Rarest naturally occurring element in earth's crust / SAT 12-7-19 / Nigerian novelist Tutola / Reduplicative girl's name / 2000s rock singer with hit albums Hell-On Middle Cyclone / Yoga pose similar to Upward-Facing Dog / Opera heroine who slays witch / Japanese city on Tokyo Bay / Old-fashioned attire for motorist

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Constructor: Kevin G. Der and Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Challenging (11:56)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: AMOS Tutuola (10D: Nigerian novelist Tutuola)
Amos Tutuola (20 June 1920 – 8 June 1997) was a Nigerian writer who wrote books based in part on Yoruba folk-tales. [...] Tutuola's most famous novel, The Palm-Wine Drinkard and his Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads' Town, was written in 1946, first published in 1952 in London by Faber and Faber, then translated and published in Paris as L'Ivrogne dans la brousse by Raymond Queneau in 1953. Poet Dylan Thomas brought it to wide attention, calling it "brief, thronged, grisly and bewitching". Although the book was praised in England and the United States, it faced severe criticism in Tutuola's native Nigeria. Part of this criticism was due to his use of "broken English" and primitive style, which supposedly promoted the Western stereotype of "African backwardness". This line of criticism has, however, lost steam. (wikipedia)
• • •

Saw the constructor names and thought "O dang, this is gonna be hard." Then I got a little bit of the way in and ... the NW pretty much just fell. I mean, not Super easy, but very doable. So I thought, "Hey, maybe this isn't gonna be so bad." And I made my way down the west coast, and then ... nothing. Stuck. Tried to move into the NE—nope. Lucked into a good first guess at 34D: "Go ahead, ask" (FIRE AWAY) and got the far SE done, but even then, even with chunks filled in here and there, all over the grid, I was flailing for much of this. I just sort of ... oozed my way to the end. I'd say HEADBANDS, on the one hand, and CLOMP, on the other, were the twin epicenters of my trouble. Had HEADBA--S but couldn't see how clue could work with "S" at end (which, honestly, should've been and probably was ultimately the thing that made me realize [Do loops?] was a noun and not a verb phrase. As for CLOMP, my goodness (28D: Really hit one's stride?) ... I had ELOPE in there at one point, with ERIE (wrong) OGLE (right) and LOW FAT (right) "confirming" it. I didn't understand how that clue could point to ELOPE, but I figured, it's Saturday, I'm sure it's just one of those tricky clues that I'll grasp later. Hoo-whee, wrong. Pretty clear now, in retrospect, that finally figuring out the symmetrical answers HEADBANDS and WRAP PARTY (which ELOPE was blocking) was what turned me from dead-stuck to slowly moving. After WRAP PARTY, the SW wasn't too hard. NE proved much tougher, though it somehow took me a long time to even look at 4A: The "dark" in a Dark and Stormy, perhaps (JAMAICAN RUM), which really would've helped me, as I could've at least guessed the RUM part. Anyway, finally got the Puzzle Solved! signal at the "M" in AMOS (who, along with sounds-like-a-"Star Wars"-villain ASTATINE and not-"SHERRI"-or-"DIANNE"-but "RONNIE," I'd never heard of). (10D: Nigerian novelist Tutuola + 35D: Rarest naturally occurring element in the earth's crust + 12D: Name that's the title of a 1964 4 Seasons hit)

Here's just a list of all the ways things went bad:

The Things:
  • 1A: Shaken thumb, in American Sign Language (TEN) — no idea
  • 18A: How a security guard might say goodbye? (GOTTA BOUNCE) — this is actually terrible corny wordplay, not a proper "?" clue. 42A: Setting for a plastered cast? (WRAP PARTY)—*That* is a proper "?" clue.
  • 24A: Mascot of the W.N.B.A.'s Mystics (PANDA) — wanted the name of some ... wizard or magician or famous ... mystic? But it's just ... PANDA? Does she even have a name?
  • 25A: Most actors don't hold real ones, informally (CIGS) — a. hard!, b. really?? I've seen so many actors smoke on screen I just don't know where the "most" is coming from here.
  • 28A: Language from which "Saskatchewan" comes (CREE) — As I mentioned above, I had ERIE here
  • 33A: Light on packaging (LOW-FAT) — The lack of quotation marks around "Light" feels like a crime
  • 39A: League leader, informally (COMMISH) — ohhhhh, the person in charge of the league. Not the team in first place. Sigh. Gotcha.
  • 40A: E.U. alliance (G-SIX) — me: ".... UNIX? Like ... les états ... unix?"
  • 48A: Opposite of calm (PANIC) — any other MANICs out there? ... anyone? ...
  • 54A: Patchwork? (BETA RELEASE) — I don't even get this one. I thought betas were pre-releases? So what's being ... patched? Exactly? Also, ask me how excited I am by STEM-related jargon ...
  • 44D: Japanese city on Tokyo Bay (CHIBA— I know a martial arts actor named CHIBA, but Japanese city ... no, can't say it rings a bell. I was like "is there really a city named CHINA ... in Japan?")
  • 4D: The tunes "The Blarney Pilgrim" and "The Lark in the Morning," e.g. (JIGS) — I mean ... if you say so ...
  • 9D: Yoga pose similar to Upward-Facing Dog (COBRA) — baffled by this (at first), which is highly amusing for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that I was in both updog and COBRA as recently as Tuesday night. Sigh. 
  • 36D: Energy regulators in the body (THYROIDS) — my dumb ass seriously wrote in ADYNOIDS at one point, wow
All that, on top of the previously mentioned trouble with HEADBANDS, CLOMP, AMOS, "RONNIE," ASTATINE, etc. I'm probably most mad at the fact that I got NEKO CASE almost entirely from crosses without ever having looked at the clue—that would've been a gimme for me!! Would've felt great to just throw it down with no help from crosses, bam. But that's one of the weird things about solving—no telling where your eyes are gonna go first. I've got a bad habit of really really holding off on even looking at the longer clues until I've dealt with their shorter crosses. Mostly this works, but sometimes, esp. if I get frustrated with the shorter stuff, I *forget* to just at least *check* the clues on the longer answers. I assume I'll *need* the shorter crosses to make sense of the long stuff. But not always. Anyway, a worthy, hard puzzle that made me feel bad about myself! Which is my problem, not (mostly) the puzzle's.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:07 AM  

I used to think I was well-educated, but this puzzle made me feel like an ignorant buffoon.

After unsuccessfully trying to determine what a BETARE LEASE is (perhaps 36 months with the latest Italian import) I gave up and read the constructor's notes.

And what kind of genius figures this stuff out:

“ASTATINE, is ephemeral, a byproduct of radiation that is so rare that science says just 25 grams of it naturally exist on Earth, at any given time, because it destabilizes so quickly. You can make your own though, by bombarding bismuth-209 with alpha particles in a particle accelerator."

I just might try that. Can I get bismuth-209 from Amazon?

jae 12:10 AM  

NW easy, NE medium, SW easy-medium, SE very tough. ASTATINE was a WOE, COMMISH was cute but not obvious, Toot before TEAR didn’t help...very tough, even though CREE was a gimme. We took a train ride on the RockyMountaineer a few years ago and learned a bunch of Canadian stuff.

@Rex - Me too for mANIC at first.

Lots to like here. A fine Sat.!

puzzlehoarder 12:26 AM  

A real Saturday for once. It's been awhile since we've had this level of challenge and it was very welcome.

Starting in the NW wasn't so bad, I had a NIKO/NEKO write over and TRESCHIC was a little hard to recognize. After that initial success things slowed down. I went counterclockwise mainly because the NE was freezing me out.

The SW was no picnic either. Between GSIX, GRETEL and CHIBA I had to skip ahead to LACES and LIARS then brainstorm TWINKLY just to slowly backfill that corner.

The SE wasn't so bad but that NE really held out. For 4D I initially guessed LAYS then I tried RAGS and finally JIGS. That could have been a lot easier but for the longest time I had no idea where that 4A clue was going. Mixed drink knowledge is one of my many weak points.

A great solving experience. It took almost three times as long to finish as yesterday's.

Brian 12:27 AM  

CHIBA is the new Natick

James 1:29 AM  

To say this was challenging is putting it mildly. It took me longer than this week's M-F combined times! On an aesthetic level, can't say I'm a fan of AMO and AMOS appearing so close to each other, but it was really the SW that did me in.

Jyqm 1:39 AM  

... Does Rex that the actors he sees puffing away on screen are smoking real cigarettes?

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Like Rex, saw the constructors names and unlike Rex said “Oh shit, I’m toast”. And I was. CHIBA, never heard of it, Do loops, HEADBANDS, that’s a stretch, I MET SOMEONE, another stretch. I did like WRAP PARTY and it’s clue. METHANE at 6D was pretty funny also. O.K. In hindsight I did like it after I finished, just took me a long time to get there.

Loren Muse Smith 2:45 AM  

I’m always impressed by how Rex remembers the trajectory of his solving experience. I think my first entry was “bag” for USE. After that, I can’t remember much of the ugly hour or so that I stared at all the white, penciling in wrong stuff, erasing, adding desperate final S’s, erasing some more. . . Geez Louise this was a beast.

The cluing was masterful. “Post-match report” is a hall of famer. And unlike Rex, I loved the clue for GOTTA BOUNCE. I had GOTTA BO _ _ _ E and kept imagining “gotta boogie.” Snickering that that could have been my son’s mantra back in his rhino excavation days.

“Incisors” before EYE TEETH
“Osaka” before “Ohiba” so, obviously. . .
“Oran” for the juice portmanteau start.

I sorted that part out but still had a dnf with “astacine/seaco”

Schwarzbrot and Volkornbrot are terrific words for RYE bread. I’m reminded that pumpernickel is German for “fart goblin.”

Loved the misdirect for LOW FAT – “light on packaging.” Wouldn’t it be great if stuff like digital thermometers and electric toothbrushes didn’t come in those hard-as-crap plastic packages that basically only a chain saw can open?

“Topic in education policy” – who knows what the flavor of the month ever is. In our district, it’s currently the idea of a PBL-only system. The powers-that-be read a book, get a grant, give us teachers a couple of days after school to watch some PowerPoints and bam - we’re in the trenches undertrained. Flailing and failing.

@chefwen - I know, right? The clue for METHANE was sneaky. Is it still true that the world’s cows contribute so much to the greenhouse gas problem, or has that been debunked? I’m too lazy to look. I’d be more interested to know if there’s a German breed of cow called Pumpernickel.

ZenMonkey 2:56 AM  

Make a thumbs-up sign. Twist your wrist so the thumb shakes back and forth. That's TEN in ASL. Like "hang TEN" without the pinky.

Phil 3:07 AM  

I managed to guess my way into a lot of this but thought it was medium. but my time was way high thanks to staring at something besides BETA RELEASE. Agree with Rex that a patchwork is a a minor release not a beta. Patch is made and released to fix a program. Not major just a fix...anyhoo stuck in BETA and said wrong and had to search for the WANDA PANDA mistake.
CREE was my guess and CIGS was obvious to me but I had stage actors in mind.

GOTTA BOOGIE for a second though wasn’t sure how it applied. Just more common saying to my ears.

Phil 3:10 AM  

oh yeah. Thinking of a chemical maybe STEROID. Aha moment for me.

loved the puzzle

Brian 4:49 AM  

One of those tough Saturday puzzles that I knew from the get-go that I wasn't connecting with the mindset of the constructors ... so I reacted to all of the hard-fought-for answers with a feeling of utter resignation: "Oh, okay, that makes sense."

Z 5:30 AM  

Had that “What kind of natick is this” feeling at C-IBA/-EN while wondering “Tom who?“ So much so that it took me several precious nano-seconds post solve to realize we were talking turkey. D’Oh! Fortunately CbIBA and CkIBA didn’t work. I guess ClIBA was plausible but I went with HEN without actually understanding why.

Hand up for mANIC. I, however, did look at 3D, own both those albums, and plugged in NEKO CASE immediately. I also own her other albums, all her stuff as co-lead singer with The New Pornographers, the various times she’s sung back-up with Calexico, and her joint case/lang/veirs album. So, yeah, wheelhouse.

On the other hand, I’m totally not getting the “corny wordplay” of GOTTA BOUNCE. I did consider GOTTA BOogiE there.

No problem with BETA RELEASE. It is a “work” that anticipates it will need software “patches.” Mostly done but needing broader use to find the problems the software coders didn’t find on their own. That’s pretty much a perfect clue.

@LMS - I’m a big believer in Project Based Learning, but anytime an “only” is included we have problems. The whole point is that different students learn differently. Project Based is as wrong for some kids as a tome-like text is for other kids. Good instruction will always include a mix of pedagogical styles.
As for METHANE - Ruminants and Rice are major sources. It seems different feed may be an answer. Not pumpernickel, though.

Anonymous 5:38 AM  

Chiba is also an entire prefecture of Japan, with the capital city being Chiba. I was kinda bothered by the comment about China, like all far eastern place names overlap...

Z 6:25 AM  

@Anon5:38 - It has nothing to do with CHIBA being “eastern” and everything to do with looking for familiar patterns. Note the way Rex phrased it, as something improbable. Curious, because I’ve never heard of CHIBA, either, I googled CHIBA and found it is the 14th largest city in Japan. Outside the US, I don’t think there’s a country for which I could easily list 14 large cities (and in the US I can only do it because large cities have sports teams). That’s the reason I had to try every letter of the alphabet to figure out “Tom’s partner.” I was saved the CHInA indignity by already having BETA RELEASE.

Lewis 6:31 AM  

Tough and impressive, what I would expect from these two who are exalted on my puzzle maker list. It threw me into the far away from far away from everything in the world zone, that place reserved for maximum focus. JIG made me dance one, because it gave me JAMAICAN RUM, and lifted the BARRIER TO ENTRY that I was trying so hard to chip away at.

A sign that puzzle makers are thinking outside their constructing software is NYT debut answers, and there are eight here: ALARM SYSTEM, CREW MATE, GOTTA BOUNCE, I MET SOMEONE, IT CHECKS OUT, ITS GONE, WEDGED IN, AND JAMAICAN RUM. Tough and impressive.

A sign that puzzle makers are talented are clues that outwit you to the point where you have to nod your head in respect as well as clues that make you smile. For me there were many of both: Those for ATTEND, I MET SOMEONE, LOW FAT, CREW MATE, UNCAGE, LIARS, WRAP PARTY, COMMISH, and GOTTA BOUNCE. Tough and impressive.

Do return soon please, gentlemen, and take me once again to total absorption and esteem. This was a memorable bear and boon. Thank you!

JJ 6:43 AM  

I finished, and couldn’t believe that BETARE LEASE was correct! What a great ride with so many gotcha clues.

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

Worst puzzle of the year for me - there are so many obscure, convoluted clues it stops being fun to solve. Sigh, let’s hope for a decent puzzle tomorrow... ogle offensively clued too IMO.

amyyanni 6:53 AM  

Hoping my time in the 10K I'm off to is swifter than my solving time! Pshew.

sf27shirley 6:57 AM  

If anyone's interested, the name of Ice-T's character on Law and Order SVU is Fin Tutuola and was inspired by the novelist. It means "gentle man."

QuasiMojo 7:22 AM  

Not as hard as some other Agard puzzles (perhaps his CREW MATE helped make it Agard LIGHT.) tons of fun even if I had WELDED them WEDDED before WEDGED IN. That fruity LOOPS clue nearly did me in.

BUT I have to say that A LA MODE and TRES CHIC don't really match up. One usually says "trés à la mode" anyway. And someone or something trés chic is more than just in fashion. They are setting the standard, not following it.

A friend of mine had a trés chic CRANberry red CAR COAT that she bought at Bergdorf's. It cost almost as much as the car.

Suzie Q 7:45 AM  

Another bumpy ride but I loved it. Too bad that SW corner did me in.
I felt so good to get some of those tricky answers that I will forgive myself for not knowing Chiba (doesn't sound Japanese to my ears) and beta release. Thinking lease was a complete word just left me dead in the water. Fun even in defeat!

GILL I. 8:08 AM  

Well we all know that Saturday cluing is supposed to be fiendish - this was hell on wheels for me. I suppose I need to over think and then know full well what you read isn't really what you think you've read. I love devilish cluing but this one threw me into the pits of despair.
Let's see: I didn't know COBRA, I didn't know AMOS, had HATH instead of DOST...COMMISH? really? GLINDA snuck her head in instead of GRETEL. My bad...I think GLINDA was the good witch. The last thing in the world I thought of was JAMAICAN RUM for a "Dark and Stormy Night." Why didn't Frankenstein fit?
What else....While I hated some of the cluing, I loved several others. Liked HEAD BANDS and WRAP PARTY. CIGS was cute as well - considering our discussions yesterday. GOTTA BOUNCE is a new phrase for moi. and then my final DNF at 54A. GET A RELEASE? NET ARE LEASE? RETAIL EASE? What the hell? And CHIBO? Oh, goody - another city I don't know.
I tip my hat off to those that finished sans Googs. Do everyone a favor and don't eat LOW FAT CHEESE.

Preferred Customer 8:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
PaulyD 8:37 AM  

I don't mind occasionally getting my a** handed to me if I can look back after I've finished and feel that the puzzle was not unreasonably constructed and/or clued (and I learned things worth knowing). The previous comments provide ample evidence of why this was not true. An irredeemably (and unnecessarily) unpleasant experience through and through.

kitshef 8:42 AM  

A couple of places where even though I filled everything in, I have no idea what it means. GOTTA BOUNCE in particular has me baffled. Tom and HEN I guess is turkeys, but that took me a long time post-solve to see. And what are PANES, in this context?

Good, challenging puzzle – provided GOTTA BOUNCE has a reasonable explanation.

Update: went and checked out wordplay. Their explanation for GOTTA BOUNCE makes no sense, so unless I hear are good one, puzzle loses two points on the ten-point rating scale for that.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

so people refer to dates as matches? cool cool

kitshef 8:55 AM  

Oh and the clue for ITS GONE seemed off to me, in that it seemed like all of, rather than part of, an announcer's home run call.

ez 8:56 AM  

Re: cigs, the cigarettes you see actors smoke in movies made within the last few decades are fake (herbal), containing no tobacco or nicotine. (SAG generally prohibits real cigarettes.)

Preferred Customer 8:58 AM  

@Z regarding adwars yesterday: Samsung vs Apple. Many have chosen Samsung over Apple and other phones for price and value.


mmorgan 9:07 AM  

Hard hard hard with so much I didn’t know, but somehow, it fell! Whew! What a workout! I’ve been too busy to write anything here for the last few days but I loved loved loved Thursdays puzzle.

SouthsideJohnny 9:07 AM  

Rex found this challenging, so no surprise that it is unsolvable for a lowly cruciverbalist-wanna-be like myself. Some of the stuff (most of which Rex mentioned) is beyond brutal. I understand the subtlety around BETA RELEASE - I guess the company is hoping that it is close enough to “market ready” that minor errors can be patched, so ok.

In their never ending quest to outdo themselves, today the NYT staff decided to forgo making up words, but decided to make up a 1960’s era band instead - just for the record, RONNIE was a hit song for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (There was no band named the “4 Seasons”). I have a hard time believing that the Times’ editors are so bumbling and incompetent that they can miss something like that - it must be some type of an inside joke.

From the feedback here, it appears that today we have a pretty good puzzle if you are an A-Grade solver. Hopefully us mere mortals will have a better chance come tomorrow.

Klazzic 9:08 AM  

Even though your blog appearances are becoming Carsonesque, I think your blogviating is at a high after a day off. Crisp and funny writing, Rex. Good Saturday to you.

TJS 9:08 AM  

Great challenge, perfect for a Saturday. From incisors to eyeteeth,manic to panic,pedi to perm. Great cluing, IMO. One of my boys uses "Gotta bounce" all the time. When I kid him about it, he says, "Dad, you still say "Far out".
Hard to clue "ogle" without offending.
@LMS, yeah, I think the cow/methane thing is real. I seem to have read recently that dairy and pig farmers are all up-in-arms about climate-related tax schemes that would effect their bottom lines.

Leslie 9:34 AM  

Let me add my voice to the questioning on "gotta bounce"--I know it's like "gotta go", but what connection with security guard?

Hrs 9:34 AM  

I am just a lowly average NYT crossword solver. It is sometimes good to just give up and admit I have been bested. Loved looking at the finished product. But could not admire it during the solve.

mathgent 9:45 AM  

Not a pleasing solving experience. Sixteen red plus signs in the margin (good), six unfair clues (bad). I needed four lookups to finish over two sittings (last night and this morning).

The six unfairs. BOUNCE, "Do loops?" -- the clue and the entry, GSIX, "Disbar?" for UNCAGE, "Other hand" for CREWMATE, "Really hit one's stride?" for CLOMP.

I like doing hard puzzles. I spend a lot of time on the Patrick Berry variety puzzles in WSJ, like those titled Rows Garden. Also cryptics by Cox and Rathvon. But their clues are invariably fair.

JC66 9:45 AM  


It's Saturday's, so cluing a (nightclub) BOUNCER (18A) as a "security guard" works for me.

Joel Palmer 10:02 AM  

GOTTABOUNCE? you gotta be kidding me? this one was just ugly

Jean 10:06 AM  

We did Rocky Mountaineer for our 50th anniversary and loved it. Learned about Cree also.

RooMonster 10:07 AM  

Hey All !
Yikes. Here's your tough SatPuz all you sadists out there were looking for. Didn't all out cheat, but did use Check Puzzle feature with wild abandon.

GSIX, man, I got it once I got it, but having G_IX, I only wanted an R for some weird reason.

CLOMP doesn't resonate ad hitting one's stride.

LOL at Rex's PANDA screed. I thought the same thing! How is a PANDA "Mystic" related?

Wanted FANGsomething or STAKEsomething for 2D.

Looking for a sports related recap something for I MET SOMEONE. Nice misdirect.

Rhonda for RONNIE first. "Help Me Rhonda" @Joe D?

Just a toughie all over. Ended my 4 week Correct No Cheat SatPuz Run. Oh well.

WII AND YES, SE corner. HAR.


Teedmn 10:14 AM  

I made the mistake of looking at the constructors' names this morning before solving. I don't know if that psyched me out or not but this was very hard - 37 minutes is about 10 minutes over my Saturday average. Wow.

HAR, @Phil 3:07, when I had _A__D_ in at 24A, I thought wANDA might be a cute name for a team of Mystics but decided that was too cute and besides, mystics aren't sorcerers though they all blend together in what I consider NEU-ageyness. Meanwhile, I agree with Rex - PANDAs?

From thinking that a Dark and Stormy was like a Black and Tan (Guiness beer fits in at 4A, too bad it's spelled Guinness and thank goodness for Guinness that I couldn't find any crosses that would fit) to changing 35D from ASTArINE to ASTAmINE to finally thinking maybe SEA_O was like NATO and coming up with the hail Mary (tomorrow's the Immaculate Conception, after all) ASTATINE to serendipitously save me from DNF, this beat me up. And yes, that was all one, unwieldy, probably grammatically incorrect, sentence.

I found the nooks and CRANnies of the NW and SE to be the most unyielding. "Reduplicative" in 23A's clue, e.g. I had the final E and was willing to consider that reduplicative meant palindromic so maybe "ellE" might work. But I didn't have to give my EYE TEETH for inspiration, 2D fixed my NW miscalculations.

44A's CRAN went in, then out when I couldn't think of any Japanese cities starting with C. CHIBA, right. PE__ was left open for a while at 48D while I wondered if it was PERM or PEdi. After all, no abbr. signal was given at the nearby STEM so...it's Saturday.

I really liked the misdirection attempt on 26A's "Do loops?" (though it didn't work on me.) It did take me a while to see HEAD BANDS. Do those Princess Leia buns have a name besides Princess Leia buns?

The aforementioned ASTATINE was my last entry and my seventh rung on the salmon ladder. Thanks, Jeff Chen, for that metaphor.

KGD and EA, thanks for the great work-out!

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Hated the puzzle but beyond that: Dark and Stormy is a trademark of Goslings rum, it CANNOT have Jamaican rum in it, not to mention that it would taste terrible.

Jean 10:19 AM  

Refers to a "bouncer" a security guard at a venue for instance.

SJ Austin 10:33 AM  

"What's updog?"

webwinger 10:35 AM  

A great challenge and great fun today. I’m chasing a 1-year streak*, and feared for a good while that this puzzle would do me in, but in the end I succeeded with a time just a bit over average.

*I accomplished this, of course, with the help of my good buddy Google. Found a map of Tokyo Bay, and there was CHIBA! Having popular music experience that basically came to a halt after the Beatles broke up, I needed my friend’s help to get NEKO CASE. Without that “cheating”, I would probably have given up on this, and missed the joy of figuring out EYE TEETH, WRAP PARTY, THYROIDS (I’ll forgive the plural, just this once), and on and on. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if this is cheating, I’m proud to be a cheater…

Agree that @Rex was in fine form today, and many other contributors have added good things to the mix. Still chuckling over @Joaquin’s contemplation of home-made ASTATINE.

The name Kevin G. Der always reminds me of ROY G BIV, the spectral guy. Some other constructors’ names also strike me as sounding like anagrams or acronyms or mnemonics, that a clever cruciverbalist might have invented for themself. (Is that the right form for reflexive singular woke they?)

Amie Devero 10:40 AM  

Beta release is a patched ( and generally improved) version of an alpha release. One of the few clues that I got fairly quickly. Most of the rest of this puzzle was so hard I wondered if I was getting early onset Alzheimer's or something. Can't believe I even finished it.

Wanda Chiba 10:47 AM  

Not sure what all the hubbub's about, bub. I raced through this one. Easy peasy, CRANlemon peasy. There really should be a cranlemon juice. Like lemon-ade but with cranberries.

Agard's cluing is fairly predictable once you catch on.

One slip up was with PANDA for which I scribbled in wANDA...I mean a team like the Mystics should have a mascot named Wanda, right? You know, a wand. I was disappointed to have to erase that.

I also used to work building pig barns in my college days in central Iowa. Methane gas is a huge consideration in pig farming. There were all kinds of stories of pig barns blowing up because the pit wasn't properly vented.

Petsounds 10:49 AM  

As soon as I saw Erik Agard's name, I knew I was in for a long solve time and a delicious experience--and I was right. All the crappy fill most of us complain about daily? None of that here! And the long answers were devilishly clever. My favorite was GOTTABOUNCE, and Rex is dead wrong when he says it's "not proper wordplay." HAR, Rex! It's perfection! Also loved HEADBANDS, despite the fact that I got that clue on the Downs and had to stare at "Do loops" for a while to figure out how it worked. Finally, Oh--DOOOOOOO! I put in JOBS for what most actors don't hold real ones of (Now, there's a sentence construction for you!), then changed it to GIGS and kept that for the longest time. CIGS took me forever!

But I don't mind the struggle and the long solve time when it's because the puzzle is challenging, instead of because it's sloppy and poorly edited. This was thoughtful, clean, clever, fresh, and really, really hard. And yeah, CHIBA is the new NATICK.

Nancy 11:09 AM  

A horrible experience, but I somehow managed to finish -- except for the HEN (Tom's partner??? Give me a break!)/CHIBA/BETA RELEASE (patchwork?????) section. Then I asked myself why?

I can't remember what Kevin Der has or hasn't constructed in the past, but Erik Agard is emblazoned in my memory. I always feel he clues his puzzles while he has, spread out in front of him, an encyclopedia, an atlas, a dictionary, a dictionary of contemporary slang and a master list of the world's most obscure pop songs and singers. I always feel he wouldn't know half these answers if he hadn't looked stuff up while writing the clues.

In addition to the who-knows-this? names like EEKOCASE, RONNIE, Tutuola AMOS, there was the weird GOTTA BOUNCE; the unfairly clued I MET SOMEONE and the has-anyone-ever-heard-of-it ASTATINE.

You're supposed to finish a tough puzzle feeling really smart. I felt really dumb and thoroughly dispirited.

Oh, and btw, because my NYT arrived many hours late and because I for once looked at the clock when I finally sat down to do the puzzle (10:09) I actually know for the first time in my life exactly how long this puzzle took to "solve" (minus the H and B of CHIBA). It took approximately 40 minutes, give or take a minute one way or the other. Since I felt it took forever, just about all my other solves would come in much, much faster than this one.

Sophronisba 11:10 AM  

For 48A, I had not only MANIC but, at one point, ANTIC.

I have never heard of ASTATINE.

Newboy 11:10 AM  


Blank stares & noting Eric and an accomplice as creators didn’t settle the stomach butterflies today. Usually we solve individually with herself on paper and me iPadding softly toward closure. Today’s great puzzle required a full tag team effort. Thanks for a wonderful weekend start Kevin, Erik and yes, even Rex! Even Will couldn’t screw this one up. GOTTA BOUNCE to prior posts to see if others enjoyed as much.

dadnoa 11:12 AM  

Pretty much agree with Rex and at least 4 comments (Bad play on Frankie Valli......) Searched Ronnie in Spotify. It shows up 7th in the songs list. Next time, I suggest the constructor use Ronnie by Metallica. It came out in 1996 making it much more accessible to solvers. The 4 Seasons version is just plan bad. Even worse than Sugar, Sugar :)

Birchbark 11:15 AM  

@Anonymous (10:17) -- a Dark & Stormy made with JAMAICAN RUM is actually a CHIBA Libre.

David 11:21 AM  

@Southside, not in 1964, only sometimes after 1970, when they lost their 2nd original member.

This was a slog for me. A fun slog though. I still don't understand "clomp" which, to me, connotes and unsteady stride, but whatever. It's also odd being next to glops.

Maybe it's a New York accent, but when I studied ASL the movement of the wrist from 9 to 10 was the only "shaking" going on, if you were just saying 10 you'd move the thumb back and forth a bit, hardly shaking it.

Reference to pumpernickel and Humperdinck? Fun German words. The Erie were pretty far from Saskatchewan, the Cree right in it (and Alberta).

42A was my favorite pairing of all and 21A second. There's some symmetry there. Liked 25 and 3D as well. BETA releases of software generally go only to people who know what they're doing with software to report back on. It's not like the answer is new in the NYT puzzle.

Humans like to anthropomorphize, so many think it's cow farts when, actually, it's mostly cow burps. I did not know about astatine, what an amazing piece of trivia.

Happy Saturday.

Nancy 11:23 AM  

So I now see from the comments that...

TOM is the opposite of HEN as in TOM the male turkey. Not unfair after all.

That the "shaken thumb" is a TEN in ASL, not a TEE as I had written in. So it's NEKO CASE, not EEKO CASE. And that's the problem with names like NEKO CASE. Who would know? Who would care?*

*Don't give me a hard time, everyone. There will be some people here who do know and who do care. There always are :)

J F Norris 11:37 AM  

I agree. Hated this one. After 45 minutes of struggling to fill in 50% the entire right side was still almost completely blank. I resorted to Googling way too much. I looked up rare earth elements. Got LUTETIUM to fit but had to erase AND and YES which, of course, were correct. That messed me up for a long time. GOTTABOUNCE shows too much influence of movie script writing and comic book speak. I don’t think it’s a pun at all. It’s just a bad use if “security guard” to mean “bouncer” in a bar. I never think of ID checkers or bouncers as security guards. Security guards everywhere else have nothing to do with “bouncing”. Ugh. I’m way too old for some of these references. Sometimes I long for Maleska’s more literary and dictionary style clueing. On the plus side I easily solved clues that the majority of people here are whining about. So even if I cheated by A-Googling for seven clues I feel redeemed having filled in JAMAICANRUM within the first five minutes. And GRETEL should have been a two word clue — Witch killer — instead of that wordy giveaway.

turkeyneck 11:42 AM  

Echo every one of Parker’s “Things,” especially the clueing gripes. Figured I was doomed from the NE but got Jamaican Rum from the penultimate “U.” Chiba was the final brick after I corrected GSEX to GSIX. Whew!

Masked and Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Feisty with a capital EEK. And also definitely a capital HAR.

Didn't know: NEKOCASE. ASTATINE [Thin Man pooch poker?]. CHIBA. Otherwise, frosty-cool fillins.
Not totally sure I'd go for my apple pie TRES CHIC, tho.

Some fun, near-double-?? clues in this puppy. One fave was: {How a security guard might say goodbye?} = GOTTABOUNCE. Ok, yep … that'll work, if the security guard is a bouncer at a nightclub, or somesuch.

staff weeject pick: WII. U could say it is part of the SE's gorgeous wii-ject stack, so I will. Honrable mention to NEU, with it's sneaky all-kraut clue.

Thanx for gangin up on us, KD & EA. It was TWINKLY good and STINKLY HARd. The nanoseconds *all* feared for their short lil lives.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Sometimes extraordinarily clever, sometimes unfair (with you on "Light" and the "?" or "no-?" clues), and sometimes too obscure to be fun; but I did learn some things.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

100% NATICK puzzle. such a puzzle isn't a measure of a constructor's skill but just venom.

Joe Dipinto 11:52 AM  

@Southside Johnny – Au contraire, the group started as The Four Lovers and then became The Four Seasons (name taken from a bowling alley). DJs sometimes referred to them as Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, but that was never their official name.

RONNIE/JAMAICAN RUM was my entry point on this thing (@Roo, Rhonda was the Beach Boys the following year), and that corner fell pretty easily. I MET SOMEONE doesn't strike me as much of a "post-match report" without some juicy details, but whatever. I put GIGS for CIGS at first, thinking it was kind of uncharitable to imply that acting isn't a real job.

Lower down I was proud of getting ASTATINE off a few letters. I couldn't decide between CRAN and ORAN for the juice portmanteau, since frankly OHIBA sounded more convincing as a Japanese city (especially with ORAN being a city name as well). That was definitely an invitation to Natick.

The NW fell last – RYE was the only immediately obvious answer there, but finally I realized EYETEETH and remembered NEKO CASE.

So all in all a good workout for Saturday, if slow going in spots.

Fun fact: the opera "Hansel And Gretel" was composed by the original Engelbert Humperdinck. Another "Ronnie" song.

Adam 12:11 PM  

Tough Saturday - but enjoyable! MANIC before PANIC (raises hand). I had bits and pieces in the top half (RYE, HEIRS, COBRA (which I did this morning), NAT, USE, and the T for "Biblical verb", but man did I have trouble. Got SEATO and WRAP PARTY to help get the SE, and then M/PANIC, LIARS, CAR COAT, and the SW fell. But climbing up through the middle to the top half was grueling. Finally got BOSOX and G-SIX at pretty much the same time. Wanted HEAD BANGS, but couldn't figure out how it worked. Then realized "Do" was a noun and HEAD BANDS fit right in. I wanted IRISH STOUT for the Dark part of the Dark & Stormy (I'm surely thinking of another drink but can't think of what it is), but finally realized it was JAMAICAN RUM and the rest of the puzzle fell into place. GOTTA BOUNCE is awful - not punny, not cute, not anything anyone would say, and why a "Security guard"? Bouncers bounce; security guards . . . guard. Blech.

But a really fun, challenging puzzle. Nicely done!

Anonymoose 12:20 PM  

The Mystics PANDA is named PAX.

I don't want to start trouble but this occurred to me: "Beaner" caused quite a kerfuffle some months back but "JIG" gets nary a mention.

BJD 12:39 PM  

The clue on BETARELEASE should have been 2 words (patch work) then it almost makes sense.

Gorelickingood 12:39 PM  

Southside Johnny -- It says "4 Seasons" on the "Ronnie" 45 and the 45 sleeve. I mean, that's how the band styled its own name on its own release.

jb129 12:47 PM  

I started out excited to see Erik & Kevin together thinking "ok, this is gonna be easier & definitely more satisfying than I thought" & I smiled.

Maybe I got too cocky.

Turns out (for me anyway) this was harder than I thought. I was so disappointed (in myself) not being able to finish. That rarely happens to me with these constructors .... guess it was a Saturday. But my smile has disappeared :(

Perry 12:53 PM  

I am angry and I am going to stay angry for a while that "Dairy Farm Product" is METHANE. There are so many other ways that they could have gotten to that fill. That's not so much a hard clue/fill combo as it is a colossal 'f**k you!' on the part of the constructor. I had MILKFAT, which is a typical dairy farm product, for quite a while and that really screwed me up.

Mary McCarty 1:00 PM  

Tres difficile for me: I thought a lot of the clues were just off enough to warrant a smh, instead of an “ah” or “doh”: among them, TRES CHIC, BOUNCE ( not exactly the same as a security guard), BETA (PATCHedWORK would have been more accurate and still punny). Ashamed it took me so long to get SANCTA, seeing how I’m a retired Latin teacher and all, but I’ve never seen SANCTum SANCTorum used in English in the plural. And since no one else mentioned it (I think) here’s the info on stamp PANES from Linn.com:
“Sheets usually comprise two to 12 (or more) panes. Panes are the units into which sheets are divided before delivery to the post office for sale. Many recent United States commemorative stamps, for example, have been produced in 240 stamp sheets that were divided into 12 panes of 20 stamps each.”

What? 1:06 PM  

Great example of what a puzzle shouldn’t be. A combination of trivial pursuit/obscure fills. Horrible.

jberg 1:10 PM  

I spent a few days in Saskatchewan once, for a wedding, so I know where it is -- not in Erie territory, but up there you've got either CREE or CRow for your 4-letter First Nations. I just put in CR and waited. (Incidentally, @Joaquin, the major industry there is bismuth mining; don't know if they can sort it by isotope, though).

AMOS Tutuola was a gimme, I've read quite a bit of Nigerian fiction. OTOH, I'd never heard of NEKO CASE. I thought rock was supposed to be dead, but I guess nothing dies anymore. I had to look her up, along with ASTATINE, so this is either a DNF or a 'finished-with-duck-duck-go,' depending on your scoring system.

I actually take supplements to help my THYROIDS produce more energy, but I couldn't get it -- ATP was too short, mitochondria too long, and when I finally figured out WII, I figured they were steROIDS. Fortunately at about that point my wife the biochemist got out of the shower and knew it immediately. That gave me COMMISH and WRAP PARTY (originally wanted green room, but decided that was too much of a stereotype of actors), but until then I'd been ready to go with LOW FAs-- that clue was pretty contorted.

My daughter-in-law grew up in CHIBA; she left as soon as she could, and as far as I know has never gone back -- but that was enough to let me know it was a city, in addition to a region. But otherwise it would certainly have been a Natick. The only other cities I know on Tokyo Bay are Tokyo (ruled out be the clue) and Yokohama, way too long.

I guess there were enough crosses to get ASTATINE and NEKO CASE, so I'll call this very tough but more or less fair.

I think BETA RELEASE is a trick clue -- it's a release that is meant to accumulate patchwork, so that the final release can be less buggy.

@Loren, my kids ended up in a private elementary school that was almost all PBL (they did memorize the multiplication tables); it was great for them. But the whole school had 70 students at most (1-6), and the teachers spent endless hours meeting, planning, etc. And they had all been hired because they wanted to do it (certainly not for the pay).

CDilly52 1:23 PM  


Ethan Taliesin 1:35 PM  

Three minutes in I realized I was going to have to cheat.

Reluctantly, I checked a few answers I had typed in but was unsure of, and I was mostly right but it did not really open it up.

Then, I straight-up cheated on a couple of short answers...

Then, feeling like an idiot who's wasting too much time, cheated on a couple of long answers. This was a disaster for me today.

I'm going to go do some laundry now-- something I know I'll be able to finish on my own.

Rex, if you did this under 12 minutes without looking anything up I'm very impressed.

Yes, I also had MANIC at first.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Hardest puzzle I've solved in a long while, nearly doubling my regular Saturday time. Loved the clever cluing. More like this one, please!

AdamW 1:40 PM  

Rex missed the "e.g." in the PANDA, as did many others, and myself at first. But once I saw it, I realized it wasn't looking for the proper name of the mascot, but a type... most likely a type of animal. Boom

Nick D 2:21 PM  

Very good, very hard puzzle. Didn't even mind how painful it was at times because the cluing was so fun. Probably the longest I've spent on a puzzle that I actually finished without cheating--just under an hour, about half of which was spent in the NE. Always thrilled to see Neko Case's name. Or hear her music.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

I am angry and I am going to stay angry for a while that "Dairy Farm Product" is METHANE

many people say that's what causes climate change, which is also a hoax. and we don't need more efficient cars since they aren't the problem.

Frantic Sloth 2:33 PM  

I was too stoopit for this puzzle and had to use the Google more than once so I wouldn't spend the entire day on it. *sigh*

Unknown 2:57 PM  

Why feel bad? It was a fun tough puzzle and you didn't fly thru in no time? And thus wrote very nice column. This is bad why?

I loved methane clue. Great fun, informative for a boderline vegetarian.

Mr. Grumpypants 3:01 PM  

After an unusual run of acceptable puzzles, this one reminded me why I dislike Agarad's offerings. C*** crossing who gives a d***? Astatine? No. No. No.

Kathy 3:17 PM  

I’m late to the blog party today...As I entered my third hour, with about two-thirds of the puzzle completed, my husband read out some of the Rexworld comments that didn’t contain hints. The fact that so many esteemed bloggers (special shoutout to @LMS) agreed that this one is a beast and that Rex deemed it challenging, taking him over ten minutes to complete, actually kept me from throwing in the towel. I wanted to be in the big leagues. Otherwise I would have quit at this point and let my husband feed me some clues.

So first I took a break, since the weather is finally pleasant—out with the autumn and in with the Christmas decorations on my front porch, gotta do something besides being a couch potato all day. Then I came back with fresh eyes to soldier on..and on and on..

Back to the puzzle. Wanted timeRELEASE for the patchwork, as in meds, but applaud the BETA misdirection.
Wanted mew; I don’t get how EEK is truly onomatopoeic.
2000s rock singer was symmetrically balanced with 1960s, yielding equal opportunity, so no complaints are warranted. Boomer here knew Ronnie (oh Ronnie) early on. True, the Four Seasons were not a band. Also true, I didn't like the song.
Headbands? Oh, thanks, Rex, do as a noun.
Clomp? Seems like the opposite of hit one’s stride.
Then, voila! TRESCHIC!
But what is that ASL word? It will have to be a guess, not many letters fit TE_. Because, of course I don’t know that 2000s rock singer. I stopped listening to most new music in the nineties, roughly after Nirvana. I’m an old rocker. Or classical, or jazz, or sacred music—just about anything written before the turn of the century. No apologies.
Can someone explain PANES? Are these the little glassine folders that stamps are stored in? Oh, thanks @Mary McCarty for what they really are!
Shout out to @Nancy on the tableau of tools of the constructor’s trade!

I finally had to relent to accepting help; otherwise this could become an addiction that consumes entire days. I got close, though—finished in a little over three hours with just a teensy helping of hints at the end from my husband. This experience was so worth it! It’s one of the best puzzles I’ve done in my brief time with this new pursuit.

Gorelickingood 3:23 PM  

You just know what when some one the folks who comment here walk into their regular neighborhood spots, the staff says ".....and here we go."

Carola 3:43 PM  

Wow, was this hard for me! I didn't time it, but I know it was over an hour...and I still DNF (that HEN! @Hi, Nancy).

- Did okay on: JAMAICAN RUM and its drop-down edges (JIGS, AMO; UNCAGE, MEETS), but couldn't get the chewy center of that area; PANDA, CIGS, CREE, OGLE. Then it was a square-by-square commando-crawl struggle.
- Help from previous puzzles: NEKO CASE, WRAP PARTY, PANES.
- Those "Do loops" - really wanted "spit curls."
- Blast from the past: When I was in high school, CAR COATs were the thing to have. I didn't realize they had a more antique origin.
- Do-overs: mANIC x mani, Toot.

DalvinG 4:10 PM  

I have to complain... A Dark ‘n’ Stormy (the correct spelling of the name) is only made with rum from Bermuda, not Jamaica. If it isn’t made with Gosling Black Seal rum, it’s not a Dark ‘n’ Stormy. They have legal precedent behind it.

Mohair Sam 4:21 PM  

Few of you know that the 4 Seasons released a song in the early 60's entitled "Connie-O". Unfortunately I remember the tune, you have no idea how much time that cost us. RONNIE indeed.I

"Connie" a much more pleasant song btw.

Hungry Mother 4:31 PM  

Quite the slog. I kept DOing LOOPS around the board, remembering that my son used to be a BOUNCEr at a local bar when in college, culling my software engineering past for BETA testing causing patching, and sounded out cries, until I got it done with no cheating but taking a good bit of my day. A very worthy challenge; almost fun.

Randy (Boulder) 5:07 PM  

That might have been the hardest puzzle I have completed. Well over an hour for me. Didn't help that I had never heard of NEKO CASE or CHIBA. Did know ASTATINE was an element, anyway.

At one point for "Light on packaging" I had IN BULK, which ... didn't help. Oof.

I have been doing Saturdays from the archive from the 2006-2009 era. Those are mostly as hard as or harder than this. Why have (regular) Saturdays gotten so much easier in the last N years?

Geezer 5:09 PM  

That's outrageous. I hope Erik, Kevin, and the NYT get sued.

albatross shell 5:14 PM  

I have my grandmother's STEROSCOPE, the kind with the wooden handle that folds down and the heavy-duty double shot postcards with a lot of travel shots from all around the world. Had an uncle who sold them to put himself through college. At one time as part of the sales pitch he had the camera for taking the pictures. You could get one photo at your home and it would be developed and sent to you as part of your order. The one my grandparents had done was a photo of my mom sitting in front of the living room fireplace. 1303 Belle Ave. Lakewood OH.

I looked up CHIBA and NEKOCASE after a few crosses did nothing for me. My only lookups. I made a lot of guesses that turned out be right with few if any crosses: RYE LIARS CECE CARCOAT FIREAWAY ALARMSYSTEM JIGS THYROIDS JAMAICANRUM ITSGONE SEATO GSIX. Some came very very slowly TRESCHIC HENS HEIRS COMMISH METHANE CLOMP IMETSOMEONE. GOTTABOUNCE I saw but never thought it was right. BETARELEASE I filled in, but had no idea what a BETARE LEASE or BET A RELEASE was about. And even never got the W for TWINKLY crossing WRAPPARTY. Ouch.
If this was a hard Saturday I did quite well by my standards. Almost nailed it. Got most of ASTATINE from when it was in last. Same constructor?

Randy (Boulder) 5:15 PM  

Per wikipedia, a pane of stamps is the unit that is intended to be sold at the PO. Stamps in a pane are connected via perforated edges.

Stamps are printed in sheets. There can be multiple panes per sheet.

We have now exhausted my knowledge of philately.

Richardf8 6:05 PM  

I’ll try, since I smiled when I got it. A security guard at a club would be the Bouncer. Gotta Bounce has also become a trendy way of saying I have to go. So a Security Guard at a club might need to “Bounce” someone from the club, stopping his interaction with you to do so.

DavidL 6:58 PM  

I know it's late, but just in case the constructors are still checking in here: Bravo. Brutal but so, so satisfying when I changed the "o" to "i" to get GSIX (changing "Wedged on" to WEDGED IN) and hearing that beautiful jingle, after 43 minutes and 33 seconds of struggle and delight.

Z 7:23 PM  

@Preferred Customer - Thanks. I’d forgotten those ads. I will opine that, while the target is Apple, the ads actually land their digs on Apple customers. Not sure that’s the best strategy to draw customers away from Apple.

@kitshef - “It’s going...going... IT’S GONE.” or “It could be...it might be... IT’S GONE.”

@Southside Johnny and others - 31:12 here and I’d say I’m a B-Minus solver at best. This thing would have defeated me not that long ago. Keep on doing them and these challenging puzzles become ever more doable.

@SJ Austin - Updog is a yoga pose.

@BG - G SeX - Does that involve looking for the G-Spot? Best wrong answer of the day.

Anonymous 9:27 PM  

@kitshef - “It’s going...going... IT’S GONE.” or “It could be...it might be... IT’S GONE.”

never once have I heard an announcer say "IT's gone", only "gone". usually followed by "A Home Run!!!"

Photomatte 12:17 AM  

There aren't many gimmes in a Saturday puzzle but 44D was a breeze. I lived right on Tokyo Bay for two years and, although my address was still Tokyo, Chiba was literally one train stop away. The rest of the puzzle was Saturday-hard, for sure.

Laura Taylor Kinnel 7:39 AM  

Your write ups always bring me joy @LMS—thanks! And this one I particularly connected to: “. . .ugly hour or so that I stared at all the white, penciling in wrong stuff, erasing, adding desperate final S’s, erasing some more” described my experience exactly, and more succinctly and humorously than I could have. My app says an hour and 13 minutes, but politely omits that it was over the course of 24 hours.

Tip I recently learned (actually in one of those PD PowerPoints, but this one was super useful): You can use a can opener on that hermetically sealed toothbrush package.

Also, great closing line to bring your post/essay full circle :-)

Unknown 9:09 AM  

What you said

Giskarrrd 6:41 PM  

I usually don’t do Saturday puzzles as they are just way too hard for me still. But feeling confident after figuring out the “gimmick” of Thursday’s puzzle for the first time ever, and finishing Friday’s puzzle without cheating, I felt adventurous :)

It really didn’t matter though... I didn’t get more than a (small) handful of words.

I still have a hard time figuring out how people make the mental jump from “á la mode” to TRES CHIC. I learned what EYE TEETH are (had never heard the term used before) and can really appreciate how this puzzle was constructed reading Rex’ review and all of your comments, but it’s too step of a hill for me!

Natron602 9:58 AM  

At first pass, I only had JAMAICAN RUM. Didn't have any in the house though so I poured an Irish whiskey for the down clues. I guess I'm not one of the smart people today so I'll only watch Wheel of Fortune tonight and just skip Jeopardy. Then I had a break...I cane here and got just a few answers. Enough to jump start me. Went back through and behold ... forget Wheel I'm watching Entertainment Tonight or something. So I come back for a few more answers.... and realize none of these make any sense. I copy the whole thing and now I'm going to Tivo the Kardashians for the rest of the week.

spacecraft 11:30 AM  

Well, you did it. You beat me, guys. I never got off the ground. Forget DNF: I DNS this one! I literally had ISAIDSO and OGLE--and not a thing else. Dark and Stormy is a drink? I wouldn't know. Kept trying to fit STAMP into 24 down. PANES? Yes, I get it; I remember now that I see it: sheets of stamps are called PANES. But to get that from the clue? I couldn't. GOTTA BOUNCE?? Never heard of it. Here's a cute one: "Post-match report" for IMETSOMEONE. "Report." Like, you're reporting the bad news. Did anybody on Earth get that from the clue? Yougottabekiddingme.

bapbam 12:29 PM  

Clomp for hit stride? And not only men ogle. Grrr.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

I seem to recall a visit to Chiba where too many Dark & Stormy's were consumed, resulting in a bad trip over an unseen pile of astatine left on the sidewalk.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

What the hell are glops? I've heard of slop(s) but glops. Really? Surprised no one else commented on this. Auto correct keeps trying to change it to flops.

thefogman 2:38 PM  

Tough, tough, tough. Devilishly tough. But I did it!

Burma Shave 5:03 PM  


to BETA test my WII machine -
no ALARM no PANIC no cry "EEK!",


Diana, LIW 5:06 PM  

Got a lot. Missed a lot.

I'm not a kid anymore.

Diana, Lady. oh you know the rest

Diana, LIW 5:09 PM  

Yes, @Spacey, I did get the Match(.com) report on meeting "someone."

GOTTA BOUNCE (long known slang

Lady Di

rondo 5:27 PM  

Challenging for sure, but write-overs were at a minimum - Toot before TEAR and anna and elle before CECE (must read clues carefully).The ESE is really where things got going.

If you had been streaming 89.3 The Current for the last 15 years (as of next week) you would certainly know of yeah baby NEKOCASE.

Did I like the workout? YES!

rainforest 5:28 PM  

Huge triumph points for me on this one. I just stuck with it after being stuck in many places. Things like BETA RELEASE, COMMISH, GOTTA BOUNCE really were almost complete blocks.

However the NW was relatively easy, or at least quick. Guesses on TRES CHIC and EYE TEETH were the key there. Likewise, the SE went pretty quickly as I knew ASTATINE (did a paper on that in 4th year Chem) and the bottom three acrosses made me give up TOP-something and "see" COMMISH.

Most of the rest came painfully slowly, as BETA RELEASES (don't even know what they are) appeared. PANDA was a guess, but then I got GOTTA---, and just plugged away at that. I don't even think a bouncer or security guard would ever say that. Finally, JAMAICAN RUM gave it away.

Uber tough, but a satisfying finish.

fritz 9:15 PM  

I lived in Hawaii for a while and watched a lot of Japanese language TV shows with subtitles. There was one about a teacher and his class. A boy and a girl ran away together, romantically. The teacher found them and brought them home. One of the students asked the group,"How far did they go?". Meaning, sexually. Another student said"They got to Chiba". The other students grinned at his naivete. I thought that was pretty funny, so I am familiar with Chiba.

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