Byzantine emperor known as Armenian / SAT 3-2-19 / Newport RI estate that's National Historic landmark / Beast slain by Hercules / Star in Summer Triangle / Metaphorical entryway into unknown

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: none

Word of the Day: LEO V (28A: Byzantine emperor known as "the Armenian") —
Leo V the Armenian (GreekΛέων ὁ ἐξ ἈρμενίαςLeōn ho ex Armenias; 775 – 24 December 820) was Emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 813 to 820. A senior general, he forced his predecessor, Michael I Rangabe, to abdicate and assumed the throne. He ended the decade-long war with the Bulgars, and initiated the second period of Byzantine Iconoclasm. He was assassinated by supporters of Michael the Amorian, one of his most trusted generals, who succeeded him on the throne. (wikipedia)
• • •

Woof. Not a pleasing weekend of themelesses, which is very disappointing, as Friday and Saturday are (statistically) my favorite days by far. This one had a few decent longer answers (e.g. RABBIT HOLE, PR NIGHTMARE), but most of the longer stuff was either fairly dull (DINNER PLATE, ONION ROLLS), or colloquially wobbly ("LET'S GET ON IT") (I had "TO IT"), or else extremely off-putting (CHLORINE GAS ... I mean, chemical weapons? geeeez louise, what's next, POGROMS?) (fun (?) fact: POGROM last appeared in the NYT crossword in 1981). Speaking of off-putting, the puzzle's really pushing Woody Allen this week, and while you may feel however you feel about him, it's pretty clear to anyone paying attention that he is a source of unpleasant feelings for a huge portion of the solving populartion. Maybe, I dunno, spread your references out? Maybe make sure the rest of the puzzle is somewhat more upbeat and bouncy and full of good feelings than CHLORINE GAS? Isn't someone supposed to be overseeing this kind of stuff?


Oh *THE* NHL, well la di dah! PRESSMAN feels archaic, like he and the town crier drink ales from STEINs when their shifts are over (34D: Certain newspaper employee). NEMEAN is crosswordese, and it somehow doesn't seem any less crosswordesey when it appears in long form with LION attached. As for LEOV ... let's LEOV that one alone. The grid shape today is really unbecoming; I don't mean that the black/white pattern itself is aesthetically unpleasing, I mean that from a solving standpoint, those NW / SE corners are terrible. Secluded and impossible to fill in any kind of interesting way. Just two chunks of 6x4 garbage. Sequestered dead weight. Shoving Z's in there isn't fooling anyone. There is not interest there, and there can't really be interest there, because the grid is not built in a way that would allow interest there. IMAGED? THENHL? ICER? I do like the word ERSATZ, but still, in a themeless, where the whole point is to sparkle, these dank corner holes where no light can shine are really a bummer.


My main screw-ups were in that NW corner, where I had STAIR (?) for 19A: End of a flight, say (ATTIC), and TAO for ZEN (27A: Discipline of some masters). Really bad solving on my part. Once I got out of there, the rest of the grid was pretty pliable. And once I got CHLORINE GAS (again, ugh), I got ATTIC and finished that NW corner up without any trouble. I hope Sunday comes through, but ... honestly, that so rarely happens, I'm not getting my hopes up. But you never know. See you tomorrow to find out!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I know some of you are wondering, "How is [Bore] STOOD?" Think "withstood."

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

118 comments:

Brian 12:03 AM  

Very easy — between a Wednesday and a Thursday for me

Ando 12:10 AM  

SEVERAL is not "A few" it is exactly more than a few. Sheesh.

Patrick O'Connor 12:22 AM  

Agree with you on this one, except that I did find it pretty difficult throughout *except* the NW corner, (But I really enjoyed yesterday's puzzle.) Thank you for the "Personality" song!

I guess I do not have my emotions or my politics invested in the clues or the answers in the way that you do: I am as charmed to come up with CHLORINE GAS and ZELIG as I would for zweibachs and hyacinths --my criterion is unusualness, on both the level of the word and of the letter, not the associations with the words themselves. (Like you, I didn't like NEMEAN LION because it's semi-crosswordese full of boring letters.) Don't let bad but zingy words have power over you by making them taboo on the grid.

puzzlehoarder 12:32 AM  

Now it's official, Thursday was the hardest puzzle of the week for me. This came in about a three and a half minutes faster than my Thursday solve.

The start was delayed. I read through the first seven across clues with no luck until I set to work on the NW. ERSATZ and ROOT eventually popped up and that corner was done except for the final -HL of 23A. Sports is an Achilles's heel.

It was not hard to restart in the middle north. As soon as I got RABBITHOLE I had major leverage for the rest of the puzzle.

That SE corner didn't look promising with EN- starting 43A. I did that section last and on second look ENZYME went right in. Ironically the SE turned out to be the easiest part of the puzzle.

My "I've been doing these puzzles a long time" moment came when I dropped in DENEB off the D. I didn't get LISBETH off the B but with the H of HALER it fell. It's been a while since I've read those books.

This was a fun puzzle and a good late week solve.

jae 12:48 AM  

Easy-medium seems right. My first though looking at 1d was ERSATZ which was confirmed by ZEN and I was off and running. My only real problem was in SW because I thought LISBETH had a Z in it.

My grandfather was gassed in WWI and died of an aneurysm in his ‘60s. I have no idea if there is a causal relationship there. I do know that he and my grandmother went through some tough times after the war, but then it was the Great Depression and times were tough.

I pretty much agree with much of @Rex’s take on this one but I liked it more than he did.

Horace S. Patoot 1:59 AM  

The eager students go OOOH every time they see me DO TOE SPLITS!

Harryp 3:07 AM  

Now this makes up for a Blah week. 36A GREENE or 38D ZYDECO, but was given enough good crosses to figure them out, which is the essence of cruciverbalism. I liked POLARITY, PR NIGHTMARE, DINNER PLATE, and PRIMERS. Thank you very much, Peter Collins for a good tussle. Medium Saturday, but O.K.

Chim cham 3:52 AM  

Rex is pretty on point with his evaluation of this, especially from a cultural standpoint. I think I enjoyed the solve more because it went faster than I thought it would, and because im a little too tipsy to be as outraged by the unpleasantness of certain clues/answer than I normally would be.

Loren Muse Smith 4:13 AM  

A Peter Collins themeless for me is fraught with suspense. Like when Joanne H and I used to walk through her house in Chattanooga knowing that her older brother might jump out from behind a door at any point and yell BOO. This morning I kept filling in stuff and then darting my eyes here and there looking for the Easter egg.

SPIN and PR NIGHTMARE. I guess the disgusting unspeakable antics of the rich and famous put the income of spin doctors up there with that of skin doctors.

ELMS over ROOTS. Hah. I used to tell the younger members of my retinue in Chattanooga not to step on the roots around our rope swing tree ‘cause they were devil horns. They bought it hook, LINE, and sinker. I also told them, as they watched me scrape up gum off the sidewalk and chew it, that I had learned in my kindergarten class how to do this safely. I swear. If Mom had just allowed a little more chewing gum, then I wouldn’t have resorted to this desperation.

@Patrick O’Connor – I’m with you on a lot of what you said: “I guess I do not have my emotions or my politics invested in the clues or the answers in the way that you do.” Thank you. Now I feel a little less guilty about not getting my nose all out of joint because of entries that carry unpleasant associations. There is a tragic WWI mustard gas in my family story – tragic - but CHLORINE GAS didn’t sour anything anyhow anyway.

Rex called DINNER PLATE and ONION ROLL “dull.” I call’em regular ole expressions and hence enjoy them all the more in any grid. (And the clue for DINNER PLATE was terrific.)

RABBIT HOLE sent me, well, down one thinking of other animal places we could find ourselves. It’s not good, people. A hornet’s nest, a lion’s den, a snake pit, the dog house… how’s that McDonald’s and fifth diet coke tasting there, buddy?

SOCK. Coulda been “belt.” Hah. Clothes words that moonlight as verbs. As Sally and her mom dressed the turkey, they skirted the topic of her boyfriend. When her mom pumped her for info, she just shrugged and stole glances at her watch. Suit yourself, her mom thought, shifting gears and scarfing some cornbread. He’ll boot you from his life soon enough.

I used to think (hope) that there were many more gushy-gushes out there who were just loath to admit it ‘cause of the vibe here. But, nah, I don’t think so. I think most of the bashers are sincere in their daily disparagement. But I am equally sincere in my delight, so…

... @Vernon’s dad - I’ve been solving seriously for about three years now and I’ve never yet worked a puzzle that didn’t make me go, “WOW! How’d they do that?!” OH. MY. GOD. You, sir, are my spirit animal. You need to post more so I don’t feel so scared and alone sometimes. I mean, there are always people who agree with my disagreeing with the almost daily denunciations, but your exaltation is up there with mine. We should do lunch.

Peter – always a pleasure. I especially liked OBOES next to its archaic plural OBIE.

frankbirthdaycake 4:54 AM  

Easy for me, until I got stuck in the SW corner. I slogged through it. Not my favorite Saturday puzzle, but I don’t think it was bad.

Hungry Mother 5:23 AM  

Getting breakfast before running a half marathon this morning put a bit of time pressure on me, but I got it done in less than average time, slow as is my running. It seemed very typical for a Satruday.

BarbieBarbie 5:46 AM  

PRESSMAN is current. It’s the person who runs the machine that prints the paper. So far I haven’t met a female one, so while it does sound archaic, my guess is this word is slow to evolve. When it does, its replacement will be PRESS operator, which is also already in use.

Anonymous 6:24 AM  

THE NHL is just two 3 letter entries of crap fill put together, pretending to be 6 letters.

@merican in Paris 6:59 AM  

My first puzzle since Monday, and on paper. I was hoping for more white space, but I was puzzle-deprived (Mrs. 'mericans is in lower Manhattan this weekend, with the iPad), so plunged in. I pretty much agree with @Rex on this one, except that it was more of a solid medium for me. I had "stand at ease" before DO THE SPLITS, so just was not getting 28A or 29D. Finally looked up LEO (I had the V and was thinking something like LieV, and wasn't 100% sure there was an H in CHLORINE), and once I had that the rest grindingly fell into place.

I'm a bit surprised that there's not more grumbling today over answers like THE NHL, ONION ROLLS, PR NIGHTMARE, and DINNER PLATE. To me, they verge on the GREENE painty. I did learn some new fun facts, though, such as the origin of the word SEDAN, and that ZYDECO music has its ROOTs in the blues.

Speaking of ROOT, that answer raised my eyebrows. Defoliants are one class of herbicides, and they don't necessarily target the plant's root. A good example are SEVERAL defoliants used to aid in the harvesting of certain crops, such as cotton.

Also, since when are hotels SRO (standing-room only)? Do people who decide to stay in such hotels pay a discount to be STOOD up and strapped to a wall? I'LL PASS on that option, and NESTLE under a hedge in a park.

All that said, I recognize that crosswords are a TRANSIENt thing, so I'LL try to be ZEN about it.

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

@merican: I had the same question but then looked it up, and found that SRO can also mean single room occupancy.

RJ 7:29 AM  

Wikikpedia

Single room occupancy (more commonly abbreviated to SRO) is a form of housing that is typically aimed at residents with low or minimal incomes who rent small, furnished single rooms with a bed, chair, and sometimes a small desk.

HazelinME 7:37 AM  

SRO is single room occupancy not standing room only.

Michiganman 7:37 AM  

@LMS, I agree with you that the DINNERPLATE clue was great. I have to admit, though, that the "sides" meaning was slow in entering my brain. But that's part of the fun.

Todd 7:54 AM  

I truly do not understand Rex's endless banter about "bad" words. Words are words. NRA, Smith and Wesson, Woody Allen, Pogrom, Anal, etc etc. I just don't seem why he needs his crossword to be pre-sanitized. Why does he or anyone else need protection from these words?

newspaperguy 7:56 AM  

What goes on in the mind of a man who whines daily about the New York Times and thinks that pressman seems archaic. Who do you think operates those presses?

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

I too had a question about how SRO was applicable, but I assumed it had a meaning I wasn't familiar with. I'm always surprised at those who rely on this blog to explain something they could google in a few seconds. Even more amazed when they proclaim the answer is wrong without bothering to look it up.

QuasiMojo 8:10 AM  

Oh Oh not the SRO debate again!! I used to live in an SRO. It had stopped being a hotel decades before I moved in but some of the tenants still had maid service, grandfathered in. But I don’t think there are too many SRO hotels here in the States anymore. Japan has some that aren’t even rooms, just pods.

Rex, I liked your write up this morning. Although I don’t see the problem with Chlorine Gas. Yes it’s awful but so are a gazillion other things. No doubt the Nemean Lion creeped out a lot of people, especially those it terrorized and I suspect et.

I sailed through this but the got stuck for a few, even SEVERAL, minutes by putting in REFINE before Revise and IMAGING a company called eFETE that catered to those with no knack for throwing effete galas.

Do the Splits? Isn’t one enough? I can’t imagine getting up after doing two of them.

Okay pop up test: “Graham Greene is to Zit as Lisbeth is to Enzyme... but Zelig is to Zydeco as...” You have A FEW minutes.

I think a certain president after a certain hurricane proved to be a true “PR Nightmare.”

Other than that it was a breeze.

@Loren, I think I’d rather eat the gum off a street too than eat an ONION ROLL, whatever that is. UGH.

Birchbark 8:19 AM  

RABBIT HOLE, TRANSIENCE, POLARITY, ZEN.

I like NEMEAN LION because it's such an old friend that it went in without crosses. And DENEB crossing lucky guess GREENE is familiar too. OBIE, OBOES, LEO V, LEGO, SSNS, TREKS, ELMS -- it's all good.

When I was a kid, my neighbor was a WWI veteran who received a Purple Heart after a mustard gas attack. He also was chased once through a meadow by a German blimp. As an old man, he showed my brother and me how to make picture frames and rebind old books. His wife, who did community theater, recited a long dramatic poem at our picnic on July 4. All this 'mid the PR NIGHTMARE of Watergate, oil embargoes, etc. Many Americas at once.

mmorgan 8:29 AM  

Once again, for me this was a very challenging and fun puzzle and once again I come here and Rex finds it easy-medium and doesn’t care for it. You’d think I would learn by now and not keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. ;-)

I was also confused by STOOD and SRO but that S was my last letter and the only one that made sense. Even if it didn’t.

Funny what Rex says about the NW and SE. I got both of those first, and easily, and then was left staring at that vast open white middle. A daunting experience.

I really wanted the lion to be Nemedean for some reason and that was hard to give up.

I also had the eager pupil at 29D screaming “ME! ME!” and that didn’t help, nor did not not knowing the Senators who were first NBA and then NFL before the CHLORINE GAS helped me out. I know some sports league initials, if not the teams.

Rex notwithstanding, I thought this puzzle had a lot of terrific stuff.

Rob 8:30 AM  

I think NEMEAN LION is perfectly fair. It's Greek mythology, which for me at least was fourth grade. I don't necessarily expect everyone to remember it -- I think the only reason I remember it is from playing Smite, where you can buy the "Hide of the Nemean Lion" -- but it's a perfectly cromulent word.

mmorgan 8:38 AM  

@Quasi, ONION ROLLS are wonderful!

Ralph in the Morning 8:46 AM  

Why is “chink” a pesona non grata clue, while “slant” gets a free pass? Doesn’t seem consistent to me. Seems somehow offensive and tone-deaf today. If “chlorine gas” is off-putting, it would seem as though a racial epithet should certainly also be unwelcome. It’s not like the folks at the NYT are unaware of the issue:

The Slants on the Power of Repurposing a Slur https://nyti.ms/2tXYTnQ?smid=nytcore-ios-share

DeeJay 8:46 AM  

"The grid shape today is really unbecoming; I don't mean that the black/white pattern itself is aesthetically unpleasing, I mean that from a solving standpoint, those NW / SE corners are terrible. Secluded and impossible to fill in any kind of interesting way. Just two chunks of 6x4 garbage. Sequestered dead weight. Shoving Z's in there isn't fooling anyone. There is not interest there, and there can't really be interest there, because the grid is not built in a way that would allow interest there."

Really?

Hartley70 8:53 AM  

This was a speedy Saturday without seeming too easy. I got held up a bit in the SW because I wasn’t sure of GLINTS, but LISBETH did me right in the end.

Easiest answer for me that might have held others up: The ELMS. Sometimes proximity has it’s benefits.

It is the SPLIT. No S. Is that a regional thing or do guys just not know this?

I enjoyed this.

kitshef 8:54 AM  

Opposite feeling to Rex; I thought the fill was excellent today.

Spent a full three minutes dithering over SRO being a type of hotel, convinced something had to be wrong up there. Finally gave up and left it at SRO and was surprised it was right. I only know SRO as Sold Right Out.

My TRAVEL IRON has always been “hang it up in the bathroom while showering”.

Convenient that VEGA, DENEB and ALTAIR are all different lengths.

Zelig is an odd and brilliant movie.

GILL I. 8:57 AM  

So proud of myself for getting every single answer and only fighting to uncover GREENE. Brighton Rock was never on my cover book list.
I usually like any Sat. puzzle that I can finish. I've been doing these for so long that now I get picky. There is nothing at all to pick apart here. I did have some do-overs: BIAS/BBC at 10A and 10D. Thank you fun RABBIT HOLE and yummy ONION ROLLS.
TRAVEL IRON and memories of my SRO (not really) hotel stays. I lived in airplanes and hotels for almost 30 years of my life. Always had a meeting in the morning and my skirt and blouse had to be wrinkle free. The IRON was a menace to pack - not to worry. Hang them in the bathroom shower, put the to water on full steam, close the door and 10 minutes later you have your wrinkle free ensemble.
Did anyone else mistakenly have DANCE SPLITS? Of course not, but I do like @Horace S. Patoot's DO TOE SPLITS. Do eager students really yell out OH OH? ME ME? I CAN?
Like @jae, my first entries were ERSATZ/ZEN. That whole ATTIC area seemed easyish. The southern region gave me the hardest time. Not to worry. Just take my time and the voila get uttered.
Couldn't remember if ZELIG had an S or a Z. I can't stand Woody Allen. Never have, never will. Won't watch anything of his. Same goes for Jane Fonda. They are on my ILL PASS list.
The clues for ZIT are getting as clever as the OREOS.
CHLORINE GAS made me think of how MAN dreams up the worst possible ways to torture. I think we've made some progress in the kindness world. Just look at a video that shows how a sewer rat is being rescued by about the entire fire department in a town in Germany. (Hi @Loren - this was my favorite Facebook posting for the entire year). Everyone kept asking why a lowly, dirty rat should be helped out of this hole he was trapped in because he was too fat and got stuck. The firemen explained that rats have feelings too!
@Vernon's dad: Glad you're on the night shift. I hope you post more often; your enthusiasm is contagious.
I think we get @ACME tomorrow. I hope OFL has few drinks before he posts. Might loosen him up and put him in a good mood.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Nice set of puzzles this week. Even the editing was good (5A, *Bore*--here comes *auger* again, a nice editing misdirection)--something I never thought I would say.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Z 9:12 AM  

I liked this more than Rex, but did arch an eyebrow at those sequestered corners. Any time the interconnectedness is limited like that I give the puzzle a demerit or three. I also can’t decide if I like or loathe LET’S GET ON IT. I feel like there are too many options after LET’S, giving the final answer a little too much randomness. As for CHLORINE GAS, I don’t know that any of the “creative” ways we’ve come up with to kill our fellow man are any worse than any other. Is it any worse than a-bomb or h-bomb or uzi or sten? I guess if sten passes the breakfast test so does CHLORINE GAS.

@Todd - Why don’t we see fucker or nigger or Hitler in the puzzle? Maybe Woody Allen doesn’t elicit similar reactions from most people as those terms do, but he does elicit similar reactions from a not insignificant number of people. If you accept the notion of a breakfast test (and the NYTX does) then maybe a little sensitivity to people who aren’t white male baby boomers would be appropriate.

kitshef 9:14 AM  

@Hartley70 - interesting question. I have heard 'a split', and I have heard 'the splits', but I have never heard 'the split', which is what you used. So I suspect you are right there is something regional going on here.

RooMonster 9:22 AM  

Hey All !
Nice long Downs crossing long Acrosses. Light dreck (looking at you IMS, does anyone still do that? Or has the name just changed to texting?) The STOOD/SRO S cross was a WOE. Weird clue on both of those.

Had to Check Puz SEVERAL times, as I am wont to do on a SatPuz. Had writeovers, DINNERtablE-PLATE, GLeamS-GLINTS, AsTep-ATTIC, meme-OHOHdoS-ENS, aSTO-ISTO.

Not such a great puz for me and @M&A, however. No F's, and no U's! The nerve... :-)

Thinking about adopting a new nickname, LEO XCVII. (Har, not really)

No MEAN LION
RooMonster
DarrinV

Bob Mills 9:27 AM  

Seemed hard, but I finished it 100%, so I guess it wasn't that hard. I think Rex overstated his objections, but that isn't news.

Jeff 9:29 AM  

I don't think *any* herbicides "target" oots. Certainly not in their mechanism of action, but not even often in their uptake site. Bad clue ruined an otherwise great corner.

Suzie Q 9:30 AM  

Tricky clues and interesting words make a good Saturday for me.
I should have left it at that but no, I had to come here for Rex's morning buzz kill.

I'm becoming so weary of hearing how some word or phrase should not be published because of the unpleasant thoughts it evokes.
Save that word association game for your shrink and leave my puzzle alone.

@ Loren, Please tell us you made up that gum story.

nyc_lo 9:33 AM  

DOTHESPLITS sounds like something Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd might say to each other, as in “Hey Georg, now we will do the splits to catch the foxes on the dance floor, yes?” But then I Googled to see it is apparently some fitness thing, which explains why I never heard of it.

Z 9:40 AM  

@Ralph in the morning - Fascinating OpEd piece. You didn’t say a lot, but I’m not sure that essay says what you imply it says. Also, I don’t think anyone can be held accountable for all that appears in the OpEd pages. At least three essays every day means well over 1,000 essays a year. Heck, even the editor who accepted it may not remember it. I have no idea if Shortz even reads the NYTs, or if anyone other than him actively edits the puzzle. Stating that the “folks at the NYT” are aware of any one thing that appears in its pages seems more than a little presumptuous to me.

Teedmn 9:42 AM  

Wow, this played hard for me. Without a couple of inspired guesses, (LEGO, EVITE, PRIMERS), I would have never finished. The NW was brutal for me. Closed up with CH going down and HL going across, I thought I'd never break through but THE NHL finally appeared and I was able to chip the rest away.

Even with TRAVEL I_ONS in place, I was scratching my head. IcONS? I don't know anyone so "neat" that they would carry an iron. Most hotels have those available. Maybe not SRO hotels!

37A took a bit to see - the screen on my laptop is small so I had to increase the size of the type to determine if the clue was a colon or a semi-colon. Once that was clear, IS TO wasn't a problem.

I would not have associated ZYDECO with the blues.

Odist didn't fit in at 55A - ICER was a cute answer for a writer of sweet words.

This was a nice, tough Saturday, just like Peter Collins usually provides.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

Gee, I don't know. I found it quite challenging and don't understand all the people who said Easy. And I found it challenging for all the best reasons: good wordplay and cluing, with no names and other junk. My biggest hangup was the NW, where I never heard of the ELMS, didn't know what an herbicide targets, couldn't figure out SALE from the clue, and couldn't find a single letter with which to check STEIN before writing it in. So I didn't. Eventually worked my way up from the bottom, where a skimpy 3 letters -- the CH of CHLORINE GAS and L of LET'S GET ON IT enabled me to see THE NHL and ATTIC. And the rest is history.

Some tough clues for ATTIC (19A); STOOD (5A); SPIN (10A); DINNER PLATE (9D); ZIT (which I did see immediately), and ENZYME (43A).

I did think there was green paint splattered all over the DJ's PERSONALITY. That's a PERSONALITY? Just play the damn record and get out of the way.

Also, to DO THE SPLITS requires a lot more than getting two feet apart. I can get my two feet apart any time I like. It's like falling off a log. But to DO A SPLIT? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Great puzzle, Peter A. Collins in a great week of puzzles!

pabloinnh 10:02 AM  

Hey @LMS, (and Vernon's dad too, I guess), I'm with you guys. I look forward to these things every day and can't remember one that made me angry. Or worse, that I found boring. Thankful for all those unseen constructors out there whose job is to make me happy. And more often than not, find myself saying how did they come up with THAT?

As for today,have visited The ELMS begat ERSATZ and ZEN, fast corner, on to the SE, also fast, and the long ones were fun. On the easy side for a Saturday but maybe the accumulated experience of solving a few thousand of these things has something to do with that.

Thanks for all the fun, Mr. Collins.

kqrbob 10:04 AM  

Ooops.

SJ Austin 10:20 AM  

I found this one pretty difficult. I also thought the cluing was frustratingly poor, but I recognize that this statement may just be derivative of the first. :)

leah712 10:24 AM  

I love the experience, usually late in the week, when the I get maybe three answers on my first pass through the clues but eventually manage to finish it after a little more time and coffee, and that was my experience today. I'm guessing the people who hate onion rolls have never had a brisket sandwich on an onion roll at a good deli.

Leslie 10:38 AM  

Nice puzzle except for "let's get on it." Liked new clues for old friends. A bit pleased with myself for putting in "evanescence" right away but then had to take it out. Sort of like "kill your darlings" for writers. .: was confusing.

Suzie 10:45 AM  

I found this a bit of an unpleasant slog. Possibly my brain wasn't fully engaged when I started, but I had more trouble with some of the fill than I should have.

I got ELMS and LISBETH and MOLTEN right out the gate, but slowed down after that. Would've gotten VENTI readily (thanks, Starbucks), but my eyes skipped over that clue over and over again. I got the LION part of that clue easily, but couldn't remember the NEMEAN part. And I had LET'S GET to IT at first too. Then I entertained "at" before finally coming to "on."

THE NHL and HALER made me irrationally annoyed, though they weren't that difficult. I do like CHLORINE GAS and POLARITY and TRANSIENCE, but I *hate* TRAVEL IRONS. Who packs an iron?! No one packs an iron! And that's not my one-bag-travel bias coming through.

Woodbutcher 10:46 AM  

Rex, et. al.,
Long time reader, first time ‘caller.’
Easy, weird Saturday.
Obie, oboes, oh, boy.
Oy vey.

TM-Bend, OR

Bax'N'Nex 10:55 AM  

So Mike, when you read history books in school, did you protest the “ugh” words there too(CHLORINE GAS)? As unpleasant as those are to your hypersensitive, oh so trendy politically “correct” self...that stuff happened. So stay away from history books and stick to comic books, you’ll be safer in your little cocoon.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

I’m with Todd. As for f***er or n***er the answer is easy. No one would use those words in polite society. There may be a gray area but those words are nowhere near it. As for Hitler, Osama, Idi Amin, Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez, etc., I see no reason for keeping them or anyone out of the puzzle no matter how evil they are.

David 11:03 AM  

@kitshef, "sold right out"? I've never heard that one. Standing Room Only and Single Room Occupancy were staples of growing up in New York. I think the developers are still trying to buy out two or four occupants of the last SRO Hotel on the Bowery so they can throw up another gaudy building with apartments to be purchased by Chinese or Russian LLCs, maybe to launder money, the way Trump Tower was used to launder Russian mob money back in the 80s. [Oh. Everybody doesn't know that? Everybody here does, and has for decades.]

I love all the Z words and it's great to see Zydeco in the puzzle. This one was medium difficult for me.

My granddad had his hair parted by a German bullet at the Battle of the Marne, and before that had some pretty horrific trench experiences, but he didn't get gassed.

JC66 11:04 AM  

I'm with @Teedmn and @Nancy, et al in finding today's puzzle on the difficult side.

This is my go to PERSONALITY.

MickMcMick 11:10 AM  

Any puzzle with 3 z answers and onion rolls is a winner! Loved it!

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

@anonymous 10:47- I’m not sure Greene was a racist. He was certainly an anti-Semite, but I don’t think this crowd cares much about that. After all, known anti-Semite Ilhan Omar was in the puzzle the other day with no objections from Rex. Someone mentioned the hypocrisy in the comments and Z was her staunchest defender. Oh well, at least Will Shortz doesn’t seem to pay attention to them. That is good for the puzzle.

Crimson Devil 11:19 AM  

Very tough Sat. NE 2/3rds got, finally; SRO last to fall. But bottom half, ‘cept for ISTO, TENORS, ENS, SSNS, TREKS, GOALS, LINE, and ICER, wore me out. Was feelin better about this puz-solving....Really like ERSATZ. I thought SAM’S was actual name, not informal one.

Bax'N'Nex 11:20 AM  

@Z ...so you are equating fucker and nigger with Chlorine gas???

It seems anyone could see the vast difference in offensibility (might have just made that word up...) of those words. I think intent might have something to do with what makes a word offensive. Was the constructor championing chlorine gas? Or just saying it existed? We know the intent behind the other words you used.

Personally, i feel if we are eliminating offensive, racist, misogynistic, narcissistic words then no more TRUMP card, etc.

burtonkd 11:24 AM  

I’m definitely team LMS all the way! I wonder what is going on in my mind that I come back here daily for the often LOATHEsome commentary. Today I was thinking what a lot of variety of topics covered and no 3 letter abbreviations. Honestly I wonder how someone who would seriously be offended by seeing chlorine gas or Zelig makes it through a day.
There was a radio lab podcast I believe that was about the inventor of mustard gas, and how he also figured out how to pull nitrogen out of the air, which led to the ability to greatly increase crop yields. They pondered what his sum total effect on Humanity tally would be.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

One of thee labors of Hercules doesn't rate?!
What am I missing? The world truly has gone mad.

As for Woody Allen, no doubt hooking up with your step child is creepy. Probably creepy beyond redemption. But the Connecticut state police tried everything to arrest him and simply could find no evidence of any crime. Ditto the NYPD.

If you get the chance, watch Peter Jackson's documentay on WWI (They Shall Not Grow Old). Not just a stunning technical achievemnt but quite moving as well.

burtonkd 11:29 AM  

Single room occupancy - many residences in nyc declared themselves hotels to be in a different regularory environment, for instance.
Herbicides go after dandelion roots to prevent plant from regrowing. Defoliant was never mentioned.

Newboy 11:33 AM  



Having lurked in the shadows as a syndicated solver for years, I finally take iPad in hand to join the crowd snarling at the foot of OFL. Mmorgan’s reflection (8:29) parallels my solve exactly. Today’s chagrin at what I see as a perfect for Saturday challenge seems more a reflection of solvers’ idiosyncratic expectations than a valid critique of a clever creation. I must agree with Pam’s Thursday entry: “Thank you Loren for your always gracious responses. You never fail to see that extra layer of wit in the relationships between answers. I so appreciate the way you articulate the intellectual gymnastics that puzzle construction requires.” But I really miss Evil Doug.

Z 11:41 AM  

@Karl Grouch - Do you do the Saturday Stumper? It got an LOL from me.

Carola 11:46 AM  

I found the puzzle pleasingly challenging: plenty of skipping around to look for solid traction, rewarded with ONION ROLLS, RABBIT HOLE, ZYDECO, DO THE SPLITS.... I also enjoyed two parts-of-speech fake-outs: understanding "fancy" as an adjective rather than a verb, and "bore" as either a noun or present tense verb: I needed every cross for LOATHE and STOOD (nice pair). I'm often disgruntled at having to know names, but today NEMEAN LION, DENEB, LISBETH, and GEENA gave me some much needed help.

Eye-opening to read here that some say DO THE SPLIT. Wha'?

Amelia 11:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 11:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 12:05 PM  

@David Schinnerer - I quite specifically equated CHLORINE GAS with other weapons that often appear in the puzzle. You might recall from your grammar school language arts lessons that a new paragraph is usually indicative of a new topic. Showing some modicum of comprehension of what people have written would be appreciated by just about everybody.

@Amelia - I don’t know that Soon Yi is a reliable witness. I also don’t think Mia Farrow is a reliable witness. Nor would I accept Woody Allen’s version or anyone else who was a child at the time. It is a real Rashomon situation. What I do know is that many people put Woody Allen in Bill Cosby territory for personal reasons. Being sensitive to that doesn’t strike me as a big ask.

EV 12:07 PM  

“Maybe Woody Allen doesn’t elicit similar reactions from” me as Hitler. Maybe. Maybe because I’m sane.(laughing insanely)
Stop yourself.

My 99 year-old nyc apartment floor is on a slant. If you move the coffee table a little (I’ve done this) you can place a rubber ball at the far corner of the room it will begin to roll slowly, then gain speed on the hardwood, carom gently off the far wall and fall through the doorway into the hall and all the way to the front door. Is the floor racist?

The Labors of Hercules, right there at (or somewhere very near) the bedrock of the Western Canon. Dismissed as crosswordese?

@merican in Paris 12:10 PM  

@burtonkd 11:29 AM -- You are right that the puzzle clue did not mention defoliants explicitly, but it made a general statement about herbicides. My point was that not all herbicides (for example, some defoliants, which is an important class of herbicides) target plants' ROOTS.

@Anonymous 7:24 AM, RJ 7:29 AM, HazelinME 7:37 AM, QuasiMojo, etc. -- Thanks for explaining to me the other term for which SRO is an abbreviation. Now I know.

... OK, I'm ff to grab something to eat. I'm thinking of ONION ROLLS on a DINNER PLATE, washed down with a big glass of NESTLÉ's TANG (a.k.a., ERSATZ orange juice). [Actually, it's owned by Mondelēz International, Inc.]

Banana Diaquiri 12:11 PM  

RoundUp, among others, claims to kill down to the root. could be such transport is one reason the active compound has been declared a carcinogen in humans. reminds me of the last bit of "Robo Cop", where a Bad Guy rams a tank of 'toxic waste'.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Cheers to your delight! This place is a reliable cornucopia of complaint - many seem to enjoy your clear-sighted cheerfulness - maybe start your own lighter & brighter blog? Say yes...

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Thanks very much for this puzzle, Mr. Collins. I found it difficult but quite enjoyable. Thanks again!

Newton 12:46 PM  

@Z : Seems like a pretty simple answer to the Woody Allen question. Allow all proper names in the puzzle and you and Rex quit your pearl clutching. Problem solved.

DavidL 12:57 PM  

Weird week for me. Thursday took the longest, Friday the second longest, and Saturday the third longest. Today's cluing was tricky, but somehow I was on the same wavelength and got through it efficiently.

FPBear 12:59 PM  

I liked it, enjoyed the solve.
I can't identify with @Rex problem with "bad words" like anal and chlorine gas. It's just a crossword, a game. Don't see why you shouldn't have fuck shit piss.
BTW I love Woody and Soon Yi and absolutely despise Mia and her slimy little son Ronan.

GILL I. 1:12 PM  

@Amelia If your step-father takes naked pornographic pictures of you, decides you look pretty sexy at a young and impressionable age, sleeps with you and eventually marries you to spite your mother,( and don't forget the 35 year age difference), then by all means, blame it on crazy Mia or even Soon Yi herself. Leave poor Allen out of the equation. He's just an angst filled neurotic man who has been given a pass. I don't care one whit that he appears in a crossword. Same for the rest of the sick people on this earth. OFL mentioned his name might offend. His name in a puzzle doesn't offend me in the least. What he's done with his life, does.
Same with Fonda who took delight in spitting on this country. Blah, blah, blah.

OISK 1:17 PM  

@Newton - I agree. Historical figures belong in crosswords, whether they were good, evil, or in between. I object to "Proper Names" like NWA, which has appeared in the puzzle frequently, but given what the "N" stands for.....nah, actually I object to it because it's an obscure (to me) acronym. Now that it has been in the puzzle often, I get it right, but I don't like it.

Three weeks of really nice puzzles, as far as I am concerned, and enjoyed this one a lot. Didn't know there was a French city called "Sedan," thought maybe "Le Man" might be a type of car, but that ain't how you spell it. Never heard of zydeco.

The chemist who is credited with bringing chlorine gas to the trenches was Fritz Haber, a German Jew, who also, as someone pointed out, designed the Haber process, which enabled Germany to produce enough gun powder to keep WW I going, and for which he was considered a military hero. But his discovery ALSO enabled enhanced production of nitrates for fertilizer, which was a GOOD thing. His WW I "heroism" did not insulate him from German antisemitism, and he fled the country, never to return.

tea73 1:21 PM  

Easy peasy for a Saturday.

Would have been nice to get a little Buckwheat ZYDECO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH2eRRh4Bls

HSCW Editor 1:22 PM  

Anyone familiar with Greek mythology knows about Hercules and the Nemean Lion...and the lion would also be familiar to the millions of readers of Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson" series. Not sure it's completely fair to term this clue and answer "crosswordese" :-)

Amelia 1:36 PM  
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Banana Diaquiri 1:46 PM  

@OISK:
But his discovery ALSO enabled enhanced production of nitrates for fertilizer, which was a GOOD thing.

in the short run, shur. in the medium to long, not so much. I saw a comment, years ago now, from a midwest farmer that the only benefit to soil, any more, was to keep the crops from falling down. without synthetic fertilizers, nothing would grow. I doubt that the soil has improved since. stop making so many babies, OK?

ArtO 1:48 PM  

@burtonkd right on with the comment about OFL.

@LMS you never cease to amuse and amaze. Scraping chewing gum off the sidewalk...AND THEN CHEWING IT???? Safely???? You gotta be kidding.

ArtO 1:54 PM  

P.S Amazed that OFL would put on a link to a REALLY DATED song like Johnny Mercer's "Personality" with its obvious double entendre of non-PC personality. Personally, it was a pleasure to hear one of my favorite Mercer songs.

Nancy 2:10 PM  

@GILL (8:57) -- "I can't stand Woody Allen. Never have, never will. Won't watch anything of his." I have two words for you, @GILL: ANNIE. HALL. Never mind if Woody's a complete sleazebag (and he almost certainly is), this movie is surely one of the best romantic comedies of all time. I'd put it in my top 5, if not higher. Just take that scene in the childhood classroom. That scene on the movie line. That scene at the dinner table with Annie's "Grammy". One after the other, Woody creates unique moments on the screen that are different from anything that came before. I'll make you a deal. You watch "Annie Hall" and I'll go to YouTube and track down the sewer rat rescue video you recommend. (Actually I'll look it up, even if you don't watch "Annie Hall". I'm intrigued by the fact that it's your favorite Facebook posting.) But I hope we have a deal. Rent the film from your library in the event that you're philosophically opposed to putting money in Woody's pocket. But do see it if you haven't already done so.

Malsdemare 2:30 PM  

I thought the puzzle was hard and fun. I enjoyed ZYDECO, DOTHESPLITS, and DENEB, even though I put in rigal first, no idea why. So I'm good.

Vernon's dad 2:30 PM  

Thanks, @Gill I. I enjoy your take on the puzzles.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

Thanks Amelia,
I tnink youre dead right. And I appreceiate someone saying it.

Wow 2:38 PM  

So I wrote something insulting to @Z, and the Mods didn't post it. Yet, he's allowed to write the stuff he puts here. OK.
Can I at least remind him of the Three Post rule?
I'm willing to actually let it slide a bit, if he's willing to be witty, and not correcting/opinionated.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Wow,
Ive begged the mods to apply the rules to z. They never seem to.

oldactor 2:55 PM  

Loren: Count me in. I wake up every morning looking forward to my daily puzzle and have yet to be disappointed.

Somewhere I read that Chorine has saved more lives than any other substance on earth by making water safe to drink. Can the gas negate that fact? Don't think so.

Woody Alan is one of the funniest people on earth. Have you ever heard his Moose Story? Look it up. What he does off stage is none of my business.

GILL I. 3:02 PM  

@Amelia. Of course it's my personal opinion....Everything I write here is my personal opinion. Just like yours is regarding how insane Mia is. Everyone on this blog has a personal opinion. And, of course he was guilt of everything single thing I said. He admitted it. You choose what you want to believe, I'll choose mine. He's a scumbag. Period. If you shrug his behavior, good on you.
@Nancy. I've actually seen Annie Hall. I LOVED it - especially Grammy. Then the sleaze bag goes and has an affair with his step-daughter who was so terribly vulnerable. I won't ever watch anything of his again.
Now, go watch the rat being rescued from the man-hole. @Loren posted it the other day. It's so endearing - his fatness and squeaks in all his glory..... :-)

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

Gil,
Please direct me to any disinterested source which verifies Allen took pornographic pictures. You're asserting a fact, thats not opinion.
Also it's petulant and silly to attempt to grant a right to Amelia---believing what she likes-thats not yours to bestow. As you so eloquentky wrote me last week, get over yourself.

mmorgan 3:17 PM  

Good lord, why is everyone in such nasty and hostile moods today? I mean, after all, it's Desi Arnaz's 102nd birthday! Can't we call just... get along?

Hartley70 3:54 PM  

@Carola, I suppose I could be doing a SPLIT at that football game in ‘66, but I would have said I was doing the SPLIT coming out of a cartwheel. Either one would have been fine. However, I would have needed 4 legs for it to be the SPLITS.

OffTheGrid 4:09 PM  

@Ralph, SLANT in the puzzle means an interpretation of something, synonym of SPIN. It was not presented as a slur. You did that.

Nancy 4:24 PM  

Awwwww, GILL, what an adorable rat. What a lovable face. (No I'm not exaggerating; go have a look, everyone). I think he's been slandered, though. The voiceover refers to him as a "fat rat". But I thought he appeared to be of completely normal and acceptable rat size. And it's his pleasing plumpness and furriness that makes him so adorable. It's the lean and sleek and and hungry-looking rats that give me the willies.

Now off to find @old actor's Woody Allen moose story. I've heard it before but, being me, I've completely forgotten it.

@mmorgan (3:17) -- Delightful!!!

Suzie Q 4:24 PM  

Yes, the blog has taken a nasty turn today. I blame Rex. He sets the tone. Rarely do things spin out of orbit when Rex is a one of his rare good moods.
Look at the topics: chlorine and Woody Allen. Ridiculous. That is the sort of bickering that made my mother send us kids to our rooms.

GILL I. 4:37 PM  

@oldactor: I loved Harvey Weinstein's "Good Will Hunting," Roman Polanski's "Repulsion, Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate" and Kevin Spacey in "House of Cards."...just to name a few. In my eyes....what was once their greatness is completely erased by what is their true character. Their "self." You can try and act it all away but the bottom line this is who they are outside of the stage. I can't get it out of my mind.
Woody Allen falls in that same category. Hard to divorce the directing/acting from the true character.
Oh...and I'll add Mario Batali. I will NEVER cook his Trenette with pesto....EVER AGAIN.

Wundrin' 5:01 PM  

Was there a crossword puzzle today?

brandsinger 7:37 PM  

Chlorine gas too grim for your sensibilities? The grid shape unbecoming? Gee. I fear my standards are just too low for this crowd. I'm not going to clutch my pearls (pardon the cliche) over where they lay out the little black squares.

Joe Dipinto 8:32 PM  

If you substitute linguine or fettucine for the trenette it won't really be his recipe. There, now you're off the hook. ;-)

GILL I. 9:19 PM  

@Joe D...I'll try the fettuccine. Thanks for the out loud laugh. I raise my Talisker to ye.

Joe Dipinto 10:24 PM  

@GILL I. -- Cheers!

(Now I'm thinking about pesto pasta. I think I have some fettuccine on hand...)

Anonymous 10:50 PM  

can somebody please explain ims and ens (sw)

JC66 11:20 PM  

@Anon 10:50

IMS = Instant Messages

ENS = 2 N's in CaNNes

Amelia 11:17 AM  
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ChE Dave 10:45 PM  

For 34A, I had “on air talent”. Sam’s and Dinner Plate crossed so I felt good about it.

Really made this plod along. I wanted Evite, so I ditched my first thought and things opened up.

Booj Noonan 8:46 PM  

Worth pointing out (belatedly) that while PRESSMAN may be somewhat archaic in the newspaper printing sense, it's a completely legitimate, even good answer if clued as a football term. (Defined as a subset of man coverage in which the secondary plays close to the line of scrimmage with the aim of diverting opposing receivers). If you want to give a misdirect with the clue, there's plenty of room for wordplay "Technique for jamming recievers?" for example might be a little too inside-baseball, but it's a much better sports answer than the clunky THENHL

Me, You, or Ellie 2:34 PM  

“Do the splits”? That is not a thing. It is “do a split”. Are there *no* former high school cheerleaders out there?

Jane B 1:48 PM  

I second Loren Muse Smith.
Was about to ask about ENS, thinking of French for “Cannes duo” and it just dawned on me. Withdraw question.

Yam Erez 2:44 PM  

Hear, hear, Brandsinger. Also, re Woody Allen, and Michael Jackson: Is it not possible for someone to be a bad person AND a creative genius?

Burma Shave 10:44 AM  

REVISE EVITE

I’LLPASS on THE ONIONROLLS, or I’m APT to vomit,
set DINNERPLATE GOALS and LET’SGET right ONIT!

--- LEO_V. STEIN

spacecraft 11:01 AM  

Now what? Woody Allen, fergodsake? What did HE do? Let's get OFF it, please. In fact, my reaction to this puzzle is the complete reversal of OFL's. First: easy-medium?? You have GOT to be kidding. I solved it, but am due a TON of triumph points for it.

Broke through in the SE, but only one way out of there, so purely out of repeating the Z, I tried ERSATZ/ZEN in the NW, and was soon out of there too. It was that big middle area that had me staring for the longest time. There are so many 5-letter Davises: Bette, Ossie, DOD and love of my life GEENA...I wanted her to be the one so badly that I wrote her in--and it worked!

A very satisfying solve, made difficult by Saturday-level cluing which was tough but fair. That's what Saturday is supposed to give you. I loved it, loved doing it, and give it an eagle.

BS2 11:23 AM  

GOD’S GREENE RABBITHOLE

LISBETH is LOATHE to find ZITS,
“They’ll just SHO POLARITY.”
But she’ll SHO DOTHESPLITS
with her ERSATZ PERSONALITY.

--- GEENA PRESSMAN

rondo 11:58 AM  

This was soooo easy I mighta set a record time for a Sat-puz. Musta been wavelength day. TRANSIENCE perhaps. What I didn’t get right off, the crosses took care of.

@Me,You,or Ellie – it’s always and forever been DOTHESPLITS. That’s what my cheerleader girlfriends called it 45 years ago; I think that qualifies as forever.

@ando – SEVERAL is ‘exactly’ a few, Sheesh yourself.

There’s an element of blues in modern ZYDECO, bit I wouldn’t call it an offshoot.

The Swedish version of the ‘Dragon Tattoo’ trilogy, starring yeah baby Noomi Rapace as LISBETH Salander, is far superior to what the Americans did to the first installment. And I really didn’t need the subtitles.

SEVERAL choices for Davis of Hollywood, and we get yeah baby GEENA. Nice PERSONALITY.

Time for lunch, even after having finished this piece of cake.

5wksltr 12:57 PM  

Exactly what I'm looking for in a Saturday puzzle. And Suzie Q put it perfectly - "Leave that word association game for your shrink."

rainforest 2:51 PM  

Not a "piece of cake", @rondo, for me, but it was one of those puzzles where I started very slowly with TANG and GEENA (agreed), and got random entries, but gradually built momentum and finished with a flourish at LEOV/OHOH. For "bore", I saw STOOD in the sense of "bore the cost".

Never having read the Stieg Larsson books, LISBETH was a small hangup in the SW, the toughest section of the puzzle for me, until I accepted PRESS MAN.

For me, this was a great puzzle. I have loved Woody Allen's work for 50 years, and will continue to love it. He is a *talent*, even if he is a little, er, eccentric.
Once, while teaching a Chemistry class, I accidentally gassed myself with CHLORINE GAS when I neglected to turn on the fume hood fan. Not a pleasant experience, but my students applauded. You take what you can get.

Diana,LIW 3:41 PM  

Like @Rainy, I began slowly and finished the SE, NW, and then NE. But that ole line in the SW did me in for a dnf. So my celebration had a bit of TRANSCIENCE.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 5:02 PM  

Tough, fair, and clever, and didn't finish for maybe the umpteenth time on a Saturday. The more I don't succeed, the more I'll try, try again.

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