Predecessors of Transformers / SAT 2-16-19 / Fifth-century scourge / Ovary's place botanically / Rebellious Downton Abbey daughter / Another moniker for Empire City of South

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Constructor: Andrew Kingsley and John Lieb

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:16)

THEME: kiss types and New Age musicians ... or, none

Word of the Day: "GOBOTS" (20A: Predecessors of Transformers) —
GoBots is a line of transforming robot toys produced by Tonka from 1983 to 1987, similar to Transformers. Although initially a separate and competing franchise, Tonka's Gobots became the intellectual property of Hasbro after their buyout of Tonka in 1991. Subsequently, the universe depicted in the animated series Challenge of the GoBots and follow-up film GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords was established as an alternate universewithin the Transformers franchise. While Hasbro now owns the fictional side of the property (character names, bios, storyline), the actual toys and their likenesses were only licensed from Bandai in the 1980s, were not covered by the Tonka acquisition, and are not available for Hasbro use. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well that was easy. Really easy. Even answers I didn't really know, like "GOBOTS," somehow came to me as if out of a forgotten dream, or perhaps from a GENIE, I don't know. Weirdly, the answers I struggled with most in this grid were both food items. First, CARPACCIO, which I know, but couldn't quite come up with at first. CARAVAGGIO? No, he's a painter. I blame Thursday's "I PAGLIACCI." And then, WORSE than CARPACCIO even, was (somehow!) PICKLE (39A: It may be made into spears). I had P- then PI- the PIC- then PIC--E and still couldn't see even a real word there, let alone a thing that could be spears. But then I got PANSEXUAL (connected to the DOMINATRIX by a PICKLE, interesting), and had a self-hatred-filled "aha" moment. But I'm being overdramatic. I probably spent time obsessing about PICKLE out of pure spite; I was deeply resentful that every other answer was just bowing to my will, and PICKLE was all "No!" and so instead of bypassing it and just killing it with crosses, I got all "Do as I say!" and thus lost precious time. Most of the rest of the time, I was quite enjoying myself. Very much in my wheelhouse, and very clean, this thing was. From HOTLANTA to the "Simpsons" reference to the MINOTAUR, I was all over this.

I have one major bone to pick, though: since when is BRIAN ENO a [New Age composer]. Here's the list of genres that wikipedia has listed for him:

Now here's the list of genres that wikipedia has for YANNI (34A: New Age keyboardist):

You hear that, NYT: disavowed! Even YANNI's like, "no, what, don't call me that!" Anyway, I have never in my ENO life heard ENO referred to as ENO-thing like "New Age." It's a terrible clue, ENO (En Ny Opinion). Didn't know investment banks had anything to do with IPOs (40A: Job for an investment bank, for short), but I don't know anything about finance, so there's that. Didn't know Walter LANG but figured Fritz LANG was a director, so why not Walter? Very proud of myself for seeing right through 35A: Third character to appear in "Macbeth" (CEE) (as in, the letter CEE is the "third character" in the word "Macbeth"). I kinda think CEE crossing C-NOTE is bad. Like, a stand-alone "C" in your puzzle should mean the written-out letter "CEE" should not also appear in your puzzle, and the C(EE)s definitely shouldn't cross.

Puzzle's with X's are easy to solve. Well, easier than puzzles without X's, all other things being equal. I just know that POLEAXE definitely got me PIXIE CUT and OXO definitely got me PANSEXUAL and FLEXTIME definitely got me DOMINATRIX, all much more quickly than I would have otherwise. X's are fun but they give a lot away. You gotta keep your eye on them.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. 2019 NYT crossword constructor count update:

M: 41
W: 6

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


A guy in Nampa 12:20 AM  

VERY easy.
Wednesday/Thursday easy.
Not really interesting.

jae 12:23 AM  

Easy-medium. No real problems with this one. SCAr before SCAB but GOrOTS aren’t a thing.

Nice to see the complete BRIAN ENO despite the @Rex poor clue.

Recently watch “Valley of the Boom” on NatGeo in which investment banks played a. roll in the ‘90s boom.

Lots of lively stuff, liked it.

Pete 12:28 AM  

There are two buildings across the street from office, one a Shop Rite, the other housing an Amish farmers market Thur
-Sat. This morning I saw an Amish man in full Amish attire, beard and hair. He was buying grapes, using the self check out. He didn't seem to have any issues with the scanner, nor with using Apple Pay.

Old fashioned? I don't think so.

Mr. White 12:49 AM  

Hmmmmm....good question: Why is WALTER a better clue for LANG than FRITZ?

puzzlehoarder 12:58 AM  

This was a fun but easy Saturday. It came in 11 minutes faster than yesterday's puzzle. I didn't cold guess 1A but I read the clue for 9A and thought can this really be SHAPE? In went SCAR, HALOS, TALONS and SCALAR to support it. PANSEXUAL was the first long entry. It was instantly supported by OXO. This was like crossword 101 on a Saturday.

The flow never stopped even the SCAR/SCAB write over was easily fixed and it was the only one.

That SW section came close to a challenge. I'm not familiar with CARPACCIO and the 37A clue is a complete misdirect. I'm also clueless on the MONA poet but once I recognized BRIANENO all was well. Prior to that I was actually sweating over wether 29A was spelled SCOOPS or SCOUPS. My spelling is really that weak.

I didn't set any personal best but for a Saturday this was like shooting ducks in a barrel. Maybe in focusing on edginess and entertainment the constructors left out difficulty. Still an enjoyable solve.

Medium Poke 1:05 AM  

Crushed this one. Faster than Rex but likely nowhere near Dan Feyer’s time. I’ll continue to wallow in mediocrity, C’est la vie.

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

After yesterday's non-science y clue for SPLINE, today we have a non-science y clue for SCALAR. A scalar is a simple single dimensional quantity, like speed. (As opposed to velocity which is a VECTOR, having the added dimensions of direction.) OK science done...

You Americans and your crazy currency. I figured a 'Benjamin' must be a FIFTY because TWENTY wouldn't fit.

Agree with Rex about BRIAN ENO. But nice to see his whole name in the answer for a change!

Just for once I would like to see BOA clued as a snake.


JMS 1:38 AM  

I had ianeno, and didn’t see Brian eno ‘cause of that dang new age clue... cost me precious time.

martin 2:13 AM  

What's up with the constructor gender count?

Are puzzles submitted by women being rejected at a higher rate than men? If they are then that would definitely be cause for an outcry and a reason to dig out the pitchforks from the gardening corner of the garage.

Or is the men to women ratio of submissions closer to the 8:1 the count is noting? If that's the case, then there's your problem.

It'd be absolutely patronizing to accept substandard submissions solely based on the gender of the constructor. Instead of kvetching about a number, wouldn't it be a better use of the platform to encourage more women - young and old alike - to try their hand at authoring a puzzle? Or is publishing a stat out of its larger context the extent of this blog's shallow activism?

JOHN X 3:37 AM  

This was a good manly Saturday puzzle.

I guess I don't mind all that New Age shit but I was shocked that the best soundtrack was STARWARS. Really, STARWARS? Give me the soundtrack to The Dirty Dozen any day of the week.

Harryp 4:14 AM  

This had enough horizontal and vertical stacks to keep me in the game and figure out who and what the constructors wanted. It must have been easy because of my below average solve time.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

As with @rex, this was well ensconced in what I know and how I think, and it fell with hardly a hitch. That's not to say it didn't require the mental effort I savor. A lovely feature of this puzzle's design is the connectivity of the entire grid; it's like a big warm and friendly neighborhood.

Lovely answers in A LOT TO ASK, POLEAXE, and CARPACCIO, and smile producing clues for TALONS, DOMINATRIX, PIXIE CUT, CEE, and SPF. There's even a backward WETS to go with WET, not to mention PICKLE / PISTIL / SYBIL / CANCEL. And LANG has been patiently waiting for decades in some unknown anteroom in my psyche for today's massage.

Our dining room table, in our family now for many a year, is made by THE AMISH, and when it is uncovered by archeologists many millennia in the future, even if it is mired in tar, mud, dust, boulders and acid, it will appear as brand spanking new as it does today.

Hungry Mother 7:38 AM  

Quick and easy today. I had all day to solve it because I’m resting for tomorrow’s half marathon.

QuasiMojo 7:55 AM  

Lots to quibble with today. Too cutesy and in-the-knowish. The Amish may seem “old-fashioned” to ignorant observers. But they are very much living in the moment and up to the moment. And would consider this description inaccurate if not offensive. Are Buddhists in Tibet old-fashioned? Bullish implies acting like a bull. But the Minotaur is half-bull or at least his head is a bull’s head. He is not bullish, nor even half-bullish. I thought Hotlanta was a gay-themed event. Brian Eno clue was clueless and wrong. Isn’t it dos SCUPOS? Lol. Apparently “scourge” is someone who wields a whip! I didn’t realize Atilla was a Dominatrix. The Oscar answer should have read “crocodile tears” and I am surprised they left out the copyright or trademark sign for Oscar. The Academy usually insists on it. The music to Star Wars bears many unsettling similarities to the work of Korngold, most notably The Sea Hawk. But doesn’t reach its level. Wanted RANTS for Comments Section clue. I’m done with mine for now. PS, Great voice @Michele!

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

If you take the hyphen out of old-fashioned it works better. Relates to their clothing not their behavior.

DeeJay 8:14 AM  

Agreed, Martin. I've constructed three puzzles in my life (just for friends) and each cost me about 40 hours. I'm a guy and I don't know any women would could possibly spare ~40 hours to do anything as un productive as constructing a crossword puzzle.

If there is a gender bias in constructors, it could have to do with women having more important things to do than men.

Just sayin'.

Unknown 8:15 AM  

MANSCAPING should stay in private. Ew.

pabloinnh 8:19 AM  

Maybe I'm the only person who found this a little bit sticky. Had ECOUPON (very clever of me, I thought) which caused many problems and lost megaseconds, not that I count. GROUPONS made all things right and caused a major self-inflicted dope slap. PANSEXUAL wasn't obvious either, maybe I'm too deep into the woods up here.

If we're doing sound tracks, I'm partial to LOTR, but STARWARS is OK by me.

Good Saturday. Just right to feel like you accomplished something if you can do it without cheats.

Loren Muse Smith 8:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 8:23 AM  

I can’t believe y’all are reporting that this was easy. I had a really, really hard time and almost just gave up at the end, in the southwest. Even with CARPACCIO in place (my first thought on the Italian hors-d’oeuvre thank you very much), I couldn’t see ONION RING. Finally, though, success.

Loved PIXIE CUT, duh, I have one, HOTLANTA, A LOT TO ASK, and ONION RING. The clue for ONION RING, imo, was terrific way to pave the way for its singular form.

“Laurel” before YANNI.

“The enemy of creativeness” – SSRIs. Long story.

Ok. So this grid has three interlocking portmanteaux: HOTLANTA, MANSCAPING, and GROUPONS. I’m developing a full-on infatuation with this kind of neologism. Rexworld’s FORUM can sometimes a roarum. And since my thoughts are the ideological center of the universe, this place is a snorum when baseball rules and musical squabbles dominate but a fascinating, mind-blowing explorum when language and its ever-changing nature dominates.

Even though MANSCAPING feels kinda eeewwww… it’s still such a great word. The hair on my husband’s back is starting to poke through his shirt and frighten young children. Can you recommend a good manscape artist?

A mangram could be a terse text with no exclamation marks or emojis or stuff.

Or… a mangram could be your sturdy grandmother who can lift the end of the sofa with one arm, vacuum under it with the other - and not take the Marlboro out of her mouth the whole time.

Z 8:28 AM  

Had some issues getting out of the NW, but the east was easy, so came back from the SW up to the NW MANSCAPING finally exposed THE AMISH. I still had to fix cYBIL to get SCOOPS and CARPACCIO. Looking at it now, that SW corner is a PPP landmine. A poet, composer, keyboardist, TV character, animated TV show clue for ONION RING, the director of a 1945 film, an ad mascot, Wikipedia and cereal LOGOS, and the it’s the brewery not the mountains clue for ALES. I count only four letters in that corner that aren’t PPP in one direction or both. I’m predicting that corners causes some solvers to end IN TEARS.

As for the BRIAN ENO clue, ambient music is pretty common with New Age types so, even if that wasn’t his intent, he does compose New Age music. The clue is fine and just the sort of misdirection we should expect on a Saturday.

@martin - Why would you think a woman’s puzzle would necessarily be “substandard?” Let me suggest you google Inkubator and then ponder on the reasons the NYTX might have for not undertaking such a program on their own.

amyyanni 8:33 AM  

Good luck @Hungry Mother! Don't go out too fast. Tougher for me than most of you, even w/ being in the puzzle. [YANNI is my last name.] And I must run: my half is in 2 weeks.

Bob Mills 8:43 AM  

The SW killed me. I had "PEPPERONI" for 30-Down, so no chance.

Eric NC 8:53 AM  

Hard for me today. I wouldn’t get rid of antipasto instead of carpaccio for way too long.

Joaquin 8:58 AM  

Pretty easy for a Saturday; fun, too. Now just think how much better this puzzle would be if nothing was different but it had been constructed by a woman.

MickMcMick 9:14 AM  

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Easiest Saturday in recent memory, thanks to dominatrix.

kitshef 9:17 AM  

Cluing was a little too straightforward, making this significantly easier than yesterday’s puzzle. Writeovers: rOBOTS before GOBOTS, ATilLA before ATTILA – that’s all.

Loved having a LOST clue. I really miss that show. Also loved the Simpsons clue for ONION RING. Overall enjoyable, but needed more bite.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

This I didn't expect. The consensus here is "easy". I found the entire left side impossible and didn't finish. Though I immediately got most of the trick clues -- CEE and GENIE in particular -- it didn't help a bit with all the "New Agey" stuff. So much New Agey stuff! A composer and a keyboardist and some godawful thing you do with hair clippers and some sort of RING that Homer presents, but what kind of RING? and the very peculiar GOBOTS. (I had GOrOTS/SCAr, but never mind -- that was the least of my problems). Because I had the erroneous SELECTED at 16A, I had --S-S for "warms" at 1D, and wrote down BASKS instead of THAWS. And there, Dear Reader, went any chance of finishing the puzzle.

And, btw, what on earth is HOTLANTA???????

The very, very few places I blame myself: I should have remembered SYBIL, the rebellious sister from Downton Abbey. I devoured that series. But like the late Nora Ephron, "I Remember Nothing." Also, I had ----ACCIO and couldn't come up with CARPACCIO -- one of my very favorite of all appetisers. Other than that, I blame the constructors, who I feel went out of their way to make this an inhospitable puzzle for all the 1As. Not THE AMISH. People of a certain age like me.

BarbieBarbie 9:20 AM  

A mangram is an X-ray for certain male-specific cancers, obviously. Anyone familiar with mammograms can fill in the details. Though you’d need temperature control to avoid blur.

HAG before CEE, stupid... and the SE was tough for me because FANTASIA has the same number of letters as STARWARS, the score for which could be substituted by any John Williams score and nobody would notice. But the AFI has its own criteria and who am I to judge?

Overall easy, would have been dirt simple if not for the SE.

Jamie C 9:31 AM  

My song of the day would have been

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Mr. White @12:49AM asked: "Why is WALTER a better clue for LANG than FRITZ?"

Because it is a Saturday puzzle.

Birchbark 9:33 AM  

BRIAN ENO was sort of an A-HUH? moment. True enough (@Z 8:28) that you hear his Ambient influence in a lot of New Age and other genres. But you'd never associate him with scented candles, ERGO ENO is not New Age.

Also, I thought the legendary YANNI played tenor sax? MONA, LANG, SYBIL, plus the aforementioned quasi-new agers made the West daunting from a proper noun perspective, but still finished just over 13 minutes -- a very good Saturday for me.

Ah, the 90s 9:34 AM  

YANNI can disavow "New Age" all he wants, but that is crazy talk. He is basically the grandfather of New Age least the very beginnings of it. And ENO's "ambient" music also falls under New Age Music...if that "style" of music is anything, it's "ambient" music. See also xword created celebrity: Enya. And while you're at it, see: John Tesh.

New Age Music is basically any kind of ambient music that doesn't fit in any other category and that tries not to make too much of itself. It's the 90s equivalent of elevator music. It started out as just synthy, often instrumental music, with even dynamics that you could listen to in the background...while you, you know, meditate. Think Mozart without the "art." Yanni didn't become to be called "Yawni" for nothing.

The music was coopted by earth muffins in the 90s..those were people who joined food co-ops, meditated, used crystals in place of deodorant, embraced the female progenitor of the universe, Gaia, and discovered essential oils (mostly patchouli and sandalwood) the music became to be associated with that world and so was labeled "New Age." It was actually mostly labeled that because it defied New Age Music was basically anything that didn't fit the standard mold.

TL;DR: the music didn't start out as New Agey (it did become that specifically later), but it was adopted by new age practitioners and so Yanni and Eno were just guilty by association. So yeah, Yanni wasn't specifically "New Age," but his style of music became associated with that world. Those people tended to be extremist, cultic, and very counter the association was not the most flattering thing to say about that music, at least later on in the process.

And FWIW, new age stuff like meditation, essential oils, organics, etc all kinda went their own way and today are no longer associated solely with New Agers. I have a theory that the New Age "movement" morphed into the anti-vaxxer movement...but I could be wrong on that. The New Age Movement in the 90s was just an organic counter culture...and it wasn't a bad thing...just a little loosey the music.

All of that said and given what we now know about crystals and the like, I can see why Eno, Yanni, Enya, and even Tesh would bristle at the association.

nyc_lo 9:35 AM  

When my Saturday time is four full minutes faster than my Friday, something seems amiss. Did they switch ‘em by mistake? Kind of a snooze-fest, but no real clunkers.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I've always considered carpaccio more an entree than an appetizer, although it is no doubt usually an appetizer in the US and probably in areas of Italy that I do not know well.

I've often joked that at farmers' markets in southern Indiana I never buy from the Amish because they are too modern. Here if you want to avoid environmentally unsound pesticides and fertilizers, both of which are also expensive, you need to use varieties of tomatoes (for instance) that resist on their own bugs and decomposition. Unfortunately, at least in this part of the world, these tomatoes, favored by the Amish, have no flavor or decent texture. Even in supermarkets I look for fruit that has bug spots, knowing that at least something found them flavorful (these bugs never survive or make it "deep"). The world of my youth, it seems to me, has long disappeared, when one could bite into an apple and find a worm.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Hartley70 9:36 AM  

This was ALOT of fun even though I was frustrated when I couldn’t make antipasto stick or think of an Italian name for that eggplant/tomato/mozzarella stack that’s on menus everywhere it seems. I stay far, far away from raw meat so CARPACCIO did not come easy. The rest of the puzzle was a blast of trendy portmanteaus that just went in as smooth as buttercream icing. No way was this Saturday nerdy! (Wink wink @N)

Teedmn 9:43 AM  

I wanted "Luddites" for 1A but no crosses seemed to work (especially since I was pretty sure 4D was ALI) so I skipped around. AFT crossing ABACI in the SE gave me no more answers so the NE's SCAB ended up starting me off to a solve of less than average time, though no records were set. After that, only Ira before IPO gave me any real hang-ups.

After 5 snowstorms in the last week and a half, leaving behind about 20 inches of snow in all, we have some major ice build-up on our roof even after scraping much of it off. It is currently cold enough that we aren't forming ICICLES but for a couple of days in a row, we had to crack them off the eaves for fear that their habit of sharply pointing down could be fatal for someone.

I like Rex's pointing out how X's can ease the solve. I had the OXO in place so P_N__X___ was obvious when I read the clever clue. The other two X's aided in getting their respective across answers similarly. I knew 57A's "Bob" was a hairdo but with nothing in place (but SPF as a possible 54D) I thought maybe the "bouffant" was now a "Pooffant".

My favorite aha today was 22A. Having started in the NE, I had ___CEL. I looked at "scratch" a number of ways - itch, etch, money, Old Scratch, har, CANCEL. I love that when it happens.

Thanks, AK and JL.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

I have a bone to pick with CARPACCIO. I would say it is not an hors d'oeuvre, but an appetizer or antipasto. Hors d'oeuvres are small, passed plates (no?) and an appetizer (or antipasto) is enjoyed seated at a table. I count CARPACCIO in the latter category.

Unknown 9:47 AM  

@Lauren Nearly choked on my coffee with your "mangram" and her sofa. Funny!!

jberg 9:50 AM  

It's haircut day for us, no time to read the comments,so I'll just say three things. Yeah, ONION RING was the toughest (unless you've seen the show), especially since it shares some letters with zirconia, which kind of blocked thought. Second, I was saved from the obvious"hag" by having COMEOUT already, otherwise I'd have gone down a deep rabbit hole. And third, I liked the symmetrical pairing of STOLEN and ERASED.

I'll be back but I notice that late comments often don't clear moderation, so you may not see them.

Wow, @Loren, that's a twofer -- part of a SCALAR progression. (Odd clue for the latter -- since a scale combines steps and half-steps. I wanted "chromatic" but couldn't fit it in.)

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Calling the Amish old fashioned is as bad as appearing in black face. Its a form of ridicule and mockery.
Pete is it possible the man you identified as Amish--- because surely you can discern a man's sect simply by looking at him--was Mennonite?

Thanks for the nice puzzle Messrs. Lieb and Kingsley

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Martin didnt think a womans construction would necessarily be inferior, it was part of a logical thread which hypotnezized that an 8:1 sunbmission ratio would account for the gender discrepenacy in print. And it would. There are other possiblities, including the dead horse you like whip, but the question at hand was Martin's analyis, which is utterly sound.
Read better. Think better,be less of a loudmouth.

AW 10:10 AM  

I've heard of snapping things, like fingers or elastic bands, or snapping at someone, but how do you snap a DOMINATRIX (whipper snapper)? The clue sounds clever but makes no sense.

Woman Etc. 10:11 AM  

@Birchbark, Thank you. I only came here to clear that one up in hopes it's never clued that way again. Ambient had zero to do with New Age music when he did it. And @Ah, write Eno and ask him. He'd probably sit down and sob. He's collaborated with Grace Jones, David Byrne, Coldplay, Robert Fripp (hip, bad ass, distant, etc.). They weren't trying to heal anyone with crystals and scented stuff.

@Martin, Rex is advocating "women constructors" because he thinks his count will force the NYT to run more of their puzzles, given the fact that women are apparently unable to do it themselves or, consider this, would if they wanted to but don't.

TomAz 10:15 AM  

I mostly liked this puzzle. Certainly liked it a lot more than yesterday's.

But I am going to find a PANSEXUAL DOMINATRIX to do some serious MANSCAPING (or WORSE) on whoever wrote that BRIAN ENO clue. grrrrrrrrrrr. ENO wrote (some say invented, though I think that's debatable) ambient music; New Age music is also (largely) ambient; but that does not mean all ambient music is new age. It simply does not follow logically. It's like saying the Beatles were a heavy metal band because they played rock music.

PanamaRed 10:17 AM  

I'm thinking that a PANSEXUAL DOMINATRIX doing some MANSCAPING in HOTLANTA might be ALOTTOASK.

Stanley Hudson 10:22 AM  

@Ah, the 90s: Thanks for the trip down memory lane, I remember those days very well. At music festivals the pot smoke was welcomed because it cut through the smothering patchouli odor.

Uncle Alvarez 10:23 AM  

Would someone for God’s sake teach the poor soul how to Google?

Nancy 10:32 AM  

Note to @GHarris, if you're around. I, too, have a letter in the NYT. It has COME OUT in today's paper.

GHarris 10:40 AM  

Tough left side but got through once I junked antipasto. My nominee for best score, Elvira Madigan.

Bourbon Street 10:40 AM  

My first thought for 35A was “Well, I had no idea the witches had names”. Since I had already gotten CNOTE, the notion that one of them had a name like “Cay” or “Cat” seemed ridiculous so the lightbulb finally came on.

I was so disappointed that the answer to 54A was STARWARS. I immediately thought of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” with its piercing score that just about everyone (at least those of a certain age) recognizes and that you can’t easily get out of your head, but alas, it was not to be so.

David 11:08 AM  

Oh. My. God.

Putting Yanni and Brian Eno in the same category? How deeply ignorant can one be? I'm halfway through the puzzle but will probably just drop it at this point. Argh.

Adam 11:09 AM  

Enjoyed it a lot more than Friday's.

MR. Cheese 11:09 AM  

Hung up for a long time because I had “fifty” for 35D confusing Ben with Grant.

Suzie Q 11:09 AM  

Like @ Nancy, I did not find this easy. The NW was impossible.
I was not fooled in other places like the clue for talons or cee but even getting those didn't make me feel particularly clever.
I liked remembering Downton Abbey which I adored.
Is manscaping shaving sports logos on your head? I really don't know.
Groupons as a plural seems weird. I thought there was only one.
If you ever wondered why Marge puts up with Homer I think the onion ring episode illustrates it perfectly.

Jen 11:12 AM  

I am offended on behalf of Brian Eno.

Bax'N'Nex 11:14 AM  

@martin 2:13...there is no validity to the gender count, as has been stated here before. Mike (won’t call him “king”) just dislikes Will Shortz for some (i’m Sure petty) reason and thinks that somehow he is getting a dig in at Mr. Shortz by keeping a tally. It’s Mike’s little on-going nit-picky vendetta. You remember junior high, right?

That makes me wonder...if Bruce Haight submitted a puzzle under a female nom de plume, would Mike review it favorably?

Bill T 11:16 AM  

I'm (pleasantly) surprised no one appears to have been triggered by the clue for STOLEN.

Bax'N'Nex 11:20 AM  

@billT... the comments aren’t done yet. Righteous indignation will follow shortly, i’m sure.

Unknown 11:20 AM  

DeeJay said...
Agreed, Martin. I've constructed three puzzles in my life (just for friends) and each cost me about 40 hours. I'm a guy and I don't know any women would could possibly spare ~40 hours to do anything as un productive as constructing a crossword puzzle.

If there is a gender bias in constructors, it could have to do with women having more important things to do than men.

Just sayin'.


I hope this comment is a joke. Please tell me this comment is a joke.

Teedmn 11:22 AM  

@Nancy, nice letter-to-the-editor. Now if only Congress would heed your words.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Anon 9:54 No, I knew he was Amish because they're Lancaster County PA Amish. I've gotten to know them over the course of 30 years. I knew this man when he was a child. His brother took over for his father in the butcher shop, he runs the seafood shop.

Masked and Anonymous 11:44 AM  

At our house: Not hard (yo, @muse) and not easy (yo, @RP).
Gotta go with the kin to check out a new brunch-chow spot, so this'll be real short.

staff weeject pick: CEE (cuz of brashly crossin CNOTE, as @RP honked at, already). [Proposed fix: Change CEE to ABE?]


Thanx for gangin up on us, AK & JL.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

this week's NYTPuz-influenced runt:

RooMonster 11:45 AM  

Hey All !
A frisky puz today, MANSCAPING, PANSEXUAL, DOMINATRIX, WET kiss, BOA (as clued), and 30D clue hors d'oeuvre. (Har) Or is my mind just in the gutter?

Managed to solve this one without cheating! But ended up with two errors, one was just a complete "How did I mess that up?", tNOTE/tEE (How I couldn't get C-NOTE is something I'll mull over all day [ok, maybe just a few more minutes]), and ATTIcA/POcEAXE. Of course it was ATTILA, duh! But overall good for me on a SatPuz. So agree in the easy side. Which is nice.

Took me forever to get off GEkKO. Had the __IKLE and could not come up with anything. Fell into the BRIAN ENO trap. Came at it from the opposite end, with __I_NE_O. Originally wanted him when I first read the clue, but then forgot about it. Took until I finally got the R in CARPACCIO before I saw it. Sheesh.

Writeovers I can remember, overTIME-FrEeTIME-FLEXTIME, eRebateS-GROUPONS, CApPACino(sp)-CApPAColO(sp)-CARPACCIO, SiR-SER, frEt-STEW, detS-TECS.

GENIE I need some CNOTEs!

Robert 11:49 AM  

Originally wanted 'Vangelis' for the New Age Composer - but it didn't quite work out. Oh well, at least he's actually listed as New Age on his Wikipedia...

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

No one calls it HOTLANTA.


All the ATLiens.

(Fun puzzle, otherwise. One of my fastest Saturday times.)

Dr. Gary Johnson 12:00 PM  

I'd like to thank @Rex and @Z for championing women constructors. This is an important fight. It's going to take real balls to break that glass ceiling and give these gals the equality they need. We can no longer accept a scatterbrained and docile approach here, not if we are to get this message through to the boys upstairs at the NYT. It's like football: to conceive victory you've got to get in there and pound away at the target until it gets the message. These guys are heroes.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Ler me get this straight. Youve known this man for three decades, know hos patents, his brother, but identify him by his clothes And facial hair, not his name? Forgive me if i have trouble deciding which of your posts was more full of it.
But as a native of the Commonwealth im game. So which Amish market did you see all tthis? Im in Berks county currently, but Ill be heading south shortly. Id love to talk to the fishmonger. Or the butcher.

Malsdemare 12:13 PM  

At first (and second and third) glance, I thought this was tough. But I plodded along and utlimately finished in, for me, a fairly respectable time. I guessed at MONA when I had M-NA, and SYBIL took forever to show up in my memory, but I sure liked DOMINATRIX, MANSCAPING (which I'd never heard but makes sense), GROUPON, GOBOT, etc.

We have a huge Amish community about fifty miles south of here. There are those who romanticize them, with their buggies and laundry drying on the line. But it’s a pretty sexist group: there's electricity on the barns where the men charge their phones and have their power tools for furniture making and such. But there are no phones or electricity in the homes where the women do their work manually. It’s not my place to judge but I wince a bit when people talk about a gentler, kinder choice of life. I'm not sure how many Amish women enjoy hanging out the laundry on the cold, blusutery days we get here in Illinois. However, my partner builds ship models — the kind you see in museums — and the Amish build his cases; they are gorgeous pieces of craftsmanship.

Loren, your mangram cracked me up.

Malsdemare 12:15 PM  

@Nancy, nice letter; short, articulate, to the point. If only our politicians would heed your advice.

David 12:17 PM  

Well, I did finish it, then came back and saw Rex' correction on Eno/Yanni. Yes, New Age music has ambient characteristics, but Ambient Music is not "New Age" music, it's a form of contemporary concert music more akin to Minimalism than New Age. It's confusing in a country which calls all music written from the 1400s to contemporary concert music "Classical", which is a very specific stylistic Era within that time span. [And we confuse Classical Greece with Ancient Greece too, but that's another story.]

Yesterday we had a "bro" backformation and today we're blessed with a "man" one. Please stop the insanity!

Back in the day I called Patelson's on 56th Street and asked them to order me a study score of Bruckner's Ninth. They called back about a week later to tell me it was in. The next day I went into the store and asked for "the Star Wars cheat sheet"; without missing a beat the clerk said, "Oh, you're the guy who ordered Bruckner Nine?" There are many better movie soundtracks but I imagine AFI honors that one because John Williams is generally credited with saving the full orchestral soundtrack from the horrors of synthesized soundtracks. Things were getting pretty bad back then.

Vamps wear boas? I thought that was drag queens in puzzle-land. Liked having pansexual and dominatrix in the puzzle, those words probably triggered some gasps out there. And dominatrix crossing minotaur is fun provoking as well. This got me past the Eno thing.

I'm too old for gobots or hotlanta or groupons. In fact I'm old enough to remember when a pixie cut was a faddish thing, mostly thanks to Audrey Hepburn. That was back when "winning" at life meant serving your community and making a difference. Politics change; haircuts, apparently, don't.

Carola 12:40 PM  

An enjoyable romp, with two stumbles: a guess at Poly-something before PANSEXUAL and a misspelled PISTeL. Blessed with knowing little about the popular music realm after 1964, BRIAN ENO and YANNI went right in, as they're known to me only from their residence in puzzledom. I liked ATTILA LINKED with the DOMINATRIX.

@Nancy, - Brava on your letter. Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to your questions.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Easy. Heavens yes, this puzzle was easy, easy, easy for me. I mean, really really easy.

I just can't tell you how easy this puzzle was for me personally. I finished it in record time, which for me was about six seconds -- more like a Monday puzzle.

I'm so smart I can hardly believe it myself, and I knew you'd all want to know about it.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

When you say the Amish are a sexist group but you dont want to judge, does your body convulse with irony or do you just cackle?

JC66 12:45 PM  


Terrific letter. I hope congress pays heed.

For those interested in reading @Nancy's letter to the NY Times, here's the link .

old timer 12:54 PM  

A delightful puzzle and very easy for a Saturday (45 minutes or so for me, and no lookups, unlike the impossible puzzle of a week ago).

Brilliant comment, @Panamared! And kudos as always, @LMS. Got me thinking about words ending in OEUM. "Snorum" ought to be in the OED but probably isn't. jORUM issssds, as I know from a book of fiddle tunes that includes "Push about the jorum". Turns out it is a large drinking vessel, probably for Punch,

GILL I. 1:13 PM  

Yeah, this felt like it was trying for the "too cutesy" award.
@Anony 11:31. I've been to a few rodeos in my life and yet MANSCAPING was new to me. I originally had MANS CAPINE thinking this is another term I don't know. So I Google it and find a video with a tutorial on how to get rid of unwanted male junk hair. Then I get to PANSEXUAL and think to myself what the hell happened to BISEXUAL. So, between the MAN's the BRO's and the daily portmanteaus, I, on occasions, scratch my head and utter a HUH! Like today.
I thought THE AMISH clue was odd. I hate anything new age and especially YANNI (but that's on me) and If BRIAN ENO came up to me and shook my hand, I wouldn't know him from Adam Ant. I know crosswords love him and that's the only reason I know he exists.
Is there any other kind of kiss other than WET? I suppose you could do one of those dry mwah types. The clue for COME OUT is also odd (appear in print). I bet that was originally clued with a gay intention. I didn't know Homer gave his wife an ONION RING - hey it could have been a PICKLE. Even with the head scratchers, I managed to finish a Sat. with only one Google: MANSCAPING.
@Nancy: Good for you and @JC66 thanks for embedding.

Preferred Customer 1:21 PM  

The lyrics to the See See Rider song are:
I'm gonna buy me a pistol as long as I am tall and shoot me girl, because if she won't have me, she won't have no man at all.

Disconnect much?


Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Hey mods,
I lke Nancy. I think letters to the Times are great.but i thougnt stuff not germane to that days puzzle was verboten.
It seems tbere are one aet of rukes for some folks and another set for, well, folks like me.

Malsdemare 1:24 PM  

@anonymous 12:45. Get over yourself. I used "sexist" as shorthand for describing a community in which gender roles are very proscribed, with expectations and rules quite different, The Amish communtiy in Arcola Illinois is such a place. That women will do their work in the home without the use of electrically powered devices and men will use power tools (and in some cases uses gas tractors) in their work are givens. There. Does that lengthy exposition satisfy?

Todd 1:29 PM  

PANSEXUAL is fer real? Does that m-m-mean you can have s-s-sex with anything?

Hot dang!

GILL I. 1:37 PM  

@Anony 1:22. Several regulars go off on non germane topics. There is a lot of interesting talent here and some terrific stories to be told - even if they don't include a crossword word. Where would we be without a @Loren good humor dose of teaching antics or wanting to hear @Quasi sing an aria and the list goes on. @Nancy writes well and her comments are always interesting.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

I like the left turns Gill. Its the mods who listed the proscriptions a couple of montbs ago.
Im fine with comments on all manners of matters. But my posts, often ones that conflict with Rex's tweets for example, are spiked. Nancy's letter aligns nicely with Mike Xharps politics. I suppose its just a coincidence but I just want the rules applied evenly.

Chip Hilton 2:07 PM  

AntipastO at first, which was a good nine-letter misleader.

STARWARS disappointed me. Off the top of my head, “North by Northwest”.

@LMS - By now, you should’ve been contacted by a major publishing chain somewhere wanting you to write a daily general observations column. Your stuff is just grand.

Tom R 2:10 PM  

Parts were easy, some parts not - but my pet peeve is 35A. Third character in Macbeth. The first 3 characters on stage are the 3 witches. I dang near killed myself trying to come up with the names of the witches! Then I Cee from crosses C?! You couldn't come up with a better clue? This kind of clue/answer should be banned for life and the constructor taken out in an alley and beat near to death with wet noodles. Bah!

pabloinnh 2:41 PM  


Adding my congratulations on a fine letter.

Well done you.

Joe Dipinto 3:45 PM  

@martin 2:13

Or is publishing a stat out of its larger context the extent of this blog's shallow activism?


mbr 3:59 PM  

@AW 10:10: a dominatrix may snap a whip.

Joe Dipinto 4:01 PM  

@Nancy -- Thumbs way up for your letter. @Anon 1:22 -- see GILL I's points. And the text of Nancy's letter is neither printed nor discussed here, so I think we're good.

@David 12:17 -- Patelson's! God, I miss that store. And I am horrified that anyone would choose *that movie* as having the greatest film score of all time. I hurled my newspaper across the room.

Nancy 5:32 PM  

Thanks to all my good friends on the blog. (And I am fortunate indeed to have so many.) Thanks for taking the time and trouble to Google the letter I wrote to the NYT today. I'm delighted that so many of you liked it. I hope it has the galvanizing effect on Congress that I wanted it to have when I conceived it. It probably won't, but we all have an obligation to try, right?

To the person who didn't like it but made the effort to go looking for the letter when no one was forcing him to: Not my fault. You could have gone the rest of your life without knowing a single word that was in it. @Joe DiPinto's right: None of it appeared on the blog and none of it was force-fed to you. So perhaps you should click on links more cautiously next time. Fair enough?

Hartley70 5:51 PM  

Hear, hear, @Nancy! Well said.

QuasiMojo 6:06 PM  

I second the emotion. Cheers @Nancy. Well put!

Anonymous 6:25 PM  

Yes. You made a judgment after pretending to abhor doing so.
The word yku meant was prescribe.
You need a vocabulary lesson. Badly.

Anonymous 6:29 PM  

You and Gill miss the point. I like Nancys letter.
The question was whether it was appropriate to be posted or linked to or discussed here.
Just two days ago the mods put the hammer down for talking about AOC.
The problem is tne rukes seem to change. Surely you see the distibction between the content of a post or link and the rules for the forum?

Joe Dipinto 6:55 PM  

@Anon: I've never seen a list of rules for the forum. Perhaps you could point out where I might find it.

sanfranman59 7:53 PM  

Medium-Challenging NYT Saturday (18:28, 12% above my 6-month median Saturday, 3.5 Rex Parkers) ... Darn my lack of non-English language skills. I submitted with MANdCAPING (5D)/dER (19A), which in retrospect simply doesn't work. I actually had MANdSCAPING in mind when I entered that and left dER alone. Even with my limited knowledge of the language, I'm pretty sure that dER is not a word in Spanish. German, absolutely.

I thought this was an excellent puzzle. Unlike Rex, it wasn't really in my wheelhouse, but I managed to make it through much better than I did these constructors' other Saturday puzzle (4/28/2018, 28:39 solve time). I enjoy the sense of accomplishment successfully solving (almost) a puzzle that I'm not sure I'll get through at the 5 and 10 minute marks. This was one of those. I particularly liked the SE with it's double Xs. A PANSEXUAL (12D) DOMINATRIX (27D) in the Old Gray Lady!

I think the only thing that made me wince at all was THE with AMISH (1A) and that's just a minor nit. CEE (35A) fooled me. I've watched a lot of "Downton Abbey" and went with 'edith' for 29D. I couldn't come up with the youngest daughter's name right away and then, when I did, I spelled it cYBIL. So that section was a mess. I had 'kip' (Laos) for WON (18A) in the NW and am ashamed that I don't know the currency of South Korea.


Z 8:12 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - I've seen some guidelines and can infer some other others.
Three posts max (really more of a strong suggestion - I know I've violated this one without getting dinged).
Talk about the puzzle (this one seems to be more strongly enforced on anonymous posts and one timers, whereas frequent commenters seem to get more leeway).
You can be mean about the puzzle but don't be mean about the constructor (people often accuse Rex of violating this but he's pretty good about talking only about the puzzle. The commentariat not so much).
Don't be an ass (again, there does seem to be a little bit of a sliding scale where regulars get a little more latitude (assitude?) than anonymous posters)
Don't get into personal spats. (A few times I've noticed massive deletions have been two-four posters using this as their personal mud-wrestling pit)
Don't post something that generates complaints to Rex. (The other times I've seen massive deletions or Rex has dropped the hammer is because something generated lots of complaints to Rex. The most inane were complaints about @Lewis' PPP - I still shake my head at that one)
If you don't like a mod's decision take it up with someone who cares - oh wait - no one cares I know the mods do it as a favor to Rex and as a way to prevent more draconian measures like not allowing anonymous comments or just not allowing comments at all. Last I looked Rex got something like 20,000 daily readers - it's probably even more now - and most of those readers either don't read the comments or don't even know the comments section exists. If people really want to make sure their insights get published they should start their own blog. We are all here as guests and Rex and his mods have every right to disinvite any of us. At the same time, be moderately civil and interesting and Rex and the mods seem to leave people alone.

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

Thanks z
I see you acknowledge there are different rukes for different people.
Which is of course the very defintion of unfairness.

Stanley Hudson 8:17 PM  

God bless you Nancy

Fataramasthomas 8:18 PM  

go fukc yourself asseipe

sanfranman59 8:38 PM  

I literally LOLed at @LMS's SSRI answer! And then the MANSCAPING riff! You gotta take it on the road Loren. Thanks for the laughs.

And thanks to @Nancy for saying so eloquently and simply what needs to be said.

QuasiMojo 8:40 PM  

I can attest to having numerous comments either deleted or never seeing the light of day. Someone suggested it was the platform’s problem as in software, not the mods or Rex. I now agree.

GHarris 11:00 PM  

Congratulations on a really powerful letter. I read and admired it early in the day but did not connect it to a sister blogger (since I didn’t know your last name) until tonight when I caught up on the commentary.

Veloso 11:18 PM  

Comments here are all over the place on whether this was hard or easy, but this was my first clean Saturday solve, so chalk me up in the easy column.

I groaned in a good way at the clues for TALONS and SPF, but neither tripped me up for long. Definitely agree with Rex on the power of Xs: PIXIE CUT on top of FLEX TIME probably would have been harder for me if not for the Xs appearing in the easier crosses.

paulsfo 11:28 PM  

I thought that there was some convention about not having answers which are an article followed by a noun. EG, APUMPKIN or THEAMISH. Am I imagining this?

Unknown 4:00 PM  

Wow - my fastest Saturday (done belatedly - busy weekend) by a mile. Clocked 16:50 having never beaten 20 minutes before.

And that was with the truly epic fail on 12D of "bicurious" instead of PANSEXUAL, which stopped me getting anywhere in the NE until the MINOTAUR brought me to my senses.

CatTeeth 9:36 PM  

This one was SO hard. I only got through it by looking a few up -- the Picasso quote, plant ovaries and the poet laureate...

Burma Shave 10:50 AM  


FORUM not to COMEOUT and hate chicks;
INTEARS the PANSEXUALs they admonish,


spacecraft 11:03 AM  

Tell me true: did NO ONE else think of MaNOlete for the bullish figure? C'mon now. (No, I did not write it in, but I sure did think of it.) I did write LocKED for united before (duh!) seeing it was LINKED.

Not a Simpsons fan (WHAT?!! I hear from the rafters), but a raisin bran one, so with O____RING it didn't take much imagination to come up with ONIONRING. BTW, if I'd proposed to MY [future] wife with one of those, she'd have said yes at once, knowing that I'd had to make the supreme sacrifice by NOT eating it instead.

As you may already guess, I had fun with this one. Watch the GENIE COMEOUT of the center lamp there! I do have a nit to pick, though, and it's with CEE. But not in the way you think. The third character to appear in "Macbeth" is not CEE, but "a."

First character: "
Second character: M

STEW over that one, guys. Meanwhile, I again was disappointed in a "greatest ever" selection. I can think of at least three Hitchcock films scored by the incomparable Bernard Herrmann and three more of Stanley Kubrick's by various immortals that would send John Williams away INTEARS, great though he is.

Returning to the fun, there's ATTILA wielding his POLEAXE. Not even gonna get into the new age argument; just grateful that the names were well-enough known that I could skate through that area...kind of mean to gang them all up in their little western corral there.

DOD: well, since we need a Jeannie--er, GENIE to COMEOUT, why not Barbara Eden?

I have heard Steve Harvey introduce feuding families as being "straight outta HOT-LANTA!" so there's that. I know; the natives are probably aghast. But others DO say that. How we Nevadans know when someone's a tourist? They say "Nevahda." Nah. It's "Nevadda." And now you know. Eagle.

rondo 12:00 PM  

Didn’t really get into a PICKLE anywhere, but even with the gimme STERNO/MAROONED cross I basically worked this puz from the SE up to the NW. And as OFL mentioned, those Xs really help – lookin’ at you OXO and FLEXTIME.

Agree with @spacey that there are better (and WORSE) soundtracks than STARWARS.

I too was confused with the New Age stuff. Not so much YANNI, but BRIANENO? Never associated ENO with that genre.
LANG coulda been clued local bluesman Jonny LANG – Rack ‘em Up: (wait for the trombone solo, and LANG’s guitar, of course)

Yup. SYBIL as portrayed by yeah baby Jessica Brown Findlay.

This puz suited my TASTE. Is it ALOTTOASK for more like this?

leftcoastTAM 3:43 PM  

Rarely if ever find a Saturday puzzle Easy, as Rex does, like today's. Needed to cheat a couple of times to get going, and in the end found it fair enough and otherwise doable. Rank it medium.

This one is replete with three-letter words, most easy enough, some harder to deal with because of tougher crosses. SET and SER, even the cleverly-clued SPF, are among those. And CEE was a tricky one with its elaborated Macbeth "character" misdirect.

Very good long downs and NW and SE three-stacks brightened things up.

Enjoyed this despite the dnf.

rainforest 3:57 PM  

After 8 days of no crosswords (Mazatlan), this was a good one to get my chops back. My first entry was THE AMISH because I don't know any better, but it worked!

Overall, I'd call this "medium", spending too much time getting CARPACCIO because I *knew* that antipasto was correct, and finally getting GOBOTS because I was stupid in not seeing GENIE for ages. Other than those entries, good stuff.

I think I'll go do some MANSCAPING (ie, shave) now.

Anonymous 1:17 AM  

To Nancy and others: All Congress, or any government body for that matter, can do is pilfer your income at the threat of jail and spend it in ways you don't want. You speak of gun violence. Who is the greatest perpetrator of mass killing ? Answer: your government of a lame Congress that votes that Yemeni, Syrian, Afghan etc. men women and children be slaughtered. Don't you think its time that government was dissolved so people can be free and live in peace ? And yet you want to expand it and give it ultimate power. Whenever you are successful in that endeavor you will be the recipient of a tyrannical regime not seen since the age of Maoist China, or the Stalinist Soviet Union. The only thing holding back the evolution of tyranny in this country is the right to bear arms. As soon as that is eviscerated you give government and the Donald Trump's and Obama's the right to lock you up and execute you for disagreeing. You can kiss the land of the free goodbye. Alarmist ? Well, just ask Edward Snowden.

808 8:42 AM  

Agreed! LMS’s comments alone are 90% of my reason for regularly visiting. Just awesome!

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Hahaha. LOLd at "Laurel"!

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Fun, do-ably easy. Didn't like the Eno thing because it's completely wrong, but I guess it's just confusion between ambient and New Age. Also disliked 53D "ill" for "Poorly" doesn't make sense grammatically if you don't use "feeling" or some other link. They're not the same part of speech.
Overall, the puzzle would have been better if it had been constructed by a dominatrix.

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