Jim of 1960s TV / SAT 4-6-19 / Supermarket chain since 1926 / Woolly Sesame Street character whose first name is Aloysius

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Medium (8:05)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: FLAM (56D: Deception, informally) —
a drumbeat of two strokes of which the first is a very quick grace note (m-w) 
but also?

• • •

I am befuddled by this one. When I look at the grid, it seems like something I should've enjoyed. But I found it kind of wearisome, and I don't know why. I mean, I have some ideas, but none of them really explain how little any of the clues or answers in this puzzle moved me. And maybe I'll start with the clues, because those answers up top, that stack, looks nice in the grid, but the clues ... they feel forced. Stilted. Awkward. "Any chance of success, though?" I know it's hard to approximate the exact zing of the answer phrase in your clue phrase, but all these clues sound like something A.I. would say, something aliens who had just learned our language would say. Just off. So I had trouble getting all those answers and then when I did, I was like "Oh ... I guess, yeah." Not the aha reaction I really long for. No one says ITSY. No one says FLAM. I learned it as FRA LIPPO LIPPI—stunned to see that "FI-" shoved in there (58A: Renaissance artist who's famous for his "Coronation of the Virgin"). Stupid Browning, teaching me wrong stuff...

NUNHOOD? I see that it is a word (1D: What one may be in the habit for?). I'm pretty sure SISTERHOOD is the more common word. BIG ONE really, Really needs "The" (either in the grid or in the clue) (12D: Earthquake that everyone's been waiting for). "I'm waiting for BIG ONE"? No. "IT'S A HIT" is just random (23D: Baseball announcer's cry). I watch a lot (a Lot) of baseball, and I wrote in "IT'S GONE!" which an announcer is far (Far) more likely to "cry" than "IT'S A HIT!" When the clues miss, the experience suffers. Again, I think the grid (despite a small spate of crosswordese) is very solid. It's not a HOT MESS; I'm just not NUTS ABOUT it.

Five things:
  • 3D: Jeffersons (TWOS) — me: "Ooh, easy: TENS!" UGH.
  • 40D: Quickly grab (SWOOP UP) — Wanted SNAP UP, but it wouldn't fit.
  • 7D: 1979 platinum album with the hit "I'll Never Love This Way Again" (DIONNE) — 1979 pop hits!? Now you're in my wheelhouse. This is the first answer about which I was (mostly) certain.
  • 57A: "___ Day Will Come" (1963 #1 hit) ("OUR") — Covered by DIONNE Warwick on her 1982 album Heartbreaker, just FYI
  • 37D: Jim of 1960s TV (NABORS) — had the terminal "S"; wrote in BACKUS.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:12 AM  

Easy-medium. Loved the top stack.

NUNNery before NUNHOOD which was a tad hard to swallow.

SNUFFLEUPAGUS I knew, FRAFILL... not so much.

Liked it.

Ruby and the Romantics did the ‘63 version of OUR Day.

Lee Coller 1:09 AM  

13D is just wrong. It's not a big box store, maybe popular 20 years ago, but not in this millennia.

Z 1:33 AM  

LOL at “popular” K-MART.

chefwen 2:03 AM  

Medium, challenging for me, especially at the bottom. Forgot to have kids so most Sesame Street characters are alien to me, other than Big Bird. FILIPPO LIPPI sounds like a medical procedure for rich women.

Liked the two long top answers. NOT A BAD IDEA, BUT WILL IT WORK? Probably not, WIN SOME LOSE SOME.


Anonymous 2:09 AM  

The top 3 acrosses, taken together, are just plain great. Could be the intro paragraph to a caper story!

Solving from Canada, a big difficulty is brand/corporate names that are common in the US but often unknown up here. So clues like "Popular big box stores", "Charmin alternative", and "Supermarket chain since 1926" make me want to quit solving and go watch TV. But when I was a kid we did in fact have KMARTS here (they left Canada decades ago) and I have heard of SCOTTS, and there is in fact an IGA near my house, so lucky me tonight.

FRA FILLIPO LIPPI is just a big FLP fest!!

Mr. Alarm 2:27 AM  

As usual, your summation humor is accurately spun: “I think the grid (despite a small spate of crosswordese) is very solid. It's not a HOT MESS; I'm just not NUTS ABOUT it.”

Joaquin 4:02 AM  

If Kmart qualifies as "popular big box stores", please begin referring to me as "Your Royal Highness Pope Joaquin".

Amy 5:11 AM  

Snuffleupagus was worth whatever else we had to go through. Made the puzzle for me.

Hungry Mother 5:24 AM  

Had to turn on the red letters to complete the bottom two acrosses. The Sesame Street character was one of my favorites when the kids were PEU, but I never saw the name spelt out. Some of the long entries filled themselves out.

Lewis 6:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:31 AM  

I loved the little story spun by the first three acrosses, and it certainly didn't describe this puzzle, which was a winner in my book. It put me through the paces, especially in the lower half, and causing me to work hard for a well-earned success is the mark of a good puzzle, IMO. I loved not only getting FRAFILIPPOLIPPI and SNUFFLEUPAGS, which are not in my memory's forefront, but afterward, I loved the feel of rolling them off my tongue.

I like FETES next to LETS, and speaking of FETES, that was a misdirect for me, who, as a long-time solver, when seeing the clue [Big dos], immediately thought of "afros". Clues that made me smile were those for both of those words, plus those for ROM, SPF, and POPE.

A so-sweet solid, satisfying Saturday, Sir White. Thank you!

Rob 6:59 AM  

TRASH. Trash trash trash. This is maybe the worst puzzle I have ever done. I am shocked that people aren't cursing it here in the comments. NUN HOOD? FLAM? Are you kidding me? This was a publishing embarrassment and you all have Stockholm Syndrome.

Aside: Is there technically a TREASURE MAP in Raiders? I don't really think of the map room as a treasure map. Is there an actual map I'm forgetting?

Betsey 7:07 AM  

Ricotta is made from COWS not EWES. Romano, on the other hand... and KMART hasn’t been “ popular “ in years. I had TARGET.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

The NUNHOOD is where the sisters hang out

QuasiMojo 7:18 AM  

I thought the grid was cool but agree some of the clueing and answers felt off. “It’s a Hit” okay. I’m not gonna stand up for that one. SNAP TO seems more like an order than an act. CHAINS before KMART. Made me think of Conrans which I miss. I wanted PURE for Innocent. And had no idea who Aloysius is. My kid TV viewing stopped at Wonderama. So I got stuck until my good Catholic upbringing suddenly awoke and I remembered my papal history. Which reminds me “Nun Hood” sounds like a hilarious premise for a new sitcom.

Aketi 7:20 AM  

For me, FRAFILLIPPOLIPPI was a HOT MESS that I couldn’t parse to save my life. I figured that it was a good bet that FRA was by itself. But was if FIL, FILL, FILLI (like one of the dwarves in The Hobbit with an extra L), or FILLIP? I thought the latter was the most likely. I did consider FILLIPPI but the O blocked that. At first glance, I just couldn’t imagine being a parent and teaching my little FILLIPPO LIPPI to spell his name, but then I realized all the consonants are doubled. FYI, Dr Google does show the shortened FRA LIPPO LIPPI as a variant and it’s also the name of a Norwegian band.

@Lewis, you left out a precious U in SNUFFLEUPAGUS. I, of course immediately thought of M&A when I uncovered that Ufest.

r.alphbunker 8:00 AM  

Was heading for my fastest Saturday ever but finished with PURE instead of POPE for {Innocent perhaps}. Did not know the crossing painter or puppet. Details are here.

Sydney 8:09 AM  

Oh goody! Stuff I know for a change! A Saturday with no googling! I may have to frame this one!

oopsydeb 8:14 AM  

Got the first three long acrosses immediately and thought the puzzle would be a breeze for me. Bottom half was much tougher for me, despite the gimme that was SNUFFLEUPAGUS. Never heard of FRAFILIPPOLIPPI, and had some other errors in that area that made it tough to finish.

Also had IT'S GONE because no baseball announcer ever cried "IT'S A HIT."

I'm not sure KMARTS count as popular stores any more. They declared bankruptcy in 2018, the second time they've done so, and they are down to about 200 stores. Seems Kmart is actually quite unpopular.

Still fast for a Saturday for me, but nothing like the high speed finish I expected at the beginning.

kitshef 8:21 AM  

There are many ways in which I disliked this puzzle.

There were the three CECs – my least favorite style of clue - on the first three across clues.

There is SNARF with (down). You ScARF down, or SNARF up.

There is TWOS clued as Jeffersons, which is simply made up. No one in the history of this great country has called a $2 bill a Jefferson.

There is FLAM, which is also made up. And SWOOP UP, which is insanely marginal.

There is the clue for KMARTS. Google KMART. Among the “people also asks” are “Is Kmart going out of business?”, “How many Kmart stores are left?”, and “Does Kmart exist?”. If they were popular, they would not all be closing (which 91% of them have). They would not have declared bankruptcy. Twice. Including once last year.

And on top of all that, it was Wednesday-easy.

kitshef 8:26 AM  

@Rob - although I agree with your overall assessment of the puzzle, there was indeed a TREASURE MAP in Raiders. It is at the very beginning, when they are navigating to the temple from where Indy steals the idol.

Anne 8:31 AM  


Z 8:37 AM  

Rain Man came out in 1988. What’s the one line I remember? And that was 31 years ago. “Popular”!

Also, I suspected NUNHOOD would have a different meaning in the vernacular. Urban Dictionary did not disappoint. Although it can’t be that common given the relatively few ratings the definition has.

Anne 8:41 AM  

Lippi is a very famous Renaissance painter from Florence. In those days parents may have had other ideas about naming their children, you think? His works are in most major museums in the world but especially in Florence and Tuscany.

Brian 8:41 AM  

Somewhere between a Wednesday and Thursday so easiest Saturday for me in a while. First filled all the three letter words then solved from the bottom up.

Mr. Cheese 8:43 AM  

Fastest Saturday ever for me. Hung up on “alateen”?

Miranda 8:48 AM  

His name is Mr. SNUFFLEUPAGUS!

Space Is Deep 8:50 AM  

Loved the top stack. Who hasn't heard of flim-flam. I probably learned it in an old movie growing up. By far the hardest answer was FRAFILIPPOLIPPI. yikes. Still, faster than yesterday, where two proper names I didn't know in the NW really hurt me.

Lorelei 8:53 AM  

George Bush, Sr.'s last prez campaign was marked by an incident where he dropped by the National Grocers Association (NGA) convention and was apparently amazed to find that scanners existed. Some say it didn't happen that way, but the incident was highlighted by the opposition to show how out of touch Bush was with the lives of everyday people.

Popular Big Box Store is the NGA moment of the NYT crossword puzzle.

And it's Fra Lippo Lippi. Stop making up words. Overall, a solid puzzle though.

Anne 8:53 AM  

Me too! Happy start to the day.

GILL I. 8:57 AM  

My Saturday puzzle ritual is fairly simple and unwavering. I Rarely finish so I give myself a luxurious one to two hours of quiet time in the company of my lovingly made latte, sitting in my favorite chair with pen in hand. Today, for the first time in months, It was over before I could even take a few sips. I wanted to reach for a pack of cigarettes.
I love phrase clues and I guess I'm good at them. I knew that 1D had to be a NUN something or other and I have several TWO dollar bills that I collect and give to my grandchildren. So the NOT was beginning to take shape. 5D was the easy BLENDERS because swizzle sticks didn't fit. NOT A BAD IDEA. That answer AROUSES my WIN SOME LOSE SOME. I was winning.
Nothing was holding me back. I had a few do-overs Came to/SNAP TO... Scarf/SNARF...Slam/FLAM. I'm glad I had to think about those because it gave me time to make another latte and listen to the early birds trying like mad to find a mate for the spring.
I come to the end of my odyssey and to my delight I get SNUffy as my daughter would call him. Had some trouble spelling his name. Easy enough. FRA with the four P's is primo. So glad Ned worked him in.
So I finish without a cheat. I should be delighted. @Rex said it: "When I look at the grid, it seems like something I should've enjoyed." I can't put my finger on it, but it did feel a little "stilted." The cluing was fine - maybe a tad blah - so maybe it was the KMART. Poor thing. I think maybe Martha Stewart had a finger in the pie MESS that the store has become. When she went to the pokey for lying about a stock sale (like half of Congress does) maybe her goods no longer sold at her favorite store and they eventually all had to close down. I can dream, can't I. She's still laughing all the way to the bank and KMART has tanked.
Yeah...here in the USofA Ricotta is typically made from cow's milk. The Italiano's, who know better, make it from sheep or goat. I bet EWE didn't know that.....

Sarah 9:08 AM  

FLAM killed my streak. I could not think of anything that could possibly fit there except scAM or shAM. But I also couldn't figure out the last letter of SPF, and that ones on me.

Nancy 9:09 AM  


*SNUFFLE UrAnUS (62A) (Why not?)

*PurE (55D) (For "Innocent, perhaps.")

*InA (61D) (For the supermarket chain. Look, it may have been in existence since 1926, but it hasn't ever been in NYC!!!! So I've never heard of it. OKAY THEN?!)

My grid is a HOT MESS. Don't ask. And while I perhaps should have known 58A, 62A is absolutely ridiculous. I enjoyed the top 3/4 of the puzzle, but I wasn't all that NUTS ABOUT the bottom 1/4. WIN SOME, LOSE SOME, I guess.

Parole Crociate 9:12 AM  

Nope. Ricotta is made from sheep’s milk. Baa-baa.

Parole Crociate 9:16 AM  

I live in Tuscany and majored in Art Histpry...and had Leonardo da Vinci in there for a while.

Birchbark 9:17 AM  

I like the first three acrosses as a narrative of ingenuity, trial and error. Then, in the center, a payoff at NUTS ABOUT crossing ITS A HIT. At the far end of the rainbow, edenic latter days, beautiful nonsense: FRAFILIPPOLIPPI, SNUFFLEUPAGUS, TREASURE MAP.

70 in Nampa 9:29 AM  

Finished in under half my average time and, for me, there was nothing about this puzzle that was clever, interesting, or worth the little time spent filling it in.
Rarely my reaction to xwords.

Snuffy 9:32 AM  

Meanwhile, all the KMARTs in my city are closed and empty. They are now popular commuter parking lots. See also: IGAs

I gave up and just googled the painter of the Coronation of the Virgin...and the guy in the puzzle, while famous for painting that painting, is evidently the third most famous painter of that subject. So there's that. Kinda wishing now that there was a Frafilippolippi, Mississippi.

SNUFFLEUfAGUS...all these years and I didn't know it was -UPAGUS.

STINT is what you do in the army or some kind of term of duty. I don't really stint my money, but you do you, boo.

SWOOPin...because you really do swoop in before you can snatch up whatever you're quickly grabbing. See also the close proximity of SWOOPUP to SETUPS. This made me doubly sure SWOOPin was right.

I also had ITSgone. You would only cry ITSAHIT if the hit mattered. But ITSgone is almost always screamed because it's an automatic run (or more)...which is something to get excited about.

Nice to see Trump getting a shout out of empathy for his BONESPURS. Poor guy.

MichGirl 9:33 AM  

Best part of today's puzzle: BONESPUR crossing the DUMPSTER FIRE clue. Made my morning.

Nancy 9:34 AM  

My favorite comments so far:

@chefwen (2:03) -- FILIPPO LIPPI "sounds like a medical procedure for rich women."

@Quasi (7:18) -- NUN HOOD could be the title of a funny sitcom.


@kitshef (8:21) -- What on earth is a CEC? And also remember that one solver's "Wednesday-easy" is another solver's "WTF?"

@oopsydeb (8:14) -- You've never heard a baseball announcer cry IT'S A HIT???? Seems like it's one of the most frequent things they do.

pabloinnh 9:35 AM  

For some reason I started with SNUFFLEUPAGUS, an adventure in spelling, and then the good FRA, knew him from the Browning poem. It's a name that you hear and remember, as in, hey, that's a weird name. SCOOPUP, nope, WILDABOUT, nope, otherwise fine.

FLAM as in "flim-flam" made sense to me, thought the top stacks were fun, and we also give out TWOS as presents (hola GILL I).

Oh, and there's a KMART right down the road that is still open. If you're feeling nostalgic or lamenting the death of all KMARTS I can provide the address.

Smooth Saturday but a skosh on the easy side for my taste.

Teedmn 9:37 AM  

I was FLAMmed on this puzzle. It was so easy, right up until I had a blockage at 54A, gah.

My perhaps innocent was a duPE next to the scAM deception. What Sds had to do with blockage, I didn't know nor care. But I knew the Renaissance painter was not FRA FILIPPucIPPI (sounds like Mississippi?) I threw in the towel and looked up the four squares involved in that hot mess.

At least I got FUR as a trim option. My childhood lack of access to Sesame Street (we were out of reach of any PBS stations) meant that the SNaFFLEUPAGUS was totally possible, but what was that _aR trim? Hair cut to the eaR? Finally deciding that FRA's name must be FILIPP_ let me snuffle out FUR, yay.

I get Rex's gripe about the clues for the top phrases maybe not quite there but I must confess I didn't notice while solving.

Thanks, Ned White, you got me this Saturday.

Hartley70 9:38 AM  

I found this puzzle really fast and fun. It plays young and I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that Ned White doesn’t have an AARP card yet. Answers like DWEEB, WUSS, SNARF, HOTMESS, ALATEEN make me think his TEEN-HOOD might not be so very far behind. Of course then there’s DIONNE. It was a super BIG HIT in 1979 but I don’t think many people alive are still HUMming it. I am now, though.

Stacks! Those threesomes at the top and bottom were much sweeter than the average stacks. The top set was easier, but the bottom’s wonderful SNUFFLEUPAGUS and FRAFILIPPOLIPPI made that group my favorite.

I always appreciate the difficulty of a tough Saturday puzzle, but I don’t usually smile as much as I did this morning. Thanks, Ned!

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

What does alateen men?

Anne 9:45 AM  

Alanon for teenagers

JC66 9:49 AM  

Easy here until having to grok Pure -> Plea -> POPE.

JanetG 9:50 AM  

Lots of issues with the cluing:
When was the last time a "SSN" was on a job application?
"Tumult" (which I spent most of my life thinking was Yiddish) doesn't imply noise, like "DIN" does.
I've never heard "SWOOP UP", only "snap up" or "swoop in"
And I don't think "ABACK"="unawares"

Hartley70 9:50 AM  

As to today’s disputed popularity of KMART, CNN had a piece yesterday that Sears and KMART are not dead yet and are now rebranding. KMART’s new slogan will be “love where you live” and is accompanied by new signs, new uniforms and a blitz of tv and social media ads. Where there’s life, there’s hope that they might get big box status yet.

Jillybean 9:51 AM  

Checked 4 times since I was sure it had to be N early week puzzle I opened accidentally. Waaaay too easy, and a bit awkward. Opening the first 3 accrosses with same type of clue? Many questionable entries. Loved hot mess tho

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

I went into a K-MART the other day for the first time in years. It was mostly empty of both customers and merchandise. I’m guessing it’s a front for something.

kitshef 10:05 AM  

@Nancy: CEC = colloquial equivalency clue - one where the clue is a phrase that appears in quotes and the answer is supposed to be another phrase that means the same thing.

DeeJay 10:06 AM  

Fantastic puz, great job, thank you, Ned.

ArtO 10:09 AM  

After getting nowhere yesterday was happy to work through this one with just a couple of misses (thanks SNUFFLEUPARUS). Really liked the top stacks...especially WINSOMELOSESOME. Not happy with ABACK for "unawares."

RooMonster 10:12 AM  

Hey All !
Like others, liked the top three answers as a kind of talking-to-oneself kind of thing. Also described my solve.

Bottom section my downfall/DNF. Had cAMeLS for TAMILS (Har!), making STINT be ScINT. (Still not sure how STINT works...) Plus, not knowing FRA FILLLIPPPIZIPPIWHATIPPI (who I wanted to FILIPPI off) got me with duPE for POPE, and scAM-FLAM, as also the ole brain couldn't grasp the "blockage letters". Throw in a French PEU (P-U!) and a ScOOPUP/EcES, and I was done for. One other flub, AnoTEEN. Had nETS for LETS. Is there some way to know the difference twixt a let and a net? Maybe I'll ask FILIPPOLIPPI.

SNARF V ScARF. I prefer SCARF, and wrote it in as such. Gonna call cADA correct. :-) Other writeovers, afroS-FETES, eek-UGH, Tsk-TUT, Rex's TenS-TWOS.

I did know SNUFFLEUPAGUS though! Yay, me! TREASURE MAP iffy for Indy. I guess it works. KMARTS are all closed now! Bummer. WUSS and DWEEB. NOT I, I hope. What ya trying to say, Ned?

Wasn't a HOT MESS, wouldn't say I was NUTS ABOUT puz, but still a nice one. Six F's, so a BIG ONE in that respect!


Bob Mills 10:20 AM  

Nice puzzle, but on the easy side for a Saturday.

Sir Hillary 10:24 AM  

OK, I will concede that SNUFFLEUPAGUS is simply a phenomenal crossword entry. It's so happy, so pure, so evocative of all things wonderful that I beamed while filling it in.

That is all I will concede, however.

While the grid is very pretty, the top two entries are exactly the conversation the constructor and/or editor should have had with themselves. Had they done so, perhaps this HOTMESS could have been averted.

Unintentional comedy:
-- NUNHOOD. Seriously? I suppose this morning I was in solverhood and now I am in commenterhood.
-- KMARTS are popular.
-- TWINPAC. Fundraising organization for the election campaign of Remus and Romulus?
-- SETUPS. Anyone ever say that?
-- FOTOS. Just stop.
-- So I guess "mixologists" means someone generically mixing something? Because bartenders ain't using a blender unless they're Jimmy Buffett.

I wish @Rex had linked to this.

jberg 10:26 AM  

No time to read the comments, I'll come back later if I can. Pretty easy for a Saturday. I'm with @Rex on FLAM, but ITSY might be OK. As for LIPPI, I never realized he was a monk, so I needed all the crosses on that one.

Escalator 10:28 AM  

Need to phone a friend.....

How is “pope” an answer for “Innocent, perhaps”?

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Trying for Sharp's job as imperious complainer in chief? It's a living I suppose, being miserable for attention. Good luck.

Dan Fesperman 10:32 AM  

An easy but irritating puzzle. So many clues that were off kilter, and so much randomness. As for "flam," as a former drummer I suggest you could've given us an accurate clue, but instead fell back on this weak stuff. Not worthy of a Saturday puzzle.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Riccotta Recipe - Take the stuff left over when you make real cheese, any real cheese. The real cheese can be from cows, sheep, goat, buffalo milk, whatever. Take any milk, add rennet to form curds. Take the curds to make the real cheese, take the whey (that milky slop left over) to make Riccotta. Riccotta is made from left over slop, and you're all arguing about which left over slop?

burtonkd 10:46 AM  

@lee coller, agreed. Way preceded box store era, plus wouldn’t call it popular as they have filed for bankruptcy - really resisted for that reason.

jb129 10:50 AM  

This was a totally enjoyable, easier than usual Saturday (I also had pure for pope). Thank you, Ned!

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I found this too easy for a Saturday. I knew Fra Filippo Lippi--but this made up for by my never having heard of Snuffleupagus. Pace Rex, Filippo Lippi is the more common spelling than the shortened Lippo Lippi.

*Nunhood* would be the vocation of the nun, though I have never before seen the term. A *nunnery* is an actual convent, famously used by Shakespeare as a term for a house of prostitution.

As for Lippi's portraits of the Virgin, was it Vasari who said that his Virgins were painted as if they were asking to be kissed rather than worshiped? (I may have my attributions confused--I googled this and didn't find it, but I didn't search carefully.)

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

"No one ever says FLAM?" There is a good George C. Scott film, "The Flim-Flam Man," which is how I got it.

webwinger 11:10 AM  

Like @Rex and others, I liked many of the answers; clues not so much. FLAM came easily with a couple of crosses because of the much more common, in my experience, and apparently related flim-flam. Somehow FRAFILIPPOLIPPI leapt out from the deep reaches of my brain (where it had lain dormant for more than 50 years since college art history) with just a few crosses. Filled in NABORS with no crosses at all--guy was very memorable for his portrayal of lovable hick Gomer Pyle in a couple of TV shows, who surprisingly turned out to have an impressive singing voice.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

I have to agree with OFL about "unhood" and "flam." (Flim flam? Yes. See "The Flim-Flam Man," a minor George C. Scott effort from 1967?!? ) Not a terrible Saturday; at least there was no rebus.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

If you Google it, Fra Lippo Lippi is a poem by Robert Browning and a Norwegian band from the 1980s. The artist's name is Filippo, "also called Lippo". So I would hardly call using his actual name "making up words".

Mo-T 11:20 AM  

I saw Fra Filippo Lippi's "Coronation of the Virgin" in the Uffizi in Florence, so that answer was not too much of a problem. He's also called 'Lippo - a clipped form of the name, much as you might say 'Nessa for Vanessa.

I loved the two stacks of three, especially finding out that Mr. Suuffleupagus's first name is Aloysius. Jeez, the things some parents do to their children.

And here in the wilds of the Western Catskills, there are indeed a few KMarts left that are popular big box stores where there are no other big box stores within 25 miles. This may seem weird to those of you who have Kohl's and Targets and WalMarts around the corner, but it's not as odd in some communities as you might think.

And I learned a new definition of stint as a verb: 43A save money. Skimp and scrimp and stint. I only knew it as a noun.

Thanks for a fun Saturday, Ned White.

Linda 11:21 AM  

@JanetG 9:50 AM -- 47A unawares: "caught unawares" = "taken aback"

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

The clue doesn't say anything about a job application, it says employment form. Think tax withholding form, for example.

FrankStein 11:35 AM  

That clue about DIONNE had me scratching my head because I misread the song title as “I’ll never fall in love again” which was an earlier hit for her. I couldn’t figure out why it was re-recorded in 1979. I must admit I prefer the early DW. I hear she’s been in the news again recently. Celebrity is a double-edged sword. Fun puzzle. I had few gripes except it was no stumper.

Seth 11:38 AM  

How is "Calls to reserve?" LETS?

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

So many writeovers! Did you know that “Cookie Monster” has the same number of letters as SNUFFLEUPAGUS? Now we all do.

Merriam Webster 11:49 AM  

...And I don't think "ABACK"="unawares"

We do:
aback adverb
\ ə-ˈbak \
Definition of aback
1 archaic : BACKWARD, BACK
2 : in a position to catch the wind upon the forward surface (as of a sail)
3 : by surprise : UNAWARES
was taken aback by her sharp retort

Seth 11:49 AM  

Ohhh "Calls to re-serve" I just got it. Wow.

Adam 11:55 AM  

I liked the puzzle better than @Rex. I also wanted IT'S GONE!, but I couldn't get the crosses to work. Figured HOT MESS and got IT'S A HIT. Bleh. Wanted GAGA ABOUT before NUTS, but that wouldn't work either. A TWINPAC is two of the same thing.

SUFFLEUPAGUS (which I first misspelled with an I instead of the last U) was my only gimme; the last thing I filled in was FRA FILIPPO LIPPI, of whom I've never heard. But it was gettable from the crosses, so fair - especially for a Saturda. Overall I enjoyed the puzzle, especially the stack at the top.

jberg 11:56 AM  

@Snuffy -- Put plenty of butter in your pound cake -- don't STINT!

Other than that, nothing new to say.

What She Said 12:17 PM  

I suspect part of Rex’s tepid response to this puzzle might lie in the datedness of the clueing and the PPP. With the exception of SIRI (and pehaps HOT MESS), this puzzle could have been published 25 years ago, (though it probably would have appeared on a different day of the week in 1994), back when KMART, ALATEEN, and Bill NYE were all more prominent than they are now.

DIONNE, NABORS, OUR, NAM, it’s almost a form of generational Naticking, something we witness when Rex brings in twenty-something guest columnists. Am I the only one who is feeling whipsawed these days between puzzles that are heavy with either Boomer PPP or with millennial PPP?

Just as Jeff Chen awards a “POW” (Puzzle Of the Week) designation over at xwordinfo, I feel like we should award a “BOOM” (Bunch Of Old Material) designation to puzzles like this, where the clueing and PPP is squarely in a smart Baby Boomer’s wheelhouse, but could really be a stretch for a 20-something whose last name doesn’t end in -gard.

Dunno what to call the spate of bro-tastic, DWEEB HIPSTER CRED millennial puzzles we’ve been seeing lately. Maybe just YYY, like the generation, the sex chromosome, and an onomatopoeia of the sound of frustrated older solvers everywhere?

GHarris 12:18 PM  

Smooth sailing until I hit the bottom. Then trouble especially in the SW. Didn’t help that I first had come to, plea then pure, scarf etc. Had to utilize auto check to finish. IMHO a lesser form of cheating. Sorry @Nancy but we must be listening to different baseball announcers. “It’s gone”, or “base hit” yes. The only place I have seen It’s a hit is in ads for Broadway shows.

JC66 12:19 PM  


There were 13 POPEs named Innocent.

What? 12:23 PM  

To all you complainers out there. Try constructing a puzzle. It’s hard.

Carola 12:29 PM  

TREASURE indeed, EWES guys. That awesome top stack, followed just below by the UGH of defeat. Also loved the pairing of FRA FILIPPO LIPPI and Mr. SNUFFLEUFAGUS. Overall, such a SNAPpy grid....HOT MESS, IT'S A HIT, ADAMANT.... Great "Innocent" clue.

Medium here, with a low initial Acrosses yield, until EWES x SIRI gave me the I for FRA FILIPPO LIPPI, the foundation I needed to build my way back up to the top.

Do-overs: TenS before TWOS, ado before DIN, I'm-so-smart-to-know-aqabA before BASRA, Tsk before TUT

@Ned White, thank you. This was a lot of fun.

Kath320 12:38 PM  

Whiffed on SNUFFLEUPAGUS because I was certain he always went by the honorific "Mr."

Wood 12:44 PM  

Agree, the top stack is BRILLIANT. The bottom one is where I got hung up... Never heard of the painter, spelled the Woolly Mammoth wrong, cruel clue on POPE, and FLAM? But a worthy challenge!

bigsteve46 12:54 PM  

Is it a fair criticism that the three long bottom clues (58, 62 & 63 across) are all proper-name, either-you--know-it-or-you-don't types? I find that very annoying - especially if its proper-name stuff that I don't know - like obscure Sesame-Street characters, Star Wars/Raiders of the Lost Ark/Tolkien crap. I should have known Fra Lippi, though. But the years take their toll. I try hard not to be the kind of old fart who gripes about everything - but if I feel the overwhelming need to gripe, what better place for it than an obscure, nerdy website devoted to crossword puzzle minutia!

Bree140 12:56 PM  

Why is “French” abbreviated as “Fr.” in the clue for 60D?
That led me to believe that the answer would be an
abbreviation, so I tried to force PEt in there (not that
anyone has ever abbreviated the French word for
“little” that way, but it was all I could come up with),
which made a mess of 63A.

puzzlehoarder 12:57 PM  

A disappointingly easy Saturday. The only square I wasn't completely sure of was the ALATEEN/CHASSE crossing. This obscure cousin of "jete" and "plie" has somehow managed to stay off the radar for me. The second A of ALATEEN I was about 90% sure of so it stayed. That is one sad sounding program title.

Wood 12:59 PM  

BTW what is "Fra?" Seems like a title of some kind? Seen it at the front of some Italian names, never knew what it was.

Joe Dipinto 12:59 PM  

Stop with the Lippo Lippi. His name was Filippo, as in Phillip.

This started out smoothly (OUR, DIONNE, DWEEB, BASRA...) until I screwed up the top left by putting in WIMP out. Which gave me ICK at 16a and...NUNKIND? I stared at that one for awhile thinking, well I guess it *could* be a word. Eventually I saw the error of my ways (it didn't require a rap on the knuckles with a ruler).

SWOOP UP? Really? And I have no idea what IGA is. Anyway, it still seemed easy for a Saturday despite my bumbling.

Wood 1:02 PM  

SCOOP UP or SNAP UP or SNATCH UP. Not SWOOP UP. But forgivable for the awesomeness of the rest of the grid.

Wood 1:08 PM  

Ha, talk about a niche acronym. Is that a Rexism or generally accepted in the crossword community?

Wood 1:10 PM  

Innocent is the name of at least one pope. I'm not up on my Catholic church history so I'm not sure if there was more than one.

Wood 1:13 PM  

Flim-flam, yes. FLAM, no, unless clued "Flim-____". But again, I'll give it a pass because the rest of the grid is so brilliant.

Robert Grady 1:21 PM  

Fra is short for frate which means brother or friar.

Frog Prince Kisser 1:22 PM  

@Escalator 10:28 AM

There were thirteen popes named Pope Innocent.

Taffy-Kun 1:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Re: @Wood at 12:59. "Fra" is short for the Italian "frate," friar or "brother," a title for a monk. Filippo Lippi was a monk, though not a very good one, if abstention from sex is a criterion. His son, Filippino Lippi (little Filippo, or little Philip; the mother was Lucrezia Buti) was a prominent painter also, with extant works all over the world. Filippino's Virgins are about a voluptuous as those of his father.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

oldactor 2:21 PM  

I loved the pic of Backus and the lovely Natalie Schafer. My favorite story from her was once, deep in her long career she went for an audition. She met a very young casting asst. whose first question was, "What have you done?" Her answer was, "You first".

For alateen think alanon.

Masked and Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Great long-ball stacks, tops & bottoms. 10 U's. Raised-by-wolves clues. Framed-in puzgrid design. TUT! -- well heck, there's yer rodeo. ThemelessthUmbsUp.

staff weeject pick: TUT. Far better clue: {King sporting an ankh accompanied by a questionable "amen"?}. Honrable mention to PEU, of course.

Agree with some of U smart commenter folks that three quote clues in a row for that upper long-ball stack might be over-doin it, just a smidge. Also, NUNHOOD is already a wolf-raised elite pup, without layin a question-mark clue on it, too boot.

Had the hesitations, puttin in SWOOPUP after I'd already UP-ed things up with SETUPS and SNUFFLEUP+, next-door. Also had PURE before POPE, so I can join the popular club of folks that did that. Suuuu … SE corner was a sorta nanosecond BONESPUR, on my solvequest.

Thanx for the primo SatPuzPac, Mr. White. Like @Aketi said, hard to beat SNUFFLEUPAGUS for topnotch fillins. [I see that it was yer intended seed entry, btw. Sweet.]

Masked & Anonymo10Us


OISK 2:31 PM  

Never watched Sesame Street, so had no chance. Had pure and snuffleuridus. Another DNF. Got lucky on alateen crossing chasse though. Win some, lose some recently.

DavidL 2:36 PM  

I started doing the puzzle in the app a few months ago, and something unexpected is happening. My Friday average is settling in well above my Saturday average. Anyone else observe this?

Maybe it's just the small sample size, but I am finding Fridays consistently harder than Saturdays.

In spite of numerous filling errors (nunnery instead of NUNHOOD??, wimp instead of WUSS, It's gone instead of ITSAHIT), today was record low time.

Don't like WIN SOME LOSE SOME as an answer. No one says it like that.

Unwiseowl 2:58 PM  

I liked it, I liked it a lot. The way those first three across entries stacked was very satisfying.
On track for my fastest Saturday by a long margin until I got stumped in the southwest. Ended up DNFing with CLAM in there (as in clam games) instead of FLAM, but now that I see it I guess SPF was probably gettable. As usual I assumed SPC was a Usonian brand and moved right on past in my error-checking.

Lynx 2:59 PM  

Scanning the comments, it seems I am the only one who did not know ALFA is an alternative spelling for the first letter in the NATO alphabet. I always thought the spelling was, "alpha".

OffTheGrid 3:17 PM  

Independent Grocers Alliance

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

That’s Jim Backus as Thurston Howell III (photo). Jim Nabors was Gomer Pyle.

Wood 6:18 PM  


Wood 6:21 PM  

Thanks for the explication!

Wood 6:26 PM  

I've noticed that Saturdays seem to be getting easier... Though my Friday average time is still below my Saturday. Don't know if I'm just getting better at xwords, or if the NYT is trying to make their puzzles more accessible, in a bid for revenue.

albatross shell 7:11 PM  

And it's Backus because that's who Rex put in first.

Proper cluing for NUNHOOD is Sistah gangsta.
Or Sister gangster, if you prefer.

Erik Andersson 8:33 PM  

Thankfully I wasn’t stint when it came to buying records in college: https://youtu.be/sQHw1GAmECk

CDilly52 9:45 PM  

Agree about TREASURE MAP. An actual map was more the key to the Librarian movies!

Eric Weber 3:38 AM  

I still don't understand why 29 Across "Calls to reserve" is "lets" - can anyone explain? What am I not getting? the L kept me from completing puzzle.

oopsydeb 10:03 AM  

@Eric Weber, 29 Across is about tennis. When you serve a let it does not count as a fault, but you do need to serve again (reserve).

@Nancy (9:34): It's been a long time since I've watched baseball, but IT'S A HIT was not commonly said back then and was certainly never cried. I suppose the only time I can imagine it being cried is if it looks like a pitcher is about to earn a no hitter when someone spoils it with a hit.

paul plotnick 11:54 AM  

Better than average puzzle for this oldster. Didn't like snarf or nunhood. Wait a minute - isn't that like priesthood?

CFG 11:32 PM  

I know I’m a day late, but I just have to second @Snuffy to say that for 40+ years I’ve been hearing and saying SNUFFLEUfAGUS — so what should have been a happy reminder of childhood in the puzzle instead made me feel troubled. How did this mistaken understanding persist for so long?

stwidgie 8:49 AM  

This was remarkably unsatisfying. Sighed over ITSY, ALFA (not ALPHA?), TWIN PAC. If KMARTS are popular, why are they closing everywhere? Really not crazy about NUNHOOD. IT'S A HIT sounds like something I would say if I were calling baseball, so that can't possibly be right. (Actually it would sound more like, "Why's everyone yelling? Oh, it must have been a hit.")
55D "Innocent, perhaps" gave me DUPE instead of POPE. Made me feel like a DWEEB or a WUSS. 26A my first thought was WATER...
On the other hand, there were some less common answers I should have enjoyed more: ALATEEN, ADAMANT, STINT

rondo 10:02 AM  

Dumb eenY before ITSY, afroS before FETES, PurE before POPE, SWOOPin before SWOOPUP and still finished in 2 Rexes. I’ll take that.

I’ve got a TWO dollar bill right here in my desk drawer.Gimme, Nickels wouldn’t fit. And I’ve been to Jefferson’s house.

KMARTS still exist?

I go back to ‘Walk on By’ and ‘Do Yo Know the Way to San Jose” for yeah baby DIONNE Warwick. Din’t realize the clued song came that much later. Where does the time go?

Coupla lucky guesses down south and I was home SCOTT free.

spacecraft 10:14 AM  

This is the first, and very probably the last, time I finish a Saturday in four Rexes flat. I don't know if it was my wheelhouse, exactly; I just felt "on," solving-wise. You get those days occasionally. Less and less often as we go, unfortunately.

Slammed down the north, with but a moment's glitch writing Wimp instead of WUSS. The south was just a little stickier; hand up for FRALIPPOLIPPI without the "hi-FI." Inkwise, it got to be a bit of a HOTMESS down there.

Some spotty fill {lookin' at you, FOTOS), and some nostalgia. "We're getting further and further away from KMART." (400 Oak Street, Columbus, Ohio). See, modern filmmakers? You CAN make a great movie without crashing cars and dropping bodies by the score.

I have imagined SIRI as a smashing DOD, but for all I know she's a dumpy matron with a pleasant voice. I'll take DIONNE Warwick, pleasant voice and ALL.

I wouldn't say I'm NUTSABOUT this one, but ITSAHIT for birdie.

Burma Shave 10:52 AM  


I’m NUTSABOUT OUR NABOR’s wife Maria –
the SETUP’s ABACK door perk.


leftcoastTAM 2:58 PM  

Living in the Pacific Northwest, not "waiting" for, but fearing, irruption of the Cascadian fault, which will be our BIGONE.

The puzzle? Big enough trouble in the South with the FRA and SNUFFLE what's-their-names.

rainforest 4:15 PM  

This puzzle was NOT A BAD IDEA throughout. No write-overs (I *almost* entered NUNnery, PurE, and eenY, but wisely waited for affirmation), and I found the puzzle medium.

Perhaps a matter of taste, but the top stack was most enjoyable and right on in my opinion, while the bottom stack was a little plebeian, except for the woolly Muppets guy/gal. Many delightful clues, especially for LETS, and great execution of a very entertaining Saturday.

FOTOS was the perfect answer for "pix", and with S-ARF I've learned from previous puzzles to wait to see if a "C" or "N" goes in there.

I agree that KMART is no longer popular, or even in existence up here in Canada, but when it was I bought my favourite pair of sandals there. Also the one I went to made excellent French fries.

My hybrid doesn't even HUM when I drive at or below the speed limit.

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