Picture section in old newspapers / SAT 5-11-19 / Children's author Ibbotson / Great Texas hold 'em hand informally / Field of study for TV physicist Sheldon Cooper

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Medium (7:34)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: EVA Ibbotson (32D: Children's author Ibbotson) —
Eva Maria Charlotte Michelle Ibbotson (née Wiesner), more commonly known as Eva Ibbotson (21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010) was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years.
For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists.
She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of four finalists for the same award in 2012. [...]
Critics have observed similarities between Ibbotson's "Platform 13" in The Secret of Platform 13 (1994) and J.K. Rowling's "Platform 9 3/4" in the Harry Potter books (from 1997), both located at King's Cross station in London. The journalist Amanda Craig has written about the similarities: "Ibbotson would seem to have at least as good a case for claiming plagiarism as the American author currently suing J. K. Rowling [Nancy Stouffer], but unlike her, Ibbotson says she would 'like to shake her [Rowling] by the hand. I think we all borrow from each other as writers'." (wikipedia)
• • •

I solved this just after four in the morning, having been asleep since nine-ish, and since I'm not really used to being awake at this hour, I have no way to gauge expected brain function. What I'm saying is I solved it in about seven and a half minutes and it felt slow, but that time is roughly normal for me, and I have no idea how any of this will compare to the average solving experience. This was more out-of-wheelhouse than I normally feel solving Robyn's puzzles—almost certainly the toughest puzzle of hers that I've done. But it was very doable; I just had a "guess this just isn't my day" day. I balked at a bunch of the short fill, which felt slightly retro in a bad way (see esp. ROTO (2D: Picture section in old newspapers), which I got easily, but only from having crashed and burned on it years ago; it's short for "rotogravure," which I know only from a song ... "you'll find that you're in the rotogravure" ... gah, why is my brain singing this to the tune of "Rocky Raccoon"!? ... OMG it's from "Easter Parade," from the movie of the same title, which I literally just watched for the first time this past Easter (i.e. a few weeks ago). Anyway, ROTO is SOSO, and ESSA ANI NCIS ... I think I'm just annoyed at the quantity of short answers, more than I am at their overall quality. And maybe the longer answers aren't splashy enough to compensate for the mass of ordinary short stuff. But the grid is quite solid, nonetheless, and a worthy Saturday challenge. A couple of highlights: that's a nice clue on STICK SHIFT (17A: Car owner's manual?), and "HE LOVES ME NOT" is a lovely phrase that tripped me up because I always expect the lovelorn petal-puller to be some sadsack dude (48A: Unlucky phrase to end on). Straight dude, that is. So my first thought was "SHE ... why doesn't SHE fit!?" And, yeah, the answer was pretty simple.

Five things:
  • 13D: Brand for the rest of the people? (SEALY) — Took me forever; I really think "of the people" is a phrase too far, since it has nothing to do with anything except making the clue sound like it's about something else. But I respect the "rest" pun.
  • 41D: URL ending (GOV) — this is one of those blind-guess answers that I really wish had a more specific clue
  • 59A: "Hmm ..." ("LET'S SEE NOW...") — Had the "LET," went with "LET ME THINK..."
  • 8D: Giraffe's sound? (SOFT G) — I've been seeing variations on this kind of clue forEver and still, still I did not get this one right away (answer refers to the first letter in "giraffe") (and while I'm explaining things, TRIPS is three-of-a-kind (1A: Great Texas hold 'em hand) ... ooh, but here's additional info I did not know, from pokernews dot com: "In hold’em and Omaha, “trips” is more often used to describe making three of a kind with one card in your hand and a pair on the board. Meanwhile having a pocket pair and making three of a kind with one card on the board is usually referred to as making a “set.”")
  • 15A: Menace following Captain Hook around, for short (CROC) — well clearly I do not know this story at all because I figured that if he's a captain, he'd be at sea—how is a CROC "following" anyone at sea? Anyway, I had him followed by an ORCA.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hungry Mother 5:37 AM  

Up early for a half marathon, so I had time to slog this one out. Some interesting answers and lots of fun overall.

Lewis 6:09 AM  

What a TREAT! A bounty of clues that are entertaining because of wordplay or devilish trickery. This has been Robyn's modus in her puzzlemaking, and, IMO, this kind of cluing is the key to making a puzzle a genuine joy to solve, creating ahas, smiles, proud moments, and even LOLs.

As I scan the grid, there are some outstanding long answers: STRING THEORY, HE LOVES ME NOT, EVIL GENUIS (the first two being NYT debuts), but overall, the answers are fairly plain. And yet, due to the care Robyn put in her cluing and her talent in that skill, this puzzle is a memorable standout, anything but plain. Clues that gave this puzzle spark, for me, were those for BONE, LAST PLACE, HE LOVES ME NOT, SCARECROWS, SOFT G, STICK SHIFT, TAT, TESLAS, and SEALY. Wow. Wow. And wow.

Another engaging winner from the divine Ms. R, and please keep them coming, Robyn!

@mericans in Paris 6:18 AM  

We loved this puzzle! So many crunchy words! CONTOUR MAP, DISPERSED SCARECROWS, SCHNITZEL, STRING THEORY! I was expecting some city, state, or small European country pairing at 5D and 37A, so chirped with glee when ST. KITTS and NEVIS revealed themselves.

Robyn Weintraub is an EVIL GENIUS for constructing such a challenging and clean puzzle. She didn’t even need any POCs (@Anoa Bob’s plurals of convenience). That’s pretty rare. My favorite clue was to 28A, “Abstract unit of exchange”. After we completed the puzzle, I asked Mrs. ‘mericans what she thought TAT (which we got from the downs) referred to, and of course she already knew: tit for TAT – i.e., the kind of retaliatory cycle that ensues when trading nations don’t want to SWAP goods because some very stable GENIUS wants to appear tough. (BTW, do ya think that Kim Jong Un is sitting in Pyongyang at this very moment, pulling legs off of cockroaches and muttering HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT?)

The puzzle seemed impossible to crack when we started, a real brain STRAIN. I was confident of CROC, but I didn’t start to get purchase until the deep south region. Had LET me think before LETS SEE NOW, “… Paper” before “… PLACE”, and “orthOgRaph” before CONTOUR MAP.

Nice to see STICK SHIFT in a puzzle. All our vehicles since 1987 have had manual transmissions, and we’ve never regretted it. Manual transmissions get 5-15% better fuel economy, are cheaper, and in our opinion are more fun to drive than ones with automatic transmissions. The ability to engine brake also saves on wear and tear on disks. Most private vehicles purchased in Europe have STICK SHIFTs.

Harryp 6:22 AM  

Of course I wanted Scallopini fir 6Down, which didn't help the solve early. Getting BORAT at 14Across helped clear the Northwest corner, CONTOUR MAP got the Northeast going, and altogether this worked out nicely. I love stacks, since they really fill in the puzzle more quickly, and so Scrabble and Cryto Quips are favorites of mine. The usual great job by Robyn Weintraub.

Amy 6:29 AM  

Got this done in about half my normal Saturday time and loved it. Probably because I threw down three of the long answers with no letters in, which made me not notice the more annoying shorter answers Rex mentioned. I guess that is the definition of being “in my wheelhouse” — didn’t feel old to me, and I am younger (barely!) than Rex! Thanks, Robyn!

BarbieBarbie 7:00 AM  

Huh, so LETSSEENOW has the same number of letters as LETmethink. Also had recaP for SUMUP. So that whole side of the puzzle was pretty blank for a while. Got it all eventually. Some of these clues were great. Good puzzle!

Pam 7:18 AM  

How did you miss Peter Pan Rex? Capt Hook was menaced indeed and lost his arm to the tick-ticking, clock swallowing CROC! From Surfline.com regarding saltwater CROCs in Costa Rica. “The man, identified as 59-year-old Jonathan Becker, was viciously mauled near Tamarindo while crossing an estuary during a morning surf session. Once at the hospital, he remained in critical condition after his leg was amputated.” Saltwater CROCs make alligators look wimpy.

QuasiMojo 7:34 AM  

Funnily enough I just had Schnitzel the other day. Delicious. Slightly tough for me today — the puzzle that is — since I have never heard of NCIS. I thought the TV show would be CSI something. Wasn’t there a show ONCE called SWAT? I also nearly DNF thanks to Meryl STEEP bottom right. I had WORN and then was sure the to and fro thing was SWAY. I see how SWAP is better. So if the G in Giraffe is SOFT what do you call a G in words like ”girondelle” or “genre”? Hey @JoeDiPinto, I saw your late comment about ROSEDALE Ave — where do you live now?

ghthree 7:55 AM  

Two observations:

1: Has Rex forgotten Captain Hook in J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" (AKA "Peter and Wendy)?
I seem to remember he correctly identified "SMEE" in a crossword a few weeks ago.
(I can't find the reference.)

2: 28 Across reminded me of a limerick (I think I read it in Playboy):

An Irish coal miner begat
Triplets, named Nat, Pat, and Tat.
'Twas fun in the breeding.
But not in the feeding.
When they found there was no tit for Tat!

J Tull 7:59 AM  

I've been working on Italian as a second language for a long time. I don't think I have ever come across ESSA in my studies or in conversation. Turns out it is archaic/regional and rarely used. Sheesh.

Speedweeder 8:05 AM  

@mericans 6:18 - Regarding the fuel economy advantage of manual transmissions, Edmunds cites this as a myth:

"In the past it was pretty much a given that vehicles with manual transmissions would be more fuel-efficient than their automatic counterparts. But as automatics become more advanced and gain additional gears (eight-speed transmissions are fairly easy to find), they are often now overtaking manuals in terms of fuel economy."

These days I think the most valid reason to have a manual transmission is because they are more fun to drive. Also, if your battery is dead, you can push the downhill and pop the clutch to start it.

Birchbark 8:09 AM  

I thought Captain Hook might be followed around by a pair of dark waterspouts, writhing in the distance but always there. Always: sinister counterparts of the red balloon in "Good Night Gorilla." But with just four letters to work with and OCTETS providing a C ending, CROC 'twas.

INNER PEACE hit me like a LUTE over the head.

And a PEA to go with the SEALY.

GILL I. 8:21 AM  

Fiendish cluing. Robyn threw me off the horse so many times. Managed to get up off the ground and soldier on.
Where to start....To begin, I loved this puzzle. The 7 minutes it took @Rex to finish took me three times as long to even get started. My first (tentative) answer was STICK SHIFT. (Smile) Memories of flying around Spain in Mom's Seat 600. Then my other long answer was POST IT NOTE (Another smile). My secretary posting them all over my desk to remind me of things I always forgot. And so it went...dribs and drabs, here and there. Most everything here was a big fat guess. Didn't know Sheldon Cooper; had THEORY but his STRING took forever. CONTOUR MAP was a total unknown. First Google.
Moved to the middle. TEA for 25A was another smile. Elevenses in our house was always a Bloody Mary.
Got to 46A and thought POR si las moscas, can it be POR without the ?. que as clued with the accent on the "e" means why. You needed that? (front and back) in your clue.
Loved HE LOVES ME NOT. Fourth smile. I always seemed to get that last petal on the daisy. My cheats as a child was to count them first.
Can you get any better with your cluing for SCARE CROWS? SACRe bleu. good one, Robyn.
This was a bonbon of a puzzle. It gave me Ataraxia. I bet if I use that word today, my friends would think I was in some sort of anguish. Hah!
@jae. Thanks for the recommendation last night. The only one I'm familiar with is "Schitts Creek." It's kinda like Green Acres but a lot funnier. I don't watch any sitcoms on the major networks because they are truly awful. This one is darn funny. I'll check the others. :-)

Z 8:26 AM  

What @Lewis said about the cluing. I did wonder as I chortled about getting the “manual” clue how that would play for the young’uns. Seems to me the manual transmission has been replaced in the U.S. by high tech gadgetry and computerized engine performance (@‘mericans - I don’t think that fuel performance data is accurate anymore). How many cars are bought these days with a STICK SHIFT? Not many.

This was on the easy side for me (16:30), and actually felt Wednesdayish as I breezed through the NE. Not really knowing poker lingo and taking too long to get POST-IT NOTE slowed me down in the west. Seeing “Gal” as a name gave me the anchor in the SW I needed, quickly assisted by the LFC* RONDO. I didn’t fall for Berry, either, so I had the H in place when I realized we were plucking petals from flowers. Once I had those anchors the SW fell, getting me into the SE. Finished by going back to the NW, fixing eRIS, then remembering TRIPS was a poker term for three-of-a-kind. The R in ROTO was my last letter in.

Natick of the day has to be EVA/NEVIS. Fortunately for me EVA seems the most reasonable author’s name and NEVIS is another LFC. But if you don’t know, EdA seems a reasonable guess for a Saturday puzzle, ElA isn’t out of the question, and you just know someone didn’t like double letters and have daughters named EtA and EmA. I am not going to be surprised if someone today kvetches about that crossing.

*Learned From Crosswords

Teedmn 8:41 AM  

Since Friday was so easy, I was expecting a toughie today but not so. I do wish they hadn't put the ? in the clue for 8D. With that, I figured out the SOFT G and it helped launch my solve, along with ORION.

Other than the endless NCIS, CSIs, etc. that I fooled around with in the NE, there were few holdups. Some good answers like LAST PLACE clued as "Rough finish" and the clue for HE LOVES ME NOT made this a pleasure, as Robyn's puzzles always are. EVIL GENIUS was fun to see.

SCARECROWS as stuffed shirts - only in the classic SCARECROW style. Every year at the MN State Fair, they have a SCARECROW design contest, with categories of youth, senior and everybody else. The variety of materials used and the themes, often political, that people come up with makes that display a must-see for me every year.

Thanks, Robyn, for an enjoyable Saturday.

puzzlehoarder 9:06 AM  

Much too easy for a Saturday. This would have been easy for a Friday. I expected as much because of this constructors' previous late week puzzles. They're consistently charming but much too user friendly. This one seemed especially eager to give itself away. Most of the clues didn't so much telegraph their entries as drop them in your lap by drone.

The one part that felt Saturday level was the NEVIS/EVA crossing. Today's EVA is a debut entry per it's clue. With a name that makes a big difference. Luckily when I came back to it the V popped up without running the alphabet. NEVIS must be just familiar enough to me that it finally clicked.

My time was 21:14. I'm not a fast solver but that time is what's currently my easy range for a late week puzzle. By contrast yesterday's solve was over 39 minutes. One big difference was I took my night time pain pills after solving last night instead of before like I did for Friday's puzzle. Twenty mgs of hydrocodone takes the edge off the pain but it also takes the edge off of you. Other than getting to sleep my new knee is doing fine.

This was not a bad puzzle I just hope for more resistance from a Saturday.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Similar limerick in the film “SHOOT ‘EM UP” recited by Paul Giamatti.

kitshef 9:09 AM  

Very, very, easy Saturday. It’s rare that a Saturday is basically just read-and-fill, but this was. Great fill, but tougher cluing needed.

Wondering if @Anoa Bob would consider SACRA a POI (Plural of Inconvenience)? Instead of giving an extra ‘unearned’ letter by pluralizing, it loses a letter.

Unknown 9:13 AM  

ERIS instead of IRIS led to TREYS instead of TRIPS, which would have worked except for YACTS where PACTS should be. Turns out that ERIS is the goddess of strife and discord, not rainbows.

Suzie Q 9:20 AM  

Not as difficult as I wanted for my Saturday puzzle but when it is so fun to solve I can easily forgive and just enjoy the ride.
I have been told I make a great schnitzel but when an Austrian told me it was even better than her mother's I knew I had it right.

pabloinnh 9:22 AM  

Lost some precious full seconds (M&A credit needed) with SCALLOPINI and RECAP but after straightening those out things proceeded apace, and with many smiley face moments.

Slight quibble with ___QUE as clued. The accent mark means you're asking a question, so there should be a question mark. Actually, there should be an upside down question mark to start with also. My question was always, if the curvy part of the question mark should be at the bottom, as it is in a Spanish question, is it really upside down? I'd say it's right side up. This is the kind of language question that used to interest, oh, 5% of my students.

Great Saturday RW. Well done you.

Runs with Scissors 9:22 AM  

Oh. Man.

NW killed me, no traction whatsoever starting with ERIS, so I moved to the NE. Slowly made my way through the grid, liking just about all of it. CONTOUR MAP! HE LOVES ME NOT! OVERSIZED SCARECROWS!! EVIL GENIUS AERIALISTS with DYED BLING in their TOMB!!!!

ST KITTS and NEVIS took a few minutes to suss out, but it wasn’t bad since I knew them both. Just needed a few crosses.

I’ve never heard of nor seen Sheldon Cooper but with SCHNITZEL, ORION, SOFT G and OCTETS it was obviously STRING THEORY. Sheldon Brown is known to me; would be floored if he showed up in a puzz.

1A brought to mind that Stephen King masterpiece, The Stand. Captain Trips was a wicked twist and an apt way to dance on the world’s grave. Get your flu shots, people.

ROTO – apparently short for rotogravure – was devilish. After the fact, it sorta made sense since I’d known of rotoscoping. But ho lee cow, it just wasn’t making an appearance even running the alphabet.

And then I realized that it wasn’t ANNE vs SEELY, after all.

To SUM UP: The SCHNITZEL was tasty; I’d leave a POST IT NOTE for those in LAST PLACE that INNER PEACE may be achieved on a SEALY.

Great puzzle, made me fight for the win. Once again, zero dreck.

DOD (someone will have to tell me what that actually stands for – Diva of the Day?) HALLE Berry rocks!!

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

Nancy 9:25 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing, with wonderful clues and much thinking required. I got a bit cross with the superhero gal and the Star Wars name in the same section of the grid, but they were gettable and so I forgave it.

My one big writeover was STRIPE before STRAIN (18D) as in "a horse of a different stripe". But there is no neighbor of ST KITTS that begins EE---, so I was able to correct.

My biggest coup was in guessing TRIPS (1A) at the outset, even though I've only heard the hand described as three-of-a-kind.

What great clues for SCARECROWS (53A); PEA (58D); LISP (57A); SEALY (13D); SCENE (49D); HE LOVES ME NOT (48A) and TAT (28A). (The fact that I had TIT instead of TAT is what gave me STRIPE before STRAIN.) The short fill was clued just as cleverly and as deviously as the long fill. No LAST PLACE for you, Robyn

@mericans in Paris 9:33 AM  

@speedweeder at 06:18 -- Trues, one can find automatic transmissions with more gears, but you pay for it up front. Note that the cars with the super-duper automatic transmissions are often the high-end ones, like the Buick Regal or Cadillac. Also, the article mainly takes about models sold in the United States, where the market for manual transmissions has almost disappeared. In Europe (and I suspect many other parts of the world), where manual transmissions are still the preferred option, there has been a innovation on those, too. Six-gear (forward) transmissions are now common.

Moreover, Consumer Reports still rules in favor of manuals from an initial purchase price and fuel cost perspective.

Phil 9:44 AM  

Well a truly great holdem hand is QUADS. a set is better than trips because it is hidden from your ops as Rex explains.

Anyway this made me take out BORAT thinking of the prescription abbrs starting with Q
Then couldn't get sticky notes unstuck from my brain and dislodge the real brand name. One of tOse 'how could I not remember POSTITNOTES’

David 9:52 AM  

Lots of good stuff here, much of it hard for me. Cheated on two (St Kitts/Nevis), so DNF. It's nice to see a clue which most people would associate with a Disney movie that's actually also a reference to the original story. (Those seven dwarfs have no names, there's no Abu in Aladdin, etc.)

@Z, You're pretty right about the young'uns, at least in America. Mom not only taught us on manuals, she taught us how to shift without using the clutch. I think automatic transmissions, soft suspensions, and cruise control are the cause of most accidents and traffic jams. They all allow one to take their mind off the job at hand, which is driving. Last time I bought a car, finding a stick shift was a chore. I was pleasantly surprised when we rented from a local outfit in Austria (rather than Hertz or Avis) and the car they brought down the ramp to us was manual; they didn't even ask, it's just what they rented and expected people to drive.

Let me think before Let's see now. Took forever to parse He loves me not even when I had a majority of the letters; just couldn't see it. Wanted 11D to be cartography, great huge misdirect on 13D

How can you not like a puzzle which references both Sheldon Cooper and Wonder Woman?

Also glad to see the puzzle is still resisting those who think it should adopt an Official Language.

Gruffed 9:57 AM  

Great puzzle, fun solve. A few random words at first, then some traction, and a whole bunch of clever clues and aha moments to keep you smiling. I'm sure I enjoyed my 30:05 minutes more than Rex did his 7:34 with that ticking clock over his shoulder. Thank you, Robyn!

Lynx 10:00 AM  

Apparently I am culturally illiterate, did not know MIRO / GADOT / RONDO. Will spend my weekend at the art museum, theater and symphony.

webwinger 10:10 AM  

Like everyone else, it seems, I found a lot to like in this relatively easy Saturday. Thought I might finish without googling (for an unprecedented unassisted Friday-Saturday solve sequence), but had no idea about EVA, which I needed for NEVIS, which I needed for ST KITTS (not up to speed on my Caribbean island names). Delighted by many great clue/answer combos noted by others.

Surprised no one has noted re the SOFT G that giraffes don’t vocalize sounds (at least not in a way that humans can hear), so the clue was doubly clever. Had enough of HE LOVES ME NOT from crosses that I didn’t even register the atypical gendering. @Rex’s dissing of a “sadsack straight (forgot to mention white!) dude” was reassuring evidence that he’s still the same guy despite a couple days of positive and relatively apolitical write-ups. Can’t wait to use newly learned ataraxia in conversation…only prior connection in my mind was to the drug name Atarax, a second string “calmative”. (Though apparently a real word, that one always calls to mind the old “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” TV classic.)

STICK SHIFT brought back many memories—mastered it at age 18 operating light trucks for my father’s business, and my uncle’s old Volvo on the hills of San Francisco, both pretty traumatizing but ultimately leading to great satisfaction. My daughter, on the other hand, can’t understand why we don’t yet have a car that parallel parks itself. Recently decided that the next vehicle I purchase will be self-driving, hopefully to eliminate that awful day of senior reckoning…

Carola 10:25 AM  

The toughness that some of you missed is over here at my house. I found the puzzle nicely challenging and enjoyed the slow unveiling of the terrific entires, SUMmed UP by others above. I liked STICK over POST-IT NOTES, No idea: TRIPS; thankfully, I knew about ROTOgravures, or that square might have undone me. Do-over: swEeT before TREAT.

@J Tull, the only place I encounter ESSA is in opera libretti.

@puzzlehoarder, I'm glad to hear you're mending well.

Ellen S 10:56 AM  

Saturday is when I usually crash and burn, and I flew through this, so I considered it too easy for a Saturday. However, I did love the cute punny misdirects of so many clues. And I have to confess to a DNF, but not because of the difficulty of the clue or answer; my brain was just done, I guess. I had STEnP for 65A, having put in WORn out for the cross. I just couldn’t see what was wrong. Or rather, what the right answer could be. I kept thinking the “P” must be the wrong answer, and didn’t look at the preceding letter. Because, you know, I just knew “WORn” was correct. Oh, well.

My only other problem was at the very start ofthe puzzle, in the diagonally opposite corner, 1D. What kind of prescriptions are measured in Tablespoons? Even my generic (and not prescription) Pepto-Bismol, whose dose is a great honking 30 ml, is ... ml. Not 2 TBSP.

Other than being disappointed at being able to solve (almost all) of it, with no googling and nearly no checking for errors, I had a lot of fun with this puzzle. Thank you Ms. Weintraub!

Hack mechanic 11:02 AM  

You can push start automatics that have a rear pump, just saying

Phil I. Stine 11:08 AM  

Pretty much all of the knowledge of opera I have comes from crosswords and cartoons. I’m not proud of that.

70 in nampa 11:09 AM  

For your dining and dancing pleasure...
"Never smile at a crocodile"

jberg 11:13 AM  

Yeah, lots of fun. Took me a bit longer because of all the misdirection, staring with the obvious mean for 6A; but that wouldn't work with osso bucco at 6D, so I switched to SOSO and SCalopini. Maybe because we leave for Italy on Monday, I was thinking Italian all the way -- so even when OVERSIZED had to be right, it took me a long time to see SCHNITZEL.

I've always preferred a STICK SHIFT, and my wife refuses to buy anything else, so we're a little worried how long our 2010 Subaru will last, as it may be hard to find an acceptable replacement.

@'mericans, well, there are at least two POCs, OCTETS and SCARECROWS. That's low, though. Oh wait, AERIALISTS, TESLAS, TRIPS (or is that singular?). Ah well. I can't say they bothered me.

Happy Mother's Day weekend to you mothers out there.

jae 11:23 AM  

Easier than yesterday’s. Very smooth and solid, liked it.

RooMonster 11:24 AM  

Hey All !
No cheats, no Checks, no wrongness! Woo Hoo! I see y'all found puz easy, but I'm still taking it as a win. :-)

TRIPS was originally TWO A'S, as in two aces, figuring clue meant the two cards in your hand. Tried Hold 'em a few times, found out cards hate me! Also having WORn for WORE, but not seeing as how SWAP could be wrong, but STEnP definitely wrong, finally revisited that section and found my error. SACRA bleu!

Took me reading Rex to get SEALY clue. Clever. Had STK___S, and magically ST KITTS popped into the ole brain. Then put in NEVIS off _E_IS, figuring I had heard that somewhere. That particular arrangement of letters had me thinking of another word. I'll let you figure it out!

I have three STICK SHIFT cars. They are fun in a way, but as I get older, shifting gears starts to become a pain in the ass. People say STICK SHIFTs are faster for racing, but in my mind an Automatic would be better, as you don't lose time shifting. Regardless, never put it to the test.

For 2D and 16A, wanted something to do with obit (ad in obituary). Not sure why the ole brain went there. It's the LAST PLACE I want to be. (Ironically, it IS the LASt PLACE you'll be.) Sorry for the morbidity.

ANI, clued as either a bird, a vowel buy, or young Skywalker. Probably one (or two) I'm missing.

My PROCESS for finding said word, was PROCEde, PROCEed, PROCESS. TAT went in after a chuckle of it could be TIT or TAT, but I already had the I of the word below, so two I's didn't seem plausible. Isee-IMAY.


Anonymous 11:30 AM  

loved the clues for stick shift, scarecrow, and he loves me not. good to see gal gadot in the puzzle. anywhere, actually. fair and balanced for a saturday. the puzzle, that is.

re: manual vs automatic. i rented a car in brasil and the rental agent asked if i knew how to drive an automatic. last jan/feb i went to chile, rented a car, and drove the carretera austral in a peugeot 500S suv. worst design ever. it had an automatic transmission that must have been designed by some people who had never driven an automatic. the car was diesel, though, and got great mileage. diesel fuel is about 20% cheaper than gasoline in chile.


Wood 11:40 AM  

Yeah, I thought WORE out was a stretch as clued. Maybe "Plum ____ out" would have telegraphed the non-standard usage.

Z 11:46 AM  

@jberg - “TRIPS (or is that singular?)...” Hmm... TRIPS, twins, triplets, ...collective nouns in general are problematic. Rule of thumb, when the Wikipedia section has two or more four syllable words in the title the issue is problematic.

Georgia 12:03 PM  

My 3 year old proved smarter than I when he pointed to the picture of Captain Hook in his "Peter Pan" book and asked "What was his name before he lost his hand?"

@americans in Paris 12:20 PM  

@jberg at 11:13 AM -- OK, I realize that I should have said, according to Anja Bob's classification system, that no Level 2 or Level 4 POCs were used. Level 2 POCS have an "S" in a place where a black (cheater) square would work equally well. TESLAS may be a Level 1 POC, but that ending S is critical for SEED. By the way, can anybody remember a puzzle that doesn't contain any (Level 1 POC) plurals?

@anonymous at 11:30 AM -- Funny story about your experience in Chile! Peugots are to French cars what Fords used to me to other American brands. ("Buy a Ford, buy the best, / Drive a mile, walk the rest!") When we visited Buenos Aires three years ago, we learned that the locals pronounce them as "Peu-shots"!

One more observation on different types of transmissions. I suspect that at least some of the manufacturers in the United States offer them in order to be able to advertise that model of vehicle at a slightly lower price -- "But the new GM Battleship! Prices start at $15,999!" -- and then engage in the usual bait-and-switch pitch about how hard it will be to resell a vehicle with a manual transmission. In that kind of market, I doubt the companies put much effort into improving those types of transmissions.

Three and out!

Tita 12:21 PM  

@all the 4-on-floor fans... Me too! Learned on a VW Beetle, then adopted my sister's Fiat 850 Spider. 6th a car, a luxurious 6-speed Mini Cooper, are my current wheels.
Yes, mileage and cost are nice, but it's the sheer fun that keeps me driving sticks.

Anyone ever drive that Renault 4 with the umbrella shifter sticking out from the dash?

@David... Wow... Your mom taught you to double-clutch? I've never been confident enough to try.

@Ghthree... Thx for the limerick!
I had bIT, as in Bitcoin for a while.
That along with @Nancy's STRipe made that section the last to fall.

University of NH publishes USGS CONTOURMAPS from the 1890's to the 50's.
The one for my area was done before the dam was built. You can see clear as day the outline of the lake that formed.

@puzzlehoarder... Glad to hear the recovery is coming along.

@robyn... Fantastic puzzle, for all the above reasons... Thank you!

jb129 12:23 PM  

I love Robyn's puzzles & can usually get into her head, but not today. Oh well....

Anoa Bob 12:34 PM  

Sometimes a single entry will win me over and the rest of the puzzle can do no wrong. Today it was INNER PEACE, for me the sine qua non for happiness.

@americans I noticed the moderate use of POCs in today's offering. There were some, e.g., AERIALISTS, SCARECROWS, and a few others, but all-in-all, exemplary restraint in their use to fill the grid.

I think POCs are like other grid fill devices of convenience, such as partials, crosswordese, random Roman numerals, random Popes, etc. Used judiciously to aid the fill of an otherwise excellent puzzle, they are above reproach. It's when any of these devices are used excessively that they become, for me, a major demerit for the puzzle's overall quality. A grid can become POC assisted, or in the worst case, POC marked!

And then along comes @kitshef and throws me a curve ball. What about a plural of convenience where the letter-count, and its grid-fill power, is reduced rather than boosted. Gaaaah! So much for my INNER PEACE!

@pabloinnh, my immediate thought upon seeing "___ qué" was where are the question marks? ¿POR qué?

Joe Dipinto 12:48 PM  

I always expect the lovelorn petal-puller to be some sadsack dude...Straight dude, that is.

No self-proclaimed straight dude would be caught dead strolling wistfully through a field pulling petals off daisies.

Got started on a cheerful note with TOMB. Then MIRÓ, RONDO, and the rest of the SW. The east side took me longer than the west.

I started wondering "just who the heck was St. Kitts anyway?" So I looked it up -- the official name of the island is St. Christopher. Whaddaya know? Him I've heard of.

I also thought scaloppine for the veal dish, as well as tonnato -- veal with tuna sauce, which looks like vomit-on-a-plate but is actually quite good -- but neither fit, so...schnitzel! Of course.

I like the clue for SEALY. The puzzle felt very balanced and fun. Good job, except for that movie.

@QuasiMojo, if you're here -- I posted very late yesterday so you may not have seen it, but thanks for remembering Rosedale Avenue!

Fred Romagnolo 1:18 PM  

Eris was the goddess who threw the golden apple, thus precipitating the Trojan war; quite a different sort from Iris. I'm still driving a '92 Suzuki Sidekick with a 4 forward stick, and like it. @wood:"She wore out her welcome."

What? 1:26 PM  

Most automatics allow downshifting but saving wear on the brake pads increases engine wear (and increases gas usage). Question - which is cheaper, replacing brake pads or an engine overhaul?

What? 1:28 PM  

Took some time but finished with zero errors. And so a great puzzle. Love the misdirections.

BarbieBarbie 1:32 PM  

Forgot to say, if @LMS is listening, happy Teacher Appreciation Week! We do.

Speedweeder 1:49 PM  

@mericans 9:33 - I'm willing to concede the point, but I'm not willing to put my coffee cup down to shift gears.

Joe Dipinto 1:57 PM  

@QuasiMojo -- somehow I missed your earlier post. I'm a Brooklynite now, but I grew up in Queens in the area currently called Auburndale (back then it was just part of Flushing). I know Queens geography quite well.

Tita 2:24 PM  

Sideways synchronicity... watching American Experience on AERIALIST Amelia Earhart. Learned about TAT... Transcontinental Air Transport, the first cross-country airline.
Now there's a gal who's a super hero.

QuasiMojo 2:42 PM  

@JoeDiPinto, good to know. I can still hear the conductors shouting out “Aw-burn-dale” on the LIRR in that inimitable accent of theirs.

Masked and Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Tough but fair SatPuz. [Except for status quo ANTE.]

Had trouble gettin in, but ironically (yo, @RP) CROC started my solvequest up. I think the CROC ticked, so Capt. Hook knew when it was around. Maybe it swallowed a clock/watch, along with Hook's hand? Illogical -- who winds that clock? Was this a Neverland neverwind watch?
BTW, @RP: As I recall, the Hookmeister's boat was in port during most of the story, so CROCs could plausibly be nearby.

staff weeject pick: GOV. As in: runtpuz.gov. We don't honor them Congressional subpoenas either, btw.

Great STICKSHIFT clue, too boot.

Thanx for the many many nanoseconds of precious puzfun, Ms. Weintraub darlin.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Barry Frain 3:04 PM  

Try renting a car in Grand Fenwick . . .

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

albatross shell 3:34 PM  

I was amused to to discover the TIT over the TAT. posTITnotes. Unfortunately it was in the part of the I dnf until googling to get NEVUS and STKITTS, neither of which I knew.
That gave me TAT and STRAIN to finish the DNF.
Started in the NE. Got the eastern third and progress stalled until I got enough to get the AERIALIST LOVESMENOT cross. Then moved quickly until the NW failure.

I wasn't sure that bad luck was involved in the flower petal picking. I thought most flowers of the daisy composite ilk had even numbers of petals. I googled and -surprise- most are of the opinion that odd is more common- meaning you are loved. The Fibonacci enthusiasts tell you you are loved at 13 and 21 but not at 34 petals. Nobody seems to have done serious research on whether flowers actually comply with the theory.
Good puzzle, excellent cluing. ROTO made no sense to me. ANTE was also a mystery. Both filled in. SOFTG type answers I get but seldom quickly. Gotta remember shit like that. Costs me minutes not seconds.

Petsounds 4:12 PM  

A wonderful puzzle, with answers that made me chuckle all the way through! Being a woman of a certain age and a former journalist, I got ROTO immediately--the first answer I entered. The SOFT G threw me, which is embarrassing, and I "got" it only because I got all of the across answers. Overall, I found the long answers much easier than a lot of the short fill.

The major kudos go to STICK SHIFT. Absolutely loved that clue/answer!

kitshef 4:33 PM  

Fun fact: Alexander Hamilton was born in NEVIS.

Unknown 5:01 PM  

It’s always funny to see how a particular puzzle’s difficulty is perceived. For me, the Saturday puzzle usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. This one I finished in just under 10, easily a record. Can’t say why, but everything just clicked. Honestly, it felt more like a mid-week offering than a Saturday challenger. Anyway, I’m sure that my unsolicited boastfulness will be appropriately punished by the crossword gods next Saturday.

DigitalDan 5:16 PM  

ORCA for CROC only goes to prove that, unlike Peter Pan, Rex grew up too fast.

Matty D 7:33 PM  

Dude, how often do we have to hear about the NRA and nothing about the Big Bang Theory? At least NRA helps fill out a grid... BBT it's mysoginist garbage. Try 10:50 or 15:20 of this video.

Nancy 10:31 PM  

@Georgia (12:03) -- What an original and inspired question! That is one smart child!!!

@ghthree (7:55) -- Love the limerick.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

I don't like the answer for 21A "Emergency contact form abbreviation" - the fill is "TEL" but most of us with cell phones know you always store your emergency contact info under "ICE" ("In Case of Emergency"). So I thought that was a weak clue.

Hack mechanic 10:03 AM  

So why do trucks have Jake brakes?

RONDO 10:23 AM  

Hey, I finally made a puz; RONDO is a perfectly good musical term that doesn’t show up often enough. This took less than 3 Rexes, so pretty quick for me.

I dislike answers like SOFTG, but should be used to them by now.

CONTOURMAPS are still quite important in engineering, even with all the 3D stuff you can do on a computer.

HALLE Berry got paid like an extra half-mil when she BARED it all in Swordfish. Yeah baby.

If IMAY SUMUP, good puz.

Burma Shave 11:01 AM  


the EVILGENIUS will SUMUP his query:
“Where’s the LASTPLACE that Gal GADOT


spacecraft 12:28 PM  

Because that famous "Gal," GADOT, was my way into this grid, I'll make her DOD, though HALLE is right there, one helluva runner-up. After SW, things slowed down. Wanted OVERSIZED, but tried too long to fit Scallopini in for the veal dish. I think of SCHNITZEL with a "wiener-" prefix, but OK.

Two things I "don't like but should be used to by now," per @RONDO: the SOFTG thing, plus clues that reference each other (5d, 37a) so that you MUST get one by crosses before making any headway. That said, this IS Friday, after all. Not supposed to be a pushover.

Brand new clue for ANTE--perhaps so as not to create a mini-theme with TRIPS? Which, BTW, is a "great hand" unless somebody else has a pat hand. Oh, and speaking of pat, loved the limerick, @ghthree! If you missed it, folks, it's near the top of the comment list. It's worth the scroll.

Eventually got everything. The LASTPLACE I went was the SE, the toughest for me. When I finally grokked SCARECROWS, I thought, well of course, duh, perfectly clued. Why did that take so long?

Triumph points fairly high; fill within tolerable limits. A U.S. Open birdie.

Diana,LIW 3:03 PM  

O man...I got stuck in the SE for-eh-vah! But then I used a technique I learned at ACPT - spell out a down answer across on the newspaper - and I instantly saw SCENE, giving me the key to the rest. Hooray!

Of course, yes, I had already cheated on some of the words/names I didn't know. NEVIS - really? Not to mention the poker hand and Greek goddess - always my downfalls.

Fun for Saturday. Off to the gym now.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, aka Lady Di

leftcoast 3:38 PM  

Started celebrating prematurely on "finishing" this very fine Saturday puzzle.

Wanted dEnIS before NEVIS and unfortunately stuck with it. Have you ever heard of ST. KaTTS? Worst of all, got the NOTE stuck in the POSTal office, even with POST IT staring me in the face!

Liked virtually all the long across and down clues and answers from STICK SHIFT to LETS SEE NOW, and from INNER PEACE to EVIL GENIUS. Really nice work.

Was cheered up a bit by Gal GADOT, HALLE Berry, and Deborah Kerr's ANNA. Oh, and should mention the Princess who couldn't sleep because of the PEA beneath all those SEALY mattresses.

Enough. I have BARED it all.

Wooody2004 5:28 PM  

EVA Gabor could be DOD (whatever that means).

LFB* : A shark bit off Captain Hook’s arm.

Even though I am always in LASTPLACE on this blog, I thought I’d ask a question that I can’t find in the FAQ. What is a “partial”?¿? Is IMAY a partial? Is POR a partial? It’s part of a phrase. Is LETSSEENOW a full-ial? It’s a full phrase.

*Learned from blog.

rondo 7:24 PM  

@Woody - IMAY can stand alone, so no partial there. IF the clue was 'Give me ____', ABREAK would be a partial.

spacecraft 8:33 PM  

@Woody: Damsel Of the Day. Equivalent to @RONDO's "yeah baby." What can I say, we are hopeless voyeurs.

Wooody2004 10:01 PM  

@Spacecraft Thank you. I was asking for someone in futureland

@Rondo Thank you although I’m still a little unclear

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