Lead female role in "Singin' in the Rain" / SAT 8/18/18 / TV host who won a Mark Twain Prize for American Humor / Lee with three Oscar-garnering films / In-pool fitness program / Tea party member

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:41 - the app says my average is 13-something, but it's probably right about 10-11)

THEME: Themeless

Word of the Day: SKIPJACKS (1A: Certain fish ... or sailboats) —
The skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) is a medium-sized perciform fish in the tuna family, Scombridae. It is otherwise known as the akuarctic bonitomushmouthoceanic bonitostriped tuna, or victor fish.
The skipjack is a traditional fishing boat used on the Chesapeake Bay for oyster dredging. It is a sailboat which succeeded the bugeye as the chief oystering boat on the bay, and it remains in service due to laws restricting the use of powerboats in the Maryland state oyster fishery. 
• • •
Hello there, puzzlers! Morgan here, filling in for Rex while he (and presumably every possible other guest blogger on the planet) is having a ball at Lollapuzzoola. I'm not good enough to join them just yet, but maybe one of these years... This is my second time filling in here, so by now I should have this down pat, right?

This was a very well done Saturday puzzle with little bad to say about it. There's almost no bad fill, which is all the more remarkable because it's a pangram!

I started off pretty swiftly demolishing the NW (it helped to plunk down LAYSIEGETO with no crosses (16A: Beset, as a castle)). I'd just had a delicious omakase sushi dinner featuring SKIPJACKS last week (the fish, not the sailboats), so that one fell in quickly after our good friends ANG (6D: Lee with three Oscar-garnering films), JOE (5D: Regular guy), and CHESTER (7D: President between James and Grover).

From there I basically proceeded in order, knocking off the NE, then SW, then SE, and winding up in the middle. Along the way, I enjoyed AQUAZUMBA (11D: In-pool fitness program), which I wanted desperately to be AQUACISER or something like that. I also loved (nerd alert) AT ODDS crossing DATA MINERS (42D: Out of sync / 59A: Computer statisticians), because it obviously made me think of the courses I teach on logistic regression (however AT ODDS was right next to ATE AT (45D: Irked constantly), which is not great).

The reason this was average and not easy, for me, was the mid-west and center of the puzzle. I've never read, nor seen Alice in Wonderland, so I wasn't familiar with the term MARCH HARE (29A: Tea party member), and I could. not. parse. SHOE (19A: Makeshift fly swatter) crossing KATHY (8D: Lead female role in "Singin' in the Rain"). Plus STOOPS (9D: Gets down, in a way) felt like it could be STOMPS, so I stared at that section for a while before plunking in the H and hearing the "success" jingle.

So, overall, this is very strong effort, with very little questionable fill. CITYPLAZA (23A: Urban open space) seems a little green paint-ish. NOTA (51A: "___ problem") is not a good answer. And I don't really get the singular/plural situation on ADMIN (34A: Ones in charge, for short).


  • OH SANTA (40D: Mariah Carey holiday song that was a #1 Adult Contemporary hit) — As an AVOWed homosexual (58A: State as a matter of fact), I call shenanigans, because I have legitimately never heard of this song. That said, I'm a Jew, and while I've come around on virtually everything Christmas since marrying a WASP, I still hate Christmas music. 
  • MUDFACIAL (12D: Rejuvenating treatment at spa) — As I start my ninth year at USC and I no longer get confused for students, perhaps one of these will help me out?
  • OCARINA (36A: Primitive wind instrument) — I honestly only know this word from playing Ocarina of Time on N64.
  • ATTIC (38A: Story of past glories, maybe?) — I guess some people keep crap in their attics, which is better than using a Public Storage facility, but we just store cobwebs in ours. 
  • TWO (54D: Derek Jeter's retired number) — By coincidence, two is also the highest place Derek ever finished in the MVP voting. 
Signed, Morgan Polikoff for Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Morgan Polikoff on Twitter (but not if you don't like posts about education policy and liberal politics)]
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Nick 11:55 PM  

But it’s saturday

BIG J 12:00 AM  

That's not the puzzle I solved

jae 12:17 AM  

Easy-medium. Solid Sat. AQUAZUMBA is a fine entry. Liked it.

Unknown 12:25 AM  

Friday's and Saturday's levels of difficulty are mixed up. Saturday was easy and Friday was unsolvable. What are the editors thinking?

Outside The Box 12:28 AM  

Good puzzle, solved it slowly but surely, but in the end it was enjoyable.

Harryp 12:48 AM  

Very easy week. I liked the 55Across clue, and also 34Across, but other than that, a fill in the blanks yawner.

Anonymous 1:31 AM  

Easy Saturday.

Larry Gilstrap 2:35 AM  

This Saturday effort came together pretty quickly for me. I flailed around that KATHY/SHOE cross. Half the girls I went to school with had that name or variant form, so why the struggle? Perhaps, most flies I kill are poised on a window or glass door and the thought of slipping off a size 11 brogan and smacking a pest wouldn't work. While we're killing things, arsenic was used as RAT POISON? What could go wrong? Wasn't it featured in that old movie "I Remember Momma"?

I used to be very active in group aerobic classes and now I live with a Soul Cycle junkie. I've heard of ZUMBA and I see no reason why the venue couldn't be a pool, but the phrase looks sketchy to my eyes. Curling, on the other hand, definitely needs an ice ARENA.

I grew up listening to the Beatles, but hear some younger folks complaining about their music. ELEANOR Rigby does seem a bit precious, even to my ears. The exception that proves the rule. Lately, I have been listening to early post-Beatle pre-Wings McCartney, his stripped down first album, the one where he plays all the instruments and sings. The guy is good.

puzzlehoarder 2:49 AM  

I can't believe this softball of a puzzle has the name Diehl on it. When I saw that name I expected to be up late. I guess everyone has their off days.

There was some fun stuff. The ZUMBA part of 11D was a bit of a surprise and OHSANTA being an unknown did present a momentary road block to the SE.

However CITYPLAZA easily let me come around through the SW. MARCHHARE was a surprise but when ISAAC, TASE, OCARINA, CAHN and MOAT go right in it's not hard to figure out.

Going into the SE you fly through material like ATODDS, ATEAT, TAM and AMP. It was like a review of crossword 101.

The NW was the last to go but it was no harder than the rest. My time was a minute faster than my Thursday solve.

I'd have posted much earlier but my son and I went out to a film noir revival. This was some 90s' movie with Billy Bob Thornton and Bill Paxtoncalled "One False Move." It was quite violent but good. The soundtrack had some terrific harmonica playing.

chefwen 3:29 AM  

Easiest Saturday in recent memory. Other than putting letters in the wrong boxes (in need of new glasses) not one write over.
FORETASTE was a little odd, I know foreshadow, but foretaste was a new one for me.

Loved the clue for DENTALEXAM and STOOPS.

Morgan, thanks for filling in.

'mericans in Ulster 5:05 AM  

Saturdays have become our favorite puzzle days, and this one didn't disappoint. Completed this while we were enjoying our morning JOE.

Some regular fill, like ANG, ABLE, ALUMS, AMP, ANG, HAD, and TASE, but lot's of PEPE new words or phrases. Our faves were SKIPJACKS, STETSON HAT, MARCH HARE, OCARINA, FORETASTE, DATA MINERS, STAMP PADS, and ACT OF LOVE. I would have clued 10A as "Mia __ (TWO-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion)", however.

LAYS SIEGE TO was timely, as yesterday we HAD a tour of Carrickfergus Castle, which is the first and best preserved of the Norman castles in Eire. It sits on a perfect site for a castle: a small isthmus jutting into Belfast Lough. Even though almost entirely surrounded by saltwater (rather than a MOAT), it has a freshwater spring, smack dab beneath the main keep, which enABLEd it to outlast long medieval SEIGES. Much later, CORPORALS and other soldiers garrisoned there would have watched as the RMS Titanic sailed out to sea on that fateful, MISTy April morning.

Nice write-up, Morgan. I had no problem with the collective noun of ADMIN, but I don't understand ADDER as the answer to 25D ("Summer"). Anybody?

Ellen S 5:25 AM  

I liked the puzzle okay except for 45D which I kept parsing as either A-TEAT (from watching my litter of foster kittens suckling on their mom, who is getting tired of this responsibility, and is Constantly Irked by their demands), or AT EAT, which didn’t make any sense so I was Irked every time I looked at it. ATE AT didn’t occur to me until after I finished the puzzle and had a beer.

Lewis 6:08 AM  

Solid solving experience. I put my nose to the grindstone, and by the time I opened my eyes, it was done. In between, there were plenty of huhs-to-ahas to keep things lively, and clues with spark (ATTIC, MARCH HARE, CORPORALS, and especially HEIR) to keep things lovely.

MARCHHARE and STAMPPADS, with those double letters ending and starting words, are cool looking, while RAT POISON doesn't look right next to ACT OF LOVE. My dog's name is CHESTER, and he will be happy to scamper after any MARCH HARE you throw in front of him, thank you, and I can assure you he'll never catch it, and even if he did, he would try to make friends with it.

Linda 6:34 AM  

One who does sums

Good ol' Joe 6:41 AM  

One who sums

Unknown 6:45 AM  

One who ADDS is an ADDER. They SUM up the total, so you could say they’re a SUMMER. I mean, I wouldn’t say it but I guess you could.

Greg 7:02 AM  

I would’ve probably broken my record for a Saturday if I hadn’t put undersiege instead of LAYSIEGETO. And at least the first couple of letters worked for MAdhatter.

Hungry Mother 7:24 AM  

I recovered from yesterday’s DNF to a speedy solve today. I love Alice in Wonderland references. I’m heading to Wellesley tonight to celebrate an octogenarian from Natick.

Teedmn 7:45 AM  

This took me 7 minutes fewer than yesterday's puzzle so it was too easy. At 12:49, it must be a Saturday PR for me and I was solving with my least favorite method - AcrossLite - because this NYC hotel WiFi isn’t working, grrr. Off to Lollapuzzoola soon.

My only writeover of note was (no idea why) having “esta” in place of AQUI at 15A. I know better but I seem to have thought “four letter Spanish word in a crossword, must be...” AQUA ZUMBA fixed that and made me realize we were in for a pangram so I'm grateful we had a guest blogger rather than the pangram-hating Rex.

My favorite clue today was 47D's “Exchanged some crosses” for BOXED. I was picturing a rosary swap, perhaps?

Thanks, Mark Diehl.

Brett 7:49 AM  

I love Mark Diehl Saturdays. They’re always hard but doable. Great way to start the weekend.

QuasiMojo 7:58 AM  

I loved the play ARSENIC AND MUD FACE.

Fun easy Saturday puzzle. I prefer more of a challenge but it's SUMMER and I have things to do. So no complaints.

I can never remember if that president is called ARTHUR CHESTER or CHESTER ARTHUR, perhaps because I'm a big fan of the writer Alfred Chester, author of "The Exquisite Corpse" which used to be a parlor game, something a victim of RAT POISON would not be. There were theories back in the day that Pope John Paul (the first) was murdered with arsenic, hence the eerie smile he had on his face when he died.

Didn't Hawthorne write a book called "TWICE TOLD TALES"? Nothing STALE about those. (apparently it's also a Vincent Price movie!)

I wonder if the MARCH HARE ended up jugged?

Morgan (le Fay?) Thank you so much for filling in. Your humor had me KEYed UP this morning. Come back soon.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

A very fair puzzle, with no real hiccups. Agree with most of the above comments.

Came in well below average at a tick over 9 minutes, but about two minutes shy of insane record territory. A nice reprieve from the usual Saturday slog.

Wm. C. 8:27 AM  

@HungryM7:24 --

My daughter lives in Natick and works at Wellesley College, but is hardly an octogenarian. ;-)

Debra 8:30 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle. Lots of range, from Act of Love to Rat Poison. Fun!

tb 8:37 AM  

Pleasant puzzle and a nice review.

John Child 8:38 AM  

What @QuasiMojo said. About half my normal Saturday time and a couple minutes faster than yesterday, so I second @Teedmn that the day selection was backwards. Good fun though to run down a Saturday puzzle though. Great to see 11 debut words plus one new to the Shortz era.

Suzie Q 8:40 AM  

Poison is a word you don't see every day but here it is again in the singular. It was clued in a medieval way yesterday and today we lay siege to a castle with a moat. Funny coincidence.
Sure seemed like a lot of names today and like someone earlier said my crossword Hamm is Mia not this Jon person. And my Pepe is LePew.
I couldn't begin to know even the main character's name in "Singin in the Rain" so there isn't a chance in hell I would know the female lead. Now that's obscure!
Derek Jeeter's jersey number?? I'm lucky to guess what sport he plays.
Still found some entertainment from this but not the challenge I was hoping for. But that's an editorial call and not Mark's fault.

Reasonablewoman 8:42 AM  

I don't mind a Saturday that is a little easier. I messed up at CAHN, had CoHN and caught it with help of "puzzle check" so DNF but solve was satisfying nonetheless. Speaking of DNF, Yesterday there were a few comments having to do with googling for spelling help and then claiming a finish because they guessed right. This is not of great importance but I'm curious. I thought any help means a DNF. Clarification anyone?

Carola 8:50 AM  

I'm surprised at the "too easy" comments - perhaps it was seeing Mark Diehl's name at the top that already had me thinking "challenging," but it turned out to be pleasantly so for me. Favorites were the NE corner, with the workout followed by some pampering and the jolt of RAT POISON so nicely AT ODDS with the ACT OF LOVE.

'mericans - Years and years ago, the first Puns & Anagrams puzzle I solved on my own included the clue "Summer snake," I was so proud of myself for getting ADDER right away that I've never forgotten it, and that occasionally comes in handy on crosswords, as today.

kitshef 8:59 AM  

Kind of a disappointment after yesterday. Some clunker answers like STETSON HAT and MUD FACIAL, that aren’t things anyone actually says. Also, SHOE as a fly swatter? I don’t think so.

Markedly easier than yesterday’s puzzle, with a lot of very literal cluing.

AQUA ZUMBA needs the ® symbol.

Odd Sock 9:03 AM  

Spiders get the shoe.
Those annoying gifs are giving me motion sickness.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

Boy, did I ever struggle with the NE. If Jon HAMM had only had a Mad Men clue, but he didn't, and I didn't know him from the clue provided. I'm also struggling with an in-pool fitness program that I never heard of. My own personal in-pool fitness program is called swimming.

Also had a problem with the other long answer in the NE at 12D. I'm going to pay you the big bucks to put mud on my face??? Actually, I'll pay you the big bucks not to put mud on my face. Or as they say in puzzle-land, EWW.

Is 43A always an HEIR? Suppose III hasn't any money to bequeath to IV? Oh, wait, I may be wrong. Families that have IIs and IIIs and IVs in their lineage almost always have money, right? It's called Old Money.*

*That's a joke, all you IIs, IIIs and IVs out there, Don't get mad at me, please.

Fun puzzle. Enjoyed it.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

A very fine solving experience.

Unknown 9:23 AM  

too easy for a saturday

Unknown 9:28 AM  

Not a Saturday. Maybe Wednesday at best.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Easier than Friday which was a DNF for me (once I had DOLTS instead of TWITS, I was doomed).

AdamW 9:30 AM  

I came here hoping to find an explanation for the seeming messup of ADMIN when it was clued as a plural. Anyone?

GILL I. 9:38 AM  

Like @Carola....I see Mark Diehl and I start to head for a stiff one if I'm solving at night. Today, I solved in the AM with a hot JOE and my trusty pen. Didn't have a single erasure.
JOE ANG gave me SKIP JACKS and I went sailing. AQUI gave me AQUA ZUMBA and so it went in the ATTIC section. THICKEN to MARCH HARE; OPIE to CORPORALS. OK take a breath, something is going to make you wonder what day of the week this is. My only serious pause was figuring our @Ellen's A TEAT. We get them a lot lately usually followed by a bra or a bird.
Easiest Saturday in ages for me and I liked all of it. Well, maybe not STETSON HAT. Isn't that redundant?
I've never had a MUD FACIAL. I do the charcoal ones. You should see my pups when I put that black gunk on my face. Moe does his "who the hell is this ugly person in front of me" impression. Speaking of....I don't think I've ever once used a SHOE to swat a fly. I laughed at @Larry's size 11 Brogan being tossed at a window. My best fly swatter/eaters are my two pups. Man, they can snatch a fly in seconds. I wonder if they taste as good as cheese.
@Morgan. Funny you mention hating Christmas music and being Jewish. Did you know that a ton of Christmas songs were written by Jews? Sammy CAHN wrote "Let it Snow" and Irving Berlin wrote "White Christmas" to name a few. I know what you mean, though. When I start to hear "Mele Kalikimaka" in September I want to hit someone. Then you throw Mariah Carey at me and I really want to use some CORPORAL injury on someone especially when she hits that screeching high note of hers that no person who has been born on this earth can reach. She's an alien.
@Reasonablewoman: I Google because I can. I'm a terrible speller. I may know the answer but unless I can get all the other answers crossing a word I can't spell, then I'll Google. People call it cheating. I call it being smart and finishing a puzzle and hoping that in the future I'll remember how to spell.

jberg 9:46 AM  

I agree that it was easier than yesterday, but harder for me because I confidently threw in 'panpipe' as that primitive wind instrument, and GyrateD for 'turned.' And then I forgot to check for the pangram! But a nice puzzle, and good writeup by @Morgan, thanks!

TubaDon 10:21 AM  

     Let me list my roadblocks first. MADHATTER and MOAT were the first answers I filled in. Only one of them survived. I also wanted SALT of the earth before I realized I had the S on the wrong ENDs. Had to start at the bottom and work up, ending by hoping that ZUMBA was an actual exercise. One minor quibble. EGRETS are common along the east as well as the gulf coast. They often visit my CT pond.

ArtO 10:21 AM  

Of course it was Easy! A rare Saturday completion. Cute write up, Morgan but IMHO TMI (personal, that is).

Lewis 10:34 AM  

@quasi -- Arsenic and Mud Face -- Hah!

GHarris 10:35 AM  

Ran with the big guys today. Solved a Saturday without a cheat or a write over. Was it easy or was it me?

FLAC 11:01 AM  

Good puzzle and good review. Not mind-bendingly difficult, but no snap either. Lots of pleasing long answers and very little dreck. It floated my boat.

Crimson Devil 11:03 AM  

Egrets were almost annihilated, for their plummage desired by millinery business, but saved by Tabasco’s McIlhenny family who persuaded Pres Teddy to declare Avery Island, LA, a sanctuary.

Whatsername 11:05 AM  

Summer/ADDER was a head slapper but in a good way. ADMIN could be interpreted as singular if referring to those in charge under the White House Administration. But Administrators in charge of hospitals etc. would more logically be thought of in the plural sense/ADMINS. That said, my first response to the “ones in charge for short” clue was neither case but rather the collective “management” - ergo MGMNT. I spent many years at a government agency where ADMIN was short for administrative staff – i.e. those in positions supporting management. Basically those who were not considered management and not a technical specialist were commonly referred to as ADMIN, both in the singular for an individual and plural for groups of staff. So in my mind, ADMIN does not equate to being in charge. However as the administrative assistant to the manager of the whole place, others often joked that I was actually the one in charge, not the manager who only did what I told him to do. So I guess in that sense it probably should. LOL.

An easy but enjoyable Saturday made even better by a pleasant and entertaining writeup. Thanks Morgan, nice job.

Z 11:11 AM  

Another solid Saturday from Diehl.

ADMINistrator or ADMINistration. Both are singular, but one is a group noun, allowing the plural cluing. Tricksy. Think ADMIN Building.

@Reasonablewoman - There are some who have argued that a wrong grid that’s completely filled is not a DNF. Others are okay with non-internet reference works. To each their own. If I finish the grid but don’t grok the theme I’ll consider it a DNF. I’ve had occasion, when solving electronically, to have a typo. Rather than scan a puzzle for errors I’ll just clear errors. If the wrong letter was what I intended I consider it a DNF. If I meant the right letter but typed a wrong letter I’ll consider it. “technical DNF.” But that’s me. How others slice it is fine by me.

'mericans in Ulster 11:12 AM  

@Good ol'JOE
@Shawangunk Solver

Thank you for setting me straight on "summer".

I don't understand why the constructor or Shortz would use a stupid clue like that, when nobody would ever refer to somebody as either "summer" or ADDER -- i.e., somebody who adds. Apparently ADDER exists in electronics, but that is a highly specialized usage. Just clue the snake, already, and choose an appropriate level of obscurity if you want make the cluing tough -- e.g., "Common name for Vipera berus".

old timer 11:18 AM  

I had sa writeover, "salt" instead of ENDS. I was slowed seriously by not remembering who preceded Grover Cleveland in his first of two separate terms.

Nice writeup, Morgan. Now buy yourself a copy of Alice. You will enjoy it, and the two Alice books should be part of everyone's mental furniture. Try "The annotated Alice"s to learn the most. I bet there's a bookstore near Hoover St that would have as copy,

a.corn 11:18 AM  

Wish the entire grid was as good as the SW corner, man those were fun. Couldn’t remember CHESTER and was falling asleep/seeing double kept reading 16A as “cattle” not “castle” so NE was unsolvable until I woke up and SLAPped it out.

Z 11:18 AM  

Re: Summer/ADDER - The whole snake/season/arithmetic conflation (i.e taking two or more distinct ideas and making them into one) is a crossword trope. ADDER is a very useful word to constructors so expect to see similar misdirections in the future.

Whatsername 11:30 AM  

@GILL I: Yes STETSONHAT is redundant. It’s called a Stetson and it goes without saying that it’s a hat - as in “That’s the biggest Stetson anyone ever wore to an inauguration. Period.” Just the other day I slipped off my flip-flop and smacked a fly on the wall. Works great, you should try it sometime. Also I’m with you on the Christmas music. That Hawaiian thing for some reason especially gets on my nerves. Even in August, I am leery of going to Hobby Lobby for fear I will hear it playing and start smashing the Christmas ornaments that have been on display since the Fourth of July. And finally, your rationale for googling is simply brilliant. You are a genius. Thanks!

RooMonster 11:59 AM  

Hey All !
Hey OCARINA! Har. That was my last square to fill (the N) after second-to-last square in MARCHHARE (the H). Obviously didn't know CAHN. (Picturing Kirk in Original StarTrek II movie yelling out KHAN! Or Spock in most recent Star Trek II movie [New version was a better yell IMHO :-)]) CAHN!

Thinking myself way smart and getting better at SatPuzs with a 26 minute even solve time, until I came here to find everyone else found it easy. Ego went Pfffttt.

AQUAZUMBA, wow, what a word. Nice to SHOEhorn that puppy in there. Also like the W seemingly crammed in to get the pangram.

Writeovers included ATOnal-ATODDS, Bump-BLIP, salt-ENDS, I (as in 1) gallONHAT-STETSONHAT (my funniest writeover!) Also had TAM in, then out, then saw it was correct.

So a nice, mostly easy, fun Saturday. It had not GONE BAD like some puzs. Not a DUDS or STALE offering. AVLE to KEYUP and BROIL through. OK, I'll stop. :-)


Bob Mills 12:05 PM  

Not hard for a Saturday. But some bizarre cluing, e.g., "SUMMER" for "adder." An adder is a snake, not someone who adds. Would anyone say "DIFFERENCER" for "someone who subtracts?"

Crimson Devil 12:23 PM  

That would be a “Lesser”.

Stanley Hudson 12:45 PM  

Tougher for me than for most of you. When I finally slugged through it I felt some satisfaction, but then came here to find out that I had been slow on the uptake. Oh well . . .

@Lewis, Best dog I ever owned was named Chester. Great with the kids when they were little and a real gentleman at all times. My family and I miss him still.

Barry Frain 12:46 PM  

Where the hell are Two Ponies and George Barany?

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Atlantasolver 1:14 PM  

Just did LAST Saturday's puzzle. You know what Hawaii has that Alaska doesn't? Interstate highways!

Banana Diaquiri 1:18 PM  

the part of a computer cpu that does addition is the adder which is part of the ALU, so one could coin SUMMER as a synonym.

Joe Bleaux 1:37 PM  

Your fun reply yesterday was beyond me. (But maybe with more than a wee dram of your fine Talisker, I could start speaking in the appropriate tongues. Cheers!)

pabloinnh 1:43 PM  

Flip flops and shoes, eh?

Years ago when we were running our summer resort in NH we always hired kids for various positions. One job was "cabin boy", and their duties were mowing and delivering firewood and so on. One of these guys was driving my pickup and delivering wood to a cabin and he noticed a big fly on the inside of the windshield, so he picked up the handiest weapon he had and swatted it. The problem is that what he used was a hammer. I'm not sure about the fly, but he killed the windshield.

Agree with many that this played as an easy Saturday, and that a little slack on the occasional Sat. is not a bad thing.

Joe Bleaux 1:46 PM  

Saturday and Diehl, no complaints. Coupla really nice clues already noted, and very clean fill. Thanks, Mark.
(@JC66, from yesterday: Ah, a TASTER in that "court" -- I was thinking Perry Mason. Thanks!)

Allie O’Brien 1:58 PM  

I liked this puzzle easyish, nice clean grid. By the way, what does being a homosexual have to do with knowing or not knowing a song ? I don’t understand. There are a lot of #1 songs that I‘ve heard of, including this one, but it was easily inferable from Xmas clue/answer.

Anoa Bob 2:17 PM  

Here's a simple demonstration of how our visual system works. Stare at a fixed point directly in front of you. Have someone stand off to the side of your visual field and then suddenly start waving some object, say a towel or rag or a SHOE. Try not to notice. Try not to shift your gaze over to the moving object. Difficult or impossible to do.

The reason is that the visual receptors in the outer part of the retina, the area that receives input from peripheral vision, are hard-wired from birth to be sensitive to and selectively respond to movement. It's a survival thing that helped our ancestors to detect and avoid/escape potential dangers, maybe an ADDER crawling through the grass.

So why someone would purposefully insert a image with movement in it within a body of text is curious, to say the least. Doing so means the peripheral retinal sensors will be stimulated and our visual focus will automatically be drawn away from the text and over to the movement. Most distracting, and annoyingly so, at least for me.

Maybe with time, one can learn to override that natural instinct to shift visual focus to a moving object. Maybe being born into the hand-held device age helps in that regard. Maybe young people these days even expect there to be some moving images mixed in with text and become bored and look elsewhere if it's not there. But put me in with the "Irked constantly" crowd.

Not dumping on today's write up. It happens so often in so many venues, even the online NYT. Is there any way to turn these infernal things off?

Okay, fully vented and feeling better. Thanks for your indulgence.

Oh, the puzzle. There are four two-for-one POCs in the grid. Can you find them?

Crimson Devil 2:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pliny the Elder 3:07 PM  

As an avowed horticulturalist, I call shenanigans on 11D. I have never heard of aquazumba.

emily 4:04 PM  

Aquazumba made me smile, water aerobics update.

emily 4:07 PM  

Thanks! I didn’t get it either!

Banana Diaquiri 4:37 PM  

@Allie O'Brien
what does being a homosexual have to do with knowing or not knowing a song ?

ummm... because, as any niche community, it has it's own brand of music. and thus may not be closely in touch with the cis community music:

I've not heard of even one of those. pale faces largely know nothing of urban black/latin/asian/etc. music. I sure don't. but it's not something I would avow out of context. (the question sounds vaguely familiar?)

RobertM 4:51 PM  

Morgan, sick burn on Jeter!

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

Sorry, I don't follow...

Allie O’Brien 6:25 PM  

@banana: so the niche of homosexuals is Christmas music. Gotcha. I’m cool with that. Learn something new every day.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

@anon 4:57 You either get a joke or you don’t. You didn’t. Move on.

Unknown 1:31 AM  

Got it!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah!!!!!!!

rondo 11:19 AM  

Finally got it, but in at least 3X the guest blogger's time because I HAD the MAdhatter, ampUP before the other AMP showed UP, salt before ENDS, and ate before HAD. Will have to remember the new HAMM in town is not yeah baby Mia. I enjoyed it, but didn't find it as easy as many others. Just glad to be ABLE to finish. Correctly.

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

Old math joke: Guy asks a friend to care for his pet snakes while he's away. "Don't let them get together; I don't want lots of babies to worry about." So he comes back--and the place is overrun with little crawlers. "What happened?"

"I figured there was no problem: they can't multiply 'cause they're ADDERS."

"Yeah , but you put them on a log table!"

Well, ya hadda be there. Today was no pushover, but yesterday's was tougher. Some attempts at sideways cluing; see 38-across. Generally, though, once I got a few letters into those longer entries, the answers came pretty swiftly. I proudly LAYSIEGETO the NW, then kind of wandered all about, finishing with BOXED ("Exchanged some crosses," another cool misdirect). Didn't notice it was a pangram till coming AQUI. Nice way to avoid AQUA going both directions.

I know I should wait for clarification on the ATE/HAD issue, but I didn't this time, so a mea culpa writeover there. Easy-medium. For DOD, I'll DATAMINE the clue set and nominate Mariah Carey. Very honorable mention to Mia HAMM. Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:55 AM  


To CRIER EGRETs is NOTA waste,
that CORPORAL'S one of the DUDS that she's HAD,


thefogman 1:02 PM  

Hi. ITSME again. Tough one, but I was ABLE to finish. I was LOST in the SE corner, which was the last to fall but not without a fight. I had to LAYSIEGETO it for quite some time before completing. Nicely done Mark Diehl.

leftcoastTAM 3:09 PM  

Fair, relatively easy, and mostly fun for what is usually a more grueling Saturday.

Crosses were very helpful, especially for the NW and SE 3-stacks, with the SE the last to go. The unknown OH SANTA didn't help a lot there, where the crossing stacks actually did help uncover Mariah.

I took ATTIC to refer obliquely to Greek stories of past glories. May be a bit off, but I like that better than the musty top story of a house.

Finally, wouldn't try to SLAP a fly with a SHOE; too clumsy and unwieldy for hitting flies that I know.

rainforest 4:47 PM  

I don't have a fly swatter, but I've used a slipper - sort of a shoe.

I didn't find this easy, but it was more or less medium for me. SKIPJACKS was my first thought for 1A, but I thought at the time that it couldn't be right, dammit. First thought for 17A was "under siege", but I held off and pecked away at the downs and lo and behold, SKIPJACKS was correct. Victory.

I moved fairly through the NE, across the middle and the SW, and then slowed right down in the SE. Thought "octopodes" might work for 61A (har), but the downs disallowed it. OH SANTA was a bit of inspiration, and the rest went in semi-easily.

Certainly easier than yesterday's but also certainly as much fun. AQUAZUMBA!

BS2 5:22 PM  

Or this way:


so to CRIER EGRETs is NOTA waste,
that CORPORAL'S one of the DUDS that she's HAD,


Diana,LIW 8:16 PM  

As always, I was pleased with what I did get. But I never heard of (or don't remember) SKIPJACKS, and I couldn't think of the MARCHHARE (tho I knew where the clue was going) to save my puzzle.

so dnf

but enjoyed the wordplay muchly.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, just an average JOE

harder crosswords please 3:29 AM  

WAY too easy!! Not very satisfying. I KEY UP for a crunchy, tough, Saturday challenge and I get a Wednesday level puzzle.

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