Island once called Serendip / SAT 11-30-19 / 1975 hit with classic saxophone solo / Alternative to Leyden Boerenkaas / Eponymous candy man / Funny Morgan / Bliblical starting material / Noted parliamentary measure of 1773 / Renowned London street in literature

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Constructor: Joe Deeney

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (?) (untimed)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Edward Thomas (6D: Trees that "at the crossroads talk together," in an Edward Thomas poem (ASPENS)) —
Philip Edward Thomas (3 March 1878 – 9 April 1917) was a British poet, essayist, and novelist. He is commonly considered a war poet, although few of his poems deal directly with his war experiences, and his career in poetry only came after he had already been a successful writer and literary critic. In 1915, he enlisted in the British Army to fight in the First World War and was killed in action during the Battle of Arras in 1917, soon after he arrived in France.

All day and night, save winter, every weather,
Above the inn, the smithy, and the shop,
The aspens at the cross-roads talk together
Of rain, until their last leaves fall from the top.
Out of the blacksmith's cavern comes the ringing
Of hammer, shoe, and anvil; out of the inn
The clink, the hum, the roar, the random singing—
The sounds that for these fifty years have been.
The whisper of the aspens is not drowned,
And over lightless pane and footless road,
Empty as sky, with every other sound
Not ceasing, calls their ghosts from their abode,
A silent smithy, a silent inn, nor fails
In the bare moonlight or the thick-furred gloom,
In tempest or the night of nightingales,
To turn the cross-roads to a ghostly room.
And it would be the same were no house near.
Over all sorts of weather, men, and times,
Aspens must shake their leaves and men may hear
But need not listen, more than to my rhymes.
Whatever wind blows, while they and I have leaves
We cannot other than an aspen be
That ceaselessly, unreasonably grieves,
Or so men think who like a different tree. 

• • •

I moved really slowly through this one, but I don't think that had anything to do with difficulty. I was just being methodical, and I had just woken up, or rather I was just being methodical *because* I had just woken up. Trying to speed just after waking is a doomed enterprise. I took a look at this grid and didn't like it one bit, but as I solved, I warmed to it, surprised that those isolated corners weren't much more dire (both in difficulty and quality). Most of what annoys me about this puzzle has to do with the cluing voice, which ... whaddyagonna do, that's the editor's responsibility, and there's nothing to be done about that. We're never gonna agree (as often as I'd like) on what's clever or funny. For instance, 42A: "Abyssinia" (TATA). I first learned about this pun ... today, because even my embarrassingly pun-fond friends wouldn't touch this one (which only works in ... writing?). If you are still baffled, it's supposed to sound like "I'll be seeing you" (hence "TATA!"). So my knowledge that Abyssinia was the name of modern-day Ethiopia, well that did me no good. Plus, I already had TTYL ("talk to you later") in the grid (15D: "Until next time," in a text), so I was sort of surprised to see the puzzle bidding me farewell yet again. I heard you the first time, puzzle. Speaking of clueless cluing, please enjoy the following brief conversation about how women have been completely edited out of (or in no way edited in to) this puzzle:

Not a fan of teeny tiny passageways between grid sections (aggressive quadranting!), but since every section had *two* ways in today, I didn't mind as much (though TATA blocked one entryway to the SE, for sure, and PHAT blocked the other (28A: Dope). I had DIRT before PHAT, which is very much a "bygone" term and should be clued as such. There were a decent number of gimmes, which meant that no one corner every got very crushingly hard. First three Downs, all gimmes (AZTEC, REESE, TRACY). Did not like at all the clue on ZEROES OUT (14A: Eliminates), which I think of something you do to scales or odometers, nor did I like "OUT"'s appearing twice not just in the same puzzle, but in the same quadrant (see LEAP OUT, 5D: Be immediately obvious). But that is a very solid if unglittery NW corner, fine. Couldn't get into SW because of the whole PHAT phiasco, so went in to the middle to discover that my cheese knowledge was poor (Leyden? Boerenkaas?), that it was JAM UP not DAM UP (35A: Clog), and that it was REMIT not REPAY (26D: Compensate for something?). Stil, it could've been worse. Out of there and into the NE, which was the easiest section of all (once I changed YENTES (??) to DISHES (9D: Gossips)). 
Not too hard to get into the SE. Somehow BANTAMS came to me with only a little effort (39D: Little chickens), off just the "B," and then I got ENROBE easily, with my brain activity going something like this: "Hmmm [Get ready for court, maybe] ... ugh, they're going to want ENROBE here, aren't they? Why do they insist on cluing justices as if they were chocolate-covered treats!?" Managed to dodge the MESA trap (53D: Tabletop, perhaps was actually SLAB). Just now realizing that this is the corner I finished in, so I must've had a go at the SW earlier. Very much the most daunting, as I couldn't get in from the top and could only back in from ARGUED and MJOLNIR, one of which I didn't know right away and the other of which I forgot how to spell: "... OK there's def a "J" in there and it ends in "-IR" ... stars with "M"? ... and that vowel? ..." (44A: Thor's hammer). I have never been so happy to see an ENERGY drink in my life (41D: ___ drink). From there I could see ICING, which, with the "J" from Thor's hammer got me the JUICE part of PEAR JUICE (lol whaaaaat who is drinking that a. at all, or b. as an [Apple cider alternative]. Apple cider is everywhere this time of year, esp. in these parts (gestures to all of central NY). I've literally never seen PEAR JUICE offered anywhere, or heard anyone utter the words PEAR and JUICE in succession, for that matter. But again, corner after corner, this one was structurally sound and irksome only in its faux-winsome cluing flourishes. Enjoy your last day of November.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. BAKER Street (49D: Renowned London street in literature) is "renowned" because that's where Sherlock Holmes lived, 221B BAKER St. (I had a tabletop game with that exact name as a kid)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


amyyanni 7:09 AM  

While I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes, additionally, BAKER could have been clued for Josephine Baker. And CORAL was Nemo's mother in "Finding Nemo." Perhaps we were supposed to be satisfied with the RIB thrown in there. 8>/
Certainly an impressive piece of work: not a 3 letter word in it! Definitely appreciated the challenge and learned about Thor's hammer. Lack of comic book reading and sketchy mythology knowledge trips me up too often.
Thanks for "Aspens" Rex.

Geezer 7:29 AM  

ENROBE, perhaps in velvet. I'm trying to remember a recent robe related clue having to do with a place or event of enrobing. Anyone?

puzzlehoarder 7:34 AM  

A solidly Saturday range solve. Partly this is due to each quadrant being so compartmented. It was a series of near cold starts, five of them counting the center.

MJOLNIR was of course the highlight of the puzzle. TATA and PHAT were low points and brought down my opinion of the puzzle. They give it a dated dad humor vibe.

Despite it's limited percentage of debut material this delivered good late week puzzling throughout.

albatross shell 7:34 AM  

I guess Rex doesn't do budgets.

Nice solid Saturday. I assume it was too easy for many since I only needed a few cheats.

Remarkably low in names and other clutter. Liked the fake sports fake football clue crossing the real football clue.

Somehow Abbyssinia and ALOTALIKE seem much the same.

GILL I. 7:35 AM  

Your first three down gimmes were my fat ZEROES. If Joe had clued 1D as Montezuma or even users of the macuahitli weapon, I would've had a fighting chance. Speaking of the AZTECs, when I got to 52A and the subject of passing interest, I immediately penned in AFTER LIFE. I was in a different zone. Nah...AFTER was already clued along with some CARE. And speaking of AZTECs, Hernan Cortes was as bad, if not worse, than our hero, Christopher Columbus.
I left the left coast and meandered over to the east. STROP was my first entry. Went on to visit Hamlet at 22A and my mind wandered. My favorite quotes were all from Hamlet. "Neither a borrower nor a lender be,....or to be or not to be.... so, LAERTES came to mind. With his name in place, I was able to get all the east coast downs.
Then we get to ARIE. I don't know any tv bachelors. I think I watched one episode because @Loren said she watches it. I'm happy for her. Doesn't the name derive from Hebrew for "lion of God?"
I thought I knew my cheeses. Dutch ones aren't on my favorite list. I'm a Frenchie at heart. The only Leyden I've heard of is that jar. Took me forever to see EDAM.
I learned a fun "Abyssinia" TATA that was interesting. I like those types of things.
Never heard of a DATA MINER nor MJOLNIR nor OLINE and I hate PHAT.
"aggressively and offensively devoid of women". I see Betty in there and HENNA could be a lady's name. Look, there's a SUE after ME and then we have CORAL..she was Nemo's mother in "Finding Nemo." I also think PEAR is a girls name. You find what you want to find.
Tough puzzle with two Googs. AZTEC and EDAM - and only because of the way they were clued. Off to sneak another turkey sandwich in.

Z 7:54 AM  

Don’t get your ENROBE in an ENTWIST (don’t @ me).

Yoda for JEDI led to a DNF/DNC in the middle. MJÖLNaR wasn’t helping me and oMaR wasn’t obviously wrong (to me) and Yoda was so obviously correct that I finally said, “I don’t know what’s wrong here.” REpay to yATA was obviously wrong, but since I had no idea where Abyssinia was going the fix was not coming to me.

I do wonder if M.J. ÖLNAR is as over-rated as our M.J. Probably.

Besides “Abyssinia,” “FAQ checker” is not said like “fact checker,” so two non-puns we’re supposed to read as puns. Blrggh.

Hey, they did clue AEON as a woman. Can’t wait for the “math experts” to appear and explain how the NYTX isn’t sexist.

Todd 8:09 AM  

I found it interesting that “1975 hit with a classic saxophone solo” (BORN TO RUN) was clued in the same puzzle as BAKER street, because the first sax solo that popped into my mind was from Gerry Rafferty’s 1978 hit.

QuasiMojo 8:15 AM  

Fun puzzle. Almost like a Saturday of old, at least for me. I like a challenge and since I rarely listen to the radio I had no idea what the singer was "born to" do. I tried DIE, then WIN, and finally got RUN. LOOKALIKE before ALOTALIKE. Wanted TAX ACT before Tea Tax.

Spilling the TEA (think Boston harbor) fits in nicely with the gossip clue which led me to having a mini DNF today because I put in DISSES for gossips ("If you haven't a thing nice to say about someone, sit next to me...") which gave me SENNA for the ink. That didn't jibe with Red but it tied in nicely with the "eliminates" clue. Wink wink. Tata TTYL.

Z 8:19 AM  

@GILL I - After Life is a much better answer. You also reminded me that ARIE Luyendyk Jr. is a “modernized” clue - his father was a famous race car driver. Jr, I just learned, also races cars. And, to be clear, Rex’s point is that there were multiple chances to put women into the puzzle that were passed on.

@albatross shell - “remarkably low” is a bit of an overstatement. I counted 16 PPP answers/clues and three more that are iffy (“Abyssinia” because you have to ignore the actual meaning of the word, while ADAM’S RIB and EDAM are debatable). So either a low 24% or an okay 28%.

EMIR (Muhammad clue)

ASPENS (poem clue)

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

And Baker Street is a song with a renowned sax line. That I couldn't get out of my head when I was trying to get Born to Run. Very satisfying when it showed up anyway.

PeterB 8:23 AM  

Whenever I think about saxophone solos from the 70s, all I come up with is Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. When Baker Street came up later, I felt vindicated. (BTW, Baker Street is 1978)

Suzie Q 8:33 AM  

Another fun challenge. Two days in a row!
Too bad no video of Baker Street as @ Todd noted. Perhaps some later will find one for us.
We've been seeing a lot of robes lately.
Proud of myself to get Laertes with no crosses.
I love a cheese called Buttercaas (I think) so figured out Edam.
All things Norse interest me so Mjolnir was a little thrill.
Nice way to start my Saturday. Thanks Joe.

How exhausting it must be to spend your time sifting and combing through everything hoping to find something to take offense to.

Rube 8:34 AM  

Who cares in the slightest whether women, men, or any other classification of beings is over or underrepresented in a PUZZLE. It's a puzzle. It's not a sociology term paper. Just solve it. Enjoy it. Then afterwards we can all put on our msnbc or fox if we like. But leave the poor puzzle alone.

ss 8:48 AM  

I was also disappointed they didn't clue BAKER Street as a 70s song with a memorable sax part after cluing BORN TO RUN that way.

Also, I don't get why "Compensate for something?" for REMIT gets a ? ... I get the word play, but REMIT is literally to compensate for something. I thought the ? should only be used when the clue doesn't literally work for the answer. The use of the ? regularly makes me question my understanding of crossword cluing.

Nards 8:54 AM  

I came to post this. Even on the Born to Run album, I think of Jungleland as the song with the sax solo.

BobL 9:01 AM  

Disses/dishes henna/senna they did me in

Unknown 9:12 AM  

The part of TOTO was played by a female Cairn Terrier.

Blade 9:12 AM  

A much better song, too.

TJS 9:13 AM  

Counting references to women in a crossword puzzle. You "woke" people are a riot.
Finished this one too quickly for my taste, but really liked the cluing and the fill. Don't think I have ever made any sort of judgement about a puzzle by looking at the grid before starting, in 60 plus years of doing these things.
I'm trying to remember the last time Rex gave us an reservedly positive review. Seems like its been weeks.
BTW, in order to call MJ over-rated, it seems to me you would have to be able to name other players who were better and had more successful careers. Maybe it's just trolling.

Teedmn 9:17 AM  

I was hoping for a BAKER Street link in Rex's write-up but no, just the game box.

LAERTES to AARP to TTYL got me started today. Misreading Come va as Como va gave me Bien rather than BENE but BORN TO RUN made me look again at the 39A clue.

AldErS at 6D until I wondered how I was going to turn 14A into something that would match the clue tense-wise. But what trees start with AS?? Oh yeah, those things that are all over my backyard, sheesh.

dAM UP jammed up my final entry. dED_ at 35D and what letter was going to be in that last vowel slot for Thor's hammer? I was just about to rethink EMIR when I realized who the force they were talking about at 35D.

I put in Wonka first at 2D while pondering if a character with a known first and last name could be considered eponymous.

BOXSTERS sound more like men's underwear than Porsches.

And what did anyone find unexpectedly in CEYLON to lead to Serendipity?

Thanks, Joe Deeney, for a puzzle that came closer to a typical Saturday for me. TATA! (Thanks, Rex, for explaining "Abyssinia").

Lewis 9:27 AM  

Biggest gift of this puzzle for me was the SW quadrant, which, because of its difficulty for me, brought me back to beginner-solver mind, that is, what a, say, Wednesday puzzle felt like to do in my first months of solving, or a Saturday during my first year-plus. Beginner-solver mind -- a place of frustration and helplessness -- presents me with a litmus test: Will I continue this endeavor or shall I abscond? It also awakens humility. This combination thrusts me into a place of innocence that is rare and wonderful. And here it was again, after what feels like a long break. Oh, I did like the excellent puzzle clues for ESTATE LAW and ESCAPE KEY, and the mini-victories that came in the solving of the other three quarters of the puzzle. But that SW, for me today, that was special, and I'm especially grateful for that, Joe.

Wine Diver 9:30 AM  

So sure 1A was DRIVERED it cost me 10 minutes.

kitshef 9:32 AM  

Now there’s the good, tough Saturday I’ve been longing for. Delightful.

BOXSTERS??? What an absurd name for a sports car. Needed every cross and still figured it was wrong.

So many wrong turns:
ImOut before IFOLD, “confirmed” by
quietTIME before ALONE TIME
WONKA before reese
piers before TRACY
jumP OUT before LEAP OUT
AlderS before ASPENS
TTfn before TTYL
Tax act before TEA act before TEA TAX
DiscerNER before DATA MINER
esse before TOTO

Contrary to apparently everyone else, the only section that was at all easy was the SW, where AEON, ANNULMENT and MJOLNIR gave a good solid base.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

“Abyssinia, Henry” is one of the most famous MASH episodes, when Henry Blake leaves Korea and, in a surprise twist, is killed. That’s a significant use of “Abyssinia” for “goodbye,” but it’s the only instance I can think of. I just figured the title was specific to some wacky character, not a thing people say.

kitshef 9:42 AM  

Happy to see so much BAKER STREET love today. Time to break out my City to City CD.

Tracy 9:58 AM  

Rebecca Falcon said:

Today’s puzzle is so aggressively and offensively devoid of women.

You forgot “thankfully.”

Joe Dipinto 10:00 AM  

Unlike BORN TO RUN, BAKER STREET was actually a Top 10 hit. (And it was my #5 favorite song for 1978, which was my favorite year, musically, of the 1970s.)

That middle section almost jammed me up, but good old EDAM rescued me eventually. I still roll my eyes at Star Wars entries but at least they've died down recently.

Here Rex. This Betty was an actual woman. Oh, that sounded like I was calling a dog, didn't it.

Z 10:28 AM  

@TJS - A list of better NBA players? Gosh Golly, that’s a tough one but I’ll try:
Dr. J

Yep, really tough.

Hungry Mother 10:29 AM  

Started on the porch in our Key West rental early then finished with JEDI at a pit stop at Starbucks in Key Largo. Nice tough Saturday.

albatross shell 10:31 AM  

@Z 819am
I guess you could add BANTAM too. But then I would object to ASPENS. I think I was just looking at the grid. They do not leap out at you. And most are very well known and some have common usage. But yes your count is good.

I do disagree with you about FAQ checker. No pun involved. A USER of a site reads the FAQ of the site he is on. No pun.

Birchbark 10:31 AM  

My old atlas says "Sri Lanka (Ceylon)," to which is now added in manuscript "(SERENDIP)." Years from now, when the ebbs and flows of ESTATE LAW finally place this atlas in the hands of a residual legatee, I wonder if they will pause the idle page-leafing and ask why.

MJOLNIR -- I want to play this backwards on my turntable and see what they're really singing about.

Nancy 10:32 AM  

Although I struggled womanfully everywhere, it was the SE that defeated me. I couldn't even cheat, though at the end I tried desperately to. It was a combo of:

Wrong answers: REPAY for REMIT (26D); in SYNC for in TOTO (54D); and CODE for JEDI (35D) (no I didn't understand it, but that's what I had because of CAP UP instead of JAM UP).

Lack of knowledge (that stupid hammer and the OLINE, whatever that is. Also DATA MINER for "one who might find a pattern in the noise" where I wanted SYNESTHETES).

Senioritis: "It's the Sherlock Holmes street, I bet!!!!" I thought excitedly, as I looked at the B at the beginning of 49D, but it wouldn't come to me. I finally wrote down BEALE, thinking of something totally unHolmesian and completely wrong.

Much struggle and a dismal DNF. One of the toughest puzzles I've ever wrestled with. And excellent, btw.

dadnoa 10:32 AM  

Thought the theme was leaving......folding, zeroing out, leaping out, tata, ttyl. Thought I was done with leaving, then boom......Boxster! A way to leave quickly!

Birchbark 10:47 AM  

Also -- Really enjoyed reading "Aspens." Thanks @Rex for that.

RooMonster 10:50 AM  

Hey All !
Snazzy enough puz for a Saturday. Solved it fairly quickly without trying to solve it quickly. That makes it into the Easy category.

Toughest section for me was the SE. Had loOkALIKE forever, not letting me see the Downs. And the ole brain only thinking of roadSTERS (which wouldn't fit), and BANTAMS new here as clued (have heard the word, didn't know they were little chickens)(It's also an old car model...), plus trouble thinking of the EN part of ENROBE, had me scratching the head for a bit. Finally thought of EN, which when I squinted got me to TEATAX, enabled me to change loOkALIKE to ALOTALIKE, and the rest was gettable. Whew!

Now, I'm a fan of Marvel movies, but 1) I never knew Thor's hammer had a name, and 2) what the what is MJOLNIR? Yikes.

Writeovers aplenty, but I did end up 100% correct!
thrOwSOUT-ZEROSOUT, STRaP-STROP, wonka-REESE, statED-ARGUED, BieN-BENE, mybad-SUEME, bEetJUICE-PEARJUICE, carreraS-BOXSTERS, della-BAKER. I think that's it. (That's enough!)

Did enjoy this as far as themelesses go. Probably said before, but I'm corny, so "Abyssinia". 😋


Anonymous 10:52 AM  

The part of TOTO was played by a female Cairn Terrier.

And, as you all know, the part of ASTA was played by a wire-hair in the movies, but is a Schnauzer in the book.

Nancy 10:57 AM  

Oh, and one more thing. I so wanted ROAD TEST to be the answer to "where one might be graded on a curve". It was such an idee fixe for me that it took me forever to see ART CLASS. I suppose if you'd been as traumatized as I was taking Driver's Ed at age 16 and being taught on the Taconic, of all ridiculously winding roads, you would have wanted ROAD TEST, too. P.S. I never did take my ROAD TEST and never did become a driver. The world is much safer for it and I'm still alive.

TJS 11:10 AM  

Count the titles. Count the number of Hall of Fame teammates they worked with.
Count the number of Defensive first teams they played on. Consider the consensus opinion of the players and coaches he played against. Consider 6 titles in 8 years, and the fact he didn't play those two years in the middle. Your list is a joke;Moses,Durant,McHale, Kawhi ??? Good Lord. But I will add "IMO", something you have a problem with.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

As a Bruce fan, agreed that the sax solo in 1975 was Jungleland. Also, the song didn’t even crack the top 20, so while it is an all time classic rock song, technically, it was never a hit.

Newboy 11:19 AM  

Today’s puzzle made me feel like a DATAMINER searching for order in the chaos. Even MJOLNIR got only through crosses couldn’t make this one a source of delight. Took forever to see AZTEC for SDS and that was typical for today’s solve. Interesting bits on CEYLON & TATA which are bizarre enough to maybe stick for future use, but I doubt it. I need to head over to xwordinfo to see if Joe’s constructor notes can enlighten my meh mood...maybe tryptophan poisoning? “Abyssinia.”

jae 11:19 AM  

Easy. Easier than yesterday’s. I’m from San Diego so AZTEC was a gimme, as was REESE and TRACY (I’m also a 30 Rock fan)...and it was off to the races.

MJOLNAR was a WOE (I’m not a big fan of comic book movies) but the crosses were fair.

Solid but not all that interesting.

Unknown 11:20 AM  

As mentioned, the Baker Street clue should have been along the lines of the Born to Run clue...leave it to Will Shortz to overlook this

Carola 11:34 AM  

A medium-tough Saturday here: lots of skipping around looking for spots that would yield to pressure, but no moments of despair. Fun to rassle with, satisfying to finish. The hardest quadrant for me was the NW: I had to back into it from the final letters provided by TTNY + a lightly sketched in REESE. Yay for pattern recognition that allowed me to see ESCAPE KEY and then piece together the rest.

Help from previous puzzles and comments: AEON, PHAT, ENROBING, ESTATE LAW, DATA MINER.
Help from growing up in a football-obsessed environment: O-LINE.

@Nancy, that "road test" would have made such a nice parallel with the diagonally opposite BOXSTERS.

Jyqm 11:49 AM  

REESE and TRACY right next to each other does seem like a missed opportunity for an “Election” cross-reference clue...

Ellen S 11:51 AM  

Here’s the story of how Serendipity derived from the Island of Serendip. “Serendipity” didn’t derive from the island, but from a 14th century fable, “The Three Princes of Serendip” - “serendipity” was coined by Horace Walpole, who evidently did a lot of that, How the island itself got that name is described in a long, near-incomprehensible Wikipedia article involving a multiplicity of languages, and where many of the references are questionable so don’t bother.

Now let’s see if I coded the link correctly. Nope. Stupid Blogger won’t allow the “https” reference, but pretty much all websites use that these days. Here’s the link if you want to copy and paste it:

What? 11:55 AM  

Nothing like a Saturday to expose one’s lack of knowledge. NE corner-got strop, henna, ascots, td passes, couldn’t remember Luyendyk’s name except it’s unusual, never heard of born to run (I know nothing about pop music after the 1950’s - ok, maybe Les Miserables). SW corner-mjoln- must be a mistake somewhere.
So now I’ve learned some trivia. Time for UM Ohio State.

Jyqm 11:56 AM  

@RooMonster — I haven’t seen any of the Marvel movies nor read the comics, so no idea if they name his hammer in that context. But MJOLNIR is its name in Norse mythology.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Game, set and match: TJS. Of course Z still won’t admit it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Enjoyed bein totally fooled by {"Abyssinia"}.

Primo "spinnable" puzgrid layout. Does produce some narrow passageways betwixt them puzquadrants, as @RP already discussed. Also produced *zero* weejects … that's ZEROES, & OUT. No staff pick, today.

Mjo-cow difficult SatPuz answer, at our house: MJOLNIR.

Mostly good fillins, tho. BORNTORUN was a notable fave.
Clues got pretty skunky, occasionally, as @RP also already covered. See: JEDI. ZEROESOUT. ARTCLASS. ESCAPEKEY. CEYLON. TATA. PHAT. EDAM. etc. That's OK, tho … makes U think different. M&A likes different.

Thanx, Mr. Deeney.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


mathgent 12:05 PM  

I had to look up MJOLNIR to solve it. I'm guessing that it appears in the comic book. Unless many of us know Norse folklore.

I didn't like the puzzle, even though there were some nuggets. Zero Terrible Threes to begin with (extremely rare). Also, the clue for ADAMS RIB.

But I circled eight clues which were either unfair, artlessly misleading, or so remote that it results in an unclued entry. 1A, 24A, 28A, 34A, 44A, 58A, 23D, 28D.

Joseph M 12:35 PM  

Thought the Porsches might be REXSTERS. Was disappointed when it turned out to be otherwise.

Tough muscular puzzle with a cigar in its mouth, a MJOLNIR in one hand, and a can of Bud in the other. Except for TRACY, it took forever to break into the grid. Almost gave up but then suddenly somehow I was solving.

Especially liked hermits having ALONE TIME and ART CLASS students getting graded on the curve. Didn’t like the dupe of OUT or the "Abyssinia" clue. Was impressed by the solid fill and the absence of three-letter words.


Mike Herlihy 12:37 PM  

@Nancy - I was in camp ROAD TEST as well.

Hoops Fan 12:37 PM  

They polled current NBA players earlier this year and 73% voted for Jordan as GOAT. To be fair they never saw Kareem, Chamberlain or a lot of older players play. They have, however, seen LeBron and and Kobe play . They came in 2nd and 3rd at just under 12% and 11%, respectively. I think whoever made that list of players must have been joking. Kevin McHale LOL.

Hugh 12:38 PM  

Southeast almost did me in. Had ESTATETAX for a long time before OLINE hit me which solved that problem (though I knew something was off when TAX appeared twice in the same quadrant). Also had LOOKSLIKE for several minutes - then SLAB fell and I was able to ALOTALIKE and BANTAMS.

I liked the clue for ESCAPEKEY (It gets pushed in the corner). All in all I moderately enjoyed this one - mostly because it's an event for me whenever I'm able to finish a Saturday. Didn't have tons of fun with it but nothing at all to complain about (though it is irksome, as Rex pointed out, that there are several women's names here that were not clued as women's names and really should have/could have).

David 12:42 PM  

@Geezer, enrobe was clued as something happening before a graduation (or something like that)
@Nancy, do you know Rex was livid when a crossword answer was "Taconic" because he'd never heard of it? That must have been a crazy road test.

Thor and his hammer were around long, long, long (maybe eons, or even an era) before comic books or movies.

Agree with Gill. It's important to note that Columbus and Cortez were both in the employ of the same Monarchy which was torturing and murdering its own populations both on the Iberian peninsula and in The Spanish Netherlands. The original evil empire. (Well, not really the original because humans never learn anything; one of the original in our limited scope of history.)

Besides "enrobe," other answers are repeats: Pear Juice was already dissed here recently, even though I could take Rex to several NYS orchards which bottle and sell it and yes, it is an alternative to apple cider. People asked if there were "such things" as "data miners" recently as well. I think the recent revolutionary clue's answer was Stamp Tax, which set off a "correction" that it was the "Stamp Act" and not the "Stamp Tax" by one of the pedants on the list. I started thinking I had done this puzzle recently.

Had Road Test at 1A because "Aztec" as clued I had no clue about. But it just had to be Tracy at 3D, so I dutifully put in Art Class. Hand up for Repay. Annulment was easy for for some reason Adam's Rib wouldn't fall for a while. Many scholars think it was a different part of Adam that was used, but they also know Eve wasn't the first woman created.

This one was slower for me, with very few gimmes. Overall a pleasant solve.

Kathy 12:46 PM  

Conquered the West fairly easily, except Thor’s hammer remained open and perplexing
Struggled but eventually prevailed in the northeast...strop?

Really got mired in the south west and center
Finally got a toehold with TARIFF (or so I thought) but couldn’t get any other entry words from other sections into the walled-off SE section.
Still didn’t feel quite Naticked, though, so I kept punching in letters to see if something in this corner would leap out at me.
Tried Porche SOFT TOPS, (because I still had tariff crossing) but the rest still looked like jibberish.

Coming up on three hours, I finally surrendered. My helpmeet (former Aztec) gave me BOXSTERS AND OLINE and then I limped to the finish. Tariff became TEATAX, and I finally “eked” it out, but this corner of the puzzle was horrid....READ, ALOTALIKE, EWERS.

I’m impressed that so many found the puzzle easy. But heartened that many other vets didn’t finish. So I’ll keep plugging.

Thanks to Rex for explaining that Abyssinia was a pun.

Happy to see Baker Street. @Todd, interesting connection you made to the Rafferty hit. Love sax solos, what girl doesn’t? @ss, great idea tying in both clues to sax solos. There was another great solo in a Men at Work song, don’t remember the title.

@Rube, well put. It’s a puzzle, not sociology term paper.

RPM 12:49 PM  

Would it help if WS posted a trigger warning if a puzzle lacks the proper sexual or racial balance?

ccredux 1:03 PM  

Nicely constructed puzzle. ESTATE LAW (“ subject of passing interest”) has appeared before in NYT crossword answers. As a lawyer (now retired) and former law teacher, I never heard or saw the term used to refer to a body of law; rather , such terms as Probate, Wills and Estates, Trusts, Estate Planning , and Property are used. Since I never practiced or taught in those ares, I could certainly be mistaken! Is it commonly used?
in those areas i could certainly be mistaken!

Randy 1:18 PM  

I'm another one who thought of BAKER STREET before BORN TO RUN, but surprised to find it later in the puzzle. I wonder if the original constructor had made the connection as well...

old timer 1:22 PM  

@GILL I., Two reasons why Columbus is now dishonored and Cortez is not: First, Cortez has never been seen as an American hero; he has no special day, and is on no pedestal off of which to be knocked. Second, Columbus enslaved and sometimes killed innocent families, whose ways were peaceful. Cortez brought down a regime that was as bad as Hitler's. The victims of the appalling sacrifices performed at the altars of Tenochlitan were Indians from tribes the Aztecs had conquered and enslaved. Indeed, without the help of those Indians, Cortez and his men would have been wiped out, and indeed they almost were on the famous "noche triste". Cortez was in the fight for his own glory and personal enrichment. His thousands of allies were in it for liberation of their peoples. Many Mexicans these days despise Cortez and his mistress and translator Dona Marina. But for those who were there at the time, whatever followed a Spanish victory was sure to be better than having their children immolated in honor of the Aztec gods.

The puzzle? Workmanlike, suitably tough, and ultimately doable. But not as brilliant as yesterday's.

RooMonster 1:22 PM  

Har, goes to show my cine-a-phiness, and lack of actual knowledge! Forgot that the Marvel stuff comes from actual stuff.

Speaking of cine-a-philes, OLINE was another missed "woman" clue, in the movie Jack Reacher (the second one) the woman who was killed as a plot point was named OLINE Archer.

@Joseph M
Also enjoyed your BORN TO PUN

RooMonster Responder Guy

Petri 1:27 PM  

I find that the overlap between those who say "it's just a puzzle, you're so easily offended ��" and those who riot about The War on Christmas~ is damn near a perfect circle

It's very disturbing how many people think that calling out thoughtless editing (and that's giving undue benefit of the doubt) is somehow looking for offense. Do better, boomers.

Carola 1:41 PM  

For anyone looking for another challenge and not already doing the Newsday Saturday Stumpers, I recommend today's offering.

turkeyneck 1:55 PM  

MJOLNIR? you’ve got to be kidding me. But I appreciated clueing on ADAM’S RIB, CEYLON and maybe

Ethan Taliesin 4:03 PM  

I'd have never groked TATA for Abyssinia without the explanation.

MJOLNIR is I guess a fairly known word nowadays with all the superhero interest.

Here's my unsolicited internet opinion on the subject: I find superhero movies idiotic for children and for adults the appeal is just cringe-inducing.

Is it like some sort of power fantasy thing? Everybody has a special ability and they're friends and they fight other characters who also have special powers and big muscles and they smash up stuff and fly around and explode things and save the world so they can do some variation of the same thing next time? It's not exciting, it's tedious. I know their fantasy world is well-developed and baroque, with detailed back-stories and all, but I just think the trope is just so stupid. And this is from someone who likes ridiculous stuff a LOT.

I'm not saying there's no value in those movies because that's a subjective thing and obviously maaany people derive pleasure from them.

Just as it's your right to like superhero movies (or Trump or religious fundamentalism, for that matter), it's my right to judge you.

RooMonster 4:32 PM  

@Ethan Taliesin
I like those movies because of what I like to call my "innate kindness". I like to see bad, evil people get their comeuppance and get beaten. Plus, they're very action-y, which gives me a on-the-edge-of-your-seat fun time.

@David 12:42
Who was created first? Curious.


Anonymous 4:32 PM  

Here's my question. Let's say you want to include more women in your puzzle -- how do you clue them for a Saturday? On a Monday, BETTY can be "Feminist Friedan" or "Actress White" but aren't those Gimme City? Ditto any reference at all to "Witherspoon." Maybe "Wells on Gilligan's Island" would be okay, but bet people would have complained about obscurity.

(Rex has a point about TRACY, since it's clued as a name. "Musician Chapman" would've been better. If people don't know her, they should.)

Anyway, I think Saturday is the wrong day to complain about turning female names into foods or times of day.

Bourbon Street 4:32 PM  

When I was in a London taxi heading down BAKER street, the cabbie (or HACK as many NYT crosswords identify them) asked my friends and I (all Americans) if we “knew who Mr. Sherlock Holmes was”. When we replied, “of course”, he pointed out where 221 B would be if it actually existed. Needless to say, all of us Ooh’d and Aah’d as if we were looking at a real monument.

William of Ockham 4:52 PM  


I need to get out less.

GILL I. 5:00 PM  

@old timer1:22. I always enjoy reading what you write but I'm going to disagree with you and here's why:
First, his name is Cortes with an S. Portuguese. Second your "Cortez brought down a regime that was as bad as Hitlers." No. The AZTECs were pagans, not Christians. They believed in the after life and while we "Christians" thought of sacrifices as brutal, they did not. They were instrumental in the building of pyramids, an incredible calendar system and their contribution to medicine was immense....Shall I continue with their agricultural system as well? Hitler wanted to rid the world of everything that wasn't blue eyed. Yes, The Trenochas were evil in the conquistadores eyes, but it was a society that everyone believed in. Yes, we don't celebrate him because the only people who cared about claiming Mexico on behalf of Spain were those in Spain that benefited from all the knowledge Cortes was able to bring back on his sainted back.

kitshef 5:32 PM  

@TJS - in a team sport, titles is a useless measure. Otherwise you would say:
Bob Horry (7) was a better basketball player than Wilt Chamberlain (2)
Johnny Murphy (5) was a better baseball player than Willie Mays (1)
Earl Morrall (3) was a better quarterback than Dan Marino (0)
Dick Duff (6) was a better hockey player than Wayne Gretzky (4)

Keep the X in Xmas 5:36 PM  

@Petri: Great comparison. The people who bemoan the War on Christmas are mirror images of the crossword scolds who faint at perceived racism and sexism in the puzzle. They’re basically the same people.

TJS 5:57 PM  

@kitshef, agreed, and if it was the only point of reference I was referring to, it would not have much relevance, but when you look at a players career achievements, championships have to be taken into consideration, especially in a sport that involves only five men on a court at one time. But thanks for your response.

Z 6:16 PM  

REESEs are harder.
TRACYs have a whole “female” section to make it easier.

In case I haven’t cudgeled you over the head with the obvious enough, all it would take is a teensy weensy bit of googling to make a Saturday puzzle a little less blind to roughly 50% of the human race.

@TJS and @Hoops Fan - Wowser. If I were so inclined I could make a better argument for MJ*. But I’m not so inclined because he’s over-rated.

Way OT Z is outta here.

*Win Shares per 48 and PER are flawed stats, but way better than “championships.”

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

BETTY can be "Feminist Friedan" or "Actress White" but aren't those Gimme City?

There are a number of WWII bombers with 'BETTY' in their names and/or with BETTY Grable on the plane. Not to mention baked goods. Lots of clues that aren't gimme.

oisk17 6:47 PM  

When I saw references to the "gender count", I first thought it was satire! Seriously? We are counting gender references??

Nice puzzle, and I finished it despite problems with the SW - I should know another, slang equivalent for "dope"? Phat chance... Got Mjolnir from the crosses, same for "Born to Run," TTYL,

Joe Dipinto 7:51 PM  

To be fair, the saxophone part in "Baker Street" isn't really a solo, it's more of a repeated instrumental hook that serves as a de facto chorus for the song, which otherwise doesn't have one. Gerry Rafferty apparently played it on the guitar in early demos of the song.

The saxophone part in "Born To Run" on the other hand does sound like an improvised solo inserted as a break between verses. It only lasts about 18 seconds though, and Clarence Clemons is completely absent from the rest of the song. Is it really a "classic" solo? When I try to think of it I can only recall roughly the first two bars. But prominent saxophone interludes weren't common in pop songs in 1975, so maybe it did stand out at the time. By 1978 sax solos were much more ubiquitous.

@Kathy, you're probably thinking of Men At Work's "Who Can It Be Now" (1982), which also had a catchy repeated sax riff.

burtonkd 8:17 PM  

@Nancy, you are on FUEGO today! SYNESTHETES may be my favorite wrong answer of all time!
Just chose the Taconic (Satanic in local parlance) today over I-87 coming home from Montreal. Shorter and no tolls, but man the narrowness and curviness! Plus you see so many deer just waiting to pounce as the day LATENS toward EEN. I couldn't imagine how it would even be legal to put a 16 year old learner on that road - they can't drive in NYC. Come to think of it, I think they can't drive on the parkways either, so maybe laws have changed since your day. Teaching a 17yr old now, and it is tough in this area to find appropriate roads.

Pivoting to sports, OLINE is the offensive line.

@Z, jumping in as devil's advocate:) MJ as greatest certainly arguable. Although: Team did extremely well in his absence with Pippen, an under-rated player at the helm. Plus, that team had Steve Kerr, one of best 3 point specialists ever and Rodman, best rebounder and provocateur. MJ also had people like Craig Ehlo and John Starks against him at the same position.
I love all the candidates on your list, but not as GOATS. I would love to see Lebron and MJ go head to head in their prime to settle this. Kareem and Wilt suffer from recency bias.

Too bad Rex doesn't read the comments, if true, bc I remember last time he claimed never to have heard of PEARJUICE (not that long ago), readers offered many suggestions for where one might see or hear of it. At the very least, he can't make that claim today.:)

Anonymous 11:24 PM  

@TJS- No serious person would suggest that Michael Jordan wasn’t a top 5 all-time player. It’s debatable whether he’s the GOAT. That guy/gal Z is just a troll. Don’t take (insert preferred pronoun) seriously.

TJS 12:29 AM  

@Z, is that like "I know you are but what am I " ?? New Years resolution, 1 month in advance: I will not respond. Ever. Frisbee...

Richardf8 12:39 AM  

PEAR JUICE - This was a gimme for me because I once had a pear tree. And the cluing? I would have said “unfermented perry” had I been cluing it for a Saturday puzzle.

Unknown 9:59 PM  

Heh heh. Yep. Was going to add this very comment, but figured I'd better scroll through first, as someone had doubtlessly thought the same thing.

spacecraft 11:52 AM  

Easy-medium, he says. I'll kill 'im. I awarded myself mammoth triumph points for this one. Challenging everywhere--even in that little apple (or PEAR?) core of a center. I'm with OFC on that one. Alternative? Hardly. Comparing apple cider to PEARJUICE is ALOTALIKE comparing apples to...well, pears.

Trouble spots: the whole grid, practically, but I mean extra:

--> I do not SOAK my laundry, but I do SOrt it. Huge delay fixing that.

--> I was dueling on the lAWN before DAWN. Kinda made it hard to see.

--> That feisty middle, where my force-strong entry was yoDa. Always like him I did. When finally rid of him I got, the puzzle I solved!

I know my friend @rondo will gravitate to REESE Witherspoon for yeah baby, but I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce to the DOD circle one Abigail Hawk, who plays BAKER on Blue Bloods. BTW, I also immediately noticed the connection between the sax solo clue and the iconic "BAKER Street--" including the word "Street" as in "E Street Band."

The final solution--besides uncovering JEDI--was a stab in the dark on that cheese clue, hoping that the "-kaas" syllable stood for cheese. In German it's "kase," pronounced "kay-za;" close enough. DOD honorable mention to the '40s pinup girl BETTY Grable. And now, hoping that the Eagles' OLINE will stand staunch against the SeaHAWKs (hi again, Abby!) tomorrow, I award--what else?--an EAGLE!

thefogman 12:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 12:41 PM  

Can somebody please explain the question mark at the end of the clue for 26D - Compensate for something? REMIT. I still don't get it. Normally a question mark hints at a pun or wordplay of some type. I don't see any of that here...

thefogman 1:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Agree with "mathgent".... too many pissers. Rejected.

Burma Shave 2:57 PM  


he'll ESCAPE and OUT LEAP everyone,


rondo 3:19 PM  

C'mon now, I was a Scandinavian Area Studies minor at one time and Mjölnir was a toughie for me. Is Thor *that* big these days. And lotsa folks found Mjölnir interesting, but not one mention that it has become a neo-Nazi symbol. I guess the blogosphere is more concerned about finding ways to be offended with sexism. Put that in your Brown BETTY and smoke it.

Who ZEROESOUT at 9:00 a.m.? And was Casey at DABAT?

1d 2d 3d gimmes, so a very nice start. 2d for me is, of course, yeah baby REESE Witherspoon. My duel was at nooN for a while and my RISER was a newEl.
PHAT puz.

rainforest 4:06 PM  

This was an easy/hard puzzle for me. Started immediately with AZTEC, CEYLON, and CORAL, but I thought I had two OUTs and so would not work. Went to the centre of the puzzle which was easy enough, but the rest I kind of crawled through. In fact, when I finished, I wasn't sure about MJOLNIR, TRACY, or AEON (though that one seemed to be somewhere in my head.

BORN TO RUN was a gimme. Did I ever mention that I "discovered" Bruce Springsteen in 1973 when I bought a copy of Greetings from Asbury Park. None of my friends had ever heard of him. I got to see him in early 1975 in a 2600 seat theatre for a 4-hour concert. Amazing.

Anyway, as it turned OUT both examples of that word were correct and all my guesses were correct, so "yahoo".

Thought the puzzle was a good one.

leftcoaster 4:11 PM  

Had some fun with this, but...

the "Abyssinia" pun was a definite groaner, I have yet to get my mind around PHAT, the two OUTs were a bit intrusive, and TTYL, TATA, and TOTO seemed a bit much.

First time I've seen MJOLNIR, or heard of Brown BETTY. Also thought BOXSTERS sounded a bit down-scale for the Porsche brand, and OLINE seemed an awkward abbreviation. Yet...

actually liked it and did have some fun, though not without a look-up or two.

strayling 7:54 PM  

@thefogman: REMIT is used in the sense of remitting a payment. A payment is compensation. I view the question mark as a sort of apology from the compiler.

Diana, LIW 10:55 PM  

@Foggy - I agree with Strayling - it's a "kind" of compensation.

Took all day to do the puzzle. Lots of wrng paths for me to go down. Had to check some answers, so not a total/fair/complete solve for me.

Diana, LIW

PS I have a book with a funny story about the three princes of Serendip, but could I remember CEYLON? ha!

thefogman 9:32 AM  

Thank you D,LIW and Strayling!

Tom Scott 5:21 AM  

this puzzle was OK. The clues were boring and conventional. Try harder NYT.
classic sax solos:
“Waiting on a Friend,” The Rolling Stones with Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone, from Tattoo You (1981) feels like the 1980's on MTV.
“Just the Way You Are,” Billy Joel with Phil Woods on alto saxophone, from The Stranger (1977)
I'm sure there's something from David Sanborn, and Michael Brecker too.

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