Bahn Vietnamese cake / SAT 9-29-18 / Classic film with screaming boy on its poster / Locale of America's deepest gorge / Algae touted as superfood

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging by the clock, but ... once I finally got traction it felt Easy-Medium, so ... dunno (9:23)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TROY OUNCE (27D: Gold standard) —
Troy weight is a system of units of mass customarily used for precious metals and gemstones. One troy ounce (abbreviated "t oz" or "oz t") is equal to 31.1034768 grams, (or about 1.0971 oz. avoirdupois, the "avoirdupois" ounce being the most common definition of an "ounce" in the US)] There are only 12 troy ounces per troy pound, rather than the 16 ounces per pound found in the more common avoirdupois system. However, the avoirdupois pound has 7000 grains whereas the troy pound has only 5760 grains (i.e. 12 × 480 grains). Both systems use the same grain defined by the international yard and pound agreement of 1959 as 0.06479891 grams. Therefore, the troy ounce is 480 grains or 31.10 grams, compared with the avoirdupois ounce, which is 437.5 grains or 28.35 grams. The troy ounce, then, is about 10% heavier (ratio 192/175) than the avoirdupois ounce. Although troy ounces are still used to weigh goldsilver, and gemstones, troy weight is no longer used in most other applications. One troy ounce of gold is denoted with the ISO 4217 currency codeXAU, while one troy ounce of silver is denoted as XAG. (wikipedia)
• • •

Apparently worst-time-to-solve time is not upon waking in the *morning*, but upon waking after having unexpectedly fallen asleep on the couch for three hours. Long week. Annnnyway, I couldn't do anything with this puzzle to start. I have no idea how long I was floundering, but it felt like forever. Enough time passed that I thought, "UGH, this is just gonna be one of those tough outliers, why would you make 5x7 sections, no good can come of that..." But once I got momentum going ... well, actually, it threatened to peter right out because the sections are so isolated from one another that it's hard to get any real flow, but somehow once I finally put a corner together *and* found a way out of the corner, everything began to click and the puzzle felt like a normal Saturday. I think the puzzle is trying a little too hard to be "hip" and "now" and "hello, fellow young persons!" but looking it over, it seem very solid. I really hate the grid shape (isolated corners = blargh), but that's just a matter of taste.

It went like this: HOLA / SHY / TOE / YELL / nothing. I mean, it just stopped, right there. Actually, thought SHY was AFT at first, but then I got HOLA because (thank god) I had ADIOS already in place (one of only two right answers I'd gotten in the NW, the other being ENTER IN, and the wrong answer I had up there being TEETH (1D: Places for braces (KNEES)). So the tiny west section was useless and, after completely failing to get any of the answers in the middle (was [Turn] GEE or HAW or ...? was [Daring way to go] ALL IN? (No and no)), I wandered (lonely as a cloud) down to the SE where I was pretty sure APRIL was right, and then OPTS OUT seemed OK, and then STALK seemed plausible, and then ELK, really??? OK. And then I was getting somewhere. Could not get out of that section via ___ OUNCE because I had No idea (I had TR-Y OUNCE and still had no idea, tbh), so I got out via THE EMERALD ISLE. I made up for the TROY OUNCE fail with a spectacular SPINNAKER play (I know squat about all things nautical and just pulled that word out of god-knows-where). No idea about Wiz Khalifa or 2 Chainz "hits" at all, but "HOME ALONE," I got that, and so both the NE and the SE were a jillion times easier than the west had been. Finished up in the NE, where I had a hiccup, as (yet again) I didn't know if it was IPAD PRO or AIR, annnnnnd I misspelled SNORKLE.

Five things:
  • 59A: ___ Prize (onetime annual $1 million award) (TED) — UGH. I somehow never want to hear again about anything TED. No TED Talks, not TED Prizes. All things TED feel tiresome to me now. Those talks feel like glorified infomercials or sermons or carnival huckster spiels. The only TED I want to hear about is Danson.
  • 21A: Algae touted as a superfood (SEA MOSS) — I have not seen said touting. The "natural foods" section of my Wegmans is full of All Kinds of Bogus half-science claims, but nothing that I've noticed there contains SEA MOSS. Is there a SEA MOSS ODWALLA?
  • 31A: Commercial name that becomes a Native American tribe if you move its first letter to the end (IHOP) — man, "commercial name" is some deliberately irksome cluing. IHOP is a restaurant. A restaurant chain. In fact, simply "Chain" would've been a million times better than stupidly ambiguous, borderline meaningless "Commercial name." 
  • 33D: Monthly travelers? (OVA) — men's cutesy clues about female anatomy continue to not go over great with me for some reason. 
  • 5D: Where models are assembled? (CAR LOTS) — really wanted this to be CATWALK

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 1:22 AM  

When I saw the constructor was David Steinberg, I expected to be in a tussle, but this was fairly easy for a Saturday puzzle. I didn't know 40Down WE OWN IT, or 53Across ODWALLA, but the rest filled in nicely, and those were gotten by the crosses.

Pat Gere 1:24 AM  

I found this to be a wildly easy Saturday, though I'd be singing a different tune if I didn't know my 2 Chainz. He peaked in 2012, but o, what a peak.

Unknown 1:56 AM  

RiteAid is not a Walgreens competitor anymore. Walgreens merged (bought out?) RiteAid a while back.

Patrick O'Connor 2:10 AM  

I had a very similar solving experience to yours, although I do indeed know about troy ounces, and surprisingly like you, the word SPINNAKER appeared from the heaven of crossword angels.

Any excuse to link to Right Said Fred is justifiable.

Dolgo 2:26 AM  

Yeah, I misspelled SNORKEL, too, and for the same reason.

I also agree about the cutsey three-letter clues.

can of pineapple 2:31 AM  

So, um, 2-down means something VERY different in the UK. I had to keep checking the acrosses because I thought it was wrong.

jae 2:35 AM  

Mostly medium with the NW very tough. I thought Balaclava was a dessert and I’m never sure about the spelling of ECHELON, plus wanting @Rex teeth for 1d and SEA MOSS being a WOE...tough!

Liked it a bunch! Makes me wonder why the way too easy Thurs. puzzle was the POW for Jeff Chen. Yesterday’s and this one were both better IMHO.

chris b 2:47 AM  

A full 2/3rds of my time was spent on about 8 squares in the NW corner. I also had TEETH for 1D but was going with RUNWAYS for 5D. And I have no idea what a NONCE or a NOSHADE is. Rest of the puzzle was smooth sailing except for misspelling SPINNAKER (pun intended).

Cmdr. Crankypants 3:42 AM  

Appropriately challenging. Remarkably clean and well crafted. Not very interesting.

Marc 3:59 AM  

Every once in a while I encounter a puzzle where I will go through all the clues, across and down, and have one or two or three answers, and think-Forget this. That was the case today, at first, but I was able to get the NE filled to get me rolling (had ENFORCE before ENHANCE). Paperback Writer got me DEARSIRORMADAM. Had most trouble in SE (ODWALLA) and NW (NONCE and KNITCAP, of which I read the clue as Baclava for the entirety of the puzzle almost). Like most Saturdays, I get a few, take a break, and then get on a decent roll until spending about 30 minutes on 7-10 final answers and feel a little better about my capabilities in solving, even if it took me an hour or more. ADIOS.

Anonymous 6:21 AM  

60A easiest clue ever, DJTRUMP

Lewis 6:24 AM  

This went like many of David's puzzles for me. Lots of white after an opening look, then, somehow, patches and swaths of fill-in. I think it works like this: There are many vague clues that make me hesitate to fill in, but, as it turns out, the answers to those clues seem obvious with one or two letters filled in. Then there are just enough gimmes to purchase precious real estate, and from those fill-ins, more obvious answers pop into view, which beget more such answers, right to the end.

I literally started small, with TSP. From that came TIRES, then RITEAID, then YODEL, and the NE fell, followed in the same manner by the SE, SW, and NW. People complain about cross-referencing, but it sure helped me here, as HOLA begat ADIOS, and SLOTS rendered CASINOS.

Most impressive of all: After 297 references to the Asian holiday, we finally have a new clue for TET! And that clue for IHOP is signature Steinberg. David often has switching-letter clues.

The playful cluing (TROY OUNCE, SPY, STAR STRUCK, SILENCE, OVA) and aha-filled solve made for a sparkling spirited spate of splendor. It's plain to see a lot of work went into this, and it produced a cross-work of beauty.

Rainbow 6:34 AM  

To SPANK a child is child abuse. It is physical assault. I'm going snowflake on this because children do not get adequate protection from assault and it's wrong to make it OK, even in a puzzle. It's even a "cute" clue with the "?".

Or maybe the clue means adult sex play, so, kinky but not assault.

Hungry Mother 7:46 AM  

Very fast for me today, rushing to get to a 5K race. Happy with the result. Peace to everyone.

Outdoor Girl 7:47 AM  

According to a list of animal congregations offered by the US Geological Survey, the term for a plural grouping for elk is none other than a gang.

Balaclava: A close-fitting garment covering the whole head and neck except for parts of the face. Not really a cap.

puzzlehoarder 7:56 AM  

For a while I enjoyed the illusion of this being a difficult Saturday. Manny of the clues were too vague to get traction on. Misreading the 8A clue as "millimeters" prevented a promising start in the NE.

Once the novelty of this wore off and the time added up I got down to business in the center. With STARSTRUCK and that center block soon in place TROYOUNCE, SPINNAKER and OTHER WOMAN all became first guess material. At that point I had solid leverage in every quadrant of a puzzle that no longer needed leverage. From that point on my only write overs we're RITEWAY and KNITHAT. Both were easily fixed.

Even though the difficulty evaporated the solve was never boring.

GILL I. 7:58 AM  

There always seems to be a wink wink to David's puzzles:
NONCE in British speak is a sex offender. Then we have SPANK ASS ENTER IN OTHER WOMAN OPTS OUT OVA or maybe I'm missing @evil.
Anyway, this was the easiest Saturday for me in ages. My only holdup was KNIT CAP. I, too, thought it said baclava.
5 little puzzles that I will probably forget after my nap.

FrankStein 8:38 AM  

Super fun outing. But if you are gonna say “the Emerald Isle” you should also say “the other woman” since that too is the phrase.

kitshef 8:42 AM  

What fun!

Brutally hard at first. I generally solve by looking at across clues until I get one, then looking at the crossing down. Today, my entry – the first across clue I could get, was 52A: OPTS OUT.

Then after filling the SW corner in, nothing again for a long time until finally I hit HOME ALONE, the first real gimme. From there things went much faster.

Nothing is more satisfying that completing a puzzle that you thought you couldn’t.

Bax'N'Nex 8:45 AM  

Are cars assembled in a CAR LOT? Isn’t that where they are parked? What am I missing??? Thanks

kitshef 8:47 AM  

@Calman Snoffelevich - actually that deal never went through. Instead, Walgreens bought a bunch (less than half) of Rite Aid locations, but Rite Aid remains as an independent company, and still competes with Walgreens.

Shafty 9:00 AM  

Thanks for the write-up, Rex. My solving experience was very similar (but much slower, of course). Couldn’t get anything to drop in my first pass until I made some headway in the SW.

33D, as clued, did not pass the breakfast test for me. Seen that word a lot, but never clued like that. UGH.

Bruce R 9:01 AM  

Where models are assembled? I had CATWALK instead of CARLOTS. The CA worked perfectly and gave me false confidence.

I liked TANDOOR as "Indian restaurant fixture." I'd wager there are people unfamiliar with this and parse it as TAN DOOR, that is, a light brown door. Most people will recognize it as a type of oven.

Teedmn 9:22 AM  

The irony (?) of entering in ENTER IN first off and then taking it out because only ADIOS seemed to work there, UGH. I later guessed that 14A would start with NO and that gave me KNEE braces but I was convinced the Balaclava clue was asking for a source, i.e. the country they arose in. With the K in place, I wanted that country near Serbia that starts with a K that I was totally blank on and had to Google post-solve. Thank goodness I never thought of Kosovo because splatzing in Kosovan in 1A would have botched up the whole NW. Do I actually know where balaclavas came from? Heck no, I make this stuff up all the time. Wikipedia says they were worn by the British in the Crimean war so not that far off, globally, from Kosovo but...

There are a lot of Walgreens stores in MN but no RITE AIDs so I was going off my memory of NYC where there is a drug store on every corner. RITE way? With IPAD air in at 15A and that blank on the AID, I made the NE harder than it needed to be. But I was sure 11A had to be SPY and that saved me. I was also pleased that my first guess of SHY for "Not forward" was correct. No misdirections here, David, IS THAT ALL you got? (Sassy retorts necessarily need poor grammar, right?)

I'm still getting used to the pronunciation of COPSE. It's one of those words that I have mispronounced in my head forever, rhyming with "copes". I recently realized that it rhymes with "cops" so every time I see it now (and there are a lot of copses in fantasy novels for some reason), I mentally say it a couple of times, trying to rid myself of "copes". Perhaps someday "cops" will be the first thing I think of. Perhaps.

David, this was a great Saturday offering, especially since I guessed correctly at the ODWALLA-WE OWN IT cross!

emmet 9:27 AM  

The Rite aid Walgreens error stopped me for quite a while. Refused to believe NYT would have that big a mistake. Finally caved and so did the puzzle.

Matt 9:31 AM  

@DavidShinnerer To assemble also means to gather

JoeVaq 9:38 AM  

SW, center, E, NE, SE, W, and NW last because SEAWEED over SEAMOSS. NONCE also threw me a little.

Rob 9:39 AM  

I think the clue for SNORKEL is inaccurate. I've been a SCUBA diver for 20 years and I've been snorkeling longer than that. You don't use goggles with a snorkel, they don't cover your nose. You want a full mask.

Carola 9:56 AM  

A very enjoyable Saturday. @Lewis, I really liked your description of how the solve progressed; may I latch on and say, for me as well?

The hardest area for me was the NW, partly because of the incorrect (me, too) CAtwalk, which was the first thing I entered, to confirm CAP and, I assumed, some sort of algal graSS. Thankfully the A was right, allowing me to get NO SHADE, which in turn convinced me about NONCE. It took STARSTRUCK to get rid of the catwalk. Last in: ECHELON; I'd been sure it was going to be a two-word verbal phrase: something ON.

Wanted to but didn't write in: PenuchE for the nutty confection; the position of the h just looked too weird. Great word, though.

Loved TOE as the little wiggler. My thinking was, "You're not going to get me on eel; let's try eft."

bookmark 9:59 AM  

I had ski mask for the longest time at 1 across. Finally gave in, deleted, and pulled up knit cap for balaclava.

Suzie Q 10:02 AM  

This is the puzzle I've been waiting for all week.
D.S. has grown to be a first class constructor.
I loved the clues for ova and yodel. Echelon is a great word. The new clue for Tet was nice.
Unbelievably IHOP was my first entry and I'm usually crap at that sort of clue.

Rex is "lonely as a cloud"?

CaliMarie 10:03 AM  

When I went snorkeling in the Caribbean the locals called it “goggling.”

Bob in Nampa 10:04 AM  

Faster than average for me, but that NW corner took forever. Weird.

TubaDon 10:12 AM  

     First words in were STEED and COPSE, which gave me the SW. Then EMERALD ISLE provided a wedge into the NW, delayed for a while by bad guess of TEETH. Proceeded clockwise, and last word in was HOTMESS which is a self-description of that answer. Whoever would say that lacks imagination. Aside from that there were some nicely misleading clues so I liked the puzzle as a whole.

RVA flier 10:19 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. Found it challenging but rewarding. Thank you David Steinberg.

Z 10:22 AM  

@outdoor girl - You’re probably one of those people who will argue that a hot dog isn’t a sandwich. “CAP,” like “sandwich,” is large enough to contain multitudes.

Hand up for teEth before KNEES. SPINNAKER was easy here because Grand Rapids had a seafood restaurant by that name in my youth (apparently still there, inside the Hilton near the airport). My only creative error was OldER WOMAN before OTHER WOMAN. Granted that the desired answer is more in the zeitgeist, but why not a little experience to spice things up?

As promised late yesterday, a full PPP analysis:

Pop Culture, Product names, and other Proper nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. When 33% or more of the puzzle is PPP some subset of solvers will have difficulty with the solve.

This is unusually low, just 10 of 66 answers. Comments so far reflect this as the absence of PPP allows solvers to suss out answers, get started in each section, and finish the puzzle without being punished by clues outside one’s areas of interest.

TED Prize

PENN’S Landing

@pete late yesterday - PPP answers are always easy when you get the clue or know the trivia, but opaque when you don’t. Your logic is spot on, but how you got the answer is not necessarily available to everyone. And remember, it is never a single answer that is an issue, it is PPP density. Having a letter or two can make it obvious that the answer is simple, but make an area dense with PPP and that simple answer might be unfathomable.

Z 10:28 AM  

Who spends $530 on a balaclava? That’s a lot of baklava.

Greg Charles 10:41 AM  

I was surprised to see bánh tét in the puzzle. You'd have to be pretty familiar with Vietnamese culture to know that. Maybe it's accidentally guessable because solvers are familiar with the similar looking word tết, meaning festival. Tét actually means sliced or chopped.

Mr. Grumpypants 10:45 AM  

Car models are put together in plants, not on lots. They may be detailed on the lot after delivery to the dealer, but even then the work is more likely to be done in the shop.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

The boss (YFL) posts about oldie puzzles: oh, so ancient, it's intolerable, how can so many antique references exist in my goldarned universe? ay me ay me ay me.
The boss (YFL) posts about newbie puzzles: oh, trying so hard to show us all how young you are and your young friends how they actually talk and experience the world ay me ay me ay me.

Srsly? Srsly.

This place is a mystery.

PS your new freaking Verify pages are something only an asshole would endorse. Oh, yeah, I forgot, that was my point.

Seth 10:57 AM  

Hahaha I just looked it up and WOW. Yeah. Very very different indeed.

Georgia 10:58 AM  

You're right!

Banana Diaquiri 11:07 AM  

there are many churches with 'assemblies of God' as all or part of the name. an assembly of cars happens on a car lot. ambiguous of American English, as usual.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Had a lot of trouble in the NE bc I started out with ski mask for KNIT CAP and key into for ENTERIN and seaweed for SEA MOSS. UGH!

BarbieBarbie 11:08 AM  

@Grumpypants, when you park one car next to another, you have put those cars together. Park a few more and you can even call it an assembly of cars. You have assembled them.

Me too on balaclava, a word I know, except that instead of seeing it as baklava I kept reading balalaika and trying to come up with words for mandolin. (red face) So, tough corner, otherwise easy.

AW 11:10 AM  

How do you get ELK (singular) from the plural "58A Gang members"? Does the clue refer to the Elks Club, a "fraternal organization" (absolutely not a gang) or is ELK the acronym of something else? If it's the Elks Club, then the clue is bogus.

BarbieBarbie 11:11 AM  

I can imagine, in British literature of maybe 50 years ago, people using “for the nonce” to mean “for a short while right around now,” the way Americans say “in the meantime.” No?

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

I put in Tube Steak too but it’s not a hot dog. It’s a kind of steak.

Nancy 11:18 AM  

I wouldn't change a thing in this crunchy but fair and very entertaining puzzle other than the place where I almost needed to cheat but didn't: the WE OWN IT/ODWALLA cross. That was not so fair, and for me, it was complicated by the fact that I had to guess at the missing letter in BI-MASS. BIOMASS sounded like something natural and fuel-ish, so I guessed at the "I", and I guessed right. Even though I have no idea what a BIOMASS is, exactly. I also guessed at WE OWN IT from WE--NIT.

Other than that, a very clean puzzle, based much more on wordplay than arcane trivia. The NW was impossible for me at the outset, and I actually entered the puzzle at the OTHER WOMAN (39A!), confirmed by ROT and UGH. Struggled pretty much everywhere and enjoyed it a lot.

Outdoor Girl 11:21 AM  

Respectfully, I maintain that a balaclava is fundamentally different from a cap. But the clue/answer is fine (it's only a puzzle).

A hot dog is of course a sandwich! Don't be silly.

RooMonster 11:23 AM  

Hey All !
Add me to the teEth-KNEES group. Thought I was clever... NOSHADE is a modernism I haven't heard.

Those big corners are hard to fill cleanly without making them a HOT MESS. Nice job on that. Slightly ticked at the lone block in NE/SW, but, if it makes for clean fill, OK. A ROGUE grid. Nice swath of threes for @M&A in the center.

SHY and TOE were sneakily clued. Wanted EEL or EFT there also, like a few of y'all. Funny "wrong answer that appears elsewhere in puz" moment, wanted OPTFOR in 42D, later getting OPTSOUT.

Found this easier than YesterPuz. I did use Check Puz feature again, though! :-) Still YELLed WE OWN IT! when I finished. (Well, it was just me, no WE.)

CAR LOTS clue is meant as misdirection. Assembled, as in "a gathering of cars together", not "where cars are built". Get it? No, not being an ASS, just trying to explain. :-)


Anonymous 11:24 AM  

As pointed out earlier, in this case assembled means gathered.

Sgreennyc 11:30 AM  

For balaclava I had ski mask until I saw that there was no way for it to work. This was one of those puzzles that felt unsolvable at first but with tenacity I finished in 51 minutes. Completing it was very satisfying.

Rainbow 11:32 AM  

Please see @Outdoor Girl 7:47 AM

TJS 11:35 AM  

@Lewis, I find myself not bothering to comment lately because you sum up my solving experience better than I myself could express it. Today was a case in point. I cant or wont find some redeemable feature in every puzzle like you seem to be able to.
OTH, @Z, you seem to specialize in comments that annoy me, but that's fine to.I am reminded of that strange little guy who would guest on the Tonite Show, Professor Irwin Corey, who billed himself as "The World's Greatest Expert". And BTW, I have never heard anyone say the words "hot dog sandwich".
"I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud" poem by Wordsworth, worth checking out, surprised the comics teacher was familiar with it.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 11:38 AM  

Does anyone remember goggling?

Kdy 11:38 AM  

I had almost the exact same experience.

Barry Frain 11:40 AM  

@Outdoor Girl, you’re wasting your time. @Z loves to argue.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

AW 11:51 AM  

Thanks! Didn't see it. I learned two new things: a gang of ELK and a new meaning for NONCE (which I only knew as "time being").

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Z annoys lots of people. Has for years. And of course, youre right about a hot dog not being a sandwich. In fact a US court famously ruled that way.
Thanks for the nice puzzle Mr. Steinberg. First class as usual.

jberg 12:01 PM  

Tough and enjoyable—but I forgot to check 31A when it filled from the crosses, so I ended up with IHOw/wEN. I was reading sty as stye. Sigh.

OffTheGrid 12:07 PM  

You don't order a "BLT sandwich" either. Is a BLT a sandwich? Yes. When you order a hot dog, it is implied you want it in a bun (bread). Meat between 2 pieces of bread=sandwich.

BTW Very good and challenging puzzle. Loved it.

Hartley70 12:12 PM  

I opened with ski mask and was sure of the answer so the NW was my last area to fall. I My second gimme was SPINNAKER and that set me up to zip through the E side and work around clockwise. I didn’t know the rappers but the crosses took care of that. I didn’t have trouble until NONCE. I knew it as a word but the meaning escaped me. I had to dump ski mask to tie things in a bow.

I love a DS on the weekend!

Oldflappyfrommississappy 12:13 PM  

What about a shit sandwich? Is it really a sammich?

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

I don't know about the use of assembly you are all proposing. For instance, when we had an "assembly" at school we actually chopped someone up and sutured them back together. We never succeeded in re-animation but we got the 3D jigsaw puzzle solved.

Odd Sock 12:22 PM  

In England I remember hearing my friends call someone a nonce but they were calling them an idiot. "Don't be such a nonce".
@ Roo, Back when Acme used to visit I believe she coined a word for that. Malapop. Maybe it was someone else but I forget.
@ Rainbow, In my book a spanking is a lot different from a beating.
@ Shafty, Ova doesn't pass your breakfast test? What's on your breakfast plate?
Great puzzle. The clue for Home Alone brought to mind a certain famous painting.

Larry 12:26 PM  

@Anon - 11:56 NY State officially decrees that a hot dog is sandwich. I've searched for a federal court decreeing otherwise, and have not found it. Perhaps you could provide that citation? Perhaps the reason you find Z annoying is that he's right and you're not?

Shafty 12:45 PM  

@Odd Sock: Which is why I said “as clued.”

puzzlehoarder 12:47 PM  

@Teedmn, I had the same source thinking about balaclava. Thanks for the heads up on the word COPSE. That's how I've been pronouncing it to. I just found out it comes from the word "coppice" which I've only recently discovered (and have been mispronouncing as well.)

@Carola, thanks for the penuche reminder. That word and PRALINE are an advanced example of the kind of kea/loa either or pairings you run into with puzzle clues. Today it was a good thing I'd forgotten penuche.

This term "ppp" makes very little difference to me. What I find striking about this puzzle is the almost total lack of short first names. TED is the only one I can see and here it is used as what I assume to be an acronym. These names are an easy source of tough clues. There's always well known celebrities for each one that you'll see on week days. For late week it seems they can always find lesser known "famous" people to stump you with. TED as a "talk" is old hat but the prize angle was news to me. Other than that, once this solve got moving there was little to work around.

NOSHADE was new to me but we've had the "throwing shade" discussion here more than once. That made the "NO" version easy to spot. Now I can talk hip and influence people.

Masked and Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Great themeless grid art; looks kinda like one of them contraptions that mashes up old cars at the scrap metal yard. M&A immediately headed for that small, smash-central weeject stack [yo, @Roo] zone in the middle. Tried out UGH & BAT, which led to ROGUE, which led to insistin that BAT get replaced by CUE. And the ball game was afoot.

Spelled SPINNAKER most creatively, as SPINICKER. That, and 3 of the 5 ?-puzclues bein in the NE, pretty much guzzled up the nanoseconds, while the solvequest flopped around in there.

Due to the primo grid art, each of the 4 puzcorners kinda got assigned their own isolation wards. Once again, the weeject squad came to my rescue, this time via SHY+TOE and OVA + PEN. Then STARSTRUCK and OTHERWOMAN and HOMEALONE just magically popped into obviousness, which provided lots of nice tentacles to grab hold of them corners.

staff weeject picks: the central 2-U, u's-ful weeject stack. Such respect rates a themelessthUmbsUp.

Balaclava? I put in DESSERT, for that 1-A thing. But ... also wanted TEETH, for 1-D, so knew the NW was gonna be trouble.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Steinbergmeister. I finished this sucker, but it had a HOTMESS lot of SPANKle.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Anoa Bob 1:24 PM  

Two things about the grid caught my attention, the relatively high (34) black square count and the walled-off feeling of the four corners. The former is typical of weekday themed puzzles.

Liked the MOSS MASS MESS mashup.

There are some trigger words or phrases that immediately let me know we have left the evidence-based arena of nutrition and food science and have entered into the snake oil marketing of hucksters and slicksters. Two of the most common are "cleansing" and "detox"/"detoxification". A third, seen in the clue for 21A, is "super food" . These are usually labelled food supplements and as such are not regulated by the FDA.

I've stopped following the research on these kinds of supplements but as of 10-15 years ago there was little to no well-designed scientific studies investigating or validating their claims. Who knows exactly what is in these magic potions or what harmful side effects they may have. My esteemed fellow Earthlings, there are no super foods.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to the frij and grab an apple.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Hey Larry
Nah, thats not it. And remember was seconding someone on the matter of Z.
As for hot dogs in The Empjre state, it is true that NY Tax Bulletin ST 835 calls them sandwiches, but of clurse, taxmen arent the same as corts and their overreach is legendary.
Perhaps the reason you couldnt find the case I referred to is owing to your lack of knowledge. The case I alluded to was actually about whether a burrito is a sandwich. Howver in his ruling judge Locke talks about dogs as well.
Whats more the US Dept. Of Agriculture says the hot dog isnt a sandwich. Check theor food standards and labeling document.
At the risk of maki g your case for you the notorious RBG ruled thd hot dog is a sandwich, but of course, she hasnt been rignt since the learned hand was in short pants.

Z 1:29 PM  

@outdoor girl11:21 - Well, at least we agree on something. And I think there’s deeper truth in your “clue/answer are fine” observation. It seems to me that if it doesn’t keep your head warm a balaclava is not very useful. I have a bigger problem with the “KNIT” part of the answer than the “CAP” part of the answer. Every one I’ve ever owned has served as a CAP for my head, but very few have been KNITted (although I guess someone could argue that if it’s not knitted it’s just a ski mask, not a balaclava). In short, I see your point and absolutely agree that in the context of crossword clues it works well enough. And, no, I would never call one a CAP even though I think it fits the category.

@TJS - I’ve often confessed that my knowledge is a mile wide and about one inch deep (very useful for solving crosswords). Some people (PhD types) often have the reverse, knowledge a mile deep on a subject about an inch wide. At any rate, anyone who takes my observations as somehow “expert” or more seriously than is warranted for a crossword blog really has only themselves to blame.

@AW - ELK is like “sheep.” One sheep, two sheep. One ELK, two ELK. No ELKopdes need apply.

Anyone still confused by CAR LOT, see definition 2.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Off the grid,
um a bun is one piece of bread. QED a hot dog is not a sandwich.

Joe Bleaux 2:07 PM  

Each time I enounter a David Steinberg gem such as this one (or these four😉), I could quote @kitshef's comment about the satisfaction of completing a puzzle you thought you couldn't. I scan the clues, despair, then scan again for a toe hold, then things start to happen. My very unlikely entry point today was 41A (one DAY one), after which the SW (or Puzzle No. 3) quickly fell, followed by No. 2 (NE), the tougher No. 4 (SE, ODWALLA land), and finally the bearish, for me, No. 1 (NW), where I kept trying to make a pastry out of a damn KNIT CAP, before NONCE made me put KNEES where my teeth had been. From there, it was the cliched "challenging, but fun." You can solve Steinberg, but you can't beat him.

TomAz 2:45 PM  

I saw "Balaclava" and I thought, aha, they're trying to trick us into thinking Greek pastry but really it's that Russian guitar-like thing... yep the NW was the last thing I filled in.

this felt hard to me but my time was well below Saturday average. go figure.

Sherm Reinhardt 2:47 PM  

Nutty confection - BAKLAVA

OffTheGrid 3:32 PM  

Well, yeah, I guess. Now I don't know. Shit!

George McFarland 3:42 PM  

I don’t spank my kids and I never will. When I was growing up in the seventies my father occasionally spanked my siblings and me. It was not child abuse. I’m sure many if not most spankings rise to the level of child abuse. Not ours. Not then and not now and not ever.

George McFarland 3:48 PM  

Actually I should have said he spanked my brothers and me. I don’t think he spanked my sisters. I’m not sure though because they were a lot older than me. I kind of think he didn’t and I’m cool with that.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

my way too clever "bug" at 11 across made the NE a grind

Ahmed alkhodary 5:15 PM  


JC66 5:43 PM  

@Z & @outdoor girl

The judge rules on what's a sandwich?

Mr. Grumpypants 6:54 PM  

Embarrassed am I. Assembled on the car lots the models are. Steinberg puzzles I still like not, but my problem is that.

JOHN X 7:29 PM  

Wow this puzzle kicked my ass! My ass needed kicking for a variety of reasons so that's okay.

I actually had a DNF today and JOHN X never has a DNF, except for those other times when I did. It was the NW that got me. I peeked on this website and saw KNITCAP and finished, but I cheated so DNF.

I actually liked and agreed with Rex's review! I rarely do, but today I did. At least until he got to OVA, and then Rex became Rex again. For a privileged white male, Rex sure does hate privileged white males. By the numbers. I'm a privileged white male and I'm awesome, and I think everyone else is awesome too.

JC66 8:30 PM  


Yes, I agree. You're awesome.

Cassieopia 11:02 PM  

Got all but the NW corner. Really liked how the pieces came together. Tough but very fair.

krazykat 9:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:08 AM  

When I read 60 Across, "person who's spectacularly awful" I dropped in Ted Cruz . . . Works for me . . .

Unknown 4:48 AM  

A few people complained that Walgreens bought rite-aid. They did not. A few years ago Walgreens was going to buy rite aid. That failed for anti-competitive reasons. Then they were going to just buy some stores of rite aid. That failed. Then they were going to buy some stores and sell some of those for cheap to Fred's, to bolster Fred's as a competitor (instead of just CVS V. Walgreens, then a step down to rite aid). Anyway everything failed. Rite aid is still it's own independent public company. The stock symbol is $RAD.

The NYT didn't make a mistake. At least bother to look it up before calling them out.

Unknown 4:51 AM  

Rite aid ended up selling a couple thousand of their stores, but is still a competitor to Walgreens. The whole reason the deal took two years is because the SEC needed to be 100% sure rite aid would still be a Walgreens competitor.

Unknown 4:52 AM  

Wasn't an error. You made the mistake.

thefogman 11:23 AM  

Challenging, but I completed error free. I don't agree that a balaclava is the same as a KNITCAP. A toque is a KNITCAP. But a balaclava is full head/face/neck covering. Winter gear, or Mike Nesmith wore one would be better clues. Hands up if you had mouth and teeth before KNEES. Another decent puzzle by Mr. Steinberg, but not the gold standard we are used to. That and no theme makes me say - ISTHATALL ?

PS - My letter to Donald J Trump would have the following formal opening:


5wksltr 12:05 PM  

Put me in the group that thinks "assemble" is used incorrectly in this puzzle in that assemble in the sense of gathering requires active participation by the things being assembled. People or animals can assemble. Inanimate things, not so much.

Burma Shave 12:40 PM  

SPANK an OTHERWOMAN to DAY, at random,
YELL and YODEL, don't be SHY.



centralscrewtinizer 12:44 PM  

So sure of KNIThAt I never saw CAP and finally gave up as I could make no sense of what was possible. Harbors for models? UGH.

Diana, LIW 1:25 PM  

Steinberg strikes again - as always, a joy to conquer!

I sank my teeth into this puzzle at 1D, until the clue brought me to my KNEES. (How many others have said that already?) Grappled and groped my way around - a HOTMESS. Finally turned "carpets" into CARLOTS (har), and then stared at the square where the C went for about a day and a half. Ah - ECHELON/NONCE - what else?

Seems like a new superfood emerges every day - have you tried Kale Chips yet? Take my word (and Mr. W's) - do not go there.

But - my news. I not only have a car, but I'm legally allowed to drive it (because it has a license plate!) wherever I want. It only took 6 week of wrangling with the DMV in Cal and Wash to get this miracle done.

Diana, LIW no longer for a car

rondo 2:03 PM  

Yup. Hand up for teEth. Not much trouble elsewhere, but that orthodontia chewed up time in the NW. 3X Rex in total. Not many puzzles where you'll find only 2 three letter words on the entire line. Or 1 three in a whole column (see dead center). That IHOP clue has gotta be Will's influence.

Is HOMEALONE "classic"? I wouldn't put it on that ECHELON.

Little known porn film: "Behind the TANDOOR".

As per usual in a DS puz, no sight of a yeah baby. Kate MOSS?

Fun puz, once I got brought to my KNEES.

spacecraft 2:44 PM  


Enormously tough to get started. Took a guess on CASINOS/SLOTS and it paid off. Never in my life heard of ODWALLA, but what else can fill the blank in the unknown WEO_NIT but W?

I'm so proud of myself that I recognize a bit of newspeak: SHADE means a putdown, so 14a has to be NOSHADE. I'm learning, slowly. Still have no idea who the performers in the clue are, though.

NW again was last to go; it took forever to dislodge SEAweed and replace it with MOSS. Finally did it, with help from PENNS Landing, and for off-the-charts triumph points. No DOD, but who cares? Maybe I'll name two tomorrow. Eagle.


rainforest 3:19 PM  

Good, clean, challenging-and-then-not puzzle which seems to be a hallmark of Mr. Steinberg's work.

After abandoning the NW because I could see "crickets" there, I started well in the NE with TSP, TIRES, YODEL,and RITEAID.

Moving down via DEAR SIR OR MADAM, picking up the cutesy-wootsie IHOP along the way, I moved slowly across the South and then up the West coast to the NW, the toughest section. NONCE and PENNS were tough. Learned a slightly different usage of NONCE there, unless the "special occasion" is, like, "now".

Last two letters were K in ELK, and the W in ODWALLA, because it couldn't be anything else. Gang of ELK, eh. I'd pick "gang" for raccoons.

A lovely puzzle.
PS @Lady Di. I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering what car you got. Tesla, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar?

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

Can you see/hear the word "balalaika" and NOT think of Dr. Zhivago?

leftcoastTAM 7:28 PM  

Reassuring to see that Rex gets his SE and SW directions mixed up now and then. Also notice that he tends to downplay difficulty levels (for him) even when acknowledging how various clues/answers slow him down--in this case extra time spent finding some traction and getting the flow going.

Granted, Steinberg can be tough, today for me especially in the SE, where I BOTCH[ed] it at the TANDOOR, WEOWNIT, and ODWALLA intersections.

Guess I was just too tired after too much wine last night.

101LombardSt 8:25 PM  

A spotlight shines a light on something special. "Throwing shade" would be the opposite.

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