Kashyyyk denizen, in sci-fi / SAT 7-5-19 / #2 image among smartphone users? / "Ninotchka" actress, 1939 / Many a Univision viewer, in modern usage

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium (8:40, while very distracted trying to remember things to write about)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: PABLO CASALS (31A: Cellist with a Presidential Medal of Freedom) —
Pau Casals i Defilló[1][2] (Catalan: [ˈpaw kəˈzalz i ðəfiˈʎo]; 29 December 1876 – 22 October 1973), usually known in English as Pablo Casals,[3][4][5][6] was a cellist, composer, and conductor from Catalonia. He is generally regarded as the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest cellists of all time. He made many recordings throughout his career, of solo, chamber, and orchestral music, also as conductor, but he is perhaps best remembered for the recordings of the Bach Cello Suites he made from 1936 to 1939. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy (though the ceremony was presided over by Lyndon B. Johnson).
• • •
Hello Rexakateers! I'm Eli Selzer, filling in for Rex Parker from Van Nuys, California. And you know I'm in LA area because we just had an earthquake, literally as I was typing this sentence (7.1, about 100 miles north of the city, and maybe the longest I've felt since I've moved here). But nothing shall deter the blog! You might remember me from last time I filled in on the blog a few years back (you don't). I work in post production at a (the?) major film and television studio (hint: think mice and theme parks), and I'm (still) an aspiring writer. Turns out parting ways with your manager when you don't have a backup isn't the solid career plan I thought it was. Anyway, on to the puzzle!

I was worried I wouldn't have much to write about, but when I saw Erik Agard's name, I knew I had lucked out. Erik is easily one of my favorite constructors, and I tend to do well on his puzzles.

This one played a bit tough for me, but I think I probably lost a minute or so in thinking of things to blog about, and I'm also thoroughly out of my crossword routine. I usually do the puzzle in the morning, and not until I've had some coffee. It literally only needs to be a sip of coffee. But in order to get the blog out to you fine people, I solved as soon as it was released. Instead of coffee, I went with a pint of the Rex Parker-inspired New England IPA I brewed: Natick Crossing.

Enough about me. I really enjoyed this puzzle, even in the parts where I struggled. The middle offset stack played incredibly hard for me, largely because I absolutely could not pull the name DARLENE LOVE (33A: Singer seen annually on David Letterman's Christmas show). I knew her, could see her face, could hear the song, but the name just wasn't coming to me.  In case you need a refresher, have some Christmas in July:

I expect a lot of people to struggle with PABLO CASALS and DARLENE LOVE crossed by INA CLAIRE (23D: "Ninotchka" actress, 1939). That's a lot of proper names, and not exactly common ones, with a fairly bland and hard to infer DECLARATORY (32A: Like some legal judgements) sitting in the middle. Still, the crossing points seemed fair, and I was able to muscle my way through it. Pulling DONE AND DONE (34A: "Say no more - I'm on it") helped.

There's very little junk fill here, an even short, common stuff like PDA (10A: Activity that might elicit stares, for short), IDS (39A: Walletful), and TSK (53A: "C'mon, man," in a syllable) get lively clueing. It was all exactly the quality I expect from Erik Agard, which makes for a great start to the weekend.

  • DANE COOK (32D: Stand-up comedian with the 2005 double-platinum album "Retaliation" — A little embarrassed that this one got me unstuck from a rut, but I listen to a LOT of standup and podcasts, so this album isn't unheard of for me.
  • POOP EMOJI (46A: #2 image among smartphone users?) — I'm sure this one won't sit well with some people, and I'm a little surprised that old man Shortz let it through, but when Patrick Stewart gives voice to an animated pile of poop, I guess that carries some clout.
  • WOOKIEE (22A: Kashyyyk denizen, in sci-fi) — I'm a huge Star Wars fan, so I hate how many tries it always takes me to spell "wookiee." I could post a picture of my wife and I with Chewbacca at Disneyland, but instead, here's his son Lumpy from the Star Wars Holiday Special. You're welcome.
  • MONAE (13A: Singer/Actress Janelle) — Janelle Monae is awesome. That is all.
  • DUKAKIS (11D: 1980s presidential candidate) - I was 6 during this election, and it is the first one I remember. I wanted Dukakis to win because I had read somewhere he was a Boy Scout and I had just joined Cub Scouts. Now when I think of him, I think of Jon Lovitz playing him on one episode of The Critic.
  • MOTORBIKE (17A: Yamaha purchase) - The phrase "motorbike" always makes me think of "Eddie's Teddy" from Rocky Horror, but instead I'm using this bullet to talk about non-motorbikes. I'm an avid cyclist, and the Tour de France starts today! It kicks off in Belgium this year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the very-scrabbly-named Eddie Merckx's first Tour victory. My wife and I have a tradition of setting up a French picnic and wine on the opening day of the tour and watching the whole stage. Watching an entire Grand Tour stage start to finish (at least 5 hours of skinny guys on bikes) is not something I generally recommend, but the wine makes everything better.

Alright, thanks for bearing with my rambling. Until next time!

Signed, Eli Selzer, False Dauphin of CrossWorld

[Follow Eli Selzer on Twitter]


Seth Bourque 2:07 AM  

Dane Cook is an obscure reference at best at this point in time, and a bad one even if it weren’t so dated. Cook is so bad he was named the worst comedian by his own home town (Boston)

puzzlehoarder 2:09 AM  

Great Saturday puzzle. Printing it out I was a little worried by the look of the two closed off corners. Either you're going to get those of and by themselves or not. They were really cut off. I should have just worried about the whole puzzle. Getting a clean grid on this was like pulling teeth.

The NE and the SE weren't that bad but the central stair step really bogged me down. Getting the NW corner didn't really help either. Why does WOOKIEE have the extra E? My MARYANN/DARLENE write over was the single biggest roadblock. I've seen that documentary too so I ought to have known better.

Cracking the SW corner allowed me to backfill things correctly. I did spend some time sweating over the I of INA. There was just that nagging chance that it could have been a third E and ENYA is a name. However I'm sure we've had this INA before as it looks familiar.

Even more than yesterday's puzzle this one made up for an otherwise ANEMIC week.

jae 3:47 AM  



loge before IMAX for a long time.

Trouble spelling WOOKIEE and MONAE

stOPIT before DROPIT

...and I kept wanting Greta Garbo for the actress.

Major gimme DARLENE LOVE. I DVRed Dave’s last Christmas show in 2014 and have replayed it every Christmas since, mostly because of DARLENE LOVE’s performance, but also for the late Jay Thomas’s Lone Ranger story and his knock the meatball off the Christmas tree with a football exhibition.

So yeah, I liked this puzzle!

SJ Austin 4:58 AM  

That middle section was absolute murder. Had to Google my way out of it, I'm afraid. Still, I always like Erik Agard's puzzles, and this was no exception.

Unaffected 6:11 AM  

Anyone else pencil in WARREN ZEVON for the Letterman clue?

Anonymous 6:37 AM  

PDA? Can someone explain that? I thought it was a heart problem— “patent ductus arteriosis”

Lewis 7:22 AM  

Tough, tough, tough, due to vague cluing and out-of-wheelhouse answers. I like puzzles that make me dig deep and get muddy, as this did. As I improve at solving, gauntlet puzzles like this get farther and fewer between in the NYT, and I'm ever more grateful for them. Thank you Erik and Will-et-al! P.S. -- I loved the PAT SAJAK clue!

Unknown 7:22 AM  

Public Display of Affection

QuasiMojo 7:24 AM  

This one was not up my alley. Never heard of WOOKIEE (can't George Lucas spell?) nor DANE COOK or MONAE or DARLENE LOVE. I have an aversion to David Letterman and even if I had a TV I would never watch his show. Is it still on? I never liked Elvis Presley either so DIDJA was not a gimme. The tense of 55 Across seems off to me. TEXAN? Why the clue "Couleur du chocolat?" Chocolate even in France (or Haiti, for that matter) has a few different colors. Why didn't the editor change BRUN to something less obviously desperate? Why is TIMBERLAND plural? Why plug footwear anyway? Conquers should be RISES ABOVE. Then there's the McFlurry of me me me's: IM ON. I BEAM. IM DOWN. I PASS? Talk about ego. This crossword seems like a lot of needless look st me tap dancing. I give it four POOP EMOJIS.

Conrad 7:32 AM  

@anon 6:37 and @unknown 6:41: Public Display of Affection (https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=PDA%27s)

mbr 7:47 AM  

@ Anon & Unknown: PDA = Public Display of Affection

Tram 7:48 AM  

PDA - public display of affection. Common phrase among giggling teenage girls. I have one.

Owlet72 7:50 AM  

Public display (of) affection

mmorgan 7:51 AM  

I really liked this, though the NW was impossible for me. I plunked down PABLO CASALS with absolutely no crosses, but I needed every cross to get DANE COOK (who?). There’s always something fun about the word NARCOLEPTIC, and POOP EMOJI should get some sort of international award. Maybe some new category of Nobel Prize. But I’d never heard of Janelle MONAE, couldn’t get DIDJA, and thought that 8D/4D might be PAT SAJAK but had (and have) no idea why. Despite my mega-burp, there’s much to love here.

Gretchen 7:57 AM  

What is LATINX?

OxfordBleu 7:57 AM  

PDA=Public Display of Affection

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

@Lewis: Or in the MIRE...

Twangster 8:19 AM  

I started with SLEEPAPNEIC as well as WARRENZEVON but managed to recover.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

PDA - Public Display (of) Affection

Unchirama 8:22 AM  

💩 💩 💩 FTW!

Dr. Haber 8:33 AM  

Utterly knackered by Darlene, Monae, Cook, Claire. Had happy face for poop emoji. Couldn’t get blend for English breakfast. 💩

puzzlehoarder 8:34 AM  

The alternate name to INA was of course ENA. I just put that Y in there out of force of habit, also it was very late.

Mike Herlihy 8:38 AM  

@Unknown 6:37 and 6:41 -
It's probably already answered but not moderated yet, but PDA = Public Display of Affection

David 8:41 AM  

PDA = Public Display of Affection

kitshef 8:44 AM  

POOP EMOJI? What is this, early Steinberg?

LPS, IDS, MGM, PDA, TBS, UPN, NNW, RTE, AFC, EXO, AMT, BBB. Hard to remember a puzzle with that many three letter initialisms and abbreviations. Surprise PAT wasn’t clued as a football score. Don’t think this gets accepted if it’s not Erik’s puzzle: I PASS, IM ON, IM DOWN, I BEAM. Plus all the difficulty was in the proper names: COOK, LOVE and CLAIR.

kitshef 8:47 AM  

@Unknown 6:41 et al. PDA - Public Display of Affection Mods have been slow the last couple of days so probably I'm the 7th one to say so.

@puzzlehoards: Better question than "why the extra e in wookiee" is "why the two extra ys in Kashyyyk".

David 8:49 AM  

WAY too many cultural references. Had never heard of Pablo Casals,Darlene Love, nor Ina Claire and am not familiar with Dane Cook's album. And sadly, I speak no French, so had to rely on crosses to complete the 3 French phrases. And I am not a fan of #2 references, even if Patrick Stewart has lent his support to this particular one.

Carola 8:50 AM  

Satisfying Saturday! Just tough enough entertaining cluing, repeated jolts of "aha" pleasure. PDA x ANEMIC was my way in and the gateway to a slow but seamless diagonal swath to the SW and easy in-and-out of the SE. My fears of a DNF in the NW were allayed when ?OO??EE = Chewbacca!

Thankful to know: MONAE, PABLO CASALS, DARLENE LOVE (though not from Letterman)
Help from previous puzzles: DONE AND DONE, INA CLAIRE (at first I wondered about the - admittedly unlikely - IdA lupIno).
Favorite cross: PLATONIC x LOVE.

David 8:58 AM  

I loved the cluing today. Mazel tov Erik and, I guess, Will. For this guy, Pablo Casals was a gimme, Darlene Love? Whodat?

Casals was my childhood idol back when we had idols for reasons other than money and fame. He was more than "a cellist", he was a lifelong activist for peace. He was a world famous cellist who stopped playing when the Fascists took over his homeland and then Italy and Germany. He remained defiantly silent through WWII and afterwards refused to play in any country which recognized Franco's Spain [Personally, that is. He established a festival and conducted. Even, famously, through an air raid.]. When he first played at the White House it was for Teddy Roosevelt. He accepted JFK's invitation to play even though the US recognized Franco's Spain because of his deep appreciation of what JFK stood for (yeah kids, JFK was idolized for very real reasons, he was far from the philandering dilettante idiot portrayed by the Right since his assassination). That assassination happened days before Casals was to receive the honor bestowed on him by President Kennedy -- the Wiki article is a bit dry on that. Here's his reaction:

"I have seen much of suffering and death in my lifetime, but I have never lived through a more terrible moment. For hours I could not speak. It was as if a beautiful and irreplaceable part of the world had suddenly been torn away. ...Who knows what might have happened had President Kennedy lived? No single man, of course, controls the fate of all nations, and yet during his brief time as President one felt how his hand moved to heal the wounds and conflicts of the world. What savage strife we have witnessed since his death! Had he not died, how many of those who have perished in the towns and jungles of Vietnam might also be alive?" [Yes. JFK was going to take the US "advisors" out; people will tell you otherwise, but it's true.]

Those are from his autobiography, "Joys and Sorrows", published in 1970. Here's another quote from it that is more apt today than ever, what with climate and cages and all:

"In the confusion that afflicts the world today, I see a disrespect for the very values of life. Beauty is all about us, but how many are blind to it! They look at the wonder of this earth — and seem to see nothing. People move hectically but give little thought to where they are going…

"Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again. And what do we teach our children in school? We teach them that two and two makes four, and that Paris is the capital of France.
When will we also teach them what they are?

"We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child like you. And look at your body — what a wonder it is! Your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move! You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must cherish one another. You must work — we all must work — to make this world worthy of its children."

A cellist, composer, and conductor? Yes. And so much more. His mother, by the way, was born in Puerto Rico and that's where he ultimately established his yearly festival in 1956.

So. Great cluing and thanks for triggering the memories of such a wonderful human being.

Clrd2Land 9:03 AM  

Had a hard time with the clue for 55 across. It was one of those "see 44 across" references. The wording was "___ South, div of the 55 acrosses." I wanted the answer to be plural like Colts or Bears (not an AFC south team, I know) so I had the last letter as an "s". I had no idea who the poet was, so thought "Well, it COULD be Sextos, I guess." Finally just ripped out the "s", dropped in Texan and got the happy music. Still didn't like the cluing though.

Other than that a tough but workable Saturday. Like @Lewis I liked the Sajak clue - I like a clue that makes me smile and shake my head at the same time.

IrishCream 9:14 AM  

Thank you for sharing this!

Moana 9:20 AM  

It's shorthand for Latino/Latina. As a millennial, I got that one right away.

Suzie Q 9:22 AM  

I don't know who this puzzle was written for but I am certain it wasn't me. I'm with @ Quasi 7:24.
If the question is a cellist then the answer is either Pablo Casals or Yoyo Ma.
I have never tried to solve a puzzle with so many names I have never heard of. These names could have been chosen at random from the phone book.
After such an easy week I was hoping for a challenge but not this one.

chuck w 9:28 AM  

Gretchen: Latina is female and Latino is male, so Latinx is unspecified.

Z 9:30 AM  

Hey, anyone know what PDA stands for? Gotta love the patent ductus arteriosis theory.

Wowser, that was a PPP-riddled monstrosity of a center section. Besides the intersecting people mentioned in the write-up we also get TIMBERLANDS crashing through, and WOOKIEE and DUKAKIS around the edges.

I don’t know what you carry in your wallet, but I have a passel of credit cards, a debit card, some store discount cards, my insurance card, and exactly one ID. No DARLENE LOVE for pluralized IDS here.

Janelle Monáe put out one of the best albums of 2018, so that was easy here. I have her and St. Vincent on heavy rotation.

Warren Zevon on David Letterman.

Molasses 9:42 AM  

So many names I didn't know - Darlene Love, Ina Claire, Janelle Monae - and it turns out Klingon has the same number of letters as Wookiee, so I got stuck there too for a while.

But it was all worth it to read the excerpts from Pablo Casals' book. Thanks for sharing that, @David! I remember him as a cellist my parents admired; never knew much about him. I'll be looking for the book.

AgardNeedsToHangItUp 9:44 AM  

The brand is TIMBERLAND not TIMBERLANDS. This entire puzzle is null and void. Agard, dead to me.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Old man Shortz? Ah yes, ad hominem insults. Brava Miss Selzer, you know your master's voice, and style.

Mr. Agard, I believe this is the best puzzle I've seen from you (in The Times at any rate). Kudos.

Debra 9:50 AM  

Broke my streak.

Jstarrracewalker 9:55 AM  

Yes, thanks for sharing that.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Can anyone please give an explanation which makes sense for the 8-Down/4-Down clues resulting in “Pat Sajak”?

Klazzic 10:04 AM  

This puzzle was a no. 2. Enough of the proper nouns. Horrible Saturday. Took me close to an hour to get through this muck.

Blue Stater 10:06 AM  


Nancy 10:12 AM  

There are tough puzzles that tease you, baffle you, amuse you, intrigue you, absorb you, trick you and otherwise keep you rapt. And then there are tough puzzles that take the heart right out of you and make you want to scream.

This was the latter.

It made me want to scream in pain and it also made me want to scream in anger. Erik Agard: I don't want to know all the pop trivia that you either know (or else look up) when you construct your puzzles. I especially don't want to know about the POOP EMOJI, which I'd award to this puzzle if I knew where/how to find one on my computer. I don't know if you think all this garbage-y stuff is of earth-shattering importance, or just oh-so-cute, or if you simply like to make your solvers miserable. I think you once said that you do, in fact, take pleasure in making solvers mad at you. I found such a thing unfathomable when I read it, but I'm pretty sure that I did indeed read it.

Anyway, as I've said before, I refuse to be force-fed this stuff. After feeling I'd suffered enough, I dropped the puzzle like a hot potato. To paraphrase Groucho Marx: "I've had a wonderful time, but this wasn't it."

pabloinnh 10:18 AM  

Lordy, what a struggle. This is what Saturdays felt like (cough) years ago when I first started doing them. Scratching my head with many of the proper names and I don't own a smart phone or look at messages with emojis so no help there. The spelling of WOOKIEE for me is a glimmer from a galaxy far far away. The misdirections were not on my wavelength either. Eek.

But, mirabile dictu, I was able to eventually conquer this beast and now I feel proud and smart and can die a happy man. So thanks for that, EA, and I have stuffed and mounted your puzzle on the wall of my man cave, right next to my darts trophy. Place of honor.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Struggled mightily for half an hour and had to give up. Then I came here, saw it was an Agard puzzle, and all was explained. I detest Agard's puzzles, full stop. His cluing is awful.

How, for example, does the plural in the 44A clue (___ South, div. of the 55-Acrosses) work with the singular 55A TEXAN? It doesn't.

INA CLAIRE (23D) has exactly 12 films to her name while Ninotchka is practically synonymous with Garbo. Crossing an obscure 1920s actress's name with a singer, a cellist, and a #%@ sci-fi creature clued in a way to exclude just about the entire crossword-puzzle-solving audience is just plain cheating.

DIDJA ever see a more ridiculous puzzle? It RISES ABOVE (not OVER) laughably awful. Phooey! I'LL PASS (not I PASS).

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Pat Sajak - a contestant on "Wheel of Fortune" wiping out his accumulation with a turn of the wheel (hence bankruptcy) which takes away the prize car? If am right, it is horrible cluing. I hope someone gives a better reasoning.

JaimeB 10:33 AM  

A lame Anglo way to try to deal with Spanish grammatical gender. Better way is “latin@“ where the “@“ can be read as “a” or “o,” as needed.

JaimeB 10:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Oona Chaplin's Ghost 10:35 AM  

I really, really dislike laboring over names. Pablo Casals? Darlene Love? Didja? Monae? Sexton? That's a whole lotta big poop emoji awful right there. Throw in Dukakis and Dane Cook, and the average year these pop culture references was born in is 1938. Pretty safe to call that dated and the only way the rest of the fill could possibly compensate would be with the winning lotto numbers. [Thumbs Down Emoji]

JaimeB 10:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
QuasiMojo 10:42 AM  

Correction. Apologies to Darlene Love. I do know who she is. I saw her once in a concert. LOVEd her. It was the Letterman clue that threw me into an advanced state of amnesia. Remind me to tell you the joke about INA, YMA, UMA and OONA.

Katzzz 10:45 AM  

Dane Cook is bad, but for a time he was performing in arenas and was the top comedian in the country. I’d say he’s deservedly faded, but hardly obscure.
Seeing both Darlene Love and Janelle Monae made me happy.

Hack mechanic 10:51 AM  

Yep, went with "alacarte" for a while

Whatsername 10:55 AM  

Very very tough for me, much googling required. I expect a challenge on Saturday but hoo-boy, this with like having a tooth pulled. Started with TMI and MONDALE in the northeast. Had BLACKTEA for 20D and knew but could not think of the shoe name which really didn’t matter because that entire middle area was just brutal. Most of the proper names were a complete mystery, but I feel better now seeing others suffered with me.

The one thing I do know is football but even had trouble there. Figured out the AFC part but wanted TEAMS in 55A, just seemed like that ought to be plural. Houston TEXANS should have been easy but since I had no idea about LATINX, it made no sense without the S. Just a real workout and clues all over the place with the Bible, NFL, sci-fi, TV, politics, multiple French phrases and POOP. Good thing it’s the weekend, I’m exhausted.

xyz 10:57 AM  

LATINX - I'm soooooooo tired of this holier than thou revisionism (pre-)EMOJI, it's Imperialistic and derogatory to languages with gender, the same sort of thing PANTIEES wad up over with ole' Cheetohead. Enough Politico, I apologise. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa

Surprisingly for me, I only needed a very few googles to blow this puzzle wide open. Pretty decent effort* and fine write-up! *Critique: Heavy on the Propers.

jberg 11:03 AM  

PABLO CASALS is a gimme for most people my age, and thank God for that! He saved me from trying to squeeze Greta Garbo in there (maybe loaning one of her letters to the WOOKIEEs, whom I almost had as WOOKieEs. Got DECLARATORY right off too, but while I know what NARCOLEPTICs do (they fall asleep), I don't know why they need polysomnograms, so that one just sat there, as did the idea of a singer named LOVE who wasn't Courtney.

I knew this usage of PDA (no, @kitshef, you weren't the 7th, you were, like, the 20th), but for me it will always stand for my first Palm Pilot.

I, too, questioned the S in TIMBERLANDS, but I can imagine saying, "I think I'll get me a pair of TIMBERLANDS," (well, not be, but someone), just like I say "I'm wearing my Birkenstocks today."

Up and a little to the left is what you say to someone massaging your back, so I wanted the answer to be "aah!" - but actually it's a pretty precise clue for WNW, once you accept the north-at-the-top convention.

I thought of the tea right away -- but Twining's always capitalizes it. Upton Tea Imports, my actual source, does as well, but they capitalize everything. So I spent too much time trying to find a longer version of "bacony" for that space.

OK, my last letter to write in was the second P in that emoji; after getting all the other crosses I even considered an h in that square, since UPN is not a household name for me. But I finally gave in. It isn't that I object personally, just that I thought the NYT wouldn't do that.

Like @Clrd2Ld, I had TEXAs at first, and really thought there might be poet named SEXTOs, but fortunately I thought of the much more famous Anne SEXTON just in time.

Because of Thomas Edison, I always think MENLO Park is in New Jersey, so I resisted putting it in for 52A, but in the end I had to. Turns out there's one in Pretoria, as well.

Why is it that there is always exactly one cellist whose name everyone knows and who is considered the greatest? Plenty of famous pianists, violinists, but only one cellist (and seldom more than one flautist). Can't figure it out, so I'd love to hear anyone's theories.

Cookie 11:05 AM  

@Anon 10:03: Wheel of Fortune host. You spin a roulette wheel that has amounts of money in the spaces. In two spaces sometimes, it says Car (look it up). If you get both spaces that say Car and then solve the puzzle, you win the Car (I think it may be won at that moment, not sure).

That's an impatient, likely erroneous, explanation. Close enough, but look it up. It may be one of the most diabolical clues ever because you don't really "have" a Car, just one or two pieces of cardboard that say it.

@David, Thank you for such an intelligent contribution.

@Jae, So much said so concisely. Same challenges and thoughts. Plus thought it was Dukakas. So skewered, but entertained. So all in all, I pass, I'm down, I'm on, I'm narcoleptic. I'm all atilt.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Beautiful tribute but you made me cry.

GHarris 11:09 AM  

Total disaster. Could hardly find a foothold. So much crap that was unknowable to me. Could only finish by calling upon auto check and even then often had to run the alphabet. Not a pleasant experience.

Whatsername 11:16 AM  

@ Anonymous at 10:03 - PATSAJAK is the host on the venerable TV game show Wheel of Fortune. When contestants spin the wheel they win the prize indicated in the section where the arrow lands but sometimes instead of a prize, it says “bankrupt“.” In that case the host Pat Sajak would take back - or repossess - everything the contestant had one up to that point.

@Nancy - Very entertaining post today and I feel your pain. This was about as much fun as a tooth extraction so the Groucho quote summed it up perfectly for me.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Oh Boy! A seizure inducing flickering graphic in the critique.

Dan 12:04 PM  

In wheel of fortune the game show that pat Sajak hosts, contestants spin a big wheel. They could win a prize such as a car, however if the wheel lands on bankrupt, they lose the prizes and money they’ve one that round. Hence pat sajak repossessing your car when you’re bankrupt

Crimson Devil 12:04 PM  

I usually enjoy this constructor’s work so was looking forward to the solve. Still looking for it.
WAY too many names I’ve never heard of.

krazykat 12:09 PM  

Ina Claire? Seriously? I've never heard of her, and I once got Hattie McDaniel in the Kevin Bacon game.

First yesterday's reference to the Houston Aeros hockey team (?????) and now this. I think I'll go back to Killer Sudoku puzzles. One doesn't require a lexicon of obscure numbers to solve those.

Joe Bleaux 12:12 PM  

Had this been my first Agard puzzle, I wouldn’t even have bothered next time I saw his illustrious byline. What the hell, Erik?

Joaquin 12:20 PM  

To quote the immortal Frank Barone, "Holy crap!" I felt like I was at a 6-way intersection and all signs, in every direction, pointed to Natick.

Speedweeder 12:20 PM  

At last, a challenging puzzle. Too many easy ones of late. This is what Saturday is supposed to look like.

Malsdemare 12:21 PM  

This thing killed me. I really need to make SOME sort of progress, even if slow and plodding, in order to stay motivated, but there was stuff that WOULD NOT FALL. So at 30 minutes, I cheated, and when that didn't help, cheated again. And, well, that's how it went. I never did finish on my own.

It’s not the puzzle's fault; it’s Saturday, I've no idea who DARLENELOVE is, FIREAXE just would not emerge, so the few letters that might aid my memory weren't there. I wanted NARCOLEPTIC, but couldn't see CORED, so kept putting it in and taking it out. What a mess. If I solved on paper, the thing would be one big hole at this point.

But I loved the writeup, Eli, and now I will read the bloggerati and feel better.

Stanley Hudson 12:22 PM  

Guaranteed you’ve heard Darlene Love a million times during Christmas seasons, even if you didn’t know her name.

Uncle Alvarez 12:23 PM  

Does PDA = Public Displays of Affection?

Malsdemare 12:24 PM  

@quasimojo. An ego and superego walk into a bar. The bartender says, "I"m gonna need to see some ID."

You're welcome.

Barry Frain 12:25 PM  

Dane Cook is a misogynistic boor.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Archambeau 12:27 PM  

Dear New York Times Crossword Puzzle: I, too, used to enjoy Darlene Love's rendition of "Christmas Baby (Please Come Home)" on David Letterman's show, but she is not "seen annually" on that show, because that show is no more. Also, it has been just over 1,300 years since anyone referred to an IT company as a "dot com." YOU ARE HEREBY RELEGATED TO THE CORNER OF THE DONUT SHOP WHERE THE RETIREES NURSE THAT ONE SMALL COFFEE ALL MORNING. SHAME! SHAME!

OffTheGrid 12:35 PM  

I join the growing crowd that found the puzzle distasteful. Too clever by half, e.g. the Ninotchka clue. Of course we all thought of Garbo but no it was, wait for it, INACLAIRE! I do wish Erik a speedy recovery, though. I'm sure he hurt his arm reaching for some of the entries. And shame on Patrick Stewart. Jean-Luc would never have done that.

Unknown 12:40 PM  

Agard is more of a mid week type of guy, not quite yet a Saturday constructor. It shows in some of the awkwardness displayed here.
Looks like good old Rex is filling his xword harem, with , yikes, those awful white men!

Malsdemare 12:40 PM  

@david. Your tribute to Casals was wonderful; thank you. My granddaughter has started playing the cello. Could you recommend an album of his (or two) that she would enjoy? You can add YoYo Ma if you'd like. Thanks.

Z 12:51 PM  

Since the PPP upset so many, I did a quick count. 26/68 for 38%, well over the 33% mark where the PPP impacts some subset of solvers.
I do disagree with the “dated” and the “too modern” plaints. Janelle MONÁE, PAT SAJAK, IMAX, OSHA, WOOKIEE, AFC, TEXAN, Clue 2008 version, and DANE COOK are all much more this century than we usually get. But we still get INA CLAIRE, Elvis, PABLO CASALS, Pixy STIX, PAT SAJAK, the prophet AMOS, and Anne SEXTON for those with a more “classic” cultural center (yes, PAT SAJAK makes both lists). Too much PPP I agree, but at least there’s a little something for everyone.

As for LATINX, language reflects and limits how we view things. One of the major problems with Latino/Latina/Latin@ is that they all presume a gender binary world. To recognize that gender isn’t binary is no more “pc” than it is to recognize that the earth is not at the center of the universe. Stomping your foot doesn’t change reality.

Joe Dipinto 1:06 PM  

What, I'm the first one to notice that ERIK AGARD and POOP EMOJI are anagrams of each other?

I'll take Pablo Casals, Janelle Monae, and Darlene Love. Will Shortz can keep the rest.

Joseph M 1:20 PM  

What does it say about the world today that smartphone users choose POOP as their second favorite image? What does it say about the NYT that POOP EMOJI is a crossword answer? What does it say about me that I have now written the word POOP three times on a crossword blog?

I know that Eric Agard is a crossword whiz, but I’d rather be a NARCOLEPTIC than solve another another puzzle like this again.

nyc_lo 1:25 PM  

I think DOTCOMS should be more properly clued “Companies known for staggeringly overvalued IPOs” or something. And if “net” was meant to be cute, then it should have been in scare quotes. Also the obscure and dated proper name mess in the middle is terrible. I came expecting to see Rex wielding his flaming sword of crossword judgement, so was mildly disappointed to find a guest blogger (but fine job, Eli).

jb129 1:26 PM  

I love Erik's puzzles & was so happy to see him - today - a SATURDAY! But you killed me Erik!

JC66 1:28 PM  

@Joseph M

You might want to reconsider the meaning of "#2" in the clue for POOP EMOJI (unless you were joking).

jb129 1:30 PM  

Yeah - what's up with Poop, Erik? C'mon, Ive finished your Stoner Sunday puzzle (my era) but I know you've got more class than that! Please don't let me down, pal xo

Newboy 1:44 PM  

Good stuff bubbling up in your review Mr. Selzer. Tougher for me with ambiguous clues and obscure references hanging me out to dry. Can see why Monae is a hit after watching in a MeToo era, but she and this puzzle are not my cuppa today.

JC66 1:45 PM  

@Erik Agard is a co-author of today's Saturday Stumper as well. I'll let you know how it was out upon completion.

Joe Dipinto 1:49 PM  

@Malsdemare -- another, younger, cellist your daughter might want to check out is Matt Haimovitz. He started out on the typical classical-prodigy track, but when his record label dropped him he went a different route, playing the Bach solo cello suites on tour in clubs rather than concert halls, adding contemporary, edgier stuff to his repertory, etc. I can't recommend a specific recording -- I think the one I have is a compilation -- but you can view his Wikipedia entry for more info. He runs his own record label now.

I also like Pierre Fournier (deceased) and Mischa Maisky, as well as a Dutch cellist named Pieter Wispelwey. Maisky has a very "romantic" sound, plus, as one article puts it, "one of the most essential ingredients for any cellist - iconic hair."

There's plenty more good choices out there as well!

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

46A is the greatest crossword clue ever written.

Unknown 2:03 PM  

Should have been Somnambulist. This has a better vibe than narcolept.
The latter , to me, suggests sleep thief.

Nancy 2:22 PM  

This was a tough one as I was not familiar with many of the proper names. Also I think English [B]reakfast should have been capitalized - since it wasn't I got stuck thinking it was something about an actual English breakfast, not the tea variety. I don't know how the guest blogger and some commentators can think this was medium difficulty at 8:40 solving time - this took me 48 minutes! But I'm pleased that I finally got through it with no Googling (not always the case on Saturdays).

Mo-T 2:27 PM  

Wow. Some tough comments.

I like a struggle, so this was a good puzzle for me.

Because I'm 68, I knew Pablo Casals. Darlene Love sang some of the most memorable tracks of my youth. I have heard Dane Cook on XM radio comedy channels. I know Janelle Monae 13A.

Declaratory 32A and Fire Axe 40A gave me some trouble for a while. And I could not get kleptomaniac out of my head for some time before I thought, Oh duh. Narcoleptic! 28A

Thank you Mr. Agard. He's a Rebel, ya know.

And so is she at 76 years old.


JC66 2:33 PM  

So, for me, the Saturday Stumper was easier than usual; maybe because I'm used to @Erik's cluing.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Thank you for filling in. This one was hard for me, and interesting.

Good to see Darlene Love in here, but the clue was a disservice to her. The Letterman appearances rank way down in the list of her achievements.

Malsdemare 2:43 PM  

@Joe Dipinto, thanks for the suggestions. I'll check them out.

Chip Hilton 2:47 PM  

Many of you who don’t know DARLENELOVE know her voice. She is the lead singer on the rock and roll classic “He’s a Rebel”. The song is credited to The Crystals but the wonderful Ms. Love, of The Blossoms, was called on in order to get the song recorded quickly (I believe The Crystals were unavailable). A neat bit of trivia: Gene Pitney never had a number one hit as a singer. The closest he came was #2 with “Only Love Can Break a Heart”. The song that was #1 at the time? “He’s a Rebel”, written by . . . Gene Pitney.

Darlene Love still performs and still possesses one of the great voices. She is rightfully in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Good Saturday puzzle which stumped me with the cleverly-clued PAT SAJAK. Fun.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Worst puzzle of the year so far for a non American like me, too many unknown names here in the UK that this was no fun and not possible to solve. Shame.

Masked and Anonymous 3:32 PM  

Names we knew:
* PABLOCASALS. Got him, off a letter or two.
* DARLENELOVE. Got her, off zero filled-in letters.
* SAJAK & PAT. Cute clue.
* DUKAKIS. Didn't quite spell him right, tho. (Had an -AS endin, for a short spell.)
* SEXTON. PuzEatinSpouse knew her.
Names we didn't know:
* DANECOOK. Sounds slightly familiar. Sorta like GUAR does, now.
* TIMBERLANDS. Better clue: {Forested areas}. Throw us a bone, whydontcha.
* AMOS. Can't help wonderin what ANDY said, in reply. Maybe: "Time to take yer meds, bro?"

Sooo … kinda a wash, on the name games.

Enjoyed many of the puzgrid layout amenities:
* Jaws of themelessness, on the E and W edges. Scenic Public Display of Artfulness. Elicits stairs.
* Isolated NW and SE corners. They absorbed the brunt of the scrabble-twerkin. Trip-X's, in the SE! Dad-guar!
* Semi-isolated central top and bottom zones. They absorbed the rest of the scrabble-twerkin.
* Vast NE-to-SW diagonal swath of vast, open low-scrabble territory. Quite a constructioneerin task, to fill all that; Agard musta suffered -- M&A sure did.

staff weeject pick: BBB. Stands for BigBadBond.
fave ode to all the modern sosh meeds: POOPEMOJI.

Thanx for the kookiee challenge, Mr. Agard. Pretty good stuff, but I recall seein much better from U.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

themed-up fix:

Fred Romagnolo 3:38 PM  

46A is disgusting. Shortz should be fired. Ina Claire was also important in "Claudia." Piatagorsky, was a legendary cellist of the 20th c. Pluralizing the clue in 44A is the worst kind of crossword puzzling. Expecting even fans to remember the exotic spelling of WOOKIEE is akin to using obscure rapper names, another offense in puzzling. Aren't acrosses supposed to be of help to the solver? This was a glaring example of an "Aint I cute" crossword.

Vanda 3:40 PM  

Darlene Love's vocals + olde-time animation + funny lyrics (from SNL):


Joe Dipinto 3:47 PM  

@Chip Hilton -- yes, it was a logistical thing. Phil Spector wanted the song for the Crystals but a couple of other artists were about to release their versions and the Crystals were on the East Coast while Spector was in California. So he rushed the Blossoms, who *were* in California, into the studio to record it so he could get his "Crystals" version out first.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

IMDOWN with that!

Raoul Duke 3:53 PM  

Wonderful puzzle, this is what a Saturday should be. Kudos to Erik, always a delight when I see your byline!

That stairstack of five in the middle is impressive. Cluing was fun and clever. Never heard of the cellist or the 1939 actress, but I still got it in just under 15 minutes. Thanks!

Fred Romagnolo 3:54 PM  

@speedwheeler: from yesterday, Thanks for the clarification; shame on me, my son has many tennis trophies, and still plays at the age of 47.

Chuck Chagrin 4:00 PM  

I enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed this puzzle, which is not at all.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

I don't know how the wheel of fortune car prize thing works. Do you win a car and then you have to risk losing it? That sucks.

Kathy in NM 4:07 PM  

Made me tear up, too. I remember those days.
BTW, DNF! Really a tough one for me, even with all the googlables (Did I just coin a new word?)
Probably because I remember THOSE days, but never heard of Dana Cook or Darlene Love.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

I must agree with my fellow/girl anonymouse at 10:23.

Vanda 4:12 PM  

@Anonymous 4:04 -- The "Wheel of Fortune" m.o. has been explained above. Search the comments for the word WHEEL. (Hit CNTR + F and enter WHEEL in the search field.)

Always useful to skim or search the comments before posting a question.

FrankStein 4:14 PM  

@Joe, I would add Jacqueline du Pré.

Beadola 4:20 PM  

Hard but fun! To everyone who thinks they learned a statistic about the poop emoji - I don't think you did. I took it as it's not the second most used emoji, it's actually "number two" (and found it hilarious).

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

Hey all,
Off topic. But I'm under a tornado warning. IN NJ!!!!!
Keep a good thougnt if you would.

Anonymoose 4:45 PM  

Police sting---PO-OP.

Aketi 4:50 PM  

@Nancy, didn’t have time to do yesterday’s puzzle until today so my answer to yesterday’s question is that when I climb a tree I can look at the branches and not the void below.

Wundrin' 4:51 PM  

But you have to solve the puzzle for the round in which you hold both 1/2 cars to win the car. Can Pat do a repo after you solve the puzzle and win the car? If not then the clue doesn't hold up.

Magic Man 4:53 PM  

Our thoughts will prevent tornado damage and death.

Aketi 5:04 PM  

Before I did today’s puzzle, I received an email from a friend in Belgium. He sent me a news story about some kids that stole one of the art installations on the beach. Apparently they have decorated their beaches with sculpted emojis that are on poles planted in the sand. He found the kids choice of the emoji they stole to be quite amusing. They were caught and the emoji was reinstalled and their punishment is to clean up the beach. Little did I know that that same emoji would appear in today’s puzzle.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

You have to win the game you get the 2nd car wedge, or one later. Here's the rule -
“1/2 Car Tag”: During the second and third rounds of play, two “½ Car Tags” are on the Wheel. A contestant must collect two “½ Car Tags” and correctly solve the puzzle to win the car.

a.corn 5:25 PM  

The Houston TEXANs are an NFL team in the AFC South.

Z 5:33 PM  

@Wundrin’ - To elaborate and belabor- You can get the necessary two “1/2 car” wedges but then spin the wheel and land at “Bankrupt,” at which point PAT SAJAK will “repossess” your car, id est the two 1/2 car wedges. Once you solve the puzzle for the round and win the car PAT SAJAK cannot take it away.

@Anonymoose - Har. “po po” has made the puzzle so it seems to me PO OP is next.

The flushing toilet clue yesterday, POOP EMOJI today, are we looking at a Sunday diarrhea theme?

pmdm 5:48 PM  

Had to do some shopping today, so got to this blog after 5 PM. Just as well, considering the wealth of commets.

Whatsername: there is a difference between one and won. Not in pronunciaqtion but in meaning.

Z: Congress passed legislation forming OSHA in 1970. I started working for it in 1976. Hardly PPP from this century. Hardly this century. A cream pie in your face for that miscue.

Speaking of cream pies (remember Eric's Jeopardy! appearance?), Eric criticizes this puzzle in his own comments (go to XWordInfo.com). While the PPP in this puzzle made me very unhappy, I do applaud that Eric is open-minded enough to mature. And some of his recent efforts bear this out.

DiPinto: Gee, I was going to mention Fournier but you beat me to it. How wonderful I am not the only person in the universe who remembers his name. One of the problems is that the greatest composers tend to be virtuosos of the piano or violin. As it turns out, one of the most probing conductors who recently died is the cellist Harnoncourt. Of living cellists besides Yoyo Ma, Carter Brey is quite fantastic. If you are interested, search his name. There are a number of You Tube recordings that you may love, as well as an interview leading to his concert of the Cello Sonatas of Bach.

I can't wait for the comments about tomorrow's puzzle. I will predict you will either love the puzzle or absolutely hate it. But I could be wrong.

burtonkd 6:13 PM  

Was going to write the same thing, couldn't remember how to spell it.

Bill G. 6:13 PM  

Having read through all the comments, I have yet to see any explanation for how TEXAN (singular) could possibly be the answer to 55A "AFC South, div. of the 55-AcrossES". I knew the answer, but still couldn't fill it in as it clearly calls for the plural TEXANs.

Joe Dipinto 6:13 PM  

@FrankStein -- yes, Jacqueline du Pré is another. I didn't list her only because I'm not familiar with her recordings.

@Malsdemare -- another thought: there's not too much flashy solo virtuoso stuff written for cello -- not like for the violin and piano -- but look into chamber music too: cello/piano sonatas, piano/violin/cello trios, string quartets, etc., by any number of composers. Yo-Yo Ma has some chamber music recordings, not sure how much is out there by Casals.

To those who despised today's puzzle, cheer up: tomorrow's is excellent. At least I thought so. (I had to do it right away so as to obliterate all mental vestiges of this one.)

OISK 6:18 PM  

To paraphrase an old commercial, I can't believe I solved the whole thing. And like the guy in the ad, I need an antacid. For me, this was an awful, unrewarding slog. Dane Cook crossing Darlene Love? Poop emoji? Walletful as the clue for "ID's" ?? Terrible. Monae? Didja? Pixy Stix???
Cored for unseeded? Bad, bad, bad. And yesterday's was so lovely.

On the topic of Latinx, mis queridx amigx, ( my dear friends, using the new genderless grammar...)this reflects a new movement in Spanish, which I HOPE exists only over here, and has not infected Castillian Spanish. As is also the case in French, German, Italian, Hebrew, and I am sure many other languages, the masculine form of the noun is used to express plurals for gender-mixed groups. But there are those who resent such male-dominated plurals. Hence, instead of Latinos, (masculine plural) or Latinas, they have come up with the genderless (and ugly) alternative, Latinx. And I have already seen "Amigx" as well. So far, the French are holding firm, thank you, my cherx amix... - um, chers amis....Same for meine lieben Freundx (um...lieben Freunde) in Germany... I fear for Italian - amici is such a lovely word...

Bill G. 6:18 PM  

Having read through all the comments, I have yet to see an explanation for how 55A could possibly be TEXAN (singular) for the 44A clue "AFC South, div. of the 55-AcrossES" (plural). I knew the answer but still couldn't fill it in as it clearly called for TEXANs.

pabloinnh 6:36 PM  

@Chip Hilton, Joe DiPinto-Great stuff about Darlene Love and some 60's music remembrances. I love this era and learned some things that were to me way more interesting than today's puzzle. Of course, the commentary is often more interesting than the puzzle, and that's why we're all here, I suppose. You both may be interested to know that my little do-wop group was once the opening act for The Shirrelles when they appeared locally, and I have the signed poster to prove it.

Chip-Soapy and Biggie say hello. They haven't aged a day.

Masked and Anonymous 7:04 PM  

yo, @Bill G. -
I reckoned that the sorta sneaky 44-A clue was usin this line of reasonin:

* One 55-Across = TEXAN.
* "55-Acrosses" = plural of (55-Across) = plural of (TEXAN) = TEXANs.
sooo …
"div. of the 55-Acrosses" = "div. of the Texans".

M&A Help Desk

Anonymous 7:05 PM  

Magic man,
Thanks for the mockery. You must be some kinda man.

Bree140 7:17 PM  

All these cellist recommendations, and nobody has yet
mentioned Rostropovich? TSK!

Runs with Scissors 7:54 PM  

This was a great puzzle.

Totally in my outhouse; I almost didn't finish. Well north of anyone else's time (no, I don't time myself but the site tells me). I just wasn't seeing much of it, but it slowly - like molassess in winter - oozed into the grid.

I bow to the constructor. You almost got me. But, in the end, I overcame.

POOP EMOJI is number 2? I mean, yeah, poop & #2 are synonymous, but as a phone thingie? Really?

DUKAKIS. Tank. 'Nuff said.

I live in southern California - less than 5 miles from Disneyland - and I have never, ever, in my 57 years, heard or seen LATINX to describe anyone.

My AXILLA were sweatin' on this puzzle. Har.

I did not know the WOOKIEE(s) were from that Kashyyyk.

I do know that the most egregious error in Star Wars was this (put on your blinders if you can't abide Star Wars Trivia):

The comment by Han Solo that the Millenium Falcon "did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs" is stupid. A parsec (= to approx 3.26 light years) is a portmanteau of "parallax second", which is a measure of distance and not time. If it's 12 parsecs away, it's 12 parsecs (or 37.2 light years) away.

Whew, finally go that off my chest.

Had fun, but almost didn't get through this. As a Saturday should be.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Bill G. 8:23 PM  

Thanks to the M&A Help Desk

Nolaist 8:23 PM  

With you on the alacarte

Anonymous 9:20 PM  

After my bike ride this morning, I spent 5 hours watching the first stage of the Tour de France. Best thing to do on a hot humid day.
Darlene Love also covered the Band’s only Christmas song, Christmas Must Be Tonight. A very “Band” song, and she did it justice.

DrBB 10:29 PM  

8D/4D was kinda brilliant. Would have appreciated it more if I wasn't so PO'd at the Natick minefield in the center. Except Casals, which was actually a gimme for me. But waaaaay too high proper noun density for my taste. Who knew Wookiee had the extra 'e'.

Bleh. .

Whatsername 11:01 PM  

@pmdm - what? You have something against homonyms? Just kidding. That’s what happens when you voice dictate your comment and don’t proofread before posting. I noticed it after the fact but didn’t think it was worth correcting.

Joe Dipinto 11:05 PM  

@Pablo -- You opened for the Shirelles! Way cool!

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Huh? Who? What? (Summary of this infuriating pisser.)

spacecraft 11:53 AM  

I did about half this puzzle on sheer guesswork. I could have had a DNF in about 8 or 9 places, for all I knew--but it must be my lucky day: I was right all around! DONEANDDONE!!

The meanest, dirtiest clue was "Unseeded?" for CORED. I had CO___ and tried running the alphabet for all three missing letters! No, I never heard of Darlene Love. Liked Dave, but never watched the Christmas show. Just one of many PPPs I didn't know.

Luckily I knew the cellist as soon as I had the -LS in the NE. Way in was SKI/DUKAKIS. But the old actress and the standup and MONAE...these were guesses. Somewhat surprised (but not really bothered) by the appearance of POOPEMOJI; I guess one is entitled to one's favorite (???) image.

The Elvis song puts me in mind of "High Society," an awesome multi-star movie with the song "Well, Did You Ever." (No, I never...What a swell party this is!) So much better...

I have to balance a near-record-breaking triumph point total with the glut of proper names in this one. I suppose any of the ladies here (MONAE, INACLAIRE, DARLENELOVE) could be DOD--but don't forget about Tori AMOS! Would have enjoyed more words and fewer names--and less "#2"--but Mr. Agard deserves at least a par for the difficulty bar to RISEOVER.

P.S. Wait: why not make Grace Kelly, star of "High Society," DOD?

leftcoast 2:11 PM  

After a couple of slow walk-throughs, realized I was just too old for this one.


Burma Shave 2:35 PM  


AND when I'MDOWN I'MON the task,
IMAX out on PDA,
but if she IDS me, then IPASS.


Diana, LIW 5:09 PM  

I agree with @Spacey (hooray for you!!) except he didn't DNF, and @Lefty except I kinda finished. Or, should I say, kept at it. After cheating. Much cheating.

But, even after the cheating, my TIMBERLAkeS didn't walk me home today.

Yes - less PPP and P**P. Too old and female, I'm thinkin'.

I'll be away for about 10 days or so, but I'll see you SyndieCats for the Sunday Slog tomorrow. Off to the Krazy Kar show in Kalifornia.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting to drive a Duesie

PS - Thanks, @Rex, for stopping by and helping @Cutler yesterday. Nice to see you in the SyndieCat Alley.

rainforest 6:12 PM  

Wow! I echo @Spacey on this uber challenging puzzle. I didn't know MONAE, INA CLAIRE, and DANE COOK, although PABLO CASALS was a gimme, and that centre section was tough as nails. Oh yeah, DARLENE LOVE-another wtf. But, BUT, I got it done. Huge triumph factor here. I rarely say this but I can't say I liked this much. I've heard of the POOP EMOJI, and the clue for that was great. That's about it.

Too many names for total enjoyment. BUT, I finished.

rondo 6:13 PM  

I've got TIMBERLAND boots, pants, shirts, socks in the closet, all with the oak tree logo. Gimme there. Got them all at a TIMBERLAND outlet store in Bar Harbor, ME. Got LOCALOFFICE from just the L in LPS. Those 2 long downs super helpful.

Multi-talented Janelle MONAE is definite yeah baby material, but it OCCURs to me that our Venn diagrams on music have little overlap.

My phone is probably smarter than I am aware, and I'm vaguely familiar with the POOPEMOJI, but that SW corner took too long. DANECOOK virtually unknown to me. Still got it all, so IMDOWN with this puz.

Monae 2:57 AM  

odd, 40a 42a clues use DOWN, which is also an answer [1d. I'M DOWN]

Down clues make me a cross solver.

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