Cornstarch brand since 1892 / SAT 11-16-19 / 2016 election meddlers / International marque whose logo is pair of calipers / Relatives of chalcedonies / Basketball's jab step others / Old RCA product

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Constructor: Daniel Larsen

Relative difficulty: Medium (7:34)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: OBELI (51D: Division signs) —
npl -li (-ˌlaɪ)
1. (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) a mark (— or ÷) used in editions of ancient documentsto indicate spurious words or passages
2. (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) another name for dagger2
[C14: via Late Latin from Greek obelos spit] (thefreedictionary)
• • •

Some good stuff here, but some off-brand phrasings and junky fill (BITSY?) made this a mixed bag. Very mixed. Not a HOT MESS. More a SHRUG. Actually probably more high and low than SHRUG suggests, but it all averages out to somewhere around "SHRUG." Definitely not HOORAY. I had two main problems, the first being that there were too many answers that made me go "OK ... I *guess* that's valid, but ..." This started with BREAKS OUT IN SONG, which is definitely valid, but which feels (to me) like second-place to BREAKS INTO SONG. The idiom is "break into song." Of course you can break out in song, but there's just a mild off-ness to me. Had same experience wanting RUSSIAN HACKERS and getting RUSSIAN TROLLS, which, yes, real, but just didn't feel great. Didn't sound great coming off the bat. Like, I hit the baseball and put it in play but I did Not hit it square and Ouch, my hands hurt. This bad feeling repeated itself at TEN-FOURS (we can pluralize this?) and was at its worst with NO BET, which sounds like one of those dumb bridge phrases (NO BID? Is that a thing?). I know precisely what "check" means in poker, but I would not have thought to have expressed that meaning with the iffy phrase NO BET. So on the one hand I just wasn't on this puzzle's wavelength and on the other some of these answers weren't good.

Far and away the roughest part for me was the middle bottom. Couldn't get TROLLS, as I said. Had IRAN as the date exporter instead of OMAN (52A: Its chief agricultural export is dates). Ugh, NO BET is down there too. I think of "LUST for Life" as a title (of a movie! of a song!) and not just a phrase that you can serve up all unquoted and uncapitalized. STAGER, yeesh. Thought [Part of a Cinderella story] was a SHOE. Mostly forgot the word OBELI. So yeah, right across the bottom of the grid was a train wreck. Elsewhere, though, there wasn't much to give me grief. Had -ATH and still no idea what 8D: Jets might be found in this was after (it's BATH, a fine answer). And somehow I couldn't see MAILS either (29A: Puts in a box, say).  And I started with a TOTE bag instead of a SWAG bag (4D: ___ bag). Annnnnd I thought the [Cornstarch brand since 1892] was SAGO—that was a weird one. SAGO is definitely a starch, but it's got nothing to do with corn. I think I was conflating it with CARO ... is that a thing??? Whoops, no, it's KARO, the corn *syrup*, that I was thinking of. Anyway, aren't olde tyme brand names fun. I mean, it's not like there are other, more interesting ways to clue ARGO, are there? ... ... ... nope. Just cornstarch. Cool. SHRUG.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:24 AM  

Medium. Solid with a couple of nice long downs, liked it.

I think “Lust for Life” was a movie about Van Gogh, but I’m too lazy to look it up?

puzzlehoarder 12:44 AM  

This was an easy Saturday. It went down almost four minutes faster than yesterday's solve. Whenever I see grid spanners I see an easy solve and this was no exception.

The short answers are what I expect to be the weak points but today it was just the spanners themselves. It was hit or miss guessing the downs in the NW until I saw OY next to ROO. With those two answers in place I first guessed 15A just off the Y and the O. Now I know 4D is SWAG instead of TOTE and 3D is NEEDTO not HAVETO. Any section of a puzzle with TTOP in it should be Monday easy and the NW was.

That whole garbled looking middle section solved like a Wednesday. My only write over was changing LYSEUM to LYCEUM.

The spanners in the south were just as accessible as the ones up north. I had no clue on OBELI or ASH and as far as I'm concerned DEN has nothing to do with a "hollow." Those three things put together didn't amount to a speed bump because the rest of the south was so user friendly.

A nice looking grid but a real softball.

chefwen 1:38 AM  

Whipped through that top third like nobody’s business and was off to a record breaking Saturday. It ended there. The rest was kind of a HOT MESS. RUSSIAN agents, walk ON, wanted something to do with hours for Old Faithful, and like Rex wanted Iran before OMAN. Know zip about basketball and had FoulS at 5D, that didn’t take as long to fix as all my other incorrect guesses.

Didn’t care for ATE DIRT at 65A, not sure what I would have used, maybe humbled. @Lewis will come up with the right word.

It took a team effort, but we finally got the job done.

Joaquin 2:22 AM  

Despite never having thought of the Acura logo as anything but a stylized “A”, and never having heard of the word for division signs (OBELI), I flew through this one. Wheelhouse City for me.

Brian 4:18 AM  

Thought it was a geographically well-balanced Saturday puzzle. None of the fill felt forced or arcane. If I can solve a Saturday under 30 minutes, it's a good day for me.

Solverinserbia 5:19 AM  

I liked this puzzle because I learned the word OBELI and I always wondered what those signs were called. BTW is one an obelus?

As a former poker pro, I think NOBET is valid. I would say that to check is not to bet. If someone said, what is a check, I think I'd spontaneously answer, "no bet."

Hungry Mother 5:47 AM  

I had a bit of a problem spelling ...REGULAR..., but the rest was fairly straightforward and easy. I tried not to monitor my caffeine intake, somewhat successfully and will not reveal it in a secret session. Old Faithful is awe-inspiring, especially viewed live.

Lewis 6:23 AM  

Well, 15-year-old Daniel, you made me sweat and thus you delivered a wash of satisfaction over me upon filling in the last square.

What I didn't know or was stymied by was fairly crossed, and my solve was punctuated by pops of "Oh...yes!" all over the grid, reminiscent of Wednesday's balloon-POP-rebus puzzle.

So this was a terrific solving experience for me. Thank you for that, and what a promising future you have in constructing, and we have in solving your puzzles.

Puff Daddy 6:49 AM  

The PGA is not an "Open" organization. It is limited to professionals and requires a card. The US Open is run by the USGA.

Lobster11 7:10 AM  

I liked this a lot. The four spanners are all solid (I actually prefer BREAKSOUTINSONG to "breaks into song") and the fill is surprisingly smooth for a puzzle with four spanners. A couple of answers made me wince a bit, such as STAGER and the plural TENFOURS, but there's nary an arcane proper name, foreign-language word, random Roman numeral, or other such annoying gluey bits.

JOHN X 7:19 AM  

The Thursday, Friday, and now Saturday puzzles this week have been way too easy. JOHN X needs a challenge in the morning; this was like beating up a little kid. To compensate I went out and chopped four extra cords of wood, did my usual daily 10K jog, and put it to the old lady twice all while reciting my multiplication tables backwards.

Feels good man.

Edit: Turns out this puzzle was made by a little kid. Now I feel bad for doing all those things, and doing them so well.

OffTheGrid 7:20 AM  

I interpreted TENFOURS (Rogers, 13D) as a verb, not a plural as Rex suggests.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

An Iggy Pop song

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

Felt way too easy. The acrosses were immediately apparent, at least to me. I sometimes wonder if Shorts dumbs down the late week puzzle to get new puzzlers engaged and not discouraged.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Shortz. Damn auto correct.

QuasiMojo 7:38 AM  

Easy is not a word I would use to describe this puzzle. I found it somewhat challenging. And well worth doing which is a plus since so many Puzzles of late have been too easy. Break out into song sounds more correct to me especially in the past tense broke out into song. My problem today was not knowing what chalcedony means. Lol. I thought it might be a clam. Plus I was sure that check in poker means I pass. I used to play poker all the time and I do recall people saying No Bet. Stager seemed an odd answer for impresario. I think they do a lot more behind the scenes as well. Likewise Trolls. The real meddling went beyond trolling. I had robots there at first. Favorite clue was Somehow. Wasnt there a rock song One Way or Another? Despite some huh? moments, this was an impressive crossword.

Jamie C 7:46 AM  

Can't believe Rex didn't take the opportunity to link Blondie's "One Way or Another." My day is ruined.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

Strictly speaking, an Iggy Pop and David Bowie song.

John H 8:23 AM  

Breaks OUT in song is definitely my preference. Either OUT or INTO works. So stop being so picky.

Also, anyone who cooks, or who's connected to someone who cooks, should be able to recognize the Argo brand (and its classic packaging) right off the bat. (Although the store brands are EXACTLY the same, and much less expensive. It is NOT old tyme, it is a current brand. Anyway, how can anyone confuse corn starch with corn syrup? If a 15 year old knows this, why doesn't Rex?

And of course there's another way to clue Argo. Jason, remember? It was his ship. That's why they called his crew Argonauts. Or was Rex just testing me?

Liked this a lot, including all the long answers except "homeless shelter." It's a perfectly fine answer. just made me a little sad.

Arden 8:32 AM  

Easy except Natick on den Doha cross

GILL I. 8:35 AM  

Nothing like reading @JOHN X to get my morning started.
@chefwen and I must've been drinking the same thing. ME TOO on whipping through the top, patting myself on the back and then coming to a screeching halt in the lower nethers.
Getting that part out of the way, I'll say I really liked the puzzle. The cluing (for lack of a better word) felt adult. Nothing cutesy. I even liked BITSY and WEE.
Gave some pause after RUSSIAN because it could've been anything. Do you suppose the TROLLS are laughing at us as we speak. I've made myself listen to the impeachment hearing even though they are tedious. I'm hoping I can make some sense out of this Seeing "Ronnie" in the grid made me smile. You can argue all you want about his politics but during his reign, I was proud to be an American. Remember him calling the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire?" and telling Gorbachev "tear down this wall!?" Ah.. the good old days....
One little non-smile....seeing HOMELESS SHELTER. A word we see here in Sacramento just about every day. You drive downtown and see these poor souls sleeping on the sidewalks. Breaks my heart. Our mayor is trying his best to get help but we have so many NIMBY's with mucho dinero calling the shots. SHRUG, indeed.
SHOUT OUT to ROO and learning a new word: OBELI. Oh bladi, oh blada. And I always thought it was Oh Bloody!

WillR 8:42 AM  

For the record, “By hook or by crook” fits perfectly in 15 across. Also for the record, confidently entering that answer at the beginning makes it take considerably longer to just “somehow” solve the puzzle. Still, very enjoyable.

burtonkd 8:43 AM  

Not about today’s puzzle meta-comment warning:

Just got around to yesterday’s puzzle, blog and comments and all were in rare form: Rex’s review was knowledgeable and tough, but fair and not mean-spirited, also it showed self-awareness in humorous form. I read a long Z post without once saying to myself "yeah, but...". Nancy, a very well-put response to the PC topic. I must say that while Rex also had a point that it is frequently used by the right to dismiss legitimate concerns, it has also gone on to become self-parodying. Only thing missing was a LMS anecdote - someone in WV please get her an ITGUY and more time in her schedule. Oh yes, I’ll make it a point to try ODDING, Joe, when things are just too too.

Bravo all around, now onto today

SouthsideJohnny 8:44 AM  

Today’s puzzle is a good example of one that is crisp, clean and not reliant on the usual cast of characters that gum up the works (PPP, random Roman numerals, dead popes, movie directors, foreign words and phrases . . . ). Much more enjoyable when the day is carried by witty wordplay instead of arcane trivia.

Only one real “garbage word” (OBELI) which is certainly within quota, so that is refreshing as well.

I think PGA just makes the cut as acceptable for “Open organization” as many of the tournaments it sponsors are in fact opens, i.e. some slots are open and allocated via qualification rounds (Hartford Open, Greater Greensboro Open, etc).

I believe BY HOOK OR BY CROOK also fits for 13A, lol.

Suzie Q 8:59 AM  

Funny bleed-over from this week. I wanted swag bag the other day before loot bag. Ledge appears again. Then there is a goblet not a grail. Strange when these things happen but some mornings I am easily amused.
I thought the clue for palm was devious.
I'm a little tired of T-tops. Do they still make them?
The code name for R.R. is some interesting history as is the calipers for Acura.
I don't know what ash has to do with that letter.
Crosswords have taught me that if an odd word ends in -ite it's an ore.
Decent Saturday from our young constructor.

@ JOHN X, I'll meet you at the woodpile.

mmorgan 9:01 AM  

Filled in RUSSIAN TROLLS without a single letter in place and said to myself, yep, I’m gonna like this a lot, and I did. A good workout and very satisfying. I can accept Rex’s critiques, but I had a swell old time with this.

Birchbark 9:04 AM  

Wanted "Academy" for LYCEUM, muddling the old Plato vs. Aristotle chestnut. Good thing it didn't fit. Guessing @Z had no difficulty there.

BREAKS INTO SONG (didn't fit) --> BREAKS INTO A SONG --> BREAKS OUT IN SONG. See Monty Python and the Holy Grail (yes, Grail)'s Rapunzel-like prince trapped in the tower: "But Father, I only want to sing!"

mmorgan 9:08 AM  

I love reading many of the regular commenters here, but @JOHN X... whoa, you deserve some sort of prize. Bravo. I’m afraid to imagine what you do off-blog.

mathgent 9:17 AM  

I learned HOTMESS from crosswords. Something worthless. I had guessed that it came from what a dog leaves on a sidewalk but a little research shows a less vulgar origin. Is that term in common use? I haven't heard it out here.

ATEDIRT brought to mind a similar image. The coarse version of that expression was used a lot on the playground when I was a kid. I don't think I've heard it since. The polite meaning of "eating dirt" is also something I know only from crosswords.

I just read that the ASH is a letter in some languages. I suppose that these languages have many words beginning with "a."

Not for nuttin, as my brother-in-law in Queens often says, but shouldn't the clue for 56A be "Part of THE Cinderella story"? "Cinderella story" now is used in the sports pages about an athlete's non-dancing accomplishments.

Teedmn 9:22 AM  

I was one of the "By Hook or by Crook" thinkers today but I didn't put it in, just went hunting for a cross to confirm. ANION, then SHOD, then BATH, then BARISTA confirmed that my first thought was wrong. By then, I had most of ANOTHER in place and 15A filled in nicely.

My mother hated musicals because just when the action got interesting someone BREAKS OUT IN ( "bursts into" is better in my opinion) SONG. Uh, that's the point, Mom. I didn't share her distaste.

DNF today - for me a Cinderella story involved the fALL and rise of someone. OfELI, OBELI, neither looks like a real word. BALL, of course, "the Prince is having a ball" as the crowd bursts into song, har.

Thanks, Daniel Larsen. This was a tad too easy for my Saturday taste, fall-BALL error notwithstanding, but it was fun.

Solverinserbia 9:22 AM  

While everything you said is right there were 9 tournaments on the PGA 18-19 schedule with Open in the name plus the US Open and Open Championships which the PGA doesn't run but are on its schedule. So it was a very valid clue imo.

Solverinserbia 9:23 AM  

HAHAHA, best comment I've read today.

kitshef 9:26 AM  

Wanted ATE CROW for 65A. What is it about crows? Crowed for pride. Ate crow for shame. Stone the crows for surprise.

Suzy 9:26 AM  

Great puzzle, Daniel! No junk, and now I know what obeli are, surely to come in handy some day. As usual, if Rex has a
hard time with a puzzle that’s not that difficult, he gives it a shrug and a pass, more than a little bratty. And i’m feeling kind of sorry
for the “old lady!”

Nancy 9:36 AM  

I found this remarkably easy for a Saturday -- either because it just was easy or because I'm on the same wavelength as the constructor. And the answer that I didn't really understand, OBELI at 51D, came in readily with the crosses.

"Lust for Life" should have had quotation marks. In ordinary parlance, when there's no Van Gogh movie involved, I think the more common expression is "He has a zest for life."

As for the long answers, most seemed pretty bland. The one exception was BREAKS OUT IN SONG, which I loved because it's something I do often. I'm not a performer, mind you, nor am I likely to ever be hired for a musical, but I do it anyway. I'll BREAK INTO SONG at the drop of a hat, actually, and I always try to keep a hat close at hand for that very purpose. What???? You're trying to snatch my hat away???? Shame on you!!!!

An okay puzzle that I didn't think had either a lot of challenge or a lot of pizzazz.

burtonkd 9:37 AM  

Hands up for racing through top and grinding to a halt at the bottom,
Did everyone but me know that AE is an ash? Sitting next to a new take on the "letter in the word is the answer" clue type, we have a nice Latin/Greek pairing. Would love to have an IONIAN sea clue to bridge them - maybe meet on an ISLA.
Had to look up DOHA, and don’t apologize for it.
I went a little too old on the RCA product with VICtrola. That turned tapped clue into INUSE, seems logical.
WOEs on chalcedonies, obeli, ash, Doha.
I think of an Impresario as more of a producer, with the director doing the actual staging, so refused to put it in even after thinking of it.

Z 9:44 AM  

OBELI was a “Well shit, I’ve seen it in crosswords before but I’ve forgotten it again” moment.

Anyone else see Reagan and Rawhide in the clue and immediately have The Dead Kennedys version playing in their heads? Just me? What were you doing in the ‘80’s?

@burtonkd - Sorry. I’ll work on adding some yeahbutts to my posts.

@John H - Rex has been known to be sarcastic. Besides Jason there’s also that movie that won three Academy Awards. I guess the corn starch brand (which I’m guessing Rex and just about everyone else has in their cupboard unless they have the cheap store brand instead) seemed more Saturdayish to the editor. I’m on team Rex in this one.

@Birchbark - I did wait to confirm with the crosses but LYCEUM was my first thought. On the other hand, I never have learned what MESSRS. is actually an abbreviation for. I guess I could look it up, but I don’t care enough to generate any more E-WASTE.

@Jamie C - Yep. My day wasn’t ruined only because I had the Dead Kennedys already playing.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

News update from yesterday -- @JC66 and #Joe Dipinto were right. There was a glitch on the Wordplay Blog yesterday. I got posted there just now with no problem. So I wasn't blackballed after all yesterday. I'm relieved. But do understand, everyone, that Wordplay does not now -- and for that matter never will -- replace all of you in my heart.*

*Will you listen to me now when I BREAK INTO SONG at the drop of a hat?

Hartley70 9:46 AM  

Wow, what a workout! I loved it. The top came quickly but then the minutes ticked by last night and again this morning while I struggled with chalcedony and Rawhide, who I was sure was a horse. I wanted ruler and palace not VICAR and PARISH, and PHenom kept getting in the way of PHASER. The long acrosses were fairly easy in comparison. My time was Sunday worthy, but this is just how I like my Saturdays to start!

kitshef 9:51 AM  

@Z - "MESSRS" short for "messieurs", plural of "monsieur".

That sonata rondo! 9:52 AM  

I do musicals for a living. People break into song all the time. I agree with Rex completely...BREAKOUTINSONG is probably used, but you are more likely to BREAKOUT with zits on your face or with some kind of rash than breaking out in song.

ONAREGULARBASIS is probably accurate for Old Faithful...which is of itself a way to describe a routine, predictable event...but that seems off too.

ONEWAYORANOTHER is a great song by Blondie.

Nice to see an actual, bona fide musical form today. RONDOs were a very popular form used in sonatas in the classical and romantic eras of music.

GUNSFOR, NEEDTO, NODTO, STEPON...weirdly similar, maybe too similar?

Instead of NOBET I wanted "I pass."

Z 9:53 AM  

@solverinserbia (and anyone else posting from the mobile version) - Only people using the mobile version of the comments see replies under the original comment. Everyone else just sees your compliment alone. If you want most readers to know which comment was the “best comment I’ve read today” you need to include the @attribution tag.

burtonkd 9:55 AM  

@Z - I should have just said I enjoyed your comments and left it that. Did a little work for you to assuage my conscience:
plural form of Monsieur.

Teedmn 10:02 AM  

And did anyone else consider a STOOL as a perch for a pigeon?

Lewis 10:02 AM  

@chefwen -- I also didn't think the clue and answer fit each other at 65A. [The opposite of crowed] implies somebody doing something, while ATEDIRT implies something having been done to someone (here, someone suffering humiliation).

Rube 10:13 AM  

I don't get 16D. I wrote in THE UKRAINIANS and proved it with 64a which is obviously FOXXNEWSNETWORK

Carola 10:18 AM  

Ode to the four-letter words that opened the puzzle up for me: SHOD, BATH, GERM, TTOP, BALL, OMAN,SIPS: HOORAY for you! Overall, a rather cushy Saturday but fun to solve. I liked OMAN abutting its date PALM tree and the cross of VICAR with its consonants.

Nampa Bob 10:24 AM  

Very easy Saturday.
I went with “no bet” because there wasn’t room for “something I rarely use anymore”
It’s interesting here, that quite a few of the local “mom and pop” establishments still take cash or checks, no plastic.

Rastaman Vibration 10:28 AM  

I don’t know about that @Lewis. In this instance it looks like @chefwen crowed and @Lewis ATE DIRT (all on his own, ha ha).

BarbieBarbie 10:30 AM  

The 65A clue was fine IMO. A little cognitive D since “ate crow” is also a thing, and fits the clue better, but is already in the clue, so....

I filled in the long ones easily, which made me feel smart, so it was a good puzzle.

xyz 10:31 AM  

Even faster than yesterday, pretty smooth solve for me for a Saturday

Big Nit for someone who actually knows Golf - 43D "Open Organization" PGA is sorta right (They have some tournaments with 'Open' in their name) but not really. In Golf the USGA and R&A (RANDA in X-word) hold the two 'OPENS', not the PGA

USGA American Opens for Men and Women
R&A The Open Championship - oldest golf tournament known in USA as 'British Open' (Hurts to type that)

Unknown 10:32 AM  

Yes. Van Gogh. Based on a book.

ccredux 10:36 AM  

I think using break out/ into might be regional. In South and Midwest break out is used? An open golf tournament means amateurs and pros can compete. TROLLS Is on my list of overused words, as are segue, transparency, iconic . Do you have some?
A nice puzzle!

GHarris 10:41 AM  

Thought the clever and more commonly used expression for the opposite of crowed would be ate crow. Would they allow the same word in both clue and answer?. I figured not, so erased and went on my way.

pabloinnh 10:46 AM  

Like many, flew through the top and trudged through the bottom, but mostly found it enjoyable, if a little easy.

Waiting for my hero JoeD. to post "Blue RONDO a la Turk".

Keep up the good work, DL. You may have a future in this.

Cheerio 10:50 AM  

I enjoyed this a lot. Crunchy Saturday morning.

RooMonster 10:52 AM  

Hey All !
Just to stir up controversy (if repeated, sorry, posting before reading y'all), do we know for a fact that RUSSIAN TROLLS hijacked the 2016 Election? Or is that this puzs IMO? Of course, Donald Jr. said facts don't matter, so...

Anyway, back to puz reality, HOORAY to me for completing puz in a scant 20 minutes with no errors! And I wasn't even trying for speed, which means puz gets an easy rating.

Main part that held me up, right to the end, matter of factly, was misreading 65A as Opposite of crowDed. Man, had DOHA in, took out the A, had RED in, took out the D, finally grokked STAGER and LUST, and still couldn't see how 65A was an opposite of crowDed. Put everything back in to have _TED_RT, and said, "If I put the A back in, it looks like ATE DIRT." Reread clue, and finally saw "crowed", and slapped myself. Put in the A and I and got the Happy Music!

Thought it a good puz. Funky grid design, nice words and clues, an overall WEE! good time. Plus it has a SHOUT OUT to me, ROO!


Malsdemare 10:53 AM  

I gave up on this half a dozen times. I kept poking and prodding, looking for a place to break in, peeking in windows, testing the locks. It took forever to find that first opening and I thought, "I'm in; now to ransack the place." But there were more locks and dead ends; I'd slide in, find a few choice pieces but never the real booty I was after. Thank god no one snuck up on me and locked me up, 'cuz I eventually hit the motherlode. Yay, me!

Great puzzle, exactly what I want on a Saturday. It is Saturday, isn't it? I mean really? Not the retiree's "every day is Saturday" Saturday?

Off to read Rex and y'all.

David Fabish 10:56 AM  

TTOP needs to be retired. No car maker has made a T-top in 30 years. That is all.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

bridge players don't say NO BID. they just 'pass'. they can, if they've got a really rare distribution, BID NO trump. oops!! no politics.

Cheerio 10:59 AM  

I don't know much about how people construct crosswords, but this puzzle seems so elegant. I like the long acrosses - they seem open and flowy - they make me want to break out in song, one way or another, on a regular basis. Homelessshelter doesn't fit that four word pattern, but its elegant in its own way. Three symmetric esses, near the bottom of the grid, but only the middle s ends a word. Nice. Not at all a hotmess, but it feels right to end the puzzle in a hotmess, with a fading hisssssss.

Tom 11:04 AM  

Or Linda Rhondstat’s version.

Kathy 11:09 AM  

I finished the entire top half but was pretty light on the rest so I had to call in my husband to feed me more clues while he looked at the answers. But that’s OK. For me, in my first year of doing NYT crosswords, getting that far on a Saturday was an achievement.

Wait, wipe that satisfied smirk off my face—the bloggers thought it was easy...pfft!

But addressing the concern of many that the late week puzzles are being dumbed down to attract new solvers—DON’T! I won’t be discouraged. I measure my progress in how far I get before I need help. As a new solver I want something to aspire to and the experts deserve to be sufficiently challenged. Without them, this blog wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining.

Although I didn’t come close to finishing, I enjoyed this puzzle and was doubly delighted when I heard that the constructor is 15 years old.

Bonus, @JOHN X is in the house

RavTom 11:12 AM  

@Anonymous 10:58: British bridge players often say “no bid.” Their “pass” can sound too much like their “hearts.”

bucktail 11:12 AM  

What the hell did "Ash" mean?

Alex M 11:13 AM  

Also a Lana Del Rey song and album.

U.N. Owen 11:13 AM  

I've always thought it was BREAKEN to Song.

BJD 11:23 AM  

The PGA (Professional Golfer’s Association) does not run any “open” tournaments. Pro events such as the Greensboro Open are run by the PGA Tour which is a totally separate organization.

TJS 12:10 PM  

This was created by a 15 year old ??? Yikes ! I enjoyed every minute of this one. @John X, another classic. @Kathy, for some reason, your solving method, with your husbands help, cracks me up. One suggestion, try leaving the puzzle alone for a while, even until the next day, and see if things suddenly pop into your head. I dont know if my mind is working on things without me knowing it or what, but it definitely can work. But it is nice that you have an "assistant" helping you out.

Nancy 12:15 PM  

@Hartley (9:46)-- Chuckled when I read that you thought "Rawhide" was Reagan's horse rather than his CODE NAME. Wish I could remember other Presidential CODE NAMES; they're all so colorful. Does anyone remember any recent ones? I suppose I could Google it but I probably won't.

@U.N. Owen (11:13) -- A little slap at LOUDEN from earlier in the week, yes?

@RavTom (11:12) -- Is that really true? If so, it's quite interesting. I started saying both words with a [phony pretend] Brit accent and I can sort of see it. Sort of.

Maddiegail 12:27 PM  

YES!!! And couldn't believe it wasn't correct.

Maddiegail 12:32 PM  

Good one!

Ed Rorie 12:32 PM  

The movie Lust for Life was based on the novel by Irving Stone.

Language Sleuth 12:48 PM  

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Æ - Wikipedia › wiki
Æ (minuscule: æ) is a grapheme named æsc or ash, formed from the letters a and e, originally a ligature representing the Latin diphthong ae. It has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese.

Kathy 12:49 PM  

@TJS. You are absolutely right about going back to puzzles with “fresh eyes” and that is exactly what I do with the archives. I always have a puzzle or two going in the archives for practice and I always find more words when I return!

I approach the daily puzzle differently, specifically because of the blog: Hubby reads me Rex’s difficulty rating, solve time (and excuses), I work on the puzzle for a while—usually at least an hour, then he feeds me clues until I’ve solved it, finally I read the blog comments, which is usually as fun as the puzzle. So, because I consider the daily puzzle and blog as an entertainment package, I don’t put the daily away for later.

As you can probably guess, we are just a couple of fairly new retirees enjoying all this free time—and not always knowing what day it is!

Fred Romagnolo 12:59 PM  

Thinking back to my days as a performer in musicals, I was looking for something akin to looking at the conductor (for tempi), but the constructor did a good job. I was looking for something like priest or pastor, but PHASER clued me in to VICAR. I wanted GEne for GERM, but MESSERS did the trick. Heaven be praised for a 15 year old who knows that a good crossword supplies a self-working satisfaction from logical crosses. No outrage from mentioning Reagan!

Mr. T 1:01 PM  

@David 10:56, The Pontiac Firebird and Chevy Camaro T-Tops were made as late as 2002, so 17 years, not 30. Also, buying a classic T-Top is still a sporty car option.

old timer 1:04 PM  

I was glad to see MESSRS @JohnX and @Burtonkd today, and saddened yet again not to see @LMS. We all miss you, dear!

MESSRS is indeed a formal way of referring (in writing) to a group of (presumed) men. A perfect Saturday clue. I found the puzzle quite easy for a Saturday, and worked methodically top to bottom, though not at high speed. Probably took 45 minutes, which is just what I want on Fris and Sats.

Writeovers: Man alive before ITS alive, and Nodat before NODAT. Mysteries: ASH for the AE ligature (does the OE ligature count too? Need to check it out in the OED). And where does HOWTMESS come from? Another job for the OED maybe.

Dirt is used in Britain for foeces, and I would think that is where ATEDIRT comes from.

Masked and Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Cruised smooothly thru the top half -- Cursed & ATE DIRT + many precious nanoseconds in the harder-than-snot bottom half. Suffered. Good for the M&A.
Kinda liked the GUN FOR HOT MESS mini-theme, tho.

Really nice selection of 15-longballs, and of weejects.
staff weeject picks: WEE, becuz it's apt, and ASH becuz of its dagger-to-the-nanoseconds clue.


Thanx for the top puzgrid half, young mister Larsen. M&A won't dwell further, on yer Farside bottom half. BITSY … har.

Masked & Anonym007Us

p.s. I'm sure with the @old timer … really missin the luvly @Muse darlin.

ode to an oldie/goodie NYTPuz:

chuck w 1:34 PM  

Long ago they had a bridge program on TV. I think Charles Goren was on it. Instead of "pass," they always said "No Bid."

Z 1:39 PM  

@burtonkd - I think yeahbutts are worthy achievements, much better than the Well Actually.

@Roo - The existence of RUSSIAN TROLLfarms is well established. Their use of Twitter and Facebook are well established, as well. Their actual impact on the election is a matter of some debate.

Didn't we have this PGA Open discussion before? This site is evidence enough that the clue is correct enough for crossword puzzles, I think.

@Kathy - That's "Easy for a Saturday." And don't let the commentariat get you down. Saturday puzzles for me have gone from "only finish after looking something up" to "can finish most of them without looking something up" to "can finish most of them in under an hour" to "can finish the easy ones in 15-20 minutes."

Saw this on Twitter which led to someone else looking up OBELI. 59 years of almost never running into OBELI and then twice in a matter of a couple of hours, which was too coincidental not to mention.

Joe Dipinto 1:50 PM  

@pablo is so demanding.

This was a shade or two less difficult than what I anticipate on Saturdays but it was pretty satisfying nonetheless. To my mind, a single character in a musical BREAKS INTO SONG – *but* – a group of characters that maybe haven't had much to do up to that point would BREAK OUT IN SONG. I don't know why I make that distinction, it just seems right to me.

I liked RUSSIAN TROLLS, SHOUT-OUT, E-WASTE, LYCEUM. For the Old Faithful clue I had RBASIS in place and couldn't get the first part for the longest. First I thought HOUR BY HOUR BASIS, which sounded stupid, then ONCE AN HOUR BASIS. Some fun Old Faithful trivia from Wikipedia:

Old Faithful is sometimes degraded by being made a laundry. Garments placed in the crater during quiescence are ejected thoroughly washed when the eruption takes place. Gen. Sheridan's men, in 1882, found that linen and cotton fabrics were uninjured by the action of the water, but woolen clothes were torn to shreds.

Today in Bubblegum Music History: On this date in 1966, the Top Ten included "HOORAY For Hazel" by Tommy Roe, but I won't post a link to it because I hate it. Wishing you all a happy Saturday. Don't get used as a doormat.

jberg 1:59 PM  

Me too for STOOL pigeon.

Anoa Bob 2:01 PM  

If you ATE DIRT (65A) you would be a geophagist and you might or might not have a case of pica.

Seeing as how I subscribe to the Aristotelian (vs Platonic) worldview, I say HOORAY for LYCEUM. Adds a touch of class to the grid, if you ask me.

So VICAR IOUS would be some obligations of a PARISH leader?

jberg 2:07 PM  

Almost DNF, but that going back later trick made me see PEROT, and I worked it all out from there, even OBELI.

This took too much of my day, gotta go now.

pabloinnh 2:40 PM  

Hey @JoeD.--thanks, again.

You're a brick.

Joe Dipinto 3:38 PM  

Hey Pablo you reminded me I should listen to the "In My Life" album. So that's what I'm doing. My LP has held up pretty well. :-)

Bill Hood 5:07 PM  

Still not understanding ASH for the clue the letter 1/4. What does the grapheme ae have to do with 1/4?

Chuck Chagrin 6:00 PM  

Strictly speaking an historical novel about Vincent Van Gogh (1956) by Irving Stone.

Z 7:41 PM  

@Bill Hood - whatever you are solving on must not be rendering Æ properly. The clue the rest of us are seeing is, “The letter Æ.” Wikipedia has an extensive article on The letter ASH

Joe Dipinto 8:09 PM  

ASH is the name of the science officer who turns out to be an android in the first "Alien" movie.

Hank 8:30 PM  

One of those chipping away at puzzles for me.

A fair amount of action -


Plus the noun/verbs -

I'm not sure if that's more than usual, but I guess it was given the absence of names (people, places, things).

JC66 8:46 PM  

My grandson's name is Sebastian; his nickname is ASH.

Bill Hood 10:25 PM  

Thank you Z, the 1/4 is what displayed on my iPad using the NYT app.

Monty Boy 10:33 PM  

I don't know OBELI for division. The horizontal line in a fraction is a vinculum , but that doesn't fit, so I learned a new math term.

I guess the puzzle was easy for me - a record time, under 35 minutes. Shows where I am on the speed curve, but I'm way up on the enjoyment curve.

Seeg 11:40 PM  

Very doable Saturday for me. Initially I thought I was stumped but I must have the same off-ness as the constructor because I quickly got it all ( except for obali and ash.

I enjoyed it it.

57Stratocaster 2:31 PM  

Sorry to brag, but this is the first Saturday ever that I was able to do the crossword and both kenkens in ink with no errors/writeovers and no notes.

spacecraft 12:13 PM  

"No bid" is Brit for "pass." Of course now, because two AMERICAN players were caught cheating in an international competition, we have "bidding boxes," and you don't even have to open your mouth. Reason #1 why I gave up bridge. Anyway, in poker--my new game--the word "check" is seldom actually spoken; rather a hand motion tapping the table. But whatever, it precisely means NOBET.

This puzzle gives a SHOUTOUT to my fellow Syndilander @RONDO; congrats. It started well for me in the north, go figure, less so as I descended. I'm amazed that OFC didn't go ballistic over EWASTE. OK, then I will. EWASTE sucks, bigtime. So do the clues for ARGO, ACURA and ASH. Even for a Saturday.

One small glitch had me writing deKES instead of FAKES, quickly fixed. In the end, it played out as about medium for the day, maybe a touch to the easy side. DOD is Lucille BALL, whose old Christmas special, now fully colorized, just ran last night on CBS. Honorable one-letter-off mention to BITtY Schram, who played Sharona to Shaloub's Monk. Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:35 PM  


"WEE cause UNREST FOR who pays us."


RONDO 1:00 PM  

ITS RONDO! I NEEDTO give a NODTO the SHOUTOUT, ONEWAYORANOTHER. IHOPENOT to STEPON anybody's toes. My CODENAME doesn't appear ONAREGULARBASIS. Also a NODTO either Maryam ORE Olivia d'ABO, yeah baby. No write-over today; kinda easy I must SAY, IMO.

rainforest 2:52 PM  

Lots of people at various times have talked about a "wheelhouse". Well, if I do indeed have a wheelhouse, this puzzle was in it. The phrase "hot knife through butter" comes to mind.

Despite the speed of the solve, I did enjoy many of the answers along the way. I thought all the long answers were great, although the plural TEN FOURS was iffy.

I started with --FOR at the end of 1A, then GOBLET, GUNS FOR, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, and despite the whiplash, just continued to tear this baby apart, the only slowdown coming at OBELI and STAGER. Everything just made sense to me. Wheelhouse? Yep. Fun? Oh yeah.

leftcoaster 3:57 PM  

Had to give myself a kick-start in the NE in order to hit the road to a solve. Took the fast and easy way out by look-up of TEN-FOURS to replace sign-offs, then off to the races.

Most helpful were the grid spanners in the North and South. OBELI was the far-out outlier.

Hearing a lot about problems of the homeless and HOMELESS SHELTERS these days. As the clue says, shelters are but "refuges, OF SORTS", and too many (most?) of the homeless are meagerly assisted or left out altogether. Very sad record for a rich country.


Diana, LIW 4:06 PM  

I was so excited to see RONDA show up again - long time, no see in the xworld.

But then I got stuck in that DEN. DEN? DOHA? Huh? The D was my guess, but I still don't get or know why. A perfect Saturday, ruined by a guessing game over a D. DEN? DEN? hollow?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting in the Hollar

Diana, LIW 6:17 PM  

um, that's RONDO!!!

and can anyone answer my DEN question????


strayling 7:20 PM  


A DEN in the sense of an animal's den in a hollow in the woods. That's how I justified it to myself, anyway.

Diana, LIW 8:46 PM  

Thanks, @Stray, I thought of that too, so it must be correct. But...

Lady Di

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