Film with tagline Nightmare isn't over / SAT 1-19-19 / Three-syllable woman's name meaning gift / Persian word from which chess comes / Traditional drink with sedative euphoriant properties

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Constructor: Erik Agard and Paolo Pasco

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:58) (over a minute faster than yesterday) (shoulda been faster)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: KATIE Ledecky (3D: Olympic swimming gold medalist Ledecky) —
Kathleen Genevieve Ledecky (/ləˈdɛki/Czech pronunciation: [ˈlɛdɛtskiː]; born March 17, 1997) is an American competitive swimmer. She has won five Olympic gold medals and 14 world championship gold medals, the most in history for a female swimmer. She is the current world record holder in the women's 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle (long course). She also holds the fastest-ever times in the women's 500-, 1000-, and 1650-yard freestyle events. (wikipedia)
• • •

Inexplicably terrible start had me feeling like I was pretty slow, but apparently everything outside the NW of the grid went very well for me, and I finished with my 4th best Saturday time of the Modern Era (i.e. since I started keeping official records in April '18). I think the longer answers in the NE were easy off just the first few letters, and unlike many central stagger-stacks (those 13s in the middle of the grid), this one presented no problem at all. I feel like I did another puzzle just yesterday with MICHELLE OBAMA clued in relation to "Becoming," so that answer went in easily. Had the -TIVE so CASE SENSITIVE, also easy. PERSONAL SPACE took a tad longer, but not much. Some slight slowing in the SE, but otherwise, this one was very pliant—that is, once I finally got out of the NW and started going. I'm pretty mad at myself about the NW because, in retrospect, I should not have been floundering. I have this dumb habit of not looking at the clues for longer answers until I've gotten a bunch of the shorter crosses. This is a pretty good habit to get into—you're much more likely to know a short answer than a long one, so why not look there first?—but sometimes, like today, I get stuck fighting the short stuff when, if I'd just looked at a longer Across, I'd be able to crack things open. I had ELBA TEE ISLET and SHIA, but for some reason I got bogged down getting made at myself for not remembering Ledecky's name. Then I put in ANION (!?) instead of ANODE (2D: One of two poles). This made me want the bizarre ANO for 22A: Third of a dozen? (ZEE), my logic being that the third letter of "a dozen" was AN O. If I'd just looked at 15A: Under tight control, then ON A LEASH would've gone in easy. Or maybe I actually did do that and it didn't help at all. I really should record my solves for better recall.

Is ERMINES / LEAR / MMA better than ENGINES / LEAN / GMA? I feel like ENGINES and LEAN are both better, in that there are broader, better cluing possibilities for both. MMA / GMA is kind of a push. I love that MMA is in here, though. True story: I tried to include MMA in a NYT puzzle once and it got Edited Out! See 11-Down here:
grid via xwordinfo
SMA, ugh. Anyway, just thinking out loud here about choices. I don't think the choices here were bad at all. Just wondering why these choices over others. Only thing I didn't really like was the Latin plural on UVULAE (I never like Latin plurals on words that are fully English words, looking at you ULNAE). Overall, I really enjoyed this one. No idea about "HALLOWEEN II" (6D: Film with the tagline "The nightmare isn't over!"). Wasn't even sure about the Roman numeral. Thought maybe IV? Couldn't get logic on 40A: Start of a cry that ends "bah!" ... until I did (SIS ... as in "SIS, boom, bah!" which I guess is an olde timey cheer). So SIS got me the II of "HALLOWEEN II." Had PAC for RNC for a bit. GIT for OUT (11D: "Scram!"). DONA for ADIA (19A: Three-syllable woman's name meaning "gift") (me: "is it three syllables because it's DOÑA ... doh-nee-ya!?") (Your brain can sell you on terrrrrible ideas when you're stuck). That's it for wrong initial answers.

Loved the clue on PERSONAL SPACE (35A: Mine field?), and generally loved this puzzle. These are two of the best in the business right now. I'm not sure I've ever disliked a Paolo Pasco puzzle in my life, and Erik's batting something close to 1.000 as well.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

About as tough as yesterday’s, so easy-medium. No real problems except it took a few (@m&a) nanoseconds to remember ALIBABA. The current Chinese Co. floating around in my head is the one whose owner’s daughter was arrested in Vancouver.

That said, alba before BIEL.

Solid and smooth, liked it a lot.

puzzlehoarder 12:23 AM  

Quite a bit easier than yesterday. I was worried of how I'd do. Yesterday I had a 100.4 fever and today I hit 102.5. No need to worry, this solve moved much more steadily.

After I finished I had to ask my wife what CASESENSITIVE meant. I really had no idea. Of course I didn't notice the quotation marks around Becoming. Until the answer was pretty much forced on me. I thought it was just the phrase, becoming someone. Those two long across entries took more time than they should have.

Otherwise a much smoother solve. My last step was changing UVULAS to UVULAE.

Harryp 1:30 AM  

I really had to trust the short fill and figure out the long ones from that. The Moh's scale showed up again also. In Hawaii KAWA KAWA is Awa, It has similar names throughout the Pacific Islands. This solve was faster than yesterday's but no pushover.

Larry Gilstrap 2:50 AM  

The mantra this weekend: trust the puzzle. I had issues with the NW; SEE has more to do with vision than listening, but ok. It's Saturday somewhere and the puzzle should put up some resistance. Lots of long answers, but also lots of three letter fill, including two three letter spanners. Knee jerk response, probably.

News flash! I was a teacher and the clock was the tyrant and half of the BELLS were the emancipators, especially the one at 2:47 pm. Years later, it's still my favorite time of the day.

I've spent years feeding a wood burner and in my neighborhood it was a POT BELLy STOVE. Now we use electricity, which has become easier, cheaper, and cleaner.

My piercings started in some odd places, but ended up at the LIP. Never once have I admired an attractive body part and thought that a piece of metal would result in an enhancement. Get off my lawn! I'm sure you've seen the kid who looks like he fell face first into a tackle box.

Speaking of youthful foolishness, when I first started driving, VWS were the cool car, and I owned a series of Bugs. What a piece of crap! Stinky, high maintenance, no power, no AC, and unsafe at any speed, but we loved them. My first wife's dowry included a '66 VW bug with a sunroof. Sweet car! I just contradicted myself.

LEAR is one of the most complex characters in the canon. Add the Fool, who is really just part of the King's character and I rest my case.

Nice puzzle!

chefwen 3:38 AM  

Just the opposite of Rex, found this more difficult than yesterday’s puzzle. I’m sure putting reined in at 15A and coughs at 9A right away didn’t help my cause.

Loved the clue and answer at 17A POT BELLIED STOVE, PERSONAL SPACE was good too.

Finished with assistance. Do we have a word for that yet?

Shuls 4:00 AM  

In the app, the clues for Adia and Aida are mixed up - Aida is clued as the pop song, and Adia as the name that means “gift!”

Also, query - Does Patrick Berry no longer write for the NYT? Haven’t seen one of his in ages. Only see him in the New Yorker...

Lewis 6:24 AM  

A piece of beauty. Look at all those long words MESOPOTAMIA and HALLOWEENII pass through! Lovely clues for ALONE TIME, PERSONAL SPACE, and CIRCUS ACT, and pleasing answers in PRIVY TO, POTBELLIED STOVE, YEAR OF THE MONKEY, PERSONAL SPACE, and KAVAKAVA.

I loved the cross of PERSONAL SPACE and ALONE TIME, and I believe that will be my mantra for much of today.

Andrew B. 6:44 AM  

@Shuls, that cluing is correct.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Two very talented constructors who should be doing way better than this. TAKE THIS at 1A is awful. Then in the opposite corner we have PAY TO crossing HEADED TO, and to the left PRIVY TO, and up top that old toast "TO PAZ!".

How quickly you read the 'man seeking woman' ads? PERSONALS PACE
Used corporal punishment while watching the kids? SLAP-SAT
Observation made at the golf course? MEN SWEAR

JJ 7:33 AM  

Fantastic puzzle, with some great cluing on the short answers. I still can't believe that Erik Agard didn't have a 3 month run on Jeopardy

amyyanni 7:49 AM  

Wow. Most excellent. Had to fight to get ALONETIME due to my MEH for NAH. A colleague is into MMA so that was a welcome gimme. And my VW had a wooden back bumper and failing heater; fit in well in early '80s Cambridge.

Rube 8:44 AM  

Rex wrote you're much more likely to know a short answer than a long one so why not look there first. Here is why. It is more FUN to look at longer answers and Bill them over for a bit to see if you can get them without having to rely heavily on stuff like VWS or ISU or RNC or NAH or EKE or TAR

Teedmn 8:46 AM  

I made this harder than it had to be - "Not feeling it" was meH for long enough that "ALl mE TIME" went in at 12D and stymied all efforts to figure out what _O_BELLI_DSTl_E was. Finally, with TO_A_ in at 1D, I figured the Mohs scale had something to do with gems and PO_BELLI_D belied my answers in the NE and all was fixed.

I had a similar failure to recognize what was in front of my face at 34A. Of course, I know that MICHELLE OBAMA has a book out and is crisscrossing the country on book tour, but for some reason the title hasn't sunk into my brain so MIC_E_LEOBAMA (wasn't sure about that last A) had me seeing LEO and scratching my head. Didn't help that cIS Boom Bah was never going to let DO S_OTc become DO SHOTS. When I turned my gaze slightly to the right and had OBAMA SLAP me in the face, I was finished, yahoo.

Then there was the no-surprise of seeing the constructors were EA and PP. Those two on their own usually make me do CIRCUS ACTS (great clue for that one) while solving. Having them gang up on us explained my difficulties, though at 25+ minutes, this was really at my "medium tough Saturday" average. Nice job, guys.

Z 8:47 AM  

I fully expect to see the wheelhouse/outhouse phenomenon today.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. Anything over 33% consistently gives some subset of solvers problems

Once I got going (in the SW) this seemed to go breezily for a Saturday. As is too often the case I thought this was relatively PPP free. Nope. There are a handful of answers that are marginally PPP, so I suppose it could be argued that it is just below 33%, but I count it at 24 of 68 for 35%. I expect many comments to be “easy” or “challenging.”

My List

Jessica BIEL
Harper Valley PTA
AIDA (do generic names count as PPP? I decided yes but I can see an argument to not count them when clued this way)

TOPAZ (Mohs Scale clue)
KATIE Ledecky
Idris ELBA
ROE v Wade

pabloinnh 8:48 AM  

Felt like a Saturday here. Example: Had MICHELLE pretty much filled in, and still missed the "Becoming" clue for many megaseconds (hi M&A), and this with her book on a nearby shelf. KAVAKAVA? Really? Had INSET for ISLET, which is not helpful. And on, and on. Finally finished with no cheats and was feeling pretty good and then I find that so far, at least, people thought this was pretty easy. Deflating.

I did like the idea that being told to listen can be a request to see. English at its finest.

nitram lepok 9:03 AM  

Had ‘party to’ rather than ‘privy to’. My Brit gene is suppressed

GILL I. 9:07 AM  

TO TO TO much.
TAKE THIS and KAVA KAVA were the most difficult for me. I only know the euphoriant by one name.
Easier that yesterday's but I think I liked this one a tad better - which isn't saying much. I really want an hour or hardness on Saturday; I only got about half an hour. Still, for me, and on the most difficult (?) day of the week, I guess I shouldn't complain.
ZEE didn't fool me - gave me the letter I needed for TOPAZ. So I had the P and the B from ELBA and I shoved POT BELLIED STOVE in faster than the fat could melt.
I liked seeing MICHELLE OBAMA sitting on top of PERSONAL SPACE. First Ladies never get that, do they... I'll have to read her book and see if I learn something I don't already know.
My favorite long entry was YEAR OF THE MONKEY. Hmmm. I think I was born The Year of the Rat.

Hungry Mother 9:11 AM  

Pretty fast today in spite of playing on Key West time, whcih is usually slower. Lang or BIEL, that was the question. Very enjoyable Saturday.

Suits and such 9:15 AM  

So the AIDA clue was different in different media? Doing the puzzle on the NYT site, it was "Musical title that's 19-Across backward." Which is right up there with random roman numeral or "the opposite of "

And correct me if I"m wrong, but women's wear would include suits as well, yes? These days I'm not really sure what constitutes men's wear specifically. Jock strap is the only thing that comes to mind at the moment. Women can wear suits, ties, slacks, shirts that button up on a different side, and yes, even briefs. (I've even seen some with fake flies so they look like BVDs).

As a guy, I might advocate for men to wear dresses...except that dresses seem so impractical. Funny that, in the day when women were only "ladylike" when they wore dresses, it showed more ankle/leg than anything women might wear today. Makes me wonder if women weren't relegated to wearing dresses at the pleasure of their [mostly] benevolent patriarchs. But, as they said in the 1970s, "You've come a long way, baby." <--- Virginia Slims' sexistly sexist slogan. Note the diminutive "Baby" as a nod to the progress...but in an infantile way.

Ah, the days of blind sexism.

RooMonster 9:19 AM  

Hey All !
SEE HERE, this wasn't that easy for me. Sometimes I think it's just all psychological when you start a SatPuz. "This is gonna be tough!" the ole brain tells yourself. So you're apprehensive when you start, and that leads to slow solves. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!

M&A, didn't you start those clues like Third of a Dozen? on your runtz with the famous double question marks? I'll give you credit for it. :-)

Puz was OK. Not much dreck, three TOs, though, as pointed out before.

I'm HEADED TO the MENS WEAR Dept. in MESOPOTAMIA with SHIA to find some TOPAZ.

Again, no F's! No respect...


Unknown 9:19 AM  

maybe I am having a senior moment what the heck is idest

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I don't get "Third if a dozen" = ZEE. Is it just me?

TubaDon 9:23 AM  

Can't match Rex for speed but I had no trouble with the NW. Was able to solve the entire puzzle contiguously, ending up in the NE. No idea what MMA is or one KAVA, let alone two of them.

Tita 9:35 AM  

@Puzzle...feel better soon!

@Pablo...I hesitated with SEEHERE as the answer just for that reason. Fun.

@Larry...great description of some of the more heavily-pierced folks out there. What a lot of maintenance that must take.
The most extreme example that I have encountered was a young man who, in addition to many such adornments, connected one of the studs in his ear to one of the rings in his nose with a chain.

I know it's a bit ridiculous that I feel so strongly that ear piercings (only one per, thankyouverymuch) are wonderful, elegant, *normal*, but anything beyond that is weird, creepy, gross, sad, scary...

Lion before LEAR. Zed before ZEE (I've been spending lots of time on Canada these days, and here"from a to Zed" about 2/day.)

Didn't take too long trying to fit johnmalkovitch in at 34a.

Any Saturday that I can finish on Saturday is fine my me, even if I technically dnfd by overlooking SHyA.

Joan 9:40 AM  

My question exactly!

Blind Idiot God 9:41 AM  

Yes, what the hell is an IDEST?

Unknown 9:42 AM  

Anonymous, not just you - I also don't get ZEE.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

id est = that is

QuasiMojo 9:54 AM  

Why is it always the one day I don’t save my intended comment that it doesn’t get posted? Ah well. I liked this easy-peasy puzzle but have to admit I’ve never heard of the name Adia.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Who's job is it to dumb down clues? On a Saturday?! See "(mints)".

Nancy 10:00 AM  

So I always ask for tough cluing and this puzzle had it in spades, but was the cluing always fair? NAH, CROAKS I. The syntax of two long clues seemed really tortured in relation to their answers: MICHELLE OBAMA (34A) and PERSONAL SPACE (35A). And then you have POT BELLIED STOVE. Now I'm no cook and I've probably never even seen one, but does it really "burn fat" as opposed to melting fat? I doubt burned fat tastes very good, and, anyway, this can't be the primary thing a POT BELLIED STOVE does. If I knew what the darn thing was, and if I could cook, I think I'd use it to make stew.

LIEGE instead of PIECE for the "King or queen" (41D) and I MEAN instead of ID EST (43D) loused me up in the SE for the longest time.

A number of years ago, a tennis acquaintance came running up to me at the courts. "Have you gotten your ALI BABA yet?" she enthused. Then, shouting: "HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOUR ALI BABA YET???" I had no idea what on earth she was babbling about. Still don't.

Why does anyone run to see a movie with the tagline: "The nightmare isn't over"? I'd run all right -- in the exact opposite direction.

A very challenging puzzle -- sometimes fair, sometimes not so much. I liked it but didn't love it.

Glenn Patton 10:05 AM  

And ZEE is the 3rd letter of "dozen".

mmorgan 10:05 AM  

Played very tough for me, but I liked it a lot.

Hey @Gill, I’m a rat, too!

burtonkd 10:14 AM  

@anon 9:21 zee is the third letter in dozen

Had Alan king first.
@Z PPP quibbles - I enjoy seeing your lists and admire that you go to the trouble so often. Asia technically a proper noun, but including continents makes your point less effective. Topaz just generic name of a gemstone, no? Is PTA as clued? 3 letter School group in the clue, so don’t need to know anything about the show. Also wondering about year of the monkey. As you allude to, Aida solvable by giving looking glass treatment to adia, although Aida probably much more known as opera, musical and historical figure than adia.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Couple of quibbles. On a leash is weak. The clue goes to the trouble of using an ajective, tight, but the answer lets us down. Beter by far to use the far more common and accurate on a SHORT leash. Why add the word tight?
And make no mistake History Begins at Sumer. No need to hedge with the pusillanimous hedge "believed".

Sam Kramer

TJS 10:33 AM  

@Nancy, think of "fat" as the shape of the stove, not what it is burning. Got me at first glance also.

Bob Mills 10:34 AM  

Fun puzzle. Finishing a Saturday feels good.

Crimson Devil 10:41 AM  

Latin for i.e.

Jillybean 10:44 AM  

Too easy for a Saturday but lots of fun/fresh clues.

Nancy 10:50 AM  

@GILL and @mmorgan -- I've gone my entire life without knowing what animal year I was born into according to the Chinese calendar. Nor did I miss knowing; not knowing was hardly a major lack in my life. But your comments just now impelled me to look it up and [oh, happiness!] I was born in the Year of the Horse. There was just a program on PBS this week called EQUUS, and it's about what a magnificent animal the horse is: swift and smart and sensitive and responsive and, of course, an animal of overwhelming, breathtaking beauty. I am so thrilled!!!!!! Meanwhile, I send my heartfelt condolences to the aforementioned @GILL and @mmorgan for their great misfortune in being Rats. I know we can't all be Horses, but even so...

Someone pointed out to me on another puzzle blog (yes, I know, I know, I'm not always monogamous) that "Fat burner" refers to the shape of the POT BELLIED STOVE and not what it cooks. Therefore it's a much better clue than I thought, and I offer my apologies to EA and PP.

Nancy 10:52 AM  

We were typing at the same time, @TJS (10:33), so I didn't see your comment until after I posted mine. Turns out that I could have been monogamous after all :)

Crimson Devil 10:52 AM  

Very enjoyable Sat. ‘Though I don’t keep time, sailed through, smiling all the while.

jberg 11:05 AM  

Cough didn't seem quite right for the clue, but it worked with CUD, so I left it in for too long-- I could see RVS might be right, but I could only think of geT for OUT, and what could start with CRg? So I just went away, did the rest of the puzzle, and worked my way back up there.

@Nancy, do embellish on @THS, you don't cook anything on them -- they're for heating your cabin with wood.


Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Lol Mike's love for Agard. In your life hes batti n close to a 1000?!?!
Hate to break it to you, but all of Agards puzzles are in your life owong to the fact he's older than Asgard. For an English prof, Mike sure has his trouble with the language.

old timer 11:15 AM  

Easiest Saturday in recent memory. In fact, I'm a little disappointed at how fast it went. Solved in Rex-like fashion top to bottom, too because ONALEASH came to me early, and I had TAKETHIS almost right away,

I lived in TACOMA for a year, when I was in my 20's, but had forgotten that was an early name for Mt. Rainier. I grew up a fan of the Hollywood Stars and listened to many a PCL game against the old Seattle Rainiers, from Sick's Stadium. It would have been confusing, to say the least, if that team had been called the Seattle TACOMAs.

benjaminthomas 11:24 AM  

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this puzzle. But I think it is wrong/not fair/dirty pool to have just plain factual errors in there. This one had, arguably, at least three:

1. I don't think it is actually true that most online passwords are case sensitive. "Many" would be more accurate, I believe.
2. Zee is not the third letter in "a dozen". That would be "Oh".
3. The start of a cry that ends "bah" is actually "Rah" as in, "Rah, Rah, Sis, Boom, Bah!" Sis is the "middle" of that cry.

Unknown 11:33 AM  

I don't know how they got this backwards. Friday was about 5x harder than Saturday.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Had hiked/hip for 42. I like hiked for that clue much more than liked, even if hip is a more painful piercing. Had to check Rex’s solve to see the L.

Whatsername 11:47 AM  

@GILL I - I enjoyed Mrs. O’s book. Yes, there is a lot you already know but I thought it was worth the time. A good portion is about her life before Barack which surprisingly I found very interesting. And I was curious to hear her take on the whole FLOTUS experience without the filters of political protocol. She did not disappoint.

Arden 11:57 AM  

Much easier than any Saturday I’ve ever done

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

I was waiting for someone to call out the sis boom bah bit.
Anyone who watches Looney Tunes knows the truth.

Firecracker, firecracker
Sis boom bah,
Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny
Rah! Rah! Rah!

@merican in Paris 12:07 PM  

I did this puzzle on paper, and the fact that I was able to complete it, with no Googles, and no mistakes, makes me feel pretty benevolent towards it. Like @Rube, I always try to see if I can guess the long answers first without any crosses. Sometimes that gets me into trouble, but less often than not. I penciled in HALLOWEEN II lightly, for example, without any crosses, and it proved to be right.

Having partaken of KAVA (which I, too, know only in the singular) in Hawai'i, I knew that that word would appear somewhere in the answer, so once I had CROAKS and EKE, it went in twice. (Thanks for the image of "ALONE TIME with MICHELLE OBAMA and some KAVA KAVA", @Roo Monster, though in my fantasy it with be with the personage herself, not her book.)

Despite the PPP count, I felt that most of the names were inferable, TACOMA being a good case in point.

As for the cluing, TAKE THIS is a perfectly acceptable x-word answer, but I never have heard the phrase uttered by a leafleter -- an almost sure-fired way to get the prospective reader to turn away. I'd have clued that one as something a nurse might say as she hands you a pill.

P.S., Did anybody else write Clown Show before CIRCUS ACT?

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

I really strongly agree with the other anonymous about LIKED "Was high on". While I did put LIP/LIKED, this clue seems like the worst of several rather low-quality clues in this puzzle. And I did consider that HIKED would actually be a better answer for that clue, and HIP is a conceivable piercing location. I guess I might be unaware of some new idiom that somehow justifies this clue. It somehow doesn't even seem the type of thing that's researchable if one were to try googling. Quite honestly, I wish people wouldn't pierce their lips, by the way.

HSCW Editor 12:13 PM  

@Shuls - Aida is the title of (and the title character in) an opera. Opera is music too :-) (Yes, yes, I hear you opera haters, but pipe down.) Plus Aida does not mean "gift" in any language, as far as I can tell. The clues are correct. That said, "Musical title..." is obviously intended to lead people astray.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Well, I have a follow-up. I just googled "was high on" "liked" and two crossword sites came up on the first page of hits, including that just shows that this clue has been used in today's puzzle. That's basically confirming my stance that this is absolutely not idiomatic, and so a remarkably poor clue.

Tita 12:19 PM  

@Benjamin... Are you just baiting us? If you're accessing a site whose passwords are NOT case sensitive, they just might be run by Nigerian princes.
There are even systems where a backspace counts as a character in your password. "Most" is perfectly defensible and correct.

Spelling Bee spoiler alert... Very disappointed that I wasn't allowed to feel all smug when entering ORONYM, which I just learned this week from @lms. "Not in word list"... Oh yeah?! Go talk to my friend Loren...

Hartley70 12:22 PM  

This was a nice puzzle but way too easy for a Saturday as evidenced by my fastest time ever.

I didn’t have any real sticking points, just entries where I could see a few possibilities and happened to choose correctly.

My comments on comments are:
It couldn’t be Lange because of the e. Alba didn’t work. That left BIEL.

Sarah McLachlan had a huge hit called ADIA that’s from her Surfacing album. It’s hard to have missed the tune @Quasimodo if you had ears in the early 2000s.

Why did I think of “git”. I never say “Git!”.

@Tita, I’ll raise you one. Even pierced ears go too far for me.

I’m in total agreement with Rex and that freaks me out.

Mark 12:25 PM  

I wonder if I'm the only one whose mind worked overtime to get in the gutter for "bugs of a sort" and put VDS...

QuasiMojo 12:32 PM  

@Gill, the cutest darn rat though. I’m a rooster btw. El Gallo! As for Pot Bellied Stove, one doesn’t hear the expression Pot Belly so often these days. It’s become the norm, hence unremarkable.

jb129 12:33 PM  

Hard at first but stuck with it cuz it's Erik! Thanks to both of you!

CDilly52 12:35 PM  

Me either! Someone please help!!!!

@merican in Paris 12:36 PM  

Hey @M&A, I just noticed that this puppy has only 2 -- two!! -- Us, and they're both in the same word! I guess with all the stress on ALONE TIME and PERSONAL SPACE, there was only room for the concept of "ME", with no room for much of "U".

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

yo, to @jae & @pabloinnh, for their time-honorin mentions.
yo, to @Roomeister, for his double-?? credits. I added a -meister to @Roo, becuz I believe he recently hinted that he'd had a puz accepted by the NYT ... yes?

@Roo, again: that there ZEE clue of {Third of a dozen?} is certainly cool and unusual, but that "a" word in there is somethin the M&A woulda tried at all costs [short of refunds] to avoid, in his runtpuz double-?? clues. Unless the "a" counts in the countin, of course. I see that there's already been Comment Gallery complaints about this peck-a-dillo. Sooo … QED, on that issue.

This SatPuz was pretty well done, tho. Smooother-than-snot and fresh fillins. I knew about everything in the grid, except for the same stuff as @TubaDon: MMA and KAVAKAVA. Maybe sorta toss in KATIE Ledecky/ADIA, as clued -- but lost negligible nanoseconds on them easy-to-get-ish little darlins.
Primo clues [except for ZEE] also -- the feisty clues were what kept M&A from totally shiftin the solvequest into fifth gear. Like @RP, extra-admired the PERSONALSPACE clue's evasiveness. Primo ahar moment.

Grid pattern hi-lites:
* The hallowed Jaws of Themelessness, at roughly 3 & 9 o'clock. Sellers of cartridge ink really like to see those guys comin.
* The relatively rare but highly commendable Jaws of Weejectness. See em? Each is like a Jaws of Themelessness with its middle tooth knocked out. And check out the corn-U-copia of weeject stacks, on each side of these L-bar structures. Sweet.

staff weeject pick: MMA. Masked Martial Arts.

Thanx, Agard & Pasco, for gangin up on us in a fairly+friendly manner.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


CDilly52 12:38 PM  

Finally got the ZEE clue....the third letter in dozen! How dense can I be?!?! Slow going but I did make it in typical Saturday time

jb129 12:40 PM  

Mark, I should've known VWs too since I drove my mother's 1971 Karmann Ghia until I got my license!

MollyTrolley 12:44 PM  

The original name of Mt. Rainier is Tahoma, not Tacoma! That took longer to work around than it should have.

Suzie Q 12:47 PM  

I had a bit more fun with yesterday's puzzle but this still was pretty good. I felt like these two guys were having some sort of contest with the tricky clues. "Hey Erik, you think that's a crazy clue? Try this!" That sort of back and forth is easy for me to imagine.
@ Larry G.(2:50) I love your tackle box!
@ kitshef (7:14) You're really on a roll!
A quick glance at the book cover looks like she is giving us the finger. Ha!
Friday and Saturday winners. Will Sunday give us three in a row?

Ethan Taliesin 12:53 PM  

I had to check the comments and read from Glen (thanks!) to see how ZEE made any sense.

That cluing sucks ping pong balls.

Cato Rosenbaum 12:57 PM  

Id est, i.e., i.e.

Manny 1:00 PM  

I really don't like the cluing for 25D. Writing is believed to have been invented independently in at least three different places (if not more). China and Mesoamerica often get the short shrift.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Why aren't there more transgender puzzle makers? A transgender person of color would be nice.

What? 1:02 PM  

Z is third letter of DOZEN

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Actually, Cato, I think you meant to say,

I.e., i.e., id est.

What? 1:07 PM  

Never time myself. At 82, have lost many neurons. NTL, I finished with no errors so hooray for me. Not ready for the Home yet.

Crimson Devil 1:09 PM  

Sorta wish nobody had clued in domestic goddess Nancy: was quite looking forward to hearing what she managed to cook on p/b/s!! Love her comments.

Hungry Mother 1:21 PM  

This puzzle made me miss my Moonbug.

Anoa Bob 1:36 PM  

At first I thought the grid was the same as yesterday's, only rotated 90°. It's those B2 stealth bomber silhouettes, yesterday in the north and south, today in the east and west. But today's are offset more to support triple stacked 13s across the middle, while yesterday's bookended triple stacked 11s down the middle.

Another similarity is the relatively high-for-a-themeless number of black squares, 34. And again that makes for a bunch of three letter entries, 20 of them if my quick count is correct. That's a bunch and a half. Hard to breathe life into those.

The school where I attended first and second grade was heated by a large, wood-burning POT BELLIED STOVE. That thing would get so hot that it would begin to glow. We were all warned to stay clear, lest we get a nasty burn. Some of us learned the truth of that the hard way. Ouch.

When I read the clue for 31A, "What most online passwords are", my first thought was FORGOTTEN IMMEDIATELY. Alas, too many letters.

I think it was the Colbert show, first generation, that lampooned our leaders promoting a war of choice with Iraq---remember weapons of mass destruction?---as getting us into a big quagmire called the MESS 'O POTAMIA.

nyc_lo 1:40 PM  

Seeing all the “so easy” comments makes me fear I’ve had some kind of neurological episode during the night. Brutal finish for me, almost 50% longer than my average Saturday finish. Nothing clicked easily for me on this one. After my first pass, all I had were the TV-Guide-level ELBA and TACS. Yikes. Just happy to finish it all.

Whatsername 1:44 PM  

@What? - I don’t time myself either. I look forward to my leisurely coffee and crossword in the morning. I would not dream of ruining it with some self-imposed deadline. Life’s too short. Enjoy!

Carola 1:49 PM  

I echo @Rex on "easy" and @Lewis 6:24 on the puzzle's many pleasures. This was a rare Saturday I solved without skipping around the grid: a start with ??ODE x ZEE gave. me enough to unravel the NW, with that nice wide STOVE then unlocking the NE. Then it was basically all Downs all the way. More VW memories we drove our 1965 Beetle for 9 years, until I drew the line when an infant was added to the mix. Sunmers required pouring buckets of water over the engine to deal with vapor lock and winters meant one person scraping the ice off the inside of the windshield while the other drove, also brining the battery indoors every night so that there was a chance it would start in the morning.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

This was an extremely tough one for me, but still very enjoyable. Thanks very much Mr. Agard and Mr. Pasco!

Banana Diaquiri 2:18 PM  

"Third of a dozen? (ZEE)"

well, of course it isn't. use of the indefinite article 'a' makes 'dozen' a variable, in math terms, which means it's referring to some actual dozen things in the real world, like eggs, or girl friends. use of 'the' would be more accurate. no article at all is truest, since the clue refers to the word/thing itself. cheating is cheating.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

I still don't get how ID EST is "words of explanation." Can someone help me out?

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Aida is a musical also...written by Tim Rice Elton John, I believe.

GILL I. 2:43 PM  

@mmorgan: The Good: We rats are intelligent, charming and quick witted.....True to an absolute "T"
The Not So Good: We are stubborn, wordy, too eager and we love to gossip. Hah! I don't gossip...
@Nancy: Horses are fine and dandy; I love horses - just not the ones who bite off finger tips!
@Whatsername.....I've always been the kind of person that admires the First Lady's. Their role has to be absolutely brutal - scrutinized at every turn. MICHELLE OBAMA happens to be at the top of my list for classy, intelligent and charming women. I will read her new book. Perhaps she's a rat as well.
@Quasi....Do tell. Which one are you? :-)

JC66 2:46 PM  

@Anon 2:41

ID EST is Latin for "that is."

That is, it's a clarifying phrase.

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

Wikipedia has TACOMA (variant TAHOMA) as the original name of Mt. Rainier. But in my years of living in Seattle I always heard it as Tahoma. It took a lot of my time before I was willing to let go of Tahoma.

Tita 2:48 PM  

@Everyone Still Mystified By IDEST:
"Id est" is a Latin phrase meaning "that is".

You would say that phrase when you are explaining something.
i.e. "I'm buying the car with the Cold Weather Package. That is, the optional heated seats and steering wheel."

And btw, i.e. is the abbreviation for Id est!!

Tim B 2:56 PM  

3d letter in dozen

pabloinnh 2:58 PM  

All the questions and comments about IDEST have me rethinking it as a superlative, e.g.-"Trump is the IDEST president ever.".

Aketi 3:01 PM  

That was a fun no Natick, no google puzzle for me.

@GILL I, LIKE @Nancy your post induced me to look up my sign since I vaguely remembered my mom said I was born in the YEAR OF THE rat.

@Nancy, I think you do fit your sign.

@Quasi, Turns out I was not born in the YEAR OF THE rat; I was born in the YEAR OF THE rooster LIKE you. Not just any type of rooster either. It turns out I’m a fire rooster! Coincidentally, the last time I visited my son in Ithaca I went to the Farmer’s Market and I saw a painting of a rooster I really wanted for our living room/mini dojo because the colors looked like they would fit in well. It was a tad more than I wanted to pay, but next time I go to Ithaca, I think I’ll get it.

@Carola, you reminded me of the timewhen one of my three college housemates had a VW rabbit that always got the single spot in the garage because it did not start if the temperature dropped. One night it dropped to minus 20 and we joked about the things people did to keep their cars running in the cold in places like Chicago. The next morning none of our cars would start. We had to wait until the afternoon.

Joe Dipinto 3:26 PM  

These are two of the best in the business right now.

Oh please. Stop hyping your boy-toys. TAKE THIS as a "leafleter's cry"? SLAPS AT? These rank with the very worst of the worst, in any puzzle. The ADIA/AIDA noncleverness. PRIVY TO, PAY TO, HEADED TO, HALLOWEEN II -- the badness goes on and on. Best to TAKE THIS puzzle and you-know-what with it.

Z 3:40 PM  

@burtonkd - I see your points. I’ll offer these defenses (while fully acknowledging that this at least somewhat subjective):

ASIA gets double PPP treatment, a Proper Noun and clued via the Olympic’s symbol. Fortunately the answer was ASIA and not Oceania.
TOPAZ is not PPP unless you get there via the Mohs Scale. I haven’t counted birthstone clues because there’s no named scale, but those clues seem arguably “Pop Culture,” too.
PTA is always PPP since it’s a Proper Noun, but it doubles up today with the musical reference in the clue.
YEAR OF THE MONKEY is based on Chinese astrology. Is astrology “Pop Culture?” Since I think we capitalize it (and western astrological signs) I went with “yes.” Of the ones you cited, I think it it is the weakest.

Let me add that I don’t think it is ever about a single PPP answer no matter how obscure. It’s always about the density. Look at TOPAZ. If you don’t know what the Mohs Scale is, ADIA is a WOE, and the “dozen” clue tricks you, how are you supposed to infer or deduce what comes after TOP - -?

@high anonymous I LIKED the Chargers chances of beating the Patriots. I was high on the Chargers chances of beating the Patriots. It’s a very common phrase in sports punditry, and I feel as though it is not all that rare elsewhere.

@benjaminthomas and @bananadaiqiri - Articles are not a part of the words they modify.

QuasiMojo 4:08 PM  

@Aketi, glad to hear we share the same sign. Or even year, maybe. Most dealers are open to a little wiggle room in the price. I used to have an antique shop and I can tell you we are all motivated to sell! Good luck with it. Sounds like a perfect fit.

Banana Diaquiri 4:11 PM  


so, what part of 'modify' don't you understand? that which is modified isn't that which isn't modified. yes? modifiers, by definition, change the meaning/semantics of the word/phrase.

Gabe Tuerk 4:13 PM  

Slightly better than average time but I struggled with most of the long answers save Mesopotamia. Sure were a lot of ? Clues

QuasiMojo 4:14 PM  

@ Gill, I am Fire too. Which means I am two years old. :)

Oops sorry, I have overreached my limit of comments today. But then one was not posted so I guess I can squeeze this in. Til manana.

Hartley70 4:21 PM  

@Gill. I, we rats are all you described and more xo

Nancy 4:37 PM  

"We rats are intelligent, charming, and quick-witted." Who knew? I mean, it's obvious that you are, @GILL, but rats in general? Who knew?

@Aketi -- A rooster didn't initially seem like all that much, but a fire rooster? That sounds like the best possible rooster to be. A rooster that lights up the entire sky. A real hottie, in fact. Are you a fire rooster, too, @Quasi? And, btw, thanks for the compliment, @Aketi.

Thanks to everyone who warned me not to try and cook in a POT BELLIED STOVE. You all must have laughed and laughed. @Anoa Bob -- I'm pretty sure I must be more or less as old as you, but even when I was back in kindergarten, our public school had real radiators. They hissed and spat and banged and made the most awful racket, but at least they were not POT BELLIED STOVES. Of course, I was in NYC. I'm wondering where you were?

@Crimson Devil -- I'm enormously flattered. Thank you! I'd send you your very own personal thank you email, but your Google profile is that strange circular version with no info on it at all. So I can't. You'll have to take the thought for the deed.

GILL I. 4:45 PM  

OK, so I'm not so intelligent. "First Ladies" please - no correction need apply here.
@Quasi - hell, I'm 94!
@Hartley: Damn tootin!

Tita 5:10 PM  

@Aketi - how did you find the qualifier? That is, not just Rooster, but Fire Rooster?
In my 22 seconds of googling, the sites I've found only have the base animal.
I'll check with my Macaoan niece-in-law - perhaps she can tell me.

Fire Rooster has got to be the coolest thing to be randomly assigned as. Maybe only something like Ice Dragon would be comparable.

I'm Monkey - what awesome qualifier might I find attached to that to make me happy about it?
OK - gotta check on my cake now - I'll ponder Chinese astrology another time. (Maybe Monkey's are known as bakers?

bauskern 5:36 PM  

Not feelin it I had MEH for awhile, so that had the NE corner a little tricky, but other than that, I thought this was pretty easy for a Saturday.

Masked and Anonymous 5:50 PM  

@merican in Paris: Just noticed yer neat U-count msg., which snuck in just ahead of my original postin. Yep ... got the two U's in UVULAE up top, but also got one more down south doin the CIRCUSACT. Sometimes hard to spot the lil darlins, when the pop-U-lation is so sparse.

Did U check out that @RP grid, tho? I can only see **one** U in the whole grid. HORRORS is, therefore, probably the puz's theme revealer, I reckon?


Blind Idiot Hog 5:58 PM  

@Tita A, how about the "Spanking Monkey"? *Juvenile tittering*

Barry Frain 6:00 PM  

@Joe Dipinto, we can do without your homophobic entendres good sir.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Fountains of Golden Fluids 6:01 PM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

RooMonster 6:06 PM  

Your puzzle brain must be working overtime, or you're reading something into something that isn't there. I don't have a puz that was accepted, but that doesn't stop me from submitting!

Chinese Zodiac -
How apropos that I'm also a Rooster. 1969. Actually an Earth Rooster. And got the nickname before I knew.
Had a buddy change it from Rooster to RooMonster.

But, I still take credit for ROOs in puzs if they are for Kangaroos. I'm flexible. :-)


Preferred Customer 6:31 PM  

I too started with TAHOMA.

Aketi 7:26 PM  

@Tita A, I found the “elements” on If you go to the page on the YEAR OF THE monkey you can see which element (fire, earth, metal, water, or wood) is connected to your birth year. No spanking is involved.

Masked and Anonymous 7:38 PM  

@Roo … Well, hey -- It's the thought that counts. Either I read it on BuzzFeed, or maybe I misunderstood this comment of yers, from a few days ago:

"But, for someone who constantly gets their puzs published, I'm really a nobody to correct his work. (Even thought I just did!)"

Maybe I mis-thought "I just did!" meant just got puzblished, instead of just corrected his work?
But, I do tend to hallucinate a lot, also -- U cannot believe what I constantly imagine we've got, for a President these days, f'rinstance! [Far bone-spurrin out.]

Keep pluggin on away at it, and I bet U score that NYTPuz, one of these days, tho.


Anoa Bob 8:37 PM  

Upon further reflection, I'm starting to see why several commenters questioned ID EST (43D) as being clued "Words of explanation". Yes, it's Latin for "that is", but those are not words of explanation themselves, but rather an indication that words of explanation will follow. So I opine that the clue was off, if not wrong altogether.

@Nancy, it was a very old, two-room school house in Middle Tennessee farm country, in the early 50's. It had no indoor plumbing. We had to use an outhouse. Ironically, the name of the school was Cambridge. I still have my report cards from there.

By my third year, they had built a new, three-room school, with indoor plumbing, flush-toilets, and central heat. It was nice.

Joe Dipinto 8:49 PM  

@Barry Frain -- uh yeah, sure...what? {scratches head}

Teedmn 9:46 PM  

I knew I was a YEAR OF THE RAT (1960 version) but did not know I was a Gold Rat. Sounds nice, no? But my main characteristics purportedly are being hot-tempered and jealous. I'll cop to being quick to anger (hey, I'm a Leo also, so fire sign) but jealous, not so much.

Why is that kind of stuff fun to look up?

Chim cham 10:01 PM  

Easy? Easy? That’s trolling.

jberg 7:04 PM  

Forgot to say -- the answer to @rex's question about what comes next after LITTERBOX is, of course, Chris Ofili..

thefogman 11:32 AM  

I'm surprised Rex wasn't offended by 30A.

Burma Shave 12:04 PM  


If you’re HEADEDTO the PRIVYTO have ALONETIME someplace,


Diana, LIW 12:33 PM  

Funny how often the stuff I get is the stuff @Rex claims not to know, and vice versa. Like HALLOWEENII. duh

and no, I have not seen that movie, or any of the franchise.

But I still did have a hard time getting started with this. Which I ought, it being Saturday and all.

Lady Di

spacecraft 1:01 PM  

Daunting at first: had ELBA, ANODE and ONALEASH for starters but trouble continuing there. Went south and picked up ISU, then put in Rep at 36--wrong, but it gave me the R for PRIVYTO and thus YEAROFTHE...some animal. After that it wasn't long till I had the SW, and then the whole solve started spreading like wildfire. Finished in the NE, where I held on to CoughS for too long; to me, that speaks much more to a scratchy throat than CROAKS does, but I put it down to an attempt to toughen the clue for Saturday.

Oh. but the toughest clue, by far, was for 34-across. That went in almost entirely on crosses; I think I had all but three letters in before I realized it HAD to be MICHELLEOBAMA. Apparently, from the image on OFL's blog, she wrote a book called "Becoming," but I knew nothing of it. That clue was a total mystery to me until coming here.

She, however, must yield the DOD sash to Jessica BIEL. The fill is pretty clean, though the presence of EKE knocks it down some. RNC for Rep was the only writeover. Birdie.

rondo 1:20 PM  

A unique and approved (by me) usage of TAR. Hand up for meH before NAH, but other than that pretty smooth sailing, especially with gimme MICHELLEOBAMA in the middle being of great help. Aren’t UVULAE more down in your throat?

What sounds like a lot of food poisoning? MESOPOTAMIA. [CROAKS]

@Hungry Mother – it couldn’t be Jessica Lang because it’s Lange. However, both she and Mrs. J. Timberlake, ID_EST yeah baby Jessica BIEL, are from northern MN. MEN_SWEAR by that.

Lotsa threes for Saturday, but I LIKED it.

Wooody2004 2:58 PM  

YEAROFTHE hONKEY at 49A kept me from seeing MESOPOTAMIA.

I need to retreat to my PERSONALSPACE to mourn Peter Tork, the MONKEe who recently CROAKed.

I predict that Random Movie Sequels (RMS) will become more rampant than Random Roman Numerals (RMN.

And now I need some ALONETIME to DOSHOTS.

Unknown 3:00 PM  

I thought any damned fool knew that Mt.Rainier used to be called Mt. Tahoma.

Diana, LIW 3:02 PM  

My final entry was TIPS, as neither speed drinking nor tip jars are part of my daily life. And I spelled MESiPOTAMIA wrong, hiding Michelle's book for quite a while.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the First Lady

rainforest 3:28 PM  

Relatively easy for a Saturday I think. I know a mnemonic for the Mohs scale, so that helped.

PERSONAL SPACE ending at the same square as ALONE TIME was a nice touch, and being able to slap down MICHELLE OBAMA (not literally, of course) helped to lay waste to the centre of the puzzle.

Everything went pretty smoothly once I sorted out whether it was BIEL or Alba. When I was young and foolish (as opposed to old and foolish like now) I participated in a shots round, and the results were not pretty.

Learned about Mount Rainier/TACOMA which was kind of nifty.

Nice puzzle, much easier than yesterday's.

leftcoastTAM 6:30 PM  

Slow start, relatively fast finish, and always a good feeling to finish a good Saturday puzzle like this one. Thanks, Erick and Paolo.

Long acrosses and downs helped move it along, and smiled to see MICHELLE's name in a prime spot.

Took time to dig out UVULAE/KAVAKAVA in the NE and ERMINE/MMA in the upper middle. In the SW, was surprised in learning about the Tacoma/RAINIER name change and needed the crosses for ORTEGA sauce.

AIDA was an unknown, but AIDA introduced her. Could add ASIA there just to round things out.

Enjoyed it.

Anonymous 11:30 PM  

Piercing your lip. That gives me the creeps. Not as much as piercing your privates. But to each his own. Who am I to judge ?

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