African tree with hanging fruit / SAT 12-29-18 / Natchez Delta Queen for two / Counterpart to Roman god Sol

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy (7:01, should've been Way faster)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BAOBAB (28A: African tree with hanging fruit) —
Adansonia is a genus of deciduous trees known as baobabs. They are found in arid regions of Madagascar, mainland AfricaArabia, and Australia. The generic name honours Michel Adanson, the French naturalist and explorer who described Adansonia digitata.
In the early 21st century, baobabs in southern Africa began to die off rapidly from a cause yet to be determined. Scientists believe it is unlikely that disease or pests were able to kill many trees so rapidly, while some estimated that the die-off was a result of dehydration from global warming. (wikipedia)
• • •

Lots of personal best times will be achieved today. I could feel it as I soared through the first half of the puzzle. Thought for sure I was gonna come close to my own personal best time, certainly a personal best for the time I've been keeping track of times (since April), but then ... fate intervened. And by "fate" I mean "my dumb mistakes." Let's start with BAOBAB, which was my first foray into the east (where the wheels came off). Had the BA- and correctly guessed BAOBA- and then incorrectly guessed O. BAOBAO. Got POPPYCOCK just fine, so woo hoo, here we go! But oh my things got so bad because of my having the -BY in 21D: Pair that clicked in film. My brain: "--BY = BABY, try a "B" at 21A!" And what was 21A? [Flinch, e.g.]. And what did brain do: "Uh ... BLINK! Sure, that's ... yeah, BLINK!" So I went looking for BABY something for the "pair that clicked in film." Just death. I also couldn't get CAPE to save my life (43A: Ranch alternative). That's a kind of ... house? Ugh. We call them CAPE Cods, I think? I don't really know. Anyway, I should've gotten TIME MACHINE w/ literally no crosses, so no idea what happened there (10D: Fantastic means of travel). Had the -CH- and thought maybe some kind of CHAIR was involved. I told you the wheels came off! Found DJS very hard (52D: Plays at work?). No idea the dinosaur was named ARLO. Try very very hard not to think about the current administration, despite the puzzle's best efforts to force the issue, so honestly PENCE never occurred to me. How is he a "shadow president"? He doesn't do jack. He's an ungodly stuffed animal. Ugh, why am I even talking about this answer—WS loves this administration for reasons I'll never get, so a perfectly good word like PENCE gets this monstrous/dumb clue. Whatever—the main point is ... well, there are two main points. One is, one small mistake can totally destroy your solving time. And two is, this puzzle was delightful, even when I was flailing in the east, and despite the undead slug that is Mike PENCE lurking in the corner.

Five things:
  • 53D: Meas. for a steno (WPM) — Saw "Meas.," had -PM, wrote in RPM. Good to read all of the clue.
  • 43D: Ark unit (CUBIT) — you know that feeling when you know a word but you cannot retrieve the word? That. I had -BIT and was like "Oh, right ... AMBIT! No ... ugh, it's not ORBIT! What Is IT?"
  • 46A: Fine dining no-no (SLURP) — what is "fine dining"? Seriously. Also, people SLURP wherever. This clue assumes a weird class-based dining situation from like the last century ... remember how "fine dining" used to be like big tables and French terms and maitre d's and snootiness? This is a sitcom / movie phenomenon that I've noticed. "Fine dining" in older tv / movies looks stuffy and terrible and is phenomenally class-aspirational. Anyway, there are "fine" ramen places where people SLURP the f*** out of their food, is what I'm saying. I SLURP my coffee for sure sometimes. SLURPing helps you taste. It's a ... surface area thing, I think. That's my slurping theory, at any rate, and I'm slupring to it. Speaking of fine dining ...
    [17A: "The job's not great, but I can pay my bills"]
  • 7D: Man's nickname that sounds like two letters of the alphabet (ABIE) — are we pretending this is an actual nickname. This is crosswordese. You can find it in the play "ABIE's Irish Rose" and the "Hair" song "ABIE Baby" and nowhere else. Isn't ABE already the nickname? Why is your "nickname" longer!?
  • 54A: John, abroad (EVAN) — I see this clue a lot and always hate it. It's meant to make you think "bathroom," but then the answer is like EVAN or IAN or I don't care. Actually, I had no idea EVAN was John "abroad." We have EVAN here. The writer/editor of the Washington Post Sunday crossword (frequently superior to the NYT, btw) is an EVAN. Where is EVAN "John"? Wales? Pffft. So many EVANs in the world, why are you doing this clue?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


nevercared 6:22 AM  

ABIE can go straight to hell. I had OBIE, since that at least seemed like a thing and fit the clue, but LOSE didn't make any sense in regards to 'beaming' at.

Otherwise, not too many gripes on this one. Fairly bland and quick Saturday.

Loren Muse Smith 6:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Bard 6:26 AM  

JULIET: Go, get thee hence, for I will not away.


What's here? a cup, closed in my true love's hand?
Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end:
O churl! drunk all, and left no friendly drop
To help me after? I will kiss thy lips;
Haply some poison yet doth hang on them,
To make die with a restorative.

[Kisses him]

Thy lips are warm.

First Watchman: [Within] Lead, boy: which way?

JULIET: Yea, noise? then I'll be brief. O happy dagger!

[Snatching ROMEO's dagger]

This is thy sheath;

[Stabs herself]

there rust, and let me die.

[Falls on ROMEO's body, and dies]

[Enter Watch, with the Page of PARIS]

Romeo and Juliet, Act V, scene III

Loren Muse Smith 6:26 AM  

TGIF. Robyn, the indisputable Queen of Fridays, had me thinking it’s Friday. This is such a weird time after Christmas when you don’t know what day of the month it is or even the day of the week. Discombobulating. So, well, it’s Saturday. And Robyn delivers in spades.

Loved IT’S A LIVING. What jobs elicit this quasi-apology? Telemarketers? For sure - they’re just trying to pay their bills, too. But we’re nasty to them. Ok - many of us are nasty to them. Those guys in Maine who vamoose the contents of your septic tank? I’m extra nice to them, thinking you poor son-of-a bitch, always stand there and see the whole thing through with him. Chat like it’s not an icky thing he’s doing, like I’m not trying to run and hide, but, I mean, what do you talk about as the stuff is going from the ground to his truck? Banana bread recipes?

Speaking of scatology, which I admit I do often and am called out for often and always deserve the scolding… POPPYCOCK seems to have its etymology from the Dutch for “doll poop.” It’s kind of a relief ‘cause my neighborhood best friend, Tori S had her Poppy (aka Pop) come live with them in his twilight years, and, well, you do the math.

Funny that so many of our BS! words are dactyls: horsefeathers, blatherskite, applesauce, flapdoodle, balderdash, codswallop, …

Have to argue with the clue for ODOR. It’s not at all a bad thing to find in a fridge. It’s a blessed relief to finally find the culprit. That’s been wafting out for days.

I liked TIME MACHINE crossing JUNIOR PROM. My school is one anachronism after another, and prom is a biggie. In our demographic, there is no money for stretch limos, pre-prom dinners, lavish venues. The juniors spend days transforming the cafeteria into a wonderland (avatar). I was involved for the first time last year because I was a junior sponsor. We. Worked. Our. Asses. Off. When the lights were low, it was beautiful – we had 200 little blinky light clips I had learned about at the country club, so the room twinkled and sparkled all night. The dress I’m in was marked down to $29.99. I already bought mine for this year. Ross Dress for Less. $25.99.

“Fine dining no-no” – making other people at your table feel stupid ‘cause they don’t know all the ridiculous rules. If someone commandeers your bread plate, just chill, man. Put your roll on your dinner plate or just don’t get a roll.

“Magic carpet” has the same number of letters as TIME MACHINE.

“Purchase that usually ends up in the trash” – any product seen/bought on tv between 1am and 3am where they send you two if you act fast. Oh, and that stuffed hamster that repeats back anything you say. It worked, but it didn’t have the helium-infused voice that I was counting on. GARBAGE BAG, baby. The helium element was the thing that gave it its charm.


@burtonkd from yesterday – I just got back from NC visiting family. Mom grew up in Newton-Conover. And my uncle Hamp was an ophthalmologist in Hickory. Did you know any Leflers in Catawba? Don’t bore anyone here – my email is nerol2 at msn. We could totally connect and bond and stuff.

@+wordphan from Thursday – welcome. You’re much more take-seriousable with a blue name.

(Oh – but the clue for AVIATOR would’ve sounded more natural using the singular their. Period. Any argument for the his or her is pure tommyrot.

'mericans in Paris 6:55 AM  

Mrs. 'mericans and I did this one together -- together-together, not as a tag team -- and filled in the last square in record time, by far. But we did not get the Happy Pencil. We didn't like AMAIN (A MAIN?), as the answer to 25A ("With all one's might"), and tried to play with that area, but no dice. Finally gave up after another 15 minutes, and saw that we should have had an "A" in the 7 square, not an O. OK, clearly LASE is a better answer than LoSE for 6A. But it just never occurred to us to pronounce ABIE as "A, B", rather than what it looks like: "Ah Bee". That 7D could have been CLUEd better, IMO.

Otherwise, we enjoyed the puzzle. Learned that the correct spelling of the tree is BAOBAB, whereas we had often seen it spelled as BAOBoB. Even this UN web page spells it that way.

Had to laugh at @Rex's remarks on PENCE. I guess a sign of how little I pay attention to him (the VP, that is), is that I had misspelled his name first as PENsE. By the way, Mike PENCE is reported to have sometimes called his wife MOM, or at least "Mother".

A few other random thoughts:

-- Too bad this puzzle didn't run on a Friday, as 1D would have been more appropriate.

-- STEAMBOAT was a nickname my classmates gave me in elementary school, a corruption of my family name. Definitely could have been worse.

-- Just before coming here, I was using SAND PAPER on some CURVY copper pipes, preparing them for painting. That was after eating two fried EGGs for breakfast.

-- With an extra apostrophe in the answer to 30D, it could form the beginning of a dialogue with 22D.

@Nancy: Thanks for your recent shout-outs. In answer to an earlier question, we've been living in Europe since 1982, of which most of that time in Paris. IT'S A LIVING. :-)

Dawn Urban 7:42 AM  

Shadow President? First thought was Cheney or Biden. PENCE comes up so seldom in news reports that I sometimes feel we have no Vice-President at all!

QuasiMojo 7:44 AM  

Yes too easy for Saturday but after yesterday I welcomed it. I don’t know about you Rex but even at dinner at my house growing up in the suburbs which was hardly fine dining we were taught never to slurp. When you eat soup remember also to dip your spoon in by moving it toward the center of the table rather than toward you, and never bring your head down to the bowl or spoon; always bring the spoon up to your mouth. Then dab at the corners of your slippery ruby lips with the linen napkin but don’t leave it on the table, place it back on your lap. Ah there’s no place like home, click click, even if it’s a double wide.

Loren Muse Smith 7:52 AM  

@QuasiMojo- and sip the soup from the side of the spoon. NEVER insert the spoon into your mouth. And when you don’t have the spoon in your hand, make sure it’s on the saucer holding the soup bowl and not just languishing in the bowl. Unless, of course, it’s a soup plate on a saucer...

Lewis 7:53 AM  

Yesterday, after seeing that the constructor was David Steinberg, I came into the puzzle thinking, "Yay! This is going to take work, but it's going to be worth it; it's going to be a thing of beauty, and have the stamp of high quality." Today, after seeing Robyn's name, I thought, "Yay! Clever cluing, smiles, and snappy answers, fun fun fun." Both lived up to their hype!

TonySaratoga 7:55 AM  

TASE/TEVAS cross = death to my time

TJS 8:06 AM  

I knew Rex would love this one because it should lead to record times for time solvers, but for me, it was a real letdown for a Saturday. I get a fresh cup of coffee and settle in for a real battle and then its over 10 minutes later ? Not "delightful" in my book, but I see I'm in the minority, at least in the early returns. And BTW, "cape" is terrible.

pabloinnh 8:07 AM  

Hand way up for "too easy for a Saturday". I never time myself but this was over before I got warmed up. All the long answers, although fine fill, were first guesses. Imagine that.

CAPE works just fine. Around here it's always used to describe a house type. Fun fact-we owned a nice piece of property complete with a DOUBLEWIDE, which we rented out for a time. Eventually we sold the DW to a delighted young man who agreed to remove it. We put our CAPE on top of the foundation, with some modifications, and have been here ever since, where the whitetails and turkeys roam and the coyotes howl at night.

Good fun, but I prefer a Saturday that's not a Monday.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

So badly wanted SLUmP instead of SLURP (46D), thinking it must have had something to do with posture, that I didn't even saw the down clue until the third pass. Cost me some time there.

Otherwise, WOW! A new Saturday best at 6:44!!!

The longs were all gettable off of only a few, well-placed squares. And the grid was light and airy, never really bogging down.

Enjoyed it!

Small Town Blogger 8:29 AM  

Very easy - my times are usually 3 Rex’s but today was more like 1.2 Rex’s. I filled in so many of the long down clues with barely a single cross. Only error was “stun” for “lase” but fixed that pretty quickly.

Aketi 8:29 AM  

@Quasi, I was trained in the same tradition. My husband was not. He SLURPs and gulps. So even if I believed @Rex’s self-justifying claim that SLURPing aids in taste, I doubt my husband benefits from it since it appears that any substance entering his mouth goes down so fast that it bypasses his tongue. I now realize that I stopped making soup and noodle dishes because the duration and intensity of his SLURPing makes me want to use the choke holds I use in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to make it stop. I have also learned to NEVER remain in the same room when he’s SLURPIng his coffee. All attempts at trying to teach him how to blow and sip failed. I’ve also given up on nice restaurants with tasting MENUs since there is nothing no worse than being stared at when you take an hour longer to eat your food than your impatient dining companion.

To all those who shudder in disgust at the addition of “ing” to ADULT, child, children, sister, brother, etc, I’m feeling a moment of empathy for you now since I have the same reaction to SLURP. An interrogator could get me to confess to anything by locking me in a room with a SLURPer and a bowl of soup.

Hartley70 8:33 AM  

I was stuck on salad dressing so CAPE made no sense to me despite having lived in one. It ruins the smarts I felt for correctly spelling BAOBAB.
I’m too intimidated to ever order soup while dining out. Leaning forward and lurking over the bowl is the only way I don’t wear it.

amyyanni 8:45 AM  

I love time travel books. And the word plummet appealed today. It deserves more use. TGI-another 4 day weekend!

Rube 8:47 AM  

I don't understand how "the wheels came off" and you're still solving in 7plus minutes. That is a total contradiction. I know plenty of people who call themselves ABIE. If you don't know what "fine dining" is that's on you. Same for
PENCE. True, there are much better clues for pence, but that's the constructor's choice. This puzzle was too easy and quite boring.

DBlock 8:53 AM  

Odd week
Tuesday felt like Saturday
Thursday a killer
And for the second Saturday in a row felt like a Wednesday
No struggle
Everything just went in
No questioning or alternate possibilities for anything
Please make Saturdays Saturday again

GILL I. 8:57 AM  

Yep....Could've run on Tuesday and I would have been happy.
I always enjoy Robyn's puzzles but I think Will misplaces them often. All of her entries were smooth sailing - like the ALEE direction.
I love fine dining. It's such a treat to have a dress code one must adhere to. When I first arrived in Sacramento there were really no fine dining establishments. Well, there was Aldo's with the piano bar. No one here ever dressed up for anything except for the annual Jazz Jubilee. It's a different scene now; Sacramento has finally grown up. What's wrong with treating yourself to a formal atmosphere and your own sommelier?
Speaking of soup etiquette and all that. suffer from misophonia. A SLURP noise will drive you to drink your tea holding out your right pinkie. It's a real thing. I don't mind too much if it's a little SLURP, it's the lip smacking, finger licking that drives me nuts. My brother-in-law does that all the time. He's 62 and he still licks every one of his fingers including his THUMB after a bite of something. I mean this sweet very smart guy pushes his meat into his fork. I told him once to at least use some bread but he looked so hurt by my comment, that I never mentioned it again. Yes...Fine dining.
Our STEAM BOAT is the Delta King - parked on the Sacramento River. They serve pretty good crab cakes with a view.
Friends may come & friends may go & friends may PETER OUT you know...But we'll be friends through thick or thin, PETER OUT or Peter in.

Trombone Tom 9:08 AM  

CAPE made no sense to me until I came here. Not so well known to us Left Coasters.

Suzie Q 9:10 AM  

I loved this delightful puzzle. My understanding of the process of NYT publishing of puzzles keeps me from criticizing based on the day of the week. The constructor doesn't have a say in the matter.
Leave it to Rex to ruin the concept of good table manners. If you looked hard enough you probably could find tons of dining habits that fine in one place and frowned on in another so stop trying. Good manners has nothing to do with class. Rex is starting to sound like a Communist or something. I'm with @ Aketi on the matter and adjusting to a similar dining companion. Add crunching ice cubes to the list.
Some nice tricky clues like the ones for item and ruby slippers. I read somewhere that in the book her slippers were silver.
Trimester was odd to me because I only know that word to commonly describe a stage of pregnancy.
College for me was always semesters or quarters.
Thank you @LMS for addressing the "his or her" issue. Indeed.
And thanks to Robyn for another fun puzzle.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

What a great clue for BALCONY SEATS (5D). And for ITEM (15A). And for MUTT (16D). And for PLUMMET (23A). And for RUBY SLIPPERS (21D). And for JUNIOR PROM. Also, I laughed at the answer SLURP as the fine dining no-no. These are the pleasures that LIT UP this puzzle and that make me want to give it more than one THUMB up. Can we have SMORE soon, Robyn?

Yes, it was pretty easy for a Saturday, but it was also fun, and I found it challenging enough to hold my attention throughout. It serves as a wonderful antidote to yesterday's misery: no knowledge of arcane, arbitrary, forgettable trivia required. Robyn didn't construct this while scanning Wikipedia for the most obscure info she could find about every subject. She constructed it with imagination and playfulness and a focus on wordplay. And I say: Brava.

Z 9:13 AM  

I immediately saw through the John clue, but then did seAN to iVAN to EVAN. Yep, just a few variations. Also had BAnana before BAOBAo before BAOBAB. If only I’d gone with my first guess at RUBY SLIPPERS I’d have save myself lots of time.

TIME MACHINE sci fi gets trapped in the usual time travel paradoxes fairly quickly. The oedipal strain of orphan travels back in time and ends up being their own father takes @LMS’s POPPYCOCK story in a whole different direction. Anyway, not my favorite.

Anyone else amused that someone who hates the word moist comes out in defense of SLURPing? Seeing all the early morning soup eating rules is also amusing. The majority of them make sense in a “you don’t want the soup in your or your neighbors lap” sort of way. But I’m with @Hartley70, lean forward and SLURP is preferable to daubing soup from your shirt.

Robso 9:20 AM  

There are a lot of different versions of John abroad: Ivan, Ian, Evan, Jan, Juan, Jean, Sean, Hans . . . I’ve never read that clue and thought it referenced a toilet.

Teedmn 9:22 AM  

Yeah, I'd call Mike Pence more of a "shadow vice-prez" than president. He is mostly in the background. Cheney is what I thought of, reading the clue, but it didn't fit.

I made Rex's write-over of BAOBAo and was wondering what ____MoOATS was going to turn out to be at 11D.

CURLY is also "Full of twists" and _ILE ME A HAND had me staring for a while (fILE? Huh?). Thank the GODS for helping me fix that.

I thought the clue for FEARED could have been jazzed/toughened up. Would "Like four larks and a wren" work for anyone other than me?

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!—
Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard.

While I didn't set a personal best, this came in at almost half the time of both Thursday's and Friday's puzzles so I wasn't at all surprised to see Robyn's name at the top of this. And the smoothness was a good CLUE also. Thanks, Robyn.

RooMonster 9:22 AM  

Hey All !
Interesting grid design, having 8 long Downs, 6 of which are crammed next to each other (3 in East and West). My REACTion was also that this was a fairly easy puz. Though i still used the Check Feature for good measure!

Some writeovers, dreAmeR-AVIATOR, triO-MIRO, ___BOokS-STEAMBOATS, seAN-iVAN-EVAN, and Rex BAOBAo.

I laughed, I CRIED, I SLURPed, but no PETERSOUT. 😋😂


Z 9:27 AM  

I am so over dressing up that the very notion of some sort of dress code for eating means I won’t enjoy whatever your chef creates. Good cooking is not dependent on how people dress. Simple. However, and this is a huge however when you are trying to enjoy a meal out with 80+ year old in-laws whose hearing has deteriorated, can we stop with the high ceilinged, hard surface, open dining rooms that are loud and echoing? Having to shout to be heard detracts. My father-in-law, especially, might as well be eating by himself since he cannot hear anything being said, sometimes even when things are being repeated loudly for him. If you want to be inclusive to all consider designing your dining areas in ways that allow people to hear each other.

Passing Shot 9:30 AM  

Lovely, especially after yesterday’s mess. Some slowdown in the NE (damn you, PENCE) and had trouble seeing POPPYCOCK, but otherwise smooth and enjoyable.

kitshef 9:38 AM  

Outlier here, as I did not find this easy, nor entertaining

I’ve had a slew of one-letter DNFs of late. Today, it was tASE/tEVIS.

Many, including JK Rowling, have said that Harry should have married Hermione. But that is wrong. He should have married LUNA. And Ms. Lovegood should be the only way 47D gets clued.

Carola 9:42 AM  

So much to love in this puzzle - LIT UP with lots of sparkle in addtion to the RUBY SLIPPERS. The longer phrases were terrific, but I think my favorite moment was getting the cry over spilled milk. I thought I'd be rating the puzzle as "awfully easy," but I have to count it (in my personal ACCT-ing system) as a DNF, because I didn't understand CAPE: around here it's always CAPE Cod, but I have a friend in New England who always refers to those houses as CAPEs (Hi @Pablonh), so I shoulda gotten it. Speaking of dwellings, I loved the ark's CUBIT crossing the trailer's DOUBLE WIDE.

Bob Mills 9:45 AM  

West side was easy, East was hard. When did ruby slippers click in a film?

Suzie Q 9:47 AM  

@ Teedmn, That is a great little poem! My noisy dining companion has a full lush beard and his excuse for setting off my misophonia (thanks @ GILL.I) is that with all of that hair on his face it's like eating through a paint brush.

TGIF indeed 9:48 AM  

WS probably loves this administration because it is continually in the news. Constantly it's low hanging fruit. Whatever, it'll be gone soon.

My idea of "movie clickers" was originally "baby sitters." It fits, and it wouldn't be the first time I put in an answer and no idea what it meant but just think to myself, "Meh...if you say so..." I eventually figured out that the pair actually did click...three times, in fact.

I was thinking something a bit more exotic for John's alternative: Ewan, Ivan, etc.

I'm disappointed that Rex didn't give the Flintstones a shout out link for "ITSALIVING." I grew up understanding that phrase to mean work sucked...but it paid the bills. WW2 American capitalism...where Marx's fears of turning workers into capital blossomed and eventually became the consumerist society we live in today. There aren't a lot of people who make a living doing what they enjoy anymore...most people spend the vast majority of their time doing things they hate so for that little bit of time on the [manufactured**] weekend, they can do something they enjoy (all the while dreading having to go back to work on Monday). But it's a living...amiright?

**Our current idea of a "weekend" came into existence in 1938 when congress declared that a work week would be 40 hours. So for less than a century we've said TGIF and celebrated mid-week birthdays on Saturdays.

Nancy 9:51 AM  

I'm happy and relieved to say I pass almost all of the soup-eating etiquette requisites:

I don't ever ever SLURP.

I eat off the side of the spoon.

I don't tilt the bowl towards me.

I mostly bring the spoon up to my mouth. I may duck my head a smidgen, but not much, really.

Between bites, I put the spoon on the saucer, not in the bowl.

But, @Quasi, if I "moved my spoon toward the center of the table rather than towards myself" while dipping, I'd have the soup in your lap. I'm not all that dextrous, actually. I can't use chopsticks, for example -- never could. May I have a pass on the whole "dipping away from yourself" thing? Please?

And,because I'm not observant, I have never noticed the niceties of people dipping away from themselves. Right now I'm feeling guilty about it. Such incredible elegance of table manners deserves to be both noticed and applauded. If we ever have a meal together, @Quasi, I promise to notice and applaud. You have my word.

Uncle Alvarez 9:53 AM  

@Aketi, why the hell did you marry the slurping slob?

GILL I. 9:54 AM  

@Z: Here's the thing. Dress code for fine dining simply means "don't wear your dirty work overalls" to the establishment. ( Perfectly fine - as is slurping - in @Rex's Ramen joint.) What can be more pleasant than getting dressed up in something really nice, driving to a wonderful and expensive restaurant, have the maitre d' smile at you as he/she checks off your dinner reservations and shows you to a table with a view, have the sommelier advise you of the newest Lodi Zinfandel that is the latest craze, have your lovely waiter tell you that Chef has made some wonderful "Specials"; not listening to screaming children, enjoying the low lights and soft music in the background and then finally smiling with delight as the waiter says to you at the end of the meal "Why yes, we can prepare a cheese platter for your dessert even though it's not on the menu?"
Since my husband pays the bill, I don't care what it costs. I feel like royalty. I feel special and even though we'd have to pretty much eat hamburgers the rest of the week, that fine dining experience was worth every single moment of my evening. Just don't order soup.

'mericans in Paris 9:58 AM  

All the comments on SLURPing reminded me of when my parents would drive us down from central Maine to south-eastern NH to visit with my maternal grandparents. My grandfather had served in the U.S. Army during World War One, in Bordeaux, helping to design camouflage. (Yes, lucky him.) One time, when I was about five, my grandmother treated us to a scrumptious meal in her fine dining room, and I noticed that my grandfather was making loud smacking noises while eating. So I started imitating him. Pretty quickly, my MOM gave me a swat and told me to stop eating with my mouth open.

"But grandpa is!", I CRIED, defensively.

"That's different," she said. "He spent several years in France."

Um, maybe people SLURP and smack in Bordeaux, but they don't seem to much here in Paris.

@Z: I certainly agree with the desirability of making eating out more conversation-friendly. But not only. Sometimes when eating alone I feel I can't even just LoSE myself in my own thoughts, because the restaurant staff have decided that it's OK to subject their customers to loud pop music, or to turn on televisions in the breakfast room to Fox fake news. One thing I like about most restaurants in France is that they know that no soundtrack is a safer bet than the wrong soundtrack.

Tim Aurthur 10:05 AM  

I wanted 21D to be RUBY and Ossie, maybe the greatest screen couple of them all.

Doorboy 10:09 AM  

I flew through the west like it was a Tues/Wed, then got slowed down by the whole right hand side of the grid. I had “river” in place of STEAM at 11D. Was trying to come up with a tap dancing movie duo but AstaireRogers just didn’t fit. I also had “soso” (you know, two stars isn’t great but not awful) instead of ITEM for a time so that didn’t help. I thought I was on track for another fast Saturday but am happy that it was still half my normal Saturday time.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

In the film version of “The Wizard of Oz” Dorothy clicked the heels of her ruby slippers to return to Kansas. In the book, they were silver slippers.

JOHN X 10:15 AM  

This was a nice fun puzzle but was way too easy for a Saturday.

Put me down with the SLURP haters. There is something dreadfully wrong with someone who habitually does this. Also people who stir coffee and clank the spoon in the cup for like thirty seconds in some kind of bizarre ritual. I sit there quietly, politely not saying anything, but inside I'm fantasizing about sawing their heads off right there at the table.

jberg 10:15 AM  

Yeah, what everyone says -- excellent puzzle, great fill, but pretty easy. I didn't think of BAnana, but did consider BAnyan, but since it could be BAOBAB I checked the crosses first. Tough, because as a tree, their claim to fame is their weird swollen trunks -- I've never seen their fruit mentioned before. What one learns from puzzles.

But, @Rex, ramen shops (and other noodle shops) are not 'fine dining.' As others have pointed out, the term has nothing to do with the quality of the food, but with the elegance of the social setting. Sure, it's snobbish and based on class, and it's fine to reject it for that reason, but that's still what the term means.

If you haven't seen the movie "Tampopo" go watch it right now. Part of its humor is derived from reviewing ramen shops as if they WERE fine dining. The other parts of its humor are derived from absolutely everything. It's just the best. Particularly relevant to our discussion today is the class for young Japanese women about to be sent to the US by their companies; they are trying to learn how to eat spaghetti without slurping.

It all has a scientific basis -- since you are pulling the noodles out of hot broth (unless it's cold soba), if you don't slurp you will blister your lips. As I learned.

@Loren, you mean that elegant woman n the photo is you? Not at all the image you give of yourself here! (But that's your thing, I know.)

p.s. I never got a degree from Kellogg, but I did get a little silvery star I could pin to my cowboy vest.

TubaDon 10:17 AM  

Zoomed through the NW but CURLY got me twisted up. Loved the clues for RUBYSLIPPERS and BALCONYSEATS but why on earth does "Two stars" clue ITEM? That non-sequitur had me considering PEACE for awhile, since who would write a book about PENCE when he hasn't done anything?

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Why does ITEM = "two stars, maybe"? I don't get it. Help!

Bourbon Street 10:21 AM  

@ Bob Mills. In the movie “The Wizard of Oz” Dorothy clicks her heels three times while wearing ruby slippers. That’s what takes her home to Kansas.

In the book Dorothy is wearing silver shoes and she’s not dreaming. The Land of Oz is a real place. There’s also a good witch of the South,.

Am I the only one who kept trying to figure out a four-letter salad dressing as an alternative to Ranch?

Walk Away Renee 10:24 AM  

@teedmn and others — breath has been baited for so long now to learn all the revelations to come, or at least to see the historical record established, re the shadowy veep’s early campaign meetings with Russians, etc., that we’re gonna need a slew of snorkels or CPAPs pretty soon if that report takes much longer... and given the impressive list of recent VP’s and their obvious contributions to/take-overs of governing, maybe it’s time to adjust our ideas about the position’s supposed powerlessness... and, about the words in the puzzle rather than their content, and the construction: easier is sometimes welcome in these sometimes horrifying times, and especially appreciated when combined with, as others have said, smiles of delight and smoothness

QuasiMojo 10:25 AM  

@Nancy, it would a pleasure dining with you one day. Perhaps we should start with some borscht at the Russian Tea Room?

Tim Aurthur 10:31 AM  

Two movie stars having a romance will be called an ITEM in the tabloids.

JC66 10:31 AM  

Agree that this puzzle should have been switched with yesterday's.

Hand up for having river before STEAM.

2 movie STARS are an ITEM in the tabloids.

I don't eat soup.

Grouchy Sipper 10:38 AM  

Cringing at slurping is certainly on my annoyance list. Another is commenting without reading what others have written on the blog. Yesterday's example was the toy pup thing. Today it is ruby slippers that were silver in the original story. In your rush to seem like you're smarter than everyone else perhaps you should read the comments first to prevent looking like a redundant moron.
Sorry, too much coffee with my corn flakes I guess but geez.
Puzzle had some nice moments. Mom was mew and moo at first.
What with Shrek I guess ogres aren't feared so much anymore.

Bourbon Street 10:39 AM  

@ Tuba Don and Anonymous 10:19, “two stars” refers to two movie stars, e.g. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise were an “item” (in magazine parlance) when they were dating.

A friend of mine doesn’t SLURP, but she is directionally-challenged when squeezing lemons in a restaurant. Instead of the lemon juice going in her iced tea or on her fish, it often ends up squirting in the middle of the table (if we’re lucky) or on her dining companions (if we’re not lucky).

mmorgan 10:50 AM  

I had pretty much the same solving experience as Rex, although WPM and CUBIT took no effort. I found this easy for a Saturday but enjoyed it immensely, especially after Thursday and Friday, which for me were complete disasters. I didn’t enjoy it just because I found it relatively easy, but it was nice to be able to solve a puzzle again!

One time in a very large pho restaurant in the Vietnamese area east of New Orleans, I was instructed that it was very rude NOT to slurp.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

@Tim Aurthur - Thanks! SMH! So obvious (but I couldn't get past a two-star rating out of five).

Hungry Mother 10:55 AM  

Super fast for a Saturday, finished before the grandkids woke up. Can’t say more, still in Vegas.

GHarris 11:04 AM  

Strongly second Z’s comment about noise levels in restaurants. Yeah, I know the in crowd want places that have a buzz but give me a restaurant that allows conversation at table to be heard every time. That’s what I would call “atmosphere “. I think Rex misconstrues the shadow reference to Pence. Not meant here as the power broker ala Cheney but rather describes a constant presence at the side of our VSG who never says anything except maybe “Amen “, more like a spook than a shadow.

asdfasfd 11:26 AM  

I had PUTIN for PENCE at first and am not ashamed to say so. Would have been in the 6-7 minute range if the east had played like the west. Ended up with a PR regardless.

DrBB 11:42 AM  

Very enjoyable--and yeah, fast--Saturday for me. 10 min. Couldn't get any kind of toehold at the top, lots of guesses that later turned out to be right but nothing I was confident about, so I just skipped around, got the gimme at 34A and things started clicking from there. RIVERBOAT was my biggest problem, but I couldn't get the crosses to work, figured it had to be something else. STEAM pretty much the only option and that zipped everything up. 21D was a real gem, so to speak.

Can't believe BAOBAB was a problem for Rex. Guess his dad didn't read him the Just So stories at bedtime when he was a kid. Mine did.

JOHN X 11:45 AM  

@Grouchy Sipper 10:38AM said:

"Cringing at slurping is certainly on my annoyance list."

So which one is it? Are you annoyed at slurping, or are you annoyed at cringing at slurping?

I didn't read the rest of your comment.

Malsdemare 11:54 AM  

@Susie Q and Aketi, I'm with you on both the annoying slurping and the joys of an occasional night out for fine dining. In addition to slurping, my beloved will start a sentence, take a bite of whatever, chew, and then between chews, finish whatever he's talking about. If I did that, not only would my mother rise up from the grave to slap me silly, but I'd lose the floor instantly.

In all honestly I was hoping the book was about a different VP; I could use something that would make me forget this awful administration and maybe suggest another was worse? Instead, I'm reading "Lisette's List."

Oh, the puzzle was fine. It took me a while to get inside Robyn's brain, but once I did, I managed to finish in a respectable, for me, time. I had oBIE for my nickname main,y because I've always pronounced ABIE with a short a. But small nit; no way was 6a LoSE.

I too loved PLUMMET, GIVE ME A HAND, POPPYCOCK. I wanted the BOATS to be riverBOATS, or PADDLEWHEELS, but neither fit. But I'll accept STEAMBOAT.

Thanks Robyn!

Malsdemare 11:59 AM  

@Nancy and others. Actually, there's a rule about the dipping thing; it depends on whether the soup is cream- or broth-based. You go away from the bowl with one, and towards yourself with the other, but I'll be damned if I can remember which is which. Since my mom has not arisen to confront my soup habits, I can't ask her and am too lazy to look it up.

Banana Diaquiri 12:14 PM  

it may just be urban legend, but SLURPing is a sign of complement when eating Arab style. me muvvah slapped us upside the head if did do so at the dinner table.

jb129 12:24 PM  

I love Robyn's puzzles!

SouthsideJohnny 12:25 PM  

The clue fo 48A seems wierd. A child cries for its mother after a spill, perhaps ? Any other interpretation ?

Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

SLURP: What if the soup is still a-bubblin, when served to U? The first SLURP becomes a perfectly acceptable precautionary measure, at our house. Also, we at the chez M&A have developed a fine diner's soup-shovelin technique -- if the soup is extra good. It serves as a nice implied compliment to the chef. Raised-by-wolves noises should accompany each shovelin motion, for full effect. Burped-out "bony petite!" finale is optional.
And … Coffee SLURPs are of course essential for all recently-filled cups, unless U have purebred asbestos lips. Otherwise, parts of yer tongue might just end up floatin near the rim.

ABIE: huh. I always thought ABIE was pronounced like ABBEY. Learnt somethin.

CAPE/ranch: Sadistically tricky cluin. Don't make us come down there, Shortzmeister …

EXE: staff weeject pick. Admire its X-palindromacy. Better clue: {Cute opener for gallows humor??}.

Best non-SLURP-ed clue: {Mix} = MUTT. honrable begrudgin mention to the CAPE clue.

Superior SatPuz. themelessthUmbsUp. Thanx, Robyn darlin. And congratz on yer NYTPuz #20 -- didn't take U long, to get to there. Come back and slurp up M&A's brain here some more, real soon.

Masked & Anonym8Us


puzzlehoarder 12:31 PM  

Way too easy for a Saturday. No solving high whatsoever. To make matters worse I actually dnfed on this marshmallow by putting STET in at 57A. I totally fell for "saves" as a verb and was bothered that the answer wasn't STETS. I'll have to remember that LUNE is not a variant of LUNA.

Crimson Devil 12:32 PM  

Two stars together described in tabloids as “an item”.

Charley 12:32 PM  

I had an uncle Abie.

mbr 12:39 PM  

@'mericans in Paris 6:55am: Your last line reminded me of an old Wizard of Id cartoon that read like this:
Mother (reading the newspaper): They're running a "Why I Love Id" contest. Second place is a round-trip to Paris.
Daughter: What's first place?
Mother: A one-way trip to Paris.

Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Forgot to mention … if U don't SLURP on the first sip of yer hot liquids, the result is inevitably a reverse-SLURP phenomenon -- not a pretty sight & sound combo. Sooo … pay it out now, or pay it later, dudes and darlins.

Emily Posted by M&A Help Desk

jae 1:13 PM  

Yup easy, definitely easier than yesterday’s but not quite as lively. Still, a solid smooth Sat., liked it.

Snaky before CURVY and Mew before MOM.

Took me a bit of post-solve staring to grok that ranch and CAPE were houses not dressings.

CDilly52 1:24 PM  

tASE messes me up too! I cry foul on that one. Never have I heard anyone employ LASE when speaking of the act of using a LASEr device. In fact, even my opthomalogist in describing the technique for my retina surgery did not say “I am going to LASE the area...” She in fact said “rather than cautery, I will use the LASEr to make the repair leaving virtually no scar.” I did finish because I knew LEVIS had to be correct. However, I had completely finished the puzzle and come her for a quick late night read when I realized how the constructor intended to be using LASE. OK, I admit I am slow but still I cry foul!

CDilly52 1:34 PM  

Hand up for the salad dressing mis-direct! And I resisted CAPE even after I figured out it was houses because, as Rex pointed out, we call them CAPE Cods. Prairie bungalow or ranch , but I would consider a CAPECod Under the right circumstances.

Crimson Devil 1:36 PM  

Soup is perfectly good reason to tuck one’s napkin in shirt collar, and ask for another for one’s lap.
Table manners, and others, are simply courtesies to others, per my sainted Mother.
Loved puz, ‘cept for “cape”. A welcome respite from yesterday.
RTR !!

pabloinnh 1:42 PM  

I think Robert Louis Stevenson explains the Pence/shadow thing pretty well:

"I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see."

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

A very enjoyable puzzle from start to finish. Thanks very much Ms Weintraub!

CDilly52 1:54 PM  

Easy/hard. I thank Antoine deSaint-Exupery for being able to throw in BAOBAB immediately, and for Mrs. Roenker in junior lit for Emerson’s essay on Compensation , “the soul strives again to work...” However, wanted riverBOATS, hated LASE as I commented earlier, and for me the NE and SW and their connecting diagonal went in like greased lightening. And then there was the SE. I. Was. Stuck. MOM and SMORE just wouldn’t come to me - huge headsmack when they both came to me. Good but not great time as a result over first, my solitary tantrum over TASE and second, the aforementioned corner. SLURPing at my house, and especially at my Gran’s was a “leave the table without dessert” offense, and that is a child of German parentage whose family can all bake like experts worst punishment!! I may have SLURPed once in my entire life. I’m sure Gran would lighteningbolt me if I did it even now!

OISK 1:57 PM  

Very nice, especially compared to yesterday's pop culture mess. I finished both, but in this one, I could fill in answers without wondering what it all meant; a Steinberg puzzle, for me, is very much a "garbage bag." The only WTF? in this one, was "Triptych Bleu..." = MIRO. I have no idea what the clue means, nor what the answer means. Anyone?

RAD2626 2:01 PM  

Agree with all the positive comments. Great puzzle; fun long answers; clever cluing. Terrific puzzle from terrific constructor. Fell for same misdirects as many: tASE and kept looking for a four letter salad dressing.

Odd editorial choice. Seems 80% of posters thought today was appreciably easier than yesterday. My time was 20% faster today. Will uses test solvers and has a staff. They must have had same thoughts. Why would they just not have been switched? I am sure there is a reason but seemed pretty clearly the better order.

Anoa Bob 2:09 PM  

The high-for-a-themed-puzzle black square count, 34, including those two cheater/helper squares in the NE and SW corners, made for a bunch of three- and four-letter entries and accounts for the early-week feel that a number of commenters noted.

So ABIE is pronounced like the first two letters of our alphabet, eh bee? Like M&A, I always thought it was closer to abbey.

To SLURP is to enhance the taste/flavor/aroma experience of many foods. I became a believer while living in Japan, where SLURPing says "Ummm, this is good" and is a compliment to the cook. Wine tasters are aware of this enhancement effect when they take a sip and then SLURP while the vino is still in the mouth. Some flavor molecules become aerated and travel up and through and around all the nooks and crannies of the nasal passages and sinuses for maximum flavor stimulation of all the gustatory and olfactory receptors. Life in too short not to SLURP.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

"Ranch" could refer either to a house or a salad dressing. The same is true for "cape (Cod)."

OISK 3:01 PM  

I try to eat my food as silently as possible. Otherwise, my dining habits are more scientific than polite. I lean over my soup, making the distance between soup and mouth as small as possible, thus decreasing the probability of spillage. It is also less work to eat this way. I don't pay attention to where my elbows are placed. I cut my meat with the knife in my right hand, and then, fork in left hand, eat immediately, without switching hands. I occasionally eat French Fries with my hands, especially Nathan's fries. If the heroine ditched her boyfriend over his noisy eating habits, making contact at the table with her future beau, would the film be called "While you were slurping?"

Potato Chimps 3:36 PM  

Riverboats for steamboats sent me into the shoals, but besides that it was smooth sailing. This one just clicked for me. I enjoyed it.

CDilly52 3:40 PM  

Easy/hard. I thank Antoine deSaint-Exupery for being able to throw in BAOBAB immediately, and for Mrs. Roenker in junior lit for Emerson’s essay on Compensation , “the soul strives again to work...” However, wanted riverBOATS, hated LASE as I commented earlier, and for me the NE and SW and their connecting diagonal went in like greased lightening. And then there was the SE. I. Was. Stuck. MOM and SMORE just wouldn’t come to me - huge headsmack when they both came to me. Good but not great time as a result over first, my solitary tantrum over TASE and second, the aforementioned corner. SLURPing at my house, and especially at my Gran’s was a “leave the table without dessert” offense, and that is a child of German parentage whose family can all bake like experts worst punishment!! I may have SLURPed once in my entire life. I’m sure Gran would lighteningbolt me if I did it even now!

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

Thank you! I’d been struggling to remember where I first encountered baobabs until I read your post.

Joe Dipinto 4:05 PM  

The weekend puzzles are just too easy of late. More teeth-gnashing would be welcome.

I don't remember any slurping incidents in my youth but my mom used to accuse my dad of chomping his food too loudly.
"Can't you chew more quietly? You sound like an orchestra!" My inner smartass always wanted to ask what piece it sounded like. Beethoven? Stravinsky? The Perry Mason Theme?

Bourbon Street 4:27 PM  

@Grouchy Sipper. There is a lag time between when a comment is submitted and when it is posted, so many comments appear redundant because posters have not had the opportunity to see what others have submitted. You probably overlooked that fact in your rush to seem smarter than the rest of us.

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

I’d like to believe you’re right about this. But he seems to be licking his lips in anticipation of his boss’s downfall. I hope “the base” doesn’t find him acceptable, but they might.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

Yes, a record for me. But: when you say Will Shortz lives the current administration I hope you mean only as puzzle filler?

Z 5:12 PM  

@Bourbon Street - Seems reasonable except I posted the exact same sentiment long before these comments went to moderation, so it isn’t just the lag time. Part of it is smart phone users who think inline replies are a thing (only on the mobile version, everywhere else your “reply” is all by its lonesome looking like a non sequitur), but a big part of it is that too many people skim and skip and then post. This is also the reason someone can post a link at 7:30 in the morning showing that VW put out a diesel version of the Beetle and people are still posting nonsense 5 weeks later. At least someone arguing that a 2004 Beetle isn’t a “real” Beetle has originalist immunity. They’re still wrong in any meaningful way, but at least it’s a definitional difference, not a “I didn’t bother to look it up or read any of the previous comments” reply.

@Gill I -Just because I’m over dressing up for dinner doesn’t mean anyone else needs to feel the same way. For me it’s the company and the food. Although, if it gets me a space where conversation is possible I might be convinced to feel differently.

Puzzled Peter 5:22 PM  

@Z (9:27):
I resemble that remark :-)

And to whomever:
I have lived with the various interpretations of 30D all my life.
It is not easy to live one's life resenting one's name.
As a youngster, I so wished my parents had picked a different one for me.

Jillybean 5:55 PM  

Record time here. And call me a heathen, but there is nothing better than curling up with a thorny puzzle while slurping good coffee.

burtonkd 5:58 PM  

Two (movie) Stars = an item in the gossip rags

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

Have another glass of whine.

Anonymous 6:02 PM  

4 Down is incorrect. Northwestern's Kellogg school grants a Masters of Management (M.M.) degree, and not an MBA.

burtonkd 6:07 PM  

@OISK - Miro is one of those artists that is even more famous in Xwords than in real life, so even without knowing these 3 paintings, you can fill it in. Much like any clue about hockey is ORR. This is from Wikipedia: Blue I, II, III is a triptych created in 1961. It is a set of three-part display abstract oil paintings by the Spanish modern artist Joan Miró. The paintings are named Blue I, Blue II, Blue III and are similar. All are large paintings of 355 cm x 270 cm each, and are currently owned by the Musée National d'Art Moderne in the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Nancy 6:42 PM  

@OISK (1:57) -- I assume that MIRO, the painter, painted three paintings titled "Triptych Bleu I, II, and III". And therefore those paintings are each a MIRO.

Aketi 6:49 PM  

@GILL, thanks for the diagnosis of misphonia. It’s actually true. There are lots of sounds that I find hard to tolerate.

@Uncle Alvarez, the SLURPing slob brings me cappuccino in bed every morning at 6:15 am so I can get up and go to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Cappuccino in bed when I wake up more than makes up for his irritating ability to SLURP any liquid no matter what temperature and even SLURP some solids too.

JC66 7:38 PM  


Where can a buy a cappuccino machine? ;-)

Barry Frain 7:57 PM  

I had an Aunt ABIE.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

I know that Rex is loath to criticize women and that he hates Shortz, but what makes him think that “Pence” was a product of the editor and not the constructor ?

Anonymous 9:00 PM  

I have lived in a Cape Cod-style house for 30 years, and we have always called it a cape. Nonetheless I started with salad dressing also.

chipschap 9:34 PM  

Disappointingly easy for a Saturday, although a pleasant puzzle overall.

Rex, PLEASE leave the politics out of your commentaries. I realize you live in New York and a certain mindset is de rigeur, but I'd rather just enjoy puzzle talk and wordplay.

Aketi 9:44 PM  


CaseAceFos 3:41 PM  

Frankly my friendlies, were it not for my dear OLD POPPYCOCK, I wouldn't be here!


Hi Rex, enjoy your puzzlesis , however, the answer to 51d, STRO is a poor answer to the clue of "2013 World Series Winner, for short". Yes ?

Y B Normal? 1:51 AM  

This for 12/29/18 and there is no 51 down.

Unknown 9:30 AM  

Been a carpenter for 40 years, NEVER heard it called a Cape, always Cape Cod!!!

spacecraft 11:13 AM  

Wait: this IS Saturday, right? Uh, yes. Then why am I crushing this like an EGG? Zooming along so fast I got ahead of myself in the NE and wrote in riverBOATS. I think I came in at about five Rexes, amazing for a Saturday.

Only two spots gave me pause: AMAIN, which I've seen before but blocked out possibly because of my dislike for it; and CAPE for ranch alternative. I'm running through all the salad dressings I know! I agree with many others above: without the COD it's pretty close to unfair. Oh, and that MIRO thing? Crosses. The clue was certainly no help.

But by and large, this was a smooth romp; probably the most serious criticism of it is the Saturday miscast. Attempts at cluing obfuscation fell short. I am happy for the chance to honor the most important damsel in all of our lives: MOM. Birdie.

Burma Shave 1:43 PM  


In the BALCONYSEATS I met your MOM,
her CURVY LEVIS LITUP this lout,
and I nearly CRIED at the JUNIORPROM -


rondo 2:02 PM  

This had to be a personal Saturday best. Flew down the west and up the east with only a short-lived problem in the NE and finished in about 2 Rexes; I mean I just cruised through this puz.

TIMEMACHINE TIME: I lived in a singleWIDE for a year and was I ever envious of the folks who had DOUBLEWIDEs. Am I glad those days are gone.

@spacey got it right again. The all-time winner is MOM.

Fun puz though I FEARED my pen would start on fire. Only disappointment was ending with that MUTT PENCE.

thefogman 2:32 PM  

Thou HATH done it again. Well done Robyn Weintraub. Give me SMORE!

5wksltr 3:24 PM  

Given this audience, is it rude to point out that it is "bated breath" not "baited breath", or should I just assume these sorts of things are typos and let them go?

rainforest 3:32 PM  

This has to be, if not the easiest, certainly the fastest Saturday puzzle in living memory. By that I mean that in places I was momentarily slowed, but all the long downs just went right in. CAPE/ranch was something I still don't understand. Nevertheless, I liked it.

When I was in high school, here in Vancouver, we didn't have PROMS; we had "dances". I think we still do. I dislike the word PROM.

For fine dining, my mode of dress has gone from suit and tie to sportjacket and tie, to sport jacket and no tie, to jeans. Of course I have "every day jeans" which I wouldn't wear to The Pear Tree, and my "dress jeans" (from GAP) which I would. I think it has been a sensible progression, and I try not to SLURP.

My new-to-me fridge is working just fine, thank you very much.

Diana, LIW 3:50 PM  

David yesterday and Robyn today. What a great time, eh?

And you coul have a great time, too, whilst meeting such friendly folks at the ACPT. I'll be there, along with some of your favorite bloggers. Come on. Have a good time, y'all.

I had a good time with this one, too.

Lady Di

thefogman 5:00 PM  

M'Lady, prithee bid me wh're thy royal and ancient ACPT tournament is locat'd?

leftcoastTAM 6:06 PM  

What a relief from yesterday! Thanks, RW. (But wonder about WS's placements for the week.)

Started off quickly, in the NW, of all places, and moved pretty smoothly, movint around to the NE. Got BAOBAB okay, but froze at the last T in MUTT. Conflated the crossing T of PLUMMET ("taking a dive") with the last L of PLUMMEL as in, say, a boxing ring. Knocked me cold.

May I blame a Bloody Mary and two glasses of Chardonnay?

leftcoastTAM 6:16 PM  

Oh, and I confused "pommel" with the non-word "plummel". (Hic.)

Diana, LIW 8:50 PM  


Why, tis Stamford of Connecticut, in March, where thou shouldst hie:

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for PuzzleGames

thefogman 11:32 PM  

Thanketh thee v'ry much M'Lady

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