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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Constructor: Sam Trabucco

Relative difficulty: Easy or Easy-Medium (untimed, clipboard solve)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ACHATES (44A: Loyal friend to Aeneas) —
In the AeneidAchates (Ancient Greek: Ἀχάτης, "good, faithful Achates", fidus Achates as he was called) was a close friend of Aeneas; his name became a by-word for an intimate companion. // Achates accompanied Aeneas throughout his adventures, reaching Carthage with him in disguise when the pair were scouting the area, and leading him to the Sibyl of Cumae.  Virgil represents him as remarkable for his fidelity, and a perennial type of that virtue. However, despite being Aeneas's most important Trojan, he is notable for his lack of character development. In fact, he has only four spoken lines in the entire epic. Aeneas, surrounded by only a shadowy cast of allies, is thus emphasised as the lone protagonist and at the same time cut off from help on his quest. (wikipedia)
• • •

I had so many nice things to say about this puzzle. I still have, I guess. But my considerable feelings of good will, built up over solving the top and middle of the grid, all went pffft with a single answer in the SW. No, not ACHATES (although dang, that is pretty in-the-weeds ... I teach Aeneid every year and even I was like "o man what is that dude's name!?"). No, the mood ruiner today was ASSANGE (35D: Author of the 2012 book "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet). Specifically, the clue, which so narrowly and vaguely refers to him that you (if you're me) have to spend time waiting for the name to come into view, building up anticipation. "Ooh, who will it be!?!?! Let's see .... Wait ... Wait, what? Ugh, that guy? That Guy!? He's just ... 'Author'!? Oh ... *&$^% you!" I honestly think that it's not so much the dude's name (which I have endured and can endure in grids) as the coy, evasive, enormity-skirting "Author..." clue. Nothing about his being a patsy of Russian intelligence agencies (allegedly...) or his being a sexual assailant (allegedly...) but, just, an author of a book about freedom! And the future! With a wacky, kind of punny name! What fun! Ugh. Absolute Mood Killer. The neutrality of the clue was bad, and the fact that the neutrality caused me to have to puzzle it out, i.e. spend more time with it, anticipating what it would be ... yeah, that made it all so much worse. [Wikileaks founder], fine, that's true enough, and you're not teasingly hiding him from me, so ... I can deal. But this way, with this clue? I could hear the joy balloon deflating in my mind as soon as I figured out ASSANGE. You made me play "What's My Line?" and the Mystery Guest was ASSANGE, which is just rude. Yuck and barf. How can you not ... understand ... that certain names are toxic and that you have to handle (i.e. clue) them carefully or don't touch them at all?! Puzzle editing!!! (Side note: I know METOOISM has nothing to do with the #MeToo movement, but still, putting ASSANGE and METOO in the same grid, yeeeeeeesh)

This puzzle is weirdly overreliant on unlikely plurals, like ASTRAL PLANES plural and ONE-STEPS plural, but other than that, I liked most of the grid, for sure. METOOISM was a great weird answer to uncover (13A: Imitative practice). I had the back end first and was like "whaaaat ends -OOISM?" Great clue on LEOPARD PRINT (27A: Hot spots?) and METRIC SYSTEM (18D: Many of the world's rulers use it) and even PÈRE (28D: Champagne pop) ('cause pop = father and Champagne is a place in France). I would've said IT'S A GIRL is "often" associated with the color pink, not "typically"—it's a fine distinction, but kind of steers it away from normativity in a way I like better (51A: Message typically associated with the color pink). Actually, I wouldn't have touched "pink" at all, probably, but whatever. Not so keen on ANGE (esp. crossing ASS ... ANGE). IBI is another mildly icky foreignism (51D: There: Lat.). But the irksome stuff was pretty small and infrequent. I was more into the LEOPARD PRINT-wearing BREAK DANCERS at the center of it all. ALL RISE!

Had most trouble with the NE, where both BIG LIE (16A: Propagandist's technique) and MORDANT (18A: Sharply sarcastic) were not quick to cut across. Once I got MIR, though, MORDANT followed pretty quick, and then lucky guess of MOTHY (off the "M") set the rest of the corner straight in no time. I thought the video game was PAC-MAN, JR, so really waited to see what that first letter was (30D: Arcade game spinoff of 1983). Me: "Wait ... they made ... a MR. PAC-MAN? I thought ... PAC-MAN ... was MR. PAC-MAN." Now I'm imagining Pac-Man saying "MR. PAC-MAN was my father, call me 'Steve', please..." Anyway, that was weird. Loved SAKE CUP (46A: Vessel at a Japanese restaurant). Less keen on the single THIN MINT, and how do you know it doesn't "help with weight loss"? (11D: Snack that, despite its name, doesn't help with weight loss) Maybe I eat a THIN MINT or six and I feel sated and am less inclined to eat substantially between meals. You don't know me! Now I just want to go defiantly gorge on THIN MINTs and then lose weight, just to prove this puzzle wrong. Where was I? Oh, yeah, I liked this puzzle, very much, until I didn't, which is tragic, really.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian 7:25 AM  

A very satisfying, easy-medium Saturday solve, with clever cluing ... with the exception of ACHATES and METOOISM -- both a stretch.

Z 7:27 AM  

Easy Saturday here. Only writeover was lANkY before RANGY. A clue that got a side eye from me was “Hot spots?” Seriously? I thought the sexy LEOPARD PRINT cliché was over in 1979. I had LEO___ when I got to it so no problems, but it felt very Hefneresque to me, and just as dated. That slightly dated feeling was reinforced with BREAK DANCERS and their boomboxes. Add in ASTRAL PLANES and all that’s missing is a black light to make this a puzzle firmly ground in the decade from 1975-1985. I liked that decade but it was a long time ago.

@JC66 - I think this will test your hypothesis.

Lewis 7:29 AM  

"No!", I cried. "This can't be happening!"

There I was, looking at a grid that reminded me of a propeller or SPINNER, something that moves fast, and so was I, moving Tuesday-fast, through a Saturday grid. That never happens. And yet it was! It was as if I were at twin minds with the constructor!

Stunned and disbelieving, I was also smiling, as I knew I would, through a Sam Trabucco puzzle, yes, that Sam, who is imbued with a streak of humor. And if you don't believe me, just look at his picture at XwordInfo. How could I not smile through clues such as those for METRIC SYSTEM, ALL RISE, PERE, EYE TESTS, and OBAMA ERA?

Swift changes from G MAJOR to E MINOR and from BMS to OJS, and it was all over, but for the smiling, and gratitude for a memorable Saturday ride in the fast lane.

Suzie Q 7:39 AM  

I guess if we can have mazy yesterday then mothy must be OK too.
Astral planes was a cool entry and had me hearing the Moody Blues in my head.
I felt very clever to get ange with only one letter. Pere was easy to suss. The clue for nurse was so straightforward that I hesitated.
Rex's rant today surprised me. Oh well, it had to be something.
I would have chosen teak. What? You're going to cut down that tree to make a salad bowl? I know it's not that simple but that was my first thought.
Metooism crossing Koan was my DNF. Could not parse the first and never heard of the second.
You could Be at ease or Be a tease.

GILL I. 7:39 AM  

I always enjoy a Sam Trabucco Saturday. He hands out little words that I don't know. Remember Jank and Beer me? Today I learned that being sharply sarcastic is MORDANT and not the least bit sardonic. I will strive to be MORDANT the rest of my life.
BLACK CAT was my first...imagine that. I secretly hoped that we would get a Halloween puzzle. I suppose there is a story behind the voodooism behind the blackness of the pussy.
I only know ASSANGE from WikiLeaks and that he was the hacker of all hackers. So he wrote a book? Good for him.
The clue for PERE is primo. BEAT EASE. OK. Was able to get many of the long entries with just one or two letters. BREAK DANCERS off the B and K . DIdn't know JR PACMAN but it was so inferable . And so...the beat goes on.
California is burning up again. Not to mention being without electricity; winds expected to be about 80 MPH tomorrow. I have good wine that needs no refrigeration so I'm good to go. Say a prayer for the elderly who rely on oxygen powered by electricity.....PG&E has always been one BIG LIE...I wouldn't be surprised if ASSANGE worked for them.

Jyqm 8:42 AM  

Funny, ASSANGE was also a mood-killer for me, although in the sense that I thought, “Ugh, there goes any hope of an interesting Rex review, it’ll be rant city today.” Not sure why Mr. Parker believes a crossword puzzle is an appropriate venue to litigate Mr. Assange’s “alleged” bad conduct. Personally, I assume that most solvers of the Saturday puzzle are intelligent adults who have already formed their own opinion of Assange and are emotionally mature enough to handle a “coy” clue about a controversial figure.

Otherwise, lots of nice long answers, if a few too many POC (don’t get triggered, Rex, I mean all the terminal S’s). Wonderful fun clues on METRICSYSTEM, PERE, OBAMAERA, THINMINTS, and DOGDOOR. Enjoyed the ATLANTIS-MIR cross-reference too.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Rex’s rant today is exactly why the right thinks liberals are “snowflakes”. Really, failing to label ASSANGE as an evil guy ruins the whole puzzle for you? Seriously? And pink as a “typical” color for girls is just too normative for you? Please.

mmorgan 8:48 AM  

Primo puzzle and primo Rex Rant! (And these are completely independent dimensions of assessment.)

Teedmn 8:49 AM  

I thought LEOPARD Pants would be hot spots but DOG DOOR gave me an opening into that section.

When I had ___OOISM in at 13A, I took KOAN out, sensing an error, but the KOAN riddle was solved through seeing BMWS. Probably not the usual method of testing a KOAN.

Down in the SW, with lANkY in place and 35D looking like A___Nk_, I thought maybe a relative of Paul Anka had written the Cypherpunk book. When ASSANGE appeared, I was intrigued rather than disgusted. Yes, he's scummy, but I had to wonder whether he had written the book before he was famous or after. Wikipedia says after.

This Saturday puzzle didn't put up as good a fight as most Sam Trabucco oeuvres but it was pretty nice. Thanks, Sam.

Joaquin 8:50 AM  

My nitpick of the day (47D): “Now!” does not mean “ASAP”.
“Now!” means drop everything and get on it.
“Now!” = “STAT” = “immediately”.
“ASAP”, while indicating a measure of urgency, allows for some leeway.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Hung up by penning in CDBOXSET and staring at the crossing XP for way too long.

Unknown 8:56 AM  

I was with you for the start. Great puzzle but assange...yuck. So much good stuff you might habe noticed to alleviate the bad taste and keep the pisitive going. Come on rex... Give us some happy.

QuasiMojo 8:56 AM  

I managed to finish this unpleasant exercise without cheating but it left a sour feeling. It felt sloppy and pretentious. So many plurals. BREAK DANCERS, APES, MATS, ONESTEPS ASTRAL PLANES, EYE TESTS, BMWS etc and the idiotic CINE which is usually an adjective or a noun meaning movie theater, not the art of film, which is Cinema. Google it. MOTHY?? I did like the one about rulers, though. And BE A TEASE seemed a VERY funny answer to Not Worry. :)

kitshef 9:00 AM  


Knowing ACHATES would have helped me BIGLIE. As it is, I spent a big chunk of my time in that SW, even with BREAKDANCERS and the _M__OR from the music clue to get me started.

Only eight threes today, but they include TMS, OJS, IBI and STS.

I still have the tensor geometry (title: Tensor Geometry) book I won in MATHLETEs forty years ago.

If the METRIC SYSTEM clue doesn't make Lewis's list I may have to cancel my subscription.

RickA 9:18 AM  

"Biden time" (OBAMAERA) has come and gone? Ouch!

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

@mmorgan: I love your attitude! Enjoy both the puzzle and Rex.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

Ok I'll say it. Far far too easy to be a satisfying Saturday. Huge disappointment!

Linda Vale 9:28 AM  

“certain names are toxic“

There's a word for it
And words don't mean a thing
There's name for it
And names make all the difference in the world

Talking Heads
Give me back my Name

davidm 9:33 AM  

I thought this was really nice puzzle, and pretty easy for a Saturday. I got ATLANTIS and MIR right off, and then broke into the southwest and middle with OBAMA ERA and BREAKDANCERS. Even though I started with the northeast that was the last to fall, too, because for a long time I had LEOPARD SKINS rather than LEOPARD PRINTS, which bollixed up several down clues. Initially wrote in CORK for “Champagne pop” (you, champagne corks … pop, right?), but then had the aha moment on a lovely misdirection clue when I finally got LEOPARD PRINTS. ASSANGE didn’t bother me at all, and I’m as liberal as Rex — sometimes I think he’s in Woke warp drive, also known as Woke drive. ;-)

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:35 AM  

I dropped PUMPKINS in at 1A, right off the bat. So the NW was the last to fall.

JC66 9:38 AM  


I think the @Anons fell asleep waiting for @Rex to post and haven't woken up yet. ;-)

Birchbark 9:41 AM  

Yesterday's DHARMA is today's KOAN.

@Teedmn (8:49), as BMWS become more autonomous, it may be a matter of time before they solve KOANs while you drive.

Seven wild turkeys outside the window pecking around, and one of them is up on the bird feeder. It's a nice fall morning, rust-colored oaks beyond the meadow, sunshine, etc.

Dennis Doubleday 9:51 AM  

Nothing wrong with ASSANGE as an answer, he's a person in the news--not like He Who Must Not Be Named, or anything.

Please grow up, Rex.

Nancy 10:20 AM  

My big initial mistake was STEAMING before SEETHING for "really angry", leaving me with B-t-K DANCERS. I quickly wrote in BATIK DANCERS. Didn't know what they were, but they could have been something, right?

Like @Z, I had LANKY before RANGY, but this one got corrected quickly. OBAMA ERA and ASSANGE helped me correct all my mistakes in the SW.

I thought the clues "Standing order", "Barker's entrance" and "Champagne pop" were quite wonderful.

I once had a LEOPARD PRINT swimsuit back in the day. I just loved it. Alas, it eventually stretched out of shape as all swimsuits eventually do. I now have a gorgeous, muted LEOPARD PRINT blouse in mint condition that I got for an absolute song at one of the thrift shops. And I have an elegant LEOPARD PRINT long robe by Natori that I paid retail for and that cost me too much. But it enables me to walk down the hall and throw out trash when I'm in PJs. Or open the door to food deliverymen when I'm likewise. Since I'll never wear it at any other time, it'll last me the rest of my life and was worth every penny. You shouldn't have to put on street clothes to open your door to deliverymen, that's what I say.

Why so much LEOPARD PRINT? Brown and black are each very becoming colors on me -- even more so when they're combined.

Back to the puzzle -- I really enjoyed it. Not as hard as yesterday's for me, but crunchy enough and very lively.

Odd Sock 10:27 AM  

For some people Obama Era is worse than Assange.
Many nice long answers today.
Dog fanciers might argue that miniature is not the same as toy.

Nancy 10:39 AM  

Thanks, @kitshef. I inadvertently omitted mentioning METRIC SYSTEM as one of the best clues in this puzzle and I agree with you -- it's terrific.

I wondered as I watched the news last night which, if any, of my CA friends had been adversely affected by the fires and the blackouts. I'm so, so sorry, @GILL that you're going through this nightmare yet again. I'm also concerned about @Mathgent and @Larry Gilstrap (who, come to think of it, I haven't seen on the blog in quite a while.) I hope you'll all be safe, with your power back on and your air breathable once again. What's happening in CA year after year is both alarming and heartbreaking. I feel so bad for all of you.

Carola 10:44 AM  

A fun one. An initial misstep at dUn (for SUE) actually got me off on the right foot anyway, as the U got me ATRIUM, the M of which led to MATHLETE, whose T and E helped with METRIC SYSTEM and BOXED SET....and onward with just enough in the crosses to nudge me in the right direction. However, the NW about that incorrect "dUn" remained blank until I got ASTRA to complete my LPLANES and saw the crucial BLACK CAT. Last in: SUE x LEAPS and CORNEAL. I loved the mythical ATLANTIS complementing those ASTRAL PLANES.

SouthsideJohnny 10:46 AM  

It is sadly ironic that Rex’s (pretty much daily) petty tirades have a lot in common with President Donald J. Trump’s pretty much daily lies - they both have become such common (and frequently discounted) occurrences that they lose relevance and just fade into background noise. Wow, Trump and OFL - strange bedfellows indeed.

Newboy 10:52 AM  

Usual Saturday solve for us....blank stares to begin the grid, then random tiny chunks with little connecting and finally LEAPS to the ASTRAL PLANES of solver nirvana. Enjoyed changing cork to PERE at last with a usual embarrassed giggle. Rex raises some interesting quibbles, but I’m willing to let Will be Will and BE AT EASE with efforts like Sam’s. Now back to see how others respond.

Jillybean 10:56 AM  

Fun puzzle but far too easy for a Saturday. I think people are missing Rex’s point- ithe issue is not that Assange’s name is in the puzzle- it’s the way ihe was clued. Obviously far more extreme but for example it would be similarly weird if Hitler was clued as “guy with mustache”. It normalizes.

puzzlehoarder 10:58 AM  

An easy but entertaining Saturday puzzle. KOAN and CINE were gimmes so the NW fell first.

The clue for ALEX is a classic obscure reference for a random name and was of no help to me. After wasting some time with the rest of the letters to ASTRALPLANES and the MA of 23A I restarted in the SW. Guessing ASSANGE I supported it with RANGY and confirmed that with TOY. From then on it was smooth sailing through the rest of the puzzle.

An interesting juxtaposition of ANGE and ASSANGE. I never considered the idea of him as an ASS ANGEL. No wonder he's fighting so hard to stay out of prison.

Hack mechanic 11:07 AM  

Guessed right off 35D was Snowdon or Assange but cross with 50A settled it - had to be something major or minor. Don't see what all the fuss is about

jae 11:21 AM  

Easy. Easier than yesterday’s. ACHATES and IBI were WOEs, but the rest was erasures. Liked it but it was over too quickly.

mbr 11:25 AM  

@QuasiMojo: Ciné is short for Cinéma .... in places like Cannes, as the clue suggests

GHarris 11:32 AM  

Didn’t even understand Rex’s rant. Guess we’re just on different wave lengths. The SW was dreadful for me especially since I put in lanky and never heard of 44across. Jr Pac-Man and Assange didn’t help and I needed an assist from auto check to finish. Apropos of nothing, how about a clue “Chameleon”for the answer “Lindsey Graham”?

Bourbon Street 11:33 AM  

The feline-lover in me was happy to see LEOPARD, BLACK CAT, and a hidden CHAT.

I was wondering for a while what a BIGLIE was. It sounded like something a certain politician would say. Then I noticed it was BIG LIE. Oops.

SAKE CUP and NURSE seemed too obvious to be true for a Saturday. Overall, I liked this puzzle.

eddy 11:40 AM  

Like Emmanuel Goldstein in "1984", just mention the name Assange and watch everybody do a ten minute hate. It is so automatic and programmed, dare I say brainwashed, into us. I am not among the people who eruct and splatter the bile whenever the Assange dog whistle is blown. Alright, the man is, well, hard to like. Eccentric. Sort of pretentious. But I think there is a certain dedication to the unvarnished openness required for factual discourse in his vision, and I give him that. There are too many government secrets, which are in fact attempts to hide embarrassing or illegal acts. Some are justifiable, sort of, but I don't personally like to take the word of the official story. Aside from that, the name is perfectly suitable for a stupid crossword puzzle which is merely an exercise for the brain.

RooMonster 11:42 AM  

Rotten phone refreshed just as a wad ending my post. It was a good one, too. :-)

Liked puz. The end.


jberg 11:45 AM  

Personally I felt it was better to clue ASSANGE neutrally, since some despise him and others think he's a hero. Anyway, I loved the puzzle for all the reasons everyone already mentioned.

I learned something too -- MORDANT is not the same word as the musical ornament mordent, as I'd always thought. Interpreting from that, I'd thought that MORDANT implied not only sarcasm, but darkness; but it turns out the clue is the dictionary definition, which I looked up after solving.

What I had hoped to learn after seeing 5D, but didn't, is what the sound of one hand clapping actually is.

@Quasi, I think the mention of Cannes is supposed to suggest that it's a French word; the French often shorten cinema to 'le cine.' (Accent aigu there, but I can't type it.)

Z 11:46 AM  

Not that any of them are self-aware to realize this and stop, but when someone says something you disagree with calling them a “snowflake” demonstrates that you are yourself too much of a “snowflake“ to contend with their point. @Jyqm shows how it is properly done with the last sentence of his first paragraph. He doesn’t call Rex a name, he provides a counter argument.

@JC66 - This is the 7th out of 33 comments that are only or nearly only in response to Rex’s ASSANGE observation (thankfully only one “snowflake”). OFL states his opinions with certainty and a flair that generates reactions.

Have you ever wondered why it was a little kid who had to point out that the emperor was not wearing any clothes?

What? 12:04 PM  

Finished it, no errors - so, great puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Cool. U can spin the puzgrid in any direction, and the pattern stays the same. Words might be backwards or upside-down, tho. Luved the full-boat four Jaws of Themelessness look … really chews up the scenery.

A few minty things:
* If U luv Zen riddles, are U a KOAN-head?
* MOTHY is a primo MAZY sequel.
* Great ALLRISE clue.
* 1-A has a nice Halloween spirit. Also nice companion to DOGDOOR.
* Didn't know ACHATES, but crossers were fair. ACHATES dude musta really been anti-cooling system? Probably chilled easily. Ditto on me not knowin ANGE, btw.
* IBI? Can U use it in a sentence? Is IBID the past tense? M&A can only use it for the staff weeject pick.
* ASSANGE sure ain't no role model, but I don't overly mind him fillin out a tough puzcorner on ultra-rare occasions. Looks like ASSANGE and/or its clue really pushed @RP's pewit-button, tho … but ok, @RP's entitled to his own wiki-pile of strong dislikes.

Thanx for the 4-jawed challenge, Mr. Trabucco. Good job.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Melissa 12:26 PM  

I have work colleagues and family members I talk to about the puzzle. Outside of this blog I’ve never heard anyone be upset by a crossword clue or answer. Weird. I wonder if Rex and his ilk get all riled up by other puzzles they do or if it's just the Times.

Nampa bob 12:28 PM  

Interesting puzzle.
Not what I enjoy, but pretty well done.
I’m not a big fan of people magazine fill, TV guide crossword stuff...
It’s not why I come to the NYTXW, but it’s 2019, not 1980, so...
Time to get over it, and other nits.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Miss the Obama era. I’ll be happy in 63 months (or maybe less) when the Trump era is over.

Fred Romagnolo 12:51 PM  

I've never heard anyone say DOG DOOR, only pet DOOR; maybe it's a San Francisco thing. BTW San Francisco hasn't been hit by power outages. ASSANGE may be slime, but so was Che (important 3 letter entry).

Bill Hader 1:14 PM  

@Jillybean, does your editor/clueing theory result in “despot murderer who wrote The Little Red Book”? I tend to think like one of the commenters above, that NYT puzzle solvers are intelligent and mature enough to ascribe the unwritten characteristics of the clued person.

At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle but am embarrassed to say that my stubbornness hung me up in the SW quadrant. I refused to think that a popular brunch drink was anything but a MIMOSA so OJS (breakfast) refused to come into my mind. Likewise, it’s been a long time since I took basic music lessons so I simply could not think of anything but GMAJOR. I finally changed to MiINOR but by then I was fubarred on sussing out OBAMAERA. My gobbledygook at that point only made ABRACADABRA come to mind, har! Nonetheless, that was my bad and still an enjoyable DNF for me.

Joe Bleaux 1:35 PM  

Yup, ol’ masochistic Joe’s still trying to post.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

This is almost unheard of for me -- solving consecutive Friday and Saturday puzzles without any outside help!! My joy is dampened by the many comments on how easy this was. Well, I still have time to improve. I actually missed OJs and had OMs (what drink is that?) because I immediately put down Mr. Pacman and never came back to challenge that.

Assange is a controversial character, with detractors and admirers. I think he is a truly odious person -- not to be admired.

Jyqm 2:06 PM  

@Jillybean — “Normalizes” what? And to whom?

This is not a middle school social studies class. “Okay, children, today we’re going to learn about Julian Assange, a man who wrote a book about freedom and the internet!” Obviously that would be a ridiculous and inappropriate introduction.

This, however, is a Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle. The people who solve it are almost by definition intelligent adults with a wide knowledge base. We know who Assange is, and we know the various positive and negative things he is associated with. We don’t need our hands held when it comes to controversial people appearing as answers in the puzzle.

I am no fan of Assange myself — personally, I read the clue as a bit of an ironic poke and chuckled to myself: “That guy would take it upon himself to write a book about ‘freedom and the internet,’ wouldn’t he?” However you read it, it’s an oblique clue that touches upon one of the things he is most (in)famous for, and indeed you have to already know something about him to make sense of the clue and guess the answer. And as one or two others have mentioned, the supposed “neutrality” (really: ambiguity) of the clue is precisely to suggest “Snowden” as a possible alternative answer — in other words, to make the puzzle, you know, a puzzle.

Richardf8 3:28 PM  

This is the second time JRPACMAN appeared recently. The first time I filled Pacman Jr because it’s what I thought I remembered. Wikipedia confirms JRPACMAN.

Between that and Breakdancing this was a very back to the 80s feel.

Assange is fun to spell. He always struck me as one of those naive fools who believes that if we could just do away with boundaries and secrets we would have peace. Boundaries and secrets ate, rather, essential to peace.

QuasiMojo 4:04 PM  

@jberg I have spent a lot of time in France but never heard "le Cine" to describe movies or film. It refers to a cinema, as in movie theater. If things have changed in the last decade or so I apologize. But I've been unable to find any evidence online to support its use in this context. Perhaps John in Paris can shed some light on the matter.

Anonymous 4:32 PM  

Another dismal Saturday morning watching Northwestern football, so thank you, @kitchef, for making me laugh out loud. SEETHING, saything is going to stick with me a long time.

E.Snow 7:36 PM  

I don’t grok the meltdown over the Assange clue. I’m not a fan but the clue was accurate and the answer was gettable with a few letters. Is the proprietor of this blog’s contention that we have to inject political opinions in the clues ? Enough already.

addisondewitt 8:40 PM  

I get Rex’s Assange commentary and even appreciated it because it helped me see that the clueing was too offhand considering what a supporter of totalitarianism he turned out to be.

Z 9:27 PM  

Rex tweeted that he’s at the Elvis Costello concert tonight. I am so jealous. In honor of his good fortune and Mr. ASSANGE, a video tribute.

Anonymous 9:42 PM  

@Z-My favorite Elvis Costello song is The Other Side of Summer...”Was it a millionaire who said Imagine no possessions?”

Kyle 10:47 PM  

I thought I read somewhere that Will Shortz et al purposely try to skirt controversy. Event if it's not stated explicitly, was there a time when the NYT crossword was considered controversial and edgy? It seems to me they very consciously try to keep things safe and leave the more barbed clues for the fine folks at AVCX. I think it's possible to love them both.

Robert Berardi 10:53 PM  

"BOXED" SET? Isn't it box set?

Anonymous 11:53 PM  

@Robert- boxed set and box set are both fine, boxed is better grammatically and certainly crossword worthy

Barbara 1:46 PM  

There’s been a meme going around, “Ate a box of THIN MINTS, didn’t get thinner. I don’t think they work.”
So I saw this one coming.

Fred Wollam 3:55 PM  

Sam went to Cannes for CINE depuis c'est un mot français.

spacecraft 11:03 AM  

Funny how I can BEATEASE facing a Saturday clue list that looks daunting. Decided to start with ITSAGIRL (my Lord, in a flatbed Ford) and soon had the SE. From there I simply used the METRICSYSTEM to penetrate the ASTRALPLANES. Loved BREAKDANCERS atop ONESTEPS. For this day? Easy-medium.

Not that I have any love for ol' Julian, but a name dropped into a crossword grid is just that, not by any means an endorsement by the constructor/editor. Too bad his loathing ruined the experience for OFC. It's just a name in a grid, dude. Take a chill pill and a THINMINT.

Several KATEs vie for DOD, but I'm giving it today to Simone Missick, star of the marquee answer ALLRISE. If I'm in the courtroom, you don't even have to give the command.

Again I'm a LEARNER: METOOISM (inferable but never heard of), MORDANT (knew once but forgot), and ACHATES (don't think I ever knew). Fill is good outside of the RMK and some iffy threes. A solid birdie.

Burma Shave 1:59 PM  




rondo 2:18 PM  

Please notice that the Valerie June link above is from 89.3 The Current. Stream it.

Amazing as to what WARRANTS SEETHING in some folks (OFL). More to the point would be complaining about that METOOISM--MOTHY line; that's pretty bad. And sycophant @Z side eyes LEOPARDPRINT? Has he ever been in the women's clothing or accessories department of a store? LEOPARDPRINT has *never* gone out of style, though some folks' thought processes apparently did stop in 1979.

Pick a SUE, any SUE, except the so-named boy.

Perfect grid today, but cringed putting the second O in METOOISM. Those are the places to cringe and wince, not at names.

rainforest 3:10 PM  

This was a pretty easy Saturday, but for me it had lots of sparkle. There was a variety of interesting entries, some which we haven't (or at least I haven't) seen before in a puzzle. The only really opaque ones were OTIS and ACHETES, but the crosses sorted those out.

Almost gimmes BLACK CAT and BMWS totally gave away the NW, and I was off on a speedy, for me, solve. There was a wavelength thing happening throughout. I've been on both sides of said wavelength, and I do prefer being on the same one.
I saw no junk herein, and I liked EMINOR because I know a little music, and the clue gave a perfect description. Hardly "random".

Liked it.

Diana, LIW 7:10 PM  

I made a dumb error in the NE, but that didn't matter, since the SW was a real Natick for me.

Otherwise, I liked it, and was surprised at how much I did get!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 7:14 PM  

@rainy - 'random' in that with a choice of 7 letters and then a major or MINOR, you never know which is next. 14 options.

rondo 11:48 PM  

And then there's the flats and sharps

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