Tarot card that bears numeral XIII / SAT 5-25-19 / Top of Pacific island chain / City sobriquet for New Haven / Hebrew scripture commentary

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (6:21)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Howard ASHMAN (54A: "The Little Mermaid" lyricist Howard) —
Howard Elliott Ashman (May 17, 1950 – March 14, 1991) was an American playwright and lyricist. He collaborated with Alan Menken on several works and is most widely known for several animated feature films for Disney, for which Ashman wrote the lyrics and Menken composed the music. Ashman and Menken began their collaboration with the musical God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1979), for which Ashman directed and wrote both book and lyrics. Their next musical, Little Shop of Horrors (1982) for which Ashman again directed and wrote both book and lyrics, became a long-running success and led to a 1986 feature film. The partnership's first Disney film was The Little Mermaid (1989), followed by Beauty and the Beast (1991). After his death, some of Ashman's songs were included in another Disney film, Aladdin (1992). [...] On the night of the 62nd Academy Awards, Ashman told Menken that they needed to talk when they got back to New York, where he revealed to Menken that he was HIV positive. He had been diagnosed in 1988, midway through the making of The Little Mermaid. During the making of Beauty and the Beast, the Disney animators were flown to work with Ashman at his home in Fishkill, New York. There they discovered that he was seriously ill. He grew weaker but he remained productive and continued to write songs. After the first screening for Beauty and the Beast on March 10, 1991, the animators visited Ashman in the hospital. He weighed 80 pounds, had lost his sight, and could barely speak. The animators and producer Don Hahn told him that the film was incredibly well received by the press. On the early morning of March 14, Ashman, age 40, died from complications from AIDS, in New York City. Beauty and the Beast is dedicated "To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman 1950–1991." Ashman was survived by his partner Bill Lauch, his sister Sarah Ashman-Gillespie, and his mother Shirley Thelma Glass. He is buried in Oheb Shalom Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well this was probably my least favorite Paolo Pasco puzzle ever, and I really liked it—just to give you some sense of how far beyond most constructors this kid is (he's my daughter's age, I get to call him "kid"). ONALEASH was a little wobbly and RATA and ENE, bleh, and who the hell says "DASH IT!" and I just personally hate the phrase "drop TROU" (not the puzzle's fault, exactly) and I have never seen GLADHAND (57A: Insincere welcome) as a noun (as a verb, yes, and GLADHANDer, yes), and ASHMAN strikes me as pretty obscure (only his second appearance of the millennium, and the center stack, though very solid, is not exactly scintillating, and (saving worst for last) ILIADS, plural, dear lord no, the dictionary has betrayed you! (34D: Epic narratives). OK, so on one side there's all that, but on the other side, everything else was delightful and current and smooth and occasionally EDGY, drawing from all over the knowledge spectrum, and some of the clues were so great (don't know if they were Paolo's or the editor's, and I don't care—just glad they made their way to me). Stupid fun clue on DELIS (20A: Establishments whose products might be described by this answer + H), interesting and original clue on NON (56D: Prefix with binary), and great deception all over, including [Push-ups, e.g.] for LINGERIE and [Off in biblical lands?] for SMITE. Honestly, this thing had me at CHRISTIAN MINGLE (8D: Website relative of JDate)—finally, a reason for having suffered through those TV ads so many times. What show was I even watching when the CHRISTIAN MINGLE onslaught happened? I don't remember. But this payoff is sweet.

I was cruising—absolutely shredding this thing in the NW and then down through CHRISTIAN MINGLE—but those three central Acrosses just wouldn't budge. I had the vast majority of all of them filled in before even one of them fell. I'm embarrassed that HAWAIIANSHIRT took so long (33A: Top of a Pacific island chain), but CATE BLANCHETT ... I'm not even sure what movie she won the Oscar for (36A: Only person to win an Oscar for playing an Oscar-winning actress). I thought she won for "Blue Jasmine"? She played an Oscar-winning actress in that? I never saw it. Whoops, nope, she played Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator," and won Best Supporting Actress for that (she won plain old Best Actress for "Blue Jasmine"). Well, at least I know this trivia for future use now. As for MICHELIN GUIDE, I had considered at least two other kinds of "stars" for the frame of reference (movie, outer space), but neither one was any help (37A: Book of stars?). I didn't get hung up, but I definitely had to labor my way through the middle. And finally the SW was really threatening to sink me for a bit. MIDRASH / MIDROSH??? Couldn't decide, and that vowel is the first letter in ASHMAN, which I didn't know at all. In the end, OSHMAN seemed far less like a name, so "A" won. STOPGO was hard (59A: Congested, in a way). I had STUFFY at first. So I ended up with a good but not great time on this good if not great puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:23 AM  

There ought to be a term for two unknown people who jam up a whole section of the crossword. for me those are 54Across and 61Across. I couldn't make headway in that section even though I had CATE BLANCHETT, MICHELIN GUIDE, INK, DEALS AND RATA! 37Down MIDRASH is another Natick. Big DNF, but loved the rest of the puzzle.

Harryp 12:25 AM  

I also had HACKATHON and LAMPS too.

mrn 12:28 AM  

I can’t be the only one who couldn’t parse 9A until the very end. I can’t help but see DA SHIT instead of DASH IT.

Speedweeder 1:09 AM  

Definitely not easy-medium for me, more like hard-extra~hard. Thought for a time I might have to resort to Google, but somehow it eventually all came together. So, exactly what I want in a Saturday puzzle.

puzzlehoarder 1:15 AM  

Getting a clean grid on this was tough. Even in the relatively easy NW I had to change ROLE to LEAD and PAYNE to PAINE.

In the center I kept confusing the clues for 28D and 29D. Wondering why TWEETS would be bygone and what ETC had to do with a tilde wasted quite a bit of time for no reason. I hate keyboard related clues.

In the SE I got MIDRASH with a little help from the crosses. I used to redo those Friday and Saturday puzzles from the 90s so it was out in the ether somewhere. ASHMAN could be ISHMAN for all I know but MIDRISH didn't look right.

The NE went in last. Even with DAD and ARR in place I wasn't getting it from the top. What kept me from back filling it was my BLANCHETE misspelling at 36A. I had BEA in place forever and knew REAPS and TILTSAT had to be correct. That -PERE ending at 13D put me off for a long time. Finally the lightbulb went off and the NE went down all at once.

I found this to be a lively entertaining solve.

Robin 1:19 AM  

I wrote in CATEBLANCHETT with no crosses. Apparently I am a CINEASTE, although I originally wrote in CINEFILE for that one , DASHiT.

Blanchett won for portraying Hepburn in The Aviator.

Larry Gilstrap 1:43 AM  

Starting with the 1D/1A NW, off to the races, then I lost my jockey in the SW. I mean, the rest filled like a Saturday with a daunting stack standing around in the lobby. But, that MIDRASH/ASHMAN cross was reminiscent of many things in life, not fair.

LINGERIE clued that way? I only dabble in women's undergarments, but I associate the term LINGERIE with comfortable stuff, not a rigid bra. Discuss. I do push-ups to fill out my HAWAIIAN SHIRT and sit-ups so I could tuck it in, if anyone tucks in the Aloha garment.

Baseball fans recognize the influence of Billy Ball on the success of the A's, a small market TEAM saddled with a lousy facility, but still able to field a competitive product.

Alexander Pope re-emerges again today in a non-odistic reference: "Fools RUSH IN where angels fear to tread..."

Seth Bourque 2:10 AM  

I’m sure you’ve looked it up by now, but on the off chance that you haven’t, Cate Blanchett won Best Supporting Actress for playing Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator.

chefwen 2:34 AM  

Liked it a lot, but still struggled.

DASH IT, who the hell says that? Darn it, damn it, screw it, etc. DASH IT, no.

Loved 37A MICHELIN GUIDE, hated 33A HAWAIIAN SHIRT, that was a real stretch, I wanted an island.

mrn 3:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hungry Mother 6:07 AM  

Slogged it out just in time to leave for today’s 5K race. Some interesting answers.

Thomaso808 7:14 AM  

As @Harryp and @chefwen can probably confirm, people in Hawaii generally say “Aloha Shirt” and not HAWAIIANSHIRT For my son’s first day of high school after we moved to Hawaii in 1999, my wife told him the dress code was Aloha shirt, and he was very reluctant until she told him it was what Dad wore every day to work. He said, “Oh, you mean Hawaiian shirt — OK.”

I am always impressed by quality stacks, especially with a grid spanning vertical. Thanks, Paolo.

QuasiMojo 7:42 AM  

Cineaste was my first fill-in. I really enjoyed this puzzle even though I had a DNF at DASH IT. I don’t know what a DAD Joke is. I put in BAD and couldn’t shake it. I was toying with BATHOS or BAH HUM... but never figured it out. Having UNexpert didn’t help. That’s how I first discovered this blog. Looking for an answer or an explanation when I couldn’t make out a puzzle. I’ve come to not mind having a DNF. I’m proud to be INEXPERT. I’m still TILTing at windmills.

Yes, @JC66 and @JoeD from last night. True dat.

Suzie Q 7:44 AM  

Two good metaphors already for that SW corner. My battleship sank and my jockey fell off. What the deuce? Dash it all!

@ Larry G., You dabble in ladies' underwear? Sorry, somebody had to call you out on that one. Anyway, as someone who has more than dabbled, some lingerie can be almost brutal. Complicated fasteners, stiff stays, and the need to suck in your tummy all the time.

C or K for the actress name? I always forget but the film clue looked like cine-something. Too bad the right answer didn't help much. I guess I needed to turn on my Tiffany lamp to help me see.

Nice tough Saturday.

ghthree 8:20 AM  

I take issue with the cluing for 29 Down. CABLE is anything but "bygone." I'm writing this on a desktop machine with cables connecting the main unit (CPU,memory, and disk drive) to the monitor, to the printer, to the keyboard, to the mouse, to the WiFi, and to the backup disk. That's a lot of cables!

I know that "Wireless" is the current buzzword, and arguably accurate for laptop users, but for many of us Desktoppers, cable is still the reality.

Searching for "cable tv" quickly leads to Too Much Information. Nowadays, some cable tv systems use physical cables, and others use wireless connections, in a bewildering variety of combinations.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

I feel like an idiot, but I'm just not getting the clue on 20A DELIS?

Runs with Scissors 8:41 AM  

Oof. Good thing I wasn’t wearing a LAPEL MIC.

This was tough. Ultimately got it done. Devilish (or should that be deuce-ish? Har) cluing.

SNAPE took all the crosses. I’m not up on Harry’s world.

Does anyone outside of bad novels actually say DROP TROU??? I’ve never heard it in the wild.

Liked it.

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

GILL I. 8:56 AM  

@Quasi....just for you:
DAD: I was just listening to the radio on my way home, apparently an actress just killed herself...
MOM: Oh my! Who!?
DAD: Uh, I can't remember...I think her name was Reese something?
DAD: No, it was with a knife.

I don't think I've met a Paolo Pasco I didn't enjoy. The work-out was worth it. Lots brought on smiles of recognition. I was so proud of myself for finishing a Saturday with no help from the Googs. But DASH IT, I had my one DNF. The Little Mermaid lyricist will be forever named ORHMAN. My film buff was a CINEArTE person and the Hebrew commentary is a MID RoSH.
I love it when I get the long answers with just a few letters. I'm getting pretty good at this. I got CATE just off the last two TT's. Loved the clue for HAWAIIAN SHIRT.
The MICHELINE GUIDE is spot on with its stars. I've only been to one three star restaurant and it was worth every dollar bill spent. If ever you are in the Napa/Yountville area and have about $400 just waiting to leave your pocketbook, then eat at The French Laundry. You have to make reservations about 20 years in advance, but boy is it worth it. Especially when YOU don't have to pay the bill!
I always thought a GLAD HAND was warm and welcoming. I guess it can be unwelcome coming from a politician?
Thanks for a fun Saturday, Paolo. Please keep them coming....

pabloinnh 9:03 AM  

I guess DASHIT is OK, but I'm more familiar with "Dash it all!", which is useful when you're doing the faux British accent thing, e.g. Dash it all, the wheel's fallen off the bloody pram again!.

Learned MIDRASH , mostly because ASHMAN had to be the name.

Good solid fun, and a Saturday that knows how to Saturday. Thanks PP.

JHC 9:05 AM  

As a Jewish musical theater writer, I'm the perfect intersection (sorry, DAD joke) of ASHMAN and MIDRASH. One is the creator of some of the most enduring mass-appeal pop culture in the late 20th century; the other is a secondary text of interest only to an observant subset of a minority religion. I gotta say, I'm a little surprised that a couple of people (including Rex) struggled more with the former than the latter. Go know.

mmorgan 9:08 AM  

Great Saturday — tough, challenging, clever, fair, and very satisfying to get Mr Happy Pencil! Never heard of CHRISTIAN MINGLE but it fell in (though for a while I thought it might be “meet up”). I was briefly confused when CINEphile wouldn’t fit and I have no idea how I knew MIDRASH. I couldn’t decide which Obama daughter was going in 44D, but ASHMAN was a gimme. I only know the expression “STOP and GO,” so that was a brief holdup. But this was a fab puzzle!

Nancy 9:17 AM  

Pirates say ARR??? That's it? You'll have to do better than that, Pirates. You don't scare me in the least.

I really, really, really wanted MIXED METAPHOR for "Not the sharpest crayon in the box." What it should be is "Not the sharpest knife in the drawer." Knives are a better metaphor for sharpness. If you want to talk about crayons, maybe brightness? "Not the brightest crayon in the box"? Of course bulbs are even better for brightness: "Not the brightest bulb in the house."

Is it in good taste to cross CHRISTIAN with dropped TROU? Just asking.

What an easy week this has been. Yesterday was pretty easy for a Friday and today was VERY easy for a Saturday. Maybe Will S. wants to leave us plenty of extra time for Memorial Day Weekend's almost certain STOP/GO traffic.

QuasiMojo 9:20 AM  

@Gill, thanks. I must be a Dad then. I thought that joke was funny.

@ghthree, I think “cable” here refers to a telegram. Not too many of those sent today. At least not to me.

ghthree 9:27 AM  

@ Anonymous at 8:37
DELIS are establishments whose customers might describe the food as DELILSH!

Lewis 9:34 AM  

@gill -- Hah!

This was part scratch-and-claw, part treasure hunt (as it was clear early on that there would be many clues that were delicious riddles), and part test of faith (that the grid would fill in), a trio of puzzle responses that I love, and thus, Pablo, you made for me an extraordinary solving experience.

So many clues to relish -- RIME, LINGERIE, DELIS, ESE, HAWAIIAN SHIRT, SMITE. And the Libra in me found balance and peace in the parallel MALIA and MANIA. I had CHRISTIAN sINGLE, making for TEAs at 39A, which just in no way fit [A's, e.g. ... or a word following "A"], and seeing, finally, that it was MINGLE tripped off an explosive "Aha!" -- the perfect exclamation point to end the puzzle on.

What a pleasure crossword puzzles can be at times, and today's was the perfect illustration of that. Bravo, Pablo!

Z 9:34 AM  

Easy NW and SE, medium NE and middle stack, challenging SW, mostly because I know MIDRASH only from crosswords and it took awhile to pull it out of the deeper recesses. Pasco is one of the reasons I don’t bother to try to construct a puzzle, I’m quite sure my best effort wouldn’t match the stuff he throws away.

@ghthree - on the off chance you’re not pulling our leg, people don’t send CABLEs much anymore, although Western Union is still in business.

@anon8:37 - If you’re like me the answer came to you right after you hit publish, but on the off chance you’ve never seen Rachel Ray, DELISH is something you might say about food you buy at DELIS.

@Runs with Scissors - Drop TROU is a more recent way to reference mooning people.

@Gill I - I don’t know where the phrase comes from, but I’ve only ever heard it in reference to the fake joviality of reception lines, political fund-raisers, ... basically any event where one has to suck up to people because they have money that you’d like for your own purposes.

@Nancy - Crayons are not sharp to begin with. So not being the sharpest crayon is a level of DIMness beyond not being the sharpest knife.

Birchbark 9:35 AM  

@Gill I (8:56), @Quasimojo (7:42):

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Who who?
Hey, are you an owl?

My contribution to the 9D parade, and many many more of the same ilk (Boo. Boo who? Hey, how come you're crying?). Improvise about six in a row and they always work[ed], especially as they get more far fetched. Chooch. Chooch who? Hey, are you a train? Kalamaz. Kalamaz who? Hey, that's where I grew up.

ENE. ENE who? ENE who, how are you?

SouthsideJohnny 9:40 AM  

@ghthree - I don’t know if you are being tongue-in-cheek or if you are serious. On the off chance that you are serious, I’ll take the bait. The clue refers to the type of cable communication during the frist half of the 20th century (such as a diplomatic cable) transmitted via underwater transatlantic cables. I guess I’m showing my age, or I’m very naive . . .

Uncle Alvarez 9:41 AM  

Now that’s comedy!

Exubesq 9:42 AM  

Delish. As in delicious.

Lewis 9:43 AM  

MIDRASH reminds me of George Barany, who would give that name to discussions he led among constructors about puzzles. I sure miss George here -- what a wise, kind, and full-of-heart soul.

Deuce Ashman 9:44 AM  

This puzzle made me vomit.

Deuce Ashman
Christian Mingler

Stanley Hudson 9:47 AM  

@Lewis, yes George Barany is sorely missed.

Sharp drove him away with a gratuitously nasty review of a puzzle that George co-constructed.

mmorgan 9:55 AM  

@ghthree— as in cablegram (a telegram sent via underwater cable).

And without meaning to be snarky, look into an all-in-one computer sometime. My monitor is the entire computer, and my keyboard, mouse, and printer are all wireless, so the only two cables are the power cords for the computer and printer. Very neat and nifty!

RooMonster 9:59 AM  

Hey All !
My tough/DNF spot was NE. What DA SHIT (har!) is INEXPERT?? That, plus the E at the end of BLANCHETe, threw me off. For DASHIT, went through DArnIT, DAmmIT, DAngIT. Should've got ARMANI in retrospect, but had to Goog that, as I was stopped cold in that corner. REAPS went through earnS-REinS-REArS. HAVEABITE, through mAsticaTe-tAkEABITE. Finally put an S in for TEsT, giving me INEsPERe for 13D, and thinking that was a nice French word for Amateurish (which is French itself, or at least sounds like it.) Hit Check Puzzle, then after deleting wrong letters, saw the INEXPERT, and got the Happy Tune.

Rest of puz put up just a little resistance, actually got the center stacks first, before the outlying areas, which is rare for me.

LOATH is missing its E.

Nice SatPuz, took me 5x Rexes.

Time to don my HAWAIIAN SHIRT and head out. ALOHA!


Nancy 10:26 AM  

So @GILL's reminiscences of the MICHELIN 3-star French Laundry impelled me to search the web for photos of the food. Which looked absolutely DELISh. But which also looked...sort of skimpy.

I was reminded of a comment by a friend many years ago, who, commenting about a pricey restaurant, said: "They decorate the plate." I'm thinking that for $400 per person (@GILL's estimated price) they should at least give you enough to eat.

Then I thought: Bet it's a tasting menu. It has to be. I checked and it is. Seven courses plus dessert. All of them scrumptious-looking. That's okay, then. Forgive me, French Laundry. Or as Gilda Radner would have said: Never mind.

Paul Rippey 10:29 AM  

Having put a lot of time recently into dog training, I confidently wrote "HEEL" at 23A "Follow" without any thought that could be wrong. That gave me lEATH for 24D, "Tarot card that bears the numeral XIII", which sounded kind of tarotish to me. But I got the You missed something message.

So I spent too many minutes messing with all the possibilities for the ASHMAN/MIDRASH cross, wondering if I had spelled LINGERIE correctly, and thinking that Sardinian locals might live on an ISELA, crossing ANIMATeRS.

Finally ran to Rex to look for the answer, and grumpily took my first DNF in a long time. So, DASH IT all.

Nancy 10:42 AM  

Someone put this clip up on the Wordplay Blog in regard to the 5D clue. Although I couldn't act my way out of a wet paper bag and have never auditioned for the LEAD or even a small role, this has to be the funniest send-up of the audition process ever. Don't miss it.

Bob Mills 10:42 AM  

CINEASTE? What in the world is that? Worked hard on this one, but the SW got me.

Runs with Scissors 10:54 AM  

@RooMonster 9:59

In re LOATH: It only has an e on the end when it's a verb, e.g. You can be loath to do something and yet not loathe it.

Breath and breathe. Smooth and smoothe. Et cetera. Screws up a lot of folks.

tb 11:08 AM  

@Runs with Scissors:
"Breath and breathe. Smooth and smoothe. Et cetera. Screws up a lot of folks."

To say nothing of lose and loose.

jae 11:19 AM  

Mostly easy except for the SW corner where I not only stared for quite a while but also DNF. @Rex went with A for ASHMAN and I went with O (RoSH seemed more Hebrew than RASH). Mostly liked it.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Think pre-computer age.

Alex M 11:32 AM  

I was beyond chuffed to see the late, great Howard Ashman get an NYT shout-out today! A tragic casualty of the AIDS epidemic, he had so much more great music to share. Jim Henson was another great inclusion!

Howard the Duck 11:53 AM  

Trapped in a world I never made.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 11:54 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

What? 11:55 AM  

I’m insulted with DAD joke. Politically incorrect. Where is the editor? My kids laugh at all my jokes.

CDilly52 12:14 PM  

@mrn 12:28 am. You are not alone!

CDilly52 12:20 PM  

@Quasi 7:42 am. LOL! I did not want to give up on bAD joke either. No idea what a DAD joke is. I also thought bASHIT was probably ok as well, until the end when I got the “almost” message. . . DASHIT!

CDilly52 12:22 PM  

@ghthree 9:20 am. CABLE as in telegram

Marna 12:25 PM  

Cable as in trans Atlantic communications in the early 20th century

CDilly52 12:26 PM  

@Gill. I agree with Quasi, I thought the joke was funny too, but now the DAD JONE makes a bit more sense, although in my family it would have been an Uncle Merrill joke. He had a seemingly endless supply of similar humor.

old timer 12:30 PM  

An easy Saturday but a good one (easy means, I filled everything in with no overwrites, but began with all that blank space and no clue how to get started). And a fair review by OFL. Pascal is on my wavelength, in that my almost blind guesses on the long answers turned out right most of the time.

Michslin is a great guide, here or (especially) in France. When I was 19 and on a student tour of Europe, my mother sent money for me to take a party to Tour d'Argent. It was a wonderful experience. But on later trips, I found more delight in making one- and two-star restaurants the premier meal. The food will be just as good, the service first rate though not so obsequious, and the decor -- well who really cares?

Another: Always go to the place that everyone, even people you randomly meet at baggage claim, says you have to go to. On that first trip, everyone said to have onion soup at Au Pied de Cochon at 3 in the morning. Oh yeah! Unforgettable. On a more recent trip to Washington, people said if I wanted a crazy party and cheap oysters, go to this place not far from the White House. Dollar oysters and great fun.

Joe Dipinto 12:32 PM  

Come on baby, don't fear the reaper

What this puzzle needed is more cowbell. More R's in ARR. Less pubescent trou-dropping and lingerie. Less cutesiness like the clue for 20a.

Cate Blanchett, Ashman, Henson, and Snape were immediate gimmes. There are other Iliads? It's fun to see Rex squirm to find good things to say when the constructor is one of his faves.

So yesterday we got Christian Grey, portrayed by JAMIE DORNAN; today it's CHRISTIAN MINGLE. Next up, I predict: the deathless Night Ranger classic SISTER CHRISTIAN.

What's your price for flight
In finding mister right
You'll be alright tonight

CDilly52 12:34 PM  

This was a tale of two puzzles for me. A delightful mix of oldish and modish with some truly difficult misdirections. I think that folks of the “modern” Disney era (or parents of same) would recognize ASHMAN. Thankfully, I did (and got HENSON immediately) or that SW would have taken me down. Took way too long to fix my BAD/BASHIT cross. Good workout!

pabloinnh 12:35 PM  

@Lewis-Aw, I'm actually blushing. Thanks for all the kind words.

Oops, I think you meant to say "Paolo". Never mind.

Masked and Anonymous 12:38 PM  

M&A first entry into the puz: 5-D. {Play auditioner's hope} = PART. My auditioner wasn't quite as greedy. But … wrong again, M&A breath.

A few precious nano-seconds later had most of the NW filled in, with PART soon gone, thanx to LAPELMIC. The rest of the solvequest was typical feisty but fun SatPuz fare. Had the BAD/BASHIT error, to sully my all-correct bonus points, at the end.

New stuff, at our house: The HACKATHON/ASHMAN/CINEASTE/MIDRASH-athon. Wasn't sure on HEDER, but wrote er in offa nuthin.

staff weeject pick: ARR. Any pirate worth a patoot would at least belt out an ARRRR, tho.

Lotsa solid, amazin fillins. fave was the ohso-funky INEXPERT. [harrrr] Best desperation: ILIADS (yo, @RP).

Thanx, Mr. Pasco. Primo-delish DELIS clue -- U would be highly qualified to clue up runtpuzs.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Malsdemare 12:39 PM  

This was my favorite kind of Saturday puzzle. It made me work REALLY HARD, but had great payoffs when something fell. I don’t know how I knew MIDRASH and I actually stumbled a while on the A and S. I didn’t know ASHMAN so I eventually needed Mr Google to help me there. It seemed like everything interesting was going to fight me tooth and nail but then I’d get a cross or two and there would be MICHELIN GUIDE or CATE BLANCHETT lending a helping hand. Loved it. Yeah, ILIADS was bad but then there was SMITE and an HAWAIIAN SHIRT. Just perfect!

My therapy dog and I provide stress relief for the University of Illinois’ HACKATHON (HackIllinois). Teams from all over the country (and some foreign countries) meet here to compete for some serious prizes. Each year the goal changes; this past year it was to create something new for an open source piece of software and for 36 hours these kids stare groggily at computers, wander halls looking for coffee (and my dog), and create the sort of new stuff that I, for one, do NOT understand but which just may improve life in some small way. For one thing, they seek out bugs and fix them! YAY! Totally cool. So I was thrilled to see one of our favorite therapy gigs show up in a puzzle.

Now to see what y’all have to say.

PS Can I just add a note to the whole Manchester thingee yesterday? My gripe was not that Rex didn’t know who he was; that’s understandable. It’s that having looked him up, he so blithely dismissed him as having “written a couple books.” Others waxed poetically about his body of work, so I won’t repeat. But I think before you dismiss an author as small potatoes, you might actually see if those books are consequential. “A World Lit Only by Fire” illuminated the lives of my French ancestors in ways that nothing else could. And “The Last Lion”? Oh my!

Okay, I’m done.

Crimson Devil 12:51 PM  

Yo, Nancy
Loved shout out to Gilda Radner character Emily Littela; also miss Roseanne Roseanna Dana.

Fred Romagnolo 1:25 PM  

Has the rule to label abbreviations gone? LAPEL MIC? I'm not familiar with "Drop trou," although I do know "mooning." I'm more comfortable with "DAD" puzzles!

GHarris 1:43 PM  

Somehow I was getting it all until I bogged down in the NW. I was sure New Havn had to be Eli City and I can’t imagine that someone auditions for the lead.(I assume an established actor is invited to play the part). So I was stuck between role and part.Had to resort to my old standby, auto check, to finish it off.

Carola 2:00 PM  

Tough, fun, satisfying to finish. Having woken up on the DIM side of the bed, I solved at a STOP-GO pace. The "GO" section was the NW, where first-in LOATH x TIN got me as far as CHRIS.... Then, STOP. HAWAIIAN...what? And, two rows down, .....L?NGU???: what LaNGUage could a "Book of stars" be? Eventually sorted it all out.

Favorite pair: DASH IT and DRIVEL.
No idea: HEDER
Great oaks from little acorns grow: BEA got me HAVE A BITE and the rest of the NE

I have fond memories of traveling though France in pre-Internet times with the MICHELIN Red GUIDE, especially one impromptu escape on a blistering July day from the traffic-snarled autoroute into the nearest town to a calm, cool, quiet restaurant which graciously received a bedraggled family and served a lovely lunch. Still dream of the celestial oeufs a la neige.

webwinger 2:39 PM  

Best Saturday in many a week IMO. Just the right degree of challenging, lots of good wordplay. The middle stack was excellent, great clues for HAWAIIAN SHIRT and MICHELIN GUIDE. Didn’t know CATE BLANCHETT from the clue, but got it eventually from crosses without googling. Same for ASHMAN (though I knew of his tragic history).

I did google for SNAPE: not a HP fan, knew his name (and that he was portrayed by Alan Rickman in the movies), but not much about his role beyond his being a bad guy. Just didn’t care enough to agonize over it when it didn’t emerge from crosses soon enough (and anyway I found it hard to believe ILIADS was really a thing). Likewise for DEATH, HEDER, and a few others.

As I’ve mentioned before, I find it hard to understand why so many of you bloggers self-flagellate over resorting to Google. I’ll go there sooner rather than later when I’m pretty sure from a clue that the answer is outside my knowledge base, particularly when it’s pretty clear that searching the clue will quickly yield the answer, advancing the solve, saving precious nanoseconds, and learning something to boot. I consider Google one of the most valuable things the 21st century has brought us (Twitter, one of the least), and it’s free! (I won’t bite for search hits that clearly come from x-word driven sources.) In the end, it’s figuring out cleverly clued answers like DELIS, RIME, SMITE, and LINGERIE that provide the greatest pleasure in solving. Sure, dredging a long-buried factoid (e.g. MIDRASH) from deep memory can also be quite satisfying, but in a different and less enjoyable way.

I too miss George Barany (and ACMe). Worst thing about @RP’s frequent nastiness is its potential to drive great contributors who are also constructors from the ranks of his followers. Today’s review showed a good balance, I thought: appropriately appreciating the constructor, acknowledging that the puzzle was fine, while pointing out some areas where it could have been better.

Finally (sorry for the over-long post), I was among those stuck on ELi for New Haven. Drop TROU is a phrase I’ve heard since my youth in the Midwest.

OISK 3:59 PM  

Again, it helped to be a Gilbert and Sullivan fan... "Have you ever known what it is to be an orphan?" Pirates "Oh, dash it all!"

This was a tough one for me. I visited this site, eager to find out my mistakes, since "Cineaste" cold not possibly be right.... Surprise!!

But tough as it was, cluing like "Top of a Pacific Island Chain", "Push-ups," "Book of Stars," more than made up for the Harry Potter reference. Good, crunchy, apt, Saturday puzzle.

Mike Trout 4:22 PM  

@FR 1:25 PM- I don’t think mic and trou are abbreviations but informal words. There is no period after them.

GILL I. 4:35 PM  

@Nancy, I call it eye candy cuisine. I'm pretty sure MICHELIN also looks for the visual when allowing its three stars. However, not all delicious "looking" food is created equally. Take for example my favorite cuisine on this entire planet....Cuban food. My mouth waters when I think of it. BUT...when dished on a platter, it doesn't really look all that appetizing and it's hard to spruce up - even with a sprig or two of cilantro! You have black beans, rice, pork, plantains and a few other things. All blah colors. Then you dig in and when cooked properly, you want to get off your chair and dance the "Mambo."
The French Laundry not only has the beautiful visual, the food is outrageously good. THEN...you have a menu with words like: Toasted Brioche Brokaw Avocado Mousse, Caved Aged "Comte" and then something like Diane St. Claire's Animal Farm Butter. So, you have the visual, the taste and the wonderful words!
Worth the $$$$$. because you'd never forget it.
Bon Appetite....

Wood 4:57 PM  

"Not the brightest bulb on the tree" is the way I've heard it.

Wood 5:07 PM  

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Interrupting cow."
"Interrupting co--"

Lewis 5:23 PM  

@pabloinnh -- Oops -- good catch! It's true I didn't mean you, but I do like your posts.

pabloinnh 6:03 PM  

Hey @Lewis--thank you. There are days when I think you and I are the only solvers who had a good time.


Ha ha, I mean-


michiganman 7:44 PM  

@Mike Trout: LOL

Runs with Scissors 7:51 PM  

4:30 pm here on the left coast and the Sunday puzzle is already on the NYT website. I mean, thanks and all, but how flippin' early does it come up???

JC66 7:56 PM  


The Sunday & Monday puzzles are available online at 6 PM Eastern time, the day before; the other days. at 10PM Eastern.

Joe Dipinto 8:24 PM  

I just noticed that Jim Horne at X-Word Info reproduced Howard Ashman's lyrics to "Somewhere That's Green" from "Little Shop of Horrors". Brilliant, hilarious stuff -- one of my favorite musicals. Sing it, Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette!

Runs with Scissors 8:44 PM  

@GILL I 4:35 PM

Cuban food is to die for on the plate, both visually and taste-bud-ly. Way better than that French stuff. I might be biased; my wife is Cuban and I like food I can taste. Masas de puerco con moros y maduros, y yuca en el lado. And I love garlic...

@JC66 - Thanks. I think it's kinda like cheating. I'm already done with it...

Runs with Scissors 9:07 PM  

@pabloinnh 6:03 PM

I enjoy every single puzzle I solve. I normally do 4 every day. Some are easier than others, but even on Monday I have fun with them.

Anonymous 9:26 PM  

To a lot of parents, Howard Ashman is as familiar as Cole Porter. (Maybe some toddlers allow their folks to skip over credit sequences, but it sure didn't happen around here.)

Also, pretty sure "cable" is referring to an overseas telegram, not cable TV. Very big deal when undersea line was completed.

GILL I. 9:38 PM  

@Runs...Be still my heart... and you didn't spell yuca with two cc's. I also do picadillo and the lovely (takes at least two days to make) ropa vieja - for those in the not know (old clothes)..... Lechon asado...!!!!
A kindred spirit. I'll let you know the next time we have an asado...you and the wife are invited!

Joe Dipinto 10:10 PM  

@Nancy -- Roflmao at that "audition" video. Priceless!

(You should do Patrick Berry's contribution to the Sunday puzzles. You'll see why.)

Runs with Scissors 10:22 PM  

@GILL I. 9:38 PM

Just a few days ago I made a pork shoulder asado. Seasoned with garlic pepper, Lowry's seasoned salt, cumin, mojo criollo, naranja agria, and ajo. Dayum, that was good. Sides were moros and maduros. Flan for dessert.

Wood 9:21 AM  

Why don't people use the "Reply" link to thread their replies instead of making new posts referring back to the user and time they're replying to?

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

I was also angry about ORIOLE as opposed to ORIOLES being crossed with PIRATES not PIRATE...

Yam Erez 2:07 PM  

Have never heard "not the sharpest crayon in the box". And if there was, a three-year answer would be "red", of course. Paraphrasing metaphorical expressions shouldn't be allowed, folks.

kitshef 10:11 PM  

@Wood -

whether you can use the Reply link depends on ... something. Not sure if it is your device or your operating system. Anyway, many people don't have that option. Hence, the @Wood convention.

kitshef 10:17 PM  

Found this very, very hard for a while. Then hit the tipping point and whoosh it was done.

spacecraft 1:00 PM  

I resent my jokes being dismissed as "total groaners." I had 'bad,' of course, but never heard of "bashit." I have heard "DASHIT," albeit in some old English movie, so was forced into that. Okay, I'll give you the best joke I know, and you be the judge:

What's the difference between a diplomat and a lady?

When a diplomat says yes, he means maybe; if he says maybe, he means no--and if he says no, he's no diplomat.

Now, when a lady says no, she means maybe; if she says maybe she means yes--but if she says yes: she's NO lady!

Anyway that was one of my writeovers; another was CAr (with old) instead of CAN with TIN. That R was entrenched and took a long time to dislodge. The third was SPRuNG before SPRANG. I think sprung sounds better. (Sprought??)

This was tough pretty much all the way, and the Natick at 54 was a total guess--but I did come up with A, so actually finished correctly. Whew! Everything was OK except...how many ILIADS are there? Perhaps, different editions?? Even the RCD I forgive--because it mentioned my birthplace to my father's birthplace! How about that?!

No reason not to install the centerpiece, CATEBLANCHETT, as DOD. Birdie.

leftcoast 3:52 PM  

Sorta like Rex said, this puzzle was both good and bad, and easy and not so easy. Overall, would have to go with medium-challenging.

Good and easy parts started in the NW (that's unusual), through the mIddle three-tier stack (loved it), and ENDED (cleanly) in the SE.

NE was aggravating. Badly wanted bushwa instead of DASHIT for "Phooey". Adding to the poor mood there were ARR, DRIVEL, and SMITE, but got them after cheating to get DA SHIT (oops, a typo).

The hardest part was the SW, with MIDRASH, CINEASTE, and ASHMAN blocking the way. Also went for SlOwGO instead of STOPGO. HACKATHON was a good one but needed help to sort it out of the mess.

So, yes, it is a Saturday puzzle.

Diana,LIW 5:09 PM  

Well, I'm not 17 years old. Or 20. Or 30. I guess that's the only ages good enuf for @Rex to like a puz.

Nae nae, I didn't even come close to getting the PPP on this one. And I haven't used a dating service since my first and last blind date. Gonna go tell some Mom jokes now. To my cats. They appreciate them.

Diana LaPelmic, Waiting

Burma Shave 7:16 PM  


DASHIT! I'm ONALEASH, not single.
One GLADHAND makes the PAINE go away,
'cuz I won't meet HER on CHRISTIANMINGLE.


Anonymous 10:41 PM  

Nothing easy about this puzzle except "HENSON." After that a total slog. But what else would one expect for a Saturday NYT puzzle ? Not complaining except for the easy-medium label which only fits for expert solvers. Looking forward to Sunday's.

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