the Garden was a missed TKO. We all thought it was going to be a TKO and were all whispering to each other “why doesn’t the ref call this and make it stop?” Miraculously, the guy who was down on his back slowly wrapped his legs around his opponent’s neck and arm and locked his legs and made him tap to a choke. Then he was so jubilant that he leaped up to the top rail of the octagon. So happy the guy wasn’t injured and that he probably had the best turnaround of his life.

    Aketi 5:26 PM  

    @Mohair Sam, ouch. I sure hope it doesn’t take a year for your frozen shoulder to unfreeze.
    @M&A, I’d be devastated if the M&A help desk ever closed. I did mention your great post on Thursday in my AWOL post on Friday.

    joebloggs 5:47 PM  

    When has anyone ever heard or seen “last the distance”. C’mon that’s straight trash.

    ZenMonkey 6:02 PM  

    So much tsuris over a few words you don't know! Ye gods. I have a recent master's in Gaelic Lit from an Irish university (UCC) and SKALD most definitely came up. Someone should feed Rex a secret Maleska just so we could watch the exploding skull.

    I shuddered when I saw the grid but enjoyed the solving greatly. Personally I love learning obscure stuff from crosswords.

    Monty Boy 6:03 PM  

    This was tough for me. First time through with acrosses, I had only two entries. Downs were saving grace. I got the middle of the eye first then had to work the downs for the long crosses. DNF from SE.

    @Matthew 8:40. I was slowed as you were, but I had a horde of Huns hunting my head - most distracting.

    @Loren, @tom 10:56 - I'm a retired engineer who teaches part time (both engineering and math). I haven't had the pranks (harassment), but had the REALLY bad evaluations cited. One said they learned nothing from me and had to do it all on their own. I took that as a success since they learned the life skill of learning on your own. I ignore the awful evaluations and the "Best teacher ever" evaluations. Statistics tell me those are usually outliers (or out-liars?).

    Nancy 6:12 PM  

    I'm catching up with the blog belatedly, between this morning's French Open match, Central Park in lovely weather most of the day, and this evening's Triple Crown possibility on TV. So I'm sorry I didn't say to you earlier, @Mohair, I really hope that there's a doctor who can fix your frozen shoulder -- and in less time than Lewis thinks it usually takes. And that your floater goes away too (I had one a few years ago -- very annoying -- and it did go away in a year or so.) I also extend my sincere sympathy to @Loren, who seems to have a garnered a collection of ingrate students who don't remotely deserve her. It's not just that I'm glad I don't teach in this current educational climate. I'm also glad I'm not a student today. What's happening in our schools right now is dispiriting and/or frightening on every level.

    Banana Diaquiri 6:16 PM  

    Correlation aint causation slick. I mean racist.

    1 - so what might be causation? poor black kids make teachers flee? rich white kids keep teachers in school? rich white teachers make poor black kids flee? and so on? what's the causation?
    2 - what kind of racism are you accusing me of? I hate white people? I hate Mormons? I'm an apologist for inner city kids?

    be specific. show your work.

    Banana Diaquiri 6:20 PM  

    @Monty Boy:
    I took that as a success since they learned the life skill of learning on your own.

    then, prey tell, what's the justification for paying you? it's been known for decades, if not centuries, that superior subject matter knowledge does not a superior teacher make. which you've just demonstrated. there's a reason that educating is a distinct profession. and it's a devilishly difficult skill to acquire. lots of folks don't think it's worth bothering to acquire.

    Tom Durkin 6:33 PM  

    No one has ever said “last the distance” at the Belmont.

    Banana Diaquiri 6:36 PM  

    When has anyone ever heard or seen “last the distance”. C’mon that’s straight trash.

    umm. may be not:

    Anonymous 7:14 PM  

    This puzzle was hard for me. My average Saturday is under 20 minutes ( I know Rex is a lot faster) but this took me almost 35 minutes. Justify won the Triple Crown. No one said “Last the Distance.” Banana is a poor man’s Z (and that’s pretty poor).

    sanfranman59 7:15 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 3:17 4:30 0.73 1.3% Very Easy
    Tue 6:16 5:26 1.16 79.2% Medium-Challenging
    Wed 5:41 6:39 0.86 24.5% Easy-Medium
    Thu DNF 9:47 ??? ??? Very Challenging
    Fri 11:15 13:03 0.86 31.6% Easy-Medium
    Sat 23:44 15:54 1.49 91.3% Challenging

    There was a lot of stare time during this solve and, for a while, I thought I was headed for my second DNF in three days. But I stuck with it and eventually finished.

    The north was particularly intractable. LAST THE DISTANCE??? Has anyone ever said that? Crossword brain somehow knew 19A was SKALD off of S__LD. ARTIE was entirely from crosses. I'm not a fan of the random, not-in-the-language -er, so SALUTER kinda sucks. OTOH, I should have gotten EMANATE and PESTLES more quickly.

    Down south, the clue for REROOTS didn't help much, BOLET means nothing to me, MED is meh, clever clue for TWEET, tough clue for REOCCUR. OYE? TASSETS??

    In the middle, I really struggled with the 15s because I just wasn't generating enough solid crossing downs. Part of my problem was thinking zaftig meant crazy. My bad there. When I first read the Abbott and Costello clue, crossword brain said RIO RITA, but I didn't trust it. PLATIES?!?

    Not my favorite Saturday ever, but they can't all be Patrick Berrys or Manny Nosowskys, can they?

    Hartley70 7:35 PM  

    @Mohair, I speak from experience when I say your frozen shoulder may be here for a while. Mine stuck around just about a year. I didn't do any treatment except turn the shower to hot every morning, aim it at the offending shoulder and limber it up as much as possible. It gradually returned to normal. Good luck!

    I have floaters too and the eye doc said they annoy people more who are very myopic.

    JC66 7:43 PM  


    When I couldn't lift my arm, Viagra worked for me. ;-)

    Seriously, I hope it gets better soon.

    Banana Diaquiri 8:43 PM  

    @Tom Durkin

    "If Frac Daddy and Palace Malice push him, can he last the distance?"

    so. at least once.

    JC66 8:55 PM  

    With Viagra, I can last the distance.

    Tom Durkin 9:00 PM  

    @banana: Your link doesn’t work but I’ll take your word for it. It’s still not a common phrase.

    Unknown 9:37 PM  

    LAST the distance came easily? Really? That is not a saying... I had goes and went the distance for a long time clogging things up... if you got last right away good on ya... but that was not easy

    Kimberly 9:46 PM  

    When I have nothing to add, I still have to come here to read @lms’s posts. Always a pleasure to read.

    Today was a toughy but really I’m just posting to say thank you, ms smith. You should consider your own blog. Pick a topic... I’d read it.

    Space Is Deep 9:48 PM  

    Bottom third: easy
    Middle third: medium
    Top third: challenging

    Anonymous 2:24 AM  

    When I finished I still had an error and it turned out to be the RIO RITA / PLATIES cross. I had a C instead of a T. Somehow I felt better learning Rex had trouble with it too.

    Andrew 1:23 PM  

    Went with last the duration Which is far as I'm concerned as good as last the distance

    Anonymous 4:22 PM  

    Obligatory me too: yup, tried BATCAVE.

    Gotta admit, I confused James Beard with James Lipton and was wondering "What the heck do he and Emeril have in common??"

    Didn't know PLATIES, but it seems like RIORI_A would have to be T. *shrug*

    thefogman 11:06 AM  

    Just right for a Saturday. Well done Rolland Huget.

    Burma Shave 12:12 PM  


    I SAW her ACTA lot hotter, so I'll LASTTHEDISTANCE.

    --- HERB SKALD

    rondo 12:53 PM  

    OYE como va! And ACH du lieber! About 4X OFL's time for me, no real NUS there. Thought that the middle would be tough because of access, but it nearly filled itself in. Inkfest in the SE due to having pleA, ERE I SAW ACTA. And in the SW I tried a little HEmp as my HERB of choice. Yes, I inhaled.

    BARB'S gotta be the yeah baby today. Bach, Eden, Streisand, Mandrell; pick one.

    About perfect for a Saturday, even if you tsk it for TASSETS.

    spacecraft 1:43 PM  

    Visual impact: two bowls held together by SUPERGLUE. Had to nod when I got that word. Hand up for forgetting to slide down the BATPOLE before arriving at the BATcave. Also, I had to SAW my hAt in half for my magic ACT(A). One other inkblot: confused Ola with OYE; sorry, Carlos.

    Definitely enough weird, wacky words to satisfy a Saturday toughness scale; I remember AWACS so that one was no problem. A tour de force in grid-spanning skills, though a couple of points had to be stretched. Took about 8 OFL units; pretty challenging.

    DOD is RITA Moreno, a rare quadruple-trophy holder. Birdie.

    Diana,LIW 2:08 PM  

    Went from hard to easy to Natick - just what OFL said - TASSETS/AWACKS/ACTA. Nope. Not for me.

    Amazing how those long answers turn into the easy ones once you have a few letters in place. And then you (I) get tripped up by medieval armor material. I hate it when that happens. Didn't know that Viking either. Poet schmoet.

    That's all from ICI.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

    thefogman 3:03 PM  

    Speaking of SUPERGLUE. I had to make a repair today. We have a really nice hose caddy - the type you reel into a box - on the patio. Trouble is, the business parts (plumbling connections) are plastic. There was a pinhole leak that generated puddles on the patio when the hose was turned on. I took it apart and applied several drops of SUPERGLUE and baking soda to seal the leak and fuse the plastic back together. No more leaks. The patch is hard as a rock and solid. That SUPERGLUE and baking soda combination works like magic in some situations.

    rainforest 3:07 PM  

    Challenging primarily because of the answers I didn't know and had to rely on crosses or just guess at.
    The upper and lower stacks seemed easier than the central section, which is where I finished with the 'T' in PLATIES. RIO RITA seemed more likely than RIO RIdA. Naturally, I entered BATCAVE off the clue, then had a miserable time sorting that out.

    The bottom was easier than the top, but overall, a tough one.

    leftcoastTAM 3:32 PM  

    Rex pretty well covered the problems that bothered me. Of course, he overcame them all, while I didn't. No surprise there.

    Some consolation in getting AWACS, SKALD and RIO RITA, without too much trouble. But BOLET, TASSETS and PLATIES were all out of reach.

    DNF'd both Friday and Saturday, alas.

    Moonglow 4:25 AM  

    LAST THE DISTANCE - saying it out loud pains me....nails on the chalkboard. As Johnny Cochrane said: "If the fill is whack then don't triple stack." Flew through this in under 16 minutes! Half my normal time.
    BOLET slowed me down. here are some other 5-letter pianists: MCCOY TYNER, art TATUM, GLENN GOULD, Wynton KELLY, Bill EVANS, CHICK COREA, AHMAD JAMAL, LISZT, FRANZ Schubert, SCOTT Joplin, ANDRE WATTS, KEITH Jarrett, COUNT BASIE, TEDDY Wilson (1912-86) - Played with Benny Goodman and others, TEDDY Wilson was one of the first black musicians to appear prominently with white musicians.

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