Device for mass-producing signatures / SAT 12-14-19 / Dadaist who experimented with camera-less photography / One-named singer with 2000 hit Case of Ex Whatcha Gonna Do / Acts of environmental extremism / Guy de Maupassant's second novel / World capital on island of Upolu

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Constructor: Ryan McCarty

Relative difficulty: Easy (6:00 on an oversized 16x15, *with* a head cold, thankuverymuch!)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: SIGILS (20A: Ancient symbols of magic) —

1SEALSIGNET

2a sign, word, or device held to have occult power in astrology or magic (merriam-webster.com)
• • •

Dutchess, 2002-2019
HELLO, READERS AND SOLVERS IN SYNDICATION (if it's the week of Jan. 12-19, 2020, that's you!). It's January and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. It's kind of a melancholy January this year, what with the world in, let's say, turmoil. Also, on a personal note, 2019 was the year I lost Dutchess, who was officially The Best Dog, and who was with me well before I was "Rex Parker." Somehow the turning of the calendar to 2020 felt like ... I was leaving her behind. It's not a rational sentiment, but love's not rational, especially pet love. Speaking of love—I try hard to bring a passion and enthusiasm to our shared pastime every time I sit down to this here keyboard. I love what I do here, but it is a lot of work, put in at terrible hours—I'm either writing late at night, or very early in the morning, so that I can have the blog up and ready to go by the time your day starts (9am at the very latest, usually much earlier). I have no major expenses, just my time. Well, I do pay Annabel and Claire, respectively, to write for me once a month, but beyond that, it's just my time. This blog is a source of joy and genuine community to me (and I hope to you) but it is also work, and this is the time of year when I acknowledge that! All I want to do is write and make that writing available to everyone, for free, no restrictions. I have heard any number of suggestions over the years about how I might "monetize" (oof, that word) the blog, but honestly, the only one I want anything to do with is the one I already use—once a year, for one week, I just ask readers to contribute directly. And then I let 51 weeks go by before I bring up the subject again. No ads, no gimmicks. It's just me creating this thing and then people who enjoy the thing supporting the work that goes into creating the thing. It's simple. I like simple. Your support means a lot to me. Knowing that I have a loyal readership really is the gas in the tank, the thing that keeps me solving and writing and never missing a day for 13+ years. I will continue to post the solved grid every day, tell you my feelings about the puzzle every day, make you laugh or wince or furrow your brow or shout at your screen every day, bring you news from the Wider World of Crosswords (beyond the NYT) every day. The Word of the Day is: Quotidian. Occurring every day. Daily. Whether you choose to contribute or not, I'm all yours. Daily.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. This year's cards are illustrations from the covers of classic Puffin Books—Penguin's children's book imprint.  Watership Down, Charlotte's Web, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time, How to Play Cricket ... you know, the classics. There are a hundred different covers and they are truly gorgeous. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

Well this was unexpected. And by this I mean "my ability to finish a Saturday puzzle with facility despite having a head cold that has recently entered what can only be described as the Repulsive stage." Early in a cold, you remain physically presentable, you just feel terrible. Later in the cold, you feel somewhat better, but are probably best kept indoors, out of public view, among loved ones who are legally required to abide your physical repulsiveness. Anyway, I'm on the mend, but disgusting, and I crushed this puzzle. There are many things to like about this puzzle. The longer answers in particular all seem quite solid. I just think you absolutely kill "DEAR EVAN HANSEN" by giving it that absolutely dreadful nondescript clue (32A: Musical that won six Tonys in 2017). I get that you want to make it hard, what with its being Saturday and all, but something, literally anything that might give a sense of the musical, any detail, any color, would've been Welcome. I got the answer easily—largely because I had -ANSEN before I even looked at the clue—but still, that clue is unimaginative and undermines the JOY that that kind of answer is supposed to bring into the solving experience.


The other thing that cut against enjoyment was a handful of truly grating (to my ear) answers. Let's start with AUTOPEN, which I really want to be a magical floating pen that just writes your signature over and over again real fast and then floats away on some kind of FLYING CARPET, but I doubt that's what it is (16A: Device for mass-producing signatures). It seems it's used by lazy famous people who want to send "signed" photos etc. to all of the people who request them? I dunno. The pic I'm staring at looks prehistoric. I mean, the wikipedia article on AUTOPEN mentions Truman, so ...
look at this dumb thing (it was Kennedy's)
I've never heard of this *and* it seems dated, so it grated (rhyming!). EXTRA ONE also grated, since people only ever say EXTRA and then the ONE is implied. Do you have a spare? Do you have an extra? Spare = Extra. Spare one = EXTRA ONE. I'm just not that thrilled about that answer as a stand-alone. Most grating off all answers was ECOTAGE, ugh, what, I mean, I got it because I've seen that stupid term in crosswords (and *only* in crosswords) before. I guess it's for when you saboTAGE the ECOsystem or something? Dumb. I wanted ECOCIDE, which is equally dumb, and which I equally have seen exclusively in crosswords, nowhere else, ever. ECOTAGE sounds like it's trying to be fancy. Like when you commit environmental extremism in an ascot or something. ECOCIDE is just so déclassé. It's all ECOTAGE these days among the environmental extremist jetset. After the fromage and decoupage—ECOTAGE! Long and short of it is I hate this answer. Most other stuff in this grid seems just fine, and I mostly enjoyed the solve. I was very very weirdly on the puzzle's wavelength, just blowing through potentially thorny things like SIGILS, MOTTST, SANDP, ELEVENTY, BEL AMI (after I discarded BONAMI), even ECOTAGE (after I ruled out -CIDE).  Just lucky today, I guess. Gotta go get some hot water with lemon and honey and then lie under a blanket watching basketball til I fall asleep. More than you need to know, perhaps, but so be it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I'm getting mail about 10A: HHHHH (ETAS). "H" is the Greek letter ETA. So ... lots of H's = ETAS. Yeah, it's bad, but I've seen it a bunch before so I didn't even blink.

P.P.S. counterpoint to my AUTOPENANTIPATHY:


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

95 comments:

jae 12:04 AM  

Easy-medium with NE as the tough corner. SIGIL was a WOE and DEJA VU took TIME to click. ARNICA was also a WOE. It’s those kinds of answers that make you think “did I DNF?”

Lots to like here. The staggered horizontal and vertical stacks in the middle definitely have sparkle.

DEAR EVAN HANSEN was extremely vaguely familiar. Must have read about it in the newspaper. I have no idea what it’s about....OK, I just read the wiki article and now I know.

puzzlehoarder 1:02 AM  

A solidly late week solve. SIGILS was SIGMAS until I finished by back filling the NW. Luckily APIA is very common and DULLY is just a plain old word. MYA was another entry that relied on the crosses.

ELEVENTY wasn't real familiar but it became obvious rather quickly as the NW was the first section to fall.

I was surprised by how long it took me to remember 32A. I knew we recently saw it as a clue for EVAN but I had some kind of mental block trying to dredge it back up.

THIRDNUT would fit at 33D and it would be a much more colorful entry than the green paint that actually went in. Not much else in the way of made up entries. A very enjoyable puzzle.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

Fromage, decoupage, ecotage. Hee-hee!

robin 2:00 AM  

ELEVENTY is right out of the Fellowship of the Ring, so no prob there. And MOTTST, I have inline skated that crazy road many a time.

ECOTAGE was fine with me, as the clueing did not imply an ecoterrorist.

But frankly AUTOPEN killed me. I had the T and PEN and went for ROTOPEN. Took close to 5 minutes to figure out that it should be DULLY rather DOWDY, etc.

But TG for GREENMONSTER for giving me something obvious and big to work off of in solving the puzzle.

jae 2:00 AM  

I just caught up on yesterday’s blog. @Nancy - Baez did an album of Dylan songs titled “Any Day Now” in 1968.

Deep trivia - The opening of Bob Dylan's 115th Dream on the Bringing It All Back Home album is interrupted by Dylan and his producer laughing. The reason he was laughing was that Baez was frugging to the music. The inter tubes will claim it was because the band missed their cue but I’m sticking to the version I might have seen on a documentary?

“I went into a restaurant lookin' for the cook
I told him I was the editor of a famous etiquette book.
The waitress he was handsome and he wore a powder blue cape.
I ordered up some suzette, I said could you please make that crepe
Just then the whole kitchen exploded from boiling fat
Food was flyin' everywhere I left without my hat.”

Solverinserbia 2:18 AM  

17:12. NW with FRERES and BELAMI next to each other fell last. Luckily the long answers were pretty easy and VERBOTEN is a cool word.

Anonymous 4:59 AM  

Sigils crossing Apia? Rough.

Anonymous 5:14 AM  

Can’t imagine how UNSOBER avoided side-eye here. Ugh.

Klazzic 6:07 AM  

Poor, poor Rexie has a little cold.
WIFE: My husband has a cold. Do you have any of those euthanasia pills?
PHARMACIST (Ha, ha, ha) I think you mean echinacea pills.
WIFE: No, no no. I know what the hell I'm asking for.
Or
WIFE: Hubby and I both have colds. Only difference is I'm scrubbing floors and he's dying.
Fun puzzle. Surprisingly easy for a Saturday, maybe Will's early holiday gift. Loved the Fenway's GREEN MONSTER answer. Now that's a left field wall. I thought EXTRA ONE was just fine. Must be a REGIONAL thing. In the Republic of California, extra one is perfectly normal.

Get better, ya poor curmudgeon. Your wife must be a saint.

Lewis 6:37 AM  

@rex -- Rest, and wishing you a quick recovery.

Credit to Ryan and the editors to create answers and clues that result in revelation after revelation leading to a solve which earlier seemed unreachable. That requires art, talent, a drive for excellence, and a desire to serve the solver.

Lively long answers and lovely riddles abounding in the clues -- what a rewarding use of time, solving a puzzle like today's. I salute and thank you Ryan plus the editors for this wondrous thing you do.

Z 6:55 AM  

@anon5:14 - I know, Right? I suppose somebody somewhere might use it sarcastically?

@robin - ELEVENTY got my uber-nerd side-eye because Bilbo celebrated his ELEVENTY-first birthday. I just double-checked the interwebs in case I was misremembering, but no, my ubernerdsideeye was correct.

Anyone else try DingY? That NE corner was murderous. SIGIL looks familiar now but wasn’t coming to me and APIA is a LFC, so hardly something at the front of my world capitals list. I didn’t see that “hearts” was the card game until very late. I guess card games don’t rate capital letters unless they’re trademarked. Knowing felicity primarily as definitions 3 and 4 didn’t help, either (type in “felicity” in the search bar and Huffman is the first thing that appears - I don’t know which I find odder - that “crime” or the choice to prosecute it).

Do eco-terrorists do their ECOTAGE in ECONOCARs?

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

To say that MOTT STreet is an ARTERY is absolutely ridiculous. It's one way, one lane. Canal
Street is the artery through Chinatown. The Bowery is an artery dividing two parts of Chinatown. That is just really poor editing. They must have been UNSOBER when editing. I also don't mean to offend any Samoans, but when you say world capital, doesn't that imply rather grand and important places?

GILL I. 7:24 AM  

Yikes...Infusion of trivia. Either you know it or you don't. Most of it was of the I DON'T.
GREEN MONSTER? Ok, if you say so. LAD MAG? Sure, order me one. ECO TAGE? I had RAGE but then the Hemorrhoids took up first place on the RAGE. I've thankfully, never had the pleasure.
I'll say that there is some nice, lively stuff that I actually knew....NOOB was one of them. Oh, and I also got VERBOTEN.
When I lived in NYC I used to got to China Town and buy fresh fish. I wouldn't know MOTT ST even if I was UNSOBER.
Didn't know DEAR EVAN HANSEN because I haven't had the pleasure of a Broadway musical in many years. Also, my subscription to the New Yorker has expired. I'm not AMPERE.
@jae...yeah...."Any Day Now."
@Nancy....I love Judy Collins. Amazing that she can make a Dylan song sound so beautiful.....

Suzie Q 7:44 AM  

Tons of fun for our Saturday. Loved it.
As @ Lewis said. Things that seemed impossible finally came into focus. So many great clues like the one for deja vu.
Rex didn't like the clue for the play but for me there is no clue in the world that would have helped. Solid crosses saved me.
I didn't know the name of the wall but Green Monster is funny.
Now, off to look up how Man Ray took photos without a camera.

BarbieBarbie 7:52 AM  

Huh. And here I’ve been thinking that ECOTAGE is when you plant a tree in your cleavage. (Young man, you put that celery where it belongs!)

Hard for me, esp the NE. Very enjoyable.

Hungry Mother 7:58 AM  

Nice Saturday slog with a couple of wags to bring me home. No DNF for me today, but not easy.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Can someone please explain HHHHH being ETAS? Also, shout out to ChocoTacos.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

I think BELAMI is better known as a maker of gay porn videos than some obscure novel.

mmorgan 9:00 AM  

I stared at this forever, and then somehow 90% of it filled in almost by itself. But I was stuck for the longest time with cAmPAign MONEY instead of TAXPAYER and I just couldn’t take it out. The FBI CHIEF should have investigated that. I had a lucky guess on SIGILS (who?), but finally died down there with ECOTAGE and UTEP, both unknown to me. Even so, I liked this a lot, even the AUTOPEN.

Helen 9:02 AM  

@ Anon. 8:52, I dunno, it's all Greek to me.

Birchbark 9:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teedmn 9:19 AM  

I had a rough start on this one. BUENOS crossing UTEP and then nothing else down there. Skipped to the NE where APE HOUSE got the ball rolling. I wanted 1D to be "and sons". FillES would be daughters, Filses? I don't think so. So I left F_____ES in place and waited until REGIONAL made it "brothers".

@BarbieBarbie, with Rex's ECOTAGE rant, my mind went to dECOlleTAGE also!

Two surprise Y's for me today. I didn't expect 9D's "sans sparkle" to be an adverb, nor 25D, so TAX PAYER ___Ee was staring at me for a bit.

Best misdirection for me was 45D where I was expecting a slight twist for "Post" - I was thinking bosun (was I thinking it was spelled bos'n?). Hah, a literal post.

Ryan McCarty, thanks for a Saturday that gave me a bit of a tussle.

Birchbark 9:28 AM  

ECO NO CAR.

MAN RAY next to SIGILS is good, just for the stark art of the composition. FLYING CARPET is good.

Any answer that starts with "F" followed by a consonant "B" and ends with an "F" makes you wonder about things an awful lot until you realize it's FBI CHIEF, which is also good.

@Gill I. (7:24) re "Also, my subscription to the New Yorker has expired." I chuckled at that.

LtKije 9:28 AM  

Having used AUTOPENs as an intern on Capitol Hill, it was the very first thing I got and I loved it.

@Anon, BELAMI made me laugh for reasons discussed above.

SouthsideJohnny 9:31 AM  

MOTT ST is definitely not an “artery” in any sense of the word, and no way to lawyer it - horrendous editing.

LAD MAG and ECOTAGE, while not cringe-inducing, should be relegated to lesser publications.

Definitely don’t get the HHHHH clue. I’m also not seeing how we get from “four of hearts” to PLAYERS. Would “four of clubs” also count, or am I missing the wordplay there ?

Crimson Devil 9:32 AM  

Tough for moi. GREEN MONSTER provided much help, but could not save me. ? SIGILS, MANRAY, musical, APIA, ARNICA? I, too, was stuck on CAMPAIGNMONEY.

RooMonster 9:34 AM  

Hey All !
Another tough SatPuz here. Rex flew through this? Egads. Why we get a 16 wide Themeless is the question.

Some answers OK, but non-things LADMAG and UNSOBER??? Eek. Enough to put me in a (ROID)RAGE.

THEEMETS where Yankees fit, Grrrr....

Gotta get going on with my DULLY day. BUENOS Dias!

NOISY BILGE
RooMonster
DarrinV

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Hope you feel better soon!

Hartley70 9:49 AM  

Pretty easy Saturday, but I still found the long acrosses entertaining. My only slowdown was SIGIL. I had the SIG but needed to wait for the downs to finish. I might add that ELEVENTY is not the least bit funny, sorry.

I imagine MOTTST was cruel for the far out of towners, but I’m nostalgic for Hong Fat’s lo mein. It was the first meal I had the day I arrived in NYC in 1970 and the first Chinese food I ever tasted. I returned many times in that decade and would make the pilgrimage today if they still were open.

JC66 9:54 AM  

IN @Joe D's absence I'll post this re: MOTT ST



We'll have Manhattan,
The Bronx and Staten Island too.
It's lovely going through
The zoo.
It's very fancy
On old Delancey Street,
you know.
The subway charms us so
When balmy breezes blow
To and fro.
And tell me what street
Compares with Mott Street In July?
Sweet pushcarts gently gliding by.
The great big city's a wondrous toy
Made for a girl and boy.
We'll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Capital eta in the Greek alphabet looks like a capital H in the American one.

Unknown 9:58 AM  

Hhhhh- ETAS. ?????
Estimated times of arrival?

Mr. Cheese 9:58 AM  

Rex, you spend too much time kvetching about “meh”

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Just so you know, there are hundreds of people in Washington, DC alone who yesterday used auto pens.

Phipps44 10:04 AM  

Love it, thanks!

JC66 10:05 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny

As @Z explained above (6:55) "hearts" is a four PLAYER(S) card game.

QuasiMojo 10:15 AM  

I was sailing along until I hit the NW or HIT AT it! I've never heard of an AUTO PEN. I once knew a guy named OTTO FEN. So I smh and put in Roto Pen. After a while when things were not working out, I cheated and looked up Roto Pen to make sure it was a thing. And it was! So that held me up. Plus not having a capital H for Hearts messed me up. I kept thinking it was referring to the organ. But I guess it's okay. We don't capitalize bridge, do we. Otherwise I kinda liked the puzzle, even if it was SANS SPARKLE.

@GILL, I agree totally. Lol

Norm 10:22 AM  

Another hands up for CAMPAIGN MONEY before TAXPAYER MONEY [and I think misuse of the former for personal gain is far more common], but a nice puzzle all in all.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

to Lewis yesterday at 2:36 p.m. Thanks, and ouch! This is why I don't read murder mysteries. I get everything wrong!

Anon. i.e. Poggius

pabloinnh 10:36 AM  

Like some others, I found CANPAIGNMONEY a wonderful to get stuck for a very long time. Also, YANKEES fits nicely as a subway series side, but otherwise is unhelpful.Thank goodness for the GREENMONSTER, this puzzle's decoder ring. As for SIGILS, another day, another word learned, and just when I thought I knew all of them.

Thought this was just what a Saturday should be, even with some interruptions from a two-year old. Time with her gives a whole new meaning to precious nanoseconds.

Thanks for the Saturday fun, EMcC. Well played, sir. Well played indeed.



Texcritic 10:37 AM  

27 A: Malarky, six letters begin with B. Want to write in Biden, although the clue doesn’t clearly fit. In the future a clue could be Malarky Rider? BIDEN.

The puzzle had to have been written in advance of the former Veep’s Iowa Bus Campaign, but a coincidence for sure.

Newboy 10:50 AM  

Not easy in Idaho. Tough clues & New Yorker clueing made for slow fill. Thanks for the GREEN MONSTER that at least makes an appearance on ESPN from time to time. Nice work Mr McCarty. Northwest was last to fill since CIVET skunked me for way too long & HOED didn’t spring to mind as I tried to get plow or till or something to magically become past tense.

@Southside those four are players engaging in a card game

Hope OFL recovers soon as a lingering malaise would turn his sunny disposition sour🤯

Joaquin 10:50 AM  

My nomination for the coveted "Comment of the Year on Rex's Blog" award is puzzlehoarder @ 1:02 a.m. for: "THIRDNUT would fit at 33D and it would be a much more colorful entry than the green paint that actually went in."

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

@unknown

HHHHH = Etas, as in the Greek letter which resembles the Latin alphabet letter H.

Dr Christiaan Barnard 11:04 AM  

@"Mott St is not an artery!! It's small, one-way etc" Folk - Not all arteries are large, all are one way.

Nampa bob 11:06 AM  

dully?
unsober?
C’mon, mannnnnnnn...

deb 11:07 AM  

Is "four of hearts" players because Hearts is a card game?

Drinking Problem 11:12 AM  

Go home, puzzle. You're UNSOBER.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

@Dr Christian:

well... in one's chest and circulatory system. not streets/avenues/roads. here, I'll go find what the wiki says:
"The Central Artery (officially the John F. Fitzgerald Expressway) is a section of freeway in downtown Boston, Massachusetts; it is designated as Interstate 93, US 1 and Route 3. "
here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Artery

IOW, it's a big, wide piece of pavement.

Nancy 11:24 AM  

Since I've never heard of ELEVENTY, I ended up with ELo VENTY/I GoT IT and just said "Huh?" Was that the nickname of someone who was #110 on the Billboard Charts? So a DNF -- but on a puzzle where I thought it was going to be much, much, much worse.

Didn't know SIGILS. Didn't know ARNICA. Didn't know APE HOUSE in that context. Had RHOS instead of ETAS for the HHHHHH. (Don't ask.) Almost didn't finish the NE because of it. And why didn't AUTOPEN come to me sooner? When I was very young, I wrote a poem to Adlai Stevenson and "he" sent me an answer. Dad took one look at it and said that it had been signed by an AUTOPEN.

I finished the puzzle thanks to Larry Hart. Though I'm a lifelong New Yorker, I couldn't for the life of me think of what the main artery through Chinatown was. I never go down there -- too narrow, too crowded, and for my money, rather ugly. And then I remembered the lyrics to "Manhattan":

So tell me what street
Compares to MOTT STREET in July...?


July's the last month I'd go down there, but thanks anyway, Larry. A real struggle for me today, and a very enjoyable one.

Joe Dipinto 11:25 AM  

@JC66 – thanks for pinch hitting. They'll have to update the "My Fair Lady" part:

We'll take a chance on
"Dear Evan Hansen", even though
Our friends said 'save your dough – don't go'


This puzzle seemed desperate to have a "snazzy" answer in every possible slot, sticking us with UNSOBER, AUTOPEN, CHOCO TACO(!), ELEVENTY, SIGILS (!!) in the process. Unfortunately it wasn't much fun to solve.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Jeff Chen has some links to some Evan Hansen songs. This seems to be what modern musicals sound like. I rather like it.

PHV 11:42 AM  

Ditto.

Masked and Anonymous 11:54 AM  

@mmorgan: yep. Splatzed in CAMPAIGNMONEY, off the -EY endin. Precious nanoseconds trickled away, like political capital.

@pabloinnh: yep. Yer current spendin of the precious nanoseconds definitely sounds like a primo way to go. Keep it up. Ignore the runtpuz, if necessary.

@deb: yep. M&A had the preezact-same interpretation, on that PLAYERS clue. But, but … shouldn't Hearts maybe be capitalized in the clue, like U did in yer comment? Show yer game names some respect, right?. Just sayin.

staff weeject pick: From 8 pretty solid choices, gotta pick MYA. Gave M yand A the most trouble, ironically. Speakin of trouble …

That SE corner got extra feisty, due to that there ARNICA & LADMAG pairin. OTOH, Got GREENMONSTER offa nuthin. OTOOH, FRERES & BELAMI + SIGILS & MANRAY made our solvequest progress DULLY, for quite a spell, up top.

Best UN-meat in today's puppy: UNSOBER. har
Most scenic fillins included: ELEVENTY. DAIRYCOW. DEJAVU. CHOCOTACO.

Thanx for the wide load, Mr. McCarty.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


merry eleventy-eve:
**gruntz**

Nancy 11:58 AM  

I天后宫黄体他蛤他JoeDipinto我wouldbeat么to调和MOTT ST lyrics today, 不同JC66 地带。

This is too 妇女内衣。 I'llbe把存款。。。Needto图热闹哦方法没有computer!

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

When I die, I want Lewis to give my eulogy

Boston Blackie 12:13 PM  

The central ARTERY goes past the GREEN MONSTER, on a ROUTE you can take through the big dig (built with TAXPAYER MONEY) in your ECONOCAR chased by a POLICE CRUISER, fueled by ROID RAGE because the Saux lost to THE METS in an inter-league game.

Nancy 12:19 PM  

As I was trying to say just now, I thought @Joe Dipinto would beat me to the MOTT ST lyrics, but in fact, it was JC66 who did. And then, just as I was beginning to type, my computer burst into...Chinese!!!!!. I would have thought that was pretty funny -- Chinese as I was writing about Chinatown -- except that we are not amused when this happens. And it happens ALL THE TIME! The first time it happened, I turned off my computer and said a prayer to the computer gods that when I turned the computer back on the Chinese would be gone. And mercifully it was. So now I don't panic. I just feel the computer-caused variety of ROID RAGE and ECOTAGE. Plus an awful sense of DEJA VU.

FWIW, I'm pretty sure when this happens that my left hand, idle at that moment, rests on some key on that side of the keyboard. Does anyone know what I might have inadvertently hit? And how I can get rid of the Chinese without turning the computer off? FWIW again, Chinese is the ONLY language that the computer ever bursts into.

Thanks, if you have some thoughts.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Hobbits had elevenSES like all Brits do.

Randy (Boulder) 12:30 PM  

Never heard of ECOTAGE. I tried to coin ECOFARE (eco-warfare??), and even convinced myself for a while it had to be right.

SIGILS and MANRAY crossing APIA was a double Natick for me. At the end, I had to run the alphabet in many seemingly plausible combos on those two letters. Took a while! I'll count it as a non-DNF (an "F"?!) for purposes here, but I feel a bit dirty. APIA seems like I need to commit it to my xword cache.

jberg 12:31 PM  

Haven’t read the comments so I may be duplicating. But @Rex, sometimes you’re really out of it. ECOTAGE is pouring sugar into the gas tanks of bulldozers that are about to clear a forest or, less ethically, sinking big spikes into trees so that they will destroy the saws, and possibly kill their operators, in a lumber mill.

@Nancy, I’m seeing your comments in Chinese characters. Have you been hacked?

TTYL

David 12:32 PM  

Yep, the autopen is pretty old, Rex. Thomas Jefferson built the first one used by Presidents. He called it a "polygraph."

Actually it's the job of Congress to create a budget and spend taxpayer money. It's weird to think it's something they shouldn't be doing.

This was nice and crunchy for me even though some of the long answers came easily. Who knew "unsober" is and actual word? I looked it up, it is. I got etas on crosses and groaned. "Etaj" would have been cool. Ecotage is just silly.

Man Ray on Mott St. in July, among the fish mongers. Ripe.

The Joker 12:35 PM  

Definitely not!

Carola 12:36 PM  

Nicely tough for me, fun to finish. I especially liked the central "fantastical entities" column - the FLYING CARPET and GREEN MONSTER, flanked by EATS ALIVE and CHOCO TACO.

In the DEJA VU category (aka: help from previous puzzles): LAD MAG, APIA, UTEP, ETAS, NOOB. Decades of reading NYT restaurant reviews easily got me to MOTT ST, a thousand miles away though I am.

Re: SIGILS. Once upon an evening dreary, having pondered weak and weary, over many a student essay til my brain was woe and sore, suddenly I had to...satisfy my craving for a story I could get lost in, for sweet relief. Off to Borders (those were the days) and a survey of the shelf of YA fiction, where an unseen force directed my hand to Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy...which led over the years to more similar fantasy fiction...and to SIGILS, which feature prominently in Robert Jackson Bennett's Foundryside. Which I recommend, if that's a genre you like.

Andrew 12:38 PM  

While not an artery, Mott St. immediately pops to mind when I think of Chinatown

JC66 12:41 PM  

@M&A

Some card games, like Uno (probably your favorite) are capitalized because they're brand names. Others, like bridge (see @Quasi's 10:15 comment) aren't.

Masked and Anonymous 1:09 PM  

@JC66: yep. Really liked yer reply comment, especially the Uno part.
And I can sure kinda see yer point … except to M&A it's a matter of respect to whoever invented the game, Uknow.

Anyhoo, consider also this quote from the "Hoyle Up-To-Date" book …

"Hearts is so called because every card of the heart suit counts 'minus' when won in tricks. The object of play is usually the reverse of that in Bridge and other games, where the object is to win certain cards or tricks. Indeed, the 18th-century ancestor of Hearts was called REVERSE. The traditional game of Hearts is described first, but other forms such as BLACK LADY and OMNIBUS HEARTS (described later) have become more popular."

Their use of capital letters, not M&A's.
QED, ultimate game authority-wise.

M&A Game Help Desk

Z 1:18 PM  

Regarding the Great Artery Controversy, a perusal of various online dictionaries (M-W, Collins, Cambridge) all reference that an artery, in the sense of roads and rivers, be a “main route.” And, oh look, MOTT ST is “regarded as Chinatown's unofficial ‘Main Street.’” I’m thinking having a song about you is also evidence of being an “artery.”

@JC66 - I’m sure you are correct but I’m with M&A, we should show our card games a little more respect.

@anon12:26 - Yep. But the clue was “110, humorously,” not “110, Britishly.” The clue is right enough, it just trapped my uber-nerd in Hobbiton.

@Nancy - It sounds like you are changing your keyboard map. Computers come pre-loaded with various alphabets that you can type in. The manner of switching from one to another differs in different operating systems. There’s probably a control panel or setting somewhere that lets you control how that works.

Masked and Anonymous 1:23 PM  

p.s.
Real real sorry U are feelin/lookin poorly, @RP. Bummersville. Get well sooner than snot, so to speak.
And also … Happy Healthy Holidays, to U and yer entire quarantined household.

Now, off to write up some Christmas cards …

M&Also

JC66 1:32 PM  

@M&A

Well, if Hoyle and @Z say so, I acquiesce. ;-)

Rastaman Vibration 1:40 PM  

@Nancy - two of the more common language toggles are Shift-Space and Ctrl-Space (you press down the two key combination simultaneously). If if toggles to Chinese, press the same combination again to switch it back.

I agree that the editors should be able to weed out the UNSOBERs and ECOTAGEs of the world. They are able to make the puzzle plenty difficult enough without resorting to that type of nonsense.

Joe Dipinto 1:43 PM  

Mott Street is exactly no one's idea of an artery. Main artery, main drag, main road are all too grandiose for a ten-block stretch barely wider than an alley. But they couldn't use "street" in the clue, and they had to describe it as *something*.

Master Melvin 2:00 PM  

So if my wife complains about me hanging around the house in a ratty old SWEATSUIT, I can reply, "No dear, this is LOUNGEWEAR!"

I may be wrong, but I think of ECOTAGE as being what activists like Greenpeace do to the perpetrators of ECOCIDE. Useful distinction.

Richardf8 2:32 PM  

Thanks to the Green Monster, I eas able to hit it out of the park. (Though it typically has the opposite effect).

Frantic Sloth 3:06 PM  

Mott St. more resembles a lane than a main artery. CANAL St. is THE main artery through Chinatown, especially since when I imagine going “through” anywhere in NYC, it’s a crosstown trip rather than up/downtown. Maybe that’s just me, but I’m thinking not.

Note to UNSOBER: go home, you’re you.

And CAMPAIGN money immediately came to mind before any letters or the number of squares in the answer, so that turned into a quasi-slog.

ECOTAGE. Lots of very amusing alt-definitions in the comments for a word that doesn’t even deserve it, but there is still UNSOBER to unseat as the champion of WTF today.

ELEVENTY as clued seems closer to the “a large but unspecified number or quantity” definition. Perhaps “110, literarily” would be more apt if Tolkien was the actual inspiration?

And did I mention my unfondness for UNSOBER?


Solverinserbia 3:14 PM  

H is how the Greek letter eta looks. There are four players in the classic card game named hearts.

jberg 3:16 PM  

Back after doing (some of) the chores, to see ECOTAGE & LAD MAG are having their existence questioned. No,they are both real things! There was a long debate within the environmental movement about ECOTAGE. Read Judy Bari's Timber Wars if it interests you. As for LAS MAG, it's the British term for magazines that feature pictures of naked women as their main appeal. You know, like Maxim. I think I've seen the term back here in the USA as well, but I couldn't swear to it.

Back when I was a Congressional intern, in the summers of 1964 and 1965, we called it a robo PEN, so that held me up for a long time. As did cAmPAign MONEY. (@David, the clue says that politicans shouldn't "take it personally"--i.e., they're supposed to spend it in the public benefit.) I was further confused by YankeeS before THE METS, which didn't fit either alternative.

@Nancy, looks like you've solved the Chinese character problem. My son, a computer scientist, lived in Japan for 6 years; when I visited him I would often turn on the Japanese keyboard inadvertently. I can't remember the fix, but if you keep having trouble send me an email and I'll inquire.

I think ELEVENTY may be in Winnie the Pooh as well, but I'm not completely sure of that.

jberg 3:18 PM  

@Gill and @Nancy from yesterday: darn, you caught me being careless. I don't have a bottle of Jack Daniel's on hand, but a simple web search would have corrected my memory. My apologies for that.

What? 3:53 PM  

Too ugly for my taste. FBI - agent, Director, not CHIEF. UNSOBER - Ungood. TAXPAYER MONEY, CAMPAIGN.
ECORAGE. There are others UNfortuately.

W'Allee 5:21 PM  

Nancy, I'm not sure but check in your keyboard settings if there's a shortcut left-ctrl-shift or left-alt-shift to toggle with another keyboard layout. Perhaps you have also installed Chinese keyboard layout by accident?

pmdm 6:57 PM  

I kept at the puzzle till I solved most of it. It didn't hit me either way.

Nancy: Now is precisely the time to panic. While it may be result of you accidentally and unknowingly entering an odd key combination, it can also be the result of something more nefarious. If so someday rebooting may not solve the problem. So please keep a good up-to-date backup and try to find out the precise reason why the font changes on you. Before things get real ugly.

JC66 7:55 PM  

@Nancy

Don't panic.

CDilly52 8:36 PM  

Well, happy Saturday everybody! I just finished this - FINALLY!! I have been at it all day long in spurts and thought it was going to be a streak breaker for sure. Discovered early on that not only am I not anywhere near the wheelhouse, In pretty certain that Ryan McCarty would t even sell me a ticket to ride! The wordplay escaped me and I just had to keep coming back until I finally finished at just over an hour! Good puzzle and exactly the kind of Saturday workout I like!

Nancy 9:39 PM  

Why I am not panicking:

1) The Chinese writing always goes away when I turn the computer off for a few minutes and then turn it back on. I did panic the first time it happened, but now I just get annoyed.

2) I don't for a minute think it's a computer virus. Hackers have a lot better things to do then insert Chinese characters into the computer of a completely unknown person. Maybe if I were Hillary Clinton...Probably not even then.

A note to all who chimed in. I thank you all profoundly, but I didn't understand a single word anyone said about control panels and operating systems and keyboard set-ups and drop-down menus. Only one person said anything that might help in the future and that is @Rastaman Vibration. @RV -- it's quite possible that I hit either Ctrl and Space at the same time or Shift and Space at the same time. That would explain what my left hand was leaning on. I will put this info in the same drawer where I have @Teedmn's instructions on putting links in blue on this site. Then when my computer bursts into Chinese again, as it most surely will, I'll try pressing each combo and see if the Chinese disappears. If it works, I'll thank you now, in advance.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

The “ster” in greenmonster works into the “roid” of roidrage to form steroidrage.

Banya 10:10 AM  

DEAREVANHANSEN: Musical with a cast?

Geddit?

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

This totally threw me - I spent the majority of the rest of the puzzle searching for similar word bends.

kitshef 8:47 PM  

Good, tough Saturday puzzle. I'm always amazed at Rex's early-week times, but about three times a year he astounds me on a Friday/Saturday. This is one of those days.

spacecraft 11:41 AM  

The ampersandwich at 46a and BORAT were two things I could do without, but overall a pretty good Saturday. Ginormous gimme GREENMONSTER helped a lot. The puzzle seemed canted strongly toward the NYC solver (32a, a total WOE for me, 34d, 45a), but whaddyagonnado, it's a New York paper. Also LADMAG seems an awful stretch; I mean, IGETIT, but yikes! Maybe I should get UNSOBER first. This word sounds like Newspeak. I have seen some doubleplus UNSOBER folks in my time--and even was one once.

I remember being assigned to read "The BAMBOOZLING [caps mine] of Mr. Gascoigne" by deMaupassant; now there's a word we need to see in an upcoming grid! MYA serves as DOD quite well. Let's say, par.

Diana, LIW 2:36 PM  

"Easy" my cheesey peasy. I could NOT get started without help. But then finished with much Saturdayorial triumph.

Glancing thru @Spacey's comment, I thought I read "an awful stench," and wondered what was being alluded to. Oh, it's just my awful eyesight. Never mind. Must still be under the smelly spell of the bathroom(s) disaster of the other day.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 3:29 PM  

Plenty to like and unlike (UNSOBER, for instance)here. Adds up to a tough Saturday, but was pleasantly surprised by a relatively easy NW.

Likables: ELEVENTY (some levity there), DEJAVU (as clued), ECOTAGE, each of the helpful three-stack entries in the middle and the GREENMONSTER cutting through them). As for ROIDRAGE? Clever enough, but not sure its likable.

No complaints about the French, German, and Spanish.

Unlikables (aka, tough PPPs): SIGILS, MOTTST, ARNICA, LADMAG.

Signed by AUTOPEN.

Burma Shave 5:38 PM  

PAPAS UP

Some PLAYERS on THEMETS
HITAT only ELEVENTY-five,
ROADRAGE gives them THE SWEATS,
and THE GREENMONSTER EATS them ALIVE.

--- MILEY "MANRAY" SIGILS

rondo 6:24 PM  

With 1d and 1a gimmes FRERES then FBICHIEF I was off to a hot start that only slowed down for the FLYINGCiRcus blunder (Monty Python on the brain?). Huge crossing gimmes GREENMONSTER and POLICECRUISER (tho 'Fargo' has our REGIONAL version as a 'prowler').

Since blog readership seems to find ways to be offended, I was surprised that *not one* of the 'well-educated' bunch above said a peep about CHOCOTACO as a perjorative. Takes a near senior citizen from FLY-over country to know that?


(EXTRA! EXTRA!) Hollywood EXTRA,ONE time wild child, MILEY Cyrus RANKS right UP there in the all-TIME xword yeah baby ratings. I even like how she SWEATS.

Quick -ish, clean-ish grid. Didn't TAKE as much TIME as a normal Sat-puz.

BS2 6:28 PM  

It appears that AUTO-correct prefers ROaDRAGE over ROIDRAGE.
Mental note: TAKETIME to proofread.

rondo 7:03 PM  

BTW - don't expect much from me for a while. I'm off to a conference all next week. Beautiful, frozen northern MN for the coldest (on average) week of the year. Faaaaaaaaaaantastic.

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