Siamese fighting fish / SAT 7-28-19 / Tragedy first performed in 431 BC / Roman god invoked by Iago / Believers who practice ahimsa / Manner of speaking in eastern Virginia

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Medium? Maybe Medium-Challenging? (solved it on clipboard, in comfy chair, untimed)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: "TARAS Bulba" (18D: Gogol's "___ Bulba") —
Taras Bulba (Russian«Тарас Бульба»Tarás Búl'ba) is a romanticized historical novella by Nikolai Gogol. It describes the life of an old Zaporozhian Cossack, Taras Bulba, and his two sons, Andriy and Ostap. The sons study at the Kiev Academy and then return home, whereupon the three men set out on a journey to the Zaporizhian Sich (the Zaporizhian Cossack headquarters, located in southern Ukraine), where they join other Cossacks and go to war against Poland. [...] The original 1835 edition reflects the Ukrainian context of the story. In response to critics who called his The Government Inspector "anti-Russian", and under pressure from the Russian government that considered Taras Bulba too Ukrainian, Gogol decided to revise the book. The 1842 edition was expanded by three chapters and rewritten to include Russian nationalist themes in keeping with the official tsarist ideology at the time, as well as the author's changing political and aesthetic views (later manifested in Dead Souls and Selected Passages from Correspondence with his Friends). The changes included three new chapters and a new ending (in the 1835 edition, the protagonist is not burned at the stake by the Poles). The little-known original edition was only translated into Ukrainian and made available to the Ukrainian audience in 2005.
• • •

I generally love Byron Walden's puzzle. I *liked* this one—it's tough, fairly smooth, and has a lot of original / unusual entries (all pluses), but for some reason the marquee stuff just didn't grab me. It felt technical. I didn't even know TIDEWATER ACCENT was a thing, so I can't really appreciate it, and LOAN TRANSLATION is fine but dull. In getting both ACCENT and TRANSLATION, I had this feeling of let down, like ... that's it? Part of a professional argot, not springy, bouncy, mainstream stuff. Fine, not at all *bad*, but kind of a waste of prime real estate, imho. As for the rest of it, most of it was a challenging, good time. Only times I really screwed up my face in distaste were 1. FARMPLOW (??). This felt awfully redundant. Where else are we using plows, now? I guess there are snow plows, OK, but I feel like we all agreed to call FARMPLOW just "plow" and I liked it that way. TEEN PEOPLE was basically TEEN + [throw a magazine title in here and pray!]. Actually PEOPLE came to mind reasonably quickly, but since it was in that big open area in the SE, it was tough to confirm. Wait ... Oh, right, sorry, I was listing the times I made faces. So 1. was FARMPLOW and 2. was TARAS (18D: Gogol's "___ Bulba"). Gogol is a reasonably famous writer and so fair game, but my god TARAS feels like hardcore crosswordese. In my entire life, that title has only ever come up in crosswords. I learned it from there, and there it was stayed. So it feels emblematic of the worst kind of crosswordese: old-school gate-keeping. If you've been solving *forever*, it's probably a gimme, but if you've been solving even a Long Time in this century, there's a good chance you've Never seen it, and since it is nowhere near inferrable: tough luck. This is just the third appearance of this clue since I started blogging ('06), and only the second of this decade. By contrast, here's the frequency of "TARAS Bulba" clues in the '70s:

from xwordinfo
I guess I should just be grateful that we don't get the [Tannin-yielding plants] clue anymore, yeesh. Anyway, this Gogol clue splits the solving audience *hard*—it's (likely) a handout to us ancients, and (likely) a bleeping mystery to younger solvers, even those who in recent years have solved a Ton. I'm just saying, I'd go for the plural name over the partial title. Feels more democratic.


Having HIRES and SAPPHIRES in the same grid, so close to each other (practically on top of each other) was a little unfortunate. Repeated letter strings of that length aren't totally taboo, but you'd usually try to keep them apart so as not to draw attention to them. Binge-eating is certainly a real phenomenon, but something about BINGE EATER (22D: Certain obsessive-compulsive) feels bad to me. Cruel somehow. I don't like being excited / entertained by guessing someone's malady. Again, *not* offended. I'm just explaining why I didn't completely love the vibe of this puzzle. Also cruel: the clue on ASHLEE (44A: Simpson who infamously lip-synched a song on "S.N.L."). Not inaccurate. But mean. She has become overdefined by that moment of public humiliation. Again, it feels not great to have my puzzle pleasure REST ON someone else's suffering. I'm probably overfocusing on the negative today; Byron's just so good that my expectations are unreasonably high. Things started out with a fantastic BOING (1A: Spring report), and continued on in a largely impressive, engaging way. There were just fewer wow moments than I would've liked. Probably more SENARY (?) (34D: In base 6) and BETTAS (??) (1D: Siamese fighting fish) moments than I would've liked as well.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

69 comments:

Loren Muse Smith 5:33 AM  

Yo, Byron – I got your number, man. This is by far the easiest time I’ve had with one of your puzzles. The southeast gave a bit of a fight, but once I got OTTAWA, it all sorted out just fine. This is some good stuff. You scare me, but like Rex, I relish your puzzles.

Loved, loved, loved the clue for BOING. A pilot’s prayer: May our Boeings never BOING.

OPIATE – I tell ya, this whole deal about how big pharma has flooded some rural towns (especially in Appalachia) with opioids is staggering. Gee, thanks, Purdue pigs.

As I get more and more sappy, I guess I’m becoming a full-on JAIN. I noticed a wasp in my house a couple of days ago, and I tried for at least 30 minutes to catch her in a little gift card box sleeve thing so I could help her get outside. She refused to crawl into it, and I just can’t bring myself to kill her. She’s still languishing in here with me somewhere. But we’re cool; she understands that I mean her no harm.

The JANUS who Iago invoked was the elder Robert Janus. His son, Hugh, went into New York real estate.

LOAN TRANSLATION – who knew that earworm came from German? I throw around the term staircase wit all the time now (learned that one here). Our run-of-the-mill loan translations are pretty blah, imo. The offensive ones from pidgin Chinese like long time no see and no can do are a little more interesting since they reveal a bit of insight into Chinese grammar. How ‘bout we adopt some truly inspired LOAN TRANSLATIONS from cultures who have words and phrases for stuff that we really could use, too.

inferior raise (from Japanese age-otori): looking worse after a haircut.

cheek whistle face (from German Backpfeifengesicht): a face that looks like it needs a fist.

reheated cabbage (from Italian cavoli riscaldati): pointless attempt to revive a former love affair

go outside check see (from Inuit iktsuarpok): the feeling of eager anticipation while waiting for someone to arrive at your house. See above reheated cabbage)

back beautiful (from Japanese bakku-shan (borrowed from both English and German for back schön): the experience of seeing someone who appears good-looking from behind but not from the front.

fart goblin (From German Pumpernickel): Yeah, yeah, we just use the German word, but using the translation would just be wondrous.

yes know no know( from Scottish contranymtartle): that brief moment of fear experienced before introducing someone whose name you don’t remember.

ale fright (from Danish olfrygt): the fear that you might run out of beer.

grief bacon (From German Kummerspeck): weight that you gained from emotionally eating.

edible on top of (from Norwegian pålegg): a non-specific descriptor for anything – ice cream, cottage cheese, rice krispies, pickles, Doritos, canned peaches, Siamese fighting fish – you might consider putting on a sandwich. Currently gaining momentum in states where pot has been legalized.

lpkatzen 6:25 AM  

Gogol's Taras Bulba may be obscure, but most serious music lovers have probably run across Leos Janacek's wonderful orchestral work Taras Bulba. I didn't know the Gogol, but immediately wrote in the answer via Janacek.

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

I'm Danish and never once have I heard the word "ølfrygt" (this kind of comment pops up with every list like this). Also, Danes never run out of beer.

Lewis 6:51 AM  

@rex -- Maybe the reason Taras Bulba was in many 1970s puzzles is because it was a 1962 Yul Brynner movie? Just speculating...

First, what a gorgeous looking grid -- never been used in the NYT before. Second, 58 words, a so low solo. In case you're wondering what is the lowest count in a NYT puzzle is, it's a 50-worder by Joe Krozel (2013).

My solve went fairly smooth for a Byron Walden puzzle, with my biggest holdup in the SE, because I had MAFIA BOSS and SUFIS rather than CRIME BOSS and JAINS. As expected with Bryon, the cluing was tough. He never fails to throw in a clue classic or two, and the pair for me today was [Spring report] for BOING and [Performance bonus] for ENCORE.

This was a motivated totally-involved gripping solve; it's never a trudge with this constructor. Nor is it ever a lazy day on Walden's pond. Thank you, Byron.

Finally, I can't look at the two most SE across answers without thinking of a famous hospital.

QuasiMojo 7:26 AM  

Fast and furious today. Fun fill. Satisfying. I BETTA nickel some of you had never heard of Siamese Fighting Fish. I know I hadn't. TETRAS didn't work as BOING was my first answer. I know "TARAS Bulba" more as an opera, one of those in the discount rack at Tower back in the day. TEEN PEOPLE seems kind of redundant. I doubt I'd read a mag called TEEN TURTLES. I plopped in Professor for DON, as I had PRUNE before CEASE. Maybe I was thinking of DEAN. Or Don Basilio. Loved writing in MEDEA and not MADEA. The SE seemed overly clinical what with Binge Eaters, Opiates, even those little Blue Bottles. Not the Saratoga kind. And my eyes thought I saw Walter Reade at bottom right corner. Ottawa clue was cool. Learned a lot of interesting facts today. But had no idea who ASH LEE is. I have never seen SNL. But she was not the first to get caught lip synching. Mario Lanza was roundly chastised for singing to a recording on one of his TV appearances. He blamed the dry air and sand of the Las Vegas STRIP for messing with his pipes. Funny that people don't care that songs in movies are usually lipsynched but they go ballistic if it happens on the boob tube.

puzzlehoarder 7:45 AM  

A very Saturday Saturday. This was mainly due to a couple of stalling points. With good starts off both BOING and HEADER I got down to MEDEA in the west and BBGUN in the east, in a little over Wednesday time. The debut fish at 1D helped slow things down.

The southern half took a medium Friday time. I had the first big stall getting it started until JANUS and then BLUEBOTTLE went in. The SE went smoothly but the debut actor stopped me going into the SW.

This was my second stall. Finally coming up with REMOVES off the RE- opened up the SW. MALALA was coming back to me but I needed that second column of letters to confirm it.

A great looking grid with late week resistance made for an entertaining solve.

Suzie Q 7:48 AM  

Even solving from a comfy chair could not keep Rex from trying to rain on today's parade. @ Lewis to the rescue! Very funny. Now I can't not see Welter Reedy Hospital.
I love a Saturday puzzle that requires an extra cup of coffee and teaches me at least one new thing. Thanks Byron, as always.
I was not crazy, however, about tee box or farm plow.
Dangerous toy? First wrong guess - jarts?
Truly enjoyed @ Loren's translation list. English needs some words like those.
If there are complaints about George Brent being obscure I will admit he was usually the co-star but I'll trade you a George Brent for some modern slang or pop star any day.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Rex, you complain about TARAS, but not JANUS and dances taught by a kumu? I am BRENT out of shape after this puzzle. Springs make a report? Guns do. People do. But springs? Capital on the Rideau Canal? That was definitely some new geography for me, and I've got to imagine most people. Guess I need to spend more LETTUCE on traveling the world. Seriously? Who says LETTUCE for money? Who actually knows an AVIARIST? Thanks to bad answers or bad cluing, what could have been a fun puzzle was a bit of stinker.

mmorgan 8:03 AM  

I knew Taras Bulba. I have always known Taras Bulba. I have no idea what Taras Bulba actually is, but the phrase is as common to me as Dunkin Donuts or Clark Kent or Beethoven’s Fifth or Peaches & Cream and thousands more. Maybe it was a book in my house growing up. Maybe it was the 1962 Tony Curtis-Yul Brynner movie. (I see there was a 2009 film as well.) I don’t know.... all I know is that I know Taras Bulba.

pabloinnh 8:06 AM  

TARAS was my first answer in today, and not because of crosswords, but because I remember seeing the movie at a drive-in in Maine. Stuck in my memory because a driver cut us off as we were trying to leave and my Dad, who never complained about anything, had some words with him. He's been on my mind because yesterday he would have been 102.

JAIN I knew from the song "Universal Soldier", which points out that all religions contribute to the world's fighting forces, and "without him all this killing can't go on". That was back when we thought peace and love were important and somehow attainable.

Hand up for FARMPLOW being the greenest of green paint. Also, hello again ONEIDA. And OTTAWA is a lovely city that everyone should visit at least once. They skate on the Rideau Canal all winter.

Thanks to BW for a terrific Saturday and a wonderfully satsifying solve.

mmorgan 8:16 AM  

@Quasi — SNL has been on the air nearly every week since 1975. It is remarkable that you have never seen it. No judgment call there, I hardly ever watch it these days (sometimes the cold open, later, online, but not very often). It’s been good, great, fair, bad, terrible, and everything else over the years. Many of its skits and characters and memes and such have permeated many other aspects of popular culture. It is an amazing accomplishment that you have never see it.

Cool factoid about Mario Lanza and you’re absolutely right about lipsynchjng on TV vs film. Perhaps it’s the artifice/illusion that what’s being presented on TV is a live performance.

Jackson 8:23 AM  

Or if you listen to classical music, you know Janacek's Taras Bulba right away...

ANI 8:42 AM  

I haven’t been solving for long, maybe 6 years? Even though I’m fully fluent in English, the puzzle constructions give me pause: in Russian, where I’ve been doing crosswords since I was a kid, they rely on encyclopedic knowledge much more, and it’s rare to find a clue that’s truly puzzling. Anyway, TARAS was the first clue I put down today because I read it in high school! So every once in a while, what is rare to the majority is actually easy for me!

Hartley70 8:56 AM  

Hey, I’ve been robbed! I’m still waiting for the SAPPHIRE I was due last September. Now I’m wondering what I’ll be missing this year. Who decides this silliness anyway?

Starting off with a BOING, I knew I would like this puzzle and it didn’t disappoint. It moved quickly helped by Yul starring in TARAS, red-faced ASHLEE, George BRENT (you devil), and the BBGUN that caused some serious arguing in our house 25 years ago.

I could have sworn that fish only had one T in it’s name!

Ciclista21 8:58 AM  

TIDEWATER ACCENT. Ugh. Doubly repugnant to me because I lived in TIDE WADDAH VUH-GIN-YUH for nearly 10 years and too often encountered a snobby disdain from natives who considered me uncivilized for actually pronouncing R’s.

TARAS (Bulba). I loved this one. It was a gimme, but no thanks to Gogol. Like an earlier commenter, I knew it through Janacek’s tone poem – and the movie with Yul Brynner, which I watched only to find out something about the namesake of that music. Read Gogol? Never occurred to me. But then, I'm a rube who pronounces his R's.

LOAN TRANSLATION. I’m with Rex. That’s it? Ho hum. And fie on the unhelpful crossings MALALA and SENARY.

QuasiMojo 8:59 AM  

@Susie Q, yes I meant Walter Reed, not Reade. That's the movie theatre in NY. @mmorgan, Thanks for your comment. I have nothing against SNL. It's just that I've always been asleep early on Saturday nights -- although back in 1975 I was probably at the midnight movie. :)

Nancy 9:01 AM  

Easy until it wasn't. And in the SE, it wasn't. I had -----BOSS for "Don" and confidently wrote in MAFIA BOSS instead of CRIME BOSS. That gave me --F-- for the "non-violent to all living creatures believers", which had to be SUFIS or RAFAS, right? Wrong!!! JAINS, which I guess I've heard of somewhere, sometime, wasn't coming to me.

Now, I never Google. But George SANDS at 29D wasn't working. And close to where I was sitting, so close I could reach in and pull it off the shelf without even getting out of my chair, was my extremely tattered paperback 1985 copy of "Movies on TV". "Dark Victory" would be in it and I could get George's last name, which wasn't coming to me, either. Just stick my hand out a little ways. No need to even straighten my arm...

And there was George BRENT!! And CRIME BOSS followed. And BINGE EATER and FARM PLOW and CEASE and JAINS!! And, BOING, the puzzle was "solved"!!! (Except it wasn't of course -- not really.)

Joaquin 9:07 AM  

Does anybody ever say "trice"? In all my seven+ decades I have never used that word and never heard it spoken.

Ted 9:08 AM  

I'm clearly the wrong generation or something for this puzzle...

I've reached the point in my solving that a Saturday is usually a nice challenge, taking me a few trips around to really get filled in and maybe with a stumper or two near the end.

This was almost a complete non-starter. I got maybe 10% and then had to give up and hit Google for some clues. Skews WAY old for me.

Dave S 9:30 AM  

A struggle for me, though when I wrapped it up was more of a facepalm of why it was so difficult. But for some reason had half answers all over the place. Males but not adult, loan but not translation, accent but not tidewater, area but not growth. Add to that having put in bottlenose instead of bluebottle for some reason and nonce instead of trice, and my puzzle ended up a mess of increasingly more forcefully applied ink.

Taras Bulba, though was a gimme, the first thing I filled in (or maybe second after Nobel Prize). If you know four Russian novels you know Taras Bulba. Rex's complaints about canonical literature titles sometimes confound me.

GILL I. 9:38 AM  

So you Mensa's all got BOING at 1A? I had Robin. Foul number 1..... Ya'll knew what base 6 is? Foul number 2. George BRENT? Foul number 3. I had to phone auntie Googs three times. I guess for me on a Saturday and a Byron Walden, that's still an achievement because I finally got her done.
This lovely puzzle took lots of patience. An hour and a half of my leisure time. Getting up, moving around, drinking my latte...you know the routine.
Just A SEC was my only ugh. Had FARM Hand instead of the PLOW. WALTER REEDY to the rescue. Was pleased as a good apple pie when I plunked in JAINS. I'm kinda into a ton of religions since they fascinate me. Islam and Hinduism also preach non-violence. Amazing how you can read into the script any which way you want. I don't kill anything that tries to move because you never know if it was your hated neighbor coming back in a second life. Shirley McLane believes in reincarnation...she should know.
TIDE WATER ACCENT took me some time to get. I do recall hearing about some of those Virginia accents. I love accents - just don't speak through your nose. Anyway, I went snooping around to see if I'd heard it before...Nope. There's an Island called Tangier off of Virginia and you should take a little listen to them. Only a few left who speak the dialect and it's amazing. It sounds like a mixture of Wales, Irish and Scottish with a side set of twangs.
I guess I'm ancient...I knew TARAS Bulba.
He fell on me bad (From Spanish me cayo mal ): BINGE EATER falling off a ladder.

mjkw 9:41 AM  

once, twice, thrice. Nothing fleeting about it.

Dan 9:49 AM  

Why do you refer to “tartle “ as a contranym? I only see one meaning for it.

beam aims north 9:53 AM  

I dropped TARAS in there like it was nothing. But yeah, FARMPLOW? Also AVIARIST doesn't seem like a real word to me.

Teedmn 9:57 AM  

A typical Saturday solve for me, 28 minutes, so easy for a Byron Walden oeuvre. I adore hard, themeless puzzles and this one didn't disappoint. I was slightly apprehensive when I saw the low word count as it came off my printer last night - those are often criticized because of fill compromises the feat often requires but today I didn't notice any lessening of quality due to the mere 58 words.

A longer solve time allows me to muse about various things that arise while filling in the grid. Did LETTUCE as slang for money evolve into "kale" due to the kale "fad" in the food world or is kale contemporary with LETTUCE? And does anyone still use any of these for money, as @Anon 7:59 questions?

Filling in the SE, I had OPIATE and SLOWED going down. 41A thus was ___AW_. I had time to wonder if malAWi's capital was malAWi. (It is actually Lilongwe, which is good to know). FARM PLOW gave me our Canadian neighbor's capital.

I had thrown in an S at the end of 21A, anticipating the plural. 14D, a five letter "Body in our solar system", hmm. Could venuS have been discovered in the first half of the 19th century and if so, would it be fair to clue it that way even thought venuS is still considered a planet? I decided not, because, obviously, Venus was recognized as a planet well before the 19th century, but it still leaves the question - could you clue something that way in order to misdirect or would that not be legitimate?

Like Rex, I "made faces", i.e. wrinkled my nose, at "Gogol's _____ Bulba" but only because it was something I knew I had seen before but hadn't assimilated yet. I was surprised at Rex's stats on how seldom it has been seen in the NYT in recent decades so it must have popped up in other crossword venues. Will this be the time it sticks?

Byron Walden, another success, thanks!

Z 10:12 AM  

This was 70% “Wow I’m getting really good at these things” and 30% “I’m never going to finish.” We need a term for when esoterica like JANUS/JAINS go right in but the straightforward “Canal sight” elicits nada/nil/zilch. The world famous BLUE tse tse blowfly (see what happens your entomology comes almost exclusively from crosswords) wasn’t helping me, either. Going with an actor whose career basically ended before I was born (George BRENT) was an interesting choice. Finally saw a BARGE on the Rideau Canal, which gave me the G I needed to see BINGE EATER, and I had enough to finally finished. I wasn’t timing myself but that corner took me easily four or five times as long as rest of the puzzle.

@LMS - Bakku-shan might be a better title than Castanets for this song. And now I’ve got to find that episode of ACL, what a back-up band.

@Lewis - The nice thing was that the low word count didn’t really strain the puzzle. Not fond of TARAS and I agree with Rex on ACCENT and ADULT MALES seems a tad clinical, but for the most part a fine tussle.

@Anonymous 7:59 - Let’s look at “World capital on the Rideau Canal.” The essence of the clue is that the answer is a capital city. You don’t really need to know anything about the Rideau Canal, but that “-eau” suffix is a big hint that the capital has some French history. Knowing that Canada has two official languages and you can see French-speaking Quebec across the river from OTTAWA helps. I had OPIATE and SLOWED, and that was enough to make OTTAWA easy. The key with this kind of clue is to focus on what elements you do know, not worry about what you don’t know.

@Joaquin - I’ve used TRICE in the past month. I didn’t need to use it, but it is a word that needs more usage love.

Nancy 10:17 AM  

@Hartley (8:56) -- So you didn't get the SAPPHIRE you were due for last year? Even though you HAD FAITH that you would? ADULT MALES can be so clueless! We'll have a word with your husband to make sure that things EVEN OUT -- making your anniversary a TRUE GROWTH AREA this year.

@GILL -- Of course we both knew TARAS Bulba because of Yul Brynner -- beloved by me and not so much by you. Remind me, was he hairless or haired in that movie? I tried to look it up, but he was wearing this huge, hideous furry white hat thing in the studio pix.

Jane 10:19 AM  

I liked BOING and also ADULT MALES actually. I was expecting something tricky and it was like ‘oh duh. Don’t overcomplicate’. So the lack of cleverness there amused me!

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

GROWTHAREA was a crime that should have been covered over with some GREEN PAINT.

PaulyD 10:29 AM  

I had a similar response to Rex's. In retrospect, a beautifully crafted puzzle that never produced (for me) the frisson I often get from similar constructions. While the slightly above-average time for a Saturday (8:37) may have affected my view, I appreciated this rather than truly enjoyed it.

A couple nits:

WRT "Loan Translation", I found the clue far more interesting than the answer. Also, golf etiquette requires driving lessons take place on the range, not the tee box. No mulligans!

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

"my god TARAS feels like hardcore crosswordese. In my entire life, that title has only ever come up in crosswords."

My God too. Next to the original "West World" robot, Yul Brynner's most well know roll. It's a 1962 film, so would be sort of current in the 70s. 'Go and live with the Poles to know them', more or less. Likely Gogol's most well known work, along with "Dead Souls".

pmdm 10:33 AM  

I am surprised that Jackson is the only person who mentions Janacek, who really only wrote two matures works for orchestra without voices.

Nice puzzle.

Back to the Tour de France.

Dorothy Biggs 10:35 AM  

Weirdly, I thought I knew TARAS Bulba from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition...but that's Baba Yaga. So I have zero idea how I knew TARAS.

GROWTHAREA looks like an STD of some kind.

TIL: BLUEBOTTLE Coffee is owned by evil Nestle, named after the first coffee house in Central Europe (Vienna).

Birchbark 10:36 AM  

ADULT MALES wins the prize for most straightforward clue and answer of the year.

AVIARIST. This is a very interesting word, more architecture than birds -- more of a collector than an ornithologist or bird watcher. Unless perhaps the aviary is at a zoo or the like -- maybe then it's akin to curator of the birds. Strange word, no offense to the aviarists among us.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

thanks to the wiki, here's proof that OFL ought to know everything Brynner:
"He is an historian, novelist, and university history lecturer at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut."

The 'he' is one of Brynner's sons, also Yul. I mean, Upstate is anywhere north of Westchester, and those yokels all know each other. :)

Tom R 10:46 AM  

I found it hard but fun. Taras was a gimme. I agree with PaulyD's nits. I could suss out tee box, but you don't take driving lessons there. A better clue might have been "Place for a breakfast ball" but if you weren't a golfer that could be tough.

bigsteve46 11:03 AM  

I am always intrigued - and amused - by people that brag about what they've "never" done, seen, experienced, etc. Usually the reference is to pop culture, SNL or TMZ, for example. I think the poster wants us to believe that he is spending his time reading Proust in the original French or folding some home-made origami. This is first cousin to the people who like to casually say stuff like, I had to rush to finish this puzzle as, "I am on my way to my daily 12-mile run." Oh, how wonderful you are! Do you bring your macrame along while you run?

As mentioned by many, crossword puzzle solving depends on knowledge that like Richard Nixon's political support, is "a mile wide and an inch deep." Too much "never" is not advisable - better would be more "seldom." I had to rush to finish the puzzle before I have to run out and get a new bottle of Old Overholt - although if they're out of Old Overholt, I will happily make do with a bottle of Seagrams 7. (Yes, I know that Seagrams is a blend not a bourbon, thank you.)



P.S.: Actually, I can't remember the last time watched SNL, either!

jberg 11:06 AM  

So @PaulyD, the TEE BOX is the place where you tee off? I was assuming that tees came in boxes with little illustrations of how to fix your slice printed on them.

Great puzzle until I got to FARM PLOW, but of course I knew TARAS Bulba. Surprised everyone doesn’t.


But the best part of the puzzle was doing and fall clues in the top corners— a nice performance bonus!

Paul Rippey 11:22 AM  

I spent my teen years in Portsmouth Virginia, and so was delighted to see TIDEWATER ACCENT. But, I waited until I had a lot of crosses before I wrote it in, assuming wrongly that it was too obscure a thing ever to be in The NY Times crossword. 1:14:07 to solve this damn thing, fighting all the way. Very satisfying!

Newboy 11:30 AM  

For Nancy https://youtu.be/fkOHSmDFDFQ

Not Yul’s most shining moment (almost as questionable as John Wayne as a samurai). TARAS in a TRICE as many noted above, but this lovely puzzle was more of a YES KNOW NO KNOW moment to borrow a phrase I heard not so long ago.

BobL 11:39 AM  

"I'm probably focusing on the negative today"

TODAY?

RooMonster 11:49 AM  

Hey All !
This ROO thought it was a toughie today. Did online, and had to use Check Puz feature to ferret out the wrongness. Not a technical cheat per se, but not a completely on-my-own solve. Taking it as a win, though!

Got Naticked at the J of JANUS/JAINS, although now that I see JANUS, I should have known that, because, well, I know that name. JAINS, however, WOE (whoa.)

Add me to the Fighting BETTAS never heard of list. "Just ___" was Atad, then Abit, finally ASEC. CERES was Pluto first, because the ole brain decided to completely disregard the 19th Century part of the clue. Got a kick out of BOING, but wouldn't the clue make more sense as Spring retort? Or maybe Spring spring. Or Sprung spring. Or Cartoon bounce. Har.

Have heard money called LETTUCE. Also, cabbage, semolians (sp?), cake, cheddar, Benjamin's, cheese, dollar dollar bills, yo. :-)

RAZED and REMOVEd
RooMonster
DarrinV

Joe Dipinto 11:57 AM  

This turned out to be not as difficult as it looked at first glance. TARAS was my first entry. Basically I circumnavigated from NE to SE to SW to NW, where the T in TEEBOX was my last fill-in. I got slowed down (largoed?) in a few spots, but never came to a total standstill.

Not a stupendous Saturday offering, but still an enjoyable solve. BOING is classic, and almost makes the whole thing by itself. I wanted NONFEMALES for "Men" at first but fortunately did not put it in -- I finished with no write-overs.

Speaking of TARAS, and apropos of our 1939 movie discussion yesterday, did you know that "Tara's Theme" from "Gone With The Wind" has lyrics? It does, and they're awful.

My own true love
My own true love
At last I've found you
My own true love

No lips but yours
No arms but yours
Will ever lead me
Through Heaven's door

I roamed the Earth
In search of this
I knew I'd know you
Know you by your kiss

And by your kiss
You've shown true love
I'm yours forever
My own true love


Blech. Onward to Sunday.

(Btw, @Fred Romagnolo, I posted late last night about the 1939 Oscar categories for music, if you're interested.)

Carola 12:19 PM  

Now, that's a Saturday - very tough, very satsifying to finish. An early HEADER x HULAS gave me the notion that the solve might go quickly, soon dispelled by my failure to get any further crosses out of that corner and an expanse of white space below interrupted only by the occasional TARAS (thanks to Janacek and Tony Curtis), ROO, FILET, RELET, RANAT Somehow, though, that was enough to eventually get me to critical mass and a bouncy finish at BOING.

@mmorgan, you can add me to your short list of those who've never seen SNL - at least on TV. I did love the clips of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, though.

Z 12:22 PM  

@bigsteve46 - “bragging?” There’s lots of stuff I never watch/read/listen to. I often observe the same. I hardly consider it “bragging?” Why is my choosing not to watch, say, Game of Thrones taken as an implicit criticism of those who do? If someone doesn’t like SNL so what? To me all that observation says is that a particular clue is harder for non-watchers than people who watch it all the time. I’m with Rex regarding TARAS Bulba, but lots of people found it very easy. For me all the crosses were easy but if the crossing had been George BRENT I’d be screaming “natick.” In short, I take such comments as “observing,” not “bragging.”
(Didn’t mean to go on at such length, but I am oft puzzled by these not infrequent “bragging” comments that feel vaguely accusatory)

Birchbark 12:59 PM  

I wasn't going to say anything about TARAS Bulba, but here it is:

I wish it were a Jorge-Luis Borges title. Some place where everything is a mirror image, and a bunch of scholars bicker with each other while they sort it all out. Or the like.

Fred Romagnolo 1:00 PM  

I'd say "Dead Souls" is Gogol's most famous novel. "The Inspector General" is probably his most famous short story (1949 Danny Kay movie). In 1954's "Death of a Scoundrel," George Brent, by then white-haired, made a brief uncredited appearance. @Dorothy Biggs: as to STD's, how about Moby Dick? @Joe Dipinto: Thanks.

nyc_lo 1:01 PM  

I needed a classification beyond “Challenging” for this one, like “Excruciating,” or “Sharp Stick in the Eye” or something. Held on for dear life until miraculously NOBELPRIZE fell into place, then was able to claw my way out of things. Phew.

QuasiMojo 1:18 PM  

@Joe, isn't there also an unrelated song "Gone With The Wind"? I seem to recall a very funny Sesame Street skit based on that tune. I have seen Sesame Street. But I'm not bragging about that either. :)

Fred Romagnolo 1:30 PM  

There's also Gogol's "Overcoat" dramatized and filmed as "The Bespoke Overcoat."

JC66 1:41 PM  

@Nancy

It appear that Yul wore a top knot in TARAS Bulba.

jae 2:17 PM  

Easy-medium except for the SE where it SLOWED down. fanCy before TRICE didn’t help and neither did FuRrower (not even sure its a word) before FARMPLOW.

I also had REmediES before RELIEVES.

Solid, but nowhere near as lively as yesterday’s which may be a side effect of a low word count. Byron commented on Xwordinfo that he is unlikely to attempt going below 60 again. Liked it.

Leee 2:20 PM  

I'm a child of the '80s so knew T_R_S Bulbs straight away. How? I watched Darkwing Duck, which features a character named Taurus Bulba (an anthropomorphized bull). I couldn't quite remember the vowels, unfortunately.

That partial gimme aside, I found this puzzle diabolically hard for a themeless. My first across pass yielded just BBGUN, ASHLEE, and REEDY.

I didn't get MEDEA until very late; I had ME___, and was leaning towards METIS or something. But to make me feel like my undergrad education wasn't for naught, I at least know it's attributed to Euripides.

SE was where I got my first purchase, but looking it over now I'm astonished I did, especially when I had MAFIABOSS and SUFIS (which I had as SIKHS originally -- my sincerest apologies to the subcontinent and Islam).

jae 2:20 PM  

...and add me to those who knew TARUS from the 1962 movie....SENARY OTOH was a WOE.

Anoa Bob 2:36 PM  

When I was still in the psych biz, 22D BINGE EATER was classified as an eating disorder while "Certain obsessive-compulsive" (the clue) would qualify as an anxiety disorder. So I was taken aback when I saw that clue-answer pair.

I first heard TRICE (35D) in the Navy. It was part of the daily wake up call, "Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out and TRICE up". This came from the days when sailors slept in hammocks and meant "roll out of your hammock and tie it up out of the way". (We had a slightly saltier version that we sometimes used, "Get your hands out of your pants and put your feet on the floor".) I was surprised to learn years later---in a crossword puzzle---that TRICE can also mean a short duration of time.

It's been decades since I visited the San Diego Zoo, but they used to have, maybe still do, a small, lovely hummingbird aviary. I suppose that a person who took care of it would be an AVIARIST (40A).

Masked and Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Most major goal in solvin* this SatPuz puppy: Gettin my ahar moment, figurin out what 1-A's {Spring report} answer ended up bein.

*with occasional "research".

Early gets: ENCORE. Then ICEDUP. Then SAPPHIRES. Then kept gettin some stuff outward away from the NW, but nuthin more in the NW, until M&A's final oh-so-desperate cat-herder's last stand.

Often stopped along my staggerin way, to admire four sorta unusual things:
1. Jaws of themelessness in the N, S, E & W. Jaws-o-rama. Primo.
2. The clue numbers remained real low, seeminly forever. Over halfway thru the day-um puzgrid, and they was still in the twenties. Spooked the M&A. Kept re-eyeballin the little numbers in the gridboxes, to double-check that I was readin em right.
3. Clues were often tough, but rarely had the question marks.
4. Lotsa longball answers were so hard/weird, they didn't need no stinkin hard clues.

Fun but humblin experience, overall. M&A got thoroughly FARM-PLOWed.

staff weeject pick [Please, No Wagering!]:
Well plow my farm, there's only 2 of em to pick from: AMF & ROO. Both had easier-than-average clues. Both had friendly crossers. So … yo, @ROO … milked an F outta AMF!

… but … finally … Ahar! The unbearable likeness of BOING!
themelessthUmbsUp.

Thanx, Mr. Walden. Heckuva constructioneerin feat. U evidently musta suffered. har -- maybe serves yah right?

Masked & Anonymo5Us


**gruntz**

zephyr 2:57 PM  

The French have ‘Jolie laide ‘ which straight translates as ‘pretty ugly’ but is really a way of saying she is attractive though not. An ugly woman who is attractive anyway.

Joe Dipinto 5:11 PM  

@Quasi -- you're right, there's a standard called "Gone With The Wind" by Herb Magidson (also wrote "The Continental") and Allie Wrubel (also wrote "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah").

Their song was written in 1937, after Margaret Mitchell's book came out but before the movie. Clearly the book's popularity inspired the use of the title, but the lyrics are completely unrelated to it. It was recorded quite a bit: by Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, numerous jazz instrumentalists. It's rather a nice song. And yes I see they used it on "Sesame Street". :-)

Nancy 5:27 PM  

@JC66 (1:41)-- A topknot???!!! Oh, dear God, no!!! No wonder Yul wore that huge, hideous white furry hat thing to cover it up. Except in the link you provide, the huge, hideous white furry hat thing is pictured right above the topknot and it's [gasp] even uglier!!!

@Joe Dipinto -- I knew/know by heart the 1st stanza lyrics to "Tara's theme", but I'm damned if I had any idea that there was more than one stanza. You're right -- the lyrics are absolutely awful and it was smart to keep most of them hidden for all these years.

Runs with Scissors 7:24 PM  

Them are some old-ass fish. It's been Thailand since 1949 (round two).

Liked this puzzle. Game me some guff all around, but I eventually overcame. Getting started was not easy. Once I got some toeholds, though, it fell.

Loved BOING.

I heard the TIDEWATER ACCENT when I was in Norfolk. I won't tell you what we called it.

Hand up for Mafia before CRIME BOSS.

LOAN TRANSLATION was fun!! I immediately went and looked for more. Thanks @LMS for your list.

I am not an AVIARIST.

To those of a certain age, AMF is not bowling-related. Means something else entirely.

Personally, I've never heard anyone use lettuce, kale, et cetera for money. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Fun puzzle, feisty, some stuff I didn't know before and now do.

ADULT MALES BOING
Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Runs with Scissors 7:52 PM  

@Anoa bob 2:36 PM

...feet on the deck. :-)>

kitshef 11:38 PM  

I can't believe the number of folks reporting this as easy or fast. Allowing for personal improvement over time, I'd rate this the hardest puzzle on any day since I started solving. What I mean is, there are puzzles where I've done worse, but those were back in the early days and with today's knowledge I would have done better on those.

I did finish, but there were two large areas (NW and the area around BARGE) where I thought I was headed for a significant, 10+ blank (in each section) DNF.

albatross shell 1:55 AM  

Very busy weekend with a funeral party, a wedding, and a 25 year memorial 8 hour music concert. Didn't finish Saturday's until late Sunday morning and it was a dnf in the NW. I'm glad one other person at least put in robin at 1A. I thought such a clever clue and I am on this puzzles wave lenghth. And confirmed by ONEIDA. Ha!. Then things got so turned around I had maleadults before ADULTMALES despite ONEIDA. Happy to finish the 85% I did.

Dan 10:05 AM  

Gonna diverge from the consensus here and say that “Spring report” for BOING (especially crossed with the unguessable BETTAS) is a terrible clue, especially with a ? afterwards.

@Joaquin: I’ve only ever come across TRICE once, in Edward Lear’s poem “The New Vestments,” about a man who wears food for clothes and predictably has his outfit eaten away by packs of animals:

They jumped on his shoulders and knocked off his hat,--
When Crows, Ducks, and Hens made a mincemeat of that;--
They speedily flew at his sleeves in trice,
And utterly tore up his Shirt of dead Mice;--
They swallowed the last of his Shirt with a squall,--
Whereon he ran home with no clothes on at all.

Fortunately this was enough for me to write it in today without any hesitation.

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

Now come the triumph points, by the bushel! From the entire clue list, I got TARAS next to RELET. From that simple core things appeared one at a time. I love solving like that. Poor ASHLEE: let's give her the DOD sash.

Sorry I can't give the triple eagle, but RELET and RANAT are dumb-sounding fill, and BETTAS and SENARY feel really desperate. Still a birdie, though.

leftcoast 3:30 PM  

Relatively easy for Saturday, but hard to get a foothold.

To get going, looked up BETTAS in the NW corner. Made tracks from there, but ran into the JANUS/JAINS cross, and did a look-up again.

The grid-spanning acrosses and longest downs were my favorite answers not only because they were good but also kept me on the move.

Finished up with the unknown SENARY, which EVEN(ed)OUT its opposite corner BETTAS.

Was glad to make it that far, and enjoyed the trip.




Burma Shave 5:13 PM  

LETTUCE CEASE

The CRIMEBOSS said, "It's TRUE, I've no TEENPEOPLE HIRES;
just ADULTMALES like you, who've EXAMINED SAPPHIRES."

--- BRENT WELTER

Diana, LIW 6:35 PM  

Thot I'd posted. Guess not.

dnf another PPP beginning with a crossword end...Ahh, Saturday.

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 3:47 AM  

Felt more like a Friday puzzle. Just my opinion, but there are maybe a dozen or so Russian authors works that a Saturday-level crossword solver should be familiar with. Janacek helped with TARAS Bulba. Janacek also composed String Quartet no.1 The Kreutzer Sonata (as in the title from Tolstoy) —it's great, it'll get your attention right away. Didn't know TIDEWATER ACCENT but I've seen Barth's book Tidewater Tales. Noticed symmetry between ADULT MALES and TEEN PEOPLE. This puzzle skewed older, (Walden put CURSIVE in there to scare away the kids!)

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