Intense craving for particular food / SAT 8-24-19 / Rhyming toy / Spot to buy tix in NYC / Royal Navy stronghold during WW II / 2001 best seller with tiger on its cover / Symbols seen in comic strip cursing / Crossbow-wielding creature of sci-fi

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (8:48)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: OPSOMANIA (46A: Intense craving for a particular food) —
[it's not in Webster's 3rd Intl, so here is a wikipedia entry on opson (Gr.)]: Opson (Greek: ὄψον) is an important category in Ancient Greek foodways. First and foremost opson refers to a major division of ancient Greek food: the 'relish' that complements the sitos (σίτος) the staple part of the meal, i.e. wheat or barley.
Opson is therefore equivalent to  Banchan in Korean cuisine and Okazu in Japanese cuisine. Because it was considered the more pleasurable part of any meal, opson was the subject of some anxiety among ancient Greek moralists, who coined the term opsophagia to describe the vice of those who took too much opson with their sitos.
Although any kind of complement to the staple, even salt, could be categorized as opson, the term was also commonly used to refer to the most esteemed kind of relish: fish. Hence a diminutive of opsonopsarion (ὀψάριον), provides the modern Greek word for fish:  psari (ψάρι), and the term opsophagos, literally 'opson-eater', is almost always used by classical authors to refer to men who are fanatical about seafood, e.g. Philoxenus of Leucas.
Finally, opson can be used to mean a 'prepared dish' (plural opsa). Plato, probably mistakenly, derived the word from the verb ἕψω - 'to boil'.
The central focus of Greek personal morality on self-control made opsophagia a matter of concern for moralists and satirists in the classical period. The complicated semantics of the word opson and its derivatives made the word a matter of concern for Atticists during the Second Sophistic. (wikipedia)
• • •

There were some definite highlights here, most notably the clue on TECH SAVVY (65A: E-sharp?), which, as my friend Rebecca Falcon said to me just now, beats every damn e-joke in the e-puzzle this past Wednesday. And it's oddly impressive to get two longish V-ending entries (!!!) to stand side-by-side like that at the bottom of the grid. Clue on CROP CIRCLE, also solid in its misdirectionality (35A: Unbelievable discovery in one's field). Much of this, though, felt weird, off, or hard for bad/dumb reasons. Weird: well, that's a polite word for the ridiculous inclusion of NRA in yet another puzzle (42A: Org. with magazines on magazines). Hahaha what cute wordplay I almost forgot all the mass shootings by white supremacist terrorist who easily got their hands on weapons of war because of the NRA. Tee hee. It's fun! Change C'MON to CLOT, and we're done. Nobody's gonna like TRA, but nobody's gonna like ATS or OID, and they're in here, so ... I guess I should be happy that they managed to lay off the right-wing cluing at 12D: Take precedence over (TRUMP). Tone deaf and amoral is the kind of cluing I've come to expect from the current regime. So that sucked.

Also sucking: HALFA (!?!?!) [space] LOAF (52D: With 38-Down, amount to make do with). First of all, what? Second of all, ugh, bad enough to split a phrase, but to have to resort to cross-reference for a phrase this weak and lumpy?! Terrible. The TO in ACTODC is making my eye twitch. WET NOODLE is not a thing people say, and certainly not a thing people say to describe a [Wimp]. It's too close to WET BLANKET. I think I know the phrase only from an idiom ... something's being "better than 50 lashes with a WET NOODLE"—did I make that up? Dream it? Hang on ... HA, no, I'm *right*—though the number of lashes seems to vary widely. Here's a NYT headline that uses 50, so I feel vindicated. But [Wimp]? That ain't it. (side note: don't ask urban dictionary what WET NOODLE means ... just don't).

Then there's OPSOMANIA, which, oof. Yes, I do love to learn new words, blah blah blah, but this is someone's wordlist run amok. It's difficulty for difficulty's sake. Nothing very edifying about it. Also, the "W" in SLOW-MO???? (7D: Highlight reel effect). That was jarring to me. I've only ever seen SLO-MO. The "MO" is already abbreviated, and surely that's the harder part to figure out. You gotta go SLO. That "W" feels entirely unnecessary. Looking around the internet, I see that some folks are using the "W" version, so maybe it's more common than I imagined, but yuck and no. The NYTXW itself says: SLOMO 39, SLOWMO ... 1. Just one. Today's entry. Yes, six-letter entries are as a rule going to be much less prevalent than five-letter entries, but still, 39-0 before today ... should tell you something. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


puzzlehoarder 12:29 AM  

I doubt anyone else will make the same dnf I did. With unknowns like LITEBRITE, BIRYANI and OPSOMANIA in the puzzle I somehow convinced myself that there was something called DOXTV. This was a case of HALFA LOAD equaling HALFA BRAIN. An ignoble ending to a very entertaining solve.

jae 1:21 AM  

Medium-tough. Pops before PAPA and OPSOMANIA was a large WOE and LITE BRITE did not ring a bell.

Nice challenge with some zip, liked it.

Bourbon Street 2:11 AM  

I’m sorry but is that the weirdest clue for HAITI that has ever existed? Has anyone on the planet ever said GO WEAK and SLIGHT BIT? Anyone? Yuck!

chefwen 5:50 AM  

@Bourbon Street, my thoughts exactly, I have to perform tricks now to get an answer?

Had Buckle at 21A and thought how could that possibly be wrong? OPSOMANIA, HUH?

Tough one for us. Had to consult Uncle Google more than once. DNF Saturday, not unusual.

Lewis 7:26 AM  

That was a lot of hard work for not getting paid, but I sure got my money's worth! Thank you, Sam!

Lewis 7:31 AM  

A commenter on another site made the lovely catch of the reunion in this puzzle of TRUMP and STORMY.

Sydney 7:39 AM  

It took me 39 minutes and I looked up the list of 100 toys...but I finished it. We actually had a Lite Brite back in the day. I’ve gone weak in the knees and I’ve said “slight bit” and I like biryani. I never heard of opsomania, but what a great word! Slowmo looked weird. Haiti was nice. All in all, a really fun puzzle.

David 7:54 AM  

When I learned electronics it was E for voltage, as in E=IR. When did that change?

Trump, NRA, and FoxTV in the same puzzle. C'mon.

Suzie Q 8:09 AM  

Once again I had more fun than Rex. No surprise.
We did agree on the clever clue for crop circles. Loved it.
The clue for IKEA was pretty good to. Clue for wet noodle didn't seem right to me either.
I don't remember Lite Brite as being a very exciting toy. It was after my time but still. One of my favorites was Spirograph.
Thinking about Life of Pi reawakens my anger about the ending.
I'm happy with a Sat. that requires an extra cup of coffee.

Mike Herlihy 8:21 AM  

@David 7:54 - voltage on a multimeter (as in the 54D clue) is indicated by "V".

Ciclista21 8:24 AM  

Ugh. This puzzle leaves a bad taste.

Thanks, Rex, for explaining OPSOMANIA. Like you, I’m happy to learn a new word. In this case, though, I liked learning its ancient Greek roots more than the word itself, which I’m sure I’ll never use and never hope to see again. It’s also amusing to learning about the scorn ancient moralizers felt toward those who liked their fish sauce too much.

It’s not amusing to learn a new word one painful cross at a time. No help from the lame cluing on HAITI. Who gives a freak that the name can be rescrambled as Tahiti if you add a letter? That’s gotta be the height, or depth, of lazy anagramming.

Kinda clever to use REVEAL in a puzzle, although there’s not one in this one.

SW stack is nice. NE stack sucks. I don’t remember LITEBRITE. Wikipedia’s description of it makes me think the clue must be mistaken. Surely Time labeled it one of the all-time stupidest, not greatest, toys. Worse, this answer fell into place with a tremendous sense of letdown, as it confirmed the answer I was hoping to avoid at 12D, a name that should never appear anywhere near NRA and ICBM. The only consolation is that it’s crossed by OFFCOURSE and MYOB, PAPA.

QuasiMojo 8:28 AM  

This was tougher than usual for me. Not knowing what a Wookiee is didn't help. My first guess was Kraaken. Then eventually Mookiee (Wilson used a crossbow?) then Pookiee. Having TKTS didn't help. That became UPAY and then IPAY (parking meters)? But I got the BWAY before the curtain came down. Still after all that struggle (SLOW MO? I thought that was Uncle Joe who moved kinda slow) I still ended with a DNF of sorts since I had CAPITOL E. I blame that on lack of caffeine. I'll take a stumper over a yawner any day. Thanks Sam.

pabloinnh 8:43 AM  

Filled in the NW lickety-split, and thought, a Saturday this easy? Well, no. The rest of it put up a worthy struggle. Last to fall, the Y in BYRIGHT, which I think has lost its final S somewhere.

Anyone who didn't see the NRA/TRUMP rant coming from OFL is reading this blog for the first time.

Hey @SuzieQ--I had exactly the same reaction to the ending of Life of Pi, which until then I was really enjoying. Dumb.

Thanks for a solve that was tough but, SE. Well done you.

Wayne Rhodes 8:44 AM  


Twangster 8:48 AM  

I thought SLOWMO was so unlikely I started with FASTMO.

Dan Felsenheld 8:57 AM  

I might be the only one who did this on 46A, I put OREO MANIA figuring it’s a crossword, hat COULD be a thing?

Sam 9:08 AM  

I thought this one was a blast. Very challenging for me, and with consistently clever cluing.
I agree that slowmo is a little inconsistent. I'm not sure that I've heard half a loaf used, before, but it seemed sensible enough to get.
Opsomania was a killer. I had mania for a long time without opso.
I think quite a lot of people have used "go weak at the knees" and, helpfully, knees were included in the clue. Likewise, with a slight bit of just about anything. People have a bad habit of assuming that when they haven't heard something used, it must be because it has never been used by anyone.
Rex is something of a wet noodle, himself. What prevents him from enjoying this puzzle and forces him to fume and stomp, instead? The rest of the world doesn't have to pretend your bugbears don't exist to protect you.
Theocracy for opposite of a state of disbelief? fantastic
Again, a good puzzle. It knocked me around by, I thought, the merit of its own challenging cleverness.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

I hated this puzzle, mostly (probably) because it was completely off my wave length. I do have one amusing error however. As I was looking at the mass of white space in the southwest, I noted the clue for British naval stronghold in WWII. I confidently wrote in Scapa Flow with no crosses. One of the many reasons I took almost an hour to complete the puzzle was my reluctance to discard that answer. Of course, GIBRALTAR is the much better and correct answer. This puzzle and that clue-answer are examples of why I will never be a speed solver.

Jim C. in Maine

SH 9:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GILL I. 9:19 AM  

I don't think Scooby-Doo has ever entered one of my conversations. Never knew he had a climactic part. Don't think I listen to PROG rock either. LITE BRITE could've been chatty Kathy for all I know. Only know LEGO from lego my eggo. And the beat goes on.
Was I the only fool who had GUANO for 10D? Doesn't that stuff stick around? AND...I sure don't want my 25D buns to be HAIry. Would you?
BUT...there was stuff to like and boy did I have to work hard. Today, Google was my friend. I wanted to finish this one even though there was so much I didn't know. I always like learning new things. Today, like the rest of you, it was OPSOMANIA. I guess I had that. When I was pregnant with both of my children all I wanted to eat were hamburgers. I got sick the first time I went to a MacDonald's so I ate whatever Burger King had to offer. It had to be a double with lots of cheese. I'd get sick right after I ate them, but it satisfied the OPSOMANIA in me.
ACT ODC. Is that supposed to be Over Da Counter?
In California, high capacity gun magazines are now outlawed. So, yeah, you could change it to TRA and clue it as the tax reform act?

Kitty 9:32 AM  

Dear God !
Please stop using gun clues.

SBpianist 9:35 AM  

Yeah, très creepy. Gave me a case of opsomania for my right arm.

David 9:39 AM  

I did the same thing re: Scapa Flow! I loved it so much, I didn't want to remove it either.

Blue Stater 9:40 AM  

One of the few saving graces of this otherwise dreadful, error-ridden mess was the fact that CHARISMA and ITFACTOR fit in the same space both in sense and number of letters, as do SCAPAFLOW and GIBRALTAR. So if you had absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g after a first pass through the puzzle -- as I did -- you can lead yourself astray in a big hurry -- as I did. But this weird coincidence in no way made up for the general awfulness of the experience.

Suzie Q 9:48 AM  

@ Dan F. 8:57, Oreomania would have been a good answer for a crossword. Another possibility that entered my mind briefly was

@ pabloinnh, Yes, good right up to the end then phooey.

JC66 9:59 AM  


Speaking of Urban Dictionary, what about TEEBAGS?

Z 10:00 AM  

I’m with @biciclist, fun to learn that classical moralists were just as inane as modern moralists. Screen time is the new fish sauce.

@Bourbon street- everything after “Country” in the clue can just be ignored. I guess if you are one of those solvers who enjoys going in SLOW MO, you can stop and solve the little poser. But I just got a couple of crosses, enough to see HAITI, and then confirmed the whole TAHItI thing post solve.

AVEENO and PROACTIV in the same puzzle? I feel my acne clearing up.

I remember 50 lashes with a WET NOODLE being a favorite consequence of Ann Landers. TEE BAGS is fine, but you probably shouldn’t look up TEa BAGS at Urban Dictionary, either.

All my plaints have been mentioned, so little more to add at this point.

Special K 10:00 AM  

A couple of these made me wince. SLOWMO is absurd, sorry the author got stuck but that one made me grumpy. And I am so with Rex - hard to yuk it up over the NRA - there were better ways to go there, tra, etc. And OPSOMANIA ... i hate to center around a word no one knows.

But the TECHSAVVY clue was terrific and that entire quadrant was strong. And loved CROPCIRCLE. So a mixed bag.
Overall: B+, not A-

Z 10:02 AM  

@JC66 - Dirty minds think alike.

Z 10:07 AM  

@Chrisco late yesterday - “Drill bit?” is of the same type as your questioned clue yesterday. Yes, a MARCH is a SLIGHT BIT of a drill, but “drill bits” is usually used to describe a specific tool. Likewise, the clue yesterday usually refers to gambling odds, so the question mark indicates that the clue isn’t about gambling odds.

And now I notice the BIT dupe with the same meaning - another flaw.

JJ Kahle 10:08 AM  

Was excited for “tacomania.” Too bad. Me gustó este crucigrama.

RooMonster 10:09 AM  

Hey All !
Amazing finish time for me, 30:39, as my first-through the puz netted me three whole answers! Thought, "Here we go, another hour-plus Sat solve." But, the answers started coming fast and freely. Not sure how, maybe the ole brain got enough rest last night. Solve went NW, N Center, NE, SE, SW. Wasn't sure on a few spots, NE's BIRYANI, but all the crosses seemed OK. TEE BAGS seems a bit of a stretch, but I can see that for golfing purposes. And MYOB seems like it needed an Abbr., no?

Last letter in was the Y of YOM, and fully expected the "Almost There!" message to pop up, but instead the Happy Music played! I literally threw my arms up in victory! Har. Luckily, no one saw me!

Had demOCRACY for THEOCRACY first. Funny. That answer ic clued terrificly. Didn't know WOOKIEEs had crossbows. Maybe it's been too long since I've seen the 80's Star Wars movies.

Had the double V's in the SW, and said, "That can't be right, right?" But that helped get the Y of STORMY, and then saw it had to be SAVVY, and all fell into place.

@Gill I
In case you weren't kidding, and I also got a laugh at first picturing HAIRy buns, the clue is meant as a HAIRstyle, ala Bun, or the kooky MAN BUN.

@Dan Felsenheld
LOL at OREOMANIA! Love me some OREOs. For a brief time about six months or so ago, they came out with MEGA STUF OREOs. Holy cow, that was awesome! It was basically Triple Stuf. Now, even the Double Stuf pale by comparison. And whose brilliant idea was OREO Thins? That person should just get fired!

My grandparents used to take the bus from AC TO DC. Har. (Atlantic City to Wash. DC)

Gonna go make do now with my HALF A LOAF.


RooMonster 10:12 AM  

Oh, and actually did notice grid was 16 wide today. No one has mentioned it, not even Rex. Was there a particular reason for the grid to be an extra column?

It does make my time more impressive (well, to me, anyway) solving an extra column puz. But, I won't throw my arms up in victory again. :-)


Wm. C. 10:15 AM  

Sheesh ... Saturday's are tough, and I usually need a few consults from Professor Google, but this one had a lotta unheard-ofs.

Litebrite, Opsomania, Yom, Otro, Poi, Prog, Biryani, Wookiee, Amoebic, Proactiv, Wet Noodle ...


maura 10:23 AM  

This puzzle had way too much nerd stuff on the high school classroom and pop cultural fronts, and way too many clunky phrases that seemed to exist to fit the fill and nothing else. Excruciating. CROP CIRCLE was cutely clued though.

maura 10:23 AM  

This puzzle had way too much nerd stuff on the high school classroom and pop cultural fronts, and way too many clunky phrases that seemed to exist to fit the fill and nothing else. Excruciating. CROP CIRCLE was cutely clued though.

Lewis 10:25 AM  

No comment on the cross of TRUMP and OFF COURSE, but terrific praise on the cluing, which Sam has proven to be an artiste at. Favorites included clues for HAIR, STORMY, MARCH, MARSH, and special favorites were those for CROP CIRCLE, THEOCRACY, and TECH SAVVY.

My wheelhouse deficits caused the rest of my brain to supercharge, and now, hours later, I'm still exhilarated!

Nancy 10:28 AM  

I had the H of "drill bit" at 24A and confidently wrote in tootH instead of MARCH. I also keep calling that lady I never heard of sARA CROFT instead of LARA CROFT -- the same thing I did last time she appeared, which was much too recently.. (No I don't learn pop culture from xword puzzles, I never shall, so stop testing me everyone). And poof, there went my entire NW. Well, actually down to the top of the SW, where I didn't know the 40D sci-fi creature either.

The clue for PRO TIP seemed impossibly vague. LITE BRITE (which did come in) may have been one of the 100 best toys of all time, but no one ever gave me one and I have no idea what it is. And of course OPSOMANIA was a great big Huh, though it did come in.

If Sam's mission was to stump me, he succeeded. Finally we're having some beautiful weather after a week of scorching temps and I couldn't waste any more time staring at a corner I wasn't going to finish if I stayed home staring at it all day. Didn't love this one -- sorry.

QuasiMojo 10:36 AM  

I meant I had Capitol V of course. It was the O that gave me the DNF. I knew GibraltOr looked funny but hey it was a Brit clue. Anything goes. Btw Sherlock Holmes was a Savvy Tec. :)

Jstarrracewalker 10:41 AM  

I agree wholeheartedly. Challenging and rewarding. Perfect Saturday puzzle!

Joaquin 10:47 AM  

Hmmm ... I always thought that OPSOMANIA was the rash one got when the NRA appeared in a crossword.

jb129 11:02 AM  

Trump & NRA in the same puzzle?

Jstarrracewalker 11:04 AM  

Love it!

Dorothy Biggs 11:09 AM  

Crop circles were done in Australia in the 60s and copied by two guys in England in the 70s-90s. So they are human-made. So the only "disbelief" anyone can possibly experience these days is how someone did it with anyone catching them or at least seeing them. They are pretty amazing feats of engineering...but they are just artistic endeavors in fields, mostly across England. IIRC, the main reason they took off (apart from how quickly they popped up overnight, was that the two guys responsible for most of the first ones, coincidentally lived near Stonehenge. They sat on their prank for almost 20 years and then finally came forward. Even then, after they confessed to doing them and demonstrated them for people, some people still didn't believe they weren't done by aliens. The human mind is a wondrous scary place. It can create vast realities that, in one's mind, are absolutely true...but compared to actual reality, are utterly wrong. Next time you swear to god that something is true (including the god you're swearing to), remember that.

The clue on HAITI was just way too much work. I do the puzzle in the morning with my I'm a little bleary-eyed to start with. But that clue...I just couldn't.

Two skin products in one puzzle. Nice.

PROTIP (which should be LPT, or *life pro tip*, but whatever): When I'm in NYC I buy my tickets either at TKTS (which I guess is on Broadway), or mostly I buy them through the TodayTix buy them in advance and then just walk up to the theater door 15 minutes before curtain and get them from those nice people in red shirts. If you're buying tickets at a theater on Broadway (or nearby), you're doing it wrong. I often wonder how many people in a typical Broadway performance have actually paid the full ticket price. Sure, shows like Hamilton and probably Wicked still get by with most people buying full price, but even then, with lotteries, there are some who get in to see the exact same show at a fraction of the cost. I mean, "C'mon!"

xyz 11:10 AM  

15 D - Typical Golf Resort freebie is much more appropriate, but Will knows nothing about golf You would never give a TEEBAG in any tournament, maybe a once-a-year player kind like a Hospital or Charity T. - it's kind of a made up know-nothing answer/clue pair.

But otherwise the top was really easy, I needed a googley-bit or more to get the bottom. CAPER rather than HEIST FILM slowed me and BY RIGHT is IN EQUITY to a golfer so I didn't move much in the SW for some time with those mental roadblocks.

TRUMP, NRA and FOXTV eliciting today's rage and indignation. No surprise there.

In retrospect, I should have seen the bottom more easily, but I was distracted watching my #CHELSEA get their first Premier League Victory - f i n a l l y

xyz 11:16 AM  

Rex, Sorry to add a p.s. - to make matters even worse, the NRA cluing was pure crap, no NRA magazine would be completely on magazines, was the intent lying on magazines? ugh ugh ugh

Yeah, that was multiply ugleee and shoult be utterly cryit down

I actually entered NEA thinking a magazine review of educational magazines, silly me

Newboy 11:17 AM  

Wow! Thanks Sam for a great start to the weekend. Madam Newboy’s help was enlisted today to allow a solve without Mr. Google, but it was touch and go for much of our second cuppa. Have to agree with Sam’s assessment “some diabolical clues. In fact, the pairing of CROP CIRCLE with [Unbelievable discovery in one's field] might just be my all-time favorite.” OPSOMANIA I vow to share with others repeatedly in days to come. Just tough, but CMON this one’s BY RIGHT a true prize.

Teedmn 11:23 AM  

I had fun with this puzzle. It sure wasn't easy for me to leap into - I can't remember the last time I had to start in the far SE corner on a Saturday - the possibility of some sort of TV channel at 53A led straight to VOLTS and I never had more than a SLIGHT BIT of trouble after that.

Starting in the SE means the first really clever clue I ran into was THESES for "Works for a university, maybe". That set the bar for the rest of the grid.

LITE BRITE - Jeff Chen writes, "If you've never played with it, it won't elicit much emotion." I have played with it and it definitely doesn't elicit much emotion. Perhaps I am just limited, imagination-wise, but I never saw why it became so popular. Possibly it's an example of brilliant marketing - I can still hear the jingle. I suppose it was one of those things we begged our parents for and then found it very MEH. I agree with @Suzie Q that the Spirograph and Super Spirograph were great; two of my favorite cold winter days pastimes.

LARA CROFT - she's baaaaack, har!

Sam Ezersky, while you didn't make it as difficult for me as some of your other puzzles, I definitely found this much greater than HALF A LOAF, thanks.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

you probably shouldn’t look up TEa BAGS at Urban Dictionary, either.

oh my, of course they should!! more than that, everyone should seek out the pictures of Tea Baggers wearing their Tea Bags on their Tricorns. I kid you not. as usual, they did it to themselves.

NFPA 25 inspection software 11:29 AM  

Im glad that I had your page bookmark. I saw a lot of tips regularly. helps a lot for my daily puzzle.

SouthsideJohnny 11:41 AM  

Skin care brands, a video game character, a WOOKIE, the dumbest clue of the year (for HAITI) and OPSOMANIA . . . yuk ! ! ! This is a puzzle that only the most ardent of cruciverbalists can enjoy . . . Pretty much just a slog in the park for the rest of us. It doesn’t stink up the joint like last Wednesday though, so there’s hope . . .

nyc_lo 11:44 AM  

Didn’t have quite the same sparkle you usually get with an Ezersky, but may just be that the pop-culture fun was deadened by TRUMP and NRA in the same puzzle. But I did spend many happy hours with my LITEBRITE “making thi-ings with li-i-ight” as a youth, so maybe I’ll just focus on that.

jberg 11:58 AM  

I liked it more than Rex; in fact, I liked it because of the difficulty and the clever cluing. I wanted my Sunday schoolers to read the BibLe, and thought the L from LEGO confirmed it; and I wanted to get my tix at the TKTS booth, which actually is a "spot," unlike B'WAY, which is a neighborhood (when used in the sense of theaterland). Also A and W before AMOCO, feeling proud of myself for spotting the ampersandwich.

It finally all worked itself out -- except for YOM Tov, which I had to look up. (Actually I looked up oOM TOV, which had a nice sound to it, whereupon Google suggested I wanted YOM instead.) The whole thing was easier than it might have been because I had HALF A LOAF (which is better than none -- surprised to many weren't familiar with it), and as far as I know HAITI is the only country that starts with H (As soon as I typed that, Hungary and Honduras sprang to mind, but they didn't when I was solving, and anyway they have too many letters). So I didn't have to try to figure out the anagram, which I only got just before coming here. OPSOMANIA required the first four crosses plus a couple more to see MANIA.

@Roo, you've probably figured it out by now, but it's that CROP CIRCLE in the middle, with an even number of letters; a 15 wide puzzle would wreck the symmetry. The constructor could have gone with the POC, but that would not fit the brilliant clue.

I always thought of BIRYANI as something you ate with rice, sort of the OPSO, rather than a rice dish, but the Internet tells me otherwise, so OK.

I just want to repeat that this was a tough, enjoyable challenge, for me at least.

jberg 11:59 AM  

@Nancy from yesterday -- sorry to have impugned your sports knowledge!

IronEye 12:17 PM  

Anyone ever see the movie Ruthless People from the 80s? There you’ll find the classic exchange “Then we’re off for Haiti” “No, not Haiti...Tahiti”

Crimson Devil 12:23 PM  

Saturday tough, plus.
Good to see Le Grand Orange reunited with STORMY, and to learn OPSOMANIA. Seems SLOWMO has an extra W therein.
Excellent clue for CROPCIRCLE.

burtonkd 12:30 PM  

Just came back from Montreal. Seems mandated that all men be 5’9", have full facial hair(winter protection?), and a HAIRBUN

loved LITEBRITE. Colored glass pegs you push through black paper into a light box. Would make a design, then turn out the lights and plug it in for glorious REVEAL.

Was thinking MONOMANIA, (one food) but that means something else? Oh yeah monomaniacal, fixed on one idea.

Glad rush home wasn’t also AMDIAL, would have fit mini theme of the day.

Wasn’t HEISTFILM a rant of Rex recently as something he didn’t think existed bc he hadn’t heard of it? (I actually admire that he is willing to put his ignorances out there)

LARACROFT shows her head and ample bosom again, coincidence most popular cover for gamer and tech magazines - turn them into LADMAGS for an issue.

39 across feels off. Sure you can go to bway to buy tix, but BWAY is far better known as the product. TKTS really would be much more appropriate.

Does AMOCO still exist? Enjoyed the trip down memory lane to buy gas at ESSO in Canada.

Loved a lot of the clueing. Hands up for SLOWMO and ACTODC feeling strange.

burtonkd 12:33 PM  

The HAITI clue sounds like an NPR Sunday puzzle kind of clue. Would bet clue is by Will. My theory is that he has to find certain kinds of puzzle that aren’t easy to solve with a computer program and ends up with the same kinds of challenges.

Joe Dipinto 1:07 PM  

Hey Momma
Folks say Papa never was much on thinking
Spent most of his time chasing women and drinking

I was looking forward to solving this since I loved Sam Ezersky's last puzzle (I think it had a dog theme or maybe "good doggy" was an answer). BUT.

I hate to get all Marianne Williamson-y but the vibe here didn't feel organic somehow. OPSOMANIA *really* sticks out as something that, well, should never be in a puzzle. (I also much prefer @Dan H.'s OREOMANIA -- too funny.) And there are no really *good* answers, just *weird* answers, like AC TO DC, A TRACE, SLIGHT BIT, the strangely spelled SLOW MO.

I do like that TRUMP is aligned directly with "Wimp"/WET NOODLE, and that he isn't even clued as himself; whereas the NRA *is* clued as itself, thus showing which one has more power as was borne out by this week's news. Or am I reading too much subtext into this?

At least we got to see a B'WAY show from the SIXTIES.

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy,
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty,
Oily, greasy, fleecy, shining,
Gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen,
Knotted, polka dotted,
Twisted, beaded, braided,
Powdered, flowered and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled and spaghettied!

JOHN X 1:07 PM  

Dang! That mini-puzzle was an ass kicker today.

Mao Guevara 1:19 PM  

Do Rex and others really get upset by words in a puzzle ?

Masked and Anonymous 1:41 PM  

@RP: har. We are now awaitin the cool follow-up debut word: SLOWMOW. Clue could be: {Lawncare a la goats??}.

Best hidden mini-theme: TRUMP with unstable (OFFCOURSE) nongenius (LITEBRITE). Primo, subtle, tight NE groupin.

This SatPuzgrid had both the usual Jaws of Themelessness (tm) -- and the rarely seen Crosses of … of … Crosses of LOAF HAIR, shall we call em? Good design effort. 16x15 gridsize, too boot (yo, on-top-of-it @Roo).

fave fillins: TECHSAVVY [Admired its grid placement, a la ol-snark-goat @RP]. FOXTV [Well, nice combo of letters]. OPSOMANIA [See also: {Intense craving for greasy spoon diner chow??} = SLOPSOMANIA]. Learnt m&e somethin totally brandspankin new (blah blah har), there.
Ditto, on BIRYANI … Do plucky Indian chow diners holler "Biryani me!" … ?

staff weeject pick: OID. No contest. If it weren't for the extra-sparkly-luvly NER, OID might well be the best of the 3-letter-litter, ever in all xwords. Bravissi-mow.

Thanx for the feisty solvequest, Sam EZ. [Insert Wilhelm screech, on the U-count tally, howevs.]

Masked & Anonymo1Us


Mr. Cheese 1:55 PM  

Crimson Devil: Le Grand Orange is reserved for Rusty Staub... a great ball player and an even nicer human being.

DigitalDan 1:56 PM  

I could certainly do without all the personal care product references; nothing I pay attention to less, and even so, who cares anyway?

Todd 2:06 PM  

I actually hope that Will Shortz is aware of your endless rants about gun related an NRA clues and uses them just to annoy you and your equally annoying anti gun ilk.

Maddiegail 2:26 PM  

Sorry. They're no fun when they're this tough. Gave up early.

RooMonster 2:45 PM  

Yes to the middle answer being an even number, but as this is a themeless, I still want to know why Sam just didn't make it 15x15, putting another 10er symmetrically to the CROP. Oh well, as @M&A says, more grid for your money.

Oh, and you missed Holy See, ala Vatican City, as an H country.
(In case you think I was showing off about my vast knowledge of H or other countries, I Googled it. 😋)


Lurker Librarian 3:18 PM  

No trouble with the HAIR bun here.

Technical DNF at BWAY YOM BY but it was a good challenge. As my parents used to say, "half a loaf is better than no loaf!"

Jillybean 3:21 PM  

Played pretty fast to me but agree with all the annoying clues Rex pointed out. Just awfull

@ Todd- pointing out that a word can be tone deaf based on recent news is hardly “anti gun”

JOHN X 3:21 PM  

Well this was a great Saturday puzzle! Pretty brutal in places, but that’s what a Saturday puzzle is supposed to be.

I had to decide at first between GIBRALTAR, SCAPA FLOW, and SINGAPORE. However, a German U-Boat famously penetrated the defenses of Scapa Flow and sank a bunch of British capital warships from within their own anchorage, so that wasn’t much of a stronghold, and Singapore surrendered to an inferior Japanese force who they could have beaten (and then were massacred as prisoners) so that wasn’t much of a stronghold either. GIBRALTAR it is!

Loved the inclusion of NRA and TRUMP, just for Rex’s WETNOODLE rant.

Chuck Chagrin 3:41 PM  

I say it's broccoli and I say to Hell with it.

Curacao Fan 4:32 PM  

@Jillybean-I’ve read this blog for years. I’m pretty sure Rex wouldn’t object to being called anti-gun.

Amanda R 4:56 PM  

I did the same thing initially. Makes as much sense as some of the other answers in this puzzle.

Z 5:00 PM  

@Mighty Masked One - SLOW MOW is so much better than The Goat Squad.

@Curacao Fan - Just to be clear, I am anti-NRA, neutral on guns, pro-strong gun ownership regulations. Just like most Americans.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Nothing is MORE ridiculous than complaining about any perceived political IN-correctness in a damn crossword puzzle. . . You need to stop whining about that. . . You sound like a fool when you do

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

Can we please have a snowflake-themed puzzle for once? With PAJAMABOY, SAFESPACES and maybe SJW, staying away from NRA - or socialism-like with GREENNEWDEAL, VENEZUELA and say, AOC instead of TRUMP? Would certainly elevate the socio-political commentary

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

@Z - Curacao fan referenced Rex not you. Are you trying to stoke the debunked conspiracy theory that you and he are one in the same ?

Hungry Mother 6:02 PM  

Just finished after a fragmented slog. I started at about 4:45am while breakfasting before a 10K race. Then I worked a bit while entertaining family visitors. Finally, after a nice day of fun in the sun I finished. Nice puzzle and a worthy challenge.

Hungry Mother 6:12 PM  

I’ve been to HAITI and Tahiti, so that anagram fell more quickly than most. I had a LITEBRITE and I’ve been to Iponema and Gilbaltar, where we climbed on foot up to O’hara’s Battery.

Unknown 6:20 PM  

Once I confidently put hankering into 46A, I was out of the game.

Nancy 6:30 PM  

I forgive you totally and completely, @jberg!

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

@Mao 1:19pm- The answer is no. No one could possibly be upset about a clue/answer in a puzzle. They pretend to be upset to let everybody know how woke they are. Pretty pathetic.

Anonymous 8:02 PM  

What in the world does ATS mean as a substitute for comic swear words?

Yes, "50 lashes with a wet noodle" is a common expression from days of yore, e.g. the '50's.

JC66 8:36 PM  



Carola 9:48 PM  

This reminded me of my solving experience when I first started hazarding the Saturday puzzles - very tough, very satisfying to complete.

tea73 9:55 PM  

I was stuck on pica for eating everything. Did not work at all.

Kept TKTS in for way too long. Sigh.

Technical did not finish since I had HALF A LOAn insteaad of a LOAF. Did wonder what nOXTV was. Ooops.

Anonymous 10:44 PM  

David 7:54 and Mike Herity 8:21. Electromotive Force (E) is measured in Volts hence V on a meter just as current is measured in Amps hence A on a meter. People often call something by its unit + age, ergo voltage, amperage, (distance) mileage or yardage. Textbooks and other publications started using voltage instead of emf in the late 70s and early 80s.

VictorS 7:32 AM  

If anyone remembers Yellow Pages they had a series of “punny commercials”. One was of some troops marching and then cut to Yellow Pages entry for drill bits.

aslightrain 10:07 AM  

As a metaphor, "wet noodle" doesn't (or shouldn't) mean "wimp" but "limp" - a noodle breaks LESS easily when wet, but it sure won't stand up straight anymore! And long before Urban Dictionary was dispensing crude crowd-sourced info on lingo, Kubrick's Lolita, screenwritten by Nabokov himself, has the following lines: (Charelotte) Whenever you touch me, darling, I go as limp as a noodle. / (Humbert) ' Yes, I am familiar with that feeling.'
Presumably, a limp man soon becomes a wimp.

pdplot 10:40 AM  

Best puzzle in a long time. I actually finished after a slow start. Disagree with Rex completely. Three words ending in V. Try that sometime. Had monomania and teepegs- I'm a golfer.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  


rextorturer 4:39 PM  

I love what the NRA stands for you wimp, or better-wetnoodle.

Unknown 7:57 PM  


kitshef 11:45 PM  

Hard, but not really in a good way. When 1A is so poorly clued, it casts a pall on the whole puzzle. Then 7A is almost as bad. Then you get SENHOR? Thing is, the bottom has some nice stuff, but by then the damage has been done.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Off. Just off. Too weird to be entertaining

Amazing Black Cloud South Bend Clutches 2:09 PM  

Best puzzle total time killer love it!

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Not a hint on this one. Even OFL was thrown off, and confused the NRA with the NEA. Or is that the NPR?

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

What OFC said, plus the S-less BYRIGHT--plus the outright pure Natick at 13. Is it SLIGHT BIT...or HIT? Both can be clued by "Touch." As to the down, who (among non-Indians) would ever know? I literally flipped a coin: heads B, tails H. It came up heads, ergo, I "finished." Not sure I can claim the gigantic triumph points, though.

All those letter-addons and funky phrases (looking at you, ACTODC) made for a trip as through molasses. After searching unsuccessfully for a gimme shoehorn to get started, I just decided to plunk down LIFEOFPI because it was the only recent tiger book I could think of. Years ago (the fifties, I think) humorist Alexander King wrote one called "May Your House Be Safe From Tigers." You know, a "blessing" that's virtually sure to work. You hadda be there.

Anyway, we proceed to the DOD award, which goes to LARACROFT, whether acted by Angelina Jolie or even drawn in videos. A real challenger with varying levels of discomfort throughout. Then again, it's Saturday. Comfort is for the WETNOODLE. Birdie.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

All that s*it

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

Was done [in] with this one shortly after starting. Saved a lot of time.

Burma Shave 3:37 PM  


(BRITE LITEs made him PROACTIV to work),
BYRIGHTs he's TRUMP's FOXTV source,
with a LIFEOF a CROPCIRCLE jerk.


leftcoast 4:27 PM  

Somehow, above at 2:55 PM, I was dubbed Anonymous.

rondo 5:00 PM  

Of course, my OFFkilter was OFFCOURSE until it wasn't, helped by crosses after PoPs becoming a PAPA. No inkfest elsewhere.

That 52a clue has Will Shortz written all into it.

LARACROFT is a virtual yeah baby.

Yeah, there's ATRACE of junk, but what a good test.

rainforest 5:33 PM  

Major-challenging puzzle-not surprising after a pretty easy week. I set this down twice, determined to finish...and I did.

OPSOMANIA obviously was a huge stumbling block as I could see after getting several letters from crosses and still didn't know what I was dealing with. Wanted an "S" after BY RIGHT, but TECH SAVVY saved me there.

The NW came relatively quickly, then the entire N, but the rest - oh baby. Guesses on YOM and OTRO, and final entry WET NOODLE didn't make sense, but I was done. Surprised it was all right.
A worthy opponent, indeed.

Diana, LIW 7:55 PM  

Total dnf - it's been a while. Do not play video games...

Diana, LIW

wcutler 10:27 PM  

Woo-hoo! I finished the Saturday puzzle! Of course, it's Tuesday now - I've been working on it for three days - and I'm in syndiland, so no-one will be reading this. Still,
puzzlehoarder 12:29 AM wondered if anyone else had half a load. I did, so technically not a finish. I don't know TV stations - dOX TV seemed seemed likely as anything, though if I'd thought of FOX, I'd have realized it had to be that.

I used to think any Friday or Saturday puzzle I could finish had to be easy, so I was excited to see this rated medium-challenging.

rsw 8:40 AM  

I read your comment, wcutler! Of course, it took me a year+ to finish the puzzle and post my comment, so really nobody's reading now. The BIRYANI - MYOB was wretched. Pondered it for fourteen months. MYOB needed the "abbr" signifier, as someone said a year ago.

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