Baking entrepreneur Wally / SAT 12-28-19 / Where hands go in Time Warp / Bronze Age chronicle / Number of sides on PARE road sign / Ingredient in John Daly cocktail / Annexed land of 2014

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy (6:03, just after a two-hour nap)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: LETHE (39A: One of the five rivers of HADES) —
Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, is one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld; the other four are Acheron (the river of sorrow), Cocytus (the river of lamentation), Phlegethon (the river of fire) and Styx (the river that separates Earth and the Underworld). According to Statius, it bordered Elysium, the final resting place of the virtuous. Ovid wrote that the river flowed through the cave of Hypnos, god of sleep, where its murmuring would induce drowsiness.
The shades of the dead were required to drink the waters of the Lethe in order to forget their earthly life. In the AeneidVirgil (VI.703-751) writes that it is only when the dead have had their memories erased by the Lethe that they may be reincarnated. (wikipedia)
• • •

What a lovely way to end the Themeless Year—with a sparkling, smooth Saturday by Robyn Weintraub, who ... well, I don't give an "NYTXW Constructor of the Year" award, but if I did, it would be hard to beat her. This year she became one of a small handful of names I most look forward to seeing on the byline. Her themelesses are generally chock full of lively expressions, and mercifully free of obscurities and junk, and today's was no exception. Always helps my disposition toward a puzzle when 1-Across is a gimme, but it's especially nice when that answer is also delightful. I had "Let's! Do! the Time! Warp! Agaaaaain" in my head the entire solve. Maybe it helped my speed, I don't know. It definitely helped my mood. So fun to figure out OCHO (off of SO-SO) and then drop I CAN RELATE and PHONED IT IN right next to each other, bam bam. Great phrases! Colloquial, in-the-language, right on the money. RED HOT answers that HIT THE SPOT! Speaking of HIT THE SPOT, that's where I hit my first (and only) wall: I threw that answer Across, figuring I'd be off to the races, doing a quick clockwise lap around the grid, when ... nothing. Well, IMPS, and then nothing. My passage to the NE and other points E, blocked! With hands figuratively in prayer position, I returned the abundance of answers I had in the far west and tried to work from there, and once again, whoosh, off I went.

No idea how I got HASN'T A CLUE (with its ... quaintish phrasing?) off of just HAS-, but I did (27D: Is thick). Thought 38D: Speeds through the Downs, say had something to do with crosswords (nice clue, whoever's responsible!)*, but after a cross or two, I got GALLOPS. And here is where I both hurt and helped myself. I saw the HADES clue, which was a cross-reference, and when I saw the cross-referenced clue (39A: One of the five rivers of 56-Across), I knew I was dealing with the Underworld. Sadly, though, my brain hiccuped and instead of thinking the river was the 5-letter answer at 39-Across, I imagined it was the 4-letter answer at 36-Across ... and so I wrote in STYX (!??!!) in ET TU's place while leaving the LETHE place blank. *River of Forgetfulness Indeed!* Oy. Such a stupid self-inflicted wound. Quickly fixed, but still, ugh. And the wildly wrong and wrongly-placed STYX had me wanting something like "EXTRA EXTRA" at 33D: Juicy news alert ("GUESS WHAT?"), which wouldn't fit, but that "X" from STYX was still Very convincing. Anyway, I left STYX just sitting there, and once I came crashing back across the grid from the SW to the SE, STYX got washed away quickly. Approaching the NE from the bottom (as opposed to from the west) made All the difference. Went right through it like it was the easiest thing in the world. Weird how your approach angle can drastically affect the relative difficulty of a section. Wrapped things up with LOSES SLEEP, the clue for which I weirdly ... never looked at? Sometimes when you're racing, weird things happen. I finished it off, safely and happily, which is all that matters. Loads of fun.

Five things:
  • 34A: Some framing supplies (MATS) — somehow always thought this was spelled MATTES, but that's a different art term, it seems
  • 50A: Less efficient washers (TOP LOADERS) — well now I feel inadequate. Honey, we need to go appliance shopping...
  • 55A: "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" singer, 1959 (ANKA) — not too far off the mark to say that ANKA was the difference between an average and a fast solve. That "K" was incredibly valuable, allowing me to see ON THE ROCKS, which was pretty effectively hidden behind the vague [Not neat] clue.
  • 54A: Last word in the first verse of "Old Mother Hubbard" (NONE) — I wrote in BONE. Apparently I don't know where the "verse" breaks are.
  • 42A: Form of relief (ALMS) — had the "A," wrote in ALOE ... and the "L" was right, too! CRIMEA really saved my skin, there (35D: Annexed land of 2014)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*"Downs" is just archaic for "hills," and for some reason (perhaps following Epsom Downs in England), it became conventional in the U.S. to put the term into racetrack names (e.g. Churchill Downs) whether there were any hills around or not. There are "___ Downs" racing venues all over the country, including Presque Isle Downs in the crossword capital of America: ERIE, PA.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:21 AM  

Easy-medium with the NE the toughest section. A fine Sat. with loads of sparkle, liked it a bunch. Agree with Rex on this one.

Colbert currently has a running segment that’s a take off on JAMES and The Giant Peach.

Phil 12:22 AM  

Remember the BARRACUDA. I did unfortunately but was easy to correct.

My grid was blank for the longest...until the SE gave me a foothold.

Not fast but satisfying to solve

puzzlehoarder 12:53 AM  

It's bad enough that we get another effortless late week puzzle. What made it even worse was dnfing on that effing 54D. DBA made no sense but I thought maybe it was an acronym for an anabolic steroid. Doesn't Mother Hubbard go to the cupboard do get her damn dog a BONE?

No wonder I'm finding the NYT's spelling bee game much more interesting of late. No too cute by half clues, no puns, no dad jokes.

Other than that BONEheaded mistake this took all of a minute and twenty seconds longer than yesterday's pushover.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

The STINGRAY isn’t an old sports car. They still make them!

okanaganer 1:46 AM  

Confidently typed BARRACUDA for the old sports cars named after a fish. Wrong cuz non plural, but classic.

HOLOGRAMS. I actually made one, in 3rd year physics class in 1979. Dark room, a big and very heavy table to prevent vibrations, a piece of black and white photographic film, and laser beams and mirrors everywhere. It worked and I had a hologram of a chess knight on what looks like a normal photo slide. (Actually I still have it, but I need a Helium-Neon laser to view it.) Pretty neat!

It's embarrassing how long I had CARPS for "They're raised on a farm". Which made the last word NOPE for "Old Mother Hubbard" verse.

Tom R 1:49 AM  

23A is really lame. To get into a PhD program you may need a good score on the GRE, but letters that often precede a PhD? C'mon, man!

albatross shell 1:52 AM  

Fun solve, fine puzzle. Did not like it quite as much as Rex, but near enough. I mean puzzle of the year? I enjoy his enthusiasm.
I got started on the SW with TOPLOADERS and ONE UP. GALLOPed on from there. Crept anyhow. Many of the longs came quickly. BARN slow FRAT slower. COMMA slowest. NE WAS a pain. Adventures everywhere. Rex hit many of the highs. Still do not understand how he put a 4 letter answer in a 5 letter space. Did I miss something?

Fish cars? STINGRAYS baracudas and ?

chefwen 2:06 AM  

Gave off a little squeal of delight when I saw Robyn’s name at the top of the puzzle I just printed, and thought “this is going to be fun” and it was.

Really wanted Barracudas for 37A, but 1D insisted that it started with an S. STINGRAYS was slow in coming, but it finally did.

Not fond of the clue for 46 D, those type of clues really irk me for some reason.

Other than that little nit, this one HIT THE SPOT. Thank you, Robyn.

Brian 2:32 AM  

Delightful puzzle. An easy solve for a Saturday that was elegant and balanced. Cluing was sharp and smart.

Lewis 6:31 AM  

Robyn is a zing-meister, with effervescence in both cluing and grid entries. I marked 10 answers and seven clues today that HIT THE SPOT -- that lively place that draws a smile and/or sparks a lift. Her puzzles shimmer with vitality, a product of talent and magic. She is a treasure of Crossworld.

I liked that HADES was at the puzzle's lowest point and CORE smack dab in the middle. Whenever I see the word LETHE, my brain fills in "good times roll".

And good times did roll, as usual, with another Weintraub spree. Many thanks, Robyn!

GILL I. 6:39 AM  

Well I have no idea what a Time Warp dance is but HIPS found its place right then and there. The clue for OCHO didn't fool me and then bam....the downs sorta flew in. Sometimes I have to be careful because I get all cocky. This time, my cockiness helped.
The TSHIRT SPICY PATE SST little corner slid in like a good Cutty Sark ON THE ROCKS. Fun. Only little head scratcher was coming up with ILIAD and the great clue for COMMA. Isn't the clue for Bratlings cute in an IMPS sorta way?
Wanted BOURBON for 9 D because I have no idea what John Daly drinks. Some people say Ice Tea without the D. Is something delish added to that ICED TEA?
Anyway, this took less than an hour and for all my good work, I had a DNF. Evidently Roald Dahl has a character titled DAMES. And my body builder is DBA (Doing business As).... No matter - I'm proud that I didn't have to Google.
Yes, Robyn brings on the smiles.

kitshef 7:31 AM  

Agree with Rex this was pretty easy, but completely disagree on the fill. Too much I CAN RELATE, PHONED IT IN, HIT THE SPOT, MAKES DO yawn-fest answers. Almost all the long answers are demon dull. Exceptions are HOLOGRAMS and STINGRAYS, and maybe TOPLOADERS which feels like a retronym. Before there were front loaders, they would have been just washing machines, wouldn't they?

Rivers of Hades can mostly be inferred by the length. The exceptions are Acheron and Cocytus, both seven letters. But I suspect it'll be along time before we see Cocytus in a puzzle due to unfriendly letters. If you have a seven-letter answer, Acheron is much more likely.

kitshef 7:35 AM  

Oh, and I did like CRIMEA and ODESSA pairing.

kitshef 7:39 AM  

@GILL I. - In Rex's writeup he has a video of the Time Warp. My first exposure to Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry.

Conrad 7:41 AM  

Personal Record for me. And that's remarkable because once, many Saturdays ago, I solved on paper and copied from paper to the app to maintain my streak. So today's time is the best I can ever do for any 15x15 puzzle.

John H 8:14 AM  

LOVED IT! Lots of food related stuff, just fun. I love that Rocky Horror is still a thing (1 A, Time Warp). The only flaws (for me) were Odessa and Crimea. Not that they are bade entries, they just made me a little sad to see contemporary evil in an otherwise very jolly solve.

ez 8:19 AM  

When she got there, the cupboard was bare, and so her poor dog had none.

QuasiMojo 8:23 AM  

Excellent puzzle if a smidge easier than a traditional Saturday but how nice not to find dreck or gunk and no junk. I must have seen Rocky Horror a dozen or more times but I couldn't recall where my hands went! Lol. We used to lie on the floor in the movie theater when taking in Rocky Horror at the midnight showings. So doing the Time Warp proved difficult.

I wonder if ANKA ever recorded "CRIMEA River."

Teedmn 9:03 AM  

I couldn't think where to put my hands for 1A, and I wasn't sure what 5A units (DOZS? Abbr. for batch?) the baker was using today, so I splatzed in ILIAD and started from the NE.

My FLOW came to a halt at NONE crossing CEOS (I put in "bare" first, not bothering to finish the nursery rhyme until BARNS didn't work) so I restarted up at the top, getting TSHIRT off the H. Lots of menu cautions these days (6A), with notes about MSG or gluten all over the place.

By the time I was halfway done with this, I was pretty sure I was in the middle of a Robyn Weintraub puzzle, so seeing her name at the top was no surprise at all. Nice and smooth, as always, but easy for a Saturday. Thanks, Robyn.

Hobbyist 9:34 AM  

Please explain 45 down??

JC66 9:37 AM  


Texting alternative: On The Other Hand.

Nancy 9:39 AM  

There wasn't a single moment in my solving experience today when I wasn't completely engrossed and captivated. It HIT THE SPOT in every way -- with superb cluing and sparkling, non-proper-name fill. Nor did I GALLOP through the Downs or anywhere else; I found it challenging throughout. Especially in the SW, where...

I had ??MS for "Form of relief", and confidently wrote in TUMS instead of ALMS. This bollixed up that section completely, by preventing me from seeing HASN'T A CLUE.

For the "juicy news alert" I was looking for something like "This just in". Imagine my surprise when GUESS WHAT turned out to be the answer. I suppose that my news or your news can be just as juicy as CBS's news.

Innocent question: What's wrong with a TOP LOADER? I know about as much about the fine points of washing machines as I know about car makes and models.

My favorite answer was PHONED IT IN and the subtle way it was clued. I'm patting myself on the back for getting it off just the PH.

Had a terrific time with this one. Great job, Robyn.

RooMonster 9:41 AM  

Hey All !
Well, glad y'all thought this was easy. For me, this puz put the ole brain ON NOTICE. Tough one here, I'm beginning to think it's all psychological, though, as my thought process is, "Another SatPuz, gonna be a toughie". And even if it plays easy for the rest of ya, it's still tough for me.

Anyway, my complaining aside, did enjoy some of the what I like to call "third meaning" clues. Example, Uncommon notes for TWOS.

That fish car clue, first wrote in AMC Marlin, I'm probably the only one who thought of that one. It's a rare car, made in 1965-1966-1967. And it jived with the R in CRIMEA! But, after stalling out, I hit the Check Puzzle button, and saw it was wrong. Them wanted barracuda like a bunch of ya, but didn't work with the R. STINGRAYS, bah! Technically correct as a car name, but really just a sub-name for the Corvette.

Originally had nOrA for RONA. Har, correct name, dyslexic entering. Also wanted ingA for a bit (ginA).

Evil clue on COMMA. Wracking the brain trying to think of the characters in Monsters, Inc. That wasn't fair! 😃

Gotta GALLOP away. See ya.

RED HOT CASH FLOW (if only...)

SouthsideJohnny 9:45 AM  

Agree that the generic type of clue for 46D (RONA) makes the NYT look silly. They were probably cute the first half-dozen times that they tried it, but now they are so convoluted and annoying that they should, as a class, be put out to pasture.

The rest of it is remarkably clean and sparkling. The cartoon character clue was a nice bit of wordplay (COMMA) - not so much for the baking dude (Wally AMOS ?).

Can someone explain the clue for 21D (TWOS) - “uncommon notes” ? Is it a musical reference - maybe it breaks up the tempo or something like that.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:50 AM  

Is there more than one verse to Old Mother Hubbard?

JC66 9:56 AM  


$2 bills.

Carola 9:58 AM  

All I want in a Saturday: tough to finish, replete with aah so satisfying answers. As I’m still trying to metabolize the brain-addling opioid painkiller that got me through the night, progress was very slow until the senator’s censure CAME ALONG, which with the adjacent LETHE provided the footing I needed to press onward. Last in: the HITS-OCHO area. Double definition: ON THE ROCKS = ON NOT ICE.

Do-overs: “It’s a” plan, totS before IMPS. No idea: HIPS, AMOS. Can’t believe: I got caught by COMMA.

@Tom R 1:49 - I know! Except, it’s Saturday.
@chefwen 2:06 re 46D - My feelings exactly.

BobL 9:59 AM  

Neat puzzle.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

I think it may refer to TWO-dollar bills, @Southside Johnny.

Good question, @Greater Fall River Committee. I think you may be right.

@GILL wanted BOURBON for the John Daly drink ingredient. I hadn't picked my poison yet, but I certainly wanted something with more zip than ICED TEA. As I remember John Daly, he was sort of shaped like a TOP LOADER washing machine, and I would have thought that one ingredient in any drink named after him might have been beer.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

@Greater Fall etc. - LMGTFY.

leah712 10:09 AM  

Came to the blog to see if anyone else wanted barracuda, and wasn't disappointed. Thanks, Rexites! My parents had a red Barracuda sometime in the 60's, very cool for a family car. I was initially insulted on behalf of my Kenmore TOPLOADER, which does a fine job washing my clothes efficiently, but I guess the new front-loaders use less water, so in that sense they are more efficient.

peacelovewoodstock 10:14 AM  

I'm with @Nancy, what's "less efficient" about top loaders? We have purchased two washing machines recently, both top loaders, both at least as efficient as any front loader (based on EPA energy ratings); both are also quite efficient at removing dirt from clothing.

A better (and perhaps tougher) clue would be just "Washers"

Rastaman Vibration 10:20 AM  

@Nancy Front loading washers use less water (although they may use more electricity). They are designed so that net-net, they are in total more energy-efficient. One trade-off is that the front loaders may be a tad rougher on more delicate fabrics.

Someone pointed out that Chevrolet still produces Corvette Stingrays, so the clue for 37A is borderline bogus (especially since an accurate answer exists - the Plymouth Barracuda, which was discontinued in 1974). It’s surprising how many inaccuracies have slipped by the editorial staff this holiday season. They really should have a meeting to discuss upholding their standards.

I just recently learned about “ice coring” in the Antarctica. It turns out, if you drill down far enough there is an entire river-based ecosystem below the ice cap. The exploration crew was careful to sterilize all of their equipment so as not to introduce any pathogens while they were collecting samples. Apparently, the DNA from whatever lifeforms they gathered is currently being examined and mapped as well.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Nice puzzle, but I really don’t like the self-referential clues like 16D.

Richardf8 10:22 AM  

And that is the second verse.
Bone is the correct answer to the clue.

Blade 10:30 AM  

2 -Dollar bills (notes) are uncommon.

Hungry Mother 10:40 AM  

Had dOTS for a while, but fixed it. Usual Saturday slog for me, but good wordplay.

mathgent 10:42 AM  

Jeff Chen invariably praises Robyn Weintraub as a constructor but this is her first work that I thought was outstanding. Really great, IMHO.

Lots of sparkle, lots of crunch, no junk, only six Terrible Threes.

Very hard for me. I was stuck on the bottom and called in The Closer (my wife). She got TOPLOADERS to seal the victory.

When I said no junk, I was forgetting ASST. That and its clunky clue.

When I was in Spain, I didn’t notice the stop signs. I didn’t know pare means stop. Fantastic clue.

Happy to learn that the Trojan War was at the end of the Bronze Age.

Nancy 10:44 AM  

@Carola (9:58)-- You slipped that in so subtly that I imagine many, if not most here missed it completely. Please accept my deepest sympathy for whatever pain you're experiencing that made it necessary to use such a strong painkiller to get you through the night. I hope you make a quick and full recovery from whatever it is that's currently plaguing you.

Z 10:45 AM  

Well, this is just embarrassing. Solved building out of the SE, had everything but the NW done easily. Then just stuck. Walked away, fed the dogs, called the vet, made some more coffee, sat down and wrote in HIPS without even a half-nanosecond of thought. D'Oh slap resounded. I blame the mescaline.

Only writeovers for me were dRY and mas -> GRE (@Tom R - Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you), so nothing much really fooled me. Did consider mailEd IT IN, but mostly was right with my first ideas. CASH FLOW was my first entry, and built fairly seamlessly from there. What Rex said about the angle of attack. Having OCKS in place meant seeing through the alcoholic "neat" clue was easy. Having LE-P made LOSES SLEEP easy. Likewise, having St. MARYS in place precluded the barracuda trap.

@albatross shell - Maybe I missed it, but I think Rex just said constructor of the year, not puzzle of the year.

@Roo - Hand up for having COMM- in place before I realized I didn't need to remember any character names.

@Nancy - Regarding TOP LOADERS, nothing wrong with them, they are just less energy and water efficient than front loaders.

xyz 10:52 AM  

Mixed Bag.

Some stupidly easy fill (LUSH,SPAS,APED, TSPS),some odd crosses in each section, the SW held me off as I was off on a tangent and missing the rotefill.

A decent but hardly great puzzle but Rex got off on it and this space is his. HUZZAH.

Another year's end, but real progress. I'll likely always struggle with Bible, Yiddish, Hell and Myths old and new (on film) so when it gets to Saturday, there is knee-jerk stuff that just isn't for me and I struggle (Not peculiarly almost all have a Fairy Tale character) - just as with my JEOPARDY! weak areas. So be it, it DOES NOT! make a puzzle bad.

I've long been involved in rating and ranking top golf courses and when one fits your skillset and is in your wheelhouse -dare I say - "HITSTHESPOT - one needs to look harder if what one just saw/did was truly good or pleasant/comforting - fitting your tastes for you rather than overall quality. Rex ought to think about that duality.

PhiskPhan 10:53 AM  

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the Cupboard,
To give the poor Dog a bone;
When she came there,
The Cupboard was bare,
And so the poor Dog had none.

The clue said LAST word in the verse, so "none" is correct.

Newboy 10:56 AM  

LETHE and HADES indeed describe my solve. Rocky Horror tune was an ear worm without words. And 14a & 31a are wonderful misdirects as are 1d &21d. Had to go to Southeast’s corner & work diagonally back up to that wickedly wonderful northwest. Finally got RED HOT and a happy tune on that UNCOMMON NOTE. Thanks for a chance to use my brain before it gets mushy with bowl game overload. Robyn, your puzzle really HIT THE SPOT. Now to Rex, et alii for the jewels I’m sure I missed.

TJS 10:58 AM  

I had a great time with this puzzle. I never noticed constructors names in 60 plus years of puzzling, but since discovering this site, I am now aware of which creators consistently provide a satisfying test. My reaction to this one is right in line with @Nancy and others. Great cluing requiring some mind-melding with Ms. Weintraub's approach, and equally great fill.

Trying to figure out if Rex started his nap at 4 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon.

amyyanni 11:15 AM  

Aloe instead of ALMS slowed my gallop to a stroll, and a lovely one it was.

Carola 11:19 AM  

@Nancy, thank you for the cheering good wishes!

Z 11:25 AM  

Lit2Go agrees with the clue.

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker’s
To buy him some bread;
And when she came back,
The poor dog was dead.

She went to the joiner’s
To buy him a coffin;
And when she came back,
The doggy was laughin’.

She went to the butcher’s
To buy him some tripe;
And when she came back,
He was smoking his pipe.

She went to the hatter’s
To buy him a hat;
And when she came back,
He was feeding the cat.

She went to the barber’s
To buy him a wig;
And when she came back,
He was dancing a jig.

She went to the tailor’s
To buy him a coat;
And when she came back,
He was riding a goat.

She went to the cobbler’s
To buy him some shoes;
And when she came back,
He was reading the news.

One might notice the ABCB rhyme scheme in each verse, if one can be convinced that bONE and NONE once rhymed.

@Nancy - Knowing that an Arnold Palmer is ICED TEA and lemonade helped me. A John Daly apparently is an Arnold Palmer with vodka.

@peacelovewoodstock and @leah712 - I think TOP LOADERS have caught up on energy efficiency, at least occasionally, but front loaders still win on water efficiency. Initially, the higher cost of front loaders ate up any energy/water use savings. The costs are much closer now, though. The big seller for me is that front loaders are far quieter. Manufacturers seem to be constantly improving these products, though, so it's really hard to say either is better than the other.

@Rastaman Vibration - I don't think "still" is accurate. GM is making a new version of the Corvette STINGRAY, with nothing named that from 1968 until the 2014 model year. More of a "reboot" as opposed to "still" making them. More importantly, are there "old sports cars named for a fish" called STINGRAYS?

@TJS - You're probably just jesting, but the bottom of each post lists when Rex published. Usually midnight like this one, but you can see when he does an early morning solve.

Swagomatic 11:27 AM  

Good puzzle. I had many of Rex's same mistakes, except slower. I give this one two pencils up.

Newboy 11:29 AM  

Have to pop back for a tribute to posters kudos: @Lewis, “HADES was at the puzzle's lowest point and CORE smack dab in the middle. Whenever I see the word LETHE, my brain fills in "good times roll” is a wonderful observation. And a tip of the hat to @QuasiMojo’s musing, “wonder if ANKA ever recorded "CRIMEA River." Laisser les bons temps rouler indeed! all youze guys are great 👍🏼

anon 11:34 AM  

Richardf8 - Nope. Look it up.

Joe Dipinto 11:42 AM  

Bernie says we sue, we sue
Bernie says we sign...we sign
On the dotted line.

– "My Attorney Bernie", Dave Frishberg

Not getting all the love for this. Like @kitshef, I thought the fill was mostly dullsville, with even duller cluing.

I notice Shortz has taken to using those ridiculous 46d-type clues when the name in the grid has a dearth of famous people it can be attached to.

Suzie Q 11:43 AM  

What a gift this puzzle was. Nearly every single clue or answer had something fun and clever. Thank you Robyn.

TJS 11:43 AM  

@Z, just caught up with your latest ex-cathedra pronouncement from yesterday:

" If you’re not reading great graphic novels you have a fairly large cultural literacy hole. "

I for one, spent untold hours filling that cultural hole. Then I turned twelve.

Language Sleuth 11:46 AM  

Some sloppy cluing. 14A, PARE should be pare. You don't capitalize stop. It's a stop sign or a pare (whatever is Sp for sign). Forewarn? NO NO NO NO . It's just "warn". You can't warn someone afterwards. I don't care that it's a real word. It's wrong.

Masked and Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Very nice themeless opuz. Great fillins, plus clues with 'tude.

Been too long since I saw "Rocky Horror Picture Show", I reckon. 1-A on top of that PARE thingy was a too-tough startup. M&A had to start out in the TSPS/TSHIRT bleacher seats.

ONTHEROCKS was kinda a nice echo of the 1-A flick. Also really liked PHONEDITIN & GUESSWHAT.

staff weeject pick; DRS. Plural abbreve meat. Also, wanted DRY humor before WRY humor, sacrificin precious nanoseconds. Also2, that DNA clue was kinda feisty. So, only six weejects, but they got into the fight nicely.

Thanx for the medium-difficulty, high-quality fun, Ms. Weintraub darlin.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


jb129 11:54 AM  

Wow! I haven't (I don't think EVER) struggled with a "Robyn" puzzle (yes, it's a Saturday but I was so happy to to see her name today especially after some of the entries of late). I had to cheat but what a delight! Thank you Robyn, & I agree with Rex's nomination (along with another - lol - guess who?)

Sporty fish 12:11 PM  

Hands up for BARRACUDA, and, like Rex and STYX, I just stubbornly kept it in place for way too long. Am I missing something on GRE? I thought it stood for Graduate Record Exam, and if that’s the case I suppose that SAT or ACT could just as well be the answer. Minor nit there and thought the puzzle was very enjoyable.

@Gill.I, I was surprised to see that you weren’t familiar with Rocky Horror. Also, as someone above said, it was my first exposure to Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon. Barry Bostwick (Brad) later played George Washington (I think in a mini-series). Then of course there was Meatloaf.

@Nancy, @Z,s second post was right. The top loaders are improving with water efficiency. When my HE front loader went belly up this year I did a lot of research. Frontloaders tend to develop an odor if you don’t “clean” them and air them out well. I opted for an HE front loader this time, because “they” say they are better at stain removal and you needn’t worry about the odor. As Z IS louder.

Buffy the Vamp 12:13 PM  

@LS - i agree that the best case scenario is that “warn” and “forewarn” are synonymous, although some may argue that there is a slightly discernible difference in that one may be warned, for example, to take cover while a storm is actually occurring (which may stray a bit from the connotation of “forewarned”). In any event, the argument that “forewarned” as clued is inaccurate due to personal preference is uncompelling.

Similarly, I’ve never seen a STOP sign, or a PARE sign for that matter without the capitalization. Hard to argue, in my view, that the clue is out of bounds.

Now, 46D on the other hand, while technically acceptable, is so foolish that it should be stricken just based on common courtesy toward the solver. However, that is also (my) personal preference, and I concede that for taste there is no argument.

jberg 12:15 PM  

Like @Nancy, I was getting my relief from tuMS, which blocked the whole SW, except for HADES. I had to take our dog to the boarders and come back before I saw that ALMS/GALLOP would work.

Until I was ten or so, my family had a TOP LOADER with a wringer (since there was no spin cycle) and an extra tub to save the soapy water so that you could use it again for the next load. Now THAT was efficient.

I don’t believe the US, or most other countries, accept the annexation of CRIMEA. Maybe this puzzle was edited by a Russian bot.

jb129 12:49 PM  

puzzlehoarder @ 12:53 AM!

If you're still here - I agree - I enjoy Spelling Bee more than the puzzles - wish they'd publish a book of them for ordering.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

There is no comma in Monsters Inc. Is there a character in the movie called Comma?

albatross shell 1:16 PM  

I missed. It was constructor.

The clue for GRE is "Letters that often precede a Ph.D." That 'a' is important. Precede as comes before in time. Clever tricky accurate.

@TJS 1143am
I watched a lot of cartoons growing up. Some of them hold up pretty well. But even if they all did not, it certainly doesn't mean I should never bother watching any animated films or that they all are children's entertainment. You can do what you like of course.

@anon 1253 pm
There is a comma in the clue and the movie title.

bucktail 1:47 PM  

Used up one entire eraser. HARD for the old Bucktail!

Z 1:54 PM  

@Language Sleuth and @Buffy the Vamp - ON NOTICE pretty much encapsulates the difference between “warn” and “forewarned.” When I yell “Heads Up!” to the people on the sideline who aren’t paying attention to the game I warn them. When I tell spectators to pay attention because the disc sometimes leaves the field of play I forewarn them, i.e. warn them before an imminent danger. Granted, one can reasonably use “warn” when “forewarn” is appropriate, but when the disc/baseball/golf ball/Mack Truck is about to hit you “warn” is the right word.

@TJS - Shockingly, artists are not bound by people who choose to remain ignorant of huge swaths of creative endeavor. Universities have courses about them, movies and Broadway plays are adapted from them, Forbes (yes, that Forbes) among others publishes a Best of List. The difference between what you read as a youth and modern graphic novels is akin to the difference between, say and Wallace Stevens’ The Man with the Blue Guitar

Is this picture of Picasso's, this 'hoard
Of destructions', a picture of ourselves,

Now, an image of our society?
Do I sit, deformed, a naked egg,

Catching at Good-bye, harvest moon,
Without seeing the harvest or the moon?

Things as they are have been destroyed.
Have I? Am I a man that is dead

At a table on which the food is cold?
Is my thought a memory, not alive?

Is the spot on the floor, there, wine or blood
And whichever it may be, is it mine?

(Huh - 1937. So not commentary on our current state of affairs?)(No, I don’t know why the old gray matter meandered from yesterday’s clue to Wallace Stevens. I blame the mescaline)

Three and out.

Z 1:57 PM  

*Oops - messed up the html, that should read:
between, say, Old Mother Hubbard and Wallace Stevens’...

Hungry Mother 2:00 PM  

As a teetotaler who drinks Arnold Palmers, I am occasionally offered a John Daley.

TJB 2:13 PM  

I enjoyed it. The clue for 36 across was nice.

Rube 2:23 PM  

For RONA, could have improved so much by going with San Francisco treat and belt material as cross clues and changing RONA to RONI. So easy to find improvements like this because cluing is often subpar.

Chris 2:58 PM  

I had BARRACUDA also with last letter A fitting WONKA for the Roald title character. But that was the movie. The book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Oh, my did that hurt for awhile.

mrn 3:15 PM  

It really seems like Rex shows considerable bias depending on who the constructor is. The clue on CRIMEA is pretty tin eared. Ask any Ukrainian if they feel like Crimea was “annexed”. It is illegally occupied by a foreign power coddled by our feckless president. I feel like Rex would have devoted half the page to that clue if it was a different constructor. Let’s see a little consistency here.

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

Warnings by definition come (be) fire. That is there is no difference between warned and forewarned. Just as there is no difference between ordering and preorder g.

JJ 5:08 PM  

Lol, that’s too funny. I don’t know what dictionary you use, but M-W is very concise:

“to request to purchase (something) before it is available for sale“. Can’t get much clearer than that.

I trust Z on the definition of forewarned as well.

Larry Levinson 5:16 PM  

Modern top loaders are just as efficient as front loaders, and easier to operate.*

*Lowe's appliances $1 million-seller.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

I pre-order on Amazon a lot. Looking forward to my copy of “Z is a Racist”, especially the chapter on how Kevin McHale was better than Michael Jordan.

CDilly52 6:53 PM  

As with many of you, seeing Ms. W’s byline this m I ïoherning was exciting. Unlike many of you, she and I do not share a wheelhouse. Occasionally, I visit the neighborhood for a bit but only for a few clues at best. Came very close to a DNF today but the STINGRAY gave me enough to muddle through. Wonderful wordplay and clues. My favorite kind of puzzle!

Brian Primeau 10:31 AM  

I don’t get how “Went too” = “came along,” unless it is a typo.

Brian Primeau 2:47 PM  

OK, I just got it.

spacecraft 12:40 PM  

GUESSWHAT: He's done it again! EASY???? OFC HASNTACLUE how tough this was. I was ONTHEROCKS for quite a while on this one--it took me well over an hour, much of that time just sitting and staring at an empty grid filled only with ANKA (rare gimme), ETTU and SST. But...this solver MAKESDO and perseveres.

WHY are TOPLOADERS "less efficient?" That one really floored me. The answer recalls for me a time when my then-new wife and I went appliance shopping. We were on a tight budget, but the salesman kept deflecting us toward the models with "bells and whistles," as she puts it. When we expressed interest in a basic, no-frills unit, he said "Oh, you don't want that. It doesn't even--"

Wifey interrupted. "Don't tell us what we want. You have a lot to learn about selling." whereupon we turned heel and left, never to shop there again. I was put ONNOTICE never to tell her what she wants! (And I haven't, which is why we're still going after 47 years.)

I eventually fleshed it all out, braving a monster clue set in the process. The finished product brought an avalanche of triumph points down upon me. Easy indeed! Take that back!! Anyway, with nothing to carp about in the fill, I award Ms. Weintraub not only an eagle, but the DOD as well!

Burma Shave 2:36 PM  


but I CAMEALONG time before you HITTHESPOT."


rainforest 3:55 PM  

After a slow start where I had 4 or 5 entries, I got the SW completely, and thus, LETHE, and moved smoothly through the rest, ultimately finding it easier than Friday's puzzle which I finally finished this morning!

It's a good feeling to finish the two toughest puzzles of the week, and ones that I liked. Today's just flowed once I got started. I think OTOH was key to my entire solve. Everything made sense, aided by the clever cluing and lively entries. Two points to make: I don't know why CORED has anything to do with ice sheets (probably a head-slapper), and maybe front LOADERS are more efficient than TOP LOADERS, but they certainly don't seem to be as durable. My TOP LOADER is 27 years old and still going strong, and I'm not convinced that front loaders clean better.

So, medium here, but a lotta fun.

Diana, LIW 4:15 PM  

From "crickets" to finished, I did it. With only a JOT of help with one of my incorrect answers.

And one error I left in for all to see. Didn't know the Monsters Inc. thingy.

Diana, LIW

leftcoaster 4:50 PM  

A beauty of a Saturday puzzle: smooth, clever, medium difficulty (meaning gettable), and SPICY.

Several first-rate long downs in the NW and SE. Long acrosses were good too. And they all helped in filling the grid after a slow start. Found a foothold in the middle South and SE, and it was pretty smooth sailing from there.

Need to take personal issue with clue for TOPLOADERS as "Less efficient washers", presumably compared to front loaders. We've had a Maytag top loader for 25 years. It has been our most reliable large appliance ever, never needing any significant repair, and as a practical matter about as "efficient" as anyone might need or want. Not at all sure they make them like that anymore.

BE ON NOTICE: This is not a paid advertisement. We have no relatives we know of who have been employed by the manufacturer. We swear by our Maytag, even if it were to break down tomorrow. Twenty-five years after all is a quarter of a century.

leftcoaster 4:58 PM  

@spacecraft -- Didn't see your TOPLOADERS comment before mine. Good one, especially your wife's no-nonsense response.

Unknown 5:35 PM  

I cannot see how 3D can be "phoned it in"...l finished the puzzle without cheating, so l can live with not understanding 3D.

rondo 6:39 PM  

My brother had a 1965 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S, 273 Commando 4 barrel, 4 speed. Pretty 'sport'y, but a muscle car, I GUESS. But *old* fish sports car? You can still buy a brand new 2019 STINGRAY. Is that *old*?!?!?!? (Don't know about the 2020 Corvette models since they've gone to a mid-engine style.) And my friend's old AMC Marlin fit into CRIMEA, but no fuzzy dice. One poorly used word - OLD - in a clue creates an inkfest of epic proportion. Put me on Will's staff and that $#!+ won't happen! Even if I PHONEDITIN I'd do better. And Will surely had his hands on this puz with that RONA/NORA clue (there must be a yeah baby there somewhere), so no excuses for poor clues. Starting to inch closer to OFL's views re: NYTXword. Otherwise, a really nice puz.

strayling 6:58 PM  

@Diana, LIW

The "Monsters" clue was a misdirect, referring to the comma character in the quoted text. Sneaky - one of the puzzle's highlights for me.

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

To Left Coaster from another left coaster. I think what is meant by efficient is that top loaders clean more efficiently; they require less detergent for the same size load. I'm not sure though if on average they are any longer or shorter lasting.

spacecraft 7:38 PM  

@Unknown 5:35: "PHONEITIN" is newspeak for making a minimum effort. I guess it has to do with not needing to be present for such a lax approach.

maverick 7:12 PM  

"Less efficient washers (TOP LOADERS) — well now I feel inadequate..." Yes! 100% 😂

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