Obsolescent aid for businessperson / SAT 11-9-19 / Stereotypical exclamation from Hercule Poirot / Aircraft that excels at water landings / Rapturous reception for Oprah Winfrey / Corporate shuffle for short

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Constructor: Neil Padrick Wilson

Relative difficulty: Easy (untimed, but once I got going, there wasn't much resistance—plus Twitter is *awash* in 'PERSONAL BEST SATURDAY TIME!" notices...)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: FLOAT PLANE (11D: Aircraft that excels at water landings) —
floatplane is a type of seaplane with one or more slender floats mounted under the fuselage to provide buoyancy. (wikipedia)
• • •

Solving first thing in the morning, my brain just doesn't operate quite right. I printed this one out, put it on the clipboard, sat down in the comfy chair to solve, and the first answer I went to was 23A: "And this affects me ... how?" Like, why would I do that? Why would I start there? That's' just weird. Maybe my eye caught the clue and its strange colloquialness just piqued my interest, I dunno. But I do know I spent like a minute just poking around that answer ("OK. SO?") and its crosses (I could get only EON and OPTTO). Then I was like "huh, well, this has been fun, wonder what the rest of the puzzle is like," hopped just an inch over to the NW (traditional crossword starting point!) and TEN INAPT NAPE ACHE whooooosh, off I went. ASPERUSUAL off the ASP-, "SUPER FREAK" off of nothing (an enormous gimme), and on and on. No idea if solving in the evening on computer would've gotten me a record Saturday time, but it seems possible. Only issues were spelling of MADEA (classical theater lover in me just instinctively went "MED-"), and, oddly, WOMAN, whose clue (44D: Amazon, e.g.) was ... I mean, accurate, I guess, but a bit like using ["Moby-Dick," e.g.] as a clue for BOOK or [Jack Lemmon, e.g.] as a clue for HUMAN BEING. Got the WOM- part and for a half-second thought I must have had something wrong. Then WOMAN dropped. OK. So?

I am trying to pinpoint why I didn't find this one very exciting, despite the fact that it's trying so hard. I like many answers in it. I like "SUPER FREAK" (even if the clue was Way too easy). I like SNOOZEFEST, I like "NO PROBLEMO!" (very early-Bart-Simpson). But ENGLISH TEA and FLOAT PLANE and USED AS BAIT and UTTER BORES (plural) felt like a wordlist dump. Who would even think to put ENGLISH TEA in a puzzle. I know ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA (too long for any non-Sunday grid), but ENGLISH TEA? FLOAT PLANE is a thing, for sure, but feels technical in a way that it's hard to imagine someone's really *wanting* that answer. ZORRO MASK looks cool, but isn't that just a mask? Like, a black mask that covers just your eyes? There's a movie called "The Mask of Zorro." The thing that really makes the Zorro look, besides the sword, is the hat. USED AS BAIT is a verb phrase that feels very iffy as a standalone answer. USE AS BAIT, USES AS BAIT, USING AS BAIT, are these all good? I'm fumbling around here trying to put my finger on why I didn't find this groovy, despite there not being much junk at all (TGI and NOTUS were my only real "ick" moments). I think it's that it doesn't have a voice. It doesn't feel like a human made it. Constructors, at their best, have voices, personalities, they have a feel to their puzzles. "Voice" is the best term I can think of. This one doesn't have a distinctive voice. It's like ... somewhere in the uncanny valley of Saturday puzzles. Like, it's very puzzle-like, very passable, and yet there's something ... off. Like a super-sophisticated but not-sophisticated-enough robot made it. "This is human fun, yes!?" I mean ...yes? I'm not outraged. But I didn't have a blast. "Your hot dog buns come in OCTETs, yes!?" Sure they do, Puzzy. Sure they do.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:15 AM  


Jank lite, lovely clues for WOMAN [Amazon, e.g.] (Yes, @rex, I loved this clue because the etailer and river were more in my mind's forefront, so this brought a mini-aha), and PAS [Hearing aids, in brief]. Some may nit about I, I'M, and another I'M leading off answers, but not me. I was having too much fun. Much gratitude, Neil!

Brian 6:34 AM  

Easy except for clunky Northeast ... S'alright for Noproblemo seems off and never heard of floatplane. Ok.So took forever. Otherwise an enjoyable Saturday puzzle.

GILL I. 6:40 AM  

So my first entry is SACRE BLEU. I'm going to like this sez I. I immediately start the mind wandering because I loves me some Hercule Poirot. There is a toss up between Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov. Hmmmm, which one pronounced the BLEU with the best accent.....
Can some sane person explain to me why there are always 10 hot dogs in a package but only 8 buns? Did ALAN PATON have that same problem and then immediately write "Cry the Beloved Country?"
A Saturday sans the Googs. It was fun..NO PROBLEMO, Bart. Few proper names that I actually knew. My favorite ADELE and I loved that it started with IS IT and ended with SNOT.
Nothing made me stop and smell the roses because I was on fire.
I love these kinds of puzzles and if a super-sophisticated robot made this...It was no SNOOZE FEST nor did it UTTER BORES me nor was I OUTRAGED....

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

Way too easy for a Saturday. Too many gimmes. Superfreak, tuxes, Madea, Alan Paton? Need I say more? I got momentarily slowed in NE. Was like 'no problem? You're really going there?

Z 6:49 AM  

Bold move going with SNOOZEFEST and UTTER BORES. Why would you plant the seeds of negativity in the solvers mind like that? Sub-20 minutes while exhausted and trying to stay awake so, yeah, easy. Johnny DEPP and Sean PENN discussing PROSECUTORs and YOGIs over NAAN and TEA while SUPERFREAK blares in the background? Only on CrossWorld.

QuasiMojo 6:51 AM  

This felt really dated. Snoozefest. Standing O (with the Oprah tie-in); Alan Paton (great book but definitely old timey now) and Tige? Been a while since he appeared. And Zorro is no problemo but not exactly cutting edge. Likewise Hercule Poirot. Ennui sets in just seeing his name. Seeing Oreo with its recipe clue just reminded me how dull seeing Oreo is. Years ago I wrote to the crossword editor back then that having to write in Oleo every day was boring. I guess all they could come up with as a solution was changing one letter. English Tea seems more like an afternoon ritual than an early morning one. I got up early today hoping for a real fun challenge but I can't say this one thrilled me. I did make one Faux PAS. I had PSS since I put in BAMS for the football team.

@Joe and @Nancy congrats on trivia question yesterday. I tried but failed to see the connection.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

I asked my wife, the French prof, about the origin of SACRE BLEU. She told me that it came from swearing by the cloak of the king. Thought y'all might find that interesting.

Mikey from El Prado 7:16 AM  

This was a Saturday puzzle? Saturday PB, but didn’t feel the joy.

Debra 7:21 AM  

Friendly, fun Saturday. Enjoyed it!

Evan 7:28 AM  

The puzzle really didn't stick around long enough to make much of an impression like a really good Saturday should. I joined the personal best crowd for the second time this week (Tuesday) and my Saturday best is now faster than my Friday best. Overall it has been a very quick week for me other than that pointless slog on Thursday.

Hartley70 7:34 AM  

If this is the puzzle, it must be Tuesday, but a very fine Tuesday it was!

Danielle 7:39 AM  

Amazon clued for woman was one of the least empowering things I’ve seen in a while. I get it’s a Saturday and they aren’t going to clue on the nose, but it kinda gave me the heebie jeebies. How about a play on wonder? This would be like cluing man with “Adonis.” It’s just unnecessary and bizarre.

pabloinnh 7:50 AM  

Oh good, NOPROBLEMO again. The word is "problema", and if you're going to spell it with an"o", your clue should include "per Bart Simpson". I've now seen this enough that it has stopped being fingernails on a blackboard but still achieves the annoying quality of vocal fry. There, I feel better.

OFL may think Zorro's hat is his hallmark, but who else wears a mask? OK, the Lone Ranger. I think OFL probably thinks of him in terms of his belt full of silver bullets.

I liked this one a lot, wish it had been a Wednesday, as it felt mid-weekish. All in all, a nice Saturdillo. Thanks for the fun, NPW.

Suzie Q 8:04 AM  

Obsolescent plasma TVs yesterday and PDAs today.
I liked this one OK but there seemed to be an awful lot of phrases rather than words. Perhaps that is why Rex used "voice" to describe it. Everywhere I turned the puzzle was talking to me. So the challenge had little to do with my knowledge base but plenty to do with being able to get inside the constructor's head. Not really what I was hoping for today.
For me, Poirot can only be David Suchot. (I hope I spelled that correctly.)

Joaquin 8:09 AM  

Rex found the clue for 44D, WOMAN, to be too generic. Perhaps it should have been clued, "One of 40% of the NRA."

puzzlehoarder 8:23 AM  

A very bland user friendly Saturday. No satisfaction in solving an early week puzzle on Saturday.

kitshef 8:36 AM  

I don’t have proof but that had to be if not the easiest Saturday, at least very close. Felt like an easy Wednesday. But less interesting than an easy Wednesday with no theme.

Didn’t know ALAN PATON or his buddy STAN DINGO, but even those went in easily with crosses.

TJB 8:37 AM  

A fun challenge would be to reclue a puzzle like this. I’m betting a good number of this crew could come up with something much more devilishly improved.

Clover 8:39 AM  

Did feel quite easy for a Saturday but I’m selfishly okay with this because it was my first completed Saturday puzzle ever :)

Knitwit 8:41 AM  

I know it was easy but I had a lot of fun. Now if I could only get that Rick James song out of my head......

Nampa Bob 8:42 AM  

Not really what I’m looking for, on a Saturday, but I’m not a speed solver.
I’m a couple cups of coffee on Saturday and Sunday solver.

Teedmn 8:42 AM  

Under my average today, but not necessarily easy. Not hard either. I had no aha moments like yesterday. Throwing in NAPE, UTNE and TGI, I then, inexplicably, moved to hotdog buns' OCT__ crossing CUB (could have been OCTad, after all). I had _____T PLANE for a long time and had to come over the top to get FLOAT, at which point I smacked my forehead and exclaimed SACRE BLEU. We live half a mile from a sizable lake and FLOAT PLANEs do fly over our house occasionally, should of known!

Starting in that right-central spot means I had ____OMASK in place and could not think of any five-letter Star Wars Jedi warriors ending in O.

I did like the wordplay on Oprah getting a STANDING O. On the other hand, with ___US at 6D, I was really reluctant to splatz in NOT.

For once, I had NO PROBLEMO with either of the requisite college names once I had a letter or two. 43A in particular was obvious.

Thanks, NPW, for your Saturday puzzle.

And Rex, thanks for the Puzzy laugh. Reminds me of the hated Clippy of the Windows of yore.

mmorgan 8:43 AM  

I HAD A BLAST with this! Okay, it was on the easy side for a Saturday, but something in it really clicked with me. About 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through, I got really sad, because I felt I would be done soon and I really didn’t want this solve to end! I don’t recall ever having that feeling — of enjoying a puzzle so much that I didn’t want to finish it. Interestingly, although ALAN PATON was a gimme for me, that corner was the last and (for me) the hardest to fall.

CDilly52 9:06 AM  

@GILL I 6:40 - I had the same thought about the hot dog buns and it immediately sent me to the scene in Father of the Bride (Steve Martin remake) where he has the meltdown in the grocery over exactly the “buns and dogs packaging doesn’t match” issue and gets thrown in jail. Truly funny.

CDilly52 9:10 AM  

Thanks for the SACRE BLEU origin Anonymous @ 6:53. Learned something interesting today!

Mac 9:11 AM  

Can someone explain PAS for hearing aids?

burtonkd 9:12 AM  

OH MON DIEU fits in SACREBLEU, but crosses fixed that quickly.

@Quasi - Kind of ironic to refer to Zorro as non cutting edge...

@danielle - you do realize that Wonder Woman is of the Amazon race? The point of the clue was the misdirect to make you think about the river and online store, then have the answer be something unexpected and non-Saturday simple. So no to Adonis being the equivalent. Yes, Amazon can also be used to refer to a tall attractive woman - are we really going so far as to find that triggering?

Liked this other than it not putting up enough resistance. Lots of newish and colloquial phrases and the old not totally moth-eaten.

TJS 9:13 AM  

@Gill.I, This was a snoozefest, I was utterly bored, and I am outraged. I am also amazed that anyone could not be disappointed that this was considered a Saturday level challenge. Okay, I guess those who are interested in setting new personal record times have a right to their own points of view, but an eleven minute solve without even trying to speed thru this is a real let down for me. Probably a fair Tuesdayish but nowhere near Saturdayish. And not niceish.

Joe Dipinto 9:14 AM  

Oh, COME. ON! I feel like it took me two seconds to finish this thing. You call this a Saturday puzzle? Rex's review is pretty amusing, especially the very end of it – I lol'ed.

Really, it went like SUPERFREAK ALAN PATON UTNE MADEA something TEA ADELE oh, ENGLISH TEA what? that's not a thing GARAGE SALE AS PER USUAL...I was getting the answers twice as fast as I could write them in. I know what Rex means about it not having a "voice".

Well, there's the Sunday acrostic to look forward to.

Summer lovin', had me a blast

Teedmn 9:15 AM  

That's "should have known". Two forehead smacks in one morning, sheesh.

SouthsideJohnny 9:17 AM  

I half expected Rex to feign indignation “I’M OUTRAGED” over the clue for “AMAZON” and recycle one of his stockpile of rants, lol.

Can anyone add clarity to the clue for SASH - I’m thinking the thing that they wear in beauty pageants, are they always (or even usually) twisted? Are there other types that are more common - this one just doesn’t resonate with me.

Also, who the heck puts one OREO in a dirt pie ? ? ?

Et Tu Brute 9:19 AM  

@Mac Public Address System

Birchbark 9:20 AM  

@SuzieQ (8:04) -- my favorite Poirot catch-phrase is "the little corpuscles."

As for the puzzle, NO PROBLEMO -- I join the personal-best-Saturday club at 7:24. Under 10:00 is very rare for me on a Saturday. It's curious that the fastest solves often feel relaxed, as this one did.

CDilly52 9:22 AM  

Pretty much count me in among the easy for a Saturday crowd. Oddly enough, my solve pattern almost exactly mirrored OFL’s. I say “oddly” only because he and I almost never seem to travel on the same wavelength. No idea of the significance, if any, but the journey this morning was easy and generally pleasant. Afterwards I did wonder how I can be over 65 and never heard the term “think box” referring to the old BEAN. Learning from crosswords, I love it!

The Nit Picker 9:25 AM  


In the "things a sarcastic SNOT (Bart Simpson?) would say" department: ISIT? and OKSO? Maybe even IMUP. To Rex's point about this puzzle having a "voice," it sounds like the voice of a 13 year-old sass bucket.

PDA...didn't we just have that?

PENN station has RAIL transportation...missed cross referencing clue opportunity.

ACHE, AILS, ALAS...kinda depressing...

PROSECUTOR...I have my popcorn all ready for Monday...

RooMonster 9:30 AM  

Hey All !
FLOAT me over to the easy crowd. Did online today, got the whole puz done in 10 minutes except for the NE. That NE just wouldn't budge for a bit. Only had PROSE___ and EON from the NW, plus EERIE TOSS AILS. Was able to finally get OCTET*, which led to SMELT, which let me see there was an F (F!) to make somethingFEST, and then the ole brain finally clicked onto SNOOZE, which let me get a bunch of Downs, letting me erase the nd of my incorrect End (EBB)and the rest fell in quick succession. Finished in 15:08, which is probably my personal best.

*Got a chuckle out of Rexs mini-screed about OCTET. "I'd like an OCTET bag of Hot Dog buns, please." Har. And as @Gill I 6:40 alluded to, why can't the Hot Dog companies, and the bun companies come together and decide on the correct amount to put in their packages?! Make it ten of each! Or eight of each! You'd have to buy 10 packages of each to make the math work out. Or is that their plan for making you buy more??

Lots of neat words/phrases in puz today. That NOTUS was kind of a ick-but-not-really answer, just odd. GARAGE SALEs are what I'm familiar with (Grew up in Northeast PA) But when I moved to Connecticut, they were Tag Sales. I've also seen them as Yard Sales.

Liked puz overall. For me, an easy Saturday gets a STANDING O. (Why use Oprah, though? Just because of the O factor? Anyone can get a STANDING O. Just sayin') I HAD A BLAST getting puz done, now off to a Veteran's Day car show at the VA Hospital.

IM UP! Go away! :-)

Nancy 9:43 AM  

It takes courage to put in fill like SNOOZEFEST and UTTER BORES because you never know if they'll be used against you in a critique of the puzzle. But the constructor also put in I HAD A BLAST and STANDING O (which has an adorable clue at 34D), so I guess he's an optimist. Anyway it's a puzzle that's chock-full of vernacular expressions, which beats a puzzle that's chock-full of trivia. Still some of the names that were there -- TIGE and MADEA -- almost brought me down. I was tempted to look them up, but am glad that I didn't and solved cleanly, if slowly.

I found a couple of answers very hard to see: WRUNG for "twisted" and NOT US for "them".

All I can think of as a "pre-moving event" is packing. And more packing. And still more packing. I've never had a GARAGE SALE and don't even have a GARAGE.

I assumed hot dogs came in a pack of a dozen, not an OCTET. But how would I know? When years ago I read what was actually in hot dogs, I stopped eating them on the spot. I probably haven't had a hot dog in 25 years and don't miss them. I mostly liked the mustard anyway.

With the exception of OK SO, I enjoyed the puzzle.

Newboy 9:52 AM  

IS IT just me? I'M UP but the IDEA of I'M starting multiple answers on my IPHONE APP.....yeeesh! I'M OUTRAGED. Actually, NO PROBLEMO today since I HAD A BLAST with Neil. Not like early week's SNOOZE FEST UTTER BORES.

U. N. Owen 9:54 AM  

@Birchbark, isn't it "the little grey cells"?

oopsydeb 10:05 AM  

NOPROBLEMO was somehow my first answer to drop, and then I mostly flew through this, though had some difficulty with WOMAN and the SACREBLEU/BEAN cross took me way too long to get.

OREOs not OREO for ingredients. Dear Crappy Editor Shortz: Please stop with singular ingredients unless they really are singular in the recipe.

13:59--not a personal best, but 5 minutes under my average. And at least a minute was lost to cat on laptop.

Taffy-Kun 10:13 AM  

Sorry “Problemo” still grates! More of a Saturdito otherwise

jberg 10:14 AM  

@Roo —.nah, 4 packs of hot dogs, 5 packs of buns.

Mr. Cheese 10:16 AM  

I don’t time but felt like the fastest Sat ever.
Can someone explain UNTE.

jberg 10:21 AM  

I’m with @Gill, @Nancy and others who found it easy but enjoyable. When I was a kid, the Comic Weekly Man was sponsored by Buster Brown shoes, so I knew TIGE but wasn’t sure if maybe it wasn’t TIGh or TyGE. And I loved all the everyday expressions

Nathan 10:40 AM  

In response to the frustration over hard-to-find octets of hot dogs, I recommend Wellshire Farms packages of eight, sold at Whole Foods ;-) :


WeesaSuzi 10:43 AM  

Easy and enjoyable...personal best for me as well. Maybe I am an utter bore, but this just played right into my wheelhouse. I liked the mild snark throughout.

Hungry Mother 10:45 AM  

Close to PR time, but I was eating race morning breakfast while solving which slowed me down. I enjoyed it.

Molasses 10:59 AM  

Fun puzzle, and restored my confidence in my own brain after Thursday and Friday destroyed it. Not quite a personal record but under 15 minutes which is lightning fast for me on a Saturday.

I thought NO PROBLEMO right away but then thought, no, that's too silly, and didn't write it in till I had enough crosses to make it obvious. Lots of personality in this puzzle. Didn't feel robot-made to me at all.

leah712 11:01 AM  

My child learned in college that expressions like "no problemo" are offensive linguistic pejoration. I don't exactly understand the problem, but she called me out when I said "el cheapo." I totally understand that it's offensive to say "mañana" when describing procrastination, because you're ascribing a psychological tendency to a group of people, so maybe it's like that only more subtle.

Newboy 11:01 AM  

Mr Cheese: UTNE reader is an upscale Readers Digest mostly taken from smaller circulation magazines. Started in 1970s(?) maybe still surviving the WWW era?

Burger Beer 11:09 AM  

Where is @Stanley Hudson? And @Two Ponies?

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Ten hot dogs and eight buns means the pups get the extra two!

jae 11:23 AM  

Yep, very easy. A fair amount of sparkle but nothing to slow me down. Add me to the “liked it” contingent. Jeff gave POW.

Nancy 11:24 AM  

Thank you, @UN Owen (fans of "And Then There Were None" will appreciate your nom de blog) for straightening out our beloved blog philosopher, @Birchbark (9:20) on "little gray cells." I hope you know I love you, @Birchbark and won't think I'm being snarky when I say that Hercule Poirot's "the little corpuscles" may be the funniest thing I've read on the blog this year.

xyz 11:26 AM  

3 words


Birchbark 11:28 AM  

U.N. Owen (9:54) -- You're absolutely right -- "gray cells" it is. Mine appear to be shot this morning. It's strange, as my "corpuscle" recollection is really vivid. Interesting.

Gulliver Foyle 11:42 AM  

Fun fact I learned from today's puzzle: JM Coetzee and ALAN PATON have the same number of letters in their names.

Birchbark 11:45 AM  

@Nancy (11:24) -- All in good fun -- I'm starting to like my version better anyway.

Carola 11:46 AM  

A no-skipping-around Saturday = very easy. But I thought it was a lively grid, and I had fun filling it in.
One do-over: wHat A BLAST. No idea: MADEA. Raised eyebrow: ENGLISH TEA (as if they're harvesting it there). Favorite "reveal": WOMAN.

Masked and Anonymous 11:47 AM  

9 U's, a MASK, and a cloud of dust … and a hearty Hi Yo themelessthUmbsUp Away.

Was a bit easy-ish, for a SatPuz. But still -- I'll go with IHADABLAST a whole way lot more than IMOUTRAGED. When the fillins are this smoooth, they kinda naturally create a problemo, for bein wholehog-DeSade-istic SatPuz-challengin.

Upper stack of SNOOZEFEST/NOPROBLEMO/UTTERBORES was extra-superbo, IM&AO.

staff weeject pick: TGI. Partial abbrev meat. Subtly hints at this bein more like a FriPuz, difficulty-wise.

Thanx for yer efforts, Mr. Wilson. Very good job.

ZorroMasked for a day & Anonymo9Us

themed dessert:

GHarris 11:50 AM  

Whenever I move quickly through a puzzle, especially on a Saturday, I am delighted and feel so smart. I think, “hey I’m just brilliant today”. But then that inner voice cautions, “if you found it easy just wait until you read what Rex and the rest have to say “. Invariably my ego balloon is punctured

Fred Romagnolo 11:51 AM  

Be fair, clue said ingredient, not ingredients. Clue said breakfast beverage, so ENGLISH TEA is O. K. Wasn't there an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie highlighting NO PROBLEMO (Last Action Hero)? I didn't know a lot on my first pass, but the acrosses did it for me; a proper crossword puzzle. Didn't we used to call them pontoon planes?

old timer 11:58 AM  

I for one was grateful to find a solvable Saturday, after two DNF's in a row. It wasn't super-Easy for me, since I knew nothing about SUPERFREAK. But it was easier than a lot of Saturdays.

Kudos to OFL for a great and amusing review. One of his best in some ways. At least in the last few months.

Those who have spent time in England will not carp about the clew for ENGLISHTEA. In all but the snootiest locales, it is strong, it is as close to black as tea gets, and it absolutely requires milk to smooth it out. And if you have ever, as I have, gone out to watch a market early in the morning, it is what you need to survive a pea-soup London fog.

The gimme for me was ALANPATON. Required reading 60 years ago, in the era whan the Boers were boors and the blacks in South Africa found what few rights they had being stripped from them.

Fred Romagnolo 12:00 PM  

We had PDA meaning public display of affection, how is it aid for a business person? Anybody?

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Clueing English tea as a black beverage is a mistake. Tea in England is always served with milk, unless you ask for it black.

Molson 12:05 PM  

The problem was it was too easy. Lots of great answers, super smooth, but the cluing just wasn't tough enough.

JC66 12:12 PM  

@Fred R

The Palm Pilot (among others) was a Personal Digital Assistant

Speedweeder 12:16 PM  

@Fred 12:00 - Personal Data Assistant, back in the days of Palm Pilots and Blackberries/

oopsydeb 12:26 PM  

Fredromagnolo, sorry, but ingredient in the singular does not mean a single item. It means one food or substance in, for instance, a recipe. A salad recipe that calls for 30 cherry tomatoes and a cucumber is a two-ingredient recipe, not a 31 ingredient recipe. Oreos is AN ingredient in a mud pie (or whatever the dish in the clue was).

NPW 12:53 PM  

Constructor, here!

Was surprised when Will accepted this as a Saturday puzzle, as my cover letter explained that I was aiming for Friday difficulty. [I would rather aim for a Friday than a Saturday; to me, aiming for Saturday means "maybe this is just too hard" and invites rejection]. Based on how many "personal record!" comments I've seen, seems like I was on the right track. While I guess this one didn't cater to the seasoned veterans crowd, I'm so pleased this puzzle turned out to be an ego boost for so many others! Seen several solvers indicate this was their first successful Saturday puzzle. That's awesome! =D

It's almost not really worth addressing Rex's "critique" that this puzzle doesn't have a voice. But I'm going to anyways! (It is just a *bit* insulting, really).

At every turn in the crosword I was tearing things apart to put in fact put as much voice as I could into the puzzle. Everything started in the Northeast. Seed entry was SNOOZEFEST, and at least for me, every themeless starts by-hand so I can make sure I start with a corner I think is super-solid and worth trying to develop. I slotted NO PROBLEMO! under it (the letters line up nicely) and after lots of attempts for the third in the stack, I opted for UTTER BORES. This in turn left me woth "ZOR". (In other words, if this was going to fly, ZORRO- or maybe ZORBING, which I remember being a thing in New Zealand). Being a lawyer myself, PROSECUTOR was a satisfying answer to try under that stack, which also more-or-less locked in the unusual overall 'shape' of the puzzle since that pushed me towards ZORRO MASK. I very much prefer themeless puzzles to have answers that spread off into every part of the grid (helping the solver), instead of segmenting things off into "mini-puzzles."

Once I realized I might be able to get SUPERFREAK in the puzzle (which I was back-and-forth on, since the lyrics are highly suggestive), the "U" was just begging me to drop in SACRE BLEU (you mean I also might get to make a nod to Agatha Christie, one of my favorite authors?) and see if things would work. Which they did! There is definitely a bit of glue in the finished product (TIGE, TGI, UTNE, NOT US, OK SO), but only as much as I felt necessary to weave so many long entries into each other.

Also of note: this puzzle has zero squares where two plural answers meet with an "S." (Which isn't easy; I think of them as "unofficial" cheater squares, as the puzzle essentially would not change at all except for symmetry if a black square replaced such an "S"). While I have definitely bowed to buying crossword software to help me construct -- it's practically necessary to be competitive -- rest assured that software LOVES trying to take the easy way out by pluralizing *everything* it can. The fact that I refused to do so here is, I think, one of the hallmarks that it was definitely *me* making the decisions.

And on top of that, most of my clues survived editing -- very much the opposite of my other published puzzles. I think my proclivity towards sarcasm and colloqualisms is plain to see.

(So, Rex: you can take your "no voice" comment and stuff it! =P )

Happy weekend, all!

albatross shell 1:09 PM  

I did get through, but not nearly as easily as most. Having no knowledge of SUPERFREAK or FLOATPLANES (Sky King never called them that, did he?) And refusing to make my black morning liquid ENGLISHTEA until I had to were PROBLEMOs. Other places I filled in eventually thinking: Self, I was slow on that one.

One place I just had fun was 53A. I noticed that DANGLEDAID, a looming, juicy imPEACHable offence, fit in with 3 of my crosses (only two were correct) at the time. And the prosecutor was looking down from the NW.
Could the NYTCW be so current? No, but actually USEDASBAIT covers the same territory, but not so people would notice. So even knowing the answer was wrong I left it in, and changed it one cross at a time, until the answer was apparent.

I understand Rex's complaints on the puzzle, but I like a lot of the phrases he complains about. Especially having UTTERBORES and SNOOZEFEST in the same triple stack. Also, I am a Christie fan, so SACREBLEU made my day. Doubly so, since it is also the title of a Christopher More novel about Van Gogh and royal blue pigments. More is another of my faves.

Someone thought SNOOZEFEST was dated. Har. I put in stemwinder.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

@ Burger Beer, I think the PC Police may have driven them away. Only like-minded bloggers are tolerated these days.

RooMonster 1:10 PM  

Har! And I used to be great at math!
I realized my error whilst in the shower, and knew it was 4/5, wanted to see who would correct me!

@Fred Romagnolo
It's from The Terminator, Part 2. (More nerd alert!)

RooMonster Dogs and Buns Guy

Unknown 1:24 PM  

Have you noticed that most of Rex's "easy" puzzles are untimed? That seems like cheating. People are notorious for underestimating how long it takes to complete a task.

davidm 1:27 PM  

Wow, this was easy. I never had an easier Saturday. I got SNOOZE FEST right off, and it was off to the races. I got ZORRO MASK off the Z in SNOOZE alone, without any other crosses. NO PROBLEMO? No problemo. UTTER BORES fell without a fight, and paired with SNOOZE FEST, I thought this was a theme in the making, though I recognize that Saturday puzzles are rarely if ever themed.

I got I HAD A BLAST, AS PER USUAL, and USED AS BAIT without a single crossing letter. Weirdly, SUPERFREAK came hard, even though I am quite familiar with the song. Frustratingly, ALAN PATON didn’t come right off, either, though I’m also quite familiar with the book — the caffeine hadn’t kicked in yet, I reckon.

Everything else tumbled like dominoes except for brief, but stubborn resistance in the extreme southwest — I don’t know from tea, and did not know the name of Buster Brown’s dog. But once WRUNG fell into place, the final bits of the puzzle folded like a cheap tent. I was done with the puzzle before I was even half done with my coffee. I thought there were a lot of nice answers in this one, but a Saturday blowout was vaguely disappointing. I like a little more resistance from the hardest puzzle of the week.

Northwest Runner 1:28 PM  

I have to second pabloinnh on the topic. The Spanish word is problema, so the mistranslation needs to be part of the clue. Snooze Fest and Utter Bores would have been better paired in a themed puzzle. Overall I enjoyed it though.

Unknown 1:28 PM  

Have you noticed that most of Rex's "easy" puzzles are untimed? That seems like cheating. People are notorious for underestimating how long it takes to complete a task.

Suzie Q 1:34 PM  

Wow @ NPW, great comment. I really enjoyed your explanation of the process. Thank you so much for coming here so we could hear your very own voice.

GILL I. 2:01 PM  

LOVE IT when the constructor stops by. I agree with you...should've been a Friday. No matter... I and several others enjoyed your endeavor.
Re PROBLEMO. Of COURSE it's not correct....but Bart Simpson thinks it is so it's OK by me. DOH!

Joe Dipinto 2:03 PM  

"ingredient in the singular does not mean a single item. It means one food or substance in, for instance, a recipe." ←←@oopsydeb

Who says a crossword clue has to correlate to the style of a cookbook recipe? If a bunch of Oreos is an "ingredient" in a dirt pie, then a single one of those Oreos is also an ingredient in the dirt pie.

Blade 3:01 PM  

The short time when people carried personal data assistants like the Palm Pilot around.

Geezer 3:15 PM  

I had a hot dog sandwich for lunch today.

oldactor 3:22 PM  

What Joe Dipinto said. And I knew them as pontoon planes. Remember the Spruce Goose?

Mme Laffargue 3:52 PM  

Milk isn't tea. Tea is black, or green or red. Bottoms up!

Hank 4:30 PM  

@ NPW 12:53

Thanks for the commentary, Neil - and for the enjoyable puzzle.

If you have the time (and the inclination) can you provide some of the unused clues from your original submission that you regretted not seeing in the final puzzle ? Or some where you were happy to see them improved ? I'm not looking for a comprehensive list - just a few highlights.

I can see that you like to explain (which is great) but you needn't make a mini essay out of it - unless that would be fun for you. I just think it would be interesting to compare some of the choices.

thanks again !

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

English tea is milk tea.

Mohair Sam 5:39 PM  

@Gill I (6:40 AM, don't you sleep) - Ustinov, it ain't even close.

@NPW - Thanks for the construction lesson, fun to see how the house was built. And thanks for giving Rex a smack - he needs a little humbling.

Fred Wollam 5:44 PM  

Public Address System.

Fred Wollam 5:50 PM  

An OBI is a SASH.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

What Joe Dipinto said. And I knew them as pontoon planes. Remember the Spruce Goose?

well... there's some debate on terms. the original PanAm planes (and the Spruce Goose) were 'flying boats'; the lower fuselage was a boat hull. they, and most such, had outboard wing stanchions with 'floats'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_boat
this is PanAm: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_American_World_Airways#Clipper_era

the clue, 'Aircraft that excels at water landings' isn't anywhere near true. pontoon planes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floatplane are completely ungainly, and neither fish nor foul. they usually have landing gear embedded in the pontoons, so that they can land on land. definitely not the Goose.

Nancy 6:51 PM  

For @GILL and @Mohair. Re: THE VERY BEST SCREEN HERCULE POIROT EVER! (Welcome back, Mohair, and I wouldn't have noticed @GILL's ranking of the various screen Poirots if you hadn't chimed in with your opinion.) But you're both oh-so-wrong. Finney and Ustinov both hammed up Poirot in their very different ways, each making Poirot "their own." But when you've read every Christie novel at least twice, you can't help but observe that their Poirots weren't Agatha's Poirots. I was beginning to think that the role could only be spoofed or caricatured until the absolutely sublime David Suchet came along in the British TV series.

To use Hollywood's favorite catch phrase: David Suchet IS Hercule Poirot! He's exactly as I saw him in all the books. Exactly!

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

Thanks for the first class puzzle.
Please come around here more often to tell Rex to wrong Red's review is.

NPW 1:09 AM  


Sure thing. A few clues that didn't make the cut:

15A: Vulcan nerve pinch target (NAPE)
41A: Soft side at an Indian restaurant (NAAN)
49: Brief outside broadcast (PDA)
58: Spring sign, often enough (GARAGE SALE)
34D: Hands up! (STANDING O)

Some nice additions from the crew:
26A: Think box (BEAN)
28A: Response to a morning knock (I'M UP!)
13D: Refine (Smelt)

Otherwise, really, most of my clues (or at least the gist of them) survived editing. My favorite clue (which did survive) was actually:

51A: They might be dipped or curled (TOES)

I just love that type of lateral-thinking clue; you know the answer is going to smack you in the face once you realize what it is, but it's hard to figure out what connects them when you're still in the dark about it. (And at least for me, the clue evokes CANDLES as an answer to me, which is clearly too long).

Preferred Customer 9:37 AM  

Hi, I'm late so you may not see this...

I enjoyed the puzzle and love hearing how you put it together. It is a rare treat when constructors post here.

I admire the fortitude required of you to read comments about your work.

PC 💻

Hank 6:56 PM  

@NPW - thank you for the feedback.

Your 58A was about as good as the end clue.

I agree that 51A was a fun type of clue/answer combo. Dipped toes and curled toes are each part of expressions which have some nuance, as well as being reasonable just as simple actions in themselves.

Curled toes = either something very pleasurable or something unsettling
Dipped toes = doing something in a tentative or "testing" manner

Prior to getting the answer I was thinking of doughnuts, hair, cursive letters, and types of pitches or trajectories.

Constructing is maybe like song writing - there is the form (the intersecting grid) and there is the content (by which I mean the clues). Of course they interact in a third manner as the form (the answers) are content as well. When the content has "intersections" of meaning or relevance that is an element that we can enjoy. You clearly try to hit all three of these elements, making them work together.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

There are two places in the world where one can see a moonbow. One is in Africa and the other is Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. I've seen the moonbow at Cumberland Falls. Absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.

Burma Shave 12:07 PM  


OK,SO that IPHONEAPP is great.
SACREBLEU, that WOMAN rates a TEN!


spacecraft 12:12 PM  

Sometimes I just don't understand OFC. No voice?? This was one of he most voice-y puzzles I've ever seen! IHADABLAST solving it; contrary to many folks' ease of solving, I had a bit of a wrestle. Never heard of ALANPATON, and mea culpa for that.

Started in the SW with MADEA (no, I do NOT watch that stuff, but I do see the name often during an onscreen TV guide search) and ADELE, the only viable recipient of today's DOD SASH. Broke into the north with a total guess: ZORROMASK/SNOOZEFEST. Happily, it worked. Cleaned up in the NW (again!) with TEES (I'MOUTRAGED!) and that word/nonword INAPT. Word in print; nonword in speech. The most disappointing corner of the lot. OK, SO, ISIT? Well, at least I don't have to deal with Judas again (ISITI?) Birdie.

rondo 12:22 PM  

The clue for 39a was at the top of the second column of clues, so I started with SUPERFREAK and never looked back. If I'd have checked crosses first I wouldn't have MADE_A mistake, having BEGAT BEGoT. That ALTO ADELE sure has the pipes, she gets the yeah baby SASH. NOPROBLEMO with this puz and it was no SNOOZEFEST.

Rick Walker 1:14 PM  

Thanks for ruining my glow at doing it in a half hour. I was going to brag to my wife but not now.

leftcoaster 4:10 PM  

There is so much good stuff in this puzzle. Can't count the ways it entertained, so will just have to say IHADABLAST.

Didn't know SUPERFREAK, but it does stand out, while the curt and quick OK, SO stood behind a potted plant for a bit.

Good to see a fun and easy Saturday like this from time to time.

leftcoaster 7:04 PM  

I think Rex's comments on this puzzle are peculiar, idiosyncratic.

Diana, LIW 8:35 PM  

I had NOPROBLEMO liking this puzzle. I've given up on discerning our leader's comments. To each his own, I guess.

Amazed that I remembered SUPERFREAK. I could just about hear it when I saw the clue, then it came to me.

Lady Di

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