Southernmost team in the NBA / SAT 11-2-2019 / 2008 Lil Wayne hit whose title is slang for lots of money / One-point throw in horseshoes / Mourner in the Book of Ruth / Longtime CBS drama spinoff / Org. that operates the Large Hadron Collider

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Constructor: Paolo Pasco + Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: easy-ish (3:53)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SEMORDNILAP (Reversible word) —
definition: A word, phrase, or sentence that has the property of forming another word, phrase, or sentence when its letters are reversed. A semordnilap differs from a palindrome in that the word or phrase resulting from the reversal is different from the original word or phrase. 
etymology: A reverse spelling of palindromes. "Semordnilap", according to author O.V. Michaelsen, was probably first used by recreational linguist Dmitri Borgmann, cited by Martin Gardner in the revised edition of C. C. Bombaugh's Oddities and Curiosities of Words and Literature (1961). The underlying concept (but not the term) is found at least as far back as Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno (1889). [wiktionary]

• • •
Once again, it's me, indie constructor Christopher Adams filling in for Rex. Always happy to do so, and I seem to have good luck with blogging puzzles that are NOT TOO BAD at worst. And this one, by two of my constructing idols, definitely falls into that camp. Perhaps not the flashiest of puzzles, but it has most of what I want out of puzzles. First and foremost, that grid is clean. I'm a huge believer in the idea that a puzzle is only as good as the worst entries, and there's almost nothing that made me scowl while solving. Maybe QUIK or IN LEAGUE, which looks weird in the grid without "with", but I'm really grasping at straws here.

Oftentimes, with solidly-filled grids, it can be hard to work in a lot of good answers, since a good chunk of the effort is spent on establishing the floor, not raising the ceiling. But there's some solid work here: I WILL NOT and COME AT ME stacked in the NE, NOT TOO BAD and DREAM DATE in the SE, and MIAMI HEAT, SEMORDNILAP, and FRACTAL (I'm biased here) elsewhere. More flash comes from the clues, especially [Commanding lead?] for ACTOR DIRECTOR and [Cooler filled with juice?] for ELECTRIC FAN. In both cases, the ? gives some of the game away, but it was still fun figuring out those clues even knowing that those words were all being used in a second context different from the natural surface reading.

"A woman is alive / You do not take her for a sign in NACRE (52A: Shell material) on a stone"

Anyway, as noted above, I had a reasonably quick solve; I had the luck of knowing A MILLI (1A: 2008 Lil Wayne hit whose title is slang for lots of money) immediately, but even if I didn't, the downs weren't terribly tricky, and AT BIRTH / MIAMI HEAT / LAN / IRAQ (well, 3/4 of that; see later) would have been gimmes even without the first letter in position. (For that matter, TIN EAR and BANANA would also have gimmes if I'd bothered to look at those first; I usually hit the top row first to try to get starting letters and then go through all the downs off that, especially when solving on paper.) After knocking out that corner, SEMORDNILAP was a nice jump into the middle, and very little from there offered any resistance. Finished around where ELECTRIC FAN connects the NE to the middle; I had MEAN for NORM and both SHARE (confusing retweets and shares) and CHIRP before CHEEP, and figured both were wrong and left that to the end to untangle. And, coming back to that area with a fresh mind after finishing the rest helped; the errors quickly corrected themselves, and that was that.

  • (Woman's name that's an anagram of two men's names) EDNA — Can we stop with these types of clues? For starters, they're not helpful at all until you have most / all of the letters in; i.e. not helpful, period. They're also just pretty lazy, imo. And for some reason you almost always only see these clues for women's names, as if there's no other way to clue these names. Knowing Paolo and Erik, I'm sure they had an awesome clue highlighting an Edna that, if you don't know, you should (and you'd be glad to learn about them). But still disappointing to see this clue on their puzzle; one of the few things I didn't like.
  • (Despot with a nuclear arsenal) KIM — Can we also stop with this? Like, there's plenty of ways to clue this without invoking existential despair and the weariness of world politics. If I wanted to be reminded of that, I'd look at any other page of the Times (not that I read the dead tree version, but I digress). Again, tentatively putting this on the editors; knowing the constructors (and especially Erik and his work w/ the crossword collaboration Facebook group), I'd wager the submitted clue involved a woman, a person of color, or both (Chloe Kim, anyone?).
  • (Cardiologist's favorite vegetable?BEET — Not going to say that we need to stop with this (it's not as bad as those awful "apt name for a (profession)" clues), but I wouldn't be disappointed if I never saw another of these clues again. Also, slight demerits for this crossing BEAT POET, if only because this clue is punning off of BEAT and it's an implicit dupe.
  • (Modern-day home of where the biblical Abraham was born) IRAQ — I'd count myself as a speed-solver, but Paolo and Erik are both much better than me, imo. Still, this clue was one where I didn't take as much time as most people. I didn't read the entire clue until writing this—while solving, I only saw "modern" and "biblical" and dropped in IRA?, then looked at the cross on the last letter. To be sure, there's occasional pitfalls to not reading the entire clue—and I've definitely had that happen before—but when it works, it's a real time-saver.
  • (Jack Nicholson's classic line "You can't handle the truth", for oneAD LIB — didn't know this, but easy to figure out with a few crosses, and something fun to learn. This is the sort of interesting clue I like to see in puzzles, and that more constructors / outlets should use.
  • (2008 Lil Wayne hit whose title is slang for lots of moneyA MILLI — nothing to say about this song, I just wanna stay on the soapbox a little longer and say that not only is this entry perfectly fair for crosswords, but that there ought to be more fresh, modern stuff like this. Too often it feels like crosswords embrace older stuff, which can be off-putting to younger solvers; it's certainly better when everybody can see themselves reflected in the puzzles, and if us younger folk can embrace the opportunity to learn about Nita Naldi or Anouk Aimee or whoever, then older folk can certainly do the same with Lil Wayne and such.
Yours in puzzling, Christopher Adams, Court Jester of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 2:50 AM  

Pretty tough with the NE the toughest section. @Christopher-CHirP before CHEEP didn’t help.

A MILLI, definitely a WOE.

Plenty of good stuff, liked it.

pvn 3:39 AM  

Shouldn't the clue at 24-D be 'Reversible wordS'?

Lewis 6:09 AM  

@pvn - No. SEMORDNILAP is the term for a single word that turns into another word backwards, even though it itself makes a plural word when read backwards.

@chris - Wow! What a great take on this puzzle! So many insights, so thoughtfully expressed, and the icing for me was that I was on line with every one of them.

So, my take is What Chris said. My only note that he didn't cover was this image that the puzzle gave me of a BEAT (as in tired) POET, resting on the STEPS, and smoking REFER (stet).

Brian 6:34 AM  

As pvn noted, "Shouldn't the clue at 24-D be 'Reversible wordS'? Puzzle was on the medium-ish side for me. Loved "electric fan" and "actor director."

Hungry Mother 7:22 AM  

Very fast for the end of the week here. 7/8 cup of coffee. Lots of fun with the interesting wordplay. Give me more of these.

Anonymous 7:28 AM  

Wow. You thought this was easy? I typically solve in 5-8 on saturdays and it took me 17 minutes! The NE corner took me to school. I had CHIRP instead of CHEEP and I just couldn’t get anything to make sense. I love the puzzle though - I’d much rather have a really tough solve on a Saturday than to breeze through it.

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

For a Saturday, this puzzle fell right into my wheelhouse, so I finished with ease. Exception: Could not figure out 38A for the life of me, finally recognized a typo in 29D (SELENA instead of SERENA). I need to remind myself to look closely at crosses when I get hung up.

OffTheGrid 7:51 AM  

Very disappointing puzzle after yesterday's Beaut. Difficulty is fine but not when it depends on bad cluing. Clever cluing is great but shaky cluing is not.
A FAN runs on juice (electricity) but is not filled with it.
44D is an abbr. but answer is not. This is deceit, not cleverness.
A DATE is a whirl? Seriously?
I get Round up/DOMED but it's really very awkward.
Is LABELERS supposed to be people who label things. Pretty weak.
I like good puns but the BEET pun is just dumb.

There were some good things in the puzzle, too. It just wasn't crisp or engaging.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Coincidence that Lil Wayne and A Milli are in same puzzle as “Meek”? Unlikely, especially given these constructors.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Tried and tried and tried but just could not get DJT to work for 9D.

GILL I. 8:06 AM  

Wow...3:53? It takes me that long to find my pen and my reading glasses.
Well, yeah, this was a Saturday QUIKie. I tend to love a puzzle that starts me off in a good mood. Today it was 1 and 2 down. Do they still do the Apgar tests on new borns? AMILLI was an unknown but very gettable. Wanted to fit in lagoons for 7A but LAKE BEDS was also easy enough to get. Some say that Mexico City shouldn't even be here. It's like a pretty little island surrounded by water. Intersting to watch the leaning buildings - especially the Cathedral next to unearthed Aztec ruins - sinking in despair.

My only little hang-up was 37D. I had DREAM team instead of the DATE. When I finally changed it, it brought to mind some DREAM DATES I've had. I've had a few that lasted about as long as it takes to have a drink, then it was call a cab moment. BUT...I do remember one. It was at Pali High. My bestie who was quite possibly the nicest person on this earth and happen to look just like a young Rachel Welch, set me up on this date. She was dating the captain of the football team and his name was Brock Chester (I KID you not). Anyway, Brock's best friend just got dumped by the head cheerleader and everyone thought he needed a picker-upper. My bestie thought I'd be perfect. I just remember that he was quite possibly the handsomest male thing I had ever looked at. He spent the entire evening ignoring me and all he talked about was his ex and himself. I just stared because he was so gorgeous. When he started crying, I cried too. I kept thinking why God wasted this Adonis to a Pomme de TERRE.
No Googling on a Saturday is smile inducing. SEMORDNILAP was fun to see especially since we've seen it rear its head here on this blog. I like an HABLA and USTED sprinkled here and now. Speaking of USTED...the Spaniards have decided to do away with the formality. Now, when you go to Spain, you "tutear" in tu tambien.....In Mexico and other SA countries, you still use the formal.
Nice jo Paolo and Erik.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

In horseshoes a leaner is two points

QuasiMojo 8:36 AM  

Hardly a thrilli what with the clunky cluing and the awkward misdirects. "Not too bad" though. Shouldn't there be an apostrophe after Francis? And count me among those who chirps rather than cheeps. Plus "the rest" to me signifies whatever remains, not "others" but maybe it's a nod to the original lyrics to Gilligan's Island? Lol.

I guess my dream dates aren't whirls either. Since they last a bit longer.

"If she'll just appear
We'll take this big town
For a whirl!"

Suzie Q 8:40 AM  

I think Anon 8:07 is right about horseshoes.
Besides a couple of nice long words and an interesting bit of trivia I did not care for this one. The clues felt strained in places. Perhaps when they collaborate they try too hard.
Nacre is some old school crosswordese we don't seem to see much anymore.
On Jeopardy! last night a category was "4 letter crossword clues".
Piece of cake but not for the contestants.

Birchbark 8:41 AM  

Back in the day, I had DREAM DATES all the time. And then I woke up.

LAKE BEDS -- Now I get why the cathedral in Mexico City has been slowly sinking over the centuries.

Speedweeder 8:47 AM  

@Anonymous 8:07 - In official horseshoe rules, a ringer is 3 points, and anything else within one horseshoe width, including a "leaner", is 1 point. I consider myself an expert on this subject, given that my father is in the North Dakota Horseshoe Hall of Fame.

toddh 8:48 AM  

It’s refreshing to see a much more current reference at 1A (especially after complaining yesterday no less!)
I had trouble getting into the SW corner, but great puzzle

Teedmn 9:06 AM  

I was grumbling to myself about how non-tough this puzzle was, after yesterday's breeze - the west side, (ironically, Erik's side, per Paolo in the xwordinfo comments - ironic because Erik usually BEATs me up) filled in super fast except for 38A and my butchering of Abu Dabai, Dahbi, DHABI. (For a short while, I had "those who show you what's what" as LevELERS).

Forgetting CERN momentarily, I had to change out my CERt (are we going to be filling in NCIS and CSI for decades from now? Sigh). My DREAM DATE filled in as proM DATE until I realized I was a letter short. Whirl, at proM, right? (BTW, 42A was DEAd for a tad - the movie sequel, "A Quiet[er] Place".)

Meanwhile, I was avoiding the NE assiduously, having been stymied earlier when I had AWOKEN but nothing else. ELECTRIC FAN came after the entire SE filled in and I made some headway in the NE. I won't bore you (too late, you say?) with all the ways I goofed there, suffice it to say, 3 letter DNF. COME AT ME is something never heard except in a movie, I would guess. Certainly not in my world.

Thanks, PP and EA, you rocked my Saturday.

Teedmn 9:09 AM  

And thanks for the write up, Chris Adams. Joanna Newsom clip, awesome.

Unknown 9:10 AM  

I'm confused about which two male names are anagrammed by "Edna."

Dane and Aden?

Or am I missing something? Seems like Ferber would have been less forced.

puzzlehoarder 9:15 AM  

This took me a little more than twice the time I spent solving yesterday's puzzle. That puts it solidly in the late week range and it was fun too.

I don't respect puzzles that don't have some resistance. This one had just enough. It was a nice start with that random unknown rap entry. IMON and MIAMIHEAT gave me the start. It was steady work from there on. Along the way I had an IRAN/IRAQ write over. That was quickly followed by a QWIK/QUIK one. Next it was CHIRP/CHEEP.

I had some weird momentary mental block on SERENA. We just had that same clue and answer pairing recently too. Worst than that I couldn't remember her sister's name until this morning. Maybe I'm having a V issue .I initially thought 7A could be VOLCANOS. Wouldn't that be cool.

Only an idiot would try to look up SEMORDILNSAP in the dictionary when they finished solving. It's a good thing no one saw me do that. Plural or not PALINDROMES is still only one word.

@offthegrid, just because Z isn't here please don't feel the need to fill in for him.

Dorothy Biggs 9:21 AM  

As Saturdays go, this was on the easy side. I usually run up against some kind of brick wall made of a too-cutesy clue or a word that no one's heard before, but today, though there were a couple of words/clues that made things tough, nothing was crazy hard.

You can tell you're on the same wavelength as the constructor when you can read a misdirect clue (Weakness of note) and know exactly what they mean. Or it just means I've been doing these puzzles for too long.

To Christopher's point about some of the cluing, (clues for KIM, BEET, and EDNA, eg) I do wonder what percentage of the clues are "edited" by WS and company...and I'd like to know which ones are which. There seems to be some connective tissue from puzzle to puzzle...a sort of "puzzle personality" that I can only suspect is a reflection of the editing. It's comparable to pissing on something to claim it as one's own. I wonder how often WS just publishes a puzzle WITHOUT pissing on it? Does anyone know the answer to that? I would guess that with veteran constructors he's more hands off...but I'd be willing to bet he can't resist making a puzzle somehow his own.

This isn't to disparage WS, it's really a question of what am I solving? Whose puzzle is this really? And what percent is it the puzzle created by the credited constructor v. the editor?

Petsounds 9:24 AM  

Agree completely with OffTheGrid and Suzie Q. I usually enjoy Erik Agard's puzzles, but there were just too many reaches in this one.

QuasiMojo 9:26 AM  

PS and Happy All SOULS Day again. This time correctly. Thanks yesterday to the fella who set me straight.

mathgent 9:32 AM  

Nine of the clues are like clues in a cryptic crossword. You can guess the entry from the crosses and only then see that it fits the clue. When such a clue is clever, like "Weakness of note?" for TINEAR," I like it. Otherwise, they're just OK. They provide crunch.

Very enjoyable. Happy to learn that Jack Nicholson ad libbed that classic line. The Serena Slam made the puzzle again. Smart cluing from a couple of smart guys.

Pope Francis speaks Italian, I just learned, even though he is Argentinian. The guys tried a little too hard on that clue.

JOHN X 9:39 AM  

This puzzle was too easy for a Saturday by half.

A Saturday NYT puzzle should be merciless and painful, and should weed out the weaklings so they can stick to Wednesdays. Nobody cares what you “want to see” or the “answers you like” or “breeziness” or anything else. Either you can rise to the challenge of solving it or you can’t, and don’t blame the puzzle for gaps in your education and knowledge base. This is battle. When you put your hand in the puddle of goo that a few moments before was your best friend’s face, you should know what to do and how to solve that.

This puzzle (and review) was a waste of my considerable time and effort. I’m going to go out and find a French-Canadian hooker and slap two US$100 bills in her hand and then complain about this f***ing puzzle (and review) for thirty minutes straight, in English, and then I’m going to get up and walk away and leave her to ponder for the rest of her life whether that really actually happened yet she’ll have those two Benjamin’s staring her in the face like souvenirs until she goes and buys meth or baby formula or whatever the hell French Canadian hookers buy with their money.

Birchbark 9:51 AM  

@Unknown (9:10) -- EDNA --> Dean, Aden.

kitshef 9:57 AM  

Bad a 1A clue/answer (1A should NEVER be PPP), but the rest of the experience atoned for it.

Clue for ACTOR DIRECTOR was super.

Not quite as easy as the rest of the week, but still very MEEK for a Saturday.

I feel like 13D clue doesn't work, though possibly I'm missing something. And EDNA anagrams to DEAN, DANE and ADEN, so three men’s names.

I’ll repeat my contention that a reversible word should be an EMORDNILAP, and that SEMORDNILAP should be the plural.

U. N. Owen 10:04 AM  

What film is that Jack Nicholson line from? I stopped watching his movies after "The Cry Baby Killer."

Backyard Barney 10:09 AM  

I was curious since @ speedeweeder seems to have solid info on horseshoes. The rules read just as he says. I guess in our backyard games we felt like a shoe resting upright on the stake deserved more than one that just landed near it.

David 10:10 AM  


oopsydeb 10:10 AM  

Slow start for me this morning, maybe my mind still off after starting my day by stepping in cat poo, stepping in cat vomit, and spilling a pot of coffee. Happy Saturday.

Pretty good puzzle once I got moving. I did not remember AMILLI right away, should have. Thought there was going to be some horrible rebus or other trick to the puzzle when MIAMI HURRICANES didn't fit in 2D. I guess I don't really follow sports. Did not know you can't handle the truth was an ADLIB. Got NAOMI with no crosses and have no idea how I knew that.

Hated the EDNA clue. Could have gone with a clue for eDNA (environmental DNA). Or Ferber. Or St. Vincent Millay. Or Lewis. Or any of many other noteworthy real Ednas. Or could have gone with Krabapple (from the Simpsons) or Mode (from the Incredibles). But no...let's go with Dean/Dane anagrams.

Unknown 10:14 AM  

The middle of a bell curve is technically the mode, not the mean. :) Norm is a non-technical equivalent.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

So I had the A from ASH to begin Jack Nicholson's classic line and immediately wondered: "Could that possibly have been an ADLIB???" Don't know why such a peculiar idea flew into my mind, but I was curious enough to check the D immediately. And, sonuvagun, it was an ADLIB!!! Who woulda thunk?

That was far and away the most interesting clue/answer in the puzzle for me. I love that type of clue.

What I don't love are clues that torture grammar in order to be tricky. "Commanding lead" does not produce ACTOR'S DIRECTOR. "One commanding a lead" produces ACTOR'S DIRECTOR. I bristled at this clue. I also don't know how a DREAM DATE equals a "whirl". A person is not a whirl.

And there was already enough trivia in this puzzle not to seek out trivia-fest ways to clue innocuous words such as DEAF (42A) and BANANA (17A). I just don't understand why constructors do this.

Hard, but not especially enjoyable for me.

RooMonster 10:28 AM  

Hey All !
Found this one on the easy side of a Saturday. Would like to think I'm just getting better, but know it's not true. Show me a Games Magazine World's Most Ornery Crossword, and I'll devolve into a pile of goo.

Lots of answers I put in on faith, which turned out to be correct. Smiled at SEMORDNILAP as that gets discussed often here.

Had AC_ORDI_____ and realllly wanted ACCORDION ____. Didn't fall into the CHirP trap, as I had the wrong RtS for RDS, and had ENTER already, so CHEEP right away, letting me change to RDS.

LegIT-LICIT, DabaI-DHABI, sIfTS-RICES, doorS-STEPS, which got me to actually write in nononono for 16A, um, just to see if any of the crosses worked. Yeah, that's it.

Another stupid one-letter DNF today, pODS/CApMEN. Dang. Should've known CARMEN, duh, but ran the alphabet for RODS, and stopped at the P. Thought maybe there was a play about MEN in CApS? Har.

Good puz. The ole brain thanks the constructors for taking it easy on it.


Nancy 10:36 AM  

Please ignore my comment on the clue of ACTOR'S DIRECTOR. I was reminded on another blog that it's ACTOR-DIRECTOR -- and therefore the clue does work after all. Mea culpa. My excuse -- I had not enough sleep and my Times arrived very late -- 9:30. So I was rushing to finish the puzzle and I am very tired besides.

RavTom 10:49 AM  

Actually 3. Dane is also a man’s name.

Joe Dipinto 10:51 AM  

Both Friday and Saturday were low on the excite-o-meter this week. SEMORDNILAP is just a stupid word that a) shouldn't exist, and b) if it has to exist, shouldn't have an "s" in front. I totally agree with Chris about the "blah-blah that's an anagram of another blah-blah" clues. They're lazy and they suck. And what is the other name besides Dean in this case anyway? Dane? There was an actor named Dane Clark, but it's a pretty uncommon first name. Aden? The name is normally spelled Aidan; Aden is the city. Why am I even thinking about this?

Like Quasi, THE REST reminded me of the "Gilligan's Island" first season theme song, which dismissed the Professor and Mary Ann as such.

Without the editorial hand apparent in the cluing this might have come across better.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

FRACTAL is a property, not a shape.

Carola 10:53 AM  

Nicely challenging, with the NE a particular minefield. Add me to the CHirPers; I also had to change shaKEN to AWOKEN and my emphatic refusal from chILL ouT (I know) to I WILL NOT. Only a thorough erasing and a good look at ??KEB??S bailed me out.
Help from previous puzzles and comments: SEMORDNILAP, SERENA, IDEATE.
@kitshef, I agree with you about 1A.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

this late and no one is complaining about STENT???? it ain't a tool, any more than a nail is. the tool embedding a nail is a hammer. a STENT is a therapeutic device, embedded by a hammer (aka, scalpel). don't you yokels know anything?

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

“Amilli” is not recognizable as slang for lots of money to anyone except obscure puzzle makers and their followers. No rappers or their “songs” should ever be in a crossword puzzle.

CDilly52 11:32 AM  

I agree 100%!

Dena 11:35 AM  

Dean and Dane.

Newboy 11:44 AM  

Recalling TV images of Mexico City with ashy clouds spewing in the background, I confidently entered volcanos at 7A without noticing the spelling error....need I say more? After far too long Mrs Newboy chimed helpfully, “read the 24D clue out loud.” Ultimately Mr Happy Pencil sang, but for me today’s offering was far from easy! Great fun though frustratingly well short of a slam, SERENA or any other flavor. Thanks still for a decent tag team effort by Eric & Paollo and an engaging commentary by Christopher to get the weekend rolling.

What? 11:52 AM  

Not according to Wikipedia

Jean Beliveau 11:54 AM  

Thanks, JOHN X. Your comment was considerably more insightful and way more entertaining than the review.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Dena is an anagram of numerous names as the following men

Dane Cook
Dean Martin
Enda Walsh
Aden Young

And women

Neda Iranpour
Dena Kaplan

Would agree

jberg 12:06 PM  

I owe this solve to @Lewis, who is the only reason I even knew the word SEMORDNILAP. Actually, up to now I thought he'd made it up himself -- either way,it's a great term for an interesting concept.

This was very much to my taste, and taste is what it is -- I like clues that are a stretch, have to be parsed differently, or are used in a phrase that NORMally pertains to a different meaning of the word. That's what solving is all about. That said, I found "weakness of note" hard even with the question mark -- I spent too much time trying to think of a six-letter word for 'junk bond rating.' So it was a delight when the true meaning emerged.

I don't know why I had so much trouble thinking of LAKE BED. I knew of the lake, thought maybe it was a crater, so I put in 'volcano' (I know nothing of the geology of Kathmandu.) But it wouldn't work with O.K. -- I tried 'valId,' the saw it could be LAKE BED/LegIT' but I WILL NOT set me right.

@Christopher, nice writeup, thanks! I wonder about the whole 'recent terms for young solvers' argument. Everyone knows that young people know everything, while we old-timers have a more limited range!

jb129 12:19 PM  

I love Erik's puzzles but not this one :(

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Primo Court Jesterin, on the blog-sub job. Thanx, Mr. Adams.

NOTTOOBAD on the excite-o-meter, for this here themeless SatPuz.

Great clues for: ACTORDIRECTOR. BEET. TRE. Weird clue on the excite-o-meter, for: ELECTRICFAN. Lotsa extra neat clues, overall, in this puz -- like.
Learned or didn't remember well this stuff: AMILLI. TERRE. USTED. QUIK [should be QWIK, right?]
Hard to beat/beet a good SEMORDNILAP in yer fillins ... to lose precious nanoseconds.

staff weeject pick: RDS. Coulda gone several ways [abbr.] on its clue: STS. LNS. RTS. AVS. FWS. TPS. HWS. Well, maybe STS, at least.

Nice gangin up on us, Agard & Pasco dudes. Thanx for peggin the feisty-clue-o-meter.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

desperate & schlemeless extra credit:

RooMonster 12:38 PM  

This proves to me that @Z is a moderator, as 1) He's not here, 2) there is Major time span twixt approved posts, and 3) His posts always seem to show up instantly.

No saying that's a bad thing. Just sayin'.

44D does have an Abbr. in the clue. It says Celebs instead of Celebrities. Saturday shorthand, if you will.

RooMonster Random Observations Guy

A Moderator 12:56 PM  

@ Roo

I went out for a long walk in this beautiful NYC weather. @Z had nothing to do with the lag.

OffTheGrid 1:21 PM  

@puzzlehoarder 9:15, If my comment made you think of Z I am flattered.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

That would be Benjamins.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

I don't usually comment but I'm pretty disgusted by the people saying rap doesn't have a place in crosswords. And obscure operas and paintings from three centuries ago do? This particular song is immensely popular and has been used on many modern TV shows. Just because YOU haven't heard of it doesn't mean it shouldn't be clued. Crosswords should cater to all demographics and cultures and should span all genres. It's nice to have fresh, more modern take.

JB 2:18 PM  

And 19th c opera premieres should be?

JT 2:32 PM  

Could someone please explain 39D, Pope Francis III = Tre. Thanks.

Masked and Anonymous 2:46 PM  

@JT: yep…

Evidently, in Pope Francis's lingo, TRE means 3 (also known as III).
Sneaky, huh?

M&A Help Desk

Jmorgie 3:11 PM  

Fractal is not a shape ... its a property. fractal is med up from FRACTionAL Dimension ... it means that the size varies with one's tool used for measuring

Fred Romagnolo 3:26 PM  

@Math Gent: a majority of Argentinians are of Italian, not Spanish, stock. @Anon 9:15: I believe the basic objections to rap artists are involved with the construction of crossword puzzles; one can infer words from the CROSSES, if they are spelled normally. Rap artists purposely create non-normal spellings of their names and albums, thus defeating the idea.

pmdm 3:27 PM  

I found this puzzle easier than most Saturday puzzles, but that hardly means I found it easy. I also thought a lot of Agard's entries smelled of garbage to me, as per usual. But that reflects my personal dislike for the type of cool slang that probablt won't be around in 100 years. I don't believe Erik's puzzles will stand the test of time. Doesn't make them bad, it only make them distasteful to me.

I came here expecting to read a rant from Mr. Sharp about the presence of KIM in the puzzle. I'm rarely annoyed when a come across an entry that seems to be a downer for many people. For some reason, this one annoyed me..

leah712 3:44 PM  

I was just telling my sister that she is the only person who uses the expression HEN PARTY and nobody else knows what it means, then it turns up in the crossword.

DigitalDan 3:56 PM  

These can't be very much fun to do at 3:53.

Brandon 4:09 PM  

Get off my lawn!!!

Geezer 4:10 PM  

OK but there's no there, there. Where's the joke? the fun?

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

It's not "embedded by a hammer". It's guided into place with a catheter.

Anonymous 4:56 PM  


it's a metaphor; ya know - tool and object? not as gooey as a petitfour, of course.

AW 5:40 PM  

Agree with you wholeheartedly. I've always had trouble with Agard's cluing because it's too clever for its own good. "Labelers" are machines used to make labels. They don't show you anything. The label tells you what's what, or maybe it doesn't as when it simply tells you the price of something. And something DOMED is "roundED up." That clue is stretched to the breaking point as are too many others for the puzzle to feel fair.

ncmathsadist 5:56 PM  

It's "mean", not "norm". Norm is something else.

Anoa Bob 6:59 PM  

A sine qua non quality of the Bell-Shaped Curve is that all three measures of central tendency---the mean, median and mode---fall at the same point or value in the distribution of scores under the Curve. NORM (30A) is something I would expect to see in a discussion of social expectations, folkways, mores, etc.

I'm always a little disappointed when significant grid space is taken up by casual conversational snippets such as I WILL NOT, COME AT ME, & NOT TOO BAD. Yawn.

IN LEAGUE sure looks like an eight-letter partial to me, i.e., without the "with" added on, it's doesn't sound like a stand alone phrase. From the New York Times Specification Sheet at "Do not use partial phrases longer than five letters".

If you are unfamiliar with FRACTAL art, you might want to check it out. Here's an example (safe for all situations and ages).

File as fog 7:44 PM  

I liked the puzzle, learned the word SEMORDNILAP (not even iOS knows that one), and found out that Nicholson’s famous line was an AD LIB, so a good day’s puzzling for me. I was briefly bamboozled by 45A though. When I read “Woman’s name that’s an anagram of two men’s names”, my brain had me trying to find two different 2-letter men’s names. Strangely though, EDNA (with no crosses to help) popped immediately into my head.

Joe Dipinto 10:25 PM  

@Anoa Bob – I think you're right about IN LEAGUE. I hadn't noticed that.

Z 11:01 PM  

Fractals - “Pattern” is close enough to “shape” for crosswords. IMHO.

It’s called a NORMal curve for a reason.

@Roo - That’s some mighty fine detecting. But really, I’m Rex. You must have forgotten.

Good to see so many people missed me. I was not going to comment but just posting something as fact always makes me want to check on it to see. The number of times assertions are just flat out erroneous always amazes me. At least the FRACTAL assertion is arguable.

Flybal 11:08 AM  

Took me 2 days @ 2hrs agree with previous post

a.corn 12:49 AM  

Shut up boomer! (This is a meme, pls let it through)

OlyL 1:58 PM  

Well, I’m always become depressed when people discuss how easy a puzzle is. And I’m often amazed that the “professors” have a hard time with puzzles that I find easy, or at least know a lot of stuff they don’t know. But that’s neither here nor there. What I want to talk about is the state of my eyes which look at a grid and can’t decipher the numbers. I plunked “strains” right into 28 across (I was trying to answer 23 across) and was flummoxed in the NW for some time. I thought semordnilap was just the constructors throwing in a gratuitous Thursday answer and had trouble with the plural. Even now, the word is underlined in red as if it were spelled wrong. I kept trying to figure out what two men’s names were used to form Edna: Ed and An; Ad and En? Or wasting my time trying to fit Al in somehow. I tried to put México City in a volcano or caldera. Apparently, don’t know my geography. Oh, well, I get to try again next week.

spacecraft 12:20 PM  

Got it, somehow, but the NE was a bear. Had LegIT before LICIT, and (one of many) CHirP before CHEEP. But see, I did know that was gonna be a bird sound, as opposed to Twitter. Sometimes misdirects are obvious.

Started out with a groan: you're gonna hit me with a rap clue at 1a? Of course, I didn't know it but luckily crosses took care of it. Agree on the BEET/BEAT thing. SERENA would be my DREAMDATE: DOD. NOTTOOBAD: par.

Burma Shave 12:25 PM  




rondo 12:35 PM  

Another hand up for the CHirP/CHEEP trick. And my after dinner offering was a Tip before TEA. THREST was clean, all in a QUIK 25 minutes. Doesn't QUIK give you chocolate milk? NAOMI Watts, yeah baby. So IMON record as saying this puz was NOTTOOBAD.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

From Syndication Land

I was excited to see horseshoes referenced in the puzzle today. I have been a life-long horseshoe player and never seen it in a crossword puzzle. When I got to the answer I couldn't believe the NYT had a mistake! A leaner is worth two points! Now I learn that I have been playing by "alternative" rules my whole life.

rainforest 4:21 PM  

Entertaining puzzle today. Many devious clues, including the St. Francis one which needed an apostrophe in my opinion, but OK.

When SEMORDNILAP appeared, I immediately thought of @Lewis who frequently uses that word and I had always thought he coined it.

It was neat to see how getting a number of the shorter entries helped to nail down the longer ones. Two of my early entries were EGO and RESET, which helped get BEAT POET, as an example,

The toughest section by far was the NE where I had to give up CHirP and LegIT, and eventually understand why eLECTICiAN wasn't working, even though it made no sense. I didn't know AMILLI (nor Lil Wayne) but fair crosses did the job there.
Fun puzzle.

leftcoaster 4:49 PM  

Found the West easier than the East, especially (as has been noted by others) the NE. Didn't get out of there without a couple of look-ups, aka cheats. Enjoyed it nonetheless.

spacecraft 8:00 PM  

A LEANER really has no meaning in horseshoes; a ringer is 3; anything else is closest to peg for 1 point. In quoits, however, a LEANER is indeed worth two points.

rondo 8:03 PM  

I guess INLEAGUE play you only get one point for a LEANER, backyard it's two.

Diana, LIW 9:13 PM  

Not sooooooooooooo easy, but lotsa fun. Just two little "helps" to finish. I was sure the PALINDROME was wrong - wrong...I was right!

Diana, LIW

i heart crosswords 4:40 AM  

[56d.Cardiologist's favorite vegetable?] Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery, a.k.a. CABG and pronounced “CABBAGE.” It is also known as heart bypass surgery.

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