Clique's aspirations in modern lingo / SAT 12-21-19 / TV host fluent in eight languages / Either half of country duo with 14 #1 country hits / Bygone ad figure in tuxedo sunglasses / Bit of Communist Chinese attire

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Constructor: Julian Lim

Relative difficulty: Easy-Challenging (I dunno, I solved it after waking from a nap, so it was probably Easyish but I couldn't make sense of the upper west coast to save my life)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: HOTSY-TOTSY (28A: A-O.K.) —

comfortably stable or secure PERFECTOKhad a quarrel, but everything is hotsy-totsy now (coined about 1926 by Billie De Beck †1942 American cartoonist) (merriam-webster)
William Morgan DeBeck (April 15, 1890 – November 11, 1942), better known as Billy DeBeck, was an American cartoonist. He is most famous as the creator of the comic strip Barney Google, later retitled Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. The strip was especially popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and featured a number of well-known characters, including the title character, Bunky, Snuffy Smith, and Spark Plug the race horse. Spark Plug was a merchandising phenomenon, and has been called the Snoopy of the 1920s.
DeBeck drew with a scratchy line in a "big-foot" style, in which characters had giant feet and bulbous noses. His strips often reflected his love of sports. In 1946, the National Cartoonists Society inaugurated the Billy DeBeck Memorial Awards (or the Barney Awards), which became the Reuben Award in 1954. [...] DeBeck is credited with introducing or popularizing a number of neologisms and catchphrases via Barney Google, including "heebie-jeebies", "horsefeathers", "hotsy totsy", "balls of fire", "time's a-wastin'", "touched in the head", and "bodacious". (wikipedia)
• • •

This 40-black-squares look, I don't know. Seems like a lot of real estate to cede to black squares on a Saturday. Last week's Saturday puzzle had just 30, and *that* one was 16-wide. The puzzle felt ... spindly. The huge black cross formations made me wonder if there wasn't going to be some kind of theme, some kind of visual ... pun or something. But no, there's just a ridiculous number of black squares. And for what? So that ... what can happen, exactly? It's a minor point, in the end, I guess, but I found this one aesthetically off-putting from the get-go. The grid was OK but the cluing seemed awkward and tin-eared in many places, and a couple of those marquee answers felt dated (in two very different ways). Let's start with HOTSY-TOTSY, which ... what? How does this clue not at least have an "in times of yore," or "in OLDEN-speak" tag on it. I've never heard a soul use this term—looks like it had its heyday in the '20s (nineteen-20s ... dang, I'm gonna have to start specifying!) (see "Word of the Day," above). It also looks like it means [Sexy, to your grandpa]. Maybe I'm extrapolating slightly from "hot to trot," I don't know. For a term that hasn't been popular in any way in my lifetime, I think you gotta do something better than just [A-O.K.]. Or, how's this, don't use it in the first place. It looks colorful (i.e. it has that wacky rhyming slangy thing going for it), but with no real currency, it's just going to be befuddling and annoying.
Differently dated, to my ear, is SQUADGOALS, which was a hot hashtag back in ... I wanna say 2015? (42A: Clique's aspirations, in modern lingo). Actually, as I write that, I get the feeling that I have written it before. And I have (earlier this year). I love current stuff in puzzles, but you gotta be fast. Memes and hashtags Do Not Age Well. I got SQUADGOALS easy, but that answer makes this puzzle look like an old person (i.e. me) desperately trying to seem young. Like when you try to use that term that the kids are using in front of your kid and your kid just rolls her eyes. Like when middle-aged white people started saying "bling." Like that. Here's an interesting article about how white people co-opted the term from black culture. I guess the main thing I want to stress here is you gotta use hot things while they're hot and then move on. Both jazz-era slang and social media hashtags have shelf lives that need to be respected. Hashtag shelf life is much, much shorter. I think SQUADGOALS still has currency (I got it easily enough, people are still using it on Twitter), but the fact that it's ringing bygone to my ears means that the "in modern lingo" bit is precarious. Is "bling" modern lingo? Is "phat?" What do you call slang that's defined by its cultural novelty but that then gets old? Tell me, daddy-O! How do you know when your term has slid from "modern lingo" into "erstwhile lingo"?
The worst part of the solve for me came at the end, in the NW, and here the tin-eared / awkward cluing really comes into play. I had JUN- and still no idea about JUNK E-MAIL because I the terms that humans use are "junk mail" or "spam" (1D: Target of some filters). JUNK E-MAIL is certainly a recognizable term, in that if you said it, people would know what you're talking about, but people actually *say* "junk mail" or "spam." The bigger problem here, though, was all the answers that JUNK EMAIL ran through, none of which I could figure out, two of which were cross-referenced in an unimaginably awkward way. So the idea, I guess, is that refugees from Vietnam came to ... the U.S.? ... via GUAM. But the wording on the 'NAM clue, my god (24A: Origin of many refugees once in 26-Across, for short). The "once in" was the confusing part. Does that mean "Who had once been in"? "Once they got to"? Also, 'NAM is not a thing people who did not serve there *ever* call Vietnam. Using it as a casual abbr. for a place name always feels wrong. 'NAM isn't just "for short." If you were planning a trip to southeast Asia, you wouldn't talk about going to 'NAM. It's Vietnam. But the bigger issue here is the clue phrasing, and the weird status of GUAM in all this. It's just such a clunky way to try to get a cross-reference going. And then to do that clunky cross-reference with abutting words!? Turned that whole area into a nightmare. Throw in the fact that ELIA was very hard  (34A: Man's name meaning "Jehovah is God") (it is a man's name, obviously, but I can name only one ... unless you count essayist Lamb's pseudonym, which I don't), and POKE was hard (17A: ___ fun), and I just got destroyed up there. Total freefall. Oh, and I wanted SANTIAGO for a bit too at 13D: Two-time host city of the FIFA World Cup (SAO PAULO). I had just the SA- and -O to go on for a bit—weird that those three letters sent me to a wrong answer that is so weirdly adjacent to the right answer (another soccer-loving South American city).
So there was HOTSY-TOTSY and there was that NW corner with its NAM/GUAM mess. The rest was a blur. That was my experience.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 2:50 AM  

Easy-medium. Easier than yesterday’s. My biggest problem was SAO PAoLO, which kept me from seeing NAM and GUAM for more nanoseconds (hi M&A) than I care to discuss.

Excellent (HOTSY TOTSY) Sat. Fun with a bit of zip.

Re: HOTSY TOTSY meaning sexy to your grandpa - given the dates in the MW definition Rex cited that would be great grandpa or maybe great-great...

okanaganer 2:52 AM  

After Rex's not-too-positive take on the grid shape, see Jeff Chen's more analytical comments on xwordinfo.

Have to send some hate to UCONN. Those lesser known univ/college abbrev's hate I so much. The worst. (Except the only thing worse is a sports team nickname or mascot.) Please stop!

For "Hepatologist's focus' I confidently entered SNAKE. Evidently no, that's a herpetologist! SSSSSS...

Brian 3:35 AM  

Yes, easy-challenging ... with a Wednesday-to-Saturday spectrum of cluing that was inconsistent throughout the grid. I thought HOTSY-TOTSY was the opposite of the mediocre A-OKAY?

GUAM was just nasty!

chefwen 3:56 AM  

HOTSY TOTSY, no problem, SQUAD GOALS??? I guess that puts a pretty good age stamp on my forehead.

Never heard of TREVOR NOAH, what am I missing? Will have to Google the guy.

A wee bit slow out of the gate but with a cheat or two (HI Trevor) things started rolling along.

Lewis 6:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:37 AM  

This was tough for me, just like I want it on Saturday, an ego shrinker that caused some lookups, but upon final inspection, was fair, and a great motivation to up my solving game. When I see your name on top of a puzzle, Julian, I know I'll be facing a good fight, and I'm grateful for that and today's beaut.

The funniest moment to me was having S____ARTIST and with [Whom nobody plays with] put in SAND ARTIST, one of those Buddhist monks who, with great concentration, makes gorgeous sand mandalas, then, immediately upon conclusion, destroys them. "Well, yes," I thought, "nobody would play with one of these artists while they are in such a great state of concentration, but isn't this a little arcane for a crossword?" When I finally got the correct answer, it was not only an "aha" but also a "hah!".

JJ 7:15 AM  

Killed by throwing down Mr Peanut at 1a. It took forever for me to read “Sunglasses”. I’ll also bet that half the HOTSY TOTSY solvers never heard of Doan’s little white pills. Challenging for me—but I enjoy challenges.

Suzie Q 7:22 AM  

There were many more interesting aspects to this puzzle than Rex's review narrowly covered. I do agree that this one covered the spectrum on difficulty.
I did enjoy reading about the catchphrases from the cartoonist. All of them are very familiar to me. I remember fondly all of the cartoon characters he created.
I wonder if our recent discussion of the periodic table helped anyone with 59A.
Now I need to look up Trevor Noah. Eight languages? Wow.

Doc nc 7:38 AM  

Off to watch The Daily Show. Never heard of Noah before. My bad apparently.

Joe Dipinto 7:39 AM  

No time to wallow in the mire

This can't be Saturday's puzzle, it must be a red herring. Saturday's puzzle would never be as smoove a groove as this was. No stops along the way from YIDDISH to VAR, no writeovers, no mess. It was hotsy-hotsy, like Trump's Ukraine phone call (see definition up top).

Small Town Blogger 7:52 AM  

Can someone explain polo playing = Teri?

Brian 8:17 AM  

Teri Polo is the name of an actress.

BobL 8:18 AM  

Oh gee, here comes the hard g haters

Joe Dipinto 8:31 AM  

Make that hotsy-totsy.

Rube 8:37 AM  

Rex is right....the NW was tough
Rex is wrong....we want it tough. I brute forced my way to POKEand the K melted the rest.

Hotsy totsy has a sexual connotation. AOK does not. Squad Goals is stupid in any circumstance. If anyone in my work group ever tried to use it I would have banned it immediately.

No solve time for Rex today. Hmmm. Just saying

Joaquin 8:48 AM  

I agree with Rex that the NAM / GUAM clue and answer are a hot (though not HOTSY TOTSY) mess. I had no idea that Vietnam refugees were ever in Guam. As an aside - my Army engineer unit stopped in Guam en route to Vietnam in 1965.

Twangster 8:53 AM  

I thought the clue for SOLOARTIST (whom nobody plays with) was questionable, given that when musicians "go solo," they almost always still play with lots of people ... it's just different people than they usually play with in their band.

Teedmn 9:03 AM  

I am not on Rex's wavelength at all today. For me, the whole puzzle went smoothly up until the center bottom. 53D was, I was certain, the (HARD G) Greek letter P_I (I can never remember whether PsI or PHI comes first; I think PHI does). But 53A had to be TREVOR NOAH which led me to TAI. I see from the comments that some people have never seen him. He is hilarious. I love his take on politics and love his South African accent.

I was with @jae with SAO PAoLO but GUAM helped that. And I was with @okanaganer with the herpetology misreading. I had __VE_ at 46D for the longest time while waiting for a turtle or snake species to pop into the brain. What saved me was changing TONGo to TONGA, making the great He misdirection into Helium rather than a pronoun. Ah, INERT GAS. That made Squash into a SPORT rather than acORN (I never put that in but it was considered) and helped fill in the rest.

Doan's - I didn't know that. My brain subconciously thought "koan", and with a spiritual association, I was looking for a Koran or some such holy text at 45D. ALEVE? All of that trouble because I'm so far behind on my modern lingo that 2015's SQUAD GO___ passed me by without impact. SQUAD GOons? I'm now remembering that I have seen SQUAD GOALS before (and probably had the same "huh?" reaction then).

In any case, I successfully filled in the grid and had a bit of a tussle doing it, so thanks, Julian Lim, for a fun Saturday solve.

kitshef 9:03 AM  

Good and tough, and overall excellent. This is now the second time I have heard SQUAD GOALS in my life, both times in the NYT Puz in the last … month? Two months?
Hold please …

… Just over two months. October 4 2019 puzzle.

Anyone else have arab stATE before SULTANATE? hulk before LOKI?

Richardf8 9:08 AM  

I cringe whenever I see “in modern lingo.” I half expect that clue to turn around and shout at some kids to get off its lawn. It’s “Lingo” which was, I think, modern lingo in the ‘70s. If we could just swap in “parlance,” I think I could be much happier.

I enjoyed the discourse on BGSS today. HOTSY TOTSY is something that can only be said with a proper amount of tongue-lolling.

The clue for INERT GAS was fun.

Never knew TREVOR NOAH was a polyglot.

I had Joel for ELIA for most of the puzzle, because of the word order in the clue.

QuasiMojo 9:09 AM  

Wacky and inconsistent clueing and answers but surprisingly easy for me. 16 minutes.

I know the phrase Hoity Toity but Hotsy Totsy I thought was a vaudeville term.,

Glad to see olden ERIC the Red spelled with a C again. I read Zola in college (where we would POKE fun at the teacher by saying "Nana Nana Na" in a needling voice) but I misread the clue as Naturism and wanted Erica Jong.

Put in DUNN for country duo then realized it wasn't repeated. I found the answer A AVERAGES annoying since the plural sounds weird and most Valedictorians have ALL or Straight A's. Which reminds me, do people chosen to be Valedictorian have a choice in the matter? I would think it would be a very intimidating task to give a speech if you were shy and/or TIMORous.

I know nothing about Trevor Noah but I entered his name immediately because someone mentioned him on PBS NewsHour last night as a talk show host. And I thought to myself isn't that Noah Centino? Another name I only know from crosswords.

Nancy 9:13 AM  

Enjoyable, challenging, and lively. Everything I want in a themeless.

The struggle began at 1A where I tried to think of an ad figure in a tuxedo and sunglasses. My always-fuzzy memory and lifelong dedication to avoiding commercials didn't help. Was it CHARLIE THE TUNA? MR. PEANUT? Neither fit, so I went elsewhere. Later when JOE CAMEL came in, I thought: he wore a tuxedo????? Really?????? I always thought of JOE CAMEL as a rather scruffy guy.

How on earth do whales give birth? Don't they give birth just like everyone else? Or do they SPAWN like salmon? SPAWN didn't fit. I went elsewhere.

I did a lot of going elsewhere. Eventually ERIC THE RED, confirmed by CASAS and CHIT, gave me my toehold. But I kept looking at my whiter-then-snow NW and thinking I wouldn't finish. When I finally got SOLO ARTIST, followed by SAO PAULO, I realized that, yay, I would.

The most interesting and curiosity-provoking clue in this very entertaining puzzle? The TV host who's fluent in 8 languages. Are any TV hosts that bright, I wondered? Evidently TREVOR NOAH is. Good on you, TREVOR, as the Aussies would say. And a puzzle that was good fun.

bookmark 9:18 AM  

Trevor Noah replaced Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Trevor's best-selling autobiography BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD is an inspiring and sometimes funny read. It's also being produced as a movie.

GILL I. 9:20 AM  

A-O.K. If you're ever in the Bay Area, You've gotta try the HOTSY TOTSY dive bar in Albany. If you like oldy moldy SPONGES cocktails (like I do), then this is a place to stop by and say howdy doody.
Your upper west coast difficulty was my easy peasy entry. @JJ 7:15...I, too, thought of Mr Peanut. But then he has a monocle. Hah, yes. JOE CAMEL all fancied up looking cool. I never smoked them CAMEL's, my go to was the Winston lady.
I have to thank the "in OLDEN-speak, phat, sexy, to your grandpa" or I probably would not have zipped through this thing. I got so many of the long answers just off of one letter. EMILE ZOLA off the Z, SANDAL WOOD off the L and so on and so on. My only head scratcher was SQUAD GOALS. I had SQUAD and wanted GOONS in that team slot.
What else? Why is that RED guy missing his K. Isn't/wasn't his name ERIK. Thank you CASAS.
Yeah, I also wasn't crazy about the NAM/GUAM reference, but all the crosses made it inferable.
I wish that POKE had been clued with a pig. I do like TRYST meeting up with HOTSY. Go grandpa!

Birchbark 9:24 AM  

TIMÓR the Merrier was ERIC THE RED's court jester.

I feel sorry for "He." I thought that as the gases go it was one of the noble ones. Sadly, it is INERT. I blame the editors as a matter of principle.

Often when at the point of running the alphabet, as today with GUAM, I know where the problem is but focus on the wrong letter. Today I worked forever to change the soft-g in SPONGES before finally realizing that SAO PAoLO was misspelled.

Molasses 9:43 AM  

Hard puzzle, especially the NW, in which I started off badly with Mr Peanut even though I was pretty sure it was wrong. Enjoyed seeing my home state ARIZ - one of the rare times I got a geographical answer easily.

I'm a big fan of Trevor Noah and loved Born a Crime (which he narrates himself in the audiobook) but didn't know he was fluent in eight languages. Impressive!

Klazzic 9:43 AM  

Thought my 122 day streak was at grave risk until I finally figured out that God-NAM refugee clue. POKE fun was tough but brilliant when unearthed. HELIUM was perfect, the second most abundant element in the universe. Which reminds me of my hero astrophysicist, Neil Degrasse Tyson's recent tweet: You can kiss yourself in the mirror, but only on the lips.
Go Niners!

Nancy 9:48 AM  

@okanaganer (2:52) -- Don't feel bad. When I saw "hepatologist's focus" and had ?IVE?, I confidently wrote in hIVEs. I thought he studied bees.

Also, @okana -- My brother is a Law Prof at UCONN and trust me, it is "UCONN". That's how everyone says it and that's how everyone writes it.

Re my 2:39 p.m. comment on RED HERRINGS yesterday (no spoilers). Oh, people, I am so disappointed in y'all. You do not have a future in mystery novel solving. Not a one of you! Not even you, @Joe Dipinto. Nor you, @Malsdemare. Remember Chester Chadwick and his attache case with the wrong initials? Well, what are his correct initials? And, what if I'd mentioned that the wrong initials on the attache case were Z.B.? And who was yesterday's constructor? And wasn't there some backing-and-forthing on yesterday's blog on which initials people referred to her by and why?

All I can say in the immortal word of @Loren is: Sheesh!

Dorothy Biggs 9:48 AM  

JOECAMEL was a cartoon character that was meant to appeal to younger potential smokers...pretty shameful. He also looked like a penis.

I know HOTSYTOTSY because I'm old, but also because of Mel Brooks' "The Producers" with the lyric "Hotsy-totsy Nazi." I think in that case it does sorta lean toward "sexy" or otherwise hip.

SQUADGOALS was so recent I knew it from the QUAD...but wasn't sure it was right given its uniqueness and recentness.

This played really easy for me, with just a few hiccups...much faster than a normal Saturday. I give it a C-

RooMonster 9:49 AM  

Hey All !
Wrongness in that SE-ish corner had me crying out to Check Puzzle feature. Had hulk for LOKI, song for ODES. Once I tried the, then LOKI, (after Checking), was able to rassle that section down.

Did get JOECAMEL and JUNKEMAIL right off. Thought I'd have an easy time after that, but wasn't to be. Had hold-ups in each section, but was able to finish without cheats (unless, of course, you think using Check Puzzle is cheating), as slowly but surely the ole brain clicked on some answers, and then pattern recognition came into play.

Had writeovers that now I can't recall (did online). But an overall nice SatPuz. Did remember EMILE ZOLA. That's a win for me!

Zero on the F count. CHIT! :-)


Z 9:57 AM  

Solved with the soccer match on, so no idea how fast it would have been if I focused, but it felt easy for a Saturday. The NW was easy here. JOE CAMEL got the side eye because, well, marketing adult vices to children always gets the side eye here. 1,000% with Rex on the E in JUNK EMAIL. Also not overly fond of trying to make ETA current with a texting clue. ETO/ETA also seemed sub-optimal, but the rest of the threes were not OLDEN ese.

Like @jae, many precious nanoseconds lost on SAO PAoLO, making GUAM hard to see. I’d go further than Rex on NAM, it should only be used as a reference to the Vietnam War, and best in reference to that war after the Tet Offensive.

I am more and more appreciative of people sharing their wrong answers. @Lewis meandering off to Buddhist monks is just wonderful.

@JJ - I was all set to write in Mr. Peanut but went, “wait, ‘sunglasses?’” Wasted only one or two precious nanoseconds but I understand completely.

@Joe Dipinto - I am planning to use “smoove groove” at the first opportunity.

@okanaganer - I don’t think Chen is any more analytical, he just likes the variety. Variety for the sake of variety isn’t a good standard in my opinion. But then, neither is minimizing black squares for the sake of minimal black squares. For me, Rex’s point about datedness and failing at being current are more salient than musing about grid design.

@Rube - You’re not alone. The second most popular definition at Urban Dictionary suggests that anyone using the term “ Kill yourself / Or / Crash your car whilst your squad is in it.” This also speaks to Rex’s point to how fast memes and hashtags become tired and trite.

mkeit 10:03 AM  

What century are we in if people don't know Trevor Noah but appearance know Peg Leg Pete.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

He should rename his blog Rex Parker Complains about the NYT Crossword Puzzle.

DWH 10:09 AM  

Lost me at ODES of Solomon. It could be inferred but in both modern and old Bibles, Catholic and Protestant, it’s either SONG of Solomon or Song of Songs.

TJS 10:12 AM  

Somewhere in the dark recesses I keep hearing "The Hotsy Totsy Club" but I have no recollection of the source. Any one?
Excellent, difficult, true Saturday IMO.

Suzie Q 10:31 AM  

I always thought it was clever of UConn to names their athletes Huskies. It only works if you say the school name out loud.

I looked up Trevor Noah and could not find anywhere that said he spoke eight languages. Articles stated 4 or 5, still quite impressive.

Hungry Mother 10:32 AM  

A bit of jet lag this morning as I awoke in the Pacific Time Zone, but I RAN through the puzzle like a spoon through a milkshake. Lots of fun on the way. Temp in Vegas this morning is 36, so I’m trying to plan a run.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

A nanosecond is one billionth of a second. There’s no real difference between one and many. And how can they be precious unless you’re solving the puzzle in under one second, which I think is impossible ? Is that guy trying to make a joke or be sarcastic or does he not know what a nanosecond is ?

Alex M 10:43 AM  

I always thought HOTSY-TOTSY meant sexy or something. The line from The Producer's "Springtime for Hitler" describing the Fuhrer as "the most hotsy-totsy Nazi in the land!" suddenly makes a lot more sense...

Hungry Mother 10:53 AM  

@joaquin: my Army Engineer outfit stopped in the Philippines on the way to Thailand in 1963.

Crimson Devil 10:56 AM  


Northwest Runner 11:01 AM  

Does anyone from the East End (or anywhere in the UK) say (h)owdy? Based on a recent Saturday puzzle clue from either nyt or Newsday, I forget which, I wanted gamma for leader of Greece, but had to get by with another one of Will’s hard clues. Count me among those whose early morning reading skills had me enter snake instead of liver.

puzzlehoarder 11:07 AM  

At 20 minutes I would consider this to be easy on any Saturday. Following the last two days puzzles, each of which took me 31 minutes, this came off as a real marshmallow.

I experienced a lot of the same write overs and misdirects that others have mentioned but the crosses always corrected them with little time lost.

SQUADGOALS is worth a special mention. Crossed with the debut QUORA that was probably the one section that might have had a chance at some actual late week resistance. However as has been pointed out we just had SQUADGOALS less than three months ago. I looked up that puzzle and it turns out it was the 1A entry. No wonder it was easy to remember. This was a disservice to both the constructor and the solver. You can't blame it totally on the editor though. When you've got all these young solvers using the same word lists and the same software to make their puzzles this kind of embarrassing repetition is bound to happen. Puzzles like this make me miss the 90s.

Margaret R 11:14 AM  

Back in the late sixties, I recall attending demonstrations against university sponsorship of ROTC programs where one of the chants was, “Hotsy totsy, no more ROTC.”

xyz 11:24 AM  



This to me was the easiest Saturday. EVAH!

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

One might wonder: are the constructor or WS old enough to remember this trope from the 50s and 60s. Back when nearly everyone knew WWII or were the progeny of those who did.

Hitler is told one of his general becomes a father, and replies,
"Hotsy totsy, another Nazi!!"

Crossing into YIDDISH?? either heavy sarcasm or simple stupidity?

xyz 11:27 AM  

SQUAD GOALS might have been clued Green New Deal, lol

Epstein’s Mother 11:27 AM  

Hotsy Totsy reminded me of Welcome Back Kotter.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Don’t feed ‘em Z.

CDilly52 11:43 AM  

Well, I earned my “you’re finished” theme song today!! The NW and W side destroyed me. Didn’t help that I (as did others, I see) tossed in Mr. Peanut right away. ANWAR being correct did not help. I was like a Nomad, wandering through a vast desert, looking for anywhere to to pitch my tent.

Found comfort for a bit with the extreme NE block. Then ERIC THE RED “settled” in 21A. I read Barney Google every Sunday in the comics growing up so HOTSY TOTSY was a big help.

Favorite moment was the word play clue for SOLO ARTIST. That was finally the switch that gave me just enough insight into our constructor to allow me, ever so slowly to crawl up the NW side. SAO PAULO and SANDALWOOD made me remember that whales CALVE. I truly struggled with the phrasing of so many clues today and when the whale gave birth, Mr. Peanut died, I finally saw the “sunglasses” part of that clue and had my “aha” moment. I like a good Saturday tussle and this one satisfies. I feel k

deerfencer 11:43 AM  

Jeez, Trevor Noah is brilliantly funny and has been my favorite late night comedian since he took over for Jon Stewart. I think his writers are consistently funnier than Colbert’s. And his autobiography is wonderful. I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit but got totally skunked by the helium clue.

Joe Dipinto 11:45 AM  

@Z – when you do, make sure to give me credit for co-opting it from black culture.

@Nancy – Ah, it all makes sense now: none of us are real, we are merely existing in an Agatha Christie novel. What time is tea? I shall retire to my quarters until then and do not wish to be disturbed.

Nancy 11:58 AM  

Apropos of nothing in the puzzle, but I had to share this. I believe this may be the funniest and most scathing negative review that's been written since Dorothy Parker passed away.

jberg 12:14 PM  

Pretty tough. I thought of Mr. Peanut, but 7D had to be something TO E or P? So I let that one bide while I wrote in _ _ _ _ stATE (either Arab or Gulf) at 13A. Also irR before VAR, and, of course, song before ODES. (I worried it might be Seal, but one always says "Solomon's seal" instead of "seal of Solomon.") And then TAu before TAI (and also before chi).

I've only actually seen TREVOR NOAH once (on TV), but I knew he was black and South African and educated, which would make it very likely he spoke English, Afrikaans, and maybe an African language just from growing up, giving him a head start on 8. I was very happy with that one when it proved correct.

Speaking of growing up, people certainly said HOTSY TOTSY into at least the early 1950s, so that was no problem.

Is IMAX really 3-D? Or does "option" mean "alternative" in the clue?

In sum: I struggled, but enjoyed it.

Carola 12:36 PM  

"Easy-challenging" seems right to me. It was hard for me to get a start, but the unimpressive IMAX x HEXED did get me to ERIC THE RED and enough crosses to take me through the grid. Me, too, for "It it's SAO, it's gotta be PAoLO, right?" I enjoyed figuring this one out, except for being reminded of the odious JOE CAMEL.

Dunce-cap moments: for 9D, I looked at all those squares and thought, "Too bad ZOLA doesn't fit." For 5D, when sadAt didn't work, I asked myself, "Who else was there?"

Thanks to...
@kitshef, for reminding me how I knew SQUAD GOALS;
@QuasiMojo, for explaining why I thought HOTSY-TOTSY meant "thinks they're so great" (hoity-toity);
@Rex, for the Billy DeBeck lore and the trip down memory lane to my dad reading me Snuffy Smith in the funnies.

Trevor fan 1:02 PM  

Before I listened to Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime I thought “how can a 32 year old write an autobiography/memoir”? Oh my. He can. I am on the bandwagon for everyone to listen to the audiobook. It’s possible that some of his additional languages are sub-categories of tribal (he uses the term tribal) languages. I googled a ton when I was listening to it, but it’s been a while so I can’t remember the various off-shoots that he spoke of.
At any rate he is a brilliant and amazing person.
As for the puzzle, I think everyone who thought the puzzle was easy is brilliant and amazing! I am NOT in the puzzle was easy camp but really enjoyed the challenge.

PatC 1:15 PM  

Had a problem with ODES of Solomon. Wanted Song for the longest time even though I knew 33D had to be Yiddish. Thought it was neat that Doans was right next to LIVER (Doan’s little liver pills, if I remember correctly). Still didn’t understand SQUAD GOALS even after reading Rex’s blog. But then, I’m old.

Been reading for a long time and finally got up the nerve to post. Thanks for a lot of crossword fun for this newbie.

Anoa Bob 1:35 PM  

When I was still professing, I used JOE CAMEL as an example of how advertisers use sexual imagery to push their products. Take a look and see for yourself. Not only is it phallic as @Dorothy Biggs points out, it also includes the testicles. The dude is hung! I think the female in the background notices that.

I heard a fascinating interview with TREVOR NOAH a few years ago on NPR on Terry Gross's "Fresh Air". The intro blurb said he spoke six languages. That was 2016, so maybe he's picked up two more since then! Here's a link to the interview.

oldactor 1:41 PM  

@Nancy: Thanks for the link. One reviewer said that "Cats" was the worst thing to happen to cats since dogs.

What? 1:43 PM  

I like tough puzzles, even if I don’t finish, provided ...
“Of, course, how did I not get that?”
Not “What the heck is SQUADGOALS , QUORA, HOTSYTOTSY?”

Jyqm 1:48 PM  

I said it last time and I’ll say it again today for the benefit of the less “plugged-in” solvers: please pay no attention when Rex announces that some up-to-the-minute slang is somehow dated. SQUADGOALS is very much still in circulation, and Rex is not the arbiter of cool that he thinks he is (least of all in the “my fellow white people ought to refrain from using this term that originated in another context, as I just learned from Wikipedia five minutes ago” sense).

Joe Dipinto 2:11 PM  

If you want to pig out on bad reviews of "Cats", check out Rotten Tomatoes. It got a 19% fresh rating on the Tomatometer. Here's the Critics Consensus:

Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

TJS - Was pretty sure I remembered a Hotsy-Totsy Club too, but then decided I was thinking of the Hot Box Club in "Guys and Dolls."

Z 2:21 PM  

The ODES of Solomon are not the Song of Songs.

@Anonymous10:38a.m. - Rex posts his time and is faster than most of us. He will often comment on being “slowed” while finishing a puzzle in less than 3 minutes. M&A first mentioned wasting “precious nanoseconds,” a clear use of hyperbole intended to be humorous. Several of us have adopted the term to sardonically describe our own solves. I’ve even gone to picoseconds on occasion. Be assured that we know we aren’t solving on atomic timescales. We’re just poking a little fun at ourselves.

@Crimson Devil - “Enjoyed TRYST” is both self-evident and TMI.

@redanman11:27 - I do think that was a right-wing meme already.

@jberg - Some, but not all, IMAX movies are also 3D. Pretty sure it was Polar Express that made my wife throw-up (she’s prone to motion sickness and there’s a scene far too close to a roller-coaster ride for her). She doesn’t do IMAX any more.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

Hotsy totsy? I told my wife confidently that I could hardly wait to red Rex's comment. I last heard the phrase during World War II, as part of a mock Hitlerian phrase welcoming a "newborn Notzi." And never since

The NW was a mare's nest,what with the GUAM-NAM nonsense, POKE fun and the misleading clue for ETA. IMHO, an abbreviation that's been around for decades doesn't qualify as textspeak. Otherwise, a good puzzle.

Blog Doc 2:45 PM  

@Unknown, I found this:
Doan's Pills are an NSAID pain reliever with the active ingredient Magnesium Salicylate Tetrahydrate.

The little live pills are Carter's. Carter's claimed the pills would ease a variety of ailments, including headaches, digestive issues, and so-called torpid liver. They were very common in American households and could also be found internationally. Carter's Little Liver Pills were billed as a medicine aiding bile flow in the liver.

Rorschach 2:50 PM  

I think seeing male genitals in Joe Camel is a lot like seeing the image of Jesus in a pizza.

old timer 2:57 PM  

Was gonna say the Odes of Solomon exist, but were not part of the Bible or the Apocrapha. Written in Syriac or Aramaic, in the early Christian era.

My only problems were writing in IRR before VAR. And not knowing TUCCI until I got STRAW. And not immediately knowing how to spell that big city in Brasil.

Cleverest clue: the one for ROOK. Easiest: ARNE, the favorite composer of the Maleska era.

Masked and Anonymous 3:27 PM  

Hey -- When U can't have the Jaws of Themelessness in yer SatPuz grid-design, it's nice to have the Airplanes of Jawlessness in there, instead. (M&A is easily pleased.)

Like half the non-Brazilian puz-solvin world, I had no idea exactly how to spell SAO PAULO. But when in doubt, just splatz a lil darlin "U" in there. Which also made GUAM more obvious, too boot. Good rule to solvequest by, IM&AO.

staff weeject pick: VAR. Short for word VARmint. Word varmint examples: ARIZ. QUORA. SAOPAOLO.

Fairly clean & solid puzgrid, which really helped m&e out. Sooo … easyish, for a SatPuz, as nappy@RP suspected.
But, but … did have both a HARDG and an AAVERAGES floatin around in there, on top of an IMAX opener.

fave thing was that spanky-wanky INERTGAS clue. har

Thanx for the solid themeless fun, Mr. Lim. M&A kinda prefers sayin "nope" on that STRAW with my milkshake, btw … hopin I somehow can help with the eco-cause. Do usually say "yep" to the milkshake part, tho.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

Watch Out … more desperate than ARIZ PEWIT snot:

orangeblossomspecial 3:35 PM  

Rex: ELIA Kazan, the famous director

kaoconno 3:50 PM  

Same! I read the clue a bunch more times before I finally saw that it wasn’t herpetologist.

GILL I. 4:14 PM  

@Rorschach 2:50....I had to stare at JOE CAMEL for about a minute, then I did I ever have children....!!!!!

pabloinnh 4:51 PM  

In between rehearsals and performances so late to the party

I did want to point out my memory of HOTSY TOTSY. Came from a MASH episode in which the odious Frank Burns was trying to pick up one of the nurses, and told her she was a real HOTSY TOTSY, which he of course thought was cool. I've always thought of the term as meaning sexy. Guess Frank did too. The nurse was unimpressed.

Good medium tough Saturday for me, a saturdito sabroso. Thanks to JL.

bulgie 5:19 PM  

Really wanted "The Avengers" role to be PEEL, as in Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg in a completely different set of Avengers. For those who don't know, a '60s British TV show.

Anoa Bob 5:28 PM  

@Rorschach, I think your image-of-Christ-in-a-pizza is a red herring. Sorry things didn't work out well for you, what with your eponymous test having been jettisoned from mainstream psychiatry and psychology long ago in the last century.

@Gill I., no, it's not an anatomically exact rendering of the male genitalia, but it's not far off!

Here are a couple of quotes from a New York Times '91 article on the success and controversy of the JOE CAMEL advertising campaign:

"Among the most contentious aspects of Joe Camel's appearance has been that nose. Reynolds has always said this protuberance is nothing more than an exaggerated rendering of a camel's nose; critics say it was drawn in a phallic fashion to suggest that smoking is a virile pursuit."

"The Joe Camel ads feature the character, always in a heroic pose, amid palm trees, surrounded by adoring cartoon women or in a barroom." One observer noted that the ad's virility angle was meant to attract young male smokers because "A young smoker will stick with smoking longer than an older smoker, who dies or quits."

Nancy 5:36 PM  

@GILL (4:14) -- You're being much too hard on yourself*. I didn't see it either. Don't imagine that all that many people did, to tell the truth, and certainly not the genteel lady people. At least not back then.

But I certainly can imagine the ad execs smirking to themselves. "Betcha we can pull this off and no one will notice."*

*All puns intended.

GILL I. 6:03 PM  

@Anoa...."exact rendering." ?????? Not in any of my, (ahem) encounters. Maybe I've been lucky.
@Nancy....."genteel." ????? Of course, and may I add another (ahem)..... :-)

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

Olde Medicine references always, but always, lead me to Miles Nervine, and the days before FDA (and, if The Trumpster gets his way) and the near future:

Ethan Taliesin 6:31 PM  

I agree with many of you, including Rex. It seemed uneven, but is that even a bad thing?
Maybe I would grow tired of uneven puzzles, but the breezy areas were breezy and the weather in a couple of areas were more inclement and that was welcomed.

That was an interesting bit on the cartoonist Billy DeBeck. When I typed HOTSYTOTSY the word gave me some weird bygone, Americana feeling-- like listening to the affectation of and old time radio announcer dude. ----The JOE CAMEL did too, but from a more recent bygone era.

Yeah the clue for HOTSYTOTSY was super-vague, but the easy crosses totally gave it away. You learn something rather than drawing on what you know, and that's A-OK by me, I mean HOTSY TOTSY by me.

The puzzle wasn't electrifying, but at least it had some interesting content.

I read that link about coopting the term SQUAD GOALS and I was not impressed with the author's position. What's the alternative to preventing cultural exchange? Total separation minority races and cultures to preserve their "purity"? That's a terrible way towards a more enlightened future! Perhaps we should strike the perfect balance of limited cultural exchange and the separation of minority culture?? That's hardly good enough ether.

Culture is like language, good luck trying to guide it without draconian laws. Society would be better served working toward equality for every gender, race, religion, culture, and subculture from the bottom up, not at the shrubby edges and NOT by trying to isolate cultures.

I understand the intention was good and with a heart yearning for justice, but that's a fool's way forward in my internet opinion.

This is NOT like stealing and monetizing Huichole designs, I am against that and that's totally different.

Ethan Taliesin 6:34 PM  

That moment when you realize: "...wait, Mr Peanut didn't wear SUNGLASSES!"

Charles Emerson Winchester III 7:14 PM  

This is precisely why Rex is wrong and petty: the Vietnamese refugees in Guam were there as a result of the Vietnam War - hence ‘Nam is legit, I feel, as a contemporaneous slang term that incorporates both WHERE they were from and WHY they were there.

Anoa Bob 7:57 PM  

@Gill I., I said "no, it's NOT an anatomically exact rendering..."

GILL I. 8:30 PM  

@Anoa. did! My bad. I was still picturing JOE as a.....well, something other than anything real in my fantasy world!

JC66 8:48 PM  


I only wish my JC stood for JOE CAMEL.

GILL I. 9:27 PM  

I'm going to go all @Z on everyone and post over a million... but dang, @JC66, you made me do it. Can I peek?

JC66 9:51 PM  


In crossword land peek, no. Ogle, yes.

In the real world, can't wait to share a scotch or three with you.

GILL I. 10:14 PM  

You got it.....

pabloinnh 11:45 PM  

I like scotch.

agonistes (one who struggles) 7:56 AM  

re Sturday's puzzle
TERI(48 across): POLO PLAYING?
INERTGAS(59 across): HE IS ONE?
I got em both, by accident, but I still don't get either clue.
I mean I really don't get either clue.

for what it's worth, I breezed through the upper left, once I got calve and joe camel. life and crosswords are a mystery.

I enjoy and appreciate your site.thanks.

JC66 9:47 AM  

@Unknown 7:56

Teri POLO is an actress.

HE is the atomic symbol for helium, an INERT GAS.

thefogman 12:18 PM  

Got it but it wasn’t easy. The bottom right quadrant was ten times tougher than the rest. SKIAREAS and INERTGAS were borderline unfair. And what is the meaning of 48A Polo Playing (TERI)?

thefogman 12:32 PM  

OK. I read the comments and now I get the TERiPOLO thing, Boo!!!

Burma Shave 1:29 PM  


sang in an OLDEN, ARID state.


rondo 2:15 PM  

Mu biggest hang-up was immediately filling in gULfstATE when it was really a SULTANATE. Lost nanoseconds galore in the NW.

Yes, I did have an AAVERAGE. Pretty much nobody cares about that CHIT now.

In what seems like OLDEN days, it used to be near-consensus of Naomi over Wynona JUDD for TRYST purposes.

Except for the NW inkfest, what more could I WANT?

spacecraft 2:46 PM  

I'm surprised OFC didn't go off on JOECAMEL. I tried a more benign MRPEANUT in there, but no go. He didn't have a tux, anyway. I eventually got the NW (last again!) when SULTANATE occurred to me--a huge aha! moment. This was indeed a toughie, as befits a Saturday puzzle. I'll still call it challenging.

I'm always torn between two HOTSYTOTSY TERIs: Garr and Hatcher. But y'know what? Let's give the DOD sash to Ms. Polo this time. She deserves it.

I am a big NON-fan of HARDG et al, and although AAVERAGES makes perfect sense with the clue, that one also caused some nose-wrinkling (Momentary hangup in the SE when I thought I'd made a mistake with those A's). I made a good guess for the Natick at QUO_A/A_NE. ATNE jdlr--just didn't look right.

No problem with black squares here. MY problem was filling in the white ones! But...done, for umpteen triumph points. Birdie.

leftcoaster 2:56 PM  

Needed some free (cheat) boosts to get out of the North:

Worst was not getting SPONGES for "Booze hounds", thinking of it as those that may sponge off of others. Also wanted IRR before VAR, was misdirected by "Really fancy" for CRAVE, and wondered about the cluing for the otherwise common ETA and LED.

Some problems in the South, too: Wanted Lipid before LIVER, was misdirected by "Polo playing" for TERI, wanted Tau before TAI, and the QUORA/ARNE cross Naticked me.

Not a winning record for solving, but good enough for leisure work.

rainforest 3:39 PM  

This was the second challenging puzzle in a row, and as I DNF yesterday, I was determined to get this one. I did.

The key(s) for me was going out on a limb with 5 big ones: JOE CAMEL, JUNK EMAIL, MAO JACKET, ERIC THE RED, and TREVOR NOAH (I actually knew this one). Scoring these answers just made the puzzle at least do-able. Things like SQUAD GOALS, SPONGES, and TIMOR slowed me down in their respective areas, but I struggled to the finish. Also, I still don't get the "Polo playing" clue, but it is what it is. I'll read some comments.

I can't tell if this was a great puzzle or maybe a so-so one, but I had fun doing it, and felt vindicated after the name game of yesterday, even though I liked that one too.

JimmyBgood 3:51 PM  

IMAX and IMAX 3d are indeed two different variations of the same thing. IMAX 3d movies are hardly ever made any more, since the return on investment is no longer what it once was.

JimmyBgood 4:21 PM  

An extremely well-written review, and as you would never say, snarky to the max. I've seen the commercials, and it looks terrible!

Diana, LIW 4:22 PM  

I, too, wanted "MR PEANUT," but I knew he just got the heave-ho last week. You knew that, right?

So I left that corner alone for a while. Then I pub "JACK" into a corner instead of a ROOK. And that's about how it went.

After "checking" myself (AKA cheating), I was able to finish. But truly, a dnf.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 8:39 PM  

Late in the day to post, but would note that several of the brilliant Trevor Noah's languages are quite closely related to other South African dialects. That in itself is impressive, but not quite what it may imply.

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