Old boosted rocket stages / SAT 6-22-19 / Media big Zuckerman / Either constituent of table salt / They might work on something for 60 seconds / Sci-fi autho Simmons with 1989 Hugo-winning novel Hyperion

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Constructor: Joe Deeney

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (6:19)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: AGENAS (43D: Old boosted rocket stages) —

noun Rocketry.

a U.S. upper stage, with a restartable liquid-propellant engine, used with variousbooster stages to launch satellites into orbit around the earth and send probes to the moon and planets: also used as a docking target in the Gemini program. (dictionary.com)
• • •

This puzzle, with its perfectly reasonable, occasionally entertaining grid, was totally ruined by poor editing. Well, it's partially ruined by the constructor, who never ever ever should've included the obscure crosswordese AGENAS in the grid—a grid otherwise so mercifully free of this kind of junk. In fact, ironically, the puzzle suffers precisely because this answer is suuuuuch an outlier, quality-wise. The obvious fix here (and why did no one see it) is to make it ARENAS and then change SORTA to TORTA (and please, please don't tell me TORTA is obscure, because, I guarantee you, using whatever metric of obscurity you want, it is not more obscure than AGENAS!). So you could've had TORTA / TAR / ARENAS. Bing bang boom, done. But no. It's AGENAS. Ugh. OK, so even then, it's not sooooo bad. All you have to do is give SAG a reasonable clue. That's a common word, shouldn't be too hard. What? What's that you say? You think it's very very cute to duplicate successive Across clues (even though many / most solvers don't solve by reading clues in order)? And you would like to do that little cutesy gimmicky thing here? Here? Where you're already dealing with the AGENAS Situation (as it has come to be known)? You love Reagan soooooo much that you want to do a little two-clue tribute to him? Here? Here? Honestly, the bad judgment is mind-boggling.  Bad enough to think a very fine word like HIRES should be clued as HI hyphen RES (ugh x 1000) (26D: Crystal clear, as an image), now you want to clue SAG as an acronym? (Screen Actors Guild). This is negligence. To misjudge the situation this badly, to overestimate the power of your own cleverness so profoundly, after failing to see the TORTA Solution (as it has come to be known) in the first place. Exceedingly, painfully, predictably, the first Twitter comments on this puzzle (negative *and* positive reviews) go Right To This Part of The Grid and flag it as a problem. Everyone can see it. Why can't the editor? Lesson for constructors: give your editor as little room to f*** up as possible by not putting gunk like AGENAS in any puzzle you make ever, thank you.

I really hope you know your opera terms, because I can easily see someone's deciding that 40A: Handles with care? (PET NAMES) is PEN NAMES. I knew RECITATIVE (24D: Operatic song-speech), so no problems for me, but it's not exactly ARIA-level familiar to the general population, so it's possible people got tripped. Anytime you try to pull out that "?" clue, it better land beautifully. I don't think [Handles with care?] does, particularly. I honestly first thought that it had to do with actual pets ... for whom, of course, you care. But no, you give someone you *care* about a pet name (perhaps). Not sure why "Come on!" is in the "ASK ANYONE!" clue (25D: "Come on! It's common knowledge!"). Really confused me. I was it was going to be an exhortation to ASK the speaker another, harder question because the first one was a gimme (?). And I really didn't understand the clue 28D: Clickable message at the start of an online TV show (SKIP INTRO). It's not really a "message." It's an option. I'm not being given new information. I'm being given the option of moving ahead. Subtle, important difference. Clue on KICK is dumb because all kinds of proofs of alcohol have KICKs. 100-proof is arbitrary. 80-proof has plenty of KICK (which is about as specific a term as "spiciness"). So, to wrap, grid good, editing less so.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS someone on Twitter just confessed to thinking SOMETIMES Y (16A: Addendum to a common pentad) was one word, pronounced like "old-timey," and now I want it to be a word. "My love for crosswords is SOMETIMESY ... it comes, it goes ..."

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:26 AM  

Tougher than yesterday’s but still pretty easy. stoPS before WRAPS was my biggest hang up.

Needed to stare a bit to parse SOMETIMES Y.

Solid with a zippy NW, liked it.

The author expresses regrets for AGENAS at Xwordinfo and suggests the same changes that @Rex did.

puzzlehoarder 12:35 AM  

An easy Saturday but it gave me an extra 6 minutes of solving over my average Wednesday time which seems to be my current threshold for feeling like I've done a late week puzzle.

The long entries we're lively and while the puzzle wasn't hard to solve I wasn't bored either.

A big factor in why the solve went so smoothly was that just about every entry that turned up in the potential choke points were softballs. ARAMIS, WRAPS, MOTOR and BASTE were all easy pickings.

I did figure out what the Y was doing at the end of 16A before I finished solving. Initially I just knew them birds ain't MINAS so I just threw in the Y and kept going.

A special thank you to whoever pointed out that TIP ONEILL has two Ls when I saw ONEIL next to TIP earlier in the month. I would have figured out the extra L anyway but knowing it outright made the entry go in that much faster.

Melrose 12:43 AM  

Yup, got everything except the g in agena. Sounds familiar now that I see it, but never would have remembered. Otherwise easier than the usual Saturday.

JOHN X 12:54 AM  

Hey Rex,

AGENAS was my favorite answer, if we're keeping score of such things. It was a very versatile flight vehicle with a long career, and an important part of Project Gemini.



Wood 1:28 AM  

Just shy of my Saturday record time. Flew through in a counterclockwise fashion with most of the 9's going in without crosses. What little resistance there was happened in the NE (CASTS LOTS, MAMA BEARS). And the G of AGENAS was the last square. Agree with Rex on this answer, although (as usual) not with his level of vituperation.

Runs with Scissors 2:14 AM  

Liked it more than someone else.

CRASHPADS was a fun entry. I knew a couple of them in my debauched youth.

Kept trying to shoehorn Dr. Demento into 13A. Alas, it was not to be. Never heard of DOCTORDOOM, but then I've never seen the Fantastic Four except in trailers. Not my genre. Fair, totally gettable through crosses.

SOMETIMESY. Har! Took me two parsings to get it as Sometimes Y. Twitterers...if you tweet on Twitter, does that make you a twit? Asking for a friend...

SKIP INTRO was perfect, no matter the clue. I love that feature. Put the trailers back where they belong - trailing the main thingiewhopper - and we won't have to skip them.

This puzzle played fast. The only real sticking points were in New England. I coulda swore (don't @ me about the grammar) it was Mark Zuckerberg, but POLa MALLET wasn't making sense. And CASkS LOTS was great if you're deep in your cups.

Speaker TIP ONEILL was a real blast from the past to counterpoint Pres Reagan's NATO & SAG. Not at all surprised OFL was triggered by RR.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

chefwen 3:24 AM  

@Runs with - It is Mark Zuckerberg this is Mort Zuckerman, different dude.

Puzzle was on the tough side for me, had to cheat a wee bit to get a foothold. PET NAMES was a stretch, but I’ll buy into it now that it has been SORTA explained.

MYNAS with an I looked all kind of wrong to me.


Mark 3:53 AM  

Alas, on Wheel of Fortune, even after all these years, they still refuse to believe that Y can be a vowel!

benjaminthomas 4:47 AM  

Hey Rex. From google definition of puzzle:

1. cause (someone) to feel confused because they cannot understand or make sense of something.

Get it? You're not supposed to instantly know the answer to every clue!

Anonymous 4:52 AM  

Why do I get the feeling that if 45A and 46A had referenced Obama or Clinton, Rex would have been singing the praises of AGENAS?

Phil 5:17 AM  

Had the A for rocket booster and tried to get a plural for Atlas...maybe its atlasi...TSKTSK

Loren Muse Smith 5:50 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric NC 6:17 AM  

@lms. Seems your resident voters of WV practiced cleromancy when electing State officers. Good luck with your ongoing struggles..

Loren Muse Smith 6:19 AM  

You’re not going to believe this, but after wandering around the grid looking for a toehold, my very first entry was SOMETIMES Y. One quick cross check (MYNAS), and I wrote that puppy right in. Lynyrd Skynyrd sure took full advantage of this little addition to the pentad.

Ok. Sure. I guessed wrong at that cross for the AGENAS Situation. But I also had a dumb “recitativa/oya” cross in the southwest. I just shrugged and went back over to think about this word “cleromancy” that I didn’t know. Hmm. CASTS LOTS I’ve heard, but I’ve never really unpacked all the meaning. Seems it’s more than just rolling the dice or drawing straws. I think there’s a “God will decide” feeling more than just a pure chance feeling. Anyway, “cleromancy” (pronounced /KLEER uh mancy/) is a word I’ve never noticed before. I did find an adjective form, cleromantic, but I couldn’t find a verb. Cleromate? How did the inventor of English drop the ball here and not supply a full lexical complement? Anyhoo, I’ll be keeping my ear perked now on Bravo to listen for this.

Use “cleromancy”: in a sentence: Historians need to chronicle Roman cyanide ingestion for the year MCLVII.

So some people solve this puzzle and focus on an unfortunate cross. Others (besides me, I hope) solve this and focus on a surprising word.

Incidentally, as regards your TORTA Solution,Rex, I have a second possible fix: the AORTA Solution. I’ll see your TORTA and raise you an AAR.

I, too, thought of pets and their names first. We do, though, have pet pet names, and these have always fascinated me. Jeff J’s dog Paco in Lilburn answered also to Babsie Ramsey and Shwhyby (rhymes with Mai Tai). Where the heck did those come from? Most of the time it seems the pet pet name starts with the same vowel, so our Hank answers also to Crankbait and Spanky. Our Owen recognizes Towball and Towie. But we had a dog, Fred, who we also called a mystifying Lurvin. And Beauregard the Benevolent. (And yes I used who and not whom and will go on to have a perfectly normal day.)

Tough Saturday for me, but nice little tussle.

QuasiMojo 6:30 AM  

Silly me. I put in Sometimes A because I had Ken Kesey's novel "Sometimes A Great Notion" on my mind. Luckily I fixed it but I still had a DNF today because of AGENAS. I should have remembered that term but I put in ARENAS (another talented author) and was confident that Reagan was a sometimesy member of the S.A.R., Sons of the American Revolution. Poor me. Wanted "Sprechtstimme" for the opera clue. My bad. Then tossed in KERN before IVES. And tried to squeeze in "Star Wars Geek" for the saber-wielding whiz kid. Otherwise this felt too easy for a Saturday. And didn't we have "She's" Gotta Have It yesterday too? We sure could use a TIP O'NEILL today.

Dave 7:07 AM  

I don't know, Mikey - I think you're kinda losing it.

Agena is very common in crosswords - torta never heard of.

But to go on and on and on about it...

WarrenB 7:17 AM  

I liked it. Don’t understand why someone gets all nuts about one word he may not know. I know nothing about rappers but don’t get all bonkers when their names are used. Read up on the space program; you might find it interesting.
I do NOT get 27 down. I am very familiar with the phonic alphabet but do not understand how apfa(A) comes before lima(L) and after foxtrot (F).

Suzie Q 7:24 AM  

Hmm, Sometimes Y was my first entry too. I won't kid myself into thinking I'm in @LMS's league but I did feel a little smug.

DNF because of Agenas. Even running the alphabet didn't help.
Rex was very funny going on about it. Agenas Situation and Torta Solution (as it has come to be known)!? I'm not sure it will join the blog lingo but we'll see.

Fun sorta easy Sat. with two new words, cleromancy and sabermetrics.

Spatenau 7:38 AM  

@WarrenB, Alfa (A) comes before Lima (L) and after foxtrot (F) in the answer to 27 down, which is ALFA.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

Or PORTA (as in potty preceder)/PAR/ARENAS would also have worked.

I think the constructor just couldn't give up the double Reagan, which was a cute idea, but messed up too many people.

Klazzic 7:44 AM  

AGENAS? That really stumped you? Any casual fan of the space program would know the AGENA rocket. Would ATLAS, SATURN or REDSTONE rocket have stumped you, too? My God! Know your freakin' history. Americans are so damn ignorant.

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

I think because in the word ALFA there is an A (alfa) before the L and another one after the F.

orangeblossomspecial 7:52 AM  

Down here at the Space Coast we watched Atlas Agenas regularly. They were the mainstays of the space program. They're certainly crossword-worthy.

pabloinnh 7:57 AM  

CRASHPADS, bang, DOCTORDOOM, zap, and away we go and the rest wasn't terribly harder. Wheelhouse city. Even knew AGENAS (pats self on back). Nice to see OYE, which often means "listen" but just as often, in my experience, means "hey!"

"Sabermetrics" I learned from a wonderful baseball writer and STATGEEK named Bill James, way back in the '80's. He was one of the first to use statistics to analyze the game. There are those who say this has gone too far, or as Kevin Costner explains in "For Love of the Game" (I think), in baseball they count EVERYTHING.

Thanks for a fun Saturdito, JD, wish it had just a little more pushback. Also, thanks for "cleromancy", which I haven't seen in years and whose meaning I had forgotten.

BarbieBarbie 8:00 AM  

Personal Saturday record here, sub-Wednesday time. I thought it was a super easy puzzle, but with some great words and phrases, much to love. Then I came here and saw that I was under 2 Rexes, a Monday-type ratio for me and unheard-of on a themeless. So I guess this one was mostly just in my wheelhouse. Wow! Fun.

astrotrav 8:19 AM  

Being a space guy I got AGENAS no problem, but PETNAMES was groan worthy. Loved the TIPONEILL shout out.

Paul Emil 8:21 AM  

Something is crosswordese because the King says it is, right. All I get from that critique is that the King was not the constructor/editor. The ultimate outsiders response. A resentment should never dictate a judgment. It is fascinating to see that the pedantic Muse continues to go on and on.

Ī© 8:30 AM  

If you think AGENAS is crossworthy we really don’t have much to talk about. It isn’t.

Reagan was a liberal Democrat? Oh, right, that was before the Alzheimer’s.*

Hand up for ditching all the lo-res and HI-RES clues (although “lores” is iffier than HIRES).

@LMS - your failure to whom is going to lead to the end of civilization!

*C’mon, I’m yanking your chain. Reagan was a terrible president, but his conservative stances were mostly rationally arrived at.

Mike Herlihy 8:32 AM  

I had the A in BASTE and wrote in AGENA. I was in grammar school during the '60s and it was a big thing.

Frank3038 8:34 AM  

My one gripe is “over and out” is not a thing. You say “over” to indicate you are finished and you want the other person to talk, and “out” to end communication. “Over and out” is meaningless and not used outside of movies.

mmorgan 8:36 AM  

Didn’t care for (never heard of) AGENAS, but for me, the clue for SAG was 10000% reasonable. Reagan was president of SAG for many, many years, and in the 1980s, his close relationship with it brought us the end of the Fin-Syn (Financial Interest and Syndication) rules in the TV industry, just one of his many unfortunate contributions, whose deleterious consequences we are still feeling. Like abolishing the Fairness Doctrine and and Ascertainment and most other public service obligations for broadcasters. Ugh. Terrible policies, but a totally “reasonable” clue.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Looks like Joe Deeney threw a party and didn’t invite Rex.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

@Rex, you "overestimate the power of your own cleverness so profoundly". I get your point, but your rant was so excessive that I lost interest and stopped reading. I suggest you give up crosswords and find a more calming hobby.

GILL I. 8:55 AM  

@Klazzic: "Americans are so damn ignorant" made me laugh out loud. I may join you in Costa Rica. Just kidding. I love this country...you get to VOTE.
This was fun! An easy peasy Saturday with only the one AvENAS/AGENAS error. I should've known that one. It's been around since the Reagan era. Notice he's floating all around his PET nemesis, Tip? Those two were a class act. Both really hating each other but tipping around civility. Too bad Trump/Pelosi don't dance around decorum. Would Trump Call Pelosi the "Queen of Beverley Hills?" Nah....It would be something more frumpish.
Let's see..what did I like? I liked it all! Except JELLO. It will always remind me of hospitals. When I had my appendix removed...Green JELLO. When I had my gall bladder removed...Green JELLO. I'm glad I still have my adenoids and tonsils.
I'm the "Queen" of PET NAMES. I give them to everybody I like. My sister, Marta is Tica. My little pup Moe is Mosey. My husband is papacito and the beat goes on.
Loved watching Mr. "BAM" EMERIL LIVE. Always KICKing things up a notch. Try his crab bisque recipe. It's delish.
I get happy when I finish a Saturday even with one little error. I might've clued 45A as what happens to so many of us when we age.
OYE como va. (Hi @pablo).....

Teedmn 9:01 AM  

The oddest pet PET NAME I've seen belonged to an enormous black cat named Nicodemus. PET NAME = Cookie. Or the dog, Lola, who answers to both Woofie and Squirrel.

Sure, I got messed up in two spots due to AGENAS. I somehow got thinking of SDI in conjunction with Reagan. I had SA_ at 45A and decided it must end in D for Defense. So SAd crossing ADENAe. Yes, sabermetrics must involve those who are all about knowing stats about STATes.

Other than that, this puzzle was a Saturday breeze. RECITATIVE I learned in a voice class I took in the 90s. TWIN splatzed right in after EVIL arrived. I was not held up by the clue for MAMA BEARS. I did stare hard at SOMETIMESY before the AEIOU pentad sank in. I SORTA liked the clue for ALFA. And I left the last three letters of 34D blank for a while because I think the jury is still out on whether graffiti is ART.

Joe Deeney, this was a nice themeless. ASK ANYONE (except Rex)!

Birchbark 9:12 AM  

Interesting resonance between ILIAD and AGENAS.

RECITATIVE seems like the sort of thing you'd be given after swooning in the nineteenth century.

Kdy 9:19 AM  

ADMEN should be retired as obsolete. When I think of PR teams I don't visualize an all-male group.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

I was cruising along in the NW until I stumbled over what I think is the most fiendishly and well-clued clue/answer in the puzzle: SOMETIMES Y. I couldn't think of the "common pentad" and when I had ESY at the end, I was tearing my hair out. This is so good that I'm wondering if it was a foundational answer in the puzzle, with much else being built around it.

The puzzle was easy where it was easy and hard where it was hard. I made a lot of notes in the margin today:

MAMA BEARS (15D) -- Very nice clue.

STATS GEEK (59A) -- Seems like Green Paint.

HIRES (26D) -- A real DOOK that I just couldn't see -- even after I filled it in.

TIP O'NEILL (47A) -- Proof either that 1) Fame is fleeting or 2) A political junkie will, if she has as foggy a memory as mine, forget you no matter how long you were House Speaker. My forgetfulness really bugged me on this clue/answer.

PET NAMES = "Handles with care" -- So cutesy that it winds up being complete gibberish, syntax-wise.

"Graffiti and such" = URBAN ART. No, no, no!!!! "Graffiti and such = VANDALISM. "Graffiti and such" = EYESORES. Let's not encourage the vandals with the word ART. And don't throw Basquiat at me, please. Most graffiti practitioners are assuredly no Basquiats. Plus I wouldn't want even Basquiat on a building near me. Buy the guy a canvas...please!

Enjoyed this puzzle!

@merican in Paris 9:24 AM  

DNF, as several of the PPPs were too obscure for me. I knew several other medicines for acid reflux, but not PRILOSEC. I don't even know if it is sold under that name in France. If you don't suffer from the malady, and the stuff is not advertised on (French) TV, there is no way to guess it. The NE was also a PPP fest, with MORT, ARAMIS (which I got), JELL-O (a brand I know, but did not associate it with Kraft), and EMERIL. Also Naticked at the crossing of SAG and AGENAS knew Atlas, but not the sub-category of that rocket.

Other than that, I enjoyed the puzzle. Had LPS before CDS, so thought at first the answer to 1A would start with LR (as in "living room"). I thought that touts sold tickets, by the way. They also sell HOT TIPs? Also had HI-def before HI-RES.

As a part-time editor, I liked the clue for STET. Slotted in POLO MALLET immediately; I've never even owned anything marketed by Ralph Loren, so I don't know from what recess in my tiny brain that was lodged.

So, all in all, I can't say I HAd A BALL with this Saturday, nor would I RAVE about it. But it provided something to do while I waited in queues at the lab and at the market, so it served its purpose.

OVER AND OUT -- from that other PARIS (where the temperature is forecast to surpass 100 F on Thursday), not the ILIAD.

Suzy 9:28 AM  

So what if, at the very end, you can’t figure out one letter? Google the answer, increase your knowledge, and move on!
Mr. Deeney, please don’t apologize for one clue in a terrific puzzle! Rex, quit with the constant carping!!

albatross shell 9:30 AM  

The NW stack fell first,then SE stack.Then with sweat the NE. Surrendered to the SW. Did not even get NATO. Got SAG with a single cross, suspecting NRA before that. Cause isn't always the NRA? KICK was the likely answer from the second I read the clue. but agree with Rex on that one: Not a very good clue. I did not know AGENAS but got it from crosses. I did not feel it was out of place in a crossword, but feel no shame in not knowing it either. Read newspapers back in the day, but really not very interested. Have yet to even watch the movies. The history of science fiction interests me more.
Excellent grid. Snappy answers. Mostly good clues. The one for ALFA made my head hurt, not in an entirely bad way. One like that per puzzle is fine.

Mr. Benson 9:33 AM  

Everything but the SW was super-easy for me (AGENAS, in my mind, was at least crossed very fairly with unassailable crosses). I got tripped up by confidently entering TEXAS for 36A, “Paris is found in it,” thinking I was clever. That held me up long enough that I wound up with a longer-than-average time.

Wm. C. 9:43 AM  

OFL rants about AGENA because he didn't know it. Myself, I had the A from BASTE in place, first thought ATLASES ... But the plural requires that extra E, so I immediately paired AGENAS with Ronny's ScreenActorsGuild (SAG). So no problem for me, since I had heard of The AGENA booster. Then again, I'm an engineer whose first job (in the '60s) was at MIT's (then) Instrumentation Laboratory, the home of rocketry Guidance, Navigation, and Control.

What I never heard of was RECITATIVE, which, conversely, OFL knew. This, together with not "getting" the PETNAMES meaning (I ignorantly and confused-ly threw in PENNAMES, and RANT for Go On And On) further giving me a DNF.

Oh, well, it IS Saturday ...

Nancy 9:51 AM  

@GILL -- Re your association of JELLO with hospitals: I remember the funniest hospital get-well card I ever sent. I think I bought two of them at the time, but I should have bought dozens.

On the cover: A hatchet-faced nurse bearing a hypodermic needle and an I-know-what's-best-for-you expression. She says: "Now we do want to get well, don't we?"

You open up the card. She continues: "Well, then, I think the jello has been enough excitement for one day."

kitshef 9:51 AM  

Now, that was a fun Saturday puzzle. Contrast yesterday’s limp phrases with today’s spiffy ones. Never really thought about AGENA, because SAG was clear enough for me.

@Runs with Scissors – you have missed nothing by not seeing the FF movies. The second one, Rise of the Silver Surfer, is bad but has some merits. The others are just awful.

@LMS – Neither who nor whom, but ‘that’, I’d argue.

Wm. C. 9:55 AM  

@GillI8:55 --

Tip and Ronny were on opposite sides of the political aisle, but certainly didn't hate each other. In fact often on Friday afternoons Tip would drop over to the White House and, like two old Irishmen, he and Ronny would share cocktails sitting on the WH balcony.

Ethan Taliesin 10:06 AM  

Perhaps in retrospect I should have deduced the Screen Actors Guild/Reagan clue. Reagan and labor unions seems so antithetical. Good clue, I guess. I had ARENAS because that was the only legit word known to me at the time.

Got the dreaded "So close" pop-up rather than the happy music, and so I start my day off as a failure. I'm not even sure if I'm in the mood to commit AGENAS to memory. Bah!

Runs with Scissors 10:11 AM  


"@Runs with - It is Mark Zuckerberg this is Mort Zuckerman, different dude."

That totally explains it. I misread the name and my brain never noticed.

David 10:15 AM  

Those of us old enough to understand our tax-funded government created computers, the internet, microchips, solar panels, and all manner of things we're now told were created by "entrepreneurs" in their mama's garages, should have no trouble with the rockets created at the same time.

This played a bit hard for me, and when I put in the H for Has a ball I just sat there and wondered what the heck crystal clear had to do with Hires. There were some which fell in immediately off of first letters though, and that helped. Those were 24D and 47, 54, 57A as well as 29, 53A.

Some clever cluing, as for pet names. Prime spot for a tat on my body is nowhere, but I do like being lectured about "cultural appropriation" by young American middle-class white kids with tattoos, most especially if they have a tattoo of a dreamcatcher or something similar visible to all. Loved mama bears because I couldn't get my brain to remember what city has some sports team named the Cubs. I know one does, just not the city or the sport. Guess I'm not a stats geek.

When done I really liked it from skips intro to casts lots. Good Saturday for me.

JustMarci 10:20 AM  

AGENAS gave me agita.

TORTA? If it’s sold at Costco, it’s certainly common enough.

EBN OZN! My teenaged heart remembers them well.

Whatsername 10:22 AM  

An appropriate WRAP to a generally easy week. First time ever that I finished a Saturday without one single cheat, after 19 years of trying. Does that make me a STATSGEEK? No probably just a crossword geek but in a good way. It was still a nice challenge though and a few quite tough spots. The clue for 27D ALFA was brilliant. @Warren: Took me a bit to wrap my head around that one too.

I remember when RR was the big cheese at SAG. And since when is that NOT an acronym? Don’t understand the flap about his name or any other politician’s being used in a crossword. It’s just like any person or event that someone might find objectionable. You may not like it, but it’s still part of history. I didn’t know AGENAS but it was easy enough to get with the crosses so again, much ado about nothing.

I don’t always take time for puzzles on the weekends because Saturdays are usually filled with DOOM and I don’t have the patience for Sunday’s marathon. I’m very glad I made an exception today. This was so crisp and sharp, really a lot of fun. Thank you JD.

Chris 10:28 AM  

By some distance, a Saturday record for me. And less than 2 Rexes, unheard of, although I just started noting that metric.
As others of my generation, AGENAS was a gimmme. I never did parse SOMETIMESY, though.

Joaquin 10:29 AM  

Rex says, "I guarantee you, using whatever metric of obscurity you want, [torta] is not more obscure than AGENAS!" The metric I have used is my 77 years on earth and knowing AGENAS immediately and having to google "torta" for a definition.

OTOH, Rex failed to note that "OVERANDOUT" is bogus. In real life military, one says "over" to pass the conversation to the other person, and says "out" to indicate the end of the conversation.

r.alphbunker 10:37 AM  

Never heard of TORTAS before today. Which is way fewer times than the couple of references to AGENAS that I have encountered in a life reading newspapers.

Some cascos:

42A. {Perform a Thanksgiving cooking task} CARVE-->BASTE

51D. {Unaccompanied} STAG-->LONE

39A. {Fires (up)} REVS HETS-->REVS

10A. {Prime spot for a tat} PEC from _E_

21A. {One of the Three Musketeers} ARTOIS-->ARAMIS

36A. {Paris is found in it} Refused to put in FRANCE

23A. {Ceases production} WRAPS from _RAPS

37D. {Sci-fi author Simmons with the 1989 Hugo-winning novel "Hyperion"} DAN from D_N

40A. {Handles with care?} PETNAMES from PE_NAMES

24D. {Operatic song-speech} RECITATIVE from RECI_AT_ _ _

27D. {Letter before Lima and after Foxtrot when spelling 27-Down} ALFA from AL_ _

6D. {Brand that treats acid reflux} PRILOSEC from PRILOS_C

Details are here

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

It’s getting late in the day, but could someone please explain 40A. I understand the synonym “handles” for “names” but why “pet” for “care”?

RooMonster 10:48 AM  

Hey All !
Funky grid. Nice open corners. A crash of L's in the NE.

Misread 13A clue as "Academy of the Fantastic Four", and though having seen the movie (the other one, not the most recent one), thought "Who knows that?" Misreading is fun!

Had VeTo for VOTE until the end, really messing me up in the SW. Took a long time to finally see PET NAMES, and also having ItsaNO for ISAYNO, buggered me up. That ILIAD clue nor helping. I was thinking Paris the city? Paris Hilton? Where the hell is she now? Paris Jackson? Actually had Vegas in there for a bit, as there is the Paris Hotel and Casino here. My SKIPINTRO was ShowINTRO, until I realized that Show was in the clue. Oops. Changed it to liveINTRO (after putting in that Vegas), then after much staring, the ole brain finally decided to let me see WHILESAWAY, then the "Ooh, it can be PETNAMES if I change VeTo to VOTE" moment. So Bam, [Har] finished! But, no Happy Music or anything else. Hmm. Looked over grid, and had one square unfilled. SA_/A_ENAS. Well, now. Alphabet run time! Got to G, and said, "Hey, Reagan was an actor once..." and Bam again, got the Happy Tune!

MaRk before MORT, nice try Joe Deeney. Got the Ralph Lauren object to finally materialize in my mind, and saw the POLO player with his MALLET. Wanted POLarbears, but already having MAMABEARS, knew (at least really hoped) that that couldn't be.

Crete-CORFU, SOMETIME So-SOMETIMESY (Har, I thought it was one word also!), HOTTIe-HOTTIP.

Me and ACME WED in the NE. SHEd probably SAY NO. :-)

So a fun SatPuz solve. 6.5 Rexes to solve. Not too shabby.


Dan Fesperman 10:49 AM  

Many of us who grew up during the space race to the moon didn't find AGENAS to be difficult. But, of course, if it's not in Rex's personal range of knowledge, then it must be horribly unfair. I do enjoy these highly specialized rants, however. This one was pretty easy except for a slight bog down in the southwest corner.

SJ Austin 10:51 AM  

Everyone take out your phone and open the photos app, where you will find many, many high resolution (HIRES) photos that are also out of focus.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

*C’mon, I’m yanking your chain. Reagan was a terrible president, but his conservative stances were mostly rationally arrived at.

Only if your of the 1%. Ronny started the GOP blitzkrieg against the 99%. Carrot Top is just the inevitable result.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

DNF here, but since I've yet to complete a Saturday all on my own (i.e., without resorting to "check puzzle," "check word," or the "throw in the towel" bailout: "reveal word"), this was par for the course. Don't know what a pentad is (beyond five of something) so no idea what either the clue or the answer to 16A is. (Y is sometimes used like a sixth vowel? Oh.) Never heard of an AGENA rocket so I learned something that'll be gone from memory tomorrow. Thought the "with care" part of 40A was syntactically ugly (and for me, ungettable). Sigh. Saturdays just leave me feeling frustrated and dumb.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

RECITATIVE is only known to me as a part of an Episcopal mass. http://www.standrewslambertville.org/all_music_lists/music_list_2015-2016

Jillybean 11:13 AM  

Pretty easy Saturday even with Agena. The opera clue wasn’t hard to sus from the roots and prefixes. Pet names was a much better reflection of the clue than pen names- note the “care” part of the clue- you give a pet name to someone you care for, not necessarily that it’s the name of your pet

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

TIPONEILL was my Congressman, and that got me off to a good start. AGENA is as good a word as CORFU, ILIAD, or JELLO. No complaints here (not far from Natick).

Mohair Sam 11:24 AM  

It is a freaking Saturday Rex, AGENA is fine on a Saturday, especially when so fairly crossed. Of course AGENA and Reagan's famous union stint at SAG deal with history and hit you in your weak spot. And you're always angry at things you don't know.

Awesome, if fairly easy, Satpuzz.

@Benjaminthomas (4:47) - Nicely said.

And yes, Ronnie and Tip were indeed good buds. And Ron played Tip like a fiddle.

Crimson Devil 11:52 AM  

Saturday tough for moi.
Loved SOMETIMESY, misdirect on Zuckerman and shoutout to SABERMETRICS, best known for Michael Lewis’s excellent book, among his many, Moneyball, crediting Bill James, as has been said, and Billy Beane, thus Billy Ball. DNK RECITATIVE or DAN, but gettable with crosses. Fine Sat puz.

nyc_lo 11:55 AM  

Being a space geek, AGENAS rang enough of a bell to pass muster. More so than TORTA would have, frankly. But if you’re going with ARENAS, I’d propose “Sometimes molten Star Trek alien” (HORTA) and “Half of a sarcastic laugh” (HAR). My inner nerd would be even happier.

Amelia 11:55 AM  

I loved this puzzle. All the things that Rex hated, I loved. Reagan, of course, was a union REP. So why not SAG, of which he was a member. (More on that later.)

SKIP INTRO. What a fantastic clue. If we didn't have that, my husband and I would still be singing the fake American songs in all the Nordic mystery shows. You know what I'm talking about. Don't lie.

HIRES. What a fantastic answer. I looked at it and thought what the hell are you talking about? Then the penny dropped. (Which is a great possible crossword clue....)

RECITATIVE? Great answer, and Rex, opera is not common to most people. But this is common to opera people.

My only problem in the entire puzzle and it's not really a problem, is the use of ADMEN. As I was an ADWOMAN for many decades, I can tell you this. I never heard or saw the term ADMAN or ADMEN or even ADWOMAN in my entire career. (I forgave MAD MEN because it was so clever.) There's a whole boatload of advertising words that never appear IRL. We laughed about them. We never talked about MADISON AVENUE or MADISON AVE even when we worked on MADISON AVE. (Doyle Dane is still there. I believe that's it.) Never heard the word SLOGAN. And yes, you would know work that I have done. But don't ask.

As for Reagan and advertising, here's my story. My agency had a creative conference every year and the boss would hire someone really special to speak to us. We thought it was funny when all these guys in dark suits came out on stage and fanned across. What was up? Ronald Reagan, that's what. First speaking engagement out of the White House. After all, he had done commercials! His speech was about the HUAC coming to him in California and asking him to film a suspected Commie house and then tell them who was going in and coming out. Remember the dementia. He was a smart man. And he was talking to a room full of creatives in Hollywood. Who probably didn't want to cheer at the news that Reagan fingered Charlie Chaplin for the Feds. Among others. But there was a point, believe it or not. He then talked about eventually meeting with Gorbachev. So look at the trajectory. From fingering Commies to doing business with them.

So I don't mind having Reagan in the puzzle, in the way that he's in the puzzle. Its brings back some weird-ass memories.

OISK 12:12 PM  

My first DNF in a very long time - I used to actually keep records, but it was silly. Recitativo is the term I am familiar with. Of course, it is recitative in English, but I always used the Italian! (Too MUCH learning is a dangerous thing?) There was no way I could know that "OYO" was wrong and "OYE" was right - I speak some Italian, but no Spanish!

Despite the unforced error, I found this one relatively easy and enjoyable. Did not "get" sometimes Y until I came here! (and I didn't understand "BRAT" at a picnic yesterday.) Didn't know that MOMA had Monet, but Mondrian gave it away...

I thought Wednesday's puzzle was harder than this one, but no complaints from me.

albatross shell 12:14 PM  

I do not think drinking together necessarily means friendship. More enemies than friends. Also they played each other.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

When did the comments for this blog get so aggressive and negative? Jeez, this is Rex's blog, if you don't like it, stop reading. I happen to appreciate that he often will call out perceived BS instead of sit on his high horse and smugly say "well I knew it so clearly it's fair!" like so many commenters here do. As someone just getting into crosswords, it's validating and encouraging when an expert solver calls out problematic clues and answers.

I'm glad that so many of you are so well acquainted with the space program. But get a life beyond haughtily suggesting "anyone who doesn't know this is ignorant of history/culture/the most important things on Earth." It's a trivia question. I guarantee you that there are far, far more important things you're entirely ignorant about. Get over yourself.

Bob Mills 12:22 PM  

It's always satisfying to finish a Saturday puzzle 100%. My only objection was to clue about the French painters. None of them ever lived at the Museum of Modern Art. It was never their "home." It's now home to their WORK. Bad clue. Otherwise a fun puzzle.

jb129 12:26 PM  

Having worked in advertising, SAG was my favorite. That's all.

Masked and Anonymous 12:27 PM  

My VOTE would be that both AGENAS and AAR (yo, @muse) are slightly weller-known to m&e than TORTA. And that this was a very good SatPuz.

Started the M&A solvequest in the puzgrid central region, mainly becuz it looked the most hospitable to primitive masked life. Got TEAR/VOTE/EVIL(twin) pretty fast. Then HIRES, after a polite burst of nano-seconds. CORFU and ALFA [superb wonky ALFA clue] came along grudgingly, nano-eventually.

Then, amazinly, found PRILOSEC floatin around somewhere in the old M&A brainpan -- I blame all those day-um TV drug ads, infiltratin our consciousnesses. Why are drug prices high? … well, duh … they're payin for all them jillions of ads. I blame Congress. But I digress.

staff weeject pick: DAN (Simmons). "Hyperion" was a primo schlock-novel. Featured the Shrike, a giant spiked critter that could freeze time, while it shredded space-force armies to bits. Can't believe they haven't made an epic schlock flick franchise out of this material. [I hear that Bradley Cooper is at least looking into it. Ooopsy … digressin again.]

fave fillins: MOMA/MAMABEARS. DOCTORDOOM (my previous urologist, btw). OVERANDOUT. CRASHPADS. LUTE. No TORTAs or PEWITs.

Thanx a jello-load, Mr. Deeney. Better AGENAS clue: {Turn a rapper's hair gray??}.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

yo, @Mohair … always sweet to see yer byline back again.


Whatsername 12:29 PM  

@LMS: I just now noticed your POLLO avatar. Perfect!! LOL.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

@Mohair Sam:
Ron played Tip like a fiddle.

I'll go you one better, may be. I worked for Jack Anderson, for a short time, during Ronnie's reign. Up to then, Anderson went after any and all miscreants in the Damn Gummint. Ronnie totally co-opted him by naming him to some 'commissions' and generally buttering him up.

"Anderson’s friendships were equally destructive: his close relationship with Ronald Reagan, for instance, led him to ignore what he knew of the Iran/Contra deals. "
here: https://www.thenation.com/article/merry-go-round-jack-anderson/

jb129 12:34 PM  

Anonymous - the comments have been negative & aggressive for a long while. I'd like to think they're from those who have nothing else to do. But I'd rather hear that than all the personal BS.

GILL I. 12:56 PM  

@Nancy....HAHAHAHAH. You're the cool whip in my JELLLO salad.

@Wm.C. I didn't say they hated each other. I said Tip was Ron's nemesis. Maybe read Tip's autobiography and Ron's diaries? Both those men were smart, charismatic and above all, they had the class not to show any animosity they had toward each other in public. But in the end, and in writing, they pretty much disliked each other. And why not?
Hey: @Mohair....good seeing you. Whenever politics pop up, you pop in. :-)

amyyanni 12:58 PM  

Agree that "sometimesy" would be a fun word. Much more fun than agenas.

Fred Romagnolo 1:10 PM  

I hate that (political) person, therefore his (her) name shouldn't be in a crossword. Unbelievably childish!

Joe Dipinto 1:20 PM  

Like Rex opined, a better choice of clue for SAG would have mitigated the comparative wtf-ness of AGENAS. And Reagan is best known as the president of SAG, not a mere "supporter" of it, so the repeated clue turned out to be clunky, not clever.

Otherwise I thought this was excellent. Not too difficult, but consistently inspired, with lots of great fill. It moved along at just the tempo I want for a Saturday. I listened to some Ives pieces just recently, including "Central Park In The Dark". Good stuff. I always associate Aramis with the cologne -- in my early twenties I worked with a guy who wore way too much of it.

Are pests always little? I guess mostly they are, or they're smaller than you are anyway -- the better to show up undetected at your elbow to tug at your sleeve.

Btw, there's no recitative in "Lohengrin". You can ask anyone.

Amelia 1:42 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous

I don't exactly know why drug prices are so high, especially generics. But I can tell you this. The COST of the commercials and the SALARIES of all the people involved are a DROP IN THE BUCKET compared to the sales of the drugs they hawk. Big Pharma would say the billions reaped go right back into R&D. What I always say to people who complain about this (and I know there's lots to complain about) is "Get sick." And then we'll talk about how bad pharmaceuticals are.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

True Dat!

Molasses 1:50 PM  

Three brand new words for me today. Cleromancy, sabermetrics, and AGENAS. I grew up watching the space shots on tv - I remember the teacher rolling a black-and-white tv into our first grade classroom to see the very first satellite launch, right up through gathering around to watch the moon landing in the summer after 11th grade - and seeing the booster and other stages fall away, but I don't remember ever hearing that word.

Enjoyed this puzzle, especially SOMETIMES Y which seemed clever and made me feel clever for getting it.

@Anonymous 11:05, agreed. Reagan is the first president in my memory who started us down the government-is-the-enemy road that led us to where we are today. I'm probably oversimplifying. Still, he has a lot to answer for. I don't mind seeing him in the puzzle, and SAG helped me get AGENAS.

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

Big Pharma would say the billions reaped go right back into R&D.

You do know that their lying, right? R&D isn't near the top of spending at any pharma, big or tiny. SG&A (look it up if you don't know what that is) is by far and away the largest component. And do you know that only one other country besides the USofA permits adverts to consumers? It's not, curiously, Russia. It's New Zealand. Why such a tiny spot of land in the middle of the Pacific would be an oddball, but there you are.

Last night, FDA approved a drug that purports to make women want sex more. The company and FDA both admitted that the drug, which has to be injected (like an EpiPen), doesn't result in *better sex*, from the her point of view. On top of all that, the trial results showed that the drug was just marginally more effective (using a bogus scoring protocol) than placebo.

Drug discovery has long since exhausted the easy 80%, and continues to mine the impossible 20%. All while lavishing billions on overhead spending.

Anoa Bob 2:11 PM  

Solved like four puzzles in one, not that there's anything wrong with that. Did two last night before doing an OVER AND OUT and then finished up the other two today.

Usually I SAY NO but not so with my EVIL TWIN Anoa Blob. He's an unrepentant hedonist without RESTRAINTS. Maybe that's why he always has some PRILOSEC on hand.

Having AGENAS in the same grid as CRASH PADS was a little unsettling.

benjaminthomas 2:23 PM  

@Anonymous (12:!6 PM)

Maybe you didn't notice that it says "Post a Comment" not "Only positive affirmations for our dear leader allowed". It is Rex's blog, but the comment section is clearly and specifically for everyone else. Rex doesn't comment, and as far as I know he doesn't ever engage with anyone on their comments. I do hope he reads them because he could learn a thing or two.

As for you, you might have also missed the irony in you praising Rex for "not sitting on his high horse" when that is exactly what he is so often (including today) accused of doing. Your instruction to "get a life before haughtily suggesting anyone who doesn't know this is ignorant ..." is beyond parody in a comment supposedly defending Rex.

TJS 2:26 PM  

Want to comment before reading the comments. No, Rex, torta is not more in the language than agena. Anyone who lived through the "Space Race" admired the courage of our astronauts, or just was interested in mans' entries into the unknown would have heard of Agena stage rockets. And SAG is about as well-known an acronum as there is these days of ubiquitous awards shows. I thought this was a nice Friday- worthy challenge.

Masked and Anonymous 2:37 PM  

@Amelia: yep … Hard to say exactly why drug prices are high, without havin ESP, which @RP said U can't have. Or Senate investigations in depth, which the McConnellmeister said U can't have.

M&A suspects the answer is: becuz Congress lets those greedy folks get away with it. My drug ad angle was just based on an article I had read, which said that them Big Pharmas run an average of 80 drug ads total every hour on TV … providin the TV networks a tidy annual income of around $6 billion moneybucks. Sooo … gotta at least be a piece of the puz, maybe?

Only SOMETIMESY Knowin What He's Talkin About M&A.

OffTheGrid 3:25 PM  


Masked and Anonymous 3:49 PM  

And to be fair, my fave ad disclaimer lately ain't from a drug ad -- altho some of *those* puppies can get pretty darn schlocky...

It's "NOT AVAILABLE IN EVERY STATE", splatzed in big letters at the bottom of an AllState insurance ad. har


Jyqm 3:58 PM  

@OISK, like you, I had RECITATIVo at first, but thankfully Carlos Santana came to my rescue when I remembered the song title “OYE Como Va.”

DigitalDan 3:58 PM  

Rex, for every AGENA, one of the major components of the unmanned and manned space program leading up to the Apollo moon explorations and a familiar term to those of us old enough to have been observers of it, I'll trade you one of the obscure hip hop performers that you are so familiar with and that I've never heard of. Your preference for terms seems to have a pretty sharp high pass filter at 1980 or so. It's nice to have a gimme that you've never heard of, for a change.

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

Hard to say exactly why drug prices are high

Phooey!! People who have studied the problem know exactly why drugs cost so much more here in the Red Blooded USofA than any other First World Country. Let your fingers do a bit of walking through the Yellow Googles if you want to find out. As with anything else in economics, follow the incentives, and conversely, the lack of sanctions.

Case in point: the Great Recession was, in fact, predicted by the few pundits who bothered to track down how housing prices had skyrocketed following the Dot Bomb. They weren't data geeks, but the data geeks looked at the skyrocketing house prices and *assumed* that the time series data would go on like that forever. And they even admitted at the time that they didn't know what structural changes had happened. In due time it turned out that mortgage companies, then banks, bent the qualification rules in order to move ever more expensive (but not often better) houses. Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

It's "NOT AVAILABLE IN EVERY STATE", splatzed in big letters at the bottom of an AllState insurance ad. har

Again, that's not because AllState seeks to screw folks in some states over others. It's because insurance is regulated at the *state*, not Federal, level. Some state insurance departments view some bait and switch efforts with stiffer sanctions.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

@Anonymous at 12:16 - The hypocrisy in your post is hilarious. You start out by asking “when did the comments on this blog become so negative and aggressive?“. Then you proceed to negatively and aggressively tell the rest of us we are haughty and ignorant and just need to get over ourselves. Priceless!

Jyqm 4:04 PM  

You must be a beginner if you’re not familiar with Rex smugly sitting on his high horse proclaiming “I knew it so it’s fair!”

Look, I’m not down with the smugness on anyone’s part - I didn’t know AGENAS but did remember that Reagan was president of SAG for many years. Regardless, though, this is a Saturday puzzle. It’s *supposed* to be difficult, and potentially obscure historical terms are certainly fair game. And if one person claiming “I knew it, so it’s fair!” is nonsense, the sheer number of commenters today who had no problem with AGENAS makes it pretty clear that it is indeed a fair answer on a Saturday.

Unknown 4:07 PM  

Where SKIPINTRO was, relating to on-line material, initially had SUBSCRIBE, which fit so well I was sure it was correct.

@merican in Paris 4:23 PM  

This comment will probably be read by few, but I just finished Sunday's puzzle (printed in the Sat-Sun edition of the International New York Times), and I predict that OFL will absolutely pan it. Took me much longer than it should have, because I cottoned on to the theme way too late in the game. Once I did, it was pretty easy.

That's as much as I can say without giving anything away (apart from there being a theme).

Joe Dipinto 5:34 PM  

@mericans -- I predict so as well.

CDilly52 6:53 PM  

So glad to be back after perhaps the worst end of the fiscal year in the history of fiscal years. I am most definitely too old for prolonged periods of 60+ hour weeks. Enjoyed the posts but didn’t have time to participate.

So, all of you space fanatics and/or older solvers out there, thank you for agreeing that AGENAS” is totally fair! C’mon!! I watched every single blast-off until the shuttle flights became “ho-hum” and can hear Walter Cronkite saying”and there’s the separation of the AGENNA booster.”

Reminded me of Challenger and the day we lost the crew including the “first teacher in space,” Krista McAuliff. On that sad day, my 5 year old daughter came face to face with death for the first time. On TV at school with millions of her peers, and (as they say) “in living color.” On that fateful day, I, who have had my angry issues with the Catholic Church throughout my lifetime, was never more comforted by my Papist roots and the skilled and compassionate Carmelite nuns at Villa Teresa School in Oklahoma City. I truly. Relieve that most American kids were watching Challenger and saw it explode. My daughter and her peers, K-3rd, were all gathered in the multi-purpose room in eager anticipation. In the weeks before, Sister Veronica had done a remarkable job of giving her Kindergarten class a 5 year old digestible look at the shuttle and the crew. They sent Ms. McAuliff a card to go up in space with a return SASE so that hopefully it would be returned having “been there.”

As long as I live, I will never forget those call I received mot 15 minutes from the explosion. The staff immediately got a phone chain working to contact all the parents and give them the option of picking the kids up or staying with dear, dear Carmelites to process the tragedy, start to grieve and have a plan for the weeks ahead.

My daughter has always worn her heart on her sleeve. Sister Mary Mark, when she called, told me my 5 year old Kate had spontaneously started giving hugs and, and helping the kids most in shock go lie down and letting the staff know who most needed help.

I happened to be in trial that day, in fact the whole week. The guilt I felt at my immediate reaction being “oh crap, weHave to get this case tried!”

Sydney 6:59 PM  

I knew Agena right off. Rex is too young. For me, torta is more obscure.

JC66 8:13 PM  

Hand up for AGENA vs TORTA.

pabloinnh 8:49 PM  

@CDilly52-Thanks so much for sharing your memory of that awful day. It hit us especially hard here in NH, Christa McAuliff's home state. Also doubly sad for those of us teachers who were rooting so hard for her.

We need lots more people like your daughter.

Rug Crazy 6:52 AM  

Had to come here to Rex to understand HIRES was HI RES. Still don't grow Pet Names

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

It seems to me that Ronald Reagan was a pretty big supporter of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), and ACENAS looks just as good to me as AGENAS.

KevinMPG 11:14 AM  

Is anyone else tiring of Rex’s ranting? I just come here to verify my grid and read the comments. Otherwise, Rex’s angry condemnation of every unique prompt is increasingly tedious. I, for one, enjoy finding obscure words and phrases in the puzzle. If I wanted an easy grid I’d look to USA Today.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Agree with John X,
For us older followers of the Space Program, the Atlas Agena was a very reliable vehicle. Just because the younger set didn't know it you shouldn't disparage it as an answer.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

I’m surprised that I knew agena and Rex didn’t! I’ve put it in so many crossword puzzles, it’s common knowledge to me. And I’m no crossword expert!

Biffissimo 10:54 AM  

Yes. 27 down was my favorite clue in a long time. It’s self referential and recursive. I can’t believe Rex didn’t mention it at all. Very meta.

spacecraft 10:49 AM  

All right, I give up. Will someone please tell me what a "TORTA" is? I couldn't believe the extent of OFC's rant about that. AGENA obscure? Nonsense. I did this one in about half yesterday's time; who knows how much longer it would've taken if his "fix" had been in? However, if fix there must be, how about "Silicon-based life form in a STTOS episode?" The HORTA is both intelligent and inoffensive, per Spock, and so should be allowed here. That would leave the oft-used syllable HAR--though I would have kept AGENA and done a Shakespearean clue for HAG.

BTW: Reagan a "terrible" president? Wait a sec, who was it convinced Russia to "tear down this wall?"

Back to the puz. My biggest holdup was parsing HIRES as a DOOK. That brought a headslap. I liked the puzzle as a whole; liked doing it. Mayhap a tad on the easy side for a Saturday, but earlier entries filled my gray cell usage quota for the week. Also, no DOD to be found, so a minus there. I suppose I could lop off the A from AGENA for Ms. Rowlands... Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:41 AM  


it's SORTA EVIL, IDIG quaint,
ASKANYONE who DOES their part,
it's like MOMA with no RESTRAINT.


BS2 1:08 PM  


(when SHE SETTLESON a guy),
"IDIG how HOTTIP makes me feel",
and SHE wonders SOMETIMESY.


rainforest 3:33 PM  

@Burma Shave - loved the first poem. The second wasn't bad either.

Pretty easy puzzle today. SOMETIMES Y was my first entry, and AGENAS was next. The only section that slowed me down was the top half of the SW. I was able to intuit the bottom halves relatively quickly, and that helped a bunch to get the upper parts.

I found it fun to decipher what the ALFA clue was getting at, and in fact, the whole puzzle was enjoyable, well-constructed and clued competently with a little whimsy. All the stacks, vertical and horizontal, were great, and I learned a new word (cleromancy) which I will promptly forget.

Yes, @Spacey, he got the Berlin wall taken down, but Reagan was the genesis of the raging income gap in the US. Not to mention Iran/Contra, deregulation, dementia.

Diana,LIW 3:46 PM  

After yesterday's grand win, this was a grand dnf. Just not enuf in my non-sci-fi wheelhouse.

Diana, LIW

leftcoast 3:57 PM  

Looked gettable enough after finishing, but cheated to get there.

Continue to have regular problems with Saturdays even after years of solving.

Is it just me, or I?

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