Toyotal models since 1984 / SAT 5-4-19 / Poet lyricist who wrote 1974 #1 hit seasons in sun / Playfully fantastical / River people of arizona

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Constructor: Mark Diehl

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (8:43)

THEME: MAY / THE 4TH / BE WITH / YOU — hackneyed "Star Wars" pun for YOU, enjoy

Theme answers:
  • MAY (1A: Could) (uh, hey, psst—COULD is actually in the grid at 35D: Polite kids' plea ("COULD WE?")
  • THE 4TH (8A: U.S. Independence Day, informally)
  • BE WITH (53A: Accompany)
  • YOU (55A: Recipient of the wish at 1-, 8-, 53- and 55-Across)
Word of the Day: First name? Ah, I see ... *Rod* MCKUEN (31A: Poet/lyricist who wrote the 1974 #1 hit "Seasons in the Sun") —
Rodney Marvin "Rod" McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) was an American poet, singer-songwriter, and actor. He was one of the best-selling poets in the United States during the late 1960s. Throughout his career, McKuen produced a wide range of recordings, which included popular music, spoken word poetry, film soundtracks and classical music. He earned two Academy Award nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his music compositions. McKuen's translations and adaptations of the songs of Jacques Brel were instrumental in bringing the Belgian songwriter to prominence in the English-speaking world. His poetry deals with themes of love, the natural world and spirituality. McKuen's songs sold over 100 million recordings worldwide, and 60 million books of his poetry were sold as well, according to the Associated Press. (wikipedia)
• • •

Themed Saturdays are the worst. Why mess with the toughest puzzle of the week? Give me my weekend themelesses and you can back to your bad puns on Sunday.. This one holds up OK as just a plain Saturday—I knew from the constructor's name that it would be tough and old (out of my wheelhouse), but probably solid. And I was right on all counts (MCKUEN???? What on god's green earth?). But what would've been a reasonable workout on an OK if not exciting themeless was completely wrecked by this theme, which is insultingly trite and dumb—the worst, corniest, no-longer fresh or cute pun that internet fandom ever created. And then to recutesy it all with that horrible YOU clue (55A: Recipient of the wish at 1-, 8-, 53- and 55-Across). Yeah you can shove that condescending attempt at endearment. I return your "wish" with spite. From hell's heart I stab at thee.

[the '70s, man ...]

Also, this plays like an OLDEN white man's puzzle, real bad. The guy who believes he's a CENTRIST but is really a conservative. The guy who believes that as a conservative he favors BALANCED BUDGETS when in fact self-styled conservatives just want massive tax cuts and don't care whether they're paid for or not. The guy who works for some "business" with a PROCEDURE MANUAL. He's probably got his photo on the OUR TEAM page, smiling his smarmy gruesome boss-pleasing smile. Probably gonna SNEER at the millennials in his office and then drown his sadness in ITALIAN WINE as soon as the work day ends, because ITALIAN WINEs are classy. Nothing SEUSSIAN about this guy's life. Anyway, that's who I imagine this puzzle is for. This guy would definitely chuckle at this "joke" and want to share it with his "Friends" on Facebook.

Thought this one was going to startle me and be easy after the NW fell quickly (MAY MOPPED ARRIVE, bang bang bang), but CAN TAKE IT (a terrible "answer") was impossible to see, and so I wanted PROFESSIONAL something, not PROCEDURE MANUAL (which I really really really want to be PROCEDURE*S* MANUAL—I mean, presumably, there's more than one). Monster of a time getting SEUSSIAN, even with -EUSSIAN in place (thought I had an error). Just couldn't get to APSO (4A: Tail end of a dog?—groan). Another "?" clue slowed me up badly in the SW—36A: Fashion lines? (AD LIB). Had that terminal "B" and kept wanting to pull it 'cause it looked so wrong. Did not mind the "4" in the grid. Throw a numeral at me every once in a while, that's fine. Had BABY blank and no idea what three-letter word could go there. Didn't know BIBs were involved in "layettes." Wanted EVERY BIT before WHOLE BIT (which is a much, much worse phrase) (33D: Full monty). Clue on LADEN was very tough—that lower middle area was the last to fall for me. I guess ARE TOO is supposed to be a cutesy little bonus theme answer? Today, I am among the BOOERS. Good day.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    jae 12:08 AM  


    Bent before BIAS, xURB before BURB, and a lot of staring at the rest. Fortunately I knew the Toyota model (I drive a 98 Camry).

    Delightful mini-theme, liked it a bunch! So, apparently, I completely disagree with @Rex.

    Harryp 12:11 AM  

    It was challenging to me, mostly because I don't read directions. Tail of the dog took quite a while to get with just the S missing! Doh! I couldn't see SEUSSIAN down either! Other hold-ups were MCKUEN and the 4th (of July). Great Saturday, I'll take a puzzle like this anytime.

    Pete 12:30 AM  

    One THE pin a puzzle is one too many, but two!? On top of one another?

    Could != MAY, and I have the childhood scars to prove it.

    Joaquin 12:37 AM  

    Seems like Rex didn't like this puzzle. I did like it. But guess that's because I'm an "OLDEN white man", the type who Rex also seems to not like.

    And, yes, it's an old joke/meme but who cares? I work from NW to SE and when I finished I thought it was a super "aha moment". Not gonna share it on Facebook, though.

    Kevin 12:43 AM  

    I had SeussiaL for a long time and had never heard of McKuen, so McKueL seemed okay.

    Given what looked like a good grid even after triple checking everything, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out the meaning of that final YOU. Since MAY THE FORCE BE isn’t anything, much less a wish, I kept thinking the final Across was asking who had be told that in Star Wars. Luke? Han? Leia? I truly was thinking there was some sort of meta-puzzle at play.

    I finally gave up and was about to surrender when I realized SeussiaN was a better answer and got the solve.

    Anonymous 12:56 AM  

    I usually think Rex is too harsh. Today I think he pulled his punches. This is without question the worst NYT puzzle ever. I’m going to eat some Alpha-Bits cereal and then spit it out on a piece of graph paper, scan it, and submit it as a puzzle to the NYT. It probably won’t get accepted, but it should merit a look if this puzzle is any yardstick.

    Rabitz 1:19 AM  

    I enjoyed it a lot, and it surely was easy. I say that because I can't usually solve Saturdays' puzzles, and when I do solve one, it's always after setting aside and picking up the puzzle a number of times. But I solved this one in a single sitting. It took me about an hour, I had to work through a couple of errors—I'm not very good at this—and like Harryp, APSO and SEUSSIAN were the last to fall. But solving a Saturday puzzle in a single sitting is a personal best. Great puzzle, thank you Mark Diehl.

    puzzlehoarder 1:21 AM  

    About medium maybe a little harder than that. I was not expecting a theme and was surprised when no other digits cropped up.

    The NW corner was Monday easy. However 18D led directly into what was the toughest section of the puzzle. Even when I came down the upper stair step I had to skip over the MCKUEN/BURB area and then backfill it.

    The clues for APSO, PHD and ADLIB were great. They really added to the fun of solving this puzzle. While my time may have been a little over average it felt fast as the solve was so enjoyable. Either way it was 17 minutes faster than yesterday's solve and pain free.

    @Carola, thank you for your interest in my recovery. It's going great. I used a much better surgeon for this knee.

    @Nancy, I hope the 11D car entry didn't cause you too much trouble. I know you're not a car person.

    Larry Gilstrap 1:40 AM  

    This was the 3rd of three tough puzzles in a row that have come across my desk. Glad it wasn't early in the week, or RED ALERT! Even I know that signature phrase from the Star Wars franchise. One lone numeral on a Saturday? Anybody remember decorum?

    I'm not quite sure I associate ITALIAN WINE with classy, necessarily. Anybody ever drink one of those Chiantis in the raffia wrapped bottle? Has the enamel on your teeth been restored? The puzzle reeked of things other than elitism. THE UNIVERSE, definite article and all, is about as inclusive as you can get.

    One of the language texts I teach, insists on using "rears" as it applies to parenting. Very annoyed by trying to explain that idiom to an English language learner. Glad we went nautical in this puzzle.

    Who has a BALANCED BUDGET? Personally, I'm pretty solvent, for now. Oh, I forgot about that mortgage. I'm on the board of a small non-profit and to maintain our 501(c)(3) status we balance our budget. Ever hear of a non-profit that has fallen into financial problems? Clue: three letter abbrev. often found in the NYTX.

    Loren Muse Smith 2:34 AM  

    A toughie. Plenty Saturdayish for me, man. At first, all I had were desperate little S’s everywhere, including ones at the ends of 3D, 36A, and 7D. Chipped away little by little, though, and bam, done.

    Unlike Rex, I get a kick out of a little theme every now and then on a Friday or Saturday. (Today’s absolutely did not even come close to wrecking the puzzle for me. Am I being wound up?) And a numeral in a square. And AND, it’s published on the right day. May the 4th. (RIP Peter Mayhew, Chewbacca, who passed away last week.)

    “I need time” before I NEED A HUG. If I’m disconsolate, stay away and let me process. The only thing a hug does for me is compound the problem ‘cause it adds to the sadness the guilt that I just want the hug to stop. So I can have some time. (And all you guys who greet people by invading their space with a wry, cutesy I’m a hugger, for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.)

    The clue for AD LIB is brilliant.

    @Kevin – I know, right? I hadn’t realized that I had a dnf since early on I ended the still-not-gotten SEUSSIAL with a _ _ ian. Never went back and changed it, so my guy who wrote “Seasons in the Sun” was “McKuel.” Oops. That song is way in my wheelhouse – middle school, hit, we all got teary-eyed, I secretly thought I could sing it best even though queen bee Barbara W reigned, and I never dared join in if she decided to sing along to the forty-five. (See also Jesus Christ Superstar’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”) I was the Rodney Dangerfield of 7th grade.

    Anyhoo…I wasn’t familiar with SUESSIAN and sure would have gone with “Seussical” if tasked with adjectiving his name. You know you’ve ARRIVEd when there’s an adjective named after you. Marxian, Newtonian, Cartesian, Kafkaesque. I studied Chomskian linguistics. I guess you’ve Really arrived when they stop capitalizing it, like in sadistic, ritzy, platonic, chauvinistic, satanic.

    Rex – a most excellent catch on the ARE TOO crossing a themer.

    I’m with everyone else so far who was fine with this puzzle. Rex’s vitriol was surprising this morning. Sheesh.

    JJ 3:19 AM  

    The vitriol is disturbing. Tell me Rex has a big "Hate doesn't live here" sign in his front yard.
    I'm more of a Rodney King guy-" Can't we just get along?" It's hard to imagine that can happen with that level of contempt for those who don't see things the way you do.
    Besides that, I spent an inordinate amount of time with APOO as the dog ending. A friend has a Cockapoo, and APSO took way too long until it was fixed. The problem with that lonely 4 is that every little struggle I had, I kept trying to see if I could put another number in the box.
    I enjoyed the struggle, but wonder why it wasn't saved for July

    Boba Fett 6:17 AM  

    Go Fourth and enjoy!

    Taffy-Kun 6:24 AM  

    Rex has reached a new peak of snarkdom (snarkocity?). I think I will post his review for my friends on Facebook.

    BarbieBarbie 6:35 AM  

    Published on “May the 4th,” is why, @JJ.
    Here’s how far my kind of solving is from OFL’s: on a Saturday I cruise the puzzle looking for something, anything, I’m confident enough to fill in. Today’s was blank until I got to the bottom and was mulling “go WITH” when I saw the last clue, remembered wondering how to fit “fourth” in up above, then suddenly got the pun and filled the whole phrase in. So I had the aha moment with a blank puzzle, and started off with only the theme filled in. Pretty weird. Saturday-struggled with the rest, of course.
    I really enjoyed this one. Thanks!!

    three of clubs 6:39 AM  

    Get off my lawn! Had candidate seeking a NOD for a while which permitted me to play in my TOY universe. That did not work out well.

    Lewis 6:41 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Lewis 6:45 AM  

    Reading the middle of the review made me wish that MASCUCAUCAGIST was a word.

    I know with Mark that I'm going reach deep, do some hacking, return again and again to some blank areas, and step by little step (with a few sudden splashes of fill-in) successfully finish. Knowing how it's going to end puts me in a relaxed place right from the start, even knowing that the journey will require steep effort. I love this kind of puzzle experience; it's unique to crosswords, and a joy in my life. Once again, Mark, you met my expectations, and I am so grateful for that, sir.

    Anonymous 6:47 AM  

    Coz it’s MAY the 4TH today

    QuasiMojo 7:21 AM  

    “Today” you are among the BOOERS? C’mon Rex. Be real. I’m surprised that Rod McKuen who was and may still be one of the best-selling poets of all time isn’t better known by the cognoscenti here. He was also a fixture on TV back when poets were a fixture on TV. Believe it or not there used to be non-reality shows where actual human beings from both high and low culture and a few centrists moderating the middle would share their knowledge and expertise, not to mention talent. They would ADLIB in real time. And occasionally sing. Not one of Rod’s strong suits, alas. Oh and Rod was gay too before it was cool. Personally I enjoyed this thorny puzzle. I never noticed the theme. Thank you Mr Diehl.

    Anonymous 7:36 AM  

    "Yeah you can shove that condescending attempt at endearment. I return your "wish" with spite."

    "insultingly trite and dumb—the worst, corniest, no-longer fresh or cute pun that internet fandom ever created."

    This was way too difficult for me but a solid effort with practically no junk. The Universe, Procedure Manual, Balanced Budget, Italian Wine. That's great stuff!

    The anger is crazy.

    Jamie C 7:47 AM  

    Rex's vitriol surprising? Is this your first time on this blog?!

    Hungry Mother 7:51 AM  

    Had B.A.R.T. For BURB, and that caused my DNF. Otherwise a fun solve.

    Steve 8:01 AM  

    "This is without question the worst NYT puzzle ever". Quite a bold statement for someone too chicken s**t to post with even a first name. How about explaining why it's the worst ever? Because you couldn't finish it? It appears that even though postings have to go through an approval process, part of that process is not to reject a post based on its inane content.

    Pam 8:03 AM  

    Rex, you are among the BOOERS everyday. Hard for me today and that simply added to my pleasure.

    Roberta 8:25 AM  

    One of my friends already posted this yearly pun on Facebook so it created an easy entree into the puzzle. Nothing wrong with a hackneyed pun here and there. I liked ad lib and tail of a dog. PS Rod McKuen was very famous in the 60s. Really feeling the ageism in this blog today.

    Anonymous 8:39 AM  

    Someday, when you are an old white male, will you hate yourself?

    Anonymous 8:40 AM  

    Two coulds

    Teedmn 8:44 AM  

    Well, that was weird. It was mostly just fine but the NE held me up. 4TH? 4ce? When I first read the clue for 8A, I wanted "fourth" as the answer but when I got the THE, I let the rest hang open for the remainder of the solve until I finally got TSA AGENT (nice clue).

    I liked the misdirection of "combs" in the 26D BEES clue - I was thinking "hens".

    Somewhere this week I read that the new Star Wars movie was coming out soon (obviously not true) so I thought this was a tie-in but Google tells me the movie is due out December 20th. I'm so glad it isn't currently December, I love my spring season!

    I thought 4A was clever. Like @JJ, I had APoO for a while but SEUSSIAN fixed that. As @LMS mentions, verbicized names are cool. My favorite is Dickensian, because of the change in accentuation.

    30D, I had __AS in place and went with tiAS, mistaking "mujeres" for "hermanas". Spanish is my 4th language (meaning "not spoken here"), oops. I fixed it. Askew = WRIEST, shouldn't that be aWRIEST? :-)

    MCKUEN, one of those things you didn't know you knew until the M__UEN letter pattern brings it forward from the depths. I even had his first name, Rod, surface along with it. And now you know everything I know about the guy.

    Mark Diehl, this played a WHOLE BIT strange but I got my Saturday workout so thanks.

    kitshef 8:47 AM  

    Today I learned what a layette is. And that Rod MCKUEN – who is legit famous - wrote Seasons in the Sun.

    Found this quite challenging – in a good way. Creative cluing, rather than unknown PPP, created the challenge. Well, that plus some mistakes on my part. Confusing marsala with masala, and typos on PROCEDyRE and BUGETS hurt a lot.

    Don’t like WHOLE BIT one bit. And I’m fairly certain fiscal conservatives no longer exist.

    Oh, and what a bizarre theme.

    rivivieri 8:52 AM  


    webwinger 8:54 AM  

    This felt like a tough solve, though I finished under average Saturday time. Many trips to Google, more often for verification than for revelation. The stumbling blocks noted by @Rex didn’t cause me too much grief: MCKUEN I didn’t associate with the song in the clue, but he was certainly a big name back in the day. (A “best-selling poet”, LADEN with all that implies.) SEUSSIAN came easily. Got a small but satisfying “aha” from ADLIB and its clue.

    I agree with OFL that the “theme” was embarrassingly weak and off-putting, and that the long answers were seriously underwhelming; liked the lone Arabic numeral.

    Today’s RexRant™ again had me wondering if we are being treated to intentional self-parody. It called to mind some interesting op-ed pieces I’ve read recently pointing out that the old “establishment”, the target of much outrage in my youth, consisting almost entirely of white males and described to a T by @Rex today, is long-gone, replaced by a new one that comprises highly educated and highly paid elites in our society, is quite diverse, and leans as far to the left as the old did to the right. Among the hallmarks of the new establishment are its failure to recognize how leftish and how powerful it is. Hence the constant bemoaning of the sad lot of various underdogs it champions, typically supported by evidence of discrimination or mistreatment mostly from past times, despite pervasive evidence of broad acceptance and even significant favoritism in our own time. Trumpism seems largely to be a reaction to this shift. Neither the old nor the new establishment have represented true majorities, but to a high degree they have determined what everyone has to do, and increasingly, it seems, what everyone must think.

    Andy 9:05 AM  

    LOVED Rex's rant. Dont let the bastards get you down, Rex. Keep up the passion. Screw 'em if they cant take a joke. I dont always agree with you, but it's a guaranteed interesting read. And I agree -- the puzzle DID come off like an old white man wrote it.

    Bob Mills 9:07 AM  

    Aced it, but only after changing "TIMID" to "STOIC" at 20-Across. Some nasty misdirects here, especially 4-Across and 36-Across.

    pabloinnh 9:14 AM  

    Hooray for us olden white guys! So there. Especially when it makes solving easier.

    The first thing to go in for me was MCKUEN, as somehow I remembered that he wrote "Seasons in the Sun". I must be slightly older than LMS because my crowd thought it was absolute schlock. "We had joy, we had fun/We had hot dogs on a bun" was one of the kinder versions we came up with.

    YESMEN for YEOMEN threw sand in the gears for a while, especially with APSO practically invisible. This is the kind of cluing that belongs here on a Saturday.

    Glad I knew 4RUNNERS, or I'd still be working on this. Great Saturday. Thanks MD.

    GILL I. 9:27 AM  

    This was very hard for me. I had to go skipping around hoping for something. All I seemed to do was fill in the few Esses I found. Tried my usual....get up and move around - go out and smell the fleurs, pet the dog, drink something...nothing seemed to work.
    I always seem to have trouble with Mark Diehl's cluing. He can be fiendish; I'm never on his wavelength.
    I just HAD to Google something just to get started. APSO of all things. I had the largest ? I could write in my empty margins. I so disliked that clue. Did it help? NO. I sorta had MAY for 1A ad for the life of me could not see nor understand YEOMAN. And so the Google story goes. I did manage all the long answers All By Myself so that was good. Good in: I finished all my dinner, COULD I please be excused and by the way the Chianti was way too sweet.
    BABY BIB in a layette? Didn't like the clue for green vegetable CHARD. The CHARDs that I fraternize with have red in them. Why can't I find something to make me smile here....Not my favorite Saturday. Too many of the SNEER STOIC BOOERS MAUL CANT TAKE IT I NEED A HUG and a Saturday pun that made me groan. And I'm a pun lover!
    Oh I hope we have a fun Cinco De Mayo mañana.

    Ando 9:27 AM  

    Why is MICAH "A Minor Prophet" with that capitalization? Was there a symphony about him in that key?

    SouthsideJohnny 9:30 AM  

    Wow, it’s pretty easy to spot when Rex’s rants are completely contrived. However, he had to dig unusually deep this time in order to make up something to find offensive. He’s so much better when he leaves his soap box behind and just offers insightful commentary regarding the quality and not necessarily the content. Too bad. While difficult, this puzzle was reasonably straightforward, without the usual mixture of clues referencing people, places or things that nobody has ever heard of. The constructor should be congratulated, not vilified.

    Question re 4A: How do you get from “Tail end of a dog ?” To APSO ? The question mark in the clue indicates some sort of wordplay, but I don’t get it.

    Birchbark 9:30 AM  

    This is what the PROCEDURE MANUAL is thinking:

    "Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."
    -- Moby Dick, Ch. 135.

    @Rex, beautiful redeployment of Ahab's dying words, and the more profound for aiming them at an okay crossword puzzle.

    TJ 9:31 AM  

    That second THE was what hung me up the longest. My own BIAS that a Times puzzle wouldn't do that, I guess. Some parts including the theme (though changing FOURTH to THE4TH took a bit) came quickly and were pleasant enough, but the slog of that APSO ATEST PHD was painful.

    Who is ALAN Bean? An astronaut? Gotta Google.

    Norm 9:31 AM  

    Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

    Nancy 9:33 AM  

    An epic struggle. I "suffered" exquisitely. And, towards the end, I cheated on the stupid car. Well, what did you expect? It's me, after all.

    I already had ----NERS, so all I had to do was look up Toyota models and find the one that fit. 4RUNNERS!!! Who woulda thunk? That gave me THE 4TH -- an answer I had wanted all along, but was too TIMID to fill in.

    Would that cheat crack open the puzzle for me? Well, I wouldn't have finished without it, but the struggle continued apace. Not ABEAM. SEUSSIsh before SEUSSIAN (WHAT DAT?). PEES before LOOS (37A). CAN'T BREAK before CAN TAKE IT (18D) leading to LEEK before BEET at 42A. GO WITH before BE WITH (53A) leading to BABY BIG before BABY BIB. Huh????

    So many woes! What the heck is a WET NAP, btw? And MCKUEN (31A)may have been a lyricist, but he was no poet! Never even thought of him. More on that soon, in another post. One of the hardest puzzles I've ever done and I enjoyed it in a masochistic sort of way.

    Jacques Brel 9:40 AM  

    Shouldn't Rod MCKUEN be referenced as the person who translated "Le Moribond" into an English version, "Seasons in the Sun"? The lyrics that is, not the music, which remained unchanged. How does the title "Poet" become attached to a translator?

    Anonymous 9:41 AM  

    Most day I disagree, happily, with Rex. Today it is off the charts disagreement. You never heard of Rod McKuen? You find May the 4th be with you passé? You dare characterize and object to old white men references? You don’t know what a procedure manual fevers correctly to? Hang it up Rex.

    Suzie Q 9:48 AM  

    I had a great time with this one esp. when it ended with a pun. Plus one little playful rebus square. Good fun.
    Schlockly as he seems now McKuen was a huge influence on me as a moony teenager teetering on the edge of adulthood ready for love and contemplating The Universe. I'm insulted at derision pointed his way.

    Going from a lighthearted puzzle to Rex's review was jarring. I find such anger and hatred frightening.

    albatross shell 9:49 AM  

    MCKUEN poetry wasn't for me but it certainly was popular and his lyrics were covered by many respected singers. He was an advocate and fund raiser for gay issues. He organized against Anita Bryant anti-gay campaigns. The guy had a rough childhood and was self-taught. Ev en if you do not like his stuff, you should maybe give the person some respect.

    I had ADLIe for fashion lines. I like that answer better, but I finally realized Pacifica was probably a city near SF as well as a radio group and had to change it.

    Initially wrote in four as a rebus, and then changed it to 4/four as a rebus so it then could be read as "may the fours be with you", and then changed it to just 4.

    Failed to get ETON. I thought Radley was a business of some kind and Edon might be a competitor.

    Thought ARETOO should have been ARETO as clued, but depending where you jump in on the to-do, it can go either way.

    Tough, but not as tough as yesterday. Hand up for having _EUSSIAN before getting the answer.
    And why is CANTAKEIT a lousy answer?

    DrBB 9:53 AM  

    Rex mostly covered my complaints list, except the "4": does it count as a DNF if I filled it as a rebus FOURTH instead? My only mistake, but other than that I managed to get through this one in 25:28 which is long for me. And 1A held me back because my fingers refused to type MAY for "could."

    Plus side: I learned Rod McKuen, the most insipid schlock poet of the 70s, wrote that Terry Jacks lyric--who knew? Downside: I now have one of the most annoying and insipid earworms ever visited upon humankind stuck in my head.

    Cassieopia 10:01 AM  

    Given today's thoroughly Rexian review, I feel compelled to post in defense of some fantastic cluing:
    * Heads of Parliament?
    * Makers of fine combs (I wanted Goody or Conair)
    * Tail end of a dog? (thought about hot dogs - "last bite"?)
    * Fashion lines?
    * Person for whom one removes one's hat

    Like @BarbieBarbie, I got the theme first, because clueing on 8A could ONLY be "The 4th" (I had "fourth" in there first - now, *that* would have been rant-worthy). Being a Toyota owner helped too, and the finished pun made me smile.

    Because I'm not willing to spend 4 hours on a Saturday crossword, I resorted to Google (aka "cheated") especially for names. Doing so led to the delightful finding that the author of "From the Terrace" crosses NASSAU, the name of the aircraft company in that movie. I guess crime (aka "cheating") does pay.

    This puzzle would have been impossible for me without the cheats, but oh I loved it. It was fun to solve, the word play was fantastic, and I learned a few things. Not the least of which is that chauvinistic is an adjectived name - thank you @LMS. Off to Google Mr. Chauv.

    And really great puzzle, Mr. Diehl, your work gave me a truly enjoyable Saturday morning. Thank you.

    Nancy 10:01 AM  

    Re: Rod MCKUEN. As an editor at The Literary Guild back in the day, I made the big mistake of choosing a collection of MCKUEN's poetry from the manuscripts stacked up on the readers' shelf. (The rule was you could stand at the shelf all day sampling the fare, but once you took it back to your desk it was yours. No putting it back). It was called "In Someone's Shadow." It was awful.

    Because I wrote my reader's report in the style of a very, very bad MCKUEN poem, I remember my report as though it were yesterday. But it was probably around the early '70s. I can't reproduce my jagged, truncated lines and margins and indentations on this site, because everything will end up flush at the left. But imagine the last 5 words typed one word to a line in a diagonal left to right slant across the page. I'll use / to indicate where each line ends. (This, incidentally, is my favorite of all the reader reports I ever wrote at the Guild):

    Rod Mc-/Kuen's poor excuse/for poetry is/Here/in this collection. Giving/Voice/to all the thoughts of/Sensitive, Alienated/Youth. Thoughts of/Up with love and/Up with Peace and/Down with War and/Selfishness. But/All expressed without/Rhyme/or Form/or Shape/or Rhythm/or a halfway decent/ Ear./ I think this is garbage.

    Anonymous 10:05 AM  

    And a bunch of therapy!

    TomAz 10:17 AM  

    Wow, Rex's review today is off-the-charts bizarre. Hope everything's ok.

    I found this puzzle relatively easy for a Saturday, but I am an old white man who thinks of himself as a political MODERATE and enjoyed a nice bottle of ITALIAN WINE last night (red, not white, though).

    @JacquesBrel 9:40 -- yes, you are correct, MCKUEN merely translated "Le Moribond" rather than wrote it. So if you want full credit for that dreck, have at it.

    I have the same question as @Ando 9:27. why is MICAH "A Minor Prophet" with that capitalization?

    Archerroan 10:22 AM  

    This is my first comment here, and I do so only because I’m appalled at the contempt of this review. I have grown accustomed to the unrelenting snarky tone. Frankly, it is tiresome after awhile. This post, however, is out of line. It is disappointing. It is hateful and mean. I expect this behavior from people like Stephen Miller or Donald Trump, but not from you. I’ve always felt that behind the impatient eye-rolling there is a good heart, a keen mind, and noble instincts. I don’t know where they are now, but I want them back.

    My biggest problem with this puzzle is that the clueing is too cutesy and vague, given the obscurity of the answers. I think the constructor would better serve puzzlers by limiting possibilities more.

    Sgreennyc 10:24 AM  

    What a tedious bore you are Rex.

    dross 10:26 AM  

    Explained: Just saw on TV that May 4 is Star Wars day.

    Anonymous 10:27 AM  

    I'm an Olden Woman, so I didn't find this so challenging. NW fell fast for me, too. HVAC unlocked the NE (I finally had to install it in my Olden House), and I thus realized it couldn't be "Fourth", had to be "The 4th", so that kind of jet-propelled the rest,
    although I didn't get the pun until the end, Doh. Unlike Rex, I thought the pun was kind of sweet, though, and tidy. As a grandma, Baby Bib was obvious to me, so was Italian wine, and once I got "wine" the whole lower central section filled itself in. I also have to say it is refreshing for us White Walkers to have a puzzle with no rap, rock, or other music references; no TV shows or actors, and so on, even with the ghastly McKuen.
    That said, Rex, yeah the 50s did truly suck. I was there.

    Sam Ridley 10:32 AM  

    I've said this before here...there is a difference in Rex critiquing a puzzle without making it personal and the people who [continue to] read his blog, then come here and personally attack HIM for his critique. See the difference? Many of you pretend to be righteously indignant by saying Rex is "spewing vitriol" while he critiques a PUZZLE...meanwhile, you spew vitriol at HIM for doing what he is supposed to be doing. He critiques a puzzle without personally attacking the personally attack the person critiquing.

    Further, many of you continue to complain that "it's just a puzzle, Rex, get over it." But you don't take your own advice (shocking). It is just a puzzle...why would you defend it so? Is your identity completely wrapped up in it so much that you feel the need to attack Rex in defense of the grid you love so much? And really, do you love the grid that much? Cuz if you do, you got deeper issues than anything you accuse Rex of.

    As for his opinions about Old White Man, again, are you so fragile that you feel the need to take offense at some semi-anonymous blogger's opinion about if it matters at all? Do you think he's talking to you? He doesn't even know you. If you are OWM, maybe even proud of it, then why give a single f*ck what he writes about old white men...seriously, why do you think he's speaking right at you? Don't flatter yourself...everyday that he sits at his kitchen table plunking out words on his keyboard...he isn't thinking about YOU. YOU are nowhere near his mind (though some of you might think you are). Narcissist much?

    I also think many of you should just take a casual stroll through the comments section, notice today in particular around 12:56AM and 1:19AM...the opinions in the comments here are all over the map...from the worst puzzle to the greatest...and then when someone takes issue with another's opinion, they go on the attack as though an opinion from random internet poster can sear deep into one's heart and plunk out truth that is to remain hidden at all costs. Sometimes I wonder...methinks the lady doth protest too much.

    The comments here are nothing more than opinions. Only a few know who the others are, the rest of the opinions are anonymous. Don't take everything so damned personally.

    Good grief. It's just a puzzle. If you don't like Rex's opinions, why do you read them? What's in it for you? On behalf of every normal, sane, rational, xword loving poster here, I say chill or GTFO.

    Z 10:45 AM  

    @Commentariat - Let me suggest that you reconsider Rex’s write-up, what he is actually criticizing, and the source of the coup de grâce. If you are so certain that all that is there is vitriol you might miss some truly wonderful social commentary (wonderful in the sense of technique). Consider the opening paragraph with This one holds up OK as just a plain Saturday—I knew from the constructor's name that it would be tough and old (out of my wheelhouse), but probably solid. And I was right on all counts. If that’s “vitriol” what does a compliment require?

    MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU has gone from cute insidery joke to internet meme to so ubiquitous that baseball teams host May the Fourth Star War nights. When Rex wrote, “insultingly trite and dumb—the worst, corniest, no-longer fresh or cute pun that internet fandom ever created,” I was nodding my head. The superlatives are wrong only because our capacity for corn and trite seems infinite. Using it any way but ironically in 2019 immediately costs you every piece of cultural hipness you may have ever acquired. Credit for running this on the right day. Double demerits for running it about a decade too late.

    Terry Jacks I remembered. That the song was written by Rod MCKUEN is something I never knew. Absolutely agree with Rex’s caption. If you weren’t there it is really hard to explain that decade. As for that song, so deep. Compare with this. Warning, have something nearby to cheer you up afterwards.

    Yes, I had to stop my teeth from grinding at the BALANCED BUDGETS clue, reminding myself that actual fiscal conservatives do believe in them.

    @albatross shell late yesterday - You’re welcome, but all I did was embed the link. At least two anonymous posters had posted links to the song, but with just the bare url, so I assumed it was worth making more accessible.

    Anonymous 10:53 AM  

    APOO for "Tail end of a dog?" appealed to me more (cockapoo as well as the dog's "business")---missed opportunity!

    Klazzic 10:53 AM  

    And a good morning to you, grumpy. My day is never complete without a Parkerian tirade. Kind of agree with you, though, Rexxy boy.
    Add Star Wars clues, along with rap artists (oxymoron, anyone?) to the garbage heap. MAY is verrrry weak for 'could'. Did enjoy cluing for PHD. "4" didn't bother me, either. But c'mon, son, you teach collegiate English and have never heard of Rod McKuen? Shame on you.
    Going to D.C. for first ever visit. I'm excited. May clean out the swamp while I'm there.

    Katzzz 10:55 AM  

    Rex being Rex. He managed to up the hate today, no easy task. Love it.

    Dexter Green 10:59 AM  

    @Jacques Brel Tail end of a dog? is a play on the last part of a dog's breed, which in this case is a Lhasa Apso, the tail end of the name is apso.

    floatingboy 11:01 AM  

    Finished it eventually but, COME ON! Challenging in a not-fun kind of way.

    Skip Stiles 11:02 AM  

    I solved this while drinking instant coffee laced with Splenda, sitting in my BarcaLounger smoking Marlboro Lights. In my underwear. After I mow the lawn I’ll have a few Bud Lites while watching Fox News. Then I’ll go bowling with my buddies, all of whom are white men in their 60s and 70s. We’ll probably have more Bud Lites and we wear red MAGA hats. Will be in bed by 10. Tomorrow: rinse and repeat.

    I haven’t read a book in years.

    Fountains of Golden Fluids 11:05 AM  

    Does anyone remember laughter?

    Whatsername 11:06 AM  

    I don’t comment every day but after reading so many negative posts and especially Rex’s horrific blog writeup, I wanted to just say a word in defense of this puzzle. I thought it was really and loved the clever little punny wish. I have no problem at all with a theme on Saturday, especially when this one could ONLY have meaning if run on this specific date. Very nicely done, thanks Mark.

    Charles Hartshorn 11:07 AM  

    Oh god, another anecdote from the publishing days.

    Escalator 11:10 AM  

    When was the last time a this case 4.....was in a puzzle? I cannot remember there EVER being a number 😯

    Master Melvin 11:12 AM  

    Ando & TomAz: The books of prophecy in the Hebrew Bible are usually divided into two categories: four Major Prophets and 12 Minor Prophets. The latter, including Micah, are much shorter books.

    webwinger 11:12 AM  

    Having read more in the comments above, I now understand the relevance of this puzzle's appearance on this date (May the 4th), and realize that the reference is already hackneyed...

    Add me to those wondering why Micah is "A Minor Prophet".

    Hartley70 11:12 AM  

    This was very challenging for me and I loved it. I wandered around the grid for the longest time looking for a toehold. WITH and COLESLAW got me in the door but I struggled with the clueing in the most frustrating way. I got a big kick out of the totally unexpected theme and numerical surprise. TSAAGENT and NEONS were tough. MCKUEN was in my memory bank although I haven’t withdrawn old Rod in 45 years. Just the though feels musty.

    @puzzlehoarder, care to share the name of the good surgeon? It does make all the difference. I’m glad to hear you found a wizard this time!

    ghostoflectricity 11:13 AM  

    Agree with everything Rex said; would add the following:

    1) WTF is a "procedure manual"? I've heard of other business- and organizational-environment manuals, including conceivably a "procedurAL manual," but never a "procedure manual."
    2) No one needs to be reminded of Terry Jacks's 1974 schlock-fest.
    3) Could we please have a moratorium of, say two or three centuries on NYT puzzles using "send" as a synonym for "thrill" or "elate"? AFAIAC, the only legitimate reference to "send" in this context for the rest of my life is the late, great Sam Cooke's song.

    kgev 11:17 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Joe Dipinto 11:28 AM  

    Jean, Jean, roses are red
    All the leaves have gone green
    And the clouds are so low
    You can touch them, and so
    Come out to the meadow, Jean

    -- from a 1969 Best Song Oscar loser.

    Chim cham 11:28 AM  

    Here here

    QuasiMojo 11:32 AM  

    @Nancy, thanks for the chuckles. McKuen was a reflection of his times. I’d love to read your margin notes on Rupi Kaur.

    Lynx 11:38 AM  

    I'm olden enough but still found it challenging. Sometimes, you can't catch a break. Anyone else have SEUSS*IST*? That mistake completely tore me down.

    jberg 11:41 AM  

    Tough puzzle for me. Made tougher because of my stubborn old-manish grammar stickliness. I just couldn't bring myself to write in MAY when the clue was in the conditional. As an earlier commenter pointed out, in colloquial English 'could we' is the same as 'may we,' but that didn't occur to me while solving.

    What saved me was all the 50-60-year-old literary references. I knew OHARA and INGE instantly, and saw MEKUEN after I had a few crosses -- no idea about or memory of the song, but his books were everywhere. In 1970, as I was spending a few months behind bars as a result of some anti-war activity , many of my fellow inmates passed around one of his books for the purpose of plagiarizing love letters to their girlfriends. I've never read a word of him myself.

    I have read Moby Dick, but long ago, so I didn't recognize @Rex's quotation. It does put a new light on things. I'm not sure if he's winding us up, or satirizing his own obsessiveness.

    I first disliked, but eventually grew fond of, the meta-ness of cluing 55A by a reference to itself. As for whether the pun is old and trite, well perhaps -- but it doesn't work in a puzzle UNLESS it's so well-known that, well, it's known to everyone. So I enjoyed it, when I finally got it.

    Since nobody has mentioned it, I'm guessing that those who put in SEUSSical may not have realized that they were inspired by Seussical the Musical--if you're anywhere near Ottawa, there are a couple of performances coming up later this month.

    @southside -- it's because the full name of the dog is Lhasa APSO, so the second word is the name's tail end.

    Joaquin 11:43 AM  

    I have a question for @Skip Stiles: How can you stay up so late?

    VictorS 12:04 PM  

    It’s Star Wars day -May 4th (May the fourth (force) be with you. I am a middle aged Caucasian male and I know this. The puzzleverse is diverse and while often puzzles are published far from the appropriate day this is spot on. Rex -because you don’t know something doesn’t mean others don’t either. Part of the fun for me is to learn new things. For example I can sing seasons in the sun but never knew rod mckuen wrote it (though I did know who rod mckuen was)

    Skip Styles 12:06 PM  

    @Joaquin, I have the constitution of a bull moose!

    Molasses 12:07 PM  

    I was grateful for the theme answers, because for a long time they were the only part of the puzzle I was confident about. Misplaced confidence, as it turns out, because I had fourth instead of THE4TH. I still get a smile from May the Fourth Be With You, corny and old as it is. I saw the teaser for the final Star Wars movie when I went to see the final Avengers movie yesterday. Here in Arizona, we're usually more excited about Cinco de Mayo than the 4th, but any excuse for a holiday. If I lived in New York, I might go to one of the library events Boba Fett's link told us about.

    Laird McGill 12:08 PM  

    @Charles Hartshorn, yes it gets most tedious.

    Newboy 12:10 PM  

    First DNF of 2019; done in by that wagging A??O. Still a WHOLE BIT of fun for this ole white guy. Strongest agreement with Sam’s “Good grief. It's just a puzzle. If you don't like Rex's opinions, why do you read them? What's in it for you? On behalf of every normal, sane, rational, xword loving poster here, I say chill or GTFO. 10:32 AM”

    Best to keep in mind Rex Parker is no more real than Willie Wonka whose offbeat creativity I find equally amusing .

    Anonymous 12:14 PM  

    I also assumed "A Minor Prophet" had to be a composer. Fire the editor and proofreader.

    I knew Rob McKuen was the poet of the schlocky hit "Seasons in the Sun" but I"m a terrible speller & couldn't remember what his last name looked like. MacEwen, McQuean? Both too long...

    He was very popular and also considered to be an abomination by people who'd read Yeats, T.S. Eliot, or even Robert Frost.

    anon 12:14 PM  

    C’mon, he’s just being a Moby-Dick today.

    Scott Thomas 12:15 PM  

    Minor Prophets -- the capitalization is because the 12 of them are a recognized group in biblical studies, like the Apostles. (They're Minor because their books are short, BTW, not because they're inconsequential. Micah rules, actually.)

    Swagomatic 12:17 PM  

    As an old white guy, I am a little bit offended. As a first generation Star Wars fan, I enjoyed the puzzle. But I could do without the insults.

    Pam Fletcher 12:17 PM  

    Thank goodness for McKuen - it was the only one i got at first. Dating myself?! Haha.

    Runs with Scissors 12:17 PM  

    Tough, fair cluing for a Saturday, had one heck of a time seeing the theme.

    Kinda had to chuckle at THE UNIVERSE sitting right there and thumbing its colossal nose at you.

    WRIEST, not so much as clued.

    All those offended by BALANCED BUDGETS need to go back and reread the clue. It’s a fiscal conservative’s goal, which has nothing to do with which flavor of Republicrat or Democan you are.

    Started this last night, put it to sleep and resumed this morning. After reviewing the PROCEDURE MANUAL for puzzles I’m not gonna be one of the BOOERS for this one. Enjoyed it, it put up a fight.

    Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

    FrankStein 12:19 PM  

    Not sure but I took it as meaning Micah lived in Asia Minor?

    Sam Ridley 12:29 PM  

    Whatshername, it’s just a puzzle, why does it need defending? Is it under attack? Did it get its feelings hurt? Do you have some kind of investment in its happiness?

    I think it’s great you have an opinion about it. Just share the opinion and let it go.

    This is true of the countless others who feel like Rex has taken a dump on this poor puzzle (like many other puzzles) but can’t help themselves to continually read his blog.

    If you don’t like miracle whip on your PBnJ, would you keep slathering it on? If you don’t like Rex or what he has to say, simply stop the same way you’d stop with the miracle whip. It seems so amazingly simple, and yet not.

    Anonymous 12:29 PM  

    hated this. maybe because seasons in the sun is the cheesiest song ever, or maybe because I stink at nautical clues

    Nancy 12:30 PM  

    @jberg (11:41) -- You would have been a hero to me in 1969 and you're a hero to me today. I knew someone who got Maced in an anti-Vietnam War protest, but I don't think I've ever known anyone who was jailed. And not just overnight, either, it seems. Bravo for having that kind of courage. People like you were instrumental in finally, belatedly, ending that immoral and tragic war.

    If I lived near Cambridge, I would find it interesting to attend that event. I'm sure that in your case it will bring back a lot of youthful memories and rekindle OLDEN friendships.

    TomAz 12:34 PM  

    @Master Melvin -- thank you for your explanation, but I think I already understood why Micah is a "minor prophet"; I just don't understand why he is a "Minor Prophet".

    @Sam Ridley -- Physician, heal thyself.

    Michael5000 12:36 PM  

    You are being deeply disingenuous. If not in on what I truly hope is the joke, the actual human being who created the puzzle will obviously find this kind of critique not only personal, as it is directed at their own creation, but probably also rather traumatizing. What is the point in pretending otherwise?

    It is aside the point but relevant that today's entry does in fact kick off with a personal slur at the author.

    It's only a puzzle... AND yet it's frustrating that someone who regularly berates the puzzle for not attracting a greater diversity of creators also fosters such a toxic critical environment. Hard to get excited about sending in a puzzle, knowing that it will be subjected to this level of abuse.

    Uncle Alvarez 12:38 PM  

    @Sam Ridley, we get it dude. Why do you keep flogging a dead horse?

    Janice 12:38 PM  

    If you’re all so bothered by Rex’s snark/vitriol/ranting, then why are you here? Life’s’s Saturday...go do something fun.

    Anonymous 12:46 PM  

    May the Fourth be with you? Are you kidding me? Like I have a choice other than sleeping through it thanks to some sort of drug-induced stupor or worse? I used to own a Lhasa Apso and it took forever to get the S.
    So many clues in this puzzle just weren't written for someone like me, and I'm getting to be an older white guy. I'm starting to hope Will Shortz retires soon. The NY Times needs some new blood. This may be an instance of be careful what you wish for. Even so, Shortz's cutesy style has never appealed to me.

    Hot tip 12:46 PM  

    For @Masked 'n' Anonymous: check out today's WJS puz. One of the themers, 99A, got a hearty Har out of me.

    nyc_lo 12:49 PM  

    The Fourth is definitely not with Rex today, but we love him anyway. I live in a state where people tell me to have a blessed day whether I’ve sneezed or not, so I look forward to today being able to respond “May the Fourth be with you.” And it’s doubly warranted as a theme given the recent loss of Peter Mayhew.

    I am also most decidedly old since MCKUEN was the first answer I filled in and served as a linchpin for the whole puzzle.

    CDilly52 12:49 PM  

    LOL! And I am an OLDEN white woman, for whom the clues were challenging but within the wheelhouse 😊

    bagelboy 12:50 PM  

    As an old white guy, i rather enjoyed this. Tough start, but once i filled in the themes it all came together. Had OPERATING before PROCEDURE. Last areas to fall for me CANTAKEIT/SEUSSIAN/OURTEAM/BIAS/BEES. Not hard for a Saturday.

    Wood 12:58 PM  

    Keep at it! I remember when a Saturday solve was a rare triumph... Now DNFs are rare for me, and I average around 30 mins. It really is an acquired skill.

    Wood 1:02 PM  


    Fred Romagnolo 1:03 PM  

    Some of you seem to think that Rex's tirades are a put on. Why would anyone pretend to be like that?

    Wood 1:06 PM  

    The funny thing is, @Rex is not that young. I detect a hint of self-loathing in his constant MASCUCAUCAGISM.

    Hartley70 1:06 PM  

    @Jberg, oh yes ‘69-70 were incredible years to be students in Boston. Sorry to see you spent time in the pokey, but I’m sure you weren’t alone (or reading Rod MCKUEN).

    @Nancy, that was a fun report to write then and read now.

    Wood 1:09 PM  

    I didn't know what a layette is, and had B_B_B_B. Could NOT imagine what could fit there.

    Wood 1:13 PM  

    I wondered about that too. Obscure musical reference? I'm pretty up on my operas and oratorios, and this does not ring a bell.

    The Joker 1:14 PM  

    Loved the puzzle and especially 21A, WETNAP. It brought back memories of puberty.

    Wood 1:19 PM  

    It does count as a DNF, cuz FOURTHRUNNERS doesn't work for 12D.

    Ethan Taliesin 1:27 PM  

    Fits and starts, then more fits and starts.

    Had the Bongrippper album Satan Worshiping Doom going on in the background and completed the grid right when the album ended. Suffice it to say, I was slow. (Maybe that's just not good crosswording music)

    Joe Bleaux 1:49 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    70 in nampa 2:02 PM  

    Thursday time for me, probably because I'm a 70 year "olden" conservative white male.

    tea73 2:16 PM  

    I am old enough that we knew Rod McKuen was schlocky, but we secretly liked him anyway. I didn't know anything about his biography, I am impressed.

    Back in the late 60s and early 70s we lived in DC. My parents used to go down to the jails and put up bail for the kids who'd been arrested at demonstrations. A lot of them also ended up spending the night camped out in our basement. It's funny because they always seemed like such MODERATES.

    Susanna 2:41 PM  

    Well. We loved it. McKuen was the first answer I put in the puzzle. Had his books back in the day. I’m not an old white male. Got a kick out of the theme. Especially since Chewie has left us. :( in any case, May the 4th be with you.

    Wood 3:12 PM  

    It occurs to me that the puzzle would have been more fun if the clue for YOU wasn't a revealer. People aren't expecting a theme in Saturdays anyway... Why not let the pun remain a hidden Easter egg for the observant?

    Anonymous 3:13 PM  

    why are you always so negative
    sort a take the fun out of

    David 3:22 PM  

    This old white man wasn't much helped by the clues. Can't get into Rex's rant today, I have too many of my own.

    Having the Universe under the force is a good move.

    Have no memory of that song, or who wrote it, but McKuen was pretty big then. Kids my age (mid-teens), especially boys, found him sappy and silly. Then some of us grew up to be more thoughtful when expressing opinions about artists.

    Learned new words today: wriest in that sense and layette. Words that make me smile: beet, chard, abeam, sidle. I always love it when Inge edges out Agee in the NYTimes xwords. And thanks for the lesson on Minor Prophets, @Ando.

    Yes, we have a procedure manual at work. Google it Rex, it's a real thing.

    This one was pretty hard for me, maybe because I did tomorrow's puzzle first. In the end I thought it was pretty good despite the cheesy theme. And "four" as a rebus didn't work on the app. Interesting.

    David 3:31 PM  

    Oh my, how could have blanked on that? May 4th may be Star Wars day to younger kids; to many of us oldsters we remember it as the day part of our government killed 4 young protesters at Kent State. (sometimes belatedly as we get older)

    Read up on it. It CAN happen again.

    OffTheGrid 3:36 PM  

    I want to emphasize what WOOD said about 4RUNNER. That is the name of the car(SUV), with a numeral 4. There is no "four" rebus no matter how much you might want it. I put COROLLAS in before I got 8A.

    and fwiw, it's hear hear, not here here

    Joaquin 3:41 PM  

    @ Skip Stiles - Touché!

    webwinger 3:48 PM  

    I’m inspired (if that’s the right word) to post a third time today, after reading comments by @jberg and @Nancy above. I didn’t personally suffer for my anti-war views in the 1960s and 70s, but I knew and cared about and still respect many who did. Yet I have come to believe our protest movement, the direct ancestor of today’s “resistance”, did not shorten American involvement in Vietnam, and if anything helped prolong it. The key moments, to my memory, came in the spring of 1970, when Nixon, realizing his strategy, like Johnson’s, was doomed to failure, took the appalling step of extending the conflict into Cambodia, which led to, among other things, increased pressure from student activists, soon culminating in confrontation with the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University (less than an hour drive from my own college campus) that left four entirely innocent young people dead at the hands of their own government (to this day the most shocking insult to America’s ideals I have witnessed).

    Popular sentiment after this actually swung against the protest movement, strengthening the resolve of the “establishment” to pursue its misguided war with even greater determination. Despite there still being no real hope of “victory”, It was five more years before the US finally and completely was out of Vietnam. We are now of course the best of friends with that country’s people, whose government has evolved greatly but was never overthrown. Over fifty thousand Americans and countless Asians dead in pursuit of a good outcome that should have been achievable without a single shot being fired.

    Perhaps the greatest and most lasting impact has been the contribution of that collective experience to our own ever-growing distrust of and contempt for our government and fellow citizens, with changing trends depending on who at a given time seems to hold the reins of power.

    My point (and much appreciation if you are still with me here) is that the best strategy in general (as applicable today as it was 50 years ago) is probably to look hard for common ground and to envision harmonious outcomes that we can work together toward. Fantasy? Naivete? Maybe, but I have lost almost all enthusiasm for fighting even good fights.

    PS--I read that Rod McKuen, though not openly gay, was an early big supporter of LGBT causes. A good example of how someone who seems deserving of scorn in obvious ways can also be worthy of genuine respect in others.

    webwinger 3:52 PM  

    Wow! Just read comment from @David above. How eerie that today is the 49th anniversary of the Kent State tragedy.

    Marc Kwiatkowski 4:18 PM  

    Lately it seems like the comments here are far more MODERATE and informative than OFL's triggered rants. I had the same confusion about MCKUEN as JacquesBrel and TomAZ. Le Moribond/Seasons in the Sun is possibly the most maudlin song every written, in either French or English. I recall hearing it on my old Panasonic Panapet R-70 radio in THE4TH grade and sinking into a well of depression. Other than that imprecise clue I thought the puzzle was strong and challenging.

    Thanks to Minor Melvin and Scott Thomas for the explanation of the capitalization of Minor Prophet

    amyyanni 4:22 PM  

    You are spot on. Thank you.

    amyyanni 4:25 PM  

    Lol. I lived through the Rod McKuen craze. Your review is priceless.

    Karl 5:20 PM  

    Thought the cluing was rather lame. And Terry Jacks? Worst. Song. Ever. Why did they have to dredge up this heinous relic? There is a reason Terry was a one-hit wonder.

    sanfranman59 5:24 PM  

    Good grief, Rex ... I'm very grateful for your blog and, especially, the thoughts of the commenters here. But if you're expressing your true feelings about the puzzles and not just practicing your rabble-rousing skills, you really should consider a different hobby.

    For some of us of a certain age who actually enjoyed this puzzle, your scathing review was insulting.

    Unknown 6:06 PM  

    And after I finished I expected Rex to rate this Very Easy. I almost never finish a Saturday but this came in around a Wednesday time for me. It all depends on what’s in your wheelhouse. Rex can boo but he boos at almost everything. If a puzzle is hard it just means you have to work at it. Rex hates work, he just wants to feel smart.
    Oh well, I enjoyed it and that’s all I need.

    Anonymous 6:12 PM  

    @MarcKwiatkwski: Seasons in the Sun and "Honey" (Bobby Goldsboro sang it) are tie for me in the Maudlin category! --ChrisP in AA

    Anonymous 6:56 PM  

    Thanks for the wonderful puzzle Mr. Diehl. I thougnt it was grand.
    As for Rex's crticism, it was off base. Its sprnkled with smug superilrity, like the facebook friends dig. Thats not criticism, thats snark. And oh my, what wild claims he makes about moderates' motivation and what conservatives believe.
    I get that he kneels at the altar of modern liberalism, but his claims about the other side of the aisle are mostly just a way to shut down those with a different politcal bent.

    jberg 8:14 PM  

    @webwinger, I have to admit that I, too, thought that”A Minor” must refer to some Handel oratorio in that key (even though the convention is to write A Major but A minor), but apparently the 12 Minor Prophets in the OT are a thing, and therefore a proper noun.

    jberg 8:15 PM  

    @ghost, sure, but isn’t Sam Cooke enough?

    jberg 8:20 PM  


    Awww, thanks (blushes).

    As for the event, it was last month.

    jberg 8:35 PM  

    I'm gonna cheat and make a fourth comment (or has that rule gone by the wayside anyway?) about the whole Jacques Brel thing. Two points:

    1) A translator of poetry is a poet. You can't just do a word-for-word translation; you have to come up with something that's poetic in the new language. The most famous example would be "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam;" what everyone know is the Fitzgerald translation which might as well be original poetry by Fitzgerald. Also, the clue says poet/lyricist because, however you count those lyrics, he was a poet independently of that.

    2) According to Wikipedia, McKuen's translations of "the obscure Belgian songwriter" were what made Jacques Brel famous.

    So I'm happy to sneer at McKuen for his poetry (never read him, I'm just believing @Nancy), but if you like Brel, he gets some credit for that.

    Dan 9:01 PM  


    terrible theme. really trying hard to cram in that theme, eh? if you're not doing a number-themed puzzle, don't use a single number as an escape hatch just because you can't otherwise make your puzzle work.

    terrible cluing too. APSO is the tail end of a lot of dogs, but not just 'a' dog. "Space for everything"? really? and unlike many people here I thought "Fashion lines" was not that great a clue. ADLIBbing happens on the spur of the moment, but poets and writers fashion their lines too (just a lot more deliberately). And do I really have to say anything at all about 55A?

    the fill was mostly fine, though I'm sad as always to see ATEST (or its pal NTEST) which I've never encountered outside of crossword puzzles.

    GILL I. 9:05 PM  

    I come here because of some of the most interesting bloggers I've had the pleasure of reading. It seems like every day/month/hour? someone new chimes in, stays around and inevitably makes me smile or learn something new. We have @CDilly 52 with her wonderful stories, @albatross shell and Mr. Runs With Scissors who lives with Mickey in Orange and well...several others. (I wish you'd all get an avatar). Then we have those of us who have "toughed" it out; stayed for the fun of puzzles. You know who you are.... @Loren and @Lewis put things Into interesting perspectives and life goes on.
    I've never met @Rex but I've had several occasions where I've contacted him on a problem/concern or two. He has ALWAYS been polite and promptly answered me. Sometimes I do wonder if Will's pup took a dump on his lawn. There is animosity but I truly believe it stems from many a stale/biased/Maleska era style puzzle. I agree with him many times. Today.....he was mean. I don't think it was a direct attack on the constructor; maybe the ambience of todays political discord. Words...a answer..obviously cause the head explosion. I don't think it belongs here but it's not my blog. If he's serving over cooked lamb chops at his house and I'm sitting at his table, I'll eat them. If I truly like the company he keeps and his door is open, I'll go back. It's my option.......
    Peace and Kumbaya and all that.

    Sunnyvale Solver 9:49 PM  

    I found Rex's commentary especially ill-tempered today. I played the Terry Jacks song and then Rex came off as especially bitter by contrast.

    Didn't know the connection between Rod McKuen and "Seasons in the Sun". That song was such such an incongruous hit. Almost every hit pop song was upbeat ("Love Will Keep Us Together") and then there was this totally lugubrious song, all about death. And it was a huge, huge hit.

    Jim Wilhelm 9:52 PM  

    First time to comment - hey: I am OLDEN (78) and loved this clever puzzle . Should be old enough to have heard puns on ..may the force.. but no. And- I got McKuen right away (old, huh?) But I always thought his stuff was emo treacle ( hey, using emo makes me younger). Thanks Rex, for the blurb. Maybe i should take another look at his work

    JC66 9:57 PM  

    Blogger JC66 said...
    @Gill I

    Well said!

    And 2 paragraphs. ;-)

    Lynx 10:04 PM  

    @Sam Ridley: ditto.

    GILL I. 10:13 PM  

    @JC66. Well I'm pretty sure I didn't mean "interesting bloggers" but those that bother to read me kinda know my dyslexic meanings.... (I hope)
    You know, if I put my head to it, I can indent...... :-). Talisker?

    Runs with Scissors 10:17 PM  

    @GILL I,

    Actually, Mickey (via a Mr. Walt Disney) built his house in Anaheim. Orange County. :-]>

    CT 12:01 AM  

    How today was received, as per my text history:

    Me: "I hated that puzzle so much."
    Them: "I literally have my phone open to text you about how much I hated the puzzle. "

    kitshef 8:22 AM  

    @Sunnyvale Solver-

    Funny, I recall '74 as a year when there was just a ton of downer music: Billy Don't be a Hero, The Way We Were, I Shot the Sheriff, Cat's in the Cradle, Havin' My Baby.

    DeeJay 8:48 AM  

    Excuse me, worst puzzle EVER?

    This blog is unfortunately like our world at large.

    Bunch of haters gathering together to s*** on Will Shortz.

    If you're all so upset, please please please stop this nonsense and do something constructive.

    BTW, I have in the past recommended this blog for solvers, especially new solvers. I will no longer do that.

    Kb 11:31 AM  

    Ah, Dickensian. We Galvestonians celebrate his works with an annual festival. My favorite was when my 6 year old and I went as very sooty chimney sweeps. For once, the crowd parted for us.
    I liked the puzzle but I could not get on Mr. Diehl's wavelength. I had to cheat for several answers. And I do wish he had used month or Theresa for 1A. Like Pete, I have childhood scars that made me shudder to enter MAY.

    Bob D 8:24 PM  

    Rex--Although I usually agree with your comments, it's hard to believe that you aren't familiar with "bedroll". It is a common term in hundreds of cowboy movies. Randolph Scott and John Wayne frequently slept on their bedrolls when on the trail.

    Space Is Deep 5:03 AM  

    Very difficult for me. Took me three days, but I finally got it. At least I got satisfaction from that.

    a.corn 9:49 PM  

    Ha! Thx for this. I mean 4 this?

    spacecraft 11:02 AM  

    I must side with the BOOERS. But in a way opposite to OFC: I tore through this in less than "4" Rexes. speaking of which, I do agree with him on that numeral: I'm STOIC; I CANTAKEIT. The car is known--and printed--as "4RUNNER." No probs there.

    However, I have to disagree about the fill. After yet another ATEST and THE double THE's, I felt: INEEDAHUG. Plus the long stuff--not involved in the theme--was about as exciting as a boardroom meeting. I got the impression that this puzzle was built solely to introduce a perfectly marvelous word: SEUSSIAN. wonderfully descriptive. It stands out amid all this other gray stuff.

    The RPR (random playground retort, for those of YOU who forgot) at 40 down should have been clued: "Playground retort that sounds like a character suggested by today's theme." Okay, maybe not. As long as we're skewing OLDEN, let's make Maureen OHARA the DOD. SEUSSIAN provides the "sand save" for this potential bogey: par.

    Anonymous 11:43 AM  

    This OWG found the puzzle pisser laden. Rejected.

    Burma Shave 12:33 PM  


    and WE MAY ORE MAY not fake IT.
    COULDWE LATELY have guessed


    rondo 1:15 PM  

    I couldn't make much of a DENT in that NW corner until I got the rest of the puz filled in and the 55a clue got me to realize MAY and that helped wrap it up.

    That Terry Jacks song was played to death. Har. If I ever knew that Rod MCKUEN wrote it, I've surely forgotten that. And how to spell his name, conflating it with Marshall McLuhan didn't help there.

    Jorja Fox as Sara SIDLE. Yeah BABY.

    Didn't hate the WHOLEBIT as much as OFL.

    Diana,LIW 1:42 PM  

    The YEsMEN messed up my PRsCE***MANUAL - the reason I don't have a business and I didn't correctly complete this puzzle. Funny how making errors makes puzzles fun for me.

    Of course, I could care less about "time" and such. I just don't understand "timing" puzzle completion.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords because they just are fun

    leftcoast 2:54 PM  

    Have to go with Rex on this one, with it surprisingly Saturday theme, tired pun, and somewhat klutzy fill. Made a small DENT in it before giving it up.

    Anonymous 3:30 PM  

    Isn't Michael the guy who regularly blames his solving times on a couple drinks earlier or too msny the night before? The same guy who presents his bubble as the right side of history, centrist? Sad, transparent and embarrassing.

    rain forest 4:40 PM  

    Well, I liked this a lot, even though I feel I should apologize on behalf of all Canadians for 'Seasons In The Sun'. Absolutely hated that one. Still do.

    A groaner of a pun on a Saturday. Who'da thunk it? But as M&A says, "Different, and I like different". By the way where *is* he?

    Another question: I got AD LIB, but I don't understand it.

    Got the NW lickety-split and then screeched to a halt for a period of time. Overall, medium-challenging, and enjoyable.

    rondo 5:26 PM  

    @rainy - fashion = to make (or make up). Fashion lines = to make up lines or AD LIB

    Rick J 10:53 AM  

    Surprised at Rex's vitriol? Yes, I'm new to this blog. I don't know why, but I expected better. He certainly knows crosswords, however, so I can deal with his igno-liberal blather with a knowing old white guy smile!

    Rick J 11:00 AM  

    Is Seussian a word in our quadrant (of the galaxy)?

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