Rowers workout machines infomrally / SAT 9-21-19 / Suckerfish / Noted film festival site since 2002 / Performer in first U.S. public radio broadcast, 1910 / Like some nonbinary people

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Constructor: Joon Pahk and Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Challenging (interrupted solve, but somewhere in the 9s, I think)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: AGENDER (37D: Like some nonbinary people) —
of, relating to, or being a person who has an internal sense of being neither male nor female nor some combination of male and female of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is genderless or neutral (
• • •

Very tough for me. The fact that my dog wouldn't setting down and kept clacking around the hardwood floor outside my office was Not Helping (I need quiet to solve, especially tough puzzles), so I had to get up and shut the door, and then had to loudly call out "Lie Down," at which point my wife responded "it's me" 'cause I guess she had just gotten up to go downstairs. ANYway, frustrating. I lost some time in there. I wish I'd enjoyed this more. The grid is very nice in places, but the cluing had a kind of forced hardness that I found sort of off-putting. By "forced" I mean that the toughness felt like it was coming by an attempt to get cute that went a little awry. At some point, after I looked at what felt like the fourth "?" clue in a row, I got a little exasperated. I'm still trying to make [Baby buggy?] work right for LARVAL. It's not the greatest fill to begin with. I get that baby bugs are larva and so if "buggy" is an adjective meaning "of or related to bugs," then ... LARVAL. But it doesn't quite hit the mark. I think it's 'cause LARVAL is not a word you can use in an everyday sentence, so it's hard to swap out, or reimagine, or something. Just awkward. I wish the fill had been more IMPRESSIVE. It's solid and clean overall, for sure, but mainly this puzzle exists to be Hard. And you can make any grid Hard with the right cluing. The only really fresh thing was AGENDER (37D: Like some nonbinary people), which, bizarrely, I don't remember ever seeing before (whereas I've seen "non-binary," "NB," and even the written-out term "enbies" (which I love) a heckuva lot). But AGENDER wasn't hard to infer, and it's a very real term that just somehow missed me. Original. Like it.

Much of my struggle came from NE, where LARVAL and the CREW part of CAMERA CREW (32A: Group that's on the take?) just wouldn't come. Also had real trouble in the SE because of (again) the "?" clue on 43A: Spot starter? (TEA KETTLE). I had TEA and guessed KETTLE but did Not like it (it "starts" TEA? Because ... you pour water from it? My "kettle" heats water. You pour tea from a tea pot. And in either case, "starter" is dubious. I actually pulled KETTLE at one point because I couldn't get Downs to work. This turned out to be because I had SURE IS! instead of SURE DO! (48A: "You got that right!") (impossible to differentiate between IS, DO, AM, ugh), and RARER instead of RIPER (54A: Tenderer, maybe). This meant the only Down I had down there was EUREKA (44D: Exuberant cry). I had TRANIS for 45D: Some Caribbean islanders (TRINIS), so I *definitely* knew something was messed up. Aren't STEP-INS women's underwear? I'm pretty sure they're women's underwear. I always thought laceless shoes were SLIP-ONS. That one was weird. Luckily, the Acrosses and the short Downs in that corner were way easier. The answer that really broke me, though, was MAJORING IN (36A: Reading, to Brits). Parsing that answer, my word. And just understanding the clue ... I assumed the trick was that "Reading" was the city or the railroad (thanks, Monopoly!). Eventually I was like "MAJOR what?" and then got it. It's a great clue / answer. Just ground me into powder. Anyway, enjoyed the struggle, mostly

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Nampa Bob 12:10 AM  

On the easy side for me, but some real stretches.
Didn’t enjoy it.
Solved it while watching Boise State beat Air Force.
Did enjoy that.

Joaquin 12:13 AM  

So Rex's dog was "clacking around the hardwood" and it slowed him down. When I'm doing the puzzle my dog - all 82 lbs. of her - usually climbs into my lap (she thinks she is helping me but actually she's not that much help). Good thing I don't time myself!

This was a fine challenge for a Saturday - just what most of us want. Some tough cluing, some clever wordplay, and very few gimmes.

And, oh yeah - who's a good doggie?

OldBrit 12:13 AM  

Let’s have a spot of tea, Rex. I’ll put the kettle on.

mathgent 12:19 AM  

I agree that some of the clues try too hard. But many are artfully indirect. An excellent puzzle.

I often complain that a grid is clogged with too many Terrible Threes, twenty or more. So I admire this one by the two talented young men. Only four, near the absolute minimum.

jae 12:21 AM  

West half tough, east half medium. So, on the tough side, although not nearly as tough as Eric’s Saturday Stumper two weeks ago.

@ Rex - MAJORING IN was the last to fall, plus I had EclAiR before ERASER for much too long.

Solid workout, liked it.

puzzlehoarder 12:28 AM  

Great Saturday. The northern tier wasn't so bad but I definitely worked to get the middle and the southern tier.

My CINEMA/CAMERA write over at 32A was a roadblock of my own making. Having RICCI at 23D was of course no help so I spun my wheels there.

Eventually I was forced to cold start the SW with AGAPE and AGENDER. Even with ADIN and RENO being gimmes I still had to work for that corner and then mostly back fill the middle

I say mostly back fill the middle because I still had to restart in the SE with NECK @ 47D and then finish by back filling CELIA and RINKS. Not nearly as smooth as yesterday's solve. This had a lot of stops and starts. Of course it's somewhat designed that way so I got more gratification out of a clean grid on this one.

Speaking of gratification, does EATOVER strike anyone else as sounding like something from a porno movie?

JMS 1:28 AM  

Hmm, a little peek into the Rex household bliss?

Personally, “step-ins” are ski bindings after the age of cable bindings. (Yes, that’s what I started with.)

okanaganer 1:51 AM  

In Canada we share a lot with the US, for instance we use MAJORING IN rather than "reading". However when it comes to "what a representative represents", I immediately think of RIDING, cuz we're in the monarchy! don't you know. But, what the heck label do they use in the US for it? Oh yeah: DISTRICT. And come to think of it, "representative" = "member". It helps to be bilingual, and I'm not talking English/French.

Rex is out of his mind. You start a (spot of) tea by...first: pouring water into your TEA KETTLE. "Spot starter" = immaculate clue.

TRACKDOWN was a great 1950s western starring Robert Culp as a Texas Ranger. I have it set on my PVR on ME TV every Saturday.

Hoby Gilman 3:12 AM  

@okanaganer - nice to have a fan.

Teedmn 4:59 AM  

This was fun, much easier than the usual Agard Saturday. Joon's influence? Though I've seen tough Joon puzzles so...

First entry, I splatzed in “pair” for what you can't make by yourself. So my real entry was at OSSO, confirming SHOP would probably be at the end of 14A. Other than DEAL replacing “pair”, my only problem was my last entry; after an “aha” at MAJORING IN, I threw in tAINT for barely perceptible, ignoring that it didn’t work grammatically and yelled EUREKA, which quickly turned to ALAS when “Sorry” came up rather than “ Correct”. I am solving under jet lag conditions, sitting in gloomy, rainy but gorgeous Iceland, so that's my excuse!

Thanks, Erik and Joon, for an enjoyable Saturday solve!

amyyanni 6:46 AM  

Was flying until I hit the SW corner. Oof! Still very enjoyable. Ought to be a way to clue Major in Gin in some future puzzle. Mixology choice? maybe......

Lewis 6:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:56 AM  

Oh, the cluing today, the delicious brain-bending cluing. Playing on "forward" for LEBRON, on "worms" for MALWARE, on "hearing" for APPEALS, on "spot" for TEA KETTLE, on "left" for SOCIALIST. Wit like this in cluing lifts a puzzle from being a science to art. Such cluing wracks and attacks my head, then exacts praise in the highest. Thank you, gentlemen, for a glorious experience, and please, please, do not hesitate to continue to collaborate!

Space Is Deep 7:29 AM  

Very difficult. The clues were especially tough. My first few passes through left vast patches of open white space. Eventually i got a word here a there and built off of them. Very slow, finally finished in the SW about an hour after I'd started. I do love the feeling of chipping away at a hard puzzle and finishing a puzzle that I initially thought I wouldn't finish.

Unknown 8:08 AM  

Sun Bloc...WNBA ?

QuasiMojo 8:09 AM  

I tracked down the missing links in this puzzle by sniffing around the grid. I like Eric Agard puzzles, usually, especially the collaborations, but I am also keenly aware of his tendency to stretch clues beyond sense. His reliance on cutesy wordplay and overtaxed question marks can test one's patience. Baby Buggy? Is a good example. No matter how you parse it I feels forced and absurd. I had a few missteps: ALLA before OSSO; SIMPSONS before SOPRANOS. Never seen either. Oh wait, I did see one episode of the Simpsons on a friend's iPad. He insisted I watch it. I had to feign a migraine to escape that. Wanted CLUBS for Blues Venues. Didn't like LOUT as clued. No problems figuring it all out even though terms such as AgeMate and Agender were new to me. I heard someone on PBS recently describe herself as an ASEXUAL. A noun. Please people get back to living your life rather than labeling it.

Sarah 8:21 AM  

SW corner just about killed me, largely because I kept thinking 34D just had to be SIMPSONS. I literally put SIMPSONS in and took it back out maybe five times. Realizing that 46A just had to be LEBRON (after spending a long time assuming that James was the first name of a star NBAer I didn't know) finally snapped me out of that and freed me in to fill in the rest of the area; still took me too long to remember that *other* seminal TV series starting with "The S_______".

But I got it eventually and didn't blow my streak and that's what counts to me. Yay.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Can someone please explain why “majoring in” is the answer for “ reading, to British”. I did not understand Rex’s explanation.

pabloinnh 8:35 AM  

This is one of those puzzles that felt like four puzzles. I started with the BANH/ELBA cross and got the SE corner in a hurry (Thanks "Roots") and then hit the brakes for a while. Donald or Kiefer Sutherland, e.g., was a snag. Finished up when some of the maybe too clever clues hove into sight, had to infer the least obvious meaning. Fun but taxing.

I was sitting at a basketball game at the school where I started my teaching career, and next to me was our football coach. When a couple of exceedingly large people occupied the thee spaces on the bleachers close to us, he mentioned that they were looking especially CALORIFIC. I don't think I've run into that word again until today.

Thanks for the Saturday fun guys. Do it again.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Liked the mirroring of AGEMATE in the NE and AGENDER in the SW.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

You could ask a Brit “what are you reading at Uni”. And she’d answer with her major...

Patrickkellogg 9:03 AM  

What was ADIN “ace on a deuce”? Is that a tennis term? Bridge? Is it “a din”? Or “adin”?

Suzy 9:10 AM  

Very tough, very clean. But calorific? Larval? My hubby owns a few slip-ons, but step-ins? Eat over seemed a real stretch! Had alla before osso, and Donald before Kiefer. Agender is new to me, but makes sense. At any rate, a nice way
to stretch my brain on a Saturday morning! Thank you, Mssrs. Agar and and Pahk!

Suzy 9:13 AM  

@Nampa Bob— gloating is never attractive, esp on Saturdays!

Z 9:25 AM  

Second day in a row where Rex whiffed on parsing a tricky clue (see @Old Brit). I doubt a sub-10:00 Saturday will ever be anything other than “easy” here, so at least I have this little crumb of puzzle superiority over OFL.

I liked this a lot. The “?” clues may “stretch clues beyond sense” (I don’t think they do) but that’s what make puzzles more than just rote trivia tests. I could not possibly care less that the SOPRANOS beat out the SimpsonS for TV Guide’s “Best Series” award, but I enjoyed sussing out “forward,” “bloc,” and the “ace/deuce” corner. I saw through the “Biblical mount” clue immediately, but it still brought a wry smile to my face.

@amyyanni - Nice reparsing.

@unknown8:08 - The Sun is a team in the WNBA.

@Anon8:22 - Will probably be answered already by the time this appears, but in Britain one is “reading in chemistry” instead of MAJORING IN chemistry.

@burtonkd late yesterday- The clue/answer said the drink was made with X. It was asserted that the drink was made only with Y. The IBA disagreed and says the drink can be made with X or Y. The person who disagreed with the puzzle was wrong. If they had said “I’ve only ever seen the drink made with Y,” that would have been different. As for me, I have never made that drink so just got the answer by thinking of three letter liquors.

Z 9:33 AM  

@Patrickkellog - Tennis. “Deuce” is a tie score so neither player can win on the next serve. An “Ace” is a serve that is not returned, so the point is won by the server. AD IN means the advantage is now with the server who wins the game if they win the next point. The opposite of AD IN is “ad out.” I imagine @Nancy got that clue immediately, I spent many precious nanoseconds on it.

GILL I. 9:50 AM  

I'm going to agree with @Rex today....sorry @Lewis but I, too, thought the cluing was a bit forced. I felt like I was trying to climb Mount Everest with an ice pick. I like fiendishness; this felt like pulling teeth.
I actually found this easier than yesterday. I did Google once and that was for RICCI. I needed her for the ERASER and the CAMERA CREW. Nothing was popping out. I usually soldier on and hope that little by little something will come. I got bored with that section so I cheated.
I still liked the puzzle....
Got the SOPRANOS off of mighty RENO in the bottom. My mind wandered. I thought the series was ahead of its time but since then there have been some better ones. "Better Call Saul," "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men," heck, even "All In the Family" gets a bigger nod from me. I'll toss in "I Love Lucy" as well.
Britishisms are fun. It helps when you're married to one. However, he's become Americanized and would rather die than say I'll take a spot of TEA. And of course, the Oxfordians always say they are "Reading" in politics. I was able to sniff that one out.
Liked CALORIFIC and learned about A GENDER? Will our new bathrooms put up that sign? SOCIALIST in the middle. Bernie is becoming quite the popular guy with the millennials...and why not? Such disparity in our country now. Isn't there a song called "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer?"
I would've preferred WHIP cream.

Katzzz 9:55 AM  


kitshef 9:56 AM  

Took about the same amount of time as yesterday, and had a similar experience of struggle and triumph, but I liked yesterdays eversomuchmorso.

Some tortured cluing like the ones for LEBRON, AD IN (no one says "on a deuce"), and LARVAL moved this down a notch or two. Still a strong puzzle, just not on the level of yesterday’s.

+1 to what Rex said about STEP-INS.
But nononono to what Rex said about TEA KETTLE.

Slotted in TaINoS at 45D, which appeared to be confirmed by several crosses. Just not enough crosses, as it turned out.

My entry was @Teedmn's pair instead of DEAL. Took that out to put in DISTRICT. Couldn't get a single cross on DISTRICT so took that out. Next in was BOueF - misspelt, but close enough to get me TRIBECA, which finally got me going.

xyz 10:03 AM  

Over half was easyish, rest very hard

Nancy 10:21 AM  

A primer for anyone who wants to learn on how to write really, really clever, really, really original and really, really crunchy clues. Study this one puzzle and you may never have to look at another to see how it's done. Better yet -- all but a couple of the clues were completely fair, I thought.

Beginning with the ones I thought were both fair and brilliant: DEAL; APPEALS; AD IN (at 55A, it's far and away the best clue for AD IN I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot!); LEBRON; IMAGE; CAMERA CREW and SOCIALIST.

The ones I question: TEA KETTLE (43A) is tortured. Are the Blues (33D) a team that plays in RINKS? Otherwise, I don't get it. An ERASER (22A) leaves debris of a sort, but would you call it "crumbs"? I SURE DOn't. And what on earth are SRGS (60A)?

But small nits aside, a marvelous puzzle and a terrific challenge that I was proud to finish.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Brits say "he's reading history," not "he's reading IN history" as some are saying in the comments. That's why the answer, "majoring in," includes the "in."

Nancy 10:49 AM  

I just learned on the Wordplay blog (where my 10 a.m.-ish comment is Up rather than Not Up) that I have a DNF with sRGS (60A) crossing MAL WARs (36D). MAL WARs -- first cousin to STAR WARS.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

multiple levels of indirection just to show off. not a genuine experience. that said, the LARVAL clue does, in that spirit and well after the fact, make sense. the LARVAL stage puts the 'baby' in its version of a pram, aka baby buggy. so, it's not misdirecting on 'bug' but on pram. I doubt that this puzzle could be done on paper, and still be legible. only one with a photo memory, who does the whole mess in his/her head then writes it out. no fun.

PaulyD 10:58 AM  

Ironically, in light of the start of Rex's post, I read the clue for TEAKETTLE as "Spot as in dog", which worked for me somehow even if the intended meaning was different.

Surprised there's not more push-back on AGEMATE, which I think is just awful. OTOH, I very much enjoyed the cluing for MALWARE and LEBRON.

On balance, a B+ for a Saturday puzzle.

Sleeveless Joe 11:05 AM  

As Rex mentioned, any puzzle can be made to be difficult with the cluing. This puzzle felt like the cluing was intentionally worded for difficulty.

Clues like "Group that's on the take," "Sun bloc," "Flare way up?, and Rex's mentioned, "Spot starter?" Then there are the way 'normal" words were clued at all: ERGS, AGAPE (is that actual yawning? or just dropping your jaw?), DEAL, and see also, LARVAL.

I suppose I could spin the cluing as "delicious" or "brain-bending," and go about my day in a happy cloud with my favorite sleeveless shirt and step-ins on, or I could try to see how a puzzle might be done better if it were me. As it was, I didn't care for the cluing because I thought it tried too hard and so how might i have gone about deciding to reining some of it in?

The puzzle, just at a casual glance, has some challenging and unexpected words that already bump up the difficulty level: CALORIFIC, COARSENING, AGENDER, and AGEMATE (age mate??) are all good Saturday fill. So why go that extra step to torture some of the clues and add ?s just to amp it up?

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Dan 11:05 AM  

My wife is British, and still I struggled at first with MAJORINGIN,
even though I've heard her use "reading" in that context many times.
Like Rex, I couldn't get past thinking it must have to do with the city. D'oh!

But TEAKETTLE came to me right away.
My wife never says "spot of tea", but I certainly know what one is.
And the very first thing I do every morning is pop on the kettle.
And yes, that very much is the start of a spot of tea.
It's followed by me setting down a nice hot cup of PG Tips
with a small splash of milk on her bedside table to greet her as she wakes up.
Then I start my day.

Newboy 11:07 AM  

AGAPE at the wonderful misdirected clues (beef before STEW; tEAm before DEAL; SandalS before STEPINS) Egad spot starter for TEA KETTLE was as wonderful as....well, a steaming cuppa Earl Grey while watching BSU give up their first points of the second half this amazing performance missed by THE MASSES but certainly IMPRESSIVE. Hope today’s match up of my 🦆 ducks 🦆 versus UCLA is half as amusing as Joon & Eric’s collaboration.

Joe Dipinto 11:20 AM  

"(Agard's) reliance on cutesy wordplay and overtaxed question marks can test one's patience." ←←Quasimojo 8:09

Couldn't have said it better, Quasi. This puzzle made me sag. Although I do like the ? clue at 32a. But fill like SURE DO and EAT OVER is inane. And no one says "Low blow" by itself. "That was a low blow", yes.

At least it reminded me of the veal shank in my freezer. Osso buco, this weekend or next!

Requiem For The Masses (The Association, 1967)

TJS 11:21 AM  

SO, regarding "Trinis". From Trinidad ? Looked it up and got distracted by a fun fact. There is a natural lake there, 100 acres and 250 feet deep, made up entirely of asphalt. How's that for a getaway spot ?

Never got to "Trinis". Trini Lopez ??

Patricia Hughes 11:26 AM  

British speak: spot of tea and majoring in. Not a problem. ERGS? outside the wheel house. Good puzzle.

Newboy 11:27 AM  

@Nancy ERGonomic(S) rowing machines have readouts that allow an oarsman to get Watts/Calorie per hour without messing about with the boat. A nice training tool unless it’s software has been corrupted by MALWARE. (Not MALWARs)

DrBB 11:31 AM  

I enjoyed it. 15 min, which is average/decent Saturday time for me. TRINIS was the onlly clinker for me. I know people from there and they call themselves Trinidadians whenever I've heard them refer to their nationality. I don't get Rex's problem with TEAKETTLE. You "start" making a "spot" of tea by boiling the water, don't you? And "s spot" for "a cuppa" is a fairly common shorthand I think. Speaking of Britishisms, it took me a while to realize that "Reading for Brits" was calling for the **Americanism" for the same thing, but very satisfying when I saw what it was looking for. I always have a tough time with that kind of binarism. Doesn't make me AGENDER though.

Carola 11:39 AM  

Pleasingly tough - well, straight-out tough, and pleasing apart from the near-fatal Plague of Question Marks, which however did include the delightful "spot starter." The twisted clues caused me to twist one unnecessarily myself: I thought that the city of Reading might have some special meaning to Brits (Oscar Wilde's "gaol"?). Finally seeing MAJORING IN allowed me to get the crucial crosses for the missing CAMERA CREW and finish.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

About twice a year I find a puzzle that I fear I won't be able to solve. Normally I put it aside and return to it a few hours later and solve it. About once every three years I'll leave some corner unsolved, something that can't happen to Rex and to many of you.

This I found very difficult, but I did solve it after returning to it twice. NE corner was difficult, even though I had *tomb* from the beginning. Somehow I read 11D as a past tense, and the 16A *t**, I figured, must be some villain from contemporary movies or games--something I would not know.

I think "left, and then some" for socialist is a stretch, except perhaps in the USA. Socialists are the left, or, if you are a socialist, they are the mainstream. Many Italians were furious when the old Italian Communist party, with the fall of Russo-European Bolshevists ca. 1990, renamed itself the "Democratic Party of the Left," as if it were simply a "faction" in the political world. They thus demonstrated something they had been denying for years, that they could not survive without the Bolsheviks. Since 1990, when capitalism has proven that it cannot work, where all agree, even on Fox News, that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and cannot narrow, the only voice that can recognize this problem, in the US and Europe, is the far right, now that socialism has self-disintegrated. I laugh when the US right complains about "socialists" dominating academia and the news media. Opinion in academia and much of the news media ranges from liberal to *very* liberal. I read something sympathetic to Marxism in my NY Times about once a decade. At my normally progressive midwest university, Indiana (at Bloomington) I heard not *one* Marxist lecture (aside from my own, which were all Marxist, but probably not recognized as such)in some 30 years. When some politician from Kansas suggesting requiring their state university to become "ideologically" balanced, my response is to say "fine." *Every single appointment* for the next forty years will have to be a Marxist, to balance the idiotic liberals who are now in control.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Adam 12:06 PM  

I enjoyed it a lot more than @Rex - tough but fair, I thought. I had RETAIL SHOP instead of REPAIR SHOP and couldn't figure out what DLS were and why they would be Profs - but I got that they were DRS and then APPEALS came when I realized "hearing" didn't mean what I thought it meant.

I thought the whole puzzle was fun - difficult, but fair. 5 out of 5; would solve another from this pair.

Z 12:22 PM  

I’m surprised at so much criticism of the “?” clues. I will take too many of these over a PPP laden trivia fest every single time.

@Poggius - I had a similar reaction. SOCIALIST gets thrown around willy nilly with little understanding of what SOCIALISm actually is. Lots of craft breweries are owned in part or in total by the workers but they never get called SOCIALIST. Meanwhile, the ACA gets called “SOCIALISM” all the time even though it basically leaves a flawed capitalist system in place. But then, people actually can’t recognize that the NYT is a center-right newspaper, so I mostly just shrug and move on. Remember, two Beatles wrote the anti-progressive tax screed Taxman and the communist manifesto Imagine and most people happily agree with both.

jb129 12:35 PM  

Love Erik's puzzles & smiled when I saw his name especially on a Saturday. But try as I might, this one was too hard for me... see you next time Erik!

What? 12:46 PM  

ADIN. It means Advantage In, advantage to the server. ADOUT means advantage to the receiver. Why IN and OUT? Don’t know. Guess you have to call it something.

TJS 12:46 PM  

@Z, Better start following your own advice and include some version of "in my opinion" to your statements; "the communist manifesto Imagine". Whew !

What? 12:50 PM  

Tough but fair and enjoyable. TEA KETTLE goes into my Hall of Fame of Misdirection.

Birchbark 1:26 PM  

"Yokel's to-do list" = AGENDER.

LARVAL made me laugh. I laughed, and laughed again, sitting alone in the dining room of the Nicollet Island Inn, waiting for eggs Benedict and waiting for my daughter's voice lesson to run its course. The eggs were okay, if a little surprised by smoked salmon when I'd pictured lox. The orange juice arrived after I'd finished eating. My table was in a window with an up-close view of a lazy narrow channel on the Mississippi, and that is why I went there.

McManus 1:29 PM  

Was it a millionaire who said, “Imagine no possessions?”

Joe Bleaux 1:38 PM  

This is a test. I've been having problems signing in.

Joe Bleaux 1:41 PM  

I'm having problems signing in.
Is this going public?

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

After Richard Nixon won 49 states in 1972, Pauline Kael famously said. “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken. But sometimes when I'm in a theater I can feel them." She thought the Times was right of center too. The Times of course, had endorsed McGovern, as they have endorsed every Democratic presidential candidate since 1956.

Jilmac 1:45 PM  

I’m English and have never used ‘spot’ of tea!! Always annoys me!!

Pete 1:47 PM  

Lennon stated: "'Imagine', which says: 'Imagine that there was no more religion, no more country, no more politics,' is virtually the Communist Manifesto, even though I'm not particularly a Communist and I do not belong to any movement." ... Lennon himself stated that his song "did not discourage faith".

Live and learn.

CDilly52 1:50 PM  

AMEN @OldBrit!! That was my absolute favorite clue (along with 36A.) I struggled until I got the J - has tossed in “studying” but needed two more letters! Both brit clues were A+

CDilly52 1:59 PM  

Any time I see Agard I know I am in for a tussle, and this one delivered! I got nowhere until the SW where I got JABBING which got me LEBRON (great play on words in that clue!). WNBA fell next and that whole corner at least gave me hope! Took all morning but I enjoyed the struggle! Just what saturday should be.

CDilly52 2:00 PM  

Well said @Lewis! My sentiments exactly.

JC66 2:02 PM  

@Joe Bleaux

You made it. Mazel Tov!

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

I agree with Elvis Costello who said “John Lennon wrote some wonderful songs, but "Imagine", which has been so sanctified, was one of his worst. He didn't think it all the way through."

Laugher 2:31 PM  

He always makes excuses when he thinks he's too slow. What a chump.

Joe Bleaux 2:33 PM  

@jc66 -- Thanks! It's still a work in progress. We'll see.

jberg 2:37 PM  

@Gill, “Ain’t we got fun.”

Flyover Yokel 2:46 PM  

Laugher 2:31—Hear you. Any time Rex struggles (by his standards), either he’s had a few drinks, didn’t get enough sleep, the puzzle sucked and now it’s his dog’s fault.

jberg 2:55 PM  

I had a bit of luck today— went with my wife to her hairdresser, who spends ten minutes cutting my hair while she waits for something to process on hers. Anyway, I took the puzzle along, but forgot my phone. If I’d had it, I would have cheated— but I couldn’t and eventually did solve it. I’m with @Z — it was great to finally see what the tough clues were getting at.

My only regret was that STEP-INS (what we used to call “panties” in the US didn’t have a eacier clue.

My daughter rowed in college; when the river was frozen they’d work out on ERGS. One weekend each weekend Harvard would host the Erg Races,” which brought in rowers from all over—her whole crew would sometimes sleep on our floor. So it was nice to see that nostalgic word.

RooMonster 3:02 PM  

Hey All
Check Puz feature, with alphabet runs galore. Those of you looking for a challenge, I hope you're satisfied. :-)


Anonymous 3:06 PM  

since when to wo/men put scivvies on their feet?
clue: Laceless footwear

the proper answer is SANDALS, of course.

albatross shell 3:09 PM  

Only one Beetle wrote Imagine and by then he was probably an ex.

Love the ?clues. Perfect for Saturday. Much better than obscure people, events, battles, towns etc. Will this puzzle sweep the fave clues of the week? Has that ever happened? Tune in Monday.

I guessed pact, I thought pair DEAL duet.

I'm a Laker fan and LEBRON was one of my last few fills. Yeah. LA. But I started rooting for them the year before they left Minneapolis, so there.

Is AGEMATE a thing as Rex would say? But I mostly think that only the clue or the answer should be a thing, not necessarily both.

I had LARVAe for a time. The plural bothered me. Fine clue to me. LOWBLOW to the rescue.

Tough and rewarding, handsome grid-dle stacks. Tasty.

ghostoflectricity 3:25 PM  

I thought it was pretty easy for a Saturday. BTW (if no one else has mentioned it): "spot of tea," Rex. Sometimes you've got to get past the perennially tempting curmudgeonliness and think a little creatively. Thus, "spot starter?"= "TEAKETTLE." Enough said.

OffTheGrid 3:38 PM  

I own a pair of STEPINS but they have laces. It's an old pair I wear to the animal shelter in case I STEP IN "it".

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

Agemate and eatover next to each other was ridiculous. Hi dad

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

Uh, mount ass? Doesn’t sound like the Bible to me

Joaquin 4:43 PM  

@OffTheGrid - re: STEP INs comment: FTW.

Z 4:51 PM  

@TJS - Actually it was John Lennon who said that, as @Pete already mentioned.

@albatross shell - Harrison wrote Taxman, Lennon wrote Imagine, and they will both always be Beatles, so two Beatles wrote those two songs. And, as @TJS helpfully showed, lots of people don’t get the politics of either song (or how progressive taxes work).

@Anon1:45 - 1956, when many future Republicans were still southern Democrats. Best Republican presidents of the last 50 years? Obama and Clinton, both of whom were more conservative than Nixon on some issues. The notion that Democrats are overwhelming leftists is a Republican canard. Stop watching Fox news and look around a little and you will find lots of stories about the Democratic party establishment (which ranges from slightly right of center to slightly left of center) fighting hard to minimize the influence of actual progressive policy minded politicians. Let me add that any paper that endorsed Nixon in 1972 has been embarrassed by history.

Black Chick 5:15 PM  

Elvis Costello was too kind to “Imagine”. It is the worst song ever.

Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Seriously ?

Godless people like Nazis and Communists never kill people ?

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Enjoy the bubble Z. I think Pauline Kael got the irony. I hope you do too. Say hi to michiganman and pete.

JC 5:35 PM  

Would someone please explain ADIN.

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

The pressure was on me to finish this quickly as I have Australian houseguests, who were intrigued to find out what was a four letter symbol of their country. Normally I don’t google and enjoy the challenge of finally solving unaided. But they were about to go out and were waiting, and I was getting nowhere so I broke my streak and cheated. They were not impressed with OPAL, didn’t think of it as unique to Australia.

Nancy from Chicago 5:53 PM  

I enjoyed this one for the most part, but also found it very difficult and time-consuming. It probably didn't help that I started in the morning, went out to do errands, had a huge beer at lunch (I didn't realize "tall" meant "gargantuan") and finished when I got home. "Majoring in" was a long study for me as well. Unfortunately, my ultimate downfall was a misspelling of coarsening (I had coursening, which duh I know is wrong, but I couldn't see the typo once it was in the grid) crossed with a Thai word I don't know. Off by one letter, ugh.

albatross shell 6:14 PM  

@Z Yes you are right. The ambiguity of two people did two two things confused me a bit. And as long as Beatle functions as a title I'm OK there too. If the idea is there are no former Beatles, I'll count it as a religious belief. I know it is an old joke, but forty-some years ago a 17 year old did actually tell me he did not know McCartney was in a band before Wings.

Unknown 6:20 PM  

You need to watch University Challenge on BBC - 'Hi, I'm Jeremy reading ancient history'.

Lifelong Democrat 8:59 PM  

@Z-You’re obviously missing the point so I’ll spell it out for you. Nixon won 49 states. Nixon was right wing, McGovern was left wing. The Times endorsed McGovern. They are not now nor have they ever been anything but a left wing paper.

Joe Dipinto 10:19 PM  

Yoko Ono gets a co-writer credit on "Imagine" now.

Chim cham 3:10 AM  

Agree with your last thought completely. Solving in an app for so long(perfectly fine as it is), one easily loses touch with the challenging character of solving an extra-difficult puzzle on paper.

Anonymous 3:25 AM  

I agree with Rex on the mis-clueing of 43A (Spot Starter). Yes, there's such a thing as a Spot of Tea. However, a tea kettle doesn't start a Spot. The whole phrase is the whole phrase. If this is an acceptable clue/answer combo then anything is fair game: you can take any idiom you want, parse it down to just the first word, then clue for just that word. Lame.
And 49A (WNBA as the answer for Sun bloc?) was atrocious as well. Yes, I understand there's a WNBA team called the Charlotte Sun. But is the 'bloc' part of the clue supposed to represent the bloc of letters that make up the women's professional basketball league (the WNBA), of which The Sun is only a part of? That's the only thing I can think of and again, you could just pick any acronym and randomly call it a 'bloc' and then find some three-steps-removed clue for it.

Eric Weber 11:22 AM  

Super hard for me, a bit too much of the difficulty coming from exotic double meanings.

Georgia 3:16 PM  

In tennis, if you're at Deuce, the score is tied. If the server then serves an Ace the score becomes Ad In (the server is up one point).

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

Late here, saved puzzle for air travel. Just wanted to add what was a chuckle for me - had Mombasa for 'noted film fest site' confusing with Mumbai, which also didn't fit...and got semi-hysterical on the plane (weird looks to one laughing solo!), putting the Mumbaians (where I've not been) alongside Mombasans (where I've been), thinking about each's prospective film out awards to each other then having Kobe Bryant weigh in as Black of the best things of all in xword...will leave for another day when Mom and I doing a puzzle together, I blurted out (also on a plane) a four letter answer for clue "danger (Gr)" ...GIFT, guessing (Gr) was Greek. Opened a whole new way of thinking about inviting Greek guests for dinner.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Part straightforward, part tough. Six pissers doomed it. Rejected.

Oh - by the way, the dog is usually blamed for eating the homework, not clicking.

Burma Shave 11:35 AM  




spacecraft 11:47 AM  

Despite many a LOWBLOW in the clues, I did it: IMPRESSIVE! Well, to me at least. Toughest "spot" was not TEAKETTLE, though that wins the title of LOWest BLOW. No, it was AGENDER. Never heard this, nor have I ever heard the term "binary" used for gender identity. That was total weirdness to me. Finally cracked the ace-on-deuce clue (silver LOWBLOW medal!) to come up with ADIN--which is getting more tiresome the more times I see it. Official scorers NEVER use this term; only casual players. It's okay, I is in the language, but it suffers from overuse. It's become a constructor's crutch. It's poor fill. Let's ban ADIN and ADOUT.

Started in the SE with ALDENTE and GEORGES. NW was hard because 1a was hard to TRACKDOWN. Had a better handle once the Donald/KIEFER question was settled. (Donald has more talent in his little finger than the rest of the family altogether, IMO)

Wanted The Simpsons for TV Guide's best series--if they weren't going to give it to M*A*S*H. Had no idea the OPAL was a symbol for Australia; the things you learn doing these! Speaking of awards, Christina RICCI pulls down the DOD.

For THEMASSES (wait: should THEM ASSES be in the same grid with ASS??) of triumph points, I have to score this a birdie. Since it was already ADIN, that's game, set, and match.

rondo 12:00 PM  

Wow. Both Friday and Saturday turn out error-free for me. IMPRESSIVE? Maybe not to some, but a rare feat for me. Somewhere under a half-hour today. OFL with the trees/forest yet again re: TEAKETTLE. You'll miss enjoyable nuggets like that when speed-solving. Biggest issue for me was the vowel order in both KIEFER and BOEUF.

Did anyone above mention the FAINT IMAGE crossing the CAMERACREW?

Not uber familiar with CELIA Cruz, so yeah baby to Christina RICCI.

This type of puz APPEALS to me. I wouldn't LIETO you.

rainforest 3:48 PM  

Tough one today, but one I could slowly move through with perseverance and the occasional lucky guess.
Started off with BOEUF, STEW, PELL, OPAL, TOMB, and LOWBLOW. I moved to the South and kind of lucked out on KUNTA KINTE with a complete guess on EUREKA. The SW was tough until MAJORING IN (never really understood "reading". How does one "read" Math?

Up top, guessed ASS and SHOP which helped untangle that area, and rest was sort of mopping up. TRINIS seemed weird, but acceptable, I guess.

Overall challenging and competence reigned throughout, on the part of the constructors.
Liked it.

leftcoast 4:16 PM  

Tough, clever puzzle. Could be called Agardian.

Most elusive clues and answers: first human object to break sound barrier was a WHIP? OPAL is an Australian symbol? AGENDER is some nonbinary people? All news to me. And while I'm at it, should also cite CALORIFIC just for special mention.

Yes, very Agardian and apparently Pahkian, too.

P.S. dnf

Waxy in Montreal 8:31 PM  

IMPRESSIVE puzzle. Luckily remembered KUNTAKINTE from Roots which I believe was a way better series (there were actually many) than the SOPRANOS. Had PRECINCT and PAIR rather than DISTRICT and DEAL for far too long. And LOAFERS before STEPINS. STEWed over CAMERACREW and TEAKETTLE as well.

CALORIFIC? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

sdcheezhd 3:48 PM  

Same deal as Sarah, couldn't believe that SIMPSONS wasn't right even when it didn't work with LEBRON. Boooo TV Guide.

WilsonCPU 9:39 AM  

STEP-INS are NOT footwear, they are wide-legged panties.
You CAN “step in” to some footwear, but “STEP-INS” is specifically panties.
This can easily be Googled. Sigh. That, along with the unnecessarily odd clueing of ERGS and overall clunkiness dropped this puzzle _way_ down for both myself and my wife. Boo. As for LARVAL, man, you have to do some serious linguistic jujitsu to make that work. Boo x 2.

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