Contemporaries of Pharisees Sadducees / SAT 11-23-19 / Rap group with six grammys / Predominant language in Darjeeling / City that's home to Mausoleum of Aga Khan / Borderer of Mekong / Muslim magistrates / Low-cost carrier based in Kuala Lumpur / She accompanied Ferris on his day off

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (untimed, but definitely easier than it looked like it was going to be, with those horrible open 7x7 corners...)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SHARIFS (32D: Muslim magistrates) —
a descendant of the prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatimabroadly one of noble ancestry or political preeminence in predominantly Islamic countries (merriam-webster)
• • •

Took one look at the grid and new it wasn't going to be a great experience. Can't say how grim I find these quadranted themelesses. I don't see the appeal. You get these giant open corners from which no (or little) good can come. At best, your 7x7 corner is going to be Just OK. And I mean *at best*. I have to idea what the appeal of filling such giant holes is besides a certain kind of technical showing off (which isn't very show-offy anymore, what with computer-aided construction). Anyway, sure enough, this topped out at OK, with lots of much lower moments. Nothing good can come of a puzzle (themeless or otherwise) that has only two (2) (TWO!) answers more than 7 letters long. And then the first of those is dull, and the second, which wants to be wacky, has this trip-over-your-laces clue that kind of ruins everything: "after" is in the clue, so ENSUES feels awkwardly redundant. The NYT is a pro at taking a perfectly good colloquial phrase and then hanging the ungainliest clue on it. Here's what I enjoyed seeing: OUTKAST. Maybe AQUAMAN, a little. Not that most of the fill is bad—it's fine, by and large. Just dull and lackluster and not what I solve Saturdays for. Higher word count, more sparkle, pleeeeeease!

Little annoyances abound today. WIT'S END looks weird as a stand-alone. APELIKE is ... ugh. I mean, APE is a synonym of "oaf" and "-like" is a synonym of "-ish," so, sure, that's a safe clue. But it's not a good clue, and it certainly doesn't make the term more attractive. I'd like to stand up for actual apes, who seem nothing like oafs, frankly. Stop hanging guys' bad behavior on apes, man. GOODY, oof. I had GOOD- and still didn't get it. You only get to "perk" via the phrase "GOODY bag," which I think are "perks" of certain kinds of parties. Maybe children's parties? Cookies and candies are goodies. I just don't think "perk" gets at it. "Something that is particularly attractive, pleasurable, good or desirable," says M-W. "Perks" are bonuses. Anyway, dislike. SILENT W is not a thing in my book. Stop trying to find occasions to put any and every letter of the alphabet at the end of SILENT _. I'll give you E for sure—a crucial concept. Sure, other letters can be silent, but they aren't stand-alone concepts. SILENT W!? Remember learning about SILENT W in third grade? No, you do not. :(

Do pros usually MAKE PAR? (11D: What pros usually do) Filled that one in with a grimace. I guess [Straightaway] is being used as a noun in the BEELINE clue? Again, awkward. A straightaway is a straight stretch of road or track. BEELINE is straight, yes, but entirely metaphorical. And since I stood up for apes earlier, allow me to stand up for bees and say, since when do they fly straight??? Have. You. Seen. Actual. Bees? The inaptness of the metaphor is not the puzzle's fault, obviously. Still... and speaking of bees, SACS, yuck, is that an anatomical clue? (32A: Pollen repositories). SAC has a "moist"-like quality for me, in that I find the word semi-repulsive. I wanted something more bee-ish than mere SACS. I have "F.U." written next to the clue for TUE (39D: Calendar abbr.) because I got the "T," which left me with a TUE / THU dilemma, and since the clue is the exact opposite of "vivid" or "lively" or "specific," I just had to wait. Vagueness does add difficulty, but it does not add color. ESSENES running along the bottom of the grid is pure crutch. Expect to see a lot of E S and N in harder-to-fill corners, lots of NESS's and -EST suffixes and plurals and what not. LOTS, I say. Why would you exhume the director of "Birth of a Nation" just to appear in a clue for SEXES!?!? Bizarre. I enjoyed remembering "Ferris Bueller," but that is a pretty niche clue for SLOANE (43D: She accompanied Ferris on his day off). I got it because that movie is in my cultural sweet spot. Might I suggest SLOANE Stephens for something a little more contemporary? She won the 2017 US Open, so she's definitely worthy.

If you don't give me anything fun to distract me, then I tend to chew on all the unpleasant stuff. Hence today's review. Oh, I like FAD DIETS too (36A: Fruitarianism and others). I forgot to mention that. That's good fill. The rest of the grid was subpar, which is another one of those inapt metaphors, since being below par is *good* in golf, which is the only context in which anyone uses "par." But if you just take "par" to mean "standard," then, yeah, being substandard is bad. If you'd like to stop my meandering linguistic disquisitions, kindly give me more material to play with next time, puzzle!
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Brian 6:09 AM  

    Agree with Rex in that it was definitely easier than it originally looked. Felt like a Wednesday solve but with uninspired, somewhat irksome fill -- WIT'S END, MAKE PAR, and GOODY?

    Lewis 6:37 AM  

    Oh man, Trenton, you made me scrape, seemingly for every square with your devilish cluing. You made me commit to staying in my chair until I finished this, because somehow I knew you wouldn't natick me. I knew that if I persisted, I would crack the code that was this puzzle. How did you motivate me thusly? I don't know, but trust me, you did.

    There was a major joyous explosion approaching nirvana when PARKING GARAGES appeared, and a simple deeply-felt nod of respect for your skill and art when that last square filled in.

    This was a Saturday puzzle to remember, and I salute you for it, Trenton. Great one!

    Solverinserbia 6:42 AM  

    NW corner took up almost half my 22 minutes and I had the bottom two clues. Having delhi and saga in place of ASWAN (haven't heard of it) and EDDA (only from x words) didn't help. Finally deleting them and getting GENETIC and then ASSUAGE led the corned to fall but not before I tried ShIPPED for "passed on."

    I enjoyed the puzzle. Thumbs up. Not an all time classic but then few are.

    Solverinserbia 7:11 AM  

    I just looked up PGA tour stats. The top birdier this season is Tiger Woods on 37.5% of holes. All the pros are between 0.75 and 5 boogies per round (18 holes). So I couldn't find whether 50+% of holes played by pros are pars but I believe they are by looking at these two stats.

    Also the other day some people didn't like NOBET for what a check means in poker. Last night I was watching a pro poker player stream (courtiebee) and she said something like, "I'm going to look at his check percentage and percentage of no bets.. [laughs to self] I need coffee, that's the same thing..." or something to that effect, wish I had the clip handy to re-watch. But in the moment I thought it was strong evidence that "NOBET" is a thing.

    OffTheGrid 7:15 AM  

    Like @Rex, I disliked the silent W thing and I finished in the same place, last word SACS, last letter S. Solving experience, however, was like @LEWIS. I loved it. It took me 46 minutes and I used only my own head as reference. This is very unusual for me on Saturday. I always at least use "Check" so I don't go too far astray. This probably means the puzzle was too easy for many of you. I saw the 4 quads and decided to go after the middle first. It happened to work out. I got entry into the corners and went from there.

    ncmathsadist 7:45 AM  

    You missed the biggest bonehead move of all :ENTWIST ('twould be entwine).

    Suzie Q 7:50 AM  

    This is just the sort of puzzle I hope for on a Saturday. I stared at my blank grid for several minutes before I felt sure enough to start writing. Loved loved loved Hilarity ensued!
    I was surprised that Aswan was correct. What was Aga Khan doing in Egypt I wonder? I'm glad 1D wasn't clued as Omar's family.
    This was a satisfying hard-fought victory. Thanks Trenton.

    Anonymous 7:51 AM  

    On 9D, AQUINAS.

    Most scholars refer to his magnum opus as the *Summa Theologiae* (a summa of theology) rather than Summa Theologica (a theological summa). Summa means something like the principal points, although some other translation may be better (summa is singular).

    The objections raised on this blog some time ago about referring to Leonardo da Vinci as "da Vinci" may also be raised about referring to Thomas Aquinas as "Aquinas," although one sees it everywhere. I don't really object to it, although I don't like "da Vinci." Aquinas is simply the Latin for "from Aquino," Aquino being a town not too far from Rome. It's also the birthplace of the Latin poet and satirist Juvenal. Most medievalists, I think, prefer to call Thomas Aquinas simply Thomas, or St. Thomas, although I confess that things can get cumbersome, and confusing, if one is studying St. Thomas and someone else named Thomas, since the name, then and now, is very common.

    Anon. i.e. Poggius

    Hungry Mother 7:51 AM  

    The NW was tougher than the rest. It seemed like a long slog, but the time indicates that it was easy. I was reminded that I have to watch one of my favorite movies for the Nth time.

    Joe Strummer 7:59 AM  

    Sharif don't like it.

    Spatenau 8:08 AM  

    Bees do indeed make a "beeline" when they fly back to the hive. It is because of this fact that it is possible to locate a hive of wild bees in the woods by putting out sugar water, then marking a bee with chalk and timing how long it takes for the bee to return. Knowing the direction it flew off and the rate at which it flies allows you to locate the hive. I saw my uncle do this when I was a child. Not knowing stuff is fine, assuming you know everything is insufferable.

    American Liberal Elite 8:12 AM  

    Agree with ncmathsadist. "Entwist" (which my spell checker just rejected) was the biggest "oh no you didn't" moment in this puzzle.

    pabloinnh 8:23 AM  

    I'm no fan of the four corners kind of grid, guess I'm with OFL on that one. I mean, PARKINGGARAGES went right in, and what good did it do me? Not much. Also, another vote against the execrable ENTWIST, which is one of those clues you read and think oh please don't be, in this case,ENTWIST. Also, my spell check doesn't like it.

    On the other hand this is why I like Saturdays. Tough but fair, and that satisfying feeling when you write in your last answer, which for me was ASWAN, and then you say, well, of course. So thanks for the fun, TC, even if I would like your corners more connected.

    GILL I. 8:24 AM  

    @Suzie Q. I think Aga Khan is more of a title for Imams? I might be wrong but I know there are a boatload of them. I was actually looking at something in Turkey or Persia - even India. I knew it started with an A because of easy ASSUAGE.
    I loved this puzzle. I had a few "change of minds." The first was inserting LAB rats instead of the cute MICE. I MANAGE gave me the I I needed. The other was PARKING permits instead of the GARAGES. PARKING GARAGES sounds a bit redundant to me. What else can you do in a garage? Put the toilet seat down?
    Loved SHARIFS as well. That's the name of my favorite jeweler here in Sacramento. I'll tell him he was featured in the NYT the next time I see him for some silver polish.
    HILARITY ENSUES crossing GOODY. I'm going to call myself a Fruitarinist. I eat a ton of that stuff. Right now I'm a mango fetishista.
    Loved the clue for BUTLER and I don't mind the SILENT types. Think Steve McQueen in "The Great Escape." He didn't say much but he was sure fun to watch.
    My daughter and I bandied the thought around of having SASHIMI this year for Thanksgiving. Neither one of us likes turkey. The GASPS were audible. NO WAY JOSE was the common thread. I get stuck with making those damn pumpkin pies again. Maybe I'll slip in a chocolate cake.
    This was fun,, Trenton....

    Petsounds 8:32 AM  

    @ncmathsadist: With you all the way on "entwist." Looked it up and the only "dictionaries" it's found in are the dopey online ones that accept any usage, any new word, any new spelling of an old or new word, or a word someone who works there just happened to overhear someone say in the rest room.

    Had a hard time with this one--a lot of proper nouns unfamiliar to me, plus the egregious ENTWIST--and pretty much agree with Rex's comments. Especially his suggestion for the SEXES clue, which was really annoying: an extremely obscure D.W. Griffiths movie? Come on. But I did enjoy the clues for CLIPART and ESTATES. "The BUTLER did it" feels aged enough to be using a walker and an earhorn.

    Unknown 8:51 AM  

    Several clever clues made it fun. Nothing easy, at least for me, but I thought Rex would like that. Got my moneys worth on this puzzle.

    TJS 8:59 AM  

    Now this was a Saturday. I had nothing after reading all the top downs. Nothing going across. Didnt get a foothold until boa all the way near the bottom. Had to sit and think for a while until Sloane popped, because I just refused to move on until I remembered my favorite character in one of my favorite movies. Sexes led me to alto sax, and the whole South fell. Then renewing the attack in the North, inch by inch. A great puzzle with original fill. Loved it. And Rex continuing his weeklong stretching for something to cry about just made me like this more.

    Nancy 9:03 AM  

    I found this less sparkly, not as superbly clued and -- with the exception of the SW -- easier than yesterday. But I also found it much fairer in the crosses and almost completely lacking in pop culture names.

    Knowing that CASTLES had to be the answer to "moves two pieces at once", I avoided the LAB rats trap and confidently put in LAB MICE.

    Is our word "sheriff" derived from SHARIF? I didn't know it in any event.

    What happens after a zany plot twist? HILARITY ENSUES and GREEN PAINT SPLATTERS.

    When I'm at my WITS END, I'm frantic, not boiling mad. Just saying.

    A polished puzzle with enough crunch to keep me happy.

    Z 9:05 AM  

    Last I looked 8>7.

    AQUINAS crossing AQUAMAN got a smirk here.

    @Spatenau - You’re right. And have you ever seen a BEE fly in a straight LINE? I ask because, well, they never do.

    The SILENT e tells us to change the vowel sound, can/cane or tin/tine. But the SILENT W? I think of it as not so much SILENT as subtle. I do not pronounce Who and Hoo the same, but the difference is so subtle that I could almost convince myself there is no difference. Almost.

    The solve was a nice challenge, but there was a lack of sparkle in the answers (sparkly PARKING GARAGES are as rare as BEs flying in a straight LINE). C+

    Birchbark 9:10 AM  

    Solid @Rex contribution today -- I learned that comparing apes to humans is offensive to apes. Also learned that SILENT W is not a "stand-alone concept," but SILENT E is. Beauty is truth.

    Also excellent @Anon./Poggius (7:21) re AQUINAS. Something about today's daunting-at-first-glance-but-in-fact-solvable grid suggests that the constructor is a Thomist.

    And best of all, @Spatenau (8:00) on BEELINE and how find wild bees' nests in the woods using angles and time. Much better than my method this past summer, which was just to step on one by accident. HILARITY ENSUED.

    BobL 9:12 AM  

    This was a bear of a puzzle. And I finished. I am quite proud of myself.

    Newboy 9:16 AM  

    Golly gee whiz there’s a lotta white top & bottom today joined appropriately by that sticky POI. This was an hour glass design which took full advantage of the wide open spaces; complications might have ARISEN, but a BEE LINE through the PARKING GARAGES was able to ASSUAGE my concerns. Great longish words meshed; HILARITY ENSUES didn’t. I appreciate the constructor effort that was rewarded by Jeff Chen’s POW, but I wanted more sparkle. Only INSerts before INSOLES slowed me briefly in the SE.

    Z 9:17 AM  

    Both Collins and Merriam-Webster cite a first usage around 1590 for ENTWIST. Seems like a word to me. As far as I know, nobody working for either publication was in a restroom in 1590.

    Which reminds me, @anoa bob - Huh? Can’t say I’ve ever verified what was actually being cleaned off, but never has it seemed like a fungal growth.

    Teedmn 9:17 AM  

    TEFAS - Too Easy For A Saturday. Just like yesterday was TEFAF. I liked the puzzle a lot, agreed with Jeff Chen that it deserved Puzzle of the Week. But it just never presented any challenge. PARKING GARAGES went in right away and that made the NW fall too. The NE was a little harder but I MANAGE and LAOS made sure that filled in also.

    No jam up in the center. HILARITY ENSUES is something my friend Tom says all the time but his sarcasm bites harder than 41A's clue was able to convey. I kept thinking that one of these quadrants would put up a fight but they just got easier. I finished in the SE and it was like ABC.

    BEELINE as explained here negates Rex's complaint that beelines aren't straight. My husband and I once got lost in the woods in the BWCA even though we were armed with a compass and a map. We found our way out by sheer good fortune, but later I read up on where we went wrong with our navigating. We failed to take into account how far off our straight line we were going due to the terrain - skip around this fallen tree, avoid that wet, mucky swamp area. Next thing you know... The article I read said to fix on a recognizable point - large tree, etc. and make a beeline for it. In this case, it probably wouldn't be a straight line you followed to reach your landmark but when you got there, you would have gone straight towards your destination point. Rinse, repeat, until you've reached your goal. All that just to say, I think BEELINE is more than metaphorical. Screed over.

    Thanks, Trenton, your puzzle was smooth and lovely.

    Teedmn 9:21 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    SouthsideJohnny 9:27 AM  

    The four mini-puzzle setup is extra tough on intermediate solvers like myself as it requires getting a toehold four separate times. The southeast section was particularly brutal today - SLOANE crossing ESSENES along with ALTOSAX - isn’t every single instrument on the planet a potential “combo component”? Also, Help ! How do we get from “Willing subjects” to ESTATES ? I know that ESTATES is an archaic term for classes of people, but how does that make them “willing” ?

    Like I said, that whole section was way above my pay grade, lol.

    kitshef 9:27 AM  

    When I hit HILARITY ENSUES, I knew there was pretty much nothing this puzzle could do that would make me not love it.

    But as it turned out, the rest of the puzzle was pretty great, too. Only two abbreviations - both common, no urban dictionary words, no green paint, and I’ll wait on @Z but the PPP felt tiny.

    Other than being a bit easy for a Saturday, this was all a puzzle should be.

    Nancy 9:32 AM  

    @Petsounds (8:32) -- Amen, amen to your colorful skewering of "dopey online" dictionaries that accept just about any new coinages. My feeling about that is: to consult an online dictionary instead of your dead tree Webster's for word legitimacy is like asking "Web Doctor" instead of your own doctor for a diagnosis of your symptoms.

    @GILL -- BUTLER was my favorite answer in the puzzle also. The funniest BUTLER scene I've ever seen is from the movie "Murder by Death" -- featuring the scene between the deaf cook and the blind BUTLER, played by, of all people, Sir John Gielgud. (Or was it the blind cook and the deaf BUTLER?) If I can find it on YouTube I'll provide the link in my next post. I guarantee you that HILARITY will ENSUE.

    QuasiMojo 9:32 AM  

    If anyone ever calls me "precious" I'll beat them over the head with my "alto sax" -- that said, I enjoyed this puzzle, even if one across I misread as Assange. I am sick of Fad Diets but like death and taxes, they're here to stay. Was hoping the answer to 56 Across was "Tedious."

    Seeing Nepali next to Guide was an extra goody.

    Which Aga Khan is buried in Aswan? The one who married Rita Hayworth?

    That reminds me of the time someone told me she was researching an article on "the Otto Kahn." I really was, like @Nancy, at my "wit's end" after hearing that.

    Thanks for a solid Saturday. Love ya "babe."

    Anonymous 9:40 AM  

    Agree with others, "entwist" is a made-up word. Entwine? Sure. Not a great Saturday.

    kitshef 9:47 AM  

    @Nancy - deaf cook (played by Nancy Walker), blind butler (played by Alec Guinness). Love that movie. Also has David Niven, Maggie Smith, Peter Falk, Truman Capote, Peter Sellers ... sure I'm missing some.

    Perhaps you are confusing the butler in Murder by Death with the butler in Arthur, who was played by Sir John?

    @Petsounds - I have a small set of dictionaries acquired over the years through purchase and inheritance. All but one (an abridged dictionary printed as a giveaway by a telecom) list ENTWIST.

    Nancy 9:48 AM  

    As promised: the [HILARITY ENSUES] BUTLER scene

    RooMonster 9:52 AM  

    Hey All !
    Rex, "only two (2) TWO! answers more than 7 letters long." *Buzz!* There are four (4), the two long-uns, and the two 8's, PRECIOUS and FADDIETS. Just sayin'.

    Anyway, this puz had me ducking the various punches it was throwing at me. Really really wanted to start cheating, but stuck to my gumption and kept on keeping on. Little by little, the squares started to fill, with a few hail Marys that got hashed out as I continued solving. Got it all done, and finished error free! Woop Woop!

    And in 29 minutes. I think I'm getting better at puzs. Maybe...

    I like open corners, so this one tickled my fancy. My nit is that dang single block in NW/SE mucking up the openness. And it gives you 8 threes. Ouch.

    ASsAN before ASWAN. Is that even a place? carESSE-FINESSE, INStepS-INSOLES, mAkEIT-NAMEIT. Must've been easy. :-)

    Good clues, nice fill, a pleasant SatPuz.


    Merriram Webster 9:53 AM  

    @Nancy - Do you think we have separate online and dead tree dictionaries? Our free online version is abridged, but trust us, we have one and only one root source for both versions. Please don't blame us, in particular, or the web in general for uninformed browsing.

    Facts Scmhacts 9:57 AM  

    A Sharif is a descendant of Muhammad. He may or may not be a magistrate, but Muslim magistrates are Cadis, not Sharifs. Pretty much the same for Sharifas, but they're women.

    Anonymous 9:57 AM  

    @SouthSideJohnny - it is the "will" in "willing" - the document that tells how many millions you will leave to your progeny.

    oopsydeb 9:59 AM  

    For 14D, I had E_T___T and had a moment thinking, please tell me you did not use ENTWIST ffs. What an ugly word that no one uses. Then I realized that for it to be entwist, 21A would have to end in TW. Assuming that meant ENTWIST was not happening, I moved to another corner of the puzzle with some relief. Oh well...

    I somehow never saw Ferris Beuller's day off, so SLOANE was tough for me. Now if they had clued it, "Oopsydeb's college roommate who dropped out when she found out she was pregnant and then ran off with the baby's priest daddy," well, that I would have gotten easily. (Note: My understanding is they are still together 30+ years later.)

    puzzlehoarder 10:08 AM  

    The top tier of this puzzle put up some Saturday level of resistance. Mostly that was due to the NE. Once I cracked the NW the rest of the puzzle went down in Monday time.

    That initial confusion was enough to make this feel like a late week solve. There was some satisfaction to be had but as the Beatles would say I did not want to ENTWIST and ENSHOUT.

    Teedmn 10:15 AM  

    My Junior Woodchucks Compendium of Knowledge (or so the person who gifted me with an enormous Webster's Unabridged called it) has entwist, with a variant spelling of "intwist". It could have been worse, folks!

    Katzzz 10:16 AM  

    Subject in a deceased person’s will.

    xyz 10:17 AM  

    Pro golfers do make far more pars than anything else. Rex, now you sound like Malcolm Gladwell (that's not a compliment - most biased English language writer alive) almost any Xwordpro knows that.

    This was fairly easy, but I almost always need a help on a Saturday still, but got over 3/4 of it on my own.

    GOODY is fugly, had problems with it crossing FADDIET and HILARITYENSUES.
    Should have known by now SEEP was in 40D, duh.

    ASWAN like the dam (Lake Nasser) that caused the Abu Simbel Temples to be moved, I remember this from NatGEoMag when I was a kid

    Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:22 AM  

    I put in Tba for Calendar abbreviation. Inspired I think by 'turn of the tablES' for what should have been HILARITY ENSUES.

    Nancy 10:25 AM  

    Dear, dear, Merriam Webster (9:53): Please understand that I was not casting aspersions on your online version. Heaven forfend. I was thinking of all those online wannabees that are not Merriam Webster and all the present-day word-looker-uppers who don't know the difference.

    It's similar to: if I go online to look up symptoms -- which I know I should never do but I do sometimes do like everyone else -- I don't go to Web Doctor, Google's first listed site always, but not my choice. I type in "Mayo Clinic" or "JAMA" or Harvard Medical Journal" or "Center of Disease Control" -- usually more than one of them. One can use online sources for anything, but you can't let Google make those decisions for you.

    @kitshef (9:47)-- Proof positive of my fuzzy memory -- that I wasn't 100% sure of which one was blind and which one was deaf. (I was 95% sure that the BUTLER was the blind one, but didn't want to stick my neck out.) As for confusing "Arthur" with "Murder by Death," I never would. Sir John was superb in both. But then Sir John is always superb. People can have their Olivier; I'll take Gielgud any day.

    mmorgan 10:32 AM  

    Rex’s point about the four quadrant grid is well taken, but I enjoyed this a lot — gettable crunch throughout for me.

    Kathy 10:34 AM  

    Whoo hoo! Big day for me!! I finished the Saturday with no help for the first time! Granted, it took me just over two hours, but in my first year of solving I’m not yet worrying about the time. I am sure the veterans will deem this one easy for a Saturday.

    I loved the density, long words and the plethora of misdirects, it was two hours of pure enjoyment!

    I, to, had entwine instead of ENTWIST
    Loved PASSED ON/GENETIC(!) cross.
    I, too, was looking for a bag to complete GOODY

    Major tussle in northwest in general until the peculiar APELIKE emerged.
    One more letter, one more letter....
    Guessed at EDDA/LEA and, to my shock, “Congratulations!”

    Kathy 10:38 AM  

    Correction: In my unbridled glee, I meant to say I liked the PASSED ON /SKIPPED cross

    albatross shell 10:39 AM  

    Saw Arlo Guthrie a couple days ago. Fifty-fourth anninversary of the world's most famous littering ticket coming up. Fiftieth for the movie. I parked at a parking garage. Came back and the auto-pay machine was not working , no attendant on duty, and the gate was open. I drove off. Not wanting to get a fine, I called the next day and found out that if there is no attendant the parking is free. Damn, ya gotta love central PA.

    Favorite clue was for FIRMEST. HILARITY ENSUES is a well-used review trope. It is not green paint. BEELINE is a fine answer. APELIKE not that good. ENTWIST is rarely used, but do you not expect an obscure word on a Saturday? Nice that it is obscure but not un-deducible.

    The 4 isolated corners is not that rare on Saturdays. Sometimes they fulfill OFL's expectations, sometimes they are pretty good. MHO is this was the latter.

    Anonymous 10:48 AM  

    How do you mark a bee with chalk?

    Joe Dipinto 10:54 AM  

    What did they do with rest of John Entwistle?

    This was much easier than it looked from a first perusal of the clues. Does anyone call a jazz group a "combo" these days? That's like from the 1940s-50s. I liked WIT'S END and HILARITY ENSUES. The ensuence of hilarity is always prompted by zaniness, so the puzzle got that right. Nice job all around I would say, Trenton. Just put John Entwistle back together.

    As regards BUTLERs, here's *my* favorite movie scene.

    And here's a Saturday goody bag.

    jberg 10:59 AM  

    @Nancy—I could be wrong but I think it comes from “shire reeve.” I’ll look it up when I get home.

    I got pretty far with ENTWIne— it helped me change rats to MICE, for example—that was probably my biggest holdup. But hey, its Saturday, so fair enough. The puzzle was easier than it looked, but I enjoyed it.

    jberg 11:01 AM  

    @Teedmn— HILARITY ENSUES is something @Rex says a lot, too. Maybe he’ll quit now.

    jberg 11:03 AM  

    @Southside—ESTATES are the subjects of wills, as in inheritance.

    Malsdemare 11:06 AM  

    What @Lewis said. I worked hard to get this and felt pretty good, what with AQUAMAN, SLOANE, OUTKAST, and the Borat clue. So sue me; I'm easily entertained. HILARITY ENSUED seemed to be a poke at Rex's "wackiness ensured" or am I imagining that. I wanted some war movie for Battle of the. . . . so SEXES took a while. And I liked the clue for CLIPART. SHARIFS took a while as did SASHIMI (I'm not an adventurous eater.) Giggled at Fruitarianism. So Thanks, Mr. Charlson. Nice romp on a day of freezing rain.

    Now I'll see what others have to say.

    jberg 11:10 AM  

    ASWAN fooled me—I always think of it as under water I think the dam did flood out a couple of pyramids, but I guess it wasn’t the whole city. I was ready to go with ASsAm, but was saved by the crosses. I think the playboy was The Aga’s son, but I guess he may have inherited the title later.

    Unlike Rex, I enjoyed lots of the sevens, but de gustibus non est disputandum, as they used to say.

    Amelia 11:11 AM  

    I'm with Rex on the Silent Letter clue. Enough already. (Silent o, g, h with f sound instead.) But I don't think I'm woke enough to be for the apes.

    And like Rex, I stared at this puzzle for a good three minutes thinking I would never get in, and then barreled my way through it starting in the southeast which was fairly easy. I am VERY proud that I got parking garages with just one letter, one of the "g's."

    I thought it was a terrific, slightly too easy puzzle for a Saturday. AND BY TOO EASY, I MEAN THE GODDAMN QUESTION MARKS. Why? One of them doesn't even make sense. Why did we need a question mark for USUAL SUSPECT. Why? Why does the NY Times have to dumb down a Saturday puzzle? Let me figure out LOW BUDGET PICTURES. Let me figure out BOILING POINT. Save the question marks for Monday and Tuesday.

    It would be nice if the constructor could tell us if he agrees.

    I liked hilarity ensues. Although once you get the hilarity....

    JFC 11:11 AM  

    BEELINE has been a term for a straight path for a long long time. I’ve seen a bee fly straight.

    Another term for the same concept that has fallen into disuse is AIRLINE. Of course now it’s associated with commercial aviation transport, but before that it was often used by freight railroads to advertise shorter routes between two points. These newer routes went through topographic obstacles rather than around them, which cut the time between two commercial points.

    jae 11:12 AM  

    Easy-medium. @Gill - me too for LAB rats before MICE. My excuse is that I ran hooded rats through a maze for my undergrad honors project, so that’s the first thing that came to mind. I also spelled SASHIMI wrong at first which made HILARITY had to see.

    Solid but a tad meh. The NE was the most interesting. Liked it.

    John Hoffman 11:23 AM  

    Way too hard for me! I didn’t get far.

    Arden 11:25 AM  

    I liked this puzzle a lot. Just enough crunch. Although I got it right, I didn’t care for the word entwist , which I don’t think is a word and neither does my spellchecker.

    Birchbark 11:33 AM  

    @Teedmn (9:17) -- So true about about portaging around trees, etc., and all the unnoticed turns that misdirect us. It happened to us in the Quetico Provincial Park years ago. After slogging forever we reached the lake, renamed it Eden, and camped. Turns out it was the wrong lake, as we learned the next morning. Only time in my life that the sun rose in the West.

    Malsdemare 11:42 AM  

    Just me musing, but . . . I don't think of spellchecker as a legitimate arbiter of correctness. I edit books (freelance) and Word's spellcheck continually underlines words in red that are actually correct. It’s especially egregious with hyphenated vs closed terms. I use M-W, dead trees version and online. And sometimes Oxford. Just sayin' ....

    Anonymous 11:42 AM  

    Had labrats for labmice. That killed me.

    Z 11:51 AM  

    @Teedmn - Have you considered that maybe you’re just a better solver now?
    However, I think your citation slipped a “generally” past you unnoticed. I-75 “generally” runs north-south, but you still take it West out of Miami and southwest out of Sault Ste. Marie. BEE flight might sometimes be “generally” in a straight LINE in the same way.

    @Kathy - W00T W00T!

    @Nancy - The anti-vaxx movement resulted from a since retracted and debunked study in the Lancet. So much for relying on a source’s authority. And let me suggest never agreeing with a claim with no reference made here is a good policy. It took me all of 7 seconds to find two sources citing similar original usages to confirm that the “online dictionary” thing was just a rant with no basis in reality this time, right there with Rex’s “principled” stance against the Urban Dictionary.

    And let me be quite specific, ENTWIST is a horrid entry, just not for the “not a word” claim many are using. What’s the difference between TWIST and ENTWIST? Other than two letters useful to the constructor, not much. Pretty much the same can be said of “twine” and “entwine,” too, but “entwine” has maintained some currency for whatever reason, whereas ENTWIST probably would have gotten no complaint if there had been an “archaic” added to the clue.

    @jberg - Since HILARITY ENSUES seems to have been his favorite entry I doubt he’ll stop using it. Is it one of those phrases that is only used when the writer/speaker means exactly the opposite. Seems like it to me.

    Regarding SHARIF, I think the clue is using the first definition listed. I sometimes think Shortz writes clues like this to intentionally irk the most well informed. If your only SHARIF is Omar you probably don’t blink an eye at the clue. But if you know more than most about Muslim history that “magistrate” is just wiggly enough to get the arched eyebrow. (BTW - I’m team Omar - I was all set to join the plaint after doing a little SHARIF research when it occurred to me to look at the clue again).

    CDilly52 11:53 AM  

    @solverinserbia, I agree, and was puzzled the other day at the NO BET discussion. While “check” is used (or a “knock” on the table), occasionally someone might say NO BET. Probably not in competitive play, but it probably happens elsewhere than my family’s table where we have the annual Thanksgiving poker tournament with the grand prize being the last slice of pie on Friday. Also, NO BET is the definition of the meaning of “check,” ergo how can it not be a “thing.” Multi-word portmanteaus and other multi-word theme answers are “definitions” more than Roget-worthy “synonyms.” I don’t get the issue with NO BET last week. And I think this dead horse is probably truly dead now.

    Phil 11:55 AM  

    very fast for me. Probably from almost no PP, one crossable rap reference.

    But help me on a few points. Please explain Boiling point? as a play on words of WITSEND.

    CDilly52 11:56 AM  

    @mathsadist, no kidding. ENTWIST was my single big cringe today in an otherwise fine Saturday offering. Even now, my autocorrect tells me it is not a “thing” with its snotty red line!

    Anonymous 12:01 PM  

    Or if you speak Arabic.

    Z 12:03 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    CDilly52 12:07 PM  

    What a workout! A three cups-o-coffee battle with some great new tidbits learned (SHARIFS and ESSENES and that OUTKAST is not only a well known rap artist but a 6 Grammy winner). ‘‘Twas the NE that nearly slew me, but a REST, some more coffee, and AQUAMAN came to my rescue speaking NEPALI and kept me from being a DNF OUTKAST! Whew!! No SILENT W there.

    Z 12:10 PM  

    There was a mention/question about PPP. I counted 17 of 62 for 27%. That’s the low end of typical (based on when I’ve counted, which I don’t always do). 17 is very low, but with such a low word count it’s a fairly typical percentage of the puzzle. Anything in the high 20’s to low 30’s is typical..

    PPP is Pop Culture, Product Names and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of the puzzle clues and answers. 33% and above will cause at least some solvers problems.

    (edited my original when I realized I didn’t write what I meant)

    What? 12:17 PM  

    Butler was played by Alec Guinness

    Anonymoose 12:22 PM  

    FWIW--ENTWIST is in my 2001 Webster's II New College Dictionary. Doesn't mean it's pretty..

    @FactsSchmacts, Muslims let women be magistrates?

    @Amelia, I totally agree about the GD ???????. One of my PPP*

    *Pet Puzzle Peeves

    C zar 12:23 PM  

    SACS and GOODY aside, I think HILARITY ENSUES is about my favorite fill of all time.


    nyc_lo 12:30 PM  

    Another thumbs-down for ENTWIST. And the clue for NAMEIT seemed off. “Your call” generally means “up to you,” “you decide,” etc. But NAMEIT should be clued as something like “anything you say,” “whatever you need,” etc.

    GILL I. 12:31 PM  

    @Nancy.....YES! "Murder by Death." HILARITY did ENSUE. I remember laughing hard throughout the movie. Damn....I love slap stick. Of course you got me thinking of other BUTLER scenes and the one I remember the most was Hank Azaria's role as Agador Spartacus in "The Bird Cage." He was the BUTLER but he may have called himself the man servant. That movie was one of the funniest I HAVE EVER watched. As a matter of fact, I'm going to search Hulu and see if I can watch again...It never gets old!
    @Kathy.....Way to go, girl. As they say en mi pais...en hora buena..
    I have a very old and used Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary and guess what? Right there in black and white is ENTWIST.....

    Nancy 12:33 PM  

    Duh!!!! Right you are, @What (12:17. Quelle idiot I am.

    Richardf8 12:37 PM  

    I enjoyed the AQUINAS and AQUAMAN cross more than I should have, and wasn’t it nice that for once RAPHAEL is not a Ninja Turtle, but rather the Artist for whom said Turtle was named. Maybe someone will clue it a Name that means God who heals someday.

    AQUINAS and EDDA made me grateful for my medieval specialty.

    Agree with Rex on BEELINE. Not equivalent to straightaway at all. And willing subjects for ESTATES? I need that explained. Oh never mind, I just got it, only 13 hours after finishing the puzzle.

    CDilly52 12:48 PM  

    To mark a bee with chalk, one uses a small bulb with chalk dust. Learned this trick from “bee stalking” with my very rural Great Uncle Jess in southern Ohio one summer. Actually, I have no idea what the dusty substance Uncle Jess used was, but the day we spent finding that hive was glorious. I learned so much about bees and farms and living on the land, and about the heart of a dear, quiet but reclusive man who never mingled with the rest of the family for holidays up in Columbus (I doubt his ancient Ford pickup would have made it farther than the half hour trip into the “big town” of Hamilton), but who welcomed us when we would check in on him.

    Hack mechanic 12:48 PM  

    Very carefully

    Potato Chimps 12:54 PM  

    This was fun. Current references and answers, some quirky cluing and a different grid. Not every puzzle can follow the same pattern, and I had a bit of trouble breaking into this one, but once I did it rolled well. A very fulfilling Saturday puzzle.

    gilly 12:59 PM  

    Found it quite (enjoyably) challenging--a welcome follow-up to yesterday's enjoyable-but-easy solve. Good work.

    Was pleased to come across the Poe quote. I'm a sucker for quote clues--wish every puzzle had one. They're nice takeaways/remembrances, and I wish constructors would employ them more regularly (even as fill-in-the-blank clues--though I prefer answers-as-attributions).

    Carola 1:19 PM  

    This one made me work. Loved it all, from the interesting-looking grid, through the gradual square-by-square accretion of "That's it!" moments, to the final A of ASWAN x ASSUAGES. I don't mind segmented late-week grids: part of the Saturday Experience.
    Do-overs: me, too, for LABratS; also the dunce-CAP "SHARIaS" before SHARIFS.
    No idea: OUTKAST, SLOANE.

    Lon 1:26 PM  

    This is a perfectly fine puzzle. Who cares about grid shape? And your criticisms now just seem intended to malign Will Shortz day after day. If you hate the NYT puzzle so much, stop doing it. BTW: I do lots of other puzzles that you refer to often, and I find them mostly equivalent to the NYT. I'm liberal, but your PC sensibility is tiresome. Obviously, I do read your blog most days, but really only to see if you like one and if I can tell the difference.

    Mr. Cheese 1:32 PM  

    I had DOUBLEU before SILENTW. Mine is better!

    Frantic Sloth 2:01 PM  

    I have to agree with Rex on most of his complaints - the SAC/moist repugnance especially. (LOL) What IS it with those words??
    Also, ENTWIST sounds like the bastard offspring from "entwine" and "twist" hooking up in some lexiconic back alley. That's just a dumpster baby waiting to happen and probably should have.
    Bedeviled by the NE corner until I changed LABrats to LABMICE, though it seems to me that my answer is the more common.

    Frantic Sloth 2:10 PM  

    @Anonymous 10:48am

    You made me literally LOL!

    Doc John 2:12 PM  

    To the commenter asking about the relationship between the word "sheriff" and SHARIF. The word "sheriff" is derived from "shire reeve," an English term.

    And Rex, there are 4 entries over 7 letters long, not 2.
    Finally, Rex, you might want to check the spelling of "knew" in your first sentence of today's write-up. :)

    Anonymous 2:23 PM  

    I agree that ENTWIST (whether its in the dictionary or not) is horrible. Found both clues for "term of endearment" offputting to say the least. PRECIOUS makes me think of Gollum in Lord of the Rings, and if anyone called their loved one BABE where I come from, it would earn a broken nose. Had the "B" and for the longest time refused to fill in the rest, thinking "It's 2019 for Heaven's sake! Please, pleeease don't let it be BABE." It was, and just left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the puzzle.

    Anonymous 2:27 PM  

    “Hilarity ensues” seems pretty common to me. I often encounter it when seeing descriptions of sitcoms. For example, “Fan favorite Chris Williams made an appearance on the Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9 premiere, reprising his role as Krazee-Eyez Killa. This time around, Williams' gangster rapper character has converted to Judaism with the hopes of breaking into the lucrative Jewish rap market. Hilarity ensues. “

    kitshef 3:25 PM  

    "So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle gently entwist".

    W. Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

    Cliff 4:08 PM  

    I, for one, would miss Rex's "meandering linguistic disquisitions" were the NYT crossword puzzle quality to improve. I love the parsing of English idioms ... like subpar and beeline! I am married to a Korean lady for whom English is a second language. And though her English is very good (having majored in English at her University and obtained her MA in the U.S. and is a professional English-to-Korean book translator), I still find myself explaining idioms a lot ... which is often the first time in my life I've ever thought about some of them. And we have a boatload of strange idioms!

    albatross shell 4:09 PM  

    Aahh, Shakespeare immunity.

    To those who are ensickened by ENTWIST, try encutting enpasting this:

    (One of these days I going to try Z's directions for making a proper blue link here) You will be hypochondriacs in no time. You will also learn the connected history of -in and -en an such wonders as enlead, enmagazine, ensucket (to sweeten) and enstomach (to encourage). Plus this fabulous phrase: one senseless lump ...enswallow'd in his own black blacke bloudy gore. Spenser, FQ.

    Amelia 4:39 PM  

    I wrote the question about question marks on the Times blog and look: I got the answer from the boss!

    @AR Here’s the rule: A clue that is literally true does not get a question mark. However, a clue that is *not* literally true, or that stretches language too much, does get a question mark, out of fairness to solvers. —Will Shortz

    I still don't agree! But whatever.

    Birchbark 4:57 PM  

    @kitshef (3:25), @albatross shell (4:09) -- Bravo to you both. Wonderful references.

    If you wondered about the Bard's "woodbine and honeysuckle" and don't trust what you read on the internet, here is what my copy of Wm. Turner, "The names of Herbes" (1548) says: "Periclymenum is called of the herbaries and poticaries Caprifolium and Matrisylua, in english wod bynde and Honysuccles, in duch walt gylge, in fr√ęch Cheure feulle. Wodbyne, is commune in euery wodde." [All spellings as they appear in my 1881 facsimile of the original, published for the English Dialect Society]. In this little reference, honeysuckle and woodbine "gently entwine" to the point of being synonyms.

    JC66 5:04 PM  

    @albatross shell

    If you email me, I can send you "simple" cut and paste steps to post URLs (and bold and italics.

    Z 5:59 PM  

    @albatross shell - OMG NOOOOOoooooooo...... Don’t you dare share this link with constructors. A little knowledge is a truly dangerous thing.

    Speaking of... Did anyone actually get that dance clue in the Saturday Stumper? Who knows that kind of thing? I did get it from the crosses, but even with one letter to go it was totally uninferable.

    pmdm 6:07 PM  

    Very late post, so not much to say.

    A Westchester Beeline bus runs down my block. It is a circular route (#32), so it runs in anything but a straight line.

    Anonymous 7:32 PM  

    You are always almost right. The quote is a little learning is a dangerous thing. It's almost always misquoted. I'm guessing you've heard it that way and are parrotiing it. Have you read any Pope? I know you smirk at Aquinas crossing Aquaman. I know you've brushed off Aquinas. What I don't know is who you think you are?

    Phil 7:40 PM  

    @Cliff You and your wife must watch Parasites. Korean film that won a Palm d’or this year.

    Ethan Taliesin 8:38 PM  

    HILARITYENSUES. I like that.

    My time would have been better sober >30min

    Back to booze and buds

    jae 8:58 PM  

    @Z - When I did get the dance it looked vaguely familiar, but I’m not sure if I’ve run across it in Xwords or from period dramas on TV?

    Monty Boy 12:38 AM  

    This one was challenging for me. Did not no many of the PPP's. I see I'm not the only one who was very clever and used DOUBLEU for 21A. OTOH, I seem to be the only one who decided that insanITYENSUES, which really messed up SW for me. I initially thought the pros would votefor, but alas, not so.

    albatross shell 2:29 AM  

    I expected this response from one or more people. I considered not posting for reason you mentioned. On the other hand I found it informative and entertaining and many of the words and quotes amusing. Because I was posting so late I thought most folks would not see it. And constructors were unlikely to use it anyway. My dad had the multivolume OED. It was fun to read random pages and a great reference. I only have the 2 volume edition with a magnifying glass. It's hard to deal with especially with old eyes. I seldom get it out anymore.
    I have found you can often get the full OED entry online by searching OED [word you want] definition. The link above actually came up by searching OED entwist definition.
    I am also sure you are aware that your response will likely increase the number of hits. I appreciate the humor in that.

    Mel 12:01 PM  

    I agree with Lewis. Great puzzle. Way to go, Trenton, keep up the good work! I especially like "CASTLES." Mel

    spacecraft 11:21 AM  

    CASTLES was my way in. The REST seemed foggy at best; yet after I got started it went surprisingly quickly. I'd have to say easy-medium for the end of the week.

    You know how I feel about 21 across et al, but by the time I got that far it kind of wrote itself in. Needless to say, the rap group was no help, but that too appeared via crosses.

    Doing the NE yielded --GARAGES, so I had a sort of free-PARKING moment, and the NW fell next. Jumped the gun with --ENding in the SE before seeing that wouldn't work. Corrected to --ENSUES and again the longball segued me into the SW with HILARITY. That was the hardest segment. Made a total guess on RAPHAEL, which helped LOTS.

    I liked this better than OFC, and think it deserves netter that to MAKEPAR. With the charming Mia Sara as SLOANE for DOD, I give this one a birdie.

    Burma Shave 2:27 PM  


    When SLOANE hits the SACS,
    more PRECIOUS than the REST,
    she'll say, "ISAIDSO", with rage,
    "IMANAGE LOTS of racks
    with the FIRMEST FINESSE,
    and BABE, I MAKE my ASSUAGE."


    rondo 2:43 PM  

    What happens when your LABrats turn into LABMICE? Well, IMANAGEd to MAKEPAR and finish the REST. Another OLE with no Sven. PRECIOUS yeah BABE SLOANE SKIPPED out with Ferris; how long ago was that? Where does the time go?

    @D,LIW - I posted an apology to you and all the REST of the good doctors last night. OFL can get me to my WITSEND.

    Nice puz divided into fourths. Spoiler alert: the BUTLER did it.

    leftcoaster 3:23 PM  

    Surprised by how easy and smooth-going this was--lots of good wordplay and fair PPP's. Then reality bit in the NW. Spent more time there than all of the rest put together.

    Considered CAIRO for 1D, city of Aga Khan's mausoleum. Didn't work. Finally cheated to get ASWAN. So its the name of the city as well as the damn. I'll be damned, and was. The rest of the corner filled itself in.

    The END.

    leftcoaster 4:08 PM  

    Dam... damned.

    Diana, LIW 4:14 PM  

    I rather enjoy it when I get flummoxed by a constructor's wordplay, like yesterday's puzzle. When unknown names (to me) of rap groups or celebs do me in - not so much. I mean, I only know what I know, fact/name speaking.

    However, I was pretty happy with the amount of stuff I did get with this puzzle. One of those that I first simply stared at. HILARITYENSUES indeed.

    @Rondo - we're both right. Aspirations (for honors) can lead us to try our best, as can learning for its own sake. And I agree with you about finding the end of one's wit at times with the comments of OFL. Makes me take a breath. OK - a deep breath. "Ommm" anyone? (Siting in meditative pose.) Most days I merely skim the daily rant for factual info only.

    Diana, LIW

    rainforest 4:47 PM  

    I found the NW - SE diagonal areas the easiest half of this puzzle, not that they were easy, but that they put up less fight than the other half of the puzzle. There was lots of scope for decent fill which is mostly what was present here.

    If there were "keys" to the solve, they would have been CASTLES and RAPHAEL both of which appeared at needed moments.

    I realize that Borat was supposed to be SATIRE, but it was the thinnest of satires covered in globules of slapstick farce, IMHO.
    But this puzzle, I liked.

    strayling 7:00 PM  

    This was a good challenge. The BEELINE discussion reminded me of just how fast and straight bees really do fly when they're headed home. You don't see them unless you're watching, but if you're out walking and hear a zip going right by your ear together with a speedy dot in your vision it's likely as not a bee going off shift.

    Ha, I just noticed that FIRMEST is an embeddogram of ME FIRST.

    leftcoaster 7:50 PM  

    @strayling -- Neat catch.

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