Common perfume oil / SAT 7-21-18 / Pioneering infomercial company / Sports org. since 1916 / Noted Obama portrayer / Marsh Bird / French waves / Performers taking bows onstage?

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Constructor: Jason Flinn

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (8:17)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: NEROLI (Common perfume oil) —
Neroli oil is an essential oil produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium subsp. amara or Bigaradia). Its scent is sweet, honeyed and somewhat metallic with green and spicy facets. Orange blossom is also extracted from the same blossom and both extracts are extensively used in perfumery. 
• • •
Substitute blogger alert! While for the bulk of Rex's coming vacation you'll be in the capable (much more so than my own) hands of Laura Braunstein, today OFL let me take the wheel. I'm Matt and while it's easy to find me talking crosswords on Twitter, today is my first time on the blog. On to the puzzle.

Grid-spanning quadruple stacks. Bleh. With grids like this, you're opening up two cans of worms: is the long stuff snappy enough to help with compromises in the necessary short downs, and how much glue are you going to find, especially in the crummy middle? I think the constructor did about as well as you can do with quadruple stacks. The long stuff felt fresh while still feeling in the language instead of forced: THERE'S NO I IN TEAM, ORDERED A LA CARTE, TELLS IT LIKE IT IS, PEER ASSESSMENTS are all full of constructor-friendly letters while feeling accessible to solvers, and STRING ORCHESTRAS (1A: Performers taking bows onstage?) threw me much longer than I'd like to admit, even with the ? raising my hackles. 

But the rest became a test of your crosswordese knowledge, and on the whole, uninspiring. I definitely (for now) am A Young Person, and a mixed bag on the short stuff cost me significant time. KTEL, XKE, ELAM, LUI, EDO, ELO, LSD, came quick. And short fill-wise, we've got to accept some stuff in this grid design. But I hit real roadblocks in other places, especially the Maleska-esque NEROLI (only one other appearance in the Shortz-era), a bird I've never encountered in SORA (only one NYT appearance in the 15 years I've been doing the puzzle), and ONDES (7D: French waves). If you're of a different generation, I can see trouble with Comedy Central star-cum-Oscar-winning director Jordan PEELE (46D: Noted Obama portrayer), and that's not to say anything of FALSER, which is just crummy. ENCAGE and REDEPOSIT a little less so, but a trade-off I'm willing to make given how un-awkward the long stuff was. In the end, for a Saturday that time-wise I found a bit tougher than normal, I'm remembering the "blah" much more than the misdirection in the top half, which is a shame. 

  • 37D: DARLINGS (angels) and 38D: STINKERS (No-goodniks) — A fun little juxtaposition. Maybe I'd've rolled my eyes if the clues were "angels" and "devils," but as it is it feels like an easter egg in a themeless.
  • 1D: STOGY (Low-end smoke) — Just reminded me of the all-ways bad EL CHEAPOS of a bit ago, but you can do a lot staler at 1D.
Until next time, assuming I'm welcomed back.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 12:09 AM  

Anyone care to explain how 24D: Sign of the times? = DOT?

jae 12:12 AM  

Easy. No real problems with this one. Pleasant but a tad bland or....quad stack.

57a could have been clued as a 1971 Rod Stewart hit. The 58a might have appreciated that.

Harryp 12:16 AM  

I live for long answers and stacks, so this one was right up my alley, or so I thought. Quadruple stacks of 15 letters, but these took a while to suss out. Solve time 45:47 versus 43:01 Saturday average. Loved all that blank space. Beautiful puzzle.

GHarris 12:33 AM  

Only by solving on line and periodically checking for errors was I able to complete this puzzle without a single resort to Google.

puzzlehoarder 12:44 AM  

Great puzzle. Six of the eight gridspanners are debuts and the difficulty was respectably late week. That's hard to pull off with these huge blocks.

I got the top tier and part of the middle in about the time it took me for all of yesterday's puzzle. My only write overs we're NAROLI/NEROLI and SPEND/AMEND.

Speaking of NEROLI, I consider words like that along with the likes of ONDES, TROP, SORA and ELAM to be assets. They're like those little bits of sea glass you find on the beach when you're looking for interesting stones.

The bottom tier went faster. I liked getting STINKERS just off the I of CIGS. Off that S it must have taken me half a minute to remember SHIITE. Weird.

I finished in that little Midwest section. At first I was thinking of the wrong kind of model. That clue for ELO seems very obscure to me. Perfect for a Saturday.

okanaganer 12:59 AM  

20 Heavy Hits
Touchstone of my youth...those definitely were the days.

Trombone Tom 1:12 AM  

Those stacked 15's always seem daunting to me, at least until I begin to tackle the downs. I had most of my problems with the NE due to tryin lone before STAG and mEgABITS before TERABITS.

I thought Matt's review was fair, but I wasn't as bothered by some of the crosswordese. As a certified old coot, I remembered NEROLI and SORA with no problem.

Kudos to Jason Flinn and Will for an interesting, but not overly challenging Saturday.

Larry Gilstrap 1:12 AM  

Wow! Nine, count'em, nine grid spanners, caught my eye as this thing crawled out of the printer. But, it is Saturday, so bring it on! None resulted in much excitement, and for some odd reason ORDERED ALA CARTE and TELLS IT LIKE IT IS just appeared with very few crosses. I like when that happens.

I probably spent more time on differentiating between STAG and Solo; funny how that works. Fit and SUITED are both past tense so 35A took some time, since fitted has special applications.

Hard to believe, but desert birding offers a chance to see a marsh bird or two a long way from a true marsh. Folks get excited when they spot the elusive SORA rail, far from where it belongs. Blame or credit a golf course water feature. Create artificial habitat and they will come. A Canada goose or two will trash a putting green.

As a teacher and as a student, truth be told, I loved summer vacation. We hated the omens of Back to School advertising cropping up in AUG. Crepe myrtle is a common decorative plant in Orange County and their beautiful blooms appear in late summer. How something that colorful becomes something so ominous speaks to the power of individual experience. Was that a yellow school bus that just drove by the crimson blooms of that gorgeous tree?

Clean puzzle and nice review.

chefwen 3:07 AM  

Hi Matt, thanks for filling in. I’m with you with the long stacks and BLEH, I would have added a G to make it sound a little more guttural, BLEGH! I know a lot of you like the long stacks, I hate them. The only ones that came to me easily were 16 and 17A, the others had me relying on the downs to piece meal together.

No thanks.

Phil 5:34 AM  

Fantastic puzzle.
Disagree with Matt. I see only IRES as a forced plural. I find all the EDOs LUIs ENOs ELOs as standard short fill. The bottom ELAM SORA expected Saturday tuff stuff.
What ... PEELE is the only proper name? (Hafta look again)

Good job

Unknown 5:41 AM  

I had a long debate with someone recently about using the word YEP as a response. I use it all the time - to me it feels informal and friendly. My friend, however, thinks it is rude and dismissive. I've since checked this with a bunch of other people and I get a surprisingly mixed response. Anyway.... good puzzle today. An easy Saturday for me, which is rare.

Unknown 5:54 AM  

possibly dot com?

Hungry Mother 5:56 AM  

Not too bad this morning. When I finish before I have to leave for my usual Saturday race, it’s a good day. I have a half hour to spare today.

Lewis 6:10 AM  

There was some deliciously wicked/clever cluing in this one, including, among others, clues for ROCKETTES, DIVOT, FORK, STRING ORCHESTRA, and AMEND.

After a smooth-for-Saturday completion of the upper half, the South fought me at every turn, to where every word I got was an exciting breakthrough, one high after another, a percussion of joy bombs that left me, at the successful conclusion, energized and elated. That's my kind of puzzle. Thank you for this, Jason!

Anonymous 6:40 AM  

A lot of French in here. I guess they're pretty pretty full of themselves lately.

Anonymous 6:46 AM  

Dot is used in multiplication.

QuasiMojo 6:46 AM  

I humbly disagree with Matt. This was an excellent puzzle. If there aren't some headscratchers in a Saturday crossword then it isn't worth doing. NEROLI was new to me but it fills in easily if you get the acrosses. So no problem there. Same with some of the other stuff such as PEELE whom I've never heard of.

DOT seems to be the "colon" symbol when you spell out a time. Such as 6:30 when I started this puzzle.

IRES with an S works since it is in the verb form.

I had BERM before FORK.

Loved the clue for NO I IN TEAM. There's no U in there either.

De 7:28 AM  

When multiplying, instead of x it can be •

Mohammed Reza Pahlavi 7:40 AM  

For me the bottom half fell in no time but the top part took forever. If you don’t ride a camel you ain’t Shiite.

'merican in Paris 7:43 AM  

ELO, EDO, ENO, everyBODy!

Not a pretty-looking grid, but wow those grid-spanners! I had fun sussing them out, and they actually caused me less grief than the three-letter downers. Indeed, I DNF because I did not catch LSD and had entered p(ost-traumatic)S(tress)D(isorder). Once I clicked on "reveal error" and entered the "L", I realised that in fact I did know K-TEL. But that name just wouldn't come to me on its own.

One particular pair of three-letter answers slowed me up quite a bit: 27D ("Pose") and 40A ("Good name for a model?"). I had sit and then Act, and either one would have given tIT for 40A. Fortunately I assumed the NYT would never allow that, so I persisted and eventually got ASK and KIT.

Ooh-la-la, there certainly were a ot of French references in this puzzle: LA COSTE, LES, LUI, ONDES, SENS (= smell), TROP. Even ORDERED A LA CARTE is a bit of Franglais.

Seems Mr. Flinn was taking a bit of a risk with G-SEVEN. By the time this puzzle had been published, it might have already gone back to the G-8!

I have never seen STOGie spelled as STOGY. Googling the words "cigar" and "STOGIE" together I get 453,000 hits. With "cigar" and "STOGY" together I get 1/27th that number (17,500 hits). I guess I'll make a mental note to LEARN that one for the future.


benjaminthomas 7:48 AM  

I've never seen dot used in multiplication. Always either x or *. Maybe I've lived a sheltered (from mathematicians) life?

QuasiMojo 7:49 AM  

Thanks for the info about the dot. I sure had that wrong. Lol. There’s a dot in sports times too. 33.33 seconds for instance.

Birchbark 8:00 AM  

Yesterday I lost precious TERA-seconds by misreading the "Pleasant p[l]ace" clue.

Today, I solved at a very pleasant pace. But then spent nearly ten minutes GO[ING] OVER IT AGAIN and again to figure out why no "Congratulations!" music. I looked at every answer, deployed logic, finally consulted ancient tomes of forgotten lore to confirm ELAM, SORA (interesting bird), and CaLIA -- wait a minute, not even the medical dictionary has that one. But how could it be otherwise? Because obviously THERES NO a IN TEAM -- as it turns out, there is an "a" in TEAM. I learn something new in crosswords every day.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Struggled, came in right around "normal" (17 minutes) but definitely a challenge.

Last to fall were ASK, KIT, DOT, and SUITED... Had Act at 27D (Pose) for a long time, and needed the comments here to understand the clue for DOT. For the briefest of moments I tried to figure out whether tIT was a good name for a model. :o

The long answers proved gettable, but the ones at the top put up the most resistance.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Larry Gilstrap, it's CRAPE myrtle, for the record. Might be of help in a future crossword, just sayin.

Irene 8:05 AM  

Like many other commenters, I love the long stacks. Nothing as bracing as seeing just a few far-spaced letters and having the whole phrase pop into your brain. But for some reason Rex, and now his substitute Matt, hate them. Are they something that the cognoscenti know better than to enjoy?

Good ol' Joe 8:07 AM  

Super impressive constructing, but I always feel about the same after doing these super stacks. It’s like looking for your car keys - takes forever and not much fun, but you have to do it before you can do what you really wanted to do today.

Still, tip of the hat to the constructor, I sure couldn’t make one.

Mohair Sam 8:10 AM  

My favorite puzzle day is Saturday. My favorite puzzles are stacks. Woke up to two quad stacked grid-spanners! I'm in heaven.

Everything @Lewis said - except we had the opposite solving experience - zipped through the bottom and struggled up top. NEROLI, ONDES, PEELE (have seen his delightful Obama but didn't know his name), and SORA all new to us. But a Saturday without new words is a Wednesday.

Once again - There is no "I" in TEAM, but there is an "M" and an "E". (is that an Alan Iverson quote?)

@Theodore Stamos - I'm with you on YEP - I use it a lot and it's meant and taken as happy and friendly yes.

Awesome cluing, great misdirects - I'm telling it like it is - great Saturday puzz Jason Flinn, thank you.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Speaking as a mathematician, a (vertically centered) dot is common amongst mathematicians and preferred over the multiplication "x" symbol (which is almost never used) for multiplcication of numbers, for a few reasons. Though juxtaposition without any symbol is used whenever feasible; the dot is used when the multiplication should be made more explicit. The "x" is used for other kinds of "multiplication" such as the cross product of vectors or the Cartesian product of sets. That said, I didn't make the connection in filling in the puzzle either. I kept thinking the NYT. Then when I had DOT,I assumed it was an obscure reference to a URL for some reason.

Anyway, this was a great Saturday puzzle. Disappointed to see guest bloggers carry on RP's prevailing negative attitude that has kept me away from this place.

FLAC 8:24 AM  

Or maybe even “Much-covered Tim Hardin composition ” At least one member of the 58a would have appreciated that even more.

Teedmn 8:26 AM  

Guessing with no crosses at all that 16A would be THERE'S NO I IN TEAM and confirming with STOGY, IRES and ROAR had me thinking this would be a really easy Saturday. The top third did nothing to disabuse me of that notion. But below ODIN and SEXY, the difficulty ramped up and I ended up with my average 26 minute Saturday in the end.

I have finally remembered 2/3 of XK_ Jaguars and I was able to come up with the E after running the alphabet. This proved my salvation in the lower part after the RED-ENO crossing got me nowhere fast. SORA is not in my crosswordese lexicon (and neither was NEROLI but crosses helped there). I thought 46A might be MLB rather than PGA and the L would make the air freshener name be Lysol. YEP, if not for figuring out XKE, which led to NEEDS which led to NEG which led to CIGS, which led to DESCRIBES, etc. etc., I might still be working on this puzzle.

Nice job, Jason Flinn. I always love stack puzzles.

And I just did the July 14th Saturday Stumper by Erik Agard which M&A mentioned last week. HOO BOY, was that tough and I'm still pumped that I finished it successfully.

Mohair Sam 8:29 AM  

DOT discussion - Lady M thought it was the dot over the "i" in Times. Lotsa ways to get 24D right I guess.

RooMonster 8:40 AM  

Hey All !
Same solving process as @GHarris 12:33. Keep hitting Check Puzzle to "aid" in getting wrong answers out, because otherwise with stacks like this, if you rely on wrong letters, you'll (me) never finish the puz.

I did like this one. Those stacks always seem daunting when you first see them. But chipping away little by little nets you some ground to tackle 'em. Only a tiny bit of dreck, tough to do with stacks like this and get clean Downs. Nice job, Jason. Even got that extra 15 in the middle.

Left/ right symmetry, in case anyone missed that.

THERES NO I IN TEAM, but there is an ME. (Old line...)


tb 8:45 AM  

I'm calling bullshit on the ageism here. Knowing ELAM, LUI, EDO and ELO have nothing to do with your age, but how well-read or educated you are. ELAM? So is anyone reading this blog old enough to have a living memory of ELAM? Knowledge of French requires you to be old?

I'm of a different generation and I know who Jordan PEELE is.

Give me a breeak.

JE Richardson 8:47 AM  

I think it must be multiplication. A dot product.

Questinia 8:50 AM  

NEROLI is not Maleska-esque. It is anima to the usual animus of YATITTLE, ALOU, and the like. Dropped it in without a cross.


Unknown 8:50 AM  

Multiplication symbol

Matthew G. 8:54 AM  

“Sign of the times” probably refers to multiplication. Although X is sometimes used as the times sign, a dot is also sometimes used, in order to avoid confusion with X as a variable.

Suzie Q 8:58 AM  

I liked this OK and appreciated some of the misdirection like the clue Pose. Could be Act but no, it's Ask. Good stuff.
OTOH that little French jam-up of 5D, 20A, & 7D made me just have to guess.
A couple of nice pairings in stogy/cigs, stag/alone.
The only Elam I know is Jack.
Scary looking grid but at least the long answers were real phrases.
I'm glad Saw around the locker room had nothing to do with peep holes!

agarlock 9:05 AM  

Multiplication ("times"), often written with a dot between numbers rather than an 'x'.

Moly Shu 9:06 AM  

I like these stacked puzzles. They look impossible but as you plug along, the answers seem to appear out of nowhere. Act before ASK held the middle section up for a while but finally took everything out and rebooted. KIT came to mind and it was over. Nice one.

@TheodoreStamos, yep I agree with you.

@Z, August 21,2018. 18 months buddy. Sorry (not sorry). You can call him names, disparage his supporters, cry and complain all you want about the outrage of the day, but facts are facts. And facts matter. Here is another fact, I’m gonna get liquored up when I receive your payment. Who knows, I might even fire up a victory STOGY and listen to some SEXY KTEL.

puzzlecrone 9:07 AM  

I think it’s multiplication—3 „times“ 2=6. 3•2=6

Dr Fancypants 9:12 AM  

Every college-level math class (in the US, anyway) uses the dot as the multiplication symbol. Probably also high school-level classes.

TOCraig 9:16 AM  

Very astute!

TOCraig 9:17 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle. Lots of great clues and answers. Thank you!

GILL I. 9:34 AM  

@MAS gave me the stacks bug a long time ago. I've loved them since and I love them now.
This was the easiest Sat. in ages. It seemed like just one little letter would give me the entire shebang. It's scary when that happens because I'm a pen lady and once you commit, you commit for good so you better be sure....
I had STOGY at 1D. I know my CIGS. With that Y at the end I got my YEP. @Theodore 5:41. I use YEP all the time. I also use Yer Darn Tootin. I mean I wouldn't exactly say that to the President of the UsofA (well, maybe I would today because those are the words he seems to understand), but the clue did say informal.
44A was a bit of a hold up. I bum rides sometimes. I did have a friend, though, who bummed CIGS from everyone. She was an ex-smoker and you could not put a drink in front of her without her screaming for a STOGY. I think that's the reason she stopped drinking...
Going to the basement, I plunked TROP in at 53D and with just those words, (and filled with trepidation), I got TELLS IT LIKE IT IS. Fun.
I think this was a gettable puzzle. The little threes might be glue and all that but they certainly helped me get the stacks. I like that.
OLDER GENERATION is such a polite way to say bunch of geezers.

sharon 9:41 AM  

In the US, a dot between numbers means "multiply" or "times." 7 · 3 = 21 or x · y = xy

Unknown 9:46 AM  

Arithmetic operation. In algebra you use a dot to show multiplication instead of an x

TomAz 9:47 AM  

NEROLI is also the name of an album by Brian ENO. It's rather abstract ambient music, relaxing if you don't think about it, a bit perplexing if you do. You sure won't find it on K-TEL.

I enjoyed this puzzle. Sussing out the long crosses was rewarding.

DOT held me up for a while. Last night while solving with a glass of wine I wound up deciding not to question it and dropped that T in there. Only this morning did the interpretation noted above (@ 7:28a) occur to me.

Had ACT for "Pose" for too long as well. Which meant the name of the model at 40A would have been tIT. Which, you know, would have been.. something.

Brian 9:49 AM  

10:30am has dots?

TomAz 9:49 AM  

Oh I posted before I read all the comments -- I see I was not the only person recognizing their mistake at 40A!

Teddi and Teddy 9:53 AM  

North was harder for us. Dang top one. We has first violinists and all manner of other dross. Finally things fell into place after ASK revealed itself (had Act for the longest time)
Dunno KTEL but somehow it seemed right.
Good one! But over our average time.
Haha! Guest blogger alert !
Trigger alert, no FL to kick around, may cause distress.

TD 9:55 AM  

Sometimes a dot is used as the multiplication operator instead of an x.

mathgent 10:00 AM  

I enjoy grid spanners and all nine of them here were good. When a fifteen pops into my head where I only have two or three of its letters, I am hit with what @Lewis (6:10) charmingly calls a joy bomb.

Getting it with just one mistake (nerodi instead of NEROLI) made me feel smart.

Why having done this puzzle for sixty years helps: I filled in ONDES immediately even though I don't know French.

I do the puzzle on paper. Is it true that when online solvers have filled in all the squares with some mistakes, they are so informed? Are the mistakes identified? Then the solver can change entries until the correct solution is achieved?

I liked the video of Rene Lacoste playing tennis. When I first started playing, we all wore his polo shirts with the little crocodile sewn on.

What a well crafted work. Crunch, sparkle, several new facts. Bravo!

kitshef 10:09 AM  

Old fashioned Saturday toughie. OLDER GENERATION is kinda weak, but with nine grid-spanners one was bound to of lesser quality. The rest are all good +.

I’d’ve gone with “little angels” and “little devils” for DARLINGS and STINKERS.

kitshef 10:21 AM  

@mathgent - it depends on what platform you use to solve online, and in some cases on the settings you use. I use, which does not tell you anything. Only when you think you are done do you click "submit puzzle". Then you find out if your submission is right.

TubaDon 10:30 AM  

     Paper delivery was late so I had breakfast first, and needed the energy to solve those stacks. Got the top one by trying to fit VIOLIN, CELLO, etc in, and finally got to STRING, temporarily sidetracked by GIGABYTES. In the bottom I was finally able to TELL IT LIKE IT IS. My limited exposure to French got me ONDES right away but I had to struggle to recall LUI, Despite being well acquainted with DOT and cross products, that T was the last letter in. I thought puzzle was tough but fair. Good clues for KIT, ROCKETTES, DIVOT.

Pete 10:30 AM  

I have no idea what the constructor or editor thought the clue for DOT meant, but as a mathematician I can state definitively that the multiplication is an asterisk not a dot. A dot would be ill defined as you would never know if it was a multiplication symbol or a decimal point if the dot wasn't perfectly placed at the bottom of line. 23*5 = 115, not 23.5 = 115.

Bertie 10:31 AM  

Yes! None of us lived in the Edo shogunate or in ancient Elam.

AW 10:37 AM  

The members of a string orchestra sit ON the stage? I thought orchestras performed from the orchestra pit BELOW the stage.

Wm. C. 10:37 AM  

@Teedmn8:26 --

I threw in XKE at 26D ("Classic Jaguar") right away. One of my Fraternity Brothers had one, a gift from his Dad, an object of envy to the rest of us. I did have a TR4A, but it was always in the shop.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

The multiplication dot or dot operator U+22C5 ⋅ dot operator (HTML ⋅ · ⋅)) indicates multiplication and is optionally used instead of the styled × for multiplication of real numbers: a ⋅ b is equivalent to a × b or "a times b". The same sign is also used in vector multiplication to discriminate between the scalar product (a ⋅ b) and the vector cross product (a × b) or exterior product (a ∧ b). As a multiplication operator, it is also encountered in symbols for compound units such as the newton-meter (N·m or N⋅m). The multiplication dot is a separate Unicode character (U+22C5), but is often silently replaced by the interpunct or bullet (U+2022 • bullet (HTML • · •)), another similar glyph which is intended for lists.

Nancy 10:40 AM  

This must be what is meant by being on a constructor's wavelength. I saw every one of the long answers from just two or three crossing letters. Since it's Saturday, I checked all of them against a few more letters before writing anything in, but my initial inclination was right in all cases.

Only hiccup: My first answer to "Pose" (27D) was ACT instead of ASK. Giving me TIT as the answer to "Good name for a model?" "Gosh, I certainly hope not!!" was what I thought before the first S in SUITED ONE'S NEEDS enabled me to correct.

Very nice junk-free puzzle, with vernacular phrases that were very fairly and accurately clued. I enjoyed it a lot -- though it was over much too quickly.

Ellen S 10:41 AM  

I used to flinch whenever I’d see a quad stack, but I think those were the ones constructed by ... I can’t remember, you youngsters know who I mean. Patrick Berry? Or ...? I turned 75 two days ago, now definitely part of an OLDER GENERATION, can’t remember nothin’, but this puzzle was dead easy. (Maybe at the 3/4 century mark, I shouldn’t toss around words like “dead” so casually.). I finished the Friday puzzle this morning, after working at it all evening, and finally corrected headTOTAIL to NOSETOTAIL and filled in the last of it. I finished the Saturday in, oh, I don’t know, maybe 20 minutes.

It was fun, but not nearly the challenge that Friday’s posed. Thankee both, Mr. Flinn and Ms. Weintraub.

Unknown 10:44 AM  

Saw around the locker room? Heard maybe

Odd Sock 10:47 AM  

Hey do you think that a dot might mean multiplication?
Why yes it does.....for the millionth time!
C'mon folks, don't be in such a rush to seem smarter than everyone else that you absolutely MUST post before reading the comments.

@ jae, Thanks for reminding me whose voice I was hearing as soon as I wrote "reason to believe." It's been bugging me all morning.

tb 10:49 AM  

@AW you have clearly never been to or seen an orchestra concert.

Mohair Sam 11:01 AM  

@AW (10:37) - I'm wondering how bad a pounding you're gonna take for that post.

Tom R 11:11 AM  

Good job on the blog, Matt. You are welcome back as far as I am concerned.

jb129 11:16 AM  

I thought I was on the constructor's wave length when I got "Tells it like it is" right away, but I had to work to stay there.

Nice Saturday puzzle!

old timer 11:29 AM  

I was sad when this one was complete. Took maybe a half-hour, and I would not have minded a slower and tougher solve.

As is often the case, I grokked the bottom stacks much faster than the top ones.

And as I've often observed, it is very useful to know French when you solve these late week puzzles. I wanted ONDES from the get-go.

Now I last took math over 50 years ago, but I remember a dot and not an asterisk was used to direct the multiplication of numbers. The dot, of course, was at the top or in the middle, never at the bottom.

mbr 11:33 AM  

@David Evans:
saw | sô |
a proverb or maxim.

Matthew G. 11:38 AM  

@David Evans, the “saw” here is not a verb. It’s a noun—as in “old saw,” meaning an adage or proverb. Hence the ?-style clue. THERE’S NO I IN TEAM is an old saw, indeed.

pabloinnh 12:00 PM  

Wait, a dot can mean multiplication (thanks Odd Sock). I now know way more about that than I need to.

@David Evans--"saw" here as in adage, axiom, saying. Now let's have twenty more people explain that one too, or maybe I'm twentieth by now, hard to say.

Great Saturday puzzle.

What She Said 12:07 PM  

@David Evans: It’s a bit of misdirection that relies on “saw” as a noun, hence the question mark. (Mission accomplished, I was highly distracted by visions of my favorite players in the altogether...SEXY BOD ORDERED A LA CARTE)

JC66 12:40 PM  


I solve in Across Lite and, when I finish I get a musical tone & "Happy Pencil" to indicate no errors. If I don't get the "HP" I know I've made at least one mistake and can either attempt to hunt it down (which is what I do)

or 1. click the "Check" icon at the top and a BIG X will appears over all incorrect letters. You then have the opportunity to make changes

or 2. click the "Reveal" icon at the top and the incorrect letter(s) will be auto-corrected with a little red triangle in the corner.

You may have noticed that some commenters here will use the "Check" button while solving as a half-way cheat to avoid Googling.

Unknown 12:41 PM  

Considering how many different interpretations there are about the meaning of 24D: Sign of the times?, I think it's safe to say it's a terrible clue that should never be used again.

Banana Diaquiri 12:47 PM  


only when your waiting for the fat lady to sing

jberg 1:16 PM  

@AW, people are being mean to you, it's an honest mistake. At a symphony, the orchestra sits on the stage; at an opera or musical, they are down there in the pit.

Tough for me, but I finally got it. I knew 12D could be either 'solo' or 'lone' so I just wrote in the O and left the other squares blank. Then I thought that fOg could cover a lot of ground, and that to 'mug' for the camera was a kind of pose. That one hurt, as it led to 'most' for ALSO, the REendorse for REDEPOSIT, and no ability to see KIT (great clue!) at all.

But it all sorted out, and was very enjoyable along the way-- so it was a fine puzzle.

Larry Gilstrap 1:24 PM  

Scared me there for a moment. Mistakes happen, but I see two acceptable spellings. I’ve only ever seen crepe, must be regional.

Masked and Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Possible {Sign of the times?} = DOT explanations:
* Dot is sumtimes used as a multiplication (times) sign, in math [fave].
* Dot is used a lot in url-names, in modern times.
* The word "times" has a DOTted "i" in it.
* Dot-matrix printers maybe are still used at the NY Times? [least fave].
* Dot is a decimal point, which is sometimes used in times of the day [12.15 pm, etc.] Dot is part of a colon, which is also used in such times.

M&A started in the weeds [central grid part]. Worked out pretty well. First weed breakout: STINKERS.
staff weeject pick: DOT. Due to its clue of mystery.

This E-W symmetry is a good way to go, for the constructioneer, when U have 4-deep 15-stacks at the top and bottom. Can finagle the lengths of yer potential crossers better.

Thanx, Mr. Flinn. Feisty but fair.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Joe Bleaux 2:28 PM  

Dunno about that, but FWIW, Lawrenceville, GA bills itself as the Crape Myrtle City. (And locally, it's Larryville.)

Joe Bleaux 2:34 PM  

As usual, the old late poster has little to say that hasn't been said -- Saturday stacks, very well constructed, challenging but mucho fun. I was gonna say that my easier-in-the-south solve was the flip side of @Lewis's, but damned if @Mohair didn't come along at even beat me to that! Happy weekend, all.

Sam K 2:53 PM  

Ah, thank you! I was wondering the same thing.

foxaroni 3:17 PM  

@okanaganer--thanks for the K-Tel link. What a hoot--"heavy hits" by The Mike Curb Congregation, Mark Lindsay and the Hollies! (The only "heavy" thing about the Hollies hit is in the title, He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.)

Loved the puzzle, although my lack of French was a problem--the pronoun and French wave were complete unknowns.

And did you know a dot is sometimes used in place of an "x" in multiplication, and in URLs? Oh...someone mentioned that already (a hundred times)? LOL!

OISK 3:44 PM  

Enjoyed this one ! Was trying to remember the last time I sora sora. (Two years ago in Texas) Didn't know that Odin had one eye despite having seen Das Rheingold. The use of * to mean "times" is fairly recent, isn't it?

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Hey friends,
I do the puzzle daily dead tree style. I read this blog daily. I beseech you, what was the clue for sora? Im on vacation, the worlds worst by the way, and havent seen the Times in 5 days. Im so addicted to this damn blog, that i dropped by for some comfort. Im a birder too, and there aint a damn thing flying, sitting, calling or creeping in Holland, Michigan.
Thanks in advance.

pabloinnh 4:34 PM  

@OISK--Yeah (or yep), I wondered about the god clue too, but then I remembered that there's only one i in Odin.

JC66 4:44 PM  

@Anon 4:18

The clue for SORA was Marsh bird.


Haha. You had me until I checked Google images. Yes, there's only one EYE in Odin.

Birchbark 5:02 PM  

@anonymous (4:18) -- The clue for SORA was pretty generic: "Marsh bird."

In my 1944 edition of "Birds of America," contributing editor Herbert K. Job says "From their arrival in May until their final departure south in October, they live in close retirement and are seldom seen. But throw a stone into one of those seemingly endless bogs, and it is surprising what a chorus of yells and cackling sounds may arise, as though its coverts sheltered a sizable poultry farm."

The sora is a type of rail, often compared to the Virginia rail, which I know are in the nearby wetlands but have not to my knowledge seen. Roberts' "Birds of Minnesota" quotes, "Even the piping of a single bird would awaken the others into giving vent to their cries, so that the lake resounded from shore to shore." So maybe I've heard them.

This is a long answer to your brief request, but I felt that the "Marsh bird" clue could use a little bolstering.

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

Anon 4:18 -- You're taking your vacation in Holland, Michigan?

Unknown 6:03 PM  

Hateful. DNF.

Anonymous 6:19 PM  

Thank you! Im actually a big fan of soras and virginias.

Anon 6:00,
Yes. Its awful!!! I just returned from Mass at Our Lady Of the Lake. I figured, at least I'd get some joy there. Wrong again!
Wow! What a place.

sanfranman59 7:24 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 4:54 4:30 1.09 71.5% Medium-Challenging
Tue 3:40 5:14 0.70 1.8% Very Easy
Wed 12:33 6:45 1.86 99.4% Very Challenging
Thu 9:41 9:46 0.99 49.1% Medium
Fri 11:19 12:35 0.90 40.2% Medium
Sat 27:41 15:59 1.73 96.2% Very Challenging

Does anyone happen to know if a dot can be used as a multiplication symbol in math? Having read through all of the comments here, I don't think anyone has discussed this yet.

I knew I was in for a tussle when I saw the constructor. I'd averaged about 7% above my normal solve time on his 14 previous NYT puzzles and 16% above on his 4 previous Saturdays.

I struck out at first in the north, so I started poking around elsewhere. I managed to get a small foothold with XKE (26D), SEXY (25A) and KTEL (32A) that ended with TERABYTES (13D) as a passageway into the north that I couldn't really use until later.

I then floundered around in the middle for a bit and then managed to ride SHIITE (45D) down into the south which I was able to work my way through in about 5 minutes. REASON TO BE aliVE made things a little tougher down there than they might have been. It still took me another 13 minutes to get through the rest (most of the north and west of the Rockies in the center).

My roadblocks were TROP (53D), ELAM (55D ... I had EdoM), NEROLI (5D), ONDES (7D) and the threes in the ASK (27D)/LUI (28D)/KIT (40A)/DOT (24D) area. I really didn't like DOT clued as "Sign of the times?".

It was satisfying just to get through this.

MetroGnome 8:05 PM  

Jae --

"Rod Stewart hit?" Try "Tim Hardin song" (which it was originally). If ye'r gonna represent as OLDER GENERATION, then y'better know yer stuff!

DigitalDan 8:13 PM  

Knew ONDES from the ondes martenot, a crazy theramin-like instrument that may have been used to create the original Star Trek theme.

DigitalDan 8:14 PM  

Dot is indeed a common symbol for multiplication in math.

jae 9:18 PM  

@Metro - I did know it was Tim Hardin song also covered by the Carpenters, but the version that sticks in my 58a memory was Stewart’s which was on the flip side of Maggie May. It’s was the only version to ride the charts for an extended period of time.

Adam 11:50 PM  

TEETH instead of RATIO (great clue and answer) and SOLO before STAG threw me at the top, but I knew 1A was something to do with strings (I wanted FIRST VIOLINISTS, but knew better than to put it in).


SORA? FALSER? Bleh. But overall I thought it was a challenging and enjoyable Saturday puzzle.

Bill Weeden 7:47 AM  

For the record: Jordan Peele, though he should have won IMO, did not win the Oscar.

SJ Austin 11:35 AM  

Great review, please come back again.

Unknown 7:52 PM  

As in 6 pm on the dot

Unknown 11:27 PM  

Marsh bird

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Peeled won for original screenplay, not director. Great movie.

Unknown 2:14 PM  

Peeled won for original screenplay, not director. Great movie.

Burma Shave 11:29 AM  


ALONE in the GLADE they made a DIVOT in the SOD.


rondo 12:24 PM  

One write-over because my first 27d pose was Act before ASK; it made for an interesting model's name before KIT was there. My RATIO was roughly 5X the blogster's time today; the price of deliberation. I really held off on 1d, but they tell me THERESNOIIN STOGY (isn't it STOGie?).

Whole lotta French in here today. ONDES LES LUI ALACARTE LACOSTE SHIITE.

A lineup of yeah babies with all those SEXY ROCKETTES, those DARLINGS.

Pretty good puz even with some stack STINKERS.

spacecraft 12:29 PM  

Today my DOD cup runneth over: a whole chorus line of SEXY ROCKETTES! This one was very tough to get started, at XKE/KTEL. Off SEXY, the -YT- combo had to be -BYTES, but how many? TERA? GigA? Probably not kilo; that's not very large. All over I was getting ends of answers: -ONESNEEDS. What? Turns out "fit" is ALSO the past tense of "fit." That's how they getcha; "put," "cut" and the like.

Like many, I had the most trouble with the central west. For the longest time I had Act as the answer for "Pose," as when Julia Roberts was Tess posing (acting) as Julia Roberts in "Ocean's Twelve," the flick that gave us words to live by:

"I want the last check I BOUNCE!"

Alas, the recipient will have to REDEPOSIT it. Anyway, I ALSO wanted LES for the pronoun--except LES was already in the grid! But eventually I "work[ed] it on out" to be LUI, LUI, oh, baby...

Of course: KIT. THAT kind of model. Still dazzled by those ROCKETTES, I guess. And pose (a question) is ASK. Brutal, but then again this IS Saturday. So in the end, this puzzle SUITEDONESNEEDS for a good end-week workout. Birdie.

Jaime 12:41 PM  

Hahaha that’s hilarious

leftcoastTAM 3:42 PM  

Agree with Rex's take on this puzzle, but liked it more than he seemed to.

Again, the long, stacked acrosses helped with the solve as the patterns emerge fairly clearly from the down crosses. And they (the stacks) were all good ones.

Among the more challenging downs were:

FALSER and DOT were WOEs, but fell in line, though I'm still not sure how "Sign of the times"=DOT.

First time in a while that I found both Friday and Saturday so pleasantly solver-friendly. Thanks for the break, Mr. Flinn and Mr. Shortz (and Ms. Weintraub).

leftcoastTAM 3:49 PM  

Oh, it did fleetingly cross my mind that the DOT is a multiplication sign, but I didn't register it. (Short term memory problem?)

thefogman 3:58 PM  

Late to the party today. I have REASONTOBELIEVE OFL's critique of this puzzle would have sounded a lot like the sweet music of a STRINGORCHESTRA. Alas, it was not to be and we'll never know if he judged it to be one of those rare and delightful themeless DARLINGS he is so fond of, or just another Saturday STINKER. Instead, his substitute Matt TELLSITLIKEITIS while Rex is on HIATUS. On a scale of one to ten I would give it... GSEVEN...gosh maybe eight. At the very least, one can say it SUITEDONESNEEDS. Anyhow, if PEERASSESSMENTS from the OLDERGEBERATION like myself make you want to THROE up, just reach for the ENO.

rainforest 5:31 PM  

Somehow, reading the comments, I get the impression that DOT might refer to a frequently used sign for multiplication. Sheesh.

I'd call this medium-challenging overall. First entry was XKE, followed by SEXY, KTEL, some number of BYTES, NEEDS, EDO, NEG, et al, and thus got the back ends of the first five 15s.

Completing the North took a little effort, not knowing NEROLI and having to work out CILIA and HIATUS.

I found the South easier and finished relativeily quickly, for me.
All in all, pretty enjoyable.

Waxy in Montreal 7:09 PM  

As a member of the OLDERGENERATION, DOTage has become a sad sign of the times for too many of us.

Great puzzle, especially the stacks. 53A might have been clued "Talks like Cosell". Once tried to explain THERESNOIINTEAM in French to a group of young hockey players - epic failure as there actually is an I in équipe, the French mot for team.

FORK reminded me of one of the greatest Yogi-isms ever - "when you come to a fork in the road, take it".

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